October 2018 House of Rituals Pagan Subscription Box

I received my October Mini House of Rituals subscription box a few weeks ago and have already used the stuff from it, but I wanted to show you all what I got anyhow. Here is what came in the box:

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The theme this month was Samhain & Diving with Spirits. The package included a 3-card spread tarot reading cloth, 3 tarot cards chosen individually for each subscriber (I got The Lovers, The High Priestess, and the 3 of Wands cards), a tarot card reading guide, a book about various kinds of spirits and how to work with them, 2 silver candles, full moon incense, an old-fashioned pocketwatch, an antique photo, a sun/moon decorative tile, a chunk of rose quartz, and instructions.

When I do rituals I tend to kind of disregard the instructions and just do what feels right, so I used the materials to do a small altar spread honoring the spirit of Samhain and The Day of the Dead. I did keep the theme of past, present, and future and did feel that the 3 cards they sent me fit well! Here is an image of my finished altar spread:

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My personal interpretation of the 3 cards is as follows:

Past – The Lovers: Duality in my past spills over into my present.

Present – The High Priestess: A need for my subconscious to heal from the pain of the past so I can move on.

Future – 3 of Wands: Harmonious prosperity (hopefully a good result to my upcoming SSDI hearing?)

I mostly consider the Tarot a system that is fun and helps you get in touch with your own inner thoughts, feelings, desires, and needs through meditation, so I don’t necessarily try to use it to “predict the future”, but if it wants to tell me the future looks good, I will accept that!

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Review of Netflix’s “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”

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Last night I watched the first episode of the new Netflix series The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, based on the comic books that also inspired the 90’s tv show Sabrina the Teenage Witch. I was a big fan of the 90’s show, so I have been waiting with excitement to check out the new series, however, after watching the first episode, it is clear that this new version is much, much darker and less light-hearted than the older tv show!

I do like the new show so far, so I am not necessarily complaining, but I want to warn everyone that if you are looking for something similar to the Melissa Joan Hart Sabrina, you will not find that! I was initially a little bummed that Salem doesn’t really talk in this version, but I think it actually fits better into the show considering how somber this show is compared to the previous one.

I do like the actress they cast as Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka). I’m not huge on Ross Lynch playing Harvey, but maybe that is just because every time I see him I still see Austin from Austin & Ally. I felt like they did try to find actresses who resembled the 90’s versions of Aunt Hilda and Aunt Zelda, although Zelda is not nearly as likeable and is kind of mean instead of just serious and scholarly like the older adaptation. I do enjoy the character of Ambrose quite a bit and feel it was a good addition.

I have seen some viewers complain about the satanism elements included in this new show, and I can see why some people would find that upsetting, although it doesn’t bother me personally. Although, as someone interested in paganism and Wicca, I hope that viewers of this show don’t start thinking everyone into witchcraft is into satanism – a stereotype that has already existed far too long.

I do plan to watch the rest of the series and enjoy it, but as more of a horror/dark fantasy series than a comedy or silly teenage drama.

October 2018 Cryptid Crate & Halloween Swap Box!

I wanted to share a few fun things I got in the mail yesterday. First, is the October Cryptid Crate Lite subscription box. This is actually the last month I will be getting this box because I had to choose only 2 at a time and there are two others that I have been enjoying even more. I still love Cryptid Crate though and wish I could subscribe to all the boxes I want! Here is what I got this month:

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I was happy to get a Bigfoot t-shirt! I was hoping to get one from the subscription box! This Bigfoot Xing shirt is a special edition only available from Cryptid Crate. They also sent a Sasquatch Field Guide which helps you identify signs of Sasquatch activity in the wild, a little bottle of Big Foot Hair (supposedly from real live Bigfoots lol), and some handmade, pumpkin spice scented Bigfoot soap.

I also received another package yesterday, which was a Halloween swap box I have been doing for years with my friends and fun, creepy YouTubers, JekyllHydeClub. We share a passion for all things dark and creepy and especially for Halloween! Here is what they sent:

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I love everything they sent, but some of my favorites are the little spiderweb pet costume, the black bird skeleton, the socks, and all the jewelry. I know the jewelry is a little hard to see in the photo above, so here is a little bit of a closer view:

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I think my favorites of the jewelry are the unique pink ring that looks almost like a crystal ball with liquid in it, the black cat ring, the cat/witch’s broom necklace, and the red bracelet with the black crow and skull. The little charms will be fun to make my own unique jewelry with too!

YA Book Review: “Without Tess” by Marcella Pixley

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“Without Tess”, written by Marcella Pixley, is one of the best YA novels I have read in a while. I rarely give books five stars when rating them, but this one I did. The story revolves around the main character (Lizzie), and her dead sister (Tess). Lizzie is the younger sister by a couple years and was only 10 when her older sister tragically passed away.

The real star of the novel is Tess. As you read through the book and relive vibrant memories Lizzie shared with Tess, you come to both love and sometimes dislike Tess. Tess was a true believer in magic. She was creative and passionate. She was both loving and loyal, but at times cruel and violent. She was mentally ill, and at times downright psychotic. This novel is a lifelike retelling of what it is like to grow up with an extremely mentally ill sibling. It addresses the love, the hate, the sadness, the pain, the rage, the guilt, and all the other emotions that come along with such a disturbing family dynamic.

I had a deeply personal connection with this book, both as someone who grew up with a mentally ill sibling, and someone who eventually lost that sibling, mostly due to that mental illness. At one point the book even made me tear up, which is extremely rare for any book to do. Definitely recommended!

September Cryptid Crate and Paper Kitty Subscription Boxes

This month I decided to try two new subscription boxes. I enjoy trying out various subscription boxes just to see what kind of stuff you get, and this month I tried out Cryptid Crate (which as you might have guessed, is a subscription box for those who love mythical monsters and other creatures of folklore) and Paper Kitty (a subscription box for those who love cute notebooks, bookmarks, postcards, stickers, pens, and other kinds of stationery).

Here is what I got for the Cryptid Crate box:

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I actually got the Cryptid Crate Lite option because it is cheaper than the full box, but was still happy with all I got! I love the Mothman t-shirt and pin, and the Bigfoot keychain and magnet were awesome as well! All together is was definitely worth more than the $20 I spent!

For the Paper Kitty subscription box, here is what I got:

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This box is around $17 including S&H. It is harder to judge the cost of stationery, but I still think it is worth it. I adore the Strawberry Milk themed pencil case, which feels like real leather! I also love two of the bookmarks (the Van Gogh and Anime Bunny ones). I’ve already used the animal stickers to create some new artworks, and the syringe highlighter and cute sheep/giraffe pen are great too! There are also three cute or decorative postcards, some bear sticky notes, a fox notebook, a plastic bear business card holder, and a few other little goodies.

I liked these boxes so much, I think I will stick with them for at least another month and see how it goes!

YA Book Review: ‘Stealing Heaven’ by Elizabeth Scott

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My favorite fiction genre is definitely YA. I’m not sure exactly why. Maybe I never grew up all the way? Maybe it is because teen fiction tends to be more emotionally raw than adult fiction? Maybe because the themes the genre most often explores (finding your personal identity, friendship, figuring out relationships, family dysfunction, etc.) are topics I still struggle with?

Regardless of the reason, I read a lot of YA fiction and yesterday I finished a book called “Stealing Heaven” by Elizabeth Scott, and I just wanted to say I loved this book in many ways. For one thing, the main character (Dani) has a family arguably more messed up than mine, which is hard to find lol. It is rare that I read a book which makes me grateful to have my past rather than theirs!

To sum up the book without spoilers, Dani is the daughter of two parents who got through life by being professional criminals (thieves who target rich households). Her father got caught and jailed long ago, so she has mostly grown up with her mother only. Dani doesn’t enjoy the thieving lifestyle like her parents do, but it is all she knows. She has never had any sort of security. Never been able to settle down anywhere, because her mother is always working on the next “hit job”.

Dani has never gone to school. She has never had a friend. She has only had one romantic encounter (which was honestly FUCKED UP). Dani hasn’t even been able to use her real name at any point in her life. She is adrift. However, as her mother plans yet another robbery, Dani makes a real friend for the first time and even more dangerously, she starts to fall for a cop! Can Dani find a way out of the criminal lifestyle that was forced upon her?

If you like chick lit, realistic fiction, or YA/Teen novels, I would definitely recommend giving this one a chance!

Dark Thoughts Inspired by Dostoevsky’s “Notes from Undergound”

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I’m currently reading Dostoevsky’s novel “Notes from Underground”, which is a somewhat satirical, but also brutally honest look at the shadow side that exists within us all, whether we would like to admit it or not. As I have been reading, I have found many ways that I can see a glimmer of myself within the neurotic narrator.

For example, like the character telling the story in the book, I too have often considered myself more intelligent and consciously aware than much of humanity. This sounds like pure narcissism, and perhaps it is in a sense, although I have often thought that at least the “awareness” part of it is not something we are born with (like IQ), but something that can be cultivated. However, not many take the time to truly question their own beliefs, motives, philosophies, and the nature of reality itself. To be fair, I often wonder if those people who are more shallow or less intelligent aren’t actually more happy. Attempting to take an unbiased, penetrating look into yourself, the world, and others isn’t exactly always comforting.

Another commonality I share with the storyteller is that I can relate to his feelings of underachievement and difficulty rising to the standards he believes he should. When all your life you have been praised for your IQ, your talents, or your “potential”, it can feel like you are letting yourself and the world down when you settle for a seemingly “mediocre” or “average” life. Perhaps that results from the naive child in us who is told that they can achieve “anything”, and therefore, dreams of fame, wealth, and adoration…and then is horribly disappointed to see none of it come to fruition.

I can also relate to the narrator’s sheer spite in wanting to annoy or derail other people (especially certain people who are annoying themselves) and in taking a strange sort of pleasure in suffering. At times, do I moan and groan for my own satisfaction?  Is there not a perverse side of me that likes to “play” with the nerves of another, much like a cat plays with a mouse? Is it not fun sometimes to watch another explode in childish frustration and throw an adult tantrum? Are we not all ornery instigators at times?

Lastly, like the narrator, I have to ask myself, deep down, do I genuinely care for and about others? Sure, I don’t wish anyone harm or suffering, nor do I go out of my way to taunt others normally, but do I truly want to sacrifice for others? Am I willing to disrupt my own comfort to improve another’s lot, or would I more truthfully rather keep others at a distance to avoid the inconvenience humans always bring?

Many humans seem to be rather shallow in thought and reflection, but they are no different in basic selfishness. Perhaps to my own detriment, I do dig for the selfish roots within myself and expose them to scrutiny, which may be unusual behavior, but I am convinced that others have the same roots, just hiding far down in the shade and often not brought to light. From that, perhaps, stems my reluctance to sacrifice too much of myself for others who have seemingly cultivated no better character than I.

*I hope you enjoyed this foray into the dark side of the human psyche 🙂 I truly believe that before any of us can understand the darkness in the world, we first need to understand the darkness within ourselves!

May 2018 My First Reading Club Subscription Box Review!

This month I did the May 2018 My First Reading Club unboxing and review on my YouTube channel (Maranda’s Toys & Books), so I figured I would post the video here in case anyone wanted to see which children’s books I got this month for only $9.99 plus S&H! This box is always SUCH a great deal! Definitely recommended for families!

 

Nighttime Dread and “Quiet Borderlines” Thoughts

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I slept in until after 2pm this afternoon. I hate when that happens. I feel like most of the day is already gone by the time I get out of bed. I must have slept at least around 12 hours last night, even though I had a bit of an emotional fest when I actually went to bed. For some reason, all the loneliness of the world seems to settle down on me when I try to go to sleep and all the horrible things that have and could happen come around to haunt me. It is often at these times that I feel absolutely alone and helpless in this world, even though logically I know I’m not…at least not right now. But I could be. I could be all alone very easily and that thought sends me into a kind of despair I can’t explain.

Recently I have been reading a book entitled “Beyond Borderline: True Stories of Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder”. Reading the book has been insightful and interesting, and made me realize I am definitely NOT a traditional borderline. I simply don’t have the acting out behaviors. I guess I could be what some people call “quiet borderlines”, although sometimes I wonder if they are really borderlines or not?

Perhaps some “quiet borderlines” are actually more along the lines of Avoidant Personality Disorder or another anxiety-related personality disorder? Who knows. I’m not a doctor so I can’t say, but I do find so many commonalities running through various personality disorders, that even if you have one, pinpointing which one might be difficult and many people have traits of more than one. For me personally, I think I definitely fit more into the cluster C “anxious and fearful clusters” than the cluster B “dramatic and overly emotional clusters”. In fact, the only time I am visibly overly emotional is when I am so anxious I pretty much panic. Unfortunately this almost always seems to happen in public, because social interaction in itself can easily set off the panic in me.