A Request for Compassion

Map of Sioux County, North Dakota highlighting...

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I am not one that normally shares a lot of stories that I read or see in the news.  I usually leave this to the pros, but this one touched me so profoundly tonight, that I couldn’t help myself.

One of my dearest friends teaches at a school in Fort Yates, not far from Bismarck, North Dakota.  She learned of this story, and shared her request for prayers for the people injured in a house explosion early Monday morning, at about 4 am. 

It is so far said to have been a propane explosion, although the authorities have not finished their investigation. I don’t want to post more information than has been stated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the state Fire Marshal’s office, who are investigating, so I’ll leave it with what has already been posted in the news media stories.

  The explosion blew the roof off of the one-story home.

There were 5 people in the house at the time, one of which is a baby, who suffered only minor injuries, due to the quick thinking of one of the other people in the home covering the infant with their own body in the blast.  At least 2 of the people were airlifted from a Bismarck hospital to a hospital in the Twin Cities with severe burns. 

To read the full story so far, click this link.

I ask that you please keep these folks in your thoughts and prayers, and I will try to keep you posted if I learn anything more.  I do not, at this time, know of any donation information, but if I learn of it, I will post it for those of you that are able to assist, if you choose.

I am not Native American, and would not seek to offer information on a spiritual path that I am not familiar with, but I do personally offer my prayers to Kwan Yin, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy and Compassion for these folks.

Blessed Kwan Yin, hold these people tenderly in your arms and in your heart.  Bring them the solace of love and the well-wishes of all those with compassion in their hearts for them at this time of great tragedy.

May the light of comfort touch them, and bring them healing from their pain and suffering.

Blessed Be.

April 1 – Really?

I’m pretty sure that someone told me that Spring was here.

I think maybe it decided it didn’t like North Dakota, and fled south.

But, then again, maybe it’s just working itself up to sticking around, by taking baby steps.  I have some pictures as proof.

First of all…..

At the local K-store, I see that the carts have begun their yearly migration towards the cart corrals.   They’re not actually in the cart corrals, you see, more scattered willy-nilly around the outside, as though waiting for that final big THAW, to actually commit to the full migration.

This signals a shifting in the temps, because during the hard, winter months?  They sit, shivering, huddled right up next to my vehicle.  At least, that’s where I always find them when I come back out of the stores, so I’m assuming that they either want a ride to somewhere warmer, or they’re just looking to be adopted.  Either way, I shoo them off to find other families.  I just simply don’t have the time, or enough WD-40, to look after them all. 

And Jack, our resident wheel-hater, would simply go ballistic if I brought these 4-wheeled monstrosities home with me.

Yes, anything with wheels attached gets chased, and attacked, with much loud barking and whining, when this big boy’s on the prowl.  Leave the roller-blades at home.

Next, we have the vision that greeted me yesterday morning as I was on my way to work.

Fog, thick, misty, and swirling around the buildings.  This usually means that the air is starting to warm up, and is planning on staying that way.

And yet, this afternoon, I got Winter Storm Warnings on my Weatherbug App on my Blackberry.  Saturday night….. all the way into Monday.


But lastly?  I am pretty sure that Spring must really be on its way.  Because there are flowers everywhere…

Wait – What?  They’re from a flower shop?  Are you sure?  But they’re so SPRINGY

Oh, alright, so they’re a gift from a friend that thinks I need to smile more.

And they work.  I smile every time I look at them.

And… the women in the office?  Totally jealous.  BONUS!

So, is Mother Nature playing the ultimate April Fools’ Joke on us all?  Only time will tell.  But I’d be willing to bet, she’s just getting us ready to be truly grateful for a FABULOUS SUMMER.

And I’m gonna believe that’s the truth, and make it so.  Happy Friday, friends!

The Horse Napper

We had horses when I was younger, and I was completely mad about them.  I spent every spare minute I had, out in the pasture, sitting with them, brushing them, riding them.

When we’d go to friends homes that had horses, that’s where I’d disappear to, not caring if the animals were friendly or not.  Even if they weren’t, I’d still be found, staring longingly through the fence at the beautiful beasts on the other side.

And, if there were babies, I was crouched in the middle of the pasture, patiently waiting. 

I’d wait for hours if necessary, quiet, head down, non-threatening, with possibly a little bit of tasty grass clutched in my sweaty hands. 


And, many times, it paid off.  The foals would approach, cautiously, fearfully, tentatively.

And once in a while, I’d get one to relax enough, to trust me enough, to let me be his or her pillow.  Stiff-legged, I’d sit, totally blissed out on the smell of horses, sunshine and dust.  Back cramped and a smile wide enough to split my face in half, petting the softest hides on the planet, to my young, horse-crazed mind.

The picture above is not my first shot at horse-napping, nor was it my last.  It was just the only one that got captured on film. 

I’m not especially known for my patience, in fact, most of the time, I’m the one chomping at the bit to get moving, get it over with, rip the bandaid off all in one go.

But I will wait for some things.  Patiently, quietly, with sweaty palms and heightened awareness.  When it’s something I truly want….. I can wait.

Tuesday Theology – SPRING!

March 20th signals the Spring Equinox, and I am SO READY!

Spring Equinox is one of 2 days of the year when the light and the dark are nearly identical in length.  This is when we in North Dakota generally truly begin to feel the warmth of the returning sun, and the signs that life is returning to us once again.

I, myself, begin to start getting horrible cabin-fever about this time of year, after hibernating for the last few months.

Wiccan theology paints the Goddess, at this time, as the Maiden Spring – Persephone returned from the depths of Hades, and once again reunited with her mother, Demeter.  Persephone is gowned in flowers, and is followed by rabbits, ducklings, lambs, and all manner of baby animals.  She is the first blush of Spring, the mist of green that adorns the trees and carpets the ground, telling us that the grass will be returning shortly.  She is the joy of sunlight and music, after the long cold silence of winter.

And to celebrate this, we paint eggs and we plant seeds, infusing them with magickal wishes for the upcoming growing season.  We plant our hopes and dreams in the fertile soil of the world, nurturing and watering them carefully, providing them with the warmth of our hearts and protecting them from harm by keeping quiet about them.  Like making a wish on a birthday candle, you don’t speak about it, allowing them to sprout in their own way, with the consent and aid of the Goddess and God.   Knowing that, if they come to fruition, then they were meant to be beneficial to us.  And, that if they do not grow, that it was not the right wish, or maybe, not the right time for it.

And so, this Spring, I plant the seeds I wish to come to fruition.  I will nurture them, care for them, and nourish them with my hopes and love.  If it is meant to be, the Goddess will allow them to grow.  I have faith that what is meant, will happen. 

And, I have already had my sign that Spring is coming.  The geese are back in the park.

Wish #1 – fulfilled!

Sanctuaries in Time

I have always been a person that loves nature.  Throughout my life, I’ve found great joy and peace through climbing trees, walking through the woods, and crawling my way down a cliff that we had behind our house in Iowa.

And there were certain places, special places, that I always fled to, when I was really down, or simply needed the peace and serenity that these places held for me. 

The first such place, was at the bottom of that cliff I mentioned, in my hometown of Nora Springs, Iowa.  The Shell Rock River ran behind my house, and at the bottom of the cliff, there was  a small path, which ended at a large rock situated on the edge of the river.  Whenever I was needing time and space to myself, or fleeing troubles, I would go to this place, tucked away at what, for me, was the back of beyond, and outside of reach of others.

I could lay in the sunshine, with the rush of the water flowing past, and simply disappear in time.

Or I would make small leaf boats, and set them sailing down the river, imagining that they would make their way all the way to the ocean before stopping.

I went back a few years ago, and walked all the way down the hidden path to that same rock.  It’s smaller now, having worn a bit, and the waters having risen, but it’s still just as magickal to me as it always was.  A place tucked out of sight, out of mind, and out of time.

Today, I have another special sanctuary.  A place that I retreat to when things get tough, or I simply need a moment, a breath, of silence and serenity.

A public park in my city.  This place is not large, but even though it’s in the center of the city, it’s almost eerily silent inside the park.  Roads run all the way around it, with a small river winding through it, and I spend a lot of time there during the nice months, walking through the small paths, sitting in the grass, and simply soaking up the peace.

Walking along the paths, you get to see the Canadian geese that fill the park from spring to fall, and you get to feed the little goslings, who are totally adorable, as long as you keep your distance, as the parents are pretty protective and very hissy.

There are also a multitude of red and black squirrels in the park, who are very bold, often to taking food right from your fingertips.

This place, this park, is a very special space.  And even though it’s a public park, I still feel like it’s all mine.  There’s a stillness, a silence, that fills me when I’m there, and it brings me a lot of serenity. 

The sanctuaries I’ve found have always been outdoors, close to the earth.  And knowing what I know now, about myself, my faith, it makes a lot of sense.  And so, I’ll leave you with this.  There are places on this earth; wonderful, peaceful, serene places.  And if you’re lucky enough to find one, mark it on your mental map.  Hold on to it.  Because this could become a sanctuary, a resting place, for you, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  And that – is a treasure.

P.S. And yes, I ate the other half of that cookie. He shared with me, after all.


One of my friends got me thinking really hard the other night about human nature.

How people never really change, but just become more fully who they were to begin with. 

I’ve been struggling lately, trying to reconcile past, with present, and future.  And Monday night, as I sat at my laptop, trying to write this post…. my computer froze solid.

Wouldn’t let me work on it at all.  I couldn’t chat with a friend, although I could see her attempt to contact me; I couldn’t search for something that I wanted to use in this post, even though I could type the words I was searching for in the google bar; and even the words that I did get written into the post, were gobbled up into the ether, which I’m now trying to reproduce.

I think it was the Fate’s way of telling me to “Sleep on it”.  And so, I did.

Truth is?  I don’t have any answers yet.  I know certain things about myself now, that I didn’t when this started, but I’m not 100% certain of where I’m going.  I do know, that I’m not done working on figuring it out.

I don’t know what the truth is, behind everything, yet.

But I know that I’ll find it.  Eventually.

I don’t know what’ll happen next.

But I know that I’ll be ready for it. 

I don’t know, whether my life will stay the same.

But I do know, that I will be stronger when I come out the other side.

I don’t know if this is simply the next step, the next test.

But I do know, that my balance has been wiped out for now.

All is chaos inside my brain.

But I’ll figure it out.

THIS is not my first “trial by fire”.  The Goddess has tested me before.  And I will figure out the path I need to follow.

It’s not about what’s “Fated”.  I believe that we create our own destiny. 

I also believe that people can and do change in their lives.  It happens every day. 

I used to be a mean, ornery, snotty, arrogant, angry girl.  You may not believe it, but I was.  I know it, because there are things in my past that I did… that were not nice.  I’ve had the opportunity to apologize for some of them, and it felt really good.  But I still did them, once upon a time.

I’m still ornery, but in a more zen kind of way.  There’s a snap of snark occasionally, but it’s not mean anymore.  I’ve changed.  I’ve grown up, and I’ve learned how to work through my life, without totally burning down everything around me. 

So, if I go quiet, please don’t fret.  I’m merely working through a particularly sticky part of the knot.  Most likely, I’ll be lurking, wandering through the shadows, muttering to myself and most likely pulling hair out in clumps.

I will be here.

Tuesday Theology 2/22/11

Kwan Yin – Mother of Mercy, Compassion and Love

Saturday, February 19th, was the birthday of my Patron Goddess, Kwan Yin, also known as Guanyin, Kannon, and Avalokitésvara, among others.

My Goddess has a murky past.  Doing some research this weekend, I learned that there are many people that believe that the deity began as a male god.  Others believe that KwanYin was a hermaphrodite, being both male and female at the same time.  Still others say that Kwan Yin was a real person that lived in the Shang Dynasty in China (1600 BC–1046 BC).

My favorite story of Kwan Yin involves the legend of Miao Shan.  In this legend, she was a Chinese princess, raised by a cruel man that wanted her to marry well.  Miao Shan told her father that she would marry, only, if the marriage eased 3 misfortunes:  1.  That her marriage would ease the misfortune of the suffering that people feel when they age.  2. That it would ease the misfortune of the pain people feel when they fall ill.  And 3.  That the third misfortune it would heal was the suffering caused by death.

When her father asked who she could possibly marry that would ease these misfortunes, she replied “A doctor.” 

Her father, furious, wanted her to marry someone of wealth and power, not a “healer” of no note, so he threatened her, locked her up and took away many of her privileges. 

Miao Shan didn’t balk or back down, though.  Instead, she begged her father to let her live in a temple, as a nun.  Finally, he let her go to the temple, but told the monks there to give her only the worst jobs, thinking that would soon bring her home to do his bidding.

Instead, Miao Shan worked tirelessly, until finally, even the animals began to love her, and help her with her chores. 

Her father was enraged when she refused to return and marry as he wished, so he ordered the temple burned.  Miao Shan put out the flames with her own hands, but suffered no burns.  Frightened, her father then ordered her executed.

There are many tales of how she was executed, but they basically all tell the same story, Miao Shan was first sent to the Buddhist version of “hell”, where, through her compassion for the suffering she found there, she released all the good karma she’d built up over her many lifetimes, freeing so many souls that she turned hell into a paradise, and was kicked out by the ruler there. 

As she began her ascent to “heaven”, Miao Shan/KwanYin heard a cry of suffering, and turned around to see what was happening.  Upon seeing someone crying out, she decided that she could not ascend to heaven until all the suffering on the Earth was cured, and descended back to help.  Thus, she became a revered “bodhisattva”, which is a semi-divine Goddess. Forever between Earth and heaven, she hears the laments of the world, and seeks to comfort all.

Is it any wonder, that she is my Patroness? 

Happy Birthday, Blessed Kwan Yin.

Tuesday Theology 2/15/11

What is Wicca Anyway?

I know I’ve talked a lot on my blog in the past about being Wiccan, and little bits and pieces, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually described what it is to me.  The word carries so many different connotations for so many different people, and it can be difficult to get a description. 

There’s a saying:  “Ask 10 Wiccans about Wicca, and you’ll get 15 different answers”

So, today, I’m going to define my religious beliefs. 

You’ve officially been warned. *insert smirk*

The books all say that Wicca is “A Nature-based religion encompassing the belief in both a Goddess and a God as Deity, with a reverence for all living things, incorporating magick to cause change in every-day life.”

True, so far as theoretical theology defines it.

To me?  Wicca is the belief that all life has a sacred value to it, because everything is, in fact, connected.  At the atomic level. 

Yes, I use Science to define Religion. 

Blasphemy, some might say, including some of the Wiccans I know.  I’ve been told time and time again that Science and Religion are mutually exclusive, and can’t ever be combined.

Hooey, I say.

Because, one of my core beliefs is that all things in the universe are made up of two things:  atoms and energy. 

Atoms are the substance, and Energy is the force that catalyzes motion and change in that substance. 

All the atoms in the universe are touching at some point.  The floor’s atoms are touching your feet’s atoms, are touching the atoms in the air, are touching atoms from a tree outside my house, are touching… you get the picture.  To affect one thing is to affect all things, even if you can’t see the effect of it, it’s there. 

The Butterfly Effect.

Now, as far as Deity is concerned?  Well, check out the symbol for Yin and Yang.

Perfectly balanced between light and dark, male and female, in motion and at rest.  Everything in the universe struggles for that balance.  Nature abhors a vacuum, and seeks to fill it with the opposite element, to correct the imbalance.

So, for me, there must be a balance between male and female.  God and Goddess. 

In fact, the largest part of why I began to study Wicca was that search for balance.  Learning how to balance home and work, spirituality and mundane life, moods, etc.  Finding emotional and spiritual balance was something I’d searched for – for a long time, and Wicca gave me the freedom to find it in my own way, and the acceptance of peers that were also searching for their own way, without being told we were doing it wrong.

And I’ve found it.  I carry it.  In my heart, within my head, and on my body.

A balance between light and dark, male and female, and the elements: Air, Fire, Water and Earth.  It’s all there.  It’s all within me, attainable.  Sometimes I forget that, and I don’t act the way I profess to work toward, but that’s human nature.

I get back up, I strive, I stretch myself, and I try again.  That, too, is human nature.  And, as the books say… Wicca is a Nature religion.

~Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.~ Albert Einstein

Mama, I’m Comin’ Home

I had a switch flipped inside my head today.

By the simple act of a friend posting a picture of the Dalai Lama to my facebook.

The Face of Zen

In that one instant, it was like an old fashioned camera flashbulb went off in my head, and I could suddenly see much more clearly what I’ve been doing for the last few days.

I’ve been kind of cranky.

Now, most people probably didn’t notice, because I hid it behind humor and/or sarcasm.  But I know, now, it was there.  A constant tension, anxiety and an aftertaste of anger that’s been squealing at the edges of my nerves for the last couple of weeks, at least.  I can feel the raw edges of my feelings still cringing at the thought of some of the things that I’ve felt/done/said over the last few days alone.

And I’d been surfing that wave of discordance like an old pro.  I used to live in that zone, that constant anger and anxiety and depression.  And occasionally, I slip back into old habits. 

It’s like an old, moth-eaten, sweater.  You look at it, and think, “Hmm, I’m a little chilly, this looks warm.” And you slide into it, forgetting that once on, it gets tangled on other things in your life, tearing more holes in the fabric meant to keep you warm, and besides, there’s just this constant… itch… that ends up beneath your skin, and you can’t reach it, and it irritates you till you either throw yourself up against the wall, drag yourself through thorns to scratch it, or you take the stupid sweater off.

I’ve also been getting little “messages” from my patron Goddess, Kwan Yin.

But I couldn’t hear them, because the other stuff, the depression, the anger, the anxiety, was ringing too loudly in my ears.  I had my “snark switch” set to 11.

And Kwan Yin has never been a pushy Goddess.  For me, she has always said “To hear the words, you must stop speaking, be silent and still, and listen.”

Today, after seeing the Dalai Lama’s smiling face, I remembered what drew me so strongly to Kwan Yin and Buddhism, strongly enough to add a flavor of that to my faith, and to take one of their Boddhisattva as my Patroness.

It’s the peace.  The stillness of being and the love that radiates from within.  It’s the message of tolerance, hope and acceptance that everyone can be whole unto themselves, without needing someone else to complete them, but that the companionship is lovely.  It’s the warmth of the Goddess’ arms around me when I need solace, and her gentle nudging when I stray from the path I set for myself.  And I can lay down the anger, the anxiety, and the depression into her arms, and she molds them into light, into energy to be used constructively, instead of destructively.

I’ve been nudged back on the path.  Mama Kwan Yin?  I’m coming home.

Thanks for the reminder, Mark. I appreciate it.  I needed that.

But then again, I hear that’s what big brothers are for.

Tuesday Theology-Imbolc

February 2nd is tomorrow.  I love February 2nd.  Even with the continuing cold, and the darkness, I find myself looking forward to it, waiting, impatient, urging the calendar to flip over and be there.  Because February 2nd was the beginning of something very special to me.

On February 2nd, 1999, I formally declared my intention to be Wiccan, after almost 2 years of studying it, practicing as much as I could on my own, and weighing whether this was the right path for me or not.

February 2nd is also known as Imbolc, which is a Celtic word that translates roughly to “In the belly of the mother”; or as it’s also known, Oimelc, which translates to “mother’s milk”. 

This holiday falls around the time when the ewes were giving birth to the lambs, when the earliest flowers would crack through the snow’s crust to bloom.  The lambs, snowdrops and crocuses were welcome signs that Mother Earth had not abandoned her children, but was promising Spring to come.

Most people now simply associate this day with Groundhog’s Day, waiting to hear what Punxsutawney Phil has to say about the remainder of time before they can go outside without longjohns and mittens.  In the past, it was a day for weather predictions as well, but the people watched the snakes and badgers for their weather news, instead of groundhogs.

“Imbolc is the day the Cailleach — the hag of Gaelic tradition — gathers her firewood for the rest of the winter. Legend has it that if she intends to make the winter last a good while longer, she will make sure the weather on Imbolc is bright and sunny, so she can gather plenty of firewood. Therefore, people are generally relieved if Imbolc is a day of foul weather, as it means the Cailleach is asleep and winter is almost over.” Wikipedia

For Wiccans, at least for me, it is a day of renewal.  It is the day that I restate my vows to my Goddess and God, and to myself, reaffirming that I am on the path that I am meant to follow.  It is also a day for new beginnings.  It is the day of hope, of promise, that the seeds that were planted, that lay fallow for the winter, hibernating, are ready to sprout and grow. 

One of the seeds that I planted is almost ready to sprout.  It is full of promise, full of hope, and ready to grow into a lovely garden.  This seed is the idea that I was now willing to teach a class — Wicca 101.  I planted the idea last fall, letting others know that I was contemplating it, and was willing to go ahead, if there were willing students.  And they were.  I am going to be watching this seed sprout this Sunday, as my students and I get together for the first lesson.

It is a time of great promise, for the sun is returning.  Bringing light, warmth, and life.  It may be still hiding right now, not obviously visible, but it’s there.  It’s creeping up on us, slowly, stealthily, ready to burst out and surprise us with its beauty.

Get ready – it’s coming!