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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A Walk in the Woods

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This week’s blog was written by a friend whom I have come to deeply trust over the years.  He has become more of a brother to me than just a friend.  We have grown together in the Craft and I have watched him delve into Shamanism with a passion and hunger that can’t  be matched.  His talent with the tarot is amazing and his readings have always been on point.  Sit back and take a walk into the wooded world of my dear friend, Owl Sundown.

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This evening the woods are quiet. The rain earlier in the day, followed by the chilly air, has put a blanket of silence throughout the trees. All I can hear is the leaves crunching under my boots and the wind in the tree branches. I’m thankful for the chill in the air. It means winter is coming.

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I make my way through the path only I and the deer know about. I see my grove up ahead. It’s a small area of trees by the creek that form a natural circle and is hidden from view from most directions by thorn bushes and the honey locust trees.

I walk around to the other side of the trees, carefully picking my way through the thorny branches, finding the small path into the circle. This is MY place.

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I can feel the earth’s power radiating from the ground as I walk among the rocks I’ve placed as direction stones. I make my way to the center and close my eyes. I take deep breaths and smell the scents of the forest. I sit and feel the dirt in my fingers. Before long I sense THEM. Oh yes, they have made themselves known to me over the past 6 years.

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The spirits of place, the fae, nature spirits. They go by so many names but I just call them THEM. Before long I sense them move among my circle. They know that I honor them in this place. I have taken measures to make sure they are respected and honored in these woods. And in return they help and guide me. After communing with the Earth and them I leave honey, nuts, and bird seed among the stones and ruefully make my way back to civilization. Oh if I could just stay!

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 Most of us who walk a pagan path honor the Earth. Some of us honor the Goddess and the God. We may even honor animal spirits and totems. But I think we often fail to connect with the land where we live.

The land I live on has been in my family for over 75 years. I have lived on it for 25 and visited it for ten before that. And yet even when I embraced this way of life it was a few years before I really connected with the place where I lived. I constantly found myself daydreaming of Ireland, Scotland, England, and other amazing places and yet I was failing to see the magic in my own backyard.

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One day while I was walking through one of the paths on the back of the property (over 300 acres) I kept seeing something out of the corner of my eye. I thought maybe it was a deer or a bird flying between the trees. I kept walking and kept seeing it. I never could see it straight on but always from the corner of my eye. I felt like I was being watched. So, being the novice witch I was, I decided to call it in. I think I heard it laugh. Ha!

It wasn’t until a few months later that they made themselves known to me. Sometimes I see shadows, other times I see actual human-like figures, other times it’s just spirits. But they are there and they respect me as I respect them. It’s balance and give and take.

Now, by no means do I claim to know everything about these amazing people. This is just my experience and walking this path is definitely subjective. I usually turn and run if someone tells me, “It has to be this way!” No mam, it doesn’t. It’s how the Goddess, God, Great Spirit, Fae, Sprits of the Land, or whatever else comes to us and shows us.

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So here are some things that have helped me in my walk that allows me to commune with the spirits of the place.

1. Mindfulness of the land. Take initiative to take care of the Earth where you live. Pick up trash, plant flowers, help in whatever way you can.

2. Go out there, sit down, and just BE. If it’s in your apartment courtyard, your front yard, or even the potted plants on your patio. Put your hands in the dirt and allow yourself to just BE one with it.

3. Don’t force it. You will never know the spirit world by forcing yourself among it. Be respectful and let it happen in time.

4. Leave food and other things for the animals. Nuts, seeds, honey. Anything that they might like.

5. Fill your mind and spirit with the stories and myths of the area you live in. I live in an area that was populated by Cherokee and Choctaw tribes. Then my great grandmother and great aunt with their “old religion” from Ireland came and put there magic here as well. I fill my soul with the stories of those people. Give your mind and spirit something to draw upon as you continue to grow in magic.

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There is nothing more rewarding to me than spending time in my woods with “my people”. It is my hope that as winter comes on, wherever you may be, that you will find time to get quiet as the Earth goes quiet and touch the Otherworld. May you be blessed always.

Owl Sundown

The Scent of Wild Air

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Yesterday morning was an early morning for me.  My partner has been working all weekend, so to be nice…I volunteered to get the dogs up, feed, and walk them by myself.  I was pretty much still halfway asleep through the process, but as I finished walking Bella (who always takes the longest), I walked over to the pot where my mandrake root is planted.  This plant has been hidden for the whole summer.  They don’t tend to like the horrendously hot summer days that Georgia is known for.  When I looked down into the pot, I saw three tiny little green leaves.  My four year old mandrake root was showing itself!  I hurried inside to drop off my canine bundle and rushed back out to the courtyard.  I knew for a fact that if my mandrake was surfacing, that cooler weather was on its way.

I heard the french doors creak open and looked up to see my partner sleepily pushing Friz out the door with a “He was whining to come out.”  I picked Friz up and we slowly made our way around the property.  Friz lifted his head into the air and sniffed repeatedly.  “You smell it too, don’t you?”  Just every fleeting so often, you could feel and smell coolness right in front of you.  I could feel myself shiver at the prospect of brisk air, breezes, and jackets.

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My heart skipped a beat as we walked over to where the pond used to be and I saw a partially yellow leaf lying in the grass.  I know that most look at fall as a time when things die, but to me it has always signified new beginnings.  I use this time as a chance to clean house.  I clean out the closets and anything that hasn’t been touched or used in a year either goes to Goodwill or some other charity.  I even do this with the animals things.  The local shelters are always in need of something.

Autumn is always the time of year that seems to bring out the pup in Friz.  He becomes more playful, more active.  He runs through the house and patio like a wild man…but then again, fall tends to do that same thing to me.  In autumn, I crave time outside.  On weekends, I am typically outside from before the sun rises to well after it sets.  If I could, I would sleep outside every night and use the stars and moon as my nightlight.  Autumn stirs something in me.  That is when my magick feels strongest.

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With the seasons moving toward fall, I feel closer to nature and all the things it encompasses.  When I walk past the trees, it is as if I can hear them singing in preparation of shedding what they have carried through the first part of the year.  Like me, they are anxious to release the things that they have carried through the first part of the year.  It is almost as if you can hear them sigh in relief as they slowly start to release their leaves and then as if they are too tired to hold them one more moment, they purge themselves of the remaining leaves so that they too might feel the freedom and simplicity of being burdened no more.

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When Friz and I got back into the house yesterday morning, I felt that ‘hibernation’ mode start to wash over me. I pulled the ottoman in front of my big chair, pulled a couple of cookbooks and my coffee over toward me, grabbed a blanket and nestled in with Friz.  We read for a bit, and then drifted off into dreams of colored leaves and brisk breezes.

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Autumn is my time for reading and pouring myself into every kind of book imaginable.  I read everything from books on the Craft, to cookbooks, to fiction, to magazines, to seed catalogs for Spring.  I pull even more into myself and relish the simplicity of everything around me.  It is my time to keep things simple.  Life is far too complicated already.  Fall is a time of comfort food and warm drinks.  It is nesting time for humans.  We spend Spring and Summer going non-stop.  Fall and Winter are the seasons of reflection, introspection, and clearing out the cobwebs that the rest of the year leaves behind.

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As we approach Autumn, I envision the Fae hunting and gathering for the upcoming weather changes and make sure to leave extras in the courtyard.  I add small pieces of flannel that I have cut up for them to use as blankets, matches, milk, bread…anything that they might need for their own comfort.  In my mind, I see them curled up in their own version of a comfy chair reading or sewing with an acorn cap full of warmed milk and a toasted piece of my homemade bread.

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When I walked Friz this evening, I was jarred back into reality.  I felt that balmy late summer breeze lick at my skin and I smelled one of the neighbors grilling out.  As we walked through the haze of hamburger and hotdog smoke, I closed my eyes to try to get back that feeling I had yesterday but try as I might, I was hurled back into late summer.  The little mandrake is holding its own, waiting for the cooler temperatures right around the corner…with each new leaf sprouting, hope for Fall.

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As we walked back toward the condo and my mind is racing toward work tomorrow and all of the challenges it will bring, I take a deep breath.  I can already taste small amounts of stress starting to surface.  I have to be reminded that I have to keep my life simple.  Worrying about things won’t add one more minute to my life.  I watch Mama Crow on the sidewalk fighting with the remains of a cicada.  I laugh out loud.  As Friz and I go through the french doors into the house, I hear my cuckoo clock in the back bedroom.  For some reason, it reminds me to take a deeper breath and not be so serious….and to always smell the breez for that hint of wild air.

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Embracing the Shadows

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Growing up, I was such a skittish child.  Everything that you could think of scared me.  I was scared of the dark…I was scared of unknown places…I was scared of pretty much everything that I love and embrace now.

This week, I stepped into a place that I haven’t been in a long, long while.  I stepped into my darker self.  That place where all the things that I don’t like about myself reside.  It is a place much like the pensieve that Dumbledore has in his office in the movie, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”  It is that place where I put the thoughts and feelings that tend to crowd my mind…the things that ‘don’t fit’ what everyone expects me to be.  That is where most of my anger and hurt and confusion and melancholy go.  After all, witchcraft is all about love and light, right?

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I have found that witchcraft in many ways is exactly like the churches I left behind so many years ago.  We have tried so hard to keep from being a ‘traditional’ religion, that we adopt all of the practices and symptoms.  We are so embracing, but we are the first to ridicule Christian holidays and the meanings that they have placed behind them.  Unfortunately, that move from tradition means that we expect everything around us to sparkle and gleam…..clean of all the sediment that life can throw at us.

The fact that a lot of this week was overcast and drizzly may have contributed to my ‘darker’ side coming to surface.  In describing what I have felt, I like the term that I heard a friend use a few years ago…he described it as his “shadow self.”  In looking at it, that is a more accurate description.  It isn’t dark or evil, it is just that part of myself that I am not completely comfortable sharing or seeing.  It is that part of us that is hidden away until it becomes too restless to hide anymore.  It is that annoying relative that comes bursting through the door during holidays who doesn’t really fit the family dynamic.  The fear of the ‘shadow self’ comes from being afraid that we will see who we really are…or a part of us we never wanted to see to begin with.catwolf-shdw

It is in these moments that I must access the Morrigan.  It is in those moments, more than any, that I need the strength for the journey…that need for change. It is in those moments that I have to remember that the shadows aren’t bad or evil….the shadows are just those parts of me that I have become uncomfortable with…that don’t fit with my everyday life.  It is in those times that I go into myself.  It is in those times that I have learned to access the shadows to create…to make the tools for the Craft that I need and that I feel others may need.

It seems that in those moments, I hear wolf clearer than any of my spirit guides.  I hear his low howl moving higher….addressing that brooding, melancholy part of my spirit.  It is also in these times that things come to me when needed.  I have a friend who constantly forages the woods around her.  She constantly finds animal bones and parts…..and she knows that I call on those spirits, so anytime she finds anything related to wolf, she sends it to me.  I bless the bones or fur just in case the animal met with a violent end…sending it peacefully into the summerlands.

I have been wanting an athame for a long, long time, but could never find one that suited me.  Last week in the mail, I received two beautiful wolf femurs and some fur.  I have decided to use these to make my own athame.  She also sent me the toe bones.  I will use those to create runes.  It is honoring the dead animal and pulling on that energy that I have felt all last week, plus it is becoming a tool for the Craft that I love so much.

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As I walked to the woods this morning, I could hear Mama Crow behind me.  I have learned that where one goes, the other always follows.  Friz has gotten used to her.  Her loud caws don’t even rattle him anymore.  As we got closer to the woods, I have to admit that a part of me looked around to see if the Green Wizard had shown up, but there was another part of me that knew we would not see each other today.

I settled into the damp shaded area of the woods that I always went to.  I could smell the wet, mildewed and rotting smell of leaves left from the fall.  I settled in and pulled the skulls from my backpack along with candles and herbs and stones.  As I lit the candles and welcomed the elements and spirits, I could feel my shadow self lurking behind me….always pacing at the edges of everything…never fully becoming a part.  I invited that part of myself into the circle.  It was in that moment that I was overtaken with every emotion it represented.  Instead of fighting to confine that piece of me….the darker parts of me, I found that those parts were just as powerful and just as necessary as the ‘love and light’ part of me.  I found that just as with intention, that it is all in the direction….it is all in the movement and force that you give your shadow self.  I won’t allow that part of me to rule me, but it isn’t fair to try and put it away so I don’t have to deal with it either.  It can actually be a valuable asset in energy work and other magick.  Power/Magick/Energy is only dangerous when the heart of the user is not seeking the betterment of those things around him or her.

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I had a dream Friday night.  In that dream, my whole family shared a large Victorian house.  The house was an ancestral home. In the dream, my mom and aunt were witches too.  We were guarding the home against some force.  I had taken Friz (the chihuahua) and Bella (the dachshund) and the cats, along with Bella’s puppies (she is spayed) into a room, and magickally sealed the room with a protective charm.  My aunt put all the family (including my partner) into a room and sealed it with a protective ice spell.  My aunt, my mom and me were the only ones left to guard the house. We had a tower of green ancestral candles  in the main room.  Ma sat on the sofa, my aunt was by the fireplace and I was by the door.  A tornado-like force came at the house.  It was my grandma (who is dead) flying in through the fireplace.  She told us that we needed to be prepared, strong and ready to fight for all that we knew was true.  Ma summoned all the fae around the house and told them to go outside and stand guard.  We all took our stations and with hands raised, we pushed and shielded against something akin to a hurricane.  I remember vividly feeling the sweat form on my forehead.  As we pushed forward we could feel the force weaken.  We gave one final push and felt the force break.  We looked around and could see that we were all disheveled, but knew that victory had been won.

Victory is always ahead…..it is in accessing every part of ourselves and knowing to continue to push.

Blessed Be!

The Heart Beats Stronger in Springtime…

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I am sitting in the courtyard this afternoon with a glass of Chardonnay in my hand.  I have soft jazz music playing in the background as the soft cool breeze caresses the prickles of hair on my head.  It is afternoons like this one that make me miss my family most.

I remember many an afternoon like this one…seventy degrees, breezy, the smell of flowers attempting to bloom for the first time.  My whole family would gather in the backyard by the pasture and mama would make sweet tea.  We must have emptied gallons of that syrupy strong brew as we rocked back and forth on the porch swing solving all of life’s problems.  In many ways, life in that small town in North Carolina was very much like the Mayberry  that Andy Griffith made famous.  singalongs-porch-andygriffithshow-secretsofabelle

We would sit there, guitar in hand…each member of the family adding their own harmony to one of the old songs as the bass-string strum provided the background music.  The dogs would run through the pasture playing chase with the younger ones or with each other.  It was in that place that the world couldn’t touch us.  It was there that we didn’t care how much money we didn’t have or what we couldn’t afford.  It was in that place that my granny used to say that she could hear the grass, trees and sky singing at the top of their lungs.  Most of the ones who shared those front porch moments with me are gone now, but I can’t help but think that they are a part of the symphony I hear as I am captivated by the concert that only nature can give.

I have spent much of today out cleaning the winter debris from the courtyard…uncapping the pots from their toppings of leaves and old mulch.  It is much like unwrapping a present.  I get so excited to see the small shoots coming from my hostas, and the spindly little purple leaves from the spiderwort are already showing themselves.  Even as near that half a century mark, I am still amazed at all the work that the Earth Mother still does in her sleep state.

This morning as Friz and I ventured toward the woods, the sun was already wide awake to greet us.  I love watching that little blue chihuahua as the sun rays bathe his back.  He stretches into it….just like he would if he were being rubbed from head to toe.  This morning, he stretched his little face to the sun with his eyes closed and his teeth showing, almost like he was smiling.  You could almost hear him telling the sun that he missed him and was glad to see him back.  He walked over to one of the bunches of daffodils blooming by our neighbors door….just as I thought he was leaning in for a sniff, he raised his little leg and peed in them.2014-03-02 14.48.08

We took our time getting to the woods this morning.  We spent the extra moments admiring the blooming tulip trees and weeping cherry trees.  It has always been mesmerizing to me that, in Georgia, spring seems to come overnight.  One week it is brutally cold, then the next week we are in the seventies with flowers and trees blooming all around.

Last night was spent with the New Moon.  Even though much has happened over the past month, there are even more new beginnings looming in the horizon.  For the first time in a long long time, I feel as if things are coming together for me.  I am seeing more than the light at the end of the tunnel….I am seeing the smoke clear and the magick is now more vivid.  Not only am I seeing spells taking shape quicker…I am also seeing prayers and whispers that I have only shared with the wind coming to fruition.

This mornings workings were orchestrated with the sun as an ally.  The newness of the morning, the evidence of life abounding around me….we have now come out of the darkness and are given the promise that the sun and spring have spoken of all winter long.  I started this mornings magick with a brightly colored thin blanket underneath me and Friz.  I brought gifts of bread and cheese and fruit for the fae and the woodland elementals (Friz didn’t seem to mind a nibble here and there either).  We could hear the birds singing all around us, the leaves rustling in the breeze…but there was one voice singing loudly that will never be ignored–Mama Crow.  It seemed as if she was playing in the tops of the trees, dancing in the sunshine.The_sun1

As I lay there sprawled out under the canopy of trees with the sunlight dappled all over me, Friz found that one spot that the sunlight never seemed to leave and settled into it.  As he lay there warming himself, I could hear soft snores coming from that little blue heap.  Underneath me, I could feel the vibration of the earth.  Even with the chill left  from the night-time air, I could feel the stirrings underneath me.  It was almost like sitting through the warm up of the instruments from an orchestra…first, the strings, then the woodwinds, then the brass was added and finally percussion.  With the percussion came the feeling of a heart being jump started once again.  il_340x270.431970633_cz5w

I have found over the years that I never have to beg the Earth Mother for the ability to hear her heartbeat.  I do, however, have to be willing to be still and quiet enough to listen.  In the world outside our doors, we are expected to be businessmen and business women.  We are expected to be husbands, wives, mothers and fathers.  We listen to the world tell us over and over again that we don’t and never will measure up.  It is in those moments that I make myself stop and listen to the heartbeat of the Earth Mother.  I am not what the world thinks of as glamorous, fascinating or even beautiful….but when I am alone with the heartbeat of the Earth Mother in my ear, none of that really seems to be important at all.

As I finish writing this, I have turned off the music and am just sitting here snuggled into the cushions of the outdoor sofa listening to the sounds of the Earth Mother.  I finished that glass of wine ages ago and decided to go for a nice cold glass of sweet tea.  It’s funny, as I sit here humming along with nature, I can hear my granny and my two aunts harmonizing softly in the background.  Funny, nothing ever truly leaves you…those things that mean the most to us come back to visit just at the right times.  Come and sit down and pull up a cushion…here’s a glass of nice, cold sweet tea.  Harmonize with me a bit as we listen to the sounds of the world stopping for a moment…if only to allow us a second or two to just breathe.

Blessed Be!

Season of the Witch

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Distraction….that is the million dollar word.  Lately there seems to be so many different things pulling at me.  I don’t tend to be the stretchy type lately either….rather, I break or end up running around like a crazy man.

It has come to my attention, especially over the past few days, that I let myself become side-tracked far too easily.  I am too much like that dog in the movie “Up.”  I can be talking one minute about the power of magick and…..”Squirrel!!!”  I throw myself into many things at one time and end up swirling like a cyclone.  My body rebels and my immune system retreats and sickness overtakes.  When sickness comes on, it seems to take forever to get my body back in line.

Over the past month, we had been preparing for a Halloween party.  This is a party that we look forward to every year.  We did a group costume this year and I spent weeks searching for all the right accessories.  I scoured eBay for deals and went to every costume shop in Atlanta.  I threw myself into the costume with all four feet.  The issue wasn’t the costume, but more the fact that there were other things that really needed to take precedence.

I am an ‘all or nothing’ type of guy.  I feel that if I am going to do something, it can’t be done halfway.  When I was working in the theater, I was introduced, through a show I was doing, to clogging.  Clogging is a type of folk dance in which the dancer’s shoes are fitted with taps and by striking toe and heel, a rhythm is created.  This dance is quite popular in the mountains and foothills of North Carolina….where I was raised.  It wasn’t enough for me to learn how to clog.  I had to become a part of a team and dance competitively.  While it was enjoyable, I wonder what ever made me pursue it.  Was it just another check mark on my blackboard of life?

Last night, late, I needed some air.  I decided to spend some time in the courtyard.  It was coolish…but not too cool and the wind was still.  I sat on the stoop of the condo and stared at the mandrake plant that I have been nurturing since early summer.  That plant has been a lesson in patience. They are very particular about light and condition and temperature.  I have had to tend that plant with kid gloves.  About a month ago, I started to finally see some growth.  Growth does not come quickly with a mandrake either.  What started as a bump in the soil, is now three small (and I do mean small) leaves….and this is on a two year old root.

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The only thing that it concentrates on is growing stronger.  It pulls from the elements and slowly gathers the strength and nourishment it needs to become the perfect specimen….when the time is right.

Samhain is upon us and in the midst of preparation, I have let myself meander away from what it means.  I have let other things push and pull me until I no longer feel that I know which direction I am headed toward.  Even the crows realize it.  Normally, I am besieged by throngs of crows on a daily basis….with Mama Crow leading the noisy choir.  When I go through times like this…the crows grow silent.  I haven’t seen or heard a crow in at least a week.2013-10-14 16.32.33

I have decided that Samhain, for me, this year….will be a new beginning.  This is a time to call on the ancients, the ancestors to help strengthen my resolve.  The coming year for me will be the “Season of the Witch.”  This is my time for growing…..not that quick, over-fertilized growth….but a slow methodical growing time.  In this year I will become even more intimately acquainted with herbs and potions.  I intend to absorb everything that the stones and crystals will give me.  My time with the Lord and Lady and the elements will be even more deliberate.  I have been on this path far too long to let it just be the shocking revelation of ‘Yes, I am a witch.’

It is my time to revel in what it means to be a witch.  It is time to let that part of my spirit sing out.  Let the magick that is within me flow.  The power behind my beliefs should flow from me as easily as my own name flows from my lips….it is that much a part of me.

I have seen too many try to show themselves as something they are not.  We are not Harry Potter….not Samantha from ‘Bewitched.’  We are not the ladies from ‘The Witches of East End’ or ‘Practical Magic.’  We are, however, a strong group of individuals with energy and power that cannot be matched.  We are people who have healing in our very fingertips….our backbone is strong…..we hold access to the spirit realm and the playgrounds of the fae.  We are not here by accident and we were born to fly.  We were given relationship with those who many toss aside….the animals follow us closely and give us access to their hearts and spirits.  We are many traditions and many beliefs….but one strong heart grounded strongly in the old ways.

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I look forward to the wonderful things that are coming for me in this new year.  There are no dragons to be fought….but there are plenty to ride.  On Samhain night, as the moon rises in the sky and the clock strikes midnight,  I will whisper my desires into the ears of the Lord and Lady.  I will offer myself to the elements and I will begin a journey of growth led by the spirits of the ancients and those ancestors who desire to teach me.  I am a witch…nothing more and I sure as hell will not be anything less.

Blessed Be!

 

As Night-Time Settles In

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As I sit down to the computer tonight, it seems forever since I have written anything.  Sometimes life overtakes us and other times we are just taken over.  Over the past couple of weeks here in Atlanta, we have had our annual Gay Pride…I spent a good part of that weekend with friends (my partner was sick, but still he said, “Go on without me.  I will survive.”  He has such a spirit of courage ;)….along with the spirit of Gloria Gaynor).  We walked the crowded thoroughfare of Piedmont Park, enjoyed the sense of community, and experienced the Pride Parade.  The weather was beautiful…the leaves in the midst of change, but the weather around them warm and breezy.

Then Monday came.  We were back in the throes of day-to-day life….my partner was back on his feet.  I went to work Monday morning feeling energized and then Monday night, the god of all stomach viruses hit me.  Most people who know me, know that I would rather be sick in any other way but vomiting….well, this virus did not get that memo.  I tossed my cookies from late Monday evening up until this morning….a total of three days.  I have been stuck inside the house constantly…well, except for the few hours I ventured to work to get middle of the month requirements done.  Other than that, I slept….a lot.

When I am sick, my dream life is something else.  Normally I take the opportunity in sleep to conquer all those things that come at me in my awake life.  I find it fascinating that when I am sick and need to send magick to others….I do it in my dreams.  My body and magick are so much stronger in those places between sleep and awake.  In those dreams, I have seen healing, employment issues resolved…and powerful things done with the wave of a wand and the spoken word.  I have even awakened speaking the words of spells that I had no recollection of ever writing.

This may not be a traditional post for me, but it is something that I needed to write….a place where my spirit was far more active than any other part of me.  A place where I wasn’t contained by what anyone believed or said.

As Samhain approaches, the veil is getting thinner between this world and the next.  It never shocks me when I am visited by spirits when I sleep….especially this time of year.  As I closed my eyes last night, I was visited by many…very few whom I recognized.  Even though they were not familiar to me, there was a comfortable feeling…a knowing.  I dreamed of my roommate and I standing beneath a streetlamp.  He did his usual thing…he looked at the light and it went out.  I remember faces…only faces coming toward me.  They weren’t trying to scare me.  I looked beside me and saw Friz…then in the next moment, he had turned into a rather large wolf with his same little blue chihuahua markings.  In the next moment, I was over a cauldron….throwing bits of herbs and hair and roots into the mix calling for peace as these spirits walked closely to the edge of the veil.2013-10-17 20.10.36

I could feel myself turn in my sleep and then there was a tree.  The tree was stark and black and empty.  I was the only one at the base of this tree.  I put my hands on the trunk of the tree and watched as this tree began heaving and crying.  Wolf-Friz was close to my side…not moving away.  Then I saw the fae coming near…..they were wearing muted tones….the colors of winter.  They were begging me to come sing with them, but Friz would not let me go.  I remembered in my dream that my grandpa once told me that if you went away with the ‘wee folk’ that you would never return.

As I drifted in and out of the “sick-sleep,”  I kept seeing faces of those I love and cherish dancing in front of me…..I could feel their needs.  I would reach out to each one and feel them floating away as each was greeted with a kiss from a gray colored female.  I knew somehow that with each kiss their needs were being met.

As I ushered sleep away, I looked beside me to see a little blue chihuahua yawning widely beside me.  Always faithful….never moving from my side. He moved toward my face and softly licked my nose as I struggled to be awake.

With each deep sleep, I can feel my body healing.  I feel my spirit active…even though my body isn’t.  As the night fell, I visited gardens and farms and townhomes.  The only way I can describe it is to say that I got a taste of the old magick….that magick that the ancients before us.

As Samhain gets closer and the veil thins even more…..let us open ourselves even more to the lessons that not only spirit has to teach us…but also let us be open to those that we may overlook normally.Photo Jul 09, 6 19 20 PM

Blessed Be!

By Raven’s Wing and Deep Woods Song

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All week long, I have been dealing with the effects of aging.  I have noticed that as I read and as I work, that I am squinting more….things are blurrier than I am used to.  My eyes have grown so weary so quickly.  I love nothing better than sitting down with a nice cup of tea and a book…losing myself between the pages….throwing myself full-force into the lives of the characters.   This past week, I would read until the letters started blurring together and then put the book down….go on Facebook long enough to make a comment or three and then wait for alerts to buzz.  After I put my old friend back onto the bookshelf (and yes, to me, they become old friends) I make my way to the woods.

Thursday night was the night of the New Moon.  I had anticipated my time in the woods all day long.  I was excited because this was the night that I would be consecrating a wand that I made for a friend and my staff.  I have been working diligently on both for a few months now.  I had packed my altar materials in my old canvas backpack along with the wand.  I walked leaning on my staff…the first of many trips it would be taking with me.

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This trip to the woods would be made without my trusty little blue chihuahua.  I needed to be able to concentrate fully on what I was doing.  As I entered the edge of the woods, I heard that all too familiar caw.  To most, it would seem harsh and crass.  I have come to see it as a rough and raw melody.  I looked up and watched as Mama Crow flew above…I don’t think I had ever noticed how gracefully she winged her way from tree to tree and post to post.

I disappeared into the wooded grove and settled in amongst the trees and leaves and rocks that have become more than acquaintances lately…more like friends that I have known since the beginning of time.  It is true that the earth has its own spirit…its own heartbeat.  You can feel it in every part of it you touch.  I squatted down (not too gracefully) underneath a large maple.  I unpacked my candles and skulls and the wand.  I leaned my staff against this magnificent tree.  I knew that the energy from that tree would encircle and move within and around my staff.  I sat down cross-legged in front of it all and I started to breathe.  Just breathe.

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I closed my eyes.  It felt good to rest them.  I invited the elements and  the directions.  I called to Morrigan and to Cernunnos.  I held the wand up under the moon.  I whispered to her for her energy and her power to move from one end of the wand to the other.  I whispered another invitation for the energies to combine for my staff.  I felt the New Moon’s energy pouring over me.  I quieted my own spirit and just listened.  With my eyes closed, I could see stories that the moon had hungered to tell me.  I watched as colors swirled around inside of my closed eyelids.  It reminded me of sitting at the feet of my granny when I was a young’un.

As I sat there lost in the story-telling of the moon, I felt something brush against me.  Now, when you are by yourself in the woods and and it has just started getting dark, your mind goes to everything from snake to rat to skunk.  Just as I was preparing to sprint back to the condo, I heard a small little purring sound and felt something making biscuits in my lap.  I opened my eyes to see that little squirt of a calico kitten getting comfortable on me.  I could almost hear my granny cackling out loud about how a kitten could scare the Be-Jesus out of a big old fella.

After I had calmed down again and my breathing had slowed, I looked up through the trees.  There was a breeze rustling through the tops…you could feel the rhythm building…the music that comes when the earth and the heavens meet.  I stared at the moon and the stars and quietly whispered my favorite quote, “I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”  Once again I could feel my dear friend pouring her light and energy down into the small circle.  I watched as the opal aura on the wand caught its light and danced with its energy.  The more I heard the purrs coming from my lap, the more I relaxed back into the energy of the earth.

I could feel my spirit familiars there with me….Crow and Wolf.  I could sense their protection and their magick.  I closed my eyes again and listened.  Just listened.  I listened with my spirit….with my heart….to the stories of when all the elements began…when the moon began to pour herself over the earth.  I listened to the stories of when Wolf and Crow came to be.  I knew that something wonderful and brand new was happening here…..something that I am probably not describing as best as I could here….but something that would completely and magickally intertwine with my spirit.  For the first time in so so long….I felt completely lost in the magick of the worlds and energies and spirits around me…..so completely bathed in a power that I could never harness or control.  I felt a part of the universe that I honestly believe that I haven’t tapped into yet.  It was a time for me when all that I worshiped and all that I held dear melded into one energy.  This energy poured itself onto me and my staff and the wand and this sleeping kitten.

I felt like I had been in the woods for days, but had only been there a couple of hours.  It was the feeling that Ebenezer Scrooge must have felt after the visits of the three spirits….it was hard to fathom that all that took place did so in that small amount of time.  I scooped up the kitten and held her in one arm as I packed everything up.  She yawned and stretched as she just sort of laid there hanging across my arm.  As I started off, I put her on the ground and she slowly walked out of the woods.  I now know which condo she lives in and that her name is Beatrice.  Her mom met me at the gate of her unit and laughed and said, “She sure does like to explore!”  I responded with, “She sure does.” and looked down to see if the little booger had looked up to wink at me.  The things that little one has experienced just in the few short months she has been around.

I slept like a rock that night.  The dreams I had were vivid.  I dreamed about the outdoors and fae and many many friends.  All I remember thinking as I crawled out of bed that morning was, “I need more nights like I had last night!”

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Blessed Be!

The Magick of Listening

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I have found myself in a myriad of emotions this week. Anger, elation, melancholy, and apathy. I started the week the way it normally starts….work. It seems that somedays, everything there….every person can push every button I have and summon up such a rage inside me, that each time it rises, is the worst I have felt. Then there is the melancholy that comes sometimes with just dealing with everyday issues….bills coming due, little past remembrances that can creep in. Apathy….now I will admit, I do not feel this very often. I am normally a raging heap of emotions….a large rubberband ball of raw emotion….but this week, I was to the point that I disconnected so quickly (and it was quite evident, by the way) that people asked if I was still in this large gelatinous form I call a body. Of course, there is my favorite of all these emotions…..elation. The uncontained euphoria of hearing that my partner had come through his ear surgery beautifully and that the surgeon was optimistic that he would regain most of his hearing.

Now, this week was submersed in the details of the ear surgery. There was the anticipation of the positive results, but there was also the dread that the hearing would not improve and that total deafness in that ear would be the end result. We talked….a lot. We talked about possibilities and fears and we made promises and laughed about how silly we were being too.

All of this emotion surrounding one of the five senses made my brain go into overdrive. What would I be without one of those senses? Where would I have to make adjustments? How good of a listener am I, really?

Today was the first full day after the surgery. I spent the rest of yesterday worrying about whether he would bend over wrong….strain….move the wrong way….do something that would destroy the positive results forever. He was drugged up and feeling pretty good, so he really didn’t give a rip. I constantly asked him, “What does it sound like? How does it feel?” Questions and Loritabs don’t really mix well. I was told to stop and let him sleep.

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This morning, I woke up tired. I tossed and turned all night long listening for any signs of pain or discomfort. Of course, at an especially early hour, I hear whines coming from the kennel at the foot of the bed. The dogs want to be fed and walked. Bella was content with eating, pooping and then going right back to sleep. Friz on the other hand expected more. It was a comfortable temperature out, the sun was shining. He was pulling me with all the force a chihuahua could muster toward the pond.

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Friz and I settled in beside the old oak tree. I closed my eyes and for the first time in a long time…..I just listened. I could hear my breath coming in shorter bursts at first because of the exertion of the walk. Then I listened as it lengthened….became softer, easier, calmer. I listened to Friz’ panting. Heavy at first….then gently relaxing. I could hear him twisting his body to fit my lap….could hear his breathing become heavier and then dissolve into soft snores.

I heard a familiar sound approaching us from the wooded area behind us. It was a soft padding catching the leaves that were left from fall and winter and the taller grasses as it came closer. I could hear a loud purr roar forth from an old fae cat that hadn’t seen us in what seemed like ages. I listened as he cuddled into Friz and the sound of a small motorboat was roaring forth from his insides. I heard so many sounds around me that I would typically ignore just because it didn’t directly effect me. There were sounds that made my imagination dance. I just knew I could hear the fae playing hide and seek around me…..the flit of wings and tiny little giggles.

My brain raced into technicolor visions of creatures that I have longed to see and look eyeball to eyeball with. Every splash I heard in the pond water was not just that boring old bullfrog that I have seen time and again….but a beautiful mermaid or merman splashing about. That breeze that I could hear swooshing around my ears was the aftermath of a low-flying dragon. Oh the joy that was stirred up in me…..just from listening harder than I have ever listened before.

As I sat there with visions and sounds rushing around me, I quieted my spirit enough to whisper, “Lord and Lady, take this time, in my silence to teach me.” I listened harder. If my ears could have bled from the strain of listening, this would be that time. What was I waiting to hear? A thunder clap? The roar of a hurricane? A tidal wave? It must be something that is going to be huge….ginormous….something fantastical! The longer I sat there, though, the quieter it seemed to get. The wind had become still. The splashing had stopped. My spirit, however, did quicken. I felt an excitement…a wonderful stirring. And then, it was like I heard a whisper. It was a whisper that seemed to echo with the divine masculine and the divine feminine. “In your stillness, in your silence, you are learning. You are learning of the kisses and caresses of the wind. You are learning of the laughter of the water. You are learning of the joy and warmth of fire through the sun….but most importantly, you are learning to hear the heartbeat of mother earth. It is in your connection with each of these elements that you learn from and connect deeper to the Lord and Lady. Our spirit becomes a part of your spirit. You know us as well as you know yourself.”

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I breathed in deeply. It was almost as if I was taking in my first breath. Not only did my hearing seem sharper…..but every sense seemed more alive and hyper-sensitive. I inhaled deep and caught a faint scent of jasmine penetrate my nostils. I shifted my weight and it was as if every grassblade underneath me became evident….nature’s carpet. It was almost as if I could taste the wind on my tongue. Finally as I opened my eyes, I could see everything glowing in the light of the sunshine.

The one thing I have learned about myself over the years is that I can be a little thick…not the brightest crayon in the box. Nature has found a way to show me the things I miss from time to time. I have often told my friends that Friz is one of those dogs that ‘doesn’t have the sense to come in out of the rain.’ Now I am beginning to think that I was the one all along with no sense. When I watch that little dog in a rainstorm, he turns his little nose into the air and sniffs just as hard and fast as he can sniff. He doesn’t stop to worry about the fact that he is getting wet. He is living for that moment….that second…and with that moment comes all the smells that rain brings out.

Today we had a rainstorm. Of course, Friz had to go out at that exact moment. The only difference was that this time, I was standing right there beside him…nose raised in the air, sniffing as hard and fast as I could. It smelled fresh….it smelled new…..just like another new beginning.

Blessed be!!

Spring Fever

Yesterday was so nice here.  It was like spring had come on full force.  I got up early and took a walk around the complex.  I was greeted by so many different plants raising their heads to the sun.  So many shoots are coming up.  Inside my own courtyard, there are hostas starting to show themselves.  Hydrangeas are beginning to green up.  On the outside of the courtyard, the daffodils and muscari are greeting spring full force.

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As I walked down by the pond, I could see a sea of daffodils springing up….dancing in the wind.  I looked over to a nearby tree and there sat Mama Crow.  The caw, this time, wasn’t a reprimand….wasn’t a warning….it sounded like the course laugh of an old aunt who had smoked way too much in her life. 

As I went back into the courtyard, all I could think of was sitting in the sun.  I had on a sweatshirt, which became way too hot, so I went inside to change into a lighter shirt and to get the fairy house I have been working on for weeks.  I still had some gluing to do and the fumes would have been way too noxious to stay indoors.  I loved feeling the textures in my hands.  I used natural items to decorate the house.  The stones, the sticks, the moss…..my roommate told me as I was working on it last week that he dreamed about the house one night.  In the dream, he said he kept hearing over and over again that I needed to bless it.  I told him that I didn’t think I needed to bless the fairy house because I wasn’t going to use it for magick.  He said, “But you are.  As you work on it, you are healing and centering yourself.  You are visualizing yourself there.  You are using it as a way of grounding yourself.  Now, I am not a witch, but that all sounds like magick to me.”  Who’d a thunk it?!??  I guess maybe a little witch has rubbed off on him!  LOL!!!

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This has been a hard and very rough winter for me.  I feel like I might have accomplished more by hibernating….but alas, humans aren’t allowed to do that.  We have our jobs, and families, and responsibilities.  This winter, it seems that I have been eaten up in so much sickness…whether it be a cold, a sinus infection, the flu, pneumonia, depression, and cancer scares.  I have a wonderful support system though.  When I am sick, I tend to isolate myself.  I just want to be left alone to hibernate.  I have friends who know me and refuse to let me brew and steep. 

I was told by friends, when I came down with the flu, that I needed to be up and moving….that I didn’t need to lie down constantly.  Instead of listening, I laid there….wallowing in the sickness.  It reminds me of watching yeast activate.  You add it to all the right conditions and ingredients and it bubbles and multiplies and that yeasty smell kind of overtakes everything.  I was bathing in that yeasty smell on a daily basis.  I did everything I shouldn’t have done and pneumonia bubbled up inside of me.  When the doctor discussed the lump on my chest with me, I decided that I wasn’t going to do the same with that.  I jumped at the chance to have it biopsied….started checking into natural anti-cancer agents.  Then when the report came back that no cancer cells were seen, I decided that I should still look for natural immune support….one of which is just getting out in the sunshine.

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After I finished working on the fairy house yesterday,  I took Friz for a walk.  He was a complete handful.  He loves the smell of flowers and digging in the dirt.  He danced, he pranced.  We can learn alot of lessons from our animals.  He did everything that I wanted to do, but tend to stifle because somebody might be looking.  I always did hate conforming.  As we walked,  I decided to do like Friz….so I danced and pranced and when he stopped to dig, I did too.  He thought it was grand fun.  He looked up at me as I was kneeling down in the dirt with him and I swear that pup was smiling as I put my hands in the dirt and started to dig.  It made him dig harder….which made me laugh.  When we got back to the courtyard, we were exhausted.  I sat on the patio sofa and he curled up on my lap.  We both dozed off.  I woke up to such a strong presence of the Goddess.  The breeze was caressing me…I could smell earth and fire and air and water.  I could sense the fae playing close by.

A friend said it best.  “You are healing….after a long…horrid winter….you are reborn!”

Blessed Be!