Whispers of Our Ancestors

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This week was a hard week physically for me.  I caught some god-awful virus through work that completely threw my system off.  While I have been trying to lose weight, the violent projectile vomiting that came with this virus, is not what I had in mind.  I have lived for almost five days now on Pedialite, Ensure, and cold-pressed juices.  I will say one thing though,  I may not have much of an appetite for food, but I have hungered after time in nature…I have longed for the songs of the cicadas and dramatic dances of the trees.  I have dragged myself from the house just to spend time with familiar voices, spirits, and animals.

The past couple of weeks have been full of pleasant surprises from the past for me.  My mother had been digging through boxes of things that my grandma and grandpa had collected over the years.  During her digging, she came across a collection of gnomes figurines that had belonged to my grandfather.  He collected a series of figurines made by Tom Clark at Cairn Studios in Davidson, North Carolina.  My grandpa was the reason that I started collecting them.  I was talking to my mother on the phone one night and she asked if I wanted her to ship them to me.  Of course I jumped at the chance.

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When I opened the box, I saw familiar faces of old friends from my teen years.  My grandpa was a rotund little man.  He would sit around for hours and tell us stories of gnomes, and woodland elves and nymphs.  Even as older teens we were enraptured by the tales.  It was if he knew these creatures personally and had walked the same paths that they had walked.

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I know that I have recounted many memories of both my Cherokee grandma and my little Scots-Irish grandma…but my grandpa always seemed to keep us kids at arms length.  The only time that he seemed to engage us much was when he would tell us his stories.  Most of his life he was far too serious…gruff and cruel at times.  It was only during these stories that a twinkle that seemed to have faded into years of far too much bitterness and responsibility, leaped out at us and we would laugh alongside him for just a while.

Now back to that box…that wonderful, magickal box of his that my mother sent me.  In the bottom of the box, wrapped in newspaper dated from the 1930’s, was a small hardback book.  The cover was a worn green and there were white flowers spread across with a mountain scene in the background.  The book was written in German and the only information that gave me any indication of who it belonged to was her name and the year 1898 inscribed on the title page.  I did look up the translation of the title.  It means simply:  Edelweiss:  Stories for Young and Old.

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I called my mother to see if this book was left in the box by accident and if she wanted me to send it back to her.  She quietly said that it was time for things to move to other generations. I asked her about the woman who so unobtrusively had written her name with only the year beside it.

My mother explained that she was a very quiet woman who had not been treated so well by her husband.  She had found solace in books and music.  She said that while my grandfather didn’t talk much about his mother and father and brothers, my grandmother found her mother-in-law to be a likable woman.  Ma said that it wasn’t unusual for my grandmother to walk up behind her as she shelled beans or hung the wash and hear her singing old German folk songs….and she would tell my grandmother stories about growing up in the German countryside.  My mother told me that she is where my grandpa got his love for the forest folk.  She said that my grandmother had told her of memories my great grandma had of the boys all gathered around her.  She would tell them stories of the forest gnomes and elves and changelings.

My mom laughed as she remembered one story my great grandma had shared with my grandma.  She said that one night she found all of the boys tangled up in bedsheets with flashlights.  They had gone out to catch them a kleiner Mann (a little man), and got tripped up in the sheets.   She said it was one of the few times that my grandma could remember her laughing.  Ma said that my grandmother remembered her as a wonderful cook.  There was always fresh bread and sweets on the table.  My grandma passed my great grandma’s recipe for Pfeffernusse cookies down to me.  I added the recipe with some modernization.

pfefferneuse

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the confectioners’ sugar in a brown paper bag(my recipe calls for a pillow case).

  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, pepper, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and baking soda. Set aside.

  3. Place butter, brown sugar, and molasses in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes (my recipe requires all of this be done by hand).  Beat in egg and vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture; beat until just combined. Pinch off dough in tablespoon amounts; roll into 1 1/4-inch balls. Arrange balls 1 1/2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.

  4. Bake until cookies are golden and firm to the touch with slight cracking, about 15 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer sheets to a wire rack to cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Working in batches, place cookies in paper bag (my recipe says a pillow case); shake until well coated. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container (again my recipe says to leave in the pillowcase in a closet for 6 weeks)

As I sat in the woods yesterday morning, my memories swirled back to everything I had talked to my mother about.  My great grandma has been dead since 1938 and my grandpa in 1992.  My grandma lived until 2007.  Each one of them is a part of me.  As I sit in the shadow of the trees, it is easy to imagine an old German folk song softly floating past my ear…or a story of the forest folk and an old man’s laugh.  Just as I have settled into a memory that isn’t really mine to begin with, Frisbee jumps and barks at something moving through the bushes.  It startled me for a moment and then I tell him to calm down…after all, it’s probably a gnome or elf or one of many fae.

I have pieces of my ancestors all around me…books, hats, figurines.  When I look at these pieces, it is evident how the parts of my own soul came to be.  I am a puzzle…made up completely of past present and future.  I have the strength that was forged by those who came before me, the power that is so much a part of me now, and the legacy that I leave for those who come after me.

Blessed Be!

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The Scent of Wild Air

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Yesterday morning was an early morning for me.  My partner has been working all weekend, so to be nice…I volunteered to get the dogs up, feed, and walk them by myself.  I was pretty much still halfway asleep through the process, but as I finished walking Bella (who always takes the longest), I walked over to the pot where my mandrake root is planted.  This plant has been hidden for the whole summer.  They don’t tend to like the horrendously hot summer days that Georgia is known for.  When I looked down into the pot, I saw three tiny little green leaves.  My four year old mandrake root was showing itself!  I hurried inside to drop off my canine bundle and rushed back out to the courtyard.  I knew for a fact that if my mandrake was surfacing, that cooler weather was on its way.

I heard the french doors creak open and looked up to see my partner sleepily pushing Friz out the door with a “He was whining to come out.”  I picked Friz up and we slowly made our way around the property.  Friz lifted his head into the air and sniffed repeatedly.  “You smell it too, don’t you?”  Just every fleeting so often, you could feel and smell coolness right in front of you.  I could feel myself shiver at the prospect of brisk air, breezes, and jackets.

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My heart skipped a beat as we walked over to where the pond used to be and I saw a partially yellow leaf lying in the grass.  I know that most look at fall as a time when things die, but to me it has always signified new beginnings.  I use this time as a chance to clean house.  I clean out the closets and anything that hasn’t been touched or used in a year either goes to Goodwill or some other charity.  I even do this with the animals things.  The local shelters are always in need of something.

Autumn is always the time of year that seems to bring out the pup in Friz.  He becomes more playful, more active.  He runs through the house and patio like a wild man…but then again, fall tends to do that same thing to me.  In autumn, I crave time outside.  On weekends, I am typically outside from before the sun rises to well after it sets.  If I could, I would sleep outside every night and use the stars and moon as my nightlight.  Autumn stirs something in me.  That is when my magick feels strongest.

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With the seasons moving toward fall, I feel closer to nature and all the things it encompasses.  When I walk past the trees, it is as if I can hear them singing in preparation of shedding what they have carried through the first part of the year.  Like me, they are anxious to release the things that they have carried through the first part of the year.  It is almost as if you can hear them sigh in relief as they slowly start to release their leaves and then as if they are too tired to hold them one more moment, they purge themselves of the remaining leaves so that they too might feel the freedom and simplicity of being burdened no more.

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When Friz and I got back into the house yesterday morning, I felt that ‘hibernation’ mode start to wash over me. I pulled the ottoman in front of my big chair, pulled a couple of cookbooks and my coffee over toward me, grabbed a blanket and nestled in with Friz.  We read for a bit, and then drifted off into dreams of colored leaves and brisk breezes.

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Autumn is my time for reading and pouring myself into every kind of book imaginable.  I read everything from books on the Craft, to cookbooks, to fiction, to magazines, to seed catalogs for Spring.  I pull even more into myself and relish the simplicity of everything around me.  It is my time to keep things simple.  Life is far too complicated already.  Fall is a time of comfort food and warm drinks.  It is nesting time for humans.  We spend Spring and Summer going non-stop.  Fall and Winter are the seasons of reflection, introspection, and clearing out the cobwebs that the rest of the year leaves behind.

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As we approach Autumn, I envision the Fae hunting and gathering for the upcoming weather changes and make sure to leave extras in the courtyard.  I add small pieces of flannel that I have cut up for them to use as blankets, matches, milk, bread…anything that they might need for their own comfort.  In my mind, I see them curled up in their own version of a comfy chair reading or sewing with an acorn cap full of warmed milk and a toasted piece of my homemade bread.

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When I walked Friz this evening, I was jarred back into reality.  I felt that balmy late summer breeze lick at my skin and I smelled one of the neighbors grilling out.  As we walked through the haze of hamburger and hotdog smoke, I closed my eyes to try to get back that feeling I had yesterday but try as I might, I was hurled back into late summer.  The little mandrake is holding its own, waiting for the cooler temperatures right around the corner…with each new leaf sprouting, hope for Fall.

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As we walked back toward the condo and my mind is racing toward work tomorrow and all of the challenges it will bring, I take a deep breath.  I can already taste small amounts of stress starting to surface.  I have to be reminded that I have to keep my life simple.  Worrying about things won’t add one more minute to my life.  I watch Mama Crow on the sidewalk fighting with the remains of a cicada.  I laugh out loud.  As Friz and I go through the french doors into the house, I hear my cuckoo clock in the back bedroom.  For some reason, it reminds me to take a deeper breath and not be so serious….and to always smell the breez for that hint of wild air.

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“Wise Men Hear and See As Little Children Do.”

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This week has been a baptism by fire of sorts into the depths of human nature for me.  I have always been one of those people who tried to see the best in people.  This week, however, I have listened as people outright lied to cover their own derrieres or to get other people in trouble.  I have witnessed people so wrapped up in themselves and the stress that surrounded them that they were willing to compromise their own system of ethics.  I have also seen people so wrapped up in ‘life’ that they could not take a moment to breathe, smile or fantasize.

As I watch people living daily life here in Atlanta, it scares me sometimes.  I remember a time when people actually laughed and didn’t take themselves so seriously.  I watch as we become robots of sorts.  We have become devoid of any emotions except for anger and fear.  We have become a ‘get-even’ society.  “Do unto others before they do unto you.”

I called my mother last night.  While we were on the phone, I heard my nephew and his cousin playing in the background.  They were throwing things and yelling.  I asked my mother to put my nephew on the phone.  I asked him why they were throwing things and yelling. He said that they were grownups and that they were at ‘work.’ Out of the mouths of babes…

This morning, my roommate and I went out for lunch.  While we were perusing the menu, we listened as the woman behind us screamed at the waitress.  Her sandwich, from what we and everyone else in the restaurant could hear, was dry.  “But you ate the whole sandwich,” the mild-mannered waitress pointed out.  “Well, I just kept hoping it would get better at some point.”  The waitress comped the meal as the woman continued to loudly protest.

We have become a society of liars, thieves, and generally crabby-assed people.  It is our right to be offensive and hurtful and to deliver our opinion whether people want it or not. We have carried that over into every area of our lives including social media.  Adults have become worse than children.  We don’t know how to play nice anymore.

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As we grow older, we are supposed to grow in wisdom, and love, and understanding.  I have not so much seen that lately.  I look around and see a group of people who have forgotten how to see the magic in the world around them.  Sure….life sucks sometimes.  Situations and circumstances happen, but we choose how we respond to those circumstances and situations.  Now, you notice I said respond, and not react.

One of the definitions I found for the word respond is: To react quickly or positively to a stimulus or treatment.  One of the definitions I found for react is:  To respond with hostility, opposition, or a contrary course of action to.  Both are related, but one is seen as positive and the other more negative.

I have always loved the story of Peter Pan.  In the chronicles of Peter and Wendy by J.M. Barrie, adults are seen as pirates out to squelch the innocence of childhood.  Once one reaches adulthood, magic ceases to exist.  I dare say that even as witches, we sometimes become so wrapped up in the ritual and following everything to the ‘T’ that we forget to let the magick do what magick does.  Magick should flow from us and through us on a daily basis….moment by moment.  It isn’t something that should always have to be stirred up or manipulated.  The butterfly doesn’t have to be coaxed from the crysalis…it is a part of what it is and does.

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Even in my own life, it has become far too easy to react based on the emotions surrounding a situation, than to stop, breathe, and respond with the magick that stirs within my very soul.  If I were to reach inside myself and pull from the stores of power that swirl through my veins, I might handle a crisis quite differently.

Normally my Saturday and Sunday mornings are spent in the woods.  I come to think that they are more magickal than anywhere else around….but this morning, Friz and I slept in (which we never do).  Instead of our morning trip to the woods, we went for a walk just before twilight.  We walked a different path…one that we thought would get us to the woods before dark…through the playground of the complex.  There we saw two little girls and a little boy who I have gotten to know over the years.  “Mr. Gaddy, you and Frisbee come and play with us…Pleeeeeeeeaaasssee!!!”  I relented.  Friz and I headed to the middle of the playground.  “He is the king and she is a knight.  I am a beautiful princess.  You can be the wizard and Frisbee is a dragon.”  I am standing there thinking that it was kind of type-casting but these children have also walked up on me talking to trees and plants and making a bit of magick.  Friz play-bowed as if he knew his part.  He barked and ran in circles with the kids.  “Spell him, Mr. Gaddy! Spell him!”  I laughed out loud.  Mercy, I had not run around like this and laughed like this in what seemed like forever.

When we finished, we plopped down on the swings and Friz rolled onto his side in the dirt. “You are really good at magick,” one of the kids said.  I laughed a bit and under my breath said, “It takes practice.”  The smallest girl overheard me and agreed that yes, it must.  They all waved goodbye to me and Friz and headed home for their dinners.  Friz came over to me and leaned against my leg.  We stayed like that for a while realizing that we had both just witnessed magick through the eyes of a child.

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It was in this moment that I realized that I don’t want my spirit to grow old and brittle.  I am a magickal being.  I need to find ways to guard my heart against anger, bitterness, offense, I have noticed when children play…they may get mad, but they are quick to forgive.  As adults, we have learned to hold onto that grudge, nurse it, feed it.

We say that we believe in all things magickal, but do we truly?  Have we learned to compartmentalize magick? “This doesn’t work for me, so it can’t truly be valid.”  I have friends who follow many different paths.  None are any less real or valid than my path.  Just because I believe in dragons and you don’t, does not mean that dragons aren’t real…same with the fae.

Where have we put all of the wonder that brought us to our path to begin with?  I want to be able to see magick the way a child sees it.  I remember when my girls were 4 or 5 years old and it was Christmas Eve.  We were all sitting in the floor of the family room with wrapping paper and ribbons and tape all around us.  My dad had gone out to check on his goats without a flashlight and tripped and fell against the house.  Steph’s eyes widened and she said, “Oh my doodness! Santa Cwaus is here alweady! Let’s wun for the bedwoom!!”  It didn’t even cross her mind that her grandpa had fallen against the house even though she saw him go outside.  Oh to be able to see with our eyes wide open once again.

When I got home today, I decided to create an easy spell to help me with that child-like spirit.  It starts with a basic Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.  As I stirred the ingredients for the cookies together, the spell began to roll off my tongue:

Eyes wide open, breathing deep…

A child-like heart will no more sleep.

Wonder, hope, excitement, thrill…

Now renewed, my heart will feel.

From a brittle spirit, set me free.

All things magickal, now I’ll see.

Flow within me everyday.

Teach my heart and soul to play.

chocolate chip cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (about 12 ounces) semisweet and/or milk chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter with both sugars; beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; add the salt, vanilla, and eggs. Beat until well mixed, about 1 minute. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

  2. Drop heaping tablespoon-size balls of dough about 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

  3. Bake until cookies are golden around the edges, but still soft in the center, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool on baking sheet 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.

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Blessed Be!

So Is Mischief Really Managed?

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When people get to know me, they realize early on that I am pretty much a “what you see is what you get” type of person.  I have never been one to live on pretense and don’t believe that I should have to be any less than who I am.  I forget sometimes that not everyone else is like that.  Most people allow you to be a part of their lives as long as the need suits them and then you become an inconvenience….or they hold you to a standard that only they are aware of and when you don’t fit that standard, or you step outside of the box that they have constructed around you, you become a parasite that must be eradicated.

This weekend was my birthday.  It was filled with wonderful friends and acquaintances well wishes….except one.  At one time, I thought that we were close.  I would pay visits to his house when he had needs arise with his pets.  After all, he shouldn’t have to dole out money at a vet for something that I could accomplish in ten minutes, should he?  I found myself watching my phone for a text from this person…scanning Facebook for any chance of a ‘Happy Birthday’ wish from him.  I found none.

I have always been one who didn’t think that others opinions of me mattered….until this weekend.  My mind raced back to a phonecall with this person a couple of weeks ago.  He had become irritated with me over the course of the call and reprimanded me.  I quickly corrected him by stating that I would not be spoken to like a child.  In the next few contacts we had via text, everything was cordial, but you could tell they were forced on his end.  I excused it as his right to feel miffed if he felt he needed to be, so I pushed it to the back of my mind.

Friday night, I prepared for my Blue Moon Ritual.  I used part of the ritual as a release.  I always try to push those things away from me that seem to no longer serve a purpose or are harmful.  I always include toxic relationships.

I sat quietly under the moon….watching through the glass jar of water I had put on the table to charge under the moonlight.  Visions began to move through the water.  I saw battles ahead…but I also saw victories.  The thing that sticks out, was that I watched a scene in that water that made me cringe.  I saw relationships being severed with a steel blade.  I know that this is a normal part of life.  Relationships change…people move on.

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I left the tealights burning in the circle around me and curled up on the outdoor sofa.  I woke up in total darkness.  I don’t wear a watch so I had no idea what time it was.  I gathered everything up and went inside.  I quickly glanced at the clock and saw that it was 5:10am.  I had pretty much spent the whole night underneath the moonlight.

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I realized early in the day Saturday that I probably had a good healthy overdose of moon energy.  I was fidgety, antsy…to much energy and not enough outlets for it.  I kept glancing at my phone.  Facebook was filled with well-wishes and Happy Birthday posts.  It was wonderful seeing each one and they filled my heart with love…but there was one missing.  Isn’t that just like us?  We could be sitting in the midst of a banquet searching for one single grape.

The worst part of this was that I let this situation fill me with self-doubt.  What had I done that was so wrong?  Should I have been more understanding?  More sympathetic?  Did I say something hurtful?  No….I had nothing to apologize for.  I would do everything the same way if I had to do it over.  I can only control the things that have to do with my actions, reactions, and words.  I wasn’t hurtful.  I was asked an opinion.  I gave it.

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My partner came up to me at one point yesterday and told me that I seemed down.  “Is it the fact that you are almost 50?” “Yeah, that’s it.”  I lied.  “I am going for a walk in the woods.”  I put Friz’s harness on him and we set out on a far too familiar path.  We walked a little slower than normal.  My mind was a million miles away.

Friz can tell more than anyone when I am out of sorts.  I plopped down in the midst of the decaying leaves.  Friz crawled up into my lap and licked at the tip of my nose.  I looked directly in front of me and saw one of the larger trees.  I studied it.  There were gouges and dents in the bark, but there it stood.

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My thoughts followed the contours of that old tree.  It had been exposed to the elements.  Weather and animals and humans had added divots and grooves to the outside bark….but that tree continued to grow.  That tree had survived drought, Georgia summers and urbanization….but yet it continued to grow as if none of that existed around it.

As my eyes followed the gnarls and cracks in the bark, I had the realization that I am now almost a half century old.  I have my own cracks, divots and gnarls, but the inside is still growing and learning.  There are things and people that are going to move in and out of my life.  I have to realize that everything is for a season only…some lasts for multiple seasons, but everything has an energy all its own.  Sometimes that energy is no longer works alongside mine and I must release it and not let it fill me with doubt.

Today, my partner took me to “The Sound of Music” Sing-Along at the Fox Theater.  One of the lines used in the movie stood out to me.  I have watched this movie over and over through the years and never realized that these words were said.  Two of the sisters were discussing Maria’s future at the abbey with the Reverend Mother.  Sister Berthe suggested to the Reverend Mother that Maria’s antics should remove any doubt regarding Maria belonging at the abbey.  The Reverend Mother replies, “I always try to keep faith in my doubts, Sister Berthe.”

I guess I am learning to do the same.

Blessed Be!

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Getting Over Yourself and Coming Clean

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Tonight, I was making Shepherd’s Pie for my partner and roommate.  As I stood at the cutting board just chopping away at the onion, I felt the knife slice through the tip of my thumb.  I cringed…I don’t do well with human blood in general…or pain.  My first reaction was to run to the bathroom and grab the bottle of hydrogen peroxide (a leftover from my mother).  I stood over the sink and poured it over my thumb, screeching like a banshee from the burn.  I wasn’t thinking about the pain that would come….all I could think of was cleaning the wound.  I watched the peroxide bubble around the cut and after watching the bleeding stop, I brushed NuSkin over it.  Again, I screamed because of the burn.

I realized that lately life has been about cleaning out the grime of the past, and moving forward.  Has it been painful? Quite. I have made some decisions lately that haven’t been so popular with those around me, but they are things that I have had to do for myself.

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For the past few months, I have been a part of a lifestyle change.  I have detoxed, I have exercised, I have eaten more fruits and vegetables than I have ever eaten.  I have been working with our company’s nutritionist and her goals for me are to resolve the issues I have been dealing with for ages.  Through the work done, I am no longer snoring, my reflux is gone…many positive changes are happening.  The most significant is weight loss.  When I started the program, I was at my heaviest….343 pounds.  My doctor offered encouragement as we went through the physical for the program.  “You are the healthiest obese person I have ever seen.”  Yes….this offered so much hope.

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When we started the program, we took before pictures.  With this, you are forced to face yourself with a constant reminder of where you started.  I keep this picture of my gut on the fridge, on my computer at work, and on the bathroom mirror.  The program lasts a year and as we enter a new step, we dig into the reasons that we gained the weight to begin with.  I have shared many of the processes that I have gone through over the past months here in the blog.

I have cut out refined sugars, most of my caffeine (I have to have coffee every so often), and as of late, my nutritionist has asked me to stop eating meat products for a bit.  I am on a fruit and vegetable diet for almost two weeks now.

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Living on just fruits and vegetables and vegan protein has been a challenge to say the least, but I do have to say that my body does feel better.  I feel cleaner….but there are some days that I would cut a bitch just for a porkchop.  As a result of this program, I have lost 45 pounds to date.  I have been learning how to deal with the stresses of life by working out and pursuing new ventures.  I go tomorrow to start an archery class…I have also taken wood-carving classes.  If I keep it up, I may truly become a renaissance man.

I have also made more of an effort to spend more time outside.  Summertime in Georgia can tend to make this a bit challenging.  I have had to learn that when I want the solitude and calm and renewing, that I need to go out really early or really late.  I have been exploring parts of Atlanta that I never knew existed.  I have hiked Red Top Mountain.  I have found small wooded parks and small man-made lakes or creeks to enjoy.

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I have been trying lately to find local stables where I can go riding.  There is nothing more freeing than moving through life on the back of a horse.  When you are moving with that horse energy, it is the closest I can imagine to flying.

As the photo earlier stated, I have been on a complete detox…Spirit, mind and body.  I am realizing that there is so much garbage that I allow to become a part of my life.  I have set aside the drama of others.  This is a feat within itself….especially in this time of constant accessibility.  I have had to learn to put my phone down, to navigate Facebook gingerly, and to leave television almost completely out of the picture.  Isolation?  Hardly.  If I lived in the days of old, I would move into an old cottage in the woods…only me and the animals…that would be isolation.

Last night, I settled into one of the pieces of furniture in the courtyard.  Just me, the moon, the stars.  My mind felt awake…my body felt alive.  I stared into the darkness above me dotted with diamond-like bursts of pure energy.  I could hear the cicadas singing in my ears.  It was in that moment that it felt as if the earth and her sister elements were singing their own spells over me.  The air smelled of the lemon and eucalyptus oil that I use to repel bugs…citrus-y and bright.  My roommate knew I was out there and opened the door to let Friz out.  I lifted him into my lap and we lay curled up on that glider as the moon washed over us.

I have a blue and a green andara crystal that I carried outside with me.  The blue is said to bring powerful connection with the celestial realms.  The green is said to hold the energy of magick.  It brings forth vision and manifestation and holds ancient knowledge.  It awakens the wisdom of the grandmothers.  As I sat there holding them, I meditated on the energies they held.  I pulled that energy into myself and into my little blue chihuahua.  As I closed my eyes, I could hear my grandmother’s voice in my ear.  No words….just a soft humming.  It was the way it used to be when I would curl up in her lap as a child and she would sing as I drifted off to sleep.

I started to fade into a peaceful, wonderful, magickal sleep and could hear Friz softly snoring in my lap.  In my dreams, I traveled to beautiful places…places I had never been to…places that only exist in dreams.  I could feel the energy of each destination enveloping me…feeding my spirit, renewing my mind.  Each place was similar but different at the same time.  With each new dream, I became strongly aware of myself and my breath.  This was the first time in so long that I was able to escape the confines of my own mind, thoughts, and feelings.  It was a feeling of being aware that there was newness around and coming toward me…almost like learning to walk again.  I received a vision of Friz as a puppy…his eyes just opening…the brightness…learning to adjust to seeing things for the first time.

As hot as it was outside, I woke up to a wonderful cooling breeze.  Friz yawned as he looked up at me…aware that we had just shared something that only magick can give.  I am constantly amazed by those that think that magick can only take place in ritual or ceremony….I am learning that if you open yourself to the possibilities, that magick will show itself in every aspect of your life.

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Society as a whole has learned to exist….surviving from one crisis to the next.  I refuse to live my life like that.  Yes, there are requirements that life has demanded, but I will not squelch that which needs to be wild, alive, and moving.

Maybe what I am feeling comes with maturity, but I am unwilling to compromise all that has risen up in me.  I grow weary of battling the attitudes of others.  Some people just seem to live their lives to piss and moan…never able to find peace with themselves and constantly driven by the drama that others and circumstances seem to throw at them.  I am learning something powerful….Silence is a powerful thing.  Most people don’t take advantage of it enough.  Silence allows us to listen to spirit.

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If I told you that you had inside of you, all the magick you would ever receive, what would you say?  Most would argue with me.  Most would take it as a challenge to their potential.  I tell you though,  you do have all the magick you will ever need….right there within your reach.  We just tend to let everything else get in the way of accessing it.  It is all a matter of getting past ourselves….letting ourselves embrace that magick.  To be blunt for just a moment….too many of us are too busy bitching and whining to look for it…or to let it surface.  I can be the same way.  Sometimes it is far too easy to complain than just get off of our broadest part and do it.  Maybe some of us just need to get a little more gumption about us.

I refuse to live my life rolling over and playing dead.

Blessed Be!

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The Season of the Lion

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As we come into the season of Lughnasadh, we have moved into the astrological sign of Leo.  Since my birthday actually falls on Lughnasadh, I have always felt this time of year brought more strength and more power into my life and to my path in the Craft.  I have spent this past week journeying into the soul of the Lion and looking at his attributes.  One book that I have been reading is Steven D. Farmer’s “Animal Spirit Guides.”  Here is what he says about the mighty Lion:

If Lion shows up, it means:

Hold your head up high and keep your dignity, no matter what you’re faced with.

You’re much stronger than you think you are and need to use your emotional strength in this situation.

Call upon the well of courage that’s available to you to confront this uncomfortable situation.

Listen closely and discern carefully before acting, rather than moving ahead impulsively and recklessly.

When faced with a tough decision, follow your heart rather than what you think you should do.

Call on Lion when:

You feel particularly stressed or beaten down by any situation and want to boost your sense of power and self-confidence to deal with these circumstances.

Your dignity and integrity have been called into question and you want to recapture your self-respect.

You’ve been called upon to assume a position of authority and leadership.

You’ve taken on a project that at first seems overwhelming, even though you know you have the necessary skills and intelligence to complete it.

If Lion is your power animal: 

You have a strong presence and a dignified manner, such that people always notice when you walk into a room.

Although your anger can sometimes be triggered rather easily, you generally have a great deal of compassion for others.

You’re a natural leader and have great organization skills.

You’re at your best when you function as part of a group or community rather than being alone.

You like to stretch your capabilities and are always seeking to learn more.

As I read through this passage in the book, I realized that different energies encompass us at different times based on our need.  While the thoughts behind having Lion as your power animal definitely seems to ring true to those who are born under the sign of Leo, there are other animals that walk beside me on a more consistent basis…however, I do feel that lion power ever presently watching over my shoulder, always instilling in me my sense of self.

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As we walk through day to day life, we encounter those things that constantly tear at our spirits.  We are bombarded with words and images that tell us that we are less than we should be.  Those who we thought were friends or lovers rip our hearts out and stomp them, either unaware of what they are doing or vindictively trying to hurt us.  It is in these trying times that we should pull on the strength of Lion.  He stands dutifully guarding us, poised to attack anything that comes against us.  He stands in quiet strength until we decide to access that part of our spirit…and then he readies himself for the kill.

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This year has been a year that this Leo has had to learn to roar, and roar loudly.  Over the past two years there has been a series of new beginnings in my life.  Each time one of these new opportunities surfaced, there was a part of me that wanted to shrink back and settle into the background of life.  Each time, an advocate, human and spirit would intervene…pushing me to the forefront, encouraging me to fight, to meet each beginning head on with strength and courage.  Whenever I rose to the challenge, success became imminent and a new challenge would follow.

I watched over the past couple of years as my life started to build on itself like a magickal staircase….each opportunity building on the one before it.  The more I rose to the challenges, the more I felt something begin to build inside of me.  I found that the little annoyances of life seemed not to be such annoyances anymore and they started to work themselves out.  I found that the way I carried myself was evolving, and as a result, the way people responded to me changed.  I observed those who used to challenge me, no longer challenged me.  These people, figuratively speaking, started moving out of my way to let me pass.

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With each success, though, there were different challenges.  These challenges seemed to be more internal.  I have been a part of the business world for as long as I have been working.  I have come to realize that the success of the business is not necessarily  attributed to the customers.  It comes from those who work internally.  If they don’t work together and take care of that business, the customers just won’t come.  It was the same with me.  When stresses would appear in my life, my body would attempt to break down.  I would become sick or end up hurt in some way…or have some past emotional garbage try to surface.  It was in these times that I had to stop and realize (or have it pointed out to me) what was going on and to deal with the issue and press forward.  In my own weakness, I found more strength than I actually thought I possessed.

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As I said earlier, this has been my year to learn to roar.  In my study of the lion, I have realized that a roar is not a yell…it is not strained.  It is simply a different part of the lion’s voice…and is a part of who they are.  According to Nature Center Magazine, “A male lion may roar to let the other members of the pride know that all is well. The female lion’s roar is usually different than the male’s roar. They are much quieter than the large male lions. A female can call out for roaming or lost cubs, and she can give a roar to bring the other adult pride memebers back to help in case of danger.  So a lion’s roar can be explained rather simplistically. It is used to communicate with the rest of the pride. It’s like a quick status update or a call to come home.”   Solitary lions tend to stay quiet. Only those who belong to a pack tend to roar.

I had no idea until I began my studies that female lions roared.  We are always shown the male lion roaring on documentaries.  I found it fascinating that the male roar was more for status updates…the females roar, however, was to call for those roaming or lost or as an alert for danger.  Most see the female as the more docile in the pride, but it their responsibility to guard the pride and to teach the cubs to hunt.  The females of the pride do almost all of the hunting.

As I walked to the woods this morning with Friz in tow, I could feel the heat of the summer breeze hard on the back of my neck.  It is funny, my grandma used to refer to that type of breeze this time of year as the lion’s breath or the dragon’s breath.  My mind ran in circles as I got closer to the canape of trees.  As each month of this year has passed, I have become more aware of myself…not just who I am, but what lies deep within me.  I have been getting more and more acquainted with my authentic self.  I have to admit….I like this part of myself tremendously.  I have found that part of myself to be strong, compassionate and unfaltering.  I have found that part of myself to be more open to others, but uncompromising as far as who I am.  I love harder, deeper and with more abandon…but I am not willing to be bypassed or stomped on.

As I settled down into the bed of leaves beneath me, I could feel something welling up inside of me this morning.  I was feeling the rumblings of my own roar.  It wasn’t surging forward to threaten anyone.  It was leaping forth to say, “Here I am.  Like me or not, this is me and I am more than happy with where I am and what lies ahead.  My spirit is strong and my teeth are sharp.  I stand strong and will not let my heart falter.  I stand strong in my own freedom.”

Blessed Be!

roar

Aching Joints, Calloused Feet…But Hard-Headed As Hell

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I have heard it said more than once lately that most witchcraft has become nothing more than fluff.  I think this school of thought comes about because there are some out there who aren’t willing to see past their own noses.  The Craft comes in all shapes and sizes.  I have come to realize, through my journey, that there are as many types of witchcraft or paganism as there are dialects…nationalities.  Are any of them 100% right?  Completely and not at all.  What may be the right path for one person, may be completely wrong for someone else.  Out of all of my friends, none of us practice our Craft exactly the same.

Now I have friends who practice “Love and Light.”  I also have friends who practice shamanism…others who practice Voudou…others who practice chaos magick.  Do I understand all of these areas of the Craft?  No…I don’t even pretend to….but I don’t discount the power in any of the methods.  To me, magick is like a recipe.  Everyone and their brother is going to have a different way of making a recipe.  They are all going to taste different and look different…but you still call a cake, a cake.  As long as the work is put in, there will be results.

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As I have said before, I tend to be my own worst enemy.  My body or thoughts or something is going to try to get in my way.  I tend to be that person who will walk, but constantly look behind.  As I told someone today, constantly looking behind us only causes us to stumble over ourselves.  This week, I have been having a time with the things that tend to come with getting old.  Things like this always seem to happen when something new surfaces in my life.  I am in the midst of a new position at work and also in preparation for the possibility of moving to London in a couple of years to start a new office.  My knees have taken the wonderful opportunity in the past two weeks to feel as though they are crumbling.  I know that it is more than likely some arthritis kicking in, but they still hurt.

My first thought was to sit and complain and to focus on the pain, but the golden tongue of Maluna kept resonating in the back of my head.  I went out on Thursday night, bought a knee brace and some Aleve and have been plugging on.  I have found that plugging on keeps your brain from being pre-occupied with how it feels…and once I am engaged in other things, the pain isn’t as bad.  Am I hard-headed? Yes, but there is too much to accomplish.  I don’t have the time or the energy to sit and whine….and yes I know there are many witches out there that are the exact same way.  I have friends who deal with fibromyalgia, depression…etc.  Do you think any of that slows them down?  Not in the least.  Witches are a strong-willed bunch.

Last night, our air conditioning broke.  Now for late July in Georgia, that is not a good thing. As I lay in bed perspiring with the fan pointed toward the dogs and cats and my partner,  I wanted to whine.  Being a child of Lughnassadh (meaning I was born on August 1st), one would think that I would be a child of the sun….relishing the warmth that it brings through that harvest.  Not on your life.  I do not like to feel hot….can’t stand that nasty wet feeling of humidity.  That is why I retreat to the woods….so that I am covered by a canopy of leaves…can feel the coolness of the leaf strewn ground.  I happened to have only gotten an hours worth of sleep last night in that glorious sweat inducing room, so I lay there and tried to ponder magickal things.

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My mind went to different potions I could make….different spells to write and try…my mind even pondered shape shifting.  By 5am, I couldn’t stand it anymore.  I woke Friz up and we went for an early trek to the woods.  This morning, however, I had to grab my staff.  My knee was acting up like nobody’s business.  I had to laugh.  Now as we walked, Friz was the one walking normally and I was the one gimping along.  I told him that we were just like the old wizard and his wolf walking the path of the ancients.  I heard my grandma laugh in my ear, “Anybody else would have gone to the doctor.  You are one hard-headed something!”  I have lived most of my life with most of my family and those close to me thinking I was hard-headed.  Everyone around me knew better than to ever tell me that I couldn’t do something….I would die trying.  My granny told me that she knew when I was little and asked her about flying…the minute she told me I couldn’t that I would be right on top of that barn.  I think back now and it is an absolute miracle that I have made it to be as old as I am.

Once we made to the woods, I sat down and breathed in the smell of the air around me.  The woods never smell stale or stagnant to me….there is always movement and newness there.  I came needing communion this morning.  I needed nature more than I had ever needed it before.  Once you find yourself drowning in technology, sometimes you have to be submerged even deeper into those things natural to combat what residuals are left behind by the modern world.  I hate what so much technology has done to us.  We keep our noses buried so deeply in our phones now that we ignore the people around us.

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I always take my shoes off when we get into the woods and I noticed Friz was licking at one of the callouses on the ball of my foot.  My granny had those same type of callouses.  She always told me that it came from a love affair with the Earth.  She told me that only those who were intimately acquainted with her had those callouses.  “You can always tell a person who is intimate with the Earth Mother.  They are the ones with hands and feet made rough from contact.”  I rubbed the pads of Friz’s feet.  I noticed the same rough feel…and he always smells like the outdoors.  Even my little blue chihuahua has his own magickal path.

My roommate has been baking tonight.  The smell of cake is wafting through the house.  He made my partner a “Poke Cake” for his birthday. He didn’t use the recipe that I have used all these years, but once  you bite down into it, I am sure it is going to be just as moist and just as flavorful.  My partner likes strawberry…I prefer orange.  That doesn’t make it any less of a cake or any less delicious.

Blessed Be!

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