Don’t Make Eye Contact

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I remember growing up around my mom…she lived in a state of constant worry and a state of constant fear.  She moved away from it more as we grew older, but I remember when we were younger how afraid she was of everything.  She was afraid of thunder.  She was afraid of bugs.  She was afraid that we would wander too far from the house.  She was afraid.

The thing about people who live in fear is that many times that fear tries to transfer to the people that live with them.  The one phrase that I remember my mom using constantly was, “Don’t make eye contact.”  Now there were particular people or groups of people this was directed toward…strangers, in particular, but also those who others categorized as mentally challenged…homeless people and stray animals.AP_romanian_stray_dogs_jef_130913_16x9_992

 

My mom never felt comfortable around any of those things.  It makes me wonder what kind of life my mom had growing up….so much fear.  As you can imagine, many of my mom’s fears began to take root in my heart as I grew up surrounded by them.  I remember a group of mentally challenged teens who attended my elementary school….I would see them coming and I could feel my whole body go rigid.  I would silently pray that they would stay far from me.  I remember as a youngster walking toward a stray dog that came into our yard and hearing my mother screech from the front porch, “Don’t touch that dog! It might have the mange!”  Well, at that time, I didn’t know what ‘the mange’ was, but I was sure I didn’t want it.  So I ran. It was then that I started nurturing the beginnings of a fear of dogs.  Finally, I remember my mother talking about ‘Crazy Mary’ the local homeless woman.  My mother had heard stories of how Mary went crazy because she had always wanted children.  When she miscarried after her first and only pregnancy, it drove her to the depths of insanity and she walked the streets looking for a child to call her own.

I carried each of these fears with me through grade school, high school and even part of college.  When I passed the homeless…my mother’s voice would ring clear, “Don’t make eye contact.”  When I worked at a grocery chain and the adults from the local group home came in to shop, I made a bee-line for the stock room with my mother’s voice ringing in my ears, “Don’t make eye contact.”  When I met my friend Susan who worked with rescue animals and finally saw what ‘the mange’ looked like, my mother’s words haunted me, “Don’t make eye contact.”

I have never been the type of person who wanted to be limited by anything, most of all, myself…so I made it a point to put myself into situations where I had to address those fears.  The first fear I addressed was the fear of those that others called mentally challenged.  When I was in bible school in Knoxville, TN back in the days of Moses, I had to work to be able to afford school.  I worked full time evenings in a bookstore, but on weekends I worked at a facility for adults with learning, mental and physical challenges.

My first five minutes in that facility were pure hell for me.  I broke out in cold sweats and shook continually.  My biggest fear was that someone would actually talk to me.  My first duties were to help clean a fellow up after his meal.  He laughed and smiled at me the whole time.  It made me feel ashamed of the fear I had lived with for so many years.  I looked in his eyes and I saw joy…pure elation that someone was taking the time to help him.  He smiled even bigger.  I could feel a tear loose itself from my eye and I felt his hand wipe at my face.  He told me, “No cry….happy…happy.”  He laughed out loud and I joined him.

I turned around and there was a woman in her forties standing almost close enough to me to be my shadow.  “I love you!”  The worker with me told me quietly, “That’s her thing.  She loves everybody.  She will tell you 100 times in a few hours.” I smiled at her.  “I love you!” I was perplexed.  I leaned in and said, “I love you too.”  She looked me eye to eye and quietly whispered, “For real?”  I whispered back, “Yes, for real.”  She smiled from ear to ear.  That was the only time she asked me that night…but we made it a point to say it once a day each time we saw each other.

I often find it amazing…the places and situations I have found myself in.  This young fellow who was scared to death of getting ‘the mange’ moved to Atlanta and the only job he could find was a job at a veterinary clinic.  I learned all about mange and what would treat it.  I learned about animal handling and treatment.  I could do the job in my sleep. Five years into the job, the opportunity came for me to work with a mobile vet.  We went from house to house treating and working with pets and then one of her pets became gravely ill.  There was fluid on the heart and it would only get worse.  She was encouraged to bring him in and ‘put him to sleep’ when it was too much of a struggle for him.  Instead, she decided that it would need to happen at home surrounded by his loved ones.  She asked if I would do it for her.  I looked into that sweet dogs eyes as I introduced the needle into his vein.  I watched through tears as the spirit of life swept from him and I laid his head on his paws.

This morning I had volunteered to go with a work group to deliver clothing to the homeless.  Collections had been made for weeks and we stood in groups next to tables full of coats and sweatshirts and pants separated by size.2015-02-28 11.29.07

My first encounter with the homeless was in New York City in 1985.  I was being shown around the city by a roommate who had been living there six months longer than I had.  I was informed that you didn’t touch the pigeons and you didn’t make eye contact with the homeless. “They are like rats (the pigeons and the homeless).  You can’t be nice to them…they follow you everywhere.”

Years later, when I was working in the ministry, I  was asked to be a part of a homeless ministry who cooked breakfast and served it underneath the bridge in Charlotte, NC.  I got to know and became friends with many of the people who gathered under that bridge to eat and hear me sing and teach. As I talked to one fellow, I found out that he was my age and he had missed one paycheck.  Not so different from me after all….one paycheck.

This morning as I foraged through stacks on tables and shifted clothes.  I hear some of the others talking to people coming through the line.  I hear a familiar laugh and a scruffy bark.  I turn around and I make eye contact with the Green Wizard.  He is there in need of a sweatshirt and a blanket.  I smile at him and he smiles back.  I introduce him to those around me as my friend…not as ‘a homeless person I know.’eyes

 

It’s funny…over the years…the most powerful magick I have ever found were in the things of which my mother was most afraid.  I found magick in the eyes of those whose mind danced differently than my own…I found magick in the eyes of animals whose hearts were far purer than my own…I found magick in the eyes of those who use the earth as their pillow and the stars as their nightlight.  I am far richer for it.

Blessed Be!

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There’s Something About the Woods….

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You’ve changed.  You’re daring.

You’re different in the woods…

You’ve changed.  You’re thriving.

There’s something about the woods…

The past couple of weeks have been challenging around here.  I have had the flu, an upper respiratory infection, and a blocked salivary gland.  In that time, I have worked, I have traveled, and had the opportunity for far more activity than rest.

Friday, my body required me  to pause long enough to have to be checked out.  I woke up Friday with the left side of my face swollen so big that it actually scared me.  There was a tremendous amount of heat coming from it.  I texted my boss and headed to my doctor.  He looked at my jaw and put his fingers all in my mouth and told me that he was sending me to Emory for a CAT Scan and Kidney bloodwork.  I looked down at  the prescription he gave me to hand them with his instructions.  The first words I read:  Cancer Check.  My heart sunk as I read and I called my roommate to see if he would go with me.

We got there and spent a huge amount of time waiting.  I remained patient, knowing that the flu season had officially started in Atlanta.  I watched as a little grandma across from me wept and whispered how much she hurt.

When I was finally ushered into one of the rooms, I endured the smacking of fingers against veins and listened to the nurses tell me what I hear all the time, “You don’t have much in there as far as veins.  I am going to have to use the back of your hands, legs, tops of your feet.”  They all seemed amazed at the amount of swelling in my jaw and neck. “That just happened overnight?!?”  I would nod and smile.

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After the CAT Scan and bloodwork, the doctor seemed certain it was a blocked salivary gland.  She prescribed antibiotics and lots of sour candy to get the saliva flowing.  I promised as I left that I would check in with my own doctor yesterday morning.

I followed through and went to my doctor yesterday.  He was surprised that the swelling had not reduced much.  He brought up the fact that there had been a resurgence of mumps lately (which I, of course, had never had).  I went back home to my sour candy and antibiotics that would give an elephant diarrhea.

Late last night, I had been house bound as long as I could be.  I begged Jay for a trip to the movies.  We went to see “Into the Woods.”  This has always been one of my least favorite musicals, but I thought that it might make up for my having to be away from my woods for so long.

After the movie last night, I drifted to sleep.  In my dreams, I walked the woods over and over with Mama Crow and Wolf at my side.  I dreamed of Frisbee dancing alongside me.  Funny, I was never the baker, or Red Riding Hood, or Jack in my dreams….but always the witch…always searching for those perfect ingredients for healing.

I woke up this morning as the rain was still spitting and hissing through the clouds.  I couldn’t stay inside one more moment.  I had to be apart of the outdoors.  I had to be a part of that which I had been born of.  The elements called to me…I could hear the birds and the wind.  They longed to dance and play.

I pulled on my cloak and roused a wild little chihuahua.  We made our way through puddles and mud into a place where we feel more at home than on our own sofa.  I had brought a tarp and blanket.  I have found that after a good rain, it keeps us from being soaked but still allows us to feel the ground under our rumps.  As I closed my eyes and inhaled the smell of the damp outdoors, I could hear the sounds of nature around me.  I had the feeling that I would see the Green Wizard this morning…just one of those knowings that brew deep inside of you.

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Of course, his first words are, “Oh my gosh, what happened to your face?!”  I explained what had been going on.  He laughed and asked if I had dried arnica, dried calendula,  charcoal,  and lavender oil back at the condo.  I told him I did.  He told me to go get it.  He was already digging out red clay from an area behind us and getting handfuls of other things as I walked back to the condo.

I came back with the requested items and he added them to the clay mix.  After everything was mixed thoroughly, he plastered the muck behind my ear and down the side of my jaw and neck.  He told me to leave it on for a couple of hours and then I could wash it off.

Today was a singing day.  We would take turns breaking out in songs that just came to our heads…..some based in pure nonsense, some serious.  We took turns dancing with the dogs and the breeze.  When we collapsed on the blanket…laughing and breathing heavy…he smiled and told me that he could tell that the Weathered Wiseman needed time with himself in the woods and that he would give me my time.  Part of me wanted to object because we were having such a good time, but there was that part of me that knew he was more than right.  I rubbed Boomer under his chin as Friz did one more play pounce on him.  The Green Wizard picked Friz up and rubbed him on his neck and then put him down in my lap.

As I watched the Green Wizard walk off through the woods, I am sprawled out with that wild chihuahua bouncing on my belly.  I listened as Mama Crow crackled out her sounds of approval.  I speak out loud to her, “Mama Crow…what is coming?  Where will the magick take me?”  She laughed her course laugh again…in a way telling me that no matter what, I need to meet it with flexibility and all the magick I have in me.

I close my eyes and ponder over my dear friend Maluna’s words:

Cold, Wolf, Chaste, Ice Moon, Sunday at 11:53 pm. Looks like ice and cold are on tap here. Winter is about to descend on us with a vengeance….Things are bare…except for the evergreens, and the Ivy that surrounds our house….ever green…ever Goddess. It’s pouring rain…it will turn to ice tonight….the deadliest of the Water forms (in my book)…it shows no mercy. My thoughts and studies turn to Brigid….goddess of springs, holy wells…fire…and for me she represents the waters of our land right now. Old farmers are saying the water content is low….for the coming growth season we welcome the rains and snows…one of the reasons I don’t get depressed this time of year….what is happening now….will benefit the summer. This is the full moon before Imbolc….February 2nd…full Quickening Moon….the 3rd. I have a full month of workings before Imbolc….confused? It’s ok….this works for me…you’re welcome to try it if you like. I’ll work this Cold Moon for the abandoned and abused animals….wildlife has a tendency to survive Nature….or not….that is their law….humans and their cruelty kill more than the Elements…I provide as much food and shelter possible….opening myself to the fires of Brigid for warmth….protect them all…please. Deepen your winter journey….work to provide for others, help those in need, the elderly…use the warm and cleansing energies…If you focus positive energy on the future, understand what is happening in the coming months….(granted, we don’t LIKE it) but it’s much easier if you accept and acknowledge the flow of Nature. It’s challenging….and rewarding to work with the Elements….without Earth, Air, Fire, and Water….we would not be….I give thanks for their gifts…and survive. BB

That is the one thing about life and magick…it is always moving forward.  We have to choose whether we move with it or not.  Nature is always changing, as shown by the seasons.  The wheel doesn’t wait for us to catch up.

It is never more evident than when I am in the woods that I am a part of that.

Oh, and by the way, after two hours with that muddy salve on my neck, jaw and ear…the swelling had almost completely gone.

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Having a Morrigan Morning

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This morning, as Friz and I made our way to the woods just before sunrise, I could smell the dampness in the air.  It was coolish…our nights have had lows in the twenties this week.  It seemed as I walked, that I was walking in slow motion.  The trees were stark looking against the dark morning sky.  You could smell the earth going dormant with every footstep. As I looked around me, I could see the toll that the below freezing temperatures had taken.  Rose bushes and plants had that wilted and defeated look about them.  I could tell that the Goddess was preparing for her winter’s death-sleep.

The crows have been more prominent lately.  My partner told me the other day that he watched as a crow flew above him with a McDonald’s bag with two other crows on his tail.  He asked me what the significance of this was.  I was at a loss.  I said, “He was hungry?”  He was not amused.  The sad thing is that the poor crow dropped the bag and the two hamburgers he managed to pilfer fell to the ground and the other two crows attacked them ferociously.2014-10-02 12.49.53

Although I follow the path of the Morrigan year-long, I know that in these months that the world grows darker that she is more prominent.  The Morrigan is often seen as the goddess of death…but she is also the goddess of fertility.  So as the earth goes into its own death-sleep, she is the one planting those seeds of rebirth as it sleeps.  I have seen her do the same in my life.  As one vision dies, she is busy planting that seed for new visions….and giving me strength for the battle.  I have found that the more I work with her, the easier it is  to allow her to control certain areas and for me to take myself out of the picture.

The thing that I keep in the forefront of my mind, is that the hero was never slain at the hands of the Morrigan…unless he refused to acknowledge her sovereignty.  I have found that she fights alongside of me daily.  The issues I face may sound trivial to some, but she is willing to take up her sword for and with me.  She is willing to offer me wings.  I have always said that we are all born with wings, but we let the world steal them.  I remember a quote from the movie Maleficent:

I had wings once, and they were strong. They could carry me above the clouds and into the headwinds, and they never faltered. Not even once.

We allow the circumstances and people that come against us to steal those wings.  We then spend more time grieving over the loss than seeking out a way to fly again.  The Morrigan is that way of soaring.

As Friz and I sat in the midst of the trees stripped bare of their foliage, I listened for the heartbeat of the universe around me.  I was greeted by a crow caw…loud and coarse and crackled.  I looked above me and I could see Mama Crow against the gray sky.  There were three or four other crows with her…each cawing back and forth to each other.  It reminded me of listening to my grandmother and her sisters gossiping when I was growing up.  They would lean back and throw out their harsh, cracked belly laughs for everyone to hear.

I placed my crow skull on the ground in the middle of a circle of stones I had made.  I pulled out my small cauldron and placed a charcoal disc inside.  I burned it with my lighter until it was white hot and then I put some of the Morrigan incense I have on it.  I light the red tealights I brought.  At this point, I rubbed some of the Ave’s Flying Ointment that I had bought from Sarah Anne Lawless, on each temple.  The scents of amber, dragon’s blood, juniper, rosemary and thyme encircle me.  As my little blue chihuahua sleeps in my lap, I fall into an almost trance-like state…so many friends and family in so many battles right now.  I begin to chant:

Morrigan, Morrigan…Goddess of change,

Strengthen me and those I cherish with the power to fight those battles that come against us head-on.

Goddess of fertility, birth in us new visions and plant the seeds for new magick.

Goddess of shapeshifting…help our spirits to transform into whatever we need to face our enemies.

Morrigan, Morrigan…Goddess of battle,

We stand ready to fight.

Circumstances, disease, ourselves.

We will emerge victorious!

A slight breeze begins to blow.  I listen to the rhythm of the trees as they softly sway.  They seem to sing to me as I wrap myself in the magick all around me.  It is amazing the lessons we can learn from nature.  The trees bend to the breeze rather than fight it.  Nature doesn’t fear the cold that winter brings, it adapts to it.  It takes that time to rest and regenerate.  The trees whisper to me…”Learn our lessons…move when you need to. Stand strong when required. At the end of life is when you lie down and return to the earth.”2014-11-16 16.07.45

 

While my eyes are closed, I hear the sounds of nature around me….birds and breezes, leaves being rustled by small animals.  I open my eyes and and the air around me chills me to the bone.  I notice that Friz has edged closer to the candles and the cauldron but still manages to stay covered in my cloak.  In that moment, I feel like if I leaped toward the sky that a pair of strong, powerful wings would burst forth from my body and I would soar high above the trees.

Mama Crow is still above me.  I think I entertain her…but she has become accustomed to me.  My heart is racing…my spirit yearns for its wings.  Soon…very soon…I will fly beside Mama Crow.

Blessed Be!

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Find Your Purpose, Find Your Passion, Find Your Place

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I am pretty sure that most of Atlanta thinks I am crazy by now.  Last night, I had gone to dinner with my roommate and as we are standing out in the parking lot of the restaurant, we see dark clouds gathering above us.  The wind picks up and I can feel the beginnings of spritzing coming from the clouds.  I stand there…my face pressing against the wind, begging it to pick me up and carry me.  I put my arms out beside me and feel the electricity of the combination of the clouds, the lightning, and the air speaking volumes to my own spirit.  It is in those moments that the witch in me calls to my besom with hopes of being lifted above the moon.

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My roommate calls out to me to ‘make a run for it.’  He can see sheets of rain coming in the distance….I think it was more because he didn’t want the folks nearby to think I had completely lost my mind.  When I finally walked into the restaurant, he is standing there laughing softly.  He says, “Only you would think that in all that weather, that it would do what you told it to do.”  I had to correct him….there are many more like me out there.

If you think about it, how many times are we told in our lifetimes that something must be done a certain way, or that we aren’t doing something correctly, or that we are foolish for even believing that magick exists?  Who are they to tell us that we aren’t capable of holding lightning in our own fingers?  I have come to find out that it is too easy to accept what others think about us than what we believe about ourselves.

This week, I had a short discussion with an extended family member regarding homophobia.  In short, my partner and I were told to be glad that we live here and not in one of the ‘sand’ countries.  I told her that, yes, we are glad to live here and that things are changing by leaps and bounds, but there is so much more to do.  There are still very vivid memories in my mind of walking into school and being called, “Faggot.”  There are equally strong memories of being beaten in the field behind the school for being a faggot (in their words).  I remember going going home with black eyes and broken noses and many other injuries only to tell my mom and dad that some of us guys were playing football.  I also remember the response that came from someone overhearing me talking to a friend about being a witch.  I can remember watching the woman grip the cross around her neck like she was about to perform an exorcism and moving her children out of reach.

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My life, my magick is all about choices that I make.  I have come to realize that I am deeply contented with who I am.  I love the fact that I count the elementals among my friends.  I enjoy the fact that I can make magick spring from my fingertips. I am overjoyed by the fact that I can, if I so desire, hold lightning in my hands.  What I can do is limited only by myself.

In another conversation with my roommate last night, he said to me, “Sometimes I think you envision yourself as Albus Dumbledore.”  I looked him square in the eyes and said, “Oh no…that would limit me in so many ways.  I am the Weathered Wiseman and I am capable of so much more.”

One area that has always come easily to me is visualization.  I had to learn to do it early in my childhood to mentally take myself out of horrible physical situations.  I guess that it why it is so easy for me to have relationship with my spirit guides….so easy to walk and talk with the fae…so easy to let animals speak to me.  I also think that is why so many times…my dreams hold so much power.  Many times when an issue isn’t coming to an ending in the finite world around me, I will go to sleep and watch as solutions unfold in my dream-life.  I have had loved ones who have passed over come to me in my dreams…just to reassure me, calm me, or to just let me know that they are there.

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What is my passion?  I actually sat out in the rain in the woods this morning pondering that very question.  That little blue chihuahua who has been my companion through so much was right there beside me (well, huddled up inside my cloak).  Rain tends to wash away all the grossness that everyday tries to let cling to us.

What Is My Passion?  My passion is to live a Magickal life.  My passion is to live a life guided by the Sun and the Moon and the Earth and the Wind and Water and Fire.  My passion is to hold close the teachings of those who have come and gone before me.  My passion is to be sun-kissed, wind-burned, drenched and dirty.  My passion is to be covered in hugs and kisses by the humans I love and to have my face and hands licked until it tickles.  My passion is to look down at my shirt and laugh in wonder as to whose hair I just found stuck to me (is it a cat whisker? or dog fur?).  I refuse to worry myself sick over what is right and wrong about what I practice.  I still have something that is more than valuable:  Instinct. The ancients didn’t have star charts and IPhones that told them that the moon was full in Aries.

My passion is to know myself better than anyone else knows me and to embrace every moment of life around me.  It is not always going to be wonderful and beautiful…but it will always be what I choose to make of it.

So, finally, Where is my place?  Wherever I am.  My place is home….no matter where I may be.  Two weeks ago, it was slow dancing with a straight man on a crowded dance floor in Florida.  This morning, it was dancing in the rain and mud with a little blue chihuahua. Tonight, it will be dancing in front of my cauldron under the light of a full moon.

Blessed Be!