Wells of Power

If you didn’t read Monday’s blog, please do.  Anyhoo…

The tarot card reader told me I needed to change my perspective.  She told me I was looking at it all wrong, and that if I would just tap into the well of power that I already knew existed, things would be fine. She was not the first to say this to me. 

I went to Lilydale many years ago, a Spiritualist community in south western New York.  The medium I saw told me I was psychic.  At first, I thought maybe this was a gimmick she used on folks, after all, I’d never had a reading before.  But then she asked me if I just knew things.  I do, all the time.  She told me there were spirits there wanting to speak through me, not just to me, but I couldn’t hear them because I wasn’t quite in tune enough to their frequency.  She told me I was the most psychically in-tune person In the group I was visiting with, and I should consider studying…maybe even there at Lilydale someday.  I assumed, still, this was a ruse of some sort…a way to drum up money for the community.  But at the end of the day, no one else in my party was told they had a gift; just me.

Then, Salem last week.  The reader was on the money about everything, so I’m going to assume she’s right about perspective, too.  I wrote a piece in my Patreon about how the Salem Witch Trials affected me when I was young, and how it was difficult for me to understand why I was so deeply saddened over something that happened hundreds of years before I was born.  And not like how I was over learning about a war, or even learning about the Irish potato famine with which at least my heritage identified.  No, it was the Salem Witch Trials in 3rd grade that made me cry unexplained tears.  A couple of years later, my parents and I took a vacation to New England and went to Salem, and I remember my excitement and joy and how I gobbled up every morsel of information presented to me.  I wanted to see and do everything, but we were only there for a couple of hours.  I do recall a live reenactment of Bridget Bishop’s trial…which leads me into my name.

I was named after St. Brigid of Kildare. I knew no Brigid’s other than myself, though a couple of “T’s” (that’s what I call the “Bridget’s,’) crossed my path.  When small, I loved that my name was similar to one of the “witches,” so when my parents suggested we go to the reenactment I was delighted.  Then, in high school, I read a book one day, on Celtic folklore…just for funsies.  What a rabbit hole that turned out to be!  I discovered that there was not just a masculine god, but a feminine goddess…many of them in fact…but the main one, the goddess of the country of my ancestors?  BRIGID.  With a damn “D!” 

Naturally, I needed all the information on that immediately, so off I went to the library where I learned all the things as a child.  It was right around this time that I learned that St. Brigid of Kildare may have been a real person, but it is far more likely she is someone that the early church in Ireland used to appropriate the goddess form Celtic belief structures to lure folks to Catholicism, which is of course exactly something the Church would do.  So, from that point on, I started the practice of remembering who shares my name when I am feeling powerless: a might powerful goddess. 

Anyway,

The tarot card reader told me I needed to change my perspective, and I have.  I won’t lie, I have felt a complete shift in my perception of the world in the last few days, which has made me question many things. Part of me, the part that is trained to silence myself, says these are all silly thoughts and to pay them no mind.  But the part of me that knows, the way I knew where our car was parked that time it was stolen, or how I knew that there was a spirit talking to me when I was five, or how I knew that my best friend was throwing me a surprise party for my 16th birthday, or how I knew Mark was going to propose….in that way, I know-there is indeed a greater power within, and perhaps it is time to cultivate it. 

Season of the Witch

As the constant reader knows, I needed a flippin’ break.  I have been under massive amounts of stress, what with a sick mother, and an apartment hunt, and a new job.  I was even diagnosed with Acute Stress Disorder and my psychiatrist doubled my meds.  As I like to say about the recent situation, everything is on fire, and has been for a few months.  So naturally, when it came time for the girl’s trip I planned last year, I wanted to bail a little. The timing just seemed so terrible…and yet, everyone encouraged me to go, damn the circumstance.  So, I did.  And oh, am I glad I did!

Much in the way that a week in the Bahamas with my sister renewed my spirit many years ago, this little jaunt to Salem, Massachusetts did exactly the same.  We were staying smack dab between there and Boston, and I was thinking we might take in both cities, but there was so much to do in Salem that Boston was easily discarded as a destination.

The first night we had dinner at a bar called The Witches Brew, where the waitress told us where to go and what to avoid-excellent information for the bewildered tourist.  We walked around for a bit and got our bearings, then planned the next day and headed back to the hotel.  In the morning we returned, and discovered Essex St, which is a walkable road with shops and tourist attractions and restaurants.  (PS all of Salem is walkable.  It’s amazing.  Catch up, Buffalo.)  Essex St. is probably the most touristy part of the area…when we were back on Saturday, there were street performers, too (and a ton more people.)  Anyway, we took a red trolley on a ride around the city, where a colorful tour guide named Skip gave us interesting information peppered with corny jokes.  It was nice to ride around and hear the history and see the sights, plus it gave me a sense of direction around the city.  I am used to meticulously planned towns, not the wild growth of villages you find in New England. 

After the trolley tour, we went to a magic shop called Pentagram, where I got a tarot reading.  Oooh boy…that was intense.  She asked if I had any questions and I told her: “Everything is on fire.  When will that let up?” Short answer: next year.  Long answer: the reader saw two issues…sickness and uncertainty.  Further cards told her the sickness was not mine but my mother’s, so score one point for the tarot reader.  The uncertainty cards unfolded to reveal my fears of change regarding “moving on,” as she said…as I am LITERALLY trying to move into a new home.  Then she stops, smiles, and tells me my grandfather is there.  No message…he just wanted me to know he was hanging out.  (Later, when I told this to my father, he laughed heartly and sad “sounds like Dad.”)  At the end, she told me I have power within me that I am not utilizing, which makes her the second psychic to tell me that.   (More on this in my next blog.)  She also told me that this time next year, everything with be different in a good way.  So…only a few more months of fire expected.

Then we went to the Salem Witch Museum.  It was…fine.  They have these tableaus with terrifying mannequins that light up as a narrator who sounds like Vincent Price tells you about the trials.   Then you go into another exhibit where a different loudspeaker narrator shows you three tableaus of witches through the years.  One cool thing they have is a copy of The Wizard of Oz script, but sadly no photography was allowed.  I also really liked that they compared the trials to McCarthyism, which was my term paper topic in high school.  After, you exit through the gift shop.  I very much remember the gift shop from when I went with my parents when I was 9…but I don’t think we saw the exhibit, because that horror would have surely etched itself in my brain.  All in all, I don’t think it was worth the 17 bucks.  Especially if you already know the story and if you don’t…why did you even come here?  But I digress…

That night we had booked a private tour, because I wasn’t interested in the group ones where 50 people follow a man with a blowhorn around.  Instead, I found a night time witch history/ghost story tour, and it was just us three following a cloaked and top hatted man with a lantern through dark city alleyways (we are so clearly not in Buffalo anymore, Toto.)  Truthfully, it was awesome, because he had a tale for every step we took, and it was so cool that it was just the four of us out there when there were like dozens of mass tour groups floating around…we got to see nooks and crannies they literally couldn’t fit into, like a smuggler’s alley, for instance.  The best spot was the Ropes Mansion Garden (the Ropes Mansion is Allison’s house from Hocus Pocus, in case you were wondering.  Sidebar: Salem folk are NOT HAPPY Hocus Pocus 2 filmed in New Hampshire.)  There was a bench there where you could sit and commune with the spirits that I thought was pretty neat.

After the two-hour walking tour, we were beat, and headed back to the hotel.  In the morning, it was the day of the AFSP Out of the Darkness walk.  I was missing the event back home, but I raised $750 this year, so I had to do my part in some way.  We started our morning with coffee and a lovely little nature hike along a birdwatching trail near our hotel.  It was shorter than expected, but since I got like 18k steps in the previous day, I figured I could easily make up the couple miles I would have done for the walk.  (And I did.  We walked like 17 miles the whole trip.)

We went back into the city and parked the car, then schlepped over to the Satanic Temple, fifteen minutes away.  I was very excited for this because I think TST is really cool….and if you don’t, it’s probably because you don’t know anything about them, or you think they are connected to The Church of Satan, who are pretty much the “bad guys” of the Satanic world.  I will go into this at some point in the future, because it would actually make for a super interesting blog post.  Anyhoo, we got there and we didn’t have vax cards on us because we are morons, so we couldn’t go in, which was a dissappointm4ent.

So, then we schlepped back to Salem proper.  FInally, the highlight of the trip: Witch Pix.  Witch Pix is a photography studio that dresses you up like a witch and then takes professional photos. I dressed as a “warrior witch,” with a teal fur cape, black and gold brocade corset dress, and black horns.  The pictures were STUNNING and we had so much fun. 

After some more shopping and such, we headed back to the hotel and had dinner, and then we decided to perform a spell.  Sahar bought a little kit for a healing spell, and we did it for my mother.  The crazy part is that I was ending the spell by blowing out a candle, and the moment I did, Sahar’s bag fell off the table.  Coincidence? I think not.

Anyway, we just hung out for a bit, then slept, and in the morning, I had the best and unhealthiest breakfast ever: fried French toast topped with Nutella and strawberries.  Afterwards, we headed home.  7 hours and 4 pee breaks later, and we were back in the Buffalo.

So.  That was my trip.  Was it fun?  Absolutely.  Will I travel with these awesome women again?  Yup, just tell me when and where, ladies!  Did it change my entire outlook on life?

…tune in Thursday for the answer to this and more questions.

Happy Monday.

The Planning Process

I took a little New Year break, in case you didn’t notice.  Not the fun, Christmas-vacation sort, but rather the “is this Covid or the flu?” kind of a break.  (Think it was the flu.  Still waiting on test result.)  But I’m back, and I want to talk to you about….going away.

If I had money, I would pack a bag and take off right now, to God knows where, perhaps even against the CDC’s recommendation.  Carnival Cruise line sent me a fabulous offer just two days before the news told me to stay off the cruise ships.  Not that I would be going anyways, because money.  I am a very thrifty traveler, because I do it very rarely.  All the major trips I’ve ever really been on have been with an organization or other folks that planned everything and let me tag along. 

Now, I am going to Salem in the fall with some friends, and I realized right away that I didn’t know what the heck I was doing, so I looked around for tips on travel planning and found: travel planners.  The “travel agent” of old still exists, it’s just morphed a bit for the future.  I chatted to one for a second and then mid-conversation, I realized I was a blood traitor, politely ended the text chain, and immediately messaged my cousin, Sarah Hamar.

A little about Sarah.  She is not only a travel planner, but a mom, wife, and athlete.  She used to work at a bank, but recently left that job to pursue travel planning fulltime with Marvelous Mouse Travels.  Now, the reason I didn’t think of her at first was because I associate Marvelous Mouse with Disney, and I am not a Disney girl.  Sarah most definitely is, so it’s the perfect job for her.  She’s been going to Disney every year since she was born, and as a kid I envied her trips, more for the sunshine than the Mouse.  Alas, my little self thought of her family as world travelers, especially when she started killing it in hockey and joined road teams.  However, it wasn’t until she found herself in Scotland one day, taking a college course, that Sarah herself realized how much she loved travelling.  She told me it was the best experience of her life, and ever since she has made travel important to her, venturing all around the US and even working in Disney for a time.  Oban, Scotland, specifically, has been her favorite destination so far.  (I had to look up photos…they’re in the slideshow at the bottom.)    

Anyway, eventually Sarah got a husband and a couple of kids and a day job at the bank, which was fine, but didn’t scratch the adventure itch.  So, she got involved with Marvelous Mouse, and spent about 8 months working 10-hour days just so she could quit that day job and do travel planning full time.  Now, she does what she loves and has extra time with her family, and yeah, I’m super proud of her.  I’m biased.  She’s my cousin, after all.

Anyway, I was also super curious, because she’s an independent contractor, and that’s the dream as far as I’m concerned.  I was surprised by how similar her schedule is to mine, though we are in such different fields, but I suppose all freelance work has its similarities.  We both do our email and our social media, then work on our projects.  Sure, mine is a book or a blog and hers is this awesome-sounding Halloween Disney Cruise that even my non-Disney self would attend.  I also asked what motivated her, and she said success, so that must run in the family because I am fueled by book sales, Patreon subscriptions, and general compliments.  If she’s not booking travel, she’s not making money.  I feel that.  If I’m not writing something down, then there’s no potential money down the line. 

So, anyway, my broke-self was worried I couldn’t afford her services, and then I come to find out…it’s FREE, guys.  Resorts pay her.  Cruise lines pay her.  You don’t pay her, so of course, my thrifty inner traveler screamed “Sign me up!”

But I don’t want to go to Disney. 

Casually, I ask if she does other destinations and she tells me yes, sure, wherever, and inner traveler rejoices again.  See, in 2005, when booking your own hotels online was first a thing, I made some reservations for a hotel in New York for a night because I had an audition in the morning.  It was more stressful to book and plan that small trip than it was to actually audition at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.  Now, I haven’t booked my own travel since, and I’m sure technology has made it worse somehow, so I am soothed by the presence of Sarah and others like her who can figure it out for me. 

I really enjoyed learning about her experience, and as I approach 1k words here I realize I’ve just been selling you my cousin this whole time.  Which is kind of the point, see.

I love my cousin, so I think you should love my cousin, obviously.  But that aside, she has a talent that I do not possess, and I feel that should be applauded.  I mean, my very favorite compliment is “I wish I could write like you.”  Girl, I wish I could plan like you!

I am very much looking forward to my upcoming trip, which I am sure I will write more about as it approaches, so here is another character in the story for you.  Sarah Hamer, the travel planning princess.

Witchy Women

I never had a bachelorette party.  Some ideas were thrown around between me and my Maid of Honor, Jaime, but we never came to rest on anything and the year surrounding my wedding was so crazy that it just didn’t seem feasible at the time.  So, I never had a night out with my girls.

Not that I really have girls.

In grade school, I had three girls I hung out with, Christina, Sabine, and Jamie (a different one.  Note the spelling.)  But my best friend remained Kevin, and I hung with him and the boys as much as I did with the girls.  In high school I was surrounded by women, and had a group of about ten that I spent my days with.  Of course, now, that group has dwindled to two that I speak with regularly, Jaime (my MOH) and Chelsea. 

Recently, Sahar’s sister posted some photos on Instagram of her and her girl group out on the town, and I felt a twinge of jealousy.  I never had anything like that, and it turns out, I want it.

So, I decided to plan a girl’s trip.  I enlisted the help of my cousin Sarah who is a travel planner (check out her page here) because I am just nonsense when it comes to hotels and reservations and tickets for things.  I picked a place, Salem, Massachusetts, and a date: Sept. 15 2022.  I compiled a list of my nearest and dearest, as well as my sister and her nearest and dearest, and I think it will make for an excellent group excursion.  I have already made a list of things to do, and am super excited to share it all with my friends.

I went to Salem as a kid and had an absolute blast, but I do recall many things I wanted to do that my age had restricted me from.  Now I can go see a psychic and the satanic temple and go in the magic shoppes!  Very exciting.

I asked Twitter if they had been on girl’s trips before and the results were mostly positive, save a poor girl who lost her wallet shortly into her excursion.  Most chicks seem to want to travel to beachy areas, and I love a good beach, but Salem in September is more my speed. 

And so, like I did when I had a year to go until the cruise I took with my sister, I will start saving my money now, because I don’t want to worry about it down the road.  I told Sarah I didn’t want anything fancy, but I definitely want fun.  I’d rather spend more money on attractions than lodging, y’know?  I mean, we’re only going to sleep there.

Alas, I have never planned a major trip before, so this should be fun.  And I am fortunate to have an awesome planner in the family, too.  I am very excited, even though it is a year away.  Something to look forward to; something to work for.