Still Learning ~ Keys and Incense

I spent most of yesterday meditating on keys. No surprise there since the key is one of the primary symbols of Hestia.

Some of you may know that I recently got a new tattoo on my arm of a key, to symbolize my devotion to Hestia.

The top part of the key, within the circle (the circle being the artistic liberty of DO who designs and applies all of my inkwork) is a symbol we found online connected to Hestia, representing the hearth-fire.

This is probably my most meaningful tattoo to date. I wanted it somewhere I could easily see it because it represents, not only my devotion to Hestia, but my devotion to my home and family as well as my path as a Kitchen Witch.

In my meditations yesterday, I asked myself what keys specifically symbolize to me.

I remember the very first key I owned as a child and that was a very small key that came with a diary I was given for Christmas one year. That key symbolized privacy and the keeping of secrets.

A common symbol of keeping a secret as a child was to mimic the turning of a key over your mouth and toss the key away.

The next key I owned was a key to my childhood home. If you’ve been following the Facebook page, you probably know I’ve been dreaming a lot about that house recently. Perhaps it’s because of the thinning of the veil, perhaps it’s because I’ve been thinking so much about keys, and that house was the first place I owned a key to. For me, that key symbolized maturity and sanctuary. I had been deemed “old enough” to be responsible for a key to “home”. I could never be locked out or denied entry.

Another key from my childhood that I did not own but that I had access to, and was very important to me, was a key to what we called “under the house”.

Not a basement  really. You couldn’t stand upright and the floor of it was dirt. It got smaller as you went deeper in. This was the home of the hearth fire. The furnace, with the pilot light that was forever going out when you opened the outside door or a gust caught the gap at the back porch just right. It was also home to my most prized possession, my bicycle.

That key symbolized both the freedom my bicycle offered and protection. The safe-guarding of my bike was my first lesson in protecting the things that mattered to me.

Moving through life, keys have been a sign of status, a symbol of protection, a representation of holding the key to someone’s heart (remember the necklaces that were a heart and key), a symbol of safety and security, and a symbol of secrets.

We only “lock up” things that matter to us, things we wish to protect. We lock our cars and homes to prevent theft, we lock our doors to protect ourselves and those we love.

We lock up anything of value, including ourselves and our hearts, sometimes.

I realized that keys have played a major role in my life since my earliest childhood memories.

I also took some time last night and this morning to study the making of incense (a study that is on-going), another thing that has held much meaning in my life.

I have a thing about smells, both good and bad. My mother had the nose of a bloodhound and was all about smells. I’m sure that’s where I get it from.

Some of my other early memories are of my mother obsessing over smells. I was what my family called a “yard child”. Growing up, we weren’t allowed to sit in the house all day like kids are now. I was also a tom-boy. One of my mother’s first commands was “go take a bath, you smell like sweat and yard” or if I’d been playing with someone’s pet “go take a bath, you smell like wet dog”. She could tell where I’d been and what I’d been doing with one sniff.

She was just as funny about house smells. She was forever cleaning and being in her twenties in the 70’s, she was always burning incense.

I grew up with incense, lava lamps and bead curtains, some of the things I still love.

Even I find it surprising that I never learned to make incense. I’m really not sure how that skill passed me by other than because of the ease of simply purchasing them nearly everywhere until recently.

However it once escaped me, I decided one of the things I wanted to include in the shop next year (and make for myself) was incense and I’ve made it my business to start researching it. It’s a good thing I started early because I’ve gotten rusty on some of the associations for things outside of my spice cabinet in the kitchen, so part of that learning curve will be to familiarize myself with those associations again.

It’s been busy, as you can tell. I’m realizing that it’s a blessing in some ways that I haven’t been able to jump head-first into the store. This time to think and plan may very well end up being the difference between success and failure for me.


Honoring the Dead

The man in the picture was my grandfather, my mother’s father.

He passed when I was in my late 20’s and not a day goes by that I don’t miss him.

He was an unusual man, with an unusual sense of humor, and an unusual outlook on life. I loved him very, very much.

He was always good to me, even when I didn’t deserve it and I tried to pay him back by caring for him when he became ill.

I spent countless nights on a hospital cot when my own family needed me at home, so he wouldn’t be alone. There was nothing I wouldn’t have done for him if I could have.

This is the time of year when I remember him most frequently and clearly.

When I think of trying to live my life in a way that would make someone proud, he is one of the first people to come to mind.

When I need help, advice, guidance, it’s his voice I long to hear most.

He was my Papa and I loved him more than words can say. When I think of honoring an ancestor, he is one that was truly worthy of honor.


Bedside confessions

I sat by your bed and held your hand whispering words into the silence meant only for us. The time for talking past us, but there was still so much to say.

My words fell heavy on the floor to mingle with the tears and pain discarded there.

Unsure of you, unsure of me, I choked on all the things I wanted to say and settled instead for words that comforted no one.

Left alone in a world that had always felt too big, stepping into shoes that would never fit, promises we both knew no one would let me keep. Another failure in your eyes, I’m sure.

Holding on to the pain of a past I cannot change. Lessons learned in vain.

As I watched, I knew that time was running out for us, the veil stretched thin around me and I could hear the whispers of the other side and the soft Odin rides Sleipnirbeating of hooves in the stillness.

Who was I to hold your hand? Forgotten and left behind, but there was no one else. I wished for someone to hold mine but that was a luxury I’d never had.

I listened to the sound of the clock winding down and wondered where you were.  No soft touches, no visions of goodbye.  Just me, you, and the sound of hooves growing closer.

Maybe I should have wanted to stay, to be there when the clock stopped, but it was a pain I could not bear.  Lost and alone, I wandered the halls of pain and loss like a wraith seeking a comfort I would never find.

Even with the benefit of years between, it is a pain that I can recall at any moment, but with the pain comes anger.

Anger for the things neither of us said, for the things we could have been, the life I could have had if only things had been different.  If only I had held some small part of your heart in my hand as you had held mine.

How could you never see the pain you caused?  How could you not know that my life was dedicated to trying to find that middle ground of being myself and still have you love me?  How could you not at least respect the strength it must have taken to stand against you as no one else would?

Was I really so unlovable, as you had said over the years?  Was there nothing about the life you created that engendered the smallest amount of affection?

Was it me, or was it you?  I, living proof of the fact that even you sometimes failed, but the failure you saw was not the truth.  The truth was not that you had failed to keep up your charade.  The truth was that you failed me.

Written in an effort to deal with the passing of my mother nearly three years ago. It’s something I’m still working my way through.

Tick tock

My WordPress app on my phone has lost its mind. That’s ok, I guess, since I’ve been feeling about the same myself lately.

It’s hard sometimes in the flow of daily responsibilities to remember to make time for things that matter to us personally. Lately, I’ve been caught up in trying to get our ducks in a row to finally be able to move into our own place (no easy task when saving is the name of the game and you’ve never been good at it), getting an old Etsy store I made but never used, redesigned and up and running before I loose what little computer access I have, trying to be a wife, sister  Mom (Witchlet turns 21 in 6 days), grandma and more.

I think I’ve about conquered the Etsy store other than waiting on them to approve the name change (Tiger and I decided to go into business together on it with our crafts).

Sometimes I feel like I’m falling behind watching my sister craft. She’s got an immense talent for all things crafty that I missed somehow.

I have to remind myself (sometimes often) that although I do craft, our talents really lie in different places.  While she is good at making absolutely anything with her hands, I struggle with some of the techniques she uses.  On the other hand, my creativity comes from somewhere else. 

Oh sure, I craft.  I can make dream catchers and leather and bead key chains.  I can make Shrinky Dinks.  I can cross-stitch.  There are even a few of the things she does that I feel certain I could do, but where my creativity really comes in is in things like writing.  I know that might be hard to tell by looking at this blog. 

I don’t write as much as I should, or would like to.  When I do sit down to write, I’m usually either half asleep (like now) or in a hurry.  I don’t usually write what I need to write.

I guess part of me still fears negative judgement…in which case, the internet is probably the absolute worst place for me.  Another blogger recently said they were their own worst critic (not in those exact words, but that was the gist of it) and I identify with that.

I delete a lot of drafts.  Sometimes it’s simply that I start writing something, get pulled away, and then totally lose the flow of what I was trying to convey.  I think that happens to all of us sometimes.  Other times, I’ll decide that it isn’t good enough, or it’s too personal, or it went too far off where I meant to go with it.  Whatever the reason, I find myself clicking that delete button more often than I probably should.

In my last post, I wrote a little about having nightmares.  I have them often.  I used to write them down in a notebook after I got up, kind of like a journal.  If I go back and read those entries, I see a writing style that is free from bias and rules.  I write whatever is in my head without sensor (kind of like that last post, although some of the entries make that sound bland and tame) and some of it is really good, in a dark and twisted sort of way. 

It truly is a peek into the inner workings of my mind…but those were easy to write.  I wrote them only for me, never intending for anyone else to see or read them.  I can feel that freedom in the words.

For public writing, I often find it hard to have that same openness, that same “I don’t care how it sounds” vibe because I know that someone just might read it.  I have had a few comments on posts on here, so I know it’s always possible that someone will be intrigued (or bored) and read what I’ve written or even that someone from my family might read it (I haven’t exactly kept my blog a secret).

I’ve read on many blogs that the key to blogging success is to only write for yourself, not your audience, and to write in your own voice.  I get torn between the voice in my head and the voice I speak with.  They really are very different.

When I was young, I learned the hard way that not everyone understood my voice.  It was scattered, stock-photo-22009197-crazy-woman-locked-in-the-cage-with-chains-iiloud, sometimes incoherent, often dark.  Even now, if I let too much of that seep into my daily interactions, I get looked at funny or get the “WTF??”, even from people I’m close to.

I realize that not everyone is going to understand me or where I’m speaking from.  They have not lived my life, they have not lived my experiences, they don’t know what it’s like to live inside my head (it’s often a scary place, even to me).  I realize that no one really knows me, even though they think they do.

Trapped inside the person everyone thinks they know is a very confused, troubled and often disturbed woman yanking at the chains that keep her bolted firmly to the floor.  She is my “true voice”, but I find myself filtering everything she says in an effort to at least have a few people in my life that don’t run screaming for the hills.

When I started this blog, it was with a few ideas in mind.  A place where one day my daughter and granddaughter might truly understand me in a way I could never show them or express to them.  Free therapy, cause let’s face it, that crazy woman in my head could get some good use out of having a voice somewhere in this world, and a place to chronicle my personal spiritual journey.

I have used this blog for none of those things other than as a place to say “guess what I did today” and a few Pagan posts.  I have not really written about myself.  I have not, until this morning, written in anything even resembling my inner voice.  I have not written about my past.

Dealing with that crazy woman in my head is the only way I will ever truly heal.  Everyone says “you need to deal with your issues about your Mom and find a way to let that go so you can heal”, and yes, I’m very fucked up because of my Mom, but what no one knows, what no one understands, is that I have a crazy person trapped in my head that is the end result of years of abuse, years of addiction, years of denial, years of repression.  THAT is what I truly need to deal with to heal.

Yes, my Mom was a very bad mother.  Yes, she hurt me in ways that still sting even though she died 3 years ago.  No, I haven’t really dealt with all of those issues, but in truth, my truth, she was one of many.  One in a list of people that abused me in some way.

Now, don’t go feeling all sorry for me.  I’m nobody’s victim and I don’t want to be treated like one.  Yes, I have suffered, but many other people have.  What I choose to focus on is that I survived.  I might not be the most stable person you’ll ever meet.  I have issues that I can’t get over with some things, but I’m still standing.  There’s a crazy woman in my head, but I control her, not the other way around.

I managed to see a child into adulthood, I’ve been married almost 20 years and am seeing myself move into the Crone phase of my life.  I’ve held jobs, run households and all the things you would expect from any woman.  I’ve survived unspeakable heartache in my life, but it all made me stronger in so many ways.

I do know, though, that the only way I will ever heal is to let the crazy woman in my head have a voice somewhere.  I will, one day, have to confront her and all her demons.  I will have to try to find the courage to one day let her out of her chains because that crazy woman living in my head is the real me.

Snuggling with my demons…


Getting over the past is hard.  It is likely one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.  It’s a work in progress.


I carry a lot of baggage around from my past.  It’s not been pretty.  I’ve battled drug abuse, alcohol abuse and endured many types of personal abuse.  The road map of my life has often ventured into some of the darkest places I could have ever imagined, and I’m still trying to fight my way out of some of them.

Sometimes, I think I have found my way out, only to realize that I’m still in the grip of some of the psychological damage that remains from some of the things I’ve gone through.

Learned vs Environmental Behavior

Some behavior really is learned.  Sometimes it’s circumstances that teach us to react in a specific way and sometimes it’s merely learned as a survival instinct.  Trying to learn new behavior is often about as painful as the things that created it in the first place.

The Damage

I think one of the biggest psychological issues I’ve been left with is the fear of being abandoned by those I love (because it’s happened repeatedly in my past), and walking hand in hand with that is the fear of not being good enough.

Somehow along the path of my life, I learned that if I was deemed “not good enough” by those that I loved, that they would leave me no matter how much I loved or needed them.  This created a “people pleasing” complex that is one of my greatest struggles.

Negative Results

I have an overwhelming need to feel that someone, sometimes anyone, sees me as worthy of being loved.  It makes it hard sometimes to just be myself around anyone.

Although I desperately want to be accepted for who I “really am”, I often hide that person from the world out of fear that I won’t be “good enough”.  That I will be found to be “less than” in some way, and that I will loose the few people I have left.


When I love someone, I love hard.  That often makes me feel vulnerable, which is a feeling I’m not comfortable with.  I was raised to be strong and not show weakness. I was raised to believe that loving people and letting them see the real you, was weakness.  I was taught that the weak are devoured by the strong.  Growing up under the harsh and mostly loveless rule of my mother seemed to reinforce that.

My mother and the pain of not being accepted

In spite of the pain of relationship with my mother, I loved her.  Her self-imposed distance in our relationship was one of the most painful things I endured in my life.

I wanted us to be close.  I wanted her to love and accept me.  That was never to be, as even on her death-bed, she refused to even say the words to me.  I’ve always felt she saw it as a lie she didn’t want to carry with her into the afterlife.  I suppose I understand that much, but the question that haunts me every day, in every relationship I have ever had  with anyone, is why.  What was it about me that made me so unlovable to her?

We all need someone

My husband is a rock for me on this issue.  He has seen my darkest hours.  He has watched me spiral into drug abuse, depression and even complete mental and emotional breakdowns and he still stands by me.  I often forget that when I’m upset or angry and even try to hide myself from him at times because I’m always worried that “this time” will be more than he can handle.

I also consider myself very lucky to have my sister.  She is there for me in ways that I don’t think she realizes.  She’s always been someone I looked up to in my life.  Even though our paths have often led us in different directions and we’ve spent large chunks of our lives apart, I still know I can count on her to be there for me when it really counts and that means more than I can ever tell her.

They are my bright spots in the darkness.  The light that leads me out of my personal hell.  Their love and acceptance of me mean more to me than I could ever say.  They are constantly encouraging me, refusing to let me give up on myself, reminding me that not everyone sees me the way my mom did.  Reminding me that there is hope…and we all need hope…