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.

counting coup

 

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!

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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!

It Can Only Be Taken….If I Allow It

Never let another person take away who you are. You have so much strength, power. You allow it to be taken away, it’s not taken from you. YOU allow it. Pull it back in. Take CONTROL. You are a warrior. You are in control. Things don’t happen to you, you ALLOW it to happen. YOU are a WITCH. You have the power of the GODDESS in you. DO NOT allow it to be taken away.

This was something that a dear, dear friend of mine said to me this week as I sat in the midst of a gigantic pity party I was having.  I had allowed something that someone said to me in anger wipe away all memory of who I truly was. I allowed feelings that had not interrupted my brain for years to come flooding back into me like a tidal wave.  I let every ounce of self-doubt smack me up-side the head.  I didn’t think that I was that fragile….but my self-esteem shattered like a mirror that had been hit with a sledge hammer.

It took the strong words of a dear friend to help me to realize that I am stronger than mere words.  I was answering accusations with pure, raw emotion.  I had to be reminded that there is more to me than emotions that can be shattered at the drop of a hat…..hell, I have been through my own sexual abuse, the death of a partner and countless other crises that made this one seem almost insignificant.  How did I originally respond?  I pissed and moaned and felt sorry for myself.  I pouted and sulked.  I forgot what and who I was.

For a while, I was having trouble finding myself in the middle of a crisis.  What did it take to help me find my way out?  It took loving words lined with just enough “swift kick in the ass” in it.  I had forgotten that I am a witch and that I have something to work with that can make all the difference in the world.  I have Magick!

I settled in to make some Witches Salt.  I scraped the bottom of my cauldron with a spoon and combined it in my mortar and pestle with some black lava salt and ground it into a fine powder.  It was time to banish some negativity.  I needed to get rid of negative emotions, negative self-talk….I needed calm, peace and my sanity back.  I lit the candles, opened the circle and then proceeded to put the Witches Salt everywhere that it needed to be.  After the ritual, I thanked the elements and closed the circle. 

I slowly walked down to the pond…..that is the one place where I feel completely me and completely magickal.  Friz walked leisurely by my side.  I looked down at him and I saw the hair on the back of his neck begin to bristle up.  He saw something that he didn’t recognize and he started barking uncontrollably.  I tried to quiet him down, but he continued to bark.  No matter how hard I tried, I could not get him to calm down. 

A thought raced through my mind. “A chihuahua is going to be a chihuahua, no matter what.”  Little did I know that was what my dear friend was trying to get through my thick skull.  “A witch is a witch, no matter what.”  I have an obligation to myself and to the Lord and Lady.  I am to be the strongest, best me that I can be….no compromise….no faltering.  I have all the strength and power of the wild God…..the stamina of the Horned One.  I also carry the strength of the Warrior Goddess….the power over those things that would try to conquer me. 

I need to show myself for who I truly am.  I have the power of generations of Ancients surrounding me and inside me.  I only have to access that power.  It is as easy as lighting a fire in my cauldron.  As I made myself comfortable by the pond, the herd of cats came padding toward me.  Again, I am reminded….I have to be who I was created to be.  The only reason that flame can be snuffed out, is if I allow it.  I must stand guard over that flame.

My favorite quote from the first Harry Potter movie will suffice.  “You’re a wizard, Harry…..and a thumpin’ good one, I’d waiger.”  Yes, I am a wizard, witch, sorcerer, magician…..whatever word you want to use.  It is just a matter of semantics.  It is my choice as to how good, bad, weak, or strong.  From now on…..I choose strong.

Blessed Be!

Sometimes We All Just Need To Be Rescued…

I saw something at the clinic this week that hit me square between the eyes.  I was walking around a corner preoccupied by my own busy-ness, when I saw a young military fellow and his dog.  The dog was quite obviously older and was leaned against this young man’s leg.  The dog’s eyes were closed in a contented bliss.  I had to know the story behind this poignant scene.  It turns out that the young man was indeed military and the the old dog was just adopted from a shelter.  He had gotten him as a companion for his wife when he was away.  They had decided on an older dog because they wanted to give an older animal a chance….they wanted to give him the best in his golden years.  It was so obvious, as I watched this senior pup, that he knew he was given something that not many in his circumstances receive.

As I watched and listened, I tried desperately to swallow the lump that had been forming in my throat….but my eyes gave me away.  As I felt the tears welling up, I looked at the soldier and he was also tearing up.  He said to me, “Yes, we are very much indeed the lucky ones.”  This left an indelible image engraved into my heart and memory.

Of course, that night, I headed to the pond with that little blue chihuahua.  I leaned into my friend Oak and waited for the herd of cats to join us.  I wasn’t disappointed.  As I looked out over the water….my brain was racing….racing back and forth.  All I could think of was that old dog and the soldier. 

My back was against Oak.  I felt his strength and support.  I wondered…..how many people and animals out there need rescuing?  How many just need a comfortable place to rest through the turmoil that life has thrown.  Yes. Yes.  I know.  We are all so strong and capable that we don’t need anyone to rescue us. We never get tired of everyday stresses.  We never worry ourselves to the point of feeling that we are going to throw up.

Lies….all lies.  I, for one, know that I am a strong person…..but I get tired of being strong.  Sometimes…I feel like that old dog.  I have been the support for so long that I just need someone else to lean on….just for a minute or two.  I just want to lean and know that blissful feeling of someone elses shoulder.

But then again, how many times are we needed to bear the load for someone else?  Now, I am not talking about absorbing all their troubles, taking on their issues….I mean just being there.  Much of the time you really don’t even need to say anything….they only need know that you are there, willing to hold them up as they lean…listening as they talk.

That little blue chihuahua of mine is a leaner.  He just likes knowing I am there.  It is his sense of security….he knows that as long as I’m there that nothing can hurt him.  My Merlin is the same way….he was dropped off at the clinic as a kitten.  Even though he is 17 pounds now, he loves nothing more than to wrap his arms around your neck and go to sleep with his head under your chin.  I have often said that he just wants to be closer to the heartbeat.

Isn’t that the way we all feel?  We just need to be close to the heartbeat.  We only need someone to tell us that they care enough to be there.  It can be hard sometimes to allow someone into our personal space that closely, but sometimes we just have to realize, it is not about us at that point. 

Most people look at me and see a big teddy bear.  To be honest, I am not all that touchy feely…..especially with people.  I will hug on and love on animals all day.  I have to make myself be a hugger.  This is something that I have found that those around me need.  They need me to be a teddy bear and a hugger, and that’s ok.  I will be for them.  Goddess gave me one thing that I intend to use until the day I die……a strong back.  If I have to plant myself so that someone else can lean for a moment…then so mote it be.

As I write this, I can hear folks saying, “You normally write about such magickal stuff.  What happened?”  What is more magickal than sharing yourself for the sake of people and animals in need?  Give someone a hug and tell me that the feeling isn’t some of the strongest magick you will ever feel.

The cold weather is coming.  Take care of the animals.  I have a friend who always sets up shelters for the outside cats….blankets, you name it.  She has gotten me into the habit of doing the same thing……maybe that is why I now have a herd of cats.  Donate blankets and food to your local shelters if you can….Homeless and Animal.  As the holiday season approaches, look for people and animals that you can be there for.  Stir up some strong magick….One thing I like to do when I am taking treats out for the outside cats is stir a little magick into it.  Protection magick. 

I am so not a kitchen witch, but when I make treats…human, canine, or feline….I always add magick into it.  Always strength, protection, joy and peace…isn’t that what we all need? 

Go out looking for somebody to rescue this week.

Blessed Be!