Sunday, December 28, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
So, my daughter Kyla came to me and said "Mom, there's a girl is school that hates me". Naturally, I asked why. She explained that she really had no idea. She didn't know this girl with the exception of the fact that the girl did not like her. Kyla makes friends easily and has tons of them, so she hardly found this heartbreaking. She was however, puzzled by the fact that someone could dislike you without ever having the opportunity to get to know you. Ah, the adolescent mentality! The scary part is that some people become adults without ever growing out of it!
Ok, so I needed to come up with some good Mom advice. What could I say? I told her simply this, "not everyone in this life is going to like you, don't make their problem yours." I further explained that given that she really didn't know this girl, it was impossible to know what her issues were, but I thought that it might just be jealousy, as is often the case. I suggested that Kyla might try engaging the girl in conversation. Her response was quite simple. "You know Mom, I don't give her enough thought to even bother." She was actually somewhat amused that this girl would expend so much energy disliking her! She really is so much like me!
N'uff said. I didn't feel it required further discussion. I did tell her that throughout her life she may encounter people who spin themselves into a web of their own delusions. They convince themselves that you are putting as much energy into them as they are in you, when in fact, they never enter your mind. I did make it perfectly clear however that if the situation was to progress to anything more serious, I wanted to know about it.
In any case, I decided it would be prudent to teach Kyla how to shield herself magickally against this girl's negativity. When I did however, she said, "Mom, that's not how you do it". Then she brushed her hand across her shoulder as if shooing away a pesky bug!
Oh.My.God! I had to laugh! She had just portrayed some people's personalities perfectly!
In Darkness, Light!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Merry Meet Friends, Followers and Lurkers!
So, last night we decorated our Yule/Christmas tree. It was a beautiful evening for it too. The snow was falling and it was just...enchanting!
I poured myself a glass of wine. Ok, that's another big whopping lie! It was actually two glasses, but hey, it's really good wine. Then, I put on Mariah Carey's Christmas CD. Yeah, yeah, I know...some of you guys HATE Mariah and probably don't consider her CD actual Christmas or Yule music. I might tend to agree, but I have a warm place in my heart for "All I Want For Christmas is You." No, it's not the wine! Wise asses! Besides, I like to dance while I decorate the tree!
Justin came downstairs as I was tweaking the decorations and with his usual cheerful sarcasm asked, "Mom, you're Pagan, why are you listening Christmas music?" Kyla came in a short while later and asked the very same question. I realized that this was going to require a little more explanation than, "because I like it."
There are people who believe that being Pagan immediately makes us either "anti-Christian" or incapable of embracing or celebrating anyone else's traditions. This is simply untrue and definitely not a misconception I wanted my children to foster! Many of us were not raised Pagan and still celebrate the traditions we grew up with.
In all my years of practice, I have met very few Pagans who actually have a problem with Christianity. Of those, their issues have nothing to do with Christianity per se, but with a few followers who can't resist repeatedly assuring us that we will be spending all eternity in some warm and toasty place and no, I don't mean the Caribbean. I will admit however, that there are those who have denounced their Christian upbringing and hold Jesus Christ personally accountable for all those things that have gone horribly wrong in their lives. While I'll not judge any one's reason for choosing a path, if one is harboring revenge in their heart, chances are that eventually, they will find dissatisfaction with Paganism as well.
"Nothing takes everything in your life and makes it all better again." Yeah, I'm paraphrasing "The Craft", but this refers to Paganism as well and most appropriately makes my point.
Kyla then asked, "well, do you believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God?" I explained that it didn't matter whether I believed it or not, but that he believed it and convinced millions of people of it and that now, some 2000 years later, those people still have faith that he was. I told her what I believed was that there were many sons and daughters of one Universal Divine, but that Jesus Christ was one of the greatest teachers and spiritual leaders of our time. I further explained that because now is the time when many are celebrating his birth, anyone who recognizes him as such can celebrate it along with them. Anyone, of any faith, who truly understands the message that he attempted to bring to the World also knows that this is not my philosophy, but his.
"Peace on Earth"
Blessed Yule and Merry Christmas,
Saturday, December 13, 2008
I always have Ray critique my entries. He read my most recent and said that while he enjoyed it, he felt I could have expressed why I love animals so much in fewer words. After rereading it myself, I had to agree. I think this probably sums it up perfectly!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Did you notice I used the term, "companion animals" rather than "pets". Apparently, referring to them in the latter sense is considered derogatory. You can't make this stuff up. A professor at the University of California, at the insistence of the animal rights activists, decided that "companion animals" is the more respectful term when referring to one's pet. This is the kind of verbal engineering that is now required in order to live in our society. We are always dancing on egg shells for fear that we will offend some one's race, sex, religious affiliation or anything else that one could possibly find to be offended by. Why shouldn't the same apply to the family pet?
Let's get real here for a moment, shall we? How many names do you currently have for the same pet? Go ahead, you can say it, I already know. We often have nicknames for our pets that sound absolutely nothing like the names they've been given. Those of you who have met our dog..um, my apologies, our Canine American, Ginger, probably have heard us refer to her as, "Patootie", "Tootie", "Toots", or "The Baby". This is, of course, with the exception of Ray, who likes to refer to her as "Baby Wheezer". Guess friggin' what? Animals will react to the inflection in one's voice. That's why you can call them "asshole" and as long as you say it nicely, it's all good with them! Still, I usually make every effort to be respectful and maintain an air of political correctness, lest one of my "companion animals" decides to pee on my bed in protest!
In addition to our various "companion animals", we also have a large Koi pond that is the home to 22 of our "aquatic acquaintances". We feed the "fine feathered friends" that frequent the "feathered friend feeder" in our backyard, not to mention the chipmunks and squirrels as well. I'm not sure of the politically correct term for "rodent", but I like to refer to Chipmunks as "Professional Landscape and Excavating Engineers"and Squirrels as, "Suburban Tree Experts with Suicidal Tendencies.
If you've been reading me for a while, you've met the newest member of our clan, Autumn and Jazzy (she's the cute one in the surgical cap) but most have never heard me mention, Dominick. Dominick was my Mom's cat. We raised him from about the time he was 6 weeks old. He lived with her until she moved from our family home and was no longer able to care for him. On a recent trip to our veterinarian of 30 years, the technician asked, "Tracy, we're updating our computer system. I'm assuming we can remove Dominick?" "Why?", I wondered. Did I miss something? I immediately swung around and glared accusingly at Ray, who was fortunate not to have appeared guilty of any sinister act. No, in fact, the vet tech's assumption was a perfectly reasonable one. Dominick is an enigma unto himself!
I've lived with cats my entire life and I have NEVER ever had a cat live this long. I guess one might say that it's a testament to how well we've cared for him or excellent cat genes on the part of his parents, but whatever it is, it's really beginning to freak me out! Dominick is now approximately 26 years old, in human years, to our closest guesstimate. That would make him 120 years old in cat years!
I have to be honest, caring for a cat of this advanced age is not all sunshine and roses. Literally. Dominick behaves the way you would expect anyone who has lived to be 120 years old might. He sleeps more often than he's awake. He walks with a slow shuffling gait and he has lost many of his teeth which, without dentures, requires that his food be as close to pureed as possible. None of these things stop him from being the first one to ask to be fed in the morning! Unfortunately, his eyesight is not as great as it used to be, so occasionally, he will presume he's in his litter box, when in actuality, he's not.
Dominick isn't exempt from the "various names for the same pet" phenomenon either. We call him "Dom", "Nickie" "Domi" or "Keith", because well...we think he's begun to look like Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones in his old age. Despite how derogatory it may be, my kids refer to him as "Smelly Cat", and with good reason. The loss of teeth has left him with a remarkably pungent aroma that often enters a room before he does! Sorry, Keith!
As you can imagine, living with so many critters requires teamwork on the part of the entire family. Most mornings, Ray is on "cat detail". Before work, he goes down to the basement, cleans the litter box and checks to see that they have fresh food and water. On a recent morning, he came storming up from the steps, pissed off to beat the band! I couldn't imagine what had happened, then he shouted, "Trace, we have to do something about this fucking cat! (That would be Dominick) "It's getting to be "that time!." Oh, no he didn't! I couldn't imagine what poor, crotchety old Dominick could have possibly done to deserve such disrespect, until I saw Ray, with a look of utter disgust on his face, grab a Lysol wipe and start cleaning off the bottom of his bare foot. I took a wild guess and innocently asked, "Domi missed the litter box?" He was not amused!
We have discussed that, in all likelihood, unless nature makes the decision for us, we may eventually have to help Dominick off to the next phase of his soul's journey. This has got to be the absolute worst part sharing your lives with pets. You just know going in that it's a broken heart waiting to happen. At some point, you may have to make the difficult decision to end a pet's suffering and yet, you somehow find that strength because you love them too much not to. We all concluded that, for Domi, now is not that time. He still appears healthy and has just as sunny a disposition as he had when he was was a kitten. For now, Dominick a.k.a. Keith will remain "aromatically challenged" and Ray has learned to wear shoes when he's on "cat detail."
In Darkness, Light!
Monday, December 8, 2008
So it was 2, count em', 2 degrees when I woke up this morning! It's about 12 degrees at this writing. I finally had to accept the realization that Winter has, indeed, arrived.
Last night, as I watched the street lights shimmering through the frost on the windows and listened to the howling wind whipping around the house at 45 miles an hour, I decided to break out my most beautiful, toastiest flannel sheets. Ahhhhh, there's nothing quite like the feeling of soft, cozy flannel against your skin...well, that and a warm husband and a dog or two.
Just as I nestled beneath the warmth of my blankets, feeling safe, content and thankful, a thought intruded on my peaceful state of mind. There were people out there in this frigid cold without flannel sheets, or comfy blankets. Or coats. Or homes. I felt dreadful. Many of us have begun doing prosperity work for ourselves, our friends and others who are struggling during this economic crisis and I am no exception. I made a conscious decision that I needed to focus more work, both literally and magickally on those who were most in need. I began thinking about what magickal work might be appropriate and I said a little prayer, asking Hecate for guidance. Working with Hecate requires dedication, devotion, humility, courage and the ability to always expect the unexpected. Tonight would be no different.
As I lay there, just beginning to fall asleep, I experienced what can only be described as a psychic "nudge". I suddenly felt that I needed to light the black devotional candles on my altar. Oh c'mon! I was not hauling ass out of the sinful decadence of my cozy, flannel sheets for nobody, no how! I began going over all the excuses in my head why I shouldn't get up at that very moment. It was midnight! I had to get up early and...and I might wake Ray! Let it suffice to say if there was an excuse to be found, I was going to find it! Dammit. Just then, a thought...no, more like a message popped into my head, "You ask for my help, yet you can't get your ass out of bed to light a couple of candles." I threw off the sheets, reached into the draw and pulled out my match sticks.
I tried to be as quiet as I could, fumbling in the dark, chilly, flannel free room, for the matches while blindly trying to light the wicks in the black glass pillars. The first went off without a hitch, but as I attempted to light the second, the flame quickly consumed the wooden match stick, scorching my fingers! I silently screamed a couple of colorful words that began with "Mother" and blew out the match, dropping it to the floor. Probably not my best choice of words given whom I was invoking! I glanced over to see if Ray had heard me. Nope, there he was, completely oblivious to to my attempts to burn down the house. After making sure that the dropped match stick was indeed out and that the fire elementals were not going to party in my bedroom after I fell asleep, I reached again for my match sticks and a shot at the second pillar. I lit the second match, thinking that I really wanted to make this fast so I wouldn't burn myself again and so I could get back to bed. As I turned back toward my altar, leaning over to light the candle, there to my sheer and utter amazement, was the second black pillar, flickering in the darkness.
In Darkness, Light! Seriously!
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Rant Warning: This post may contain adult language and depictions of graphic violence that may objectionable to some of my readers!
Still reading? You were warned!
Ok so, on June 12, 1994, news reports began filtering in that OJ Simpson's ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her lover, Ron Goldman, had been murdered. It was a brutal, vicious, horrible crime. Both were repeatedly stabbed a total of 30 times. Ron Goldman's throat had been slashed twice, severing his jugular vein. Nicole Brown Simpson was nearly decapitated during the attack. OJ Simpson was eventually accused of committing the murders and those who were following the case had already begun taking sides for what would be dubbed "The Trial of the Century.
I'll be honest, I am not now, nor have I ever been, a sports fan. The most I actually knew of OJ Simpson was that he was a famous football player, who went on to become an actor. Period end of story. Other than this, I couldn't tell you whether he was married and if so, to whom. What I eventually learned however, was that OJ had married Nicole Brown when she was 18 years old. He was 30. They had two children, Sydney, who was 9 years old and Justin, who was 6 at the time of their mother's death. Nicole divorced OJ in 1992 citing, "an abusive relationship".
Now, while I may not be a fan of football, I confess, I am a fan of murder. Ok, allow me to rephrase. Murder trials have always fascinated me. I get completely caught up in the sensationalism of the trial, the testimony, the forensics, the collection and presentation of evidence. This case was no different and I followed it for the 37 weeks to it's conclusion. Not only were there accusations of murder, but of evidence mishandling, racism and conspiracy. I gotta tell ya, this was a murder fan's wet dream!
I remembered being at a Christmas Party in which the festivities came to an abrupt halt as everyone watched O.J.'s infamous "Bronco Run". As we stood there glued to the TV, everyone offering their own opinions, I remembered thinking to myself, "Brother, you're fucked!" That moment did it for me. It seemed completely pointless to waste the time and money on a lengthy trial. No matter how much I would enjoy the drama, there was just no way any jury was going to acquit this guy! He was evading the police and...he was carrying a loaded gun. This wasn't rocket science...it was murder.
Nine months later, I was in my office when one of my co-workers announced that the jury had finally reached a verdict. Everyone dropped what they were doing and made a mad dash to get their places in front of the TV. I didn't feel any sense of urgency, however. The guy was guilty. G-U-I-L-T-Y, he ain't got no alibi! He's guilty! Guilt, guilt, guilty! I wasn't going to stop what I was doing to hear something I already knew. I nonchalantly strolled into the waiting area where the TV was tuned to the trial coverage just in time to hear the reporter announce, "OJ Simpson acquitted of the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman". There sat an obviously relieved OJ Simpson, grinning like the fucking Cheshire Cat! There I stood, completely fucking floored!!!
I thought my head would explode! What about all the evidence?!! Where was the fucking justice! When I saw Ron Goldman's parents weeping, and the look of stunned disbelief on the faces of Nicole's sisters, I realized I had just witnessed the most monumental travesty of justice one could ever fucking imagine! I would just never understand how the jury could have arrived at such a verdict. I still can't!
Later in a Civil Suit however, OJ was found liable, by unanimous decision, for the death of Ron Goldman and for battery against his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson. The Superior Court awarded 8.5 million dollars in "compensatory damages" to the Goldman family. Compensatory damages? You mean compensation for sitting through 9 months of grueling, heart wrenching testimony complete with graphic autopsy photos describing, in vivid detail, the last moments of your child's life? I know that, at times life is unfair, but this was fucking ridiculous!
Ten years later, OJ Simpson still professed his innocence. He managed to keep a fairly low profile until a couple of years ago when he attempted to publish a book entitled, "If I Did It". This was to be a "hypothetical" account of how he "might" have committed the murders, if in fact he did just "happen" to do it. He also planned a television special by the same name, with one minor adjustment, entitled "If I Did It, Here's how it Happened". What struck me even more than his utter fucking audacity, was the mind-boggling lack of respect it demonstrated towards not only the victim's and their families, but for his own children! Thankfully, the book release and television special were cancelled shortly after they were announced.
Then, in September of 2007, "The Juice" was arrested yet again, because ya know, he was just so fucking innocent the first time! Two counts of robbery with a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit robbery, burglary with a deadly weapon, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and coercion. He claimed he was just trying to get back his own "sports memorabilia" that had been stolen from him, but he intended no harm. Yeah, I guess that was what the gun was for, you fucking idiot!
I hadn't heard anything recently and I had begun to wonder what was going on with the trial. Then yesterday afternoon, in one of the most awesome examples of Karmic retribution I have yet to witness, the verdict was handed down. Guilty! G-U-I-L-T-Y, you ain't got no alibi! You're Guilty! Guilt, guilt, guilty!
I've always said that if OJ Simpson were to be thankful for just one thing, it wasn't that he got away with murder, but that I was not the one on the bench at the time of his trial. I couldn't have been more happy if I handed down that fucking verdict myself!!! Ok, I'm lying. I would have been much happier with the death penalty and that's as much leniency as he fucking deserves.
Then this morning, I caught the end of an interview on NPR in which the verdict was being discussed. I tuned in just in time to hear one of the hosts saying, "This is a really tough break for Mr. Simpson. He's 61 years old". A tough break? A tough fucking break! They did not just say a tough break! That's when I began screaming at the radio! Ron Goldman will never have the opportunity to see 61 years old. Nicole's children grew up without their mother and have lived in the shadow of her gruesome murder for as long as they can probably remember. How dare they offer this murderous rat bastard any sympathy at all. Tough break my ass!!!
Shortly thereafter, they aired a sniveling, groveling OJ Simpson explaining to the Judge that he never meant to hurt anyone.
And, if you listened very closely, you'd have heard my little violin playing, "My Heart Bleeds".
Thirty three, count em', thirty three years with no possibility of parole for first 9 years!
"Mr. Simpson, have a Merry Fucking Christmas. Please extend my warmest regards to your cellmate, Bubba!"
In Darkness, Light!!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Merry Meet Friends and Lurkers:
So, as most of you know, we've lived here in Ridgewood for about 14 years. It seems strange to hear myself say that. Has it really been that long? It's so much different than the place I grew up. It really is a lovely place to live, with a strong sense of community and family values. It's just so...blissfully friggin' normal!
While my husband and I have managed to find our niche here, after having recently "outted" myself to the entire community, I think it's safe to assume that we will NEVER fit in amongst the "Ridgewood Elite." Chances are I will not be invited to join the Ridgewood Women's Club. As heartbreaking as that may be for some, since it's not something I've ever aspired to, I think I'll survive somehow. We feel that it's a really sad state of affairs when you have to deny who you are in order to fit in. This is something we continue to impress upon our kids as well. Quite frankly, "fitting in" is highly overated and rather denotes a lack of courage, in my humble opinion.
I am well aware that there are those who undoubtedly shake their heads condescendingly, imagining how sad it must be that I've deluded myself and my family into believing in the power of Witchcraft or that I put my faith in a religion that reveres the Earth, aligns itself with the phases of the sun and moon and celebrates the seasons. Yet, I can absolutely appreciate why that might be so difficult for some to grasp. Given the stereotypical bullshit and negativity fostered by the media, I might have a difficult time wrapping my mind around it as well, if...I didn't know what I know now. Still, you'll not hear me ask for understanding or even acceptance, but merely a mind that is willing to consider the possibilities.
As children, we are blessed with an undeniable, wide-eyed innocence that finds the magic in everything. We believe, without question, in the existence of Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. As parents, we try to prolong those beliefs for as long as possible in order to preserve that childhood innocence. Think about that. Why do we find that so important? Is it merely the loss of innocence that concerns us so or perhaps, the loss of something deeper? If you can think back to a time when that sense of enchantment was still a part of your life, you will glimpse the essence of what brought me to a path of spirituality, kinship, sensuality, empowerment, beauty and yes, magick.
As we grow into adults the realities of life tend to color our perceptions. We are taught to conclude that there must be a "logical" explanation for even those things that often defy logic. We lose our magick. I have since learned that "logical" explanations should not always be my first consideration. I've experienced too many things in this lifetime that can't ever be defined logically. That's not to suggest that they don't exist, but that they only occupy one corner of the many realms of possibility.
When I think back to my own childhood, my family had their own "quirky" beliefs. I presumed these were things shared by everyone, so I never questioned where they came from. What do I mean by "quirky?" Ok, well, say someone happened to drop their fork from the dinner table, my Mom would announce, "company's coming". I found the fact that she could predict one's arrival based simply upon the slip of a utensil utterly....fascinating! Can you imagine the impact on a child's impressionable mind when later company did, in fact, arrive?! My Aunt Mary would warn us not to piss off anyone, lest they put the "malocchio" or evil eye on us. I also remember being told that a bird accidently flying into the house was portentious of a death. What is perfectly obvious to me now is that my family was practicing a diluted form of Italian folk magick!
As a result of growing up with these little "quirky" family traits, I often found myself looking for signs or omens in things like the weather, the turning leaves, rocks, the behavior of animals, as well other more mundane occurrences. Admittedly, all this holds much more significance for me now that there's an entire magickal system behind it.
Speaking of signs, have you heard that The Farmer's Almanac is predicting one of the coldest Winters we've had in centuries! It has indeed been much cooler at this time of the season than it has in recent years. The pansies I planted at Samhain have confirmed this prediction. While they usually thrive beautifully until February, I now find their little heads droop mournfully and they seemed huddled together against the soil as if to keep warm.
On a recent particularly cold, windy morning, I stepped outside to find a plant that my friend, Niki, had given me at the Spring Equinox, blown face down on our deck. Where it had once been filled with beautiful multi-colored daisies that heralded the arrival of Spring, it now lay completely lifeless, withered and bare. I didn't have the heart to throw it away but....how friggin' depressing! I shivered against the wind, pulling my bathrobe tightly around me and wondered what the Winter might bring. Damn Farmers! What are they doing predicting the weather anyway?! Don't they have something more interesting to do...like, oh I don't know, farm!
Despite the gloomy forecast however, this November has also marked a significant turning point for me on my path. While I'll not say more, let it suffice that neither sign, nor omen was necessary to recognize that everything in my life thus far had led me to that moment.
Perhaps a day or so after I'd reached this milestone, I happened to be passing by the window and out of the corner of my eye I glimpsed :::cringe:: the first flakes of the season and no, I'm not referring to my neighbors. Yes, this was clearly an unmistakable sign!! It was an omen that I could expect to spend the next six months freezing my ass off!! I watched the little happily dancing snowflakes swirling around my deck....content in the knowledge that they were pissing me off, but then, I noticed something else. At first I thought it must be my imagination, because it just didn't seem, well, "logical". I stepped out into the falling snow, only to find my poor, pitiful, potted daisies, blooming vibrantly! "But, that's just not possible", I concluded. Just a day or two before, they weren't only merely dead, but really most sincerely dead! As I left the house that morning....I noticed that a few of our roses had bloomed as well.
There are signs along all of our paths in life that seem meaningless, yet hold hidden truths that reveal themselves in time. Then there are those whose message is crystal clear, unquestionable, and profound. Yet, one doesn't need to practice Witchcraft to recognize these signs, but merely require the trust of a child, a mind unbound by fear, a willingness of heart and the ability to embrace one's magick!
In darkness, light!