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.

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.

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.

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.

 

 

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 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.

 

a delicate sliver of rabbit bone

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Though she has left me, her love of all things shiny still remains.. I have a magpie soul. I like the tactile. I want spiritual items that I can wear, touch, lick, stare at.. which brings me to the topic of ritual jewelry and my serious obsession with all things Eilisain.

One wears ritual jewelry for many reasons.. for the properties of the materials, to mark the movement from a mundane task to a spiritual one, to direct energies, as a fetish or representation of the object.. and so much more. I decided long ago that I wanted to incorporate my pieces into the everyday and have collected over the years  a fair few stones, talismans, and all manner of shiny things I wear for various reasons on various days. I am a big believer that one should walk in their spiritual always, not just tuck it away for marked times.

My favorite pieces are from a local artist that I stumbled upon on Etsy – Eilisain. My first piece was a ring of crow claw holding a black tourmaline.. an excellent grounding stone and as a shamanic stone it is said to provide protection during ritual use. This piece was recently replaced with an owl talon ring from the husband and so I intend to make my talisman into a pendulum necklace in future.

I have her ring of turtle spine that elegantly wraps around my finger. Turtle is not one of mine, but is a piece to remind me of that which I hold dear. She remarks on her site -“The Keeper is the one between two worlds, earth and water, the turtle.. Turtles sense vibrations through water and through their skin and shell, they are amazing survivors..”

She did me the great service of crafting an original piece from one of my bones – a delicate sliver of rabbit bone. Along with my Shepard’s Crown, it is one of my most important ritual pieces. As mentioned, rabbit is the one who walks with me in journey and I use this piece as a tie to my physical body.. it never hurts to have that extra connection. It is a powerful piece for me in my workings and a gentle reminder of my service as I walk the everyday.

For Eilisain, all I can say is that the soul of her artistry can be felt in these pieces.. her spirit quiet and strong. They whisper to me of pounding drums and dancing in the wilds with those mine.. and I like having that bit of tactile to carry with me in the mundane and in the not so.

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.

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.