Sunday, June 28, 2009

Date Night

The weekend is over and it feels like it blew past me before I even had time to enjoy it. Except for one thing, that is. Cameron and I had a date Saturday night!

Cameron took a couple of pictures of me. Meet my familar, Dickens. He's ten years old and was adopted from a shelter in the Atlanta area. I actually adopted his orange and white sister, Starshine, first. But my boyfriend of the time took her over. So I went back after the weekend and brought her littermate home. In his prime, Dickens was the fastest cat in the house. His favorite game was laser tag. A few years ago, Starshine got out of the house. When she came home, she appeared to have injested anti-freeze. We rushed her to the animal hospitol but she did not survive. For about a year and a half Dickens had a terrible personality change. He ceased working as my familiar. He got out frequently. Once he disappeared for six weeks. When he came home injured, the reunion was joyful. He stayed in for several weeks before escaping again. But he no longers wanders far or long. I have come to believe that he was so grief striken by the loss of Starshine that it changed him permenately.

On our date, Cameron and I did one of our favorite things. We went to Copper River, sat on the patio, watched the sunset and flirted under the stars. Some things are to precious for words.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Death Comes in Threes

About a month ago we lost our beloved dog Ewok. Cameron has spoken extensively about that loss and the many years they shared. A week ago we were preparing to attend Truth Teller's funeral. Then last night the neighbor knocked on the door. They had found our "grey boy" Marco beside their house. He looked like he had fallen asleep -- no sign of trauma or poisoning. But he had crossed the rainbow bridge.

The term "grey boy" refers to several generations of kittens that came from Cameron and Luna's home. The mother cats Bridget, Frya, or Wee Bit produced them, and Baldor fatheed them all. As kittens were often more closely together, and hidden until one of the human found them, not to mention co-paretned, Cameron and Luna were never certain of parentage. With so many rescues in the house, and unable to make it to the vet before the next litter was born, Cameron and Luna had a number of inbred grey and white cats over a period of several years. None were very bright, but what they lacked in intelligence they made up for with affection. Indeed, they were some of the most affectionate cats I have ever met.

Marco adopted me seven years ago when I moved to South Carolina to get back on my feet. I moved in with Cameron and Luna temporarily. We had much drama in those years. When Cameron moved in with me a year later, we made a no-drama, we are monogamous commitment.

During those months, I lived in Cameron's studio. It was a small bedroom dominated by a concrete and 2x4 bookcase and a map table. I had a single bed, six inches in a closet, and enough room for three stacking crates. Yet somehow, I made it work.

Because the space was so small, I decided I did not want any cats in the bedroom. Marco, however, decided to adopt me. He cried piteously outside my door, and lurked nearby to run in every time the door opened. Once he convinced me that he was sleeping in my room, word got around. I can just imagine the conversation he had with litter mate Little John, "Hey man, it's the best room in the house and you only have to share her with me!"

When I moved out, Marco came with me. Nine months later, Cameron moved in. Around that time, Marco escaped out the door. Occasionally he came home, obviously having been adopted

by a second family who had put a flea color on him. He always arrived sleek and healthy, and after about three days he would make it past us and out the door. After disappearing for an even longer time than usual, I gave up on him coming home, although Cameron remained optimistic.

Almost a year after his last disappearance, I opened the door and there stood a filthy, near starved, glazed donut faced cat. The snot covered his nose, cheeks and mouth. Only the white mark on his hip told me that Marco had come home. Grieving, almost certain my cat was going to die, we cleaned him up and took him to the vet the next morning.

Dr P didn't think he was going to make it. But he sent Cameron home with IV fluids, needles and special stinky cat food. Within 48 hours, I knew my cat would live. Two weeks later, with a bit of an occasional sneeze and two rounds of antibiotics later, Marco was reintegrated with the household.

Initially he was content to be an indoor cat. However, as the weather warmed the spring, he began getting out past us again. He loved to lead us on frantic chases, staying just out of reach and usually at a time that critical for us to be somewhere else! Cameron at last learned that if she sat and waited he would come home quicker, disappointed that she wasn't participating in his play.

Last Saturday night he sat side by side with his brother Legba (Marco's the cat on the right) playing vulture kitty. They were watching Christian Mystic getting settled to sleep on our love seat. The next morning he got out, and I never saw him alive again.

Loosing a furbaby is like loosing a small child. They depend upon us, and in exchange, offer a great deal of love. Marco adored laying on my shoulder and having his ears scratched. He was a traditional "grey boy," meaning he was extraordinarily affectionate.

Indeed, I take my role as a servant of Bastet very seriously. We have a total of 21 cats today. I love each one deeply, knowing their stories, their histories and their preferences. So the loss of even one strikes deeply. The scripture in the bible about the shepherd who seeks out even one lost sheep, and does not rest until the sheep is within the fold, describes exactly how I feel about our furbabies. To lose one, especially so unexpectedly, is more difficult than I can possibly put into word.

Until I cross the rainbow bridge and am surrounded by all my furchildren who crossed before me, I shall miss you Marco. Your memory is precious. I grieve you deeply.

Friday, June 26, 2009

This is the lovely Lady who sits on my altar. I found her at Phonix and Dragon in Atlanta. Cameron tells me I had been drawn to her previously, though I had no memory of her.

We were visiting Fiber Geek and Cat when we went to the pagan bookstore. I was drawn to her, and found myself carrying her around the store, tears inexplicably streaming down my cheeks. She had to go home with me. Cameron had no say (fortunately, she was encouraging). Rather than buy groceries that week, we had my Lady.

Gaia's hair is adorned with dragon flies, which represent magic. Although I've studied many pantheons and work specifically with Innanna, Bastet, and Kali, when I think of the Lady, this is the image that comes to mind.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

This beautiful image came to me today by way of of GrannyMoon's Morning Feast. It honors the Goddess Luonatar. I like GrannyMoon's approach to "The teachings here are based on ordinary magick, the principle that the mundane and the Divine are not separate, but peacefully coexist in all things."

Finding the sacred in the ordinary gives life purpose. As I work my way through school, and make my living as a substance abuse counselor, I am reminded daily of how much I value the opportunity to answer my calling. Today will be a 17 hour day from the time I leave home, work, do therapy at the clinic and then attend my play therapy class this evening.

Exhausted does not begin to describe how I feel. Yet I thrive, because for the first time in my life I am doing the work I am called to do. While I have always tried to recognize the sacred in the mundane, it is much easier these days. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work in my field, to do therapy with my clients, to attend classes. I look forward to attended seminary as well.

I always think of therapy rooms as sacred space. Now my office at work is likewise sacred. As the wounded pour in, I am reminded again and again that miracles happen through simple kindnesses and gentle words. Perhaps my work as managing a restaurant, or as a technical writer was likewise sacred, but it certainly was not my calling. My world has become joyful.

Ironic, when it can also be incredibly challenging. Yesterday a co-therapist who was seeing the children of my client had to report her to DSS. My client is angry and feels betrayed because my co-therapist did not talk to her before the call was made. Today a client returned to the clinic for the forth time, in the worst shape I have ever seen her. DSS has already taken her children. Yet my words have the power to comfort, to inform, to direct. My words can be channeled from the goddess to her children when I get out of the way. What an amazing thing.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Cameron and I would have really liked to have been there. As members and future therapists to the gay community, I believe we have an ethical responsibility to support GLBT causes. Unfortunately, with Truth Teller's death, we had other responsibilities this weekend. Unexpected guests resulted in quite the adventure. My guest bedroom was buried and barely had a path in the door. I am proud to report it is now cleaned up and most beautiful. Soon as I get a futon for the living room, it will become my library, making me a very happy witch!

Summer's Blessing

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Goddess in a Box

I posted this challenge to my favorite e-mail list. I figured it would only be fair to answer here before everyone else begins chiming in!

As part of my first degree challenge, I was given an assignment to create a Goddess in a Box. I bought a picnic basket and could put 10 things in it that I would want to have with me in case of a pagan/wiccan emergency. Over time I found my needs changed as I took my box for various workings. It also got smaller as I got more in tune with my own needs. Here's what is in mine now:

Goddess in a Box
1. Pencil - spell writing and note taking
2. Paper
3. Small Goddess figure - mini alter
4. String - binding, cutting, and tying spells to candles
5. Matches or lighter
6. Tarot cards - divination
7. Balancing eggs - I cheat here: one pink and green; egg shaped glass does a remarkable job of balancing/calming
8. Athame
9. Candle
10. Sage incense - clearing and sanctifying

Depending on the working, I may substitute a wand for the athame. I find that it works better for delicate healing and energy work. My favorite want was previously a hair stick with a stone set in the end. It was gifted to me.

A Little Natural Magic

Plant a bulb or seed, keep watered and get out of the way! Note the bee.

Monday, June 22, 2009

“A time out of time, and space out of space"

I have done a lot of ritual magic over the years. As part of a coven we often worked together to ask for such things as healing or bounty for all of the covenstead. Indeed, I was trained in a healing grove so a lot of our work was for that purpose. Lady Amber always began her classes with very specific instructions and tools. By the time students initiated, they could cast circle and a ritual with no tools at all. Skill in both methods has its own time and place. Indeed, I have gone from being trained very ritualistically to become a very eclectic witch. But I think beginning with such a ritualistic approached honed my abilities.

Now as a solitaire and part of our loose, unnamed, circle of women that shifts from celebration to celebration, my magick use also shifted considerably. Indeed, cones of power aren't a large part of my life these days. Usually we do one in our group, but it's pretty watered down at our women's group--not the kind of energy raising I did as a covener. I looked in my book of shadows the other day, and since taking my third degree two years ago I might have less than a half dozen new workings in it. I had thought maybe I had fallen behind on what I should do. I love this topic, because it has provided me opportunity to think it through... I think I have done exactly enough. And there are other things to do with ritual. Often we celebrate the sabat/esbat; maybe do a visualization to draw upon its meaning and invoke its power in our lives.

I've come to believe that asking (or doing magick) for what we want/need can be part of personal responsibility. The gods/esses give us voice and the ability to direct our will. When we need something, we have the ability to do both mundane/magick things to make it happen. I don't belive that we are limited by the god/esses within ethical boundaries. For me, it's more like I had grow enough to know to ask. I had a hard time, for many years, reaching beyond my own self-imposed limits caused by shame and wounds of the past.

Furhtermore, for me magick is prayer with props. And often I no longer need the props. Instead, I seem to keep a running conversation with my Lady, whispering words or demanding needs as appropriate. I find the Universe tends to listen if I am bodacious and clear. Tentativeness does not get anywhere. And perhaps that where props are most useful, because they can focus intent and sometimes even multiply it. But I can't always be home in front of my altar when needs arise.

Major workings, for me, require major planning. I have a friend who needs a healing ritual in the fall. I talked it over with the woman who will maiden last night. Cameron will priest (she channels male energy amazingly well). We'll spend a lot of time working out our thoughts; I'll revisit a chakra balancing visualization I worked up four years ago. We'll all spend a lot of time thinking it through and we probably won't do the work until after Samhain. It's that serious of a working.

Shifting my thoughts a little: Sacred space may contain a very formal altar setting with all the elements, gods, goddesses, etc represented. Or it may be devoted to a specific need. Currently I have only a central candle with a spiral path drawn in dirt to represent my friend Truth Teller's passage to summerlands. Last night our little group at the house added pink/green candles charge with balance and harmony to see the griever's through this time. Each person present charged the candles with our intent -- the room fairly hummed before we were done. The candles will burn anytime we're home to tend them --and we envision them burning steadily in our own astral spaces.

I think sacred space becomes very individualistic. I have come to think of spaces in which I do therapy with my clients as sacred space. A place to touch the numinious and to tap into the archetypes of the universe to find the warriors, heroes, seekers within us all.

I do much less magick than I used to. I also include what I want "or better" to leave room for the universe's creative energy to provide things I haven't even thought of. Often it's not specific outcomes which I target, anyway. Like for the mourners for Truth Teller. I asked for balance and haromny so that each person's higher self, especially Priestess, can move through the process of mourning in their own ways and at all their own pace (nope, I'm not a fluffy bunny, but all thoughs have their place!). Spells like this I actually think of as "prayers with props".
Usually, I believe, our high selves know what we need to. So sending energy to higher self is often quite enough. Your own good intent reached the universe, for example, without your ever having worked magick, still resulted in a positive outcome simply because you put positive energy out there without forcing your own intent. Or at least, that can be one interpretation : )

I believe magick is much like a very strong herb. A little bit can go a long way.

Funerals are for the Living: Bagpipes and Amazing Grace

We gathered at the mortuary yesterday for our “viewing” of Truth Teller. Priestess expressed satisfaction with his appearance, although others were less comfortable. Priestess carried herself with great dignity. Unfortunately, she did fall at one point. She said that lupus occasionally can make her fall seemingly for no reason.

We were made welcome at Truth Teller’s parents’ home immediately following the service. They are quite well-to-do, and took great pleasure in showing off their recently renovated home which includes four and a half bathrooms, five bedrooms, a pool, a master closet that someone requested to move into–it had everything including a washer and dryer so laundry could be done on the spot.

I was greatly saddened to learn that Truth Teller had been an only child. His father takes off to New Orleans today to fulfill work responsibilities. I keep imagining his mother rattling around in that beautiful, empty house and I wonder where she fill find comfort.

Cat, who is in her early twenties, expressed dissatisfaction with the service. It had been performed by a lovely Scotts heritage Episcopalian priest. He just took over service at a local church where he’s "the fourth banana.” The other three had immediately gone on vacation, throwing him to the pagans. He used the common ceremony in their Book of Prayers, and it was lovely. Nevertheless, I’m certain Cat was not the only pagan left squirming. The ceremony was what Truth Teller had generously requested for the sake of his family. I hope they found the comfort in the service they needed.

Priestess has agreed to allow Cameron and me to lead a much more pagan ritual near Samhain. Perhaps my Pagan friends will find more comfort then. Nevertheless, I have to admit the service held power. There’s nothing like the mournful sound of bagpipes playing Amazing Grace to touch that collectively unconscious repository for grief.

We lit huge green and pink pillar candles on the house altar last night. Cameron, Christian Mystic, Cat and The Fiber Geek and myself each poured into them energy for balance and peace. May each of the people who grieve Truth Teller find their way through their grief with grace.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Gifts of the Dark Goddess

As I move closer to the time of TruthTellers funeral (pagan life celebration will happen closer to Samhain) my thoughts turn to the dark. I have come to believe that death is sacred.

Cameron and I walked with death last fall. She had been maried to Gentle Soul for ten years before a blond beauty rocked her world and catapolted her into the lesbian abyss. Gentle Soul had muscular dystrophe, and in his final years, we convinced him to move a few miles from us so we could keep an eye on him. His body gradually became debilitated.

A call came, saying Gentle Soul was in the hospital. Soon it become apparent that Gentle Soul would not be going home. It became even more apparent that an aunt and uncle, overwhelmed with responsibilities to his mother who had broken her hip and just been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and his aunt who also has Alzheimers,were ill equiped to deal with his situation.

Gentle Soul had watched his father die by inches in a nursing from the same disability. He had been clear from his first date with Cameron that he did not want life saving measures that trapped him in a useless body without an quality of life. His aunt and uncle had not made his wishes known. The hospital telling them still took days to sink in. Even as we sat with the pallative care nurse, his aunt and uncle spoke of continuing the ventalation and finding a nursing home.

Ever the diplomat, Cameron finally prevailed. She had never divorced Gentle Soul and the final decision lay between them. Thank Hekate for the doctors who were patient enough to listen as he struggled to communicate.

By Wenesday of that week it was decided. The visible shift the suffering man was apparent. He began to rally, doing his best to welcome those who came to say goodbye. Cameron found everyone she could after this many years, and they came.

The energy of the room shifted. With my third eye I could see the door standing cracked, a glowing "angel" for lack of a better word, biding his time and waiting for Gentle Soul. He was brave at the end. Determined to the ventilator out, as Cameron argued with doctors because the aunt and uncle had not given permission and did not come, it was Gentle Soul who reached out to me. As the tears rolled down my face, he touched my cheek and patted my hand. He was ready.

Pulling a ventalator is horrific. Cameron was too busy holding him in her arms as he struggled during the procedure to watch. But I sat at the foot and I saw his body convulse. I knew his heart, a muscle affected by the muscular dystrophe, could not take it. The nurses knew as well. They stepped away, only coming to shut down the obnoxious beeping when it became apparent he was going into failure. He held our hands and looked into Cameron's eyes, relief apparent.

With my third eye, I could see the room brighten, then dim. Gentle Soul and his escourt left with a gentle slam of the door. No regrets. No unfinished business. It was done. And it was one of the most sacred experiences of my life.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Truth Teller Has Crossed into the Summerlands

Truth Teller has passed into the summerlands.
After the meeting with hospice/palliative care, Priestess made the decision to withdrawal all the tubes and ties to machines. Without such paraphernalia in the way, she was able to crawl into the bed and hold her husband until he breathed his last.

Friends are notified and coming. We shall step into that sacred space of death and honor the man we knew. Amazing grace will be played on bagpipes. Songs will be song. Stories will be told. The Christian funeral this Sunday will be followed by a pagan celebration of his life near Samhain.

Paganism and Christianity: Walking a Duel Path

As Truth Teller’s funeral looms over us all, I can’t help but pause to reflect upon duel paths. I was raised first Methodist then Church of Christ. I spent many years bearing tremendous burdens of guilt and seek absolution in repeated baptisms (four total) and always had the internal voice of castigation haunting me.

Cameron’s spirituality over the years provided a powerful influence upon my path of healing. I could not run from my Christian faith, no matter how much I wanted to leave it behind. Now I find myself weaving the various parts of my spirituality into a whole that provides me with the spiritual nourishment that carries me through times like these.

I admit I still cringe at altar calls do the unfaithful to confess their sins. And yet I did go through the rite of absolution in the Episcopalian Church. I do share in the rite of communion. I do find healing in Episcopalian rituals and the music of my childhood. And I have found spaces to reconcile my faith and religious practice.

I’m part of a Christian Gay email group. Last night I accidently let my signature line post to them – I usually delete it because I don’t want to offend. The response had a sentence that beautifully summarized my faith: "We are co-creators of our own selves, our own destinies, we co-create with God, with His approval; His Grace."

And over the years my burden of guilt has been mostly alleviated. I have come to see myself as a child of the universe born of Divinity and carrying that spark within.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Last Spiral

The cycle of birth, death and rebirth is at the heart of paganism. Tonight Truth Teller stands on that spiral path that leads to the summerlands. Stories of Inanna, Persephone and Demeter, Lugh’s Crossing, Ishtar and Tammuz, Venus and Adonis, Isis and Osiris remind us of this eternal pattern. The wheel of the year, the Holly King and the Greenman all speak to that sacred space we call death. Like the labyrinth, the only way out is through the center.

Tonight Truth Teller walks the spiral ever inward. He leaves behind his body, destroyed by diabetes. He leaves behind this physical reality and the demands of the living. He takes with him the love of his wife, the love of his friends, and his higher self.

I carry away my memories of a man who could patiently wait for me to learn that not all men are scum. I will remember a man who was a safe friend. I carry the memory of man who had honor and love to offer his friends. A memory of man handfasting a woman he loved more than his own life. When I needed money to care for a puppy, he was there. When I needed to hear what I wanted to deny, he was there.

With this light, may Truth Teller find his way to the Summerlands. Tonight we cannot walk with him. It is a journey for Truth Teller alone and whatever concept of Deity he has come to know. May he know that he goes in perfect love and perfect trust. As all must go in our time, we release Truth Teller to go in your own time into the Summerlands.

So mote it be.

A Followup on the Dream

The dreaded call came this afternoon. Just before I was to have supervision at our clinic, Cameron called me to say she had talked to Priestess. As I stood in that lonely upstairs room, darkened by threatening storm clouds, Cameron said she had just gotten off the phone with Priestess. Determined to hold herself together, and to be strong for me, Cameron said that Priestess was about to meet with the palliative care/hospice team to determine best care for Truth Teller.

This once strong, beautiful man with graceful fingers and keen insight lies in a hospital bed, dependent on dialysis. He is missing seven fingers. Gangrene proceeds its way up his leg. Emaciated because his body cannot digest food, he is in agony and drugged to the point of having hallucinations. No wonder he could spirit walk.

Two years ago Cameron and I witnessed his second handfasting with Priestess. Knowing he would not live out a normal life expectancy, they promised to find each other again, vowing: "Around the wheel and down through the years." Tears came to my eyes.

Later, Cameron, Hermit and I witnessed Priestess' croning. Priestess asked to break with tradition and have her husband there. But he couldn't come because Truth Teller was ill that night. Other circles, other nights, other joys and other pains. Priestess and Truth Teller always had a place on the back porch for friends.

When I was so wounded that I decided all men were scum, Truth Teller's presence offered a safe friend. When I needed to learn to reconnect with men who had honor and love to offer their friends, he was there. When I needed a camera to take to my son's wedding, he had one. When I needed money to care for a puppy, he was there. When I needed to hear what I wanted to deny, he was there.

Tonight I will gather earth from garden. I'll draw a spiral in the earth and I place a lit candle in the center. May Truth Teller follow his path home to the summerlands. May he know we all honor him with perfect love and perfect trust.

So mote it be.

Last Week-Flat Tire and All

So with the other things going on, I never took the time to relate last week's adventure. Thursday night was my first night for my new class. I left the clinic at 5, determined to get to the usual class location twenty miles away. Did I mention a thunderstorm? And did I mention it raining so hard I could hardly see?

I almost made it to the little town where the class was scheduled when I got a surprise call from another student. The class had been moved to the location -- exactly where I started from! The rain has slowed, but debris covered sections of the road. I headed back and did not see the pothole. The pothole ate my car. All I could think was "please don't let me get a flat tire." I listened to the road noise. I paid attention to the handling of the car. Everything seemed to be well, and I walked into class half an hour late. The professor apologized profusely.

After class, it's starting to get dark, and I notice that the handling of the car seems a bit off. I reach the highway home, pull over, and I have a flat tire. Sigh. I tutor and I'm supposed to meet a client in twenty minutes. I call AAA. I call Cameron. I fume. I whine. I am annoyed. Half an hour later, Cameron arrives and we trade cars. See Cameron's blog for her driving skills regarding a stick shift. Oh, and she got lost on the way home.

When my client leaves, I leave a message on my boss' voicemail. Forgetting she won't be in the next day, I go onto bed. It's now about 11 p.m. I never heard the text message sound when my supervisor sent a message asking if I was okay when I was late for work. About seven I finally wake up, check in and apologize.

Now the blow out isn't a big deal. The tires have road hazard insurance and are new. The big deal is that the dealership where I bought the new back tires (and they added insurance for the front which were virtually new) would not touch the tire until I had the stem that holds the tire to the car repaired.

So I was off to a locally owned shop who said the car would be ready about noon. Shesh. Four hours. I call my supervisor. I start walking because I was too restless to sit. I am in the downtown area of a small suburb of a much larger town. It feels safe. I walk three or four blocks, find some shade, find a bench outside a barber shop, read my book and drink a coke. I'm waiting for Cameron to pick me up. I get a call, and she's locked her keys in the house!

I call our house sitter who promises to rescue my wife. Now I gotta pee. I mean really. It's a neat, well maintained neighborhood. But it's lower class and the quick shop refuses to allow me to use the facilities. Grrr. Laundry mat has no public restroom. Barbershop doesn't feel comfortable to enter. So I start walking back. Almost to Main Street (remember I only walked three blocks) I young man approaches me. Very politely, he asks for a cigarette and I state that I don't smoke. He looks at me and says, "You know you are in the hood, right?"

Ten years and 100 pounds ago I would have thought about it before I started walking. But it's broad daylight, a road a drive daily, and I'm no longer a pretty target. I smiled and thanked him, and reflected on how different my life is with age. Cameron didn't quite see it that way, though, so I promised to more walking in that area. Which is no problem without any more flat tires!

Cameron picks me up a few minutes later, saves me walking the last block, and drops me at the shop. At which me and the donut tire car drive to yet another town to get the tire replaced. The good news: my tire was $13.66. Bad news: I had to have a new rim, which for $60 still does not exactly match what I had. But the car's 11 years old, so who is complaining.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Call

We got the call from Priestess last night. The doctors say that barring a miracle, Truth Teller is not expected to leave the hospital. I grieve a remarkable man who had so much wisdom and kindness.

Truth Teller preferred to worship the Holy Motherboard most of his life. I've heard that his faith system has shifted a bit over the last couple of years. Nevertheless, I do not want to superimpose my belief system onto him.

May Truth Teller be remembered for the wisdom he brought not just to my life, but also to the coven where he served as an Elder. May his path to the place where all souls return be blessed, and he blessed us.

Truth Teller, you have often spoken in my dreams. Feel free to visit me even as you leave the material behind.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Dream: The Truth Teller

Truth Teller is one of those difficult people you can’t do without. I have only eaten out with him a few times because he is so picky about what he will eat and where. None of his food can touch. His toys and money belong to him and are kept completely separate and apart from his wife’s toys and money. While he did not begin his pagan path believing in Deity, he does worship the Holy Motherboard. Moreover, any computer will sit, beg or roll over to please him.

When Cameron and I were coming back from my eldest son’s marriage a few years ago, we were victims of trauma. A mother dog and her pups had gotten on the interstate and stopped traffic. I did not know why we were stopped, and inching forward, I hit a pup. Her back paw was broken. Alarmed, we found an emergency vet. Calling Truth Teller for help, he offered to cover up to $400 in vet bills. We had Bronte examined, and made the heart breaking decision to have her put down rather risk thousands in vet bills and future arthritis – the damage was that bad. My heart has never recovered from the loss of my puppy of four hours. I tear just writing about her. Truth Teller knew full well it would be years before we could pay him back.

Cameron and I broke up for an extremely painful six months, during our courtship, while she made decisions regarding her former wife. During that time, chaos happened and I found myself unemployed. That same week, Cameron and I began talking again. We met at Priestess' and Truth Teller's home, talking out the past and possibilities for the future. When Cameron left to tell her wife it was over, because her wife had made some unconscionable decisions, Truth Teller warned me that she might not be back. Such cautions over the years had mostly proved right, especially when I didn’t want to hear him. Indeed, that was the only time he was wrong. Because Truth Teller always spoke what needed saying, rather than I want to hear, he has become an archetype of my dream language. That is why I call him Truth Teller.

I had a dream several years ago in which I was driving on winding roads when I got a flat tire. I dreamed that I called Truth Teller, who came to get me. My car had been overfilled with books, which he helped me to got back to retrieve. Truth Teller had helped me recapture my own inner wisdom.

Today Truth Teller lies in a hospital bed with diabetes taking his life one body part at a time. Most of his fingers are gone. Now they are decided if they are going to remove a gangrene foot.

Last night I dreamed of Truth Teller. Cameron and I could not close a lower dresser drawer. We had tried for weeks, and I was entirely frustrated. Cats were sleeping on my work clothes. At last she mentioned it to Truth Teller, who offered to take a look. I was trying to sleep, but Cameron had put a cat in the bedroom who was crying, so I woke. In the dream, I was dozing in the bed when he came into the room and removed all the clothing, refolded it, and put it back. The drawer worked perfectly. He started to leave when I realized he had been there. Afraid he would get away before I could say anything, I ran through the kitchen and outside. He was driving Priestess’ old car, Mobie. He had started to back out of the driveway, and the headlights of the car caught my figure as I came out the door. I made a hugging motion with my arms and blew him a kiss. Truth Teller pulled back into the driveway and I ran to the car. I could his voice as clear as a bell as I thanked him for fixing the dresser drawer. Truth Teller hugged me and said good bye.

I do not have the gift of prophesy, but this dream is alarming.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Maid, Mother and Crone (with Enchantress and Warrior)

I remember reading Robert Jordan’s series The Wheel of the World and being amused by a young heroine who kept wishing for grey hair. As a wise woman, she felt that people would respect her a whole a lot more with a streak of grey; thus allowing them to overlook her youth when she gave them good answers.

While my words are not disregarded, there is truth in trusting the words of a mature woman over youth. While our society values youth, idolizing the young and expecting beauty to reside in a lack of wrinkles, we still seem to believe experience makes us better therapists, counselors, and village wise ones.

With these thoughts in mind, I created this created this collage. I wanted to honor all aspects of the goddess within.

Of course, in my house we are servants of the Goddess Bastet. Notice the image of a black cat on the collage. Liu is asleep in the art back, and Thor, the grey cat, oversees all.

Blessed be the furbabies, and we their servants.

So mote it be.

Dream: The Challenger

I was in an abbey, only I was a male named Griffen. I had healing powers, which the high priest knew. But our church, while endorsing healing, did not endorse magick. I was brought in to heal a homeless woman who was out of her mind.

A very young, female challenger for my position was also there, but she did not believe in healing magic. She considered any form of magick disdainful, dangerous and forbidden. She was very competitive and any healing I gave the lost woman had to be done in a ritual circle without the challenger really realizing what I had done.

With the priest’s permission, I created a healing circle for the wandering woman. The circle was for damaged mind to know that she could always return and could always find healing within our abbey. I placed several enchanted stone candy jars around the entrance and the ritual hall. Anytime the woman needed additional healing, or an affirmation that she was loved or welcome, she could return get some of the candies.

The challenger could not see the enchantment on the candy jars, and she was angry because she could not stop the magick. To keep my book of shadows safe from her, I also created an enchanted false bottom in the altar, concealing my book of shadows in the drawer. While she was certain that she was a better magician/priestess than me, she could not find ways to undo my simple spells.

At the end of the dream she was trying to force the wandering woman, who had named herself Sarah, from the premises. Despite the challenger’s rough handling and insistence that she leave, Sarah kept plucking candies from hidden jars that I had left for her. The challenger couldn’t even see that the candies were from my magick, but believed they were from the Sarah’s magick which was wild and uncontrollable due to her mental condition.

Raising Children while Gay and Wiccan: A Double Whammy

I think one the darkest challenges of walking my path has been dealing with the loss of custody of my children. While much of the past are stories for another day, I will say that leaving my sons in the custody of their father was one of the hardest choices I ever made. It was also one of the wisest. The agony nearly destroyed me until about six months after I left, when I had a vision/dream. I saw the huge hands of God cradling my tiny sons in the palms of his hands. It was a visual affirmation of the words my sponsor kept repeating, “Children never belong to us. Sometimes we are just gifted with the opportunity to care for them for awhile.”

Gaining joint custody when they were teenagers turned out to be a disaster because of The Evil Warlock, my fiancé. Nevertheless, during those years I was attending ritual regularly while training with the a Grove in the suburbs of Atlanta. I knew I had a calling. I seemed to have been led to the grove. Yet just before initiation I knew something had gone horribly wrong. I challenged for initiation, but they refused to allow the trial Meanwhile, my bipolar, unemployed fiancé managed to gain his first degree. He was completely unstable at the time, but had gained the confidence of my also bipolar priestess. They seemed to feed each other illnesses. He was also taking money, unbeknownst to me, and paying her bills. It took about six months for me to realize the harm my fiancé had been causing to me behind my back. It took the grove about another year and a half to realize their mistakes. I have subsequently received an apology.

One of the reasons I was determined to expose my sons to paganism was to expand their world view. We come from an area dominated by Baptists and the Church of Christ, so I wanted the boys to know there are other ways to explore their spirituality. My oldest son never “got it” and pursues a path possibly leading to becoming a Chaplin the military. My youngest is extremely involved in the Baptist church with his wife. While the oldest is traditional and narrow minded, the youngest remains open minded and nonjudgmental. I have no idea how I actually influenced either son.

Just as my spirituality can be challenging in my life, so can be being gay. My youngest son is entirely unconcerned regarding my orientation and loves my partner. My eldest son, however, is military and breaths military culture. I suppose the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy reinforces his resistance to homosexuality. Ironically, he loves my partner who has been part of his life for 11 years. The agony of grandchildren growing up without my ever holding them, reading them stories, or hugging them is indescribable. Unfortunately, between paganism and gay, the distance between myself and my son seems insurmountable. Fortunately, I believe in miracles.

Christians and Pagans in the Waiting Room

I was at our teaching clinic the other day seeing clients when I overheard a conversation. A woman in the waiting room was explaining the meaning of a pentacle that she wore, relating it back to the four elements. She went on to discuss a number of explanatory things about Wiccans. Initially I was quite impressed. She obviously had studied and was a self-professed solitaire. However, her voice really carried, and I also soon noted the discomfort of other people in our waiting room.

It would have been a relief to go and talk shop with her. It has been quite some time since I had one of those conversations where sniff each other over and test the degree of flakiness. She certainly did not appear flaky which have been a relief in a world where most paganism I encounter is based upon “I read a book.” Yet I hung back. As a therapist in the clinic, I wanted to know if she was a client or was waiting for one.

I am relieved I held back, because the complaints began in short order. A lady paying at the window was muttering under her breath about wanting out of the waiting room. The office staff were commenting on how loud she was. I pointed out that she seemed to know her stuff, and they pointed out that I do too and don’t make it intrusive on others.

I’m saddened to still live in a world where freedom of religion does not include pagan. I’m equally saddened that many of my fellow pagans can be just as intrusive as the Christians that they criticize. Moreover, I was uncomfortable with the woman’s comments, “We believe” as if Wicca has a cohesive belief system. One of those statements was, “We believe that Jesus was not the product of immaculate conception, but was a wise prophet and teacher.” On the one hand, I have heard a former priestess make the same assertion about Jesus. On the other hand, I’ve never heard someone say immaculate conception did not happen. Indeed, I have my own ideas about how it could.

What I resented was the concept that being Wiccan is mutually exclusive to being Christian. While I don’t often discuss my Christian faith, it certainly shapes my life in equally powerful ways. I have found ways to balance my Christian and Pagan beliefs, which really is not a stretch when you consider the fact that Christians borrowed heavily for Pagans.

Unfortunately, my combined spirituality leads to problems. Pagans and Christians both criticize because I am not a purist. Nevertheless, I have long been accustomed to living in the margins. I am too old to care if people do not agree with my beliefs.

Wicca and Christianity

I was considering joining several online communities looking for spiritual connections within community. After wandering through several groups, I feel a bit alarmed. I saw one community where someone questioned if they could be a witch and be Christian. The answers were predictably all over the board. Yet no one addressed the question from the perspective I was taught.

I am a witch, with a belief system that consists of both Wiccan and Christian priniciples. The way I have interpreted my faith system is this:

Picture a pyramid. At the pinnacle is Divinity, The All, The Cosmic Egg, whatever you wish to call it. Christians call it God. At this level, we mere humans really cannot conceptualize Divinity. Because we cannot, we adopt metaphors in interpret Divinity through the lens we do comprehend.

Metaphorically, beneath Divinity is the trinity, or the Christian Conception of Father and son (male) and Holy Spirit (female). Wiccans interpret this second level as God and Goddess.
Further down in levels we get the angels, Gods and Goddesses. So angels, Gods and Goddesses become aspects of Divinity that we can relate to. The stories of Inanna, for example, do not define all Goddesses. But her story does define an aspect of divinity that humans can relate to.
This conceptualization meets the scriptural demand, "put no God before me." Gods and Goddesses become archetypes or aspects of the Divine.

The mistranslations of the bible are so rampant I won’t go into them here, except to remind readers that "witch" meant "oath breaker" which is now the current definition of warlock. "Never suffer a witch to live" would be correctly be interpreted as liar.

Because all of creation is a reflection of Divinity, Wiccans can say "thou art god" or "thou art goddess." We carry the divine within.

In my belief system, a spell is a prayer with props. So magic is faith made material. For example, I believe in the power of green to heal. For example, when I burn a green candle and invoke an aspect of divinity, healing occurs.

My Path to Wicca

I played the edges of the metaphysical world for some time before I met my first self professed witch. A technical writer in Atlanta, I had a lot of time on my hands waiting for our project to begin. A coworker told me about a metaphysical bookstore she though I would enjoy. I went to hear a man talk about reincarnation. While much of what he had to say sounded really hokey at the time, the experience stayed with me. Having found the bookstore, I returned for a what I then called a Halloween celebration which hosted free readings (fortune telling). Afterward, participants were invited to the parking lot for a Wiccan circle. My best friend Dell and I stepped in circle and were transformed. I knew I was called to be a priestess.

I don’t ordinarily see energy with eyes of this world, but I did that night. I saw the blue light of the circle as it was laid. I saw the blue flame come down and dance the blade of the priest’s athame. I was entranced with the circle. I began classes at the bookstore with Lord Galen Firestorm and called myself Weaver. I completed my classes and the year and a day requirement. I did not initiate with him because I did not believe his path was mine. So I continued to seek.

My seeking led me to another group, called the Grove of the Unicorns. Lady Galadrial was not accepting students, unfortunately. But she did arrange introduction at another bookstore where I met Lady Amber and Lord Alex. My best friend Dell accompanied me. I’ll never forget Alex sitting on the floor cross legged talking about listening to the change of seasons in the wind. I felt like I had come home. We became a part of their grove. My friend became Spinner and I was Weaver.

Wiccans are human and make mistakes. Especially when charismatic men with talent misrepresent their intentions and manipulate the truth. When I finally clued in to the damage my boyfriend had done behind my back, it was too late. Everyone believed him over me. I lost everything because of that man, including my home, my children, and my spiritual community. For six months I even lost my best-friend until she twigged to the danger of that former boyfriend. I turned in my crystal, a representation of my place in the Wiccan community, and moved to South Carolina to start over.

Some months later I received a formal apology from my former priest and priestess. My son called to say that he had been wrong. But the damage was done and I had moved on. I finally received that first initiation at the hands of Lady Gena Moonkist. I became Grace. Lady Moonkist created a ritual drama of the journey of Persephone. As I walked a spiral of lights, my eclectic community challenged me, stripping me of the past. As I stood before my priest who channeled Kali, I finally understood that divinity existed within me. It was the last amazing gift she gave me before my world blew apart yet again.

I’ve seen two priestess loose their faith. It is a grievous experience to watch such spiritual crisis. Due to illness, Lady Moonkist had to step away from her role as priestess for a while. I don’t know if she has found her path again. I bless her presence at the ritual and transformation she facilitated. At yet another pagan bookstore I found Lady Alauda.

Lady Alauda eventually announced that she was ready to give me my second degree and then did not show up at the next circle. I believe it was part of my challenge for second to tell the group members what had happened and to request the ritual. As flashy, beautiful and powerful as my first ritual had been, I did not expect the same for the second. I was over ready for the first, like a kid with her nose pressed against a door too long, which had become painful. The second degree was like having doors opened and simply gliding through. Unfortunately, Lady Alauda had lost her way. She disbanded her grove and sent us on our way. The new community was not my place. My partner and I left the group.

In the mean time, I began graduate school for marriage and family therapy. The journey transformed me again. I knew I wanted to be a priestess the first time I stepped in circle. There was nothing I wanted more than to be a third degree high priestess. I had looked to the leaders of groves and covens, and wanted to do the things they did. My calling was clear, but my path was not. Those were hard years of trial and disillusionment.

The eclectic circle of elders in our community once again gathered and they were the ones to guide me through the ritual of my third degree. I became Lady Grace Dreamweaver, Priestess and Daughter to the Gods. A loose collection of wise ones, representatives of our community, witnessed my third degree. Mine is not a path that traces its roots to a heritage or a hide bound tradition. I think of my calling as having become incorporated in with my journey to become a therapist. It has been a spiritual journey leading to a much broader path than I expected those many years ago. It took ten years for my path to spiral to that third degree. It has been several years since that ceremony. I continue my to feed my spiritual self with a loose collection of women of whom only a few would call themselves either pagan or Wiccan. Not at all what I envisioned when I was in Atlanta. Yet so much more than the restrictions of a grove or coven would ever embrace.