A Solstice Celebration: Fishing, Skinny-Dipping, Lightening Bugs and Skeeters

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Today is the Summer Solstice…the longest day of daylight in the year.  The sun’s energy is very powerful on this day, so when I got up early this morning, I did something I haven’t done in a long, long time.  I went fishing.  Yep…I went fishing all by myself.  I loaded the car with my tackle box, a old cane pole, an old, thin blanket and soda and sandwiches, a can of dirt and worms I dug out of the courtyard, a backpack full of ritual supplies, and I drove up toward the northern part of Georgia.  I haven’t done this in ages…I felt like such a rebel, scooting out of sight before anyone missed me and leaving a note on the table that said simply, “Gone Fishin’.”

It wasn’t long before I reached the property of some friends and I dodged through the old cattle gates.  The only thing missing was my old pickup and being barefoot.  The latter would be remedied soon enough.  I got settled down at the edge of that old pond, rolled up my pant legs, shedded  my shoes, put on my ball cap, baited the hook and dangled it down into the water.  To be honest, I really didn’t care if I caught anything or not…that wasn’t really my purpose for being there.  I was there to worship the sun.  I breathed in all the smells around me…the smell of hay, the water, and yes, the pasture.  I felt the way I imagined a vampire might feel after the first taste of blood after a long famine.

I could feel the sun’s energy pulsing through my body, my veins.  I could feel it combining with the heartbeat of Mama Earth.  As I breathed, my own breaths danced in rhythm with all that was around me.  I felt revitalized in a way I haven’t in a long, long time.  I could feel the sun kissing my face.  The knowing that the Scotch/Irish in me would turn it a glowing red first, then the Cherokee in me would turn it to a glowing copper brown by tomorrow. I watched as the fishing line bobbed in the water.  Nothing was biting…that was fine with me anyway.  I let the remainder of the worms go and let the now empty hook bob up and down.  Hopefully the fish were at least entertained.

As I lay there in the sun, I could feel beads of sweat forming all over me.  I am not a fan of being uncomfortable and the water looked so inviting.  I took off my shirt and looked down at my Buddha-shaped belly and laughed out loud.  Before I realized it, I had shucked my shirt, my pants, and my underwear and was running like a wild man….screaming and laughing as I jumped in the water buck-assed naked.2014-06-21 16.06.04

 

I felt that primal energy of Cernunnos surging through me as I ran and jumped into that cold water…heated by the sun at the surface level only. When I hit, I took a hard breath in as I felt the shock of cold in places that I really had rather not felt it.  After I adjusted to the temperature, I floated backwards, again taking in the rays from the Sun God.  While I floated, my thoughts were everywhere and nowhere all at once.  Words to spells and songs gently caressed my brain.  It was like being a kid all over again…skinny-dipping at the old pond in my grandpa’s pasture with my best friend.  No shame…no fears…just freedom.

I brought myself lazily back onto the shore of that old pond.  I didn’t even bother to put my clothes back on…who was going to see me as far out as I was…the cows that may come venturing up wouldn’t care.  I situated myself back onto the blanket and pulled all of my supplies out of the backpack.  Everything went in its place…the candles, the skulls, the stones.  Today I brought incense with me, and poppets.  I have been making a mojo bag for my roomie…he needs a bit of luck, positivity, and prosperity in his life.  In this blue night sky bag with golden stars, moons and suns…I place a green beeswax poppet.  I had put a hole in the bottom of the poppet and filled it with ground herbs:  Basil, Cinnamon, Ginger, High John the Conquerer and Juniper Berries.  Inside the bag, I also included a male High John Root wrapped in a dollar bill and anointed in a money drawing oil.  I offered these under the sun and asked the sun to bless them.  I added some of his finger nail clippings and hair from his goatee to the bag. (Yes, he knew I was doing all this and why.)

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I thanked the sun for the light and energy he provides and packed everything up…and begrudgingly put my clothes on.  I walked back to the car and put everything into the trunk and drove away….exhausted and recharged at the same time.

Tonight, after my partner and I got back from dinner, I felt the need to have another ritual…cleaning, clearing, banishing.  I smudged the house, the courtyard, everywhere I could think that needed smudging.  I worked banishing magick on neighbors who have long since become a nuisance.  I washed the floors with my Four Theives Vinegar.  I used my besom to sweep out any negative energies or feelings and emotions. I put black candles on my altar along with a Nag Champa candle that a friend gave me.  I called on The Morrigan to push those things that were no longer beneficial or needed out of my life and to mold in me the heart of a warrior. I called on Cernunnos to restore in me vitality and strength and to build in me, the heart of the Wild Man.  I lit every candle on that altar and felt the energy build as the flames danced.

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I danced around the altar to the sounds of Omnia’s song “I Don’t Speak Human.”  I was consumed by the heart of the Wild Man and Warrior.  As the energy calmed, I could feel the heartbeat of the Earth Mother weaving her way through the music. I danced out into the courtyard and watched as flurry of lightning bugs seemed to swarm to the music.

As I write this, I am once again listening to “I Don’t Speak Human.”  Sometimes it’s true.  I speak a language as old as the Earth Mother herself.  It communes with the four-leggeds, the winged ones, the elements around me and the Gods, Goddesses and Spirits of the Ancients.

Blessed Solstice, my friends!

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A Season of Peace

As I sit here right now, I have a hot cup of mugwort and lemon balm tea sweetened with honey sitting in front of me.  Tissues are scattered around the desk and I have Vick’s Vapor Rub under my nose.  Yes, I know, not the witchy, swarthy version of the male witch that you have pictured.  My partner and I went to my folks house for the holidays this weekend and there was such a change in weather….and of course, I had to spend time outside…so I caught a cold.

As we drove the country roads through North Carolina, I could feel my witchy blood dancing through my veins.  I knew, without a doubt that I was going to get to spend time in my woods.  Those woods are so much a part of me and who I am that it is like visiting an old friend who I haven’t seen in a month of Sundays.

The times I have been home lately have all been for funerals.  So many family members and friends have passed over through this year.  Always a whirlwind trip…flying up there, funeral, fly back.  Even though this was a quick weekend trip, it was very relaxed.  We stayed at my aunt’s house with her and her five dogs….so I got all the puppy lovin’s I needed…and it helped me not to miss my dogs so much.

Late Saturday afternoon, I decided that it was time to socialize with my old friend.  I had taken my backpack with me and filled it with all my altar items, including my cloak and skulls.  I started on the trek to the woods but it didn’t seem right without at least one animal companion by my side.  It is funny how the gods and goddesses make the necessary arrangements for us ahead of time.  My dad found two kittens a few weeks back and got them good and tamed up and made them into comfortable little barn cats.  I am not talking about a stark, cold barn.  I mean inside heating and nice comfy beds….I couldn’t have done better myself.

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As I walked into the woods, these two little furballs were right on my heels….one, a little black and white..the other, solid white.  The black and white one tangled himself around my feet more than once, forcing me to try not to fall face forward.  I decided that it was time to cleanse and dedicate my skulls once again.  What better place than my home soil and what better time than the Winter Solstice?  I dug holes deep enough to place each skull in and placed the crow and wolf skull gently into the earth and then covered them with the surrounding soil.  I prayed a blessing over them.  The kittens played contently around me.  The little white one walks over to where the skulls are buried and pats gently at the dirt.

I sat there in the midst of my woods and watched.  I knew deep inside that there would be a crow somewhere close.  I looked into the trees and sure enough, I was greeted by that hard brash caw.  I greeted her with the same greeting I use in the courtyard back home.  I closed my eyes and could feel my years melting away.  I was once again the young boy who sat in the pasture or in the woods talking to the animals…listening to them as they shared their wisdom.

As the dark approached, I could see the Christmas lights of neighboring farms in the distance.  Peace came over me like no other time before.  I breathed in that feeling that can only come from the elements.  I opened my eyes and I was surrounded.  It was a funny sight.  Here I was sitting in the middle of the woods with cats, goats, chickens and a cow all standing around me.  I finished my ritual with them standing near and then wished them all a blessed Solstice.  A night of peace and comfort and familiarity…all sent to me as reminder that sometimes you have to take those roads back to where you started, if only to rekindle what brought the heart forward from that point.

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This morning, Christmas Eve, I went to the woods here behind the condos.  I had my backpack and skulls and candles and cloak….and one little blue chihuahua.  Friz was feeling particularly frisky this morning and as we got to the edge of the woods, he wouldn’t budge.  I stood there trying to get him to move, but then as that calico kitten (who is not so small anymore), ambled up beside him…he moved on.

I settled onto the cold ground.  I put the skulls in the places that felt right and lit the candles.  I placed the crystals carefully around them.  I burrowed down inside my cloak and was oblivious to the two little critters I had burrowing into it too.  As I sit there, I breathe out Christmas blessings into the wind for those dear to me.  I hear very loud purring coming from underneath my cloak and feel warm fur next to me.  I am also greeted by the snores and wrigglings of that blue chihuahua.  I watch in wonder as my wishes and prayers fly toward the heavens like reverse snowflakes.  Again, Mama Crow squawks in the distance.

She reminds me that this season is about the rebirth of the sun.  It is about renewal in us.  Is it any wonder that the animals came to me in my woods back home? This is the season of the horned one.  Is it any wonder that we crave time indoors by the hearth fires and with trees lighted with magickally colored bulbs.  It is the season of the hearth fires.  It is that time of year that we long for the light of the sun.

My wish for you during this holiday season…..nothing more or less than Peace.  Peace with yourself, those around you, your decisions, your dreams, your shortcomings….in all if these things I wish you peace.

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Blessed Be!

The Heart of the Season

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The Wheel of the Year keeps turning.  It seems that just yesterday, we celebrated Samhain….then we watched as the world celebrated everything it was thankful for.  Now, we are looking toward the Winter Solstice and Yule.  Our homes and altars are all decorated with greenery and pine cones.  We smile to ourselves as we light the candles on our Yule log.

We bake and we add more lights and we run to the mall and we run to the grocery store and we run to party after party.  We stand in line at Target and find ourselves getting more and more agitated.  “Can’t that cashier go any faster?  Doesn’t she realize that I have a party I have to go to in two hours and that is not nearly enough time to get ready?”  We give a slight smile to the person out on the corner collecting for charity.  Do we put money in the bucket?  Sometimes….but we have to keep every extra penny to buy gifts for friends and family.  For the month of December, we forget to listen to the heartbeat of the earth.  It may be a tiny bit more faint than normal, but the heart of the earth still beats.

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Yesterday, I went to the grocery store to pick up a few items.  I hurriedly picked up the things I needed because, of course, I had plans for later in the afternoon and evening.  I run with my cart to the cashier and I end up standing behind a little old woman who was standing there counting her pennies.  I looked at the order in front of me, which included generic Ensure, a loaf of bread, cat food and bagged beans.  Apparently, she didn’t have enough money and asked the cashier if she could take the Ensure off of the order.  In that moment, my heart broke.  I couldn’t stand the thought of this little old woman walking out of that store without everything she needed.  I put my hand on her shoulder and asked her if she would mind me paying for her groceries and if we could go get a few extra things.  I told her that she reminded me of my grandma and that I was missing her a lot this time of year.  We went back through that store arm in arm and I could feel the earth’s heartbeat as we talked and laughed.

My grandma used to love to go barefoot….even in the winter.  She told me that the reason she loved being barefoot was because she was able to feel the Great Mother’s heartbeat better.  I have found that to have so many meanings as I think more about it.  It was in making a part of herself more vulnerable that she was able to feel the Great Mother stronger.  I had to stop yesterday and see something outside of myself….be willing to feel the heart of someone else.

I got up this morning and went to the woods….it was wet and cold.  I could feel the breath of spirit on me as I led that little blue chihuahua through the morning mists deeper into a world that he and I have become so familiar with.  When we cross the threshold into ‘our’ woods, we feel spirit, ancestors, animal spirits….we become lost in a time when magick danced through forests freely.  We get caught in that energy and feel more at home than we do in our comfy cottage-like condo.

I get everything set out as usual….skulls, candles, and herbs.  I covered myself in my cloak in front of it all and rolled onto my stomach.  I put my hand on the earth and my ear to my hand.  I could feel the cold of the ground permeating my hand.  In the silence, I could hear the breathing of my little blue dog…but more importantly, I could hear the heartbeat of the earth.  As I lay there lost in the wonder and simplicity of this magickal moment.  I committed, to the Lord and Lady, not to lose the lessons I have learned about this time of year.  I lay there in silent meditation….opening my heart to everything that needed to be taught to my spirit.  I heard Mama Crow and Wolf to the sides of me.  I watched as wolf circled and finally laid down.  Mama Crow landed on the ground beside him and nestled in his tail.

I reminded by them both that this season is a time of rest before the regeneration.  It is time to feed the spirit and heart.  This is the time of year that the earth slows down.  This is when the roots of the plants grow….when the plant produces the beginnings of the buds.  This is the time of year when the internal work is done for the external explosion of spring.

I called on the power of the elements and the Lord and Lady to give me heart and spirit to listen to all things around me.  This is the time when temperatures plummet and animals seek shelter.  My courtyard and surrounding areas are set for any that may need comfort from the elements.  You will find boxes and blankets all over in anticipation of winter visitors.  There are bird feeders and areas for the squirrels to eat….places for stray cats and pooches to dine in secret.  I have seen other neighbors adding to the areas.

There are people in need all around.  I wish to walk in compassion this season.  I wish to nurture kindness.  The homeless person sitting in the cold needs warmth…..coffee, a blanket.  Starbucks here has a program going where you can give money for coffee so that if anyone who can’t afford it comes in for coffee, they can get it at no charge.  If you want to jump start your heart…volunteer at a soup kitchen.  Most of the people that show up are no different from you.  The only difference may be a missed paycheck.homeless

 

It is time for us to “take off our shoes” and feel the heartbeat of the earth.  My goal for this holiday season is to keep things simple, give more of myself, love with complete abandon, and let the magick happen around me.

Blessed Solstice, Blessed Yule, and Blessed Be!

May you spend this holiday season dancing to the song that your heart sings!YB-yule-ball-238849_1024_768

When the Morrigan Calls

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Ever have one of those weeks that seems to beat you like that old rug hanging over the clothesline?  Not that everything happening to you is bad….it’s just that most of everything that throws itself your way is overwhelming.  That is what this week seemed to be…..and I feel just dead tired this weekend.

The first part of the week started innocently enough…with phonecalls from home.  First, the call from Ma….telling me all the things she has dealt with this week from my nieces and my brother’s wife.  Then I get phonecalls from my brother’s wife and nieces explaining to me that my mother is being unreasonable…..there is a reason I live six hours away.

The middle part of the week came with head-butting confrontation with my partner and my roommate.  My partner was in one of those moods that would argue with everything I said.  If I said the sky was blue, he would counter it with the argument that it was more purple-ish.  If I said the grass looked greener, he would say that it looked a little more brown.  The roommate was in one of his OCD modes with regards to all the television electronics…..he insisted we could get better results if I were to call our cable service and blah blah blah.  I told them both that I would put a Ziplock bag over their heads while they slept if they didn’t shut up.

The latter part of the week was haunted by all the idiocy that the people at work could conjure.  We are short-handed….but we are supposed to cut hours?!?  We are doing better financially but we are supposed to keep payroll down?!?  We all stand there dumbfounded as more work is heaped upon us.  My blood pressure ran rampant this week.

I could feel myself drawing into myself on Wednesday.  It is in those times of turmoil that I often retreat into that one squishy confused tower that I have….myself.  It is also in those times of turmoil that I start to see more crows.  I should have guessed what the week might be like when I pulled into the parking lot at work after lunch on Monday to find a murder of crows….funny that name.  One would automatically think ‘flock,’ but instead it’s a ‘murder.’  How appropriate.

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The crows around here can sense when I need magick…when I need my battery jumped.  I saw them everywhere throughout the week.  Mama crow sat at the top of her telephone pole all week long surveying what was going on.  I got home yesterday and all you could hear throughout the condo complex was one crow call after another.  At one point, it seemed so loud that it seemed to drown out all other noises. 

I am many things, but foolish is not one of them.  I know when someone is beckoning to me.  I recognized all of the signs that Morrigan was calling my name….the only thing that could have emphasized it more would have been a crow flying into the middle of my forehead.  It was also this week that I found the remains of a dead crow not far from my condo.  I was able to harvest the skull and seven of the wing feathers…I looked toward the skies and thanked Morrigan for the gift.

When I pulled into the parking lot on Friday to the symphony of crow calls, I was pretty well whooped, but here it was the Summer Solstice.  I needed to prepare myself and have my ritual time.  Unfortunately, one thing after another kept rising up.  Before I knew it, everyone in the house was in bed….but me.  I used this opportunity to load my backpack full of candles and matches and feathers and skulls and crystals and anything else I may need for this time that awaited me.

I snuck out the door as quietly as I could.  I hurried down the sidewalks to the point where one ended at the edge of the woods.  It was if I had stepped into a different universe.  I could feel waves of energy coursing through me.  I settled down onto the floor of the woods, set my candles and crystals around me, invited the directions, the elements…..then I closed my eyes and called to the Morrigan.2012-09-17 20.43.37

Now, I know that we all have ways of seeing deity.  I am fine with that and I won’t blast you for your perceptions if you will offer me that same courtesy.  As I called to her….the smell of the incense I had burning grew stronger….it is a blend I made to bring to mind the forest and the feel of wildness.   I could sense the Morrigan approaching….my heart started to race…not out of fear, but in anticipation.  As I began to spew out all that I had dealt with for the week, I could sense something different in the air.  It felt a bit like when my mother was getting a bit perturbed at me and would stand with her arms folded, tapping her foot.  It was in this moment that I looked toward the heavens and called out, “What would you have me do?” 

I sat and listened intently.  I could hear the answers rumbling forth. “Where is all that fire power?  Where is the fight that is inside of you?  Where is that lion’s heart that was born into you on Lughnasadh?  Where is that heart of a wolf?  Instead you sit here whimpering like a pup.”  At this point, I swear I heard my grandma’s voice, “Get some fight about you, boy!  Don’t just roll over and play possum!”   I could feel a smack upside my head and I could feel it hard.  I realized that all week, I had essentially just been ‘bending over and taking it’ and it wasn’t fun at all.  It was time to let the warrior show…..to let the wolf and lion growl for a bit.  I took out my pen and paper and wrote down the things I knew I needed to do in the coming weeks.  It was time to let that heart of a warrior shine through.  Why was I allowing stupid stuff to get to me?  I had allowed circumstances and situations to take away my power.  IT WILL NOT HAPPEN!!  It was time to show a little backbone, as my grandma would say.

I finished up my ritual time and settled against a tree with my canteen of wine.  I dug my toes into the earth around me….that’s the best way in the world, in my opinion, to ground yourself.  After a time of relaxation under the moon, I packed everything up and walked quietly back to the condo.  I crept in the door, changed clothes, and crawled into bed without anyone waking up.

This morning started as most others….Friz and I taking our Saturday walk.  We walked to the pond….spent some time down there.  The whole time I could hear the voice of one crow in the background.  I knew it was Mama Crow.  I chuckled to myself, thinking of all the crow activity in my life this week.  Friz and I got closer to the condo and right in front of it, on the outside of the serpentine wall, I see Mama Crow on the ground.  She is eating what is left of something dead…I didn’t really feel like investigating.  She looked up at me….did not blink once.  Friz was amazed…he has never stood that still.  In that moment, I could feel her energy…that of a survivor…that of a fighter.  I thanked her.  She went right back to eating and Friz and I went inside.  My mind was racing.  Nothing like being hand-fed the power of the crow so early in the morning.2013-06-22 21.32.18

Blessed Be!

The Simpler Ways

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As I sit here writing this post tonight, it is really difficult believing that Yule is upon us…..Atlanta is not known for its winter-like conditions. Today was warm and pleasant out. Nothing would have led anyone to believe that winter was weaving its magick around us.

I spent the day at the mall with my partner Christmas shopping. He is not pagan, so we celebrate the holidays with many different traditions woven together. The mall during the holidays has got to be my least favorite place to be. Contrary to popular belief, people do not seem to get nicer….but you see impatient, rude, ill-behaved folks growling and spitting at the sales associates and each other. This is why I decided that, for myself, this year needed to take on simpler ways.

We put up the tree the day after Thanksgiving. This is a way for us to bring the outside in. We adorn the buffet and anything that doesn’t move in greenery. This year, we decided that the lights on the tree needed to be reminiscent of our childhood. We incorporated the large colored lights in amongst white lights into the decorations. The decorations essentially became anything that would reflect light. Each year I take the time to explain to those in our household that Winter Solstice and Yule are celebrations to welcome back the light into our homes and lives. As the tree glimmers against the darkness outside, it is such a magickal feeling telling the stories of the Oak King and the Holly King and the coming forth of the Horned One. With the emergence of the Horned One, comes the rebirth of the Sun.tree

This year, my promise to myself was to avoid getting so wrapped up in the doing, doing, doing and just to enjoy the moments around me. To embrace the “now,” so to speak. I have decided that the gifts that I give will be hand-made or activity gifts…..things that will get us out into nature.

One of the gifts that I will be giving my partner is a romantic couples horseback ride that ends in a pastoral setting with wine. For those friends closest to me in the Craft, I will be making amulets that carry Wolf energy and the energy of the Horned One. This year is about bringing nature and energies together to bless those I love. 379507_10150593745917656_631665278_nSanta, to me, represents all that is good in human nature. He reminds me that somewhere deep inside people is a desire to help and guide others. He encompasses those traits that I see in Lord and Lady, and reminds me that we need to take care of those who need it….especially the animals. This time of year is a time of commitment for the present and for the New Year for our household…..always making sure that we give to nature and to those beings in nature. The holidays are always for hanging suet and making sure that there is food and warmth for those that need it. The feral cats around here get boxes with blankets placed inside just outside the courtyard.

I guess the biggest promise I have made in this holiday season is to give more of me. I realize that this can sound a little egotistical….but what I mean is that I choose to be actively present with those I am around. This includes the elementals and the Lord and Lady and all the animal spirits. I got a wild lesson from the fae this weekend. I let myself get a bit too busy and I haven’t talked to them as much in the past month. On Friday night, my roommates keys disappeared. We tore the house apart. They were nowhere to be found. We looked in most places two and three times. A friend suggested it was the fae….it made me think. Another said that they were under a stack of mail…this made me wonder. Yesterday…late afternoon, he found his keys hidden under a stack of mail that we had looked under and through several times. So last night, late, I went and spent some time with the fae in the courtyard. I sang and listened as I heard the whispers in the breeze…watched the leaves rustle.

As we get closer to Yule, I tap deep into myself…..I pull on the energies of those who move deep inside my spirit. The wolf, who is a path finder, a bringer of new ideas returning to the people to deliver teachings and to allow us to learn and participate in knowing our heritage and spiritual path, sharing good medicine. There is Crow who is the keeper of magick and those things sacred and is the messenger. Hawk brings foresight and perspective. Last but not least is Owl…who is all seeing and holds wisdom.

These are the things I long to carry into the new year and wish that I could impart to you. I would love to take away the regret and hurts of the past and the anxiety and fear of the future and teach you to hold onto the magick that you have in your hands right now….in this moment. To show you the spirit of the Goddess in you. To walk hand in hand with the fae and the elements and to be able to dance with the moon.

When I lived on the farm, life was very basic. You did what was needed when it was needed. When I moved to the city, I was a bit overwhelmed. Stress was introduced. It takes work on a daily basis to reconnect with nature and elementals and animal spirits. I am learning, thanks to those mentioned and the hands of the Lord and Lady, to enjoy and be present with them. The gifts they have given me for Yule is teaching me to be….just be. It can be that simple.

Blessed Yule!379859_10150582335272656_1778153051_n