Traditions? And Manners, Thanks!

axial-tiltI don’t believe in meaningless traditions.  Traditions are those things for holiday times — or normal times — that give comfort and healing peace.  So, like the bedtime rituals of toddlers, designed to make sleep a pleasant thing for all; I feel traditions should serve those who enact them.  I bake cookies, too; but not those I don’t want to eat!

We have a lot of traditions here!  Decorating the house is a big one for the winter holiday — the winter’s solstice here.  It was difficult this year, but now, each evening we sit in the glow of holiday lights and I time my breathing to the ticking of the cuckoo clock till I feel myself back in control.  Some people find a bedtime story a comfort even in adulthood.  This is a worried season, this might be an answer for you, too?

I am out and about little at this season.  I shop well in advance for the small bit of shopping we do.  I bake my own treats with a few notable exceptions (German lebkuchen) so I don’t need to haunt the grocery store, either.  And yet, there is always the question of manners, isn’t there?

Since the election,there has been a lot of shouting that “Now we can say Merry Christmas again, damn it!”  Ah, well, I don’t recall seeing anyone drawn and quartered for saying that ever.  Did I miss something?  Am I actually now allowed (until the Inauguration?) to simply pull out my battle axe and behead anyone who says “Merry Christmas” to me instead of “Blessed Solstice”?  Cause damn, I could use a bit of murder, death, kill to relieve tension right about now.

Ah, but we have a tradition of manners, too.  (Alas?)  If someone says to me, smiling, “Merry Christmas!” I smile back and say “The same to you.” or “And Happy New Year.”  If, however, as happened once or thrice last year?  Someone narrows their eyes in a parking lot and snarls, aggressively with no smile, “Merry CHRISTMAS!?”  Well, then I am going to try to make their head spin ala Linda Blair.  I smile and say something back like “God Yul!” or “Blessed Solstice!” and of course, they are totally bent out of shape.

I will respond to strangers in exactly the way they respond to me.  Nice people, mannered people will be treated with manners.  Assholes will be offered a perfectly mannered response tailored to MY beliefs.  I even send a few cards each year that say “Merry Christmas” when I know that is what the recipient is celebrating.  My fellow pagans, theistic or non, get “Blessed Solstice” cards.  The occasional Jewish friend gets greetings for their winter holiday, and even Kwanzaa is in some of my cards.

I consider it an obnoxious assumption to say anything more precise than “Happy Holidays” to strangers — it at best neglects the specific winter holiday special to them and at worst insists that they should follow MY holiday beliefs.  Like people insisting a secular business like Starbucks MUST mention Christmas, well, gee, write your own little Merry-What-the-Fuck-EVER on your cup and quit acting like spoilt toddlers having tantrums.

Because yes, I’ve a bucket of coal for your un-mannered stockings.  Also, what?  Were you raised by rabid fascist hyenas?


Star-Shucking: An Exercise in Soul Retrieval

threeMany branches of shamanistic paganism hold an idea of damage to the human psyche – they call it “soul loss” or words to that effect. I think it serves a purpose to consider what they mean; any metaphor that is adequate description of a broken human dimension might suggest a solution, don’t you think?

In traditional shamanic practice, the healer would drum and sing over the patient; and then go on an ecstatic flight/journey to that dark other-where where shorn souls and broken bits end up.  The goal was to find the busted, disassociated bits and thus restore equilibrium and health to the patient.  Well, I have no musical ability at all and so far as what is sometimes called “astral projection” goes?  Let’s say my control is imperfect and my desire  is meager!

I prefer to find more down to earth pragmatic ways of putting my own human puzzle back together!  And I am in dire need of putting things back in order since the election.  I also need to pick up the fallen spirits of my family members.  I think the little daily or seasonal rituals we create in our life are the tool kits of re-assembly to address the damage of normal life.  That is why the Yule holiday is my favorite – it is the time of re-light the blown-out candles of our hearts.  Hasn’t it been darker since November 8th?!

dead-starsSeveral years ago – a decade or more, I had a light “curtain” from IKEA – little golden stars so warm and bright.  Eventually, as holiday lights do, the lights died — first one or two, then a dozen and finally dark stars like little smoky quartz shards.  Even lightless, I couldn’t give up those stars, I tore them off the electric strand and saved them. For several years they went in a big glass bowl with whatever semi-defunct cheap lights would illuminate them from the bottom.  This year, back in January, at an IKEA after-Christmas bin, I found a long strand of tiny cool lights for a pittance price and bought them.  Imagine my surprise, this morning, putting away the debris of two days of decorating, to see that bag of darkened stars and the skinny lights in the same pile?

I sat down with a paring knife and pried apart one of those stars — “shucking” the little plastic pointy bits.  To my delight, they did fit over the tiny new lights!  It took a considerable time, and finally the repetition of ripping open the star and inserting a new light took on the necessary mindful, meditational quality.  Each dark star was a fear I’ve grappled with, each light the self-assurance of control.  

star-reviveLaws can be changed to something worse; but I can use passive resistance and civil disobedience.

People can hate and name-call; I can scrub off hateful graffiti.

We may see more war, more economic destruction; but I can hold friends and family and resist.

Fascism can raise a straight right arm over America; but I can raise a strong right fist.

There will be dark nights of the soul; I can light a candle or a star!

Certain groups might be cut adrift in public life; but I can throw a life-ring of love and support.

A red-hatted mob may howl; but I can hear my inner stars singing instead.

The minstrel-priest is gone; but I can make Leonard Cohen songs the sound-tract of my mind.

May it be so for you!


Birthday Month – The Guest?

Mondays are my “days off” – which should be an oxymoron for someone who does not have a paying job, right?  But any woman can tell you that even a woman who never worked a paying job outside a marital home with children works herself into a tizzy most days.  So, my mental and physical health both improved greatly when I decided a couple years ago, that Mondays would be my day off.

No doctor visits, no shopping trips, no physical labor not of my own choosing, no drear routines of house/garden care.  Even decades ago, with toddler children and a husband often deployed?  I used to take one day off from time to time — piling books by the reclining chair, ignoring laundry and bed-making, stocking bottom shelf of fridge with finger foods and doing only necessary diaper changes!  It was bliss!

fullsizerender-2I begin each Monday morning with a cup of tea — a forbidden beverage for my allergy-plagued self.  I have it in a pretty cup, one for each month of the year.  And as I sip my one cup of tea per week, I plan my day including what to wear.  Thus, today, I realized something I had finally learned for myself.  Quietly, without so much as a drumroll, I became the “guest” in my own life!

Mind you, ours was never a house with “guest” towels.  And the German china that was one of my year’s wages to buy?  It was used weekly the entire time my children grew up.  They learned their table manners with it, with crystal, silverplate, and cloth napkins .  I never saved the best things in the house only for guests.  I never had a room, like my Aunt L. where nobody but guests were allowed.  We never had foods off-limits as “just for dad” either.

But for me?  Well, unless I was going out of the house – I dressed in some pretty crummy things.  Old jeans with paint splotches; t-shirts tattered as any guy would be yelled at for wearing out of the house, socks thin at the heel.  Last year, cleaning out my dresser to steal it away for sewing supplies; I had to consolidate my foldable wear into one chest of drawers.  I threw away the ugly old shirts, thin socks and battered jeans and disgusting sweat-pants.  Suddenly, I had nothing to wear but “real” clothing!  I had two pairs of battered up wear for actual grub-in-the-mud yard work and outdoor maintenance.  And they had to be left for such actual work days!

Today, I dressed and then, surprised, caught sight of myself in my new mirror closet doors, (put up to defend my clothing – formerly only curtain covered – from a climbing kitten!)  and there I stood in camo leggings, a sleek black turtleneck and shining short boots!  I could leave the house without changing clothing first!  So, yes, make yourself the HONORED guest in your own life — worth dressing “up” for, worth the good dress on an ordinary day.   Dress to impress yourself!  The worse you feel, the better you dress and it will lift you up!

fullsizerenderLike the ‘cup of the month’, I’ve taken myself down off a shelf for daily use, instead of daily abuse.

BTW, for most of my adult life, I’ve shopped at discount stores or Goodwill for the majority of my clothing.  More choices, less money.  I have bought maybe a dozen truly costly pieces in my life (including the birthday present I will show you on my actual birthDAY) and still have ALL of them to wear.  It isn’t what you spend alone, but how you select it.  And screw what is “in style”* – wear what you love.  If criticized?  Fix the critic with your very best, “So who died and made you boss?” look and stare them down.  Make your own jewelry – let your statement pieces tell who YOU are, not who anyone else wants you to be!  I’m now “vintage” enough that I’ve seen some fashions come ’round three times and I still don’t wear the ones that were ugly the first time!

*For instance, I love “kitten heels” and anyone who wants to give me attitude about it will find out mine often have very pointy toes.


Grateful for Regimens and Protocols – September 20

img_3445What a way to go forth into fall — a fibromyalgia flare has sneaked up on me and dropped me like a dead cat on my own doorstep! Still, I am grateful that I DO know how to do this.  

It is no longer an undiscovered country.  I no longer am afraid when this happens to me, I no longer worry about never getting better.  I know the drill:

Don’t miss vitamins and essential fatty acid supplements.

Drink more water and limit coffee.  Remember that a little alcohol kills pain, but too much adds pain.

Eat what you can get down and not to excess.  Remember your gut hates dairy in flare.  I am very grateful I no longer crave and indulge in sweets binges during flares.

Work in short bursts of opportunity, rest in between.  Watch lots of comedy, laugh a lot.

Take naps.  Go to bed early.

Do yoga, even if at only half the time and effort.

Stop everything when you get dizzy.

Listen to your body when it complains with pain: don’t castigate yourself for failure.  Love and nurture yourself back to health.

Get out into nature more, but no crazy hard hiking.

Curl up in a feather comforter and read when you cannot sleep.

Feed yourself beauty when your gut hurts too much for food.

Gratitude Catch-Up, July 20 Thru 23rd

Feeling scattered and shattered today. Suddenly life is both full and empty.  The last three days were very hectic.  I’ve not had/made time for yoga since Monday and am full of bodily aches and groans as a result.  So, counter-intuitive as it is, I am grateful today that my body has become accustomed to a new yoga norm and bitches about my UNhealthy habits!

Yesterday was hectic, rising early to hit the road to Seattle to one of Swedish Medical’s SIX locations.  The Minotaur had an appointment to consult with a neurosurgeon there.  Traffic was hellish, it took over two hours to drive there in a light rain.  Then finding parking took another twenty minutes.  Then the VA (Veterans Administration/Very Annoying) had NOT sent the promised necessary authorization codes and a further half hour had to be spent getting all those things.  They were not nasty, the dear people at Swedish, they did not chide us or cancel the appointment we were thus very, very late for — they simply re-alloted time.  I am grateful for that – a reasonable medical staff and a humane doctor.   But it was a two/three gratitude day!

Image-1I was also grateful that we took a traffic stress break after the doctor and drove to Volunteer Park to visit the Seattle Asian Museum and the beautiful conservatory there.  I took a picture of the trunk of an unfortunately dying cedar there and “Prizma’d” it — even in death was beauty.  The Seattle Asian Museum did not have my favorite gold and black 12th century screen on display, but I did get a poster, cards, and a scarf embellished with it’s image!

FullSizeRenderI love crows and corvids in general – so this image never tires me.  Our metal front doors on the porch were roughly modeled on this design.

Thursday’s gratitude was that the food at Appleby’s, where my German lady lunch partners chose to go this week, has improved.  I was able to find something that didn’t ping my allergies!  Also, it gave me a nice mental memory instead of a nasty one for that restaurant — laughing friends, instead of my son’s former in-laws in drunken condition!  (Also, on Thursday, we dropped by a favorite European Cafe — with French food and a French chef – to drop off a dried bouquet of lavender in memoriam of the dead in Nice, France.  The Citron is an excellent choice with delicious soups for lunch for only $6 or so!)

Wednesday’s gratitude was again for food.  My husband the Minotaur took us to lunch in Puyallup at the Roadrunner Bourbon and Burger House.  This was very satisfying and sustaining.  They have far more than mere bourbon and burgers.  The music is early ’60’s and the decor is maybe what I’d call early Las Vegas.  The food and booze is excellent and happy hour(s) is noon to six and ten to close!  

We don’t actually eat out very often, aside from my carefully budgeted luncheons with the former employees of Hess Deli.  So finding the Roadrunner and great happy hour and delicious food is a marvelous break.  Not from cooking, but from the world.  The ambiance is totally in the past — in the allegedly “great America” certain asshat-not-to-be-named claims he will bring back.  So why, knowing the Rat Pack years were certainly NOT ideal, do I revel in this place evoking all that?  Because it was the years of potential — the moments when I still believed everything was going to change for the better!  So, when I sit in beneath the crystal chandeliers in the Roadrunner’s bar, listening to Dean Martin, I take a break from the heartbreaking, mind-bending news of the day and go back to a time when I believed it was going to be different.  It actually does brace me up a bit and allow my batteries to re-charge.  It surely beats thinking about how everything did start to change and then suddenly went rapidly retrograde when every crazy white sort in America freaked out over a black man in the White House!

Now, back to the “salt mines” of a yard getting ahead of me, an election year that is insane, planning schedules around surgery and recovery time next month and much more solo yoga!

Gratitude for “Between”, July 18

Mondays are my day “off” — no responsibility for meals, housework, errands. It is glorious and worthy of gratitude in and of itself!

samhain moonI slept poorly last night, the third night of a post-midnight choice to take a generic sleep aid.  The nearly full moon sailed the cloudy skies, casting my shadow brightly as I stood in my living room at one a.m.  Our night skies have been so cloudy of late I hadn’t realized the moon was so nearly full.  But I should have – it always makes me sleepless.  I once had pagan friends who thought this a great thing, a “sign” of my inherent witchiness!  Bull-feathers!  I am a pale eyed blonde with light reactivity issues.

I’m a pagan who prefers the dark new moon and potential.  I like rosebuds as well as flowers going full/overblown in the brilliant summer sun.  I like sleep.  I like (sometimes) being awake and getting tasks accomplished.  But best of all?  I like the in between — not simply  in the way many pagans mean it, in the ritual space “between” ordinary reality and that “other” so difficult to prove; but in between true sleep and wakefulness.  The hypnogogic state I feel may have given rise to belief in that ritual “between the worlds” ideal is what I am grateful for today.

This morning, I woke, somewhat reluctantly, when my husband brought me my once weekly cup of tea.  My back immediately reminded me of two days of yard work instead of yoga practice.  I drank my tea, perused the news on my phone, groaned and reclined back into my pillows.  I took a muscle relaxant, put heat on my aching back and shut my eyes.  I could feel myself going, but not fully to sleep.

Ahh, that blissful between!  I can hear my husband in the kitchen — dishes clinking.  I can hear the hummingbird wings a-thrum outside the window.  And yet, I am in a conversation with my husband behind my shut eyes — in a light dream state with no visual, only auditory components!  Bitchy, even half-asleep, I am chiding him for spine-damaging posture.  Though I know by now his posture is determined BY spine damage, in my less awake state – I still want to change that fact with application of my worried words.  I tune in a bit more to the sounds out of my bedroom – the dogs  and my younger son talking.  How long can I hover, both lightly dreaming and safe in the knowledge that opening my eyes will banish any nightmarish bits?

Yes, I am grateful for the in between moments.  They are where I can meditate (and mitigate?) in the safely aside, bits of life and reality.  Where control is both light-handed and perfect.


7 July Gratitude

wedding cakeI am grateful for newness.

What does that mean, you say?

It means that as I’ve focused in harder on home life this week, as the Minotaur recovers from carpal tunnel surgery – that I’ve found the work load all on my shoulders just a wee bit difficult.

And that made me want to open champagne — or some nicer bubbly mead.  Because it is a new thing to not be used to carrying the entire household load myself!  That means our working on the PTSD damaged marriage has worked!  It means he has changed and been shouldering his part — physically and emotionally!  It means I can finally relax, stand down, admit my exhaustion and recover! With that realization, a few days or weeks of doing all the dishes, driving, etc. seems like nothing at all.  Well, except maybe, it seems like an act of love instead of weary obligation.  It IS a newness — we are new people,  Together and strong and new!


Nourishment & Gratitude

gold heart beadsI struggled a bit through a later than usual yoga routine and now sit with a whey protein blueberry smoothie before me.  As my yoga DVD says, “Mmmmm, welcome to the land of bliss!”  It didn’t feel like bliss as I almost fell on my butt when tree pose totally escaped me today, ah well.  But the body needs working as much as it needs food and rest.

While making the smoothie I began thinking about what else feeds the best bits of me?  We need more than the physical body’s feeding, don’t we?  We can even make the same “dietary” mistakes when feeding the non-physical bits of ourselves.  How often have most of us said something like, “I could be happy if only I had ________!”

That blank space could be filled with so many things: money, love, sex, power.  Or even more mundanely awful things – revenge, for instance.  But the truth is the “if only” game is one we rarely win.  I won’t lie, it is very nice indeed to win if that game is played.  But winning at that is exhausting and has costs, it is not the game for everyday living unless you play a super-villain in the movies, is it?

If you think of a very satisfying meal – a holiday meal perhaps, or a nice restaurant meal, you consume it bite by bite.  Nobody sticks the entire plateful in their mouth at one time.  And yet psychologically, with games of “if only” – that is rather what we attempt.  What is the cure to such psychological attempts at mental/emotional gluttony?

Gratitude.  Not that we aren’t grateful for big bite items like home, family, love, security.  But the little sparkly bits that light up the brain?  Often tiny things, wee bites so mentally satisfying, so emotionally gratifying that they are like chocolate or booze!  It is easy not to be aware of these, and they are the most available nourishment in hard times.  Many of them cost nothing at all.  But they do take a certain ability to notice, a practice of seeing.

Years ago, I learned this while participating for the first time in a Gratitude Practice of noting at least one thing daily.  I believe it went from the Summer Solstice to the Autumnal Equinox, so I am late already this year – but better late than never!  Doing it puts your mind to work and it learns to feed itself in this manner.  It is rather like putting your mind on a healthier nutrition regimen.

Tomorrow, I will consult my journal to remind myself of things I’ve loved noticing and feeling grateful for since the 21st.  Today I am grateful for the dawn mist that washed clean the air.  My house is open breathing in fresh cool morning!

Slammed – Reality Bites (the Cookie?)

mirror,mirror,mirrorMirrors are a terrible start to most days, don’t you think?  Similarly, epiphanies are tricky things. Not every “Eureka!” denotes celebratory champagne.  At first, like most folks facing an issue, it does seem like a great thing to have identified the precise issue.  If most of my marriage had been a sort of ministry to my PTSD wounded husband and I had not known it?  Just what else had I been similarly unaware of; ignorance certainly was anything but bliss by about ten minutes after completion of my last “triumphant” post.  The optimism of my last paragraphs died ugly.

I had already been fighting depression as our marital counseling seemed stuck on a plateau of going nowhere.  Thinking how my nurturing of the man I knew to be wounded had been dismissed/diagnosed as codependency by friends, and realizing it certainly was outside the realm of mere romantic love hedged me in self-doubt.  I never lied for him (nor to him) about any of his issues.  Nor did I lie to  myself about the constantly embattled state of my marriage and life.  I checked my actions against my ethical code and usually found them in accord aside from the occasional screaming battle involving name calling and door slamming.

LoveSo why was I suddenly so deeply down and depressed?  All I crave is sleep and sweets.  No amount of either seems sufficient.  Suddenly diagnosing my years of (mostly) solicitude as service instead of love left me feeling emotionally naked.  It didn’t necessarily do him any favors either.  I’ve always known I am one of those people who almost reflexively tries to fix things I find in busted up condition.  I had generally held the opinion that people were the exception to this because (a) who did I think I was to feel in a position to so label another human, (b) nobody can be “fixed” if they don’t want to do it for themselves, anyway, and (c) I had observed those efforts ended badly.

So, how did I fall down that rabbit hole after all?  Youthful arrogance and the unspoken “dare” –  my husbands fearful defiant statement as he feared he was falling for me, telling me I was not the one for him?  Good chance that did it, my own “I’ll show him!” hackles rose and into the fray I went.  Oh, I hate to say it, but sometimes pride does go before a fall!  Well, really, hubris.  I have no issue with ordinary pride of accomplishment – but pride before the accomplishment?  Yes, that was an issue.

And it surely didn’t turn me aside that the sex was amazing. I can hear an old astrology buff acquaintance intoning, “Stupid Scorpios.”  I will never stop contending that there ARE worse reasons for relationship, ok?  That does NOT mean my astrology crazed pal had a point.  It means my “black heart of innocence” was NEVER convinced that sex was bad!  I remember, even as a young teen, hearing the sermons and lectures about lust/lechery/sex and modesty/virginity/purity and thinking “What a crock of crap!”  Anything as vital as the cause for continuance of the species cannot be a bad thing – now, making half that species into chattel by telling them if/when/how/with whom they can have sex?  That is a bad thing.

But what now?  With both of us calling a pack of Pecan Sandies and a quart of milk a meal?  Both of us are exhausted and depressed.  He is most depressed IN counseling sessions as I decry my invisibility to him as real person vs. a projection in his mind.  I am most depressed OUT of counseling when feeling that we may suck as a couple, but feel far worse alone.

Or do we?  This morning the house was silent after my initial rising.  One son off to work, the other sound asleep, the husband off to his veterans’ group.  I got up and cooked food instead of searching out cookies. (OK, it was mac and cheese, but with a tin of tuna!  I can’t fight the radioactive blues with salad, alright?  Cheap carbs and cheap protein from a tin is my go-to.  Bite me.)  Does this mean we ARE better off without each other?  It might be hubris to say that — I think it felt better not to look at each other in our current suffering condition, a restful break from sorrow.

Perhaps that is the clue.  That we need to see more in each other than our suffering condition.  How to do that?  ::::sigh:::  You know, I think our climate-battered garden might suffer even more this summer?  I think both of us need to step outside “ordinary time”.  He has been doing auto-pilot grown up things like dishes and vacuuming, I’ve been bathing and napping, reading and weeping.  Him doing all the scut work makes me feel worse, while he feels nurturing.  But then some of his rather passive-agressive control bits (that he needs to feel secure) slide in and I go ballistic.  And the gears of marital battle turn faster.

That particular bomb needs defusing.  How, oh how?  We can’t live in a ritual circle/sphere, now can we?  One rather toxic pagan couple I knew did fine in a circle with each other and a nice audience, but outside of that they lived bitterly separate lives fueled by food and alcohol alone.  Not the pattern I want to follow.  But I do want a new “pattern” because the current one is useless to us both.

Perhaps finding something to do daily that allows us both to see beyond our shared dysfunction?  Meditation instead of morning news?  Yoga together after coffee?  Haiku to express the inexpressible?  Blowing off dishes, bed-making, and all that to go on ahead and eat cookies and milk while watching a movie?  Finding reasons to laugh together instead of crying alone?

There was a quote in my current reading today, a non-fiction book about the absolutely most dire circumstances ever experienced by humans.  It lit a candle in my brain when a dying man told his last surviving child:  “Live for the benefit of others, thus all will benefit.”  Ah, I thought, take that all you codependency-labelers!  (No, it was not some book of monotheistic schlock, thank you very much.)  We had fallen so far apart in the last five years that perhaps for the only prolonged time in our 40 years together, we were living only for ourselves.  That stops.  Today, now — an hour ago.  I have been ruled by fear of loss of self.  That fear lost me my most significant self – the self that lived by “the light of my heart… regardless of consequences.”


Part 2 – Descent and Ascent Of Innana

Vertical Roses 1So, down I had fallen/passed — in 35 years of slippery slope.  I loved roses, ever my favorite flower and scent; and yet my life no longer had a scent.  I greeted my 35th wedding anniversary living apart from my husband, unsure where I was taking my life.  My life was upside down, all looked hopeless and black.  Sure, I had known he had PTSD and had tried many times to address the issue with him.  He was in denial, as so many veterans are and his self-loathing was finally poisoning every close relationship.

I’d lost friendships, women I’d known for years called me “co-dependent” because I did not want to do as Innana did — I would not sacrifice my Thomas as she did her Damuzi- Tammuz.  I would stay hung in “hell” before I threw him, battered and emotionally bleeding, under the bus.

But I did feel broken, shattered.  I didn’t feel like a wife, I felt like a scapegoat.  I reminded myself not to take it personally, but I was so tired I DID take it personally at last.  I spent three months in self-distraction to defuse my own hurt and rage.  I needed the rest.  I fell asleep in front of television shows whose dialogue drowned out my inner screaming.

As a Feri friend of mine would say, my iron pentacle had certainly rusted.  And so had my wounded warrior husband’s.  I tried sex almost at once as a restorative.  He was surprised and delighted, fearing he would never have sex again — but it was not sufficient healing.  After three months of self-indulgent wallowing to acknowledge the level of my pain and loss, I finally got to work figuring out how to fix myself, my household, and then how to get help for my husband.

I began exercising almost every day.  I aligned the “triple soul”; for though I am not a Feri initiate, that clear humane tradition laid out by T. Thorn Coyle in “Evolutionary Witchcraft” was the closest thing to my own mix and match manner of working through life.  Immanent divinity and personal responsibility were ever my watchwords.  I recited a famous (if fictional) “litany against fear” — sometimes several times a day.  In dire need I used a quote from another version of Innana’s story — Finnan/ “Prometheus” defiant proclamation from “Vellum“: “I’ll bear my fate without a care,

But I will neither tell you what you want to hear,

Nor hold my tongue about my state.”

I ran the iron and pearl pentacles to restore myself.  I walked and cared for my Labyrinth although large parts of the yard withered around me.  I kept the roses alive, even moving them from the windswept road-side.  It was not easy, but it got easier.  He found a good counselor, after a year wasted with a very bad one who thought he needed Jesus, not a wife.

I was strong enough by the time this bad counseling came to light that I didn’t despair, though I did weep.  To realize my marriage had been put on the block by a stranger because I was obviously not a Christian shocked me with the venom and hatred of someone whose faith claims to be made of love.

I rebuilt parts of my marital home.  I stripped furniture and antiques — conceptualizing the damaged old finishes as the blasts my marriage had taken.  I made everything again clean, clear, and bright and moved back into my home after three years of nigh ritual solitude.

My “lost” runaway son came home that same autumn, my heart rejoiced even while startled by another household shake-up.  I felt my heart re-bounding, color began to bleed back INTO my life.  My husband retired from his stressful job.  We began seeing a marriage counselor, while he continued with another for his PTSD issues.

It is still difficult and painful, but realization filtered through as we argued one day.  I was demanding to know how he “really” felt about me, because I did not feel loved – I felt “necessary”.  He was hurt and insulted, although that was not my point or aim at all.  What had often occurred to me was that while I loved him, he didn’t seem capable of the same emotional commitment.

The sickening feeling that he might truly not love me, but might desperately need me very nearly turned my life black and withered again.  I listened, once morning in the garden, to a small hawk screaming over-head.  I thought it had been a while since I aligned my Feri three part soul — the “uppermost” that is the connection to the divine world; Coyle calls it a Sacred Dove.  I call mine my “Hawk on High” — around here, doves are for dinner!

In the next days of turmoil, I became very silent in between necessary interactions.  That feeling of “something coming” rang like klaxons of alarm in my head.  I took myself to the tattoo parlour to exteriorize the pain and to mark a friendship.  FullSizeRenderA sliver of white waning moon now adorns my right wrist — a sliver of barely waxing moon adorns a sweet Texan’s wrist.  In the mirror, I see her waxing moon and feel her friendship; in her mirror she sees my darkening moon and hears my smart-assed sass!

I sat in silence in the night and asked myself: “What if he loves you as well as he is currently able, but needs you as well.  What if, all along, you have been only a part-time wife and lover?  What if the full time job has been something else?”  I recoiled.  I did not want to be his mother, his care-taker, his nay-sayer, his nag!

Memories came filtering through the night as the moon waned just like the one on my wrist.  Other men.  Other women’s husbands.  Coming to me, by phone, or sitting at my table, standing on my porch — running into me in a store and talking and talking and talking.  About things they could not say to their wives.  Questions they could never ask aloud in their households.  Matters they could not bring up in their church.  The air felt alive around me.  A chill ran over my skin on a hot night.  Was my “Shining One” trying to tell me something?

The next morning, as we read together about healing; I suddenly had to stop to tell him something.  I had to ask him to not freak out, but to seriously listen and consider that if I was in fact NOT what he wanted, but merely needed because of his wounding; then he deserved to find healing and then find love.  Even if it was elsewhere.  He looked like he might cry and said that I was too willing to sacrifice myself for his health and joy.

rose-cladAnd then, Innana Risen, I had to tell him — it is not a simple wifely sacrifice, it is my job.  My job as what I’ve known I have been for many years now – a shamanistic priestess whose job (aside from psychopomp to the dead of war) is apparently to speak to men alienated and lost from their own lives.  They came to me, they found me against all odds!  And it only so recently dawned on me that he had also so “found” me, before I even knew who or what I was to be.   That before I could be wife, I must be priestess to him.

I do believe he loves me.  I fell into lust at once on seeing him, my Minotaur — my bull to leap and love.  But if it has been only necessity to find healing and wholeness?  Well, then, we will deal with that, too.  Perhaps, someday, not only will I be his priestess – but his true wife?  And someday, perhaps he will be my priest, and not my “sacrificed” husband/lover.

 Ereshkigal shall have to find someone else to hang upon her wall, she won’t have me just yet — nor my “Tammuz” in my stead!  I have descended, seen shades of death and despair around me.  And I have ascended again – in peace, to pick red roses again.

(For full definition of Feri practices like the iron, pearl, or rust pentacles and alignment of the triple soul, I do recommend you find “Evolutionary Witchcraft” or a Feri Initiate!  My own explanations would be cumbersome if not likely to be inexact!)