A blog for her friends to check that she's still alive, when she's been missing for a while, and what she's whinging about now.

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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

"There is my trust in what I believe..."

I have just had the most amazing two days, which segued into one extended day, as none of us slept in between.

On Sunday, FT Kate drove Eric and I to Hay-on-Wye, where they went into the pub to play pool, while I looked around the bookshops. I managed not to buy anything, mainly because I'd got everything I found Wicca-wise, except for one book and that was expensive. I met the other two in the pub and played a couple of games with pool. In the real world, Eric and FT Kate are hustler standard of good at the game. I'm shit at it. Generally, I play first (winner stays on), just to get my game over, because it's more a case can they beat their personal best at time taken to beat me, rather than whether I'll win. I beat FT Kate! I was winning the second game as well, until about five locals came into the pool room to wait for a game. I went to pieces with folk watching and Kate rose to the audience. She won. But I BEAT FT KATE AT POOL!! I don't even think she was letting me win...

All of this was great to start with, particularly since the night before had been so good too, but then we went to the Black Mountains.

OHOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOW!! I love the Black Mountains. My gt-granny came from Blaenavon, nr Abergavenny, so I have roots in the area. I was initiated up there. I have been up there for various Sabbats. I've performed some of my strongest magic up there. I've astralled there and I've been there in my mind so many times. It is physically the most beautiful place I know. It feels like the strongest place I know. Kate asked me on Sunday if this place is bigger than Glastonbury Tor to me, and I unhesitantly said, 'Yes'. At midnight, on my 30th birthday, Ian, Jim and I were up on the Black Mountains, as I'd asked if we could go there at 9pm while it was raining. They agreed and we got there for midnight, then came home. It feeds my soul.

With all the shite last week, Bex e-mailed me and said that I ought to go to the Black Mountains and chill out. Kate had already said she'd take me anywhere, so I called and asked her. That's how we got to be there on Sunday. I've been there millions of times - I was there only four weeks ago, when I took Georgia, BS Kate and Phoenix - but this is only the second time I've been driven over them. It's usually me doing the driving, which involves a lot of concentration on that road. This time, I got to look at scenery (while bouncing like an over-excited child), while Kate manovenured us around the twists and turns.

Second the car had stopped, I was out there, running bare-foot across Hay Bluff, with the wind in my hair. Already free, uncoiling on the spot. However, I knew that high wind and open mountains was a bad combination in convincing Eric to stay up there, so I ran down the side of the mountain to the place I remembered from before. Once in it, we were sheltered and it was quite warm. I ran back up to the top and Kate and Eric said later that if nothing else had happened that weekend, then the look on my face at that moment in time was enough. The pair of them went into huge grins looking at me and I just ran to the car.

We all ended up in my place, lying on blankets and my cloak. I've photos, which I'll add later, watching clouds, looking at the mountain range spreading away, above, below and alongside us, then watching the sunset. Afterwards, Kate went back to the car, so she could listen to REM in this environment. That cures her soul too. Eric and I stayed and chatted. Suddenly, it was as if the years peeled away and I was his padawain again. I asked him if he'd initiate me now and he said, 'No'. I just nodded, because I doubt that I'd initiate me to the third degree right now. Eric went on that I'd have to learn about selectivity and honouring myself, before he'd initiate me. Too bloody late really, seeing as he initiated me over half a decade ago. ;-) I've taken off my HPS pendant btw, it's currently around the neck of a mannaquin in Kate's house.

We had a good long cant, me and Eric, before he went back to the car and left me to it. I sat there for ages, wrapped in my cloak on a rocky outcrop overlooking everything. The sun had set, but it was full moon (give or take a night), so the whole valley and mountain range was lit up by one very bright moon. My mind emptied and when I considered each thing individually, the issues were so clear and the answers just there. I sat in the silence and heard my own voice again.

I made my way back to the car and turned up just as Kate texted me to see as I was ok. *grin* We drove down the mountain in full view of the moon now (it was in the south west) and IT WAS SO GORGEOUS! I was babbling away, so full of the moment and myself, and kept saying, "Oh thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!" to Kate and Eric. They were just giggling at me and every so often one of them would cuddle me.

A moment of revelation. If any songs are the soundtrack to 2004, they are 'Country Feedback' and 'Leave'. There's a lyric in 'Leave' which I've always sang as, 'where is my trust in what I believe?' Halfway down the mountain, soul still ringing from the help that came and cants with the Goddess, 'Leave' came on the stereo. I heard Kate sing and realized I'd got my words wrong all along, Michael Stipe sings, 'THERE is my trust in what I believe.' Beautiful synchronicity.

The journey back to Kate's was brilliant too, singing along to 60s music. Then we carried on our little party once we were back gone midnight.

By six, we were still going strong, so I drove us up to Kate's Hill, in Dudley, where we watched the dawn rising on my birthday over a panoramic view of the Black Country. We were a little confused as to the direction of things, and were looking out over the Black Country wondering if we'd missed it. Then I turned around and the dawn was happening behind our backs! LOL We watched it rise though, it was only the preliminaries that we missed by facing west.

Back at Kate's again and it was a music marathon, as she played just about every song in her considerable CD collection, while the tea, coffee and hot chocolate came in an endless stream from the kitchen. At one time, I was the entertainment, as I was so out of it making a brew. *giggle* I also got to open my cards and presents - which had come from all over the world and Britain! I thought I only had two presents, as everyone is giving me money (my finances kind of demand that), but Kate suddenly produced another - the Damien Rice CD. :-D

When we were suitably vegging, Eric performed TS Eliot's 'The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock'. By performed, I mean performed. He wove a spell that had me right there in the poem until he finished and me and Kate broke into applause. It was amazing! One of those you had to be there moments. He's a bloody good actor, is our Ez.

Sometime during the day, I went out into Kate's garden and just sat there listening to the silence, watching the clouds and the wind in the leaves of the overhanging trees, smelling the perfume of her garden. I got that Black Mountain feeling there too, affirming to me that I can chill out in a Black Country garden. I opened 'it' up and heard things walking around me, voices and the such, and smiled. Then I did Chandan Lohia's pure waters meditation, which worked beautifully.

Come late afternoon and I'm back on the settee, with Kate emerging from the kitchen with a cattapillar birthday cake (I'm 12, I counted the candles), singing her own specially adapted version of 'Happy Birthday'. I made three wishes and we cut the cake, then it was time for Eric to go.

Kate and I sat on her settee afterwards putting the world to rights. We discussed some of the major issues in my life and she gave me her take on them. She told me that she had been worried about me on Saturday, but the difference between then and now was astounding. I'd come back to myself. In the finish, I didn't make it home, but Kate and I sat watching telly until bedtime.

There are now photos from my birthday adventures here.


Sunday, August 29, 2004

"It forms when darkness
Is increased by one..."

I don't remember my dream last night, but I know that I had 'Chapter 24' playing on the internal jukebox when I awoke.

I'm chilling out. Yesterday, I had my Mum canting with me about my stress levels and trying to get me to go with her to Tai Chai. She wouldn't let me leave the house without eating something, so I had a crumpet with cheese on it and took 3 pizzas with me to FT Kate's.

Kate's was like Piccadilly Circus, with folk popping in, staying for a cuppa, going, then we'd start to talk and someone else would turn up. But in the finish, we got there, me basically going on about all the things I've canted about in previous blogs, plus some. I can tell by the way she is with me that she's on Keep Johnny Calm mode. She played an entire Syd album for a start.

She had some good advice though. She's not Pagan, but has known me long enough to blag it quite well. Actually, she says she's not Pagan, but she's more Pagan than half the Pagans I know. LOL It's cool though, because she can cut through all of the bullshit and relate things back to things in the past; she knows what language to cant with me in. By the finish, I was feeling a lot calmer about things.

Then Eric turned up. :-D After that, things lightened considerably as they allowed Matilda Mother to come out to play. For most of the night, we stayed in, with goodies, whiskey, hot chocolate etc., singing, dancing to music, generally playing nicely. We did go out for the sunset though. I suggested we go up Sedgley Beacon and, when I sussed that you can see Shropshire from up there, I mused on taking some whiskey up there to toast WM Mike. I'd just got to the 'just nipping to the car to get a plastic bottle' stage, when Kate produced a birthday present for me.

"I know it's early, but I really think you should open this now."

So I did. It's a hip-flask and she's engraved it with: I Promise To Go Wandering. I just stared at it in shock! How perfect is that for me?! And just when it was needful.

But moreover, that quote invokes a whole place and time in my life. When I first decided to creep out from behind everyone else's shadow and stand on my own two feet. It was Glastonbury 2002 and me unafraid to wander off on my own, having adventures. I remember it as idyllic, floating in a haze of potentiality and spirituality, no real responsibilities, just being what I can be. Therefore, that engraving is also timely - it reminded me that I promised to go wandering... on so many different levels. I did that ok! LOL

Sedgley Beacon was gorgeous. From up there you can see most of the Black Country on three sides, lights twinkling all over like thousands of campfires across the hills. On the fourth side is Shropshire - the Wrekin, the Long Mynd, the Stipperstones. On a clear day, I could swear I can make out Caer Caradoc and the Stretton Hills. Kate, Eric and I sat on chairs, drinking whiskey from my hip-flask (except Kate, who after the first sip decided she hates and detests whiskey). In four different locations, on the Black Country side, folk were letting off fireworks. We watched them across the miles. Beautiful, beautiful sight. The more sparsely populated Shropshire drew murky after dark, while the Black Country shone. I drank to WM Mike, then turned and viewed my roots. This Black Country where I will never be anything more than myself.

We came down and back to Kate's, where we sang and danced some more. I am content.


Friday, August 27, 2004


'Dark mother always gliding near with soft feet,
Have none chanting for thee a chant of fullest welcome?
Then I chant it for thee, I glorify thee above all,
I bring thee a song that when thou must indeed come, come

'When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd'
Walt Whitman

'Where is my trust in what I believe...?

I was always the dark priestess, when it came to on or off-line priestessing and if there was a choice of priestesses. I'm the one who rang our entire family with the news that Nan had died, one by one, delivering the news that they had lost their mother, grandmother or sister. I was the one who then drove around ensuring that no-one grieved alone.

When folk die in the lives of friends, it could be anyone who responds, but I've always felt like the one most 'comfortable' for want of a better word. I'll 'phone them and cant with them about it. The dark priestess. Not just in death. I see my role as the first port of call in matters of madness, war, attack, all of the above. The catcher in the rye, in the sense that I understand this:

That is my place in time, except folk aren't generally children and can usually see the bloody cliff. Half the time, I'm just climbing down to get them off the ledge halfway down.

So what went wrong?

Nick Aylett, Clive Southall, Cham Patel, Kathy Davies and Warriormail Mike. All in the space of four months.

Those are just my friends. Me and Mum were canting either and she named another four people, all in their late teens or early twenties, who have died or been killed on our estate in the past two months.

I feel like I've not stopped mourning in living memory. WM Mike's funeral was today. I went to the other four funerals and was a wreck at Nick's. By Kathy's, I'm just glad that Aud was there. I've been pushing it all inside, but none of these people deserved to die. At least three of them were my hero(ine)s before they died.

By the time Mike died on 22nd August, I was hysterical at the news. I haven't eaten properly in two weeks, what with one thing or another, and I'm currently ashen and looking very drawn. It's only today that I've felt like I can function outside a haze, so I know I'll be alright. Monday night, I just sobbed and sobbed for them all and for the past decade. Mike's death broke my heart, but I think it was also the release for the other four.

I'm not guarding the cliff at the moment, but, as Anna pointed out, I'm not the priestess for this moment.


The Wolverhampton Moot

The Wolves Moot and me by Johnny aged 31 and 363 days

By November 2003, when Magenta (Jennie) was trying to talk me into going to the Wolverhampton Pagan Moot, I had already met five of their number... and there were only eight of them to start with. Even I could manage that!

Every couple of weeks/month on the Grove, you get the Vegas lot talking about their cacklefest and it sounds like fun. That month, I'd also met up with some of the Grovers in Glastonbury. Though I'd hidden behind FT Kate for much of it, I still managed to calm down enough to be completely relaxed by the finish. I just hadn't realized that Bella, Brian, Ocean and Graham were going so early, or else I'd have made an even greater effort to calm down or get over it. None of them bit me. They were all lovely people - the absolute greatness of Bella; her confident husband, Brian, who can put anyone at ease within seconds of meeting him; gentle, shy Howard, who's nothing like he's like on computer in real life; his beautiful wife, Tzer; quiet Ocean, whom I've only slightly got to know since, but who I didn't really get to speak to much that day; and her Graham, who I still haven't got to cant with. It was a brilliant day! Cabochon, FT Kate and I were buzzing with it all the way home.

With all of that in mind, with my new-found Witchgrove-related confidence and my zest to make Grovers happy, I gave in and agreed to go to the Moot with Magenta.

I didn't meet her until about half seven, in the Moon Under Water. Before that, I'd been working on my MA and answering WG e-mails, so to keep my mind off it. It came time to go and I locked up the office, got out the door, around the corner and had to run back inside to the loo to throw up.

Years ago, in the height of the aftermath, a friend had said to me, 'If you can only communicate by writing it down, then write it down. Even if the person who needs the message is in the same room.' It's a well established fact that me with a pen in my hand (or a keyboard under my fingers) is a totally different kettle of fish to me verbally and physically interacting with folk.

Still I went. I met Magenta, Mandy, Robbie and Ann-Marie in the Moon Under Water and was bought a drink. I wasn't expecting that. Magenta is like a big sister, but with a lot of Mother energy, and you can't help but end up under her wing in situations like that. I made it to the moot hiding under her wing and showing them for once and for all that Mab isn't entirely what she's cracked up to be in terms of confidence.

I did nearly calm down in the Moot itself. I spoke... But I spent the entire thing trying not to run to throw up again with nerves. At around half 10, I made some excuse and fled. On the way back to the car, I was canting with Kate M on my mobile, telling her that it wasn't for me and I doubted I'd be back.

I missed the December 2003 Moot.

By the January, BS Kate and Magenta were launching a joint campaign to get Wulfrunian Grovers to the Moot. There were plenty of those now! It seemed that a new pagan was cropping up around every corner and I was directing them all to the Grove, where they were being introduced to the idea of the Moot. One member, Ebony, asked if I'd be there and if so, she was coming too. She and I had a long off-list, where it was obvious that she was as nervous as I was. We promised to both attend. Ariadne came too, equally nervous.

I was prepared this time. Four 'Quiet Life' tablets, Bach Flower Remedy and whiskey. It went really well.

The next Moot it swelled even more - all of them Witchgrovers who had come after Moot members had bigged it up on the Grove. The regulars seemed completely stunned; I lost the ability (forever) to hear at a Moot. There was a blot held by the Heathens and I asked if I could watch. I was invited to join and at the end of it, the final toast was to me, to thank me for their upsurge in membership. I was honoured and graciously acknowledged it on behalf of Witchgrove, though the initial work had been BS Kate and Magenta, it had been the rest of us eversince. Magenta said that the addition of Grovers to the Moot had filled two pages in her register. I was also asked to be the Wiccan element of the Ogma Course (introduction to Paganism) and I accepted.

At the March Moot, it was decided that trustees were needed to take care of the money being raised every month. I was asked to be a trustee, which surprised me, but I was happy to help out. The Moot was still growing, still being filled with Grovers. I was still tanking myself up with 'Quiet Life' and Bach Flower Remedy in order to be there, but I was relaxing more while I was there. I even talked Jamie into running Witchgrove Junior.

By the April Moot, I'd crashed and was in a considerable amount of pain. It was also slightly awkward in that a member had upset another member. As both were Grovers, I didn't know if I was to be intervening (am I the Mod outside the group as well? I don't know...). In considering that, it suddenly came to me that not only was I NOT a mod at the Moot, but what if the Moot's organizer was feeling insecure about the Witchgrove element? After all, it looked and felt like an invasion, and he couldn't have known that I'm pretty useless face to face, and moreover, completely deaf. I put at the back of my mind two things: a) I wasn't going to mention WG at the Moot; and b) I wasn't going to try to organize, intervene with or act as any kind of leader of any stripe at the Moot. I'd take the Wiccan questions and that's it. I even said to someone (probably Laura) that I'd only carry on going to the Moot as long as it was fun. That became a mantra.

I didn't actually share these thoughts with anyone, just made myself determined that the two would be separate entities, despite the fact that, at that moment in time, all but one Moot member was a member of Witchgrove and that member wasn't on-line. I was starting to get so worried about this sort of thing. Another Grove member had mistaken me for the group's owner, which always freaks me out, and that just transferred onto the Moot. Someone had mistaken me for the Moot's owner and, though I'd passed the e-mail onto Singe, it worried me deeply. Had this been out in the open, Cerr might have e-mailed Singe and warned him to stamp on this before I panicked and ran away. But she was dealing with her own shit, coupled with my panic attacking about the Grove by then. There had been an emergency Mod meeting in March to calm down just this sort of thing. I missed any mention of Witchgrove from my usual introduction line, but Singe called across, 'And Witchgrove', so I added it.

What was impossible for any of us involved to know was that the whiplash had messed with my mind and emotions. For a very physical reason, I wasn't thinking logically at all anymore. I nearly left the Moot then, because it was hard work in my emotional state, but I figured I'd wait until after the Moot camp, see how I felt then. All the crap with Witchgrove had taught me that my perception was out of sinc anyway. ALL of the Mods were on Operation Talk Johnny Down in March and April. In my mind it ran something like this: People think I'm the owner of Witchgrove, so therefore people might think I'm the organizer of the Moot. SINGE might think I'm stealing his glory, CERR might think I'm stealing her glory, the MODS might think I'm stealing their glory. OHFUCKOHFUCKOHFUCKOHFUCK Get me out of the bloody spotlight.

By the May Moot, I was a lot calmer. I wasn't to know that that was the chemicals in my brain re-aligning after my brain was shaken in my head back in March; it was the doctor who provided that tit-bit, though Kass and Saoirse had tried to warn me IN March. Calmer doesn't necessarily equate logical, of course, it just means that I'm working out how to accept it.

A gang of us went down to Glastonbury and that was fun! I was nervous as Hell though, because it was Cabochon's initiation. In the run-up to that, there was a lot of faffing around at the bottom of the Tor, which only served to make me want to a) throw up; b) lash out; or c) faint. Fortunately, Ian was there. I looked at him, remembered the past decade, linked arms with him and started us walking up the Tor. There was Laura and Magenta panicking through vertigo, which kind of took my mind off the fact that I was about to do this ritual in front of everyone, and once they'd found an equalibrium, I quickly got the ritual happening.

As always happens, once in there, with my circle raised and my athame in my head, I click into something bigger and more powerful than me. I can do it because there are no other options. I'm the priestess that I always dreamed of being, but can never quite pull off in life. Afterwards the buzz was amazing again and this carried over into the evening and the Moot following it.

I felt like I now had it sussed. Just don't mention Witchgrove at the Moot; and ensure that everyone knows that I'm just the mod on the Grove. I was finding my feet emotionally and trying to play catch up on all the folk I felt I'd let down. I pushed myself, work-load wise, to the maximum... less than a month after Anna had had to reply to e-mails on my behalf, because I couldn't cope.

In May I became the High Priestess caricature. I was everywhere at once, calming, soothing, advising, offering help, supporting, recommending. By the end of the month, I was so exhausted that I stood in BS Kate and Phoenix's lounge falling to sleep on my feet, at 6 in the evening, as they got their stuff together, too tired to even sit down. Phoenix made me a cuppa and it felt too heavy to hold. I sat and sipped and reached inside for energy. None. So I reached into my handbag for energy and that worked. Then I drove us over to Clun for the Moot camp.

The Moot camp was fun. I did a lot of laughing, but there were moments of frustration too - missing a whole evening of chilling because I was trying to fix my tent; some tension on the following day. I left Clun on the Sunday to drive home and nearly fell asleep at the wheel on the M54.

The June Moot was full of ideas for petitioning the council to provide us with a building or some land. It looked as though everything was coming together. I practically had to sit on my hands not to volunteer to help with the steering committee, but I was trying to be sensible. I was exhausted, still in pain, trying to sort my mental shit out and generally worn out. I should not be volunteering for steering committees.

I was also getting close to finishing the typing of 'Priestess' and some very old demons were re-surfacing. It had become one of those head down and get it done moments, because this was for the greater good. I'd started bloody haunting myself, as described in its epilogue. But as long as I could finish it by the Festival, and as long as I could work all the projects I was involved in into some conclusion by the Festival, it was all going to be ok. I played a lot of Syd on the internal jukebox.

Also in those weeks, I started getting tip offs that a couple of Moot members were sounding people out about me. Things like, 'she's not as knowledgable as she makes out' or 'she's trying to take over the Moot' or 'she's bringing Witchgrove into it too much, when it's not a Witchgrove Moot'. Most of the comments were laughable, so I did. They didn't touch me at all. What did touch was after the newly created mid-Moot, when I was asked to post the dates of Georgia's visit to the Moot group, I was basically slapped as that was a Witchgrove matter. I off-listed and asked if we needed to talk, as this was precisely what I'd been panicking about happening back in April. No response.

I put it all on a back-burner; had a long cant with Laura, who basically told me to drop everything, type out 'Priestess', go to the Glastonbury Festival and come back refreshed enough to deal with the questions raised from 'Priestess'. So I did. The slight technical hitch being that no questions were asked and there was still no response asking about the Moot/Witchgrove situation until right before the next Moot. The response told me that Singe agreed and that was that.

I think disillusioned just about covers it. It was injury induced paranoia before - it hit the Grove as well, but Cerr, Anna, Georgia, Roxanne, Chelle and Cabochon had it covered and brought me down to land safely. The Moot I was only staying with while it was fun. Fundamentally, it was still fun, but I'd been tasting Pagan politics with the Pagan Headstone Campaign and now it was happening up close and personal with the Moot.

I offered to leave, and in my 'Priestess' disillusioned state of mind was quite relieved at the thought. No more straining to hear in order to participate; no more wondering what the Hell was going on, even in positive situations; no more rushing back after a Moot or a camp in order to try and catch up on all the things I'd dropped to go there. However, I was talked into staying by the fact that these individuals marked off people one at a time. The signs were that Aud would be next, unless I drew the fire. I'd just learned about Tyr. He was turning up everywhere. My mind was full of 'Mara's' bitterness and anger at waiting for the cavalry to turn up. I'm the sort of person who, when bitter and growing a chip on my shoulder, I pull out all the stops to make the world a better place. It failed me, but it won't fail the next person along. Especially when the next person along is Aud. Plus Georgia would be at the next Moot. I wasn't going anywhere. I metaphorically put my hand in Fenris's mouth and shut the fuck up. And that was the July Moot.

By the August Moot, there are a lot of rumours and ideas flying around. It felt like it was going to be a make or break kind of Moot; but also very different, because of the presense of Georgia. It was also quieter and so I could hear at least Georgia, Aud and those floating around the table. The two, who I'd been told didn't like me one bit, were absent, and the tension just floated away from me. I quite enjoyed it! That Moot convinced me to put the memory of the politics behind me and carry on going for a while. There was also a newcomer, who needed advice from an Alexandrian Wiccan. That'll be me then. I saw how I could be useful in the Moot. Also Singe announced that there were going to be guidelines from now on, so that newcomers to the Moot felt welcomed. I wholeheartedly agreed and left with the knowledge that I'd either be at the September Moot because it was going to be fun again; or else there was no need for me to be there, because Aud was no longer in the firing line.

The decision was put off until after Shambala, when I was planning to do my 'removing fingers from pies' thing. I did remove fingers and I don't think I lost a hand doing it. However, I still haven't made this decision. It all got too much on the night I left so many over things, then the death of Mike and now this serious soul-searching.

I haven't come down to land on it. Maybe Singe's guidelines would provide that, but does it match my criteria? Is it needful, is it fun, is it a rock of my life? Not if I've constantly got to put my hand in the mouth of a chaotic wolf, no. Not if I'm constantly struggling to participate because, at the end of the day, I'm deaf, no. Neither of those are fun. Needful? Not really. I've learned about group dynamics and how Moots work, but the purpose of Moots is to feel part of a Pagan community - Witchgrove provides that with knobs on, and I can hear in there.

A rock of my life... It would leave a lot of people feeling very paranoid; but most of them read this blog and know the context.

I really ought to decide quickly, because it's nearly time for the Moot. But I have a birthday and some chilling out on the mountains to do first. I'll probably decide on the day.



You know, I feel a lot better now. But I still need to analyze all of this somewhere outside of my head. FtE asked me how publically I plan to have my breakdown. I replied that I'm not planning on having one.


Witchgrove and Me, by Johnny aged 31 and 360 days.

Once upon a time, I was brand new to computers. I got onto the computer up the library with the help of the librarian and looked up Syd Barrett and genealogy things for £1.50 for half an hour. Then Auntie Gwen died and left me with enough money to half buy one. I got the rest on the HP. That was 2000. I started joining Yahoo pagan groups, because my friend put me onto them, one of which was the precursor to Witchgrove. I joined that in autumn 2001 and it got deleted in March 2002.

I was at Lady Kenco's house when that happened, with a mod from the previous group, hence we got the major gossip by sheer dint of being there when the 'phone calls were flying around. I got my invitation to Witchgrove the night it was born - one of about 60-100 is my guess, though it might be far less. I was in and very relieved.

That didn't last long. Before too long, I started getting the first whispers on the grapevine. I'd been psychically attacking folk, I'd been irresponsible, I'd been that, I'd been this. I didn't have a clue what was going on, as I'd just considered myself pretty much a pleb on the previous group. I was there to learn, nothing else, though I'd share if I could contribute at all. I mentioned the rumours to some close friends, including Cerr. I was told not to afret, there was a lot of it going around and I was just the latest.

We couldn't have known then that I wasn't. There was someone out there feeling very threatened by me (though I wasn't alone). To this very day, there will occasionally be someone who pops up saying, 'I've heard something very disturbing about you and I don't know what to make of it.' IF that happens, I will hear them out and try very hard not to be negative about the person(s) passing on those stories. This blog right now is the most open I've ever been about it. There IS no way to defend myself, so I'll just say to them, 'what you've heard boils down to my word against hers. I'll not put you in a position where you have to choose between us and I'll not blame you for being wary of me. All I ask is that you look at what you know of me and what you know of her, then make your own mind up.'

That's the most fair I can be. To me it feels like that Biblical story where Solomon (or was it David?) tests who is the mother by offering to cut the baby in half. I'll not have my friends cut in half. Does it hurt? You bet it does, but over the years, I've found that those I actually care about have ultimately come to me and said, 'I believe you.' There was one person who wavered for so long, but she had been the most hurt in the psychic attack. I didn't blame her wavering at all, because she had to be sure of herself and defend her own. I didn't try to tell her my side of things, but tell her come to her own conclusions. In the past few months, she did and she came to let me know that she trusted me. That moment was pure relief for me, though I tried hard not to show it. It was as if I'd had my y gwir erbyn ar y byd on the subject.

In the meantime though, I'd worked out for myself that the psychic attacks had had to have come from somewhere. One of my friends (very sadly now gone) went through the past files and proved very well that it was either me or the other person. I had one up on everyone else, I knew that it wasn't me. This meant that I was uniquely in the position of knowing that someone else was not only dangerous but irresponsible and callous as well - a woman who'd step on any heads to make her point. I set myself the task of defending the less experienced folk, without ever mentioning it to anyone, outside a tight, small circle of friends. I got caught, of course, but only by two people, who put two and two together. One of whom was meant to work it out seeing as it was aimed at her, the other was just very clever.

Against this backdrop, I was a member of Witchgrove. Not a very good member at times, as I lurked mostly, though I did read all of the posts. Every so often I'd post a long waffle, then drifted back into the lurkers' lounge. Sometimes I was on a lot, but nothing major. Cerr has always been very careful to ensure no egos or crap is brought onto the group; on the whole, there hasn't even been this amongst the membership to keep off-list, though there have been attacks from external sources. Cerr battered them down with professionalism and let them go. I only found out about them much later!

Then, one day, Cerr posted to list something about how quiet it was on there and generally chatted. It wasn't a POST NOW e-mail, at least that isn't how it came across, but it caught my attention. I looked and realized that the Grove was getting ridiculously quiet and it niggled in my mind. I remember driving across the Dudley by-pass thinking of all the things that could be done to make it a lovely place. Two days later, I was driving back still thinking of these, then I went on line. None of them were necessary - the Grove was as chatty as ever, with such a gorgeous feeling to it. I sat back and thought about the achievement of Cerr, Chelle, Anna and Cabochon in creating such a place, which I took for granted. I promised myself there and then to post more and contribute more in whatever way I could, then I wrote a waffling e-mail telling everyone this. Me being me and all.

Moreover, I was going to stop concentrating on the darkness and start balancing that in myself with the lightness. More Witchgrove loving to balance the Kindly Ones ranting and fury; more looking at the good in people, as WG demonstrated, and less looking to see who was hurting me and mine. See if I could be the sort of priestess who folk could come to for something other than war. At the time, I should imagine that those who really knew me saw that in much the same light as we now all view FtE telling us he's going to be more like his brother and not hold grudges from now on.

I jumped into Witchgrove with both feet and suddenly there were Mab, Mab, Mab blogs and off-list e-mails off Cerr thanking me. I felt very grinny. Then there was a blot out of the blue - Cabochon was leaving the Grove, on one of his sabbaticals. This left a vacancy for a Mod, would I like to be one? ME?! I remember staring at the screen for a good few minutes, going from shock to blushing to shock to wondering to shock. ME?! I thought of the calibre of other Grovers - the like of Minerva Ravenwing for a start - and it kept coming back to ME?! Then I spotted that word before 'mod' - British. Ah! That made it a little more understandable, as there were only about three of us at the time! I accepted, proud, thrilled, honoured, shitting myself.

I got invited into the Mods group and found a whole world that I'd known nothing about. All the people who hurled abuse at the mods, whom Cerr had dealt with calmly and dignified, but had sheltered us all from it. I came to understand - as bright a light as the Grove has to cast a long, dark shadow. The shadow is only really seen from the Mods group and it can be an ugly thing. I learned utter and total respect for Cerr, Chelle, Anna and Cabochon. I felt like Queen Victoria, being told she was now Queen - 'I will be good.' I would do my best to help with the Grove.

To be honest, I was a shit Mod. I didn't do a single, solitary thing without checking with Cerr and Anna first. They might as well have done it themselves! I think that the only thing I did without checking first was to look those bouncing and send the reactivation things. I don't think I've ever (even now) deleted someone's membership because of bouncing for months - I was too worried about Cerr shouting! LOL She's even given us guidelines of when to do that, and I still pretend I haven't seen it and hide until she deletes them herself. *blush*

The first time I ever did anything of use, that I couldn't do as a member, was after Ivy Wolfmoon suggested that a web-site be nice. I'd been experimenting with an idiot proof site for my genealogy and asked if I could play. The first WG site was very basic. You load a picture and it places it for you. You have a box to enter text in. I was so nervous doing it, but determined to contribute. Poor Cerr and Anna must have wondered if it it was worth all the hassle, as I checked on just about everything I did on it! It stalled for ages, as I waited for permission to do such and such or had to learn how to do the other. There was no way of adding the code for not stealing pictures, that held it up for ages.

In the end, I was told that this code could not be added to that, it could only go onto a complex web-page, involving ftp server and other foreign concepts. I turned to the Friends of the Heroes, where Rachel and Grainne patiently taught me how to do what was needful. Then I turned to google and the search 'html + *insert thing*' The web-site as it looks now took hours and hours and hours of frustration, waiting for permission, wanting to put the computer through the window. In the end I broke and stopped waiting for permission. Without knowing it, I was starting to become a mod, this after a memorable night when I wiped the floor with WM Mike for daring to interupt me after I'd just accidentally deleted a page that had taken me half a day to write. Cerr intervened and calmed tempers, I apologized.

In the background, Cerr wasn't do so well. Medical treatment followed by the early stages of pregnancy meant that she wasn't as calm as usual and her massive workload couldn't be crowbarred into the times between throwing up and needing to lie down before she fell down. All lists ebb and flow, this was one of the quieter times; but also one of WG's most consistent critics was back and we were all on edge. Cerr let it get to her one night and got upset about everything in her world. I couldn't do much about 90% of it, but I could do something about the quietness of Witchgrove. The pie chart did that accidentally, but me posting 20 million e-mails was my main cunning plan, coupled with modding how Cerr modded as much as I could.

I also nervously passed on my idea for a weekly discussion, which would ensure at least one pagan related e-mail a week. Cerr and Anna liked that idea and we coincided Cerr's introductory discussion - 'Wiccaning' - with the launch of the web-site. I was utterly determined to get her proof that all was well with the Grove at least, so she could stop fretting and concentrate on everything else, so I went on a manic round of talking people into introducing a subject. That worked.

So October 2003... that's when I look back now and say I started to change. After 31 years of being the 'officially difficult' one, whom you mainly spoke to via the like of FT Kate, and who did not play well with other people, suddenly I was one of two people stepping up into the spotlight to cover Cerr. My name was all over the Grove. I was responding to posts that I wouldn't normally respond to. I was canting with people off-list about things. I was gaining confidence daily, though I wasn't yet ready for compliments. If a Grover had a project, I was there supporting it or, in the case of the Pagan Headstone Campaign, right there in the forerunning of it. Instead of watching, I was daring to act. Seizing every new idea offered up by the Grove and running with it. Cerr was kept informed, but I no longer asked her and Anna for permission to breathe.

In December, I took a chance. One of the Grovers was unable to introduce the subject of 'Christmas', and an urgent, last minute replacement was needed. I knew of one Grover who feared and detested Christmas. I thought it through. Would a weekly discussion help him come to terms with the ghosts of Christmasses past? I asked him, this time consciously trying to be a HPS. Hours later, he agreed to it and it was stunning: Christmas by Warriormail Mike.

Through Christmas, into January, I was starting to feel pretty cocky. Time after time, my instincts were proving spot on; either by luck or uncanny knowing, things kept falling into place. I stood on Cadar Idris at the end of January feeling as though I'd finally passed through the Judgement card phase of my life and heading into The World. In the cottage behind me, I was to sit with old, old friends and one was to explain something very basic to me about Paganism, as he didn't think I'd know it. I didn't want to say out loud what I was thinking, because it sounded like arrogance. But damned, arrogance is a crap concept. I tried to tell them, but I'd had a bit too much and the words weren't coming out. I got locked inside my own head, with all of my achievements laid out in front of me, realizing suddenly the enormity of what I was up to and just how high my star was blazing.

That's when it first started to fall again. It's a little like when the cartoon characters keep running and suddenly realize they've gone over a cliff. They hang in the air for a while, then fall. I hung in the air for a few months, because I got distracted.

There was a thread on the Grove, which turned very deep and heart-felt. Folk talking about their suicide attempts and depressions, their madness, addictions etc - things which had been over years before and survived to make them the dudes as they are now. I contributed to it, but pulled back right at the edge of telling about 1994. Pixie e-mailed me to tell me not to tell because I felt like I had to. They loved me enough to not need to know. I was shedding layers of soul and didn't know it. Pixie could see it a mile off and warned me.

By now, I was basking in the glow of having been accepted for a new job. I was having people big me up left, right and centre, and I wasn't allowing myself to transmute that into insult in my own head. I was letting myself fly higher and higher and calling it gaining confidence. I ignored Pixie and did possibly the most stupid thing in my life: I typed up 'Priestess' and put it on-line. While I was doing so, I had a car-crash which left me in a lot of pain; followed less than a month later by the deaths of Nick Aylett and Clive Southall, within a few days of each other.

That's when the bubble burst. That's when I realized that I had run off a cliff. That's when I noticed that there were no safety nets underneath me. The fall used to be a lot shorter than this. Other things have occurred while I've been falling, but those are for another blog. It took from Samhain to Beltane to rise (more or less) and it's so far taken from Beltane to fall. Presumably I'm on course to hit the ground around the end of October, unless I learn how to fly first.

I think I might as well learn how to fly.

But me and Witchgrove - since the crash, I've twice tried to leave and twice been headed off at the pass. There are now two more mods - Georgia and Roxanne - who provide the missing links and the team now is brilliant. I seem to have metamorphosed from the annoying mod who did sod all and asked permission for the rest into the capable mod who could run the Grove in the absense of Cerr and/or Anna. Cerr's now 95% back and rising, and so she's taking the reins more and more. She's practically got them full time again now. That makes me feel very relieved! And I'm pretty sure that I did live up to their faith in me, even now. I'll not be leaving now.


Thursday, August 26, 2004

"Echoes far away..."

Been thinking, it's not fair for folk to be guessing what's going on. I gave up the luxury of shutting up years ago and folk very dear to me deserve to know.

"Nobody knows where you are, How near or how far..."

I'm reeling from one of the most intense years I've ever experienced. This time last year, I was floating on a haze of Glastonbury and Shambala, full of spirit and contentment. I've had cause to look through e-mails from precisely a year ago over the past couple of days, looking for WM Mike quotes on Temenach. I wasn't happy where I was working, but not unhappy, otherwise life was fine.

Spiritually, I was your average, slightly insecure, Wiccan wench. Some months before, I'd been asked to moderate Witchgrove. I was still tentatively working out what I was and was not allowed to do; and I was desperately hoping that I'd live up to the honour of being asked to do that. We were still a month away from learning html in order to do the WG web-site. I was still reading Diana Gabaldon books and joining in on the DG group. I had just had the idea for the weekly discussions, but was nervous about mentioning it to Cerr and Anna.

Other than that, I suppose I was a little bored and after challenges. After the annual birthday tension (someone always dies, argues or something bad has happened on about 29 of the 31 birthdays that I've had so far, the 32nd has proved no exception, as the death of WM Mike came 8 days before my birthday and two days after FT Kate and I had discussed the fact that something major always does happen, but it's paranoia to assume the same for this year.) Last year, nothing happened. :-D

Here's the biggies as I remember them happening next. (I tried to do this by month, but it was confusing me, so I've deleted and started again.)

Let's start with the biggest thing (excepting family, friends etc.) in my life this year: Witchgrove.

I have changed utterly as a person due to that place, growing into my confidence and finally becoming the HPS that I was initiated into years ago. Cerr is right, titles don't matter, but I've been trying it on for size this year, as you would a new dress, and so High Priestess have been two words as big as Priestess was a decade ago.

Let me first tell you about Cerridwyn Morgainne - Cerr - Shonna. She's the listmomma, as she puts it, of the Grove and bloody good at it. She's so good at it that it's only recently and due entirely to my panic attacks, that it's quite clear she IS the owner of Witchgrove, not me. She's more the sort of leader who slots the right people into the right jobs and let's them get on with it. I've not yet worked out if she's a genius or incredibly lucky, though she's definitely perceptive. I've spent a year trying to either live up to her faith in me or trying to emulate her. I'll never be the HPS that she is, but I've learned a lot about the HPS I can be. She's an amazing teacher.

There are about 11 people in the world who get to see my panic attacks on a regular basis and she's one of them. Someone once said that you need a manual and several years of training to handle me (I'm quite high maintenance), but it's worth persevering with. I'm the officially difficult one in any gang, which isn't blatantly obvious if you aren't one of those six. I think that from the outside looking in, I look like the easy-going one. Next time anyone says, 'Mab is really lovely, calm and patient' just don't look at FT Kate, Ian, Jim, Shonna, Anna, Georgia, FtE, Fforestelf, WM Mike, Lenny, Eric or Kate M's faces. Roxanne, Chelle and Scott kind of had a crash course in that. There are others who have witnessed moments as well.

Cerr decided that this insecure wreck of a witch would make a good mod of WG. I'm still working out if she was right or not, but I'm 90% sure that she was. When I shine there, I dazzle; when I don't, then there are the others to work on Mab handling and damage limitation. I don't really do anything between the two extremes. One thing is certain, Cerr (and Anna, as I'm sure it needed her vote too) took this wench and made a HPS of her in the past year. She forced me to interact with others, when, until now, there's pretty much been a 'does not play well with others' tattoo on my forehead and told me that she trusted my judgement so many million times, that I started to trust my own judgement.

(I'll finish this later)

I've had a compilation tape on repeat in my car for the past three months. It would have been four, but FT Kate nicked it and held it hostage until Glastonbury, so I wouldn't get too used to it.

I don't really listen to music that closely. It's background noise and I only pay attention when it occurs to me to do so. I can listen to the same song on repeat for hours on end and only really hear it a couple of times, which I know would do my music-loving friends heads in.

Anyway, I cried to some of the songs on it on Sunday, as I drove home from Brierley Hill with the Mike situation hitting me. 'It's crazy what we could have had...' sticks out in my head as a particularly sad lyric that day. I only put the tape back on again yesterday, as I'd been driving in silence, and listened to 'A Girl Called Johnny' followed by 'Country Feedback'. That worked.

This morning, I took the tape out and fished at random for another tape. There's everything from Mussorksky to Eminiem in there. It turned out to be another compilation, which I haven't heard in a good three or four years. I listened to Republica's 'Drop Dead Gorgeous' and smiled, but started tuning out to live inside my head again.

Suddenly there was a note. It was 'Shine on you Crazy Diamond' and took me by surprise, in that I wasn't expecting it to come on. I paid attention, as I hadn't yesterday. I listened to what was being said in the music and the lyrics. I sat in my car on the work carpark until it was finished.

Ok. Got it on the level they were perhaps wanting me to get it. I paid attention.

Came into work and there are e-mails from the usual beloved suspects. A couple of them are commenting either on my blog from yesterday about 'Shine on...' or else an -e-mail from yesterday, where I waffled about the tune to a few friends. Brutal honesty out there. They're worried.

I've been worried too. Not about me, which is what everyone else is worrying on, but about everyone else. Maybe I should look closer to home, before panicking on how Mike's wife is holding up.

I'm feeling quiet. Quiet doesn't sit well with a lot of people, they need to know how I'm doing, which I can understand. It's one thing when you can come and peer into my face looking for the 1000 yard stare, and quite another when you're a continent away looking for clues. Would it help to know that a couple of times this morning, I laughed? ;-)

Right at the core of me, I'm fine. Right up to about two inches from the surface, I'm fine. Mind you, I said that in 1994, but this time I think I mean it. I'll be Mab again when I can find her in me and in the meantime, folk will just have to make do with me. Those who know just how yampy I can get have sent Syd in to get me. That's always a good tactic and the hooks are in now, it's just the hauling home to be done.

The Grove isn't a fun place for an empath right now. Grief and anger powerfully sent in abundance. It's abating now, but I had no shields at all for a while. Plus, I couldn't lay Mike out or do some of the things that others were able to for his wife. I've known that lad, very closely, for a few years, I had to do something. So my equivalent of laying him out was to build his memorial pages, which meant reading each post again to try and match the border to the post. I'm glad I did it now, even if at times it was like picking scabs. It's helped me a lot.

Laurie has written a post describing the brook running through Witchgrove, full of nuturing love, hope and vitality. I read it last night and it met my mood. I wrote one back describing the Grove as I saw it and got well into it. It occurred to me that I was effectively describing Shambala, but there you go.

All the posts with the brook running through in the title has 'The Riverboat Song' playing in my head. No big reason here, just that title reminding me of this song, so don't worry about looking for clues in this one:

The Riverboat Song - Ocean Colour Scene

I see double up ahead
Where the riverboat swayed beneath the sun
Is where the river runs red
Like a King who stalks the wings and shoots a dove
And frees an eagle instead
It's more or less the same as the things that you said

I see trouble up the road
Like the things you found in love are by the way
And like to cheat on your soul
Like the best and worst of thoughts that lose control
Before you lie on your bed

It's more or less the same as the things that you said
Anyway for all the things you know tell me why does the river not flow
Anyway for all the things you said tell me why does the river run red
Anyway for all the things you've seen tell me when will the river run green
And anyway for all the things you know tell me why does the river not flow

It's more or less the things you fail to say in your way that's your trouble
Like a King who stalks the wings and shoots the moon and the stars
And his double
It's more or less the same as the things that you said
I see trouble up ahead
Where the river boat swayed beneath the sun
Is where the river runs red
I see double - that's my trouble.

So that's me.

It's all going to be alright in the finish, just let me and Syd do our work on my mind and I'll be properly back.


Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Shine on you Crazy Diamond

FtE isn't very subtle, but the other three are. I've been asked indirectly, which is the only way to ask me in days like these, so:

**Part one

Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun**

I'm struggling to see it, truth be told. But after three, maybe four, proddings with this song, I'm now looking to see if it's so. I just went out for a fag and passed a table with a pile of public lecture leaflets on it. In a previous job incarnation, I produced those and organized the whole thing. The quote on the front is one I found 'Reserve your right to think, because even to think wrongly is better than not thinking at all.'

I'm vaguely aware that I must have pulled off greatness in some form in the past, but in truth, I can't think of any specific examples. Maybe the Vicarage.

**Shine on you crazy diamond
Now there's a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky**

The thousand yard stare already?

**Shine on you crazy diamond
You were caught on the cross fire of childhood and stardom**

This line always used to pertain to Syd in my head, with a vague Vicarage reference if I was going to crowbar it onto my life. Now I get it. 'kin Hell, do I get it. I don't know how to word the SOSs or what questions to ask.

**blown on the steel breeze**

This I'm familiar with and it's ok.

**Come on you target for faraway laughter, come on you stranger
you legend, you martyr, and shine!**

*head down, blush and secret smile of wondering*

**You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon**

As Eric never tired of telling me. But the moon heard me crying and scooped me up in a Mother's hold. We've already covered this breakdown.

**Shine on you crazy diamond
Threatened by shadows at night, and exposed in the light**


**Shine on you crazy diamond
Well you wore out your welcome with random precision**

Not quite, I don't think. Not completely, but the processes are there. There are some who won't ever let go, however psychedelic it gets.

**rode on the steel breeze**

Surfing it!

**Come on you raver, you seer of visions, come on you painter
you piper, you prisoner, and shine!**

Raver or raven? ;-) I'm doing my best.

**part two

Nobody knows where you are, how near or how far**

In truth, neither do I. I recognize this place I'm in. I've been overwrought in the past and I've been angry, upset and all the rest. This is a slightly different level and I recognize it from a certain time in my life. HOWEVER I can practically hear the safety devices moving into place - all those things which were set up at the time in the hope they'd never have to be used. Each time I fall, I snag on the last clampon or land in a safety net as I never even knew was there. Can we call this the Johnny's Sanity equivalent of an emergency drill? It all appears to be working.

I didn't intend to frighten anyone and I didn't intend for this to happen. Now it has, so it's a case of noting down where the boundaries are and seeing what happens next.

The 'nobody' includes me, I've just got more clues to guess with.

Shine on you crazy diamond
Pile on many more layers and I'll be joining you there

Which is what I'm afraid of and also why I'm desperately scrambling to sort my shit out in order to be there to catch you.

Shine on you crazy diamond
And we'll bask in the shadow of yesterday's triumph,
and sail on the steel breeze

You reckon? Ok.

Come on you boy child, you winner and loser
Come on you miner for truth and delusion, and shine!

Miner for truth and delusion. Always loved that.


Some Lyrics

Everyone's posting lyrics about where they're at. Here's mine:

A Girl Called Johnny

I remember Johnny - hey!
Johnny come lately
I remember her shoes like a ballerina.
A girl called Johnny who
Changed her name when she
Discovered her choice was to
Change or to be changed.

I remember a girl called Johnny
Black as hell and white as a ghost,
Don’t talk about life or death
She'll say I’ve had enough of both;
A girl called Johnny who was not scared -
They’d have torn her into pieces but
Nobody dared!

I remember a girl called Johnny
The drink of the town, boy she got on it!
Without looking back, with barely a word,
If she said goodbye, well I never heard,
But the noise goes on
The noise, the jazz!
She's in somebody else’s hands,
And the house that a girl called Johnny built
Is now just ashes and sand
Ashes and sand
Ashes and sand

'Losing my Religion'

Life is bigger
It's bigger than you
And you are not me,
The lengths that I will go to for
The distance in your eyes...
Oh no! I've said too much!
I set it up.

That's me in the corner
That's me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you,
And I don't know if I can do it,
Oh no! I've said too much!
I haven't said enough...
I thought that I heard you laughing!
I thought that I heard you sing!
I think I thought I saw you try!

Every whisper
Of every waking hour
I'm choosing my confessions,
Trying to keep an eye on you
Like a hurt lost and blinded fool.
Oh no! I've said too much!
I set it up.

Consider this, consider this,
The hint of the century...
Consider this,
The slip that brought me
To my knees
What if all these fantasies
Come flailing around?
Now I've said too much.
I thought that I heard you laughing!
I thought that I heard you sing!
I think I thought I saw you try!

But that was just a dream.
That was just a dream.


I wonder who Georgia's lyrics in her blog are aimed at. I wondered, but I'm not sure.

I think she knows.


Friday, August 20, 2004

Shambala - Saturday

You can practically follow Saturday through Shambala from my pictures. Pics 1-36 are all Saturday, except no 1 has gone to the end of the list, rather than at the beginning, where it originally was.

I was up all of three seconds, before I was washed, dress, teeth brushed and out playing. I meandered over to the Sacred Space and sat there having a couple of cups of tea, with my eye firmly on the Shiatshu (sp?) people. In the end, they looked like they'd finished canting AND they had their appointments sheet open, so I got out of my seat and pounced. I explained about the whiplash, because Ian had said that there were insurances issues massaging someone who'd been injured that badly. They counted months and got me to show my mobility now, then agreed to have me.
:-D I made an appointment for 12 noon, because I was hungry and needed breakfast, then ran off to tell the others.

They were all up now and very up for going for breakfast.

(This is as far as I got before Mike died on August 22nd 2004. I'll post it, because I can't see me finishing recounting it all now.)

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Shambala - Friday


I woke up at FT Kate's house and drove over to pick up Ian and Katy from Selly Oak, before taking them back to FT Kate's in Brierley Hill. Mark practically followed us in - he'd been at work until 7 and had only had about three hours sleep, but he was happy and bouncy enough. There was a short cuppa break, while Kate and Ian created a bishop's mitre for Ian's fancy dress outfit, then we were off.

Katy and I went down in Mark's car. I'm used to a Punto, so his Rover looked massive! It was such a novelty though, as I'm used to being the driver. I got to look at the scenery instead, which was great! I was chilling out by the time we got to the M5, let alone the festival. *grin*

We stopped at Taunton Deane services to wait for Ian and Kate... then waited... then waited... in the finish there was a good enough 'phone reception to discover that we'd parked at opposite ends of the services and both thought we were waiting for each other. LMFAO! We met up and several Bakewell Tarts later, we were off following the directions on the ticket (after getting off at the Plympton Junction of the A38), then the Shambala suns, until we found the site. It's kept cryptic and moved around, so that it isn't gate-crashed and ruined.

While FT Kate, Mark and I had kept our stuff to a vague minimum, it looked like Ian and Katy had emptied their homes into the cars. So much stuff! However, days later, it turned out that there wasn't really that much stuff, it was just packed weird or not packed at all. Our dreams of one journey faded, so the rest of us left stuff so as to walk relatively comfortably down the steep hill into the festival site.

Got down there to find more tents than last year. There had only been 500 people last year, but there were 2000 this year. It was so hot and people had sprawled out a lot. I could see FT Kate getting more and more wound up as we looked for somewhere to camp and I would have liked to have made the right soothing noises, but by then my shoulder and neck were in agony from carrying the rucksack and the tent. I called a stop and bent down so that I could blink tears away without anyone noticing, while FT Kate, Mark and Ian left stuff with me and Katy so they could go exploring.

They found somewhere and Mark came back to tell us. En route, he got mugged by five or six children. They were on his back, holding onto his leg etc, demanding 50p. I was practically recovered by now and Katy and I just watched in amazement and utter bemusement. Eventually, Katy said, 'Should we rescue him?', as the children brought him down onto the grass. I was giggling my head off and said, 'We might as well...' but just on it, he managed to struggle free and run. The children swarmed after him until he passed another lad, then they started on the newcomer instead. Poor Mark tried to walk in dignity back to us, but got accosted by the ring-leader, who looked all of seven. 'Please can I have 50p? I've said please.' Me and Katy were very quietly in bits! LOL

We eventually got back to where Ian and FT Kate were setting up and started sorting the tents. Mine and Kate's tent was about four inches too small for the space, but we persevered. All that Glastonbury Festival training kicked in and we managed to get the tent up, though Kate's bedroom was a bit of a strange shape. I offered her mine, but she refused it. 'What would I have to complain about all weekend, if I had yours?' She asked. That broke her mood then. We did a second journey to the car and were soon set up back below.

Within minutes, we were all so chilled out. I'm a bit of a festival veteran now and I've never known us all relax into it so quickly. It normally takes at least an hour and a meander about the site, but it wasn't like that at all. We sat in the lounge part of the tent and cracked open the alcohol. Ian was making cocktails out of vodka, galliano and orange juice. I can't do vodka, and I'd never tried galliano, so I just had a couple of plastic cups of neat galliano. Very nice it was too.

We just sat there canting and watching people arriving. Our wide tent opening had an amazing panoramic view of the campsite, with the huge, old tents. At night, these would be lit up, and the track beneath them would be lit with lights like a string of pearls. So, so peaceful and beautiful.

After a while, we meandered out in search of teas and coffees... very successfully, as the nearest cafe was about 30 yards from the tent. LOL We sat in the Sacred Space for a while, people watching. How to describe the people of the Shambala Festival...? Beautiful people. Everyone is relaxed, everyone looks so beautiful. Not in a catwalk way - that isn't beautiful in my book - but in an ordinary, leaning towards hippy, way. If you caught someone's eye, you smiled and received a huge grin back, which you couldn't help but reciprecate. There was a tremendous sense of trust - kids ran free, because the festival was so small and everyone looked out for everyone else's kids. (Last year, I took a baby on the swingboats, because her dad didn't like them, and kept an eye on two little ones while their Mum had a massage. All of us strangers. But in reality, all but the littlest kids don't need minding.) A beautiful, safe place.

In the sacred place, there is a marquee (from Georgia, I know that this has a different meaning in America. A marquee here is a very large tent, which you could hold parties in). In the marquee, there are six altars - four to the elements, one to the Mother and the other I wasn't sure. Logic would say it was to the God, but it was very Indian in aspect and I didn't know most of the things on it. I went a wander in there, as it had been a very special, important place to me last year. The others popped their heads in, but Kate said, 'I'll leave you to it and go on to...' but she was gone before I caught the end of the sentence. I assumed toilet. ;-) There's cool, because folk are easily found again.

I walked around to each altar in turn to pay my respects. By the time I reached the last one, the water one, there were a handful of people in the temple with me and one of them had put music on. They were dancing when the priestess asked if I wanted to join in. I didn't realize that there was a ritual scheduled, but there I was! So I joined in. A while later, Ian tapped my shoulder, apologized to the group and handed me my shawl. He told me afterwards that he couldn't believe how quickly I'd managed to end up in a ritual! LOL

The ritual was really good. It began with dancing, then we sat while the priestess guided us in a meditation. We felt the flame from above, from our locus above our heads, channel down into our hearts to create a red flame there. We felt the white flame of the earth rise up through our bodies to create a white flame in our hearts, which danced with the red flame. We held hands - right to receive, left to leave - and let our energies whizz around the group of six women (including myself).

Then we took turns to walk alone in a circle, while the others watched. When they were ready, they individually got up and walked close behind the single walker, close enough that the walker couldn't see them. They copied completely the walker's walk, becoming them. Once everyone was up, emulating the walk of the first, the first lead them around another lap, then sat down and watched the others being them.

It was fascinating! And emotional. I found myself with my knees up, mouth covered, giggling and blushing, as I watched how I looked to others. I was seeing myself as others see me, which isn't something you generally see. They sat down and I had to describe how it felt to see myself through their mirror. I was shocked at how graceful I seemed, delicate in my walk, but contradictory too. The others each told me how they felt being me and how they experienced that walk. I was ethereal, one said; another said that I touched the ground so lightly and gently that it bearly seemed that I touched it at all; I was elf-like. They all mentioned that the upper part of my body seemed to have a lot of strength though, at odds with the gentleness of my steps, as if I was at once bull-like and elfish. One person mentioned that I held my one arm quite stiffly, which was at odds with it all. My shoulder and neck were still hurting from the arrival, which explained that. Once I told them, it all made sense to them!

It was amazing how many different walks we had between us. There were eight of us by the finish, as others joined in, and each of us were deeply touched. The priestess was extremely moved. She waited until last and decided to do it too, because of the good feeling in there. She was nearly in tears after hers and admitted to us that she'd been crippled a while back and the last time she'd done this was shortly after she had first regained the ability to walk. Her stiffness and injury had been very apparent then, but tonight we'd shown her that it wasn't.

A final dance and a round of hugging and I felt like I'd always known these people. We were all emotional and all of us new best friends.

It was dark outside when I left the temple and went to find the others. I walked straight to them, still full of the ritual, and was met by a fourfold sea of beaming faces in the Thali cafe. I bought a round of drinks and we sat in there so happy, so chilled, laughing and people watching and laughing some more, with the rest of the people right there with us.

Most of the festival wasn't yet open, so though we did have a little wonder around the field, we soon ended up on the track. The place looks pretty Middle Earth during the daytime, but at night it takes on such a Tolkienesque look to it! We walked down the track, into the campsite, to see what surprises were amidst the tents. We found a great one. A bloke named Jim was selling hot drinks and truffles. It didn't matter what time, day or night, we turned up there throughout the festival, there was Jim selling his drinks. I don't think he slept.

He sold THE BEST HOT CHOCOLATE IN THE WORLD!! Our whole festival was punctuated with frequent trips to Jim's awning to buy his hot chocolate off him. Images 23 and 24 are us outside Jim's place

We returned to the tent and sat there chilling until the early hours. One by one everyone went to bed, except me and Katy. We went for more hot chocolate, then she too went to bed. I've already told about what happened next, but it's worth the retelling:

I sat in the 'lounge' bit of the tent, when everyone else had gone to bed. I was curled up in one camping chair, with my feet up on another, looking out over the festival, sipping Green and Black's Hot Chocolate (lovely bloke called Jim, open 24 hours, best hot chocolate in the world). The sight was so utterly beautiful and I felt so completely peaceful. That moment is indicative of how I felt for the whole festival. I wrote this:

In the silence, in the stillness
I found my soul at Shambala;
It shone through the
Murk and drab of accumulated
Other life,
And my troubles melted like
So many marshmallows on a stick.

I learned again how to just sit
And watch lights, like a string of pearls,
My shoulders sag, my heartbeat slows,
My body relaxs, melding me into the seat,
Comfortable, necessary.
I am content
And my spirit writes poetry.

13.8.04 at the Shambala Festival.


Pictures from Shambala

Click me

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Goodbye Wolverhampton Working Witches Guild

Ok, really enough for one night.

This had better all feel better in the morning. I'm going to go and crawl into the Grove and cry.


Goodbye UPTA, UPTA Officers and the Ogma Course

That's it... I'm no longer the British Ambassador nor am I the Wiccan representative to the Ogma Course.

There are other Britons and other Wiccans.

I think I should stop this for one night.


Goodbye Postgraduate Society Mods

This is breaking my heart.

I remember that night with the Sri Lankan dancing and how happy Yasangika was to find someone in Wolverhampton who spoke Sri Lankan. I've got the key-ring she gave me here as a thank you for everything.

'kin Hell... There are 76 people in the Postgraduate Society. There WILL be people there for the next Yasangikas to step into the Black Country.

Get a grip woman.

Here's how I told the whole group:

Hi all,

I've just been digging in the membership list... SEVENTY-EIGHT PEOPLE! *grin* That's pretty amazing. Really amazing, when you think about it.

The Postgraduate Society has been going for a grand total of two years. In the first year there were only a handful of members. I know that the President at the time felt disillusioned about it and didn't feel able to continue himself into a second year. I don't blame him - continuing into a second year meant running the gauntlet of politics and apathy. Those who remained ran that gauntlet and I'm still very proud of that. *huge grin*

In the second year, we started this yahoo group, had proper elections and all. The energy which carried us through last autumn and into the winter was brilliant! Anyone who was at the Varseity that night, when Kathy gave her inugural (sp?) speech, will remember it as a great night, full of potential, full of support and laughter. That carried forward too - there was a night out at a quiz to raise money for a local playgroup; there was a night out to watch the Sri Lankan dancing and to track down someone who could speak Sri Lankan for one of our homesick members; there were rants and ventings on here, as we all bandied together to support our fellow students; there was help in abundance with research.

The loss of Kathy has been felt keenly. Before her death, the loss of her drive and energy was felt keenly, as the rest of us were too inundated with our own lives to even notice that we needed to pick up the baton. We got as far as the announcement that Paul is the new President, then let it slide again.

I'm about to offer another blow. Part of the reason that I couldn't add my energy to the pot is that I've been allowing myself to get utterly overwhelmed with fingers in a dozen pots. Of late, that's been starting to really tell on my stress-levels and health, so I'm having to go through and extradite myself from a few projects. It's not fair me hanging around without contributing and I don't trust myself to hang around without either feeling guilty about not contributing or else wearing myself into the ground by pushing it. It's all self-inflicted, so don't worry about the sympathy thing. ;-)

What I will say though is that this group is worth fighting for. The archives alone will tell us how necessary it's been in the past and will be in the future.

Come October, it will be election time again. The Student Union will probably be e-mailing Kathy to see if the Society should be registered. I still think it should, because it gives the Postgraduates of the University of Wolverhampton access to funding and a national voice. That's worth getting.

But for me, I'm going to have to bow out for now. I'll probably be back in the future and I'll always want to know how you're all doing.

78 people... 'kin Hell... how did that happen? *wink* *grin*

Take care.


Goodbye Healers of the Light and Power of Thought

I've left two more groups now and these were both really hard. Enjoyment didn't come into it, because they were both for trying to make a difference.

I haven't posted to either for a while, but I was reading and I was sending what I could.

Waiting patiently to feel better about all of this... right now, I just feel choked.



It took a grand total of two days for me to go from the most chilled out person in the world, to feeling like I'm ready to collapse. Having the trots yesterday didn't help, but that's more or less sorted today. I've just got an irregularly recurring pain across my stomach now. The pain comes, I feel myself go pale and clammy, I lose all energy and then after about ten minutes, it recedes again.

More worrying, I was walking down the corridor at work today and my legs went really shaky and weak, like they weren't going to hold me up. I stopped and held onto the wall, breathed, waited and that receded too.

That last bit is sounding a little like the very early stages of nervous exhaustion. I've got everything crossed on that one. It would be bloody ironic though, wouldn't it? Just when I've talked myself into slowing down, my body gives up on me! *note to body* Fucking bitch! Sort it out!

I spent yesterday going through e-mails. There are a lot of people who have been waiting on me for various things. I know that each and every one of them would be horrified if they saw the crowd they were in, and I should have mentioned it, but I haven't.

Cerr knows a bit, she's just now been re-instated as an owner of Kindly Ones, because I simply can't cope with it anymore. There was a bit of off-list crap today and I ended up in tears. I dried them and 'phoned Cerr, who went and dealt with it. Cerr was an owner, but had to back down when she became very pregnant and quite ill with it. I guess it's my turn now.

BS Kate has e-mailed volunteering to do some of the htmling for the WG website. Howard's offered too.

I just feel like I'm constantly letting everyone down; mainly letting everyone down because I'm not superwoman and I can't keep up with all the things I try to keep up with and all the things I said I'd do. I've been going at a pace of knots for such a long time now, with crashes every few months which aren't far on anyone. I know I'll end up with comments on here or e-mails telling me that I haven't let anyone down, that folk will help, that it'll be alright. I know all of these things. It's ok. It's just sad. Really sad.

I wanted to be invincible. I wanted to be infallible.

I guess I got to be human.

That's enough, in the end.


Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Goodbye Postgraduate Society

I've just let the President/Treasurer and Secretary of the Postgraduate Society know that I can no longer fit them in. It's well sad, particularly in light of the fact that they have now lost myself and Kathy within a matter of a month.

My one huge hope is that without mine and Kathy's energy, the whole thing doesn't just collapse on itself. It's all really down to Paul and Paula now.


Monday, August 16, 2004

And my spirit writes poetry...

I am so utterly chilled out. Shambala was a TRIUMPH! I've laughed, I've chilled, I've sat there with a permanent grin on my face, I've caught up with my sleep... oh! I've had such a good time!

Ok, technically, I've been sitting and meandering around a field for three days... but in real terms, I've been to Wonderland, Middle Earth, into a world full of beautiful people, beautiful things, free hugs and Chai. Can't forget the Chai. *grin*

On the Friday night, I sat in the 'lounge' bit of the tent, when everyone else had gone to bed. I was curled up in one camping chair, with my feet up on another, looking out over the festival, sipping Green and Black's Hot Chocolate (lovely bloke called Jim, open 24 hours, best hot chocolate in the world). The sight was so utterly beautiful and I felt so completely peaceful. That moment is indicative of how I felt for the whole festival. I wrote this:

In the silence, in the stillness
I found my soul at Shambala;
It shone through the
Murk and drab of accumulated
Other life,
And my troubles melted like
So many marshmallows on a stick.

I learned again how to just sit
And watch lights, like a string of pearls,
My shoulders sag, my heartbeat slows,
My body relaxs, melding me into the seat,
Comfortable, necessary.
I am content
And my spirit writes poetry.

13.8.04 at the Shambala Festival.


Thursday, August 12, 2004


I'm nearly excited! I'm off here tomorrow and I am determined to chill out, even if I have to superglue myself to the Mother Altar in the Sacred Place.

In about four hours time, I'll be scutting up to FT Kate's house. Then me and her can put the world to rights pre-Shambala. Red wine, maybe. Then tomorrow I'm travelling down with Mark, while Kate takes Ian and Katie. What did you spot here? YES! I DON'T HAVE TO DRIVE! *happy dances* Considering the gip that driving long distances is still doing to my shoulder and neck, I'm looking forward to four days of no pain. It just wasn't possible to do that for Glastonbury, nor for Georgia's visit, but it was possible and has happened for Shambala.

I rashly decided I couldn't avoid it any longer and so looked at my bank balance. It's written in figures, so I haven't a clue what it all means, but... yep... still looking very overdrawn... however, I checked the Visa bill to find it shockingly clear; and I phoned Orange to find that my bill isn't due yet; and I checked out the £9 charges at the bank to find out there is no good reason, other than making Natwest richer, for me to be paying it every month. So I've stopped. None of this is making me solvent, but it's fooling me into thinking I've done vaguely good things with maths.

Oh! Georgia, if you are reading this, I've finally found the thing you left for me to find. Thank you. {{{{{{{{{{hugs}}}}}}}}}}}


Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Finding Space

I've tried thinking of all the things I'm involved in and working out the pros and cons of staying with them. I was ending up in mental cul-de-sacs and had got to the 'who shall I ask to do this objectively with me?' Anna is the obvious, as she understands all of the reasons why something could be on the list, but is also ruthless enough to say 'get the **** out of there now'. Plus, she's offered.

Thing is, I can see that being an on-going situation. Anna has to offer every 3 months or so, to get me out of the ruts I've dug myself into in the meantime.

So, I've thought through a different angle - list the things I want to be involved in, as in involvement is still enjoyable and I look forward to it, or else it salves something of my soul. It's a surprisingly short list:

MA - neither of the above criteria, but I've got this far and it is something my Mum can get her head around to be proud;

Witchgrove and Kindly Ones - all the above criteria, even more so if I've made myself time to be on both simultaneously;

Genealogy - one of the first casualties of my getting involved in too much, and I bloody miss it. The reason it got dropped is that it's only really me benefitting from it, apart from the odd one or two strangers asking for look ups. It's easier to drop something which only delights yourself, than those things which are important to others. You know, even the thought that I could eventually pick it up again has just put a huge smile on my face... I didn't even realize...

The End.

If I enrol in October and also register my dissertation, I could then follow Draig and Lill's lead by doing a 'Year of...' in this case being a year of research. By October, I'd then have my MA completed and hopefully successfully so. That would leave only the latter two and, in theory, lots of space to be me.

This is going to cause a lot of ruptions, isn't it? But I suppose that those who don't understand were never worth the time and effort in the first place, just as FtE said. Does this count as the destruction that Roxanne and I saw in my cards? I guess we'll find out. I'll wait until after Shambala before I start e-mailing folk.


Tuesday, August 10, 2004


It's become a cliche now 'Mab's busy'. It's a given, which just about everyone who's known me for more than two seconds just knows. I've come back off holiday/hanging with Georgia to find a couple of hundred e-mails in my inbox, most of which have words along the lines of 'I know you're busy, but...' 'Don't rush because this isn't urgent, but...' 'When you have a minute, would you mind...' As most of these are either things that literally only I can sort out or else quite serious situations, then I'm assuming that people must go through minor agonies before they judge it safe to e-mail me. They don't want to add to it.
I remember the look of surprise on a friend's face when she heard about my To Do list. It wasn't the existence of that which surprised her - everyone knows that exists - it was the fact that Cerr, Anna and Georgia all have access to it, as a safeguard against it overwhelming me.
Though it's pretty much taken as read that I'd be bored stupid if I had nothing to do, even I'm coming around to the idea that I might be doing too much. However, that's as far as I'd got. I did a quiz on Tickle - are you a Workaholic and here's the results:

Oh Joy...

I did attempt to slow down. Anna acted as an unpaid secretary and helped me empty a bursting inbox; Shonna had words which resulted in me being the Website Mod Only of Witchgrove; Georgia and Roxanne both did the counselling via e-mail. That's only the WG Mods side of things! You've also got Laura, Ian and Kate sitting me down with cups of tea sorting things in my head.

I went off to the Glastonbury Festival with everything done and me in a position to walk away from any one of my pies. I came back with a view to looking at everything I do and backing away from those things which no longer excite me or make me happy or which I no longer enjoy doing. Since then, I've walked away from precisely... nothing; and I've added the Wolverhampton Working Witches Guild, as well as monitoring the Pagan Headstone Campaign and conducting/evaluating/presenting a census on Witchgrove.

Something had to give months ago.

Now I'd better start co-operating with that. My heart's now missing two beats instead of the one it was missing a few months ago. I hear it when I lie down to sleep. I did myself a reading which had a pretty dodgy configuration of cards in it, then asked Roxanne for a second opinion. I'm waiting on that, but it may have come last night. My eyes were literally closing while doing a reading for Corey and I can't remember going to bed last night. I just know I woke up in bed this morning. Last night I found myself thinking on getting chemical help to maintain the energy for everything. I've got the precedent there...

Plus FtE has given me a talking to with brutal home truths, as only a Scorpio male can. I listened, whether I trust myself to act on what he was saying is a whole different kettle of fish.




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