The Sight of Clouds

There is some indescribable place inside me that is emotionally stirred by the sight of clouds on a not-quite-rainy evening.

The dark swirling into the light. The foggy grays that shine like rainbow moonstone with the setting sun behind them. A peek of light at the horizon beneath the blanket of storm. Heavy, lowering, but not menacing.

It is almost a Northern sky, but not yet intense enough.

I once spent an entire three-week vacation in the wilds of Scotland photographing the Northern skies. Trying to capture the unattainable essence of light and color and shadow. Yet… the photos, beautiful as they are, do not stir in me the feelings I felt while under those Northern skies.

The feeling that water was near, that sunshine was slanted, that color was redefined. The knowing that there was a language I didn’t speak in those clouds. An understanding that light was something new I had never encountered, but could feel in my bones. I could imagine a painter trying to capture life in that light. Trying, but never succeeding.

Perhaps those Northern skies stir a bone-deep memory in me from a time when my ancestors would have been in communication with the sky as they were with the land. Reading the messages in nature. Knowing the language of time.

Were they perhaps enthralled by the sight of clouds, as I am?



In 2004 I was tasked with delivering a very big project at work. Very big. At the time, I reported to a leader who did not know how to deliver, but knew how to maintain. There is a huge difference in the way one must lead to maintain applications from the way one must lead to deliver new applications. I was new in my position, having just been promoted to lead folks I had been working with prior to the BIG PROJECT. Then the folks who could have helped me deliver that big project were moved off my team and off the project. I was left with a development team that was woefully understaffed, no test team to speak of (two people who also provided production support do not a test team make), and a project manager and development manager who both worked very hard to sabotage my efforts at every step. As I mentioned, this was a big project with a lot of visibility and demanding customers who were looking for the impossible on an unrealistic timeline.

I’d like to say I overcame all obstacles and succeeded anyway, but that did not happen. The due date came and went with only a tiny fraction of what was requested completed. Even after being called to the CIO’s office and asked which delivery date I would bet my job on, both of which were impossible to meet with the tools and resources at my disposal, I would like to say I was smart enough to say neither date could be met, but I didn’t. I chose the later date that I knew when I said it would never happen.

At the time, I had worked for the company for nearly 10 years. Until the Big Project, I had really enjoyed my career and found the work I did exciting and fulfilling, even with the stress, weekends, and long hours that IT work required. Even when things were at their worst and the CIO had sent his minions in to ‘ensure’ we were working hard enough by sitting in the cubicles of the poor contractors that were eventually brought in to help us deliver asking them if they were done yet, and I was in the office (in another city and away from home) for 18 to 20 hours a day, crying on the way to work in the morning, and crying in the bathroom at work with the frustration of it all, I didn’t want to quit. I wanted to succeed. I was so caught up in it all.

And then I wasn’t.

They removed my boss (who couldn’t lead delivery out of a paper bag), and the project manager (who was only capable of doing what our boss told her to do), and me. I was replaced by the good guy they had taken away from the project in the beginning and he was able to negotiate a delivery schedule that would get the project on the right path, delivered in piece parts, and with a much diminished functionality than the customers were asking for. But it was the right way to do it and the right thing to do.

For me, I learned about the sabotage by my development manager who eventually left the team and went to work in another organization, and watched as my boss had her responsibilities stripped away and given to other Directors. After a couple of years, she was forced to retire. I stayed in the same organization, and for a time, didn’t have anything to do. I would go into my executive director’s office and say, “Please give me something to do. I don’t know how to not work like this.” His response was, “Take a break, you deserve it. You’ve worked hard for a long time and you didn’t deserve this to happen.” He was the one who told me about the sabotage and also told me he was not going to fire me.

Within a short period of time, I was approached to start up another team to help us write requirements for delivery projects. I was grateful for the opportunity and grateful to do something new, but still get to work with a lot of the people I knew and cared for.

So how did this failure change my life?

Well, it was the first time in my long career in IT that I wasn’t working 12 or more hours a day but barely in the office for 8 hours. I had a lot of time to think and process what had happened. It was the first time I looked outside work for fulfillment. That changed everything for me. I began spending more time at home, finishing the remodeling that my partner and I had started on my house while I was away traveling so much with the big project.

It was the first time I realized the company was not going to fulfill me. The company was not going to take care of me. The company didn’t value me. I had to do that for myself.

I had time to begin looking for community for my spirituality. I had been a Witch for many years but had little time to practice in a big way. I began taking classes and attending public rituals. I began looking for a Coven. This led me down a path and on a journey that I am still traveling. This is where my joy is found.

But that is another story.

Without that failure, I would not have had the time or inclination to want to practice my chosen path in my daily life. I would not have begun searching for community and would not have found the Coven I would eventually Initiate into or become the High Priestess I am today. Without that failure, I would not have found this joy that I live each day.

I am so very grateful for that massive failure and for all the work I’ve done since then on my own personal growth as a human being and not as a cog in a wheel.

As the famous poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost says,

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Just as I’ve started an exercise and nutrition routine that I had long promised myself I would do once I retired, I am also making more time for Divination which I love to do. Divination helps open me to the Sacred and brings me back to the Goddess when I let the mundane take me from the Otherworld for too long.

I found this wonderful mid-year evaluation spread on a blog I follow, Quill of the Goddess.


I used the Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert, my go-to deck it seems, for the past many months.

I changed the questions just a tiny bit for me and this is what I pulled:

1 – What has helped me grow since Winter Solstice?

  • Elder of Fire – The elder doesn’t sit back and accept things as they are but transforms them using all the magical tools at her disposal; charms, spells, and incantations as well as pen and paper, paintbrush and canvas, or spoon and cookpot.
  • Affirmation: I am at home in all the worlds of power and transformation.
  • Meaning in my life – My spiritual path is changing and growing and the last 6 months have resulted in building the foundation for something new. I didn’t sit back and accept. I am transforming my path using all the tools at my disposal in this world and the Otherworld.

2 – What is my strongest attribute right now?

  • 0 The Seeker – The Fool. New Beginnings. Starting a new journey with a new perspective. Time to hit the road and be open. Dare to risk, there are endless possibilities. Are you longing but afraid? Do you fear you have too much to lose? Are you being wise or letting fear stop you?
  • Affirmation: I make my life a walking prayer and cultivate wonder.
  • Meaning in my life – This was wonderful validation at this time when I am beginning something new and a reminder to be open, to look at all possibilities, and to dare. To be a Witch is to dare. I am at the point where I Dare. I Dare to risk what I have known for something new and exciting.

3 – What needs support for the rest of the year?

  • Ten of Earth – Pass your wisdom along to the next generation. Something you thought had ended is bursting with new life. How does your work support others? Don’t be trapped by the work. Drop the demands and expectations and be blessed to see your hard work pay off.
  • Affirmation: I know that my life’s work will benefit coming generations.
  • Meaning in my life – This is more validation that the direction I am going is where my path lies. I need only stay the course and put in the work to see that work pay off. This new direction will be my legacy as I have wanted and dreamed. I will continue on this path.

Spring Lament

My jasmine-scented backyard draws me to sit and rest like nothing else can.

It is evening – when the aromas are most powerful, and I am sitting in the gathering gloaming.

I can smell honeysuckle and the long blooms on my oak-leaf hydrangea that has grown taller than me this year.

I’m watching the shadows deepen as I bathe in Nature’s perfume.

The late Spring/early Summer evening is heavy with love.

I am glad to see the first fireflies in the deepening gloom.

Their love-dance of momentary brilliance seems fraught with desperation but their flight is so Fae it makes me happy.

Even with the traffic sounds, it is serene in my backyard.

I am serene.

How can I so love a world that shows me such tender beauty that even the breeze holds Her breath,

Yet a hometown away, a dear loved-one struggles to live, just one more day?

I’ve performed my magic and chanted my chants and lifted her into the care of She-Who-Hears-Our-Suffering and She-Who-Heals.

She is there and I am here, and we are both under the same sickle-new-moon.

O’ Moon, send her my love and bear her to the other side on your gentle moonbeams.

May her passing, when it comes, be as serene as my soul in my backyard.

It is the best I could wish her for her journey.



For my sister-in-law, Debbie

May 2018

It Must Be Spring

It seems my blood runs in poetry each year during May. It is a pattern I’ve just now begun to realize. Perhaps it is my Moon in Taurus that drives me outside where nature’s beauty in my little piece-of-earth sets my soul to pondering when the sun moves into this Astrological Sign.

One of the benefits of a long life, (I’m just 63, but that is nearly ten years more than my mother lived) you begin to notice the connections in your life as it moves through the Wheel of the Year. The Wheel of the Year is a celebration of the cyclical changing of the seasons and rotation of the sun. The holy days are defined as Sabbats. The Sabbats are known to Wiccans and many Pagans as the following:

Sabbat Name

Common Name Astronomical Event

Calendar Date


Christmas Winter Solstice

December 21


Groundhog Day Cross Quarter Day

February 2


Easter Vernal Equinox

March 21


May Day Cross Quarter Day

May 1


Midsummer Summer Solstice

June 21


Lammas Cross Quarter Day

August 1


Harvest Home Autumnal Equinox

September 21


Halloween Cross Quarter Day

October 31

But, thinking about the patterns of my own life, perhaps I need to make my own Wheel of the Year.

My Wheel begins at Imbolc when I begin to ponder the ‘calling’ of the year. It is my birthday month so perhaps, as many of us do, we take stock during our annual solar return and begin to think what we need to begin work on so that we grow into the people we want to be. Imbolc could be my calling for the year time.

Ostara is when I finally get to plant my garden in seeds or little baby seedlings. I’ve dreamed and planned for it during the cold months but I finally get my fingers in the dirt. It is my planting time.

Beltane begins my poetry time perhaps because of the moon’s annual lunar return into Taurus, my moon sign.

Midsummer is a time I am battling to keep my growing things alive. The never-ending sun and heat of Texas withers much of my best-laid plans and my garden struggles to live. I will call this my battle time.

Lughnasadh is often when I travel to see family. It helps to escape the relentless heat of Dallas and gets me away from the frustration of being nearly house-bound to the air-conditioning. It could be my vacation time.

At the Autumn Equinox, I might take stock of the projects I’ve worked on during the summer. What have I harvested/completed? What still needs to be done? What might need to change? This could be my evaluation time.

By Samhain, I grow poetic again.  There is something about the golden sun low in the sky and the turning leaves that moves me deeply.  I look forward to the coming cold and the family time that the late harvest/early winter season brings. I could call this family and gratitude time.

At Yule, I get to go into myself. Before I retired, it was the one time of year I had a lot of time off so I could go ‘into-the-deep’ of myself without stress. I hope to continue this, just because it is the cold and dark time which invites introspection. I will call it my ‘going into the deep’ time.

My personal Wheel of the Year looks like this:

Faelind Event

Faelind Description

 Sabbat Name

Going-into-the-Deep Time

Facing shadows & learning from the dark


My ‘Calling-for-the-Year’ Time

I ‘receive’ my ‘calling’ for the year ahead


Planting Time

Getting my fingers in the dirt


Poetry Time

Nature beckons and fills my soul to overflowing


Battle Time

Struggling to keep my garden alive


Vacation Time

Visit family, ancestral homeland, & escape Texas heat


Evaluation Time

What have I accomplished? Should I change course?


Family and Gratitude Time

Gratitude for bounty and gratitude for family


What does your Wheel of the Year look like?

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