Little Narrow Gate

sheep gateThere’s a little narrow gate
At the top of a hill
And it beckons my heart to enter in
And follow where it will
Oh, where it will
And the path that leads through this gate of dreams
Takes me away

With the wind at my back
The journey before me
I set my feet on the road that leads to life
And take the hands of the ones
Who’ll be my companions
For they will show me the place to begin

Most of my life has been a constant battle.  The battle hasn’t been with any one person.  The battle hasn’t even been with myself.  It would be easy to fight those battles.  When one has a visual of an enemy, one has something to focus on defeating.  My battle is within my mind….my emotions.  Every day of my life, the battle that I wage is against anxiety.  It isn’t just plain old every day concerns…because in my mind, those concerns become monsters.  They twist and contort to become something far worse than they started out to be.

I have said in earlier blogs that I am, by nature, an introvert.  I make myself act like an extrovert.  Over the years, I have learned what it takes to make oneself seem at ease in public places and the one in the room who makes everyone laugh.  It is far easier than explaining the social anxieties I feel whenever I meet someone new. It is far easier to be the one who makes everyone else feel at ease while your own heart is racing, your palms are sweating, and your face is flushing.  It is easier to make them think the flush in your cheeks is due to the gut-busting laugh you just let fly.  All the while….you stand there feeling like a fearful little boy who only wants someone to take his hand and tell him that it’s ok and will all be over shortly.

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This past week has been particularly challenging for me.  It seems that every moment was inundated with anxiety rearing its ugly head.  “What if you aren’t able to perform up to par at work?” “What if you were left all alone for the rest of your life?”  “What if something happened to…your dog, your family, your partner, your friends?”  It also hasn’t helped that I am anticipating a week long work venture starting next weekend where I am constantly surrounded by hundreds of colleagues.

Normally, when I feel overwhelmed, I bury myself in comfort.  This week has been all about Peanuts comic strips, Harry Potter movies and a whole lot of sage and incense. I separate myself…I disappear into nature.  Unfortunately, this weekend, that has been hard.  It has rained almost the whole weekend.  I have either been forced to be social or to sit inside and pace like a caged wolf.Rain GIF

 

Normally the rain would be soothing, but that is only when I get out in the midst of it.  This morning was the first morning that it had only been spitting rain here.  It wasn’t a steady pour, but more like the Great Mother was blowing a raspberry.  It has been chillier than typical for this time of year, so I decided that, for my own sanity, I had to venture outside.

I gathered up Friz before the sun even came up this morning.  His sleepy little eyes begged me not to take him to the vet again like yesterday.  I got my backpack sorted, threw my cloak over me and headed for the woods.  Friz wasn’t feeling the walk in the spritzes of rain, so I picked him up and tucked him inside my cloak.  We made our way through the small canape of trees and found our familiar clearing.  I sat down in the midst of the wet leaves.  Who cares how much they soaked through?  I pulled out my candles, crystals, skulls and incense.  The circle this morning was made by putting various colors of rose petals in a circle around me.  This morning, I needed to feel that love that I knew was only a breath away.  I scattered petals over the skulls and around the candles.  This morning would be a ritual for me.  Sometimes you just have to make it about yourself.

I closed my eyes and sang to the elements.  I could smell the wet earthiness and floral fragrances.  I could feel the breeze against my cheeks and the heat of the candles as I moved my hands above them. I called to Mama Crow and to Wolf.  This morning, more than ever, I needed teaching and magickal enlightenment.  I could sense them moving quietly behind me.  I continued to sing.  I remember my grandma…in times of trouble or uncertainty, she sang.  She said that she did it to make her heart match the spirit around her.  Sometimes I sang words that I knew and sometimes I let the spirit moving inside me birth words that seemed unintelligible.  As I smelled the sweet sage and incense wafting around me, my heart began to lighten.  My grandma used to tell me that sometimes we just have to wait for the mind and heart to catch up with the spirit.2014-07-18 23.48.50

 

I realized that I had waited too long to try to lift this mood.  The moment I felt it, I should have been in the woods pouring my spirit out before nature and my guides.  It was strange.  Mama Crow and Wolf kept their distance until my heart felt lighter.  After that moment, they came closer…Mama Crow sternly reprimanding me for taking so long and Wolf patiently staring at me to see if the lessons he gave had taken root.

I thanked them, the elements, and all of Nature around me and gathered all that I had brought.  Friz had apparently slept well inside my cloak because he was ready to walk now.  We walked the newer path we had found  and as we moved to the top of the hill, we saw a narrow little wooden gate.  It reminded me of those we used with the goats back home.  Within a matter of moments, I heard a sound I hadn’t heard since our last trip to North Carolina….the sound of goats.  I remembered last year when they brought goats in to clear the brush around the complex.

I was reminded of the lyrics to the song I started the blog with.  Most of our lives, we spend on the safe side of the gate…where we won’t encounter anything that we might not be completely comfortable with.  This morning, I walked through that gate.  In my mind’s eye, I could see me holding onto Wolf’s coat as I walked and I could feel the weight of Mama Crow on my shoulder….and leading the way was  a little blue chihuahua who knows no fear.

With the wind at my back
The journey before me
I set my feet on the road that leads to life
And take the hands of the ones
Who’ll be my companions
For they will show me the place to begin

Sometimes, even an old Weathered Wiseman has to start from the beginning of the journey….it keeps you from getting too big for your britches.

Blessed Be!2014-07-19 18.46.03

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Making Friends With the Things That Haunt You

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I had the strangest dream last night.  I dreamed that me, my partner and my roommate all went in together and bought an old dilapidated victorian house.  It had previously been divided into levels for apartments, but our intent was to take it back to its original state.  We found out after we bought the house that it was haunted by a dastardly man who made it difficult for anyone to stay in the house for very long.  victorian

I remember, in the dream, moving from room to room with the fear of this horrible spirit in the back of my mind.  The last place I went was the very top floor.  The fireplace was going and this was where the spirit supposedly spent most of his time.  I walked into the room and he did everything he could to make me know that I wasn’t welcome.  I continued to talk as he continued to try to scare me. The flames of the fire would rage higher as he grew angrier.   He moved swiftly in front of my face and screeched.

By this time, I had grown tired of the game.  I calmly told him that I wasn’t afraid of him and that we were going to bring the old place back to its former glory.  I quietly talked through all of plans…even our intent to leave the top floor to him alone, with an occasional visit if he wanted.  I could see that he was calming down by the flames in the fireplace.  They were now down to a soft comfortable glow.

We finished the remodel and all lived a peaceful coexistence with the spirit in the house.  He grew to be a friend as the years moved forward.  He was a source of protection for us as well as source for much historical knowledge.

I am often offered solutions to issues in life through my dreams.  It is often where I deal with and face my darkest fears.  I realized that the man in this dream was representative of where I am heading in my own life right now.  I am slowly moving through levels of a new job.  With each level there comes a new fear…I am having to refurbish old ideas and rethink old thought processes.  I see, now, that the biggest hurdle is that within me that wants everything to stay comfortable…unchanging.  I must embrace that that is a part of me and that it may never leave, but I also have to be willing to move forward with plans and hopes and dreams.

When I woke up this morning with my head crowded by the visions of last night’s dream, I remembered when I was a little boy living with my parents on Walkup Avenue in our old hometown.  The house had belonged to my great grandparents (both of whom had died there) and it was located by a section of woods that didn’t quite have the right kind of energy for a five year old.  We had also been robbed in that house.

In that house, I lived in fear….of everything.  I was scared of the house, of the woods, of the ‘people’ that I could feel there…and the dark.  My mom and dad tried everything they could to alleviate all of those fears, but unfortunately, in those days it meant letting me sleep alone in a pitch black room….no nightlights for me.  It also meant that my bedroom was the furthest away from it if I had to go to the bathroom.  It also meant that if I wandered too far in the wrong direction, our German Shepherd Rascal would hear me and begin to growl and all I could see of him were large yellow eyes.  I lived my life petrified of anything that happened when the sun went down.  There were many nights that I would lie in my bed with the covers to my neck horrified to move.

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Once again, it was one of my grannies to the rescue.  This time it was my very Scotch-Irish granny.  Her face seemed to always be engraved with smiles and her hands were charged with soothing energy.  I remember that she had come to stay with us one weekend and I guess it got the best of her to see this child cowered in fear and shaking the moment the sun went down.  She came into my bedroom after I had been tucked in and she asked me what was wrong.  I shook uncontrollably as she pulled me into her lap.  I spewed out every one of the things that I was scared of the most.  It was like my body was vomiting the fear on the floor in front of me…..the dark, the woods, the dog, the house…I put all of it right there in front of her.

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I can still hear her soft laughter as she quietly told me that the secret to not being afraid anymore was to make friends with the things I was afraid of.  I remembered thinking, “Why in the world would I want to make friends with them?!  I am scared of them!!”  She picked me up and carried me in her arms toward the front door.  She opened the door and the screen and walked with me clinging to her in horror out toward the back steps.  I remember that the moon was shining brightly that night.  Quietly she made the introductions.  “Miss Moon, this is my grandson, David.  David, this is Miss Moon.  Stars, this is my grandson….Woods, this is my grandson….Old Man of the Dark, this is my grandson.”  She went on and on, telling me how she had made friends with each of these things over her life.  Finally, she called Rascal over…the German Shepherd that I was so determined was horribly mean.  He softly licked my cheek and I started laughing.  She explained that the reason he jumped up on me sometimes was because he wanted to play and that the reason he growled at night was because he heard noises and wanted to keep everybody safe.

So now, all of those things I was scared most of didn’t seem so scary.  I made it a point to venture out in the woods more during the day to see more of what was out there.  I talked to Miss Moon every time I was outside.  It made it seem as though there was a family member watching over me.  The stars became my watchmen….and Rascal and I were often found lying on top of each other at the edge of the woods sharing secrets.  I look back on all of that now and I laugh out loud….most of the things that I was most afraid of have, indeed, become my dearest friends.  Mama Moon and the stars, dogs in general, the darkness…even spirits.  German Shepherd laying on the green grass

I got up really early this morning (the first time) and  the little blue chihuahua and I made our way to the woods around the four a.m. mark. Hopefully we didn’t scare anyone on the way.  I had my cloak over me and my backpack under it so I looked a bit like Quasimodo.  When we got into the belly of the woods, I settled into the dirt.  Stones were placed in strategic spots all around us in a circle formation, the candles were placed and lit and the skulls were given their positions of honor.  In remembrance of my old friend Rascal, I sprinkled dried wild flowers over the skulls and burned sage.  I also burned an incense mixture that a friend gave me that has done wonders in gearing my mind toward success and strength.

I sat there in the midst of so many of the things that made my heart pound in fear.  I thanked them all for their friendships over the years and at this point Friz leaned in to give me a lick on my nose….I thanked him for his friendship, his loyalty, his protection, and magick.  As I felt the heartbeat of the Earth Mother beneath me, I was reminded of how much fear we, as humans live in.  We fear what others think of us.  We fear change.  We fear the world around us.  It is time to look those things that we fear the most in the eye and introduce ourselves.  It may become your biggest ally.

Blessed Be!how_to_train_your_dragon_12

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.

Caged_Freedom_v1

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!

Battling the Monsters

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You know,  I have never been afraid of exploring woods, forests, caves…all those places that people say you should be careful.  I have never been afraid of wild animals…well, any kind of animal for that matter.  In my adulthood, I have never held any fear of another human…something that many around me would say might eventually get me killed…but still I have no need to fear those around me who might irritate the piss out of me.  I hold a healthy respect for the darkness, but I have never feared it….darkness to me is more like an old friend.

What is it that I am afraid of?  Life.  Life scares the living shit out of me.  Now, I am not talking about that life that I live everyday surrounded by elements and spirits and nature and things of that sort.  I am talking about those monsters that wait around every corner and under beds and in closets….the circumstances that come against us and knock us on our asses.  I am talking about those things that lurk in the shadows around us just waiting to devour us.  They frazzle our nerves.  They chew our self esteem to shreds…..they mysteriously empty our wallets and purses.

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It seems that all through November, December and now, January, that I have had to live my life with my sword wielded.  In November, our roommate lost his job…something that is pretty much dealt with as you deal with it.  But in his job searches, he has been given the run-around, been made false promises.  I don’t see the professionalism that once was striven for by companies.  December was a time of learning to live simply….limited finances….pinching a penny so hard it would bleed.  And now, here is January.  This past Thursday, I was in a car accident.  It was raining and I had to slam on brakes behind another car…only to skid right into his back end.  Of course, along with a banged up car, it comes with a ticket priced in the hundreds.

Sometimes, I understand those people who sit huddled up in corners rocking back and forth. I have wanted many times, over the course of the months… just wanted to sit in the corner here with my thumb in my mouth rocking…..constantly rocking.  Instead, I must keep my sword wielded.  I must constantly remember that monsters were meant to be defeated.

Monsters sneak up on you.  They come at you when you least expect it.  They use the unknown to bring about fear.  Most monsters are just hair, teeth and noise.  It is important for us to remember these things….but most importantly, Monsters have their own weakness.  I always remember the part of “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” where Yukon Cornelius tickles the ‘Bumble’ until he falls off of the cliff….then Hermie pulls all of his teeth.  I try to remember that there is a weak place in all Monsters.

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Monsters operate primarily in our fear of the unknown and our unpreparedness.  I guess the thing to remember is not to fear the unknown and to always be prepared for everything.  Good Luck with that.  For me, it always seems easier to be prepared for a fight.

I had a meltdown today.  It came on quickly and with ferociousness.  It reminded me of watching someone turn from human to werewolf.  Everything had overwhelmed me to the point that I had to have a release.  Screaming was that release.  After I screeched a while, I walked out into the courtyard and had a talk with Mama Crow.  “I have no control over anything!  Nothing is going the way it should!”  After I voiced it, the Monster didn’t seem so ferocious.  I could see Mama Crow in the distance turning her head from side to side.  “It is called survival.  In the days of the ancients, the dangers were bear and wolf and those who were out to kill.  Now the dangers have become car payments and insurance and power bills….the need for money. No, it is not something that will devour you, but it has become that monster that hangs over your shoulder every day….threatening every fiber.  You must always arm yourself against the fears that it brings.”

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I have never been lost in the woods.  I have been in places I was not familiar with and didn’t know where I was….but I have never been lost in the woods.  I always turn to my friends there….the animals, the plants, the trees…to show me my way.  They have never disappointed me.

My roommate, tonight, suggested that, to calm myself, I needed to go do some magick.  I settled in front of my altar…I poured my needs out over that altar like melted fat.  I called on the power of the god and goddess.  I called on my spirit helpers…I called on my ancestors.  My needs were simple…my backbone needed a little extra strengthening…along with my heart.  I need to see more moving forward…not so many backward steps.  I need more cunning….more wise.  I want to respond….not react.  I need more faith and a lot less fear to take root inside of me.

I intend to have all of those things.

Whatever happens, happens.  I intend to do as Mama Crow does when she flies.  She adjusts her wings to the way the wind moves.  She doesn’t expect the wind to move for her.  She flies with it….not against it.  And I have watched that old bird fight for what she has with everything she’s got.

I can’t allow the Monsters to scare me anymore.  Their teeth have all been pulled….I wear their claws as a necklace.

I have never been lost in the woods….I’ve not known where I am sometimes, but I have always been shown the way.2014-01-05 18.43.42

Blessed Be!