my thoughts were filled with Turtle Butt

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Muddied tones of green and brown, earth sliding into the river, and the slight impression of the circular.. my thoughts were filled with Turtle Butt. Let me explain.. Turtle Butt is my nickname for this amazing photo taken by my uber talented friend Cin and is one of the few non-birdy ones she has.. she’s a bit of a bird lady. When I think of her, I think of a tall white crane – full of grace and spiritual joy as she often appears as in my cards.

The photo itself was taken not too far from the place where I most often go to stick my feet in the dirt. It speaks to me not only of those earth to water places, but also of cycles. There is a certain perspective one gains when revisiting the same place in life from a different point along the path.. often I journey or revisit things in said near place. Turtle butt was the first piece I placed on my revisited earth altar.

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Nestled there, along with, is a jar of witches burrs and one of magnolia cones.. the latter collected from a local graveyard where I occasionally attend to the long forgotten. Sitting on a plate near the Greenman and Greenwoman imagery, I have a small plate containing a jeweled serpent with some rocks and stones.

Several of these rocks were gifted to me from Schatzi, another beautiful soul that I am lucky enough to be blessed with in my life. She smuggled them all the way back from Greece and each has its own story of place to tell. Schatzi, I am told, means treasure in German and she is that. I hope she realizes that.. and not just because she brought me the beautiful rocks.

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.

my body is a roadmap

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.. this is my homage to Caroline’s hard work and artistic talent, without her I would not have had my vision realized..

.. And not just the wrinkles (or the saggy skin, and don’t get me started on the old lady arms).. not just of my age or my delicious croneholio-ness.. but of my choices and of my spirituality.

My first tattoo was a small rose on my hip. I was eighteen years old and quite rebellious for a nerdy girl. It started out as a mark of being freed into adulthood, soon to embark on my newly married life.. one that turned pretty quickly. I am a survivor of domestic abuse and although I do not detail it much – I am very proud to be so. It is but a small part of who I am, and so my little rose became a reminder of the folly of giving up too much of oneself.

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I have added to it a crescent moon and a small crow for this freedom hard earned.. crow being the one mine who brings the hard lessons. The husband now has seen me through those 20 plus years of freedom and this not so new beginning has been reworked into another rose.. for a relationship true. A compass rose, which Caroline helped me to figure, and which I’ve come to think of as finding my way.

I had been asked by several about the amount of tattooing that I have undergone recently. I waited a good many years to be sure that I had the money, the time, and a good artist. Why these, why so many, why now.. for spirit, it was necessary, and I wanted to be sure. I didn’t wish to repeat the mistakes of my youth. Enter Caroline.. I wanted someone that I could trust – I don’t just shed my clothes for anyone. I also wanted them tied to my personal and my spirituality.. a giving of the flesh.

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I had actually started these a bit before.. the spine for my voice, a pentacle moon for my path, the dragonfly mine, and my first spirit animal – the white one on my chest. At that point came an unscheduled break due to finances and family.. followed by the discovery of my ancestry and the death of my father. I knew a mermaid would be next.. whose strong folklore calls to those ancestral lands. The last trip off with my father before the sickness took hold was to the ocean, he also loved the water. Caroline was the only one I’d trust for such an undertaking.. so eventually I made my way back.

Following the mermaid was Bear and the one wing. Bear is one of mine and ties closely to Walking Bear.. at least in my mind they intermingle at times. The one wing ties to my journey work and a specific set of workings, which brought to me dragonfly. My girls have since filtered out of my life and further on to their own (which is much the point), and the wing is there to remind me of all that I have learned. Spider, the weaver of paths, has been added.. as has my favorite (and most important) one..  the seer’s sigil and the spirit hare. Yes, there are those wrought with emotion, those covering past mistakes,  and those more beautifully intricate (again, a testimony of Caroline’s talent) but this one.. this one is my favorite as it is the completion of my pair. The white one and the brown. The one who holds the gate and the one who travels with me.

wormwood is my homegirl

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“I read once about a sacred place in South America built into a tree, or a tree who had become part of the place with time. I always see shafts of light cutting through Copal smoke, old red earth stone, and tree roots when I picture it. Reading your message, your shamble reminds me of that”.. these were the beautiful words given to me when I messaged Walking Bear about my idea to turn my entire workroom into an altar.

He said to me, sometime around Yule-ish of last, how my room was like one big shamble. This had been rattling around in my head ever since and with the area around my altar slowly changing, I decided it was to be so. I couldn’t shake it. I liked the idea of being surrounded by spirit (and those objects of) as opposed to sitting before them.

Lola surprised me with a visit that Saturday, luckily enough (maybe more so for me than for her), and I put her little bum to work helping me.. not all of a witch’s work is done in the spiritual after all and she needed the distraction. I am now well on my way to my witchtopian paradise. I hope that I at least inspired some movement.. however that is neither here nor there of my business and she must walk her own path. So we spent the rest of the day lounging on the new meditation bed speaking of things unrelated.

Later in the week, on a much warmer day, I finally ventured out into the garden with a big glass of wine. It was time to do the pruning and clearing out. It is always a painful task.. to rid oneself of the fallen and to brutally slice down those in need of fresh growth. This is the way of life and craft.

I lost my rosemary, sheared the sage, and was viciously attacked by the roses.. another good start. I saw a bit of mint poking about and the wormwood was thriving like crazy cakes. I’ve always had a good relationship with wormwood. I’ve yet to see the evil Melissa (the lemon balm that cares not for my boundaries) but there’s still time..

the movement of water

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(..a much belated post)

“When do you feel most at peace?”, Walking Bear asked me not so long ago. “When I am with spirit”, was my response. It is within me and without, and when I’m settled down in those liminal places (for me the forest, the ocean, the garden); is when I feel it the strongest. Maybe it’s just a matter of having that time to listen and these are the places I go to have that listen. I had been feeling a bit stagnant by the time he had arrived.. the driftwood he brought changed all that. I had not been getting out enough. As I ran my hands over it, I could almost smell the salt air.. and something stirred.

My altar this year has pretty much remained the same, except for the removal of the owl’s wing.. but the area around it has. I feel sure there is a lesson in there somewhere. I have my familiar plantlings, my significant branches, and now my driftwood. This wonderful little bit of tree, no longer held by its roots, had found its way to me.. and with it brought me some of its movement.

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Having been changed by the water’s ebb and flow, what is in a sense a death of its original form, it still retains some of its ancestry.. so along with the movement, it also brought me a feeling of home. Water was my first calling – there was something about the fluidity, the tempestuous sea, and those creatures of the deep that held me enthralled. I always feel its call, even when I’ve been away for too long.. and the driftwood being between water and earth, it was quickly mine. I feel it speak, much like I do Nelia.

This was sometime before Yule and I had been toying again with the idea of an altar dedicated to my witchy ancestors.. something I have had sporatically on my mind for a few years but that had never seen fruition. I really wanted to honor this connection. I set to the task within the next few days.. housing my bits of witchy goodness in one of those bottles where ships can be found. It is full of all things I associate with the craft.. roots, graveyard dirt from under my tree, herby things, a small shell, bits of spider; and a beautiful crow feather. I am planning to add a bit of moonstone in future. Earth, sea, sky.. and those that weave the web. I light a candle before it now every time I visit the altar. Since then came an addition to tribe, many ideas, an answer to my red eyed horse; and an insight into that elusive place I have revisited over and over in dreamland where I bury bones and explore places of living.. but that’s a story for another day.

reworking the bones

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I was standing at the counter discussing all manner of things when it hit me.. I needed to simplify these pieces. I had brought in my rabbit skin to be hennaed by the lovely Heron – a topic of much debate later as the skin had just not been cooperative, but then being one of mine I am not so sure why I expected it to be.

Heron does beautiful work (I’ve set in a couple of small pieces) and although my rabbit was a tough customer, I am thrilled with the results. It has a vintage-y worn in quality that makes the pelt feel comfortable to work with.. exactly what I would want in a tool. I know she stressed on it but I am hereby publicly claiming it the awesome.. so that’s that. I had brought my reading pieces along with so she could get an idea of how they would fall spatially.. and apparently they needed tweaking.

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I spent the evening moving pieces out.. the fox teeth and vertebrae, some fur, and various other bits. I also wound up adding in the bear vertebrae, a jay feather, and one particular stone that Blau had sent me before his passing. I don’t believe that I simplified so much as I reworked them but such is life. I did a quick throw just to get a feel and saw something quite personal in the reading.. a success after all.

In the case of how I read, I don’t have a specific meaning assigned and the pieces change with time, I have an old post here. Also some great collections and other posts on this type of divining can be found here, here, and here… I love searching for collection pictures, there are so many interesting ones out there. As a note of interest, I find that I only reach for these when I am seeking an answer for myself and not others.. the pieces being too tied to my personal.

the witch’s tree

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..a forest cord for a witchling friend.. a cord of in between places and the quiet speaking of the wood.. Alder cones, tiger’s eye, and fox bones..

It is said that the Alder King stands at the gate between the living and the dead. He is the one who guards and the one who appeases. He is the one who holds the gate.. if the gate is not opened, one cannot cross.. in or out. The Alder is a tree of transformation.. of hidden knowledge and a protective wood when used in dealing with those beyond.

I made this cord with the idea of duality and those in between places.. to journey, to dream, to walk with the spirits be they animal, plant, or other; to work with deity. To be a working witch, as I see it, one must enter these places at some point or fashion.

Tiger’s eye is often used for it’s monetary association. I chose it for it’s other qualities – inner calm, stability, and the strengthening of spirit. It is also protective. I wove the colors of the forest for it’s powerful quiet.. just the hushed whispering a of the land spirits and the roots of the trees anchored in the earth.

I don’t work with fox often, she is not one of mine. I have carried her with me when I needed calm. I have walked with her when I needed to see beyond my emotion.. being of logic, I find that not to be very often. I did recently use one of her leg bones throw a curse.. a curse to ride on her silent swiftness.

I tied in fox bone and claw so it could double as a fetiche.. cunning and swift. Fox is a great problem solver but she is also a trickster, so walk with her carefully.. keep your wits about you. She may lead you astray but in this she may very well do so to bring you a lesson. She holds the dark in her nature, shape shifting and stealthy. It is these abilities she has to lend to help you navigate.. have patience and persistence, she will reward you.

Fox lives in the border places.. waking conscious and deep sleep. It is in her solitude that you will learn what she has set out to bring to you. Open your eyes.. see things in a different light but don’t become too invisible.. you must pay attention to her subtleties..

 

the joy of cats

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Nope, ma.. this is my spot.. my wing.. mine..

I came home one day to a floor full of feathers in the workroom. This wee kittah is the wildest of the wild. She often reminds me of a lynx. Once, when working with bear, she was referred to as such by said.. or maybe that was thought..

When she was little, she had this teeny tiny turtle tail. Now it has grown to resemble more of a lemur tail. She also has these cute little black bear paws – dark as midnight on the bottom and quite the sharp. She also has a taste for bird wings.. hence the carnage of the day. She growled ferociously at me when I tried to remove the crow wing from her jaws of death… she got to keep it.

It seemed that it was time to put everything into jars. I resigned myself to another necessary altar adjustment. I collected up some of the feathers lying about. I put them in a small jar with grandmother crow’s skull. I housed the rabbit skeleton in a larger jar with some river rock from the garden. I moved a bit of other things around and pieced back together a workable arrangement. I thought of hanging owl up high a bit.. how far can she jump, I pondered.  I may have to think on that one a bit. Then I lit the sage.

I kept the lynx’s favorite spot open. I’m pretty sure that she would clear it if I decided to get smart about putting anything in her way. She is the dominant one here.. again, wild as the wind but worth all the trouble.

creative necessity

 

imageDuring one particularly intense working a month or so ago, some oil escaped its confines and left a horrifying mar on my buckskin. Now, I realize as a working witch that these things are bound to happen, but it still hurt my feelings. I finally had to make peace and chalk it up to part of the payment.. sacrifices must me made.

Still, that did not stop me from trying every googley trick.. a valiant but useless effort. I only succeeded in making it look more like an oily eyeball shaped distraction.. but the idea of the eye stayed with me. I finally decided to make the best (after sulking over a cup of tea) and take my fellow hedger up on her offer to use her pigments. Even after the forever long it took me to comb through inspiration and decide, it was still a nerve wracking task.

She had made this offer before, when I was using the skin for my wild reading pieces, but I declined wanting to leave it plain. I was glad she still had some extra. I knew I wanted the eye red.. blooded (I really liked the way Kayla did hers and I worked the red in like she did hers, she loves me though so I don’t think she’ll sugar my gas tank anytime soon).. a seer’s eye because that’s what I am. I wanted a triple moon, a stang, roots, and a spiral because all held something personal to me.

It took quite a bit of time to put it all together but then I came across this sigil of a fish, and inspiration struck. I liked the idea of the spiral fish (I just wanted it set a bit different), connecting my water element. I sketched in the roots at the bottom for earth and the underworld. Roots, I’ve mentioned, are very important in my practice and I also added in the keys to open all sorts of things.

the protected body

“I leave my body, each time knowing that there is a chance I might not make it back.”

— Sarah Anne Lawless, For Fear of Flying

“How much of this was ‘real’? I had enough anglo blood in my veins to worry about this a moment on my way down the hill. But I quickly decided, what difference would it make if the vision were ‘real’? Would its power be diminished if it were not? And by what means could I quantify its reality?”

— Lewis Mehl-Madrona, M.D., Coyote Medicine

Yes, exactly (I feel like I’ve been using that phrase a lot here lately).

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I have been reading a lot on journey work, the fear that holds one back, and the small death of soul flight. The choice and the being taken. Yes, those who walk this path don’t always get the choice. So, why? That is the question I pondered post readings, and I am not so sure there is a simple answer. Yes, some do so for knowledge, of course.. but there is also service, calling, and/or an exchange of sorts. For me, personally, I would have to say that it is just so much a part of who I am spiritually. It is who I was before I knew it was.. and when I figured it, it was like a door unlocked. It was like coming home. I used to think anyone could work journey, now sometimes I wonder if that is so. Maybe it is like any other, some are inclined and some or not. Of course, one wouldn’t know that until they tried. Sometimes I can feel people who are more so. It’s like the spirits whisper around them.. and often they find their way to me somehow or other. Which brings me to the fear and often I am asked about it.. the fear that holds one back.. and it always comes back to that why. Why still, if given the choice, do you choose to do it.. knowing there are dangers? My answer has to be simply this.. why would I want to practice what for me would be an empty spiritual?

Of course, there are protections..protections to put on the body and those to carry with you. I would be the first to admit that I am not the best at active protections. I have a good relationship with those that I work with and mostly I am secure in that. I do have, however, a hedge bag that I have used for as long as I have actively journeyed and something protective on hand bedside for as long as I realized that I was being pulled in my sleep. My hedge bag is tethered to my hedge jar as mentioned in previous, and it has been altered very little over the past few years. Recently, that had all changed.. my altar had a major shift, much was moving about in relation to those I worked with, and my jar had quite an overhaul. The bag, of course, needed to follow.

It took me a bit longer to get to it than I would have liked with life spending much of it’s time on interrupt, but I finally felt time was ready. I laid out all those things previous.. the herbs, feather, and bone.. bits of this and pieces of that. I spread them all out and saged, occasionally getting up to bring things to the table. I spent much time feeling about the items and finally was able to put the bag back together, much simplified. A pinch of crossing herbs, the bear root, and the piece of spider made their way back in. I added a bit of mandrake root gifted to me by Heron some time ago.. she must’ve known. I have always been attracted to roots of all kinds.. even those some would consider more mundane but mandrake has been very important in my journeys of late and so it was perfect. The cactus spine and a beachcombed holey shell went next. I switched my rabbit fur bag for a much smaller deerskin bag.. it just felt needed. I added a rabbit bone, crow and jay feather to the fringe and called it done.