Triquetra Distractions

While I cannot speak for everyone, I can state that many people leave Netflix reruns of shows they watched growing up while they do their homework or study for a test, myself included. Some might say that watching television is distracted, but for a few of us, the quiet is even more distracted, which is why we turn to our trustworthy Netflix apps to find a familiar show to watch. Usually, I tend to pick shows I grew up watching. I already know what is ultimately going to happen, and so I don’t lose focus on my homework and/or studying. This week, however, my trusted strategy did not work.

As I perused through Netflix, I decided to play a few episodes from the show Charmed. Normally, I am able to maintain my focus, but this week the symbol for the 3 sisters (Prue, Piper, Phoebe…and later one Paige) caught my attention more than the work I had to do. The symbol for the sisters magic was a form of 3 overlapping shapes meant to signify their bond as witches and as sisters throughout the entirety of the show. After some online research, I discovered that the symbol for the Charmed sisters is referred to as a triquetra—meaning triangle in Latin—it is also referred to as a Trinity Knot, which is speculated to have first appeared in Pagan/Celtic belief systems. The three intertwining rings were meant to symbolize the power in unity. The circles have no beginning and no end, instead they continue on endlessly much as the power of a unified people can continue endlessly from generation to generation.

 The triquetrais said to symbolize the energy of the Trinity and they represent the forces of the universe. Supposedly, it is meant to represent the three planes of existence—mental, physical, and spiritual. Similarly, the three sisters in Charmed unite to form a magical trinity, ultimately becoming an unstoppable force of good in the world by using the individual powers they contain. Each of the sisters wields a different power, which is connected to a different element that can only be controlled when each sister learns to tap into their mental, physical, and spiritual understandings of themselves. In the first few episodes of the show, the sisters are depicted reforming their bond as siblings and as witches. When they do so, the triquetra rings are brought together and Prue, Piper, and Phoebe become able to access their magic. After Prue dies, the rings are once again reformed to solidify the magical power of three when Piper and Phoebe meet their long lost sister Paige. Once again, the Trinity Knot becomes a representation of the power of unity and the force of the universe.

The moral of the story: if anyone thinks it’s a less distracting option to watch reruns of old television shows while doing homework, studying, etc…think again. Rather than seeking a less distracting form of entertainment when your working hard, put the remote down, refocus, and get the work done. There will be plenty of time to watch reruns when you’re done. If you’re like me and still struggle to concentrate in complete silence, put on music instrumentals; it is a great way to fill the room with non-distracting noise. Good luck!

 

 

~Arlinda Mulosmanaj

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The Roots of Wisdom

Norse mythology, although seemingly ancient, can be applied to much of our present lives. Take the legend of the Norse God Odin, he sought wisdom and the legend states that he even sacrificed one of his eyes in the pursuit of knowledge. While our sacrifices may not be a drastic as Odin’s, do we not still sacrifice in the pursuit of gaining knowledge? We sacrifice our time, our money towards tuition and supplies, our friends when we choose to do homework instead of going out, and our energy while we work towards absorbing the facts we are taught in class and struggle to make new connections and observations. Each semester, and every day we take the time to learn and understand something new, we make sacrifices in the hopes of obtaining wisdom.

While researching Norse mythology, I came across the legend of Odin’s discovery of the Runes. Odin pushed his body and mind beyond what he thought humanly possible in order to attain an understanding of runes. After acknowledging the hidden language and mystery of the runes, Odin is said to have stated, “then I was fertilized and became wise; / I truly grew and thrived. / From a word to a word I was led to a word, / from a work to a work I was led to a work.” Knowledge can never be quenched by seeking and finding the answer to one question; instead, it is a pursuit of information that forms roots stretching endlessly in all directions. From the roots of our proverbial knowledge tree we learn and we grow. Odin’s journey to comprehend the mystical runes is viewed as a sacrifice of himself to himself. The myth conveys a form of rebirth in which Odin was able to let the ignorant part of himself go in order to be reborn as someone with a better understanding of the world around him.

Odin is often portrayed with his ravens, Hugin and Munin, perched atop his shoulders or hovering nearby. Recent texts translate the names of Odin’s ravens as thought (Hugin) and memory (Munin). The significance of the two birds can only be valued by attributing value to the concepts of thought and memory. While Odin sacrificed much in his journey for knowledge, he also gained a renewed sense of memory and new thoughts that led him in the direction of continuing his quest for knowledge. Odin was able to stretch the constraints of his memory in order to maintain a new flow of information, just as his thoughts were able to expand and encompass his new perception of the world. Odin may have sacrificed in order to attain wisdom, but he gained much more than he could have realized.

As college students working hard towards creating a better future, do we not sacrifice our ignorance in order to learn more about the world around us? Are we not reborn into individuals with a better understanding of society and ourselves when we complete the first steps of our journey? Do we not crave to learn more and do more with the knowledge we attain? When I first began to attend an institute of higher education, I hoped it would make me a better person. I hoped for a brighter future and a greater understanding of myself and the world around me. As graduation approaches, I realize I’m not done yet. I realized that the quest for wisdom doesn’t end in four short years; instead it is ongoing and this is just part of our search for understanding.

 

~Arlinda Mulosmanaj

Unremembered Acts of Kindness

William Wordsworth once wrote “the best portion of a good man’s life: his little, nameless unremembered acts of kindness and love.” We all hope to make a difference. We hope that we will someday perform a grand act that will forever alter someone else’s life in a positive way, but it does not always take a grand gesture to impact someone’s life. It is the everyday moments of smiling, saying hello, listening to someone speak, and being a compassionate person that make a difference. While all of our moments of kindness may not be able to be pinpointed and may not always be remembered, they alter someone’s mood; they change a person’s day or perception of the world around them and make a difference even if it goes unnoticed at the moment.

I stumbled upon an episode of One Tree Hill titled “Songs to Love and Die By” which premiered during season 4 of the show. The episode was based in a dream, which occurred when one of the characters experienced heart failure and was met by the ghost of a deceased love one. The character didn’t think he mattered, he was unaware he made such a tremendous impact on those around him, until he was shown the lives of his friends and family had he made selfish choices in life rather than his random acts of kindness. The little acts of kindness he put forth into the world altered and shaped the lives of all those around him, even if it wasn’t entirely obvious at the time said acts were performed.

It is the little acts of selflessness that make a difference. Sometimes it takes a ghost from our past to afford us the opportunity to realize we have made a difference. We have positively impacted the life of those around us through what William Wordsworth described as “nameless unremembered acts of kindness.” While all of our selfless choices may not be remembered, the feelings of compassion and understanding long outlive the memory of our words or gestures. We can create a change in the world by listening to someone else and letting them know they are not alone. We can choose to positively impact society around us everyday, without waiting for the opportunity for a grand gesture; it’s the little moments of kindness that inspire others to make kind choices as well. As Eleanor Roosevelt once stated, “one’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes…and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.” Choose to make a difference today. We don’t need to wait until life circumstances play out the way we want them to in order to become better people; we can start being better people now.

~Arlinda Mulosmanaj

Not an Angel

We’re trying to build a future. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? It is a saddening truth that many view building a future in terms of financial stability, rather than in terms of building themselves up for the future they deserve. It isn’t always about money; it’s about being a better person and allowing yourself to grow. Our education, our career choices, and our future goals should be equal parts chasing our personal interests, trying to become more enlightened, and building financial stability.

Sometimes, while we chase our goals, we lose sight of ourselves. We push our bodies and our minds, but we forget to challenge our emotional growth. William Shakespeare’s King Henry VIII reminds me to focus on striving to become a better person. The quote I most often recite when reminding myself to build a better future states, “we all are men, / in our own natures frail, and capable / of our flesh; few are angels.” Human nature pushes us towards maintaining our survival; we react on instinct and seldom do we think through all of our actions and their consequences. Like the quote, our natures are sometimes “frail,” we give in to temptation and we make poor decisions; we are impulsive, and spontaneous, and we do not always think things through, especially our future. We push our bodies to stay up studying or wake up early for classes, and for those of us who love the fields we choose, it’s worth it. However, for some, who are chasing money rather than following their intellectual interests, it becomes an exhausting experience, which tears individuals down both mentally and physically. We attend institutes of higher education to become better people, to find a way to make a difference in society. the important thing is that while we aspire to find the means to make a difference, we also manage to make a difference to ourselves, to afford ourselves the opportunity to grow and become better people than we were yesterday.

While we are not angels, neither in their pure angelic innocence, or in their fierce avenging form, we make mistakes, but at the end of the day we try to become better people. We try to make a difference. We want to prove to ourselves that we have it in us to create a brighter future. Many stories over the centuries describe the fall of Lucifer by conveying the fallen angels as jealous beings who envied humans for their free will; their ability to choose for themselves. We are not angels; it is our mistakes that help us grow, that teach us about life and humanity, it is our mistakes that teach us to become better individuals. We can make our own choices; our minds are our own, as are our futures. Think through your choices and try to make the choice that betters you as an individual. You can make a greater difference by bettering yourself than you can by chasing finances.

 

~Arlinda Mulosmanaj

Fairy Dream Prison

Throughout our lives, we dream, we fantasize, and we imagine all the things we want and hope to obtain. Sometimes, our dreams consume us to the point where we lose sight of everything else in our lives and focus solely on getting to where we want to go. In the process, we take things for granted assuming they will always be there. This blog serves as a reminder to appreciate everything in life, and to realize that our dreams are not something that can be captured and held prisoner by our minds; our dreams are a reality we hope for, we strive for, and we should not neglect the notion that dreams are fragile. Dreams need to be valued for the freedom they provide us in affording us the opportunity to realize a different possibility for reality. Take the time to appreciate the beauty of your dreams without dwelling on only the outcome. Chasing your dreams should lead to enlightenment and fulfillment, not destruction.

Katherine Mansfield

“The Opal Dream Cave”

In an opal dream cave I found a fairy:

Her wings were frailer than flower petals,

Frailer far then snowflakes.

She was not frightened, but poised on my finger,

Then delicately walked into my hand.

I shut the two palms of my hands together

And held her prisoner.

I carried her out of the opal cave,

Then opened my hands.

First she became thistledown,

Then a mote in a sunbeam,

Then—nothing at all.

Empty now is my opal dream cave.

The notion of fairy and their connection to human dreams has been told and retold over the centuries. Fairy’s can be viewed as the keepers of dreams, and in many portrayals, faeries bring about the bitter realization that our dreams do not always leave us with the feelings of inspiration and desire; sometimes, our dreams can dissolve and leave us with feelings of loss instead. Katherine Mansfield’s poem “The Opal Dream Cave” leaves readers with the perception that if one tries to capture a dream and hold it as a prisoner, they run the risk of losing it. The fairy in the poem can be perceived as a symbol for the dreamer. The speaker chases after their dreams to the point that they extinguish the beauty that is contained in the magic of having a dream. The speaker realizes too late that they have not appreciated the journey of chasing a dream because they were too busy trying to catch something beautiful without learning to value it first.

We attend classes and try to better ourselves so that we can seek the fulfillment of our goals and our dreams. However, often times we forget to enjoy the beauty in the journey towards our future. While we may not be at risk or losing a fairy, we will be at risk of losing ourselves if we do not place value on more than just a desired outcome. We learn each day and we attend institutes of higher education so that we can better ourselves for the day that we achieve our goals. When the day comes that we realize our dreams have come true, we will be ready to appreciate it.

 

~Arlinda Mulosmanaj

If All the Stories are True…

Our imaginations guide us. Our minds offer an escape to the often stressful and overwhelming reality we all face. We sit in our classes day to day and gather knowledge about different society’s and different people all over the world and throughout time. We learn that although so much has changed, we still share similarities to many of the society’s we learn about. Our mind fills with knowledge on a daily basis, so it only makes sense that our imaginations become a source of expression for everything we have learned.

Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices book series has been just as magical as her Mortal Instruments series and Infernal Devices series! Set in a world where half-angel half-human warriors live among us as the Shadowhunters who protect us (even when we can’t see them) against demon invaders and rebellious Downworlders (witches, warlocks, werewolves, and fairies!). A reoccurring statement throughout all of her works is “all the stories are true.” Her books convey the tragedy of loss and the overwhelming feeling of having the world resting on our shoulders, even if that isn’t the actual case. We can learn about society and the struggles of growing up while becoming immensely entertained by Clare’s fantastic fantasy novels. Imagination is a powerful tool and while it is often far-fetched, there are truths to the stories we create and all the stories that have been created. Ancient mythology stems from societal explanations about that which they did not understand. Why then is it so difficult to realize there is a blending of reality and fantasy?

We box ourselves into societal labels so that we can understand that fantasy is not real while reality is seemingly real. However, reality is not always as we perceive it to be; appearances misguide us and half-truths deceive just as much as lies do. Fantasy, while it may not be real, is based in some notion of observation that reveals a truth about society. It allows us to open our minds to a new perspective without judgment because we view it as entertainment rather than an imaginative outlook on life. Therefore, our imaginations contain the capability of educating us even when we do not realize it, and that is precisely why it is so magical!

~Arlinda Mulosmanaj

The Stories We Were Told

Hello Obscurians!

When I was a child, my family would often tell me scary stories in an attempt to get me to behave. Most of the time, I would rebelliously prepare to ward myself against the evil forces in their stories by places my toys around the room to keep watch while I slept peacefully. The story I heard most often was that of an evil old lady who would kidnap children in the middle of the night if they didn’t listen to their parents. I doubt my Barbie dolls could have protected me from that! Eventually, we grow up and we realize the stories we heard as children were simply a parenting technique to make us behave. It wasn’t until watching the Supernatural series that I began to acknowledge the mystic legends behind the stories which once caused fear in my childish heart.

Season 1 episode 18 of Supernatural referred to as “Something Wicked” inspired a new perspective on the tales I was told when I was younger. The episode features an evil witch, although, he turned out to be a male not an old lady as I was told. He is later identified as a Shtriga, a Albanian witch that sucks the life force out of little children and causes them to become ill and hospitalized, thus becoming separated from their families. As an Albanian-American who was once taunted with a similar story, you can see how I might have found this interesting. While I thought I was the only child to be told this story as a means of parenting behavioral interference, apparently the legends of the Shtriga existed long before my childhood so much so that a television show featured a reference to it! After some research, I discovered many other cultures share a similar story that I’m sure is also used against naughty children. Similar stories include Baba Yaga in Slavic folklore and the Strigoi in Romanian folklore.

A story that I thought was unique to my childhood turned out to be popular among many cultures of the world, and even a major television show! While we think our experiences are drastically different from those around us, as we get older we realize that there are many similarities between ourselves and others. As the new semester starts take a look at the students sitting around you in class. Maybe their parents told them the same stories you were told as a child, and maybe you’ll find that they share many other similarities to you. Maybe, you’ll realize that while you discovered something about a new classmate you also made a new friend. Enjoy learning throughout the semester, both learning new information in class and learning about new people. The semester flies by, so try to make a memorable one, and welcome back!

~Arlinda Mulosmanaj