This is my dad and I when I’m about 6 months old. It was taken at a dinner at my parent’s house and it was after midnight because as usual I wouldn’t sleep. He died 3/1/2001 and I still miss him. He was a 6th grade teacher for most of his life and after finding his WWII diary last year there are so many things I wish I could ask him.
Like I said for Faeries last week, it’s hard not to believe in ghosts when you grow up with them around you. When we moved to our new house when I was 9, I inherited a beds from a recently deceased great aunt but she was never a problem and I loved the bed. It was a four poster mahogany high thing that I was convinced pirates were hiding under. I got over that but I couldn’t get over the man who would stand at the end of my bed near one of the posts and not moving for hours while I lay there terrified. What I didn’t know was that my baby sister who moved into my room a few years later could see him too. For years she wouldn’t go to sleep unless someone sat with her. It was a chore that was a pain in the ass until I got old enough to not be home when she was going to bed.
The man would just stand there and not do anything. You couldn’t quite see through him and when he first appeared I thought he was a real living man. Finally I got used to him and would just fall back asleep. My sister told me as an adult that she used to see him outside the bathroom door.
It wasn’t until I was grown I figured out who he was. The house had been built in the 1920’s by a husband and wife with 3 daughters. In fact, the house was designed by the wife and it’s the only house I’ve ever been in that had enough storage space because every room had a huge closet and our room had a closet inside the closet and some were as big as bedrooms and that doesn’t count the closet under the stairs or the attic that ran the length of the house. Anyway, I finally realized he was just watching his daughters sleep and was still doing it with us.
He also used to walk up and down the stairs at night which could be a bit disturbing when your babysitting your sister and she’s upstairs and you’re downstairs. It was a really big house too and one stair always creaked if you stepped on it so you KNEW someone was walking on the stairs.
We also had relatives that would come and visit and still do. My grandmother liked to spook my mom after she died. I was working as a Girl Scout professional and we were having one of the first Girl Guides, Wendy come and visit our council and we were going to save “God save the Queen.” And while I knew all the words my boss wanted to see it written down. So I called home to see if my mom could find it in one of our books. (pre-internet, boys and girls, when you actually looked things up in books.) Anyway, mom looked all over and couldn’t find it and made the mistake of saying, where was her mother when she needed her? (Grandma had participated in something in the 1890’s for a royal visit to Toronto. Dead silence fell on the phone. So I asked what was wrong. My mom finally replied with a shaking voice. “I think she heard me.” Out of the book mom was holding and had already looked through had fallen a piece of paper in my grandmother’s handwriting, the words to “God save the King.” That was just her sense of humour.
When I was living in Pasadena, a friend came over to practice her energy massage technique and while I was on the massage table I became aware of someone being there and because it felt like a hug I knew who it was, Only one person in my family always gave off the energy of being hugged. He was also a Master Mason and I think he was really intrigued. I didn’t say anything about him being there but my friend finally asked if some one was there so I asked her what it felt like. She said, “ this is going to sound weird but he feels like a hug.” So I told her who it was.
So yes, I believe in ghosts.
A lot of people get wrapped up in a title or idea of what a priestess/priest is and a lot of them get stuck on one idea, that a priestess/priest leads ritual and maybe does some pastoral counseling and that ‘s it, but the role is so much more.
A priestess or priest is anything reasonable and I suppose unreasonable, given what some deities can ask of you, that serves your deities. Nothing more and nothing less is your duty to your deity.
So, let’s look at the wider role. We are all priestess and priests every day we walk our path and that includes the people that choose the set-up and clean-up roles before and after ritual if you have enough people to spread around. It’s your door greeter. It’s your archivist/photographer. It’s the person who starts the phone chain. It includes everything even the non-glamourous roles.
You can be a storyteller, a musician, a baker, it isn’t what you do, it is how you do it? Do you perform what you need to do with a clear head and intent and open heart? Do you do it with your whole heart? If you didn’t get the job you wanted in ritual are you feeling relegated or hard done by instead of saying not everyone can be a star nor does everyone want to be nor should everyone be a star.
And if you always take a background role is it time to volunteer for something bigger?
Being a priestess/priest does, however mean growth. It means pushing yourself to do things that may make you feel uncomfortable because you happen to be shy or it isn’t something you really want to do.
Being a priestess/priest means accepting change, how does the chant go? “She changes everything she touches and everything she touches changes”?
This is a path of change and when we accept the anointing or mantle or whatever your tradition uses to acknowledge priestesshood we accept that as well. I don’t know a single person that hasn’t had difficult but amazing year after accepting the title and every step along the way our deities challenge us for accepting the title. They do listen when we take our vows just as we listen to them.
I’ve only had one real familiar and his name was Samhain. He was a cat burglar (literally), a magician, the neighborhood cat king and a friend to beings smaller than he was as long as they weren’t birds.
I was supposed to pick up a female kitten from a co-worker the afternoon the big boss came and dropped a box of 4 week old kittens on my desk. She said since I was the staff Naturalist if I sexed them I could have one. Her pure bred Bombay had decided that morning to quit the job of being a mother so she was going to take them to a pet shop. They were all black fuzz balls that fit in one hand. As I sat there one crawled up out of the box on my lap and looked in my eyes and fell asleep on my chest. I knew then I was a goner but I had wanted a female. I was happy this one looked female and 2 days later he fooled me, his balls dropped. By then it was way too late.
He had no name until I got home from work that night and we set him on the floor. My partner at the time had a very large golden lab who tried to balance on the back of the couch when the kitten hissed and did the traditional Halloween kitty pose. Since Hallows was a couple of weeks away and he was all black, he became the Samhain kitty.
He grew quickly into a familiar, walking into any circle casting like he was the Master and we were the students. He sat in my lap while I was learning to read tarot and if I ignored a card he would start patting it with a paw and a look I still can’t define on his face.
I moved in with another partner a few months later who I lived with for almost 4 years and Samhain turned into a cat burglar. I never knew whether he was stealing off people’s clotheslines or from their houses or both, but we collected things like a silk bed jacket, lottery tickets (not good ones), one morning it was a royal blue shoulder pad and we jokingly asked him where the other one was and the next day he brought the matching one. The neighbors came asking if he had taken their wedding rings once. Never found those. Our coven sisters didn’t believe us until the day we were having a get together and down the driveway he came with a brand new roll of paper towels in his mouth. He could barely walk dragging it underneath him and stepping on either side of it. They believed after that.
One day he came home with a tiny grey tabby kitten with a full moon on is butt so we called him Lunare. Samhain, a few weeks later, according to a neighbor pushed him out of the way of a car and got his own tail run over. It had to be amputated a few weeks later and Lunare disappeared, never to be seen again.
From then on he was also Bunny kitty, because he would lay like a rabbit and having no tail that’s what he looked like or propeller butt because he learned to make the stump go in circles.
He was a really jealous cat and if I were trying to be intimate with my partner and he couldn’t get between us he would march over to her desk and making sure she was watching one by one knock her framed photos off the desk. When she would get up and chase him, he would look very smug.
When I moved out I lived alone with him for 10 years and during that time I had some very strange things happen. I had a knee reconstructed and the first night after surgery and the morphine ran off the Dr had prescribed Vicodin. I was so sick from the anesthesia I didn’t know I was also allergic to the Vicodin and started to dream? Hallucinate ? Anyway Samhain lay across my chest for some reason while I was out of is and a long black haired woman came and spoke to me and reassured me. She was very pale and dressed in Elizabethan era clothes and had a French accent. The last thing before I woke up was her looking directly into my eyes and I woke up and the cat was looking at me with the same look. It was very clear to me that the woman and the cat were one and the same, which did freak me out a bit. Somehow I was given the information that when people want to come back into someone’s life that being a familiar was the way to do it that explained an awful lot of disturbingly human behaviour he would display from time to time and his vanity. He was the most vain cat I’ve ever had. If there was something red that he would look good on, he lay on it with this expression of knowing he looked good and being very pleased with himself. He also could match colours accurately and cats are allegedly colour blind.
My sister was my babysitter since I couldn’t walk for 2 months and had a wheelchair and crutches so he brought her gifts. Neatly laid out on a black blanket were a baby black bird with a bright yellow beak and feet. It matched the cover nicely but I had to call a coven sister for disposal before my sister got home or she would have left. He also brought at different times such gifts as lizards or their tails worms, more birds, a gopher and mice and milk bottle plastic pull tabs of colours that matched his water dish which is where they ended up.
He could see and talk to the family ghosts. He chased faeries around the room if he was in the mood or just watched them intently if he wasn’t.
He’s the only cat I ever had that would spoon. He would climb under the covers and in front of me with his head on the pillow between my arms. He also liked to sleep between my legs if I made the mistake of sleeping on my stomach and one night I woke up and couldn’t move my legs and had a moment of panic thinking I was paralyzed until I figured out it was the cat.
An elderly lady moved in next door and got a short haired black cat she gave the unfortunate name of “Spook” to. He and Samhain became buddies and would sit on the lawn together or back by my car’s parking space waiting for me to come home. A long haired black cat and a short haired one all cuddled up together.
One night I came home from a Samhain circle with my coven and there was a different black animal and for a moment I jumped until it was joined by the two cats. I had thought for a moment he had also taken up shapeshifting, I wouldn’t have put it past him by that point. No, the boys had made friends with a small, all black rabbit. The rabbit taught them how to eat carrot greens in another neighbors garden and this led to much yelling ala Mr MacGregor of Beatrix Potter fame and much amusement on my part. For the longest time I couldn’t figure out where the rabbit was coming from. It turned out he lived across the street and the cats were opening his cage until they put a lock on it but that didn’t stop the 2 cats from continuing to forage in the neighbor’s garden.
He hated anytime I left and when I had to move because the owner had decided to move into my part of the triplex, he hated the boxes and the night we were supposed to move across town he had a heart attack and I rushed him to the emergency vet with him panting in my lap. They revived him but said he had had a heart attack. When I took him to his regular vet she couldn’t find anything wrong the next morning so we moved. Two months later we move lay down for a nap and he had passed away in his sleep next to me.
I still miss him even with my lovely Liath now, She isn’t a familiar.
May the Great Blue Heron watch over you
May Nepthys guide you through the dark of anesthesia
May Isis greet you as you awake.
May Thoth, god of invention and learning, guide the hands of the surgeon
May we all be there to walk with you and your new hip!
So Mote it be! Blessed Be !