Finding Your Strength

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It seems like an eternity since I have sat down to write.  Life has a way of picking us up by the scruff of the neck sometimes and shaking us like a dazed puppy.  Since January, I have had two strokes, my mom has been hospitalized for over a month, and our oldest cat TeeTee is preparing for her journey into the summerlands.

I hate to admit it, but in the midst of everything that has happened, magick tended to be done in hindsight…an afterthought at first to the situation at hand.  There were days after the strokes that I would find myself just sitting…staring out of windows…more conscious of the drooping or the lack of strength on my left side.  Funny, the doctor says that I have had ‘mini strokes.’  In talking to a friend of mine and through reading, I have found out that a stroke is a stroke.  There are no minis or maxis.

Through the challenges of recuperation, there were, constantly in the back of my mind, visions of my great grandma’s sister.  We called her Aunt Carrie.  I often wish I had gotten to know her before the strokes.  She was a beautiful woman always dressed to the nines, very passionate and eloquent from what I was told.  She was a teacher.  When I got to know her, she had been ravaged by stroke after stroke.  They had rendered her bed-ridden, only able to mouth and garble words, and only able to barely motion.

I lived in a world of not feeling like myself, fear of being that shell of a person I once was…but it was in the words of friends and family that I found the strength to push myself.  I found out from my mother that Aunt Carrie was given the opportunity to go through therapy but chose not to.  Her marriage was bad, her husband used to beat her.  She hoped for death but was given an existence with a husband riddled with guilt who now decided that he needed to try to make up for the earlier hell she had to suffer through.

I determined that I would not recreate that scenario for myself.  I had many friends that not only supported me through my healing but also pushed me.  They knew there was more fight in me than I was showing.  They also realized that I had pushed my magick to the sidelines.  Working side by side with them and my doctor, I used magick and medicine toward healing.  I did the therapies…I did the dreamwork.  I utilized stones, crystals and visualization.  I found myself in a good place.  My doctor had even told me that I had made progress that she wouldn’t have expected until the six month mark.

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I built a moss and fae garden to keep me close to the earth at all times…wear hematite for grounding.  Things were looking better daily.  I began to breathe again.

Then we noticed that our older cat TeeTee was losing weight and throwing up more.  We took her to the vet for bloodwork and xrays.  The bloodwork looked ok, but when they pulled up the xrays, I breathed in sharp.  I worked at a veterinarian’s office for ten years.  I had learned to read xrays.  When I saw the large fibrous mass staring back at me, I knew immediately that it wasn’t good.  We discussed options with the vet and came to the conclusion that as long as she wasn’t in pain and seemed to have a decent amount of energy that we would do whatever was needed to keep her happy.  We have blended the stinkiest of foods, hand-fed her, given extra attention…and now as I type this,  we know that it won’t be much longer.

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We know that we have given her the best life she could have.  From a wild, white feral kitten to a spoiled content house cat, she has been cuddled, pampered, catered to, and loved with complete abandon.  Where is the strength we pull on here? The knowledge that she will rest and walk side by side with Bastet…back with the energy and magick she came from.  We also know that they truly never completely leave your heart and side.

When you think you can’t handle anymore…the flood gates tend to open.  Toward the middle of April, I got a call from my aunt.  My mom had been admitted to the hospital that past Saturday.  No one wanted to worry me (give me another stroke) so they didn’t let me know.  My aunt was calling, however, to tell me that my mom had to be put on a ventilator and that the doctor had suggested calling the family in.  We left immediately for North Carolina.  My partner and I sat by her bedside for five days straight.  They had induced a coma…hoping that the rest would do its part in the healing.

My mom has always had a strong faith and believed in energies and such (with our family history, how could she not).  I had witches from all over sending healing and energy toward her.  My brother, who thinks my mom is more along the lines of a conservative christian, asked how I think Ma would feel knowing all those witches were sending her healing.  My aunt walked into the room behind him and whispered in his ear, “I think she would be completely fine with it.” With that comment, she looked at me and gave a wink and kissed the air.

In the process of that hospital stay, my mom coded not once, but three different times.  She always made her way back though.  She is a fighter.  She has always been the bedrock of our family.  I knew that if anything happened to her, that would fall to me.  My first visit, I whispered to her, “I am not strong enough for this yet.” I have no doubt that she heard me.

It has been a long, hard battle but she is now awake, aware, winking, smiling, and breathing air and not on oxygen.  They have decreased the size of the trach opening and have moved the feeding tube from her nose to her stomach.  She is now going through therapy and trying to mouth words.

I feel like in the midst of all of these things happening around me, that I have lived any spare time I have beside ponds, in woods, and walking mountains.  On my last trip to Red Top Mountain, I looked forward at the path ahead.  It was crooked, scattered with rock, muddy in places, but oh so calming and lush.  An old bible verse sprang to my mind, “I lift up my eyes to the mountains, from where my help comes.”

There is an area hewn into the rock on Red Top…I crawled into that cubby and lay my head back.  I woke up an hour later after the most peaceful sleep I have had in months.  Life is going to give us twists and turns, scratches, bruises, pain…and yes, even death.  I have found though that I do have the strength to face each one.  It doesn’t mean it isn’t going to hurt or that there won’t be loss or challenges, it means that I can survive.  I can come out of it stronger…the armor might be a bit dirty or scuffed and even broken in places, but I have the choice of getting up and continuing on, or falling back and dying.

I walked out into the courtyard yesterday after work.  I finally gave up and just started leaving food for the birds, squirrels and anything else that might be hungry out there.  Mama Crow was perched on the wall eating peanuts.  She looked straight at me and gave me her comforting ‘Graaaaaaaackkk’

I will keep getting up as long as I am able.

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The Death of the Green Man

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As the seasons swirl around us, we are entering into the transition from light into darkness and back into light again.  We have gone from the wild abandon of summer into the time when the Green Man’s colors begin to change and death overtakes him to make way for his transition into the Holly King.  Our lives seem to always be centered around transition.  Those things that we wish we could control…we have no control over at all.

As we move into this Yule season and cold overtakes the Earth (even in Atlanta, we live in anticipation of the shift in weather).  The briskness that comes with the Northern winds jolts us into a state of expectation.  As we celebrate the different manifestations of our own holiday with others who celebrate in their own ways, we set our eyes on the approach of the longest night of the year….knowing that the light of spring is not far off.

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 Over the past few years, I have become intimately acquainted with the green man through visits from an unexpected stranger.  Someone I have introduced to you as simply, the Green Wizard.  I have learned first hand what a kind, gentle spirit can accomplish through him.  I have learned to listen more intently to what the earth teaches…all through him.  I have learned to trust the heart of faithful friends more. I have learned to love someone who could do absolutely nothing for me other than be a friend and a magickal confidante…someone who represented purity of heart and selfless abandon.

I found out yesterday that the Green Wizard has journeyed into the summerlands.  I received more information this afternoon.  He apparently collapsed on the sidewalk of a small town close to the Tennessee border.  They took him to the hospital where it was found that his heart was giving out.  Boomer, his dog, was put in holding in the local animal shelter.  He quietly slipped from this plane in his sleep.  They found my name and Atlanta, Georgia written on a sheet of paper in his pocket.  The authorities assumed that I might be the next of kin.  I explained that I was a friend and asked what happened to his dog.  I was also told where his pup, Boomer was located.

I engaged my cousin who does animal rescue and she arranged for someone who works with her to go and get Boomer and set up a fostering situation.  There are many more things that have transpired due to his homelessness…especially since there was no identification of any kind associated with him and no direction as far as family or even a name…the one thing that was told to me by the contacting authorities was that at least he knew friendship…there were many who passed on knowing nothing but rejection and hatred.

In my mind, though, I will always see him dancing on the wind.  I can close my eyes and see his ruddy face, his eyes twinkling with hopes and dreams and always that sparkle of magick.  He enjoyed the freedom of being who he was…an extension of the wild God.  I can hear his hearty laugh echoing through the branches of the trees in the woods.  He will forever be Peter Pan to me….always dancing with the moon.

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Am I sad?  Yes…but I can never forget that wonderful spirit.  He always looked for that bit of magick in all things…whether it be an old pair of sneakers…a dog that was considered a throw-away…or a weathered old wizard who seemed to be a little out of sorts himself.

Especially, in this season, I know that so much of the world seems to slumber…waiting patiently for rebirth.  It will be the same for my Green Wizard.  He only sleeps now….we have known each other before in other lives and other magickal places.  It is only a matter of time before we see each other again.

I am excited for him.  This is a new adventure….a fresh beginning coming with the new moon.  This is his chance to be reunited with his beloved Calliope…a chance to dance and finally fly among the stars.  I am privileged to have been able to be a part of his magick.2015-11-19 07.28.06

His energy will always soar around me….sneaking up behind me when I least expect it…laughing heartily at the unexpected.  He was a child of the moon and sun…the earth was his bed and the grass, his pillow.  He was friend to the winged, and four-legged.  He loved completely and wildly and unconditionally.

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As the Green man sleeps, the blood of the Holly King courses through his veins…anticipating his awakening beneath a shield of ice and snow.  With magick, nothing ever completely dies.

And so he goes…with the heart of a true witch.

Blessed Be!

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The Season of the Lion

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As we come into the season of Lughnasadh, we have moved into the astrological sign of Leo.  Since my birthday actually falls on Lughnasadh, I have always felt this time of year brought more strength and more power into my life and to my path in the Craft.  I have spent this past week journeying into the soul of the Lion and looking at his attributes.  One book that I have been reading is Steven D. Farmer’s “Animal Spirit Guides.”  Here is what he says about the mighty Lion:

If Lion shows up, it means:

Hold your head up high and keep your dignity, no matter what you’re faced with.

You’re much stronger than you think you are and need to use your emotional strength in this situation.

Call upon the well of courage that’s available to you to confront this uncomfortable situation.

Listen closely and discern carefully before acting, rather than moving ahead impulsively and recklessly.

When faced with a tough decision, follow your heart rather than what you think you should do.

Call on Lion when:

You feel particularly stressed or beaten down by any situation and want to boost your sense of power and self-confidence to deal with these circumstances.

Your dignity and integrity have been called into question and you want to recapture your self-respect.

You’ve been called upon to assume a position of authority and leadership.

You’ve taken on a project that at first seems overwhelming, even though you know you have the necessary skills and intelligence to complete it.

If Lion is your power animal: 

You have a strong presence and a dignified manner, such that people always notice when you walk into a room.

Although your anger can sometimes be triggered rather easily, you generally have a great deal of compassion for others.

You’re a natural leader and have great organization skills.

You’re at your best when you function as part of a group or community rather than being alone.

You like to stretch your capabilities and are always seeking to learn more.

As I read through this passage in the book, I realized that different energies encompass us at different times based on our need.  While the thoughts behind having Lion as your power animal definitely seems to ring true to those who are born under the sign of Leo, there are other animals that walk beside me on a more consistent basis…however, I do feel that lion power ever presently watching over my shoulder, always instilling in me my sense of self.

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As we walk through day to day life, we encounter those things that constantly tear at our spirits.  We are bombarded with words and images that tell us that we are less than we should be.  Those who we thought were friends or lovers rip our hearts out and stomp them, either unaware of what they are doing or vindictively trying to hurt us.  It is in these trying times that we should pull on the strength of Lion.  He stands dutifully guarding us, poised to attack anything that comes against us.  He stands in quiet strength until we decide to access that part of our spirit…and then he readies himself for the kill.

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This year has been a year that this Leo has had to learn to roar, and roar loudly.  Over the past two years there has been a series of new beginnings in my life.  Each time one of these new opportunities surfaced, there was a part of me that wanted to shrink back and settle into the background of life.  Each time, an advocate, human and spirit would intervene…pushing me to the forefront, encouraging me to fight, to meet each beginning head on with strength and courage.  Whenever I rose to the challenge, success became imminent and a new challenge would follow.

I watched over the past couple of years as my life started to build on itself like a magickal staircase….each opportunity building on the one before it.  The more I rose to the challenges, the more I felt something begin to build inside of me.  I found that the little annoyances of life seemed not to be such annoyances anymore and they started to work themselves out.  I found that the way I carried myself was evolving, and as a result, the way people responded to me changed.  I observed those who used to challenge me, no longer challenged me.  These people, figuratively speaking, started moving out of my way to let me pass.

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With each success, though, there were different challenges.  These challenges seemed to be more internal.  I have been a part of the business world for as long as I have been working.  I have come to realize that the success of the business is not necessarily  attributed to the customers.  It comes from those who work internally.  If they don’t work together and take care of that business, the customers just won’t come.  It was the same with me.  When stresses would appear in my life, my body would attempt to break down.  I would become sick or end up hurt in some way…or have some past emotional garbage try to surface.  It was in these times that I had to stop and realize (or have it pointed out to me) what was going on and to deal with the issue and press forward.  In my own weakness, I found more strength than I actually thought I possessed.

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As I said earlier, this has been my year to learn to roar.  In my study of the lion, I have realized that a roar is not a yell…it is not strained.  It is simply a different part of the lion’s voice…and is a part of who they are.  According to Nature Center Magazine, “A male lion may roar to let the other members of the pride know that all is well. The female lion’s roar is usually different than the male’s roar. They are much quieter than the large male lions. A female can call out for roaming or lost cubs, and she can give a roar to bring the other adult pride memebers back to help in case of danger.  So a lion’s roar can be explained rather simplistically. It is used to communicate with the rest of the pride. It’s like a quick status update or a call to come home.”   Solitary lions tend to stay quiet. Only those who belong to a pack tend to roar.

I had no idea until I began my studies that female lions roared.  We are always shown the male lion roaring on documentaries.  I found it fascinating that the male roar was more for status updates…the females roar, however, was to call for those roaming or lost or as an alert for danger.  Most see the female as the more docile in the pride, but it their responsibility to guard the pride and to teach the cubs to hunt.  The females of the pride do almost all of the hunting.

As I walked to the woods this morning with Friz in tow, I could feel the heat of the summer breeze hard on the back of my neck.  It is funny, my grandma used to refer to that type of breeze this time of year as the lion’s breath or the dragon’s breath.  My mind ran in circles as I got closer to the canape of trees.  As each month of this year has passed, I have become more aware of myself…not just who I am, but what lies deep within me.  I have been getting more and more acquainted with my authentic self.  I have to admit….I like this part of myself tremendously.  I have found that part of myself to be strong, compassionate and unfaltering.  I have found that part of myself to be more open to others, but uncompromising as far as who I am.  I love harder, deeper and with more abandon…but I am not willing to be bypassed or stomped on.

As I settled down into the bed of leaves beneath me, I could feel something welling up inside of me this morning.  I was feeling the rumblings of my own roar.  It wasn’t surging forward to threaten anyone.  It was leaping forth to say, “Here I am.  Like me or not, this is me and I am more than happy with where I am and what lies ahead.  My spirit is strong and my teeth are sharp.  I stand strong and will not let my heart falter.  I stand strong in my own freedom.”

Blessed Be!

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Magick with a “K”

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It seems as if my pens, paper and computer have lain dormant for quite a while.  As I relaxed on the sofa this evening after a day of hiking, I could feel my thoughts bringing the past few weeks together into a blog post.  I peeled back the blanket I had been napping under and made my way to my desk…all under the grimacing face of a little blue chihuahua who had made himself far too comfortable nestled in the crook of my leg.

I made myself a promise at the beginning of 2015.  I vowed that I would spend more time living life…experiencing new things…going on new adventures.  I had started seeing life as too routine…a little too mundane.  I was starting to settle into middle agedom.  It was becoming far too easy just to come home, put on pajama pants and crash mindlessly in front of the television.

My partner and I had planned a trip to Orlando with some of his family.  The planning all came to fruition a couple of weeks ago.  We had made arrangements to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios and to the Magic Kingdom at Disney World.  I am a huge Potter nerd, so that part of the trip was for me and me alone.  My partner was so patient as I rattled on about the movies and books.

We got to Universal early that morning.  I practically flew through the park…I had to locate Diagon Alley.  As I rounded one corner, there was the Night Bus.  Stan Shunpike was standing next to it with the shrunken head in the window.  It wasn’t exactly easy finding the entrance to Diagon Alley, so we engaged the young man in conversation.

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He directed us toward the entrance. As I moved through the brick wall, my breath caught in my throat.  It was a sight like I have never seen.  It felt as if I had just come home after a long, long trip.  All around me was whimsy and magic and  all things fantastical.WWoHP-Diagon-Alley1

 

My partner stood back and smiled as he watched me run from store to store…gazing in all the windows.  He told me later that the only thing missing was the broom…otherwise, I was flying on my own.  We went on the Gringott’s ride, we wondered through the shops.  We stepped into the line for Ollivander’s Wand Shop.  Even with the children in line, there seemed to be a type of reverence as we stood there.  We were ushered into the heart of the shop and an older woman was chosen for the wand ceremony.  Her excitement could hardly be contained as the birch wand with the dragon’s heart string chose her.  Then as we were taken into the purchasing area, I chose Sirius Black’s wand…interactive of course.

I made my purchase and my partner and I went to lunch at the Leaky Cauldron.  The traditional English fare and butterbeer had us stuffed to the gills.  As I looked at the stack of cauldrons beside me, Jay announced that he needed to use the facilities.  We walked over toward the restrooms and I wandered into the beastiary.  I walked outside to try my wand with the interactive windows and saw a little girl wildly waving her wand at the window.2015-03-10 12.49.57

 

I watched the little girl as she dropped her arms down by her side and her chin went to her chest.  I heard her say, “I guess I’m just not magical.”  It broke my heart.  I couldn’t stand the thought of someone whose heart was so excited about all the magic around her (whether it is an illusion or real) thinking that there was no magic in her at all.  I knelt down beside her and held her arm and wand toward the window.  I told her that all she needed to do was to picture the magic happening with all she had.  As she made the motion toward the window, the bird stopped singing and toads began to move.  Her eyes lit up and she yelled out, “I do have it!  I do have magic!”  Her mother came up to me a moment later and told me that she really appreciated the kindness I had shown her daughter and that now even she believed there really was magic in the world.2015-03-10 17.42.35

The past few weeks have found me at Hogwart’s, Diagon Alley, and every part of the Magic Kingdom.  I have seen children and adult’s alike excited by the very thought of magic being real.  At the end of the day, I was able to hold on to that excitement because magick encompasses every area of my life.  It swirls around me and within me on a daily basis.  Many people have asked me why I spell magick with a ‘k.’  A friend posted something on Facebook that said it best:magick

 

 Didn’t we all grow up entranced by the illusion?  Isn’t that what first brought us to magick in the first place?  That thought…that hope….that somehow, someway….it all has to be real…isn’t that what motivated us to find our way to the Craft.

To others we may seem odd…eccentric.  After all, we believe in spells and energies and potions and all manner of magickal beings.  So what?  I am who I am.  I am a witch.2015-03-28 22.04.08

 

Last night, I fell asleep in the woods.  I went to the woods after a stressful day at work.  I left my cell phone and anything else that might remind me of the modern world behind.  I wrapped myself in my cloak and made my way to that familiar spot in the woods.  I dug out a hole and surrounded it with stones and built a small fire.  I stared at the sky and felt the cold ground beneath me as I called out to the elements and the goddess to clear my mind and awaken me to the sounds of the earth around me.  I remember starting to count the stars.  I awoke at midnight with the fire completely gone and a chill to my bones….but I was relaxed.  It was as if the earth herself soaked up the stress of the day and pushed her own strength into me.

I woke up early this morning to go hiking at Red Top Mountain State Park.  I went with friends and we took a picnic lunch.  There was no agenda….just a need to escape into nature and re-connect.  We walked, we laughed, we absorbed earth, wind, and water energy….we soaked up the fire energy of the sun.  For today…magick rushed around us.  We could all feel it sweep the week away and usher in renewal.  2015-03-28 11.54.30 HDR

 

We got back to the condo and our bodies called for rest.  We each snuggled under blankets and let our minds be captured by dreams.  I dreamed of the magick of the moon…the stars…simple things that hold far more magick than they are credited for.  Sometimes letting ourselves be swept away in the magick of those simple things is some of the most powerful magick around.2015-03-28 22.55.22

 

Blessings my dear friends.  Blessings.

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!

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.

Blessed Be!2015-01-02 23.53.58

Everyone Has a Story…

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Our lives are a collection of stories.  Truths about who we are, what we believe, what we came from, how we struggle and how we are strong.  When we can let go of what people think, and own our story, we gain access to our worthiness–the feeling that we are enough just as we are, and that we are worthy of love and belonging.

–Dr. Brene Brown–The Hustle for Worthiness

This time of year, we are regaled with every type of story and legend that one could imagine.  From childhood, we are taught the legend of Santa Claus.  We are told of this large, big-hearted man dressed in a red suit who watches every move we make.  As witches and pagans, we tell and re-tell the stories of the Goddess and the Holly King and the return of the light when the solstice comes upon us.

As I walked through the stores at the mall this weekend, I saw stacks and stacks of storybooks.  There was everything from “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” to “Grimm’s Fairy Tales.”  As I walked haggardly through the aisles, I started people watching.  I wondered what the stories were behind the faces of the people passing me by.

A dear friend of mine from back home came to mind.  She was a strong, determined woman.  You see, she had survived a concentration camp in Germany.  She was a singer in her younger days and when the Nazi regime took power, her mother made the daughters bleach their hair platinum so that they looked ‘more German.’  She traveled the German countryside by bicycle to avoid the SS soldiers.  One day, she had taken a route she had taken many times over.  She was stopped by a Nazi soldier. Her Jewish features would betray her to this soldier and she was sent to Dachau concentration camp.  Because of her musical background, she was used as entertainment for the soldiers.  At night, she would sing to soothe the nerves of the children imprisoned.  She would tell stories of how women who were able to hold on to one piece of treasured jewelry (including her own mother’s diamond) would swallow the jewelry first thing in the morning, then with the evening bowel movement, clean the jewelry and hold onto it for dear life as they slept.  This beautiful woman was and is a survivor.  She will tell you that is by faith and determination that she was spared.  It is the same determination that you see in every part of her life today.  It encompasses every fiber of her being.

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As I walked through the woods this morning in the wee hours, I thought of my own story.  Mine is a story entwined with many things that children should never be expected to endure, but it is also woven together with magick.  When I think back, even in the days of the sexual abuse, I can see where magick came to the rescue.  Even in those days, I was being taught by the Lord and Lady how to bring vision and intent to the front of my mind.

I was reminded that even in the midst of the deepest depressions, I was being guided by Crow magick.  I was being taught not to dwell inside myself for too long, but in those times of depression, to reach outside of myself and toward others. It was in the times of my darkest depressions that I was able to be the biggest help and guidance to others.

I watched Mama Crow this morning hopping from tree to tree.  I watched as Friz sought patches of non-existent sunshine as a soft drizzle fell on us. I lifted my face into the light mist and thought about the fact that the darkness was receding bit by bit and that the sun was returning.  I visualized the goddess rising from her sleep dressed all in white, silver and pale blue.  She stands before the Horned God and offers her hand to him.  They begin a slow waltz across the wooded floor carpeted with leaves and debris.  As the light becomes stronger, the dance becomes faster…raw and wild.  At the end of the dance, the maiden becomes heavy with child…ready for the next turn of the wheel.  Her story…always continuing…a circle…never truly ending.2014-12-20 18.26.16

My story continues…with every step I take…every breath.  I am the only one who can decide that the pages stay blank.  My book of shadows is filled with little reminders of who I am:  feathers and spells, things I have found on my journeys, pictures that I love…things that all tell my story.  To anyone else who ever found it….it would seem a book filled with useless trash…but it is me.  It shows that I, just like my dear friend who survived the concentration camp,  I am determined….I am a survivor.  Don’t we all have to escape from our own prisons daily?  Don’t we all have to swallow those things we find valuable sometimes for the sake of others?  Don’t we have to dig through crap on a daily basis?  My story swirls with magick.  It holds adventure and excitement….love, power and magickal creatures untold.2014-12-17 23.07.35

An old friend died this past week.  I got to know her when I was working on a Lakota reservation years ago.  She would tell me stories of stories that her mother had told her of life after the white man invaded the Lakota way of life.  She would talk of the strength of her people…she would talk of the power of the Great Spirit…and she always talked of where she was going tempered by the experiences of where she had been.  Her eyes sparkled…her spirit danced.  Oh how I loved the heart of this warrior…stronger than any male counterpart.  I can see her dancing across the summerlands…this warrior doesn’t carry a shield.  She carries with her the story that she created and engaging anyone willing to listen.

What is your story?  I would love to hear it?  Weave your magick for me.  My email is: weatheredwiseman@yahoo.com

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