Howling at the Moon…

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It seems that this week has been the week of secrets. At work, I have been told things that I am not to share with another living soul. Co-workers have corralled me and told me things that I am supposed to guard with my life. Our roommate has told me things this week that I am to take with me to my grave. Even my partner has started sentences this week with the phrase, “now don’t tell anyone.” I completely hate this. Anyone who truly knows me, knows that I cannot lie to save myself. Whenever I try to divert attention from a subject or even try a half-truth…..my face, my body language….everything about me gives me away. I turn blood red. I stammer and stutter. I fidget. So why have I suddenly become the keeper of secrets?!?

This week has also been a week of constant change. Little things inside of me. I shared a while back that I had a small tumor that showed up just to the left of my right pectoral muscle. I had it biopsied and it turned up to be a fatty lipoma. Well, not long afterward, a friend shared a bit of information that she had accessed months ago. She had heard that Agaricus Blazei (mushroom) was good for getting rid of tumors. I ordered some right then….didn’t question it. Well, the good news is that the fatty tumor has been shrinking more and more each week that I take this mushroom capsule. It is now barely noticeable.mushrooms_65DD849291544

This same friend introduced me to Hawthorn capsules to help get hypertension under control. Since starting this regimen, I am also pleased to announce that my blood pressure has been remarkably lower. I am almost to the point of being excited to see my doctor at my next checkup (well that and he is also amazingly hot).

My spirit has been in the midst of change too. I can only compare it to what a werewolf must feel during the transformation process. It hasn’t all felt warm and fuzzy….in fact, some of it has been quite painful. I have felt most of these changes down to my very core. These new feelings have made my mind, my stomach and my chest hurt.

It is almost as if I have become aware of myself. For the first time in my life, it doesn’t matter where I am….it is like watching a recorded program of my every move. I have had to listen over and over to every word I say. When I go to bed at night, my dreams replay the activities of the day, letting me hear and see myself over and over. I realized that I spent a majority of my day trying to be invisible….trying to keep from being acknowledged or recognized. I also realized that I spent a huge amount of my day being a peacekeeper or liason.

I had to stop and think, “Am I only an ear? Am I someone who lies low just so the circling vultures won’t see him among the dead? Am I slipping into indifference?” I listened to myself as my roommate asked me, “Is working out really worth it?” My answer: “What do you think?” Where is my head? I should have been screaming out, “Of course, it’s worth it! Can’t you see all the positive changes happening with your body? You feel better…your love handles are going away….you seem happier!”

I have often said it to others…..”Boy, get some gumption about yourself!” “No wonder you have become the keeper of secrets…..you’ve been keeping to yourself all week.” It is one thing to need time to yourself….it is something completely different to be absent when you are in a room full of people. It has been far too easy this week to keep my “witch” hidden….to leave him tied up somewhere in a corner.2013-01-02 22.49.41

Friz and I took to the woods this morning. Mama Crow has been noticeably quiet this week. I have made myself stop and listen….talking to the telephone pole in the distance, but no replies were heard. As we moved toward the woods, darkness still looming behind us, I heard a familiar sound. That raucous loud raspy voice was like music to my ears. I turned around and looked high. I could see her perched in the tree to my right. She was cawing non-stop….it sounded too much like a scolding for me not to stop. When she had finished her lecture we continued on to the woods.

I settled down under the biggest tree I could find. I unpacked my mini-altar…laid out the skulls and candles carefully. I did everything that has become second nature to me….trying to not be so mechanical. I settled down in front of the skulls and stared at them. I realized that I had become a victim of my own routine this week. I had been trying so hard at work not to make ripples, that I had just become complacent. I had been trying so hard at home to unplug that my flame was growing dim in the process. I was trying so hard to catch up on cleaning and cooking and crafting that I had forgotten to incorporate the magick that can be and is such a part of each activity. Walks with Friz had even become just that…..short trips out to pee and then back inside to ‘catch up.’ images

As I lay there on the leaf covered floor of the woods, I had again forgotten all about Friz. I had left him in his harness and the leash was attached to a low branch. Friz did the one thing he knows to do when he is alone or ignored. I heard one solitary sound……”Bowwooooooooooo.” It is such a pitiful soulful sound that when it comes out, you stop dead in your tracks. When you look at him, you get a look that says, “I really didn’t mean for that sound to come out.” It is a moving back into the primal part of who he is. I unhooked his harness from the leash and moved him closer into me. He was feeling frisky now. He danced around me doing his little play growl. When he finally stopped, he sneezed, blowing out one of the candles. I laughed and realized it was time to have a little fun with the ritual.2013-08-31 21.39.43

I crouched on my hands and knees and Friz did his play-bow in front of me. I responded in kind. We moved and play-growled and wiggled our bodies. It was nice to feel primal….even if it was the primal that a little blue chihuahua feels. We both collapsed onto the leaves…me, breathing hard and Friz panting. We could both feel the sunrise between the trees covering us. I rolled onto my back and Friz crawled onto my stomach (he likes the bounce he feels when he’s on it). I could hear Mama Crow just outside of the woods….but I could also feel her getting closer.

The secrets for the week, I whispered to Mama Crow. She can take them as far away as she pleases….no more hiding in the shadows for me. When I do find myself sitting isolated, you may just hear one lone, solitary “Bowwooooooooo.”

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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 Blasting Rod

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In the wee hours of the morning this morning….before the sun had even thought about waking up, I heard a small noise come from the kennel at the foot of the bed.   My ears perked….not quite sure what the noise was.  I heard it again….a soft and tragic sounding “Bowhooooooooo.”  I hadn’t heard Friz make that sound since he was a puppy and he realized that everyone had left the room and wasn’t paying attention to him any longer.

This morning was not a morning for sleeping in….he longed for the woods this morning…more than any other.  He has always patiently waited for me to open the kennel door snuggled deep into his blankets.  This morning he danced at the door.  I harnessed Friz up, packed up the blackthorn wand that I finished last night into my backpack, took some candles, my crow skull  and my cloak and off to the woods.

We marched along at a brisk pace this morning….knowing there was a purpose ahead of us.  Friz danced the whole way…almost giddy with anticipation.  Maybe there was a little more bounce in my step as we strolled along too.

We got to the woods and made our way inside.  The sun was still not awake yet and the skies carried that smoky misty feel that dawn always does.  The clouds were heavy with the threat of rain, but I knew it would hold off until Friz and I were done.  I settled down, set up the candles and lit them.  Friz decided today to nest himself a little farther from me.  I watched him as he made a nest under one of the trees.  I pulled out the blackthorn wand and placed it in the middle of the candles.  I placed my crow’s skull in front of it.

Over the past few weeks, I have become intimately acquainted with blackthorn.  When a friend told me that he wanted a blackthorn wand, I have to admit that I was a little naive when it came to the magickal attributes of that wood.  Granted, I had heard of blackthorn…with a grandfather who was Irish, you can’t escape the stories of the little people or learning the purpose of a shillelagh.

I delved into research of this wood.  A friend had sent me several long pieces from Ireland.  I liked the feel of the wood in my hand.  It was smooth and sleek.  It was strong…yet dangerous.  When I work on a magickal tool, I like to talk to the material I use.  As I talked to the blackthorn, I realized that with its strength came a protection like no other…an obligation.  This is not a wood with which to play.

In my studies of blackthorn, I found that this wood was used to make the wands of the cunning women.  The purpose was for protection, cursing, purification.  It represents the darker side of the Craft.  Blackthorn is sacred to the Crone aspect of the Goddess…..Often linked with warfare and the Morrigan.  It is representative of the waning and dark moons.  It is also known as the keeper magickal secrets.

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As I held it over the flames of the candles.  I asked the wand for protection to be its primary goal.  As I have said before….life is a balance of dark and light.  It will now be the responsibility of the new owner to embrace both.  This wand carries the power of wolf and crow.  Each have imparted their power to the magick of the wand.

As I sat huddled over the wand, I was given a vision of the cunning men and women of old.  They sat in the circle with me, conversing with me about the strengths and powers that the blackthorn wand held.  Memories of the blood that was shed during the carving of the wand were brought to me.  A part of myself was given in the creation of this beautiful tool of magick.  I picked up the wand and passed it to the ancients.  Each one caressed it and blessed it.  We called on the elements to imbue this wand with the power to draw strength and to repel negativity.

As I laid the wand behind the crow’s skull once again, I felt a small head against my leg.  Never one to be left out of magickal workings, Friz had made his way over.  He sniffed at the wand and then laid down beside me.  Of course my mind raced over the many aspects of blackthorn.  I am very much like this tree.  My life is often twisted and thorny, but it makes me no less strong. In fact, each trial and test that I face strengthens me.  Like the blackthorn, when the outer layer is taken away….my life shows the beautiful depths of color and striations that make it as incredible as it is.  The more the wood is carved and sanded…..even though it is difficult, there is a dark beauty that shows through.  I am just as capable of good or bad as the wand carved from it.  It is in the directing of power that brings the end result.  Everything I do has a purpose.  It is up to me to figure out that purpose and move forward.

I thought about what I had read about the blackthorn tree.  The tree’s leaves turn yellow and shed in the winter leaving a stark black skeleton…what better reminder of the turn of the wheel.  The fruit that the tree bears only ripens after the first frost.  It is after the first trial of winter that brings out the true sweetness of the berry.  In early spring, it shows its delicate flowers peering out from the harshness of the harsh diabolical thorns.  Such a terrifyingly complex tree….but known for its strength and magick.

Wouldn’t you like to be known that way?  Complex, but known for his/her strength and magick?  I hunger for that.  The weathered wiseman has been a long time in the making.  He is a culmination of all of my life’s difficulties and triumphs.  He exudes the wisdom of all of my life’s lessons learned, good and bad.  He has his thorns, but he also offers glimpses of beauty and sweetness.  As I walk more and more days lately with the dark/Crone aspect of the Goddess, and come to understand more and more the turning of the Wheel of the Year….I pull on that wisdom, that history, the magick of the cunning men and women before me…and pull on the power of those animal spirits around me, I find my own magick and power….that I may impart it to those who come after me.

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Blessed Be!

Double, Double, Toil and Trouble…

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The weather this week has been damp. Everything in Atlanta is lush and green….you would almost think you were transported to the countryside of dear old Eire…if it weren’t for the concrete and traffic and buildings and smog. Add to the damp air the beauty of the summer cold….sniffling, snorting and hacking…I refused to be knocked out by this. I had too much to accomplish. So where did I head to in the midst of all of this…yep, that’s right….the woods.

Mosquitoes have been horrible during all this rain and I have been eaten alive. So first and foremost, I let the old hedgewitch come out in me. It was time to make my concoction of a bug repellent. I combined lavender essential oil with rosemary and citronella with a base of jojoba and combined it with a melted beeswax base. Into a tin it went and I had my own version of a bug repellent/ointment. I was the best smelling creature in those woods….best of all, not one mosquito bite! I wore my cloak….the damp just did not appeal to me…and of course the folks around here think I am different anyway. Some of the neighbors embrace my witchiness and others are repelled by it….kinda like coming out all over again. As I was walking Friz one night, a big storm started brewing….a neighbor called out to me over the thunder, “Did you call this in? I laughed and told her that I didn’t do it this time.

Wednesday night, I lay in the bed hating the coughing and snorting….my head pounded and I finally drifted off to sleep. The whole night, I dreamed about being in the woods with the wolves and crows. In the dreams, the wolves were teaching me to hunt and howl….the crows were teaching me to fly. If I close my eyes now, I can still see the faces of each wolf and crow. I remembered recognizing the two leading the shenanigans as the wolf who accompanies me to the woods and Mama Crow. “Get reacquainted with my wild side?” I remember in the dream dancing with my wild friends skirting in and out of the moonlight as the night overtook us….golden eyes shining back at me from behind trees….the rustling of wings in the air.

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When I woke up Thursday morning, I already felt a hundred times better. Maybe all I needed was a little wild time and some animal medicine. Who better than wolf and crow to walk me through the healing of playing in the woods. I got Friz harnessed up and ready for a little trek out into the woods. Even though the clouds above were quite ominous and you could smell rain in the air, it was evident that we both craved this time. With a misting of rain escorting us into the wooded area beyond the condos, we both had a renewed energy about us.

I have been working on a new project lately. It is a wand made of blackthorn wood. It was something that deep in my spirit I felt compelled to do. I have worked with many woods before, but never with blackthorn. I did my research before receiving the wood from a friend in Ireland. I understood that it was a hard wood….and I mean hard. The wood itself has received many drops of my own blood. I researched the history of the ‘blackthorn wand.’ Blackthorn is a very magical sacred wood to Druids and the ancient Celts. Its magical qualities include protection, purification and the ability to repel all negative energy from both your home and your life. This wood has long been associated with the dark aspect of the Goddess, and also represents the waning and dark moon. It also has a strong significance with spirit work.

In preparation for the jaunt to the woods, I had packed the blackthorn wand and my knife into my backpack. Where better to work on this mystical wood than in the same type of element it was born into? As I shaped the wood with my knife and felt the knobs and places where sharp thorns had once been, I pondered over aspects of my own character. Yes, there are still quite a few thorns protruding from me, as well as the dents from storms that have come and gone….but I have become just as strong….just as powerful as the wood my fingers caressed. As I carve and smooth and mold this piece of wood into a magickal tool, I imbue it with all the protection, purification and power against negativity that I can push into it. I quietly laid this tool at the feet of wolf and crow watching them impart their magick into it….wisdom, cunning, and the mysticism that followed the shamanic ancients. I bundled up this treasure, put it in my backpack and picked up Friz and covered him in my cloak as we made our way back to the condo in the rain…..a soft steady rain. Every few steps a small black nose would peek from beneath the cloak just to get a whiff of the dampness.2013-07-05 11.21.27 HDR

When we got inside, I quickly changed into my pajama pants and a tshirt and Friz and I curled up on the sofa. He falls back onto me so that his stomach can be properly rubbed. He is so funny….not so much like a chihuahua, but in many aspects just like a wolf…a very small…likes-to-have-his-belly-rubbed wolf. He never questions the magick, but always relaxes into it….a lesson he is teaching me more and more with each trip to the woods or pond.

These four days I have had off have been very strong magickally for me. I have been making tinctures and tonics and wands and staves. I have felt the power and strength of bonds from miles and miles away. Today, I could have sworn I felt the arms of a dear friend or two wrap around me as I carved and sanded. I have very much felt the power of the ancients with me today. As I walked the complex this evening, I could hear the voices of the old ones in the trees. The frogs welcomed me as I moved toward the pond. I could feel the heartbeat of the earth beneath my feet.

In these hours as the sun goes to sleep, I will light a small fire in my cauldron, apply my flying ointment and journey. Where? Only my heart and spirit knows. Right now….I sit writing, watching a little blue dog asleep in the chair…my chair…the one I bought for reading but rarely get to use. He is tuckered completely out. This week has been full of magick for both of us….now is the time to rest in it. I am one contented witch.

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Blessed Be!

Slipping Through the Open Gate….or Taking Off the Harness and Living the Untamed Life

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Now y’all haven’t heard me talk about our little Bella much.  She is the “wild girl” in our little pack here.  I often let y’all in on Friz’s life and how much he tends to be like me in nature and all the warm fuzzy stuff that he does.  Well….truth be told, Bella is more like that part of me that not everyone gets to see.  She lives life for Bella and Bella alone.  If she wants it, she takes it.  If she wants out, she goes.  If you are in the place she wants to be….you move.  If Bella is a reincarnation of anyone from history, it would have been one of the Egyptian queens or one of those strong women that made history by being just a little naughty.

I love Bella to death…but she can be challenging at times.  She has to be watched like a hawk.  She is the dog that will eat something just because she wanted to know what it tastes like…whether it was edible or not.  Bella takes life by storm and lives every moment like a bat out of hell. 

All of this being said….we have to section the house off with baby gates.  It keeps Bella safe from Bella.  She is on a restricted diet, but one of her guilty pleasures is waiting for my partner to absent-mindedly leave the gate that has access to the cat food open.  So many times I have caught Bella slowly sneaking toward the opening and closer to the cat food…her mouth open in the anticipation of getting a tasty little forbidden morsel.  When she hears “Bella, NO!!” escape your lips, she looks up at you defiantly and in a huff she tromps away.  Bella is determined that it is not she who has been domesticated in this household….and that we are but her minions.  How dare we put restrictions on her life and tell her what she can and cannot do.Photo Oct 13, 6 23 03 PM (1)

So, with all that being said,  I decided to take Bella on an excursion this morning.  We went to the pond.  I put on her little pink fleece jacket….it was bitter cold out and the little lady does like her comfort.  Before I could even get her harness on, she bolted out the door at full force and then on out the gate.  Thankfully it was early, so there was no danger of cars pulling in and out.  As I went outside of the gate calling her name, I looked down to the side and there she sat, wagging her stubby little butt, staring up at me as if to ask, “What took you so long.”  Hmmmmm, this one is too smart for her own good.

I suited her up in her harness and we walked toward the pond.  Her ears were swaying back and forth as she did her little bounce walk.  You could see it in the way she walked…she was going on an adventure….with or without me.  When we got to the pond, I sat down under my friend Oak and started to relax into my routine.  Well, with Bella, there is no routine.  She goes at full tilt.  She wanted to be up and moving.  I decided to try a little experiment (I would not suggest doing this if you don’t know your dog beyond knowing.  I know, for a fact, that Bella will never go too far from me.  She may run, she may dart…but she will stop at a certain point.  This has been proven at the dog park.  She won’t let me get beyond a certain earshot or line of vision.)  I took the leash off of Bella’s harness.  She danced, she leapt, she ran in circles….and she explored.  She sniffed everything.  Every few minutes, she would check back in with me or bring me some odd thing that she had unearthed or pulled out of a patch of weeds.  I had to laugh as I watched this wild child at play.  Hurricane Bella was a force to be reckoned with. 

It made me think….how many times do I sit around and wait for somebody to leave the gate open, or for that matter, take off the harness of day-to-day issues before I run around free of cares and all that burdens me.  I didn’t realize it until this morning, but food was a harness that was holding me back.  It wasn’t until I began my healthier lifestyle choices and watched the fat come off that I started feeling more energetic…that I was able to dance under the moon and not get winded.  I watched that little weiner dog do everything she could on impulse this morning.  I had to admit to myself that my life is too planned.  I can give you a schedule for everything I do….including rituals and playtime. 

I can see the gate opened….right there at the edge of my pasture.  I feel that it is time for me to make a run for it.  I know that right outside of it lies spontaneity and freedom.  It has seemed lately that my brain has felt way too cloudy.  Work hasn’t been hard or stressful for me…it has just been way too busy.  Homelife hasn’t been tense or out of control…it has just been too busy.  I have got to spend more time outside of that gate…unharnessed and ready to laugh and play and just be joyful.  I have all the elements around me that allow for that.  I have a wonderful partner….really great friends….incredible animals who encourage me every day to tap into that part of me that is just as wild as they can be. 

We tend to forget that life today can keep us scheduled to death.  Always doing something that is required of us.  Sometimes we just have to do something because we want to….just because it was birthed into us at the beginning of the age.

That gate is open.  You better run…..NOW!!

Blessed Be!