Heat

I live in Central Arizona. Most of the world thinks that the entire state of Arizona is a huge desert, full of cactus and devoid of greenery, where temperatures soar into the hundreds in the summer. While that is true for Central and Southern Arizona, I can tell you that the northern part of the state is not like that. We get snow, cooler temperatures. There are forests and lakes to fish. And, when I was living in the northern part of the Arizona, I enjoyed summers of mild temperatures with only a couple of weeks out of the season with temperatures over one hundred degrees. It was heaven.

In the central part of the state, however, near the capitol of Phoenix, summers can reach temperatures of one hundred degrees and often more. Typically, the weather jumps from tolerable to something right next door to Hell, with Hell being the more preferable place to visit. I don’t do well in this kind of heat. Most people have problems with depression in the winter. I have problems with depression in the summer. I am more of a ‘pine trees and mountains and snow’ kind of person and I like to be outside. But, because I find it difficult to tolerate the summer heat in our suburb of Phoenix, I can’t go outside very much.

So, as I was sitting at my desk, looking out the window, contemplating the weather and watching the birds outside pant in the heat, this poem came pouring out of me. As I re-read it and did some editing, I realized that it is not only about this extreme weather. It is also a metaphor for other things, as most poems tend to be. And, since there is no denying this creative urge and the need to write it all down, I thought I would share it. I will leave it up to you to decide the meaning of the metaphor.

Your comments are welcome.

———————-

                         USTILO

 There you are, rising from

      the dust;

         Climbing,

                Shining.

Hues pulsate with breath,

                                     With Life.

               You dizzy me, spinning

                                     shimmering.

        You are a mirage on

                an inferno land

                in the Day of Endless Sun.

Moving slowly,

        flowing like melting paint,

                your fever expands,

                searing fingers sinking into

                        everything.

I breathe the scorching air.

Falling away, shadows receding,

        My eyes blinded

                as the disk of the sun

                        screams at them.

I seek escape and find none.

        Flames dance within-

                -without-

           The invisible waltz

                        of hungry destruction.

I beg the sky to tilt –

        An impossible request.

All I touch and all I know

        is invaded by those fingers

                of relentless degree.

 

Oh, how I long for Winter.

 

© JoBeth Sexton – 6/6/2016

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Why I Have Been Absent From Social Media Lately

Some of you might know. Most of you do not.

For the past eight or ten years, I have been having some serious problems with my reproductive organs. There has been way too much blood for too long and some things in my life changed drastically. This was not due to anything but naturally occurring physical changes in my organs; things that typically happen when a woman starts getting older. And, let’s face it; I am not twenty-six anymore, as much as I would like to think I could still do the things I could do when I was.

I had a procedure a few years ago that was thought to be a measure to stop the results of the physical changes. Thermal ablations are a way to help women who have too much bleeding, to the point of anemia. That was me. And it didn’t have the desired result.

On May 7th, 2015 around 1:30 in the afternoon, I went into surgery to have a hysterectomy. I wasn’t overly apprehensive about the procedure. But, I was nervous about being ‘put under’ since I dream so much and it has become a part of my everyday existence that I rely on dreaming to teach me, communicate from my subconscious and reveal things to me that might happen and sometimes do happen. But, I digress…

I had that surgery and since that day, I have been at home recuperating. Everyone that I had spoken to before the surgery about recovery has said that they were feeling fairly normal by day three or four, with no need to take any pain medication by that time. I expected something similar. But, I did not take into account that I, as I have mentioned above, am not twenty-six anymore.

Recovery is taking much longer than expected. This was, after all, my first major, highly invasive surgery since a cesarean section in 1989. Back then, when I was twenty-one, I was able to bounce back rather quickly (and now I have stamped a date on my forehead). This time, I find myself exhausted after just a few chores, wanting a nap in the afternoon, sleeping poorly because it is difficult to get comfortable and other things you probably don’t want to hear about.

There was some bruising which offers a lingering soreness, also. As can be expected, some slight bruising around the incision sites; five small cuts below the waist so the doctor could go in with a DaVinci Robot (a relatively new tool for operations such as this) and take out the organs. I somehow got a weird bruise on my back that mysteriously appeared after surgery (since I was unconscious, I don’t know how it got there), and a bruised vein in my left arm from where the I.V. delivered fluids, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications and Morphine.

Morphine is, in my opinion, a very mean drug with bothersome and sinister side effects. But, I was grateful for it because my pain level was higher than I, or my doctor, thought it would be.

Also, during this time, I have been traveling through some spiritual landscapes. Reading a few books and discovering more about life and about Spirit. I have started having dreams within dreams with total recall. Yesterday, during a one hour and fifteen minute nap, I had a dream within a dream, within a dream. For me, that is a first. But, I welcome the new experience with no fear. I trust it because I had not had any medication for much more then twelve hours (yes, I know some medications take much longer to leave to body. I also know my body).  I also had two dreams within dreams the week before surgery.

I look at this as a turning point in my life. Something is happening far beyond the scope of having part of my body removed. My eyes are opening just a little bit more. Strange as it sounds, I feel more awake. But, I also feel that my dreams are more important. They are part of the journey, which is not linear but travels in many directions at once.

Some of you may wonder why I did not tell you that I was going into surgery before the fact, since we are friends or family and, perhaps, you feel you should have been told. Please, don’t be offended. It is for the same reason that I did not take calls for the first few days after surgery. I didn’t say anything before so those dear to me would not worry and would not feel an obligation to visit me in the hospital or try to offer support. You are all busy enough with your own lives and my support ‘group’ was and is a strong and loving one. It’s okay that you weren’t informed. I am telling you now. I am okay.

I didn’t say anything during the last week because recuperating is hard work and lots of rest and naps were required. Surgery was much more stressful on this body than I had anticipated. One moment I would be sitting up, reading and the next, so tired I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Those of you who have had invasive surgery can probably relate.

I am here. I am back now. A little changed for the better in a lot of ways. It’s funny what changes a simple thing like this can bring about. I was so worried that I wrote out a Living Will. My fears were unfounded, rooted in baseless apprehension that I had to set aside. And, for the next seven weeks, I will have much time to listen to my body, listen to my dreams, listen to those who love me, listen and be still… As difficult as it may be. I am not one to lounge around, ‘eating Bon-Bons and watching soap operas’ as the 1970s saying goes. By then end of those seven weeks, this house is going to feel terribly small.

But, it will make small journeys that are much more worth the trip.

Thank you all for understanding.

Visions within Visions

It began as a suggestion. Several years ago, a friend and fellow artist suggested to me that I might like the art of Gage Taylor, an artist from the 1960s and 1970s who created wild, imaginative scenes of delicate and fierce detail so fine that one glance would never be enough to find all of the amazing creatures in his works. The book that was embedded in that suggestion was called “Visions” and was published in 1977, a long time ago in the eyes of the younger generation, those of you who now dominate the work force.

I found the book on Amazon.com and immediately ordered it since it was well within my budget. When it arrived, I was mesmerized, to say the least. I browsed it and flipped through the pictures again and again, populating my own imaginings with pictorial meanderings of ‘what if’ and extrapolations on the scenarios within the artwork presented on the slightly discolored pages.

Then, as it does with us all, life happened. A whirlwind of moves to different locations, acclimations to weather and community, adjustments to living space, treatments for arthritis and other ailments got in the way of many things, including my inspiration and the creation of my own personal artwork, much to my dismay. My Muse seemed to have gone on a very long vacation.

For about a four years the world seemed to dull around the edges, except for the bright spot of finding the man I married and as things will do once we accept where we are in life and settle down in mind as well as body, I could once again focus. After months of adjusting, pieces of the puzzle that had been blown out of the bigger picture were again drifting back down into place. The Muse began knocking, whispering, singing…insisting. It felt as if my heart had started to beat again. I could feel the energy coming back into my ragged fingers, flowing from the Sun, from the Earth and from that unseen realm that houses the Muses and the Goddess. Unpacking the last of the boxes from our final move was becoming rather a welcome adventure, something akin to having a birthday and opening gifts two or three times a week. What was once a tedious task had become a very enjoyable part of my day. And that’s when I found it again.

The book, ‘Visions’ appeared within one of the boxes, tucked in where I had packed it. I put it in a stack of other books, planning to review it again when I had the time. But, my Muse had other plans. It was as if the pictures within that book were demanding my attention. So, I took just that book with me and sat in a comfortable spot and began to read the introduction, something that I had neglected to do the first time I opened it. Introductions are boring some of the time and I don’t always give them enough credit. In this case, I should have and went about correcting my mistake.

Once the introduction was read and my mind was full of all kinds of quotes from the artists in this book, I began to turn the pages, seeing the art in a new light, with new understanding of each artist and the ‘why’ of their creation process. Not just the end result. It was so much like my own that I felt that kinship you sometimes feel when you can relate to a protagonist in a great novel in such a way that you have trouble putting the book down to eat lunch (I don’t read books while I eat for fear of damaging the pages).

One of the plates within this book simply reached out and grabbed me. I know that analogy is over used. But, what can I say? I saw it, and it seemed to see me through dark eyes that held no iris, white or pupil. The detail was poured out on the canvas in what I would call a stream of consciousness progression. There were no mistakes because all brush strokes seemed to have been used to morph an idea into another idea, another shape, another morph. It reminded me of my dreams  and of some of my meditations in which I become immersed in the journey and not the destination I had in mind when I started. Seeing this painting, plate 21 entitled “Untitled” in the book, but later given the title “Bethann”, I knew I had to try to get permission from the artist and visionary Nick Hyde to use this image. For me it did not represent any person here on Earth as I see those that populate this mundane world. Instead, I saw a perfect representation of one of the faces of my Matron Goddess; The Morrigan.  So, I fell instantly in love in a way that one could not fall in love with anything tangible (Before you start thinking that I have totally lost it, think about how you feel about that perfect sunset or that song that makes you float on air-It’s love).  I knew I had to try to obtain permission to use this image at least on my blog, so I would have it with me, in some way, for the rest of my life. Ideally, I would like to have it hanging on the wall near my bed so it is the last thing I see at night and the first thing in the morning and that may happen soon. But, for the moment, I set my mind on contacting the appropriate people.

I emailed and received a reply from a publishing company to contact the artist. I found the artist’s website and emailed again, only to have my email be sent back undeliverable. So, I called the number available on the artist’s website and in just two day’s time, I received a call back and through a two part conversation was granted permission by the artist to use this incredible painting.

So, I would say to those of you who are artists and who enjoy a good mental vacation brought about by one who has painted something out of at least one person’s dream world, go! Look! Click your mouse button and go see what else this artist has to offer.

But, first, taste this.

“BethAnn”

nick_hyde_bethann

© NICK HYDE 1970. Used with kind permission.

(Thank you, Mr. Hyde. I am grateful and honored for the permission to use this image.)

Find him and his works here… https://www.smockingbooks.com/nickhydeartist/paintings.html

(A word of caution and a side note: Do not use any art, anywhere, whether it be online or offline, without the permission of the artist. It isn’t difficult to track down most artists. All it takes is a little time and energy. Use without permission is theft, plain and simple. I wouldn’t want that karma chasing me down…would you?)

The Unexpected Gift

Good Morning.

I have to tell you about one of the things that has happened to me recently. It isn’t something that is life changing in and of itself, although it could lead to a life changing event, I suppose.

For a while  now, my computers have not worked. As I mentioned in the last blog entry, the laptop crashed, never to return. All my pictures…lost. No back up to retrieve that I know of.

My husband and I were desperately trying to figure out a way that we could save enough, or find a way to buy on credit, a computer of some kind that I could use to maintain the few things that I do, including my online store and this blog. No hope was in sight. None…

Out of the blue, I received a gift. I really great laptop, free of charge, from friends who have come back into our lives fairly recently. A totally unexpected and very appreciated gift. I had forgotten all about it until last night, when they arrived. And, now, perhaps, I will be able to do all of those things that I have been waiting to do. A little at a time…One word, one picture, one upload at a time.

So, thank you to our friends who are among the most generous people I have ever met. I thank the Goddess and God for you.

A New Old Skill

As I get older and my body protests more to the things that I liked to do when I was younger, I am finding the necessity to learn how to do more of the things that don’t require great physical exertion. As much as I am loathe the admit it, I am getting old. I am not ancient, not by a long-shot. But, neither am I of the age where digging a hole in the yard for a garden can go without real side effects.

A few years ago, I discovered the art of Pyrograhpy. And, even though Google Chrome does not like the spelling of that word, it is a legitimate form of creating pictures, symbols, etc. A more common way of writing it would be ‘wood burning’. When I started, I was using my inexpensive wood burning tool, the kind that can be found at many Art supply stores and even some ‘super-stores’ all around the area in which we live.  It was a way to create my art on a surface or object that might be useful, more than just pretty. An example is a Tarot box with designs or magickal symbols burned into it: pretty and functional.

Then I discovered that there were complete kits for wood burning that had all kinds of tips and more than one pen. Heck, these units even had a button to control the level of heat used! Neat!

So, I managed to make enough money with sales from my humble online (and sometimes real-time) store to buy myself a kit with two pens and all the trimmings!  I was, and am, very excited. I had been creating some beautiful things with the simple, primitive wood burning tool. Now, I have the capability to create some very detailed and stunning work. It’s just going to take some practice to get used to the new ‘toy’ because of all the bells and whistles. But, a little each day, small steps at first. I have to walk before I can run, right?

In the meantime, I am going to leave you with some examples of my work using the simple tool. These are Spirit Boards, made from raw sheets of plywood, shaped, burned and stained by me.

ENJOY!

Celtic Spirit Board

BOARD TREE

Thoughts From A Shadowed Room

Wow. Yes, it’s been a very long time since I have written anything here. But, don’t think that means I haven’t been writing in other, more personal, less visible places. I have kept a journal almost my entire life. I have so many notebooks and small journals full of writings that you would think I would never run out of things to post publicly.

Strangely, I have a dilemma about posting, which is one of the reasons I started this blog in the first place. My dilemma is that I am shy about making my personal thoughts public. At the same time, I realize that there are some out there who might benefit from the things that ramble through my head. Also, it helps me to write things down where I can get some kind of feedback, see what others might think, or read about how some might think I am full of …well… you know. I wanted to publish my thoughts to help toughen my ‘skin’. For there are other reasons, too, you see.

I have written over two dozen short stories. I have penned at least two novellas and countless poems and prose. And, in order to gain some insightful feedback, I decided to start this blog. Some of the writings are Fiction, even Science Fiction. Some are of a Pagan and Witchcraft nature. Some are erotica and some are just plain, down-to-earth stories. So, to find out what ‘a general public’ might like or not, I wanted to make these things, all of them, not just the Fiction, public. So many reasons for doing a simple thing.

Here is where I laugh at myself. It is not such a simple thing when it comes down to pushing that ‘enter’ key. All of those voices that tell me how stupid, how hollow or how mundane and lifeless an entry is start clamoring in my head. They ridicule me long before any one else gets the chance. And I start to crumble, my resolve to DO THIS thing turns to mush. My finger wavers. And suddenly…

…I am that little girl on the playground who is surrounded by wicked, jeering children who push me and pull my hair and call me ugly and stupid. They punch me in the stomach and push me to the ground and throw my books in the gutter. And I cry because I feel so helpless. In a flash it all happens again. I see a minor case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the making. But, then I think to myself, “What could this current public to do me that has not already been done by those mean school mates?”

The answer, of course, is ‘Nothing’.

I guess that I am just telling you all that what I have to say is just as important as what any one else might say on any given topic or what any one else might write for any purpose, whether to entertain or to educate. No, I don’t have a very ‘thick skin’. But, don’t let that stop you from saying what ever it is that you want to say about any blog post I might create. I don’t have to publish it if I don’t want to (that’s one of the great things about blogging).  If you say what is on your mind, I might learn a thing or two. So might you.

I guess what I am just saying here is that there is so much more I could fill these pages with. And, I just might do it, a little at a time. I can be twisted and deviant. I can be poetic and magical. I can be troublesome. I can be agreeable. My writing, just like my psyche, has many facets. We are, each of us, a bright jewel of information, entertainment and nonsense.

Things will follow. I may not write for weeks. But, hopefully, that does not mean I will lose readers of this blog because, make no mistake, I plan to knock your socks off at some point in time. After much editing and re-writing in some cases. But, someday.

And I EXPECT some kind of comment, feedback, reply, criticism or rating.

Happy Holidays to all.  And to all a good write!

The Call of the Goddess

The Call of the Goddess

             One of the things that is important to every Pagan and Witch is knowing which Goddess or God they resonate with, the ONE that they can say is their Matron / Patron. It can be an easy thing to discover or a difficult thing to discover, depending on each person and their Path and characteristics. If you a are stubborn person (like me), it can be a more difficult thing to discover and to hear the name of the Goddess who calls you. If you are a more easy-going person, it may be just a matter of waking up one morning and knowing. I think, once a Spiritual Student reaches a certain point in their Path, they have a need, not just a desire, to know the face of the Goddess who would claim them.

 The Call is different for each of us. Yet, the result is the same or very similar. By the Call, I mean that event in a witch’s life when she is called by an aspect of the Goddess to become Her daughter. From then on, that Goddess is your matron Goddess, your Mother. And it doesn’t have to be the Goddess; it could be an aspect of the God. I can’t tell you what it will be like for you. All I can do it tell you the story of how it happened for me.  

            When my Call first happened, I was very young and stubborn. I heard the call of the crows every day and, even though I knew it was significant, my preconceived notions about the bird itself blocked my way. I thought that they were ugly, ungraceful and disgusting because they were carrion eaters. I found their calls every morning to be annoying. Yet, every morning, their symphony of sounds would pierce my awareness. All I had to do was open the door to step outside. There they were, perched on the power poles and electrical wires and in the trees by the dozens. Yes, they would have been there anyway. But, it was because I noticed them that I should have paid more attention and tried to figure out why I was noticing them.

            I did not research. I was pointedly ignoring them. I would not realize then that they were the voice of the Goddess who had claimed me. Apparently, I needed to be shaped in many ways still. And that is what happened.

            Soon after that point in my life, I became involved in a coven. During one of our rituals, I had a vision in which I saw and heard many Ravens / Crows. They were flying all around the image of a Goddess that I took to be Morgan le Fay (because I was currently reading a book about her). At that time, I did not know enough to realize that it was not Morgan le Fay but The Morrigan who was speaking up and getting my attention. I tried to put the two together and it could not be done. So many things just did not equal out. The Morgan le Fay personification did not even feel the same as The Morrigan did. And, honestly, The Morrigan scared me…to my bones. So, I left it alone and did nothing to educate myself.

            It wasn’t until I began to dream that I had the beginnings of a suspicion about what was going on. This is the dream that made me start to pay attention:

************************************

                       I was with others in a building that looked, from the outside, like an old convent. The walls were bare stone and the floors were hard. There wasn’t much in each room but a bed. On the lower floor everything was very loud, aesthetically, and richly decorated. There were game tables and people were gambling.  This building was in the middle of the forest.  I noticed that I had packed enough for 5 days, though I was only to be there for two.

I had a friend who was very ill and could not get up from bed. I knew I had to get something from the forest to heal her.  So, I sneaked out. I went into the forest barefoot and I really did not know what I needed or what to look for. I knelt on the ground and pleaded with the Goddess to show me and I knew She would. 

The rising sun was bright as I looked up into a tree and saw a very large crow.  Somehow, I communicated to her the fact that I needed to heal someone and desperately needed help.

The bird took flight and when she streaked off, looked like a tiny, half-formed woman flying with her hair streaming back.  I had a difficult time keeping up with her and finally she stopped and settled on a table which had on it a squeeze bottle with oil in it and a very large glass vial or jar with a ‘CrystalCave’ label on it.

I think the word ‘protection’ was written on it.

              I looked up at the bird and said, “Thank you, Mother”. 

            I took those things and was going back to the building when I got woke up.”   (The Crystal Cave was an occult shop I used to visit in Claremont, California. It isn’t there anymore.)

********************************

             Because I have always dreamed very vividly and could remember much of my dreams, I wrote this one down, since it applied very closely to what was going on in my life. But, still, I was not ready to give myself to the Goddess as The Morrigan. I was afraid. Apparently, I needed more shaping and honing…and that is what happened. It was not easy and it was painful in many ways. It almost finished me. 

            The turning point for me was more than five years ago. I was living several miles outside Show Low, Arizona, on a piece of land through which The Wild would make itself known everyday. When I first moved there, nearly eleven years ago, I was apprehensive about wandering around alone or staying outside by myself. But, as time passed, I became more familiar with the energy, with the animals and with the Path. I began to realize that the Goddess and God were in everything. I began to see the Crows as part of this system. When a small animal or rodent died, I would toss it over the fence onto the state land where the Crows would gather to feast. I watched and learned that they, just like any other animal, and just like me, had a great and important part in the chain of Life, in the circle of life, death and rebirth. They were the ushers of some part of the life of those small animals into an afterlife of some sort.

            I began to study Crow / Raven, their powers and associations and found that they were directly connected to The Morrigan. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.

            It was during this time that the Call increased from a murmur to a full-on screech, working its way into every part of my life. I heard it in my dreams, which became tumultuous. I saw Her in life, everywhere. It seemed that everything I looked at made me think of Her, The Morrigan. She spoke within my paintings and within my drawings. It began to wear on me until…one full moon, when I decided to do my own dedication ritual….

            During this ritual, I held out my hands, open as if to receive what ever it was the Goddess was going to pour out on me. I spoke the words, “Mother Morrigan, I am ready. I dedicate myself to You.” That was all it took for things to start happening. And happen they did.

            Within 3 months I broke up with the person I thought I would spend my whole life with. I moved in a hurry. Then, I was living alone in a trailer on the edge of Show Low canyon. My mother died suddenly one day, soon after that, but I was not to be able to go to her memorial, in spite of the fact that I was there for the first few days while she was in the hospital. Shortly after, I moved away from my mountain (The White Mountains and the Mogollon Rim) to live in the city, where I am needed to do Her work. I had to give up so much. And if I hadn’t known it was all part of the plan of The Morrigan to make me stronger and ‘hone’ me as Hers, I would never have come through it. I would have buckled like a dry tree in a wind storm. It was only because I could feel Her strength pouring through me and that I knew there was a reason, a purpose for me, that I could stand straight, dry my tears and take up my sword and shield. 

            The Morrigan called me. At first I ignored that Call. But, when I was ready, I asked for Her to take me, as She had wanted to for so long. Now, I walk this Path. It is not as easy road. I have my fair share of tests, even to this day and I probably always will. I accept that and carry my sword and shield always (and not for unwarranted attack).

            But, The Great Queen is with me. I can feel Her in so many ways. Even when my strength wanes, She is there with me, holding me up. Her wings protect me when I have to go out alone at night. I see Her in meditation and visions. I hear Her voice. In fact, the Raven’s call woke me up from sleep one day this week; three calls to stir me from my dreams. And, when I need to pay attention to something, She is there to smack me in the head with that spiritual two-by-four. Believe me; it has happened more than once. I can be a stubborn woman. 

            For you, out there, who are looking for your Matron or Patron Goddess or God I say this; look around you. What do you see? What things are standing out to you? What is your life like and in what direction do you feel you are headed? A clue could be there. Meditate on these things.

          What animals have come to you? Even if it is a mouse, do not dismiss it as some small and trivial animal totem. Research it. Ponder and meditate on it. You will know if it is a messenger or a helper. Close your eyes and sit in silence and listen to what is around you. Sometimes, we have to be very quiet to hear what is being said to us. Talk to those who have had this experience before you. Not all advice will apply to you. But, as with other things that are important to your heart and soul, you will know those things which do.  

             If you are waiting for the Call, it will happen when it should. Don’t rush it. The Goddess will touch you and claim you in Her time. And you can rest easy in the knowledge that it will be when you are ready and not a moment sooner.