Making a House a Home

Read more

Breaking Down a 26-Year Brick Wall

Read more

Happiness: A Witch's Perspective

Read more
Home & Garden
DIY, Cooking & More
Goddess Path
Witchy Things
On Pen Names & Summer | Our Prairie Nest
On Pen Names & Summer

What a weird combination, right? But, first of all, I’m back to writing regular posts.

Summer kicked my butt. Not that it was an unforeseen thing. Really, it’s in the parenting job description. Have school-aged children? Is it summer? Welcome to No Rest for the Wicked. Fortunately, I was pretty smart about how I planned things. Or unplanned, rather. There were times I simply gave in. To what? Random get-togethers with friends, trying to remember how to hula hoop, drawing hopscotch courts, and rediscovering Golden Girls.

Did I write? Definitely. From May to August, I put out two novels, a bajillion short stories, and kept up with administrative work. Because, summer or not, writing is my job and I can’t drop everything just because the lightning bugs flash their butts at me in their oh-so-sassy way.

If you keep up with my Instagram feed, you know what I write. If you don’t, you can just take a peek down at the bottom of the page here to see. It’s not that it’s a secret, per se. In fact, it’s probably the worst-kept secret ever. But I do like to keep it separate from this blog and my personal life for various reasons. That’s the second reason I have pen names.

The first reason is, as many aspiring authors might understand, fear. Not fear about myself or anything like that. It was fear that I would fail and my name would be attached to that failure. With a pen name, you can experiment. If it bombs, you can drop the project and start fresh with what you’ve learned. It’s a lovely thing.

I really wanted to write what I’m writing now, so I took a chance, but the pen name gave me a degree of “separation” between the first few books and personal attachment. Once I found out I wasn’t going to fail, I felt comfortable putting more of my heart and soul into the name I was building. The stories became more personal, as well.

And, at that point, maintaining a pen name became about equal parts branding and compartmentalization. Branding is a smart idea no matter what name you’re using. But also being able to have a boundary between yourself and your day job is healthy, even if it’s your dream job.

Writing is a part of who I am. No doubt about that. I do it every day and I love it with all my heart, especially the genres I write. However, it’s nice to be able to set those boundaries, to decide what belongs where. I’d like to keep my real name is attached to genealogy and Paganism, and maybe someday I will write a book under it again. But maybe not.

Anyway, there’s an indirect tip from one writer: if you’re going to venture into writing, start off with a pen name. It allows you to try something without taking it too personally if things don’t work out.

And, as far the kids wanting attention all summer long? Do take that personally, because someday that precious 5-year-old is going to be 16-years-old and screaming, “I hate you! You’re ruining my life!” while slamming her bedroom door.

Pantheism and Panentheism | Our Prairie Nest
Pantheism and Panentheism, Paganism and Neo-Paganism

In my last Witchy Wednesday post, I briefly defined and discussed monotheism, polytheism, monism, and dualism. I’d like to continue sharing my thoughts on this by delving into pantheism and Panentheism. These are probably the two most confusing words in the religio-magick lexicon, as they sound so alike, yet have two different meanings.


Pantheism is the doctrine that all aspects of the Universe are divinely inspired and that reality is only a manifestation of divine inspiration.


Panentheism is probably a word with which most people aren’t familiar. It is the belief that God/dess is immanent within the Universe, but also transcends it. In Panentheism, God/dess is viewed as creator and/or animating force behind the Universe, as well as the source of universal morality.

So what exactly does that mean? As my father always liked to say, “Think about it, Wendy…” (Of course, this was generally after he challenged me to not talk for 30 minutes.) The most basic way to explain it is that in pantheism, everything is God/dess. However, with regard to Panentheism, everything is a part of God/dess, yet also apart from God/dess.

Pantheism allows folks to simply say, “It’s up to God/dess” and leave life at that. Panentheism has the advantage of allowing us to be co-creators and participants in the Universe, and requires more of a sense of personal responsibility in that regard.

This is another pair of ideas that requires us to think for ourselves, to contemplate which makes more sense to us and our own spiritual view of “life, the universe, and everything”.

Paganism & Neo-Paganism

I’d also like to share some thoughts on Paganism and Neo-Paganism. There can be as much confusion with these core words of our vocabulary, than as any of the longer, more intricate words. For example, ask someone if they are Pagan, and you may get the response, “No, I’m Wiccan.”

Naturally, a definition of Paganism appears to be in order here, however it can be hard to define something that tends to be rather broad and abstract. Here is the definition I have come to over the years, which ultimately had to be broken down into three parts:

1. Pagan can refer to any of the non-Abrahamic religions: someone who is not Christian, Jewish, or Muslim. But would a Hindu or African tribesman refer to themselves as Pagan? Unlikely, so to expand upon this definition;

2. Pagans practice earth-based spirituality. This still does not fully explain Paganism, because Native American spirituality is also rooted in nature, yet not considered a Pagan religion. So the final criteria may be;

3. Pagans seek to revive or recreate ancient, pre-Christian religious practice, particularly those of western and central Europe.

This definition won’t work for everybody, but as I said before, Pagan is a difficult word to define. 

And just to muddy the waters, we also have the word “Neopagan,” which simply means “new” Pagan. People often prefer one term over the other, as Neopaganism may refer to a more modern and original spirituality with roots and inspiration in history, while Paganism tends to refer specifically to a reconstructionist point of view.

Please keep in mind that both Paganism and Neopaganism are proper nouns that describe a religion or religious movement; hence the first letters of both words ought to be capitalized when used. The same goes for an adherent of these religions (Neopagan and Pagan). Furthermore, remember that Pagans aren’t necessarily theistic. It is very possible to be an Atheist and a Pagan, just as one can be a Christian and a Witch.

And speaking of Witch, which is what I am, I plan to conclude my little exploration of vocabulary with a look at Wicca and Witchcraft, and how they fit under the Pagan umbrella in next week’s Witchy Wednesday post.

Nobska Point Lighthouse | Our Prairie Nest
Vacation Memories

Until last week, it’d been anywhere from 4 to 10 years since I last saw family. That was because I ended up in Korea and then England, and then in Nebraska, none of which are anywhere near my family. The closest family when we returned to the U.S. was my sister, brother-in-law, nephews, and nieces, so we did enjoy some brief visits after we got back to the states. But there were so many other family members and friends I hadn’t seen for a long time prior to that.

Fortunately, my sister provided the perfect opportunity for a visit by renewing her vows with my brother-in-law, so off we went to Massachusetts! 

We drove, which was exhausting, to say the least. And we camped, which doesn’t exactly offer restful sleep, but my husband and kids had never gone camping. My daughter was too keyed up to sleep, so we got to listen to her sleeping bag rustling all night long. Yay. But at least my husband made the most delicious campfire dinner and breakfast!

Once we arrived in Berlin, New York, the fun really started. First, we stayed with my grandfather’s first cousin. The one and only time I saw her, I was maybe six or so, and I certainly don’t remember meeting her. So seeing her now that I’m in my 40s and she’s in her 90s was really a treat. It was such a privilege to meet her and her husband, to sit and talk, and get to know them. They are lovely people and were such gracious hosts. 

My kids loved meeting them, too, and exploring the land their home is situated on. We got to see plenty of fun wildlife on the mountain where they live, and the sugar house where they make their own syrup! 

Vacation Memories | Our Prairie Nest

Meanwhile, driving through New York allowed us to see the Great Annual Traffic Barrel Migration. We also encountered this phenomenon in Indiana. Those little guys sure do get around!

Getting on the Mass Pike made me happy and I started pointing out various towns to my husband, telling him all about them as I drove. I was in for a strangely rude awakening when I realized toll booths were gone! I spent so much time building up the transition from the Mass Pike to 495, that I felt a little cheated out of the massive line of toll booths that used to be there.

Once we crossed the Bourne Bridge, though, it didn’t bother me so much anymore. Because I got to see my paternal aunt and uncle, whom I hadn’t seen in far too long. Once again, it was a wonderful visit, my concerns for my aunt’s health notwithstanding. My uncle was very generous with fun Cape Cod souvenirs for the kids.

I’m so glad I got to see them. Even though it’s clear my aunt has dementia-related memory loss, as my grandmother/her mother did, I’m still happy we made the visit. My aunt and uncle were always a fixture in our lives, often visiting for Christmas or summer break with my three cousins. I have fond memories and am grateful we remain in touch, even if it’s via Facebook these days. It would have been even nicer to see my cousins, but this is the year we’re all ending up in Massachusetts at various times of the summer. 

The next morning, I brought my husband to see Nobska Point Lighthouse at Wood’s Hole. As far as he was concerned, it wasn’t a proper Cape Cod visit without seeing a lighthouse. He’d never been to New England before, so I was more than happy to oblige him.

We enjoyed a walk along the beach in Falmouth and picked up a few shells, something my daughter couldn’t wait to do. Of course, I took plenty of photos and pointed out various sights to my husband. This also brought up our ongoing debate about where we want to spend the rest of our lives (he says Cancun, which I complain is too hot; I say Martha’s Vineyard, which he complains is too cold… and expensive).

Our action-packed week wasn’t anywhere near done, because then it was off to my sister and brother-in-law’s house to prepare for their vow renewal. I had the honor of officiating, while my daughter served as flower girl. My mother, aunt, and Nana were all there, as well, making it yet another reunion. There were other folks there I was happy to see, of course, like my best friend from high school and my sister’s best friend since they were in elementary school together. We had a great time, my daughter enjoyed wearing a fancy dress, and it was wonderful to see my sister and brother-in-law get the party they deserved. Their love story is pretty darn epic. <3

The next day, all of us managed to get up bright and and early, and visit the stables where my sister, brother-in-law, and niece all ride. They own a lovely horse, so we met him and then my daughter got a pony ride. After that, I saddled up and it was great. I get on horses whenever I can, something I’ve done since childhood. Even my husband was convinced to get on and try a walk!

Vacation Memories | Our Prairie Nest

Back in my sister’s neighborhood, we visited their private beach. My husband, daughter, and niece spent their time catching fiddler and hermit crabs. Being the old ladies we are, my sister and I had more fun watching a loon swimming, diving, and catching something to eat.

We were out of there the very next day, since we gave ourselves 2 1/2 days of driving each way. Oh yes, just not long enough to really spend time with people, but we had our moments. I asked my husband what he thought about Massachusetts and he summed up his impression of it in one word: traffic.

Where we live in Nebraska, there’s very little traffic. For example, a “highway” bisects our neighborhood from the town where the kids’ school district is. We could come to the intersection and sit there, waiting for 5 cars to pass, while my husband complains about “traffic.” Time and again, I told him, “Oh honey, you ain’t seen nothing yet.” Well, he’s seen it now! And the worst of it was the Bourne Bridge. We didn’t even go anywhere near Boston. But from Wood’s Hole to Lee, Massachusetts, it was definitely wall to wall traffic. That’s just the nature of things where I grew up.

The first night traveling back home, we camped just outside of Erie, Pennsylvania. It would have been a less eventful night overall, than our first one camping, if not for the tornado that hit our town back home! 

It started with an email showing I’d been tagged on Facebook. Since I don’t have Facebook on my phone (and refuse to use it, thank you very much!), I didn’t really get any context. The friend who tagged me also texted to ask if I was okay. Of course I was okay – I was in Pennsylvania! So I responded and asked about her concerns. She explained that there was a tornado hitting our little town. I told my husband and we waited a long, nail-biting hour to hear from our pet/house sitter after communicating with her about it. Thank goodness she was able to tell us everything was okay after the storm hit!

Well, that freaked us out so much that we decided to head straight home the next day, instead of stopping in Iowa for another night of camping. So there we were, weary, beyond exhausted, and pushing onward to Nebraska from Erie, Pennsylvania. We did about 15 hours of driving in a single day. It was worth it to get home, though, and it came with a priceless realization.

As much as I love Massachusetts, the state where I was born and raised, and where all my little quirks (like saying “wicked”) comes from, I’m absolutely in love with Nebraska’s wide open spaces, endless skies, amber waves of grain, and rolling prairies. Will I go back to visit Massachusetts any time soon? The answer is that it depends on my time, money, and energy.

But I’m not pining for it the way I once did. Massachusetts is in my heart, but I’m in Nebraska to stay.

Thoughts on Deity | Our Prairie Nest
Thoughts on Deity or My Ism

Monotheism, Polytheism, Pantheism, Panentheism… These words can confuse and befuddle even educated people. There appears to be a fine line between some of these things, none at all between some, and a rift of immeasurable proportions between others. As a Pagan and witch, I’ve spent far too much time pondering what these mean to me.

It’s daunting enough for some people within the Pagan community to be told that “Gardnerian Wicca is the only way to practice Wicca,” because this immediately brings about the realization that there is not simply one, unified Wiccan religion. Likewise, being Wiccan makes one Pagan, however being Pagan, does not make one Wiccan.  So you’ve got that lovely bit to keep in mind.

But regardless of whether one is Pagan or Wiccan or a witch, these “isms” tend to be at the root of how one believes in deity (if at all). Yes, you can be a monotheistic or atheist Pagan. But, to be clear, here’s what those isms mean:


The belief in only one deity. One God, one name, end of story. Monotheism is fairly rare among Pagans and world religions, in general. The best example of Monotheism is, in my opinion, Islam, which worships God as Allah, with no other aspects.


The belief in a plurality of deities. And for my friends who constantly snap at me for using ‘big words’, plurality is “more than one.” Polytheists encompass Pagans, Native Americans, Hindus, Christians, and a large number of world religions.

The majority of religions today have a belief in more than one God or a belief in a God with many aspects. That is, they may see God as one being, but with different faces and personalities. For example, Christianity and Wicca both share the idea of a triple aspect of their deity. The Christian God is seen as “the Father, Son and Holy Spirit” (or Ghost), whereas the Wiccan Goddess is seen as “Maiden, Mother and Crone.”

To some people this idea is still monotheism, because God is but one entity, from whom these particularly beings emanate.

However, my personal view of this is that it is polytheistic because these entities take on very distinct and separate energies, as well as different names (i.e. Jehovah or Yahweh for the Father, Jesus for the Son, and Sofia for the Holy Spirit; or Artemis for the Maiden, Selene for the Mother, and Hecate for the Crone). I’m polytheistic, in that I believe there is a universal energy with various aspects and that the names we give it help “humanize” it for our limited comprehension.

Once a person makes up their mind to decide whether or not they believe in one deity or many (if any at all), next comes the question, where does deity reside in relation to you?


This places God/dess on the same plane of existence as the rest of us.


This places God/dess apart from us.

In coming to my personal monistic belief, I find that “Thou art God,” the statement of divine immanence we utilize sometimes in ritual, is what touches me. This concept stems from Heinlen’s Stranger in a Strange Land (a novel which characterized much of the 70’s American Neo-Paganism).

In terms of modern-day Paganism, it has come to represent the idea that we can share knowledge and so much more with God/dess, that divinity is immanent in all of nature, including ourselves.