swept away

IMG_8576.JPG

A biting cold greeted as the way was made down to the twisty tree. Offerings were laid out in abundance.. honeyed cream, incense, Florida water, and whiskey. I released my tobacco from the bindings of red cloth and thought fleetingly of snake. Where might that take me? I shook it off for the then, continuing the task at hand.

The river had swept the heart away from where it once hung heavy, stuffed and carefully sewn.. and swift action had been brought in its absence. The weeks prior, filled with change, carried hard decisions in the end.. at least for my path. The time for introspection was nearing.

The twelve days has always been an in between time for me. This coming, I have decided to spend it in contemplation. I know the approaching year poses much for me to figure through. I plan to dedicate some work to the hearth flame and at the very least, sit those twelve in meditation’s quiet. I have time, this I know.. and the work, as always, needs to be done.

Advertisements

sometimes strength comes from the kitchen floor

IMG_8306.JPG

(later that night, from DeSavyok Elfhame Tarot)
The Ruined Tower- “.. the Devil’s tutelage has started a trajectory of growth and re-appraisal of everything..”
The Sun- “.. and they realized kinship – in a way that is beyond ordinary conception..”

I spent a good hour the following morning crying on the kitchen floor.. kitty bellies being offered up in earnest. “You don’t have time for this”, said thought. “Time to put on your big girl panties”, third thought added. I had almost made the call.. some soothing would be nice. I decided that I was not about to bother Lola with this. When she got the call it would be for something vastly more important.. so I just lay there wondering if I was becoming my mother- ’tis the season of familiar and all that.

I spent much time the evening before feeling out of sorts, and for whatever reason lesser. Yes I have been absent, but while laying there in commune with the cold floor, I didn’t really feel bad about that. My spiritual means so much to me and I was working on something of great importance. “Maybe it is just what it is needed to be,” thought interjected.. thought really could be a bitch sometimes. “Yes”, third thought pointed out, “sometimes these things are set forth in order to move forward in the work”. It’s always good to know where you stand.

I believe that I had already decided to let it go almost the instant that my face touched the floor, but that release was still needed.. and maybe I was being a bit melodramatic. I was not lesser. I had made my choices for a reason.. and anyways, I had things to do. I pushed myself up off of the floor, tightened that spine, and started the bechamel.

strange places

IMG_7598.JPG

The day before the day of the calling came rabbit.. beautiful rabbit who has been with me since ever. I did not know it at the time, but she was to be one of three about to pass through.. as it was, two more were to come. The day of the first working, a Luna moth was found outside my door.. and then later on the day of the second working, I was gifted an owl. Things seemed to be manifesting in my mundane but that wasn’t necessarily unusual, except for the closeness and the timing. I kept the moth and owl, I laid him to rest in the earth beneath my mugwort.

My dreams had been elusive at best.. snippets of things wearing the skins of other things. What I was seeing, such as a kitten who clearly felt like a rabbit, revealing itself through touch or instinct.. or on occasion simply just a person wearing an animal’s head. Sometimes it was merely a changing of form.

One night a dark horned being led me into the woods and on another he led me to a dark house on the edge to consult with a gypsy woman. Twice I dreamed of calling death out of things.. once in the form of yellow butterflies and once from the form of a dog stuck in a rabbit cage.. he turned black and changed into a wolf as I embraced him. One night I rode with a man in the mouth of a great whale to a land I cannot recall. Most nights my dreams seem to belong to another or I just simply do not remember them.

The work has taken me strange places over the last month or so.. some familiar and others puzzling. Sometimes I am sure and then again, not so.. but I ever follow spirit and spirit led me here through old man. Thought had put forth how it hopes that old man knows what he is doing. I have to trust that he does.

That leaves me to work out this gift of three, and of course there is always a sense of Baba in that, who is old woman to me.. harsh in her challenges but she has been with me on and off since ever as well. Still, thought wonders if old man had a hand in these such things. No matter, it just is and the three remain.. are they a warning, an exit, or just truly a gift? Perhaps they are a reminder that I am moving in the direction necessary. For now I just trust in the process and leave all else open.. remaining to be seen.

all are rabbit

IMG_6936.JPG

The 2 of Disks from The Mary-El Tarot

“one eye is the Sun and looks out and one eye is the Moon and looks within. Between them a veil of flesh, separating, the face of Matter, the Shekinah or Throne of God. Our body. Everything’s body.”

The day before the day of, I ventured out to prepare for the trip. At the end of our street is where I found him – the rabbit. A car had taken him in the night and there his little body lay mangled. I thought it was my rabbit, the one who visits.

With a heavy heart I set about collecting his body to lay to the earth, he being one of my heart. As I was making my way back with his little body in tow, I saw the old man again.. and when I reached the house my rabbit visitor came poking out from the bush in front to greet me. I was both happy and still weighted.. cycles, I thought.

Lola and I took a daytrip out to the beach that day to visit Walking Bear. We needed to pick up something important and really I just wanted him to hold my hand (which he hates but he did it anyway). We spent time with the speaking trees and by the time we left so I could come home to attend to the task, I was feeling much stronger of spirit.. but then I always do.

I placed him in the red cloth Walking Bear sent home with me. I left him offerings. I sent with him my most precious piece- it had seen me through much. I hummed my song. I spoke to him of love and grieved for any suffering. I lay his body where the hedge taper once grew. Something of Walking Bear’s words floated back to me.. all are Rabbit. Yes, they are.

my dear Lilith

image1

That week before found me in the workroom doing a blood (in water) scry for some answers on path. What was needed and what was to fall away..the spiral staircase, alligator (again), owl, and an old house by the wood. I’m still working on some of it.

I trekked down to the river with Lola to put our feet in the mud. We gathered some things for a new friend and I collected some river water for my own use. Remembering talks from our trip, I gave a special offering, and quietly promised to spend more time another day.

The Wee Free tribe, as we are affectionately calling it, met later to touch on how our workings were going and I learned much in discussion about my Lilith moon.. apparently she’s a bit of a dirty girl (to everyone’s amusement) with a lot of things to work on. This shook me up a bit as I don’t like seeing myself in some of those lights, not the sexuality – I own that, but the other things. I had much to think on.

Is this me, in the deep dark? I was charted quite apart from the others and I found myself considering the name gifted to me by the Unci on that day of lodge.. and I felt very isolated.

 

*just a note – I know much to nothing about astrology other than what I read in the checkout line and the following is a favor to me from the lovely Achtland on the Lilith moon..

“Called the Black Moon, the Dark Moon, or just Lilith, all three of these names are found in astrology. They represent an asteroid named Lilith found in out birth chart that is used to show us ths representative of the darker side of our nature, the negative side. It is the hidden depths that we know exist, yet we prefer not to acknowledge. It is the refusal to see what is really within ourselves. It is the kind of thing that we intrinsically know we have to deal with, confront the darker side in order to progress unhindered, yet most often we try to ignore. It is the deeper truth that we are forever in search of within ourselves. We use the knowledge the Dark Moon brings us to explore our hidden depths, realise that we all have that darker side and go within to resolve that which ultimately hinders us.”

the old man, the alligator, and the river

IMG_6677

The old man flew around me in a rush of spirit, looking almost as if locked in a silent scream.. his face starting to change rapidly as I neared the end of the moss covered bridge. I expected to see Baba as I stepped into the coolness of the burrow but all I saw were tunnels in the dim light. I realized that the white one was absent as well.. curiouser and curiouser.

I had the impression of a woman outside of my body, seen but not seen. I settled down. The burrow dissipated as the night sky took me.. inky black and dotted with stars. The alligator was swimming in its darkness. We kept company for awhile.. too long it seemed, and thought passed by to impart the hope that Lola would bring me out if necessary.

Eventually though, I heard the call and began to try to pull myself away. Coming back was like fighting an ocean current, I could feel the pull but I am strong. I told them no, that I could not stay.. I have much to do. My eyes snapped open and I knew instantly who the old man was.. after all, I had been seeing him off and on all weekend.

We left for New Orleans not far past our Lugh with the others. I had finally released the red cord binding and the timing was perfect. Lola and I said our goodbyes with promises of detailed notes.. we were looking out to this trip in hopes it would bring us something, and it did not disappoint.

We explored the city’s heartbeat and wound our way down the Mississippi during our first days there. I met a beautiful bearded man who introduced me to someone of great influence and quite possibly may have set my spirit onto a shift in movement.. it remains to be seen (or unseen?), and maybe there will be a story for another day.  I do so wish I’d given him (said bearded man) my contact information, I miss him already.

We did get to spend some time later in conversation.. but I remember only a sense of place and the river. This sense of place filtered once again through me later during one of his classes. We ran into his friend many times over that weekend and Lola remarked on the sense of kindred. I realized later that sense of solitude in his presence.

One night I saw the old man in a reader on the street and we ventured out to hear him tell.. cards for me and Lola’s palm. One night La Bella Luna Dae and I texted until we fell asleep all things spirit. One night we drifted down the Mississippi making new. On the last night, Lola and I spent our time together by the pool having our traditional post spiritual grocery store feast. We found so much to carry back.. so much, but for me it was the sharing of this with those that I love, the new friendships forged, the old man, the alligator, and the river.

choices, consequences, and shadow

IMG_0251

I mixed the oil with the water, said my goodbyes, and dropped him in. He flailed for just a few seconds before settling to the bottom of the jar.. that’s when I gave him the lethal dose. Later that evening we lit the candles and left his little fishy spirit an offering of his favorite worms.. my thoughts were simply that I had done this.

I killed the smallest member of my family, this was several days ago now. I had not been diligent in his care of late. Sickness took him due to my neglect, and I could no longer watch him suffer. The responsibility was mine, and so this guilt joins my shadow.. which has been knocking hard at my door of late.

In this said late shadow lurks family, what that means to me, and spider’s insistence that a few things be dealt with. I have been winding through some memories (and lack there) of childhood trauma.. of which is mine and not open for discussion. Nonetheless, it brought with it the point of what I choose to consider family.. how much does one forgive and what then do we do with all those deeply embedded rotting bits asking to be examined? Do we make some kind of peace within ourselves? How about all the ripples said things have made in result? Do we release those as well? The answers are most personal.

Looking at my notes of what of those bits I could remember of that time, I can say it was definitely not filled with light.. at least not in regards to my biological ties. It was very clear to me that if it had not been for the support of my childhood friend and her family, things would not have turned out so well. In my head, her mom is my mom.. her sister my sister.. and she also my sister. I forever will consider them so and even though I stepped away later in life, I know that they are the reason I made it into adulthood in one or three pieces.

Do I regret my neglect and loss of those I consider my true family? Some days very much so.. but like the loss of my dear little one, that rests firmly on my shoulders as well. Still, spirit has its reasons.. choices, consequences, and shadow.

As I grow older, I now try to take that lesson with me and be much more responsible in maintaining my relationships close. I have new sisters and brothers who I walk my path with and they have become my new family.. and I am reminded. I might not always succeed, but I do my best. As for my surrogate family long lost.. I hope they realize that they saved me from the great terrible and that I will always be here if they have need. Most importantly, I hope they know the depth of my appreciation for having had them in my life and that I love them.

 

There is no birth of consciousness without pain.
–Carl Jung

Notes on shadow:

Like a storm rising up suddenly with brute force, one little dream became a heavy downpour of messages beating at me with fat needley droplets of wet suffering.. that would be my description of my current shadow work. Dramatic much, you ask? Not this time.. truly this time is a tough go.. and yes, I made up a word. It brought up a good discussion, however, at the last witch and wine.. which I will try to shorthand here (if not for anything else, then at least for my own reference) –

What is shadow? The shadow is basically those hidden ugly(?) bits of self that get pushed away into exile.. trapped painful emotions from trauma, parts of ourselves we find that are not valued, feelings we were taught not to embrace, etc. These things, lurking about where they may not be consciously acknowledged, have bearing on our lives. They can influence our choices or reactions, make us feel unworthy, separate us from a sense of wholeness, and all sorts of lovely things. Even considering all of this, I find that I still tend to agree with Jung in that the shadow holds gifts.. gifts of learning and wisdom if we choose to work with it in an honest fashion.

And shadow work? Shadow work is an act of going inward and working on/with those unpleasant things be it for release or reconciliation.. to weave those bits back to become whole. Sometimes we take an active step and choose the work, such as honoring the passing of a loved one at Samhain. Sometimes that bitch just sneaks up on you bringing with it all sorts of fun stuff (not). It is a decision of self how you choose to approach shadow work, be it through active imagery, dream work, meditation, friend support, therapy, etc. One’s avenue of working varies as greatly as the nature of shadow, and it’s important to work in a manner that works for you.

 

 

a line in the sand

fredfire

Earth, Air, Water, Fire, Spirit.. these are the elements that make up our path. In order for life to exist, the elements must exist. Spirit encompasses the entirety of the wheel, all elements, and the working path. It is what drives us along and what holds us when we are feeling lost. We are all interconnected.

I found the above shuffled amongst the many notes that I had been sifting through lately. This season found my body revolting against me and I found myself with a bit of forced downtime.. this old sack of skin and bone decided it needed a time out. I spent this time gathering and organizing. Along with the earlier elemental musings, one jotted question held my attention – “What is witchcraft to you?”

I could wax poetic on the many things that shape my witchy ways – mythos, folklore, those tales of things that go bump in the night.. but in those collected bits I wrote down two names- Doreen Valiente and Sir Terry Pratchett.

“I’d say to a person who really wanted to know what was the spirit of witchcraft that they’ll learn more by, say, going out on the Downs at midnight and listening to the wind in the trees and looking at the full moon..” (Doreen Valiente, The Power of the Witch-a BBC documentary)

Doreen Valiente, often considered the mother of witchcraft, was a great bringer and defender.. being mostly solitary, I particularly liked her later views on hierarchy and initiation (still a well debated topic I hear in some circles).

“..if a witch started thinking of anyone as ‘just’ anything, that would be the first step on a well worn path that could lead to, oh, to poisoned apples, spinning wheels and a too-small stove” (Sir Terry Pratchett, The Shepard’s Crown)

I personally hold the thought that anything worth learning about witchcraft an be found in Sir Terry Pratchett’s writings.. and I stand by that.

Why all this musing? Compiling all these said jottings down had me thinking about personal path and the many things we should revisit along the way. The experiences of spirit that uniquely make up our path are not the same as those that make up another’s. What does witchcraft mean to you? It is a very important question.

In the outworld, so much infighting, opinionating, words turned about, and judgements seemed to be rolling around.. sometimes I think these things move in cycles. I am also not innocent in such matters of opinionating and judgement.. I am human. I have witnessed many fellow witches, myself included, burned by such things. People set fire for mere gossip and personal life choices. Much of these goings on have made me think about where I should draw my line in the sand. I cannot/must not be party to this burning. Aren’t we supposed to be holdng each other up and celebrating our diversity?

I was also introduced to a new term (or new to me), “corporate witch”. Now, while I have my own hangups about spirituality mixing with money (requiring vs. choosing.. there’s a difference for me personally), I must ponder where the seeker would be without a pagan shop? Here is where they wander in for a glance and hopefully leave with ideas, knowledge, a feeling of place, experiences, and yes.. somethings shiny to help them connect with spirit.

These things- differences of opinions, gossip, infighting, questioning the material vs the spiritual.. they are not new. However, maybe we can take a step back, consider that we do not always know what s going on in another’s life or what has shaped their path, and concentrate on what is important in our own. Maybe we can let them do the same. Their line doesn’t have to be your line. For me, I will hold true to mine and do the best I can. Oh, and if you happen to see someone being doused with gasoline, maybe hold them up instead of striking a match.

 

underworld reflections

bonesclean

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the phooka

IMG_5298

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.