I Am My Grandmother’s Granddaughter.

I Am My Grandmother’s Granddaughter

It is Samhain and as much as I love the decorations and the fact that I can openly proclaim I am a witch, it is honoring my ancestors that drives this festival. Every route to my ancestors begins and ends with my deeply beloved grandma.
A decision by my parents when I was six months old to have me live with my maternal grandparents altered the course of my life forever. I ended up living with them for six years and after that every holiday, most weekends and summers even after they moved from that beloved tiny town. We would come into Milwaukee for family dinners ( my fathers very large family) and holidays. I was always with my grandparents and when they left any event I usually went with them.

My grandmother was the source of all herbs, potions, lotions, helped deliver a few babies and dealt with farm animals in Hustisford, Wi. Doctors and veterinarians were very scarce in that tiny town, especially when she moved there in the 1930’s. Divorced, a single mother, excommunicated by the Catholic Church during The Depression she managed to forge a very good life for both herself and my mother. Not an easy task. Small towns throughout America held deep bigotry against Catholics, excommunicated or not. It was my mother that was dealt the worst blow from that bigotry. An incident that was never forgotten and left the young man who delivered it with a justly deserved miserable life. My mother was terrified of her father and my grandmother who divorced him because of his unacceptable treatment of my mother, was not willing to let her continue to suffer. She shrewdly offered her ex-husband to give her a one time payment and then to never see my mother or her again. Oscar’s lifestyle was hampered by a having a child, my mother, once born, he had little real interest in, other than scaring her, so he willingly accepted. Grandma then had enough money to become the proprietor of the Lone Pine Tavern, the only place you could get alcohol for many miles. She had all the locals throughout the year. In the 1930’s people did not bring alcohol fifty miles from Milwaukee or many more miles from Chicago with them as they opened summer cottages on the islands in Lake Sinissippi , including my father’s very large family. All of them would give her orders each week for what they wanted. She remarried in 1938 to my very dear and beloved grandfather, a lapsed Lutheran, setting tongues to wag. He would be the man I would come to judge all others by. Only one has truly held up.

My grandparents understood how to let me have what they called “a thinkabout ” . A quiet loving environment where I was allowed days before answering questions or talk about what bothered me. As an adult I realize both how rare and truly special it was for them to respect my introverted nature that wanted time to look at all possibilities and to really let all my feelings surface before answering questions or asking ones I had. They were quiet people who spoke volumes in touches, glances and a word or two. I learned about real love from them. Truth is without them I would never have learned nor known how to truly be happy or create a very happy marriage.
Any months when the lake was not frozen, was filled with many moon lit row boat rides, especially full moons. In that boat grandma would fill me over and over with her stories of Baba Yaga, Freya, Frigga, Skadi and host of other Goddesses that she only shared with me. She would repeat my favorite fairy tales, ones that were “Cinderellaesque”, without a prince, but always with a girl who usually had a doll in her pocket and Baba Yaga. She told me tales of a princess who had a glass heart that was broken so her heart would become larger. Every story I know about Faery came from both she and my grandfather who was both a believer and storyteller in his own right. They guarded and grew my empathic abilities, took me for walks in the woods almost daily. I learned about life and death as we would walk through the ever changing seasons with plants that appeared dead to only return each spring and find baby animals or dead ones. Grandpa insisted that even very young children should understand the cycles of life and death thus insuring I would fear neither. Both of them helped me understand land spirits and elements including the stillness of bitter white winters. Grandma insisted that if I wasn’t at least a little dirty, stained with grass, trees or plants, wet from the lake or snow and without my beloved raven during the day and owls that nested in the maple tree outside my bedroom at night, I simply had not had a proper day. She would buy the odd pieces of any china that neighbors were selling. Tea, supper was filled with miss matched china that no one worried if it got broken. Nothing is more magical than when adults trust a four year old with real china, pearls and a beautiful dress my Aunt Celia would have recut around a stain or cigarette burn and sewed just for me to wear as I pleased. Grandma was comfortable with eating baked cabbage with neighbors as she was eating a twelve course dinner. By the time I was six I knew how every fork, knife, spoon and even the odd escargot thongs were to be used. It was her belief that I should be comfortable in any setting with any combination of people that gave me great confidence to go anywhere, make friends from every walk of life and become whatever I wanted, if only for a day.

Grandma loved their home. She had five gardens that included a large wonderful vegetable garden and lots of wild berry bushes. She had every kind of tree that would grow in Wisconsin. I believed she could grow anything. She also had a second structure, “house”, my favorite, that was built by my grandfather and neighbors who had never found a way to thank my grandma for all the help she had given with her healing ways and my grandfather who never turned off anyone’s electricity regardless of whether they could pay or not when he owned the electric company during a good part of The Depression. The neighbors had lots of construction materials and skills. A few of the very rich ones bought hot house glass and any materials that others did not have access to. They built a house that dried herbs, stored herbs, winter food, and a hot house that grew plants and flowers year round. My grandparents were able to do a smaller reconstruction of that house when they had to move to Milwaukee because of my grandfather’s health.
A single significant memory; when news of Bloody Sunday reached my Great Aunt Celia, the matriarch of my father’s family, my grandmother brought her an Easter Lily from her hot house. A moment that still finds me overflowing with tears and love. While my grandmother on the whole disliked my father’s family for very good reasons, she and my Aunt were best of friends and the two women I could completely trust with anything, I mean anything at all.

My grandmother came to live with us after my parents divorced. I would love to tell you that it was wonderful. It drove that final wedge between my mother and me and left my grandmother having to prove daily that her daughter came before her granddaughter until the day she had enough. And grandma squarely told my mother if she forced her to make a choice it would not be her. My mother unable to discuss anything regarding her decisions, feelings, this very weird sibling rivalry she felt with me, to dismiss us both. I began eating with my grandmother in her room. It gave us unlimited private time and left us both grieving the loss of my mother in our lives. It was my grandmother who told me to move as far away as I could get and not to look back. She assured me, my mother would not come to visit and would treat me as a distant guest when I would come home to visit. I ultimately decided that was far better than futile attempts to get her to work this out. My sorrow was more for my grandmother than me. My mother had been the center of her life and she did not deserve this.
My grandpa died when I was ten. It was shattering for me and it was my grandma who sat with me in our grief for all the years after. She did not die until March 15, 1984. It is an inconsolable grief , the kind that you simply have to carry for life.

Blessings,

Bridget Robertsonimage

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Brigid.

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BRIDE, BRIDEY,
BRIGANTIA, BRIGANDU, BRIGGIDDA,
BRIG, BRIGHID, BRIGIT,
BRIDGE, BRIGITTE, BRIDGET,
BREO SAIGHEAD, and many more.

 
Brigid, whether Goddess or Saint is known across Ireland, the British Isle and much of Western Europe as “The Exalted One”.
An ancient Goddess, so ingrained in the hearts and souls of the people that the Catholic Church made her a saint. She is beloved as both. In my life she was always present from a distance, exerting only one influence. It is an aspect usually mentioned as a footnote.
Amongst her many attributes, she is the Goddess of smith craft. Perhaps it is because so many like the the warmth of her spring return, or her promise of new life, or the patroness she offers to poets and writers that keeps this aspect almost forgotten. I suspect we are weary of war and anything to do with it. Yet, to not know this, misses so much of her essence.

 
A fiery, shining Goddess and Saint that has numerous sacred wells dedicated to her would be odd without understanding the essential role of smith craft. She has been tempering me since birth. This is not a girlfriend, but a serious Goddess working from the pit of a dirty, sweaty forge. She has watched and tended the fires of my life changes and difficulties. Then hammered my insecurities and uncertainties , honing the new skills I attain to unfold my resilience. At the end I am lowered into waters of life that determine of what real strength I am made. We do this jointly at precision temperatures and time. Or, I, like the physical act of sword making would shatter, or become too soft with useless dullness taking over. The sword of my being is returned to cut through the dross, leaving only the essentials I need, use and love. Shields emerge to defend time and core essence, protecting myself and those I love from the unnecessary noises of life that would drain life loves, passions, accepted commitments and the ever changing wheel of life’s surprise losses and fortunes.

 

This is her annual visit. Surprisingly, I have found her within me this year. Though, I expect She will give way to the two Goddess’s who chose me. She will watch from a distance until my life will be baptized by her fire and water once more.

__Bridget Robertson

Because it is Not Portable

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We are moving

A different kind of post today.

Strange as this may be to some, many of my husband’s ¬†and my spiritual practices as pagans ( a catch all term for anyone not practicing one of the three major Abrahamic religions) are tied to the land we live. While we honor and connect through the Goddess, it is our everyday contact with Faery that binds us to our earth religion. We developed and practice a tradition we based on the land we live. It is foremost involved with the nature spirits of the land we stand on, the ancestors of the same land and the ancestors of our bloodlines. We have bloodlines of the northern European people, especially the Celts.

The bloodline traditions are moveable, they reside within us. They are not the foremost part of our spiritual practices. It is easy to follow bloodlines. Following the spirits inhabiting the land is not easy. In Ireland and elsewhere these are often called Fairies. They are nothing like Disney. I have found that the work of R.J. Stewart, John Matthews, Wendy and Brian Froud , even Charles DeLint and current researchers like Carolyn Emerick and several others to be very accurate when understanding our intertwining with them.

The nature spirits that inhabit Texas are very different than the ones in Arizona. If you do find this strange, think about The Trail Of Tears. The forced moving of the Cherokee’s not only caused sickness, hardship and death, it also caused a fracture between them and the land they were immersed in. Their spirituality was not portable. The ways of the woodlands, flora and fauna were integral to their everyday lives which was interwoven with their spiritual lives. Again, nature spirits in Oklahoma are nothing like the ones in Virginia. As a separate race, the Fey, are often very wary of humans. We were suppose to be their partners in preserving the primal blueprint of the land we share with them and all of nature. We as a species have been less then stellar when it comes to holding up our end of this bargain.

John’s and my practices will make adjustments and changes as we are invited and hopefully over time welcomed by these beings. And time it will take. They are not in any hurry. Time moves differently for them. It is the job of humans to meet them on their terms. In some ways this is the hardest part of moving. We will be uncomfortable for awhile.

Our religion is nature. It is our church and all land is holy ground for us . Our acceptance must be earned. We are willing.

Blessings to all.

Bridget

The Music Of My Life Carrying Me Through The Great Dark.

By Bridget Robertson

I’ve learned to ride the wave of the currents. There is nothing like music to put you on those waves and finally set a course.

Trust either Mary Chapin Carpenter or Stevie Nicks to stop me cold. Just long enough to get out my emotional surfboard and stay on it, until I find new shore, one I have never explored.

“Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?”

“Landslide”
Writer(s): Stevie Nicks
Copyright: Welsh Witch Music

On any day, one piece of music, some or many of lyrics can begin the journey.

The lyrics ask great questions. I have officially celebrated the turning of the wheel for the last thirty-five years, since I was twenty. I have watched and participated in the ever changing, many faces of the Goddess. This Samhain is different. The veil opened immediately after the Autumnal Equinox. Maybe it’s my life threatening cancer, maybe it’s getting older. Either way there are a lot of ¬†waves and landslides coming, more and more frequently.

Conventional wisdom would say turn to, or on a light. My wisdom says that light can be blinding. We seem to rush through the dark time of the year, holding our breath until the first signs of spring. Not now. Not this time. Not ever again. In a world that entreats us to squelch the dark as quickly as possible, I say it’s time to seek it, hold on to it and find the real beauty within it. It doesn’t need to be expelled. It beckons and needs to be explored. Today I found a brand new shore within it.

I found my tears, in “Landslide”, a song that I will just keep on repeat, until all the tears are finished wringing from my body. These are not just eye tears, no, my whole body is releasing floodgates of sorrows, losses and pain. In this dark there is a tenderness that is excruciatingly fragile and necessary. Embrace it and it will break. Touch it ever so gently it will send a comfort unlike any other. It will move through every nerve within you. Stay with it and it will offer a delicate, nuanced—–repose. I love that word. It’s archaic meaning is “give rest to”. Samhain and it’s Goddeses have found me a place of rest until the body tears and pains have finished this round.

I will spend the next seasons in the dark, exploring the deep end of the water, violent waves and caves. It is only frightening if I stop trusting myself to feel my way through. This is no place for eyes or the sight of light. It is both tactile and emotional. There are many sounds concealed here as well. All of them are music. Not all are harmony. Still, an invaluable orchestra that pleads to be heard. There are voices that want expression and words seeking writing. Some of them are internal. Most have external companions in this chamber. Once heard and felt they are my responsibility. Their expression is as vital to life as any we find in the newness of spring. Maybe more so. The land needs for things to decay, decompose and restore it’s fertility. It is the way of life. Without it, we become dust bowls swept away with every breeze and thought. Depth is my home. It is where I learn how to navigate the landslides. This is my unfoldment. This year I am one of the record keepers.

My portal is in music.

Blessings to all.