Year and a Day Class: Working With the Fire Elementals

Thursday, June 06, 2013

This past Monday's class was AWESOME!

We've been working on calling and banishing the quarters.  We've worked with first Earth, then Air, and then we worked with Fire last night (and next week will be Water).  I'm still working on gaining confidence in what I'm doing (which isn't necessarily a bad thing -- we're only close to 4 months in to the Year and a Day), so my attempts at evoking first Earth and then Air were.....well, they weren't as good as I COULD have done.  However, Greyhart did something different last night.

In order to get us acquainted with the Fire Realm of the Fire Elementals, he had us do a meditation.  I was actually surprised at how mine went.

First, he lit a jar candle after making the room quite dark, and then had Jason and I close our eyes.  He purposefully kept descriptives vague as he guided us down the start of a path so that we would be allowed to see for our own selves what the Fire Realm looked like without any outside influence.

As I went down this path, I found myself in a bright, arid desert.  Normally, I don't like deserts.  Barring the occasional visits to Mesa, Arizona to visit my grandparents for Christmas or Spring Break when the desert temperatures weren't nearly so unpleasant, I loved seeing the saguaro in bloom and I loved the desert sunrises and sunsets.  But that was about it.

In this desert, heat waves radiated off the ground and while I was sweating like crazy and the heat was uncomfortable, it wasn't as bad as other places I've been (such as the Mojave on the way toward San Diego or Los Angeles in September when I was 15 -- OMMFG!!!!  It was so hot there, the air seemed hardly breathable!).  There was a certain life to this heat.  I don't know how to word it.

Anyway, as I continued, I came over a hill and I saw a Dragon.  He had the boxy-shaped head similar to a Chinese dragon, but he wasn't as slender as one.  He looked at least the size of a hippopotamus but still had the classic Dragon serpentine grace.  He wasn't made of scales.  He was living fire and he was going around burning things.  He was setting trees on fire and other things and it seemed to be for no apparent reason.
Before I thought the better of it, I walked down the hill toward the Dragon.  At first I was afraid he would burn me too when he turned, saw me, and stopped what he was doing.  Though there were no actual "eyeballs" in that draconian head, his gaze still struck me as being extremely curious.  "Why are you doing this?" I asked.  "Why are you burning everything?"

"It's my job to," he said simply.

I felt hesitant to say that I didn't understand.  Long have I loved Dragons, but even I know better than to annoy one.  Still, he took the lost look on my face in stride."I bring about endings and, in those endings, I bring about beginnings.  What I do here is what is done in your world.  What I burn here burns over there and as I do so, things begin again from the fertile soil of destruction.  I clear out the cluttered undergrowth that prohibits growth and I make way for healthy beginnings."

I pondered this for a moment.  It made sense.  It's not the first time I've heard of fires being set for the sole purpose of preserving the health of a forest.  In fact, the first time I heard about this was when my parents and I visited Sequoia National Forest.  The guide explained that every so often, a particular section of the forest is set afire to burn away undergrowth and cause fallen pinecones to release their seeds so that new trees will grow."If you so wish, I can do the same for you."  That statement startled me.  He told me that, basically, he could help me to burn away the old so that the new could start, which would help me to discover who I really am.  He gave me a bump on the shoulder with his snout before sauntering off to continue his work.

The next thing I knew, Greyhart's voice was calling us back, coaxing us to come back down the path out of the Fire Realm.  When we got back, he asked us to tell him of what we saw.  When Jason and I finished regaling him with our adventures, Greyhart asked us how long we thought we'd been there.

In my head I knew it had to be a mere amount of minutes, but as I thought of all I'd seen and the conversation with the Dragon that I'd had, it FELT like I'd been there at least an hour.

"I watched the clock while you guys were gone and you were gone for exactly 3 minutes."   He went on to explain that time in the other realms ran differently than they do here.  This is something I already knew, but still.  It was good to talk about.  He also asked us how we moved around in the Fire Realm.  "I started out walking when you were guiding us down the path, but when I got there, all I really had to do was think 'I'd like to be over there' and there I was.  Hell, it didn't even really take a thought."   'Cause when I thought about it, I didn't remember doing much walking.  I'd start to walk in a particular direction, but then I'd just be there in the blink of an eye and it didn't even dawn on me how "abnormal" that is.

"The laws of locomotion also don't apply the same as they do here.  It's different wherever you go," he explained.  He also expressed how pleased he was by the fact that we'd not only found the Fire Realm but that some of the creatures there had actually talked to us.

Finally, we got to the part of the evening where we practiced summoning Fire Elementals.  Naturally, because of my shy preference to let other people go before me so as to get an idea of how I want to do something, Greyhart had me go first.  Oh goody!  Maybe someday I'll get over that awkwardness of being thrown in the pool to swim first.  LoL!

Anyway, so my first attempt kinda fizzled.  The being that came through was kinda puny and its energy sputtered a bit.  It kinda felt like I'd started to bring over something of decent size but then just ended up with a fistful of fur.  Does that make any sense?   Even Greyhart, from where he sat on the couch, gave me a rather bemused look like "Really? Surely you can do better."

He stood from the couch, had me face back toward the south, put his hands on my shoulder blades to help me ground for a moment, and then told me to envision that that portal path to the Fire Realm again.  I can't remember all of what he said, but at one particular thing he said, I saw the path burst into flames on either side as it shot the rest of the way into the Fire Realm.  As soon as I felt that, I knew exactly who I wanted to find and it didn't take me but a moment.  Standing not too far away from the portal entrance was my Dragon friend.  I felt a swell of joy that he was there.  In the moments before I said the words to call him to my circle, the Dragon had already said he would come.

"Hail to the Guardians of the Watchtowers of the South. I call you forth to be a guard unto my circle. Be here now."   As I said that last while drawing a Pentagram in the air, I felt a ripple of energy shoot from my chest and I knew he was there.  I took a deep breath before I opened my eyes again to look back at Greyhart.

His eyes were wide.  "Damn!"  Jason's eyes were quite wide as well.  Greyhart asked him to tell us what he felt.

"What she called through made itself small enough to fit into the room, but I can tell it's A LOT bigger than that.  I can feel the heat emanating from the south.  I seriously feel like I'm standing next to a furnace.  When it came through, I felt like I was within feet of one of those pyrotechnic torches that they use for special effects."

That thrilled me enough, but Greyhart's words sent me straight into elation.  He basically gave me major props.  He said that that was my best conjuration ever, it was FAR BETTER than the ones I did for Air and Earth previously.  He even said that the Dragon was the biggest Elemental that had ever been called in his house.

Seriously, while he was telling me all this, I just wanted to do a friggin' happy dance.  ^_^  The crowning point was when he told me that this is why he'd taken me on as a student -- because he'd seen my potential for doing magick like this.  "You keep doing what you just did and, someday when you're leading ritual, people are gonna notice and feel what you're doing and they're gonna want to know how you did that."I thought my face was gonna crack.  ^_^

At last, when I sent the Dragon back home, I silently thanked him for coming before saying the words to send him home.  After he left, the temperature in the room, though it had been hot from the get-go and had gotten even hotter when the Dragon arrived, went back down by a noticeable degree and I felt like I was walking on air.

Book Review: "Not My Mother: A Memoir"

Saturday, June 01, 2013

This most recent Mother's Day was one of the best I'd had in years! For one thing, I had just accomplished my divorce finally after almost 5 years!  That alone was enough to have me completely cheerful even though, for the most part, Mother's Day passed pretty much like any other day, as usual.  I'm still learning to remind myself to be thankful when days like that pass without much acknowledgment.  And, this time, even when I felt slightly melancholy, all I had to do was remember that 1. I am officially free to move on with my life and 2. I have my kids.  ^_^

Well, there was something else that I got that made Mother's Day a particularly lovely one: A new book.  Believe me, I will NEVER scoff at getting a new book, especially when I'm able to get it for free! I was looking at posts by blogs that I follow here on Blogger and I spied a post on Laura DeLuca's blog where she was promoting a book called "Not My Mother: A Memoir", saying that it could be gotten for free on Amazon for Mother's Day only.

Again: Like I'm going to turn down a free book?  Not on your life!

I didn't really know much about this book when I hit the button that would have it magically delivered to my Kindle.  I knew from the brief description that the author had been through a LOT of abuse -- from her parents especially, including incest. I didn't fully read the description until after I'd received it and read it, actually.

I've read memoirs from abuse survivors before (such as "Step On a Crack, You Break Your Father's Back" -- the heart-wrenching life of Vanessa Morelli Ferris) and they're not an easy thing to read, especially if you tend toward an empathic nature.

Ashley Rae presents her story in a poignantly real fashion.  One of the hugely remarkable differences I found while reading this is that even when she speaks of the abuse she was put through by her parents and by other people, while she conveys the pain it caused, she remains miraculously free of the hate that might have taken down a weaker person.

The book starts with a memory of being with her mother, who was left quite disfigured after a murder attempt made by Ashley's biological father when she was very young. Her mother was concerned that Ashley would be embarrassed to be seen with her.  The tender-while-rough first glimpse Ashley gives us of her mother becomes hard to reconcile with the raging woman spoken of later in the book who wielded a knife at her own daughter.  And, all the while, Ashley worries she will turn out to be abusive to her own child as her mother was to her.

The book is presented in a skillfully-non-linear fashion as Ashley takes us from the first moment she discovered her pregnancy through birth, giving us glimpses of her past in well-told flashbacks.  My heart wrenched repeatedly for Ashley as she gave the details of what people had done to her as well as the struggles she had to go through to overcome, learn to forgive, and learn to find her strength to not be the doormat to these people again.

At one point she detailed a falling out with someone who had been a very close friend and as I read the details of this friend's dire hatefulness in the end, it hit very close to home as I have had similar experiences with past friends too.

One of my very favorite things about this book is that Ashley writes with zero pretense.  She does not put on a show for you.  She has no qualms in writing about things that might embarrass other writers to reveal, and for that, I would trust her far more easily than others.  Anyone who can write about the hilarity of uncontrollable bodily functions and not bat an eye while you're left collapsing in laughter over the droll wording has my utter confidence.  Not many people would have the stones to even go there.  It was things like that, as well as her unflinching revealing of her own characteristic short-comings that had me exclaiming many times throughout the book  "My gods, I would so hang out with her!"

Reading her book was like reading the book of someone I'd known all my life.  It was like reading the words of my two very best friends in the entire world.  She doesn't write in a way that makes her seem unapproachable.  If I were to see her on the street after reading this, I, admittedly, would still probably want to squeal a bit, but I could also picture hanging out with her and chatting over a cup of tea or coffee.  Plus, I have to admit, it was extremely refreshing to see the survivor's tale written from the perspective of a fellow Pagan and to see how she leaned on her faith to get past all she'd been through.

I give this book a very enthusiastic 5 Stars and I would very highly recommend this book to every Pagan I can think of.  Plus, as she details in the Afterword, 10% of all the proceeds of this book goes to help the son of a very dear late friend of hers.

Seriously guys, this book is a very worthy buy all around.  Not only are you getting a great read, but you're also contributing to a wonderful cause.

You can find this book on Amazon here, you can check out Ashley's personal website here, and you can find her on Facebook here and her book's Facebook page here.

Whoops! It's Been a While!

So sorry it's been so long since I last wrote!

Just a few days after Holly came into our family I re-started my job at McDonald's and it's been craziness ever since.  First of all, Holly is doing awesome!  She has really come out of her shell over the past few weeks and she's gotten more confident to come out of my bedroom and be around all of us without freaking out.  She's getting along really well with the kids to where she lets them pet her and play with her.  ^_^  And, as I sit here typing this, she is snoozing quite contentedly next to me on the couch (oop! Now she's snuggled on my chest).  <3<3<3<3<3  Every day she's exhibited more and more of the personality traits from her last life while still maintaining her different individuality in this life and I could seriously burst with how happy I am to have her with me again!

For instance, like Tippy, she'll come trotting right to me when I call her name and she'll be meowing all the way.  That was one of my most favorite things about Tippy's personality when she was in that life.  I love my little kitty friend so much!

Let's see....what else?  I turned 30 a couple weeks ago (oh joy!).   I'm not as bothered by it as I thought I would be, but just wait til I start getting significantly closer to 40.  We'll see how much bitching I do about that milestone!  LoL!

Regarding my job, I can't say I'm overly thrilled about it, but I'm still thankful for it.  I'm thankful for the extra money and I still manage to enjoy it most of the time.  There's just the occasional rough patch where I'm having to deal with bitchy co-workers, which I find to be worse than rude customers.  Hell, just the other day I was working the morning shift and this one chick  was just......well, lemme put it this way: I was THIS CLOSE to asking her if she needed to change her tampon.  I'm still getting used to being back at McDonald's and trying to find my multi-tasking groove (which I've not had much of in the first place) and I was helping with Drive-Thru.  Well, apparently my multi-tasking skills aren't as good as hers which, she felt, meant that it was ok for her to treat me like an inferior plebian piece of trash.

Finally, when she decided to snappishly demand my headset and shove me off to other duties, I had it.  "There's no need to be rude!" I barked.  She and another co-worker tried to justify it because of my, apparent, ineptness to do the job to their satisfaction.  "Huh uh!" I snapped.  "I don't care! I'm trying my best and this is only my second week back on the job, so can it!"   I decided a long time ago that I won't be treated like anybody's bitch.  

That's not to say that I don't understand the frustration they were feeling, but even T knew that I was new back on the job.  I wanted to smack her the worst because SHE KNEW.

Meh.  So, it took me a little while to get past that bad mood.  Admittedly, one of the things that cheered me up a bit was watching A get her Karma.  That morning was heavy with rain and, while I was sequestered off in an out-of-the-way corner of the Drive-Thru to just take orders for one of the Drive-Thru lanes (fine by me), I watched A suddenly have to deal with a leak in the ceiling right above where she was taking orders for the other lane and dealing with some of the drink orders.  I admit, every time she wailed about getting dripped on and futilely searched for a way to shield herself from the drips, I giggled a bit.  Still, I reminded myself not to be TOO gleeful lest Karma hike a brow in my direction.  I took a few (smirking) deep breaths, turned back to my business, and ignored everything else to do with it.

But, barring all that, my job has been alright.  :-)  Barring the fact that my feet hurt so bad by the end of the day that I'm ready to bawl my head off, that is.

My Year and a Day classes were, basically, on vacation for the past two weeks and will be resuming this upcoming Monday.  ^_^  I'm very excited for that.

Overall, that's pretty much all that's been going on over the past few weeks.

Oh!  And I'm in the middle of creating a website on Weebly!  :-)   I haven't published it yet, but I've been trying to get things set up beyond the mere bare bones.  ^_^   I think I'll be able to do more of the in-depth things on there that I've been wanting to do here such as have pages from my Book of Shadows as well as bits of my writings.  ^_^   I'm working on it.  I hope to have it up soon.