In Honor of Beauty, Mystery, and a Life Well Lived

Teresa

Teresa Morgan, Sep. 20, 1956- Dec. 26, 2013
Rest in Peace. I love you.

Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, one of my closest friends died.

It wasn’t unexpected. But it did come more suddenly than we thought. The whole thing seemed to happen so fast.  Last year, we had plans to visit her and her sweetie on New Year’s day, and she decided to take a rain check as she had an important doctor’s appointment the next day. Nothing serious, she just wanted to get something checked out.

That something turned out to be cancer.

Less than a year later, she was gone.

We got the call on Christmas, as we drove home from Christmas dinner with my sister. Her husband wasn’t sure she would last the night. Thankfully she did, and was still with us when we arrived on December 26th. She passed at roughly 11:36pm that night.

Here’s the thing – her death, sad though it was, for she was far too young, was also strangely beautiful and inspiring.

Does that sound callous? Delusional? Did I make it beautiful in my own mind, to buffer myself from the pain of losing a dear friend? It is possible. However, I have  borne witness to 3 deaths. 5, if you count cats, which I do. They are family too, after all. Each death had a different quality. My father’s death, although fairly peaceful, was much more matter-of-fact.

Teresa was a trained magician. And honestly, I have no better explanation for why her death was so much more majestic than my father’s. She departed this world in an array of lights, shimmering blues and golds and whites. I began seeing these lights as soon as we got the phone call on Christmas night, and they lasted several days after her passing.

Admittedly, I have always been a very visual person. It’s as if my third eye came into this world on acid and never came down.  I have had to find a framework for this, and the language of magic fits better than anything else. Either that, or I’m in need of medication, but this interpretation has always felt annoyingly dismissive.

That said – Teresa’s passing was psychedelic as all get out.

This is what it felt like:

It was as though she was streaming out of her body for 48 hours. Gently diffusing like an essential oil, permeating the room with her essence, slowly and steadily rising out and up, as though she were rising on the plains. And the lights! The air around her was positively crackling with lights! Blue and green and white and gold – like fireworks. As her life force ebbed away from her body, the room was infused with this pulsing energy and light.

When she was gone, she was gone. Her body was an empty husk, nothing of her lingering.

And yet this perception of light lasted a good 3-5 days. My perception shifted to the view of all life as a river, that the things of our manifest world are not so solid as they appear, and that all life blinks in and out of the world of form in an endless dance of light and energy, never truly ending, just returning to a great sea of consciousness.

I have perceived the world like this off and on since childhood, and it has always struck me as somehow more “real” than our day to day mindset. It has always felt like an undercurrent that exists just beneath the surface of habitual perception. I don’t always live in this mindset, due to the need to participate in the day to day world. But it came back to me as a consequence of Teresa’s passing, as if she were leaving me a final teaching before she went, a reminder not to forget. It was utterly beautiful, to the point of ecstasy.

Were my brain inventing a story to protect me from the pain of  loss, I would expect comfort. But ecstasy?

Were my brain inventing a story to protect me from the pain of loss, wouldn’t it have produced a similar experience when my father died?

“What exactly is going on with consciousness?” remains, for me, one of the most fascinating question life has to offer.  What is this experience of life being a river, of the separateness and concreteness of matter being rather less absolute than they appear?  The postulation that we can explain away these experiences as mere brain chemistry does not hit the mark for me at all. It feels like just the very tip of an unimaginably vast iceberg. Why do we have these experiences? Why do they so often strike us as more profound than “real” life? These are the questions that captivate me. Our brains give us the ability to have them…but what purpose do they serve, and why does it feel so essential to who and what we are as humans?

I don’t have answers for these questions. I do have a conviction that these experiences are vital.

Larger questions aside, I sit with the observation that each death has its own story to tell, its own current that manifests as an extension of the quality of life that person lived. My father, who lived his life without any strong spiritual convictions, felt as though he sunk into the earth, dissipating into the elements and molecules. My friend Tara, who passed a few years ago, felt to several of us in the room as though she shot out her heart and into the body of Hecate. (Complete with a spontaneous song to Hecate shooting through T. Thorn Coyle at the moment of Tara’s passing).

Teresa felt as though she rose up into a vehicle she created for herself through years of magickal practice.

In writing this, it is not my intent to attempt to prove or disprove magick. Only to stay open to mystery. It is my will to acknowledge Teresa’s friendship, her wisdom, and to honor this feeling that as she departed, she left me a very great gift, a feeling that life is so vastly more beautiful and fascinating than we can ever imagine. Teresa was a friend that I spent many years exploring life’s mysteries with, and as she departed she gifted me with an experience of mystery that I will not soon forget.

Thank you Teresa. May you be blessed on your journey, and may we meet again!

The Quest for Enchantment

sunset-treesI haven’t been blogging as much as I’d like to lately.

I think it’s because I feel I have to be brilliant somehow. To say something deep and insightful. But I don’t always have something deep and insightful to say.

All I have is my journey.

I want to reset my intention here.

I want to remind myself that the theme of this blog is the theme of my life, really. That my response to the world’s suffering is to create beauty. To re-enchant the world, or at least, the small corner of it that I can touch.

And since that is also the theme of my life, I can trust myself, here on this blog. I can trust myself to share what is honest for me, in the moment that I sit down to write, and that whatever I write from the heart will be on topic. I don’t need to try and write something useful, or inspiring, or insightful. I can just write what comes, where I am at in this moment on the quest for enchantment.

For truly, every waking moment for me is a quest for enchantment.

And enchantment is right there bristling through everything. We just get so easily distracted. We don’t see it. I don’t see it.

The sufferings of the world are great. And sometimes I feel I must acknowledge these things. But really, I don’t know what do do about many of them, other than to try and hold space right here in my little corner for beauty. For kindness. For hope. For helping one another.

I am not an activist. I am more comfortable trying to live the changes I want to see in the world, and hopefully influence others by example. I’ve seen too many activists alienate people from the very cause they are fighting for. Too much “Us vs. Them”. I also know some skillful activists, but I don’t know that I could manage to avoid turning into an angry one. It just isn’t my superpower.

I sometimes feel bad about this.

I do not know how to make my government stop instigating war.

I always feel bad about this.

I am not a brilliant doctor who heals the sick. I am not a great innovator, creating new ways to serve the world. I am not a political pundit, with my finger on the pulse of our times.

What I am good at is seeing through the veneers of culture, news, and trends and into the timeless; the immediate, wild, beautiful grace that is the never-ending flow of life.  I know how to find the spirit of enchantment, and reflect it into the world through art. This is my superpower, and thus, it is from this place that my voice will sound most authentic.

Enchantment is a feeling I have quested after for as long as I can remember. Since childhood even.  My Dad had it, in his way, and it was one of the things I loved most about him. This quality has always felt like home to me.

Enchantment is an internal landscape, a mood that comes upon us, of wonder and delight. We feel the underlying rhythms of nature, and the whole world feels harmonious. Like music. We feel ourselves to be part of this rhythm. We may even feel ourselves to be in the presence of a God,  or Spirit. We sense the awareness, the presence of life itself. We feel a profound sense of belonging in these moments, that we are part of the soul of nature. We feel that we have a role to play in the unfolding destiny of life. Life feels brimming with purpose and meaning in these moments. In these moments, it seems we will prevail.

Of course, I don’t always feel this way. I am prone to depression. I feel outside of life sometimes. Separate and disconnected. So I do what I can to cultivate the conditions for enchantment, so that I can find my way back to this place relatively easily.

This blog is, ultimately, about that journey.

I believe that enchantment is our birthright.  I believe that delight and wonder, a sense of being a part of the miracle of life, the awareness that the magic that makes the plants grow is the magic that we are, is how we are meant to feel about life. Somewhere along the line, we have forgotten this.

And it’s no wonder. Nature is terrifying. And so we learned to protect ourselves from her. But we have lost something too. A sense of connection. A sense that we are a part of nature, and can not separate ourselves from her and thrive any more than we can cut a tree from its roots and expect it to thrive. I believe learning to live in harmony with nature is as relevant a quest as ever.

Finding a place of harmony in our world extends to finding it with each other, and within ourselves. To do this, we look for the music within us, and we wiggle around with it until it hits that sweet spot where magic is evoked. It is not a science, and it is not easy to talk about. It is more something that we intuit, and suddenly it comes upon us, the full moon cresting over the hill on a clear night, or a glint of melancholy in a stranger’s eye, and blam, we are enchanted.

We never know quite when it will touch us, but we do know that we can take steps to cultivate a spirit of openness. For truly, an open heart is essential.

So this is my hope, for this wee humble blog of mine. That as I wiggle around my own inner landscape in the quest for enchantment, that occasionally I strike a harmonic chord in you as well,  sparking a moment where magic happens, where the constructs of everyday life fall away, and we are in that timeless, miraculous place together. A place of gentle mist, a warm cup of tea, and a steaming bath waiting for you. A place of introspection and renewal.  A sanctuary that we share, and then carry with us out to the world.

For truly, the world needs enchantment.

Musings on Magic

Witches-and Pagans-cover-better-colorI have been featured on the cover of Witches and Pagans magazine!

This is exciting for me, as visibilty is the name of the game for us musicianly types, so thanks Witches and Pagans!

For those of you who didn’t already know, yes, I count myself among the Witches and Pagans of the world, being deeply inspired by a spirituality that promotes interconnectedness with all life, views nature as worthy of worship, and sees the divine and natural worlds as one. Also, I desire a spirituality that values experience over doctrine, which much of modern Paganism gives me.

I believe in magic because I experience it every day. Magic infuses every song I write. We can train our minds to see magic –  the undercurrent of creation that flows through every aspect of life – and know ourselves to be part of it by clearing the mind of conditioned thinking and allowing it to return to its natural state. This is something I have practiced for nearly 30 years, and it has become an essential part of who I am.

If you would like a glimpse into my magical worldview, check out this issue of Witches and Pagans!

If you’d like to delve more deeply into the world of magic, and get support for your practice with music-driven meditations and rituals custom crafted by me, I invite you to join The Ring of Enchantment.