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.

Up and Away and Through the Keyhole

Keyhole Witching
“Up, and away, and through the keyhole I go;
Fly into the night, or to hell down below”

Quarantine continues and there's not much left to do... except torment one's enemies in their nightmares.  After-all, I'm sure I'm not the only person spending more time sleeping than normal while stuck inside.  But then, I don't waste my sleep or my dreams, I enjoy a healthy passion for flight.  And there's a million ways to fly, and yeah sometimes they involve a grease, oil or ointment- or some kind of devilish magic in the wood.  But sometimes, it's a leap of spirit, over hills and through wood, under door cracks and through keyholes...

The spirit that passes through the keyhole may be on his way to the sabbat, or, on her way to torment a love.  They may arrive to ride an enemy in his dreams, or transform him into a steed who will be run ragged into the night.  She may simply wish to enter a closed space inconspicuously, as a spirit, as a specter, as a beetle, moth or gnat, as a dream, as a mean-spirited thought or an erotic desire.  Witches have many methods and motivations for their magical (mis)deed and as witches are want to do, they often achieve this by passing through a liminal space.  After all, it is through the in between that spirits pass between destinations.

The symbolism of the keyhole as a liminal passage, a portal by which the practitioner may send their spirit to torment, exalt or simply wander, is a deeply rooted one in my opinion, it speaks to our deepest insecurities, worries, childhood fears and genuine concerns regarding our safety at the most vulnerable of times- in the night, in the dark, in our own beds where we lose consciousness 8 hours a day.  That little hole in your door is a vulnerable place, especially a keyhole you can see right through; it is a passage between places that is situated within a boundary and that thin separation is a dangerous place.  Even though we know the physical limitations of the door that separates rooms, or marks the boundary between outside and inside the home, it didn't change how some of our ancestors worried.

Keys and Keyholes, what a wonderfully popular symbolism in magical practice.   The Witch Queen is often depicted with keys; in particular, Hekate is associated with keys, doorways and witches altogether, something she’s gained world renown for.  The strength of that connection isn't lost on we modern witches, especially those who are league with Hekate in some form; the key is a magical tool akin to a wand, akin to a will.  Keys can personify movement, travel (in the mundane or sacred worlds), protection from things that lie beyond boundaries, protection from doorways that need closing. It is a popular tool for every occasion, even divination, but the keyhole itself doesn't get a lot of love in terms of magical use these days.

It is the uncanny passage way, an omen of mystery, fear and even death.  The portal that is the keyhole, this metal contraption (typically associated with apotropaic features) that helps guide the key, it is the highway for spirits and has long been associated with magic, but more specifically- with witchery and haunts. Boo-hags, mara, succubae, Nightmares and Nightmare-men, blood-drinkers, witches and all kinds of magical practitioner uses.  Between the many cultures that came to the Americas, there was an overlapping magical mare mythology that magnified the nocturnal fears transmitted between people back when the world was still full of mystery.

Nocturnal Peregrination

The symbolism of witches and ghosts passing through keyholes to get into the home is widely European in origin, coming to America by way of English, Italian and Dutch folk-magic, well-known Slavic superstition, German fairy-tales among other sources.  Obviously, cultures with home designs that include keyholes would have a good deal of lore about them, but these superstitions and beliefs crossed that thin division and became quickly absorbed into the folklore and magic of many Americans, especially African Americans whose own plethora of post-colonial witching lore shows the clear influence that these keyhole spirits had on black American folk- including tales of conjure men riding their masters at night to punish them for their cruelty.
“Nightmare is caused by the nightmare man, a kind of evil spirit, struggling with one.  It is prevented by placing a sharp knife under the pillow, and stuffing the keyhole with cotton."- Fanny Dickerson Berge, Current Superstitions: Collected from the Oral Tradition of English Speaking Folk [in America]
Witches didn't just come through keyholes, but under doorways, down chimneys, carried inside on bewitched clothing, hidden in your work-boots left outside.  Hags and Nightmares could squeeze through cracks in doors or floorboards, wherever you were, a witch or witch-spirit could follow you if proper precautions weren't taken to prevent them from doing so.  These preventative measures could be as simple turning the key sideways and leaving it in the hole, or clogging the keyhole, or putting out a trap like a blue bottle, sea-glass, scissors under the pillow, a sieve or strainer by the window, a pile of grain or line of beans or rice across the doorway, a horseshoe above or a broomstick below.  Sometimes, not even the most blessed metals or stuffed keyholes could prevent the night-wanderer from entering the home and the body.
“When the witches are coming through the keyhole, they sing; "Skin, don't you know me? Jump out, jump in!" and if you are able to throw pepper and salt on the skin while they are out of it, they cannot get into it again." - C.L. Morrison Daniels, Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World
Sometimes it's not even living witches who ride in the night, but witch-spirits, ones that were never human or alive in the first place but who work as witches do by night and by will, by way of powers infernal, celestial and terrestrial. These witches ride their victims like horses in the night, tangling up their hair to make stirrups, knotting their curling-ribbons and making a poor soul weary and withdrawn come morning.  With all these witches and hags and nightmare-men wandering through our doors it's no wonder that there is so much folk magic associated with preventing keyhole witchery.  It is a witch's most basic gift, they say, the power to fly from the body, slip the skin like Randolph’s “Devil’s Daughter”, or leave in a breath.  It is a means of travel, a means of hexing, a means of seduction... it has many uses, the projection of spirit.
"For witches this is law; where they have entered there also they withdraw." Tom P. Cross, Witchcraft in North Carolina
Unlucky women often found themselves accused of these nocturnal flights, in records as early as the 1600- in some ways the folklore of the witch caught traversing keyholes reminds me of those tales of the seal-skin women, or of Japanese celestial maidens, wherein a woman is captured by virtue of her magical object being withheld from her.  In the American witch’s case, this was the skin she shed when she fled her body, or the clothing she dropped (we witches and our naked workings).  Other times, it was disallowing the witch to leave from the keyhole she had entered through, thus catching her in the home. It was as much a danger for the witch to use this portal as it was a gift.

Jump In, Jump Out

“If a man in Denmark wishes to have any communication with the devil, he must walk around the church three times, and on the third, stop and either whistle or cry, "Come Out!" through the keyhole"- C.L. Morrison Daniels, Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World
In my work, the keyhole is a traveling tool between points and places.  Some keyholes have sisters, keyholes that belonged on the same door or object, the mirror to the keyhole on the other-side of the door, or two made from the same piece of metal, and these ones are very useful when doing spirit work with a loved-one over long distances; acting as a means of connection and travel between two points.  Sometimes I leave the twin of my keyholes (from the family dresser passed down to me) in the woods to glimpse, in my working and my dreams, what lies there in the wood, or place them in areas where I need contact over distance.

They are also used in divination; during necromantic rituals to invite the dead between worlds, or, in the manner of a planchette on a spirit-board (if summoning is your game), or used to look through on auspicious days for certain signs of love to come (Daniels claims Valentine’s day was a good time for this project) or in haunted places in order to glimpse spirits and fairies on their wanderings.

When using keyholes in magic, it’s important to keep the ones you used purified and protected- I keep mine in an iron box and regularly pass salt through the hole, because you never know if an enemy is going to get all Peeping-Tom on you.  Stuffing the hole with cotton, poplar fluff or any kind of cloth is helpful as well.

One needs to be careful; this tool is an invitation- that’s part of the reason for its many dark associations- it is known to invite tricksters, devils, familiars, demons, spirits and even other witches, some who may not mean you any good.  When working keyhole tricks, it’s probably a good idea to keep in mind that the entire nature of this particular magic is movement between worlds, and unlike the key which proffers a sense of control, direction and desire, the keyhole is independent, unwieldy and stationary; it is only the path, not the guide.

Exalt in the Hag and the Horned One- the witch queen and king of we New World witches, for it is they who rule those dark airy spaces and places in-between and know all the mysteries of your wildest dreams… and nightmares.

Reading of interest...
Fanny Dickerson Berge, 
Current Superstitions: Collected from the Oral Tradition of English Speaking Folk [in America]
Alison Games, Witchcraft in Early North America
C.L. Morrison Daniels, Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World
Tom P. Cross, Witchcraft in North Carolina
Frank C. Brown, Collection of North Carolina Folklore
Sally Smith Booth, The Witches of Early America

The Feast of Hares

 The Pink Moon in Libra arrives, and with it the Feast of Hares.  This particular moon has been very inspiring to people it seems; it symbolizes a healing hope, a peaceful and united movement in the cosmos, just as Venus passed through the Pleiades, the moon moved in to place for the Feast of Hares which has always, in its many forms and variations, been a symbolic time of rebirth.  The Pink Moon will fall at the end of a sunny Mars day, bringing a warm balance to the cool moon into the world.

That's what Floralia and Beltane and May Day and the Hare Moon and all the spring festivals of this time are, they are our celebration warmth returning, the rebirth of things.  Who knew that our ability to enjoy this time together as people always had would be so seriously derailed.  I'm pretty depressed that I wont get to make my May Day plans happen; I was really looking forward to being all moved out of this place and hosting sabbats by the time May's Eve rolled in.  At this point, I'm looking towards St. Johns and Midsummer, and hopefully, the freedom it brings.

I like Midsummer better anyway; I'm a lover of sunlight and long days and fire festivals of summer.  The older I get, the more I just want things to be warm all of the time, and outside in fresh wind.  As it is, I'm stuck inside like the rest of you, only catching glimpses of Spring on the rare venture outside.  As I've been writing more about recently, the comfort of domestic craft is keeping a lot of us sane.  The time at home and reliance of resources available is teaching me so much about how little I need to live on, how much I truly prefer to be alone like this and how much it comforts me not have to entertain anyone.  It's teaching me that I should focus on the kitchen more because it truly is the heart of a home, it's wonderful power of creation makes the space sacred.

I had to venture outside to prepare for the Feast of Hares (which is more like a Feast of Flowers).  The point of the feasting aspect of the ritual is to honor the rabbit by eating like a rabbit (or at least not eating anything offensive to them)  which is why flowers and fresh greens and simple fruits are a must.  Outside are fresh, fat, dandelions (but I regret to say the greens on these ones were too damn bitter even after some serious pickling and sauteing).  I made a heavy cumin and curry batter with a dash of dried garlic flower I saved from a year back and the result was fluffy, crunchy, sweet and savory fried dandelion heads.

Like I said; the greens were a tad bitter- I just couldn't bare them, but the pickled magnolia and ripe red beets made the salad a tangy, peppery delight.  A little red rose, cherry blossom and Chinese hawthorn tea to wash it all down and a vanilla violet honey bun for dessert and the feast is ready!  The bread broke unfortunately... I overworked it, but it still tasted heavenly. I sat on the porch and watched the lazy world go by.  Tonight, I'll open the Lepus Urn of Dreaming and go leaping over ditch and meadow, over grave and under full moon.

I shared the left-over dandelions with my guests of honor, my rabbits, and I think the whole thing was a success.  
May your Pink Moon be Merry, my friends.  May the moon bring you the hope to heal and the courage to keep fighting this plague.

Venus Day Violet

Gods, the violets smelled heavenly this year.  Like a meadow in my hands, sweet and light and dewy and deeply floral.  They are central to my honoring Venus Day in a few days.  They'll be central to the Feast of Flowers celebrations as well.  Just as Venus Day is a descendant of the Veneralia, the Feast of Flowers descends from Floralia and the celebration of spring in all its merry and abundant beauty from that old world we draw so much of our cultural symbolism from.

All the flowers and their symbols are a delight this month- but none are more beautiful in their cool, unassuming, delicate sweetness as the violet.  Their color when crushed in water is the deepest indigo, a deep blue with a tint of red that adds passion to her hue.  Violets and Venus go hand-in-hand. It's a romance between the glittering star and the lovely sweet violet.  The garden-gathered violets are washed and presented to the altar of Pandemos; I invoke the sweet song of the violet and sing her gentle praises.  Every year I gather the sweet violets from my mothers yard and make syrups, candies or dyes- practical and sweet things- a very me kind of ritual. 

This year was for candied violets and lemon-custard vanilla candied violet tart. The dough tastes like crisp butter cookie and the filling is lemon yogurty goodness with fresh lemon zest, honey and lavender sugars.  I love lemons, I love flowers, I love violets, I love spring.  I hate being quarantined at the height of poplar-bud gathering season, missing the bloom of the white camellias...  But that's okay.  Life is like this sometimes; in these awful and uncertain moments, we make sweet memories while we can-- wherever we can.

The Lightyear in the Home

Egg and sugar, butter and cream, lemon and salt, garlic and flour.  These tools of the kitchen cover everything from love to peace, fertility and hexes, divination and banishment... and a silver fork (even one bent into the beautiful shape of a heart) offers protection in the home that can't be beat.  Stuck in the house means reacquainting with my domestic skills, with the magics of the kitchen.
Spring is supposed to be a healing time, a time of rebirth and renewal.  Right now, it's just a time of fear and uncertainty and anxiety.  I wished better for my generation.  Spring is supposed to be a time go be out with friends gathering up the poplar buds and plucking the last of the sweet violets, instead we're just stuck inside trying to respect the new restrictions in this new world.  I plan to sneak out and walk around the yard a bit, gods know I need the fresh air.  The violets need picking and syruping, the hyacinths need drying and the cherry blossoms need gazing-at.  The wild greenwood walks and here I am stuck inside watching the procession of spring from behind the walls.  Floralia comes.  The Feast of Rabbits comes; May's Eve and St. Johns, Midsummer and First Fruits... it's all so close, I hope we can all go out and enjoy it when it does...

On this Lightyear, this Spring Equinox, I planned for the magical days ahead.  I started planning for this particularly social time in the witching world.  I'd like to hope I'll get the time-off in summer to attend the Symposium but as this quarantine stretches out, I will loose vacation days and opportunities later.  It's all so nebulous our lives right now, that's why I look forward to the divination that permeates the great holy days of witches; May's Eve, St. John's and Midsummer... In American folklore May is all about divination; this is a contribution of our various Western European ancestors.  There are many May's Eve and May Day Charms, ones that include wells and mirrors, fires and eggs, handkerchiefs and even snails in corn-starch.

“On the first day of May, put a diamond ring in a glass of water.  Place this glass where the sun will shine into the center of the ring, and when you look into the center you will see there the face of the man you will marry.”
“If a person looks into a well on the first day of May at noon, he will see his sweetheart.”
“ To keep off all sickness during the summer, get wet in the first rain of May..”
“If you look down a well on May first, you will see the face of the one you are to marry reflected in the water.” -The Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore

“A basket tastefully arranged with flowers, was left by the lore-sick swain at the door of his lady-love.”
“A Piece of wild radish worn on Walpurgis Night enables the wearer to see ghosts and witches”
“Hares found on May morning are witches and should be stoned.”
“Draw crosses on you doors before May Day eve and the witches can do no harm.” -CL Daniels, Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore and Occult Sciences of the World

“Hold a mirror over a well on May first, and you will see the image of your future husband or wife."
"If you wash your face in dew before sunrise on May Day, you will become very beautiful." -(Alabama)- Current Superstitions, Collected from the Oral Tradition of English Speaking Folk

Key and Bible divination has always been curious to me... I've never used it or seen it used but it's well known as one of the three old-world divinations of the Salem Girls (aside from Venus Glase and the Sieve and Shear), nevertheless I've been exploring it with a sister in the circle.  The triad of these gifts captured the imaginations of colonials, made them weary of this wicked world.  Stuck in the home means lots of time with the family bibles and family clock-key.  I have all the eggs and fostoria glasses I need but I've never quite figured out how sieve and shears is supposed to work...
But, I along with seemingly the rest of the known world am in a state of self-isolation.  Seattle's taking a hard hit with this pandemic, every day is a new damage report.  I'm heartbroken for Italy.  I'm heartbroken for the elderly.  I'm shocked by the callousness of leaders and depressed to know that the future is more bleak.  I've seen it deep in the cards- this doesn't go the way we want or think it will.  We have to get ready for years of hell.  That's life though, it always has been.  There are waves of peace and comfort followed inevitably by waves of chaotic fear and uncertainty.  I encourage you all to fall deep into your spirituality as we wait for the virus (both biological and political) to pass. It will take time, and it wont be fair, but life always balances itself slightly, ever so rightly.  Be patient.

The one benefit is all the time on our hands to get creative.  I've been relentlessly baking, drawing, writing chapbooks and brainstorming ideas of new books for me and friends.  I've been contemplating reaching out to local witches when the quarantine passes to gather for healing circles (carefully sterile ones at that), or just for some resonating time.  I need to harmonize over the craft right now.  I've had some inquires about the chapbooks; they're not for sale, no profit to be made- most are for my rebel-witch circle, the rest will be distributed randomly in cafe's I frequent and given away for May Day Basket.  May Day Basket will be a give away of chapbooks (each themed around either Love Fortunes or Hex Magic) for May's Eve to some of you fine folk.

When in quarantine, bake bread.  Supply yourself, fool.
Stay healthy, stay calm, pray and think conscientiously about your actions going forward, lives depend on our thoughtfulness.  Use this time to create, to sew, to garden, to work great art, to write and to cook.  Bake breads and crack eggs, spend time in your thoughts.  I wish you the best.

The Procession of Spring and Spirits

Already the land is warming.  It could just be a trick of the seasons; sometimes it gets warm in February and March only to snow again, and indeed a hailstorm covered my home in a small pile of ice on a chilly Saturday evening.  The last few months have been about loss.  I don't like grief.  I can deal with finality but I hate the pain of getting through the losses we all endure.  I believe that the way out is through, and that's all I'm trying to do-  get through it.  It's a cold and chilly feeling, a sadness that will come and fade with the frost, returning every so often to remind me but always warmed by my good memories of those I've loved.  Frost never lasts, and it never stays gone.  I like that rhythm.  I like patterns and rhythms, processes and choreographed movements.  Nature is full of that, even in her chaos.

As the frost recedes, the subterranean nursery pulsates and undulates with life striving for the warm sun above.  Their hard shells give way, their roots stretch, the soil makes space as the young shoots crawl their way to freedom and air and light.  She pushes them up from within, the young green bride of the land.  The land opens, the green spirits promenade along the hillsides and bring the celebration that is spring and summer to us all.  The hags of winter rest, the brides of spring dance, and all I wait for is the fires of summer that make the time so great.  The cook-outs and campfires, and bonfires; the holy fires, the nyd-fires, the May-fires and candle lit porches in the short nights...  I encourage you to make this Mayday and Midsummer something special.  Make the bright-year a time of creation and life, go dance with all those green gods and rose queens of summer.  Enjoy the land and sky and sea, and protect it with your whole heart.

Part of my current work has been dedicated to working on a series of chapbooks/zines based on folklore I've collected and essays related to them that I've written here and elsewhere compiled with illustrations.  These chapbooks are put together by hand and will be distributed at some upcoming witch markets and pop-up metaphysics fairs in the city.  Look for me around town, I show up in random places in Seattle and these chapbooks will too!

Floran candles for Mayday festivities this year
The other part of my time has been focusing on welcoming the spring and the renewal that comes with it through creation.  Dipping dried, oiled and cured mullein stalks from the cemetery roadside in beeswax, rolling Floran candles on paper, molding them hot in my hand with the petals of roses and the scent of olibanum, cooking up the fresh-harvested Seward pine resin and wrapping branches in the dried moss for the Woodwife torches... Candle-making isn't just a hobby, it's a coping mechanism, a way by which I can calm my nerves and focus my thoughts.

For my Naenian Candles, my partner and I built a walnut box from hand; a safe and sacred storage for these torches which illuminate sabbats and lead processions of the dead.  Inside is a mixture of calendula, red rose and ash of the cremated dead... A suitable coffin for this spirit candle.  Creation is sacred in every form, and during this time of renewal and sun and fertility, I am a servant to the preparations of this time. Cemeteries are resting places for the dead and roadsides are the paths that guide us, and our processions.  The mullein that grows there is imbued with a particular gift for movement and guidance, rest and community.


I just wanted to give a heartfelt thank you to my friend Cory over at New World Witchery for a great interview and a wonderful conversation on all things magic and folkish.  I look forward to our future collaborations!  Visit New World Witchery Podcast for more!

Apples of Epiphany

I can feel the land stirring even as it withers under the wet and cold and frost.  The Virid Virgin in her nursery, the Wild God newly reborn with the rising sun, the children of green and spring turning in their sacred hills, readying for their emergence into the spring's light.  I wait for this every year, I wait for the light to return because when it does, the buds will unfurl, the leaves will be vibrant, the frost will slough off into the river and out into the bay.  I love to watch the land turn green, watch the Wild Woman and her Horned god promenade through the land, turning bitter black to bursting brightness.  We still have a ways to go here in the Northwest- we don't usually get hit with snow until just before or after Candlemas and it sometimes comes back on and off all the way to May Day.  It depends; this year was cold and wet, so who knows what winter will bring?  What I do know is that the light is returning, the days will stretch out longer and with the rise of the sun, my power grows too.  I am no moonlit witch of the night; I am a flower queen of Midsummer, one of those day-time sorcerers of the fire-feasts, who haunt the heat-baked hedges and do all my best work when the sun is a blazing glow on the Western horizon, right before the whole world turns twilight blue.  I think people get witches wrong too often; they think it's all smoke and shadows and mysteries in darkness... they forget it's also about fire and light and fury and dance and destruction and daylight as well.

The Apple Mother has been on my mind a lot, inspired in part by Morgan's post about this class of liminal spirit.  It really is a class of spirit and having Apple Mother or Granny Apple in your court of spiritual guides is useful- she's sweet, a bit of a tart when she's drunk, she ages fine on the vine and ripens in strange weather.  She (I say she because my Apple Mother is female presenting to me but AM is actually a They in every regard) rules in a garden of food, harvest, home, fertility, love and is one of the many spirits in the court of Venus the Glittering Star- in fact, she is one of Venus' most prized heralds; apples carol in the morning star and sing her out again in the evening.  This New Year's Day and Epiphany, I honored the folk-magic and personal gnosis associated with apples; wassailing, cider-sprinkling in the local orchard, leaving cakes for the apple tree woman...

Apples are a strong cultural symbol in the States, and for good reason too; these wholesome and delicious foods have saved lives and staved off famine and hunger.  They rooted quickly in America and found their way into the cuisine and cultures of all who encountered it, Indigenous and Invasive peoples alike. She really is a force of giving and love; friendship and health, wealth and nobility- all those fancy and warm Venusian things witches like me live for.  Apple fortunes are prescribed for damn near every holiday on our calendar, but Epiphany has a unique and fun Old World history that makes honoring apples on this day particularly sweet; wassailing in orchards with hot cider and cakes!  There are dozens if not more incantations, songs and folk-rhymes in recorded English and Scottish history regarding wassailing around apple trees and orchards come New Years and after.

This time around, I've been focused on how Apples and Eggs play such a huge role in our culture and our magic, how use of these items transcends cultural lines and crosses into the symbolism of the common people.  By whatever name or form the spirit of the apple takes, may she be blessed this new year.

Epiphany means nothing to me religiously.  It celebrates a miracle that I've never witnessed or believed in but I do love the folk-magic associated with Epiphany- namely the fortune telling and divination games; apple-tree shaking, Venus Glase reading and the delightful epiphany cake with it's hidden gifts.  I made my own, with colored sugar and spongy sweet dough.  Inside was hidden a small red bean and a small black bean; to crown the new king and queen of the day.   It tasted fantastic even though I wasn't crowned.  I also made cured egg yolk.  I don't know why, I don't even eat eggs much... I guess I just wasn't raised to waste food, so after cracking my whites in the Venus Glase, I salt cured and baked the yolks, to store for future use.  Some times, we do things just to feel connected, and I felt connected to the season more than usual this year, all thanks to the folk charms that celebrate this season, and I feel better for it, more in-tune to the home and kitchen.

I hope your New Year brings you everything you need; the joys, the trials, the security and the comfort.  May the light return to your world as it grows green again, may it be as sweet as an apple and as filling as cake and may you see the path before you with eyes unclouded by egg-whites.

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