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Great minds discuss ideas,
Average minds, events.
Small minds, people.

Who I am

To know who I am, you must know from whom I come. I come from a passionate people. I am the daughter of a Welsh, Buddhist, Air Force Captain, father and an Irish Pagan/Catholic, Journalist/Writer mother. He was a farmer, racecar driver, boxer, pilot, officer and a gentleman, World War II veteran, who became a bank/business manager upon retiring 22 years in the service of his country. She was a singer, dancer, adventuress writer/philosopher who had gypsy tastes, a pagan heart and was “every inch a lady.” I was raised with a step brother and sister in a household filled with charming, intellectual, artistic, philosophical, musical people, who loved nature, dancing, singing, laughing, story telling and now and then – a good fight. My Episcopalian godmother, Leigh, was a descendant of President James Monroe and was a freelance writer of radio plays in the 40s; my Jewish godfather, George, was a lawyer and a judge. My "uncles" were extraordinary icons of men who called themselves father, farmer, mechanic, sailor, soldier, pilot, artist, historian, horse racing authority chairman, trainman, musician and gardener. My "aunts" were extraordinary examples of women who called themselves aristocratic, beauty queen, elementary school teacher, mother, Rosicrucian, nurse, world traveler, the senator’s personal assistant, philosopher and mystic. I had three sets of “aunts & uncles” who considered themselves true lovers. I had hard working, salt-of-the-earth relatives, as well as high society, inner circle relatives - and everyone liked everyone else.

We traveled while my father was in the Air Force and to a degree, I am the product of the car-culture of the 50s. Dad loved his cars. I crossed the country three times before I was five. Name a landmark, I’ve seen it. I have lived in the East, the Midwest, the Northern Rockies, the West, the Southwest, but Texas is as close to the south as we ever got. However, we had thirty day vacations each summer that let us explore the rest of the country. Still none of those cultures touched my youth deeply because I lived on an Air Force Base where rank and achievement outweighed religion, ethnicity, culture and any other difference that isolates us from each other. (One cultural lesson I received in Texas, got me a three day example of why prayer should not be in schools. (See Book of Gen:Magickal Records, Fall 1957, Amarillo, TX.). Everything considered, I had a happy childhood. I was a dancing, swimming, singing, skating, horse riding, stargazing, tree-climbing tomboy up to my early teens. That’s when everything changed.

By the time I was 12, both my brother and sister had moved out. Mother had quit her job at the newspaper to come home and write her novel. She used me as her first-draft editor. I was beginning to see her as an individual, and not just my mother. She had a wealth of experience and wisdom that was very attractive to me. It was a time when I had my mother’s undivided attention and we became each other’s best friend and secret sharer. It was a good thing, too, because a year later, after she initiated me into the family tradition, the rest of the family rejected us both. By the time I turned 17, the two of us were pretty much on our own.

Jumping to the future - I have given birth, adopted or fostered six children (2 boys, 4 girls - different sizes, races, and persuasions)...not all of them call me Mom, but I call all of them my kids. They are all out of the house, now. Well, somewhat. One son still lives in the house he was raised in, while my eldest daughter bought the house next to mine and her youngest sister lives with her. Some are married, some live out of town and three of them have had several children to which I am in my heart - their grandmother.

I have experienced two unhappy marriages, the loss of my birth family including my goddess mother and my truest friend S.S.G., the only woman I called sister who ever knew what that word meant. I am presently wallowing in the extraordinary friendships of my children, experiencing a highly creative and magickal era, as well as being in love for the first time in my life. I'm a "here and now kind of gal" (Mother's words) who looks 40 on the outside, feels 30 on the inside and is 15 on an ATV. I have been in public relations for 20 years and am presently financially able to "follow my bliss" as a freelance writer, working on several books (and this website) at once.

Worthy Gens will string together
And will not go awry
For the cup turned up to the will of the gods
Is a well that never runs dry.

What Mother taught…

Even though I was born a witch, her message was clear: Anyone can do it. Anyone can change his or her life through esoteric study and practice. You needn’t be blood related to qualify. Love makes a family – not blood. Then again, she felt that if someone heard her philosophies and felt the call deeply enough to investigate, they were probably related to us anyway through genetic descent or in a previous incarnation. Family plays a central part in our philosophies. Simply we are ancestor worshippers, it's just that our definition of ancestor might be a bit grander than most.

A Hereditary Initiatory Mystery path with an Irish accent is as close to a label as it gets to my spiritual tradition. Scholarship included the esoteric studies, family history, family traditions, western and eastern mysticism, history, literature, astronomy, physical science, anthropology, archeology, comparative religions, sociology, psychology, myth, legend, songs, stories, superstitions and folklore. Throw in some kitchen witchery and you get a good idea of my studies.

On Lineage and The Pure Path

Frankly, I don’t believe that there is such a thing – in witchcraft, paganism or otherwise. History is just formalized gossip.

The Irish were world travelers and they have greened the bloodlines of some of the greatest cultures in history. It is naïve to think that my Family Tradition remained untouched by their environments. I know Dr. Carl Jung’s theory of how the mind works influenced Grandmother’s practice. The Duke University studies of Dr. J.B. (John Banks) Rhine certainly contributed to Mother’s studies, as well as the work at Princeton University by Dean Radin, exploring of the variables of person-unique signatures in psychic work (read also, magicians and witches - having individual rhythms, styles and idiosyncrasies in their workings). In just my lifetime, my hereditary Irish tradition, has hidden its path within the Roman Catholic Church; reaffirmed itself with the 60's Aquarian lessons of diversity and Franciscan earth spirituality; survived the metaphysical-to-weird sciences of the New Age 70's; only to come full circle back to the "Olde Religion" of 80's Wicca. I can't tell you how many times Mother used the metaphor of walking about the barn to get to the front door. It is a metaphor that we always travel back to the beginning. In wicca, I rediscovered some elements of my family tradition that were similar, if not identical. Much of my Wiccan study was literally a coming home for me; back to the teachings of my mother. I kept hearing her words coming out of other people’s mouths.

Why me?

Just lucky, I guess. A hundred years ago, a magickal family tradition was taught to the child who exhibited the greatest gifts. Sometimes, it was given to the strongest child - the one most likely to live in an age with a 50% child mortality rate. Our Family Tradition was passed down to a chosen few. It was not taught to the child that showed no inclination for magick, parapsychology or even exceptional mundane behavior. My mother was chosen from her siblings to be taught by her mother. My mother chose me. (It was not fair or democratic, but it was done that way for self-protection.) Study was only offered to my siblings after we were discovered working together. They rejected the training and the trainer, which for me only supported the wisdom of Mother's choice. Between a "sister's" bruised ego and "brother's" pseudo-intellectual snobbery, magick was an enormous leap backwards. Their pragmatic minds could not make that leap without proof and they expected her to provide that to them on a silver platter instead of each taking up the torch, doing the work and proving it to themselves. The study of witchcraft does not require a leap if requires a leap of oneself.

(My half brother suggested that Mother take classes at the university to understand this "stuff." Mother's answer was that some of it hadn't been invented yet. In 1962 there were no academic studies on witchcraft, women's studies or comparative religions and those that were, were culturally biased. The only person who'd ever heard the words *quantum physics* was the guy who invented them. Today, academic books are being rewritten every six months forcing us to retool our assumptions on the subjects of genetics, how the mind works, the prejudice of history and the bias of cultural anthropology. We now know that the dark ages were not so dark, that the seas were filled with voyagers from far away continents, that mysticism was both both farce and ancient wisdom and that myths, folklore and superstitions hold more than fairy stories. Still, with 40 years increased knowledge, I have never met anyone who could use Trick Sight. (See Book of Gen:Magickal Records, July 1966, Tempe, Az., Trick Sight)

In our Family Tradition, proof takes a lifetime. We don’t do parlor tricks to prove what we do is real. I did that when I was young and ego driven, because I wanted to prove to myself as much as to anyone else, that what I could do was more than coincidence or chance. (See Book of Gen:Magickal Records, Christmas 1963.) Today, I care not who believes in magick. I have Atheist and Christian friends, literati and intelligentsia both papered and not, who are very dear to me and who want to think me a fool for believing in “all that junk.” As I am rarely a fool about anything else in my life, (and when I am - they are forced to admit that it usually works out for me), my study has far from hurt me.

There were reasons why I was chosen to assume my mother’s role…a threshold I cross being dragged; kicking and screaming. The first, most obvious hereditary witchly trait is that of psychic ability. I have that. The truth is everyone has it to one degree or another. That degree only indicates how much work one will have to invest for proficiency. More than my psychic ability, my mother was impressed with the fact that I had a vocabulary of 27 words at the age of nine months and a month later recorded my first memory, sitting in a canoe between the legs of my Aunt. (See Book of Gen:Magickal Records, July 1951.) My Aunt remembered the event when my mother forgot it.

I could swim before I could walk, sang well and had an ear for both French and Japanese before the age of two. I could read before kindergarten. My mother and godmother were convinced that I was a genius. Well, nearly. I tested somewhere in the 150s.

Grandmother and the spider dream

Like most hereditary witches, my adolescent training began after my first “true” dream, as mother titled it to a small child. My first "prophetic" dream was actually telepathic, not like the clairvoyant dreams I would have later in life. While sleeping, I watched a huge spider as she built her web by the front door. (See Book of Gen:Magickal Records, Fall 1954.) After the morning proved the vision true, a terrified child heard for the first time, the “our people” speech. My mother showed her psychic gifts early and began training at three years old. I was a late bloomer and started my training at age five.

Even though I can’t remember a day when I wasn’t acutely aware of the magick of my environment, my home and my mother; it was my grandmother who actually taught my first spells to me. I still use her hair brushing spell today. (See Book of Gen: Magickal Records, Summer 1956) Grandmother was a green witch who read tarot, tea leaves, palms and grew things just by looking at them. She was highly educated and gifted, spoke three languages, played the piano and violin and sang beautifully. She was a late initiate into the family's mystery tradition, but that's another story for another time. By the time Grandmother was reunited with her biological, Irish family, her mother had passed, but two (out of six) sisters carried the family tradition and passed it to her over the next ten years.

Grandmother’s tealeaf readings and herbal medicines were widely respected and accepted. Much like today, occult studies and spiritualism was quite the fashion of the day and she displayed her witchly talents openly under that pretext - that is, until she read the death of a woman’s husband, as it happened. The other ladies who were at tea retold the story to the rest of the town. What followed was a threatening reminder that the "burning times" were not so long ago. (Read the full story at - Grandmother's Wisdom - 1923 - The Burning Times were not over

Afterwards, the family tradition went firmly underground again and Grandmother never again practiced divination, not even in private. It was the one family gift that she tried to suppress, in herself and in Mother. Grandmother still practiced magick and herbal medicine, but left “the sight” to Fate. She treated her traditions as cultural and not religious; a family affair that was no one’s business, especially the church. Still, she openly argued with the parish priest - whom she invited to supper each Friday - against “man-made” laws, a wrathful god, the belief in Satan, original sin, the fall, subduing the earth, animals not having souls, heaven as a jeweled city, and the evil nature of women.

Family gods

Again - if there is a word that permeates my practice, philosophy and view of the divine...that word is Family. I have always leaned toward a polytheistic view of the divine. Between my ancestors, the saints of the Catholic Church, a Buddha in my bedroom, an elf in the ketchup bottle (See Growing up in a Magickal Home) and a Saint Francis in the same garden with Pan, singularity was a myth in our home. Plurality is exampled everywhere in my life. In every way, the universe expresses diversity. If the divine exists, I like the idea that they are a family. I love the feminine divine because, throughout my life, women have always been my best role models as noble, fearless, wise, and dignified heroes, comforters and advisors. And even though I often address the divine as a pair, I reject duality as simplistic, especially all the dualistic consciousness that goes along with that divine duality; i.e., good/evil, dark/light, male/female.

I worship nature and honor the spirits that inhabit it. I am an ancestor worshipper. I studied Ceremonial Magick and trained in Gardnerian/Alexandrian Wicca but refused initiation. Not even a meeting with the father of American witchcraft, that gentleman, Raymond Buckland, and the status of lineage could tempt me from my Family Tradition. Neither could my other brush with witchly fame, which was meeting hedonistic Anton LaVey in the late 60s. Mother is still my supreme icon of a Priestess.

My personal gods include, the Triple Bridget (V.S.L.L.M.), Cormac McAirt, Cernunnos, The Morrighan, Athena, Francis, Diana, Pan, Kwan Yin, Ganesha, Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Chopin, Shelley, Kahlil Gibran, Joseph Campbell, Helen, Leigh, Dorothy, and Susan.

Practice, practice, practice.

I work candle, stone, musical and talismanic magic. I was gifted in palmistry, playing cards (used like tarot), the Ouija board and automatic writing but I don't do divination any more (a major requirement in many systems of study, which I still approve of as a training device). But, like Grandmother, through life lessons, I believe that one should not intrude too much upon the proper darkness of the future...just because one can.

I've banished prophesy from my life, unless it is will keep me or someone I love from a car accident, or loosing one’s keys or burning the house down. The telepathy/empathy remains - even when I sleep. I have, however, set filters on those gifts to forbid my seeing things I cannot influence or prevent. (You would not have wanted to be in my head on the morning of 9-11. (See Magickal Records:1992-Until, September 11, 2002).)

I have to be careful to shield myself when I get upset about something. If I don’t, invariably, someone will call me with the immediately question, “What? What is it?” The morning Mother died, I received calls from L.A. and New York. Two dear hearts had heard mine break. "Curnunnos," one of my dearest friends, answered my hello with, “She’s gone, isn’t she.” It wasn’t a question. With his formidable gifts, he knew as surely as if he were standing in the room at the time of her death. R.F. was actually attending his mother’s funeral, when thoughts of me cut through his grief too strongly to resist calling me. Much of my journey, having psychic gifts, has been protecting others from them.

I have too often had to apologize for thinking/feeling too loudly. I've had to warn my children to think quietly too. At Yule or other holidays, I will learn all my surprises if they don't. I hate it when they try to be cute and want to test me, or tease me by giving me the most obscure hint, that reveals the secret in capital letters or screams it in my head. Sigh. They, having psychic gifts of their own, had learned to “white noise” anything that needs to be kept a secret. They don't want to know how many of their secrets that I keep, even from them. They have tested me just often enough to get embarrassed or thoroughly uncomfortable. (And just for the record, I can't get anything that one really doesn't want me to know. However, people who talk/think/feel all around a subject will probably be revealing it to me.) I am an honorable person, who keeps confidences with an understanding heart. However, to an Empath, working in an office of a dozen or so people can be quite maddening on a volatile day.

Eight years ago, I was drafted by my children to lead a small family circle. I call myself priestess to my clan. My Book of Shadows is over 1000 pages and growing.

© 2004-2012 Ardriana Cahill

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