With the Heart of the Ancients

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I have been daydreaming a lot this week…more than normal. I find myself swept off to faraway lands full of forests and animals. It also seems that everyone I have been around this week has eaten a double portion of Bitchy Puddin’. In the midst of all the turmoil brewing around me, I have tried to drift away as often as possible. I have also been reading much about recognizing whether one has an old soul or not.  Apparently the Characteristics, according to one article written by Richard Crown, are as follows:

1.  You’re curious about whether or not you’re an old soul. Just the thought that you may be one strikes a chord somewhere deep inside of you.

2.  You enjoy spending time alone… a lot of it. For you, being alone is not lonely. You feel much more comfortable with your own company than by being surrounded by other, less mature souls engaged in frivolous pursuits.

3.  You tend to see the deeper meaning in every situation you encounter. You understand clearly that every event happens for a reason, that there are powerful forces at work in our lives that are not readily apparent.

4.  You make a living in an old-fashioned or artistic way. Maybe you deal in antiques or handmade artifacts or you’re an artist. Perhaps a traditional occupation like being a carpenter, farmer or a weaver appeals to you.

5.  Some of your friends are older or much younger than you, and you’re very comfortable with them. Age is not important in choosing your friends. Their level of maturity is.

6.  You enjoy being outdoors in natural surroundings. Time spent in the great outdoors in nature resets and recharges is you better than anything else.

7.  Your idea of a good read is something that stimulates your mind, provoking thought and self-examination. Spiritual books, history and philosophy are far from boring to you.

8.  You’re not interested in the National Enquirer, gossip and idle chat or football scores. You’re easily bored with popular TV and idle time wasters.

9.  You spend money on spiritual pursuits or helping others. You get more pleasure and satisfaction from spending money for a spiritual journey or meditation retreat, or on helping another person, than from buying the latest gadgets or indulging in expensive restaurants.

10.  People trust you and come to you for advice. Other people are not afraid to open their hearts to you and share their most intimate problems. They know they can trust you, confide in you and rely on your advice to help them make the best decisions.

I will admit that many of those things do describe how I am or how I feel, but I believe that there is something missing from those characteristics. I believe in the midst of all those things, there is longing…a yearning…a homesickness for certain places and certain time periods.

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I have found myself in that boat many times over the past week. I have found that when I close my eyes to rest or sleep, that visions and dreams come to me of a place long buried in my memories. I dream of an Irish countryside…of a modest hovel buried deep in the forest. There are people there that I recognize…people that I have heard stories of from my mother’s mother. A cousin, who has long since faded into family history sits at a primitive table…if I had to guess, I had made it with my own two hands. I am standing close to the fire preparing herbs and other ingredients gathered for the potion at hand. My face is furrowed with the etchings of a challenging life and my beard is scraggly, long and white. We laugh together as I speak over the pot in a language far from the butchered southern English I speak today. The brew is for one of his animals…staving off sickness. I have had this dream…this vision over and over this week.

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I have also dreamed of a woodland village deep inside the hills of North Carolina. In this vision, I am sitting in the center of a shelter made of grasses and animal skins. I listen intently as one of the young men of the village asks me for guidance as he prepares for a hunt for food. I close my eyes and I can smell the smoke of fire close by. I can feel the earth beneath me as I listen to what the spirits might tell me that could be useful for this young man.

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The dreams I have had have seemed more real to me than the reality that has manifested itself around me. With each dream…each vision…I awake with a deep yearning, a hunger to be back there. I have walked through each day with a dull ache in my chest….feeling as if had left something behind. In each dream, there is one spirit that I recognize no matter what form he may be. It is the spirit that resides inside my little blue chihuahua. In the vision of the forest cunning man, his spirit shows itself to me in the form of a fox that has taken up residence with me. In the vision of the old shaman…the Didanawisgi, I recognized his spirit in the body of the young man seeking guidance. He has been a part of many lives for me…either as familiar, charge, or teacher.

As my mind has circled this week around these visions, I am reminded of the movie “Somewhere In Time” starring Christoper Reeve and Jane Seymour…lovers, friends whose relationship transcended the boundaries of time. I can easily relate to the feeling that Reeve felt at the end as leaving the past became harder and harder. I found myself dwelling on these places…on these times. I found myself yearning for the person that peered back at me through that portal. I found myself yearning for the land around me…the coolness of the woods around me.

It is funny…as I grow older, these dreams/visions become more frequent….stronger. In these dreams, there is always a life lesson for me. Deep in that Irish forest, there is the lesson that we must always take care…protect those things we were given to keep watch over…whether it be our animals, children, family. Inside that shelter in the midst of the Cherokee village, I am taught that bravery is not something that comes to one automatically. It must be learned…it must be nurtured. I have awakened with my joints and muscles sore…as though I am older than I am, but their recovery is fast. I have also found myself looking deeper into the soul of that little blue chihuahua.

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We are told that we should train our pets…teach them to obey. But it is the soul of that little dog that teaches me patience, endurance, strength. I have watched him move in pain this week without once wincing. I have seen him show joy no matter how badly he hurt. He has listened and quietly sat with me this week with no judgment. I dare say that I have so much more to learn from him.

I lost a dear friend last weekend. His wife died almost a year ago to the day. She was the first person I came out to…the first person that I made my heart the most vulnerable toward. I spoke to him two days before he passed. Many were praying for healing…many were cursing their gods for taking him too soon. Sometimes the greatest healing takes place in the transition from one plane to another…and now he is able to walk side by side with the love of his life. I did learn something invaluable from him…find the joy in everything. Even as he spoke to me that one last time, he said to me, “I am so happy.” “Why?” I asked. “I get to be with Donna again. I have missed her so much!”

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Yes, I am an old soul. Yes, I long for the times that are embedded in my mind, heart, and subconscious. …but I have so much to do here. There are so many people depending on me that I haven’t even met yet. This life prepares me for the next. I take the lessons I have learned and the ones I have taught into the lives that follow this one. I am sure I will encounter some of you in that journey. There is one thing for sure, though, there is a little blue chihuahua that is walking beside me in each life I transition from and to.

I only hope I prove myself as faithful to him as he has shown himself to me.

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Blessed Be!

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Moving On…

Seems that as the full moon approaches every month…the closer we get to the solstices, my mind and heart are flooded with nostalgia.  This morning was no different.  After some much needed time in the woods, I settled down onto the outdoor sofa in the courtyard with my cup of coffee.  The sun was smiling down on me and the breeze was softly kissing my ear.  I was in a half daydream, half napping state.  I found my mind drifting lazily back to Charlotte, NC in the late eighties.  I could feel my soul being pulled back to a three storied home in one of the up and coming South Charlotte neighborhoods.

I can remember the sounds of Bette Midler wafting through the air as we all sat around the lawn drinking gin and tonic, bloody mary’s, sweet tea.  A group would be conversing in one corner, another group playing badminton in the area furthest back.  There were gays, straights, transgendered, bisexual…every type of human relaxing and enjoying the long southern days offered to us.  As the day danced into evening, the music became softer and the small Christmas lights strung in trees and overhead would begin to glow a soft white.  Our hosts had kept the grill going for most of the afternoon, so no one had the occasion to be allowed to feel the grip of hunger.

I always seemed to end up in one of the hammocks hanging between two large trees as others scattered lawn chairs around me.  Conversation always seemed to turn to what adventures life could bring or what magick really entailed.  No.  This was not a coven of witches, but just a group of friends making the most of their youth.  As I lay there waxing philosophical, Jim would come in behind me and hand me an ice cold drink and then stabilize the hammock as he lay down beside me.

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We would lay there for most of the evening, making plans…laughing at the mistakes we had made.  All of our older friends would tell us that they were living vicariously through us…that it was nice to see two people so in love.

My mind also drifts back to daily life with Jim.  Was he the love of my life?  Yes.  Are we allowed many loves of our lives?  Perhaps.  In those days, I was working corporate. We would get up in the morning and make breakfast together…he always made sure I was greeted with a kiss and a hot cup of coffee.  After breakfast, we would maneuver around each other as we got showered and dressed.  He always said that I looked so handsome in my shirt and tie….he said I looked like a corporate version of Freddy Mercury.  He was a nurse.  I do so remember how he filled out those seal blue scrubs.  Mercy!!  He was an ex-marine and his frame was 6’4″, brownish-blonde hair, piercing blue eyes, muscles in just the right places.  We would kiss good-bye…always careful to say ‘I love you’ before rushing to start the day.

I normally made it home first in the evenings, so I would start dinner.  I can close my eyes and feel the warmth of his body pressing against mine just after he walked in the door.  He always stood against me, his arms wrapped around mine, nuzzling the back of my neck.  On days that I would get home late, I would always find a bouquet of sunflowers on the table and a card that read, “Simply put, you make me feel wonderful.  Jim.”

You see, Jim had been diagnosed with HIV before we met.  I can still see the wonder in his eyes when I asked him out and he told me that he was positive.  I had been working with a local AIDS task force whose work included helping, working with, and doing whatever was needed for those in our community with AIDS.  I sang at far too many funerals in the eighties and stood in as surrogate family for too many who had been turned away by their own…but then again, this was what was needed.  Yes, this was in the beginning and yes, I was scared, but the possibility of missing out on someone like Jim scared me even more.

I was there through the drug cocktails.  I was there as the T-cells climbed and dropped, climbed and dropped.  I was there when the lesions began.  I was there when his eyesight began to fail.  We laughed and talked through it all….but always careful not to go too far into the future with our plans.  I remember one of the biggest belly laughs he ever had.  One of his guinea pigs had gotten loose and proceeded to chase me around the living room ( I have always been horrified by rodents.  Any rodent.)  As I run around the room like this tiny wad of fur is going to eat me, Jim is rolling on the sofa.  Sometimes, I would love to hear that laugh again.

Our last week together, I found out that Jim had done some dreadful things…things that would still end up effecting me to this day.  I remember the night that I confronted him.  We are at a bridge in Charlotte on the 4th of July.  We had met earlier at our friend’s home.  He greeted me with a bouquet of red, white, and blue flowers.  I had so much anger in me, I couldn’t even look at him.  We walked in silence to the bridge.  As the fireworks started, so did ours.  I let the anger that had been lurking just beneath the surface lurch forward.  We cried….I screeched.  He begged forgiveness.  He pulled me to him and kissed me and I jerked away.  I walked home that night.  It took me two and a half hours.

I got home and Jim was in bed.  His breathing was funny.  He had been coughing more that week, but I was wrapped up in anger.  As we slept, his breathing became more labored.  I called an ambulance.  They came and got him.  I watched through the coming weeks as machines breathed for him.  When his family came in….I was pushed out of the way.  I was relocated to the place of ‘roommate.’  Then there was the pain and anguish that he actually was not there anymore.  In one instant…gone.

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Jim knew I was studying witchcraft.  He often joked about him being Darrin and me being Sam from Bewitched.  My Darrin had been taken.  I retreated to my woods on the old farm back home.  Over the years, I have dreamed about him constantly.  He has come to me in times of trouble, fear, even stress.  He offers comfort.  I even believe he orchestrated many things between my partner, Jay and I.  Jay and I began our relationship on July 4th…exactly ten years after that night on the bridge.  I am the one who does the protecting and comforting now…Jim did it the whole time we were together.

I wonder how many witches can say that their spirit guide is their last lover?  I was sitting in the living room with my roommate the other night watching a tv show.  As we are watching, I am sitting there wiping my eyes.  My roommate says, “You are dreaming about him again, aren’t you?”  I told him I was.  He looked at me and point blank asked what I was holding onto.  He wanted to know what I haven’t forgiven myself for.  As I wrote this blog, I realized that I have not forgiven myself for not telling him I loved him on that horrible, horrible night.  I haven’t forgiven myself for not listening…only yelling.  I haven’t forgiven myself for walking away from him that night and not holding him tighter.

As I write this…I feel the tears streaming down my face.  I feel his presence behind me…trying to tell me that he never believed for a moment I stopped loving him.  I have a lump the size of a tennis ball in my throat and my heart hurts as badly as the night he slipped into the summerlands.  Tonight is the night that I have to forgive myself….to release the chains that have held me prisoner for too long.  Tonight isn’t about Jim.  It is about me and repairing what was broken years ago.

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I don’t write this blog to wallow in the past, but so the future may be more magickal…that my life may now be fuller…that there may now be rest.

Sleep well, my prince.  Sleep.

Blessed Be!