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!

Here Comes the Sun….

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I woke up this morning with a craving for sunshine.  It was a consuming feeling that overtook me the moment I lurched from the bed.  For the past two weeks, it seems that it has been overcast and dreary and rainy here.  Now, I know that sometimes those conditions come with the winter season, but I also know that I need to feel that lightness that comes with a morning walk under a misty sunrise in the south.

Thankfully, I was rewarded, when I looked out the window.  The sun was just beginning to come up over the courtyard wall.  I hurriedly fed Friz and harnessed up that little blue chihuahua and made a mad dash for the gate. Poor little guy’s head must have been spinning, because he looked at me like an animal caught in headlights.

It is really funny.  A friend had posted on his Facebook. wall wanting to know if you considered yourself a Sunrise or a Sunset type of person.  I have always strongly identified myself with the twilight hours and the moon.  Then again, I have always had a strong love for the sun. 

Most of my treasured memories center around a wonderful strong morning or afternoon sun.  I remember vividly going fishing with my best friend on a coolish spring morning while the sun slowly burned the dew off of the grass.  I remember going camping at the beach with my mom and dad as a kid and my dad getting me up early to watch the sunrise over the ocean.  Even memories of home…being greeted by the sun as I walked out the back door toward the chicken coop and the goat pasture.  I used to watch the baby goats dance and jump in the rays of the sun as I put their food out.

This morning, as Friz and I moved through the gate into the glorious light of the sun….I felt a transformation in my spirit.  I could feel that sunshine warming me up from the inside out.  It is also so funny watching that little blue chihuahua sometimes…..it is so evident that he mirrors so much of me.  When he felt that sun on his face, he leaned into it.  He closed his eyes and raised his little face up and it was like he was breathing in the sun.  Then the little booger got really playful.  I decided that this would be a good day for a trip to the pond.  The woods are wonderful, but the sun is masked by the canopy of trees above and I felt that Friz and I both were craving more sun-time.

As we started that familiar trek, I looked down beside one of the cars outside the courtyard and there stood black and white cat.  He is getting braver and braver. Now he is within 10 feet of our condo.  Hmmm…wouldn’t surprise me to see him curled up in the courtyard one morning.  I will have to make him up a sleeping box under the patio porch.  As this thought plays across my brain, the motley crew of a little blue chihuahua, a black and white cat, and a middle aged witch in his cloak head out on an adventure by the pond.

When we arrive, you can smell the sunshine as it caresses the blades of grass.  I leaned against that old oak and could hear it asking me where I had been.  My senses seemed to super sensitive this morning.  The smells, the sounds, the sights all around me were much more vivid and alive.  As I waited for Friz and Black and White Cat to make themselves comfortable in my lap, I quietly thanked Brigid for the warmth and beauty of the fire of the sun…for the blaze that I could feel her stirring in my own spirit.  I thanked Cernunnos for keeping that wild part of me alive that I might experience newly the power of outdoors and the strength of the animals.

I sat and just listened for the longest time.  I heard Mama Crow, of course.  It seemed as though I was getting another lecture.  Maybe this time it was for being away from the pond as long as I have.  I looked overhead and saw four Canadian geese flying.  That unmistakeable honk from the lead goose and the rear goose were penetrating the morning sky.  As I looked around, I could see the beginnings of daffodils springing up.  Here in Georgia, they show there leaf shoots in late January and early February…which still amazes me.855587-shoots-of-spring-flowers-daffodils-in-early-spring-garden

As I leaned against my friend Oak, I could feel the sun’s rays warming me from head to toe.  I watched as it glistened on the coats of Friz and Black and White.  I put my hand on their backs thinking I could feel the warmth of the sun through them.  I did, however, feel the peace of sleep and the warmth of their bodies absorbing that sun-strength.  I watched as a sleepy yawn escaped Friz and Black and White stretched so long that he just about fell off my lap.  As he raced toward righting himself and looking at me with his, “You did not just see that” look, we all began our slow walk back to the condo.  Of course, Black and White disappeared the way he always does just shy of the condo….probably to do his morning hunt (even though he did just devour a half a can of cat food).  What can I say, we like our food around here.

As I opened the condo door, I could see one more creature who was craving the sun this morning.  Merlin.  He sat on the edge of the end table chattering away through the window.  I have always said that when he does that, he is talking to the fairies.  He looked at me with eyes pinned by the sunlight, said his customary “Merrrp” in greeting and went right back to discussing what he needed to with the fae.  Of course, all the picture frames and anything else that was in his way was lying down on the table.  I just decided to clear the space for him…after all, we all deserve to have our place in the sun.2013-01-20 09.27.08

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.

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A Child of Lughnasadh–Harvesting the Seeds I Have Sown

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I was born on August 1.  I am very much a fire sign as you have read before.  August 1 happens to be the celebration of the first harvest.  The Lughnasadh festival is said to have been begun by the Celtic Sun God Lugh as a funeral feast and sporting competition in commemoration of his foster-mother, Tailtiu, who died of exhaustion after clearing the plains of Ireland for agriculture. This is the time for the harvest of the spring plantings and the harvest of the apples and grapes.  This is the beginning of the earth going into its winter sleep.  It is hard for many to see August as the beginning of Autumn, but  as Autumn begins, the Celtic Sun God enters his old age, but is not yet dead.

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I am very much a child of the harvest.  My birthday has always been a time of reflection for me—especially as I get……**gulp** older. Lughnasadh or Lammas has always been a “sow what you reap” time in my ritual.  Yes, I celebrate the coming of the abundance of what I have put out into the universe.  I think about the kindnesses that I have shown and been shown.  I think about all those great things that we like to envision ourselves as having done.  I also think about the things that could have been done better.  Have I given truth to those who have needed it?  Have I poured into those who were empty.  What types of seeds did I sow in my spring?

When I was in the pastorate of mainline churches, I was allowed to spend time with people in their final moments.  I watched as many began to spew forth the regrets that they had and hoped for some absolution before crossing over.  I also watched as some looked peacefully out into the universe and blissfully drifted into another area of existence.  I have always vowed that my life would have as few regrets as I could manage and that peace would be my escort into the summerlands…..therefore I use my birthday and Lammas to look back over the past year and then move forward toward the death of regrets. 

I look back at the springtime of the year and wonder to myself.  Have I planted seeds of joy, friendship, encouragement, healing?  What is it that I desire to harvest with the celebration of the first fruits?  I spent time slowly walking through the courtyard today looking at each plant deeply.  The wheel seems to be turning earlier than usual this year.  The plants began showing themselves in February instead of March or April.  The Magick I have poured into this courtyard this year……I have celebrated with friends….mourned the loss of loved ones….cried for healing for myself and others. The plants, the walls, the ground have all heard my deepest longings and happinesses and pains.  The fae who work that area know me intimately. The Sun God and the Moon Goddess know me by name.  I hear them whisper it often in the warm Summer breeze.

I know that soon the warm sweat that pours from my forehead as I work with the plants will soon be replaced by the clouds of chilled air that come from my mouth. As the Sun God and Moon Goddess prepare themselves for death, the remains of the legacy they leave behind are strongly evident.  It is that legacy that gives us hope for spring.  What legacy do I leave behind on a daily basis?  I look at myself in the mirror.  I am far from death, but then again we aren’t guarranteed anything.  What do I want to be remembered for?  I want to be known as a lover of people and animals.  I want to be known as a healer of spirits, hearts and minds.  I want to be a helper….a friend. 

I sit patiently in the courtyard watching for those seeds to sprout.  I feel the anticipation of the harvest.  Yes, I am impulsive.  Yes, I can be brash.  There is an old saying in the south, “I may not be where I want to be, but thank heavens, I ain’t where I once was.”  Each line on my face, each age spot on my hand represents a seed just waiting for the hope of sprouting and being harvested and used for its perfect purpose.  I stand ready.