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In which I make a new thing

Once upon a time it would be that if you wanted to create a community online, you’d be on Livejournal, come up with a clever name to fit the character limit, put in a bunch of interests, promote a little, and watch the people come to you.

Now there is Facebook, where it’s harder to find people or communities by interest, but there are just a lot more people. And it means finding new ways to advertise.

Which is why I am now posting to my blog to say I have created a Facebook group devoted to Germanic witchcraft. It’s just getting started and I confess to making the group to learn as much as I can. If you’re interested, com take a look!

Back at Pagan Activist and other sharing

After many months away, this week I am back on Pagan Activist with some thoughts about community and how people come together. I didn’t go into my full thoughts about the matter, so I will add this. There is a reason why I still use the label pagan, even though by many opinions I do not fit that model. I am involved in pre-Christian traditions and practices outside of the dominant model of monotheism. The other people using the label may have a practice different from me, but that does not mean we can’t hang out, be allies, exchange ideas. Also, since what I do crosses so many borders, finding anyone else who does just what I do is nearly impossible. I find my community among Pagans, magicians, Discordians, initiates of African traditional religions, and even Christians, Jews, and Muslims. I can’t not do that now.

Also, as I type this I am listening to this interview Fire Lyte did on Inciting a Riot with Sarah Lawless. I am feeling inspired and re-energized just by hearing If you’re interested in witchcraft or magical crafting I would recommend giving a listen.

Tug tug

This came to me yesterday while I was at work but I did not get to write it then. Writing it as though it were still Wednesday.

The moon comes into fullness again. Despite another round of snow, and possibly ice, I can feel the land stirring. Waiting to shake off its cold, protective blanket and burst forth with new life.

I can feel Your presence, Old Man. I’m wearing your valknut and blue stones today. Your pull calls me. Not just yours, but Everyone’s. I’m not much one for formal ritual but I crave it now. A hundred things still hang over my head and I hate that I still can’t set aside that time for any of Y/you.

I’m trying. I feel the pulls, the cycles, the tug back to practice. And this time I want to find what will stick. Not just doing a little something for a week or two and falling off the wagon because it’s not quite right. I want formality and freedom within those boundaries. To run with my fetches, to have more time getting to know those spirits who come when I smear the salve on my pulse points. To do.

*-*-*-*-*-*-*

It dawns on me as I put down these words that I did have a reading in December. In some ways it matches two readings I had done almost two years ago. So often when I ask an oracle about my magical practices the message is to make a choice, and then do it. And yet I continue with uncertainty of what in fact TO do. I forget that choosing to work on one thing does not mean the other will never happen. Also, one day in the not too distant future all the estate stuff will be settled. This stage won’t last forever, and I need to start acting on it.

No better day to set some of these things into motion than on a snow day.

Prepping for Imbolc

I decided sometime in late November or December that my theme for the year would be reboot. After everything I have handled over the last few years, it seemed like the best idea. This month has been something of a washout. Between going back to work and adjusting to that, and Eddy’s passing, it feels like I am floundering most days.

Some things have helped. Last week marked 70 days since my mom’s passing, so I did the Kemetic prayers for her. Her presence in the Unseen world is strong and I feel her ready to work for me from that side. I appreciate it.

This past weekend I also adopted two cats. The house had been too quiet and I wanted some other moving life here. Allergies be damned! We’re all still adjusting to each other, but my boy is already showing he’s a big mama’s boy of a cat.

Despite this generally suckastic month, I did decide on some resolutions for the year and do intend to find some way to make them happen.

1. Make the house I inherited into my home.
This isn’t just changing around the furniture and removing a bunch of my mother’s possessions which I don’t want to keep. I want this place to be mine. As the year goes on I will be working different magics around the house toward that end.

2. Finish the homework for the hoodoo correspondence course.
Eddy would occasionally prod me on this one, as he was a graduate. I first signed up at the end of 2005. It’s one of those things where the partial problem is other parts of life getting in the way. The other is wondering if I know what I am doing enough to make it happen. And that leads into the third one…

3. Re-establish spiritual and magical practices.
Before mom went into hospice I realized that daily senut was too much for me. With all the reorganizing going on I want to move my shrines out of the bedroom and set them around the house. So far it’s been hard for me to figure out places. They need to be somewhat accessible yet not in the main line of traffic, and now not in places where the cats can knock them over.

I also want to get myself more attuned with the various cycles of the year. Lunar, European holy days, then Kemetic calendar, and Vodou feasts. Not too much to ask for, right?

Which brings me back to the title of this post. Whether it’s Imbolc, Ewemolc, Charming of the Plow, or Candlemass, the greater themes for this time of year center around preparation, beginnings, and healing. My intent is to put together some spellwork and a small rite I can do to mark the tide. The only way to get past my blocks is to work through them, and stop letting doubt and worry take center stage instead.

In an amusing turn as well, tomorrow’s dark moon is also slated to be a day long cleaning up at work. Trust me, we all need it there.

And the world grows drimmer again

This is making its way around the blogosphere rather fast but I wanted to share as well. My dear friend Eddy Gutierrez passed away suddenly yesterday evening. I am heartbroken. Houngan Matt of Kansas City Conjure has a short and lovely tribute here.

I met Eddy at my first Pantheacon back in 2007. He attended the Danballa sevis and came back with us for the debriefing. We all were so taken with him, or at least that is how I remember it. At the time he had recently developed the Unnamed Path as a modern shamanic tradition for men-who-love-men and had been involved in Lukumi for a time. Since I have known him, he had completed his initiation (God is good, so good in how that came together), started and graduated from Miss Cat’s hoodoo class, and set up as a professional rootworker under the name Dr. E. I was always so impressed with his devotion to spirit and his ability to turn his true passion into his life’s work. His death comes as a shock to all of us who knew him and we will miss him so very much.

Happy time happy time, sweetie. I love you.

EDIT: A fund drive has been set up to help Eddy’s family with costs for end of life matters.

Living the Mysteries

It seems fitting to write this at the end of the Mysteries of Wesir, because while I have not been marking the days myself, I have been Living them.

Many of you who are friends and acquaintances already know this, but for some this will be new. My mother passed away on Veteran’s Day after a long battle with cancer. Somehow just writing that sentence in that way feels fitting. Veterans. Battle. And my father was a veteran as well, along with his three brothers.

She was dealing with her second round of metastasized cancer. The first was in 2010 in the liver. This one was diagnosed just over a year ago, and was in the lung. She followed both conventional and holistic protocols, notably with dietary changes and supplementation. But the cancer continued to grow. This summer, she was on IV chemotherapy for two rounds, which did not work, and the second one was a drain on her body.

I’ve been helping her out for several months, because she could not move around as much with her breath being stolen as it was. The less she could be up and active, the more my workload rose. And this with my own chronic health issues.

She also did not want people to know she was sick, so I did not tell them, and thus did not have any outside support. Well, some people knew, and I shared some details, and my best friend was able to add up the numbers right. She wanted to come up and help me where she could but mom did not want visitors because they would tire her out. My mother, the Swede and good host, still thinking about others. So she and I decided that when the time came, whether she went into hospice or passed away, she would come up. And bless her husband, who said that she could come for up to a month, so long as she brought her one year old daughter. As my sister (which she is in all but biology) works freelance, she does not have daycare for the little bit, so it made sense and I looked forward to being able to spend that much time with both of them.

In the weeks leading up to the end, I did have chances for some incredible experiences. I saw my beloved Secret Chiefs 3 open for Goblin and met yet another member of the fan community. I attended my first Vodou fet outside of Danballa sevis at Pantheacon and celebrated some of my community members becoming hounsi. And decided that next year it would be my time to enter the djevo. The weekend after that I saw Pearl Jam, met some people I knew from THAT online community, and engaged in a three hour singalong. I got to hear three of the four songs I wanted to hear…

My new theme song

Another theme song

and one other song from the new album which has felt quite meaningful since I first heard it. My voice was gone by the time this came on but I found it enough to sing along again.

The other song I wanted to hear but was denied was Just Breathe. But I think this one more than made up for its lack. Also, I went a little nuts at the piano starting in the hopes that it would be the full package. It was.

I also feel no shame that this was one of the songs which had me ringing up that same best friend and holding out the phone so she could hear it as well.

Those moments kept me in mind of life still happening, and friends, and love.

On Tuesday, the fourth of November, mom’s visiting nurse called me. When I was able to call back, she told me that I had to start FMLA the next day, because she was getting wobbly when she walked and needed someone with her at all times. Before this I had not even thought to start the paperwork, hearkening back to her not wanting people to know. The nurse also told me to cancel my travel plans to Florida (for seeing the best friend) at the end of the month, because we had suddenly gone from thinking in terms of months to weeks.

Each time I saw some change which meant she was not getting better, I would weep. Those moments, I had already started to mourn for the time when I would not have her here with me in the Seen world. And that day I cried hard. When I got home and we talked about it, I felt the tears well up as I said “I will miss you so much.”

Within a day there was a hospital bed here, I would picking up extra supplies to help in her care, taking a day off to be able to stay with her, going into work late the next day and getting my desk in as much order as I could in case of change. On Friday the 8th, her condition changed just from the time she woke up until the nurse came three hours later. I’d already planned to take a day off then to see Thor: The Dark World with one of my local friends, but we decided to cancel earlier in the week with mom’s changed condition. The nurse came at 11am, asked mom if she wanted to go into hospice, she said no. The nurse asked me, and I was not sure, so I said I would respect my mother’s decision.

Within an hour she had changed her mind. I think that was the first day she started to feel any real physical discomfort. Yes, through all of this she did not have pain, just the flagging energy levels and lack of breath.

I called one of our mutual friends, who had been helping out a lot in the preceding weeks, to tell her and ask to drive me to hospice. I also called two of her sisters, one in Sweden, one in Arizona. Her Swedish sister thought the call from me meant she had passed, so at least I had not had to tell her that news. But they started to call other relatives and let them know.

She got settled into hospice, and slept for the entire time she was there. The first two days, she was more lucid, knew when people were around, and even tried to get up. Forever the Swede, I am sure she was thinking that she had to get up because there were guests.

During the time she was getting settled in on that Friday, and I was handling paperwork, talking to people, finally getting the bulk of the FMLA papers handled, I called my best friend and told her it was time for her to fly up. Bless her parents, who paid for her to have a more comfortable flight with the little bit, and she booked it to arrive here around 2pm on Saturday.

(And I just realized I am turning this into a full chronicle of her passing, because I don’t know if I could write it all again. Thank you for staying with me to this point.)

Friday night was spent getting the house in a little more order and having dinner. It was a little eerie to be here, with the silence having the meaning it did that evening. She was never going to come back, and my heart broke even more.

The next morning I took care of buying food, saw some friends and was finally able to tell people what was happening, and get the support I needed. Then it was off to the airport with another local friend. There was no way I would make that drive alone.

We collected the sister and the little one and went right to hospice. Got there, and mom knew there was company. She tried hard to open her eyes to see the little girl who was there, but at hospice she was on some medication to help her straining body. And I think by then she was fully worn out. I talked to her, said all I could think to, then the four of us got food, and we started to get settled here.

Sunday was another visit, and mom was sleeping peacefully. The nurse pointed me out to some physical signs which meant that death was close. Each time I left hospice, I made sure that the last words I said were “I love you,” since I did not know if I would be back again.

Sunday night hospice called to say that she might not make it through the night, and would I like to come up? I declined, because I knew I could not handle being present for the moment of her passing. I put that in because in the last few weeks I have had enough people ask if I was there when she passed. Not everyone can do it.

Sister and I woke up the next morning, and our first thoughts were of shock that we had not been woken by the phone. I decided that morning to drop off the FMLA papers so I could have that done. Thank God and Gods that my boss and boss’s boss are so understanding so knew I would not be in that day. The night before I called more of the relatives with whom she had not been in as close contact to let them know what was happening. Some wanted to rush right to hospice, and I told them no. I did not want anyone to see her like that and instead remember how she had been. Plus, I knew that she would know who was there, and that would have caused her more stress than she needed.

Come Monday, the friend who’d driven me up to hospice went up in the morning to sit by her bed. During the night, a worker at hospice had stayed at her side the whole night. Bless that person, and bless hospice for all the good work they do. It has to be one of the most difficult jobs in the world. Said friend stayed the whole day, and I think another of mom’s friends was over for a visit. Even the minister of the church in which I grew up found her name on the role and paid a visit. Mom had become agnostic and me, well, I write this blog and live this life.

Shortly after 2pm that day I was on the phone with yet another person she knew to tell her why mom had not replied to her query about a visit the previous day, when I heard the call waiting beep, and I KNEW what it was. I wrapped up the call and within a minute hospice had called on my mobile line.

She went to the ancestors at 2:13pm that day and I know she was greeted by quite the crowd.

And as I spoke to the hospice worker with flooded cheeks, my little niece saw me crying and tried to hand me a biscuit. All I could do was hug her and cry more.

Then came the whirlwind of contacting people, having them tell others what had happened, and dealing with the logistics of the end of her life. The friend who went with me to the airport came over, having not gone to work that day due to her intuition telling her to stay home. And my boss, along with her wife, stopped by to visit for a little while. Later two of mom’s and my shared friends visited while I fielded more calls.

I’ve talked to friends and family I’d not had a chance to speak to in ages. Reconnected with old friends. Gotten closer with the more current ones. Gone out daily. Had someone cook dinner for me on a daily basis… save for the nights when we went out. Have had reminders daily of life going on, thanks to one adorable little girl. Got reminded of how much love I have. Planned for my beloved to come for a visit (he arrives on Tuesday morning and will stay a week). Learned two other members of my community lost a parent in the same week. Had people close to me either deal with serious injury or come close to death themselves.

This month…. I can’t even begin to describe it in full. The past week has been the start of the time of my actual mourning, needing that time in between so that it would not overwhelm me. And I know I will mourn in some way for the rest of my life. My mother was an awesome, generous, funny, interesting person. She may be on her way to becoming a star in the body of Nut but the world is still a dimmer place without her in it.

I am ready for this year to be over. To cleanse and purify. To take stock anew and start considering what to do with this part of my life. At least one person has suggested that perhaps the reason why I have not yet found a new job was so that I could be near to help care for her at the end of life. That is entirely possible, because I shudder to think what it would have been like to rush out here from somewhere else, just drop that relatively new life for a time, and handle all this. I’ve been present for everything, able to help, and able to see each of those final steps.

Hail to you, mom. May your ka be justified.

Wesir has passed West again. He again becomes King over the beloved dead. The cycles continue.

October magics 2013

Last Friday, while taking care of my usual full moon activities, it dawned on me that maybe I should also do my monthly candle spell. I thought about it for a time, then decided not to for this month.

Why? Because I was also getting my house in order in preparation for being gone during the weekend. It did not make sense to start a candle spell when I could not burn it on continuous days.

The weekend was enough to make up for it. After three years of saying an intending to go, I went to a Vodou fet in Long Island. The house was my mambo’s Mami, Mambo Marie, who I met earlier this year at our house’s “birthday” party. It took four hours of travel all told, most of it sitting on a train, to get to her house. With one (unexpected) exception, I had not seen anyone present since this past March or earlier. I needed this time with them.

Burdens weigh heavily on my heart. Some have been spoken, some not. But when Mambo Marie asked if I was well, I answered the question in truth for the first time. No. And had a bit of a cry over everything.  I got it out, then spent the rest of the afternoon talking with my friends/spiritual family. Laughs, venting, learning, and an overheated laptop battery were the order of the time. And we had to take some care, because some of the people in the room were at the end of their sevis tet and about to become hounsi. Knowing that I was present to celebrate such a major rite did much to lift my heart.

And I have decided that next year I will be taking that trip into the djevo.

The afternoon continued, some rain came, the skies got dark, I ate Thai food with two of my vodou/Kemetic siblings, got to see shrines that would make many of you drool, and headed back for the party. Tonight we would be celebrating Zaka, a lwa for farmers, peasants, and hard workers. Zaka is an old spirit to begin with, but I was not expecting to see him on the ground, hunched, barely able to walk. But it didn’t mean he was incapable of communicating, or asking for money, or demanding his food. He’s a joyous spirit and I could not help but smile when he was around.

We also had a few Gede show up, and one in particular who was a bottle of energy, zipping around the room, then wound up straddling my lap and humping his way closer. Oh yes, there were witnesses. I got humped by a Gede. That, along with Kouzinn (a female Zaka) putting her hand on my heart when she was there, and the hug from Ogou Badagris, did much to lift the burdens I had been carrying. Since I have gotten home I have done everything I could to keep them at bay. No more borrowing worry or trouble.

Even though I had woken up early that day and was tired upon arrival (and my passing out for a little while toward the end of the fet), the night ended too soon. It was time to get changed out of our blue dresses and depart. I decided to take the train home, since it was close to the time for Metro North to run again. Said my goodbyes, hugged people, declared love and how much I would miss everyone, then set out for the train. Good thing I had company for much of the ride. My body may have screamed for rest but my mind wanted to chatter and start to take in the whole night.

I slept on the long train ride and was home at mid-morning. And loved the nap I took that afternoon.

I know full well why it took me so long to make it out to Mambo Marie’s.  Reasons which made sense at the time but I wished had not happened. Nothing to change the then, but the now will proceed in a new way.

Mesi everyone. And since it is Wednesday when I type this, awo!

Autumnal and full moon magics, September 2013

On Thursday, I got back to doing my monthly candle spell. Missed it for August, may have missed it in July. Thank the Gods that it seems to be something easily renewed. Also, surprise, some of the areas which fall under its scope are getting renewed focus from me right now. Whichever one feeds the other, I don’t care. The point is that it’s happening.

I’ve also done some spiritual counseling for a friend, and with it we both realized we need to get some supplies to get some things moving again.

Today is the first day of autumn. There has been no ritual, but I have taken in the changes over these last few weeks. Heka happened today (and thank you again for that Shefyt!), and before I go to bed I might have some time in my pjs with the apple thorn to see what shifts with the spirits.

Happy holiday!