A Work in Progress

My parents told me, when I was born, that I was perfect.

But I wasn’t.

I was, instead, a perfectly formed container of pure potential.

Potential to succeed – potential to fail.

Potential to grow, potential to wither.

And it was up to me to use this potential.

I was a work in progress.

They say that I was formed by my surroundings.

To a certain extent, that is true.

We are, all of us, affected by every single thing that happens to and around us throughout our lives.  The people we come into contact with, change us irrevocably, and forever.  As we change them.

And, as the human animals that we are, we are also affected by the things that exist within us, as well.  Instinct, honed by millions of years of evolution, have created a race of beings with the potential for greatness.  Whether great joy, or great tragedy – is completely up to us as a species.  Personal emotions and ideas form the way we interact with the world, aside from the “trained responses” that are part of society and parenting, pushing us to make decisions either for gain or for loss.

And we make mistakes.

I know I do.

Sometimes, out of frustration, or anger, or some other strong, passionate emotion, I will say things that I will later regret.  I have done things in the past that I am not so proud of.  People I’ve hurt, including myself, have been affected by my words, my actions, in ways that I cannot truly comprehend.

Sometimes, I don’t live up to my potential.  I fall down, as the imperfect being that I am.  I stumble and give way to the instinctual “flight or fight” responses that every living, sentient species has within them.  I can be angry, and depressed, and occasionally petty or small-minded. 

I can, however, also be filled with joy, and laughter and genuine helpfulness, caring and compassion for my fellow earth-dwellers.

Be patient with me, please. 

I am a work in progress.

And in the future, there will be times when I will stumble, because I’m not perfect. 

But I have potential.

And I know, this may sound strange – coming from someone who follows the Wiccan faith – but the words are strong in their potential, and carry their own weight, no matter who speaks them.

“Forgive us our trespasses, as We forgive those who trespass against us.”

If I have harmed you in the past, I apologize.  I will endeavor to keep myself from causing harm in the future, but I cannot guarantee perfect success.  I will endeavor to live up to my potential, to work at becoming more than I am today.  I will strive.

We are all of us imperfect beings – full of perfect potential.

Works in Progress.

A Murder of Crows

Standing outside my office building yesterday, I watched in wonder as a murder of crows gathered, swooping and gliding, over my head.  20-25 of them – black slashes drawn boldly against the sky – they cawed raucously to one another as they danced overhead.  Spiralling acrobatics punctuated their flight, as they would come together, screaming and diving, then splitting into smaller groups that would spin around one another, only to meet up again with the others, and circle back to the spot directly over where I stood.

We have crows in our city, they’re everywhere.  But this is the first time I can ever remember seeing the aerial display that I saw yesterday.  It was almost as though they were trying to tell me something, since they would swirl out and away, disappearing from view for a few seconds, but would always return to the same place – over my head.

So, I searched my memory for meanings behind the crows… but all I came up with were the battle crows and the Morrighan.  Not comforting images, to be sure, with all the imagery of battles and death.  I knew, too, that there were different meanings between seeing 1 or 2 crows, to seeing a whole murder of them.

And the fact that they kept coming back to me, had me just a little uneasy… so I went searching for deeper interpretations.  And found this:

*”Ravens and Crows represent magick, mystery, and sacred law as well as battle, and the mysteries of the Crone and Matron (warrior goddess). A gathering of ravens is called an “unkindness”while a group of crows is a “murder”. They are highly intelligent birds, and have been known to follow armies for many miles. In Native American Myth, Raven is a Creator/Trickster god. In Celtic lore, the raven is sacred to Badb (whose name means “Battle Crow”and the Morrigan as well as Bran and Lugh. In Greek lore it is sacred to Hecate, and Apollo among others. In Norse tradition, the two ravens that sit on the shoulders of Odin are called Huginn and Muninn (Mind and Memory). As guardians through the cycle of death and rebirth, the scintillating rainbow colors in their dark wings remind us that even in the midst of darkness we have the power to touch the light.” *

I know that I’m reaching a new place in my life.  I’m a grandmother now.  I’m finished with the “having children” part, and have moved into the “almost done raising them” phase.  YoungerDaughter is graduating from high school this year, and OnlySon is, of course, now a teenager.  Pretty soon, they’ll all be off on their own adventures – and I’m fine with that.  Truly.

There are still struggles, and I’m going through some of them now, having changed last year from being “Married – with children” to “Single Mom, single income”.  It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve managed.  And now, with the addition of 3 more people to the household, it’s become a whole new type of struggle.  We’ll get through this, too, I know – but it won’t be easy.

And maybe, just maybe, that’s the message that the crows were trying to impart with their aerial dance and mock battle yesterday. 

“Join with those around you, for if you fly alone… there is no dance, no glorious battle to make life better… Dance, fly, dive and soar… chase the dream of something better – and make it yours.”

The Vortex

So, a couple of friends suggested to me that I set up a magickal “sink hole” or “vortex of doom” to help keep negativity out of my house during the baby shower I’ll be throwing for EldestDaughter in a couple of weeks.

I’ve actually done this before, for a friend who had someone negative coming to their house on a regular basis.  It worked, sometimes a little too well, so I’ve decided to post the process I used here, for those of you who are of a mind to try something like this!

First, clean the area that you are going to be using to set this up.  A dirty space doesn’t work well for magick.  You have to do the physical work, to help the visualisation manifest in reality.

I’ll use my front door as the example, since that’s where this is going.

Step 1:  Sweep, clean up underneath the step too, if you can get to that area.

Step 2:  Center yourself.  Place your feet about shoulder-width apart, and close your eyes.  Hold your hands out, palms down over the area (you don’t have to put your hands on it, just hold them above the space), and visualise a white light/water/wind/etc. (whatever you use for cleansing) cleansing the area.  You can also use salt water, incense, a candle flame, or a stone, if you prefer.  It’s up to you how you get rid of any “leftover static”.

Step 3:  With eyes closed, visualise a pentagram, made out of your favorite element (earth, wind, fire, water), and see it right where you want the sink hole/drain/vortex to be.  Once you have the pentagram clear in your mind, see it begin to spin, slowly, counterclockwise.  You can, if you so choose, have a chant you speak at this point, such as “No negativity shall enter here,” or “No harm brought in, let happiness win”.  Again, your choice.

Imagine that this spinning pentagram will pull any negative energy from anyone who steps on or over it.  It will drain the negativity out of them, and send it into the ground, where it can be changed to natural, non-specific, energy again.  Neither negative nor positive, simply neutral. 

Just remember, you want to have your intent clear when you set this up.  There can’t be any harmful thoughts going into the setup, or you risk having it backfire on you.  Karma will get her way.

I’ve got some work to do before I can set this up at my house.  My intentions, right now?  Not so pure.  But I’ll get there.

D.F.W.M.

I’m usually a pretty easy going person.

I try to get along, not cause drama, and if there is drama, not make it worse.

Of course, I have drama in my life sometimes, you can’t totally get away from it.  And when this happens, I normally will hole up till it’s over, or try to work around it, mediate it, or….

I simply put on my alter-ego… Tawanda…

And shut it the hell down.

I had a moment like that yesterday.  And Tawanda was only too happy to make an appearance.

You see, a few years ago, a friend (name withheld because of privacy) and I started a group.  It was a Pagan group, designed to allow people in my area to have a place to meet, greet and get together, without being afraid to talk about things that many non-Pagans wouldn’t necessarily understand, or would think were just downright “weird”.  It wasn’t meant to be a “coven” of any sort, no real structure, and no real rules other than “Play nice”. 

The word “Independent” is stated very clearly, right in the middle of the group’s name, to let people know that this wasn’t just for people looking to belong to a coven, but to those who choose to also celebrate, practice, and simply live, in their own particular way.  No obligations to attend any meetings or functions, no dues, no feelings of guilt if you couldn’t make it, or just plain didn’t want to.  It was meant to be friendly get-togethers and sharing things that  we have in common.  Or learning about how people do things differently.  Whatever.

Just this last year, when Facebook introduced the idea of “Groups” on their site, I figured that this was a good way to allow our bunch of rebels and rabble-rousers a place on the social network to meet and hang out.  So I set one up for this particular and peculiar band of “Independent Pagans”.

Basically meant to be an internet “cork board”, I wanted to give the community a place to hang their conical hats, meet others who hadn’t been able to come to the picnics and get-togethers we’d had in the past, post new get-togethers for all to see, and just generally hang out with like-minded people.  It was never intended to be anything more than that.

Until yesterday, when someone decided that the group needed a “mission statement”.

Well, I thought I’d spelled it out pretty clearly, right in the description of the group:

“A place for pagans in the area to network, post events, chat with other pagans, and have fun!”

Simple, to the point.  Just the way I wanted to get started.  Then, this person decided that they were going to not only put forth this mission statement… they were going to tack the name of MY group on it.  Rather like ripping my baby from my arms and calling it theirs, telling everyone that it was going to grow up to be just like them.

Ahem.

Remember me?

The person who created the group in the first place?

Yeah. 

When I read the initial posting, I had to hold myself back from immediately ripping this person a new orifice.  I was on my lunch break, and knew that, for as mad as I was at the time, it wouldn’t be pretty, or polite.  It would be downright nasty.

So I kept mum until after work.  In the meantime, the friend who helped me start this group went on and posted a query as to the other person’s intent.  And got a snarky remark back.

Game on.

I was polite.

I was tactful.

And I was also very, very…. honest.

Some might call it  – blunt.

I saved the actually angry stuff for my own personal page.  Basically saying “Don’t F*** With Me”.  I have a reputation, you see, that when someone pushes me?  I push back.  And I don’t back down.

A brief apologetic post followed a couple of hours later from this person.

Nuff said.

Play nice, kiddies…

Tawanda out.

The Reason for the Season

Samhain.  All Hallow’s Eve.  Halloween.

Each of these names mean something different to everyone you speak to.  And the legends, stories, and mythology come from many different sources and histories.

Some you talk to, will say it’s all about the costumes and the candy.  Some will say that it’s about decorating your house with ghoulish images, and about setting up scary scenes for people that come calling.  Others will say it’s all about spooky movies, and hiding behind corners to pop out and frighten your friends. 

There are a lot of different ideas about the holiday found at the end of October.

And so, I’m here to tell you about my reason for the season.

Yes, I love the costumes, the candy, the decorations filled with spiders, bats, ghosts, skeletons, and other creepy things.  I love the spooky, scary movies and the rest of it.

But, when you get right down to the whole feel of the month of October, and the actual night of Samhain… something changes for me.

In the Wiccan faith, and in fact, over many of the Pagan beliefs, there is a consensus that the veil between the living and the dead is thin at this time of year.  That those on the other side of this barrier have the opportunity during this season to come to our side a little more freely, with a stronger sense of purpose and energy.  They have greater access to the living, and can speak to us, bringing us signs of their presence.

More magickal spells are done at this time of the year, I believe, than any other.  Partly, I think, because of the heightened awareness people have of the possibilities of what magick can do, with all the attention that paganism get.  Witches play such a huge role at this time of year, due to the media hype, that they get asked at this time of year more than any other for spells. 

But the strongest magicks are those that deal with honoring those who have passed before us.  Seances, which I personally will not do, just for personal reasons, are popular during this season.  I don’t believe that the spirits need a seance to manifest during this time, and to hold one… well, I feel that it’s disrespectful to those spirits who wish to remain at rest, as it more or less pulls them from the other realm to speak to and interact with this one.  Leave those at peace, in their peace.  And those that wish to cross over, temporarily, will do so in their own time and manner, without our interference.

Divination, the use of tarot cards, pendulums, runes, palm reading, etc., is done more at this time of year, as well.  The reason for this is that many people believe that it is spirits from the other side that bring these messages of the future for the person getting the reading.  I, personally, believe that the messages come from within the person being read, not from an outside source, but their own belief that Halloween allows this to be a stronger, clearer reading, opens them up more to this form of fortune telling, so it works better, because they believe it will.

In essence, the outward trappings of Halloween are fun.  I’ll be the first to throw on a creepy costume and traipse around behind my children for trick-or-treating, or simply to get into the spirit of the season for those that come knocking at my door.

But the reason for the season… for me… is to honor those who went before.

 And that, I do privately.  Quietly.  With dignity, respect, and love.

May Spirit light your way, and guide you home through the darkness.

Tuesday Theology – An it Harm None

The main tenet of the Wiccan faith is the Rede, shown above.

Basically?  It means that as long as you are not harming anyone, including yourself, you are free to do what you wish in your life.

Imagine that.  Freedom of choice.  Freedom of will.

Freedoms that we now enjoy in our nation.

After the news on Sunday night, I know that many people rejoiced that one of the world’s most heinous terrorists had been stopped from ever harming another living soul.  I was one of the people that found this to be welcome news.

But.

I also know that there are many people out there that find the idea of killing someone, even someone as evil as that man was (I don’t wish to give his name anymore space here, or anywhere, because names have power), to be just as wrong as what he did.

I disagree.

I do believe that you need to refrain from doing harm, to the best of your ability and knowledge. 

When I do any magick, and when I teach people about the ethics of Wicca and Witchcraft, I teach them that they need to be mindful of the consequences their actions could have.  They need to remember that all actions have results, and when you seek to change the world around you, you not only have to be aware of the changes you’re seeking to make, you also need to remember that everything you do, will affect others.  Not always positively.

Responsibility.

You have to accept it for the things you do in your life.

And whether that man ever took any real responsibility for the horrible things he did, is debatable.  I won’t debate them here, however. 

He’s being judged by a power by far higher than anything that we humans could ever hope to be. 

But, to get back to “An It Harm None”.

Yes, you should seek to avoid harming others.

But when the cost of not harming is greater by far, such as in leaving a man to run free, and allowing him to cause so many others to be harmed, or killed, on his orders… then something has to be done.

And yes, his followers may choose to follow in his footsteps.

But he won’t be making any new ones.

And his days of harming others….. are over.

I, for one, breathe a little easier today.

And, whether you believe in Allah, God, the Goddess, Buddha, or any of the other millions of names of God, Cosmic Karma, or whatever – Justice and Responsibility will always catch up with your actions.  Whether it happens in this life or the next, it will come. 

It has come for him.

“I have never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.” — Mark Twain

Clumsy

I am generally a pretty together person most of the time.  I speak with confidence at work,  knowing that I have a decade and some change of experience at my job to back me up.  I can talk knowledgeably about the work I do, and enjoy helping people that call in and don’t know what to do for their real estate closings. 

I also have had some really good training over the years, and I rely on what I’ve been taught to help me.  There is even a handbook for most situations and occasions.

When I’m teaching my Wicca 101 classes, I’m likewise usually pretty on-the-ball.  I do prep work ahead of time, and I’ve been studying and practicing my faith for 14 years now.  I will never “know it all”, but I know enough to teach beginners, and to work with those who are more knowledgeable with relative ease. 

There are literally TONS of handbooks out about how to teach and learn about Wicca.  I know, I have a whole collection of them. 

But.  When it comes to one-on-one, interpersonal relationships?  I’m a total klutz.  At least, until I figure out how I fit into a person’s life, and just where my comfort zone and theirs connect.

When I first meet someone new, I am pretty shy.  I’ll sit, quietly, and just listen.  I don’t know what to say, so I learn as much as I can about the other person, to find out what their “weirdness quotient” is. 

I can be pretty strange and I don’t want to squeak the norms at first meeting.

But, once I get comfortable with someone….

I have a tendency to pour out all the marbles in the toybox of my brain. 

Some?  Have a great time with that, and bring out their own marbles to swap, share, and play games with.  And it’s a blast!

Others?  Well, it can be a bit much for them.  Either they give me the terrified glance you’d give a rabid squirrel, and back away slowly until they’re out of sight – or they give me fair warning that I’ve overstretched their “baloney-boundary”, and I dial it back a notch or 12.

And I feel bad when this happens.  I don’t mean to scare people.  Well… not most of the time.  Sometimes, it’s all in good fun. 

Sometimes?  I’m just clumsy.  And there’s no handbook for this.