Finding Your Strength

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It seems like an eternity since I have sat down to write.  Life has a way of picking us up by the scruff of the neck sometimes and shaking us like a dazed puppy.  Since January, I have had two strokes, my mom has been hospitalized for over a month, and our oldest cat TeeTee is preparing for her journey into the summerlands.

I hate to admit it, but in the midst of everything that has happened, magick tended to be done in hindsight…an afterthought at first to the situation at hand.  There were days after the strokes that I would find myself just sitting…staring out of windows…more conscious of the drooping or the lack of strength on my left side.  Funny, the doctor says that I have had ‘mini strokes.’  In talking to a friend of mine and through reading, I have found out that a stroke is a stroke.  There are no minis or maxis.

Through the challenges of recuperation, there were, constantly in the back of my mind, visions of my great grandma’s sister.  We called her Aunt Carrie.  I often wish I had gotten to know her before the strokes.  She was a beautiful woman always dressed to the nines, very passionate and eloquent from what I was told.  She was a teacher.  When I got to know her, she had been ravaged by stroke after stroke.  They had rendered her bed-ridden, only able to mouth and garble words, and only able to barely motion.

I lived in a world of not feeling like myself, fear of being that shell of a person I once was…but it was in the words of friends and family that I found the strength to push myself.  I found out from my mother that Aunt Carrie was given the opportunity to go through therapy but chose not to.  Her marriage was bad, her husband used to beat her.  She hoped for death but was given an existence with a husband riddled with guilt who now decided that he needed to try to make up for the earlier hell she had to suffer through.

I determined that I would not recreate that scenario for myself.  I had many friends that not only supported me through my healing but also pushed me.  They knew there was more fight in me than I was showing.  They also realized that I had pushed my magick to the sidelines.  Working side by side with them and my doctor, I used magick and medicine toward healing.  I did the therapies…I did the dreamwork.  I utilized stones, crystals and visualization.  I found myself in a good place.  My doctor had even told me that I had made progress that she wouldn’t have expected until the six month mark.

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I built a moss and fae garden to keep me close to the earth at all times…wear hematite for grounding.  Things were looking better daily.  I began to breathe again.

Then we noticed that our older cat TeeTee was losing weight and throwing up more.  We took her to the vet for bloodwork and xrays.  The bloodwork looked ok, but when they pulled up the xrays, I breathed in sharp.  I worked at a veterinarian’s office for ten years.  I had learned to read xrays.  When I saw the large fibrous mass staring back at me, I knew immediately that it wasn’t good.  We discussed options with the vet and came to the conclusion that as long as she wasn’t in pain and seemed to have a decent amount of energy that we would do whatever was needed to keep her happy.  We have blended the stinkiest of foods, hand-fed her, given extra attention…and now as I type this,  we know that it won’t be much longer.

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We know that we have given her the best life she could have.  From a wild, white feral kitten to a spoiled content house cat, she has been cuddled, pampered, catered to, and loved with complete abandon.  Where is the strength we pull on here? The knowledge that she will rest and walk side by side with Bastet…back with the energy and magick she came from.  We also know that they truly never completely leave your heart and side.

When you think you can’t handle anymore…the flood gates tend to open.  Toward the middle of April, I got a call from my aunt.  My mom had been admitted to the hospital that past Saturday.  No one wanted to worry me (give me another stroke) so they didn’t let me know.  My aunt was calling, however, to tell me that my mom had to be put on a ventilator and that the doctor had suggested calling the family in.  We left immediately for North Carolina.  My partner and I sat by her bedside for five days straight.  They had induced a coma…hoping that the rest would do its part in the healing.

My mom has always had a strong faith and believed in energies and such (with our family history, how could she not).  I had witches from all over sending healing and energy toward her.  My brother, who thinks my mom is more along the lines of a conservative christian, asked how I think Ma would feel knowing all those witches were sending her healing.  My aunt walked into the room behind him and whispered in his ear, “I think she would be completely fine with it.” With that comment, she looked at me and gave a wink and kissed the air.

In the process of that hospital stay, my mom coded not once, but three different times.  She always made her way back though.  She is a fighter.  She has always been the bedrock of our family.  I knew that if anything happened to her, that would fall to me.  My first visit, I whispered to her, “I am not strong enough for this yet.” I have no doubt that she heard me.

It has been a long, hard battle but she is now awake, aware, winking, smiling, and breathing air and not on oxygen.  They have decreased the size of the trach opening and have moved the feeding tube from her nose to her stomach.  She is now going through therapy and trying to mouth words.

I feel like in the midst of all of these things happening around me, that I have lived any spare time I have beside ponds, in woods, and walking mountains.  On my last trip to Red Top Mountain, I looked forward at the path ahead.  It was crooked, scattered with rock, muddy in places, but oh so calming and lush.  An old bible verse sprang to my mind, “I lift up my eyes to the mountains, from where my help comes.”

There is an area hewn into the rock on Red Top…I crawled into that cubby and lay my head back.  I woke up an hour later after the most peaceful sleep I have had in months.  Life is going to give us twists and turns, scratches, bruises, pain…and yes, even death.  I have found though that I do have the strength to face each one.  It doesn’t mean it isn’t going to hurt or that there won’t be loss or challenges, it means that I can survive.  I can come out of it stronger…the armor might be a bit dirty or scuffed and even broken in places, but I have the choice of getting up and continuing on, or falling back and dying.

I walked out into the courtyard yesterday after work.  I finally gave up and just started leaving food for the birds, squirrels and anything else that might be hungry out there.  Mama Crow was perched on the wall eating peanuts.  She looked straight at me and gave me her comforting ‘Graaaaaaaackkk’

I will keep getting up as long as I am able.

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Finding Our Voice and Testing the Wind

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As much magick as I know resides in me, over the past two weeks, I have been reminded just how mundane my body is.  I have been nursing a sprained ankle (which, by the way, I have not slowed down for in the least), feeling the various aches and pains that come with aging, broken out from the stress of a sick cat, and felt more of a hunger for sleep because of a friend’s cat who is dealing with cancer.

It seems that the physical has been the part of me that interrupts more than anything else.  Last weekend, my partner and I went on a long weekend mountain trip with eight other friends.  During the trip, we walked, climbed….constantly.  My body ached under the stress of its own weight.  I pushed on.  I could feel my ankle giving under the pressure as I slid down a portion of the mountain.  The swelling later told me that my suspicions were true…a sprain. 2014-10-16 13.43.10

We drove through the Cherokee reservation.  Off to the side of the road, we saw elk.  As we pulled the cars over, I was reminded of the strength of the elk.

Elk’s medicine includes stamina, strength, sensual passion, respecting those of your gender, ability to pace oneself in tasks, agility, nobility.

Elk’s medicine will teach us how to make the best use of our energy, helping us to take on no more than we need to accomplish, and to persist on our chosen route until we have fulfilled our goals. Don’t try to rush – pace yourself. You may not necessarily be the first to arrive, but you will arrive without being burnt out.

Possessing tremendous stamina, elks are able to run for a very long time. They are powerful with strong reflexes, responding speedily to anything that appears on their path. Elks are very alert and can sense danger the moment it arrives and can show us how to become more observant of subtle energies. Elks are temperamental and unpredictable, subdued one moment and aggressive the next.

 

As I studied these strong, graceful animals, I silently whispered to the Earth Mother to give me the attributes of the Elk.  I slept the rest of the ride into the mountains, dreaming of Elk the entire rest of the way.

We arrived at our mountain cabin mid-evening on Thursday.  While we were out on Friday, I get a text from the roomie, who is watching the fur-kids.  One of the cats is urinating in the bathtub and there is blood in it.  In that moment, I am ok.  It is probably the female and a course of antibiotics will clear it up.  I continue through the activity of the day (hiding the pain in my ankle as best I can).  One of our stops was Dollywood.  While everyone else was interested in the outfits in her museum, I was out among the birds in her raptor rehabilitation program.  My partner found me outside talking to a large crow named Poe, telling him what issues I had been smacked up side the head with.2014-10-17 13.56.08

Later that evening, I get another text…it is the male cat, Merlin.  I panic.  Male cat + UTI + Blood = Blockage.  I was in a frenzy the rest of the night.  We agreed that the roomie would take him to the vet the next morning.  In the meantime, I am concentrating on how early we need to leave to go back home.  I post on Facebook for all my witchy friends to send energy to my poor cat.  I text a few that I know will pour energy into him.  I set off by myself into the woods of the mountains in the dark.  In hindsight, I probably should have thought about bears, mountain lions, etc, but my cat needed me.

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I pulled my mini cauldron out of my backpack, along with my crow skull and the cat’s skull that I have.  I lit candles and incense and I called out to the Morrigan and to Bast.  Actually it sounded more like wailing to start…then I remembered a dear friend of mine who had asked me to sing out to Bast in the mountains for her and her own cat who had crossed over earlier in the week.

I started to sing…it sounded to my ears like the voice of the Cherokee…the ancients.  I felt as if the spirits of my ancestors had gathered around me in a circle. I know that this time of year allows communion with those who have moved into another station of existence.cherokee

 

The more I chanted and sang, the more power I could feel surging through me.  I could feel the energy of hundreds of grandmothers and grandfathers who had gone before.  I never thought that I would ever feel that energy by myself.  I had felt it at Powwows and in drum circles, but never alone.  The energy pressed around me.  I sang and wept. I could feel the heat rising from the deepest part of my spirit.

In those moments, the fear was gone.  Nothing would touch me in the midst of all that energy.  I was encompassed by Bast, the Morrigan, and more ancestors than I could have imagined having.  No bear or mountain cat would dare interrupt that energy.  I could feel myself almost leaving my own body….moving into the plane of the others, but still stationary.  I knew that everything would be alright.  I felt the release.  I packed up and went back to the cabin.  I fell on the bed.

My wake up call the next morning was a text telling me that Merlin would be fine and that antibiotics would clear the infection up.  My call to the woods that same morning was a time of gratitude.  I danced with my ancestors.  I blessed Bast and the Morrigan.

My friend Maluna said it best,

Some are children of The Morrigan….we have the wings of black etched on our souls…we travel through life and face whatever comes…but then…we come into ourselves, face ourselves….the wings unfurl…spread…glistening black…sparkling with drops of fire….we find our voice, we test the winds…we fly. We soar. It’s time. Make it your time. BB

 

I still ache.  I am still breaking out.  I am still tired…and I am still hobbling around….but I have found my voice.  It is the voice of my ancestors…the grandmothers and grandfathers who came before me.  I test the winds…I fly…higher than I ever thought possible.  I soar…and yes, this is my time!

Blessed Be!

 

Waiting…Quietly, Waiting

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Some days I wish I could wave my wand and disappear.  Not in a “I am tired of this existence” kind of way…more in a “can I get a little bit of peace and quiet” kind of way.  It seems that this week has been noise on top of noise on top of noise.

The neighbors above us have absolutely no consideration.  They tromp around like a herd of elephants and try their best to asphyxiate me with every cigarette they toss over into my courtyard.  Then there is the crayola haired heifer that lives across the way who is determined to park in the parking space directly in front of my unit and then yell at me when she gets caught.  Lastly, there is the little Mexican man who loves to play mariachi music as loud as his truck speakers can pump it out.

I hate when I have to play the part of the wicked witch.  But some people just bring that out of you.  I decided for the upstairs neighbors benefit, it was time work some magick so that he got a little bit of an eyeful.  I have talked to him nicely about all I can about the noise level.

During the dark moon the other night, I gathered my cauldron and candles, black salt and banishing oil and incense and set up in the middle of the courtyard.  I set everything a-blazing and I created a circle around the courtyard with the black salt.  I sat down in the middle of it and I waited.  The time had to be perfect.  The night was dark and humid.  The wind was still.  I whispered my greeting to the Moon.  I acknowledged and invited the directions and the elements.  Air was the first to join.  I felt the tickle of the smallest breeze against my cheek.  It combined with water (which I provided through sweat).  I ran my fingers through the dirt in front of me and the watched as the cauldron flame finally burst forth and danced in front of me.  Now it was the perfect time.

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As I lifted my voice to call on the Morrigan, the sliding glass doors above me opened.  It was in that moment that crow caws could be heard all over the complex.  One caw….three answered back.  I waited.  I could feel the neighbor straining to see just what I was doing, but I was just out of his range of vision.  I did all my spell work right there under his nose, but in the shadows.  As I finished, I blew out the candles, thanked the elements, directions and the Morrigan.  As I cleaned up the magickal remnants, I saw him up there leaning over the railing.  I smiled brightly and quietly said, “Wonderful night, huh?  Goodnight.”  They have been quiet as church mice since.

I figured while I was on a dark moon roll, I may as well continue.  Well after midnight…when everyone was in bed,  I went out to my parking place, moved my car into another, and drew a banishing sigil with black witches chalk.  It was already sprinkling rain so I knew that the sigil would be gone by morning, but the energy would remain.  I felt almost giddy as I did it…it was like being a child with sidewalk chalk, but with more purpose.  Sometimes, you just get tired of being yelled at when you didn’t do anything.  The next morning, I sat just outside the courtyard.  She circled the parking lot a couple of times and then went and parked in front of her own unit.  black chalkLastly, the little mariachi loving Mexican fellow…this little fellow has been horrified of me since he first walked into the courtyard and found me doing magick.  He always averted his eyes when he saw me and I could always hear him muttering ‘brujo’ under his breath.  I found that the way to keep him in check was when he got out of line…all I had to do was give him the sign for ‘I’ve got my eye on you’ and he would quickly turn the stereo down.  Well, one night last week, it was extremely late and I hear the thump of familiar music outside my bedroom window.  I was far too tired to deal with him, so I just whispered into the air, “Please, Morrigan, deal with him.”  Then I waited.  The next thing I know, flashing lights are outside my bedroom window…I look out and see a firetruck with firemen scouting the area with flashlights.  I see the little Mexican fellow scrambling out of his truck as hard as he can go and falling to the ground as he makes a mad dash for his apartment.  No music after that.brujo

This morning I was craving time by myself.  When you have three adult men, two dogs, and two cats in one apartment, it can seem impossible to get quiet time.  I don’t have a space in the apartment other than my altar space and even that can be overtaken by a fat gray and white cat.  To write in my Book of Shadows, I have to move his hefty rump to the bookcase by the window.  One thing about it though, my Book of Shadows should be more than pleasing to Bast.

I walked out to the woods alone this morning.  I didn’t take a backpack or candles or skulls or wands.  It was just me and the woods.  Friz looked like I had completely forsaken him and I did have to deal with sufficient pouting when I got back.  I leaned against a tree and closed my eyes.  I waited…just waited.  It was like I could breathe again.  I didn’t have to clean up vomit or hairballs or anything else.  I was able to just sit…and wait.  It felt so good not be rushed or hurried or have to worry about noise.  It was wonderful listening to the trees singing to me and in the distance I hear Mama Crow.  She is singing at the top of her lungs, it doesn’t matter that it doesn’t sound like the sparrows. It is her voice.  This was my week for raising my voice…sometimes it isn’t going to be pretty, but it will be effective.  Mama Crow reminds me that sometimes you have to be just a little loud and a little brash to get what needs done, done.

My home is my comfy space.  To me and others it is that cozy space to sit and have a glass of wine or a cup of tea…to lounge in magick every moment you’re there and to feel as if you have been given a comforting hug when you’ve left.  I will protect those feelings…no matter what it takes…like a mama wolf protecting her den.

Blessed Be!radagasts house

Finding Your Way Back To The Magickal Path

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Help me find my way again,

I’m lost and am afraid.

Take my hand Earth Mother,

My confusion now will fade.

Spirit Guides surround me,

Nature’s heartbeat lead.

Show me now the good right path,

Your lessons I will heed.

Water, Fire, Air and Earth

Revive in me your power.

Create in my heart a grand rebirth.

Come to me this hour.

Wolf, teach me where to turn.

Crow, show me how to fly.

Lord and Lady show your peace to me.

Joy, now over take me, no reason now to cry.

Combined with my intention, three times three…

As I will, so mote it be

 

It is no secret that I love the woods.  I love the smell, the feeling of the trees wrapping around you like a wonderful hug by the earth mother.  I love hearing the rustle of the leaves and sticks and dirt under my feet.  I love the sense of security and peace that I find in the woods.

This morning, really early, Friz and I made our way to those woods that have become like a second home to us.  We walked into the opening that has become like the arms of an old friend. For some reason, Friz seemed particularly energetic this morning.  He bounced and pranced through the leaves and debris on the floor of the woods.  I laughed and watched him….right past our normal spot.  I laughed and danced along side of him as we went farther into the woods.  I didn’t even notice the change in the path or the trees or the fact that the woods seemed more dense.

When I finally looked around, I realized one thing.  I had no idea where we were.  We were completely lost in the woods that had become more than a friend to me.  Friz put his nose to the ground…smells of things that weren’t familiar to him either.  We were lost.  2014-05-17 20.03.03

 

Just to be honest, I am not the bravest person in the world…and Friz is kind of a big chicken himself.  Needless to say, every little noise spooked us.  We would hear sticks crack or rustling in the canape of leaves above us and we would go into defensive mode.  Friz would make half-hearted bark sounds and I would tense up.  Something seemed to whir through my head….from deepest crevices of my brain.  When I was a kid, my grandma would tell me that if I ever got lost, to just sit down where I was and someone or something would find me or the spirits of nature would tell me which direction to move in. So I sat down.

Friz was glued to my side.  I unpacked my backpack.  I pulled out my candles, my wolf skull and bones, my crow skull, my Palo Santo wood (a type of incense I got at a Pagan Market…smells a lot like sage with less smoke), and my newest addition, a cat’s skull.  I had brought the cat’s skull into the woods to cleanse it.  It had been found in the side yard of a friend’s house when he was doing some digging.  He sent it to me because he knew that I loved working with animal spirits and that it would be treated with respect.2014-05-17 20.22.29

 

As I opened the door and welcomed in the directions, the elements, my guides, the Lord and Lady…a spitting of rain began working its way through the woods.  I brought my cloak over my face and set Friz in my lap and covered him.  I was surprised that the candles stayed lit.  I moved the smoking Palo Santo stick around the cat skull offering prayers for the spirit of the animal….that, if it was tormented in life or had a harsh death, it’s spirit would peacefully cross over into the summerlands.

I closed my eyes, the smell of the burning incense wood wafting through my nostrils, and I waited.  I waited for nature to speak to me.  I waited for someone or something to come find me and lead me back onto my familiar and comfortable path.  I listened.

In those next moments, I heard a familiar old cackle.  I looked above me and there perched Mama Crow.  She was comfortable.  There seemed to be no distress or rush for her to move.  I took my cue from her.  I continued to cleanse the cat skull.  I place her carefully between wolf and crow.  I thanked the directions and elements.  I blew out the candles and packed everything carefully away.  I stood and watched as Mama Crow flew from tree to tree….Listen to nature…hmmm.  I followed her direction.  It was not a way I was familiar with.tumblr_n58qpyIm7Q1rz4573o1_500

 

I picked Friz up.  I could tell he was tired of walking.  I felt another energy with us.  It shouldn’t surprise me that Wolf joined us.  Normally, wherever there is Crow, there is Wolf.  I could feel Wolf imparting new knowledge to me as we walked.  “Though the path we walk may not be familiar…it is not necessarily the wrong path.  We may end up somewhere that we need to be instead of somewhere we want to be.  Just because you don’t know where you are, doesn’t mean you are lost.  It just means you needed direction…something new…something fresh.  Stop.  Breathe in the Magick. Become acquainted with the newness of the magick around you.  It is ever-changing and always moving.  Sometimes humans just have to stop trying so hard to catch up.”2014-05-17 23.02.21

 

I looked up and saw that the trees were thinning.  I was coming upon the edge of the woods.  Where did I end up?  How far out of my way did I go?  I laughed out loud as I realized that I had come in behind the condo complex….actually even closer to home.  I had not traveled the wrong path at all….just one not so familiar…but one that brought me even closer to where I needed to be all along.

I remember a phrase my grandma used to use quite a bit.  “He went around his elbow to get to his nose.”  This morning I realized that sometimes you need to take that longer path. Wisdom and understanding may just be waiting for you on that path.2014-05-17 21.05.54

 

Blessed Be!

Round About the Cauldron Go…

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Today has been a very busy day for me magickally.  I started the morning half asleep at my desk.  Nothing seemed to be waking me up.  I reached in my drawer to get a selection of stones and crystals that I keep in there, along with a small black candle and a small white candle.  I sat everything up and proceeded to call on goddess to restore my energy.  Now, I know that a lot of folks think that magick should be enveloped in ceremony and ritual….but I happen to believe that magick and the power of the gods and goddesses can be accessed at any time.  I don’t necessarily have to have on my best ceremonial robes.  That’s what I happen to love the most about witchcraft….I don’t have to be like you and you don’t have to be like me and we are neither one wrong.

As soon as I was feeling more myself, I settled in for work…which seemed like a full day of refereeing.  On my break, I checked in on Facebook to see where a friend had asked how many cauldrons we all had.  I stated that I have three.  I have a small copper cauldron for incense, a medium sized one that fits perfectly in the middle of my altar, and a large one…for when I have to haul out the big guns.  She asked if the largest one was the most powerful…not per se…but I answered that it is the one that I dance around and wail like a banshee when I really want to see results.

Another Facebook friend had requested healing energy for her own pet.  Having just dealt with an ailing fur-friend, I felt compelled to do some major magick on her pets behalf.  I pulled out my mini-altar and proceeded to do some energy work, but with the intent of doing some ‘heavy duty’ work when I got home.  I fidgeted at my desk the rest of the afternoon.  I was ready to throw myself with abandonment into the workings of magick.

2013-08-08 20.47.17I pulled into the parking lot of the condo complex at about 4:30pm.  I was so excited about working in the courtyard…I had been looking forward to it all day.  I went inside and gathered everything I would need to accomplish my goals.  I hauled the big cauldron out onto the patio because suddenly the courtyard was caught in the midst of a brand new downpour.  I poured some brandy into the cauldron, followed by different herbs, a little cat hair…and a whole lot of intent.  I struck a match and watched as the flames danced around the bowl of the cauldron.  I have been growing mandragora officinarum and decided that it would make a wonderful addition to the brew.  I like its protective properties as well as its warding abilities and its invincibility. I carefully dug the root out of the dirt, dusted away the soil and pulled one of the delicate little root hairs and added it to the pot before burying the root again.
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I called on the elements…the directions….Bast, Hekate, The Morrigan.  I laid out my intent before them.  I began to dance and sing around the cauldron.  A fast hard rain began to wash through the courtyard.  I could feel the steam as it hit the ground.  I was amazed at how clean and new everything looked with the rainwater dripping from it.  I am constantly amazed at how magick can give you a new perspective on things.  As I sat down in front of the cauldron, I was dripping with both a little rain and a lot of sweat.  I watched the fire smolder down into a wonderful aroma of dried herbs, brandy and smoke.  I leaned against the brick of the patio and basked in the abilities of the goddess to be able to use the intent that I had been conjuring all day.

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I got up and went inside and gathered three blackthorn sticks and my knife. I started carving and scraping and whittling into that wonderfully stubborn hard wood.  What will they become?  More wands?  An athame handle?  The possibilities are endless….it’s all in the intent.  There is so much that I want and need to do over the next few days….work with the blackthorn…that’s a given, work on my staff…it’s time to add some stones, organize my magick supplies and tools…am I really up for it?

I still feel it stirring inside of me…..there is something strong stirring.  I am giddy with anticipation.  I have yet begun to tap into the magick!

Blessed Be!