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The Six Most Valuable Lessons I've Learned on My Path as a Witch
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NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
The Spirituality of Winston
Article ID: 8741
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 3,952
Times Read: 7,345
Author: RuneWolf [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: October 3rd. 2004
Times Viewed: 7,345
Winston is my familiar.
I just offered him the job today, and he appears to have accepted the position. If nothing else, he has responded to the offer as he seems to respond to all the opportunities that life presents him: "Sure!!!"
Winston is one of three dogs that share this domicile with my wife and I. Winston and I have been housemates for a while, actually, but it was only today that I made the decision to ask him to be my familiar. I have been unemployed recently, but the circumstances have been such that I have been able to enjoy this time, rather than sweating and worrying about paying bills, and where the next job was coming from. As a result, I have been able to get to know Winston quite a bit better, and to realize how much I can learn from this little bundle of energy, joy and love. Winston is one of the most loving, joyous, loving, active, loving, curious, loving, intense and - did I mention? - loving beings that it has ever been my pleasure to know. He is the Inner Child of Yoda, wrapped up in fluffy white fur.
Now, don't get me wrong - I love all our dogs. But not all of them are suited to the arduous duties of being my familiar and spiritual mentor.
Macha is 145 pounds of phlegmatic composure, a St. Bernard who can't help but look dignified and profound, even when she is waiting for a treat. (Macha never begs, mind you. She always waits patiently for everything - meals, treats, a spot on the couch - like the Lady that she is.) Macha is the canine equivalent of Treebeard, and is never hasty about anything. She even appears to put great consideration into whether or not she should bark at the mailman...and then goes ahead and barks. She "meditates" constantly. Sure, some of the time she is just sleeping, but I know she goes on long and convoluted Astral journeys, because her legs twitch and churn when she is deep in meditation, her physical body trying to echo her Astral movements as she runs through the Meadows of Elfhame. She is imperturbable, as slow to anger as a tree, wise and deep and constant. She is the Mage, the Monk, the Philosopher. She is Earth.
Abigail (affectionately known as Crabby Abby, or just Crabigail) has (ahem!) issues. And who can blame her? Before we rescued her (all our dogs are rescues, by the way...) she was a breeder in a puppy-mill. This poor little neurotic thing spent the first three years of her life in a cage, dropping litter after litter of puppies that were torn away from her way too early. Because of this, she has very deep, conflicted, unresolved mothering issues, and she does her best to work these out with Macha and Winston. Almost every night, she spends time grooming the faces of the other dogs - whether they want the attention or not - and at a little over 30 pounds - only a fifth of Macha's weight - she is the undisputed Alpha of the pack. Sure, she has a lot of work to do on her interpersonal skills, but she's a lot better than she used to be. And for all her temper, you can tell when she looks up at you with those sad, sad brown eyes, that all she really wants is to be loved. (And maybe a cookie.) There's a lot going on in that turbulent little whirlpool that isn't always apparent at first. She is the Mother, the Crone, the Priestess of our little canine coven. She is Water.
Winston, on the other hand, is all about FIRE! He is the warmth of unconditional love, the searchlight of endless, insatiable curiosity, and the wildfire of life being lived for the sake of living. In these past few weeks, I have noticed that Winston takes life very seriously. Not solemnly, mind you - I don't think Winston has a solemn bone in his body. But for Winston, living is serious business. It is a True Calling, and Winston throws himself into his work with an intensity that leaves me frankly chagrined at the apathy that I demonstrate by comparison. Winston is fully immersed in every moment, totally committed to whatever he is doing in that instant, with no thought to the next. Sure, he can easily switch to something else - he does it 99 times an hour or more. "But isn't that the nature of life?" Winston asks. Life is not static - it is constantly moving, shifting, changing, evolving, altering, reconfiguring. Stasis is a human fallacy, and truly evolved and enlightened spiritual beings - like Winston - intuitively realize this. Like Fire, Winston is rarely at rest, leaping joyously from one thing to another, crisscrossing, zigzagging, spinning and jumping.
Even when he sleeps, he does it with his whole heart and the kind of focused intent that Witches spend their entire lives trying to develop. Is it any wonder that we turn to our closest animal companions for familiars? Those beings who are so completely a part of the Tao that they never have to work to be At One. They just are, all the time and authentically.
The Inquistion believed that familiars were sent by the infernal powers to depart dark knowledge to Witches and Warlocks. I don't know about all that, but I do know that Winston has been sent by the Stag-Horned Lord to impart knowledge to this Warlock. Winston is a living, bouncing, unstoppable example of the Pyramid: Winston Knows what his job is - Life - and his Will is to wake and hurl himself into his job full-throttle every day. He Dares everything: every new scent, every old scent, every rustling leaf, every nook and cranny no matter how well-known, every squirrel that zooms by - everything! He pursues it all with a complete and total absence of fear. Oh, he knows his social limits - though he flouts them constantly - and he knows there are things out there that can hurt him. He does exercise a modicum of common sense and self-protection, but he doesn't let those things petrify into fear.
And he knows when to Keep Silent, when it is time to throw himself wholeheartedly into another delicious nap!
Winston is the Warrior, although a Gentle Warrior, to be sure. I don't know what he would do with one of those squirrels he chases so diligently and endlessly, if he actually caught it, but I can't imagine he would hurt it intentionally. I rather think he would just say, "Tag - you're it!" and race off in the opposite direction. He is also the Guardian. Abby may rule the roost, but it's Winston's job to protect it, and he takes that duty just as seriously as all his others. Sitting on the patio, puffing on my pipe and watching him at work, I marvel at the complexity of his routine: Run the perimeter fence, then check out the gates. Duck back through the dog-door to make sure everything inside is ship-shape. ("Everything okay in here, Abby? Okay, I'll be back!") Out the dog-door and in amongst the bushes, never mind that he's reconnoitered them all countless times. A quick dash after a marauding squirrel, then off to the back fence to give what-for to the dogs across the easement. Sure, they're there every day, but who knows what they could be plotting today? Then around the perimeter again, and the whole cycle starts over, with endless minor variations: side trips, toy time, delivery trucks that just have to be barked at. Multi-tasking? Shoot...Winston invented the term.
And with all this to do, he never fails to take the time to zoom up to me, and stand there with eyes bright and tongue lolling, asking, "Why are you just sitting there? There is so much to do!" And I laugh, and he's off again.
Child of the Lord and Lady I may be, but in the Priesthood department, I'm a piker compared to Winston. If all acts of love and pleasure are the rituals of the Goddess, then Winston is in Circle, at the Altar of Life, twenty-four/seven. When I find myself bogged down with the Eternal Questions, mired in too much "profound contemplation," buried in the next Craft book, trying to write just the right ritual or desperately trying to open my heart and spirit to the love of the Lady and the Lord, Winston comes sliding into home plate and says, "Oh, for the Lady's sake man - just DO IT!"
Nike ought to be paying him royalties.
Location: Reston, Virginia
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