Sunday, October 11, 2020

Standing On The Edge

Usually at this time of year I write a post about hearing and feeling the Veil opening...well, not this year. The Veil has been open since Spring, and there was no gentle thrumming or humming. The sound was more like the renting of fabric as thousands crossed in a long line, their faces worn, bodies exhausted by the long battle with COVID-19. Mothers, fathers, grandparents, children...and so many healthcare workers. Every loved one reduced to a haggard shade of humanity.

How could this have happened? Human nature made us desperately search for something or someone to blame.  Thousands dying of a modern Plague, alone, unable to say goodbye through their drug-induced coma, many before their time, their loved one terrified to touch or kiss them in their final moments, a nurse or doctor providing solace.

Through the earlier part of this year we've been weighed down not only by helplessness and grief, but anger. A pall of negativity spread over communities thrown into week after week of mourning. Those of us fearful of the possibility of bring this Plague into our home follow the guideline of common sense: wash your hands, wear a face covering, only go out when necessary, otherwise stay at home. Every little cough or sneeze being suspect, we panic and brace for the worst.

Our world has been thrown off kilter to tilt toward a dark unknown. We gnash our teeth when our favorite coffee spot is closed, when we have to keep six feet or more apart, when our routine is interrupted by uncertain governmental warnings, by ridiculous, irrational  political theater, by armchair Facebook experts and the loss of normalcy.

In the blink of an eye and less time it takes to catch our breath, our comfortable routine, our normalcy, is gone. Gone. If anything like normal ever returns, it will be a new "normal". And it will take some getting used to.

Meanwhile, our metaphysical communities, occult practitioners, seers, sages, psychics, healers, light workers are all thrown into a type of vertigo. The Unknown, the Mysterious, whatever and from wherever we draw our power, is fuzzy and scattered. It takes every ounce of strength and focus we have to work our craft. But we persevere.

We're learning new ways to virtually gather online because it's important to keep in touch. We hunger for a word of encouragement and kindness from those familiar to us...even if it is on Zoom.

The single constant we have is the natural world. Despite our planet having it's own share of affliction heaped upon it by selfish mortals, we are still welcomed to walk or meditate in the outdoors, to fill our lungs and ourselves with sun and air. The Earth, our Mother, no matter how we abuse her, still loves us.
Bare feet on naked soil still grounds us, and we are invigorated. Watching deer and birds in the wild during these autumnal days reminds us that we are not alone. We share this world with others who keep the spark of life inside. Even more, we are, as the futuristic thinker Buckminister Fuller said,                 " Passengers  of  Spaceship Earth". All of us are on a journey. That's hard to remember when surrounded by so much gloom and doom. It's hard to be an enthusiastic traveler in these times.

Those of us engaged in Earth-centered spirituality see Death and dying differently. Our worldview is that of Death as transition, a natural part of the cycle of Life. Death is not in and of itself an ending, but linked to regeneration and rebirth. If Life is truly a loop ( and we have seen proof it is) then it is much easier to accept Death, painful as the separation may be, as temporary.

The Wheel of Life and the Wheel of the Year turn in a parallel unity. As we loose friends, family and loved ones to this modern Plague, it is wise to remember that they pass from this life into the Realm of the Ancestors. Our Ancestors are always with us, but especially at this time of year. A practice I've adopted is a ritual to let those who die suddenly go with love, with their memory keep in my heart. Letting go is a gift...yes, I said gift. Their existence in my life, sharing our humanity together, even if that relationship is difficult, gives me a new understanding and expression of who I am. But enough waxing poetic for now.

We welcome the Ancestors, new and old, everyday, but especially as we approach Samhain, the Final Harvest. We stand on the edge of the place of passage, where the Veil opens, and welcome those who have crossed with love and compassion. Each of us have our own personal rituals and ceremonies. I'd like to hear about them if you're willing to share.
 

Monday, June 22, 2020

Interrupted


There is nothing I hate more than being interrupted. But...such are the ways of life...

I am a creature of discipline. I like routine, and I'm set in my ways. I don't like change. Having said all that...I'm ready for some change.

Like many of you, I've been staying safely at home trying to avoid our modern version of the Plague ( Novel Covid-19, like I have to tell you). And to be honest...I'm not going stir crazy. I'm an introvert. I like my privacy and work well being alone. There are plenty of things to do at home and I am perfectly content doing them.

And...I rescued a cat. His name is Charlie, and he's a handful. He's a tomcat, and since he's been out on his own, he thinks he's a badass. More on him later.

I am committed to moving to a new area a little south of where I currently live by Autumn. I'll still be in the mountains in a small town, but not as isolated and remote. It's larger than the tiny town I currently reside in, but there is a lot more opportunity and I think the charge will be positive. The place I'm currently living answered to my needs at the time, and it's been an experience I don't regret, but it's time for a change. It used to be home; now it's just a place to live. I still love my little apartment which has been home for nearly eight years, but...things are different here.

I'm different, too. The combination has made me dissatisfied and uncomfortable, and it affects my mood and my ability to concentrate, which in turn affects my ability to connect with the Divine...all of this has brought back bouts of depression I've been dealing with all of my life, to the extent that it has even affected writing this blog. It's not that I have writer's block; there are plenty of ideas swirling around in my head. The problem is that I haven't felt like writing... or anything else, to be honest. I've been told by friends who deal with a similar form of depression that it gets better if you give it time. I think they're right, but waiting to reach that place has been hard.

But...here I am. I'm grateful for those of you who have stuck with me, who have been asking about the blog, and who have been patiently waiting for me to sit down at the keyboard again. ( I do post at the blog's Facebook page regularly, and I keep in touch with a number of people on my personal page.)

Meanwhile...a few loose ends:

I've gotten a moderate amount of email asking what to do with our problematic President here in the US. My answer is simple: VOTE him and his associates out of office. I'm not going on a political rant about him right now because I frankly don't have the energy. Just VOTE  on November 3rd. Four more years of the Orange Shitgibbon will absolutely guarantee you and I will not only not have the freedom to practice our personal spirituality, we could very well be imprisoned for it if the Dominionist Christian Cult gets it's way. I'm not advocating for any candidate, but please, please, VOTE your conscience for the good of humanity. Until then, I personally am focusing on sending Trump's negativity and ugliness back to him. Since he will never own it himself, I am sending it back to own HIM. I refuse to put energy into cursing this idiot, as he's doing an excellent job of doing that tom himself.

Covid-19: Response has been confusing as how to respond and what to do, but the basics are still hand washing, staying in as much as you can, and wearing a mask when you go out. Save the excuses, be a decent human being and just wear the damn mask. Believe me, it beats the alternative.

Even though it's been moved off the stove to the back burner, Climate Change is still very real. Our fragile Earth is suffering at the hands of ignorance and greed. Do what you can in your own little part of the world to help in sustainable ways. A little goes a long way. 

If you're interested in Southern Hoodoo, my friend Carolina Dean has begun a video series on YouTube. Look him up! His engaging personality will charm you.

Like many during the lockdown, Sabrina the Ink Witch and her partner, Tina,are struggling to keep their store afloat. Enchantations has become a community gathering place for Witches and Pagans in the South Bay area in California. If you have a few dollars to spare, consider helping them out at their Go Fund Me.

The always provocative Christian Day and his husband, Alexandria High Priest Brian Cain are offering a variety of online classes through their shops, Hex and Omen. Classes feature presenters such as Utu Witchdoctor and Michael Correll ( Uncle Birch from Widdershins). Sign up at Hex websites or on Facebook.

Finally, if you need a positive way to relax and learn about history and culture, I highly recommend the Pro Walks series on YouTube. My personal favorites are the Roman Forum, and the Path of the Gods. If you've never seen any ProWalks videos, they are first person hikes around popular historical and cultural areas throughout the world at ground level, just like you are doing the hike yourself, but from the comfort of your own home. They're wonderful for meditation and relaxing.

And so...here we are at the end of this post. I'm going to be working on the layout of the blog in the next week and putting up new posts ( which I hope to make weekly). Bright Blessings of the MidSummer to you.




















Monday, February 17, 2020

Snakes, Oh My !

There's a theory that totem animals come from deep in the individual's subconscious, that something filters up through a repressed part of our mind to represent us. I'm not going to pretend I know the answer because I'm still working on understanding my spirit allies and where they fit in who I am becoming.

A few years back I began resonating with Hare. What came to me from this association was a deeper connection with the Earth and my own instincts. A popular association with the hare or rabbit is sexual, but this has never been the message I've gotten from Hare. It has always been about connecting to the Earth and my own inner wisdom; I'm still exploring that connection.

Most recently Snake has come to me. Snake strikes fear in many individuals, but I've never felt one way or the other about the creature. I think they're fascinating and beautiful, but I've never had any real connection to Snake until Rick Springfield came out with a CD titled The Snake King. I'm a lifelong fan, but I'm not obsessed with the guy, and I've never been a camp follower. (I got over the fan girl thing years ago, even though I was featured in a documentary about his relationship to his fan base.) I think he still makes some great music and I can relate to the meaning in his more personal songs. The Snake King has a bluesy vibe and a link to the dark side expressed by a character called The Snake King who's an amalgamation of voodoo's Baron Samedi ( Springfield does, in fact, own a suit coat with an image of the Baron on the back that predates the album, so I suspect he's versed in his meaning) Satan, and other taboo characters including a depression riddled part of Springfield himself. All these characters tell a story throughout the album, and there are actually some upbeat tunes that are ear worm worthy...but this is not an album review, so I'll move on. Back to the Snake King and how he introduced Snake to me as a spirit ally...

Snake often travels undercover in places the sunlight doesn't reach: in rocky outcrops, under the leafy forest floor, high among the canopy of trees, underground in holes....places of deep indwelling. The Place of Deep Indwelling is a reoccurring theme with me, especially during the dark Winter months when I settle in to study my Craft and explore my inner being. It would not be an odd occurrence for Snake to come to me under these circumstances, for snakes have an aversion to the cold. Snake appearing in the Place of Deep InDwelling is actually quite natural because he is a figure of renewal and the nature of rebirth. Snake hatches from an egg, sheds his skin in order to grow, and sleeps in a coil - birth, growth and the Divine Spiral. He's a creature of Earth, and among my totems, a natural to spiritually connect to the Earth.

Snake also connects to my Celtic heritage that incorporates spirals and coils, and serpents. The opposite side of Snake's character is that he is a healer of body and soul: shedding one's skin  (transformation) represents freedom from the burden we must let go of in order to move forward and grow. Snake is symbolic of the cycle of life and death.

There was a period of painful transformation in my life that lasted several years that I would have never foreseen as happening the way it did, a shedding of who I thought I was, of my comfortably self-perceived position in society. I lost my job and my wonderfully delightful apartment and moved from the place I grew up in and had lived for the first 40+ years of my life and was briefly homeless and adrift. Thankfully I was never out on the street, but I had no money and no permanent place to live. Friends kept the material possessions most important to me while I explored this phase of life and shed layers upon layers of parental and societal conditioning until I finally became someone I felt comfortable with being. Then I came out of the darkness, realizing that I had been forced to leave the place I was so afraid of leaving. I am by no means fearless now, but I am a lot less fearful of loss in a way understood through deep personal examination and a Buddhist-like understanding of attachment.

Then Snake appeared, as they often do, coming out from the dark place to bask in the warm and light.This is my relationship with Snake currently. I respectfully acknowledge it could change again, but right now, things are comfortable and stable. Life is not so bad, and Snake and Hare hang around just make sure I stay connected and awake. The Snake King ( the album and the archetype) keep me thinking about life, society and culture : our currently crappy political situation and what has brought us here, knowing what my personal appetites are and how they help and harm me, and my relationship to the gods. It's not a bad relationship, and I an kinda grateful for the bad stuff because it makes me appreciate the good things when they come around.

Meanwhile....I need to get back to a settled spiritual practice. I have allowed mine to fall away while I sit comfortably with my cup of hot tea and the distraction of reading. It's past Imbolc and the light is beckoning me from the Place of Deep InDwelling to the Place of Joyful Being. I am shedding the skin of last Winter and my new one, though still tender and a little raw from the old one being torn away, holds the possibility for something beautiful.

*******************************************************************************
A bit of lavender added to my sage stick, and the apartment gets a good smudging, followed by a wash down with the citrus and orange, cinnamon and spice of Florida water, to clear out the old and make way for a higher, more positive vibration. How do you get unstuck after the long nights of Winter?





Monday, January 27, 2020

Everyday Pagan

January always feels a little light and wispy; it's early days confused and lacking substance. Perhaps it's because it's the beginning of a new calendar year. Perhaps it's the hangover from December's many festivals. Christmas, in particular, means less to me as the years go by and any loyalty to a Christian tradition fades. The rampant commercialism has all but killed any spiritual feeling I once had; meanwhile, Yule and Winter Solstice means more, perhaps this year in particular because my ritual partner Lois transitioned across the Veil unexpectedly in early September. We introduced several successful Winter Solstice rituals to the Raleigh, NC area while she was attending seminary and the early years of her interfaith ministry. This year felt a bit hollow and lonesome. I over decorated in my grief and over-compensated with holiday merriment that left me feeling numb and lost.

Somewhere in all of this January slid quietly into place. Everything feels a bit off. At the first Full Moon of the year, one which many Pagans revere as the strongest and most magical, I begged off with a quiet prayer to the Goddess as I drifted off to sleep. Soon it will be Imbolc and the Feast of Brigid, my main patron. I made my dedication and was initiated at Imbolc to Pagan spirituality after studying a year and a day. In reality I had been Pagan much longer, but I needed this formality to feel legitimate in my own mind.

I  know in the deepest parts of my soul that I cannot, will not ever go back to being a Christian. I have no argument with Christ's teachings: it's the overbearing arrogance of the majority of his devotees who to profess to follow him, those who create him in their own image to justify greed and animosity toward those who do not meet their standard of religious expression whom I roundly reject. I attended an education for ministry program for nearly a decade, earning several post graduate degrees in the process, and much to my chagrin am sorrily disappointed in those who claim to follow the Nazarene. I have a new understanding of the quote attributed to Gandhi: " I very much like your Christ, but not so much his followers". I still wonder how these folks can claim the love and beauty of Jesus' message and claim to worship him while disparaging the rest of humanity. This was not Jesus' way, in fact the most negative thing he had to say was to tell his Apostles to shake the dust off their feet and leave nonbelievers in peace.

That's folks like you and I. We have our own Beloved Community, no matter how loosely we are organized or how much we pick at scabs. We are a part of the vast Other that includes Buddhists, Hindi, many Asian religions, Humanists, Atheists and even in some cases a few fringe pseudo Christian sects like Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons. I'm sure I've forgotten to include more, but these are the ones that presently come to mind. The point is there are more of us than them, and according to polls from the Pew Foundation, even more who profess no affiliation with any religious tradition at all. I'm sure this is the driving force behind the pissy attitude of the Dominionist Christian Cult which is attempting to turn the United States into a theocracy.( But more about them in another post.)

Still, I am searching for a definitive to the question of what makes me, and maybe you, an Everyday Pagan. Perhaps the answer escapes me because I have been Pagan for so long that it is second nature and I am so attuned to looking to Nature for answers that it is my norm. I use oracles everyday to explain what is taking place in my world; I research the stories of the Goddesses and Gods of old for applications relevant to modern day life. I see occasions for creating little rituals everywhere, and live a life of gratitude ( even if I do have to remind myself what to be grateful for on some occasions!) None of this makes me feel particularly blessed or special in the scheme of things, and none, to my mind, at least, make me particularly Pagan.

I do not go about in ritual robes with pentagrams or other occult symbols hanging from my body, I do not dress in witchy black clothing a la Stevie Nicks. Nothing makes me standout physically as a Pagan. Yes, I do have a few crystals scattered around my apartment, and a bit of esoteric artwork, which has more to do with my personal taste than my spiritual leanings.

But I am still an Everyday Pagan. I hear the voices of my ancestors; I see signs in Nature; I feel the presence of the spirits of the land and spirits of place, and I follow the wisdom of the stories of the multitudes of Gods of Old; I am in awe of the Feminine Divine that exists within me, and I resonate with others who share my convictions. I connect with the Earth and am overwhelmed by the beauty of the Universe. History, Mystery and Jung's Collective Unconscious are my most important teachers. I practice my spirituality without man made dogmas or taboos, I bow to no other human, although there are a few I deeply respect. Life is simply what it is, and the beauty of it appears in the strangest of places. Magick is everywhere.

Perhaps that's the answer: being free of religious restraints and listening to the wisdom around me, and that that comes from within. I firmly believe that we create our own salvation when we need it, otherwise we are pretty okay just as we are. No one needs to forgive us unless we ask for a boon or a blessing from a particular Deity of our choosing ( or whom we feel has chosen us). Our dealings and relationship with the Divine is individual and unique and not subject to review by others. It is our responsibility to create and build upon that relationship with the Sacred.

I will still look for those things that define being an Everyday Pagan and I suspect that search will be never ending. I love this journey, even it's occasional hiccups and bumps. If you have any other feelings you'd like to share about what makes you an Everyday Pagan, I'd love to hear from you and appreciate the courage it takes to share. Leave a few words in the comments at the end of this post.

Be well and be blessed,
AmethJera


Friday, November 29, 2019

At The Border Of Summer's End

Summer has been a season of loss. Friends have lost husbands, wives, fathers and mothers, companion animals, and time has marched on.

Despite this, the Veil has been slow to open this year. Friends have noticed the same. What is amiss? Usually I am sensitive to the subtle thrumming as the space between this world and the next thins; this year there has been nothing. Not a single sign of the impending opening that the changing seasons herald. It's hard to miss, and I don't think I have.

Which means...it's waiting, suspended in the corner of the room like a spider, quietly waiting for the right moment. And I shudder a little.

What can be the cause? Are the crazed apocalyptic prophets finally right? I very much doubt it, although I do wonder if there is something of cataclysmic proportions about to take place. I have an inkling, and I hope I am wrong.

Divining the future by a variety of tools and methods have brought no solid answer.And so I return to watching the seasons change.

As I write this it is still Autumn,in fact, it's the day after Thanksgiving. We've had high winds the last couple of days, so the most stubborned of dried leaves have come down, and the ground is covered with a crunchy carpet of detritus.My favorite place to walk under these conditions (any conditions,really) is the local grave yard.

We have a huge graveyard ( 11.5 acres) just on the edge of town; it is a gift from the coal company that mined this area in a bygone era, primarily to bury the unfortunate victims of several mine disasters. It is a unique place due to burial arrangement; most 19th century burying ground were laid out in sections exclusive to ethnicity and social status, but not here. The Irish silently spend eternity next to those of Russian ancestry; Greek Orthodox share space with Southern Baptist, Roman Catholics and those holding no religious belief. The sole mausoleum, presumably belonging to a wealthy family, sits squarely in an area of Hungarian and Polish immigrants. There are more townspeople occupying the cemetery than registered voters. It's a humbling thing to ponder: do we the living rule this quiet little town, or do the beloved dead? So far the cemetery population outnumbers townspeople three to one.

Although it has now fallen to steady decay, this graveyard was built with the intention of many 19th century cemeteries, that is, as a place to while away the hours in a planned park-like place. Most of the winding paths are paved, there are marble steps leading up and down the hills, a boat pond, and a small outdoor chapel. There used to be picnic tables and benches, and all that's left of the chapel are foundation markers; the grass is rather tall in spots, and the woods have encroached upon some sections. Intentional plantings of yucca have spread beyond their beds, and quite a few of the older headstones have broken, some crumbling to dust.

It is the perfect place to walk on a cloudy day in late Autumn: it feels right and not morbid. It feels right to shuffle along the paths covered with dead leaves, crows and songbirds vocalizing along with the whistling wind. It is good and old and comforting. It is a place between the worlds, mysterious and wild and yet serene.

I love walking in these sacred places so much that I always include a local cemetery in my travel plans. You learn a lot about a place by how they keep their burying grounds and honor their dead. And I'm please to know that my weird little hobby has gained in popularity in the last few years. so there is now an international  tribe of us plodding through the resting places of the ancestors [https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/why-always-visit-cemeteries-while-143101095.html] .

Yule and Christmas loom large before us as these few solemn days of Autumn dwindle down to a treasured few. I entered the Place of Deep In-Dwelling several weeks ago; hunkering down with a cup of hot tea and good book, surrounded by candles and quiet music. It's a respite from the norm, and a chance to recharge before the Winter festivities burst forth clothed in glitz and glitter.  As much as I do love the gaiety of the seasonal celebrations. I am thankful for these few quiet days spent remembering those who have left this earthly plane for a new home across the Veil, to recall the sound of voices stilled until we meet again.

















Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Autumn Musing / Thoughts of Samhaim

***“Delicious Autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the Earth seeking successive Autumns.”~ George Elliott
Ah,yes…the period that you and I love, the time we love as witches and Pagans,
those few weeks and days just before Samhain and the beginning of the Celtic New Year.
That time when the leaves gain their brightest colors, then fade and fall to the ground.
What a stunning metaphor for living and dying.

***“Autumn is the season to find contentment at home by paying attention to what we already have.”
~unknown

Several years ago I took to calling this time of year the Time of Deep Indwelling,
because indeed, this is what it is: crisp evenings to settle in with a hot cup of tea or chocolate,
light the candles, and gather yourself close. It is a time to warm both body and soul, and to turn inward.
A tiny black and white plaque hangs in my kitchen that states: Gratitude turns what we have into enough. It is my current personal mantra,
and I try to live it out everyday, especially as I get older.

***“ And the sun took a step back, the leaves lulled themselves to sleep and Autumn was awakened”~ Raquel Franco
I had to think this one through because there is a lot going on in those few simple words.
I have come to the conclusion that this quote is quite brilliant in its description of Samhain.
The sun is lower in the sky, the trees begin their cycle of rest before regeneration,
but there is a last burst of glory and celebration of Life before preparing for the new life to come.
I framed this quote in terms of the end of life just before transitioning across the veil, and it fits perfectly.

***“ Wild is the music of the autumnal winds among the faded woods:~ William Wordsworth
If you have ever spent time in the woods after the branches have been laid bare
and listened to their clacking in the wind, they sound a bit like the clattering of old bones.
After they have shed their leaves they are quite naked, stripped down, as it were, to their skeletons.
Autumn is full of metaphors for death, and this one is a favorite of mine because it so beautifully illustrates
the Dance Macabre.


***“ I hope I can be the autumn leaf, who looked at the sky and lived. And when it was time to leave, gracefully it knew life was a gift”~ Dodinsky
I don’t think I am owed an easy pass when it’s my time to transition to the next life,
but like all of my fellow humans, I would prefer to go easy and without suffering.
That has already happened once, a few years ago, when I simply faded to black after an embolism.
I remember peacefully going to sleep. I hope for that same experience when it is
my actual time to go after a life well lived.


***“ The father we’ve gotten from the magic and mystery of our past, the more we’ve come to need Halloween.”~ Paula Curan
To me, this beautifully explains that feeling many of us have had since childhood,
when we knew our very soul resonated with something wonderful and old,
something tucked far back in our personal history that we couldn’t name or quite grasp,
yet we knew came to light within us during the autumn harvest.
It is why we thrilled to see the shocks of corn in the field, the faces of spirits carved in Jack O’Lanterns
that we welcomed as friends, the knowledge that something or someone from the past swept over us.
Weird little kids like us needed Halloween – not the candy or parties,
but the very act of dressing up as something Other and going about in the forbidden night with
the kindred spirits we knew walked the Earth that night.
I still take a few minutes every Halloween night to go outside alone in the darkness and
just stand there while the spirit ancestors walk around me.
It’s usually the time I take a small plate of food out for the Dead or wild animals or
whomever comes to refresh
themselves from its essence, or nourish their bodies from my offering.
That moment brings me back into myself and reminds me who I am and my place in the grandness of Living.

I hope you have a wonderful, magickal Halloween, and a Samhain
that connects you not only with your ancestors, but your soul.
Be well and blessed with an abundance of joy and gratitude this night and
every night as the Wheel of the Year once again turns and leads you home.

Monday, September 30, 2019

All Is Well, And All Is Well

Summer officially ended here last week, as it did in the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, but more importantly- to me, at least- Autumn began.  Autumn is MY season, when  the night air turns chilly and there is a whisp of wood smoke in the air, and the leaves stripe the mountains with bands of color. Dusk comes sooner as the sun dips down behind those same mountains, and the night creatures cautiously come out : a cloud of little brown bats swoop and dance, squeeking in delight as they chase insects; the locusts ( foks in this part of Applachia call them 'cadydids') vocalize a catch and call tune; and deer quietly forrage for fallen acorns.

Life goes on in its own way. To those of us who are a little closer to the Earth and mind the signs of the seasons, it is nearing the final harvest before Winter sets store. We await the opening of the Veil, which for me always begins with a subtle hum and shiver. Death pulls back the curtain many times during the year, but never as wide as when the Beloved Dead cross back into the land of the living for that short yearly period of time at Samhain.

But until then...Life goes on in its own way. Nights are quiet, yet alive with the creatures who thrive under the shadow of darkness. I spend them mosty reading and sipping hot tea, lilting jazz music playing in th background, buried in the stories of others' lives, or learning new things about this spiritual path you and I have chosen.

Or is it more accurate to say we have been chosen by the Mysteries? I sometimes wonder which it is, and always come to the conclusion that it's both. My exploration of the Craft often flows along like a river, and with much the same turbulance, and often obstacles to overcome. But all is well, even in the rough patches. I have been a witch long enough to know how to ride the river-when to hold tight to my raft, and when to just let it wash over me.  Which ever happens...all is well....and there are no coincidences.

There is a reason and meaning for everything, as the song goes. Take for example the lovely rosemary plant I found at the grocery store a couple months ago: I watered it with care, and enjoyed its spunky, piney fragrance for weeks until one morning I was trimming up my window garden and realized it had died seemingly overnight. It sat there brown and shriveled, it's little branches still full and intact. I nearly threw it away in my disappointment, until I realized it would go well in some incense. So I carefully preserved it and put it away for use later. 'Later' came sooner than expected with the death of one of my favorite people. The rosemary I had carefully preseved went into a batch of incense I made up to burn in  her memory. Normally I would have only had a few spoons of rosemary to cook with and would have had to purchased enough for spellwork.

As I ground the herbs, it occurred to me that the little rosemary plant knew its purpose long before I did...and thus the Mystery did provide for a need. In the last few days I have made that same protective funeral incense two more times, in memory of a friend taken by cancer, and for another friend's father who passed away just this afternoon. Usualy I made this particular blend no more than once a year, usually at Samhain. But now...I have made it three times in the space of less than a month, and I will curate another batch to celebrate the crossing of the Veil by the Beloved Dead at the end of October.

It is a simple recipe: 1 part lavendar,1 part rose petals, and two parts rosemary. Grind the ingredients fine by hand, while speaking your intention over the bowl. Add by pinches to a burning charcoal. The incense has a floral, woodsy aroma. You can adjust the ingredients as you like. You can also make an offering oil version with fresh ingredients added to a light carrier oil such as sunflower oil. Let it sit at least a week and strain and shake befoe using.

And so it is...all is well, and all is well.