The Time of Growth and Opportunities.

Here in West Central Wisconsin the winter has been particularly long and extra cold. The Earth has slumbered beneath a blanket of snow and She has dreamed of burgeoning new growth of a Spring that at times seemed too far away. For those of us up here in the northern states, Spring doesn’t burst forth with a plethora of blossoms and greenery. That comes later in the season for us. Spring for us, means that the Mighty Mississippi begins to melt. The eagles come to feast upon fish that froze in the thick winter ice, and the ice fishing shacks are hauled away until next year when thick ice returns once more. The wild life begins rummaging about in search of tender greens that the melting snow has revealed, and the humans of the region are welcoming spring with a shedding of a few layers of clothing as we emerge from our homes to soak up some much needed fresh air and sunshine. Clearly the time of awakening and growth has come.

Thoughts of a garden pluck away in the back of my thoughts, as well as the anticipation of the chance to participate in the local community garden. My hunger to be in the woods, and connect with the spirits of this land through the trees as sap loosens and begins to flow through tree trunks once more, and shoots of green begin to creep up through the leaf litter to greet the growing sunshine. My hunger to learn of plant medicine, and edible wild foods plucks at my spirit as I look out to the bluffs, and towards the prairie.

In my world this season of growth and awakening has begun with a long overdue Initiation Ritual, and things have blossomed since. Already I feel a deepening connection to my spirituality. I find myself seeking to know more about the gods of my Viking ancestors and seeking out connections between the goddesses of the Norse traditions with the goddesses that I’ve always felt a connection with. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not attempting to skip and hop from pantheon to pantheon; but if there is a connection then there are ways in which I can build some deeper relationships with my ancestral connections while maintaining the connections I already have. I find myself looking for signs of what I should be doing next, and then as I’m riding with my sister to go see my mother two coyotes run across the highway in broad daylight. A sign to get moving. This is my time to “do the do,” and I hadn’t been. The next day, I smudged and did an impromptu house blessing, because I felt compelled to, and then an opportunity came…the sign I was looking for.

I’ve been chatting on and off with a Facebook friend who is a Master Herbalist and Naturopath. She offers a variety of educational opportunities through online correspondence and live courses, up to and including (insert my dreamy eyed longing here), a Master Herbalist Program that is the real deal. It’s my dream, but really at this point I’m excited at the thought of any herbalism education opportunities. I just can’t generally afford the formal programs. We had been talking about this conundrum, and had left it at…when the time was right, I would know and somehow find a way to make it happen. We none the less seem to have a connection that goes further than being Facebook friends.

A few hours after I did my smudging and blessing of the house, she sent me an Facebook message explaining that she was writing up a “want ad” in search of a couple of folks interested in working as intern assistants and thought that I might be interested in the opportunity as the exchange for the internship was credits towards course tuition. Well, you don’t have to smack me upside the head and tell me I’m a nettle lover to see where this is going. I submitted my letter of interest as soon as the want ads went public, and you are now looking at the Editorial/Personal Assistant at Green Wisdom! This to me is the most amazing opportunity to work with a wonderful wise woman, and be a part of something bigger than my own little circle of the world. It also gives me the opportunity to start pursuing a passion, that I can be truly proud of as a mother, as a woman, and as a pagan. I am ecstatic!!

Other opportunities have popped up as well. My beaded necklaces will be returning to the co-op where I used to work, and some new ideas for beading and jewelry have poked their heads through the stagnation of my own spiritual winter. This spring has growth in abundance, and blessings to be had if we are willing to reach for the sky as the eagles pick fish from the ice melt, and the rivers surge to life after this long season of slumber.


Breaking Writer’s Block and Empowering My Children.

There it goes again. That blank spot that was once an idea for a blog post. That brief moment of distraction just long enough for me to lose the flow of words that were only a few short hours ago percolating in my preoccupied mind as I scramble around looking for something to fix the kiddos for lunch, hunt for a diaper, and scold the dog for barking at every single person who just happens to be walking down the sidewalk today.

It’s been a while, a long while since I’ve tried to come up with a post. I think about it, admonish myself for not having written a post sooner, ponder on what to write, and finally I had something. So today, I finally had a blogging idea that seemed worthy of sharing, and now it’s gone. Let’s see if sitting here typing as I watch my beautiful daughter doze off in her high chair will jog loose those rusty creative gears long enough to come up with something inviting, inspiring, and indeed a break in the long fog of my absence as a blogger.

This business of being a witch, it has a few quirks for me at times. Introducing my children to paganism outside of the things that come most naturally such as spending time in the woods, has been a question to me. At what age will they sit long enough to really process the concepts and teachings enough to make them their own?

I know there are many folks within the pagan community who believe that spirituality should be something that a person explores as an adult rather than have been raised within a certain tradition. I had once felt that I was open to the children being given the ideologies of nearly any faith. While I would like them to know about all faiths on an academic level, I intend to raise them within the spirals of my own spiritual path. My sons are now at an age where they are fairly well ready to begin learning about paganism with some degree of understanding as opposed to following along because, “This is what we do.”

A couple of weeks ago, my oldest son shared with me that he had watched something that really frightened him, and it struck up a conversation between us about what I believed in. I speak fairly candidly with my sons about anything they have questions about, especially if it has something to do with a pagan concept, or a misconception that they’ve been exposed to. Teaching moments are a commodity that I’d not trade for the world with my kids. It feels as though the time in which they are receptive to what I have to share with them is limited. Soon enough they will be eager to venture out on their own to find out what’s there and what I have to offer will hold less if any value to them.

This teaching moment with my bright eyed almost 8 year old opened my eyes to a need that wasn’t being met; an understanding that while I have tried to infuse it into his brilliant little inquisitive mind, he needed something more. He and his brother really needed something tangible to help them understand that Goddess is within us all and we are all a part of her. I found that tangible lesson within Oberon Zell’s Millennium Gaia.

She’s sat upon my altar for 14 years, a gift from my first mentor, an amazing representation of the living Goddess and her interconnectedness to all life. I gently pulled her down from the altar in my kitchen, and fussed briefly over a couple of spots in which many trips moving and being jostled around has caused her damage that I’d not noticed until that moment. I called my sons into the kitchen to sit at the table with me and really took some time to look her over.

I asked the boys to look at her legs and tell me what they saw. At first the clever little monkeys both said, “Wow, she has a lot of tattoos.” I laughed and the asked them to look harder. Pointing out the images of marine life both prehistoric and contemporary that adorns the length and girth of each leg. I turned her so that they could look at what made up Her glorius mane, leaves, vines, DNA strands, and asked them what they saw. Entangled in her hair are animals, insects and on the very top, where her crown chakra could be found a tiny human child with the world in its hands. We talked about each of these things. They gently traced their fingers around sharks, lions, dinosaurs and dragonflies as we discussed that She was a part of all life, and that we are all a part of her. Mind you, I am not Dianic by any means, this was however a lesson that I’ve been working toward instilling into my children since they were old enough to go traipsing off into the woods with me. I don’t think they really grasped it, until they were able to see exactly what I was trying to say. It was too big, and this symbol of Goddess so beautifully created finally offered an imagery that they could wrap their heads around and think about.

This opportunity hasn’t slipped by without further contemplation. We’ve done a few small things, that really aren’t so small. A dream catcher hung above their bed to capture the bad dreams and let in the good ones was in order, and a tiny statue of Bast now sits in their room as a protector from all things scary, and introductions to the Gods and Goddesses are being made to the oldest boy with books from the library that give him a taste for some of the pantheons of ancient times. Currently, he’s learning about Egytian pantheons, which is fitting given the introduction of Bast to their bed room and the close affinity my husband has for all things Egyptian.

This Winter Solstice will find their stockings hung and stuffed with goodies, toys will be tucked under the tree as you might find under any other tree at this time of year, but along with the toys and games my guys will find their first books introducing them to pagan concepts and ideologies. I am incredibly excited to watch them explore earth centered spirituality with tools that are geared specifically to engage their minds and imaginations. I am excited to hear their thoughts and ideas about what they read and explore. I am excited to see these beautiful souls become empowered with their own sense of connection and magick.

Writer’s Block broken, Blessed be to you all, and have a beautiful Solstice.

The Measure of Success – The Questions that Lead to Self Discovery

One of my soul sisters and I are making building on a habit that we once had of getting together once a week for magickal purposes. It’s not always formal, and sometimes it’s just a time of discussion, venting, or just general fellowship amongst ourselves within the energy. It so happens that at this time that on our more casual nights we have been working through, T. Thorn Coyle’s latest book, Make Magic of Your Life. So far we’ve been working through the introduction, which is unusual in that most introductions in that book introductions tend to be fairly short and they don’t usually jump right into the working portion of the book. I’m not complaining, in fact I am enjoying the process. One of the questions asked for the purposes of further contemplation, meditation, and perhaps even journal work that was posed in the book is something to the effect of, “What does success mean to you?” or “How do you define success?”

It’s a very interesting question, the answer will vary depending on who you ask. Does being successful mean that you’ve reached a certain financial or social status? To a certain degree it will for many people. I think that to many people achieving a certain level of financial independence is a necessity. We all need things like food, a place to call home, and to be able to at least maintain the basics. For some folks, that may be all that it takes for them to be successful. For others, perhaps being successful means making an impact on the world in some way through social activism, environmental activism or through some other means. Depending upon the person, maybe their success is reached by touch the lives of individual people, or through larger scale actions that impact their community as a whole. Perhaps success is found through the pursuit of music, or art, or both. Perhaps it’s to be found in the pursuit of spirituality. Maybe it’s really just about finding harmony in the life you already have. There are a lot of great stay at home parents out there who are doing an amazing job of juggling the daily tasks of maintaining a household and raising the children. I can tell you, it’s no small task. It takes a lot of juggling, love, patience and resourcefulness. Perhaps it’s in learning to balance all of these things in our lives in such a way that we can pursue all of our interests, while meeting our needs in a way that nurtures our souls.

This question has brought to me a few questions that I must ask of myself. Oddly enough, I popped over to Twitter to do my daily twitting, (yeah I know, it’s tweeting, but I like my terminology better) to find that the lady herself has posed the question to her followers. What kind of person do you want to be when you grow up? Are you speaking to me, T. Thorn Coyle? Have we somehow connected in a way most unexpected and to me quite awesome? It is the question of the hour to me. This is the question that will begin my journey of introspection, and self discovery. Who am I really? Who do I want to be? How do I evolve into the kind of person I’d like to be?

For me this will take discipline, which I’m not terribly good at. This new twist in my path will be challenging, but in the end, as I discover more of myself and become more the person that I would like to be. I think that I will not only be happier, and more successful in my life but will also be able to be a better role model for my children. That would be very fulfilling for me, as a mother, and as a witch.

Thank you to Kirsta Skaff and T. Thorn Coyle for the needed inspiration this week. Blessings to you both and so much love.

Twenty Years Later

1000998_501144386626011_1293502586_nTwenty years seems to have gone by so very fast, and yet the memories of this day still bite with a freshness that moves me to a place of despair and deep, deep sorrow. July 3rd 1993 was a day that forever changed my life and the lives of all whom I called and in some cases still call family. The events of this day stole away my innocence, and youthful sense of invulnerability. I think this day stole those things from a lot of people.

I remember it was late. I was talking to someone, though who it was escapes me at this point. Their importance seems to have fallen away. Somewhere during the conversation someone runs up and breathlessly spits out that they needed to talk to “Pa” (this man is the person I most frequently refer to as Dad, though biologically we are unrelated). I remember this person saying “Rick Millard’s been killed. Rico is dead.”

Ricky was 20 years old when he was murdered. He was the person that everyone expected to sort of live forever. His life was hard. His mother wasn’t kind to him, in fact she was pretty awful to him while he was alive, and paid him no real honors after he’d passed. He had earlier that year suffered severe third degree burns attempting to save a baby from a fire. From what I had understood, he was blown out the window as he reached for her. She, unfortunately didn’t make it. She was a beautiful and sweet little one from what I remember.

Ricky had every reason to be angry, and broken. He had a pension for scrapping, and no one could beat him. On July 3rd, someone chose to bring a knife to a fist fight and in the hands of an enemy, that knife took the life of someone who was at times my champion, on occasion my love, but always the brother of my soul.

Losing him devastated an entire community of people. The people who he was close to for a time lost their minds, we also in many cases set aside their differences. Our grief rocked the small town of Carthage, Missouri in a way that kept the cops and sheriffs department on edge, and acquiring new gray hair nightly. We went primal. We came together to grieve, to comfort each other, and to love him. Over 300 people attended his funeral.

I remember withdrawing into myself for a time. I remember sleeping in fear, an enormous kitchen knife resting in my hands folded across my chest. I remember that my foundation cracked, crumbled and fell away, leaving me raw, weak, and no longer the person everyone had known. Mind you, this is not my attempt to blame the loss of a friend for the crap that I allowed into my life. No, it is merely my admittance that in my grief and sorrow, I became weak. I allowed the shitty things that walked into my life to happen, to remain there as long as they did. I failed to be strong like Ricky had always been. I failed to walk that warriors’ path.

So why today? Why on this 20th year marking the murder of my friend should I take the time to really dive into that memory? Simple, it’s been put in my face for the first time in a long time. Not only has it been put in my face, but also very distinct reminders of how low I sunk afterward has been brought to my attention. Two abusers, who came into my life one after the other immediately after, Ricky’s death. Three big life lessons all right in a row. I was lucky, it could have been much worse.

Twenty years later, I’m no longer that broken young woman. I no longer think myself or anyone else invincible. I try to remember to let the people I love, know that I love them. I walk away from the people who hurt me, and remember that just because they are hurting too, didn’t make it acceptable for them to hurt me. My foundation is stronger, and more solid than it ever was. I have a sense of self that while it waivers, grounds and centers to find a point of healing as often as possible. I no longer accept a walk of faith that doesn’t resonate with my soul. Everything I do, is for my family.

Tonight, on this horrible anniversary, I remember this tragedy that brought us all together, even if just for a short time, love of our dear Ricky, conquered all and we stood as one. We stood as one.