Monday, August 29, 2011

Farewell, Irene!

Merry Meet Family and Friends!

Unless you live on another planet or in another country, you know that the United States east coast was hit by Hurricane Irene. It was a Category II hurricane that made land fall in North Carolina before making its way up the coast. By the time it hit us here in New Jersey, it was a Category I.

What one must realize is that we are not accustomed to our storms being large enough to be categorized. We get thunderstorms or an occasional tropical storm, which I personally find exhilarating, but nothing like this. The last hurricane I can remember was Hurricane Floyd in 1999, which seemed to pale by comparison.

I must confess, I was a little nervous, but felt certain we were well prepared. I had enough candles to light up the entire Village of Ridgewood on a good day, bottled water, flashlights, batteries, pet food, charged cell phones, ice filled coolers. I sat down with a nice glass of wine and waited for Lady Irene to make her entrance.

It began as gentle rain just before I went to bed and I considered the possibility that the media had probably hyped up the storm like they do every other “weather event”. I woke at about 1:30 a.m. to sound of driving rain and winds that were so strong I felt certain that our windows would implode.  And then we lost power. Now, I was no longer a little nervous…I was scared shitless! We all stayed awake until dawn.

As the sky began to lighten, making the situation feel a lot less ominous, my main concern was whether I’d be able to find the manual can opener so that we could feed the dogs and my French press, so that I wouldn’t die and/or become homicidal without my morning coffee. I manage to do both and neither with little effort.

I looked out the window, happy to see that there didn’t appear to be any more damage than one would find with your typical “bad” Jersey storm. There were a few tree branches in the yard, but nothing significant. The patio furniture and the potted plants on our deck were all relatively undisturbed. My rose bushes, that had been ferociously whipped around by the wind the night before, were perfectly secured to their trellises, and had beautiful buds just beginning to bloom. “Pfffttt, Hurricane Irene”, I thought to myself. I knew it was all “hype”.   Still, it was very windy and raining pretty hard, but I wasn’t worried. The worst seemed to be over and the meteorologists were reporting that by mid afternoon, the skies would clear and it would be a beautiful day!

I was peacefully sipping my coffee and thinking to myself that all we needed now was the power to go back on and Hurricane Irene would be a distant memory, when I glanced out our patio doors to see the backyard rapidly filling up with murky brown water! I screamed on the top of my lungs for my sleeping husband, as if he would be able to do something to stop it and watched as muddy water rose around our newly built shed and began swallowing most of our lawn! I was struck with an overwhelming sense of panic, but not for fear that our house would become flood ravaged.

You see, we have a fairly large, well established Koi pond in our yard. I’ve been caring for these fish for the past six or more years. These aren’t your common goldfish, but imported Japanese Koi, some of whom hatched in the pond and have grown to about a foot in length. And while I can’t say I feel the same way about them that I do my other pets, they are living beings and have brought both great joy and aggravation to my life….just like my kids!

That being said, over the years, I have had a recurrent nightmare of watching flood waters overtaking  the yard, flowing over the top of the Koi pond and seeing all the fish swim out into the muddy water, gasping for breath before dying on the grass. Oh.My.God! It’s awful!!!

I was in tears as I watched the water nearing my pond and realized that my nightmares were about to become a reality!

My mind was racing….there had to be something I could do, but what? I didn’t have anything large enough to hold all 22 fish and even if I did, how would I catch them all?!

Seeing how distraught I was, the kids did their best to comfort me, “get over it, Mom! They’re friggin’ fish!”

Still, I haven’t been practicing Witchcraft this long to back down from a challenge! And I certainly wasn’t going to stand by and just allow this to happen! There’s only “nothing” you can do, if you choose to do nothing!”

I ran out into the deluge and screamed on the top of my lungs, “Cut me a fucking break!!!”, which did absolutely nothing.

I ran back into the house and advised my husband that we needed to begin sandbagging the pond with the extra bags of mulch we had bought. He patiently explained that a few bags of mulch were not going to hold back that much water and that I needed to just “calm down”. Oh yeah, like that was really going to happen! I felt ill! And yes, I know they’re only fish…but they’re my fucking fish!!!

Then things got really weird…

I had recently downloaded a Ghost Hunting app on my IPod that comes with an EVP player. An EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) device monitors voice transmissions from the other side. I had been listening to mine just before the flood hit and had forgotten to turn it off.  As I finally began to resign myself to the fact that my backyard was going to end up being the World’s largest Koi pond, I heard my EVP player say the word, “offering” and suddenly, I knew exactly what I needed to do!

I grabbed a bottle of Jamison Whiskey out of the liquor cabinet and ran down the steps to the backyard. The water was about 4 feet deep in most of the yard and had reached the bottom step of our deck, a mere foot or so from the pond. I poured three shots of Jamison into the muddy water.

I ran back in from the pouring rain, completely drenched and passed by my husband while holding a bottle of whiskey. My husband asked, “what the hell are you doing?” Without answering, I ran to the medicine cabinet and grabbed one of the lancets that my father in law had used to test his blood sugar and ran back outside. I’m certain my husband thought that surely I’d gone mad, but if he hasn’t figured that out after 25 years, whose fault is it?

I pierced my finger and watched as three tiny drops of my blood mingled with the rushing murky water.

Then, I held my breath and waited.

We did sustain some significant damage, although have been truly blessed in comparison to what others have lost. The flood waters stopped three inches from the pond and have since receded. The fishies are just fine!

In Darkness, Light!



My fishes are in there!!!!

Friday, August 19, 2011


Merry Meet Family and Friends!

So, a few days ago I went in for my annual mental health check. Yes, in addition to one's typical yearly visits to the gynecologist, the internist, the dentist and the, ophthalmologist I in fact, go for an annual chat with my psychiatrist. Just to, ya know, make certain that my level of insanity has been unchanged since the previous year.

Now, most people would be reluctant to admit they see a psychiatrist, but I view this as an investment in my mental health. Now I can imagine what some might be thinking, "mmmmmhmmm, she thinks she's a Witch, she sees a psychiatrist, yeah, she's crazier than a bag of rats!”

“You may be right, I may be crazy, but I just may be the lunatic you’re looking for.” ~ Billy Joel.

There had been some decidedly stressful life events that made seeking out a professional’s help absolutely crucial. As some of you know, I experienced the loss of my entire immediate family, my sister, mother and father, all within 15 months, followed by the adoption of my sister's child after she'd passed away. I had been in the process of working a full-time job and raising my own 5 year old daughter, when my sister's son, my nephew, who was a mere three months younger than my own child, came into our lives. This resulted in the parenting of functional twins while attempting to deal with seemingly insurmountable levels of grief. I began having panic attacks. Who wouldn’t?

If you don't think this sort of thing is enough to prompt a visit to a therapist, give it a try. However, I must warn you, it may stretch your perception of sanity to the brink of its endurance. Gratefully, I haven’t had a panic attack in quite some time, but my therapist likes to check on me every now and again to make sure I’m still a Witch. I think he’d be quite disappointed if he were to learn that I turned in my broom!

All this being said, indulge me a moment while I share a brief description of my psychiatrist...tall, dark and handsome with full pouty lips and a Russian accent. He’s a case for what Sigmund Freud described as “transference” waiting to happen, but I digress.

When I arrived at my appointment, he came out to retrieve me from the waiting room, promptly greeting me with, "how's our favorite Witch" and then, "I think about you at every Solstice!” mmmmmhmmmm…

You see, as with many people who were convinced that they knew me well enough not to expect any Earth-shattering revelations, I sort of blind-sided him during one of our sessions by revealing I was Wiccan. Since then, he’s been completely fascinated!

After a brief assessment to insure that my sanity was status quo, he began asking me about Wicca. He pondered whether a Wiccan and a Witch are one in the same and if not, what the differences were. When asked if I considered myself a Wiccan or a Witch, I replied both, which swiftly prompted him to begin scribbling in my chart. I shared that I’d been interviewed by the Philadelphia News about the whole Christine O’Donnell, “I’m not a Witch” fiasco which led to a discussion of the reasons why Wiccans/Witches were so annoyed by Ms, O’Donnell’s comments. I explained our ongoing struggle to try to differentiate ourselves and our practices from that of Satanism. He impressed me by pointing out that Satan was a Christian construct and very different from that of Wicca. Wicca, from what he knew of it, was a very peaceful, harmonious practice that focused on reverence for the Earth, celebrated the Solstices and followed the cycles of the Seasons and the Moon. I kind of knew already this, but I listened politely as he professionally explained the finer points of Wicca. I was still mentally imagining him at a Beltane festival.

Then he asked, “How do you spell this…Wicca?” as he typed it into his Blackberry. I was both bemused and enchanted as he began reading from Gavin and Yvonne Frost’s “Church and School of Wicca” website. “So why do you think it is that this Wicca is so often confused with Satanism?” he asked. I explained that it had a lot to do with media sensationalism. I then mentioned that, having personally known a few Satanists in my time, not even they actually worshipped Satan. Again with the scribbling?

He then asked a couple of questions that I wasn’t entirely comfortable answering. “Where and how often do you meet as a group and how many people are in your Coven?” Without trying to appear too elusive, I offered simply that we celebrated each Full Moon and that a Coven, in the traditional sense, consisted of thirteen members. He asked if there was some secret way to know another Witch when we met. I told him yes there was, but fell short of adding “but if I told you I’d have to kill you” and instead opted for the more sane, but slightly less truthful answer, “by their pentacle, of course!”

So, fifty-five minutes later I was pronounced sane for another year. On the way out, I mentioned that I was off to finish some masonry work that we were doing on our sunroom. He said, “Well, you are a woman of multiple talents!”

“As long as it’s not multiple personalities…it’s all good!” I replied. 

In Darkness, Light!


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Mysteries of the Mind...

Merry Meet Family and Friends!

So, yesterday I had a decidedly strange, frightening and yet, rewarding experience.

I had received an email a few weeks ago from a counselor at psychiatric facility in our area asking if I would be willing to provide Reiki to one of their patients. The patient, who is on medical disability, had limited resources and couldn't afford the customary fees for Reiki.

Now, I know that there's a line of reasoning about Reiki that suggests that there should be an energy exchange, usually in the form of monetary payment, for services rendered. However, I have always had a real problem charging for healing work and will always offer Reiki, free of charge, to those who are unable to afford the same. I know this may not be consistent with the practice of Reiki, but seriously folks, charging patients who are financially struggling for healing, especially given that I have absolutely no overhead, would be something that would keep me awake at night.

Speaking of things that keep me awake at night, this is where things begin to get a little...strange.

The night before I was to meet my patient, I felt an unease that I couldn't quite put my finger on. Yes, he is a permanent resident in a psychiatric facility and has a history of visual and auditory hallucinations, but that really wasn't a concern. I've interacted with psychiatric patients in the past, I was assured that he was nonviolent and that there would someone present during our session. I actually found the prospect of working with this client...fascinating. Yet, I found myself playing this encounter over in my mind, as I tossed and turned, unable to sleep.

Just as I began to dose off, a disturbing image popped into my mind...

Ok, it wasn't Pope Benedict that haunted my dreams, but seriously who can deny this is the face of evil.  What's even scarier, this guy is a major "Spiritual Leader?"  ::::shudder::::

No, the image was that of someone younger, with dark hair...but the eyes, the eyes were the same.  Almond-shaped, heavy lidded and demonic.

I was startled from my peaceful slumber by a totally unexpected "Holy Crap!" moment!  Pun obviously intended.  The image lingered with me for several minutes as I lay there trying to determine what, if anything, might have prompted it. Nothing obvious came to mind.  Still, I have been dealing with some stressful life decisions and so I chaulked it up to anxiety or just one of those weird things that happens as we're drifting off.  Yes, that must be it.  By the next morning, the incident was completely forgotten.

My patient, David, was a young man who has been schizophrenic since the age of 5.  He was very pleasant in a socially awkward kind of way. Upon our meeting, I asked him how he'd been feeling, what was troubling him and how I might be able to help. He explained that he was diagnosed with a schizophrenic disorder, that he was a very spiritual person who enjoyed meditation, yoga and who was interested in Witchcraft.  He went on to explain that he was experiencing hallucinations in which he saw the "ghost" of his father.  His father is still living, but they have had a very bad relationship. He reported hearing things and being unable to sleep because he felt that things were "poking" him.  I asked if he'd been actually practicing any Witchcraft and he told me he had been doing candle spells and some healing work on people.

Ok, so the man obviously has a significant psychiatric disorder, but that doesn't mean that he hasn't peaked the interest of some spiritual entities that may be taking advantage of his weakened mental state.  It is said that when you begin practicing Witchcraft, you gain the attention of those entities that are drawn to its energy.  I told David that "psychic attacks" while possible, are exceedingly rare.  I suggested he discuss these issues with his physicians to see if perhaps he was experiencing the unpleasant side effects of one of his medications. I further explained that he needed to learn to shield himself properly if he was going to continue to practice any type of Witchcraft.

Although, some practitioners prefer quiet, I enjoy having soft meditation music playing during my Reiki sessions. I find it prepares both myself and my patient for the experience.For me, it's kind of like the scent of incense when I first enter ritual space. Even before the Circle has been cast, I'm already there.

When I was ready to begin David's Reiki session, I asked him to lie down and make himself comfortable. I had my back to him as I fiddled with the volume on my IPod. When I turned toward him, I noticed that his eyes, which were piercing blue and almond shaped, were now completely rolled back in his head!  Suddenly, the image from my dream the night before came flooding back. My breath caught in my throat and I could feel another "Holy Crap" moment coming on! His eyes remained fixed in this position for the entire hour I was with him, even after he'd fallen asleep. I gotta tell ya, it was friggin' creepy!

When our session ended, he seemed much more calm and happier than when I'd arrived. This was more than enough of an "energy exchange" for me.  We chatted a little as I told him the areas that I'd focused on and shared that, in addition to the Reiki symbols I had used, that I'd also surrounded him with some banishing pentagrams, just in case he did have some uninvited guests hanging around.

Afterwards, David left the room and I spoke to his counselor about the possibility of bringing him some Cascaria.  Cascaria is a white chaulk made from powdered egg shells.  It is used in some practices such as Santeria and Voodoo to aid in protection. I was taught that it can be applied to the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet and the top of the head to ward off unwanted energies..

While I truly believe that David's problem is more psychological, than spiritual, I thought that perhaps this might act as a placebo, should he continue to be convinced that he was under some form of psychic attack.  His counselor agreed and thought this was a wonderful idea. 

David ran up to me as I was leaving and asked if I had a pentacle that he might buy from me.  I told him that I believed I did, but that it would be a gift.  He was very pleased!

When I arrived back home, I asked my husband to come out to the deck and to bring some white sage. Given my strange dream and even stranger encounter with David when we'd met, I felt that perhaps some extra precaution might be in order.  I truly felt that it would be best not to enter our home until I had thoroughly smudged myself.   Once inside, I proceeded to wash my hands with soap and consecrated water.  I believe it's always better to err on the side of caution and you know what they say......

In Darkness, Light!!!