A recent publication by one of COM 425’s students
A recent publication by one of COM 425’s students
I sat in the purple dining room chair, patiently waiting for an explanation of why the death card had just been placed down during my tarot card reading. I found myself needing to explore something new, as many people do after a break-up from a long term relationship. Jenn Carbaugh, explained that a card should not be judged by its face value, but rather by the deeper meaning. Death does not literally mean you or someone will die, but that there is an end. It is an ending of one chapter and it brings transition into a new state.
As Jenn,a 21 year old practicing Wiccan, gets ready to flip the next tarot card, I asked her what the tattoo on her wrist meant. It was the Ace of Cups, which is a tarot card. The tattoo is a depiction of a dove holding a circle in its mouth near a cup that looks like a chalice. The literal meaning of the tarot card signifies new beginnings and journeys in life. Jenn explained that it reminded her that every day was a new day and to never dwell on the past. Jenn has three tattoos, which include one on her wrist, another on her chest, and one on her shoulder. Located on the right side of her chest and on the opposite side of her heart, the peace sign signifies balance. Coincidentally, the peace sign on Jenn is not balanced but actually tilted on an angle. Jenn explained the reason for the design is that “…there will never be complete peace.” The third tattoo is a purple flower with a green peace sign in the middle. This ties the theme of peace, harmony and respect for mother earth.
“There are many misconceptions that people have about tarot cards and paganism,” says Jenn. “Being Wiccan is about treating others the way you would want to be treated, which is basically the fundamentals for all religions.” There are stereotypes about covens, but in reality Jenn explained how many Wiccans in covens are basically sitting around talking about political issues. “Paganism is thought to have one or more higher beings. It is not a set in stone religion.” Jenn explained that it is not like Christianity where you just believe in God. Some pagans find value in Mother Nature and others in Greek mythology.
“It all about being resourceful and many good Wiccans reuse water bottles and don’t litter. It is kind of like the going green movement.” Jenn explained that hunting and fishing are a part of the circle of life as long as the animals are used for food and not left to waste. “Hunting is considered part of the evolutionary cycle because you eat the meat, but if you are hunting just to kill something that is freaking awful.”
In the 1990s, the media became mesmerized by witchcraft in fictional films like “The Craft” and television shows like “Charmed and Sabrina the Teenage Witch”, which introduced young people to the idea of witchcraft. This was a growing demographic that we can still see in today’s media with movies such as any of the Harry Potter films (2001-2011), “The Covenant” (2006) and the Twilight Saga (2008-present). There are also television shows such as “Once Upon a Time” and “Grimm” that are based on having a supernatural gift or being in a supernatural realm.
Jenn has been a Wiccan since the time she was only a few years old. She used to live with her Grandma Pat until she was 6 years old when her grandmother passed away. She shared stories about how she was introduced to the craft as a young girl.
Grandma Pat was a big influence in her life because she introduced her to spells, which her grandmother would cast to help bring success. Jenn recalls that her grandma used to sit her down at her old computer desk and turn off all the lights, electronics and light candles. Next, she would lay a penny down and put a candle on top of it. She remembers her grandma Pat saying catchy words. “The spell is basically saying what you hope out loud,” says Jenn. “I felt like the spells always came true because I loved her so much and in a child’s eyes grandmas are always right.”
Common Wiccan spells are used for healing, protection, fertility, and good fortune. Jenn also explained that her Grandma Pat used to put lavender in her chocolate chip cookies, since it is a common herb Wiccans use, and that she blessed her meals because it would bring good karma. Wiccans pass down traditions to each generation, as many religious group do.
There is no exact location of where the Wiccan religion originated from, but there is speculation that it originates from parts of Europe where a European witch-cult was prosecuted during witch trials. Robin Briggs, in the book “Witches and Neighbors” published in1996, examines the history of witchcraft in medieval Europe. It is argued by many scholars that an estimated total of 40,000 people were executed as witches during the medieval period, which was fueled by the Reformation. The Witchcraft religion became more prominent in 1951, due to the repeal of the Witchcraft Act of 1735.
In 1984 a federal judge in Virginia ruled that Wicca was a religion protected by the First Amendment. Wiccans have encountered hostility from some politicians and Christian organizations, which include former president of the United States, George W. Bush. This former President stated he did not believe “witchcraft is a religion,” and he hoped “the military would rethink this decision.”
When I asked Jenn if she told people that she is a Wiccan, she flat out, without hesitation said, “No.” After a moment’s pause, she explained that she does not tell people who she does not know or trust. “If I speak first and then tell people later that I am a pagan, people are more likely to take me serious,” she says.
During Jenn’s adolescent years, she decided to take a break from reading tarot cards for other people because it was too much as a young adult. Since adolescent years are a time for change and growth she focused more on herself. She explained that she needed this break because her teenage years were turbulent. “In high school, I had an eating disorder and one of the principles of Wicca is that you need to love yourself and I haven’t relapsed in a very long time” says Jenn. “I have Wicca to thank for that because if I didn’t have Wicca to remind myself that I love myself, I would probably be in rehab.” It was not until the age of 17 that the craft became re-entered Jenn’s life and once it did, it was full swing.
Not only were her adolescent years difficult for her but learning that she will eventually lose her eyesight was another obstacle she has to deal with throughout her life. She is losing her eyesight due to cysts that are on her retina. “When I unexpectedly started losing my eye sight, I was mad. I wasn’t mad at God, but I just thought if there is a God then why do bad things happen in the world? And if there is a God, he should have control.”
“Losing my sight is probably one of the big reasons I am a Wiccan” says Jenn. “The more I lost sight, the more I turned to something that made me feel safe, like my grandma, so I think that is one of the reasons I picked the craft back up.” She started reading tarot cards when she was nine years old and her vision was not impaired, but now she has trouble seeing color in one of her eyes. The loss of her eye sight is hereditary. Studies have shown that there are procedures that can isolate the chromosome that causes the loss of sight. Having this option gives Jenn hope because one day she would like to have children without passing down the hereditary disease.
When I asked her if tarot card reading was something that she would want to further pursue as a career she responded, “I could never charge people for reading their tarot cards because it is something that I love, and if I charge people I feel like it makes it dirty and that is why I don’t think I could make occupation.”
Jenn hopes to finish college within the next year or so and currently has her own blog, www.thrideyetarot.blogspot.com. It is mainly about Wicca traditions and tarot cards, but she also posts different recipes and gift ideas for certain special occasions. “I use my blog as a tool to share about the things I like and the different meanings of the tarot card of the day”, says Jenn.
When Jenn explain that the Death card signified an ending of a chapter in my life. It was then that I realized that there are different stages in life that everyone goes through, both good and bad. My break-up had led me to explore Wiccan traditions and gain a new friendship. Jenn said, “Things tend to come full circle and it is one of the main ideas of Wicca, that there are endings and new beginnings, but in the end everything balances out.”
Our assignment was to post one section of our portfolio onto our blog, so here is some of my writing samples that have been published online, in newsletters and newspapers. Enjoy!!
I wrote the following articles while I was interning at Suasion:
The following is a press release I wrote:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 23, 2011
Another Resource Offered to the Community through CILCP
(Newport, Pa.) – The Center for Independent Living of Central PA (CILCP), which is an organization aimed to eliminate barriers that people with disabilities may experience, is offering yet another resource to the community. Located at 100 North Second Street in Newport, the organization is now offering fitness classes, both to people with disabilities and without.
CILCP’s Newport Fitness Center is open from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. every Thursday night from now until November 17, 2011. During these hours, CILCP consumers can use the fitness equipment or can take fitness class (5:30 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.). According to Heidi Koch, the fitness director, fitness classes for CILCP consumers focus on functionality, in order to help people with disabilities maintain and improve function in their daily lives and activities.
“Since the Camp Hill fitness center has received an enormous amount of feedback and success, CILCP wanted to offer the similar options in the Newport area. These fitness classes offer so many benefits to people with disabilities. While reinforcing the importance of healthy living, the classes also provide an opportunity to get out in the community, socialize and learn other services CILCP has to offer,” said Janetta Green, Director of Operations at CILCP.
During each class a variety of equipment is used, such as bands, tubing, weight balls, steps, ankle weights, and scarves, just to name a few. “My style of teaching is what I like to call ‘all encompassing,’” said Koch. “I will gradually introduce equipment and exercise styles. The classes will consist of cardio, strength, balance, flexibility, coordination, functionality and of course, fun!”
In addition to specialized classes, people with disabilities may use the particular equipment, designed specifically for people with disabilities. For example, the Magnum Fitness M103 Advantage Trainer is available to use at the person’s own leisure.
The Magnum Fitness M103 Advantage Trainer provides over 20 different exercise patterns to work every upper body muscle group. A large back pad provides full support while using a wheelchair. It provides a wide and narrow, lower barbell grip, as well as a high barbell and neutral grip. Users can adjust the machine into four different grips: chest press; incline press; tricep press; and shoulder press. This piece of equipment can also convert into a rowing unit. It meets the requirements of the American Disabilities Act for Equal Program Access.
While the CILCP is dedicated to assisting people with disabilities, a class offered to the public from 6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. for a fee of $5. This class is opened to the general public. “Some of the CILCP staff and I attended the class. Heidi instructs a fun, yet intense workout,” says Green. “We were moving the entire hour!”
Koch has many years of experience in personal training and group fitness. She studied Therapeutic Recreation at York College of Pennsylvania, which evolved into fitness with a focus on senior citizens, people with health concerns, and people with special needs. She has three certifications relating to rehabilitation and special populations.
About the Center for Independent Living of Central PA
For over 20 years, CILCP has been serving people with all types of disabilities who live in Cumberland, Dauphin, Perry, Mifflin, and Juniata counties. CILCP is a consumer controlled, cross disability organization dedicated to assisting people with disabilities to achieve and maintain independent life styles. From achieving a small task to accomplishing a life-changing goal, CILCP is helping people with disabilities exceed their lifestyle expectations. For more information on Living Well With A Disability visit www.LivingWellWithADisability.org, and for more information on CILCP, visit www.cilcp.org.
For more information about the fitness classes, call (717) 567-0306. No pre-signup in necessary for the classes.
Also see my previous post about my article on Lee Karen Stow because that was published in The Slate. My most current article that was published in The Slate’s February 14, 2012 issue. I could not find the link on The Slate’s website so instead I am posting the article.
On Tuesday, February 7, 2011 at 7:30 p.m. a presentation called “Our Winter Skies” was given by Jack Roddick in Dilbert Planetarium located in Franklin Science Center. The presentation was not limited to college students, but was open to everyone. Students and families attended this event some as young as 4-years-old.
Attendees learned how to identify some of the 88 constellations and pointed out which ones can be seen in the winter, spring, summer and fall months. Roddick said, “The most fun a person can have is being under the stars and looking at them.” Roddick shared tricks on how to remember the different constellations from one another. For example, three stars that are in a line signify Orion’s belt that can currently be seen at night. Hand outs were given that show the different stars and planets that can be seen by the naked eye, binoculars and telescopes in the month of February. Since the light is so bright that it brightens the sky, the best time to observe the stars would be on moonless nights around a New Moon or Last Quarter. Roddick also explained why the sun is positioned differently in the winter than in summer months. There was a fee of $1 and the presentation lasted about an hour long. For more information contact Jack Roddick at email@example.com.
Photo courtesy of Carolyn Blasek
I wanted to share with everyone my first article that I wrote as a journalist! I was new to the journalism field and was so nervous to interview photojournalist and writer Lee Karen Stow. She had traveled all the way from the UK to Shippensburg, Pa., to speak about her (at the time) latest project “42” and her experiences working with the women of Sierra Leone.
This article will always be special to me because, not only was it my first piece, but she inspired me to take that leap and pursue journalism. She was so kind to take time and answer my questions, since the university had her on a tight schedule.
I hope you all enjoy it!
Lee Karen Stow Motivates Students with Photography
By: Carolyn Blasek
Published in The Slate: 11/16/2010
The life expectancy for a woman living in Sierra Leone is approximately 42 years of age. In the West, women have nearly doubled that number. The women of Sierra Leone do not have the resources and access to proper medical assistance and many of them die from childbirth, diabetes and other illnesses that would not be considered life-threatening in the West. Lee Karen Stow, who is from Hull, England, has broken barriers through her work as a journalist, freelance writer, author and photographer.
Stow visited Shippensburg University from Nov. 9 through Nov. 11. During her visit, she spent time telling her story in various classrooms, during a public presentation in Old Main Chapel and a reception in the library. “It is enlightening to see so many young people starting out in the industry. I hope I’ve helped in some way or at least said one sentence that might inspire the students in their future careers,” Stow said.
Stow hopes that her work will motivate more students to meet their ambitions in their field. Despite the fact that she dropped out of school at the age of 15, Stow taught her- self the skills she has acquired to this day. Stow has also funded herself by giving up the luxuries of everyday life.
Stow was asked to give a photography seminar for women in Sierra Leone. After a few weeks, she became friends and connected with some of the students. She spent time with their families and in their homes.
Stow said, “Even though I could portray and visualize something with my writing, I wanted people to see the face and the character of the people I was living with.” Through her experiences with these women, she decided that their stories needed to be heard.
In February 2007, Project 42 was born. Stow decided to capture the daily lives of some of her students in the truest form she knows — photography. She tries to keep the images as accurate as possible, but at times has felt as if taking a picture of a certain situation was not appropriate, not from a journalistic level, but on a personal level.
“No matter how objective of a reporter you try to be, there has got to be some subjectivity,” said Stow.
A year into the project, Stow turned 42 years old. That event was a humbling experience, which inspired her to be more involved and attached to the women of Sierra Leone.
After four years of collecting pictures and stories, Stow comprised a presentation compiling just 42 pictures. The presentation includes an original song sung by the women of Sierra Leone. The song was recorded on a digital recorder in the kitchen of one of Stow’s students.
Stow said, “Project 42 has changed my material outlook on life, working with these women I realized I don’t need much.” She is not wasteful and conserves as much as possible. She sold her house, her furniture, and anything else that did not seem essential to her daily life, yet her camera was not one of them.
She does not focus on the negative aspects such as the poverty and suffering occurring in the country. Instead, Stow focuses on the daily lives of these women and how the little changes can have the biggest impact.
Through her determination and persistence, Stow has opened doors for the women in Sierra Leone. Photography has offered these women a way to generate income and self identity, which is usually overlooked. The photography seminars have been successful because the women want to be taught a skill that they can call their own. Stow’s mentoring has given these women the tools and knowledge they need to express themselves and their experiences through their pictures.
Stow’s photography will continue to be showcased in the Lehman Library Gallery through Nov. 30.
To learn more about Lee Karen Stow and her work go to www.leekarenstow.com
Here is a link to one (of many) articles I wrote while at my internship! http://www.livingwellwithadisability.org/2011/12/winter%e2%80%99s-here-%e2%80%93-time-to-put-on-the-skates/