underworld reflections

bonesclean

That day was an exercise on underworld and shadow. We paired off to revisit our last underworld experiences – shadows some of us were still working through, and in some cases we found ourselves baring our souls. Many of us were faced with strangers and yet, thought crept in.. were they truly? Spirit had brought us all there for a reason.. who’s to say.. who’s to say..

I was thankful to be paired with a beloved witchling that I had already shared some bonding with, although I wasn’t sure if that made such truths better or not so.. but at least a bit more comfortable for laying my bits of shadow and bone bare. Thought popped in of my journey card image and of the raven picking at the painful meaty bits still clinging to said bone.. and that’s exactly how I felt.

We spoke of shame, of fear, of missteps and of regret.. all those things one has lurking about in shadow still in need of some work. I could have skirted around and picked something easy, but I chose to pull no punches. I laid out my most ugly bits, tinged with regret in a sense, but not necessarily in the way one would expect. There was guilt in there but mostly a sense of failure.

So much had passed and those choices were made in what seemed another lifetime.. but the lessons were needed. For me, I think, it was the lingering shame and the feeling of inadequacy to be found in my failing.. forgiving oneself is really the hardest. I think it is important to acknowledge to those who walk the path with you, that even those of us who have walked a long time still make said missteps large and small. We are but human and sometimes our best isn’t always something great.. it is just all that we can do in that moment.. and that is okay.

Sitting across, baring my immense horrible, I wondered how they saw me now. Did they find me less of a person in my inadequacies? Was I this broken thing – tarnished and pitted? Was I unworthy? Was I no longer the same person in their mind? Was I going to lose this fledgling friendship because I allowed them to see those ugly bits? Were they having the same thoughts in reverse? It’s a very scary thing to allow one so close.. terrifying.

As Wendy wove through her song “Rewind”, it really sank in.. yes, we all would like to have that magical rewind button. We all have times when we feel fucked up and blind.. and that’s okay, at least for me. It’s all part of the journey and we’re allowed.

Looking across from my side, I saw a brave and beautiful soul scorched by the fire of past hurts.. vulnerable and yet backed with an extraodinary quiet strength just finding its way to the fore. I saw the struggle to be open warring with the need to withdrawal – something that I very much relate to. They were brilliantly equisite, even in the not-so-comfortable soft bits they were still adjusting to.. and in that too, there lay such beauty.. and I loved them all the more.

As I placed my written release in the cauldron dirt, I decided the time for hanging on was through. I was going to allow myself to let go of that burden, that shame. I was going to work towards self-forgiveness and move forward.. I hope they chose to do the same.

conversations with ivy

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I am sure she felt a little like I wasn’t paying attention that night as I wove the binding cords and fixed the vessel to be passed on to those who needed, but I was.. I always do in such matters. Conversation flitted through many things, as it often does, but Baba found her way in. We were discussing the making of sacred space and thought poked at me that I really needed to do better.

Later in the week or so, I listened to a lady speak of working with Baba.. how it was good for her to have her own space, favored offerings, and how she is often of threes. I thought of Baba’s layered whisperings. The lady mentioned returning to find the rum depleted and the food dull of color.. and Baba’s love of tobacco.

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I spent a few weeks slowly moving Baba’s area to a larger space and making it more hers. If we were going to be spending a greater amount of time together, I wanted it to be something more. I began the work. I cleared off what used to be the main altar and began collecting the pieces.. crow’s wing, birch branches, and the image of old woman death.. Baba always being the old woman in my dealings.

I dedicated the space to her on the dark moon before all Hallows when experiences that I choose not to share assured me that the boundaries were indeed blurred. I fed her over three nights and on the final one, I shared a smaller meal and the tobacco brought to me by Walking Bear. I had participated in a dumb supper with some of my closest earlier that evening and time was short.

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The following weekend, my fellow witchlings helped me dress the burrs and magnolia cones in rosemary and spirit calling herbs. These were to be left in the graveyard the next day on walkabout with Cin. I try to do this offering a couple of times a year in remembrance of those long forgotten dead.

For me Baba often does work in threes, so I felt it no coincidence to have celebrated in such.. the making of space, the dumb supper, and finally a trip to the graveyard to leave the offerings as I entered this turn of the wheel with a stronger dedication to Baba.

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.

 

don’t forget your stick..

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i saw three ravens yesterday

one stayed behind

two flew away

which one remained

i cannot say

one stayed behind

two flew away

long before the mystery of time

i dived and found a creature of the sea

she stole upon me from behind

and swam away ahead of me

— Wendy Rule

“Don’t forget your stick”, Ivy said to me as we were heading from our trek. We had ventured out to the place where I first met crow so that I could leave my spring offering. I chanted the Raven Song as silently as I could so as not to harm Ivy with my (lack of a) singing voice. I love Wendy Rule and this song is one I always associate with this particular place – where the earth meets the water and when crow first came into my spiritual. I had pushed Nelia into the ground earlier, lit the incense, and sent my dried flowers off to drift down the river.

Nelia, Nelia, my dearest one.. why are you trying to escape me? Perhaps she wanted to remind me to pull my head out of the clouds and pay attention. Maybe I had not been paying her enough? She’s pulled this trick before and managed to stay behind. I had to get the fiery one to break into the park and retrieve her. Possibly she just wanted to run off with Ivy. If you remember, Nelia is of the fire and if I remember (correctly).. so is Ivy. Therefore, I imagine them as sort of kindred. Sorry sweets, you are one of mine and I am keeping you with me.. I took her home and cleaned her off. I saged her and spent some time with her before putting her back in my workroom.

Mesquite stands between the elements of water and earth. Nelia was singed in wildfire and smoke. She embodies not only those elements of mine at her heart but all including spirit because she survived those fires and found her way to me. Her magic is in healing, journeying in dreams, purification, and protection. It is a wood for nurturing and guiding. It is often added to ritual fires for such. I read that the Native Americans of the desert regions in Arizona and California utilized all parts of the tree.. so it is known as the tree of life in some areas. For me, she is pushed into the earth to connect the three realms – land, sea, and sky.

no wisdom leaves the world

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Death had come again in life.. life is death, death is life.. and it seems many around me kept bringing it up. Conversations had been flitting about my little sphere on the fear, the process, the use of graveyard dirt in spirit work, spirit work in general.. many things. My dreams were full of the dead.. bloated white and trapped beneath still waters grasping out for me. It wasn’t long after these dreams that I found the notes on guideposts.. very vague but seemingly important to the niggly part of my brain. What were these guideposts exactly? And written alongside – “no wisdom leaves the world”. I had not jotted the source or even any real detail, but for some reason the notes brought to mind my past pledge and a monument in that graveyard. I felt a revisit was needed.

When we pass and our bodies are laid to rest, they become one with the land.. as do all things. The rain washes over and through as it carries on and so goes the journey. We become part of all that is. “No wisdom leaves the world”.. it is why I walk in sacred places with bare feet, why I touch and whisper with the plants, why I scry in rivers and commune with the ocean, why I call upon the nature spirits.. the knowledge is there, we just have to listen. It is still within the land and still within us.

And the revisit? My fellow hedger and I trekked out there a few weekends ago. I again stopped at the gate to request passage before heading to the monument that I felt surely must be tied to these notes of guideposts. I was certain that there was some great reason for all of these things brought. I knelt and asked for direction before finding my way to several stones nestled beneath a tree. I paid for some dirt for use in later working, then I knicked some bits of tree and moss.

I was unsure of which had called, those whose bodies rested or the nature spirits they lay beneath.. or even if it mattered being so intermingled. Kneeling there with my hands thrust in the dirt while the ants fed on me I got a sense of, well.. nothing. There was just a great feeling of quiet and of needing the quiet, for whatever sense that makes. I left some of rabbit tied with red thread and an offering of whisky. I would work with the gathered bits later.

day of the dandelions

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“Are you in love with someone else?”, he asked me once just recently.. um, it’s been over 18 years, I think you’re stuck with me. “I miss when it was just you and me”.. it hadn’t been just us in quite some time. Such are the conversations of a long term relationship. I find that I get irrationally irritated sometimes.. I am not the best wife.

The day of the dandelions was one of those times. I had this big romantic notion in my head (you know how you get those), something about bonding and what’s more romantic than picking flowers, right? Silly girlie notions, thought logical Morgan. . but I was determined I was going to make us some sweet bread anyhow. It was a hard sell but he was a trooper.. even with the concerns over citified dandelions.

“We should find a meadow somewhere”.. um, a meadow of dandelions? In the city? There really isn’t much past tobacco and cotton here. “You are walking too close to the road, let’s walk back a ways”.. again, I find myself disregarding. I like to walk the woods alone, this drives him nuts as well. “You left your shoes (heavy sigh)”.. he lovingly brings me my shoes I left who knows how far back.

I wound up taking some really good pictures (my constant camera clicking a source of irritation for him, by the by) and harvesting a ton of flowers from our little neighborhood. As we were walking back, he took my hand and said, “I had this horrible vision of you getting squashed by a car”. As we held hands I realized, he wasn’t trying to fuss, he just wasn’t willing to risk what he held dear.

Sweet Dandelion Bread

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1 cup dandelion blossoms (green sepals/leaves removed)
1/4 cup oil
4 Tablespoons honey
1 egg
1 1/2 cups milk
Combine dry ingredients in large bowl, including petals making sure to separate clumps of petals. In separate bowl mix together milk, honey, oil beaten egg. Add liquid to dry mix. Batter should be fairly wet and lumpy. Pour into buttered bread tin or muffin tin. Bake 400F. For muffins 20-25 min, bread for bread up to twice as long. (recipe courtesy of eatyourgreens.com)

the turtle’s crossing

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The turtle totem wisdom teaches us about walking our path in peace and sticking to it with determination and serenity. Slow moving on earth, yet also incredibly fast and agile in water, those who have the turtle as totem or spirit animal may be encouraged to take a break in their busy lives and look around or within themselves for more grounded, long-lasting solutions. Traditionally, the turtle is symbolic of the way of peace, whether it’s inviting us to cultivate peace of mind or a peaceful relationship with our environment. – Elena Harris

One Saturday later, on walkabout with my science minded friend, I found a feather and a baculum.. the latter amusing because of what we were discussing at the time. Amongst the talk of the comings and goings of life, the almost stormy weather eased away our stressors a bit. It was a day much needed. A turtle crossed our path.. for a second I thought of him and of a love enduring.

I went home, back to the garden, and did some much needed trimming. My newly planted belladonna was perking up but I think the basil may not survive the damage of that last cold night. The hawthorn is still leafing out. It has these teeny little thorns. Everything is on the cusp of explosion and I am anticipating what the warm will bring.

That following Sunday, a day of doing what one normally does, he wrapped his arms around me and said that he was thankful to have me in his life. It is in these quieter moments that one realizes what all the work is for.. and what happiness can be if you’re willing to do that work. After I fell asleep that night, instead of waking me, he folded the laundry and I felt that my little realm was back on its way to perfection.

cleansing winds

 

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Earlier in my day of sojourn, I laid to rest my bundle at the graveyard. Walking Bear and I had to sneak in and therefore had the place all to ourselves for a bit. I tried to be quick, speaking briefly at my grave and collecting some dirt for later use before rejoining him. We had many good talks but foremost in my mind was sitting beside him that day under the grave trees. He told me of the prayer flag that he had left there for me during my dad’s time. It touched my heart. I can only hope that I bring to him a fraction of what he brings into my life. He is a good friend.. strong in spirit and kind.

Several cards were brought to me there, although I was really only trying to pull one.. instruction, healing, ecstasy, and the Knight of Vessels – eel in shadow. When I saw this last one, I had the thought “hard swim”. It was a card that I had never pulled before. In the wildwood deck it states “..the eel is a great purveyor of wisdom and has a reputation as a protector.. the eel swims through water where weed and cresses drift.. embarking on a quest of personal revelation, your vision leads you onward.. a coming together, seduction, conquest, compliance..” Past that we visited the place of the breathing trees, a new adventure for me and then went on to do some beachcombing. Walking Bear asked if I wanted to stick my feet in the water and I told him no. I would have wanted to jump in and besides, the wind from our walkabout earlier had already provided my cleansing.

**This is a belated posting, as I have been busy with life and catching up with what of my girls that I can. The equinox was spent with my lovely fellow hedger and chocolate bunnies, but more on that later.. and I promise some gratuitous cute baby animal shots..

the breathing trees

imageThere were places of immense chatter and places of great silence as we walked amongst the trees that day. I dipped my feet in the estuary’s shallows and did my best to avoid the tiny purple cacti that seemed to be stalking me. I saw some of the most beautiful trees that I had ever seen in this place. Walking Bear and I climbed a few. It seemed as though I could feel them breathe as I ran my hands over their moss covered bark. I picked up one of the prickly purples to use in my hedge bag and left feeling very renewed.

a trio of crows and too much snow

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“I believe that is why I felt so many little spirits at your altar. Gathered like little bird minds flying about. Gathering around you in support of what was coming. They went with you there, I am certain”.. these were the words given to me the day before the funeral.. the day the three crows came to visit. Before we left, I had had a terrible nightmare and I was worried that I wouldn’t make it in time, but I did. It was so much not my dad, that skeletal form lying there gasping for air in that bed. He was past talking but he cried as we all gathered around him. That was the first and the last time I was to see my father cry.. he went very early that arrival morning. I spent what few minutes of quiet time I could past that out on the snowy porch where he used to take his coffee and cigarette. He was so tired and so tired of being tired in those last months before the cancer had set in deep.

It’s funny the things that run through your mind.. the little things that didn’t seem important at the time of life. I thought of the teddy bear I had in my closet still that he had bought me as a child.. years before I had gotten to know the man he was. I thought of how he always wore old jeans and well worn button downs. I don’t think I had ever seen him dressed up. I always thought he looked a little like a skinny Santa. I thought of the seashell mobile hanging in my bathroom that we argued over.. how I didn’t want him to spend the money. It was from one of our few ocean trips. He loved the ocean as much as I and we tried to make at least one trip whenever he visited. I will always regret that we had not made it there that one last time. When everything was all done and set away, I spent one last evening out there with a cup of coffee and a lit candle. Tomorrow, the everyday awaits and I am still not sure that I am ready.