Becoming the Keeper of Your Own Flame

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This morning was indeed a glorious morning.  I was up before the sky goes from midnight blue to sunrise pink.  I did something this morning that made my time in the woods seem like a spa day.  I packed a thermos full of dark rich espresso flavored with stevia and hazelnut creamer.  As I led Friz down that familiar path, I could feel the warmth of the thermos pressed against my back from my backpack.

As we settled down onto the ground, I pulled that warm to the touch thermos out of my backpack, and as I unscrewed the top, I could see the steam escape.  Wonderful scents of cream and hazelnut and strong coffee wafted toward my nostrils.  In that moment, I couldn’t resist joining that joyous dance which is coffee.

I believe that all things happen for a reason.  There is magick to be found in all situations.  As I was dusting my bookshelf this week, one particular book leapt from the shelf and onto the floor in front of me.  This book is titled, “Random Thoughts n’ Lotsa Coffee.”  This wonderful book came to me through a dear friend in the fall of 2013.  As I leafed through the pages, I would find myself smiling or chuckling as I remembered when I first read this book by author J.V. Manning.

As I began to re-read the entries, I came across one that resonated deeply in my spirit.  This entry, “Only in Silence, Can You Hear,” speaks of taking a step back…removing yourself and allowing yourself to live life instead of allowing life to go on automatic pilot.  In that entry, the author herself was dealing with some storms in her own life…but think about it, even when storms aren’t surfacing, how often do we live on automatic pilot?

I know in my own life, each day has seemed to become more about rushing from one happening to another, barely taking time to breathe, let alone still my mind.  We are constantly bombarded with work issues, home issues…just the daily taking care of business.  Somewhere in that busy-ness, we are expected to nurture our own spirit, work splendid magickal workings, and take care of the needs of others around us.

As Imbolc approaches, I have been reading more about the goddess Brigid and who she is.  She is goddess of the land.  She is the goddess of peace. She is the goddess of the home fires.  She is the goddess of healing.  She is the goddess of contemplation.   All of these are things that I need to take to heart as the next part of winter moves upon us.  flamehand

For some reason….and I don’t know why…I always kind of kept it in the back of my head that it was the responsibility of the goddess to keep my fires “stoked,” so to speak.  I would continue running around like a chicken with my head cut off and scream up into the trees, “Stoke those fires within me, goddess!”  Then I would wonder why I would burn out faster than a Qtip soaked in pig fat.

This week has been a lesson in taking time.  Time for me…stopping and listening to the silence around me.  It is in that time that my spirit, my very soul is able to speak.  It is in that time that I am able to listen.  I have been using my sacred space that I created…to most it would seem like a large closet, but to me, it is a refuge.  A place where my heart can hear and listen.  It was in this time of separation and silence that  I was able to ask the goddess to show me the heart of someone whom I hadn’t given a proper chance.  It was in those moments of solitude and quiet that I was able to hear her tell me to look at this person’s heart…nothing more, nothing less.  It was in that silence that my heart opened to who this person truly is and the potential they hold.

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We have to take time to take care of our own spirits.  Life has become a whirlwind around us.  If we don’t make the time for those small, seemingly insignificant moments where we are allowed to sip on a cup of coffee and process life around us, then we have become machines.

This morning, as I leaned against that comfortable old tree with that little blue chihuahua in my lap and my hands wrapped around a thermos lid full of coffee, I closed my eyes…I listened as my own voice broke the silence…”Let me be real slow to anger…Let me speak blessings…Let me look on each day and each circumstance with gratitude…Let me always be honest to a fault, with myself first and then to others.  Let me be a vessel of peace and healing…Give me the strength to always fan the flame within my own spirit first and then to help to fan the flame within others.”

In that moment, I felt a warmth from the top of my head to the soles of my feet.  I don’t know if it was the coffee, the goddess…all I know is that at that moment, the hearth fires within my very soul were burning strong.

The Magick has come easier this week.  I have learned that sometimes it isn’t about creating the spell…it is about listening to everything around you and letting the spell create itself.  Magick is weaving itself around us all the time.  It is a living breathing thing that is constantly moving and constantly changing…and just waiting for us to catch up to it.  If we could only learn to stop trying to outrun it.

Blessed Be!

 

 

Here is the link if you are interested in a copy of “Random Thoughts n’ Lotsa Coffee”

http://www.amazon.com/Random-Thoughts-Lotsa-Coffee-Collection

 

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Everyone Has a Story…

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Our lives are a collection of stories.  Truths about who we are, what we believe, what we came from, how we struggle and how we are strong.  When we can let go of what people think, and own our story, we gain access to our worthiness–the feeling that we are enough just as we are, and that we are worthy of love and belonging.

–Dr. Brene Brown–The Hustle for Worthiness

This time of year, we are regaled with every type of story and legend that one could imagine.  From childhood, we are taught the legend of Santa Claus.  We are told of this large, big-hearted man dressed in a red suit who watches every move we make.  As witches and pagans, we tell and re-tell the stories of the Goddess and the Holly King and the return of the light when the solstice comes upon us.

As I walked through the stores at the mall this weekend, I saw stacks and stacks of storybooks.  There was everything from “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” to “Grimm’s Fairy Tales.”  As I walked haggardly through the aisles, I started people watching.  I wondered what the stories were behind the faces of the people passing me by.

A dear friend of mine from back home came to mind.  She was a strong, determined woman.  You see, she had survived a concentration camp in Germany.  She was a singer in her younger days and when the Nazi regime took power, her mother made the daughters bleach their hair platinum so that they looked ‘more German.’  She traveled the German countryside by bicycle to avoid the SS soldiers.  One day, she had taken a route she had taken many times over.  She was stopped by a Nazi soldier. Her Jewish features would betray her to this soldier and she was sent to Dachau concentration camp.  Because of her musical background, she was used as entertainment for the soldiers.  At night, she would sing to soothe the nerves of the children imprisoned.  She would tell stories of how women who were able to hold on to one piece of treasured jewelry (including her own mother’s diamond) would swallow the jewelry first thing in the morning, then with the evening bowel movement, clean the jewelry and hold onto it for dear life as they slept.  This beautiful woman was and is a survivor.  She will tell you that is by faith and determination that she was spared.  It is the same determination that you see in every part of her life today.  It encompasses every fiber of her being.

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As I walked through the woods this morning in the wee hours, I thought of my own story.  Mine is a story entwined with many things that children should never be expected to endure, but it is also woven together with magick.  When I think back, even in the days of the sexual abuse, I can see where magick came to the rescue.  Even in those days, I was being taught by the Lord and Lady how to bring vision and intent to the front of my mind.

I was reminded that even in the midst of the deepest depressions, I was being guided by Crow magick.  I was being taught not to dwell inside myself for too long, but in those times of depression, to reach outside of myself and toward others. It was in the times of my darkest depressions that I was able to be the biggest help and guidance to others.

I watched Mama Crow this morning hopping from tree to tree.  I watched as Friz sought patches of non-existent sunshine as a soft drizzle fell on us. I lifted my face into the light mist and thought about the fact that the darkness was receding bit by bit and that the sun was returning.  I visualized the goddess rising from her sleep dressed all in white, silver and pale blue.  She stands before the Horned God and offers her hand to him.  They begin a slow waltz across the wooded floor carpeted with leaves and debris.  As the light becomes stronger, the dance becomes faster…raw and wild.  At the end of the dance, the maiden becomes heavy with child…ready for the next turn of the wheel.  Her story…always continuing…a circle…never truly ending.2014-12-20 18.26.16

My story continues…with every step I take…every breath.  I am the only one who can decide that the pages stay blank.  My book of shadows is filled with little reminders of who I am:  feathers and spells, things I have found on my journeys, pictures that I love…things that all tell my story.  To anyone else who ever found it….it would seem a book filled with useless trash…but it is me.  It shows that I, just like my dear friend who survived the concentration camp,  I am determined….I am a survivor.  Don’t we all have to escape from our own prisons daily?  Don’t we all have to swallow those things we find valuable sometimes for the sake of others?  Don’t we have to dig through crap on a daily basis?  My story swirls with magick.  It holds adventure and excitement….love, power and magickal creatures untold.2014-12-17 23.07.35

An old friend died this past week.  I got to know her when I was working on a Lakota reservation years ago.  She would tell me stories of stories that her mother had told her of life after the white man invaded the Lakota way of life.  She would talk of the strength of her people…she would talk of the power of the Great Spirit…and she always talked of where she was going tempered by the experiences of where she had been.  Her eyes sparkled…her spirit danced.  Oh how I loved the heart of this warrior…stronger than any male counterpart.  I can see her dancing across the summerlands…this warrior doesn’t carry a shield.  She carries with her the story that she created and engaging anyone willing to listen.

What is your story?  I would love to hear it?  Weave your magick for me.  My email is: weatheredwiseman@yahoo.com

Blessed Be!2014-12-20 18.28.16

I Finally…Finally Found Me

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This week was a whir of activity…as most weeks closer to the holidays tend to be.  Not only are we heading into our busy season at work, but the weekends are filled with being dragged from store to store by my partner, who has to buy Christmas gifts for his family…not only buy, but touch everything in the stores.  I spent alot of time today sitting on benches in the middle of malls with many, many cups of Starbucks in my hands.

This morning started by getting up early to take a very whiny mini dachshund to the vet for a 3 year rabies vaccine.  While we were sitting in the lobby, I heard the woman next to me complaining because now she couldn’t afford to get her new weave because the county was making her get her dog a rabies.  I felt sorry for that dog.  I looked at it and it looked as if it had resigned itself to its station in life long ago.  Afterward, we went to breakfast at a local diner where I got to listen to the couple beside us gripe about what a bother the holidays were.   After that….the mall.  Shoppers Visit The Westfield Shopping Centre In Stratford As Traders Are Boosted By The Increased Olympic Footfall

Most days it can be all too easy for me to live a hermit-like life…hiding myself from human-kind and socializing only with the four leggeds and the winged ones.  I was in a state of over stimulation listening to the children screaming to their mothers and fathers about what they wanted for Christmas.  Parents screamed back at the kids…it was an environment that oozed with the holiday spirit.

When we got home, one would think that time for relaxation would be at hand.  One would be wrong.  Of course, everything that had been left undone when we left this morning had to be done.  Dishes needed washing, laundry, baths for the dogs.  When this was all accomplished, I plopped down on the sofa…wrung out and useless like an old dishcloth.

As I prepared for a long lazy night of staring at the Christmas tree and drinking wine with Friz at my side, I felt her calling.  It was almost as if I was being wooed…my ears were being caressed with her song.  I had not spent time with the moon.  I leave my pajama pants on and grab a few things along with my backpack and cloak.  As I head out the door, I feel something against my leg.  How could I forget my little guard dog…my minuscule wolf.  I scoop him up and away we go.

Tonight we went deeper into the woods than we have ever been.  I felt the need to disappear from the world…if only for a small amount of time.  As the woods became less and less familiar, so did the noises surrounding me.  There were more scurrying noises…more wings beating against the air…more shifting in the trees…and howling in the distance.  I took my cues from Friz…ever at the alert, but never pushed to fear.  We sat down in a moist, leafy area.  I brought out the things I had brought with me…the crows skull, a new seed pod to use as a tealight holder, my crow claw ring, my Morrigan dreamcatcher that a friend made for me…and blackberry moonshine.  I needed to charge pieces of a wand I am creating and thought that blackberry moonshine and sweet bread would be a fitting offering.2014-12-06 22.20.38

 

My mind was racing (once again)…but this time to something that my dear friend Maluna and I were talking about.  This season, for her, is a thriving time…she glows in this turn of the wheel.  For me, it has always been a waning time…a time to conserve my energy…like the big bear who hibernates in the winter…I feel sleep and regrouping trying to overtake me. I have been reminded by Maluna this week that we are what we allow ourselves to become.  While peace and calm are good….this is a time of rebirth.  We get the opportunity to become new and improved.

I watched in the mall today as a teenager tried walking up an escalator the wrong way.  I watched him huff and puff as he struggled to get to the top…only to be brought right back to where he started.  He finally became frustrated and gave up.  As I sat in an unfamiliar part of the woods tonight, I pondered, “Am I doing the same thing?  Am I wasting energy on things that don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things?”

I am wasting energy on things that don’t matter.  I have been guilty of letting the opinions of those who don’t really know me, bother me.  I have put far too much energy into neighbors who are far too stupid to realize how inconsiderate they are.  I am like a dog chasing its own tail.  Once I catch it and bite it, I have only hurt myself in the long run.English-Bulldog-on-back_shutterstock_58565428

I realized sitting under that glorious full moon tonight that far too often I have been wearing the Lord and Lady like the cloak on my back….putting them on and taking them off as it suited me.  I was almost haunted by the words that Maluna force fed to me earlier in the week after I had vented about a situation I didn’t like:

You have a wand.  That is more powerful.  I knew that tonight.  I felt that tonight, as before in those situations.  You have to let the magick…the Morrigan lead.  You have to become her.  You can.  You blend to the point there is no line.  You become what you believe.  You have to take that next step.

As these words rang through my mind over and over again tonight, something happened.  The time for preparation is over, as is the time for regrouping.  It is now time to act.  The wait is over.  I stood under that chilly glowing orb above me.  I opened my arms and I spoke loud enough to scare anything questionable in those woods away.  “I AM READY!  BECOME ONE WITH ME, WARRIOR GODDESS! I POUR OUT MYSELF THAT YOU MAY POUR IN!”

A prayer was shared with me today…use it.  Use it as a spell, a mantra, a chant…Just use it!  Isn’t it time that we all embrace who we truly are, what we are truly called to, and learn to become what we believe?2014-12-06 10.37.42

I was asked a question tonight, “How may I regain the spirit I had in me that made me feel I could accomplish anything?”  That spirit never left. We let everything else in our lives cover it, bury it…but it is still there.  How long has it been since you gave in to it with complete abandon?  There is still time.  Embrace who you truly are…become one with those you call on.  Dance….sing….fight….and as my dear friend Maluna would say, “If you live in fear, fear is all that will ever manifest.” Step

Blessed Be!

You Can Blame It On the Moon…She Started It

 

 

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The pull of the full moon was strong this week.  I keep up with the phases of the moon on a regular basis, but this week, I could tell the full moon was powerful without the use of phases or almanacs or signs.  The moon revealed herself this week through nature…not nature as related to trees and the outdoor element, but through the nature of people.

Funny, the derivation of the word ‘Lunacy’ comes from the response of people’s spirit, nature, moods and energies to the moon phases.  “Moonstruck” is what this word meant in Latin.  I got a good strong taste of it this week.

Let me preface this by saying that I have had to implement some major lifestyle changes this week.  After a trip to the ER last weekend, I was told that if I didn’t put ‘healthier lifestyle choices’ into place, that my partner might be waking up next to a dead body sooner than later.  That was both a jolt and a slap in the back of the head at the same time.  Of course, my thought process on this was, “Ok, let’s do this.”  I didn’t give myself a choice….I didn’t look at other options…it just has to be done.

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Dieting can be stressful enough as it is, but when you have to allow for everyone else’s feelings and how they are responding to major changes, it can become even more stress inducing.  Tuesday night, my partner and I had a huge fight….about stupid things.  It boiled down to one thing, he was scared.  He wasn’t just scared about the fact that if I didn’t make changes, I wouldn’t be here long, he was scared of what was to come.  He has grown comfortable with me being heavy.  He has become used to my lethargy and lack of motivation.   Change can definitely be hard on the person that it directly affects, but it can also be a challenge for those indirectly affected too.

I normally try not to go to bed angry, but I did.  I stewed all day Wednesday.  When I got home from work Wednesday, I was still irked….perturbed.  As stood outside, I called on the wind.  Might have been just an eensy bit of a mistake….the elements do tend to feed off of our energies. The wind picked up and whipped and lashed and became cold quickly.  I didn’t have one bit of issue with that….it fit my mood.  Rather than go into the condo right away, I decided to walk into the woods.  I leaned against a tree…I sat down on the ground as my back rolled down the bark of the tree.  I knew I needed to release that anger.  It accomplished nothing…the argument was stupid.  It was an argument rooted in fear.  I utilized the power of the wind to blow that anger off of me.

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Did we make up?  Yes.  Was there understanding? Yes.  More than anything, though, it was about release….letting that energy flow out and away from us.

As I took Friz into the woods this morning, my mind raced.  This week was a week full of anniversaries of deaths, birthdays of those who have gone on, high energies and emotions.  As we settled down on the ground, I could feel the coolness of the earth beneath me.  The heartbeat is faint. The earthmother is in her death-sleep…waiting for spring.  Friz climbs into the circle inside my legs.  He curls in tight and looks up at me with sleepy eyes.  I rub under his cheek and leans into it and sighs deeply.  I start to rub his body with long sweeping strokes…breathing in and out deeply as I do.  His body completely relaxes…his trust for me is evident by the way his body feels against me.  It is much the same way I feel when I lean against a tree or lie against the ground.Spoolknitting silver thread and spool diy necklace

My friend Cindy said it best,

We together are a tapestry…but one silver thread connects the Goddess and you.  If it’s cut…all will unravel.  Enforce it tonight…make it strong.

In that moment in the woods, I realized that it was all about release.  As I released my own energy into the body and spirit of my little blue chihuahua, I felt his own energy meet mine.  Together…combined with that of the Goddess, the Earthmother…we felt the scales of emotion move into balance.  This morning was about my friend, my comrade and companion…who never seems to ask for anything.  His happiest moments come from just being close to me.  As we made our way back to the condo, I made a commitment…today would be about release.  I would pour my energy into those who needed it most.2014-04-13 19.23.21 HDR

 

We had planned last night to go today to the Atlanta Pet Expo.  It was a fun way to get to see other people’s animals and to see pet foods and products.  As we pulled into the parking lot, I could already feel the animals pulling on my energy.  As we walked, I would stop and talk to those dogs that seemed to call out to me.  We wandered through booth after booth…the newest cat litters, pet clothes, grain free dog foods… as we visited the booths and I stopped for the different pets, we could see the rescue areas in the distance.  I could feel the pull.

Years ago when I worked with holistic vet, I was trained and attuned in Reiki…I started the training focusing on humans, but my final trainings and attunements concentrated on animals.  I can and will do Reiki for humans, but would rather and feel more at ease working with animals.  As I rounded the corner of the first lot of rescue cages…I felt that little nudge…I could hear my inner voice telling me that now it was time for release….and so it started.  As I moved from cage to cage, from dog bed to cat bed, I performed Reiki on each one of the rescues I encountered.

The stresses and fears that sometimes our pets and familiars feel are sometimes enough to drive us crazy…not knowing how to fix those things.  The stresses and fears of those in limbo…shifted from foster home to foster home…waiting for that one person or family that will love and watch over you for the rest of your life…so many animals wound tighter than an overused wristwatch.

I slowly started to release my energy into them…one by one.  Sometimes the emotions that overtook me were overwhelming.  I left more than one animal with tears streaming down my face.  No.  I can’t save them all, but I can impart a bit of my own magick into them.  Many come into this world because of the carelessness and selfishness of us and then become throwaways.2014-11-08 22.47.16

I turned around to see a little chihuahua shivering in his kennel.  So much fear was present.  I had to start slow.  I rubbed his back through the bars.  He relaxed.  I rubbed more….he leaned back, sitting on his rear and eyes closed.  Then I took him out.  As I massaged and cuddled and poured into this little guy, he started making a low moaning sigh.  I finished and put him back into the kennel with a prayer that soon he would know the comfort of a lap and the warmth of sleeping next to someone who would love him completely.  With tears streaming, I silently wished I owned a farm where the leftovers could come and live…always surrounded in comfort, always surrounded in love.

When I look at the four leggeds and the winged ones…I always see them as the ones who held magick first.  I see them as the ones who don’t out grow it or stop believing.  The Goddess can communicate with them purely and without anything getting in the way.  2a71fcaecea94fe25e270662a93e0134

 

I make a commitment.  This commitment is the result of having loved several cats over my lifetime, an australian shepherd named Patches, and a little blue chihuahua.  As long as I am able to pour energy and love into any animal I come in contact with…each animal that meets my eye or sniffs my hand will know love, completely and fully, if only for the moment that we have together.

You can blame it on the moon.  She started it.

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!

You Better Work It…

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I have been reading about the New Moon coming up on January 30th.  They call it the “Black Moon.”  It is the second New Moon in the month of January.  It is an omen of change and during this moon, hidden truths are brought to the surface.  It is in the midst of this “Black Moon” that I will be moving into another phase of my life.  I am leaving behind my work at the animal clinic and moving back into corporate work.

Am I sad in this transition?  Maybe I should be.  Am I?  No, not at all.  This is a time of celebration for me.  It is time to move past a time of oppression and stagnancy into a time of joy and forward movement.  This change has been a long time in coming.  I have done ritual after ritual devoted to this change…..friends have dedicated ritual after ritual to the same purpose.  It has not been an easy road, but finally I am able to see the manifestation of months and months of magick and hard work.

Work?  Yes, work.  Any real witch will tell you that magick takes work….and dedication….and purpose.  Most folks are used to seeing what is represented on television as far as the Craft goes.  While I love the fantasy that most of those shows represent….the Samantha Stevens, the Endoras, the Charmed Ones, and the newer Witches of East End….we all know that instant gratification is a rarity in the Craft.

I remember the first “spell” I ever cast….*note I used cast here and not ‘the first spell I ever worked.’  Being a new witchling, I stood in front of my altar and waved my hands like a fool and uttered something that I thought was magickal  and waited to see the puff of smoke and the explosion of glitter….or even the little ‘tinkle, tinkle’ sound I heard on “Bewitched” whenever a spell was cast.  Nothing.  I was devastated.  Of course, I had not studied under anyone or with anyone…I knew nothing about the elements, directions, herbs, intention….not one thing.  I only knew what I had seen on television.  All I could hear in my head was the sounds of large tongues blowing raspberries.

Now some folks would have probably given up after casting with no sparks, bells or whistles.  Not me.  I was determined to find out why it didn’t work.  I began to devour books on the Craft.  Some of the first ones I got my hands on were Scott Cunningham’s books.  I was transported to a world of magick I had no idea existed.  Then one day, when I was browsing in the ‘occult’ section at a local bookstore, I was invited to a local coven to take part in their program for initiates.  I enjoyed much of the teachings and the natural setting.  I settled in there for a time and then realized that the path they were on wasn’t the path calling to me.

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That was the one thing that I enjoyed so much about the Craft.  There was no one path for everyone.  There were so many directions one could pursue.  No matter which path I was interested in, I found that it still entailed work.  There were still so many things to learn….how to send energy without depleting your own energy stores…how to charge crystals, candles, etc…how to pour yourself into the workings of the magick and how to ground yourself before, during and after so that you didn’t become one big ole quivery jello witch.

The biggest things that I personally had to learn was how to listen to and utilize and trust my intuition  and how to purpose my own intent.  I compare it to a baby learning how to talk.  It surfaced on its own….at first it was clumsy and broken and hard to understand, but the more I practiced; the more I worked….it flowed better…it became second nature.  I still work and practice on a daily basis….there is no room for laziness.

As I continued to grow in the Craft, there were other adventures that were opened to me.  I had always heard other witches refer to spirit animals.  I thought that it was a wonderful thought….having the spirits of animals at your beck and call.  Again, I got every book I could find on the subject and read and re-read.  I talked to my grandma about the Native approach to spirit animals…then I began the work….the constant vigil of observation, the energy work.  I will never forget the day the first manifestation came.  I was lying in the dirt…my mind lost in thought about my spirit animal.  I closed my eyes and focused my energy.  It was in that moment that I heard that lovely, melodic scream of the crow.  I looked up and there she perched on an old fence post.  In that same week, wolf came to me in my dreams….again, after a time of focus and intent.   The work had been worth the end result.

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This morning, I went to the woods.  This morning, there was no little blue chihuahua to be seen…he was allowed to sleep in.  This morning, no calico kitten showed up.  In my backpack were the usual tools…my skulls, candles, incense, matches.  This morning, more offerings were carried than normal.  This morning was a morning of gratitude.  The directions were called upon….the elements invited…Mama Crow and Wolf took their places.  Candles were lit, incense was burned.  Notes of gratitude and adoration were written on flying paper to all involved in the magick that was manifested.  The notes were carefully twisted and set on fire.  I watched as they flew into the air and disintegrated into the breeze….the wind carrying the magick forth.  I cracked an egg onto the ground for the animal spirits to devour.  I poured milk, honey and wine into the earth in gratitude to elementals and any other spirits involved.  For the lady herself, a small bouquet of dried flowers….grain and corn rounded out the offerings for the Horned One.

Was the work finished?  Only for this phase of the magick….it continues every day.  I have found through my studies and experiences that magick is a living being.  It is constantly moving and changing…just as we should be.  So it is because of magick that a 47 year old witch is now embarking on a brand new adventure.  I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Blessed Be!