Monday, May 31, 2010

The Keys to Success

One of the most profound things I realized in my Boundaries and Ethics class was that we seem to acknowledge Amissio, Loss so much more than Aquisitio, Gain. For example, consider how much time, energy and effort we invest in funeral and memorial rites to acknowledge a death and how little seem to go into a birth. Following suit, we also seem to lament failure so much more than celebrate success.

But if you take a look at anyone who has succeeded, you will see that their road to success is riddled with the potholes and flat tires of their failures. But they did not stop or turn back, they pushed forward with tenacious fortitude. Despite the numerous obstacles placed in front of them, by their adversaries, by their friends and perhaps most of all, by themselves.

Like many initiatory orders, our tradition also has its own Guardian of the Threshold. The Guardian of our Threshold is personified by the Cerberus, and each of its three heads represents a particular aspect of the initiates tribulation. And those three aspects are a direct product of the initiate himself, ergo, the path which leads into our Zotheca is amply guarded by all those who desire admittance. The only thing stopping them, is them.

The key to success, is Virtuous Labor. No one will let you in the back door. No one will do the work for you. Success is not an entitled allotment, but a bountiful harvest of the fruits of our virtuous labors and tenacious fortitude. You must do the work yourself, you must do the work ON yourself.

This past Friday I tasted the sweetness of a small piece of that fruit. I have been a volunteer Wiccan chaplain for several state facilities, for several years now. Friday I was given my own key to one of them. A small but powerful token for this initiate.

Thank you Lord and Lady for teaching me one of the keys to success, is trust.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Memorial Day

It's funny, looking back I notice that many of my posts regarding my feelings and experiences with post traumatic stress and other Iraqi aftershocks are reflected by wands.

Sometimes they stir up the sentiment and emotion, lying shallow beneath my surface, other times like this, I select them as they so adequately reflect those that have surfaced on their own.

Those are the worst ones, the ones that come of their own accord. Without warning. That's the worse part of PTSD, you don't have any warning, or control over when it happens. You never know whats going to set it off. You think you do, and you shy away from those things. And after you finally conquer the fear of those triggers, you end up tripping over new ones.

Today I took my Priestess out for Sushi, her favorite lunch and her favorite restaurant. It was our own little celebration of her college graduations before the big one tomorrow. She is the first one in her Mom's family to graduate from college so EVERYONE is coming.

We've been going there for years, we know the owner and staff quite well and my daughter even worked there for a while. We have our regular seats, and I've become comfortable there. I don't need to sit with my back to a wall, and monitor everyone's movements, although the urge is still there.

I love the Ninja roll, my usual. It's hot, spicy and messy, but I haven't changed my order in over four years. Its comforting. There is a traditional Japanese greeting that is announced by all the staff every time someone enters the restaurant, my own little warning bell. It too is comforting. I chewed slowly as I watch the man lumber in with his large bulging nylon briefcase. It seemed to cold for the beads of sweat near his ears.

His face was flushed and I remember thinking how out of shape he must be. But more than that, there was something else out of place. I couldn't place it. He excused himself to the restroom as I replayed his entry over and over, my wife's voice echoing in the background. His suit was fancy, expensive, but his watch was a cheap five dollar knockoff. And so was his briefcase.

His briefcase.

It was then that the feeling of absolute terror took me. I put my arm around my wife and hugged her tight. There is a rear exit next to the restroom. I looked at her, so happy, so excited. She was still talking but my heartbeat drowned out her beautiful voice. As I looked down at the briefcase, through my throbbing heartbeat, I swear I could hear the ticking. I remember thinking, she graduates tomorrow, one more day, one more day. I held her tighter, the light and life in her eyes has always been so calming. I told myself it wasn't a bomb, it wasn't a bomb, it wasn't a bomb...

The Sushi chef behind the bar looked at me, looked at the briefcase, looked at the back door and looked at me again. He shared my concern for only a moment before he looked up and smiled at the returning customer. Apparently, the man had a very "close call."

He wasn't the only one.

There is a whole generation of us. you see us everyday and you'd never know, the battles we fought, and how close we came to death over there. While I can recount a handful of thoughts, I cannot express in words, the feeling of almost dying so many times, since I've been home.

Memorial Day is this Monday, and what is remembered lives, remember them.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The High Priestess, a card from the Joe Tarot

They say that behind every great man is a great women, and it's true. I know because I am in fact a great man, and that's only because of the great woman beside me. My High Priestess.

I met her the day I drove into town, and we've been together ever since. We were both single parents, who divorced our previous spouses for behaviors too gruesome to mention here.

She was and is strong, independent and above all an amazing mother. When I met her I had an antique cell phone which I kept in my glove box in the rare event I needed to make a call. She sent me my first text massage ever, I didn't even know what a text message was until then. We and technology have come a long was since then, a few months ago she bought me an iphone and we still text all the time.

When we first took over management of our care home, it had a very poor history and hadn't passed a inspection in many years, despite the excessive staff. We have been running this place for over five years now, just the two of us and we haven't missed a beat.

Working at home has many benefits, after being gone overseas for so long, it was nice to send my kids off to school, and be there when they got home. Not long after we got settled in, I told her that our lifestyle afforded us unique opportunities and so did our location. We live only a few blocks from the College of the Sequoias, and it would be a waste if we didn't take advantage of the blessings of opportunity which have been afforded to us.

She always talked about wanting to go to back to school, and about how much she would have loved to study Law. I told her that if she didn't go back to school next semester she would be suck at home, while I went. The next morning when the alarm woke us up to prepare breakfast for the house full of clients and kids, she said, "it's ok baby, you were up late last night, sleep in and I'll take care of breakfast."

And she did. Then she slipped out and went down the the college and enrolled herself, and I've been stuck at home while she went to college. Well perhaps "stuck" isnt an accurate depiction, after all if it wasn't for her I wouldn't have never done everything I have accomplished. If is wasn't for her, I wouldn't be able to volunteer at the prison at all, much less a full day every week.

We were Handfasted under the mulberry tree in our backyard. Our marriage was the first ritual anyone outside our family ever saw. And that ritual induced the curiosity and interest of many people, we began holding group circles, and later founded a Coven. That Coven developed into a tradition, a prison ministry and a very successful community organization. Mill Creek Church has been meeting at a local metaphysical store several times a month for over a year now, and last weeks ritual had such a large turn out that we ran out of chairs, we been blessed with the complications of accommodating fellowship.

But our success is not just gauged by the quantity of fellows, but the quality of fellowship. And we have found both. I have asserted my status as the Low Priest (the only one you'll ever meet). And the fellowship has asserted my wife's status as the High Priestess, a title she has repeatedly denies.

But if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and talks like a duck, then obviously its a High Priestess. I've seen her grow, I've seen her overcome obstacles both personal and professional, I've seen her attend to our Coven and "congregation" with compassion, consideration and commitment befitting such a title. There are those people who can be "challenging" to deal with, and as a person, you may not want them in your home. But as a Priestess, she couldn't in good conscious deny them religious services. she said that they, more than anyone, stand to benefit most from the Craft.

Spoken like a true Priestess.

If it wasn't for her I wouldn't be who I am today, and I really like me. I like to think I have had a huge influence on her, I would love to take responsibility and credit for all that she has accomplished, but I can't because, she did it all herself. And next week we will be celebrating that at her graduation party. She will be graduating from the College of the Sequoias with her Associates in Science, which includes certificates for Paralegal, Legal Secretary and Legal Clerk.

I am so proud of her...

They say that behind every great man is a great women, and it's true. I know because I am in fact a great man, and that's only because of the great woman beside me. My High Priestess.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Beware of Falling Leaves


It's funny, looking at the barn in this picture you would never suspect what lies within. I think about this while sitting in the parking lot almost every day for a few months now, and it never gets old.

A large Ram truck pulls up, and a man dismounts. He's a Cowboy from his boots to his buckle to his hat. Most days you can see the horn of his saddle peeking out the pack of his dusty truck as he moseys inside the old barn.

Not long after that a Plumbers work truck arrives, the driver grabs his duffel bag and heads toward the same obscure door. A Jaguar glides in and a man dressed as someone who drives a Jaguar, also heads in with a bag after beeping his car alarm. Then a soccer mom in her minivan, a college student in his VW and a WitchDoctor dismounts his Harley, bringing up the rear.

Its always so surprising that no ones else in the busy gas station parking lot seems to notice something I would consider, quite odd. Its incredible how quickly and drastically the scenery and ambiance can change. Opening the door you first see shoes, lots of shoes. Then you begin to notice the mats and lattice. As you step in you smell jasmine incense and the faint prickle of flute music which often invokes memories of some poorly dubbed Kung Fu movie from the late eighties.

It unlike any other martial arts school you will ever encounter. There are no trophies accumulated but students from years of victorious competition. But there is an altar. I have come to appreciate the sanctuary of this hidden temple. It has become a holy of hollies for trans-personal growth.

I have advanced to the next level of learning, as indicated by my new fangled belt (insert big cheesy grin here). Last week I was having yet another difficulty with yet another technique, the hand motion in particular was comprehensible. My teacher again said, "stop, now close your eyes... imagine a large tree, now your hand is a leaf on that tree, new let it fall gently and gracefully to the ground..."

Anyone who knows me, or reads my Blog enough knows how incredibly significant the falling leaf is to my family and our tradition. *There are no coincidences* So after this lesson of spiritual insight, I again performed the technique, the very large two hundred fifty plus MMA fighter again came at me, but the leaf fell, gently and gracefully, and so did my large friendly attacker. But gently and peacefully, not so much...

(please insert a larger cheesier grin here)

Through my experiences in various forms of combat I have developed my own formula for success: Speed, Power & Accuracy are the three factors of a successful attack. The more Accuracy you have, the less Power you need, and so forth, you get the idea. But that was all wrong...

TRUE VICTORY IS VICTORY OVER ONES SELF. ~ O`Sensei

Its not about being strong or powerful, in fact the bigger and stronger you are, the harder and faster you come at an Aikidoka, the more devastating it is for you. The secret to power, is peace. The secret to strength, is softness.

WISDOM IS THE PROPER APPLICATION OF KNOWLEDGE, AND MAGIC IS THE RESULT.

That ones mine, you can quote me.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle

Its funny how things come together. Its really cool when you see all the separate pieces, recognize them for what they are, see them fit together in your head and end up being right. Its very cool.

Originally I was going to title this post "Magic Things" with an aim of following suit with the last post, Magic Words. But Mothers day, much like my Mother, has had a powerful influence on how things have turned out.

In my last post I mentioned the power of words. This post was mostly going to be about putting those powerful words into things and it still is, but not how you might think.

A few months back I gave a crash course class in spiritual protection for our local Tulare County Paranormal Society, where I volunteer as, yes, you guessed it, a Chaplain. During that class we had a great discussion develop on the subject of Talismans and Amulets when someone asked what the difference was between the two.

My answer was that Talismans were natural objects, such as stones, animal bones or other in my case, Teeth. The particular set of incisors I have worn around my neck for nearly two decades is a powerful form of protective magic, they are the bared teeth of an animal, and the message is quite simple, "Grrrrrrrrr."

Whereas with Amulets, they are specially made for a particular purpose, to contain magic words. I have a very nice silver pendant, the all seeing eye in the pyramid. Some magic words have not only been engraved on the back, but very special words have been placed inside the eye, inside the pyramid, inside the triangle of manifestation. Placed there by a very special person, the Grand Master of the Illuminated Seers of Bavaria. Very Cool.

A few days ago, I read a very cool Blog by Kenaz Filan about the Evil Eye. Which besides being a really cool Blog, reminded me of "The Ojo" or the Mexican Evil Eye. In my wife's culture it is believed that when you see an infant, you must touch it gently, if you don't the Ojo will go after it. So many times my wife has come home from the store where she saw the most beautiful baby while waiting in the check out line, but was unable to touch it because it was either too far away, or the parents were not Mexican or did not appear to be appreciative of the attention she was giving their child.

She finally came home one day saying "there's gatta be a spell or something we can do!" she not only came up with a great spell but a great container. The spell refers to seeing through "Infinite Eyes," and its beautiful. Within our tradition we have technique and technology for spell crafting and casting, we also have a technique for placing those magic words inside special containers, and yes, its pretty cool.

I was raised Pagan. My Mom was and still is an incredibly powerful Witch. She used to program crystals and hide them all around me, one hidden in my car to make me drive better, one under my bed to help me sleep and keep nightmares away. One to make me do my homework, I could really use that one right now.

Moonstone Jewelry is a great online store for high quality magic jewelry, or as in our case, jewelry with the potential for magic. My wife used infinity rings, imbued with a prayerful spell of loving protection for innocent children, she can't touch. Yeah, that too is pretty cool.

I started out Mother's Day, talking to my Mom. And I spent the day appreciating her, and her damn magic rocks. It was then that I had a powerful revelation, I too, was one of her rocks. She spent years putting her magic words into me. She spent years raising me, teaching me, shaping and molding and after years of investment, she had to let go and standby and just see what happened, hoping her magic words were strong, that they were powerful, that they were... enough.

They were strong, they were powerful, they were enough. I had an amazing childhood because my Mother used magic and powerful words to create not only the world she wanted to live in, but the world she wanted me to be raised in, and what an amazing world it was.

I Think about the magic words I have used to create the world I live in, and the world I've created for my children to be raised in. I watch my wife, as she crafts her magic words and places them inside our children and I know from experience that they will be strong, they will be powerful and they will be enough.

And that too is very cool.

Thank you Lord and Lady, for the Mother that raised me so well, and for the Mother that's raising mine so well.

Blessed Be.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Magic Words

"Words have power. Printed words, indeed, can arouse the most potent emotions. They can excite joy, passion, peace, and rage within their readers." ~Scott Cunningham

I think that's what spells is really all about, the power of words. I've seen it time and time again, manifesting itself in multiple aspects of my life. And the more you look, the more you see. Funny how that works.

I have seen first hand the various powers of words. I saw it in the piles of bodies, lying in unearthed mass graves, left to bake in the sun of Iraq. I saw it in the tears of a my wife as she accepted my proposal. I saw it in the peaceful eyes of a dying women. I saw it in the Leaf which was engraved on her tombstone.
Our tradition teaches "the proper expression of will," and I have come to recognize the potent fertility of my own words. Scott's quote has really hit home with me recently. I have repeatedly had my potent emotions aroused in the process of completing certain Christian based academic requirements.

But again, I also see the benefits of this painful process as well. When I speak about our belief and practice of spell craft, I emphasize the power of words because the words you use create the world you live in, just as much as the words you DON'T use. In a Boundaries and Ethics class I learn the incredible power of one of the most magical words in existence, "NO." And whenever I have spoke at the prisons on this, someone has always said, "If I had used that word, I wouldn't be here..."

Scott's quote again struck home when I received words from several different sources notifying me that one my colleagues in the Pagan community has been hard at work making slanderous allegations in a continuing effort to follow through with a threat to discredit me. *Sigh*

But lest we not forget the other side of that coin, the magic words of others. How powerful are the words of others? How much influence do those words have in the creation of the world you live in? How much influence do you allow them to have? In remembering that I have a choice in the matter, I have again become the King of Wands. Not all of them, just the ones in my kingdom.