I’m sitting here typing and listening to Freakwitch practicing in the basement. I wanna be a drummer! I need to somehow make it a priority (i.e. find the money) to get the djembe I’ve been talking about getting for months. B. is going to give me some lessons. And my Mom is going to learn, too – we both want to get a drum soon. I really like B.’s drumming, both kit and doumbek. And I just feel like I have a natural affinity for rhythms and beats. That’s always what I follow the most when I’m dancing. Sure, I groove to the melody, but the rhythm always calls to me. Ah well, for now I’m just a wannabe!
I’ve been feeling a lot of strong emotions lately, and trying to figure out what to do with them. Ideally, it’s best to feel the emotion fully in the moment, and let it flow through you, not becoming attached to it. Sometimes, though, I’m in a situation where it’s not appropriate to cry or show anger, such as in the workplace. In that case, I tend to supress the feeling, but then find that I do have to deal with it sooner or later, and sometimes it has grown bigger in the interim.
The emotions that I have the most trouble with are ones that are essentially reactions to other people’s strong emotions. I am an empath, and when someone around me is feeling something very strongly, I tend to pick up on it and either share the feeling, or blame myself for it in some way, which can cause other emotions to arise. Usually if it’s a situation that makes me upset, I can let go of it pretty quickly. But dealing with others’ feelings is more difficult.
In the past I tended to process my emotions internally, in my head or in a journal, rather than speaking out loud about them with others. More recently I’ve been in situations where I’ve been doing a lot of verbal processing, which has been both good and bad. Good, in that I can get ideas and new perspectives from talking with friends. Bad, in that it tends to tire me out very quickly. And it can also be a burden on the friends.
So now I’m trying to find a good balance for all of this. To be open and honest with those I love, without overburdening them with my emotions. To process things internally, without hanging onto them in an unhealthy way. To express my emotions authentically as they come up, but not let them control me. As I write this, it seems to me that what I’m working with is a basic aspect of being human, and learning to be a better person.
As the Wheel of the Year winds down and the earth prepares to sleep, it’s time to turn our thoughts to Samhain. Traditionally, this is a holiday when pagans honor our ancestors and beloved dead, while the veil between the worlds is thin and the dark nights grow longer. Often this means cooking their favorite foods and setting a place for them at the Samhain feast. But what are some other ways to honor and connect with those who have crossed over?
If you have friends or family members who have passed away within the past few years, perhaps you wish to create something new to honor their memory. Writing a poem or song, embroidering a wall hanging, or building a rock garden are some examples of a creative tribute. Use your imagination, and as you work, focus on happy memories of times you spent with your loved one. If you like, charge your creation in sacred space, dedicating it to the spirit of the person it’s made for.
Another way to honor your ancestors is to find out new things about them. Ask your elders about people in your family or community you were too young to know or remember. You may discover many funny or poignant stories by asking questions and then sitting back and just listening. At a recent family gathering, I discovered that the cat symbol I have drawn since I was a kid (and which contributed to my choice of pagan name) came from times I spent drawing with my Mom’s favorite eccentric aunt, when I was really little. I’ll certainly be honoring Great Aunt Ruby as part of my Samhain ritual this year!
You can also, with a little research, discover something new about your family’s culture of origin. Go beyond the stereotypes of what it means to be of French or Celtic or African descent, perhaps unearthing an old song or folk tradition that you can use in your Samhain celebration. Or dig a bit deeper, and discover the reason *why* a particular custom or tradition was handed down as part of the culture’s lore.
Many of us also honor spiritual ancestors, who may or may not be blood-related. Who are those who went before, whose lives have brought meaning to your own? Women during the Burning Times? The anonymous “conductors” for the Underground Railroad? Native Americans who walked this land centuries ago? Find a way to honor them this Samhain, perhaps leaving an offering in the woods or garden. Find or create a piece of jewelry to wear as a tribute to them, or burn a candle on your altar in their memory, on the days leading up to Samhain.
There are many ways to honor our beloved dead. Samhain is an especially good time to do so, but it’s also important to remember them throughout the Wheel of the Year. Perhaps you could set up an altar or shrine of photographs and special items passed down from past generations. Or simply send them a prayer, song, or mental “thank you” when you think of them. By remembering our ancestors and paying tribute to them in some way, we continue the thread of love and magick woven through the tapestry of our lives, passing it along eventually to those who come after us, and continuing the legacy of our evolving spirituality. Blessed Be!
Yes, this is one of those oh-wow-life-has-been-so-busy-I-haven’t-written-in-forever entires. Boring, I know. So, don’t read it. Move on to what’s next. Unless you really can’t help yourself.
The summer and early fall have been (obviously) quite busy and full. There were sad parts and happy parts and amazing things and painful things and fun times. The kids are both in soccer, and loving it as usual – Dryst got asked to be on a travel team and he’s really enjoying that. I’m actually thinking maybe I’ll join an adult soccer team myself. Weird, I know.
Mystic Quickpaw is now 6 months old and is so cute and wonderful!
I’ve been doing some writing here and there, and cultivating my creativity. A good friend and I are going to write a cookbook, which is exciting! I’ve been eating mostly vegan, which feels great.
Not sure what I’ve forgotten. And here’s the usual vow: I’ll try to be better about writing here. Really!
So, Matt took the cats to the vet for their checkup. I get this voicemail on my work machine (said in a laughing singsong voice): “Mystic is a boy!”
Now we’re having a really challenging time trying not to say “she” and “her” and getting used to “he” and “him.” This poor cat won’t know what gender he is…especially once he’s old enough to get neutered.
Last summer at a Reclaiming witch camp, I (re)discovered the joys of going barefoot. It was a very rainy week, and the terrain was hilly, rocky and muddy. Soon all three of the pairs of shoes I had brought (sandals, sneakers and hiking boots) were completely soaked through, and the notion of dry socks was a laughing matter. So, I decided to go barefoot. My studies that week were focused on connecting with nature and the divine, and I soon found that having my skin directly connected to the earth with each step was a profound experience. By the time I came home, I could hardly wear shoes at all. The chakras on the bottom of my feet were wide open and the energy between myself and Mother Earth was flowing freely.
Over time, as the weather grew colder and wetter, I forgot about going barefoot. During the winter, I resumed wearing socks and shoes, and wore slippers in the house so that my feet would stay warm. I ordered some new Birkenstocks online, thinking ahead to spring, not recalling the way my feet felt on the cool grass. Spring came, and it was rainy and cool, so I stayed with socks and close-toed shoes. But at last, the sun peeked through, and I started hiking.
Not wanting to get my new Birks muddy on a hike with Quester, I decided to take them off and put them in my backpack. Within moments, I could feel the energy of the forest more strongly: the trees breathing, the earth’s heartbeat, the life force of the moss and flowers, the humbling strength of the rocks. My awareness continued to expand as I walked, placing each foot as if in a moving meditation. As my consciousness shifted, colors seemed brighter, my love and joy for Quester seemed bigger, and I could feel the attention of the Goddess upon me. Barefoot hiking made a beautiful day even more magickal and meaningful.
Recently I was able to introduce a close friend of mine, B., to the pleasures of barefoot hiking. Getting past the initial discomfort of roots and sharp stones, he opened himself to the experience, as I had done at witch camp. I could see the shift in his consciousness as he allowed the direct connection with the earth to flow up through his feet. We also did some silent hiking, which again expanded our awareness of the energies surrounding us and connecting us. The cool mud soothed our feet, and we headed for low spots on the trail, rather than going around them. Flat rocks in the sun also became favorite spots for a moment of rest, and we picnicked with our feet in the stream, feeling ourselves fully open to all of the elements: the cold water, hot sun, soothing breeze, and patient rocks.
The reaction of the other hikers was interesting and amusing. Most people were incredulous that we would hike barefoot, and said things like “you must have really tough feet!” One woman said she “could never do that,” to which B. quipped, “sure you could, just take off your shoes.” A little girl told my friend intently “you have mud on your feet.” An older woman stopped us to tell us about a friend of hers who always hiked barefoot, and who had written a philosophical treatise about the benefits. That led me to do a little bit of research when I got home, and I found a cool website, Barefoot Hikers.org, that will give you more information if you’re interested.
Hiking has long been one of my favorite summer activities, and now it has taken on a new dimension, directly related to the energy work I’ve been doing. Go ahead and try it, with a friend or on your own. Or if you don’t hike, take a barefoot walk around your yard or a park. Open yourself to the loving energies of the earth, grounding and releasing with each deliberate step. Enjoy the warmth and aliveness of the earth at this vibrant time of the year.
As I learn more about my fire and my will, and explore what it means to be fully myself, I’m finding an interesting balance between self and service to the community. In the past, I tended to err on the side of being a bit too focused on other people’s needs and desires, to the detriment (sometimes) of my own. That type of selflessness can backfire, because if you don’t take care of yourself, you can burn out and then not have any more energy to give, whether you like it or not (been there, done that).
On my new path, there are times when it feels like I’ve gone to the other extreme, being selfish to the exclusion of the needs of my family or friends. This has been pointed out to me a couple of times recently. And of course, that taps into my old pattern and I feel horrible about it, and start to question my new way of being in the world.
But, as my dear friend B. says, there is a middle path, that of ““self interest.” As I’m learning, this is a way of being that takes into account one’s own needs and desires, and pursues them in a way that is in sync with the needs and desires of loved ones and the greater community. It allows for service to community, but in a way that “feeds” one’s energy rather than drains it.
I can take the energy I get from doing what empowers me personally, and feed it back into helping others with their work. That way, everyone benefits. And I’m being more authentic in the world, by acknowledging and acting upon my own desires, exercising my will in a positive and sustainable way.
It’s still a work in progress, this new way of approaching my life. Feedback and suggestions are certainly welcome!
Little Mystic Quickpaw has swiftly found her place in our home and hearts. The two older cats are still not sure; they hiss at her and give her disdainful looks, to which she looks up at them like “what? I’m a cat, too!” But she and our dog Star are, unexpectedly, very good pals. They play together, chasing each other around happily whether indoors or out. Quester says they are the “black and white team,” since they are both the same colors. Plus they are the youngest four-leggeds in the house, so there is a lot of playful energy. Mystic has to hide herself away when she needs to sleep, because the kids are so enamored of her that they won’t leave her alone very long. She has had her first tree-climbing adventure; Crow climbed up to fetch her down. She goes outside, and sleeps with ElvenTiger every night. She’s a sweet little cat, and I’m glad she’s here to live with us.
We got a kitten this weekend! After some deliberation, her name is Mystic Quickpaw. We’re reading Christopher Paolini’s “Eldest,” and really like the two werecat characters in that book. Solembum is the male werecat’s name, which didn’t seem to work for a girl kitten. The female werecat who hangs out with the elves in Ellesmera is Maud Quickpaw. I didn’t really like the name Maud, though (and the name didn’t seem to go with this kitten’s energy and personality), so we decided on Mystic as her first name.
She is black with white paws and some white on her chest and belly. We got her through someone my brother works with, and two of her siblings (Puss and Vinegar, or Vinnie for short) were adopted by my parents. The kids are SO excited about her, and I share their enthusiasm. Our oldest cat, Huzzah, was around before both of the kids, and we got Penny when Crow was only two, so he doesn’t remember. So this is their first kitten. When we saw how excited they were about my parents’ kittens, and then found out another one would be available, we just had to get her.
She seems to be adjusting well to the family so far. The kids have a really hard time leaving her alone long enough that she can sleep. But she has adapted, going off to find a hidden spot for her cat naps. She’s an Aries, having been born sometime in early April. Her personality so far goes along with that, being fairly fiery and independent. And of course, curious. She is brave enough to go up to Star, our dog, and check her out briefly before dashing away again. Star is a bit intimidated by this tiny creature. She seems a bit jealous, too. The older cats seem largely indifferent thus far, though Huzzah and the kitten have been hissing at each other when they happen to occupy the same space. Mystic seems comfortable enough, eating well and sleeping through her first night here. And she certainly loves to play!
I think she’ll be a great addition to the family. Welcome, little Mystic!
Here we are in another rainy weekend. You can tell because I’m actually staying inside long enough to write. Although there is probably no one reading this anyway, because of the long gaps in entries while the sun was shining! (Helloooo, anyone there?)
Last night was Freakwitch band practice, with all five members in the house. I hung out and danced to their music. The “new” guitar player, who played with Quester years ago, is learning the tunes and they’re sounding quite good. Go check out their website; they have a lot of good stuff happening right now and in the near future.
Today we were able to sleep in late, listening to the rain, which was lovely. The kids were up but were in quiet mode and we had a really relaxing morning. Then we took ElvenTiger to her haircut appointment, stopped by to see a friend where she works at a farm (the kids both helped operate the soil machine that packs soil into small pots for seedlings), and did some grocery shopping. Came home and had soup for lunch, and did some stuff around the house. The kids wrote, played computer, and played pick up sticks. We all did power yoga together this afternoon. Now Quester is making dinner, and the kids are out playing in the rain.
Soon our friend R. will come over to babysit, and Quester and I are headed out for a night of dancing! I’ve been dancing quite a bit lately, and am feeling really happy about it. It’s one of my favorite things to do. I prefer live music, and most enjoy dancing to jam bands with lots of improvisation, wild drumming, spacey guitars and general harmonious cacophony. That and dancing to rhythmic drums and chanting voices around a fire in sacred circle… But just about any type of dancing is better than none! Quester and I haven’t gone ballroom dancing yet, because we aren’t so sure of our new skills. I think we need to take another session of lessons in the fall before we’ll feel confident enough with it. A friend of mine once asked me, with look of serious concern on his face, “why *is* it that women like dancing so much, anyway?” My answer: “because it feels good!”