Witches, healers, and wise women (and men) just know.

I’ve always respected and even revered the “knowing” of certain people in my life. When someone I know says they were “told”, or that they “know” of a truth, especially if that truth should walk the line of what some may call fantasy vs. reality, I listen, I hear, and I believe.

When I have that feeling of knowing, the strong pull of intuition, I am still learning to believe. I think it’s very easy to doubt ourselves and our own truths, not because we actually think our intuition is wrong, but because we are so quick to play out scenarios where it COULD be wrong, and if it were wrong, well, then what does believing in ourselves get us? Embarrassment? A feeling of inadequacy or stupidity? So in fear of THAT scenario, that feeling, we often talk ourselves out of listening to our intuition. What we never think about is that if our intuition were off, the supportive people around us would simply say, “good for you for trying, and for listening, because you are still learning.” Instead, we think about those unsupportive people (or, let’s face it, memories of people) who will belittle us or say “told ya so!” with some kind of victorious smirk, pleased that they could shoot down our desire to find magic in a world that can be so painful.

But suffice it to say that though I sometimes lack faith in myself, I do have faith in other people. I think a lot of us are like that. We may find ourselves listening to the intuition of others as if they were the Oracle of Apollo. We may find ourselves changing our lives because of the prophecy or interpretations of another. I am always reminded, when I think of this, of the power of words backed with intent. The first time I remember ever saying to a student that I believed she would follow a particular path was with my friend and former student Lauren. I had been on vacation in Virginia and visited the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, and that’s when I realized it was the location of Mary Baldwin College. I remember sitting in that theatre for a performance and “seeing” Lauren there, going to school for her Master’s program. My memory is a bit fuzzy, but she told me once exactly where I was on campus (which then cued my memory) when I declared to her that that was where she would study for her MA.

She did. She earned 2 master’s degrees from Mary Baldwin. She’s an amazing and dedicated teacher now.

You can imagine that it made me feel a bit like preening after that happened. I may have turned around and smoothed down my own iridescent peacock feathers after I realized that my intuition guided someone else to a particular place that had meaning for her. (of course, I chose to ignore that she could have gone to school anywhere and done just as well). I felt empowered.

But sometimes that kind of knowing can come back to bite you. Take, for instance, the several times over the years that students have said to me that I told them a vision I had for them, and they did NOT follow that path. They told me they felt like they were letting me down. I could tell this really bothered them, and even my assurances that I thought no less of them, in fact probably thought MORE of them, that they were thinking for themselves and moving in the direction their intuition told them, didn’t sound like enough to assuage their feelings of guilt. I hope over time that receded, and since then, I’ve made a point to tell students that the path I saw for them was just an option of many I might not be able to see. More than anything, it’s a “knowing” I feel about them that comes on a soul level and it really means that they’ve just touched something at my core. It’s a way I want to show them how much I value their gifts and feel a connection to their spirit.

I’ve been the recipient of others’ intuition and knowing, of course, especially lately, with the arrival of a sweet little boy cat to my grove. Life and work especially has been incredibly hard lately, as we all know, and I had truly hit my breaking point in terms of depression a few weeks back. It wasn’t even that anything in particular had happened at work that day; it was more that there was this tipping point where the weight of it all was smothering me. I had such terrible thoughts. I had heard myself say to a couple of people that I had a plan if I lost my job. I’d try to cobble together a living without healthcare for a couple of years, living off my savings, and then even cashing in my 403b, and I said “I give myself about 3 years with no full-time job to make it by. And then I’ll just end it.” I wasn’t specific about that last part, but we all get what I was saying. No, I wasn’t wanting the leave the world. But the only thing I could see in my future was never-ending pain and tragedy. I couldn’t live with the thought of losing my home, or my cats. I just couldn’t live with that.

On top of that, I couldn’t live anymore with what this whole work situation was doing to me—the not knowing if I’ll be fired or not. There is constant pressure this year that I’m putting on myself to be the perfect professor just in case anyone is watching me (which is 99.9% unlikely) because that might affect whether I am retained in the acquisition or not. And to that end, that night, as I drove home in tears, I made my 3 year plan in my head, and I started to mentally write a resignation letter. I didn’t plan to resign effective immediately. No, more than anything, I wanted to teach out the remainder of the year. I am invested in a lot of these students’ lives. I want to see them finish as Wesley students. I’m working on projects with some. They need me, but I probably need them more. I’m teaching my dream course on Guillermo del Toro next semester. I’m teaching creative writing and two sections of fairy tales. If it’s the end of my life in higher education, I’m going out with what I love doing.

So I planned that when I got home, I’d write a letter resigning effective in May 2021. That way, I thought, they can’t fire me. I won’t go through the indignity of that. They won’t break up with ME. I’ll break up with THEM. I thought about the ramifications of doing this. I was 100% sober. No alcohol in the house. My mind was clear, though highly depressed. I knew it would shock people. I knew that probably some would try to talk me out of it, to get me to write a retraction. I saw all of the paths in my mind. But I didn’t care. I could not take one more minute of pressure.

And that’s when I went outside to put out a can of food for the strange white cat who visits my yard, and instead, there was Icarus.

He wasn’t Icarus at the time, of course. He was a big fluffy orange cat, loudly begging for that can of food. I turned to him and I said in this high pitched girly voice, “Who are YOU?” He just kept meowing and trilling at me. He came right to me and rubbed all over me and let me pet him. Then he made a great show of going up to my catnip plant and slobbering all over it and then lying down putting his paws up in the air. I remembered instantly that he looked just like the little orange cat who had appeared on my deck years ago whom I took pictures of. The cat who I remember saying had “probably died” because after I took the pics, I didn’t see him again. But a year or so after, I did see a cat who looked like him, and I took a picture. I made a mental note to go look up those pictures. Was he that cat?

But back to my story: this boy cat made me laugh. He was silly and playful and demanding, so demanding. I had seen a fluffy orange cat in my yard lately, but only at a distance, who ran if I looked. Why was this cat being so friendly all of a sudden?

The rest of the night, I thought about that cat, and I forgot about writing the resignation letter.

Over the next few days, he appeared again and again, though not regularly. I found myself at work thinking about him, wondering if when I got home, would I see him? I found myself sad if I didn’t, but then I’d go to my altar and light a white candle and ask Lady Bastet to send him back, and every time, she did. He would appear in the hour.

I especially looked forward to the first weekend with him hanging around. I wondered if I’d get to see him more often. Saturday morning, October 10, I had my answer. I walked outside to call him during the day (up till then he’d only shown up at dusk) and he burst out of a group of trees and brush on the right side of my property. He looked like he had jumped in a mud puddle. He got close, and that’s when I realized that half his body was coated in something brown and sticky. Tar. And it wouldn’t come off.

I tried using dishwashing liquid on him and he scratched me. Not too hard, just 2 little tiny holes in my hand, but enough to warn me to let him be. I called a pet groomer to see if I could take him, but they didn’t return my call for 2 days, and they said they didn’t do cats anyway. But the tar set me to worrying about him for sure, and by then, one of my friends, Karen, had encouraged me to set up a gofundme for him, which I did, and in 3 days I was able to collect $370 to get him his shots and neutering and exam and tests.

Stunned at the generosity of my friends from near and far, and worried about all that tar on him, I contacted my vet and set up an appointment to have him cared for, and I prayed that the tar wouldn’t make him sick. He disappeared then a day or so, but when he came back, I could see that he had pulled out most of his own fur that was covered in tar, and he seemed ok.

That was the point where he decided to camp out on my front step. He stayed there for 2 days before I couldn’t ignore him anymore and brought him into my sun porch 4 days ahead of his surgery. He felt warm to the touch to me, and I worried he had an infection from that tar or from pulling out his fur. But I also realized that if I hadn’t brought him in, he was prepared to live on that front step for good. I mean, he did not budge. I’ve never seen anything like it, except for my cat Kaga about 20 years ago who did the same thing only using the back door of my house to prop his huge body against.

Kaga was a protector of my home and property. He cost me so many vet bills from fighting, even after he was neutered, because he believed he had to defend us. Kaga was my only cat who disappeared when it was his time. I’ve buried or cremated many, many cats, but Kaga was one for whom I had no closure, because when he was a little old man, I brought him indoors, but he still liked his outdoor time, and one day, he simply left, and I never saw him again.

Given that the boy I named Icarus by now had some of those same behaviors as Kaga, I should have known who he was: my Guardian. But I didn’t listen to my intuition. It took my friend Melanie and my friend Laura to convince me who Icarus REALLY was.

I don’t know if Kaga sent him. That’s not the inclination I feel. I wonder if it was my dad sometimes, because I know I’ve really missed my dad of late, and I’ve asked dad for help navigating this awful stretch of time. My dad was not an animal person, though, so I am not sure.

Other times I wonder if it was Dobbsie who sent him. Dobbsie was my closest little boy cat. He was my FIRST boy cat. He was born on my property, so I held him from before his eyes were open along with his littermates. He was my angel, my best buddy, my closest little man. He loved me with all his heart. He would look at me with this look of adoration, but at times, he’d also look very old and wise. Dobbsie died very tragically, very suddenly, when something went wrong inside him. He was 14 years old. It may have been cancer. But he was scheduled to have an exploratory surgery to help him and he died hours prior at the vet’s home, lying on a soft blanket on a heating pad, sedated for pain. The last time I saw my ex-husband and spoke to him in person was the day we buried Dobbsie under my bedroom window. It took me a long time to deal with that grief.

There are other things that point to Dobbsie, though. It’s my Ariadne novels. In the novels, I created a character who is based a bit on myself. She has an animal companion, a jaguar, who is absolutely based on my Dobbsie. In the first novel, she finds that to escape the labyrinth, she must leave him behind. It is a pain for which she is not prepared. Then she lives outside the labyrinth for a time, until she voluntarily returns, and upon returning, she is reunited with her jaguar. He is older and wiser, but he is still her loving and protective companion.

When I think about Icarus, whom I named by instinct, it was one of the first names that came to me for this golden orange sun-colored boy, and the first name he seemed to respond to, I think about how there is something about him that I know on a soul level. Every time I look at his face, I feel it in my bones. I know him. I know him by his eyes. This is a phrase I use in the novels, that Ariadne will know him by his eyes. In fact, Ariadne sees a hawk once she is outside the labyrinth, and she feels that something in the hawk is connected to her jaguar. She sees it in his eyes. Well, I’ve seen the same hawk 3 or 4 times in the last 2 weeks in the trees on my property. It even dropped out of a tree and walked around for awhile. This is highly unusual and worth noting.

The wise women I know have said Icarus is a guardian, and I agree. I feel protected by him. My cats are slowly coming around to accepting him, but they are doing it at a rate that is faster than I’d have assumed would occur. Understandably, it’s not all rosy. There are some scuffles, hisses, and growls. His urine is a little musky and I’m having to scoop more often and burn a lot of incense and spread a lot of calming, healing energy to keep things balanced in my home. I’ve got a friend, Lisa, who has offered to take him if things don’t work out. So he has an indoor home, which he desperately seems to want, for life.

But somehow I can’t give up on him even though it’s tough to make changes to my life and the lives of my cats. I didn’t expect him. If I had wanted a 7th cat, I’d have adopted a kitten so I could watch one grow again, not a full grown mature cat who is larger than all of my cats but one. He’s going to cost me more money at a time when I need to be careful about spending. He’s “another mouth to feed.” He’s disrupting our lives a bit. But he’s mine. That’s what I keep hearing in my head. He’s mine. He’s my guardian. He’s my protector, if I want him. He was sent. I can’t deny that truth.

I feel stronger in his presence. I’ve had the worst time trying to summon protection or shielding around me and I get caught up in others’ emotions and my own, and they swirl all about me and drag me down. But somehow he’s protecting me from that. It’s as if my mind is affected by problems, but my heart visualizes me dressed as Ariadne, and Icarus, my sun-colored protector, stands next to me, alert and ready to attack. He’s got the spirit of the jaguar I wrote about in his cat-shaped body. I can see it and feel it.

Those thoughts and visions led me to do a quick tarot card reading on him. I asked my cards, what does he represent, and I received The Chariot. On this deck, the Chariot is a man on a flying steed with a woman sitting behind him. He is taking her to the next place she will be. He is her transitional guide in the liminal space. Then I asked the cards, where is he taking me? The card I pulled was The Sun. How appropriate, I thought. The cards are clever. In this deck, the Sun is represented by people coming out of a clearing in the woods and finding a bright new future at their fingertips.

I thought today about my unfinished novels, and I realized that after Ariadne voluntarily returns to the labyrinth to gain some perspective on her life, she meets her jaguar again. And after that, she meets the man who will be her twin flame: Dionysus. In mythology, Dionysus sometimes has two halves to his life. The early part he is famous for is embodied by “wine, women, and song.” He is not the kind of man you want a relationship with. But in his later life, he renounces his vices and “settles down.” In my book, I work with that version of Dionysus and invent a huge back story for him and place him in Ariadne’s present, where she meets him in the great library of the labyrinth. He prunes and cares for the grapes in his vineyard, but he rarely consumes the wine he makes. He is controlled and deliberate. He is wearing a hooded robe when he meets her. He has a close-cropped beard and mustache. He has tattoos. He wears glasses sometimes and has a kindly face. He loves animals. He is very intelligent.

And when Ariadne meets her boy again, she also meets the man with whom she will spend the rest of her mortal life.

Is this who Icarus is? In mythology, of course, Icarus died. But I rewrite myths and fairy tales all the time, or create my own new ones, and in my mind, this Icarus fell to earth, his limbs sheathed in sticky tar, but I caught him, and I restored him (with the help of the vet, of course, and my friends who supported him with donations). In my version of the myth, Icarus lives. He’s my golden boy, fiercely protective, but he’s also the harbinger of transition. He is my Chariot, taking me to the Sun, where I will meet my twin flame.

Could I be wrong about that last part? Maybe so. But this time, instead of talking myself out of my intuition because I am afraid someone will say I’m too fanciful, too unrealistic, too childish in the way that I still want to see fairy tales manifest in real life, I’m going to choose to believe in hope, in intuition, in possibility.

A world without magic is a world that bores me. I need magic to survive. We all do, whether we know it yet or not.

Who is Icarus? He is proof of the existence of magic in the real world. My life path changed the moment he came into it, and maybe my stories about him will have a ripple effect and make others begin or continue to believe in magic.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, to whomever sent him to me. To us.

So mote it be.

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