Prey For Me

Homing in on his presence as soon as I approached the driveway, my eyes remained focused on him. Perched on top of the arbor, he sat there like a sentry guarding my front door. I hit the button to access the garage, yet he remained, not the least bit wary of the noise the door made as it chugged open. Grabbing my teal Pierre Cardin duffel bag, I set it on the garage floor, went outside and prepared for a confrontation. The last time that my husband attempted to drive him off, he challenged with an attack posture, ready to stand his ground. However, my connection was familiar and he found no need to be aggressive with me.

“Beckwith” I began, “we’ve had this conversation before”. His flesh ripping talons wrapped firmly around the metal frame of the arbor as his sharp-sighted stare met and fixed on mine. We know each other well. He is one of my Nature Guides and our relationship is one of respect, however beyond the stance of the predator, is the underlying current of meeting an old and dear friend. Many times he has served to comfort me and give me that unwavering sense of knowing that his conspicuous presence always provides. My mind questions, and he is there with the answer. Some of those of like mind would call him an ‘omen’, but the love we have built over the years bonds us, and he is so much more.

This Witch knows well the ways of Nature. No ‘fluffy bunny’ notions of endless rainbows and joy filled frolicking through infinite meadows of wildflowers cloud my reality with their puffy white images of having everyone and everything ‘just get along’. My dear comrade was here to hunt.

The array of feeders in my yard attract a variety of Birds. All Squirrels have been named, ‘Samwise’ and they entertain with their aerial antics to climb the pole and feast. I don’t bother with feeders designed to keep them out or ‘baffle’ them with devices that serve only to make them more creative. Like all living things, they need to eat. They too, have lost their instinctive fear of this human and never go too far when I approach. Instead, they jump to nearby ‘Evelyn’, my white flowering crab tree, and meld with the branches in an attempt to appear as if they are not separate entities. Sometimes, flicking their bushy gray tails, they excitedly scamper about as I replenish the feeders with their favorite black oil sunflower seeds and shelled peanuts.

In the Summer they are joined by Chipmunks, all named ‘Alvin’, and Thirteen Striped Ground Squirrels, all named ‘Rocky’. My tiny charcoal gray Shrews, aptly named ‘Taylor’ in honor of the performance given by Elizabeth Taylor in her role in the movie, “The Taming of the Shrew”, often dart in and out of tunnels to clean up the fallen seed at the base of the pole. However, at this time in late November, they are all hidden beneath the snow in their carefully constructed burrows of frozen earth. For now, they are safe.

The Rabbits, each sharing the name of ‘Violet’, come to feed mostly at night, their black silhouettes beneath the pole appear motionless except for the swivel of long ears that serve as their radar. From time to time they will sense my presence as I watch them through the window and will sit up on their hind legs, sniffing the air. Even if they see me, they soon go back to searching for the unopened seeds that fell from the trays above. This year, I put out small bunches of dried grasses that I found in the pet store, sold for tame Rabbits. I’m hoping this will supplement their diet with greens that lay hidden beneath increasing measures of glistening snow. Not only will it make finding a ‘salad’ easier for them, it might also help preserve some of my plants that they uncover and munch on.

As much as I feel the loss of the wild things that respond to my dinner invitation, I know that I am also providing a place of ‘easy pickins’ for raptors such as this Hawk that now uses my arbor to his advantage. It’s the circle of things. Prey and predators, just as the Great Mother has planned it, all to create a balance. It’s only when humans feel the need to intervene that things go terribly awry. With their high powered rifles and clothes to ‘blend in’, they try to justify their thirst to kill something that they have deemed to be inferior. It’s not driven by the need to survive in the wild like this Coopers Hawk, who has the decency to appear in the open, visible to it’s quarry.

The argument of keeping the threat of over population in check fails miserably. Nature does that too. By allowing Her in Her infinite wisdom to prevail, the chain remains unbroken. But, soon the ignorant rule and the vigilantes go out and kill the natural predators that take down the sick, the old, and those that weaken the herds and flocks. Diseases are born of the desire to take the ‘trophies’.  As for the need for meat, how much is that per pound by the time one adds up the cost of the weapons, the ammunition, special clothes and gadgets? Then, there is the lodging for those urbanites who travel to the wild areas, the food and of course copious amounts of alcohol that are consumed. Is it a case of accidental deaths when hunters shoot each other or the otherwise sedentary die of heart attacks? Maybe it’s just Nature’s way of ‘thinning the herd’.

If they want to hunt as a ‘sport’, do so as it should be defined. A contest or game of skill between two equally armed opponents. Toss down the gun, chase your prey down on foot, and wrestle it to the ground. You win.

The loss of life that has taken place in my yard is evident by the occasional clumps of fur and feathers and blood spatters in the snow that prove that Beckwith has had a successful hunt. I’d rather that he not take advantage of the situation that arises as a result of my desire to give back to Nature by feeding and sheltering some of Her children. I tell him often, as I am telling him now, “not here, Beckwith”.  He honors my request and flies off the arbor to hunt in the fields. However, he would not be who he is if he didn’t search for an easy meal when his efforts in the wide open spaces have been fruitless. He would not risk his own life by venturing from the places that he feels safe and protected from this urban sprawl.

The strong, wary Birds will escape. The young, fast Rabbits will outrun him and the agile, cleaver Squirrels will hide with ease. They will survive as he will survive and the delicate balance will not be tipped by contrived and convoluted methods and notions of the folly of battling Nature. This is a game of skill that humans cannot win.

Get Out!!!

Outside my window there is a duvet cover of white snow spread over the lawn. The temperature is uncertain at this point, but my observance of plumage fluffed to maintain body heat of the birds who are enjoying their breakfast at my feeders indicates that it is somewhere between frigid and f’ing cold.

For this reason, people in my neck of the woods might tell me where to put my request while some of you may find it to be a glorious reason to stroll on the beach buffeted by balmy breezes. Either way, I am going to do it and assure you that if you do too, you will have something that will not only remind you of the experience, but will enhance your indoor living space in a way that only bringing something into it from the outside can.

I have all kinds of things that I have collected over the years that hold the energy of their place of origin and have blended very well. Representatives of the elements help to balance your living space and keep it and you grounded. Having them available for touch is especially nice when going outside to handle them in their environment might not be enjoyable.

The bundle of vines in the urn was given to me by a Sister of my Coven and has graced my home for a long time. I have given them a make-over at times by changing the silk foliage and the lights need replacing from time to time, but they still add their Magick by providing me with a ‘tree’. Having something from Nature to share its beauty in an unexpected place to have it is wonderful. The energy of the soil from which they grew is felt as well as the vines themselves that curve gracefully as a ‘hair do’ that may have been styled by the wind.

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So, out I go when I notice that my hydrangea blossoms are a lovely shade of Autumn bronze. They are still perfectly formed though shaking in the arctic blast. Brrrr. I took a pruner with me, but it wasn’t needed when I discovered that the stems were brittle and snapped off easily. I brought them in and added them to the base of vines in the urn.

Wow. They have added so much that I can’t imagine why I hadn’t filled that space between the silken wisteria and chartreuse spikey foliage before. A small silver gazing ball that had found itself homeless after the floor update is now nestled in a spot that reflects the hydrangeas. From Spring until now they have found a way to bring me pleasure and will continue to do so. When they were lime colored and sweetly scented in Summer I didn’t want to bring them in since the plant is fairly new and blossoms were sparse. The ones that remain out there provide a perch for the birds and help shelter them.

WP_000132The iron birdbath is also something I’ve had for years when I saw it and just had to have it. A birdbath that has never spent a single moment outside. It’s very heavy and takes up a bit of space that could be put to more practical use, but I just could never bring myself to put it in the yard.

A large figurine of a dove used to sit on its rim until Hmandu, my teenaged Cat, sent it airborne to the floor where it smashed into countable but non-repairable pieces. I thought about trying to find another bird to put there, but its layer of stones and 3 votive candle cups gave me an idea.

I added some crystals and stones with various properties, some feathers I had collected from outside, and some shells I had picked up years earlier from a coastal beach trip. I have items that correspond to Earth, Air, Fire and Water in the basin that I take the time to hold and feel their energy. This is particularly nice after a long stress filled day at work.

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Go on, get out there. No excuses. If I can freeze my tail going out to pick flowers you can venture forth to pick up a few pine cones, feathers, or stones or bring in some twigs and decorate them with tiny lights. A transplanted layer of moss can carpet a terrarium or a vessel of beach sand can have you feeling the surf as you tip it from side to side. Let their energy flow as you mindfully blend these gifts of Nature into your Magickal space.

So, what did you find?

N R G

Energy. We crave it like a drug and take drugs to give us more of it. We consume copious amounts of stimulants to give us more of it and eat foods reported to sustain it. A generation of energy junkies who can’t get enough…because there is never enough. We find ways to sleep less so we can do more. In order to do more we need the energy to keep it all going…and going, and going.

Caffeine inspired jokes and witticisms adorn coffee cups that have enabled us to laugh about what lengths we will go to in order to consume the contents of our cups. Many cups come with warnings to those who’d even consider keeping us from what’s inside. Remember those artsy cup holders that used to sit on our counter tops to hold our collection of cups? An invitation to pick one and enjoy a relaxing cup o’ Joe. Is it any wonder they now sit on shelves in thrift stores? The gargantuan vats that pass for cups these days would never fit on those dainty structures.

And what ever happened to coffee as we knew it when we first took a sip of the bitter brew? Maxwell House, with its promise to be good to the last drop, Mrs. Olson with her Scandinavian accent and tightly braided bun that had us suddenly wanting a cinnamon roll and that woodsy looking sturdy woman who was willing to wager her canine companion that MJB was the best coffee we’d ever taste. As far as I’m concerned, that woman owes me a dog. Not only do we have designer coffee, but we can grind it ourselves in the store, or buy our own grinders and if that’s not fresh enough we can buy ‘brewing stations’ that will grind the stuff seconds before the hot water even thinks about coming in contact with it. And then there’s the type of grind. Is fine too fine?

We’ve even designed our own ‘coffee etiquette’. You can’t just go into a coffee shop and order a cup without being well versed in coffee lingo. The style, the size, the array of additives all have us fearing ordering it ‘wrong’. After all, who wants to appear to be a coffee newbie. You want to look cool when ordering your cool beans which involves not standing there gawking at the menu board. No, you want to stroll in and blend in as easily as the cream in your mucho mocha latté ya ya. Word from the wise…research this and practice first if you are serious about not appearing to be a ‘virgin’. Wearing sunglasses won’t add to your mystique..it’ll just make you look obvious.

If the bodacious bean is not our usual poison, there’s those cans of stuff with names that sound as if they intend to end our fatigue once and for all. What’s in them, I don’t know, but my husband’s cardiologist informed him that if he would like to find himself on a gurney or a slab, just drink one. I think it probably goes beyond sugar and caffeine in some of them and ventures into the world of herbs. Being a practitioner of the Craft, I respect herbs and am well versed in what some of them are capable of. I’m not about to start ingesting unstandardized herbal elixirs any more than I’m going to ask my pharmacist if I can slip behind the counter where the pills are kept and take all the pretty ones.

Then, after we are wired all day and have accomplished more than we ever could unaided by ‘foolaid’ we bolt out of the office only to discover that having pupils the size of dinner plates is a mite uncomfortable when we hit the streets. If the glare doesn’t sear our retinas, the hustle and bustle gives us a visual that mimics what a bee sees.

So, what do we do when we need to relax and can actually stop running and doing? Our motto is, “it’s happy hour somewhere”. And every where. Not only is drinking acceptable, it’s downright upright. You can’t even find ideas for cooking brunches, lunches and dinners without a recipe for the perfect ‘go with’ cocktail. And, now, that we’ve been flying high all day we finally need to land and a bar stool is as good a place as any. Even with our ‘0’ visibly handicap, we can find a pub with as many kinds of alcoholic beverages as there were bean squeezins in the coffee shop. However, many bars don’t have menu boards so we’re on our own. The best recourse is to be as knowledgeable about booze as possible and this too, requires lots of practice.  If the bar has a ‘house drink’, go for it. Not only is it fun to invent a drink, the trial and error period is an adventure unto itself so if you’ve managed to see this to the end, chances are, it’s tasty.

Knowing the latest trendy cocktail and ordering that is a safe bet so do your homework. The humble ‘classic’ martini will no longer be slid in front of you unless you specify that and even that takes some know how. Gin, vodka, rocks, straight up, shaken not stirred, tossed in the air, put in a cement mixer or ‘just bruise the vermouth’, you gotta know these things. Tini’s and toonies come in every flavor and hue these days so just order one that matches your shirt and you can’t go wrong. If you opt for the ‘kitchen sink’ when it comes to garnishes, know that it will consist of anything that will normally fit down a garbage disposal. There are bloody Mary’s that can count as a full day’s minimum requirement of vegetables…and the lycopene in the tomato juice is so good for you. See, it’s a salad. That’s the story that has worked for me for years.

The question is, what are we doing to ourselves? Why do we have to live life at an accelerated pace that has us always looking beyond what we’re doing to get to the next thing, even though the thing that we’re currently doing was the thing we were looking forward to all the while we were doing the last thing. If we worked at making it fulfilling enough, we could just be into what we’re doing at the moment and appreciate it for what it is. Behold the power of now. Maybe we could if we weren’t so addicted to the adrenaline rush of it all and being hopped up on stuff that keeps it all going.

So, what’s wrong with being tired? Are we afraid of fatigue? It’s normal for our asses to be tired as well as our minds after a full day of working hard or playing hard. Humans get worn out and if it’s any consolation, even machines wear out and give it up. After every update has been installed, there’s still going to be a time when you have to just scrap it.

There’s nothing wrong with ambition and drive, but when we have to take stimulants to keep going and depressants to relax we need to reexamine our motives. Is it to stay ahead of the competition or do we create the competition by running in a race that has no finish line?  Let’s hope we figure it out before we all crash and burn.

Who’s That Lady?

Still maintaining your own individuality does not make you a bad mother any more than it does a bad wife. You were your own person, living your own destiny in this incarnation before you became a wife or a parent. You have your own purpose and that means you have something important to contribute to the world as an individual. You didn’t come into this life in those roles, they are just the ones you are filling at this time. You need to be your own person and do it in the unique style that is all your own. In all the world, you are the ONLY you. Don’t ever feel you need to morph into someone else to make anybody else happy.