Riding Out the Storm

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For some reason, I have never really been afraid of storms.  I can remember, as a child, when a storm would come, my mother would gather us up (kids, dogs, cats, everyone) and run to the middle of the house.  She needed for us to be as far away from windows and doors as possible.  We would all huddle in the hall next to the bathroom and she would sit and rock and cry.  My inclination was quite the opposite.  I wanted to run toward the door, fling it open and be right in the middle of it.  The lightning was fascinating.  My grandma would tell me stories of the Cherokee Thunderers…they were fierce beings, but I was never made to feel afraid of them.  I saw them as something otherworldly and magickal.

Still now, when I feel the electricity that comes with a thunder and lightning storm, I am drawn to it.  I feel the need to be right in the middle of it.  When I hear storms brewing, it brings to mind what I learned in school…”the calmest place is in the eye of the storm.”  Right there in the middle of the storm is the calmest, most still air.  It is funny to think of it this way, but right there in the middle of what may be a hurricane, is the lowest amount of pressure.  That area is where there can be an opening for light to come in and where the breezes are light.

I have been surrounded by people this week enveloped in storms.  It is like I have said before, people are attracted to the magick they see in others.  I have been called on by folks in the midst of breakups, depression, anxiety. My advice?  Learn to ride the storm.  The one thing that I have noticed regarding humans, is that they always want to fist-fight the wind.

Watching people weather the storms in their lives reminds of the rodeo.  It is much like bull riding.  Why in the world would anyone want to climb on the back of a bull and see how long they can stay on? A sense of accomplishment?  Maybe.  To prove that they can? Possibly.  They reason that cowboys will climb onto the back of a bull to see how long they can stay on…the prize at the end of the ride.  So you just climb on the back of that bull, sit down and do nothing but wait for the ride to end, right?  No.  Your body has to follow the motion of the bull.  You must be aware of the movements the bull is making and mirror that to some extent.  You definitely have to be flexible.

bull ride

I was walking Friz through the complex this morning.  Again, we were greeted by the sight of green dusty cloak and a familiar mop of dirty brown hair.  He sat in the same spot he was last week.  It tore at my heart to see him sitting alone.  Isn’t that how most of us try to face the challenges and hurts in our lives, though?  Alone. His face lights up when he sees little Friz saunter up to him.  Friz’s whole body shook with joy seeing our friend against the early morning darkness.  The green wizard scooped him up and leaned into the thousands of licks that invaded his cheeks.

We walked and talked as he carried Friz close to his chest.  He talked about how hard the past week has been for him….like a part of his heart had been ripped out.  He said that it felt like walking with one leg and no staff.  Sleeping was hard because he had always fallen asleep listening to Calliope breathing.  I looked in his eyes and noticed that the sparkle that is normally visible was faint. His eyes looked weak.  As we moved closer to the center of the woods, he seemed relieved to see the canape of branches and leaves above us.  He lay down in the midst of the leaves and pine needles.  Friz took the opportunity to crawl up onto his belly and nestle.

I never know how often the green wizard gets to eat, so this morning I had made a cottage cheese carton full of grits and eggs and cheese. I handed it to him with a bottle of juice.  He laughed out loud, “Who would have ever thought that I would have run into another magickal being here in the middle of this condominium complex…much less two?”  I saw him wink at Friz as he said it.  He ate slowly….savoring every bite.  He shared a bite with Friz here and there.  We talked about magick.  We talked about animals.  We talked about friendships.  We laughed about unlikely friendships.  I sat there as he rode the winds of his own storm.  I watched as he released the pain of loss.

It amazes me how much magick is contained in the things that we seem to take for granted.  The Hedge witches of old knew this.  Most of their magick involved the things found in everyday life.  Herbs, animals…the things that were right outside their doors.  Who would know that tears could be such a powerful potion.  It is the magick that stirs inside of us that could very well bring healing, peace of mind, understanding and courage.

I was taken back to my childhood today.  I have written about Crazy Mary…the local homeless person in my hometown.  Everyone was afraid of her…they always went the other way.  I remember her smile as a five year old Weathered Wiseman hugged her.  That memory washed over me today.  As I wrapped my arms around the green wizard, I could feel the magick working.  How many had turned the other way when they saw him?  How many had kept from making eye contact?  He had his own storms to ride out just like everyone else.

In all my years working at a vet, I have seen dogs with storm phobias out the wazoo.  Thankfully, my dogs have never been afraid of thunder or rain.  This afternoon, however, I was sitting on the sofa when a huge boom of thunder rang through the house.  My cat, Merlin, sat straight up on the dining room table….I could see his eyes dilating.  I began talking to him.  “What’s wrong, Merlin?  Everything is fine.  Do you want to come and sit beside daddy?”  With those words, this seventeen pound cat, who most of the time seems fearless, climbed onto the sofa beside me…leaned hard into my side, closed his eyes and purred.  In the midst of his fear, he found that calm place….right there in the middle of the storm.

Blessed Be!

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The Resurgence of the Cunning Man

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I have been reading quite a bit lately.  The book that has been the focus of my attention is called, “The Cunning Man’s Handbook” by Jim Baker.  This book covers the practices of the English Cunning Man from years 1550-1900.  It covers the evolution of the cunning folk and the progression of their magick.  These were the healers, charmers, and magicians of the day.  It even discusses the relation to the African practice of Hoodoo.

The cunning folk of the age literally lived at the boundaries of society.  Most were positioned outside of the main hub of villages, simply because the religious leaders of the times were more than suspicious of their practices which may have included tinctures, potions, charms, amulets, spells or curses.

Even looking toward Shamanism, you see often that the Holy Man was often located at the edge of the encampment.  This was not just a way of separating him from the ‘common’ folk….but a means of protection for the tribe.  His medicine would ward off evil spirits and anyone or anything that would wish harm upon the people.

This book has caused my mind to reel and analyze my own practices.  How many times in a week or month are we approached by those around who know that we are witches and conjurers?  How often do they approach us tentatively for fear that someone in their immediate circle might find out what they are doing?  To whom do we remain in the ‘broom closet?’

I know that many in my own condo complex seek me out to give advice or to interpret the latest dream.  Friends call on me when energies are needed or they want a charm for ‘luck’ or protection.  I am the one in my cube at work that has the scent of lavender wafting around him.  I keep a hag stone with a crow bone hidden under my shirt as an amulet.  I keep a large chunk of amethyst on my desk as a ‘paperweight.’

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As I reclined on the sofa last night, I felt antsy.  The more I tried to relax, the less relaxation would come.  I decided that  it would be the perfect night for magick in the courtyard.  There were breezes blowing…I figured it might be a good night for pushing things out of the way.  I built a fire in the cauldron, settled down in front of it with handfuls of herbs, and addressed the directions, the elements, my guides.  It amazes me how wrapped up people get in the ‘you aren’t doing that the way it is supposed to be done’ mentality.  I have been practicing witchcraft for way too many years to care about the way others think it should be done.  If I have learned one thing about magick…it is the fact that it is ever-changing…so why shouldn’t we be the same.

I love the fact that when my spirit connects with the spirits of my guides and the ancients…there simply is no other way to say it…magick happens. It seems as if the elements dance around me, calling me to fly with them.  It is in this time that it is very evident that the Horned One is very much alive in me.  It is in this season of harvest that I feel that energy for the hunt and the harvest coursing through me.  As the air grows more and more crisp with each day, I feel more and more alive.  It is as if I feel my own energy and virility coursing through. It is in this time that my second sight becomes keener…my sense of smell sharper…my hearing, even more acute.

It is in this time that creativity soars to the surface.  My brain begins to create faster than my hands.  So many thoughts, spells, potions, tools playing chase through my brain.  It is normally in those times that I am most at home in the woods…just at the edge of society.

Most people look forward to the weekend for sleeping late.  I don’t know what that is anymore.  I am most excited by the opportunity to disappear into the woods.  This morning, I woke Friz up before the light of dawn and he and I made our way away from the busy-ness of condo life.  As we rounded that last corner, I recognized a familiar figure.  He was sitting on one of the brick half columns at the edge of the woods.  His knees were up close to his chest and his arms were holding them.  His head was hidden in the nest created by his limbs.  His green cloak covered him completely.  He looked up at me when he heard the rustling of mine and Frisbee’s feet.

He was alone.  I looked for Calliope and then I saw the sadness in his eyes.  We knew she had some years on her…I don’t think he knew exactly how many.  They had gone to sleep together one night, but only one woke up the next morning.  His consolation was knowing that spirit lives forever and that her energy would constantly swirl about him.  Still, that doesn’t make losing a friend any easier.  It was as if Friz sensed the vacancy in his heart.  He extended his feet up the column where the Green Wizard sat.  The Green Wizard shifted so that he could pick him up.  Friz and the Green Wizard nuzzled each other deeply.  Friz looked back at me as if saying, “Is it ok?  He really needs me now.”  I nodded to him and he went back to nuzzling this weathered, saddened young man.

The Green Wizard looked up at me and forced a smile as he tried to clear the giant lump in his throat.  He tried to choke out a sentence, but I stopped him.  I told him that the greatest thing about friends is that words aren’t always needed.  With those words, this tired, dirty, emotionally drained young man wrapped his arms around me.  He has spent his life truly living the life of the Cunning Man.  Always kept at arms length from society.  Walking…always walking….and now alone.

This morning the magick was simple.  It was two men and one blue chihuahua honoring the spirit of a faithful friend.

Blessed Be!

Find Your Purpose, Find Your Passion, Find Your Place

unrepeatable

I am pretty sure that most of Atlanta thinks I am crazy by now.  Last night, I had gone to dinner with my roommate and as we are standing out in the parking lot of the restaurant, we see dark clouds gathering above us.  The wind picks up and I can feel the beginnings of spritzing coming from the clouds.  I stand there…my face pressing against the wind, begging it to pick me up and carry me.  I put my arms out beside me and feel the electricity of the combination of the clouds, the lightning, and the air speaking volumes to my own spirit.  It is in those moments that the witch in me calls to my besom with hopes of being lifted above the moon.

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My roommate calls out to me to ‘make a run for it.’  He can see sheets of rain coming in the distance….I think it was more because he didn’t want the folks nearby to think I had completely lost my mind.  When I finally walked into the restaurant, he is standing there laughing softly.  He says, “Only you would think that in all that weather, that it would do what you told it to do.”  I had to correct him….there are many more like me out there.

If you think about it, how many times are we told in our lifetimes that something must be done a certain way, or that we aren’t doing something correctly, or that we are foolish for even believing that magick exists?  Who are they to tell us that we aren’t capable of holding lightning in our own fingers?  I have come to find out that it is too easy to accept what others think about us than what we believe about ourselves.

This week, I had a short discussion with an extended family member regarding homophobia.  In short, my partner and I were told to be glad that we live here and not in one of the ‘sand’ countries.  I told her that, yes, we are glad to live here and that things are changing by leaps and bounds, but there is so much more to do.  There are still very vivid memories in my mind of walking into school and being called, “Faggot.”  There are equally strong memories of being beaten in the field behind the school for being a faggot (in their words).  I remember going going home with black eyes and broken noses and many other injuries only to tell my mom and dad that some of us guys were playing football.  I also remember the response that came from someone overhearing me talking to a friend about being a witch.  I can remember watching the woman grip the cross around her neck like she was about to perform an exorcism and moving her children out of reach.

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My life, my magick is all about choices that I make.  I have come to realize that I am deeply contented with who I am.  I love the fact that I count the elementals among my friends.  I enjoy the fact that I can make magick spring from my fingertips. I am overjoyed by the fact that I can, if I so desire, hold lightning in my hands.  What I can do is limited only by myself.

In another conversation with my roommate last night, he said to me, “Sometimes I think you envision yourself as Albus Dumbledore.”  I looked him square in the eyes and said, “Oh no…that would limit me in so many ways.  I am the Weathered Wiseman and I am capable of so much more.”

One area that has always come easily to me is visualization.  I had to learn to do it early in my childhood to mentally take myself out of horrible physical situations.  I guess that it why it is so easy for me to have relationship with my spirit guides….so easy to walk and talk with the fae…so easy to let animals speak to me.  I also think that is why so many times…my dreams hold so much power.  Many times when an issue isn’t coming to an ending in the finite world around me, I will go to sleep and watch as solutions unfold in my dream-life.  I have had loved ones who have passed over come to me in my dreams…just to reassure me, calm me, or to just let me know that they are there.

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What is my passion?  I actually sat out in the rain in the woods this morning pondering that very question.  That little blue chihuahua who has been my companion through so much was right there beside me (well, huddled up inside my cloak).  Rain tends to wash away all the grossness that everyday tries to let cling to us.

What Is My Passion?  My passion is to live a Magickal life.  My passion is to live a life guided by the Sun and the Moon and the Earth and the Wind and Water and Fire.  My passion is to hold close the teachings of those who have come and gone before me.  My passion is to be sun-kissed, wind-burned, drenched and dirty.  My passion is to be covered in hugs and kisses by the humans I love and to have my face and hands licked until it tickles.  My passion is to look down at my shirt and laugh in wonder as to whose hair I just found stuck to me (is it a cat whisker? or dog fur?).  I refuse to worry myself sick over what is right and wrong about what I practice.  I still have something that is more than valuable:  Instinct. The ancients didn’t have star charts and IPhones that told them that the moon was full in Aries.

My passion is to know myself better than anyone else knows me and to embrace every moment of life around me.  It is not always going to be wonderful and beautiful…but it will always be what I choose to make of it.

So, finally, Where is my place?  Wherever I am.  My place is home….no matter where I may be.  Two weeks ago, it was slow dancing with a straight man on a crowded dance floor in Florida.  This morning, it was dancing in the rain and mud with a little blue chihuahua. Tonight, it will be dancing in front of my cauldron under the light of a full moon.

Blessed Be!

Slow Dancing and Living Life On My Terms

Choices

Friday was my birthday.  I made possibly the worst decision of my life.  I sat down at 11pm and watched a movie by myself.  The movie?  “Marley and Me.”  I heaved and I sobbed for the last hour of the movie.  I had to get a hand towel from the closet, it was so bad.  It pulled every emotion I felt for the past twenty years up and out.

Now this little sob fest had nothing to do with the fact that I am now two years from fifty.  It had nothing to do with the fact that life in general is a whirlwind.  It was because this movie takes you from birth to old age and finally the death of a beloved friend.

I have always believed deeply in the quote at the top of the page.  It has always been my mantra that we are the end result of all the choices that we make in our lives.  Our hearts, spirits, bodies are the summation of every good, bad, or so-so choice we have ever made.  If you think back far enough, you can take a choice that you have made and correlate it with a later event in your life.

I was in Florida most all of last week.  Many things were presented to me in that leg of my journey in life.  I was able to visit with a friend…able to walk by the water with him….feeling that balmy breeze against my face.  We were looking for makeshift ingredients for a spell.  I look back now and see that it wasn’t looking for ingredients as much as it was about listening to the sounds around us.  I think back on that night and I see more of who I am becoming.  It is becoming more obvious that the Morrigan is the goddess with whom I work.  My words, my actions are becoming more blunt…less willing to allow things that I think are harmful to come into the picture at all.

I know that age is a part of that too.  Too many times I have wanted to pull someone aside this week and ‘enlighten’ them…simply because I have been there before, I want to save them the pain, I want them to be able to see with the eyes of the crone…one who has felt that pain and moved past it.  But I also know that each one has to walk out their own path, their own journey.  I can’t do that for them.  We each have to feel the pain and elation that comes with life.  The only thing that I can do is pray for clarity.

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One thing that I have mulled over in my mind all weekend is the fact that we, as witches, are often quick on the draw with the spellbook.  If you think about it, though, every word that leaves your mouth is a spell of sorts.  Whenever you sit and fume over what the neighbors do…you form intention and out spews exactly what you wish would happen to them.  Each argument that you have with your spouse or partner has the power to build up or rip to shreds.  The words you say speak your own truth daily. Think of your own self speak.  What do you speak into your own life?

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Last night, I dreamed that I found a baby raven.  There was no mother or father anywhere to be found.  As I sat talking out loud to this little black ball of fluff, it ambled out of the nest and plopped itself right down into the middle of my hands.  I picked it up and carried it home with me.  I wasn’t sure what to feed it, how to feed it, or how to nurture it.  Throughout the dream, with no help from me, the raven seemed to grow and mature.  It was a time span of only a month, but this raven had grown into a throaty, raspy voiced adult that only attached itself to me.  Wherever I went, it went with me….riding contentedly on my arm.pet raven

Has a new vision been birthed in my life?  Is it a vision that is going to take a growing strength? Or maybe I am adding to the vision inside of me.  I won’t pretend to be this gentle, plodding soul of a Cunning Man who constantly navigates the woods or creeks or ponds of life.  There is also just that much of me that lives life here in the city and curses when he is cut off in traffic.  He is that person that struggles sometimes with whether or not to break out a poppet and stick it full of pins instead of blessings.  I am the witch who would honestly rather use “Bitch Be Gone” Powder more than “Come to Me Oil.”

I feel that as I move more into the Samhain of my own life, when not everything is about ‘love and light,’ that I have to become more confident in the magick that is brewing inside me.  If I were to feel little bubbles of light all the time…honestly, knowing myself, I would just have to chalk it up to gas.

The one thing that I strive for more than anything with the rising number of years that come with each birthday…is transparency.  I always want to show forth exactly who I am.  Some days that can be a good thing…some days, not so much.  I always want people to look in my eyes and see that no matter what, I will never compromise who I am.

While I was away last week, we were thrown a party.  There was food and drinking and dancing.  I sat at my table and watched as the men and women danced.  I watched as heads were lain on shoulders and people got lost in the moment.  It was during my little daydream that a male friend of mine sat down at my table.  “I feel bad for you.  You don’t have anyone to dance with.”  With those words, this tall, rugged looking straight man takes my hand and leads me to the dance floor.  “You’ve got me for the rest of the evening.”  With that, I put my head on his shoulder and listened to him hum.  He was no less straight and I was no less gay.  He was completely comfortable with who he is and living his life on his terms….and forever, he will be my hero.

Blessed Be!

slow dancing