Season of Tender Roots: Belonging
An Excerpt from ‘Seasons of Moon and Flame’
by Danielle Dulsky
As a young woman, beloved witch, author, and teacher Danielle Dulsky found refuge, nurturance, and wisdom when visiting her grandmother’s rustic home. Next to the fire of the winter hearth and sitting outside with the wildflowers of spring, her anorexic body was loved and fed, her racing thoughts were slowed, and she received a maternal support she did not have in any other part of her life. These visits with Grandmother Grace were the seeds that eventually grew into Danielle’s deepening exploration into the Sacred Hag archetype and the wisdom that these elder women have been sharing since the beginning of humanity. Her third book, Seasons of Moon and Flame: The Wild Dreamer’s Epic Journey of Becoming is a “Year of the Wild,” — consisting of thirteen chapters that correspond to the thirteen moon cycles, or lunations.
We hope you enjoy this excerpt from the book.
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May this first moon of spring, this Season of Tender Roots, greet you as the Garden Hag does, with childlike curiosity and much, much joy. Her face is lined, her hair is gray, but her heart beats in the rhythm of the innocent erotic. You have come to her ivy-hugged house in search of some great, unnamed thing, and she is just the one to help you uncover that buried treasure, those invaluable golden depths of wild wisdom tucked away long ago, planted beneath the Elders’ Altar for safekeeping.
Our spring magick does the business of binding our dreams to those who came before us; our healing is their healing, and our longing is their longing.
Sunrise Reflection: The Beloved Dead
The first moon of spring calls us to ask ourselves potent questions about lineage and legacy, about broken mother lines and misplaced myths. Witches lean toward intuitive understanding in these times of lost ancestries, rather than endless intellectual digging through records of birth and death, easily fabricated nonevidence and inaccurate reflections of the deep wells of passion and experience housed by the flesh of those who bore us. There is a rejuvenated purity to early spring, an air of wide-eyed, newborn innocence and electric possibility that pulls us closer to healing what seemed unhealable — that is, to integrating what once seemed so far outside us, too foreign and, perhaps, too revolting to possibly be part of us. Each spring we are blessed with what seems a newfound gift of grace, an invitation to encounter, if not hold in our shaking hands, the wealth of Earth-based traditions that our blood remembers and remembers well.
Those coming home to their Witchcraft, acknowledging the art of magick for the first time, perhaps, after sufficiently dismantling the walls of indoctrinated belief that blocked their way, often are met with yet another obstacle, one entirely unforeseen and seemingly insurmountable. If we are to embrace the rhythms of the earth, the Craft, and the land, we must feel into the beauteous fabric of which our soul threads are part. We must resist ignoring the scars we have inherited, yes, but we must also look to the wisdom of those who lived long before the dead ones we know by name. We must step back and broaden our vision, scrying our way from the intricate patterns of family and roots.
To do so, we must seek out the beloved dead. We must extend our reach beyond a century or two. We must cultivate the long vision that eludes these days, and we must take great care with our fragile psyches and questing spirits.
Spring Equinox Celebration: Twin Eggs of Birth and Renewal
Materials: Air-drying clay
To beckon warmer days, to breathe hot and melt those persistent morning frosts in the name of sheer and visceral desire, is a primal act. We find ourselves in the final stages of labor here, birthing something out of pure will and our human longing to create but not knowing, not yet, what our faithful efforts have yielded. The great paradox of spring is this: If we look to the creation myths across many cultures, we see that birth is nothing if not violent, a sudden and cataclysmic eruption of something epic out of a primordial dark womb. And yet, in spring, there is also a sense of lightness, possibility, and joy.
Our vernal equinox celebrations must weave these two seemingly opposing spring energies together, blending that soft-baby-animal creaturely and generative innocence with that bursting, disruptive force that brings all things new into being. Equinoxes are balance points between light and shadow, and on that first day of spring, we must welcome the sweet and sugary light along with the bold, bone-shaking dark.
At your altar, light your candle of sovereignty and welcome the spirits of your more ancient elders of good intent, those who have your best interest at heart, those who want you to remember the unique power that runs in your blood. Face the east, the direction of new beginnings and the spring season; then begin to mold two egg-shaped sculptures from clay by hand, honoring this season of renewed opportunities and endless chances, pondering the infinite potential found in nature, the sheer resilience of wild agency, and the peace that comes from knowing that all dies to begin again. What you failed to hatch last year, what stayed hidden behind your fragile eggshell walls, surely will emerge from the cosmic egg this go-around, vibrant, full of wonder, and poised for timely action.
Take care with these new creations, humble in appearance as they may be. Hold an egg in each hand, naming the one in your right the Egg of Morning, the one in your left the Egg of Evening. Begin to move now, as you feel called; these movements might be subtle and slow gestures or emphatic leaps and rhythmic pulses. Pray with your body. Become an embodied expression of possibility. Honor both the expanding light and the dwindling dark here, on the equinox. Imagine your beloved ancestors dancing with you, holding their own eggs and welcoming what comes. Invite your primal and long-gone dead, those who hold the deepest treasures, those who can initiate you better and more meaningfully into your Craft than any living human.
These delights are what our best times are made of, after all. These small revelries remind us why we have been born to flesh. Stay with this for as much time as you have, permitting your movements to perhaps find repetition; here is where we meet the body electric, when our dance becomes a sacred limb-and-spine offering. If you can stay in the dance until that blessed slightly altered state of consciousness comes, when the dance swallows the thoughts whole and there’s little left but heartbeat and movement, you will encounter there a small piece of the Holy Wild sensual.
Your dance has charged your eggs with memory and feeling. Seal this ceremony by decorating them in whatever way seems right, perhaps with rose thorns penetrating the Egg of Evening or intricate symbols of blossom and root carved on the Egg of Morning. Drink something cool and sweet, and welcome all that comes, returning your eggs to your altar and thanking the ancestors in spirit who joined you in your celebration.
Waxing Moon Practice: Writing It Real
This first moon of spring is a soul-warming moon, and our magick is tasked with both manifestation and healing. As that moon of cleansing storms swells toward fruition, ask yourself what you are calling in that, if only in a small way, serves as a healing salve for the wounds of the wild, for the aches and pains endured by those who have come before us. We bridge the ancient with the new now, beneath these radically hopeful skies, and we bind the material to the embodied feeling.
Gather the signs you have been receiving from both dreams and the material world that seem to show you the way forward. Choose three life areas to inform your manifestation Craft as the moon waxes toward fullness; these might be sacred work, art, family, gender expression, romance, spiritual connection, communication, or any other aspect of your being that seems potent and pressing now. Certainly, we do not have such pieces of ourselves tucked away neatly in stacked boxes. Our work is hardly separate from our art or our communication. We are selecting certain puzzle pieces of our lives now as an act of discernment, of brave-hearted manifestation. We choose now to make the first mark on the blank canvas with hands shaking and brush dripping. We choose now because we feel those quickening energies sparking in our cells, and we choose now to claim the choice as ours.
Spend this waxing moon choosing the beginnings of what will be your spellwork in spring. Ask yourself what is in transition, what feels as if it is shifting underfoot, and what is teetering on some thin edge waiting for you to pull it close or push it away, once and for all. You might look to the creation myths of your ancestry, framing those tales of primordial darkness, violent deities, cosmic eggs, and ancient, long-rooted trees as telling metaphors for the magick of manifestation.
If it feels overly limiting to choose only three life areas, then choose more. If it feels best to work with only one area, then this is the path. Part of the Garden Hag’s medicine is discernment born of vulnerable and honest reflection; we take stock, we choose the path, and we move forward, all the while listening to our inner crone for direction. Each morning as the moon waxes, set the intention to receive a sign from the wilds, and look to the ways in which nature itself is an oracle.
As a waning moon practice, consider making an offering to your ancestors. This might be a small gift, a flower laid beneath a tree or a poem written to those who came before you. There is no need to name these people unless you feel called to. You might make this offering just once as the moon wanes, or it might be a daily act of framing yourself as part of an unseen collective. As you make this offering, imagine some small child of the future making this same offering to you. See a world less wounded and a land left better by your hand, by the hands of those who act now to save what must be saved.
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Danielle Dulsky is a heathen visionary, pagan poet, and word-witch. The author of Seasons of Moon and Flame, The Holy Wild, and Woman Most Wild, she teaches internationally and has facilitated circles, communal spell-work, and seasonal rituals since 2007. She is the founder of The Hag School and believes in the emerging power of wild collectives, cunning witches, and rebellious artists in healing our ailing world. Find her online at www.DanielleDulsky.com.
*Excerpted from the book Seasons of Moon and Flame. Copyright ©2020 by Danielle Dulsky. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.