Faith, Hope and Magick

The shower is a good place for me to think deeply. It seems to “wash away” the flotsam & jetsam of the day, clearing my mind… or, at least, focusing it, on whatever I’m trying to work out.

Tonight, for some reason, I while standing under the spray if the warm water, I started thinking about Magick. 

Yeah, okay, I’m a Pagan Witch, so Magick is part of my life on the regular. But, I don’t actually do a lot of spells, at least the way most people think of them.  I shift energy occasionally, putting good, positive energy into things I do, like cooking, or my crafting; even cleaning around the house gets a happy dose of “white light”, to keep the home feeling pleasant & welcoming. 

I use stones for focusing my energy transfers, too, but normally, only for myself. Like for healing, or meditation, or just for centering & focusing myself to regain calm during an anxious period.  I also keep a stone on my desk for focus while at work.

And, I’m good at getting red lights to turn green when I really need to get somewhere…

But, that’s usually the extent of it.

But, that’s not really the point of my post tonight.

My point, short story long…

I recently read some comments on a post in a Pagan group I belong to. Someone was asking for information about stones & their magickal properties, and one commenter got really shirty about saying that “Stones don’t do anything – they’re just rocks. You should use essential oils or herbs instead.”

And a bell went off in my head.

Of course stones don’t work for that person…they don’t have any Faith in it. They have no Hope. Therefore, their Magick will always fail.

One of the first things I learned in NY early training was that you have to believe.

YOU have to have Hope that the Magick will work to attempt a spell, then you have to have Faith that everything will happen the way it’s supposed to. If that means your money spell will see you winning $20 playing the lottery, or getting ok’d for overtime for a larger paycheck, then it works. If your love spell causes a stray cat or dog to follow you home, & you end up with a new pet, or you fall head over heels in love with your soul mate, that works too. And, if you do a spell that doesn’t seem to work, maybe the time wasn’t right for it, or maybe it was going to cause you to fall for someone abusive, so it was blocked by a higher power. Maybe you can’t have pets where you live, so instead of taking in a stray, you take it to the local shelter.

Any who, my point is – to do Magick…real, powerful, life-improving Magick… You MUST have both Hope & Faith. 

You don’t have to be Pagan to work Magick. You don’t have to light incense, or stir potions, or chant, or have “all the right tools”.

You just have to believe you can, you have to direct your will, and you have to accept the consequences, whatever they are.

Without Hope and Faith, Magick cannot exist.

Breakthrough

Talking to EldestDaughter last night, I was… well, the only word to describe my state of mind at the time – is “elated”.

Considering the surroundings she’s in right now, court-forced treatment (because of a technicality, and a vindictive state’s attorney who has awful professional ethics), my ED has been going through some serious navel-gazing.

And she’s come to some realizations that I’ve been hoping for YEARS that she’d find for herself.

And, as awful as it sounds, maybe this treatment that she was forced into… won’t be the worst thing in the world for her.  Maybe this is exactly what she needed, at exactly the right time.  I just wish the circumstances surrounding it hadn’t had to happen the way they did.

I know, this all sounds so murky and round-a-bout.

I’m trying to protect ED’s privacy here.

Needless to say, the circumstances that got ED where she is now, where she has to be for a little while yet, have fallen behind the strides and gains ED has gotten from the people she’s surrounded by now.

Last night, after talking to her, and finding out all that she’s come to see – with both eyes open – and the complete shock that enlightened epiphany most often brings – I wanted to cry with relief.

It’s been a long road, and I just hope that ED can see it all the way through.  It’ll be so much healthier for her in the long run, and she’ll be so much happier at the end of this journey – if she just sees it to its conclusion.

Opening your eyes to who you really are – seeing it reflected in other people, through their own eyes – is not always easy.  It’s often painful, confusing, and can cause anxiety, anger, and depression.  But it can also spur you into making changes for yourself.

Because I’ve often said that you can never change another person.  And no one can ever make you change yourself.

You have to choose, for yourself, to make changes because you want them.  It’s the only way that the changes work, it’s the only way that they’ll ever stick, and it’s the only way to do it without resentment and recrimination.  Because it’s all you.

ED has been surrounded by people who have it worse than her, people with problems that she can’t imagine having to shoulder through.  But, through listening to them talk, and through hearing about some of the things in their lives that closely mirror her own… she’s finding that she now understands so much more about herself, and why she does some of the stupid things that she does.  And she’s gaining the tools necessary to not only forgive herself, but to forgive others for their past mistakes – so she can let go of all the old resentments that have been eating away at her for all these years. 

Once she can reach that point?  Everyone who has a problem with her will have to deal with their issues on their own, she won’t feel guilty for them anymore, and she can simply choose to walk away from the negativity, instead of trying to fix everyone else and make everyone else feel better by giving up pieces of herself.

We talked about how one of the people in her group was talking about being a “people pleaser”, always trying to make everyone else happy, they emptied themselves out of emotion, energy, etc.  And when they had given everything they had, and there was nothing left, they had to “fill” that gap with something else, to take away the pain.

And ED realized that she’s been doing that with her Paternal Gene Donor for most of her life.  Trying to please him has repeatedly “emptied” her out.  Trying to “fix” others has repeatedly drained her dry of energy and will.  And once empty, she grew resentful.  Resentful that it was never enough, could never make those others happy.  So she would try to fill the void within herself with what she and I have taken to calling “dangerous fun”.  Those things that sound like so much fun, and friends will try to convince you are just “the best time ever”, but are dangerous to you, to others, and are almost always illegal.

And the one thing that ED realized that really made me want to cry?  That she is stronger than she ever thought.  She will make it through this, she will be better for it, and she will know that she can walk through fire – on her own if necessary – but that she also has a strong, loving, and unconditional support system waiting for her if she needs us.

I think my baby’s finally growing up, for real.

Thank you, Goddess, for letting me be a part of this, and for helping my little girl get through this time.

Funky White Girl

I’ve been in a real funk lately.

Downright gloomy.

It’s been one of those years.

But…

I’m determined that I’m going to change it.

I’ve had enough of the “downtrodden me”.

I’m headed up, cause I can’t get much farther down without SCUBA gear and a hyperbaric chamber.

So…

I’m going to start back up with something that I did a while ago on one of my other blogs.

I’m going to post – every day – something that catches my imagination, my light, my faith.  Something that brings me hope and/or wonder, that makes getting up worth it. 

It might be a collection of really short posts some days, but I’m going to do it for the whole month of January.

And see if I can’t get rid of these roadblocks in my way. 

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.

In The Beginning

It started with a book.

This book.

Originally, I just thought it was a book about a lost little girl, one who’d been abused by her parents, and had decided to “adopt” a new family, Fynn and his mum, in pre-2nd-world-war England.  I have no recollection of where I got this book, who gave it to me, or why it was in my possession, but I’ve had it for as long as I can remember, and it’s one book that I think I will always have in my library. 

I know it may seem strange to some, but this is the book that got me started thinking about religion vs. spirituality, church vs. faith, and how I fit in to this realm of theology that I had known all my life, but wasn’t really happy with.

This book made me think about what “God” meant to me, and how we fit into each other’s lives.

Anna was a “bomb with legs on”, as the author, Fynn put it.  She had a multitude of questions and ideas, seemingly too grown-up for a child of 4-5-6-7.  But the ideas that she had, the logic she used to answer the questions fermenting in her brain, and the simplicity with which she described her conclusions, drove a spike of light into my own head at a very early age.  And it split my head wide open to a whole new world, and a new way of looking at everything around me.  With childlike curiosity, an open heart, and eyes that saw more than just what was immediately visual, Anna taught me how to “Ask the right questions” of myself, and everything else.

I think I was about 9 when I read this book for the first time.  And while I wasn’t able to truly understand a lot of the science and math (still can’t, for that matter, I suck at math), I was able to grasp the simplest of her messages.

That God didn’t exist only in Church, and that Heaven wasn’t really a place up above the clouds, with a benevolent old man sitting on a throne, waiting to see if you could be “good enough” to get beyond his pearly gates when you died.

God lived inside you.  And God wasn’t necessarily how I’d been taught to think of him.  That he didn’t care if you went to church, because that wasn’t the important bit.  That he didn’t care if you gave him money, because what was he going to spend it on?  That the important bit?  Was just this:

[“Our local parson was taken aback when he asked her about God.  the conversation went as follows:
‘Do you believe in God?’
‘Yes.’
‘What is God then?’
‘He’s God!’
‘Do you go to church?’
‘No.’
‘Why not?’
‘Because I know it all!’
‘What do you know?’
‘I know to love Mister God and to love people and cats and dogs and spiders and flowers and trees’ – and the catalog went on- ‘with all of me.’
Anna had bypassed all the nonessentials and distilled centuries of learning into one sentence:  ‘And God said love me, love them, and love it, and don’t forget to love yourself.’]

 

Anna also spoke to Fynn about the nature of God’s gender, and she ended up coming to the conclusion that he had to be male.  Her explanation involved a piece of popped balloon, and a finger pushed partially through it, to show the genders.   And the funny part to me was that, while she knew, irrevocably, that this logic she used meant that God had to be male, it was just the proof that I knew told me that Deity was neither male, nor female alone, but both.  You have to have both, in nature, or species die.  Without both male and female, there is no continuity of any living thing. 

The real point I’m trying to make here, isn’t that I want anyone to follow my logic, or my path, or even Anna’s, for that matter.  The ways we came to our conclusions are varied, and I have often disagreed with some of the answers she came to in the book.  It doesn’t matter.

What matters – is that it got me to ask questions.  Both of myself, and of everyone else.  And to find the answers to those questions, for myself, I had to open my eyes wide, look around with an open mind, look inside myself with an opened-up consciousness, and open my heart to the possibility that all that I’d known before – was going to fall apart in the new light.

I was brought into Anna’s world at the age of Nine.  Anna herself never saw 9.  She never made it to 8 years old.  But what she brought to Fynn’s world, and to all the people who’ve read about her since… is immeasurable. 

This story was a story about a lost soul, and the journey of finding its way to the light of understanding.  But it wasn’t Anna who was lost.  It was Fynn.  And Anna was the guide who took him by the hand, gently, with a smile and a giggle, and walked him down the path to his own truth.  He was a real person.  So was Anna.  This is not a book of fiction, or fantasy.  It is a true accounting, made by someone who not only knew this little girl, and loved her, but missed her with a grief that was so all-encompassing it took him 30 years just to work up the ability to write her story down. 

In the end, everyone has to find their own Anna, their own light-bringer, someone, or something that helps them open up to the world of possibilities.  There’s no magic to it, no instruction manual, no sign posts along the way.  There’s the desire to know, the yearning for understanding, the quest for your own truth, and the willingness to accept that all the answers – might not be the ones you were looking for.  But, as long as you have the answer, you can work your way back to the question it fits, in time, and find the light of truth – waiting for you to come home.

In the beginning, for me, there was Anna.  And she brought me the light, and it was good.

*Today’s post is my 500th post on this blog.  I wanted it to be something special – hence, I bring you Anna.  Someone extraordinary.

Philosophical Sunday

I’m feeling rather introspective today.

In the last few days, I’ve had occasion to take a long look at who I was, who I am, who I’m becoming.  I’ve thought a lot about what it was that I used to want, what I need to get where I want to go, and whether the “needs” and the “wants” really match up, or whether they’re incompatible.

And I wish I could tell you that I have any answers to the questions I’ve been posing to myself.

But *sigh* I don’t.

The questions are still all there, swirling around in my head, spinning me in a million different directions, and never letting me stand still long enough to grab a point of reference to hold onto.

But, funny thing?  Even with all the chaos inside my brain, all the questions and frustrations of the past few days – I’m oddly calm.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m ultimately happier when life is in a constant state of flux.  When changes happen one after another, I don’t have to sit and worry; I have to act – react – and adapt. 

Yeah, I like the quiet times too.  I love being able to sit, just in one moment and be.  I like the calm of a still afternoon, spent relaxing, listening to music, or my children’s laughter, or just the play of the wind through the trees. 

But, those moments aren’t meant to last.  Those perfect spaces of stillness and balance are transitory, finite.  It is their temporary nature that makes them so wonderful, because you know that they don’t last.  That forces you to stop, “smell the roses”, and enjoy it, because you know that it’s not permanent.  The winds die down, the flowers wilt, the sun sets, and the moment is over.

Things change.

Things stay the same.

Both statements are true.

I am in the middle of changing my life.  I’ve already made a few of the changes – and whether they’ll be positive ones or not, will remain to be seen.  There are more changes coming, I can see them working their way toward me from down the road.  Some decisions are going to be harder than others, and I don’t know yet how I’ll react to the situations.  Some of the decisions have me really frustrated, because of the variables that refuse to sit still and behave in predictable ways.  The logic circuits are not functioning at full charge all the time, which leaves me confused and exhausted.  And there are times when I think about just chucking those issues out the window, “turtling up” and hibernating while the storms pass overhead. 

But something keeps me moving forward. 

Maybe it’s the idea that there’s a better moment up ahead. 

Yes.  A better moment.  With wind in the trees overhead, flowers in bloom, the sun dancing through the leaves….. and a second of balance – before the next change.

I’ll be ready.  I’ll be waiting. 

 

The Endurance of Memory

My grandmother was a lovely young woman, who has had an extraordinary life.  She is my role model for endurance, the overwhelming strength of her love, and for her willingness to pick up after the storm, and carry on.

The first time she married, she was only 15. 

She had one child, my Uncle Leslie, with her first husband, Earl, who answered the call of service, went off to World War II, and was killed.  I’ve never even seen any pictures of him, but Gram picked up her life, her son, and kept going.

A few years later, Gram met my grandfather, Merle.  From everything that I’ve heard from family members that remember him, he was a total practical joker, with a ready smile and a huge heart.  He adopted my Uncle Les, and he and Gram had 2 more children, my mother, and another Uncle, Marlin.

Then, my Grampa Merle entered into military service.  From family members, I learned that Grampa was totally dedicated to the idea of service to country being service to all the people he loved back home.  He was a man of backbone, as well as humor.

I’ve also had the privilege of reading the letters that my Gram and Grampa wrote to each other during the time they were separated for his training, and they are beautiful expressions of a wonderful relationship, both full of love and hope.

The letters that Gram sent to Grampa when he got shipped overseas, during the Korean War…. were all unopened.  I couldn’t bear to break the seals on those letters, once I learned that Grampa died shortly after arrival.   He never had a chance to read any of the letters.  They sit in a memory box in her home, tied with a red ribbon. 

Gram, having lost a second husband, and now having three children, picked up her life, and kept going.

She married her third husband, the only man I ever knew as Grandfather, Don.  They had one son that didn’t live through childhood, due to a heart problem, and then a few years later, another son, my Uncle, Jeff, that was to be her last child.

Then, when I was 5, my eldest uncle, Les, committed suicide due to emotional problems involving alcoholism.  It totally rocked the family, and there are still some wounds left open by that. 

By this time, my Gram had lost 2 husbands, and 2 children.

Each time, she came back, enduring through the pain and the heartache, and kept her willingness to open herself up to risk the possibility of pain, for the joys of love.

Gram and Grampa Don were together for many years, until one day, when I was 16, my mom stopped me on my way home and told me that he’d had a massive heart attack, and had passed away.

Gram had lost her third husband.  All her children were, by this time, grown and on with their own lives, but she still picked herself up, and moved on.  Still enduring, still dedicated to family, and still willing to love.

And, in her later years, she married again.  To the man who was my grandfather’s best friend in the service, and the man who brought his body back from Korea, Virgil.  They were married in a lovely, non-denominational service, with their children, and their grandchildren there to support and celebrate with them.

When Virgil was diagnosed with cancer, he began treatments, but it spread quickly into his bones, and he passed away a short time later.

Gram has, in her life, lost 4 husbands, and 2 sons.  More pain than most people would be able to endure, surely.  I’m not sure how I would have dealt with so much loss, and I’m eternally thankful that nothing of this nature has happened to me, or my loved ones.

But, the lesson that I learned from this woman isn’t one of pain.

This lesson…. is about the endurance of love, the endurance of life, and the endurance of memory. 

And that not all the old soldiers who survived the wars…  were men in uniform.

And, some who were men in uniform, didn’t survive.  And we need to remember them all.

I never met my maternal grandfather.

But if I had?  I would totally have been a Grampa’s Girl.  I know.