Archive for November 2016

grief   5 comments



there we are, 1989, i think. my first dizzy heart-pounding summer of being something i’d wanted to be my whole life- a horse owner. i couldn’t afford riding britches or boots, or riding gloves. my hat is borrowed (please note the lack of chin strap, so it was a useless gesture anyway). my nice saddle, a bates all-purpose, will outlive me. david built a deck to buy me that saddle. it still rests dusty in my tack trunk, and cost more than my beautiful purebred off-the-track thoroughbred, whom i purchased for $345 on a terrible cold december night. i put her on my mastercard.

such a stupid thing to do. a young broke family with a 2 year old kid. even if she’d been a push-button packer it would have been a stupid thing to do. horses are EXPENSIVE. even if your bestie is a trainer, and helps you at the self-care barn where you board (cheaply) and you spend your afternoons off canvassing sawmills for their shavings, and ride in old jeans and battered hiking boots using borrowed bridles and get all your lessons for free.

and especially when you’re a greenie, and so is your horse, with the added bonus of being a hotblood whose only reaction to anything is to run. she wasn’t a fun ride, or an easy ride, or an easy keeper. she ran in circles in her stall, bounced back and forth in the cross ties when being groomed, never once in her entire life stood quietly to be mounted, leapt about when being tacked up, spooked at twigs and wind and nothing, and scared me half to death. interestingly, although i wasn’t then a very good rider (and am only a better one now from years of riding her), she never got me off. not once, in all those years. she tossed poor david before he’d been on 2 minutes, the one and only time he rode her. she broke TWO girls’ arms. she terrified me, infuriated me, reduced me to tears, incited me to screaming fits. but somehow i always stuck to her back.

she was a beauty, and although she was a failure as a racehorse and the worst possible pick for first horse, she was athletic and had talent. a good rider could have made a nice upper level dressage horse of her, not olympic quality but she’d have done a good third level, and maybe fourth. or been a solid mid-level eventer, which is what i bought her to do. the fact that we never got past training level and local fun shows is due to our not being able to afford a trailer, and my own shortcomings as a rider. a few big names rode her from time to time and liked her, although you could see the doubt in their faces over her ownership.

one farrier said to me, after watching me have a miserable ride and get off sweating and furious, ‘what the hell is wrong with you? there are hundreds of really nice horses right in this area, good affordable fun horses who would LOVE to have you for a mother. why do you stick with this thing?’

i had no answer then, and still don’t. keeping that horse was illogical from every conceivable angle. my kids went without cool clothes, my family went without nice vacations, i worked 3 jobs and cleaned stalls to mitigate her board bills. i remember running the manure spreader one frigid january night at 1 in the morning, sobbing from exhaustion, still with 5 more stalls to clean before i could go home, and get up at 6  to get the boys off to school. insanity.

but whenever i had a free hour i snuck off the barn and rode.

and riding a firebrand, even if you’re not a talented rider, eventually makes you a reasonably competent one. i was talking ponies with my older son the other day, wishing i could have bought him a nice pony like pepper, on whom he won a bunch of ribbons. he shrugged and said that having learned to ride nik, he knew he could ride anybody. it’s a confidence i now have too, even though i haven’t ridden for years.

i remember a windy day on a hill at charleen jones’s barn, where i kept her for several years, having a lesson with liz. nik was tense, high-headed, hollow-backed and trying to run off every single stride. i had the reins cranked back to about 6 inches long and was barely letting her take a step, and we were SO frustrated with each other. liz kept telling me to soften up my hands, to keep the reins short if i needed to but to let her step out, i kept arguing that she would disappear over the horizon with me wailing and gnashing my teeth. poor liz finally said, ‘if you’re moving i can fix you. i can’t do anything while you’re standing still.’ i softened my elbows, my mare dropped into my hands, her back lifted, and magic happened.

dickie davis, another farrier, did her feet when we were at charleen’s. she has a really nice barn, wash rack with hot and cold water, and three grooming stalls. after dickie finished nik’s feet one day i moved her over so he could work on somebody else, and i went to town. curry comb, dandy brush, body brush, polishing towel, mane and tail, hoof oil, and finally baby wipes to clean out her eyes, nostrils and under her tail. dickie looked at me in wonder as i polished and primped, cooed and caressed, fussed and finessed, finally shaking his head and proclaiming, ‘when i die, i want to come back as a woman’s horse.’

i never get tired of looking at her, even now. she’s had a rough summer, coming out of winter all bones and baldness. i finally found a supplement that put some weight back on her, and discovered that a guinness stout poured over her senior feed makes her clean it right up. she’s actually got a little shine to her now, a touch of muscle tone.

but boy howdy, in her heyday that mare was a stunner. she had the look of eagles. she’s still got it. neurotic, psychotic, nervous, high-strung, silly, paranoid, she is all of those things. but there is a fire in her that will never be quenched, not even when she goes softly into the orchard grass in a couple of weeks. she is going to be a hell of an addition to Hekate’s train.

we’re in the period of lasts. her last samhain. not that she cared, but you know? maybe she did. the last two samhains have been full of horses, and i’m pretty sure all the animals on the farm are aware of the teeming spirits. my grandmother’s horse, big red, seemed to assure me that he’ll be there for her when the time comes. red, the first chestnut i fell passionately in love with.

the gorgeous supermoon just passed. her last one. we talked about it, she and i. she’s enjoying these last weeks, and she likes that it’s a mild autumn, and that she can move about in the moonlight without being cold and miserable. she can’t eat much hay now, she’s missing too many teeth, but she likes to stand with jasmine while jazzie munches. especially on jasmine’s blind side. sometimes she makes awful faces at her, knowing she can’t be seen. jasmine’s the boss, and would never tolerate that if she had any idea.

i bought the last bag of senior feed she’ll ever need this week. the next case of guinness i buy will be the last one. i’m not being maudlin. i’m not torturing myself. i’m not pre-mourning her. she’s out in the barn while i write this, the look of eagles burning in her huge purple eyes, and while she’s here with me there’s nothing to mourn.

but sometimes it hits me.

i’m writing this now because she is still here. sometimes i cry, but usually i don’t. i’m enjoying this time with her. today we did a spa day. i laid warm damp cloths on her old bald crusty face, loosening up the crud, over and over until i could scrub it gently with cetaphil and get it mostly clean. she’s been super crabby lately about having her face done, but today she was sweet and compliant, leaning her head into my chest while i worked on her. i got david’s x-acto knife and got some jagged bits carved off her back feet, which she hasn’t been able to pick up for the farrier for the last few months. combed out her mane and tail, snipped a clean bridle path, did under her belly which made her pin her ears and grouch at me. we still grouch at each other. it’s what we do. when we were young girls we would scream and swear and hit each other with our purses, then make up and go to the mall. now we grouch a little, then move on.

jazzie was jealous. i promised her that i’ll fuss over her a lot after nik goes, but for now i’m focusing on the old lady. she accepts it, but she’s annoyed. i don’t blame her.

i’ve been with nik for 28 years.  she’s been part of the experience of living on this farm for the last 16. we BOUGHT this farm for her, so that we could have her at home and not board her any more. i’ve never looked out my windows and not known she was there even if she wasn’t in view. i can’t imagine her not being here. i make myself not try to. it’ll be here soon enough, and i don’t believe you can practice these things. there’s no way to make it better. all i can do is not dwell on it now. to be happy that tonight, under a lovely waning moon, on a mild late autumn night, there’s an old red mare in my barn.

but it’s hard not to get a little shaky sometimes.

it’s all arranged, so i don’t have to think about it until the day. and the day will be a good, good day. there will be treats, and grooming, and loving, but not so much that it makes her anxious. it will be another day, until she and jazzie come out to the orchard and the vet comes. and she’s ready. my girl is having a good month, but even a little extra weight and mild weather won’t make her old arthritic hocks and hips stop hurting. blankets and hoods can only do so much in the bitter cold, when an old girl has no hair whatsoever, and no body fat.

she’s going well. my beloved april died a terrible death. bo went gently, but only after a year of lots of bad times. it’s not going to be that way for my dream horse, my first horse, my best horse. she’s tired, and she’s going to make the great leap before it becomes unbearable for her.

i’m not sad for her. she’s ready, and it’s going to be wild and magnificent for her. i’m only sad for me.


Posted November 17, 2016 by suzmuse in Uncategorized

Mage Up!   Leave a comment

Hey! I’m going to do something really different and post on the doleful day after the election from another multiverse!

But others are saying all the important emotional and logical and political things that need to be said, and better than I could. So I’m just going to stick in one quiet geeky oar from the woo-woo end of the spectrum (all those bored or offended by my woo stuff should move on right about now) and point out that it was the Poseidon day of Maimaikterion.

I know, right?

I mean, I’ve honored Zeus Maimakteros (the Blustering) , primarily as a primal seasonal force but also as Bringer of Law, election yada yada. And on election I dutifully cleaned the Poseidon shrine, focused on him and Amphitrite but mostly in connection with a writing project. It wasn’t until I woke to the horror that I put together Poseidon- God of the sea, keeper of the soul memory, the deeply subconscious movement, the leviathan below, with the Loud-Roaring Winds of the coriolis storm that razes all in its path. Earthquakes and killer winds- Tower card time, the time of violent change not under one’s personal control.

I didn’t watch the election news after a brief check in which made me want to throttle Wolf Blitzer, then turned the TV off. I had some magecraft to do- create an elemental to perform a specific task related to said writing project. The last one I created dissipated a few weeks back, but was the most successful one to date, so the bar is set high for this one.  The ritual felt particularly powerful and successful, so I happily tuned out the election and enjoyed my evening. After all, I was confident Hillary was going to win in a landslide, so the increasingly worried texts from my brothers didn’t faze me too much. When I went to bed Trump was ahead and it looked eeky, but I was still pretty sure she’d pull it out.

Spent the morning in shock, grieving with Facefriends, then shut it all down and spent the afternoon cleansing, purifying, protecting, grounding. Exactly what I  needed.

I didn’t do any political magic this time around. I don’t think I have since…, maybe Bush/Cheney? I have my doubts about the efficacy of political magic because Reasons. Am not going to start now either.

But it’s time to step back from social media, and go deep. The time of year, the increasing pressure from guides, the true grief of this election outcome all indicate the need for some more silent time. I work and have a family and stuff, so it’s not like I ever go total monastic, but I can for sure fit in a lot more time for listening and writing, and it feels very important to do that right now for a variety of reasons.

I’ll still be around, but less so, not that I’ve exactly set the blogosphere on fire lately.

Hopefully I’ll be able to articulate it in a blog post on the far side. I’ve never really been able to formulate anything coherent from the noisy, exciting, alarming early autumn stuff. My notes will have to suffice for posterity.

I’ve recently noticed how many notes I’ve got. I’m going to have to organize and probably get rid of a ton of stuff. Herb correspondence tables and gardening spells from my early Neo-Wicca days don’t need to sit around in folders any more, and I need to be able to lay my hands more easily on the few but important notes.

Now I’m rambling.

President Donald Trump.

I mean…….who’da thunk it?




Posted November 10, 2016 by suzmuse in Uncategorized