IRIS OF AVALON

NEW RELEASE!

Iris of Avalon, the fourth book in the series, Seven Sisters of Avalon, is now available on Amazon.com in both ebook and paperback formats.

Iris is the longest of the four books coming in at five hundred pages. It presented quite a challenge to write because this priestess princess did not have an easy time on her journey. In a new take on the Snow White story, our heroine faces losses and challenges that would thwart even the most stalwart spirit.

I hope you enjoy her story, mourn her losses, and celebrate her triumphs. Through her time in the “Britain Beyond,” Iris learns to externalize and to feel as much for others as she does for herself. Thrown into the challenge of instant sovereignty, this independent woman must learn to trust others and accept their help.

Through Iris, you meet a cast of interesting characters, including the “Boy King,” Prince John. Handsome King Marcus wins Iris’s heart and passion early on and sets her up for the challenge of her life. She must also tame her wild child stepdaughter and shape her into the queen she is destined to be. This turns out to be no easy tasks and as a result, Iris goes into worlds she never expected to enter in the far reaches of Cornwall.

What’s Coming Up?

With Iris of Avalon, we are now halfway through the Seven Sisters of Avalon series. Follow each of the seven sisters’ stories, leading up to the climactic ending with our eighth book.

Next up is Jasmine of Avalon, which will retell the Cinderella story and perhaps another as well.

Children love fairy tales, but adults do as well. The Seven Sisters of Avalon blends post-Arthurian fiction with a twist on familiar stories.  These books do contain a few sexual situations and descriptions. They are not recommended for younger readers and we advise appropriate discretion.

One day my soul just opened up

One day my soul just opened up
and things started happening
things I can’t quite explain
I mean
I cried and cried like never before
I cried tears of ten thousand mothers
I couldn’t even feel anything because
I cried ‘til I was numb.

One day my soul just opened up
I felt this overwhelming pride
what I was proud of only God knows!
Like the pride of a hundred thousand fathers
basking in the glory of their newborn sons
I was grinning from ear to ear!

One day my soul just opened up I started laughing
and I laughed for what seemed like forever
wasn’t nothing particularly funny going on but I laughed anyhow
I laughed the joy of a million children playing in the mud
I laughed until my sides ached
Oh God! It felt so good!

One day, my soul just opened up
There were revelations, annihilations, and resolutions
feelings of doubt and betrayal, vengeance and forgiveness
memories of things I’d seen and done before
of places I’d been, although I didn’t know when
there were lives I’d lived
people I’d loved
battles I’d fought
victories I’d won
and wars I’d lost.

One day, my soul just opened up
and out poured all things
I’d been hiding
and denying
and living through
that had just happened moments before.

One day, my soul just opened up
and I decided
I was good and ready!
I was good and ready
to surrender my life to God.

So, with my soul wide open,
I sat down
wrote Her a note
and told her so.

iyanla-vanzant

Iyanla Vanzant, 1998, “One Day My Soul Just Opened Up” Published by Touchstone

My Granny, Mary Frances Mitchell

Granny: I’m With Her Because…Damn

When in doubt, seriously, listen to my late Granny. Granny knows. You had to know my Granny and I am so sorry you didn’t if you didn’t. She was an amazing person and is my greatest “Yes, I actually knew her” hero of my entire life. More on Mary Frances Mitchell in a minute.

…And that’s a wrap

I know I am not the only one who is so grateful the election is over. I am sick of thinking about it, so I will use my blog to think about it some more. It will not likely be the last time, but it is getting close. I want to rear view mirror this entire hellish process ASAFP.

Regardless of how you voted, the deed is done. From here forward, the only “highest and best” avenue is through love. This is not Skittles rainbows and frolicking puppies, but a true focus of ascension. Let’s quote the Bible, often cited by those wising to validate their denigration of others. It says, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love.”

Fear defeats progress

At its heart, this election was not about legislation. Legislation doth cometh and may or may not prove harmful to us or those dear to us. Follow through sometimes happens and other times, does not for any variety of reasons. Still, there are some fundamental proposals that I consider to be truths:

  1. Ultimately, we cannot control the outcome of an election beyond our own vote.
  2. This election was about control on both sides. It was about people fearing their inability to control others. The conjoined twin of this is the fear of others controlling us.
  3. Fear does not advance us.
  4. Harming others with our words or actions because they believe differently than we do does not advance us.
  5. Stooping to the lower levels of actions that less evolved people choose does not advance us.
  6. We advance ourselves and all of humanity, not just the US, by behaving with integrity.
  7. Raising the level of love, tolerance, and acceptance through our own actions and deeds advances us.

What can we control, really?

Ultimately, regardless of how passionately each side voices their opinion, it is to individuals to control their vote. It is the same with how we choose to affect the energy of a nation. We cannot effectively or predictably change what another person does or feels. What we can do is sheriff our own integrity and behavior. We can control the energy that WE put out into the world.

I choose the same three expressions that 1 Corinthians identifies: Faith, Hope, & Love and the greatest of these is still Love. I am not escaping into psychobabble and New Age silliness. No head in the sand or denial of realities here. Consider me dialed in. But I also choose to love my country and love the people in it (minorities and majorities). I have faith in a better future, even if there are disappointments along the way.

“BUT WHAT DO WE TELL THE CHILDREN?”

This common response to the 2016 election mirrors what I heard when the SCOTUS equalized marriage.  We teach them – and more importantly, show them – how to be good people. Teach them tolerance, kindness, and how to love. We lead by example. While we are at it, we can teach one another by example.

My Granny alliance is solid

One of the kindest people I ever met was my Granny Mitchell. I lived across the country when my mother married Grover Miller two or three years after my father died. When I came home to visit, I asked Granny what she thought of him. Her reply was the worst thing I ever heard her say about someone:

“Honey, some people are just harder to love.”

I am with Granny.

challenge accepted

Crone: Consulting the Definitive Resource and Accidentally Self-Googling

It is October, right on the brink of the season of the Crone and here I am, crawling over the finish line into my own Cronedom. If life is a marathon, I arrived here with my nipples bleeding, devoid of sweat to lose, and likely having lost control of my bowels at some point. Fortunately, most of this may be filed under “metaphorically speaking.”

I intended to write a post about my Croning, which appears to be official. As I am wont to do, I went into Google Images to search for an eye-catching, marketing appropriate Croney image, without usage restrictions, of course, to use as a header for this column. Guess what I found as an official result when searching for the word “crone?”

crone, aging, maturing

vanilla_cupcakeThat is correct. Right there next to the baby toilet or bidet or whatever that is, some lovely besoms, an erupting volcano, and a feel good sunflower, I found…me. Well, holy shit. Since Google is the Encyclopedia Britanica of our era, it must be true. I am croned. Had I known it was coming so quickly, I would have baked a cake. Goddess knows if I had, I could have eaten it before I went carb free.

The photo actually accompanied an article I wrote that received some attention called “Romancing the Crone” sometime back when I thought I had a clue about going into Cronedom.

My last period was in July, so I guess that qualifies since this is October. I am not officially menopausal until a year without my uterus making every place I rest for more than ten minutes to look like someone should call in a CSI team. This is, however, officially missing enough periods to be rolling quickly down the Hill of Aged. I contributed well to the population with six healthy babies shooting out of my body over the past forty years, so I have no regrets or longing where my fertility is concerned.

The youngest of my six got his drivers license today, actually at seventeen instead of sixteen. My nineteen-year-old moved out of the house the first week of this month and shows no interest in visiting. He relishes his independence, has a great job, and is full of success and vigor. This means the two youngest of my birdies sit perched on the side of my emptying next, ready to jump.

So what are my Crone symptoms?

Besides Google identifying me as a search result for “Crone?”

My youngest grandchild of my two just turned twelve.

Only one of my children lives at home for the first time since 1980.

The senior menu at Denny’s is mine for the taking if I choose to do so and get a senior discount at the thrift store I frequent.

I have outlived my father by four years and in five years, will have outlived my mother.

The people I went to school with are starting to drop dead like flies.

I eat according to the Keto diet to lose weight not due to vanity, but because my left knee is irritable. I do not wish to stress it to the point that it makes me immobile again. My weight loss journal, is at www.fatasticjourney.com and there is a Facebook group you can join for it as well.

Without my reading glasses, I am blind as a bat.

My memory is not what it used to be.

I hate talking on the telephone and will sometimes yell, “Get offa my lawn” when someone phones me and hang up. Sheesh, text or email me already.

When I drop something critical onto the floor, rather than swoop down and grab it immediately, I look at it and think, “Damn.”

Clothes shopping involves the prime directive of, “Can I sleep in this?”

Although my patience is completely shot, my ability to give a shit about most things is also depleted, so it is kind of a toss up.

It’s official. I am old.

Like Tony Soprano’s bullet, I did not see it coming. I thought of it as a concept and embraced it fully. Truly, I still do, but that makes it no less surprising to find it is here. I have always loved getting older and I still love everything about it except for that whole mortality thing. My younger years hold little appeal for me except to correct some real screw ups I made. I like myself so much more now.

And yet, I feel the Death Crone sniffing around, even though women in my family often live to triple digits old.

I feel something slipping out of my grasp that I need.

The suspicion that I wasted so much of “it” lurks in my mind and I can’t shake it.

Meditating and praying these thought away helps, but does not cure.

One blink and it was almost gone.

The Crone Me is here and I do enjoy her company, although many do not. My nurturing side does not come forward as much. My filters are a bit sloppy.

Part of me wants to cry, “Please don’t forget me. I might disappear.”

Another part of me wants to set the world on fire just to watch it burn.

Another day has passed and the thought lingers that I did not engage enough, did not do enough, did not create enough, did not experience enough.

I suspect that once I get the flow figured out, it will be time to cross yet another finish line.

Place Your Bets

“Well this low down bitchin’ got my poor feet a itchin’. Can’t you see the deuce is still wild? Baby, I can’t stay, you got to roll me and call me the tumblin’ dice.”  Rolling Stones

I look at how long it has been since I updated this journal and it makes me uncomfortable, but then I think about all I have accomplished in the interim. I see the road clear, Abre Camino, as my favorite shop candle says, to return to routine writing and the idea excites me.

Eric and I began the CUSP (Climbing Up the Spiral Pathway) spiritual tradition back in 1997 and each year, it seems like it becomes more defined in our lives. This year, the pattern was undeniable. In CUSP, you work hard during the “light” of the year from Spring Equinox until November 1 and then you rest for the dark of the year. Since March, I have worked harder than I have ever worked in my life. For most of my life, even in the darkest of times, I have been able to look around and think, “I am blessed.” Sometimes, I had to reach for that feeling because wow, there were some truly dark times.

Really dark.

Scary dark.

This year, however, I can feel the vibration in my blood as I process the full meaning of “I am richly blessed…abundantly blessed.”  Never in a million years would I, if I thought about it a year ago, or two years ago, expect that I would end up here. My life has been one of ongoing struggle. I am good at dealing with adversity, but in the interest of honesty, I have to admit that I have spent most of my life at the end of a fraying rope. My book Leaving Kentucky in the Broad Daylight talks a bit about growing up in Kentucky in the 1960s in a very eccentric family. For the sake of decorum, there were things I left out. That book goes up to 1978 and after that, spending time as the wife of a military enlisted man who struggled with his own set of emotional problems (<==not Eric), things were…complicated, to put it mildly.

After he and I divorced for the final time (there were two of those) in 1996, I met and married Eric and although love and faith were rarely in short supply, we worked hard to overcome the oppression of other deficiencies. The ebb and tide of depression swept over both of us, usually not at the same time. Our communication often suffered. The bleakness of ongoing disenfranchisement wore on us. Next year, we celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary. This year marks twenty years of being together. Two decades. I was with my first husband for seventeen years, so this is my longest ongoing relationship with someone to whom I did not give birth.

This year, Eric made some career choices that took him to a good place and put his degree in Business to work, as well as his experience as an electrical contractor and business owner. His previous job was as a Veteran Service Officer, working through the Department of Veteran Affairs (the VA) to secure benefits for the clients who came through his office. When several years at that job began to trigger some of his own anxieties, he took time off to regroup, so this new endeavor was quite a change for him. It was different for us as well to suddenly not have him at home full time. I am grateful he got such intensive time to spend with our boys as they become young men. Dylan graduated from high school almost two years ago and was taking college classes online at home and Nathan is home schooled for high school, so the four of us were together most of the time. He got a unique opportunity to get to know his kids that most fathers do not have as nearly as I can tell.

Now life is very different.

Nathan is about to get his drivers license and is a senior in high school, eager to start work. He is the fourth of my six children who I have taught to drive, putting my life into their hands and sometimes hanging onto my last nerve by the skin of my teeth.

Dylan just moved out and is working full time in Folsom, California at a call center and loves it. Eric works long hours and is tremendously successful as the licensed contractor for the solar power company, Sunfinity, in North Highlands, California. He has a long commute, but has managed it with tremendous aplomb.

My time of mothering is coming to an end for the first time since January 1978 for my own children and since 1971 if you include my mother’s children. The croning is upon me and I welcome it. There are no lamentations for what was. There is joy for what is to come. I do smile nostalgically at the success of my children. I do miss their little arms around my neck, their sweet smiles, their young selves, but I do not grieve. They gave me the gift of that time and I celebrate the adults they are now.

My own shop, the Botánica de La Reina is doing very well. It is still in its growing stages, but we have a loyal clientele and we are looking to expand into a full storefront with more than weekend hours in a year or so. The shop inventory, most of which I make, is now stable and it is just a matter of showing up for shop hours and making sure the inventory is never completely depleted. It is a joy to help so many people through magical advice, cleansings, and instruction. I love what I do and sometimes, it is difficult to leave my little shop on Sunday night, knowing I will not see it again until the following Saturday.

Now that festival time is over and the dark of the year is coming, I look forward to a quiet descent and a transformative cocooning. I am paring down on obligations and energy drains. I am slowing my pace as we go into Fall and the days shorten. My focus is on writing, so I look forward to more blogging and to finishing Iris of Avalon, the fourth book in the Sisters of Avalon series. It is developing so nicely and I fully expect to hit my launch date of December 2016 or, as I did last year, maybe even publish earlier if I get through the rewrites and edits in time. I also plan a book called The Root, The Rose, and the Dowsing Rod on Southern American Folk magic. It complements my presentation of the same name that Pantheacon in San Jose selected for its agenda in February, so the clock is ticking on that one. I also intend to launch the “Little Book” series, which will involve literally “little books” on candle making, energy magic, ethics, numerology, dreams, etc. I am excited to get back into writing again.

My other recent project is a different approach on my health and weight loss. A number of Universal pushes and shoves sent me to the Atkins diet, which I have tried before without success. I began induction almost two weeks ago and I have to say, after the first few days, it has been nearly effortless. I have lost five pounds, which is nothing in the yo-yo of my weight loss experience, but I can feel my body reshaping and test strips show I am in ketosis, burning fat instead of carbs. I have started taking prebiotics and probiotics to help my insides function better. For food, I have given up sugars, grains, anything that doesn’t swim, fly, run, or grow in the ground. I feel healthier and stronger. I have stopped taking supplements for heartburn and acid stomach at last. I sleep better. I have a bit of the “Atkins flu” where my energy is low while my body learns its new way of finding energy. I am good with that. My body needs “new” and needs to adapt its metabolism because the old way was getting me nowhere fast.

My father died at age 51 of a ruptured ventricle due to occluded arteries. My mother died at age 60 from a systemic infection she got from repeated stomach cauterization to stop bleeding caused by decades of pharmaceutical drug use. I turned 55 in early September and I am not done by a long shot. If I die anytime soon, do not comfort yourself by imagining that I made my peace, lived a full life, and went quietly into that darkest night. It will be a lie. I have things to do of Grandma Moses proportions and if I do not get to do them, I will be sorely irritated.

I have never had a birthday affect me before in terms of my own mortality. I love growing older and I love myself and my life more as I do. I have spent so much time in adversity that now that I am not quite so much in adversity, I want to plug into each moment and live it to the fullest. This birthday, I really felt the weight of the years. Maybe it was that I stopped bleeding shortly before. I do not grieve my fertility. Goddess knows I used it plenty. What I felt was a breathless anxiety that I might only have five years left, or ten, or even twenty. It felt like it was not nearly enough, that I had wasted so much time trying to survive that I never actually lived. Then I rationalized that any of us at any age could have only five years or five minutes left for all we know and the anxiety quieted. It did not go away, but it shuffled off into the corner, put its thumb into its mouth, and went to sleep.

I see so many of my clients who do not enjoy the blessings in their lives because they are consumed with the fear that those blessings will go away. They give over their power to the demon of What If. I have no time or patience for that. I am going balls to the wall on life from now on, even if that means going balls to the wall on getting enough sleep, saying no to jobs I would have begged for a year ago, and disappointing friends who hoped I could say yes to this request or that. I will do less, but will put great quality into what I do. I need to focus my time and energy on what creates a positive outcome for however much longer I have. I am rolling the dice and taking a chance that what I am meant to do in this life will be what floats to the surface and the extraneous time and energy black holes will fade away.

My goals for the dark of the year are to secure a working command of Spanish so I can have better communication with my wonderful customers, finish Iris, write The Root, The Rose, and The Dowsing Rod, and lose a bunch of weight. If I am going to gamble, it’s going to be on me.

“When I awoke today suddenly nothing happened, but in my dreams I slew the dragon
And down this beaten path and up this cobbled lane
I’m walking in my own footsteps once again

“And you say, ‘Just be here now, forget about the past. Your mask is wearing thin.’ 
Let me throw one more dice. I know that I can win
I’m waiting for my real life to begin”

 Colin Hay

Update: Immediately after posting this, I found this article in my Facebook feed. How perfectly perfect:  http://www.rebellesociety.com/2016/10/14/caracampbell-aries-fullmoon/

wolf

Women Who Run With the Wolves…Then Get Eaten By Them

As is easy to see, I have not updated here for a long time. There are the “on top” reasons and there are the “underneath” reasons, just as there is with anything. The main on top reason is that a nonprofit organization with which I am involved hosted a major fund-raising festival in June and for a few months before that, not only did I have a ton to do for the festival itself, but I had to create an inventory surplus for my shop, Botánica de La Reina, because we were vendors at the festival. Since I last wrote here, two apprentices blessed me with their time, Hunter and Dena. Dena was ill for the month before festival, but Hunter worked long, strenuous hours helping me get ready, then after the festival was over, Dena helped me rebuild the shop – we had to strip it out for festival – and has been in the shop with me working since then. My shop is only open on weekends, but we spend the other five days making product. I think few people realize the demands of running a shop where you make the majority of the inventory yourself. I sure didn’t get it before I actually did it. For weeks, I did little but make incenses, potions, spell kits, candles, and other products.

In the midst of all of this, around the first part of May, Eric, my husband, went back to work after a fifteen-month break. The fifteen months were wonderful because he was home all of the time and got to spend quality time with our sons, who are sixteen and (now) nineteen. It was really good for their relationship with their dad. He and I got used to being around one another pretty much 24/7.

The time off without his salary was challenging financially, as you can imagine. Losing a primary income can definitely show you where the rubber meets the road. So there were blessings and there were struggles, but we made it through and for that, I am truly grateful.

He is now the electrical contractor and license holder for a new solar company in the Sacramento area called Sunfinity. It is growing quickly and performing well, so it is quite a blessing to us. He works more than full time and is suddenly gone most of his waking hours. He also comes into the shop with me on Sundays so that we are not apart all of the time. It was an abrupt change for all of us and we are still adapting. They are also hiring installers, electricians, and salespeople, so if anyone is local to Sacramento and needs a good job, private message me and I will give you the details.

Less than two months before Eric stopped working at the Veteran’s Building in February of 2015, Nathan started homeschooling and Dylan graduated high school and began online college classes. I went from having quiet days alone, the status quo for years, to having everyone home all the time. That also was quite an adjustment. Now, it is only the boys here with me during the day. Alone time never happens unless I make a point to leave the house. I eventually got used to that as well.

Since Eric returned to work, there has been a flurry of catch up, of getting bills current, of purchasing necessities like tires for the cars, a new bed for Nathan, ingredients for the inventory I made for the festival, and such. This week was the first in months without a lot of extraneous stuff for me to do and where I could, theoretically, focus on my writing. Here it is Thursday and I have taken care of busy work. I updated this website structurally and revamped the page for Tarot consults. I watched a full season of “The Tudors.” I did the usual housework. I did consults for clients. I started a purge of sugars, flours/gluten/anything processed from my diet. I wrote an article for my iPinion column. I did everything except work on my books.

In fact, I have written on my books, two of which are due by the end of the year, only a handful of hours this year. I am still looking to see what I am running from there since I love to write and it fills my spirit in a profound way. I keep making excuses and finding other things to do.

Eric asked me how I felt recently and the most accurate description I could give him is that I feel like I never stop running from a pack of wolves. I am tired to the point of collapse, but I do not sleep nights unless I am medicated. The things that used to bring me joy like writing or my shop leave me feeling empty and numb. I cannot seem to work up the positive emotions that used to be so much a part of my life and my personality. All things good feel drained away from me.

Exploration of the spirit, of emotions, and of the psyche in general are not foreign to me. I help people do it all the time and I am good at it. I have used all of my standard procedures and cannot seem to pinpoint anything in particular that is dissatisfying or out of sort. It is not simply reaction to change. I got over that a long time ago, which is quite a feat for a Virgo. The very air around me feels off. I have done the walk back I recommend to clients, where I go back to the last time things felt right and then move slowly forward, looking for the ways everything seemed to go off course. I have found nothing significant or notable. I have done this through meditation, so I could be assured that I was going in deeply and not just on the surface level.

My inclination is toward seclusion, because I feel edgy and irritable and I worry that I will cause others to feel uncomfortable when I do not intend to. Everything around me feels tenuous and fragile, as though the whole thing could just break into a thousand pieces at any given moment and this way of being in the world is not characteristic for me. In fact, it is pretty much opposite of me.

I know I will bounce back and find “me” again. I will stop feeling as though my skin is in constant fight-or-flight and my spirit is looking anxiously over its shoulder every few minutes. I will find my way and I will find my sovereignty again. Apparently, I will not do that today.

For now, I feel like I want to stop running, lie down, and let the wolves eat me. I fantasize about being the woman who one day, just stops what she is doing, walks out to the car with nothing more than her purse, and just starts driving. Fantasies rarely work in reality, but this one is a favorite.

Hour by hour, moment by moment, I know I am walking surely toward my peace of mind again. Even when I do not feel well and whole, I know I am on a journey to that wellness and wholeness. I also know that the journey is as much a part of life as the destination, so even in this sense of unease, I intend to live to the fullest and sift out the joys.

I just hope the wolves find me to be sweet.

Excerpt from “Southern Conjure Woman” series, Book 1: Small Town Magic

By request. Remember that this is the first draft and is very raw. Many edits yet to come and the book is only around a third done:

“What do you mean, ‘gone?’” Cat asked, rubbing her temples and wishing she had stopped for that drink after dropping off Hunter instead of going to Lily and Dru’s. As if on cue, Dru pushed a glass of Jameson’s into her hand. She smiled her thanks and he nodded.

“Gone, like checked out against medical advice and no one knows where she went.”

Shit. Cissy Harris was their living, breathing, talking link to all that was going on and now she was out of their reach, presumably at least.

“When did anyone last see her?”

Lily shifted on the couch and tucked her slender feet up under her, then glanced at Dru, who poured her a glass of wine and passed it to her.

“I saw her before I left the hospital at 6 a.m. today. We spoke at length and then I briefed the incoming and came back here to sleep. They called me just before noon and told me she was gone.”

“No one saw her leave?” Cat asked, taking a sip of the whiskey and feeling it start to warm and loosen her already.

“No one knew she was gone. She had been off of monitors and IVs for a few hours. The staff thought she was sleeping and when they went in to check her vitals, they saw she was missing. The TV was off and that thing was never off from the minute she regained consciousness.”

“So she’s walking or someone picked her up.”

“Mmmhmm,” Lily agreed. “She had no personal effects with her when she was brought in, so she has no money. There were no outgoing calls from her phone and she did not have a cell on her.”

“Could someone have taken her? An abduction?” Dru asked.

“As you saw, we had her in an out of the way room off the Med-Surg ward, so sure, it could have happened, but at that time of day, we had a full nursing staff on duty and they would have to take her past one of the two desks. The windows do not open. There are no stairwells in that area of the hospital. I think it is more likely she slipped out on her own than someone taking a drugged or struggling woman out in front of staff. How did it go with Odetta today?”

“Ah,” Cat said, tilting her head. “Guess who else is gone?”

“She’s gone?”

“AND her dogs. The place is deserted. But after Hunter and I came back in from the garden, the temperature in the cabin had dropped enough that we could see our breath.”

“Jeez, how long were you in the garden?” Dru asked.

Cat sent him an askance smirk and he shrugged.

“Only a few minutes, but when we went into the bedroom, this happened.”

She opened the gallery of photos on her phone and showed them the mirror picture, which Hunter had sent to her.

“Does that say what I think it does?” Lily asked.

“Help dark?” Dru’s eyebrows knitted in consternation.

“Help bark,” Cat corrected. “Her hounds are with her, wherever she is.”

“It says, ‘dark.’”

“I think the b is backwards.”

“A backwards b is a d. What am I missing here?” he blinked, waiting for an answer as if she had one.

“Dru, I am pretty sure it says ‘bark.’”

“And the hounds wrote ‘bark’ on the mirror?”

“I don’t fucking know, Dru,” Cat said, feeling her patience fraying. “Why would it say, ‘Help dark?”

“I don’t know, Cat. Why would it say, ‘Help bark?’ Does the mirror takes dictation or something?”

Lily and Cat exchanged a look.

“Odetta is in trouble and I have no clue what to do. None. I brought the mirror back with in case she is somehow attached to it specifically, Nothing else in our around the house looked out of the ordinary except that the gate and the door were both open.”

“What are you thinking?” Lily asked.

“I got nothing. I don’t think she’s dead. I think she is stuck somewhere. Lily, I don’t think she’s likely left that house in ten years or longer.”

“Oh, at least.”

“And why would anyone involve her in this? Who even knows she’s there? You don’t stumble upon Odetta’s place. You have to aim to get there and work at it.”

“Has anyone heard from Wulf?” Dru asked.

“Not since the meeting, at least not me,” Cat said.

“Not me,” Lily confirmed. “Maybe we should call him back into conference on this and find out what the pack knows.”

They all jumped as Lily’s cell phone rang. She glanced at the caller ID and said, “I have to take this. It’s the hospital.”

Springing Forward

I hate time changes. Why…why must we do it?  That aside…

There is a section of Google Images that allows you to filter according to parameters such as “available for non-commercial use without modification.” Some pretty cool stuff came up when I looked for a banner for this week’s column:

March 21 is a year since Eric “retired” from work at the Veteran’s Administration. I will admit to fear taking over a good many of my responses at that time. It all happened very quickly, it seemed, although in actuality, I know it was over weeks and even a few months. How could we possibly have enough money to live on with our primary wage earner letting go of his job and me starting a brand new business? How could Eric and I possibly live together 24/7 with almost no breaks and not end up in court either for either divorce or homicide?  As much as I wanted to be open to where he felt led and as much as I smiled and said, “Sure, honey. I’m sure it will be fine,” my throat and chest clutched up in fear. (What would we do???)

The year flew by. I think it was the fastest year I have ever experienced.

A year ago, I was in a flurry of activity. I’d spent two months evaluating the health of the computer repair and sales business I had purchased and after an initial thought of giving it up, I decided instead to convert it to a botánica on the advice of my friend. Wulf. Most of my major life decisions of the past eighteen years or so have come from Wulf. He’s like the Katrina Whisperer. He said, “You need to write a book that is sort of ‘CUSP Lite’ and make it a spiritual path that anyone can use rather than just your own personal path.” That led to Eric and I writing CUSP, which led to me writing another additional thirty books or so, some with Eric. Other times in my life, he casually, then if I don’t take action, not so casually said, “You should do this.” I have learned to just say, “OK” and get busy when he makes a suggestion.

This time, my thought was to have an interesting little store called something like “Unusual and Unique” that had magical items in it like cauldrons, statues, candle holders, plus a few candles and soaps I made. He said, “No, you need a botánica” and I said, “What’s a botánica?” and he said, “It’s what you have done for the past thirty-five years, except if you’d done it in Mexico. Here’s a link,” or something like that. I told my besties, Tammy and Tanya and Hexeba, “Wulf thinks I should have a botánica” and they cooed and awwwwed and got busy and came in for a day and helped me arrange the store and price and choose inventory and pretty soon, I had a botánica for real.

Not long after the botánica got underway, Eric began to come to the shop with me both days of the weekend instead of one. My ego got all up on its hind legs because I felt like he was trying to muscle in on my gig, but then I had a moment of clarity and realized I could not do this all on my own and here he was, ready to be put to work however I asked. Since then, he has become an integral partner and my ego got shown the door. It still peeks up from time to time, but I have learned to give it its due and rub its neck and push its hair back over its ear several times until it goes back to sleep again.

It took months for the inventory to stabilize into what it has now been for the past several months. Our space is very limited, but we make the most of it. Eric now knows how to make almost every homemade item in the inventory and nearly all of what we sell comes from our own hands. I am proud of what we do and our customer base is growing beautifully. I love that we can help people with their problems and help them to feel more empowered.

Eric will not admit how good he is with the Spanish language. I am horrible at foreign language and always have been. It’s just not my gift. He taught himself to speak and write and understand Arabic many years ago. He took classes in Spanish when he was in college and had a knack for it and now does instructional videos in Spanish. A good section of our client base is Hispanic and it is very helpful to have him there to translate because I just blink and speak more slowly, which is not really very helpful.

When it came time to name the botánica, I chose Botánica de La Reina (Botanica of the Queen), of course, but really, it is now a dual effort. We still do computer repair, but almost entirely on the software end. We are phasing out the computer sales this month and will sell only peripheral items like cords, mice, keyboards, RAM, and such. Plus, we give great computer advice.

Our incense is our anchor product. We hand dip our incense sticks in high quality oils and I have to admit, it is pretty amazing. In the past year, I have learned so much and for the first time in my life, I feel like I am operating fully in my element or, as Gay Hendricks put it, in my Zone of Genius rather than just my Zone of Excellence. There are things I can do well, even better than other people, but that does not mean that they are what I was meant to do or to do exclusively.

I had to let go of some of the things I did before, even some things I liked. I had to reduce my commitment to other things. It was all a matter of readjustment and to a large degree, faith.

I am grateful that the fears I had when Eric first left his job were largely unfounded. There were difficult times, but we got through them and ultimately, better conditions emerged. The botánica finally went into the profit zone in the early winter. It took a few weeks before I trusted it to be more than just a fluke. We still get occasional computer income, but the botánica is what sustains the business. Now, what I consider a low income weekend I would have seen as a windfall a year ago. Even through the incredible rain California has received lately, normally death to a swap meet-based business, we have done exceptionally well. It helps that we have an actual brick and mortar store in the swap meet environment. The first weekend that we made more than our immediate expenses of rent, gas, and food, I was over the moon. Before long, we made that and also covered inventory. Not long after that, we actually saw an undeniable profit, which again, I thought was a fluke, but then it kept happening. Now, I am starting to see that we just might make it.

Twice during the past year, situations came up that made it appear Eric would go back to a traditional job. Each time, the opportunity did not pan out. Now, we just take it as it comes and follow the flow. My sons, who are now 16 and 18, have a much deeper relationship with Eric because he was home with them for this year. He knows them better and they are closer to him. Despite my initial fears, I am grateful for what the experience brought. The close proximity also forced us as a couple to work through some of our issues that we kept up on a shelf that pressed through in times of stress. That is a lot to say after nearly 20 years together.

Last week, Eric was out in town with a friend of his and he sent me a text with a photo of a car license plate he had just seen. He didn’t need to add an explanation. His text just said, “Look.”

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It says, KATET19. When we first met, we called our coupling KATET. It is a word from Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series that means the magical drawing together of people. Alternately, it is the first two words of my name KA added to his magical name, which is TET. We have been married 19 years this year. I forget sometimes that weird stuff like this doesn’t happen to everyone or rather, that they don’t always live a life where they notice.

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I won’t lie. It has been a rough few years on many levels. This year, I finally feel as though it is all making sense and I am exactly where I am supposed to be doing exactly what I am supposed to do. There are still fears. There are still serious challenges. Mostly, however, I just feel grateful.

Right now, another situation has presented where Eric may go back to traditional work. If it happens, I am peaceful and grateful. If it doesn’t? Guess what…I am peaceful and grateful.

katrinasig

no longer sorry

Sorry No More

I had a conversation with a friend yesterday that was one of those time where you are offering someone the exact same advice that you realize you need yourself. She was describing a situation where she had suffered a falling out with a dear friend and told me she had cried to the friend saying, “I don’t know what I did. Please tell me. I am so sorry for whatever it was.” Throughout her conversation, I heard her mention other things for which she was sorry.

We are supposed to be sorry. We are supposed to look back on our lives and take note of actions and outcomes we regret. I am always profoundly wary of anyone who tells me that they have no regrets and would not change a thing they have done because it “brought me to where I am today.” or “it made me what I am today.” To my mind, if you do not have anything in your life you would have done differently, one or more of the following situations exist:

  • You are very young.
  • You minimize the impact your actions have on others
  • You are a narcissist and/or an unapologetic asshole.
  • You have not lived at all.
  • You are lying.

I have a ton of regret. I look back on choices I made that yes, brought me to a better place, but could have been done so differently with greatly minimized causalities. There are so many times when I could have expressed myself in less hurtful ways. There were decades when I made wrong choice after wrong choice, always hoping and believing I was doing the “right” thing and not learning until much later how tragic my choice actually was.

I would give anything to go back to my young self, say around age 19-20, and talk to her gently. I would let her cry it out for days, as she so needed to do. I would hold space for her and help her to purge out all of the abuse and the anger and the resentment. I would talk to her about her beautiful babies and all the ways in the future she would inadvertently hurt them while trying to do “the right thing.” I would show her how to remain plugged in even when things were unspeakably rough. I would show her how to stop being afraid and to be powerful and gentle all at the same time.

If that changed her in some ways or took her to different places, so be it.

Because of the mistakes I made, starting early in my life, I have carried with me a feeling that if something is broken, it is likely because of something I did. If someone is sad, I probably caused it. If something is wrong, I have to find some way to fix it or at least slap a band-aid on it while I figure out how to fix it.

I apologize…a lot. I have apologized to my older children, all now grown, and tried to find peace with all the ways I failed them as a parent and there were plenty. As far as I know, only one still resents me for the wrong choices I made and I am at a loss for what more I can do in that regard. I likely just have to carry that outcome with me. I have apologized to my husband for being fat so that he never has the experience of having a beautiful, physically fit woman on his arm. I have apologized to my husband for not making enough money. I have apologized to my family for tight holiday celebrations when funding was low and people only got modest gifts. I apologized to my spiritual community for not being sufficiently academic, despite having an advanced degree. I apologize in a store when someone bumps into me because clearly, I should not have been standing where I was.

I likely apologize for something, large or small, a minimum of four or five times a day; often ten or twenty.  “I’m sorry…” is like punctuation to my sentences.

Ultimately, there are times when I am apologizing for even taking up space in the world or invading someone’s time.

In addition to meaning regret for one’s actions, another definition of “sorry” is: “in a poor or pitiful state or condition” and that does pretty much sum it up.

When I worked in the child development field, juggling the office in a military preschool that serviced ninety-six children at any given time, one of the standards we learned was that you do not force a child to apologize if they do not wish to do so. You teach accountability. You teach cause and effect. You teach social skills. You do not, however, make them say the words, “I am sorry,” if they do not want to. The reasoning behind it is that it teaches children – people – to be dishonest about their feelings. If a child does not feel sorry for doing something and is pushed to say they are, it teaches duplicity.

There must be a word for the opposite of that, where you are sorry for things you should not be sorry about.

When you explain something and say, “I’m sorry, but I don’t think…” you rarely are actually sorry. You are making a statement that you feel may not be well received, so instead of standing strong by your words, you offer apology in advance then say it anyway.

When two people speak at once, one or both of them say, “Sorry…” as though they did not have a right to start talking, even though they had no way of knowing the other person would speak.

We apologize for things that had absolutely nothing to do with us, such as, “I’m so sorry that happened to you.”

So many examples. Pantene Company made an interesting video about it a couple of years ago:

I have decided that I am not sorry anymore. I am giving myself the gift of a line in the sand. I have said “I’m sorry” enough times for my mistakes of the past. I am sorry for them, but jeez, enough is enough. I am not perfect and will never be perfect. I have made some doosies and will again in the future.

At this moment, I am not sorry for a damned thing.

Some how, some way, I am going to find the temerity and resourcefulness to eliminate this word from my vocabulary. That does not mean I will feel no regret for my actions when they cause harm in some way. It means I will use other words to convey those feelings.

“I wish you had not had to experience that.”

“I hate that my actions hurt you.”

“I regret what I said to you and I hope you can forgive my thoughtlessness.”

“It makes me sad that someone did that to you and it isn’t fair.”

Anything to jettison the S word.

I have learned that I cannot carry the weight of the world’s apologies and that even my own are sometimes too heavy to bear.

One of the lessons I recently received is that I must be more aware of how my words impact people and when I am taking over a conversation. I never mean to. I get excited and want to share and before I know it, it happens. Now that it is brought to my attention, I am working to heal that and the added attention to my words and interaction really put a spotlight on all of the sorries going around my conversations. Yeah, I apologized for the conversation dominance as well.

So no more. There will be other words and I hope they lead to other feelings and ways to process what happens and has happened in my world. For that matter, I may end up being tired of apologizing at all. A shrug might suffice. At least when I shrug, I can shift the weight off my shoulders.

License for image reuse: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

Thank You GPS

It is not yet the end of February and already, this has been a rockin’ year. Last year was a brutal battle fighting (most with myself, as these things are wont to do) for my own sovereignty and creating space on which I could stand. I have been falling down a great deal over the past several years (likely all of my adult years) and I am very adept at creating excuses reasons for my failings. We are all flawed and I get that, but these are lackings based in cowardice and laziness. I can only see that in retrospect and this is not coming from a place of self-loathing but more from the relief a person feels when they escape a particularly oppressive situation.

I had many signs along the way and believe me, I had more “buts” than a poker party ashtray. There was always a reason why I could not step up.

Late last year, rather I just did it and the Reader’s Digest version of that story is that it is working and although there are times I hear myself saying, “Wait…you’re doing that thing again,” for the most part, the progression has been forward and swift, for which I am grateful.

Google Chrome shows you a grid of your most visited websites so you can easily click on them. Mine pretty much tells the story of how my time is spent these days:

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Other than cooking for the family and going back and forth to work on the weekend, and making inventory for the store throughout the week, this is what I do. I have felt for some time that my energies are going in a lot of different directions: brainstorming and creating new products for the store, web design, Tarot readings (including the weekly general reading on Mondays), teaching, co-hosting our circle with Eric, and writing, plus being involved in the management of PanGaia Festival, trying to envision the next nonfiction book, being Mom, and working with Eric to take care of our home.

Eric retired in March 2015, so he is here all the time to help with the overall home management and parenting, plus working on product development for the shop. He also makes wonderful instructional videos in English and in Spanish.  I am blessed to have help with what I do every single day.

This past weekend, I went to an event called Panthacon, which is an annual Pagan event; four days of workshops, rituals, gatherings, fellowship, and spiritual exploration of all kinds. Thousands of people attend this event. I was honored with an invitation to present on Friday and Monday. In fact, I had the first presentation slot of the con and the last, which was a lovely bookending. I was available to read Tarot cards on Saturday and Sunday outside the vendor hall and I had a book signing on Friday afternoon. I presented on my books Weather Witchery and Goddess in the Kitchen: The Making and Magic of Food. I had an excellent turnout for both. The attendees were interactive, interesting, and plugged in. It’s always rewarding when the people appreciate and seem to get what you’re saying. Both went exceptionally well.

So throughout the weekend, I had plenty of opportunity to take the pulse of the Pagan community and to see what interests people and what doesn’t. More specifically, I wanted to see where I should put my energy and where I should pull it back. I am spreading too thin to fully invest in anything and I wanted to know where my greatest success would lie. I already gave up writing my Patheos Pagan column, but I need to tighten up the reins even more.

Before the weekend began, I asked that I be shown where my greatest success lies and where my energy could best serve the Goddess. Typically, those are one and the same.

The results were overwhelming.

Tarot: I got zero reinforcement for Tarot readings, so I will dial that back to my current clients and not aggressively market that side of what I do. I will keep the option available on the website, but not pursue that avenue to any tremendous degree. Current clients: I love you! I am still here for you always!

Non-Fiction Writing: Got some redirects on that. I might work on one book for the year if I find inspiration, but I will wait for it to find me and not go looking for it myself. This one is a no-go unless something in particular strikes me.

Teaching/Presenting: I love public speaking and teaching and interacting on that level. Pantheacon reminded me all the more of the reasons why. I hope to find a venue where I can teach in Sacramento and El Dorado Counties. That one is a go.

Botánica de La Reina*sigh* I so love my shop and I missed it this weekend, even though I had a great time. LOTS of positive feedback about the shop and people interested in finding it, so that is a definite win. The customer base is growing steadily and I have a ton of fun, interesting people coming through the door every weekend. There was some interesting input about my pricing, which I will explore with deeper consideration.

One interesting development that I did not foresee was that at a couple of points, Eric got uncomfortable with me telling people, “I own a botánica in Roseville…” when he was there with me. He wanted me to say, “WE own a botánica in Roseville…” I struggled with this because my impression was that I had built up the botánica and it was my heart and soul. He mostly runs the computer side and makes a few things like the cedar horns and the coffin nail crosses. I felt our egos each getting “all up ons” and yes, we had words about it. His position was that he found the business we purchased that became the botánica. He makes items for it. He is there every weekend just like I am. He is as qualified to answer any of the questions as I am. He is on the bank account. He is on the business license. All good points, but I could feel myself grasping for something in this world to be mine that I created and for which I could claim success. My interim argument was “I do own a botánica” and “You also own a botánica” and that it is not inappropriate for me to claim that I do, even if he is there. He disagreed and I clung even harder with mine, mine, mine.

After I had too many hours some time to step back and think about it, I remembered my goal for the weekend, which was to get some strong direction for where to put my energy and here was Eric stepping up and saying that he wanted to be fully involved and engaged as an equal partner. With that in mind, I decided that I would not personally work on developing additional products for the shop for the time being. I will continue making what I do with Eric stepping in to work on the incenses, the powders, the candles, or the other items as he wishes. That will potentially free up more of my time while still letting me pursue the parts of it I love.

So Botánica is a big yes, big win, but with me investing less time.

That takes me to the major revelation that wow, just could not be denied.

Those Avalon Girls: I got a reading from a wonderful card reader on Saturday night using a deck she designed herself, so there was no way I would know what cards were in the deck since it was a nontraditional deck. I chose three for her to read (from a face down fan):

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The reading is self-explanatory, but I was especially moved by the first card I drew considering that the best selling books in my thirty-two book collection right now are the Seven Sisters of Avalon books which take place forty years after King Arthur’s death.

Later, Eric and I were taking outside stairs from one wing of the event center and I found these:

ribbons

At this con, people attach ribbons to the bottom of their con badges until they have a huge bandoleer of ribbons trailing down their front. These were ribbons someone lost off of their string and yep, they both happened to mention Avalon.

When we left the event to go home, we stopped by Denny’s to get lunch and the woman at the table beside us was reading Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

When we were leaving town, we passed some sort of establishment, don’t know what, but it had AVALON on its sign in big letters, just in case I missed the message the first three times, which is a reasonable concern.

So most of my energy will go towards writing. I am about a third of the way through the Southern Conjure Woman first book. I am not sold on the title or on it being a series, but it is a lot of fun to write. As soon as it is published, I will get back to writing about my Avalon girls again.

And that, my friends, is how magic works.

My theme for this week has been:

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At least none that do not point to Avalon.

Plus I am glad to be home despite a wonderful time.

Be well, my friends.

Pantheacon – February 12-15, 2016

12274343_10153619161131259_7421859305933662794_nHello All,

Eric and Katrina Rasbold are excited to once again take part in Pantheacon in San Jose, California February 12-15, 2016.  Their schedule is as follows:

FRIDAY, 1:30 PM – WEATHER WITCHERY PRESENTATION

This fun discussion covers the best magic to work in particular types of weather conditions, as well as how to call in weather systems.

FRIDAY, 5:30 PM – BOOK SIGNING

Katrina and Eric will have their print books available for purchase at signing at this event as well as their presentations.

TO BE ANNOUNCED – TAROT READINGS

Katrina has more than thirty years experience reading the Tarot professionally and is the author of Tarot For Real People She will be available to perform fifteen-minute readings for $25.00 at a time determined by Patheacon. Please check the Tarot readers roster for the actual time. You can see samples of Katrina’s Tarot readings on her website at www.katrinarasbold.com where she provides weekly video Tarot readings.

MONDAY – 11:00 AM – GODDESS IN THE KITCHEN PRESENTATION

This presentation explores the energy we put into the food we prepare and how to tailor it toward specific needs. We discuss the magical properties of various foods, including elemental associations and other energy considerations.

If you see us, be sure and say hello! We look forward to sharing this magical event with you!

Other weekends, you can find Eric and Katrina at their shop in Roseville, California:  Botánica de La Reina

Trying Not to Be a Sisy

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I originally set up this post on December 13, 2015, which was over a month ago and since then, I have tried several times to get back to it and give it the due it deserves. Perhaps this time, I will make it through.

Like for so many others, 2015 was a really rough year. Backing up a bit, in December of 2014, I acquired a computer sales and repair business. It operates out of Denio’s Farmer’s Market & Auction, which is a swap meet in Roseville, California. A man with whom my husband, Eric, worked at the time owned the business and did well with it, but due to his wife’s illness, wanted to let it go. He had two other businesses and this one is only open on Saturday and Sunday, so he was looking to have his weekends free for the first time in years.

I went into the process knowing a good bit about computers and a reasonable amount about computer repair. For the month of December, I went to the shop every weekend and got a crash course from him and from Phil, the resident technician who left early in the year. They taught me a tremendous amount and for that, I am eternally grateful.

I formally took over the shop the first week of January 2015. The shop has no heating or air conditioning and it was bitterly cold. At first, my sons came to the shop to work with me, but they soon lost interest and stopped going after a couple of months. Eric often came along, if only for one day of the weekend since he was also working full time as a Veteran’s Service Rep for El Dorado County.

When I acquired the shop, the previous owner assured me that he made around $60,000 net each year from the business, which is why I agreed to do it. What I did not have the experience to understand at the time is that a good bit of that came from the work he did for people outside of the shop (not an option for me due to the incredible distance) and that the shop’s inventory was only sustainable through his e-waste and data destruction part of the business, which did not transfer over with the shop itself. It did in theory, but then just did not happen. It was through the data destruction and e-wasting that he acquired the laptops and desktop computers that he would refurbish and resell. In absence of that, inventory had to be purchased outright, with is a heavy investment for a product that will usually sit on the shelf for weeks or even months.

This meant that I sat in a freezing shop watching my inventory gradually dwindle and if I replaced it, I had to invest heavily and have a narrow profit margin. I also learned quickly that people are uncomfortable having their computers serviced by a female. I thought we were past that but trust me, we are not, at least in my part of the country. “Is your husband here?” with a constipated look was a very common customer reaction when I would smile and say, “What can I help you with today?”

Occasionally, someone would come into the shop to have their computer cleaned of viruses or to have Windows 7 reinstalled. I changed out a display on a laptop here and there and upgraded RAM for customers.

The other vendors in my area could not have been more welcoming and supportive. There is no gift like that, but the truth is that the business was sinking fast and rarely made enough money to cover the rent and the gas for me to drive two hours one way to get there. Then and now, I get up at 4:00 AM, leave at 5:00 AM and have the shop open by 7:00 AM.

In late January of 2015, we began to realize that my husband would have to leave his job as a Vet Rep with the county, which was our primary source of income. He was excellent at what he did and helped literally thousands of veterans receive their benefits, but the emotional stress of the job was taking a horrific toll and after exploring several options to try and solider through (no pun intended), he turned in his resignation and his last day of work was March 21, 2015. There were no other county jobs available to him.

We did a lot of deliberating on whether the shop was an asset or a financial liability and decided to stick it out. One of the biggest challenges is that the venue, a 40 acre swap meet that is more than forty-years-old and steeped in history, is not really conducive to high end purchases such as computers. If someone purchases a computer there, they want it at yard sale prices. “Retail” does not have a place there. Likewise, if someone wants their computer repaired, they generally do not want to pay $3.00 to park and then haul their computer to a shop deep inside the swap meet. They also likely do not want to wait until Saturday or Sunday, which are the only days we are open.

The business model definitely had cracks that I could not see or even adequately interpret until I was well into it.

By March of 2015, I was sitting and freezing, literally shaking with the cold, in the shop on my third week of making less than $20 in the full weekend. Eric received unemployment eventually and that helped to bridge the gap of his lost income, along with the cashing out of his savings plan. I had the thought, “If only this were a magic shop with items that felt spiritual to me and that others value…”  Then I realized that within reason, I could pretty much do whatever I wanted with the shop as long as Denio’s didn’t care. I ran it past them and they approved the addition of the new items and by April 1, I transitioned the computer shop to a computer shop and a botánica. It underwent a lot of phases as it became what it was to ultimately be, but I am happy with the result and now, at last, the business is in the black. We still do computer sales for the time being. We have two desktops left and then will convert to service only unless an opportunity comes up we cannot refuse. The primary success, however, is with the botánica.

Now it is a year after I took over the business and ten months after Eric left his job. Unemployment is depleted and there are no more financial rabbits I can pull out of my hat. My bag of tricks is empty. The holidays came and went with our family being wonderfully supportive and understanding of how little we had to contribute. In the interim since the botánica launched, I have worked harder than I ever have in my life. I make most of the inventory in the store, so my world is an endless series of candle making, incense dipping, loose incense making, oil mixing, labeling, accounting, and working to figure out what sells and what doesn’t. Cumulatively, I have never been more exhausted in my entire life.

The results are rewarding and enjoyable, although not yet financially sustaining for the family in the least. The meager profit I make is growing and it does work as the mortar between the bricks that hold everything together. I get a bit each month for royalties on the books I have written and I am grateful that every month since I first published through Amazon in 2013, I have received compensation. Eric’s VA medical pension comes in every month and I pick up website work and readings now and then. It all comes together month by month to keep the lights on and the mortgage paid. No luxuries. Not in the least. No months of breathing a sigh of relief because we have enough to cover our necessary expenses, but we manage to squeeze by…usually.

Many things that could have “saved” us and made life more comfortable bloomed steadily into what appeared to be solid promise and then evaporated. It was hard not to feel thwarted and cursed sometimes with the number of things that went wrong that could easily have panned out. Often, it was well into the carefully crafted process that everything derailed and there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to it, just that it turned to sand. After a while, the theme was too prominent to be denied and began to feel personal, which is always a dangerous place to be. It put me in mind of the countless projects and opportunities over the years that I threw myself into heart and soul, gave all I had to bring to fruition, only to have it avail…nothing. Nothing at all. All hope and any illusion of financial security was just…gone. It felt like there was nothing but long, hard days of constant work with little return and constant struggle to cover all the bases.

It was very hard not to get discouraged. Poverty is no stranger to me. I have lived in the worst of it. I have been homeless. I have gone hungry so my children could have something to eat. I have worked three jobs to not make ends meet. I have felt that trapped, hopeless feeling before. It is a ferocious beast to manage and can eat you alive if you let it.

And I did for a while. I was sure *I* could save this family if I just worked hard enough or came up with some new and fantastic idea. The pressure was unreal. I applied for countless jobs, at least 30-40. I applied with a staffing agency, only to be told that because I was a small business owner, I was the kiss of death for employment. It seemed to be true because for all those applications, I did not receive even one single call back. Not one interview. Not one ping, despite follow up. “You are in our system.” “We will contact you if we find a job that is a good match.”

Eric now goes to the shop with me every day we are open. He handles nearly all of the computer work because I grew tired of trying to overcome the stereotype dynamics and he was there anyway. If he has questions, he brings me into the loop, but otherwise, he handles that side of the business. He also assists on the botánica side. He speaks Spanish and I do not, so as our Hispanic client base has grown, he has become much more involved. I was shocked by how welcoming and warm (and grateful) they all are. Because I am called strongly to the Guadalupe spiritual work, the healing, and the energy practice, I worried they might feel uncomfortable with me appropriating their gig, but they welcomed their Gringa Bruja with open arms and have been so supportive and loving. Each time we work the shop, we come away feeling appreciated and fulfilled. The people who come through our doors are vibrant, magical, and delightful. I keep up strong wards and a lot of brick dust, so we avoid most of the potential problems. If the financial reward matched the personal reward, we would be millionaires.

I spent most of 2015 feeling like Sisyphus, as though all I did was work oppressively, only to have it avail me nothing. That theme pulled up so many fears and insecurities over past failures and it took a lot of time to work through them. Some still haunt me and there are still times when I want to give up. Primarily, what I ended up doing was letting go of what I could. Instead of giving all my effort toward pushing that boulder up the mountain, I just stepped aside and let the thing roll down to the bottom and stay there. I just do not have strength, patience, or time for the extra weight. I can’t save the family. We will make it or we won’t. I will do what I can and beyond that, I can no longer be consumed by obligation and fear. All I can do is what I can do and that part I do to the best of my ability. I still have my good cries. I still occasionally feel the sting that I am always in a crowd. Dylan is 18 and takes college classes online. Nathan is homeschooled. Eric is usually here. I am never, ever alone unless I go to heroic measures to make it happen.I had to give up my Patheos column for several reasons, the primary one being that it is no longer wise to spend so much time and energy on something that yields no return. I had to cut back on my fiction writing time, which I really miss. The one gift I do give myself is that for the first time in years, I read voraciously. It is my luxury when there are no others. Others have given more than I have, but that does not change that for me, 2015 was a year of tremendous sacrifice, far beyond what I would willingly offer.

I have not updated in a long time because I did not trust myself to discuss what is going on with a positive attitude. Just the thought of putting it to print was oppressive. It made what is happening too real. For now, I continue to focus on creating store inventory and working 24/7 to keep my perspective clean and clear. It cannot be contaminated by hopelessness, fear, resentment, or anxiety. As much as I want things to be different, I have to work with how they are and believe the Wheel will turn and the way will be presented. Meanwhile, I will continue to tread water with legs that are sore from the effort and to believe that some day, if all of this is never better, I will at least not wasted the life I had on regret and frustration. I will have lived. So that is what I try to invest in every day; just some form of living.

10 Steps to Successful New Year’s Resolutions

How many times have you made the same resolutions over and over, year after year, each time more determined to succeed and more frustrated and dejected when you do not? How many times do the failures of previous years stand in the way of your success for the coming year? Repeated failures are a heavy load to bear.

CUSP, the spiritual path Eric Rasbold, my husband and co-author, and I created nearly twenty years ago involves setting specific goals with the intention of manifesting the life the practitioner wants to live. Each December, our students carefully choose goals to work on through the coming year to make their lives better. Because of this, we have almost two decades of experience with directed, pro-active resolutions and the fulfillment of those goals. We have seen what works and what sabotages success.

Here are ten suggestions for making attainable New Year’s resolutions and staying on course to achieve them. Many of these suggestions are not what life coaches traditionally recommend, but they have worked for us and countless CUSP students. Make this your year of success that you can build on in years to come.

1) Make a list. Most people want more than one thing to change in their coming year, yet choose only one or two goals in order to be realistic. Instead, make a long list of ways you want your life to be different this time next year. Be ruthless. This list is for your eyes only and you should pretend you can achieve anything that you put on the list regardless of financial, personal, or social obstacles. Hint #1: a quick way to madness and disaster is to attempt to manifest a goal of ego and arrogance such as “self-actualization” or “self-mastery.” The Universe has a delightful sense of humor where goals of ego are concerned. Stick to the basics. Hint #2: Do not attempt to manifest a negative. Your brain and your higher self love nouns and ignore verbs, so when you tell your brain and your higher self that you want to “lose weight,” your brain and higher self register “weight” minus the “lose” part. Instead, focus on what you want to GAIN, not what you want to BANISH. Most goals can be turned inside out to find a suitable gain rather than the loss. For instance, add “physical fitness” to your list rather than “losing weight.”

2) Combine goals. Once you have completed your list, see what the goals have in common. For instance, wanting a new car, a better place to live, and a new wardrobe might combine into increased self-esteem, or prosperity. Wanting physical fitness, better eating habits, and freedom from smoking combines to health, strength, or wellness. Finding romance, improving family relations, and making more friends can combine into the goal of welcoming love. Embrace abstract goals rather than specific ones. Go deep and see what joined meaning the goals you listed hold for you.

3) Find the feeling behind the goal. Most self-help programs tell you to detail your goal to the tiniest variance,such as to vow to go to the gym three times a week or make four new job contacts a week. We tell you to do the opposite. It’s great to come up with a strategy for success and develop plans. For your actual goals and resolutions, however, look for the feeling that you attach to those specific outcomes. “I want to feel prosperous.” “I want to feel loved.” “I want to feel healthy and strong.” “I want to feel proud of myself.” “I want to feel beautiful.” Intention does not flow through a list of activities, but toward a feeling you want to manifest that you either do not now feel or do not feel enough. Identify the feeling and you will find the magical boost to reach that goal. By working towards a feeling rather than a particular action, you open the door for many ways that your goal can manifest.

4) Pace your goal. Too often, our efforts derail within a few weeks because we come into the process with guns blazing, then lose steam quickly. Do not see your goal as something you start on January 1st and continue forever, but as a growing, living process that you plant on January 1st and nurture through the year as it flourishes to fruition. Next winter, you will re-evaluate and determine how to progress this year’s goals further or create new goals for the coming year. Rather than starting out with a huge effort, start with smaller steps and build on them. Plan for your greatest success and ultimate fulfillment of your goal to occur around August or September. Think of your goal as a crop you are planting. You would not go into the fields, plant seeds, and expect to see your harvest the following week. Instead, decide what you will plant, then cultivate the soil, plant, nurture, and see the crop grow into its fulfillment over time. If you want to feel strong and healthy, take baby steps toward that goal rather than overwhelm yourself. Schedule a check up one week. The following week, go for a walk or step up your physical activity routine slightly. The next week, cut back or eliminate one unhealthy food you eat. The week after that, step up your physical activity again. Build your goal a little at a time instead of going all out in January. Putting everything into the first month causes most people to feel overwhelmed so that they run out of steam quickly. You want to build sustainable steps toward your goal and you do that by creating gradual change.

5) Connect with your higher power. Whether you invest in a deity or believe your higher power is yourself, tune into it. Pray, meditate, journal. Take a few minutes (or longer) each day to connect to whatever you perceive to be your higher power and focus on your goal during that time. Allow the feeling that you programmed into your ultimate goal to flow over you during this time, even though you are not there yet. Imagine what prosperity will feel like, what health and strength will feel like, what welcoming love into your life will feel like and let that feeling run through you. Say “thank you” to your higher power for assisting you and for the successful completion of your goal. Imagine that your success is already there.

6) See it to be it.  Use visual cues to connect with your goal. Write notes that say “You are loved,” “You are beautiful,” “You are vibrant and healthy” and place them on your mirror, in your car, or other places where you will see them. Burn candles dedicated to your goal. Choose a stone or a talisman that represents your investment in your goal and keep in in your pocket or close to you. Rub it at times when you feel your dedication to the goal sagging. Make a vision board that gives your goal an appearance and a physical form before it is here. Do NOT use photos of how you used to be or how you used to look as your goal. We are moving FORWARD, not BACKWARD.

7) Be open. By focusing on the feeling rather than a specific attribute of that feeling, you open yourself to other ways for your goal to manifest. If you focus on health and strength rather than “I will go to the gym three times a week,” your goal can also encompass new ways to eat to support your goal or targeting vitamin deficiencies and system toxicities to heal. Keep your mind and your process open to all areas of health and strength and welcome new information and insight. If you work to manifest love in your life, welcome all forms of love around you, including family love, friend love, romantic love, and most importantly, self love.

8) Be patient with yourself. Rome was not built in a day and it takes years to establish the habits and situations we wish to change in our lives. Sometimes, it takes that long to reverse them. When (rarely “if”) you step off the path that takes you to your goal, do not let it derail you. Take a breath, reseat yourself in the goal, and begin again in that moment, not the next day. If you find you are slipping often in a week, stop and consider why you are resisting success, then center yourself back into the process. Often, the answer is simply, “It’s easier to do what I have always done.” If you truly want change, you have to overcome that answer. If you are not sufficiently invested in the change to overcome that answer, then it isn’t time yet. Regardless, be painfully honest with yourself and accept that if you do what you have always done, you will have what you have always had. Change must come from you, not from the outside, and it is very rarely easy.

9) Be fully accountable and mindful of your choices.  The fastest way to failure is to blame our actions on others or on outside circumstances. This  practice immediately relegates us to victim status. To be proactive, we have to admit that we ultimately make the choices in our lives. This involves tremendous honesty and accountability. We must break through the mindset that allows us to give our power over to others. “There was just too much pressure from others, so I had some drinks” actually means, “I wanted to fit in and be comfortable, so I drank alcohol when my goal is to quit.” When the weather is bad, we might make a conscious choice not to go to the gym, which is affected by outside circumstances, however the internal choice is if we choose not to work out in any way while at home. We must own our choices and be accountable for them, as well as the destiny and outcomes they create. Being accountable does not mean that you have to be transparent in a public forum or even tell others about your goals. It means being accountable to yourself and honest beyond reproach in your own inner dialog. With every choice, we must ask, “Does this behavior support my goal or not?” and act accordingly from there.

10) Make your goals about YOU and no one else. We can try to change for others and it is admirable to want to please those we care about. It is also admirable to want the best for those we love when we can see they are making harmful choices. The raw truth is that it is nearly impossible to get another person to change by the sheer force of your will and it is equally impossible to change because someone else wants you to. You must limit the focus of your resolution on yourself and make resolutions for yourself because it is the outcome YOU want. Do not lose weight because your partner wants you to. Do not make the resolution that you will get your spouse to stop drinking or your son to get a job. Resolutions that focus on you and your own wants will succeed far more often than those we set for others or because of others.

Best of luck to you in 2016 and I hope it is a year of tremendous success and accomplishment for all of you.

What Feeds You?

I woke up with morning with words in my head, not the usual song lyrics or dream remnant, but words without attachment to anything in particular.

“Even a rat will eventually stop pushing the lever that shocks him and will find the lever that feeds him.”

Damn.

I have mulled those words for hours now and the more I think about them, the more they apply.

On October 28, I started to get sick. I had a tickle in the back of my throat and felt low energy. I rarely get sick, so when I do, it is a sign to me that something is up. By the night of the 29th when I had a major event planned. I was full on into head cold and was sort of here and not here. I also stepped in a very deep, rocky hole and twisted my hip, back, and knee, plus skinned up my foot and shin. None of this was coming together well. The event was great and no complaints there except for our sweat lodge burning down. Whoever left it last did not put out the candle and sometime in the night, it caught and smoldered to the ground. We are thrilled no one was injured and the mountain top did not burn down, but we mourn its loss, plus the many prayer ties inside, plus the painted dipper gourd we used, plus the sacred sweetgrass braid that belonged to a Native American elder who is now passed. Eric is getting the materials together to build another and one of our circle members is contributing some blankets.

I know I wrote about these things before, but in retrospect, they have greater significance than when I was merely reporting them before. In his wonderful book Life Strategies, Dr. Phil McGraw gives one of many life facts: “People do what works.” For any behavior, a person gets a payoff or they would not do it. A person must make a concerted, directed, conscious effort to override the need for payoff and look to long term benefits in order to achieve beyond that natural predilection. As Eric has often pointed out to me, I am not a person who tends to move beyond that immediate payoff point. I like to see results for my actions because I hate wasted energy and wasted action. When I don’t see results, I give up.

I should amend that to say that if I don’t see results from something I do not enjoy doing, I give up. If I enjoy what I am doing, I will keep at it well past the dead horse has been utterly beaten and will take any measures necessary to resist admitting that what I am doing is not working.

Even when something works, if it isn’t fun, I will hide from it after a certain point, much like that rat up there in the picture. My brain says, “OK, enough of that,” and starts looking for a way out.

After my recent illness passed, I never got around to feeling better again. I still have a slight case of the sniffles, but the heavy head and coughing and runny nose is past. The “sick,” however, stuck around and I did not regain my energy. I feel slow and sick and sluggish. I never feel rested and my vibrancy is gone. I don’t like that.

At first, I thought I still had shrapnel of the virus left in my body causing my symptoms and sure, that is likely part of it. In retrospect, however, I know that I comforted myself with foods I knew were not just “not good” for me, but were outright “bad” for me. I completely overdid on the sugar as comfort and when I was doing it, it did not feel like I was overdoing, but when I look back, I can see that I took in a LOT of sugar items. I have been off of refined sugar for months and my body did not respond well to all that poison going into it.

In addition to diet and exercise (a whole other story), I can see how the words from my sleep apply to other areas of my life as well. My goal for the week is to purge my body and hit the reset button, to purge my life of behaviors that hurt me and pursue the ones that “feed” me, in body, mind, and spirit.

No more hiding and no more excuses. Time to get busy living or get busy dying. Our 50s seem to be the decade when the rubber hits the road in that respect.

Smoke and Mirrors: The Art of Mirror Scrying

I did not believe what my High Priestess told me when she said if you sit in the dark in front of a mirror with nothing but candlelight, you will see amazing things. Of course, not believing it meant I was going to try it as soon as I possibly could, which I did.

Scrying is a form of divination and meditation that involves using a reflective object of some sort as a meditation tool to see visions. Those visions can be of the past, the present, the future, or a possible future if different choices are not made. The most commonly known scrying is the use of a crystal ball. Hollywood amped up the mystery behind crystal ball scrying, making it seem more like a psychic television. The stereotypical process of a mist forming in the ball, then parting to reveal actual scenes from beyond time or distance is not how a crystal ball works.

041111_magic_eye_1g_aYears ago, there was a craze of 3-D images where a person relaxed their vision and looked at a specially designed graphic, other deeper images would emerge. if you never saw one before (marketed as “Magic Eye” pictures), click on the image to the right until it is at full size and then stare at it, relaxing your vision. Eventually, you may see other images with a 3-D effect develop. In this case, it is four cylindrical shapes in various positions.

Scrying works in a similar fashion. You look into the reflective surface and relax your vision. This gives your eyes a chance to check out while your inner vision starts to work.

Scrying is not limited to crystal balls. “Obsidian Mirrors” are another way to scry. These can either be an actual piece of obsidian polished to a fine shine or a picture frame with the back of the glass painted black. Looking into the blackness is just as effective as looking into clear, smooth quartz. For some people, it is even easier to use black than clear. Scrying onto the surface of water contained in a reflective or back vessel is also effective.

Of all methods of scrying, mirror scrying is arguably the easiest and in my opinion, the most interesting.

After dark, arrange a mirror so that you sit directly in front of it and have a candle on each side, between you and the mirror. Make sure there are no additional light sources in the room. Wear clothing that is dark and does not reflect from the mirror. Sit approximately 18-24 inches from the mirror at most. Light an incense that you enjoy. Play meditative music if you wish. As the candles burn, relax your entire body, starting with your face and working your way down to your feet. Feel your muscles and your mind relax more with every breath.

When you have relaxed completely, work to still your mind from mundane thoughts. See them as tangible objects whirling around you that stop and drop to the floor, then disappear. Make your mind as blank as possible. Focus on the surface of the mirror and the reflections you see from the candlelight and occasional wafts of smoke. Do not strain your eyes to see anything or work too hard. Relax and let it come to you.

With mirror scrying, you will sometimes see physical images. You may see your features shift and change until you look like someone else. You may have images appear in your mind or through your third eye. Pay attention to any impressions you receive when you are in this state.

For my first mirror scrying experiment, I asked, “What did I look like before this life” and I literally saw my features shift and change several times. It was quite a relaxing and enjoyable experience. As my mentor said so many years ago, “You will see amazing things.” It may not happen immediately and may take practice, but this technique is fascinating to try.

When Horoscopes Are Dead On Balls Accurate

Each week, I get a wonderful horoscope sent to my inbox by Chani Nicholas at http://chaninicholas.com/. After exploring many others, I have found her work to consistently be the best out there and I am happy to share it with you.

This week, it was like a gut punch.

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Virgo & Virgo Rising (My Sun Sign)

It’s your time to win. It’s your time to come in. It’s your time to claim your space like you haven’t before. Not to dominate but to demonstrate that you value the gifts that you have been given and that you have zero fucks to give if said gifts are celebrated in the commercials at half-time.

This is a full-time gig.

Becoming you is no joke. Taking up space in a conscious way takes a willingness to be a conscientious observer of your actions and reactions. And that’s a lot like work. But work worth your while. Work worth your time. Work that will make you proud to say your own name out loud. Work that makes you resonate with yourself. Work that allows you to become a transmitter of clutter-free messages, messages that resound with appreciation for yourself and for the beauty that surrounds you. You simply have less time for bullshit, less space for what you don’t want to embrace. Less of a capacity to go along with the old ways of doing things, especially when they weren’t helping the situation.

Choices that keep us complacent become life-threateningly boring and choices that get us in the game become irresistibly life-affirming for you now. Affirm yourself. 
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Scorpio & Scorpio Rising (My Rising Sign)

Hopefully the happy birthdays are just getting started and will continue to roll out for a long time to come. You see, Scorpio, this birthday bash actually boasts all kinds of boogie-woogie. This birthday has the promise of being a party. This birthday year has the ability to bring you what you need, especially through your friends, groups and social situations.

This week in particular works you up into a fever of fantastic strength. This week you can bow to the competition while blowing them away. This week gives you a strut in your stride.

Use it for good. 

Use it to advance the best parts of your plan. Use it to ask those in the know which way to go. Use it to help you herd the folks that feel most intrinsic to your plan. Also, be a fan of your fans and a cheerleader to all the soccer moms who helped you score. This situation is about more than just success. It’s about being present to your power, being in your power and being fully aware of how you tend to use your power. Start from within and you’ll feel like you can win.

With a darling new moon in your sign on November 11th, you’re filled with the graces of all that you have gotten done, worked hard for and hustled to have. Like amazing personal boundaries and a breathtaking work ethic. It’s all going to start paying off now with greater ease and bigger bonuses.

As I mentioned in the most recent blog post, this year has been hard. In many ways, it is one of the most demanding, including those where I experienced, childbirth, divorce, and parental death. This recent illness, which began the day before our Samhain ceremony and continues now, has shown me how exhausted I am. Goddess really forced me through the wringer on every front and refused to accept anything less than more than I had to give. The entire year has felt like some kind of trial by fire or rite of passage. The need to whine has been profound. The need to dissolve into tears and beat the ground and pray that the cup pass from me was extreme. The desire to run from all of it was overwhelming.

I am fortunate to have friends who accept no such weakness from me. They called bullshit ever time and would sit and hold space with me while I came to my own truths. They were strong, beautiful Witches and I love them for all they tolerated this year as I did my best to duck my own destiny and cave into the easier path.

Reading this horoscope and seeing the outcome of the Tarot readings from the past two weeks gives me hope. Even though the full manifestation of my work is not complete, I can see a little sunlight around the edges of the darkness, even as we go into the dark of the year. In working with the Crone starting with our ceremony on Friday night, I have felt so old and tired. The idea of hiding away and doing nothing until Death takes me is so seductive. I know that is not what I will do. I know there is another destiny for me, but I will gear down even further and enjoy some quiet in the dark of the year.

That’s the plan, anyway. Once I get my strength back, I will move a few more mountains and impress even myself. For now, it is time to rest from the battle and while that happens, I do what I want and no more.

Focus in the Dark

On Samhain (October 31) each year, a practice our group adds to our ritual is that we go into the dark earth labyrinth where a large mirror is propped on a table. In candlelight, we look into the Mirror of Truth and then pull a Tarot card from the table where they are spread in front of the mirror. This card tells us what our focus should be in the coming dark of the year when introspection and insight are key.

This year, I almost forgot to pick a card. Just before we went into the labyrinth, I enacted an intense magical component of the ritual when the Crone parts the veil between the worlds, which we traditionally do before going into the labyrinth. As I was about to do it, I stepped in the Mayhole. In the darkness, which seemed so much darker than other years, I did not even see it. It is at least 6-8″ deep and lined with rocks. I stepped in and pitched forward in nearly a face plant.

The result was that I tore the end off of my toe (wearing sandals), scraped and bruised my shin so it is now pretty colors, and wrenched my hip and knee and apparently, every body part in between the two. I felt myself wanting to cave. My whole premise of late has been to take care of myself first and others after. Shifting out of the Mothering phase I was in since I was ten-years-old has been quite a challenge for me. Now, going into the Crone phase, I am long past overdue to let that part of myself slip into the shadows. It was like someone who keeps trying to leave military service, but gets pulled back in for one more tour of duty. Necessity always demanded.

I thought about going inside, piling onto the couch and crying. I knew Eric would finish up the ritual just fine on his own. I thought about just not going into the labyrinth and waiting in the circle for everyone to return. My shoe was filling up with blood and the bottom of my dress was wet either from blood or the water that was still in the Mayhole from the previous day’s rain. Samhain only comes once a year and as much as anyone, I was ready for my time of rest. Ultimately, I wanted to embrace the dark of the year fully, so I completed the ritual. When everyone had left, Eric asked me what card I pulled and I realized I’d neglected to do so. I debated whether to get one or not, then picked up a flashlight and made my way into the labyrinth alone.

The labyrinth is a beautiful and sacred place, but it is also spooky at night, especially in front of a massive mirror with only a flashlight. I pulled my card and found it an interesting juxtapose with Eric’s.

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image031He pulled Death, which means tremendous change. I cringed when I saw it because, to be honest, this was a very tough year. I was called upon to dig deep and find strength I didn’t know I had patience I did not ever think I could muster. I am tired. More change sounds exhausting to me.

I pulled the 4 of Wands, which means stability, a happy harvest, and the successful end to hard work. It was quite a relief. Apparently, the change will primarily involve Eric and I will somehow be protected from the impact, at least in a negative way.

I am eager to see how this all manifests in the dark of the year, which runs until March 21 when we plant again. Until then, there will be a great deal of careful consideration about what to manifest in the coming year and a lot of exploring of dark corners to learn more about myself.

I also plan to rest, restore, regroup, and rejuvenate. I need to revamp my way of being in the world. The greatest gift of the past year was finding out exactly who I am meant to be. That was always in such turmoil before between satisfying what others wanted me to be and trying to honor my own destiny and even to know what that might be. This year left no further mystery as to how I am to best manifest The Goddess in this life and how I should best invest my energy on a daily basis and ultimately. Until further notice, I am giving those objectives my best effort.

I learned a great deal and I am eager for the repose of the dark. Right now, the rain California so desperately needs is pouring down and with the time change, it is dark, dark, dark. I can feel Autumn all around and I have put a major project (Aster of Avalon) to bed after a year and a half of working on it. Two more projects are waiting to begin after a brief time out from writing. Stephen King might recommend writing every single day, but I have to step away from it now and then to recalibrate my control panel.

Last Thursday, a tickle in my throat turned into a full scale head cold. I am never, ever ill, so when it does happen every few years that something hits me, I take it as my cue to slow down and rest, giving my body a chance to heal. I managed to get through the weekend of working at the shop with the entire right side of my body feeling sore and broken from the fall and my cold holding court in my head. Today, I cleaned house from our event on Friday and did some busy work, but the rest of the week, with the exception of a trip to town on Wednesday to meet with the homeschool teacher, is dedicated to recovery.

I hope all of you are welcoming the dark with open arms, ready to embrace the wisdom that is there for you.

Aster of Avalon Released Early

I am excited to announce that the third book in the “Seven Sisters of Avalon” series released today on Amazon.com. Book four, Iris of Avalon, is scheduled for release in Fall 2016. In the interim, an updated edition of my flagship book, Energy Magic Compleat is in the works. This edition will include lots of new discussion on the subjects covered in the original version. Also releasing within the next year is the first in a modern day fiction series called (working title) The Southern Conjure Woman Series. I am eager to start writing this new series. Writing period pieces such as the Avalon books is research extensive and research is exhausting and thankless because you never really get it completely right. The new series will be for fun. That is the next year of my work that is scheduled for release. I will keep you posted here. Meanwhile, here are links to the new book that released today, as well as the two books in the series before it. I hope you enjoy them and come to love my girls as much as I do:

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KINDLE EDITION

PRINT EDITION

In one of the darkest times of Britain’s post-Arthurian history, seven priestess sisters left Avalon on a sacred mission to do their part to bring peace and safety to the Goddess worshiping people of their country. Each sister has their own royal target to engage and in their own special way, walk the path The Goddess has laid before them to protect Her people. In this volume, weapons and battle aficionado Aster goes to Hadrian’s Wall to intercept King Urien and his sons who are waging war against the brutal Saxon warlord Aethelfrith. Aethelfrith has cut a bloody and burning swath through Britain and even Saxons are shamed by his vicious, brutal attacks. After months of battle, Aster is sent on a very special mission and that is where her real story begins. In an epic story of love, loss, victory, and compromise, Aster embarks on a high adventure to fulfill the task laid upon her. In the process, she meets a vibrant cast of characters who challenge her beliefs about the people she was taught were her enemies. Return to Avalon…you will be glad you did.

 

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KINDLE & PRINT EDITIONS

Readers loved book one of the series which told the epic tale of two couples: Bran and Lillian and Phillip and Ophelia, two magical families joined together in a campaign to preserve the safety and freedoms of the Goddess worshiping people of Britain as it slipped into the early Dark Ages. Bran and Lillian’s seven daughters are now grown and begin their quests into the seven kingdoms of Britain to return magic to the land and liaison with the country’s leaders to protect the people of the Goddess. In this volume, the fiery haired Rose goes into North Wales to meet with the reclusive King Jacob Rowan who no one has seen in many years. What she finds there is as much a magical journey for herself as it is for her quest and a whole new world opens up for her. Filled with adventure, passion, humor, and magic, this book will pull at your heart strings and take your breath away with its exciting and sexy story of a beautiful priestess who meets a king well in touch with his animal side. Although Rose of Avalon stands on its own as a beautiful, fast-paced story, but the reader’s enjoyment of the series will likely be enhanced by reading The Daughters of Avalon first.

 

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This is an epic saga of two families living at the dawn of the Dark Ages who are brought together not only through the power of magic, but by love and passion that survives through many lifetimes. Together, they work to restore Britain to its glory, battling against political opposition on all sides as the country sinks deeper into despair and oppression.

In this series, you will revisit some of your favorite “fairy tale” stories from the past with a new and “grown up” perspective. As these champions of the Old Ways struggle to bring magic back to Britain, you will find yourself immersed in their sacred, and sometimes dangerous, world.

Daughters of Avalon is a story about the inter-connectedness that touches us all and how the fine strands of circumstance bind us together in an intricate and interwoven dance of life. Bran, The Merlin of Britain Reborn, and the love of his life, Lillian, who is The Lady of the Lake, work to assure the safety of Avalon and the people who practice the Old Ways on the mainland. Working aggressively to end the rampant persecution that took hold after the death of Arthur, they find a unique and unusual way to propagate the return of magic throughout the land.

This is book one of the series Seven Sisters of Avalon that follows the secret ambassadors of Avalon out into the world to preserve the sanctity of magic and find their own adventures in the construct of some of our familiar childhood tales. Enjoy these familiar stories told as you have never heard them before, set against the backdrop of ancient Britain.

 

5 Things I Learned As A Crone

For most of my life, I was the baby in any crowd. It did not help that for a lot of those years, I looked younger than I was. I come from a family of “good skin” and I eat pretty well, so I was often mistaken for being younger than I was.

That being the case, it was slightly breathtaking when life caught up to me and I realized I was a Crone by anyone’s definition. I am over fifty by a good piece. My periods have (mostly) stopped. I have two grandsons who are eleven and twelve. I have six children, all born from my own body, who are now adults. I am an elder in my spiritual tradition.

Wow. That happened fast and I got so busy chasing the things I wanted in my life that I missed a good bit of it. I lived in the past through my regret and guilt and I lived in the future through my longing. I gave up a lot of my present trying to be someone other people thought I should be because I respected them and if they felt I should evolve in the direction of their choosing, then I should work to do so. Of course, because it was not my own authentic design, I failed miserably and disappointed them profoundly.

Now I am apparently, based on the evidence, a Crone and this Samhain seems the perfect time to embrace that aspect of myself. To do so, I will post five major life lessons that Croning has taught me and a few for honorable mention. This is my experience and perhaps it will or will not be yours. Let’s make that number one, shall we?

  1. My life experience is not the same as anyone else’s and that is OK. Often, we need others to validate our opinions and substantiate our beliefs. When it comes to it, that is what social media is all about. From MySpace to Angelfire to IRC and bulletin boards, almost as soon as there was an internet, we started using it to connect with others of like mind. Anyone who spent time on those forums knows the fights that broke out because one person had a different life view from another. One of the beauties of being old in my own experience is that I feel no urgency to convince anyone of anything I believe. I stand in my own truth and if other people are not there, so be it. They can have their own truths without threatening mine. This year, I cut away the parts of my life where I encountered people who needed me to believe the way they do. We all have a piece of the puzzle and honoring diversity of thought and practice is just as important as honoring diversity of sexuality, ethnicity, or gender.
  2. The mistakes I have made in my life do not define me. I learned from them and I look back on many with regret, but they are not who I am and they do not tell my entire story. I have people in my life who I love profoundly who are unable to see past critical mistakes I made at terrible times in my life when I was spinning out of control and had no good choices to make. In taking what I thought would be the least damaging path than the others, bad things happened. Worse things would have happened on the other paths and yet, I lost people I love dearly because I did not get it right a good bit of the time. I am not my mistakes. That is painful for me, but… (#3)
  3. No matter how I try, I cannot control the actions or thoughts of others. I can explain my position and I can apologize and try to make amends, but ultimately, the choice of paths another will take is up to them. For a very long time, I worked hard to keep all of the plates spinning in the air at the same time. I tried to keep as many people as possible happy and that is how we are when we are in Mothering phase. I spent more time trying to please others and do what they thought I should do than I did following what my own spirit led me to do. I handed over my energy, my time, and my focus to the goals of others and often, the goals others had for me. I could never live up to the idealized standard the people I love had for me, so we both considered me to be a complete failure rather than considering that if I followed my own path, I could actualize into the woman I was intended to be. They ultimately could not control me or corral me into who they thought I should be and I could not control them and turn them into who I want them to be or make them think the way I think they should. The best we can do is hope that in fully being ourselves, we somehow manage to be of value to others and if we are not, then that we somehow manage to be of value to ourselves. We cannot make others think a certain way or be a certain way. There is a reason many people hate the phrase “It is what it is.” The idea that situations are immutable is offensive, but it is reality.Ultimately, everyone has their own path to walk and makes their own choices both for what they do and who they will be in the world. We either accept that and welcome them into our lives or reject that and move on.
  4. Beauty is a multi-layered illusion. One of the greatest conflicts I had with both of my husbands is their complete and utter disappointment in the fact that I am fat. My first husband was shattered that once I had babies, my belly stayed soft. Even after running hundreds of miles and working out on a long array of Nautilus machines for years, my muscles were fierce, but my belly and breasts sagged. Over time and a good bit of depression, I gained weight and then he genuinely had a fat wife who he promptly left for someone more in keeping with his desires. My current husband is brokenhearted that he never had a slender, firm wife and that I was fat from the minute he married me. I have tried, sometimes harder than other times, to lose weight for him and earlier, for Paul. So far, it hasn’t happened in any remarkable way. I would love to not haul around extra pounds and to feel light and dainty again. Last year, I planted “health and wellness” and sure enough, a few months ago, I got a near-perfect set of blood panels back from my medical caregiver. The only issue was that my potassium was slightly low and since I had been ill recently, it was not unusual. As I feel the age coming onto me, I know my window is closing to “take care of this” and I feel a desire to do so. In the meantime, I do not feel a lack of beauty or sexiness. I feel whole. I do not feel inadequate around women who are more of society’s standards of beauty, although my husband occasionally feels that inadequacy on my behalf and is frustrated by my lack of success in that regard. In a strong discussion on this topic recently, my husband challenged me to put the question into social media: If a husband is physically fit and handsome and his wife is fifteen years older than he is and significantly overweight, does he have the right to demand that she lose the weight and to be angry with her if she does not? I never did that, mostly because I did not wish to put more attention onto the subject than was already there. He interprets my lack of weight loss as a lack of love or respect I have for him. If I loved him, I would lose weight so he would feel proud of me and not ashamed of how I look. For a lot of reasons, I do not have an answer for that and part of my Croning lessons became that I do not define myself or my beauty through his eyes or anyone else’s. Sure, I would love for him to look at me and think that I am beautiful. He doesn’t. He never has. That is just the truth of it. He finds value in me otherwise. Considering item #3, I have to let that be his own truth and to understand that it is not my truth. Not in a body dysmorphic way, I feel beautiful and vibrant. I have tried to see myself through his filters and it just doesn’t work for me.
  5. Body functions are vital and completely amazing. As a younger person, we take our marvelous, miraculous bodies for granted. We will eat whatever we want, we will sleep whenever we can, and we will poop eventually. As an older person, I began to recognize that there is very little that is more gratifying than a really excellent poop, a truly delicious meal that does not leave us feeling acidy, groggy, bloated, or queasy afterward, and a deep, long restorative sleep.

Honorable Mention:

Time moves faster. The rumors are true.

I cry easier, but feel the feels in a beautiful, strong way.

I love more deeply, but I am choosier about who I love.

Sex is better.

I can appreciate little babies again and not want one of my own.

No one notices when I talk to myself or the invisibles because A) crazy old lady or B) she probably has a bluetooth headset (I don’t).

My animals love me more, but I am more in tune with the cycle of life and although it hurts like hell, I understand better when I have to let them go.

The heartfelt moments are more precious to me.

Photos are important.

Hugs are more important.

“Sharing space” is vital, but alone time is as well, so a nice balance is ideal.

There are assholes, there will always be assholes, and there have always been assholes and usually, the assholes are the loudest in any bunch.

The world does not stop if I say “No” to something I really do not want to do.

Resentment is a contaminant no one should carry around.

The Goddess can be kind of a bitch sometimes.

Pageantry and ceremony are wonderful in magic, but end results and effectiveness are the most important part.

Not everyone is going to love you and it is a major error to invest more energy into pleasing those people than you do into pleasing the people who do love you.

Hair grows back.

A handsome man is delicious, but a stupid man is unbearable.

Trashy people live on drama. Find a different entree.

Leggings are not pants.

No one will find your money if you hide it in a thin sanitary napkin in your purse.

Whether you exhaust yourself doing all the right things or do half of the right things and get some rest, the outcome will be the same…you will just be more rested in the second case.

No matter how much you fight fate and destiny, those bitches have GPS and will find your ass.