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Crone’s Corner

April 1st, 2019

Pagan Woman

I have often
contemplated my role as a Pagan woman and have recently begun
evaluating my life’s journey as I have evolved into each aspect of
the Divine Feminine. I continue on my Spiritual Path in search of
pure knowledge and understanding while recognizing that my journey
will travel through each aspect of the Divine Feminine in its turn
and each aspect has a lesson for my soul to embrace in order for my
Spiritual evolution to be successful. Since recognizing that I am a
Pagan, I have grown to fully know myself in this journey and I have
finally come to the realization that my role in the Pagan community
is one of deep commitment toward affecting positive change, not only
in myself, but in other members of my community as well. I am able
to define myself now as a Pagan woman without reservation and with
great pride.

At the age of 20, at
the very beginning of my Spiritual journey, I nurtured the role of
the Maiden. I set out on my path with the same sweet, pure, and
virginal characteristics of the Maiden ingrained in my heart. I
pondered this aspect for a time and I began to revel in the knowing
that the Maiden is not only a physical manifestation in my life.
Instead, I realized the duality of the Maiden as She represents the
beginning of my Spiritual journey as a Pagan woman. The Maiden
embraces in me that which is innocently truthful and wonderfully
kind. The Maiden is the aspect of my journey where small seeds of
inspiration, tolerance, and respect for all paths are planted and
where those seeds await growth and nurturing in the next turn in the
road of my journey to the Mother aspect. The Maiden is virginal in
Her naïve and innocent perspective, always striving to gain
knowledge and understanding, just as I was in the infancy of my
Spiritual Path. Upon this realization, I have placed the Maiden in
perspective and I can embrace who I am in that role and how I was
able to continue to nurture the Maiden as I evolved from Maiden to
Mother and how I can reach back in my Path and touch the Maiden for
reaffirmation of the seeds that I have already sown.

In my early to
mid-thirties I began to realize that my Spiritual evolution had
somehow matured. The Maiden, still ever present, was releasing Her
hold and allowing me to gravitate to the gentle awaiting arms of the
Mother. The Mother aspect called to me and I was beginning to heed
Her call. I noticed a small shift in my perceptions as they
gravitated from pure innocence to keen awareness of the world around
me and its inhabitants. I began to embrace and welcome questions
regarding my Spirituality and I realized that sitting in quiet
contemplation lends itself to keen personal insight. The Mother,
ever nurturing and guiding, emerged in the path before me strong,
protective, and filled with inspiration and encouragement. I began
to see the seeds of inspiration, tolerance, and respect that I
planted as a Maiden come to fruition as the Mother aspect began to
emerge within my soul and tend the garden planted by the Maiden. I
realized that the presence of the Mother in my Spiritual journey has
served to guide me to a place of tolerance, respect, and acceptance
of other individuals who travel vastly divergent Spiritual traditions
than my own. Despite the differences in Spirituality, the Mother has
tempered my insolence and She has given me a new perspective on
patience and love. The Mother has shielded me from my own personal
turmoil and when I would have otherwise turned from my soul’s work
on this journey, the Mother aspect patiently guided my return to the
path that I must travel. The Mother aspect has taught me patience
and the virtues of allowing my soul to evolve in its own way along my
journey. The Mother aspect has helped me to shield the Maiden from
the harsh world around me in order to preserve the innocence of that
aspect of my soul in order that I may continue to plant seeds of
inspiration, tolerance, and respect for my continued travels in the
journey ahead of me.

Finally, I am
approaching the Crone in my Spiritual path. She awaits me, seemingly
dark and foreboding, yet with arms wide open and ready to embrace me
as I grow to recognize that which is in my highest and best good.
For the completion of my evolution, I long to fully reach the aspect
of the Crone and to come full circle in my own journey. I know that
it is in this complete turn of the wheel that I will learn the most
precious lesson of all; to nurture the Maiden, to love the Mother and
to embrace the Crone. In the Crone, I am seeking to find the wisdom
to recall the innocence of the Maiden in order that I will always
approach others with kindness and tolerance. In the Crone, I am
seeking to find the wisdom to recall the nurturing of the Mother in
order that I will always be able to defend a newcomer on their Path
against the harshness of others. In the Crone, I am seeking to find
the wisdom of experience and the temperance of that wisdom for the
greater good of all.

The culmination of
recognizing, incorporating, and embracing the Maiden, the Mother, and
the Crone aspects of the Divine Feminine into my life is my soul’s
Spiritual journey in its totality. To encompass in my life, as one
being, one soul, all three aspects of the Divine Feminine and to
recognize that at any given moment I am comprised of all three of
these aspects has been my life’s work. The beauty of being a Pagan
woman is in recognizing that I am capable of evolving from Maiden to
Mother then Crone and at any given moment, I am guided by them all.

Pagan Woman

A sliver of silver in the darkened sky,
Winter is coming, everything must die.
Then growing to fullness and lighting the way,
Hope springs eternal on the Solstice day.

Starting as Maiden, growing from Mother to Crone,
Pagan woman standing proud, strong and alone.
In a cycle of the moon She realizes Her full power,
Skyclad in Her ritual at the midnight hour.

Strong and fierce in Her love of the night,
Yet gentle and loving with all of Her might.
The role that She embraces in a circular universe,
Is a complex Path that only She can traverse.

Birthing children and tending fields,
Growing abundant crops reaping fertile yields,
She nurtures the masses then calls us home,
Pagan Woman is Maiden, Mother, and Crone.

***

About the Author:

Shirley Lenhard has been a practicing Witch and a
Pagan since 1983 and lives in New England with her husband. She is
employed full time in the legal field and has her Masters Degree in
Psychology from the University of South Florida. Shirley looks
forward to living her best possible life by giving back to the Pagan
Community and has created the Facebook group “Pagan
Plannertarium
” where she provides a safe home for fellow pagans
to have discussions about their path and to get free planner stickers
and layouts. Shirley is a past writer for Llewellyn Publishing and
The Peace Paper.

What is the Grail to you?!

The Grail stands as a beacon of hope and wholeness in the midst of the Wasteland created by modern Western materialism.  The potency of this symbol beckoning us back to living in harmony with both ourselves and the land around us is a myth very much of our time.  It speaks directly to wholeness and connection and reminds us that to bring the Wasteland back to fertility and lush abundance we must return to the Source that nourishes it.

Our modern Society and education systems gives us few really useful tools to take with us on the great journey of Life.  We need knowledge and understandings that we can directly apply to the challenges and traumas we face, that enable us to emerge empowered and strong, not weak and victimised. The Lost Wisdom of the Grail telesummit brings together a wide variety of Wisdom Keepers who are working to help humanity overcome the challenges it currently faces and envision a future where all are valued and flourish.

– Saira Salmon, https://www.sairasalmon.com/

Recently I received an invitation to be one of the speakers on a Telesummit in May 2018, titled The Lost Wisdom of the Grail, (https://www.sairasalmon.com/grail/) hosted by Saira Salmon. She has organised this summit from a strong personal connection to the Grail teachings and Grail mythology.

Saira’s question to me was: “How and where does the concept of the Grail appear in your shamanic work and classes?” This was a very exciting question to engage with!  My immediate response was to request a dream on this subject from my spirit team.


The dream that came was about “the wounded masculine” – linking it to the Arthurian tale of The Fisher King. In the dream I had to make my way to this wounded male figure (first I could not even see if it was a toddler or grown man). When I got there I realized that he was my father/son/husband/male friends all in one. The dream was asking me to reflect on where I need to heal my inner masculine (born a woman) to arrive at a healthier relationship of masculine and feminine in our world. (The external world is always an expression of our internal world!)

Over the centuries many scholars and mystics have arrived at different definitions of what the Holy Grail is or was. For me personally the crucial question is: what is the Holy Grail to you?!


For me, first and last, the Grail is a CRUCIBLE – a sacred container of transformation and transmutation – the big question is: are we willing to make ourselves a crucible (sacred chalice or Holy Grail)?!

For much of 2016 and 2017 I was working intensely with a mysterious figure who called herself The Poison Mother.  She came to me in Sweden and became one of my key allies over time. I made an art video about our work together by the same name:

The Poison Mother


As our work unfolded she told me that was familiar with her under a different name:  Norse goddess Sigyn (wife of the trickster god Loki). Her big question to me (to all of us!) is: am I willing to make myself a crucible for transmutation in the world? This means rather than avoiding “toxic situations” actually choosing to be there and using myself as a chalice (or Holy Grail) to be an agent of change in service to our collective consciousness evolving.


In ancient Sumeria this sacred marriage (or Hieros Gamos) was the central idea at the heart of their religion.  I just finished an art video exploring this mystery today:

The Sacred Marriage in The Great Below


Another Grail in Norse cosmology is the cup that the Valkyrie holds out to the warrior in the moment of death. She is also known as the “The Maiden with the Mead” and she is a supernatural being (a goddess!) and Mistress of Initiation. (I invite you to check out the work of author Maria Kvilhaug (http://freya.theladyofthelabyrinth.com/?page_id=35) who wrote a PhD dissertation on this subject!) This cup is said to hold the mead and her offering accompanies a sacred marriage between the Maiden and the “Hero” of the tale. He faces fierce trials and a descent into the Realm of the Dead to earn this privilege.

It is my belief that profound mystery rites of initiation involving women and feminine power are found at the very heart of Norse cosmology (more commonly perceived as quite a male-god dominated tradition!) The same thing is true for many other cosmologies that map an Other World. The details might be culture-specific but the concept and mystery teachings are very similar.

My personal intention is to call together groups of powerful talented people and harness the group power to retrieve those ancient mysteries and initiations! – If that works speaks to you – please check out my 2-year Seiðmaðr & Seiðkona 2-year program in Sweden (starting Summer 2019):

http://www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk/info2.cfm?info_id=224450


For the Celtic peoples this ritual was about the sacred marriage of the king to the goddess of the land (Sovereignty). Without this marriage the land becomes a barren waste land (and look at what we are doing to the Earth and her creatures – we need to revive this mystery teaching!
This is the core of the shamanic teaching I am doing – putting ancient mystery teachings back into practice in the modern world with modern groups of people working in spirit-led ways, using the process of direct revelation).

When we lose these wisdom traditions our inner world becomes barren. Our external world becomes a wasteland, dominated by conflict, pollution and a lack of respect for all sentient beings. This way of being in the world brings dis-ease and disharmony with the great Web of Life (or Web of Wyrd in Norse cosmology).

Another question Saira put to me was: what is the Grail in terms of spiritual work with young people? In this context for me The Holy Grail is the safe sacred space – container – for young people to develop their own spiritual toolkit in partnership with their spirit allies. In our culture we make sure that children are looked after in the physical/social/emotional realm but often we leave them rudderless when it comes to the spiritual dimension. I obviously wrote a whole book about this (Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit for Life) but to sum it up in just a few words… our children and young people need:

  • A viable spiritual toolkit to help them navigate the challenges life throws at them

  • Safe sacred space with kindred spirits – if their innate psychic /healing/shamanic abilities are to be nurtured

  • Rites of Passage offered by the Elders of our Communities – safe experiences of initiation and stepping through developmental portals in order to become fully-fledged adults who do not fear death.

Therefore The Grail is directly linked to a rich inner life, to sacred space held by elders and wisdom keepers, to a sacred marriage within ourselves but also between the archetypal figures of King and Sovereignty (Goddess of the Land)!


Are you willing to be a crucible for change and transmutation in our world?!

If this material speaks to you: please make sure to register for the Grail Summit and tune in. Expert speakers from all over the world will share their unique take on this material! And this summit is FREE!!

***

About the Author:

Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of shamanism and sacred art. Her book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon Books in 2016.  She is a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit  2017 as well as on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True. She divides her time between the UK, Sweden and the US. Her second book SACRED ART, A Hollow Bone for Spirit : Where Art Meets Shamanism will be published in December 2018.

Click Image for Amazon Information

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk  (website)

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/  (blog)

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=imelda+almqvist  

(Youtube channel: interviews, presentations and art videos)

 

Sleeping With the Goddess: Embracing the Sacred Feminine

I twist and turn as the Fates

Spin the multicolored threads

That are the web of life.

Strength and beauty grace my path

And Mother’s gaze softens

As she looks upon my weaving.

I awaken joyous and bursting

With life and renewed spirit

Youth my ally and wisdom

Just from hand’s reach

Not ready for the taking

I sigh into the pain as

New life issues forth

I am caretaker and guardian

Of this sacred living gift.

I close my eyes and slumber finds me

Her beating heart echoes through me

Arms cradling Her child of making

Welcoming me home into her

Womb of creation.

We, as pagans celebrate the duality and polarity of all manner of things as we perform our workings of magick, make offerings to the Deities and weave the rich tapestry of our magickal and mundane lives. Contained within these polarities are the concepts of the masculine and the feminine that transcend gender and sexual dynamics. These are the outpourings of the solar and the lunar, strength and emotion, force and form. Each dynamic is needed as the informed companion of the other and each must work in collaborative effort to form the whole. They are the mainstay of our paths and the underpinnings of the universal laws we follow as we move forward in our evolution as spiritual beings.

Historically, as we have moved through the ages the shift of focus from that of a matriarchal society to one of masculine dominance has shaped the ways we interact and respond to the energies of the Goddess. Out of necessity for survival, the honoring of the Sacred Feminine was for the most part hidden and cloaked by the stereotypes of what woman should be and what roles they played both spiritually and mundanely. Now, we see a newly developed understanding and reaffirmation of who and what the Goddess is in relation to who and what women (and men) are. We honor the reverence that was held for woman and the life giving properties contained within her womb, her hands and her heart. We celebrate the Divine expressed in the female form and call to the archetypal energy of the Goddess to manifest in our actions and our will. We acknowledge her presence as the flowing and changeable tides of our emotions and our intuitive nature. And, we cower in fear when she wields the blade of the warrior and calls into accountability those who exert their will and ego in unjust actions put upon those who cannot defend themselves.

She holds the mystery of our destiny in her breath of life and the many forms she takes are the foundations upon which we learn, thrive and grow. She is the most intimate of our companions; being ever within and around as our relationship with her endures the test of time, faith and imposed suppression. We need never look far to see the power of her radiant energy and for many the first understanding we have the Goddess is held in the beauty of the Moon.

Lady Moon

We hold dearly and heed the call of the Lady Moon as she moves through her cycle of New, Full and Dark. The phases of the moon and the ebb and flow of her tides are the experiences of return and release that we engage in at each interval of our own cycles of newness, full expression and waning light. It is her hand that we cling to as we begin the descent in the shadows of our being. And, it is her light that illuminates those things within ourselves that need refining and polishing by the gentle flowing waters that mold and sculpt.

We follow her cycle through the night sky and know of the potential held in the newness of Maiden Moon, but do not always fill ourselves with the enthusiasm and joy of that growing energy. The Maiden acknowledges that everything and anything is possible and change is not to be feared, but simply the taking of another road. In the simplicity of re-engaging the wonder of seeing with fresh eyes and new perspectives our workings grow and seek out what will encourage and support their maturation. The Full Moon brings to us the product of what has been nurtured and tenderly crafted. The wonderlust of youth now stabilized and foundations anchored more fully. Ownership and pride in what has been brought forward fills us and we stand in the fullness of her light as creator and that which has been created. The darkness hides her beaming face as the Moon wanes and the yearning to once again see the brilliance of her light growing and guiding the way for productive passage wells up deep inside. We look up at blackened sky and see the future that soon will be as the Goddess as Moon reveals herself in her many and eternal phases.

The Creatrix

We call to the Goddess as the Creatrix and experience the sacred act of union that is her creative outpouring. We raise our voices in joy at the birthing of new life and its manifestation from the dark waters of her womb. Her union is the quickening and enlivening of what makes us most truly human and opens the paths to compassion and the expression of all encompassing love. We seek her as the Divine guardian of what we bring to birth in our lives and ask her intervention when that product is less than viable and seems all but lost to manifest form.

The Quickener

We rise with her to greet the morning’s light shone brightly from her solar consort and retire with her into the labyrinth of our dreams and intuitive sight as we slay the serpent of chaos and illusion. We move through our daily activities ever mindful of our impact on the world around us as the energy of her intent places each foot in front of the other imbued with her grace. It is the radiant Goddess who stands at the prow of the Solar Barque in her aspect as Hathor and acts as catalytic opener to RA. Without her feminine polarity weaving its magick of enlivening and protection the Sun’s daily journey would fall into chaos and the cycle of Dawn to Dusk would be a hollow shell of the power that is held because of her presence.

The Serpent of Wisdom

She is the serpent of wisdom and the revealer of the truths of our existence and divine nature. She is Sophia, the gnostic Goddess of Wisdom who holds the key to the deep gnosis of regeneration and empowerment. The Goddess weaves her circuit of energetic outpouring to be received by that of the strengthened container that is the God. In the Eastern practices of raising Kundalini it is the energetic nature of the feminine (or lunar) and the masculine (or solar) that rises as the twin serpents coil in ascent; opening, informing and enlivening each of the vortices of the chakras. These twin serpents, however, begin their journey as one, the perfect union of the sacred feminine and the masculine each dependent upon the other, yet singular in expression.

Healer and Place of Return

We surrender to the Goddess in request for healing and it is to her dark waters of birth that we return when life’s end has come to claim us. Our prayers are lifted to her Divine awareness and we call out to her to heal and transform all manner of ailment and discord. Her greatest transformative and healing power comes not as we desire, but in the grace of her wisdom as she sees what we truly need. We ask that she take us quietly into her embrace and ease the suffering of those in pain. She stands with us in the darkness of our own inner landscape and breathes her light into those parts of our being that fear the scrutiny of her gaze; opening, removing and cauterizing the wounds.

SHE is All and SHE is Nothing

The paradox of her energy is that She is the essence of everything and She is also the nothing that is the great void of all beginnings and endings. It is her energy that quickens the emptiness of non-existence and her form that becomes the container that receives its potent flow that will ensure that life will issue forth. She is humanity in manifest form and we are She in our true forms as bodies of light and spirit.

These are but some of the gifts of the Goddess and her hand is present in all the workings of our life cycles. And, it is this balancing point of nurture and intuition, strength and form that the mysteries of life and death itself are held. When we call upon the Goddess we are issuing a call to that part of ourselves that is creativity, catalytic exchange and the quickening waters held within her womb of transformation. We are offering up the deep wisdom of our being to be held in the embrace of her light and then to be transformed as the union with her polarity of the masculine takes hold.

Her power is held within all of us, regardless of gender. For, we are born of woman and it is in the throes of that pain that the true nature of sacrifice and purpose are taken up so that the beauty that is the soul of man may be expressed in our life’s work. We stand in her strength, walk in her beauty and sleep in her embrace at every turn of our existence and it is to her that we return as the darkness of death takes hold and breath is issued in its finality.

Cover Art: Caitlin Fennelly, MFA

www.caitlinfennelly.com,

or on

Facebook as Caitlin Fennelly Studio

article excerpted from my book:

Sleeping with the Goddess: Nights of Devotions

Available here:

www.robinfennelly.com/books

or on Amazon

***

About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of:

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. One

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the spheres

Qabalah

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia

The Eternal Cord

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon

Luminous Devotions

 

The Magickal Pen, Volume One

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

 

The Elemental Year

Aligning the Parts of SELF

 

The Enchanted Gate

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

 

Sleeping with the Goddess

Nights of Devotion

 

A Weekly Reflection

Musings for the Year

 

Her books are available on Amazon or on this website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

A Home Group, Finally

I have finally found a home group! I knew as soon as I walked into the room that this was going to be the group for me. The time is perfect – 7:15 a.m. – it meets Tuesdays and Thursdays – it’s easy for me to get to – the meeting room itself is lovely – very Zen, although it’s a room in a Presbyterian Church. But it has large windows that look out on a courtyard with flowering trees and well-tended gardens and places to sit and meditate – much like any Buddhist Temple might offer. I felt at home immediately.

This spring I have struggled through one of the worst depressions of my life – at least, in last ten years. I had trouble getting to the store for basic groceries, let alone getting to an AA meeting or anywhere else. My entire spirituality suffered. I was amazed to find that I didn’t want to live anymore – and I was sober.

There were many dark days and many long sleepless nights.

Even though I thought I had lost my faith, yet I sat in meditation. Sometimes I sat for hours. It seemed like my brain had stopped to utter stillness but it was simmering like a sober stew. I needed that time of quietude. No sound except the chirping of the birds, vehicles driving past the house and children laughing as they walked to the corner to wait for the school bus. I didn’t dwell on any of this – I just noted each sound and let them go.

My son’s father came to town on route to somewhere else. He has over ten years in AA and is a social worker – he works with the homeless in Florida. He is Buddhist and has many years of practice. We spent the afternoon together, talking and meditating.

The next day, I started going to meetings again. The next week, I found this particular meeting – my new home group.

Soon after this, my son – who has six months sobriety – moved back in with me. I am so grateful for his sober support.

It is still a daily struggle. I have to admit that. At least once a day, I have a wicked bad jones. Something always triggers me. It can be almost anything. The weather – the time of day – a certain smell. I white-knuckle it hour by hour. Then – it passes – and I am so grateful that I didn’t give in.

I know that I have complained about AA for years and found every excuse under the sun not to go to meetings. But now I actually look forward to going to the meetings on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. I haven’t felt like this about a meeting in over ten years.

Now I wonder – will the Goddess come back to me?

***

About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

Part 1


(Photo by Clint McKoy on Unsplash)

Chapter 1, Part 2

Flight through the Forest

As we flew over the treetops, with the great starry dome overhead, I seemed to be flying upside down over an ocean filled with innumerable lights. The blue child led me deep into the forest, and at one point slowed down to allow me to catch up with him. Then he locked elbows and flew with me, and suddenly all was changed. The trees glowed with light of many colors, like lamps of blue, green, red and violet, each type of tree a different hue. Some trees throbbed with light, while others gave off a steady sheen. In places I saw what looked like columns of light erupting from the trees up into the sky and eventually disappearing in distance. Elsewhere, shafts of light descended suddenly from the sky and fused with particular trees. The blue child led me to a glade in the forest filled with oaks and poplars. We flew to one particular oak and passed inside it through a hollow ‘fairy door’. I was in the trunk of a massive, giant oak tree with the blue child.

Some noise in the forest woke me up at this moment. It was early morning, just around dawn. I went back to sleep and had no dreams I recalled.

At breakfast the Hægtessa seemed pleased and rested. She said she’d had the best sleep in years, for it’s tiring at times to fly with the blue child or other dryads in the forest. At least when you get up to my age,” she smiled. “But while you’re young it’s great fun, and you gradually become acquainted with the deeper forest.”

Dawn can go home tomorrow,” she continued as an afterthought. “Try again tonight with the Blue Child. See if you can get inside the Great Oak. Tell me what happened tomorrow at breakfast. If you find you like doing this, and don’t mind learning herb-lore from me, you can be hedge wizard when I am gone. But think it over; you have plenty of time to consider it.

But the times you go home,” she added, in turning, “don’t speak of your experiences here. Just say you are learning herb-lore from me. That will provide enough reason for them to ostracize you. No point in giving them more.”

* * * * *

On the following night once again I was flying with the Blue Child through the night forest. The blue child led me to a glade in the forest filled with oaks. We flew to one particular oak and passed inside it through a hollow ‘fairy door’. I was in the trunk of a massive, giant oak tree with the blue child. Blue light was all around us.

We rested inside a recess in the oak’s trunk. Not far from us was the figure of an old man sleeping. He seemed carved from wood, or else turning into wood. On his face was an expression of contentment and rest.

Who is that?” I asked the Blue Child. “My Dad,” he answered. “He is falling asleep into the tree. Dad, Dad,” he called softly. The old man’s eyelids fluttered, scattering small splinters. He looked with love at the Blue Child. “Dad, this is Bird-brow. He is taking his first flight.”

The old man’s voice came resonantly from his lips, which hardly moved. “Welcome, Bird-brow,” he said. “The gods bless you.”

And you, Sir,” I replied. “But what is happening to you?”

Oh, I am dying. It is time to return to the Tree, our Mother. My son will serve Her in my stead.”

In the garth, where I live,” I said, “to die is an occasion for sorrow.”

Not among us,” the old man said, smiling. “For we do not die entirely so long as the Tree lives. And She has lived here in the Forest a very long time.”

You can still go upstairs if you’d rather, Dad,” said the Blue Child.

No, Son. My place is here with our Mother, the Oak. But you should go upstairs to tell the Bright Ones I will stay here and subside into wood.”

The Blue Child turned to me. “Rest here awhile. I will return soon.”

The blue light grew around us and seemed to lift the Blue Child. He rose on a column of light and rushed out of the crown of the Tree, up into the sky. He was suddenly gone. I looked at the old man inquiringly.

You must pardon me,” he said, closing his eyes once again. “I am becoming very sleepy.”

I moved outside the trunk up into the lower branches of the Oak. Around me the elms were glowing green, the larches a paler shade of the same color. Here and there in the haunted forest columns of light shot up into the sky and disappeared; once in a while a column descended from the sky and passed into a tree from above, and the tree took on its color and glowed softly.

After some time had passed, a shaft of blue light descended from the sky and the Blue Child was back. “Now we must scout out the Hægtessa’s herbs,” he said. “the old beds have dried up.”

But where were you?” I asked him, as we resumed out flight.

In our star. Every tree in the forest has a star. Ours is there.” And he pointed almost directly up, to the top of the sky. “You must return with the Haegtessa in the morning and help her pick herbs.” Once again we entered the oak.

But where are the herbs?” I asked. “The trees will find them,” he said, and then called out softly “Dad…Dad.”

The old face appeared once more in the wood. “Yes, Son, what is it? I was drifting off.”

The Haegtessa needs more herbs, Dad. The old beds have dried up. We must find the closest bed of wild herbs for her.”

Right away,” said the face, and disappeared into the wood.

Where has he gone?” I asked the Blue Child. “Down into the roots,“he said. “The roots of the great oak extend far on every side and touch the roots of trees growing around us. They in turn touch the roots of their neighbors, and so on. The search for the wild herbs is even now traveling far afield, along the roots through the Deep Forest.”

Presently the old face of the Oak Father appeared once more in the wood. Little splinters flew from his eyelids and lips as he smiled and said “Tell the Hægtessa the way to the herbs has been charted. If she comes here to the Great Oak she can follow the trail with her staff” “Thank you, Oak Father,” I said, and promptly awoke in the crystal room.

At breakfast the Hægtessa was radiant. “You’ve done well, Bird-Brow,” she said. “The Blue Child and the Oak Father both like you. That is important.”

I told her what the Oak Father said. “I know,” she said, “I have done this before, many times. What he said was for your benefit. We must go together today, since you may be doing this next time.”

After breakfast she said farewell to my mother and little Dawn. “She has recovered. Keep her quiet and well-rested for a few days. Bird-Brow is going with me today on an expedition. He will return home tonight.”

The Hægtessa put on her voluminous white robe and took her carved oaken staff from her cabinet. “Take this sack with you, Bird-Brow,” she said. “We will bring back some herbs for replanting in my field.”

I had flown with the Blue Child to the Great Oak and knew vaguely how to get there in the body, but the Hægtessa knew the way very well, and in about half an hour we mounted the hill leading to the tree. It was a quiet, blue morning, punctuated with light birdsong.

The Hægtessa grounded her staff near the base of the oak. “Grasp my staff, Bird-Brow” she said. I grasped its head and felt a tingling coming up the staff from the ground. She knew I felt it, and took it back. “Now follow along. We have a journey to make.”

She walked to the next tree, a smaller, younger oak, and then beyond it to a birch, feeling the ground with her staff with every step. In this way we went down hill and up hill for about half an hour. Coming to a shallow stream, we forded it, the Hægtessa feeling the trail along the stream bottom with her staff, and picking up the trail again among the trees on the other side. The land sloped uphill from the other bank, until we reached a plateau at the edge of a cliff. Far below I could see the field of herbs. Passing to the left along the cliff, we came to a mild grassy slope downhill, and followed it down to the herb beds.

The field of herbs was the size of two yards placed side by side. Beyond them the forest continued on a shallow rise. “The herbs have come here from many places in the forest,” said the Hægtessa. “They are our partners. It is our job to protect them, to pick the weeds from among them and ring them about with guardian plants like marigolds. Some we will gather up and replant in my garden. These will be of use, like the feverfew I gave little Dawn, but once replanted, the herbs have less potency. Here, in this field, is where they retain their full magic.” She showed me how to tell weeds from herbs, and we replanted a few marigolds along the margins.

You must come here with the Blue Child, Bird-Brow,” she said, “perhaps once a week, to see if all is well. You must also come here at times in the body to dress and protect the field, and gather a few herbs for replanting. That is, if you want to.”

She looked at me carefully. “I am old, Bird-Brow,” she said. “I cannot make the journey here often. If you wish to be hedge wizard after me, you must start now to help with the fields.”

I will, gladly,” I said. “But what of my father and the boar hunt? I have never been asked to be on it before, because I was too young. He is counting on me to be with him.”

Some problems have no easy solution, Bird-Brow,” she said.

When I visited the herb field and pitched my tent, all was quiet. In the night I saw one herb light up within, and in it I could see the Hægtessa preparing herbs. She looked very old and tired, and suddenly I knew I would disappoint my father and remain here with her. When next I slept in the crystal room, the Blue Child flew in and said I had chosen wisely. She would not live much longer. In the morning I told her of my decision to remain with her and learn her herb-lore. She smiled and took me into her garden, pointing out the herbs which had been replanted. “These can be used in healing, Bird-Brow. But they must be boosted with wild herbs from the field.” Back in her house, she showed me how to prepare the herbs, cutting them and mixing them with the wild herbs. They seemed to quicken into new life when mixed with their wild counterparts.

At night, I flew with the Blue Child to the wild herb field, but instead of returning to the Hægtessa’s house we flew together over the wheat fields to the Hall. There was a lamp lit inside the Hall, watched over by the Hall-Sun, a young, vigorous woman with straw-colored hair. I was surprised to see my father there with her. “He won’t come, Hall-Sun.” he said sadly. I had hoped to show him hunting. The Hægtessa has bewitched him to her service.”

He can still come along to the boar-hunt,” the Hall-Sun said. “He can fly with the hunters and the Blue Child.” And she nodded to my companion.

That night the boar-hunters ran through a long tunnel in the Hedge, carrying torches. My father led them. The great wild boar had been reported in these parts, and each hunter was armed with bow, arrows and spear. I hovered over my father and the Blue Child and I flew on ahead to scout out the quarry and report its whereabouts to the hunters. Once or twice I saved my father from the boar by warning him of its murderous attack. I think he was aware of my protection and thanked me. He showed me how he stalked the boar and in this way I learned about hunting. The Hall-Sun watched me closely and I was taken by her fresh beauty. She seemed sprung from the earth, like harvest wheat. Her gaze seemed to reprove me for not being with my father on the hunt. But then I thought of the Hægtessa and her difficulties, and when I did, the Hall-Sun nodded approvingly.

End of part one

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Shadow Work

 

(Photo by Christian Holzinger on Unsplash)

 

For about the last two months I have spent a lot of time going within and working on my spirit. Some of it has been a choice, some has been circumstances. My health (physically) has been very poor since about July and while I am no longer bleeding nearly to death regularly I felt I needed to find my strength in body and spirit.

I have done a lot of yoga. A lot of meditation, usually every day, sometimes twice a day, and while drawing in the light around me my shadow would not be still. Darkness has a bad rap. It is often mistaken as evil. Rejected and defiled. Repressed and denied, this is the animal within. Animals are not generally evil. Neither is the shadow.

When I started looking at this place, the in-conscious (unconscious doesn’t give it enough credit), in my early 20’s I found it as the wolf. The singer of bones. The true wild. It is that gut animal instinct and for most of us it dwells within our shadow. If I gave it space and respect it spoke to me. It was wise and knowing with strong instincts that are annoying never wrong no matter how much I try and think around them! It kept me alive. Yet this was not some soft puppy. It was the desire to bite which hurt me. Run from the unknown and dig into things I didn’t want to know.

It was never about trying to control the wolf. The wolf is wild and that is how it should be. It was about listening to it, bringing it forward in my mind and analysing why I was feeling this way. The wolf brought me gifts I didn’t understand. Usually dead things from my past. A memory, good or bad. A feeling, usually something sad because I bury the shit out of those!

In slowly accepting my wild-self, that part of the shadow self, I began to go deeper still. Yet I was afraid. I was right to be. For deep in my darkness was a dragon. A dragon made of fire and destruction. A dragon that I could really feel writhe within my gut when riled. This is not a metaphor when that part of me was “woken” my guts would squirm as though something wriggling around in there. A dragon that terrified me. It was scary this beast ripping out of my being and me losing control. Uncontrolled violence and wrath. I locked it down, I repressed it hard. I refused to listen, I even hated it.

It took years of journey work. Years of looking trying to understand. I remember exactly when I met the dragon. I only went to a Dark Moon circle once and as I journeyed I joined a group of female dancers dressed all in red, whom danced covered in sharp blades and barbs. I joined the dance with them and I was cut a few times, we all were. Afterwards in a tent of red drape we compared scars as dancers do, laughing and smiling. Still I was to go deeper. Down, down. Deeper into the caves. At first the caves were cold and water dripped everywhere. Then they became warmer and dryer. There was no light. None at all. Yet I knew the way and there in the dark was a huge faintly glowing red dragon. It was asleep coiled up. Just breathing. It was beautiful. Like copper. I reached out my hand and it was warm and smooth. An eye fluttered open. The voice was like thunder, the deepest sound but gentle. This was new to me.

I asked “what are you?”

I am your pain.”

I began to weep. My fear melted and I realised this beast, this part of myself, had been consuming my pain all my life. That there had been so much especially as a child I didn’t understand I had created this to deal with all the things I was unequipped to understand. Now I understood. That the dragon was like my wolf. A teacher if I listen. A friend if I needed it.

Working in your shadow is a place within The Dreaming. It is both real and metaphor. You might not have wolves or dragons. You might have lions or “demons”. Yet the demons we make are no less real for us making them. They are often woven from our instincts, good and bad and our worst parts. The parts we reject from our Light.

They are our addictions, our vices. Our rages and pain. Our deep grief and sorrow. Yet if we come to them gently and listen they can bring such healing. That is not to say you allow them to indulge. You listen to when, to why, to the triggers. You understand, maybe even speak about it and let the urge go.

When both my parents died within six months of each other and I was cut out of the family by my sister I was devastated in a way I couldn’t comprehend. Being a witch and bi-sexual is just not okay with her. I remember sitting at the dinner table with the real and distinct urge to burn a path of destruction between myself and my sister. Not a metaphorical one. I mean kill and burn everything and everyone I met until I reached her and let fire take her too. It was odd and specific and I simply spoke about it and ate my dinner. A few month later I discovered it was a common tactic by a long dead ancestor (Grace O’Malley) to destroy traitors that way. I gave voice to my shadow, my pain but I did not give into it.

As Samhain comes and then the deeper dark of the year it is an excellent time to look within at the things moving around in our shadows. It is a daunting task, and one often sorely neglected by many magickal practitioners.

 

Simple Shadow Ritual

You will need:

A mirror

Patchouli oil

Candles/soft lighting

Bay laurel leaves

Yarrow (dried)

Frankincense resin

Heat proof container and charcoal to safely burn your herbs.

Notebook or journal.

Soft blankets (get comfy this might take a while).

 

Prepare your space as you would usually. Anoint your forehead and heart with the patchouli oil.

I humbly come to my Shadow’s Gate.

I come to learn not to hate.

I come to see, I come to hear.

Open the Gate as I draw near.

Touch the edge of the mirror with your dominant finger used to anoint yourself in a deosil direction. Keep the light to a minimum but use enough to be safe. Light your charcoal in your cauldron or censor. First adding the yarrow, then the bay, then the frankincense.

Cleanse your body in the smoke and prepare yourself to sit and stare with the mirror. Visualise your “gate” and begin to unlock it. This might take some time. There may be stairs or even just darkness. You may have to “jump”. Your darkness will not be the same as anyone else’s. When you are ready focus on your own face in the mirror. Say:

I see you. I am listening.

You may or may not “see” anything. You might. We spend a lot of time locking this energy away, it may take a long time to open it again. Write what you see in you notebook.

Re-anointing the mirror in a widdershins direction and drawing a banishing pentagram on the glass should you feel the need.

Humbly I came to my Shadow’s Gate.

I came to learn not to hate.

I came to see, I came to hear.

The Gate is Closed I leave you here.

Dissolve your sacred space as you would usually. If you wanted to evoke particular Deities during your opening rites please make sure to thank them appropriately afterwards.

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