‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler
At night sometimes the world seems so topsy-turvy and you’re so weary of doing things the same old way. Then nothing seems to please….You try desperately for something new and different, something that doesn’t seem so much like you. Why? Tonight you are different.
One cannot expect the world to be top side up all the time. Such perfection does not come so easily to human nature. And always there is a search for something new and different. A change of pace….that thought that I don’t want to be me today, to think my thoughts and do my daily chores. I want to make a complete change now, to know a whole new way of life. And it is good to leave behind the many daily situations that sometimes stand too closely to be seen clearly, but to be wise enough to know which things should be left behind.
There have been clean sweeps that have left behind the dearest things….and have taken along the same dreary, dark unhappy things of the mind that should have been left behind.
A line from the prayer of serenity is “The wisdom to know the difference…..” And wisdom, says Samuel Taylor Coleridge, is common sense in an uncommon degree. If one has the wisdom to wait a bit, wait until morning – or several mornings – that uncommon degree of common sense will give us the wisdom to know the difference.
Available online! ‘Cherokee Feast of Days’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler.
Visit her web site to purchase the wonderful books by Joyce as gifts for yourself or for loved ones……and also for those who don’t have access to the Internet: http://www.hifler.com
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Elder’s Meditation of the Day
By White Bison, Inc., an American Indian-owned nonprofit organization. Order their many products from their web site: http://www.whitebison.org
Elder’s Meditation of the Day – November 12
“I don’t think that anybody anywhere can talk about the future of their people or of an organization without talking about education. Whoever controls the education of our children controls our future, the future of the Cherokee people and of the Cherokee Nation.”
–Wilma P. Mankiller, CHEROKEE
The world has changed in the last 50 years. It will change even more in the next 50 years, and it will change even faster. We must educate ourselves to ensure our future generations will maintain the language and the culture of our people. We need to be concerned about our land because when our land goes away, so will our people. We need to be concerned about leadership, our families and about alcoholism. We need to be concerned about what’s going on around the world. We can only do this by being educated. Then we can control our future.
Great Spirit, please guide our children; let me know how I can help.
November 12 – Daily Feast
Misery seems to justify making someone pay – but there is sweet revenge in finding our own inner spirit can expand quickly to push out unfairness and bitterness. Who doesn’t have the right to be bitter? A hard thing to forget, a mountain to overcome – but such peace follows. Peace spreads like warm honey across a hot biscuit and permeates all the little places that capture and hold it. The heart lifts its hands in praise for relief from the darkness of bitter memories. All of us can do it – all of us must if we are to be well and have something to share. Just let it go. Life will balance the books, it always does.
~ While living I want to live well. ~
GERONIMO – CHIRACAHUA APACHE
‘A Cherokee Feast of Days, Volume II’ by Joyce Sequichie Hifler
Stay in motion
When life is going your way, keep going. When life is not going your way, keep going.
Don’t let yourself be stopped by the pain of failure. Don’t let yourself be stopped by the complacency of success.
Stay in motion, and you can choose your direction. Stay in motion, or you’ll get pushed around by forces outside your control.
It’s not always easy to stay in motion, yet it is always the best choice. Persist, and nothing can keep you down for long.
Build value on top of your victories and build value on top of your defeats. Stay in motion, and everything is an opportunity.
Give yourself the advantage of a powerful and prolonged momentum. Stay in motion, and stay in positive control of the way your life unfolds.
© 2015 Ralph S. Marston, Jr.
Noise as a Distraction
Working through Silence
Distracting yourself with talk-radio and television can become mind-numbing if not taken in moderation.
Our lives are typically filled with noise. There are the noises from the outside world that we cannot control, and there are the noises we allow into our lives. These noises, from seemingly innocuous sources like the television and radio, can actually help us avoid dealing with uncomfortable thoughts and emotions. However, using noise as a distraction hurts more than it helps because you are numbing yourself to what may be internally bubbling up to the surface for you to look at and heal. Distracting yourself with talk-radio, television, or other background noises can also prevent you from finding closure to issues that haunt you.
Noise as a distraction can affect us in many ways. It can help you stay numb to emotions that you don’t want to feel, allow you to avoid dealing with problems, distract you from having to think, and make it easier for you to forget reality. Drowning out the thoughts and emotions you find uncomfortable or overwhelming can complicate your issues because it allows them to fester. By tuning out noise and relishing silence, you create the space to experience and express what you are hiding. It is only then that self-exploration can begin in earnest and you can stare down frightening issues. In silence, it becomes easier to let your strongest feelings come forth, deal with them, and find new ways of resolving your problems.
When you go within without the veil of noise to shield you from yourself, you’ll be able to figure out what you need to heal. Embracing silence and introspection allows you to work through your thoughts and emotions and transmute them. Free of the need for noise, you can accept your pain, anger, and frustration as they come up and turn them into opportunities to evolve.
The Daily OM
Cronehood: Aging Gracefully Or Just Aging?
Author: Rev. etain.butterfly
I am enjoying my Cronehood journey and wish I could say the same for many of our aging population. What I am observing and I must say it is a concern to me…why do people of age want to home in on talking about their illness (s) and making it their main topic of conversation? I can understand when a crisis happens, there is a new diagnosis that is heavy on their mind and that there stages they go through (shock, grieving, barter, and acceptance) , however I am not talking about this. I am talking about the need to focus on the aging process as a loss and a ‘giving up’ instead of looking at it for what it is… a process that can offer freedom and joys. Let me give you some examples.
A friend of mine is a diabetic and he has this condition because of many years of not paying attention to what he ate and the amount of what he ate. He continued to gain weight and the signs started showing up that he was near developing Type II Diabetes at age 58. When he had a chance to correct the situation by diet alone, he still made bad decisions about his food intake. Then he was given the devastating news that he was now a full fledge diabetic that must take insulin.
I was very patient when he learned he had to change his eating habits, monitor his blood sugar, and learn to give himself insulin shots. I understood it would take him time to adjust, so his constant talking and yes, even complaining, was expected. As a friend, it was my job to help him through this transition and give him the needed support to ease all the changes that he would have to go through.
So, here’s his story now. He’s 68 years old and has had this condition for several years. He continues to make this health issue his topic of conversation even when things are going really well. The fact is, he has had this condition for 10 years and has chosen to play the ‘poor me scenario’. His doctor has provided him with excellent information and several resources to help him cope. He always needs to announce to anyone and everyone in earshot that he is a diabetic and then goes into the same old routine of boring them to death with details of his blood sugar and his eating routine. An example of his usual conversation…
”Oh my blood sugar is 100 and that is good but usually it is higher than that. Gosh, what do you think that means? Should I call the doctor? Maybe I should eat a candy bar to get it higher. What do you think? I will have to check it again later. Maybe I should call my daughter.”
He has a daughter who is an RN and he is driving her bonkers. When I am around him, I end up tuning him out when he starts this nonsense. Now I find myself avoiding him because I am sick of hearing his persistent complaining. It is taking a toll on my psychic energy. In other words, it sucks the life right out of me and, after visiting with him, I am tired and so ready to take a nap.
I see this with other Crones also. They talk about their arthritic aches and pains plus stiffness in their joints as much as they do about the changes in the weather. These are chronic conditions, meaning they will experience this from time to time, and talking about it obsessively won’t change a thing.
At what point do people decide that the aging process means they need to constantly talk about their health issues? At what point do they stop engaging in healthier topics of conversation? What are the reasons for this shift in how they converse with people and, more importantly, do they even realize how depressing this whole routine is?
One reason may actually be major depression (also known as clinical depression) , which is a medical illness. It is a chemical imbalance in the brain and can appear in people regardless of age, race or economic status. The illness can appear after a triggering event or for no apparent reason at all.
Look for signs of:
•Constant complaints of aches and pains (back, stomach, arms, legs, head, chest) , fatigue, slowed movements and speech, loss of appetite, inability to sleep, weight increase or decrease, blurred vision, dizziness, heart racing, anxiety.
•An overall sadness or apathy, withdrawn; unable to find pleasure in anything. Also irritability, mood swings or constant complaining; nothing seems to make the person happy.
•Talk of worthlessness, not being needed anymore, excessive and unwarranted guilt.
•Frequent doctor visits without relief in symptoms; all tests come out negative.
•Alcoholism can mask an underlying depression.
Another reason is ‘doing as others do’. Meaning they mimic what other elders are doing. Again if that is what they see and hear from their associates, there is a strong chance they may get caught up in the same negative behavior.
A third reason is the lack of stimulation, which will give them other things to talk about. Many times, elders find themselves alone with infrequent visitation from family and friends. They concentrate on familiar things like illnesses, chronic aches and pains, and the medications they take.
I, too, have minor health issues, however I chose to acknowledge that ‘it is what it is’. I have been dealt this hand and therefore I will do what I can to not let it slow me down. As I said, I am an observer of people partly because I am an RN and it’s part of my job. I have made note that those individuals who are really struggling with major health issues hardly complain at all. They keep a positive attitude and, in doing so, don’t let their condition stop them from enjoying life. Along with keeping a positive attitude, you may also find, as I have, that ‘like attracts like’. People benefit from being around cheerful positive people.
As an Elder and Crone myself, I hope to stir the Pagan community to take notice of how they choose to age. Are we aging with grace or are we just aging? Talk to the God and Goddess for help in modifying your way of thinking so you can handle life’s little ups and down. If you have family and / or friends who are displaying this type of behavior, show empathy and love by helping them comprehend the negative effects that persist when they chose to concentrate on their health issues in a pessimistic way. Sometimes it becomes a habit and they don’t even realize how often it occurs.
Behaviors can be changed, so make up your mind to age with GRACE and not just age.
A Visit With The Crone – A Short Story
Author: Jadalya Boudicca
The inspiration for this short story came to me after a very turbulent and uncertain time in my life. I had just taken a major leap of faith that would have long-lasting effects, and whether it was positive or negative I didn’t know. Basically, one period of my life was ending, and another was beginning. I was terrified and unsure of myself, peering over the edge of the proverbial cliff and readying myself for the leap into Goddess-knew-what. I was coming face-to-face with the Crone, that unpleasant and brutally honest Hag that always appears when a death is imminent.
For those unacquainted with Crone energy, She can be one of the most terrifying aspects of the Goddess to face. Whether She be Black Annis, Baba Yaga, Kali, or one of the Fates, She always evokes a sense of foreboding, and it is well that She does, for She is not surrounded by flowers and sunshine, like the Maiden, nor does she carry a countenance of nurturing comfort, like the Mother. She is the essence of wisdom in its most raw form; She sees what lies in the murky darkness beyond and stares into it without fear. By communing with the energy of the Crone, one learns to accept death in life and acknowledge its necessity in growth. This is a hard lesson to face, and many of us will continue to struggle with it time and time again; however, when we learn it, we are graced with the ability to accept life’s flow and live in continuity with it’s cycles rather than fight it, and by doing so, we grow.
Let me introduce you now to the Crone.
A Visit With the Crone – A Short Story
I have met the Crone once or twice. Her fearsome eyes look you through to your bones, the houses of your stories, and read there all that you are and from whence you have come. She judges there where you will go, for she knows where all things must go.
The first time I met her, she scowled at me. “Your stories are dry; your words have no flavor and your lips are all but dead. One day you will die, and then what? Ha! Come back to me when you learn of it, and THEN share with me a story worth hearing, and I shall give you one as well.”
“But I do not know how, Grandmother, ” I said. “The only way I know to learn IS to die, or become near-death, and I fear it…Grandmother, I fear it’s grasp!”
“Heh…you are dead enough now, living as you are, “she replied, her voice harsh and rasping. “Go from me, now, and do not return until you have something worth saying and something worth hearing.”
I departed from the Old Hag then, forlorn. What is this she asked of me? To die, and THEN tell a story? One cannot do such a thing; it is impossible! Foolish old woman, I thought. Better to never go back…she spins old wives’ tales from the cobwebs of her senile mind!
I went to sleep then, and dreamt of great suffering, and of the Grandmother gnashing her teeth and swallowing me whole. “No, Grandmother!” I screamed. “Do you not recognize me? Do your eyes not know me?”
“I do not know you, ” she said, her eyes dark and glistening, her teeth yellow and tearing at me. “I do not know you because you do not know yourself.”
I leapt awake then, sweating and gasping for breath. Just a dream, I told myself. The old Hag has me scared out of my wits, with all her talk of death and dying! Let me throw her off now, out of my mind. And with that, I rested my head once more, and fell back into dreaming.
Once again, the Grandmother appeared in my dreams, with her fearsome grin and watery eyes. “Grandmother, ” I screamed, “why do you do this to me!”
“I do not do this to you, ” she smirked, “for you do it to yourself.”
Once again, I leapt awake, trembling and fearful. Were these just dreams? I shall face the Hag, once and for all, I thought. And a third time I slept, and a third time she appeared, more terrible and ferocious than before, making wrathful sounds and threatening to tear me apart.
“Grandmother, ” I said, my voice small from fear. “Three times you have appeared to me, and three times you have come to me with death. I am afraid, but I am here to face you now.”
“Then face me you will, ” she said, and swallowed me up. Down into the darkness of her belly I fell, but it instead of pain, I felt only warmth. How strange, I thought. The softness cradled me, and down I went, until a light could be seen. The light terrified me, but on and on I went, until I was enveloped no longer in darkness, but in light, and I felt arms around me, cradling me. “There, there, my sweet daughter, my beautiful one, ” a voice whispered, and when I opened my eyes I saw not the Hag beast, but a beautiful woman, and I knew this to be Mother.
“Mother, where has the old Hag gone?” I asked.
“She is here, too, ” the Mother said. And with that, I awoke, no longer afraid.
I rose and sought out the old Crone. “Well, ” she croaked. “What have we here! You are not the same sniveling girl that was here yesterday. Sit, and tell me what has changed. Tell me your story.”
I told her of my dreams, and as I told her my story, her eyes softened. “I have learned not to fear endings, Grandmother, for with all endings come beginnings.”
The Crone nodded, and her bones creaked as she roused herself. “That is a good story, child, ” she said. “Now, as promised, I shall tell you one myself.”
She looked at me then, and the darkness of her eyes drew me in until I once again could see nothing but black. In the darkness I saw swirls of light, small suns and stars. I saw these lights split and come back together, until they took the shapes of animals, great and small, all coming from the same light, and all returning to the same light. I saw men singing their songs, and women weaving their tapestries, until sound and material became one, intertwining all life together.
“You see, child, ” she whispered. “All comes from One, and all is connected. You are I, and I am you.”
When The Crone Pays A Visit, You’d Better Pay Attention
Author: Maire Durkan
(Samhain 2012) I wake in pre-dawn hours, heart pounding. I’d placed photographs of my beloved dead on my altar, placed a welcome offering of my dad’s favorite candy and whiskey, and lit a candle. I’d asked for a dream—contact with a message—and had expected something like the warm and loving messages I received during Audience With the Ancestors, a Samhain ritual performed by my coven (Grail of the Birch Moon) and member covens of the Assemble of the Sacred Wheel in three locations. I expected a message along the lines of “follow the way of love, ” but the Wise Woman, the Crone, had visited me in the darkness of night, in the waning of the moon, bringing the chill of winter and a stern message.
I have never been a lucid dreamer. So, when I find myself in my very own bedroom confronted by a messenger dressed in black who is–shall we say–brutally frank, I’m pretty freaked out. First, the specter makes sure that I am icy cold (which certainly gets my attention) , then she dissolves the headboard of my bed and tears chunks out of the door to a very real crawl space behind it while my father (who passed in 2008) tells me to “wake up.”
This dream is not a nightmare—but its message is certainly stern. So, I wake to a room not quite as frigid as the astral room. When my heart rate dropped to normal, it was time to figure out my spiritual game plan.
As I’ve said, the crawl space is quite real and exactly where it was in the dream. There are a lot of things in that crawl space—old manuscripts, old books, old clothes, old memories good and not so good—things that I’m not quite ready to part with because they hold a part of me for good or ill.
As the space is behind the very large, very solid oak headboard of a behemoth of a bed, I can’t get at it without putting in a lot of effort. I put them there for a variety of reasons—nostalgia, the hope that they’ll be repurposed, and even (in the case of the manuscript) because I couldn’t bear to look at it but couldn’t bear to throw it away either.
Clearly, it is time for me to do some shadow work. But I don’t want to! That’s why all that stuff is packed away in an almost inaccessible physical space and in an equally inaccessible space inside of me. I have a hunch that the Goddess and my dad expect a New Year’s cleaning that involves more than sorting through the tangible junk that lurks behind that closed door.
As I do a lot when I’m working through “things, ” I take a walk in the woods and farmland around the Brandywine River Valley. Sometimes, the land and the beings that inhabit it, have lessons to teach me and sometimes the process of walking in the quiet countryside helps me find my way to an answer or at least help me pose questions that point me toward more clues.
The woods have turned towards winter. A cold breeze rattles bare limbs and dry leaves spiral down onto damp, cold earth. In the meadow, horses stand in groups, nose to nose. A maple tree felled by Hurricane Sandy lies across the path pressing down the electric wire around the fields of dun colored corn stubble. Its branches are filled with the tight knots of next year’s buds– life and potential that will never be realized in its current form–although it will be transformed and used. Nothing in nature goes to waste.
Near the last unharvested soybean fields migrating robins chirp with alarm, then fall silent as a local red tailed hawk wheels overhead. I’m like the robin, chirping, alarmed. Then, silent…listening…watching.
The woods hold death and danger –felled trees, downed leaves, and the feathers left from a kill; this is a cycle. I must embrace this–for it is my story as much as the tree’s or the bird’s. But it was also full of life. In strong roots that held firm despite Sandy’s fury. In the animals that are foraging or hibernating. In the last red clovers blooming low to the ground. In the Red Tail soaring high above crying its glorious “Keeyerr!” I whisper, “She changes everything She touches and everything She touches changes.”
It’s time for me to touch, to draw out, acknowledge, and change. Nature is filled with harsh truths that I need to apply to my spiritual habitat. I have held on to old grief and hurt too long. I lock them away, unexamined, because they are too painful to acknowledge, but too much a part of me to easily relinquish.
It’s time to ground, center, pray for compassion and take them out of the darkness. It’s time to do the hard work of removing barriers that give false comfort and open the door to that shadowed place within myself.
Shadow work is as painful and healing as the nettle plant. Sometime the sting has to come before healing can begin.
When I get home, I know what I must do. This is my first task of the new year. Mastering my fear, I must open physical and spiritual doors, reach into the darkness, and bring what I’ve stored and hidden into the light to be examined, sorted, kept or discarded.
At fifty-two, (to paraphrase the Bard) , I’m a tree approaching winter. A tree shaped and weathered by many seasonal cycles. My roots are strong, deep, and I can withstand this shadow work. But I am still a vibrant, sexual, life-embracing woman. I acknowledge shadows and darkness and will to examine the things that I have hidden with care…but I will not hide there –I will open the dark door, embrace the Crone and embrace this new and powerful cycle of my life.
The Call of the Crone
Author: Robin Fennelly
The air is full and heavy this time of the year as the veils thin and the spirits walk among us… some offering guidance and assistance and others being mischievous and stirring up an already potent mix of energy trouble. There is a distinct and growing crispness to the air as the weather offers a preview of what to expect in the coming winter months, and leaves crackle underfoot reminding us that summer’s moisture has given way and the dryness of death is near. As a Witch, the changing of each of the seasons echoes through my body and in response my perceptions and attitudes about what each change will bring sharpens and narrows to an intentional and purposeful focus. In particular, Samhain hangs heavy in my thoughts and the opportunity to reach a little deeper into my own state of mortality and transformation looms large.
Each year at this time, I make a silent commitment to being more fully present and alive in my daily activities. This is, in large, my antidote to feeling the pall of death and an active reminder that this state of manifest, physical life will follow the natural order of things and return to the finer state of a non corporeal vessel. Food takes on a deeper level of enjoyment. Family is drawn closer and self-care takes priority over spreading myself too thin. Long walks surrounded by the beauty of Fall exercise my physical body and stimulate and open my senses in a broader way.
I spend time in deeper reflection during my meditations and just as the days become fuller in energy and imbued with the visual palette of Autumn, the hues and intensity of my time spent as the Hermit turning within takes on more complexity. Each inhalation becomes an exercise to draw up those parts of myself that reside in the shadows that occasionally come to the surface of light, but for the most part are as fleeting and ephemeral in quality as the spirits who walk among us. Each exhalation is a chance to release those that are not productive or embrace and enliven those that will serve as the primal compost of what I choose to quicken in the Spring.
This retrospection is guided by the call of the Crone and the draping of her mantle upon me that I am so keenly aware of at this time of the year. The Goddess Cerridwen calls to me in whispers of wind and rustling leaves and the temptation of wanting knowledge of a more transformative nature seems at times overwhelming. So, I sit and wait patiently as the Crone reveals what she will to me. In this state of waiting, the time passes in a non-linear way and at some moments seems limitless in what is held. My breath becomes slower and deeper and the mundane world seems to fade into the background as time appears to stand still. There is no fear as the Goddess points a bony finger beckoning me to follow her as we begin the descent into the caverns of an underworld that is of my own making. There is only a deep feeling of peace and at oneness with all of life and a sensation of being more alive in this space of death.
The path moves downward at sharp angles and footing is unsure as firmly pressed dirt gives way to gravel. The sensation is one of traversing a misshapen spiral or labyrinth, energy and flow of movement all dancing in a discordant and circular nature. I feel myself being pulled along, caught in the current of this winding steady flow. I am alone in the growing darkness.
I take a deep breath in and then pull up all the courage I can, exhaling with an even deeper breath that releases any fears I may have. I take a few steps forward and the ground beneath has an unexpected softness to it. It moves in rhythm with my step, giving way with each footfall, but nonetheless gently supporting my weight. All my senses come to full alert and I move forward, nudged along by pure instinct. I realize there is no way of knowing what direction I am moving and this place has a feeling of being non-linear in nature. I stand for a time in this quiet space of darkness, allowing its energy to enfold me and its peace to fill every fiber of my being. Curiosity soon takes hold and the desire to explore even deeper wells up.
I hear a rhythmic pulse of sound that nudges me forward. It sounds like the gentle inhale and exhale of breath; it is the sound of air as it fills lungs and gives life and then is released back into the atmosphere. The sound increases, and I find myself breathing in unison with it. I open my mouth and call out to Cerridwen. I can feel Her presence all around me and HER breath is hot and foul. She smells of Death and Her challenge is that of facing the death of my weaknesses and the decay and stagnation of a life that is not infused with the passion of pure existence. She whispers my name and asks what I will offer in sacrifice in order to have one drop of her Cauldron’s liquid.
I breathe deeply and think on what compelled me to enter this place. I have no words and the challenge is more than I had bargained for. The realization that knowledge is hard won. True wisdom comes not from merely the desire for it, but from the relinquishment of what we cling to most fiercely thus allowing the space to be filled with the gifts of the Goddess. I breathe deeply and reaffirm my Life and the greater wisdom gained from the courage of stepping into the shadows.
I call out again to Cerridwen. My voice stronger and more assured in the knowledge that I have changed the inner landscape of my underworld. I breathe deeply and open my eyes, the energy of the Crone still wrapped about me. The call of the Crone echoes throughout me and I am reminded that this final harvest of Samhain is a call to the wisdom of the darkness. I will carry with me the knowledge that it is only in the embrace of the shadow that true gnosis can be found and in its final reaping is brought to the brilliance of Light that shines in all who heed the Call.