Mecca, Past and Present!

Randomly today, from The Atlantic. I click over there about… once every two months? And that’s the cover story today, so it’s random to me.

How amazing! So, too, are the fun facts about Abraj Al-Bait.

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#Magicalmystical

Where would I be without Magical Vriz? Crazytown. My house is almost ready, and I can’t wait to post pics.

Let’s talk about body adaptation processes in the tropics. First, your bowel movements stop and/or speed up exponentially. Then, you’re just extra sweaty all the time forever. Clogged pores. My period this month (started yesterday) is just whacko–probably from moving back to the tropics, might be the nearly full moon, too. Good stuff? Basically immediately healthier skin and nails. Bye-bye, hangnails! Hair would be healthier if it weren’t for the chemically shampoos. Teeth are immediately dirtier because of disrupted flossing routine. (Okay, that’s probably just my own damn fault).

Can I just say, Miss V helped me get my salt lamp situated. I carried this beautiful 10-pound Himalayan salt lamp all the way from the US (checked for security purposes at Detroit and in Jakarta, pulled all the way out my damn bag), and after five minutes of being plugged in last week, the little lightbulb shorted out. Great! V bought me a replacement today, and I’m on cloud nine. She thinks I’m quite loony. Well, I am. But I need my therapeutic techniques for dealing with life on top of all the physical stresses of moving back to tropics-land!

Stare at the salt lamp. Work on my coloring. Keep blogging. Hang out with friends, in person and virtually. Get back into the workout routine. It’s hard transitioning back– feelings of guilt over leaving people behind, anxieties about finishing my research project and getting into the swing of work, jumping right into a whole mess of new things effectively immediately after getting off the plane… I’m so lucky to have such a strong support network here and to have been stubborn enough to bring my ‘silly little things’… essential oils, knitting supplies (most of which I probably won’t use), my banjo, my salt lamp, my special Mason jar, my dang French press (which made it, by the way– didn’t break!). The essentials, you know?

I’m glad I’m not as stubborn about “going without” as I used to be. Life can be very comfortable here.

 The Spiritual Practice of Menstruation: There is so much more to the menstrual cycle than the biology lesson given to explain it, in the same way that there is so much more to sex and childbirth than the mechanics. The menstrual cycle is a cycle to base your life around, in fact your life is based around your menstrual cycle whether you realise it or not, whether you pay attention to it or not. There is magic inherent in the menstrual cycle. Each cycle provides a woman with the opportunity to understand and read the messages her body gives her for any specific healing she needs. Each cycle creates the opportunity for as much spiritual growth and personal development that she could want. Before electricity, women ovulated when the moon was full, and bled when the moon was dark. The pineal gland in our brain sends messages to our ovary, by hormones, to release an egg based on the amount of light our brain senses in the night when we are asleep. At the point of most light in the night, the full moon, we are programmed to ovulate. Ovulating at the full moon means we bleed at the dark of the moon, the time when the energy is more inwardly focused anyway. The average menstrual cycle is the same as the lunation cycle 28 days. Not only are we meant to be synchronised with the moon phases, we are also meant to be synchronised with each other. If you know where you are in your cycle you can much more easily ‘go with the flow’ so to speak. You could even manage your life around it. Start new projects in the first and second week of your cycle. Express your creative urges. Have parties when you’re ovulating, finish off things in your third week. Stay home, and be on retreat when you’re bleeding. In this way you’ll actually be looking forward to your blood coming, and be ready ‘to let go’. The mysteries of the women’s blood by moonsong.com.au #women #power #sacred #feminine #yin #spiritual #wombman #shaman #mystic #menstruation #magic #embrace #blood #mystery #moon #cycle #weareone

A photo posted by Mystic Rebelle (@mysticrebelle) on Sep 11, 2015 at 1:01pm PDT

And now… more words!

A few things I didn’t get to say about the Idul Adha festivities yesterday…

I was texting about witnessing animal sacrifice with a few different people–Kate and Sarah Kate and one of the new Fulbright English Teaching Assistants.^ I find it strange that after over a decade of vegetarianism and pretty intense concern for animal welfare that I’m obsessed with going to witness the slaughter every year when Idul Adha comes around. I can’t not go see it, and I always take a bunch of pictures and get real up close and personal with the “gore”… without even flinching. I guess it just surprises me that it doesn’t shock me more?

There’s something beautiful about watching people watch what happens on Idul Adha. It’s not like all Javanese people are always respectful* of the animals all the time, by any means–I’ve seen people playing around with decapitated animal heads and making what I experience as inappropriate jokes considering a life was just taken–but it’s easy to respect the fact that they’re fully aware of and willing to witness what happens to animals when they become human food. I think being up close to it on a regular basis desensitizes people in some ways, and even though keeping an extreme distance from it as most Americans do ultimately serves the same purpose it seems somehow more ethical to face reality rather than avoid it. It’s nice to watch people be willing to at least recognize and acknowledge what happens.

I used to make myself feel guilty for being kind of obsessed with documenting and witnessing animal slaughter, like wow, that’s so gruesome and violent–why are you so into this? What sort of dark side of yourself is coming out here? I’ve come to the conclusion, though, that what attracts me to it is the ritual of it all and something more, well, what I called “basic instinct” when chatting with Kate and SK. It’s fascinating not because it’s violent but because it’s just… natural. Killing is just as much a part of life as dying and death are; as part of a complex system of predators and prey, the concepts of killing / being killed are ingrained somewhere deep within us and always were since before we could know of them. And I don’t think I can understand what pulls me to witness only by examining the thoughts that run through my head. It’s not (only) a gruesome fascination or an expression of the human proclivity for violence but must also be something more biological and instinctual; my body wants to know. Visceral: relating to deep inward feelings rather than to the intellect.

I can’t decide if I’m stating the obvious or actually getting onto something good. Maybe it’s time to rest for tonight… maybe more in the future on this topic.

Sam

^There are two in Malang! Hope to meet them soon!
*Of course, the process for and concept of showing respect varies from culture to culture… I think Americans tend to respect animals because they anthropomorphize them (and this habit can be traced to our affinity for keeping housepets), which is different from showing respect by using the whole body of the animal (if not “treating it right” as an American might think an animal corpse should be treated).

Eid al-Adha 2015

From BBC.co.uk because I’m lazy and have already written about this:

This is a four-day public holiday in Muslim countries.

The festival remembers the prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son when God ordered him to.

Ibrahim’s sacrifice

God appeared in a dream to Ibrahim and told him to sacrifice his son Isma’il. Ibrahim and Isma’il set off to Mina for the sacrifice.

As they went, the devil attempted to persuade Ibrahim to disobey God and not to sacrifice his beloved son. But Ibrahim stayed true to God, and drove the devil away.

As Ibrahim prepared to kill his son God stopped him and gave him a sheep to sacrifice instead.

Celebrations

Ibrahim’s complete obedience to the will of God is celebrated by Muslims each year.

Each Muslim, as they celebrate, reminds themselves of their own submission to God, and their own willingness to sacrifice anything to God’s wishes.

During the festival Muslims who can afford to, sacrifice domestic animals, usually sheep, as a symbol of Ibraham’s sacrifice. 

The meat is distributed among family, friends and the poor, who each get a third share.

As with all festivals there are prayers and also presents.

(This was my first attempt at uploading and posting a video. I’m going to try and do more–more in general and more of better quality.)

BRAIN POWER!

Guys, gals, and others– ya’ll, our brains are magical. I’m telling you, after two months’ worth of vacay from the land of Austronesian languages, my brain is all tuned in to things I apparently had blocked because of saturation earlier in the year. Whatever language acquisition switch was turned off is now back on!!! It’s fantastic!!

I’ve picked up a handful of Javanese words this week and a surprisingly basic Indonesian word that I should have already known for a long time. No note-taking necessary to memorize. I just heard the word several times in conversation and eventually asked about it. It used to be that I’d hear a new word once and immediately note it; now it seems I’m picking up frequently used words and isolating them in conversation (without even knowing their meaning yet)… reminds me of the initial phases of language learning, when single words popped out and I just had to latch on frequently-used-in-spoken-conversation words because I had no other way of building vocabulary outside of language class. DUH.* This is the natural way to learn language. It’s a shame that a saturation point exists, but I suppose it’s got something to do with our brains protecting themselves from imploding (or exploding) due to excessively firing neurons… or the body in general going into survival mode and allocating resources accordingly after a period of mild yet constant stress. Hmm.

Maybe this two month respite was just what I needed to cross over the language plateau I’d felt I’d reached, especially in terms of Javanese. Love that idea. Now, if I could only get past the point of being able to understand more (in both Indo and Javanese) than I can quickly and accurately produce…

Language and the brain from The Guardian.
HuffPost: How bilingualism boosts the brain.

Goodnight!

*Maybe I need to stop saying duh since I’m nearly 30?