Sunday, December 12, 2010
It feels rather odd saying that given the nature of this entry.
Recently, a very gifted young man by the name of Tyler Clemente jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge after his fellow classmates secretly videotaped him engaged in an act of intimacy and posted that video on Youtube. Tyler was gay.
I can't even begin to imagine his parent's agony, especially now during this holiday season. Apparently, they were unaware that Tyler was homosexual.
A few weeks after Tyler's death, I made it a point of talking to my kids about their sexuality. Oh yeah, I went there! Turns out, it wasn't the awkward conversation one might expect.
You see, we are very fortunate that our kids share a lot more than we ever did with our parents at their age. I feel grateful for the level of trust they have in us as parents.
As Wiccans, we believe that all acts of love and pleasure are sacred and to whom that love is shared is not necessarily determined by gender, societal pressures or by mainstream religious beliefs. Our kids, while not practicing Pagans, have grown up in an atmosphere that embraces sexuality as an expression of love, beauty and devotion, rather than a source of fear or embarrassment.
We didn't want our children to be overwhelmed by feelings that they didn't quite understand and wanted them to feel assured that we would love and support them whatever their sexual preference. We also made it clear that the rest of society, as yet, may not be quite as accepting of their choices as we are. We further explained that, much like being openly Neopagan, choosing to openly practice an alternative sexual lifestyle was not for the faint of heart. Still, we didn't want them to view their sexuality as a source of fear or anxiety, but instead, was a natural expression of who they are. Most importantly, we wanted them to be safe.
I've thought often about Tyler Clemente, as well as the other children who've taken their lives for the same reasons. As a parent, my heart breaks to think that he felt that taking his life was better than having those in it learn that he was gay. How different things might have been had he shared his "secret" with those people who loved him. I also can't help but wonder if there was something in his background that prevented him from sharing the same. Was it his religious beliefs or perhaps something in his upbringing that caused him to feel that the truth being revealed was worth dying for.
Adolescence is a time of transformation. It's neither easy, nor painless.
I implore you as parents, speak to your children. Listen to them with open minds and hearts. They may tell you things that you never wanted to know or that go against your moral or religious beliefs. If what you hear is difficult for you, just imagine how hard it may be for them to share. They need to know that not everyone will be on their side, but not everyone's opinion of them matters.
In Darkness, Light!
Thursday, November 25, 2010
I had a love/hate relationship with my sister. I say that because that, in fact, was what it was. There is no better way to explain it. She was intensely jealous and vindictive. Yet, despite an undeniable sibling rivalry, she was also extremely protective of me.
I always wished we could have the kind of fairytale relationship that exists between some sisters and their younger siblings, but it simply wasn't meant to be. Our relationship was complicated, often violent and at times, god-awful to the point that I hated her more than I could any enemy. Yet, when she died 9 years ago, she took a piece of my heart with her. Given the nature of our relationship, it seems only fitting.
Today is Thanksgiving and I've been thinking a lot about my sister.
She and I always spent the holidays together and when we did, we danced. It didn't matter what holiday we were celebrating, we danced! I've missed that so very much! The dancing. And the laughter. And the times when we put every other inconsequential emotion behind us.
I've felt, for a very long time, that these were mere moments, lost in time and then today, when my heart really needed those missing pieces...unexpectedly, I danced. I danced with wild, reckless abandon, out on the deck, in the rain. Not with my sister...but with my own daughter. We laughed and danced and it took my breath away.
My heart, will be forever thankful!
In Darkness, Light!
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Yesterday was a weird day. Ok. Allow me to rephrase. Yesterday was a weirder day than usual.
Firstly, I got about 3 hours sleep because my husband and I were awake and talking until 3 a.m. We were grappling with a difficult decision and 3 a.m. seemed as best a time as any to have this conversation. Yet, despite our efforts and lack of sleep, we still hadn't resolved anything by morning.
I dragged my ass out of bed, much earlier than I ever wanted to, but it was Saturday and on Saturday mornings, I dance. I dance to stay healthy. I dance because it keeps me sane. I danced as if my life depended on it!
At the end of the class, a woman who I'd seen before, but to whom I'd never spoken, walked up and introduced herself. She asked me my name and then held out her hand offering me a brightly colored wrist band. If you are unfamiliar, these are the popular, half inch wide rubber bands, with a word or slogan written on them. I just assumed that the wrist band said, "Zumba", since this was the class we'd just taken, but instead, it held a single word, "Faith".
On a good day, I usually avoid accepting something like this because what usually follows is an admonishment that if I don't accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior there will be a table in Hell with a place card bearing my name. I held my breath and awaited the sermon. "I just wanted to give these out", she said. "To those that might need them". Not at all what I expected! I welcomed both the words and the gift.
You see, as I drove to class this morning, still struggling with the wee morning hour's unresolved dilemma, I called upon those who guide me when I'm beginning to feel that I'm losing faith that the answer I seek will be found.
As a Christian, I'd been taught that if I prayed long and hard enough, God would intercede on my behalf and the only thing I needed to have was "faith". And so, during those times, I prayed just as I'd been taught and when that didn't happen, I pleaded, begged and whined.
What I learned however, was that faith alone wasn't always enough and when I questioned why, after putting my prayers in God's hands they still went unanswered, I was told that, "God works in mysterious ways".
:::Cue annoying buzzer sound:::
So, why do millions of Christians "keep the faith", despite numerous unanswered prayers, and I didn't? I believe the reason is that their faith comes from the acceptance that this is all part of "God's Will" and I just considered it false advertising!
You see, I grew up believing the stories of Christ's miracles...a virgin birth, arising from the dead, turning water into wine. So naturally, I had faith that my prayers, which obviously required a lot less effort than, ya know...walking on water, would be answered. When that didn't happen, I began to wonder who I needed to pray to get a refund!
While I can't really say that I've given the concept of "faith" much thought of late, I do believe my perception of the word has changed.
The Wiccan path is one of personal responsibility, so there really hasn't been a need for groveling and begging for Deity to intervene on my behalf. In fact, I've seen more evidence of the existence of the Gods in my life than I ever have before. I believe this comes from the realization that the Gods really don't owe me anything! I've learned that one has to be willing to work on mundane level to manifest their goals before they can expect the Gods to offer any assistance and even then, the choice to do so is there own.
So, does that mean I never ask for help from the Gods? I mean, they are Gods, isn't that why we worship them? Not so much.
My faith lies not in what the Gods are willing to do for me, but in the acceptance that at times they will help me to my feet and at others, will allow me to fall on my ass. After all, they are not the all loving, benevolent beings from my days as a Christian, but instead, have qualities that often mirror the many dark and light aspects of our own personalities. I have also come to understand that they will not venture into the realm of my own personal journey, if the difficulties I encounter, no matter how painful, will ultimately result in my gaining the wisdom and strength to face the next challenge. For this, I am grateful.
I believe that I have relationship with Deity that is based on honor, service and devotion and so I often see their presence in the "mysterious ways" that things have a way of working out just the way I need them to. I've also learned that the gifts of the Gods, while ever sweet, are indeed gifts and are not to be confused with obligation.
Perhaps...therein lies the mystery.
In Darkness, Light!
Friday, October 8, 2010
It's kind of like being...a Turkey at Thanksgiving! It's the time when we, as Witches, are most often cast into the public eye. The media, which have been more than happy to pretend we don't exist all year long, come out of the wood work clambering to jump on the Halloween bandwagon with some article or documentary that includes an interview with a "real" Witch. Unfortunately, the media has little, if any, interest in discovering what those of us who refer to ourselves as Witches are really about, unless of course, there happens to be some kind of ritualistic murder, grave desecration or equally heinous crime. Then we may be suspect, but it's usually the Satanists who get the blame! No, in my humble opinion, their primary interest lies in finding the one person who is willing to step out of the proverbial broom closet into the spotlight, and whom most closely resembles the Hollywood "Witch" stereotype. And, find them they do! Unfortunately, despite our attempts to reassure the general population otherwise, this only serves to confirm what has been suspected about us all along...that we are part of the lunatic fringe!
I gotta be honest though, we do attract our share of crazies or those seekers who are simply interested in Witchcraft or Wicca for its "cool" factor. And, we Witches do all sorts of interesting things, don't we? We dance under the full moon, cast Circles with sharp, pointy knives, go through tons of incense and attend amazing clothing optional festivals! It is pretty cool, actually! Sadly however, many of these path seekers have little in the way of actual experience or knowledge of our historical background. And while it may be fun to "dress the part", unless you really know your Craft, the last thing you want to do is publicly discuss an already misunderstood practice with those people who are more interested in, "what kind of broom do you ride?".
So what do they really do in October, those Witches? Well, I'm sure like most people, many of us will do the usual stuff one does on Halloween,.rifle through our kid's Trick or Treat bags for the best candy, watch scary movies or perhaps, attend a Halloween party or two.
Many of us however, will also be celebrating the Festival of Samhain. Samhain, pronounced, "sow-un", is the Wiccan Sabbat honoring our beloved ancestors and those Witches of good character who have gone on before us. It's said to be the time when the veil between the Worlds is most thin.
You might find us sitting before a crackling fire, under a beautiful crescent moon, the scent of incense carried on the night's breeze. Fallen leaves swirl around us, as we huddle close, keeping each other warm. Gazing across the Circle, we look into the many beautiful faces of those friends who have become Clan. A steady drumbeat echoes the sound of their voices, the flames illuminating their tears, as they chant the names of those loved ones who have since crossed the veil.
I know that for some, this might sound like a strange practice. Yet, every Sunday millions of Christians attend religious services in which they reenact Christ’s Last Supper. They are invited to receive the Holy Eucharist and partake in the “body and blood of Christ”. Now, if by some quirk of fate you’ve never heard of Christ or this practice within the Christian mass, it does sound a lot like cross between Sanguine Vampirism and Cannibalism. And yet, it is an acceptable religious practice in our society. For Christians around the World this is just a normal part of their religious beliefs. Of course, we are familiar with Jesus Christ and understand that it’s neither of these things, but is symbolic of taking Deity into one’s self. It’s a beautiful sacrament, but no more so than the Wiccan “Great Rite”, the symbolic sacred marriage of the God and Goddess.
And, what about the practices of other mainstream religions. In Judaism, ritual circumcision is a practice that has been passed down from generation to generation. It is believed to be the first Commandment given to God by Abraham. "And on the 8th day he shall have his foreskin circumcised" (Leviticus 12:3). And, yet for those of the Jewish faith in our society, this is a perfectly acceptable practice as well. For someone unfamiliar however, it might very well be mistaken for the same type of genital mutilation that is common place in some Muslim countries.
Yet as Wiccans/Witches, if we were to engaged in something even remotely similar to that which is practiced by either faith, it would be perceived as something “evil”. But…I digress.
For most of us however, being a Witch is not just cool, it's, well...life. And it's a life that includes not only beautiful moonlit rituals, but all those little mundane aspects that most people define as "normal". Getting kids off to school, food shopping, going to work...walking the dog. But, cleaning dog shiii..um, poop off one's shoe hardly ever gets ratings.
Most people aren't interested in "normal" anyway. Normal is boring! They want drama! They want scandal! They want to hear about all those things they just know we're doing behind closed Coven doors! Orgiastic rituals, devil worship and blood sacrifices! Oh My!!! Now that's entertainment, my friends! Sorry to disappoint, but personally, my life simply isn't that...um, entertaining.
So, why would any sane person refer to themselves by a name that strikes fear in the hearts of some and induces uncontrollable fits of laughter in others? Why would one subject themselves to those cocked head, quizzical expressions that our dogs oft times give us when they are trying really, really hard to figure out what the hell we're talking about? What would possibly compel a seemingly (And I said "seemingly") normal wife and mother living in the suburbs of New Jersey to declare herself a "Witch" and endure the stigma of 400 years worth of misconceptions?
In Darkness, Light!
This entry has been cross posted in part by C.L. Ross at http://clross.net/
Monday, October 4, 2010
So, now for some happy news! I recently had an article published on Witchvox! It was the first I'd submitted and was quite pleased that it had been accepted!
For those unfamiliar, Witchvox, also known as "The Witches' Voice" is a World-Wide Networking resource for well...Wiccans and Witches and Pagans! Oh My! So, if you're looking to connect with people of like minds, a group to practice with or events of interest that might be taking place in your area, this is the place you want to visit!
That being said, one of the perks of having an article published is that I've gotten some really great feedback via private email. One such email however, posed a moral and ethical dilemma for me, both as an occultist, as well as a parent.
The email came from a boy my son's age, who had a predicament of his own. He told me that he felt he had the "power" and wanted me to teach him to be a Witch. His great, great Grandmother was a White Witch and he wanted to be one too. Despite his desire however, he was afraid that God might not allow him into Heaven if he practiced Witchcraft. His question to me was, could he become a Witch and still go to Heaven? Seriously, I'm not making this up!
Ya gotta know, it was close to Midnight when I read his email. I wasn't sure if I was even awake enough to give him the answer that he needed or more importantly, the one that I felt was the most spiritually responsible. I sat there, half asleep, staring at his email and thinking, "Crap! This is really hard!"
My first instinct was to gush with excitment as I shared my passion for the Craft. I wanted him to know that I became interested in Witchcraft when I was much younger than his 14 years, and that even as a little girl, I wanted to be a Witch. I wanted to tell him that I would have gladly given up a place in Heaven, if it meant fulfilling my dream!
Then my maternal instinct kicked in and I just couldn't do it. Yes, all that would be true, but was it my responsibility? This kid had obviously been taught to believe in the Christian concept of Heaven and Hell and I wasn't about to negate the teachings of his parents and/or his Church. It saddened me, however, to hear that he was so fearful that the God he was taught to love was a vengeful God that would deny entry into Heaven if he were to follow his heart.
I began to recall my own humble beginnings and those dark nights of the soul when I questioned my Christian upbringing, which trust me, was hardly an "upbringing" at all. I found myself confused by the underlying sense of foreboding as I contemplated the possibility of betraying the beliefs that, although I felt no connection to, were all I'd ever known. I was reluctant to confess, even to myself, that I'd never been a Christian...really. And while I still had an affection for the person known as Jesus Christ, I couldn't claim to be a fan of some of his cheering section. After all, these were the very same people who kept assuring me that should I practice Witchcraft, not only would I lose my reservation in Heaven, but that I might consider dressing for a MUCH warmer climate! Yet, my heart beckoned and I followed, and for the first time in my life I understood why I'd questioned my faith. See, now I'm gushing!
So what words of wisdom did I impart on my little friend? Well, I told him that Witches read...a lot! And that most Witches spend years studying to learn to be Witches. I told him that the first step to being a Witch was learning as much as he could before deciding if being a Witch was really what he wanted to do. I explained that huge responsibility came with practicing Witchcraft, as we were always mindful that our actions were not causing harm to ourselves or others.
I told him, "I believe that the Gods judge you not by whether you call yourself a Witch, but by what's in your heart". I couldn't help but think how much anguish I would have been spared had someone said these words to me when I was trying to make my own choices.
And although I'm personally skeptical, I threw in the good ole' "Threefold Law". Somehow, I think his great, great, grandma would have wanted me to!
In Darkness, Light!
Thursday, September 23, 2010
What I am about to tell you may shock you. Then again, for those of you who actually know me...probably not.
In light of the recent "Dabble-Gate" scandal caused by Delaware Senate Candidate Christine O'Donnell's confession that she had once practiced...well, something (she claims it was Witchcraft...but, some of us would beg to differ), I felt compelled to share a few of my thoughts of my own about acceptance.
Many Wiccans have come forward to to defend the reputation of our religion. What has offended so many is not that Christine O'Donnell claimed to practice Witchcraft. That in and of itself would nary cause a stir amongst our community. No, what I believe really has many Witches/Wiccans flying off the broom handle, so to speak, is that during her brief stint as a Witch, Ms. O'Donnell claims she inadvertently picnicked on a blood tainted Satanic altar, thus linking Witchcraft to Satanism.
For years, Wiccans have been trying to distance themselves from any association with the practice of Satanism. The notion that Witchcraft and Satanism go hand in hand is a misconception shared by many. You will most likely hear what Wicca is not, long before you hear what it actually is. "Wicca is not Satanism". "Wiccans do not believe in the existence of Satan". "Satan is a Christian construct." And my personal favorite, "to give evil a name lends it power". And I know, I've assured many concerned folks of these very things myself.
With all due respect however, aren't we being just a tad hypocritical. Is it just me or doesn't this smack of the same intolerance that we've been striving to overcome for these years? It seems to me that what we are in effect doing, is making it glaringly obvious that we are intolerant of someone else's beliefs, to the point that we are going through hell (pun intended) and high water to clarify that WE are not THEM!
No, we're not Satanists. But we're also not Buddhists. I mean, think about it. Do you hear us so vehemently defending our comparison to any other religion? Many of us have found our way to Wicca after being raised in a more mainstream religious background, yet if someone were to suggest that we were practicing Christianity or Judaism, it would hardly be worth mentioning. Yet, compare a Wiccan to a Satanist and all hell breaks lose...literally!
Now, I would be the last person you would hear say, "Oh, those poor misunderstood Satanists" or that Satanism has just gotten a bad rap. Satanism has gotten it's reputation because many people are repelled by their principals, practices and ya know, the whole association with Satan thing. The fact that Satanists don't actually worship Satan makes little difference. Satanists recognize themselves as Deity and hold only their own life perspectives as holy. It is a religion based solely on the "Self". They believe in fully living out and indulging in, their innermost lusts and desires.
"Satanism respects and exalts life. Children and animals are the purest expressions of that life force, and as such are held sacred and precious..." ~ religioustolerance.org.
Surprised? I was. I was taught to believe that Satanists sacrificed children and small animals to Satan. Not so much.
Back in the day, when first I began practicing Wicca, I participated in an online Pagan-Christian discussion forum. I remember one of my very first conversations was with a woman who belonged to the the Church of Satan. I recall asking her, with my uppity neophyte attitude, why anyone would want to practice Satanism. I was surprised when, rather than telling me where to put my broomstick, she calmly and politely shared her reasons and suggested a website or two, should I want to a better my understanding of her beliefs. After participating for a while, and being bashed by many of the more experienced Pagan practitioners on the Board, it became readily apparent that not only was she one of the more intelligent posters, but also one of the more respectful as well.
I have to admit, I was actually nervous to visit the sites she suggested, but curiosity got the better of me and eventually I did. Can you imagine how surprised I was to learn that I actually agreed with 9 1/2 of the Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth! Shocked yet? See how many you agree with...
There are many religions whose beliefs and practices I can't embrace. I don't enjoy the fact that some of the African Diasporic religions engage in animal sacrifice. I don't agree with the Jehovah's Witness who refuses a life saving blood transfusion for their child because it's against their beliefs. And the Scientologists? What more can I say?
Yet, I don't need to agree with what anyone else chooses to believe. I am secure enough in who I am and in the Path I follow so that I don't feel I have to hold up for comparison the differences between us. All I need to do is accept that the path they've chosen is much different my own.
All this having been said, I've met a few Satanists in my time. Not many, but those I've met, I've actually liked! No, I can't say I agree with with their beliefs and you definitely wouldn't find me attending one of their....umm, picnics, yet I don't feel an overwhelming need to cringe when I hear my religion spoken in the same sentence as theirs.
The Scientologists? Well, I'm still a work in progress...
In Darkness, Light!
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Merry Meet Family and Friends!
So, you may have seen or heard the drama being fueled by Delaware Senate candidate, Christine O'Donnell's admission that she "dabbled" in Witchcraft in High School. If you have heard nothing of the aforementioned, I've included the video for your viewing pleasure.
Now, for those of us who do more than just "dabble", it's blatantly obvious that whatever Christine was doing was not Witchcraft.
That said however, her admission has spawned a barrage of articles, interviews and commentary by everyone who has an opinion on the same, including the Wiccan community. And can you blame them? Quite frankly, our beliefs come under scrutiny so often and we are interviewed so infrequently, that we are often at the mercy of whomever it is willing to speak for us. If someone claiming to be a Witch or Wiccan makes an outlandish statement that portrays us in an unfavorable light, it reflects negatively upon us all.
Yesterday, AOL featured an interview with a young woman claiming to be a Witch, who was raising her son as the same. Personally, I know many people that are raising their children as Pagans, so for me, this was not exactly newsworthy. For the most part, her interview was a positive one, with the exception of her admission that her son was "ritually" conceived. Now, if any newlywed couple were to admit that their child was conceived when they made love on a public beach while on their honeymoon, the most you might hear is, "oh those crazy kids!" If you're a Wiccan however, and mention that your child was conceived during a ritual? Oh. Holy. Fuck! Oh yes, I went there!
Now, if you were to "give it a Google" and search the sexual practices of Wiccans, I'm certain you can find something about sex magick being performed during ritual. However, if this is performed at all, it's usually between a married or partnered couple in a private setting. What is more common is something referred to as the "Great Rite". It's the sacred marriage of the God and Goddess and it's performed symbolically. It involves plunging a sharp, pointy ceremonial knife into a cup of consecrated beverage of choice, most often wine, juice or water. The athame (see sharp, pointy knife) represents the God, the cup, represents the Goddess.
Isaac Bonewit's once said, "Everybody talks about the Great Rite, but no one ever does anything about it." We miss you, Isaac!
Christine O'Donnell went on to explain her babbling....I mean, dabbling:
"I was in high school, how many of you didn't hang out with questionable folks in high school? But no, there's been no witchcraft since," she said, shrugging off her dalliances with the dark arts.
"Now let’s put that to rest and move on to what we’re going to do," she said.
I was raised Catholic. Given all the accusations of child molestation and cover ups surrounding the Catholic Church, one might say that I hung out with questionable folks too! Talk about dalliances with the dark arts! But....I digress.
Can we really blame Christine O'Donnell? Actually, perhaps we should be thanking her. You see, there are about 3 million of us in the United States that practice Wicca, who don't consider ourselves "questionable folks" and now, we have the opportunity to engage in a little education. We have careers, own homes, support our families and are active, productive members of society and of our communities. No, we don't engage in blood sacrifices. No cannibalism. No Satanism. And while I can't obviously speak for all Wiccans, no ritual child conception. If we were, in fact, "questionable folks", I suspect we would be interrogated, I mean, interviewed, a lot more often.
No, in fact, you really don't hear much about us at all. Unless of course someone opens their mouth and puts their foot in it. In this case, I believe both the Witch and Ms. O'Donnell are on equal "footing".
"To Keep Silent"
In Darkness, Light!
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Merry Meet and Autumn Blessings Family and Friends!
This is the time of introspection. A time to venture inside ourselves to see where we've been, what we've done and where we are going. And so, I shall.
I find myself looking back over the past ten years and can't believe how much I, my life and relationships have changed. I'm not talking about the usual kind of changes that occur in all of our lives, but those, "nothing will ever be the same" kind of changes that have us completely rethinking what we had envisioned our future would be like.
Friday, September 17, 2010
So, yesterday morning, I had planned to get to work early. I was pretty well on my way too. I'd gotten up early, got everyone fed and was out the door on time. I was feeling pretty productive!
I work about a mile and a half from my house, so giving myself 15 minutes to get to work is usually plenty of time. As I stepped outside however, I was met by a glorious Fall morning! I made it all the way to my car door, before taking out my cell phone, calling my coworker and telling her I was going to be late. I started walking.
I remembered thinking that there must be some reason why I made the decision I had, but couldn't imagine what it might be. Then I met...
The Rabbit. As I made my way down one of the more busier streets along my walking route, I spotted something small and furry moving along the sidewalk. At first, I thought it was a chipmunk and expected it to scurry away when I approached. As I got closer however, I came face to face, literally, with a tiny baby rabbit. He perked his little ears as I approached, hopped right over and looked up at me. He was breathtakingly cute! "Hi, baby!", I said, as I watch him nibbling the grass along the sidewalk. As I stood there, completely smitten with his cuteness, I realized however, that he was a mere foot or so away from the road and suddenly, my "maternal instinct" kicked in. "C'mon, Rab", I said and scooped him up in my hands. He was so soft, tiny and helpless. I was amazed that he didn't struggle to free himself as I carried him to the house farthest from the street. I deposited him carefully on the lawn. I turned back once more, just to make sure he was safe, when I found that....he was hopping after me! My first thought was, "rabbits imprint on the first person they come in contact with like baby ducks do?" Great! Now what do I do? I couldn't very well take him with me to work, could I? Could I? I must confess....I considered keeping him! I envisioned walking back home, finding a nice safe, comfy cage and.....
Wait, what was I thinking?! This is a wild rabbit! I couldn't keep him!!! Ray would kill me! Still....I found myself powerless against his cuteness! I was seriously enchanted. NO! I'm not his Mother and I am not keeping him!!! So, I picked him up a second time, but this time...he screamed! Really. Loud!! You would have thought I was killing him! "You can't come! I'm already late for work!!" Yes, I had this conversation, in public, with a rabbit! I carried him, once again, up my neighbor's walkway and tucked him safely behind a bush. Then I hurried down the steps as fast as I could, looking back only long enough to make sure he wasn't following me!
Good deed for the day. Check! Still, now I was going to be even later than I expected. I had to really rush if I was going to make it to work by at least, 9:30.
I hurried along, still thinking about my cute baby rabbit, when I saw two things that really disturbed me. Firstly, I saw the truck belonging to the Handy Man service that, if you'd read my last entry, you know I'm not a fan of and then I saw...The Dog! "It's going to be one of those days, is it?", I thought.
He looked like a miniature German Shepherd, sans owner. As I approached, I said, "Are you by yourself?" He looked at me, tentatively approached, smelled my hand, growled menacingly and ran from me. I scanned the neighborhood, hoping his owner was nearby, but there wasn't a soul around. He began running. Into the street! A car was coming, but luckily was traveling slow enough to stop when he ran in front of their car. Oh no...I couldn't watch!
"Come here", I yelled to the dog. And he did! "Sit", I told him. And, he did that too. Should I try for "Stay?" Three times the charm! I could see he had two identification tags on his collar, but he wouldn't let me close enough to read them. At that point, I didn't want to leave him alone, but I had to get to work! Dammit!
I decided the only option would be to call the Ridgewood Police from my cell phone and have them see if they could find his owner. I was assured that Animal Control would be there shortly, but the dispatcher told me I would need to stay there with the dog. I looked at the time on my phone. Yeah...I was going to be really late.
As I hung up and looked back at my little friend, I wondered what would happen when Animal Control arrived. How would they catch him? Would they use one of those steel poles with the slip collar? He was going to be so frightened! And then what? Would he be taken to the Animal Shelter if they couldn't contact his owner? I thought about pets that were accidentally euthanized after being brought to the shelter. "Ok", I thought....this is the part where I get bitten.
I placed my purse on the ground and plopped down next to it. The dog was about a foot or two away. I began talking softly to him.....repeatedly assuring him that he was a "good boy" and hoping I was right! He eyed me, suspiciously. Note to self: Carry dog biscuits on person at all times. Then I said, "Come here". And he did! He crawled over on his belly lay next to me. At that point, I was finally able to read his collar! His name, I learned was "Henry". I leaned in a little closer, hoping he wouldn't bite my face off and was able to read the address on the collar. I realized the number was only one house away from where we sat!!! Then to my profound dismay, I realized it was the same house with the Handy Man's truck in front of it!
"Oh Henry", I said. "You can't be serious! I got to my feet and called to the dog. "C'mon Henry....I'm taking you home!" He followed me obediently, looking up at me for direction as he walked beside me. As we got to the front door and I rang the bell, I looked down at Henry who was staring up at me expectantly. "I can't believe I'm doing this, Henry! You owe me!" Just then, a woman answered the door. "Hi", she said, questioningly. I looked down at Henry. "Hi", I returned. "I believe this belongs to you?". I explained that I'd found him running around the street and that I had called Animal Control before I'd found her house. She explained that he wasn't really hers. She was "babysitting" for a relative. He must have to gotten out of the backyard. I told her he was a really good boy! She was very pleasant and extremely grateful for Henry's return.
Second Good Deed of the Day. Check!
As I left Henry safe and sound with his "sitter", I walked down the steps, digging around in my pocket for my IPod. Again, a time check revealed that my ETA had well passed. I questioned my decision to walk, about all that had happened thus far and wondered if perhaps fate had been at play. As I pushed the ear buds into my ears, I realized that my IPod had been playing the entire time. The song that was playing....
"What Goes Around, Comes Around" ~ Justin Timberlake
In Darkness, Light!
Saturday, September 11, 2010
So, if you've read my last entry you know that we had a new stove delivered. This writing however, is not about appliances, but about people.
My phone rang early last Friday afternoon. It was the delivery man calling to tell me that he would be arriving sooner rather than later with my delivery. He had a fairly heavy accent which I found difficult to interpret over the phone. About 10 minutes later, I saw the delivery truck pull up and I opened the door to a very pleasant gentleman in his mid 40's, who had a lovely Russian accent.
It wasn't his accent however, but his first words that struck me. "I'm not a bad guy, am I?". This rather odd introduction took me by surprise and I wasn't sure how to respond. He then asked if I'd mind locking up my dogs. Despite my reassurance that they were friendly, he politely insisted. Then he showed me the scar on his forearm that he received from another customer's "friendly" dog. I agreed, albeit reluctantly.
You see, whenever I receive a delivery, have our gas meter read, or otherwise open the door to a stranger when I'm home alone, I find comfort in the fact that there's usually a large dog or two in close proximity. This gentleman's initial question, "I'm not a bad guy?", did very little to put my mind at ease.
As we chatted and I expressed my concerns about how we might get the new stove through the narrow doorway, he stopped and said, "You know, you're a very nice lady'. Again, I felt uneasy. Not threatened..just uncomfortable. I glanced at the clock to see how soon it would be before my husband would be home. A little later he went on to say, "You know, the last customer made me feel as if he were buying ME instead of the merchandise!" Ahhh..now I understood! The comments that I found so strange, were actually his way of expressing his feelings of being treated disrespectfully by another customer. It wasn't anger I heard in his voice, but something else. It was sadness. I felt horrible! Horrible that he had been treated badly and horrible for my own reaction to his words, that were obviously spoken in kindness, rather than with any sinister intent. I did understand. A few weeks earlier, I experienced something quite similar and no less unpleasant.
We had a few projects that needed to be done at home and I called on a local "Handy Man" service to give us an estimate for the work to be done. My intention was to give the job to someone here in the Village, rather than an out-of-town service. Well, when the idiot...(oooops, outside voice), man came by to give me the estimate, he was rude, dismissive and behaved as if he were doing me a favor by hiring him. He chatted on his cell phone, ignored me as I pointed out the various projects, and finally interrupted me while I was speaking to ask, with smug arrogance, "Where did you get our name from again?". Needless to say, the work went elsewhere. Thanks, but I don't really need another, "Man Around The House".
Both these experiences however, were not without merit. They helped me better understand an incident that occurred some 15 years before, but that has bothered me ever since.
We had hired a moving company to move us into our current home. We had used them in the past because they had always been professional and reliable. However, on this particular day, they sent over a man who presumably had been treated badly by previous customers. Either that or he was a few moving trucks short of at fleet. In any case, he decided that this day would be the day that he would vent his frustrations...on me!
As he oversaw the men that were bringing in our belongings, I couldn't help but overhear his conversation. "I know these people", he said. "They're rich and nasty. They don't know what it's like to really work". He purposely spoke loud enough for me to hear his comments. "And her? She's a nothing but a rich bitch!" Oh no he didn't!! Surely, he wasn't referring to me??? His co-workers appeared visibly embarrassed by his behavior.
"Who is this guy?", I wondered. I was certain I had never laid eyes on him before today! His commentary went on for the remainder of the afternoon. He had a multitude of complaints and made rude comments whenever I was in earshot. My husband was at work during the move, so I was at home alone. Despite fact that he had other men working along side him, I felt vulnerable. He was bitter. His anger..palpable.
Rich? He would have probably been shocked to learn how wrong he actually was. We'd spent most of our savings buying our home and when all was said and done, we had just about enough money to pay the movers! As far as my being a "bitch" well, in this case, he was close. After he'd left, I locked the door and called his supervisor to ask how well they screened their employees for mental disorders. Then I wrote a letter to the owner of the company detailing what took place and why we wouldn't be using them again in the future.
Yesterday, I judged a man who was merely complimenting me for treating him well and I did so, as a result of fear. The handy man and the mover? Well, perhaps the handy man had heard my name around town or read something that had been written about me. Trust me. You can't be a Witch in this town without someone having an opinion and it's not always good. Still, I was a potential client and a future referral source. Yet, his ill-mannered disposition lost my business. The mover? Well, perhaps he did have some psychiatric issues or perhaps he was just tired of people treating him as if he was a piece of furniture.
Think about how long it takes to get to know, I mean really know someone. Yet we judge and are judged by others all the time. Often at first glance. Is it an inherent flaw of humankind? We judge based on social class, religion, weight, race, and at times, solely on the opinions of others.
What we are missing? What is it that we fail to see when we are looking at the shortcomings in others. Are we afraid that we see too much of ourselves in some or perhaps not enough of ourselves in others? What I believe we are really missing is the "interconnectedness" that exists between us all. When our lives cross paths, the judgements made in those initial moments can can impact us in greater ways than we can ever imagine.
The Witch, the Delivery man, the Mover and the Handy Man. Before those fateful days, none of us had ever met, nor may we ever meet again. And yet, how we reacted during those brief, chance encounters may have altered the course of our lives forever. Did the Delivery man learn to feel appreciated for his work? Did the Mover lose his job? The Handy Man, most definitely lost a client.
Fear may lead us to misjudge, but there is no excuse for ignorance.
"Judge not, lest ye be judged".
In Darkness, light!
Friday, September 10, 2010
So, I'm discovering that some of my most successful magick comes about when I'm not thinking about magick at all. Seems strange, doesn't it? Allow me to explain.
We remodeled our kitchen several years ago. New appliances, counter tops, tile flooring...you know, the works. I noticed in the last month or so however, that the enamel was beginning to peel off our stove. Very odd, I thought. The stove isn't really that old and it's obviously made to withstand heat, so I couldn't imagine why this would happen. I casually hinted to my husband, "I think we need a new stove." To which I received the classic "husband" response, "No we don't! The stove works fine! Just because it's peeling, doesn't mean we need a new stove". Hmmph! Is that so!
Well, I couldn't really argue with the fact that it was working fine. Yet every time I looked at it, sitting there....peeling, it irritated me! And each time I would repeat to no one in particular, "we need a new stove". You know, in a distracted, pissed off kind of way.
So, a week or so of this "stove mantra" goes by and one evening after work my husband nonchalantly mentions, "I don't think the stove is working". Oh really??? "Do tell!?" "Yeah", he said, "it's taken about an hour to preheat to 400 degrees". Now, If you listened really closely, you might have heard my heart breaking....but, probably not!
I must confess that I owe a debt of gratitude to my stove! Firstly, because it served me well all these years (no pun intended) and secondly, because I believe it taught me a little about the Buddhist philosophy of "detachment!" You see, in wishing an untimely demise upon my poor stove, I had absolutely no real heartfelt attachment to it, so I wasn't wasting or distracting energy from the outcome by overly focusing on it.
This, I believe, is one of the most difficult things to master when it comes to the practice of magick! It's not that I didn't care about my stove, I just didn't care enough to form any strong emotional attachment to it either way. I know, what you're thinking. "Who forms an emotional attachment to their stove?". Hey, ya never know! Seriously...Google "Stove Fetish". The World's a twisted place!
Think about it though. We have our purpose, intention and the will that drives us to manifest what we need or want. But, all this comes with a heartfelt desire and that is by far the most difficult thing to detach from when we focus on an outcome! We obviously want our magick to be successful. And as hard as we try not to be emotionally attached to the outcome, there's going to be that little voice in our head hoping that we get what we want. If we didn't give a rat's ass, we wouldn't be doing the work in the first place, now would we?
So, here I sit waiting for my new stove is being delivered. And my new goal? To learn and practice, as much as I can, the art of "detachment". Today, I'll also be playing the New Jersey Lottery, and do my best not to give a rat's ass if I wake up a millionaire! So Mote It Be!!
In Darkness, Light!
Thursday, August 26, 2010
So, I practice Magick most often when someone else is in need rather than for myself. Surprising? My regular practice consists mainly of daily devotions to my Patroness, Hecate, the Elemental Guardians and in honoring my Ancestors and Spirit Guides. This seems to make a World of difference in terms of the success of my own magical endeavors.
For the most part, I would rather work in the mundane and save the real energy for those situations in which my Magick would be most effective. The problem, I find, lies in the accumulation of energy behind the Magick when I finally let it fly...so to speak.
We have friends that own a Sushi restaurant here in Ridgewood. The owner, Andy is from Tokyo, is classically trained and his expertise is unquestionable. When we moved here almost 16 years ago, there was only one sushi restaurant and now, we are inundated! If it were not for the fact that my husband and I have become "sushi snobs", we would probably have never discovered this gem in the heart of all the other sushi restaurants here! Toro Sushi stands out because it's quality and authenticity. My motto is, "you can never be too good when it comes to sushi". It is, after all, raw fish!
All this being said, Ridgewood tends to be a ghost town during the Summer. Many people vacation for months at a time, rather than the average week here or there.
Tonight, when we visited our favorite sushi restaurant, the owner, Andy was sitting outside and place was empty! Our waiter, Mike, told us it had been like this all week! "Oh no", I thought. This would never do! We ordered our dinner and as we waited to be served, I began doing an incantation to bring in more patrons. Given how well it works for finding parking, I thought it could work equally as well for sushi! I had to be realistic however. Given the low volume of residents in the Village at this time of year, I knew I had my work cut out for me!
A few minutes later however, people began arriving....and arriving...and ARRIVING! It was only then I realized that Andy was by himself and was now swamped with sushi orders! Oooopsies! I felt a little guilty, so I called our waiter over and asked him to feel free to delay our dinner while Andy caught up with everyone else's order!
Dinner, as always, was awesome! And while I felt the overwhelming need to apologize, the look on Andy's face made it clear that it wasn't necessary!
Gotta love a little Magick!
In Darkness, Light!
Despite it being wishful thinking for some, it appears that Paganism isn't going anywhere~
Click the title to read further. (I knew you knew that...just sayin')
Paganism becoming more mainstream, experts say - AnnArbor.com
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Merry Meet Family and Friends,
Yesterday, Philip Emmons Isaac Bonewits, lost his battle with a very rare form of cancer.
I listened to the sound of the rain falling outside my window. A brief shower the meteorologist reported, that would end later that morning. It seemed only fitting that it would rain steadily throughout the day. I watched the candle flickering on my altar. A light to guide his soul on it's journey to the Summerland.
The first time I'd met Isaac was 3 years ago during our New Year's Eve celebration. Friends of ours were planning to announce their engagement and being friends of Isaac and Phaedra's as well, asked if they might invite them to join us.
Wait, allow me to ponder the question. Would Isaac Bonewits, author of some of my favorite books on the study of Wicca, Witchcraft and Magick and one of the most influential people in the neopagan community be welcome to celebrate New Year's Eve at our home? Seriously? Give me a moment to think this over. Ok, moments up!
To say I was a little nervous about meeting Isaac Bonewits would have been an understatement. Yet when he called me that afternoon for directions to our house, it was as comfortable as chatting with an old friend. I, on the other hand, was certain that I babbled something incoherent that didn't even resemble directions. After I'd hung up, I couldn't even remember what I'd said, but I was sure that Isaac would be lost somewhere in Ridgewood trying to find my house.
I have never been easily "star struck". My husband and I had chatted with Tony Bennett while having dinner in Manhattan and with Nell Carter in the lobby of a hotel when we were on our honeymoon. But, this wasn't Tony or Nell, it was Isaac Bonewits and I couldn't think of anyone I wanted to meet more!
And yet, there was someone that I was sure would want to meet Isaac just as much as I did. My son, Justin. Justin was just beginning to explore an interest in Paganism and one of the very first books I had given him to read was Bonewit's Essential Guide to Wicca and Witchcraft. While I thought it might be a tad advanced for a beginner, I knew that Isaac's humorous writing style combined with Justin's love of history would be a perfect combination of education and entertainment.
That said, I made the mistake of mentioning to Justin that Isaac and Phaedra might be stopping by that evening. He could barely contain his excitement and haunted me, relentlessly, throughout the day for an estimated time of Isaac's arrival.
Later that evening, as the hour grew late with no sign of Isaac, I knew Justin might be disappointed. I explained that Isaac and Phaedra had important plans and may not make it. They were to be married earlier that day.
The celebration was well under way and we were caught up in the merriment, when I heard the front door open. We have an "open door" policy in our home, so that anyone that's been here before is welcome to just come in. When I didn't hear the doorbell ring, I expected to see the familiar face of a late arriving friend. As I looked up to see who it was, there stood Isaac and Phaedra!
After a few moments of being in his company, I realized that whatever trepidation I had about meeting this wonderful man had completely vanished. He was sweet, shared openly his wisdom, knowledge and infamous wit, as well as anecdotes about his life. His wife, Phaedra, was a gentle soul, whose eyes filled with love when she looked at him.
Suddenly, I realized, I'd completely forgotten about Justin! I called for him to come down from his room. There was someone I thought he'd want to meet. As I introduced my son, Isaac shook his hand and said, "Hi Justin! I'm the most famous person you've probably never heard of!". Oh, but of course, Justin had heard of him!
I'm sure there are those reading who've never heard Isaac's name before today. As I write this, I find myself struggling to put into words just who Isaac was. Yes, he was "North America's leading expert on Witchcraft and the occult". He's was an author. A scholar. A songwriter. A Druid Priest. He was the one and only person who ever received a degree in Magick from an accredited university. He has been one of the most colorful, notoriously witty and influential people in the Pagan community. And all this accurately describes who Isaac was. An yet, it just doesn't seem to say enough about the man who gave so much of his heart and paved the way for us to follow ours.
Isaac Bonewits 1949-2010
Thursday, August 12th, 2010
Philip Emmons Isaac Bonewits, founder and Archdruid Emeritus of of Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship, one of North America’s leading experts on ancient and modern Druidism, Witchcraft, magic and the occult, and the rapidly growing Earth Religions movement, died today after a short struggle with cancer.
Mr. Bonewits first came into the public eye when he graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a Bachelor of Arts in Magic and Thaumaturgy (1970). During his tenure there, Mr. Bonewits worked with many renowned professors including Nobel Prize Laureate Owen Chamberlain. The work he did for that degree became his first book, Real Magic: An Introductory Treatise on the Basic Principles of Yellow Magic (1971).
In 1983, he founded and became the first Archdruid of Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF) an international fellowship devoted to creating a public tradition of Neopagan Druidry. In 1995, he retired from a leadership role due to complications from eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome. ADF has grown to become the best-known Neopagan Druid group based in North America. At his death, Mr. Bonewits held the title of ArchDruid Emeritus.
During his forty years as a Neopagan priest, scholar, teacher, bard, and polytheologian, Isaac Bonewits coined much of the vocabulary and articulated many of the issues that have shaped the rapidly growing Neopagan movement in the United States and Canada.
Mr. Bonewits was internationally known as a speaker who educated, enlightened and entertained two generations of modern Goddess worshippers, nature mystics, and followers of other minority belief systems, as well as explained these movements to journalists, law enforcement officers, college students, and academic researchers.
His personal papers will become part of the American Religions Collection at the Library of University of California at Santa Barbara.
One of his most influential contributions was the Advanced Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Frame (the “ABCDEF”), developed in 1979 as a response to the Jim Jones People’s Temple tragedy. It has been translated into many languages and used around the world to evaluate how dangerous or harmless an organization might be. It was the first such scale to use theories of mental health and personal growth to judge rather than theological or ideological standards.
His other books include Authentic Thaumaturgy (1979, 1998), The Pagan Man (2005), Bonewits’s Essential Guide to Witchcraft and Wicca (2006), Bonewits’s Essential Guide to Druidism (2006), Neopagan Rites (2007), and Real Energy (2007), which was co-authored with his wife, Phaedra, as well as numerous articles, reviews and essays. As a singer-songwriter, he released two albums, Be Pagan Once Again (1988), and Avalon is Rising (1992).
He is survived by his wife, Phaedra, his son from a previous marriage, Arthur Lipp-Bonewits of Bardonia NY, his mother Jeannette, his brothers Michael and Richard, and sisters Simone Arris and Melissa Banbury.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Merry Meet Beautiful Family and Friends!
This is the chant that we'd sung under an amazing starlit sky, before a roaring fire, in the presence of all those beloved people that I call...Clan.
Last weekend, we celebrated the Sabbat of Lammas. Lammas is the first of three harvest festivals on the Wiccan/Pagan Wheel of the Year. It represents a time of reflection and sacrifice, of reaping what has been sown and of thanks for that which will sustain us during the darker months ahead. Technically, for us, Lammas heralds the beginning of Autumn.
This ritual was especially poignant for me in that it was the first in which I circled with my daughter, Kyla. Of my two children, Kyla has shown the least interest in Paganism.
My daughter was baptized Catholic. Her christening broke tradition in that it didn't take place in a church, but was instead performed in our backyard on a beautiful Summer's day. While neither my husband nor I were active in the Catholic church, we agreed to christen our daughter more to appease her grandparents, rather than because of any deep connection to Catholicism. To consider doing otherwise would have simply been ungodly! Some believe that should a child die prior to baptism, their soul would remain in limbo for all eternity. Charming sentiment, isn't it?
As a kid, I could remember going through the motions of communion and confirmation. But communing with whom and confirming what? I had absolutely no idea! It was horribly stressful! Neither of my parents were very religious and I never truly embraced Christianity. The only reason I was doing any of it was because it was more (or less) a rite of passage for a loosely defined Christian growing up in our house. I however, felt as if I was an outsider looking in on something I had no significant connection to.
At an age much younger than Kyla's 14 years, I would have gladly sold the house right out from under my family to have been invited to participate in a REAL Wiccan ritual! I was completely and utterly enthralled with anything to do with Witches or Witchcraft. Little has changed since then, with the exception that I wouldn't sell the house out from under my family. I don't have to. Now the rituals are held here!
All this being said, you can imagine how thrilled I was when I casually asked Kyla if she wanted to participate in our Lammas Rite and instead of declining, she asked to borrow a robe! I could have sworn I heard the Elementals singing!
There were other kids her age who were participating as well, that having been raised Pagan, are very well versed in ritual etiquette. I worried that Kyla might feel awkward or out of place having never been this involved before. Again, she impressed me with a better understanding of the history and symbolism behind the Sabbat than I expected!
I have to face the undeniable truth however. Kyla may very well have participated in our ritual in hopes that she would attain honorary Wiccan status, thereby entitling her to celebrate the Wiccan holidays with a day off from school. That remains to be seen. But, Mom's not that kind of Wiccan! I take my beliefs very seriously and one ritual does not a Witch make!
I will say this much for her. The girl invokes and banishes a mean pentagram! Better than some people I know that have been practicing for years, so I'm definitely hopeful!
In Darkness, Light!
Friday, July 23, 2010
So, yesterday morning, for reasons still unclear to me, I recalled an incident that happened when I was a child. I guess I was perhaps 5 or 6 years old, give or take a year.
There was a girl my age by the name of Theresa who lived in the house next door to ours. She wasn't my favorite playmate, but her Mom and mine had been friends for years and so we played together often.
On this particular occasion, Theresa and I were playing in her backyard. The yard consisted of a small patch of grass next to a driveway covered by jagged, gravel rocks about the size of quarters. I can't recall what prompted her on that day, but for whatever reason, Theresa pushed me, hard, and I fell backwards onto the sharp stones. The palms of my hands had broken my fall and while I wasn't physically injured, I remember being hurt, emotionally, by her actions.
Sitting on the ground, brushing away tiny pieces of rock and dirt from my sore hands, I looked up at Theresa who was staring down at me with a self-satisfied expression of triumph. Being a timid, non-confrontational child, the thought of defending myself or of retaliation never entered my mind...nor, did it have to. What happened next became one of those inexplicable moments that burned itself into my memory.
As I rose to my feet, brushing off my clothing, I turned toward Theresa. Just as I did, I watched her falling backward onto the ground EXACTLY as I had only moments before, as if pushed by unseen hands. "You, you pushed me!!!", Theresa wailed from the ground below me. "I'm telling my Mommy!". But I didn't! I couldn't! But, how could I explain what just happened and more importantly, who would ever believe something that I couldn't believe myself! At that moment, a voice came from somewhere behind me. It was Theresa's mother. "She did not push you!", her Mom yelled from the window. "God punished you for pushing her!"
God's punishment? Really? Well, perhaps not in the Christian sense of the definition. I do believe, however, that on that day, in that moment in time, I was given a rare gift. Not the gift of karmic retribution for a child's unkind act, but of a glimpse into a World that exists beyond what we recognize as reality and a first knowledge of those that have our backs from beyond the veil.
Over the course of time, I have gratefully been on the receiving end of guidance and/or protection by those who walk between the Worlds. At my request? Perhaps. At others, not so much. It's on those occasions that a little "shove" in the right direction or when necessary to get someone's undivided attention is most welcome.
Possessing all the frailties bestowed upon humankind, I must confess that I have encountered situations in which my anger and frustation have gotten the better of me and I've danced the fine line of magickal ethics. Let's be honest, shall we? As mere mortals, our hearts are often in conflict with our heads. It might take a house falling on us to recognize the difference between what we want to do and what we should do. Thankfully, those instances have been few and far between, but hey, at least I admit it! In working with Hecate, or more aptly, in my devotion to her, I have seen lessons that bore her mark that were perhaps more harsh than anything I might have conjured up, but that were perfectly succinct, leaving no question as to their teacher!
I've since learned that it's not always necessary for me to push back quite as hard as I'd like to. I am comforted by the knowledge that there are those that walk beside me that are willing to do the pushing when I'm vulnerable and just need a little time to brush myself off!
In Darkness, Light!
Friday, July 9, 2010
I consider myself a Steward of the Earth. As "new agey" as that may sound, it is by far, the most accurate description. So when events such as the gulf oil spill take place, and I see the carnage left in it's path, it leaves me feeling helpless and frustrated. But, not hopeless. Never hopeless. I believe that the Earth will take care of it's own and while there may be casualties along the way, the balance will be restored. Cause' the Mother's awesome like that!
And while I may be able to do little on my own to contribute to the clean up efforts, I continue to do what I can within my own sacred space.
We are in the midst of a brutal heat wave here in New Jersey. Temperatures have topped 100 degrees, with nothing more than a few sprinkles of rain for weeks. Our town is under water restrictions which I'm finding much more painful to accept and comply with when I look upon the herbs and plantings, that I have so loving cared for, withering in the unrelenting heat.
I stepped outside a few days ago and the humidity enveloped me like a shroud. The sky was perfectly cloudless without even a hint of breeze. I noticed a Robin attempting to drink from our pond and as I watched, it fell over. I ran to see if I could help and found it huddled under the shade of a bush, shielding itself from the brutality of the Sun's rays. I thought it might fly off when I approached, but it remained still, beak open, it's breathing labored. I quickly fetched my watering can and filled it with cool water. I gently poured tiny drops into it's mouth and over it's wings. As I did, it tilted his little head back to drink. I was relieved. When I returned later, it was gone. When I turned to go back into the house, I noticed it lying at my feet, eyes open wide. It had died. I was heartbroken. Nature can be so cruel, or so they say. Who are "they" anyway?
My husband would say, that I'm interfering with life's natural order. And perhaps, that's true. But, how does one know when to let nature take it's course or to give our best efforts to sustain it?
We humans become ill every day. At times, through no fault of our own, at others, by assaulting our bodies with our own personal gulf oil spills. And yet, when we develop diseases that threaten the preciousness of life, we pump it with toxins and resort to extreme measures to sustain it's quality, even long after that possibility no longer exists.
Is this not interfering with life's natural cycle? And why is life's importance determined by the order of species? What makes some species less worthy of life than others?
Humankind. The greatest creation of the Gods or a wonderment of evolution? Perhaps a little of both? So long it's been debated. I've yet to decide, nor am I certain that it really matters. In order of species, we are Masters of all we survey. I bear witness to the miracles of modern medicine and technology every day. And yet, yet...we have been the single most destructive force to the planet that continues to sustain us, despite the aggressiveness of our malignancy.
Perhaps my efforts are, as my husband suggests, tampering with with life's "natural order". Perhaps allowing nature to take its course is what, in the big picture of things, I'm supposed to do.
Me? I'm going to continue screw with nature! I will water my herbs when the Mother sees fit to withhold rain. I will feed birds and animals in my sacred space when she blankets the ground with snow. I will continue to aid all those sentient beings that allow me the honor of living amongst them, in the place that was "home" to them long before we decided it was "ours". For me it's more than a labor of love.
I consider it penance for being one of God's greatest mistakes.
In Darkness, Light,
Monday, July 5, 2010
Merry Meet Family and Friends!
So, I've encountered one of the stranger and dare I say, darker aspects of social networking. Oh, it was bound to happen. As much as I have enjoyed reconnecting with childhood friends, there are really good reasons why some people don't stay in touch for 30 years!
In this year past, I've reconnected with a couple of male acquaintances from High School. One out of sheer curiosity, (it was rumored that he was....ummmm, deceased) the other, because I truly wanted to believe that with age comes wisdom, and to that end, offer the benefit of the doubt.
You would think I would know better by now! Oh, I still believe that wisdom comes with age for most people. For others, insanity gets there a lot quicker than wisdom could ever hope to!
The first, was a guy I dated for about a week and a half during my freshman year in High School. I had been forewarned that he was "strange", but decided that I shouldn't judge his character based on sheer rumor. Suicide attempts, drug overdoses, strange obsessions with male teachers finally led me to the conclusion that the doubt definitely outweighed the benefit!
In the first 15 minutes of reconnecting with him, he sent me a Facebook "gift" with a little note that read, "I send you a yellow rose of friendship, because alas, you are betrothed to another". Yes, lovely, I admit, but considering the brevity of our High School relationship and the fact that we hadn't kept in touch for 30 years, it seemed rather odd. I learned that he had been married and had a child. He sent me a photo of his wife, that I suspect was not really his wife at all. He further told me that he was a sanguine Vampire, who only slept during daylight hours. For those unfamiliar, a "sanguine" Vampire derives energy from feeding on human or animal blood, as opposed to a "psychic" Vampire who feeds off human energy. This, I found this all quite befitting of what I already knew of his personality. "It's all good", I thought. Seriously! I'm a Witch. Who am I to judge!
In the weeks that followed however, his behavior began taking on a decidedly possessive turn. He became agitated by the fact that I wasn't commenting on every status update or spending my entire time online chatting with him. His frustration was obvious in the increasingly antagonistic comments made to my posts. Finally, when he sent me an email asking why we weren't chatting regularly, I explained that I really didn't spend a lot of time chatting with anyone. That's what "Status Updates" were for. He became irate, demanding to know why I "sought him out, only to ignore him". He suggested that if I weren't going to chat with him or anyone else, I should cancel my account. I "clarified', in retrospect, perhaps a little too harshly, that it wasn't I who "sought him out" and that it was unrealistic to assume that I would spend every moment I was logged on chatting solely with him. "Remove" and "Block". He later confided in a mutual friend that he had been in love with me since High School. Who knew!? I thought he was gay!
The second, was someone that I knew quite well in High School and beyond. I had ended the friendship several years ago when I realized that he was hypocritical, judgemental and if you disagreed with his perspective, at times, menacing. When a "friend request" arrived from him recently, I hesitated for a few days before accepting. In retrospect, waiting a few more weeks would have saved me the trouble of hitting the "block" option.
You see, this man had been courting a twisted, 30 year long obsession with his High School sweetheart. She and I had been best friends back in the day and it was I who had introduced them. They established a long term relationship that began the Summer before High School and that ended shortly after senior year with a broken engagement. And although it was his choice to break the engagement, he continued to blame her for it's ending and for his past 30 years of romantic failures.
Upon accepting his friend request, he shared with me that he wanted to make amends to those people that he'd hurt in the past. He also shared that he was seriously ill, a fact that he only wanted to a few people, myself included, to know. In the first 15 minutes, he mentioned his High School sweetheart three times. He made it abundantly clear however, that she was not one of those people he wanted to share the news of his illness. It was perfectly obvious however, that his reason for contacting me had absolutely nothing to do with making amends, but was intended to fish for information about her. A few days later, not only did I learn he'd contacted her, but was attempting to use his illness as a means of it rekindling their relationship.
She however, had recently remarried, so I knew he was going to be seriously disappointed. When he learned of her marriage, he began sending me rambling messages, referring to she and her new husband by vile names and accusing her ruining his life. Despite my repeated attempts to put things in a clearer perspective for him, the line between truth and fantasy continued to blur. He had absolutely no intention of closing the door on the past and any suggestion of him doing the same angered him. I didn't realize how fatal his attraction actually was until one of his messages described, in detail, his delusions of premeditated murder! I couldn't hit the "Remove" and "Block" functions fast enough, but not before warning him that I had copied his messages to her and that if he contacted either of us again, I would forward them to the authorities in his current State of residence.
My experience with Internet communication has led me to to conclude that one can tell, usually within the first 15 minutes, whether the person with whom you are chatting is crazier than a bag of rats. A diagnosis not found in any text on Abnormal Psychology, but accurate, to say the very least. Of course, I admit, I have also encountered a few exceptions my self imposed "15 minute" theory.
I recently decided that if I have to think twice before "friending" someone on Facebook, that's one time too many.
My status has been updated thus far to read, "Tracy's Facebook Page is now a "Psychopath Free Zone". Of course, there are always exceptions!
In Darkness, Light!
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Merry Meet Family and Friends!
So, few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of participating in a workshop called Protection and Security Magick with Author, Jason Miller. The workshop was based on his first book, "Protection and Reversal Magick".
I had read "Protection and Reversal Magick" when it was first released and I loved it! It wasn't until I reread it in preparation for his workshop that I realized how much this book has influenced me and the way I practice.
I realized that a lot of the subject matter was second nature to me and that it was a wonderful way of validating the way I've been practicing. As far as the topic of the book itself, "Protection and Reversal Magick" is concerned, I remember a time, back in the day, when I didn't feel even remotely vulnerable to magickal attack. I was a novice, practicing as a solitary, and believed that all Witches adhered to the "Threefold Law". For those unfamiliar, the "Threefold Law" states that anything you do, for good or ill, will return to you times three. The "Threefold Law" however, was created to raise the comfort level of the general population and help those with the fear based, "all Witches are Evil" mentality, to sleep better at night.
It wasn't until I began mingling within the Pagan community that I was confronted by "the darker side". No, I'm not referring to "Black Magick". I'm talking about simple human nature. Just your average, run of the mill, egos and eccentricities. I would say that all Witches/Pagans were above such things, but then I'd be lying.
As most of us know, Magick is essentially an emotionally driven practice. Therein lies both the blessing and the curse, so to speak. Think about it. At the heart of every desire is some very powerful emotion. Those emotions however, can also be a source of magickal attack. Jealousy, greed, love, hate, especially when combined with emotional immaturity or psychological instability, are powerful enough on their own to impact negatively on the target of those emotions. And as we are all aware, those emotions are not exclusive to the Pagan population. Anyone can perform magick and many unintentionally do. Unintentional, perhaps, but make no mistake, not ineffective.
I have found that my most serious magickal misfortunes weren't the result of pissed off Witches, but of my own missteps. One of my harshest lessons came the first time I worked with Hekate. Despite having no experience or personal connection to her, I asked, or rather demanded, a monumental favor, without offering anything in return. Thankfully, she took my blatant inexperience into consideration and the effects while unpleasant, were short lived. This is where a little intuition and dare I say, common sense would have been quite useful. Magick requires both.
I must confess, I've also occasionally found it quite easy to become complacent. No one wants to believe that there are people or entities lurking in the shadows waiting to launch a psychic attack. However, believing one has been cursed can be as effective as a curse itself. Jason Miller referred to this as being similar to the "placebo" effect. One need only believe that they are cursed to develop all the signs and symptoms of the same. Dorothy Morrison, in her book "Utterly Wicked", suggests that believing that one is being psychically attacked, can cause the perceived "attack" to take on a life of it's own.
Still, as the saying goes, "just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean people aren't out to get you". Even if you believe you're the most popular Pagan on the Earth, there may come a time when you irritate someone or something by just being you. On those occasions, your best line of defense is a good offense. Personally, I take nothing for granted, nor do I overly concern myself with the possibility of magickal attack. I've learned from experience, at times, the hard way, that shielding properly, honoring one's Deities, as well as knowing and honoring the entities we work with is the best way to avoid psychic misfortune. The manner in which I honor these beings, I leave solely up to my own intuition.
Despite what some might like to believe, it goes without saying that there are serious implications to practicing magick. By it's very nature, you are drawing attention to yourself on both an astral and physical level. Dependent upon who's taking notice, not all will have your best interests at heart. However, if what you call magick consists mainly of something that you read in a book, you are no more practicing magick than if I'd read a book on automotives and then decided to rebuild a carburetor. Yeah, you might be able to find all the parts, but unless you really know enough, all your doing is getting your hands dirty or at worse, the car might blow up. Getting your hands dirty magickally is not necessarily a bad thing. Having things blow up? Not always the best case scenario.
Practicing the esoteric arts without having a good defensive strategy is a lot like running with an Athame. It's just an accident waiting to happen!
In Darkness, Light!
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
"I'm late, I'm late.....I'm late, I'm late, I'm late!"
Ok, so yesterday I had one of those mornings that, no matter how much good intention went into the planning of my day, the Universe had better things in mind!
Technically, I'm supposed to be at my desk at 9 a.m., so at five minutes before, when I still hadn't dressed, I had to face the reality of the situation...I was going to be shamefully and tragically late!
The day held all the promise of being a spectacular one. Bright sun, warm breezes. I found myself envisioning sitting on my deck with a good book, blissfully communing with the Elements! The thought of being confined to my desk all day was truly blasphemous!
I begrudgingly made my way through my morning ritual, pausing occasionally to listen to the birds singing outside my window...my best intentions thwarted by singing birdies! They are such a terrible influence on me, you know!
Since there was nothing I could do change my obvious state of tardiness, I did the next best thing. I called my office, told them I wouldn't be in for the next half hour and proceeded to walk the mile and a half to work! I was already late, after all!!
As I popped on my IPod and headed out the door, it occurred to me that being "time challenged" may not be such a bad thing. I set out thinking that I would enjoy every moment of my glorious walk in the sun!
A few minutes into my journey, I noticed a woman coming towards me on the same side of the street. I recognized her as a neighbor who visited us often when her children need to sell cookies or gift wrap for the school or church. She usually waves a cheerful greeting as she passes by on her morning walk.
As she approached, I took off my headphones, thinking that I would wish her a "Good Morning". Apparently this was not to be the case. She glanced in my direction, put her head down as if we were strangers and kept walking. Perhaps she didn't recognize me?", I thought. This seemed highly unlikely since we've spoken often enough. It indeed seemed very odd! Could it be that she'd heard "rumors" around the Village about my being, :::gasp::: a Witch! Those Witches! You never know where they'll turn up! I guess I'll have to watch for a future decrease in cookie sales!
As I came up upon one of our busier intersections, I watched as the cars whizzed by without even thinking of stopping. We have a State law here in New Jersey that a driver must stop for a pedestrian in the crosswalk. It seemed unlikely that this would occur before the end of time and my mind wandered back to the encounter with my "neighbor". "So perplexing!", I thought.
It was then I noticed that a handsome man in a silver Lexus SUV had stopped to allow me cross. Unfortunately, the driver's coming from the opposite direction had no intention of doing the same. I watched as they sped by, chatting on their cell phones, completely dismissing the fact that the other driver had stopped for me. I was suddenly startled by the blaring of the SUV's horn! As I turned in the direction of the sound, I realized that the gentleman, my Knight in Shining SUV, was giving the other inconsiderate drivers a none too subtle warning! He had turned the front of his own car into the oncoming lane of traffic, forcing them to stop and allow me to cross!
One of the reasons that I'd been so late on this particular morning was that I'd spent extra time performing my devotional to Hekate. I asked that she reveal to me those mysteries which would provide me with greater wisdom and understanding.
This morning the mysteries of the light and dark side of human nature were revealed. A neighbor became a stranger...a stranger, a Prince!
In Darkness, Light!
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Sunday, May 2, 2010
This weekend marked a growth spurt, of sorts, for me. Firstly, Friday, April 30th, was my birthday. As I mentioned earlier, I celebrated in a most unusual way. Instead of the traditional cakes and candles, I began my training to become certified as an "End of Life" Doula.
A "Doula" is typically someone who provides emotional support to laboring mothers. An "End of Life" Doula is someone who assists in the emotional and spiritual transition of someone who is approaching the end of their physical life. In essence, I celebrated the beginning of my life learning how to assist the dying in the last moments of theirs.
This wasn't the only milestone I'd reached however. This Sunday morning past, I took my first solo trip to New York City. I know there are people for whom this is a natural occurrence. They travel there for business or pleasure. For them, hopping on a train or bus is merely part of their daily routine. For me however, this was a major accomplishment in my quest towards independence!
On occasions when I do go into the City, I'm usually traveling with my husband, who is more willing to brave the traffic. This Sunday however, he needed to work and I needed to be at my workshop, so I was on my own. I have to say, it was both exhilarating and nerve-wracking all at the same time. With each leg of my journey however, from catching train here at home, to transferring trains at the next stop and finally arriving at New York Penn Station, I felt more empowered!
The course itself however, proved to be much more emotionally challenging than I'd anticipated. We were asked to share the memories of our most significant losses, describing in depth the feelings associated with them. I found myself reliving my sister's death in vivid detail, weeping openly as I shared much of the grief that I believed had long since passed. I soon realized that there were still some wounds that were not well healed.
We were then asked to enter a meditative state and imagine how we would feel if we had just learned that we were facing death. Who would we want to share the news with. What would we want to do before we died? What plans did we want carried out? Were we frightened by the thought of dying? As you might imagine, there was nothing at all fun about this exercise!
I learned that I wasn't afraid of dying. I was more concerned with leaving! Would Ray be able to raise my children alone? How would my death effect them? What about my animals! "Fuck this!", I thought. I'm just not going!" I was then struck with a profound sadness that left me exhausted and feeling that perhaps this might not be right for me. Although I certainly have had enough experience with death and dying, this brought it to a whole new level of personal intensity.
Then we talked about what it meant to be an "exquisite witness". To be truly present in the moment of death. It's not simply being there as a life slips away, but a personal ritual celebrating all the cherished moments that this person lived. It's about helping the patient and family create a "vigil plan" to be carried out in the last moments of life and to bring peaceful closure. It's both exquisitely beautiful, yet heart-wrenchingly sorrowful. Hence the name.
The instructor explained that the "End of Life" Doula program is only a pilot program and not offered everywhere. It is a complimentary service provided by select hospice programs in New York and New Jersey. The course was not inexpensive and I was disappointed that I might be training for something I wouldn't have the opportunity to practice. Then he went on to mention that the hospital that he works for in New Jersey offered a Doula Program.
At that point I raised my hand and asked, "do you mind if I ask what hospital you work for in New Jersey?" He responded, "I work for Valley Health Systems" "Valley Hospital? In Ridgewood, New Jersey? Where I live!" Ahhh, ya just gotta love the synchronicity of life!
A friend of mine wrote me yesterday with these words of encouragement...
"It is a awe-inspiring gift to work as what I call, a "Shadow Walker." However, it comes with it's own balance, sense of timing and does not surprise, since you are the Dark mother's child, you are called to it".
And, while I questioned whether I have the strength to be present when a life ends, it is this strength, this courage born of healing from my own personal experiences that has brought me to this place. I have no doubt it will serve me well. So, when I am called to be a "witness" to this soul's new beginning, I will be honored.
In Darkness, Light!
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Ok, so I have a confession to make.
I'm imagining at least one of you breaking a sweat!
Breathe...it's not that kind of confession!
I am prone to bouts of...VANITY!!! There I've said it!!
Ahhh...I feel so much better. I bet you're wondering, "Tracy, what the hell are you talking about?" And I'm going to tell you!
Recently, I had a long overdue appointment with my eye doctor. I finally realized when I actually couldn't see, that it might be time to make an appointment.
At my recent visit with my opthamologist, she asked me if I was having any problems, to which I immediately responded, "other than the fact that I can't see?" Then I casually mentioned the maddening loss of eyelashes I'd been experiencing. Now, we're not talking one or two eyelashes. We're talking enough lashes to leave a quarter inch bald patch on my lash line. I know...I know! Who actually notices, right? Probably no one unless I specifically point it out, but I found it really annoying and especially so when I tried to put on mascara. The opthamologist asked if I had ever been diagnosed with an infection of my eyelids or if I suffered from allergies to make-up? I hadn't experienced either. Then she asked, "Have you considered Latisse?"
Latisse, as some of you may know, is a prescription medication that is specifically for people who have inadequate eyelash growth. The medication has been used for about the last 20 years for the treatment of glaucoma. One of the side effects of the drug however, has been that it causes eyelashes to remain in the growth phase, resulting in really, long friggin' lashes!
"Sure", I told her. I'd seen Brooke Shield's pimping the product on TV, but wasn't it rather expensive? My opthamologist said that the other patients loved it, that it had been marketed long enough so that it's safety was well documented and suggested I give it a try.
I could feel a bout of vanity coming on!
Ok, so I've been using the Latisse for a little over two months. They say that full results are seen after 16 weeks? 16 weeks? That may present a problem.
At this point my lashes, without mascara, are becoming unusually...dare I say, freakily long. With mascara, well...judge for yourselves!
My husband thinks I'm beginning to look like a Llama!
I Love Llamas!!!
Coming next.....Confessions of a Make-up Slut!
In Darkness, Light!