A Wish Upon Dying, Part 1

[Originally posted on my column, Witch on Fire, on the Agora blog at Patheos, Pagan channel.]

Samhain draws closer and the witching season is in full, cackling flight. There are full moons to howl, parties to prowl, pumpkins to carve, costumes to sew, sabbats to dance, festivals to vend and initiations to attend–and that is just the next two weeks.  There will be shenanigans, my lovelies!  But that is only the mirthful half of the the magick that is afoot. There is much reverence on our minds as well.

For our rites, we’ve been asked by the priestesses in charge to prepare an offering in veneration of death–a poem, a song, anything we feel is appropriate. We also will honor our beloved family members who’ve died, and so my mother haunts my thoughts again as she always does this time of year. Right on cue, my father sends me this old photo of her. It is one I’ve never seen before and far more artistic than I’m used to. This is how the messages work between us these days. With this one, I hear her reminding me that she was once young and beautiful, fashionable and adorable. At this time in her life, she was a reasonable, intelligent, Lutheran woman, newly married.

Black and white photograph of a young woman

Heron’s mother, Sondra, at 20 years old / Photo courtesy of Heron Michelle

By the time she was 59 years old, she’d become more of the holy-rolling, bible-thumping, fundamentalist variety of evangelical Christian and basically the polar opposite from my liberal, feminist, witchy self.  Needless to say, I didn’t talk about those things with my mother because I loved her, and I was too chicken to drop the “W” bomb.  Even though she drove me absolutely bonkers, I craved her acceptance. Her love was unconditional, but the peace between us was not.

When she passed through the veil suddenly and unexpectedly in 2007, I rushed home to Kentucky to help with her funeral.¹  It was important to me, as a newly initiated Witch and aspiring priestess, that I give my extremely religious mother the ritual send-off that she wanted. That was how I needed to love her at that moment, by respecting her wishes and who she was as a person. Not because she would have done the same for me, but because it is how I would want to be treated. I know this because I once mentioned that I wanted to be cremated when I died, and she recoiled in horror. She told me in no uncertain terms that if there was an ounce of life left in her body, she would use it to make sure I had a “proper” christian burial, whether I liked it or not. I think the exact quote was, “You’ll be dead so there will be nothing you can do to stop me.”

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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

I Am: A Memoir

Long ago,  in 2006, I think, I was asked to submit an article for a webzine column entitled “I am” wherein folks would share the story of how they found their pagan path, and how they define themselves within their practice.

For the launching of this new blog, I’ve been rethinking those questions and how the subsequent 8 years continued that story, for better and for worse.  At the time of the first writing I had only *just* finished my formal year and a day of studies, but had not yet approached the gates of initiation. Now that I peek into the viewpoint of my 2006 self I can honestly say that I was a wide-eyed infant lost in the woods with absolutely no clue what I was getting myself into.

Today, I remain…a Pisces, a daughter, a sovereign woman, and a single mother of two precocious and vibrant children. Since 2006, I have reestablished my independence (otherwise known as divorce); become a witch, priestess, teacher, clairvoyant, Reiki master,  mehndi artist and a business owner.  I am Divine!  I have identified as a pagan-seeker since 1992 at the age of 18.  I continue to recover from a Christian upbringing, but after many years of study and walking the spiral path I can now define myself as who I AM instead of who I am NOT–without apology.

My journey toward witchcraft started much like anyone else in the southeast US.  I was raised in the ordinary, middle-class, suburban, Southern Baptist sort of way in Taylors, South Carolina.   My childhood was fabulous; full of freedom and adventure, including a few years living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.  However, my mom suffered a massive hemorrhage and near-death experience two weeks after the birth of my little sister.  She called out to Jesus to save her so that she could raise her children.  She would dedicate her life to his service if she lived, and live she did. That vow changed a lot of things…

Mom’s number one agenda became raising us in the “fear and admonition of the Lord.”  We were at the church for every class, service and event.  Thinking about the fine points of theology was hardly encouraged, but I had this annoying habit of resolutely disagreeing with our minister.  Picture a 7 year old actually *listening* to a fire and brimstone sermon and just knowing he had it all wrong, then arguing about it.  Despite being a small child I had a different truth, a stone foundation that was ancient, upon which my brand-new childlike house was sitting.

My whole life I’ve been “differently aware.”  When I first learned of reincarnation I had a eureka experience. I’d always remembered flashes and bits like another person’s memories.  I knew that somehow, just around that last bend in the road, I was an adult man. Occasionally, when going into public restrooms, I had to be reminded that I was a little girl.  There were times when I wouldn’t answer to my name as if it wasn’t mine at all and times when I’d catch my reflection and be startled. The deja-vu was so constant and over-powering that I’d lose track of whether it was past, present or future.

You can imagine the gender identity issues this would cause. I intimately understood being a man, a soldier in WWI. I remembered the fear, and adrenaline of warfare, reacting with PTSD-like behavior when triggered.  I had erotic dreams, that I now recognize as past-life recollection, about being with women. Yet, I liked being a little girl just fine, and had crushes on the boys. In the eighth grade, I confessed to a friend that I was afraid I might be a lesbian. She asked, “Do you like girls?” Well, no, not specifically.  “Then what makes you a lesbian?”  Good question!

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Almost 3 years old, and pretty happy about becoming a little girl.

Now that I have a clairvoyant practice of retrieving past-life information for others, I know that gender is a very temporal and fluctuating thing that can be explored flexibly; however, being raised in a church that tried to “pray away the gay,” you can imagine the sense of crises in which I was raised. Today I prefer the term, “heteroflexible” and I take a namaste approach; the Spirit in me, is attracted to (or not, as the case may be) the Spirit within you. Personally, I think the style of meat-suit people happen to be wearing should be of of far less consequence in matters of love. (1)

I also could see the material world as energy if I shifted focus. I see flashing, multicolored particles flowing and swirling and would lie in bed at night and practice moving the flow with my mind as a way to get to sleep at night.  I’ve also perceived the thoughts of those around me (telepathy), and I usually know who is on the phone just before it rings.  I see auras when someone is very emotional.  As a kid, I called them halos  and boy could our minister work up a bright “halo” when he was preaching that hellfire and damnation!

Starting in the 5th grade and going through early adolescence I suffered some very deep depression.  I was in existential turmoil, having rejected the hatefulness, bigotry and isolation taught me by my mother’s church.  But, if I wasn’t a christian, was I doomed?  In that black/white world of “with us or against us” I thought I had only two options: Christian or Atheist (Atheism=Devil, in that small world).  Yet, if there was no higher purpose to life, why bother?

At around thirteen years old, I lie in bed wide-awake one night when the room seemed particularly moonlit.  Clearly in my mind’s inner dialogue I admitted my worst adolescent fear: “There is no God. I am a freak. I am absolutely alone and this is all pointless.”  Immediately, my senses were arrested. I lost control of my body and was pressed into the bed as though the gravity of god-almighty was in the room. I was unable to move, heart beating like crazy; flooded with adrenaline, I became hyper-aware.  The room became 10 times brighter, filled with bluish moonlight, the silence screamed and my mind rang with the surety that I was NOT alone and I DID have a purpose to fulfill.  This did not come as a voice or in words and gave no clues to its identity, or gender.   I struggled against this force until I gave in and admitted, “OK, OK–Maybe there is a God!”

A quickly as it began, it was gone. I was released and all returned to normal.  Still panting and tingling, I looked around at the ordinary room with the ordinary darkness.  I moved my fingers and stretched. My rational mind kicked-in, skeptical. I thought, “That was weird. I’m losing it. God did NOT just speak to me.”

I am here to tell you that the whole thing repeated itself again twice as strong; I was taken hostage by my own body!  The moon light intensified once again and this time a voiceless scream was in my head.  I thought, “OK, OK, I believe!”  And it was all over, never to be repeated since.  Today I believe that the greatness of the Universe quickened within me, and spoke through my body and Spirit.   At the time, I thought I’d been “called” to christian ministry.  I was horror-struck.  I started running from that fate by way of binge drinking, partying, and non-christian behavior of all self-defeating kinds.  I do not regret those free-thinking, free-living days, but they were hardly pious.

I have this theory that I was being groomed for something specific: I modeled for years, learning poise and grace. I majored in creative writing at The Fine Arts Center, a special high school. In college, I extensively studied religion, anthropology, psychology, history, and writing for several years, before transferring to ECU for a BS in Interior Design, cognate in business, and a specialty in sustainable design. For the next 5 years I worked as a NCIDQ certified, professional Interior Designer, designing healthcare facilities for architecture firms in Raleigh and Houston.

But I digress…back when I’d been eighteen years old, I read Marion Zimmer Bradley’s, The Mists of Avalon.  In this fictional Avalon, I found the goddess-centered lifestyle and spirituality that felt like home, but I assumed those ways were dead and trapped in a distant past.  Shortly thereafter I became friends with a Wiccan priest in my hometown.  He opened my world to neo-paganism.  He shared books with me and we talked in generalities, but despite my expressed interest, he remained very private about Wicca. A deep, familial love and spiritual intimacy  developed between us, but I was never invited to train with him or his coven and I still don’t know why, for sure…Perhaps it was the old Wiccan requirement that the seeker must ask for training 3 times and be denied, before being accepted. I didn’t know that.  That experience gave me to believe (wrongly) that Wiccan Witchcraft was a private club, and that I somehow did not qualify.

So, for the next 10 years I considered myself pagan, by philosophy only, and remained locked tightly in my broom closet with a stack of books.  I married a scientist who had no need for spirituality, nor a belief in spirit at all.  I was successful in a my career as an Interior Designer, while lurking on message boards for the pagan communities in Raleigh, Houston, and Charlotte.  Fear of what my family would think, or that I might be disregarded professionally, kept me mute. I once worked a block away from a metaphysical store that I walked past longingly every day, and yet not once stepped inside.

My daughter is born; A mother emerges2002Then in 2002, I gave birth to my daughter, just after my 28th birthday, just after my Saturn return began.  I’d spent weeks of bed rest cloistered with my books, Raven Grimassi’s Wiccan Mysteries, and Spiral Dance, by Starhawk. During the labor a recurring vision of the goddess pushing open the portal at the end of a long tunnel guided me.  I came face to face to the Mother of us all, and she looked me right in the eyes, turned as though to invite me to pass her, said “you are ready, come through,” then guided me through the rites of birth. I wanted an all-natural, right of passage to motherhood and I got it!  As I gave life to that baby, I called on strength within myself I’d never dreamed possible.  I was surrounded by all the ancestors of my line before me to one side, and after me to the other side. I knew that it was already done, therefore I could do it!  It was ecstatic!  It was a proving ground, and I emerged victorious!  I had a sense of belonging in the great creation of the Universe where I could be so small, but equally divine and powerful. I named my daughter from a word that means Victory!

After her birth, I overcame my fear and through Witchvox.com found a family coven in Charlotte.  As a seeker, I joined them for my first Midsummer Sabbat celebration.  Shortly afterward my husband and I relocated yet again.  I was devastated to arrive here in Greenville, NC, and find that (at the time) there were no pagan groups in town, very few individuals listed on-line, and certainly no training circles.  Well, no one who meant to be found, anyway.   A few days prior to Samhain, I grabbed the bull by the horns and started my own yahoo group called East NC Pagans and invited every local pagan who had a listing on witchvox within 100 miles.

I began to realize how different my spiritual needs were when I was eighteen compared to thirty years old.  My beliefs about deity ranged from wanting an ancient, monotheistic Goddess, to a godless Scientific Pantheism with many stops in between, but there was one defining moment that brought my spiritual journey full circle.

Again, I gave birth naturally to a huge and beautiful baby boy.  His birth was quick and perfect, but medical complications afterward caused an uncontrollable hemorrhage. This sent me on a panicked ER-style ride to a D&C procedure.  I signed consents for possible hysterectomy and parted from my stricken husband with a “take good care of my babies for me.”

I really thought my time in this life was over.  My blood pressure was so low it wouldn’t register on the automatic cuff. As they strapped me, still painfully conscious, to the table in crucifixion position, yelling for the physician to get in there NOW! I could FEEL the panic in the nurses’ voices shouted over me as they rushed to save my life. I stared up at the ceiling and thought to myself,   Here I am just like Mom was when she almost died with a toddler and new infant waiting for her.  Is there a higher power to call on?  Am I alone here?  Hellooo??”     I opened my heart to the void and listened…to silence…  I let go and put my fate in the hands of the medical team.

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My son is born, and I live to raise him!

Coming back from that was tough. I briefly handed over the moderator job of East NC Pagans to someone else and walked away from everything. But, I found that ignoring my own spirit wasn’t possible.   During the very slow beginnings of that group I renewed my study and visited open circles out of town. It took over a year before I could convince anyone on that board to meet me in public for coffee and conversation, then suddenly it was a break through, thanks to the good folks at the local Unitarian Universalist church. The community building  took off like wild fire! Over the next years the membership of East NC Pagans grew to almost 200 people with large monthly meet-ups, classes, and affiliated groups forming in different cities.
From East NC Pagans a circle of friends coalesced who were all seeking, as I was, and hungry for more.  Over beers one night, while bemoaning the lack of teachers in our areas, my dear friend Alice quoted the old Chinese proverb, “‘Tis better to light a candle, than to curse the darkness.”

*CLICK*

Profound gnosis hit me. The great cosmic “Clue by Four” knocked me for a loop. If we were going to grow, we had to take responsibility for ourselves.

By Yule of 2005, we’d formed a study group called Wisecraft Circle. It was a non-traditional, eclectic and egalitarian circle that used the published training guides by Christopher Penczak (2) and Timothy Roderick (3) as our curriculum (among a bunch of other reading we all liked.) We turned the wheel together one full cycle and began again at Imbolc with new friends, this time holding a covening and formalizing our organizational structure.  That was February 1(ish). March 9th my mother passed from this world, kicking off a period of intense awakening for me, guided directly by the Spirit of my mother.

Unfortunately, the “F” word, fundamentalism, reared its ugly head. Questions of legitimacy, authority, ego, and sexual tension killed that circle before it’s second summer solstice. I learned a lot about who I was and who I was NOT, and what NOT to do within group practice.

Midsummer night, the first ritual I'd written and lead for Wisecraft Study Circle.

Midsummer night, the first ritual I’d written and lead for Wisecraft Study Circle.

Nevertheless, I’d dedicated to a year and a day of study in Witchcraft and had some amazing things open up for me.  My awareness expanded, I called and felt the presence of the Divine; become the conduit for Reiki healing energy; inadvertently began astral projecting in my sleep; and the bloom of my psychic ability opened. I experienced spiritual ecstasy that brought me to my knees, and learned to write and lead rituals for the community that expanded that transformative opportunity to others.

The second turning with Wisecraft, I’d dedicated to working with the element of Fire. Nothing touched by fire stays the same and all you can do is surrender to that tempering power. What did not serve my highest good, all that hindered my growth, was burned away: abusive relationships reached their pique so that I was forced to confront them; my mother passed away; the circle disintegrated with all manner of pyrotechnic, ego-spanking emotion; my marriage hit the skids; I had my heart broken by the dashing of old dreams…all by August. However, as I emerged from those fires, my resolve to live authentically outside the broom closet, and with the dignity and self-respect my mother had instilled within me, was honed to a razors edge.

Let me repeat: with the guidance of my fundamentalist, evangelical, ultra-conservative mother’s spirit, I realized the lessons she’d taught me to be the “peculiar people;” to let my “little light shine, not hide it under a bush,” to be a WITNESS for the Divine light within me, and that I deserved to be treated with love and respect by my partner. (4)  By November, I announced my decision to open The Sojourner and the wheels of business development went into high gear.

The SojournerAfter much betrayal, an emotional gauntlet through the burning wreckage of my marriage, the sale of two pieces of real estate in a depressed market, two families moving, the collection of life insurance money from my mother’s estate, false starts, re-imaginings at the last hour, and over a year to secure a location, The Sojourner Whole Earth Provisions was opened to the public on March 28th, 2009. It took immense effort, sacrifice, generous investment by our families, and hard work by many dear friends and partners without any appreciable form of monetary compensation for years. That first day we were open, pagans and muggles alike arrived by the car-load from great distances and damn near cleaned us out!  Lady Sojo is an entity in her own right, and I’m honored to be her care-taker.

As of 2014, we’ve now been open for 5 years, hanging in there despite a lousy economy, and I am now teaching the 5th full year of Modern Witchcraft students, in a program I created based on the books and experiences born of my time with Wisecraft Circle.  From those who’ve completed the training and taken self-initiation, The Sojo Circle formed, and is still a wondrous tribe of beautiful, loving Witches.  A second affiliated training circle now operates out of the Raleigh area concurrently, using this same curriculum.

I’ve passed through many more gates of initiation and taken service to Spirit as Their priestess. My sacred commission, given to me directly through another of my “burning bush” moments, was to be the light-house, shining brightly so that all people may know where to have their spiritual understandings validated; where seekers of enlightenment find an open, safe, welcoming, and responsible training ground on Main Street USA, not a “private club” shrouded in secrecy and bigotry in some hidden basement.

2014It is my belief that I was chosen and groomed by Spirit through a wandering path, to become a public face and voice, (hopefully a respectable and trustworthy one) with the resources, poise, skills, and wherewithal to build a beneficial environment for all followers of the less-traveled paths to flourish in eastern NC.  So, here I find myself today in 2014.

*pause*

As I reread the above I realize how much Personal Ego seems laced within these revelations. I put that pride in the scales of balance, and on the other side, I place the pant-wetting fear, the loss of some of my dearest relationships, the humiliation and heart-break, not to mention the repeated ego-spankings from those I loved the most, that it took to bring me to this re-balanced place.

Nope, I’m OK.

I am grateful, now, for this balance, though I’ve been the brat who wanted to break all the toys and storm home. I did learn from the losses, and am quite proud to report that I am NOT an alcoholic, NOT waned to nonexistence from grief, NOT bankrupt, and NOT in an abusive relationship, but it was a pretty slim victory over those forces of fear. I’ve come a long way, baby.

Here was the prayer I first uttered as my dedication back in 2005:

Spirit! Great Weaver of all things, I seek to know your nature. Ignite within me your fires; wash me clean of doubt; blow my mind. I dance to your rhythms with earthen shoes and the starry heavens tangled in my hair. Show me the way! As I will, it is so. Blessed be.

(1) Hindu scripture recognizes this emergence of a LGBT “third gender” as an evolutionary progression that is sacred. Native Americans revered homosexuals as shamans, calling them “Two-Spirit.”

(2) The Inner Temple of Witchcraft by Christopher Penczak

(3) Wicca: A Year and a Day in the Craft of the Wise by Timothy Roderick

(4) No doubt the subject of an upcoming blog

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