Last set for now, unless someone submits something that particularly piques my interest.
Incidentally, I've taken down the EarthDance links for the time being so I can revamp and overhaul some of the content. This is temporary but necessary. Again, as I have been asked by several more people since I last posted about it, I am not starting a class in the immediate future--the absolute earliest will be March, and that's looking doubtful at the moment. I'll spread the word as soon as I have an update.
Anyway, on to the questions:
Do you have a day job? If so, what is it?
I answered this one here, in the last set of SAQs. The answer's still the same, and likely to remain so for quite a while.
Do you have any daily spiritual practices? If so, what are they?
As much as I'd like to say that I get up every morning early and have an hour of uninterrupted meditation and prayer, well, this is the real world and I'm not a monk, so my spiritual practices change according to how my life changes. A spirituality that always stays the same is in my opinion doomed to at worst stagnation and at least boredom, and as Wicca is a living, vibrant religion, I try to let my practices be as organic as they need to be, changing with the seasons and sometimes with the weather.
Every day I do something that is part of my spiritual path. I try to make time for at least a moment of reflection in front of my altar each day, but that's not all I do; I walk among the trees, I dance, I clean house, I have sex, I work with my Runes and Faery Oracle, I greet the gods when I arise in the morning, I pray over meals...if you're familiar with my work at all you know that I believe any act can be a part of our spiritual practices, if done with the correct attention and intention. To me it's far more important to bring my religion into every activity, even if that means focusing on something different every day, than extending the amount of time I can sit in the lotus position. Sitting meditation is a great and ancient tool, but it's not the end-all-be-all, especially in a culture that encourages us to be sedentary; sometimes stillness of the mind must be found through the movement of the body, hence my love for ecstatic dance.
What is your favorite vegan cookbook?
I have several, but they're all by the same authors: Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. Their Vegan With a Vengeance is fantastic for everyday food, and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World is probably the most phenomenal cookbook in the history of ever. Just ask anyone I've made cupcakes for, especially the Tiramisu, or the Gingerbread cupcakes with lemony cream "cheese" frosting. Recently the duo published the Veganomicon, which so far is proving just as awesome as their previous work; in addition to the recipes it includes a lot of how-to, such as how to prepare all sorts of vegetables, and how to outfit your kitchen to take over the world with your fantastic vegan cooking.
Have you seen Juno? thoughts?
Nope. It didn't really interest me all that much, but given the reviews it's gotten I'll probably Netflix it eventually.
Do you share your personal blog with the "public"? I'd love to read more on other life subjects (like veganism) that you said you blog more about there.
I don't exactly make it public, but it's out there on LiveJournal for anyone to find if they search for it. It's a Friends-Only journal so you have to have an LJ account to access it, but I'll Friend pretty much anyone who doesn't scare me.
How do you deal with the emotional drain that comes from always being the one that everyone turns to and the disappointment of being unable to have them recognise their own potential which is obvious to everyone but them? Do you ever give up the role of "teacher", or do you sometimes just step out of God's way and let them suffer the karmic blast alone?
This sounds like it came from someone with negative experience in this area.
I've had some unfortunate teaching experiences, mostly due to, well, crazy people. Teaching runs a fine line between being responsible for the education of your students and needing to stand back and let them chart their own course. I only teach a small group of students at a time (at present I have three), so I become very attached to them, and care a lot about their progress and their lives.
At the same time, though, what they do with what they learn in my classes isn't something I can control; nor would I want to. The relationship they have with the gods is not my business--I try to instill in them a sense that it's their responsibility to develop and nurture that relationship, and also to deal with the fallout if they don't hold up their end of the deal. I talk about my own experiences, give suggestions on how to cultivate such a relationship, but I can't force them to follow those suggestions or do anything at all. I let them know that if they need help, someone to talk to, someone to bounce ideas off of, I'm available. I try not to leave them completely in the lurch after the class has ended, though of course they're free to go their own way.
The truth is, I haven't really been disappointed by my students thus far, at least not for the listed reasons. There are always hard decisions to make, especially when a student is being a disruption to the class or refusing to do the work involved--but most of the time students who aren't ready for the class tend to winnow themselves out. My brand of Wicca isn't for everyone.
What does frustrate me is when I devote my time and energy to teaching someone who then goes on to act as though they didn't listen to a word I said, either about ethics, or personal responsibility, or spiritual development. As I said, I have no control over what they do outside my class, but it does hurt to see one's attempts at healing turned to harm, or at least to negligence. But I try to put myself in their place and understand where it comes from--I of all people have no business judging someone for not seeing their own potential. I've had damaged self-esteem my whole life, and it gives me compassion for others who suffer the same wounds.
I don't consider myself a great teacher; I've made quite a few mistakes, and my interpersonal skills are lacking, but I like to think I get better each time. Teaching, like leading a group or doing any sort of clergy work, is draining, period. The responsibility and the energy required are the primary reasons I don't teach more than one class at a time (or generally more than one a year); it's a big burden to shoulder alone, and it's not something anyone should do unless they feel called. We all have our gifts and our talents to contribute to the larger world, and not everyone should teach just because they've been Pagan for however many years. It's a form of loving, but there are thousands of ways to love and all are worthy.