Musings of a Hereditary Witch

Remembrance of Childhood Moon

It is late autumn and the nights are beginning to cool. The sky is clear this night and it’s nice to see the stars above us. However, the starlight does not afford us much light, so we carry kerosene lanterns to see our way and use our walking sticks (staffs) to navigate the uneven ground, also to aid us when crossing the creek to our spot under the great oak.  Thankfully, we took the cauldron and the fire wood down earlier in the day via the wheelbarrow. Not grand, but it gets the job done.

Under the protective cover of the oak, we give offerings of water, grain and blessings for the spirit of the oak and the animal and insect life the oak supports. Our walking sticks are leaned against the trunk of the oak to absorb some of the energy. The lanterns are then set on the altar stone and a small fire is built in the cauldron. We begin taking things from our pouches (we always carry a pouch for collecting things in nature and carrying a few magical items), more grain, ball of twine, an antler, dried herbs and flowers of the season; these are the things we will be using this evening.

A call to the *Land Children is made and to the Guardian of our land by name. Our family evocation is made and the dried herbs and flowers are scattered across the altar. Then we sit in contemplation waiting for the darkening moon to rise. We are so small in the vastness of the land and the night around us and yet we are not alone. The land children make themselves known in the chirps of crickets, the croak of bull frogs, and in the shushing sound the dry grass makes as some small animal scurries about. On some nights, if we are lucky, we will hear the coyotes calling to one another in the hills.

Once the thin sliver of the waning moon rises above the hills, dried herbs and flowers are cast into the fire. Since we are from an oral tradition, Grandma uses the waning moons to test my knowledge of the things she taught me on the waxing moons. She asks me to recite our family heritage and gives me a list of herbs and asks for their uses. She wants to know what herbs I would use for a bruise remedy and how I would prepare them. She also wants to know if I have been establishing a rapport with the land spirits and what information had I gleaned from my dreams. Had I worked on my gifts? Had I interpret any portents/signs? How is my divination going?

Once she is satisfied, we moved into the teachings for a waning moon. Some of the things I learn on such nights are past life work, hexes, hexes used in healing, scrying, especially fire scrying, and ancestor work.

The night ends with magic to drive away sickness for our family, pets, and livestock, those animals we rely on for food; also works to drive away poverty. Sometimes this involves candles, twine, carving or drawing on stone, wood or apples. Ground herbs dusted on the altar, then symbols or words would are drawn in the herbs and blown away to work their magic.

We close our ritual in the way of our family. The cauldron **fire, just embers now, has dirt tossed on it and stirred to make sure it is out. Final offerings of grain and berries are left for the land children. We collect our things and make the walk back the house for a cup of hot tea before bed.


*Land Children – these are not just the spirits of the land, but the trees, plants and animal life too.

** Fire – though we toss dirt on the fire and stir it to cool it down, making sure there are no embers left, a fire should never be left unattended, especially here in California. Our cauldron is set in a dirt circle twice the circumference of the cauldron so the heat of the cast iron doesn’t set anything on fire.