Little Narrow Gate

sheep gateThere’s a little narrow gate
At the top of a hill
And it beckons my heart to enter in
And follow where it will
Oh, where it will
And the path that leads through this gate of dreams
Takes me away

With the wind at my back
The journey before me
I set my feet on the road that leads to life
And take the hands of the ones
Who’ll be my companions
For they will show me the place to begin

Most of my life has been a constant battle.  The battle hasn’t been with any one person.  The battle hasn’t even been with myself.  It would be easy to fight those battles.  When one has a visual of an enemy, one has something to focus on defeating.  My battle is within my mind….my emotions.  Every day of my life, the battle that I wage is against anxiety.  It isn’t just plain old every day concerns…because in my mind, those concerns become monsters.  They twist and contort to become something far worse than they started out to be.

I have said in earlier blogs that I am, by nature, an introvert.  I make myself act like an extrovert.  Over the years, I have learned what it takes to make oneself seem at ease in public places and the one in the room who makes everyone laugh.  It is far easier than explaining the social anxieties I feel whenever I meet someone new. It is far easier to be the one who makes everyone else feel at ease while your own heart is racing, your palms are sweating, and your face is flushing.  It is easier to make them think the flush in your cheeks is due to the gut-busting laugh you just let fly.  All the while….you stand there feeling like a fearful little boy who only wants someone to take his hand and tell him that it’s ok and will all be over shortly.

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This past week has been particularly challenging for me.  It seems that every moment was inundated with anxiety rearing its ugly head.  “What if you aren’t able to perform up to par at work?” “What if you were left all alone for the rest of your life?”  “What if something happened to…your dog, your family, your partner, your friends?”  It also hasn’t helped that I am anticipating a week long work venture starting next weekend where I am constantly surrounded by hundreds of colleagues.

Normally, when I feel overwhelmed, I bury myself in comfort.  This week has been all about Peanuts comic strips, Harry Potter movies and a whole lot of sage and incense. I separate myself…I disappear into nature.  Unfortunately, this weekend, that has been hard.  It has rained almost the whole weekend.  I have either been forced to be social or to sit inside and pace like a caged wolf.Rain GIF

 

Normally the rain would be soothing, but that is only when I get out in the midst of it.  This morning was the first morning that it had only been spitting rain here.  It wasn’t a steady pour, but more like the Great Mother was blowing a raspberry.  It has been chillier than typical for this time of year, so I decided that, for my own sanity, I had to venture outside.

I gathered up Friz before the sun even came up this morning.  His sleepy little eyes begged me not to take him to the vet again like yesterday.  I got my backpack sorted, threw my cloak over me and headed for the woods.  Friz wasn’t feeling the walk in the spritzes of rain, so I picked him up and tucked him inside my cloak.  We made our way through the small canape of trees and found our familiar clearing.  I sat down in the midst of the wet leaves.  Who cares how much they soaked through?  I pulled out my candles, crystals, skulls and incense.  The circle this morning was made by putting various colors of rose petals in a circle around me.  This morning, I needed to feel that love that I knew was only a breath away.  I scattered petals over the skulls and around the candles.  This morning would be a ritual for me.  Sometimes you just have to make it about yourself.

I closed my eyes and sang to the elements.  I could smell the wet earthiness and floral fragrances.  I could feel the breeze against my cheeks and the heat of the candles as I moved my hands above them. I called to Mama Crow and to Wolf.  This morning, more than ever, I needed teaching and magickal enlightenment.  I could sense them moving quietly behind me.  I continued to sing.  I remember my grandma…in times of trouble or uncertainty, she sang.  She said that she did it to make her heart match the spirit around her.  Sometimes I sang words that I knew and sometimes I let the spirit moving inside me birth words that seemed unintelligible.  As I smelled the sweet sage and incense wafting around me, my heart began to lighten.  My grandma used to tell me that sometimes we just have to wait for the mind and heart to catch up with the spirit.2014-07-18 23.48.50

 

I realized that I had waited too long to try to lift this mood.  The moment I felt it, I should have been in the woods pouring my spirit out before nature and my guides.  It was strange.  Mama Crow and Wolf kept their distance until my heart felt lighter.  After that moment, they came closer…Mama Crow sternly reprimanding me for taking so long and Wolf patiently staring at me to see if the lessons he gave had taken root.

I thanked them, the elements, and all of Nature around me and gathered all that I had brought.  Friz had apparently slept well inside my cloak because he was ready to walk now.  We walked the newer path we had found  and as we moved to the top of the hill, we saw a narrow little wooden gate.  It reminded me of those we used with the goats back home.  Within a matter of moments, I heard a sound I hadn’t heard since our last trip to North Carolina….the sound of goats.  I remembered last year when they brought goats in to clear the brush around the complex.

I was reminded of the lyrics to the song I started the blog with.  Most of our lives, we spend on the safe side of the gate…where we won’t encounter anything that we might not be completely comfortable with.  This morning, I walked through that gate.  In my mind’s eye, I could see me holding onto Wolf’s coat as I walked and I could feel the weight of Mama Crow on my shoulder….and leading the way was  a little blue chihuahua who knows no fear.

With the wind at my back
The journey before me
I set my feet on the road that leads to life
And take the hands of the ones
Who’ll be my companions
For they will show me the place to begin

Sometimes, even an old Weathered Wiseman has to start from the beginning of the journey….it keeps you from getting too big for your britches.

Blessed Be!2014-07-19 18.46.03

Leashing the Wolf

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My partner and I went to visit my family over the Fourth of July weekend.  We had a lot of fun playing with the nephew and seeing Ma and my aunt and my dad and of course being back in my old woods.  When we arrived back in Atlanta, I unpacked and sat down for a cup of tea.  I felt the need to connect with the water energy here at the complex, so I decided to take a quick trip to the pond.  When I got there, I was horrified, saddened and angry all at the same time.  From the time we had left to the time we got back home, they had drained the pond.  I asked one of the neighbors about it and they seemed glad that it was gone.  “All it did was add to the mosquito population anyway.”

Something has been reeling through my brain all week long…ever since seeing the pond drained and hearing the relief in my neighbors voice that it had ‘just because of the inconvenience of a few mosquitoes’ (even though I really haven’t seen a drop in the population of mosquitoes since it happened).  I have wondered does man always feel the need to control?  Does the need to always tame that which is out of his grasp keep him preoccupied so that he doesn’t really look at the world around him?

Let’s start with Native Americans.  People came to North America in search of freedoms.  When they arrived, they encountered tribes of indigenous people.  Rather than learn from these people…rather than appreciate the culture and knowledge these people had to offer.  It was quickly decided that these people were to be conquered.  They must assimilate into the world that would be created here.

If it wasn’t by slaughter that these ‘savages’ would be conquered, then their spirits would be crushed by shipping their children off to Indian schools.  In these schools, they would be stripped of their clothing and heritage, hosed down like vermin, beaten when they spoke their native language or practiced their native religion.  Those who invaded their land weren’t comfortable with their ‘wildness.’  They needed to be tamed.Carlisle School boys

 

If you look at the way we treat our pets…when they bark, we tell them to be quiet.  We have come to expect them to be little humans.  We discourage any of the wolf-like qualities that attracted us to them to begin with.  We are intrigued by the wolf-dog, but only because we want to know what it is like to have the wildness of the wolf and tameness of the canine in one animal.   I understand that in this day and age there have to be certain boundaries for the safety of our charges.  I hate having to leash Friz when we go on adventures…but for his safety, this is necessary.  It protects him from the other humans who don’t quite understand the nature of an animal  or proper animal etiquette. wolf on leash

I have watched the way I interact with Friz over the past week.  I realized that I treat him more like a child than the magnificent beast that is truly lying underneath that fur.  I have tried to engage him more on his terms since that observation and it is amazing the difference.  He has become less anxious and seems to have a brighter demeanor.  I have watched him slowly become more confident.  He is venturing further from me in the house…he is no longer my shadow.

This principle doesn’t just apply to the animals.  Here in Atlanta, over and over we hear constantly about preserving green space, but whenever I look around, there seems to be more and more concrete being laid…more buildings going up….apartments, condos,  office space.  When we are through with them, we leave them in disrepair and wait to see how long it will take them to decompose.  reclaimed bathroom

 

 

We, as humans, have learned to live our lives tamed.  I actually think the word ‘caged’ feels more accurate.  We would like to blame the government for these issues…but it isn’t the government.  We would like to blame religion for these issues…but it isn’t religion.  It is very simple, really.  It is people.

We have learned, through centuries of teaching, that whatever makes us uncomfortable must be caged, contained, or crushed.  We have seen, in history, that those who were even believed to have practiced witchcraft were burned, drowned, and sent to their deaths in unbelievably cruel ways.  There were reasons that the cunning men and wise women of old separated themselves from the villages.  It was easier to live life isolated than face constant persecution.

I have spent most of my life being looked at under a cocked eyebrow. “Why is he different than we are?”  “Why can’t he just settle down with a nice girl?” “Does he have to work magick with skulls and fire?”  “Why would anyone want to be a witch? On purpose?” “He must be crazy.  He talks to animals like they understand him and he talks to the weather….oh, and he dances in the rain.”

As I get older, I realize that, for myself…my own peace of mind, I must be exactly who I am.  I can’t compromise that for a moment.  If that means that I don’t fit inside someone else’s idea of what normal is, then so be it.  I choose the way I live my life…if your choices are different then go with it…just don’t condemn me for mine.  I walk the path that has been laid before me.  I can’t walk yours…it is not my journey.  On my path, I choose to create…whether by magick, or with my hands.  I choose not to destroy.

I will live a life of freedom…not your freedom, but those that apply to me.  Whether I am in the middle of the woods, the edge of a pond, or in the middle of a concrete laden parking lot…I will be free.  I will throw my head back, open my arms and embrace the energy swirling around me.  That is what I did last night in my courtyard in the wee hours…I opened my arms to the moon, closed my eyes and threw my head back.  In that moment, I was free of any opinions, sickness and fear.  In that moment, I was unfettered by cords that may try to bind me.  In that moment,  I watched as my spirit ran free, unleashed by anything that would try to tie me down.tumblr_n2lnbutsa41so177no1_500

 

Blessed Be!

Let Freedom Ring

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This week has been a challenging one.  It seems that I have put on my counselor’s hat most every day.  Everyone I have talked to seems to be bound up…bound up by things that they can’t control.  It is like I have watched as people wrap themselves tighter and tighter in issues that they have either created or have let into the cracks of their lives and irritation resulted.

I talked to one woman who was consumed by jealousy.  When I asked her what her husband had done to build such jealousy and distrust in her, she answered that he had done nothing….that it was just the way she was.  She searched through his phone when he wasn’t looking, she followed him constantly (only to see him go exactly where he told her he was going), she questioned him and needled him every waking moment.  He had simply told her that he was tired.  She was so tightly wrapped up in her own mind, that she didn’t realize that she was exhausting the relationship.

A male friend I talked to this week, could do nothing but mourn the loss of a relationship that he had seven years ago.  He blamed all of his inadequacies on this person deserting him seven years ago and how this other person was ‘his heart.’  He kept going on about how I could never understand that kind of loss in my life. (Honestly, at this point, my eyes had rolled back into the back of my head in an ‘oh please’ type of reaction.)  No, I doubt that I could understand losing someone…never mind that I had dealt with the loss of a partner to AIDS.  As I sat there listening to him tell me how painful every day still was, I wondered why it was easier for him to wind himself up in the turmoil that he had created and not live his life a little more carefree.

As I listened more than talked this week…I think I realized something about people, in general.  People are afraid.  People are afraid that, without drama in their lives, they will be overlooked.  They are afraid that they will just blend in with everyone else.  As I talked to the jealous wife, I realized that her value didn’t come from her family or her relationship. It didn’t even come from who she was.  It came from being able to weave the tales of his betrayal…to be able to earn sympathy for something that her husband had given her no reason to believe.  When she told me that he hadn’t done anything and that jealousy was just a part of her nature…it told me all I needed.  Her nature was the damaged part of the relationship.

My male friend, even as he spoke about living with his heartbreak….in that same breath asked me why I don’t have any photos of Jim.  I told him that it wouldn’t be fair to my current partner and that was a part of life that was finished. There was no way that it could ever be what it was.  When I buried Jim,  I also had to bury that relationship.  I still carry the love and memories, but the love and memories don’t possess me.

Many may read this and feel that I am cold and heartless.  It isn’t that.  I just can’t imagine being bound by anything extra.  Life throws enough at you.  Why hold onto things that can make your life even crazier.  I have always been the type of person who believes that you live and you let live.  As long as you don’t hurt others or aren’t spewing vile…then I will peaceably live my life alongside of you.  Just like with my friend that is seven years out of a relationship….I asked him, “How often do you think he sits and thinks of you?”  Just like I asked the woman bound by jealousy, “Have you ever thought that if you let go of the jealousy that you could actually be with the love of your life, living your ‘Happily Ever After?”broken-chains

So many times, we concentrate on such tiny things….the things that rub like sandpaper.  If we were to just give a tug on those chains, we may just find that they are made out of paper.

My step-grandpa used to have cattle.  I watched as he trained an old bull not to tear down the fence.  My grandpa used an electric fence.  He would walk that bull up to that fence and right into it.  The bull would get shocked.  He did this many, many times until finally that old bull wouldn’t get anywhere near that fence.  While I don’t condone his methods, they were effective.  After that bull had it ingrained in his mind that the fence would shock him, my grandpa turned the electricity off to the fence.  In that bull’s mind though, that fence was still capable of shocking him if he went near it.

We have pretty much done the same thing.  We have confined ourselves based on past experiences.  The electricity has been off for years, but we don’t dare test it.  I guess I was always the stubborn child.  I would constantly go up to the fence, touching it to test it every time….not for fear of getting shocked, but in the hope that the next time I touched it, it would be powerless.

I have watched some witches become like Christian church.  I have always believed that whatever your path, faith is the primary part.  Faith puts feet to belief.  I can believe that the fence won’t shock me all I want, but until that moment I reach out and touch it, it is something only my brain has concocted.  The cunning men and women in the community were the ones that the townsfolk would come to for guidance, for magick, for something that everyday life couldn’t supply.  Isn’t it really time we lived up to that?

A friend of mine posted a photo today…I took it to heart.  Most might get offended, but it struck me as an epiphany.

fuck

Blessed Be!