Fire at Midnight – Samhain Love in the Time of Climate Change

dogwood-fire-at-midnightThe seasons, they are a-changin’, to paraphrase wildly. I don’t just mean from summer to fall, these several weeks back.  The weather worldwide is different and it is beginning to make me wonder how to plan the seasonal observances that keep me anchored to this world I love.  The other night, I went out late to walk in the brisk breeze that was stripping golden and rose leaves — that darkling photo  is the rose-gold of the dogwood tree, almost bare now.

Of old, back in the 1990’s , we used to celebrate Beltane when the apple tree blossomed; and cross-year Samhain when we harvested apples at the first full moon in Scorpio.  This year, that full moon is mid-November and the deer harvested the apples – golden ripe – in mid-September!  Even then, at times, we laid the fire for Samhain at the new moon in Scorpio – as we will do this year’s new black moon.

But we feel late, out of synch.  My holy days, as a humanist who finds whatever fleeting signs of divinity there are in nature, have ever been built around the freshening spring rains and the leaf patter on autumnal windows.  This year, it is all a-kilter and I have no fire-pit.  In my over crowded half acre — the best place for a struggling Sequoia sapling was in the deep hallowed hole of the family fire pit where sabbat fires had burned for over 20 years.  So a small metal ring in a circle of chairs must suffice?

I tell myself, that as fires grow more rare – as even June’s Summer Solstice has been too hot and dry for fires in recent years – that I can do with a smaller fire.  No flames leaping twenty feet into the air come rain or shine!  I remind myself that urban witches and pagans make do with small cauldrons or candles.  I ask myself, severely, if I am a “good” pagan if I cannot acknowledge the suffering nature I see around myself by contenting myself with less?

gingk0So, into the golden dark we go here, like the wind whipped leaves of the golden gingko bonsai that sits not far from my manmade fire ring.  I plan my ritual of ending my ritual year — what goes into my fire to say goodbye, what I let go and what I will hold fast.  A dream in the night saw me at a feast with the divinities my family once chose as those they would most like to see as real — and I lifted a piece of golden honeycomb to my lips and bit it, honey running down my chin in such tactile fashion that it woke me!  So honeycomb will be sought and incorporated.

We will stand with fire-lit faces and open ourselves to hear our world, the human world and the natural world where we have wrought our havoc.  We will inquire into the nature of reality and spirit and strive to hear an answer from the winds around us and inside our own busy skulls.  And on the dawn, Monday, we will step into the season I call the “Fallows” to work towards the calendar’s New Year in earnest humility and inner searching.  This year, that Fallows holds within it a Presidential election and the fate of our nation and world.  And yes, that old superstitious brain stem of mine so wishes for flames leaping 20 or 30 feet into the midnight sky!

May you find blessings for yourself and your world in your own way, if this sabbat is one of yours.  And Blessed Beltane to those of you in the Southern Hemisphere who celebrate.  If not?  Well, Happy Halloween — and may the dead that are and those to be?  Have mercy upon us all!

Reclaimed! The Hexen Haus Awaits!

In 2001 my husband built an adorable house for my beekeeping, honey extraction, and candle-making.  We called it the Honey House.  (And in 2003, I built the Walk of the Fallen Labyrinth for those falling in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.)  But about eight years ago, my last hives died off from Colony Collapse.  And in 2011 my marriages nearly collapsed in a PTSD crisis.

First, I robbed the Honey House of its double propane ring so I could cook in my exile haven.  I had no will or energy for days in the cold Honey House; even in late 2014 when we put the gas ring back and I moved back to my house and celebrated my youngest son’s return home from the Army.

The roof lifted and leaked, black mold grew in the Honey House ceiling.  And worse, hobo spiders moved in!  In dismay I finally begged my sons’ aid.  Two weeks ago, we bombed the spiders and tore off the rotting roof.  We put in new roof boards and tar paper.  Today in October drizzle, my young “Raptor” and I put new roofing atop the rain repellent black cover.

Inside, I cleaned and started music!  And a new corner cabinet of venerable age was carried from the house – the container of my magic practice!  Herbs, salts, oils, ribbons, pins – potions, lotions!

A battered old metal flash hood, recrafted with pretty mythic calendar images during my long exile was brought out to illuminate the battered old table snatched from yard sale oblivion, I sit by its light warming my wet, chilled self with coffee!

Curtains are in the wash, dishes will be cleaned of bug bomb-ishness and returned to their place here.  Books are back on shelves.  The counting strands on the center stone of the Walk of the Fallen will be dried and brought in for the winter!

Oh, and yes – the “honey” is gone.  This is now, officially, the “Hexen Haus” – the Witch’s House!  Just in time for Samhain to end my year and the beginning of a season of renewal for me and the Minotaur!

Birthday Month -What She Would Wear

redriding-hood…if Little Red Riding Hood grew up to be a spy.  That is me, walking fast away from the photographer-husband, wearing my birthday present – a bright red trench coat with a voluminous hood.

In some ways, I was like Little Red Riding Hood.  I was always slipping off into the woods whenever I could and I was never afraid of meeting big bad wolves there.  I knew where they lived and it wasn’t the woods.  I always wondered why lecherous men got called “wolves” — they act far worse than any canine predator!

I did grow up to be a kind of spy.  I joined the Army and served behind the Berlin Wall using my hard-won Russian to delineate the threat from the Russians poised all around the city of West Berlin.  My military rain coat was a style of trench coat, too; but certainly not red.

This concludes my birthday month musings.  I’ve even bored myself!

Birthday Month – How Do We Age?

FullSizeRenderMy mother is 81 this year. I saw her last when she was 50. I look at myself in the mirror now, at 63 and it is her features I see in many essential ways. But when I wake in the morning and sit up to take my coffee cup from my husband, my mind’s eye does not see that image. I no longer see myself at age 23, when I was wed, either. I see and “feel” myself – oh, maybe 40? But lately, the last three years or so, I can feel something slipping into feeling oh so much older.

I notice it particularly on Fridays. Fridays are now when I most commonly walk the Labyrinth with names of men or women often younger than my youngest child. Sometimes, now, I walk it with no names in hand at all — I am trying to set a new habit, you see? Every day around 20 veterans suicide, I have no way to find their names to add to my bitter books. But I know they are gone and they deserve a walking.

I walk, singing, now amidst the fallen leaves and rusty pine needles. And I feel so very old. It is not, as one might think, the hurts to the body that alone age us. At 40 I had nerves dead of spinal injury and still felt young and hale, if in pain! In 2003, the year I built the Walk of the Fallen, I was 50 and I grew strong and muscular hefting big stones and digging soft soil lined trench.  I wore out several pair of heavy gloves.  I felt crazy hearing the air hum with voices of people who could not possibly have been there.

And then every week, several times a week, I took a cup and a list and walked – thinking for the nation that was busy “going shopping” or whatever else they were told to do to NOT think about the sons and daughters of the not rich 1% who make up the nations volunteer military.  Sons and daughters dying, bleeding, suffering, coming home in boxes, or in still-breathing pieces of what they used to be – before the war.  Sometimes, in the first three years, I came back into my own house, shivering even in summer, to collapse in exhaustion of a sort I’d never known.  But I kept going and got used to it – as used to it as one can.

But the war(s) are going on 15 years old with no end in sight.  The names are reduced in number because Afghanistan and Iraq are not done, although neither Presidential candidate mentions it — well, except for Trump blaming the twin wars George Bush began on Hillary Clinton.  So for the last couple years, onFridays in particular, I notice I feel very tired and aged from the second I open my eyes.  Yesterday I lingered till almost dark for the Friday walk, and then realized it was pouring a cold heavy rain.  So the walk waited till today.   And again, it seemed I’d need a set of jumper cables applied to get me moving.

I built the Walk in a fury, in heartbreak and in grief.  I wanted someone to care and practically nobody did.  Finally, within a few bitter months, I simply wanted to feel like the men and women whose names I cupped in my hands felt welcomed home, remembered — not so ignored as it seemed the general populace left them to be.  I was ashamed, not only of a President starting wars with no strategy to finish and get the military out, but of my nation for not caring that the blood of the military 1% was being spent so carelessly, thoughtlessly, heartlessly.  Fifteen years of war, with no real peace in sight.

What ages me?  The carelessness, the thoughtlessness, the heartlessness of my nation, that I carry in my shamed hands once a week.  The faces I saw in my sleep or in waking visions while treading sandstone age me — I’d happily have let slip my own cords to life to save one of them.  But that wasn’t my option.  I had no option.  Neither did they, “volunteer” military aside.  Education too costly, jobs too sparse — old men who send young men to wars they profit from, while none of their own dear ones go in harms way —  war and shame age me.

And looking at my world?  I am glad to be old instead of young.

Birthday Month – the I Can’t Even(s)

Keep pouringMy post yesterday didn’t happen.  I couldn’t sign into my blog.  Thank you WordPress for the aggravation.

Anyhow, as one ages, life reveals more, not fewer marvels. And yet, they are the wrong sorts of “marvels” — the kind that make you both shake your head and want to beat heads against walls or desktops! I am not alone in this; my eldest son -39 next birthday and a fine, bright college graduate shares my bafflement-to-the-point-of-desiring-to-slap-morons.

For instance, he works out much harder than I do. His nickname at his gym is “Thor.” We both work out for the same reason: in this world, physical strength and endurance are NECESSARY. Like a favorite pagan blogger, Thorn Coyle, has said — she works out and takes care of her physical self so she CAN fight for what matters to her. I got lasic surgery for the same reason — in some dire circumstance I simply could NOT be a too-blind-for-self help burden to others. I was accused of doing it for vanity, of course. And here is the part I don’t get — if it was for vanity, how is it I now wear reading glasses? Similarly with the physical conditioning. At my son’s college, he was constantly told he wasn’t physically fit, but “suffering from Adonis syndrome.” By people so out of shape and over a decade younger who got out of breath walking between classes. Now, is that some delusional behavior? So yeah, I can’t even understand that.

Likewise, some of the Trump voters who insist things are such a mess we need change? I ask them how a con-man, liar, groper-in-chief, (un)reality show host could possibly be the change we need? They don’t know. They admit, with 6 bankruptcies and no tax paying for decades, he isn’t “perfect”. Man, he is so FAR from perfect that he could ONLY be a change for the worse condition, not the better. So yeah, I can’t even understand that, either.

Many colleges are declaring themselves “safe zones.” Safe from what, you ask, since college sexual assault CERTAINLY doesn’t make the women on campus safe? Safe from being offended by someone else’s speech. So, if in the student union, my son tells a woman she just said something nonsensical, she is allowed to tell him he “said that because I am female and you are a misogynist.” Why is he a misogynist? Because he disagreed with a woman. Yep, there ya go, that’s all it takes — disagreeing with someone gets you branded a misogynist, a racist, a femi-nazi, a pagan, an atheist — you name it, and you ARE it as long as all you do is verbally disagree with whatever “ist” it is in opposition. What happened to the First Amendment? Or is this tacit surrender to the crew that only hails the 2nd as important? I will tell you, THAT particular line of reasoning could make it more likely for people to speak with guns instead of mouths. Not desirable, I promise you — and look, just like that, I am a “Nasty Woman” who wants to destroy the 2nd Amendment to some folks! So yeah, I can’t even grasp the value of telling tender little college students that they must be protected from every opposing idea in the world.

It reminds me of a teacher my kids had in 6th grade. She never corrected their grammar errors, saying she didn’t want their papers to look like a “pig had been slaughtered” — from all the red ink. I think red ink (and profanity at times) is a terrific tool of focusing attention on a problem! I told that teacher that her students were sure in for a shock when their job applications were returned red stamped as “too stupid to hire.”

I can’t even understand Christians (or other monotheists of the omni-god theory) either.  I get told to be “grateful” for “God’s Grace.”  As my sons say, “Say, what motherfucker?  This ain’t gods grace, this is my busting my ass, making my choices, and living BY them — for good or ill.”  If your “god” is so gracefully good, why are children dying in Aleppo?  Oh, that’s on US?  And “He” stands by so man can have “free will.”  Well, I know all the monotheists love the parenting metaphor for divine action.  I let my children have free will, right up to the point where their stupider choices might kill them — then I swooped in like an angry hawk, saved them and slapped their bottoms to teach them “Now, you won’t to do THAT again, will you?”   I have to say, any deity who claims to be all-knowing, all-powerful, AND all-good who doesn’t do the SAME? Is not worthy of the title, if you ask me!

I can’t even get that people waste time praying, when they might be better spending the time getting off their asses and/or knees, rolling up their sleeves and kicking some ass, taking some names, and getting some stuff DONE to change the world.

I can’t EVEN get that the “cool kids” and techie genius types are blithering on and on about going to Mars. If the amount of time and money spent on THAT shit was put into making THIS world livable, we wouldn’t fucking need to THINK about Mars. I don’t want to live in a dome on some dusty-assed red planet, thanks. This is NOT like “crossing the ocean blue in 1492” even if people who were idiots did think he’d sail off the planet edge, ok? Another world could so easily be inimical to human life — read the novel “Aurora”, or something! Yes, it is science fiction — not meant to be predictive, btw (tho’ it often is) but rather as engaging cautionary tale.  It is time to fix THIS world, this limited edition instead of thinking manifest destiny and pretty Star Trek episodes mean we can keep going “West, young man!”

I could go on, my list is long. People don’t think THROUGH things before they open their mouths. What one thinks, one says,; what one says, one does; what one does, one becomes — if this is true, well, I can’t EVEN imagine the future of my country and I am freaking glad I am old enough to not have to watch for much longer. Yes, I apologized to my children for birthing them into a world dumbing itself down faster by the minute!

Birthday Month – Driving Like An Old Lady – Not!

turbo vikingI dislike driving. Always have disliked it. But always lived where it was necessary.  Do I drive differently from in my youth?  No.  Not in major ways.

I drive just as fast.

I don’t drive a Cadillac, ever.

I don’t drive a mini-van, ever.

I love station wagons, still.

I don’t listen to music as much – only on very long trips.  This is because I live in a horrid traffic corridor and want to be totally paying attention in an undistracted fashion.

I also am a bit slow on take-off at green lights because red-light running is SO rife here and I don’t want to be t-boned.

Late Cat-alyzed Posting for Birthday Month

img_3478Yesterday began quite early and I never posted. But what I wanted to post about was how much of a difference animals have made in my life.  The title comes from an aggregate of two words I heard very frequently when my children were small.  I’d call them to some tasking and get the inarguable reply: “I can’t, I’m cat-paralyzed.

We always had cats.  And dogs.  Sometimes a goat, or seagull, or gerbils — or for 20 years, ferrets.  Anytime a pet was asleep in one’s lap?  You were effectively out of action till the nap ended — cats being the most nappable, it was “cat-alyzation”.  Yesterday I was effectively cat-alyzed.  The wee black beastie, Magpie, had her appointment to be spayed.  So worry over her all day, and collecting her home to lap-love her through the evening kept me from posting.

She looked so desolate in the carrier, and went dead silent.  You could see the little furry wheels in her head screeching to a halt with the thought, “Oh, no!  They are taking me back – I do NOT have a home like I thought!”  There is no explaining to a six month old kitty that it is a one day event and she will be home.  When we collected her at 1700?  No purr in greeting, just the same desolate little black huddle at the back of the carrier, not even looking at us.  Not until we got home and I had her out of the carrier in my arms and she recognized the front porch did she perk up a bit.  Then she heard the dogs inside the house and really perked up.

The dogs had sulked and whined all day, missing Magpie.  She likes them and they love her.  They greeted her rapturously, licking her face and wagging their tails off.  She was on the floor at once, cupping faces in her paws!  She was hungry and thirsty and still on pain meds, but purring like a top with joy to realize she was home!

In over 40 years of having pets, we’ve always had comments on how unusual our pets are; it baffles us to no end.  What people seem to mean is that our pets don’t act like stereotypes of their species.  I think this is because we let our pets be who and what they are; no this doesn’t mean they are untrained and rowdy beasts.  But we don’t insist on silly behaviors to amuse humans.  We don’t view pets as amusement, though they often do amuse us.  I view pets as a responsibility, rather like children are — only my pets can’t speak English to tell me what is right or wrong with them.  I taught my children that animals may not have human abilities, but that they do have emotions on par with our own and should be respected in that sense.

When our often dysfunctional family could agree on nothing else, we could agree on our pets — their needs often paramount even in serious arguments.  Our family was sometimes held together by nothing so much as the need to NOT abandon our four legged animals!  We’ve spayed and neutered ALL our pets, no pet of ours ever gave birth to teach my kids the alleged “wonder of life.”  The majority of our pets were rescues or strays we found roadside.

Not every rescue succeeded.  I re-homed a Great Pyr dog that simply was going insane due to his inability to get us all “herded” safely into ONE building.  We returned a fat, grouchy Samoyed that threatened other pets.  We euthanized a cat that couldn’t live outdoors due to some other asshole de-clawing her, and yet we couldn’t stop her peeing on everything in sight because she had grown up in a decrepit out-building that was rain and urine stained top to bottom.  My allergic response to cats goes nuts over the various proteins IN cat urine, so that was making me very ill.  But mostly, once a pet is here, they are here for life.  We care for them, and they care for us.

If this was the Middle Ages, Magpie would get me burnt alive — she sleeps curled around my neck!  So yay, for modern times!

Birthday Month – Older IS Wiser, Calmer

The last couple months I’ve had some of the relentless expenses of family life. We’ve had lots of car repairs, we’ve veterinarian bills, a roof that has to replaced on a small outbuilding – nothing extraordinary.  Still, I’ve been stressing.

But not now.  The typhoon leftovers missed us – but not others.  A giant tree, like the ones edging my yard, crushed a house a half hour south of us!  Now THAT is a problem.

Yes, with age you can put things in perspective better!  You can end your pity party and march on sooner, and that’s a good thing because there is less time to waste crying in your beer!

Between the Gusts – Once More With Less Feeling

I think…well, I think I’m sick of sexism and sexual abuse.

herlander-walking

There has been much unfortunately necessary discussion of sexual assault as an enduringly common denominator in feminine lives.  I’ve discussed it myself, sharing the odd story or two.  My title, referring to the blustery storm making electricity a possible non-option at any moment.  Also refers to how with every discussion — verbal or written, I feel less trauma, but possibly more tired, frayed anger at “how life works” for women.

Keep pouringBut I do realize, I’ve never really considered my entire history of being relentlessly sexualized above being anything else.  I realize I’ve tried very hard to dismiss “failed” attempts at rape.  Maybe it is time for something more comprehensive just for the record as a woman who grew up in what the GOP considers the “good old days”?

So, let me shimmy my shoulders like Hillary did…and say “Well, now….”

I was in the third grade.  I was rushing down…

View original post 2,340 more words

Birthday Month – Never Easier

mcesThe storm blowing in from the Pacific comes in gusts that shake the house and set the trees to writhing as if they dance to music only they can hear.  In between the noisy bursts of wind, which jangle into motion the wind chimes the Minotaur-husband adores, it is too quiet — a deep unnatural stillness when if feels as if everything alive is holding its breath.

We wash every dish, afraid of the power failing at any instant and not wanting a sink full of dirty dishes.  Menu plans change if it calls for a long oven use – we cannot be sure of that.  And so, there it is: what CAN one be sure of in the year she, this one, turns 63?

Not much, apparently.  When I was one third this age, at 21, I did not error in thinking I knew everything.  But I was very certain of what I did know and sure I could quite easily learn all else worth my effort.  And at 42?  Oh, such a comfort of mind then, even as a physical monster threatened as I struggled to regain use of my nerve-damaged left arm.  I was happier then that ever before in my life – sure there were problems, but by then they all seemed old familiar ones that would surely respond to old familiar solutions.

Now, at 63, all those sureties seems such illusions.  My marriage was non-existent at age 21.  At age 42, it was troubled but stable in its instability.  At 63, deeply intertwined with my spouse like the M.C. Escher image above?  It is pained and difficult; no, dear ones in the world – it does not get easier with age.  We are new, we two long-wed combatants.  He is all raw nerves awakening from his own self-induced coma of inattention and the world is boiling with pain and shock.  Me?  Oh, I am jaded and bitter with long exposure to the salt and sea and sand of living like a raw nerve all along.

He acts like a man bewitched, enchanted by me – alternately wildly romantic and utterly detached.  I feel unseen, as if he has fallen for some idol of me instead of the woman I am.  I find it hard to feel romantic about him; his health and injuries keep me in care-taker mode and how can I love something so injured that my heart will break sooner or later?  He is, like so many men, spectacularly bad at self-care and when I try to impose it upon him, he is resentful and peevish with me.  I recoil, hurt and furious.

So, thus we dance around the ashes of the marriage that burnt down in a PTSD pyre in 2011; trying to find some ember, some spark.  But neither of us trust that ember not to burn US down, I think.  Neither of us is the person were were before that crisis night; and we need to get to know each other anew.  That is so hard amidst the clutter of daily life in old familiar surroundings.

I long for dates, dressed up pretty and wearing jewelry.  He takes me to coffee and the hardware store.  I go home to repair broken bird-feeders and resist the urge to live in sweat pants or pajamas.  I immerse myself in books; he spends half his time at the VA hospital in endless appointments and classes and meetings.

Nothing gets easier with age.  I am definitely too old for this brand of lonely nonsense.  And so it goes.