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Yesterday was a trying day.  It was one of those days when it seems like everything that could drain my energy, did.  So like most people I took a look back to see what it was that seemed so draining and it was no surprise to me.  My day started off amazing but one incident was all it took to remind me what the world is really like.

Most of you that know me personally know that my work as a Chaplain is not the only thing that I do.  For those of you who I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting in person yet, I do a lot more than my work at Hendricks Chapel.  I have a wonderful husband whom I should say takes care of me, we have a small 56 acres to care for and I own my own business – a small metaphysical shop in Oswego, NY.  Beyond that I write, study and teach all the time.  My time is stretched, but in a good way and I wouldn’t really change any of it.  I enjoy my life without regrets and with a multitude of smiles! But yesterday was a reminder of the work that is left in front of me, in front of all of us.  Yesterday the world walked through the door of my shop in the form of an old woman with a question.

184312_719247819725_28406679_36325422_539982_nI had watched her standing outside of my front window looking at the statue of “the lady” in the window.  Finally she came in from the cold and approached me at the counter.  Her question was “who is that in the window?”  I knew the look, the tone, the accusation and I answered her “that is the moon goddess.”  “Who” she asked and I repeated that it was the moon goddess.  She told me that at first she thought it was a statue of the Virgin Mary but had looked and saw that her lap was empty, there was no Jesus, and she was confused.  After all, this is the beginning of the celebration of Christmas which is the celebration of the birth of Jesus.  Her face was harsh and so were her words.  She continued on that people have forgotten that the real reason for this time of year is to celebrate the birth of our lord and savior Jesus and they don’t go to church to say thank you.  She explained she had disowned her daughter for not going to church anymore and thought it a right punishment.  And then she asked the big question: “Is that a mockery of the Virgin Mary?”  I told her no, it wasn’t, it is the Moon Goddess and not a mockery at all.  She looked back at the window, the Goddess who holds in her hands the offerings of many, and then stated I needed to take it out of the window.  People would be offended by mocking the Virgin after all, especially this time of year.  Besides she said, we all have to answer to god including her but stated she had all the right answers.

Yes, I had forgotten, or at least had not been reminded in a while, what the world is like and apparently I needed a reminder in the form of an old woman.

As she walked out of the shop she turned and looked at me and the Reiki Master standing with me and told us to have a Merry Christmas.  I wished her warmth for the night and blessings of the season and then she was gone.  With her, hate and ignorance left as well but in her wake she left anger and painful reminders that while a great deal has changed nothing has changed.

The anger dissipated quickly but the reminder has remained.  But it is different from before.  The reminder is that a lot of work yet to be done is waiting.  It was a reminder that I cannot change the world, but I can control how I respond to hate when it walks up to me.  But mainly it was a reminder of the need to create more space where ignorance can be challenged and understanding can be fostered so that acceptance can be achieved.

So to the little old woman who walked in to my shop – may the blessings of the Goddess be with you that she might teach you the compassion you so desperately need in your life.  To the old woman’s daughter and everyone else – may the blessing of patience be yours.  The earth moves slowly but change does happen in time including the changing of minds.

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Every now and then a moment comes along and it hits you – this is what it is all about.  Last week when the final stone was laid it was one of those moments.

Last Monday was the day that all the work on the stones was finished.  I hadn’t planned on being outside when the stones were actually laid into the ground but a friend needed a little fresh air so outside we went.  The day was cool, cloudy and threatening rain; for me it was a perfect day.  As we walked outside I pointed out the holes for the stones to our right, but in front of us we noticed a purple and white banner on the quad.   Neither of us quite knew what it was for but it seemed interesting.

We continued our conversation as we began to watch what was unfolding – it was a ceremony by the Native Americans Students at Syracuse (NASAS). As they began their celebration of song and dance I heard noise coming from the area where the stones where.  The stones were going into the ground at that moment.  I struck me then.  I was standing at a point of convergence.  I was in front of the Chapel, a place most associated with Abrahamic religions and at the same time witnessing traditional Native American ceremony through song and dance while a stone circle was being laid for Pagan gatherings.  Hendricks truly is a place of interfaith dynamics; a home for all faiths and a place for all people.

Not one of these things took precedent over the other.  The Chapel, the stones and the dance all had equal value and all were living in harmony with one another in the same virtual space. Isn’t this what true respect and diversity is supposed to be?  I believe so.

A few days later I was asked a question that I had never been asked before: “When people bring their religions and traditions to a new land how do they reconcile and respect the spirits of the land who are already there?”  I thought about it for only a second reflecting on the events of the previous Monday and my response was easy.  You ask permission.  When I began the process of requesting the stones seven years ago I did two things.  The first was in the original proposal I simply stated that the University has a unique and solid connection to Scotland and while all cultures in one way or another have some sort of connection to stones and megaliths Scotland’s connection is special.  Scotland has more standing stones and stone circles than any other country in the world.  How better to honor the University’s connection to Scotland than through stones. The second thing I did was I began to ask permission of the land here in Syracuse to allow this to happen.

When the holes for the stones were being dug a contingent from Lockerbie Scotland was on campus for Remembrance Week.  A coincidence that had nothing to do with the stones being brought to campus.  When the stones were being laid the Mohawk group Kanienkehaka Ratirennenhawi danced their song on the quad only yards away.  I believe both events blessings underscoring that all connections and energies were in complete agreement – it is time we lay aside differences and see what can bring us together to make us better in this world.

Today is a day for dreams.  Today is the day a dream of mine became reality and it is the day that new dreams are to be born.  Today is the day that a circle of stones, dedicated to the religious gathering of Pagans, was created at Syracuse University.

Seven years ago I wasn’t the Pagan Chaplain at the University.  There was no Pagan Chaplain, but I was the religious advisor for the student Pagans on campus and at that time I had a vision where the students would have a place of their own.  It didn’t have to be exclusive, in fact I didn’t think it should be.  Rather it needed to be a stone circle where they could observe ritual, meet with friends or do whatever.  This needed to be a place where they could feel the energy of their gods and their beliefs – a place where they would be reminded that they did matter.

Seven years ago I requested a stone circle to be built on campus.  For seven years I would periodically bring the subject up to those that needed to be reminded that Pagans did not have a place of their own like other faiths.  For seven years energy was built to push a dream forward and for seven years the ancestors watched and waited.  After seven years the energy culminated and the ancestors were heard.  I was asked to resubmit the proposal and all agreed that a circle would be built.

What changed in that seven years?  My position changed from advisor to Chaplain and with that a voice formerly foreign at the religious table was now heard. A new Dean at the Chapel was introduced.  The previous Dean had welcomed Pagans to the Chapel but it was the current Dean that understood the need for place. What changed was Pagans became recognized as valuable members of the religious makeup of the University deserving the same respect as any other faith tradition.

Yes, today is a day of dreams.  The stone circle doesn’t look like the stone circles created so long ago.  There are no standing stones familiar to so many.  There are only four stones – a stone at each cardinal point creating a 20’ inner circle.  The stones are large and made of blue stone, imbedded in the ground laying flush with the earth.  They needed to be unobtrusive, reflective of landscape and useable.  They are altar stones and any tradition, Pagan or otherwise, will be able to use them.  The dream came to life today when four stones were laid.

However, the laying of these stones is not the end of the dreams.  It’s the beginning of dreams.  A place for the seeds of possibility to break through and find sunlight to help them grow.  For many the creation of this circle seemed like a natural process and in many ways it was. When the voice of the ancestors sang once again those ready to hear their story listened and all barriers became non-existent. This was the right thing to do, this was the right day to do it and on this Samhain the ancestors will be honored in their stone circle.

Today I am overwhelmed. I’m overwhelmed with both the awe that I feel when I realize what has happened but also at the thought of what will be the next dream to come to life.

SPIRALIt is one thing to have faith; it is another thing altogether to trust. That’s right, trust. I have told a lot of people over the years that all they need to do is trust.  Whether it is in themselves, in others, in a process or in the gods makes no difference.  The comment is always the same – trust, all will be as it should be and you will be fine, so just have some trust. The lesson that I have learned this week is to trust.

There are times when things just seem to go wrong, it happens to the best of us, and there is nothing we can do about it.  While that is true on occasion how we move through those times to get to the other side does matter.  What happened this week to me doesn’t matter, at least not the details; what does matter is that I had to sit back and think deep and hard what is it I truly believe and what guides my life.  I could state the obvious answer; the one that is expected and say that my deities, faith, and beliefs guide me and that would be a true statement.  However, there is more to it than that.

I know what I believe.  I know what I have faith in.  I know who my deities are.  These are things I know – this week I had to learn the hard lesson of trusting my deities, my faith and what I believe in.  I handed over a situation that I could not see the other side of.  I had to go against every instinct and accept that the messages I was receiving were correct rather than what I “knew” was the answer.  Was it easy? No. Trust was the real answer and trust is what I did.

So how do you get to the point of trusting?  I’m not sure, but it started out with listening and then accepting what was being said.  It doesn’t hurt to have an amazing partner in my life that trusts me completely.  It also doesn’t mean having blind trust.  Just like blind faith, that type of trust will lead a person into peril and possible hurt of all kinds.  But when you trust it is a matter of understanding that there are consequences to doing so.  Those consequences can be either good or bad or both and if you trust you need to be willing to accept whatever consequence comes along.  Once that is understood trusting becomes a more natural process.

So I ask, where have you placed your trust and have you given it wisely.  It may not feel like what you are trusting is the logical thing to do, but if in your heart you know it is the right thing then why not do so?  I could have stayed on a very safe path this week and I chose not to.  I don’t regret that one bit and the consequences that have come from that is simple:  1) I am stronger that I thought, 2) My faith is deeper than I ever thought it could be, and 3) my ancestors will always have my back.  A person can’t ask for more than that.

 

wolf

12/12/12 – A day when balance is supposed to come forward, when light workers and healers are supposed to feel the increase in energies and raise to a higher vibration and so many other things that we have “discovered” will happen are to become manifest.

But I wonder… nature has no calendar other than the seasons as they turn. It does not put numbers on days, months or years so what makes this day any different from any other? The mother herself that gave birth to all from the great primordial sea placed no specific or special date on this one sun rising. Will the wolf, crow, raven, snake, whale, elk, lion, dragonfly or any other creature be lost in this shift that man has defined? I believe not. So why, as just another species in nature, does the human race create such an energy swirl around one random sunrise? Why not see everyday as a time to find balance, for raising our energies and achieving heightened awareness and deciding that we wish to be agents for peace, love and change.

I challenge you all to make those your goals as you contemplate the significance of today’s sunrise and take what you find beyond tonight’s sundown.

Community is an amazing thing. It is a word that means something different to many people and over the next few days/weeks I fully intend to discuss as much as I can about it. But to begin with why I find community amazing, I must go back to the beginning of summer and the conference at Yale that I had such high hopes for and was sorely disappointed in. What has transpired since then has been nothing less than amazing.

I have been included in many discussions, panels, interfaith initiatives and much that physically prove that things are changing. But a more important thing is occurring on a much smaller scale. It is the interaction between individuals that say “I see you and I find value in you.” What a wonderful place the world would be if we all could look at a stranger (or a relative for that matter) and realize that one thing – we all have value.

I find that this is the single most important thing that each person I run into values. They have been recognized and appreciated by another for who they are. At the same time as I was dealing with the conference I was having conversation with my daughter who now lives in Southern Alabama. It was a great move for her and her little family. Work opportunities were better there as well as her husband’s family. Needless to say her health benefited from a warmer climate as well. Unfortunately Southern Alabama is not the easiest place to find other Pagans.

As we talked about being alone it hadn’t dawned on me, nor had it her prior to her move, that there are places in this country where crickets are louder than the local Pagan community and, therefore, almost impossible to find. She told me that she had always practiced solitary as an adult, and she has, but there was always a shop, family, friends, drum circles and festivals to be found where “community” could be found. In her new home there is virtually nothing. No Pagan Pride Day in the state, only two shops that she can find in all of Alabama that she “thinks” are Pagan and a silence that says don’t tell anyone your religious views. New challenges with new surroundings shouldn’t have to include feeling that you have to hide a part of yourself.

So, where does this bring me in my rambling? Last night’s debates contained a statement by Mitt Romney that went as follows:

“…I believe we must maintain our commitment to religious tolerance and freedom in this country… We’re a nation that believes that we’re all children of the same god…”

Unfortunately these two statements rip at the fabric of community and the diversity that it represents. I do not believe in this statement. No, I do not believe that we are “all children of the same god” nor do I believe that there is any religious tolerance in the statements made by Mr. Romney. His statements contradict themselves, you cannot have tolerance and state that we all believe the same thing; it doesn’t work that way. Sadly my daughter is living in a place she loves but must practice her faith in secret because to do otherwise would subject her entire family religious discrimination.

Community is a beautiful thing, treasure it wherever it is and however it is, but when you do so understand that not everyone experiences it the same. Do your words hurt or harm and more important if you are Pagan and very much out of the closet don’t judge those that haven’t taken that step yet. Support them in their decision on who to tell or not because you don’t know what it is they experience when they are alone.

It has been a rough week, an enlightening week.  I thank everyone that has listened because this was not an easy journey that I walked but I did it knowing that all of you are here.  I know that what I do is worth it because we are worth it and parts of the world need to know that there are others who have voices that will never be silenced.  Every last one of you inspires me to move forward, you are why I do what I do.

So, what next; in all fairness what comes next is sharing the perspectives that I received from this experience and what the few positives were.  So here goes:

  1. Janice Jones – my roommate from Wales.  She allowed me a voice when I felt I had none.  She listened, was compassionate and understood my frustrations.  She is from Prifysgol Glyndwr University, Wrexham.  Send her a note if you think of it and acknowledge the kindness she showed me.
  2. There is something I need to do, or at least needs to be done, with the young women of Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC.  I’m not sure what it is, but I am sure that it will manifest itself eventually.
  3. The Air Force – believe it or not even though their language was embedded in Christianity they were the most open-minded group that I encountered.  I can’t fault them for the language, it is all they know and they are willing to be educated.  I spoke with them the first evening and expressed a desire to talk to them about their stone circle.  The end result was an agreement to an ongoing discussion after the conference and a possible trip to the Academy to visit the circle and see what they have done.  In all honesty, the military was not what I expected to be the highlight and they turned out to be. Oh and I am getting a copy of their Religious Respect curriculum in order to understand what they teach their cadets.
  4. What to do in the future – this is the question that faces me now and this is what I think…

I just ran the gauntlet; I hadn’t intended to, but I did.  The wounds to my mind are fresh and the bruises on my soul have barely started turning color but my  soul and the beliefs I hold in my heart are intact.  It’s time to breathe deep and move forward and forward will take me to many places; I just have to start by taking one step.  I’ve done that by looking for positive from this experience.  With that, I think that a symposium centered on minority religions, religious tolerance, and listening to the marginalized on how best to respect them is in my future.  Leaving the dogma behind it is time we remember that we were all born with two ears and one mouth. People in the majority need to quit telling others how to be “integrated” and start listening to what people in the minority are saying.  They would be amazed at what they hear.

I found the following on YouTube today.  Let’s just say it’s how I feel, it speaks to what is in my heart and hopefully it will help you understand what keeps me moving forward. Thank you Bill, Kate, Kurt and everyone else; this is for you.

http://youtu.be/13dsYEOi5TY

There was only one session yesterday, I wasn’t sure I was going to stick around to even have breakfast let alone attend any workshops, but I gave it a go.  I had wanted to talk to the Dean of Hendricks Chapel to let her know my opinion of the conference, I figured these guys could feed me breakfast, and besides I needed to talk to the Air Force again.

Breakfast was quiet, I ate alone but I suppose that might have been due in part to the energy of “leave me alone” that I was exuding.  I wanted no one here to talk to me.  Almost every time someone had spoken to me the day before I had become more and more horrified and I just did not want to deal with that again.  That’s right, it wasn’t just the workshops/seminars but it was everything; especially when I was assumed one thing based on looks rather than actual discussion.  This is where privilege of the majority comes into play and assumptions are made about those by that majority.  You see, I don’t dress in all black long flowing skirts, I don’t drip pentacles that could be used as weapons and hinder me from walking forward due to their weight, I don’t do goth makeup, nor do I drag a broom and cauldron around behind me with a black cat continuously rubbing up against my legs.  In other words I don’t look like a stereotype; I look like a normal member of society.  Here the norm is Christian, therefore I look like a Christian.  Sure, that’s what I look like.  So I shouldn’t have been confused when I was asked if I would like to attend the WSCF meeting.  I had no idea what that was, I smiled and said maybe.

The invitation was extended by a woman who I had talked to the night before for over an hour, in the conversation stating that I was the Pagan Chaplain at the University.  The questions were interesting, like “so what issues do you get to deal with being a Pagan Chaplain”? My answer, the same issues that all Chaplains deal with if they are working with students.  I am not different from any one else.  So it was interesting that after that hour-long discussion she extended this offer for me to attend and get involved in WSCF.  Then I found out what that is: World Student Christian Federation.  I’m not sure on what planet this woman was from.  Either she completely did not listen to the hour-long conversation we had, OR she thought it would be good for me and my kind if I promoted Christianity around the world.  I’m still confused and a little horrified.  It was about then that I really decided not to talk to anyone about my faith tradition or who I represent.

So, the session I decided to attend was regarding Liturgical Hospitality.  It was all about food, setting a table literally that would be welcoming to all without offending any so that different groups could share a meal and get to know each other better.  It was an interesting topic, one that was “safe” to attend because it was about food more than it was about religion or trying to accommodate the other.  Unfortunately the speaker asked that we break into small groups to discuss experiences when we might have seen this go right and also horribly wrong.  The wrong was easy, the assumptions made in a Western cultural context did not pan out for most when working with other cultures or societies.  The comments were interesting in our group.  The “what went right” was also simple.  Accommodation can be an easy task when thought about.  But it was the last comment made by the gentleman in our group that took me back.  He simply stated: “This is good and I don’t mind accommodating, but when is my turn.  I feel like a victim because not accommodates me.”

No one accommodates me?  The voice of privilege has spoken and it asked: as a white, Christian, male when will someone accommodate my needs and serve me.  I was floored.  He had to be kidding, but he wasn’t.  I kept silent; this was not a right conversation.  He was serious.

I left there and had a silent lunch.  I was still debating whether or not to pack my bags and just leave but sometimes we get a nudge in a direction that we didn’t expect.  My friend Patty had sent me a note and then a text.  The pub I had mentioned was the best in New Haven, she would be there in about 20 minutes to see me.  We had a wonderful afternoon which included great Irish food and Smithwick’s by the pint.  We caught up on a lot of things and she gave me some great advice – regardless of the experience if there is one thing, anything, that I can take away that will help me or the students or anyone I needed to stay and find it.  So, about 6 hours and several pints later I walked back to my room, cracked open a book and settled in for the night.

Today I go home and it is an ending that I welcome.  I stayed for the entire conference; trust me that wasn’t easy.  I wanted to leave and just go home but I’ll find that beautiful thing today.  One can only hope.

It was a day of rest, which means I got to sleep in without any wakeup call to disturb my slumber.  The rest was necessary.  We have been going at a fast pace without much time to just sit back and enjoy the city of London and that is what we did yesterday.  For me that meant waking naturally, a hot breakfast and then an adventure with friends to explore the sounds and foods that are around us.

We started off walking to Coven Garden.  There are a couple of metaphysical shops I wanted to explore and besides I needed some supplies for ritual at Glastonbury.  I found my supplies and much to my delight I also found an old-fashioned hour-glass.  Well, a 15-minute timer, but hour-glass sounds better.  Once that task was done and all three of us (yes there were three of us) had made our purchases we decided to figure out how to get to Camden Locks.  Now, this adventure started much earlier at the hotel; we had looked at the computer, the maps, and even discussed what all the information meant.  We had it written down, thought about, and remembered (but not necessarily memorized) so we wouldn’t get lost.  Even if we got a little lost we were good with that; we would get a cab if need be to get us home.  But we figured it out and stood there, compass in hand, deciding that we were at the correct bus stop.  That was our first mistake. As we boarded the bus one of us (not me) had the foresight to ask if this bus went in the right direction – it didn’t.  But the bus driver was kind and told us that we were only off by which side of the street we were standing on.

Across the road we go and soon our bus arrives.  We board, swipe our cards, and find seats on the top-level of the double-decker bus.  A minute or two pass and a “bus officer” comes up the stairs checking tickets.  As it turns out we were riding illegally – our Tube/Bus passes had run out of money.  Well that was a shock.  He explained that it was a £50 fine each for the two of us (I would be one of them) that hadn’t paid for our trip.  We were in shock and he could tell.  We explained that we had no idea that our passes had no money on them and that honestly we had no clue what we were doing!  He sat down with us and inquired about our trip, where we were staying, when we were leaving and then he smiled.  He explained he was a reasonable man (at which point I was trying to figure out how to explain that one of our party was given up as bribe to the bus police) and suggested that we get off at a particular stop and replenish our bus cards.  He smiled and said he would be visiting the States this coming summer and hoped that he would find people as generous as himself if he needed assistance.

We thanked him profusely and did as we were told only to find out the station he had told us to go to was the one we actually headed for.  Kindness was the beginning of the adventure.  We walked the streets with tattoo parlors and punk shops all around.  The imagery was amazing and unfortunately I’m not going to put up pictures, I don’t have time.  But let me say, purchases were made, beautiful things were seen, and street vendors making crepes that you could walk away eating were the focus of our day.  As time progressed we knew that we needed to return to the hotel after all it was Purim and we would be heading to the West London Synagogue to celebrate the holiday in the evening.

The trip to the Synagogue was quick and even the walk from the Tube was short, but we still ended up getting a “little lost” trying to find it.  The map directions were good, but the opening to the Synagogue was truly not evident.  After about 5+ minutes of looking we found it, but only because we saw people in costume entering into what looked like a club with bouncers.  As we spoke with the security we told that the congregation was a Reform Jewish Synagogue and asked if that was okay.  It was, and honestly I had no idea what to expect based on what that meant.  Once again, like at the Hindu temple, our bags were searched prior to our entering, but once in the fun began. 

Children, young people and parents were everywhere.  A table filled with food of all kinds was laid before us; this was for the celebration after the celebration.  The costumed people were all entering the main room of the synagogue so we hung up our coats and followed. We had been told that the service was going to be done in the manner of “Grease”, yes the musical, but that did not prepare me for what was going on.  I had two Tele-Tubbies sitting behind me, a watermelon man across the way, Pink Ladies and T-Birds in full costume, children in batman suites, and noise makers given out to participants – us included.  One of our group had received a king’s royal cape to wear.  And now it began, the Purim ritual – the story of Ester.

It was wonderful and we were not disappointed by false advertisement.  The celebration was a combination of Hebrew and English, proper Queen’s English that is, with the female Rabbi leading the way.  When it came to telling the story of Ester families came forward to take turns reading the narrative. I thought it was over, but no, it has only just begun.  The group dressed in Pink Lady and T-Bird jackets got up and performed (with modified words) the musical Grease in order to once again tell Ester’s story.  What a treat, we all laughed, clapped and sang along.  At the end I understood the need for costumes, everyone who was dressed up danced around the temple together including our student.  It was fun! I can see how families would enjoy being in this place of worship.  By the time we were leaving we all had smiles on our face and laughs in our hearts.  What a wonderful way to end a beautiful day.

The adventure of a life time began a few months ago when the Pagan students and I were invited to participate in the “Many Faiths, One Humanity” interfaith trip to London.  We were all excited, thrilled that we were finally “included”.  Then reality hit: how are we going to pay for this?  It was interesting to sit in the room and watch the faces move from total excitement to complete terror of “what if I can’t come up with that much money”?  $3600 each – that seemed overwhelming.  Well, that’s when magic happens.

I’ve been asked on a few occasions how far along we have gotten in our fund-raising activities.  The questions of “how much is left,” “what has come in so far,” “what can I do” and a myriad of other little inquiries have been tossed at me all along the journey.  I haven’t answered any of the questions for a reason. You don’t interfere with magic and manifestation while it is still working.  I believe in that fourth pillar of the pyramid – you keep silent.

But today it’s done, yes the manifestation is complete.  Not necessarily in the way that the students envisioned in the beginning.  There was no large donor handing over a huge check, we didn’t see thousands of checks for $10 each coming in the mail, but what happened is true magic.  As we began I told the students simply not to worry; the money was the least of our issues, the Universe had already provided what we needed and all we had to do was the required work.  What was that work?  Allowing ourselves to be open to opportunities that would present themselves which would result in the funding to become reality.  They looked at me like I had grown a second head.  But it was simple magic, simple money manifestation that we needed to do.  Tell the Universe what we needed, not be greedy, and then be open to the results.

I had to explain that what we expect the magic to look like and what it really looks like is usually very different.  That doesn’t matter; what matters is going with the flow and being thankful for the results.  So, let’s see how the expectation and the reality differed.  Each student understood that there was a price to be paid: $3640 each.  I had one student tell me to worry about the others first, she would be okay.  The other students (students of all faiths) were told to go back home and ask their local “churches” to help in sponsoring them.  Hmmm… that was a tough one and I had to explain to the Chapel Dean that we don’t exactly have churches and if the students could find a group chances were it would be small and have very little funding to help.  Second suggestion: have the students talk to their home colleges and see if there was any co-curricular funding that might help them out.  That was a novel idea and we had no idea what it meant, but the students decided to go for it and off they travelled to talk to some Deans.

First piece of magic: one student asked and was granted $1000 from his home college. First set of defeats, kinda: two students are told no funding was available.  But during the one of the conversations a students had a most unusual experience; she saw one of the cards she reads with on the Dean’s desk.  That’s right, one of the cards from her Russian Gypsy Fortune Telling cards.  She knew she had to be seeing things, it really wasn’t there; it was just HER imagining it.  At the same time the words of the Dean telling her no were flying past her like birds.  She heard the words but they didn’t matter.  As she left the office she understood the adage “nothing ventured, nothing gained” and realized an opportunity opening up in front of her.  She emailed the Chancellor of University and explained that even if she wasn’t able to go due to finances that the opportunity being presented was too great to fail.  She explained where she had tried to find funding and asked if the Chancellor had suggestions where else there might be funding that she could pursue.  The Chancellor responded, she granted each student in the program $1000, $12000 total. Second piece of magic falls into place. 

All this time donations were coming in; the pagan community responded and gave what they could.  I had to explain to the students that when pagans give it isn’t necessarily in the form that you are expecting.  Those that had funds to share did, but the bulk gave energy to allow the doors to open and the road to clear so that we could achieve our goals.  That was just as important, if not more so, than actually sending cash.  Gifts come in all sorts of manners.

The magic continued and the Chapel found that somehow it had funds it didn’t have before to help students, based on need, to pay for the trip.  Grants of $900 each were given to those students that applied and now we are getting closer.  The Dean that told our very brave student no, finds out that there is an academic portion to the trip and awards her a $500 grant.  The end was no in sight and my understanding that the money was there all along began to take hold in the minds of the students.  The magic solidifies.  Two events were now being organized to finish out the fundraising efforts.  Both were psychic fairs of a sort.  The first was a milestone; we held it on campus with just the students doing readings.  That’s right, a psychic fair on the campus of Syracuse University.  The cost was a donation of any amount.  The students raised $83.50.  Not bad since most of the people donated $1 for their reading.

The second fair was held about a week later at a local UU Society church.  Dryad Design sent us two very large boxes of statuary and jewelry to auction in order to raise donations and a local stain glass artist dropped off five pieces to help as well.  The event began to take on a life of its own.  I would get calls and emails from local readers wanting to know if they could participate.  People from all areas were giving items to place in the silent auction.  A wine chiller, tie dye t-shirts, wands, pottery, salon packages, are only a few of the things that people could bid on.  And so we began the evening.  Three hours later at the close of the event I began to count the money that had come in.  Magic happened; manifestation was complete.  What we needed had been raised and the three students who required help to go on this trip were completely taken care of.

As of today I can say, we are done.  That’s right, we have hit our goal.

The fourth student, the one that had said to take care of the others first, we are still working on her portion.  I say that in the context that generosity is wonderful when found in another.  Her fees are paid, yes.  But I would like to help her as well so that the burden isn’t completely on her family.  If you wanted to donate and can any funds that come in at this point will go to reimbursing her.   You can find out how on our donation page.  And the efforts of the students are continuing.  We are still waiting on one last grant that may come through this week.  If it does, we will be overly blessed. 

I want to thank everyone that helped us reach our goals through whatever means that they gave.  It all matters, it all counts, and when we pull together, well that is when magic happens.

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