A Day of Loss and Becoming a Widow

I have been lax in my own postings because so much is going on right now, in my and our three boys lives. (All right, they are men now, I know, I know.) Erica Roman’s post, however, needs to be shared far and wide.

This is a brilliant response to the ignorance of those who have never suffered the loss of a spouse.

The loss of a spouse can be debilitating and heartbreaking. It can feel like the world has crumbled and dropped onto your chest, leaving you crushed and unable to breathe. I know that is how I felt after I lost my beloved that early Sunday morning.

Outwardly, I was strong all day.

I “held up well”, as they say. I was the strong Southern woman that my Yankee husband had learned to count on handling everything. I called every family member on both sides of the family whose numbers I had from memory. I had called all the friends, whose numbers I could remember. I called into the bastard doctors’ office that misadvised us that Friday on the seriousness of his condition. If they did not cause his death, they certainly contributed to it. I left the news on their machine that the appointment they had for him at 8 a.m. the next day would no longer be necessary, as he had just passed away after we rushed him to the Emergency Room. I called his work and left a message explaining that he would not be in after the doctor appointment as expected and promised I would call the next day with more information.

I was a good wife. I was strong. I could not feel my body, I could not catch my breath to save my life, but I handled everything that life threw at me during those first dozen hours that day. The only real flaws in my performance were when I snapped for a few seconds then brought it back, twice.

When I first arrived, I called my beloved’s family and told them to rush the 100 miles away, from just over the border, to come to his side as the ER said as he was gravely ill. Only twenty minutes later, the doctors’ representative came to say they could not save him. I called his eldest sister/baby brother’s house back and they had not left yet, they were waiting on his mom to get to their house so they could drive down. They did not want her alone during the long drive, and her roommate, who was driving her to their house and was going to keep all the kids from the two families. I gave them the news that their big brother had died, ruining forever the chance of another truly happy birthday for the eldest sister with the memory that on her 36th birthday, her big brother had died. They promised to be down ASAP, and to call the rest of the family. They warned me that the middle sister was already on her way, and since she still lived in Texas, would beat the rest of them to the hospital.

The first snap came, as I began screaming into the phone, trying to convince an idiot friend that I was not making a sick joke in saying that my beloved was gone. As if I were the type to do something that moronic. I yelled at him, “It is not a joke, he is dead!” The gasp from behind me was sudden and sharp. I turned to see the horrified eyes of his middle sister as they began to well with tears and she dropped like a stone into a chair beside her. She had driven like crazy to get to her big brother and it was already too late. The knife of her instantly overwhelming pain stabbed me in the heart. I could not imagine her shock as she stood politely, waiting for me to finish a call so she could ask about her brother, only to have the bald fact shouted out instead, with no warning. I imagine it felt like being kneecapped by a sports team, and then flattened as they all piled on top to keep you down on your back and breathless. That was how I felt when I learned of the death of my eldest living brother just a few months after meeting my beloved.

I recouped after that quick meltdown was over and held it together when my family began to trickle in from around the Metroplex. Some of our friends and family friends began to appear. I asked some of the ones who are closest to me today, to stay away, because they were the teens that my Beloved and I considered as close to us as our own children. We adopted them and loved them dearly and I knew how badly they would react. He was such an amazing person they would be in pieces. While I could handle people my age and older in pieces, our adopted kids in torment would destroy me and I knew it.

Over all I held together perfectly well for another hour or so. The chink in my armor was that “candy striper”. She kept coming in with each new person and asking if she could get anyone some coffee. As I had said no, over and over and over, but she kept asking every few minutes with every new arrival, it was wearing on my nerves.

Snap number two was very clearly audible and in front of my father, the Southern Church of Christ preacher, my mom, the very epitome of a preacher’s wife, sitting demurely, quietly and dabbing at her eyes with a tissue. Several other family members and friends were sitting and standing around the private sitting room speaking quietly. I know, the ‘candy stripers” are there to try to bring comfort; they are there to meet needs, bring tissues, coffee, water etc. However, after the 15th or 20th time she asked, I had enough.

I yelled at her quite loudly, “Stop asking if I want the fucking coffee! If I wanted the fucking coffee I will tell you!”

Yeah, well, I was known for my prissy manners toward strangers and not raising my voice unless in excitement when having fun around the magnificent in-laws I was blessed with. I think I shocked every person in the room, though none more than I shocked myself. My parent had never heard a four-letter word from me before. I use them, to be sure, just selectively and never in front of them out of respect for their religious beliefs. As you can imagine, all conversation came to a halt and I was treated to the speculative stares of every person in the room wondering if it was a permanent breakdown beginning. Steam released I became Mrs. Fortitude and Strength again.

After almost everyone we were waiting on had gathered, a great many of us left the hospital to take the 5 minute drive home, only a few staying behind to greet late comers and family friends who were still arriving and issue them directions to the house. Everyone stood around talking in low voices and making pans as I wandered from group to group, thanking them for coming. It was all I could think to do. Nothing else made sense, there was no sense left in the world.

I was exhausted and started mention to a few people that there was nothing else to do so they might as well go home. Word spread and the exodus began, finally. I talked to my sister who is just over eight years my senior and asked her to take our sons home with her for the night. I asked her 15-year-old son to help them play and keep them busy for the night. I did not explain where their daddy was to the boys, and I forbid others to explain. I wanted to handle it the next day when I was ready. They only knew they were going to visit at a favorite aunt’s house and play with a favorite cousin.

With me being the baby of my family, even though I had turned 35 a few weeks earlier, my elder siblings and parents did not trust me. I wanted to be left in our new home of two months to process my grief. Thanks to my family, it was a fight for that privilege. They had set me on a “suicide watch” and the annoying next door neighbor, friend of the family, they chose to keep me company was difficult to chase away. She was just creepy. Her eerie smile never faded and her eyes glittered at me. She was full of excitement over all the people who had been there and the sudden shock of it all. I felt like she was a Koontz goblin and I had to be free of her of I would die. They made her promise not to leave me alone, but I finally got rid of her after an hour or so.

My beloved had slept on the couch in the living room for his last night in our home. I worked on a website in the next room with the door cracked to keep the light from bothering him. His coughing worried me and I checked on him during the night, but sitting propped up on the couch made his breathing easier from what we thought was the flu. Little did we know. That next night, after he passed, I sat where he had and talked to our beloved Irish, the dog we had adopted two months earlier, allegedly for the boys, since we had a yard now. She loved my beloved husband as much as I did, I think.

I practiced on her. I explained to her, that her best friend was never coming home again. Her favorite playmate in the world was gone forever. I talked about how much she had meant to him, how much he loved her, how much joy she brought him in their short time together. I knew it was so close to the speech I would have to give our sons in a few short hours. The tears streamed and I know she felt my pain, and I believe she understood, as she threw her head back and began to howl. It was the last straw. I began to sob, and then I found myself with my arms around her as I keened loudly and she howled along.

I had been strong all day, for hours and for hours and forever.

Now it was past midnight. A new day had begun.

It was time for us bitches to howl our grief to the waning moon.

Advertisements

The Issue of Drug Use in Paganism – Charles Wilson, Guest Blogger

 

~~~Bloggers Note: Charles is a Senior Administrator at Magicians Paganism Witches Necromancers Friendship Group on Facebook. He is a frequent contributor to group discussions, both in starting discussions and adding valuable insight to the group discussions other’s start. He is very knowledgeable, plain spoken in a way that teaches others without offending or intimidating.

Charles is not affiliated with SacredHandsCoven and I have never been blessed to meet him IRL, but from what I have read of his posts he strikes me as one of those people you want to hang out with in a quiet corner of a local pub for hours on end as you trade ideas, concepts, and learn all you can from him. Thanks for permission to post, Charles!~~~

This is certainly an uncomfortable topic to write about, next to sexuality, but alas there are misunderstandings with those outside of the community so it is worth writing about. To begin, we have to define what a drug is. According to the Oxford Dictionary, a drug is “A medicine or other substance which has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body.” This broad definition would include everything from conventional medicine (such as pills), common chemicals found in beverages (such as caffeine or Alcohol), and plants, both poisonous and medicinal. However, most are focused on either the age restrictive or the illegal drugs so I will as well with this discussions.

Now, do pagans use drugs? Some do, and others choose not to. Those who follow pagan belief systems are just like any other group of people in the sense that no absolute statement will work as there is always an exception. Those who choose not to do so either out of personal preference (based or not on past experiences), issues with their health or because it could put their employment to risk (coming from a path that emphasizes family, community, and self reliance, I can understand not wanting to risk employment). It is pretty much the same reasons as anyone else would choose not to.

Before I get into why others choose to, let me clarify what kind of drugs I am talking about. Hard drugs that are not prescribed by the doctor or found in food are very rarely mentioned in the use for ritual (so that knocks out heroin, cocaine, morphine, meth, crack, and various other street drugs). The ones usually mentioned are Alcohol, Nicotine, Marijuana, Peyote, Shrooms, Ayahuasca, and various plants that promotes relaxation. There are three main reasons I have found to why those in the pagan community choose to use drugs. The first reason is pain management (this is especially the cause with pot), which makes sense as medicine has taken many forms throughout the years. Another reason is to help an individual interact with their gods and other spirits through what is known as journeys or “crossing the hedge” sessions for the sake of themselves or another. This is nothing new, as many individuals in cultures throughout the world did the same for their communities in history (usually after years of training of course). The final reason,reason why some in the pagan community may choose to use the drugs I mentioned is simple: pure pleasure, just like anyone who enjoys a beer or wine after a long day at work.

Which brings us to a question that I am sure both my family and others wonder: Do I personally use “drugs”? Yes and no. I am a smoker and I do drink in moderation prior to ritual to aid in the relaxation process. I have had my college experience, which I will not go into details with, that have reinforced my moderation view on things. Now if I were to become seriously injured, I would certainly choose pot to manage the pain over opioids because I have an addictive personality and rather not go down that rabbit hole. It’s one of those plants that makes no sense to keep illegal in my eyes and helps many people with pain management. Over the years, I have became pretty open with the topic of drugs and their uses, but I do not jump into it as quickly as some may think due to my focus on my personally responsibilities. However, I do not judge anyone who do use them.

To wrap this whole thing up, absolute statements never work. People will constantly prove that there are exceptions to every rule and many reasons for their behavior. Not all pagans choose to use drugs, just like with any other faith. It is the same with every other stereotype, and the only way to fight those stereotypes is through education. And it might as well come from someone within the group. Thank you all for reading

Witchery: Why Eclectic Witchcraft?

As previously discussed, there are many different paths to travel for spirituality.  When it comes to the world religions, spiritual paths, and even practices such as secular based witchcraft, there are branched paths leading from some of the oldest and most established belief systems in the world, from all over Africa, Asia, and Europe in numerous directions. Being the cradle of civilization, many of the best known belief systems started in Africa and spread as humanity and written history did to other continents and countries as time progressed and people looked for a place to call their own.

Some of the so-called new, or neo, pagan practices have been based on rediscovered information, some of it extremely well documented as having roots which come from ancient times that have been brought forward, to our modern era, through renewed interest in the ancient ways that our ancestors practiced their beliefs. From African Diasporic Traditions handed down person to person, which held focus on relationships with nature, ancestors and spirits, etc. to Norse beliefs with their own traditions, Gods, and Goddesses, to ancient Celtic beliefs passed down orally for centuries, and finally preserved in written form during the Middle Ages, and on to discovered Egyptian practices found on papyrus centuries after they were written. People are returning to the faiths that call to their individual spirits in record numbers.

From old and new traditional paths to the varying forms of Witchcraft, to Wicca, and to other new age belief systems that have sprung up during the last one hundred years, people are actively seeking a way to make sense of their personal beliefs, whether they are related to a specific faith or stand-alone practices. Many different varieties: Asatru, Candomblé, Hellenic Reconstructionism, Kemetic Reconstructionism, Luciferianism, Neopaganism, Satanism, Vodou, Witchcraft , Yoruba, Zoroastrianism, and so many more systems, or paths, are practiced around the globe, not just centralized to where they once began. People of all ethnicities are discovering practices they never knew existed before, but which seem to be made for their souls.

http://www.humanium.org/en/children-and-religions/

However, just as the Abrahamic faiths of Christianity, Islam and Judaism have become fractured religions, consisting of many, and in the case of Christianity sometimes thousands, of variations that continue to divide as time and beliefs progress, so have many other belief systems, including the African Diasporic faiths, Buddhist faith, Hindu faith, etc. They have splintered into varied belief forms that change and adapt to the people who follow them. All these various paths are valid for the people who believe in them and each of these paths have their own inherent beliefs and basic truths, and as truth is truth, and truth is universal, all these basic truths may be shared from one path to another. This explains the prevalence of so many paths having the same truths as their core values.

This is my reason for practicing eclectic witchcraft. Eclectic witchcraft tends to blend portions of many paths together as one. It takes the common truths as seen from all the different paths and acknowledges them as equally valid and blends them together into a single craft, or path. Each eclectic witch must make a choice of which portions of belief systems they will use in their practice of witchcraft. Some choose to use a blend of Nordic and Celtic paths; others may choose a blend of Christianity and Vodou; while still others may practice an eclectic blend of witchcraft that is completely devoid of any religious overtones and entirely secular in nature.

The thing about eclectic witchcraft is that it does not have to be a “one-size-fits-all” belief system. With eclectic witchcraft, as you study different paths and belief systems, if something specific calls to you, a particular practice, a specific deity, an accepted way of performing a ritual or casting a spell, etc, you learn all you can about it, try it out, and see if it blends well with your current beliefs and practices. Mixing and mingling various beliefs and practices in a way that specifically suits your soul. For a layman’s way of describing the way it works, imagine that all the spiritual paths are lined up in little bowls on a table, in a fashion similar to a salad bar. Just as you might choose a variety of lettuces, and vegetables whose flavors blend well, so may you find a group of ritual or spell casting techniques that blend into a nice whole for you. Add in some varieties of additional flavors like croutons or cheeses, just as you might add in working with a powerful entity or a deity, or a specific additional layer, like metals, runes, glyphs, or sigils, or themes or colored candles. Top it all off by adding in some herbs, and/or spells oils, just as you would top the salad with a dressing and voilà, it is perfect for you!

By Tudokin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Some say this is cultural appropriation, others say it is a misappropriation, of the cultural beliefs of a group to whom a person was not born. However, in this day and age of mixed ethnicities, multiple lineages, and even belief in past lives and reincarnated souls, which I believe bear direct importance on our current lives, I cannot believe in this strict interpretation of a spiritual path. I am aware that some consider this a very unpopular stance. I understand that some people object to others practicing a faith or path they feel the person is not entitled to, born to, or raised in. Again, I cannot believe in this strict interpretation. I cannot force myself to believe that merely because I was born to a specific set of parent’s with a set variety of ethnic lineages that I am beholden to the one way that my parents chose to raise me, n a narrow subset of a spiritual path shared by the one or two accepted lineages that my parents chose to acknowledge.

If this irritates or inflames others sensibilities; I will apologize for being the source of this irritation, but I will not limit the path that calls to my soul, base on someone’s irritations or even their cultural outrage. Cultural diversity, especially in the United States and other regions that were heavily influenced by centuries of immigration and inter-marriage are known for the multicultural “melting” pots they are. I do not believe, nor have I experienced, being judged by various and assorted deities, merely because my chosen list of deities with whom I have taken the time to build relationships, is not purely based a single pantheon, path, or faith. If this were so, then why would they work together so well when called upon? I find it interesting that the “man-made” rules call for one specific thing, yet the deities do not seem to follow these rules that some men claim they prefer.

As an eclectic, my job is to honor and respect any deities with whom I work. Personally, I speak to them, give gifts, and address them on issues that share important with work for which they are well known. I would not ask a war deity to bless a spell relating to marital health for a couple, any more than I would ask a deity of harvest, drink and song to join their energy with mine to fight against atrocities committed in the name of ISIL or Boko Haram. Common sense is still a requirement for any spiritual path, just as it is for every day life, even for eclectic witches. Follow in the ways your soul leads you, not in arbitrary rules established by some group of people who do not know you. If you are called to a strict interpretation of one specific path, then follow your path with joy, but remember, all witches are different and as such each witch’s path may differ greatly from your own, it is a good point to practice tolerance until you are given a reason not to.