Sunday, October 31, 2010

Chapter 31 – Covenant of Aradia

The trees arrived on Wednesday, a literal truck load. There were 8 redbuds, 4 Japanese magnolias, 4 sizable pine trees: 2 long needle, 2 short, 4 swamp maples, a celeste fig, 5 sweet olives, and a new hybrid peach, There were 6 flats of creeping fig. And 30 bags of potting soil and 30 cubic feet of peat moss. The truck managed to get into Owen’s driveway and he had the delivery guys carry the trees to the back patio of the pool. It was quite a little forest Nola had planned for his backyard and he couldn’t wait for her to get here tomorrow to look over the trees.

Saturday was scheduled for tree planting and most of the crew that had been a part of the initial planting of the yard would be back. Maurice and his team of folks were coming to layout the basketball court. Joe and Larry would definitely be there. Owen was beginning to think that Joe had a crush on Nola, because he had asked twice this week if she would be there on Saturday.

“And what about you, son?”
“Papa Eric?”
“Of course.”
“What about you, do you have a crush on Nola?”
“You know I do, pop.” And he smiled and she can’t get here soon enough.

So of course he was waiting for her in the driveway.
“Hello Big Man… how much time do you spend out here? It seems I’m always catching you in the driveway.”
And he gave her a hug before he said, “I’ve been thinking about that grape arbor idea of yours and the more I think about it the more I like it. With everything else so… planted, this stretch of cement seems even more harsh. I’ve drawn up the plans and the next time I have a crew with nothing to do they'll build the arbor and then you can pick the grapes to grow on it.”
All she could do was smile.
“What no comment?”
“I don’t know what to say. I can’t believe that what we put on paper just a few weeks ago it becoming real. I usually have to wait, oh I don’t know, months, actually years for what I envision or ask for to happen.” And she thought about the fact that it was 3 years later and her husband had been essentially unemployed and she had done much of the painting and still the downstairs of her own home still wasn’t finished.

“If you think the idea of putting the grape arbor in is something, come and see what’s in the backyard.”
“The trees are here?!” and she dashed toward the pool only to be stopped by the new pool security gate. “You put the gate in!” she said surprised and pleased.
He smiled and thought, how strange to be so happy for trees delivered to someone else’s backyard. “Doesn’t anyone else listen to what you say? I’m beginning to think that I’m the only one.”
And Nola thought about that silently. Hmmm, No people generally listen to me, at work, when I speak at the neighborhood meetings or for the neighborhood. I guess it’s really just the fact that James is so much in his own mind that often he doesn’t seem to hear me or that even when he does his timeframe for responding is so much longer than… well than anyone else I’ve ever known.
“It’s locked like a good security gate should be.” He put his hand around her shoulder and guided her because she seemed lost in thought. “We can go through the kitchen.” And he opened the side door for her to go in. And she moved quickly to the back door and smiled at him as she went out because she knew she was rushing ahead without him but she couldn’t stop herself. He just smiled at her.

She was on the far pool patio where the trees had been lined up. When he reached her she had her eyes closed lost in the unique scent of the sweet olives. When she opened her eyes and realized he was standing there she gave him a huge hug, and said “They’re perfect.” And he kissed her because he couldn’t resist her or her enthusiasm. And the kiss sobered her a little, which wasn’t what he had expected it to do.

She was thinking that the natural physicality they shared with each other was so unlike what she was experiencing at home these days and it might be good to limit it. He released her and she wandered from tree to tree. “Oh the pines are so much more mature then I imagined you could get, wonderful. … And these little swamp maples will fill out fast. … So we really are planting this weekend?”
And he smiled at that, “Yes, we are. I take it the ‘we’ means you’re going to be here.”
“Of course I wouldn’t miss it. What time are you starting?”
“Oh the guys are used to starting early so 8:30 gives them time to sleep in on Saturday. Maurice is coming to put in your basketball court.”
“My basketball court?”
“Well it was your idea.”
And she shrugged, I guess it was. “I have time to set the trees out tonight... and she began to move the pots around, “that will make it easier on Saturday.”
“Nola, no.”
And she looked up at him like she had been scolded.
When he saw that he softened and said, “The guys will be here on Saturday. You can point, they can lift.”
“But I’d like to see them placed and then make adjustments and I don’t want your crew waiting on me.”
“From what I can tell they’re going to love waiting on you, hand and foot.” And he hooked her arm and moved her toward the house. “Bring your suit and we’ll all swim when the planting is done. It’ll be fun.”
And she sighed and said, “OK, it’s your house. It’s your crew.” And then she said, “Ok boss, we’ll do it your way.”
“Ok boss. I like that sound of that.” And she shook her head at him but was smiling.

He opened the wine once he got her back inside and he could see she was lost in thought and wondered what was going on in that busy brain of hers.
He handed her a glass and waited. She absentmindedly swirled and sniffed and then she took a sip and looked up, “Chardonnay? Wow it’s hard to find a good Chardonnay they all start off ok and then either end up bland or sharp. What is this?”
And he thought, ‘There she is.’ and moved to the barstool next to her and handed her the bottle.
“Chateau St Michelle” and she nodded “Columbia Valley”. And she took another sip. “hmmm, Buttery. I love a buttery Chardonnay. I had actually stopped drinking Chardonnay because it seemed ‘crisp’ was in and I missed the smooth, soft, buttery base with the mix of lush flavors on top.” And another little sip, eyes closed. And he smiled because he could feel the kiss coming before she even knew she was doing it. “Thank you Owen, it’s a delicious treat.” And pulled her in closer and said, “OK I’ll have to see what I can do about finding some more buttery Chardonnays.”

And she realized that she had done exactly the opposite of limiting physicality. What the hell is wrong with me? Owen, seeing her move back into her own thoughts, wondered what was wrong but then she smiled at him. And he relaxed and grabbed the bottle and said, “Let’s move into the library. All the books you have me reading are there. You can decide which one we’re going to talk about tonight.”

And she just nodded and followed him to the kitchen doorway where he motioned for her to go ahead of him into the library. He smiled as she settled into the same spot on the sofa she did whenever they were in the library. Once he got settled she said, “I thought that we could talk about the Covenant of Aradia. In addition to the Words this is kind of the moral code of Streghe.”
He nodded and reached for the manual and flipped to the page with the Covenant and smiled at her.
“Trying to impress your teacher?”
And he grinned knowing it was working, “Shall I?”
And she waved her hand in invitation to do just that. He read:
“Observe the times of the sacred gatherings, for therein is the foundation of the powers of Stregheria.”
He followed up with, “This is why you’ve focused on the rituals and the mythos. Isn’t it?”
She nodded, “The rituals are the core. We have history and research and science and the web of life to reinforce the layers of knowledge that are in the rituals. But the rituals and associated mythos are where the heart of the path is found. They are where the lessons of the past are encapsulated. They are critical. But I also believe that walking this path requires the personal experience that the rituals can provide. It can’t just all be in your head.”

“Makes perfect sense.” And he kept reading, “When good is done to you, then do good to another. If someone wishes to repay you for a kindness, then bind them to go out of their way to help three others, then this shall clear the debt.”
She said, “It’s a bit like the golden rule and pay it forward wrapped together. Be grateful when good is done to you such that you reach out to do go to another. But when you do, don’t take payment in return for kindness, but encourage kindness and generosity in others. Spread the wealth, spread the positive energy.”
And Owen said, “Too much of what goes on today is about all about monetary payment. I know that folks need money to provide for their families but it is soul sealing when that is all it’s about. When we work on people’s houses we try to give the best product for the best price that can also provide for the people doing the work. But it is so rewarding when we can help people who couldn’t do it with out a little generosity.” And he thought about how he had never really been happy until he was able to run his own business, his own way. He knew he was lucky because he had an untouched fortune should anything go wrong. But so far generosity had been its own reward. The value that his company provided meant word of mouth was keeping his crews busy and his clients were spread across the spectrum from people who had plenty to people who needed his help. It was good to be able to balance the books in his own way.
She watched him think. He seemed satisfied somehow. As if how he managed his business aligned with this particular part of the Covenant. There was no doubting that he was doing fine and he seemed to care about his crews and they seemed to like and respect him. His work was fixing peoples homes and their lives in her recovering city and he seemed to like it and be very good at it.

He looked up and smiled at her and raised the book and she nodded to continue.
“Do not use the arts of Stregheria to appear powerful among others. Do not lower the standards of the Art and thereby bring contempt upon the Old ways.”
“When I think about Aradia and the peasants she aligned herself with it’s reasonable that one upmanship would be frowned upon. But there’s a flip side to this. Do not lower the standards. Do what you do well and precisely and with honor. It’s about the balance.”

He nodded and kept reading,
“Do not take the life of anything unless it is to preserve life, yours or another's.”
“This is a much more complex a set of instructions than Do not kill. Or even the alternate translation, Do not murder. 'Do not take the life of anything'.” And she paused for effect. “Anything.” Another slight pause. “Think about that and define for yourself: anything. It could be stretched into a generic Hippocratic-like, First do no harm. But then it is modified with, 'unless it is to preserve life', which I take to mean you can kill to eat or to prevent yourself from being eaten” she smiled “or harmed by another. But it’s about a little more than just protecting yourself. There is an assumption in there that we take care of each other, that you can take life to preserve another’s life.”
And he was thinking and said out loud, “Anything… hmmm, I’m glad Streghe aren’t like the Jainists of India.”
And she smiled again with how well read and aware he was, “Well we aren’t Jainists but when you combine this with Nature is the Great Teacher it makes sense to live as lightly on the earth as we can. We could live more lightly on the earth than we do as moderns. We’d have to give up much of what we know, the internet, computers, cell phones, air conditioning, plane travel, our cars, the list goes on. I’m not ready to go off and live in the woods just yet. I haven’t found the right people to do it with and my daughter likes her life as a modern. But no lawnmower landscaping and recycling and living in an old house and not buying stuff just to have the latest stuff are all a part of how I try to be aligned with the 'don’t take life' philosophy. We moderns don’t realize that when we use a resource it’s a resource that is then unavailable to the rest of life on the planet. We could use our resources more effectively and by doing that live more lightly on the earth.”
“Does your head ever hurt with all those interwoven thoughts bouncing around in it.”
She laughed lightly, “No, not usually. My point was everyone needs to find their own balance and as your teacher I’m just encouraging you to think about it.”
“Ok Chief.” And as he did he thought about how he could incorporate more green insulation and solar into his business. New Orleans wouldn’t always be in recovery mode.
And she smiled at his use of her grandfather’s term and waited as he thought, then asked, “What are you thinking about?”
“My business.”
And she looked a bit confused. So he said, “You’ve made me think about how I can adjust my business plan so that we can do more green insulation and solar. I’ve dabbled in Solar. I’ve been thinking installing solar panels for the garage. I’ll have to do some research and probably take some training but it shouldn’t be hard. My business could help others to live more lightly on the earth.”
And she smiled at him and then asked teasingly, “Does your head ever hurt with all those interwoven thoughts bouncing around in it?”

He laughed and continued reading,
“Do not give your word of honour lightly, for you are bound by your words and by your oaths.”
"This is directly related to the 'thoughts are things' concept. If our thoughts are things how much more powerful are our words?" and she paused for effect. And she could see he hadn't thought about it quite like that before. "We Streghe keep our promises, so many in the world do not. One of the things I learned as a supervisor, in a large corporation responsible for customer service of various technical specialties over the years, was never promise what you know you can not deliver. Be as specific as possible in what you say you will do or try to do and then followup. Do what you say you will do. This has been reinforced as a parent. As parenting advice I say, 'Never do once that which you are not willing to do repeatedly'. That first yes is treated like a promise or oath by children."
He said, "I'm beginning to see what you mean when you say the Covenant is like a code of ethics or morals."

And he continued reading,
"Do not accept any authority over you unless it is of the Gods. Instead, cooperate with others but do not be a slave and always preserve your honour. Give respect to others and expect respect in return."
"The concept of freedom from oppression, from slavery of the body, mind or spirit, freedom to do as you see fit as an honorable person is a large part of what it means to be Streghe. But again there is always the balance, cooperate with others. Give respect first and expect respect in return. This is so much more robust in its approach than 'Render unto Ceasar'."

And he smiled at the biblical reference and kept reading.
"Teach all who appear worthy and aid the continuance of the Old Religion."
"So I have to assume that I am worthy." He said with a grin.
"Yes, you are worthy and I hope that what we do aids in the continuance of the Old Ways. Many students get hung up on worthy. Who decides what constitutes worthy? What if the student is sure that they are worthy and the teacher is hesitant or unsure about taking the next step? The teacher gets the last word. But the teacher bound to aid in the continuance of the Old Ways so students to seek generally get taught. But this is one of the reasons why it's important for the student to have questions, to think about the lessons, to work what is taught into their own lives. This is how the teacher determines worth." And he thought well that was a much more serious response than I expected.

And he paused then kept reading.
"Do not belittle another's religious beliefs, but simply state your own truths. Strive to be at peace with those who differ."
"This is essentially what you said to me on that first plane ride. Isn't it?"
She nodded and he said, "You speak your own truths. You don't label these truths. You don't insist that other people see the world through your filters. You live and let them live with their assumptions. You cooperate with others."
And she said, "Yes and my life is generally peaceful as a result. Aradia has Words on Christianity that give more specific guidance on how to deal with Christians. But the Covenant is the more generic approach to dealing with those whose beliefs are different from yours or mine. We can talk about the Words on Christianity another night."

He nodded and continued:
"Do not purposely cause harm to another, unless it is to prevent true harm to yourself or another."
And he said, "So we don't take life and we do not purposely cause harm. I see how this could expand the definition of "anything" in the ‘don't take life’ statement."
And she smiled and nodded, "Yes there is that aspect. But we Streghe know that thoughts are things and our words have power and we can influence the world magically as well. So don't do harm takes on an even broader context than just don't hurt people physically or don't hurt their feelings. Yet even with this statement, Streghe do not hesitate to use any means necessary, up to and including magic, to prevent harm to themselves or their loved ones or the things they value."
And he said, "Tough witches."
And she smiled, "When necessary."

And he nodded and read,
"Strive to be compassionate to others, and to be aware of the hearts and minds of those around you."
and said, "And this is the softer side."
"Well yes. But it's not just the softer side, it's the whole picture. Hearts and minds. Mind, Body, Spirit: the 3 levels of how we humans can be affected. We are told to take into account the whole picture, to be aware. And there is that charge for compassion, for cooperation, for honor, for respect."

And he read,
"Be true to your own understanding and turn away from those things which oppose the good in you, or are harmful to you. Hold reverence to all within Nature. Destroy nothing, scar nothing, waste nothing, live in harmony with Nature, for the ways of Nature are our own ways."
And then said, "To your own self be true."
And she smiled and said, "Yes. It also refers back to Aradia Words on Nature and the Earth. It refers back to don't take life unnecessarily, don't purposely do harm. But this is also why it's so important to be still and listen. How can you know what opposes the good in your or is harmful to you if you don't think about it? As Streghe we must choose for ourselves. The Ways are available to us. We choose the path we walk."
And he thought, Yes we do. And, my she is serious tonight.

The he finished reading with,
"Remain open in your heart and in your mind to the Great Ones who created all that is, and to your brothers and sisters alike."
And said, "Be still and listen."
And she said, "By George I think he's got it."

The finished the wine while they talked about personal philosophies. But Nola managed to leave early and Owen didn't push her because he knew she'd be back on Saturday. And because she had been so serious, he found himself thinking more seriously about his ethics and personal life philosophy than he had in a long time. And as he did he realized that while he had come to New Orleans in a mad rush, the things he had done since arriving we exactly in line with Streghe philosophy.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Now that's Scary!!!!!

Take a close look... especially all you folks who live where it is cool....
There is mold... black mold in the eyes and white fuzzy mold in the mouth.
The pumpkin was carved only 2 days ago and was inside the whole time...
I took its picture and then tossed over the side into the trash can.

Now that's Scary

Friday, October 22, 2010

Charge of Aradia

Whenever you have need of anything, once in the month when the Moon is full, then shall you come together at some deserted place, or where there are woods, and give worship to She who is Queen of all Witches. Come all together inside a circle, and secrets that are yet unknown shall be revealed. 

And your mind must be free and also your spirit, and as a sign that you are truly free, you shall be naked in your rites. And you shall rejoice, and sing; making music and love. For this is the essence of spirit, and the knowledge of joy. 

Be true to your own beliefs, and keep to the Ways, beyond all obstacles. For ours is the key to the mysteries and the cycle of rebirth, which opens the way to the Womb of Enlightenment. 

I am the spirit of witches all, and this is joy and peace and harmony. In life does the Queen of all witches reveal the knowledge of Spirit. And from death does the Queen deliver you to peace and renewal. 

When I shall have departed from this world, in memory of me make cakes of grain, wine and honey. These shall you shape like the Moon, and then partake of wine and cakes, all in my memory. For I have been sent to you by the Spirits of Old, and I have come that you might be delivered from all slavery. I am the daughter of the Sun and Moon, and even though I have been born into this world, my Race is of the Stars. 

Give offerings all to She who is our Mother. For She is the beauty of the Greenwood, and the light of the Moon among the Stars, and the mystery which gives life, and always calls us to come together in Her name. Let Her worship be the ways within your heart, for all acts of love and pleasure gain favour with the Goddess.

But to all who seek Her, know that your seeking and desire will reward you not, until you realize the secret. Because if that which you seek is not found within your inner self, you will never find it from without. For she has been with you since you entered into the ways, and she is that which awaits at your journey's end.

Chapter 30 – Owen’s Magic

Owen woke up early; partly because, despite the fact that he had essentially been outside of time last night, he had gone to bed relatively early and partly because he had not pulled the room darkening curtains closed. He lay in the bed looking at the ceiling and came fully awake as he warmly remembered the night before. And then he closed his eyes and was miserable. He had never wanted a woman to stay with him the way he wanted Nola to stay. The sex had been amazing and he closed his eyes remembering again. The he heard Papa Eric say, “But it’s about more than the sex.”
“Yes” he said out loud. And he thought, I don’t want her to have to leave. I want her right here in my bed. I want to see her wake up and smile at me. I want to make love to her right here."
And Papa Eric, in that enigmatic voice Owen remembered him using when the answer was right in front of his face but he couldn’t see it, said. “I know.”
Owen threw of the covers in frustration and marched to the bathroom and let the shower beat on him. As he came down the stairs he saw the altar was still set up. He sighed and turned into the kitchen thinking, Coffee first. Then I’ll have to pick that up before Latasha sees it and either calls me a crazy white man or runs screaming from the house or both.

He poured the coffee into the cup added a hit of cream and went into the living room. After he packed up the altar trappings he was left with the 2 pouches on their cords.

Bellaria whispered, “Remember the lesson.” He looked at them. 2 pouches. One with soil. One with seeds. They belonged together.
And without thinking he opened both pouches and mixed the seed with the soil in one and the soil to the seeds in the other and retied them.
Papa Eric asked, “What do you want?”
And still looking at the pouches, Owen said out loud, “I don’t want her to have to leave. I want her right here in my bed where I can make love to her. I want to see her wake up and smile at me.” And then he stood up with the pouches in his hand and walked to the mantle and said to Papa Eric, “I don’t want her to have to leave. I want her right here in my bed where I can make love to her. I want to see her wake up and smile at me.” Owen looked down at the pouches thinking. Where can I put these without their being seen and questioned? And then he walked through the kitchen out the back door got a shovel from the garage and walked to the new redbud garden on the side of the house, found the tree closest to each of his bedroom windows and hung one pouch in the branches of one and buried the other pouch in the ground next to the other. And he said one more time to the Universe, “I don’t want her to have to leave. I want her right there in my bed where I can make love to her. I want to see her wake up and smile at me.”

Tago, Bellaria, Settrano and Meana had no doubt the universe would respond to his magic.

It was Thursday morning. Owen was on the back deck of the Lakefront job site with Roger. Things were going well there but Roger could tell that Owen was anxious.
“What’s wrong man? It looks like you are trying to figure something out.” And Owen thought, I am. I’m trying to figure out how, after last week, that woman could just disappear and assume that waiting until this Thursday wasn’t going to make me insane! If Meana hadn’t kept him calm he would have probably done something rash. Settrano had not been allowed near Owen all week, for fear his natural energy and exuberance would tip the balance in the wrong direction. Papa Eric had been allowed only to calm Owen in his sleep by repeating nightly “Every thing will work out.”
And Roger waved his hand back to the house, “Do you see something here I don’t see?” All the while thinking that probably wasn’t it because Owen had had a less severe but very similar look on his face all week.
“No. Everything here is fine.”
“Ok….. then, one of the other job sites bothering you?”
“No.”
“Jezz Owen, then what the hell is the matter with you?! You are freaking the guys out. They think you’re worried about something, that business is down, that there aren’t anymore jobs, that something’s not right. Hell I’m beginning to think that something is up too.”
And Owen looked at him and laughed, “There is nothing wrong with the business. We picked up 2 new jobs on Tuesday. I’m scoping them out and drawing up the plans now. There’s plenty of work in the pipeline.”
“Then as your friend I ask again, What the hell is wrong with you!” Then he paused and said knowingly. “Oh……, Nola.” And he saw his friend’s shoulders slump and knew that look from personal experience. “Damn man, I’m sorry.”
Owen looked up, “It’s not what you think.”
And Roger said in a knowing definitive voice, “She broke up with you. You’re miserable.”
“No, I’m seeing her again tonight.” And mentally added, I think. Because she hasn’t contacted me and I haven’t contacted her. But she better pull into the driveway tonight no later than 8PM.
“Oh.” Roger was surprised and a little confused because he was pretty sure his friend was hooked. He could always tell when Owen had seen Nola because Owen seemed happier and more content with everything. “You’re not… breaking up with her?”
“Hell No.”
“OK…..” And he paused before he asked, “Do I want to know?”
“It’s complicated man. But” and he looked up at the sky and said, “things will work out.”
Roger laughed and said, “Women.” and clapped Owen on the back. “Stay strong man.”
And Owen laughed back and lightened up. “OK, I need to get home to finish up those plans. I’m meeting with the new clients tomorrow to review them.” He waved to the work crew as he walked back through the house and said, “Great job guys. Have a good weekend.”

The guys closest to the back deck had been in listening in on the conversation and the other guys were leaning in not quite able to hear and they had just been able to resume work-like positions as Owen had walked through. But even if they hadn’t Owen wouldn’t have noticed.
Roger stayed on the back deck until he heard Owen’s engine start. Then he walked into the kitchen where the guys had assembled. “You heard that right?” From the back Louis said, “Not all of us. Not everything.”
“There’s no problem with work flowing in. Owen’s got woman trouble.”
Joe said, “What he do to get in trouble with Nola?”
Roger said, “I don’t think he did anything to get in trouble. I just think our buddy Owen has it bad and can’t figure out what to do next.”
Maurice chuckled and said, “I told you she was exactly Owen’s type.”
And the guys laughed and the tension broke and they went back to work.

Nola was driving to Owen’s. She had intentionally not contacted him because she felt the intensity of the ritual should wear off a little. But, thinking they might need a little extra time for tonight’s lesson, she had told James that she had to work late and would be going straight to Owen’s from work and not to wait dinner. It was right at 6PM when she pulled into Owen’s driveway.
Owen had been in his office working, then pacing, then working, all day.
Meana was working overtime to keep him calm. He was in his office and didn’t hear the driveway gate. Nola sat in the driveway a minute and breathed deeply before she opened the door, waited a second and then closed her eyes, breathed again, opened them and rang the bell. There was no putting this off. She had to see how he was doing. Owen heard the bell and looked at the clock on the window sill. He shot up and strode to the door and pulled it open and there she was. Now what?
He stood there and she stood there.
Nola finally said, “Should I come in or go?”
And he took her hand as he said, “Get in here woman.” and turned to walk with her back to the kitchen. He started to get wine glasses down and Nola said, “Could I have some San Pellegrino water instead of wine?” Owen shook his head yes and Nola sat on the barstool knowing the energy level was high and tense.
He took a beer from the fridge and poured it into a glass and then got her water ready. He handed her the glass and grabbed the barstool rolled it around to her until her barstool was between him and the counter and sat down. Then he said, “You want to explain to me why you just walked out? and why I haven’t heard a peep from you until you are standing on my doorstep?”
And she answered honestly, “I thought it was best.”
And he nodded and then shook his head in exasperation, “YOU thought it was best.”
And she said quietly, “Yes.”
“Why? Why was it best?”
“I thought it best to let the ritual link between us dissipate a bit before I came back.”
He looked as if that wasn’t a bad answer but that he was still so much less than satisfied.
So she continued with, “Rituals open us up to the universe and sometimes we need time to absorb the lessons the universe gives back to us.”
“So, have you absorbed your lessons?” he said not quite sharply.
And she answered honestly again, “I think… I’m still processing them, actually.”
That wasn’t what he was expecting to hear so he said, “Really?” and she felt the energy level in the room lighten just a bit. And she said calmly and truthfully, “Yes, really.”
What he said was, “Good. Keep processing them.” And then he kissed her.
And Nola felt the link and didn’t think it had dissipated at all. And while part of her enjoyed the kiss another part of her was thinking, Oh my, what do I do now?
When they stopped kissing Nola put her hand on his chest and tried to get up off of the barstool. As she did Owen pulled her closer and said, “No.” and kissed her again before he said, “you aren’t getting up until you tell me where you’re going.”
She sighed and said, “I thought that it might be better if we moved to the library.”
At that he relaxed a little and said, “Ok.” And they made their way to the library. Nola first. Owen following. Nola walked to the French doors and Owen sat on the sofa. Now that she was here Owen’s intensity was dissipating. Tago was worried that Nola’s anxiety was increasing proportionally. He nodded to Bellaria. Then Nola said as she looked out the window to the garden, “I brought the seeds we blessed last week. I’ve planted some in my garden. I’d like to plant the rest here at your house. Is that OK?”
And Owen acknowledged that he might have been just a bit too short with her so he got up and walked to her and said calmly, “I’d like that.” She smiled at him and they walked back to the kitchen to get the seeds from her purse and then out the back door. Owen watched as Nola untied each of the 4 bags. Handing him 3 and taking the other she walked to the large open empty side garden and spread the first batch of seeds right on top of the mulch. Then she switched bags and spread some more in front of those and switched bags again working her way to the front edge and switched on last time. Owen looked at the labels and read them but really didn’t know what the flowers would look like, except for the Black Eyed Susans. She was brushing her hands off and walking to the front yard.
“What? That’s it? The seeds are planted?”
She smiled at him and said, “Well, sown really, not planted. But yes, that’s it. All the hard work was done weeks ago.” She grabbed the bag of Yellow Cosmos seeds and sprinkled them on the right side of the driveway and then handed him that bag and took the bag of Black Eyed Susan seeds and sprinkled closer to the edge on the right side of the driveway. She switched bags with him again this time taking the Chinese Forget me not bag and sprinkling those seeds in the garden nearest the doorway and in front of each of the citrus trees on both sides of the walkway. They had reached the area where the fountain would be and she asked, “When does the fountain go in?”
“Next week. The parts to make it drip down the wall and the pumps for the basins are supposed to be delivered tomorrow.” She smiled at him and grabbed the bag of Black Eyed Susans and moved into the garden and sprinkled those seeds between the house and the pathway. They were back at the driveway and she switched bags with him again this time taking the Zinna bag and she sprinkled those down into the garden closest to the street as she walked back toward the fountain. She switched back to the Cosmos and put some between each Satsuma tree and the gardenias and they were back at the driveway and she was brushing off her hands.
“That’s it? You just planted a flower garden and that’s it?”
She smiled and said, “That’s it. Nature will have to take care of the rest. And I think that Nature has every reason to be on our side” and she leaned into him gave him a sweet simple kiss on the cheek as she took the bags from his hands and, “Don’t you?”
“Hmmmm,” He said thoughtfully, “I guess so.”

She walked toward the front door with the bags in her arms and he opened it and they walked back to the kitchen. Nola tied up what seeds were left in the bags and grabbed her water and said, “Back to the library?”
Owen nodded and waved his hand for her to go first. This time she sat on the sofa and Owen sat next to her. As he did she put her water glass down on the long narrow table he had behind the sofa and leaned into him, “Owen I’m sorry.” And his arm went around her and he put his glass down so he could use both arms.
Well that was unexpected. “You’re sorry? For what exactly?”
“For rushing you. Perhaps we weren’t ready to take such a big step.”
And Owen thought, Wrong. But said, “Oh no, we were ready.”
“Yes but I felt the energy level when I first got here. I know it was an intense experience for me and I’m pretty sure that it was an intense experience for you.”
“I’d say that’s fair.”
“So, I’m sorry, if it was unsettling.”
And he thought, unsettling. Maybe, it was but... “Nola, do you think we did anything wrong?”
She thought about that. She had actually thought about that a lot. And she answered truthfully as she relaxed into his arms “No. I don’t.”
“Then don’t apologize. We did exactly what we’ve been studying to do. And I’d say we did it pretty well.” And at that they both laughed.
And Tago nodded that Settrano could return.

They sat quietly on the sofa, Owen content to hold her and Nola realizing that she was more relaxed than she’d been all week. Then she wondered. “Owen when you cleaned up the altar, what did you do with the pouches?”
Bellaria brushed his mind, “Just the facts.”
“I hung one on a one of the new redbud trees in the side garden and buried the other under another redbud.”
And still leaning contently against him she said, “Hmmmm, Perfect.”
And Owen smiled. And so did Papa Eric.

“Nola?”
“Hmmm?”
“I’m hungry. Did you eat yet?”
“No, to be honest I was too nervous about coming here tonight to think about eating.”
“Let’s go out to eat.”
She looked at him and couldn’t think of a good reason to say no. So she said, “OK.”
Owen decided he wanted to go to Luizza’s. It was a good, low key choice for dinner so Nola just smiled and nodded. He grabbed his keys assuming he would drive and started to lock up. Nola said, “Should I drive, since I have to move my truck anyway, or wouId it be better if we go in separate vehicles and then I can head home after dinner?” Owen stopped in his tracks took her keys out of her hand and said, “No, woman. We’re going together in my truck. I’m taking you to dinner and then I’m bringing you home here. And he kissed her firmly. And Nola said, “Well, Oh…Ok.”

Roger, who had just been seated himself, spotted Owen as he walked with Nola into Luizza’s. He had to agree with Maurice. Roger smiled and waved to him assuming that this meant Owen had worked things out. His long time girlfriend Debi was turning in her chair to see who Roger was waving to asked “Who’s that?” and Roger replied, “Owen and it looks like he’s worked things out with Nola. Owen saw Roger as he said “yes, 2” to the waitress’ question. She looked around and waved them to 2 seats against the window near the entrance to the bar. Another couple had just left and another waitress was clearing the table. Owen said, “Thanks we’ll be right there we just need to say hello to that friend of mine over there.” The waitress just smiled. New Orleans was such a small big city and everyone practically new everyone else. Owen put his hand in the small of Nola’s back and leaned into whisper in her ear. “Come on, let me introduce you to Roger, my friend and business partner.” Nola nodded.

“Hey Roger, Debi.”
“Hey man, This must be Nola.” And put out his hand to her. Nola smiled shook his hand and said, “Hi, glad to meet you.”
Roger said, “Debi, this is Owen’s new landscape specialist.” and he winked at Owen. Nola nodded “Hi, Debi.”
Debi said, “Landscape specialist?”
Nola said, “Well, it’s really just a hobby.”
Roger said to Debi, “Hobby, hah! Not to hear the guys talk. She knows what she’s doing and she’s all business. When’s the next job?”
Owen said, “Well actually next weekend. The trees for the pool should be delivered and I was hoping that some of the guys would like to work some overtime.”
“Nola’s supervising?”
“Yeah, sure.” and Owen smiled at Nola, who just smiled back, going with the flow.
“I know a few who’ll want to be there. I might come myself.”
“Ok man, enjoy your dinner.”
Roger just smiled and nodded as they walked away.

Owen pulled out Nola’s chair, which disoriented her a little because no one had pulled out her chair in years. Then he sat down smiling. The waitress handed them menus. And Owen quickly decided on a large serving of Lasagna and a cold beer. Nola settled on a small fried oyster plate and unsweet ice tea. Nola had her back to Roger and Owen could barely see his friend’s head around the other customers. As the waitress brought their drinks, Nola said, “Landscape specialist.”
“Yeah, Roger’s heard about you from the guys who worked on the garden.” Nola nodded… “and the wink?”
“You saw that huh?
She nodded again.
“Well, Roger thinks…. Roger thinks that.. you’re my landscape specialist… girlfriend.”
And Nola just closed her eyes and shook her head and wondered what the hell she was thought she was doing in a town where everyone was essentially one degree of separation from everyone else.
Owen looked at her and smiled, “I told him it wasn’t what he thought and when you think about it at least landscape specialist girl friend” and he carefully separated the words girl and friend, “is better than some of the other options. All things considered.” And he winked at her.
And she laughed at him and at the situation, thinking that explaining what was really going on would be next to impossible. Then she said, “Ok. Landscape specialist it is.” And held up her glass and they toasted her new moniker.

They were in the driveway and Nola was trying to get into her truck and Owen was trying to talk her into coming back inside. They had ended up going out for drinks after dinner with Roger and Debi. She had discovered that Owen could dance. And that there was no question that Roger thought she was Owen’s girlfriend. When she tried to explain that they had only known each other for a few months all Roger had said was, “Sorry babe. I know my friend.” as he swept Debi to the dance floor. And even with this misunderstanding floating in the air, she had to admit that she’d had really good time.

He was holding her and she leaned in and kissed him gently to avoid being taken for a more robust kiss and said, “Thank you for dinner. And thank you so much for dancing. I haven’t danced in forever. But it’s late I have to go to work tomorrow. I will see you next week.” And Owen hugged her and, knowing there was nothing he could do to change her mind, kissed her again and let her get in the truck.

One week. One whole miserable week. Then he remembered the pool landscaping and realized that next week he would get her back her on Thursday and again on Saturday to work the pool landscaping. One week.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Festivals

New Orleans is a strange and wonderful place.

There are 2 "modern" (less than 100 years old) festivals unique to New Orleans that mark our seasons:

Jazzfest - which takes place the last weekend in April and the first weekend in May. This festival is full of music and dancing and food and arts. It's guaranteed to fall over the May Day period. This festival typically takes place right after our "cold" season ends and before our HOT season begins. It brings people of all ages and interests together.

Voodoo Fest - which is ending today. Is a newer offering, only 10 years old this year. But it survived the apocalypse surrounding Hurricane Katrina and is now firmly embedded in New Orleans existence.
How do I know. Voodoo Fest now has a Kid's Stage. Once a festival appeals to all ages it somehow manages to lock itself into the essence of the city.

It is strange and wonderful and some how natural that both these festivals are aligned with the 2 pagan festivals that mark the time when the veil is supposed to be thin: May 1st & Holloween.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Elemental Solstice Prayer Alignment

“O spirits of the Elemental forces, hear me. And receive our blessings. O spirits of the earth. O powers that be, hear me and receive our blessings. Assist us on this sacred night to maintain the natural balance which keeps vital the essence of the earth. Let there always be clear flowing water, freshness in the air, fertility within the soil and abundant life within the world.”

These words are taken from Italian Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi. They are part of the Summer Solstice Ritual. But I think that they can and should be used more regularly to align our lives and our workings with Nature.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Chapter 29 – Full Moon Spring Equinox

Last night they had done the Full Moon ritual. The only change from previous rituals had been the moonlight on the pool when they went out to do the Rite of Union to the moon and the moon was reflected in the pool made silver by the moonlight. Nola had gasped and whispered, ‘Lake Nemi’ and hugged him with delight while Owen beamed. He had had the same thought. Owen had cast the circle. Nola did the Veglia, and blessed the cakes and wine, then gave the Charge. With the images of Lake Nemi still in their heads the meditation had been even more powerful. Nola had felt she could smell the pines and the wet earth and the moonlight in the temple had been charged in a softer more sensual way. They both made it to the high ledge under the stars. Papa Eric was there with Owen. Nola called to her initiator. But he didn’t come. She had lain back on her robe, and been calm and open to the universe and what ever messages would come. Papa Eric knew exactly what his grandson wanted and had whispered "You don’t want to talk to me tonight. Go to her just like you did in the other Full Moon meditation." And in his meditation Nola was looking up at the vast star field when Owen kissed her. In her meditation Nola saw them make love in the moon light on the ledge above Lake Nemi. The ritual had started at 9PM and Nola backed out of the driveway by 11PM. Only because Owen knew she was coming back tonight had he not said a word when she left so soon after completing the ritual.

Meana nodded to Bellaria as Nola left her driveway for Owen’s the second night in a row. Nola’s mind was usually busy as she drove, thinking about a million things. Tonight the Grigori wanted it blank. Whatever would happen, would happen. Tonight all they would do was watch. When Papa Eric saw how serious his friend Settrano was he knew all that he would be doing was watching as well.

Nola had the pouches of soil and seeds for the ritual and seeds to be blessed for the garden. Owen met her in the driveway. They were both a little keyed up. When she walked through the living room she saw that Owen already had the altar set and she smiled at him. She stopped to place the pouches and the seeds to be blessed under the altar cloth. When they got to the kitchen, he handed her a glass of Brunello and she said, “Since you have the altar all ready I’m going to change into my robe.” He nodded and went into his office to change into his.

He was waiting in the kitchen when she came out. She said, “I’m a little nervous.” And he sighed deeply glad she had admitted it out loud, “Me too.” As they smiled at each other, Nola said, “Well then I guess it's best we don’t put it off.” And she took his hand and they went to the living room. Owen cast the circle. He liked casting the circle and the process calmed and centered him. Then he started the ritual by reading “We mark now with this time of gathering, the beginning of the Ascent of our Lady from the Hidden Realm of Shadows. For this is the time of Her desire for the light and life of the world. We mark also the death of the Wolf God and the splendor of the new young God, rayed in power the Lord of the Sky.”
Nola placed the placed a white cloth on the altar and stained it with wine from the chalice to symbolize the death of the Wolf God. She then took the seeds to be blessed and placed these on the white cloth. And she blessed the seeds. Then she read: “Now it came to pass that Uni longed for the light of the World and for Her many children. And She departed from the Hidden Rea, in secret, leaving the Dark Lord in His solitude.”
And then she read the Myth of Ascent. When she finished Owen spoke from the North Quarter, “Where is my Lady?”
Nola lit a pillar candle and walked around the circle completely once and stopped at the East on the second circuit and placed the pillar candle in the east. She then returned to the altar and read “O Dark One, Your Lady comes to us and we welcome Her with great rejoicing. All living things do know that She is near and the world stirs with life again. Our Lady journeys now to meet us and Her essence is upon the forest, field and glen.”
Then changing her voice slightly read:
“Hear me, for now I draw near! Hear me all who sleep from Winter’s Embrace, awaken to rebirth, come forth now. Receive my essence and be full with life and the desire for life.”
Then changing back to a lighter voice,”
“O Great Goddess of the earth, return to us in Your fair nature, lovely Maiden of youth, and joy and love. Only You can break the spell of Winter, and enchant the Earth with your Essence. Hail to the Great Goddess.”
And at that she disrobed and tied the pouch of soil around her waist. Owen knew he was supposed to create a Triangle of Manifestation on her body. He hesitated then stepped forward and put his fingertips gently on her right breast and then to her left breast and then to the top of her pubic area and then back to her right breast. Saying “Blessed be all in Uni”. He did it so lightly that it gave Nola goosebumps. She reached out and they embraced which got rid of the goosebumps and calmed Owen down. Nola then placed a small bit of wine in the pouch, removed the wet soil and placed it on a small cloth on the altar. Nola lit another pillar candle and handed it to Owen, and he remembered that he was to walk the circle 3 times and then and stop on the start of his 4th circuit in the east.
When he got there Nola read: “Behold the beauty of the Goddess , She who is Fana, Lady of the Earth. She which is Jana, Mistress of the Moon, She who is Tana, Ruler of the Universe.” Then she went to Owen and tied the pouch of seeds to around his waist and then stepped back to the altar and read:
“Behold the Power of the God, He who is Faunus, Lord of the Earth, He who is Janus, Master of the Heavens; He who is Tanus, Ruler of the Universe!
You are truly the Power in all things. You are the Earth the Sky and beyond.”
Nola crossed to Owen and opened the pouch of seeds and took some out and sprinkled them on the soil wet with wine on the altar. She then crossed back to him and brushed her hand over his robe on his chest from right to left to his pubic region as she said, “Blessed be the plow, the seed” and back to his chest “and the furrow”. And then Owen said, “Blessed be the plow, the seed” as brushed his hand across her right breast to her left and down to her pubic region “and the furrow” and back up to her right breast.

She then untied both her cord with the soil and his robe cord and the cord with the seeds. She let the cord and the pouches fall to the ground, removed his robe, with his help, and then embraced him. Owen felt her cool flesh against his flesh still warm from the robe. He felt the swell of her soft breast against his chest, he moved his hands around her and pulled her in and kissed her deeply. And felt as she totally gave herself to the kiss and the moment. He realized that she was completely aware of how hard he was becoming because she moved her hand down to his hard sex and broke gently from the kiss to whisper lowly in his ear as she stroked him, “Blessed be the plow.” And she kissed him while she stroked him and then she moved her kisses down his chest until she had him in her mouth and for just a second he felt like he expanded until he was a million molecules floating freely across the universe. She worshiped his hard sex with her mouth. Then she gently rubbed the back of her hand against his testicles. And he moaned. With her mouth still on him she reached up with her hand to his wrist and tugged gently, and took her mouth off of him for just a moment as he melted to his knees on the floor. She moved her hands from his hard sex to his chest and leaned into him and kissed him again while keeping one hand on him. He held her as they kissed. She brushed her hands through his chest hair and then moved her hands around his back where she gently put her nails into the muscles in his back. He took control and continuing to kiss her pushed her down and fondled her breasts and breathed in her scent and his scent on her. He moved his mouth down the curve of her belly to her sex and he licked her until she moaned. He moved back up to her and whispered into her ear “Blessed be the furrow” as he entered her and they lost themselves to the act until they both felt like they were a million molecules floating freely across the universe. And time stopped.

He rolled to his back and she lay peacefully and silently next to him. He had no idea how much time had passed when he rolled to his side and started kissing her gently from her ear to her shoulder while his hand traced the curve of her breasts and the peak of her nipples. She rolled to her side and ran back of her hand down his chest and then front of her hand up his chest. They kissed slowly and deeply. Neither wanting to end the embrace yet both knowing they had to which made them all the more desperate for each other. Owen realized that he was hard again. Nola felt his passion rise and moved closer to him. One hand on his chest, the other stroking him, rubbing her palm on the tip of his penis which became lubricated until it was like having her mouth on him and he moaned softly, “Oh god... How is this possible?” She kissed him and he kissed her and entered her and they expanded into the universe again.

Owen was lying there completely and totally drained and relaxed. Nola rubbed her hand in his chest hair one more time and then got up, poured only enough spirit fuel into the bowl to take down the circle and then quickly and quietly did just that. Owen stirred only when he heard her snapping her fingers over the elemental bowls. She heard him stir and turned to him and smiled as she picked up her robe and cord. He sat up on his elbows as if he didn’t know where he was. And she thought that was probably a very good thing. She took her robe into the bathroom and hung it up and decided to rinse off in the shower. He was sitting in the kitchen in his robe when she came out dressed and looking like she was going to leave.
He did NOT want her to leave. He held out his hand to her and she went to him sliding between his legs as he held her and teasing, “No more robes until the fall.” He kissed her and said, “Stay.” She kissed him gently and didn’t say anything as she walked out of the kitchen, grabbed the blessed seeds of off the altar and closed the front door. He just sat there in the kitchen knowing she was leaving and not able to move from the chair.

Papa Eric said, “She has to go this time, son.” And Meana moved him from the kitchen up the stairs to his bed.