Sunday, July 13, 2014

Vote with your feet and walk in the gap.

The monsoons are heavy and thick with water loaded air, so much so, you can smell it. It makes for a long moment when you have to go out into it no matter how short or long the jaunt. All of this is happening as I am bringing water elemental teachings to my students. It's funny how when you teach, there are new things learned, understood, and clarified. It's sort of like an unending period of training that brings about new questions and thoughts of your own as you try to anticipate what your students will ask. There is always something that surprises you. Goes to show how differently people think about similar circles. Which is why I am always surprised when other people expect you to think and do as they would in any given situation with a smug " well I would have done that. . . it's only logical." Well, no, it's not unless you share perspective and exact experience.

This is why there is such a schism in the craft, even within a single tradition, not to mention everything else in life. Currently the largest schism I am witnessing is between the genders. There is one side saying that their way is better than the other and they should hold power. Well, I disagree and this is why. Any time there is one agency holding any sort of power a perspective is negated because it does not fit into that agency's paradigm of how things should be done, usually to the disadvantage and victimization of all perceived minorities or opposing factions. We see this happen all the time and tend to ignore it: men vs. women, Christianity vs. anything else, cats vs. dogs, heterosexual vs. homosexual, GMO's vs. organic foods. . . the list can continue for quite a ways here so I'll just commit a sin and assume you get it.

The problem we are encountering is is not a schism between what is being polarized, but the negated perspectives that cause the polarization in the first place. Remember the phrase: walk a mile in someones shoes before you judge them?" Maybe instead of judging them we should be observing their experience and absorbing its effects. I know that sometimes the problem comes about because an experience is not properly communicated through either humiliation or deception. Which is why it is important for us to not judge when someone does communicate something such as Marion Bradley Zimmerman's daughter did, or Jada who has recently been attacked and then again through social media, or when someone in power such as Paul Ryan says something to the effect of rape being a method of conception in regards to his pro life views. I suppose it's a step up from someone such as Todd Akins who clearly is mistaken when he was heard stating that a woman who is raped cannot become pregnant because the body shuts down. What these two examples illustrate are the difference between someone who holds an ideal of life and the other is either severely uneducated or worse deliberately spreading lies. While it's an abomination to say the things both of those gentlemen did, it exposes their mind set and it should be heard so we can decide how we are going to use our power in this situation. However, in order to determine this we need to be able to listen to the perspectives.

 Are we going to like everything we hear? Absolutely not, but we do not have to agree with it and can make different choices. When you shut a faction down, choices are removed leaving other factions disenfranchised and trapped in whatever situation they are in usually resulting in a volatile situation. Each side is so busy vying for power and control that they not only refuse to acknowledge the other as human beings they stop acting as human beings. We see this most eloquently in the public conversation being had about how the unborn are people, corporations are people, but women and their reproduction organs must be legislated into an oblivion as though we are not people. They become so obsessed with their goals, fears and agendas that the means justify the ends and they justify anything they did while minimizing or even denying harm done driving each faction into deeper raving, foaming at the mouth, madnesses until no one can see straight. They become sociopaths or they may have started out as psychopaths. Either way, the real goal of these fighting factions is obtaining power and not just any power. . . the worst kind: power over.

You will hear all sorts of reasons why Patriarchy should rule and why Matriarchy should rule, some of them may be deceptively seductive and sound logical. However, the true course of power should be managed in a balanced manner that heals schisms which means that not one agency should rule everything: not Matriarchy, not Patriarchy, not Oligarchy or Theocracy. We should shudder when any one agency vies for power in the manner we are seeing happen today in all arenas. We should deny them that power in any way we can. The best solution: vote with your feet. The Grand Canyon may have a huge gap between the sides, but the places between those gaps are beautiful and worthy of exploring. Ok, you might need goat feet. . . but first go inside and see if what you believe are really your beliefs.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Got Goat Feet?

Everything around me was moist and green and fertile. I had forgotten what the forest floor looked like with its black black earth that crumbled beneath my hands as I wandered off trail to forage for oak moss. It had been far too long. I remember camping every year at least twice a year up until I was married. But here was the forest patient, as ever, with a certain lack of people noises that usually haunt my everyday existence. Birds sang * sometimes squawked*, the creek babbled, the bees hummed, beetles popped and clicked, and the breeze made a chorus of the leaves in the canopy above. The way the light filtered down upon me in dapples and streams made a dancing mosaic of the mosses and ferns on the floor and revealed patches of wild raspberries. It horrified my little man as I began to pick them off the canes and pop them into my mouth: Mom! that's not food! His Oma asked him where he thought raspberries should come from and he replied with a matter-of-factly from the store.

He needs more woods. He needs more 8000 feet elevation up in the clouds, play in the water, stomp off the trail with mama Mount Lemon. He refused to go up one of the hills with me because his Aunt told him the bears will eat him, but he plucked up the courage to go and skim the edge of the creek with me earlier in the afternoon. . . not sure what the hill up had to do with bears, but oh well. Miss B. went on a four mile hike with her Opa, Aunt and Cousin, got a lesson on how to use a compass and to wear better shoes hiking. It's been what feels like a thousand years since I was in a forest that felt remotely familiar and home like. I have been in Flagstaff woods and it's not bad, but it's not like the woods I grew up investigating with sticky pine resin covered fingers. The earth is still compact and baked to a hard clay tile forest floor. . . Prescott is better in that area of feeling familiar, but Mount Lemon just sang with a familiar, wet, black voice.

It felt good to scramble up the side of the mountain off the path and to a place hidden by fallen trees and sprawling patches of ferns and moss to leave an offering to the spirits there where the eyes of man can't pry to see. I whispered my secret words to the secret folk and without looking back used my goat feet to shimmy back down to the trail. That which I had gone to fetch was found. I had secretly hoped to spy some mistletoe to harvest, but the only mistletoe I spied lay on the ground dying with it's tree long gone. Only broken branches remained.

I will have to return to Mount Lemon often with children in tow to get them to earn their goat feet and mad wild berry picking skills up in a place where clouds make islands of mountains. I feel like I am finally waking up again after being shut down for so long. I didn't know I had been shut down until I started to wake.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The road to evil.

I must not fear. Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when fear has passed I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where fear has gone. There is nothing. Only I remain.

Frank Herbert

The first time I read those words they struck me like a gong and they resonated through me since adolescence. I have faced many a fear with these words rolling through my mind and it has helped. There were things that logic and evidence could not discount and eliminate the fear and it turned out that they were real things to be fearful of and the litany against fear helped me navigate those things without losing my mind. But there is a thing that I keep turning my inner eye toward: fearful people do frightening things and behave in psychopathic manners. Religion tends to lean in this manner. People who have been indoctrinated into a religion and believe whole heartedly that their way is the only way have been programmed by their leaders that anything else is evil. This tends to be reinforced by their peers who have accepted this creed. We see this most recently with the discriminatory behavior by city councils who uninvite Wiccans to say prayer at the beginning of meetings and say ridiculous things in regards to their beliefs being evil and inspired by Satan. What is it about being different that inspires people to demonize another person, or group of them,  and make them a target of hate and disdain?

I have personal experience of this ilk. When my ex and I were newly married I came out of the closet to my in laws because in the course of a conversation they admitted to having felt and evil presence on their land and told me they went around its bounds praying. . . as a witch I was rather impressed that they would thing to do something as magical as this until the next words out of my mother in law's mouth:  " but it's not like we were doing magic, magic is evil." The first thought in my mind was: what???? that IS MAGIC! I immediately  came out with: magic isn't evil. Life is magic.  Well as you can guess, I have been evil in her mind from that moment forward and the conversation degraded from there. At one point in time, while being ignored at a family gathering she pointed to the cover of my by Oak Ash and Thorn book: you know the one, the one with Cernunnos sitting peacefully on the earth, well any way, she opened her mouth to say" that is evil." As the years went by her perception of my spirituality kept coloring me as evil because I was different and practiced spirituality differently than her. She even back handedly accused me of putting the evil eye on her land at one point. She and her husband came over for a visit in which she asked me if the evil eye could blight land. I told her yes it could over a prolonged period of time and left to sit. She tutted and said she didn't realize that, however, my mind immediately went back to a moment after our daughter was born, my mother in law had me have everyone touch the baby so that she wouldn't get the evil eye. I thought it funny she would ask me such a question and then it dawned on me. I was being accused. There was nothing at that point I could do that was correct, right and good. I made a charm based upon Mexican magic practices to protect her hearth and home from the evil she was perceiving from one of my aloe vera charms. . . they took that as a sign of admission of guilt. Her fear of something she did not understand and very apparently didn't want to understand made her a wrecking ball in our relationship.

Now this is a very personal example of how fearful people behave. They do it in a manner that is underhanded and sneaky so that they can get away with bad behavior and look pious doing it. Evil is not in any one thing, difference, being, or belief. Evil is an act. It is a pattern of behavior that undermines the trust and well being of others. Evil is indeed a fearful thing, but you have to understand what evil is in order to really recognize that it is not a thing that lives in something merely different than you.

so here is the dictionary meaning of evil: adjective
  1. 1.
    profoundly immoral and malevolent.
    "his evil deeds"

  1. 1.
    profound immorality, wickedness, and depravity, especially when regarded as a supernatural force.
    "the world is stalked by relentless evil"
    synonyms:wickednessbad, badness, wrongdoingsinillimmoralityvice,
    iniquitydegeneracycorruptiondepravityvillainy, nefariousness,malevolence;

The above is the meaning found online and perfect for our supposed ADD riddled society. However, when we actually look in the hard dictionary clarity is brought into view and a deeper understanding begins. I am looking at the Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary and evil is defined as thus:

1. morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked; evil deeds; evil life; 2. harmful; injurious; evil laws; 3. characterized as misfortune or suffering; unfortunate; disastrous; to be fallen on evil days. 4. due to actual or imputed bad conduct or character: an evil reputation 5. marked by anger, irritability, irascibility etc. . .

The list goes on for a count of 14 aspects of the word including an aspect of nature that gives rise to wicked behavior, but each time it is defined as a behavior. . . not a person or a thing or something that is different. A behavior.

We see evil every day. It is in the group of people spewing hate at gays, lesbians, and trans genders for loving another person who happens to be of the same gender. We see it in school yard with bullies both young and old. We see it in our politics, relationships, religious leadership and followers alike, yet, we insist on turning a blind eye and name it a being. What inspires us to do such a thing??? Two words: power and control.

When we grasp for power and control we are acknowledging that we have fear in our hearts that something will not go the way we insist it going. So we manipulate our environment and the people in it to elicit the reaction and behavior we want. Not all of this is evil. Spanking a child because the child dashed into the street or parking lot and almost gets hit by a car is not evil. It is an incentive for the child to remember to never do that again. Dashing into streets and parking lots without looking can be lethal and as parents our job is to ensure the maturity of our children arises. Did fear occur in the moment the child dashed into the street. . . hexes yes! However, it was a thing to genuinely fear. Undermining a relationship because of your religion  is also a fear and acting upon that fear in a destructive manner is evil. Not even fear itself is evil. . . however, unexamined fear can most assuredly pave the road to evil. Fearful people do frightening things.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What's Not in the Books

Many years ago as a baby Feri in training I was introduced to a guide, who has since become a trusty friend and ally, who first showed himself to me as a man in a pot. He gave me a name to call upon him and showed me a thing I did not understand until much later: alraun. I did some digging to try to understand the puzzle pieces he showed me, but they did not connect for a long while. It was not until I had gotten to know this guide and friend better and was initiated that the pieces connected. By that time I was already creating my own poppets and finding my own style and story. Vasalissa very much took the torch on that one, in many ways, she reminded me of my own Matron goddess: Hekate. In spite of the fact that Vasalissa had taken up the torch, my earth guide friend, whom you have heard me refer to as the Poppet Prince, still guided my hand. So today we talk a bit about alrauns.

The lore about them is pretty clear. They can be mischievous if not properly cared for. According to lore they require weekly attention such as baths, a proper place to sleep, anointings in precious oils, and just a talking to. How do you go about that??? I have found my own way in the dark, secret places of this on my own and discovered a few things on my own. My Poppet Prince has been showing me how he would prefer to be cared for and it is not exactly what lore has shown. While, yes, he enjoys a nice anointing in oils I consider precious but, when it is time to get to work, it's blood he requires. By now he has acquired a dark staining that gives him an mysterious appearance. He is clothed in my finest lace and blackest of ribbon. I tried a coffin like style of home for him but, it was not to his liking. He took up hearth and home in a cobalt blue jar with a silver lid that actually can be rung like a bell when struck. I was originally utilizing this jar as a wish jar and ritual bell but, I relented and gave it to him. He sits in a place of honor on my altar quite happy and snug and cozy there with the lid firmly atop while he's sleeping.

The talking to part is not what I expected when I first started my alraun care adventure. I expected that I would talk to him very much the same way we speak to our cats, dogs, sometimes fish ( and on occasion I do just that.) Oh no. That's not what it is for me. I learned very quickly that from the get go he speaks to me in dreams and in meditations when I go in to faery, we have a back and forth dialogue that includes words, images and sometimes sounds and smells. I guess I could have gotten the hint when I was first embarking on his creation but, I completely missed the point on that one and misinterpreted the dream. I think at that point the Poppet Prince was trying to warn me about my now ex husband and his extremely jealous behavior patterns instead of an intruding spirit. Oh well live and learn. The other puzzle piece that I have recently put into place actually came out of the mouth of my Faery Aunt while I was grieving the loss of my witch garden. She said that the spirit of the plant will come back to you when you re-establish new plants; the spirits don't just die and go away, they wait for a new host. It brings me comfort to know that now. Should, Gaia forbid, anything happen to the vessel I have cared for my Poppet Prince in, I can lovingly create him a new host body and call him forth again.

Alrauns have been talked about in lore as being created from the most coveted of witchdoms plants, most often as a mandrake root. Truth be known, I think an alraun is made from a root. Period. A root that you lovingly pull from the earth, replant in your personal plot and care for as a plant for a bit before you begin the formative shape. Yes the leaves will at first wither and curl. Yes it will come back if you have carefully handled the roots. In my experience, I actually had vibrant sow weed flowers bloom during this process as I was making offerings and connection to the plant. Yes, I put a sow weed sweetly in its own pot, brought it home and called it friend. I am a city witch and there things in the city that only urban plants know, like how to grow in the cracks of the sidewalk and push through asphalt to defy the shape and form society wishes to create of you.

If you are going to chose to work with alrauns, my suggestion is get to know the earth spirit called into it first. It is this spirit you will be working with. I also suggest only one alraun at a time until you come to a good understanding of how to connect and work with one. Since we know that books may be great sources of information and knowledge but, they are no substitute for hands on dirt under the fingernails practice. Just focus intently on your alraun, listen to all your hidden senses and instincts while following the pattern put forth by our ancestors. Understand that it is not exact and varies slightly from witch to witch ( and that's okay.) Most of all, enjoy the process. If there is no love and joy in what you are doing, you are doing it wrong. Do not be afraid to deviate from lore a bit because it is not in the books. There are lots of things that are not in the books and you may miss out on beautiful secrets. What's not in the books is within your own heart.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Jedis, lightsabers and PTSD

My experience with PTSD is not unique, nor is the methodology in which I have chosen to handle this beastie. And trust me, it is a beastie, anyone who deals with it or has to watch a loved one wrangle with an episode knows this for certain. My mother has helped me a great deal by customizing a meditative technique using the Silva Method platform for this issue I face and she has encouraged me to share it here with you and your loved ones. This is a method that need maintenance. It is not a one time deal and certainly not an emergency handler, although during an episode, coupled with reiki from a partner, it helps significantly and will help bring you out of the episode within a few hours instead of a 24 hour- a week long dragged out hell. My mother reminds me to go 'clean out my brain' when she recognizes and episode setting in and this has been a genuine help for me. So with out further adou, I will walk you through the meditation for you to memorize and use or walk your loved one through.

We are going to count down from 3 to 1 and as you exhale,  see the number 3 three times and mentally say the number 3 three times in your mind.

take another deep  breath and as you exhale say the word 2 three times mentally and see the number 2 three times.

take another deep breath and as you exhale say the word 1 three times mentally and see the number 1 three times.

you are now at level one, you can use this level for any developmental work you wish. we are going to deepen this mind frame by counting back from 25- 1 as you breathe deeply and fully.

( count from 25 to 1)

Before you, you see an environmental bubble. It is filled with all that you need to travel comfortably into the outer dark of space. Step into this bubble and seal the hatch behind you. The bubble carries you up into the air, past the atmosphere and into the great outer dark where you are surrounded with stars, nebulae, and planets. Observe these bodies as you travel further still a place where only the black lives. Here is where your work will take place.

( 30 second pause)

On your shoulder you notice a miniaturized version of yourself in Jedi garb carrying a lightsaber. Your Jedi-self cuts into the back of your head and crawls in to take a look at your brain. Inside your brain there are neural connections each carrying messages from your brain to your body. While you are watching these connections, you begin to notice that there are two colors being shown as the energy of your thoughts and body functions are crossing your brain. One color indicates healthy connections that promote a healthy mind and body. The second color is clearly unhealthy and reacts in negative manners within your mind and body. These unhealthy connections are associated with PTSD. 

(30 second pause)

Ignite your lightsaber and begin to cut out the unhealthy PTSD connections. Pull them out of your brain and push them out the airlock into the deep of space to be transformed by the universe for something constructive and positive. As you pull each unhealthy connection out of your mind, see them float away from you where they can no longer harm you or anyone else. Look within the folds of you mind. Find all the connections you can see and remove them one at a time. When you are done, your Jedi-self steps out of your mind, seals the incision that you used to access your mind and reintegrates back into you as a part of your healing body. Allow yourself to enjoy the trip back into the Earth's atmosphere by watching the stars and planets pass. When you are back upon the earth and back into yourself, take a few deep breathes and observe the clearness of your mind.

( pause 30 seconds)

Count from 1 to 5 with each breath. You will open your eyes, feel refreshed and ready to move forward with your day. You will feel better and better.

( count slowly from 1-5)

This meditation should be practiced every few day to make sure the connections remain fewer and fewer with each session. I have noticed improvements with my PTSD symptoms from the first meditation session. I continue to use this as a means to keep the attack few and far between in conjunction with my counseling and acupuncture. I hope this helps you and your loved ones as much as it has been helping me.

Friday, May 30, 2014

A black heart shadow

I sat in the bathtub tonight to soak out all the tension in my body. I could feel my shoulders creep into my ears and my rib cage squeeze my inner organs. Always a bad sign. I added a grape fruit for cleansing and baking soda for detoxing. Essential oils of lavender, geranium and lemongrass lingered in the air's moist heat as I slipped under the water. I rolled the litany through my mind: I shall not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that leads to total obliteration. . . The candle flickered casting shadows of itself like a dancers mirroring themselves on the wall across the bathroom. I watched the surface of the water to see if there was anything to scry upon.

I could hear my Dad's movie playing in the next room. He watches parts of one until it is over while he is doing his nightly exercise routine. Avatar has been playing the last couple of days. I wasn't really paying attention to it until something jarred me: "We will tell the sky people, they cannot come and take what they want!" My focus suddenly shifted in that moment from the surface of the water to the shadows floating over me, and then I saw it. A tiny black heart floating over my torso. It crossed me a few times about the same place my Uhane would be in my etheric body: the place where confidence dwells. The place where resolve forms and solidifies.

I am still processing that moment, but it sure does seem like a small piece of magic dancing in my bath. I have much to plan, much to think about, and much to do, but the night grows thin and the clock runs mercilessly forward.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mushroom Dreams

I feel like I should have mushrooms growing on me. After all mushrooms, eat away the dying decayed parts left after the life of a thing has left. My far away eyes have seen them while I dream. Great, glowing crowns and caps feeding on the rot of my long decayed marriage. I hope when they are done with their necrotic feast that life is revealed beneath. A glowing one. One that is absent of abuse and silent fear. I still can't see a vision of that life. I am still muddling through daily things: Get up, check the email for job apps hoping for a response to one, drink coffee, shower. . . banish the shadow in my mind's eye. He gets a little farther away, that shadow, but he's like a stubborn poltergeist clinging to this side of the realms determined to terrify the living. I still have thoughts of 'I can't believe I loved him, how stupid of me.' I try to remind myself that loving someone is a gift to be able to give and that trust is a blessing to give as well; the fact he betrayed those things is on him, not me. It doesn't always work on the PTSD monster and that one is a wicked, ugly beast, more so than the shadow.

I feel like I should weigh in on the Santa Barbara massacre of women. I have had to be careful with that subject, it hits close to home. My ex was talking about getting a gun before all of this blew up and I wonder now about what could have happened, what still could happen if he actually has one unbeknownst to me. (Since he has everything he wants, including an order for me to be a piggy bank, he won't do anything most likely. Can't kill the piggy bank you know. ) It is breath stealing for me to see out in the open such misogynistic views and self entitlement to something that is a sacred gift from one person to another. Demands for it, in fact, like the female gender owes every male what he wants right now with no expectation of having to give anything in return. It enrages me actually. I have never expected in all of my adult life that a man would simply give me a sexual encounter simply because I wanted it and thought I deserved it, not even from my husband. To have a whole class of males who think women should drop everything they are doing right now and surrender their bodies to them because they want it would reduce us to nothing more than chattel. A thing. Property. Haven't women come farther in the mind's eye of men than simply something to use and discard when we no longer fit their lives? What does this mean for my daughter? What happens to her when she says no and some male decides that her 'no' is irrelevant? Her father has already weighed in on what he thinks about that by how he has treated her mother, so of course, I have fears about that. Will he blame her should something horrible happen? Most likely. The dark ages for women, it seems, never left. it was only glossed over with pretty paint and dainty chains placed on us so we wouldn't notice the underlying leer much less vocalize the fear of the silent threat of death when we say NO.

There are men out there like Joss Whedon, who makes a point to write characters of strong women who will kick your ass if you look at them wrong, but does he know how hard it is for a woman who has had everything about her femininity betrayed and ground into the earth to rise and try to be Zoe, or Buffy, or River??? Does he realize how wicked and undermining PTSD is? Does he realize that for sufferers of PTSD just making it through a PTSD day without jumping off a bridge is a good one? Then there is Wil Wheaton, who may know a bit of the PTSD thing as he has bouts of depression. He champions us as well by speaking out about rape culture and stands up for geek girls everywhere. Then, of course, there is Sir Patrick Stewart who does things like stand out in the open with signs and openly advocates the halt of violence against women. I can't imagine how that small child inside of him still feels about what his father did to his mother and him.

They are just three of many men who come immediately to mind who do not view us as toys to be used and tossed and I am grateful to them. I tell myself on PTSD days that these are shining examples of masculinity in the public eye cheering women on, but the one I have in front of me the most these days is my own father who is learning how to handle the PTSD ( it's as difficult to watch as it is to endure, I am learning.) Some days, the only thing he can do is toss chocolate at me from a safe distance and tell me he loves me. I am grateful for that too, he has not ducked his head and run for the hills. He reminds me that society isn't all ill, but most of it is in need of serious change. The one change he continually advocates: leave. He's right. It's always the only answer to correct a society gone awry: leave. Jump on the next space ship and head for that colony. Would someone please build that space ship and colony dammit??? I'll work on the gardens and herbal medicine team. . . witches are useful you know;).

These women in Santa Barbara did nothing more than breathe and they were killed for it. One of them may have said no once on the insistence that Elliot get a personality that looked something human like. Women can insist all they want to be treated as something sacred as a human, but until more men scorn those other men immediately around them who treat women like a target, this issue cannot heal. This is not just a women's issue. It a men's issue. Men, it's time to really use that 'man card' for the reason it was given to you. No one can take it away from you, but you sure as hexes surrender it every time you let your buddies mow over a woman who may as well be your daughter, mother, wife, girlfriend, sister, lover, niece, grandma, best friend.

One day I'll get my Zoe, River, Buffy back, but for now, the mushrooms are working on eating away the rotten parts. Who knows, maybe some of the fun ones will grow.