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.

smoker’s cough

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It was a strange dream, full of symbolism – oppression, crossing the liminal, a need for sustenance, and a calling from other. There was a tightening of my chest from inhaling the cigarette smoke and the cough stayed with me long after the dream departed. There are truths being hidden and responsibilities that need to be tended to.. but also a warning of danger. I shared this dream with a few people, not knowing who.. and one did respond. She thought that maybe she had invaded it somehow. I thought, maybe.. but as much as she may have slipped into the dream, others may have slipped into the reading.

I pulled the cards out with the feeling one gets of visiting an old friend.. hello loves, I have missed you. The smell of incense that had permeated their wrapping over the years covered me in familiar welcome. I had waited some time before doing the reading and much had been brought to me in that time.. curiouser and curiouser, but down the rabbit hole I go. The question is not really what to do so much as it is what will be the price.. the price that lies snuggled, hiding within those hidden truths.

(from the wildwood)..

king of vessels, heron – greeting the dawn, often alone.. the guardian of many esoteric secrets, it is said to stand at the gateway between life and death.. the mentor.. the catalyst.. a network.. honesty.. integrity.. who is depending on your support? The profound depths of your character, once spurred into action, carry all before it..

four of vessels, boredom – the sickness of the soul.. lethargy, laziness.. locking an individual in a cycle of wasted energy.. there are many reasons for feeling disenchanted or trapped in life.. in the end it is from ourselves that the first sparks of momentum must emanate.. emotionally frozen or disconnected people become black holes of despair.. if you question the universe, the universe will answer.. nature abhors  a vacuum.

sixteen, the blasted oak – just as the universe has the power to create, so it also has the power to destroy.. on the human level we build our seemingly indestructible edifices of theory, technical endeavor, and civilization believing they are immovable and eternal.. we wrap ourselves in the trappings of power and position but in the end we own nothing.. all we truly have is what we have learned.. here the great forest oak is shattered by the power of the storm.. for those who have climbed the tree, the fall may be long.. just as the hanged man is caught in a state of divine sacrifice and linked to the threefold death, here in the blasted oak the tree is shaken and scarred.. likewise, the tower is shattered by the storm and believing in the illusion of material power can only end in spiritual isolation, stagnation, and collapse.. but even as we fall, the power that floods our senses with pain also cleanses and burns away the illusions and falsehoods. The essence of true strength and enduring spirit cannot be bought with gold or position or grandiose esoteric theory.

ten of bows, responsibility – the challenge of dealing with responsibility brings a need for inner fortitude, stamina, and determination.. the weight of the burden may be heavy and cumbersome but the task that has been handed to you may be vital for the greater good.. whether you volunteered for the task or it is thrust upon you, it is a time to accept responsibility.

seven of vessels, mourning – this is a time to honor what is dead and mourn for what has gone.. learn the lessons of letting go by offering thanks for cherished memories and being at peace with the past.. mourning begins the process of recovery after failure or bereavement.. the celebration of a completed journey and the beginning of a new one.

thirteen, the journey – the solitary horned skull of a reindeer lies in the forest, picked clean to the bone by a circling flock of ravens.. the tattered remains of fur and flesh cling to the bright bone and here and there traces of the living blood of life reminds us that all flesh returns to the earth from whence it came.. one great Raven sits beside it, the flesh of the reindeer in its beak.. as both guardian and guide, its unblinking eye is all-seeing and unafraid.. on one level, death does translate to a simple expression of change but however profound, extreme and cleansing that change may be, that simply does not deal with the core experience and meaning of this card.. death acts as a reminder to us of the transient nature of life.. as a metaphor for cyclic change, the journey is a required experience on the passage around the wheel.. it is a time to face the inevitable, to let the bones be laid bare and acknowledge the deepest aspects of your fears and desires. Let the threads of old slip from your fingers. 

seven of stones, healing (shadow card) – after physical or emotional sickness or injury, a time of inner rest and rejuvenation is required.. patient and peaceful healing comes from a spiritual source.. one of the deepest stages of healing and recovery after any emotional trauma or physical injury is forgiveness.. if the healing is from a relationship issue, we often hold onto the pain, mistakenly be leaving that it keeps us close to the source of that pain.. if you have acted with integrity and sincerity, there is no need for regret.. it is a waste of energy and healing focus.

 

what’s up buttercup.. er, stink bug

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I got up from the sofa where I was cat cuddling to find one underneath me and thought.. thats odd.. What is that?? I put him to safety outside. A few days later, I found one on the hearth.. I told the husband how weird it was that I had just found one of these not too long ago. Then we saw one crawling about while watching tv and over the next few weeks several more visited. I thought.. hmmmm, maybe we have a nest. The husband laughingly asked one day if I would be getting a stink bug tattoo (giving of the flesh, tattoos of those mine, and a story for another day).. I said absolutely, if he did indeed stick around and became one of mine. Then one afternoon of traveling about town one day, I came out of a store to find one in my car.. alright already, it was time to see what stink bug wanted.

Now, I am a tactile person, as I am sure I have mentioned.. Magpie may have left me but her need sickness is still very much a part of my soul. I like to have things in my little hands, things to hold and stroke.. things surrounding my person.. things to touch and look upon as I ponder. It is just a part of how I work. I have had this convo numerous times over the years and yes, one doesn’t need anything but oneself really for the work but I still find it helpful.. and I am okay with that.

So there I sat on the couch pondering.. no stink bug in hand because I had freed them all and debating how it was that I wanted to work. Just a few inches ahead came a teeny spider sliding down on it’s silk in front of me.. cute, I thought, as I went back to my musings. Suddenly she dropped down right in front of my eye. Yes, I peed a little. She then went back up.. back down.. back up.. well, you get the idea. I got the idea as well – time to get on with it.

I lay down by the hearth while the house was still quiet. The husband was not yet up and the cats had gone back to napping after the disturbance of my squeal. I didn’t pick up the cards. I didn’t light any candles or incense. I didn’t do any of the things I might normally do when working. I simply lay there with the image of him focused in my mind’s eye and reaching out with the curious thought.. “What’s up buttercup.. er, stink bug??” One simple phrase stuck in my head.. stay away. That’s all.. just the one phrase and I couldn’t shake it. Thank you so much vague-a-licious.. le sigh, I left an offering by the hearth in thanks and he hasn’t visited since.

Stink bugs are said to be able to show the connection between seemingly unrelated events. They also aid in clarifying dreamwork. Pay attention to your instincts when dealing with people and situations, there is something to be found in concealment. The scent and the shell.. it is there to camouflage the truth and protection can be found in your surroundings.