Friday, December 31, 2010

Swearing to God...

It's New Year's Eve! Finally, a chance to start anew. It's time to take a deep breath, stand up like mature adults, and lie to ourselves – again.

Oh yeah – you do. I do. It's the weakness of the human condition, possibly, but that only explains it – not excuses it. As Wiccans and Pagans, perhaps we need to take a closer look at our words and the resulting effects and – yes – even Karma.

I made a resolution to – upon occasion – use this blog as something more than a chronicle of my weird health, or a source of comic relief. Don't get me wrong: I'm not going to give up journaling my twisted life, strange friendships, or cute puppy antics. (In fact, Yule picture of me and the Rufus below.)

However, as an Elder, it wouldn't hurt to try and teach y'all something now and then.

Oh, sit down and read. It won't hurt you.

Resolutions: They go hand and hand with New Year's. We review the past year, decide what we wish to change going forward, pledge to make a difference – and then don't. I know that's not true for everyone, but for most folk I know resolutions fade as soon as they return to their regular routines. Our “usual lives” are worn like well-grooved paths. Our “wheels” fit them, move smoothly along them, even if they no longer take us where we want to go.

By giving our word by declaration (such as a resolution) we are participating in a magical act. It's true – and no one knows better than the Irish. Our bards and poets could bring prosperity or curse a king's fate with the power of words. Think of the effects certain song lyrics may have on your own responses and emotions. (I use to have co-workers who got choked up when they heard “Butterfly Kisses.” Uh – OK. To each their own. Don't know the song? Spare yourself.)

By making resolutions, you are giving your word. To disregard your word is to disregard your power and, in part, disavow your magic.

Many who make resolutions sincerely try to live up to them, but fail. To me, that's a different matter. Sometimes additional help is required to make major change. If folks seek out that assistance, when they realize they can't set their wheels on a new path alone, they are still being true to their word.

There's another form of “giving your word” that is all too common, and prone to disregard. It's “the bargain with the Universe.” It's not just something we do when facing death, but in various, more immediate circumstances.

This particular “word giving” is usually a simple formula: “Dear Gods/ Old Ones/ Universe, If you let 'A' happen, then I will do 'B'.” For example: “Old Ones, give me success and I promise to adopt a highway/ join Habitat for Humanity/ save the whales.” Success comes – but it never seems to be a convenient time to keep our end of the bargain. Oh, we intend to – as soon as our time frees up.

Meanwhile, the Earth fills up with orphan overpasses, homeless in hovels, and waterlogged whale bits.

Beware, folks. You are leaking “power” and “magic.” Perhaps that's why people are so frightened by the concept of “a pact with Satan.” If you sign on the line, you are going to pay. We Pagans have no ultimate Evil forcing us to ante up. Nothing “forces” us to keep our resolutions, uphold our bargains or honor our promises.

But – there is Karma.

When we give our word, even in simple things, and “blow it off”, there are repercussions both subtle and immediate. Did you promise a friend you would day trip to the ocean, take in a movie, a museum, a new restaurant etc.? Did you “forget,” cancel, or decide to schedule in something else instead? So what – they'll understand, right? But how do you know the impact on the other person?

Here's a true example from my own life:

I had a friend who lost his job, his marriage, and the respect of his children. His friends were also his wife's friends, and they had turned their backs on him. On the phone that November, I learned that he had no plans for Thanksgiving. I told him he could come to my cousin's house with me.

I called on Thanksgiving morning, convinced him to meet me at my house, and together we went to my cousin's for a great meal, and a great time.

A few days later, he called to thank me for saving his life. He was so alone and despondent Thanksgiving morning, he was about to kill himself when my call came through.

I really didn't want to have a holiday meal with a depressed friend – but I gave my word.

(BTW: he worked out things with his wife and family and they are happily reunited.)

You never know the impact of your words.

Be attentive.

Be aware.

Be respectful of your own powers and the effects on others.

Make it a resolution!

Happy New Year!

(p.s.: All illustrations are taken from the Graven Images Oracle deck, by me and Nat Zaman. Order from Amazon by clicking on my link!)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

What's the buzz

It's the day after Xmas. Our first significant snow of the season is looming. The world is cool and hushed, awaiting the winds which will soon pile inches of white against my doors and windows. It seems only natural that I should wish to discuss a very special subject – bumble bees.

Why not? Any day now, stores will be full of heart shaped candy boxes, leprechauns and Easter bunnies. If they can do love sick, fuzzy dwarfs, I can do bees.

I'm scared to death of them. Bees, not dwarfs. Well, dwarfs too, but that's off the topic. Having been stung on the gluteus maximus at an early age, I learned to respect them. (I also learned a karmatic lesson: the bee's ass got mine while mine got his. I sat on him as he rested on the back seat of my dad's Chevy.) Despite this initial, painful encounter, bees were also part of the first magical act I ever witnessed.

As I've gotten older...and older... I've come to see the bee as a symbol of industry, prosperity, community, and harmonious organization. The bee stands for healing and wisdom in many ancient societies.

Now, to change the subject – but not really. Decades ago, my grandfather drew a symbol for me, at my request. (He never did art professionally, but was quite talented at drawing plants and animals.) He drew a 2 leaf plant, roots sunk into the soil, and leaves stretching upward towards the moon. It later became the symbol of our coven. I see power in that sign, a simple gift from one generation to the next, and a statement of the basic goal of our Path: Grow. Acknowledge your roots even as you reach for the moon.

Me, in front of our coven flag
 One day, not that long ago, a student decided to tattoo our symbol on her wrist. I had no objections. The result was rather stylized, but nicely done – as tattoos go. (Body art – not really my thing.) Earlier this year, while sitting down to an innocent cup of tea, I noticed that the coven symbol was – gone. Something else was now on her wrist, a design that was part of a larger, newer tattoo of a woman with bees.

“Where's the coven symbol?” I asked, mouth agape.

“Oh – I didn't care for it. I had it covered over. It's OK. I know it's there.”

I was speechless.

Do MAGIC much? You take an important symbol, incorporate it into your own flesh, then eradicate it with a design of your own .. and that's OK??

I was hurt – insulted – appalled. How could anyone not see the significance of that action? I mean, geez....

That was when I decided to amend my personal symbol (which had also been the coven symbol) to be inclusive of the old and the new. I took the existing sign, combined with the bee hive image, and had artist Robin Ator execute the graphic.

Behold my new, personal symbol:

Please do not ink this onto your butts, use it as an advertising logo, or otherwise abscond with it. I paid $$$ for this image.

Meanwhile, our coven symbol continues on. I did special meditations about it and have seen to it that its energy has not diminished. Those of you who belong to the Tuatha De Danann tradition can still use the coven symbol in any respectful manner.

Ya want art? Buy a canvas!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Return Of The Native

Ladies and gentlemen, guess who's home? (Drum roll, please..) Rufus!

Yes, the baby is back. Debbie returned him on Monday. It was obvious he was well cared for – and shell shocked. He sniffed around and around until I assured him there was no replacement dog. He seemed confused when Debbie left without him. He jumped at any sudden noise. I understand that one. We live in a quiet household. Deb has 2 girls and a busier life than I. I can see why he'd be noise sensitive.

However – it didn't take long for him to settle in. He was very itchy, despite his pills. I realized they were from 2009, so the Vet sent a current refill, along with a relief spray. I had to throw out his dog bed. It was dirty, and there was no way to wash it. He has others. Besides, it made it hard to use the roll-about in the living room.

He is a good boy around the external fixator. He sniffed it, kissed it, and then left it alone. Even in bed (which he still hogs) he avoids it and sleeps snuggled right up next to me on the opposite pillow. He likes the idea that we both sleep on top of the quilt now and, I must admit, he's a fuzzy little heater. It's much warmer when a shih tzu has your back.

The challenge? Shih Tzu poo. On Tuesday, my brother took me for x-rays. It was a production, but that's a story for another time. When we got home, Jim checked for poo, found some on Rufus' papers, and cleaned it up. Unfortunately, he didn't check the bedroom, where Rufus had taken a “spite dump.” Not pretty. I had to handle it while using the roll-about. It was like trying to wipe up crap while balancing on a Schwinn. A couple more poo piles like that, and I can turn this ability into a Barnum feature. (Like there haven't already been enough circus acts in our family history. One of my great uncles was the “tall man” in a Monmouth circus, while my Great Grandmother's cousin worked for Barnum as a midget and married “General Tom Thumb.” That's the long and short of it! - yeah, it's OK. Even I groaned.)

Through all this adjusting and adapting, I've made a new friend. Actually, it feels as though I've re-met an old one. She's one of the visiting nurses. She walked into my house (Gary was there, as well) looked around and said “Your house has such a cool vibe!” That was it – I knew we would be friends. She said she had the same feeling. Once I'm able to walk, I am going to introduce her to my favorite shops, restaurants. I look forward to meeting her family (one day, when I'm not living my life in lounge wear.)

So, I see my instincts were right. Old makes way for the new, and cycles continue. From this experience I may end up with a better foot and a great friendship. There have been worse outcomes.

Now, if only nurse Peggy didn't wrap these damn ace bandages so tight...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Special "Footage"

It's been over three weeks since my surgery – time does fly when you're

So far, I've been able to meet the challenges. I can't use the shower, as predicted. The answer to that was – bath wipes! You know, nothing beats the comfort of nice, warm soap and water, but bath “wipes” or “sheets” do get you nice and clean. (Take them camping, all ye who dwell among the trees, and you will never smell like dead bear.)

Washing the hair was next. At first we did the “sitting on the bath chair and leaning backwards over the tub” thing. Awkward. The answer: a pitcher of water and the kitchen sink. It's the old fashion way, and it still works. (How well I remember my youth, down in the basement, leaning over the slop basin while my mother scrubbed my hair with her work-harden fingers. I'm surprised any of us had scalps left.)

Sleeping with the “cage” without shredding the sheets? Answer – don't. I lie of top of the quilt, covered by another one. It's my only option. When Rufus comes back, I'll have to cover the cage with a pillow so I don't injure him in my sleep.

The super “fun” stuff still continues - like getting the sock on my right foot hooked to the fixative, just when I have to get up to pee. Hilarious. Then, there's hitting the slick kitchen floor so the roll-a-bout careens into the side of the fridge. Oh yeah! And let's not forget getting caught in the wheels of the office chair while transferring from the roll-a-bout. Whoopee!

The next mountain to climb... Rufus' home coming tomorrow. I miss him, but am nervous. Toys, papers, Rufus stuff everywhere. It's going to be a trip. Let's hope that's not literal.

Rufus did serve a higher purpose while he was with his groomer Debbie. Poor Deb had to put her own dog down last week, and she said it was a comfort for the family to come home to Rufus in lieu of an empty house. That's my boy.

Meanwhile, I've edited and submitted my article to BBI Media, and another to Circle Magazine. I've decided on formats for my fiction and non-fiction books, and will start on the non-fiction right after the holidays.

BTW: I managed to get dressed (try getting pants over an erector set), down the front steps and into the car for my visit with Doc Siegel. It went well. The nurses even took pictures.

(Avert your eyes, all ye of weak constitutions, for behold! Franken-foot lives!)

Pretty, huh.

So, if you think your day has been a pain, think again. And – oh yeah – I also have a picc line in my arm for infusions of vancomycin.

It's all a part of being a member of the “Alumin”ati. (Get it? Aluminum cage...Illuminati, Alumin... oh, grow brain cells and evolve, the lot of ya!)