Monday, September 29, 2014

Darkyear turning

Now is the darkyear.  I observed the change-of-suns as I have for the last decade, spending my time meditating on the exchange of light to dark and dark to light twice a year, marveling at the glory and wonder of the seasonal changes, making exciting plans and grieving what was lost.  An Cailleach, the hag of winter, the stoney blue-skinned, brittle-boned owl in the frost, carved from darkness, clutching in her hands the cold sun, she rides now.  She is the bride of winter, and I observe her movement with feasting, drinking, missing my loved ones and honoring the finality that permeates the early autumn air.  I also welcomed the king of the dead, of harvest and hunt; now's the time when the dark host rides in the wind and the night lead by the Horned One, wild and shrieking. Between a cauldron of bones and a cornucopia of gathered harvest, stands always the witch, readied for the change of seasons.  We lit our candles, we drank our mead and recited The Song of Lugus and Rosemerta, burned a wicker effigy in the bone pot and reveled in that warm, happy feeling you get when death moves around you.

I spent much of the last few weekends replenishing my stock with this years harvest.  Most of the time I keep sal negro, red dust, brick dust, ghost dust, sal de mar,  orris root spice, white bone spice and polvo de sangre (made with real blood) among other dusts, powders and salts; some for sigil drawing, others for more practical hands on magic.  Each different kind of dust requires entirely different conditions for their creation, sometimes it takes months to prepare just one vial full of a spice, but the results are well worth it; when the bones are rubbed red and the black circle is drawn, it is well worth the effort.  My oils from the summer didn't work out so well, but the weeping birch-sap and honey amber incense I made smells like heaven baking in a sunbeam.  My oak gall ink turned out black as night, thick and smelling of forest and the shade under roots.

Around this time of year, different people or branches of family ask me to come over and perform blessings. The spirits are "acting up", so they call me.  I show up with my kit; powders, philters, dusts and spices, keys, oracles, candles-- tools of all kind, rolled up into my travel bag.  Usually the family plies me with wine and smoke to get me to leave my hermitage, and in exchange I cross the house in black dust, bind it in red dust, circle it in white dust, cross the windows, bind the doorways, seal the wood-stove, hearth and chiminea, bury the blessed nails and break the old spell bottles.  To drive away restless spirits; a bitter root smoke, to bring peace; palo santo, then sage to bless every living or non living soul within.  I sit alone with the dead, poor wine into basins carved from years of Seattle rain the foundations of the big family house, share honeyed whiskey cakes and whatever else I'm asked to procure.   My craft is far different from my mom's medicine, my sister's healing magic, my tia's voodoo, or auntie's oraciones, and I serve a specific function I suppose, which comes in handy when the spirits get restless. If it were as "simple" as purification or warding bad dreams, ma or the aunties can handle it, but when people start getting nervous, they call me.  Usually I just serve as seer for my family, their friends and extended relations of my own, but between Last Harvest and samhuinn I get busy; the wine starts pouring and I have too much fun dancing with the dead.  When the land slows down and the air grows cold, I seem to truly come alive.   

Saturday, August 9, 2014


To the woods, for nightshade, coneflower, cornflower, pears, apples, vervain, mullein and old clay mud from under the rotting pines.

The flowers bust form every corner of the meadow, a blue ocean in between islands of ancient broom bushes.

and I bless every herb at the altar of the ancestors, witches and old gods.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


I spent the Solstice high in the mountains, communing with the luminary sol, the light-bringer, the first fire.  It lit a torch deep down that was sleeping, some part of me that was tucked away over the winter and unable to shake the frost until just then.  

I lay in the moss beds dotting the vernal pools low on the side of the mountain, and left my offerings in the nurse logs of cedar, decaying at their bases and blooming at the top.  I was visited, in the bright dapples of light between firs and pines by two spirits; a hoard of bats who quietly circled above our sacrificial fire on their way out of the caves for breakfast, and a small black beetle who crawled into the cauldron when the first prayers were sang and shuffled away just as the fires were put out. 

Nothing material was taken from the wood that day, nothing disturbed carelessly.  I had expected to find my enchanter's nightshade, gather some rotting cedar and pine resin but instead I left as quietly as I came, feeling the kind of completion I only feel when I'm out in the wild.  When the solstice was over, we both made the long drive home in silence, reveling in that kind of peace and contemplation you feel after you've communed successfully with the spirits and the land in harmony.  That harmony is the core function of my spirituality, I am renewed by it.  

Some religions function out there without a real feeling of connection to the land, or to the spirits that permeate all life, not just human.  I'll never understand how that works.  Nature, all of nature in this world and the cosmos is a function so grand and magnificent it steals my breath sometimes.  My faith that there are an eternity of mysteries out there keeps me grounded and spiritual.  Marveling at the world growing and heaving and shifting around me, breathing and absorbing, groaning under our weight and flexing her strength, I wonder to myself why so many seek god so far up and so far away; why need seek a god at all if you don't want to, when there is so much around us in existence to honor above all?  
“Our ancestors worshiped the Sun, and they were not that foolish. It makes sense to revere the Sun and the stars, for we are their children"  -Carl Sagan
The sun, fiery and inspiring is the luminary of this day.  This illumination is one of strength, life-giving, godly power and sacrifice.  To the sun, I honor with fire and flesh.  For all the warmth the sun gives, so much is burned away.   You can't ask anything from the spirits without offering something in return; even the smallest considerate gesture can change the way you come to perceive all the living and non-living entities around you.  I stuffed the straw doll with my sacrifice in flesh and blood, and lit it ablaze, and strew the ashes in the most fertile path of undergrowth and wild flowers I found in the vernal pool forest; in a patch of sunlight so bright it illuminated my soul.