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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

poppet

 

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

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

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

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

Blessed Solstice, my friends!

Finding Your Way Back To The Magickal Path

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Help me find my way again,

I’m lost and am afraid.

Take my hand Earth Mother,

My confusion now will fade.

Spirit Guides surround me,

Nature’s heartbeat lead.

Show me now the good right path,

Your lessons I will heed.

Water, Fire, Air and Earth

Revive in me your power.

Create in my heart a grand rebirth.

Come to me this hour.

Wolf, teach me where to turn.

Crow, show me how to fly.

Lord and Lady show your peace to me.

Joy, now over take me, no reason now to cry.

Combined with my intention, three times three…

As I will, so mote it be

 

It is no secret that I love the woods.  I love the smell, the feeling of the trees wrapping around you like a wonderful hug by the earth mother.  I love hearing the rustle of the leaves and sticks and dirt under my feet.  I love the sense of security and peace that I find in the woods.

This morning, really early, Friz and I made our way to those woods that have become like a second home to us.  We walked into the opening that has become like the arms of an old friend. For some reason, Friz seemed particularly energetic this morning.  He bounced and pranced through the leaves and debris on the floor of the woods.  I laughed and watched him….right past our normal spot.  I laughed and danced along side of him as we went farther into the woods.  I didn’t even notice the change in the path or the trees or the fact that the woods seemed more dense.

When I finally looked around, I realized one thing.  I had no idea where we were.  We were completely lost in the woods that had become more than a friend to me.  Friz put his nose to the ground…smells of things that weren’t familiar to him either.  We were lost.  2014-05-17 20.03.03

 

Just to be honest, I am not the bravest person in the world…and Friz is kind of a big chicken himself.  Needless to say, every little noise spooked us.  We would hear sticks crack or rustling in the canape of leaves above us and we would go into defensive mode.  Friz would make half-hearted bark sounds and I would tense up.  Something seemed to whir through my head….from deepest crevices of my brain.  When I was a kid, my grandma would tell me that if I ever got lost, to just sit down where I was and someone or something would find me or the spirits of nature would tell me which direction to move in. So I sat down.

Friz was glued to my side.  I unpacked my backpack.  I pulled out my candles, my wolf skull and bones, my crow skull, my Palo Santo wood (a type of incense I got at a Pagan Market…smells a lot like sage with less smoke), and my newest addition, a cat’s skull.  I had brought the cat’s skull into the woods to cleanse it.  It had been found in the side yard of a friend’s house when he was doing some digging.  He sent it to me because he knew that I loved working with animal spirits and that it would be treated with respect.2014-05-17 20.22.29

 

As I opened the door and welcomed in the directions, the elements, my guides, the Lord and Lady…a spitting of rain began working its way through the woods.  I brought my cloak over my face and set Friz in my lap and covered him.  I was surprised that the candles stayed lit.  I moved the smoking Palo Santo stick around the cat skull offering prayers for the spirit of the animal….that, if it was tormented in life or had a harsh death, it’s spirit would peacefully cross over into the summerlands.

I closed my eyes, the smell of the burning incense wood wafting through my nostrils, and I waited.  I waited for nature to speak to me.  I waited for someone or something to come find me and lead me back onto my familiar and comfortable path.  I listened.

In those next moments, I heard a familiar old cackle.  I looked above me and there perched Mama Crow.  She was comfortable.  There seemed to be no distress or rush for her to move.  I took my cue from her.  I continued to cleanse the cat skull.  I place her carefully between wolf and crow.  I thanked the directions and elements.  I blew out the candles and packed everything carefully away.  I stood and watched as Mama Crow flew from tree to tree….Listen to nature…hmmm.  I followed her direction.  It was not a way I was familiar with.tumblr_n58qpyIm7Q1rz4573o1_500

 

I picked Friz up.  I could tell he was tired of walking.  I felt another energy with us.  It shouldn’t surprise me that Wolf joined us.  Normally, wherever there is Crow, there is Wolf.  I could feel Wolf imparting new knowledge to me as we walked.  “Though the path we walk may not be familiar…it is not necessarily the wrong path.  We may end up somewhere that we need to be instead of somewhere we want to be.  Just because you don’t know where you are, doesn’t mean you are lost.  It just means you needed direction…something new…something fresh.  Stop.  Breathe in the Magick. Become acquainted with the newness of the magick around you.  It is ever-changing and always moving.  Sometimes humans just have to stop trying so hard to catch up.”2014-05-17 23.02.21

 

I looked up and saw that the trees were thinning.  I was coming upon the edge of the woods.  Where did I end up?  How far out of my way did I go?  I laughed out loud as I realized that I had come in behind the condo complex….actually even closer to home.  I had not traveled the wrong path at all….just one not so familiar…but one that brought me even closer to where I needed to be all along.

I remember a phrase my grandma used to use quite a bit.  “He went around his elbow to get to his nose.”  This morning I realized that sometimes you need to take that longer path. Wisdom and understanding may just be waiting for you on that path.2014-05-17 21.05.54

 

Blessed Be!

The Gift of Magick

0e381d066b5dd51d017787b16f3eccacYesterday was a day of peace.  Yesterday was a day of renewal. Yesterday was a day of gifts.Yesterday was a day of being a part of all four elements and drinking in the wonder of nature all around me.

The day actually started off rather dismally.  I had gotten so little sleep the night before that I finally just got out of bed at 5am, fed the dogs, put Bella back to bed, and took Friz outside for our weekend witchy time. This morning, I felt the pull of the pond, so Friz and I leisurely walked in that direction.The sky was still a mixture of dark and light (a theme I am honestly getting used to and comfortable with in my own path). As we got closer to the pond, I squinted in disbelief.  I saw a figure in a cloak sitting on a stump close to the water.  Next to the figure was a dog…an all too familiar dog. Friz couldn’t stand it…he had to be near them…and I have to admit, my excitement was hard to contain too.

As we got closer, both the Green Wizard and Calliope turned to greet us. He had a broad genuine smile on his face and her whole body wagged.  It is hard for me to put into words what these small magickal visits do for me. It is almost as if I have a chance to spend fleeting moments with someone who transcends time.The green wizard

“Good Morning, Weathered Wiseman.  We had hoped that we would see you this morning.”  I answered his good morning and sat down in the grass.  Calliope rolled over onto her back with her tongue hanging as far out as it could go.  Friz, being the gentleman that he is, took that opportunity to pounce into the middle of her stomach.  She didn’t flinch.  She only licked him on the top of his head.  “Today is a day of gifts for you, Weathered Wiseman.”  He reached down beside him and brought out a walking stick…but not just a walking stick.  The textures and the feel of it were incredible. The color was rich.  My mouth fell open and I heard him chuckle, “Do you like it?”  ‘Like it’ wouldn’t do justice to what this gift meant.  I stammered, “Oh, you shouldn’t…”  He said, “No…don’t say it.  A gift should never come with a ‘you shouldn’t have.’  When a gift is given, it means only that the person giving it recognized that you needed it.”  I thanked him and told him how much I appreciated the walking stick and then we continued our conversation.2014-05-03 22.07.05

As we talked, he told me that he enjoyed this time of year most.  He explained that this was the time of year that all four elements seem to be most comfortable.  It is this time of year that he is able to feel the strength and peace of God, Goddess, and all manner of animal spirit.  It is in this time of year that his heart melds more with the heartbeat of the earth.  As the sunlight overtook the sky, I could feel myself getting sleepy.  I closed my eyes.  I heard him say, “Rest, Weathered Wiseman, rest.”  When I awoke, I shouldn’t have been surprised to see that the Green Wizard was gone.  He is always in and out with the breeze. I looked at the time on my phone and picked Friz up and ran back to the condo.  I had exactly 30 minutes to be ready to go hiking on Red Top Mountain with my roommate and a friend.2014-05-03 12.01.51 HDR

 

I haven’t been hiking in ages…and yes, it is murder on the body…especially when you don’t realize that you have aged a bit since that last time and your body is completely out of shape. I had the walking stick that the Green Wizard gave me….and thank goodness, too.   Without that walking stick, I would have surely been dragging myself through the trails and ferns.  The one thing that amazed me was the fact that I breathed so much easier on that mountain.  Here at home, I wheeze and gurgle…a combined effect of fat, age, apnea, reflux and smog.  As I walked among the trees, I listened to myself.  Was I out of breath?  Yes.  Was there wheezing and gurgling?  To my amazement, no.

We hiked over hills and through trees.  We observed all manner of wildlife.  As we turned at one part of the trail, we all saw this giant crow.  Our friend mentioned that he had never seen a crow that big.  My roommate chuckled and said, “It’s his fault.  They follow him everywhere.”  Then he turned to me and said, “Don’t call it to us….that thing is as big as a dog.”  I laughed and told him that I have no control over whether or not he follows us, so he just needed to make sure he played nice.2014-05-03 12.14.04 HDR

As we climbed the hills on the trail, it was evident that the lake was coming into view more.  I asked the guys if we could go sit by the water for just a while.  They agreed and we made our way down a trail to the edge of the lake.  Both of the guys with me know that I am a witch…so there is no surprise when I start picking up sticks to make wands out of. But imagine the surprise on their faces when I open up my backpack and pull out candles and skulls and crystals and my own wand.  I had to laugh out loud at the looks on their faces.  “Are you going to do spells here?”  “Well, I really hadn’t given it much thought.  Do you think I should?”  I looked at them with a sideways grin and set everything up.  They went about their business for a little while (taking selfies against the backdrop of trees and water), then they came over to me and asked what I was doing.  “I am quietly enjoying nature and the elements around me.  I am giving thanks for this time with yáll and the heartbeat of the earth beneath our feet.” They quietly sat down on each side of me, closed their eyes and began to breathe slowly.  I looked up at one point to see each of them staring at my wand….so I looked around me and found two sticks that I had collected.  I handed each one and told them that this was a tool that I used to focus intention.  They placed them in their laps the way I had mine and closed their eyes again.  I could feel that wonderful peacefulness washing over all of us.  For those moments that we sat there enveloped in all four of the elements at once….we were concealed in peace and tranquility.  Nothing existed that would cause worry, pain, confusion….only calm.  At that moment, I explained to them that I liked to whisper the names of those close to me into the wind….offering them blessings.2014-05-03 12.10.55 HDR

 

It is in these moments of sharing that I see how truly strong the power of magick is.  It isn’t about becoming all powerful.  It isn’t about knowing or being more than someone else.  It isn’t about ‘see what I can do and you can’t.’ It is about showing others the magick around us and letting them know that they have access to it too.  It takes one simple thing:  Belief.

As we continued to walk the trails, I would point out areas that looked like little fairy mounds….covered in moss and flowers. It wasn’t long before we were all pointing them out to each other.  Yesterday was about allowing everything bothersome to wash away and allowing ourselves to turn our faces to the sun, feel the breeze against our skin, hear the sound of the water around us, and feel the earth beneath our feet…but more than that, to experience joy and laughter and peace.nature worship

Sometimes we just need to lose ourselves in the magick around us forget what the world expects of us.  The brothers and sisters I have in the Craft are a giving group.  When something calls to us for someone…we listen…whether it be a stone, wand, candle, or time.  It is always the perfect gift at the perfect time.

Do yourself a favor this week.  Give someone the gift of magick.  Both of you will benefit from it.

Blessed Be!

Incantations and Curiosities…

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Sticks and stones, fur and bones…

Serpents skin and feathers

Skull of crow and blackthorn’s stick,

Break the chains that tether.

 

Winds I engage to blow away,

Water drown it all…

In Earth it’s buried, deep and still.

Flames around it sprawl.

 

Mandrake, hellebore aconite…

Poison to the core

Raven’s wing and ground wasp’s sting

Drive away forevermore.

 

Lightning, Thunder, Wind and Rain…

Encircle me with power.

Wipe away those things that interfere

At my intention, cower.

 

With all my strength, I do push through

Evil’s held at bay.

Success and magick, all that’s good

Are now my life’s due pay.

 

Funny, just as I put that last line into the blog…the wind whips outside, thunder booms, and lightning flashes.  We were just hit with a gully-washer of a storm.  It always intrigues me, the things that take place when one is fed up.

This week has been a struggle.  Not just a struggle, but one of those weeks where it feels like you have someone standing next to you with the sharp end of a tack pointed toward you, poking you at any moment you find yourself peacefully resting.  I have been poke to the point of feeling raw and irritated and bruised.

I have been in an internship program at work now for three months.  I have pushed myself beyond my comfort levels….I have out-performed those who were years younger than me….I have watched the initial group go from eight to now two people.  Last week and tomorrow, we have been and will be going through assessments to see if we fit the positions available.  My gut feeling Friday told me that I did not do so well on the written part of that particular assessment…but then, I have never tested well.  Sit me down in front of the product and I can show you, with determined accuracy, the things that need to be done.  I have watched as one by one, those who did not perform well, were ushered out the door.

Those of you who are familiar with the Weathered Wiseman know that I am my own worst enemy, my own worst critic, and my harshest competitor.  I have beat myself over the head continually over the past week….I have given myself many more lashes than anyone else could ever deliver.2014-04-27 17.52.37

Last night, I went a friend’s house for a night of playing cards and drinking.  Funny how those who have known you the longest tend to pour sympathy over you…..”Well, you have been in worse spots.” “It isn’t like you haven’t worked hard.  You don’t have anything to worry about.”  It is also amazing how much of a difference a whole bottle and then some of wine will make.

There is always the tender, warm fuzzies that you get from witches when you are feeling sorry for yourself.  Encouraging? Yes.  Supportive?  Yes.  Warm fuzzies?  Yeah, not so much.  LOL!!  One friend, whom I treasure dearly and is always there for me…spoke harsh truth, “Go outside NOW!!  I am sending strength to you on the wind!!  GO OUTSIDE, NOW!!!  The Morrigan HAS SPOKEN!!!”  She knows better than anyone that I gather my strength from the elements….and of course as I stand outside, a strong coolish breeze wraps around me like a hug and a spanking all at once.  I realize that I am a stubborn witch…I also realize that most of the time, I need my ass kicked rather than kissed.

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Yesterday, during the day,  I was in such a funk that I sat inside all day long with the shades closed, cup of coffee in my hands, “Bewitched’ dvd’s in replay mode on the television.  The only thing missing was the big fuzzy robe and thumb sucking.  Friz didn’t know what to do with me. We didn’t go through our usual romp through the woods or pond.  We didn’t lie down in the leaves under the canopy of trees.  There was no backpack with candles, no skulls.  Just re-runs, coffee and chocolate….not even good chocolate.  We are talking Easter leftover chocolate bought on sale in the Kroger candy aisle.  At one point Friz climbed up my chest and looked at me eyeball to eyeball.  If he could have talked, it would have been, “Heifer, get off your butt and walk with me to our private place.  Take your magick stuff and you will feel better.”  Instead, I stayed in my lump until we went to play cards.2014-04-13 19.23.21 HDR

I woke up this morning a little more determined.  Friz did too.  This morning, he headed to the woods.  It was evident that he was going with or without me.  Luckily, I packed my backpack.  I didn’t realize that I had put everything that I could think of in it.  I took out the skulls and bones and stones and feathers and fur and as I addressed the directions and invited the elements in, I sat and quietly started to address my own self pity….my own feelings of inadequacy…my own feelings of depression.  I pulled out a small journal that my friend Jackie gave me and I wrote the spell that started this blog.

I know my own heart.  I know my strengths and abilities.  I know what I am capable of.  I know that I have poured all of my talent and knowledge and drive into this internship.  My only prayer to Lord and Lady is that those around me and those with the decision making power see that.  I have never given anything less than 100%, no matter what it involved.  I don’t do half-assed.  I am not without fault and not perfect, but I am who I am and I pour myself wholly into people and life.  One incident does not define me.

Peculiar…it takes a chihuahua, a handful of boisterous witches….and a bottle and a bit more of wine  to make me realize that the only time the magick won’t work is when I stop seeking it and expecting to see it all around me….and also realizing that it is working and all around me whether I see it and believe it or not.grey_wizard_2014_01_01_14_by_skydancer_stock-d70elsn

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!

Though the Sorrow May Last Through the Night…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessed Be!

I Am the Weathered Wiseman, and I Live at the Edge of the Forest…

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For as long as I can remember…I have always retreated to the woods.  It didn’t matter if things were good or bad….the woods called me to a place that I could not access anywhere else.

I remember when I was younger, 8 or 9, my mom would have my grandma tell me the stories about the Booger Woods to try to keep me from disappearing amongst the trees behind the house.  Little did she know that later on, my grandma was pulling me aside to tell me that as long as I walked hand in hand with the tree spirits, the four-leggeds and the winged ones, that they would never allow anything to hurt me.

Most of the time, I would pull my shoes off at the back door and make a run for those woods.  I have always been able to feel the call of the trees and critters that lived there.  I never knew any kind of fear of any of the animals there.  I can close my eyes and remember sitting there among deer and foxes and birds galore.  Isn’t it funny?  Children don’t know that they aren’t able to do things until adults tell them that it just isn’t possible.  I never knew that it wasn’t possible to carry on conversations with my four-legged and winged friends.  I would sit for hours talking to an old fox that my mom was quite sure was vicious.  I would take bread out by the buckets and feed the crows and all the other birds.  I never knew that a crow was supposed to be a nuisance.  To me, they were friends.  I remember how mad my dad used to get with me because most of the time I had a ton of birds following me.

One animal that always called to me as a child was the hedgehog.  I remember a cousin of mine had one and everybody thought that that little hedgehog was mean.  I have never been afraid of any animal…now that doesn’t mean that I didn’t approach carefully and with the utmost respect…and was absolutely enthralled with this little hedgehog.  I went over to my cousins one afternoon and we were sitting in the floor.  That little hedgehog was out running around.  He ran up onto my leg and curled up in my lap and went to sleep.  My cousin couldn’t believe it as I sat there and rubbed that little hedgehog’s belly as he snoozed on my lap.128326692466252947

I preface with all of that information, so that I could talk about my trip to the woods yesterday.  Friz and I slept in a bit yesterday, so the sun was already up when we headed outside.  I had my cloak on and the backpack packed.  It is so funny to watch how excited that little blue dog gets when he sees a loaded down backpack.  He took care of whatever business he needed to take care of before we plodded down the sidewalk.  As we got closer to the edge of the woods, the energy of nature itself bathed us from head to toe.

I unloaded the backpack and placed the candles and the skulls and my cauldron.  I felt that incense needed to be burned today, so I pulled out some the wonderful woodsy, earthy incense that a friend sent me.  As I sat there in front of the cauldron with my legs crossed, Friz crawled into the hollow that my legs made and curled up.  I should have taken that as an omen of things to come.  Wolf and Crow energy manifested quickly….but there was energy coming forth that had not been there with me before.  I recognized this energy from my childhood….it was hedgehog energy.tumblr_mn2bcgPhOW1sn1e5oo1_500

The woods seemed to dance around me.  The birds sang even more excitedly welcoming this new energy.  The trees swayed rhythmically to welcome our new friend.  I thought that it was no coincidence that Friz seemed to pull himself into an even tighter ball as he napped between my legs.   I leaned back and soaked up the sun peeking through the leaves of the trees above.  My hands were flat against the earth and I could feel her wonderful soothing heartbeat against my palms.  It felt as if I was seeing everything around me with new eyes.  I inhaled deep and could feel that wonderful earthy, woodsy incense pulling deep into my chest….building a strength and hope.  I could feel it pulling up wonderful memories of past times of playfulness and I had to take my shoes off and run my toes into the dirt of the floor of the woods.  Even though it was chilly out, there was something that kept pulling me closer and closer to the earth.

I cleaned up and Friz ambled around me smelling the incense and the skulls.  We walked leisurely  back to the condo and I settled down onto the couch….I had to look up hedgehog energy and symbolisms.  This is what I found:

The hedgehog is symbolic of fertility and being connected to the earth. It’s belly is close to the Mother (earth, that is) and this close proximity is symbolic of its connection to earth and all that is fertile. The hedgehog’s tendency to curl up in the fetal position is also a message of centering, and connecting with the source.

Further, central Asia and parts of Iran associated agricultural abundance, fertility and the gift of fire to the hedgehog. In these cultures it is considered a solar power animal, and is strongly connected to the energy and vitality of the sun. This may be further understood when we think of the hedgehog’s splayed spikes look much like the spanning rays of the sun.

Being a nocturnal creature, the symbolism of the hedgehog deals with intuition, psychic ability, prophetic dreams and visions. This is because the night deals with concepts that are cloaked in shadow – a realm that is not altogether clear. That the hedgehog’s active time is at night is symbolic of “second sight.”

Another testimony to its spiritual power is the hedgehog’s natural resistence to snake venom. This is carries extreme importance with many Native American Indian tribes and is seen as a symbol of victory over evil. This attribute is also a portent of resurrection, life after death, or defeating death completely.hobb5

This little critter packs a powerful punch!  So many things to learn from it.  I appreciate what the Lord and Lady have given me and helped me to nurture in my relationships with animals as I have grown in the Craft…..but I do miss sometimes the innocence of childhood.  I talk to the animals around me all the time, but fear of other humans and what they may do to them keeps them from getting too close.  I miss the days of lying barefoot under a canopy of trees and chattering away with the fox and the deer (and the one my mom hated) the snake.  I have had it proven to me over and over that their energy seeks me out, but still I miss the contact.  They teach me constantly.

Blessed Be!tumblr_mubrajT6PH1rjdnouo1_500

Imbolc: Fanning the Flames of Hope

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Tomorrow is Imbolc.  The wheel of the year seems to be turning faster and faster.  It seems that just yesterday we were celebrating the Solstice.  Here in Georgia, as I sat in preparation for Imbolc, we were hit by a snow and ice storm.

Most of Atlanta sat in gridlock because of lack of preparation….no blame to throw here…just lack of preparation.  I had friends who had to abandon their cars and walk five miles and more to get to shelter.  One friend walked eight miles, stopping for coffee at any open convenience store or grocer.  His husband tracked him on his IPhone as he walked.

Through this ordeal, the world either laughed at us here in the south…or they empathized and prayed.  To those who laughed, I have one thing to say. Just remember, “What is normal for the spider, is chaos for the fly.”  The one thing that constantly rang through the minds of many southerners was the hope of just getting home.  The time we were in our cars, walking, fighting the bitter cold….one thing danced in front of us, guided us through the fear…..the hope of the home-fire.

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I got home before my partner did that day.  I called him to see when he was leaving work.  He told me each time that it would be soon.  The last time, I told him to leave then….don’t question me or argue.  I sat on pins and needles knowing that some people had already been stalled on the side of the road.  I walked out into the courtyard and looked up between what I call my ‘Cernunnos Tree.’  I breathed into the icy air.  Please keep him safe….keep them all safe.  I stood there listening to the silence that only a snowfall can bring.  It is the only time that sound is absorbed into nature.  Our complex, which is normally noisy and boisterous and never silent, suddenly stood stock still…each person, animal, and machine bowing to the power that Nature herself holds.

Wednesday and Thursday, everyone waited in hopes of winter being melted away.  Schools were still closed….people still could not get back to their offices.  The cars they had abandoned were still glued to the side of the road by ice.  My own hips and knees were sore from navigating through the ice when the dogs had to pee.  My little blue chihuahua loves his time outside, but resigned himself to the pee and run….if he stayed outside a little too long, he started to shake all over.  The habit now was standing over the space heater holding him until he stopped shaking.2014-02-01 14.40.24

On Wednesday, I ventured out to see how the roads around the complex fared.  On my walk, I encountered a little bird sitting up against the snow shivering.  My first thought was that it was sick and would probably die, but I had to pick it up and try to help it.  It hopped on my hand and I placed it inside my coat, next to my chest to warm it up.  As it warmed up, it chirped.  I took it out of my coat and watched as he flew up toward one of the taller trees.  He just needed to be warmed up a bit.

Here in Atlanta, there were people walking the highways with hot chocolate, food and supplies for those who were stranded.  Grocery stores were staying open all night long to give those walking refuge from the cold.  Compassion ran rampant.  Even if bodies were shaking from the low temperatures….the hearts were warmed beyond measure.  Just one small offering is all it takes to start hope brewing.

This morning was the first day I have been able to get to the woods since the big ice-over.  I walked out with a little blue chihuahua wrapped snugly in my cloak.  Everything I needed was packed into my backpack.  We got to our place in the woods and the first thing I did was build a small fire in my cauldron.  I have a little pyre of rocks that I used to set in on.  The candles were placed to each side…the wolf and crow skulls given their normal places.  We sat directly in front of the burning cauldron.  As I closed my eyes, I could feel the heartbeat of the Earth Mother.  I could feel her belly brimming with newness….ready to be birthed.  I whispered to her that not once have I hated the winter or wished it away….it is necessary for the beginnings anticipated…but I thanked for what is to come.candles

As I sat there, I placed my hands on the ground.  I could feel the seeds, grasses and flowers yawning and stretching as they prepare for the coming spring.  The Earth Mother made them a promise…and she intended to fulfill it completely.

She made us that same promise.  I know you feel it.  There is something welling up inside of you….I know I feel it.  There is something new and wonderful and joyful ready to burst forth.  For some, this winter has been a season of sorrow….for some, a season of rest and regrouping.

For those moving through sadness….the universe has been working together with the spirits around you to help you walk out of the pain and crying.  You have to be willing to move past the winter.  I know from losing my own partner many years ago, that sometimes we become too comfortable in our mourning clothes.  There is joy around us, but we have to be willing to open ourselves to it.

For those resting….it is time to rise up and get moving.  There is magick out there ready for you to create it.  Put your hand against the trunk of the tree….that isn’t just the heartbeat of the tree you feel.  It is matching your heartbeat…it is joining in your magick to make powerful things happen.

I reworked my home altar today.  There were new things to be added…gifts from those who have added magick to my own life this year. There were things that had to be removed….gifts from those who have chosen to throw their magick to the side of the road.  It is a time for new beginnings.

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This Imbolc has given me something that I hadn’t counted on.  I have received a new hope for who I am.  It has purposed in me a reason for holding my partner just a little bit tighter…the gift of laughter and love and compassion.  It has shown me that things around me are always going to be temporal…I should cherish every moment, every person, every animal that comes into my life.  As I sit here typing with a little blue chihuahua on my lap licking at the side of my face, I lean into the warmth of the hearth fire.  I don’t look back in disappointment at the things that have happened, but I look forward in hope of the magick of things yet to come.

Blessed Be!2014-02-01 15.23.07

The Heart of the Season

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The Wheel of the Year keeps turning.  It seems that just yesterday, we celebrated Samhain….then we watched as the world celebrated everything it was thankful for.  Now, we are looking toward the Winter Solstice and Yule.  Our homes and altars are all decorated with greenery and pine cones.  We smile to ourselves as we light the candles on our Yule log.

We bake and we add more lights and we run to the mall and we run to the grocery store and we run to party after party.  We stand in line at Target and find ourselves getting more and more agitated.  “Can’t that cashier go any faster?  Doesn’t she realize that I have a party I have to go to in two hours and that is not nearly enough time to get ready?”  We give a slight smile to the person out on the corner collecting for charity.  Do we put money in the bucket?  Sometimes….but we have to keep every extra penny to buy gifts for friends and family.  For the month of December, we forget to listen to the heartbeat of the earth.  It may be a tiny bit more faint than normal, but the heart of the earth still beats.

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Yesterday, I went to the grocery store to pick up a few items.  I hurriedly picked up the things I needed because, of course, I had plans for later in the afternoon and evening.  I run with my cart to the cashier and I end up standing behind a little old woman who was standing there counting her pennies.  I looked at the order in front of me, which included generic Ensure, a loaf of bread, cat food and bagged beans.  Apparently, she didn’t have enough money and asked the cashier if she could take the Ensure off of the order.  In that moment, my heart broke.  I couldn’t stand the thought of this little old woman walking out of that store without everything she needed.  I put my hand on her shoulder and asked her if she would mind me paying for her groceries and if we could go get a few extra things.  I told her that she reminded me of my grandma and that I was missing her a lot this time of year.  We went back through that store arm in arm and I could feel the earth’s heartbeat as we talked and laughed.

My grandma used to love to go barefoot….even in the winter.  She told me that the reason she loved being barefoot was because she was able to feel the Great Mother’s heartbeat better.  I have found that to have so many meanings as I think more about it.  It was in making a part of herself more vulnerable that she was able to feel the Great Mother stronger.  I had to stop yesterday and see something outside of myself….be willing to feel the heart of someone else.

I got up this morning and went to the woods….it was wet and cold.  I could feel the breath of spirit on me as I led that little blue chihuahua through the morning mists deeper into a world that he and I have become so familiar with.  When we cross the threshold into ‘our’ woods, we feel spirit, ancestors, animal spirits….we become lost in a time when magick danced through forests freely.  We get caught in that energy and feel more at home than we do in our comfy cottage-like condo.

I get everything set out as usual….skulls, candles, and herbs.  I covered myself in my cloak in front of it all and rolled onto my stomach.  I put my hand on the earth and my ear to my hand.  I could feel the cold of the ground permeating my hand.  In the silence, I could hear the breathing of my little blue dog…but more importantly, I could hear the heartbeat of the earth.  As I lay there lost in the wonder and simplicity of this magickal moment.  I committed, to the Lord and Lady, not to lose the lessons I have learned about this time of year.  I lay there in silent meditation….opening my heart to everything that needed to be taught to my spirit.  I heard Mama Crow and Wolf to the sides of me.  I watched as wolf circled and finally laid down.  Mama Crow landed on the ground beside him and nestled in his tail.

I reminded by them both that this season is a time of rest before the regeneration.  It is time to feed the spirit and heart.  This is the time of year that the earth slows down.  This is when the roots of the plants grow….when the plant produces the beginnings of the buds.  This is the time of year when the internal work is done for the external explosion of spring.

I called on the power of the elements and the Lord and Lady to give me heart and spirit to listen to all things around me.  This is the time when temperatures plummet and animals seek shelter.  My courtyard and surrounding areas are set for any that may need comfort from the elements.  You will find boxes and blankets all over in anticipation of winter visitors.  There are bird feeders and areas for the squirrels to eat….places for stray cats and pooches to dine in secret.  I have seen other neighbors adding to the areas.

There are people in need all around.  I wish to walk in compassion this season.  I wish to nurture kindness.  The homeless person sitting in the cold needs warmth…..coffee, a blanket.  Starbucks here has a program going where you can give money for coffee so that if anyone who can’t afford it comes in for coffee, they can get it at no charge.  If you want to jump start your heart…volunteer at a soup kitchen.  Most of the people that show up are no different from you.  The only difference may be a missed paycheck.homeless

 

It is time for us to “take off our shoes” and feel the heartbeat of the earth.  My goal for this holiday season is to keep things simple, give more of myself, love with complete abandon, and let the magick happen around me.

Blessed Solstice, Blessed Yule, and Blessed Be!

May you spend this holiday season dancing to the song that your heart sings!YB-yule-ball-238849_1024_768