Friday, February 15, 2008

Grooving with Akai Senshi

When I was young right up until the summer before seventh grade, I didn't know much about rock. The stuff being played on the radio gave me a headache. I was aware of the Beatles although I didn't understand why the girl around the corner was swooning over them. I hated opera music that had too many high notes although I liked the "E-vee pai-ah-chi. Laugh, clown laugh" stuff that my mother was obsessed with. I liked "Oklahoma (with the wind rushing down through the plains)" and the West Side Story album. The classical music I was exposed to in music appreciation classes was alright. Thanks to my step-grandparents, I appreciated Lawrence Welk and his bubbles. I loved the Shel Silverstein tunes my dad sang to me. My mother's father was a Johnny Cash fan. I could sing "I Walk the Line" and "A Boy Named Sue." He watched Bonanza too and so I knew the theme music from that show. Glenn Campbell crooning "See the tree how big it's grown and friend it hasn't been been too long since you've gone..." was what qualified as a love song for me. I knew all the songs that my father's first girlfriend liked. I sang "Fool on the Hill" with feeling, stumbled through "Quanta la mayra" or whatever it was, and wailed through "Leaving on a Midnight Train for Georgia." Tons of jingles written for commercials rounded out my musical repertoire. I liked elevator music too-- that tuneless stuff most people refer to nowadays as dentist office musak.

I think it was the summer before seventh grade when I became convinced that I had to start liking rock or else. I forced myself to listen to the tinny stuff on the radio. (Or maybe the radio was tinny). I spent Saturday in the Park, grooved on a Sunday Afternoon, memorized Steppenwolf's "I'm not your stepping stone," and did a passable rendition of "The Monster Mash."
I tap-danced to "Singing in the Rain," solo'ed the Beatles "Yesterday" on a stage, and wished they all could be California Girls much to the disgust of my friend the Beatles fanatic. W-ABC became my mantra. Later, it was 92-FLY. I was a quick study. A couple years of piano lessons had me eager to learn "Moon River," "The Swanee River," and "Shenendoah." Underneath the plastic hippie exterior, I was anything but.

In high school, I learned to play guitar. I had a few lessons and then I picked it up on my own. I liked to play folk music-- Peter, Paul & Mary, Simon & Garfunkel-- and I fooled around with things like "Dueling Banjos." I was in the Liturgy group and learned a bunch of perky little Roman Catholic post-Vatican 2 songs. I discovered John Denver and Bob Dylan. I fooled around with flamenco and old protest songs. One of my favorite memories was playing guitar along with a guy playing his mandolin on the train. After the five dollar bag of oregano came pot. One of my daily get-high buddies introduced me to The Allman Brothers, Aztec Two-Step, Led Zeppelin, Frank Zappa, Chaka Khan, Rufus, Purple Haze, Jethro Tull, David Bowie. There was more I am sure. Those are the ones that stood out and I still love them today.

In college, I had some get-high buddies who were into Jerry Jeff Walker, Jimmy Buffett, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, New Riders of the Purple Sage. I got into Walt Disney's Fantasia, The Moody Blues, Santana, Black Sabbath, Maria Muldare. There was also blues for the first time, jazz for the first time, and German Beer Drinking Songs. I liked the German Beer Drinking Songs. I didn't know any German but that didn't stop me. More folk music, more rock, Chick Corea, Disco and House, Grease. I was a music whore. The student radio station contributed to my madness. A bunch of old records were being discarded and I got to have them free. And there were Polkas. And fun little Polish songs like "In Heaven There is no Beer" and "Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie, and Ice Cold Beer." Old songs, new songs, obscure songs, stuff no one else wanted to listen too-- I wallowed in all of it.

After college there was the Bob Marley and the Wailers concert, the blues fest featuring Z.Z. Top, the jazz fest featuring Chick Corea and me jamming in the park with a guy who said he played with Larry Correalle who played with Chick Corea, two Marshall Tucker concerts, Tina Turner concert, Bob Dylan concert, Fred Small in concert, The Hooters concert, Two Nice Girls at an old hall, The Indigo Girls twice or maybe three times, Jimmy Buffett (he was drunk and so were we!), the bluegrass fest, and Steve Marley at the Golden Gate Park. I found John Prynne, Long John Baldry, Joni Mitchell, B.B. King, R.E.M., The Clash, Talking Heads. I was introduced to Phillip Glass, Hikari Oe, Holly Near, Ronnie Gilbert, Jeff Ampolsk.

Then came Sirius satellite radio. I listen to Jimmy Buffett's station Margueritaville, the alternative station, the punk station, the techno station, two jazz stations,
the non-vocal classical station, and blues, along with Raw Comedy, Blue Collar Comedy and the electronica spaced out stuff. I don't listen to opera except for once in a great while (I still hate really high notes and fix my stereos so that the bass is loud and the treble is hardly existent), haven't watched Lawrence Welk in years, and have left the post Vatican 2 ditties and Glenn Campbell in the past. The rest of it I still like. And there is more. I've got lots of music, although I lost the stuff that the college radio station gave me in a bad house fire. I haven't picked up the guitar much since that house fire. Perhaps I will now. I still got the music in me and my hands are itching to play much in the same way that my feet itch to dance.


For Merlin Won

One time when I was working the Thruway, I told another part-timer (toll collector) that at ten p.m.every night, a woodchuck and the ghost of an old trucker who got killed on the Thruway fifty years ago come out to visit. It was to be his first time there at night alone. I told him that the woodchuck and the old trucker had made friends.
The part-timer asked me if I could see the ghost. I said no. Then he asked how I knew the ghost was there with the woodchuck. "You feel kind of chilly," I said.

A couple of hours later, a car came through with a Utica ticket. Utica is where one of the State Hospitals is for those unfortunates who aren't able to get themselves together enough during a ten day stay at the local nut wards. Some of the patients settle in Utica near the mental hospital after getting out.

A guy was driving the car. His passenger, a woman, leaned over him and peered up at me. "Do ya ever see flying saucers out here?" she asked me. "Naw." She then told me, "The toll collectors in Utica tell me they see them all the time." I had to keep myself from laughing. "Ya can't believe anything a toll collector tells ya," I replied.

A long time ago I was hanging out with the Spiritualists-- it's a church of people who believe in One G-d see, but they also do seances weekly-- and we were all into giving messages and channeling at these seances. I trance out fairly easily. That is probably due to the trauma that I've lived through rather than any great psychic gifts or whatnot. And I didn't need much encouragement. People were giving messages from all sorts of dead spooks and channeling all kinds of teachers with fancy names and origins. And so I tranced out and "channeled" a being from the dogstar Sirius. This happened on several Sundays. I don't remember any of the "messages" now and I highly doubt that the garbage I was "channeling" was from an alien from Sirius flying around in a spaceship. Nothing I ever said in those seances ever changed a life. Nothing anyone said in those seances changed my life either.

I had a gay friend who was a regular dude for several years but then he had a break (what people might have used to call a nervous breakdown). Before winding up on the local nut ward, he had hand-painted his car. Included in the sprawl was the word "Believe" and a badly drawn picture of an alien head. As things turned out, my friend was diagnosed as having an active case of paranoid schizophrenia and it was advised him among other things to quit going to science-fiction/end of the world/aliens are taking over type movies. Those kinds of things would trigger off his symptoms. Genuine paranoid schizophrenia can be rather dangerous and I understand some of the why behind the advice. Eventually the guy had an option to go into one of two businesses-- food catering or house painting. Someone must have seen the job he did on his car because he was encouraged to go into the catering company. He did so and he found he was a real good cook. He is doing well today. Luckily for him the meds work well and he has enough insight to listen to the shrinks about the alien movies and stuff.

I don't believe in aliens or spaceships. All of that stuff has been rather fabulously debunked. I think if there are intelligent life forms living in other galaxies, they are doing their best to stay the hell away from us. At times in the past-- influenced by my experience "channeling an alien"-- I was rather taken with the idea of spirit aliens [read: dead people] cruising around in spirit spaceships blasting out some good tunes and jamming with the atmosphere. Now I figure that is a good fantasy; although if they do exist, that is how I would like to spend my afterlife. Cruising around the intergalactic highways with some spook friends jamming to the music-- that would be a cool thing to do after death! If there is a reincarnation, then stick a fork in me. I am done. Ain't coming back here. Had enough.

spike q.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Bozotkutya's Question 2/14/08

Out of courtesy to my Jewish friends, I elected to omit the first vowel out of the words g-d, g-ds, g-dess, and g-desses in this essay.

Shortly after getting born, I got baptized as a Roman Catholic. I was a baby then and thus I don't remember anything about it. I saw a picture showing me in one of those little white christening gowns being held by my mother's mother with my dad's brother-in-law hovering over her and a priest pouring water over my head. Some other relatives were there too, including my mother's sister. She'd been married to a difficult man until he finally got the cancer and died. The story I heard as an adult was that my aunt was supposed to be my goddess mother but my uncle the difficult man wouldn't let her. Of such is the stuff of soap operas and dysfunctional families.

At any rate, since the priest didn't drown me that day and my mother didn't succeed in drowning me later on, I grew up Roman Catholic in a manner of speaking. In first grade, I got pissed at G-d for the first time, wondering why He didn't save me from the crazy lady that was my mother. I saw quickly that there was no hope for it until I became eighteen at which point I could get the hell out of there. I don't remember going to church until I got shoved into an after school program with a bunch of other public school kids in second grade. The classes I took were supposed to get me ready for my First Holy Communion. I don't recall seeing a nun or a priest before that time. The nun who was in charge of the state of our souls had a long habit down to her feet and a nastier habit of hitting kids on the back of their hands with a wooden ruler if they didn't do their lessons right. The nun inflicted upon me the uneasy knowledge that I would have to "confess my sins" to a priest. I understood that sins were bad things that I'd done. What I didn't get and couldn't ask was exactly what bad things I'd done. I settled in my mind that I would tell the priest that I had stolen a river bank. I figured a river bank meant that a bank was near the river. I'd figure something about a slope in there too leading to some murky water like the kind that existed in the Hudson outside of New York City.

Thus fortified, I went to my First Confession. I knelt, waited for the funny hidden sort of small door with the holes in it to slide open indicating that it was my turn. And so I opened my mouth, and began marching to my doom. "Bless me Father for I have sinned and this is my First Confession," came out quickly followed by, "My sins are: stealing a river bank, one time--" "Are you lieing to Father?" the priest asked in a very solemn voice. "Yes Father," I stammered. If I was to be a liar, I'd be a dammed polite liar at any rate. He gave me my penance-- five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys. I got out of there as quickly as I could and went directly to the white marble altar to make my First Act of Contrition. I was a serious little girl, quiet and shy, and determined not to have G-d be any more pissed at me than he already was.

I remember thinking as I was walking down the side of the church in a careful rows of two heading for the too-long Mass that would lead to my First Holy Communion something about nuns getting to be Brides of Christ and cuz the girls had to wear these white dresses and veils and hold little white rosary beads, we were little Brides of Christ. That bothered me because I was figuring that the boys in the class couldn't be miniature Brides of Christ so what was left for them? Why would Jesus want them to wear their pressed pants with tucked-in white shirts and ties? I hadn't heard anything about them getting to be Husbands of Mary so that couldn't be it. And only a priest got to be Christ somehow. Little boys got to be altar boys though and maybe G-d would call some of them to be grown-up Christs. That was certainly more glamorous than being a Bride of any sort. Vatican II hadn't happened yet. Only boys got to be altar boys and girls maybe would get to sing in the choir. The Mass was in Latin in those days but I could follow along in the little prayer missile that my step-grandmother had given me. The church smelled pretty good to me with all the incense waving done in those days. There were cool statues too and a bunch of votive candles that I could light with a punk stick for a quarter apiece in case I wanted some kind of perpetual praying.

After my First Holy Communion, I was again left to be unchurched until I was in fourth grade. My mother and step-father got married in a little Episcopal chapel (my mother was divorced, thus ex-communicated. To be ex-communicated in those days meant not attending church unless there was a special thing going on and certainly never to take communion. My dad functioned under different rules-- I don't know why or how. Perhaps he figured correctly that the average priest would not be checking a master list to see if his name was among the Damned). The little Episcopal chapel was plain and lacked the stained glass windows and the statues and the incense. The pews were there though. My step-father's cousin's daughter (who was six years old and a couple years younger than me) got to be the ring-bearer and her brother a ring-bearer. I got to sit next to my grandmother in the first pew wondering why I couldn't be a flower girl too.

My mother and I moved to the bottom floor of a converted three-family house. My step-father's parents lived on the second floor with his younger brother between trips to jails, prison, and secret adventures. Another brother and wife occupied the third floor which was actually a very small refinished attic. As it turned out, my mother had married the man with whom she was cheating on my dad. I knew this almost instantly upon moving in because I remembered learning how to walk in that house up on the second floor while my mother was at work. My future step-grandfather was the guy who had encouraged me to let go of the coffee table and walk without holding on to anything. I put together that my mother had hired my step-grandmother to babysit and fell in love with her son.

My step-grandparents were a decent sort from The Old Country. Actually, my step-father had claimed Roman lineage. I don't really know if that is true since I never did check. It might be. My step-grandfather worked the old PATH trains. He retired with several less fingers than he had been hired on with. They'd given him a gold clock which sat on top of their television set. My step-grandmother was a housewife. She continued to watch over me when I had days off from school or when I was sick. Somehow or other, it came to pass that I was introduced to the notion of going to church on Sundays. She and I would walk to the 8:30 a.m. Mass in a different church than where I'd received the Body of Christ (I don't remember any wine though I suppose there must have been). The church was bigger. There was a choir up on the loft, stained glass windows, statues, altar boys, incense, long candles, votives, confession, Latin, The Stations of the Cross, and a mixture of priests of different ages. And a Monsignor who had a fancy black cossack with a burgundy stripe.

A year or so later, an older neighborhood girl named Cora-Jeanne (we all called her COR-Jean though) would walk me back and forth to church. My mother paid her I think. My step-grandmother I guess wasn't going anymore or something or maybe I just wanted to go to a later Mass. When I first started high school, I was thoroughly indoctrinated into the One True Faith. I know that others existed who didn't believe the same way. My dad had taken up with a Jewish woman. Our fifth grade was taught by a woman who was the wife of a Presbyterian minister. And in sixth grade, the daughter of two atheists became a classmate. Carolyn was pretty cool and she was my first exposure to scientific thinking and the theory of evolution. At home, my step-father would swear that we didn't come from apes from Africa and my mother was teaching my little half-sister who could barely walk or talk to refer to the little black kids in strollers being pushed up the street by a parent or sibling as "chocolate babies."

In 1968 or 1969, I had found a Time-Life magazine article about the off-Broadway Play "The Boys in the Band" at my aunt and uncle's house (the uncle who was my godfather, not the difficult man who was married to my mother's sister). That was where I had learned the word homosexual. I thought to myself that I must be a female homosexual since I liked girls. (I didn't know the word "bisexual" nor the word "lesbian"). I had grasped somehow from my churchly indoctrination that homosexuals were going to hell. I thought that was rather unfair. Especially as I knew very early on that I had feelings for girls as well as for boys. I didn't think I had done anything sinful to make myself that way. I began to think about the religious stuff I was being taught. In seventh grade, I threw caution to the wind and announced that I was in love with another girl. Thus the doors of heterosexuality which were threatening to close slammed shut forever. There was something else that happened in seventh grade. Two black girls became our classmates; and against parental strictures I befriended them. I quickly realized that what I'd been learning at home wasn't necessarily so. I was afraid at first that one of the teachers would rat me out to my mother and step-father about the color of the skin of my two new friends but the teachers never did.

I got sent to an all-girls Roman Catholic High School and that sucked. I hated it. I would have rather gone to the public school a couple of miles down the road where there were both boys and girls but that wasn't to be. Instead I was packed off in the other direction. Two buses and an hour is what it took for me to get to the school. Then two buses and an hour or so back. We all had to take a religion class-- even the one Episcopalian girl who later became a party buddy. She didn't seem to mind it as much as I did. For the first time, I became truly aware of the teachings of the Holy Roman Catholic Church and I didn't like some of it.

The priest who taught the class tried really hard. He did. One of the things we argued about was some doctrine about how a woman delivering a baby and who should die if only one or the other could get to live. The priest say the woman was supposed to die and the baby's life was somehow more important or something. I thought that was pretty stupid and I (the quiet withdrawn one) told him that. Finally he said, "If someone came into a room and was to shoot you or your mother, who should be shot?" I gathered that the correct answer was that my mother should sacrifice her life. I wasn't seeing it that way. "I wouldn't let my mother die for me! My mother has responsibilities," I told him fiercely. "You must love your mother a lot," he said, quite taken aback. At the end of ninth grade, the priest asked us what we had learned that year in religion class. I told him I learned that I didn't want to be a Catholic anymore.

That was the summer that I began sneaking into other churches or sometimes just walking instead of going to my own. I went to the plain Episcopal Church up the street, the Spanish Pentecostal Services across the street, and during tenth grade to a funky hippie Jesus people sort of commune in New York City with a classmate who had also decided that she didn't want to be Catholic anymore. Add to the mix a Christian Missionary Alliance gym teacher who spoke in tongues (even though the Christian Missionary Alliance folks were not supposed to do that), another classmate who had gotten saved courtesy of the gym teacher, and the Biology nun who became Charismatic yet remained opposed to me getting religion of any other sort that the one I'd been brought up in. I alternated hanging out with the Jesus freaks and the dopers for the rest of high school. For many years, it was either Jesus or dope. I didn't figure I could do neither. My senior year I got wheels and so I was able to sneak off to an Assemblies of God church. The folks at the Aggie Church had something against playing cards and something else against rock-n-roll. And masturbation was evil as was dancing and sex with boys. (Sex with girls wasn't talked about. During high school I dated boys exclusively). I ignored those strictures. I wanted to get sexed up, with or without liquor. (The boys were better at petting without the cheap beer but they didn't seem to know that). I wanted to dance and I liked solitaire and gin-rummy. As far as music, I wasn't giving that up either. I knew something about the Roman Catholic Church at one time condemning classical music and thus the composers began writing Church music, courtesy of my dad who tried his best to relieve me of some of the more blatant superstitions which were the domain of my mother's family and my step-father. So I continued to listen to rock and to struggle with my very pronounced feelings about women.

The first year of college, I kept to my Aggie ways. My mother and step-father had driven to the Assemblies Church one Sunday night in that September and found me there. In a drunken rage, my mother dragged me out of the church on my knees (the scars from the carpet burns on my knees lasted for years afterwards) and threw me down the church steps onto the sidewalk below. My step-father was driving and he was drunk too. The people in the church began pleading the blood of Jesus in loud voices. I was escorted into the backseat of the car, terrified that either my mother or my step-father would remember they had a gun in the house in the linen closet and shoot me dead. After the service was over, a deacon called my father to tell him what happened. I didn't find that out until afterwards.

There were beatings that night-- around six hours of beatings. I can still hear my mother directing my step-father to hit me with the umbrella that somehow came to be in his hand. I screamed for help. I saw the neighbors' lights come on but no one came to help me. Way after midnight, I got to stumble upstairs (my step-Uncle was away in prison at that time so I was sleeping in his room) to bed. The next morning, my mother came upstairs demanding that I apologize to my step-father because he didn't "remember any of it." Defying my mother directly was very dangerous but I did anyway. "I am not apologizing," I told her and rolled over away from her until she went back downstairs to get ready for work.

My step-father had left for work while I was still in bed. My mother left at 8 o'clock as she did every morning. I heard the door slam and I got up. My step-grandmother came in and she was telling me that she thought I was going to move out and she didn't want me to go. She really did love me. In those days, very few cases of child abuse got reported. What happened behind closed doors was to be kept in the family. I went downstairs and my dad called me on the telephone. He asked me if I was okay. I started crying and said no. He insisted I come live with him until I finally said yes. Over the course of the next three days, I moved out secretly.

My dad wasn't crazy about my becoming a Pentecostal but he wasn't the kind to try to beat it out of me. He didn't understand why I hadn't told him about what was happening at my mother's house (It was the second beating and there was lots of other abuse throughout my childhood). I couldn't explain it really. The pastor of the church had gotten someone in the police department to write my mother and step-father an official letter banning them forever from the town the church was in. My father's lawyer had also written to them, though I don't know what that letter said other than that I was living with my dad now. I was free to go to church and to hang out with my church friends. I was also free from abuse. I began instantaneously to get better grades.

The next year continued in the same way up until sometime during the second semester of my sophomore year in college. At that time, I chucked Jesus for drugs. I had learned that masturbation was a natural event by then. I wanted to have another kind of fun and that fun involved things like going to parties and getting stoned and drunk. I figured that if I couldn't believe the Bible literally, then it was just another collection of books. So I got drunk and got high and hung out with other college kids who were also getting drunk and high. I'd had my first black-out in high school and my first drunken throw-up. That pattern of blacking out and then throwing up or throwing up and then blacking out was a steady thing whenever I was partying. Even with all of that, from my sophomore year in college onward I made the Dean's list every semester until I graduated.

I'm skipping some time now as there was quite a bit of drunken and drugged out behavior on my part and very little organized religion until September 8, 1980. It was on that day that I was getting ready to take a drug that I didn't like and didn't want. I'd been offered some Black Beauties in the break room at work by a co-worker turning pusher. I hated speed. (I was quite literally immune to cocaine
-- crack wasn't around yet, would take different color pills on occasion, loved pot and hash and the opium that I had gotten to smoke only once). I'd been going to 12 step meetings for nine months or so before that day but I wasn't willing to give up smoking pot. I drank again a few times. I thought I had a mild drinking problem and one hell of an acid problem (there'd been a rush of Mr. Natural and I took it nightly for a week and a half until The Bad Acid Trip) but no problem at all with marijuana. When people go into business for themselves, the first hit is always free. I was being offered a drug in that break room that I didn't like and I had actually said no but my hand was reaching out for it independent of what I had just said. That was the first time I'd seen myself for who I was and I was going backwards, not forwards. From that day to this I have not had a street drug or a drink of alcohol.

The people in the rooms at that time were all into this higher power stuff and I'd been away from any sort of church. I didn't want to go back to the Aggie church (they're everywhere!) and Roman Catholicism was in my past and I intended it to stay that way. I decided upon a civil male g-d for several years. When that began triggering my previous fundamental obsession too much, I backed down to The Force courtesy of Star Wars. I then settled on Dog. My dog certainly had more sense than I did when it came to getting high or drunk and I figured he knew more of how to live than I did, in spite of having a sponsor, working the steps as written, and doing service work. At some point, I found the g.l.b.t.i.q. (standing for) gay-lesbian-bisexual-transsexual-intersexed-queer community and became involved in gay 12-step meetings. Somehow I hooked up with a bunch of g.l.b.t.i.q. folks who were meeting at an Episcopal church and began going there with them. The priest there let me bring my three dogs and they got to march around the church with all of us on a Palm Sunday. They were very attentive and well-behaved dogs. One week, the priest and his lover would do the Episcopal thing; the next a gay drunken Methodist minister would do a Methodist service.

There was still a sickness in me that connected to the sickness in the Methodist minister and we became a non-sexual item of sorts. He had totaled his car and lost his license because of driving drunk. I became his wheels. He became my confidant. We went to gay bars together and I was his transportation to the liquor store. At that time I was calling myself a Methodist. I finally got myself into a 12-step group which helps people deal with co-dependency. I decided that I had to break away from the Methodist minister. In order to break away from him, I had to stay away from the gay church services. I was entirely too heterophobic then to be interested in going to any sort of regular church so I didn't. My higher power began to shift to the rooms. Eventually, I had to admit that I didn't believe. So I stopped saying that I did.

Throughout my life, I had been exposed to astrology, Sybil Leek, the Seth books, weatherology (I have no other word for it), reading playing cards and tea leaves, interpreting dreams, little charms, planting with the moon, and a Rosicrucian correspondence course courtesy of my mother's mother who remained an unchurched Roman Catholic with room for occult stuff. She was not a witch. [N.B.: I am not a granny trad kid.] She was more of a believer in ghosts and things of that nature. She never went to a seance that I know of, never paid for a reading, never sought out anyone else of a magical or psychic nature in person, never took up with any sort of circle work or healing stuff. She let me read whatever books I found in her house from early on. Being a voracious reader, I read everything. I read the dairy farm management magazines laying around, the astrology monthlies, the Gypsy Witch's Fortune Telling book, Seth and Sybil, and the Farmer's Almanac. This was before McLlewellyn was popular. I didn't know anything about Scott Cunningham, and $ilver Rabid Wolf hadn't yet made the scene. Many of these things my gram was into weren't real scholarly. She wasn't a scholar. She was a strong hard-working woman who was living in a farmhouse that was haunted by her account. She and my aunt (the one married to the difficult man) saw some ghosts in the house at the same time once. And they both claimed that a ghost would turn the door handle leading from the pantry to the kitchen. I don't ever remember seeing that my own self. Could be. Could be not. Who knows? My gram certainly was in tune to the earth and some other stuff which I hadn't learned in Sunday School class. (At the Aggie church, everyone goes to Sunday School-- even the adults). Again I say, she wasn't a witch and would not have claimed to be one even if that sort of thing was popular and out in the open the way it is today.

Sometime before I cleaned up from all the dope and drinking, I acquired my first teacher. Drive-by wicca wasn't around yet. She didn't talk about gods or goddesses. She concentrated on teaching me how to protect myself psychically, candle working, bath salts, oils, herbs, and things like that. She wasn't a voudon queen or anything, but we were living down South in the swamplands of Louisiana and influences in that direction were strong. From her, I learned about reading Tarot and I acquired my first deck from the bookstore that also stocked the oils and herbs and incense and stuff. I also learned what she referred to as dream-walking and how to get what was then called astral projection under my conscious control. My journey into solitary folk witchery continued throughout my recovery regardless of what I was doing about church.

After I found the g.l.b.t.i.q. community, my second teacher came along (this was some years later) and from her I learned more circle stuff. It was the second teacher who clued me into the idea that polytheism still exists along with animism and pantheism and all those other isms. Both of my teachers were primarily solitary-- though the second one lived in a house with roommates who had some rather colorful names-- and I learned quite a bit from them. Book-learning wasn't emphasized but I wasn't encouraged to make things up either. Both of them were of the style of "Here's how to do this. Now you try it." From the second one I learned real meditation and that became very useful to me.

There was a third individual who claimed the title of being my teacher or mentor but I discounted that rather quickly. What I learned from the third individual was along the nature of what I didn't want my practice to be like and who I didn't want to become. In the end and even in the middle of our way too long acquiantance, I lost respect for him because of the fraud he was perpetuating in his life. He said he was a Correllian and he said some other stuff. The Correllian part might be true since he was a Witch School mentor before the Split; however, the rest of his claims in regard to his initiations were blatant lies. This man said he was a bunch of stuff with a bunch of initiations to go along with it and one doctorate. The people he named as initiators won't vouch for him. The college that he claims he got his doctorate from is non-existent. The public "circles" that he ran were frequently attended by drunks off the streets, including one who was vomiting as he sat in a chair during the circle. I couldn't deal so I had to go.

I've tried the one g-d and one g-ddess thing very briefly with a separate bunch of Correllians but I hated that. They were too hokey. I found them to be a cross between spiritualism and new age wicca. That wasn't me. My life wasn't all love and light and Lord and Lady. At least there weren't drunks coming in off the streets and vomiting as they sat in circle. I gave up on the Correllians altogether and haven't looked back. I tried the Druids and they were a fun bunch. I didn't stick in spite of the fact that I do like Ike's books. I hung out with the Spiritualists for a bit but they were too monotheistic for me. I have quite a few acquaintances who are Satanists-- both theistic and the other variety. I think Aleister Crowley was a nutcase of a man who wasn't very nice to his women and who had some rather strange ideas. In spite of that, I get along well with my Satanist acquaintances and I find them to be intellectually highly stimulating. They are wonderful when it comes to a good debate too. My personal philosophy lies somewhere among the satanic camp and the secular humanist camp. I don't follow the Wiccan Rede and haven't ever. Neither one of my two teachers talked about the Rede. (And I hadn't heard about the Rede until several years ago. The third non-teacher was wiccanish and Rede-oriented). I have different ethics that inform my magical and other decisions.

Where I'm at now is that I do not acknowledge a traditional male g-d. Nor do I acknowledge the sort of bastardized duality that has taken over Wicca. Nor have I ever considered myself to be Wiccan. (That was a sticking point with the Correllians I tell ya). . I don't cotton to astrology or to the western version of karma or affirmations. Those things leave me cold. I don't care about reincarnation. I am not looking for a coven and I don't take on students. I'm not quite domestic enough to be a kitchen witch or trance-y enough to be a hedge witch (if they still exist these days), not scholarly enough to be a recon, not into blending stuff like the eclectics do. I am not a granny trad kid, not a psychic with great powers, claim no initiations or lineage or degrees or shamanistic insights.

Today I define myself as a witch with options. Sometimes I tend toward polytheism and sometimes toward atheism. Even during the more polytheistic phases, I believe that any g-ds and g-ddesses who exist are like us rather than higher or lower than us. I believe that life is sacred. I believe we are all sacred in and of ourselves. I endorse interdependence. Scientifically I am an evolutionist with no room for a First Cause or The One or any Universal Intelligence Factor. I do place some importance on my ancestors, consider myself to have been "called by The Old Ones" while leaving that phrase undefined, and my altars acknowledge the four elements and guardians who I know as Ancient Spirits of the four directions. I have developed a certain fondess for the art of Austin Osman Spare and the zaniness of Discordians as well as for the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the Invisible Pink Unicorn (bless her holy hooves), the Church of Google (unless Google ever sells out to the accursed Micro$oft), and Bob the Dinosaur.

I am spike, a solitary folk witch.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


She was a small puppy waiting for me on the floral couch on Christmas morning the year I was in fourth grade-- the same year (in April) that my mother and step-dad had married in a small chapel-- and I was delighted. I named her Fifi.

Fifi was a miniature poodle, a mini-poo for short though I didn't learn that bit til much later in my life. She was a jumper. She jumped over any concoction of gates and things build to keep her confined to the kitchen when we weren't home.

The following spring, my school had a "pet show." Every pet got a prize. It was really a feel-good pet show. Fifi won a blue ribbon for having the "brightest eyes."

Summer came and one Sunday my mother had insisted that I take Fifi with me on my day visit with my dad. The next Sunday, I didn't want to take her. When I came home that night, Fifi was gone. My mother said she had given her to my great-grandmother.

That was a lie. When we went to see my great-grandmother some months later, I was expecting to see Fifi and Fifi wasn't there. My mother never told me what she did to my dog.

Fifi was my first dog. And I will miss her forever.

sapphoq on life