Monday, November 23, 2009

One Soul's Journey....

Merry Meet Family and Friends!

So, this Saturday past, I went into New York City for all day intensive workshop called, The Shaman's Way: Healing the Light Body.  As many of you know, I practice Jikiden Reiki and I'm always looking for new and interesting modalities to add to my "medicine bag". 

I recently rediscovered a wonderful venue in New York's "Open Center".  They have a plethora of amazing workshops and speakers on the most interesting topics! The workshop I attended was given by Dr. Albert Villoldo.  I had read Dr. Villoldo's books, "Shaman, Healer, Sage" and "The Four Winds", so when I learned that he was teaching there, I just knew I couldn't miss it.

Just before we were about to leave, I heard Ray yelling something from the top of the staircase.  The only thing I could make out was, "look out the window".  "Which window?", I wondered!  I took a wild guess and glanced out through the sliding glass doors to our deck and there, staring back at me, was the most breathtakingly majestic Red Tailed Hawk!  She was sitting on the railing in the exact place that I leave my offerings to the Elemental spirits!   As I stood there transfixed, it dawned on me, "Holy crap, where's my camera?!".  When I moved, she flew away.

I found it amazing that with four dogs just inside the door, she would have chosen to land where she had!  She was beautiful and it was such a splendid way to begin the day.

My husband was driving me to the lecture.  I don't like to drive, but more accurately, I hate driving in NYC.  I find being a passenger in the car only slightly more tolerable, but no less stressful.  It's like being in a video game where your goal is to navigate through a maze of streets, while trying to escape the demonic cab drivers that are trying to kill you!

The parking is a nightmare in itself, so when we arrived in the area of the Open Center, Ray suggested I get out and walk the block or so, so I wouldn't be late for the workshop.   I wasn't thrilled, but I knew he was right.  I hopped out of the car on East 30th Street and began looking for the building. 

I got to the first intersection, wondering if I would maneuver the crosswalk without getting killed, when I noticed a man standing next to me on the corner.  He repeatedly glanced at me as we stood there waiting for the light to change.  This made me a tad uncomfortable.  It is a known trait of the New Yorker never to make eye contact. The light changed and I quickly ran across the street, pretending that I was in a rush. 

As I walked along, trying to catch a number on one of the buildings, I realized that the signs were reading West and I needed to be going East.  Ok, now I'm lost in Manhattan. I began making mental notes to myself to be really pissed at Ray if I ever saw him again! 

I stopped walking long enough to get my bearings, when the same man that was on the corner came walking in my direction.  He seemed to be looking for something as well, so I said, "excuse me, I've not sure if I'm going the right way.  Can you tell me which way is East 30th street.  He told me he thought it was in the other direction and asked me where I was trying to go.  "Uh oh", I thought, do I really want to tell him?  "The Open Center", I replied.  To which he responded, "I'm going there too".   Is he really going there or is he just telling me he is to get me to follow him?", I wondered.  "Ok, now you're just being friggin" paranoid", I thought to myself.  He really didn't give me any reason to be mistrustful and I was in no position to refuse his help.  We began, two strangers, walking together in the opposite direction.

 He asked if I was attending a lecture there and I told him I was.  He asked me which one and when I told him that it was Dr. Villoldo's workshop and he said, "I'm taking that workshop too!"  Again, I began to feel uneasy.  But, a short time later,  when we arrived at the Open Center, I saw him disappear into the room where the lecture was being held.  What were the chances of meeting the one stranger in New York City that was going to the same place that I was! Phew!

Now that I was safely inside, I called Ray to tell him that I'd arrived and to sarcastically thank him for sending me off in the wrong direction.  During the call, I specifically took note that my cellphone was fully charged. I told Ray I would call him to yell at him when we got a break and I settled in to enjoy the lecture. 

After a few hours, we got a lunch break.  As I ventured out onto the sunny streets of Manhattan, I pulled out my phone to call Ray.  It was then I realized, "Holy Crap!!!" My cellphone was...DEAD!!!  How could that be?!?!  Now, I had no way to contact Ray when the lecture was over!!  I toyed with the idea of asking someone if I could use their cellphone.  "This is New York!", I thought. No one is going to just "lend" a complete stranger their phone!!  Now, I'm friggin' stranded in New York City, with no phone!  At that moment, I recalled hearing a news report about how it's virtually impossible to find a payphone in New York City anymore!  Fuck! Fuckity, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck!!!

Ok, I needed to think this through rationally.  I decided I'd grab some lunch while I figured out what to do.  I took out my bag and began rummaging around looking for the money that Ray said he'd put in my purse that morning, but all I could find was four dollars! No big deal, I have my bank card.   I made a mental note to kill Ray later.  I walked around the corner and I found a little cafe and right next to it,  a convenience store with an ATM.  Ok, this was good!   As I walked from the convenience store I spotted...wait, did my eyes deceive me?  Yes, a payphone!  I swear I heard a choir of Angels!  But, I had no spare change.  "Not a problem", I thought.  I'll eat lunch, get some change and call Ray. 

After lunch, I went up to the counter where two very pleasant young men were working and asked if I could possibly get change.  I explained that I was in from Jersey for the day and that my cellphone died.  I needed money for the payphone.  Before I could say more,  one of the guys said, "here, would you like to use my cellphone?".  My first, thought..."I am in New York, right?". 

Ok, so now I managed to find an ATM, eat lunch, get change, yell at Ray and get back to the lecture in time for the second half!  I felt a sense of relief and pride in my own resourcefulness!  I spotted the gentleman who'd help me find my way and silently mouthed the words, "thank you" from across the room.

Dr. Villoldo's lecture was fascinating and included a demonstration on  "Soul Retrieval".  It is believed that if we endure a particularly traumatic event before or during birth or early childhood, a part of our soul may separate in order to protect itself.  This can lead us to experience repetitive harmful behaviors, relationships, accidents,  illnesses, that will continue until we can heal the trauma, so that this part of the soul can once again be reunited with the whole.   

Following the demonstration, we were taught how to "journey" in a meditative state to retrieve the lost portion of the soul.  We were instructed to choose someone in the room that we'd never met and we would simultaneously do a soul retrieval journey for each other.

As I glanced around the room, my eyes met those of an attractive woman, who I'd noticed several times during the lecture.  She immediately smiled at me and walked over.  We were instructed to share little more than pleasantries, no real information.  Her name was Francesca and one of the first things I noticed was a ring she was wearing.  It was a large round silver ring embossed with a pentacle.  I took her hand to look closer at the ring.  "Wiccan?", I asked.  "La Strega", she replied.  Strega is short for Stregheria. Italian Witchcraft.   So, now the second stranger I meet this day is another Witch!  How cool is that!

We journeyed for each other which we both found a strange, yet very interesting exercise.  Afterwards, she said, "Tracy, I do this professionally. I work here at the Open Center."  "I have to tell you what I saw", she said.

She told me that she saw me in the center of a circle, dressed in robes, surrounded by dark beings that were pointing arrows at me!  Then she said, that she didn't feel that they intended to harm me (hence the arrows), but instead, that they were frightened of me.  She said that they were "afraid of your power".  Then she said, "You know, you were a Sorceress in a past life".  It was then I pulled my pentacle out of my sweater and showed it to her.  She smiled and nodded her head knowingly.  We talked a while longer and she told me that I needed to continue to pursue my interest in shamanism and asked me to call her so that we could talk more.  She was extremely interesting and I am looking forward getting to know her better!

I have to say, it was certainly a day filled with strange and wonderful occurrences.

During the soul retrievals, we are asked to look for our totem animal.  When I journeyed for myself, I couldn't seem to connect with any one animal.  Then I remembered that Red Tailed Hawk that had visited me that morning and I was struck by the overwhelming feeling that perhaps, I had already found it.

This morning, as I stepped outside to leave my daily offerings, I realized how cold it had gotten during the night.  All of the plants on my deck that had long since withered and were covered with frosty morning dew.  Just then, something caught my eye.  Sitting there amongst the dry, brittle and withered plants, in the exact spot where the Red Tailed Hawk had landed, a single perfect little pansy had bloomed! 

What a splendid way to begin the day!

In Darkness, Light!


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wine and...Spirits?

Merry Meet and Happy Wednesday Family and Friends!

So, every morning (ok, I'm lying), almost every morning, I leave a few simple offerings in the form of wine or mead, incense and flowers to the Elemental Guardians.  Elemental Guardians are primal in nature and will behave in whatever manner they see fit with little regard to those of us who seek a harmonious relationship with them.  They can often be mischievous and wrathful and considering the damage we have inflicted upon their home, who wouldn't be?!

So, I leave these offerings as a sign of mutual respect and in hopes that it will avoid them attempting to burn or blow down my house, mudslides or avalanches (not likely in New Jersey, but ya never can be too careful) or slipping on dog pee in the middle of the night!  Note to the Undines: Not Funny!!!!

I must confess, I was beginning to wonder if the Elemental Spirits really gave a rat's ass that I was making the effort, but then two mornings ago, as I was about to go outside to leave my daily offerings, I noticed something strange in the cup of mead I'd left the day before.   There seemed to be a small, bright light shining from inside the cup!  At first, I thought I was imagining things. Surely, my eyes were playing tricks on me!

I stepped outside thinking that perhaps this light was the reflection of the sun rising over the house, but that wasn't it.  The day was cloudy and overcast. I looked around to see if perhaps the light was coming from inside our house or perhaps from our neighbor's porchlight, but that wasn't it either!  As I got closer to the glass, the light faded, but when I returned to the house, it reappeared! I grabbed my camera, fully expecting that when I attempted to get a picture of this strange phenomenon it would disappear, but it didn't!

I really don't know what to make of it, but perhaps it was the Elementals way of saying "Thanks" and "Sorry about the dog pee!

In Darkness, Light!!!


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pimpin' My Blog!

Merry Meet Family and Friends!

I have been trying forever to update the appearance of my blog and it's been so friggin' frustrating. I love the look of some of my ff's (Favorite Followers) blogs and wondered how I could achieve a similar appearance. Aside from the creativity of their writers, their blogs say so much about them! I visited some of the sites that have blog templates and they are absolutely beautiful! Yet, each time I try to incorporate them into my own, I lose my favorite thing! My Favorite Followers!!!!

I was reading my friend Dennis's blog this morning :::cough, cough::: "SpottedWolfWisdom" and absolutely loved the idea of incorporating my photography into my blog. Being technically challenged, I was just about to write Dennis to find out how to do it, when much to my delight, I discovered it for myself!

I took this photo a day or two ago of this beautiful rose with the Goddess's image in the background! I thought it expressed the theme for my blog perfectly! It's still a work in progress, but I would appreciate your comments and suggestions!

In Darkness, Light!


Monday, November 9, 2009

When the Student is Ready...

"the teacher appears"

Merry Meet and Good Evening Family and Friends!

A few nights ago, I had a strange dream, as most dreams often are. I dreamt there was a HUGE Praying Mantis walking across my living room floor. I said it was strange!! But wait..this was no ordinary Praying Mantis. I'm sure most Praying Mantises don't consider themselves ordinary at all, but this friends, was a Praying Mantis of a different color! Most Praying Mantises are green or brown. Not mine. No, mine was an 8 inch long, fluorescent violet and pink Praying Mantis!

I couldn't begin to imagine where this dream came from! I haven't been watching TV of late. No National Geographics or Animal Planet. I don't recall any recent lively discussions about Praying Mantises and I haven't seen one since I was a kid.

In this dream, I remembered thinking that it was very important that I catch the Praying Mantis and put it outside where it would be safe from harm. I grabbed a paper napkin hoping it would climb on, as I've done countless times with other insects that have wandered in uninvited. Despite my efforts, it climbed out of my hand and disappeared somewhere! :::cringe:::

This dream haunted me throughout the day. Each time it would slip back into the recesses of my memory, I'd find myself revisiting this freaky little mystical creature! I couldn't help but feel that there was something I needed to learn from it, so I did what any self-respecting Witch would do..I "Googled" Praying Mantis!

What I found in the following description was surprisingly relevant in more ways than I could imagine.

"The Power of Stillness"

The Praying Mantis teaches how to still the outer mind and go within ourselves.

Through this, we can draw upon greater power --
physical, emotional, mental or spiritual.

That stillness can be simple contemplation or meditation or even dreaming.

Healers often have Praying Mantis totems -- for they use
their inner stillness to focus their healing power.

The greatest lesson this totem teaches is patience.
Learning to wait for the right moment before striking.

As some of you know, my husband is recovering from fairly extensive surgery. It has been a stressful time when my focus has been drawn away from my inner stillness and into his healing. Despite the fact that I have found little time to quiet my mind, it has also been a time of stunning manifestaton and psychic awareness.

As I sat on the deck today, meditating and enjoying the beautiful 70 degree weather, I realized it would probably be one of the last we'll see like it this year..and that's ok. For the first time, I'm actually looking forward to Winter's stillness and the return to a journey within. Who knows, perhaps in the Spring...I'll emerge with all the wisdom the Praying Mantis was sent to teach me!

In Darkess, Light!


Praying Mantis-Power of Stillness courtesy of

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Of Magick and Madness....

Merry Meet Family and Friends!

As Pagans, we face an odd sort of dilemma. Some people think we're crazier than a bag of rats! And for some of us, that might actually be true...or not. Therein lies the dilemma!

Here's what I mean. If a Pagan friend tells me that a decision or behavior was guided by their personal Deity, in all likelihood, I would accept it at face value. Pagan or not, I find nothing at all unusual about someone saying that they were influenced by Divine Intervention. However, there's a huge difference between hearing from our Gods as flashes of intuition or inspiration and you know, actually HEARING from them! If the communication with one's Deities comes in the form of actual auditory or visual manifestations....Houston, we may have a problem!

I will tell you a true story of a Pagan gentleman, an intelligent, accomplished professional, who began to complain that his "Spirit Guides" were becoming bothersome to him. His partner, did exactly what I would have done, accepted this as part of his charm and spiritual personality. He would often say things like, "this rock told me it wants to live on my altar" or "that tree is feeling sad". Ok, well, nothing wrong there. Shamans communicate with nature elements all the time. And I mean seriously, how many times has a piece of chocolate looked you square in the face and said, "Eat Me".

Unfortunately, as his behavior became increasingly bizarre, it became apparent that his communications with the Gods were actually hallucinations and he was in the midst of psychotic break! For even those closest to him, the reaction was the same, "Who knew?!".

Obviously, this kind of thing is not exclusive to Pagans. I just believe that some behaviors are much easier to overlook amongst Pagans because we are so accepting of diversity in beliefs, even within our own community. What the outside world might consider bizarre behavior, is perfectly reasonable to us. Rituals, Magick, casting spells, sharp and pointy ceremonial knives, are all things that are common to our practice.

I recently read the symptoms of a diagnosed schizophrenic who would see signs in everything in nature. Ok, well, I look for signs and omens all the time. The difference, I believe, is not that we perceive signs, but how profoundly those signs impact on our daily lives. I might see a smiley face on a broken candle, but I am also able to distinguish that it only "looks" like a smiley face. It may also just be a broken candle that is dripping wax. I prefer to look at it as a sign, but am also open to all the more mundane possibilities. The number "13", black cats, walking under ladders, broken mirrors? These are all "signs" that are commonly accepted as ominous in our culture and yet, to perceive them as such is not considered a symptom of mental instability, but merely superstition.

As occultists, our sanity is often open to the scrutiny of those who are plagued by fear and misconceptions about what we actually do. I'm sure that those very same individuals would be more than a little surprised to learn that, in some Wiccan circles (no pun intended), having undergone psychological counseling is actually a requirement. Health of mind, body and spirit is a fundamental part of what makes us Pagans.

Our minds are capable of manifesting miracles or plunging us into the depths of despair. I believe that the healthiest among us are those who have mastered the skill of walking that fine line between both Worlds.

In Darkness, Light!!