Aphrodite Patronage Prayer

Aphrodite announced her presence in my life when I was 23 years old, and I have been her worshiper and Priestess ever since (see “Remembering Morning Glory” for that story).  Today is Thursday, the day I typically honor her specifically in my weekly worship cycle, and I felt compelled to recite the prayer I wrote many years ago pledging myself to her service.  As I haven’t shared anything here in quite some time, I felt it would be appropriate to share it today.


Heavenly Aphrodite, beloved from afar; ever chaste, always longing, glowing pure but ever burning with a needful desire. Golden Aphrodite, shapely and enchanting; the curve of your hips and your breasts and your lips, whispering words wickedly wondrous, setting pulses racing; entangled, entwined, enraptured by your whiles, at your whim as you beguile. Black Aphrodite, Mistress of Night, when lovers meet with shades drawn and lanterns low; indulging in your gifts of love, laughter and sweet fulfillment, finally falling exhausted into sated sleep.

Beloved Goddess, I cherish your many blessings and I pay you due honor. I pray you accept my words as an outward sign of my love and devotion, but ever know that I will always hold you fast within my heart.

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In The New Year: Back To Reality

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Like most people, I see the start of a new year as providing an opportunity to make a fresh start in some areas of my life. I haven’t made any official resolutions this year, but I did sign up for a 365 day meditation challenge, I mean to finally get back to exercising regularly, I want to eat more healthfully, and I’ve been planning on picking up an instrument again.  This morning I had cookies for breakfast.  Yesterday I took two naps and exercised not at all.  I have this feeling that the New Year hasn’t really started yet, that I’m still on “holiday time.”  And holiday time is permissive.  Holiday time is for napping and feasting and slothing.  Holiday time is not for starting new projects and working on healthy habits.

I realized that I do this every year.  I make some positive plans for the New Year, but when the New Year starts, I don’t start, too.  I have this vague notion that the New Year will really begin when I go back to work, but I’ll still come home to a festive house stuffed with booze, cookies, and cheese.  I know I’ll snuggle up with a plate of leftovers amid the glow of the tree and watch a Christmas special I hadn’t gotten to yet.  And before I know it I’ll find myself in the third week of January with a dead tree, another 10 lbs of holiday weight, and broken dreams of healthy habits and time spent productively.

I’m decidedly not one of those people who drags out the Yuletide decorations right after finishing their Thanksgiving pie.  And I would enthusiastically vote in favor of a public ordinance prohibiting Christmas lights on all buildings before December 1.  But when the Yuldetide really gets going for me, I do love it.  And like many Pagans I know, I celebrate it as a true 12-day tide, starting with Mother’s Night right before the Solstice and ending with the secular New Year.  I know a good many people who take their Christmas/Yule stuff down on New Year’s Day, but that’s always seemed way too early to let go of it for me.  Granted most of those who take it down so early are the Thanksgiving decorators, so I can understand how they have gotten their fill of the merry twinkling and sparkling by January 1.  Years ago I decided that waiting until the Epiphany, Christian Twelfth Night, to take down my decorations seemed a reasonable amount of time to leave things up (regardless of the fact that I wasn’t Christian).

But having the Yule up that far into January (let’s face it, I never actually get it down on January 5 or 6; I just start to think and feel guilty about it still being up), delays for me the onset of the New Year.  Most people I know are no longer celebrating the Yuletide at this point. Almost everyone is back at work, the kids are back at school, and the gyms and Weight Watchers meetings are packed with those who have accepted that Christmas is over and the New Year has begun.  But as long as my Yule is up, I’m still in that permissive holiday time, and I can’t take advantage of the enthusiastic New Year’s élan permeating my social sphere.  I remain stuck in the hedonistic past instead of advancing toward the healthful new day.

So today, January 2, 2017, I am taking the Yuletide decorations down.  The tree will lay in my back yard, providing shelter for the birds a few weeks earlier this year. I’ll pack up the leftovers to take to work for my coworkers (on a different floor than mine). And instead of Christmas lights, I will bask in the glow of the year’s new dawn.  May it light my way as I create a more prosperous and productive me.  And I’ll start right after this last cookie. . ..

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Happy New Year!

Midwinter’s Eve

Stars softly shine in silent stillness
In a Midwinter sky so cold and clear
Nature is swathed in deepest darkness
As we stand on the threshold of the year

Outside our walls the night’s uncertain
But inside we are warm and keep good cheer
Yule fires burn to light the darkness
And their glow helps us all to persevere 

Gathered together our hearts grow hopeful
For the end of the longest night draws near
Joyous we wait within the darkness
As we sing for the Sun to reappear

You can hear a rough recording of the tune to this song on my YouTube page.

Blessed Solstice and a very Merry Yuletide to one and all!


 

Observations About Depression

Depression is a disease that makes you feel ashamed just as part of its symptoms. Doing things, everyday things like dishes, cleaning, laundry, can just be beyond me. I feel lazy and useless and I fight with myself and maybe win a minor victory. Today I put the leftover spaghetti sauce in a Ziploc and put it in the basement freezer. I put the ice cream maker bowl down there, too, to make room in the freezer upstairs. I got my clothes out of the dryer and put them in a basket. I put in a load of whites that had been sitting down there a long time. I brought the clean clothes upstairs. I gave Lord his meds and fed the cats. I put the dishes in the drainer away. I fed myself a real dinner.

There was a point today where giving Lord his meds, feeding the cats, and putting some sort of junk in my tummy would be as much as I could manage. So fighting through and doing some things on my to-do list felt like a victory. And then I could do no more. The migraine almost felt like a relief–I had an excuse for being useless that my mind would accept. I reflect on this evening’s struggle to keep from curling up in a ball in bed and it occurs to me that there are people for whom these things are not a struggle. They just come home from work and do the chores and answer their emails and listen to their voicemail and open the mail without a second thought. I try to remember a time when I felt like that. There was a time. There still are to some degree. But most often I go back and forth in my head a hundred times, making a plan, paring it down, throwing it out, and then maybe doing some things. I tell myself, “just do another task, and then one more. Keep going. Fight.” I may win a skirmish in this hour, or maybe the next one. But I’m just so sick and tired of the War.

You are YOU, Not Your Titles and Positions

These words came pouring out of me last week, and I decided to share them on Facebook.  The post received so much positive feedback and comments from people saying that they needed to hear this message that I’ve decided to post it here as well.

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Ok kids, here’s some wisdom I have gained over my 42 years that I feel is important to share.

Do not allow a title or position you hold to become entwined with your identity. If you do, you will hold on to that position/title much longer than is healthy for you and the people affected by you holding it. You may behave in paranoid and abusive ways in order to hold on to it and do great harm to others. When you inevitably no longer hold that position or title you will suffer a severe identity crisis which can cause you great existential pain, and your behavior may lose you treasured friends and valued colleagues.

Know who you are at the core of your being. Nurture yourself and accept who you are. You are not your positions and titles. Those things are temporary and you must treat them as such. Wear them when they can help you further your True Will, but discard them when they no longer serve you, when you can no longer serve others by holding on to them. Identify and nurture others to take on those positions and titles when it is time for you to put them down, but know that giving up that position/title means giving up control. That is a good thing. You have to let it go in order to grow. The new title/position holder(s) may do things differently and have other ideas about how to serve in said position. That is ok. Different doesn’t necessarily mean that it is harmful or wrong. Regardless of how you feel about it, you will no longer be steering that ship. It does mean that you must accept that the ship you worked to keep afloat could sink or crash. It doesn’t mean that it will, but you must accept the possibility because you have to accept that you are not at the helm and that it is out of your control. All things come to an end. But that does not negate the good work you did while you were in that position or when you held that title. You did that work, and its effects have been woven into the Wyrd. That will not change regardless of what the future holds.

Know when it is time, and let go and move on with respect and grace. You are still YOU. And you can do great things in your next endeavor.

Eulogies for the Living: “The Missy”

My good friend and heart-sister, Rev. Melissa Ashton (previously Burchfield) married the love of her life, Rev. William Ashton II, last month in her new home of Longmont, CO. I was fortunate to not only be able to attend but to serve as her Matron of Honor.  During the ceremony they allowed for a time where guests could come forward and speak words or make offerings on behalf of the bride or groom to help everyone see different facets of them through the eyes of their friends and family.  I found this to be an absolutely lovely idea, and it was easily the part of the ceremony when I was in most need of the tissues I smartly packed into the pocket of my magnificent Matron of Honor dress.  But not only did it allow all of us to see Missy and William through each other’s eyes, it allowed them to see as well.

We don’t always take the time or create the space where we can really express how we feel about each other.  I’m sure glad that I had this opportunity to tell The Missy.  I think about the eulogy I wrote on this blog for A.J., and I wish I would have told him those things while he was still here to listen.   I will look for and create opportunities to eulogize those I love in the here and now and not wait until they are gone before I express how I feel.

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What can I say about Missy?

I have often called her “The Missy,” and I’ve finally figured out why.

It’s because she deserves an article, because she is a Force of Nature; like The Sun, The Moon, The Ocean, The Wind.

She glows, she sparkles, she moves you, blows through you, crashes over you with her expansive presence.

Some people can’t stand too close to her majesty.  They are blinded by her light, overwhelmed by her heat, or knocked down by the sheer force of her Magnificent Missyness.  Those people are unworthy of The Missy.

But those of us who have proven ourselves worthy have found ourselves blessed beyond measure.  She enlivens us.  She buoys us up.  She shares with us her mysteries and gently blows away our fears.

She blesses us with her music that gets stuck in our heads and makes its home in our hearts, always ready to burst forth when we need to hear it.  She blesses us with the way her nose crinkles up as we relish her laughter and bask in her smile.  She blesses us with the power of her intellect, whether expounding on blood diseases and medical procedures, writing an ADF study program, or analyzing a ritual.

THE MISSY GETS SHIT DONE.

THE MISSY KNOWS HER RIGHTS.

THE MISSY WORKS THAT GHETTO BOOTY.

Because The Missy remembers where she comes from as she blazes new trails; ever learning, ever growing, ever striving to be the best Missy she can be.

And with William, the most worthy of partners, standing beside her, she’s going to continue to change the world for the better—like a mutha’ fuckin’ adult.

Big. Red. Heart.

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Petrarchan Sonnet to Hestia

Dear Lady, as I lift my voice in praise
To thank you for your precious gift of flame;
I feed the fire so it will remain
To warm and cheer me through my darkest days.
You light my way at night when the Sun’s rays
Have gone and the full Moon’s begun to wane.
Oh Hestia, I call up on your name!
Within my heart this love will always blaze.

My child, your prayers of worship I have heard
As I have watched you tending to my fire.
The buoyant words wing skyward, like a bird
That soars upon the thermals to the spire
Of great Olympos.  May my blessings gird
Your hearth and heart to lift your spirits higher.

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Pious Titus honors Hestia, too.

In Magic, You Must Ask for What You NEED

A few weeks ago my indoor-only cat Titus ran away. Nick and I were literally just about to leave to go to A.J. Gooch’s memorial service at Tredara. The car was packed, I had peed, and I was just doing the “cat check” to make sure no one would be stuck in a closet all weekend. I quickly spotted Spike, Lord, and Lilly, but I didn’t see Titus. I called downstairs to my husband Nick to see if he saw him. Nick didn’t see him, so he went around and checked Titus’s various beds and hidey-holes where he was likely to be, but he still didn’t find him. Starting to panic, he continued to search the house while I started to look outside. Titus had once before slipped out the front door without us noticing, and we figured it was likely this had happened while Nick was preoccupied with packing the car. But we couldn’t find him.

We did “All The Things” you should do when your indoor cat goes missing:  hung up flyers, talked to neighbors, posted on social media, went door to door with flyers, set up traps and a trail cam, put out his litter box and sprinkled his litter around—you name it, we did it. And of course since we’re us, we also made offerings, did spells, and prayed for his return. The spellwork was difficult for me, though. I couldn’t get a clear picture in my head of how he would get home because there were various scenarios I could imagine. I mostly focused on creating a hearth fire beacon to draw him back to us one way or another. The days turned into weeks, and I became increasingly worried, anxious, and desperate.

On the morning of March 18 during my daily devotion I pulled the letter “Epsilon” which means, “You desire to see offspring of righteous marriages.” But that day my brain interpreted it as, “You desire to see the outcome of righteous marriages.” And that word “outcome” jumped out at me. I desire to see the outcome. In my omen journal I wrote, “Need to do the things that will achieve the outcome I desire.” But as I already said, I had a hard time visualizing that outcome other than Titus being home. So I thought:

“OK, first things first. When he was lost the other time, how did we get him back?”

“Somebody found him and called the number on a flyer that we had posted.”

“And how did she find him?”

“She saw him hiding under a bush when she was out walking her dog.”

And then it hit me what I needed to do. I needed Titus to be seen. We had gotten reports of people seeing him in one place or another, but they were always after the fact. It felt like playing whack-a-mole. But now I knew what I needed to do. I picked up the picture of Titus I had placed on the hearth and held it in the light of the sun. And I said, “Let him be seen.” I visualized an obscuring mist that covered him disappearing in the light of the sun and him being out in the open being seen.

The very next day I received a phone call at 7:30 am. My heart leapt when I realized it was a local number with a name I didn’t recognize. The woman on the other end of the phone asked me if I was Diane, and I said that I was. She said, “I can see your cat. I’m looking it him right now. He has the orange-stripy tail from the picture; I know it’s him.” She told me where, and I immediately drove up there. I arrived on her porch and she pointed and said, “there, you can see him right there!” And sure enough, there was Titus, sitting on a vine and brush covered hillside. It was the first time we had received a live report about him, and it was the first time I had seen him with my own eyes in almost three weeks. I went to him, but he was too afraid and dove back under the vines. I didn’t catch him that day, but now that I had seen him and knew where he was holed up, I visualized him in the trap. I went back up the next morning singing, “Gonna catch my kitty and bring him home,” over and over. I saw him again and tried to go to him, but once again he scampered off, this time underneath the deck of the house next to the hill. I moved one of the traps right next to the deck, and when I checked the trap again he was in it and meowing up a storm.

Once I realized what I needed, I was able to focus on making that happen. I needed for Titus to be seen. And that is what led to him finally coming home.

Titus on bed