7 Things You Need for Transformation

Dragonfly image source: http://www.diviningdamoiselle.com/  Butterfly Image Source: http://www.mariabird.com/

 

So you want to change?  You want something different?

If your desire to change goes down to your core, if it has you wanting to smash all your good china, kick your boss in the shins while screaming, “I QUIT!” or get in your car and just drive, never to return, then you just might be ready for a transformation.

drivingaway

Driving Away Image Source: https://findingfaeries.wordpress.com/tag/vacation/

It’s no little thing.

Think about the examples; Butterflies, Dragonflies – going from something that crawls to something that flies and enduring almost complete annihilation of the former being.

Tadpoles;  changing the very element that sustains and holds you.

It’s dangerous.  It’s radical.  It takes a very particular frame of mind and set of guts. It takes everything you’ve got.

So here are 7 ingredients needed to help you transform.  The order is not always the same and the magnitude of each may vary, but all of these things (and probably more) are always required.

So here goes.  Hang on to that plate for a minute, resist the urge to kick the boss and put the car in park.  Maybe, just maybe, you can do this without totally destroying your life.

1.  Willingness

sad caterpillar
Sad Caterpillar Image Source:  http://www.zazzle.com/sad+crying+weeping+stickers

The desire or willingness to transform usually comes from some form of dissatisfaction with “What Is”.  Sometimes it can be triggered by an event. Or it can happen sort of spontaneously.  See my previous blog, “Spontaneous Initiation” for more on that.

Or… if you can grasp an understanding of the process, you can choose to go through a transformation to change some aspect of your life that is not currently working well.

Please NOTE!  You can choose to go through it, but you cannot choose all of the steps along the way.  Real transformation involves confronting the unknown as you will see below.  So a willingness to suffer, to delve, to work hard is necessary.  Whether this happens because you are just so sick of “What Is”, or whether it begins by choice, the work and pain cannot be avoided.

2.  Courage

alien atmosphere

Alien Atmosphere Image Source:  http://www.messagetoeagle.com/vcloudyweatherGJ1214b.php

Another thing about real transformation is that you can’t know the outcome, not entirely.  If you truly knew and understood the being that is on the other side of that miraculous change, then you would already BE that.  But going in, the transformed self that will emerge is a mystery.  The person you are before doesn’t take the same nourishment, may not even breathe the same air as that new being.  It’s like treading into an alien atmosphere without a space suit.  Bravery is needed!

3.  Descent/Darkness

dark scary cave
 Dark Scary Cave Image Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/119978777543128602/

Transformation requires darkness. It requires turning inward to the self and facing difficult truths. The butterfly folds itself into the chrysalis.  The dragonfly dwells down in the mud under the water for most of its early life.  This dwelling with the shadow self and taking a good hard look at “What Is” and “Why It Is”  is a necessary component for change.

And the darkness itself is part of why we see transformation as miraculous.  Rising  out of that darkness into such light is astounding to all who witness it.  (Hint: That’s why it’s worth it!)

4.  New Information

Transformation always requires the assimilation of a new truth.  This will almost undoubtedly conflict with some other deeply held belief you’ve had.  The old, deeply held belief may not even be conscious at the beginning.  (See above regarding descent and shadow work to uncover it.)

Then, once the two conflicting bits of information are discovered you who wish to transform, you who are deep in the mud, or encased in the chrysalis with your shadow must dwell there with both conflicting beliefs for a time.

 This causes dissonance.  Dissonance is VERY uncomfortable.  But this is such a crucial stage.  This is where the old you begins to dissolve and re-form into the new!

Two Wolves

This stage reminds me of the old Native American fable of the Two Wolves.  The grandfather is telling stories to the children, describing two wolves who struggle always inside of you.  One holds the truth and the light and one holds only falsehood and darkness and they fight viciously!  The children enquire – “Grandfather! Which wolf wins the fight?”

Grandfather answers, “The one you feed.”

Two Wolves Image Source: http://www.theapricity.com/forum/showthread.php?54225-The-Wolf-Appreciation-Thread/page14

This is something you may want to keep in mind while struggling through this transformation process.  Consciously look for proof of the new information and consciously decide to debunk the old at every turn.  This is how you’ll win out.

5.  Acceptance/Death

Can you embrace the belief that flight is possible for you?  Even if it means the destruction of the crawling you?   Transformation demands it!

Light breaking throughAt some point in this process the impending annihilation of the old you will rear up and strike a deep fear in your heart.  You have to let go of the old you BEFORE you know what the new you will actually be like.  You have to be willing to die to one life and emerge in a new one.  The more calm acceptance you can cultivate in your time in the darkness, the easier this transition will be.  Meditation and spiritual practice can help in this regard.  Take your time to nurture you while you’re down in the dark.  It’s the only way.

 

Light breaking through image source:  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/43276846389158178/

6.  Strength/Resurrection

A time will come when you have a sense that it is time to break out.  But depending on the depth of your transformation and the length of time spent in the mud, there is a danger that you’ll get trapped in the dark.

Breaking out of the old skin/shell/chrysalis takes a tremendous amount of power.  Collect yourself and remember that all that time in the dark has been building you up for this moment.  Be like this guy and just bust the hell out!

breaking-out-of-shell2

Breaking Out of Shell Image Source:  http://www.radianttransformation.com/archives/2010/12/got-bad-habits-here-are-8-steps-to-break-out-of-your-shell/

7.  Blinking Emergence into the Light and Lift-off!

You will blink and squint at the brightness after emerging. It’s only natural.  Time is needed to assess what you’ve become and to understand how this new life works.

Sustaining this new being, which went from the stillness and dark of breathing water and mud to the spectacular freedom of breathing the clear air and flying in the sunlight, is an important task.  It requires reflection, maintenance and vigilance to not fall back into old familiar depths.

Child Squinting Image Source: http://www.2020eyesite.com/laser-eye-center-blog/  Woman Shielding Image Source: http://batesvision.com/article/visiontips/

dragonfly

 

Take flight, you wonderful new and amazing being!  Rejoice in your success and keep it going!  Fly where you will – to find the next big challenge!

 

 

 

Dragonfly Image Source: http://cliparts.co/dragonfly-gif

And here’s a bonus for you, dear reader!  A Transformational trigger experience!  Do you see that beautiful blue butterfly photo at the top of the article?  That was taken by Maria Bird, Strategic Motivator.  She is hosting an amazing event at the end of this month called Transformational Hiking

Here’s the facebook event page.

If you are in New York – or anywhere near the Hudson Valley, I highly recommend this Mega-Workshop!

Transformational Hiking

 

I traveled to New York from Arizona to take it last year. Maria Bird , having experienced her own incredible transformation, is absolutely expert at conveying this important information in a way that is easily understood, exciting and motivating! There is so much knowledge and power packed into this experience (and all in such a beautiful and inspiring location!) you will end the day feeling exhilarated and ready to take on the world! Worth. Every. Penny! Call her immediately!

6 Elements – YES, 6! How and Why we Invoke them In Ritual

6 Elements – YES, 6!

How and Why We Invoke Them In Ritual

earth_air_fire_water_eyes

Image http://www.unique-design.net/library/element.html

Let’s begin with the four elements that everyone already knows about.

So, we witches cast a circle (or create sacred space) and we “Ward it”.  This means that we invoke protective energies in order to hold the space stable and to ward off unwanted entities that might be attracted to the bright between-the-world space that we’ve just created.

Many of us refer to this practice as “Calling the Quarters”.  The Quarters refer to the four cardinal directions and each direction represents one of the initial four elements to be invoked.  These serve as a protection, yes, but also as a foundation.

Think of them as four pillars…. Or even The Four Pillars (To Know; To Will; To Dare; To Keep Silent).  That could be a whole other article… Yay! Inspiration!

In addition to protection and foundation, each of the elements brings its own specific energies to help to power the magickal working or ritual.

Visualization

In any magickal working or witch’s ritual there is a lot of visualization goin on.  This is a talent which MUST be cultivated in order to be successful in your craft.

I have a friend who says that Wicca, in particular, is the religion of chatchkes.  He’s right!  We witches just LOOOOVE our “Things”!

We have the Athame or black-handled knife, wand, chalice mortar & pestle, censor, salt and water bowls, pentacle, boleen or white-handled knife, etc. etc. etc.

(Don’t forget to add crystals, the God and Goddess candle holders, plates and bowls for cakes and libations and general witchy altar decorations).  And each of those things represents an element as well, but that is yet ANOTHER article!   Believe me, when you’re a witch, you end up with a lot of stuff!

Witch altar

Image Source:  http://wiccanbeauty.com/wiccan-cleansing-rituals/

Ooh!  There’s another article; Dollar Stores, Yard sales, Home Goods and witchy supplies!

We love ALL of the STUFF!  But the truth is that any Witch worth her salt can perform a full ritual and/or magickal working without ANY of that!

It’s all in the visualization.  If you don’t believe that, then I don’t see how you can make magick.

So, in order to work with the elements we visualize them.  Some witches envision large guardian humanoid beings or even Archangels. Some have a different animal representing each quarter.

Gargoyle

Image Source:  http://www.cvltnation.com/beware-the-faithful-medieval-gargoyles/

In the four cardinal directions, I visualize Gargoyles, protective forces carved on buildings of old. They tend to resemble this fellow!  Yea… nothing’s getting through that.   I frequently wish I had a talent for drawing or painting so that I could show you what they look like in all of their splendor and awesome bigness!  Each one is made of their respective element.

You should choose what works for you!

We invoke them by facing in the appropriate cardinal direction, calling to those energies, guardians, watchtowers or what have you.  We name them, we honor them, we request their presence and we welcome them when they arrive.  As an example, the basic quarter call that I was taught, early on, comes from “A Witch’s Bible” by Janet and Stewart Farrar, and it goes like this:

“Guardians of the Watchtowers of the (direction), Ye Lords of (element), I do summon, stir and call you up, to witness this Rite and to Guard this circle.  Hail and Welcome!”

Likewise when we close circle, we recite a similar banishing incantation to release, thank and bid farewell.  The exact words used are not important.  The intention is what matters.

Most Witches certainly know about the four elements, of Air, Fire, Water and Earth.  And many know of the fifth; Spirit. So I’ll be sharing more briefly about these first five since you’ve likely heard about, used and experienced these energies already in your workings.

You’ve likely experienced the 6th as well, but without your conscious awareness.

So, I’m going to spend a bit more time discussing the 6th because you need it, witches!  More to come on that!

Elemental cover image

Image Source: https://allevents.in/saint-leu/dansons-le-cercle-de-vie-roue-de-m%C3%A9decine-chamanique-et-mouvement-libre/204843986559278

 

  • The Witch’s Element of Air

Cardinal Direction: East

Color: Yellow  (Sometimes white)

Alchemical Symbol:          Air

Image Source: http://altreligion.about.com/od/westernocculttradition/ig/Elemental-Symbols/

Platonic Solid: Octohedron      yellow octohedron

 

Image Source: https://grabcad.com/library/regular-octahedron

 

 

Pillar:  To Know

Air moves, carries seeds in its winds and transports things like pollen, spores, even heat.  It can be a light breeze through the trees or gale force winds.  Air is the element associated with transmission of information, language, communication, thought, memory, intelligence, bestowing and reception of wisdom and insight. In our working this will help to bring about our personal understanding of the work at hand. It will open the door for us to receive the teaching of the ritual, because magick, first and foremost, changes the practitioner.

 

  • The Witch’s Element of Fire

Cardinal Direction: South

Color: Red  (Sometimes orange)

Alchemical Symbol:       Fire

Image Source: http://altreligion.about.com/od/westernocculttradition/ig/Elemental-Symbols/

 

 

 

Platonic Solid:  Tetrahedron:    Red Tetrahedron

 

Image Source:  http://www.cutoutfoldup.com/816-tetrahedron.php

 

Pillar:  To Will

The element of Fire can be likened to the Hindu term “Shakti” or the power to act.  Fire consumes, lights, heats and cooks (think Alchemy and transformation).  It represents the passion and drive and determination that get you to your goals.  Whatever your working or spell, you will want these energies to be present in order to complete the necessary transformation.

 

  • The Witch’s Element of Water:

Cardinal Direction: West

Color: Blue

Alchemical Symbol:  Water

Image Source: http://altreligion.about.com/od/westernocculttradition/ig/Elemental-Symbols/

Platonic Solid: Icosahedron       Blue Icosahedron

Image Source:https://www.cgtrader.com/free-3d-models/architectural-details/other/icosahedron–2

Pillar:    To Dare

Water flows and moves in tune with its solid surroundings.  It will take the shape of the vessel which holds it.  Water can be a drop in a puddle sending out tiny ripples or it can be a grand force that carves canyons. It can be deep or shallow.  Water represents our emotions and our unconscious (that which lies beneath), mystery, inspiration and prophesy.  This is a deep well of power for the witch, which is why, when we call water, many of us also call the Lords of Death and Initiation.  The power of Water not only brings an unstoppable force (our unconscious) to the working, but also allows the practitioner to be malleable enough to accept the changes to come without losing herself.

 

  • The Witch’s Element of Earth:

Cardinal Direction: North

Color: Green (sometimes black)

Alchemical Symbol:     Earth

Image Source: http://altreligion.about.com/od/westernocculttradition/ig/Elemental-Symbols/

Platonic Solid: Cube       Green Cube

Image Source:  https://www.qualitylogoproducts.com/stress-balls/cube-stress-toy.htm

Pillar:   To Keep Silent

Earth is the element of solidity and all things tangible. Think of rocks, trees and literal earth.  It represents safety and security, stability and things taking shape (think diamonds!).  The idea of a spell or magickal working, for the most part, is to bring something out of nothing.  So think of the earth element as the Higgs Boson of the craft.  It give matter to your intent.

 

  • The Witch’s Element of Spirit:

Color: White (sometimes golden or violet)

Direction:  Straight UP.

Alchemical Symbol:       spirit

Image Source:  http://altreligion.about.com/od/westernocculttradition/ig/Elemental-Symbols/Spirit.htm

Platonic Solid: Dodecahedron       Crystal Dodecahedron

image source: http://www.ksccrystals.com/clear-quartz-dodecahedron-3-4495-p.asp

So, within our circle or in a magickal working, we invoke or call upon deity.  In this way we are asking for the cooperation of Spirit in our workings.  We may be working with a particular deity that is appropriate to our desired outcome or simply with “The Universe”.  But we are creating and creation is the realm of the gods.  Being in the company of other creators, improves our personal power and will for success!

And finally, 6) The Witch’s Element of Void:

I find it very interesting that a group of people who say they’re all about magick, and who presumably perform magick on a regular basis, I’ve encountered so few of you seem to have an awareness of  (and even fewer still acknowledge in ritual) the sixth element: Void.

pentacle

Image Source:  https://usahitman.com/symbols-world/

Take a look at this Pentacle.  Yes, it has the five points.  But you’ll note that the witch’s pentacle is not a solid, 5 pointed star within a circle (that’s more of a Sheriff’s symbol!).  It is a 5 pointed star drawn with open spaces.  The straight lines that form it cross over one another and form five negative spaces within the points.  Now look at the open or negative space pentagon in the center.  What does it represent?  That’s right. Void.

I’ve spoken about our magical workings being a form of creation.  And I’ve spoken about the elements lending their energies to bring something (your magickal intent) about.  Well, Void is what we create FROM.

big-bang

Image Source:  http://axiomamnesia.com/2014/10/17/episode-513-bangin-scientific-discoveries/

The Big Bang is a great example, because there was literally NOTHING – a dark formless void – and then – there was EVERYTHING.

That dark formless void was the necessary starting point because it is pure potentiality. In the void, anything is possible.

And that is the root of manifestation.  It is that liminal place of things to be.  It is THE proverbial cross-roads, where a decision is made and something comes into being.  In physics it’s known as the Implicate Order.

All the magic in the universe dwells in this place and your intention, your goal, your working is pulled FROM it!  And it utilizes all of those other elements with which you’ve surrounded yourself.

I recommend recognizing void in your circles and in your magickal workings.  It’s like the gunshot that starts the race. I tend to invoke Void’s energy right after invoking Deity.   There are a number of ways to do that.  A simple acknowledgment and awareness of the presence of void is a good start. You can use a black candle or an empty black vessel if you like, as a symbol.

But here’s my favorite invocation.   After I call in Deity and before I begin my working, I say, “I call upon the dark and formless void, the cross-roads of magick.  I stand in the place of pure potentiality to which my words and working give form.  As I decree it, so mote it be!”

You’re welcome.

Spontaneous Initiation

Way back when I was a little baby witchlet and a dedicant to be initiated into a coven, my teacher/ high priestess taught me about what she termed “spontaneous initiation”.  This is almost exactly like spontaneous human combustion, but different… I’ll explain.

spontaneous-combustion

[ Image Source:  http://vomedia.ca/10-cach-kho-tin-khien-con-nguoi-tu-vong/ ]

“Wait! Back up. Is being a dedicant like being a pledge to a sorority or fraternity?”

No, it’s much worse.  In addition to spending a year and a day being regularly embarrassed, made to do outrageously weird things, being stripped naked, tied up and flogged (only SORT OF joking), you also have to learn stuff.  A LOT of stuff (some of which I’ll share with you, dear reader in subsequent blogs!).

Now, back to Spontaneous Initiation.  First you’ll need to have a basic understanding of what initiation into a coven is like.  When you are initiated you are put through a ritual which is intended to symbolize the process of (i) struggle and awakening in the mundane realm of daily life, followed by (ii) descent into the unknown, (iii) spending a little time in the scary, depressing dark, a period many refer to as “the dark night of the soul”, (iv) further descent into death, then, (v) rebirth followed by (vi) vows and oaths of dedication and secrecy, amid (vii) threats of utter annihilation if said oaths are broken.  Sounds like fun, right??

Spontaneous Initiation is when all of the above sort of appears in your life seemingly without your asking for it.

“Wait! You mean all of that horrible initiation stuff just, like, HAPPENS? For REALZ??”

Yes. Well, maybe not the vows and oaths of secrecy, but all the other stuff, yes.  I’m going through one right now! (JOY!)

See this Tarot card right here?  This one?  With the big building cracking and crumbling and being struck by lightning… the one with the people jumping out of it?  This is the Initiation card.

Tower Marchetti

[ image source:  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/423056958723063415/]

What my high priestess taught me about this is that, sometimes, when you make a major decision with your whole mind, body and soul (for example the decision to join a coven, or perhaps to really work on integrating your shadow, or start a new business that is truly soul inspired), you become an “attractor” for situations that will put you through an initiation-like process.  The reason for this, as I understand it, is that, when we truly want to change, the part of us that is no longer serving the desired outcome, has to die, so that we can be rebirthed into that new life.

Or, the short version;

no_free_lunch_study-2

[Image Source:  http://economistjourneytolife.blogspot.com/2012/09/day-89-there-aint-no-such-thing-as-free.html]

Let me give you a real-life example. Me. Right now.

So, a couple of months back I began ramping up my magickal, witchy activities after a period of rest and renewal.  I started taking on new clients, teaching more classes and filling up my schedule with all sorts of fun things.  At the same time, I’ve been taking self improvement classes and delving deeply into my Shadow (ala Carl Jung).

And while I have done some of this kind of work before, I’m finding some new perspective and realizing that I’ve triggered my own spontaneous initiation.

Here are some of the things that have been “happening to me” lately.

My daughter brought up something that happened in her childhood that was particularly painful for her and revealed that she felt that something I did caused it and why.  We talked about it and I shed many tears and my heart hurt for days (still does, if I’m being honest), but it was a discussion that needed to take place.

rory lorelai

[image sourece:  http://gilmore_girls_rocks.tripod.com/1rant20.html ]  (and yes, my daughter and I do see ourselves as the Gilmore Girls)

I brought up a topic with my significant other that prompted another, extremely teary and scary conversation.  I’m not sure if this was a conversation that NEEDED to happen, but I felt like it was a departure from my usual “Keep it to yourself unless it’s immediately relevant” nature.  And maybe that departure is a good thing.  More openness in a relationship is good, right?  Right?  (It’s just, I still feel like I may have damaged a little piece of us, so I’m not sure.)

My dreams have become wildly vivid, deeply emotional, baffling and/or violent.  I wake up in various states of emotion every day and wonder WTF??

A couple of weeks ago, I was in a severe car accident.  I was driving 75 mph on a 6 lane highway. Someone hit my car, causing me to spin around into oncoming traffic and be struck, head-on, by another driver.  I was unhurt, miraculously.  So were all the other people involved.  The driver who hit me left the scene and has not been found.  My car was totaled (it was an older vehicle and did not have collision insurance).  Although I was unharmed, this incident has caused me some emotional trauma.  I had my first panic attack in years a few days after the accident.  I’m still a bit of a nervous wreck when I’m driving.  Oh, and I’m driving a new-to-me car. That’s the good news.  The bad news is that my financial situation at this time is such that I’ve done what I said I would never do again, that is, borrow money.

I’m struggling with various addictive behaviors which have really begun to BUG me and I realize I can no longer tolerate in myself.  This is known as battling inner demons.

battling demons

[image source: http://www.minority-review.com/wrath-of-the-titans-now-thats-much-better/chimera-wrath-of-the-titans-jpg_082314 ]

There is also this menopause thing happening.  My body fluctuates between the temperature of the sun (there’s that spontaneous human combustion thing again!) and Antarctic chill about every five minutes.  Generally speaking, I feel like I want to jump out of my skin all the time.  I can’t focus.  I’m having a hard time performing the duties of my day job (which is, of course, indispensible, now that I’ve incurred debt!) and I’m pretty much on the verge of tears at every moment of every day.  Fun!

I recognize this feeling.  It’s Spontaneous Initiation.  You see, back in January, I made a decision.  I decided to change my life.  I decided to finally, really work on some of the areas of my life that I’d denied and ignored for a long time. This is equivalent to looking defiantly at the universe with your chin out and uttering the words, “Bring it!”

Well, “IT” has been brought, and is possibly still coming.   It’s good for me, ultimately (yay!). Don’t you just love that word – Ultimately?  It means not now.  It means, for now, you suffer.

I’m grateful that my teacher imparted this knowledge to me.  At least I know that all of this isn’t random.  All of these emotional upheavals have a purpose.  And at the end, there will be a new me!  Reborn.

baby witch

[image source:  https://www.etsy.com/search?q=baby+witch+hat ]  (adorable baby witch’s hats available here!)

Maybe you recognize this process happening in your life?   If so, fear not.  It may feel like your soul is on fire and there will be nothing left but a few charred cinders.  It may feel like dying, but it’s not the end. I promise. It’s a new beginning.

Begin the journey_box2

[image source:  http://www.lighthousediscovery.com/Begin%20the%20jour.html ]

Remembering Thanksgivings Past

thanksgiving-dinner

My Mom was an awesome cook.  And we lived in a pretty big house when I was a kid.  She loved to host holidays and any party, really.  She would make everything perfect.  Mom always looked up new and trendy recipes and decorated thoughtfully.  Even the presentation of the food was special.  I was taught at a very young age the proper way to set a table.  Salad fork to soup spoon, water glass to wine goblet, I knew what went where and when to use them.  There were charger plates and napkin rings and table linens for every occasion.  Mom just made everything so special.  And the food was always ecstatically delicious!  She was Martha Stewart before there WAS a Martha Stewart!

fresh-thanksgiving-dinner-table-on-dining-room-with-family

I remember a Thanksgiving when I was about 8 years old, when I had pneumonia.  I was so disappointed that I just didn’t have enough energy or appetite to enjoy the festivities.  I made a mighty attempt, but in the end, I was relegated to my bed.  I couldn’t keep anything in my stomach and it was my saddest Thanksgiving.  But still, my family was around.  Mom brought me clear broth.  My Nana pressed a cool washcloth to my feverish forehead.  Pop-pop tried to make me laugh.  Uncle Al tried to sneak me some egg-nog, which I promptly threw up.  There was a lot of love.

As I grew older I was able to help in the kitchen and I learned how to cook like my Mom.  I enjoyed the elegance of the tables she set.  And sometimes the faces seated around the table would change.  Aunt Angie and Uncle Mike would sometimes join us along with various cousins, neighbors and friends.  Uncle Mike and I were born under the same astrological sign and he made that a point of solidarity between us.  We were the Aquarians of the family.  Aunt Angie brought a sweetness and a kind of charming humor to the table.  She and my Nana (her sister) were always sharing inside jokes and laughing together about things that seemed absolutely mystical and ancient to me.

pumpkin appetizers

There were some Thanksgiving adventures too.  One year our turkey, fully cooked, was stolen right out of our kitchen!  We ate pizza that year, with the usual Thanksgiving sides and there was a lot of laughter.  My mom actually sent out some positive thoughts to the person who may have been a simple teenage vandal or may have been a very hungry homeless person.  Either way, we had Thanksgiving and things for which to be thankful.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

As this year’s Thanksgiving approaches, I want to honor those I’ve named here.  Mom, Nana, Pop-pop, Uncle Al, Uncle Mike and Aunt Angie have all passed on.  I miss them.  But I am remembering them because I’m truly grateful that I had them in my life.  Happy Thanksgiving to all.

For Constance Anne Galletta-Martin; Faye (Fanny) Galletta; Dominick Joseph Galletta;  Alfred Galletta; Michael Scudero; Angelina Scudero

 

Winged Wanderer

Hello my lovely readers! I hope that you’ve been patient with me! It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, I know.

A while ago I began doing some volunteer work for this wonderful Organization in Phoenix called Fresh Start.

They offer many services for women’s empowerment, such as career coaching, legal assistance, counseling, training, self-esteem building. The women who work at this amazing foundation are dedicated and excited to be contributing to the betterment of their sisters. So, I knew I had to get involved somehow. Naturally, I dove in and took on several projects. Suddenly my calendar filled up. I’m mentoring a wonderful woman who is seeking to change her life and I’m teaching several workshops with an eye towards, empowerment and spiritual growth.

One of the workshops I taught recently is called “Transformational Storytelling”. This workshop is designed to take one’s life story, or a particularly challenging situation or event in one’s life and turn it into a faerie tale. The purpose of this exercise is to help the individual gain some emotional distance, as well as insight into the motives of all the characters of the story. It can also be very gratifying to see what was learned clearly by giving the story a moral. Even more powerful can be writing a happy ending to a situation which is still in flux. I was privileged to work with some very creative women in this recent workshop. There were stories and songs and pictures and much child-like wonder. There was a lovely bond shared, as it is whenever women share intimate details of their lives and support and encourage one another through their challenges. This has been the consistent atmosphere that I’ve found at Fresh Start and I’m so proud to be able to be a part of that!

So each time I teach this class, I write a new story of my own. We’re never done growing! And there is always something new to learn. So I go through the process with the ladies in my class. What follows is my most recent fairy tale. It’s a bit wordy..(what? YOU, Renee? Wordy? NO!) I hope you enjoy!

Winged Wanderer

pink fluff

A small pink fluff floated in the sunshine. It looked like a fluff of the sort upon which a child would make a wish as she blows on a dandelion. The fluff went turning and weaving through the air in a brilliant green field. It flew effortlessly toward the edge of the great, dark forest. It could be seen wafting into the shadows, occasionally set aglow by the rays of the sun that filtered through the canopy. The shadows began to swallow this tiny bit of flotsam as it delved deeper into the woods. It shone once more in the light and then vanished into the darkness.

green elf

Awhile later, deep in that very same wood, a plump and happy elf-ess lay sleeping and snoring in the hollow of her tree. A nearly empty bowl of berries sat by her bed and her smiling face was stained purple with the juices. Something tickled her nose and she awoke with a sneeze. As she sat up, a sudden, bright glow from the corner of her tree hollow caught her attention. As the light dimmed a rustling sound was heard and then a tiny voice, “Ep! Aggle! Goo!” it said!

Azzra (for that was the name of this elf-ess) stood up and went cautiously to the corner to investigate. Wide-eyed, she stared at the elfling that had appeared there. “Oh NO!”, she cried. “I’ve gone and sneezed out a baby! Oh, NO, Oh DEAR! What shall I DOOO?!”  She placed the elfling into a hollowed out gourd and brought it to the meeting grove.

“What’ve you got there, Azzra?” cried the over elves.

“I’ve gone and sneezed a wee one!” Azzra exclaimed, in a rather angry tone.

“Oh, NO! Azzra! Not YOU!” they said. Azzra was a bit irresponsible – even for an elf.

Azzra held out the gourd containing the little elfling as if offering the child. The others backed away, frightened. It was bad luck to raise the elfling of another.

“You have to take care of it, Azzra! You must!”, they told her.

Azzra’s distress was quite obvious. “But … but.. I’ve so much frolicking to dooo!” She whined and looked down at the elfling with concern.  Elves are not known for their parenting skills you see.

Two of the other elves, trying to help, asked what Azzra would name the little bundle. Azzra looked even more distressed.

One of them offered, “Call it Al! That’ll work!”

Azzra looked closely at the elfling and said, “NO! it’s a girl!”

Another elf burst out, “Eta! Call her Eta!”

Azzra thought for a moment and said softly, “Aleta”. (Somehow it sounded familiar as though it had been whispered to her while she slept.) “Aleta, that’s her name!” And finally she smiled. And so did Aleta.
Azzra took Aleta home, resigned to taking care of the little elfling.

baby elf

But after a few days, the task proved too difficult for her. “How is one supposed to survive for SOOO long without Frolicking?!” She made a decision. There was a human couple who lived at the edge of the forest. So Azzra conjured a glamour on Aleta. Azzra breathed a pinkish hue over Aleta’s green little body to resemble the skin of the human couple. She waived her hands over Aleta’s ears and hands and feet to make the points and claws less noticeable (especially to humans). Then Azzra placed the wee one in a basket suitable for carrying human babies. But then Aleta looked so tiny! So Azzra summoned all of her power to puff the little elfling bigger, until she almost filled the basket. The elf-ess called it good and stealthily placed the basket on the porch of the human couple, and turned to go back into the woods. She looked back once to see the delighted look on the face of the lady who opened the door and felt satisfied and went off to frolic with her elfin friends.

basket baby
The human lady, upon finding Aleta’s basket WAS delighted. “Look at this beautiful pink baby!” she said to her husband. She’s so cute, and looks so pink and healthy. Surely someone wants us to raise this girl as our daughter, since we’ve no children of our own. The gods have blessed us!”

The husband looked down at the child and scoffed. “It doesn’t look that healthy to me! If the gods were good they’d have sent us a good strong boy instead of this useless ugly girl!”

The lady, whose name was Constance took the baby into her arms and cuddled her protectively, as if to shield the child from the harsh words. Then Constance saw that there was a leaf in the basket. The veins of the leaf appeared to spell out a word. For a moment the letters glowed golden against the green leaf. They spelled “Aleta” “That’s what I’ll call her”, thought Constance. “Aleta is a pretty name.”

Aleta had no memory of her elfin beginnings, but she did know she was different. Aleta would crawl into Constance’s lap and look at her mother’s lovely, pale pink skin and wonder why her own always seemed a little greenish. She loved to tell her mother “secrets”. Mostly, they were whispered nonsense and babble. What Aleta REALLY wanted was to look at Constance’s beautiful, small, round ears. When she looked at her own ears in the mirror they always seemed so big and pointy. Aleta just felt different. But she knew her mother loved her, in spite of her weirdness… and maybe even because of it.

But whenever her father caught her looking in the mirror he would twist her long thin fingers until they cracked loudly. He would stomp on her long thin toes until they were bloody. And he would pinch at her greenish skin until it was bruised purple and blue. Then he would leave Aleta on the ground, crying and tell her to stop looking at her ugly reflection. He told her that she didn’t belong. After her father went away, Aleta would run to her bed, where she’d built a little cave of curtains and she would hide and cry and feel all alone. Alone.. and ashamed of what she was… ugly… different.

sad elf

Soon Aleta went to school and met other children. They were just as cruel as her father – maybe worse. You see, glamours don’t work as well on children as they do on grown-ups. They were better able to see her true nature, her green skin, pointy features. And they called her Troll. Little did they know that they had the creature completely wrong! If they had dared to mock an actual Troll, there would be many little children bones collecting under bridges!
Aleta would come home crying more days than not. She would retreat to her curtain cave and wish so hard… wish SO Hard that she would change! She didn’t quite know what to change TO, just “ CHANGE, PLEASE!” she wished… “to ANYTHING else!”

curtain cave
When Constance discovered that her husband was hurting Aleta, she made him leave the home forever, so Aleta knew that her mother loved her and wanted to protect her. But afterwards, her mother seemed different and unhappy and had less time to be with Aleta. She would no longer let her whisper her sectrets and she was away from the home more and more.

Aleta was spending more and more time in her cave of curtains, wishing for change. Then one morning she did notice a change. Her body was covered in a light layer of pink fur! The pink fur contrasted against her greenish skin, making it all the more noticeable! “Oh, NO!” This was not the change she wanted! Now, feeling even more freakish, she simply covered herself up as much as possible, feeling more and more ashamed and still wishing for a different life.

Then one day, Constance brought home another man. At first the man was very nice to Aleta, and she liked him. Aleta was becoming a young lady now, and understood that her mother was lonely, so she was happy for Constance.
The man would always compliment Aleta and bring her little gifts, more so than he did for her mother. He said he wanted to be her friend. And Aleta’s mother was happy to see someone treating her daughter well.

But the man had a secret. He was a scientist from a nearby laboratory! Now, not all scientists are mean or bad, but this one was cold and evil. He didn’t care about elves OR people, he just wanted to be famous for proving that elves really exist. And he had his suspicions about Aleta. He’d heard the stories of what the school children had seen.

By this time Aleta’s pink fur had grown into a long thick coat, that she was constantly trying to hide with more and more clothing. And one day, when she was looking disgustedly at her fur in her mirror, getting ready to cover up, the scientist burst into the room and saw! And in that moment the glamour faltered and the scientist saw Aleta the ELF! He violently grabbed her and wrestled her to the ground. Constance heard Aleta’s cries and came running, but the scientist hit her so hard that she crumpled to the floor in a heap. This angered Aleta so much that instead of trying to escape she attacked the scientist, teeth and claws flying. But he was too big and strong and he forced her down on the ground and tied her there. He wanted samples from a real elf for his experiments, so he cruelly pulled out chunks of her pink fur. He cut off the tip of one of her pointy ears and took her small clawed toe! All the while Aleta screamed and cried.

cut ear

The scientist finally left and Aleta cried and tended her wounds for days and days. Her mother got better but was not the same. As Aleta healed, her fur was growing back quickly, thicker and longer than before! She was horrified! But somehow also felt that the fur covering her body was protecting her in a way… pulling her away from the world she knew. She guessed maybe this was the change that she had prayed for.

Aleta and her mother were both so sad, and she knew that her mother became sadder every time she looked at her. So she decided to leave and go alone into the forest. She still didn’t know what she was. What Aleta did know was that she didn’t belong in that home any longer.

sad forest

So into the woods Aleta trekked. She wandered for a long time. She wandered without hope in the darkness of the forest. She didn’t care what happened to her now. Her fur had grown long and full and covered her whole body. Only her green face and green, pointy ears were visible now and Aleta just didn’t care. As she went through the forest, day after day, week after week, twigs and leaves became stuck in her fur. It dragged on the ground and became very dirty and picked up pebbles and insects. Tangles and mats began to appear in the fur and it lost its shine and was so filthy that it began to look more brown than pink. She looked down at herself with disgust and shame. Whenever another woodland creature was near, Aleta would hide and she wondered how she could feel so ashamed but also not care at the same time. In fact, she cared so little that she actually forgot her own name. Finally, she found a cave that reminded her of the curtain cave she’d built as a child. She decided to stay there.

cave of curtains

She didn’t need a bed on the cold, hard rocks, because her fur was so thick it cushioned and protected her. Aleta laid down and went to sleep, hoping that she would not wake up.

But she did wake up. And there was someone (something?) standing in her cave, looking at her. Aleta started and sat up. Staring at her, wide-eyed was an old elf-ess. Aleta couldn’t believe her eyes. This lady looked the way she had looked before the fur. Could this be what she was? But this lady had no fur, only green skin and pointy ears. The elf-ess blinked and touched Aleta’s fur in disbelief. Aleta flinched and pulled away.

“Oh, I don’t mean to hurt you! I’m a nice elf… the frolicking kind!” She smiled. “It’s just, this fur… don’t you think it could be soooo pretty if you … you know did something with it?”

Yes, this elf-ess was Azzra, from Aleta’s long ago, but neither one recognized the other. Aleta stayed quiet and wary but let the elf-ess stay. And Azzra began to groom Aleta’s fur. She gently pulled out the twigs and leaves and bugs. She brushed and brushed to take out the tangles and mats. Azzra would go off to frolic from time to time, but she kept returning to work on Aleta’s fur. And after a time, when Azzra was gone, sometimes Aleta would continue and brush and groom her fur herself.
One day Azzra coaxed Aleta out of the cave to the stream to wash. When they returned to the cave and Aleta looked at her reflection in a puddle, she smiled for the first time in forever.

Azzra said… “See? You’re beautiful!” “What is your name?”

Aleta’s smile faltered, “I don’t know!” Azzra was disappointed, but then brightened and said, “I’ll call you pinky for now, dear… but names are important, they all have meanings, you know. I’ve learned a lot about names over the years.” She looked off wistfully into the distance for a moment, and Aleta thought there was something sad in that look. “Anyway, I bet that when we get your fur looking all beautiful and shiny and perfect, I bet THEN, you will remember your name. And I bet it’s really pretty too!”

unicorn                       mirror

So they continued, each day to groom the fur a little more. The pretty pink color returned, and as the tangles went away, the shine returned. Aleta ventured out of the cave more and more and met other creatures in the forest. A unicorn offered some hair from its tail for Aleta to make a brush. The brownies scavenged a real mirror from the people world and brought it to her. The chipmunks would bring her flowers to put in her hair.

And one day, something magical happened as Aleta gazed into her mirror and brushed her long, luxurious fur, and tucked a lovely purple flower by her ear. She looked at herself and loved, truly loved her reflection for the first time ever. She gazed into the mirror and saw only the most beautiful, unique, pink furred creature there ever was. And then, she remembered her name. She whispered “Aleta”. And Azzra said, “What’s that dear?”

“ALETA!”, she said, “That’s my name! You were right! I remember!”

Azzra looked in shock at this pink furred creature that was once her very own elfling… and then, she understood.

She gasped and her eyes went wide and a bright smile crossed her face. She grabbed Aleta. “My dear child! Oh, now I get it! I didn’t sneeze you, as elves sneeze out their young! You came to me on the breeze! You arrived through the open window on the whisps of the air and landed in the corner of my tree hollow!”

While all this babbling was going on, Aleta just stared, confused and shocked. But Azzra continued.

“You’re not a human, my dear. And you’re not an elf either!”  She turned Aleta towards the mirror again. “Look at your fur! It’s starting to glow and sparkle and raise up!”

Aleta looked, and it was true. The fur was starting to rise up like some static charge was lifting it to the air. And it was sparkling AND glowing. And as this happened, her tiny body was revealed underneath. Aleta thought it was the most beautiful vision she had ever seen and again, her love flowed to herself. And in that moment, the fur swirled and blurred and started to come together. Colors, so many colors, started to infuse the fur as it fused together and suddenly it all collected at her back and formed into WINGS!

Azra said, “Aleta, I told you names were important! Aleta, my darling, means Winged Wanderer! You were a tiny fluff, that floated into my window, and I mistook you for my own elfin child. And then I gave to you humans, and you mistook yourself for human, but different. And now you know, my dear. Now you know!”She was a FAIRY! And she was beautiful beyond imagining! And she could fly! And oh, did she fly. In fact, she flew happily ever after.

The Beginning

winged wanderer fairy

My New Fitness Routine is Going Swimmingly!

swimmer1

A couple of months ago I began a new practice. I decided to form a habit of swimming laps each day. It has been a great journey. Instead of the old, reluctant, “Alright, I’ll go to the gym”, I now say, brightly, “I’m going for a swim!” Now, that may sound like I’m taking it easy, not pushing myself to my best health. In the end of May I began swimming laps, 50 laps each day. I vary the types of swim strokes for each lap. Freestyle is the most difficult for me. So, I include backstrokes, sidestrokes and breast strokes. (I read an article that said, “Even if you’re only doggie paddling, swimming can be effective.”) It was the best I could do at the time. My form was all over the place. I kept saying that by the end of the workout, I was basically just trying not to drown. After swimming just about every day for the last 60 days, I now swim 70 to 80 laps, with an increased number of freestyle strokes. I’ve added an underwater calisthenics routine to the end using the water resistance to make it more difficult. I have even increased the number of reps I do since beginning that. It sounds like I’m bragging… and I guess I am. I’m proud of myself, but I’m really not sure that I should be so proud. I’ve never found a regular workout to be so enjoyable. The reason that, at the beginning of this paragraph, I referred to it as a “practice”, as I do my spiritual practice, is that it has now become a part of that. So what follows is a typical swim for me, in poetic form. Who is fortunate enough to have a workout that sparks poetry? Well, just me, as far as I know. So here it is.

 

Lap #1 – I’m thinking, “ow, my shoulders hurt and I can barely breathe! I’ll be lucky to make it to 25 laps.

Lap #5 – Ok, this is getting better.

Lap #6 – is a rest lap, backstroke, my face is out of the water. I can breathe;

Lap #10 – powerful freestyle lap, look at me go!

Lap #15 – Oh, no, another freestyle lap… 30 laps today… that’s it… tops!

Lap #25 – Rythm – Yes! I will reach my goal;

kidswimmer

Lap #27 – 7’s and 2’s are breaststroke laps, I improve my form, focus on the muscles moving;

Lap #30 – 10’s, 5’s and now 8’s and 9’s are all freestyle. A feeling of accomplishment comes in.

Lap #35 – Thank the gods the next lap is a backstroke!

Lap #41 – 1’s are always backstrokes, rest, breathe after the three consecutive freestyle laps you’ve just completed.

Lap #42 – Breaststroke. 42 reminds me of “the meaning of life”, and suddenly, everything’s zen. The water passing over my skin feels like silk. I notice the reflection of the rippling water casting flickering light on the sides of the pool. I hear the sound of my limbs moving through the pool from under the surface of the water. As I breathe, sometimes a little water comes into my mouth and I can tasted the chlorine. I spit out with the exhale and form a small rainbow in the sun with the spray. A bee buzzes by and I ask him, politely, to “Please, leave me bee”, as I simultaneously notice the smell of the nearby flowers, all while still performing my perfect form breaststroke.

water reflect

Lap #50 – this is how many I used to do. Piece of cake!

Lap #70 – Apparently “runner’s high” is not exclusive to runners. It’s 100 degrees outside and I’m suddenly feeling a chill, a tingle.

Lap #71 – and now I’m on a breaststroke again. Breathe, move, feel, flex muscles and a beautiful mermaid swims beneath me, facing me, smiling and glowing.

mermaid

Lap #79 – I realize the mermaid is me (my shadow). I smile.

Lap #80 – Triumph!

winning

Yea, this works for me.

 

Blessed be, readers!

 

What Thou Will

Will

I’ve always thought of myself as a person of considerable will. (I seem to remember my mother inferring as much when I was a child, as well).

I was still in my teens when I had an understanding that, whatever goal I set for myself, I could accomplish it, as long as my personal will was strong enough. I never experienced failure in things about which I truly cared. That’s still true.

So yes, I am a woman of considerable will. But what does “Will” mean, exactly. Like most ideological concepts, its definition has changed and evolved for me over the years.

At first it was simply the force behind a strong desire, and a certainty about an outcome. I could make things happen. Will translated desire into action. Action. Persistent, consistent, driven Action created the desired outcome.

In my late teens and early twenties I went through an unhealthy period of alcohol addiction. Upon realizing that I was no longer acting out of my own will but allowing my life to be ruled by the next drink, I developed a desire to rid myself of that burden. I discovered self help groups which convinced me (for awhile) that I was powerless. The reasoning behind that claim of powerlessness is to promote total abstention, which I still believe was totally necessary for me, at that time. But the group discussions continued to focus on that powerlessness, not only over alcohol, but over everything. Let me be clear. I believe, still, that those groups saved my life. I needed sobriety. And the process and philosophy helped me get there. But my evolution required me to come to my own conclusions about life, about personal power and about Will.

My spiritual journey led me to witchcraft, not before stopping to sup, for awhile, at the tables of many other faith systems. I had begun a regular meditation practice, so, naturally, Buddhism caught my attention. Hinduism still holds a very sacred space in my heart. And Taoism just makes a lot of damn sense!

But when I came to understand the reverence for Nature, the concept that everything is connected and the worship of the Divine Feminine which is prevalent in Wicca and paganism, I knew I had come home. (*for now).  And when I discovered the tenets (and the science) of Magick, I came full circle to my belief in my own personal will.

There was a phrase repeated more times than I can count in my Catholic upbringing, and in the Christian based support group I had joined to become sober;

“Thy Will, Not Mine, Be Done.”

That carries a powerful (no, strike that!) PowerLESS message. It says, “I have no say in this. I am submissive. I bow to the will of another and accept whatever that may be.”

I had done that long enough. It wasn’t working.

When Wicca and witchcraft and spellcraft caught my attention, I began to believe, once again, in my considerable personal will. My. Spells. Work.  Nothing gives you more confidence than success. I have changed things, bent reality, achieved my desires with the use of witchcraft (fueled by my personal will).

I am a person of considerable will, after all.

In my studies about The Craft, I became familiar with Aleistar Crowley. This man put forth the idea that we are all like stars of the universe. Stars. That our orbits, unless corrupted by outside forces, are perfect and harmonious. And our orbits are determined by our own will.

Do what thou wilt be the whole of the law.  Love is the law.  Love under will.

 

So how does Crowley define Will?

The following passages are from, “Liber II The Message of The Master Therion”, Crowley’s explanation/interpretation of his prime directive, occasionally quoting from his seminal work, “Liber Legis” or “The Book of The Law”.

“…Again: “Thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that and no other shall say nay. For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.”

Take this carefully; it seems to imply a theory that if every man and every woman did his and her will–the true will–there would be no clashing. “Every man and every woman is a star,” and each star moves in an appointed path without interference. There is plenty of room for all; it is only disorder that creates confusion.

From these considerations it should be clear that “Do what thou wilt” does not mean “Do what you like.” It is the apotheosis of Freedom; but it is also the strictest possible bond.

Do what thou wilt–then do nothing else. Let nothing deflect thee from that austere and holy task. Liberty is absolute to do thy will; but seek to do any other thing whatever, and instantly obstacles must arise. Every act that is not in definite course of that one orbit is erratic, an hindrance. Will must not be two, but one.

Note further that this will is not only to be pure, that is, single, as explained above, but also “unassuaged of purpose.” This strange phrase must give us pause. It may mean that any purpose in the will would damp it; clearly the “lust of result” is a thing from which it must be delivered.

But the phrase may also be interpreted as if it read “with purpose unassuaged”–i.e., with tireless energy. The conception is, therefore, of an eternal motion, infinite and unalterable. It is Nirvana, only dynamic instead of static–and this comes to the same thing in the end.

The obvious practical task of the magician is then to discover what his will really is, so that he may do it in this manner…

Thou must (1) Find out what is thy Will. (2) Do that Will with a) one-pointedness, (b) detachment, (c) peace.

Then, and then only, art thou in harmony with the Movement of Things, thy will part of, and therefore equal to, the Will of God. And since the will is but the dynamic aspect of the self, and since two different selves could not possess identical wills; then, if thy will be God’s will, Thou art That.”

……”Thou Art That” … oooh those lovely Hindu philosophies that are stimulated and awakened at that phrase!

It doesn’t mean “Do What You Like”. It means, “Find your Purpose.” (and by the way, you find this by following your bliss ala Joseph Campbell). And when you find your true calling, you must follow it to the exclusion of all else, to the point that others might call madness.

To quote Sharon Devlin, from her interview which appeared in Margot Adler’s, “Drawing Down The Moon”, when asked to paraphrase Crowley’s statements,

“If we were all doing what we REALLY wanted to do, we would do it in perfect harmony. … If you were what you could be the best, and if you did what you loved to do with all your might, you would create such light and such power that it would give pizazz to everybody in your immediate area, and even those distant, perhaps.”

So, Crowley’s idea of “Do What Thou Wilt” is no feel-good, new-age, love & light bathed path to enlightenment. It is a driven, maniacal, bash-your-head-against-the-wall, frenzied run for the end-zone.

And the fact is that once you’ve found what you’re supposed be doing in this realm of existence, you’d better do everything you can, every day, to reach your goal.  And I pray that you are a person of considerable will.

You’ll need it.

** (for now) – Next up for the blog… Why I’m open to changing my beliefs an any moment.