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

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Honoring the Warrior Spirit

US Marines Patrol Remote Part Of Helmand Province Near Kajaki Dam

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessed Be!268d80b80fa42368ed9720a13600437b

 

 

 

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

Blessed Be!

A Summer of Frybread and Indian Tacos

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This week, my mind has been racing back fifteen years or so.  I was still involved in the mainline church and a bit thinner then.  The church I was working with decided to do a building mission trip to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.  The reservation is located in North and South Dakota, but our trip was to be in the South Dakota part of it.  My church, at the time was a little unusual.  This trip was not about “winning souls” or “converting the indians” as I have heard many say.  When I say that we went out as a building team….I mean we went out as a building team…to make repairs to the local church and to  build sheds.

We knew a couple of families on the reservation prior to our trip, so we had some familiarity, but at that time, racial tensions were a bit high.    The families that we knew also knew of my heritage and knew that my grandma was full Cherokee.  I didn’t realize how much that would help me until later.   I had experienced reservation life on the North Carolina Cherokee reservation…but I wasn’t quite sure I was prepared for what awaited me.  I was taken on this trip solely for my experience with troubled youth.  I had worked as a Crisis Intervention Director with an alternative school years earlier.  My area of “expertise” in the church was also trouble teens and working with kids with learning disabilities.  I was also on the praise team….where the singing was going to help, I had no clue.

We flew into Minneapolis on a dry summer morning.  I had no clue that we would be driving most of the day in a large white van to reach our destination.  The majority of the team would be staying at a motel just outside the reservation.  Some of us were allowed to stay in homes.  I remember looking at the landscape around me…. so flat and dry compared to the lush green mountains of North Carolina.  As I looked out the windows of the van, I could see fields of sunflowers.  To this day, they remain my favorite.  I looked to the right of us and see a buffalo ranch.  I am in awe of these magnificent beasts.  Giant, powerful beasts….they represented the heart of the Lakota people…once wild and free and now confined behind fences and boundaries.

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We pulled into the church parking lot and were told by the locals that it would be best if everyone would just stay inside the church.  I was told that I could go out with the local family members because I had the blood of the people in me.  We walked through the reservation….along dirt roads and over hills.  The first person we came across was a young girl of eight or so.  She was playing with a litter of pups.  She looked at me and spat out, “Why is he with you?”  The young lady who was accompanying me replied, “How dare you treat him like that!  He has our blood!”  The little girls attitude toward me took on a total transformation.  All of a sudden, it was as if she was my shadow.  In all honesty, I am the whitest looking native you have every seen.  I got every bit of my grandfather’s darker Irish looks and freckles…..the only thing that seems to have been given to me by my grandma is my dark skin in the summer.

I loved being able to visit the houses of the grandmothers and grandfathers and being given the honor of listening to so many stories….stories about when they were children….stories of accomplishment, but never told in a way that might be mistaken for bragging.  My grandmother had told me before I left to always be gracious and honor each person I met.  I was overwhelmed by the honor and graciousness which was shown to me. With each meeting there was always an abundance of laughter, strength and plenty of frybread.   I love frybread with a passion.  I finally had to learn to make the Lakota recipe. Nowadays whenever I feel the need for a bit of “home,” I make frybread. 

The grandmothers and grandfathers loved to hear me sing.  They told me that it soothed them.  There were many times when I would just sit and hum as we worked.  I would look over at one of the grandmothers and see her head tilted to the side with her eyes closed listening to me.  It was then that I was made aware of the magick in music.  I was told constantly that I had a gift…when I opened my mouth and music came forth, it was a calming, soothing sound that spoke to the heart. The last time I was on the phone with my grandma before she died, she asked me to sing her a song. I did.  My hope is that it spoke to her heart that day.

I was introduced early in the summer to one of the grandfathers who was said to have strong medicine.  My grandma told me later that he would have been considered a ‘medicine man’ or spiritual leader.  On our first meeting, he told me that he actually saw very strong medicine in me.  I was very much his shadow for the rest of the summer.  We would climb buttes and roam the prairies….it was very much an awakening of my own spirit.  I was allowed to experience things that I can only describe as a beautiful part of the Great Mystery or Wakan Tanka.  I was shown a people who were still very much an indigenous group…people in whom the wild heart still danced. 

My friend told me many times to be watchful of all things around me…to be watchful like the crow…that may be part of the reason I feel such a kinship with the crow…and also seem to draw crow to myself.  He would spend many hours telling me about the personalities and characteristics of the animals.  Through these stories I fell in love with buffalo, wolf, crow and eagle…..and was shown the cunning of the trickster, coyote.

It was also in this time that I was truly introduced to the medicine of those who had been before me.  We would call this ‘ancestral magic’ now.  I was shown how to pay tribute and honor to those who had gone before…to those whose footprints I walked in.  I was taken to the burial site of Sitting Bull.  I felt unnerved standing so close to history.  I felt humbled knowing what he stood for.  I still try to stop every day to give thanks to my ancestors and those who have walked the road before me.

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My heart is full as I write these words.  Memories overtake me.  I am just as much standing in front of the buffalo that I was allowed to get close to now as I was fifteen years ago.  I can still smell the smell of the reservation around me.  I can still taste the frybread on the back of my tongue.  I can still see the beautiful, beautiful lines in the faces of the grandmothers and grandfathers.  Whenever I hunger too much for those times, I bring out gifts that were given to me….a drum, a pipe, and a flute.  In using those gifts, I am there again…lost in the stories and teachings of one who had strong medicine. 

I try every day to walk ‘the Good Red Road.’  Sometimes I am successful.  Sometimes I fail.  It is in those failures that I have to rely on that strong medicine inside of me.  It is in those moments that I have to separate from the harshness of the city and escape back to where I came from.  It is in those moments that I call on Great Grandfather Spirit and Mother Earth.  It is in those moments that my medicine is strongest.  When I commune with the animal spirits….when I dance in the open with reckless abandon….when I sing to the wind…..That is when I am the most free.

Blessed Be!

Haters Gonna Hate…

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A few years ago, I worked for a dreadful person. She had a way of making you feel as if you could accomplish nothing on your own and that anything tried without her assistance would fail. When I left that position, I remember feeling as if every part of my ego…my self-confidence had been crushed. I doubted everything I did and I questioned every word I spoke. She had a way of making you feel that she could crush you at any moment and leave you lying in the rubble of what you considered your life.

I am a pretty strong person. I have endured a lot….so for anyone to make me feel that way was unusual. I look back and still can’t believe I allowed anyone to have that kind of power over me. After all….I am that male witch who pretty much says what he thinks….does what he wants…and to hell with the rest. Then again, sometimes our foundations get shaken a bit. Sometimes those things that are comfortable to us get taken away and we are forced to stand only on our beliefs.

A couple of weeks ago…on a trip to Walmart, mind you…I was shaken once again. This time, it did not bring self doubt and questioning. This time, it brought about determination. I was leaving the store, and as I walked to my car, I was confronted by a man with a bible in the crook of his arm. He calmly asked me if Jesus was my Lord and Savior and if I died tomorrow, where would I be. I calmly thanked him for his concern for my place in the afterlife and told him that I was fine and proceeded to walk on to my car. He then rushed in front of me, raised his voice a bit and asked if I was prepared for what life without Jesus would bring. Again, I thanked him for his concern, told him I was fine, and proceeded to walk. Once more he pushed himself in front of me and raised his voice even more and yelled his question to me. “Are you prepared for the day that Jesus returns?” I finally was so frustrated….after all, I was just trying to get home before the ice cream melted. I stopped dead in my tracks and said, “I am a witch.” I did not raise my voice…my face was dead-pan. This man proceeds to get in my face and screams at me like a Banshee. My personal space was being invaded over and over again. He was screaming so loudly and being so confrontational that the Walmart security came out and interceded.

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Now, being a gay man, I am used to protests and arguments. I have walked through Gay Pride Celebrations surrounded by picketers. I have listened to the screams of “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” I have even endured the “God Hates Fags” rants. I have even been beaten up for who I am…..but this time I stood there. I was not moving. I was ready for whatever was going to come at me…and quite frankly, I was ready to give back. I felt the power of the Lord and Lady stirring inside of me. Honestly, I was not angry…..I don’t know what the emotion was that was cycloning inside of me. A mixture of confusion and sadness and hurt maybe…..my roommate told me later that I never should have told him I was a witch. I told him that I may as well go back in the closet then…..I may as well try to live life as a straight, church-going nobody.

I told him that the moment I begin to compromise any part of who I am, I may as well crawl under a rock and die. Being a witch is so much of my makeup….just as much as being gay. If I were to try to compromise on either, then I am nothing more than a shell of a man. Cernunnos, Pan, Hekate, the Morrigan are all a part of me….they help to create that person of adventure and obstinence and love and power that I am. They are the creators of destiny within me. They are the dream-givers in my life. The Morrigan is the reason I have any fight and warrior spirit at all in me. Pan and Hekate nurture in me that taste for the wild and my love for the beasts of the earth. Cernunnos pulls out the love of the forest and the hidden places. Without each of them, I am but a lump.

Who I am is as much alive as the elements…..It is Fire that stirs my passion….Water that soothes and offers healing…..Air that calls to spirit…..and Earth that strengthens and grounds me. If I were to compromise my relationship with them….if I were to call to one more than the other….there would be no balance inside of me. Asking me not to be gay or not to be a witch would be like asking a wolf not to be a wolf and a crow not to be a crow…..it defies their very essence…their very spirit and brings confusion to the universe.

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I was told many years ago by a Lakota medicine man that the worst thing that I could ever do was to pretend to be something I wasn’t. “To lie to yourself confuses the spirit within.” He explained this to me using a piece of frybread. He held the frybread in his hand and he tore pieces off. He explained that each tear represented a lie that I told myself. When he finished tearing, there were nothing but pieces and crumbs left…..no matter what he did, he could not piece them back together. He told me that inside me was something unique that only I could offer the world and those around me. I could not do that if my spirit lay in pieces in front of me. “Not all those that you meet on the Good Red Road will like what you hold inside of you….but that is not your concern…..live your life honestly before Wakan Tanka.”

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As I write this tonight….I sit here in tears. The Lord and Lady have used this to rekindle in me exactly who I am. My heart is leaping and under my feet, I can feel the heartbeat of the earth. I smell the breeze through the open window. No one….I mean no one can ever take my heart…my spirit…the essence of who I am away from me. I am stronger…mightier than what I even dream.

I am, along with those gods and goddesses who surround me, the creator of destiny….not just any destiny…..MY DESTINY!!

Blessed Be!