the old man, the alligator, and the river

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The old man flew around me in a rush of spirit, looking almost as if locked in a silent scream.. his face starting to change rapidly as I neared the end of the moss covered bridge. I expected to see Baba as I stepped into the coolness of the burrow but all I saw were tunnels in the dim light. I realized that the white one was absent as well.. curiouser and curiouser.

I had the impression of a woman outside of my body, seen but not seen. I settled down. The burrow dissipated as the night sky took me.. inky black and dotted with stars. The alligator was swimming in its darkness. We kept company for awhile.. too long it seemed, and thought passed by to impart the hope that Lola would bring me out if necessary.

Eventually though, I heard the call and began to try to pull myself away. Coming back was like fighting an ocean current, I could feel the pull but I am strong. I told them no, that I could not stay.. I have much to do. My eyes snapped open and I knew instantly who the old man was.. after all, I had been seeing him off and on all weekend.

We left for New Orleans not far past our Lugh with the others. I had finally released the red cord binding and the timing was perfect. Lola and I said our goodbyes with promises of detailed notes.. we were looking out to this trip in hopes it would bring us something, and it did not disappoint.

We explored the city’s heartbeat and wound our way down the Mississippi during our first days there. I met a beautiful bearded man who introduced me to someone of great influence and quite possibly may have set my spirit onto a shift in movement.. it remains to be seen (or unseen?), and maybe there will be a story for another day.  I do so wish I’d given him (said bearded man) my contact information, I miss him already.

We did get to spend some time later in conversation.. but I remember only a sense of place and the river. This sense of place filtered once again through me later during one of his classes. We ran into his friend many times over that weekend and Lola remarked on the sense of kindred. I realized later that sense of solitude in his presence.

One night I saw the old man in a reader on the street and we ventured out to hear him tell.. cards for me and Lola’s palm. One night La Bella Luna Dae and I texted until we fell asleep all things spirit. One night we drifted down the Mississippi making new. On the last night, Lola and I spent our time together by the pool having our traditional post spiritual grocery store feast. We found so much to carry back.. so much, but for me it was the sharing of this with those that I love, the new friendships forged, the old man, the alligator, and the river.

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choices, consequences, and shadow

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I mixed the oil with the water, said my goodbyes, and dropped him in. He flailed for just a few seconds before settling to the bottom of the jar.. that’s when I gave him the lethal dose. Later that evening we lit the candles and left his little fishy spirit an offering of his favorite worms.. my thoughts were simply that I had done this.

I killed the smallest member of my family, this was several days ago now. I had not been diligent in his care of late. Sickness took him due to my neglect, and I could no longer watch him suffer. The responsibility was mine, and so this guilt joins my shadow.. which has been knocking hard at my door of late.

In this said late shadow lurks family, what that means to me, and spider’s insistence that a few things be dealt with. I have been winding through some memories (and lack there) of childhood trauma.. of which is mine and not open for discussion. Nonetheless, it brought with it the point of what I choose to consider family.. how much does one forgive and what then do we do with all those deeply embedded rotting bits asking to be examined? Do we make some kind of peace within ourselves? How about all the ripples said things have made in result? Do we release those as well? The answers are most personal.

Looking at my notes of what of those bits I could remember of that time, I can say it was definitely not filled with light.. at least not in regards to my biological ties. It was very clear to me that if it had not been for the support of my childhood friend and her family, things would not have turned out so well. In my head, her mom is my mom.. her sister my sister.. and she also my sister. I forever will consider them so and even though I stepped away later in life, I know that they are the reason I made it into adulthood in one or three pieces.

Do I regret my neglect and loss of those I consider my true family? Some days very much so.. but like the loss of my dear little one, that rests firmly on my shoulders as well. Still, spirit has its reasons.. choices, consequences, and shadow.

As I grow older, I now try to take that lesson with me and be much more responsible in maintaining my relationships close. I have new sisters and brothers who I walk my path with and they have become my new family.. and I am reminded. I might not always succeed, but I do my best. As for my surrogate family long lost.. I hope they realize that they saved me from the great terrible and that I will always be here if they have need. Most importantly, I hope they know the depth of my appreciation for having had them in my life and that I love them.

 

There is no birth of consciousness without pain.
–Carl Jung

Notes on shadow:

Like a storm rising up suddenly with brute force, one little dream became a heavy downpour of messages beating at me with fat needley droplets of wet suffering.. that would be my description of my current shadow work. Dramatic much, you ask? Not this time.. truly this time is a tough go.. and yes, I made up a word. It brought up a good discussion, however, at the last witch and wine.. which I will try to shorthand here (if not for anything else, then at least for my own reference) –

What is shadow? The shadow is basically those hidden ugly(?) bits of self that get pushed away into exile.. trapped painful emotions from trauma, parts of ourselves we find that are not valued, feelings we were taught not to embrace, etc. These things, lurking about where they may not be consciously acknowledged, have bearing on our lives. They can influence our choices or reactions, make us feel unworthy, separate us from a sense of wholeness, and all sorts of lovely things. Even considering all of this, I find that I still tend to agree with Jung in that the shadow holds gifts.. gifts of learning and wisdom if we choose to work with it in an honest fashion.

And shadow work? Shadow work is an act of going inward and working on/with those unpleasant things be it for release or reconciliation.. to weave those bits back to become whole. Sometimes we take an active step and choose the work, such as honoring the passing of a loved one at Samhain. Sometimes that bitch just sneaks up on you bringing with it all sorts of fun stuff (not). It is a decision of self how you choose to approach shadow work, be it through active imagery, dream work, meditation, friend support, therapy, etc. One’s avenue of working varies as greatly as the nature of shadow, and it’s important to work in a manner that works for you.

 

 

the phooka

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I had been seeing spirits all weekend, one in particular had just brushed against me the morning after it all.. misty and joyously child like. After all the goings on, I wondered if it had something to do with that past weekend but at the time hadn’t thought to question it.. the time had passed. It was tough going that weekend and at one point I found that I was having to ask myself that all important question, “If I was going to stash a body, where would I put it?” As luck would have it (and I do mean luck), everything turned out fine. Not long past when thought had posed the question, the rest of the witchlings had arrived and all fears were put to rest.. there were tearful assurances, a bit of anger unable to be released, and life started its slow move back into normal.

What did stick in my mind were two things – should I have paid more heed to the seemingly normal inquiry and that I’d seen what I thought was the devil earlier that week. I didn’t pay him much mind either.. that horned figure peering out at me from the living room window one morning.. but maybe I should have.

The night of the happening (a story not mine to tell), I was at a street fair getting my tarot cards read by a local witch. In my mind the question rested firmly on career but as I was taking my leave, she inquired about my friend.. had I talked to her recently? I said yes, of course, I talked to her every day. We exchanged a bit more conversation and I moved on, but I didn’t call. Instead, I received a call that next day and the devil did cross my mind then.

I told my friend much later of him. I use the term “him” lightly.. the image seen having seemed somewhat familiar- dark with long curling horns and very Froudish. I realized I had come across said image the day of while searching the witch cabinet for birthday wrappings for another. It had crossed my mind even then what I’d glimpsed peering out at me.. Phooka, it turns out.

The Phooka (also puca, meaning “ghost”) is an Irish goblin.. his roots in Scandinavia, I read, before finding his way to Wales and Ireland. He is said to be an air fae who never enters human homes.. except in Wales where it is reported that they sneak in through the chimneys Santa Claus style.

They are thought to be both a bringer of good and of bad fortune, who appear in forms both terrifying as well as pleasing.. often as a horse or a goat (among others) but always covered in dark fur. They have been known to lead people away from harm, albeit on a very wild ride through the brambles, only to dump them into the mire – chuckling as they gallop away. All things considered, I think that maybe next time I shall pay him better attention.

 

from the distance, I am standing

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There is a brick building facing a street and I am viewing it from the distance. I find myself by the water.. it’s still body surrounded by moss laden trees. Something is gliding along in the murky depths but I cannot see it.. gator, I think. I can feel its movement. I am barefoot in a loose white shift.. feet sinking into the muddy bank.

I find myself entering a shop.. is this the brick building? The girl behind the glass counter has long heavy dark hair and her face is painted like a sugar skull. I see an impression of the stag’s horns coming from her head and his skull flashes beneath her skin. She is of the old ones. The room is dark and hazy. I can smell Baba behind the fuchsia curtain that closes off a further room. She smells of warmth and food.. and a bit of death. I can hear her humming.

I am back at the water’s edge, crouching in the mud. It is sticky and humid. I can still feel the creature’s movement just underneath the surface. He wants me to join him. Bear is peering out from the trees across the way. Her eyes catch in the light and I can see them even from this distance. The mud smells like decay but I do not move. She is waiting for me to decide.

I am once again standing in the shop, covered with mud and I stink. My hair is dirty and there are bloody tears moving down my face mixing with the mud. I still cannot see Baba but she whispers to me in layers.. welcome home.. this is your home.. come home.

I had gotten up really early that morning to join the quiet. It was raining softly outside and so I opened up the workroom door to the garden while I smudged. I applied the ointment, lit the candles, and set the incense to smoke. I cradled bear’s skull in my lap, running my hands here and there over her while I settled my breath. My fingers danced over her nasal cavity and up her forehead. I stroked her there for awhile, whispering things I cannot remember. I explored her eye sockets and her remaining teeth. I noticed how the base of her skull was still slightly greasy, even after all this time.. and I continued to whisper to her.

The journey was not as usual. There was no slow methodical work towards where I was trying to go. I did not see the brown one or the white. I was breathing and stroking.. stroking and whispering.. and then I was just there gazing at the brick building full of windows. After I was done, I left offerings for those mine and the old ones. Then I left a something extra for bear and went to spend a few hours working in the garden.. and I brought the blackened coneflowers in for Baba.

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.. this was some time ago last year and I have meant to post it many times but life and other found me putting it off. It was to be my last belated post of the year but seems to have found itself to be the post of the start of a new one.. funny that. So much has passed since and although I seemed to have put my journey work to the side for the now, I find myself quite busy. I have lost and gained so many friendships over this past year and greatly deepened some existing ones. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

My tribe is yet again evolving and I have even joined in on a new group.. something I am quite excited to see the evolution of. It has been a long time. Lola and I continue to walk together in path and that relationship has brought so much to me. I gained a new name and cemented a relationship with a brother of path.. recognizing in spirit something we already knew. This I will carry with me always.

The solstice came with some work still needed and a deer jaw tied in silence. I spent the holidays surrounded by old friends. I caught a fleeting glimse of the shadow man and dipped my wrinkly toes into a few new things.. something I plan to carry forward into the coming year.

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.

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.

 

 

 

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 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.

 

i heard our city humming

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** a well belated post..

I stood in the downtown for forty-five minutes without moving, I wanted to feel the stillness.. this from the Raven. The circumstances around this are not mine to share but it did bring to mind a post from the lovely Ivy and Wine on silence. I kept thinking about this rabbit downtown. I love that damn thing. Normally when I’m seeking a quietening, I put my feet in the dirt.. not this time. This time I ventured downtown. I slipped off my shoes and sat in silence under the rabbit. I listened. I inhaled. I felt. I spent some concentrated time witching in my little city.

I heard the hum of traffic and the murmurs of passing conversations.. sometimes the odd snippet of a raised voice. I heard the rabble of the shop doors. I drew in the scents of the many foods lingering in the air from the local eateries. I felt the warmth of the concrete underneath my feet where the sun had warmed it and that contrast to the cold brick against my back. I did a simple tree meditation.

I know that I’ve spoken of the city trees and the manicured places.. the seeming constraint of their barriers and the difficulty of finding a bit of wild when you are city bound. I often wonder if the trees are crying out at the injustice of being placed in such a state. Here is the thing though – they survive and in being placed so, they smooth out the concrete’s rough edges. They bring a sense of well being.. or at least they do to me.

I imagined my little body as a tree.. set in this little space and flanked by all the hardness of the buildings. Humans were moving about around me.. often not even taking notice. I was a little being unseen. I imagined reaching out, stretching toward the sky, and basking in the sunlight. I pulled in that air moving through the surrounding streets. I imagined my roots stretching deep within the earth beneath my confines.. spreading far beneath those buildings.. holding me steady and giving me strength. I felt the movement of all that was thriving there in the slow bustle.. not the hard pulse that I would imagine a larger city to have but the gentler steadfast humming that is our little city.

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.