Don’t Make Eye Contact

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I remember growing up around my mom…she lived in a state of constant worry and a state of constant fear.  She moved away from it more as we grew older, but I remember when we were younger how afraid she was of everything.  She was afraid of thunder.  She was afraid of bugs.  She was afraid that we would wander too far from the house.  She was afraid.

The thing about people who live in fear is that many times that fear tries to transfer to the people that live with them.  The one phrase that I remember my mom using constantly was, “Don’t make eye contact.”  Now there were particular people or groups of people this was directed toward…strangers, in particular, but also those who others categorized as mentally challenged…homeless people and stray animals.AP_romanian_stray_dogs_jef_130913_16x9_992

 

My mom never felt comfortable around any of those things.  It makes me wonder what kind of life my mom had growing up….so much fear.  As you can imagine, many of my mom’s fears began to take root in my heart as I grew up surrounded by them.  I remember a group of mentally challenged teens who attended my elementary school….I would see them coming and I could feel my whole body go rigid.  I would silently pray that they would stay far from me.  I remember as a youngster walking toward a stray dog that came into our yard and hearing my mother screech from the front porch, “Don’t touch that dog! It might have the mange!”  Well, at that time, I didn’t know what ‘the mange’ was, but I was sure I didn’t want it.  So I ran. It was then that I started nurturing the beginnings of a fear of dogs.  Finally, I remember my mother talking about ‘Crazy Mary’ the local homeless woman.  My mother had heard stories of how Mary went crazy because she had always wanted children.  When she miscarried after her first and only pregnancy, it drove her to the depths of insanity and she walked the streets looking for a child to call her own.

I carried each of these fears with me through grade school, high school and even part of college.  When I passed the homeless…my mother’s voice would ring clear, “Don’t make eye contact.”  When I worked at a grocery chain and the adults from the local group home came in to shop, I made a bee-line for the stock room with my mother’s voice ringing in my ears, “Don’t make eye contact.”  When I met my friend Susan who worked with rescue animals and finally saw what ‘the mange’ looked like, my mother’s words haunted me, “Don’t make eye contact.”

I have never been the type of person who wanted to be limited by anything, most of all, myself…so I made it a point to put myself into situations where I had to address those fears.  The first fear I addressed was the fear of those that others called mentally challenged.  When I was in bible school in Knoxville, TN back in the days of Moses, I had to work to be able to afford school.  I worked full time evenings in a bookstore, but on weekends I worked at a facility for adults with learning, mental and physical challenges.

My first five minutes in that facility were pure hell for me.  I broke out in cold sweats and shook continually.  My biggest fear was that someone would actually talk to me.  My first duties were to help clean a fellow up after his meal.  He laughed and smiled at me the whole time.  It made me feel ashamed of the fear I had lived with for so many years.  I looked in his eyes and I saw joy…pure elation that someone was taking the time to help him.  He smiled even bigger.  I could feel a tear loose itself from my eye and I felt his hand wipe at my face.  He told me, “No cry….happy…happy.”  He laughed out loud and I joined him.

I turned around and there was a woman in her forties standing almost close enough to me to be my shadow.  “I love you!”  The worker with me told me quietly, “That’s her thing.  She loves everybody.  She will tell you 100 times in a few hours.” I smiled at her.  “I love you!” I was perplexed.  I leaned in and said, “I love you too.”  She looked me eye to eye and quietly whispered, “For real?”  I whispered back, “Yes, for real.”  She smiled from ear to ear.  That was the only time she asked me that night…but we made it a point to say it once a day each time we saw each other.

I often find it amazing…the places and situations I have found myself in.  This young fellow who was scared to death of getting ‘the mange’ moved to Atlanta and the only job he could find was a job at a veterinary clinic.  I learned all about mange and what would treat it.  I learned about animal handling and treatment.  I could do the job in my sleep. Five years into the job, the opportunity came for me to work with a mobile vet.  We went from house to house treating and working with pets and then one of her pets became gravely ill.  There was fluid on the heart and it would only get worse.  She was encouraged to bring him in and ‘put him to sleep’ when it was too much of a struggle for him.  Instead, she decided that it would need to happen at home surrounded by his loved ones.  She asked if I would do it for her.  I looked into that sweet dogs eyes as I introduced the needle into his vein.  I watched through tears as the spirit of life swept from him and I laid his head on his paws.

This morning I had volunteered to go with a work group to deliver clothing to the homeless.  Collections had been made for weeks and we stood in groups next to tables full of coats and sweatshirts and pants separated by size.2015-02-28 11.29.07

My first encounter with the homeless was in New York City in 1985.  I was being shown around the city by a roommate who had been living there six months longer than I had.  I was informed that you didn’t touch the pigeons and you didn’t make eye contact with the homeless. “They are like rats (the pigeons and the homeless).  You can’t be nice to them…they follow you everywhere.”

Years later, when I was working in the ministry, I  was asked to be a part of a homeless ministry who cooked breakfast and served it underneath the bridge in Charlotte, NC.  I got to know and became friends with many of the people who gathered under that bridge to eat and hear me sing and teach. As I talked to one fellow, I found out that he was my age and he had missed one paycheck.  Not so different from me after all….one paycheck.

This morning as I foraged through stacks on tables and shifted clothes.  I hear some of the others talking to people coming through the line.  I hear a familiar laugh and a scruffy bark.  I turn around and I make eye contact with the Green Wizard.  He is there in need of a sweatshirt and a blanket.  I smile at him and he smiles back.  I introduce him to those around me as my friend…not as ‘a homeless person I know.’eyes

 

It’s funny…over the years…the most powerful magick I have ever found were in the things of which my mother was most afraid.  I found magick in the eyes of those whose mind danced differently than my own…I found magick in the eyes of animals whose hearts were far purer than my own…I found magick in the eyes of those who use the earth as their pillow and the stars as their nightlight.  I am far richer for it.

Blessed Be!

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Leashing the Wolf

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My partner and I went to visit my family over the Fourth of July weekend.  We had a lot of fun playing with the nephew and seeing Ma and my aunt and my dad and of course being back in my old woods.  When we arrived back in Atlanta, I unpacked and sat down for a cup of tea.  I felt the need to connect with the water energy here at the complex, so I decided to take a quick trip to the pond.  When I got there, I was horrified, saddened and angry all at the same time.  From the time we had left to the time we got back home, they had drained the pond.  I asked one of the neighbors about it and they seemed glad that it was gone.  “All it did was add to the mosquito population anyway.”

Something has been reeling through my brain all week long…ever since seeing the pond drained and hearing the relief in my neighbors voice that it had ‘just because of the inconvenience of a few mosquitoes’ (even though I really haven’t seen a drop in the population of mosquitoes since it happened).  I have wondered does man always feel the need to control?  Does the need to always tame that which is out of his grasp keep him preoccupied so that he doesn’t really look at the world around him?

Let’s start with Native Americans.  People came to North America in search of freedoms.  When they arrived, they encountered tribes of indigenous people.  Rather than learn from these people…rather than appreciate the culture and knowledge these people had to offer.  It was quickly decided that these people were to be conquered.  They must assimilate into the world that would be created here.

If it wasn’t by slaughter that these ‘savages’ would be conquered, then their spirits would be crushed by shipping their children off to Indian schools.  In these schools, they would be stripped of their clothing and heritage, hosed down like vermin, beaten when they spoke their native language or practiced their native religion.  Those who invaded their land weren’t comfortable with their ‘wildness.’  They needed to be tamed.Carlisle School boys

 

If you look at the way we treat our pets…when they bark, we tell them to be quiet.  We have come to expect them to be little humans.  We discourage any of the wolf-like qualities that attracted us to them to begin with.  We are intrigued by the wolf-dog, but only because we want to know what it is like to have the wildness of the wolf and tameness of the canine in one animal.   I understand that in this day and age there have to be certain boundaries for the safety of our charges.  I hate having to leash Friz when we go on adventures…but for his safety, this is necessary.  It protects him from the other humans who don’t quite understand the nature of an animal  or proper animal etiquette. wolf on leash

I have watched the way I interact with Friz over the past week.  I realized that I treat him more like a child than the magnificent beast that is truly lying underneath that fur.  I have tried to engage him more on his terms since that observation and it is amazing the difference.  He has become less anxious and seems to have a brighter demeanor.  I have watched him slowly become more confident.  He is venturing further from me in the house…he is no longer my shadow.

This principle doesn’t just apply to the animals.  Here in Atlanta, over and over we hear constantly about preserving green space, but whenever I look around, there seems to be more and more concrete being laid…more buildings going up….apartments, condos,  office space.  When we are through with them, we leave them in disrepair and wait to see how long it will take them to decompose.  reclaimed bathroom

 

 

We, as humans, have learned to live our lives tamed.  I actually think the word ‘caged’ feels more accurate.  We would like to blame the government for these issues…but it isn’t the government.  We would like to blame religion for these issues…but it isn’t religion.  It is very simple, really.  It is people.

We have learned, through centuries of teaching, that whatever makes us uncomfortable must be caged, contained, or crushed.  We have seen, in history, that those who were even believed to have practiced witchcraft were burned, drowned, and sent to their deaths in unbelievably cruel ways.  There were reasons that the cunning men and wise women of old separated themselves from the villages.  It was easier to live life isolated than face constant persecution.

I have spent most of my life being looked at under a cocked eyebrow. “Why is he different than we are?”  “Why can’t he just settle down with a nice girl?” “Does he have to work magick with skulls and fire?”  “Why would anyone want to be a witch? On purpose?” “He must be crazy.  He talks to animals like they understand him and he talks to the weather….oh, and he dances in the rain.”

As I get older, I realize that, for myself…my own peace of mind, I must be exactly who I am.  I can’t compromise that for a moment.  If that means that I don’t fit inside someone else’s idea of what normal is, then so be it.  I choose the way I live my life…if your choices are different then go with it…just don’t condemn me for mine.  I walk the path that has been laid before me.  I can’t walk yours…it is not my journey.  On my path, I choose to create…whether by magick, or with my hands.  I choose not to destroy.

I will live a life of freedom…not your freedom, but those that apply to me.  Whether I am in the middle of the woods, the edge of a pond, or in the middle of a concrete laden parking lot…I will be free.  I will throw my head back, open my arms and embrace the energy swirling around me.  That is what I did last night in my courtyard in the wee hours…I opened my arms to the moon, closed my eyes and threw my head back.  In that moment, I was free of any opinions, sickness and fear.  In that moment, I was unfettered by cords that may try to bind me.  In that moment,  I watched as my spirit ran free, unleashed by anything that would try to tie me down.tumblr_n2lnbutsa41so177no1_500

 

Blessed Be!

Honoring the Warrior Spirit

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I come from a big military family.  I am one of the only men who never served.  My grandfather, uncles, cousins, have all served in wars.  My grandfather fought in World War II, my uncles in the Korean and Vietnam wars, and my cousins in Desert Storm.  Each went into battle, not with the intention of killing for the sake of killing, but with freedom and justice balancing delicately on their shoulders.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day.  Most think of it as an excuse for a three day weekend, others think of it as a reason to barbecue.  These are wonderful ways to celebrate this holiday, but for me, it takes on much more meaning.  I remember an uncle who spent time in a concentration camp in Germany for being a sympathizer.  He made it out alive, miraculously, but lived his life constantly scarred by the memories.  I remember, as a child, always making trips to the military bases because one of my relatives was being deployed overseas.  I have tremendous respect for our military.

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I admire my uncles and cousins who have served and they never made me feel any less important for not serving.  My uncle once said to me, “It is not always about fighting in a foreign land.  Freedom also has to be won right here at home…in our day to day life.  As long as you live a life of integrity and have strength of character and showing kindness to those who need it, you are demonstrating justice and freedom.  It is your destiny to keep honor and hope alive every day of your life.”  I remember the words he spoke to me every time he hugs me before getting on that plane for another assignment.  This last time it was Afghanistan.  He and my aunt Skype every morning before he starts work and you can hear the strength in his voice…he is there for me, and her, and every other person here in the United States of America.

Friz and I took our time walking to the woods this morning.  It was already feeling heavy and humid.  The coolness of the woods was what I needed. We rounded the sidewalk at the back part of the complex and moved toward a quiet leaf covered sanctuary.  I laid everything out….the skulls, candles, crystals…all the way I normally do and then I sprawled out in the middle of the leaves.  The coolness of the ground beneath me almost made me feel as though I could doze off.  2014-03-19 19.15.00

The Morrigan has been on my mind all week long.  Maybe it’s because the dark of the moon is approaching….maybe it is because everywhere I have turned this week, I have seen crows, crows, and more crows.  Maybe it is because I have had to call on that warrior spirit many, many times over the past weeks.  I understand that we are to look for the love and light around us, but sometimes life is honestly just a battle.  It is in the midst of those challenges that I have had to listen closely to the words my uncle spoke to me.

Life is not always about having the sword or spear at the ready…the path we walk should not be paved with blood and annihilation.  We don’t do damage just for damage’s sake.  The warrior’s spirit must always be tempered with wisdom.  There is a quote from the movie, “The Hobbit”  that I think describes it perfectly:

  True courage is about knowing not when to take a life, but when to spare one.

 

Believe me….I am not one of those witches whose life revolves around fairy dust and nothing but love and light.  There is a place for folks like that and I have no disagreement with them, but when I was reborn into this life, the body that I inhabit was given a good dose of fight and temper and a sword for a tongue.  Over the years, I have had to learn when to use all of those qualities along with something my grandma imparted to me…a respect for all beings and their life forces.

My first inclination has always been to wield the sword first and then look to see who I may have hit.  As I have matured, I have learned to ‘bring the proper tool for the fight.’  Don’t bring a battle axe when a slingshot will do the job.

I remembered sitting down with the grandmothers and grandfathers during the summer I worked on the Lakota reservation in South Dakota.  They would tell me stories that their grandmothers and grandfathers had told to them.  I remember hearing of ‘counting coup.’

Counting coup was the act of striking or touching the enemy in battle with a bow, spear, or coup stick.  It was an act that was meant more for humiliation than and act of bloodshed.  After counting coup several times on an enemy, to kill them would have been dishonorable and seen as a waste of ammunition.

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We are too busy now a days counting coup….it is way too easy to try to humiliate others and make them ashamed of the way they think, act, practice than to be honorable.  All for the sake of what?  Making us look better?  When that actually works, you let me know.  War, whether in the days of the Lakota or in the days of our Celtic ancestors, was never fought for the trivial.  It was about home, food, survival, and freedom.

Life has become harder.  Life is a constant battle.  The heart of the warrior always stands strong and honorable with the good of more than himself/herself directly in front of his/her eyes.  There are times when things have to be cut down and cut away.  We must have the wisdom to recognize when that is needed and we must make a clean cut with a sharp blade.

I will be in the woods again tomorrow.  I will be giving honor to the warrior spirit that runs rampant through the veins of my family.  I will be giving thanks for that same blood that runs through my veins.  Even though I have never served a moment in the military, I stand with my head held high because I have done what my uncle asked of me.  I have always tried to live my life with integrity and strength of character.  I have tried to sow honor and hope wherever I go….I hold that warrior spirit.

Blessed Be!268d80b80fa42368ed9720a13600437b

 

 

 

 
**I must apologize. I have since removed a piece of work attached to this article called “Tatanka” by Maureen Farrelly. I should not have used it. It came up in a Google search.

Blessed Be!

Living Life Fearlessly

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Many of you don’t know that for the past twelve weeks, I have been a part of an internship program at work….no, not the animal clinic.  I quit there back in January.  The internship program I have been in has encompassed things I never thought I could or would be able to do.  Since the end of January, I have studied software systems, taken tests, jumped through hoops, and been way more outgoing than I normally am.  I have had to apply a discipline to my work and home life that I have not accessed since college.  I have had to balance a strenuous work schedule laced with courses and classes and tests.  The team started with many people who thought they might be able to ‘fake’ themselves through the program…many young men and women who thought they could get through on youth alone.  There are now two of us…only two interviewing now for permanent positions.

I sat down with my work mentor this week in preparation for the interviews and asked her to tell me what my strongest quality is.  She looked me in the eyes and point blank said, “You are fearless.  Not a careless, flippant fearless, but the type of fearless that researches and studies and then dives in…,most importantly, you dive in.”

Honestly, I have always been sort of a risk-taker.  The day after high school graduation found me on a bus bound for New York City to pursue an acting and singing career on the Broadway stage.  I was on a plane to Ecuador the day after 9/11.  I moved to Tennessee alone to pursue the ministry.  I bungee jumped off of a tower at Myrtle Beach.  There isn’t much I am not willing to try.  I even want to go skydiving on my 50th birthday.bungee

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t live my life stupidly.  When I do something, it is planned out, researched and studied.  I knew before I bungee jumped that, when I told the guys my weight, I needed to be as brutally honest as I could be.  The weight determines the strength of the bungees.

In my opinion, fearless doesn’t mean the absence of fear…it means you are willing to rise to the challenge.  It may mean that you need to lean a little more on the strength of others to help carry you through the difficult parts of the journey.  Fearless doesn’t mean that common sense and planning go out the window.  It just means you fear less.

Through this time, I have had to pull on resources I had forgotten I had.  I had to reach down inside of myself and rely on strengths that I had long since buried.  I had to dig down and remember that I am truly a smart person.  I had to remember that I am tenacious.  I had to remember that I do not give up.  I had to pull on the strength of teacher wolf to take in all the information that was being fed to me by the buckets…and you know what?  I did it.

This morning was a half damp kind of morning here in the condo complex.  I dragged myself out of bed at 7am.  I put the dog’s food in their bowls.  I fed the cats.  I got Friz harnessed up and ready to go.  I put my backpack on like I have hundreds of other mornings and I stumbled out the door…still half asleep.

I stumbled toward the woods with a little blue chihuahua staring at me like I was drunk and might fall on him.  We got to the edge and there stands my dear friend, the Green Wizard.  He is sitting in the grass, Calliope lying next to him and in his arms, he has an orange and white stray cat that I have seen wondering the property.  Everyone has tried to pet him, but no one has been successful until this morning.

The Green Wizard looks up at me and smiles a full and welcoming smile.  He softly said, “You are going to get tired of me.”  I told him that I didn’t think that was going to happen.  In his next breath, he reminded me that everything happens only for a season and we never know how long that season may last.  I know that he is preparing me for his next departure which, I have a feeling, will last for longer than I am comfortable thinking about.

As I emptied my backpack of the skulls and candles and herbs and crystals, he held certain ones and admired them.  He seemed to have a particular connection with the green tiger’s eye sphere that I have, so I told him to take it.  He seemed deeply touched.  As I lit the candles, he looked me in the eyes and told me, “Weathered Wiseman, you are coming into your season of prosperity.  Your magick, your spirit, your health, your work….everything that you touch will prosper.  As it comes to you, you must be willing to take it by the hand.  No fear….you must be willing to embrace all the blessings that will pursue you.  Your magick is going to explode around you…..it will touch areas of your life you never thought it could.”

My magick will explode, huh?tumblr_lvnpjlOxh81r3royqo1_500

I am so ready.  We think about magick touching every area of our lives….but there are so many areas that we hold onto.  Areas that we want to keep ‘protected.’

This week, I have been busy making wands and athames…washing and bleaching bones, combing through fur.  I want to find a way of making the magick that I hold inside of myself available to others.  The magick that I pour into the tools that I make….the time spent consecrating the tools under the appropriate moonlight…the blood and sweat that are poured into (and onto) those tools are parts of the process that I don’t take lightly and I don’t compromise on.  The tools range from rustic to crude, but they are put together with purpose and intent.  I started this process with an athame I made for myself…made from a humanely harvested wolf femur and fur and a recycled dagger blade.  It holds more magick than I can describe to you in this post.2014-05-06 17.05.50

 

I have those close to me who constantly pour their energy and magick into me.  I pour my energy and magick into them.  I expend a part of myself…daily, weekly, monthly.  When I give, I don’t do half-assed magick…just as they don’t do anything halfway.

There is a season coming.  I have been sitting on that egg…warming it…nurturing it for some time now.  This time, I have no qualms about saying, “It’s my turn!”

Blessed Be!