Back to California

As I mentioned in a previous post, after living in New York City for two years, I returned to California, where I worked for my mother again (and a few other places). If I inherited any of my mother’s qualities, it was her decisiveness. She always knew exactly what she wanted, and she refused to settle for anything else. Even though she made me miserable sometimes, it is because of her that I know what I want, what I don’t want, what I like and what I don’t like. I turned my back and walked away from a few more bad relationships, before finally meeting the man I would eventually marry and spend my life with. It would still be a while before that happened.

I changed my image, joined a gym, got a bunch of tattoos and started shaving my head. If I didn’t have enough sex before moving to New York, I was having even more now. One thing that amazed me was the number of married men in the Bay Area who played around with other men on the side. I knew gay and bisexual police officers, security guards, bodybuilders and college football players. I learned pretty quick that guys with muscles or wearing uniforms are not necessarily straight.

Even though I was always drawn to the Celtic gods and that’s what I came back to, there were a few months during this time when I had a strange connection with the Egyptian god Anubis. Anubis is a jackal-headed god of death, a psychopomp who guides souls of the dead to the Underworld, where he weighs their hearts against a feather to determine their true nature. I had a shrine with a large statue of Anubis, where I would regularly meditate and burn Frankincense and Myrrh. To me, Anubis represented death to old attitudes, the burial of an old persona, to make way for a new one. Today, Cerridwen represents those kinds of transformations in my life, but for some reason back then, Anubis made himself known to me and was there until I no longer needed him. I still have a deep respect for this deity.

In 2002, I met the man who would become my husband. We have now been together almost 20 years and were married in 2016. We first met on a website (that no longer exists and will forever remain a secret), and discovered we actually liked each other for more than just sex. We spent a lot of time together, became a couple and have been together ever since. We made frequent trips down to Hollywood, where we’d stay at a Travelodge not far from Hollywood Blvd. We’ve visited Warner Brothers Studios many times, explored downtown Hollywood and the gay clubs in West Hollywood. Some people like to criticize Hollywood, with it’s disconnect from real life, it’s shallowness and superficiality, and yes, there is a lot of that, but I happen to love Hollywood. I love all the glitz and glamour, the red carpets, the premieres, the excitement of it all. I love to see my favorite actors and actresses winning awards and looking incredible. If they could bring some joy and happiness to my life, they deserve those damn awards. John Cena needs an Oscar just for being gorgeous. We’ve been in Hollywood a few times on the actual day of the Oscars, and the red carpet was already down, the lighting and sound equipment already set up, and we were able to walk the red carpet just like the celebrities do. Of course, it was earlier in the day before all the festivities began. We’ve been there when the movie stars started arriving in their limos. We could see them from where we were perched on a balcony of Hollywood and Highland. My husband loves Hollywood too, since being an actor was always a dream of his.

Hollywood and Highland, one of our favorite hangouts when we’re in Los Angeles. Great shopping, food, glitz, glamour and you might spot a celebrity or two. We sure did.

People ask what is our secret, and I think it is just the fact that we share similar interests, we truly love each other and decided we would make this work no matter what. I think that is the secret: both people have to want it to work. We have a life together and lives of our own. He’s not a pagan, he’s more of an agnostic, but he is supportive of my path and magical practice. He participates with me in rituals on occasion. He was living in California when we met, but is originally from Pennsylvania. We both knew we could not afford the kind of life we wanted if we stayed in California. I loved being in California and hated to leave, but he convinced me that moving would be better for both of us. We had already been together four years by this time, and my mother was driving me insane, so I agreed to move. Even though I had some trepidation, I knew it wouldn’t be like the last time I moved East, and I had this gut feeling that I was in for something more magical than I had experienced already.

Me (on the left) and the hubby shortly after we met in 2002.

A Memory

It’s 3am on a Sunday morning.

I’ve been up all night clubbing with friends. Now I’m sitting at Orphan Andy’s, a 24-hour diner in the Castro district of San Francisco. It is one of my favorite spots in the city. A hot young waiter comes over to refill my coffee cup and gives me a wink and a smile. At a table over by the window, three drag queens are talking and laughing about the previous night’s shenanigans.

Sitting at the counter is a man in leather pants, leather vest and a leather hat. I notice a gay pride tattoo on his arm. A smile comes to my face as I think to myself…these are my people…this is my tribe. I don’t know any of them, but I feel connected to all of them. This is what I love about San Francisco. The diversity, the freedom, the acceptance, the magic of it all.

I have another cup of coffee as the sun begins to rise, and the cable car outside prepares to take it’s first trip of the morning. A few minutes later I am on that very same cable car until it drops me off downtown, where I take a brisk walk to the Cal-Train station. I take a seat on the upper level of the train, lay my head against the window and sleep all the way home. I dream of flashing lights, pulsing dance music and muscled men lurking in dark corners…

One of my most favorite places in San Francisco.

New York City

It almost seems like it never happened. It was all so long ago, but it was two years I would rather forget.

From Winter 1996 to Spring 1998, I lived in New York City. It was over 20 years ago, and that whole time period is like a blur, a bad dream, a whirlwind of activity that ended as quickly as it began.

I met this guy at a club in San Francisco, and after knowing him only a few weeks, I agreed to move with him to New York City. He worked in the software industry while I took several part-time jobs. First it was a coffee shop on the ground floor of the Empire State Building, which I hated because the customers were rude assholes. Then a coffeehouse in Greenwich Village, which I loved because of all the fun and interesting people I met there. After that, a coffee shop in Chelsea, a few blocks from where we lived. If you were in a coffee shop in Manhattan in the late 1990’s you may have spotted me wiping down tables and rinsing out coffee cups. I also worked for a short time at the Virgin Megastore in Times Square (long since closed), and saw several famous musicians there. It was a fun, exciting place to work and I was sad to see it go out of business in recent years.

I worked at this huge Virgin Megastore , once upon a time.

We first lived in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn for a few months, before moving to an apartment in the Chelsea area of Manhattan. The dance club Twilo, with famous resident DJ Junior Vasquez was just two blocks away and we visited there a few times. I listened to alot of dance music back then, and was more than a little obsessed with Madonna. (What self-respecting gay man wasn’t at some point?) She sometimes made surprise appearances around town. I took the subways to work, and it was always frightening. I witnessed a purse-snatching. I was assaulted by a homeless man. I never felt safe living in New York. I always felt vulnerable and exposed. I had been told, “If you’re walking down the street in New York, hold your head up, act like you belong there and no one will bother you“. Most of the time, they didn’t. Even from our Chelsea apartment we could hear gunshots outside our window during the night. Winter was brutal, with horizontal snow and howling winds. Every taxi ride was a near-death experience. This was a time when there were still payphones. I remember using one by the Twin Towers, and looking up at these tall foreboding buildings. I was never at the top, I had only been in the lower levels where the shops were.

I lived two blocks from this famous New York dance club.

My relationship with this guy was purely sexual, and when that wore off I began to realize what a mistake I had made. He had a nasty temper and we had little in common. He never hit me, but he liked to yell and throw things. As much as I regret moving there with him, it wasn’t all bad. I got to know New York’s gay scene at the time, the leather bars and underground clubs. We had friends of every persuasion. Gay, straight, bisexual, trans, sex workers, strippers, Broadway folks, club owners. There was an underground club that we went to every Friday night, hosted by a trans woman named Glorya Hole. I would sing karaoke there sometimes, dance club music usually. God, this seems a lifetime ago.

My whole time in New York City was tumultuous, I was stressed and anxious most the time, and my occult studies were pretty much on hold. Living there was mostly awful, but there were a few fun memories. Watching Sandra Bernhard perform live (I had seen her once in San Francisco as well). Going to a live taping of Regis and Kathie Lee (I know, what was I thinking, but I had free tickets and Thomas Gibson who played “Greg” on Dharma and Greg was one of the guests). I met lots of colorful and diverse people. Greenwich Village was always fun, and shopping on Bleeker Street.

While living in New York, my left lung collapsed a third time, and I was in the hospital for four days. I told the doctors it had already collapsed twice in the past, and they assured me that they “corrected the problem” this time. This was late 1997. Since then, I’ve had no more problems with my lung. I’ve since joined a gym and lifted weights many times, with no lung or breathing issues.

When I was out of the hospital, I decided it was time to leave New York. That relationship was not working and I just didn’t want to be there anymore. I ended it with him and flew back to California in early 1998. New York is, as the saying goes, “a nice place to visit”, but I don’t think I could live there again. Not unless I had lots and lots of money. I have friends who live there and they love it, but I’m just not cut out for it. I don’t mind visiting as a tourist, which I have done several times, but living there is just not for me.

Overheard at a party in Manhattan:

“…and if I see Michael Musto one more time, I am going to vomit”.

A Memory

It’s a Sunday afternoon, and we’re shopping on Haight Street in San Francisco.

We love all it’s vintage clothing stores, the “legs in the window”, the head shops with tie-dye clothes, Grateful Dead t-shirts and tapestries. Janis Joplin and Bob Marley are blasting through the speakers.

As we walk down the street, marijuana smoke mixed with patchouli incense comes wafting out of the doorways, intoxicating us.

We walk past a woman standing in a doorway. She’s wearing a suede headband and a fringe vest, singing “The Hurdy-Gurdy Man” and playing an actual hurdy-gurdy.

It’s a different world here, until you pass a Starbucks or a frozen yogurt shop.

Photo: Pixabay

Seasonal Magic

Over the years I have formulated spells and magical practices to help me attune to the seasons and their unique energies. I have shared some of these with my private students, and I now share them with you.

SPRING: Crafting a New Wand

The wand is an extension of you and your personal, magical will. You will use it to cast the magic circle, to raise and direct energy and to cast your spells. When making your own wand, choose the wood associated with your birthdate according to the Celtic Tree Calendar (as devised by Robert Graves). If your tree is not available or difficult to locate, choose another tree that you feel a close connection with. According to some traditions, the branch is cut from the tree in the Spring, as close to the Full Moon as possible, and must not be allowed to touch the ground. Do not use a branch that has fallen to the ground. Before cutting the branch, place your hands on the tree and state your intention (“I wish to use a branch for magical purposes and for the highest good”). In your mind’s eye, bathe the tree in white healing light. Traditional wand length is from the inside of the elbow to the tip of the third finger. Cut the branch with one quick movement to minimize damage. Do not let it fall to the ground. After cutting the branch, wrap it in a natural fabric, such as cotton, wool or silk. Give thanks to the tree and leave a gift in return. Water, fertilizer, flower seeds, crystals or stones are all acceptable gifts. After taking your wand home, cut a small hole and place three drops of your blood into the wand. Allow blood to dry, then cover the hole with wax. This infuses the wand with your DNA, forging a bond between you. You may decorate your wand any way you wish, or leave it as is. Some attach a crystal to one end. Others wrap their wands with copper wire, or carve magical symbols into them. Simple is often best. A wand you make yourself has your own energy and power within it.

The Celtic Tree Calendar

There is much controversy surrounding the Celtic Tree Calendar, devised by Robert Graves. It has been called a modern invention and a fabrication. By these standards, we could also call the Wiccan Rede (devised by Doreen Valiente) a modern invention, as it was penned two decades after the Celtic Tree Calendar. It is true there is no documented proof that druids or pagans followed this calendar. However, it’s origins are irrelevant, as it still provides a useful and meaningful tool to study the lore and magic associated with trees and the Ogham. There is a fine line between fabrication and inspiration. Fabrication implies an intent to deceive, while inspiration implies divine guidance. I’m sure many Wiccans believe the Rede was divinely inspired, just as many Celtic pagans feel the tree calendar was inspired as well. Some avoid both altogether. Wands are chosen from the corresponding tree according to your date of birth. Since my birthday is June 19th, that places me in the OAK category. Fortunately, we have an abundance of oak trees where we live. See the list below to find the tree associated with your own birthday. Some of these trees may be difficult to locate in your area. If you feel an affinity with a different tree altogether, you may choose to make your wand from that tree instead.

The Trees and Dates of Celtic Tree Calendar

BIRCH: December 24 to January 20

ROWAN: January 21 to February 17

ASH: February 18 to March 17

ALDER: March 18 to April 14

WILLOW: April 15 to May 12

HAWTHORN: May 13 to June 9

OAK: June 10 to July 7

HOLLY: July 8 to August 4

HAZEL: August 5 to September 1

VINE: September 2 to September 29

IVY: September 30 to October 27

REED: October 28 to November 24

ELDER: November 25 to December 23

BLACKTHORN: October 31 (Samhain)

YEW: December 21 (Winter Solstice)

SUMMER: Amulets and Talismans

Amulets and Talismans work like magical charms. Any object can be made into a charm, however, many witches and magical practitioners prefer to make their own. Some use polymer clay to make amulets and talismans. What is the difference between the two? An Amulet is a charm that banishes unwanted influences, neutralizes energies, and protects you. Amulets are created while the Moon is waning. A Talisman is a charm that draws fortunate influences to you or generates the energy you seek. Talismans are made when the Moon is waxing. Each ingredient must be cleansed and consecrated as you make it, and then the entire thing should be specifically programmed with your intention while in the magic circle. When making an amulet or talisman with clay, keep in mind that it must be baked in an oven to harden. Your home oven will work fine on a low setting for about three minutes. I use a special clay oven, made specifically for polymer clay projects. Be sure to bake your clay amulet or talisman before adding paint or glaze, which may be flammable. Various ingredients can be placed in a clay talisman, such as dried herbs, small stones and crystals, bits of bone or fur, or a few drops of essential oil. While the amulet or talisman is being formed, magical symbols (such as rune symbols, pentacle, triskele or Ogham script) or anything related to it’s intention can be drawn or impressed upon the clay. Once the clay has been baked and hardened, it can be painted, decorated or given a glossy coating. Your amulet or talisman can made into a necklace to be worn around the neck, or it can be made into another shape to be placed in a location where it will not be disturbed. Some witches make elemental talismans and bury them on each side of the home according to their directions. Some make amulets for healing or give them to those who need healing. Others make protection talismans for their vehicles. Still others make special talismans dedicated to a particular God or Goddess, to be carried on their person or kept on their altars. All of the time and effort used to make your amulet/talisman will infuse it with your own energy. If you are making one for another person, try to involve them in the process so that they are touching it with their own hands, infusing their own energy into it. If this is not possible, paint or draw the person’s name on the back of the amulet/talisman before giving it to them.

AUTUMN: Ancestor Summoning Spell

For this spell you will need the following:

  • 1 small black taper candle
  • Sandalwood or Dragon’s Blood incense
  • 1 small to medium-sized mirror with a stand

Cast your magic circle as usual. Place the mirror so that it is standing upright and facing you on the altar. Light incense and place near the mirror. Carve a triskele symbol on the side of the black candle and light it. Place near mirror so that it is not reflected. Turn off all lights except for candle flame and natural lighting. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths until you reach a meditative state. As clearly as you can in your mind’s eye, visualize the departed loved ones you wish to communicate with. It is best to call on them one at a time.

Say the following: Through mist and shadow, smoke and flame, in this portal of glass I speak your name, I call upon (speak departed loved one’s name) to communicate with me, as this candle flame burns, so mote it be.

Close your eyes and be open to any impressions, feelings, scents or images you receive. Ask questions and quietly listen. Keep a notepad handy to write anything down. This spell is best performed on Samhain night (October 31st), in the evening, after dark. Communication and spirit presence continues for as long as the candle flame burns. I usually include some divination as part of this practice, as departed loved ones may choose to communicate through tarot cards, runes, Ogham or another form of divination. On Samhain evening I typically call upon my own parents. Allow the candle to burn down completely or snuff it out when you have ended the ritual. Dispose of any un-used portion of the candle.

WINTER: Anxiety Spell

As much as I loathe snow and cold weather, I still recognize the importance of tuning in to the energies of the winter season. On the Winter Solstice as the sun is setting, this is a short spell that I do outside to help chase away my anxieties and fears. All you need is one small beeswax taper candle, a pen, a small piece of parchment paper and a little bit of snow. If there is no snow on this day, then you can wait for the next snowy day. You may also choose to do the spell indoors using a candle-holder, but it is best to do the spell outside in the snow when possible. If you dislike snow as much as I do, and yet I still do it, you can too.

First, draw a circle in the snow, about six inches diameter. Place your taper candle in the center of the snow. Write on the parchment paper all the things you give you anxiety. Write down your fears and worries. Place the candle directly in the snow, in the center of the circle and light it. If the wind is blowing and keeps putting out the flame, re-light the candle and place your hands around it to keep the flame burning. Light the parchment in the candle flame and say:

By the powers of winter, fire and snow, I release my anxieties, I let them go.

Let the parchment burn away completely. Allow the candle to burn all the way down into the snow until it goes out. If it is just too windy and the candle won’t stay lit, you may choose to place it in a hurricane candle holder, or take it indoors and re-light it until it burns all the way down.

Sovereignty in Witchcraft

I believe in the Sovereignty of witchcraft. This means you practice by your own rules, your own ethical codes and moral standards. Your witchcraft is your own. It does not have to be like anyone else’s. The way you practice witchcraft is not “wrong” because it is different than how another person practices. The magical systems, imagery and symbols that have personal meaning for you may not work the same way for someone else. While there are many concepts in witchcraft that are generally accepted by all, there are some things, such as the Wiccan Rede and the Threefold Law, that are matters of debate. Don’t get magical advice from TikTok, Twitter or Facebook. Do your own research and study, from teachers you admire and respect. Even then, it’s okay not to agree with every word they say. There are truthfully only a handful of author/teachers that I would recommend to others. Teachers can guide you in the basics, but the real work is up to you.

There are far too many self-appointed “experts” out there who will tell you that the way you practice is “incorrect”, and they will question your sources and methods. Pay no attention to them.

Another aspect of sovereignty is acknowledging your personal identity. I identify as a Pagan who practices Druidry and Witchcraft. I am a modern Druid who practices Witchcraft. I am a Witch who embraces modern Druid Philosophy. I am both Druid and Witch. This is what I am. I am a solitary druid witch, with my own practice and magical system. I do not belong to any coven, grove, group, clan or shop. Sovereignty means that you know deep down who and what you are. It is not up to someone else to tell you.

There has been talk in recent months about the concept of “Witch Blood”. The general idea is that a person is not a true witch unless they have the Witch Blood. I think there is some validity to this, however, a line is crossed when people say that because they have the Witch Blood, they can sense who is a true witch and who is not. This hints strongly of arrogant elitism. You’re not like us. You don’t have what we have. You don’t have Witch Blood like we do. I’m not keen on the idea of elitist witches looking down their noses and judging if I’m a real witch or not. I am the only one who knows that for sure. This reminds me of the witches and wizards from Harry Potter who considered themselves “Pure-Blood”. Those who were not pure-blood were deemed inferior, dirty, less than. I hate to see some witches being treated differently or looked down upon because they are not perceived to be true witches. Isn’t there enough division in the world? It is true that some people are more pre-disposed to witchcraft and it comes naturally to them. Some just need a bit of training and guidance. Some seem to have no magical awareness whatsoever, but it can be cultivated. It is no one’s place to dictate who is a witch and who is not.

My early experiences led me to meditation, which in turn awakened my senses and led me to the realization that I am a witch. That’s what it all came down to for me, a realization. Just like I never decided to be gay, I also never decided to be a witch. In both instances, they were realizations of a fact. Choice is not a factor. It is something you just know deep down inside.

Also, I think there is a tangible difference in the persona of someone who walks between the worlds and that of someone whose life is completely absorbed in matters of the mundane. Those who meditate on a regular basis have a different sort of energy, as they have maintained a steady connection to the unseen realms. Magic flows through them like an electrical current. This requires discipline and dedication to one’s practice, and the willingness to be an open vessel for these energies to flow through.

Becoming the best witch you can be requires discipline, study and practice.

Christianity and Me

I fully believe that evangelical Christianity is the underlying reason so many people are in therapy today, as they struggle to deal with years upon years of imposed false guilt that has been heaped upon them. The constant threats of eternal damnation, the reminders that we are doomed from birth to fry in Hell unless we become subservient to a savior. “Lust is a sin”, they said. “Being gay is immoral”, they told me. “You’re going to hell”, they said.

Some of them suggested that I was “possessed by demons of perversion and lust”. I needed to be exorcised, they said. The demons needed to be cast out. “Repeat this prayer after me and you’ll be saved”, they told me. “Those are not your thoughts”, they told me, “It’s the devil putting that into your head”. I let them pray for me, I sang their hymns, I read their Bible, but in the end it meant nothing. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” is just a polite way of saying you’re still rejected, you’re still less than, still unacceptable because of who you are. It is hate masquerading as love. Be like us, think like us, believe like us. Repent or perish. I tried their way for a long time. I tried to be celibate, to not think about how attracted I was to other men, both romantically and physically. It didn’t change anything. I still desired them. I was still gay.

It took some years to realize that the only thing I needed to be delivered from were the shackles of Christianity. When I finally threw them off, I experienced true freedom. I realized there’s nothing wrong with me. I don’t need to be saved from anything. I’m not an abomination. There’s nothing wrong with me. I don’t need to “repent” or confess my “sins”. I fully embraced my sexuality and stopped denying who I was. I realized what they were telling me was emotionally and psychologically damaging.

It has long been the way of the Church to demonize anything and anyone who does not walk in lockstep with the Bible. What a genius idea, to use the concepts of Sin and Hell as tools to control the masses through fear and intimidation. Wars have been fought, millions of people tortured and killed, countless lives destroyed and ruined, all in the name of Christianity. So many people need something to believe in, something to put their faith in, they can’t seem to function without it. I’m not an atheist, but the gods I believe in are not associated with the Bible. My spirituality is based on direct experiences, not on faith. The experiences I write about really happened to me, and still happen on their own. I do not seek them out, except to understand them better. I don’t know why some people have these experiences and others do not, but my spiritual experiences have nothing to do with Christianity.

But let’s go back a bit…

All those years when I was forced to go to the baptist church as a boy, I can remember being attracted to certain other boys in the church, and not knowing why. I saw how handsome they were. I wanted to sit next to them and hold their hand. I remember how my favorite toys were my Superman and Batman action figures, not because it was Superman and Batman, but because of their rippling muscles, tight uniforms and boots. I would pretend that Superman and Batman were a couple, and put their action figures together in compromising positions. It was their uber-masculine personas that I was really attracted to. Other boys had posters of Farrah Fawcett on their bedroom walls. I had John Travolta. I watched CHiPs on TV because those officers in tight Highway Patrol uniforms somehow turned me on. They still do. I did not yet understand what being gay was, and back then it was something you didn’t talk about. It was a taboo subject. “Gay” was not the universally accepted term that it is today. People like me were called other things back then. Homo. Faggot. Queer. Pervert.

As far back as I can remember, I was always only attracted to men. It was never a decision, never a choice. It was a fact, no matter how much I tried to deny it or pretend otherwise. Some people hear about my upbringing and assume it’s because I didn’t have a real father figure in my life. Lots of men who grew up without fathers did not become homosexual as a result. Likewise, many men who grew up with both a mother and father later realized they were homosexual. It has nothing to do with the absence of a father or having an overprotective mother or anything like that. It just happens and you realize you’re attracted to men more than women. I’m thankful that I was strong enough not to give in to societal expectations of having the obligatory wife, two kids and house with a basketball hoop in the driveway. I never wanted that kind of life. Some men do give in, get married and end up leaving their wives because they just can’t deny themselves anymore. Some men stay married to their wives and have flings with other men on the side. Sometimes the wives know and are okay with it. It’s much more common than people want to believe.

I’ve always preferred the company of artistic, creative outsiders who reject the social norms of the mainstream and live by their own rules. The alternative types, the misfits, the outcasts and those who are “other”. As a gay man, I’ve had a very interesting and colorful life, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I’m very secure with who and what I am. I live my life as an openly gay man. I seek no one’s approval. I’m glad I’m gay, and sex with other men is amazing, really amazing, but it’s not just about that. It’s also about loving who I want to love, spending my life with the person I choose, regardless of gender.

In those years when Christian guilt still had it’s grip on me, I visited a few different churches and tried, really tried, to be what they told me I should be. But my sexuality continued to hang over me like a deep, dark secret. Even during the first five years or so after moving to California, I attended what some call “charismatic” churches. These are the speaking-in-tongues and dancing-in-the-aisles sort of churches. It may surprise some to know that for a short while I was a member of their “worship team”, leading the congregation in contemporary “praise and worship” songs. These were not the dirges from the old Baptist hymnal. To be truthful, I was more interested in the pretty songs than I was about their message. The melodies were quite beautiful, almost trance-inducing.

On a side note, I often wonder why we don’t have more devotional music to the pagan gods. I don’t mean music with pagan themes, or music written by people who just happen to be pagan, but actual songs of love and devotion to specific pagan gods and goddesses. This is sadly lacking in the pagan community. Praise and Worship music should not be the sole domain of the Christian church. Music is a powerful medium. It can draw people closer to their deities, and we need more songs of devotion to the pagan gods.

During that whole time, I hid the fact that I was gay, knowing full well that if they knew this about me, I would be treated differently. I knew they would want to“lay hands” on me and try to “cast the devil” out of me. One pastor who suspected I was gay told me I was not allowed in his church because he was worried that I would seduce the men of his congregation. If only I had known back then the powers I possessed! (Granted, I was younger and hotter in those days). I can joke about it now, but at the time it was quite hurtful. More rejection because of who I was. I was trying to not be gay, trying to stay celibate, because in my mind that was the only option. I was never attracted to women, and never pretended to be. I wasted so much time denying my true self and trying to be something I was not. My experience with Christianity scarred me psychologically and those scars still remain. Even while I was going to church, I was still meditating at home and reading about various metaphysical subjects. Astrology, Tarot, Numerology. I knew the church was against these things, but they didn’t seem foreign or evil to me at all. They had a much stronger pull than the church did, like these things were part of me. I think my involvement in the church was partly due to Bible-imposed self loathing, and partly because I wanted to belong somewhere. I eventually came to my senses and realized that Christianity and the Church was not the place for me, and was not where I belonged at all.

I reject being made to feel like something to be shunned and excluded. I reject the Bible’s claims that people like me are an abomination. I reject being looked down upon or viewed as somehow inferior or less-than because I’m gay. Why would I want to become part of a religion that treats people this way?

I washed my hands of Christianity long ago. I want nothing to do with it.

To be fair, I know that the majority of Christians I encountered would be considered right-wing extremists. Anything that wasn’t exclusively Christian was automatically labeled as Satanic. If you weren’t a Christian you were considered a follower of Satan. No middle ground. You were either a Christian or you were indirectly a Satan-worshipper. You weren’t supposed to watch TV or listen to the radio unless it was Christian programming. You were only to read Bible-related literature and nothing else. It was very much like a cult. In the Baptist church, you were frowned upon if you let your hair grow below your ears. I know that not all Christians are so strict in their thinking. I’ve met a handful of lovely, non-judgmental Christians and Catholics, but the evangelicals and fundamentalists are some of the most hateful and abusive people on earth.

I know that some of the old magical grimoires use bible scriptures in their spells and acknowledge God as the source of magic. I know there are different kinds of Christians, that some are more mystical and don’t take the Bible quite so literally. I know there are some who call themselves “Christian Witches”, which I just cannot wrap my head around at all. I think some people still have that Christian guilt inside them, so they keep one toe in Christianity “just in case”.

The reality for me is this: Due to my past experiences, I have some strong hostility towards Christianity. I am leery and suspicious of most Christians, no matter how friendly or loving they may appear. People are free to choose Christianity as a path for themselves, but it becomes an issue when they’re trying to convert me, or condemning me to hell, or feigning friendship in the hopes that they might one day convert me. I can see through it all. If you invite me to church, I will politely decline. If you quote scripture at me, I will remind you that I have no interest in what the Bible has to say and you’re wasting your time. I’ve heard it all before, and not just from the Christians. I’ve flirted with hot Mormon guys and talked witchcraft with Jehovah’s Witnesses, just to get them off my back. If I see you coming towards me with a Bible in your hand, I’m walking away. If you persist, then a line has been crossed and I will become extremely rude. I’ve already been subjected to countless manipulative trick questions (“you don’t want to go to hell, do you?”) that are intended to inflict fear and guilt upon the gullible and weak-minded. But I am neither. I know all of the tactics, because they have all been tried on me. And all have failed. I don’t believe in your bible. It means nothing to me. I don’t need your prayers. Save them for where they are truly needed. Pray for the homeless. Pray for poverty-stricken countries. Pray for the environment. Pray for peace. Don’t pray for someone because they believe differently than you, or because they don’t live their lives the way you think they should. Trying to influence a person to do something against their will is actually a form of harmful witchcraft. At least eighty-percent of the Christians I encounter are bigoted and hateful, and as soon they learn I’m gay or that I’m pagan, the judgment and condemnation comes spewing like poison from their mouths. They also wrongly assume that I’ve never read the Bible.

I have read it, many times over, from Genesis to Revelation. And I’m still not interested. I will not be part of any religion that views me as an abomination. I don’t need to have people around me who agree with me on every single issue, but there are some things I will not tolerate. I do not have to be friends with people who are openly racist or homophobic, transphobic, misogynist or support harmful ideologies. I am not a friend to everyone, like some people claim to be. We can disagree about things like who makes the best ice cream or what kind of incense to use on the full moon, but not about things like equality and human decency.

If I didn’t have my own experiences with deity and spirit beings, I would probably be an atheist. I have no problem with atheism and I fully understand why people become atheist. How could an all-powerful, loving god allow such atrocities in our world to happen? How are parents supposed to believe God loves them when their three-year-old has cancer? What sort of “lesson” are the parents supposed to learn from that? How horrible and unconscionable to use a child in that manner. The all-powerful God was powerless to prevent the holocaust, two world wars and the September 11 attacks. How could he allow this to happen? It was “The Devil”, they say, that convenient scapegoat, the go-to response. The Christian stance on homosexuality isn’t the only thing I take issue with. Another is the harmful concept of blind forgiveness. “Forgive those who hurt you”. Just pretend like it never happened, that will make it all better. “Forgive so you will be forgiven”. What do I need to be forgiven for? For simply existing? For being in the room? No. I don’t need forgiveness for anything. “Do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also”. Be a punching bag. Be a doormat. Willingly offer yourself up to be abused. “Rejoice in your suffering”. Be happy you’re so miserable and in so much pain. Be happy when your loved ones are dying of cancer or some other terminal illness. This way of thinking is unacceptable and just causes further psychological harm.

One of the worst things you can tell someone who has suffered trauma and abuse is “try to understand why they treated you this way”. Having empathy and understanding why the abuse happened doesn’t make it go away, and it doesn’t matter why it happened. It should not have happened at all. The damage has been done, especially for those who need therapy, or suffer from anxiety, depression or PTSD as a result. Abuse is never okay. It doesn’t matter who did it or why.

I endured some pretty horrific things growing up and I did not come out of it completely unscathed. Even though witchcraft and meditation have brought me a great deal of healing and personal power, I won’t pretend that my life is perfect now. I still struggle at times with anxiety and depression. This is part of my Shadow Self, my own Darkness. As a Pagan, I have extra tools to help me deal with it, but it is not easy. My regular meditation practice helps tremendously, and I still immerse myself in nature on a weekly basis.

If there really are demons of Lust and Lechery, then they’re my two best friends.


I didn’t start practicing real magic or casting spells until after I moved to California, and that opened a whole new world to me. I spent the first five years or so in the Fresno and Madera areas of California. I had other friends who practiced meditation at the time, and we sometimes meditated together. During one of these occasions, I witnessed an almost corporeal entity manifestation. My friend Kenneth and I were up late into the night meditating. It was around three a.m. when I saw little flashes of light in the air, about five feet away from us. It looked sort of like those sparklers people hold in their hands on the 4th of July. I had seen this happen before, but this one was very different. As I watched, a being of light began to form, from floor to ceiling. My friend Kenneth was unaware of it at first, continuing with his meditations and looking in another direction. This may sound strange and I don’t know how else to explain it, but then suddenly, a long beam of light appeared at one side of the entity. It was bright white, much brighter than the rest of the entity. It started at one end and expanded into a beam of light about four feet long. Kenneth still did not see anything. At this point, the beam of light quickly began to rise, the way someone might lift a sword. This caught Kenneth’s attention, and he turned his head to look. We continued watching it quietly until it slowly dissipated.
I whispered, “Did you see it?” and he nodded his head. We never knew what it was or why it was there. To this day I still don’t know what we saw, and that was one of the few times another person witnessed the same thing I did.

When my mother’s fourth husband died, she moved from Fresno to San Jose, where she eventually started working in her own business. I worked for her for several years, but also worked at other jobs on the side. I worked at a clothing store, a bank, a bagel shop, and for several months I worked part-time at a sex club for gay and bisexual men. Every weekend off I was in San Francisco, staying at hotels, visiting friends in the gay clubs and having more sex than anyone should. It can never be said that I didn’t have enough sex in my lifetime. More than my fair share. I was always an ‘alternative’ type of guy and most of my gay male friends in San Francisco were also ‘alternative’ types. Leather-clad, tattooed bald guys, rockabilly and biker types. There were even a few gay clubs that catered to this type of crowd, though I think most of them have closed or changed ownership by now. One of my favorite hangouts had a motorcycle hanging from the ceiling. I found the leather community in San Francisco to be one of the friendliest and most welcoming of the LGBT communities there. In those days, I wore motorcycle jackets, tight jeans and black combat boots. It seems so long ago now. I have no leather hanging in my closet these days, though I still shave my head and have a few more tattoos. San Francisco is such an amazing place, where gay male sexuality is celebrated freely and openly. My advice for other gay men: Live proudly and openly. Be lustful. Be lecherous. Be sexual. Fully embrace male sexuality in all it’s orgasmic glory, but also respect boundaries.

There are so many things I love about San Francisco. My husband and I would still live there if we could afford it, but unfortunately it is now one of the most expensive places to live in America. The cost of living in the San Francisco Bay Area is criminally high. You pay more just for the luxury of living there. Wages are higher, but so is everything else. But it’s a truly magical place. We still go back every now and then, to visit our friends and favorite places, those that still remain. On our most recent visit to San Francisco, we saw how much the Castro District and Market Street have changed since we lived there. Some of our favorite spots aren’t there anymore. When I went into a metaphysical shop on Market Street, I found a flyer advertising a local pagan event, and was excited to see that a thriving witchcraft community now exists in the San Francisco area.

Full Moon in San Francisco

I spent much of my time living and working between San Jose and San Francisco, taking the commuter train. San Jose had a couple of metaphysical shops, and a gorgeous Egyptian museum, which is still there. I have a tall three-legged incense burner that I bought in a shop there. I’ve had it over twenty years and still use it in all my rituals.
I began casting my first real spells while I was working for my mother. This was long before I met my husband, and when I was still going to clubs. I had been dating this guy for a few months, and he had abruptly ended our relationship. I was blind-sided as I thought we had a great relationship. It devastated me and I fell into a deep depression for weeks. One of my witchcraft books had instructions for a love spell. I gathered the materials and cast the spell to bring him back into my life. About three days later, he called me at work and invited me to move in with him. This was after having no contact with him at all for weeks. He wanted us to live together, he said, in Santa Cruz, a coastal town not far from San Jose. We made plans, and he took me to see the small house where we would live. After a few days I began to realize things were not as they appeared. Something was definitely wrong. My spell had worked, but not in the way I wanted. It turned out that he was only seeking a ‘room-mate with benefits’ and not a lover. We would not be together like we were before. I was just someone to help pay the rent and have sex with occasionally.
I had not yet learned to place safe-guards on my spells, and had not included such things as “for the highest good”. I knew he was taking advantage of my feelings and that this arrangement was definitely not good. Yes, he was back in my life, but not in the way I really wanted. I declined his offer and never saw or spoke to him again. This is why all the spell books say to never cast a love spell for someone specific. You may get who you want, but there will be unpleasant strings attached. Using witchcraft to overpower someone’s will can be done, but it is never a good idea.

All of those years of meditation and creative visualization really paid off. I learned how to look at someone without really looking at them. I learned how to mentally disengage and detach, and became quite skilled at protection magic.
One of the benefits of having a regular meditation practice is that it helps you become more sensitive to unseen energies. Human beings carry an energy within them, what some call ‘Life Force Energy’. Different cultures have their own names for this energy. The Chinese call it CHI, in Hinduism it is called PRANA, and modern druids call it NWYFRE.
At times this energy can be so tangible in a person that it can be felt by others. Several years ago, I had a friend named Linda. She had a strict meditation practice, setting aside time each night for meditation. One evening we were at a gathering, and Linda was having a conversation with a small group of people when she suddenly burst out with loud, uncontrollable laughter. At that moment I was hit by what felt like waves of electricity. They were very strong, and they were emanating from Linda. They were so powerful that my knees buckled and I nearly fell to the ground. I wondered if other people had felt it too, but it did not appear so. There have been other instances when I felt tangible energy coming from another person. I’m sure it’s my meditation practices that have made me more sensitive.

On another occasion, I had been visiting with a friend and was giving her a hug before saying goodbye. When I placed my right hand on the small of her back, she collapsed to the floor. She told me that she had been having pain in her back, and when I placed my hand there, she felt energy come out of my hand and into her back, and her pain was gone. I didn’t feel anything at all on that occasion. Ever since then, I started using my right hand more than my left whenever I’m doing Reiki or energy healing for others. I now understand that healing energy can be flowing when you don’t sense anything happening.

Witches and other magical folk are often described as those who “walk between the worlds”. Regular meditation is one way to stay on that threshold between worlds, where you remain sensitive to what is unseen but still aware of what is seen. Meditation unlocks many doors, but it is important to have a disciplined practice if you want to maintain that sensitivity. These unseen energies can manifest in different ways, and you may see things you don’t understand. There are times when I’m in a room with a group of people, and the room suddenly becomes cloudy or foggy. At other times, sparkling lights appear around specific people, and shortly after this happens, often within minutes, those people have some kind of emotional or physical reaction. Every now and then, I become aware of light-beings or entities in a room. Sometimes these entities are spirit guides or guardians. One of my animal spirit guides is an owl. I was attending a local holistic expo, where there was a vendor who took aura photos using Kirlian Photography. This type of photography captures images of energy fields around the human body. I had my photo taken, and in the photo above my right shoulder was a white light in the shape of an owl. I had not said anything to the photographers about my spirit animals.

Twice while I lived in California, my left lung collapsed and I had to have surgery. The doctors said it was caused by a bubble that had formed in the lining of my lung. They had to put a chest tube in me, and the first time they did it, they did not use any anesthetic. I felt everything. I still have the scars on my chest and back where they inserted the tubes. The two collapses happened years apart. Perhaps all the second-hand smoke I breathed in at my grandmother’s house as a child contributed to this. It’s an awful feeling.

A Memory

It’s 2019, and it’s our first time at the Folsom Street Fair. We are shoulder to shoulder with literally thousands of half-naked, or completely naked people, all moving in different directions. Many are wearing all manner of fetish gear. I’m feeling over-dressed in my Marines uniform, and these boots are killing my feet. We have to hold on to each other or we’ll get separated. We have plans to meet our friend at The Eagle. As we make our way through the crowd, we see a booth where you can meet your favorite gay porn stars. I recognize a couple of them. Sean Duran. Drew Dixon. I want to meet them, but I’m too nervous and it’s way too crowded here. Next to them is a booth with sex toys for sale, along with dildoes and vibrators of every size, shape and color. We keep moving.

Up ahead there is a stage where about twenty people are playing a game of Naked Twister. “RIGHT HAND ON RED!”, I hear from a loudspeaker, then I watch as a mass of arms, legs, dicks, asses, breasts and testicles all change position. They look like they’re having fun. We’re all consenting adults here. We keep moving.

I look to my left and a naked man is lying on the sidewalk, masturbating. Nothing is taboo at the Folsom Street Fair. Whatever your fetish, you’ll find it here. Bondage and Discipline. Slave and Master. Leather. Rubber. Uniforms. Watersports. Dominance. Submission. Whatever turns you on. We keep walking and I see a man strapped to a post as a dominatrix whips him with a cat-of-nine-tails. A hot bodybuilder has been tied to a telephone pole and he’s inviting passers-by to have their way with him. “Do whatever you want to me”, he says. He’s here to be used for your pleasure. We’re moving slow because there’s so many people here.

Up ahead a crowd has gathered around a couple having sex in the street. I admire their courage. That’s why they’re here, of course. Exhibitionism, voyeurism, nudity.

It’s an adults-only erotic wonderland. Sex however you like it, out in the open for all to see. Throw your inhibitions to the wind.

We talk about how fun it will be when we get our own booth here sometime, where we’ll sell our hand-made erotic-themed quilts, pillows and candles.

Strange and Abnormal

As I mentioned earlier, the library was a place of refuge in my younger years. I would grab a few books, sit in a comfy chair and read for hours, sometimes til they closed, since I dreaded going back home. One book that really made an impact in my life back then was “Escape to Witch Mountain”, by Alexander Key. It seemed to touch upon a lot of things I was feeling at the time. It is the story of two children who had unusual gifts. They were different from everyone else. They were strange. They were abnormal. They were “Other”. They were looking for their own people, those who were like them. I happened to randomly discover this book in 1975 on a library shelf. I was 11 years old at the time. I had no idea that a movie version would be released just a few weeks later. It seemed I was fated to read it, that it had a message, that I had been guided to it somehow. It seemed to give me glimpses of things to come. While I loved the film version, it was very different from the book, which had a more mystical quality. It seemed to have been written just for me. There were sequels and TV spin-offs but they were all crap and didn’t have the same effect. Escape to Witch Mountain, the book moreso than the film, had a huge influence on me in my pre-teen years. It gave me the sense that I was not alone, that there were others like me. The children in the book had adopted the last name ‘Castaway’, which was sort of how I felt back then. An unwanted castaway who didn’t belong and everyone thought was weird.

It would still be some years before I connected the dots that I was a witch. More recently, the Harry Potter stories had a massive impact on me. There were so many connections to my own life. Like myself, Harry endured verbal abuse growing up and had been called “strange and abnormal”. Like myself, he was 11 years old when he began his magical discovery. His story inspired me to stop using my birth name and start using the name Potter. His story affected me deeply. Just because Rowling made those comments doesn’t mean I have to suddenly turn my back on all of it. She’s not the first famous problematic author. She may have given birth to Harry and his story, but the Potter fandom has evolved beyond her. We’ve sort of taken it over and made it our own. “We’ve eclipsed her”, as a friend so succinctly said. The Wizarding World has meant a lot to me and it still does. Harry Potter was one of the things that helped bring my mother and I closer together. She was a fan as well, and it was one of the few things that we bonded together over. I can’t just toss that aside. I have used the name Potter for over 20 years. My father’s last name meant absolutely nothing to me. I hated it. The bullies in school used it against me as a slur, an insult. Everyone I remember from my dad’s side of the family were either alcoholics, fiercely racist and homophobic, constantly in and out of jail, or all of the above. I severed myself completely from the whole lot of them long ago. The name Potter suits me just fine, thank you. I consider it my real name even though it is not the name on my birth certificate.

People still think I’m strange and abnormal.
I’m perfectly okay with that.

I think sometimes when the gods or higher powers want to speak to us, they will do it through things we respond to. For some people it’s art or music. For me, one of those things has been books and literature. At some point during my childhood, I was given a book of mythology. The Celtic gods stood out far above the rest. Cu Chulainn. Lugh. The Morrigan. Brighid. Cerridwen and her cauldron. Something about the Celtic gods really called out to me. They seemed familiar, like the occult books I had read. They seemed connected somehow.

At another point in my childhood, I was given an ESP (Extra Sensory Perception) Kit that contained a pack of Zener cards. Designed in the 1930s by parapsychologist J. B. Rhine, each card contains one of five symbols: A circle, a plus sign, a square, a star, and three wavy lines. These usually come in a pack of 25, and the object is to try and visualize the symbol on the card before you turn it over. It is a tool used to develop psychic and telepathic ability. I don’t remember who gave them to me, but I remember spending hours upon hours with these cards. I’m feeling rather sentimental as I write about them, as I know they helped me a great deal. I did get rather good at them, but I also learned that psychic ability isn’t something one can always turn on and off.

Most of the time, at least for me, psychic information enters my consciousness unbidden. It is a sudden awareness, a sudden knowing. Even in my younger years I remember getting sudden flashes of insight about people around me, things about them that I just knew. I envy people who are able to tap into their psychic abilities at will. I’m not quite there yet.

Throughout my elementary school years I was frequently beaten up, kicked and called names. I endured abuse both at home and at school. The teachers stood by and did nothing. I had no support whatsoever. Later, my junior high and high school years were a period of discovery. I was coming to terms with my sexuality and exploring my life’s path. The junior high school was conveniently located just around the corner from my grandmother’s house, so naturally I skipped school on occasion. My grandmother took a taxi to work, (she cleaned motel rooms for a living), so I would hide behind the house until she left and then sneak back inside. In high school I was very active in the drama department and was in several plays. This was also when I started writing. I wrote several short stories and a one-act play. Sadly, these are all lost now, left behind decades ago in the house from hell. While still in high school I auditioned for college theatre productions and got cast in several of them. These productions were intended for the college theatre students, so I didn’t tell anyone I was still in high school. I looked older and more mature than my high school classmates. It was a wonderful escape, and the many nights of rehearsals kept me away from the house. I had dreams of being an actor, but the truth is I really wasn’t that good. They were small roles with few lines, but I didn’t care. It gave me a chance to be someone else for awhile, to live in a different reality.

Throughout my high school years I continued to have strange experiences. I learned to expect them and was pretty sure they weren’t happening to anyone else. I read all I could find that might explain what was going on, and getting weird looks from other students who saw my books about witchcraft and the occult. I was one of the outcasts in high school, and the other outcasts were my friends. We were the ‘different’ ones that everyone avoided. One of my friends was a girl whom everyone thought was a witch. She had long, straight black hair and always wore black clothing, black nails, black lipstick. The story was that while in gym class, another girl was bullying her, so she angrily threatened the girl, and then all of a sudden, the lights blew out, leaving the windowless gym in total pitch darkness. This apparently made her a witch. Maybe she was. Another friend was male and bullied like I was. We became close and spent a lot of time together. All of us had some sort of label attached to us. I was the ‘weird’ one. At lunchtime we didn’t sit at the tables with the other students, we sat together on the floor of the cafeteria next to a wall. We didn’t care what people were saying about us. We didn’t want to be like the pampered football jocks always talking about the next game, or the snobby girls from well-to-do families preparing for their next cotillion. We were glad to be the oddballs and misfits, and we bonded because of it. These friends made high school somewhat tolerable, but I didn’t really associate with them much outside of school. After graduation I threw my yearbook and class ring in the nearest trash can and put the whole miserable high school experience behind me.

At some point, we had a dog at my grandmother’s house. It belonged to my uncle, who also lived with us for awhile. One day the dog ran out of the house and into the street, where it was hit by a car and killed. That night I had a dream I will never forget. I was in water, or what seemed like water, up to my neck. It was very dark, but light from an unknown source was reflecting onto the water. There were no stars or moon in the sky. As I looked up, I saw five faces looking down at me. Only their heads were visible and they were talking to each other. I sensed they were talking about me, but I couldn’t understand what they were saying. Then suddenly, I saw the same dog that had died earlier in the day, and it was running towards me across the water. This frightened me and I abruptly woke up.

The first time I experienced clairvoyance, I remember wanting to speak to my younger brother who was not in the house at the time. I closed my eyes to visualize where he was. I saw him clearly in my mind’s eye, walking up the sidewalk towards the house. I ran outside to look, and there he was, walking up the sidewalk just as I had seen him. I told him about this experience, and naturally he thought I just imagined it. It’s all in your head…

On another occasion, I was sleeping in my bed when I was suddenly jolted awake. I sat up on the side of the bed and looked around. As I turned to look at my bed, I saw myself still lying there asleep, my head still on the pillow. But I was also sitting up. How was this possible? I froze for a few moments, and then my eyes opened and I felt my head against the pillow again. Was it all just a dream?

After I graduated high school, I was awarded a grant so I could attend the local university. I majored in Theatre Arts and Speech Communications. I spent more time on theatre productions than on my regular studies, my grades suffered as a result and I lost the grant after two years. I did not graduate, and I couldn’t afford it on my own. From that point on, college was out of the picture. Luckily, my mother invited me to come and live with her in California. This was my chance to escape the town for good. I left the town in 1984. I swore that I would never set foot there again and to this day I never have. I hear it has changed considerably, but I honestly couldn’t care less. I still have this fear that even if I did go back for whatever reason, I would somehow be trapped there, unable to leave again. I’ve had recurring nightmares about waking up and finding myself there again, as if my whole life had been a dream and I had been there this whole time. These dreams are not as frequent as they used to be, but I still have them. Being there again would be quite traumatic. Just thinking about it gives me anxiety. It is the one place on earth that I never want to see ever again. If the earth opened up and swallowed the whole town, it would not affect me in the least. It was a small consolation when I recently learned that where my grandmother’s house once stood is now a parking lot. Shortly after I moved to California, she developed breathing difficulties and had to have an oxygen tank. She still continued smoking until she died, even with one lung and an oxygen tank.

I don’t tell people where I really came from. The town was never my home. I tell everyone I’m from California, since after all, I did live there for twenty-two years. It was the first place in my life that truly felt like home to me, and as far as I’m concerned, that is where I am from.

A few summers while I was still living with my grandmother, I was invited to visit my mom and her husband-at-the-time, in whatever state they were living in. On one of these visits, her husband broke my nose. They were having an argument in the hallway. He yelled at me to go outside, she told me to stay in the house. Go outside! Stay in the house! Go outside! Stay in the house! This went back and forth, and I was panicked, not knowing what to do. Then he grabbed me by the arm and dragged me into the bathroom, where he punched me in the face and broke my nose. I had to wear bandages on my nose for two weeks. Ever since then I’ve been very self-conscious about my nose, which is now obviously crooked, and I could never afford to have it fixed. I think it was traumatic for my mother too, because she never spoke of this incident, and the one time I mentioned it she denied that it happened. But I remember. It was just one of those things we didn’t talk about.

Another of her husbands would get one of those plastic orange strips that you put together to make a race track for Hot Wheels cars, and would beat me with it until he drew blood. I remember my mother screaming at him that he was hitting me too hard, and he completely ignoring her.

Yet another of my mom’s husbands used to get in my face and scream at me. This was shortly after I moved to California. One night it was horrific. His face was inches from mine, and he was literally screaming at the top of his voice that I was going to hell, and he was throwing me out of the house. I sensed that he was trying to break me, break my spirit. He gave me two weeks to pack my things and find somewhere else to live. I had nowhere else to go. He was a big, intimidating man who loved to raise his voice, proud of his macho ego, and my mother was terrified of him. He had been physically abusing her, and had already dragged her out of the house once by her hair. I appealed to the universe for help, any of the higher powers that might hear me. Exactly one week later, he had a massive heart attack and died. I was there when it happened, and if I said I wasn’t relieved for both my mom and myself, I would be lying. He was an awful, horrible human being.

All of these experiences with abuse could be why I’ve become such a stoic and solemn person. There are huge blocks of time from my past that I don’t remember at all. I have two large scars on my forehead that I have no idea where they came from.

Contrary to my Gemini astrological sign, I do not have a bubbly, outgoing personality. I’m not a social butterfly, and definitely not the “life of the party” as Geminis are frequently described. I’m the first one to leave the party. I tend to keep people at a distance until I know them better. Sometimes even when I do know them better. People think I’m anti-social, and I guess it’s true to a certain degree. It’s not that I dislike people in general, I just prefer solitude, and having personal interaction in small doses. I don’t need people around me all of the time. I’ve always been a bit reclusive. I was already social-distancing long before Coronavirus. Gemini traits that would describe me accurately are my writing, teaching and organizational skills. I’m opinionated, unapologetic, and proudly, lecherously gay. To me the sign of the Twins implies a balance of duality. Light and Dark. Magical and Mundane. Structure and Chaos.

Throughout my teenage years, and through high school and college, I spent a lot of my free time learning about meditation and psychic abilities, and how to develop them. To this day I adore the works of Shakti Gawain and Thích Nhất Hạnh. I read books by Buddhist teachers and learned a few chants, mantras and visualization techniques. Practicing these different forms of meditation brought me peace and serenity. Granted, the local library in those days had a limited selection of these topics. I looked for these kinds of books in local bookshops as well, but the metaphysical books were always hidden away in a back corner, lumped together with the UFO’s and stories of Atlantis. I read about famous psychics, like Edgar Cayce and Uri Geller. I practiced Clairvoyance, Astral Projection, Telepathy and Psychometry. I can say I’m still somewhat successful at these skills today, but nowhere near where I’d like to be.