Wednesday, February 27, 2013

February Roundup and Forecast

In January, we featured Good Nature and Peace Nook in our Faces and Places entries.  We also featured a fantastic article by Aluuna on faith and illness, and Taz Chance wrote a wonderful article over at ColumbiaFAVs called Wiccan ... and the PTA about what inspired her to educate the public about paganism.

In February, we will have more faces, places, insights from the community, and highlights from around the web. If you're a local contributor and would like to have your work featured on our blog, please go to our website and use the Contact Us By Email form to let us know!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Faces and Places - Peace Nook

Welcome to our next Face of Mid-Missouri!

Peace Nook is a hidden gem in the busy downtown District in Columbia. It is a non-profit store and community resource center that was founded and is operated by the non-profit Peaceworks.  It’s staff are all volunteers. You can find a variety of our local activists helping to run the store, including one very amazing person. Mark Haim is the voice behind Peaceworks, and he works tirelessly beside his volunteers to bring positive change to the community.  He is a huge support of Mid-Missouri Pagan Pride.

The tiny entrance to this store is easy to miss as you walk down Broadway of Columbia, but look hard for it. Behind the door and down the stairs hides an amazing treasure trove of products, including jewelry, clothing, magazines, Pagan and spiritual books, natural foods, environmentally friendly products, incense, bags, and so very much more. If you can’t find a product that you are looking for, all you have to do is ask one of the amazingly colorful and friendly volunteers that staff the store. They can tell you if they carry it and if they do not, and they are always more than willing to order it.

Do you need jewelry with your faith’s symbols? They will probably have it. Do you need a new journal made on completely recycled paper? They definitely have it. Do you need books about Buddhism, gardening, Wiccan Circles, the LGBT community, and/or nuclear weapons and their effect on the environment? This is your one-stop shop.

Peace Nook is located at 804-C East Broadway in downtown Columbia. They are open Monday through Saturday from 10 am until 9 pm and Sunday from noon until 6pm. For more information feel free to call them at 573-875-0539 or email them at

Monday, February 11, 2013

Faith and Illness

As I sit here thinking about all the things I can and want to write about keeping the requested topic in mind let me tell where I am in my life. I got sick in in 2007 and after many surgeries I ended up with Uterine cancer in the fall of 2012 and found out that they got it all a couple of weeks ago. There are many issues that come up in your head about your own faith when you are sick. When you are sick for a prolonged time or you hear a word like “CANCER” you think about it even more. When you have lost hope and having nothing left but faith.

First let me define faith. Faith, for me, is a belief in a divine force that is bigger than myself that ultimate domain over the heavens and the earth. Oh and to top it off, for most people you must have this belief with no tangible proof. I speak of this faith without thought for what “religious” preference you may have. Pagan to Judeo-Christian, there are some universal truths when it comes to our spiritual paths. When it comes to a spiritual path I speak of the inner peace that comes from believing that there is something bigger than one’s own person and most importantly in this world that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. For most of us that is the only tangible proof we have that our Divine exists. You can’t explain it or quantify it for the masses. It is what gives you solace when things seem very dark, bleak, and lonely.

No matter what illness you have or the person you are caring for has there is a time when you know that no one’s journey is exactly like yours. You feel alone and no matter how much time you spend talking to others the peace can only come from either simple resignation to the situation you are in or the belief that there are lessons that your Divine needs you learn while you are in your current situation. I choose to believe that when I am in my darkest moments there is either a lesson I need to learn in order to more fully become self- realized or a there is a person that I need to meet and without that situation I would not have met them. There can be a million combinations of the aforementioned things but it comes down to also believing that it is not always about you.

We as humans tend to believe that everything we do and have happen to us is because of something that WE did or WE need to learn. When we are happy we praise our deities and when we are sad or feeling put upon we often rail against them. Sometimes your Divine power works through you for the good of someone else. When I learned to accept this personal truth I became even more enamored with world around me. I began to look and listen with a more open Spirit and became more able to really listen to others stories, start to encourage others, and find peace in my own situation.

For the longest time I kept waiting to learn whatever lesson I needed to learn in order for my Divine to bring me out my “dark night of the soul” that I felt like I was in. Over my life time I have had conversations with religious leaders from many different faiths. One of the things I have heard over and over again in many different ways is that learning to let go is a key to happiness or inner peace. I have heard this from High Priestesses, Rabbis, Monks, Preachers, and everything in between. So I think that from that I take away that yes learning to let go and let your Divine purpose be revealed in its own time.   It is like watching the proverbial pot and waiting for it to boil. When you stop looking at the water is when it will actually start to boil. So when I stopped focusing on the “lesson” I needed to learn I finally started understanding my role and purpose during this time.

In the meantime while I was waiting I looked for things of Divine inspiration in my own life. I listen to elderly ladies talk while I waited in a Doctor’s office. I for the first time was actually listening to my elders, and no, they were not preaching they were living their lives and because I took time to just observe and listen I saw what dignity looks like. I stopped and listen to a “Janitors” life story and one of the best conversations about music I have ever had. I had a “patient caregiver” (this was the term a big city hospital used to describe its CNA) touch my spirit in some very profound ways as she told me that she had been given many opportunities to move up the ranks and get more education and better pay but she felt that she did more of God’s real work by staying in her current position. I learned what true compassion was. When I met people who had lived long past their given “expiration” dates and were still happy to be in the fight against the disease we call Cancer. I experience what a real life Warrior looks like. I saw Triumphs are won piece by piece and day by day. The lessons had always been there but I wasn’t experiencing life. I was tip toeing through it as a “sick person.” When I stopped and took time away from focusing on me and my pain a world of beauty opened up.

I am not talking about some big grand design. I neither got a burning bush or nor was I Prometheus being tortured by the Gods and waiting to be saved. I had a small place in my corner of the universe that needed to be honored and appreciated. I was not being punished by some invisible force that was determined to kill me off. I was completely happy where I was when that happened I got to move on from that situation. I became a participant in the roller coaster of life. I let myself feel my fear, anger, and isolation. I learned that fighting doesn’t always mean going fist to fist or sword to sword. Sometimes it means living fully from moment to moment while experiencing some things that one usually tries to avoid. By walking through fire you can learn to appreciate the rain despite the mud.

You don’t have to be in some dark place to have these things happen in your life you only have to have the presence of mind to slow down and appreciate everything exactly for what it is even when that stuff is “bad.” You have to look and listen. The Divine is all around you, in you, in others. You have to take the time to see it. I often tell people to listen to their spirit before the Divine must give you some life threating event in order to make you listen. I have been and always will be exactly where I am supposed to be at the moment I am meant to be there despite what I want or plan. So the best I can do is to practice, no wait, live my beliefs where I am and when I am. There is beauty in all in its forms both fantastical and horrible in almost every moment and in every place. You must break through your own wall of emotions, ego, and self-loathing in order to feel it. Give what you have to give no matter how little or insignificant it may seem. Love when you have the chance to love and expect nothing in return. Live like every moment is the last.

Is my personal battle over? No it is not. I am not threatened by imminent danger of death from disease. I personally have a lot of healing left to do. In a way I have never experienced before my faith is stronger and better practiced than it ever was while I was in a healthy body. I get up every morning and have to struggle to get up and take care of myself, my son, my husband, and my community. The difference is I am fully awake and alive to appreciate the struggle. I look forward with rapt attention to what is next even when I have no idea. I am excited to find out. I will organically let my Spirit unfold and in my own way I will fly.

I hope the things I have tried to express here can be true of any path of spirituality. No matter who what or where your Divine, Deity, or God is, was, or will be. Your Divine truth can transcend time, space, and “religion.” I can only ask that your faith provide you Hope. Without it we are all lost.

Char "Aluuna" Smart
February 2013

Monday, February 4, 2013

Faces and Places - Good Nature

Welcome to our next Face of Mid-Missouri!

Good Nature is an amazing little shop.  Jim Peckham opened the shop in November of 2010 and has been expanding his services to the community ever since.  Jim is a friendly face in the store when you go in.  He never fails to have a smile or an offer to help out local Pagan activities.  The shop often offers space for local teachers to host classes on a variety of topics, from spirituality to arts and crafts. They also help support the community by sponsoring wine tastings and donating the proceeds to local non-profits. 

This little slice of the metaphysical world sells “handcrafted hats, gloves, socks, sweaters, scarves, shawls, yarn and rugs made with local alpaca fiber.” Even though they advertise their fantastic alpaca fiber goods most prominently, the store also carries many other products. Among them are “crystals, metaphysical statuary, Tarot cards, singing bowls, essential oils, books, music, pottery, wine, incense and so much more.” You can also get a massage and have your cards read by a master of the craft. Are you interested in hosting a class? Call Jim and let him know!  He is always looking for ways to support the community.

They are “located in the newly-revamped Alley A between 9th and 10th Streets and Broadway and Cherry Streets in the heart of the The District in downtown Columbia, MO."  Their phone number is 573-442-4242.  Go check them out!

January Roundup and February Forecast

Welcome to the Roundup and Forecast!  Posts like this will occur at the end of each month -- this one's a little bit late -- to remind you of posts you might've missed and give you a taste of things to come!

In January, we introduced festival-roving artisans Amber & Mitch Shineman of Spiral Fae Accents in our article about their beautiful leatherwork and beaded jewelry.  We also paid homage to our local silversmith and lapidary Don Hart of Best of the West in our article about his store full of Native American arts and crafts and a vast selection of stones and minerals.  Priestesses Victoria Chance and Amy Rhea discussed the importance of professionalism in the clergy and what it really takes to walk the path of a priest or priestess.

In February, you can look forward next week to an article on faith and healing, submitted by a priestess who herself has been through a remarkable and inspiring journey.  Also stay tuned for more profiles of pagan- and pagan-friendly people and businesses in your Mid-Missouri neighborhood!