The Things We Search For Were Really Never Lost

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I have pushed myself so hard this week.  I have always been my harshest critic.  I can’t perform any less than 110% when it comes to anything.  Most would say that this comes from a childhood of always feeling as though I had to compete for approval. Not true.  My grandmothers made sure that I was made to feel important no matter what.  They were the foundation of my strength of heart…they always told me that there was something inside of me that no one else would ever be able to possess or take away from me.

Normally, when I would have a week like this one has been, I would be able to call either one or both of my grandmas and the sound of their voices would bring peace.  Their voices…I never thought I would have to learn to live without those voices.

It was in the midst of this week that I found my mind…my body….my very heart and spirit craving the elements around me.  There is a large maple tree just outside of our courtyard wall.  On Wednesday afternoon, I got home at the regular time….I could feel the weight of pushing myself exhausting me.  I stopped.  Only for a moment and leaned against that large old maple tree.  It was as if I could hear the voices of my grandmothers whispering in my ears again.

Once I had gotten inside and changed out of business casual into backyard grunge, I went back into the courtyard and started digging in the dirt….just to get that cool damp feeling on my hands…that connection to the Great Mother.2014-03-26 22.37.11

 

Friday I craved contact with water…..it was as if all day long I could not get enough water into my system.  I drank water non-stop.  It was rainy most of the day here….there was a part of me that did not want to come inside.  I hungered to be out among the rain drops…feeling the rhythm against me and around me.  Again, when I got home from work, I stood in the midst of a short rain shower….feeling it wash me from head to toe.  I could feel the rush and pressure from the week washing away as each drop caressed me.  I sat in the middle of the courtyard…smelling each plant as it soaked in the nourishment.

The rain continued into the morning today.  I took a clue from Friz and spent more time smelling the air and enjoying the clean feeling that only rain water can bring.  I wore a tshirt and shorts out and walked barefoot in the mud.  Sometimes, it is just being able to feel the wet earth under my feet that keep me grounded.

2014-03-26 22.37.04This afternoon, my time with wind came.  We had just gotten back from the grocery store (where a crow perched on the shopping cart beside the car….scared my partner to death).  As we were getting out of the car in front of the condo, a strong cool wind came up.  My partner mentioned that it got really cool quickly and the wind was so strong.  He ran inside with the groceries, but there I stood in the courtyard with my arms spread like I was ready to take flight.  I believe if I had concentrated hard enough, I may have gotten lift off….and damn! My besom was inside.  I could hear the throaty laugh of Mama Crow in the branches above me.  She sensed my joy in the breeze.  She sensed my hunger to be a part of air.

2014-03-26 22.37.01 I could not leave my old friend fire out of the circle.  Tonight, just before sunset, I went to the woods with my smaller cauldron.  I sat down in the cool leaves and put my altar in place.  I brought some dry leaves with me and set them to smolder in the cauldron along with some sticks and incense.  I watched as the fire danced in front of me.  Something about watching those red-orange flames burning away the deadness of the sticks and leaves leapt into my spirit.  I stood and danced with the flame.  Sometimes I have to abandon all feelings of ‘what if someone sees me’ and just do what my spirit is compelled to do…..it is the most freeing experience that I could ever describe.  Too often we become bound up in what is proper and what is ‘normal’ that we forget that freedom that magick brings…and the relationship to the masculine and feminine divine.

I had a wonderful dream last night.  I was trekking through the mountains.  The air was cool.  The sun was shining all around.  There were a few other people there that I knew.  I remember meeting my old friend wolf in a grassy field.  We wrestled and tumbled.  I laughed until my stomach hurt.  I went into the small log cabin with wolf at my side.  In the cabin was a dark haired, dark eyed woman….a witch of Nordic descent.  I knew this woman and I knew her well.  She was extremely gifted in psychic abilities and divination with candles.  I remember after laughing and talking to her, going to a cabinet to get the candles out.  As I looked at each candle, runes appeared on the bottoms of each.  I remember that I could read them very clearly.  One, in particular, carried the words, “There has been a path forged before you by the ancients.”  It essentially told me that the path I am on… I am not to venture off of.

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As I think back on it….a friend brought it up tonight, the woman in my dream was a part of me.  It is the part of me that I still search for…the part of me that I enjoy the company of, but haven’t entirely embraced.  Maybe now is the time.

Blessed Be!

Hellebore, Henbane, Aconite…

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I have always had an interest in unusual plants.  That is why early last year, I ordered a Mandragora Officianarum root, and have coddled it and nursed it.  It is coming back this year with the promise of blooms.  I am so excited, I can’t stand it.

I guess before we moved into the condo here, that the Horned One and the Lady made a witchy path for me before I had even settled in.  There were rows and rows of light and dark hellebore in front of our unit and yarrow grew in abundance by the bedroom window.  It made me wonder more and more about the history of the condos.  I know for a fact that it was housing for military personnel back in the forties and fifties…but between then and the early eighties there isn’t much information about the residents.  When Friz and I make our rounds, though, it is like a wonderland of witchy herbs and plants springing up in the hidden reaches of the complex.

I have found rosemary planted by almost all of the doors that stand in sunshine.  I have found sage planted in so many sunny spots that I can’t even begin to count.  Lavender grows in abundance by the playground…but the strangest, wildest flower I found today while walking.  I haven’t seen aconite in many, many years….as I was walking, though, I recognized a hooded purplish blue flower.  As I got closer to it, I picked Friz up because he is known to eat any plant within his reach and Wolfsbane is extremely poisonous.  Of all plants to see in Georgia, this was the last one I expected.  I always carry ziplocs with me nowadays….just in case I run across some plant or some animal that has died along the way and the bones might be used for magick.  I put Friz close to an old tree and told him to stay.  He listens well to that command.  I harvested the root, flowers and stalks of the plant using bags over my hands to handle everything and then putting everything inside of a bag.  I stuffed it all into my backpack and then Friz and I had our  time in the woods.

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My mind raced back and forth as to what I would use this magickal plant for. Protection is a major magickal property of Wolfsbane.  I also know that it can be used in magickal work with the goddess Hekate.  I would definitely want to use it to consecrate my athame when I get one ( that is the one magickal tool that has concealed itself from me until the right one comes….I want one with a handle made from bone).  In the meantime, I would use it as part of a banishing spell that I have been working on.

There is a neighbor here that gives me a ‘bad feeling’….the energy isn’t right there.  He is constantly learing at people and lurking outside.  I have scared him more than once when he tried sneaking into my courtyard as I was doing magick.  Imagine his surprise when he opens the gate and sees a six foot tall, large man standing there with a staff with a skull on it, a wand, a cauldron and certain animal skulls surrounding it…..all in the dark with a fire roaring inside the cauldron.  He ran off screaming that night.

 I do, however like to feel safe in my own home.  So I have done tiny protection bottles.  So you are going to get one of my protection spells as a side-note here:

With my mortar and pestle, I grind up a couple of tablespoons each of black salt (witches salt), High John the Conquerer root, any kind of snake bone you can find (rattlesnake is wonderful), stinging nettles, a small amount of snake shed, hellebore flowers, and wolfsbane flowers.  Grind it until it is very fine.  Then funnel it into tiny potion bottles.  When the bottles are full and corked, I dip the top of the bottle into red wax first and then black wax to seal the spell.  I bury the bottles at each corner of my condo and recite:

The evil that you bring is through,

Leave in haste, I’m done with you.

All around here now is safe.

You have no choice but leave this place.

These buried vials will make a fence,

Keep you at bay for our defense.

By wolf and crow I’m guarded here.

You won’t come close…you won’t come near.

By Cernunnos, Morrigan, and Hekate,

This spell is sealed, so stay away.

I am a fierce protector of those that I care deeply for.  That is why I invoke the spirit of wolf for Friz every morning before I leave.  Anyone with ill will toward my household and those in it, will see the wolf spirit when they look at Friz.  My dear Merlin holds the spirit of panther, and our little Bella gets to rest with the Crow through the day.snarl

I know that some folks might balk at my use of ‘baneful’ plants, but I have always been taught that when you use things correctly, that anything can be safe.  If you treat the sweetest dog in the world with enough cruelty and hate, it will eventually bite you.

The best advice I could leave you with this week is:

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Blessed Be!

Ostara: Rebirth and Renewal

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Let me start by saying that I love books.  Books of any kind….my favorites are books that stir the imagination or cause one to think or fantasize.  I love books that you can share with other adults…but more than that…with those witchlings that may be watching us as we practice the Craft.  I think that is why I love one book in particular, this time of year.  It is Edain McCoy’s Ostara: Customs, Spells & Rituals for the Rites of Spring.  In this book, I was re-introduced to Ostara  just as one might see an old friend through new eyes.  It always helps me to go back at this time of year and see again what symbols and rites and other magick comes with this season of greening.

When I was a child, this time of year brought a renewed excitement for me.  My family was never overly religious, so springtime always meant the arrival of the Easter Bunny and colored eggs was imminent.  This, in my opinion was even more exciting than Santa.  I was taught by my granny at an early age to smell the air and to feel the earth.  She told me over and over again that I would always be able to smell the seasons changing and that I would know by the feeling of the Earth Mother’s belly when the birthing was going to happen.

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I learned early on to recognize the signs that spring was around the corner.  I remember dragging granny out of the house by her skirt-tails to see the tiny green leaves on the hydrangea or the necks of  the daffodils bent reverently…holding the heavy bloom that couldn’t wait to show itself.  I remember the heady smell of hyacinth that hadn’t quite bloomed yet, but was so anxious to show itself that its scent preceded it out of the sheath.

I finally finished putting my Ostara altar together yesterday.  There were a few things I was waiting on.  A friend had promised delivery of some blown out quail eggs and an antler.  I was so excited to see the box sitting inside the courtyard Friday that I could hardly contain myself.  I arranged some of the eggs carefully into a wooden bowl onto some lime green reindeer moss that I had and put the antler behind it.  I pulled out two of my favorite lavender-colored candles that are scented with jasmine, put some of my favorite amethysts and other crystals around…as well as my ‘keys to success.’  I lit the candles and just sat in front of the altar absorbing the peace and power that flooded the room.

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Growing up, I remember the feelings that Easter stirred in me.  Many times, we would go as a family to a local sunrise service given by one of the many churches in the area.  One service that remains vivid in my brain was one called the ‘God/ Goddess of Creation.’  The service was done in the midst of a field and during the prayer we were all encouraged to close our eyes and take in the sounds and smells of creation around us.  The service was presented by a female pastor who included the Goddess in all of her sermons….thinking back, I am quite amazed that my parents allowed us to stay and be a part of it…..and I also know that this was my first exposure to the thought that if, indeed, there is a God, that there must also be a Goddess.  Needless to say, I took that and ran with it.

I haven’t been feeling well this weekend.  It is just a cold brought on by the change in seasons.  I have lived the past few days hopped up on Alka Seltzer Plus Cold and Elderberry Tea.  More than anything, it is just an inconvenience….but I have been sleeping in in the mornings.  Last night around midnight, I felt the need to go to the woods.  I have found that when the woods call, I have to listen.  I sneaked out while everyone was just starting to doze off.  I carried my flashlight and necessities.  I could feel dampness moving in and knew that today would bring rainshowers.  As I walked, I listened.  I could hear a familiar crow caw.  I think that city living has left Mama Crow’s inner clock a little tightly wound.  Then again, one of the names of this full moon is the Full Crow Moon.  I love the different names that Mama Moon lives with.  Humans will fight all day long over those names….I guess she really doesn’t care as long as we do call on her.

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I got my altar ready….everything in its place.  I lay down with my cloak wrapped around me, shielding me from that heavy feeling of dampness.  I placed my hand tenderly against the earth.  I touched…I listened.  Oh yes….the Earth Mother’s belly is full to the point of bursting. The Lord of the Hunt started the preparation weeks ago.  I lift my head and sniff like a scent hound on the trail of a rabbit.  I can smell the earth ready to be reborn.  I can smell the seeds ready to show themselves.   The plants are excited about showing off their new spring collections.  My preparations seem small when I think about the grand party that the Earth Mother will give to usher in another season of renewal.

I close my eyes and listen.  I inhale.  It is as if I take in the breath of the Earth herself.  I have been stressed in the past week.  I have held onto things that need releasing.  As I listen and breathe, I realize that I am holding onto things that need to be released.  As  I breathe out, I can hear Mama Crow in the background…laughing.  She’s not laughing at me.  She is laughing with me…she wants to share the joy that comes with release and rebirth and renewal.

We, as humans, have become adept at hiding the things that make us vulnerable.  We can’t let anyone see us in our weakness.  The earth is so much more transparent.  You can’t hide when a tree has been uprooted or cut down.  That sparrow that died from falling during its fledging doesn’t just disappear.

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One thing that I have come to realize over the years is that when the root of the problem is hidden, so are the blooms from the solution….and yes there are definitely going to be thorns in between.  There is so much inside of each one of us…potential waiting to bloom forth, but we have forgotten to listen for the signs of the birthing.   We have stopped closing our eyes and just listening to what is moving around us.

In my own life, I have found that it is now time to stop pretending and time to bloom.  For me, that means no more letting myself get in the way of the power that is trying to show itself.  It is time to stop making excuses and just move forward.  It is time to let that which has been sleeping the winter away, wake up and lead me into darkness, light, dusk or dawn….wherever I will find the most wonderful, undefinable magick and utilize it.

I have finally realized…Life is not about the “Once Upon A Time’s” and the “Happy Endings.”  It is about the adventure in between.  The alarm has gone off….it is time to wake up and be about the business of magick.  I am not hitting ‘Snooze’ anymore.

Blessed Be!

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Making Friends With the Things That Haunt You

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I had the strangest dream last night.  I dreamed that me, my partner and my roommate all went in together and bought an old dilapidated victorian house.  It had previously been divided into levels for apartments, but our intent was to take it back to its original state.  We found out after we bought the house that it was haunted by a dastardly man who made it difficult for anyone to stay in the house for very long.  victorian

I remember, in the dream, moving from room to room with the fear of this horrible spirit in the back of my mind.  The last place I went was the very top floor.  The fireplace was going and this was where the spirit supposedly spent most of his time.  I walked into the room and he did everything he could to make me know that I wasn’t welcome.  I continued to talk as he continued to try to scare me. The flames of the fire would rage higher as he grew angrier.   He moved swiftly in front of my face and screeched.

By this time, I had grown tired of the game.  I calmly told him that I wasn’t afraid of him and that we were going to bring the old place back to its former glory.  I quietly talked through all of plans…even our intent to leave the top floor to him alone, with an occasional visit if he wanted.  I could see that he was calming down by the flames in the fireplace.  They were now down to a soft comfortable glow.

We finished the remodel and all lived a peaceful coexistence with the spirit in the house.  He grew to be a friend as the years moved forward.  He was a source of protection for us as well as source for much historical knowledge.

I am often offered solutions to issues in life through my dreams.  It is often where I deal with and face my darkest fears.  I realized that the man in this dream was representative of where I am heading in my own life right now.  I am slowly moving through levels of a new job.  With each level there comes a new fear…I am having to refurbish old ideas and rethink old thought processes.  I see, now, that the biggest hurdle is that within me that wants everything to stay comfortable…unchanging.  I must embrace that that is a part of me and that it may never leave, but I also have to be willing to move forward with plans and hopes and dreams.

When I woke up this morning with my head crowded by the visions of last night’s dream, I remembered when I was a little boy living with my parents on Walkup Avenue in our old hometown.  The house had belonged to my great grandparents (both of whom had died there) and it was located by a section of woods that didn’t quite have the right kind of energy for a five year old.  We had also been robbed in that house.

In that house, I lived in fear….of everything.  I was scared of the house, of the woods, of the ‘people’ that I could feel there…and the dark.  My mom and dad tried everything they could to alleviate all of those fears, but unfortunately, in those days it meant letting me sleep alone in a pitch black room….no nightlights for me.  It also meant that my bedroom was the furthest away from it if I had to go to the bathroom.  It also meant that if I wandered too far in the wrong direction, our German Shepherd Rascal would hear me and begin to growl and all I could see of him were large yellow eyes.  I lived my life petrified of anything that happened when the sun went down.  There were many nights that I would lie in my bed with the covers to my neck horrified to move.

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Once again, it was one of my grannies to the rescue.  This time it was my very Scotch-Irish granny.  Her face seemed to always be engraved with smiles and her hands were charged with soothing energy.  I remember that she had come to stay with us one weekend and I guess it got the best of her to see this child cowered in fear and shaking the moment the sun went down.  She came into my bedroom after I had been tucked in and she asked me what was wrong.  I shook uncontrollably as she pulled me into her lap.  I spewed out every one of the things that I was scared of the most.  It was like my body was vomiting the fear on the floor in front of me…..the dark, the woods, the dog, the house…I put all of it right there in front of her.

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I can still hear her soft laughter as she quietly told me that the secret to not being afraid anymore was to make friends with the things I was afraid of.  I remembered thinking, “Why in the world would I want to make friends with them?!  I am scared of them!!”  She picked me up and carried me in her arms toward the front door.  She opened the door and the screen and walked with me clinging to her in horror out toward the back steps.  I remember that the moon was shining brightly that night.  Quietly she made the introductions.  “Miss Moon, this is my grandson, David.  David, this is Miss Moon.  Stars, this is my grandson….Woods, this is my grandson….Old Man of the Dark, this is my grandson.”  She went on and on, telling me how she had made friends with each of these things over her life.  Finally, she called Rascal over…the German Shepherd that I was so determined was horribly mean.  He softly licked my cheek and I started laughing.  She explained that the reason he jumped up on me sometimes was because he wanted to play and that the reason he growled at night was because he heard noises and wanted to keep everybody safe.

So now, all of those things I was scared most of didn’t seem so scary.  I made it a point to venture out in the woods more during the day to see more of what was out there.  I talked to Miss Moon every time I was outside.  It made it seem as though there was a family member watching over me.  The stars became my watchmen….and Rascal and I were often found lying on top of each other at the edge of the woods sharing secrets.  I look back on all of that now and I laugh out loud….most of the things that I was most afraid of have, indeed, become my dearest friends.  Mama Moon and the stars, dogs in general, the darkness…even spirits.  German Shepherd laying on the green grass

I got up really early this morning (the first time) and  the little blue chihuahua and I made our way to the woods around the four a.m. mark. Hopefully we didn’t scare anyone on the way.  I had my cloak over me and my backpack under it so I looked a bit like Quasimodo.  When we got into the belly of the woods, I settled into the dirt.  Stones were placed in strategic spots all around us in a circle formation, the candles were placed and lit and the skulls were given their positions of honor.  In remembrance of my old friend Rascal, I sprinkled dried wild flowers over the skulls and burned sage.  I also burned an incense mixture that a friend gave me that has done wonders in gearing my mind toward success and strength.

I sat there in the midst of so many of the things that made my heart pound in fear.  I thanked them all for their friendships over the years and at this point Friz leaned in to give me a lick on my nose….I thanked him for his friendship, his loyalty, his protection, and magick.  As I felt the heartbeat of the Earth Mother beneath me, I was reminded of how much fear we, as humans live in.  We fear what others think of us.  We fear change.  We fear the world around us.  It is time to look those things that we fear the most in the eye and introduce ourselves.  It may become your biggest ally.

Blessed Be!how_to_train_your_dragon_12

The Heart Beats Stronger in Springtime…

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I am sitting in the courtyard this afternoon with a glass of Chardonnay in my hand.  I have soft jazz music playing in the background as the soft cool breeze caresses the prickles of hair on my head.  It is afternoons like this one that make me miss my family most.

I remember many an afternoon like this one…seventy degrees, breezy, the smell of flowers attempting to bloom for the first time.  My whole family would gather in the backyard by the pasture and mama would make sweet tea.  We must have emptied gallons of that syrupy strong brew as we rocked back and forth on the porch swing solving all of life’s problems.  In many ways, life in that small town in North Carolina was very much like the Mayberry  that Andy Griffith made famous.  singalongs-porch-andygriffithshow-secretsofabelle

We would sit there, guitar in hand…each member of the family adding their own harmony to one of the old songs as the bass-string strum provided the background music.  The dogs would run through the pasture playing chase with the younger ones or with each other.  It was in that place that the world couldn’t touch us.  It was there that we didn’t care how much money we didn’t have or what we couldn’t afford.  It was in that place that my granny used to say that she could hear the grass, trees and sky singing at the top of their lungs.  Most of the ones who shared those front porch moments with me are gone now, but I can’t help but think that they are a part of the symphony I hear as I am captivated by the concert that only nature can give.

I have spent much of today out cleaning the winter debris from the courtyard…uncapping the pots from their toppings of leaves and old mulch.  It is much like unwrapping a present.  I get so excited to see the small shoots coming from my hostas, and the spindly little purple leaves from the spiderwort are already showing themselves.  Even as near that half a century mark, I am still amazed at all the work that the Earth Mother still does in her sleep state.

This morning as Friz and I ventured toward the woods, the sun was already wide awake to greet us.  I love watching that little blue chihuahua as the sun rays bathe his back.  He stretches into it….just like he would if he were being rubbed from head to toe.  This morning, he stretched his little face to the sun with his eyes closed and his teeth showing, almost like he was smiling.  You could almost hear him telling the sun that he missed him and was glad to see him back.  He walked over to one of the bunches of daffodils blooming by our neighbors door….just as I thought he was leaning in for a sniff, he raised his little leg and peed in them.2014-03-02 14.48.08

We took our time getting to the woods this morning.  We spent the extra moments admiring the blooming tulip trees and weeping cherry trees.  It has always been mesmerizing to me that, in Georgia, spring seems to come overnight.  One week it is brutally cold, then the next week we are in the seventies with flowers and trees blooming all around.

Last night was spent with the New Moon.  Even though much has happened over the past month, there are even more new beginnings looming in the horizon.  For the first time in a long long time, I feel as if things are coming together for me.  I am seeing more than the light at the end of the tunnel….I am seeing the smoke clear and the magick is now more vivid.  Not only am I seeing spells taking shape quicker…I am also seeing prayers and whispers that I have only shared with the wind coming to fruition.

This mornings workings were orchestrated with the sun as an ally.  The newness of the morning, the evidence of life abounding around me….we have now come out of the darkness and are given the promise that the sun and spring have spoken of all winter long.  I started this mornings magick with a brightly colored thin blanket underneath me and Friz.  I brought gifts of bread and cheese and fruit for the fae and the woodland elementals (Friz didn’t seem to mind a nibble here and there either).  We could hear the birds singing all around us, the leaves rustling in the breeze…but there was one voice singing loudly that will never be ignored–Mama Crow.  It seemed as if she was playing in the tops of the trees, dancing in the sunshine.The_sun1

As I lay there sprawled out under the canopy of trees with the sunlight dappled all over me, Friz found that one spot that the sunlight never seemed to leave and settled into it.  As he lay there warming himself, I could hear soft snores coming from that little blue heap.  Underneath me, I could feel the vibration of the earth.  Even with the chill left  from the night-time air, I could feel the stirrings underneath me.  It was almost like sitting through the warm up of the instruments from an orchestra…first, the strings, then the woodwinds, then the brass was added and finally percussion.  With the percussion came the feeling of a heart being jump started once again.  il_340x270.431970633_cz5w

I have found over the years that I never have to beg the Earth Mother for the ability to hear her heartbeat.  I do, however, have to be willing to be still and quiet enough to listen.  In the world outside our doors, we are expected to be businessmen and business women.  We are expected to be husbands, wives, mothers and fathers.  We listen to the world tell us over and over again that we don’t and never will measure up.  It is in those moments that I make myself stop and listen to the heartbeat of the Earth Mother.  I am not what the world thinks of as glamorous, fascinating or even beautiful….but when I am alone with the heartbeat of the Earth Mother in my ear, none of that really seems to be important at all.

As I finish writing this, I have turned off the music and am just sitting here snuggled into the cushions of the outdoor sofa listening to the sounds of the Earth Mother.  I finished that glass of wine ages ago and decided to go for a nice cold glass of sweet tea.  It’s funny, as I sit here humming along with nature, I can hear my granny and my two aunts harmonizing softly in the background.  Funny, nothing ever truly leaves you…those things that mean the most to us come back to visit just at the right times.  Come and sit down and pull up a cushion…here’s a glass of nice, cold sweet tea.  Harmonize with me a bit as we listen to the sounds of the world stopping for a moment…if only to allow us a second or two to just breathe.

Blessed Be!