Talking To The Animals

I looked into the corner of the bedroom this morning and saw Merlin sound asleep on top of my Book of Shadows.  He loves that book. He sits on top of it to look out of the window.  He sleeps on it during the day.  You would think it as much his book as it is mine.

Out of all of the animals in the house, Merlin is the most curious about the Old Ways.  If I am casting in the house, he is right there in the middle of it…..he loves the candlelight and never gets too close.  You can see him with his head lifted and sniffing when incense is lit.  If I am in the middle of circle in the living room, Merlin is in there with me.  He is very well mannered and never breaks circle. 

Animals are more sensitive to the things of Magick than we can ever be.  While Merlin is in the midst of everything, Frisbee is my quiet magick muse.  Frisbee is the one who walks with me to the pond on Sunday mornings.  Frisbee is the one who hears all the secrets I hold.  Frisbee is the one who licks away the tears that I can’t share with anyone else.

A few years ago I was certified as a Reiki Master.  Reiki is a type of energy manipulation to bring about healing in the mind and body.  My study was directed toward humans, but that is not where my heart is.  Don’t get me wrong…..I love people, but my heart is with the animals.  I took workshops to learn how to do Reiki for animals.  I hate to see an animal in pain….it hurts my heart way too deeply. Dogs recieve Reiki energy wonderfully.  They bask in it. They absorb and roll in it.  Cats will sometimes accept it……I have been told that cats do it on themselves better than anyone could do it for them.  Every so often, though, you find a cat that loves pulling in that Reiki energy but they will let you know when they have had enough.

As I have said in earlier posts, I was raised on farmland in rural North Carolina and my childhood was spent talking to the goats and rabbits and ducks and chickens.  Sometimes I thought I was more animal than human.  I was looked at as a strange child because I really only had one human friend and we both would rather spend our time with the animals.

When we are able to make ourselves still and observe, these wonderful creatures can teach us the most fantastic things.  Have you ever watched a cat sitting in front of a window with a bird just outside?  Ever seen the excitement as the cat chirps and clicks at the flight of that bird?  We have forgotten how to feel the most basic emotions.  Animals don’t have the hangups we do.  Watch how your dog reacts to you the next time you come home.  When was the last time you greeted a loved one with that much excitement? 

I love to use the energy of certain animals when I work Magick!  Of course, I never do so without asking permission first.  Almost always, that particular animal is more than welcome to oblige and I always leave a gift outside for that animal or I give my own a special treat.

I love the use of music along with Magick and often times as I do a simple spell, you will find me stroking Merlin or Frisbee and singing or humming as I do so…much like was done in “Bell, Book and Candle.”  I find that it not only soothes the creature, but the music combined with purring or contented dog grunts carries the magick further for me.  Frisbee has been a part of many healing rituals.  He sits quietly across my lap as we sit in front of the pond here at the complex.  I visualize the water washing away pain and sickness….Frisbee’s breathing becomes rhythmic.  He is not asleep, but in what I call his “Magick Place.”  I begin to sing and stroke down his back….his breathing is even more relaxed…he looks up at me in a knowing way.  He knows what we are here to accomplish.  At the end of the ritual he leans up and gives me a tender lick against my ear….that’s his version of “So mote it be.”

Over the years, I have learned to fine tune the way I listen to animals.  With my own, I have learned to discern every whimper, whine, misplaced breath or sneeze.  I know the feel of their backbone down to their toes and everything in between.  I have learned to recognize their whispers.  Sometimes they are the ones who beckon for me to work Magick…..especially if I don’t particularly feel like it.

I have always felt a deep connection to the feathered beings.  It seems that I can be anywhere and one of them will find me, come to me, or converse with me.   One afternoon, I was on my way back to work from lunch and I stopped at Walgreens.  When I came out of the store into the parking lot, a huge hawk was standing in the middle of the hood of my car watching me.  I walked toward the car and the hawk stayed put….staring at me.  I got four feet from him and stopped.  I told him that I knew he had something for me to hear and I was ready for it.  He looked me dead in the eyes and I pulled in all the information he could give me.  I thanked him and watched as he flew off. 

I have also had many of these same kinds of encounters with crows.  I have friends who find it hilarious that a crow will follow me through a parking lot or will fly toward me—almost dive-bombing me or sit on a telephone wire and answer back as I talk to it.  I have always had this “gift.”  Even in the clinic I work in, so many are afraid of birds (mostly owls) and I will sit and handfeed them raw hamburger. They tend to be amazed that I talk to them as I work with them.  There has to be a mutual respect, and  I am most certainly never careless.

One of the things I have had the honor of doing while working at different clinics over the years, is to help usher pets into the summerlands or over the rainbow bridge.  I have been there as a beloved pet whose body is riddled with cancer takes his last breath.  I calmly tell him that his charge will be ok and it is time for the body to rest.  I lovingly stroke his fur as he walks into the summmerlands……I stand guard over the shell as the spirit takes off in a run.  You can feel the freedom that he feels as that transition happens.  The human will have to grieve….but if they only knew that that pet will be responsible for sending the next guardian into their life.

My spirit animal is the gryphon. He is part mammal, part bird.  That is very appropriate for me.  Sometimes I think that my heart was created with an outer covering of fur and feathers.  The gryphon encompasses everything that I am.  I am fierce, loyal, and unbending…..but I am also comfortably warm with a freedom that cannot be surpassed.  I fly above my trials and I call for those whose wings have been clipped to ride on my back so that we can go higher and higher.

Do you have animals in your life?  Take time to talk to them.  They have so much wisdom to share with you.  If you take the time, you may learn something that you never dared even think of.  When you see a creature outside…..listen to it.

I met a salamander today.  I watched him on the leaf of my hosta.  I got to actually watch him change colors from brown to green.  What did he teach me?  “Sometimes all you need to do is bask in the elements and watch what can happen.  You may change and it won’t be evident to you, but everyone else will see it.”

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They Shoot Fat Men…Don’t They?

This past weekend was a fun one for me. I have never really had much of a problem with my self esteem or my self image until, on Sunday afternoon, my closest friend called me the “F” word. Yes, you guessed correctly. FAT. Believe it or not, I had never been called that before. Sure, I am a very large fellow, and I am sure there have been snickers behind my back and children running and screaming as if Godzilla had landed—-but noone that I have ever been close to has used that word to describe me.

I was hurt. I was thrown for a loop. To be honest, if I were not as strong a person as I am, it would have destroyed me. I have never felt a pain wrench through my heart like that. I mean, I have experienced death, grieving, breakups….but this was a new feeling.

I dealt with the pain the only way I knew how for a while…..I pushed it deep down inside of me. I went through the evening acting normally toward him. We had a cookout to attend and noone would be the wiser. They would never know, nor would he,that my armor had been penetrated. I laughed, and talked and made my way jovially through the night. After all, isn’t that what fat people do?

As I entered the door to the apartment after the cookout, what happened really hit me…..and I started to get angry. I was angry that I had allowed someone elses opinion get to me so deeply. After all, I have never much given a flying vat of sh** what anyone’s opinion of me was. I have also never much kept my words and feelings bottled up and unexpressed.

I decided to sit my friend down and talk to him about my feelings. I explained how hurt I felt and what those sharp, dagger-like words did to my very soul. He looked at me and said that he said that to me hoping that it would motivate me. I told him that if that was motivation for him to never motivate me again. I also said that I was a good mind to turn him into a toad. He said, “Go ahead and do whatever magic you want. I am not afraid of what you can dish out.” Wrong thing to say.

I did a very mild spell. It is one that I use alot in stopping gossip. It is called, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” I use alum, ash, and sulfur as incense. I always work spells for the well-being of the other person. It is worded as such that the person realizes that they are causing harm with their words and and those words should disappear. My friend had gone to lie down for a nap and a few hours later awoke……with laryngitis. Now to be honest, this was not my intent, but it was certainly entertaining. His voice is coming back stronger every day and he knew exactly what spell I was using….so lets just say, he won’t argue my “hocus pocus” anymore.

He has since apologized for being so insensitive and I have begun a healthier eating and exercise program that I am comfortable with. Skinny people do not understand that it isn’t as simple as just deciding not to eat as much. For whatever reason, food had become something else for me…..it had become a comforter, a confidant, a stress reliever. I have to learn to let other things and people take its place.

I had never really done glamour magick before last week. I don’t know what propelled me to do it. It wasn’t magick with the intention of making myself irrisistible to others, but instead it was to make me see myself through the eyes of the goddess. I started the spell with a morning of pampering. I took a long, slow bath and used the soap that a dear friend of mine makes. It has a wonderful earthy smell and made me feel connected to the mother aspect of the goddess. I soaked and washed and sang and chanted until I felt as though I was positively glowing. Unbeknownst to me, others feel the effects of glamour magick whether you want them to or not. All day long I was complimented, followed around by hot construction workers asking questions, and my boss kept telling me how wonderful I was. Yes, it is tempting to do this every day, but being fawned over can be thoroughly exhausting too.

Through all of the things that have transpired around me over the week or so, the goddess has taught me so much. Though it is nice to hear good things that others may say about me and it is horrible to hear the negative, in the end, it does not matter what the opinions of others are. The only thing that matters is that which the goddess springs up within me. I will use some wisdom that I did learn in the christian church. I am wonderfully made. I am beloved of god and goddess. I was made in their images.

I also learned a valuable lesson in forgiveness. Sometimes people say hurtful things. The ones that care most for us seem to have the worst filter. Closeness makes people think they can say whatever they please in the name of caring. Forgiveness is looking past certain things and into the heart of the person and trying to see the true motivation and heart of a person. Goddess has given me wonderful discernment and I know when I am looking into a good heart versus a black and angry heart. His words truly came from a place of wanting to see me healthier…..his words were very poorly chosen. I took a bath Monday evening in another of my friend’s soaps…..Lemongrass and Sage. It was wonderful and cleansing and as I stood there washing in that wonderful fragrance, I could feel the goddess cleansing and motivating my heart.^

Yes, I am fat. There, I said it. I am, however, a wonderful, beautiful, loving man encased in that body. Whether or not I become thin is beside the point, but I will strive to be healthier.

More than anything, I know who I am…..I am comfortable in my skin, however much of it there may be. I adore Endora from Bewitched. I love her description of a witch, and I can promise you that I am all that she describes:

“We are quicksilver, a fleeting shadow, a distant sound… our home has no boundaries beyond which we cannot pass. We live in music, in a flash of color… we live on the wind and in the sparkle of a star!”

There is nothing that I am not capable of.

Defying Gravity

Most little boys spend their playtime with a towel tied around their neck, jumping off of beds, pretending to be Superman.  Not me.  I was jumping off of the bed alright, but instead a towel to power my flight….it was Mama’s favorite kitchen broom wedged between my thighs and me pretending to be Samantha from Bewitched.

I believe that we are all born with a desire to fly.  We hunger for that one on one encounter with breezes and clouds.  We hunger for fellowship with bluebirds and falcons and even crows. We lust for the feeling of wind underneath us, guiding us higher and higher into the unending sky.

I love to dance with the wind.  I love to feel the breeze against my face as I jump and twirl into the midst of a breath of a cyclone.  I chase after anything that will make my desire to fly a reality. I have to admit….when I am home alone, I still love to break out my besom, straddle it, and leap off the sofa while playing, “Defying Gravity” from Wicked

Air Magick to me is about freedom.  I love to wear light, loose-fitting clothes and move effortlessly amongst the breeze.  I feel the power of the air when I watch birds in flight.  I love to stand out by the pond here at the condo and watch as cranes gracefully launch themselves into the air and then settle back down with the delicacy of a ballerina. 

Because of Air Magick, I have often felt an affinity with birds.  I love the owl.  We have had many baby owls come to the clinic I work in.  It takes so much discipline for me to deposit them into the hands of those better equipped to nurse them back to health.  I also have a love of crows.  I know, most look at these creatures as scavengers, the rogue of bird-dom.  I see a very dapper animal.  I see an animal who for all purposes must be creative and sly while cavorting about.  I see alot of myself in this bird. 

People would call someone like myself a “Jack of All Trades and Master of None.”  I have walked through many lives encased in this life alone.  I have been a singer, a dancer, an actor, a model, a rodeo clown, a minister, a florist, a grocer, and an accountant.  My life has run the gamut.  It is not that I am not able to settle down, but the fact that I do not ever want to be an 80 year old man sitting in a rocking chair saying, “Oh, I wish I had.” I want to be that same old man sitting there cackling at the top of my lungs screeching, “Oh what a time I had!”

I went bungee jumping a few years ago.  Crazy?  Maybe.  It was so much fun!  I screamed the whole way down, but I have never felt so alive!  I fully intend to go skydiving before too long.  I will be scared to death, but I can’t wait to feel that exhilaration! 

The other day, I was on my way back to work after lunch.  I was feeling a bit down that day….not at all like myself.  I whispered to the breeze—“Lonely and sad is how I feel.  I hunger now to desparately feel, the freedom that flows with so much ease.  I long to dance with the whimsical breeze.”  At that moment, I saw it start over at the edge of the gate to the parking lot.  I saw a baby cyclone pick up a handful of leaves and dance toward me.  The next thing I know, I am swept up in the middle of it, laughing and dancing in the middle of a parking lot.  I felt like a child again.  I felt the freedom of whimsy envelope me. I envisioned myself as the witch from Oz caught in the middle of the cyclone and got even more tickled.  I imagined those ruby slippers being kicked off and me zooming through the wind.

Yes.  I defy gravity on a daily basis. I just close my eyes and leap.  I fly on a breeze of hope, joy, and pure unadulterated bliss.

To Thine Own Self Be True

When I was growing up, my ma stressed one thing above all others…..”Be Yourself!”  It was ingrained in my way of thinking from a very early age that you should always be yourself and always be yourself wholeheartedly.  I am reminded of a line in “Steel Magnolias” that made my ma cackle out loud.  “An ounce of pretention is worth a pound of manure.”  I was shown that you should always be proud of who you are and not pretend to be something you aren’t.  I have lived by that philosophy since she first whispered it in my ear. 

Being myself is probably what got me in so much trouble in the Christian church.  I didn’t like being somber.  I liked to laugh long, hard, and loud!  I loved singing at the top of my lungs.  I enjoyed playing.  I got reprimanded more than once for being outside playing with the kids when I should have been preparing a sermon.  I didn’t care.   I was a bit like a male version of Maria Von Trapp in “The Sound of Music.”  Everyone was always singing, “How do you solve a problem like Dave?” 

I still get in trouble for being myself.  I say what I think, when I think it and I act upon it.  If I don’t like you, you know it.  I don’t expend energy on you.  If I adore you, you know it.  I tell you in many ways alot. LOL!  Now, trust me, I have become tempered….mellowed, if you will, with age.  I am still, however, that same stubborn mule of a boy that helped his best friend bring the goats in the house because they might get cold.

I tend to observe alot nowadays.  I will tell you though, that if you ask my opinion of something, I will unabashedly give it to you with both barrels.  I have been told that I am honest to a fault.

I have, over the years, been asked to compromise myself many times.  There were many times I was tempted.  The one time I did compromise myself, I regretted it many times over and I vowed never to do it again.  I was going to a local church and was a young adult.  I had gone to the pastor to come out as a homosexual.  When I walked into the office, I sat down and told him that I needed to tell him something about myself.  He looked me square in the face and yelled out, “I KNOW!! YOU ARE CALLED TO THE MINISTRY!!”  I said, “Uh yeah, sure.”  It was a hell of a lot easier than coming out. 

I worked in the church for many years.  I pretended to be happy and straight and godly.  I was none of those.  It was like watching a wild animal being tamed as a pet.  My spirit was breaking.  My heart was breaking.  I was losing the person that I worked so hard to become.  I didn’t feel the connection that most did to a Father God.  But I did understand the triple nature of the Mother Goddess.  It was easier for me to identify the Maiden, Mother, and Crone associated with earth and life cycles. 

I longed for a connection to the energy that leapt all around me.  I yearned for the energy and power the lurched at me from every tree, plant, planet and especially the moon.  When I was outside, the moon called to me…..beckoned me.  “Spend time with me…..bask in my light…..absorb my power.” My resolve was weakening.

I was living with my partner at the time and pretending to be straight the rest of the time.  I had never felt more compromised.  I decided that it was time for the true me to begin emerging.  Instead of fear and dread, I felt like a butterfly coming forth from the safety of the cocoon.  My wings were delicate at first, but then strong and beautiful.  I came out to my friends in the church and in the pastorate.  I was met with open and loving arms.  I came out to my lead pastor.  The response I received was, “Ok, so you didn’t grow an extra head.  Get back to work.”  I was gay.  I could say it now and breathe as I said it.  I was now, seriously, out and proud.

That was the first step to getting aquainted with myself.  The second came with a magickal encounter with Maiden, Mother, and Crone.  I had always been able to manipulate energies….I learned that in the church.  Raising energy….moving energy….all essential for a “move of the spirit.”   I decided to use the connection I was given with animals.  I decided it was time to start talking to the animals who had become trusted friends in my childhood. 

This major move of the goddess happened during a birthing.  I was helping a mother goat deliver a kid that was breech.  I was arm deep in the birth canal of the goat and could feel that the kid was going to be stillborn.  I got the kid out and the mother moved on to another corner of the pasture.  I held that baby goat in my arms, positioned it head down, and began to swing it to force it to breathe.  Nothing.  Then I started massaging the chest cavity.  At that moment, I felt all the power that the triple goddess could give me surging through my arms and hands.  I moved them over the baby.  I knew something supernatural was happening.  I heard a weak throaty sound come from the animal under me.  The mother goat came over and started nuzzling the kid.  I had witnessed something that few get the opportunity to see (or it is dismissed as something that would have happened anyway).  I saw the energy of the lady move into the body of that little goat.  I watched it slowly gain strength and become what it was supposed to be.  A goat. 

Magick is a powerful force and those called to it are given a very very special obligation.  Wisdom.  All things magickal must be tempered with wisdom.

Nowadays I am a contrary, opinionated old goat (pardon the pun), but I know who I am, what I believe, and what I stand for.  Each day is a new adventure and I never know which direction my path may take, but through it all, I am ME. I am thrilled with me, though others may not be.  A line from “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar” will suffice.

 Vida Boheme: Your approval is not needed.
Noxeema Jackson: Approval neither desired nor required