windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Grow)
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This week, I'm reading Pagans & Christians: The Personal Spiritual Experience by pagan theologist Gus diZerega. It's the kind of book that I'm slowly reading with pencil in hand, circling passages and writing notes in the margins. I love the way that he insightfully and sensitively distills both religious traditions into some key essentials that explain the many barriers of understanding between us. There have been a lot of "a-ha!" moments where I realize that something he's saying makes so much sense but that I'd never thought of it in those terms. There's been something sweet and healing about those discoveries while I'm hosting so many Christian houseguests! :)

This passage, though, from a section on living within a pagan worldview, has been my favorite thus far:

Of all the world's peoples, we moderns have traveled farthest from the harmony of the world and spirit, and a daily perception that our world is sacred. We are almost completely surrounded by our own artifacts, and we see them through the lenses of our own preoccupations with power, profit, and pride. We also feel the emptiness that results.

Our situation is not really so bleak. While our society has obscured the sacred with everything it touches, we moderns can still reconnect with Spirit, with the sacred and divine, in honoring and pondering the lessons contained within what is most timeless in nature, and therefore least susceptible to our manipulation. It is here that Wiccans, and most other Pagans, find their scripture, a scripture that is renewed with every seed that sprouts, every droplet of rain that falls, and every day that dawns.

In seeking to experience genuine spiritual value we are increasingly drawn outside human society, into the timeless cycles of nature, and of life, in order to grasp that which is larger than us all. Doing so puts the frantic hustle and bustle of our lives into a different, and more fitting, context. So long as we are infatuated with the promise of technology and power, we remain largely deaf to the realm of Spirit. We are entranced, instead, by the narrow realm of ego, a fragment thinking it stands alone and seeking endlessly to be a whole while simultaneously turning its back on that from which it manifests and which sustains it.

Once we realize the ultimate emptiness of seeking power and possession, we are open once again to the more subtle but infinitely deeper truths graspable through nature and nature's cycles. We discover the true and sacred context which gives meaning to our lives. This context encompasses not only the cycles of nature where in many cases they are most apparent, but underlies all existence, even enobling and lifting up the secular world as well.

As a manifestation of Spirit, Nature becomes a source of wisdom. The cycles of the seasons are owned by neither corporation nor government. The phases of the moon are unrelated to either Madison Avenue or Washington, D.C. No human purpose mediates our encounter with them. They are available to all. They directly manifest value, and we need no access to copyright or cash in order to perceive it.

...

For us, it is in and through nature's processes that we most directly find our inspiration and our home. Those of us who have been blessed by the Goddess's presence know beyond doubt that this world is sacred, that it is permeated by Her love, and that this path can be one of shining beauty and profound wisdom.


Reading that is giving me a kick-in-the-butt. Like, "I should shut off Netflix and the Internet and de-activate my iPhone, avoid all non-essential shopping, and spend the entire summer outside somewhere!" The call of the Walden Ponds of the world is strong. <3

What's inspiring you lately? :)
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (bunny)
It has been a happy (and splurgey) mail week. Yesterday, my box from Amazon came with the three print books of [livejournal.com profile] mermaiden's that I didn't have. I'm especially excited as I hadn't read Cage the Darlings or One Solstice Night from her Elora Bishop pen name in e-reader format, either. I read the first couple paragraphs of One Solstice Night aloud to Daniel straight out of the box--it was so charming and entertaining. I'm really looking forward to catching up on them.

I also got my box from The Fable Tribe's latest update. I'd sorta gone with the 'one of everything' mentality since there were so many new product types being debuted. I bought one of their floral crowns, which is all ivory and coral and bronzey brown and ideal for my auburn hair. I got a set of gold glitter Pixie Stars, a mini shrine, and two of the Glamourkin'd Faerie Foundlings figures. I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the packages and saw how small and dainty everything was. Etsy descriptions with measurements don't mean much to me and from the pictures, I expected the Pixie Stars to be almost Glamourkin-sized and the Foundlings, I really had no idea. The little fawn I got is tiny. A-freakin-dorably so. He and the simplicity bunny fit so beautifully on my home and family themed window altar. I had no idea how many more I actually have room for! :D I knew the mini-shrine would be small, but I didn't appreciate how small it is. It makes the detailing that much more lovable. I'm thrilled.

It is kinda like an animal rescue story. I bought everything because of how great it looked in the photos online and because I believe in the cause but now I'm here to show you the photos of the happy rescues at home, adored and animated, magicked by their surroundings and the comfort of being wanted and loved and home safe and now mine. Everything is just *so* happy!

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More photos under the cut... )
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (peace goddess)
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This lunar month, I'm studying the essence of White as part of my year with [livejournal.com profile] sacred12novices. The work puts me into an interesting position because I know, before I've even gotten to the heart of the month's work, that White is one of those colors that calls me, that I serve already through Isis. I know that the balance between Black (and my work with Death) and with White (and my work with Isis) are central to my spiritual place. I know that so much of my Libran energy is about balancing those two essences, those two Truths, those two footholds in the world. I'm not sure where it will go but I've got the moon to discover that.

I don't know much about White as the author of Temple of the Twelve perceived/sculpted Her. I know within the story the main theme seemed to be innocence or purity reclaimed. In a WitchVox article she wrote about the Colors, [livejournal.com profile] elfinecstasy suggested those who serve White may "see grace, and angels, and...perhaps see [themselves] as crystalline at [their] center". The accompanying workbook to the first volume of the series suggests that those serving White might be judges, mediators, or philosophers. So I'd had a couple very logical, thought-filled days with White but none of it felt alive to me or flipped that insight switch of mine. How did this relate to me? What could I pull from the material that hadn't been said? That's the part of my spiritual process that just takes time and attention and a little bit of serendipity. Things have to percolate with me.

~*~

Three little snippets, parts of the stew... )

So that's where I've been. I was driving in the car and thinking about water and needing to Windex the inside of Graeme's window, smudged by little fingers, and Isis' voice clear as day said,

Do not close the Book of your Life. Only Death can do that.

Every day, a new white page. Every day, the chance to Create something. Every day, open to change everything about myself.

"I AM" is not static and yet, so often, I treat it as if it is. It's like I'm ready to write the back copy on my Life's Book. I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a witch and priestess. I am afraid of drowning. I am out of shape. I am unhappy with some things in my life. I am inspired to do more to connect in my community. I am the victim of x, y, and z. I am certain of these things: _____________________. I am lonely. I am tired. I am disorganized.

That only applies if I keel over and die right here. In ten minutes, ten days, ten years--all of those strong I AM statements could have changed. I do not get to close the Book of my Life. I do not get to title it, come up with chapter headings, or even choose the photo for the front. I certainly don't get the job of summarizing what it says on the back. It is a fluid process and everyday is a new day to Create. I could choose to reclaim my innocence, renounce my fears, restructure my lifestyle, rename my beliefs. I could do anything with this perfect, unblemished, White page of new day before me.

There's no obligation to drag my "I AM"s with me. I don't have to be pigeon-holed into a life because it is what I know best. I don't have to write on the old pages--I get a new one every day (every moment, if I wanted). Fresh chances and a wide-open horizon of White.

I can never close the book. I don't know how it will end. I might wish or expect certain outcomes but I could have everything turn upside down today. Tomorrow, I start writing again through my actions, my intentions, and my connections. I toss the thread or wield the scissors. I Create or I Destroy.

White asks me to create myself anew each day. I am never too far down the path or hopeless, stained, scarred, irredeemable. I just flip to a new page and begin, anew, unblemished.

I AM is sacred, yes, but it can change at any moment. What new I AMs will I create today?
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Grow)
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On my last day working with Yellow, I still don't have resolution to my housing limbo. I don't know if we'll have to move or not. I've realized that's part of the lesson--that inner sunshine, that safety net of daily practice, outreach, and gratitude must operate independently from my circumstances. I can't be grateful because things are going swimmingly or because hard times have passed--I have to continue to be grateful during those storms and trials. Yellow is about where I go when things turn hard and how my mind perceives the events in my life.

Everywhere I've looked this month, I've seen yellow flowers. I've bought them for myself at my local grocer and seen a variety of cheerfully bright wildflowers winking at me all over town. They're at the beach, where I've played with my son, and they're cultivated carefully in the bank parking lot, and they're tucked into the woodlands along our daily drives and walks. The blossoms in my own life, with Yellow, are blooming gently as well. We finally joined our local Unitarian Universalist church for services and found a community that welcomes my pagan beliefs and nurtures my drive for philanthropic work, belonging, and my need to be needed. It serves my husband and my son equally well. It's a strong thread in my safety net of sunshine. The homeschooling group I've joined is a great mom-resource for me and my new swap community here on LiveJournal is off to a warm and wonderful start. I'm a lifelong loner so this is fairly new territory for me to be so social and interconnected with others.

The final sermon of my U.U.-infused Yellow Month was about abundant thinking. Do we feel the warmth of our abundance every day or the chilling darkness of scarcity? Are we content and secure or do we feel that we've slipped behind in a race for resources? Do we cheer the successes and joys of those around us or do we harbor resentment and jealousy that they got something good and we did not? Are we trusting community to hold us or are we fighting an endless battle of survival alone? Do we live with hearts open or shielded and shelled? That frantic scarcity mindset, the basic belief that there is not enough to go around and so each individual (and maybe their loved ones) must compete against everyone and everything else to get theirs, to survive, has so damaged our communal and tribal lines. It divides people and divides groups. There are "us" and "them" divisions all over the place. With perceived lack, there isn't enough water, food, jobs, money, security, happiness, rights, attention, fame, beauty, talent, nor even salvation enough to go around. We think some will have it and others will not and we scramble, we scrabble, we compete--we ration, we hoard, we grasp. And it's killing us from spirit on out to physical reality.

There is enough to go around if we start to consider the difference between "enough for me" and "enough for we". There is enough abundance in the world if I can live without locking the bomb shelter doors behind me, if I can 'relax the reflex of grab', 'to love and not to hold'. The first step, beyond gratitude and the peaceful mindset of abundance and contentment, is to reconnect with community. What I've failed in is that I'm living as an island when I could be a strong and supportive, supported part of that vast tapestry of humanity. I can trust community to hold me when I need it and I can provide support when it is needed of me. When did the idea of becoming an individual become so central to the society I live in? When was it that neighbors could no longer pop next door for a borrowed cup of sugar, a shared treehouse, a communal lawn mower? When did it become so shameful to not be able to stand on your own two feet, alone, when all along what everyone has needed is the give and take, contributions and honest needs, of a community acting together? Together, if we expect abundance and trust there is enough and give and share and see what we have instead of what we lack, couldn't we thrive instead of just survive?

I came into the month feeling no bit of Yellow in my core. I couldn't relate to it. I've realized, though, that I couldn't relate because it is inherent to me. I haven't had to struggle and work with Yellow lessons. It is one of my super-powers and perhaps the one, more than anything, that has made me who I am.

The question is--what radical, life-changing things could I do with it?

Wendell Berry's poem, The Wisdom to Survive, was read during the service. I share it here. )
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Grow)
11. Earth-rise


Five weeks ago, we went as a family to visit the Unitarian Universalist church in our new neighborhood for the first time. We'd long hoped it would serve us as a center of social action, community spirit, and spiritual reflection but it has well surpassed my expectations. My purse is crammed with service bulletins, lettered over with hastily transcribed notes and quotes from the speakers, as I've been so driven to share my experiences there and, at the very least, to spend time better absorbing the wisdom I've found in such diverse and compassionate company.

My religious upbringing, what I'd heard about UU, and the seven principles of Unitarian Universalism below the cut... )
~*~

I go onto NBC's website and watch their Making a Difference videos because I am so drawn to witnessing and being inspired by the philanthropy and generosity of others and I cry at Hallmark ads and I'm just generally a mess when it comes to the topic of homelessness and hunger and food deserts and children without pajamas. You know me, so each week during the service I'm crying and sniffling and singing and writing notes at the speed of light to keep up with everything that can go into the soup to make me better, to encourage me to do more and be more and love more. Daniel is next to me, squeezing my hand at the parts that slay him and borrowing tissues from me. It has just been really, really an awesome resource to find. I never knew enough about the U.U.

The building is an organic, cave-like thing with small patterns of stained-glass petals sunk into the thick, earthy walls. The glass reflects the beauty of nature (bony fish, snowflakes, rainbows, trees, oceans, rock strata) as well as the concept of humanity's search for Truth. There is a rocket ship and planets, so many beautiful things and nothing of any recognizable religious symbolism or significance. It is all about nature, humanity, and the Universe. It's an amazing space conceived by members during their protests of the Vietnam War and the full-on rush of the 1960s Space Race.

Sculptured Wall

I'm just spiraling around and around and not getting where I wanted or intended to go with this post. :) I've spent too long not writing about this part of my life and now there feels like so much catching up to do! You may never read every word of this post--but I'll have at least put it to memory here for myself. :)

Here's some examples of the past few Sundays at the U.U. )

It has become a remarkable, significant part of my spiritual journey--of my paganism and my individual Path towards Truth. I'm glad I didn't let the word 'church' continue to color my impressions and taint the message of the place for me.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Grow)
It didn't take long after my first post on Yellow to start to get some traction with the concept of the color, to have an insight that got my feet firmly planted beneath me for the month. I went back to Temple of the Twelve and read the section where Caroline worked with Lady Yellow. She observed the embodied color for quite some time as she did rather cheerful, nurturing, outdoorsy sorts of things. She was active and involved in all sorts of things. Then, unexpectedly, Caroline was hurtled into the abyss of depression and helplessness and hopelessness. That's when I 'got it'.

I had this image of that abyss, that bottomless, lightless trap of despair that anyone could trip into in life and over mine, a safety net of woven, golden-yellow sunshine. I could hover over the pit, get a really good look of it, but the qualities of Yellow were protecting me from ever falling in. This protective net, I could see, was something I weave continuously as part of my daily practice. The strong threads of bright sunshine are spun from daily gratitude, taking care of my needs, making connections with positive people, doing work that feels important to me, finding humor in trying circumstances, choosing to Love instead of to Fear, getting outside into fresh breezes, soul-scouring sunshine, and renewing rainstorms. When I'm struggling emotionally or spiritually, I take time out to watch old movies, call my friends, write in my journal, eat natural/nutritious foods, exercise, get more sleep, take bubble baths. That helps tremendously but I know that the things I do on all the days when the abyss isn't threatening me are what really protect me from hurtling down into it on the days when it does. That safety net has to be there, in full repair, long before I ever need it.

I don't think much about Yellow, nor did I feel it was a color I resonated with, because I don't have a lack of it. It isn't something I have big swings with. It is always there to support me because of the small things I do each day. I was raised in a family where the net was important and everyone knew how to protect and produce their own through their efforts, their thoughts, and the company they kept.

The month, through seeming coincidence, has become wildly all about community for me and building new, supportive, positive community ties. I was accepted, after quite an application process, into a small group of homeschoolers in my area that have children my son's age. (Our first meeting was a tremendous success and I look forward to having all these new mom-friends in my life.) My husband and I finally attended local Unitarian Universalist church's service in our new hometown and found a sanctuary for our beliefs, our family, our desire to contribute and belong that supports my pagan faith. And finally, after years of being away from mail swaps, I created a new community [livejournal.com profile] starblessedswap that I'm filled with enthusiasm, hope, and plans for. It all feels wonderful, light and love, and connected and doubly so now that I'm visually, viscerally aware of what it is doing in my life, weaving tight that safety net of sunshine.

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Here I am, with my son, weaving part of that net by running through the sprinklers, shrieking, on a hot summer day. :)

I hope the rest of you are finding the month's lessons fulfilling. <3
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (silver cloak)
I first spent a month working with Silver in August/September of last year. Like this month, I wrote very little about my progress. It was a big shift then as astrology roared into my life and transformed from a long-held hobby into a portal to Everything. I found my niche, a spiritual place where my unique abilities, perceptions, and communicative abilities blazed into this light, this Sight, that changed me forever. I couldn't encapsulate that experience adequately on a journal. It was an initiation, a Mystery experience that felt impossible to explain or share. I came out the other side of that first Silver Moon with my whole brain rewired. I saw things differently. Something awoke with absolute purity and certainty and Light within me. My magick, as a witch, flared up and threaded into everything and I could see it. I found my way to the Divine, to plug in instead of just to visit.

This month, the lesson from Silver has been related to those first lessons about finding my personal magick, my own strengths, what I'm built to do well. Silver has pointed out the simplest, most powerful magick of all--the magick of perception. The silver token I started the month out with on my altar, the meditation focus, reads, "Problems are messages. I am listening." Problems are not sea walls to hurl myself and my magick against in order to fix or undo them. Problems are not inconveniences or detours on my mostly-serene spiritual path. Problems are messages. I remember when I first got that token, drawn to the serene image of a meditating figure under a field of stars but unsettled by the message on the back. Did I really want to invoke problems into my life? Do I really want to stand up and volunteer to be clotheslined by the Universe's oft-joked-of 'Clue By Four'? But I bought it then, despite my discomfort, and I included it as one of the central pieces of my Silver altar this month.

This month has had a lot of messages. It has been a month of painful misunderstandings, poor health, and many, many, many, many stressful minor emergencies. I started the month laughing and shaking my head and feeling like I was really in for it. (I was.) What I'm leaving the month with, though, is the unshakable certainty that problems aren't just messages--they are calls to greatness. They're opportunities to practice the magick of perception.

Through a month of repetitive mishap, I've come to appreciate what I have that much more. My sense of humor turns spectacular falls into pratfalls and the most terrifying moments of my day into entertaining stories to retell after the crisis is past. I'm scrambling to cope and adjust and do what needs doing, but I'm also aware at a calm inner level that these are minor life issues that do not touch the core of who I am or the heart of what's important.

I remember coming up with a personal motto awhile back. It was, In Gratitude--Peace and Plenty and this month has only engraved the message a little deeper into the soul of my spiritual and magickal practice.

An unbelievable amount of spellwork becomes unnecessary when I make a simple shift in perspective, in perception, from one of FEAR/scarcity/bitterness/regret/anger/impatience into one of LOVE/gratitude/joy/acceptance/compassion/patience. The need for action drops away and my life, my experience of it, becomes this tremendous self-restoring reservoir of peace, clarity, and magick.

I don't need to create magick. I am living a magickal life. I am made of magick. I need to work towards what I want, appreciate what I have, allow for things to change and surprise me, and remember to let go and breathe.

There is no more efficacious, instantaneous magick than stepping back and taking a second, more loving look at circumstances. Gratitude can transform anything. Problems are messages. I am listening. Problems are sometimes jokes, too. It's okay for me to laugh.


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~*~

As a side note from the month, my three year old son and I were playing a game where I'd name one thing and he'd name the opposite. High/Low. Bright/Dark. Near/Far. Happy/Sad. I asked him what the opposite of "Scared" was and he said, "Good".

I suggested some alternatives but he was adamant. The opposite of scared is good. I've heard people interviewed for acts of heroism and they always seem to say they were scared, of course, but they turned it off and did what they felt was Right. They did what they could, they did what they must, they just had to despite the fear. Maybe Graeme is right--maybe when we choose to act out of Good we vanquish Fear's hold over us.

What have I to fear in my life if I choose to do good? If I choose to be grateful? If I choose to believe I have what I need?

It's magick. Far more powerful, more long-lasting, and more life-changing than any spell I could cook up in more traditional ways.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (scarab)
I've just gotten back from South Florida, my subtropical heart home, where I spent a week reconnecting with my Mom. It was none of the things I thought it would be. Instead of me pulling her into my reality, she pulled me back into hers--evenings of junk foods and the never-ending, mind-numbing chatter of her television. I had a few successes--getting her to watch an episode of Whale Wars and spending a few hours unboxing and decluttering her dining room and then hauling a substantial donation to Goodwill on her behalf, but really it didn't feel like I made so much as a ripple in the sameness of her existence. I thought she'd play with Graeme but her idea of time spent together was to change the channel to a child-friendly show and to bring out foods for him to eat while he watched them. It was down-letting. I'd envisioned and even planned for an entirely different visit. I had hand-written notes about places to remember to go and opening hours and days and they went unvisited. But really, this isn't about my Mom, but about me within the context of my Black month with [livejournal.com profile] sacred12novices.

I'd planned to go to the beach for the full moon. That beach, with the dark shapes of great sea turtles pulling themselves out of the waves to nest, is my spiritual homeland. I became a witch on those beaches--over sixteen years ago. I pictured the moonrise out of the waters, the silvery road it would paint over the midnight waves, and the Black month ritual and experience that I could have there. That was my image of myself for this month. It didn't work that way, though. That night was the only night I had left free to see my oldest, best friend in the world. He took me out to dinner at a vegan restaurant I love and I ate too much food in the joy of the easy availability of it all. So stuffed and bloated we went back home and as the moon rose unseen in an overcast sky, we were sitting around the living room of my Mom's house playing with my toddler son. He was imagining that we were all in a rocket ship set for the moon. We had great adventures as he unspooled the story from some wacky part of his young brain. The moon was inhabited, it seems, and there was an underground cookie factory and rainbow striped kangaroos with pockets instead of a pouch and our rocket was commandeered by monkeys leaving us at the mercy of a rocket-ship salesman who wanted 10,000 cookies in exchange for one rather miniature rocket but was convinced to settle for 5. That's the reality of my night. It did not match up to how I'd envisioned it--not one bit--and yet the lesson from Black was there all the same. The lesson was more Truthfully there than would have been at my perfectly timed beach/moon/magick/meditation event.

Truth is what IS. It is peace and certainty and the mental stillness of mindfully being in the present. The rest, the scrambling to be and act and meet certain self-requirements, the mental voices that keep talking and talking and talking are all scripts.

I've been thinking a lot about mental scripts--the self-deceptions that rest within them--and how they keep me from living Black's Truth. I read a book this month about a wealthy family in Atlanta who sold their dream home and downsized. They used half the money they earned from the sale to buy a new, smaller home. The other half, they decided as a family to donate to the Hunger Project in Ghana to help villagers build schools and medical facilities within their communities. For me, The Power of Half's best gift to me was the wealth of quotes I found myself copying down from the pages as I read. There were inspiring words from Martin Luther King, Jr and Mother Teresa and dozens of others. But one comment, from the author himself, was exactly what I needed to hear during my black month. He says,

"It's a funny thing about collecting stuff that takes on its own inertia, a resistance to change. The need for bigger, nicer, more, becomes a force unto itself. Scientists define inertia as a force that keeps a body in motion moving in the same direction. Psychologists describe the situation as 'an unconsciously chosen life script that narrows your choices'--in other words, being stuck. Either way, inertia/momentum/autopilot--call it what you like--is an incredibly powerful force to reverse."


Those words screamed out at me. An unconsciously chosen life script that narrows your choices. Inertia. This is about more than the things I own. How often do I not act or not evolve or not bail myself out of less-than-ideal circumstances because my mental scripts tell me that I can't, I shouldn't, or some such other claptrap? Stuck in a rut of my OWN MIND'S MAKING. Not Truth. Not the Divine. But squirrely, deceptive mental scripts. Scripts that narrow my choices and diminish my power. Scripts that not only convince me that I need to buy mascara and nail polish and lose weight despite the junk food I'm simultaneously saying is my right but also scripts that convince me, in the most insidiously malevolent ways, to not fight at all. The voice of complacency and routine and hopelessness. The voice that tells me that I'm not who I should be and could use more work than I'm capable of to get there. The voice that says I should gloss over who I am, at least a little, to be more lovable...to be more okay. There is ME, unvarnished and Truthful, and then there is the Me That I Would Have Me Be.
~*~

I've long been a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books on her life growing up on the frontiers of America. They're magical and captivating. What's amazing to read, sometime, is a biography of the author. The facts of her life and the stories she chose to tell about it do not quite match up. There are places she's lived that she chose to forget. There are events, terrible events, in her family's life that were never mentioned. She tells stories of places she was too young living at to have memories of and introduces characters into her books that were not yet born. Reconciling the two, it is obvious that she took liberty in retelling her childhood. For reasons of her own, she chose to shape it into something a bit fictionalized. I can't know her reasoning. Maybe she polished it up and romanticized it a bit for her perceived audience. Maybe she removed some of the thorns that hurt her the worst. Maybe she chose to only tell what she thought people would want to hear and believe about her and her life. I can't know--but there is little Laura and there is the little Laura that Ms. Wilder recreated from the facts and scraps of her childhood and they are not exactly the same person. The Me and the Me That I Would Have Me Be.

~*~

In my history courses in college, we talked about the unreliability of diaries. The private journals of people used to be pretty useful as first-hand sources and truly, still are today. The huge grain of salt, though, was introduced when the first diary was published for broad public consumption. (And Gods, I wish I remember when it was...18th/19th century?). After that, there was a subtle shift in the writing behaviors of ordinary people. There became some small chance in their mind that someone may someday publish what they were confessing in private. Can you imagine? Going from the absolute assurance that only your chosen heir would have access to your personal papers after your death to the uncertainty that what you write could become something that every neighbor, acquaintance, and stranger could be reading in bound form in the future. It changed everything about the act of keeping a diary. I've only known this world of uncertainty. I write knowing that not only are a select few reading what I have to say here but that, in fact, they could easily broadcast it to the rest of the known world. That's our reality. There is Me and there is the Me That I Would Have Me Be. I, like Laura, sanitize my journal for the general public. What I say is as significant in my story as what I choose not to share. Everything is filtered through my scripts, my insecurities, my troubles and aspirations. There is Me and then the Me That I Would Have Me Be. They are so similar and yet, they are not the same. Only Lady Black can truly know me as I am. Only Truth knows my Truths. To be honest, there are times often enough when even *I* can't distinguish between the two.

~*~

With the Full Moon, and only two weeks to go in my Black Month's work, my challenge has expanded a bit. It started, at the New Moon, with the need for discernment in my life's choices. I needed to find a way out of my mental scripts so that I could see Truth. I needed to learn how to honestly value what was important in my life and what was only white noise. I needed to choose, consciously, to be mindful and awake. And now, I'm realizing, that the scripts are not only trying to shape my life into something materialistic and nonsensically unimportant but that they are also creating within me the stagnant rut of inertia. They are narrowing my life choices by making other avenues, other ways of living seem impossible. They have me spinning in a current that, if I choose not to swim for my life, will gently wile away the ever fleeting hours of my life. They are distorting the way I view myself and making Me, Truth Me, unacceptable to my own self-perceptions.

I will do another self-portrait in the last two weeks of the work here. It will be Me (not the Me That I Would Have Me Be). It will reflect not the flaws that I fear I have but the Truth of me. It will be raw, unedited, present, and unromanticized. I know that Laura's Truth would have been as beloved as Little House Laura and I know, intellectually, that the unvarnished Me is as relatable as the Rachel you've gotten to know through this journal. They are the Me and the Me That I Would Have Me Be.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (scarab)
For the next year, I'm working with The Temple of the Twelve as part of the initiatory group [livejournal.com profile] sacred12novices. This month, as the first month, is dedicated to exploring the color Black and the many Mysteries and Truths she keeps. About a year ago, I had my first Black month and it was empowering and transformative. I'd expected a harsh reality check from Lady Black and instead got an emotionally restorative affirmation of my own divine nature. This time, though, it has been more of a tough love session.

At the new moon this month, I was challenged to see more Truth in my life and to learn greater discernment in my judgments and choices. I've been fielding all sorts of lessons and musings on the topic ever since and in them, I've realized just how prevalent self-deception is in our society. I live shrouded in the darkness of my self-created worlds without ever waking up to the reality of my impact and decisions. Once in awhile I've woken up with a start, mentally, with a flash of insight about what exists beyond the box of modern consumerism. Once in a long while I realize just how programmed I am. The awareness surfaces for a moment and then is swept away under the weight of the not-Me voices to come. I don't think I'm alone in that.

There is the voice of Truth, of Black, and then there is the (constant, chattering) voice of scripts. The scripts have come from my experiences, from the society around me, from friends and family, from strangers and critics, from overheard conversations, advertisements and the plots of books and television shows. The Truth, when it comes, upsets the balance of my life and so is frequently overruled with more scripts. (No, scratch that, always overruled as I never stay in those awake moments very long.)

So here's a couple of examples I've been thinking a lot about this month.


The Disease of Consumerism
Truth tells me that the Earth is overburdened by consumerism. There is a finite number of resources and everything on this earth that is created or manufactured or dreamed up in material form consumes some of those resources. For every one finished product, say a wooden chair or a marble chess set or a plastic ring of measuring spoons, ten times more resources are consumed then ever end up evident in the end product. I, as an American, am part of a society with no limits. I use too much water. I use too much electricity. I own too many things, made with too many precious pieces of the Earth's living body. I am personally responsible for too much pollution. If every human inhabitant on this planet aspired to the lifestyle that I feel is my right, our planet would die and everything upon it with Her. I am living an unsustainably indulgent lifestyle while others are dying, daily, from simple deprivation of food, water, warmth, and medical attention. That is Truth and it is ugly and shocking and upsetting. I know it. And yet, I cannot tell you how strong and frenzied and persistent the scripts are in my head that say, "I deserve to be happy. I deserve to treat myself. I deserve to have nice things. In fact, I *need* them." If I'm being honest, unflinchingly standing with Black, I don't. I am fortunate, blessed beyond measure, that I have all of my basic needs met. I am awash in abundance, not only within the world, but even within the high-life of modern American life. Someone, in fact a lot of someones, somewhere is paying or will eventually pay for the extravagance of my own choices. The resources of our planet are finite and when I take more than my share, I am costing someone else. The responsibility upon me, as one of the fortunate, is to share my abundances and to limit my consumption. The trouble is, with the scripts running, I forget these basic Black truths in favor of the advertisements for the latest sparkly eye shadow, another pair of shoes I don't need, or a crystal mined from god-knows-where with god-knows-what-destruction for my Earth-centered spiritual (material) lifestyle. I forget because it is radically inconvenient and makes me feel guilty and horrid to remember. That is my own self-deception...that this is okay.

The Monster of Overeating
I think the monster of overeating is really just a symptom of my own disease of consumerism--my 'affluenza'. I have access to every kind of high-fat, high-sugar, highly-processed food that trips all sorts of internal human body sensors that say, "Ahhh. That feels great. That kinda caloric boom will keep us alive for some time. Great job, provider!" Things that didn't even exist 50 years ago and the sort of food-high that humans encountered rarely, if ever, in their history are now so common-place that they've become a disaster for health and wellness. The statistics here in the United States are appalling and though I don't register officially as obese, I'm affected by the monster, too.

Truth: I eat too much and move too little. I am sabotaging my body, the quality and length of my life every single day. I'm throwing away the best and only gift the Universe has ever intended for me alone. My lifespan. My body to live it out in. I know it, it is plain fact, and yet I bury that inconvenient knowledge under insulating scripts.

The scripts say, "I'm hungry. I want it. I deserve it. It'll make me feel better. I need it to cope."

And the worst of it, for me, is knowing that my actions are not only affecting me and my family but also are rippling out with all sorts of (on my part) unintended consequences through the world. I went vegan for a reason, a whole host of reasons, but as a natural end-point of my spiritual belief system. It is a way for me to lessen, directly, the suffering that my consuming unleashes on the world. One way in hundreds, perhaps, but a very concrete way for me to live mindfully. I made that decision almost seven years ago and in that time I've fallen off the wagon, more than once, and started consuming dairy and egg products. I cannot envision a day that I'd ever eat animal flesh again but it is easy for my scripts to overwhelm the opposition and encourage me to forget all the reasons I steered away from cheese pizzas and ice cream and traditional dessert products to begin with. I've driven by veal calves chained in their little plastic doghouses and could almost hear the fever-pitched LA LA LA LA LA! I'm NOT LISTENING!! LA LA LA LA! ear in finger tactics that the scripts combated the sight with.

It is pretty horrifying to me to realize that I'm compromising what I believe to be morally right because the monster, that overconsuming monster, wants the fat and grease and calories and fullness and convenience and NOW!ness of non-vegan foods. I'm tempted and then the voices weigh in with all the reasons it is not only a good idea but a downright necessary indulgence. The voice of Truth gets buried in the chatter of the scripts.

~*~
So Instead of Giving Up, I Can....
Lady Black sees right through me, my self-deceptions, and shakes her head. I have justifications, I have excuses, I have many forms of defense but really--I'm sleepwalking through most of my life. I do things for reasons that aren't Truthful or mindful and then come up with scripts that support an image of me where that's okay. And this month, more than any, I've had the sobering and painful and embarrassing experience of being more keenly aware of these personal self-deceptions. It is enough to make me want to give up, go back to my self-made fantasy life, and find new ways to tune out the voice of Truth. But, this time, I'm trying not to. I'm trying to sit with the perfect Truth that I'm a divine light and precious beyond measure, yes, but that so is everyone and everything around me. I'm so big and I'm so small--a human body standing under the canopy of the night sky. I am nothing but I am part of everything and I have choices every day that I make that effect the world around me. I am flawed, yes, of course, but that means I can always do better.

1) I've been inspired to check out and read a few books (from my local library, though my knee-jerk reaction is *always* to buy things). Anyways, they've all crossed my path this month and tied into my thoughts on Black. They are:

The Power of Half: One Family's Decision to Stop Taking and Start Giving Back by Hannah and Kevin Salwen

Lost and Found: Unexpected Revelations about Food and Money by Geneen Roth

2) I've also been working on making small, mindful steps each day. We came home to a near-empty kitchen and will leave for Florida in only two days. Normally, I would have gone to the grocery store and stocked up. I'm suspicious of food that's sat in our fridge over the completely-arbitrary-time-frames I make up. I tend to toss leftovers and produce that looks even a tad bit imperfect. It is wasteful and silly. Also, I will let perfectly wonderful food rot in my fridge because I choose, instead of making it a priority to eat it, to buy more food that I like better or to go out to dinner or to just forget about it until it reaches that state of not-brand-new that triggers my urge to throw away.

Today, I pulled my crockpot out for the first time in six years in order to make something out of the bits and pieces we had laying around. I'm not sure what sort of soup we're in for tonight but it includes the half-a-jar of tomato sauce I'd left behind last week and would have ordinarily thrown away, half an onion, chickpeas, celery (which I'm no fan of), a handful of wrinkly grape tomatoes, two cloves of sprouting garlic, leftover steamed broccoli, veggie stock and some pasta odds and ends. It smells delightful and was surprisingly fun to scavenge together. It feels productive and ingenious and most importantly, mindful. A small victory but one in which I stayed AWAKE--not zooming along on my comfy scripted autopilot mode.

3) I came across a quote this month that has been fueling me and led to quite ambitious goals to declutter, thin out, and donate vast amounts of our clothes, toys, books, and other extraneous household items. It has been the voice of Black this month--compassionate, honest, and challenging.

"The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry;
the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked;
the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot;
the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor;
the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit.”
~St. Basil the Great
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (nightwalk)
The familiar track winds down, through the roots of the World Tree and deep into the earth's silent shadows. I cross a forest of gray-tones, following an ashy path towards a flickering silver-blue fire. It is heatless, an otherworldly feature of the Underworld and the frequent meeting place, in meditation, of Death and I.

No matter when I visit, the god is waiting for me. He always has time for visitors.

New Moon Meditation under the cut... )
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (book magick)
I owe Daniel $825. Repaying that without a job takes some creativity. I should be repaying it by turning a profit on the My Little Ponies I've bought this month. I'd like to try and keep some of them, though, which means earning money through other outlets. I thought it might help me get started to sell off some of my vegan/vegetarian cookbooks and pagan/magick themed books that I don't do much referencing of these days. I'm posting them here first before I tried to sell the leftovers elsewhere. :) Maybe one of my veg or pagan friends will find what they have been looking for! :)

Prices do not include shipping. I will use Media Mail for U.S. addresses to keep the costs as low as possible. If you'd like a shipping estimate before you commit to buy, let me know and I'll package and weigh the books you're interested in for an exact shipping amount. I'm going the quick route here in listing them because I imagine the people most interested in these types of books will know what they are. If you're not sure which one it is, let me know and I'll get you more information, an Amazon link, etc. All of the books are in excellent condition unless noted.

Vegan/Vegatarian Cookbooks
$8 Vegan with a Vengeance
$8 The Garden of Vegan
$5 Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook
$5 The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook
$5 The Vegetarian Cookbook
$5 Sinfully Vegan
$5 Vegan Planet (on hold for [livejournal.com profile] mermaiden)
$5 The Vegan Gourmet
$5 The Voluptuous Vegan
$3 Skinny Bitch in the Kitch
$3 Easy Vegetarian Dinners (sold to [livejournal.com profile] mermaiden)
$3 The New Vegetarian Cookbook
$3 The Accidental Vegan (beat up)
$3 Williams-Sonoma Vegetarian
$2 American Harvest: Regional Recipes for the Vegetarian Kitchen (a little musty but a very cool book) (sold to [livejournal.com profile] mermaiden)

Pagan/New Age/Magic Books
$25 Power of the Bear (Boulet artwork)
$10 Crystal Ally Set--Divination Cards, Booklet, and Box
$8 RitualCraft (on hold for [livejournal.com profile] morrigane)
$5 Wicca for Life (Buckland)
$3 Spell-a-Day: Lead A Charmed Life All Year Round (bought by [livejournal.com profile] kehleyr)
$3 Wicca for One (Buckland)
$3 Witchcraft from the Inside
$3 Future Lives (Chadwick)
$3 Candlelight Spells (Dunwich) (bought by [livejournal.com profile] kehleyr)
$3 Charms, Spells, & Formulas (Malbrough)
$3 Spellworking for Covens (McCoy)
$3 The Craft (Morrison) (bought by [livejournal.com profile] kehleyr)
$3 Transformation Soup (SARK)
$3 A Glimpse of Heaven (Brandon)


So, if you have an interest in any of the above, let me know your zip code and the book choices and I'll figure out what the actual shipping cost would be. :)

Thanks!

Rachel
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (everything changes stars)
On Sunday morning, there was no mistaking the fact that it had shifted into autumn. I'd arrived, Friday afternoon, wishing I'd packed bug spray and shorts and now it was misty and cold and everywhere I was seeing the first glow of color on the changing leaves. The night before, walking to ritual, there had been something like diamonds winking from the dark grasses beside the path, little landbound fireflies sending a few more messages out into the night before the seasons turned. I had never seen anything so amazing in the natural world as those motionless, pulsing stars at my feet.

Others were awake before me, and everytime the cabin door by my headboard opened and hissed closed, a draft of damp, chilly air wafted over me and tempted me to abandon my warm bed. It finally succeeded. I got dressed, packed my things into my carry-on bags, and then took my camera out into the land one more time. Everything was cloaked in mist, still and quiet, restful and contemplative. All was well with me, truly well.

IMG_2271

I walked the path up to the main house for breakfast. Someone had a deck of tarot cards out for a morning card draw with the question of, "What are you bringing home from Diana's Grove this weekend?". I drew the Five of Swords, or in this Celestial Tarot deck I was pulling from, the constellation Pegasus. Not sure what to make out of it, as it certainly didn't feel very comforting or welcome a gift to bring back from the Grove with me. :)

After a final session with my Circle of Support, the whole group got together for a fare-thee-well check-out. Everyone got a few minutes to share a memory from some time at the Grove in the past and a memory from this weekend in particular. I felt just overwhelming gratitude. The community there is extraordinary, the women who founded it inspirational, the commitments that people have made to keep it growing and vibrant remarkable. I am lucky to have found Diana's Grove while it existed in this incarnation, on this land. I can't help but wish I'd arrived sooner, somehow, that I'd been able to go through the leadership training programs, but that is small potatoes compared to the blessed sense of gratitude I was feeling. I loved every person in that room. My soul was perfectly content--at peace, at home.

After hugs and goodbyes and another delicious lunch, I had a few hours to myself before it was time for me to leave for the airport. The Grove got quieter as cars rumbled down the gravel roads and away. The bunks in our cabin were stripped, one by one. I decided to go and walk, by myself, the big labyrinth mown into the meadow. I have walked by that labyrinth so many times and never stepped in. I never really understood what, beyond a meditative aid, a labyrinth was meant to deliver. I overheard someone say that you must consider what you're looking for in the middle before you begin the walk, so I stopped on the threshold and considered what it was that I needed to find in the center of that winding coil. There was only one thing, and I didn't consider it to be related, at all, to my letter to Persephone. (Though I realize now, they very much were.)

In the center of the Labyrinth, I hoped to find self-esteem... )
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (everything changes stars)
I was anxious on the walk to ritual that night. I should have gone ahead without my cabinmates, but they had the flashlights and parts of the road were muddy, so I waited as they layered and relayered their ritual wear for warmth and made last minute stops at the outhouses on the way. The road was empty, we were the last to make the walk and I was pretty sure at the pace we were making, we'd be not only the last to arrive but also, quite unmistakably, late. All of my anxiety, my hurry, my worry about being rude jarred me out of what is usually for me a very solemn walk. I was pretty miserable.

I arrived, at a speedwalk, to Carter Shay where a double ring of chairs was arranged around a small fire that was burning blue and green and sunset colors, popping sparks up into the circle of sky among the towering trees of the grove. I found, and took, one of the few remaining chairs in the back row and watched the fire for a few moments before we began. It was cold out and I was wearing, pretty much, everything I'd brought with me. Jeans and a long-sleeved t-shirt, fleece zip-up jacket, hooded ritual cape, and butterfly shawl. I was so bulky, I felt like a linebacker and felt comfortable but disconnected from my surroundings. Sitting in the back row gave me a feeling that I was observing, more than participating, in the event as the ritual began. Watching the majority of the group leave their chairs to move closer to the fire, I wanted to cry. Really cry. I was feeling terrible about myself. I felt like, I have no business being within this community, and all sorts of other uncharacteristically unkind thoughts. It was tempting to stay in my second row chair, watch the backs of the participants, and cry. I felt like the perpetual outsider. I felt profoundly alone.

In my pocket, folded up, was the letter I'd written to Persephone. My plea. That part of myself I wanted her to walk into the Underworld with. The seed that needed to be buried, out of my hands, so that the transformative powers of the earth could allow it to sprout. The part of me I wanted her to embrace and heal. It wasn't worded this way, but in the days following, I can tell you what my letter was all about. I feel worthless. Ineffective, unimportant, small. I don't see the positive impact of my actions. I think that if only I had a clear vision, a detailed Calling, of where I should go in life that I could then work towards becoming that worthwhile person. I could feel good about myself if I was utilizing my skills in making the world the proverbial 'better place'. But I don't know where to go and I don't see a clear vision of my own best self and so I circle around, uncertain, in this whirlpool current of low self-esteem. So I'm sitting in the back row of ritual with that letter in my fist, watching the fire, watching everyone moving in the firelight, and thinking to myself with hot tears in my eyes, I don't have anything worth contributing here.

It was awful. Low self-esteem isn't new to me, but it hasn't ever intruded before into my ritual life. In ritual, I feel I have something to give. In ritual, I am comfortable in my skin. In ritual, my voice has value. So it was taking this one realm of power and opening the door between it and my self-doubt. (Misery!)

At some point, I forced myself out of the chair and forward into the group by the fire. The fire was really a marvel of fire-building. There was a central fire, small and dynamic, and it was contained within a circular low-wall of heavy logs, stacked like bricks in a wishing well. At some point, that fire was triggered into the outer wall and slowly, the flames extended around the entire circle, creating this incredible cauldron of fire, a portal or empty space just past the walls of flame. We were each given the chance to drop in our letters. I went early and dropped my letter into the center. It disappeared, immediately, out of my sight.

I had time to watch the fire and feel gratitude for its architect, the Grove's resident cook and man of many talents, as he stepped forward again and again, almost entirely unnoticed, to feed or adjust something. We were chanting, solemnly, and I felt this yearning for Persephone to hold me, to heal me, to take away the mental anguish I was feeling.

Deep Calls to Deep
and Deep Calls to Deep.


Again and again, we sang those lines. Dozens of letters were thrown into the fire. I remembered, as I sang, something that had been said during Ritual Conspiracy when the chant was introduced.

Deep Calls to Deep


The place where my deep passions meet the world's deep needs.

and Deep Calls to Deep


The World wants, needs, me to be me, to become me.

We go down as She goes down
We follow her under ground

Hail to Persephone!
Who heals the souls below.

Deep calls to deep
and deep calls to deep.


Persephone can heal anything but what I put into her hands, like burying a seed, I must let go of. I am the seed I must let go of. I cannot predict or control what I will grow into. I don't even have to know what sort of seed I am. I just have to trust the process, relax into the earth, and know that every day I am undergoing my own becoming. I am a work in progress.

Deep calls to deep
and deep calls to deep.


At the end of ritual, I stayed behind at the fire with many others for some additional singing and voice work. I sang my heart out and shifted my chair back, bit by bit, as the fire got hotter and hotter. I felt something cold strike my face and thought maybe I'd been burned by a spark from the fire. It happened again, though, and was distinctly cold. I looked up, into that circle of sky that the fire was sparking up into, the vault of stars and indigo sky and a wind picked up and in a spiraling cascade, the trees at my back released a sigh of leaves that surfed and settled into the fire, into Persephone's portal, across the ritual space and the participants still standing and seated within the circle. It was absolutely magickal. Fall, quite unmistakably, had arrived and it felt almost palpable that Persephone had descended with our letters into her kingdom under the earth. I felt a quietude, a sense of awe, an overwhelming sense of well-being as drops of water and whispers of leaves fell among me. It was time, for me at least, to make the walk back to the cabin.

Ahead of me, robed figures walked in the light of hand-held lanterns. Others, like me, made their way in darkness. I thought of how many people had made this walk at Diana's Grove and how many people felt transported into a timeless spirituality the way I did. I could be anyone, anywhere, anytime as I walked down the road of torches and starshine.

It was autumn, my own season of sovereignty, and I felt peaceful in my own skin. I skipped the dessert and companionship in the barn and chose, instead, to curl up in the warmth of my bunk and sleep a healing sleep.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (joy fae)
1) I believe that all creation is a reflection of the creator. Masculine and feminine, creative and destructive, ever-recycling forms of energy and embodiment. More than that, I believe that all creation is *part* of the creator. Every thing, every body is sacred and divine. I share the same essence of eternal connection and Love with every tree, every human, every fish, every breath of air, every sunrise, every animal, everything that has and is and will ever be and even that which is never expressed here and present, physically, upon the Earth.

2) I believe in the reincarnation of the Soul as a form of lifetimes long learning and spiritual evolution.

3) I believe that we are challenged, every day, to choose to act out of Love instead of acting, instinctually, out of Fear. I believe that pride, anger, guilt, impatience, rage, annoyance, brutality, envy, and other emotions that steal our sense of center and calm are manifestations of hidden Fear and disconnection from the whole.

4) I believe that religions are an arbitrary human construct, invented by humans as a form of social control, reassurance and "us/them" division, but that the philosophical spirituality behind them reveals many great Truths. I do not believe that any one religion, including mine, is right. I want everyone to have the chance to find the path that brings them to a place of Love and compassionate connection with those around them.

5) I believe that all that is, is divine. It follows, for me, that each person is capable of embodying the divine and gently reshaping the reality they live in. I believe that we have access to knowledge and extraordinary abilities from both past lives and between-life states of peace and review. I believe that our minds create our circumstances and that there is magick, yes, but no more powerful magick than gratitude, patience, and optimism. There are no limits, I believe, in the power of Love unleashed, fearlessly, in the world.

6) Likewise, Fear unleashed in the world by broken, lost, disconnected individuals is truly horrific to behold. I believe that war, crime and environmental destruction are symptoms of disconnection from our divine, immortal roots. I do not believe these are our natural states of being, but expressed moments of insane grief, hard-heartedness and wild, irrational fear.

7) I believe that parenting is a sacred duty, the honor of being entrusted to care for and protect another Soul in their most vulnerable state of embodiment.

8) I believe we choose the moment of our rebirths carefully, knowing ahead of time what challenges and burdens our lives will provide us to learn from. I know, though it can be hard to trust, that my Higher Self chose every hard circumstance and loss for me, trusting in our ability, together, to grow through those experiences. So in life, I try to trust, to adapt, and to cheerfully pilot the rough waters and appreciate the moments of sudden sunbeams and steadfast comradery. It all goes back to gratitude for me, which is an extraordinarily transformative off-shoot of Love.

Mine is a personal spirituality which can be best be defined by the motto, "In Gratitude--Peace and Plenty."
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (silver cloak)
My Silver Month with Temple of the Twelve has passed. Unlike Black and Pink, I don't want to share my processes. My magick is the magick of Scorpio--private, dark, transformational. It rises out of the Underworld and fills me up with cool, still waters.

Something dormant within me came alive through working with astrology. What was one hobby among many has become a passionate outlet for my unique abilities and intuitive insights. I am very good at what I do and it is a sacred form of service. It battles my sense of insignificance, the knowing that I do have a strong talent here, awakened. I have class and book ideas that I'm going to develop and I will be working with astrology the rest of my life. That is the fruit of my Silver Moon work. What I hope, more than anything, is that it will open a portal for others to step through to discover and reclaim their own brand of magick.

What sort of excellence and power lies dormant within your own skin?
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (everything changes stars)
To those of you who bravely stepped forward and withstood the scorching spotlight of a natal chart interpretation at my hands, you'll see that I value fairness above all. :) So below, under the cut, is a study of my own astrological essence, written as much as possible from the perspective of an outside observer relying solely on astrological evidence. It's me--warts and all.

For those of you who haven't had one done, here's a sample of just what I do with about twenty hours of blood, sweat, and tears. :) :D

witch's stars



A Witch's Stars: The Astrological Essence of Rachel Melcher


Dear Rachel,

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to study and comment upon your natal chart. It has been an honor. I came to astrology, reluctantly, through newspaper horoscopes. I hated the idea that there were only twelve kinds of people in the world and yet couldn't help but feel some sense of identifying with "my sign". True astrology, though, is so much more complex and interesting! So complex, in fact, that the geometry and details of someone's natal chart will not be duplicated for 25,000 years! You are essentially one-of-a-kind and the gifts from the Universe at your birth, your Witch's Stars, are not the same as anyone else's. You are uniquely suited to fill a need in the world, endowed with your own super-powers and set upon the path of your own spiritual evolution. Everything you started this life with is reflected in your natal chart and now the question is--what will you do with it? :)

My Astrological Report--Under the Cut )

natal_rachel
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (pink heart birds)
photo(40)

At the new moon, celebrating the end of my month with Pink, I went to take down my pink-themed altar and to clear the space for Silver's work. The area had gotten cluttered with found treasures and gifts that seemed to pour in to acknowledge my achievements and breakthroughs. From my mom, as a get-well gift, there was a pair of necklaces, one pink and one purple, from a charity in Africa that employs AIDS/HIV affected women in meticulously rolling beads from colorful magazine paper. The other, a small statue of a white-robed girl with her face buried in a bouquet of pink flowers. It is as if she knew, precisely, what I would need to affirm, the girl who bought herself flowers for the first time this month. In the mail yesterday, a card from a virtual stranger with an exquisite image of a pink lotus blossom. Chunks of pink stone, kicked underfoot in a Chicago alley, a multi-faceted bead found sparkling amongst the trash in a tree planter at the exact moment when I said to myself, mentally, "Wow, every breath is a moment to model love in the world, isn't it?" Winged seeds my son handed over, with great excitement, because they were faery wings and rosebuds dried from my bouquet, that enshrined a compassionate moment to myself.

Isis came to watch my progress, looking radiant and modern. Her hair, normally braided and weighted down with a crown, was flowing in waves of rainbow black over her shoulders. She'd traded her pleated linen for a gauzy, Grecian floating sleeveless pink gown, fixed with silver clips over her sun-brown shoulders. She's sitting, uncharacteristically domestic, with a large piece of fabric draped over her lap and a needle and embroidery thread in hand.

There's nothing to mourn, she said with a warm smile my way, you are leaving nothing behind. The thread she stitched with was silvery-pink and iridescent, making small bits of color in the fabric as she sat and sewed conversationally.

"Mama, are you Lady Pink?"

I can be.

"This has been such a hard month. I thought this would be one where I'd really shine and now with it ending, I feel like I've only started to get it, that I'm seeing Pink, really seeing those lessons, starting to transform about three weeks too late. It has been hard to decide whether I need to devote to another Pink Month. I could learn a lot more if I did."

Every month of your life has been a Pink Month. Why do you think that next month will suddenly be different just because you will be studying another color? The Silver will be Pink, the Blue will be Pink, every month you will grow more into yourself and you were always meant to be Pink. Your compassion, your desire to serve, your goodness and love will shine through everything you do and will color everything you learn. You lose nothing by growing in other areas. Each month, you will find the way to give it away, to make a gift of it for someone else. That is your Pink work.

I cried, unsure what to say to such kindness, such compliment, such reassuring guidance. She finished her stitching, knotting and snapping excess thread away.

"Thank you. I needed to hear that."

You are devoted to living your life as a Song to Isis, are you not? Have you never stopped to listen to yourself sing it to me? Can you be so deaf, Rachel, to the music you are making? Beloved girl. Sweet, beloved girl. Sing your heart out. Every day, you serve me well.

It was time for her to go. She stood up, arms laden with her sewing project.

"I didn't know you were a seamstress."

I am not. You are. All of you are.

The room tilted, she spun, the cloth that she was holding floated down and spread itself out against a wall where I could see it. It was a work-in-progress, no doubt, and bigger than I could even take in all at once. Close up, I could see it was made of stitched hearts, both miniscule and fairly large in a rainbow of colors and textures and heart-like shapes. And together, though not entirely filled in, I could see the suggestion of a gigantic heart made up of all those smaller, individual hearts taking form. There, in one space, was a small over-round heart in a silver-pink iridescent thread that I recognized--Isis' latest stitches.

This is the song of your life. Everyone has one, but few see it before they die. Sing the song that only you can sing. Love, for me. Believe, for me. Live, for me.

And she was gone and only a faint ghostly memory of that embroidered field was left. The brilliance, the light, the sparkle, the warmth that had poured out of it was dazzling even still. Had I stitched that miraculous, infinitely detailed image? Of course not, She said from some distant place behind my ear, you sew, always, for others.

And I saw it! I saw friends and family and loved ones and strangers and passers-by I smiled at taking their turn to sit at my Song, stitching hearts of gratitude, hearts of acknowledgment that said, "Thank you" and "You don't know how much what you did meant to me" and "You wished me a good day on the worst day" and "You made a difference in my life". I saw myself sitting to weave a few stitches of thread into others' Songs, marking the places where they treated me with kindness, gave me the advice I needed, bandaged a wound, cheered me with their presence, inspired me to believe in myself, met my eyes and encouraged me to keep going, held a door open for me when my arms were overloaded. My Song is recorded by others, added to with every kindness I do, every act of compassion, every word and action that positively impacts someone else's life here. It is the feedback, the acknowledgement, the record of my Life lived.

A Goddess sewed one of the hearts, a token of my work's loving impact on her immortal existence, and I begin to feel, again for the first time, that my case is not so hopeless after all.

I do the work of Pink in the world and it is beautiful.

photo(38)
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (underworld fae)
Saturday, at dusk, [livejournal.com profile] mermaiden and I dressed for the final ritual of the weekend at the Grove. Sarah looked like a dream twirling across the grass in the hand-dyed, hand-sewn ritual robe she'd bought from the Grove's ritual garb store. This ritual, unlike the others, we as participants had been invited in to co-create the elemental invocations. I'd been chosen by Center, and so while I helped set up some final candles at the Barn and took photos of Sarah's happy twirling, I was preoccupied with my obligations. What would I say?

IMG_0953

Just before ritual, I and the other three women who'd drawn Center as their element to call met for one last powwow. I'd had a strong vision of Center as the dark nothingness a breath before the cosmic Big Bang, that expectant moment of Pure Possibility. I was asked to speak for the group in the invocation, to stand in the Center and convey what I saw. We were invoking Center as that place, at the center of everything, at the center of ourselves that contains All That We Are, All That We Need, All That We Can Be. That core reserve of infinite potential, waiting power, and pure, divine essence. The others would orbit around me, whispering All That We Are, All That We Need, All That We Can Be as I stood in the center and twined it together. Marilyn Sue, our facilitator, asked if I wanted to do a dry run before ritual. I had to say no, frankly, because I had no idea what I was going to say. Not one clue, five minutes before. :D

Oh, ritual was beautiful, with each small group performing a different, empowering, inclusive invocation of their chosen element. When it was time for me to step into Center, the hairs on my arms stood at end and I knew what to say. It was that electrical-charged feeling of connection, that pure-fire flow of channeling. It worked and Center, as we'd conceived it, was there.

The beauty after that moment was that my working role was over and I was able to fall back into ritual, be surprised and embraced by the work of the other priests and priestesses, and have an emotionally rich experience within the genius ritual plan.

One by one, four priestesses stepped into the center of the circle. Each one held a bowl aloft and were there to carry the challenge of one of the four elements. Each stood in the center and gave their qualifications for being able to hold that element's challenge, sharing a story of one challenge of that type they had met in life. The sharing was extraordinarily brave and vulnerable and sobering. The heroics of those priestesses! I was openly crying. They were, indeed, capable of holding that challenge for us all.

We were each then called to take a rainbow ribbon, the string of our lives, and to visit the four priestesses, as we felt appropriate, to claim beads from their bowls representing the challenges of those four element types we'd met in our own lives. There was drumming and singing and candle light, slow movements and sacred exchanges between hero and priestess. Hands shaking, I reached into the bowls of colorful beads and strung them, one at a time, upon the string of my life. A challenge for fire, a challenge for water, a challenge for air, a challenge for earth. I whispered to each priestess and they met my eyes, unflinchingly. Some witnessed silently and others said, "Good Work, Hero" or something else to acknowledge my victories. I took one bead from each element, tied to a specific challenge I'd faced, but also representative of all the acts of heroism I'd undertaken in the same elemental way.

I sat and cried, running my fingers over the beads in the dark, drawing the ribbon through my hand and finally acknowledging not only the pain of those times, but my own role as the hero in getting past them. We were given time to meet with one other person, to share the stories of our beads one-on-one. A man I know, somewhat, crossed the circle to sit beside me. He held his string of beads out to me on two hands, a precious, precious object, the physical symbol of his entire life, and asked if I would hold it. I took it, reverently, and held his life as he leaned close in the darkness and whispered the secrets of those seven beads. I watched his eyes, transfixed by his story and the raw depth of sharing. I loved him. This was not a public face but the voice of his brave, struggling, beloved Soul. Who would not love this man? No face of the Divine wishes you harm. Every face of the Divine loves you. We are all so flawed, so beautiful, struggling to complete a set of impossible tasks in the pursuit of our true selves. It is all about Love. We are all heroes, all of us, but do we feel Loved? Do I believe that Venus is challenging me for my own best interests or do I believe that She is spitefully punishing me for my human beauty? Do I believe that I am a hero for simply surviving the tasks or do I never take a moment to breathe and acknowledge that what I am doing so magnificently is both impossible and hard? Will I love the hero that I am as well as I love the heroes that I see in this Circle around me?

That man cradled my life in his hands as if it was the most precious, dear, fragile thing in the world. He leaned close to hear as I told him the stories, crying, of my four representative challenges--instances I would have said before today were tales of failure and grief and loss. At the end, I could tell that he Loved me for them all. I felt it. I took back the string of my life, thanked him for holding it, and he slayed me by saying, "I would have held your beads twice."

We returned to the priestesses and added beads, unknown beads, for future challenges. They will eventually have their own stories to tell of my heroism, of my Life.

Regrouping, we began to sing the night's chant.

I Will Be
I Am Me
Pure Possibility

Here and Now
There and Then
I Can, I Have, I Will Again


Can you celebrate your life's story as a series of successes instead of a series of failures? Can you honor the self that has made wise choices, survived the unsurvivable, been transformed and stood their ground? Good work, hero. We are all heroes. We have all done impossible things throughout the challenges of our lives. What next impossible thing will you do?

I Will Be
I Am Me
Pure Possibility

Here and Now
There and Then
I Can, I Have, I Will Again


I stand in the Center, in the darkness before the beginning, in the moment that exists in every moment, of Pure Possibility.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (underworld fae)
IMG_0856

Saturday morning, with the sun lending me ample light for scanning my path and a company of Grove dogs surrounding me everywhere I went, I felt better about snakes. I am smart and capable and cautious--I wouldn't stumble upon one unannounced so long as there was light to discern my path. Still, I was feeling ripped out of the myth of the weekend and no longer connected to the work we were there to do. In the morning, my Circle of Support, that had been facilitated by the snakebite victim, was folded into another's group. We were able to talk about our experience of ritual the night before and in my case, about the snake's disturbing contributions to the ritual experience. I didn't come to any great conclusions about my unrest, but I was at least able to voice it completely and address the elephant in the room for me--that after the snakebite, my mind had gone from assisting the ritual's mood and message to full-time survival mode. I worried that I wouldn't be able to reengage with Psyche. My full and complete attention was on the level of physical reality. Good news was that the man bit by the snake had come back from the hospital in the pre-dawn hours with a lot of medications to combat the swelling and a pair of crutches, but otherwise with a good prognosis.

IMG_0948

At morning session, the heavy-lifting of the weekend, as I saw it, was unveiled. Pan and Psyche spoke, after Psyche made her fateful decision to accept the path of challenges in pursuit of Eros. In traditional tellings of the myth, Venus was motivated throughout with feelings of waspish, petty jealousy and revenge. At the Grove, though, Cynthea smiled knowingly at the thought that the Goddess of Love and Beauty would ever be jealous of "just a pretty girl". Instead, she told us, Psyche offered herself as a dedicant to Venus. No face of the Divine wishes you harm. Venus, tutoring and pushing, said, "To become a Goddess, you must become more than you think you are. You must do more than you think you are capable of. You must take on a series of challenges that seem almost impossible. At the completion of each challenge, each impossible task conquered, she turned to Psyche and said, "Thank you and now...." and the next impossible task was set before her. There was no time for rest or reflection or celebration, just a never-ending climb up a sheer rock face. Imagine that first task, when Psyche managed to sort the seeds of the granary. She'd achieved something that had seemed impossible! Yet, without acknowledging the weight of that triumph, 'impossible' had become the new minimum-standard, the new form of normal. Did she ever own her own heroism in meeting each successive challenge?

The path of challenges, the road to becoming our true selves, is not a glamorous one. There is no praise, no hero's welcome, no ticker-tape parade. You arrive back, scratched and dirty and breathless with the golden fleece and are swept directly, unceremoniously, into the next challenge. As Cynthea put it, "Following your bliss isn't blissful."

Our task for Saturday, the work of our final ritual of the weekend, was to take the time to breathe and honor our own heroic selves for all the impossible things we'd done, all the challenges we'd successfully passed in life unsung. We are all Psyche, all Breath and the Soul, all heroes already. Could I reframe my self-perception enough to see all the things in life that I could not have done and yet somehow did? Could I acknowledge that just because I had managed to get through something did not diminish how difficult it had been? Could I see myself as the hero in the story of my own life?

Based on the four elements, we were given four types of heroism to consider:
Challenges of Air- the heroism of speaking the Truth and intellectually, strategically solving the problems before me.

Challenges of Fire- the heroism of confrontations and transformations, the times when I throw myself into the fire.

Challenges of Water- the heroism of surviving the unsurvivable, of simply going on, of living another day.

Challenges of Earth- the heroism of taking a stand, standing for something, standing my ground

So the question isn't whether you are a hero or not (you are) but what sort of heroism you have used throughout your life when you met challenges. Oh, this work spoke to my greatest sense of wounded self. I know, intimately, every detail of every wrong decision, hurtful thing, and spectacular failure of my life. My victories, too soon, are forgotten and discounted and belittled. I don't count myself and I certainly don't count myself as a hero. The people around me, I see their glory and myself, I only know how uncertain and small and making-it-up-as-I-go I feel inside. That does not feel like the stuff of heroes! Throughout the session, I was writing madly and doodling stars in the corners of my notes. I was drinking it all in and yet, still, I wanted to go find a private place to curl up and have a cry. Was I an unsung hero? Had I never given myself credit for my accomplishments? Did I never breathe and reflect and honor myself as courageous and strong and capable of achieving impossible things, of surviving impossible pains? Oh, it hurt and it healed and mostly it stopped me dead in my tracks. I'd never considered such a thing.

There was incredible wisdom and strength and beauty among the heroes of that room. Some shared stories of their challenges. Others shared insights they'd had on the topic. I resonated most with a few snippets and so I'm just going to rescue them from my notes and leave them here, the wisdom of staff and participants alike. Maybe you'll resonate with these truths, too.

~Anything I know I must do but don't, I label 'impossible'. Anything I know I should do, but haven't yet done, I say is 'impossible'. (Of course, once I do this 'impossible' thing, I then bury its importance with a shrug. Afterall, if puny me managed to do it, it wasn't such an achievement after all.)

~No face of the Divine wishes you harm. Sometimes, though, catastrophe is the only way for the Gods to get us to move. How much worse do we want to make it for ourselves by choosing, stubbornly or out of fear, not to change, not to act when we know we must?

~We compare our insides with everyone else's outsides. They look so brave and accomplished and put together and we feel scared and inadequate and flawed. Everyone else looks like a hero to me, but inside, I don't feel like a hero myself.

~Virginia Satir was quoted, "I own me, therefore I can engineer me. I am me and I am okay."

~Everything you've done up until now has worked. Otherwise, you wouldn't be here. That's okay. Good work. Now the trick is, for the next challenge, to strategize to get to the other side without paying such a high price.

~What if, instead of seeing your life as a string of failures, you insisted on seeing it as a string of victories? Remember, one type of heroism, the challenge of water, is simply surviving another day. What does your life look like, that Path of Challenges, if it is retold from the knowledge that you are already a hero and that you've accomplished/survived/overcome one impossible thing after another? What does that change?

We had the afternoon to let these truths percolate, to sit in the cleansing flow of the stream and then to step into ritual one last time. A ritual gathering of heroes...
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (underwater mermaid)
IMG_0865

Friday, after our sessions and lunch, we had the afternoon to ourselves to explore the land and try to find respite from the summer heat. Sarah and I were of a mind, so we changed into lightweight clothes and headed to the creek. The water level varied from a few chilly inches to a couple feet, so we found a comfortable little dip mid-channel to plunk ourselves down in to cool off, chat, and let the currents sweep our troubles downstream. It was a decadent experience. Little fish started congregating around us, hiding out in the shade under our legs, darting impishly away from [livejournal.com profile] mermaiden's attempts to pet and hug them underwater.

IMG_0788
(This photo was taken the day before, but I don't care! :D It's [livejournal.com profile] mermaiden, working her Earth Goddess mojo. :D)
~*~

We showered and dressed and got all sparkled up and jewelry-laden for ritual. The ritual began in the barn, where we met in the moonlight clutching our love letters to Life. We were back into Psyche's story, her choice to follow the Song of Life and to exit the Underworld. At some point, most of the ritual staff disappeared from the barn and we were instructed, at long last, to begin our silent journey from this dark Underworld and back into the full riot and color and light of Life. We were told to go out into the world and to listen to the love songs, the songs of Life that were so audible in the night-dark woods and grasslands. Singly and in unintentional pairs and triplets and small groups, we left the drumming of the barn behind us for the dirt and gravel footpath outside, flanked with occasional tiki torches, as it wound through the bottom of the meadow for some long minutes to an area of the Grove that is called the Water Path, a clearing with a firepit near the creek bed. In the woods, here and there, there were snatches of an instrumental guitar and maybe the call of a pipe or flute. The ritual participants walked in silence, scattered along the path, the crunch of feet and the rustle of robes the only counterpoint to the roaring cry of the cicadas. At long last, I turned a corner in the darkness and the ritual site came into view--a vision of priestesses waiting to welcome us in white dresses and capes and an abundance of candlelight and tiki flame. A ring of chairs was open on one side and in the opening, priestesses there to give us cups of cool water and bid us relax and rest ourselves after our journey. I found a seat in the circle and was sipping my water as other journeyers arrived from the dark path. Whispers and clumped ritual staff members around the circle edged into my awareness. There was something strange in the chaos and I cast my eyes Sarah's way to see if she was catching on to the unsettled feeling in the circle. The hair on the back of my neck stood up and the welcome I'd felt at the lights of the clearing dissolved away into a sense of uneasy tension and squirminess. I didn't want my cup of water anymore. I didn't want to be sitting in that chair. At last, all the journeyers arrived and Patricia, one of Diana's Grove's founders stepped into the center of the circle and announced, with great calm, that one of the ritual staff members, intending to aspect Pan, had been bitten by a snake and was going to be carted off to the hospital. There he sat in the center of one of the whispering clumps, his instep in his hand and several staff members crouching by his legs. Patricia assured us that everything would be fine, that the snake had been asked to leave and had (without harm) complied and then River stepped into her priestessing role to resume the ritual.

The thread was snapped for me. Growing up in South Florida, snakes are serious business. There are coral snakes, rattlesnakes, and cottonmouths. We have six poisonous snakes and they are all pretty serious business. I wanted to know where the snake was when he was bitten, what kind of snake was involved, if it was poisonous, how long it would take them to get him to a hospital, how the snake had been asked to leave, how far away that snake had been compelled to leave, and what would keep him or her from returning. I'm an air sign, I wanted to intellectually exhaust the topic before moving on and instead, here was the ritual team getting us to start tonal singing work while the guy is actively being loaded into a hastily rounded up car directly behind my chair. I found it physically impossible to harmonize. Everything was coming out in minor, dirge-full moans.

The ritual text moved on to talking about the life around us, the songs of Life around us, and all I could do was creep and shiver and suppress nervous giggles about hearing the songs of snakes all around me, twining silently up my chair legs or sidling ever closer to my feet in their totally-impractical sandals. At one point, we were each invited to the fire pit which had been transformed into a candle-studded altar where we were each able to retrieve a lit votive by which to read our Love Letters to Life.

As we reread the words we'd written, in a fabulous twist, we were told to mentally replace each instance of the word "you" in the letter with "I". For, in truth, we'd not written love letters to Life as we'd thought--we'd written love letters to ourselves. My love letter had been in poem form, so the cool and fabulous twist didn't work nearly so well. And really, I was all out of joint and off-step and thinking of snakebites, so maybe nothing in ritual was destined to work well for me that night. Here I'd gone out of the safety and comfort of the Underworld into the challenge and sensation of Life and this snakebite had me feeling completely unsafe, exposed, imperiled. I thought to myself during the ritual, "Why do I need this message? Couldn't I have babystepped into a welcoming world? Instead I'm sitting in the dark and practically barefoot with snakes?! Who would be so cruel to me when I'm already feeling vulnerable just in rejoining life?"

At some point, we moved to our chant for the evening and clustered around the firepit-candle altar to sing it.

Let the beauty we love
be what we do.

There are hundreds of ways
to kneel and kiss the ground.


I was forcing it, unfortunately, while others genuinely seemed moved by the chant and the ritual and were even physically kneeling and kissing the stones and logs and earth circling the many-candled altar. Meanwhile, I'm safely perched up on my chair or standing back three feet and thinking to myself, somewhat obsessively, "Snakes live in woodpiles and they live in rock piles and what are these people doing on the ground? Holy crap they're crazy!!"

After ritual, we had a short little jam session, pulling chairs up or sitting on the ground directly around the altar area and having a little re-sing of the main (Rumi text) chant. Sarah was sitting on the ground, I think, sorta in front of my chair and she lifted one hand, mid-note, and pointed to a spot between candles. There, a couple feet away from a dozen singers and weaving swiftly between the votives and pillars and other candleholders, was a two foot patterned snake. Right under her silently pointing finger.

I, and my lawn chair, was ten feet back from the firepit within two seconds. The song halted and singers scattered back, particularly when the words "Copperhead" and "poisonous" were sounded by someone in-the-know. The snake moved quickly, unpredictably, and someone said we should clear a path out of our circle for its safe exit. Well, I didn't want to let that snake out of my sight, it was in the only area of light in a hundred acres of darkness, so I watched it like a hawk and jumped up onto my chair for good measure. I can't believe I was the only person who didn't want my bare feet so close to the ground but really, I think I was the only one up on a chair and I got some good-natured ribbing for it later.

Some people came up with the grand idea of making a break for the barn's safety and so whole groups of ritual-goers abandoned their chairs and headed for the gravel path. Never has a long, dark path seemed so sinister and dangerous to me. I was watching my feet in the feeble moonlight and praying, really, really praying, that I would not accidentally step onto a snake. It seemed like a real danger--two snakes in one ritual! Maybe the whole Grove was writhing with poisonous snakes and the small one we'd seen eating a fish on the banks of the creek that afternoon was, with some reflection, a third copperhead.

OMG. OMG. OMG. OMG. OMG. OMG. OMG.

Southern Copperhead, east Texas(illustrative photo by TomSpinker of Flickr)

I have no animosity towards snakes, you must understand, but I don't know them. Their habits, their moods, their signals are alien to me and so they seem unpredictable. I'm snake-dumb. I'd rather avoid a miscommunication entirely by not running into any and not, please Goddess help me, force one to bite me by stepping on them, unintentionally hurting them, or making them feel endangered by my presence. I've never been bit by a snake, never known anyone bit by a snake, so it all seemed pretty overwhelming and horrible. Walking back there was a lot of laughter and snakes-are-good conversation around me and I was wound tighter than a spring, praying to every Deity I have ever served to protect my naive, blundering self from crossing the path of all the snakes laying invisible on the path.

I didn't much feel like the after-ritual dessert party at the barn. I was feeling shocky and ungrounded and bizarre after the interrupted and reinterrupted ritual energy and wanted nothing more than to reset myself, and my outsized fears, with the remedy of a good night's sleep. (I'm a Libra--given time the scales always settle down into calm, even-keeled, rational thought and big-picture perspective.) The dark minute or two's walk into the woods to the outhouse at night felt like blindly praying my way through a minefield. The Grove felt dangerous for the first time ever and I felt stupid for not having respected those dangers in the past. Following the call into Life wasn't looking so attractive anymore!

(Don't worry...by the end of my next installment, I get a grip on myself but in the dark of night, with copperhead snakes afoot, I was a mess. An "I don't even know what to do with myself because there isn't even an emotional label to put on this" mess. :D)

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windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Default)
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