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.

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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.

 

 

a line in the sand

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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

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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

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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.

 

beyond division

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“..scales fall from your eyes.. resurrection, rebirth.. beyond division.. innocence and experience become one..” – Judgement card, the Mary-El Tarot

I’ve always liked the idea of working in cycles.. the fool making his journey to find oftentimes that he is back at the beginning, the seasons moving through time, the imagery of the serpent swallowing his tail. It all speaks to me of cycles and of revisiting things from a new point further along the path.

I often draw a card around Yule-ish to help figure where I want to start my work in the coming year.. what I need to be paying attention to. This past card was Judgement. It brought to mind that cycling back to things previously discarded and of which I am currently working on. She has visited me before on other matters and no doubt she will visit me again.

Early one evening, post equinox celebrations and plant fondling with friends, Lola and I found ourselves discussing earlier discussions.. and Judgement popped in to remind me of more work needed. As I said, she tends to do this every now and again.. only this time it was a little more personally.

I tend to be a very judgmental soul – at least in my own spiritual. I strive very hard to work through it, to be honest and vocal about it in my path. It’s important to me that although there may be times when my words are twisted, that I am upfront in such matters. I strive even harder in this said vocal to impart the point that I am applying it to my path – just mine, and beyond that it is of no matter. Everyone must judge for themselves the path they wish to tread.

Somehow though, I seem to (mostly) unintentionally squash some toes.. which generally isn’t my intention at all. My intention is and always has been to keep things open and (sometimes painfully) up front.. to be clear in my words. I am not so sure I always succeed. This is where, Judgement whispered, I had done Lola an injustice. I had not done so well at explaining our working relationship.. my response tends to be that I’m working with someone and honestly I tend to ignore most outside rabble.

It’s no big secret that I have a long standing dislike for rigid structure in my spiritual.. that mentor-student, priest/ess-initiate, syllabus-degree, insert-whatever-here thing that works so well for most is just not my cuppa. I am a terrible teacher and an even worse student. Shiny things distract me constantly. To be clear, I am not saying there is no value in the system but that for me personally I prefer an even exchange.. no one above another as everyone old and new I think brings something to the table, a free flow of discussion, a sharing of information. Luckily I don’t work in huge groups so it isn’t a difficult thing to accomplish.. this is what Lola and I base our practice around.

We did put together a very loose structure around those cycles of what we wanted to incorporate within each wheel turn and revisit it every season to decide on a focus. Sometimes we stick to it and other times spirit calls us in a different direction. Sometimes we compromise. Always we collaborate to make sure it is something that works for both of us.

We entered into this partnership with baggage and tangle. Make no mistake, we lost much and had lots of ugly bits to work through. Many things were loosed along the way to get to where we needed to be but we did it. We worked hard on those shadows and made those painful choices to come out with something beautiful. Owl had called us forward and spirit tied us tight as we stepped forward, took each other’s hand that day and on even footing, we answered her call. I doubt either of us take it lightly. We shouldn’t.. it was hard work.

“Scales fall from your eyes.. resurrection, rebirth.. beyond division.. innocence and experience become one..” Who here holds the innocence and who holds the experience? We both do.

the ring of fire

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The midpoint between winter and spring came in threes again for me this turn. Many associate this time with the goddess Brigid and the parting of the winter crone Cailleach’s rein. Brigid is of the hearth.. of fire and healing.. of prophecy and light.. of cow, ewe, cockerel, and snake. I tend to embrace the serpent aspect of cycles at this time and the coming light.

Dolls, crosses, and beds are traditionally made to honor Brigid. Offerings are left in hopes that she will bless one’s home with fortune and well-being. Feasts are made. Fires are lit.. all to bring in the new and to celebrate the first stirrings of the approaching spring. I’ve never really been one to make the dolls, crosses, and beds. I usually light candles throughout the house. My feet during this time are planted firmly in the realm of honoring fire and serpent.. of the coming warmth and the shedding of skin.

Sometime before this turn of the wheel, I spoke with Lola. I told her how I felt this turn was bringing a solid break in many things that we had been working to release. She felt it too.. the slow and steady climb.. the joy sneaking in. The cards spoke of a definite close to said things.. the wind carrying them off with a heavy sigh of a great weight lifted.

My first celebration was a simple candle lighting at the hearth.. I am a big fan of simple. It involved a cup of tea, some cat cuddling, and much quiet contemplation. Later in the week, I went to dinner with some old friends. Lola and I left honeyed milk out in the garden. Cin lit the fire pit and we burned away those things left unsaid.

My third found me with those closest, all of which have become family to me.. spirit has tied us pretty tight over the past year and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It was to there that I carried my first Brigid’s cross that I have made in ever. On it I wrote our names.. these are the people who stand with me to weather the storms and they are home to me.

We danced a silly, happy dance around the tree to silly, happy music.. to wake the serpent and honor these cycles. We drank and feasted. We tossed our offerings into the fire.. for me it was tobacco, the heart stone gifted to me by Blau so long ago, and the Brigid’s cross. It was a goodbye to that which was broken and a call for prosperity for us all in this new growth to come.. and it ended with some very wise words from the Dudiest Dude- “fuck yeah!”