Darkest Night Passed. Now which way do we go?

Longest night is behind us –Solstice celebrated.

I lit a myriad of candles around the ladies on the hearth of my faux fireplace, nee altar.  I laid out a few fancy snacks on the coffee table: caviar, tapenade, mushroom pate, crackers and an iced bottle of champagne.

I sat before the flames, sipped, and nibbled. I reflected on my 2010 with a pen upon my journal’s pages: reviewed my past, considered my present, and drafted my goals for 2011. I won’t finalize them until the new moon plus 1 – January 5th.

Just as people have planted by the phases of the moon, so I plant the seeds of my aspirations for 2011 for maximum growth. I consider myself an above ground crop best planted during a waxing moon.

The rough draft needs work, and I’ll hone it over the coming days. It’s a combination of goals and bucket list – Some are long range, some are short; some are serious and some not so serious.

With darkest night behind me, the almost imperceptible lengthening of days invigorates me.  It’s a heady feeling to visualize striding into the growing light and lengthening days of a new year knowing that each seed grows according to the care and attention I give it.

I intend to tend this particular garden better than I did in 2010.


It’s Friday and I’ve been out shooting.

I’ve put a fresh spiral notebook between the red leather covers of that which is my journal. Through most of my days, my journal is my lifeline, my confidant, sometimes my very sanity.

Today when friends e-mailed or call and said “TGIF”, it had no meaning to me except to cause nostalgia.

I still feel a certain disconnectedness at not having a job out there, where TGIF is the ritual of weeks’ end.

I’ve spent far too many days at this computer these past weeks, and had to escape today. So I put on my walking sandals and logged some miles; stopped at Joe Muggs and drank coffee then water and read a dozen magazines for free; stopped in for happy hour and cheap house wine and hors d’oeuvres at Brios and stayed far longer than I planned, and

So I find myself here at my computer as midnight looms keeping my commitment to the page.  I’ve posted another chapte r of my book on my other blog just now and now I post here and a add a few pix I shot today.

Next week I think I’ll go to 2 or 3 days a week posts – haven’t decided if Tues/Thurs or Mon/Wed/Fri.  I need some studio time to draw and paint and stretch a different part of my brain than marathon writing allows.

When I post this, I’m taking a book and one last glass of wine (as if I need one) to bed to read a chapter before I turn off the lights.

Baby, It’s Hot Outside

Jasmine feels betrayed, and lets me know it. It happens in the deep of winter and then again when summer hits swelter.

Cats are a determined and single-minded species.  The morning started as always.  Jasmine dashed down the hall ahead of me and sat on the sill waiting for me to open her little door to our balcony. It’s early morning and my first tasks are all cat-related: put food in one bowl, pour fresh water in the other, and open the cat door leading out to my screened in balcony.

In winter, she’d be back in in moments.  Summer, she lasts a little longer, but she comes back in panting and stares at me as only a cat can – it’s 96 outside with a heat indeed over a hundred.

The odd ‘meorrow’ seems to ask accusingly, ‘what have you done to the weather’. She stares out the window and ventures out once or twice more before walking haughtily down the hall to lie on the leopard comforter at the foot of my bed which is cooled by the overhead air conditioning vent.

I keep the air on 68 day and night.  Living in a top unit of an old 4-plex, it’s necessary to keep it well chilled to handle the heat that settles in from the poorly insulated attic in the afternoons.

She’ll visit various of her air-conditioned perches throughout the day as she determinedly goes out to see if things have changed.  Later this week, she’ll be rewarded, as the rain will drop the humidity and the temperature to the 80’s, but soon summer will settle in, in earnest that no amount of rain can alter.  It will be 24-7 of intolerable heat, and I’ll be in for some seriously disdainful looks.

Don’t know how Scarlet survived it. Come on Fall.

© Perle Champion

Am I a Witch? Yes, and so much more.

Am I a Witch? Yes, and so much more.  I’ve long passed the half century mark, so the roles of my life are many: daughter, brat, sister, friend, lover, wife, and mother; artist, poet, and writer; and former captive and drudge of corporate America.

We are none of us one-dimensional – a flat Sam or flat Jane – so to speak. Most of us have many faces.  We all have secrets, some have dark closets, and some of us just don’t advertise to the world at large everything about ourselves.

Yes, I am a Witch.  I don’t hide it, but I don’t advertise it.  I don’t walk around dressed in black or white robes; I don’t wear my pentacle except occasionally; I don’t chant spells in for all to see – I am a Solitary.  My beliefs are my own; I need no one to validate me.

People who make a big show of their beliefs annoy me; they decry their holier than thou religion as if to prove something to the world at large and perhaps to themselves.  In doing so, they violate one of the tenants of their own bible:

Matthew 6:5-6

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

The thing about belief is simple.  To each her/his own.  I was raised and catechized a Catholic.  As a child, I loved the ritual of it, the pomp, the incense, but most of all Mary.  I bent knee and lit many candles at Mary’s altar, but I never bowed my head.

I gazed up at the goddess shining through in Christianity as she does in many cultures worldwide – a reminder that the feminine is essential in all things as is the masculine.

Lucid dreaming, Is it Magic?

Depends on who’s answering the question.  I say yes, but then I think life is magic, and dream is just the part of our life our essence inhabits when our corporeal self sleeps.

I notice in my dream journal…

Note: if you don’t keep a dream journal by the bed, get one.  We say, oh, I’ll remember.  But we don’t.  Dreams so fresh and vivid on awakening, are lost in moments as the day’s chores loom.  Write it down immediately – review at leisure.

Once more:

I notice in my dream journal that I revisit certain places over and over again.  There are familiar houses, stairs, rooms, places and people that I know from past dreams.

At first I thought, hmmm, odd.  But as I let the dream sweep me along where it would, I reflected on later reading that there were doors I’d never opened.  There were conversations unfinished, and I wanted to know more.  I woke feeling unsatisfied as if I’d missed something.  I had.  I had missed out because I didn’t exercise my free will.  It exists in dream, but you have to work at it.

Lucid dreaming is an odd place, and anyone can do it with practice.  I find that taking a tangible item in my hand allows me to feel anchored on that side of dream to the me I am on this side.  I use stones.  I have my smooth stones, a clear and a black, and a rather craggy frosty quartz.

Practice and it comes.  These are my steps.

*   Meditate for 5 minutes as simple as paying attention to my breath

*    Hold my chosen stone loosely in my hand

*    Turn off the lights, lie down and with closed eyes recite in my mind:

  • “I will remember my dreams.”
  • “I will know I am dreaming.”
  • “I have choices, as it my dream.”

At first, I did good to remember the dreams, and slowly my recall became more intricate and detailed.  As time went on, I knew exactly when I entered a dream and my surroundings seemed more solid.  I could choose to explore more; pursue conversations and get real answers.  Things that frightened me before were manageable because after all, it was my dream.  I could will a light on in darkened rooms; sprout wings instead of fall.

I find I’m become more attentive on this side of dream, because I’m so attentive in dream.  That is a boon it did not expect, and I plan to embrace both sides to the fullest.
Amazon.com Widgets

On Sabbat of Litha, an Evocation for Prophetic Dreams.

I was out walking when Summer Solstice arrived at 5:30 a.m. and Summer’s official arrival.  The sunrise was amazing, and I stopped to capture it mentally and digitally.  Was it more poignant because it is risen on the morn of the Sabbat, Litha?  No.

As a solitary Witch, my rituals are simple.  Last night, mid-summer’s eve, I lit my faux hearth with candles, meditated to the soft strains of Wayra’ Earth Spirit, as I sipped wine and stroked Jasmine.  I may repeat that ritual tonight and cast a small spell, as this night will be auspicious for lucid dreaming.

Walking this morning before the heat could rise from the pavement to cause discomfort, I enjoyed an amazing sunrise, my neighbors’ gardens and the odd shower from automatic sprinklers.

Born in San Antonio, Texas and now living in Birmingham, Alabama, I should be accustomed to sweltering summer heat.  I am not.  I go out early and sometimes late, but most hot summer days find me inside with the a/c set to 68.  With the exception of the verdant gardens, abundance of vegetables and longer days, there is little I like about a southern summer’s stifling heat.

I long for the wheel to turn along with summer’s leaves; to walk out beneath a sun’s radiance tempered by the cool breezes that herald Fall; to create colorful whorls of leaves as I kick along.  Soon enough.

For now, I’ll prepare this evening’s candles and write a simple evocation, née petition, née spell, for prophetic dreams of the path that lies ahead for me.

I am one with the uni verse – See me.

Let me slip easily into the stream of time – Hear me.

Let me acknowledge my past, and accept my now – Help me.

Let me see in dream a little of my path ahead – Grant me.

That given time to contemplate, I may make better choices – Guide me.

As I give myself up to the I am and slip into dream. Protect me.

So mote it be.

Blessed be.

AF Brat 5: I enrolled myself in first grade

I was scared, but only I knew it. Momma combed my hair into long curls with a comb dipped in cold water – think Shirley Temple.  A quick breakfast in the kitchen, and then I walked to the bus stop with the kids I’d just met and barely knew, and  took a bus to the first school I’d ever attended.

Once there, my new friends left me to go to their classes saying just ask for the principal, so I asked the first grown up I saw.

I was determined not to cry, but the butterflies in my stomach were making me feel like throwing up my breakfast.  I swallowed hard before answering this kind and smiling lady’s question of why my parents weren’t with me.  “Momma doesn’t drive and she’s home with my little brother.  Daddy went to work at 5 this morning.  I have all my papers and stuff, and I’m supposed to give them to the principal.”  I handed her the envelope full of information I could not yet read.

She took me in hand, and I eventually found myself in a first grade classroom with another young woman introducing me to a class of yet more strangers.

Sitting at a desk in a classroom listening to the teacher talk, felt somehow right, and at lunch, everyone wanted to know me because I was from Texas.  They all seemed to think that all Texans carried guns, rode horses and knew John Wayne personally.

The ride home that first day was reflective as I looked out the window at the verdant countryside.  I knew that my entire world had changed, and I would never be the same.  Some of my new friends were sorry for me, for in their eyes no one cared enough to go with me.  Some of my friends though it was cool that I could go out into the world alone and unafraid.

I was a little sad for myself, too.  But I was a little bit proud, too; I knew I was okay alone among strangers.  It would stand me in good stead as time and again, I walked into a brand new school and enrolled myself.

Although I enrolled in February, with the teacher’s help, I caught up to the rest of the class before school let out for the summer in June.

AF Brat 4: I Learned the alphabet in one day

Texas didn’t allow anyone to start school unless they were six the day school started, and as my birthday is in February, I was not in school.  That was not to last.

Daddy came home and said he found out I could go to the base school, regardless.  So here it was February; the school year was half over; there was no kindergarten back then for me; I didn’t even know my alphabet.

“No problem,” Daddy tells Mom.  “I’ll teach her.”

We began after breakfast, skipped lunch, and through tears and threats of no supper either if I didn’t get it all learned that day, I did it.  I learned to write and recite my alphabet and numbers 1-100, spell small words in a day.  We went down to the main dining room by 6:30.

Sunday we practiced and practiced and practiced some more.  The next day was Monday and would be my first day of school.

Next: Enrolling myself in first grade.

AF Brat 3: Goose Eggs for breakfast

There were some white bread sandwiches on the coffee table.  They were butter with cucumber and butter with ham; cut into fours with the crusts neatly trimmed away; and neatly stacked on a beautiful old plate.

We devoured them all, and Mom put us too bed.  I could hardly sleep, ad when she left the room, I crept to the window to look out.  As I look back, I know now why I liked that shot in Harry Potter one so much. The one where he sits looking out the frosted window of his new home high in the castle.

I didn’t need waking up the next morning, I was ready to go before anyone and waiting impatiently at the door.  We went down the rickety stairs to the better stairs and found our way to the kitchen, where the maids were scurrying around the long table delivering breakfast to our house mates.

At that time, Wadenhoe House was managed by Mrs. Boothroyd (Mrs. B) and with two exceptions, all the rooms and suites were let out to military families.  The exceptions were a Scot and a Pole.  The Scot, when in his cups, would change into kilts and serenade the whole house with his bagpipes whether they liked it or not. The Polish man was quiet and read a lot.

Mrs. B introduced us around the table, and asked how we liked our eggs.  I watched as the cook cracked these huge eggs into a bowl and beat them with a fork and milk before putting them into the large iron pan on the old wood stove that occupied half the wall at then end of the kitchen.

Later when Mom found out they were goose eggs, she never ate them again.

Next: Learning the alphabet in one day.

AF Brat 2: Wadenhoe House looked like a castle

It began in San Antonio, Texas.  My Mom married Daddy when I was 3, and we all lived in a small apartment in a Mrs. Steele’s comfy old house where the roosters perched on her grand piano and generally made a mess everywhere.

We weren’t there long since the minute Daddy married Mom, he got on the waiting list for base housing.  Lackland AFB was great.  All the families were young, and I suddenly had tons of friends to run and play with until the orders came.

I was six and had a 2-year-old brother when we boarded a ship out of New York bound for England.  I was seasick from day one.  My most vivid memory is lying on a bunk and staring at a porthole of dark water and trying hard to keep down the saltines I was nibbling on and praying it would be over soon.  The crossing took nine days and Daddy had to stay in the men’s quarters, so we only saw him at meal time.

We spent only a day in London, and I remember a parade.  Mom got a picture of the Queen, well the back of her head.  The next afternoon, we got in a black car and headed out of town to a little village called Oundle then on to Northhamptonshire.  It’s about 70 plus miles but with no highways, it was well after dark when we arrived at Wadenhoe House.

I felt like we were in a scary movie.  This huge castle loomed in the night as the fog rolled along the ground all around it and us as we got out of the car.  Daddy, ever the practical joker pointed at the head carved above the entrance and said, “That is the ghost of Wadenhoe.”  Mother told him to cut it out, but I had to pee too bad to be scared.

An old woman, Mrs. B, opened the door and welcomed us; showed us to our flat (English for apartment); told us what time breakfast was served in the kitchen and left.

We were home.

Next: Goose eggs.