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.

 

my thoughts were filled with Turtle Butt

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Muddied tones of green and brown, earth sliding into the river, and the slight impression of the circular.. my thoughts were filled with Turtle Butt. Let me explain.. Turtle Butt is my nickname for this amazing photo taken by my uber talented friend Cin and is one of the few non-birdy ones she has.. she’s a bit of a bird lady. When I think of her, I think of a tall white crane – full of grace and spiritual joy as she often appears as in my cards.

The photo itself was taken not too far from the place where I most often go to stick my feet in the dirt. It speaks to me not only of those earth to water places, but also of cycles. There is a certain perspective one gains when revisiting the same place in life from a different point along the path.. often I journey or revisit things in said near place. Turtle butt was the first piece I placed on my revisited earth altar.

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Nestled there, along with, is a jar of witches burrs and one of magnolia cones.. the latter collected from a local graveyard where I occasionally attend to the long forgotten. Sitting on a plate near the Greenman and Greenwoman imagery, I have a small plate containing a jeweled serpent with some rocks and stones.

Several of these rocks were gifted to me from Schatzi, another beautiful soul that I am lucky enough to be blessed with in my life. She smuggled them all the way back from Greece and each has its own story of place to tell. Schatzi, I am told, means treasure in German and she is that. I hope she realizes that.. and not just because she brought me the beautiful rocks.

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.

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..

 

and the earth wept at her passing

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It had started to rain after I lay her down in the earth beneath the new maple. She was our oldest and her death was sudden.. we were not at all prepared. I told the husband later that the earth was weeping at the loss of her. He replied that it was a good way to look at it, that she was a princess among cats. I sent with her a charm of crow feathers and evil eye.

Our little garden has been in chaos.. workers damaged a good part of it yet again and we felled our old maple. I spent the rest of the weekend straightening out what I could, stopping occasionally to talk to our little princess. My hawthorn baby would not fit the spot.. no tearful goodbyes though, she is going to join an old witchy friend of mine to live out life in a land of celebrations. The new one’s serenity was just what was needed, and so it all worked out.

The maple is a traveler’s wood, associated with the moon and the elemental energies of water. It is useful in works dealing with change, communication, knowledge, and spiritual healing. I find the maple to be a tree of quiet contemplation and gentle protectiveness.. it is why I laid her there. It is my hope that our new protector will wrap roots around her and hold her through the ever after.

the witch’s tree

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..a forest cord for a witchling friend.. a cord of in between places and the quiet speaking of the wood.. Alder cones, tiger’s eye, and fox bones..

It is said that the Alder King stands at the gate between the living and the dead. He is the one who guards and the one who appeases. He is the one who holds the gate.. if the gate is not opened, one cannot cross.. in or out. The Alder is a tree of transformation.. of hidden knowledge and a protective wood when used in dealing with those beyond.

I made this cord with the idea of duality and those in between places.. to journey, to dream, to walk with the spirits be they animal, plant, or other; to work with deity. To be a working witch, as I see it, one must enter these places at some point or fashion.

Tiger’s eye is often used for it’s monetary association. I chose it for it’s other qualities – inner calm, stability, and the strengthening of spirit. It is also protective. I wove the colors of the forest for it’s powerful quiet.. just the hushed whispering a of the land spirits and the roots of the trees anchored in the earth.

I don’t work with fox often, she is not one of mine. I have carried her with me when I needed calm. I have walked with her when I needed to see beyond my emotion.. being of logic, I find that not to be very often. I did recently use one of her leg bones throw a curse.. a curse to ride on her silent swiftness.

I tied in fox bone and claw so it could double as a fetiche.. cunning and swift. Fox is a great problem solver but she is also a trickster, so walk with her carefully.. keep your wits about you. She may lead you astray but in this she may very well do so to bring you a lesson. She holds the dark in her nature, shape shifting and stealthy. It is these abilities she has to lend to help you navigate.. have patience and persistence, she will reward you.

Fox lives in the border places.. waking conscious and deep sleep. It is in her solitude that you will learn what she has set out to bring to you. Open your eyes.. see things in a different light but don’t become too invisible.. you must pay attention to her subtleties..

 

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.

many moons

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The element of emotions, instinct, and being of the heart.. this is the element of water. A somewhat great many moons ago, when I first stepped onto my path, this was the element that sung. I think maybe that is why scrying and reflective surfaces work so well for me.. maybe even seership in general. I’ve always loved wandering out to a still body of water, peering into its shiny to see what was to be seen.. once a part of my regular practice. These days, I will still seek the ocean when I need cleansing or healing. Even moving into earth, I still find the sea’s call quite impossible to ignore and I visit as often as I can. My favorite spot to hide in the wood has water moving through it.. water will always be prevalent for me, I believe.

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Often my magpie tendencies find me picking up anything water related.. the latest piece from our local shop was a beautiful mermaid dish. It rests on the water shrine beneath a handful of beach combed feathers and a medallion gifted to me from my fellow hedger. There is a dish of many shells collected and a photo of the wild horses from Walking Bear. This one is full of the memories of that stormy day when I swam in the ocean and heard my friend sing a song for spirit as we made our way amongst the dunes. I hope to get back there soon, but my shrine holds me to what always will be.

A night of december so dark and cold,

I walked a path ages old

The moon amongst the clouds revealed

lightning valleys, forest and field

Embraced by silence I wandered the moor

an endless landscape by my side

when in the mist I saw a light

dancing through the hazy night

I stood and watched the play in awe

was deeply touched by what I saw

I told my friends what I did see

and what they told did tremble me!

It’s said the ghost of a young, fair maid

is cursed to dwell beneath the shade

of the olden oak she died below

O that was many moons ago!

–Empyrium, Many Moons Ago

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.

solstice ocean

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The solstice weekend was quite busy for me despite a few snafus. I was a bit low energy early on but still managed to make my good friends’ solstice party. It was an evening of great food, greater people, and ginger beer.. one really can’t ask for more than that. I had a wonderful time. My girls and I had planned to spend the next day on Shackleford, but as it was, it just didn’t quite work out as planned. My fellow hedger and I did still make it out though, each of us having our own things we needed to do.

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In absence of the planned ritual, I did light a candle for the summer and spoke a little something. We found a nice driftwood stang on the beach to hold the simple rite. I did my release of shadow and we spent the day playing in the ocean, collecting shells, and picnicking.. Kayla even found a little bone in the horses’ watering pond and I found a little sand dollar. We saw one of the foals.. truly not a bad way to spend a solstice celebration. We left early in the afternoon to head for the graveyard, she had something to do and I was going to pass the time at my grave.. I left a found feather for the little girl. It was there in the graveyard that Kayla found another bone. I got again the heron, maybe a bit of shadow has decided to linger.. or maybe it’s not mine that’s lingering.

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King of Vessels – Heron

Greeting the dawn, often alone, the Heron is reputed to be gifted with psychic perception and reflection. The guardian of many esoteric secrets, it is said to stand at the gateway between life and death and to act as mediator on th esoul’s journey to the Celtic otherworld and reincarnation.
 
A deep belief in fairness, honesty and honour colours everything you do. The profound depths of your character, once stirred into action, carry all before it. However, your admiration for self control can sometimes make you appear too rigid.
I feel it important to mention (for Heron, who keeps popping up, I know you’ll see this eventually) that the heron is a vessel card. Vessels in the wildwood stand at the time of Lammas through to the Autumn equinox. It is a card of emotions – which I am sure you already know.. emotions, relationships, romance, compassion, forgiveness, instinct, mourning, being of the heart, the element of Water.
Also (maybe this will mean something for you), I pulled a shadow card on this one..

Six of bows – Abundance

In the heart of a forest clearing is a six-spoked, star-shaped log fire, formed from trimmed but unfletched bow staves. It radiates light and heat and forms the pattern of the seasons. The fire is surrounded with representations of all manner of natural forest riches from the summer season.

A time to reap the benefits of summer abundance and to accept the rewards and blessings that are a result of endurance. By patiently attending what you have sown, the blessings of the new growth will be bountiful and rich.

The Wheel turns and the time to enjoy the fruits and rewards of the summer season has arrived. Patience acknowledges the plentiful bounty which delivers the gifts and rewards for your efforts. Now is the time to allow this generous feeling of well-being to flow freely through and around you, and to enjoy the pleasures and sustenance those healing and revitalizing gifts can offer. Sometimes, after a period of stress and hard struggle, the process of healthy relaxation is vital to re-arm and re-energize the spirit in preparation for the challenges of the coming winter.

Being in shadow and of summer, I feel it is in the about to pass or just passing.. a nudge to put it all aside and just be, perhaps? It lies before the Heron and hinting of something to come with the coldness of winter.