Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Just asking...

Who are those beings you find in the shadows?
What are those terrors of your thresholds, your gatekeepers?
Who are the monsters under your bed?
What are the beasts hidden in your closets? 
Who are those creatures you fear to find in the darkness? 
What names do you call them by?
What powers do you possess them with?
When was the last time you sought them, named them, challenged them, embraced them?
When was the last time you looked closely and recognized that they are a part of you?
When did you last test them to see if they were truly what you imagined?
How long will you hide your face and be conquered without even drawing your sword?
How long has it been since you read “Where the Wild Things Are”
Just asking…

Friday, September 21, 2012

Balance and Between

We stand at the point of balance between the darkness and the light.   The summer has ended.  The days grow shorter, the nights grow longer, the air grows cooler and clearer and cleaner.  The leaves turn to fire before they fall and, the woods have a scent that makes me think of home (not the house I grew up in but, a place my soul longs for but cannot quite remember). 
I have always loved Autumn best.  Perhaps because my birthday is a week after the Equinox (and no matter how old I am, I LOVE my birthday), or perhaps because the twilight of the coming darkness is where I feel most like I belong.  Bright clear warm afternoons, or misty, foggy mornings, or crisp starry nights when the moon is a waning sliver of silver.  The world  sings in a minor key and I can almost remember the secret my heart longs for.  My body feels more intensely alive, my senses more aware, the world more acutely beautiful. 
One of the many things I love about my religion is that we celebrate the liminal, the light, the darkness, the twilight and the dawn.  In the coming darkness, the mystery is explored and secrets are discovered.  The darker and deeper the night, the more stars may be revealed.  Within the shadows more gold may be found that direct sunlight might overwhelm.  The between times, the hidden places, the thinning veils, the twilight, these are places of Magick.
May the blessings of the Magick be upon you, and inside you.  Blessed are we.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Memories of the Darkness, loss and reconnection

I have been thinking about my relationship with darkness, my awareness of it and my feelings about it.  My memories begin at about the age of five (with one small exception) and my awareness of the darkness and my relationship to it, are a part of those memories.  I was never afraid of the dark.  I can remember a fascination with it and feeling that I belonged there.  I remember a desire to explore it and a longing for it.  I also remember that my awareness of “others” existed then as well.  (I wonder if there is a correlation between the two?) 
Awareness of “God”, awareness of “magick”, awareness that there is more to the world than what I can see.  Relationship with the Willow next to my house and with the stream through the woods down the road.  Awareness of the small brown person beneath the may-apples who kept me company when I wandered seeking “the other side”.   Awareness that I was different and a longing to be connected to the “others”.
My family of origin, whom I love dearly, is afraid of the dark.  They are uncomfortable with it and do not understand it.  My own longing for it has always made them uneasy.  The next generation however, struggles with it and I understand now that one of the reasons I am a part of this family is to help guide those children now.
Magick is part of the nature of the darkness.  It is the unseen and the unknown.  It is the Mystery.   And it is beautiful.  As witches ,we celebrate the Sun and the Summer but, unlike many others, we celebrate the Moon and the Night and the Void.  We are not afraid of the Darkness.  We embrace it and seek balance.
I remember the first time I was afraid of the darkness within me.  It may have been the only time, I do not know for a certainty.  I was about 10 and had met Grandmother Spider.  The Crone.  She fascinated me, I was not afraid of her, however at that time I struggled with anger and my own lack of understanding of how to express it.  I struck another person for the only time in my life.  She was a friend and did nothing to provoke the violence.  I was ashamed, truly.  There were no consequences, no intervention by any adults, no one knew except the kids on the playground and I cannot recall anyone reacting at all.  All I can remember is the rage I felt and the feeling of my hand striking her and an overwhelming feeling of shame and humiliation.
Grandmother Spider was not happy with me, I was not happy with me.  I remember at that time I turned away from the darkness.  I decided that I had done something that made me unsuitable, unacceptable.  I still knew the beauty to be found in the dark and the magick and the “others” but I felt that I could not have relationship with them any longer.  I was not worthy.
I struggled for years suppressing anger instead of learning how to express it constructively.  I struggled with the depression that resulted. (Although depression had been a part of my life since I was at least five, it had never been so pervasive).  I struggled with the feeling of being cut off from that beauty and from my own nature.  I struggled with the lack of belonging and the grief of loss.
I am blessed.  The exile was not forever.  I found the connection again and realized that the beauty had never left me.  My time in the wasteland ended and I became a grown woman, the witch I always was.  The time in the wasteland was a time of seeking that taught me a great deal, and for that I give thanks.
I also give thanks for renewed connection, and the relationships, and the magick that is a part of my daily life.  I am indeed Blessed.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

An Invocation to my Patron

Gwynn ap Nudd,
Dark Father, Lord of the Storm,
Leader of the Hunt, Guide of the Dead,
Guardian of the Cauldron of Annwfn,
I come to you in the Dark,
I cry to you in the Storm,
Hear me and Lead me Home.
Gwynn ap Nudd,
Rider of the Winds, Lord of the Dark,
with Whom my Ancestors dwell,
I call to you in my despair,
I am your child, I am in need,
Embrace me in my weakness,
my ugliness, my fear,
Hear me and Lead me home.

Monday, September 10, 2012


It can be very difficult to think when the voices are yelling at you in the dark.  I know that in the light of day I can clearly remember all of the people in my life that I count on and whom I love.  I can consciously remember each connection I have to the Gods and the Fae and my allies.  I can easily recount the many gifts for which I am grateful.  I can even affirm the beauty that I possess.  But in the Darkness, in the Shadows, remembering those things can be almost impossible. 
In the past few years I have realized that if I can recount those things by heart, if I can recite them in my sleep; it becomes possible to do so in the Long Night.
A few years ago I began making this a part of my daily practice.  It is tied to my breathing so that the “Recounting” and my breath control each other.  If I can control my breath, I can fall into the Recounting.  If I can begin the Recounting, I can control my breath.  
In Anatomy and Physiology class in massage school we learned about entrainment.  We learned that we can affect the nervous system by causing a change in the breathing pattern which affects the heart-beat which affects the autonomic response of the entire body. Outside stimuli can create a pattern that the body will respond to.   We learned to control our breathing so that our client’s breathing will adjust to match ours.  Music has the same affect.
The Recounting helps my body to find the calm, quiet place as well as my mind and soul and heart.  Since making the Recounting a part of my daily practice I have also noticed that the “Long Nights’ aren’t quite as long and do not occur so very often.
I have also noticed that when the Night is over and the Dawn comes, I feel joyful and strong and clean.  The past few days have been brighter and clearer and more hopeful than the ones before the Long Night.
Yes, they are a gift for which “I Give Thanks!”

Friday, September 7, 2012

Long Nights of Darkness

It seems that this week was particularly appropriate for me to start a blog on finding light among the shadows.  I had one of those nights that happen rarely for me anymore but, that I am very familiar with over my lifetime.  I had received some unwelcome news.  I had expected it to some degree but, had hoped for something else.  I was handling it just fine, or thought I was.   Then it was time to go to sleep.  And sleep would not come.  But the tears did.  And the heartache and the tightness in my chest that makes it so difficult to breathe.  And then the voices came.  The voices of doubt and fear and recrimination and the voice of anger. 
So what do you do when the voices in your head are screaming at you and the pain in your chest won’t go away?  What do you do when sleep won’t come and the tears won’t stop?  That is the moment that you need to know how to look for the light.  The moment when finding beauty in the darkness inside you is most necessary. 
So what did I do to get through the night?  I rose from my bed and lit candles and incense.  I put on music that reflected the heartache that I felt inside and some that was hopeful.  I cuddled with my cat and drank pure cold clean water, and I settled in to wait out the pain.  Not a passive waiting but, an active one.  I made myself breathe deeply and slowly and then I began my recounting.
 I remembered the people in my life that I love.  I remembered my allies that have never abandoned me.  I remembered the beauty and healing that I have been blessed with in the past.  I remembered the beauty that I have inside me.  And I made the choice again to embrace the fact that my heart is not cold or hard or dead.  That heartache is evidence that I am capable of loving deeply, of feeling great joy. And I remembered that this dark night is a gift.  That in these moments compassion is born within me. That understanding someone else’s pain and despair is born of my struggle.  That this is how I midwife my own power and deliver my own magick.
 I called out to my Gods and gave thanks for my life and the great joy and immense beauty I see in the world around me.  I gave thanks for the gift of friendship, with my Gods and with the Fae and with my totems and with the humans in my family, my community and my coven. I wrote answers to the voices.  I wrote a letter to my Gods expressing the shadows and telling them what I long for and what I grieve for.  And when I was done, and the tears were exhausted, I slept.
I share all of this because, while these moments are short lived (one long night not weeks or months) and much farther between in my life now and while I know what to do when faced with them, I have lived through long periods when these moments stretched on eternally seemingly with no hope of relief. It has taken me most of my life to learn how to look for the beauty in the darkness, how to find the light among the shadows but I know how to wait for the dawn now and I know the Dawn will come.  I believe that I am not the only one who experiences these moments and part of my purpose in this life is to help others find the candles.  You will be able to light them, have no fear; the light is there within you.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

God is a Person

I believe that the Gods are real.  I cannot prove this, I accept it on faith, but that faith is based on personal observation and experience.  I believe that they are persons as you and I are persons.  Not human persons but complicated, complex individuals with names and histories and stories and culture and family and heritage.  They are Persons with unique personality and talents and differentiation from other persons.  I believe that the Gods are not interchangeable.  They are not just names in some ancient book of mythology.  They are not simple abstractions or perfect archetypes.  They have stories that are full of “mistakes” and some very questionable behavior.  But the ones worth knowing are more highly evolved that us and if we care to learn from them they can help us to grow, learn and evolve.

They can also guide us, comfort us, enchant us and lend us their gifts so that we can, with their help, become more than we are.  They can help us to hear our own inner voice.   They can speak through us and act through us and help us to be of greater service to others as well as to ourselves.

One of the things I love best about my religion is that my Gods are people and as people they are prone to relationships.  Relationship is very important to me. It is the way in which I interact with, learn from and impact my world.  My path began with, and indeed is defined by, my relationship with my Gods.  I call upon the Gods because I have a relationship with them.  I do not simply transact with them, I relate to them. There are times when I have to work with a God with whom I have no previous relationship; that to me is simply an opportunity to build a new relationship and to broaden my experience and perspective.   I research their stories, culture and images.  I spend time learning about who they are.  I devote time to finding the place that they resonate with in me.  I spend time getting to know them, listening to them, sharing myself with them.  Even if I never have cause to collaborate with them again, I have relationship with them and I have grown as a result of that relationship and the work we have accomplished together.  (Although I have realized recently that they may choose to continue the work in my life that is needed for my own growth.)   Again I am blessed by my relationship with Deity.

Relationship with Deity, indeed all of my relationships, enrich my life and enchant my path.
  But, what constitutes a relationship? What is the nature of relationship?  What is required to build a relationship?
I believe a relationship is the mutual understanding and exchange between two individuals.  It is not limited to individuals who are of similar nature but, preferably involves individuals who share a mutual trust and respect, knowledge of each other and affection for each other.  I believe that every relationship is unique to the two individuals involved.  I believe in most relationships, negotiation is required. And I believe that in the very best relationships, intimacy is possible.
My own relationships with my Gods range from beneficial collaborations to familial relationships that will last my entire lifetime and, perhaps more than one lifetime.  I have relationship with my own Patrons, with my coven’s Patrons, and with other Gods from whom I have learned or with whom I have worked.  My Patrons and some others are a part of my daily life.  Others I have been very close to and worked intimately with at various times in my life.  Some relationships are incredibly intense and extremely intimate for a specific time and then change to a congenial familiarity but, the relationship persists in an ongoing and evolving way.  Not every relationship has to be all-consuming for-ever.  Relationships are always changing, evolving, growing or shifting according to the needs of the individuals involved as well as their level of commitment and the time and energy they have available to devote to nurturing it. 
My Gods have never abandoned me, but I do not expect nor do I need their constant attention.  They have other things to do.  When one of my Gods, who is not a part of my daily life, requires my attention, they let me know.  I try to be open and listening, and to respond with the proper respect due the relationship that we share.  At the same time, if I am in need of their guidance or assistance in some way, I respectfully ask. Understanding that if I am simply being lazy, they may tell me, in not so many words, to go jump in the lake.  They are Beings of higher stature than I, more evolved, older, wiser and responsible for much more important work.  They are NOT at my beck and call.  That being said, they do not require frivolous duty from me.  They do understand that as a human being living in the mundane world in a very physical plane of existence I am responsible for keeping body and soul together which requires that I earn a living to shelter and feed myself and my companion and that I must sleep in order to tend to the health of the body for which I am responsible.  They do however require that I live my life with honor and courage. That my magick be ethical and that I do not allow myself to live a life devoid of joy.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

I am a witch

I am a witch.  But before I ever stood in a circle, or cast one.  Before I ever cast a spell, or even imagined one.  I met the Gods.  Not all at once mind you, I met them one at a time.  Different ones at different times but, eventually I began to know them and I became aware of the fact that they knew me.  Not only that but they had an interest in my growth and spiritual evolution.  At the very core of my path, of my journey in this life is my relationship to Deity.  If I lost all else, my family, friends, coven, tradition, magick, I would continue to grow and to thrive, I would continue to have a sense of wonder and joy in my heart because of the blessing of relationship with the Gods.  I spent the first 40 years of my life without ever meeting another witch, and when I did I was very fortunate to discover a soul friend and sister.  A year and a half later I met my coven and tradition.  I am immensely grateful for the gifts of magickal friends and community and for my beloved Moonfire.  But I would never have found any of them had it not been for the Gods that guided me to them.

I understand that there are those in our community who do not desire relationship with Deity.  They are not wired that way and I can respect that.  But my life is all about relationship.  Relationship with others in my family and in my mundane community, relationship with the Trees and the Fae that I interacted with in my childhood and with whom I enjoy communion now.  Relationship with the wonderful Feline Creature with whom I share our home.  A very important part of my purpose in this life, as I see, it is to foster positive relationships.

My role in my community is a simple one, that is not to say that I believe it is not important and indeed valuable, but it is small and quiet.  I do not generally have an active role in the larger community of my tradition.  My contribution is more in keeping with my nature and talents and is indeed a blessing.  I seek to serve but, I do so best by tending to the health, well-being, strength and stability of my coven.  By serving my High-Priestess and my coven-mates with all my heart, I contribute to the health, well-being, strength and stability of my Tradition. I strive to foster positive relationships with individual members of the larger community so that I may serve them in whatever way may be useful. 

I am not a great scholar, though I respect and admire true scholarship.  I am not a great intellectual although I have a strong mind and strive to broaden my own understanding of the nature of the world both seen and unseen.  What I have is a gift from the Gods of great joy and I hope to share that joy with others who may not have considered the true blessing of relationship with Deity.

This blog then is my attempt to use my voice to express that joy, to serve my community, to contribute to the great work.  My hope is that it will offer a spark of inspiration or encouragement to another witch that they might discover a new way of relating to the Gods.  And that they might share my joy.