Claiming My Power as a Trauma Survivor

I can act effectively in crisis only if I’m doing shamanic practices on a regular basis.

There are times survival takes every single ounce of one’s time. And it’s vital to do everything one can on the mundane plane to take care of a crisis. But, when crisis looms, I have the self-destructive knee-jerk response of automatically focusing solely on survival. I’ve learned that usually does not turn out well, not for me.

So I choose to instead focus on staying balanced, serene, and connected to my Gods in order to receive Their power and guidance. To accomplish all that, I need a lot of time for my shamanic practices and have to use a crisis as an opportunity for spiritual and shamanic growth.

If I, instead, frantically chase after money, security, a resolution of crisis, etc., then the money, resolution, security, etc., don’t manifest anyway. If I stay on my shamanic journey, then money, resolution, security etc., come.

When crisis hits, I need shamanism more than ever.

Historically speaking, shamanism as a means for healing from trauma—and keeping a disaster from damaging one’s psyche—has been a cultural norm. It has surely been a means for my survival and wholeness in rough times.

Shamans have also, since ancient times, used their traumas—even the worst traumas—as irreplaceable chances to manifest great magical and mundane power. This was surely my own experience.

After 9/11 traumatized U.S. citizens, and our government used that tragedy as an excuse to further traumatize us, enrollment in the shamanic classes I teach dropped for a while. When crisis hits, or appears as a possibility, some people believe they can’t afford the time or money for their shamanic training. They don’t understand that continuing their training can be pivotal to overcoming crisis. I provide scholarships, yet few people requested one in the year after 9/11.

One power of being a trauma survivor, for me, is that overcoming disasters left me with shamanic tools I can apply during this brutal administration. Another power is that I’ve learned the need for complete focus on survival is often a mirage. Mind you, I know it’s not always a mirage. But when it has been an illusion, living in that lie almost destroyed me. I’m lucky to be alive, considering what a lifestyle of overwork and worry did to my health.

“Long-term trauma” (LTT) is a worse diagnosis than post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Examples of an ordeal that causes LTT: being kidnapped and held hostage for years; and being married to a batterer for years. Quite a while ago, I suffered LTT. Not to worry, I took the necessary steps to be on the other side of that now, happy and whole. It’s all behind me. I bring up the diagnosis only to point out:

As someone who used Fey-touched tools to survive longterm horrors and come out the other side whole in spirit, I learned that serenity is possible during a horrific situation. Not always, for sure, but tranquility is not constant even in the best of circumstances. Though peace is often impossible when first in a terrible crisis, knowing that peace can develop—albeit sometimes only painstakingly in minuscule increments—is a power I’ve gained from being a trauma survivor.

When I create a calm place inside myself, I find strength and wisdom there to change a situation.

My familiar hangs out with a poppet. I made it probably in the ‘80s.

Like many survivors, I’ve been triggered by recent national events. Like many individuals, I started having trauma symptoms in response to national events. But now, screw Trump, screw his ilk. I decided I don’t have time to let fascists’ behavior traumatize me anymore. I’m doing everything in my power to keep their behavior from getting to me mentally anymore.

I affirm: They no longer will have space in my head. Heck, I’ve known all along that what’s going on in America right now is nothing new. That’s an advantage I have from being a trauma survivor. The horrific injustices currently widespread in our country are what I observed as a child in the ‘50s and throughout my whole life. I suffered terribly from some of these things My point is that what’s going on has been happening since humans first congregated, so I don’t have to lose my mind over it, but can carry on the same way I did the day before Trump got elected—fighting against such atrocities and living my life with joy.

I affirm: I can feel my indignation, rage, and even terror, but not sit in them. I can simply feel them, and then move on to feel my joy and love.

I affirm: Living in terror and rage would keep me from maximum effectiveness as an agent of change in the world. I want to help individuals upon whom horrors are being perpetrated, so I feel my indignation and rage, but do not reside in them.

In this post, I speak only for myself and of my experiences. I want every trauma survivor to find what works for them. So I support those who say a constant rage helps them fight oppression, even though that wouldn’t work for me. I used to walk around angry all day. That hurt my health and made me miserable.

Though I didn’t take my anger out on other people, furious thoughts consumed my mind, time, and energy, distracting me from doing what was needed to be as happy and productive as I became when I let go of constant angriness. Now, with less anger, I’m more likely to take positive action, more effective when I do so, and experience life’s joys more.

Wee shaman

Back to the idea that what’s going on in America is nothing new. I’ve physically, emotionally, and spiritually survived grueling ordeals that started in childhood. Some of these situations were next to impossible to survive, let alone survive spiritually whole. But I did it. For various reasons, I’m a person at risk in Trump’s America. Yet, because of the traumas I’ve gotten through in the past, I know how to find joy, peace, and beauty in my day now.

A few weeks ago, the current events in our country stopped triggering and traumatizing me anywhere near as much because I started taking advantage of being a trauma survivor in the ways I’ve described above.

In other words, I remembered that I’ve been through all this before, that I survived it, and that the horrors reported on the news every day have consistently been part of human society. I reminded myself that I learned tools to overcome crisis, shamanic tools that can keep me whole so I can enjoy my life and keep fighting oppression. I affirmed my commitment to devote as much time possible every day to shamanic practices and to spiritual and shamanic growth.

My shamanism centered me again, moving me miles toward inner wholeness. I intend to keep that movement going till I feel back to normal and then maintain that state through an ongoing abundance of shamanic practices.

I don’t bury my head in the sand about what’s going on in the world or what risks I am in. However, constantly thinking about the terrible state of humanity, or what bad things are happening to me, or that might happen to me, or the very real fact that I may not survive this current administration, will help ensure I don’t survive because unceasing worry would hurt my body badly. For one thing, the stress of nonstop worry exacerbates Multiple Sclerosis symptoms.

I will think about terrible things only to the degree needed, e.g., to minimize my risk, to change bad situations for myself and others, to discuss with my students the problems they face. Today, I signed up to be a phone volunteer for the upcoming elections. That felt great.

Nightmare monsters hide under my bed. They’re close by, threatening, trying to freak me out. I refuse to dwell on them. I prefer to use my time and the spaces in my head to celebrate existence and see its beauty.

If I focus on my shamanic practices and inner growth, I have the strength and bravery to not take the bait—in other words, to not freak out when monsters taunt me with cruel words—and to instead enjoy life.

I’m getting into top form for battling monsters. Staying serene and joyful and in pursuit of beauty help me achieve—and remain in—top form. Vehemently, passionately serene. Joyfully, loudly seeking beauty. So mote it be!

Join the Faerie Circus

feycircusI take my work as a shaman seriously, hold myself to a high standard, and do everything in my power to reach that standard. That doesn’t require pompousness. Fun is important. It adds lightheartedness to the shamanic journey. I teach ecstatic shamanic witchcraft—we have fun in our process. The end is the means.

Writing the ditty below to promote my newsletter was fun. So was making the little painting above, to accompany the ditty. The newsletter helps people, so spreading word about it is a service, and service can be fun.

Come one, come all,
join the Faerie Circus!
This is no movie, no metaphor.
This is the real deal,
this is going somewhere—
get my newsletters:
click here.

The sky’s my big tent,
a star’s my trapeze.
Come swirl through the air with me:
click here now for magic,
confidence, too,
the self love you need,
and other awesome breakthroughs.

Your witchcraft will thrive
more than ever before.
Check out my mailings;
they open the door.

Plus you’ll get freebies
that only go to
my newsletter readers.
Click here—that’s your cue!

Which photos for my book?

My upcoming book shares my journey as a witch, so I’m including a handful of photos of me at different ages. Here are pics from today. I thought photos of me when I’m close to finishing the book would make nice memories for me.

Would you like any of them in the book? Which (Witch?) ones? Would love your input.

I’m not asking your opinion about other people’s possible reactions. I actually want to know which you’d personally enjoy in the book.

At age 66, it’s interesting looking at photos of myself that I’ll release publicly. My young, dewy beauty long gone, all that is left in the photographs is who I am inside, for all to see. And for me to face and embrace.

Examining these pics, I am content. I see in myself an elder shaman, a wild wanderer traveling between atoms, and a loving, mystic fool who still enjoys life. Whew!

Each pic has a number above it, so you can tell me by number which you like.

I think they’ll be crisper and clearer in the book.

Thanks so much for your support!

Number1: July2016FDG1

Number 2:July2016FDG2

Number 3:July2016FDG3

Number 4: July2016FDG4

Number 5: July2016FDG5

Faerie Freedom

KindFey

The road to Faerie is not civilized, but kinder.

I wrote the above line in the 80s, but recently someone asked why. Good question! Here’s my answer:

Indoctrinated with the idea that our wild aspects are always ruthless and to be feared, many people’s wild, beautiful power is crushed.

Breaking out of that oppression, they often go to the other extreme, allowing themselves any actions at all, even cruel or irresponsible ones, unaware they’re being hardhearted. They might honestly believe they’re doing no harm, insisting, “I’m just being me. If you don’t like it, you’re trying to oppress me. Not my problem, because I’m a free spirit.”

I wanted to create a maxim showing a third option, other than the two extremes of suppression or hardheartedness. So I coupled the ideas of wildness and kindness.

However, it’d take a whole book to fully explain why I wrote the maxim, since I was trying to express so many ideas in it. I use my skills as a poet to write lyrical aphorisms because they can contain endless concepts and levels in a few words and touch the heart rather than just the intellect.

However, I should share: on one level, the adage refers specifically to the path I walk with my students—the Third Road—and was written as part of a blessing for students entering into a deeper level of study with me.

I wanted the blessing ceremony to include the following thoughts: We’d long ago rejected the hardheartedness mentioned above. But our upcoming shamanic journey would release more of their —and my—wild power than even our previous work together had done. When gaining another degree of wildness, it’s easy to fall prey to foolishness previously discarded. We needed to continue to integrate our wild and civilized aspects. This would more than ever make us whole in ourselves and as a community. Otherwise, we more than ever risked becoming enormously fragmented in ourselves and alienated from fellow seekers. I preferred to express all those thoughts in words that could be carried through the training not just in the mind but also the heart: “The road to Faerie is not civilized, but kinder.”

Hmm … maybe putting all the stuff in the above paragraph into the ceremony would’ve made things clearer, LOL.

Always happy to answer a question! I can’t always explain my poetry, because sometimes poetry is the only way I can explain something. But I tried my best today.

Blessed be.

NewsPrpl

Meeting Lady Olivia Robertson

My dearest Olivia, Below is a post to honor and celebrate your birthday. The piece was written over a decade ago, but you may remember it, because you told me twice you wanted it as your memorial reading. A birthday is a much happier occasion, I am blessed to post this as a birthday offering.

FOInitiationB

A treasured picture of my FOI initiation. Click on it to see it less blurred and large.

It’s been quite a while since we’ve been in touch—only once or twice in a decade—which saddens me. I wish my health had allowed otherwise. The multiple sclerosis (that’s what my illness probably is, we still don’t have a definitive diagnosis) ate up my life for years. It got so bad that it looked like I’d only a few months to live. Not to worry, now I’ve another 10 to 30 years left, because I made a deal with the Faerie queen. She needed some community work done, which I now do, and she keeps me going.

My health, though greatly improved, is nevertheless challenging: I use a wheelchair and require caretakers to perform many of my daily tasks, such as dish-washing.

But I am able to continue my work, and am still very happy in it, serving community with the shamanic skills that I was given for that purpose. And the relative improvement in my health has allowed me bit by bit to reconnect with some folks: I’m so grateful to be contacting you and re-sharing with you the piece you enjoyed.

With love, Francesca De Grandis

**************************************
Meeting Lady Olivia Robertson
Francesca De Grandis, September 2002

In the early ’90s, I was given a vision of Olivia. I saw her to be very similar to myself, what I would become. I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant; Olivia is one of the public priestesses I most admire and my admiration for her also extends to her simply as a mystic with an enormously inclusive and remarkably warm heart. Thus, to say I think we are alike might sound uppity. But in fact, it’s not that way. It’s just that, simply speaking, we are quite alike! Take that as you will.

So I went on a pilgrimage in Ireland to meet her. To her castle in Clonegal. And I wondered: Since I only had that one brief visit scheduled, how was I going to forge the connection that I was spiritually driven to make?

Waiting for her to arrive, I suddenly sensed a presence behind me. Knowing she had come into the room, I turned and there she stood, wearing bright green eye shadow and her bathrobe, the latter clearly—somehow I knew this—worn as a ritual robe. She had posed herself precisely, and her entire aspect proclaimed, “Aren’t I magnificent!?” And she was. She truly truly was. I knew that my vision had been real and correct.

We sat and chatted. Thinking that I had to grab her attention immediately, and somehow impress upon her that we had a reason to go further than a brief, amiable discussion, I took a risk: I told her who I was.

I said to her, “Olivia, I had to meet you. Because I’ve been told we are alike. I’ve been told that, like me, you are eccentric, a remarkable counselor, and an equally remarkable ritualist.”

She responded, “Why do think they call us eccentric?” And then she went on, answering her own question, “You know, they did this book. And, in it, so-and-so lay on an altar and such-and-such-other-person was leaping over a fire, and they called me eccentric! But you know why I think they call us that? It’s because we don’t do it for the money.”

FOInitiationA

A treasured picture of my FOI initiation. Click on it to see it less blurred and large.

Oh, but I gulped at that point. Because of what I knew I had to say next. To tell her who I was. Only the truth, as always, would do. And I said, “But, Olivia, I do get paid for my services.” I didn’t tell her that I do far more free work than the work that I get paid for, because that wasn’t the point.

She looked at me, perhaps startled, and said, “Ah, I know why they call you eccentric. Because you are sincere. You believe the gods are real.”

She understood. And although we had scheduled a brief visit of an hour or two, she cordially allowed me to spend the rest of the weekend with her.

There are many things I could say about Olivia. Not only in regard to what happened between us that weekend and since then, but also about her work in the world. But for now I will say this: She embodies a gracious inclusiveness that I think is sorely lacking in almost every other spiritual leader and religious organization I have seen. She understands that each person’s path is beautifully valid and, therefore, welcomes everybody into the Fellowship of Isis, blessing each soul who appears before her, querying each person with delighted questions about their unique journey. And I will add this:

Years later, she came to dine with me in my home which, being oh-so-truly-humble, unlike myself, was a sharp contrast to her castle. And as we sat in my kitchen, breaking bread at my Formica table, I happened to tell her that I had spent seven years in Faerie; a time in which I was in trance 24 hours a day. And she asked a question that no one else had ever spoken, no one had had either the insight or forthrightness. She said, “Were you celibate during those years?”

She, again, understood; she is not only a profoundly loving person, though that would have been enough. She is far more. Often, when someone has a big heart like Olivia does, others assume that the good heartedness lacks depth. People tend to think that a person has to be one-dimensional—as if one can have a good heart or brilliance, creativity or amiability, cheerfulness or insight. No, people are much more complex and wonderful than that. And in Olivia’s case, the “more” is that she is also a true not to mention brilliant mystic, and a woman I suspect has made heart rendering sacrifices to serve the community.

At the time of this writing, I have not seen Olivia for maybe three years. And I will get to be with her again in a week. During her last few visits to the States, I had to be at different conferences than she was at. I hated it but, you see, to use the old, trite, but so apt expression, duty called. I am a priestess and must go where Goddess sends me.

So this chance to see her face again, to tell her how much she means to me once again, and to pay homage in any way I can is exciting. I do not use the word homage as a sycophant; for I, too, am one who can proclaim her own magnificence. I have no false humility. But in my struggle to be a community servant, in the day-to-day fierceness of battling for a better world, I, warrior, lift my sword in salute, paying homage to my comrades in arms. To those who walk beside me, believing in greatness, sacrificing far too much for the good fight—you know, there’s no other way to fight the good fight except to sacrifice far too much —, I say, “I could not continue this battle, this terribly difficult work, without you by my side. Even if I never see you, simply knowing that somewhere you are doing the work that needs to be done allows me to keep doing it myself.” And I look up to the spiritual servants, though I am one myself. Lady Olivia Robertson, one warrior and lady to another, blessings on your magnificent soul.”

Inherent Magic & Fundie Paganism

Magic is a flow within the fabric of reality. Magic is also a state of being inherent in all living things. Magic is also living in myth, actually living it. And magic is love. Fundamentalist religion, including fundamentalist Wicca, squelches one’s magical being, squelches one’s love, and separates one from the larger flow of loving magic. If you judge others’ magic, your own may weaken.

*******
Beloved Fellow Seeker, Thank you for your spiritual journey, because I can’t grow spiritually alone.

I wrote a book, out of gratitude for you and love for you: “Sprinkling Faerie Dust on Breakfast: A Daily Reader for Busy Parents and Their Children . . . and for Any Way-Busy Person.”

Spiritual reading that fits into your day and supports travelers of any spiritual path.

Only available from the author. Buy it here: http://etsy.me/W5GJs4 Thank you again!