Gabriella Suzanne

Gabriella Suzanne.

What’s in a name? Anything? Everything?
Gabi Su would say it only matters if it matters.
But she is a cat. Or she was a cat,
who has now been promoted to Cat Spirit,
Cat Mother, Cat Goddess,
Wild Cat who roams the forest
and who sleeps so lightly on my bed
in the tenebrous night.

When Gabi Su first came to me
she was called “Susan” —
much too ordinary
for who she really was.
But when I asked her True Name,
she said, “Who, Me?
I’m no one at all. I don’t have a Name.”

That just couldn’t be right. Even I,
a mere human, knew that and we humans
hardly ever even know our own True Names.

Her sister Sally was so emphatically a Sally,
diminutive royalty, that no one ever got it wrong.
Brother Samuel was not a Samuel at all, but
he knew he was Robbie,
Round Robbie, if you please.
But “Susan” — who was she really?
It took years to find out.

She was sitting on the arm of my chair,
half talking, half singing about something
complicated and long. When she paused
I said, “You should have been named “Gabby”.
She looked astonished and pleased
and head-butted my nose. Suprised,
I said, “Really? Your Name is Gabby?”
She turned her head away, a clear cat “No.”

Thinking about it, then asking, “Could it be
Gabriella?” Still turned away,
she looked at me out of the corner
of her eye and waited. “Gabriella Suzanne?”
Head-butts, pat-a-cheeks, nose kisses, all in a flurry.
We had it at last!

“Gabriella Suzanne, would you like a treat?”

The turning away of the head. Not right.
I sighed. Thinking again, saying, “Gabi Su?”
Another nose kiss and, tail high,
she led me to where she knew
the best treats lived.

But, now, today,
when I mark the stone
for her grave, it will be
Gabriella Suzanne.

Cù Sìth? The Black Dog

This is the first of a series of small pieces that I’ll tag as “plot twists”. Not long ago, in a writing class, we were asked to write a few paragraphs about an incident that changed our lives — something that changed the way we see and approach the world. My first response was a totally blank mind, but then I realized that there were many such incidents but most of them would seem quite minor to others. There is a thing called “the teachable moment” when we are ready to profoundly get something, even something that seems unimportant to the people around us. Those moments matter forever after. If we think about them later on when we can see the effect they have had and still have on us, we may understand ourselves better. Hopefully, if I tell you a few of mine, it may help you remember and make better use of your own. I call them “plot twist moments” because they alter the course of our personal stories. For example:

About two in the morning, after an argument with my husband, I was too restless and agitated to sleep, so I went out for a walk. This probably wasn’t a wise thing to do in Glasgow, especially on the long, deserted Kelvin Way as it passed the dark, silent Glastow University and then through the even-darker Kelvin Park, empty except for homeless people, perhaps sleeping, perhaps not.

There was a thick hedge between the park and me. I wasn’t really thinking about where I was or the risks of a Glasgow night; I was just hotly simmering and trying to calm down. About halfway along, a tatty black van approached from the other direction — and slowed and stopped about 30 feet in front of me. A brawny, rough-looking man got out.

“Hey, missus! Want a ride?” Hard voice full of innuendo.

“No, thank you.” When in doubt, be polite.

“Och, come on!” He was still approaching, now about halfway to me. This was getting scary.

At that moment, a huge, hulking black dog materialized out of the hedge bordering the park. The dog stepped in front of me, facing the oncoming man and snarling.The man stopped abruptly, holding out both hands as if to push the dog off. The dog took a slow step toward him, and then another. The rumbling growl grew deeper and louder as he continued to slowly pace forward.

“Hold your dog, missus! I’m going!” He fled toward the van, jumped in, and reversed hastily up the street to the nearest corner, disappearing with a squealing of tires.

The dog stood still, but rumbling until the van was out of sight. Then he started to turn toward me and I wondered, “Now what?”

He faced me, the orange glow of the street light reflecting in his eyes, happily wagging his tail, his tongue lolling. He was clearly saying, “Aren’t I a good dog?” I thanked him fervently, and he turned and vanished back into the hedge.

Still somewhat shaken, I went home.

Months later, when I finally told the story to some Scottish friends, one asked hesitantly, “Was that dog real?”

The others all nodded.

There are many legends in Scotland about black dogs who appear when needed to rescue or to harm people. I hadn’t thought of the stories until then and, indeed, the dog had seemed utterly solid, but… I wasn’t certain. I answered, “He was real enough.”

Do I believe the dog was “real” or was it one of the cù sìth, the faery dogs of Scottish legend? I tend to swing both ways. But what I got from this as it settled into me was that I felt protected — and I continued to feel protected. I still do. And the way we feel, the energy we project matters. That alone is a kind of magic.

He was real enough.

What plot twists do you remember way back in your life? And how did they change things for you?

Interview About Faery

Recently, I was asked by Isabella Baucco if she could interview me about Faery for a paper she was doing for her folklore class in university, and I agreed. She also said that it would be fine for me to post it here. I may add pictures later. It was rather rushed, but here it is:

Subject: Fae interview questions

Hello! Feel free to answer as many of these as you are comfortable with, in whatever order you would like! Thank you so much for your time, and I’m sorry about the rushed deadline!

When was the first time you came into contact with the fae, and what was that like?

I don’t remember. It seems like they were always there. I suspect it was something like my granddaughter. I watched her pull herself up at the window and look outside when she was about six months old. She peered around out there and finally saw what she was evidently looking for. She giggled and waved at what she saw and promptly fell down, unable to stand up without holding on with both hands. She laid there, giggling and waving her arms and legs for a bit and then got back up. When she caught sight of what she was looking for again, she laughed more and bounced as well as she could, making little crooning sounds at what she could see, her eyes following it (or them) around. She was definitely seeing something, batting her eyelashes at them, and babbling as babies do when they are happy, with an occasional delighted shriek thrown in. I like to think that it must have been much the same for me. Now that she is 15 she doesn’t remember that any more than I do.

How would you define the fae?

They are beings, as far as I understand it, who live at a different frequency than we do. Like the difference between ultraviolet light (and higher frequencies of radiant energy) and the light we see by. The same planet viewed at different “levels”. I’m not a physicist and can’t even begin to figure that out, but I take the faeries word for it as they seem to think they know. I just know that they are there, and I have to be quite quiet inside myself in order to perceive them. However, I see them with my eyes like I see human auras simply as light. And like human auras, sometimes I see them, but mostly I sense them in other ways — scent, voices, sounds, melody. People vary in how we perceive these things, and I’m personally less clairvoyant than I am clairaudient and clairsentient. They seem to live much longer than we do for the most part, and they come in as many varieties as what we think of as “normal” earth creatures, plants, and other living beings.

Because of this, they perceive the world differently than we humans do. They have tried to explain and show me, but I suspect it’s rather like me trying to explain mathematics to the cat. One of my cats is quite sure that she is due two crunchy treats before each meal — she knows that one is not enough and that three are exciting and special, but two are what she clearly expects. I get very accusing looks if there is only one left in the jar. Does she count 1, 2, 3? Or does she just know in some other way?

Sometimes I feel the frustration of the fae when they are trying to explain something to me, and I regret being so “hard of understanding” but it’s how humans generally are. Fortunately, the fae don’t give up easily and may try to explain things later in incomprehensible or funny dreams or other ways.

How are you able to tell when you have come into contact with fae?

For me, there is usually happy, bubbly, yet peaceful feeling or almost as if there is a lot of static electricity in the air. (You need to understand here that nearly everything I say about them is a sort of metaphor for the actual experience. It’s not static electricity and it doesn’t make sparks that sting, but that’s the closest I can come to a description of it.) The air is buzzing without a sound? There may be a sense of presence akin to someone standing close behind you — you may not see or hear them, but you know that they are there.

It’s tricky to maintain the necessary quietness inside myself when I’m sensing that exuberance around. At the same time, I may see lights or hear voices or music or other sounds. There may be light touches to get my attention or the hum of healing energy. Often they tell me something I didn’t know but needed to understand. Sometimes they make jokes — occasionally visual puns or other kinds of faery humor. It’s hard to explain this — often their communications arrive as a burst of insight that is a mixture of emotions, words, and energy. To them, these bursts are the normal way to communicate, but to a human, they may require some mental unpacking to grasp all the layers of meaning, if in fact we ever do get it all.

How would you describe your emotional state during the experiences you have had? Are there any extremes/outliers?

Variable. It depends on what is going on. Is it serious or purely fun? Deep or playful? We humans tend to separate these mental and emotional states, but to the fae, they are not mutually exclusive. In fact, we have had long discussions about the way humans limit themselves to a linear one-thing-at-a-time in our perceptions while faery communication/perception is more holistic. A burst of faery insight may contain joy and sorrow both. They have argued that we miss the point of doing things when we separate play from work, insisting that all purposeful activities are both, and if they are not, we’ve got something quite wrong about why and how we’re doing it.

How would you describe the fae you have encountered?

That’s difficult too. An individual faery may make the impression of being nine feet tall, but to them (if I understand this correctly), it’s more about intensity of presence than it is about physical size. In fact, they seem to find it confusing when I say something like “nine feet tall” as if they were limited to a specific size, space, or shape when really that isn’t so. There is another thing here — let’s take the human “aura” as an example. “Auras” are very fluid and changeable. They are the bioenergy field that exists through and extends beyond the human physical body — and the bodies of animals, insects, and all the other things we consider to be living, physical beings made of matter. But if the physicists are correct, matter and energy are the same thing, but slowed down and compacted or faster and more free. If E=mc2, this must be so. Nuclear weapons suggest this is true and a little bit of “matter” can quickly be converted to a great deal of “energy”.

Apparently, while humans perceive matter and energy as different things, the fae don’t. It is all one thing. I just realized something! In many belief systems about the fae, they are regarded as the “Elder Folk” and much older than the human species. We human and other earth beings could be a sort of Faery larva (or prenatal embryo) and may eventually (though the millennia?) grow up to be fae ourselves. That’s a mind-boggling thought! Anyway, back to my previous line of thought about trying to describe the fae and how they explained that to me.

I could try to describe an individual fae. I could even draw a picture of one. BUT, as they have been quick to explain, that picture is just a metaphor for who they really are. What we “see” is a watered-down version of their personality and/or character. What we “see” as bodies or faces is a meeting point somewhere between our conceptions and their reality. We see a particular kind of face/body that represents their character or personality as we (as individuals) would see that being. Another human might project a different face on that same person. For a simple example, I have heard a few people say that brown eyes are “warm” and blue eyes are “cold”. Having blue eyes myself, I don’t agree, but I have heard it said more than once, usually by brown-eyed people. To a person who believes that and is perceiving a warm personality, they would see the faery eyes as brown, whereas I, not believing, might see them as blue or even some color unlike normal human eyes. The same thing is true of all the features — we perceive personality in flesh, but we are not always correct. A human may be quite ugly but be kind and friendly, a lovely person — or they may be physically beautiful and yet narcissistic or psychopathic. Yet often the way we perceive the fae is that we project the features and expression on the personality the fae are projecting. Confusing? Well, yes it is. Communication with faeries is frequently fraught with confusion, resulting largely from our own limitations and projections. If we want to see someone as scary, we will project that on them, true or false.

Have you encountered different types of fae? How did these experiences differ?

Yes, I have. They may differ vastly — differing as much as experiencing a human versus experiencing a rock or a tree. This question either requires a book in answer or can’t be readily answered at all. I hope the rest of my answers here will help compensate for the absence of one here.

How would you describe the energy of places where fae might be/where you have encountered them?

Again, they differ a great deal, depending on what is going on there. I need to say here that there are places we may experience the fae more easily, but the fae are, in fact, everywhere. But in places that are noisy, unpleasant, distressing, violent, we tend to be overwhelmed by these loud things and miss out entirely on the much more subtle presence of the fae. But they are still there.

Have you had any experiences that have stuck with you or changed your life?

Many, many, many.

What do you think the origin of fae is?

I really don’t know. Even they haven’t tried to explain it to me. If the legends have it right, they have been around a lot longer than we have. I’m even less certain, if possible, about the origins of gods and goddesses and the universe. We humans are just babes blundering about in the universal woods. I’m not even certain about our own origins.

Are there any experiences that you would like to talk about?

Dozens. Hundreds, in fact. After all, I’m 80 and they’ve always been a part of my world. But I won’t. Well, perhaps one or two.

One was a series of conversations I had with a couple of them about money. On first of the month, I was writing checks to pay my bills. and a couple of them asked what that was “really” about. They didn’t like, they said, how I got all tangled up when I was doing it. We got into a long discussion about money. Eventually, I tried to explain money as a sort of “crystalized energy” which represented what we received from and gave to others. They seemed doubtful, but agreed to study it from that point of view.

The next month as I was paying my bills again, they expressed disagreement with my explanation. They had been watching this “money thing” and had found that “some people gave a great deal of energy in exchange for little money while others might receive a lot of money in exchange for very little of their energy.” It didn’t, they said, seem fair at all, especially as one only needed to look at the aura of a human to tell if they were giving more than they were receiving and how they felt about it.

I explained that, although this was probably true, we humans weren’t good at perceiving auras clearly enough to do that. They said, “Well, you could be if you practiced!” This is a remark I’ve heard from them in other contexts like teleportation, telepathy, astral travel, and other borderline things people sometimes do. I had to admit that this could be so, but as yet we hadn’t got that good at it. This seemed like a standoff, so I went back to paying my bills, and they agreed to study it some more so we could talk about it next time.

The next month rolled around and again I was writing checks to pay bills. They hovered in front of me, watching. Finally, one said, “We still don’t think this makes any sense.” I should perhaps mention that I am not at my best when I’m dealing with money and bills and numbers, and without thinking, I snapped, “It’s a game we are playing, and money is the way we keep score!”

“Oh! Why didn’t you tell us that before? It makes perfect sense!”

They promptly vanished, leaving me thinking, “It does? Really?” It didn’t make sense to me, did it? And yet I was afraid that it actually did. All that angst and suffering people went through was just for the counters in a game? Yet, over the years I have come to agree with them more and more. But it’s still a bit unnerving.

Hmmm. I could go on and on. That was an easy tale to tell, but many happenings are much more complicated, perhaps even profound. Yet, though I’d like to tell them, and even though the fae insist that “doing good in the right way” makes us stronger, it’s quite late and I’m tired and almost falling asleep on my keyboard. The cats have given up and gone to bed and the fae are looking a bit disapproving — they, too, seem to have enjoyed this, but enough is enough for the moment. They even look a little smug about it, possibly because of the embryo thing. Or something else — I don’t know. But I do need to get to bed before the birds start waking up and making a musical ruckus in our forest here.

Good night, and good morning, Bella. And thank you.

Faery blessings to you,



I just saw Wesley True Lee’s cover photo on Facebook. He didn’t explain it, but it reminded me of something I’d forgotten. Once upon a time, long ago (as my own years are counted), I was working in Glasgow, Scotland. I needed a holiday, and hopped on a train, thinking to go to Oban — or somewhere in that direction, wherever my feet wanted to go. As we pulled out of the station, I saw a rainbow in the direction of Oban. My passing thought was that I must be on the right track, headed, as I was, for a wild rainbow.

I settled in to read my book. Every time I looked out of the window (often) the rainbow was still in the direction of Oban, but I was in the habit of travelling with faeries so I knew then that I might wind up anywhere…

This went on until we reached Crainlarich. The train I was on was headed for Inverness, but the rainbow held unwaveringly in the direction of Oban although it was now to the west instead of the northwest. I changed trains there and followed it. At every station, I checked the rainbow — still steady for Oban. When I arrived there and walked out of the station, the rainbow had shifted and was out over one of the Western Isles. I checked the landmarks I could recognize, went back in the station (a Brit would say “on the station” instead of “in” but I don’t climb on their roofs). There I bought a map, and then going outside again, found that my rainbow was over Lismore. I’d always intended to go there someday, and this, apparently, was the right time.


The Lismore ferry and a rainbow
cc-by-sa/2.0 – © Gordon

Back in the station, I bought a ferry ticket for Lismore and went to the tourist desk to book a bed and breakfast room. They also did dinner because they were rather remote from any village. This suited me fine — I just planned on walking idly and gently resting and happily communing with whatever/whoever I found willing, and perhaps writing or sketching.

The promised car from the B&B picked me up, and … the rainbow had moved again and we were travelling straight for it. I said to the driver, “That’s a lovely rainbow.”

He looked at it thoughtfully and said, “Aye, it’s bonny. It’s just about over the house.” So it was — in fact, as we got close enough to see the house, it was right over it. He gave it an odd look and added, “I’ve not seen it just over the house before.” He grinned at me, pleased to have such a gift to offer a stranger. It still held steady, arched over the house, and disappeared just as we pulled into the long driveway.

After a good dinner and a sit by the fire with my book, I went up to my room and slept soundly, the only guest in the house just then. In the morning after breakfast, I set out with a small backpack, holding my sketchbook and pencil, an apple, a sandwich, and a bottle of water. As I walked out the door, I looked all around up at the sky (this is a habit that old sailors have — the first thing you check as you come out of the hatch is to see what weather is coming at you from all directions).


I took the road that went toward it. North. After a couple of hours of sauntering, I came to an old stone bench, half collapsed but still strong enough to sit on. I sat, leaned back facing the sun, and sighed happily. The air was sparkling with the presence of faery, the way it often does in Scotland. As I sat there, quiet, a feeling that I’d forgotten washed over me — perfect calm, perfect peace beyond measure, timeless.

I sat there every day for a week, and every day that magical feeling swept over me there. It might be ten minutes; it might be hours. Between sittings, I randomly rambled around the island. Never far, just far enough to see whatever I needed to see to delight and teach me.

Somehow, since then, I’ve always known that, however it feels, I’m always in the right place at the right time, especially as long as I follow guidence given instead of trying to lead myself.

Inner Journeys May Gang Aft Agley


I wrote the first part of this over a year ago,and will update it at the end.

My question for this inner journey exploration was “Why am I finding it so difficult to lose weight?”

The Topsie Turvets suggest…

Things need to be looked at from a different angle. Back out of your emotional entanglements, take a deep breath, and look anew. Much of the apparent confusion about your current situation is caused by a faulty point of view.

Get the honest opinions of sensible others, and then re-look at your own. Defensiveness and denial may be causing much difficulty.

Try imagining that you are looking at the situation from the viewpoint of each of the others involved. This is not an exercises in seeing how others “ought” to see things, but in simply understanding what they feel. Words like “he ought to see that…” are not useful at this time.

And don’t be angry with yourself if it turns out you were missing something and need to change your point of view. It shows you are learning and growing and to be congratulated!

Faery blessings on your little toes, for they will carry you into wonderful things!

I’m thinking that perhaps in this case “others” may refer to different aspects of myself — it might be useful to think of them as body, mind, spirit — or perhaps as the chakra system with each chakra an individual entity, linked though it to all the others. I don’t know — it might be something else.

I also am not certain who I need to ask to speak to. I think I’ll draw another card and see if it suggests someone.

The Faery Who Was Kissed by the Pixies, Morna, says, “The answer to your question is, put simply, love — love given with wisdom and compassion, love without selfishness or possessiveness.”

Morna tells us that giving and receiving love and intimacy in a wide variety of relationships is important at this time. She gives you notice that this is a time to open and heal your heart.

Different aspects of life may well be flowing happily together, healing separations and hurts from the past. Bonding may take place and deep feelings emerge. Changes for the better may occur in all aspects of life, but especially in relationships which are deepening and becoming richer.

You are experiencing love therapy for your heart.

Faery blessings on the loving!

So perhaps it is about Morna. Perhaps it is about loving — loving myself? The best I can say about where I am with that is that I’ve overcome my antagonism with my body, and my body and “I” are currently on moderately friendly but distant terms. I try to take care of myself — but things like nurturing and sleep seem to come after everything else. Right now I’m doing a typical thing. I’m quite tired, having trouble staying awake, but at the same time, here I am trying to do an inner journey because it’s important to know why I don’t take better care of myself! Is this ridiculous or what?

I shall close the computer right now and sleep. And if I awaken during the night, I shall go back to sleep until morning. Then I shall think about this!

But I didn’t do that. Instead I went ahead on to the inner journey:

There is a small garden. I know that Spring lives there. She is waiting for me to come out of winter into her garden. Her other name is Aurealia. There is a prickly hedge around the garden — hawthorn or blackthorn. It has buds, but is not yet blooming. A cold wind blows across the back of my neck. I walk around the garden looking for a way in. No gate. Is it a magic word I need?

I say, “Please, may I come in?”

The hedge pulls apart in front of me, and I walk through. It rustles impatiently. “Thank you,” I say. It closes gently. My grandmother’s “magic words.” The fae love them too.

There is a winding path, edged by tall banks of flowers — hollyhocks, delphiniums, sunflowers, other tall ones I can’t think of the names of. Or don’t know them. I follow the path and from the turns begin to feel that I’m in a maze — not a maze, you can get lost in them. There are no choices to make here — this is a labyrinth instead. One path to the center. It’s a long way, a lot of walking. I’d like to sit and rest, but there is no place to sit down. I look behind me and the path has disappeared, the flowers drawing together. There is only one way to go.

I’m still walking. And thirsty. I don’t see how it can be so far — O, silly me. Of course it can be as far as it wants. Wait. A hollyhock whispers, “It is as far as you make it.” I stop again. My fingers are sticky. I touch one with my tongue to see why — it tastes like honey. Odd. I haven’t touched anything. “No,” a sunflower says, “but that doesn’t mean you haven’t been touched.”

I don’t know what to say to that. I lick the honey off my fingertips. It makes me more thirsty. I should quite like a glass of apple cider vinegar and water. Lots of water. Or cool tea with lemon. I just discovered I am wearing two pairs of glasses hanging on strings around my neck. Did I think that would help me find my way? My way is very plain. I remember that usually I ask an animal to come and guide me to whoever I’m going to meet, which may be Morna, the Faery Who Was Kissed by the Pixies. Or it might be Spring. Or they may be the same person.

I wonder if I need a guide on this one-way path? As I hesitate, an ostrich steps out of the bushes beside me. “Bother!” he says. “Bless my tail feathers — don’t touch them! Naturally you need a guide. That’s how you know where to go.”

I point out the one-way nature of the path. “Right!” says the ostrich. “Naturally it is one-way — all paths are! So how will you know when to get off the path without a guide? You’ve already gone too far.”

I stop. “Too far? Then why are we still walking? I’m tired and thirsty. Shouldn’t we go back?” I hurry to catch up with him; he’s going quite fast.

“Don’t be silly — it’s one-way. I thought we’d established that — and that all paths are one way. You can never really go back the same path — it is always changing.”

A philosophical ostrich yet!

He stops abruptly and I run into his tail feathers. “Eeeek!” he shrieks and jumps ahead. I didn’t know ostriches could jump that far. I apologize profusely. He grumbles and mutters to himself. “You tell them and tell them, but do they listen? NO! Now my tail feathers are probably crumpled. Botheration!”

“NOW!” he squawks, jumping sideways into the delphiniums.

Theflowers quickly part, obviously annoyed. “No, no,” the ostrich says. “Not my fault. She forgot to call me and missed the proper path, and now we must take a short-cut through here or we’ll wind up on the other side of the moon!”

The delphiniums hiss at me. I didn’t know flowers could do that, but why not? The ostrich and I take a few more steps and we’re suddenly in a small clearing — just big enough for a bench and a chair and a tall lady standing beside the chair, her lovely pale green skirts flaring out around her. I feel quite scruffy in my jeans and with sticky fingers. I hope she doesn’t offer to shake hands.

She has one hand up in front of her face. She is snickering and trying not to let me know it. I would like very much to sit down. I am quite tired and hot and puffed. But I stand there saying nothing, waiting for her to speak.

“Sit,” she commands, between giggles. “Sit. There is a glass of apple cider vinegar and honey and water behind the bench for you. Drink!”

Obediently, I sit and drink. Then I thank the ostrich for being such a good guide. He goes out the other side of the clearing, still muttering to himself.

“It seems like I have not made a very good start here,” I say with my head down and my hair hanging in front of my face.

“That’s all right,” she says. “You’ve made it to the end anyway.” She bops me on the head with a wand I hadn’t noticed before. I immediately go to sleep. I wonder if I’ll dream…


I woke up in my bed at home in the morning. I’d hoped I’d dream, but if I did I could not remember it. At the moment I have no idea what that was all about. Perhaps it will come to me later?

More than a year later, in the wee hours again!

I just read this again, and at last, I get it. That took a while. I have discovered just this moment that when I relax about diet and don’t do anything extreme or be critical, my weight goes slowly down. Also, it makes a difference to get as much sleep as I need, which is more than I think I want or should have.

Both of these things are a surprise — counter intuitive. The reason she bopped me over the head and put me to sleep a year ago was that she was trying to show me something, but I was too tired (and dim) to get it until now.

The reason I finally got it is that I weighed myself this morning and found five pounds gone since I checked a few days ago. And what have I been doing? Sleeping a lot. And eating things my body wants. Not stressing. Hmmmm. I wonder if I’ve finally got it? We’ll see. I’ve been feeling sleepy for a long while, but not letting myself sleep, even though the cats clearly think I’m silly. I guess I’ll go and try it. I’m grateful. Happy Thanksgiving!

Good night, dear hearts!

Songs & Marzipan


Did I tell you about Marzipan getting excited about me singing a couple of nights ago? No? My singing isn’t really anything to get excited about so her reaction was a surprise.

It was late and i was listening to music on Youtube to relax before I went to sleep, and I started singing along. It has been a long time since I just sang for no reason but it was a happy little song that lured me in.

Marzipan was in the sitting room, but she ran down the hall, and jumped up beside me as I kept on singing. She put her paw on my shoulder, pulled my head around to face her with her other paw, and peered into my mouth — first with one eye and then the other. Then she stuck her nose in my mouth a bit with her ears flat behind. She drew her head back and gave me little licky-kisses on the tip of my nose and the corners of my mouth, purring as loudly as a bandsaw all the while. I could hardly keep from bursting out laughing, but that seemed quite rude so I went on singing while she stuck her nose in my ear and whuffled.

She kept purring and making little prrrt and mrrrt chirps. Finally she sat down beside me and watched the people on screen singing too, and then we had a super-cuddle and went to sleep together.

She’s weird — in a good way, you know.

It was a little song by ABBA, I Have A Dream, that mentioned “wonders” and “fairy tales”, and Marzipan may have thought it was about her — or at least about the world she knows.

The part about all of this that bothers me is realizing that I haven’t sung for so long that she thought it was something strange and amazing — she acted like she had never heard anything like it before — and she just turned eight, I think. That’s a long time for not singing.

I used to sing a lot when there were no humans around — in the house and in the car. There were story songs that I made up as they went along, and there were songs in a language that no one speaks — or understands. I’ve almost always lived with cats and used to sing to them too, just because they were there. They listened sometimes, but they never got excited about it.

I don’t even remember stopping singing… it was certainly nothing intentional. I got sick and didn’t get well again. I suspect it’s an energy thing. Anyway, that may all be changing now.

© 2017 All rights reserved.

Waking Up, Coughing

I’ve got the Awfuls. It isn’t a cold, it’s a sore throat and maybe bronchitis. The lady at the clinic said it’s viral so antibiotics won’t help. She’s sure it isn’t pneumonia, which is a very good thing. She prescribed sugar-free popsicles and ice cream. They do help temporarily, and so do ice packs on my chest. But I wake up in the night coughing instead of breathing.

So at 3 AM, well after the eclipse, when I wakened trying to turn my lungs inside out, my first thought was what am I doing wrong to catch this? What did I do wrong to make myself so vulnerable? The question immediately billowed out much larger — Where did I go wrong in my life that bought me to this moment? Eclipses seem present questions like that.

From deep in my still half-dreaming mind, the answer immediately came: nothing! This was so shocking that I froze halfway out of bed and nearly fell over.

Nothing? I thought. How could the answer to such a huge question be — nothing at all? I’d thought I’d need a lot of soul searching and would wind up with a long list of answers — mistakes, misbehaviors, wrong decisions, weaknesses, maybe even wickedness. But how could it possibly be nothing? Nothing at all?

I got back into my bed and tried to think about it, but kept slamming into the same brick wall — nothing. Nothing at all. Period.

Finally my mind stopped spinning in the same tight circle enough to let another thought in. It kinda tiptoed as if afraid to startle me again. “What’s the matter with what and where you are?”

“I’m sick and I feel horrible.”

“So? It happens to everyone.”

“But, if we did everything right — right thoughts, right action, right contemplation, and all the rest — surely our bodies wouldn’t do things like this.”

“Yes, they would. You’re not immortal, you know.”

“Of course I know that!”

“Let’s suppose you’re here to learn things. What teaches you the most — the things that go ‘right’ or the things that go ‘wrong’?”

I don’t much like the obvious answer to that. But I also realize that regarding myself as a failure when something goes wrong may just be getting in my way of learning what O Universe is trying to teach me. And, no, I’m not anywhere near ultimately understanding that. But I’m again reminded that all of the ‘negative’ things we know we don’t want to do to others, are not helpful when we do them to ourselves. Peace and love travel in circles — it’s better not to stop them anywhere.

“O, and by the way, you could be taking a bit better care of yourself. It probably wouldn’t have stopped you from getting this — it’s quite a nasty virus. Think about what you’d do differently for someone else and try doing for yourself. “

Morning Forest

I keep looking for a way to describe this forest in the early morning — clearly, concisely, poetically — because the forest is like a poem, rich and enchanting. But it constantly changes, and it’s very difficult to wrap words around something that is continually rebirthing. While I’m writing a word, the forest keeps evolving, needing other words instead.

The light is, of course, everchanging. There are no city lights here to make a continual glow — even the street lights are so distant I can’t see them. The birds know when morning is coming long before I do. They sing their chorus of many lightsome songs to greet it. This forest is part of a long migratory route with birds and butterflies and goddess only knows who else passing through at times of their own choices. The dawn confabulation changes with them. Three days ago there was a mountain blue jay outside my window — black crest above a brilliant blue feathers, brighter blue than the sky or ocean. I hadn’t seen him before nor have I since.

Marzipan, the tiny ginger cat, sits on the window ledge, wide-eyed every dawning. We watch together as trees begin to appear out of the dark shadows, but it will be a long time before the sun sends long, searching fingers in to light up the sides of a few trees while the rest remain shadowed. The sun may not get through for hours. It may not come through at all if the day stays cloudy.

Although I can’t see it happening, there is as much growing and stirring underneath the ground as there is above it. If I go outside and quietly stand barefoot, the life below is quite apparent. And there are liminal voices, like the voices in the trees and bushes, that are whispering just at the far edge of hearing. Even human feet can know they are standing on the threshold of… something. Fascinating things are always going on below, beside, and above us.

One day when life was seeming especially difficult, I asked the trees for help in staying calm and perhaps even balanced. It was a quiet day, and it seemed that they might be willing to share that stillness and silence. Standing there I became aware, that I was resting on a net of energy — roots, fungus, mycelium and things I couldn’t name — were creating a supportive, solid web and accepting me as part of the forest. The same net was woven between the trees and bushes, even the tiny mushrooms and flowers. It extended up to the tops of the trees, where it covered all of us. Protected. Safe. Sheltered. It was a most breathtakingly wondrous sensation to be held in the arms of Mother Nature.

I can connect with that same feeling anytime, any place, if I just remember to keep being who I am — a part of the forest.

I thought I was finished writing this, as much as I could be, but Marzipan just got excited, ran to the window, and started chirping in her own little purry voice. I looked out past her, and the mountain blue jay is back. We are both curious — what is it doing here besides eating suet? We’re down close to the ocean, though we can’t quite see the water. We’re certainly not in the mountains. O, I’d forgotten but I’m being reminded — so many feet of altitude equals so many miles northward in climate — I forget the ratio. Perhaps it is reasonable then to find mountain blue jays here in the Northwest at a low altitude. I grew up in the South where they are only high in the mountains.

Well, that’s one mystery solved. Millions of them remain.

© Copyright 2017 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved

I’m So Very Lucky


Gladhval with Mist on the Water
Early Morning, Scotland, 1969

Lucky. Fortunate. Blest.

I just read a blog by Vivienne Tuffnell on The Loss of Our Youthful Dreams, which was very thought-provoking. It made me try to remember what my own early goals and ambitions were and how they had all worked out. At first, it seemed just jumble of random things happening, of starting and not finishing, with a lot of wandering around doing things that seemed sometimes surprising but often irrelevant to anything important.

The earliest plan I had for my life, at the age of two, was wanting to be “a gran’ma and a doctor.” The reason I remember this is that everyone thought it was such a strange notion — in those days it was expected that little girls all wanted to be a mommy. People liked to remind me of this and laugh all the way into my teens. I’ll come back to this later.

Sometime in primary school, I felt I also wanted to be a poet (who illustrated her own poems) and to have six children and to be a doctor. Sometime in high school, I was clear that I wanted to write and illustrate children’s books — and I wanted to be a doctor, but was beginning to worry about the medical bit. I had realized that what doctors actually did wasn’t really what I wanted to do. So I thought about nursing… and a week in the hospital showed me that this wasn’t it either. Also in high school, I accidentally became convinced that I’d never be a “good enough” artist and that the kind of books I’d liked weren’t really proper children’s books at all. So the children’s books were out too.

By the time I became a freshman in college, it seemed like being a psychologist might be the right thing, so I took classes in the subject. Back then, sixty years ago, psychology was all about behaviorism and Skinner boxes and nothing to do (it seemed to me) with real people. As for consciousness — there was No. Such. Thing.

At the end of my second year in college, I threw it all up in the air, got married, moved onto a boat, got shipwrecked, had a baby, bought a bigger boat with my husband, repaired, painted, and polished it up and sold it, and we went off to Great Britain to buy a sailing boat to go cruising. Around the world, perhaps. We didn’t find the boat we wanted in Wales, England, or Scotland so we boarded a ferry to Norway. In Oslo, we found exactly what we wanted. Almost. The entire first third of it was rotten so we decided to become serious boat builders in the west of Norway for several years. As we headed toward Romsdalen, we grounded our Gladhval in calm water and had our first relatively gentle but alarming taste of being nearly shipwrecked. In Romsdalen, we worked hard doing the heavy labor of boat building for a few years. When we reached a point where the hull was sound and tight, we launched her and headed south to Stavanger. On the way we had another near-shipwreck on Christmas Eve. There are Norwegians who are really kind and helpful. In Stavanger we spent an icy winter and then we sailed to Scotland, with major engine problems on the way, and worked on the boat some more. In Scotland, we were once again we were grounded and almost wrecked, following which we were caught in a hurricane and rescued by the Royal Navy. Scots are kind and helpful too.

This sounds silly, but after several years in Scotland, we realized that we needed to go back to Norway because many of the building materials we still needed were more readily available there. So, we tacked bits canvas over the most open places in the deck, and headed back to Norway in November during the equinoctial storm. Rough trip, but we made it. Arrived inside the skerries to find it so calm in the fjord that every star was reflected in the water. This seemed a good omen. In fact, just arriving at all seemed a very good omen!

We were going north, perhaps back to the original boatyard — I don’t remember now. Nearly got shipwrecked again — this time in very rough, scary waters with big rocks sticking up out of them. So we turned around and headed south toward Bergen. I’m not sure of our exact itinerary throughout these years, but I do remember the various groundings and near shipwrecks very well — along with the bright sparkling wave on sunny days, the astoundingly bright stars on clear nights, and even occasional auroras. We survived and made it back to Bergen, where I decided I really wanted to go back to Scotland (heart’s home). My son, Jon, and I left. Jeff, my ex-husband, still has Gladhval. I missed out on the eventual trip to the Caribbean, but I didn’t really mind that.

Then there were the years in Scotland where I applied my boat-building and painting skills to interior and exterior house painting and decorating. Then another wedding, this time to a “mad Scot” — Neil — and a new career in antiques and antiquarian books. First, we sold them in flea markets, then we exported them to Canada, and then we moved and imported Scottish things to California. All of these years, from the time I left school, may have seemed like a total distraction, but I learned some very useful things:

1) I was a lot stronger than I had thought. I endured. Yes, I even persisted.
2) I could learn to do almost anything if I was patient and willing to study and practice for as long as it took.
3) While I wasn’t particularly paying attention, I was growing up, accumulating a lot of life experience, and becoming myself. I discovered that I could make changes, could learn new things, however unlikely, and could take risks and survive.
4) That when you got in trouble, if you asked for help you often got it. Most people were naturally kind and helpful.
5) I was older and perhaps a bit wiser and certainly a lot more adaptable. People sometimes realized that I knew things.

These were important qualifications for my Real Career, which was not really antiques and old books.

I went back to college part time — psychology, as a study, had radically changed. Jung! Rogers! Real people issues! Um… even a parapsychology class where I met people who taught me tarot (outside of class) and was introduced to many things I could see were important and valid. Exciting! Maybe I could be a counselor or something. Someone took me to a Spiritualist church, and one of the mediums told me I was a healer. I knew that — had known since I was two — but didn’t everyone always do healing? Turned out that they didn’t. How amazing! So, in my kitchen, I showed a couple of neighbors how to do basic hands-on healing. The two became six, the next time around. Teaching teaches us faster. The friend who had taught me to read tarot moved away and sent all her clients to me, so I did readings and teaching in the back of our antique store.

In my early forties, I was standing in field under a full moon performing a wedding ceremony for a hopeful young couple. In the middle of this, I suddenly realized that “a grandmother and a doctor” really meant a “wise woman and a healer” and what I was doing at that moment was exactly a part of that. I thought that was all finally settled, but it wasn’t.

Eileen, a massage therapist and healer from London was travelling through San Diego. In a grocery store, she asked the clerk if she knew of a good psychic reader. The clerk didn’t, but the customer behind Eileen said, “I know just the right person!” and gave her my phone number. After her session, Eileen asked, “Would you be interested in coming to London and Cornwall to teach and do readings?”

Would I?

Eileen went back home and made arrangements. I bought tickets and went for six weeks — time to teach enough to pay for my tickets. And then I went home, having arranged for me to come back in three months. That was the beginning of my tick-tock travels over the Atlantic. People started wanting me to do classes and reading in other places, and finally in Bath on Beltaine, someone asked what it would take to get me to actually move there. I muttered that I was thinking about moving back to Scotland. But they said, “Bath!” and repeated their question. It was about three in the morning after our celebrations and I was heading back to San Diego the next day. I mumbled that I supposed I’d need somewhere to live and somewhere to teach. I was to come back anyway (tick-tock) around Midsummer. They said they would have places waiting for me to live and work. And they did, so I stayed and tock-ticked in the other direction after that. And started travelling once in a while up to Scotland, just because I loved it.

And about that time, a student showed a publisher friend of hers the notes that I gave to the class and told him that he should get me to write a book on meditation. He did, I did — Moon Over Water — and then I did a second on imagery and inner journeys, Sun Over Mountain.

Then I reversed that situation as well, moving back Scotland, traveling to England and Cornwall — and to California. Scotland is my own magical homeland. I thought I was settled forever. I liked traveling and my cats didn’t mind it too much. We even went camping together. Then I got sick.

Nearly died of pneumonia; couldn’t go back to work for months. I began to feel as if I’d never be really well again. Every doctor and every healer I knew told me that staying in the good Scottish rain would kill me the next winter. That was August, and by December I was beginning to see that they were right. On the 12th of December the cats and I traveled — Arrochar to London to Los Angeles to the desert of Borrego Springs.

As it happened, I didn’t do well in the desert — seemed like I was going to dry, crack, and crumble into dust. All those years in rainy, cold countries hadn’t made me ready for this. The cats and I moved up into the mountains, where there was a bit more water in the air. From there, I drove to San Diego once in a while to teach. Unfortunately, even occasional teaching was too much. Couldn’t teach, couldn’t do healing or counseling; made myself sick again every time I tried. Wasn’t getting much better — in fact all of my energy seemed to be needed just to stop getting worse. It felt like my path had gone over a cliff and me with it.

Just about then, on my 60th birthday, Brian Froud asked me to write the book for the Faeries’ Oracle. I could do that — stay home, write some every day, and rest as needed. This was my third book, and it sold much more than I expected. It took a while, but when the “advance” finally came, I moved to Washington State, bought a bit of forest, and my wild son gradually built a home for me on it. I still wasn’t settled, though I had hoped I was. But after some to-ing and fro-ing, I may be settled now in the middle of three acres of forest with a nearby super-neighbor and caregivers, near Port Townsend. Port Townsend is filled with artists and writers, sculptors and photographers, yoga teachers, tarot readers, craftspeople — witches and elves and gnomes commonly walk the streets. At 79 I rather hope to be settled just where I am — it feels like home. And I can write what I most want to — which tonight is this blog.

What else am I writing? Another oracle for starters. And a book (or five) about tufted faery cats and humna — half human, half faery people. I’ve even found a way to do the illustrations — with help.

Is it for children? Well, yes — and for their parents. And teen-agers and grandparents. And people trying to find a way to live together in a world where so many of us have become strangers and refugees. I’ve gotten ambitious, you see. So I may have accidentally (if you believe in accidents) become a wise woman in a forest, a grandmother, and a writer-illustrator-poet for children and others.

It now appears that all of this time I’ve been working back and forth through my ambitions, often without even realizing that they were ambitions instead of happenstance. I may get there yet. I’m also taking classes in writing — you always need to be trying to get better at things or they get boring. And I keep thinking about teaching a class in using the tarot to help write a book or story. You know, plots and character development are a lot like reality — if you believe in reality.

Tonight I just happened onto a video about someone doing his own version of one of the things I used to do in Scotland. I’d love to go make that trip, if it were possible. Who knows what may yet happen or what paths might open? (I was going to link to it here, but lost it. If I find it again, I’ll put it in the comments.

Tell me, please, what did you want to be when you grew up? And where do you think you might be on the path to getting there?

Magical Writing

As you probably know, I’m writing a storybook (or several) about magic and faery and cats and things like that. But the thing about a sometime-healer writing about magic is that one already knows that magic is real. So the question arises:

How do you write about magic that is natural and real and potent when fictional magic is usually so much more flashy and… um… misleading?

Having Marzipan’s story pushing at the back of my eyes I knew I’d have to try — and, as is quite common with magic, once a person sets an intention or asks a question, the magic itself immediately starts trying to teach us. It uses magical means, of course, but an untrained observer might call them co-incidence or synchronicity or even (and this is less likely to be said) a chronosynclastic infundibulum. Whatever.

Magical Realism

The Writers’ Workshoppe decided (at just the right time) to offer a class in writing “magical realism”. One important thing I learned at the class was that you could offer some outrageous magic if it was firmly embedded in a lot of detailed reality. You just have to slide the magic and “fantasy” in between the realism with enough down-to-earth detail that it goes almost unnoticed — and the next bit of fantasy can be even more magical and it too will just slide right into the mind without jarring it too much. Do you know why that is?

It’s because humans (and sometimes others) participate in magic all the time, and we’re accustomed to just letting it slide by without notice. In fact, we pretend to ourselves that it either didn’t happen or it happened some other way. So we don’t notice how it sneaks up on us in reality or in a story — embedded in detail and factual information. (This part and the following is my own experience — not the class.)

Think about it: you remember that you want to phone a friend that you haven’t talked to in quite a while. A few minutes later, the friend phones you. Coincidence. Yes. Sure. It can’t be telepathy because telepathy isn’t real. So this is the fantasy we mostly live in — the belief that magic is not real. We’re habituated to that fantasy and we find all sorts of excuses to convince ourselves that telepathy doesn’t happen. We invent words to cover it up — words like coincidence, lucky break, fortuity, synchronicity, and other words of that ilk. It can’t be magic, not our own innate magic. It’s just the way the cookie accidentally crumbles. No?

So in your magical story you begin the shift with small details, like perhaps a yellow flower slowly turning red as a character watches, and you don’t make a big drama with exclamation points and amazed expressions about it. You just move smoothly right on by. A little later you slip another detail in. It’s not important enough to stop and think too much about about it. The reader just accepts it… and moves on. This is preparing the ground of the unconscious, imagining mind — the dreamer, the mystic, the magician — to accept the seeds carelessly dropped and accept them again later on when they sprout and blossom vividly.

Magic isn’t something you turn on and off. Your awareness of it may be awake or asleep, but dreaming or storytelling or being the story, the magic is what holds it together. But they (I’m writing about faery magic, remember, and natural magic as well) had a lot more to teach me than just how to sneak up on magic.


Things need to make sense — even in magic. Logic is important. Take the “humna” (half faery and half human) in Marzipan’s stories. Faery, as we know (!) exists and vibrates at a different and higher frequency than we do, just like ultra-violet light shines at a frequency that we don’t normally see — our eyes are not built for it. We also know that there is a thing called “entrainment” that happens naturally. If you take two fine crystal glasses and set them beside each other and then gently strike one so it begins ringing, soon the other one is ringing as well. The second glass is entrained with the first because the first is active and the second was passive. (This also happens in the chakra system, but we’ll talk about the results of that another time, if I remember to do it.)

So faery vibrates at a faster (higher) frequency than we humans do. If we spend time with them in the natural world, our vibration becomes higher as well — and it gradually changes our DNA so that we become more faery ourselves. This is just natural magic. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Logical. Plausible. It especially makes sense if you consider the Japanese notion of “forest bathing” that suggest that we feel much more relaxed and healthy if we spend peaceful time in a forest. Trees. Dryads. Think about it. (Here’s another thing to write about later — the modern thing in some ethically and scientifically advanced cities is to build apartments with gardens on the roof and in large balconies — what would that do to the people who live in them?) There is much to consider on this topic, including scientific studies that show that hyperactive children who spend some time in parks or natural place become calmer and cope with life better.

The Writer’s Medicine Bag

Another useful concept about writing that I came across recently was about medicine bags and the power objects in them. (I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten where I read this — it may have been in a story or perhaps from Michael Meade.) Every medicine bag contains power objects, and together the objects contain more potency than each one alone. It’s about the way they blend together and reinforce each other. As a writer, consider this: how is your story or thesis or novel a medicine bag with the power to transform, to do magic with the reader? How is each character a power object within that collective whole? If you think of them as a tribe — who serves which function in the society? How do they work together to get where they want to go? Is there any power object in the bag that conflicts with the overall goal? Can the power objects (people, places, things, ideas) find a resolution to any conflicts they have? And how do the power objects themselves transform as they create transformation around them?

These questions have to be answered — at least in our own minds if not in the story. The author actually needs to understand what’s going on even if the characters are mystified.

Image. I, mage.

Transformation is vital. The other day a few people and I had a short discussion about what makes Sir Terry Pratchett’s books so awesome — and I don’t use that word lightly. To me, it’s all about transformation. The characters in the stories (mostly) grow.

This made me think a lot about what a “better person” is and why it’s important to be one — and a TON of stuff about writing and a writer’s responsibility to the rest of the world, especially when things are such a mess as they are now. Part of Sir Terry Pratchett’s brilliance is that he showed us a path without ever “teaching” or “preaching” but by a sort of osmosis. I suspect he hoped we’d be smart enough to figure it out for ourselves, which is really the only way to truly learn something.

What is the Path that we, as writers, are showing? Do we know? Are we, as ordinary magical people following it ourselves? If not, if we aren’t constantly testing it, how can we expect others to believe in or understand it? How will the story make sense without magical logic? And I suspect that this may be what is at the core of “magical realism” — what do you think about it?