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More on Chuck, and the last month [Sep. 6th, 2004|12:26 am]
John

Chuck and I talked a lot on my last visit, and we talked about a great many things. One of the things I told him about was my dedication ritual on the 11th of this month. I told him that I had often wondered about when I should do something like this, and what it meant to be a witch. I have heard that the word comes from either, or both, of the words referencing wisdom or shaping. It was the latter that had the most meaning for me, for various reasons. I told him that I realized that I would only be a witch when I could shape the universe around me, when I had enough control over it that I felt that the title applied.


In a lot of ways, I feel as if this entire situation has been a final exam of sorts. I've decided a long time ago that whatever gods there are, those gods aren't mean. They might be rough, or cold, or vengeful, they might have their own ideas about what should happen, but anything that could legitimately be called a god isn't going to care enough about the doings of humanity to specifically seek out a chance to be mean. So, I don't mean this in the sense that the some powerful being picked the time that my brother was going to die in order to test me. If it were anything like that, I'd imagine that something would have happened, if Chuck hadn't been so sick…

I knew from the beginning that, if I could get through this, I could not deny that I had started taking a great deal more control over the universe and how it affects me, and those around me.

Of course, while I'm editing this, an interesting thought occurs to me. What if Chuck was supposed to die last December, and the gods kept him alive so that I'd be able to ease his passing? That kind of notion certainly twists some of the notions of predestination, destiny, and the gods working their will on the way the world works.

Some of you know that the four directions are linked to the four elements, when doing magic work. In my tradition, the North corresponds to the earth, the East to the air, the South to the fire, and the West to the water. I have also picked four animals as connectors, to those directions, and the elements. The bear is my northern anchor, because I have always had an affinity for polar bears. The raven in is my eastern anchor, and the raven has been showing up in my life a great deal recently. I knew that the wolves belonged in here somehow, and it was Pat who showed me where they fit in. Wolves sitting outside of the circle of fire made them my anchor to the south, and the fire. I don't actually speak to wolves directly; I contact the spirit of the pack. There's a difference, and it's hard to express. For the West, I use the dolphins… intelligent, playful, and willing to take on a shark when the need arises.

My connection with ravens is getting harder to express, but, as I started in magical workings, the notion of totem animals was one that stuck with me. I had long felt an affinity for bears, and I've done a great deal of thinking about and working with bear spirits. But, on Midsummer, I had my first vision of ravens. It is a strange thing, because I started noticing ravens, and I feel as if they have been noticing me. It's one of those things that could easily be chalked up to coincidence, but for my purposes, there have been too many coincidences for it to be mere chance.

The day that I learned my brother was very sick, and expected to die in the near future (just a little over a month ago, on July 30th), I went out jogging, and, at the end of my run, I heard ravens calling. I followed their cries, until I saw a pale, or maybe white, raptor, with a raven flying over top of it. I knew that this was a sign it that the ravens were promising to guide my brother on his journey in the afterlife, when the time came for him to start it.

If I remember correctly, that night was a full moon, and the reason I had come down to visit was so that Pat and I could do a full moon ritual together. Instead, while she was away at a theater meeting, I decided to do a ritual myself, to prepare myself for the trial ahead. I called upon the spirit of the bear to give strength, and healing. Because Chuck had been having problems with confusion, I call upon the ravens to be his guide when he needed them, but also to protect his mind ... the air is the element of the mind, you see, and ravens are noted for their intelligence, and learning.

When I got to the wolves, it became difficult, because I called upon them to accept him into the pack, and make sure that he knew that he always had a place where he belonged.

It was then that I first realized the problems that he might be facing, because of the rifts that had occurred between him and the rest of the family. We didn't find out that he was molested by the minister I mentioned in one of my previous journal entries, for many years. I can't place his age, because I'm terrible at pinpointing years, but he was young. He was definitely not out of high-school, and I don't think he had even entered it. And, he knew that he was gay at the time that he was molested, and he knew that, in a sense, this is what he wanted, but he also already sensed that this was not how it was supposed to be. (this is one of the events that has convinced me that evil does not consist of malice, so much as it consists of indifference. I'm sure that the minister didn't intend to take a confused, young, gay man, and tear his heart and soul to shreds. But, he did ... because he didn't care enough about the damage that he might do. )

At the time, all of the rest of the family was in family therapy, and he stopped coming to family therapy – he was at a boarding school at the time, so it wasn't like it was hard to skip the appointments - and it seemed like he was running away, or rejecting us. by the time he came back, he had come out to us as gay, and we'd more or less accepted him as the "Weirdo" of the family. I feel like saying that I now know that he wasn't all that weird, because he was a lot like me, but I suppose that's not exactly saying he's not a weirdo.

Still, if I were going to beat myself up over anything, that's the time frame over which I would be beating myself up. At the time, I couldn't have handled understanding him, and the similarities between us. But, if I could relive that portion of my life, with the learning and wisdom that I have now, I would be glad to do so.

But I don't know if that rift ever was fully healed. He came out as gay, and we knew he had problems with drugs and alcohol, and none of us were all that sympathetic. It wasn't too much later that we found out that he was HIV-positive, and that he had hepatitis C. I don't think that the family understood him yet, and I don't think we dealt with it very well. I think that we ended up blaming him for what he was doing to us.

Part of me wants to excuse myself, and everyone, because we simply didn't have what we needed to do right by him at that time. Of course, no one truly did; he was an addict, and prone to all of the behaviors that a bad addict can be subject to. And, part of me wants to blame us, just enough that there's a lesson to be learned.

It's complicated; there were a lot of stresses, plenty of stress for everyone, and I don't think anyone dealt with it well. But, in the end, I suppose I kinda wish I could have dealt with it better. Then again, if you don't feel that way about parts of your life, I don't suppose you face any significant challenges… not in the sense of things that challenge your abilities, and push them to their limits. How many things could be a real challenge, if you can't look back and say "I could have handled one of those challenges a little better?"

In any event (yes, that was a long digression!), it hit me hard that Chuck may never have had his own 'pack', and I called out to the spirit of the wolf pack to take him in, to make him part of their family, to make him certain that he had a home.

Did I get an answer?

I don't know. I didn't hear a wolf howl, or have a vision, or anything… but I felt a lot better about things afterwards. I think the wolf pack made its promise to me, and that Chuck is surrounded, protected, and loved… though not coddled, as I don't think wolves are the coddling type.

I called upon the dolphins, to protect him, and to teach him to play. It felt a little anticlimactic, I suppose.

Then, I opened the circle… and heard Pat pull up in the driveway. Timing can be funny, sometimes.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: kitsunegeek
2004-09-07 04:13 am (UTC)
I'm going to try and make a coherent comment here... I find myself wanting to touch on many things, and not having a cohesive way to pull them together.

Yes, I think the Gods can give us some very hard lessons, but I don't think they are ever cruel. And while it isn't always flashy or dramatic, I have always found comfort in ritual. I have also discovered totem animals by having them pop up and follow me around, I found (or it found me) the fox that way.

I don't think any of us make it through this life without our share of regrets, our "I wish I had done ...", things that didn't come out right. I've come to agree with with Gordon, that it doesn't do to mess with the Timeline, and that it all happens for a reason. Even when it's very hard to look back on.

I obviously can't relate exactly to everything you said above. But I know how hard it is to love, or, more accurately, express love to, an addict. Especially when you are young. The turmoil of feelings... And the very different feeling when that person's life is ending (or has ended), and you wonder what you could have done differently, or more, or something. That much I understand.

As always, you remain in my thoughts. I continue to wish you strength and peace on this journey.
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[User Picture]From: kightp
2004-09-07 05:49 am (UTC)
No words sufficient, love. But I know I don't need words to tell you how deeply this moved me.

Looking foward to our time together, and whatever help I can provide in this re-birthing.
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2004-09-08 08:11 pm (UTC)
Thank you, love... but I realized something important. This isn't a rebirthing.

It's much more a coming of age... and a recognition of what *is*. A coming of age ritual doesn't create something new, but recognizes that a transformation taking a long time has already occurred.

Some preliminary thoughts...

My four totem animals have taken up defining aspects of my life...

The bear for strength,
The raven for vision,
The red wolf for compassion,
The dolphin for joy.

(The red wolf is, by at least one tradition, associated with south, fire, and compassion... kinda neat how that works out)

(One of the sites I found also mentions that wolves are stalkers, and tend to relentlessly chase things down, mentally speaking... but we don't know anyone like *that*, do we? :-) )

In addition to the oat cakes, I think corn and olives should play a prominent role in food... corn for the southwestern Indians (I might do some searching for better references, but since the "southwest" includes Mexico, I'm sure corn figures into their diet), and olives for Athena, of course.

And, back to work for now.

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: kightp
2004-09-08 09:08 pm (UTC)
This isn't a rebirthing.

It's much more a coming of age... and a recognition of what *is*. A coming of age ritual doesn't create something new, but recognizes that a transformation taking a long time has already occurred.


Ah, that makes perfect sense.

Corn: There's are 2-3 farm stands on our route to the coast, and the sweet corn is at its prime.

Wolf: *chuckle* Oh, no, nobody like that at all...
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