Good News! I recently unlocked the “Does Idiosyncratic magick stuff based on experience and inspiration” achievment!
So, as I have been diving back into my practices and my Craft one of the things I have been doing is exploring different forms of Witchcraft and different and unfamiliar practices, like ploughing the furrow or laying a compass rather than casting circle. Useful rites, each with their own pluses and minuses, but with some very different ways of relating to the Universe.
In my readings and multimedia wanderings on the topic of Witchcraft, and a lot of re-readings of bits from books in my personal library, I have been reading up of Traditional Witchcraft and was still fascinated by “The Crossroads Rite” by Christopher Orapello and Tara-Love Maguire. I first came across it in the intro to their Down At The Crossroads podcast, and they also feature both the words and the associated working in their book Besom, Stang and Sword. Laying down a Crossroads and calling on those energies wherever one happens to be.
These many sources and ideas were playing about in the back of my mind when I was invited to my friend T’s new house for a visit on the Winter Solstice. I offered a gift of some magick and some sort of blessing or protection working for her new place.
Her partner was working, and is not as into the woo as some of the rest of us, so it was myself, my partner J, one of our BFF’s M, and Ms T. All Witches of varying levels of experience and practice and lapsed or semi-lapsed status at the time. My partner at one point joked we should just use the simple protective circle chant “Circle circle, Round round, Protect me now from Sky to Ground”, and call it a day. Matt and Tara countered with their preferred version, “Round round, Wrap around, Protect me now from Sky to Ground.” Which I rather liked, in part because certain sections of my brain immediately started trying to filk the poem to the scansion of Dead or Alive’s 1985 hit You Spin Me Round.
Yes, I am kind of old and do have a warped sense of humor… why do you ask?
Now T’s house is near a four way intersection, a literal crossroads; and her quiet driveway fronts onto a busy road a second metaphorical crossroad. Over the course of the evening I talked with her about the sort of energies she wanted in her home and what kind of vibe she needed for her house. I also looked at things like the alignment of the house to the cardinal directions, the physical layout, the current and planned functions of various spaces, any current energy, including a very large metallic upright pentacle wall hanging in the bedroom… I decided to draw on the energies of the cross-roads near her home in an ongoing way, to connect them up with some bits of magickal protection on the thresh-holds, and to sort of lay down energetic lines that could be tapped by her later for anything she might feel the need or inspiration to do for herself or her home and beloveds.
One of the things inspirations of the moment was to draw a symbol of a simple Solar Cross in invoking the energies of the cross-roads, and muttering T and M’s preferred version of the abovementioned charm. Over the last several months I have come back to it again and again, drawing a symbolic crossroads and calling in these energies….
Our illustration has the cardinal directions noted more for metaphorical/symbolic reference, although I have been experimenting with a more three dimensional version for Esbat and Sabbat workings. The idea is to draw upon the powers of magick and possibility and the various energies and Powers of the cross-roads; I use this as both a consecrating space/self charm before making offerings or doing some types of magick, and as a protective charm whenever I feel need of such.
The Sign of the Crossroads
“Round, Round, Wrap Around, Protect me now, From Sky to Ground.”
We start with the Sign, it does not seem to matter the direction you face or whether you are drawing this in the air in front of you or tracing it on a surface, as long as you keep the associations with the cardinal points and the crossroads energies firmly in mind when performing the charm.
With your finger, or a stick of incense, or whichever tool of art feels best for your purpose, Imagine the sign of the Crossroads before you and recite the Charm.
“Round, Round” Trace the line from West to East.
“Wrap Around,” Trace the circle from East around clockwise to East again.
“Protect me now,” Trace around the circle clockwise from East to North.
“From Sky to Ground.” Trace the line from North to South.
As I say I have used this as a recalling sacred space charm/rite and as a protective charm, it seems to have functioned well in both capacities.
I have also used a variation of this charm as part of a recent Esbat rite I did shortly after the New Moon…
Casting the Crossroads
This takes the charm into a three-dimensional space. For this, the cardinal points matter so use a compass (there are a number of good phone apps you can download to your phone, or you can go old-school and buy a compass, just be sure to research the current number of degrees of difference between True North and Magnetic North for your area.
Start with your finger, or the relevant tool, pointing West.
“Round, Round,” Trace a vertical circle clockwise from West to East and back again to West.
“Wrap Around,” Trace a horizontal circle around from West to West.
“Protect me Now,” Trace along the horizontal from West to North.
“From Sky to Ground.” Trace another clockwise vertical circle from North to South and back to North.
I am going back and forth about the need to undo this charm when using it to remind myself and the world around me of our shared sacred natures, and perhaps it is my early studies rooted in the writings of Wiccan’s and Ceremonial Magicians and the use of a Magick Circle, but if one feels the need to return the space to a more neutral or everyday energy…
Tracing a path along the horizon clockwise from the North.
“Tout, Tout, Throughout and About, Round Round, Wound and unwound.”
Some folks may balk at this piece of idiosyncratic magick I’ve shared because of my use of the Solar Cross, and it’s recent associations with the far Right and White Nationalism. Much like the runes, and many other symbols recently en vogue with the alt-right, the Solar Cross is a centuries old symbol used in many applications and cultures across many millenia. They. Do. Not. Own. It.
And, for the record, I wish them ill at every turn and opporunity.
So today’s card of the Day, my regular Tarot Card Draw I do as I start some Shadow work in my life and try to get in better touch with my Subconscious, today’s card was The Chariot (reversed).
My immediate response was to sarcastically mutter “Imballance, there’s a News Flash!” as I picked up my phone to check the Labarynthos Tarot App and then my worn copy of A Complete Guide to The Tarot by Eden Gray to cross reference interpretations. Then I was like “Finally, something that vaguely resembles advice!!!”
Then I started today’s journal page, noting the Date and Day, the Moon Phase, the Time, The Planetary Hour and the Planetary ruler of the day, and then the Card of the Day. Notes on the meanings and any related observations and thoughts stirred.
The questions of control that are stirred by The Chariot (reversed) were rather productive and feel like a seed for growth and development and contemplation and perhaps progress forward in my journey.
What can I control? What can I not? Of the things I can’t control what do I do about it? Do I seek control or somehow let them go? Of life’s many uncontrollables can I somehow make plans or take steps to deal with them productively? Even having these plans and taking these steps am I prepared for the fact that sometimes all plans and preparations don’t work out and the unexpected and occassionaly spectactularly bad things can happen?
I also wrote some notes about how I want to work on and write here going forward, and some notes about my Regular and Fluid Practices pt2 post.
My work schedule took some dramatic changes over the last month or so as a number of coworkers were out sick and I was left the only front desk person on the schedule with members of our management team picking up shifts to keep things running. 6 day weeks and a number of unexpected overnight shifts and a few trun around shifts.
Turn around, for those NOT familiar with the idea are where you are scheduled to work say 7a to 3p and then your turning around and covering the 11p to 7am shift. Thankfully rare but they do sometimes happen.
So on the spiritual magickal front I’ve been doing my journaling and regular practices and daily-ish tarot card shadow work as timing and my physical and mental/emotional spoons allowed. (Does one need to explain Spoon Theory these days or are we all caught up on the idea?)
Lately allergies have been hitting me pretty hard, if tree pollen doesn’t like you then Live Oak (a species common to the US Southeast) HATES you. I am not suffering nearly as bad as past years, but I am also avoiding allergy meds until I can touch base with my doctor about possible medical interactions…
Also, I made a thing…
I just wanted to check in today. Tonight or tomorrow morning I will be prewriting on part 2 of the Regular and Fluid Practice piece.
Yes I do owe any readers out there and my own self some Notes on the Journey here… but I thought I would take the step of doing an actual topic driven blog post. This somewhat radical departure from my ongoing lack of actually writing was inspired in part by a Tweet by Youtuber and Thelemite Da’at Darling…
“I will die on the recommending daily practice hill. I don’t care how much backlash I get for recommending daily meditation and doing a lbrp, it will help you progress, and I won’t say daily practice is “outdated”.”
So I have been intermittent at best with my morning routines of physical and spiritual self care lately due to some dramatic scheduling upsets at work. No shame or guilt, it is what it is and I guess I am learning to be more compassionate towards myself when I am not able to go according to my plans? I am also learning to value the idea of being fluid in my daily or regular practices. My learning curve was helped by what seemed to me, in a moment of self doubt, a timely post on Instagram by Patheos blogger The Gardnerian Librarian who wrote…
“If you find yourself losing motivation to practice or engage with daily devotions, etc, then *change something*. Your practice should bring you joy and satisfaction. The moment you feel like it’s become something like a chore, *change it*. Devotions in the morning becoming stale? Do them at sundown. The change, no matter how small, will excite your brain.
Don’t become complacent with unhappiness or boredom.”
This is a very positive development for me as for all too many years I would try to develop a regular practice of spiritual and magickal work and journaling and such, and between my being blessed with ADHD and the somewhat chaotic nature of scheduling in my chosen field of the Hospitality industry and more than a few longstanding issues related to self doubt and questioning my own self worth, I would start heaping shame and self doubt upon myself if I could not engage in my practices in the way I envisioned them in or what I had in my mind as “the right way”. After a time I would set them aside often telling myself I was being practical and that I could pick them back up later once things were less chaotic.
The problem of course is that the pace of life around us does not calm down for our convenience. It is when life starts throwing us the curveballs of chaos that we most need to lean in to the practices that nourish and sustain us. Then too, as my hospitalization last year so dramatically highlighted for me, tomorrow is never guaranteed to us, so we may as well do what we can when and how we can to make life joyous and pleasant now!
Now fluidity in ones practices can come in either scheduling or format depending on the practice in question. The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, which Da’at Darling mentioned, is one where you might be looking at scheduling because of course it is a very specific ritual/practice with a very specific format and functions. Other practices, like the ones I engage in, can have a certain fluidity to their structure and scheduling as necessity dictate.
“So What are you up too on the regular Pax?” one may ask.
Well for the sake of writing about them I can divide them into three categories Spiritual/Religious, Magickal, and Practical, but I don’t want you to think that any of these practices are solely within one category… at the end of the day once we have figured out what practices sustain and nourish us they do so in a complex and interwoven way that can tend to defy easy categorization even if we are categorizing them in a perhaps fumbling attempt at explaining ones attempts to unscrew the inscrutable.
Practical: includes basics like taking my medications and vitamins, remembering to eat something for breakfast before my daily commute to work, the assorted tasks of self-care and grooming related to going out into the world, and even prepping a lunch/dinner for work so I don’t need to spend money buying something on the way in.
Spiritual/Religious: includes some form of greeting or prayer or offering to the Ancestors and the many Spirits of the world around me and of course The Gods. Spiritual also includes attempts at Shadow Work including journaling and a daily Tarot Card draw where I contemplate the meanings of the card and what my subconscious might be trying to tell me in the meanings that most spark my interest or awareness. Then to there is meditation although for the time being I am happy to let it sit with micro-doses of mindfulness as I take a few moments throughout my morning to sip my coffee and savor it’s flavor and a few moments of silence and mental stillness before turning to whatever is next…
Magickal: includes some form of grounding and centering and shielding, and breathing into and connecting to/checking in with my chakra’s/energy centers/parts of self.
Now with any regular spiritual practice, as I know, the experience of it will ebb and flow. When one practices meditation for example, sometimes one is just struggling NOT to count the seconds and get ones thoughts to shut up and sometimes you caress the faces of the gods…
I will be going into some more detail in a second part to this post I think, as at the moment I kind of need to be about my practices and my morning if I am to get to work this afternoon in the Hospitality mines of The City Beautiful.
So after a few weeks of scheduling adjustments at work, and some dramatic mental and emotional ups and downs (look for blog updates on these and other things in the next few days…), I am reclaiming my much-needed healthy morning routines AND my efforts at social media stardom 😆! Coffee, my meds and vitamins and supplements, quiet time, grounding and centering, offerings and prayer, daily tarot card draw, some journaling, hopefully breakfast (I am not a morning eater these days but I try to get something small in in the morning to go with the medication and for general health), maybe minecraft, and ,definately quiet time and coffee… lots of coffee! THEN the showering, shaving, and stuff to get ready for work or leaving the house.
As you can see from the pictures I have set up the familly room as a bit of a spiritual and religious study and workspace that is coming together nicely!
One of the keys, for me, to successfully journaling is to be open to the process and forgiving of myself. By that I mean I accept that I may not manage a detailed exploration of my self, some days it’s going to be a few notes or lines jotted down and some days it’s going to spur a few pages of writing. There are times where I am trying to get as much detail about something, and days where I write a few notes and generalities. It is a process and journey all its own and the important thing is to keep at it! Some days I am doing good to note the basics; date, day, Moon phase, time, planetary hour, and the Tarot card of the day and a few notes about the card meaning. Even then those notes provide food for thought throughout the day and the days that follow.
I try to give myself at least a couple of hours in the morning before the time I absolutely have to be getting ready for work or to do stuff in the outside world. Some days it’s a very calm and relaxed time and sometimes the time goes like quicksand… but I am coming to cherish my mornings and as I jokingly yet accurately call it, getting ready to get ready for my day.
What routines or rituals do you have that sustain you? How do you set up your personal spaces to sustain and support you spirit and faith?
Since last I wrote here it has been a busy and somewhat eventful Yuletide and we have slid into the New Year. Not, sadly, without some fresh outrages and alarming events here in the US. There is a lot to discuss and or unpack recently, so I will be doing a separate post about the events of January 6th 2021 at the US Capitol and it’s ongoing aftermath. So general notes on the Journey…
I last sent word to you here on the …wow… 8th of December?!
Fair warning, I have a tendency to turn inward this time of year around the Winter Solstice. Understandable given I spent the first thirty something years in my home state of Alaska… four hours daylight on the Winter Solstice… well its definitely added some personal interpretations to my spiritual and religious journey. I know that for many Samhain is a spiritual New Year, but for me the Winter Solstice has always been the turning of the year.
On the more personal level I’ve slacked off terribly from regular journaling and writing here and elsewhere in favor of a lot of me time and some Instagraming, and giving some serious thought about what I want for myself, my family (including the extended and sometimes far flung group of people I think of as members of my personal tribe or family of choice), and for my home. Housework and a bunch of magick and magickal experimentation mixed in with it as well. A good part of what I have been doing is looking at my practice and Craft and the ways I am relating to my self and my needs, rereading the lore and how I relate to it.
Brooms and cords and measures were a piece of my Yuletide and New Years Full Moon work. Now, for me, a broom should be both a practical tool for cleaning, and a magickal tool for works of magick and spirit. On a practical cleaning level with a tile floor and a concrete patio a couple or more brooms are a necessary thing to have around the house to clean dirt and outdoor debris. On a magickal level going between the worlds and clearing the way for blessings and cleaning up the spiritual debris of any household strife of the past.
Now I know that the widespread introductory lore is that if it is a magickal tool you should not use it for mundane purposes lest you profane it, or in order to emphasize to the deepest parts of mind and soul that said tool is for such-and-such and to help empower the tool and your magick and to keep it from the hands and energies of others.
For some tools this makes a tremendous amount of sense, at the same time there is a bunch of magickal lore that came into contemporary Witchcraft from the Ceremonial Magick crowd. Not a bad thing, but a thing worth acknowledging and thinking about. The archetypes are similar after all, but when we look at the Magician and at Ceremonial Magick one of the things that tends to stand out is that Magicians had money or sponsors. Witches were often doing what they could with what they had available. Then too, one sees a tremendous amount of witch-tips in social media and books about how ‘in a pinch’ one can use a pen as a wand, or that blessing water in a random cup is still blessed water, or to cut ties with someone who is toxic in the workplace one can hold a pair of scissors and symbolically ‘cut the cords’ that tie them to you. Preferably discretely and symbolically after they’ve walked away…. cutting the air between oneself and ones malefactor in the moment could end up involving HR after all!
With this in mind, there are some items that it makes sense to have multiple blessed and consecrated versions of AND some of the tools that it makes sense to use in matters both mundane and magickal. So far this has worked well for me.
I even crafted a Broom Oil for blessing!
So having crafted this oil, I anointed a small cinnamon broom, and the well worn household broom of straw, and did some house cleaning. Moving first widdershins around the space, I swept up the dirt and dust and assorted stuff off the tile floors, I also sort of reeled in the energy of every disappointment, every resentment, every insecurity, every self-doubt, every instance of self-trash talk, and basically every ounce of drama and any and all forms of negativity that I or anyone else may have left behind as I swept up the dirt. Sweeping it out the back door. I rested for a moment, having done my utmost to reclaim all of that energy, and clean the heck out of my place.
Then I took up my Chalice (the personal fancy Witches one, cause sometimes one needs to bring out the formal tools after all) and having filled it with some cool filtered water from the fridge, I blessed it and cleansed it. Then I took several deep breaths and willed all the ‘negative’ energy I had cleaned/pulled in from my space into the water in the chalice. I thought about so many things from the last year or two as I let the energy flow from me into the water, arguments, periods of depression, the occasional fight or drama… everything associated with all of the incidents that I put that energy into over the last couple of years.
Once I felt as if I had emptied myself of it all I took another breath or two, and then raised it high, cleansing and consecrating and blessing the water and the energy within of all impurities that I might work wonders, and then I drank it down; reclaiming a bunch of energy I had essentially wasted on stupid things as well as trying to heal myself of some of my past pains and struggles and hydrating cause that too is important!
All of the above was then followed by moving deosil around the space with some incense to bless and cleanse things further, and then deosil again trying to get things organized and decluttered. Or noting where else I need to do that sort of work, because I am still tiring easily some times after my hospitalization.
So in addition to contemplation and Craft, some of my absence has been due to some changes in my job life, transferred to a new location that is closer to home and has a different regular schedule so there has been a period of adjustment. Things seem to be going well so far and I am looking forward to the reduced commute time. At the same time the last time I was at this work location it was an incredibly stressful and difficult place to be and to work, and I sometimes find myself reacting to the memories of the past their as much as I am to the present moment.
Don’t worry, I am also working on that!
Overall, I am looking forward to a New Year with it’s own opportunities and challenges.
Monday was the first of my three days a week off from work, roughly a four ten-hour shifts situation, and while there’s plenty to do my body and spirit especially demanded rest. I sipped coffee, browsed assorted social media, finally settles for what ended up being a four hour nap… there’s a Gilligan’s Island theme song filk tickling my cerebellum…and am journalling and blogging and texting with good friends and engaging in some delightful and deep-ish conversations in my social media with other good friends tonight and getting my night owl on!
Over the last couple of weeks I have been doing my best to listen, truly listen to my body and it’s needs. I have been getting up early, trying to get good and good hous of sleep, making sure I took my various blood pressure medications and vitamin supplements and making lunch to take with me each day rather than stopping at the corner store. I know these sound like small things but when you’ve spent far too many years neglecting yourself in ways great and small they can feel pretty massive!
*rereads that last sentence*
So, ok, as we’ve previously discussed I have recently been unpacking two things;boxes of my books and magickal supplies and tools, and my emotional/mental/spiritual baggage! A near death experience can apparently share commonalities with a shamanic death, and as I’ve been deep diving back into my Craft of writing and my Witchcraft thoughts and ideas and research and magickal techniques related to boundaries and crossroads have been a big theme along with the realization that a bunch of my journaling and introspection and discernment is mirroring what is called by Jungian psychologists, and some Traditions of The Craft for that matter, Shadow work. In the coming year I will be looking to read some Jung or his intellectual disciples.
All of which has been a bit of an adventure as early December always gets me moody. A blend of Seasonal Depression, my ADHD self realizing the Holiday is upon me and I should find something my my loved ones and family, and an annual frustration and low self worth fest related to being poor. Most years I start to jump start myself out of it with a listen to Hard Candy Christmas by Dolly Parton… though the first version I heard of it was from Rupaul’s holiday album Ho Ho Ho. This year I discovered a metal band or project called August Burns Red and some delightful Holiday Metal options to add to the works of Trans Siberia Orchestra among others as my musical holiday serotonin boosters.
On the home front, we were making space in the freezer and had set a chicken to thawing in the fridge and had reached the point of cook it or lose it. The fabulous Jonathan roasted the chicken while I was at work (he works from home even outside of a plague year) and I had some for dinner when I got home. I placed the meat in the the Gladwear and let the rest of the bird and a small amount of the pan drippings simmer on low overnight. The next morning I woke up on my own about an hour before my alarm. After the urgent application of a cup of coffee, I fished all the bones out of the chicken broth that had worked its overnight alchemy on the stove on the lowest heat setting, and using a slotted spoon and a paper towel skimmed some of the excess fat and froth (which if I am remembering correctly relates to calcium or minerals in the bones) off; all this before raising the heat and added some herbs. Our broth then sat in the fridge for a couple days as the mad rush of days and work schedules occupied myself and my bear. Jonathan got some celery and carrots at some point in there. Then my dear husbear boilled up some brown rice (brown rice is better cooked more along the lines of pasta than white rice apparently) and blended it with water and a bit of the home-made broth, added some sliced carrots and celery, some of the chicken from the roast as well as some boneless chicken breast from the freezer that he cooked and cut up, and more herbs and let it simmer for hours.
So now we have soup, and snacking chicken, our little dog Dobby has some snacking chicken, and we have a good amount of broth that needs to be portioned out and some placed in the freezer for later use in soups or gravy or sauce. Our particular process in this reminded me of nothing so much as the Stone Soup out of European folk tales.
So these have all been a part of my recent journey as of late.
Now in this plague year of 2020, there are a lot of discussions and arguments going on across culture and society of how we should be responding to the pandemic and why. I was caught up in one of them recently. I had posted a meme about Covid-19 and it’s potential to affect my home state of Alaska when a relatively conservative friend of mine expressed once again their skepticism regarding the seriousness of Covid-19 and how the affect of a lockdown are much more serious on the populace and society. The conversation that has resulted has kind of blew up in the comments with a number of friends putting in their thoughts and observations. Some of what you are reading right now came out of that conversation. Which has led me to some self-realizations about this pandemic and the issues around it that seem to be tearing people apart both inside their own heads and hearts, and from one another in our larger society.
As a Witch, especially for me recently, one deals with the idea or theme of ‘the crossroads’ as a place of magick or power. A place where different streams of traffic or different travelers or cultures or points of view meeting together or crossing transforms that place into a place of opportunity and power; but let us start with the idea of the Acrostic Eye because as I have learned over time the experience of it is often the basis of my own observations and opinions.
The Acrostic Eye is where a Witch, or in my view any Pagan, can start seeing the world differently through the lens of the study of things including magick and/or the symbolism and lore, and the practice and experience of their path. Now there is an old joke within the Pagan communities that the so-called Abrahamic faiths are Religions of the Book whereas the many forms of Paganism are often religions of the Library. This is because in the adventure of pursuing the many paths of Paganism one often finds oneself on side-quests into the oddest corners of knowledge including history, science, and culture. This can result in a world-view that is sometimes radically different from those around us.
Regarding the Acrostic Eye I have used the analogy of an approaching Thunderstorm being both a meteorological phenomena and at the same time the approach of a Holy Power as an example of where the scientific and rational can be interwoven in ones mind and experience with the spiritual or the mythopoetic.
I find the idea a profoundly useful way of looking at the world around me.
I nearly died earlier this year. Before they put me into a medical coma in march of 2020 and on a ventilator, even though the two tests from one nasal swab (long story) came back negative for Covid-19 my every symptom and test result matched the known symptoms of Covid-19 at that moment. Given the timing of the tests, and the timing of the anti-body test I had in MAY once I left the recovery hospital where I had to relearn to do things like stand and walk after I woke up in APRIL; well the hospital systems down here had repeated problems with the both the Covid tests AND the Antibody tests. So there is a chance it was Covid-19…. but the official diagnosis was congestive heart failure.
So this means the symptoms related to Congestive Heart Failure complicated by a Lung Infection; those symptoms match the those of Covid-19. So whether or not the tests were accurate, whether or not I was actually affected by Covid-19, I was given a unique and dreadful view into what it must be like.
I can tell you from direct personal experience, it is horrifying to realize that you’re afraid to fall asleep because you are having to think about every breath, it is heart-breaking and terrifying go get ready going under sedation, not only not having any idea if you will ever wake up again, but also having had to give your beloved husbear and your brother a quick phone call to try and compress what is possibly your final good byes and discussions of your potential Last Wishes into a phone call.
It is unbelievably scary to wake up from a medical coma, still woozy and someplace in between full consciousness and sedation related hallucinations, and realize that you have a Tracheostomy in your throat and in that moment have no idea if your every going to be able to speak again. It is painful, difficult, depressing, and life changing to have to learn how to stand, how to breath properly on ones own, how to speak, how to use your hands for fine motor functions, and and walk on a level or up or down stairs again. It is soul shaking to have to return to work two weeks after getting out of the recovery hospital and see people in complete fucking denial about the necessity of wearing a mask or socially distance, have people complainingly ask why I am wearing a mask when I am behind a partition at my place of business because they can’t come in the office lobby because of company mandated safety precautions.
Then too thanks the current behaviors of those who are anti-mask, anti-social distancing and frequently preaching the message of Covid-19-is-no-big-deal, the virus is STILL spreading unchecked. Such that without lockdowns, without masking and social distancing, a disease that has a 2% fatality rate would kill AT LEAST 2% of any States population if left unchecked. Then there is the fact that there is the very real mounting medical evidence that people can catch the disease REPEATEDLY. That coupled with my recent hospitalization and the possibility that I nearly dies from it once… all of these are also terrible to experience.
Now read this and please remember, each and every time I see someone denying the seriousness of covid, or despairing over shut-down orders, or going of on some tangent about masks or ‘the economy’… What I hear and see is them wishing AT LEAST all of the above on any random stranger… because of course some people are not going to experience more that a mild set of flu symptoms (at least the first time they catch it) but will pass it onto others.
So, whose beloved, whose child, whose mother or father are you willing to kill via a slow and terfying suffocation for a paycheck, or ‘my rights’ or for ‘the economy’?
I will add that I say this as the son of Republicans, and the brother of a political/fiscal conservative who left the Republican party a few years ago due to his being an economic policy wonk; I do not think that ALL Republicans or Conservatives are racist or anti-poor or anti-woman or well, whatever form of evil that some my friends on the Left frequently like to throw at the Right. Reality and life are often made up of so many intersecting streams or layers of identity and culture and social-group and race and gender and so many things…how could I?
I freely admit some emotional and intellectual bias here in this discussion based upon my background…
In watching the response by those (largely but not always limited too) the Right, there is the attitude that “Meh, it’s a disease… it’s pandemic…it’s going to kill people we may as well let it and move on with our lives….” means that those PREVENTABLE deaths are ok.
As a Queer man who came of age in the 1980’s this certainly feels dreadfully close to the subtext that was present throughout most of the early 1980’s that HIV/AIDS was only killing ‘those’ people so why make such a big deal about it?
NOW, I will freely and publicly state that there were people and agencies in the Reagan administration that worked mightily to not only combat the epidemic… but to fight against that perception… AT THE SAME TIME, I can certainly understand those who look at Reagan’s not even publicly mentioning or addressing that epidemic until 1987 when the first identified cases were around 1980 or 81 (at least in US and as far as my memories and subsequent review of the historical record) with anger and outrage and bitterness at lost friends, and loved ones, and all too tragically lost opportunities to prevent literally millions of deaths around the world.
In the current global pandemic, I find myself looking at who is most likely to be afflicted…. the elderly, those with pre-existing health conditions, and the working poor. To deny the serious of Covid means you think their slow, tortuous, yet preventable deaths, are acceptable.
I am approaching 50, I am struggling daily to quit smoking after my congestive heart failure, and have never been able to earn enough to escape being just above poverty level and I have worked damn hard and struggled economically as long as I can recall.
So I find myself for the second time in my life-time being one of ‘those people’ whose death is acceptable to a frightening number of people, due to the inaction and underlying biases of others.
At least that is how it feels every time I get anywhere near discussions about Covid-19 and how we are responding to it in the United States, land of the free, home of the brave, nation that I love.
Sometimes, you start out doing one thing and then find yourself going on an unexpected journey. So let’s take a Fools Journey through my recent Tarot related hijinks.
I was feeling Witchy last week and working on some writing ideas, going through my old notebooks and books for ideas for my new personal Grimoire, doing some research and exercises figuring out the sometimes cryptic instructions available regarding the technique of creating sacred space known as Laying a Compass; I decided to take a break and practice with my Tarot cards. It has been ages since I had done so and was planning on doing some in depth shuffling and then sorting into the Suits from Ace to King and the Major Arcana from One to Twenty-two followed by a detailed reshuffling… just a refreshing my memory and hands sort of thing I do some times. I find the exercise helpful when I am getting my intuitive juices flowing.
Getting in the right frame of mind is important for reading the Tarot cards because not only do they speak in the language of symbolism and dreams and metaphor, but also because amongst those of us who deal with various forms of scrying and such the Tarot cards are known for being perfectly willing to cut a bitch. Tarot is one of those tools for introspection and or “fortune-telling” that WILL confront you with your BS at some point… sometimes repeatedly. So you’ve got to not only be open to your intuition, but also willing to deal with your own internal blind-spots and issues if you’re reading for yourself. When reading for another, you had best bring your tact and discretion along with your discernment because you might end up stirring up some profound feelings and issues! Tarot cards also do not necessarily predict the future (except in the most general of ways) as much as give you perspective on the things going on in and around you that can affect the general outcome of the question.
Anyway, I found myself drawing four cards and laying them out from left to right with no particular sense of position equaling meaning; merely a deep desire for guidance or perspective or advice or direction.
So yeah, there I am minding my own business feeling witchy and a bit adrift and in need of guidance or direction when one of the Major Arcana and their friends are kicking in the doors of my perception with a hearty “WHAT IS UP MY PARTY BITCHES?!”
Now, I’ve been a Witch for a literal decades, but as I’ve mentioned recently I have until recently been more of a lapsed Witch than a practicing one and I am more than a little rusty with my Tarot skills. So I was immediately writing notes and impressions, checking books, looking up reliable info… heck I even found a very useful Tarot App and Resource site. I even, as the above picture shows, pulled out the same cards from another deck just to compare imagery and seek any deeper meaning or inspiration. I wrote notes on the most basic meanings and noted which ones ‘felt’ like the meaning in the moment, these are in bold in my musings and notes below. Your first impression in interpreting the cards is a useful signpost but not always the end all be all of the messaging, because depending on the layout and the interplay of the meanings and interpretations can affect the conversation as it were.
Over the course of this last week since, in between work and living other parts of my life, I have done some more research about the cards in question and Tarot in general to refresh my rusty memories. I also posted the picture above to my Facebook and Instagram with some comments and got some useful feedback from friends. I have tried to contemplate what sort of messages the interplay of the cards may have.
So here is what I have so far.
Four cards drawn and set down Left to Right with no particular meaning attached to order or placement..
Now while the Tarot deals in symbolism… I did nearly die earlier this year from what was definitely congestive heart failure although I still think it may have been Covid. I was placed into a medical coma and on a ventilator, had a variety of hallucinations/dreams/Elseworlds style scenarios while I was under, and then awaked to a long slow recovery of mixed activity in daily life and work and rest and frequently exhausted contemplation.
Not sure if the experience matches up with the idea of ‘Shamanic Death’ but I rather think an ayahuasca ritual would have been both cheaper and less overwhelming!
As I’ve been recovering I’ve been forced to take time to think about a lot of things and take stock of my life. I have gone to work, come home, and spent my time resting and thinking about everything that is going on around me; reviewing my past and excavating of my emotional and mental baggage and identifying a lot of times where I SHOULD have spoken up for myself or set boundaries or… well something… but I held back out of fear or financial insecurity or just a lack of knowing how to stand up for and advocate for myself. I allowed far too many people and situations to disrespect me in both my professional and personal spheres. I pulled back from blogging, from discussions in social media, from phone calls from friends, caught in a spiral of fear and not-responded/talked-in-ages guilt, and a lot of anxiety and depression.
In reviewing the last decade or so… I realized I had let go of the creative spark that brought me joy and did so much to center me and allowed me to deal with difficult things. I have been slowly getting that creative spark back but it’s been a bit of a journey to get there. Comments here or there in friends social media posts, little fragments of writing, reaching out to people dear to my heart as my schedule and in some cases several thousand miles of distance allows.
I am engaged in a renewed creativity and engagement with the world and making many new beginnings, so the messages of changes and transformation and renewal seem very on point.
Money is TIGHT right now. I should probably stick a Tucks medicated pad into my wallet just to be safe! The house is in some pretty serious disrepair and needs a lot of work. The A/C is out of commission, in Florida. Thank heavens for portable A/C units! Bills from the Hospital piled on top of other bills both expected and not; this along with the reduction in my family income due to the pandemic… Financially it’s gonna be difficult for a couple of months until a few things come into play in the new year.
At the same time, that phrase “keen observation” hit home because a LOT of my problems over the last several years have come from just ‘going with the flow’ and leaping without looking into situations that were MUCH more complex or difficult than I ever imagined. This feels somehow ironic given that over the years I have often preached the message of the complexity of reality and situations to friends and acquaintences.
Kindness balanced with firmness seems not only a personality trait but kind of a notice of how best to move forward. I think I have been too focused sometimes on being kind and nowhere near focused enough (or self confident enough) regarding firmness or perhaps I should say healthy boundaries.
Now there are a few different ladies in my life whom the cards could be referencing if the Queen of Swords is to be taken as representing a particular person’s influence or power to influence my life. Gods know I am busily reconnecting with several dear friends and have somehow found a few new ones recently. Swords, in my personal interpretation of Tarot symbolism, can mean the affect of outside forces or how we are dealing with them, yet in the case of this drawing and card I am not sure this is referencing someone else’s influence as much as it may be some of the aspects of self that have been lacking that I now need to work on integrating.
Then there is that ‘mourning’.. when I was first doing my notes it seemed to obviously accurate about my current emotional state to be the core message of this card (it felt a little to on the nose I guess?) I’ve recently lost a very dear friend, the second year in a row where someone I’ve known and held dear for decades has crossed the veil. The last couple of years especially have seen a lot of upheavals and mis-steps on my personal and professional journeys and my previously mentioned contemplations and review of things has led me to acknowledge a lot of times where I could have dealt with things in a MUCH more sustaining and healthier manner.
Yet in this meaning of ‘mourning’ the Queen of Swords weaves it into the Death card rather fittingly on a certain metaphorical level so I get the impression that the first two cards are part of a set… and that the next two cards form another set and the two sets are interacting with each other as sets or pairs or like a crossroads perhaps?
A hopeful card? I question mark because the phrase ‘you will receive what you deserve’ is potentially a teeny bit of a landmine of meaning depending on the interplay of the cards around it in a reading; overall though I think this is a hopeful sign! I also had some caution about my interpretation of this one because of the very real possibility of wishful thinking creeping into my contemplations of my finances and future. As is appropriate regarding the suit of Pentacles especially and when walking the line between inspiration and intuition that is reading the Tarot, I am trying to stay relatively grounded.
Over the last year, both before and after my hospitalization, I’ve been trying to look at my financial and career life and make some actual long term plans about how I want to live moving forward. How to rekindle and harness my creativity to improve my self and my station in life. Some of these plans are still in the planning stages and some of them are in motion. At the same time a small annual inheritance from my late father is all that’s been really keeping me and my family financially afloat, which is one of the reasons I have had finances and career and spending and income so much on my mind. Then too the changes and reflections brought up by the previous two cards have helped me realize that it was in letting go of my voice in posting things and my fear of messing up my career as some of my coworkers connected on social media in terms of my opinions and faith and spirituality, and my putting off or setting aside my spiritual practices in fatigue or exhaustion when the mad rush of days became an onslaught upon my previously tender boundaries, these were all undermining my ability to make effective and healthy choices in my work and personal lives.
Over the years I have tried to be a giving person, a combination of paying it forward and a genuine desire to help others where and when I can and as appropriate. So generosity and charity seem appropriate I guess. If I can afford it, and someone begs for money for food, I will get them some food or a gift card or something; this is also motivated by a few jobs at convenience stores where folks begging for money for food would buy cigarettes or booze. I will when money is available to spare, stock up on some gift cards to have with me so that I am not pulling out my wallet to help a stranger out.
I am realizing I need to do a lot more research and learning about matters financial as I write this, and nail down some of my plans and aspirations for the future. If we take the progression of each suit as a journey though I feel like perhaps I am making productive progress and will start reaping benefits from what I am sowing and am on the right track. I am also getting the feeling that I need to do some more work in this area and will be saving some of THAT contemplation and activity for later.
I’ve been working on this post for a couple of days and the work of introspection and
if my gut feeling of the reading being divided into two sets of two cards rather than a set of four individual cards rings true, this leads us into our next card.
The Aces, the first cards of each suit, can speak to new beginnings or or influences. Swords can speak to the mental realms, intellect and intelligence, conflict and communication; in my own personal understanding of the Tarot swords can also speak to influences or forces outside ourselves and how we are reacting to them. As always, depending on the layout and the other cards that have come up.
The power to love strongly or to hate. That this was what felt like the message of this card in this reading is especially interesting to me in light of a couple different things.
The first is that since I woke up in hospital and have subsequently returned to my work in the service industry and engaging with the world around me, I have found that I am sometimes more prone to being moody as all fuck! Now as an Aires I can have a bit of a temper sometimes and be headstrong… I’ve always had a bit of a temper… but this is different. I used to be able to control my temper, or so I told myself; though in doing the introspection related both to this particular reading and my recovery process I have realized that a lot of what I thought was controlling my temper and keeping my cool was actually stifling and sublimating my temper in some very unhealthy and unproductive ways. Somehow my nearly dying appears to have pretty much stripped me of that ability. A lot of my journaling and energy work and meditations and stuff over the last year have been around staying grounded, finding my voice, and reopening my heart chakra. For all too long I was swallowing and sublimating a tremendous amount of hurt and anger and fear, and once I drifted away from my Craft as a witch and as an aspiring writer, it really started to eat me alive without my knowing it.
The second message from the Ace of Swords, and of the power to love strongly or hate, is one of the power of decision or decisiveness. Going forward I must choose how to wield the two edged sword of my mind and reactions and ability to communicate to help bring the best possible interpretations of this reading to fruition. Almost as if everything I have gone through this year has cut the ties to my past pains and fears and issues and now I need to make the conscious and well balanced and one hopes graceful and informed decisions to move in the direction of my dreams and goals.
One of the oddest realizations I had while writing this post was that being blessed with ADHD means that a lot of the connections and ideas and themes I wrote about took a lot longer to write out and about than to have happen internally as I did my research into the Card meanings and introspection. The ideas and realizations rapid fired in the recesses of my brain in about an hour of note taking and looking at the page after a couple of hours of research and the writing of this has around a day and a half…
I suppose though that that’s one of the key differences between simple notes and inner realizations versus actually articulating and writing such things out in detail, the act of attempting to communicate these things meaningfully to oneself or to others helps etch these things into our memories, souls, and best future selves.
So… that’s been my recent journey though introspection and the Tarot. Wherever your journey is taking you I wish you bliss and blessed be!
Thrice Great Hecate, I call unto you, Most honored amongst the gods, Lady of the Earth and Sky and Sea, Under brightest moon I call across the nights to you, In the midst of darkest night I call out unto you, Underneath the sunlit skies I call out to you , The New Moon’s Mistress, Torch bearing, Lady of the Hounds, hear me, You who is The Queen of Phantoms, The Place Where Three Roads Meet, Keeper of the Keys of Creation, Crossroads Golden Clad Guide, Guardian of the Gates, Gorgo, Mormo, Thousand Faced Night, Come unto us oh Savior, Come unto us oh Eldest of the Gods, Who is also the Night Wandering Maiden, Come unto us, Attendant of Persephone and Demeter, Come unto us, Bless the incense, Come unto us, Bless us with your presence!
It is a strange sensation to feel parts of oneself that have lain dormant for years waking up again.
That’s the best way I can think to describe things as I have moved from the day to day of recovering from my stay in Hospital earlier this year and towards engaging in life again. I was messaging a dear friend not too long ago talking about how for the last several years my life had largely become a cycle of work/sleep/work again…
“That’s not living….” he said, and he was right!
My working world currently runs from Thursday through Sunday with four shifts of eight to ten hours each, leaving me with three days off in which to accomplish things, or to not accomplish things as I wrestle with my ADHD and my insecurities and my still sometimes fluctuating energy levels and sometimes easily tired self. So Sunday the 15th was the New Moon where the moon is eclipsed by Earth’s shadow, and is associated with (among other things) beginnings and renewal and scrying and setting intentions… None of which was really on my mind last week as I was trying to be enthused about cleaning and clearing out household clutter. Yet I found myself drawn to my sadly neglected Altar, or rather the storage shelf piece of furniture that used to be my Altar.
At the time my beloved and I moved to the house from our former apartment I was newly starting an hourly management position and transferring to another hotel in my company and I made what is a sometimes terribly easy mistake to make, “I’ll get to it later….” I said, “Once things have calmed or settled down…” I told myself… Thus the mad rush of days continued and I allowed myself, my spirit, and my home, to sink into disrepair and disorganization to a truly alarming degree. Thus the journey of rediscovery and renewal that I find myself on these days.
Returning to our current story, last week I was attempting housework and found myself digging into the boxes of books and tools and magickal mementos that have sat so sadly neglected for apparently far too long. I found myself unpacking these boxes and rediscovering a number of treasures and memories and puzzle pieces of my best self. In that ‘week-end’ and this one I have gotten some things done around the house and started working once more on my newest grimoire and working on and figuring out how I want to proceed with the blog and my various social media accounts.
One of the big realizations I’ve had, perhaps again and hopefully this time the lesson will stick with me, is that when given the choice between the onslaught of days and once spiritual path we are tempted to take a step back… to retreat somehow and return to our path later. This is I think where so many of us lose our way. Take a breath, accept, and lean in to your practices and path and into the mad rush of days that life will bring!
That, my friends, is what I am trying to do as I pick up puzzle pieces of my self and take stock of what needs doing within my head and heart and within the world around me.
Standing at the crossroads of despair and determination one must observe the niceties. Offerings of cakes; libations of milk, and honey blended with water.
“For myself, my people, and my nation, To the Kindly Ones do I call, To the Erinyes to I direct my cries, Doom laden ladies, hear my pleas! Megaira! Alekto! Tisiphone! Sisters three, blessed be, and hail to Thee! Once more turn thy cloaks, from white to black. Sacred Oaths have been broken by those sworn to their service. They have broken their oaths to their God. They have broken their oaths to our Nation. They have placed their interests over the interests of the Nation they are sworn to serve and protect. They have violated the sacred trust of their positions. They have courted and crafted and stirred division and anger and fear in the hearts and minds of the people. They have cast aside all pretense of honor or integrity or decency and spread a blanket of slander and falsehood and suffering across the land. They have allowed a plague to ravage the nation. They have brought strife and violence and evil intent into the lives of the people they are meant to serve. They have taken food from the mouths of hungry elders. They have ripped children away from their parents, placed them in cages and treated them worse than animals. They have torn the seeds of descendants from the bodies of helpless captive women. They have rent and tattered and soiled the robes of Themis and Eleutheria and Dice with the savagery of their assaults. Serpent haired huntresses of the night raise your torches and ready your brass tipped scourges to track and to harry these evildoers into flight and ruination.”
Someone is bound to freak out over this simple petitionary prayer and accuse me of semi-publicly casting curses; which is of course best done in extremis and in private.
Nothing could be further from the truth here however. This is a petitionary prayer to ancient Goddesses from the ages before the reign of Zeus, whose areas of concern are related to (among other things) the breaking of oaths. Some historians and scholars posit that they are the personification and deification of the curse that befalls an oath-breaker.
Our prayer then is, of course a petition for divine justice and if need be retribution. The canny, or perhaps uncanny, practitioner could derive from today’s poem an effective and therapeutic rite to petition Them. The only real requirement for calling upon Them is that one be a wronged victim of said oath-breaking, and the accused’s other forms of nastiness. They would then examine the matter and determine if Their attention was truly required.
Preferred offerings and a polite tone can work wonders after all.
So I started writing about the journey my 2020 had been here…
When we left our narrative I had been having shortness of breath, and the motel I was working at was in the start of a busy season. Covid had just really begun to come onto the public consciousness and in a canary in the coal mine moment Disney made the decision to close all their parks world wide and their cruise lines. There was a lot of concern brewing in early March for those of us in the hospitality industry in Central Florida.
I can’t pinpoint when I started consistently feeling under the weather. I was taking allergy medication, and some cold/flu medication, and still feeling terrible. Until the night I just could not seem to breathe easy. As the night progressed and Jonathan went to sleep I took a hot bath and tried everything but I became more and more frightened because I would try to relax and …it started feeling like I had to focus on breathing to continue breathing rather than it happening automatically.
I double checked my insurance information, woke Jonathan, and asked him to take me to the ER.
It was empty when we got there, around 3 or 4 am… just a couple of nurses behind the counter. No one in the waiting room. I explained I was having trouble breathing and that I worked in the Hospitality business. That I had recently checked in guests from Italy and from Asia in the last few weeks. (January thru March can be the starting bell for tourism in Florida with guests from overseas)
They got me to a negative air pressure waiting room, did the covid 19 swab test as Jon held my hand, and I waited and waited and waited. Jonathan had to go to work, and he reassured the hospital staff that his real estate photography involved photographing empty houses and that otherwise he would be staying in isolation at home.
They wanted to do a second swab, but without Jon there I simply wasn’t able to handle it. I am afraid even a few hours of breathing problems and relative isolation had not done good for my mental or emotional state. Nothing like being left to stew in ones own mental juices while fearing for ones life to play with ones head.
I waited some more. In the nearly empty halls of the ER in an exam room clearly labelled negative air pressure room. They performed some other tests including a CAT scan, or perhaps it was an MRI… they wheeled me through the big metal donut and scanned me in some fashion anyway….
Finally many hours after I arrived, they admitted me to a hospital room in an isolation ward. I had forgotten to grab a phone charger, and messaged one of my BFF’s Matt to see if he would be able to pick up a cord and charger for me. He dropped one off, at the desk and they were able to get it up to me. After a brief misunderstanding at the lobby desk that for a brief and alarming moment made it sound like my friend Matt might be put into a forced quarantine at the hospital… but they allowed him to go home for isolation.
Doctors and nurses in masks and full plastic jump suits would occasionally visit. I can’t clearly remember what if any other tests were performed over the next couple of days. By this point I was on oxygen with a… canulla I think it’s called… the little tube with the nose prongs that you see in nearly every hospitalization scene in the movies? It was helping a lot the first couple of days but by my second day in the isolation ward breathing was becoming more difficult again…
Then the doctor got back to me. Tests had come in.
The Covid test’s, two off of the first swab, came back negative… BUT, there were some questions about the reliability of the tests and timing even then and every other detectable symptom matched those shown in cases of Covid 19. So they wanted to put me under sedation and get my on a breathing machine as soon as possible because based on every bit of available medical evidence I may very well have Covid 19.
I took as deep a breath as I could… and told the doctors that I would need to make a few phone calls before they put me under.
I called the GM of my motel, outlined the situation, and explained that I was not sure when I would be able to return to work. He was a rock and told me not to worry that he would reach out to the regional manager and that there were measures being put in place by the company.
Then I called my brother Scott. I explained what was happening and that they were putting me under and on a breathing machine. I explained to Scott through labored breathing and tears and stifled sobs as I tried to stay somewhere near calm that I had not yet made a legal will, but that if the worse happened I wanted Jonathan to get the house and it’s contents. He reassured me that if something happened, that he as trustee of our fathers modest estate would make sure Jonathan would get the house and be provided for from our fathers trust. I made sure Scott had Jonathan’s number, and told my brother that I loved him and to give my love to his family.
Then I called Jonathan and told him what was happening. I told him I loved him. I told him that if the worst happened I had made sure he was going to be taken care of. I tried to express my deep love for and confidence in him. I made sure Jon had my brother’s contact information…
Then, they put me under sedation.
I am crying a bit as I type the above. I also notice I haven’t done very well to describe my fears, or my environment or even my feelings of fear…of grief… of the sensation of hoping with no sense of certainty that I would wake up. The stark cleanliness of the hospital room, familiar from years of visiting my mother in hospitals, and from Jonathan’s own hospitalization for an assault in 2019. How the place felt even somehow cleaner or more sterile because of what seemed like a relative lack of activity and the protocols of masks and the PPE suiting up process. The dreadful sense of being Schrodinger’s patient as I waited on results. The random musings of being in an older section of the hospital that had likely been refitted and renovated multiple times over the course of years and the musings of what other lives and experiences had passed through the rooms there.
Even writing this bare description of these events is difficult. I find myself tearing up, and also going into that emotional cross-roads between numbness and grief that tells me I need to be doing more writing or journaling or magick around this to help deal with this fearful experience I have gone through.
In the different faiths of Contemporary Paganism and the different Traditions of Witchcraft there is a lot of talk about the idea of The Mysteries. Those rituals of experience that you can undergo that can reveal great Truths or Revelations to the one experiencing them. Many times in mystery rites, there is a symbolic death and rebirth, or so the stories go. We don’t know much of anything firm about the ancient mysteries, or the contemporary ones, because in part one does not speak about them to the unimitated. This is said to profane the mysteries… at the same time you could talk about the experience at length and never convey the spiritual truth of the experience.