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.

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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.

re-defining the wheel

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

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

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

 

 

notes on the red meal

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

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

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

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

Northwest to Southeast – for the spirits

Northeast to Southwest – for the good folk

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

a buddhist, a scientist, and a witch walk into a garden..

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to the waters beyond

stars and creation

the air that is my breath

and the light of my soul

All were saged and the old ones called, offerings were laid in honor of all life before and all life continuing.. tea, wine, and honeyed milk. An offering was laid for the fae, those wild nature spirits.. to the waters beyond, flowered water was poured to the west.. to the stars and creation, fragrant rose petals were laid in the north.. to the air that is my breath, the incense was set to smoke in the east.. and the light of my soul, candles were set to float- one for each of us in the south. We lit fire to the petition and sat down for a Beltane feast, wine, and good conversation.

I was going to title this “the cycles of creation”. I’ve been watching The Story of God with Morgan Freeman and though I generally do not consider myself religiously inclined in the mainstream sense, it is fast becoming one of my favorite shows. In the last episode before Bel, there was a bit about the Hindu creation theory. It talks about how the Hindu see things in cycles of creation, not to solve the riddle of creation that happened long ago but to give thanks to the forces that allow us to be here and that continue to sustain us.. including the river Ganges. In the artist ritual that takes place on the banks of the Ganges, seven priests offer all the elements to the Goddess Ganga – water, air, earth, and light.. the light that represents all of our souls. People gather at the rivers edge on which they place the light of their own souls, in the form of a lit vessel, to float to out and bring that which will be good for them.. a great river that gives life to all of its people. At the end of the episode, Morgan speaks to the hope of togetherness and this became the inspiration for my celebration.

Lately in my mundane there has been much talk about discord in community. I try not to be party to such things, in my realm of community I do my best to honor all. I think my tendency to pull from many different paths sometimes is a reflection of that and I am in love with how he chose to end the segment – “It is my fervent hope that people will open their hearts and minds and see that our beliefs don’t have to divide us, they have the power to unite us.. to allow us together to achieve remarkable things. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.”

 

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.

what to do

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I was constantly running a little late or a little early this season. The season itself just didn’t feel like the season and I seem to be completely thrown off. I made it to the altar quite past the Yuletide but then again, as you know, I never seem to be good at keeping schedules. I finally just snuck off to sit in some quiet one off day of no particular consequence amongst all the goings on. My brain was full and I’d had a sense of being under fire but no sense of where it was coming from.. I just wanted to take a breath.

Hello my lovelies.. yes, I know it has been awhile and I find myself heavy of mind..

I lit the room full of candles, making my amends for the long absence, and then I laid out my many offerings – whiskey, herbs, Florida water. Then I just sat in the silence for a bit.. what to do, what to do. I needed to sort out my thoughts and this odd unexplained feeling of the impending before I formed the question. I idly stroked Mother Bear, blowing the incense smoke in her direction. I had the random thought that owl had slipped me again.

Something is being put to my direction, I can feel it.. like a quiet stabbing. I just don’t know,  or maybe I’d just had enough festivities and was too tired to sort it. I felt a stirring, and so I lay the cards..

From the Wildwood Tarot..

Five of arrows, frustration..a goat with long curving horns and a wildly tangled coat leaps upward into the sky.. around it are four arrows, none of which strike it.. unfocused energy leads to the archer releasing inaccurate arrows or lashing out in an uncontrolled manner and missing the target.. if others are attempting to cause distractions, you will only feed their ego and help their cause by reacting and acknowledging their efforts.. take a deep breath and steady your mind.. see the futility of games played against you and go about your business.. frustration is ungrounded energy..

Am I the goat or the archer.. or maybe I am both??

King of stones, wolf.. comfortable in the dark and cold of winter, it was seen as the guardian of the dead on their journey through the night to the otherworld.. love of the natural world guides much of what you do.. security brings pleasure.. cocoon yourself away from outside influences..

I was getting distracted again.. falsely greener grass and somethings shiny.. but they are not true, or not my true I should say..

The Ancestor, placed at the nexus point between the passing winter and the coming spring.. the mornng is clear and frosty with the first glimmer of dawn shimmering on the horizon where the new moon hangs with the morning star, representing a new day and a reawakened soul.. the trees act as a reminder to follow the path..

I know what I need to do.. Bear has been whispering it all this time..

And in shadow, the Ace of Stones.. the labyrinth..

This card reminds me so much of a specific person that it is hard to keep it separate in my mind.. is it representative of them or am I just making that association from a snapshot in time.. the spirits seen that day and what potential could be or could be lost.. I am not the one to say.. that path is not mine to choose..

 

for the love of chocolate bunnies

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It was a new moon (in Pisces, no less, or so I read), and the equinox, and there was this eclipse thingy.. I really felt like I should be doing something big. I wasn’t. I don’t think I really ever do anything “big” anymore.. oh, I did lay a curse.. but that was more a big release than a big observance. I don’t really think that counts and that was before the equinox anyways. I had another small personal working planned but mostly I just chilled and enjoyed the season. I mostly plan my life at this time around gardening and chocolate bunnies. I really just want to get my hands in the dirt.

My fellow hedger and I spent that Saturday lunching in the garden, talking this and that. It was all very fun and relaxing. She helped me figure where to put the inevitable extra plants that I brought home.. you know, those that just have to come back with you even though they are not on the master plan. She made mention somewhere on how she has grown to feel much closer to the natural rhythms.. yes, exactly. I feel spring when it first starts to warm and see the little pushing up of green. My periwinkle is usually the first thing to bloom and this year my teeny hawthorn stick sent some leaves out. I mostly spend these many days covered in garden dirt wrestling with my many new plantlings.

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The next day found me making my way to the farm to squeeze all the new little ones.. goats, chicks, and bunnies. Every year I try to run off with one or ten but am sadly given a reminder that our neighborhood has a pet limit.. le sigh. Still, I was able to play with them all day and check out all the upcoming projects.. it’s a busy, busy time there. I also had to argue for a raccoon’s pardon,  here’s hoping I won.

That night I had the dream.. of my friend, of many lefts and of an infinite road. Our feet were stuck in the mud and she had no notice. There was something on her mind. We did manage dinner later in the week, a nice reprise from the day to day and we were finally able to get that wine. What were her thoughts? Well, I don’t remember if I asked, and anyhoos.. her thoughts are her own. My job was to deliver the message. Besides, we had much more fun discussing life and it’s a rare treat that life gives us the time to spend together.

 

freeing the pieces

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A hawk almost flew into our truck on the way home from my father’s.. it seemed almost like it hovered right in front of the windshield, wings spanned as we slammed the brakes. We managed not to hit it and it just clipped us on its way. The following night came the dream of her and the hawk.. a lady new  which both broke my heart and made it sing. I choose not to work with this one. I set it free as I have too much as it is right the now. I know it is a good thing but I cannot bear it just yet.

The following Saturday, I took down my altar. My intent was to wait for Imbolc but I just felt it was time. Walking Bear had suggested to me that it was needed along with a good smudging. I ultimately decided to leave it fairly bare for a bit and build back as it comes to me.. only those things that felt needed, that felt right. It’s oddly freeing right now. I have nothing up there. Tonight I plan to place a candle in observance. It’s been a tough few months and I’ve lost so many pieces of myself. I’ve also spent quite a bit in shadow learning the truth of my heart. Taking my time rebuilding seems just where I need to be right now.

So it was that the day found me ready and I wrapped my fetiches in bits of original altar cloth, humming them a short comforting farewell, explaining the whys.. with some I may be parting, but I will not know until it is time. I cleared off and stored all that I might need later.. offering dishes, rocks from our first home, seashells from so many beach visits, my mirror.. so many things. I smudged and relocated the box.. everyone seemed to find that it was the most off and also the whisky bottle with the feather that never felt quite right. Some of the others wound up on my air shrine. Slowly the pieces found their way away and the altar was simply a window ledge once again. Tonight I will be lighting candles throughout the house for Imbolc, starting with that one.. I live in hope that they will bring with them all sorts of new.

the winds of change

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Air is the realm of intellect.. of ideas and creativity. Birds are the bringers of messages. It is considered a great honor to be gifted a feather. Most of the feathers that found their way to Yule’s altar were found or gifted.. it turned out very airy-birdy this one. In fact, it sort of reads Pier 1 commercial and I’m not sure I like it. It’s too.. too.. too something. I can’t put my finger on it but whatever it is, it is not quite comfortable. Of course, that could very well be the point.

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It took me a bit of time to make my way back to it.. not being sure how I felt about the direction. When finally I did, I was immediately twitchy. I wanted to change things. Ideas were finding their way. I wanted to simplify my hedge bag and rework my jar. There were bits no longer needed. Magpie seems to have left me, at least for now, and the hare’s mask felt very strongly needed.. very much mine. I needed more of mine on the altar. The whole thing was making me antsy. I needed to get back to my new workbook. I needed to fine tune my solitary, my ritual. I needed more order. I needed change. I am not sure how long I will keep this new arrangement, but without a doubt it is bringing inspiration.

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