Quarantine Tarot: My Top 2020 Decks

A year.  An entire year now in basic quarantine.  Even as we phase to reopening, we have only recently become vaccinated enough to start hanging out more, planning events.  Like many tarot readers, I found myself incredibly blacked-out divination-wise during the lockdown.  I didn't want to explore the past, present or future.  I was tired of seeing disaster on every horizon, grief in every path... I just took a break and started focusing on practical crafts to keep my wandering mind busy.  The crushing anxiety of a pandemic, chronic illness, book release and personal losses made everything about reading for my path (or anyone else) just a nauseating thought.  And frankly, I've never gone so long in my life without being asked for a reading, which was honestly a breath of fresh air.  

But, all that aside, I never let go of my love for the cards.  I kept the collection growing, exploring what these incredible authors and artists from around the world have to offer.  And while 2020 may have been the dickiest year I've ever lived through, I have never been so impressed with the direction that cartomancy is taking. If you have been at a loss for inspiration and direction after a year sitting with this ridiculous nonsense of a past year, then maybe some of these fabulous offerings from 2020/21 will give you some fire.  I mean, these decks are fire.


1. The Infernal Tarot by E. Pollitt


I had begun backing this project in 2020 and it is a phenomenal deck, one that should prove very interesting for readers into that old-world demonology vibe.  Bendy, smooth, thinner cardstock, great gold edges, the etching/woodblock style is fascinating and the colors were a nice slash against the more muted background.


2. Materia Prima by Uusi


Uusi is basically the premium deck maker of our day with some really astonishing offerings in their catalogue, this large deck based on the periodic elements and their relationship to our universe is an interconnected journey through the spiritual interpretation of science and really takes some getting used to.  Those who know their chemistry will really excel with this deck, but people a little less familiar with the science will need to make sure they get the booklet that accompanies.  Perfect cardstock, silky and probably some of the highest quality you can get. Unboxing below...


3. Jonasa Jaus 5th Edition

Every green witch in the world needs this deck.  It's literally green!  And yellow, and black, and white.  It's seriously a wonderful pallet.  Floral, feminine, sensual and emotional, it is my favorite overall artwork for the 2020 picks and I highly recommend ordering her other editions as well.  What I loved was that the cards tell everyone a different story, and they tell me the story of a lush, wild, shaded garden and a woman's romantic journey through it. All of the editions are fascinating, and this edition is wider than a typical deck, but not too difficult to shuffle.  I'm a big fan of the overall aesthetic and you will be too. Unboxing below...


4. Ad Orbita

A wonderful offering through Old Rose Press is an interesting combination of nature and space, teaming planets and stars with rooted vines and seashells.  For those who prefer to do some work in interpreting and who dig the poetry of the abstract, this deck is very appealing.  While the cards are a bit heavy, and the deck is thick enough to be a little difficult for a traditional shuffle, I can't complain because as always, the quality is just so damn fine and the simplicity is refreshing.


5. True Heart Intuitive Tarot

Beloved figure in the world of witchy media Rachel True brings us a long awaited gift that really stood out last year in the best way.  Offering hope, guidance, positivity, color and inclusion, this deck was a splash of good vibes in a dreary year, and really reflects the wonderful evolution of tarot styles.  Frankly this is the deck I'd get anyone looking to start because it is so easily interpreted.  The packaging was great, the accompanying booklet was thorough and useful and frankly the whole thing looks really unique and classic at the same time.


Seriously, if you need to reawaken during these, the vaccine times, then these decks are ready to guide you.

North American Witches

Cover-art by A. Jimenez, from Folkloric Witchcraft and the Multicultural Experience by Via Hedera


Nightflyer, Spirit Wanderer-  we fly in our dreams, or by other means, alone or in teams, under moon beams, on the backs of horses, without their skins, to the hilltop with the Devil and all of his friends.


Shapeshifter-
changing into beetles, black and fat; wandering through keyholes as a frog or a cat. To unshoe horses or just to make mischief, or to haunt the barn like a common milk-thief.


Healer- of the living


Hexer- unforgiving


Diviner of unknown things: tells fortunes from eggs and rings, makes friends with the damned and reads omens in hands and sees whatever your future will bring.


Conjuror of spirits- who dwells between worlds, who opens doors for the dead; and makes spirits tremble as they wander the wood, in awe, and in honor, and dread.


Speaker to bees,

Fly as we please;

Worshiping at idols,

And braiding our bridles.

Knotting up love charms,

Cursing your side-arms.

Summoning the blue-jay,

keeping rivals away,

put lizards inside you,

make nightmares that ride you.

Snake-rooter, dairy looter,

Hair-ball and bullet-shooter.

Hilltop matron,

Crossroad patron.

Hair-tangler--

Mind-mangler;

Bone-boiler,

And body oiler.

Through a keyhole,

And through the sieve;

Dancing at Midsummer and All Hallows' Eve.

Through thick, through thin
and way over the hillside;
we are new world witches,
and that's how we ride.

-Via Hedera

Vernal Awakening: News, Revisions and Spring


Awakening:

It's up to the cherry blossoms and dandelions now... it's up to the sun and the new day.

Whoa this has been a lot.  I mean a lot.  Have you ever stood in the shallows only to look over your shoulder at a massive wave as it inevitably rolls towards you?  I have.  I remember that moment on a beach in California.  Vague memories of visiting the wildlife center, and then down to a crowded beach with waves so sudden and high, they scared me to death.  That what Spring has been since last I wrote here- a tremendous wave coming right at me.  Thrilling, fun, daunting, humbling, sad.

Out there, beyond the walls of pre-vaccinated restrictions, there is a world itching to open up.  We plan to hit the road for summer, see the Oregon high desert, Yosemite, the Bay and back up the Coast again, scouting new living locations along the way.  We're westerners to our bones and prefer to stay over here, but the world is changing and it's time to go see it.  Spring is about movements, and we are all so jittery.

If you're feeling very jittery, one way to pass the time is by going outside- to the garden, wide-open parks, to the greenbelts, national parks to places where the land is greening and changing (and you can be safely distanced from others).  Watch those changes each time you go to a place, the turning of buds overnight into bushels of flowers, the awakening of spiders in every corner.  Remind yourself that life is a cycle, and it is always changing to a rhythm.  Not much left to do after that but dance the jitters out.


Spring:

Did you know that I have a YouTube channel?  Featuring folk charms in real life; everything from clay withering hearts, to tarot unboxing, to black witch-bottles  The channel hasn't been updated in a little while due to winter/covid, but now that the daylight has returned, so will the videos.  I'm working on covering every aspect of folk-magic that I find interesting, including rat-letters and egg fortunes.  Mostly. I'm aiming to get better equipment and take more time to show off the beauty of the Northwest.

Updates:

Last I wrote here, I was waxing poetic on the sweetness of Valentines Day, but since then there's been a lot of spring changes; small improvements to my long declining lung health, a scheduled vaccine, a new bunny buddy, a book debuted to kind and compassionate responses, I've finished a bunch of deadlines and now have more time for art, parks volunteer opportunities are restarting for the spring, I'm transferring to complete my major, looking to leave the area and start new adventures elsewhere... but then again, who isn't trying to move right now?   Seems like the pandemic has given us all the itch to get closer to family and further from the expense of the metro areas...  I guess we're all free-falling a bit, standing before the wave...

I've been getting a lot of wonderful questions and feedback about my statues, the writing and some of my social media content and it's been incredibly humbling and kind.  Being able to speak with the fine folk over at That Witch Life Podcast was a highlight of my year honestly, they were so welcoming and forward and funny and open-- it's that kind of energy that makes me grateful for the community we've built- a sentiment I expressed recently with Cory over at New World Witchery Podcast.  It's always a pleasure to speak to Cory, to bond over our mutual appreciation for so much magical shit in the world.  And if you somehow didn't know, Cory has a new book out that you simply MUST have in your collection!

Those of us flying free on that wild magic seem to be coalescing into a mutually respectful and supportive niche community of witchy weirdos and being able to nerd out like this the last month or two has brought me some incredible peace at a time of incredible fear and stress in the world.  A huge de-stressor was hanging with Lori over at My American Melting Pot Podcast and vibing on the mystique and media of witchery.  Hanging out with so many writer and speakers and thinkers in the world of multiculturalism and magic has been incredibly humbling, and I'm thankful for it.


Authors Note: A Vital Revision to Folkloric Witchcraft and the Multicultural Experience: A Crucible at a Crossroads

In the process of writing and publishing we meet all sorts of challenges and difficulties.  Most authors I talk to walk away feeling just a little more anxiety, as there are always parts of their books that needed  a seconds more attention in the editing process.  While there are a few noticeable inconsistencies in the punctuation and typeface, a glaring error that must be addressed is the misidentification of the tribal affiliation of story-teller Vi Hilbert, who belongs to the Upper Skagit people of the Pacific Northwest and is a revered figure in the cultural restoration movement of Lushootseed-speaking tribes of the Puget Sound.  It is imperative that I correctly identify this elder and I apologize for this mis-affiliation and ask that readers please make a note of this change going forward in current editions, and be aware that that e-books will be updated and print editions revised going forward.  With love, support and acknowledgement to the first people of the Pacific Northwest and their traditional territories.


"by way of ivy"
via Hedera

Valentine VVitch


“Of flowers and plants employed as love-charms on certain festivals may be noticed the bay, rosebud, and the hempseed on St. Valentine’s day, nuts on St. Mark’s Eve, and the St. John’s Wort on Midsummer Eve.- Thomas Firminger Thiselton Dyer, The Folk-lore of Plants


St. Valentine's day, a day imbued with the folk magic of love and romance; more common to the early American superstitious fabric of the common people than the old pagan fertility rites are.  There's something about Valentine's that makes love magic feel normal in the world for a moment, for everyone, even those who would typically never dabble in magic.  It's a social more than spiritual day, and there's something strangely likeable about the energy as it shifts and people put passion and love and thought into romance and friendship and desire.

"Before going bed, sprinkle a sprig of rosemary ad a sprig of thyme three times with water, place one in each shoe, put a shore on each side of the bed and say: “St. Valentine that’s to lovers kind,
Come ease the trouble of my mind,
And send the man that loves me true
To take the sprigs out of my shoe.”"

- Morrison, Lillian, p. 23, Touch Blue



"All who walk on St. Valentine's day should wear a yellow crocus; it is the Saint's especial flower and will ward off all evil in love."
- C.L Daniels, Encyclopedia of superstitions, folklore, and the occult sciences of the world

Love Magic,  that's my bailiwick.  Where sweet tastes meet rough feelings, where fury meets frenzy, where want and infatuation are a detonation... that's the realm I most enjoy.  It is not always moral, it is not always wise.  It is a short fire, one that burns quick and lingers after.  I like the kind of magic that send shivers up your legs when you reminisce about it years later.  Red magic, that's what this is to me.  That place where amorous and relentless spirits reside; the ones they talk about in the old folklore, you know, the succubae and night riding hag, the specter who tangles the hair of men in their sleep.  I don't dabble in it for myself much, but I love working with and for others.  Never direct love spells; no names used, no pictures of specific people- I've got my rules, my hard-stops.  But to inspire lust?  Spells of attraction, charms of allure, bewitching cosmetics and persuasive incantations... now that, I do.  St. Valentine's day has become one of the many days of romance and love that I dedicate a moment of my life to that red and pink and wild magic.

Bird Augury
It was believed once that birds pick their mates on St. Valentine’s day. Those birds of specific color who foretell the occupation of a future lover on St. Valentine’s day:

A blackbird- a man of the clergy

A redbreast- a sailor

A goldfinch- a millionaire

A yellowbird- a reasonably rich man

A sparrow- love in a cottage

A bluebird- poverty

A crossbill- a quarrelsome husband

A wryneck- no marriage

A flock of doves- good luck in marriage in every way

A seahawk- 11 handsome hard-headed, broad-shouldered husbands and a rainy wedding


"If you meet a bird in a scarlet vest on St. Valentine's day, you will follow your love to the beat of the drum."

"If you chance on that day to meet a goldfinch or any yellow bird, it is extremely lucky."

- C.L Daniels, Encyclopedia of superstitions, folklore, and the occult sciences of the world


It may not be some ancient pagan festival- a far cry from the old Lupercalia of Rome, but it is the modern feast of love itself in the Western World, and we folk witches find magic in everywhere we can, especially in the old charms, tricks and incantations associated with St. Valentine's day. Just like Midsummer, May day, Halloween and New Year's, St. Valentine's day was ripe for the practice of love spells and romantic magic.  As always, divinations and fortunes are the popular pastime of the day; involving bay leaves and sprigs of rosemary, involving sweet scented waters and warm fires.  Hail to all those red and wild spirits that fill the day with kindness and passion.

Incantation spoken when tossing a pinch of salt into a fire every Friday for three Fridays: “It is not this salt I wish to burn,
it is my lovers heart to turn,
that he may neither rest nor happy be,
until he comes and speaks to me.”
-Salt in the Fire Charm, p. 13- Duncan Emrich, The Folklore of Love and Courtship


“A popular charm consisted of placing two bay leaves, after sprinkling them with rose-water, across the pillow, repeating this formula:
“Good valentines, be kind to me,
On dreams let me my true love see.”"

- Thomas Firminger Thiselton Dyer, The Folk-lore of Plants



Further Reading:
  • The Folklore of Love and Courtship- Duncan Emrich
  • Touch Blue- Lillian Morrison
  • Love Charms- Elizabeth Pepper
  • The Folklore of Plants- Thomas Firminger Thiselton Dyer
  • Magical Symbols of Love and Romance- Richard Webster

Return, Return, Let the Evergreens Burn

Resurge and Reemerge, come back dear sun, and warm the land again...

The Solar Virtue, the first god, the old god, the spirit of the sky, the great one referred to by so many of our ancestors.  It is the life giver, the illuminator of both day and night, bestower of lunar light, bringer of famine and plight, lord of justice, rule and right, god of music, math and second sight, eater of self and eventual devourer of this world.  It is our sacred star, the holiest to us because it alone shines the light upon which we depend.  Evolver, blessed bringer of fire, crown of the Horned, when our declination is such that the sun is less present, we feel it deep in our primal bones- perhaps many living things do.



One’s perception of the season depends on their culture, their religion, their country, themselves.  Where I live, on the west coast of North America, winterstide is rather particular, with a vibe that translates across the land, across peoples.  The colors of white and gold, red and green, silver and bronze; the smells of cinnamon, nutmeg, evergreens and roast; the icy mornings and short days- this is what Midwinter feels in my life.  It’s a spicy, savory, sweet taste, a chill in the air that is unbearable some nights.  I like nut spice flavored rustic winter, not peppermint candy cane consumer Christmas.  The woodstoves and the wooly sweaters, the baked goods and sad stories of the frost and ghosts of the season.  I like the part where the sun returns, and mornings become bright again.
Spirit: Ivy

Spirit: Holly

Spirit: Mistletoe

The Sun shapes how I mark the days and the seasons, personally- something that’s always kept me grounded, feeling connected to the terrestrial sacredness, to tangible reality when I live so much of my life in the otherworld.  Most modern pagans have some kind of sacred calendar, some “wheel of the year” that they use to mark the changes of moon and tide and season.  These days, that wheel usually consists of the 8 sabbats.  But what about folk witches like me?  Beltane isn’t May day, and Imbolc, like Mabon are not the names used to mark those tides in the world I’m living in.  My sacred calendar contains many branches; holidays, holy days, feasts, moons and celebrations.  Like many pagans, it’s the equinox and solstices that interest me most- the worship of the sun being so deeply rooted in our veins calls to me.

This year, it will be more reflective than usual, a time to meditate on the sun’s return as symbolic of healing renewed and the promise of something after the cold, the dark and the silence.  I’ll candlewalk around the home and deep in the wood, guiding the spirits as I go, letting the light glimmer on the frost, letting it guide me through the dark night as the sun does through the day.  I’ll build a maze from the boughs and light it to its heart and wander. I’ll pop hollies in the fire and bind wreaths all together.  A candle will be lit and, barring ill omen, will remain so until after midnight on the solstice.  The home will smell like nutmeg, the wine will be red and the days will be painfully short as we wait for the sun to return.

The First Frost


When I look out my window...  the leaves are yellow brown and the trees are near bare anyhow.  Rain flies, the wind is breaking branches.  The sun peaks through occasionally, tossing a cold orange glow over the hillsides, but mostly, a gray has set in. It's stormy in every way around here, and yet for some reason, I haven't felt so focused in years.   Maybe it's the realization that things may finally change around here that makes me feel inspired to change... I can't tell.  The storms have come; it's always the way this time of year.  What follows is the freezing rain, the icy roads, the bitterness of every morning as we step from warm sheets onto frigid floors.  The hags of winter have begun to walk.


The Hag...
She is the queen of witches you know. But which one do you fly with in that chilly night?  There are many hags of the night, many old mothers of the shadows, old gods of the wind and dark.  Those spirit-witches rule the sky, hunt along the encroaching frost. The winter hag, is a consuming spirit, a night flyer, going along those ghost roads, corpse paths, among bare branches and concealed in the evergreens.  She is the land as it becomes hardened and stony, she shapes it as she goes, and shape shifts as she steps.  She, and her Lord of Silence, flying over land, today in the shape of a rising storm.  The amanitas are out, the lunaria pods are broken, the energy in the world feels like upheaval and unsteadiness, a great breath before a blow.  I align with the hags, and ready myself to fly.  It's going to be a very stormy winter, in every way.

Homecraft
Aside from writing a contribution to an upcoming book, writing a second book, finishing Morgan's piece's paint job and fighting with lungs, there's the simple comfort tasks to keep the mind off the increasing isolation presented by the virus.  Warding illness and disease takes many forms, as does warding boredom; dyeing wool, brown-sugar butter brittle up some walnuts, candied and rolled cranberries, walnut-cran buns, drying apples, drying amanita, pouring tinfoil-mold candles... The countertops are stained with resin, the floor burned in places now... This is a place that welcomes household spirits more than ever- the kind that help you keep house and tend to your basic needs as a family.  Some have reappeared and others are new, but all the spirits who gather in the kitchen or around warm places seem comforted by the sweets and laughter that is building here.


What would normally be a summer, fall and winter full of pesticide conferences and social justice training has become zoom check-ins and log-keeping.  What used to be hitting the bar with the crew every other week has become meeting 6 feet apart in the woods on cold, windy afternoons.  What is normally witchy pop-up market mingling is now etsy browsing.  The introvert that is me adores the distance from others, but the witch that is me always prefers to walk among others.  As the trees become bare, you can see further into the distance, all the mysteries between being stripped away and we slip into a strange winter, a lonlier one.  That's why it's important to practice your crafts, hone your skills and find a way to keep your mind occupied with creation.  You'll need the skill of creativity when times change again.  We always need the magic of creativity.

The Cold Clay...
One statue left, just one- a years long promise finally being fulfilled.  I hate when I lose my inspiration to sculpt, my passion- I just haven't had it in me to push through these last commissions during the last few years.  Right now, it's just me and this work, staring at one another every day.  Every day I add a little, take a little off, paint, change, repaint... Painting is such a bitch.  I always get stuck here, and change is slow to come.  But the turn of the tides has brought with it a sense of renewal. Now, I need to wake this fairy queen up from her long rest and push through the paint process (the part I genuinely hate).  And come December, I'll finally be ready for more.  This time around, I intend to do my own ideas and work, take on less commissions and stick to expressing myself.

years long overdue work for a sister in the artes

I've had visions of the Apple Mother more and more and want to put her to clay.  Apples are such an eternal symbol.  When their blossoms bloom in spring, I fairly swoon for their baby fine scent.  When they emerge in the summer, I feel the growth in my skin, in my soul, and I see Her smiling between the branches.  Come summer's end it's mead and cider season and the fruit are dropping all around.  But now comes the first frost, the apples that remain on the vine ferment into sacks of sweet chilly cider, and those on the ground become mushy cobblers for the rats and raccoons.  Year round, there is always an occasion to celebrate the apple, its symbolism and its magic is something that is ever present.  And She haunts me.


So, I must make her faces in the clay.  Young and wise, old and beautiful, ripening and wilting.  There's others too- kitchen witches, harvest mothers, ivy gods and Pan...  I sculpt for myself, which is why most of my statues are very feminine, but I've been feeling less about my old self, so I want to try neutral and masculine work.  It's an energy that's different from mine, I wonder what I'll do with it.   But for now, I come to terms with the past and put an end to those chapters before the frost takes root.


A Note...
Change has come with the frost.  I hope it brings something real.  I want the world to be cool and green, I want people to be responsible and selfless.  I want people to grow exhausted with hate and grow passionate for evolution.  I want to take what I've learned these last nine months in quarantine and share these domestic crafts with friends.  Right now, my bubble small due to my high risk (pulmonary disease), but I look forward to the future with optimism because I had exceptional plans for the witch's tides of 2020 and now, who knows, I'm hoping come next Venus Day, I won't be writing about spending it stuck inside the same place, baking the same tart...  We're all hoping that spring will bring something new.  For now, we wait, beneath the frost.

A Selection of Familiar Shapes

On the Shapes  in Nature Taken by Familiar Spirits
“The deed was signed in the blood of the witch and horrible ceremonies confirmed the compact. Satan then gave his ally a familiar in the form of a dog , ape , cat , or other animal , usually small and black , and sometimes an undisguised imp.”Terri Hardin, Treasury of American Folklore: Our Customs, Beliefs, and Traditions
Owl- The Old Hag of Night
The owl witch is an old one.   These familiars are well endowed with witching art and are in the service to the darkest mothers the world over.  As a familiar, thy serve witches as messengers, as trackers, as omens and as guides for necromancy.  Owl familiars are not to be treated lightly, and ought to be given their freedom to move.  Their ultimate service is to the dark mothers, those queens of underworld and inferno and so their wisdom must be respected.  Unlike some familiars which are sometimes brought to heel by force, this one is selective and requires wooing.
The most important creatures in American witchlore were familiars; demon servants that took the form of living animals in order to surreptitiously serve the enchanters.  Familiars were indispensable in casting spells, but by disguising themselves as normal beasts of the wilderness, the spirits could move undetected through the countryside, spring upon innocent citizens and performing evil assignments.”- Sally Smith Booth, The Witches of Early America




 Mouse & Rat- Little Devils
The rat and mouse class of familiars ought to be approached carefully and with planning.  Many spirits, shape-changers and demons take the shape of rats and mice for their work, and a familiar in this shape often works in company with others.  Offerings of food and shelter are often enough to draw a whole nest of hard-working familiars who will nuisance any neighbor you despise.  They can be politely reasoned with through well-written letters but are quite difficult to get rid of.  If this familiar appears, the witch will move swiftly and with cunning, and be given access to hard to reach places.
Rabbit- Jack-in-the-Graveyard
To select this familiar spirit, one need not obtain the foot.  Witches appear as rabbits quite often, and familiar spirits of all manner wear the skin of a rabbit to hide their true faces; it is one of the easiest forms to attain and familiars to encounter.  They are a lucky, swift and self-preserving friend, a valuable spirit.  Rabbit witches are not to be crossed, as harming one brings an instant hex, unless a silver bullet is used.
Frog and Toad- The Living Thing Within
Though a selector of familiars would recognize lizards, toads and frogs as components to hex work, they are also valuable familiars.  A familiar who takes this form is long associated with our kind and provides a plethora of innate gifts such as healing prowess, weather reading, communication with other spirits and usefulness in the production of elixirs and potions designed to harm others.  The killing of toads and frogs is taboo, as witches often take these forms.
Cat- Ye Olde Familiar
By bone and by black fur, the cat is an old mask of the practitioner and a highly prized form for a familiar to take.  Those who wander out of their skins and into another will find the cat an easy form to shape, and as a familiar spirit, the cat is quite loyal and powerful.  Its very bones emanate with the power of invisibility, initiation, conjuring and divination.  A familiar in the shape of the cat will guard a witch but only at its own leisure.

Horse- The Nightmare
The horse as a familiar spirit or wearing it's shape will give the witch a distinct advantage in nightriding, shapeshifting and travel.  Witches may even be able to turn humans into horses to use as they please as though they are familiar spirits themselves.  This familiar can assist a witch in dreamwork and flight.
Hog- Swine Haint
A hog is a form often taken by the witch, and witches are known to bewitch pigs belonging to others, but they are also a permissible familiar spirit that can perform tasks for witches of all manner.  They are wise, unassuming and will serve as a suitable specter for the night-riding hag witch.  A hog bewitched or a familiar hog can torment others by spoiling their crops or spoiling their dreams with the squeals of unholy songs.  A witch hog is hunted by silver bullet and pokeberry, so these things ought to be avoided.

Mole- The Magician
The selection of the mole for one’s familiar spirit is a bloody affair. Familiar moles evade the law, harbor the gift of invisibility, the healing virtues that take away disease, and general command of the magical arts.  This familiar is promised to remove obstacles and block other witches from being a burden.  The difficulty of this familiar is attainment, as it must offer itself, or, be taken.  If the former, this bond is forged in roots and dirt; if the latter, the mole must be crushed in the left hand and the heart and or liver consumed quickly before the paws and teeth are removed and set to dry.
Beetle- The Death Watcher
A familiar who takes the form of the beetle is one who is well adept to traversing the keyhole.  It is the teller of death, rain, thunder and will be useful in delivering forewarnings as a familiar.  Its gift is that it may wander in small places and keep watch without notice.  The black beetle will climb into beds and pinch one’s enemies and will find their way back to the witch even in the deepest darkness. Sadly, the beetle familiar is easily captured in an anti-witching bottle.


Familiars, whether shaped as ghastly specters or as everyday animals, were not thought capable of sustaining themselves without nourishment.”- Sally Smith Booth, The Witches of Early America


The Odd Shape
These can take the shapes of specters, winds, lights or shadows, or, fantastical shapes. Some of the devils and imps of witchlore which appear to witches and non-witches alike look like fireballs moving on the wind, or appear as dust-devils kicked-up on a breezeless day. Some may have the ability to take on shapes we recognize in our animal kingdom while others take rare and strange forms unnatural to our perspective. These spirits may appear before a witch in forms simple and strange, silly and odd, or so terrible it nearly breaks the mind to try and comprehend. The sacred geometry of some spirits is a fascinating thing; that the spirits in their unseen forms can be greater in size than imagination, smaller than reckoning and can be in shapes that twist the eyes and stun the mind. They can be twisted and terrible, wrenching to behold, the very stuff that inspired the horrors of hells’ mythology or perhaps celestial beauty. Their bodies can be infinite fractals winding in and out of themselves, undulating with the deeper maths of the universe, or simple and senseless things- barely imagined, barely there, a simple wisp of an idea lost on the wind. A spirit is not always a familiar face, sometimes, it is so vastly foreign that we are instantly repelled. What is beauty in one universe can be a nightmare in another and the shapes of familiar spirits can take these drastic and diverse forms, but most typically, entities appear in forms suitable to our world; our animal and plant and mineral allies, aspects of nature that can trick our eyes and the eyes of others.

The Scythe Moon and Feast of Nuts


The Harvest Moon is the moon of my birth.  I came into this world after the equinox had passed, on a moon’s day under a waxing moon, and it has landed so again this year.  I resonate with this time and the taste and smells of autumn.  These in-between and transitional times are when I feel most alive, even in such a time of death.  The reaping was heavy this year- the summer burned in more ways than one.  Back in May, I had hoped that by the time the scythe moon came, that things would be calm and normalcy might look like possibility rather than a memory.  At this point, I don’t even know what will happen but I know that the harvest sickle swings hard in the heat.

The time when the leaves turn, the dying grass, the fall of the corn and the preparations of preserved goods is a sacred moment for the human species of mammal; it’s a bloody, hot, burning reminder of the turning of things, the ever constant change over which we have no real control.  The autumnal equinox of this, the Year of Hell, the Covidian Era, falls on a Martian day, under a waxing sickle of a crescent moon as it moves into the arms of the archer.  The sun passes hands around this time.  Those gods of the green and fruiting world mature into wicker men and rose queens, corn mothers and sickle gods, and go into the land as they do, making space for those spirits who dwell in the turn of the leaves, and in the frosts that creep.  Those hags of winter and lords of silence enjoy their rides along the land, bringing with them the hush of the snow, and the endless dark. But for now, the sun is still high, the horizon is ablaze with fire and smoke, and the nights are still hopelessly hot.


Harvest season brings with it all the fun feasts of the season; the feast of grains and the feast of apples have passed with midsummer and highsummer, now is the time for the maples, the buckeyes, and feast of oaks.  This is when the black blood of the god-trees can be drawn out; the oak-gall and the walnut are here to be bled, and to serve.  The oak harvest is one of my very favorites-- the whole season of the nut really.  The feast of oaks takes place when the acorns ripen and the galls grow brown- the wasps have left but the many crawling mysteries within remain.  The horse chestnuts split and bounce down the hills, crushed under wheel, poking up in the grass. We feed on the oaks and chestnuts, hazels and walnuts, and all those good things, to honor the old gods, the strong and ancient arboreal gods.   Around this time, I feel like the Apple Woman and the Lord of Oaks share a kinship, a balance.  These liminal spirits appear a lot in my life, as doorways and symbols, as heralds and omens.  Their names sound long and ancient in my ears, airy words that I speak only with them. 


 But they aren't the only ones who speak to me clearly this time of year; the horse chestnut trees I've worshiped under and bled for and fed and honored have come to bare fruit.  I only pick from these trees and I have since I was a kid.   The horse chestnuts and buckeyes as a personification represent luck, and the protection of good health, but as a personal acquaintance, these particular spirits are teachers of all kinds of loving green art- whispering advice at me like the pinpricks under my heels while I gather.  Painful and sharp works that reveal something smooth and slick and well structured beneath its harsh exterior, and deeper within... the fruit of knowledge.  The horse chestnut speaks of to me of dolls of health, dolls of love, of clean and fresh smelling clothes and good healthy feelings. 


 
As I feel the land turn and ready for rest, I go out to the woods to the horse chestnut trees and start picking up the early buckeyes as they come tumbling downhill and gather in the ivy below.  They will be all kinds of useful to me soon enough- as a natural soap, as a fortunes tool, as flour for dough-dollies… a good time to start readying the poppets and bottles is right about now.

Winter will bring a lot of change, I hope.  I've been so stagnated in my statue work, focusing more on videos for my YouTube channel, my contributions to upcoming works and my second book.  I really miss putting my fingers in clay for purposes of art rather than charms.  I feel like I waste every weekend and yet I get so much of my personal goals accomplished I don't know why I'm stressing.  The darkyear will be different.  It will have to be.  Because I need to move on to new statues and I never quite move on when I have old projects left.  May the coming dark bring the peace and time I need.
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