Crossing Over

Content Warning: Death and Dying

Last week, a friend of mine crossed over, and I helped her do it.

A little over a year ago, Shelby had a headache that she couldn’t shake. She went to the doctor, and it turned out that her headache was due to a brain tumor. She had surgery, and they successfully removed the tumor. However, the tumor was near the part of the brain that controls anxiety, and hers became very difficult to control.

Her husband, Jon, and her best friend, Lisa, were incredibly supportive, doing everything they could to help her heal. In spite of that, eight months ago, she was hospitalized.

Unfortunately, because of my schedule, and living in a different community, I was not able to visit her very often. Between my few visits, and through updates from Lisa, I witnessed her slow deterioration.

And then, just over a week ago, the update came that if we wanted to visit Shelby, we needed to do it soon, because her time was almost up. I stopped by to see her on my way home from my girls weekend. I don’t know how long I sat with her. Not long enough. I talked to her quietly while she slept, gave her Reiki, and prayed to Goddess that if it was her time to pass, that she do it with peace and ease. And if it was not her time, that Goddess would kindle within her the will to live.

I planned to go back on Friday, because I had classes all week, and my son’s band concert. Thursday the word came from Lisa that Shelby might not make it to Friday. So after my class, I headed out, not sure when, or if, I would be home.

There was quite a crew in Shelby’s room when I arrived; Jon, and Lisa, and another friend of Shelby’s, Debbie. Her sister, Nikki, also came by. We talked, and laughed, and shared stories and favorite (and sometimes irreverent) memories of Shelby. The Gayatri Mantra played on repeat in the background.

During this time, Shelby’s breathing was labored, gasping and with long pauses. She was not conscious, though I swear she reacted to some of the stories. I sat near her and gave her Reiki, and I could feel her discomfort from the pain, and fear, both of the pain and of dying. There was too much activity in the room for her to really be peaceful.

Eventually, almost everyone went home to get some rest. Lisa stayed, planning to spend the night in the hospital room with her, and I stayed to minister.

I talked to her, held her hand, and stroked her forehead. Lisa sat with her, also maintaining contact with her. She shared with me that the Goddess Shelby felt most connected with was Diana, so I called on Diana to be present, as well as Hekate in her role as psychopomp to help guide Shelby’s passing. I could feel that she was ready to go, and also afraid. And I could feel the presence of her mother and father, watching and waiting to welcome her.

Lisa told me that Shelby really enjoyed my healing waterfall guided meditation. I had given it to her when I first learned that she was unwell. So I played that for her. During the meditation, Shelby started to relax, and began to release her bonds with her body. It was gradual, and tentative. Her breathing became less labored, though there were still long pauses. The tension in the room, and in her body, began to ease.

Though I didn’t speak out loud, I felt connected with her, and we were definitely communicating. I encouraged her through the whole process. At the end of the healing waterfall meditation, I sensed her confusion, because it talked about rejoining spirit and body, and she had already begun leaving. I reminded her that it was okay.

Then I played A Walk with Artemis Guided Meditation, since Diana was her Goddess. Her spirit began releasing even more, once again in cautious stages. Shelby became very relaxed, all sense of fear and anxiety and tension disappeared. By the point in the meditation where you spend time in the pool with Artemis and the nymphs, her spirit was free. The sense of joy was euphoric!

We waited a bit before calling the nurse, to make sure she had actually passed. We didn’t want to jar her out of her peaceful state. And we kept thinking we saw or felt breath. Finally, I read a prayer from A Book of Pagan Prayer by Ceisiwr Serith:

Old Man, ferry this one across safely, bringing her swiftly and without detour to the other side of the great sea.

Pole your boat here to this place and perform your duty.

Her fare is paid, her place secured, so take her aboard and carry her away, over the sea, following the setting Sun, to the landing place before the great city where the Lord of Death rules.

Bring this one before he  who sits on his throne.

Make her name known to the ruler there.

Make smooth the way, open the doors, clear the path, unlock the gates.

Gerontos, this one is starting on a great journey.

Stand by her until she is safely home!

It was an incredibly powerful, beautiful, peaceful and loving moment. She was supported by her best friend, and… me. I am so grateful and honoured to have been there, to have been able to give her one last gift. My eyes are tearing up just thinking about it, not with sadness though, with overwhelming gratitude and the beauty of that moment.

I’ve been thinking about her, and that night, all weekend. There’s a part of me that cannot believe what I experienced. That’s the stuff of fantasy and science fiction, right? And another part of me feels I’ve uncovered a gift I didn’t know I had. I keep coming back to gratitude. I’m sad to have lost a friend. I have wonderful memories with her to smile about. I’m glad that we were friends. I’m thankful that Lisa was able to be with her, and keep me updated. I’m grateful she found the peace she wanted in her passing.

Blessings,

Mary

PS. There is a fundraiser for Shelby’s family. She is survived by her husband and three children, ages 9, 11, and 18, and all funds raised will go to support them.

Girls Weekend!

I don’t often take a trip just for pleasure. I travel often for festivals, and rehearsals, and sometimes for work. Seldom for pleasure though.

Girls Weekend!This past weekend, the friend that I stayed with in Schenectady came to Victoria (Sophia). She was visiting another friend of hers in Seattle (Tara), and they planned a quick trip up to the Island. So I went down with another friend of mine (Dawne), and we met yet another friend (Bonnie) down there to spend the weekend together.

I got up early Saturday morning, and met Dawne at her home. We then drove the almost 4 hours to Victoria. We found a place to park near the hostel we were staying at, and then made our way to the inner harbor to meet up with everyone else for lunch and to plan what we wanted to do.

The one thing on my agenda for the weekend was to go to the Royal BC Museum’s Egypt exhibit. Other than that, I was open, and I wasn’t fussy about when we went there. Since several of us are theatre folk, we wanted to see what was on. Big city like Victoria, there had to be SOMETHING playing, right? After unanimously passing on the dance recital, we found something called Atomic Vaudeville Cabaret. We had no real idea what it was, but it sounded interesting!

We were going to head out to Butchart Gardens, however, we ended up shopping most of the afternoon on Saturday (um, I didn’t know Fluevog’s came in size 12 – that is really dangerous!). There are a lot of cool stores in downtown Victoria! By dinnertime, though, I was hurting from all the walking. I even wore my runners with my orthotics and the socks that help stability and balance and reduce pain. We went to dinner, and then to the show.

The show was amazing! Funny and weird, and we laughed a lot! Then back to the hostel, and some tarot card readings before bed.

Sunday morning I was still hurting a bit. Sophia and Tara wanted to go on the tour of the Parliament buildings, so Dawne and I hung out for a while. Bonnie met us after brunch, and we went to the museum. If you have an opportunity, go check out the Egypt exhibit. Lots of wonderful information, and beautiful pieces.

Even though I didn’t get a ton of sleep, it was so wonderful to spend a relaxing (emotionally, anyway, if not physically) relaxing weekend being a tourist with some wonderful women. It was so rejuvenating (yes, the retail therapy probably helped a bit!). Thank you, ladies!

Blessings,

Mary

Lakshmi: Goddess of Abundance

As I’ve been contemplating which Goddess I would like to work with next, one has been right in front of me, and making herself known more and more. She’s been with me for quite a while. I’m not quite sure why I didn’t think of working with her more closely.

Lakshmi is the Hindu goddess of abundance and prosperity. I’ve had an image of her on my wall ever since a good friend of mine gave it to me many years ago (thank you, Harmony!). She has quietly looked over my home, her gentle presence smiling at me and my family.

I have said her mantra often over the years, opening myself up to her abundance. The mantra is Om Gum Shreem Lakshmi Yei Namaha. I even made a mala for myself to connect with that energy. Recently, I picked up a small statue of Lakshmi that I set up when I am at markets. I even wrote a meditation about her that I will be posting soon!

With all of that, I actually know very little about Lakshmi. For research, it is important to me to look at Hindu sources (or websites that draw from Hindu sources). If I’m going to build a relationship with this Goddess, I don’t want to white wash Her.

I know she is a consort of Vishnu, and another name for her is Shri (or Sri). She is considered by some to be an aspect of the great mother goddess, along with Saraswati and Kali or Durga. She is honored especially at Diwali.

This only scratches the surface. I am honestly going to have to do more research, and spend time connecting with her. So that is the task I set for myself – to get to know her, her likes and dislikes, and what offerings she prefers. I’ll let you know what I learn.

Blessings,

Mary

Jet Lag!

I’m tired. So very tired!

I have to admit, I’m a little bit crazy. I had a wonderful time in New York. It was a dream meeting my favorite comic book artist, and I got to spend the week learning and sharing about the software I use for work. I also was able to see a production of The King and I at Proctors Theatre!

I stayed with a wonderful friend that I met last year. She was a wonderful hostess, and we stayed up late in to the nights talking and socializing. The down side was that I didn’t get much sleep!

I was planning to meet up with some friends at the end of my trip, and hoping to catch a show on Broadway. Unfortunately, neither of those actually happened, for one reason or another. I did walk around Times Square late at night, amazed at how many people were out, and how busy the retail shops all were.

I didn’t get to go on a tour of the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island. I tried to sleep in, except housekeeping woke me up. I tried to go back to sleep, and failed. I DID go to Liberty Park and see Lady Liberty from as close as I could get on land. She was amazingly inspiring! I honestly did not expect the emotional response I had to seeing her.

I got home very late on Friday night, after a very long day of travel. And I was silly enough to get up early for a Spirit Fair on the weekend! In hindsight, I’m really not sure what I was thinking. I’m still feeling tired today, and I’ve got a very full week ahead of me.

Maybe I’ll get to sleep in on Saturday? ZZZZzzzz

Blessings,

Mary

Fan Girl Moment

This week am at a conference on the East Coast, in upstate New York. It’s a conference for work, and I went to it last year as well. I met some lovely people, and I’m excited to be back.

I booked my flights months ago. The plan was to arrive on Sunday, because the conference started on Monday, and the transit from west coast to east coast is not a short trip. Back in February, the airline cancelled the flight I had booked, and I had to re-book a different flight. My only option for a Sunday arrival was an overnight flight, which got me in at 6 am.

As the trip got closer, I started thinking about what I could do with the extra day (knowing that I was going to be arriving somewhat sleep deprived). I figured I could do a little sight-seeing in New York City before driving upstate.

Me with Wendy and Richard PiniOn Friday, I saw a post from the author of the one comic book that I have followed (admittedly on and off) since I was quite young – Richard Pini of ElfQuest. He posted that they were all set up at the Comic Con they were at for the weekend.

It got me thinking about how much I would like to see them some day. They’ve been out to Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle in the past, and I was even IN Seattle the weekend of Emerald City when they were there, but I had another commitment, and I was not the one driving.

I started poking around on their website, looking at upcoming appearances. My brain didn’t register at first where this Comic Con was. It was in New Jersey. Actually, just outside NYC. Then I thought it ended Saturday. Finally, I looked at the calendar and realized it was on until Sunday, and I was going to be arriving in NYC on Sunday!

I went to the website of the convention, and found they had Sunday-only tickets. Was it a good use of my resources, though? After much internal debate, I decided to go for it. I’ve wanted to meet them for so long, I would surely regret it if I didn’t take this opportunity.

After a long night of travel, and navigating through NYC (thank the Goddess for the GPS navigator on my phone!), I had a bit of a rest before the Comic Con opened.

Skywise by Wendy PiniI met Wendy and Richard Pini, creators of ElfQuest. I grabbed a few signed prints for my family. I got a book signed. And I totally splurged and bought a drawing that Wendy did, for me, right there at the Con. It was wonderful. I really wasn’t much interested in the rest of the Con, which was mostly a room of exhibitors. I stuck around for their panel, (in spite of the spoilers – I haven’t finished reading the Final Quest yet) and then headed north for the real purpose of my trip.

Wendy and Richard are lovely, down to earth people. I’m sure they must get tired of all the people at all the events they go to, and yet they take the time to connect with their fans. It was wonderful to interact with them, even just a little, and watch them interact with other fans. I’m so glad I went!

#FortyYearsofPointedEars

Blessings,

Mary

I’m Happy For You!

I’ve noticed an interesting shift in myself recently. I’m genuinely happy for other people’s successes. Not that I wasn’t happy for people in the past. It’s different now, though.

I'm so excited for you! Tell me all about itAlways in the past, whenever someone would share good news with me, I would express happiness. Inside, though, I would often feel jealousy. Not much, just a twinge. OK, sometimes a lot, depending on how big the news was. My happiness for others was tainted. Why wasn’t that, or similar, good fortune coming my way?

Lately, however, that twinge is gone. I honestly feel excited for others’ happiness. I want to see my friends joyful and successful!

Sure, there are still some things that I would like improved in my own life. There is always room for improvement. And I enjoy celebrating my own achievements.

Right now, though, I want to celebrate YOUR achievements! What is going well in your life? What’s new and exciting? Drop me a comment and let me celebrate you!

Blessings,

Mary

 

Leadership Can Be Lonely

You’ve heard the phrase, “It is lonely at the top”? I may not be at the top, however, I have had a taste of this loneliness from time to time.

When I first started running a Women’s Circle, it was more a group of friends getting together, and I was just the organizer, the party planner if you will. Most of the women who attended were my friends, or became my friends.

Through education and training, I became a teacher, and more and more a leader. It also began to separate me from my friends. I was driven. I knew what I wanted, and I devoted myself to my spiritual pursuits. That is, in addition to my family and a now full time job.

My increasingly busy schedule certainly didn’t help me remain as closely connected to my friends as I would like. Their lives shifted and changed as well, and many of them moved away. My Circle shifted and changed as well, and new friends came and went.

I started teaching at the Wiccan Seminary online, and taking more students in real life as well, teaching Wicca and Reiki. My new students didn’t know me as well, and by this time I had achieved some status in the ATC. I wasn’t one step ahead anymore. I was several. So I was put on a pedestal. Not by everyone, and not about everything. However, I have at least some of my personal sh!t sorted out, so I look pretty well put together.

Then, of course, there’s the rule of leaders not sharing problems down. There are not a lot of people that are willing to put in the work to progress. So the farther I go, the fewer people there are to connect with and talk to.

Thankfully, some of my students are able to clear the illusion that I am perfect (I can tell you I am DEFINITELY NOT perfect!), and treat me like a person. Yet I’m still separate. They can connect with each other in a way that I cannot, because I am the leader.

I was reminded of this at Spring Mysteries. I was so happy so many of my students were there, connecting with each other and bonding through this shared experience. Yet I was unable to spend much time with them, because I had other work to do. There we were, together yet separate.

It is definitely a case of “be careful what you wish for”. I wished to be a Priestess, a Healer and a Teacher. I just didn’t realize back then how lonely leadership could be.

I am grateful to every one of my students, online and in person. I am grateful for each of you who read my blog. And I am grateful for my teachers. I look forward to all the moments I get with each of you. Our connection is valuable to me.

Blessings,

Mary

Back to Mundane Life… Sort of

I’m finally back from Spring Mysteries Festival, and it’s taking me a while to recover. It’s always challenging returning to the mundane (“normal”) world after spending the better part of a week in magical space.

Persephone Returns HomeI think this was more challenging than in the past because I really pushed my limits this year. Besides being the Vessel of Persephone, I was also the ritual director for the event, and I was part of a couple of other rituals leading up to the main rituals on the weekend.

Leading up to Spring Mysteries, I had already drained my reserves pretty low. I’ve been working with my naturopath to figure out what has been causing fatigue, and we are finally getting closer. However, I’ve been dealing with fatigue for months, and keeping a very busy schedule in spite of the exhaustion. There was only one weekend I had off rehearsals since January, and that weekend was spent sewing costumes.

The week before I left for Mysteries, I stayed up late every night to get the final touches on my (and my husband’s) costumes finished, and packing everything we would need for our week plus trip. We arrived at the last rehearsal ready to drop.

I recovered a little during the couple of days between final rehearsal and the event itself. The cold I had been fighting off for weeks threatened to take me out, but I managed to ward it off, using every natural remedy I had on hand.

The event went BEAUTIFULLY! There were only a couple of minor hiccups that were barely noticeable. Many said the event was one of the best yet. My Circle mates made me proud with how much they helped with the clean up on the final day.

And then, I crashed. I was pushing through, because there was more to be done, when Bella came and took my hand, and told me to come with her. She made me rest, and took care of me, and so many people loved on me. It was absolutely, positively, exactly what I needed. I cried and cried and cried from the release. There wasn’t anything wrong, there just wasn’t anything LEFT.

Once home, I slept, and had a massage, and went to the chiropractor, and slept. I ended up taking an extra half day off work and slept. On the weekend (I had a weekend!) I slept until noon, or almost noon. I allowed myself to NOT get into any of the projects I’ve been putting off until after Mysteries. I read a book that had nothing to do with Greek mythology, or self help, or school (it was an autobiographic look at one woman’s family and their experiences with residential school in BC).

I’m back to work now, and teaching, and so many other things. The Goddesses are with me, behind the veil, though I can feel them and connect when I want. I can feel that my energy reserves are still low. I’m working to rebuild. We’ll see how long I can keep still the pace slow slower than it was.

Blessings,

Mary

The Countdown is on!

I can hardly believe it is almost Spring Mysteries (Happy Equinox, by the way). This coming weekend is the last rehearsal before we are on site for the Festival. Which means I have less than a week to finish my costumes, and my husband’s costumes, and a few other details.

persephone returns by madam monte cristo

persephone returns by madam monte cristo

I’m feeling the pressure! I’m tired (it’s been a really long run this year). I’m feeling cranky, because stress. I’m making good bad choices – I REALLY want junk food, because I tend to eat my stress – but instead of getting Cool Ranch Doritos, Dr. Pepper, and peanut M&Ms, which are all full of foods I am nit supposed to eat, I am getting salt & vinegar chips (the ones WITHOUT milk – and as an aside, who needs milk products in salt & vinegar chips???), and kombucha.

I wonder if Persephone feels like this every time she goes between Underworld and Earth?

You won’t hear from me now until the week after Spring Mysteries Festival. I’ll be up to my eyeballs in preparation, and then recovery. See you on the other side!

Blessings,

Mary