What Happens When the Magickal Path Doesn’t Seem Quite So Magickal

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I overheard a conversation in our local ‘witchy’ store late this afternoon.  As I rounded a corner,  I saw a group of twenty-something young women looking through the candles and the statues.  One of the young ladies wrinkled her nose and sneered at the candle in her hand and said, “They don’t have anything in here that looks like what they used to have on ‘Charmed.'”  My roommate grabbed me quickly by the arm and dragged me into the other room as I protested with the need of having a talk with those young ladies about real witchcraft and pointing them toward some useful resources.

I realize that all of us were introduced to magick somewhere.  For me, it was the movie, ‘Bell, Book and Candle’  with Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak.  I marveled as she sang over Pyewacket and laughed as she used Jimmy Stewart’s fiance’s fear of thunderstorms against her.  I pondered about a witch not being able to fall in love without losing their powers.  I was doomed….I fell in love at least every other weekend.

I started the research process.  I devoured any book on magick and witchcraft I could find.  When I was a witchling, resources weren’t quite as readily available and to call yourself a witch where I am from was like admitting that you slept with the devil himself….but still I studied.  I spent more time with my grandmother who schooled me in the shamanistic practices of the Cherokee.  She taught me to walk sided by side with Nature and to listen to every word she whispered.  She taught me to draw on the magick that was already inside of me.

Now, I am not going to lie….every day of my life is not full of fireworks and thunder and lightning.  Sparks don’t fly with every wave of my fingers.  I remember the disappointment I felt when I first realized that every moment of every day wasn’t like ‘Bewitched.’  As I sit here, I remember the disappointment I felt when I realized that twitching my nose did nothing but make my nose itch….but I never gave up.

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As I read, I watched a path open up before me.  At first, there seemed to be nothing magickal about it.  It was about visualization, moon phases, elements and intent.  There was nothing about potion making or any of the preconceived ideas that I had about magick swirling around my head.  Whether I realized it or not….I was growing in the Craft.  The path that was ahead of me, didn’t so much sparkle like the gold brick of the yellowbrick road…I couldn’t find that fairy godmother to lead me through…my grandmother was the closest to Endora that I had.  My path in fact seemed to illuminate just every so often as I felt my way through the dark.

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I continued to walk this path that opened before me.  I started to truly understand my relationship with Nature and the elements around me…and then I was introduced to the Gods and Goddesses of this path that was unfolding.  Something inside of me became very much alive.   As I started to relate to the Gods and Goddesses and I began speaking to them and having relationship with them, it was easier to see the magick in my path.  Now, in my own mind and heart, it seemed as if I was being guided…led.  The visualization became easier…the intent became stronger.  It was becoming easier to control myself.  I continued to walk this path….this time keeping  a watchful eye out for anything magickal that might lead me in different directions.2014-11-29 15.48.56

 

I was listening better…hearing things around me and within me.  As I continued to grow in the Craft and learned to rely on my instinct combined with all I had learned and I communed more with the Gods and Goddesses and the elements around me, I realized that magick was not something that we had to work to attain.  It was something already inside of us.  We only had to access it.  It screams out to us on a daily basis…we have become deaf to it.  We have learned to walk through life as robots…pushing down those callings…the yearnings.2014-11-23 12.33.44

 

The quote above is the closest I have come to finding a definition of what magick encompasses to me.  When I started the search for magick, who would have thought that the place it would be found is inside me.  Roald Dahl said it best:

And above all, watch with glittering eyes

The whole world around you,

Because the greatest secrets are always

Hidden in the most unlikely places.

Those who don’t believe in

Magic will never find it.

This morning as I walked to the woods with Friz….with each step, I watched as my breath left my body.  I remembered my Greek classes from college.  With each breath, my mind exhaled the word Pneuma, which means spirit.  I watched as a piece of my spirit danced in front of me.  Magick is more about learning to control ourselves than anything around us.  Our mind can be the one thing that can limit us.  When I am standing in the wind, if I think too much, my mind will tell me, “You can’t do anything with the wind.”  Instead, I have learned to open my mind and dance with that same wind….to call to it and listen to it answer.  Jason Miller said it best.

It is my opinion that a Sorcerer who cannot control his breath is no Sorcerer at all.
There is a reason that in many cultures the word for spirit or energy is also the word for breath.  In Hebrew the word is Ruach, in Tibetan it’s Lung, in Sanskrit it’s Prana, in Greek it’s Pneuma, in Arabic it is Ruh.  Even the word spirit or spiritus means breath in Latin.  The breath is life and is so important that it is treated in some eastern traditions as a mantra in and of itself.  Yet, we pay surprisingly little attention to it.

I sat down among the brown leaves, closed my eyes and listened.  I listened to my own breath. I listened to the heartbeat of the earth mother.  I could feel her calling to me.  “Something new is brewing inside.  Something new is always brewing….it is up to you to heed its call.”   I invoked the Morrigan.  I heard Mama Crow answer.  There is more magick on this path I’m on than anything I could ever see on television.  It isn’t about mastering the nose twitch or throwing potion bottles at other-worldly beings.

What am I to do with it?  Walk this path…this magickal path…and teach.

Blessed Be!2014-11-28 21.42.40

 

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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!

 

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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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

A Solstice Celebration: Fishing, Skinny-Dipping, Lightening Bugs and Skeeters

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Today is the Summer Solstice…the longest day of daylight in the year.  The sun’s energy is very powerful on this day, so when I got up early this morning, I did something I haven’t done in a long, long time.  I went fishing.  Yep…I went fishing all by myself.  I loaded the car with my tackle box, a old cane pole, an old, thin blanket and soda and sandwiches, a can of dirt and worms I dug out of the courtyard, a backpack full of ritual supplies, and I drove up toward the northern part of Georgia.  I haven’t done this in ages…I felt like such a rebel, scooting out of sight before anyone missed me and leaving a note on the table that said simply, “Gone Fishin’.”

It wasn’t long before I reached the property of some friends and I dodged through the old cattle gates.  The only thing missing was my old pickup and being barefoot.  The latter would be remedied soon enough.  I got settled down at the edge of that old pond, rolled up my pant legs, shedded  my shoes, put on my ball cap, baited the hook and dangled it down into the water.  To be honest, I really didn’t care if I caught anything or not…that wasn’t really my purpose for being there.  I was there to worship the sun.  I breathed in all the smells around me…the smell of hay, the water, and yes, the pasture.  I felt the way I imagined a vampire might feel after the first taste of blood after a long famine.

I could feel the sun’s energy pulsing through my body, my veins.  I could feel it combining with the heartbeat of Mama Earth.  As I breathed, my own breaths danced in rhythm with all that was around me.  I felt revitalized in a way I haven’t in a long, long time.  I could feel the sun kissing my face.  The knowing that the Scotch/Irish in me would turn it a glowing red first, then the Cherokee in me would turn it to a glowing copper brown by tomorrow. I watched as the fishing line bobbed in the water.  Nothing was biting…that was fine with me anyway.  I let the remainder of the worms go and let the now empty hook bob up and down.  Hopefully the fish were at least entertained.

As I lay there in the sun, I could feel beads of sweat forming all over me.  I am not a fan of being uncomfortable and the water looked so inviting.  I took off my shirt and looked down at my Buddha-shaped belly and laughed out loud.  Before I realized it, I had shucked my shirt, my pants, and my underwear and was running like a wild man….screaming and laughing as I jumped in the water buck-assed naked.2014-06-21 16.06.04

 

I felt that primal energy of Cernunnos surging through me as I ran and jumped into that cold water…heated by the sun at the surface level only. When I hit, I took a hard breath in as I felt the shock of cold in places that I really had rather not felt it.  After I adjusted to the temperature, I floated backwards, again taking in the rays from the Sun God.  While I floated, my thoughts were everywhere and nowhere all at once.  Words to spells and songs gently caressed my brain.  It was like being a kid all over again…skinny-dipping at the old pond in my grandpa’s pasture with my best friend.  No shame…no fears…just freedom.

I brought myself lazily back onto the shore of that old pond.  I didn’t even bother to put my clothes back on…who was going to see me as far out as I was…the cows that may come venturing up wouldn’t care.  I situated myself back onto the blanket and pulled all of my supplies out of the backpack.  Everything went in its place…the candles, the skulls, the stones.  Today I brought incense with me, and poppets.  I have been making a mojo bag for my roomie…he needs a bit of luck, positivity, and prosperity in his life.  In this blue night sky bag with golden stars, moons and suns…I place a green beeswax poppet.  I had put a hole in the bottom of the poppet and filled it with ground herbs:  Basil, Cinnamon, Ginger, High John the Conquerer and Juniper Berries.  Inside the bag, I also included a male High John Root wrapped in a dollar bill and anointed in a money drawing oil.  I offered these under the sun and asked the sun to bless them.  I added some of his finger nail clippings and hair from his goatee to the bag. (Yes, he knew I was doing all this and why.)

poppet

 

I thanked the sun for the light and energy he provides and packed everything up…and begrudgingly put my clothes on.  I walked back to the car and put everything into the trunk and drove away….exhausted and recharged at the same time.

Tonight, after my partner and I got back from dinner, I felt the need to have another ritual…cleaning, clearing, banishing.  I smudged the house, the courtyard, everywhere I could think that needed smudging.  I worked banishing magick on neighbors who have long since become a nuisance.  I washed the floors with my Four Theives Vinegar.  I used my besom to sweep out any negative energies or feelings and emotions. I put black candles on my altar along with a Nag Champa candle that a friend gave me.  I called on The Morrigan to push those things that were no longer beneficial or needed out of my life and to mold in me the heart of a warrior. I called on Cernunnos to restore in me vitality and strength and to build in me, the heart of the Wild Man.  I lit every candle on that altar and felt the energy build as the flames danced.

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I danced around the altar to the sounds of Omnia’s song “I Don’t Speak Human.”  I was consumed by the heart of the Wild Man and Warrior.  As the energy calmed, I could feel the heartbeat of the Earth Mother weaving her way through the music. I danced out into the courtyard and watched as flurry of lightning bugs seemed to swarm to the music.

As I write this, I am once again listening to “I Don’t Speak Human.”  Sometimes it’s true.  I speak a language as old as the Earth Mother herself.  It communes with the four-leggeds, the winged ones, the elements around me and the Gods, Goddesses and Spirits of the Ancients.

Blessed Solstice, my friends!

Dream It Anyway

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This week, I was disillusioned a bit.  I guess I put the type of expectations on everyone else that I have for myself.  Sure, it disappoints me when others don’t seem to live up to those expectations, but you learn to live with it for the most part.

It has been a while since I have been through the scouting and interviewing process of job-hunting.  I had done everything that I was required to do.  I submitted my resume, got the reply that a phone interview was required, replied with my schedule and availability, and I waited.  I waited while my roommate got a reply to his reply….I waited and watched my roommate sit and wait by the phone at the scheduled time for the interview…I waited while my roommate went on to the gym because an hour and a half past the interview time, no one had called.

My roommate came to me Friday night.  “What’s wrong.” “Nothing.”  “Yes there is.  Are you feeling depressed?”  “No…..well…a little.  How can someone tell you that they are going to do something and then not do it?  So much magick was poured into this.”  “Are you doubting the power of magick?”  “No not at all.  I have no doubt that magick is real….I don’t know what I am questioning.”

My brain was racing…soaring….all over the place.  I went to bed Friday night and dreamed about my childhood.  Dreams and memories overtook every moment of sleep.  I remembered the moment when I found out that the Tooth Fairy wasn’t real.  That didn’t seem so much of a loss, but next came the demise of the Easter Bunny.  This revelation shook me a little more, considering that Easter is one of my favorite times of the year.  But when I was forced to take a good hard look at Santa…..lying comatose in the remnants of fantasy and glitter….it shook me to the core.  It shook me so much that I forced myself to ‘believe’ for two years longer for the ‘sake of my younger brother.’

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Those next two years were horrible for me.  The very foundation of my belief system was shaken.  Doubt replaced certainty.  If none of the magickal beings I had come to trust were real….then was magick, in itself, real?  I spent hours talking to my grandma about all of this.  I asked her how she was still able to hold fast to the legends and stories she was told as a young girl on the reservation.  I asked her how she was able to hold onto the belief in the power of all those spirits that were supposedly around us…especially when she couldn’t see them.  I still hold fast to the words that she spoke to me.  “Just because you can’t see the wind when it’s blowing through those trees…doesn’t make it any less real.  Just because you smell the rain before it gets there…doesn’t mean it isn’t coming.  Just because you can’t hear that tree talking….doesn’t mean it’s not talking.  Sometimes you have to dig deeper inside of you than you ever needed to dig before….just so you can see with your eyes closed.  All your life, people are going to tell you that you can’t do the things you know that you can.  It is your choice as far as what you believe.”2013-10-05 15.40.32

When I woke up this morning, I could feel my dreams still swirling inside my head.  I could hear my grandma’s voice echoing in my ears.  It was almost like having a dream hangover.  As I walked outside with Friz with the New Moon barely showing herself.  I wondered why I believed now as strong as I believe.  I realized that through this job-hunting episode, it wasn’t my belief in magick that was shaken….I think I have just grown even more weary of trying to excuse the bad personality flaws of others.  In any case, my feelings should have never gotten hurt over the fact that I was ‘overlooked.’

Friz and I set out with a mission this morning.  The woods were calling and we had a wand to pour energy into.  I also have a Facebook friend who is dealing with seizures and other medical issues who needs my energy more than that job.

We got into the woods and settled in under a tree.  We saw our little calico friend just a few feet from us.  I called on the spirit of Wolf and Crow.  I have never doubted that they would be there when I called.  My grandma always told me that whenever I needed my helpers, that they would be there.  I laid the wand between the two skulls and blew sage smoke over it.  I called to the Lord and Lady in behalf of the person the wand would be going to and in behalf of the friend battling illness.  It was at that moment that the wind came.  This wind was a familiar one.  My grandma was in this wind.  I smelled gardenia.  Her perfume always carried that heady essence of gardenia.  It pulsed around me, Friz and Beatrice.  Friz recognized this wind too.  He sat as if being told to do so….he licked at the air.  You see, my grandma was the first person he met after meeting me……we went straight to her house after picking him up.  She held him in the crook of her arm the whole time he was there.  She entertained  the kitten with scurrying leaves….my grandma never completely understood a cat.

It shouldn’t have shocked me that she would come to me in the wind.  She loved nothing more than the balmy breezes of summer and the crisp winds of Fall.  I asked her to bless the wand and to pour energy into it.  I talked to her about my friend.  It was as if I could hear her voice in each rustle of the leaves and could feel her quiet but mischievous strength.  I could hear her telling me….”Now remember, belief is all fine and good….you finally got that up under your belt.  Now it’s time to give those beliefs and dreams hands and feet.”  I could feel the kiss of the wind against my forehead as our time came to an end.  No sadness….just the feeling of hope that she always seemed able to leave me with.

Things are going to happen….I, as well as others, am going to screw things up.  Things aren’t always going to go the way I want them.  Dreams change and beliefs shift….but I intend to do the one thing she always told me to do…..”Dream it….Believe it anyway.  Who is gonna stop you?”

A Summer of Frybread and Indian Tacos

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This week, my mind has been racing back fifteen years or so.  I was still involved in the mainline church and a bit thinner then.  The church I was working with decided to do a building mission trip to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.  The reservation is located in North and South Dakota, but our trip was to be in the South Dakota part of it.  My church, at the time was a little unusual.  This trip was not about “winning souls” or “converting the indians” as I have heard many say.  When I say that we went out as a building team….I mean we went out as a building team…to make repairs to the local church and to  build sheds.

We knew a couple of families on the reservation prior to our trip, so we had some familiarity, but at that time, racial tensions were a bit high.    The families that we knew also knew of my heritage and knew that my grandma was full Cherokee.  I didn’t realize how much that would help me until later.   I had experienced reservation life on the North Carolina Cherokee reservation…but I wasn’t quite sure I was prepared for what awaited me.  I was taken on this trip solely for my experience with troubled youth.  I had worked as a Crisis Intervention Director with an alternative school years earlier.  My area of “expertise” in the church was also trouble teens and working with kids with learning disabilities.  I was also on the praise team….where the singing was going to help, I had no clue.

We flew into Minneapolis on a dry summer morning.  I had no clue that we would be driving most of the day in a large white van to reach our destination.  The majority of the team would be staying at a motel just outside the reservation.  Some of us were allowed to stay in homes.  I remember looking at the landscape around me…. so flat and dry compared to the lush green mountains of North Carolina.  As I looked out the windows of the van, I could see fields of sunflowers.  To this day, they remain my favorite.  I looked to the right of us and see a buffalo ranch.  I am in awe of these magnificent beasts.  Giant, powerful beasts….they represented the heart of the Lakota people…once wild and free and now confined behind fences and boundaries.

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We pulled into the church parking lot and were told by the locals that it would be best if everyone would just stay inside the church.  I was told that I could go out with the local family members because I had the blood of the people in me.  We walked through the reservation….along dirt roads and over hills.  The first person we came across was a young girl of eight or so.  She was playing with a litter of pups.  She looked at me and spat out, “Why is he with you?”  The young lady who was accompanying me replied, “How dare you treat him like that!  He has our blood!”  The little girls attitude toward me took on a total transformation.  All of a sudden, it was as if she was my shadow.  In all honesty, I am the whitest looking native you have every seen.  I got every bit of my grandfather’s darker Irish looks and freckles…..the only thing that seems to have been given to me by my grandma is my dark skin in the summer.

I loved being able to visit the houses of the grandmothers and grandfathers and being given the honor of listening to so many stories….stories about when they were children….stories of accomplishment, but never told in a way that might be mistaken for bragging.  My grandmother had told me before I left to always be gracious and honor each person I met.  I was overwhelmed by the honor and graciousness which was shown to me. With each meeting there was always an abundance of laughter, strength and plenty of frybread.   I love frybread with a passion.  I finally had to learn to make the Lakota recipe. Nowadays whenever I feel the need for a bit of “home,” I make frybread. 

The grandmothers and grandfathers loved to hear me sing.  They told me that it soothed them.  There were many times when I would just sit and hum as we worked.  I would look over at one of the grandmothers and see her head tilted to the side with her eyes closed listening to me.  It was then that I was made aware of the magick in music.  I was told constantly that I had a gift…when I opened my mouth and music came forth, it was a calming, soothing sound that spoke to the heart. The last time I was on the phone with my grandma before she died, she asked me to sing her a song. I did.  My hope is that it spoke to her heart that day.

I was introduced early in the summer to one of the grandfathers who was said to have strong medicine.  My grandma told me later that he would have been considered a ‘medicine man’ or spiritual leader.  On our first meeting, he told me that he actually saw very strong medicine in me.  I was very much his shadow for the rest of the summer.  We would climb buttes and roam the prairies….it was very much an awakening of my own spirit.  I was allowed to experience things that I can only describe as a beautiful part of the Great Mystery or Wakan Tanka.  I was shown a people who were still very much an indigenous group…people in whom the wild heart still danced. 

My friend told me many times to be watchful of all things around me…to be watchful like the crow…that may be part of the reason I feel such a kinship with the crow…and also seem to draw crow to myself.  He would spend many hours telling me about the personalities and characteristics of the animals.  Through these stories I fell in love with buffalo, wolf, crow and eagle…..and was shown the cunning of the trickster, coyote.

It was also in this time that I was truly introduced to the medicine of those who had been before me.  We would call this ‘ancestral magic’ now.  I was shown how to pay tribute and honor to those who had gone before…to those whose footprints I walked in.  I was taken to the burial site of Sitting Bull.  I felt unnerved standing so close to history.  I felt humbled knowing what he stood for.  I still try to stop every day to give thanks to my ancestors and those who have walked the road before me.

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My heart is full as I write these words.  Memories overtake me.  I am just as much standing in front of the buffalo that I was allowed to get close to now as I was fifteen years ago.  I can still smell the smell of the reservation around me.  I can still taste the frybread on the back of my tongue.  I can still see the beautiful, beautiful lines in the faces of the grandmothers and grandfathers.  Whenever I hunger too much for those times, I bring out gifts that were given to me….a drum, a pipe, and a flute.  In using those gifts, I am there again…lost in the stories and teachings of one who had strong medicine. 

I try every day to walk ‘the Good Red Road.’  Sometimes I am successful.  Sometimes I fail.  It is in those failures that I have to rely on that strong medicine inside of me.  It is in those moments that I have to separate from the harshness of the city and escape back to where I came from.  It is in those moments that I call on Great Grandfather Spirit and Mother Earth.  It is in those moments that my medicine is strongest.  When I commune with the animal spirits….when I dance in the open with reckless abandon….when I sing to the wind…..That is when I am the most free.

Blessed Be!