Holy Wild, News & Announcements

Meadowsweet & Myrrh is now Holy Wild

I am one of the more sluggish people I know when it comes to big changes, and in the digital age that can mean I’m lagging years behind the latest trends. If you’d asked me a few years ago if I’d ever retire my blog Meadowsweet & Myrrh, I would have said Hell no! And yet, here we are…

Welcome to Holy Wild.

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So maybe a name change isn’t that big a deal. But after a decade of living with that lovingly pesky ampersand dividing/uniting the old and the new, the past and the future, the lingering scent of church incense and the beckoning perfume of the fields… I came to realize that I was no longer living quite so at odds with myself as before. I needed some new name for this sacred little space of mine on the vast interwebz — a name that spoke more wholeheartedly of wholeness. And preferably included a pun.

Ch-ch-ch-changes…

Besides a new name, there are some other cool changes at the blog, the most obvious being a whole new look. (And my thanks to Peter Dybing for encouraging me to find a font big enough to actually read!)

I’ve finally caught up with those trendy types who have “Related Posts” links at the bottom of each new post, and I have to admit part of the fun of writing now is seeing what old blasts-from-the-pasts turn up unexpectedly.

There’s also a handy way to share posts to your favorite social networks using the nifty AddThis bar floating to the right — if you click the orange [+] sign for “More Options,” the list of sites they support is so extensive, you can even still share to MySpace! (Although… why?)

Feed For ALL!

As I mentioned a couple months ago, I began weaning readers off of Feedburner before it, too, goes the way of GReader and the dinosaurs. Now you can subscribe directly to my RSS feed with your favorite feed reader service (I highly recommend giving Feedly* a try — it has lots of options for organizing and displaying your feeds, and the mobile app is as beautiful as it is functional).

If you are subscribed to the old Feedburner feed please take a few seconds right now to update your feed reader to the new RSS feed: https://alisonleighlilly.com/feed.

The old Feedburner feed should continue to update with new posts, at least for now, but Google has ceased providing support for the service and might decide to discontinue it altogether at any time. Who knows? If you subscribe to the new RSS feed then you’ll be sure to keep getting updates no matter what.

Im In Ur Inbox Bringing U Goodies

If you were signed up for the email newsletter through Feedburner, you may have already noticed a change! The new-and-improved Holy Wild newsletter, now supported by MailChimp, will continue to bring you posts delivered right to your inbox. But with the greater flexibility that MailChimp provides, I’ll also be able to include things like early registration deals for online and in-person classes (like my Keystones of the Sacred Land e-Course, back again this spring), as well as coupons and contests for books, like my forthcoming memoir collection, Meadowsweet.

(See how casually I mentioned that my first book will be published soon? I’m totally playing it cool…)

If you’re not already signed up for the Holy Wild newsletter, it’s not too late to get in on the action — it’s as easy as entering your email address below (or you can click here):

#mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; }
/* Add your own MailChimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block.
We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */

If you’re not ready to take the plunge just yet, no worries. There’s a sign-up form in the blog’s sidebar if you change your mind.

Social Media for Introverts

Before I jump into social media stuff, let me say again that if you want to be sure of never missing an update, the RSS feed and/or the newsletter are the way to go. Subscribing to either of these gives you direct control over what, when and how you get your content — and not just for this blog, but for any writer, blogger, artist, musician or content creator you want to support online. (The experts agree, Facebook kinda sucks when it comes to following blogs.)

Think of it this way: hanging out on Facebook is sort of the virtual equivalent of hanging out at the mall, and relying on Facebook’s news feed for blog updates is like relying on the mall’s radio station to hear your favorite songs. You might hear songs by your favorite artist every once in a while, but you’ll also hear a lot of stuff just because it’s popular, interspersed with plenty of ads. If you really want to hear your very own weirdly eclectic favorites, and support your favorite indie artists, you probably buy the albums you like and make your own playlists. That’s what RSS feed readers and email newsletters let you do.

That said, sometimes it’s wonderful to spend time with friends being social, and it’s pretty cool when your favorite song comes up on the radio and maybe sparks some conversation. So, yep, I’m on Facebook, as well as Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn and even Tumblr. In fact, I’ve somehow managed to attract thousands of followers on G+ and Pinterest, which is both crazy and crazy awesome!

So if you want to hang out (and you’re up for some uncensored, shoot-from-the-hip opinions that don’t ever make it onto the blog), look me up! If you’re on G+, you can even sign up to get a notification whenever I share a new blog post, which is practically as good as an RSS feed. Just +1 or leave a comment on this post to join.

Oh, and if you’re looking for a community of thoughtful and enthusiastic Druids and other Celtic-inspired Pagans, check out the G+ Druidry Community that I moderate — we’ve topped 500 members and we’re still growing!

Casualties of Progress

If you’re wondering, so what about the Meadowsweet Commons?, then you’re one of three people who actually used the forums… and I have some sad news for you.

For the rest of you: good news, everyone!

The Meadowsweet Commons was an integrated forum that was originally part of this website when I migrated the blog over from its original home on Blogger. It was meant to be an experiment in community engagement that allowed people to leave comments on blog posts in a shared social space as well as adding posts of their own. The Commons was part of my solution to a troll infestation I was struggling with at the time… and on that front it was wildly successful and basically reduced trolling on my site to practically zero. (Huzzah!)

Otherwise, though, the experiment failed. The integration was always somewhat clumsy and counterintuitive, and updates to the forum plugin soon made it almost impossible to use at all. When the designers decided to make the plugin and support for paying-members only, I decided it was time for the Meadowsweet Commons experiment to end. Unfortunately, there was no way to preserve the old forum without compromising my site’s security, and in the process of updating my software, all of the previous blog comments and forum posts were lost. Such is life sometimes on the ephemeral interwebz…

But now the good news: with the troll infestation fairly well in hand, I’ve returned to the more traditional kind of commenting. You can now leave comments on Holy Wild just as you would on any other blog. (Double-Huzzah!) If you want to know what kind of reader feedback and comments I just adore, check out the comment policy for tips and suggestions.

Thanks for reading!

Wow, this little update ended up being a lot longer than I anticipated. I guess there are some pretty big changes afoot!

As always, thank you so much for reading, and I hope that Holy Wild continues to be a place that provokes contemplation and welcomes conversation for anyone whose life is rooted in the soft soil and sturdy bedrock of an earth-centered spiritual tradition.

Blessings of the holy wild be yours, friends.


*For those of you using Feedly to subscribe to RSS feeds, updating to a new feed can be tricky. Check out this follow-up post for a step-by-step guide on how to find the right feed using your browser address bar: How To Find the Correct RSS URL in Feedly

Holy Wild, News & Announcements

Welcome, World!

The first time I attended an open Pagan event in my city, I’d already been a practicing Druid for several years, Meadowsweet & Myrrh was already a popular Pagan spirituality blog with hundreds of readers, and I’d already been in touch with leaders, movers and shakers of all stripes and flavors in the Pagan community thanks to the marvels of Facebook and other social networking tools. But I’d come to Druidry as what Bill Plotkin, author of Nature and the Human Soul, calls the “Wanderer in the Cocoon.” Those several years had been years of deep but solitary practice, and I spent them as a student of the local woods and creeks and meadows. I’d felt little need to reach out in search of human spiritual community — more vital and necessary to me then had been the lessons of solitude and attending, learning to feel the earth beneath my feet and the winds full of sunlight as living, engaged presences.

During my first venture out into the local Pagan community, I was nervous, shy and stuttering — and everyone took for granted that when I said, “This is my first public group ritual; I usually only practice as a solitary,” that what I meant was that I didn’t really practice at all. The kindness and welcome that came with that assumption caught me off guard, but it also woke me up to the fact that there was another side to the Druid spiritual life that I hadn’t been exploring very much… and now was a really good time to start.

Bill Plotkin would probably say that I’ve moved into the “Apprentice at the Wellspring” stage of my spiritual development. Having delved into the dark recesses of psyche and soul, confronting the realities of death, othering and grief — I now find myself urged forward by an intense desire to find my place in community again, armed and readied now with a surer sense of self and purpose, to study at the side of those master craftspeople and wise elders and to offer what gifts I can back to others in new and creative ways.

This change in focus has been palpable, its insistence growing in intensity over the past year or so. And it was what led directly to my decision to create a new home for Meadowsweet & Myrrh: one that was more personal and reflective of my spiritual and aesthetic sensibilities, and one that was more spacious and flexible enough to handle what the future might hold for me, both in my career and in my spiritual life.

This new website — freshly built with a few spare bits of construction materials and pseudo-Latin still laying around — will hopefully embody that sensibility and flexibility. I’m rather proud of it, actually, and there are a thousand tiny tweaks or neat little features that, if they do their job cleanly and elegantly, visitors to this site will probably never even notice. (Check out my kickass RSS feed sidebar widgets! And the river-rock inspired icon buttons GIMPed by yours truly from a picture of an actual rock that sits on my home altar!) But mostly, I’m proud of the thought that went into the design and layout of the website, combining the linear structure of a blog with the more organic, emergent order reflected in the nature photography and poetry that you’ll find here and there on this site.

One of the most non-linear and experimental aspects of the site is a new approach to commenting that I’m trying out, integrating blog posts and comments with the social and community-building tools of a forum. The result is The Meadowsweet Commons, a place where readers and others can get together to continue conversations sparked by posts to this website, as well as discuss ideas and exchange stories of their own, create their own profiles, signatures and avatar pictures, even send other members “private messages” (without having to share email addresses or other contact information). Guests not interested in all the bells and whistles can still leave comments on blog posts in the usual way — their comments will automatically be added to the forum conversation threads generated each time a new blog post is published (and linked to at the bottom of each post). It’s definitely a different model than what a lot of readers are used to… but I’m excited to be experimenting with new possibilities and pushing the medium in new directions. I hope you’ll join me in this little experiment and let me know what you think. (For more information about how the forum works, you can read About the Commons as well as the simple Comment Policy.)

Other aspects of this website are a bit less edgy, a bit more traditional. In addition to the blog — where I’ll continue to post essays, musings, news, poetry and photography on a regular basis — there are also a number of static pages featuring information about my writing and other work. Building these pages was actually a bit of a struggle for me. I felt constantly pulled between the enjoyment and fun of showcasing my work and making it more available to others, and the worry that I would seem arrogant or “mercenary,” that others would think I was exaggerating or bragging about things that weren’t all that special or important.

But as both Rumi and T. Thorn Coyle have said, you must ask for what you really want. What I want, and what I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember, is to be a writer, and to share my writing with a community of engaged and interested readers. Sometimes that seems like a really easy goal: all I need is a computer or, if we’re getting really rugged and old school, a pen and some paper. Other times, it feels like the most difficult, intimidating and impossible goal in the world. I care passionately about all the work that I do and all the writing I share, and the fear of being overlooked, unsupported, misunderstood or laughed at can loom large in my peripheral vision. But eventually I realized that if I’m not ready to stand up and brag about my work, to shout my enthusiasm and excitement from the rooftops — then why should I expect anyone else to?

So this website is only partly for you, the reader. It’s also partly for me — it’s like a kind of spell I’ve cast on myself, a sacred space that I’ve created for myself where I can take my work and my writing career seriously without feeling the need to apologize or demure. (Demure isn’t a verb, but it should be.) It’s a space where I can admit to being a little bit ambitious, and a little bit competitive, and more than a little bit crazy-in-love with poesis and philosophy and communication and creativity.

For now, there’s a lot of elbow-room and future-potential built into this virtual space of mine. I hope that it will grow into a future that’s full of welcoming, enthusiastic friends, unexpected guests and folks who feel like family.

So this is my welcome to the world: come on in, poke around, say hello! Thanks for making the journey, and I hope you enjoy your stay!