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'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 [] .

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.”

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.

Monday, July 22, 2019

When A Wizard Comes To Call

Oberon Zell stopped over on his walkabout in March.( Okay, I am still a little stunned to hear myself say that.)  Earlier in the year I was reading his Facebook page, and he mentioned that he was making a walkabout to various festivals and appearances and would be needing lodging to make his way more affordable . It would also give him the opportunity to meet people and make new friends.

I have been an admirer of Oberon and Morning Glory's writing for nearly all of my journey through Paganism. They were there in the beginning with the first legally registered Neo-Pagan Church (Church of All Worlds, or CAW). 

Church of All Worlds is a remarkable concept in spirituality which allows for individual spiritual exploration while providing a like-minded community from all over the United States and the World.
I have used texts from CAW and HOME ( Holy Order of Mother Earth) for many years in my own and public rituals and because of their wonderful diversity and viewpoints that have always worked beautifully. Oberon writes in the congenial voice of a beloved elder...which he most certainly is.

Long story short...I PMed him and offered a place to rest and share a few meals on his journey, and much to my surprise, one day he called. During the conversation, and considering that people have all sorts of dietary preferences these days, I asked what he ate. "Oh, food." he replied mischievously. I swear I could see the twinkle in his eye over the phone.

I am not usually star struck because I have worked as a production assistant in the entertainment business for many years. Celebrities are a unique breed of individuals, and their needs ( and demands!) are equally unique. I have become quite unflappable and immune to the wonderful weirdness that spills over from celebrity....but I was totally tongue tied ( and embarrassed to be so) with the Wizard OZ on the phone. I was gobsmacked that he actually called because my little corner of Southwestern Virginia is rather remote. But call he did and we made arrangements for his visit in late March.

As we don't have too many universally accepted elders in our Pagan community, I am quite honored to have shared my home with a man I consider to be the Father of the Neo-Pagan movement. Hopefully I don't sound too gushy, but it was an absolute thrill to have the unique opportunity to share  the evening with such a charming and knowledgeable man. He is truly a scholar, a treasure trove of history and science...a humble and a wonderful conversationalist, a bawdy trickster, with not a pretentious bone in his body. He is kind and appreciative, and throughout dinner ( at which I served some truly awful wine-sorry!) we plumbed the depths of one another's respective intellect through lively, serious and sometimes silly conversation. What did we talk about? Everything! Mermaids and Paganism, people who are mutual acquaintances, his art work, love, aliens, the Grey School,religion, CAW...and Morning Glory.  Out brief conversation about her was especially poignant for me, as I have always held her as the embodiment of the Goddess. How I wish she could have been at the table with us, but actually, in hindsight, she was. I wish I'd set a place for her.

It was a night to remember, at least for me. Not the last, I hope. The Wizard OZ is a rather enchanting fellow. I am pleased to have been able to have given back just a little to one who has contributed so much to the person and spiritual practitioner I have become.

Bright Blessings, my Friend! There is a light in the window for you, and the door is always open.

Good Journey Home: Rosmary Ellen Guiley Dies

So sad to hear of the sudden passing of beloved author Rosemary Ellen Guiley, a pioneer of paranormal exploration and occult subjects. If you aren't familiar with her work (who isn't?) look her up. The author of too many books to mention her, she also wrote several encyclopedias. I cannot fathom what a huge undertaking that must have been for a single encyclopedia, much less several.

Visit her Facebook page for remembrances from around the world. As we grieve her passing there unfolds a certain beauty in knowing that she's finally found the answers to many of the questions she had about the realms of existence in our universe and beyond. Rosemary now knows the Great Unknown Mysteries.

Hail the Traveler and Good Journey to her as she transitions to the next wonderful life in the Summerland.

A Few Words On Sacred Waters

As a Pisces, I am naturally drawn to the element of water. Running water is among my favorite sounds. I have sat mesmerized by a stream watching the water rush over rocks and carrying leaves downstream. I love all manner of water: the a fore mentioned rushing streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, oceans, and rain. The place I'm most drawn to are spots where the water bubbles up through the aquifer to form what many call a "sacred well".

All water originating from a natural source is sacred. There is no need for it to be blessed by anyone- it has been blessed by the Goddess at the moment of Creation. The act of ritual blessing is a reaffirmation of that original sanctification.

We are born from the depths of our mother's womb in water, and before that at our primordial emergence. I won't argue theology or dogma about the subject, because I believe all the creation stories - most featuring the element of water- are true. I believe they come together, as many of our stories do, each contributing an essential part in our history.

There are few places we can drink the water unfiltered and unprocessed. I mourn for the state of our natural waters, particularly the oceans where so many creatures I consider relatives dwell. Humans have done more unintentionally and through outright denial and ignorance to pollute and defile our precious oceans. We continue to do this, through sheer greed and want of financial gain.To be perfectly honest, I don't have an answer about how to really reverse the damage we've done other than to encourage each of us to do what we can to restore this shared habitat.  You do whatever you can, and I will do what I can by actively and  individually working to  hold these places as unique, special and holy. If that means going down to the local stream once a week and picking up trash and debris, or participating in an organization that focuses on environmental issues through protest or monetary the work. Then bring it to your altar so the gods can see you are doing the work.

Meanwhile, remember that your purification bath is much more than washing away negativity before is a blessing, because water is a sacred thing.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Under Attack

For the last several months I've been battling a form of malware called "Widget Server", which redirects my blog when I sign in. now...I can beat it to open the page and post, other times I'm blocked accessing my own blog.

It's getting rather old. There are ways to remove it, but I haven't been successful, so I'm currently leaving the page up so I can write and post. Blogger seems to offer no solutions, but frankly, I like the format and don't care for the others I've seen, including Word press. I don't want adds on my blog unless I put them there myself ( occasionally I will post in support of a friend's business).

Malwarebites says the fix ix simple, but so far I haven't been able to fix the problem.

Hang in there, gang. I'm not easily beaten.