Almost Giving Up

I’ve been at the Almost Giving Up point since December 2017.

One of my cousins died the week before Christmas (his mom, my mom’s older sister, died the week before Christmas 2016, making his loss doubly painful.) His personal effects, and my aunt’s, still sit in our guest room, because I can’t reach anyone on his father’s side of the family who might want a few boxes containing baby shoes, hundreds of photos, photos from his wedding (I cannot remember his former wife’s maiden name) toys, Harley Davidson cards, all the little things that a person accumulates over fifty years. The thought of throwing them out is painful, but so is seeing them every time I go into that room.

It turns out that excising the toxic people from your life can leave you nearly alone. The people who remain in my life aren’t people who could accept the real Robin . . . pagan Robin, bisexual Robin . . . so I still nod and smile in order to fit in. I’m tired of nodding and smiling.

My mom requires increasing care but doesn’t want it. I have no help. Caring for her, managing her health and finances, is becoming a full-time job and taking my attention away from freelancing at a time when we desperately need more money.

My health? I cannot get the healthcare that I need. Not in North Carolina. A single medication that’s financially out of reach could turn my whole life around. My back pain makes me feel like a doll with a broken waist joint, just hanging, bent over, and no one can tape me back together clear packing tape. Every day, I read more lies about chronic pain patients and how if we would just do this, this, or this, we’d be pain-free.

I tried that, that, and that. I’m 45. I anticipate needing a cane or walker soon, and then a wheelchair, and then who will take care of my mother?

My writing and my hobbies . . . I’m surrounded by books, art supplies, cameras, yarn. I saw a beautiful afghan on Twitter, made of granny squares of random colors. The woman making it is making a square for each chronic pain patient who requests to be added. I thought of making a quilt like it just for the beauty of it. I have everything I need in this room, within reach.

But I don’t.

I put together two altars, one to The Morrigan, one to Rhiannon and nature and my childhood self. I made Wiccan mala beads out of a set of Buddhist mala beads. I haven’t touched them. I had routine, a practice, and I try to keep it up, but I started thinking, why bother? Things only get worse. Maybe it’s because I gave up on Christianity and embraced paganism. Maybe “God” is punishing me. Maybe I offended one of the Goddesses. Maybe I offended the Elementals. Maybe there is no deity.

The night before last, I read two articles on Twitter and got the sign I’ve been praying for, the sign that I am on the right path. The first article was about people having the impulse to give up on their practice at exactly the time they should focus on it. The other was an article about a devotee of The Morrigan and their experiences with Her over a few years, including fallow periods and times of “making up” with Her.

I’m still not feeling the closeness to Rhiannon that I did initially. Maybe this is a fallow period. Maybe The Morrigan is dominating this part of my life, because I always hear the crows, morning and evening.

It’s enough to keep me from giving up. I bear up under the weight of each day . . . and maybe that is Rhiannon’s message.

–Robin, 4-11-2018




Mother Earth and Pagan Women Without Wombs

I had a hysterectomy in 2005 due to recurring fibroids (non-cancerous tumors that can grow in the uterus, on the uterus, and on any uterine tissue.)

The use of the word “womb” in connection with earth mother deities and the earth itself doesn’t usually faze me, but yesterday I read something about earth signs (me–Capricorn) that used the word womb so many times that I started to wonder . . . can we lessen the use of the word womb in pagan writing without losing the impact of the Mother Goddess?

I asked the person who posted the graphic about that. I didn’t receive an answer. I wanted to start a conversation. I would also ask, does crone still serve us? Mother Earth, earth mother, great mother doesn’t bother me. We mother in many ways without giving birth. We women pagans without wombs mother in so many ways. We mother siblings, stepchildren, adopted children, nieces and nephews, pets, gardens, we are mentors, creators, artists, writers, scientists, and in the end, many of us mother our own parents and older relatives. The Crone has always been the woman past menopause who holds her wisdom within herself and passes it on to the younger generations. Are we mothers without wombs? Are we Crones? Are we both?

I dislike replacing perfectly good words like womb. I just wonder if we could substitute creator, maker, and other words sometimes so we don’t use womb so often in one piece of writing. We evolve. Language does also.

When Someone Loses a Pet

My cousin’s 21-year-old cat passed away on March 28th,


It’s depressing that so many people consider pets, especially cats, “disposable,” and don’t have sympathy or patience for the pet’s grieving owner. Imagine having a living creature as part of your life for over 20 years, losing it, and being expected to just move on.

My cousin has another, much younger cat. I know from experience that having another pet is a good thing when a pet passes away. Pets grieve. My cat Kumo slept on my stomach for days after my oldest, Mika, died of stomach cancer. Mika was eight when I got Kumo. He was eight weeks old. We grieved together. My cousin sent me a condolence card. No one else did. Mika died during the night before a work day. I went to work. I told my supervisor and the boss that she was gone. They shrugged it off. I don’t remember either one saying “I’m sorry.” And these were people I had known since the sixth grade.

Of course, a lot of people just don’t know how to react when someone tells them that a pet died. That’s why I’m writing this post. What you do is say “I’m so sorry.” If you know the person well enough that you’ve heard them talk about the pet, it’s nice to add “I know how much he/she meant to you.” Letting them take a day off if they ask is just the decent thing to do.

I didn’t get the day off. I came home and buried my cat by myself.

What I did for my cousin, besides talking to her on Facebook and telling her to call me if she wanted to really talk, was make a memorial donation to Alley Cat Allies. They’re an organization devoted to providing information about feral cats to the general public and support to people who care for feral cats. My cousin rescued her cat from a dumpster when he was a kitten. I made a small donation (all I could afford) to Alley Cat Allies in memory of Sternlight (named for the white at the tip of his tail) and requested that they send a condolence card to my cousin.

A donation to the animal welfare organization of your choice is great because it helps the organization help other animals. A donation and card are good choices for co-workers and neighbors. It’s a quiet way of saying “I care” when you feel uncomfortable and don’t know what to say. What pet owners DON’T want after the death of a pet are stuffed toys, figurines, or surprise “replacement” pets. Some pet owners adopt another animal in a short amount of time. Some wait six months or a year. Some never get another pet. My mom is 70. She’s had cats and dogs all her life. When her last cat died two years ago, she said that she would never get another pet of her own because she had lost so many, but that she was fine with me having cats. Everyone deals with a pet’s death in their own way.

So, acknowledge the loss if the owner talks about it. Buying a card at the store is fine. I just feel that a donation is a way of acknowledging that the pet’s life was important.

The Morrigan and Rhiannon, Part 2

Some deities make it very clear when they’re unhappy with you.

Rhiannon now resides on my bedroom dresser. Her altar is extensive. The Morrigan holds her place on top of the chest of drawers next to my bed. The only plants she cares about are shamrocks. I have both green and red.

Rhiannon was unhappy with me and still is, I think. But I also think that we have a connection. I’ve made a lovely space for her, and I give her offerings of wine, gemstones, and coins.

The Morrigan seems to accept my offerings of whisky, garnets, and arrowheads. Every morning and evening, I hear the crows. I see them when I’m out driving.

I wish that Rhiannon would give me such a clear sign that she at least still acknowledges me.

I pre-ordered this book from Barnes and Noble. It is the first scholarly work about Rhiannon. I hope that it helps me understand her. She is far more than a song.

Spring Skeeters

Yeah, they’re out, even though we had sleet a couple of nights ago. Pure essential lavender oil, available at Walgreens, repels mosquitoes. It smells good, unlike all other mosquito sprays I’ve tried, and you don’t have to wash it off before you go to bed. I put the oil straight on my skin, on bug bites, to stop the itching. I mix it with olive oil and use it as a facial and body oil. It absorbs quickly. I also mix it with hot water in a spray bottle and spray my exposed skin and clothes before I got outside. It doesn’t stain clothing unless you drip undiluted oil on fabric. In that case, you should immediately change the clothing item and treat the oil stain with dish detergent. Dish detergent breaks up greasy/oily stains. Wash the garment in hot water before the stain dries and sets.

For sore muscles, add approximately 20 (my go-to number) drops of lavender oil and one cup of Epsom salts to a hot bath. Soak in the bath until the water starts to go tepid.

I’m allergic to laundry detergents and fabric softeners with artificial fragrances. I use fragrance-free products and add lavender oil to the rinse cycle. I dry my clothes in the dryer with no problems.

Lavender oil is also recommended for migraines and as aromatherapy for mild, occasional insomnia. If you’re interested in aromatherapy and other uses for essential oils, I recommend starting with lavender because it’s so safe and so versatile.

The Morrigan

I’ve decided to, for the time being, devote myself exclusively to The Morrigan. I’ve given Rhiannon pride of place in the front room of my home, but since I don’t exclusively use that room, I prepared a large altar for The Morrigan in my bedroom.

I had three altars. I was spreading myself too thin. I had one for The Morrigan, one for Rhiannon, and one general Mother Nature altar. Now my only traditional altar, with my athame, cauldron, and hag stone, is devoted to The Morrigan. I rearranged my nature altar into a–yes, I’ll say it through clenched teeth–meditation space. To me, because meditation and decluttering was used against me as a weapon because I didn’t do it “right,” meditation is an upsetting concept. But I did make over a lovely set of jade mala beads into pagan prayer beads, and I’ve bought pagan prayer beads, and I even added accessories to a set to dedicate it to The Morrigan.

I’m not entirely sure that’s what she wants, though. Learning what she wants and what she wants to tell me is like walking barefoot through nettles.

wild swans

(I chose the story from this book as an illustration because of the gathering of nettles, the type of task set before a novitiate to the priestesshood, and because the Fairy Queen (fairy godmother) who gives Elisa this painful and almost impossible task to break the spell is Queen Morgana.)*

Is that abusive? NO. It’s the traditional method of becoming priestess or priest of a deity.

Before I invited The Morrigan into my life and home, I had never heard a crow calling near my house. I asked my mother. She never did either, even when her parents had a garden. I remember the garden (because I helped work it) and my grandfather grew corn, but he never had a scarecrow.

But now, over the last several months, the crows have gathered, and they caw caw caw every morning at about 6:30 am, right about the time that my insomnia lets me sleep.

If you are intrigued by The Morrigan, I advise this book: The Morrigan Meeting the Great Queens.

I write this in hopes of finding other devotees of The Morrigan.

In my next post, I’ll talk about a personal meditation altar, and how it does not have to be a traditional Wiccan altar.

*A Treasury of the World’s Greatest Fairy Tales ©1972 Fratelli Fabbri Editori, Milan