Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

When Things Go Wrong

It’s a bad internet day today. Wireless is the only kind of connection available where I live, and the network can get very overloaded. I was kicked off several times this morning for long periods, and I can’t get access at all this afternoon.

As I cannot change this circumstance, I have been working on changing my response. In a moment of rare intelligence, the first time I lost access this morning I asked myself, ‘What is the opportunity here?’ I decided it was an opportunity to go back to bed and read or doze. I did both. Spouse and cats joined me. Such luxury! I was surprised how soon it was lunch time.

This afternoon may encompass many things. First of all it is an opportunity to write this blog post!

Of course this is not just a light-hearted look at my internet problems. When I catch myself doing something intelligent, I really ought to share it. When things go wrong, it’s always useful to ask oneself: ‘What is the opportunity here?’ Trust me, you’ll find one — at least one.

(And now that I have shared the learning, behold, I have access again, if only long enough to post.)

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Reluctant Gardener

I miss the smell of my freshly watered mint! I took such pleasure in it every morning, out there early with the hose before the day got too hot. But my mint is gone.

Now that we are settled in the home we expect to inhabit for the rest of our lives, I have at last been making some small progress in gardening. Witches should surely have that connection with the earth, I tell myself. But it doesn’t come naturally. When I was very young — maybe four — my Dad and my Grandma (his mother) thought to instill in me their own love of gardening. They selected a garden bed that could be mine, gave me a little trowel and watched encouragingly as I dug into the earth, turning it over in the way they showed me.

Out of that black dirt came a long, thick, moving thing, the length of my hand and half the width. Its huge, round, segmented body was a white so pale that it was almost transparent — like slime. It nosed about blindly as it encountered the light. I had never seen anything so repulsive. I shrieked, dropped the trowel and ran.‘It’s only a grub,’ they said, but I could not be persuaded back.

I didn’t try again until I was in my late fifties, in my third (and present) marriage. We moved from Melbourne to the Northern Rivers region of NSW, and eventually decided to try growing our own food. It wasn’t a great success. Our pumpkins proliferated, threatening to take over the planet. We simply couldn’t keep up with them, no matter how many we used and gave away. Our lettuces grew high stalks instead of bushy heads, with tiny, separate leaves like miniature branches. We were absolved from dealing with it all when the landlord decided he wanted to live in his house himself.

In our next house, I decided to grow some herbs and was quite proud of my efforts — until the landlady very soon dug them all up, thinking she was getting rid of weeds. After that, I grew geraniums. Nice, hardy, cheerful plants, they’ll grow pretty much anywhere and thrive even for me. But you can’t eat them.

In this present home, I discovered that the previous tenant had planted mint and cherry tomatoes, They both appeared suddenly, under the frangipanni tree out the front. I mulched the ground and built it up, to make a separate area from the lawn. I didn’t want my lawnmower man mowing my edible garden flat! The tomatoes grew in all seasons and we ate them for a year. Then they died.

The mint kept on, but some bug attacked it. It developed holes and brown spots. ‘Soapy water,’ said our handyman, so I put some in a spray and went to work. The holes and the discolouration stopped getting any worse. New mint grew up clean and whole.

The weeds grew up too, thick and strong. A ground cover with small, round leaves interspersed itself among the mint plants. Tough grasses pushed their way in under the tree. It all seemed far too much for me to tackle. Our friend up the end of the street had his 16-year-old grandson staying with him before going off to begin an apprenticeship as a gardener. I thought the lad might like to earn a few dollars, and asked if he would weed my mint bed for me. He would.

And so yesterday he did. I had already shown him the job, and he brought his own tools, so I left him to it. I told him to put all the weeds he dug up into the green bin, as there was a collection of garden refuse scheduled this morning. When he knocked on the door an hour later to say he’d finished, he looked endearingly proud of himself. I went to see. He’d taken everything — mint and all!

What could I do? I thanked him and paid him. Later I looked in the green bin, thinking to find some of the good sprigs of mint and replant them. They were buried deep, not visible. I gave up. The ground under the frangipanni can go back to lawn — which in many ways will be easier. Well, it’s the dark of the moon, a time for endings ... and a time for new beginnings.

Round the back I’ve got some herbs which are trying hard to survive the heat, and a single broccoli from the three seedlings I planted some months ago. The back yard might the place to plant new mint and tomatoes. I miss the smell of freshly watered mint!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Of energy balance, missing books, and finder gnomes.

Energy balance

Magick takes many forms. I view it basically as moving energy, and there are many ways to do that.

Sometimes it’s about restoring balance. If someone owes you money and won’t pay, have a look and see if YOU have outstanding debts you’ve forgotten, and pay them. If your marital relationship is breaking down, by all means try and fix it, and also look at your other relationships (family, friends, work colleagues) and do whatever it takes to restore vitality to any of those which are flagging. 

In other words, you shift the whole energy around relationships, or money, or whatever it may be. You treat the presenting problem as a symptom of imbalance in that aspect of life, and set about putting to rights whatever you can. Which is what I’m up to now, with regard to some particular treasures.

Missing books

Since we’ve been in this home, nearly two years now, every so often I find myself missing books  — special books, books important to me, and interestingly enough quite large books physically. They didn’t get lost in the move; they have been here, and were put on the shelves in the right places. In some cases — not all — I have even found gaps on the shelves where they were.

This being a smaller unit than we had, with one less room, most of our bookshelves are in the garage. This garage will never house our car — as well as library, it is consulting room, classroom and temple. It is where I give psychic readings or Reiki treatments, or teach Reiki, and it’s where I do my more formal magickal rituals when, for some reason, the outdoors doesn’t work. In other words, I’m in there on my own, or with clients or students who are only there in my company.

Even if any of these students or clients would steal my books, which frankly beggars belief considering the kind of people they are, I don’t see how they could possibly manage it. It seems even more improbable that someone on this quiet street watches to see when we go out, checks in case we have left the garage unlocked, and then unerringly selects my favourite (and largest!) poetry anthologies or magickal tomes to make off with. Yet there aren’t many nooks or crannies in the unit where such large items could stay concealed. 

Energy imbalance

A mystery. And, as I don’t want to lose any more books, time for action! It’s not hard to see where things are out of balance. I am very bad at returning books I’ve borrowed. I do, and I look after them meanwhile, but it can take ... years! This is not from malice or greed, just that I am a terrible procrastinator and don’t get around to it. I decided this week that if I want my books to turn up, I had better stop hanging onto others that don’t belong here.

I had been carrying two parcels of books around in my car, waiting for the opportune moment, but never bumped into the people, and passing their houses would have taken me out of my way. One is a lady whose energy I no longer like to be around, so I guess I was putting it off for that reason too. (Never mind that hanging onto her books might keep her energy present in my space — duh!) So, on the way home from the writers’ group on Friday, with for once a bit of time to spare, I took a slight detour and dropped her books off at last. Luckily for me she wasn’t even there, but had someone staying to whom I gave books and message.

Next came a sudden opportune moment. Dear Spouse landed up in hospital yesterday after some worrying symptoms, and is being kept in for observation. I’m glad to say he doesn’t seem too sick, and is in excellent spirits. When I was visiting yesterday, he was being nursed by the wife of the man whose book I still had in my car. I raced down to the car park, got it, wrote a note for her husband, and gave her the package.

Now I have one more to attend to. The owner has moved around over the years and no longer lives within coo-ee, but I can still reach him by email. Every so often I request his latest postal address, which he gives me, then I do nothing more. The reason is that it’s a huge tome which will be expensive to post, and I always run out of money before I get it away. But at the moment I have enough to cover it, and it WILL go tomorrow (Monday).

Finder gnomes

Perhaps that will shift the energy enough to allow my books to turn up. But I do have another little witchy trick up my sleeve. These are our finder gnomes (standing in front of a postcard of the Mt Warning Caldera):

Whenever we lose something, we ask the gnomes to find it for us. It always turns up promptly, and we show our gratitude by giving the gnomes another stone to enjoy, which we pile in front of them in a big abalone shell. (Gnomes like stones. So do I, so it’s no trouble to find wonderful stones to give them.) With the books, I felt I must re-balance the energy before asking the gnomes. 

Aha! You see — I have been feeling guilty about these books which I borrowed and hung onto so long. Guilt is a severe energy drain. Best to clear it. Also we have a tendency to start subconsciously punishing ourselves for our guilt — an attempt to restore the balance, but not a useful or healthy one. It wouldn’t surprise me to discover that I have misplaced my own books. We shall see.

Does the psychological interpretation invalidate the magickal one? I don’t think so. It’s all energy.