Monthly Archives: August 2016

It Runs In The Family

I received a phone call last night at around 9:12. The phone rang once and the stopped. I noticed it was my daughter calling and picked it up. “Something is wrong mom, I need to come home.  Her father left out any details and simply said that she needed to come home because the house wasn’t a safe place for her. Aaron and I hopped into his car and drove to get her. After a few minutes, three figures emerged from the apartment complex. I greeted them beneath the building lights. “Is the house haunted?” Her dad looked at me, “Yeah, that is a given. I won’t be staying here tonight myself.”

Once home, I made some hot chamomile tea, gave my daughter a blanket and turned on the lights. My ten year told described to me exactly what she saw. “Dad fell and he caught the leg of the couch. I saw a smoky black thing standing beside him. I did what you told me mom and I tried to focus on my shield. I tried to go over to my dad but I felt like something invisible was blocking me from getting close.” I sighed. “Well, that may have been your protectors, the protection spell around you or maybe both.”  The conversation lasted for about an hour, we watched a cartoon and then turned in for the evening.

My daughter, now ten,  has seen the Otherworld off and on since she was very small -too small to remember. I used to watch her crib from my bed at night and found myself amazed and a little unsettled when large, people-sized, white glows came close and gathered around her. I wasn’t sure if they were family or not but the sight of them did not make me afraid. However, it would be a lie to say I’d never encountered anything that didn’t send the chills straight up my spinal column.

Nothing sets the inner fire ablaze like a mother’s need to protect her child. I grew up with unusual experiences and clung to my fear. I would be nearly fourteen before gaining some amount of confidence about what to do about it. As a mother, I set the intention to raise my child with awareness so that if and when she experienced the world with her “special-eyes” or “special ears” she would know that she could set boundaries, and find her own strength. Even if she was afraid, she could face it or choose to turn from it without shame.

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Despite my early experiences with the Craft, I was nearly twenty years old before my mother sat me down and talked to me about the more disturbing experiences. My youngest sister’s spiritual battles had prompted the conversation but it was her last words that seared into memory: “When each of you girls were born, I cried. I cried because I didn’t want you to have this gift and I cried because you would all live life as women too and that comes with its own lessons.”

As a family, we have been through the grand “W” which are (What was that? Why is this happening? Why us? Where did that come from? What are we going to do?) To find peace, the answer was first to ignore it which didn’t really work. This went on for a few generations -perhaps more. In our own way, each of us questioned our sanity. In fact, I’m sure that there were times we were all driven to the brink of emotional and even physical tolerance. The second route was to fight it which seemed to cause more conflict because the feeling was one of being cursed.  Years would pass before we gained some understanding as individuals how seeing can serve us -or others.  Acceptance of ourselves and acclimation to the reality of it came slower.  One node of comfort was knowing that for better or worse, it ran in the family.

Writing this brings me back to 2009 when I overheard a conversation between two co-workers.  One of them was having frightening visions of black dogs that both she and her daughter were experiencing.  The advice and commentary she received shook me to my bones. She was told it was because she was not living her life the right way, that she shouldn’t live with a man without being married or go out to bars, etc. It left her feeling guilty and confused. Religious convictions aside, we can live our lives to the best of personal standards and still have a lack of answers.

 

Stepping over what must have been a boundary, I later offered her this consideration: “It is not your fault and you are not alone. If you can, find strength and believe in something greater and more powerful than yourself but remember that you are not powerless.” We talked about the black dogs and discovered that she had English and Irish ancestry.  This encouraged her to personally research visions of black dogs. She worked with me a year but before moving away, she gave me a hug and offered a deeply felt thank you.

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I’ve written this article because I feel there are many families out there with this story. Deep in my heart, I am sure that we are not the only one with strange tales who have been witness to the visions, voices, and secrets that have been revealed to us. The spiritual and energetic worlds are definite realities to those that closely experience them. We cannot close our eyes and pretend it did not happen for long. No longer do we have the privilege of asking if these things exist. We can not un-know what our eyes have been opened to.

Finding Stillness

Finding stillness in a busy chaotic world full of chores, to-do lists, work and play can be a challenging effort. How can we find the stillness we need and what can if offer us? How do we know that we need stillness? I place my hand in my rune bag and move it in circles. The tips of my fingers move the pecan shells around until just the right moment. I feel a cool zap and a rune catches between my fingers. I’ve drawn the rune Isa (stillness) more than three times this week. Images of a standing tree in the winter time or the quiet of the darkness when it is cold are the memories I’ve associated with this symbol. It hasn’t been drawn since early last year so I sit for a while and reflect upon the week I’ve had.

At work, tension builds up as the new versus the old way of doing things play tug of war through fellow employees and leadership. On the homefront, my father and I reconnected after eleven years and to say the least, he is in rough physical and mental shape. Neglecting his health and well being, life now forces him to look at the difficult time ahead of him if he chooses not to make a few relevant changes. He is a man without resources in regard to savings, health insurance, medical provider, or healthy living choices. The reality is, I am not able to care for my father the way he needs to be cared for. He is a man of pride and stubbornness and he desires deeply to keep as much of his freedom as possible. When I say he is the kind of man that would pack a bag and vanish into the forest I am not kidding.

In the past five days, I’ve gone on what feels like endless errands, attended work meetings that were scheduled last minute to deal with new team membership challenges, and got my little girl started at school again. My father’s partner had an accident and the doctors have sent her for recovery in a nursing home. I’ve spent time visiting her and updating her on how my father is. This, of course, does not omit the reading for my own classes that begin tomorrow, taking care of the house, pets and yard work. My own routines of going to the gym and completing my morning dream journaling have all taken a back seat. Frankly, the permeating feeling is on of exhaustion. After a long night of sleep last night, I sat down for my cup of coffee this morning and nearly fell to sleep in it!

This week, I’ve decided on a stillness dedication. Stillness is my own point for rejuvenation. It is a state of receptivity where I do not try to do, to visualize, to think etc. I take a nice nap for thirty minutes, I make warm tea, I go for a walk. Because I love to talk -a lot, I promise myself to speak less. In the time of stillness, I may observe where I need to prioritize my energy. I may discover what drains me or sustains me. I am the kind of person that looks around and discovers a plethora of activities to keep me moving; walk the dog, do the dishes, fold the laundry, read for school, exercise. Not moving leaves me with a sloth feeling and some regret that activities are not finding completion. The result is feeling worn and having little ability to respond to my usual “pick-me-ups.”

When I begin to buzz back and forth almost mindlessly, it is the first sign that I need stillness. To do this, I have to call upon my own boundaries. I turn off my cell phone, the t.v. and stop checking social networks online. Stillness means saying no to those that are constantly interrupting the time needed for restoration.

I place the Isa rune back in its sachet with the promise to myself in mind. I acknowledge my busy list of things to do but set them to the side until I must do them. Until then, I set boundaries where necessary. I choose to sit in stillness and listen to the darkness.

The Mundagical

Aaron and I stood outside last night and gazed for a while at the recent planetary alignment. He pointed, “which one is that?” “That one is Mars.” “It looks like a tri-force.” We laughed. “You’re a geek, but that alignment explains the intensity of things lately,” I said, as smacked my ankles. Mosquitos nipped viciously at me and I scampered up the steps complaining about them before jumping into the cool sheets for a nice, relaxing sleep. This morning, Aaron’s curiosity got the best of him. I woke up seeing him swiping his phone screen while reading an article on the alignment. It spurred a conversation about whether or not there are meaning in such things.

My partner is a particularly rational individual. I often get the “eye” when I say something unusual, “superstitious” or mention things that could very easily be interpreted as coincidence. A bird breaks its neck on the window, sure it could be because there is a house there that got in the bird’s way. That is the practical answer. From my own perspective, it may be an ill omen of a death in the family. Mercury slams into retrograde and I’m a little cautious about signing contracts and making sure the car has been serviced, I shift awareness to the way I am communicating and double check that my emails went through. These behaviors may seem silly to some -even obsessive or as I’ve been described -a bit quirky.

Human beings are off-kilter. Attuning to natural cycles such as moon phases or seasons assist people to tune-in to natural rhythms. When we are connected and in sync, even the most mundane things have a meaning. When we are off balance it is difficult to make the connection. I’d used similar wording to explain this morning. Aaron looked over at me and smiled. “So, basically, regular things are Mundagical.” Amused, I wrapped my arms around him, “Exactly.”

When someone hears me talk about signs or omens, they may immediately think, this person is very superstitious -what hogwash! Often, I find it quite pointless to explain. This time, I thought, how can I explain this in a way that the most rational person may say Yes, that makes some amount of logical sense -if not in an illogical way. I’d like to share a few things that may illustrate what I mean.

Three Playing Birds
In 2002, while riding my bicycle, I passed a home where three cardinals sat together in a yard. My attention felt drawn to them and I recall thinking, I’ve never seen three all together that way. Two blocks later, at a completely different house, I saw the three cardinals again. I slowed my bike to the side of the road and watched them for a moment. They hopped around one another and pecked the ground. There was not a “why” or a “weird” or a need to analyze, I simply observed them. A bead of sweat trickled down my temple and I remembered the hot sun above me. Pushing forward on my bike, I was eagerly riding to a cool glass of water beckoning me from home. As I approached home, I nearly stopped in the middle of the road. There, on the corner of the lot, three cardinals danced around one another in play. I rounded the corner to the porch and noticed a white car. My mother had a visitor, an old friend we had not seen in several years.
Long before I knew what augury was, this experience had entered my life. Several years later, I’d find myself reading a passage in a book long forgotten that briefly mentions the behaviors of birds as a kind of divination. I came across a passage about cardinals representing the visit of an old friend. -How curious, I thought, it was exactly what had happened to me. I filed the memory away but pondered the chances of discovering text that correlated to my very experience.

 

Bad Luck and Black Cats

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We’ve all heard it before: If a black cat crosses your path, you’ll have bad luck. I’ve never found this one to have relevance in my life. In fact, it is almost the opposite. I dreamt three people stood straight and tall in a line -the way kindergarten teachers wish their children would stand after school recess. Behind them, approached a strange, skinny, sick looking, white, mangy cat with large yellow eyes. Though I stood facing the three individuals, they could not see me but the cat’s eyes did not waver. It approached them and began weaving around them. In and out, in and out, the cat moved steady, stopped and glared at me. Then it made another weaving loop in the opposite direction with its tail swishing back and forth as though it were aggravated.

Most conclusions I’ve drawn in retrospect. Several months after this dream, I was arranging a small gathering of witches. Several of us had not seen one another in some time. Other individuals were brand new and wanted to meet witches in the local area. What a terrible but necessary disaster ensued when the several individuals in the group began verbally assaulting the other in a most victorian manner. It was not done with yelling or screaming but with rude and quaint insinuations, leaving a severe disequilibrium in the circle and several people choosing to walk away.

After the circle disbanded and damage control was complete, I discovered the “white cat.” Two women thought to keep the original group together it would be appropriate to cast a binding spell. They cast this spell upon themselves and one other member. The goal was to keep them together. However, they did this spell without the other person being aware of it. The result was complete dissension among them.

So what does this have to do with a sick kitty? The three individuals lined up in the dream were the same witches who’d cast a spell on one another. The cat was the binding spell. I too was a part of that circle, only I was not included in the binding spell -hence the cat did not weave its loops around me. The state of the cat indicated the state of their relationships and in my opinion the energy related to the binding spell.
Now, it would take several more “magical cat” dreams and encounters before the idea of sick cats or deformed cats of pale or unusual colors correlated these experiences with actual events beginning to manifest. That is when it hit me. This is the way superstitions were born and sometimes lasted for generations.

I do not find myself merely superstitious. I find that the superstitions have meat when personal experience has rooted them in some way. Therefore, I am not merely saying that I believe that if I see “this” then it means “this.” To the contrary, I am stating, this experience has connected with this type of event over and over again and has come to have predictive relevance due to repetition. These same observed patterns may or may not reoccur in families. When they stop being experienced, they become the watered-down beliefs that many people call superstition. Seemingly simple or even pointless happenings become little ways to see the web of connection or pathways for communication that give me better insight into situations that present themselves in this most curious, beautiful life. Embrace the mundagical.

Meditation First Steps

Training The Mind Is Mandatory

As a beginner, I recall feeling a little confused about what meditation was.  A woman I knew said she meditated while out walking.  The father of a friend of mine sat in a private room in the evening and meditated.  He told me he did it every day and it helped to “quiet” his mind.  Others I’d encountered meditated while dancing or writing and a few mentioned meditating with visual images. What exactly was meditation and how did I begin?  What was the best way for me to meditate?  What did it mean for me personally and How was it going to affect my work as a witch?  These are questions that are answered most easily with only three things; time, practice and exploration.

If you look up the definition of the word meditation on google you pull-up the following: The action or practice of meditating.  Various synonyms are listed:  contemplation, thinking, deliberation, concentration, and musing.  I find these words lacking in adequately explaining meditation in a way that appeals to the senses.  My first attempt to meditate came with the simple, beautiful act of breathing.  To begin, I put away distractions and sit somewhere comfortable in dim lighting.  I set the intention to stay aware of my thoughts but not to engage them.

Tools such as the athames, scissors, cauldrons, and more are wonderful, but the mind is the root to any connection or working.  Developing the mind helps the witch to discover her own talents, to connect to the Otherworld, to cast effective spells, protect the energy body, replenish energy, to stay grounded and connected to self and to explore new pathways.  Beyond witchery, meditation is a useful tool for anyone who desires to live mindfully. On a personal level, it is wonderful for dealing with stressful situations.  If I am faced with an indecisive moment, feel confused or have any big decision to make, meditation helps me to stay calm and often helps me discover solutions.

The First Meditations -What To Expect

In the beginning, my mind chattered away constantly.  I found it very difficult to sit still, my skin crawled and muscles twitched.  Three minutes was a serious achievement.  With time, three minutes became five and five became ten.  Now, I am able to meditate for over an hour.  It is important not to overwhelm yourself.  Start with a few minutes and work your way up.  It helps to build confidence and willpower.

Discover Your Own Way To Meditate

The only way you will ever know how to meditate is to do it.  One aspect of the developing your personal craft is to discover what techniques work for you personally.  In this case, the knowing grows with the doing. What follows below are a few of my meditation tips.

  1. Find a place and time where you can be to yourself.  You don’t have to wash the dishes or do the laundry first, set the firm intention to meditate for your well being
  2. Start meditation simple.  Just breathe and watch the flow of your breath.  If you have thoughts, let them move away like currents carry things down rivers.  Each time you notice them, just return your attention back to your breath.  It is tedious in the beginning, don’t give up.
  3. Don’t force or control your breathing -just watch it.
  4. Start with a few undisturbed minutes at a time.
  5. Don’t lay down in the beginning.  I admit, I love to lay down but when I attempted this, I’d fall asleep every time.
  6. Try meditating indoor and outdoors I love a screened-in porch, the buzz of mosquitos and bite of ants is very difficult for me to get past.
  7. Try meditating in as much silence as possible for a while and then meditate with music.  See if you notice a difference in the way your mind and body responds.
  8. If you are a dreamer, meditate before you are exhausted to boost dream recall or set dream-working intentions.
  9. Keep a meditation journal to note your personal research, techniques, amount of time and locations that you’ve meditated in.
  10. Relax, place your attention on something that feels good and use it to enter a meditative state of mind.   As an evening routine, I’d brush my hair with a soft bristled brush.  I found myself slipping pleasantly into a meditative state of mind while performing this simple act. Another example is playing piano, I still consider myself  a beginner, time slips away when I play and it leaves me feeling peaceful when I play -even if I am only making up my own music.

While I am not an expert, I will say, I feel deeply that any person can greatly benefit from meditation as a daily practice. Take my tips with a grain of salt and try things for yourself.  It is the only way you will ever know what meditation will suit you best. After some time, you may develop your own personal rituals that go along with your meditation such as a particular song, smudging with dry plants, or lighting candles. Be creative, gbe patient with yourself and most of all, have fun and good luck at building your practice!