Sunday, July 24, 2016

Grief and Conflict

We are humans, all of us.  Regardless of our spiritual paths or our religious beliefs, we are not immune to the truth that death is a part of our experience.  We will all lose people we love and we will all have to work through our grief over those losses.  None of us get a pass on this in life.  

Seventeen days ago, my younger brother died unexpectedly and suddenly.  We have shared more than one lifetime together, as well as our bloodline.  I loved Him and we had conflict between us, and we stopped working on our relationship about two decades ago.   

Sometimes we will lose someone we love without warning, with no time to prepare or to say our farewells.  And as is the nature of relationships, either family or lovers or friends, sometimes that loss will be of one with whom we have conflict.  Love and conflict are more often companions than mutually exclusive conditions.  For conflict with one we do not love is often reason enough to walk away from another person but, we will persist in spite of conflict if we love another.  And so, grief is often complicated by unresolved conflict with the one we loved and lost. 

We each grieve in our own way, and in our own time.  For me it is a delayed experience.  For the first two weeks, my perception of reality was surreal, often blurry and out of proportion.  Then life became normal again and my grief began to visit me at night.  When all is quiet and my mind can identify what my heart and soul are actually grieving and, my heart and soul can feel that grief, it is the conflict that I feel, and the pain of that conflict and the anger that it exists. 

Another conflict that accompanies grief is that in moments of unexpected emotional crisis, old habits of behavior, old patterns of relating within the family, reassert themselves.  Conscious effort is required to recognize these habits and patterns and to re-establish newer skills and ways of being.  It challenges my sense of self, and forces me to reexamine my relationships with those whom I love who remain.

I have work to do.  Including the work of reaching out to Him whom I have lost to assist in what way I can, and to ask Him to work with me to make some peace between us before the next life we share.  May our Ancestors and my Gods and Allies bless us and assist us in this work.  Blessed be. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Y Gwir Yn Erbyn Y Byd!

The Grand Sword of the Gorsedd of Bards 
“Y Gwir Yn Erbyn Y Byd” The Welsh proverb “The Truth against the World” is only the beginning of a ritual litany.   

Before the National Eisteddfod (a bardic competition of singing, recitation and instrumental mastery celebrating Welsh identity, language and culture) can commence, the Gorsedd (gathering) of Bards conducts a ritual in which the Grand Sword (upon which these words are inscribed) is partially unsheathed and laid upon a stone altar.

The call is made “Y Gwir yn Erbyn y Byd!” The Truth against the World!

The response is a question “A oes Heddwch?" Is there Peace?

Then comes the call “Calon wrth Galon!" (Heart to Heart!) and again the question “A oes Heddwch?"

Then finally the call "Gwaedd uwch Adwaedd! A oes Heddwch?” (Shout above the shouting! Is there peace?)  

Heddwch (Peace) is evidently a verb, so the question truly is “Will you bring Peace?”

The Eisteddfod cannot commence until the Gorsedd has declared Peace among them.

These words move me.  I have written before about the meaning that “Truth against the World” holds for me but; this past week I have been thinking about them a great deal.  My Third degree Initiation into my Tradition will occur in two weeks. It is an initiation into Service, as clergy and leadership in my Coven and my Tradition.  It is the beginning of a new leg of my journey. 

And I have been contemplating my purpose in this world in light of this new phase.  “Truth against the World” is a large part of that purpose, but it is only the beginning, only the starting point.  It is not about Truth for truth’s sake but, Truth for the greater purpose of Peace.  My heart calls out for Truth, for Love, for Healing of our World, and for Peace. 

Two days ago I had these words, Y Gwir Yn Erbyn Y Byd, inscribed (tattooed) upon my right forearm in red script, to commemorate the beginning of this stage in my life but, also to remind me every time I see them of my purpose, and of the entire litany.  To remind myself to ask the question “A oes Heddwch?"  Do I bring Peace?

I am not a pacifist, although I respect those who hold that place in our world.  My heart longs for Peace but, not for peace at any cost. Peace without Liberty is not Peace but rather oppression.  My purpose is Peace and Freedom, my purpose is Peace through Truth.  May my Gods, Ancestors and Allies bless me in my purpose.

Y Gwir Yn Erbyn Y Byd!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Despair is the enemy of change...

This past week has been a difficult one for many, including me.  First there was the shock of the shooting itself.  Then came the grief and anger and fear, the frustration and desire for retribution, and the insult of erasure.  
The sheer stupidity and incredible ignorance of the public discourse was almost unbearable if you even bothered to listen, which truth be told, I did not. Because I knew it would be dreadful and I refused to subject myself to it.  But I am aware of the effect it had on those I love.

I do not advocate willful ignorance.  Hiding one’s head in the sand is not a practical solution to the ills of our world but, I can spend five minutes a day in research to discover the facts of what happened and to get confirmation that the reactions of the ignorant and hateful factions of our society are indeed what I had suspected they would be.  I refuse to spend the precious substance of my life, my time, exposing my soul to the wasteful and damaging effects of hate-speech.

I am angry that someone massacred forty-nine people.  Forty-nine of my fellow humans died for no other reason than the hate of another damaged human.  I am angry that those who have a voice are ignoring the fact that those who died were members of a community that has historically been targeted for violence and that has not been protected by those who are entrusted with the defense of the people.

I have loved ones who have been a part of that community for decades.  I too identify as a member of that community, I identify as Queer, although I am not seen as such by almost anyone.  I am angry at the erasure of identity being practiced by those with a public voice in the discourse surrounding this tragedy. 

But the worst thing of all to me is the despair I witness in the hearts and souls of those whom I love.  Two beloveds in particular have spoken words of despair this week, one young and straight, the other gay and middle-aged.  Despair does not discriminate.

Despair is the enemy, make no mistake.  It is normal and natural and completely understandable and I do not ridicule my beloveds, for their despair is a familiar shadow.  But Hope is needed and Faith is necessary.  We cannot affect change, and we need change, if we hold no Hope.  Despair robs us of our will, our energy, our purpose and our joy.

I know the world is a dangerous place.  I know that much of our society is ignorant and operating from a place of fear and hatred.  I know that much of our human race is ill and damaged.  But I believe that we are not beyond Healing, that we are not beyond Hope.

I have Faith that the majority of the human race is not represented by the voices shouting hatred at the top of their lungs.  Indeed those voices are so loud that they all but drown out the voices of our higher angels with their “Sound and Fury”.  But they are indeed idiots and their words signify nothing.  I have Faith that we can continue to affect change, and healing and the positive evolution of our species and our society if we keep working, struggling, fighting, believing.  I believe that we can indeed re-enchant the world so long as we do not give up Hope.

I am not delusional, although I may be stubborn.  And if the world chooses to see me as simple or sentimental because I choose Hope and Faith, so be it but, I will not despair, for despair is the enemy of change and I am a champion of Hope.  

Monday, May 2, 2016

Spirits of Place

Spirits of Place exist in any natural geologic feature but, those I have always found it easiest to relate to personally have been those connected to bodies of fresh Water and the Land surrounding them.  

My ancient ancestors in South Wales would have perceived the rivers closest to them to be deity.  My parents grew up on the banks of the Susquehannah River (in the North-Eastern part of Pennsylvania) as did many generations before them.  

I grew up near the Delaware River and I now live on the banks of the Schyulkill River. The Leni-Lenape who lived here before us called the River “Turtle Creek”.  The name has the added meaning of “Hidden” or “Refuge”.  

When I first moved here seven months ago, I sought to form a relationship, a connection to the Spirit of this Place and that meant the River and the Land surrounding it. 

I began visiting the banks of the River and found a Sycamore Tree (one of the species of Trees for which I bare a strong affection and affinity).  I made offerings and expressed a desire to build relationship with the River and the Tree and the Land.

At the suggestion of one of my wise and valued teachers, I carved Othala into the soft Earth beneath the Sycamore, then scraped the Earth and the Rune into a bowl.  I collected Water from the River into a jar and brought the Earth and the Water home.

In my bedroom I created an Altar to the Spirit of this Place where I now live.  I placed the Earth and the Water into silver dishes and scribed Othala into them and I placed a small Turtle fetish carved from green stone between them.  Every day that I am home, I light a candle and sing at this Altar, and every day that I can, I visit the Tree and the Riverbank and  I sing there as well.

The Spirit of this Place supports me and I give thanks for this new Friend.  Spirits of Place have been my allies since I was a small child and I give thanks for each one of them.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Altars and the Structure of Daily Practice

I love altars.  I have many of them throughout my home.  When I moved from the Tree-house to the Keep, figuring out where the altars belonged, and how they should be dressed, was an essential part of the process of settling in.  It took a while, but my altars provide an important structure for my daily practice.

My altars are physical reminders, as well as sacred spaces.  I visit them to make offerings, and prayers to the Spirits that support me in my life and my work.  I light candles and incense and I tend to them each week, cleaning and pouring water or wine.  I sing and offer thanks for the blessings I have been given.

In the Christian faith the “Stations of the Cross” serve a similar purpose.  As the seeker walks from one station to another, they contemplate the divine truth represented there and recite certain prayers of devotion.  This structure and style of practice is helpful to me and supports my daily practice.

Daily practice is vital to my spiritual well being.  It is something that I need in order to thrive, to re-enchant my daily life.  Without it, I become faded and tired and my magick suffers.  Without daily practice I slowly starve. 

Daily practice is an essential structure in my life.  It supports my well being and my magick.  I am a believer in the power of daily practice.  I also believe that it is important to have structures in place to support that practice. 

I have come to see that the moment when a Witch crosses the threshold to Power, to living a truly magickal life, is often the moment when they begin to establish a daily practice to support that life and that work.  Whatever the form or structure, or lack thereof, however that practice is manifested by the seeker, it is the practice or absence of practice that makes the difference between struggling to live a life of magick and, living a magickal life.