Vouchsafing

“Love all, trust a few …” (W.S. All’s Well that Ends Well. 1.1.61.)

Article Photo for SAFE

While I realize that most Pagans in America practice in solitary, there are still a good number of folks that practice in groups: covens, kindred, tribes, groves, councils, etc. When we do this, we make ourselves vulnerable in a lot of ways. For this reason, many groups employ a policy of “vouchsafing.” (I’ll likely address the etymology of it at The Big Bad Words Blog.) This means that someone within the group meets newcomers to assure everyone’s welfare.[1] It helps everyone within the group feel comfortable with the newcomer and it guarantees that the newcomer is familiar with at least one person at the gathering—likely an unfamiliar experience.

This is on my mind because the last few weeks have included several opportunities to vouchsafe new attendees, an energy-packed ritual and gathering—which is our primary motivation for vouchsafing, and a notable increase in “Catfishing”—that which we vouchsafe to prevent.[2]

Firstly, the “Catfishing.” It’s odd how, periodically, we get upsurges of requests from clearly fabricated Facebook profiles. They tend to be brand-spankin’-new profiles with an obviously fictitious name, a photo that reeks of being stolen from some teenager’s Instagram attention-mongering or deviantArt mythical creature over-identification, no friends, no photos, and no other activities. Given the history we’ve experienced with cyber-stalkers and harassment, we are guarded. I like to think that these are truly well-meaning folks who are trying to establish a Pagan profile for networking; but I realize that at least a fraction of these are just silliness. They arrive daily for about two weeks and then cease for a few months, rinse, repeat. No harm is done, I just find it curious how they come in waves.

It was during one of these waves that we received a request to join us physically for Imbolc. It was the next week before we could meet someone who turned out to be what seems to be an absolutely perfect match for our group: academic and looking for solidly founded theology and practice, compassionate, and properly nerdy. It was the best case scenario.

safeThere have been situations where we have met with people requesting invitations to our events and have had to decline. A few times we have invited people and had to discontinue future invitations based on their behavior. Some people are simply unthewful (unethical), frithless (unfriendly), or simply unwilling to contribute to the group welfare in a meaningful way. But mostly, it is those people who act in such a way that makes the existing membership “creeped-out” that causes us to cease invitations. When we gather for “family dinner,” we let our hair down, let our defenses down, and hold nothing back from each other. When we do ritual-work together, we get ourselves into a spiritually vulnerable state; there’s no room for “the willies.” Not to mention nosey-bodies and lookie-loos. That’s never good.

seidrFor example, let me tell you about Imbolc in very general terms (to protect anonymity and all). We had three new attendees, two “significant-other” guests, and a non-member-repeat-attendee (that is to say he’s not new but he’s not a formal member—we call these “Friends of The Tribe”), as well as most of our regular members. The three new attendees as well as the significant others were vouchsafed by existing members of the tribe. We took responsibility for their guidance through protocols and ritual. But, the night took several weird turns. Almost right at the onset, we were called upon to do an emergency protection rite for one of our members. Watching a horde of Heathens hammer and hallow away in unison can be skeery to an outsider under any circumstances—when you add the fact that we are a seið-working group? If we had not vouchsafed these individuals and prepared them for what was happening, we could have done some psycho-spiritual damage to them on accident.

Add to that, our resident oracle did her thing and—of course—focused in on a newcomer. (Who had just been completely “opened up” by one of our Reiki Masters—all things work together even if we don’t know we are doing them, no?) Not on purpose, of course—we don’t get to pick and choose what messages come through, right? It was intense, far more intense and specific than usual. A bit of an initiation, you might say. Two other newcomers, a couple, sat in on the drum circle and had the opportunity to feel the energy we raise. Had they not known what they were getting into, this could have been, um, awkward. And, there is, yet another reason to make sure there is a contained and secure environment—you never know when a novice is going to tap into the ambient energy and spontaneously exhibit latent witchy abilities. I won’t go into that part of the evening except to say, I’m still finding glass.

I often felt apprehensive that we might be encouraging insularity or exclusivity with our policy of vouchsafing. But this recent experience has proven to me that all of the reasons for which we put the policy in place are valid.

And I’ve learned a subsidiary lesson. There is a limit to unknown variables that can be prudently merged into an existing spiritual-ecosystem before it becomes destabilized.[3] So—that means that not being able to vouchsafe the “absolutely perfect match for our group” until after Imbolc turned out to be the best case scenario—again.

As ever, I’ll let you know how Ostara goes.spindle2

 

[1] In our kindred bylaws, we state that, “If a potential attendee has never celebrated with us before, we insist on meeting with him/her in person before including him/her in a ritual event. If that isn’t feasible he/she will need to be vouchsafed (referred by a third party, someone known by the Kindred) before we will extend an invitation to attend a ritual event…. However, once a guest is welcomed they should be offered food and drink as well as all the comforts typically afforded a visitor.”

[2] Our Facebook page even has an Anti-“Catfishing” policy—here are the basics:

“Given the number of fabricated profiles that appear on social media and given the vulnerability we face on Pagan-related Facebook groups …. in order to keep a peaceful and nurturing atmosphere, free of unnecessary spectacle, we must vouchsafe those who would like to be part of our Facebook presence…. Anyone asking to be added … on Facebook must be a ‘known-person.’ This is to say that we must verify that there is an actual person of good intent behind the profile with which they request membership. While everyone is welcome in our kindred group, anyone who has an unknown or anonymous profile will need to be vouchsafed (referred by a known third party).”

[3] My estimate is somewhere around 10% of the total attendance. No kidding.

February 9, 2015

It’s been a big week in The Deep South—and it’s only Wednesday.

Monday, Alabama became the 37th state in the U.S. to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. It hasn’t been without conundrum, as you might imagine. At the last minute, Chief Justice Roy Moore (infamous for his 2001 Ten Commandments controversy), who was removed from office in 2003 (for defying Federal mandate in said controversy) but reelected in 2012 (way to go, Alabamians), issued a memorandum to our 67 probate judges saying that they were not obliged to follow the Federal order. Most of them didn’t. Some of them did (about 25).

Roy Moore's "memo." Click to read the full article about Lee County.

Roy Moore’s “memo.” Click to read the full article about Lee County.

My county probate judge, Bill English of Lee County, was one of the majority who did not comply with the Federal order. On Sunday night he said that he’d observe “the law of the land” as he was sworn to do. Monday morning, he changed his tune. This left couples in my county empty-handed when they went to the courthouse for marriage licenses. All but one.

I showed up on the courthouse steps around 8:30 AM prepared to marry all applicants at no cost. I did this because I had read reports that there were many, many officiants refusing to officiate over same-sex weddings and that probate offices had suspended courthouse marriages for all couples. That made me ashamed for them. So, I pressed my clerical clothes (but I wore jeans and cowboy boots because I thought I’d need to be comfortable for a long haul on a cold and rainy day), printed off a simple secular ceremony, made a binder with a sign that let folks know I’d perform weddings for free. (I was even prepared to marry heterosexual couples if they had the audacity to ask.) After all, same-sex couples have had enough obstacles, I didn’t want them to face any more than they had to. Two of my kindred priests (one ordained with our kindred, a second ordained through another avenue but in the process of becoming ordained with us) went with me. My son brought his guitar and my daughter brought a camera. We were prepared to give these couples what “traditional” couples take for granted: a wedding. I wasn’t preparing to make some grand political statement. I wasn’t preparing to be interviewed by a slew of reporters before the day’s end. I wasn’t preparing for anything other than lending a hand.

It was cold and raining. We were feeling rough, y'all. Click to read the article by the Auburn Plainsman.

It was cold and raining. We were feeling rough, y’all. Click to read the article by the Auburn Plainsman.

By 9:00, we were disappointed to learn that our judge was defying Federal mandate; however, we remained hopeful that he’d come around by day’s end. He did not. But something wonderful happened. Using our mobile devices and social media, we learned that the nearest county complying with the law was fifty-miles away. Two grooms, Justin and Shawn, decided to go to Montgomery County for their license. But they wanted to be married “at home.” So, five hours later, they drove back to Lee County courthouse where they found me, a handful of relentless supporters, and a pack of reporters waiting for them. And then they got married. At home. Right in front of the courthouse that refused to recognize their equal rights to marriage.

In the intervening five hours, reporters from every local news outlet camped out with us—the equal rights to marriage crowd. There was only one vocal detractor all day (from a megachurch locals refer to as “Fort God”). He came early, preached a little, and left. For the most part (aside from the obligatory disgruntled federal employee), everyone was either neutral or lovely. The Sherriff’s Office sent extra protection—which we didn’t need—and she was, looking like a khaki-clad Laura Croft, a wonderful addition to our small crowd. Most of the folks arriving at the courthouse for regular Monday business didn’t even realize what was happening before their eyes. Those who did extended gracious comments and support. It made me wonder who the heck these people voted for. More importantly, who they would vote for in the next election.

In the early-afternoon, I had the great and historic honor to marry the first same-sex couple in Lee County, Alabama. And, let me tell you, they were adorable. And crazy about each other.

The day was full of waiting and anticipation, but when the moment came—ahhh!

1978717_10102747384052201_5075152812003103420_nIt didn’t occur to me that I was involved in a moment that would make history. It didn’t occur to me that this act was political. It didn’t occur to me that the news coverage would be so vast. All I thought was, “Finally! After six-and-a-half-years, this couple can be legally married.”

And, “I wish I hadn’t worn jeans.”

I’m not being disingenuously humble. I’m pointing out how little political thought went into my decisions Sunday and Monday. I was frank with reporters about my rationale for being there, about my religion, about everything. It was only afterward that I realized that some of these “franknesses” were, perhaps, poor choices! For instance, I caught wind that a local radio station was talking about the events and drawing attention to my “pagan-ness.” I didn’t hear it, so cannot comment further. But most of the local news outlets discussed the fact that I am a Pagan minister, used my full name, gave my home town, listed my kindred’s name, etc.

10987740_10102744441933231_1598155804593667504_n

No, no. This wasn’t intimidating at all.

Side note: I’ve just learned from a dear out-of-state friend that the national news (yes, national news—in blue jeans yet) has not given so many of my personal details or details about the couple. Thank goodness.

But this gave me pause. Why is it even worth pointing out that I am a Pagan minister? Is the point to discredit the veracity of the ceremony? Is it a way to make both polytheism and homosexuality part of some “fringe” group dynamic? Is it to assure Christians across Alabama that one of their own did not betray them by doing God’s work in a constitutionally assured c’mon-y’all-we’re-supposed-to-love-one-another-and-lift-each-other-up sort of way? Is it just another sound bite? I let you know as it plays out.

Here are a few thoughts that I’m still mulling over in the wake of far too much attention paid to me for what I considered nothing more than “showing up” and “doing right.”

I’ve had scads of people reach out to me to thank me as members of the LGBT community and as members of the human race. I’ve had loads of “congratulations.” This one puzzles me. I didn’t do anything for which I should be lauded. I can accept gratitude for “sticking up for” a marginalized community, but I didn’t achieve anything. Congratulations belong to the lovely grooms. The attention is just not sitting easy on me is all. I’m being as gracious as I can be, but I still feel bewildered by “congratulations.” And as far as “sticking up for” anyone, I didn’t think of it that way. I was just doing what I do. Ministering.

Last night, I got a call from a 2002 Freshman who saw me on the news in Denver, Colorado. He said that I helped turn him into “a useful member of society.” I guess I’m facing the tremendous responsibility that comes with all that. It makes one examine the minutia of one’s actions in a paranoid sort of way. What if one of the little decisions I make is the wrong one? Monday, I said something like, “I’m largely a huge fuck-up. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time. I didn’t do anything but be there.” Fortunately, the news didn’t use that as their sound bite.

Maybe I’m coming to terms with the fact that “being there” is all that really matters in the first place.

I’m seeing lots of Online comments about officiants on lists of folks willing to perform same-sex marriages. Yet, I was the only one in front of my county courthouse Monday. Maybe that’s why I feel so strangely about “congratulations.” Dude, I just showed up. Yesterday (day 2), a friend of mine, a Priestess in Birmingham, was the only officiant at the courthouse in a county that IS issuing licenses. The only one. She showed-the-feck-up. And she was worn out and could have used a hand. No one else showed up. My point is—it’s about showing up, putting your cowboy-boot-wearin’ feet where your mouth is.

The beautiful Lilith Presson doing the right thing. Click to read the article.

The beautiful Lilith Presson showing up and doing right in Jefferson County. Click to read the article.

This brings me back to the issue of being a pagan officiant. It seems Pagan ministers are a majority of those willing to perform services. Does that make us, ironically, more like Christ—in that we (generally) imagine all humans as having intrinsic value and equal rights—than some Christians? Just to be totally clear–I said “some.” There are always magnificent exceptions like (Baptist) Rev. Ellin Jimmerson of Huntsville. Amen.

Then there’s this idiocy. Yesterday, Chief Moore said that same sex marriage would lead to plural marriage and parental-incest. He wasn’t talking about cousins, y’all. He said fathers and daughters and mothers and sons.

A) That’s as senseless a slippery slope as the one about bestiality. One my Freshman English class could identify a mile away.

B) Would legalized plural marriage be that bad? I mean, it is closer to the Biblical model than enforced monogamy.

C) Have you seen a daddy-daughter dance?

That’s about as close to a wedding as anything else I’ve ever seen. White dresses, pledges about sexual conduct, exchanging of rings. Tell me I’m wrong. But first, have a look at last June’s Jezebel article, “Creepy Yet Gorgeous Portraits of Purity-Pledging Daughters and Dads.” 

This little bit of local attention has spun my head and I need a few days for self-examination. Hopefully, in those few days the justices of Alabama will do some self-examination as well and join the rest of us on the side of The Constitution. When they do—or when the Federal courts do it for them—I’ll have my feet where my mouth is. I’ll be showing up. I’ll also be in something other than blue jeans.

Congratulations to all the newlyweds. Thank you to everyone who showed up.

Love is the law, love under will.

War Damn Equality.

Waes thu hael.

Deep Winter

We magical folk always tell each other, “Be careful what you wish for.” The kicker is that what we want sometimes turns around and wants us in return. And then—it gets us.

Let’s just say I’ve been got.

I’ve always wanted to write a memoir about some of the particularly nasty experiences I have been in and borne witness to as a witch, surrounded by witches. My justification for never finishing the thing was that I didn’t know the ending. Good writing knows where it’s going. Even if the writer doesn’t know at first, the story itself leaves a trail of breadcrumbs along the way; a good writer can find that trail and follow it home. The breadcrumbs have finally settled and I can begin to digest the trail—but I’m not sure I really even want to follow it back home. Because, ew. Maybe in my old age.

Yes, I realize that birds are a problem in my metaphor.

Around about this time last year, I left off drafting a memoir and started writing A Year With The Dísr, a ritual book of sorts crafted especially for my kindred. I thought, “Well, the seasons are cyclical. I don’t need to know the end.” What I didn’t know was that I was going to have to live the cycle in order to truly write from a place of deliberateness. I drafted that one and it rang as hollow—a set of rote formulae for seasonal rituals like every other rote formula for seasonal ritual. I wanted a stronger sense of gnosis to guide me in uncovering the Mysteries of creation, death, and rebirth.

Be careful what you want; it might just want you in return.

So, about 117 pages in, I put it aside. And not exactly by choice—it seemed something wanted me enough to pull my by the ear and teach me a cosmic lesson.

Two years ago, we changed the name of our kindred and changed the emphasis of our attentions. Immediately after that, we started seeing purposeful growth. But Midsummer of 2013 saw a boom in attendance and participation—a heyday, if you will. As summer turned to autumn, we saw hardship and loss (strikingly manifest at our Lammas celebration)—and we faced it as a family. That Yule, in good Heathen fashion, we did what we had to do and culled out the resources that were most draining and fed that which would bring us most strength. (I’m not talking about people necessarily, rather activities and goals.) We held a celebration the following January and solidified our commitment to each other. Oimelc/Imbolc followed and spring saw an uphill battle—especially for a few of our members. By Midsummer we were, again, firm in frith and expansively joyful. However, as the season waned to Lammas, so did so much else. This time, I had to face much of it without my kindred—not because they abandoned me, mind you; but because two really wicked incidents derailed our Mabon and Yule celebrations, leaving only a Winternights celebration in between.

Around October, things took a turn for some of us. Winter was deep, lemme tell ya. But I kept saying to everyone, maybe in hopes that it was true for me too, that the fire was returning with the spring. The land would renew with the sun. Day would dawn.

This was a genuine test of Faith—capitol F, Faith. If I really believed that as the seasons turned, our lives followed suit, I had to believe that in the crocus there is Hope—capitol H, Hope. Headed for another Oimelc/Imbolc, I can already feel the stirrings of profound optimism.

Don’t get me wrong, on paper it looks like life is shite right now. I’m still seeing clients but basically out of work—my beloved vocation as teacher unfairly torn from me and with that, a large part of my identity. Some dear friends are facing total devastation and, as is my calling, I find myself a rock in a tumultuous sea—this is rewarding but simultaneously draining. You know this, I’m sure. At 15, 18, and 20, my kids are facing their own challenges, but we are facing them together and head-on. One of the blessings of Deep Winter has been that my husband and I are clinging to each other in a way that the previous 25 years only dreamed of. Communication and trust are at an all-time high and anxiety and hostility at an all-time low. Spring brings with it the promise of a full partnership: familial, emotional, physical, and spiritual. Winter was rough but it doesn’t depart without some beautiful recompenses.

Another of those reassurances is the return of my kin. With that comes the return of my inspiration to write, to finish projects left-off in despair. There is renewed inspiration to strengthen old community relationships and build new ones—while steadfastly avoiding toxicity. Inspiration—even leaders need a muse, and I have rediscovered mine in my kin. For a minute, I wasn’t sure we would even reconvene at Oimelc, but I am looking forward to the respite that comes in the arms of people who love me dearly—even when I feck it all up. “Even if the bread isn’t fully baked.”

And, of course, even par-baked bread can leave a crumb-trail to follow home.

Now that I’ve experienced two full years that rise and fall with the seasons, I feel that my wish has been granted. I have seen the death and rebirth of creativity, security, affection, and all those other things that make the world go ‘round in a directly personal way that has edified me. I can apply this cosmic education to the project at hand in a way that makes it more than rote formulae.

And, having taken a few hour hiatus in the composition of this post to talk to a magical student, I have a plan for the next round of perfectly timed priesthood preparation.

Though Deep Winter held its hidden blessings, I’ll be happy to see the fire of spring return. And though it was a rough row to hoe, I’m blessed to have gotten what I wanted.

Brace yourself. Spring is coming.

Samhain and Winternights

Looks like I’ve been at this Community Building thing for six years and this blogging thing for four. I’m always amazed when I go back and read posts from years past. Enjoy.

Witchcraft From Scratch

Samhain-Altar-2007-small

I found the article I referenced in my last post and was reminded that it was for the newsletter for The United Pagan Federation (October 2012). If you are interested, here it is:

Most Pagans recognize the term Samhain (pronounced: sow-an), meaning “summer’s end,” as the “Celtic” origins of Halloween. There are plenty of mythologies surrounding that particular night (or nights), but we aren’t exactly sure what the pre-Christian Celts, Gaels (Picts), and Manx did to celebrate—if the celebrated at all—because their custom was to pass knowledge down in secret, without writing much down at all. But we do know that Samhain was relatde to the nights that separated the warm seasons from the cold seasons (either the beginning or the end of summer). Unlike the equinox, when the light half of the day could be measured against the dark half of the day with great accuracy, many scholars believe that Samhain…

View original post 757 more words

Irony, Theater, and Even More George Bailey

Yes. As you can likely guess, a lot has been going on in life that has kept me from writing. Many, many wonderful new things have entered my life and they require nurturing and careful attention. (There is, of course, a smattering of SSDD at several WTFs an hour, but that doesn’t even bear discussion–also I know when to keep my mouth shut.) One of the emotional-whiplash inducing effects of being a proper magical-type is that we get what we want, but it doesn’t always arrive in the vehicle we imagined.

And, in my experience, the universe lurves the heck out of some irony. Not that I don’t appreciate a good cosmic guffaw–I can laugh at myself as well as the next witch. Or at least as well as the next witch should–we know what we’ve signed up for. And I often get a hearty belly-laugh from the way the universe chooses to dole out “blessings” (typically with my fists raised, alternating between gratitude and utter confusion, and with “WHY” in the back of my throat). I love irony. We have to in our line, right? Remember always, “The Witches’ ‘Duh‘.”

Irony is the way of the aether.

That’s about what’s what up in here. Everything is truly good–but everything truly good requires a lot of fecking work. And appreciation for irony. And emotional-whiplash.

But, I thought I’d take a break from this magically delicious week and fill you in on a few things. If the ins-and-outs of my (rather humdrum at times) life amuses you–read on. Because that’s all this post is really about. No deep insights. No flowery language. Just me, shooting the breeze.

spread

If you’ve been reading this blog for very long at all, you know how I feel about George Bailey. (If not, here y’go.) And if you’ve read even this far in this post, you know how I feel about irony. I hate one and adore the other.

So, get this.

A couple of months ago a dear friend came to my door and said, “We need to do something just for us.” Of course, I agreed. This friend and I have spent years wrapped up in our childrens’ lives and never really bonded over anything other than child-rearing and kindred-building. “Just us” sounded splendorous. “How about instead of trucking the kids to theater practice all the time we try out for a play?” Dude. This friend and I have been buds since our grown boys were in grammar school together. She knows my sweet-spots.

Side Note: The play was changed at the last minute. Charles Dickens was scheduled but there was a copyright issue. So the play was changed to something that made me laugh so hard I cried.

I spent all of my high school and most of my undergraduate years on some sort of stage. I joked that I went into teaching for the “captive audience.” My theatrical resumé is both impressive and embarrassing–as most theatrical resumés are. I’ve played everything from Velma Kelly to Dr. Einstein in Arsenic and Old Lace (with full-body fat-suit to make me look less apparently female). I’ve played boys. I’ve played girls. I’ve played mystical creatures. I’ve been the trollop. I’ve been the unkissed virgin. I’ve been the crone. I’ve been the vaporish-aunt. I’ve been the vindictive daughter. I’ve been the lead. I’ve been ensemble. Ain’t much I haven’t done. One thing I never played was an elderly man.

Well, ladies and gentalmen? It was thisclose.

Another side note: My daughter is playing the male lead in the high school Fall play currently running this weekend. She’s magnificent.

I went to audition for that play. And as I sat reading the monologues, I wondered just precisely what role I even cared to play. I mean, I kinda hate this particular story and fairly all of the characters involved. That’s when the director announced that she had licence to “gender-bend” the roles. And I had it. I knew. In my bones. Even before I introduced myself to a director who had heretofore only worked with my children. I knew I had the role.

By now, you may be wondering what play our little community theater is presenting this holiday season.

By now you may have guessed if you have payed attention to my thoughts about irony.

Wait for it.

This November, my community theater group is presenting It’s A Wonderful Life, adapted for stage by Anthony Palermo. And I will be playing the role of “Ms Potter”–who hates George Bailey.

pic_giant_100312_C

I won’t be cross-dressing for this role (much) nor be in a wheelchair (much) but will be taking a rather Cruella Deville in Prada tack on the anti-George Bailey–complete with a thick white streak in my hair (per the costume director’s suggestion–I squeed). The big problem has become that I adore the young man playing George. It’s kinda hard to hate him.

So. Irony. Yes. But where’s the magic?

In a life that’s often overwrought with (actual) doctors, (actual) lawyers, and (actual) Indian chiefs, I stole a moment for myself. In days that often leave me asking for divine affirmation–this. This is the highly ironic answer I was given: “A’right, you wanna venture back onto the small stage? Here ya go. You wanna know if your life is on the right track? Oohkaaay … but don’cha know all divine answers are like a slap upside the head? Quit asking.”

With all the fun of Mercury in Retrograde and upcoming Winternights/Samhain celebrations, I’ve felt pulled in more directions than C3PO on Bespin’s Cloud City. But the silly, ironic, time-consuming reward of being part of this little production is knowing that my gods can still laugh at me and yet allow me to laugh along with them (both at them and at myself).

Obviously, It’s a Wonderful Magical Life. Even when it feels like Pitfall! level 50. Some misguided angel may just show up and save your life by jumping off a bridge in front of you.

See? Told ya. Nothing profound to see here this time.

Hee-haw and Merry Christmas, Bedford Falls.

06

Crumblin’ Down

I wrote this back in February, but so much of it still applies that I just edited it up a bit. Back then I was still in the decision phase, now I am in the “action” phase.

****************************************

Phew. I don’t know about you but the last time Mercury was in Retrograde (whether you buy into it or not), it kicked my ever-lovein’ arse.

I love this little advice bit on how to keep from get “retrograded.”

After thinking about it for a minute, I’m putting off a necessary action until after the retrograde goes straight. I was going to move forward–and then I remembered.

This decision is one where waiting has been a little nerve-wracking and has felt counter-intuitive. The decision itself wheedled at me and built to a head for about a year. After I made the decision, it’s just been a matter  of  timing. Every time I’ve waited? I’ve been, um, rewarded–we’ll go with “rewarded.” So I’m  going to wait a bit to take action on that decision. I mean, given the number of communication snafus I’ve seen around me during Merc’s Retro–even if it’s not a reliable explanation, I figure it’s better to wait than to tempt wyrd by jumping the gun.

Seriously, the last Retrograde was strange. Sure, a number of communication breakdowns is par for the course in any busy life, but the kinds of things I saw over a two months period would turn your hair white–and I think I have a few more grays to cover as a result of the funtimes known as Late Winter 2014.

Not only that, but my nicely compartmentalized life–work over here, kindred over here, family like so, personal relationships like this, and sacral life and devotions go like that–imploded.

Every boundary I thought I needed in order to keep my psyche functioning at normal capacity disintegrated. I had people form my business-life visit me in the workplace, I had workplace collide with kindred, I’ve always had kindred in the family and family in the–well, you get the picture. There was definitely peanut butter in my chocolate and chocolate in my peanut butter. It was enough to have a girl singing Mellencamp.

Well, that and “Small Town.”

Only, I can’t “breathe here in this here small town” without exhaling on someone tangled up in something.

Crumblin’ walls, man.

As Mercury Retrograde approaches again, I’ve decided to learn from my experience about crumblin’ walls earlier this year–perhaps I have reached a place where I can no longer segregate my life from my life. Nothing “bad” happened from them tumbling walls, but I was left feeling a little nekid.

It’s a good thing I learned long ago not to do things in one part of my life that would embarrass me in another part of my life.

I mean, I’m no saint, but . . .

I’ve known people who have to scurry about day and night just to keep the left hand from finding out what the right hand has been up to. People who can’t leave certain friends and acquaintances in the same room alone for too long, lest some fabricated barrier be rent in twain. Yup, Being forthright and wearing my life on my sleeve is a little boring, but at least I don’t have any lies to keep track of. Those who have to keep their walls up are usually trying to
manipulate people by triangulating them with or isolating them from others.triangulation

My walls aren’t those kinds of walls. My walls are like the differences between “Mom-life” and “Work-life” like I mentioned briefly in my post about Ostara. I think everyone has these. And I could see that mine were all about to disintegrate. All I could do was have faith that this would be a good thing.

Guess what? It was.

Know how we say that the CIA, NSA, FBI, etc. have to keep a legal “wall” between intelligence and law enforcement–but at the same time, we wish they could share information more openly? (We’ve gotten better at the balance in the last decade, I think.)

It’s like that–my metaphorical CIA metaphorically ran into my metaphorical NSA while my metaphorical FBI was in the metaphorical room and they all got to talking. Now I have  solid, um, “intelligence” that I wouldn’t have had if those walls hadn’t come down.

Now, the domino effect assures that some other peoples’ walls are coming down along with mine. They might not be so comfortable with the exposure they are about to get. But it can’t be helped. Once they get going, tumblin’ walls gonna tumble.

That’s why it’s best to live with good gefrain–never do anything in one part of your life that you wouldn’t want shared in another part of your life. Walls are not reality and they have a tendency to come crumblin’ down.

It’s like the old saying about wearing clean underpants just in case you are in an accident.

Hunker down. July 1 is just around the corner.

Waes thu hael!

Of Mice and Meh: A Heathen’s Reversal of Fortune

It’s been a weird month or so. And a really fecking hard week.

Of course, as you know, I lost my teaching position at the university. My take on it is that this was done in retaliation for my having reported a coworker (who was thus terminated by higher-up in the food chain) for religious-based harassment. This has meant more lawyers. And other banal yet demoralizing experiences.

We’ve had an odd mouse thing in the chicken coop and in the house—and ew. Every day the mouse adventures get weirder and weirder.[1] The end result is that we removed the drop-ceiling in our basement so the vermin have no way to run from room to room.

image

 

We had two rooms flood from different sources (thus the contents of those rooms are all precariously arranged in inappropriate places).

 

image

Basements are fun.

imageAnd I have a child experiencing a crisis which has caused our medical bills to explode. Also—it’s made me have to cancel all of my summer plans so that I can supervise her care. Her safety is well worth it—trust me, this is a no brainer.

Meh.

Don’t think I haven’t already considered how this fits into the Wyrd I have weaved, how my Luck is functioning in relation to my god-gefrain, and how my faith is being tested. I have thought it out. I think it out every dang day these days.

The truth is that I’ve been entirely at my wits end. In the end, I had no choice but to, if I my paraphrase, “Let go and let my gods.”

It was a moment of, “Now, I don’t mean to get up in your face, but I kinda ran out of steam a while back. I’ve been going on pure inertia here. I might could use a push or some sort of gravity-related assistance.”

My gods like locomotive metaphors. Well, any metaphors really—as long as they hold together.

Two nights ago I didn’t sleep.

I stayed up until midnight-thirty washing dishes and whatnot and was awoken at 3:30 in such a way that left me unable to go back to sleep. As a result, I overslept a bit this morning. If you consider waking up at 7:30 instead of 6:15 sleeping in, I “slept in.” One hour makes a huge difference in morning chores, however. And the domino effect of that hour was amazing.

Before I get going—I have to remind you about the floods and preemptively answer: “No. I can’t use an irrigation timer. I have a really nice one—but cannot use it this year. I. Just. No.”

Let me start from the beginning. Normally, I stumble outside at 6:20 or so—in my PJs, set the sprinkler going on the part of the garden that gets the earliest sun (before said sun hits past the shadows of the high pines), then head back in for coffee and cat/dog feeding. This is followed by changing the irrigation system to the back yard where I do my chicken and bee rounds before heading in for a second cup of coffee and presentable clothes. It’s usually 8:30 or 9:00 when everything has been watered, everyone has been fed (including the humans), and I’m ready to hit my office where I work out various publication issues, toodle on The Faces Book, answer emails, read the day’s whatnots, etc. That is—if it’s an office day. Sometimes it’s an “appointments” day or an “errands” day or a “clean the refrigerators” (yes, plural) day. You know—you have an abode—it takes some doing to keep a joint hopping. And this joint is damned big and aging and it takes a lot of doing to keep it on its feet, let alone hopping.

But today, I slept in. A reversal of (fortune) sleep patterns.

I staggered out of my room around 7:45 and looked at the sun shining brightly on the first half of the garden and said, “Feck it. I have to water by hand anyway, I’m making coffee first.” The cats were pleased at this situation because it meant that they got food first. Caffeinated, I decided that I needed “real” clothes before watering the garden.

This was the best call of the day.

I got the water going at about 8:30, watering just the soil so the leaves of the plants wouldn’t burn in the Southern sun. I didn’t quite make it to the second third of the garden before my First Neighbor came by walking her dog. She’s a preacher’s wife who homeschools—we don’t have a lot in common but I really adore her conversation. She’s level-headed and as thoughtful as she can be. (I also just learned that her oldest son, a National Guardsman, is now in Afghanistan; so let’s remember them when we light our candles this week. Will you do that with me?) We don’t talk much since she does her thing and I do mine and—apparently—they intersect geographically about an hour and a half apart.

While in conversation with First Neighbor, Second Neighbor drove past while taking her son to Summer Sport Activity. On her way back, she parked and came up my walk where I had moved on to cleaning paintbrushes (let’s just say that earlier this week there were canvases, there was paint, there were teenagers, all this resulted in art-therapy and turpentine).

image

Second Neighbor is an old friend. Her daughter and my youngest were besties once upon a time—she and I are/were coworkers. (I never know how to phrase this—I mean, I still have a summer gig. I kinda still have the job. Kinda.) We had a lot to catch up on since we hadn’t talked more than just in passing at work or at our kids’ school events for a few months.
image
I gave her the house tour called: “This Leak is Why There Are 312 Books in My Foyer; This Leak is Why All of the Guest Bedding is in My Office; and This is Our Solution to the Great Mouse Invasion of 2014 (and Why I Had to Clean Mouse Brains Out of My Keyboard).” This was accompanied by the “Chicken, Huckleberry, and Bee Tour”—which is, by nature, much more fun. We got to spend a solid hour catching up.

Just as she left, I returned a day-old call from An Important Support System. That conversation was—I—just—wow. If you’ve ever had one of those experiences where you thought no one on earth could understand the full implications of your situation and then you talk to someone—someone TOTALLY SANE—who not only understands your issue from A-Z and all the letters in between, but also makes the most apropos jokes and then offers to get your back, then you know exactly what happened to me sitting on my wee (cluttered) porch this morning.

Then I breathed.

For the first time in about five weeks. I didn’t even have to ask and help was already on its way.
imageAs I was exhaling, my Charming Lady Neighbor came by with egg cartons and a bouquet of fresh lavender tied with the sweetest pink bow I’ve ever seen. (The effect it had on my psyche rivaled the unexpected and humongous bouquet of oregano my dear girlfriends brought me from their bourgeoning garden this past weekend.) She didn’t even want eggs. She still had a few from the dozen I gave her on Friday; Charming Little Lady Neighbor had collected the cartons from her other Charming Lady Friends and brought them to me.

I literally give away about $20-$30 worth of eggs a month,[2] I barter with the rest. Hardly anyone remembers to return the cartons.[3] This one was a big deal to me.

image

I guess this post is my way of saying thanks to my gods in an openly visible sort of way—I think I just got my push, my reversal of fortune.

And that’s how I see it all relating to the Wyrd I have weaved and how my Luck ifunctions in relation to my gefrain. Yes, my faith is being tested. And I am letting go.

After all, I already have a potential teaching job in the Fall that will allow me to teach Pagans about Pagan things.

I’ve also already been offered a really great opportunity that I would never be able to accept if I was working full time. As ever, I’ll let you know how that goes.

I have a kick-arse garden this year, so ain’t nobody gonna starve.

Because of the mice and the flooding, I already have a new floor (and a new window is on the way). And I have been forced to purge a storage room that just never would have happened. It just wouldn’t have. And I really wanted to use that room for living space—now I can.

The Kid is doing fine. The doctors are good and we are optimistic. And Second Friend? That visit may prove to rekindle our daughters’ friendship, which is always nice.

The Kid has lots of friends, but this experience is helping her weed out the supportive ones from the toxic ones. A skill I didn’t learn until I was an adult. As a matter of fact, I had to stop proofreading this post twice. Once to play a card game with The Kid and Her Friends[4]; once to drive The Kid and Other Friend to a temporarily—but necessarily—relinquished activity. It’s good to be getting back to normal.

I still don’t know where I’m going to get the money for theatre camp—a favorite and highly therapeutic activity that I simply cannot make her forego[5]. But, it will happen. *Somehow.* I’m just gonna let it go. And breathe.

And today. Today has been a relief.

I’ve had the chance to see some neighbors that I’ve missed by being outside only in the early-morning.

And I find that I have some quality pro bono legal assistance. All I need is a couple more weeks and I’ll have the filing fee, and away we’ll go.[6]

My life is nowhere near serene at the moment. Everyday finds a new reversal of fortune. But if you, like me, have run out of steam—and then run out of inertia—know that help is generally right there. All I had to do was “let go and let the gods.” Maybe you could try it too?

And, hell—letting go is one of the hardest things to do.

That may be why it grants the greatest compensations.

I wish you well and hope you weather whatever storm you are currently negotiating. And if you are having smooth sailing? I hope you continue to find your Luck.

Wæs þu hæl!

 

[1] I know that there is a problem with killing mice. We tried more humane removal. But you have to understand, this is a dangerous infestation that has caused respiratory illnesses and has become downright gross. The mice have got to go. We are down to “bearable” but--do you know how many fertility charms have backfired over here!?

[2] Don’t get on me about this. There are a few families in my neck of the woods that have fallen on hard times. The measly $2 I charge for a dozen eggs means less to me than knowing the little ones have food on their tables at breakfast.

[3] It seems that every once in a while I get a carton windfall. If you have ever been one of my polystyrene benefactors, know that this is always a big deal to me.

[4] I’m always weirded out when The Teens want to play with The Mom.

[5] Especially since Theater Lady is moving and this is her last year in our town.

[6] It’s too bad we couldn’t have reached a more civil-like arrangement when I tried. Now everything will be public record—and the ugly has exploded. Though I’m clearly in the legal (ethical, spiritual) right, this adventure won’t be fun for anyone, so keep me in your thoughts on this count too.

Meh. The gods work things out the way they will have it, not the way we will have it.