Heron in Flight…to New Hampshire!

Well, the deed is done. My first posting on The Agora page at Patheos is up.
I’m both excited and a wee bit nauseated. As we approach the Blue Moon in Leo, I hope that this new opportunity will bring good things, that ego and drama stay in their rightful alignment, and benefits flow for all involved. So mote that be!

Witch on Fire: Lammas Sacrifice and the Sacred Mission

Tomorrow morning,  I fly up to Boston to be greeted by my sweetheart–who, for the record, just drove 35 hours from Utah to pick me up at the airport and help me bring the vending equipment and camping needs. Isn’t he just the best fella ever? <dreamy swoon> <sigh> He then joins me as we continue the journey to Templefest, in New Hampshire, the Lammas Festival hosted by The Temple of Witchcraft.  Here, I will be presenting a few of my workshops and vending my custom hennaed leather goods, and offering henna body art.

If you are in the area, come and say hello!

Friday, 7:30 pm: Red Tent
The Great Work: Elements, Sun, Moon and Stars for Magickal Advancement

This workshop offers an approach for spiritual and magickal work by integrating the tides of Elemental, Solar, Lunar and Astrological cycles,  thus laying out a year-long map of energetic tides, and planning magickal workings within the Wheel of the Year to experience a deep spiritual exploration, with balance, for the advancement of your personal evolution.

Sunday 11:00 am: Yellow Tent
Thealogy of Perfection: Four Rules of Modern Witchcraft for Sovereignty

A comedic, yet memorable, approach to the thealogy of “Perfect love and perfect trust,” and the explorations of what it means to be a sovereign Witch, co-existing beneficially in a world of Divine Love.  These “Four Rules” form the cornerstones of my teaching, weaving together answers to questions like: What do we mean by Divine Love? What is “harm” and how can I do no harm, but take no sh!t?  How can I evolve my power and ability, while regaining healthy balance, in alignment with my highest Divine Will?  How can a group of sovereign witches work together as a coven without Witch-splosions? These guidelines offer a beneficial perspective to any magickal/spiritual practice, drawing inspiration from the sacred poetry of Wicca, Hermetic principles, and direct revelation from the Goddess of Love, Aphrodite/Venus.

 

My inventory of hennaed leather products.

My inventory of hennaed leather products.

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Lessons in the Blood

It was just a little over a year ago that I almost perished. I wasn’t taking good care of myself, worried over money and skipping meals. I worked long hours one day, and other than the coffee at work, neither drank nor ate adequately. That night, a friend showed up at the shop with a bottle of wine, and we drank a few glasses on an empty stomach. Not advisable.

<Flash forward>

It is the witching hour (3:00 am) and I wake up with a thirst so great that it actually felt like a life or death emergency–complete with sense of panic. I rushed to the kitchen with only the moonlight through the windows to guide the way. I was in a cold sweat, yet burning hot, nauseous, and my arms felt heavy when I raised them to the cabinet for a glass. I stood there in my white nightshirt as the filtered water from the fridge door dispenser poured in. I turned into the doorway to the living room intending to sit down and made it one more step, having not yet taken a single sip…

I’m guessing that low blood pressure, possibly low blood sugar, and obvious dehydration caused me to faint. I know now that I had a ridiculously low vitamin D deficiency, too, that maybe had something to do with it.

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I have no idea who these perfomers are, but don’t they look theatrical with their fainting?

Fainting is something you see in the movies a lot more than it actually happens in real life. I’ve never seen anyone *actually* faint, so it was just a caricature to me–a movie stunt.

What happened next is remembered more like an out-of-body experience. The memory is of “throwing” my consciousness across the room, visualized like an old, men’s overcoat, heavy and thick, and that it crumpled with a clunk across the coffee table as if the pockets were full of rocks.  I remember a disembodied sensation of violent, awkward pain, as my chin met the edge of the coffee table, that my head almost wrenched free of my neck. I felt very heavy and boney as my chest scraped down the edge of the table, and that the floor hit me rudely hard. This memory is two-fold, both that I was the “coat,” so irreverently cast aside, and I was also observer who threw me and watched me crumple and thunk.

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Where I woke up in the living room next to the TV Cabinet. OUT OUT DAMNED SPOT!

How long I lay there, I don’t know. It felt like a long time that I lay bleeding into the carpet, dreaming.  Eventually, I realized that I was very cold, and wondered who stole my covers. Followed closely by, why am I sticky? Slowly I became aware of my blood-wet hair clinging to my face, tangled in my eye lashes…that there were blue lights too close to my face for this to be my bed…oh yeah, those are the lights from the Wii in the TV cabinet….

Where am I? Why am I…?

That is when I noticed the searing pain and touched my face.. that sticky wet was everywhere. Then the nausea…and the gut-wrenching thirst. I tried to sit up, but when my head was raised higher than my heart, I nearly fainted again.  So I marine crawled first to the bathroom, leaving a trail of bloody prints on floors, light switches and counters. I wanted a mirror…but seeing what I was at that moment didn’t help. I thought I’d drink from the sink, but the black edges would crowd in whenever I stood up, and there was no cup.

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One of the places I fainted briefly, crawling back through to the kitchen past the original glass I dropped.

I crawled on hands and knees back through the broken glass I’d dropped in the living room to get to the kitchen again, fainting once in the middle, creating a second bloody puddle, but I made it to the kitchen sink and guzzled down cup after cup of tap water as fast as I could between stints lying on the cold vinyl floor.

I think I lost consciousness a total of 4 times, briefly, before I made it back to my bed, threw back the blankets and lay there under the ceiling fan on the white sheets, so not caring what I was ruining. I was covered in my own blood from head to feet, in a flop-sweat, heart racing, and praying to all that is holy that I may keep living.

I did consider calling 911. I will confess to you that, at that moment, I chose to tempt death rather than rack up a medical bill I have no ability to pay. I wanted to call the man I was engaged to at the time, but it was 4:00 in the morning, and he lived 3 hours away. I knew he would pack his kids into the car, and drive directly to me, but that would only cause him difficulty, and to what end? So, I chose to persevere and not send him into a crazed panic on the highway.

I honestly thought I might die alone in the dark.  Mind you, I am not in the least bit afraid of dying, when the time comes.  Actually, I look forward to the Next Big Adventure, while being in no hurry to get there, but as I lay there praying to my guides, focusing on the Reiki energy I tapped into, and allowing the water to work it’s magic, I thought about many difficult things.

I thought about how in recent years, I’d been bricking myself into a tower away from the intimacy of true friendships, for fear of losing anyone else that I loved. If I keep them at a distance, I can keep them.

Anger I thought long dealt with welled to the surface; anger at my ex-husband for leaving me to be alone at this moment. Even anger that he had my 11 and 9 year old children at his house and I had no one to cry out for. Where was my promise of “in sickness and in health?”

Then, I thought of my mother who had been in a loving, inspirational marriage, but as fate would have it, died almost 7 years before, snuffed out in a matter of moments from a cerebral hemorrhage while alone. My step-dad was out of state on a fishing trip. Mind you, she called her mother who lived two doors down, and she came running to find her brain-dead on the floor. *My* mommy is dead; I live far away from my family. So who do *I* call to come running?

I thought about many things as I waited for those life-giving waters to work their way through my system. What if I *did* die at that moment?  How long would it be before someone noticed I was missing at work? Courtney, my co-worker, would probably find me…would have to call…I dunno…who do you call when you find someone dead? That thought caused me to feel embarrassed, an imposition, not fair to her…

Who would comfort my children? Who would soften the harshness of their father who does not tolerate the expression of unpleasant emotions?  Would someone else carry on running The Sojourner? I spent time thinking of all the work still left undone.

I remembered, to my horror, that I’d never updated my will since my divorce!  The nurturing of my children, all my assets, and all my dreams, would fall to the person who’d treated me like last week’s garbage, then dumped me off at the curb; all my endeavors would go to shit if I died, and that was reason enough to live!

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BRAINS! Yes, I am posting a zombie picture of me for all the internet to see…I’ve selectively clipped it so as to protect you from the worst of it.

Drinking the water was enough to restore me.  Eventually, I got up, faced myself in the mirror, and took this picture for proof of the horror I’d become. Then I sat in the shower as the water swirled with red down the drain.

In the end, I needed a few band-aids, an aspirin and a few months for the giant knot of a bone-bruise on my chin to heal on it’s own. I am glad I did not waste thousands of dollars of my kid’s grocery money on an ambulance trip because I was too careless to drink a glass of water and have a meal while they were gone.

Moments of clarity like these do not happen randomly, not to witches. These kinds of revelations are like the Universal Gong ringing so loudly in your consciousness, that all your thoughts just fall into harmonious rhythm with Highest Divine Mind.  It is sometimes called the Cosmic Clue-by-Four smacking you upside the…chin…in this instance. You can’t help but walk away from that moment a transformed person.

I realized how precious and delicate human life truly is; how stupidly easy it was to kill yourself through neglect.  I also realized that it was very important to me to live on and raise my kids myself.  I know now that no matter who I have in my life, my home, my heart –ultimately– I entered this life alone, I am solely responsible for my survival while here, and I’ll depart this life alone, but it is up to me to make that trip a healthy one. I was reminded that I have to cultivate the support structure of relationships that I desire.

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See? As my little children would say, all I needed was a “boo boo bandaid” to make it all better…

This all comes to mind because the wheel of the year turns back to these anniversaries once again; of that long hard stare into the maw of death last winter; of the long-distance engagement that ended shortly thereafter on my 40th birthday, of my mother’s death on the day of my 33rd birthday party.  While I recognize the passage of these difficult milestones in time, today I am grateful for the lessons they taught me —  yet did not kill me — so that I can enjoy the miracle of my life as it is unfolding now, with the correct people.

You know how witchy folks like to say that every moment is both a death and a rebirth? Those were just the labor pains that delivered me into this new, independent life I enjoy as I prepare to celebrate my 41st birthday. It has been a bumpy ski down the slope of that “hill” I went over last year, but DAMN what a thrilling ride!  I couldn’t be happier, and I’m much healthier now.

Thank you, Cosmic Clue-by-Four. I remain open to your lessons, but next time, I humbly request that the experience not leave my house looking like a scene from Pulp Fiction, nor require professional carpet cleaning to remove blood from ALL THE THINGS. Though, I’ll keep these scars as a gentle reminder.

Happy (almost) birthday to me!
Cheers!
~Heron

Vegan Recipes: Thai Autumn Squash Casserole

Thai Autumn SquashAt Thanksgiving this year, I set out to recreate my favorite holiday flavors as vegan dishes because I’d invited my sweetheart to join my family, and as far as I’m concerned, the way you love someone is to respect their personal choices in support of their health.  That being said, there is absolutely no reason that creative people must suffer through anything less than the yummiest of foods. You truly can have your vegan, gluten-free cake, and eat it too! Yes, we made a ham and deviled eggs for the omnivores, but on the side-dishes, going vegan was not only easy to do, but stunningly delicious! Necessity is the mother of invention!

I started this “Thai Autumn Squash” recipe as an answer to the age old “sweet potato casserole” requirement we seem to have in my family. I have never liked that dish, floating in marshmallows and cloyingly sweet. So, I began with the basic idea in my Autumn Harvest Bisque recipe, but rather than a soup, I aimed for a whipped and baked in a casserole dish idea. Plus, my sweetheart made some amazing tamari roasted pecans that I used as a topping!

Thai Autumn Squash Casserole (Vegan, gluten free)

3 acorn squash, prepared

1 butternut squash, prepared

1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped

1/2 cup diced onion

1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic

3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin organic coconut oil

3 teaspoons yellow curry powder

1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger

1 tablespoon chopped fresh lemongrass

1/3 cup mulled apple cider (mulled with clove, cinnamon, allspice and orange peel.)

1 cup coconut milk

6 tablespoons organic, gluten-free tamari sauce

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon berbere powder, or paprika

1/4 cup maple syrup (Organic,Grade B is best.)

1 cup chopped sweet tamari pecans

Pull out your electric mixer, if you have one.

Ahead of time you can mull some apple cider by slowing warming on the stove, or in a crock pot, a gallon of apple cider with 1 tablespoon each of whole clove, whole allspice, and an orange peel, with 1 cinnamon stick. Let soak for a few hours, then remove the spices and enjoy as a warming holiday beverage, but save out 1/3 cup for the squash! Prepare your Sweet Tamari Pecans ahead of time, according to this recipe over at Lipbone Redding’s blog, but try not to eat them all! Save about 1/2 cup for the squash.

Autumn squashes are notoriously tough and difficult to peel. I think it is easiest to just prick the skin of the butternut squash with a fork a bunch of times, then put in the microwave on a plate, and cook on high for 5 minutes, then give it a cold bath in ice water. After it has cooled enough to touch, the peeling should strip away with a vegetable peeler pretty easily. Cut in half, scoop out and discard the seeds/pulp, then dice up the remaining squash. IMG_8409To prepare the acorn squash, I quarter them, scoop out and discard the pulp/seeds, then place raw side up in a casserole dish with about a 1/4 inch of water in the bottom, cover with foil, then bake at 350 degrees for about half an hour. Remove from oven, let cool. I then use a spoon to scoop out the squashy goodness, discarding the peels. IMG_8411Go ahead and peel/chop the apple, garlic, onion, ginger and lemongrass. In a large, deep skillet, (I used my electric skillet) heat up the coconut oil over medium high heat and saute the onions until glossy, then add the acorn and butternut squash. Saute for about 5 more minutes, then add the apple, garlic, curry, ginger and lemongrass and the mulled apple cider. Reduce heat to medium, and stir frequently for 5-10 more minutes as the liquid reduces and it caramelizes a bit. It is done when the apples are mashable.Remove from heat and transfer to a mixing bowl, get out the electric mixer, if you have one.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With the electric mixer, whip the vegetable mixture with the coconut milk, tamari sauce, black pepper and berbere powder (or paprika) until smooth and fluffy. Taste-test and adjust salt and pepper to suit your preference. Spoon into a casserole dish and smooth flat. Sprinkle the chopped sweet tamari pecans evenly over the top, then drizzle the maple syrup over the top. Bake at 350 degrees, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. VOILA! This recipe served 6-8 people with left-overs.

See also my Vegan Recipes: Marinated Collard Greens post.

Vegan Recipes: Marinated Collard Greens

When you invite someone you love over to dinner, it is only fair to try and accommodate their dietary needs and choices, yes? Well, I happen to love intrepid musician and vegan, Lipbone Redding, and preparing him delicious food is one of my favorite ways to show him how much I care about him. He is also a spectacular cook who keeps me fed with healthy, amazing meals all the time, so I decided to take my turn in the kitchen.

This Thanksgiving, I took on the challenge to create a feast fit for all the various omnivorous preferences of my family and friends, and I think I came up with some truly delicious and surprising vegan twists on traditional foods that, in my opinion, were better than anything I’ve made before, (delicious) animal products aside.  I’d like to share with you all the new recipes I’ve developed!

Over two days of feasts we served:

  • Spiral cut ham prepared by my friend Kari for the carnivores.
  • Deviled Eggs (Vegetarian)
  • Caprese Salad of grape tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil with a balsamic glaze (Vegetarian)
  • Marinated Collard Greens (Vegan)
  • Fusion Autumn Squash with Sweet Tamari Pecans (Vegan)
  • Mulled Fruit Compote (Vegan)
  • Whole Wheat Dressing with Mushroom Gravy (Vegan)
  • Beans and Barley (Vegan)
  • Baked Jack (Vegan)

Spicy Marinated Collard Greens

This recipe needs to be made at 24-48 hours prior to serving, as the collards are primarily “cooked” by the acid of the vinaigrette while refrigerating over-night.

Ingredients:

Two large bunches of fresh collard greens will make a LOT of cooked collards. I was serving 9 and intended to have left overs.

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil, about 6 tablespoons
  • 2-3 Cloves of chopped garlic
  • 1/2 C. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 C. Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 C. Organic, Gluten-free Tamari Sauce
  • 2 finely diced pickled Tabasco Peppers, plus 1/4 C. of the pepper vinegar
  • 3 Tbls. Whole Seed Mustard
  • 2-3 Tbls. Pure Maple Syrup (Start with 2, taste, and only add more if you like it sweeter, this depends on how hot your peppers are1)
  • 1 tsp. Berbere powder, a kind of smokey paprika from Ethiopia
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. sea salt

IMG_8406Directions:

Begin by washing the collard leaves thoroughly in a sink full of warm water and a healthy splash of white vinegar. Allow to mostly dry. Fold leaf in half along the thick spine, and cut the tough spine and stem away, discard. Stack three such leaves on top of each other, roll tightly and slice into thin ribbons, set aside in the largest mixing bowl you have, because there is going to be a lot of fresh leaves!
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After all leaves are prepared, heat a large wok, or frying pan, or in my case, an electric skillet, to medium high heat, and add about 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil, though I will admit that I just pour some into the pan without usually measuring. Add one pan worth of the greens, and with a pair of tongs, saute them, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes, then put a lid on the pan, and let steam for about 3 minutes more. Remove the cooked greens to a large, clean bowl. Repeat the process with another splash of olive oil, until all the greens are cooked and in the bowl. It took me 6 batches, so 6 splashes of Olive oil,  to cook them all. Stir all the batches together and allow to cool.

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I prepare the vinaigrette in a large, glass measuring cup, by adding all the remaining ingredients, then blending with a hand immersion blender, or you can add them all to a traditional blender, and puree them together. Pour about half the vinaigrette mixture over the greens, tossing to thoroughly spread the vinaigrette throughout.  Cover the greens tightly and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.  Occasionally, take them out and stir them up to redistribute the vinaigrette throughout the greens.  The acid in the vinegars will continue to “cook” the greens, and the next day you will find that their color has deepened. This actually protects the vital nutrients, while allowing them to become more digestible.
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Prior to serving, I place them in a large saute pan over low heat, and allow them to warm on the stove, or in a crock pot over low. I pour the remaining vinaigrette mixture into a bottle with pour-spout and serve that with the greens, so people can add more as they desire. Test for taste and add more sea salt or black pepper to suit your tastes.

Enjoy!

Stay tuned for posts on these recipes:

  • Fusion Autumn Squash with Sweet Tamari Pecans (Vegan)
  • Mulled Fruit Compote (Vegan)
  • Whole Wheat Dressing with Mushroom Gravy (Vegan)
  • Beans and Barley (Vegan)
  • Baked Jack (Vegan)

From Samhain Fires to Thanksgiving Feasts

IMG_8289The wheel of this year turns on, and I realize I haven’t properly blogged since the turning of Samhain-tides. Here we are a month past, as the seasons click forward to the American holiday of Thanksgiving. If you’ve been keeping up with this great work of mine, you will remember that this year I dedicated my spiritual pursuits to understanding better the meaning of “unconditional Divine love.”  What does “perfect love and trust” really mean? How do we practically apply that wisdom to human unions? I gave my service to Aphrodite/Venus and asked to be Her agent of love, beauty and grace in the world.

That is when everything went to shit.

To recap: I turned 40 and suddenly my health crapped out, as though the warranty suddenly ran out on this meat-suit, mostly concerning issues that challenged my sense of safety, beauty, sexiness, fertility–all the domains of Aphrodite were in an uproar. My hand-fasting was canceled and that relationships ended. For months I felt the thorns of what love is NOT, then as Litha turned, I was given the roses of what love SHOULD BE.

I’ve felt very strongly the loving presence of my maternal grandparents, Frances and Elmore, whose spirits visited me via a medium around Beltane, just as my former relationship was ending.  They were an amazing Pisces/Cancer couple, an inspiration to all who knew them. They were married as teenagers, and became a shining example of partnership until death they did part, over 50 years later. My grandma Frances only just crossed the veil to rejoin Elmore in May, and I couldn’t be happier for them now that they are reunited. I feel closer to them now more than ever!

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At Lammas, I participated in the Morrison Ritual, and finally remembered that “all acts of love and pleasure are Her rituals.” I was reminded that the point of life is to enjoy it and that is how we witches show devotion–how we worship–by making love to the world through our every word, thought and deed. I rededicated to life, and returned from mourning back into the land of the loving.

As Lammas turned to Mabon, in a mystical, magickal, synchronistic turn of fate, I reconnected with someone who, as it turns out, is the man of my dreams. And he was right here in my hometown THE WHOLE TIME. Go figure. This beautiful human being is a catalyst for a profound shift in my thinking, and my perspective on, well, everything. I’d known him as a distant acquaintance, and have been a fan of his music for years.   I have this *thing* for musicians <sigh.> We easily fell into time and step with each other, and so simply, so astonishingly, fell in love.  Despite everything, I will honestly say that I did not see that coming!  Yes, my dearies, it is true; I’ve enjoyed three life-changing months with the most nurturing, interesting, exciting, enlightening, inspiring, and encouraging man I’ve ever known–nay– that I’ve even dared to hope existed since my Grandad left this earth.  I am so proud of him I could just burst. 🙂 Did I mention that we, too, are a Pisces/Cancer couple, just like Frances and Elmore? Uh huh. Good stuff!

Moral of the story: when you dedicate your service to Aphrodite, when you ask to know what Divine Love it all about, she will deliver. First, she strips you bare of all detriment to Divine Love, then she shows you what is beneficial. Viva la difference!

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At Samhain, I released to the funeral fires many misconceptions I had about Love and some links to old relationships and old dreams, and a few old masks I’d allowed myself to wear but no longer served my highest good. I realized that I’d worn these masks crafted to cover the wounds of my previous heartbreaks, to shield fears of betrayal. There were masks I’d worn to appease others in hopes that they’d return my love and masks I’d worn to conform to societal norms, masks to obscure the horrors of my inner struggle from my children.

When I think about this “mask” metaphor, the images that come to mind are pretty amusing, like old fashioned theater masks. I have quite the collection, perhaps you have them, too, as they are all the rage this season: sarcastically happy face, sad but not beaten face, strong in the face of adversity face, still youthfully attractive despite her age face, got my shit together face, fearless business woman in denial about how she is clueless how to proceed face…not terrified about how to pay the bills face…proud to be out of the broom closet and not hurt by how people point and whisper in public face… OK with being single and alone in this life face. All of them obscure the squishy truth of who I truly am, and while masks are necessary to a certain degree, if I’m not aware of how I use these “tools” they begin to use me, and that is when I lose my power.

I was recently interviewed by a student for a religion class project and she asked me what was the ultimate point of my Witchcraft practice? I pulled out the canned “teacher” answer, “Salvation from the illusion of separateness from the Divine, to liberate me from fear, and equip me with the tools and skills to live beneficially, and with sovereignty, as a co-creator of my own experience.”

It was then that  I finally remembered that I’ve been neglecting those skills and tools, and that I could co-create, to don or not to don, the masks of my choosing, and many of them had to go. This blog I share with you, this story of my great work this year, is part of that stripping away, and choosing to reveal the inner truth–to shine brightly what is beneficial, rather than mask or obscure that light because it makes me feel vulnerable. Boy oh boy, do I feel vulnerable. So much so that after I first posted this thing yesterday, I became physically ill–root chakra kinds of ill. This morning, I began editing it, and I choose to reveal more, rather than obscure my meanings in poetry.

theater masks

Which brings me to this Thanksgiving, and my year to have my children at home for the long holiday.  I chose to make space for a “miracle.”  You see, being a divorced person with a custody agreement, these holidays alternate from year to year. What they say is true, time heals many wounds, and we are in our 6th year of amicable shared custody.  In recent years, my children’s immediate family expanded with their father’s re-marriage, and then with the birth of a new baby brother.

So I asked myself, what better expression of Divine love, beauty and grace than to share a meal around a Thanksgiving table, in triumphant victory over past heartbreak and selfishness? I needed to redefine a few traditions, to cook a meal for the people I love, to share what I have with family and friends, old and new. I can’t think of a better expression of gratitude, than by opening my home and heart to the people who share in the nurturing of my children.  I needed to completely FORGIVE, and live on.

What I’ve learned from the great work this year is that the only heart prepared to receive love, is the heart already opened from the sharing of love.

So, despite all previous odds, I invited my ex, his wife, their baby son, and my new boyfriend all over to dinner with us, and they accepted. Then, in a meaningful, magical twist, one of my oldest friends, a woman who’s known me since the dark days of my previous marriage, all the days of my divorce, and the rebuilding of our lives since then, who is, herself, currently living through the FIRST difficult Thanksgiving since her separation, accepted my invitation to join us with her two children. How perfect is that? I hope we were able to show that a glimmer of light at the end of a long, dark tunnel is possible.

10815612_1519641408286393_799907865_oIt was a smashing success, if I do say so myself. There was much feasting, laughing, bouncing of babies, and playing of music together that night (a handy benefit of my penchant for musicians. 🙂

As the wheel turns toward Yule, and I look back over the great work of this year to process and understand the lessons, to integrate what I’ve learned, I am struck by how I’ve arrived in a place vastly distant from where I thought I was going when I dedicated at Imbolc. Hell, I thought I was headed toward the hand-fasting altar in May, so that left turn at Albuquerque really got me lost for a while.

I’ve questioned my spiritual path, my sanity, my raison d’etre, even my desire to keep living.  But, I set my magickal intention, then allowed the flow of this life of love to move me, accepting that what was both leaving and entering my life were both in alignment with my Divine Will, because that was what I’d asked for, and I do have some say over what happens to me!  That is “grace” to me.  Grace allowed the relatively undramatic stripping away of what did not serve my life, and then grace delivered me back into love with myself, into a love of life. Through finding my way back to enjoying life again, I was able to rediscover what is beautiful, and it wasn’t the obvious things. The beautiful partnership I’m looking for is one where we can grow “ugly” together.  There is loveliness in the colors, smells and dimming light of the decays of autumn, as nature declines into the dearth and wisdom of winter. So to I feel that slow, steady pull into the dark night, and hibernation…to dream in the arms of the bear, and be healed of last season’s woundings.

Mysterious? Seek within yourselves, and ye shall find, my dearies. I do hope the road rises up to meet you the way it did for me. Happy Thanksgiving!

Heron Gets Her Groove Back

mabonHappy Mabon-tides, my witches! I know I’m a little late, but I’ve been out in those fields of metaphor, harvesting all kinds of existential goodies, and getting into Aphrodite’s favorite shenanigans. Oh yes, my dearies, and it was about damned time this dedication to a Goddess of LOVE and PASSION became a joyous good time again.

BEHOLD! The fields of my Great Work finally bore fruit and I’ve been drunk on her sweet nectar for months.  In the dance of this Wheel of the Year, as the lamenting music that led to Lammas waned, and the last sorrowful notes of heartbreak faded into solo acceptance, I turned my view and my feet from the past faltering steps, into the present moment, did a little do-si-do with a bow and a nod to Her harsh lessons, then plunged onward into the reel.

IMG_7880The next steps involved a visit from writer and lecturer Jason “Pan” Mankey of Raise the Horns, who came out from California to teach through The Sojourner. In addition to 4 excellent seminars, he offered us a chance to initiate into the Morrison Clan, the Jim Morrison Clan, with a ritual of music, ecstatic hedonism and an unleashing.  Jason was just the Priest this circle needed to shake things up.  Into our temple he called in Jim as a modern incarnation of Dionysus, Pan, Aphrodite, and Eris Discordia, because if you don’t, she shows up anyway, and we’d rather not have hang-overs, thank you so much.

I know what you are thinking, and you aren’t entirely wrong, but this was some serious business. The ritual was set to the music and the spoken word of Jim Morrison and The Doors, and there was dancing, singing, wine, whiskey, and an excavation of that feral part of ourselves too often buried under layers of reservation, prudence, and socially respectable facades. We let our hair down, unwound, and Spirit moved.

We pledged to enjoy life, to let inspiration flow, to have hedonistic fun, to “drink the good wine to the old Gods,” to let “all acts of love and pleasure be her rituals,” in full-throttle engagement with the ecstasy of the flesh.  All this within healthy balance, dontchaknow, so that we do not flame-out prematurely as Jim did. I mean, good gods, y’all. Gimme some of THAT old time religion!

IMG_8120We each received a strand of mardi gras beads, and a clan name. I was dubbed “Story Morrison,” because I have stories to tell, and I’m often caught retelling them. Um, guilty as charged. But more than that, I think this was the opening salvo for the next phase of story-telling ahead of me, one that I hope is a bit more formalized, and will someday find its way into print. But that is a harvest for another blog….

*This* blog is about how Heron Got Her Groove Back. Note the swiftness of this magick:

Saturday night: Initiation in the Morrison Clan with a re-dedication to enjoying life again.

Monday: Deliver Jason back to the airport with so much gratitude and a genuine shift of perspective, thanks to his insights.

Tuesday: I get the familiar twitchy feeling, that deep longing to go forth into the night and make merry mischief. Basically, the sexy Heron beast within me awoke, stretched her wings and began to preen. I posted this to Facebook: “My kids are out of town with their dad for the rest of the week and I’m seeking shenanigans. I would like to attend to them directly.”

Back to my altar, I renewed the work, I thanked her for the lessons in heartbreak, in ugliness and loss, and I asked that at this time I be given the lessons of healthy love, of beauty and grace with the person correct and good for me at this time.  Oh, and could it be with a playmate who actually lives in my town this time, pretty please?

HAIL Aphrodite, of sensuous pleasure,
who restores my heart in full measure.
I give myself in reverent mirth,
hands, hips, and lips in holy rebirth.
Each little death, sweet sacrifice,
I am your willing acolyte.
As worship, let there be romance,
deep longing met in sacred dance,
to sing in divine duet once more,
I call forth the ideal paramour.
In perfect trust, in perfect love,
No harm to cause, to all involved,
I call the highest good for me,
As I do will, SO MOTE IT BE.

Wednesday: I receive a message in reply to my FB post from the most fabulous, interesting, compatible man I know in this town, asking me to meet him on Friday.  He was once a Gentleman of Interest, that long ago I’d set my sights upon, until I learned he was in a relationship, and had therefore retreated and been effectively avoiding for almost two years. Whaddaya know, he is newly single…imagine that!  As it happens, his previous relationship had been dismantling for just about the same time frame as mine had been…how very…fortuitous!

Since that fateful Friday: Well, let’s just say that since that auspicious beginning, I’ve learned a lot about living in the bliss of the moment, and being grateful for what is unfolding, without putting too much concern into what it might “mean” or where it might be “going.” I’m just too darned thankful to taint this gift with second-guesses. I feel like my wings are fully outstretched in rapturous flight, and I’m just enjoying how this new breeze lifts and inspires me to soar to new heights.

Isn’t the Universe grand in it’s poetry? So long now I’ve danced with Spirit in the Great Work, and even still I sometimes get twisted around and forget how I can trust absolutely Their lead; that all will come to fruition eventually; that all will work out for my highest good in the end, and in alignment with my Divine life purpose. Regardless of what happens from this point onward, I stand in deepest gratitude for that simple reminder.

I celebrated this Mabon with my faith restored, and I am once more fat, happy, grateful and satisfied with the fruits of my labor.

Blessed be.

Solstices, Life and Death

cauldronfireLithaHappy Solstice! I hope that yours was as meaningful and relaxed as mine was here in North Carolina. Here, The Sojo Tribe and I celebrated Litha, the Summer Solstice, and the apex of the Sun and all that we’ve accomplished so far during the growing light phase of the year.  We lit a fire in my copper cauldron with the remains of our beeswax class candle (We prepare a candle and light it during our classes to create sacred space. This one has been in use since Imbolc.)  We then fed that fire with harvested Rosemary and Litha incense, and the rays of our accomplishments written on colorful paper. We applauded, and congratulated each other, then released our ego-attachment so that we could strive for even greater things in the future! And…then we went out to a local patio bar and shared some “summer solstice” beer and a meal. “All acts of love and pleasure are her rituals….”

As the copper cauldron heated up, a fantastical chemical reaction happened wherein the flames turned green! It was the witchiest thing we’ve had spontaneously happen in a long while and it was glorious in its simplicity.  This was an impromptu ritual because our dear Tribe member, who intended to host and lead our Litha ritual, lost his father earlier in the week.  Death is not only an ending, it is a beginning, just as Litha is both the triumph of the sun, and the beginning of decline into the dark half of the year.

We’ve had a lot of death visit us this midsummer with several people known and kin to folks in our group crossing the veil, which is a fitting reminder that death ALWAYS hangs in the balance with life. All the more reason to savor the joys and bounties when they come, for tomorrow we may die… This summer season, I am overjoyed to travel to see my family in my mother’s home town for the first time in many years. That is my celebration of life, as I honor the life of my maternal grandmother, who passed through the veil at Beltane.

Back at Beltane, My grandmother Frances came to visit me before they even laid her body to rest. As my daughter and I toured a historical church yard with cemetery in New Bern, NC, (because that’s what my 12 year old daughter likes to do for her birthday, Witchy much?) who should join us in that cemetery? Only the spirits of our maternal ancestors, and they spoke to us via a medium from New Jersey named Denise who was touring the same churchyard, and was kind enough to deliver their messages.

left to right, Frances, Elmore, me and Sondra Rouse, circa 1998.

left to right, Frances, Elmore, me and Sondra Rouse, circa 1998.

Yes, Frances and Elmore, my grandparents divided by the veil for almost 15 years, and Sondra, their daughter and my mother, gone these last 7 years, were with us once more. Their family is rejoined in Spirit at last and looking out for us. They came to tell me that they think I’m a great mom, that they they love us, are proud of us, and not to worry about them because they are just fine, the afterlife is better than they even expected.

Denise transmitted their side of the story of what was going on after my grandmother became so sick that she was mostly incoherent. Her family in Spirit became a kind of hospice care on the Spirit side, while my Aunt, Uncle and Cousins, were attending her on the living side. Her Spirit family helped her to relax, let go, and ease across the veil to rejoin them. Her father was even present there in the end, keeping watch over her. That tidbit gives me great comfort.

You see, they were all Christians, and the afterlife just isn’t what they were told it would be, but it is better, and they wanted me to know that they accept me fully for who I am–the Witch in the family.  I’d kept that last bit from all three of them while they were alive.  It was toe-curling awesome to be fully known by them at last.  My granddad told my daughter that he looks out for her especially, that “she’s his girl.” That thrilled her to no end, especially since he died several years before she was even born. If you are going to have an ancestral guardian, make it Granddad Stormy, former police officer!

I stand in awe and wonder of my magickal life. Gratitude.

For those of you in the Southern Hemisphere who visited my blog last week, Merry Winter Solstice!  I wish you all the joys of the new light! As we head into the darkness, you are heading into the light. Isn’t that a beautiful balance? I love how the Wheel of the Year is so relative to where you live.

Blessed be.