Beltane Lovers

Sliver of maiden moon,
slight as a bride, in swelling expectation,
rushing through the ceremony,
mind on the consummation.
Beltane blossom, tight petal lips
raised in prayerful longing,
Tides rise to peaking, nature sings,
every beast beseeching
in the whispering pines,
“Come hither!
I am the one!
Choose me!”

Balefires burn, sparks flying,
the god descends to join his lover,
and nature becomes their bower,
singing the songs of wanting,
languid in each exquisite moment,
savoring it on the tongue like nectar, intoxicating.

Fingers twist in her hair,
there is strength there.
Universe thrumming,
the earth herself arches,
and they dance again,
in sabbat sweat and salt,
enticing spice of wood smoke,
erotic perfume, blossom unfurling,
flesh yearning for that sacred heat
and surrender to the burning.

Veils fall, like their clothes tossed aside,
hearts open, minds wide, enraptured,
each tender touch, entangling.
Too late now, tides sweep them away.
Each kiss, deeper than the last,
blossom wide and opened for the plucking,
leaning into his light 
to be taken.

Winter ices melt, flowing together,
merging, boundaries blurring,
acceptance of different waters
rising and falling,
as one body, one temple,
erected 
where her goddess meets his god
and the Universe screams their Divine names.
A liturgy of union, a song of salvation
from separation is sung, a duet at last.
Swimming those deep waters,
he made the quest, seeking,
fearless Knight of Cups,
who knew the mystery 
and could drink
from her holy grail, eternally.

Beltane lovers, King and Queencups-queen
walking the limits of
 seen and unseen,
hers for the merging,
hearts bound, hands fasted,
a perfect circle, returning.
As it is above; it is true below,
their cup overflows in affirmation.
To every query,
 answers the resounding 
YES!
“I am here;
You are the one;
I choose you!”

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Darkness Naming

I wrote this poem several years ago as I was struggling through the many pains of separation and divorce. Sometimes when all the feels build up, poetry is a way that I release the pressure before doing something that would be harmful.

Darkness Naming
by Heron Michelle

There is a darkness
rising from my fetid depths, roiling,
stomach bile and acrid steaming,
pressure builds to whistle screaming,
the tweak and grate of countless irritating rubs
against my grain; I am raw.

Do I name this dark carbonated rising
to pop the toxic bubbles before I blow?
Self-inflicted–no–allowed woundings,
old nemeses–no–partners in crime,
intimately known, yet loathed,
for the yucky, shameful feelings that they crow.

Bigotry, pop.
Degradation, pop.
That hilt in my back, pop.
Lost love, friends, respect, pop, pop, pop.
Blindness and delusion, pop.
An idealistic young woman who with each unholy lick and suck
swallows what was sacred, and mine–bitch–POP.
My own youthful idealism, pop.
Michelle, pop.

I’m laid bare in my own shadow,
open and oozing, bomb diffusing
dazed from the naming,
splattered with the film of teary splashes,
dark, iridescent and shining.

Names of darkness banished to
in-consequence, evaporating,
hopefully forgotten.
What remains needs renaming,
Yet I still don’t know if my
last name
can be
released.

In the beginning: the word according to my own Inner Divinity

In the Beginning… the Word according to Me

On a message board many years ago I made some tactless comments that expressed my disbelief in Creationist theory and I offended a member who is a Christian Wiccan.  Personally, I accept scientific theory to describe the natural world and can integrate that with my spiritual beliefs very easily. I think my spiritual beliefs grew up around my studies of science, actually. Anyway, I was asked this:

“…the tone of your reply sounds rather “agnostic” in nature, and wonder that you can walk any  spiritual path with such a viewpoint. By and large, most spiritual beliefs, by defintion, are scientifically unprovable. I’d like to get your input on what your world view is, origins wise, and how science (or what is considered mainstream science) proves your origins world view, and how that fits in with your spiritual belief system. “

It was so timely because I seem to be talking about this a lot lately, in several venues with different people. I’ve been constructing my own theories about the nature of Deity, their relationship to human beings and the origins of the universe. So, I offered this bit of my own philosophy for the consideration of my peers:

So this is why I consider myself a panentheist… I present my origin story with a little playfulness, but this is merely my own personal origin story and in no way more correct than anyone else.

The “WORD” According to My Own Inner Divinity:

In the beginning, before there was time, there was the ALL, Deity, Great Spirit or the Source of all energy within the universe. Everything, a singularity without dimension, without darkness or light that simply, WAS. Within the ALL a dream bloomed–a dream of infinite possibility. In a micro-second the All that WAS, chose to be OTHERWISE and threw itself outward in the great cosmic orgasm.

Impetus to grow and change was born. In that first micro-second, all of matter came into manifestation and polarized. The Deity split into particle and anti-particle, matter and dark matter, light and dark, male and female. All matter and energy were still inter-connected, woven together like warp and weft of a tapestry. In this first micro-second, natural cycles began to turn: Birth, growth, change, death back to energy form, to rest then try again and be reborn anew.

“Immanence: refers to philosophical and metaphysical theories of the divine as existing and acting within the mind or the world. ”

The male and female, or god and goddess, if you will, danced in love and creation, continuously changing and morphing as they dreamed new dreams, merging in new ways. A star, or a galaxy, a new hybrid of flower cross-pollinated by the bee that is also a part of Deity. Time was of no consequence to Deity. They are the energy of chemical bonds and the elements they bind. The force that holds the orbiting electron *and* the electron itself. They are the great “Why” and the unanswered “Because.” Their essence is ineffable and yet their ways are measurable and definable as the natural laws of physics and categorical in the language of biology. Deity as matter and biological life evolved one cycle at a time into all of their dreams–and continues to do so. Those languages of science are evolving and changing, presumably drawing closer to the truth through trial and error.

Deity motivates life to continue, prods us on through instinct and intuition, inspiring us through our own dreams, but is integral to matter, bound to the elements. We relate to those elements as air, fire, water and earth in balance with Deity/Spirit (as expressed in the pentagram) Deity is not *actually* dressed up in a skirt or pants…neither listening, ignoring or ambivalent to us, neither gracing some with blessings nor smiting those who transgress against them. However, when Deity manifests as a human being it comes into harmony with a sentient mind and gains consciousness. It is then that they are given a voice, and a choice between good or evil, to be a benefit or a harm. As manifest Deities, we choose how to influence others and effect the universe, calling into manifestation our own blessings or harms. When we work magick, it is like saying a prayer, but we are also answering that prayer by tapping our inner self–the spirit that is still part of the Great Spirit, or Deity. But we are also tapping something far greater than what dwells within us…that synergistic effect…that greatness that transcends this reality, this dimension, time or space.

“Transcendence: in theology, the state of a deity who is above all creation in the sense of being ‘greater than,’ rather than ‘apart from’ ”

“Synergy: The simultaneous joint action of separate parts which, together, have greater total effect than the sum of their individual effects.”

I also resonate with the metaphor of Deity being like a many-faceted jewel. Depending on your perspective, you could visualize Deity with infinite faces, forms, names, or cultures. There are as many facets to this jewel as there are people observing the stone, and particles in the universe, but we are all talking about the same mystery–the same ALL, and they are all equally possible and valid. Quantum physics indicates that the outcome of an experiment changes based on the observer. I think we dream this reality into existence because we are part of the divine mind. When the scientist studies the nature of the universe, it is actually a piece of Deity, turning a mirror back upon itself and putting itself into words and images. Science would then be the self-exploration of “God.”

Wrap your head around that!

Creating Sacred Space for the Interfaith AIDS service, Nov. 30, 2012

This is the language we used Nov. 30, 2012 at the Interfaith AIDS service held at the First Christian Church.  We were given the opening slot, just after the welcome, as a means of creating sacred space. I did introduce us, who we are, our neo-pagan tradition of Modern Witchcraft, with a little explanation of how we revere the sacred in nature and create our temples wherever we may be from the Divine energy of nature.

I tried something different than our typical way, weaving together the quarter call, with the statement of intent, utilizing the teachings of the Witches’ Pyramid of Power, and some weaving magick for change through this prayer and evocation.  My companion struck the singing bowl to begin, call, and close. We had amazing feedback from many people after the service. It truly was an honor to be there. 🙂

Blessings of the East and of Air! We welcome you to this sacred space. Come yellow dawn and soaring eagle. Come intellect, wisdom and clear-communication for the highest good of our community! Air! Open our minds and grant us understanding, and the knowledge we need to overcome this disease that threatens our kindred. Amplify our voices to be resoundingly heard. Help us to speak our truths even when it is difficult. Bring the winds of change! Let reason, and sensibility guide us in this battle we wage against the AIDS epidemic. Grant us also the power to WONDER, so that our eyes are opened to new ways of thinking, to relinquish judgement and the powerlessness brought by rigidity! Help us to discover new truths as they are revealed through our search for knowledge! Powers of Air, bless our researchers, scientists and leaders. Inspire us all! With Gratitude, Welcome, Air!

Blessings of the South and of Fire! We welcome you to this sacred space. Come red noon and baying wolf! Come action, transformation and change for the highest good of our community! Fire! Open our Will and grant us the energy and fierce passion to create change so that we may overcome this disease that threatens our kindred. Intensify our determination, give us the strength we need to keep up the good fight in this battle against the AIDS epidemic. Grant us the grace to surrender to the transformative fires that will temper us during this time of travail, burning away old behaviors, fears and outmoded ideas that no longer serve our highest good! May we align our personal will with the Divine will of love, healing and balance. Powers of Fire, bless our activists and warriors in their work for change. Embolden us all! With gratitude, Welcome, Fire!

Blessings of the West and of Water! We welcome you to this sacred space! Come blue twilight and watchful crow! Come dreams, compassion, and empathy for the highest good of our community! Water! Open our hearts and grant us the fearlessness we need to DARE to break free from these banks that confine us, to overflow, cutting new trails, flowing past all social, institutional and human-constructed boundaries, without discrimination, washing us clean from old, harmful emotions. Teach us your lessons of acceptance for all our brethren with unconditional love. Let these waters of love raise us all up, ebbing and flowing in the surety of your cycles, so that we will be victorious in our battle against the AIDS epidemic. Grant us also the grace to accept the reality of our situation. May we understand and honor where we are NOW in this battle, and all that we’ve already accomplished, so that we may determine how best to get to where we need to be. As we grieve for our lost loved ones, and care for those who are suffering, may we all find comfort, peace and rest on the journey. Powers of water, bless our healers and spiritual leaders in their work. Stir our hearts! With gratitude, Welcome Water!

Blessings of the North and of Earth! We welcome you to this sacred space! Come black midnight and slumbering bear! Come stability, foundation, manifestation of all that will serve the highest good of our community. Earth! Open our ears and grant us the silence we need to Listen as The Divine answers our prayers, to trust in the process, to be patient. Allow our bodies, minds and spirits the opening to potential, and the broadening and deepening of our faith. Grant us also the ability to hold this space, this void of ultimate potential, so that we may bring forth the fullness from that place of emptiness. That we find the light in the darkness.  Grant understanding that in all of nature, life is a cycle.  For every down-swing, there must be an upswing. For every death there is a birth and we will overcome all adversity in this battle against the AIDS epidemic! Powers of Earth, bless our law-makers, civil-servants and builders in their work. Strengthen us all!! With gratitude, Welcome Earth!

Blessings of the Center! Great Spirit within us, around us, weaver and woven one, dreamer and dream! One Source known by many names and many faces, envisioned now in the minds of each of your beautiful children in this sacred space. (Pause) Nurture and protect us, awaken within us your unconditional love. Awaken within us that connection that we all share. Empower us all as we fulfill your great work within our community. Be with us now in this sacred space! Above and Below, Welcome, Spirit!

Fulcrum

I’m not handling my approach to my 40th birthday with much grace nor serenity. The fact that my back is all screwed up and causing me to move like a senior citizen doesn’t help the situation, either. These are the after-effects of my pregnancies and carrying of toddlers long ago.  How about these popping joints, and waning vision and crop of new silver hairs? All of them tell a story of my life up until now. They are mile markers along this journey up the hill. This face looking back at me doesn’t quite match my inner vision any more, but oooohhh myyyy what these eyes have seen.

The weight of my responsibilities increases, and I can see them at the end of my day as the left side of my face further sags. During my separation five years ago I had several neurological episodes wherein that side of my face seized up for several minutes at a time. Shortly afterward I started to notice in photographs that side of my mouth and that eye not quite being symmetrical any more. The doctors tested me every way you can test and said there was nothing wrong with me, yet my eye sags.

You can say all you like that 40 isn’t “over the hill,” and “50 is the new 40” but my mom died suddenly at 59 from a cerebral hemorrhage that came completely out of the blue.  So, if I live to be 80 I will consider it a great gift. Here I arrive at the fulcrum of my life, and I’m sitting on top of this hill, getting the lay of the lands beyond. I find that it feels more like a precipice and there is shadow obscuring the valley below.  This is not what I had in mind when I set out on this journey of adulthood.   I have no idea where to go from here.  So, like the fool, I guess I’ll just have to throw my head back, and take that next step blindly. I have a feeling its a doozy.

The Fool card of the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck

Someone recently said to me that they “respect what I’m trying to do.”  They were speaking in regards to the fact that I’m a single mother who owns her own business, and home, and when I’m home alone with my two children who are 11 and 9, that it must be very hard to accomplish everything by myself. You know, because they can barely handle the same situation WITH their spouse and parent’s help, etc. They then suggested ways of reducing my burden by giving up my kids even more time than they are taken from me now. I cannot tell you how upsetting this was, nor of the depth of my offense. Though I ask myself WHY I have responded this way to what was trying so hard to be a supportive statement.
What I’m trying to do… trying. Not doing? Not succeeding? What am I trying to do here beyond play the hand that life dealt to me? How is this different from what anyone else is doing?

I am 40 and I’m still trying to do a great many things. I look back over the track behind me, and I see lots of wandering around lost in the woods, getting distracted, walking with monsters in charming disguises; There are demons I’ve faced, and demons still dogging my heals. I see where I dropped my self-respect, and I see where I picked it back up again. I see the fields of battle; some were victories, some tragedies. I see what I’ve built, and I see what was torn down into ruin. I see the fields I’ve sown, and what I’ve harvested. I also see the haunted grounds where I’ve buried the bones of many a precious loss.

Today I stand here on this precipice and I am aware that no matter how many souls travel with me, the journey is still ULTIMATELY a solo journey. We come into the flesh on our own, and we will leave the flesh in same way.  Sure, Maya, the illusion of separateness, yadda yadda, I get that, but in the flesh I face my lessons on my own and no one else can be blamed, nor praised, but myself; for better or for worse, my sickness or my health, my poverty or my wealth, as long as I live, it’s all me.

No one said that it would be easy to live a well-examined, thoroughly-activated life. If transcending beyond a petty, paranoid, fearful, hateful state of mind were easy, surely more people would do it.  I’m no fool, and this isn’t the beginning of this journey, so I’ll hold out my lantern, more like the hermit, and I’ll blunder on into the darkness. So be it.

“Do or do not; there is no try.”

RWS_Tarot_09_Hermit

The Hermit Card from the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck

The Thorny Path of the Public Witch: Stopping to Smell the Roses

Roses bleed thorns by Angelicscreams

Back in April of 2014, I was honored to lecture at Pitt Community College within two World Religion classes on the subject of neo-paganism and Modern Witchcraft. I’ve done this once or twice a semester for several professors in recent years. I also was privileged to be part of a discussion panel on the intersection of LGBT issues, gender identity, and religion at East Carolina University, my alma mater.

I was invited to do these things because I own the local Metaphysical store* through which I privately teach a year-round training course I call, Modern Witchcraft 366: The Art, Science and Psychology of Nature-based Spirituality. I’m currently learning from the 5th year of students who are turning this wheel with me. I love them all. They’ve helped me find the roses along the thorny path when I’ve needed them most.

Not everyone can be a public witch; not everyone should be, as this really is a very private and subtle path not suited to many. They don’t call these “mystery teachings” for nothing!  However, the Gods demanded this of me and, I believe, have groomed me for it since I was a child. They first called me to action as a young teenager and I tried to ignore that call for 15 years. (For that story, check out this blog.) Eventually, they removed every barrier to my work , took away every excuse I could think of to keep me from coming out of my broom closet, and shoved me out into plain view.

In many ways, on many days, I wish I didn’t have this cross to bear. Like Jesus in Gethsemane**, I often ask that I not have to drink from this particular cup–that this work not fall to me.  Alas, once you know, you cannot un-know; ignorance is a bliss I am not afforded in this lifetime.

However, despite the thorny path I’ve chosen to tread, there are still roses aplenty, and today I need to take some time to stop and smell those roses. Here are 10 things I love about my sacred work, which I see as the sharing with others of this “good news” when they seek me out; the good news of the Modern Witchcraft paradigm as I understand it.

In no particular order:
1) I love giving sacred permission to question everything, engage their minds, decide what is correct for themselves, discard what does not serve their highest good, no matter how old, nor how revered it may have been to someone else, nor what their parents think. The only blasphemy to the Divine Mind would be to stop thinking with yours.

Go back far enough and I promise you have pagan ancestors. What did they think?  EVERYONE has pagan ancestors; even Jesus; even Muhammad; even Siddhartha Gautama, no exceptions. They would be proud of you for having the courage to dig up those bones and roots, discover what they found to be sacred. You do them honor when you cease to be a mindless sheep.

2) I love the release of joy when I affirm that that they are sovereign beings worthy of dignity and respect, and I honor them as incarnate God/desses, no matter what their outer self looks like, nor who their inner self wants to be. I especially enjoy giving my LGBT listeners sacred permission to be themselves and love as they love, without hindrance.

3) I love the giggles, when I equate the Big Bang creation with the first cosmic orgasm between god/dess, and then quote “all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals” from the Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valiente. Modern Witchcraft remains, at it’s heart, a fertility religion. Yes, we affirm the natural-ness, necessity, and sacredness of sex, and not just for procreation. Sensuality and union are a Divine expression of that ecstasy of Spirit within the flesh.  Please, go forth and get some, but for God/dess’ sake, be good at it (and responsible, harming none.)

4) I love watching their brains sorta melt, meld, and blow open wide, as I over-lay quantum mechanics and modern sciences, with ancient mystery school teachings. You can actually *hear* the pop, whirr and sigh as the connections sync up in their thinking. The collective WOAH creates cosmic eddies that tingle my spine. Yes, your thoughts create the world. Let’s think up a better one!

5) I especially love it when a college student who needs to attend a ceremony for their world religion class, and claims to be an atheist, attends one of my guided meditations just to get a grade. Yet, and it happens time and time again, these folks with the LEAST expectations are usually the ones who, no shit, travel to the heavens and meet GOD–like a specific god/dess, or an ARCHangel–and very definite, very profoundly REAL things happen that are in complete alignment with occult wisdom of which they knew nothing.  Lives have been changed. I love it when the lid of black/white thinking is blown off.

6) I love when they *feel* their own power for the first time. When they connect to the flow of the Universe, and the unseen becomes tangible. The need for “belief” or “faith” evaporates because the toe-curling wonder is right before them to see, touch, feel, smell, and KNOW. I love when this ceases to be a question of religion and becomes the IS-ness. It just IS. It becomes the thing that cannot be denied or ignored.

7) I love introducing my first two rules of Witchcraft:

1:  Don’t burn the Witch. You know, basic fire safety!  Then, be careful not to conjure up what you can’t handle. Followed more importantly by NOT attacking and denigrating yourself; stop burning yourself at the stake! Love yourself first.  Most importantly, in the name of all things holy, PLEASE, stop attacking your fellows within the pagan community.  I am appalled that the term “Witch War” was ever coined.  Good grief, we have a hard enough time not being “burned” by the rest of society, if we can’t treat each other with respect, what are we playing at?

2: Don’t be the asshole. First I enjoy it for the laughs, then I love it when the deep responsibility of Divine Being blooms within them; knowing what it means to live life as a benefit, and not a detriment..  I love seeing them become the warrior, stand in their truth, living authentically, out loud, and yet doing so with their ego properly aligned with Divine Will;  being gracious and beautiful even when they need to crack a few heads and defend the boundaries–because today I am loving you by saying NO, and YOU SHALL NOT PASS whatever boundary is being trespassed. (I call this going Gandalf on someone.)

Even better, I love seeing them step back in peace and “hold the space,” centered in compassion and love, honoring that wounds drive the harmful behavior of others.  This way we can dismiss the drama and not engage in histrionics that cannot serve any good. That sort of discernment takes heart and courage and is all too rare in the world.

8) I love expanding the idea of love, and exploring the difference between the battleground paradigm of Abrahamic religions (Good vs. Evil) and the honeymoon paradigm based on the polarity of Goddess loving God.  We explore how the polar opposite of love grows from the root of fearing a lack of love. When I ask, “What are you afraid of?” and there is that deep, mournful, resonant A-HA it spreads across the face in the most painful of ways, but the tension releases. I see the wounds; I feel them, then into those tender places I whisper of interconnection, of acceptance, of unconditional Divine love from which we can never be separated. We ARE love. We have everything we need at our fingertips. We are blessed in our nature.

9) I love standing up in a crowded lecture hall, or church sanctuary, and saying out loud, “I am a witch and a priestess” and the fact that those words no longer catch in my throat, nor cause tears to flow, because I’ve now been able to say them so many times that I can have that courage where others might not…yet.  Perhaps they can someday find their own courage because I opened the way.  I love it that no stones are thrown, no pitchforks raised, no blazing inferno ensues. I love it that room upon room of eastern North Carolina people now have had a moment when a reasonable person who defies the stereotypes***, claiming to be something they previously thought was malignant and terrifying, was actually just a decent neighbor of theirs, who made them feel good about themselves. I hope they all went out and told a few friends what they heard me say and that changed the world just a little bit for the better.

10) I love it when my customers preface a question with “This might sound crazy….” and I can honestly say that no questions are crazy, nor stupid or weird to me anymore. Chances are, they are probably just singing the song of our people. Its nice to find out you have “people.” I do enjoy making those introductions.

They ask me, “Is this all in my head?” I answer,  “Yes, but you have no idea how big your head is.”

* The Sojourner Whole Earth Provisions, 414 S. Evans Street, Greenville, NC 27858 www.thesojo.com

**Yes, I referenced Jesus the Nazarene. The shock that I cause by being well educated about the life of Jesus is my 11th favorite thing to do as a witch.

***Ok, I am owned by 2 black cats, named Mad Madam Mim and Nagira, and a grey, fluffy girl named Bellaluna (the witchiest three cats you’ve ever met) but other than that… IMG_7473