Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Death, again

Nearly two months have gone by. We are still grieving the death of my sister-in-law. So much has happened. So hard to know where to start, so I will just dive in. We did hold a Lammas feast. More of a snack, really. I purchased a candle and a small cloth to use as an altar cloth on the table. We were outside, and I followed a ritual that I found online. It was simple, but it felt good, and I am glad we did do that. The bread and corn muffins were pretty darn good, too! August was mostly uneventful, everyone trying to get back to a normal pace of life. We never did hold a birthday party for DH, but he was given a few gifts by our D&D friends at on of the games. I am not sure he even registered that he got gifts, just that we were able to play our game again. We held a memorial / wake for DH's sister. We sent invitations to anyone we could think of (that wasn't many) and left a flyer at the YMCA on their bulletin board and with one of the people there who knew her in the Buddhist group she went to. The whole family was there, as were some of our closest friends. Only two people besides that showed up. We set up a memorial table with pictures and candles and there were a ton of flowers. We barbecued and ate and talked until nearly dark. Then, we all gathered in a circle, holding hands, and began speaking about her. Telling the stories and anecdotes from her life. Remembering her as each of us needed to. Our hearts were heavy with sorrow, but our spirits light with the support of all those around us. I will always be grateful for our friends and all of our family. For most of August, we didn't really see much of the rest of our family. DH's mother was, for a while, staying at our married niece's house. DH didn't want to bug her and press her for time to spend together, thinking she needed time to herself to grieve and pull herself back together. She eventually went home, but we were unaware of her goings and comings. I don't know that we actually saw her during August. For the last week of August through Labor Day, I took a vacation. We went to Brookings on the coast for two nights, then Bandon for the third day and then home. We camped in a nice state campground (Harris Beach State Park) and enjoyed the beach for one evening and one lovely afternoon. The weather was gorgeous and not too cold nor too windy nor too hot. Just perfect! Neither DH nor I really wanted to drive 4 hours and camp more, so we decided to cancel those reservations and just go to Bandon and go to the animal park there. That was a great decision! We had a lot of fun and got to sleep in our own beds that night. YAY! And showers! YAY! We got home Tuesday, August 30, and spent the rest of the days just being lazy. I was enjoying not having to work and getting some Lord of the Rings Online gaming in. Saturday morning, September 3, DH's phone rings. As he is sitting down, talking, he suddenly shouts out "NO! You've got to be kidding me!" I was immediately at his side. He hung up the phone in a panic and said to me "My mom is dead!" Needless to say, he was out the door in just a few minutes, flying to her home 25 miles away. All I could do was wait. Turns out, on the way there going WAY over the speed limit, he was pulled over. He was not really all that nice to the officer, but told his story. Once the officer confirmed it, DH was given a ride by the trooper. Before they could arrive, they got new information that she was in an ambulance and headed to the hospital. The trooper took DH back to his vehicle and followed him into town. Meanwhile, I had been up, pacing, praying, wondering. The kids were still asleep, thankfully. I finally got a call from DH. He was at the hospital. The Dr. had told him that, while they had a heartbeat, it was not a good one, and she had been down so long that there was zero chance of brain function being restored. He made the decision then and there, with total clarity as if being directed by an outside force, to stop all lifesaving efforts. Then he called me and asked me to bring the kids down. I woke my DD and she was nearly silent, even though I told her to get up, we have to go to the hospital, your Grandma is dying. I left her to go get my DS up. When I woke him, he was barely awake but was immediately heartbroken, wailing, WHY WHY WHY and clinging on to me. Once they were dressed, we went to the hospital. I will try to post the rest of the story as soon as possible. My your days be restful and productive.

Sunday, July 31, 2011


Today, I am struggling. A week ago we learned that my sister-in-law passed away. I didn't believe it, at first. Then I brought flowers in from my garden, along with a small oak branch and some leaves from other trees in my yard and I put them on my altar. I sent fervent prayers to my Goddess. Then I waited, at home, while my husband went to his family and they supported each other. I was at home with our kids and he asked me not to tell them until we could all be together. I understood that and respected that.

Eventually, we all met up at Denny's: me and the kids, my husband, my nephew and his wife, and my niece and her husband. We told our kids what was up. Then we waited for my mother-in-law, father-in-law and brother-in-law to get there, but they were very late. Our other niece called in a panic. She had been out of town and had not gotten any texts or messages until a very callous one from an acquaintance. She was able to get to Denny's and sit with us for a while. We all ended up back at our place, after I bought everyone food.

The rest of the family showed up shortly after that and everyone talked. Everyone comforted one another, but I felt like a liar. I had never accepted this woman as my sister, so why did this bother me so? I needed comfort, but felt like I had no right to it. I felt like I needed to be the comforter, the hostess, the one who made it all better.

They didn't stay long, just long enough to make sure everyone was all right, to see each other in person. My mother-in-law and father-in-law (who are no longer married) stayed the night. We all gathered together for morning prayer the next day, and I read out some prayers that I found online. They were good, not perfect, but good enough for a very quickly put together remembrance. We made sure that my father-in-law (born-again-Christian) knew what we were doing and that it was non-denominational. He said a few words, too, for his daughter. It was needed, so very much. My son became very emotional and had to crawl into my lap for part of the prayers. I didn't mind much.

My guests left that afternoon to stay with other family members, giving us (and me) back our house and our semi-normal lives. That helped me a lot, so I could have a sense of normalcy and continue to go to work and support our family. The nephew in the Army at Ft. I***** in California arrived Monday morning and I was able to take Monday afternoon off of work. We hung out with them at his sister's house for a while, then they all went to talk to the Medical Examiner about an autopsy. To the relief of all, he agreed to perform one.

We went to the YMCA Monday night, and I am very glad we did. I needed the physical exertion to help with the emotional strain. However, Tuesday saw my brother-in-law and his live-in (ex-wife) girlfriend and her son show up. They spent 2 nights. They were in town to attend the viewing of my sister-in-law on Wednesday morning. They just put up tents in the back yard and were very respectful of our home, but still, more guests. (sigh) I am a terrible hostess.

The viewing was.... difficult. Her youngest son attempted to take charge and order us to go in, as did his wife. I told her in no uncertain terms that we were waiting for Grandma to be ready and we would all go in together. No, I wasn't nice, but I did think it rude to not wait for her. After all, it IS her daughter that died!

She looked peaceful, lying there in the viewing room. So quiet. Our kids had insisted on going. DH did some research on the internet regarding death and Native American practices, and then he wrote a song for her. He also brought the porcelain mask he had gotten her for her birthday but never given her.

My brother-in-law had found a French Clown and had us all sign the clothing. This was tucked in with her and was cremated with her. He also found a scroll and had me write DH's song on it, as well as a dedication. I listed that she was a daughter, sister and mother in part of it. Then it was pointed out, in the viewing room, that it needed to say grandmother, too. It was just then that my son spied a marker on the floor, spilled from his grandma's purse. When he handed it to me, I saw that it was the exact marker I needed to add that word to the scroll, so I did, right then and there. It was meant for me to do that, I am sure of it.

I took the kids out to keep from heating up the viewing room too much. I then went to use the restroom. When I came out, everyone was gone! They were all in the viewing room and DH was reading what he had written. I am hurt beyond words that I didn't get to hear the first part. I felt like I had been forgotten and was not a part of the family. It still hurts. I wasn't important enough to notice or to wait for. Even my entrance into the room in the middle of the reading didn't garner much more than a dirty look for asking to be let in by the person standing in front of the door. Really? Am I that much of an outcast, even in my family? I don't understand. Did I do something to warrant this treatment? My heart hurts and I am struggling to understand.

After the viewing, I had to go back to work. But I did not want to go home and face the people I felt rejected by. I stayed late and hoped they would leave to the gym so I could stay home alone for a while. Well, they did leave, but late, and my brother-in-law and his family were still there. Not much alone-time there. I continue to struggle to "stay strong" so my DH and kids have someone to turn to.

Thursday, and it is payroll day at work. I stay late again so I can get that done, a normal occurrence. When I walk up to the house, my brother-in-law is packing up. I go in, putter about and generally do what I normally do after work. I am not intentionally ignoring them, but they eventually leave without a word to me, but a quick call to DH's phone. I missed the call and he left a voice mail. OK, but not my place to check that. I already knew everyone went to float the river, so I expected to be alone again. I didn't expect to be alone until 9. And a text from my oldest niece asking if I knew when they would be back got a really sharp reply of "no one tells me squat."

Turns out they didn't leave until late, took forever to float the section they floated, and got back late. But they all arrived safe, if a bit worse for the wear and with a scary tale to tell. But they were safe, just as I had asked from Cerridwen.

DH has been wanting to celebrate his birthday, and maybe combine it with his sister's wake. Since we had no idea about when we would receive her remains, this has been up in the air. Also, all week I have been trying to plan a Lammas celebration, but getting no where. I don't have the mental focus to read up and create a ritual for us, and I don't have the physical energy to do the work, either. It has been left largely undone because I don't know what is going to happen in the way of a birthday and wake and whatever else.

Saturday, and my oldest niece-in-law leaves. Our oldest nephew calls us and asks for a ride from his motel within 30 minutes, so I go to get him. His little brother is there, too, and showing off a bee sting from Thursday. He went to the ER and has a cellulitis infection.

After we got back to the house, DH got a call and was told that I should know all about the autopsy, the results and when they were getting his sister's ashes. Again, I snapped that "I don't get told squat" and felt left out and in the dark yet again. Apparently, our youngest nephew was supposed to have told me when I ran into him at the motel. See? Not important enough in this family to have been kept in the loop. I don't know that I ever have been.

After all this, DH thought it best to have the wake Tuesday or Thursday next week, and told people that. Even though we have given our opinion that is should be at a park so non-family could easily attend and when it should be, DH was still asked if it would be on Sunday. People just don't listen, sometimes. And I am not going to plan this party. This is on her kids, they get to plan.

I don't WANT to plan this, she wasn't my sister, and I never really accepted her as my sister-in-law, though I was trying. I was moved to put her in my daily morning prayers the Monday before she passed and to ask to put aside our past and move forward on a more positive note. I am glad I did, but I still need to pray for her forgiveness and for myself to show her the honor in death I failed to show her in life. I have a lot of work to do there, still.

Through all of this, I tried to talk to DH about Lammas. He didn't seem to be interested, though my daughter is. She even insisted on baking corn muffins for the feast which moved me to bake a Lammas loaf. For the feast that I no longer wish to hold. That I don't feel the desire to do. On a day I would rather just crawl back into bed and cry. Even though, yesterday, when I was searching for a place to be alone where no one would barge in and demand my attention, I was led to sit in a place with ripe rye grass to harvest. Even though there is ivy right next to that. Even though my daughter is thoroughly enthusiastic about this, I am not.

I don't know if I will hold the ritual or not. Everyone has left, again, to go to the gym with our oldest nephew (who is staying here until he leaves, Saturday at the latest.) I guess I will go do the shopping and see what I find. After I do some praying to see what I feel.

May you always walk in peace and feel the love that surrounds you.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Wow, so much to say! I love my family and they have not only accepted my choice to follow the Goddess Cerridwen, they have EMBRACED the choice. I am astounded at the support that I was not sure I would get. I am humbled by their love.

I invited my family to join me in prayers. One morning, my daughter happened to see me as I was beginning my prayers and meditation. I invited her to join me. It was a bit awkward, I wasn't sure how to include her, but I just kept on in the way I normally do, and it seemed fine.

Next, my son watched me a different morning from his bed. Afterward, I told him he could have joined me. He seemed skeptical, but not unwilling. He just didn't want to interrupt me that time.

So, I broached the subject of family prayer with my husband. He said, yes, please, I want to pray with you. Now, I have always envisioned this path to be solitary, but with a family like mine, who all want to be included in everything, that is obviously impossible. I spent a good hour or hour and a half writing down what I normally do, devising short mantras or prayers for them to use, and finding a blessing for the day. I also, as is normal for me, wrote down prayers for individuals in my life that are or were in need of help or guidance.

Saturday morning, despite my urge to be up at 8, I slept in a bit. Upon waking, we all gathered in a circle, sitting on the floor around my treasure box. Each person put an item of the circle on the box (earth, air, fire, water) and we lit a bit of sage to help purify ourselves and focus our minds. I gave each person the prayer I had devised for them, and told them it was only a suggestion, something to get them started. For the kids, I had my daughter say (Goddess or Grandmother) help me concentrate and learn. I gave my son: Grandfather, help me listen and learn. Something simple to give them focus that was relevant to them. My daughter has not chosen a path, so either seemed appropriate for her. My son has been present at the Salmon Festival and other Native American festivals, so he understands the concept of praying to Grandfather.

As we were meditating, my son asked if we could do "ohms" as a sound focus. Of COURSE! was the answer. Do what feels right for you. It wasn't right for me, I simply internalized my mantra. But it was right for everyone else. I couldn't help but smile! This was going very well! I worked through what I usually do, trying to include each person as seemed appropriate. After the blessing of the day, my son asked if he could say "aho" as a way of closing. What an astute young man! Of course, I told him yes, whatever works for you and feels right, is right!

I am SO proud of my son. He has taken to this like a fish to water. I am so glad I am sharing, even if it only happens a few days a week due to my/our schedules. Last night, my son requested that I take out of my box my blue altar cloth, as he had a surprise for (dad and sister) the next day. Hmmm... wonder what that turned out to be?

On Saturday, I read an email from a Pagan mentor who answered all the questions I had posed to her. One was on how to set up an altar. I brought up the answers to my husband, and within MINUTES we had a usable altar space. My suggestion of a location was immediately embraced, cleared and made ready. We have had a large sewn-together piece of (I think) rabbit skin and fur, roughly rectangular, for about six years. I knew I wanted it, but hadn't mentioned it to my husband. He immediately suggested it! Whoo! Same wavelengths and everything!

Next, I told him that I wanted, for my Goddess statue, one of the wooden statues that he got of a profile of a kneeling woman whose arms extend into a circle above her head. Maybe not the most precise representation of Cerridwen, but until I find the right statue, it will be fine, especially since I have been drawn to them since we got them. Hubby went looking in our room for a representation for the God, and he found a small wooden Buddha with it's arms raised straight up. This was something I got after my grandmother passed away, and was from her brother. Again, not the best representation, but still something that resonates with us both.

We put my altar box up there, with my items (crystal, sage on a candle stand, green candle, small bottle of water) and added a few other items. The kids each put on a feather that was special for them. In fact, my son didn't have anything he wanted to add to the altar right away, but then he went outside and there was a beautiful black and white feather in our yard. No idea what bird left it for us, as most of our songbirds just aren't that pretty. But there it was, and it was perfect for him. My daughter also added a stone found when they buried our recently deceased pet cat. They both really like having that there.

I grabbed what I thought was a small cast iron pot to use as a representation of Cerridwen's cauldron and as a brazier, but it turned out to be plastic. I still put it on the altar, and asked my daughter to find a stone to put in it so we could still use it as a burner if needed. Later, I also added a handful of small quartz crystals that we dug up ourselves from a location in Montana. Not only spiritually powerful, but sentimentally powerful as well. I added two more candles, for the God and the Goddess, then decided it was as done as it was going to be, for now.

Yesterday, after lunch with my family, we hit a second-hand shop near my work. While there, I was looking for a chalice, a better representation for the Cauldron, and a libation plate. This store didn't have anything, but I told my husband what I was looking for. An hour later he came back with a cauldron (metal tea light holder, but the right shape and size and color) and two libation plates, wooded, just as we had agreed. And we remembered a wooden goblet that we have had for 15 or so years that would fit in very well with our altar. I had thought of it first, but was not sure about it. His agreement that it was right, cinched the decision.

Our altar is now complete, and I feel so good about it! It looks so right in our home, and the energy in the house is amazing. I can feel that we are becoming an even closer family, and I can feel that I am calmer and more patient. Most of the time, LOL.

Thank you Cerridwen, for taking me into your arms and giving me the knowledge I need to follow this path. Blessings on you all.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Learning to Listen

Last week, Thursday, I went walking about on my lunch hour, looking for something specific: an altar box. A certain sized and configured box that would hold all I had that was for my altar, and that would serve as my altar during my daily prayers. I had a vision in my mind of what I was looking for, but not a lot of cash to purchase one.

As I walked around, checking into a couple of close-by second-hand stores, I found nothing. Then I headed out to the third thrift store. As I was walking there, my amulet seemed heavy on my neck. I chuckled and thought, "Oh, Cerridwen, you are reminding me that I haven't been saying my mantra today." So, I began saying my mantra. I kept that mantra going in my mind as I shopped this thrift store, and I was brought straight to a suitable box. Something that would hold all the things that have become important to me: my grandfather's quartz crystal, a box of sage for blessings and offerings, a candle, a small censer, a lighter, a small platform to burn the sage on, and my altar cloth. It also had room for my two prayer books! Wow, what a find, and only 50 cents! I was stoked! My Goddess had led me to what I needed, I was sure of it.

All last week I had been thinking about a friend, someone who I knew was a pagan. Actually, I thought she was a Wiccan, but have since discovered that she considers herself an eclectic pagan who worships Brighid. Anyway, I was not nice to her some time back over silly, petty jealousies and hurt feelings on my part. I had actually not spoken to her at all in months. I had been feeling that I needed to contact her and apologize for my behavior and ask for her guidance. I hadn't had time to do so all week, what with work and family and trying to work out my new path and find time for worship.

Friday afternoon, SHE contacted ME! She lives a couple of thousand miles away, so this was a Facebook conversation. I didn't have time at work to talk, so I told her I had questions I wanted to talk with her about, later. I got home, started getting ready to go to my friend's house (a regular Dungeons & Dragons game) and hopped on the computer to do something for a few minutes. She was on! I was surprised, and checked to see if she really was there. Yup, she was, and she was glad to talk with me. I apologized, and she said she never felt I was rude and that she had taken no offense to anything I had done. THAT was a relief!

I told her what was going on in my life, that I was working on a new path for myself. That after 30 years of searching, I had finally found that path. She suggested that maybe IT found ME! I felt such relief and joy at re-connecting with her, and knowing that Cerridwen had heard my pleas for guidance and had sent to me the one person I knew would understand, since I hadn't had the courage to contact her myself. I think I have truly found my Goddess, and I think we are going to have a long, happy relationship.

I have had a few things come up on Facebook, friends in need, that I have been adding to my morning worship. Requests for help or support or guidance from friends I haven't really had a lot of contact with in the last 20 years. But I feel that my prayers DO help. I write the prayers down, so that I can remember what I want to ask for. When I feel the prayers have had a response, I write a short prayer of thanks over the answered request, and remember to add my thanks to my morning worship, too. I feel this has been a positive action.

My daughter has been begging me to help her worship. I am so new to this, I don't honestly know what to tell her. She is struggling to find a deity to pray to, and works on researching paganism and some prayers and trying to get in the frame of mind to find what she needs. My friend suggested that she look at Pooka Pages to find stuff for kids, but she found it to have only stories, and not the information she really needed. She has been reading a bit in my prayer books, and doing online research. She joined my Sunday morning worship, and did her own worship on Monday. I look forward to making this journey with her.

In short, I can feel Cerridwen in my life, and I welcome her with an open heart. I will listen closely for her guidance and accept the help she sends my way.

May you always walk in peace, may your path be ever clear.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Salmon Festival

This weekend marks the 10th Salmon Festival/Ceremony that has been a part of my life. I have only attended 9, due to a family issue one year. My children have been involved since their births. And this is where I have found my spiritual path.

At my first New Year's PowWow, a stranger dressed in full regalia came forward and begged to "dance" my infant daughter, my first born. My daughter was not quite 3 months old at the time, but I reluctantly allowed this woman to take her out and dance to one of the songs. I am so glad I did and so grateful for Corinne's friendship. I learned this weekend that she passed away after a lengthy illness. I am happy she is no longer in pain or suffering, but saddened that my children will never really know or remember her. I miss her. Blessings Corinne, and thank you for telling me that I am more of a Native American than many at the gathering. That means so much to me. You helped put me on the right path.

I got my first two books on Thursday of last week and took them with me to the gathering. While there, I read a bit, learned some, and knitted a small bag to keep them in. They fit, but only just, so there is a good excuse to find the perfect yarn and make another bag!

One evening, as I was knitting, I was listening to the conversation my husband was having with some other campers. The discussion turned to religion and spirituality and how he does not identify as Christian, but is looking for "something" that fits his beliefs. I pulled out the books and showed him (as I hadn't yet told him of my decisions) and his response thrilled me. AWESOME! Where did you get these? WHEN did you get these? But he was a bit hurt that I hadn't yet shared this with him. I was a bit afraid to, not knowing if he would agree with my decision. Now I know that he agrees with it and will support my choice and probably join in with my worship and practice. I am blessed with a partner that understands and is working toward the same path.

My daughter was honored this weekend by being included in the construction of the women's sweat lodge. She worked hard to help as much as she could with it. He reward? She was asked to go in the sweat with the women! I am so proud of her! She finished all four rounds and the last round had seven stones (from what she told me) AND she was the only under-13 person to complete the sweat. What an accomplishment!

My husband was included in a morning sweat on Sunday, before we left. He really needed it and the sweat master (G) is planning to invite him for future sweats. The lodge gave my husband a chance to say some things that have been weighing on his mind and to talk with others that can help him find the path he is searching for. He has felt aimless and unable to find what he wants to do with his life and that is depressing for him. He works hard to keep our children healthy and happy, but without purpose in his life in the way of a job or career, he has felt disconnected. Hopefully, G can be a guide for him. We have known G for 10 years, too, and I am grateful for that connection. I don't give out hugs much, but G and the cook (C) always get hugs, and so does Mama D.

So, I suppose I had better get back to work, but I needed to get this off of my chest.

Blessings to you all. May you find peace.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


I have taken the first few steps toward a more spiritual life. I have found, I hope, a path I can follow. I have chosen a pagan/heathen/animistic path to pursue to worship in a way that suits me. I don't plan to follow any one particular established religion or any other person's path. I plan to worship how and when I find appropriate and worship nature in it's whole.

I purchased two books to guide me and I hope they will help me find my way to a better understanding of myself and my place in the world.

SHEESH! I sound like a bunch of cliches, but sometimes, that is how I feel. I just want to find a way to belong and to feel connected to a higher power. The Native American festivals I have attended have always felt "right" to me in terms of that connection. I just hope I can be true and honest here and with myself. I am not writing FOR anyone but myself, to journal what I do and how I feel. Posts will be sporadic, at best, and likely only highlight the more important happenings.

May you always be peaceful.