So much…So much…

I’m bringing up Keith Campbell’s death again because his memorial was last Sunday.  His friend’s who loved him loved him TREMENDOUSLY! I honor their love and understand it. I have some amazing friends who I’d find that deep grief for if lost.  I cried a lot of tears. Tears for loss. Tears for joy. Tears for friends. And it was catered beautifully with fancy cheeses, dried cured meats, olives, and my favorite, CUPCAKES! (I love cake).

The weekend before the memorial was my first Fire Circle at an amazing place called Circle Sanctuary.  My long time friend, Ann, wanted to share this place with me. It was in a farming area near Barneveld, WI. One of the prettiest places I’ve ever been to. It almost beat out the vineyards in Europe. Almost.brook

I got to walk around a blazing fire screaming “FUCKER” when talking about family problems. And then I was pretty happy I did it.  So much of my anger and resentment disappeared in that moment.  Oh, it is still there, but its changed shape. I hold the anger more like a cumbersome large pillow, not a burning rock causing my blood pressure to rise!

It was very interesting to see everyone’s process. Some were contemplative. some were very physical, some were really vocal, and others varied between all the different stations set up.  It felt important to me to know where people were in the circles. It helped me balance my own energies.  Now, exactly what folks were doing and what they’re thinking is up to them, but it really helped me to know who was around me.  I think that’s the Bluestar Ritual priestess in me.  Always finding balance.

At Circle Sanctuary, there were hills and hills and hills.  I did not get a chance to see their “green” cemetery because I didn’t have the physical health to climb to it. Leaving there, I knew if I wanted to go back I needed to be in better physical shape. For many painful reasons I felt disappointed in myself for not being able to do more chores for the sanctuary’s upkeep.

On the 3rd morning, I went down to their renovated barn to take my meds. I wasn’t able to make it back up to the circle because my back,  feet, heals, and legs hurt so much I was in tears. After a cocktail of pain meds, I was finally able to get up and go to breakfast. Not without much guilt that I didn’t help more taking down.

Huge lesson for me about my health. I want to go to these pagan gatherings but my physical pain reached a scary maximum.  My friend Cindy and I discussed last Saturday  how I could do Weight Watchers at home without having to pay.  The weight loss will help so much and I really want and need to be a participant in this world, not just a vicarious spectator.

So, spiritually I feel like I’ve really done some work. Whether it be processing Keith’s death, or processing my own bullshit.  So many new lives touching my life at Circle Sanctuary. Old friends and acquaintances showed for the memorial. I have found new music. I have met new friends. I have prayed in my own powerful way. To help even out my blood relative love,  I’ve even reconnected with my dad and brother via phone since I got back. Very good to hear from them.

Its been ten years since my mom passed and I don’t think you ever stop processing deep grief.  But you learn to move and work through it.  I was in a horrible place the week before the “death date”. But I know why, and I know now many ways to deal with this rock.

anndawnjon!!!Very happy note!!! Ann and I on our way home went through Sparta, WI to see our sweet friend, Jon!  His knick name in college was Super Happy Boy. I think he even went as Super Happy Boy for Halloween one year. He’s so busy with theater in his area! It was great to hear about all of his creative endeavors.  We cannot go 13 years again without seeing each other.  I just *sniffle* miss him so much.

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Funerals for Pagans.

Trigger warning—pic of deceased

How I will remember him. Except he's not in that damn bathrobe. ;-)

How I will remember him. Except he’s not in that damn bathrobe. 😉

Ever since I started circling with Bluestar, I started to visualize Pagan’s I knew dying who were ailing from cancers.  I knew with Christians it was so quiet, rarely any music, and sometimes the Pastor made it in time to read Psalm 23.   Then my mother’s pastor arrived in the last moments of her life, which is rare, he read:

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
And I felt the divine magic that Pagans try to produce with every ritual they do. But somehow, these words were my mother’s chosen words. This was her magic. And it happened.  It was like her permission to enter the afterlife. My mom was surrounded by her husband, her two kids, her daughter-in-law, and her best friends, Yvonne and Lynn.  I wasn’t able to sing or chant for my mom. I could barely talk.   I had no good words for my mother’s passing. Thank goodness for Psalm 23.
However, whenever I knew of a pagan ailing of a disease, I’d hear chanting in my head. Then when I was in the shower or alone in the house, I’d sing:
We all come from the Goddess
And to Her we shall return,
Like a drop of rain
Flowing to the ocean.
Hoof and Horn, Hoof and Horn
All that dies shall be reborn
Corn and Grain, Corn and Grain
All that falls shall rise again

It was my way of coping with the possibility of their death.  Sometimes, I couldn’t get through the first verse without tears. I just imagined this is how they’d want to be surrounded when their time came. Music, hand holding, incense, oils, flowers, tears, laughter, and poetry was my envisionment of my friend’s send off.

So far the only Pagan I’ve known personally who had this for him was Keith.  My idea of the perfect dying was inspired by this episode of ER where an elder of a buddhist community dies and she/he is surrounded by monks and nuns chanting.  It was years ago, but I thought, “YES! That is how I want to go!”  The Catholics inspired me too when my neighbor Linda died in a very similar manner to Keith. Linda’s Catholic church was lit up with incense, candles, an amazing eulogy, and passionate singing, bending on knee, and freely flowing tears.  Again, magically uplifting so spiritual  you almost thought Linda was floating around the sanctuary like an angel.  Or whatever, but you could feel her there because this was her’s

Letters for our dearly departed

Letters for our dearly departed

I think about 30 people in the Bluestar Tradition, including me, have said in response to Keith’s beautiful send off to the afterlife, “That’s what I want! That’s how I want to pass!”.  Quite honestly, I thought that’s what everyone wanted all along, My pagan peeps anyway.  In this experience, I’m learning that I need to verbalize my needs.

Sharing pictures of Keith because he’s the most recent passing.  Eventually I WILL find the pictures of my mother holding my daughter as a very little baby.  I want to post those too because its so important remember.

Young Keith

Young Keith

keith-death

I like this version of “We All Come from the Goddess”, but some of the photos are a bit corny for me.

Lost an old friend today.

Deep Peace to You
Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the infinite peace to you.
– Adapted from Ancient Gaelic Runes

My fondest memories of Keith Campbell, Aspen as he was known in circle, were the time I ran into him at the Twin Cities Pride and when I went with him on tour with a choir called One Voice Mixed Choir. I am pretty sure I was with my friend Amy at Pride and I was disappointed that I hadn’t seen anyone I knew . All of a sudden I look up and there is Keith standing there alone.  I yelled, “Keith!”  When he turned to see me,  he smiled and we greeted each other with hugs.  Honestly, I do not remember much after that. But it was such a neat coincidence that one second I was wondering, ” Where were all my gay boyfriends?”, and the next second there was smiling Keith.

Years later we were both in a LGBT choir together called, One Voice Mixed Choir.  We were on a little tour of some cities in Northern Minnesota.  Quite a few folks went to the Judy Garland museum in Grand Rapids. Keith couldn’t wait to find me because he found this round table at the museum that had an amazing spiral swirling out from the center of it.  The spiral was running the “wrong”‘ direction, but other than that it would be perfect for a Bluestar* Altar.

My husband really enjoyed Keith and seemed to want to do so many things with him and for him.  Sometimes I resented it, because my hubby should have been doing other things like homework or cleaning our house. However, my spouse never regretted it

Keith lived unapologetically. Even when his way wasn’t what a majority of people approved of, he didn’t care. He kept on the same path that he’d been on.  So many times he would find the odd person out and create bonds with them making them feel welcomed and loved.  He found ways of using Pagan poems, chants, and songs uniquely.  Once at choir, I was staving off an anxiety attack and he worked his magic through a chant to ground me.

I admit it, I envied how Keith’s brain remembered and used so much knowledge.  Often I feel as if I have an empty head.  This feeling isn’t true. When I’m helping teach about my tradition, I find that I know way more than I give myself credit.  I just haven’t dedicated my life to teaching and knowing Bluestar the way Keith did.  That’s okay because everyone has their uses and place on this crazy planet.

I was far from Keith’s best friend but he left an impression on my life that will never be erased. I am so happy for that.

“Hail! The Traveler!”

*What is Bluestar?

Beginning with death

I start this blog about an hour after I find out a person I know is dying very quickly.  His body is ravaged by cancer and taking him away from us.  Myself, I do not want him to suffer.  I know he wanted more time, but the door is opened and he’s peering to the other side.

Whatever that is?  I’ve never seen a ghost so I’m not sure what is there.  If he’s aware that he’s going quickly are there shadows there? Are there lights?

In our Pagan Tradition he is beloved by many  So many tears are falling right now. Many nights of sleep are being lost to tears, keening, and staring off into space.

Goddess, please don’t let my friend’s passing be long and suffering. Please take him gently and swiftly because he doesn’t deserve this agony. He deserves peace, light, and freedom.

BUT DAMN! I’m going to miss him so much.

Best Song about Hermes Ever:  

Have you called before your time?
Rest your head against me Im a friend to travelers.
Hold me tight my wings are strong,
Wrap your arms around me
Its a long way through the tunnel to the light.
Speeding through the fields of flowers,
Silver skies with distant showers
My sister brought them
All the seeds in spring were sown,
How the tendriled vines have grown
So full in Autumn
May I say you seem too strong,
Loose your silver hair
‘Cause its a long way through the tunnel to the light.

Fates are poised above the strings,
They know the span of life and wings,
You are not of them.
See the life these travelers chose
Highway lamps on open roads
That shine above them
Do your fingers want to feel
Tunnels made of dampened steel
And why pretend that youre so dull
May I say youre beautiful
It makes me want to turn this thing around,
Youll ride with me tonight,
You will ride with me tonight,
You will ride with me tonight.