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AlKhemy: Steampunk-Gypsy-Naiad-Acharya

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[ archive | An Ever-Expanding History ]

The Path of the Humanist Historian [Feb. 7th, 2012|10:08 am]
AlKhemy: Steampunk-Gypsy-Naiad-Acharya
[Ooh I'm Feelin' |sleepysleepy]
[I'm Jammin' To |the sounds of people fencing]

I consider myself to be a bit of an amateur historian. Ask anyone who has been to my house and they can verify just how many books I have on my shelf that have to do with some sort of historical subject. I work at Academie Duello, which teaches swordplay, renaissance martial arts and is home to Vancouver’s only arms and armour museum. If you look onto my computer’s hard drive in hopes to find a movie “The Big Lebowski” is the only non historical film I have on there. I am currently learning archery as well as how to ride a horse- which some of my friends find amusing as I don’t know how to drive a car yet! I don’t just love history, I am living it, albeit living it within the comforts of our modern society.

I never went to post secondary school and all my knowledge has come from the research I have done on my own over the years. I do, however, have friends who did go to university and have a degree or their masters in history. I am glad to know that many of them consider me an equal when discussing and debating historical topics. My friend, Eugene has even said he sometimes envies the freedom I have had to study whatever aspects of history I wanted instead of just what he had to study for university. I love that I have been able to go off and research any aspect of history at any time I desired based on whatever tickles my fancy at any given time! There is so much to know I couldn’t possibly ever study it all, and not too mention I am going to be drawn to certain things more so than others as I learn more and more.

For the last few years I keep being drawn to these moments in our World’s history: The American Civil War, and the various rebellions in Ireland that took place for over 700 years and lead to the Irish Civil War and the Troubles. I have, however, had flings with other moments in history in between. I have watched many documentaries on the first and second World Wars and ever since my youth I have been fascinated by the ancient Celts, the Roman Empire and still find myself enthralled by these today. I also am a Western Martial Artists and am constantly immersed in the history of medieval and renaissance Europe on a daily basis. Just recently I read a few books and articles on the War of 1812 as well as the North West/ Red River Rebellion as I have been just eating up these incredible stories of my country's history. Yet, when I am done with these "flings" I always find myself avidly coming back to the American Civil War and Irish rebellions. I feel a certain passion and resonance within myself when I am immersed in the stories and battles from those particular moments in history. One of the reasons I am so fascinated by the past is it allows me to understand where I am now and how we all got here. It allows me to appreciate all that I have and it also inspires me to keep seeking and advocating change in today’s world as we continue to evolve and improve ourselves looking toward future generations.

When I read about the woman of the Easter Rising, I feel my heart begin to pound and I like to imagine what it would have been like to be there that day in April 1916. Sometimes I like to picture myself as Constance Markievicz, or one of the brave woman of Cumann na mBan like Winifred Carney armed with a revolver and pistols. Perhaps I may have been acting as one of the Red Cross workers healing the wounded, or maybe I would have been one of the couriers sneaking through the streets of Dublin relaying messages between the General Post Office and St. Stephen’s Green evading the British checkpoints. However, this is how I would see myself through my modern day perspective and the person I am, having being born and raised in this generation.

What if I had been a poor Catholic mother living in the slums off of Bachelor’s Walk wondering where the next meal for my children was going to come from... and at what cost? If I was this woman chances are I would not have been fighting for the idea of an Irish Republic- I would have been fighting just to survive day to day for my life. Perhaps I could have been one of the more privileged residents of Dublin who had a flat in the heart of the city? I likely would have felt frightened and at best inconvenienced by yet another violent rebellion- which was just going to give the British one more reason to tighten the leash they’ve held over Ireland for centuries.

Many people of Dublin felt torn as to where there sympathies lay right after the Rising. Though many of the public were sympathetic to the Republican cause, the Rising swept over the city so quickly- without warning- and caused a lot of death and destruction. However, when the British military quickly occupied the city and executed all the predominant political members affiliated with the Rising, it caused a huge sway in public sympathy and outcry. Perhaps I would have like many of those Dubliners who finally had something awake inside me as I read about the executed Republicans. Those men were school teachers, barristers, poets and journalists who were fighting for a dream- for a free Ireland- and were now laying in an unmarked grave in the Arbour Hill prison yard. All I can do is speculate as to what sort of person I could have been and how the events of my life and the times would have shaped me. I can only react to them as the person I am now.

I can only imagine what my life would have been like growing up as a woman in Dublin at the turn of the century. I cannot possibly know for absolute fact what life in those times would have done to my psyche and what my unique perspective and experiences would have been like. I was born in Canada as a third generation Irish woman- of mixed heritage- and I can only look back to that time from the perspective of the person I am in this time. As a poet when I write about these times in history I feel my heart sing with the inspiration of those women who fought and defended their vision for a new way of life. I like to think and even hope that had I been there, I would have been one of those women.... but, I am not one of those women. I am me and all I can do is strive to understand and learn as best I can.

We are all products of our history, but we are not solely our history. We are born in this generation and have felt the ripples and live through the waves that were created by those who came before us, but… We are not our history. We are the here and now. All I can do is try to relate and understand as best I can through my own perspective that is an accumulation of my experiences of my generation. I can share what I have found with others and hope to gain their perspectives which might in turn open up new ways of understanding the words of our past.

As a western martial artist I see this being done every day in my community as old texts are being translated and re-translated and reinterpreted all the time. No single book or, single teacher can possibly give us the entire picture. It is important to read and study all of the different perspectives in order to try and put together the pieces of the puzzle. I take what I can and apply it as best I can and try to share what I have come to know with others as well. Every time I take a class from a new instructor I get unique perspective on how to apply the martial techniques and body mechanics I am using. Every time I teach one of my students and I see the way they interpret my teachings and make it their own, I gain more knowledge of my martial art as well. I love learning from many different people and applying the techniques I learn with them as it helps me to create my own interpretations of the Art. I find it is important not to allow myself to get stuck in just one way of perceiving how something can be done- or has been done before. It is important to go into everything using all of your previous experiences as your foundation but, with the open mind to allow new things to become known.

I was born in 1983 in Toronto, Ontario. Thanks to modern technology and medicine I survived infancy despite being in and out of hospital frequently until the age of three. I grew up with the use of all my limbs, and I have no major physical or mental disabilities. I am Caucasian, am told I am fairly decent to look at, and some might even call me attractive. I have never had my home invaded or found myself in the midst of a war zone. I have never gone without shelter and have never been hungry for more than a few hours, let alone a few days. I know that I am one of the most privileged people born on this Earth. I keep this in mind whenever I am studying any perspective, or story in history- actually let me rephrase that. I keep this in mind whenever I talk to anyone about any subject and when I research anything. It’s the best I can do and despite how hard I try I am going to develop certain biases and opinions... and so are you. I wouldn’t expect anything less. This is why I crave to know people. This is why I am eager to talk to them and learn their perspectives on things. How do others see the world? How do they see their history? How do they perceive and interpret their experiences that make them the person they are today?

I may not agree with your perspective and if I don’t I will likely be all the more enthralled to know why. It is important for me to be able to understand what drives people to believe what they do. I try to know how it is that they have come to their conclusions through their own experiences. As I learn and try to understand the perspectives of others, it allows me the chance to understand myself- and the world- all the better. My own opinions may or may not be swayed by what I learn, but at least I can understand and perhaps even relate to other points of view. That is all I can do and that is all I can ever ask of anyone else.

Many of the books and texts I have on the American Civil War include collections of letters, journal entries and newspaper articles written by those who lived and breathed in that time in history. When I read the autobiography of Frederick Douglas, or the journal entries Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain I am given a taste of the perspective of a person- an individual- who was a part of another time. I am transported back to a very unique and amazing perspective of someone who was immersed in the American Civil War. Naturally, I am going to have some prejudices when I enter my research and no matter how hard I try to “leave them at the door” some residue will still cling.

When I read old letters sent by a Confederate soldier to his wife, how do I choose to perceive this man? Do I chose to see this Southern man as an anti-abolitionist with no regard for human rights, or do I chose to see him as a farmer from Georgia who was fighting because Union soldiers came and burnt down his home. Is there room for him to be both? And when I sympathize with the people of the South- who were practically starving by the time the war came to an end- does that mean I am someone who supports a slave labour economy and society? Does that mean I can’t also feel sorry for a mother in Maine who had lost her husband and all her male children to the cannon ball and dysentery while fighting for the Union?

When I read about Abraham Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1st 1863, do I see him as a hero for human rights, or do I see him as a crafty politician who only issued the formal order as a means to gain more votes and a second term in office? Not to mention, most people on both sides of the conflict never thought he war would have dragged on for so long. Many of the Union soldiers were coming to the end of their terms of service and both sides were eager to see this horribly bloody war end. Many supporters of the Union in the North were willing to lose the South if it meant that war could finally be over. When Lincoln moved forward with the Emancipation Proclamation it gave white men a reason to renew their term of service and it also allowed for black men to finally sign up and fight for the freedom of their people- despite the fact they were only to receive half the pay a white soldier made.

I am going to have my own strong feelings when taking this information in and it is key that I try and keep myself in check and not allow these emotions to get in the way of my acquiring new knowledge. It is important to me as I study that I continue to maintain and keep striving to explore and research all these different perspectives while I find my own conclusions. It is through the building of such understandings that we (as a people) have been able to gain more victories and forward momentum in the ongoing battle of human rights.

It is important for all of us to keep sharing and to keep spreading what we have come to know. This is what will plant the seeds for the next generation to grow with. New understandings and ways of living can be achieved as we continue to evolve as a civilization and as a common people. The fact that we are here- where we are now- today is proof of this. I try to take things in from a humanist point of view and try to relate to what I am studying through these eyes. This is what gives me such a passion to know history. I want to get a taste of the varied and vastly different lives of those who were there, who lived and breathed in those times. I want to understand why it happened, why it was important, and why my world and the people in it are shaped into who they are today because of it.

This is one of the reasons why I love history. This is one of the reasons I love living here and living now.
link2 took to the skies|spread your wings

I <3 Nerds! [Feb. 14th, 2011|12:46 pm]
AlKhemy: Steampunk-Gypsy-Naiad-Acharya
[Ooh I'm Feelin' |lovedloved]
[I'm Jammin' To |TRAGICALLY HIP- Little Bones]

So my boyfriend left this math equation on my facebook wall:
x^2+(y-(x^2)^(1/3))^2 = 1

He then directed me to the link below and got me to graph the equation (do it!):

link4 took to the skies|spread your wings

Combining Two of My Loves [Feb. 8th, 2011|07:45 am]
AlKhemy: Steampunk-Gypsy-Naiad-Acharya
[Ooh I'm Feelin' |excitedexcited]
[I'm Jammin' To |BLIND MELON- Mouth Full of Cavities]

For the past year, I have been training at the world's #1 Western Martial Arts school here in my beautiful city of Vancouver, British Columbia. My main focus of study at Academie Duello has been the Italian rapier and the longsword. As of today I now start training to become one of the instructors for their kids program.

That's right: I'm soon going to be teaching children how to sword fight!!!!!!!!!

Life doesn't get much better than this! :oD

you can check out the school and the programs we offer (such as archery, mounted combat, etc) at
link5 took to the skies|spread your wings

Content [Jan. 24th, 2011|12:30 am]
AlKhemy: Steampunk-Gypsy-Naiad-Acharya
[I'm Jammin' To |SNEETCH- Sauteed Onions]

I'm the happiest I've been in a looooong time.

... and all things considered, my life is pretty wonderful on a regular basis so where I am right now is the usual multiplied by ten!

that is all!
link4 took to the skies|spread your wings

So Many REDHEADS!!! [Nov. 29th, 2010|12:11 am]
AlKhemy: Steampunk-Gypsy-Naiad-Acharya
[Current Location |MONTY PYTHON- Philosopher's Song]
[Ooh I'm Feelin' |amusedamused]


This was actually a failed project to try and get the Gingers to breed. All they did was drink a bunch of beer and whiskey instead. Hhmmm...What does that say about those in possession of Ginger Gene? ;oP
link12 took to the skies|spread your wings

Music Heals Everything! [Nov. 17th, 2010|08:20 pm]
AlKhemy: Steampunk-Gypsy-Naiad-Acharya
[Ooh I'm Feelin' |melancholymelancholy]
[I'm Jammin' To |UTAH PHILLIPS- Hallelujah I'm a Bum]

After a grueling weekend with the flu, I had to call in sick Monday and Tuesday from work as well! it truly did a number on me. On Tuesday night, however, the band was scheduled to play at DEUX BLUES and I was not going to let anything get in the way of me performing.

The. Show. Was. AWESOME! The house was packed (and on a Tuesday!) everyone was dancing and SNEETCH had our keyboard player Felix up on stage with us for the first time since Folly Fest in New Brunswick back in July! We had a blast and I felt my energy completely turn around during the show. Everyone in the band said you would have had no idea I had the flu (though, I could tell places where my voice wasn't as strong)! We also had a few offers for some future gigs, one being an AIDS benefit Show at the end of the month, but also a music festival in Kelowna this coming Summer! ^_^

The show last night did more then heal my body, it helped heal my soul as well. My falconry mentor had recently sold my very special feathered companion, Cabal to Ontario without telling any of us she had done so till after he was gone. She had mentioned before that she was considering selling him months ago to which myself and few of her apprentices offered to buy him from her to which she agreed upon. I felt betrayed by her actions and her secrecy in selling him as well as the sorrow of losing such a special spirit friend.

Cabal in all his glory perched on my glove the last time I would ever see him :o(

I had started seeking out other falconry mentors as my first teacher was proving to be unreliable to myself (and the other apprentices under her) as well as to the birds. The more I began studying The Art and learning from other falconers the more I began to see that she was talking the talk, but not walking the walk and that the birds training and happiness were suffering for it. The only reason I haven't completely wrote her off is because I am still very connected to the other birds Saber (our 3/4 Gyr 1/4 Saker Falcon) and Mistrel (our Spanish Peregrine Falcon) and I want to be able to stay close to them- especially since a new baby Red Tail Hawk, named Mohave, has just joined them and I know that while training him the others are going to start taking a backseat.

Mistrel having a rare, peaceful moment perched by the inlet watching the mountains.

Saber & I enjoy a delicious lunch of quail... umm, there's something on your beak there, buddy!

*sigh* It is a shame when you progress to a level in your training when you realize that some of your teachers really aren't that fit to be teaching you!

I am going to cut this short as tonight we are holding a tribute memorial to TemPest who many of you will remember was murdered a year ago- shaking the foundations of my friends, chosen family and the BC music and poetry community. Once again, I feel that tonight as I gather with my friends, passing 'round the bottle of whiskey and singing songs and sharing stories I will once again, be healed...

Goodnight all!
link3 took to the skies|spread your wings

Nice To Be Recognized [Oct. 26th, 2010|01:29 pm]
AlKhemy: Steampunk-Gypsy-Naiad-Acharya
[Ooh I'm Feelin' |amusedamused]
[I'm Jammin' To |GOGOL BORDELLO- Mishto]

While at the AMAZING Gogol Bordello concert on Sunday I had a guy in the audience run up to me screaming "Hey! You're that girl from SNEETCH! Awesome!" He then high fived me and asked if the rest of the band was there.

Totally made my night... but that got topped by Gogol Bordello by the end if it all! ;oP

Best concert experience of 2010 so far- even beat the amazing Scissor Sisters concert I saw a month ago!
link4 took to the skies|spread your wings

H.P. Lovecraft Inspired Poem [Oct. 20th, 2010|12:18 pm]
AlKhemy: Steampunk-Gypsy-Naiad-Acharya
[Ooh I'm Feelin' |goodgood]
[I'm Jammin' To |purring cats on my lap!]

I was asked back in the Spring of 2010 to be apart of mixed media event celebrating what would have been H.P. Lovecraft's 120th birthday.


The show was a roaring success and the audience was filled with people in costumes of all different ages and from all different walks of life. As mentioned in my last entry, my piece I brought to the stage was influenced by not only Lovecraft but by the insanity that came from years in the trenches along the Western Front in WW1. I was very nervous about the poem because I had never written anything with such a strong historical content nor had I written something with such a dark feeling that didn't show at least some "light at the end of the tunnel." I also threw away any rhyming scheme or rhythmn which I had not done before. I sent the piece to the organizer of the event for his input. He was so impressed he had me as the finale for the night (don't ask me why)! Anywhew, here it is...


The year of 1917 has shown no end to this...
This plague that has swept over Europe
In January, the snow had come to fall along the Western Front
changing the mask of trench warfare
but it was only a masquerade
The snow gave a strange beauty
even to the desolate waste that is No Man’s Land
A white blanket,
lying softly,
tumbling over the quiet ground of the mine fields
so that all the ugliness and death could be hidden
The snowflakes
tenderly shrouded the dead bodies
and scenes of destruction
of madness
such of which has become
the regular horror that is life in war

It seemed for awhile as though everyone was just waiting
The tracks were frozen
stopping most supplies from reaching the troops
vehicles halted by the ever falling snow
and sometimes you could even fool yourself
into thinking that this Great War had frozen with it
but the guns...
The guns, they still fired
they were the only thing that made any noise,
but when the Gods of Nature decide to howl
their icy breaths blowing silently screaming snow
across the surface of the Earth
even our guns could do no good
against such power as the Winter wields
in No Mans Land
you cannot strike what you cannot see

In those Winter days
came periods of eerie long silences along the Western Front
that lasted for hours
and within those Eternities I first began to hear
the true madness
In those screaming silences
We all could hear it
both sides
German and French
sitting, holding our breaths, waiting
until the weather would warm and we could kill each other once again
Those of us that survived that hard Winter
once again got to live under a constant canopy
of shrieking steel
delivering death and destruction
and these are days which no man was meant to know
Trench warfare has become my daily life
And I wait with the rest of the French Army as we are sent like lambs
into the slaughter house by ignorant commanding generals
made to work with no rest and no gain
for the sacrifices we have made

After a time I began to think that a man would have to go insane
in order to keep one self alive within such circumstances
You would have to lose a part of your soul
when you are constantly surrounded by such waste
and you have no choice
You either come to handle it
or you don’t
There is no middle ground
We are at war and this is what our lives are now
and I have truly come to believe
that in order to survive I have had to lose a certain part of my mind
that I shall never have returned to me

I have seen others fall into the Depths of Madness
Its face shows Its self differently in every man it touches
some succumb quietly
while others are dragged kicking and screaming
into the darkness of these Hells
but some of us,
some of us welcome the Maddening with open arms
taking it in like a long lost lover
familiar and comfortable inside their insanity
and we all have something that is able to hear her call
speaking softly to us all
And these,
these are secrets that were once whispered to the first men in their dreams
told by something Older than God Himself
and sometimes when a man’s mind is pushed to the brink of it’s sanity
you can here these whispers again
Those whispers
I have seen can drive a man to the truest depths of madness
in its most pure and primal form
and once you have been faced by its horrors
you can no longer deny it’s existence
It is in every one of us and I have seen it’s face before me
and I have now come to wonder if it has a name

link1 took to the skies|spread your wings

History Is Influencing Me Artistically! [Oct. 18th, 2010|06:17 pm]
AlKhemy: Steampunk-Gypsy-Naiad-Acharya
[Ooh I'm Feelin' |creativecreative]
[I'm Jammin' To |JOHN LENNON- Luck of the Irish]

I have found that since leaving on Tour with my band this Summer that I have finally started incorporating stories and struggles in history into my writing. I have wanted to write songs and compose poems with more historical context for some time. I have always identified with the spirit of the bards, whose poetry and sagas were how information and stories were shared and passed down. I have always LOVED a lot of the folk greats who told the tales of their times, or who sang of past struggles and victories. I have recently been getting into the music of the Wobblies (IWW) most notably, Joe Hill. I have always felt that telling these stories was almost like some unwritten duty and responsibility of all musicians, poets and writers. Our art should not just entertain and please, but should also have a purpose. Even if that purpose is just relating to people on a human level that shows that we are all connected through shared experiences of love, loss, trials, tribulations and victories.

Last Halloween, I dressed as a Confederate soldier from the American Civil War. As the weeks built up leading to Halloween I began composing a song on the ukulele for my "character" to sing about his time serving in the war and leaving his home. I have since re-wrote it from the point of view of the soldier's wife and have started teaching the song to another musician friend of mine. I knew after I had done this that I wanted to really find the time to start composing more work that takes my love of history and combines it with my love of music, poetry and performance.

Before I went on tour this Summer, I was approached by the one of the organizers of Victoria, BC's "Tongues of Fire" (their night for all things slam and spoken word) to be apart of a "Cthuluian Cabaret" he was going to be hosting on what would have been H.P. Lovecraft's birthday. Needless to say, I told him I was in! He wanted a diverse group of performers- primarily slam poets and musical acts- to create a Lovecraftian inspire piece. I decided I wanted to do something that took the popular Lovecraft theme of insanity and bridging that with the strain a soldier undergoes in warfare. I just had no idea where to begin! LOL!

During the tour, some of the downtime I got while on the road was spent watching this excellent 26 part series the BBC did back in the 1960's about WW1 called 'The Great War.' While in Fredericton, New Brunswick one afternoon I had watched an episode that dealt about the French mutinies that took place along the Western Front. It really hit a nerve in me hearing the narrator quote the words of the soldiers who had been living in such horrid conditions, without relief or reward for years that lead to their morale finally giving way as many simply walked off the field and refused orders. From there I found the inspiration I needed to start writing my Lovecraft tribute piece. I ended up writing an entire short story! I knew I couldn't perform that so I took inspiration from my own short story and wrote a persona poem. It was received very highly at the event and it was a new step for me as a poet as the subject matter and written style were totally different from anything I had done previously!

I am now working on a few new pieces and immersing myself in wikkipedia articles and books! The first piece is a poem that will be more like a rhyming story about the struggle of the Acadian and Mi'kmaq people's against the British in what we now know in Canada as Nova Scotia. I wanted to write a piece about the Acadians for some time and when I returned from the maritime provinces where their history is held, I was all the more inspired. I have also just started working on some material about the history of the Irish rebellions against the British in numerous forms over the past 800 years. I am so excited with all the inspiration I have been getting as I feed my brian with delicious, delicious history! I am also excited (and nervous) to see how these pieces will be received when I add them into my sets as they have such a completely different feel from what people have seen from me in the past. Regardless of such, I am really enjoying the process creating these and am happy to be working on this sort of material!
link4 took to the skies|spread your wings

Whatcha' Say You Meet Me Down at Heart Attack & Vine Where the Rain Dogs Come Out To Play! [Oct. 14th, 2010|06:00 pm]
AlKhemy: Steampunk-Gypsy-Naiad-Acharya
[Ooh I'm Feelin' |satisfiedsatisfied]
[I'm Jammin' To |STRING CHEESE INCIDENT- Outside & Inside]


link1 took to the skies|spread your wings

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