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I haven’t rambled on here for a long time!

If you don’t all know by now, I just love being a Witch, and I LOVE being a HIGH PRIESTESS even more!

I am often reminded that even in my mundane life, the Universe and Goddess bring me knowledge and messages that reinforce my work on this Wiccan path.

Last night I was driving home from attending Willow’s EXCELLENT Wicca 101 class on Essential Oils (she really is a wonderful resource for any health issue and using essential oils as an alternate remedy among all the other uses she knows), and I heard an interview on NPR with author Sebastian Junger who wrote “Tribe – On Homecoming and Belonging”. He was talking how people who go through traumatic experiences (like soldiers or people in war) don’t suffer from PTSD or the mental illness we see in the West when they return to close and highly supportive villages and communities where the people are open and diverse, but exhibit the type of support seen during times of crisis. He cited studies of the London Blitz where much of the city was razed by German bombers, but the people slept together in families and communities underground in the subways (known as the Tubes) for protection or the modern kibbutzes in Israel (which are collective farms or settlements) where families or groups of people rely on each other deeply in a troubled region.

I thought of our AmTrad tradition that we call Kith and Kin. We celebrate with each other at an annual “Clan Gathering”. Many of us had to go through a lot just to get here and yet, here is our Tribe, our Homecoming and where we belong. It is our safe haven.

And all this was after I received the following at work. I read this and realized it is exactly what I teach about ethics and magic. To be careful what you send out as that is what you will get back.

[From a wonderful firm called Vital Smarts:

https://www.crucialskills.com/2016/05/verbal-violence-creating-a-new-normal/]

Verbal Violence: Creating a New Normal
by Kerry Patterson

One day, while waiting at the airport for a flight home, I watched an older fellow tear into a gate agent for not putting him and his wife on the next plane (it had been overbooked). At first, the airline employee maintained her composure, but after being verbally attacked for what seemed like ten minutes, she began making threats of her own. Getting nowhere closer to home—but far closer to an infarction—the angry senior finally backed away. Seeing that I was watching him rather intently, he stepped toward me with a menacing look that suggested I’d be his next target.

And then I did something I didn’t plan on doing. It was if someone had run his or her arm up the back of my shirt and I was now a puppet, controlled by an unseen force. I looked the apoplectic guy in the eye and quietly said (I can’t believe I’m confessing this), “Sir, the way you just treated the gate agent was simply horrible.”

Both he and his wife were mortified by my remarks. I was mortified. But instead of turning his anger on me, as I thought he might, he turned to his wife who had been trying to drag him out of the fray for most of the interaction. Both looked ashamed as they slowly walked away. Although I’ll never know how my remarks affected him, it appeared as if I had held up a mirror and the reflection had cut him to the bone. My suspicions were confirmed by his wife’s comment as they walked away: “It’s true, dear. You are yelling at people a lot nowadays. You didn’t used to be like that. I don’t know what’s happened to you.”

I had no right to be so judgmental and intrusive but let’s set my faux pas aside and explore the process by which normal, decent, everyday people (as I’m sure this grandpa once was or mostly is) transform into forceful aggressors—or at least into people who occasionally do things they said they would never do. Beware, this transformation can happen slowly and without notice. Nobody applies for a membership into a curmudgeon club or takes a course in verbal violence. No one decides to become an attacking parent, insulting boss, or a senior citizen who verbally abuses gate agents. But somewhere between, “Please and thank you,” and “That’s just plain stupid!” we lose our path. As you might suspect, there are lots of ways we do so, but let me share my experience with a very common one as well as a few ideas for how to change.

Creating a New Normal

In the fall of 1973, while I was serving as a junior officer in the Coast Guard, a senior warrant officer (I’ll call him Burt) was assigned to a job that reported to me. He soon displayed all of the attributes of a forceful (and sometimes scary and abusive) debater within a team that was largely soft spoken and respectful. Scarcely a day passed without Burt getting into a heated argument. To quote one colleague: “Burt could turn a lullaby into a shouting match.”

One day, after I’d chatted with Burt for the umpteenth time about the evils of taking an aggressive, often hurtful style into what should be a calm discussion, he blew a gasket and slipped into full debate mode (ironic, no?). I maintained my cool for a minute or two until I eventually started firing back at him (even more ironic). The loud and fruitless argument ended poorly and Burt stomped off in a dither.

It took a few minutes for my adrenaline to dissipate but then I noticed something rather chilling. The members of my staff who had heard and seen the interaction were staring at me in disbelief—giving me the same shocked look the people at the airport had given the abusive senior citizen. Finally, one of my direct reports said, “Wow! Mr. Patterson, I never thought that you could explode like that.” It was a nice way of saying, “That was inexcusable—and please don’t ever do that to me.”

I thought about this interaction without much insight until a couple of days later when I ran into Burt as he was putting on his jacket to go home. Two things surprised me. One, Burt seemed completely unaffected by the fact that we had recently had a heated and relationship-damaging argument. He acted as if we were life-long chums. Two, he was sliding a lead pipe into his sleeve—the kind of lead pipe Colonel Mustard routinely uses to kill Miss Scarlet in the library.

Noticing me staring at his pipe, Burt explained, “It’s for fights. You need to be prepared.” He then suggested that “Betsy” (the pipe) had often saved his bacon. “What fights?” I wondered. And then it hit me. Burt was a walking time bomb. He was so spontaneously aggressive in most interactions that he caused heated debates, even fights, everywhere he went. His view, of course, was that the world was dangerous and he needed to carry a lead pipe in case a fight “broke out” somewhere.

Like Charles Shultz’ character Pigpen, who walks around causing the very cloud of dust that surrounds him (and that’s all he sees), Burt created his own cloud of forceful and violent debate. Violence was all he knew because it was all he saw. It was all he saw because wherever he went, it was what he brought out in others. Of course, since he constantly saw others acting violently, he thought everyone was violent most of the time and that made his aggressive style, if not okay, at least normal.

Burt confirmed my suspicions that he was creating a false “normal” one day when he asked, “Why are you singling me out for being too aggressive? Everyone I work with is verbally violent. Don’t you remember that time you yelled at me?”

“True,” I answered, “but you’re the only person I’ve been verbally violent with in my entire career.”

“Are you saying,” Burt asked, “that I’m causing others to become argumentative?”

“To find out,” I suggested, “watch for heated arguments at work that you aren’t part of, then report back to me.” A month later, Burt reported that he had seen no verbal battles—except for his own—which had been plentiful. And then it happened. Burt began seeing himself as a causal force in his violent world rather than merely an innocent bystander. Then I asked Burt to look for what he was doing that might be causing the friction. He came back with a list that he started working on immediately.

Burt didn’t totally transform during the time we worked together, but the changes he did make only came after he realized that he had followed a dangerous path to verbal violence. First, his aggressive style often brought out the worst in others making him an active participant in creating his own unhealthy environment. Second, he had come to see the harmful reactions he routinely created as normal, even acceptable. In short, Burt saw no need to change until he realized that the world before and after he entered the scene was far more peaceful than the one he created through his own aggressive actions.

So, if you’re struggling with how relationships or conversations are being handled in your life, one first step toward change can be taking a good look around and questioning your own “normal.” It can be intimidating to review our own part in the problems we’re experiencing, but trust me, it sure beats carrying around a lead pipe.

burning candle

Brighid is the Spark that Lights the Wick.
I am the Candle.
Light my Wick, O’ Precious Brighid
That I may serve as You.

Inspire in me a Well of Creativity that never runs dry
Inspire in me a Fire in the Head that never stops burning

O’ Good Brighid, Lady of Green, Lady of the Spring, Lady of the Wells
Forge me into an instrument of resound, a tool for transformation, a well of wisdom.

Make me a Light Shining into the Darkness
Building a path through the heart to the Other side.

O’ Goddess Brighid – I see You!

[Inspired by the wonderful “30 Days of Brigid: A Daily Sacred Pause of Creative Inspiration” by Joanna Powell Colbert]

Source: Real Witches See Possibility

white-carpathiansIt often happens that my Significant Other will attend family and friend gatherings without me when I am away celebrating a Sabbat with my community or when I am busy ministering to my Coven as High Priestess. This used to be a topic for heated arguments, but that is a story for another time. Now it is tolerated, if not accepted as, “The-Way-It-Is.” We plan around such times and share the news and happenings from the events afterward.

This year my Wiccan tradition’s Samhain Ritual and celebrations fell on Halloween itself so I was unable to be the Wicked Witch handing out the candy to all the Trick-or-Treaters as is our custom. My SO’s youngest son and wife DO HALLOWEEN BIG and win prizes for the most decorated and scary yard. There is always a ton of kids that visit and the older son brings his family and friends from across town for the occasion. It is a BIG Family affair and my three *gift* grandchildren look forward to everyone being there. So it hurts when I must miss it, but as High Priestess to a coven of students and Initiates that I expect to attend Sabbat events, I cannot miss because it is inconvenient for me.

(*I call them gift grandchildren because they ‘let’ me be their Grandma even though we are not family. They are wonderful gifts to me!*)

In the past, he would make excuses for my absence. (I would often respond to whoever had invited me/us, but he would still be asked when he arrived without me.) I don’t know what he would say.

This year, he surprised me when he told me that he just tells people the truth now. I asked him what the “Truth” was, and he said he told them that I was Wiccan and off attending a Sabbat with a bunch of Witches. He said he was amazed that so many people did not know what Wicca was and didn’t know there were real Witches. When they pressed him for more information, he said he told them that we celebrated the Seasons and a bunch of Gods and Goddesses and “stuff like that” and would finish with, “This is way more deep than I want to go!”

I suggested he could add that I am part of an Earth-based religion that sees the divine in all, worships many Gods and Goddesses, and celebrates the new and Full Moons each month and the 8 Seasonal changes of the Solstices, Equinoxes, and the Mid-way points in between them each year.

I’ve thought a lot about this conversation ever since with admiration and amazement. I realize that he walks this path with me, whether he wants to or not, just by being part of my life. The fact that he knew enough about my religion to know anything to tell them is wonderful and it is amazing that he is now comfortable enough with it and me that he is willing to talk about it.

This makes me so incredibly happy and full of gratitude. Once again, I am reminded that my life is full of riches.

One of them is my funny, strong, intelligent, kind, incredibly handsome, and wonderful-beyond-words SO who shares my life. He is definitely a story for another time.

Samhain 2015

 

801px-Dark_forestMaybe because it is a rainy day, and they can always draw me inside myself, or because it is now officially the ‘Dark Time’ of year, or perhaps it is the medical procedure I underwent earlier this week, but Samhain this year is less raucous, more quiet, and much more contemplative.

The day started at the butt-crack of dawn to attend an early ritual to grant a Third Degree to a New High Priestess within my beloved Tradition, American Tradition of the Goddess. There are many of us now, though as one of the newest High Priestesses, I hear stories of the days when we were few. Initiations always bring tears. Remembering one’s own; the beautiful and poetic liturgy that is read never cease to move me, no matter how many I experience. This one was moving in many ways.

It was my first Third Degree outdoors. The morning mist had barely cleared as we gathered in a damp grotto still wet from the heavy rains all night. With each morning breeze, the tall trees emptied their rain drops onto us in great blotchy drops of cold surprise. As we are naked for our rites of Initiation, our bodies soon grew accustomed to the chilly, damp air. We would suffer the heat afterward in our now-restrictive clothes once we were inside, back to our muggle selves.

As is often the case for Thirds, we end with a chalice of some luscious alcoholic drink, this time containing Celtic Honey and Pomegranate Juice. Surprisingly good, I might add. It will be just a taste since we have Samhain ritual tonight, and our tradition does not allow drinking prior to ritual, except in ritual if it is called for. Often Thirds are followed by a great break-the-fast feast with plenty of alcohol, garlic, and often meat, because the Initiate is craving those items. Today, the meat and garlic had to suffice for our feasting.

When I return home, I am held hostage by my beloved Significant Other and his exasperated political talk, but my heart and mind are within, dreaming of Faery and Divination begging to be visited. Later, I tell them. I will see you all Later. My SO is a Muggle who does not understand my commitment to Wicca and fondness for Witchcraft. He is often amused, and usually perplexed, but does not share my interests.

Though I have not mentioned anything to the Goddess or God yet, seekers are seeking me out. Three just today. I muse that it might be Samhain calling to people of a certain nature, but my inbox has been full of seekers this last two weeks. I feel certain that we will find wonderful new students for the coming year of studies within the coven, but for today, I am content to go within and experience the dark. The cauldron of rebirth is full of starlight and darkness just now, swirling around and around, calling me to come experience the Divine. Tonight I will honor Hecate and draw cards to see what Wisdom She might have for me.

May your Samhain be as dark as you need, my little pretties.

So mote it be.

Faelind

Backyard is a River

Photo by Author of Author’s Backyard – Link back if used, please.

I sit on my deck, overlooking my backyard – a serene sea of green.

Breathing in the sights and sounds of my sanctuary I smell a river on the breeze,

A lingering essence of the recent rain.

I’m in a cocoon of green between the tall trees that surround me – safe in the soft green light.

Doves visit the bird feeder, softly whistling as they fly away, while

Squirrels scrabble up the pecan tree chasing each other and jump to the twin hackberries woven together.

Woven as I am – to this land, this house, this life.

§

Hanging from the trees so low they nearly touch the garden,

Voluptuous ponytails of ivy sway in the soft breeze,

While wind chimes softly announce the coming dusk.

My favorite liminal time – the hard labor of the day is done,

The evening’s diversions have yet to begin.

I sit and watch, draining the busy day away, remembering to see with new eyes

Noticing everything is verdant and fragrant – everything is so alive.

§

A wild bunny appears, munching in the tall grass, nearly invisible and so small and vulnerable.

Suddenly, a red-tailed hawk flies into the garden, magnificent striped feathers splayed out for my view!

Alighting on a short shepherd’s hook, the predator turns and just as suddenly flies straight toward me!

The bunny scampers to safety under the deck at my feet as the hawk swoops so close my heart nearly stops!

Thankfully, the hunter is empty-handed and chased from the yard by two very loud blue jays!

I realize my sanctuary is home but also a dangerous place for some.

Like the hidden dangers in every lived life – uncertainty and destruction are always near.

§

The evening wind picks up and spins the pinwheels in the garden,

Blowing the scent of the oak-leaved hydrangeas to my hungry nose.

Flowers explode in color, now that the harsh sun has fallen behind the trees.

Martins circle high overhead, joy-riding on the upsweep thermal winds.

Shadows lengthen at the edges, painting the bushes a deeper shade of green.

Faeries begin emerging, their clothes the color of May – as invisible and present as the bunny.

My heart sings with the wonder of it all, so full of gratitude.

§

Darker now, fireflies begin their lovely dance,

Soft lights in the dark at the edges, traveling stars in the gloaming.

The sky has turned a gentle shade of pink, illuminating the darkened trees as if they were on display.

My soul is bursting to be present in such beauty – I send love to all my family – of the heart and blood

Unbidden, my ancestors and dear ones send me overwhelming love in return.

§

All around me is love – my backyard is a river of love.

I see it in the pink clouds in the blue-gray sky,

Feel it in the dimming sunset,

Sense it in the underground river,

Hear it in the land singing in trees.

§

My tears flow freely.

Who am I to receive such riches?

betweenheavenandearthseasunsetnature1

For those who need a refresher, Friday, March 20 was Spring Equinox, (known in my tradition as Ostara) when day and night are balanced and equal.  It also heralded the first day of Spring and the growth of the Sun.  Friday was also the New Moon and not just any moon, but a Supermoon where the moon is closest to the earth in its orbit.  As if this were not enough, Friday was ALSO a Total Solar Eclipse seen in the most northern latitudes, but felt over all the earth.

I’ll just summarize all that again!

  • Spring Equinox – Ostara
  • First Day of Spring
  • New Moon
  • Supermoon
  • Total Solar Eclipse

It is no wonder my spirit was anticipating something!

Between heaven and earth, between light and dark, between Full and New, between day and night, between winter and summer, between the worlds, we find balance.

I found myself searching.  Dreaming of something nebulous, just out of my reach, just out of my sight.  Something liminal.  Coming but not yet here.  I found inspiration for my search from a veritable potpourri of all things Spring from one of my favorite blogs, Hecate Demeter’s Undermining the Patriarchy:  https://hecatedemeter.wordpress.com/2015/03/20/first-evening-of-spring-potpourri/.

Her Light and Darkness spread fit the confluence of magickal influences happening for Divine Ostara and I modified it just for me.  I used the Osho Zen Tarot because it fit my mood and I love the artwork of the cards and the simplicity of the descriptions.

Osho Zen Tarot

LIGHT AND DARKNESS SPREAD (Cards 1 through 6 are from Hecate Demeter)
Card 1: Beloved Light – what lights you up brightest (inspired by the sun).
Card 2: Shadow obscures my light – this is the obstacle, habit, barrier etc (inspired by the moon).
Card 3: Move from the shadow to reveal my light to the world (inspired by the solar eclipse).
Card 4: Beloved Darkness – a part of yourself that you do not share with others (inspired by the dark supermoon).
Card 5: How I balance my beloved darkness and beloved light to enhance my life and those lives around me (inspired by the Vernal Equinox).
Card 6: What the Universe wishes me to shower upon the Earth (inspired by the Northern Lights where the solar eclipse was visible).

Card 7: For the Magick Over All (inspired by my love of the Magic number 7).

I drew them into the following layout with card 7 at the top, card 6 showering over the rest, then card 1 as the sun, card 2 as the shadow over the sun, card 3 moving from shadow, card 4 at the bottom for the beloved darkness, and card 5 over it to balance between.

layout

 

The Cards I pulled:

Card 1 – Beloved Light – 2 OF RAINBOWS (in the Osho Zen Tarot, Rainbows represent the Minor Arcana suit of Earth but with the Zen-like qualities of the Rainbow which bridges earth and sky, matter and spirit.)  The card is named, “MOMENT TO MOMENT”.  The card challenges me to move away from my preoccupation with other spaces and other times, and stay alert to what is happening in the here and now.  It encourages me to drop all judgments in order to attain freedom and be available to what comes.

2 of Rainbows - Moment to Moment

As the Beloved Light card, this makes sense to me as I am either consumed by work, or preoccupied with upcoming events, or day-dreaming something other than where I am.  Being in the moment is a most precious gift and does light me up when I gift myself with presence.

Card 2 – The shadow that obscures – VIII COURAGE – This Major Arcana card suggests that when faced with difficult challenges (perfect for a shadow card, yes?), we can be resentful or we can face the challenge and grow through it.

8 - Courage

As the flower has conquered the stone, I too, can conquer my obstacles.  I love the Zen description, “The seed cannot know what is going to happen, the seed has never known the flower.  The seed cannot even believe that it has the potential to become a beautiful flower.”  My barriers to fulfillment and joy come back to gifting myself with care.  My challenge is to overcome not listening to the needs of my physical body.  (Having recently turned 60, this has become more important to my well-being.)

Card 3 – Move from the shadow – QUEEN OF FIRE – The card is named, “SHARING” and suggests an opportunity to share love, joy, and laughter.  The Queen of Fire is so rich and abundant that she can afford to give without limits or worry about putting aside something for later.

Queen of Fire - Sharing

It has always been the case that the way out of any depressing situation (at least for me) is to give of myself; my time or money or something as a way to get out of my head and my own problems, and become connected to others.  While I am not now depressed, it is good to see that the cards say the way to move out of the shadows is to share.  The card describes my life perfectly.  It says, “everything around you seems to be ‘coming together’ now.  Enjoy it, ground myself in it, and let the abundance in me and around me overflow.”  Sweet.

Card 4 – Beloved Darkness – KNIGHT OF WATER – TRUST.  This card demands absolute trust.  It suggests taking a quantum leap into the unknown without preparation or thinking about it first.  It promises the exhilaration will be tremendous, even if I am scared to death.

Knight of Water - Trust

I don’t often employ my Beloved Darkness of absolute trust, but when I have, the results have been as beautiful as this card.  There are ‘opportunities’ on the horizon that I have pondered and have not prepared for, nor made any firm decisions regarding whether to do them or not.  Perhaps I just need to trust that if they appeared to me as they have, it is something I should trust myself to do.

Card 5 – Balance – XXI – COMPLETION – (*Magickal synchronicity* This Major Arcana card in most Tarot decks is the WORLD card, and was the card I drew for Ostara 2014.  I even blogged about it here: http://wp.me/p2oWch-5A).  Osho Zen Tarot suggests that whatever has been absorbing my time and energy is now coming to an end.  In completing it, I am clearing space for something new to begin.  A perfect card to pull for balance.

21 - Completion

There have been many endings lately, but the one this brings to mind is my coven work.  Over the last several months, my coven completed another student year and initiated two new members.  The newest initiates wrote and performed their public ritual for Ostara for the Tradition Clan just last week and did an excellent job.  Now they begin classes for the initiate year, and we bring in a whole new group of students.  Lots of endings and lots of beginnings.  The card suggests this is a time to celebrate both – the end of the old, and the coming of the new.  Couldn’t be any more perfect than that.

Card 6 – Shower from the Universe – 0 THE FOOL – With every step, and moment to moment, the Fool leaves the past behind and jumps into the unknown.  The Fool exudes purity, innocence, and trust and is supported by the Universe at this moment.  The Fool is at the peak of intuition and is in harmony with all the elements.  Adventure awaits!

0 -The Fool

The card suggests that I too, should leave the past behind and shower my intuition and elemental knowledge to those around me.  If I trust my feeling of the ‘rightness’ of things, I cannot go wrong.  My actions may appear ‘foolish’ to others, but if I am in harmony with the elements, I can take that leap into the unknown and will be supported.

Card 7 – The Magick over all – ACE OF FIRE – THE SOURCE – This card reminds us that there is a vast reservoir of energy available to us.  We tap into it not by thinking or planning, but by getting grounded, centered, and silent enough to be in contact with the Source.  Seems a fitting and perfect card to pull last to represent the magick over all.

Ace of Fire - The Source

When we speak of being grounded or centered, this is the Source we are talking about accessing.  This is also the Source we would go to for inspiration to begin something new or for safe haven to rest from a challenge we just finished.  I am so fortunate to have this Source available to me as I need.  And I do need.

Summary:

LIGHT AND DARKNESS SPREAD

Layout pic

 

Card 1: Beloved Light – what lights you up brightest (inspired by the sun) – 2 OF RAINBOWS – MOMENT TO MOMENT
Card 2: Shadow obscures my light – this is the obstacle, habit, barrier etc (inspired by the moon) – VIII COURAGE
Card 3: Move from the shadow to reveal my light to the world (inspired by the solar eclipse) – QUEEN OF FIRE – SHARING
Card 4: Beloved Darkness – a part of yourself that you do not share (inspired by the dark supermoon) – KNIGHT OF WATER – TRUST
Card 5: How I balance my beloved darkness and beloved light (inspired by the Vernal Equinox) – XXI – COMPLETION
Card 6: What the Universe wishes me to shower upon the Earth (inspired by the Northern Lights) – 0 THE FOOL

Card 7: For the Magick Over All (inspired by my love of the Magic number 7) – ACE OF FIRE – THE SOURCE

 

So mote it be!

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