The Whispers of my Ancestors

(Revised and expanded upon from a Facebook Post)

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Dear Friends,

Since shortly after the riots in Charlottesville, and with the Wheel of the Seasons turning towards October and Samhain, I’ve been looking at this bottle a lot this week-end.

It came down to me from my Mother, who got it from my Great Aunt Lois. Lois picked it up in Egypt during WWII. What was my Irish American Great Aunt doing in Egypt you may ask? Working for the OSS (the Wartime forerunner of the CIA)  or so the story goes.

One time when my mother and older brother were visiting her, in the early 1980’s, Lois received one of her letters from the CIA. She received these every once in a while, basically telling her that she could now speak about her activities from such and such a date to another, as the information had been declassified.

The one mission I know something about involved sneaking onto a Nazi occupied air-field and spreading caltrops to destroy the tires and hopefully sabotage and crash Nazi planes.

Now I face the reality that a young woman died, was murdered,  in Charlottesville  standing against Nazi’s and White Supremacy on U.S. soil. At the same time as a realist and someone who is reasonably historically informed, I know that she was hardly the first to be killed by Nazi’s or White Supremacists on U.S. soil in history, or even in my lifetime, perhaps not even the first this month.

Holy Mother in Whom we live, move, and have our being;
Holy Father Who lives, moves, and has being in every atom, every cell, and every soul;
Help me, please, I pray, in whatever way I may,
Contribute to the world in such a way,
That she is one of the last.

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Disaster Foreplay, the Disney Scale, and me.

Dear Friends,

Living in Hurricane Country is not so different from living in Earthquake Country is some respects. You tend to try to keep a full pantry and emergency supplies read. But it’s in the predictability of hurricanes. You can see one developing and coming, but you can’t really uproot for every storm…and sometimes they change track and sometimes they suddenly develop in scale. The meteorological foreplay over a developing storm can be nerve wracking at times.

With earthquakes…they happen or they don’t. *shrugs*

Then again I grew up with them, we did earthquake drills when I was in grade school.

I remember one time I as out to dinner with a friend who was new to Alaska and he started freaking out… “What was that?!” I blinked, confused for a moment, and then saw the hanging light fixture above the table swinging. I realized that a minor earth tremor must have happened. You get so used to them growing up in earthquake country that if they are below a certain level you stop noticing them.

Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly, you get used to Tropical Storms and Hurricanes… in a different way of course.   It becomes a level of worry and preparedness.  You have so much more covereage of the weather in an area prone to hurricanes, every local tv station has an extensive weather bureau for example.  If it’s ‘just’ a Tropical Storm or below a certain level of Hurricane of if the dominant storm track isn’t to bad, your kind of zen about it.

Last October with Hurricane Matthew for example, the storm was going up the Eastern Coast of Florida.  Orlando and Central Florida were expecting high winds and heavy rains, but would have been on the outer edges of the storm.  Even though it was a Category 5 it was not actually making landfall.  Even with the curfews and the constant emergency alert coverage, and the mandatory evacuations along the coast, Central Floridians were relatively ‘meh’ about it.  We bough our supplies and prepared…

But then Disney announced they would be closing the Parks…

(Which they have done this 4 times since the park opened in 1971 )

THAT was when folks in Orlando and Central Florida started to get *real* nervous…

Anyway, the Fabulous Jonathan and I are keeping an eye out and my fingers crossed…

Peace,

Pax / Geoffrey

 

 

Ch-ch-ch-ch Changes

(found this lurking in my drafts from about 3 years ago…)

Dear Friends,

I have lived at and under the Poverty level my entire adult life.  I am one of those shady worthless poor people that some politicians have liked to dismiss and denigrate, or I have been.  It has been hard, but partly with help from my family I have always been able to JUST make rent and bills.  It’s been a path of fear and frustration as I made just barely enough to not quite qualify for things like food assistance, and Gods know there were times it would have been a blessing.

The frustration of looking at the pantry and asking ones self ‘Do I buy groceries or go to the low cost health clinic for this hacking cough and fever?”

The paralyzing fear and frustration of knowing things in your workplace are not being run to the company standard, and wanting to either report it to your company or to look for work elsewhere…BUT…what if you get fired…or what if you get hired and your bills are late because your waiting for the new pay periods to kick in…what if ‘something’ happen?

When my father fell ill, and then a week later died, I thought about trying to get time off and my brother’s help to fly across country to see Dad one last time..but it was the busy season and I did not want to inconvenience the business that I basically depended on for everything.  (The fact that I did not want to face Dad’s mortality or my own is also floating in the background there, but is not my focus for today…)

Dad was always there for me to help me through the rough times and help financially and even give me a monthly bit of help to make my rent and bills.  I felt a lot of guilt about that, but did not know what else to do.

That’s one of the things about poverty, it leaves you feeling helpless and leads to a scarcity though process that helps keep you poor, or it can.

Dad had some money.

It’s now being split into some trust accounts for my brother and I, and so now I am in the very new place.  Relative financial security.  I have money.  Pay the bills without worrying about what I have to short change to do so, kind of money.  Able to buy a house of my own, outright, money.

With this sudden change of finances, I am exhilerated and afraid.  I have my brother riding herd on things as he is the Trustee; and I have a few close friends riding herd on me with advice on how NOT to spend all my money and how do I find a CPA and all sorts of other things that I had really thought would NEVER apply to me in this lifetime!

I have, for the first time in my adult life it feel like, CHOICES!

I could go back to school, get a bachelor’s, pursue some dreams, find a career that feeds my pocketbook and more importantly my soul.  I may someday be able to actually retire and not have to struggle and work every day until I die.

This is a strange cross-roads for me to be standing in, one I really had lost hope of finding in my life’s journey this lifetime.

A Library of One’s Own

Dear Friends,

I used to dream of being a writer, I yearned for it.  As a boy I was always filling notebooks with poems and story ideas and fragments of writing; I was also a voracious reader.  My parents probably dreaded the sight of the Scholastic catalog handed out each year in grade school, do they still do that I wonder?

Luckily we were (I now realize) middle to upper middle class and they could afford to indulge my eager and curious mind.  Usually stories of mystery, or history, or often trivia and ghost stories and books about folklore and sci-fi and fantasy.  Like I said an ever hungry reader, I remember days when there was nothing on the three tv channels of the time (yeah I am that old folks) if I could find nothing else, I might page through our dictionary or encyclopedia…

(it was the early 1980’s and this whole Internet thing was still emerging into it’s place in society at the time; these days I can often fall down the rabbit hole of Wikipedia or other online sources quite easily)

I won awards for composition, and even took part in some state wide Youth Writing Conferences.  Later on in Middle and High School I got involved in the Debate, Drama, and Forensics (informational speeches)  tournaments.  One of my two High-school letter’s was in DDF.   (the other was Theater…)

In my late teens I discovered Paganism, and given the old joke about Pagans being people of the Library, as opposed to being a people of the book, is it any wonder I was drawn to it?

I kept at it, writing poetry and amateur journalism here and there.  Then I started this blog, and briefly achieved the dream of being a professional writer… for a Pagan magazine that soon folded.

Around the same time the magazine folded, my first serious relationship…my first Partnership and the life I had moved across a continent to begin… crashed down around me.

Through out it all, I have collected, and kept in storage, a large collection of books; heck I still have some in boxes back in Alaska…

Now, recently through some twists of fate and a modest family inheritance, I am a home-owner.  I do not just have some book-shelves, I have a Library.   Books, and reading, and writing, have always been there in my life; the last few years they have been much more in the background.  But now I have a Library!!

I can walk up to my shelves and see the books of poetry and fiction and religion and spirituality and magick that have inspired and informed my life’s path and dreams.  I can leaf through many of my old notebooks and folders with fragments of my writings and poetry and recall that strange thrill that comes from communion with one’s Muse.  I can open some of them and smell the incense-smell of some of the book shops I used to frequent.

The Library, and the rest of the house, are still being put in order as day by day boxes are unpacked and our lives are sorted in the magical act of transforming this house into our home… but tonight I stretch my fingers and crack open the eggshell of my years long retreat from the written word to share these thoughts with you.

Peace,

Pax / Geoffrey

Wrestling with the evils of the world, and inside ourselves.

Dear Friends,

A few years ago I had a conversation with someone about injustice.  I made the point that here in the United States, the history lessons we receive often seem to take the attitude of “…But we dealt with it and moved on and are good…”  when talking about racism, sexism, and injustice of all sorts.

Unlike battles in some fantasy novel, there is NO final battle against evil.  The thing is that the nature of these tangled and painful evils, that lurk sometimes unseen or unrecognized in the world around us and in our hearts, is such that each individual and each generation must face them down.

This holds true not only of the larger evils of prejudice and injustice, but the more personal evils of fear and self-doubt.

The Gods demand excellence, whatever your path, and the world presents us with constant challenges to overcome.

Blessed be your Struggles and your Journey,

Pax

Where to turn?

Dear Friends,

The altar has been cleaned and rearranged and reconsecrated, an ancestor altar has been set up.  I am journalling in fits and starts, and engaging in my basic practices regularly.

I find myself wanting to write here, but at the same time I am …not afraid, but feeling uncomfortable with… the idea of opening myself up here again.

I think it comes from the fact while I was working and growing and developing as a blogger and writer here, other parts of my life were falling apart…I was at one and the same time running to the Divine and running away from life, lost on the road of my life’s journey.

It can be heartbreaking to realize that things have fallen apart.

Times like these often have me turning to the book “When Things Fall Apart” by Pema Chodron.  A collection of essays by that talented Buddhist Abbot and teacher.  At the same time I find myself lamenting the lack of books and guidance for the Contemporary Pagan.  It often seems like other more ‘mainstream’ religions have books and websites and resources to help guide their followers through the many rough and painful struggles in life.

At the same time, I can see that contemporary Paganism has these sorts of resources, just in different forms and places.  Websites, and blogs, and podcasts, festivals and workshops and our large and sometimes complicated tribes of Pagan fellow traveler’s.  The resources are there, but are trickier to categorize and find.  Many times the advice or guidance we need in the moment is interwoven with the writer’s observations of everyday life or the current dramatic scandal of the moment.

What do you think of these observations?

Peace and Blessings on your journey,

Pax

The Autumnal Equinox, and Returning to Life!

“Holy Mother in Whom we live, move, and have our being, Holy Father Who lives, moves and has being in every atom, every cell, and every soul, Help me to walk and work in Beauty and in Strength, Help me to exercise both Power and Compassion, Help me to remember Honor and Humility, Help me to do it all, guided by Mirth as well as Reverence, That I may be worthy of Thy Perfect Love and Perfect Trust, And that of Those around me. Blessed Be, So Mote It Be.”

Dear Friends, My thoughts, this Autumnal Equinox, are more on internal changes to my own life, rather than the larger changes in the world around me.  Although living in the subtropical wonderland that is Florida, for me at least, means that the changes in my own life are being mirrored in the world around me. I look at my journey the last few months and am reminded of something Mick Jagger said, “It’s all right to let yourself go, as long as you can get yourself back.”  I am on a road of returning to myself.  I am journaling regularly, and exercising.  I have been finding my old sense of humor and the urge and inspiration to write, here and elsewhere is returning to my heart and head once more.  I am engaging in various of my spiritual practices regularly. Grounding and Centering, Prayer, working with my Chakra’s and doing the Cleansing Life Force exercise; never-mind slowly starting back down the road to physical exercise. The irony of the Autumnal Equinox in Florida is that the End of Summer is actually when many of us in Florida start to stir once more from our climate controlled cars, houses, and work-places, and begin to go outside once more!   Escapes to the beach or the pool, become more extensive forays to parks and for some gardening.  The sweaty sweltering heat of Summer fades and the generally temperate warmth of Winter lures us into a greater connection with the world around us. Admittedly, with the occasional cold snap, or really cold night…I was so surprised to see houses with fire-places down here but every once in a while…. Now some of those observations are, I will freely admit, from the point of view of an all too sedentary former Alaskan with a work schedule that jumps and skips around like a sugared up small child! I am working on that, and on myself, and on my path REGULARLY once more.  So for this Holy Tide I share not only my daily prayer above, but also a song whose lyrics encapsulate some of my mood and attitude upon this turning of The Wheel. Blessed Be Your Journey, Pax http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YxaaGgTQYM