Honoring the Warrior Spirit

US Marines Patrol Remote Part Of Helmand Province Near Kajaki Dam

 

I come from a big military family.  I am one of the only men who never served.  My grandfather, uncles, cousins, have all served in wars.  My grandfather fought in World War II, my uncles in the Korean and Vietnam wars, and my cousins in Desert Storm.  Each went into battle, not with the intention of killing for the sake of killing, but with freedom and justice balancing delicately on their shoulders.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day.  Most think of it as an excuse for a three day weekend, others think of it as a reason to barbecue.  These are wonderful ways to celebrate this holiday, but for me, it takes on much more meaning.  I remember an uncle who spent time in a concentration camp in Germany for being a sympathizer.  He made it out alive, miraculously, but lived his life constantly scarred by the memories.  I remember, as a child, always making trips to the military bases because one of my relatives was being deployed overseas.  I have tremendous respect for our military.

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I admire my uncles and cousins who have served and they never made me feel any less important for not serving.  My uncle once said to me, “It is not always about fighting in a foreign land.  Freedom also has to be won right here at home…in our day to day life.  As long as you live a life of integrity and have strength of character and showing kindness to those who need it, you are demonstrating justice and freedom.  It is your destiny to keep honor and hope alive every day of your life.”  I remember the words he spoke to me every time he hugs me before getting on that plane for another assignment.  This last time it was Afghanistan.  He and my aunt Skype every morning before he starts work and you can hear the strength in his voice…he is there for me, and her, and every other person here in the United States of America.

Friz and I took our time walking to the woods this morning.  It was already feeling heavy and humid.  The coolness of the woods was what I needed. We rounded the sidewalk at the back part of the complex and moved toward a quiet leaf covered sanctuary.  I laid everything out….the skulls, candles, crystals…all the way I normally do and then I sprawled out in the middle of the leaves.  The coolness of the ground beneath me almost made me feel as though I could doze off.  2014-03-19 19.15.00

The Morrigan has been on my mind all week long.  Maybe it’s because the dark of the moon is approaching….maybe it is because everywhere I have turned this week, I have seen crows, crows, and more crows.  Maybe it is because I have had to call on that warrior spirit many, many times over the past weeks.  I understand that we are to look for the love and light around us, but sometimes life is honestly just a battle.  It is in the midst of those challenges that I have had to listen closely to the words my uncle spoke to me.

Life is not always about having the sword or spear at the ready…the path we walk should not be paved with blood and annihilation.  We don’t do damage just for damage’s sake.  The warrior’s spirit must always be tempered with wisdom.  There is a quote from the movie, “The Hobbit”  that I think describes it perfectly:

  True courage is about knowing not when to take a life, but when to spare one.

 

Believe me….I am not one of those witches whose life revolves around fairy dust and nothing but love and light.  There is a place for folks like that and I have no disagreement with them, but when I was reborn into this life, the body that I inhabit was given a good dose of fight and temper and a sword for a tongue.  Over the years, I have had to learn when to use all of those qualities along with something my grandma imparted to me…a respect for all beings and their life forces.

My first inclination has always been to wield the sword first and then look to see who I may have hit.  As I have matured, I have learned to ‘bring the proper tool for the fight.’  Don’t bring a battle axe when a slingshot will do the job.

I remembered sitting down with the grandmothers and grandfathers during the summer I worked on the Lakota reservation in South Dakota.  They would tell me stories that their grandmothers and grandfathers had told to them.  I remember hearing of ‘counting coup.’

Counting coup was the act of striking or touching the enemy in battle with a bow, spear, or coup stick.  It was an act that was meant more for humiliation than and act of bloodshed.  After counting coup several times on an enemy, to kill them would have been dishonorable and seen as a waste of ammunition.

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We are too busy now a days counting coup….it is way too easy to try to humiliate others and make them ashamed of the way they think, act, practice than to be honorable.  All for the sake of what?  Making us look better?  When that actually works, you let me know.  War, whether in the days of the Lakota or in the days of our Celtic ancestors, was never fought for the trivial.  It was about home, food, survival, and freedom.

Life has become harder.  Life is a constant battle.  The heart of the warrior always stands strong and honorable with the good of more than himself/herself directly in front of his/her eyes.  There are times when things have to be cut down and cut away.  We must have the wisdom to recognize when that is needed and we must make a clean cut with a sharp blade.

I will be in the woods again tomorrow.  I will be giving honor to the warrior spirit that runs rampant through the veins of my family.  I will be giving thanks for that same blood that runs through my veins.  Even though I have never served a moment in the military, I stand with my head held high because I have done what my uncle asked of me.  I have always tried to live my life with integrity and strength of character.  I have tried to sow honor and hope wherever I go….I hold that warrior spirit.

Blessed Be!268d80b80fa42368ed9720a13600437b

 

 

 

 
**I must apologize. I have since removed a piece of work attached to this article called “Tatanka” by Maureen Farrelly. I should not have used it. It came up in a Google search.

Blessed Be!

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Though the Sorrow May Last Through the Night…

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I have been hated for many things over the years.  I have been hated for things I have done….things I have said….my belief system….who I am.  Through all of the persecution, I have always tried to be the bigger man.  I have always tried to reason with my brain and respond with compassion and love.

For some reason, though, the events that have bombarded the United States and the world over the past few months have drowned my heart in sorrow.  I am referring to the persecution of homosexuals in Uganda and Russia….also this “Turn the Gay Away” bill that seems to be rearing its ugly head in so many states.men-holding-hands-3CROP

I am a tolerant man.  I try to respect and honor all faiths. I try to respect and honor all races.  I try to embrace the differences that make us all individuals and make this world a more interesting place to live.  I try to surround myself with people who have the same kind of heart.

For those of you who don’t know, I served as a pastor for two mainline denominations for over ten years.  In those ten or more years, I was only met with intolerance once.  In that instance, the pastor of the church told me that he suspected me to be gay.  At the time, I was not out of the closet or quite as sure of who I am as I am now.  He told me that I needed to have an HIV test done and have the results submitted to him and his wife.  I had never been so humiliated.  In that moment, I hated myself for who I was and tried to hide anything about me that would give me away.

Fortunately, after that incident, I was hired into a large church in Charlotte.  I was met at the door with open arms and a love for any uniqueness that made me…me.  In time, I became more confident in who I was and more secure in my sexuality.  I remember one day when I went into my lead pastor’s office.  I had requested a meeting so that I might talk to him about my being gay.  He sat thoughtfully in his chair with his glasses perched on the tip of his nose.  I mustered all of my courage and said, “Pastor, I am gay.”  No reaction.  I said, “Pastor, perhaps you didn’t hear me.  I am gay.”  No reaction.  He picked up his bible and started thumbing slowly through it.  All I could think was that I was about to be blasted with scripture.  Instead, he turned to me and smiled.  He said, “Did you grow an extra head or something?”  I said, “No.”  He looked at me and laughed and said, “You are still one of the best pastors I have been blessed enough to serve with.  Now get back to work.”  With that declaration, he pulled me in for a hug, then put his hand on my shoulder and sent me back to my office….feeling more loved than I ever have.

There was a song we did in that church….the lyrics still come to my mind as I type:

I’m trading my sorrow
I’m trading my shame
I’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord

I’m trading my sickness
I’m trading my pain
I’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord

[Chorus:]
And we say yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord
Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord
Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord Amen

I’m pressed but not crushed persecuted not abandoned
Struck down but not destroyed
I’m blessed beyond the curse for his promise will endure
And his joy’s gonna be my strength

Though the sorrow may last for the night
His joy comes with the morning

Thinking of these lyrics today reminded me….it is only in squeezing or crushing the grape, that the sweetness of the juice is released.

I know that there are those out there who would call themselves Christian who would rather spew out hate and vitriol than take the teachings of the biblical Christ to heart.  My days in the church were not spent studying a Christ who belittled and hated.  I spent hours in my office composing sermons of a Christ who sat and ate and drank with tax collectors and prostitutes (the vilest of the vile in his day).  I became acquainted with a Christ who, when told that a woman was caught in an act of sin and should be stoned, looked down at the ground and said, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”  He then looked at the woman with compassion and asked, “Where are your accusers?” She said, “There are none.” “Neither do I condemn you…go and sin no more.”004-jesus-washes-feet

My fondest memory of this Christ who receives the blame for so much of the hatred that spews from man….is the Christ who spent the night before his death washing the feet of his disciples.  He knew that one of them would betray him that very night….but he chose to take on the role of servant.  And again, I studied of this Christ….the one whom people blame for their right to picket soldiers funerals, and burn the sin out of people…this Christ returned from the grave to offer those who had denied him and spat on him and killed him, another chance for redemption.

So, if I have all of these wonderful memories of the church…all these wonderful remnants of who Christ was, buried inside me, why did I become a witch?  Because Christianity, to me, was limiting.  Why limit myself to one god….even if he was a three in one.  Gods and Goddesses encompass so much more than we are willing to give them credit for.  Humanity has always wanted to keep that which we don’t understand confined….if you don’t believe this, go to a zoo.

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My trip to the woods this morning was a heavy-hearted trip.  As Friz and I settled in, Friz could tell there was something different about my spirit.  He quietly licked my face. He nuzzled me…he stayed close by.  I called on the elements, the directions…and this time I did not stop at the Lord and Lady I normally call upon.  I called upon the Christ that I had been acquainted with years ago.  We chatted about those who are using his name to hurt and harm and hate.  We also chatted about those followers of his who actually “get it.”

It doesn’t matter what faith you pursue or what you believe….there is never a place for hatred.  Hatred only destroys.  It turns the hater into a predator whose thirst for blood can never be sated.  It turns those who are hated into prey…constantly pursued and never able to rest.

As I lay back onto the earth this morning, I saw Mama Crow perched in the trees above.  She has only ever asked one thing of me….”Be true to myself.”  I have not been able to hide who I am in years, and I do not intend to start now.

I will stand tall with my sword at the ready…not fighting for the sake of the fight, but so that change may actually be affected.  I will love stronger than I have ever loved, and with every swing of the sword, I shall breathe compassion and healing over any who become part of the battle.  I will never go back into hiding. Witch or gay, my true self will always shine through.

As I lay there this morning, feeling Mother Earth pouring her magick into me and the Wild Man of the Woods pouring his stamina into  me,  I looked to my side to see a grouping of daffodils…not yet bloomed, but the color of yellow just barely peeking through.2014-02-22 15.13.15

Though the sorrow may last for the night
Joy comes with the morning!

Blessed Be!

Battling the Monsters

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You know,  I have never been afraid of exploring woods, forests, caves…all those places that people say you should be careful.  I have never been afraid of wild animals…well, any kind of animal for that matter.  In my adulthood, I have never held any fear of another human…something that many around me would say might eventually get me killed…but still I have no need to fear those around me who might irritate the piss out of me.  I hold a healthy respect for the darkness, but I have never feared it….darkness to me is more like an old friend.

What is it that I am afraid of?  Life.  Life scares the living shit out of me.  Now, I am not talking about that life that I live everyday surrounded by elements and spirits and nature and things of that sort.  I am talking about those monsters that wait around every corner and under beds and in closets….the circumstances that come against us and knock us on our asses.  I am talking about those things that lurk in the shadows around us just waiting to devour us.  They frazzle our nerves.  They chew our self esteem to shreds…..they mysteriously empty our wallets and purses.

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It seems that all through November, December and now, January, that I have had to live my life with my sword wielded.  In November, our roommate lost his job…something that is pretty much dealt with as you deal with it.  But in his job searches, he has been given the run-around, been made false promises.  I don’t see the professionalism that once was striven for by companies.  December was a time of learning to live simply….limited finances….pinching a penny so hard it would bleed.  And now, here is January.  This past Thursday, I was in a car accident.  It was raining and I had to slam on brakes behind another car…only to skid right into his back end.  Of course, along with a banged up car, it comes with a ticket priced in the hundreds.

Sometimes, I understand those people who sit huddled up in corners rocking back and forth. I have wanted many times, over the course of the months… just wanted to sit in the corner here with my thumb in my mouth rocking…..constantly rocking.  Instead, I must keep my sword wielded.  I must constantly remember that monsters were meant to be defeated.

Monsters sneak up on you.  They come at you when you least expect it.  They use the unknown to bring about fear.  Most monsters are just hair, teeth and noise.  It is important for us to remember these things….but most importantly, Monsters have their own weakness.  I always remember the part of “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” where Yukon Cornelius tickles the ‘Bumble’ until he falls off of the cliff….then Hermie pulls all of his teeth.  I try to remember that there is a weak place in all Monsters.

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Monsters operate primarily in our fear of the unknown and our unpreparedness.  I guess the thing to remember is not to fear the unknown and to always be prepared for everything.  Good Luck with that.  For me, it always seems easier to be prepared for a fight.

I had a meltdown today.  It came on quickly and with ferociousness.  It reminded me of watching someone turn from human to werewolf.  Everything had overwhelmed me to the point that I had to have a release.  Screaming was that release.  After I screeched a while, I walked out into the courtyard and had a talk with Mama Crow.  “I have no control over anything!  Nothing is going the way it should!”  After I voiced it, the Monster didn’t seem so ferocious.  I could see Mama Crow in the distance turning her head from side to side.  “It is called survival.  In the days of the ancients, the dangers were bear and wolf and those who were out to kill.  Now the dangers have become car payments and insurance and power bills….the need for money. No, it is not something that will devour you, but it has become that monster that hangs over your shoulder every day….threatening every fiber.  You must always arm yourself against the fears that it brings.”

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I have never been lost in the woods.  I have been in places I was not familiar with and didn’t know where I was….but I have never been lost in the woods.  I always turn to my friends there….the animals, the plants, the trees…to show me my way.  They have never disappointed me.

My roommate, tonight, suggested that, to calm myself, I needed to go do some magick.  I settled in front of my altar…I poured my needs out over that altar like melted fat.  I called on the power of the god and goddess.  I called on my spirit helpers…I called on my ancestors.  My needs were simple…my backbone needed a little extra strengthening…along with my heart.  I need to see more moving forward…not so many backward steps.  I need more cunning….more wise.  I want to respond….not react.  I need more faith and a lot less fear to take root inside of me.

I intend to have all of those things.

Whatever happens, happens.  I intend to do as Mama Crow does when she flies.  She adjusts her wings to the way the wind moves.  She doesn’t expect the wind to move for her.  She flies with it….not against it.  And I have watched that old bird fight for what she has with everything she’s got.

I can’t allow the Monsters to scare me anymore.  Their teeth have all been pulled….I wear their claws as a necklace.

I have never been lost in the woods….I’ve not known where I am sometimes, but I have always been shown the way.2014-01-05 18.43.42

Blessed Be!

That Place Between Sleep and Awake

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We have all had those moments when it seems like we are lost in our own darkness.   Having struggled with depression for most of my life, I have learned to fight my way through the tangles and snarls of vines that depression seems to lay along the floors of the forests of life….or so I thought.  Over the past couple of months, I have been making my way through those forests…plodding out trails…hacking through the vines, only to find myself at the beginning of the trail I had started, wandering aimlessly like a man lost in his own thoughts with all the monsters that he has created keeping a steady pace behind him.

I couldn’t even seem to avoid these battles in sleep.  The moment my head would hit the pillow, dreams of battles and terror and anxiety would invade the calm that I tried to manipulate into being before lying down.  I found myself becoming edgier and angrier because there was no rest to be had.  It was easier when people around me asked how I was to reply with a short, curt “Fine.  Hope everything is ok with you.”

Yesterday morning, I got up really early and retreated to the woods.  Inside the house, I have no escape.  Every room is full with humans or animals at every minute.  I can’t even take a long hot bath anymore without someone knocking on the door, asking me where something is.  There is no silence.  It is broken by the sounds of barking or meowing or a television blaring….so I go to the woods.  I sneaked Friz out of the kennel…away from the eyes of the other pets.  I gathered my cloak and backpack (for some reason, I have come to think if I wear my cloak, I can’t be seen).

We got into what I think of as the middle of the woods…I know that they go on farther, but this is the center of my woods.  I set everything in the place that I feel it needs to go, and I face-plant in the dirt  Friz curls underneath my cloak…and there we stayed for a while.  By a while, I mean that we were there from about 6:30am until around 10:30am.  Just a face-plant…no rituals, no wand-wielding…just a face-plant.

As we walked back to the condo, I snapped a pic here and there of the trees and bushes that caught my eye.  The colors stirred something inside me and for a time, took me away from myself.2013-11-02 17.24.58

Even in the midst of that beauty, I felt lost.  As I went through the rest of the day,  everything that could happen….did.  I even went as far as to doubt where my relationship with my partner stood.  It is funny to me how the universe around us has a way of knocking us out of self-pity.  To side-track my partner and I from an argument….we had a dishwasher that burned a hole in its own bottom….we had a pup that became a living, breathing diarrhea machine.  We had to stop, pull ourselves away from ourselves and concentrate on other things and animals around us.

I went to sleep last night completely exhausted wondering where the magick was in this magickal life.  I hadn’t been asleep hardly anytime before I felt pressure on my side of the bed.  I can’t tell you if it was a dream or reality….those lines were blurred.  I looked up and saw a familiar face.  It was the face of Jim…my partner who had died many years ago.  He looked at me and my partner.  He quietly smiled and began to stroke the side of my head and cheek. Jim looked at me frankly and said to me, “When are you going to stop trying to see in the dark?  Everytime you try, you end up stumbling over yourself.  Why don’t you try walking in the lighted part of life around you?”  He told me about a bush that I had taken a picture of yesterday.  It is called a beauty berry bush.  The leaves are such a vibrant chartreuse that I got caught up in that coloring.  Jim said to me, “That bush isn’t named for the leaves.  You looked right at it and were so overtaken with the color of the leaves that you didn’t look past them and see the berries.  The berries are where the bush got its name.  It is the bright, brilliant purple berry that makes that bush stand out.  You think you have no place to run and hide when you are feeling like this…..STOP  running and hiding.  You will never defeat something while you are running from it.  Face it head on….run directly into it with the intent to make it run.”2013-11-03 09.31.33

I woke up feeling rested, even though it felt like I had been up all night talking.  I know the veil is thin this time of year….I just never knew that it could be like that.  You feel that sense of comfort, but you also feel like you have been whopped up side the head.  I put on my crocs and went to where I had seen the beauty berry bush.  I picked a leaf and a stem of berries to dry for my book of shadows…my book of remembrance.  Sometimes it only takes something small to remind us of the love and energy that surrounds us on a daily basis.  Sometimes it takes that which only magick can supply to show us who we are in the grand scheme of things.

Yes, I am still fighting through….but I am fighting.  The sword is drawn and the shield is up.  I am winning.  I will come forth stronger and more powerful because of it.

“You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you, Peter Pan. That’s where I’ll be waiting.”

Through the Storms

tornado-and-lightning1It seems over the past month or even longer that I have watched folks go through some severely trying times in their lives.  I have seen normally strong people seem to crumple over in exhaustion as they fight….and I mean really fight through life lately.   I have watched as their support systems…their witchy family and friends, rally around them…pushing them, holding them up, holding up their arms when they don’t seem to have the strength to even bear a wand.  Then again, I have also seen those out there who are quick to judge…waiting like a spider who watches as a fly ensnares itself into its web…only to devour the weakening creature hours later.images (1)

I try to be a person who follows after that first example.  I try to send strength and healing to those who need it and I try to avoid those who follow that second example.  Life is hard enough folks.  We don’t need people in our lives who aren’t going to breathe healing and strength back into us.

I am very particular who I allow into my “circle.”  I only need those who see me for who I truly am and are ok with that.  I have never felt a need to have to prove anything to anyone or have to jump through hoops for friendships.  I have also never felt the need to be around drama mongers.  As I have said before, life is hard enough…..why try to create more crap to wade through?

Something I remember from growing up on the farm was that we were not supposed to walk in the cow pies that were splatted in the pasture.  My brother and I, always being model children, made it a point to walk through the pasture as  much as possible.  We loved to play a game we made up called ‘Dodge the Pile.’  We would run around the cow pies laughing and yelling at the top of our lungs.  We would inevitably lose our balance and step in a pile.  We didn’t mind it so much….it was warm and squishy between our toes.  It wasn’t as bad as mama made it out to be…..until one of us pushed the other and we landed face first in one of those big old piles of poop.  Where we had originally seen our little game as fun….we forgot one thing in the midst of it….it was still crap.

CowPie-JeffVanugaI think today, many of us have become adept at dodging the piles.  We go through life dealing with the issues that don’t seem to be so much of a bother.  Then there are those times when we get blind-sided and fall face first into what may have seemed small to begin with….but the more we wrestle through it, we realize that it is just pure unadulterated crap.  By this time, we are typically up to our necks, swimming in the aroma and we become afraid to ask for help.

As I said earlier, I learned very quickly who I can go to in times like these.  There are always those people who are quick to say, “Tell me all about it.  You can trust me.”  Then they run and tell everyone you didn’t need to know.  “Can you believe that poor So-and-So is having to deal with this?  It must be Karma.”  “So-and-So is having such a time of it lately.  He must not be holding his tongue right when he is casting.”  These are the people who need to be cut off like dead branches from a tree.  They suck the life out of those around them with their wagging tongues and false concern.

DSCN0625I want to be the type of person that someone can come to, tell me what they are dealing with (if they choose to), and know beyond knowing that when I say that I am sending healing or strength….that is exactly what I am doing.  I want them to know that I am surrounding them in all  the power and healing and love that I  can conjure.  I want them to know that when I whisper their names to the Goddess….that I am surrounding them in so much love that nothing else dare try to penetrate it.

When I was working in the church, too many times I heard the phrase, ‘Christians shoot their own wounded.’  That phrase is not exclusive to Christians.  I think that the premise behind that comes from the fact that if we can draw attention away from ourselves and to something or someone more vulnerable, then we can create a safe place for ourselves.  Not true.  Eventually, what we were trying to cover up in the beginning is going to shine so brightly in the moonlight and show itself to those who were never really fooled in the first place.  Those around us aren’t really as naive as we think they are.

This morning was a glorious morning for a trip to the pond and the woods.  It seemed as though I had been away from them for far too long.  I roused that little blue chihuahua way too early, it had seemed.  He yawned and stretched as he slowly came out of his kennel.  It wasn’t long before everything was packed up in my backpack and we were ready for our little jaunt.  When we walked out into the courtyard…there was that glorious briskness that only fall can bring.  Friz’  nose was already in the air experiencing the smells of fall all around us.  I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply.  I could feel rejuvenation rushing through every fiber of my being as I took in the crispness that was greeting me.

We stopped by the pond first.  So much healing and strength was needed for so many.  Friz and I lay on our bellies on the bank with our noses pointed toward the water.  He always seems to be so alert when I do things with the water.  He watched me as I whispered the names of those with needs.  As I whispered, I touched my finger to the water and caused ripples.  Each time the water moved, Friz would let out a quiet, “Buf.”  It was almost as if it was his way of adding his voice to mine.  We lay there for a bit…then I rolled over and he crawled on my stomach….he knew there was more to do.

We walked toward the woods.  He danced as we left the sidewalk and started on that familiar path.  As we left the sidewalk, there was a familiar little calico on our heels. Friz licked her across the head and she grimaced…but only for a second.  We settled in the midst of our tree friends and I arranged the skulls of wolf and crow.  I put the candles in the middle, lit them and made our circle.  I called on the Morrigan.  Those who I know are dealing with issues need strength and the power for battle to be sent to them.  None of these people are weak by any means…..but when dealing with things that blindside you…you always need more battle-sense and endurance.

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In the midst of those battles, you need people who are willing to encircle you….form a human shield….and help to eliminate anything extra that would try to weaken you.  You need people who are willing to say, “You aren’t crazy and you aren’t weak….you are tired and fatigued.  That is why I am here.  I am going to help you hold that sword or that wand.”

We finished our time in the woods and as I thanked the elements and the Lord and Lady and the directions…I packed everything away and listened as Friz played with the kitten.  I looked up to see them wrestling and as I shuffled, they stopped mid wrestle and stared at me.  We began the short journey back home….dropping off the little calico squirt with her mom first. (Mom just stands at her gate and waits for us now).  Friz and I walked the rest of the way to our courtyard…we opened the door to the condo and Friz bounded toward the sofa.  We both collapsed into one big snoring heap and rested…..completely rested.

Blessed Be!

 

Wielding the Sword….

Wizard Sword

 

It seems as though some weeks are more challenging than others.  We all have to realize that life in itself is a challenge.  As we move through this plane of existence, we see that day after day, week after week…there are ups and downs.  Over this past week….it seems as though I have fought one uphill battle after another.  Between dealing with clients who seemed to want to fist-fight at work to petty little arguments with my partner to stupid neighbors acting like jackasses….just seemed like one battle after the next.

I had to make sure to take time away from everything this week, but with the rain and chill in the air, it seemed that I was going to have to learn to swim to the pond and float into the woods.  I made myself go, though, and pressed harder into the world of magick than I think I have ever pressed.  I found myself needing to separate from those things that were causing me the most stress.  My blood pressure was going up like a hot air balloon.  Each time it peaked, I could feel the blood vessels dancing in my face;  I could feel the change of pressure in my eyes.

On Tuesday night, I decided to visit the courtyard….while it was pleasant and cool-ish, it just wasn’t far enough away from the issues and pressures at hand.  I needed to go deeper.  I walked out to the edge of the pond….I stared at the water with my eyes glazed over with the memories of issues of the past couple of days…..not big enough to be a crisis, but big enough to distract me.  I breathed slowly in and out….releasing the stresses….receiving in cool, cleansing air.  I walked quietly back to the condo, changed into my pajama pants and had a very restless nights sleep.

I woke up Wednesday morning dragging and grumpy.  When I got to work, it was crisis after crisis after crisis….that nobody would deal with except me.  I finished out the day completely exhausted.  Of course, there was the glorious Atlanta rush hour traffic to contend with on the way home….and to be honest, quite a few folks get a case of the stupids when they drive in the rain.  I walked in the front door and started taking off my scrubs….it is kind of like a snake shedding the old skin.  I love the freedom I feel as I let the dirt of the day fall away from me.  I felt as though I had been battling all day.  I compared it to what a medieval warrior must have felt like after using his sword all day….my arms hurt, my back hurt, my legs hurt….I was one big ache.  Battles are not for wusses.

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Once I put on civilized clothing, including my cloak, I waded down to the woods.  It was just cool enough to stir feelings of Fall’s approach inside of me.  I took a garbage bag and a blanket with me….at least my behind wouldn’t end up completely soggy.  In my backpack were my normal outdoor altar tools…candles, matches, a skull or two, and a wonderful new amulet I just got from Sarah Anne Lawless.

I sat down on the blanket which was covering the trash bag and set everything out….by now it was just barely spitting rain so I was able to light my candles.  I breathed in and out slowly and purposefully.  I called on the directions…I called on the elements (water was there in full representation)…I called on the Lord and Lady.  I addressed the Morrigan….”One must get tired of wielding the sword so much.  No wonder they speak of being battle weary.”  I could feel something almost chuckling around me…..the leaves of the trees moving in the wind.  I felt it deep in my spirit.  “Meditate on what you are leaving behind when you fight.”  I delved deep into my own spirit.  I thought back on all the native american history I knew.  I thought back on medieval times.  A shield……why would you go out into battle without taking something to block what is coming against you?

It crept into my mind.  Sometimes you may not even need to strike with the sword if you block strongly with the shield…of all things to forget.  It should have been second nature for me to think of blocking an attack.  I closed my eyes and visualized a strong blue bubble of healing around me…then I encased that bubble with red for passion…I was determined that nothing was going to get through.  I lay down on the blanket and realized that by now everything was getting a bit soggy….including me.  I packed up and walked back to the house.  I changed into my pajama pants and made myself a cup of hot herbal tea (spiked with just a little bit of honey vodka)….pure heaven.  I slept heavy that night.

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When I got up on Thursday, I put the amulet around my neck.  I figured that not only had it been charged by Sarah, but it also had absorbed the magick from the night before in the woods.  I had no idea about what was waiting for me at work….a yellow-headed dragon…well, close enough.  One of our clients met me at the door regarding an issue that I had no control over whatsoever.  I did everything I could to accommodate her and when she left I thought it had been resolved.  She called back later that afternoon and told my manager that I was combative and degrading….thankfully, I had a shield….a co-worker had been standing there listening to everything.  It started to really dig into me…someone who didn’t even really know me would do something so vengeful and hateful.  I brewed on it for a few hours…..then I remembered, “She really doesn’t know me.  Why am I bothered by someone’s opinion who has no clue who I am.  She doesn’t live with me, she doesn’t spend time with me, she doesn’t talk to me on a daily basis.”  I could feel those shielding bubbles of protection kicking in.  At first, I wanted to take the sword and cut her just as she had done me….but then I realized that this was a battle that had no significance at all.  The sword wasn’t needed…..this time, only the shield.

Since that episode, I have been throwing myself into magickal workings.  It has rained non-stop, so I have been utilizing the water and air elements.  Healing has been strong on my list.  I have friends who have need of healing in body and spirit.  I want to see that healing manifested.  Tonight I will work with fire.  Fire represents passion and comfort to me….I have a few friends who have requested both.  I look forward to seeing what can be accomplished through the combination of energy.  I can already feel it swirling around me.

This morning, I saw something strange on the telephone pole above the parking lot.  I kept hearing Mama Crow cawing frantically and angrily.  I looked around trying to find her.  I then heard the “squee squee” of a hawk nearby.  I looked up to see Mama Crow absolutely tormenting that hawk.  I honestly would have never thought that a crow would take on a bird that much bigger.  She flew at, bit at and flailed at that hawk with something I have never, ever witnessed….and the hawk left.  I was dumbfounded.  I just stood there staring at Mama Crow up on that pole.  I could almost swear her breast was puffed out in pride.  It was then that I realized….in battle, it’s not size, strength, or even weapons….most of the time it is just pure tenacity.

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Blessed Be!