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Occasionally I wandered in where I was not wanted and gave truthful answers.
Sometimes I even did it deliberately. A little disruption now can prevent disaster later.

Before the Deepest Night - updated

Bone, Heart, Thought, Deed, and Spirit, I choose to honor these people this season
Like many pagans, this time of year I celebrate the lives of those who have gone before. My version borrows a bit from the late Zenna Henderson with a few of my own twists. My Befores include not only my direct ancestors, but other people who have shaped my life.

My stepfather is not a direct ancestor but this year he is my Before of Bone. His health caused some problems between us the last years of his life. He married my mother just after I turned two. He was brilliant in his own way and recognized within his field. His hobby was amateur radio. During the sixties and seventies he moonlighted as a classical music DJ.

Now you can say a lot about nature verses nurture. I’ll tell you this. I could mimic my maternal grandfather’s voice well enough to fool his dogs, but that was only for a few commands. My everyday, very distinctive speaking voice sounds like my Dad. Put a microphone in front of me and I sound even more like him.

His voice lives on in my head and it will for the rest of my life.

I can’t say I’ll ever really understand love in any of it’s forms. There was a minister who turned my ideas of what a preacher should do upside down. When I met him Charles Golden was a United Methodist bishop and he bent my brain for the better when I was a young teen. In the last few years I’ve learned to listen more closely to what he told me. I’m not as confrontational as I was, and I think it was this man’s discussions of
agape that helped my head connect with my heart.

And they were discussions, bless his heart. He didn’t lecture, he spoke with you. He talked. Even to a bunch of headstrong teenagers. Do you know how rare that was in the late seventies? Do you know how rare that is today? He’s one of my best examples, even if I didn’t realize at the time how grand a gift he gave.

One other thing I should mention. He was the very first minister who ever told me that I didn’t have to bow my head when I prayed. That alone makes him a saint in my book. He is definitely my Before of Heart.

Isaac Bonewits is my Before of Thought this year. This man amazed me from the first time I read the
Advanced Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Frame in my first copy of Drawing Down the Moon. I thought it had some marvelous applications to some history I was studying at the time.

I didn’t always agree with Bonewits. There was one incident in an online group called Spells For Democracy where I chose to go silent rather than create more dissent. Still, he earned my respect. I consider his work to be among the fundamental texts for studying modern paganism.

My Before of Deeds is Steve Jobs. Yes, he was flawed. But you’d be hard pressed to find anyone short of Walt Disney who had a bigger impact on the culture.

Right now I’m typing this on a MacBook Air.

This year my Before of Spirit is Ludwig van Beethoven for one song that got me through some pretty down times.
Ode to Joy is poetry expressed as music and a whisper of the Divine.

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