Cats, and Cats, and Cats

As some readers of this blog know, I have seven. They are family. I am going to introduce them to you in order of seniority and appearance in my household. I want to praise them.

Popoki (aka Cthulhu)

Popoki entered our household when my kids were still young and they–wanting her to be a badass–named her Cthulhu after H.P. Lovecraft’s mythic monster from the stars. I started calling her “Popoki,” the Hawaiian word for cat. As a kitten, she literally bounced off wall, climbed curtains, perched on rods, and at one point I could swear she teleported from the crate where we’d put her for the night. The gate was locked and she was, strangely, not inside. (She must have squeezed through, but I hardly know how that was possible.) She adores my younger son, Paul, and brightens when he visits. She’s a Queen, a beauty cat, an emanation of Bast (even my vet agrees), and somewhat aloof. Though she is happy to receive affection, she seldom comes looking for it.

She is the only cat of mine who isn’t a rescue. We got her from a family we knew.

Popoki is about 13 years old. She has breast cancer. I just received this news last Friday and it’s heartbreaking. She is having surgery tomorrow. [Update: three tumors are being removed.]


An off-center white streak on his chin has always given Niblet the look of a slightly peevish old man. A friend of a friend found him when he was tiny, living between two boards in someone else’s backyard. He still purrs when I feed him–which I think he must have done when catching bugs in the bushes as a baby cat. This habit of his absolutely tugs at my heart, even now. When my friend who was fostering him showed me his picture, I knew he would be my second cat. Niblet was a darling kitten and has grown into a cuddly floof who drools.

Popoki was not happy when I adopted Niblet, but they grew to be chums. I wouldn’t say they are “bonded” however. They don’t cuddle together. For many years they were my only two cats and I think that was just fine with them.

When Niblet sits between me and the computer keyboard I am never quite at ease because of his drooling. Niblet used to run when my older son was around. That kid thought Niblet was jealous in a sibling rivalry way, but I know it was because of that kid’s heavy, Dr. Martens-type boots. Niblet does not like heavy footwear.

Niblet and Popoki moved with me from California to Hawai’i and were somewhat appalled by the multi-generational feral family that I ended up feeding on my porch. I also made it a point to trap them to spay or neuter them at the monthly free vet clinic, then returned them to the colony. I am afraid that the experience of feeding all those ferals made me somewhat susceptible to the “more cats” syndrome when the three of us returned to California. We moved to a rural county about 150 miles from San Francisco. Feral cats were also a problem there. The small town of Upper Lake, fifteen miles from where I was living, had a large amount of community cats. And that’s where Freya enters the picture.

Freya, the Diva

Freya was one of those Upper Lake cats. She was a tiny little thing dying of thirst in the middle of Main Street. A woman named Crystal rescued her. Crystal worked in a couple of shops on that two block shopping district and also fed the ferals. She often trapped them and got them neutared and spayed too. Freya became one of her large family of cats and dogs, but always stayed close to Crystal, getting in the way of her sewing and soap making. She was and is affectionate, bossy, possessive, and not always nice to other cats.

When I happened into Crystal’s shop, the cat-who-was-not-yet-called-Freya was dozing in the glass case. I’d been thinking of getting one more cat “someday” but when I admired Freya’s beauty, Crystal’s boyfriend suggested I adopt her. I talked to Crystal about it a few days later and though Crystal was sad to see this cat go, she knew I’d give her a good home. This was around February, 2018.

Popoki and Niblet were not pleased, though Niblet did seem a bit intrigued at first. Freya wasn’t interested. Eventually they all adjusted. Freya stuck close to me as well and was so annoying when I worked on the computer that I gave her my kids’ old high chair for her throne, so she could sit beside me as I worked.

She is very possessive of me, often chasing the other cats off my bed, and she will sleep beside me with her paw out to touch my face.

It was a bit sad though, when I’d get out toys to chase, Popoki and Niblet played less and stepped back to let Freya play more, even when I tried to engage them. I’ve noticed this pattern with each subsequent cat.


For a brief time, I had an office in an extremely small, one-room cottage in Upper Lake. Two black kittens (ferals) often hid under it. They had orange eyes, very striking. The construction guy who was working on the front cottage called them “Jack and Jill” and fed them. I put out bowls of water and dry food for them too. Later, “Jack” disappeared and “Jill” was on her own. She was not friendly and hid when she saw me coming. I love black cats so I was fascinated by her.

Then there was an extremely cold couple of weeks. “Jill” actually went to Crystal’s place a block away–probably because she’d been eating there too–and let Crystal’s boyfriend pick her up. She was very sick. I knew Crystal didn’t have money for a vet so I told her if she could nurse the cat over the weekend, I’d come on Monday, take her to the vet, and then adopt her. Fourth cat. I named her Varda, another name for Elbereth in The Lord of the Rings.

I had a closed sun porch that was separate from the rest of the house. That had been Freya’s halfway home until Popoki and Niblet had gotten used to her scent, and now that porch was Varda’s.

Now all three cats were miffed, but they got used to Varda, who is small and I think, is a Bombay breed. Varda and Freya may even be related to some extent, as they came from the same cat colony.

Varda wants to cuddle with me when I sit in a certain chair to talk on the phone. Otherwise she is a bit skittish still. Her usual hangout is a twin bed in the living room, where she can watch squirrels.

The Woodshop Cats

Several months later, Crystal and her entourage lost their home in Upper Lake. They’d been living in the back of one of the storefronts and the landlord kicked them out. Crystal asked me if I could let her house four of her cats in a large, clean, workshop I had on my property, if she visited and fed them everyday. I said okay. A couple of months after that, she and her boyfriend and several cats and dogs drove to Tennesee. She took one and left the other three cats with me, without giving me any notice except for a day or two before they left. She promised to send money for food (she didn’t). I was not up for three more cats, even if they were just living in the workshop and roaming outdoors. However, one of them, Chu the Siamese, got adopted by neighbors across the street. The tabby, Meowington, became my garden cat. I locked him in at night and let him out in the morning. The skittish grey female (with no name) was chased away by Meowington, but I continued to feed her as she hovered around the edges of the property. She could down a whole can of catfood in one gulp and she would (eventually) let me brush the stickers from her fur.

In 2018, when I was forced to evacuate for two weeks, due to raging wildfires, I had to take all four cats with me to San Francisco and back. And I had to leave Meowington and the grey cat to fend for themselves (though I left food and wter behind in the workshop, with the door open). The drive both ways was sheer hell. The cats were scared and vocal and it was too hot to leave cats in the car for even a few minutes if I needed a restroom break during the long drive. Fortunately my house and neighborhood did not burn down but I realized how very vulnerable we were and how vulnerable we would remain the whole time I lived there. The huge death toll of people over the age of fifty, in the Paradise fire, was also a potent “momento mori” for me.

I was glad to see that both Meowingon and the grey cat had survived my absence. I had grown very fond of them both, but then Meowington was bitten by a baby rattlesnake. He did not survive. I was devastated. However the grey female was able to take over the territory of my yard and I started calling her Arya because she was so tough and living rough. But she wasn’t yet my cat.

The “Tabby Twins”- Keola and Kia’i.

Just as I start to write this, Kia’i (“protector”), the big tabby male who next came into my life, just walked in front of me for a cuddle. He and his sister, the much smaller Keola (“life”), were feral kittens from a trailer park in K-Ville, on the other side of the lake. A friend of mine was feeding the mother and her brood but the park manager wanted them gone. All the no-kill shelters were full so my friend put out the word that she’d pay for spaying and neutering and the first round of shots for anyone who would adopt them. She posted a picture of the male tabby and I thought, well, he looks like Meowington and another tabby I’d had long ago, so I thought I could take him, at least.

However when I showed up at my friend’s trailer, the male tabby was sitting on the porch rail next to his much smaller sister, who was very sick. I understood immediately that they were bonded and I had to take them both. So I did. And we got the shots and neutering and spaying done. And instead of letting them live in the workshop and outside, I turned them into outdoor cats because I was more haunted by Meowington’s death by rattlesnake than I realized.

Both cats were sick, as it turned out, and Kia’i’s teeth were horribly inflamed. I was told to have them ALL removed and that his sister might have to have that done in the future. Turns out the community cats of K-Ville have a genetic predisposition to this. This was extremely expensive but I got it done. And he’s fine as a toothless cat. However it does mean that he rolls on his belly a lot when Freya bullies him. Last year Keola also had to have all her teeth removed. She too is doing fine.

The tabby twins are brash but sweet and have no manners as far as the other cats are concerned. Keola is incredibly curious and washing the dishes can be tough when she decides she’d like to “help.”

Arya The Grey

Not all who wander are lost, but some who wander into construction sites might get stuck in a basement. I think this is what happened to Arya. She had become very dependable on when she’d show up for food and would let me pet and brush her. Since Meowington was no longer around to chase her off, she was quite comfortable around my place and becoming more demonstrative with me. I began to consider bringing her into my household.

During the time when she lived in the woodshop, she was obviously a frightened and timid cat. She would stay high on the rafters where she could not be seen. When I opened the door for the cats on that first day after they’d been left behind by Crystal & Co., she shot from the place like a bolt.

And then one day she vanished. Now, she’d been spayed thanks to Crystal and has the clipped ear to show it, so she wasn’t in heat. She came back two days later, ate as usual, and then was gone again. She never came back. I was devastated and the thought that a coyote or cougar had gotten her was too much to bear. I would walk up and down the street calling to her, but she was nowhere to be seen. One neighbor had seen her, shortly before she disappeared, roaming around the yard of a house where an old man had recently died. A lot of construction work was going on over there, as the place was a wreck (kind of a hoarder’s situation from the look of it). I wondered if Arya had gotten stuck there, but the construction workers weren’t there consistently so I couldn’t ask them.

Then, two months later, I happened to be taking the trash cans out front and I saw her, skinny as can be, coming up the driveway alongside my house. We both spotted each other, stared as if to say, “it’s you!” and so I called to her and coaxed her into my patio. I opened a can of catfood for her and while she was eating, I popped her into a crate and brought her inside to the enclosed sun porch. She was skin and bones. I got her to the vet, fed her a lot, and she soon regained her health. Then, when she was ready and the cats had smelled her for a few weeks, she was introduced to the rest of the household.

Arya has too many toes and that too is a feature of a lot of Upper Lake cats. She might also be related to Freya and Varda, but they chase her away. Everyone either chases or ignores Arya, though since we moved to Oregon she’s gotten comfortable enough to sleep on my bed at least part of the night. She’s the “upstairs” cat most of the time, and I feed her on the stair landing because she’s not secure enough to eat in the kitchen with the others.

Cats Are Indeed My Family

I would say we have a special and unusual bond. But then, I seem to have that with all my cats and it’s only growing stronger. They are all so different and have their peculiar ways.

Popoki wants to pee on paper towels in her own litter box in the bathroom. Arya only licks the wet food–she likes the gravy (the cats get both wet and dry food). Kia’i barges in and makes sure he is the first to eat, which annoys Niblet very much. Freya cries for the wet food but doesn’t eat much of it. She just wants to make sure she has what everyone else is having. Keola has the habit of dabbing her paws, with her sharp little claws, on my hand or shoulder to get my attention. Popoki goes after the remnants of everyone’s food. If Niblet gets a second helping, he wants it on a counter or low table. He’s the only one who will eat treats from my hand. Varda comes to sit on my lap if I sit in a particular chair. And how and why the cats circulate among sleeping places is a mystery. They’ll spend a week or two sleeping in the same couple of spots, then move.

These seven cats are my immediate family. I’ve said I’ve wanted “frith” and “o’hana” all my life but it seems that the cats are truly my people.


Many Projects in 2023

Professional and Fantasy Writing Take Center Stage in My Life

Yes, I love writing about pagan topics, and Loki in particular, but writing that either (1) pays and/or (2) expresses my fondest queer and paranormal romance fantasies is the bigger focus for me now (fortunately Loki is a big part of my Ornamental Hermits fantasy series). I won’t abandon this blog, but I won’t be pouring ALL my passion into it as I did prior to 2022. In 2022 I was busy launching my first fantasy book and my first hypnosis book, see below, as well as working on other projects.

2022’s Major Accomplishments

I am so blessed to have my first fantasy novel published! And two more with the publisher as well!

Find the first book in my queer, urban fantasy series, The Dire Deeds, at Kindle and in paperback at Amazon. If you read my book, please consider leaving me stars (five are nice) and a few sentences for a review. Thank you! You have no idea how much that helps!!!

Ditto for Sexological Hypnosis. Are there any therapists in the house? This one’s for you! This book is based on the professional training I offer at my Intimate Hypnosis Training Center and also on my 2011 Ed.D. project. Find it here on Kindle and Amazon. Right now it is free on Kindle Unlimited. Reviews and stars will help. Thanks!

I also consider the two seasonal Guild of Ornamental Hermits short stories, also published on Kindle, to have been successful. Both made it into the top 100 of the 45-minute Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Reads category. Mele Kalikimaka, Ginger Croom, clocked in at #30 one day and A Guild of Ornamental Hermits Solstice made it to #60. The algorithm ratings always change, of course, and now that the holiday season is over, they are no longer as popular.

2023’s Major Projects

What follows is not a complete list of projects by any means, but here are the biggest projects that I’ll be working on mostly in the first half of 2023. You might like some of them!

The Guild of Ornamental Hermits saga continues.

The Witching Work, the second in my series, is going to be published this Spring, or so my publisher tells me. Right now it is with the copy editor and my Hawaiian sensitivity reader, for review.

Meanwhile, I continue working on the fourth book, The Perilous Past. I am not sure when the third book, The Queerest Quest, is supposed to come out but it’s the one where Loki first appears and I can’t wait for people to read it. I hope it is out by year’s end!

Professional Writing About Sexuality & Hypnosis

At this very moment, and as soon as I finish this blog post, I’ll be back at work on Entrancing – which I hope to publish on Feb. 1, 2023. Hypnosis for Community Wellness will be out by May 1, 2023. Both will be on Kindle and Amazon.

Sexuality Writer for Hire

I am also actively looking for paid gigs in this field. If you have a website that needs content, please get in touch.

Okay, I am putting all this out into the universe, beckoning opportunity, paid work, and success, summoning the mighty magicks of all who support me, known, unknown, and my invisible allies. Make it so!

And blessed be to you all!



I woke up from falling asleep in front of a so-so movie on my computer. It was about ten minutes to midnight. I check my email and find that a very old friend had taken the time to wish me a Happy New Year. I am touched. Very.

I reassure my cats, who are spooked about the fireworks that erupt at midnight. And get up to eat a small mandarin orange from my former state of residence. I offer a slice to Loki and another to my guardian demon.

Perhaps this year will make more sense.

My New Year’s resolution? I vow to not kvetch so much about personal stuff in this blog.

I wish you all peace, humor, better health, and much joy in our next shared orbit around the Sun.

Fractal by Abysmal. Public domain.

50,000 All-time Views

My humble “woo blog” has had this many readers?!

Allow me to celebrate! Often when I write I feel as if I’m sending my words and thoughts into a “black hole,” and that no one reads or cares. Yes, of course I do check my stats from time to time, and am happy that this blog finds its way to readers in many countries, but I would have never known Lady of the Lake would garner this kind of visibility.

Of course, I don’t know how many of these views are repeat readers or “just stumbled over it” readers. Even so, this notification has lifted my spirits in a personally difficult week.

All I can say is “thank you!” (Thank you… thank you!)

Comments on an Oracle’s Revelation: Loki’s Three Messages

Just a few days ago, well-known pagan author and practioner, John Beckett, posted in his Patheos blog about a “Seiðr oracular ritual at this year’s Mystic South.” Beckett witnessed a quite compelling incident involving the Norse deity Loki. In answer to an attendee’s question for Loki, “he [Loki] didn’t just whisper words to the Seeress in Helheim for her to relay. He took full control of the Seeress.”

Beckett wrote this blog post, called Three Messages from Loki to the World, as a “journalist.” He notes that he did not receive the revelations himself but observed what happened during the ritual and what was said and then later compared notes with the seeress. In essence, the three messages are (and I’m paraphrasing already existing paraphrasing from Beckett’s blog):

  1. Seek and cultivate joy.
  2. Build masks and create safety zones, as Loki apparently conveyed the sense that being a full-on, “out” pagan isn’t quite safe right now and we need to take care of ourselves and others.
  3. And recognize that we are a destructive portion of a cycle, in the part that Beckett calls “Tower Time” and others call Ragnarök.

Loki’s three messages, as written and interpreted in Beckett’s post, are already sending ripples throughout many pagan and heathen circles. I have some thoughts.


According to Beckett’s blog post, Loki signaled his possession of the seeress by “laughing and dancing.” This is Loki at his most accessible. This is the “persona” he shows most often to those of us who encounter him and/or work with him. He’s a scamp, a trickster who trips the light fantastic and makes all things fantasical in turn. Sometimes he is even a delightfully shameless and irresistable seducer. But Loki is also a being who has suffered horribly himself. He knows firsthand how people near (and maybe even dear) to you can turn against you and inflict the most dire cruelties without even a “by your leave” or a chance at what we moderns call “relationship repair.”

Loki, bound to a rock with one son’s entrails and fearing that the other boy has fled in wolf shape to some unknown wilderness, endured poison dripping from a fanged serpent (except when dear Sigyn catches the poison in a bowl). He must have been hard put to scrape up any vestiges of joy during that time. And yet, my UPG is that he did. I imagine him composing Norse equivalents of rude limericks about the Aesir, exchanging tender memories with Sigyn, and perhaps even finding ways to turn his pain into pleasure. He was–he is–a potent, powerful, and clever being who possesses a knowledge of magic. He would not have let himself succumb wholly to despair.

“To nourish the desire to live, to make it burn: only this counted.” This is a phrase from Jacque Luseyran’s phenomenal essay, “Poetry in Buchenwald,” in Against the Pollution of the I. And if you have never read this essay, you should. Luseyran (1924-1971) was known as “the blind hero of the French resistance” and he did survive his time in Buchenwald, unlike many of the men he wrote about. These were men who warmed themselves with poetry in the bleakest, most dangerous circumstances, experiencing their voicing of it as “an act, an incantation, a kiss of peace, a medicine” even as they were dying–slowly of starvation or suddenly through Nazi violence.

Loki knows, better than we do, that small morsels of joy can be kindled in times of duress. They can make us burn for life and survival. And when times are good, we must revel in delight and let every glad feeling take hold in our bodies. We must dance. We must laugh. We can sing and declaim poetry. We can never have too much joy.


This advice to “mask up” is troubling. I have no problem at all with donning a mask for disease prevention or to avoid toxic chemical fumes, but it’s too late for me to go back into a “broom closet” and pretend to be something other than pagan, witchy, and Lokean. There’s this blog, for one thing, and my fantasy novels for another. Plus, I’ve got “other” marked on my Oregon driver’s license. Several years ago I decided to stop pretending to be other than I am (through omission rather than comission) and it’s this freedom that provides my life with meaning and joy. (Remember joy?)

And yes, I recognize that we (still) have “witch privilege” in this country. Other parts of the world are not so tolerant. People are killed for less than what I do on a semi-regular basis.

However, I had a shock yesterday. Someone that I once thought of as a colleague, and at one point even as a fledgling friend (until I realized he was a twump fan), sent me the most disturbing email. The gist was that “woke was wacked,” there is too much gender variety and any discussion of it “sexualizes” children, and that all this was a “Luciferian” plot. In other words, he was doing his best to justify a moral panic (and even a Satanic panic) about certain kinds of queer people and had even written an article about this, as a sexologist, in LinkedIn. I know people who are both queer and embarked on a Luciferian path and I could easily imagine this man (yes, of course he’s a cis-het white dude) boosting his own career trajectory at their expense, inciting others to violence against them.

And with Norse Loki still considered “the Norse Satan” in some circles (thanks in part to Snorri Sturleson), well then… I can begin to understand Loki’s second message quite easily.

Life After Turmoil

In many parts of the U.S., “turmoil” can seem (to a lucky few) like it’s something that happens somewhere else, to other people in other neighborhoods or countries, and that somehow sheltered existences (which are most often white and moneyed) will continue as they always have. Loki says otherwise and we can see this easily in so many ways.

This is perhaps the vaguest part of Loki’s message. Yeah, a lot sucks right now. What are we going to do about it? Perhaps the first two parts of his message provide clues? Joy and safe places. Mutual aid? If we can learn to provide these things, not just for ourselves but for others too, perhaps we will still have something worthwhile even if we find ourselves one day standing in the ruins of “civilization as we know it.”

Beckett interprets this as “life goes on.” After a catastrophe, it does, at least for some. The important thing is (and will be) the inner qualities and values of those post-catastrophe lives and the social changes that result. Will we have regenerated our planet’s soil? Dismantled racism, colonialism, sexism, all forms of queer phobia, ageism, ableism, and more? Will we each have the generous heart and robust will to accomplish even a small part of what needs to be done in our communities to bring a more just and equitable world into being?

Once Loki is freed from his fetters, this is one way I imagine him. I like this picture because I know that this stern figure (frowning so much yet wearing so little) could easily transform in the next nano-second into a gleaming Lord of the Dance, who invites us all to join in, even if our dance is on rubble and dust.

The North Wind, an illustration by Kay Nielsen. But it’s so Loki!

The “gospel” According to My Earrings

There I was, driving across the river to Eugene, to meet a friend and do my laundry at the most ecologically aware and environmentally healthy laundrymat I’d ever imagined (you simply CANNOT bring your own detergent–they provide the fragrance-free stuff). And there I was pondering magic and gender and the nature of matter and all kinds of other things, as I often do when I drive. And there I was, also listening to Roxy Music’s “Do the Strand:”

“…Dance on moonbeams, slide on rainbows…”

So, mundane, right?

And then it hit me, in triplicate: the wave/particle “duality” of matter (including human bodies); the wave/particle plurality of gender; and magic defined as willful collaboration with a wave state to manifest workings in the particle realm. And don’t forget the liminal, the spaces “between,” or rather the connective, shaded, gradations of energies (a rainbow bridge?) leading to the perceived binary of wave and particle, wave OR particle.

And wasn’t it great that my earrings (ones I haven’t worn for at least two years) were perfect illustrations of that nifty little epiphany had while grooving on Bryan Ferry’s voice?

The top of the triangle symbolizing the achievement of the “particle” state. The curved black and silver areas signifying liminal space and connection. The scooped shape of the bottom portion of the triangle standing in for the “wave” state. A conceptual microcosm!

I’ve been reading a little bit about Platonic and Neoplatonic philosophy, in relation to pagan traditions of theurgy. The vertical ascent from “man” (matter) to union with “the one” (a personified wave?) never made much sense to me (neither did the Christian “descent” from “sinner” to “damnation”). These days nothing can be so neatly ordered or so clearly defined, especially in such crude terms. The quantum physics theory of wave-particle duality would have knocked the socks off Plato and subsequent adapations of his philosophy (including the Christianized versions).

The screenshot below is from ScienceDaily, which took the text from Wikipedia. Note that the explanation says “all objects” (meaning quantum-sized objects), sidestepping the mind-blowing implications for “all creatures great and small.” I mean, if less than bite-sized portions of ourselves are flickering between states, does that mean that we are also, as a larger entity–in some way–doing that too and our senses just aren’t refined enough to detect this? Perhaps just enough of our flickering portions stay particle-ized long enough to provide the illusion of continuous particle-ized existence? I’ve long accepted the “matter is mostly empty space” idea, though I don’t experience myself or my tables, chairs, and cats this way, but that matter could also be “mostly inconsistent empty space” is a conceptual stretch. Is this the “void” that mystics have described, sans particle accelerators? This isn’t a new or original question, obviously. I remember calling up Gary Zukav (long long ago), halfway through The Dancing Wu Li Masters, to rave about this very thing.

But what exactly am I writing about here? I had a flash of mystic understanding, a brief moment of crystal clarity. I “saw” how magic and mystic practices are designed to reach (or struggle toward) the “wave state” (a kind of fluidity or creative chaos) for communion, manifestation, and/or enlightenment. Now I am having a hard time explaining it. And am I “right” in a absolute sense? Probably not, but I’m probably not “wrong” either.

As a non-binary person, I feel gender as a shifting state that I can describe as wave, particle, AND the liminal connective states. As a particle, photographed and therefore frozen in time, I could be (or feel) “gendered” one way. As a wave, a continuum, the static photo becomes a film, or at least a montage, and I could be (or feel) “gendered” in other ways. It seems natural then that my feelings about my material existence and how it entwines with the rest of creation, would also incorporate a sense of fluidity and a desire to bring something out of the creative chaos of the wave state, via magical workings, and into the “reality” of more static, particle-ized existence. Meditations, trances, devotional practices, spellworking… I see them now as designed to access awareness (of the creative power) of the wave portion of our existence.

But that’s just me. It’s “gospel” (as in the old, non-denominational meaning of “good news”) with a small “g,” only meant for me and perhaps others who might resonate with a bit of this or that. My epiphany can be classed as “unverified personal gnosis.”

Anything, really, to avoid my year-end bookkeeping. At least the laundry got done.


Wholly Go Brightly

Since my almost fatal wounds this year, inflicted by a razor sharp “serpent’s tooth,” I’ve found odd comfort and a strange sort of peace in having survived what I have always felt would be my undoing–if not of life itself, at least of sanity. I am not being dramatic about the “almost fatal” part. As a person with clinical depression who has struggled with suicidal thoughts and feelings for several decades, I did not do very well with the sudden and (to me inexplicable) utter rejection by my eldest child. So, I had some very bad times in these last few months, but I managed to hang on, survive, and now even…dare I say?…thrive.

Let me explain. Ever since I was in my teens I have been deeply afraid of two things: dying in or of childbirth and of losing a child and going mad. I did get through two pregnancies in my thirties/early forrties, though not without problems, so that fear of dying thusly was laid to rest in this lifetime (at least). This fear may have been a “past life” remnant, or (more reasonably) a harsh thread woven through my DNA by hundreds or thousands of female ancestors who didn’t survive birthing but who left an ancestral orphan behind. Multi-generational trauma indeed. As for the other fear–the loss of a child and of sanity–a form of this fear played out in the “spontaneous combustion” incident that I’ve written about in a long ago blog. After that kundalini blast and during that ten-month period of carrying the atavistic spirit of a proud, passionate, deeply lonely woman during her final months of life as a pregnant mother who did indeed lose her baby and committed suicide in post-partum grief, I had to endure all her feelings and then NOT DO THE THING. I didn’t understand this entire episode, or its initiatory impacts, until the final, blessed gestalt when she was gone at last from me, and I could then understand the sweep of the story. Somehow, by not succumbing myself to suicide, I effected a peaceful release for her.

Was she a past life fragment, or simply a wandering spirit who attached herself to me at the moment I was blown to psychic bits and then reassembled, post kundalini? Who knows. I have theories, but no real facts. I think I know where she was living but I don’t even know her name. I never sensed more than a pre-thought of hers. What I did have was the strong personality and emotions of this woman, who psychically surrounded me like a giant cube of agar-agar while I remained intact within, like a small red bean, able to carry on all my employment and children-rearing duties as usual. So it was not a psychic break, dear readers, but a form of extended, extreme mediumship. And I could have never in a million years imagined such a thing would happen to me. I endured all but the final three weeks without any form of external guidance.

Now, to some readers, the above paragraphs may sound truly insane. Whatever. But however strange and strenuous this experience sounds (and it was), this was also a fruitful time that included lucid teaching dreams that have served me well now for years. Reflecting back, did I need this ordeal of “the woman” and her tragic loss to prepare me for the surgically precise torments of this year’s devastation? (Honestly, doesn’t it seem unnecessarily cruel to describe me, a mother who struggled to raise children through three decades of disability, sleep deprivation, and chronic fatigue as “exhausting?” But I digress…) It’s an odd thing to wonder if a child of mine was actually disappointed that I made it through the pandemic without croaking. It’s a worse thing to know that resentment plus mental illness has brought us to this point. Auwe…

So let’s leave the harsh words and murky, karma-riddled past behind now and focus on the lessons and learning that have emerged for me. I’ve been fortunate to have good friends–kindly people–within reach (if not in person, at least electronically). I was blessed to have been able to break free from Lake County, CA and come to a place which actually feels good, truly like home to me. Without my gods and guides, good friends and cats, and that hope of moving elsewhere–plus the distraction of necessary practical tasks to make it so–I am not sure I would have made it through this year (let alone the year before).

Lesson One: I didn’t go crazy with grief and loss. I felt all kinds of things, including suicidal desires, but I didn’t lose my mind after all. I didn’t succumb. So wow. That’s actually pretty cool. Now let me add here that I would never kill myself (unless doctor-assisted due to a fatal disease) since it would be horrible for all left behind but it truly, truly sucks to have to endure those feelings while they last. Those who deal with this understand what I’m saying. So the takeaway from this is a renewed sense of strength and resilience.

Lesson Two: Joy is possible and if it begins to sprout in the crevices of a fragmenting grief, it can gradually push itself to the sunlight and expand. I have an image here of plants pushing through concrete. All this bad, sad stuff? It’s compost, my darlings. Compost. Seeds that I thought would never germinate are now coming to life.

Lesson Three: Better living through dishwashing. Humble tasks are life-saving. And even if you can only manage to wash one teacup, it’s a god-damned victory. Savor it and reward yourself.

Lesson Four: Loki really does come and “hold the bowl” for me when the slow dripping poison overflows, when I really can’t do for myself and must make the ask. Sigyn did it for him. He will do it for us (though not indefinitely). And believe me, nothing is more lovely than the tender mercy of a generous, trickster spirit who dumps the poison, cradles your shattered heart, and then demands a donut. So yes, your deities, ancestors, and/or spirit guides can and do come to help if you want them, if you ask them.

Lesson Five: A good tool-kit helps. And reminders to use your tools are super helpful too. During these last several months I’ve revisited many online materials from sources that I respect, listened to podcasts and daily tarot readings, read books, and put more emphasis on renewing daily practices. Ariel Gatoga’s “solar light” meditation was particularly helpful throughout this year. Ditto for Aidan Wachter’s podcasts and interviews.

Lesson Six: Have fun with people who like you. I’m finally in a location where I can do that, so I’m making the most of this.

Lesson Seven: Call it ALL home, every bit of yourself. In this new house of mine, everything is going up on the walls or coming out of boxes. All these strange bits and pieces of my life, such as it is and will be. I’m welcoming all of me, for the first time in a long time. That also feels good.

I’ll be sixty-seven come Samhain. Life is too short for avoidable misery or for prolonging the misery that comes your way. I may not have kicked the bucket during the pandemic (and I hope to avoid that fate as long as I can) but since I now live in an area where I could (theoretically) be run over by the Bus of Death at any moment, why not make the most of life for as long as I have it? And when I go, I’ll go “wholly brightly” and even my shadows will be radiant. It’s the greatest prayer and the best “fuck you” to cruelty that I know.