The Year’s End

New Years celebration

 

Tomorrow is my 57th birthday. I still have no wish to “grow up” because to me, the next thing would be “growing old” and I refuse that judgment upon my person. I still believe in love, I still believe in the magic of those Unseen to affect beauty all around me, and I still believe (somewhat) in the goodness of the human race. I believe in romance; the kind that leaves you teary-eyed and breathless after a tender kiss. I believe in long-lasting relationships because the nature of love is compromise, care, comfort and consideration for one another. Oh, to be sure we all mix it up now and again to keep things fresh, funny and delightful to our beloveds.

I believe in reincarnation because I am very much a work-in-progress. It would be absurd, with all the flaws inherent in my being, to expect me to conquer them all in a single mortal lifetime. Especially if your lifetime has been foreshortened in a flash, with an unexpected crash. I believe in Wonder; because if I have forgotten what it looks like, all I have to do is find a four-year old to remind me.

When all the Ugly of this world descends upon me, all I really have to do is reach out to another. This has been the hardest lesson of all, because for years, I only interacted with others thru a narrow window of a bubble – refusing more than the scant contact of a phone call, a brief meeting in a small cubicle, the direct dryness of an e-mailed message. I wrote my stories at home, safely tucked away from the rest of the world in a 9 X 6 office, 30 miles from the nearest hub of human commerce. I liked it that way because those that deliberately looked for folks like me to harass, annoy, tease, belittle or outright bully could not reach me here; and I could illumine their souls with my limited understanding in the vain attempt to discover why they felt so compelled.

When you least expect it, Serendipity waves her magic wand and you find yourself bed-rest bound with a scary prognosis and an interminable wait for a follow-up CT scan and MRI. However, because of the Common Thread of Mercy, you also end up entertained by a lovely series of urban fantasy books. This was to be only the outside of the nesting dolls of discovery, but so little did I know.

Then, I discovered what a wonder a blog could be, and my eyes were sure to be as big as that four-year-old upon seeing fireworks from the top of a hay bale in a moonlit sky. Oh, the Universe wasn’t through with me, because then I had the joy of a writer’s retreat. Not before a near-complete meltdown, however. This little country mouse was secretly terrified of leaving her safe nest under the huge ash tree in the middle of the prairie. It took a lot of hand-holding, some serious acceptance of limitations and a warning of a bruised ego should she turn around and run back to the safety of the sun-dappled shadows, but Country Mouse not only navigated the airport and the rental car kiosk, but Chicago traffic and her own limited knowledge of getting maps to work on a smartphone.

There were some disappointments along the way as well; Google Maps is never accurate, hindsight is always better than gut-level panic, and re-think what you really need to pack before you have to schlepp it all over Creation. Learning your new limits or finding a new normal have been watch phrases for me; and in the spirit of being honest, not exactly welcome. The trade-off, because we do live in a Universe of Balance, is that I made some friends that have felt like they will and have always been a part of my heart.

The next stage of my life is a complete unknown – it’s like standing behind the curtain at an improv. You have no clue what you’re going to do, but you have a gut level feeling that you can wing it if you can just get over the fear factor. Every muscle in your body is both relaxed and tensed at the same time, your mind is racing and your breathing skips a bit along with your heart. However, there is that still, small voice telling you that “You. Got. This. You’ve had it your whole life. Now. Is. The. Time.”

To be sure, there is a wonderful happy part of me that is simply aching to share some good news. (I’m going to be published!) Of course, there is the part of me that simply wants the mess out of the house so she can sit down and finish writing some of the stories that fizzled to a whisper because of the distractions of crap she simply cannot abide! (Obsessive/compulsive, much?)

Here I sit, at the end. A sudden realization tearing my eyes; I am the only one with this voice, this perspective. Should I be too shy to sound out, the whispers of what I see will dim and face into the emptiness of Chaos, with no one to note that I even sat here at all. The fear of silence being more than the shyness of sharing a beloved’s touch on my neck, shoulders and the tentative kiss of “good morning” on a still sleeping face.

Soundtracks of a hundred movies sit in my queue, background music to a chattering brain flexing verbiage and feathered synonyms to paint the mind pictures. The window frames the sere grass overgrown for lack of a sufficiently powered mower to tackle the front acre. Naked limbs of crepe myrtle, mimosa, ash and tallow give depth to the framing, and within a golden pool of illumination, the fingers move and then still; here creation moves one phrase at a time.

Tomorrow, my heart will still waltz to an unheard tune, my eyes still looking for the miraculous, and my hands will still reach to learn that next, more difficult crochet pattern. Getting the brain to engage will always be the new challenge that the new normal has become, but I refuse to ‘grow up.’ No one ever said it that it was mandatory anyway; I prefer to grow better.

Mays the Bells of the New Year bless you and yours with their soul stirring chimes.

Gentle Hugs,

 

Rhae

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Takin’ Tater home….

tater

On the Eve of Christmas Eve…..

This has not been the usual week of borderline sanity at home. First, the college kid is home for the winter break. The larder needs re-stocking as I’ve adjusted to just the Dane and me for edibles in the pantry, fridge and freezer. This will later reflect itself in “The Shopping Trip from Dante’s Acid” later. It also means that the cats, particularly Phucktard Phred, will be overjoyed that she’s back. For Phred it means that he get to be Protectorate Cat in Chief for “Kitty Mama Number Two” in exchange for nighttime warm snoozes at the foot of her bed. To show his appreciation the first night she was home, he dropped a half-dead, partially consumed gecko into her nearly-asleep cleavage. Knowing she would stampede the parental units if she screamed, she instead stifled her scream and upon retrieving the critter, tossed him under the bed to seek refuge. The following night, said gecko, still having a death-wish, dropped from the ceiling onto her shoulder. Keep in mind that we live in the sticks, anything from a scorpion to a drunken bat could have fallen onto her shoulder, thence to climb into her hair. Of course, this is the child that KNOWS better than to stampede the parental units with nighttime drama unless the need is acute; rather than give into the bone-numbing fear whatever-it-was invoked, she chose to lift a trembling hand to discover that Mr. I-Have-No-Tail-Because-Of-The-Cat Gecko had returned. With bravado unheard of in my offspring heretofore, and knowing full well that scarcely three nights previous there was a rattlesnake out there, she takes the gecko outside to the back porch. It’s our expected protocol for most critters, this “catch and release.” It was protocol for the children during camping trips as well, but that’s a whole different post. The now-tailless gecko goes his merry way and Phred’s place as a foot-of-the-bed guardian Lion-Cat is assured.

Today is unusual as it’s the re-scheduled day for my weekly visit to the therapist. When I get to her office/home, she’s still half asleep and in a robe as she was up until 3 am filing the paperwork for my insurance claim. It seems that yet again, the paperwork process has changed and she now needs to re-submit 3 months’ worth of my visits on a new online system that is more difficult to navigate than the IRS website and just as glitchy. She has the patience of a saint, and I just move to a small settee for our weekly chat as she fixes herself coffee, toast and we just do our usual visit in unusual surroundings. In the end, it works out better because dealing with change has always been a bit of a sticking point with me, and I needed her as a sounding board to deal with the trauma of the precious day’s shopping nightmare. But the frustration of dealing with the new filing system is evident in our visit. I ask myself; are all my primary medical contacts going to have to deal with this, as well? Honestly. If this is your “new normal”, quit calling yourself “insurance” and adjoin the proper description of your function as “protection racket.”

However, it was back to dealing with the insanity of shopping this close to a major holiday and children being allowed to run rampant in a very, very busy retail setting. This was not apparent in in one store but in all three that we visit in order that acquire the makings for not one, but two costumes as both the Dane and Kat are doing costume play (cosplay) at IkkiCon this year. My agoraphobia kicked in hard and all I wanted to do was bend physical laws and reach light speed to return home. I was grateful to get home, but both Kat and I were not in doing well for mental stability. The noise, the frenetic activity and the hostility from other shoppers twisted our experience into a visit into Dante’s psyche.

Soon enough, our time is over and I am driving home; food for thought growling around in my brain as it always does after these sessions and as I make one of the final turns to come home, in the middle of the road is a black bloodhound. He looks totally lost and completely thrilled to be seeing a human being; his tail wagging so hard it affects his back legs in the thump, thump, thumping of a joyful dog. I put the car in park, and go to open my door and see if I can get close to him; close enough to see if the tags on his collar could give me an idea as to who he was and where he belonged. The back country road he was traversing was NOT a safe place for two-leggers, much less four-leggers. As I exit the car, the dog sees his opening and jumps right in! He then jumps into the rear seat and starts to nose the cold window glass, I roll down the window for him, and he sits down as if fully expecting to go on a road trip. He was so excited, that I couldn’t get a grip on his collar and I made the decision to take him to the house and engage the assistance of the college kid. As we near the top of the ridge, the animal decides to engage in what bloodhounds do best, bay and howl. What the Hell, I figure, I’ll just howl with him. He was startled into silence the first time I answered his howl with one of my own. Until that is, he did it again. We were making sweet mountain music all our own all the way to the homestead.

We drive down the long driveway onto the acreage and George decides to join in with his own unique ‘bark from the balls’ addition to our chorus. From the time that George put his nose up to greet the bloodhounds’, a friendship begins to bloom; and frankly it was inevitable. Both are big, black dogs, both have distinctive voices, and both are just damned goofy. Kat helps me dog-wrangle the bloodhound and I get the vet’s phone number from his tag. I place a call and discover that a.) His name is “Tater” and b.) He lives about 3 miles from us. I get his owner’s phone number and his ‘critter-mama’ answers the phone. ‘Tater’ has been a bad boy and dug out of his yard again to go ‘visitin’ the neighborhood. I’m watching Tater and George sniff and play with each other as I’m making arrangements to get Tater back to his owners when I hear a strange yelp and see the college kid suddenly fall over laughing. Apparently in his way of sayin’ “Howdy!” to Tater, George put his cold, cold nose on Tater’s warm boy dog parts; the resulting vertical 3 foot leap and startle howl/yelp being of particular hilarity. In the meantime, the Dane has been awakened from his slumbers by the howling and the happy cannonade of bark from George. “What th’ Hell is that gawd-awful noise?” he stagger bellows from the hallway. It was almost a sudden verbal blow that my beloved would find the sweet bay of a bloodhound a ‘gawd-awful noise’ – never has our disparate childhoods been a factor in our relationship. Upon hearing my answer once more, the Dane grumbles from the darkened hallway, “The answer is ‘Hell to the No!’” My heart quavered a little, but I also realized that feeding TWO of George would require a bit more income or the graduation of a child from an institution of higher education.

Kat and I pile into the car and open the back door of Jean-Luc d’Cube for Tater. He jumps in and no sooner than Aerosmith starts thumping from the stereo but he begins to happily howl again. I can just hear the Dane in the house begin the growl and grumble over the joyful noise. I’m starting to get an evil idea that begins with a dark chuckle. Up and over the ridge and we’re back down the long, long country road the leads out of the back of beyond where the home front is. Soon we pull up to the mailbox that denotes the address of Tater’s owners, and sure enough there’s a young man waiting in a pickup truck for our arrival. Tater jumps out and then can’t make up his mind which vehicle he wants to be a part of. The young man is desperately trying to get Tater’s attention aimed in the general direction of the open cab of the truck. It take a bit of effort to wrangle 90 pounds of excited bloodhound to jump into the truck, but it’s managed with only a little bit of frustration and a lot of ignoring the tail-wagging excited baying howls. Later, Tater….I think I feel the addition of “play-dates” for George.

However, in tiniest corner of my heart, I am planning the addition of a bloodhound to our homestead. I realized what I missed in not having the sweet music of a happy howling bay to greet me home and howl with. No, the Dane has no clue; then again, he’d probably find me an early entrance into an old folk’s home if he had a clue that the addition of my dreams of “Boudreaux” will also include the addition of a mule, too.

A Yuletide Pagan Primer for the non-Pagan

Yule-log-entry

 

Time and again I’ve posted on Facebook and elsewhere NOT to wish me a “Merry Christmas” please, I’m not Christian. I don’t say it to sound mean or callous or Goddess-forbid engage in some feeble minded attempt to make war on a holiday held sacred by others. I’m simply asking that a level of civility be observed and to please extend to non-Christians the same courtesy extended to Jews, Muslims, and other non-Abrahamic individuals. In return, I’ve been asked “What DO you observe?”

I am only timidly going to stick my toe in the Pagan waters here, because I can only speak for our Druidic tradition and some of the Wiccan and Asatruar traditions that we share hearthkin with. Ah, yes…I can see that some definitions are going to be in order as well.

Shall we jump in? Primarily there are as many Pagan traditions as there are stars in the sky – and probably just as many variations in Druidry, Asatru and Wicca, so this is not gospel. It is a generality and should you have a burning desire to know and question that you just have to have answered, feel free to ask. Likewise, if I don’t have the answer, I can usually point you in a solid direction for where to discover the answer. Witchvox.com is a likely resource, but not the final answer by any means.

Let us start with “community” – this is not as cohesive (although a crap-ton of us wish it were) or as inclusive as the word suggests. “Loose confederation” is closer, more holes that your granny’s doily is a better description. This mutually-agreed upon truce betwixt and between traditions and spiritual paths tends to generate a consensus gathering for most, if not all of the 8 “Holy Days” that revolve around an agricultural/astronomical calendar. Neither are the dates ‘set in stone’ per se. Because of a large amount of religious bigotry still running unleashed and rampant in a good part of America, most Pagani tend to utilize “the weekend closest to” the actual date/day/time for observance.

Let us also add an additional warning here. Because of the aforementioned problems with the distinct lack of general acceptance, if you’ve made an acquaintance of an individual that follows The Old Ways, please keep that information to yourself, unless that individual has acknowledged to you that they are “Out Of The Broom Closet” with regards to their spirituality. It’s a big no-no to expose someone who could very easily lose their job, their home, their children, their school funding or even their lives. No, I’m not going over the top here. It’s happened.

OK, definitions. “Heartkinship” – this is an established relationship between two separate groups of pagani; sometimes, two covens or circles, sometimes Druid and Wicca, sometimes Asatru and Druid. There is an agreed upon joint relationship for observance, prayer, feasting, even extending to informal fosterage of children during the summer months or sometimes during the school year. Yes, my family and I fostered our girls with an Asatruar hearth and likewise accepted their children into our household. It works very well when there are shared values and morals, with shared goals and expectations of the children involved. The benefits are amazing all around; but the trust and ability to compromise required of each side promotes a level of maturity that is admirable. Once upon a time, when there were extended families that knew each other just as well, informal fosterage was simply a given status. Modern America has lost something it could do well to rethink and regain.

‘Ghosti’ or Guestright – this is the set of acceptable behaviors between guest and host that stretches back into time. In a nutshell, it describes what is expected of a good guest; no breaking of the good china, lamps or host’s bones, no wrecking of the house, cars or property, no allowing the remainder of the household to come to harm through action or inaction on your part. In exchange, your host is expected to grant you a meal free from poison, vermin or inordinate gossip, a place to sleep should you require it, and a bath should you need one. Additionally, protection from anyone who would harm you while within the boundaries of their property is also an expectation. It sounds so simple, and yet too many times the members of the pagan community have seen both guests and hosts wreck the parameters of appropriate behavior on the order of a sleazy talk show.

As much as I hate to illumine the single underlying cause of the majority of these rampages, it must be outlined that alcohol can breed just as much antipathy as cheer. Setting firm expectations/boundaries with guests is a welcome foundation that can insure many happy holidays to come – be they Pagan or not. Oh yes. One more item. Set firm boundaries with regard to sex and sexual behavior. If you’re going to have a grown-up party, act grown-up and discuss consensus and protection.

Ah, so you’ve been invited to “circle” or “ritual” – Chances are the person that invited you will inform you of their particular traditions with regards to dress, time to show up, etc. Want to impress the person who invited you or officiates at the ritual? Bring a bottle of mead, or good wine, or something to eat. Clueless as to what would be appropriate? Do a bit of research on the ritual being observed. Many of the Full Moon/Dark Moon observations are closed – which means “no one outside the immediate group unless permission has been given.” So, if you are invited to a Holy Day observation, (one of the Big Eight) you’re going to be there with others who are likewise clueless or are attending their first event. Accommodations should have probably been made for your presence. Relax, keep an open mind and enjoy. Participation in the event is always voluntary, save for a preliminary ‘smudging’ or cleansing. Never be afraid to ask your host/hostess about appropriate attire, what to do once inside circle, if you can ‘sit this one out’ and where, etc.

What is this “Yule” thing anyway? For our hearth, Yule, is an ancient Germano-Celtic tradition that celebrates the return of the Light and is observed from sunset the day before the Winter Solstice to sunset the day of the Solstice. An hourly vigil is kept at the Hearthfire by the Yule Log to insure blessings to one and all that come to observe, offer prayers and seek blessings. There are some that keep an all-night vigil when seeking wisdom of importance. While there is gift-sharing, it is minimal and observes a protocol of “one gift to Share Your Light” (i.e. an artist receives expensive brushes, a chef receives a prized carving knife, etc.) There is often story-telling (the cycle stories of Munster, the Children of Lir, etc.) and there is often a recounting of the year’s events similar to Samhain.

At midnight, every light is turned off, the fire is ritually tamped out, and a new fire re-kindled upon the ashes of the old, with the exception of the Yule Log. Additionally, the Yule Log is never allowed to burn away completely; one piece of the log is saved to use to kindle the next year’s Yule Log, else the family line dissipate never to be spoken of or remembered again. Usually, only “hearthkin” (kindred accepted by rite) are allowed to share Yule as they are familiar with and answer to the traditions of “ghosti” or guestright. (This is a complicated set of traditions that have to do with hospitality – how to behave as a guest and/or host.) We usually roast a ham, a brisket and a salmon to offer on the table for the main feast. There’s baked apples, sometimes a roast goose, it all depends on a.) what we can afford and b.) what we can get at the butcher’s. It’s very different from Christmas, but very family oriented.

By far, this isn’t an in-depth description…because there is so much more. The names of all whom I’ve sent Yule cards to will be recited at the Hearthfire in order that the Exalted Ones extend a Blessing to them. There are bayberry candles that adorn the altar (for prosperity – “A bayberry candle burned down to the socket brings health to the family and gold to the pocket.”) Mistletoe is carefully hung over doors, holly and pine over windows (to honor the Ancestors & the Shining (Fae) Ones) and often the kitchen and pantry is ritually cleansed with salt & mint to keep pests away, the floor cleansed with herbal tinctures and homemade soap….It’s a JOB…but the laughter, the sense of community and the camaraderie makes it so worth the effort!

Yule is probably the one Holy Day wherein we open the hearth and door to any who care to share because we feel it’s only right to Share in the Light. To us, sharing the sacred with others connects us to them in a way that no other form of communion can. When you share a meal, a ritual observance, stories and song, you being to understand another person’s perspective, and their lives begin to have worth and value to you. A common understanding goes a long way towards acceptance and inclusivity.

Blessed Yule, Y’all…..from our Hearth to Yours.

The Message – Huh?

message

Its 4:40 on a Monday morning and by all rights I should be back in bed, recuperating from a gnasty sinus infection. Hat’s off to ragweed and mold; your attempt at my demise was a near miss this year. Somewhere in the night, I kicked off both socks and between my cold feet and empty tummy, the sleep cycle threw in the towel. Did I mention the softly snoring warm husband within arm’s reach? Happily for me, there are clean socks in my dresser, a bowl of cereal and enough milk to quiet the tummy for now and even a pot of coffee should I care to make it. I am blessed to have a door to shut, a fridge and a pantry with enough to eat, and clothes to cover this fragile human body. I am lovingly (perhaps) endowed with an Internet connection and the technological wherewithal to connect and even e-publish my thoughts on a blog.

If I look at this bounty in wonder, I need to also look at the threats to access being considered, if not already enacted by certain legislative and governmental bodies worldwide. Our basic human need to express ourselves in our own unique individual way is a basic freedom still denied to many for reasons selfish, pathetic and archaic. If you don’t like hate speech, you don’t have to listen. If said same speech is being broadcast, public pressure on the businesses that buy the advertising to make the broadcast possible is a good way to make your point – so is social shunning. It has worked before, and human beings are social creatures; shunning hurts.

Misrepresentation is a fancy word for lying. Americans have lost our backbone and our ethical compass when we allow what passes for news to become a bully pulpit for the “haves” pointedly ignoring or shaming the “have not’s.” Once upon a time, it was considered anathema to present any newsworthy item without the due diligence and research required for both sides of any issue. We also took pride in a work ethic that we desired to pass along to our children, along with a sense that justice was a guarantee if you were a law abiding citizen.

Some really ugly stuff has gotten in the way of what used to be Our Shining Glory – maybe it wasn’t so shiny after all. Maybe those ugly parasites of greed, racism and insecurity never really died off; they were simply buried under a mountain of white bread patriotism, force fed to us by those who were under the mistaken impression that “they knew better.” Questioning every step we make used to be a proud American tradition; this is before partisan politics made a mockery of our system of political representation.

To simply say “Shame on you, you should know better” is no longer appropriate because if you take a long, hard look at the entire matter, we no longer know better. We have become an “idiocracy” – allowing those with the least amount of foresight and wisdom to govern our daily affairs. In truth, we also allowed our government to be purchased and influenced by massive amounts of monies from multinational business concerns that simply use their influence to do what they wish and as they will in a country that made their conception and bounty possible.

So, in the nature of True American Spirit and Parenthood, I’m going to raise the flag here. Anyone remember the saying, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world?” Do you really want that precious life you care for, nurture and protect to grow up to be a hate-spewing, narrow minded bully? Whether born to you or adopted, that life was not presented into the world with a foreknowledge of exclusion. Those tiny hands were never intended to deliver a killing blow to another living creature save for the purposes of providing food. Those tiny feet were never intended to crush the neck of another human being in rage and anger. Let’s take this one step further. If you never intended to be a parent, why did you opt to bring that life into the world through ejaculation or conception?

Ok, I’ll admit – this was a complete crap-ton of heavy thought for what should be a happier time of the year. However, this is also a time for reflection. Each of us holds an immense amount of power within us, whether we want to admit it or not. Incredibly wise ones amongst us have acknowledged this in not so many words. Don’t think that you have to be an oligarch to change the world, it doesn’t cost a single cent to change your mind and approach a problem with a totally different response than the one you had yesterday.

The hubby and I made a conscious decision to “share the Light” this year in our own way. We purchased Yule cards with a quote we appreciated and a message we created. Little seeds of change, bread crumbs spread upon the waters of thought. It was an investment, to be sure. There is no sure way of measuring the return, and we agreed that there doesn’t have to be. The very fact that the intent was put forth, the energy spent, pretty well guarantees that there will be some movement somewhere; the Universe is not a stagnant pond. It is not the single motion that moves the boulder.

May you and yours find a way to poke a stick of positive energy, prayer, good intention towards those things that are keeping the human race from its best and highest potential. I’ll be there with you in spirit, if not in deed.

Gentle hugs.

The Spirit of Things

yule_10

I’m not really exactly sure when I came to grips with that part me that others term as “spirit” but I can tell in a heartbeat if someone else is grappling with the idea of self-versus-Self. As a child I heard the magic of butterfly wings and raindrops, I remember the whispered wisdom of things that grow and go versus those things that have been here forever. There’s a sigh in the summer breezes that speaks of yawning tree branches and the deep coolness of spring-fed waters. Likewise there is a hollow echo to the chill winds of winter that aches with the absence of activity as all life slumbers.

This is not a consciousness that demands identity and labeling, this is a sense of self that requires a simple acceptance to freely express as whole and holy. There are no human words when the inner self needs to fly on wings that are not expressed as feather and tendon. There likewise is no language to paint with that captures a spirit in mid-dance. When that sense of what is eternal by sheer chance happens upon another whose dance is likewise free and uninhibited, “Love” is too small a term to embrace the sudden explosion.

Sometimes, if we are lucky, we come across the one person that makes the Whole of It real. I was lucky enough to have a person like this in my life; I call her “My Spiritual Mother.” Mama Donna came into my life just after I’d cleared the fog of the first three years of sobriety. She listened as I puzzled out where my Heart was, what my Spirit needed, and at the same time was unafraid to show where she was wandering so that others could learn along the Way, as she was doing. She showed me by example that Life was not about sitting on the sidelines, but jumping in on the Dance. Just to show me, she did; arms flung wide, one foot above her graying hairline and her heart open to all the Universe. I will ever remember her just as the photo captured, that “Woo-Hoo!” moment.

I remember when, in a moment caught off guard, she asked me what my ‘special stone” was and without hesitation, the wiser part of me jumped in front of my mouth and said, “Lapis lazuli, because it captures the stars.” She very steadily looked into my eyes and replied, “When you find that piece that is yours, send it to me and I will make something for you.” In a moment of serendipity some time later, there was a vendor at a city-wide event that had a beautiful disc of lapis in her stall and she sold it to me, along with some other pieces at a rock bottom price. Of course, I’d totally forgotten about Mama Donna’s advice until she lovingly reminded me again.

The unexpected thing about serendipity is that it never fails to bring home a lesson that will etch itself upon your heart for all time. I sent Mama Donna the lapis, and a month or so later, this beautiful pendant came to me in the mail, gold wire wrapped. What I didn’t notice (silly child that I am) was that there was a rune woven into the wrap – ‘sowelu’ – the Sun, wholeness and completeness. A sum of all that was, is, and shall be. It is a sobering reminder to me, now and again, that everything I need is at my hands – not everything that I want.

I’m still searching to ‘find my way’ and I suspect that this will be the status quo for quite a while until I can deal with the majority of the ghosts and terrors that haunt my waking and sleeping hours. Even turning your deepest anger into a fiction sometimes fails to slay the demons of memory; I cannot fathom the inhumanity visited upon one another our race perpetrates.

Within all of the lessons handed down to me this year wrapped inside the cloak of therapy is the stark reality that we are all more than the sum of what we do. What we do on a day to day basis is not the totality of the definition of our individual being, and when we allow such, we are in danger of losing that precious essence of self.

Here we are again, just past the edge of the cliff known as the Holiday Season. It’s enough to make me want to scream “Grow your own wings! FLY! Don’t follow the path of the lemming in front of you!” We tend to be herd animals, although. Be that as it may, I love and support those of us that have found a way NOT to go along with the herd – eschew the typical Black Friday/Cyber Monday madness, toss the idea of the usual gathering of relatives into the blood sport of dysfunctional verbosity, and find a new way to celebrate what they consider special and holy no matter what time of the year. Some of us even open our hearts and doors to others related only by virtue of species, because after all is said and done, we are all related.

In the Spirit of All Things, I challenge you to find another way this year. We each carry a bit of ‘sowelu’ within ourselves; we each have all that we need, not all that we want – we simply have to learn to ask and having asked, gratefully accept. The Light that we hold holy at this time of year is with us all year long. We simply need to learn to remember this, and carry a bit of it forward each day to share with each other. The road is not so long nor quite as lonely when we share the steps with one another.

Blessed Yule, y’all.