at the altar of baba

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Sometimes she slides in quite silently, and it takes me awhile to realize.. bone mother of cycles, death, and wisdom. She speaks to me in layers, and teaches me of shadow in light. Her greatest lessons can be found in this darkness where so many fear to tread.. those hidden stains in the deepest corners of your soul.

Sometimes, it is but a simple matter of paying what’s due. Sometimes it is a bit more complicated. Always, though, the work must be done.. to slip would offer up more of my soul than I care to, and I know she will devour it. I can smell the promise of death on her.. rich, earthy, and tinged with the decay of that which has been left for too long on the forest floor.

re-defining the wheel

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Having burned through that which no longer serves at Midsummer, I was looking forward to celebrating the bounty that is the first harvest. A small group of us gathered in the garden to share food and drink.. and to celebrate all that we had seen each other through in the past year. It was a celebration of the bounty of our lives – those people and things that support and sustain us. Late in the evening Lola and I left an offering for our ancestors of the bone.

I think every harvest should include our ancestors.. those of blood, bone, and spirit. Lola suggested we honor one at each harvest.. an idea I love. To me, bone is of the earth, and represents the land and its spirits.. perfect for a first harvest and our second instance of re-defining what the wheel means to us.

I was recently asked about entering a working relationship with a fellow witch.. something I rarely do and have never committed to on such a level, this blending of paths. We are able to create a beautifully eclectic practice working together and as solitary.. freely incorporating any ideas we choose. A level field, not teacher and student but witch and witch, each in our own right. Of course it makes it a bit easier to do so because its just us and that working intimacy creates a great bond in our craft. It enables us to learn from each other through these shared and separate experiences.. walking hand in hand creating our path.

 

 

notes on the red meal

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“Retire to a suitable place (ideally) in the twilight or night when the moon is high, such as the roots of a great faerie tree, an ancient well, the side of the hidden spring, or an isolated graveyard or ancient burial mound..” — Robin  Artisson

When the veil is thin and it is a time for the fae.. and the burning away of things.. this is when I share the red meal. It is both an offering and a way to bond with other. My ritual was adopted from Artisson’s ritual in The Resurrection of the Meadow.. but much simplified. If I cannot seek a natural place, I perform it at the hearth.

A hex is drawn out using water from a natural body..

North to South – for the seen and the unseen, the ghost road from beyond the hedge..

Northwest to Southeast – for the spirits

Northeast to Southwest – for the good folk

Set the incense to smoke. A triangle is made around the invisible hex in white or yellow flour, powdered egg shells, hawthorn branches, beach sand.. whatever works for the place and the occasion.

Red, for our blood filled life – I pour the offering of wine..

White, for our timeless force – white candles are lit at the triangle’s base..

And Nelia, my stang, to bridge the three.. earth, sea, and sky – I push her into the ground at the top of the triangle. If I can’t use Nelia, I draw what I’ve come to think of as the sigil of the faery tree in her place. .

An offering of food and flowers is made. If there are petitions written, things to be released.. these are set to fire in the candles and the ashes buried.

 

 

 

a quiet stabbing

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..something was being put to my direction, like a quiet stabbing..

I woke up after a day spent in anger still angry. I just could not find my Zen. The old reading popped into my head.. yes, there was a quiet stabbing and now I had a smarting back.

five of arrows, frustration – a goat with long curving horns and a wildly tangled coat leaps upward into the sky.. around it are four arrows, none of which strike it.. unfocused energy leads to the archer releasing inaccurate arrows or lashing out in an uncontrolled manner..

As it was, it turned out that I was indeed both the goat and the archer (see – sometimes I do follow up on my writings).. the arrows of my words sent out and also being fired back. Thankfully, I spoke my truths long ago and I stand by their original context.

..take a deep breath and steady your mind.. see the futility of games played against you and go about your business.. cocoon yourself away from outside influences.. the trees act as a reminder to follow your path..

Nothing had changed really, except that I now held more knowledge and a clearer perspective. If you walk your path with integrity and truth, there should be no need for these things.. that was my first response.. pre-Zen. However, thought reminded me, we are but human and can only do our best.

My truths for today (before they escape me) – We don’t have to agree, but we can learn from our differences. Our diversity should be a strength. Your fellow is not a tool to be used, or worse.. persecuted. Yes, I will stand up for them. You should too. Learn from one another. Strive to be kind. Extend that kindness to yourself. Do your best. I will do mine. Be true. Speak those truths when necessary. Breathe.

I lit the candles and steadied my thoughts. “And now?” This I asked, knowing the question was not very specific. I shuffled the threes..

eight of bows, hearthfire – on the edge of a sparse winter forest camp, lit with the warm dancing flames of a large log fire, we see eight figures gathered around a roaring hearthfire.. the merry band raise goblets, shake hands and laugh, bathing in the shared bonds of fellowship and harmony created by the true loyalty of lifelong friends..

Ironic, that was my first thought.. but then if not for this situation, this card would have spoken to me of another. Soon after, I heard from said other.

four of stones, protection – the newly risen sun brings hope and renewed vitality to the vulnerable..shelter and protection for the weak or the spiritually wounded is the responsibility of us all.. for those who have weathered adversity and known loss, the light of life and love will always burn brightly within them.. by building on a foundation of ethical beliefs, boundaries and skills, we can be assured that when the test comes we are secure in our self-knowledge and confidence.. the human ability to recognize and feel compassion for those who need help is just as important..

To the lost, may you know my hut is ever open.. even if you choose to burn me in the hearthfire..

 

little town of the sea

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I am walking through the seaside town, this place is where I will live. There are no huge beaches but a bit of a small one.. more shell and rock than sand. It is backed by a forest. There is a bit of a larger rocky cliff to be seen in the distance. I walk out onto a little jut of land to where the tree is growing. There are many beautiful speaking trees in this place but this one is my favorite. I lay my hands and face on it as I dig my toes into the sodden earth around its roots. A man approaches to speak to me about starting my job, apparently I already have a place here. We exchange pleasantries and then he is gone. I head back through the town.. it looks very much like a downtown and feels like home. I am at peace here. I see a brick apartment window high up in one of the buildings and realize that I had been there before. I was here with the horse once and I’m pretty sure that bit of beach is where I buried the bones.. found the bones.. or both. I pass a tiny house, the front is all glass like a shop but I know it is a house and I will live there. I head back to rejoin my party.. it is the husband and my mother. They are the best and the least of my life thus far. On the way out I pass an old lover of mine I once cared greatly for and he smiles when he recognizes me. As I look back, I am thinking that he doesn’t look like himself. I am falling behind because I am not wanting to leave. I realize that I have a seashell in my hand and I am happy for what is to come.

Over the years, I’ve dreamed of the outskirts of this place, never seeing in.. or so I thought. This was my instance of realizing I was in all along.. finding many familiar dreamland places within this place by the sea. It is here where I sometimes seek others, bury bones, and visit the waters with Bear. Here is where I’ve met the red eyed horse.. my beast of burden. Here is where the shape shifts and I listen to the pounding drums. I am curious to know if the hyena and the old woman can be found somewhere in that forest..

the burning away

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Much to Lola’s amusement, the rain continued to beat at us as we wound our way down the path.. her choice of time specifically moved to avoid just this such thing. I blamed the twisted bitches, as they must have felt a cleansing was in order and were having way too much fun with it. Earlier in our little adventure, a turtle brought us to three turkey vulture feathers and so we decided to take it as a sign to stick with the plan.. we would each keep one and the third would go up for offer at the close of the meal.

I sang the Raven song as I collected water from the stream, not bothering to spare Lola as she already knew I couldn’t sing. The water was to be used to draw the sign of crossing, forging a connection between the seen and the unseen. We then climbed up the ledge, struck Nelia into the ground, and drew out the sigil at the base of the Hawthorne. Offerings of food and red wine were made, and then each of us set fire (as best we could) to some unneeded things.. burying what was too wet to catch for the earth to finish.

Once we settled down to share the rest of the meal, covered in mud and stinging from our blood sacrifice to the horse flies, we decided that we very much enjoyed the rain.. and it was definitely needed. A snake wandered over to see what the fuss was about and so we decided it was time. I laid the feather down right before we headed out. By the time we had left the wood, the skies had cleared and another turtle came to bid us farewell.

into the wood

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An owl passed over as we entered into the wood to begin our task. Enveloped in the trees, the path was narrow. We decided on an overhang above the spring and settled down in the mud. I brought her question to the cards.. What tools would be needed from here? Then I laid the cards..

From the Wildwood:

Ace of Arrows, the breath of life- by breathing life into a thought and pursuing it to its material creation in the real world, we engage in an ancient and unique relationship with the universe and the divine..

5, The Ancestor- The Ancestor’s tracks lead into the wildwood. The morning is clear and frosty with the first glimmer of dawn shimmering on the horizon where the new moon hangs with the morning star, representing a new day and a reawakened soul. The Ancestor greets you as you walk up the path that leads to the forest..

King of Stones, Wolf- Revered as a ruthless tracker and hunter, the wolf has special symbolism.. comfortable in the dark and cold of winter, it was seen as a guardian of the dead on their journey through the night to the otherworld..

4, The Green Man (in shadow)- The face of the Green Man gazes from this card with a challenging and blazing stare. Golden summer sunlight radiates from the leaves that burst abundantly across his glowing fare and reach across the heart of the sacred land. In front of him is the cauldron of thriving and regenerating nature..

The wolf was blocking her, her spiritual path in shadow but it was time.. the Ancestor was calling her forward. I decided right there that he, the wolf, doesn’t get to decide.. she controls her breath and movement past these hindrances at hand. There was much work to be done and today we would start…

As we headed off further along the path to collect bits of fern for the smudge and the random wildflowers for the water, a crossroads came into our view. I turned toward her and asked if she was ready to fully step onto this path and work towards that spiritual she was seeking. It is no small feat to set one’s foot upon the path and commit fully to the work.. neither for her to make it or for me to commit to joining. I am no gentle witch of pretty ceremonies and empty words.. I work in shade and shadow, blood and bone, mud and muck. I am a working witch and this path is often twisty. We crossed over together and began..

found objects and a dream of ox

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The rain was coming down hard outside the store front.. it had been going heavy for some time. I was just here with another.. she had been trying on things she deemed too risqué for her outworld persona. I had come back for those things. I wanted to leave but I knew that the drive would be too treacherous. She (another she), the husband, and a man were close by having coffee. I went to join them.

A couple of men dressed as women come running in but they get caught up in the small crowd who are waiting out the rain. One gets turned around in the activity and he removes his mask. He is someone’s father. Ox is sitting on a shelf just past him. I realize that I know who ox needs to be with. I found myself thinking that I really wanted to go outside.. I could use a cigarette. 

The rain comes down harder and the she in my group is kneeling before a baby in a wicker cage. The cage is light and easily removed, but it is still a cage. Someone had put a blanket in with the child and I think- isn’t that dangerous? I woke with the thought- what’s the matter talent maker, everything’s pulled away..

Along my path, I find that I will pick up random waiting objects – they are on their way to someone with me being just their holding point. I often imagine that even once I pass them along to that person of need, that sometimes they stay with said person and then travel on to that person of need next..a great cycle of movement. It was such the case with ox, who I am happy to say has found his home after visiting one of my many shelves for a year give or take. Ox has also found his name, Hugo.. and as you can see from the photo is quite the camera hog.

I picked him up at a vintage shop while out trolling the coast with Walking Bear. He had (has) a certain energy and try as I might to convince myself that he did not need to go home with me, he had other ideas. Since there was a certain something about him, I chose not to smudge him as is my normal habit. I felt this something was going to be needed by whoever he chose to make his home with.. a feeling that seems to be working out. A weekend or few ago, I gifted him to his new home. I have a sneaking suspicion he has a great many lessons planned.

the healer, the witch, and the devil

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The temple was quiet and dark in my mind as his hands moved over me. There is something in the way he touches me as he is healing my body. I try to focus. If I can somehow alter this effect on me, even just a bit.. but I get distracted. Mind over matter, I breathe in.. I am the master of my domain, I breathe out. I will channel this one day. Today is not that day and my mind wanders.

He has questions on my path. I am not surprised when he speaks of his energy work.. I can feel it in his hands. Conversation slides around perceptions of witchcraft and of the devil. Funny, how the devil keeps popping up. I am wishing there was more time to talk, but that is neither here nor there. The thought found it’s way in – the devil’s not so bad, he is the wild embodiment of nature. I find that I don’t mind the comparison at all.. in fact, I kind of like it.

Earlier I was at the old graveyard leaving an offering. I was headed out from my grave to follow Walking Bear along the path when my body came alive as if filled with a thousand bees. I instinctively stepped out of the spot.. an action I still regret. Walking Bear was just turning around to say that he had felt something too, although a bit differently. Apparently the spirits had something to say.. but what? We headed out, continuing our trek.

I found my cards particularly confusing from that day and the question remains whether they were for me or not. They certainly didn’t seem to have anything to do with the posed question. I sent my thoughts later to Walking Bear and, much like our walk, our interpretations were different.

 

a delicate sliver of rabbit bone

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Though she has left me, her love of all things shiny still remains.. I have a magpie soul. I like the tactile. I want spiritual items that I can wear, touch, lick, stare at.. which brings me to the topic of ritual jewelry and my serious obsession with all things Eilisain.

One wears ritual jewelry for many reasons.. for the properties of the materials, to mark the movement from a mundane task to a spiritual one, to direct energies, as a fetish or representation of the object.. and so much more. I decided long ago that I wanted to incorporate my pieces into the everyday and have collected over the years  a fair few stones, talismans, and all manner of shiny things I wear for various reasons on various days. I am a big believer that one should walk in their spiritual always, not just tuck it away for marked times.

My favorite pieces are from a local artist that I stumbled upon on Etsy – Eilisain. My first piece was a ring of crow claw holding a black tourmaline.. an excellent grounding stone and as a shamanic stone it is said to provide protection during ritual use. This piece was recently replaced with an owl talon ring from the husband and so I intend to make my talisman into a pendulum necklace in future.

I have her ring of turtle spine that elegantly wraps around my finger. Turtle is not one of mine, but is a piece to remind me of that which I hold dear. She remarks on her site -“The Keeper is the one between two worlds, earth and water, the turtle.. Turtles sense vibrations through water and through their skin and shell, they are amazing survivors..”

She did me the great service of crafting an original piece from one of my bones – a delicate sliver of rabbit bone. Along with my Shepard’s Crown, it is one of my most important ritual pieces. As mentioned, rabbit is the one who walks with me in journey and I use this piece as a tie to my physical body.. it never hurts to have that extra connection. It is a powerful piece for me in my workings and a gentle reminder of my service as I walk the everyday.

For Eilisain, all I can say is that the soul of her artistry can be felt in these pieces.. her spirit quiet and strong. They whisper to me of pounding drums and dancing in the wilds with those mine.. and I like having that bit of tactile to carry with me in the mundane and in the not so.