Let Freedom Ring

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Blessed Be!

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So When the Moon Tells You Something… Believe It.

2014-06-14 15.19.13Darkness. That’s the first thing I remember. It was dark, it was cold, and I was scared. But then… then I saw the Moon. It was so big, and it was so bright. It seemed to, chase the darkness away. And when it did… I wasn’t scared anymore.

 

Why is it that all secrets seem to be cloaked in darkness.  We feel that secrets protect us when all they do is hurt us in the long run.  This has been a week of ‘Can you keep a secret’s.’  The truth is, no, I can’t.  My face gives me away every time.  If I even try to tell the smallest white lie, I go all red in the face…I giggle like a twelve year old trying to tell a dirty joke, and I try to escape.

I remember when I was a small child, my father had planned a surprise for my mom’s birthday.  Everyone around her was sworn to secrecy.  My mom comes into the room one afternoon as we were making plans and asked what we were doing.  Yes….you guessed it…I sang like a canary.

When I joined the ministry, I was scared to death.  I had heard all of these pastors around talk about ‘pastor/parishioner confidentiality.’  It horrified me.  I did find, however, that it was totally different than telling a lie or keeping a secret.  It was just a matter of not acknowledging the information at all.  Even now, at work, if someone comes up and says, “So you’re gay?  So you’re a witch?”  I just smile and answer with yes…it just saves me the stress of trying to hide it.

I determined very early in my life that I would never give anyone the stress of holding onto my secrets.  I never wanted anyone else to feel that feeling that I would get in the pit of my stomach when someone asked me for information that I had promised to guard.  It was in those early years that I began telling my secrets to the moon.  I could whisper them or yell them, she never ridiculed me and she never told those secrets to anyone.2014-06-04 08.50.15

Lately, I have come to trust others with my secrets.  Now I share those secrets with Wolf and Crow.  Wolf guards them ferociously and Crow takes them high into the sky on her wings and drops them among the clouds.  I am never threatened with them coming back at me at the wrong time.

I remember the hardest secret I ever had to keep.  It came about when I began my first long-term relationship.  I had been dating a wonderful man for about four months and like was turning into love.  He was tall, dark, and handsome…an ex-marine.  When he held me in his strong arms, the world stood still.  He invited me to his apartment for dinner one evening and after we ate, he sat me down on his sofa and said softly, “I need to talk to you about something.”  My heart broke many times in that moment.  I imagined everything from him breaking up with me to him telling me he was moving out of state or re-enlisting.nightmares

He grabbed my hand and told me, “Now you can’t tell anyone.  I am trusting you with my life.  I am HIV positive.”  You have to remember that this was in the days before much was known about the disease and everyone was afraid.  I was just as afraid, but my love for him was stronger than any disease or any fear.

I stayed at his place that night.  After he went to sleep, I opened the french doors to his balcony and walked out into the moonlight.  I called to the moon and I sighed deeply as she appeared before me.  I whispered my troubles and secrets into her ear.  The moon always actively listened and sent her energy to strengthen and to hold me up. She was full that night.

I think it is funny…the things that follow us through our lives.  As much as I leaned on the moon for strength in those years…she has always been there.  Nowadays, she has learned to text…”You OK?”  I text back that I am ok.  Somehow, she always knows when I am not being completely honest.

I have heard some of our friends simply call her ‘the Moon Lady.’  To me, she will always be ‘Maluna’ and to me that will always mean ‘my moon.’  It seems that she has always been there…I have known her in my heart and spirit for as long as I have known the moon herself.  When we talk, it isn’t about secrets…it is about where our energies and magick can better be spent.

Thursday night, I got home late…honestly just in time for the full moon.  I gathered everything with me, except Friz.  He fought valiantly to stay up until I got home, but sleep won that battle. I walked to the woods in silence…almost a feeling of reverence under the moonlight.  I could hear her calling.  We needed to talk.  As I settled into the warmth of the night with my cauldron and candles burning, I could feel her energy soaking into me.  She has always been faithful to me…even when I felt like I was alone.

I have honestly never been alone.  The moon is who called Wolf and Crow to me.  It was under that moon that Friz was dedicated.  It was under that same moon that I made promises to my first partner and also that moon where I made promises to my current partner.  She is an old friend…she is there through every season of the year and through every season of my life.  She is the one who first called me the Weathered Wiseman, and she will be the last one to call me that name.  It is by her that I rest and by her sleep that I awaken.  It is the moon who promised that magick would always encompass and encircle me.

I share that magick with you.  So when the Moon tells you something… believe it.2014-06-14 21.44.57

Run and Hide Your Crazy…

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I heard a phrase on the radio the other day that I haven’t heard since I was a young’un.  I was listening to a country music radio station on the way home from work and a song by Miranda Lambert came on.  The song is called, “Mama’s Broken Heart.”  In the song, Mama tells the girl to ‘Run and hide your crazy and start acting like a lady.’  I laughed out loud because I can remember Mama telling her brothers and sisters that they needed to just ‘run on and hide their crazy.’

It is just so funny to me how things just kind of surface in our lives to give us a ‘heads up,’ so to speak.  Who knew that I would be dealing with bat-shit crazy this week?  Something always seems to be stirring, huh?

Let me preface what I am about to write.  Firstly, I am not Wiccan.  I am not Gardnerian.  I am not a Voudouist.  I am a Witch.  I practice in many different ways.  I employ animism, rootwork, herbalism, spoken and written spells, rituals to God and Goddess, dancing (naked and clothed), naturism, shamanism, and Native American medicine.  I am accountable to a small circle of friends, not a coven.2014-03-26 22.26.35

 

I have had a love of magick (and yes, I spell it with a ‘k’ because I choose to).  I am a part of the universe and the elements and they are all a part of me.  I make no excuses for anything I do in my Path…and I ask for no one’s approval.  As long as I feel the energy of the earth, sky, seas, sun and moon….all is well with the world.

I will also say that I have many friends who walk many different paths….Wicca, Voudou, Gardnerian, Shamanism–so many it is hard to even count.  They walk their paths with integrity, purpose and devotion.

So…you may ask, what brought all this on?  I received a scathing message this afternoon from someone who read my blog.  In this message, I was berated for not having been initiated properly by a High Priestess and Priest.  I was told that my ‘practices’ were essentially for naught because I did not belong to an  authentic tradition, and that I had not fulfilled the ‘year and a day’ requirement.  I was told that my spellwork  and rituals were too simplistic and my blogs too ‘fluffy.’  I was also warned of my association with the ‘dark’ gods and goddesses.

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Did I get angry, you may ask?  No.  Did I send a message back ripping this person from horn to hoof?  No.  Did I hurl a powerful, gut-wrenchingly painful curse or hex at this person?  No.  This person has already made their own bitter, hate-filled, narrow-minded cave to live in.  Just by this persons own divisive way of thinking, they have alienated themselves from such a powerful part of the magickal community.  They will never allow themselves to get to know some of the most creative, lively magick-filled folk ever created.

I do speak a warning to those of you reading this.  Do not discount the power that others hold.  Be warned, lest you fall into the ways of the mainline church.  If we start to behave the way this person did, we will soon be denominationalizing paganism (though I have already seen some leanings).  When we start to get ‘preachy’ about one way being right or wrong, others start to walk around us and avoid us…just like the street envangelist standing on a wooden box at the crosswalk.

My question to you is:  How do you respond when you find out that someone’s path is not like yours?  Are you open to what they believe?  Do you listen intently as they tell their experiences…even though they may not line up with what you were taught or do you stand there with little besoms and flames  darting in your eyes just waiting to tell them how wrong their chosen path is?

I am more than used to being told that I am wrong.  Being gay, I have been told that my ‘lifestyle’ is not natural so many times, I could circle the world with all the little gay rainbow fairies that passed out by the sheer shock.  Being told that something I do is wrong doesn’t even phase me anymore.  If I am wrong, I will be the first one to tell you.

It is not your job to live your life as a dementor.  It is not required for you to suck all of the happiness and joy out of the world.

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If the pagan community were to join energies, despite our differences, just imagine the magick that would encompass this world.  To most of the mundane community, magick has been confined to fairy tales and fiction.  Gods and goddesses have become only mythology and dragons and other magickal beings have been relocated to artwork and toys.

We have the potential to show paganism and witchcraft as honorable and full of integrity.  We have the ability in our very minds and hands to focus intention in ways never dreamed possible.  All we have to do is Learn to Play Nice!!!   2014-03-30 19.45.34The power is right there in your hands!

Blessed Be!

Though the Sorrow May Last Through the Night…

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I have been hated for many things over the years.  I have been hated for things I have done….things I have said….my belief system….who I am.  Through all of the persecution, I have always tried to be the bigger man.  I have always tried to reason with my brain and respond with compassion and love.

For some reason, though, the events that have bombarded the United States and the world over the past few months have drowned my heart in sorrow.  I am referring to the persecution of homosexuals in Uganda and Russia….also this “Turn the Gay Away” bill that seems to be rearing its ugly head in so many states.men-holding-hands-3CROP

I am a tolerant man.  I try to respect and honor all faiths. I try to respect and honor all races.  I try to embrace the differences that make us all individuals and make this world a more interesting place to live.  I try to surround myself with people who have the same kind of heart.

For those of you who don’t know, I served as a pastor for two mainline denominations for over ten years.  In those ten or more years, I was only met with intolerance once.  In that instance, the pastor of the church told me that he suspected me to be gay.  At the time, I was not out of the closet or quite as sure of who I am as I am now.  He told me that I needed to have an HIV test done and have the results submitted to him and his wife.  I had never been so humiliated.  In that moment, I hated myself for who I was and tried to hide anything about me that would give me away.

Fortunately, after that incident, I was hired into a large church in Charlotte.  I was met at the door with open arms and a love for any uniqueness that made me…me.  In time, I became more confident in who I was and more secure in my sexuality.  I remember one day when I went into my lead pastor’s office.  I had requested a meeting so that I might talk to him about my being gay.  He sat thoughtfully in his chair with his glasses perched on the tip of his nose.  I mustered all of my courage and said, “Pastor, I am gay.”  No reaction.  I said, “Pastor, perhaps you didn’t hear me.  I am gay.”  No reaction.  He picked up his bible and started thumbing slowly through it.  All I could think was that I was about to be blasted with scripture.  Instead, he turned to me and smiled.  He said, “Did you grow an extra head or something?”  I said, “No.”  He looked at me and laughed and said, “You are still one of the best pastors I have been blessed enough to serve with.  Now get back to work.”  With that declaration, he pulled me in for a hug, then put his hand on my shoulder and sent me back to my office….feeling more loved than I ever have.

There was a song we did in that church….the lyrics still come to my mind as I type:

I’m trading my sorrow
I’m trading my shame
I’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord

I’m trading my sickness
I’m trading my pain
I’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord

[Chorus:]
And we say yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord
Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord
Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord Amen

I’m pressed but not crushed persecuted not abandoned
Struck down but not destroyed
I’m blessed beyond the curse for his promise will endure
And his joy’s gonna be my strength

Though the sorrow may last for the night
His joy comes with the morning

Thinking of these lyrics today reminded me….it is only in squeezing or crushing the grape, that the sweetness of the juice is released.

I know that there are those out there who would call themselves Christian who would rather spew out hate and vitriol than take the teachings of the biblical Christ to heart.  My days in the church were not spent studying a Christ who belittled and hated.  I spent hours in my office composing sermons of a Christ who sat and ate and drank with tax collectors and prostitutes (the vilest of the vile in his day).  I became acquainted with a Christ who, when told that a woman was caught in an act of sin and should be stoned, looked down at the ground and said, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”  He then looked at the woman with compassion and asked, “Where are your accusers?” She said, “There are none.” “Neither do I condemn you…go and sin no more.”004-jesus-washes-feet

My fondest memory of this Christ who receives the blame for so much of the hatred that spews from man….is the Christ who spent the night before his death washing the feet of his disciples.  He knew that one of them would betray him that very night….but he chose to take on the role of servant.  And again, I studied of this Christ….the one whom people blame for their right to picket soldiers funerals, and burn the sin out of people…this Christ returned from the grave to offer those who had denied him and spat on him and killed him, another chance for redemption.

So, if I have all of these wonderful memories of the church…all these wonderful remnants of who Christ was, buried inside me, why did I become a witch?  Because Christianity, to me, was limiting.  Why limit myself to one god….even if he was a three in one.  Gods and Goddesses encompass so much more than we are willing to give them credit for.  Humanity has always wanted to keep that which we don’t understand confined….if you don’t believe this, go to a zoo.

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My trip to the woods this morning was a heavy-hearted trip.  As Friz and I settled in, Friz could tell there was something different about my spirit.  He quietly licked my face. He nuzzled me…he stayed close by.  I called on the elements, the directions…and this time I did not stop at the Lord and Lady I normally call upon.  I called upon the Christ that I had been acquainted with years ago.  We chatted about those who are using his name to hurt and harm and hate.  We also chatted about those followers of his who actually “get it.”

It doesn’t matter what faith you pursue or what you believe….there is never a place for hatred.  Hatred only destroys.  It turns the hater into a predator whose thirst for blood can never be sated.  It turns those who are hated into prey…constantly pursued and never able to rest.

As I lay back onto the earth this morning, I saw Mama Crow perched in the trees above.  She has only ever asked one thing of me….”Be true to myself.”  I have not been able to hide who I am in years, and I do not intend to start now.

I will stand tall with my sword at the ready…not fighting for the sake of the fight, but so that change may actually be affected.  I will love stronger than I have ever loved, and with every swing of the sword, I shall breathe compassion and healing over any who become part of the battle.  I will never go back into hiding. Witch or gay, my true self will always shine through.

As I lay there this morning, feeling Mother Earth pouring her magick into me and the Wild Man of the Woods pouring his stamina into  me,  I looked to my side to see a grouping of daffodils…not yet bloomed, but the color of yellow just barely peeking through.2014-02-22 15.13.15

Though the sorrow may last for the night
Joy comes with the morning!

Blessed Be!

Through the Storms

tornado-and-lightning1It seems over the past month or even longer that I have watched folks go through some severely trying times in their lives.  I have seen normally strong people seem to crumple over in exhaustion as they fight….and I mean really fight through life lately.   I have watched as their support systems…their witchy family and friends, rally around them…pushing them, holding them up, holding up their arms when they don’t seem to have the strength to even bear a wand.  Then again, I have also seen those out there who are quick to judge…waiting like a spider who watches as a fly ensnares itself into its web…only to devour the weakening creature hours later.images (1)

I try to be a person who follows after that first example.  I try to send strength and healing to those who need it and I try to avoid those who follow that second example.  Life is hard enough folks.  We don’t need people in our lives who aren’t going to breathe healing and strength back into us.

I am very particular who I allow into my “circle.”  I only need those who see me for who I truly am and are ok with that.  I have never felt a need to have to prove anything to anyone or have to jump through hoops for friendships.  I have also never felt the need to be around drama mongers.  As I have said before, life is hard enough…..why try to create more crap to wade through?

Something I remember from growing up on the farm was that we were not supposed to walk in the cow pies that were splatted in the pasture.  My brother and I, always being model children, made it a point to walk through the pasture as  much as possible.  We loved to play a game we made up called ‘Dodge the Pile.’  We would run around the cow pies laughing and yelling at the top of our lungs.  We would inevitably lose our balance and step in a pile.  We didn’t mind it so much….it was warm and squishy between our toes.  It wasn’t as bad as mama made it out to be…..until one of us pushed the other and we landed face first in one of those big old piles of poop.  Where we had originally seen our little game as fun….we forgot one thing in the midst of it….it was still crap.

CowPie-JeffVanugaI think today, many of us have become adept at dodging the piles.  We go through life dealing with the issues that don’t seem to be so much of a bother.  Then there are those times when we get blind-sided and fall face first into what may have seemed small to begin with….but the more we wrestle through it, we realize that it is just pure unadulterated crap.  By this time, we are typically up to our necks, swimming in the aroma and we become afraid to ask for help.

As I said earlier, I learned very quickly who I can go to in times like these.  There are always those people who are quick to say, “Tell me all about it.  You can trust me.”  Then they run and tell everyone you didn’t need to know.  “Can you believe that poor So-and-So is having to deal with this?  It must be Karma.”  “So-and-So is having such a time of it lately.  He must not be holding his tongue right when he is casting.”  These are the people who need to be cut off like dead branches from a tree.  They suck the life out of those around them with their wagging tongues and false concern.

DSCN0625I want to be the type of person that someone can come to, tell me what they are dealing with (if they choose to), and know beyond knowing that when I say that I am sending healing or strength….that is exactly what I am doing.  I want them to know that I am surrounding them in all  the power and healing and love that I  can conjure.  I want them to know that when I whisper their names to the Goddess….that I am surrounding them in so much love that nothing else dare try to penetrate it.

When I was working in the church, too many times I heard the phrase, ‘Christians shoot their own wounded.’  That phrase is not exclusive to Christians.  I think that the premise behind that comes from the fact that if we can draw attention away from ourselves and to something or someone more vulnerable, then we can create a safe place for ourselves.  Not true.  Eventually, what we were trying to cover up in the beginning is going to shine so brightly in the moonlight and show itself to those who were never really fooled in the first place.  Those around us aren’t really as naive as we think they are.

This morning was a glorious morning for a trip to the pond and the woods.  It seemed as though I had been away from them for far too long.  I roused that little blue chihuahua way too early, it had seemed.  He yawned and stretched as he slowly came out of his kennel.  It wasn’t long before everything was packed up in my backpack and we were ready for our little jaunt.  When we walked out into the courtyard…there was that glorious briskness that only fall can bring.  Friz’  nose was already in the air experiencing the smells of fall all around us.  I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply.  I could feel rejuvenation rushing through every fiber of my being as I took in the crispness that was greeting me.

We stopped by the pond first.  So much healing and strength was needed for so many.  Friz and I lay on our bellies on the bank with our noses pointed toward the water.  He always seems to be so alert when I do things with the water.  He watched me as I whispered the names of those with needs.  As I whispered, I touched my finger to the water and caused ripples.  Each time the water moved, Friz would let out a quiet, “Buf.”  It was almost as if it was his way of adding his voice to mine.  We lay there for a bit…then I rolled over and he crawled on my stomach….he knew there was more to do.

We walked toward the woods.  He danced as we left the sidewalk and started on that familiar path.  As we left the sidewalk, there was a familiar little calico on our heels. Friz licked her across the head and she grimaced…but only for a second.  We settled in the midst of our tree friends and I arranged the skulls of wolf and crow.  I put the candles in the middle, lit them and made our circle.  I called on the Morrigan.  Those who I know are dealing with issues need strength and the power for battle to be sent to them.  None of these people are weak by any means…..but when dealing with things that blindside you…you always need more battle-sense and endurance.

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In the midst of those battles, you need people who are willing to encircle you….form a human shield….and help to eliminate anything extra that would try to weaken you.  You need people who are willing to say, “You aren’t crazy and you aren’t weak….you are tired and fatigued.  That is why I am here.  I am going to help you hold that sword or that wand.”

We finished our time in the woods and as I thanked the elements and the Lord and Lady and the directions…I packed everything away and listened as Friz played with the kitten.  I looked up to see them wrestling and as I shuffled, they stopped mid wrestle and stared at me.  We began the short journey back home….dropping off the little calico squirt with her mom first. (Mom just stands at her gate and waits for us now).  Friz and I walked the rest of the way to our courtyard…we opened the door to the condo and Friz bounded toward the sofa.  We both collapsed into one big snoring heap and rested…..completely rested.

Blessed Be!

 

When the Past Comes Calling…

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This week was a very tiring week. There has become so much to do at work. I feel as though I am trying to cram two weeks into one. It has become the practice of the management to continue to add more and more duties to the ones that already exist for me. Of course, when I become overtired, that is an opportunity for things to surface in my life….most of the time, things that require working through.

On Tuesday, on the way to work, thoughts came racing to my mind from a good twenty five years ago….a time when I wasn’t so confident in the person I was….a time when the very essence of who I was needed, in my opinion to be kept secret. I was serving a church in the foothills of North Carolina. I was full time there as a project coordinator and part time in the local funeral home. I was struggling with what the church said God required of me and what my insides were telling me. I was living with one foot in the church and one foot in the gay community. I tried to live the way the congregation expected me to, but I felt like there was a constant war being fought in my heart and in my spirit. I remembered my last day at that church. I remember the accusations being hurled at me….the words spat at me in anger. The requirements made of me by someone completely ignorant of who I was or what my heart held.

I remember the pastor’s wife coming into the office that I was being sequestered in. She looked at me scowling. She roared at me, “You are a homosexual!!! You have AIDS!” I will never forget that punch in my gut…the sick, I’m-gonna-puke feeling. I was forced and driven to the local health department and made to take an HIV test. As I look back on this now, there are so many things I should have said and done, but I was a scared 22 year old kid. I did well to even remember my name in all that ruckus. This one incident effected the rest of my life.

I was required to take a mandatory leave of absence from another organization I worked with until I “worked through my transgressions.” I had to report to elders each week like someone in prison reports to a parole officer. I had to walk past faces filled with disdain and hatred as I walked past congregation after congregation….”working” my way back into the good graces of the church. To this day, that is why I hate to hear the phrase, “We need to talk about something.” and why I hate someone looking down their nose at me. It still haunts me…and this past week was one of those times.

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Throughout this past week, I have also been struggling with the need for “me” time. It seems that lately there has been no respite from anything. I escape to the woods and the pond as much as I can…but the mosquitoes are now getting fat. At home, my partner takes over our bedroom, the roomie has his bedroom, the living room is common area….sometimes I just take my phone, notebook and a pen and I sit in the bathroom floor for an hour, just for a bit of peace.

Yesterday morning, though, I knew that I was going to have some time to myself. I got up extra early and suited up my partner in crime. Friz wasn’t quite wide awake yet and wasn’t too keen on coming out of the kennel. After much coaxing, he finally stretched his way out, I harnessed him up and we disappeared to the woods. There was no ritual this time…no purposeful seeking out. I wound up my cloak and put it under my head…Friz curled up in the middle of my stomach and we slept. This was by far the weirdest sleep I had ever had. I dreamed constantly of the church scenario that I described above. Each time I would close my eyes and dream, it felt as if a tiny piece of my spirit and my heart was being ripped and shredded.

I lay there for what seemed like hours and tried to make my mind obey me…to stop re-living something that was no longer a part of me. At that point I heard Mama Crow caw loudly. It snagged me away from that horrible memory and jolted me back to present. It was a loud, harsh caw….I look back on it now and realize that it was a call to magick. She was reminding me to take control of a situation and not let something so far away control my todays. It was time to take the person I have become and let that person battle the person I used to be. I created a scenario in my head of what I thought I should have done to respond to that situation and as I drifted back to sleep, I let that person take over the dream….who would have ever thought that one could reclaim a memory so easily and work it out for my benefit.

After I had reclaimed that memory, I scooped Friz up and we made our way to the pond. He yawned as I cradled him and we moved toward the water. We both sat closer to the water than we normally did. I got a stick from nearby and wrote in the water with the stick. I wrote all the negative things about myself that had been brought to mind this week…..all those horrible memories. When I finished writing, I took a nearby rock and threw it into the middle of where I had been writing. I watched as the ripples dissolved all those memories I had written in the water. Then I took the stick and wrote words in the dirt that described who I am now…who I have become over the course of the practice of the Craft. I smiled as the letters took form…..Strong…Outspoken…Wise…Dependable…Gay…Role Model. It took a long time for me to love the me I have become, but I am proud of the person I look at every morning. There is no need for me to let small minded criticisms from far too long ago take root.

I have decided that from now on, when the past comes calling, and it isn’t something that I want to visit with…a locked door can be my best ally. Why let the past take pieces of my spirit…..when it really isn’t worth the memory wasted on it.

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Blessed Be!

The Healing Stick

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Over the past couple of weeks, I have been working on something that I have wanted for a long, long time. I have been stripping and sanding and smoothing my own staff…..an honest to goodness sorcerer’s staff. Not unlike Gandalf’s staff in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy but also completely unique…encompassing those things that I love about the Craft and my magickal life.

The wood is the vine called ‘Tree of Heaven.’ You can see these vines on pretty much anything that will stand still in the south….but the twists and turns of the wood show so much movement on something so stationary. The staff will be topped with a crow’s skull and wrapped at the top with humanely harvested wolf’s fur with crow feathers hanging from the top. Embedded in the wood will be stones of Merlinite, Moonstone, and Dragon’s Breath. I will engrave sigils and runes on the staff and stain it with a red mahogany stain.2013-06-09 14.48.42 HDR

Working on this staff has been a wonderful refreshing time for me. My grandma had always taught me that the best way to get bark off of a branch or piece of wood was with a ‘tater’ peeler. I remember the first strips of bark I watched slide off the staff and on to the ground…..it came off like butter..so easy and so quick. Then I did the next thing my grandma taught me. Put the wood in a dry, even temperatured place for a couple of days to dry a bit. This is so the layer of orange-ish bark will show itself and then that layer can be taken off. I sat on the stoop outside of the condo. This time the stripping was a little more involved and meticulous. I used the ‘tater’ peeler and carefully and slowly began to remove the orange colored stripes that had come to light with the drying process.

As I sat there and worked, my partner opened the door and he came out into the courtyard with the dogs. He sat down beside me and the dogs were lying there on the cool patio as I smoothed out the wood under my hand. As we talked, he asked me what the staff was for and why I had wanted to make it. I explained everything to him and he listened intently. We talked about the meanings of everything that would be included on the staff. He ran his hand along the vine amazed that it was becoming so smooth. We talked about our relationship….and I opened up and told him that I felt like I was becoming more and more callous as I grow older. I told him that sometimes I feel like my heart is frozen…almost unfeeling at times. He looked me in the eyes and quietly told me that he understood…it was time to take the dogs to potty and then back inside. As he stood up, he leaned in and kissed my cheek. “Do you love me?” “Oh honey, I love you so much!”…then he walked out the gate with the dogs. I sighed quietly to myself and continued to work.

I got to a stopping point on the staff and decided to put it in the utility room until the next time I worked on it. I sat down on the couch with a book and started to read. My partner came over to me and kissed me on the cheek. “Do you love me?” “Yes honey, I love you more than anything.”…then he headed to the bedroom.

I finished the chapter I was reading and decided to head to bed. I leaned over to kiss him goodnight. “Do you love me?” “Honey, you know I do. Why do you keep asking?” “Because I know that you love me…..you just need to realize that the heart inside you is a good heart….one full of an infinite amount of love….a heart that is capable of anything you can imagine. It hasn’t become hard or unfeeling….it just gets tired and stressed sometimes.” I rolled over quietly. My mind was going hundreds of miles an hour.

As I rolled over onto my side, my mind raced back to my days in the church. My partner had reminded me of a sermon I had given years and years and years ago. I have always held the thought that we can learn something from all faiths. I watched myself in my mind standing behind the pulpit. I was delivering a sermon based on the scripture where Jesus had been resurrected and was talking to Peter. “Do you love me?” “Yes, Lord, I love you.” “Feed my sheep.” “Peter, do you love me?” “Yes, my Lord, I love you.” “Feed my sheep.” He asked him a third time, “Peter, do you love me?” “Lord, you know all things. You know that I love you.” “Feed my lambs.” In these verses, Jesus did not ask Peter if he loved him so that Peter might feel shame…or that Peter might think that Jesus questioned his love. Jesus asked these questions of Peter for Peter’s sake. Jesus did not want to condemn Peter….Jesus wanted Peter to get a glimpse of his own heart. It wasn’t Jesus who questioned Peter’s love….it was Peter. It wasn’t Jesus who thought Peter had failed…it was Peter.

As a Pagan…a witch….I think we feel that others are always passing judgement on us. Most of the time, we are the ones who question our own hearts and motives most harshly. If a spell or energy working doesn’t go the direction we think it should, there must be something wrong with us…..we don’t take into consideration that the universe works in ways that we may never get to see.

I have determined that I am my own worst enemy. I will never have to worry about the proverbial Dorothy dropping a house on me…I will have already stood under a condo, a house, an office park waiting for the worst to happen.

I have lived a full life….that life includes hurt, betrayal, confusion and the death of dreams. There is still so much love that radiates from that stringy little organ inside my body. I feel that love every time I sit in the courtyard under the moonlight with a friend who is hundreds of miles away physically. I really don’t have the time or the energy anymore to concentrate on who hurt me when…or who all has ever betrayed me. Those are the things that harden the heart.

What is it that brings healing? Sitting on the stoop in the courtyard barefooted, feeling the shavings hit my feet as I whittle and carve on a stick….a stick that can help facilitate a lot of healing….a stick that prompts conversation and thought…a stick that may mean nothing to anyone but me….but it is my healing stick.

Blessed Be!