Identity Crisis

We miss so much when we go through life needing the approval of others. We grow up learning to please our parents, our teachers, our friends. We learn that pleasing others gives us feedback that gives us pleasure so it becomes circular. The lines blur and we find that we have morphed into those we associate with. Soon we lose our individual identity and then feel the need to ‘discover’ ourselves. Many times the person we find is very different and that person doesn’t really have anything in common with those we had spent so much time with and previously considered to be ‘like us’. In reality we sacrificed our true selves on the alter of conformity.

Walking Their Walk

If you wanna look like you live like that…you’ve gotta live like that. No one gets buff sitting on their duff.

Groaning Pains

I prefer to think of myself as complex, or even complicated. Wearing either label sounds so much more glamorous in a bohemian kind of way than to say that I’m ‘difficult’. A Witch like me will sashay on the cat walk of life with it emblazoned on my chest, doing it all with unforgettable style.

The various complexities that complicate things can cause my logic to be mine and mine alone to the point that no one else can ever see things from my vantage point. Apparently, it seems to be so far out in orbit that the Hubble telescope can’t even find it much less home in on it. That being said, when I do what I feel is ‘sharing’ things, it has come to affectionately get referred to as my ‘rants’ by those that I ‘share’ with. Complex women tend to feel better when they are able to verbalize the things in their minds that others might consider to be space debris. Even if it is, it can’t just circumnavigate the universe without crashing and burning at some point in time so talking about it allows for a softer landing. My husband of almost 28 years is my ‘go to’ person when I need to be ‘grounded’. He puts things in perspective for me and most often keeps me from having to gnaw on my Vera Wang platform pumps when my version of things may prompt me to say what I’ll have to apologize for after the fact.

If you have seen the show, “American Horror Story: Coven” and Jessica Lange’s portrayal of “The Supreme” Witch, you might recognize me. That is why I consider myself so fortunate that there are people in my life who, have come to not only expect me to fly off the broom handle from time to time, they might even love me for it. After all, I keep our Coven interesting and when a Coven lasts as long as MoonShadow has…you need interesting.

Covens are families in every sense of the word and unless your blood is the consistency of water, you stand by each other through good times and the smattering of bad. Some members have known me since it all began in my living room in the early 90’s, but some are more recent. They don’t have the advantage of the certainty that, “she’ll get over it”, the way the founding Witches do. When my logic spins that yarn and knits it into a nasty, scratchy sweater, the urge to tear it off and throw it out has got to be irresistible, but they find it within themselves to just smooth it out and wear it anyway.

The odd, but beautiful thing is, that over time it softens and has the ability to become a favorite. It’s familiar, the color is complementary and it gets comfortable. It shows some signs of wear, but the repairs are done so well that no one can see them anymore and no one remembers how the snags got there or cares. The strands that bind us have been pulled tighter and they glow with a well worn shiny patina.

This Coven, this family, is a vital part of my life. If we just bobbed along the surface of nice, we would never know how to go deep and weather the storms. We’ve been tested many times. Relationships that forced us to learn to be more accepting, personal issues that taught us how to be committed to those not related by blood, things that made not helping someone something we never even considered. Then, there is my predictable propensity to misunderstand the perfectly understandable.

All in all, being part of a Coven makes a person grow in ways that other more mainstream groups don’t and can’t. Being on the fringes of what is considered tolerable, yet unacceptable, puts us on thorny common ground. When Witches are not being abhorred as evil we are being dismissed as flakes who personify roles that run the gamut from ridiculous buffoons to demonic. When the bright light of reality is cast our way, it usually categorizes us as tree hugging hippies who aren’t even organized enough to host a sit in. So, being social outcasts tends to help us form an instant bond, but when that bond is allowed to test its limits the real Magick happens.

I am so grateful that I have found my place among people who are capable of loving me since, as I have indicated, is no easy task. But, as I know so very well, the thing that may set a person apart by displaying traits that are diverse in the most unusual way, is the same thing that allows them to sense things that defy the normal senses. Given the choice, ‘weird’ wins every time.

Never surprised, but always amazed is the state that I find myself in most of the time. You’d think that by now the exclamation of, “OH WOW!!!” would not escape my lips as much as it does. The age and the experience thing has taught me that I’ll never be so old that I don’t want to experience even more. Growing beyond myself is something that I am constantly stretching to do. Thunderin’ tap dancin’ Christ, I love life!!! Even when it hurts.

Catalyst Converter

There comes a time when change is not only desirable, but necessary. Habitual patterns that lead no where or remain the obstacle that prevents us from achieving a goal can damage the ego to the point at which our self-esteem takes a major dive. Falling into that abyss can feel like something there is no climbing out of. But, what choice do we have really? There’s no place else to go but to seek the road that leads to recovery unless we’d rather hunker down and stay there the rest of our lives.

The use of Magick is one of those things that a Witch often uses for others, but hesitates to work with on their own behalf. I am not one of those. I wave my wand, twitch my nose, point my finger and stir my cauldron a lot. I see no reason to be the cobbler’s kid who has no shoes when I can conjure up the perfect pair.  Being a martyr never suited me and I find it to be a dismal trait in others. There is nothing self-less about denying ourselves and then talking about how much we do it. In fact, stroking the ego with a huge paw like that in the pretense of not having one to stroke is downright maniacal.

Saving something for special occasions often leads to regrets. Besides, what exactly puts an occasion in that category? I recall when my grandmother on my father’s side crossed over and  my mother was faced with going through her things. She had come to live with us several years prior to her passing and although I was a teenager,  it was fun to go shopping for her. The main item on the list was always a new sweater. After her death, there they were…at least six brand new sweaters with the tags still attached  in her dresser drawer. Meanwhile, the one she wore was always full of holes.

Magick should never be the unworn sweater. The crystal stemware that’s always an heirloom, but has never graced a table. The silver, too tarnished and cold to reflect the celebrations it could have been a part of. Magick is love in action. Directing it toward us is the most beautiful and glorious way to honor ourselves.

So, where is your Toad? Does it need to be driven from your garden or transformed with a Magickal kiss? What change can you bring about with the perfect spell? Would empowerment to make a change be the answer to what has hexed and vexed you for far too long? Set your alter, cast your circle and raise that cone of power and send it forth upon the winds of change. Do it for yourself. It’s the best way to do it for those who love you.

 

Blindsided By The Light

Perhaps I am just naïve or maybe expecting more from those who claim to promote Spirituality is expecting too much. When I sent an email to a local metaphysical store with a link to the radio show that I co-host, I did so with the best intentions. Our guest on the show that I mentioned is a well known author and Pagan advocate who stated during the interview that she likes to do book signings at the smaller metaphysical stores to show support for locally owned businesses.  The last thing that I expected was a curt, rude response.

I don’t go out of my way to provoke people into being rude to me so when I receive this kind of treatment I am a bit shocked, but also hurt. Every day I strive to be a better person, to be less judgmental and to live a more conscientious  life. It is for this reason that the Spiritual path that I follow called to me in the first place and the primary reason that I responded affirmatively. It seemed to be a perfect connection. My desire to live from my higher-self manifested by leading me to the Craft. That was over 20 years ago and as that connection deepens and becomes more steeped in what I value, the more I find that I love my life.

However, when those that I viewed as ‘kindred spirits’ and ‘of like mind’ treat me in a manner that is far removed from the proclamation of  acceptance and love and light that they frequently make, I have to wonder if we really are on the same vibrational frequency. When a person is  part of a group that is definitely considered to be a minority, the need to ‘network’ is very desperate.  Feelings of isolation are part of the deep sense of loneliness that I warn all of my students about. For some, it becomes too overwhelming and they find that they just aren’t meant for this solitary path. Even when we are part of a group that practices regularly, we are still represented by the miniscule slice on the mainstream pie chart .

I had no idea that reaching out to extend a hand in kinship and camaraderie would result in having it swatted away. This author would have welcomed a visit to their store to do a book signing and a talk as opposed to rejecting it because it was not one of the large chains and not worth her time. You don’t find that very often, so I wanted to make them aware of this as well as the release of her latest book. The link to our blog talk radio show would have allowed them to listen to the interview to get an understanding of her work. During the interview, the author also lists her contact information which would have saved them the hassle of having to look for it.

When I ran a retail business, the last thing I wanted to do was drive away potential customers, much less  someone who had been a patron for years. However, I’m not sure that I can bring myself to support them any more. Not only is it the fact that I don’t want to contribute monetarily, I simply don’t know if I can accept the other bill of goods that they sell.  The aspect of being ‘Spiritual’. Crystals, candles, incense and New Age books promoting the life style and philosophy of all that is kind and loving abound. The word ‘Namaste’ trips off smiling lips. Are these mere ‘trappings’ of the image or is it real?

That question will hang heavily on my mind and make me a bit hesitant to leave my solitary, comfortable den in search of that ray of pure white light that claims to shine in kinship. The klieg light may be bright as it sweeps the black eerie sky, but you can’t hope to walk on it and follow it up to the divine source it claims to originate from. If you do, you’ll find it was just an illusion…and you will fall.

 

What’s In Your Box?

We self-label and then become what’s in the box. But, we have the power to change the ingredients, put on a different label and become “new and improved”.

Who Do You Think You Are?

Is the answer different than when someone asks you to tell them about yourself? A lot of people describe themselves based upon the roles they fill in relation to others in their lives. I’m a mom, I’m a lawyer, I’m a factory worker, I’m a home owner, I’m a Democrat. What we do and what we have often becomes who we think that we are and that’s how we describe ourselves. But, in reality, we are so much more.

Most of the time, our beliefs don’t even enter into it. Some beliefs are very personal and we choose to keep them private, sharing them only with people we are close to and trust. However, when we attend certain community events or go to places associated with our spirituality, we are basically announcing our beliefs and that we share them with the others in attendance. When I was practicing a mainstream religion, my experience was that I did not necessarily share those beliefs. It was this that lead to my spiritual path as a Witch. I could no longer declare that I believed that there was only one true faith and that practitioners of others would be sentenced to an eternity in ‘hell’ unless they converted. I believe that all religions are true to those who believe them. As I frequently tell those who insist that all other religions are wrong and false and their ‘god’ doesn’t really exist, “if it wasn’t working for them, they wouldn’t keep doing it.”

Is who you ‘think’ you are congruent with your answer? Is your answer veiled in false humility because if you were to list all of the virtues you believe that you have, you would be considered vain and egotistical? Would saying that you think you are a wonderful, kind, conscientious being of light out of the realm of possibilities? If so, why should it be? I knew someone who told me he thought he was a jerk. Who am I to argue with Descartes? So, I didn’t. And neither did I offer him a rebuttal.

Take the time to answer this question. In your head is fine, but on paper is better and if you’re really dedicated to feeling amazing, do it verbally in front of a mirror. Avoid your career, your relationships and any labels that society might slap on you. This is a time to delve deep and uncover a secret or two. Do you think you are Batman?

Are you courageous enough to face things that might be less than stellar? Do you think you are insensitive or too judgmental? This exercise can help you realize things that you might want to work on, but resist the urge to go only there. Tip the meter in your favor by acknowledging all of the traits that you can feel good about so that you will have the ambition and drive to enhance them.

After all, I think Descartes was on to something.

Your Place, Your Space

It has long been my belief that your environment is a reflection of how you feel about yourself. After all, it is where you live and demonstrates how you live. This is your haven and refuge. A place set apart from the mundane and commonplace. It is from whence you leave to work and play and it is where you return for shelter and comfort, and yes, escape. Does your space reflect the love and respect that you have for yourself? One that says, “I deserve this. I deserve to live in beauty and harmony.” Or is it chaos and clutter. You don’t have to be rich to be clean.

Every apartment that I lived in no matter what the décor soon began to take on my personality. From Brady Bunch shag carpet to the outdated appliances, I changed what I could and found a way to incorporate what I couldn’t. Soon the personal touches of my Spiritual path could be found in every room and the voice of the Divine guided me and put me in alignment with the most awesome ‘finds’. Crystals, candles, pictures, and figurines of Crows, Owls and Hawks found their niches and the scent of incense had replaced the stench of stale cigarette smoke of previous renters. It became home, but like the homes of the nomads of this Earth, it was temporary, all of it was movable and would indeed move many times.

Building a house is an extraordinary experience. For the first time, we could choose everything from the faucets and lighting to the floor coverings. Fortunately, the builder had specific places under contract from which we were able to make these choices. That made things easier in that we didn’t have to run all over the city which was great because all of these stores showcased enough items to keep us more than busy selecting and then changing our minds. The chandelier in the foyer was probably the most memorable. After finally choosing what we wanted, I spotted one on the way to do the paperwork to put in the order. I stopped in my tracks and pointed…”That one”. This was after at least two hours of looking at every light in the place. “Are you sure?”, quarried the clerk and my husband. “Yes, that’s it”, I assured. It is the focal point of the foyer and I love it more every time I hit the switch and dim it to ‘just right’.

If there is a downside to building, it would be that everything is put in brand new at the same time and has a tendency to need replacing at the same time. This gets a bit ‘spendy’. So, you put off what you can and replace the things that drive you nuts. This was the case with the carpet.

It was a soft silver gray that I loved initially. Even though we never wear shoes indoors, with the Cat’s Technicolor ‘yawns’ and assorted spills, running my carpet cleaner on a regular basis was the only way to keep it acceptable. When we bought Cat food we would discuss getting flavors that ‘matched the carpet’. Fellow Cat people would give us a knowing nod. Salmon was definitely out unless you’re into pink residual spots no matter how much oxy you apply. Over the years it was stretched 3 times but soon a new ‘wrinkle’ would appear and no amount of furniture placement could hide the lumps. It had to go.

At first I thought tile in the foyer and wood in the great room, but soon decided that I no longer wanted that line of separation. I wanted it all to flow and provide a space that said ‘come on in’ instead of ‘wait here’. In addition to having the carpet in the great room, it was also in the hallway and master bedroom on the second level. We talked of doing wood in the kitchen as well which is lofted over the great room, but my first idea was to do that in tile. This is a future project since the stuff that’s in there is vinyl that looks like tile and is still in great shape. We decided on laminate because of the hardness factor and knowing that it would not have to be sanded and refinished in years to come plus we wanted a ‘floating’ floor.

When we spoke of getting the laminate installed, we were told how easy it would be to do it ourselves. Beyond replacing outdoor lighting and painting we are not exactly very knowledgeable, but are willing to learn. I was like a kid with a water canon when I got a nail gun to work on the lower level several years ago. Kathunk, kathunk, kathunk. I only hope we won’t need to pull all of those out in years to come. We have a table saw that we got to cut one board and a compound miter saw, neither of which has any bits of flesh clinging to the blades.

Some family and friends offered to ‘help’ with the floor project. This consisted of us waiting for instructions since they actually knew what they were doing. I did have the joy of ripping up the carpet. What fun!!! Did you know that sucker is tacked down with some nasty wooden strips and sharp pointy things? I guess I had assumed that gravity kept it there. The padding was stapled as well and when that was removed there was a layer of rough stuff that was none too comfortable on the knees.

We also discovered a sub floor under the vinyl in the foyer and the removal of that put us behind about 4 hours. Did you ever take a crowbar to your living space? Makes you euphoric and feel like vomiting at the same time like riding one of those roller coasters that inverts you in loops. That odd combination of joy and dread that would be less nerve wracking if done in someone else’s house. No wonder people like to ‘help’.

The new floor got put in with only a few snags like the odd wood trim around the fireplace. There is still a gap there that I am optimistic I can artfully disguise with the trim I got yesterday. Then, there was when our teenage feline, Hmandu, decided to tour the ductwork when the cold air return vent plate was off.

The upper level had to be completed two weeks later so I got to do all the prep myself, but it’s done now and I am not missing the carpet at all. The last vestiges of it remains on the stairs and they will get new carpet at a later date. It’s a bit flat, but lacks the bagginess so I can look at it without screaming.

Today is my target for getting my walk in closet put back together so I no longer have to recycle the same 5 outfits. It was a great opportunity to weed out and haul bags of purchases of clothing that became ‘what was I thinkings’ when they never saw the light of day. In the near future I get to play this game again when I have my new ‘closet system’ installed…this updating thing doesn’t snowball…it creates an avalanche. Oh well.

I also replaced the sofa in the great room and hauled the old one down to the pub and got rid of the junky one that was down there. If you’re gonna be a Bear, be a Grizzly as they say. So, it’s all a bit streamlined now and more open. The highest complement came from my daughter, the interior designer when she said, “your house looks much more awesome now”.

You really need to do this for yourself. Even just moving things around a bit can bring a sense of renewal that comes on the winds of change. Your place, your space, your way. Let it be quirky if that’s what you are. Touches of elegance have the ability to invoke the feeling of beauty and refinement after a long day in the ‘trenches’. Get a whistling kettle and let its song be the signal to get out a lovely china cup bought from a second hand store and allow it to reveal its history when you brew and sip.

You deserve to have a beautiful environment filled with a collection of beautiful things. No, we can’t take it with us and so many people downplay the importance of ‘things’, but what inspires and provides slices of joy is never overrated. Items of the past have us reliving the moments and provide us with a lineage that is tangible and can be touched as long as we outlive them. One of my favorite ‘things’ is a small collection of fossils. Not only do they carry their own history, they have now become a part of mine.

Filler Up

The worst part about eliminating something is the empty space left behind, especially when the void was created by removing something formerly enjoyed.  For me that ‘something’ was getting home from work and indulging in my own private ‘happy hour’. An icy cold martini and something to accompany it, because just as Hawkeye Pierce from the TV version of Mash said so eloquently, “What’s a drink without a nosh?”. Not only does a good drink have the ability to lessen your resolve when it comes to trying to drop a few pounds, it also stimulates your appetite, so dinner was consumed with gusto. As was dessert.

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A bit of brie with fresh figs and a smear of smoked salmon cream cheese with a topping of herring roe…yum

A couple of hours later,  my husband and I head down to the pub in our lower level to watch some pre-recorded shows on the big screen. The place is a cache of snack food items because when we entertain down there, we like to have an array of things for our guests to choose from. Assorted chips, crackers, pop corn, and candy can be found without having to look real hard so you can find yourself wrist deep in a bowl of chocolate covered raisins and never miss a single close encounter with a “River Monster” or search for “Big Foot”.  Of course, we also record anything remotely having to do with real pit smoked barbecue, or shows that feature a squad of chefs in search of the perfect food item. This inspires a sudden urge for a rack of ribs. Satisfying that takes a bit more preparation than ripping into a bag of ‘Cheezy Poofs” or we’d be firing up the smoker.  I salivate empathically while Wolfgang Puck chomps down on a pistachio macaron, and Wolfy and I create  a tandem chorus of ‘mmm-ing’ noises.

Glass empty, I duck behind the bar and toss more gin, icy and syrupy from the freezer, into the shaker with a thimble full of dry vermouth. I harpoon an olive or two, a pickled mushroom, and a ‘pub’ onion with a wooden skewer and artistically drape three spears of marinated asparagus over the rim of the vat sized martini glass and add the skewer of ‘veggies’. There, now it magickally transforms from a ‘drink’ into a ‘salad’.

Somewhere between my excavation of some sort of crumbs in the bottom of an empty bag and the downing of drink number two, I am beginning to crash. My husband asks if I’m asleep. “No, I always watch the scary parts of this show through my eyelids”. Since I get up at ‘obscene o’ clock’…(2:50 yes, AM) and work out from 3:30 until 4:00 (yes, AM)  eat breakfast, do my daily tarot card spread, and make myself ‘world ready’ to be to work by 6:00 AM, doing a face plant into the arm of the sofa at 7:30 PM is not unreasonable.

Unfortunately, I am too full of food that could easily pass for Styrofoam packing peanuts used to ship fragile items globally, and alcohol, to doze off once I get into a prone position. My stomach bulges uncomfortably which entices one of the Cats to pounce on it. I flip-flop more than most politicians, but trying to find my ‘sweet spot’ takes some maneuvering. However, after some time passes and an undetermined number of antacids have been consumed, I get to sleep.

A few hours later, I wake up so dehydrated that I find sand in my pajamas. Guzzling water like a Wildebeest at the last remaining puddle in Africa makes me uncomfortably full again. By now, I am wondering why I have allowed this to become a ‘habit’. You’d think that after the first time, something would click in my brain that would have derailed this train wreck behavior as soon as it left the station.

So, I have to trace back to the mind-set that made me a prime target for ‘the trigger’. I have discovered that if the mind-set is directed else where, ‘the trigger’ delivers a blank. However, there’s the void to contend with. I need to fill that with something that gives me as much or more pleasure than the old pattern delivered.

This was successful when I broke it down into components. Instead of eliminating ‘happy hour’, I simply restructured it. I made myself a tasty concoction of V8, carrot juice and a lemon slice garnish…yes, I know a double shot of chilled cucumber vodka added to this would have been delightful, but past experience has taught me something,… even if it took a while and several bottles of Tanqueray to figure it out.

The ‘nosh’ is now a healthy pile of crudité and dip. I go out onto the deck in my usual ‘happy hour’ spot, so the pleasure of being out there, enjoying Nature from my little loft still provides the relaxing atmosphere I needed in the first place. Added to the mix is a book or magazine having to do with beauty or fashion which instills a feeling of ‘diva-ness’.  I am loving and living this.

I’m beginning to feel in control.  This is nice because it reeks of success. Being rather content from the consumption of raw vegetation, I am able to push my plate away with several bites of food left behind and dessert becomes one square of damn fine, hand painted, chili sparked dark chocolate. Since I was never actually hungry when the TV ritual began, I am not compelled to grab any snack items. This, and the accompanying second cocktail was more habitual than filling a need for something to eat and drink.

The jar of chocolate covered raisins is inches from my hand, but the addition of another Cat in my lap causes me to busy it by stroking her luxurious, long smoky hued fur instead. Both of us are soon purring.