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.

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.

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