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.

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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.

a quiet stabbing

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..something was being put to my direction, like a quiet stabbing..

I woke up after a day spent in anger still angry. I just could not find my Zen. The old reading popped into my head.. yes, there was a quiet stabbing and now I had a smarting back.

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..

As it was, it turned out that I was indeed both the goat and the archer (see – sometimes I do follow up on my writings).. the arrows of my words sent out and also being fired back. Thankfully, I spoke my truths long ago and I stand by their original context.

..take a deep breath and steady your mind.. see the futility of games played against you and go about your business.. cocoon yourself away from outside influences.. the trees act as a reminder to follow your path..

Nothing had changed really, except that I now held more knowledge and a clearer perspective. If you walk your path with integrity and truth, there should be no need for these things.. that was my first response.. pre-Zen. However, thought reminded me, we are but human and can only do our best.

My truths for today (before they escape me) – We don’t have to agree, but we can learn from our differences. Our diversity should be a strength. Your fellow is not a tool to be used, or worse.. persecuted. Yes, I will stand up for them. You should too. Learn from one another. Strive to be kind. Extend that kindness to yourself. Do your best. I will do mine. Be true. Speak those truths when necessary. Breathe.

I lit the candles and steadied my thoughts. “And now?” This I asked, knowing the question was not very specific. I shuffled the threes..

eight of bows, hearthfire – on the edge of a sparse winter forest camp, lit with the warm dancing flames of a large log fire, we see eight figures gathered around a roaring hearthfire.. the merry band raise goblets, shake hands and laugh, bathing in the shared bonds of fellowship and harmony created by the true loyalty of lifelong friends..

Ironic, that was my first thought.. but then if not for this situation, this card would have spoken to me of another. Soon after, I heard from said other.

four of stones, protection – the newly risen sun brings hope and renewed vitality to the vulnerable..shelter and protection for the weak or the spiritually wounded is the responsibility of us all.. for those who have weathered adversity and known loss, the light of life and love will always burn brightly within them.. by building on a foundation of ethical beliefs, boundaries and skills, we can be assured that when the test comes we are secure in our self-knowledge and confidence.. the human ability to recognize and feel compassion for those who need help is just as important..

To the lost, may you know my hut is ever open.. even if you choose to burn me in the hearthfire..

 

the compass keeps me sane

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I got up early on Sunday so that I could cry. How does one explain that they are broken? Being broken, how does one go about acting normal? One just does.. somehow. I spent the rest of that day with some really wonderful ladies.. an old friend and a new. I rarely get to spend time with others who practice as I do. We spent the day talking shop and just hanging about. It was needed. This morning, I was once again melancholy. I put on the compass my fellow hedger gifted me for Yule and reminded myself that we make choices for a reason.. and those choices come with consequences. It is those such choices that help to forge our path and the lessons, even the painful ones, come to us for a reason. I am lucky to have such support on my journey.. is there anything better than support without judgment? Right the now, I don’t think so. These choices made? I feel that they are true and for the best. That really is all one could ask for. My compass reminds me to stay the course, even when I may not want to. My lesson? Letting go is sometimes the best thing you can do for the ones you love.

on the revisit

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It’s been a long while since my last journey and I thought I’d revisit some of what I’d written, my personal notes, and what hindsight would bring. Often I have these things left open, and it’s much later (if at all) when they come back to me. One might say this is filling the events, and I must also not rule that out.. all things being possible. Also, sometimes I do forget to follow through.. which was the case in the early of Baba. Re-reading my notes, I can (now) see where she may have been my first warning of things to come in my personal (again, hindsight) and also how aspects of her parallel that of the one of mine I felt she was for. I think specifically that the wise woman imagery, ties to the nature spirits, working through doubt, and recover after failure; were all paralleled for the both of us.. though in very different matters. I have been thinking of how the third answer was missing.. now I think it may be/have been symbolic of where we are going to take our paths from here.. our recovery point of sorts. Baba is still, as always, slightly vague to me.. hard to read.. but then so is my one of Baba. The second to come, and the one I had to seek out in the mound, was the bloody lady. She clearly then and does still now, feel of the very strong archetypes.. Morrigan.. Lilith.. very strong. For my one, I see where she brought forth a message of strength. My one is such a strong one in her personal, and this I feel had/has to do with her personal.. but it is her greatest gift in working spirit that will also lend to her the strength needed. And my last, Peg, the lovely lady beneath the waters.. of mysteries and the knowledge of passage.. she brought just that.. knowledge, challenges, and a growth of path.

Revisiting also brought to mind my pledged workings through midsummer.. which up until this past weekend, I had thought to be uneventful with the exception of a few requests early on. I had thought of the man of shadow and how he’d led me to the idea of the pledge’s need. I had wondered if it all came down to support, again.. and wondered if maybe my job had reached completion.. even if in a somewhat anticlimactic way. Nothing wrong with that. I like the idea of quiet completion and a call answered. Who says it has to be all bang and fuss, anyways? For some reason, I thought of my odd unremembered conversation with the human cat.. which is in shadows.. but then, as Walking Bear pointed out after we tried going to ground this past weekend, I did pledge to work in shadow. We had been on our way to visit heron (and pick up supplies), to bring her a bit of heron, and a heron flew over.. which made me think it was as it should be. While there, she mentioned shadow, and Walking Bear looked at me.. knowing what he knew.. but I said nothing.. it was as it should be.

We tried going to ground, a failed attempt, his path being not my path.. but in the end a violently stark realization was brought.. so maybe not so failed after all.. it was as it should be. And later, on the subject of paths, he mentioned how my turn away and residual feelings of that old path, though not a bad thing, was still a part of my shadow. He is right. With all of this came the realization of the three of us (or so I think, always with the threes) – one who reminds me of that path, one who is the bridge and walks a similar path now, and I working with the shadows of both paths at the moment.. maybe heron’s shadow was what had called to me. We were all three going to be needed for the work ahead, whatever that is, once (if) I make peace with these particular shadows. I think that maybe that was what the human cat was trying to tell me.. or maybe it was that I think too much.

**as a further revisit – The yarrow’s work was done and this was/is a good thing, and I kind of already knew that. Looking back on Baba, the wild reading, and the ostrich.. yes, lots of clear warnings.. yes, I almost ignored them.. yes, I still struggle with it but I am glad I came around. The citrus cleaner wasn’t sticky unless not thoroughly wiped down. The hawthorn did leaf. I am still working with the hare’s mask but it’s better. Oh, and I didn’t try the arnica myself but I have gotten reports that it works well.

of horses and books

I hate to just willy nilly ignore the outs and abouts.. jumping right in and out of PBP, but here I go anyways. I received the email (I still greatly enjoy exploring the posts) and this week was the letter H. Among the suggested topics – horses and hares.. I call kismet. As mentioned, I have a reoccurring horse with red eyes. I am always in discussions with the fiery one ( or was before she disappeared into life) about this one and maybe her ties to Morrigan and the Tuatha De Danann or perhaps the fae in a more general sense. Theories, theories.. But nothing quite fits as of yet. I won’t go so much over all that but here is a bit of folklore..

As related to Ana or Danu, the Morrigan is associated as a Goddess of the land, and Macha is said to be one of the Tuatha de Danann. She is said to be linked with both horses and crows.

Baba Yaga has three horsemen who are said to represent day, sunrise and night.. a white rider on a white horse, a red rider on a red horse and a black rider on a black horse.

As a totem, horse brings gifts of  presence, journey, freedom, and a sense of knowing and deep mystery.. horse is of the wind.

“In legends told throughout the Far East, central Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, horses were considered mediums between the Spirit and Material Worlds. Certain Celtic tribes used a white mare as an oracle. Arabic tales exalted the horse’s sixth sense. Horses were also perceived as carrying riders between the seen and unseen realms or leading people to some form of lost knowledge. Modern Yakut shamans wouldn’t dream of visiting the Otherworld without the aid of their horses.”

horse spirit connections

Then there is the Kelpie, a Scottish water faerie..

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Although sometimes appearing the guise of a hairy man, this is more often seen in the form of young horse. The Kelpie haunts rivers and streams and, after letting unsuspecting humans mount him, will dash into the water and give them a dunking.

The Each-Uisge (Ech-ooshkya), or Aughisky (Agh-iski) as he is known in Ireland, inhabits seas and lochs and is far more dangerous. After carrying his victims into the water, he will tear them to pieces and devour them, leaving nothing but the liver.

If the Aughisky is ridden inland, he is quite safe, but the slightest smell or sight of sea water will spell death to the rider..”

-Brian Froud, Faeries

I also looked to my cards (i will use any excuse) to find some horse imagery.. I found two that caught my eye..

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Ten of Disks from the Mary-El

“..The Mountain.. The suit of Disks starts with the Minotaur, a demi-god, violent, crazed, and imprisoned in a labyrinth deep in the earth. By the end of the suit of Disks he has escaped the maze and climbed the mountain, a sure-footed mountain goat long of horn, curious, and wise, riding the black earth with skill, and holding the spheres of the tree of life in perfect balance. The 10 completes the circle and the wheel, most ancient of symbols. It completes the work of the other three elements – Fire, Water and Air, grounding them and bringing them to full physical manifestation. The wheel of dharma turns. Like the mountain, the 10 of Disks is the ultimate card of Earth. Every movement you make, visible or invisible, touches everything else, moving it..”

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The Knight of Stones, Horse from The Wildwood

“..passing through Midwinter.. The prehistoric horse once common in Europe was often depicted in Palaeolithic cave art. The Huffington White Horse chalk figure once held a long barrow in its mouth, representing the breath of life and protection of the dead. The thirty-thousand-year-old carving of an unshod hoof is said to represent both the vulva (new life) and the primal footprint showing in the track through the forest.  Healthy activity and self-sufficiency colour your path. Physical strength supports your decisions and pleasure is important. Daring,pride, and a love of the Earth lead you to attempt even more amazing feats. Let the Horse carry you..”

Still, most of what I’ve found deals with the white or the black, I haven’t found much on brown.. and I am still in search of what rings true..

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On another tangent, completely unrelated, my second round of books (it’s a sickness) arrived overthe last few weeks. I have just started Toads and Toadstools. The artwork is beautiful in that one and also in The Poison Diaries.. which everyone I lent it to said was creepy but I just loved it. I have stacks and stacks piling up, it will definately be a Spring of reading.. possibly moving into Summer if I don’t stop..

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how hyena & an old woman led me to my path

Believe me, you will find more lessons in the woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you what you cannot learn through masters.

— St. Bernard of Clairvaux

I saw this quote on a blog and thought it time to write the story, it is a long and rambly one so be forewarned. A while back, the introvert and I were visiting in the garden over tea, talking this and that when I shared this with her. It had been rolling around in my head that I should write on it, if for no other reason than to put it down, but it is very personal in feel.. and mine. Just telling it to her made it that much easier though, and so it was decided. I hope I get across how important in my life people such as this are, because they are..

I am traveling into the forest, there are gypsy trailers on its threshold near a clearing. I am in the back of a police car driven by two men and I am there to help. There is a woman running and screaming, but they don’t want me to exit the car.. I am not sure why. I jump out knowing I need to get to her and find myself running into a cleared circle in the wood. There is a fire in the center and a ritual is being held. Around the circle are many different peoples and many different animals. The only one I can remember is the hyena. There is a house? building? off to the side. It is without a roof/doors/windows.. almost like a shell of a house but not in disrepair. I walk through the first doorway, the room is empty. I walk through the next doorway, passing through a small open walkway. There is nothing in this next room either. I continue on through another pass thru, open like the first into the third room. It is not empty.

There is a hearth lit and a long wooden table where one would eat. There is an old woman by the hearth rocking in a chair. I go up to her and I know she is telling me something important, or more that I know she told me something important although I don’t remember the actual telling.. time isn’t moving as normal. It is now and it is past at once. A hyena is at my side, hugging me at the waist or I am petting him.. maybe both? I feel like it is time to go. It is an overwhelming feeling. I head out toward the wood, the circle is no longer there and the wood seems much closer to the doorway than before. I come face to face with a brown horse. Her eyes are red and I know I’ve met her before. The one-eyed cat is pulling urgently at my hand, we must go. I cannot remember if he’d come inside the house to get me or if he had just now popped up but I know something is coming and that is why he is here – to pull me out. This was the first time I’d met him, but I didn’t seem to think it odd at the time. We are running through the trees when I lose him.. he is up ahead but I cannot see him. I am scared, very scared. I make it out but the trailers are further away. I get into the car and the two males are now a single female. I know this, although I cannot see her. Then I wake.

Many years ago I had this dream. I was in a very complacent place, having left my old path and drifting. I had yet to figure my place and quite honestly, I didn’t feel in any hurry. I dabbled off and on, continuing the drift.. I would like to be nice and call it exploration but I had spent quite more time in the stagnant pool than I probably should have. There just wasn’t much to be found in the immediate, post 101.. my views differed and I just never really did do things “by the book” anyways. While others thrive in that setting (bless all my friends who did/do, just so not how I am wired), I left in search of something more personally fulfilling. Then it came.

I’ve always had the dreams and other such things but one just doesn’t discuss these things over tea (usually). Furthermore, at this point I was quite settled into my solitary state and so with whom would I discuss it anyways? They’d think I was nutters.. besides, I liked being a hermit (still do). Now, I have had some form of this dream off and on over the years or parts of it, and for various reasons.. but this first instance was the one that set me on my path. In researching aspects of it was how I learned of my call to the wildwood, spirit work, and all those other things I could no longer ignore. And once you open a door.. well, you know. The fiery one and I were to work on hyena (yes, I have known her since dirt) but for me the old woman was must prevalent in my mind at that time. I am sure you’ve noticed (as I have on the write) that she reeks again of Baba.. who is apparently in and out of my life even without me realizing sometimes for one reason or the other. At the time, I didn’t make the connection, but then I was just starting out and with very little guidance.

I am quite thankful for that now, as it has taught me a lot about working intuitively. I had no preconceived about what/where my practice should be and I learned a lot about what worked for me personally.. guidance coming later when I was ready. I greatly value how it all worked out and I discovered that great connection that I had had in the beginning.. all from being brought to this little place in the woods to meet a wise woman, a hyena, and a red-eyed horse. I never finished looking into hyena until just recently (recently being the now) but as a wise friend pointed out – sometimes things don’t come to us immediately, they come to us when we need them. And I am still in deep discussions of why I exited differently than I entered, and just what the significance is of the red-eyed horse who comes in and out of my dreams but I’ll get there. It’s been a long, long journey and it will always be so..

Hyena totemness (in case you were curious):

  • to be clearer on what to do, whom to trust, what to believe.. they trust “what smells right”
  • communication is very important, be careful with your words
  • develop clan & communal life.. for whom the hyena appears, the clan will become more important (not so hot with this one as my hermitness takes precedence but am grooving on the idea of a commune)
  • Spiritually, Hyena people are very aware of themselves and their place in the universe, but sometimes feel inexplicably lost even so – probably because they feel out of place among people who are not so highly-attuned to their surroundings as they are.. this stems from the fact that Hyena people are also prone to be affected by the emotions of those around them
  • Hyena implies a lack of seriousness or a vicious nature (vicious.. really?? ouch)
  • often scorned for their funny words and scavenging habits (I think I recently had this convo as well)

the maiden, the mother, and, you know– the other one

Walking Bear and I have been having many conversations here recently on the other one and how she has been so present in my life of late. He has brought me great wisdom on the matter of initiations, changes, and so much other. I tend to be lax in my movement at times, even when it so obviously pushes at me.

I was cleaning about the house, doing all those non-witchy things one must do in the here, when I found the notes. I had taken them sometime after Yule of last and somehow they had slipped away. I have mentioned my dreams of Baba and how she was to help me in the knowledge of the wildwood amongst such other things… and so she has, so she has.

I had fallen short of my workings with her for this or that reason and never did make it back… which brings me to these found notes of threes– I immediately thought of the bloody lady. Is there to be another, a third? I think so. Also, much like the bloody lady’s task, my notes of Baba were missing the last…

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blue moon 8/31 (past or future date?)

the man

fish, snake, bird (i keep seeing triads)

       –possibly representative of the boundaries

fae lights, fires & a rustling in the green… growling

       –a warning?

       –drawing travelers from a safe path

dark waters & the night sky

eyes, the windows of her hut, moving hut on chicken legs

Baba Yaga humming to the spider, anxiety

       –she rules over the elements, grandmother spider? imagery of a wise woman

       –guardian of the waters of life & death, bone mother, nature spirit, bringing wisdom & death of ego & through death, rebirth

       –bringer of the knowledge of the wildwood, the plants will tell you what you need to know

And later:

I ask the cards, three times three, what does Baba want?

Rustling in the brush, it was there in the mirror. Knight of arrows, hawk falls out, he is watching– this is the man?

Arrows– the intuitive mind, departing the spring equinox is the hawk, master of air element & messenger of fate. Can help you through doubt at the heart of the matter. Use your common sense.

What does Baba want?

Seven of vessels, mourning… the bowls & the skull symbols stand out. Feeling of oppression & darkness overshadows.

Vessels– emotions, relationships, of the heart, wavy lines on the skull (saw these lines at the first as well). Through to autumn–Samhain. Recovery after failure, being at peace with the past.

… And the third is missing.

baba yaga haunts my dreams

I had a dream of Baba. She was sitting in her hut singing to a spider she had cradled in her lap. What was she singing? I have no idea, but when she looked at me I knew I was to pay her more attention. I woke up realizing that I knew very little about Baba. If we were going to get friendly then I needed to do some research. I’m a big believer in hocus pocus and the meaning of things–or maybe I had just watched Howl’s Moving Castle one too many times…

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via philipbarron

Baba, as I’m sure you know, is the bone mother of Slavic folklore. She dwells deep in the forest in a hut perched on chicken legs. She is said to rule over the elements, a wild woman full of knowledge and power… oh, and she eats children. She holds the secrets of the wildwood and I think she is here to help me listen to the plants. This is a good thing as my poor garden had a bad summer last year and I really do need to pay my green babies some better attention.

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I have reworked all I could this year. I removed some of the pots to better spread things around in an effort to save money. I am giving my english roses another year (maybe more) to perk up and I have filled in with some annuals for color. Here’s hoping Baba approves… if not, I am sure she will let me know.