Monday, July 16, 2012

Vampires! (The Energy Kind, Not the Sanguine Kind...)

This blog is an observation and my own perspective on Psychic Vampires.  Sadly, I have dealt with them over and over again throughout my short life and many of them exhibit the same behaviors regardless of gender, demographic, or even elevation within the Craft or Craft community.  And, please remember, I am not an authority on anything.  I might even be wrong about this!

When one says the word vampire, it typically conjures images of Bella Lugosi or maybe Brad Pitt.  However, there are vampires among us all in every day life.  Within my own far-reaching pagan community, I can think of at least 4 people whom one might consider to be a psychic or energy vampire.  Now, whether any of these people know it consciously or not, is a different story.

Psychic vampires appear, for all intents and purposes, to be selfish people.  Does it mean all people who appear selfish are vampires?  No. Does it mean all vampires appear this way?  Of course not!  

Psychic vampires want a reaction.  They want the people around them to react a certain way, typically in a negative fashion.  These people feed on fear, pity, anger, and all manner of negativity.  When they aren't given that, they will typically throw a fit in an effort to get it.

When we, as a community, feed these people our reactions, we are handing them our own, personal power and why would we do that when we are trying to be light bearers to the world. 

An example in how to not feed a vampire from my own life surrounds a woman.  From the moment I met her, I knew that there was something 'not right' about her.  She's one of those people who has to be in charge and has to be in the spotlight and when she isn't, she's stirring the pot.  She wants people to react negatively to her.  She thrives on it.

Said woman doesn't know how to react when shown kindness.  I have, personally, seen her frown at being welcomed into a group.  It's like picking up an aggressive rooster and petting it.  They are thrown off guard by the kindness and, in the case of the rooster anyway, tend to wander off dazed wondering what just happened. 

The phrase 'kill them with kindness' must have been thought up directly in regards to psychic vampires.  When one is kind to them and refuses to react negatively, these people tend to move on because they simply can not process the positivity.  

So, when you see someone who constantly feeds off of negativity and drama, it's a possibility that they could be a vampire of some kind.  There are many other ways of identifying a vampire, but I have found that this is one of the primary ones (at least for me).  Be kind, even if that kindness means gritting your teeth, smiling, and walking the other way before your head explodes in frustration.  There's no reason to give someone your personal energy if they aren't doing anything constructive with it.  Why help spread negativity in an already mostly negative world?

Be kind to each other my friends and Brightest Blessings!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Can You Help Those So Willing to Help Others?

My church, The Southern Delta Church of Wicca- ATC, tends to dream big.  Our High Priest and founder of the church, Terry Riley, sees nothing as impossible.  He teaches us that nothing is impossible.  When he sets his radar on a particular goal, it manifests.  In  early 2011, we did a Lunar Rite with the intentions of building a new dining hall.  Now, understand, unlike Christian churches, Wiccan churches don't require tithing.  They ask for dues to be paid monthly and, for some members, that's not a possible thing for whatever reason.  Much like the Christian church, though, we don't tell people that they can't participate just because they can't pay their dues.  It's quite a struggle.  When your membership is in the low to mid double digits, raising money can be next to impossible.  

So, back to my story.  As I said, in 2011 Terry envisioned us having a new dining hall.  Late summer last year, the materials for that dining hall manifested.  Not just any old materials, either.  There was a house that needed to be torn down.  It was a 100+ year old house made of cypress wood.  If you know anything about cypress, then you know bugs (like termites) don't eat it and it doesn't rot when put into the ground.  Terry held work weekends and, as a church, we cleaned out the house and got it torn down, the vast majority of the lumber in tact!  Here, I have to say that Terry and his two sons did most of the work getting it torn down.  For the most part, they worked 7 days a week for months.  Now, SDCW-ATC has a new dining hall almost all the way up, Terry and his boys measuring and nailing and cutting, board by board.

The reason I tell this story is because, as a church, we have an amazing leader who has big dreams for, not only the pagan community, but the whole community.  However, he doesn't just have big dreams.  He has the tenacity to get out there and make it happen.  He has the will and work ethic to get out and do the hard things that no one else wants to do.  He wants to manifest a better world one family at a time.  He wants to manifest a better world for everyone.

Now, I've said all of these things because, once again, he needs help with one of his big dreams for the community.  SDCW-ATC has been accepted as the charity for The Home Depot in Jonesboro, Arkansas.  Home Depot will give the church $5000 in materials a month for their Community Outreach Program.  The CORP is our way to give back.  It is a program dedicated to helping the elderly and needy with things like home repairs.  If someone is on a fixed income, anything extraneous is out of the question.  The only hurdle in  starting this is raising a one time $600 administrative fee.  I have set up a page on Please Fund to help with this endeavor.  We are trying to get this link to go viral so we can get this money raised quickly!

It's very important that we do get it raised quickly.  Terry has already been contacted by one of the local elder agencies with several people who need home repairs and one even needs a new wheelchair ramp built!  He has at least 8 able bodies with strong backs and helping hands ready to work.  All we need now are donations.  If you can spare a dollar or two and then share the link via Facebook, Twitter, or Email you could help a whole lot of people who so often forgotten about or fall through the cracks.  Even a small donation and passing this blog on would be of help. 

Thank you for reading, and as always, Brightest Blessings!!

Friday, July 13, 2012

When times get tough, whaddya do?

So many people I know are having a difficult time at the moment.  For some it's difficult emotionally, for others, it's difficult financially, and for people like me, there's just this feeling of being lost.  I'm not going to do anything silly, like rip my still-beating heart from my chest and thrust it into your face, dear readers, but please feel free to follow me along on this confusing, shadowy path into my own psyche. (Quite appropriate for Friday the 13th, no?)  I often write about topics relevant to me and those around me, but I have yet to really write about anything personal.  So, here it is.

I am one of the many Americans who can not find a job in this economy.  Every day I sit at my computer and I apply for jobs.  Most places now want you to apply online, so that's what I do.  I scan the paper and mail out my resume in the hope of finding a job.  I have been doing this since May and  I apply for somewhere between five and twenty jobs a week and from those applications, I have been granted one interview.  That said, there are two things I know about myself: A) I have an excellent resume, and B) I am employable in a variety of jobs.

However, let's add another thing to the list of 'Things Going Against the Writer'.  Six weeks ago, I chipped my anklebone, and I am wearing a walking cast, or boot.  Even if I got an interview tomorrow, wearing this boot is going to put a big, red X by my name for most employers, no matter how good my resume looks or how good I interview.  Who wants to hire someone when they can clearly see that the person is very likely going to have to miss work to go to doctor appointments (at least in the beginning)?

Do I sound like I'm lamenting my bad luck yet?  Really, I'm not.  Yes, the boot is like wearing a fleece pillow around my leg.  We had days and days and days of 100F+ (40C+) temperatures, and there was no escaping the misery of the heat.  Most of those days I would have rather taken a beating than had to go outside when the sun was up.  But, I digress.

I look at all of these things which are going against me, and I wonder, "Just exactly what have my Gods got in store for me that could possibly include poverty, solitude, confusion, and this bone-deep restlessness?  What lesson is in this forced downtime?  Why am I being forced to choose between essential items such as laundry detergent and fuel?"

But, then, I smile.  I smile because I know that they do have a plan.  I smile because I'm not starving to death.  I smile because the right job is going to come along at just the right moment.  Despite the uncertainty, which I desperately hate, I'm getting to do something that I haven't gotten to do since I was in high school.  I'm getting to enjoy the summer.  While I'm certainly not going anywhere or spending any money, I get up every morning, no later than about 8am, and I get to sit on my porch that faces the West.  I get to watch the Hummingbirds chitter, buzz, and fuss at each other over the feeder.  I get to watch the ants busy themselves with their mid-summer gathering.  I see the butterflies flittering from bloom to scarce bloom, gathering nectar.  These are things I wouldn't get to do as I sip coffee if I had to be somewhere.

This summer I've been visited by a couple of garden snakes, been attacked by a butterfly, and went on a fantastic nature hike/flower gathering expedition.  Obviously, the hike was before the ankle thing, but still.  Had I been working, these things wouldn't have happened.  This slowing down and (almost) forced return to writing has been what my soul needed.  My pocketbook is still crying, but there are so many more enriching things in my life.  I have met people whom I wouldn't have if I were working.  I have had such a bounty of experience.

So, if you are like me, and you find yourself with lots of time on your hands and things not going your way, don't be so quick to judge your life negatively.  Don't be so quick to judge yourself negatively.  Don't give in to your fears.  Instead, ask yourself what the universe is trying to tell you.  Ask yourself if you need to cast off stress and worry, even for a day, and just be.  We all need a break sometimes and if we don't take it, the Gods find a way to force it upon us.  If we don't accept that break, we end up wasting it worrying and fussing instead of looking for the wealth of experience it allows (even if we still hate breaks).

So, I'll stay diligent and keep looking for work.  In the mean time, though, I'll fill my days with the experiences my Gods offer me.  I'm fairly certain that one day I'll look back on this time and see the lessons contained within.

Brightest Blessings friends!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Adapt or Eliminate: Sounds Easy, Doesn't It?

There are times in our lives when the lessons are difficult.  For some, the lesson of adapt or eliminate is an easy one.  These people see something bad, negative, or otherwise not good for them and they let it go.  These same people see something that can be turned into a positive thing and they adapt themselves to it and use it for the good.  Unfortunately for me, neither adapting nor eliminating have come easy.  It happens, but I often second guess myself or beat myself up over the decision.  My choleric personality type often raises an eyebrow and asks, "Are you sure you aren't just giving up?  If you can, even remotely, make a difference, why are you giving up?"

It is in these moments, when I have to remind myself that not everyone wants what I have to give.  Sure, I want to instill confidence, beauty, and a bit of common sense in everyone I meet.  I want them to draw upon their melancholy personality (which is what I mask my choleric with) and think.  I want them to think for themselves.  I want them to weigh the good and bad out for themselves.  I want to gently guide them to these conclusions, but only if they are receptive.  When they aren't receptive, I find myself either adapting to their negative or chaotic outlook, or I eliminate them from my life.  Those are the only two choices I have.

I have found myself with people or in situations where, quite frankly, I open my big mouth and try to help.  I see these people, whom I count among my friends, with fear, negativity, and chaos in their lives.  They whine, complain, and lament their bad luck constantly.  Being on the outside and having stood in their shoes, I understand now what I didn't know then.  I understand that these people draw the chaos to them.  They thrive on the drama and the chaos.  If things weren't bad, they would happily sabotage something to have something to complain about.

I've been there.  I've been one of those drama-seeking self saboteurs.  The chaos in my life was exhausting!  Of course, the exhaustion was just one more thing for me to whine about.  I liked it.  I liked blaming everyone else for the crap life was flinging so mercilessly at me.  Now that I'm a bit older and maybe slightly wiser, I don't know what I was thinking!  Not to say that my life is completely chaos free or anything, because it isn't, however, instead of succumbing completely to the tornado of chaos, I stand as strong as I can against it, willing myself to not get caught up.  If I do happen to get caught up, I lament my luck for a bit (really, who doesn't?!?), but then I have to gather myself up and make a decision.  I can allow it to take over my whole life, or I can adapt or eliminate.

There are few situations or people who I don't adapt to.  I cherish the people in my life for the individuals they are.  That said, many of those people are also in the Craft.  We come to the Craft to learn.  We come to the Craft to grow.  We come to the Craft to become better than we were.  When I point out a learning opportunity to someone and, because they don't want to learn and grow, I am the bad guy, I am the negative one, holier than thou, or whatever 10,000 other ways they choose to try and insult me, I know that it is time for me to move on.  Adaptation is no longer useful and it is time to eliminate.  I love them anyway and I silently walk away.  I know that if they keep upon their path and walk it true that our paths will meet again down the road and we will have an opportunity to grow in our Craft together.

I've lost a handful of people just in the last single turn of the Wheel because of this choice.  It's heartbreaking.  It's difficult.  It really makes you re-evaluate your life, your changes, where you are going, and what you are doing.  For someone with my personality type, it also makes me wonder if the changes are worth it, makes me wonder if the progress is really forward progress.  That said, I look around me and realize that for every person I have lost, two new ones have manifested and, despite how things may appear, they are wise and lift me up and, right or wrong, help me see my own lesson in the situation.  As long as I learn those lessons, I can't be any worse off for it.

Brightest Blessings my friends!!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Are We Simply the Sum of Our Own Decisions, Really?

I was listening to my iTunes the other day as I was cleaning and a song popped up that I haven't listened to in years.  It was the song "Homecoming Queen" by Hinder.  Now, this group isn't one of my favorites, never has been, honestly, but a friend bought the CD and let me rip it to my computer, so I did.  Listening to the song hit me somewhere near dead center and got me thinking, "Are we really only just the sum of our own decisions?"  The lyric that hit me was in the chorus, "She's a casualty of all the pressure/That we put on her/And now we've lost her for good..."

It's a song about a beautiful girl, the homecoming queen, who succumbed to the pressures of life and ended up a junkie and how no one really knew her and what they were doing to her and how the song writer would have saved her if he could.  It's very analogous to life.

While I firmly believe we are the sum total of our own decisions and I firmly believe in personal responsibility, how many times have we made a decision just to make someone else happy?  How many times have we broken under the pressure of another's expectations and not done what made us happy in lieu of what someone else perceived as the 'right thing?'

This song really got me to thinking about my own decisions in life and how, so very often, I have made decisions based on what others wanted versus what I wanted.  I did this just to escape from their pressure.  Even more disturbing, I think, was my foray into addiction.  While I know that I do not have an addictive personality, I spent a year of my life either drunk on whiskey or high on marijuana.  Oh, at the time it was a blast!  However, now, I am older and wiser, and I know that I like whiskey and pot and I know that imbibing regularly could take me down that path again.  I will, on occasion, have a glass or two of Jack.  It's like a bittersweet reunion with an old friend, however, it's an old friend who isn't good for me, so when we reunite, I remind myself of this fact and I'm okay.< The addictive haze I found myself in at that time was due, mostly, to the pressure I was under from everyone else.  I recognize that now.  I took their expectations and hefted them on my shoulders and simply couldn't move, so I drown myself in mind-altering substances in an effort to convince myself that I could, indeed, walk and push forward.  As an adult I have found better coping mechanisms, but not without a lot of trial and error and even some backsliding. I am a lot like the girl in the song.  Everyone else had all of these dreams for me, yet no one bothered to ask me what my dreams were for myself.  No one bothered to foster those dreams.  No one bothered to encourage them.  Their myopic view of my life encouraged them to poo-poo my own goals and dreams of happiness for their own lost dreams, so they could live vicariously through me.

Unfortunately, that didn't work out so well for them.  I spent the first 10 years of my adult life married to a man who didn't give a crap about anyone but himself and how much money he could make.  When I finally left, he stalked me relentlessly until I disappeared off the face of the Earth.  Even then, if he say a friend of mine, he would ask about me, digging for information.  I spent the first two years after my divorce terrified that he would show up at any point in time simply to harass me.  You see, he was an addict (I blame his doctors for this) who ultimately cheated on me and couldn't believe I would have the gall to leave him and when he found out that the grass wasn't greener on the other side, he used every tactic in his arsenal to get me to come back.  He used everything from terror and threats to charm and lies.  Then, he died and I was free.

Now, I sit at this blog, jobless and nearly desperate, yet I don't feel the weight of the world upon my shoulders.  I don't feel the frustration many feel.  I simply can't.  I've come to a point where I know that I am both the sum of my own decisions and the decision of others to pressure me, but I don't blame them.  I don't lament my bad luck.  I don't project my own bad decisions upon others, nor do I blame them for pressuring me into decisions, or maybe pressuring me into thinking I had to make a decision.

Each decision I have made in my life has led me to this point.  It has placed the people in my life who I need and it has given me so many lessons to learn.  How can I say that it has been bad when I have had so many grand adventures?  How can I say it's anyone's fault but my own?  I can't.  It's not been bad.  I'm sure there aren't many people in this world who can say they bought their first luxury car just after they turned 25, and they worked their ass off for it.  I did.  It wasn't given to me.  I worked hard for it.  Two years later I bought my first brand new vehicle.  Once again, I worked my ass off for it.  I'm quite proud of those things, but then again, stuff comes and goes.  Ultimately, life isn't measured in stuff.  Life is measured in how you touch the lives of those around you.  Life is measured by your deeds.

So, instead of lamenting our bad luck or blaming everyone else, the economy, or even fate, look at the good things in life.  Just because things have been difficult, doesn't mean we have to beat ourselves up over it.  Difficulties arise when there are lessons to be learned and learning those lessons are the most important thing.    People were put in our lives for a reason.  They pressure us, they push us, they may drive us mad, but in the end we still have the ability to say no and to go our own way and find our own happiness.  What are you doing?

Brightest blessings my friends!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ripples in the Pond of Life

It is only Tuesday and this week the pond that is my life has been rippling blessings out and back in.  Through my short journey in the Craft, I have often heard the analogy of ripples in a pond and what you say and do are the stones which are thrown in to cause the ripples.  It could be, I suppose, a layman analogy of the Three Fold Law.

When we, as the spiritual beings that we are, choose selflessness over greed and choose to see the bigger picture, we can effect the lives of people we have never met.  I have already seen this exact thing this week.  It is a most humbling feeling.  I share the one thing I have in abundance, that which we all have, but can never possess: Love.  In return, I see love reflected back to me through others, some whom I have never even met and may never even get to meet.  Yet, it doesn't lessen the fullness in my heart.  It doesn't stop my tears of joy, and there have already been many of them this week.

Those ripples go out, spreading in larger and larger circles, encompassing me, my friends, their friends, and eventually total strangers somewhere far across the world from me.  In a world of seven billion people, I wonder just exactly how one person's joy, thanks, and love for another can be so far-reaching.  I wonder just how many people slow down and indulge in those feelings.  Even more importantly, I wonder just how many people take those things in and spread them within their own circles, causing beautiful ripples in their own ponds of life.  It also makes me wonder just how many people it would take doing this to touch every person on the planet!

There are days when we all get caught up in our own lives and dramas and forget to spread happiness, for sure, but how many of us on those days, have been smiled at by a total stranger on the street?  How many times did that smile make us stop dead in our thread of negativity and completely turn our day around?  How often do we do this?  It's always much, much easier, as we walk down the street, to avert our eyes and not acknowledge a stranger, but what if the eye contact and smile you give a stranger is the only positive thing that happens to them on that day?

Ripples in the pond, friends.  It's the Law of Attraction, the Law of Polarities. If you want happiness, luck, love, and beauty, embody those things, look for them, and call them to you.  Put them out there.  Smile at a stranger.  Say a kind word.  Help someone who is struggling.  When that happens, the ripples begin and, who knows?  Maybe somewhere down the line someones anger and frustration are melted into compassion, someone goes home and tells their partner just how much they are appreciated, someone decides they are worthy of being kind to themselves.  The possibilities are endless!

And to think it all began with a random act of kindness.

My own first random act today is to tell my readers just how much I appreciate you all!  I wholeheartedly appreciate that each of you take time out of your day to connect with me through this medium.  I know just how busy life can be and I am humbled that my oh-so-insufficient grasp on this language touches you in one way or another.  I can only hope that my emotions and experiences related here find some way into your life (even if it's in a this-is-what-you-don't-do kind of way).

These words have reached to all corners of the world and it awes me to think that I have directly impacted, in one way or another, readers in Germany, Romania, Lativa, and Australia, among other far reaching and exotic lands.  You bless me each time I check my statistics and see a new place on the map.  I want you to know that, if you are reading this, there is a woman on a small ridge in Missouri, USA, sending you love and thanks.  You touch my soul with your presence and it enriches my life in way I simply can not articulate in words.

Thank you all and brightest blessings my friends!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Who Says You Can't Go Home?

Whoever said that you can never go home obviously never knew Terry and Amanda Riley.  They never experienced that level of community, love, and trust.  I moved away from Northeast Arkansas and my church, The Southern Delta Church of Wicca-ATC, in April.  The Gods called me away from the first place I'd ever truly called home.  While I may not like Their reasons for calling me away, I don't question why I was called so far away.  Even though I miss my church family with every fiber of my being, I know there are lessons to be learned and adventures to be had, right here in Mid-Missouri.

That said, this weekend, I went back to retrieve the rest of my meager worldly possessions and was met with open arms and open hearts.  It was as though no time had passed, even tough it had been about seven weeks since I'd last seen anyone.  This visit broke my heart and lifted my spirits simultaneously.  Until this weekend, I'd neither felt fully here nor fully there, but with the retrieval of my belongings, I was no longer between places.  

Saying farewell was nearly spirit shattering.  I was finally leaving my old roommates, Heather and Jared, who gave me a home when I needed it and loved me unconditionally as I struggled and fought through so many changes.  Some of my best memories of this chapter in my life are sitting, morning after morning, sipping coffee with Heather, and talking all things spiritual before I had to leave for work.  I still often forget that she is several years younger than I and that she is just now beginning her First Degree work.  She is so intuitive, wise, and understanding.  She knows what she wants and once that goal is set, she goes after it with a passion.  She takes her life's lessons and, despite any frustrations that may arise, meets them confidently head-on, knowing that she can only do what she can and leaving the rest up to the Gods.

Jared is one of those men who sits and listens, more often than he talks, but you can guarantee when he opens his mouth, the words are either going to be heart-stoppingly profound or side-splitting hysterical.  He, too, meets his goals with a passion and quiet stubbornness that is simply breath taking to watch.  He is always kind and willing to help in any way imaginable, even if he doesn't know what to do, he's there offering a hug and a shoulder.

And then, there was the Riley household.  There are three things you can guarantee when you walk in over there, an endless cup of coffee, unconditional love, and wisdom beyond understanding.  When I walked in, I was greeted by Bo-Bo and Sparkles, the dogs of the house, with joy and kisses, as always.  Then, I was grabbed by Ivy, one of my best friends in the universe.  She has an amazing way about her that can not be described.  Being enveloped in her hug is like a soft, warm blanket on a dreary winter day.  Then, I was hugged by Terry.  The old Sage is the consummate leader, adviser, and father figure.  With him, there is no prodigal son or daughter, there are simply children who have gone on to other adventures.  

When his students come home, they are home, whether for good or for a visit.  All questions are answered to the best of his ability.  His latest projects are showed off and plans for future projects relayed with joy in his heart at the fortune he has to serve his community.  Terry lives his life in a way that most people only dream of.

Zach and Amberly are Terry's kids.  The three of us fought through First Degree classes from beginning to end. They live their lives like their father does.  They strive for a goal until they reach it and then they make another.  If I could have chosen siblings to have, it would have been these two.  Sure, they fight like all siblings, but it is on a whole different level and standing on the outside, its a humorous thing to watch.

Then, there's Ashley, Terry's daughter-in-law and her children.  Once again, an amazing woman.  She is a wife, mother, and witch.  She takes life with the gentle understanding of a mother and has grown so much since I met her, not a year ago.  Her babies are two of the sweetest magical children I have ever met.  As I was saying my farewells, her daughter toddled up to me and hugged my leg.  Of course, I bent down and grabbed her as though she were my own child and gave her a proper hug.

Finally, we come to the Queen Mother, Mandy.  She sits among the chaos with a smile on her face, exuding love for all of us who just might venture through her door.  We are all her children and she loves us as such.  She, like Terry, patiently answers our questions, hold our hands, and helps us in any way she can, offering her wisdom of the years for us to contemplate.  

Going home to these people is like shining the light of the noon day sun on the midnight of loneliness I have  sometimes felt in this big house on the ridge. It reminds me that no matter where the Gods call me, no matter where I lay my head, I can always go home.  Even more importantly, when I go home, I am welcomed as though not a day has passed.  That, my friends, is what community and friendship are all about.  That is what love is all about.  That is what I seek and what I seek to help create for everyone who I may come into contact with.  

Neither time, nor distance may change these things.

Brightest Blessings my friends!