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.

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.

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!

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