a work in progress

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(a belated post)

“Sooooo.. we’re doing a rose garden?”, the husband asked when I yet again brought home another rose. Apparently so, said thought.. knowing more were soon to arrive. It’s early spring here and I was thinking about cycles and death.

The weather has been quite erratic this year so far, much like my spiritual. The garden is barren, most of my plants did not make it through the many trials of this past season, and I seem to be near about starting over. As usual, it is fitting.

I am always in awe at the synchronicity between personal and garden. This almost spring thus far still seems to be carrying forward some of the harsh emptiness of winter but I’m feeling that slight stir to start moving on.. having ripped out the expanse of death lingering about.
I am now hesitantly potting up the new. Some of the plants are ones I’ve never grown before so I am a bit curious as to what they will bring.. and of course I keep bringing the roses.

Normally my equinox consists of a simple garden ritual and a trip to the local nursery. I wander among the rows of baby plantlings and try to find the one that calls loudest. I take it home, build it an altar of offerings, and then plant it to see what it has to bring. This year I believe that decision has already been made and now I am just sitting in the empty.. waiting.

** Since writing this, the roses have budded and I have spent many hours in the garden toiling in contemplation of personal. What needs to stay and what needs to go? The answer isn’t always so easy.. and it’s still a work in progress.

Recently (ish), someone new came to me for direction. I said to them that the one thing I felt that was important to take away from these things is that you are building your path, not following a set of instructions. You get out of it the work you put into it. Do things as they call to you. Use the information and inspiration that feels right for you.. lay aside what doesn’t, even if at some point it did. Path is constantly evolving and you will always be learning if you decide to stay on it.. but it should be yours, not anyone else’s.

One of my witchlings said to me that I should write a post on that. I thought I wouldn’t.. I mean, I feel like I preach that all the time. People are surely tired of hearing it. I realize now that this time I needed to hear it.

and a bit about how I work with roses..

Love, passion, good fortune – such earthly desires are said to be linked to the rose. It all sounds so lovely, but one must remember the thorns. Thorns to entangle and draw blood.. of struggle and suffering.. she just isn’t the innocent beauty she seems.

I use the thorns for cursing and protection.. not even going to sugarcoat that. I bury pictures under the roots for the latter (a tidbit I picked up from a class I attended at Hexfest). I expanded on that with poppets or root bags that I want to get firmly choked and entangled by the roots for the former.

I combine the dried petals for incense, normally with basil and patchouli amongst a few other things. I use the fresh petals in making “Florida” water. I also make a honey elixir for my tea. When I have more than I can use, I often take the petals down to the graveyard and scatter them about the graves to honor those long dead.. but not forgotten.

 

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three days in

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I spent some time really looking at The Fool card before asking it to show me its spirit and tucking it away under my pillow. In my deck it is called The Wanderer and feels very liminal to me. It’s cloudy beneath The Fool’s bare feet.. one which is firm connecting to the earth and one poised to take that step into the unknown. The rainbow shows a path but The Fool cannot see what he is about to cross. His hands are out in surrender or welcome, the forest ahead is both menacing and full of mystery; and his back is to me.. is he willingly going forward or turning away from a situation which no longer serves? It feels like a pause to me. There is a face in the trees and something beckoning in the distance. It reminds me of a recent time when I had to make a choice in path to leave the road I started on, sure this was what I wanted and discovering that in fact it was just a connecting path to new friends and an even newer undertaking.. and again just this past weekend of a leaving behind of some things.

“Your goal is to make the cards an extension of you”.. such was the beginning of the course. I am taking 78 Days of Tarot which so far has been a spirit shaker.. and has found its way to me at the most perfect time.

I actually brushed up against The Fool early in the year, leaving a path that turned out not mine. In between that brush and when I took his hand, I spent some time breathing in the cleansing air rolling off the ocean with Walking Bear. It was the third anniversary of my fathers passing. Already so much had passed in the Wheel’s previous turn.

Soon after came a weekend of truths, giving me a view from the other side.. albeit in a different situation. This plunged me into a deep depression- the kind we are not supposed to talk about. I wanted to walk away from everything in life and spiritual. I was tired.. but then came Walking Bear’s call and slowly things moved back to okay.

The Shaman looks directly at me in challenge.. the answer is there but am I ready to know it? The spirals on his body make me think of cycles and the skulls about him are the knowledge keepers. He is draped in the skin of Bear as if they are one. This is a familiar card to me as it sits opposite the Seer in my deck and not only does he show when I need to hear my brother’s voice in my head, but when I find them together in the same reading then I know it has to do with us both. This card, when I pull it, is almost always Walking Bear.

“There are two sides to every story and the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle.”

This morning I drew the five of arrows.. frustration. I had to ask myself once again if I was the archer or if I was the goat.. and again, I was both. Last time I pulled this card I had gotten hurt pretty badly.

One side:
Yes, I am absent. Yes, I am lacking in providing the level of support you seem to expect. Yes, I am not a good friend in your eyes. I see all of your points and I understand where they are coming from. I have things holding my time that you may not deem important.. but I do, and maybe that could have been addressed with me directly. I can only do what I can do.. and I have made my peace.

*snick* I am closing that door, I cannot live up to your expectations, nor will I try to.

The other side:
I put on my big girl panties (by this time very worn and tattered.. I may need a new pair) and opened the discussion. Brutal honesty was given in the hopes of some sort of resolution.. there was not one. I could not truly summon the level of sympathy asked for. In the end, I didn’t like myself very much.. but it is what it is.

*snick* I am closing the door, it is time for me to step away.

The Seer is enveloped in the wisdom of owl, skull suspended from her neck. Her cloak echoes the Shaman’s. There is a carving of a Labyrinth supporting her vessel, filled with the reflective waters.. but her eyes are closed. She does not need it to see. The tree seems to whisper to her from behind as its roots reach out toward her.

Today was my walk with The Seer and I spent it trying to embrace silence.. but silence would not come. All of these things were still floating around in thought. I do not know the truth of the middle, I have only my truths to live by. The Seer stands in that middle, she is the gateway keeper and sometimes that is a painful place to be.

*snick-snick-snick* I close the door on the path not mine, I close the door on expectations that I cannot fulfill, I close the door on relationships that no longer serve; and though I may find myself sometimes in the middle.. I do not fear turning my back and walking off into the unseen. I am three days into this course, and already I have found so much..

 

 

 

around the fire

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Out in the wilderness around the fire, I sat with Walking Bear. Underneath was the impression of a mundane meal. As he was about to eat, he laid a piece of food as offering on the table but around the fire he handed me the small lifeless body of a robin. There was something special about the logs in the fire.. I had the impression they were fortuitous. The banshee came at me from behind, shoving my face in the dirt as I stuck my arms back in supplication. At the table, I started to leave but instead I forced myself to still. Back at the fire I asked the banshee, “what does she want?” I struggled to my feet as the banshee started choking me.

My husband woke me that night before I found the answer. I had been making choking sounds in my sleep. It was the eve of the solstice, around three in the morning.. always the threes.

I had stepped away from many things and had endured what I thought to be a decent amount of upheaval.. funny how thought works out. Yule passed, marking the last witchling gathering and I spent my 12 days in meditation with plans to tidy up some final decisions. The Cailleach shook out her cloak and what came with the snow was a deceptive quiet.

The new year had just made its rounds when the wheel took a chaotic spin and damn if all my tidy little decisions flew up into the air. Once again I found myself back at the place of hard decisions, and my twisty path was no longer clear. I found myself a bit unsure of where I might put my foot down and other than a few little inklings, I find spirit to be stubbornly quiet on the matter.

Do I trust in the beginning, taking the fools first step once again into the unknown of possibility. Do I stay the course and, much like the hanged man, surrender to the in-between to chance what is hidden. Or (*cackle), do I succumb to Baba’s comforting embrace.. stark as death, shutting tight the doors to sink into the quiet once again. Finding my thoughts in a jumble, I hover half in and half out of my hut with one foot in the air.. waiting.

 

swept away

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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.

sometimes strength comes from the kitchen floor

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(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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.