Pagan Army Mom: My journey's thoughts and benchmarks

Over the last three years, our son has gone from an urban homeschooler to fulfilling his dream as a Soldier. It's been a wild ride, and there is so much more awaiting him. As a mom, I keep tabs on what's going on in the world, what he may be going through, what he may endure and how it may affect the rest of us civilians. And as a Pagan, I also like to learn from others who are or have served to understand their perspectives, victories and struggles. From what I learn, I share with others and have been faithfully doing so every week.

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Lori Dake

Lori Dake

Lori Dake is native Chicagoan, a wife and mother to one and works in real estate leasing apartments. Things she enjoys are heavy metal, being a foodie (mostly vegetarian), camping, writing and painting.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
What is your greatest hope for 2014?

As 2013 draws to a close, there’s a good deal to reflect upon. Many members of our Community have passed on, relationships have changed and babies have been born. Within the military, quite a few changes have occurred as well. In February, the retiring Defense Secretary Leon Panetta extended gay benefits to service members and their families as best he could due to DOMA still being on the books at the time. And when DOMA was repealed in June, the Pentagon was able to use the words marriage and spouse with the inclusion of gay and lesbian couples. Sadly, it took until last month overseas  military installations were open for things such as ration privileges due to where they were stationed, such as in South Korea. And too, while many more states, even Utah, are now marriage equality states, it is still not enough to make marriage equality federally recognized as the law of the land (read: Constitutional amendment).

Also, I would be amiss if I failed to mention other forms of equality within the military, especially pertaining to women. Not only are women open to train for full-fledged combat positions (though we won’t see women in direct Infantry until probably 2016), but also, rape and assaults within the military are finally being taken seriously. Men and women who have been attacked are reporting at an all-time high, which may actually be a good thing for a couple of reasons: For one thing, victims feel justice will actually be served instead wrapped in red tape, so they are reporting them. And for another, the reports that do occur are actually making it onto official ledgers to be counted.

For our veterans however, pension trimming is still in the works. While it’s true the compensation is bloated, as people live longer and more families have dealt with unfathomable losses, it is my opinion those who were promised cost of living increases should be grandfathered in. That’s what people signed up for. Yes, veterans are able to retire before their 40th birthdays, which doesn’t look good to the bean counters on paper, but the 20 (and more!) years these men and women served are deserving of every penny. And I say that across the board, even for those who since have moved on to lucrative civilian careers or even won the lottery. It’s no different than Social Security; you put into it, you get out of it, whether or not you can afford to live without it.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Do our beliefs call us to be unconditional?

Good morning everyone and welcome back! How are you handling the Mercury retrograde? It's been a total pain in the rear for me, so I won't be sad to see it completely dissipate, shadow and all, come Thanksgiving. During these times, we're not supposed to really start anything, but how is that feasible? And in my line of work, helping people find new apartments, which includes preparing and signing leases, there is no such thing as taking a couple months off several times a year. So, I do the best I can with what I have, which is all anyone can ever ask.

I at least find comfort in knowing I'm not the only one who's been going through ups and downs: Misery loves company, doncha know. But at the same time, I don't wish misery on anyone, and boy howdy has there been a lot of that going on. Millions of Americans, which includes the elderly, the disabled and military families, on top of the biggest recipients - children - have seen their monthly food stamp allotments go down by around 5%. The healthcare website still isn't functional to the point some are saying to shut the site down all together until it's fixed. And, on top of everything else, many trick or treaters were rained out last week. Won't somebody please think of the children! Oh and yeah, flu season is back, and I'm wondering if it's going to be a mild one or severe. So really, what can we do? Again, do the best with what you have.

Anyone who knows me knows I'm big on advocating for preparedness, but I'm not talking about the extreme measures the people on TV take. I follow prepper websites and find a wealth of information in the comments; first-hand experiences are great to learn from, especially "what not to do" examples. But unfortunately, I also find a lot of misinformation, paranoia and proselytization, and sadly too, intolerance, bigotry and outright hatred on those very site sites. For example, there is a lady out in Utah who I love for her tried and tested food preservation tips. She's a smart woman who, when it comes to food, truly does make the best of what she has - always outdoing herself. However, I can't stand her extreme black and white views and the way she unapologetically judges people. I see a lot of "those people" comments, and it can be downright infuriating. The way I see it, life isn't black and white: There is a lot of gray area involved on top of a rainbow of colors.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Feeding the Needy through Pagan Pride

Good morning everyone and welcome back! And yes, I hope those of you who have the day off are having a relaxing Labor Day. We're getting ready to get our grill on, with one dish already prepared and a few others in priming stage. We always make too much when we grill, so we make sure what we make, we actually will eat the leftovers.

With that said, it's fitting to remind myself about the people who don't have the luxury of not liking leftovers. My dad would tell us stories of real hunger, like the time he sneaked out into the kitchen to eat a raw potato. I have my own stories too; some of which we had nothing to eat, times where a loaf of bread was dinner, the times where we triple checked the couch cushions so we could roll enough pennies for chicken pot pies, and yes, the times we, as a family with small children, would walk several miles to our uncle's pizza shop to beg him for a free pizza.

And oh my yes, let's not forget the donations we received from the food pantries. Sometimes it was okay, but oftentimes, the stuff we got was awful. There were always canned green beans (which, to this day, I can't stand - not even green bean casserole), canned pumpkin (WTF are we supposed to do with THIS?), a giant brick of government cheese (which I'll attest makes the best grilled cheese sandwiches ever), a huge box of powdered milk (even mixing it with real milk was still awful), that restaurant-sized can of peanut butter and a few other odds and ends. A good trip was when there were things included like the ever-popular favorite: Spaghettios. That was a special treat - something most American kids took for granted we never had on our own - and honestly, we did not savor eating it. Yes, we woofed it down and wanted more, and that was knowing full well that was something we wouldn't count on seeing again anytime soon.

Some people question why poor people are always poor, and I would like to provide a link to a couple articles that puts things into perspective in a way I never could have.



- The 5 Stupidest Habits You Develop Growing Up Poor

- 5 Things Nobody Tells You About Being Poor

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Unconditional love is pure magick

Hello everyone, and welcome back to another posting! And yes - Happy Lammas everyone! What plans do you have for today? For us, it's a special one, as our beloved furbaby made it to his thirteenth year after having a few scary moments. He's getting old, slowing down, sleeping more often, but there's still those times where he dances around and plays just like when he was a kitten.

So to make today a special day, I contacted my local supermarket to see if their sushi chefs would be willing to offer their art for him and make him a birthday "cake". I thought they'd think I was a crazy cat lady, but nope - they thought it would be a cool thing to do! So after I stop by the office to get my commission check, I'm paying them a visit. I'm thinking salmon and extra tuna. And yes, his vet said "people food" is okay as the occasional treat, as long as it's plain. So don't worry, it will be sans the ginger, wasabi and soy sauce. Oh, and his present - a new collar we special-ordered with the digital camo. (Stupid clothes! haha)

It has me thinking how much it must pain those fighting overseas must feel to be separated from their furbabies, too. And yes, the love is definitely mutual. We've all seen the videos countless times, of when someone returns home, and the families rejoice. The ones with the moms and the ones with the children are always wonderful, especially the surprise ones. But I will say, the ones where the dogs see them for the first time - those are always tear-jerker moments. Let's watch a few:

(I like the wait over two minutes in for the tail to start wagging. The anticipation was killing me!)

(In this one, the dog was only a pup when he left for Afghanistan, but oh yes, she remembers him alrighty!)

(And of course, this is the one everyone's talking about. Those whimpers and barks! "Don't you ever leave me like that again!")

The welcome homes for people is different. Even for children, it's different, because they can at least be told Dad is gone but will be cominghome. They can talk to them on Skype, write letters and make phone calls. For our animal companions, they don't know. So when Mom, or Dad, or Big Brother or Sister come home, the reunion is nothing short of beautiful - coming from sentient beings who give pure, unconditional love. It's that kind of love that can turn even the coldest heart warm.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
What I learned from PSG

Hello everyone, and welcome back to another posting! This month, I wanted to take some time to share with you all just a smidge of what I experienced at this year's Pagan Spirit Gathering. Honestly, I would need about twenty generalized categories to even come close to tapping on all the fun I had and knowledge gained, so it's a good thing I'm pretty narrowed down here.

One of the nice things about PSG, in comparison to other Pagan festivals I've attended, is the community love and support for our Warriors. At PSG, there are many areas dedicated for people to commune together, combining that reverence and mirth notion depending on the need. One of the areas, just past the entrance gate, is the Warriors Center. Each morning, active duty and retired military personnel gathered to meet with one another, with last Thursday morning being a special gathering: The Warrior Blessing Ritual.

I'm going to be completely honest here - I've been Pagan for nearly two decades, and I've never had that "peak moment" during rituals, in groups or alone, so many gleefully share. I joke it's because I'm like M&Ms with the hard candy shell but with the sweet center. I've never even been moved before during a ritual, at least not fully. Sure, there's been parts of rituals I've thoroughly enjoyed, and there have been many, many times where my spellcasting worked - sometimes a little too well. (Kind of like the time I really wanted to have a summer off, and I broke my ankle at work just before Memorial Day and collected workman's comp until the cast came off just past Labor Day. Fun times! Oh yes that was! Uh huh.). But this ritual, all I can say is WOW! There wasn't a dry eye in the house, and when I say I was moved, I'm talking that scene in Old Yeller.

I posted quite a few pictures this morning over at Pagan Newswire Collective, which you can see that article by clicking here. But what I would like to share here is the one on one time I got with many of the Warriors themselves - their stories and back stories.

One of the folks who led the ritual had served for 29 years, much longer than even required in order to retire with full benefits. Out of curiosity, I had asked him not so much why he served so long, but how he was able to do what he did while also honoring his beliefs. The simple answer I got was he separated the two to the best of his ability. Many of us separate our jobs from our home lives, as very few of us work where we live and vice versa. For me as a civilian, keeping a military career separate from my daily living seems like a daunting task to say the least. However, I can see how it might make things easier to compartmentalize, especially when the vocal majority in charge have been bad about being tolerant of anything other than evangelical Christianity during his service and even today.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_emb-551.jpgFor my inaugural article here at PaganSquare for the newly minted military section, I had a lot of ideas on which direction to take, but I couldn't quite decide where I wanted to set my focus. Some of you may be familiar with my writings on the Pagan Newswire Collective's Warriors and Kin in which I have been faithfully posting there each week for a little over three years. Sometimes, I ramble a bit (who am I kidding, I ramble a lot!), and sometimes I readily admit it's hard to come up with that hard-hitting journalism that seems to come naturally to so many other writers over at PNC and within the Pagan community as a whole. I call myself a hack, but I write from the heart, and I hope you enjoy what I offer.

So where did my mind wander for this article? Well, the last Monday in May is a national holiday – Memorial Day, which I found to quite apt. It is a holiday many Americans equate with the unofficial beginning of summer thanks to the rediscovered warm weather, complete with backyard barbecues. But it means something a whole lot more – an honoring, solemn day of remembrance for all those who have served and have passed.

For our Heathen brethren, this Memorial Day will mean something a little bit more, as the Veteran's Administration now officially acknowledges them by offering the Thor's Hammer emblem. Yes, this is another victory for Pagans as a whole, but just like how many people forget the meaning behind the holiday while they're enjoying charred burgers off the patio, many folks either forget or are unaware the way an emblem joins the list. You see, someone who has served has had to die and the next of kin makes the request. And that request, as many of us recall, can take several years, a lot of hand-wringing and plenty of petitions and calls to action.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Trine
    Trine says #
    What a lovely first post, I'm glad to see you here. I've never been in the service, nor have any of my immediate family or friends
  • Lori Dake
    Lori Dake says #
    Thanks Trine, Feel free to share your POV anytime. Outside of visiting Canada and Mexico as a kid, I've never been out of the cou
  • Stephanie Rodriguez
    Stephanie Rodriguez says #
    Well put, Lori. While we should all be able to share and celebrate our differences, the ultimate goal of equality is for them to b

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