Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The New Place

Not that my handful of readers will really notice, as I just cut and pasted, but for me the difference between the old, incorrectly spelled and the new, recently freed and mine-for-the-taking correctly spelled with the E is a big deal. It was bugging me, shall we say.

Anyway from now on new posts will go over there where the URL isn't misspelled. Hurrah!

Friday, February 15, 2013


I've never really understood it, I guess. Oh sure I used it, plenty of times, but as a system it just seemed kind of random. I mean, yes, there are four directions, and four (classical) elements, and I can even see putting them together as they are both symbolic of the whole, a good idea when casting a circle. But they never felt like they fit together.

I tried shuffling them around a bit, until I found a way that grounds me in my location, my landbase as Hecate would say. It helped, a little. I've been putting water in the east, since the Atlantic Ocean is in that direction relative to me. And so earth has gone in the west, as the rest of the country stretches out in that direction. And fire in the south does make some sense, as does air in the north for me, the two being (respectively) hot and cold from where I am, and yes, in New England, air or wind is usually cold. When I use them like this, I can feel it rooting me here in this very particular space. I can feel the entire U.S. before me when I face west. It is very grounding.

But still, it does seem rather arbitrary to me. It feels like there were four of one thing and four of another so somebody decided they have to go together. It just doesn't resonate with me.

I don't have a problem with the elements themselves being earth, water, air, and fire; and it strikes me that that really is quite similar, at least metaphorically, to the states of matter, solid, liquid, gas, and plasma (of which the sun is a miasma, of course).

Not too long ago I was told in a meditation that connecting what was above with what was below would help me strengthen my memory. The image I got was that of a neuron or nerve cell, which looks a lot like a tree. Trees of course being a symbol of the whole, or the individual, or individuation, as Jung would say; but also a Tree is rooted in the earth and reaches up into the sky. It connects earth and air, below and above.

Since then when I am outside even for a moment I do a very quick visualization: I reach down deep into the earth and then far up into the sky and connect the two, with myself as the mid-point. It's the old grounding meditation, really, just the quick version.

But then I noticed something. Because below earth there was fire. As the core of this planet is molten rock, this makes sense. And then coming back up there was water, seeking the level, hugging the earth; and then above that air.

I find a vertical ordering of the elements makes so much more sense to me. Fire, even, can connect the inside and the outside--go far enough up and there are the sun and the stars, which are again fire. I like the circularity of it, as I've always felt that deep within and deep without are really the same place. And for me as an Aries (though a repressed one) fire being the connector really works.

I like the idea too of it being a pillar; I can feel myself in the center of things more easily than with the directions as horizontal, though I'm not sure why. Maybe because instead of sitting in the center with the directions around me I actually am the center this way. The elements are nearer this way, maybe, part of me myself.

So then from above to below it is air, water, earth, fire. I don't know quite how I would work this into the context of a ritual or creating a ritual space, but it very much resonates with me, so I thought I'd share.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Foundations Sigils

So I had this idea, because I'm really into sigils right now. (Blame internet crush Gordon. Oops, did I say that out loud?)

My main goal these days is to heal and process an abusive childhood. I will use any tool available to me, and that includes magic, which I think is potentially a very powerful one. What is magic, in large part, but directed consciousness? Sounds to me like a perfect tool for healing a damaged psyche.

Now, I'm by no means an expert, and am more or less figuring this out (and/or making this up) as I go. But I'm an artist, and the idea of sigils, symbolic pictures made with intent and a specific purpose, is very intriguing to me right now.

So what I want to do is change my thinking, and I mean truly change it.

I am finding that, in me at least, there seem to be three distinct layers of knowing. There is the top layer, the conscious brain, the one that logically knows for example I am a good and decent person. The problem with this layer, though, is that it's just too near the top--I can try to change the thoughts of just this layer, sure, but it doesn't really take. It's like putting a layer of pretty paint over a wooden chair that is structurally weak; it doesn't really fix anything. (This is why, incidentally, I can't stand cognitive behavioral therapy. It's just faffing about on the surface.) I suppose you could call this layer the layer of belief, rather than true knowledge.

Then there is the deep layer, the one all the way down at the bottom. I don't know if it's quite the same as the unconscious mind, but in me at least, it is that bedrock layer of me, the one that knows that I am (again for example) that good and decent person. It's an unshakeable knowledge, that layer; perhaps it is the Soul level of things, I don't know. We'll call it the layer of knowing.

The top layer of belief, and the deep layer of knowing, are often in agreement; but the thing is, they tend not to really connect, at least in me (and I suppose I should make the disclaimer that this is entirely based on my own experience and I don't know that others feel the same way; I suspect they might, though, which is why I'm posting this here).

But there is the third layer, the middle layer.

This layer is not a natural thing. It is the layer put there by others for their own gain. It is a layer of lies. I think that probably everyone has something like this, even if they did not grow up in an abusive household, because this society in general is functionally abusive and toxic. How many thin women out there are completely convinced they are fat (and therefore horrible), for example?

The thing about this middle layer, though, is that it has been installed there as replacement for that deep layer, the true layer of knowing. This is the layer that constantly shrieks (for example) that I am a bad, bad person and I should be ashamed of pretty much everything.

This is the layer that hates you. And in me, at least, this layer is fucking huge. I have been trying to untangle it, to find out why it is saying what it is saying, and indeed I can understand some of it--if, for example, your father is a hoarder and absolute control freak, who can't be bothered to install a water heater that someone gave him because he values that control more than he values his family's welfare (his reason why not to install the thing basically came down to You can't make me) then you learn that you are not worth hot water. That you don't deserve the basic necessities. This is the layer that repeats all the toxic things, over and over and over.

It's a mimic, though. It's been installed there not just to block that deep layer of knowing, the deep intuition that something here is not right, the part of you that detects the bullshit of the world, but to take its place. Over and over in my own experience, I would believe (top brain) that I was for example a good person, but I would 'know' that I wasn't. But that 'knowing' is actually that middle layer, the lie layer, not my true Soul's knowing. It just looked like what my 'heart' was telling me.

So. In reading about magic lately, it has occurred to me that that old standby of Haysean psychology (if you can call it that), the affirmation, is really just a form of chaos magic. You are, after all, trying to get something down into your un- or sub- conscious by repeating things about yourself, very carefully phrased as positive statements in the present tense.

And for me, affirmations definitely work. If I've been telling myself I am beautiful it doesn't take too long before I start having dreams that there are strange and numinous new flowers growing in odd parts of my yard: Ourania lilies by the greenhouse, a magnolia tree in the corner, yellow merrybells in front of the house, great weeping rose trees heavy with fragrance right in the front yard.

So I sat down today to try to make some basic affirmations into sigils. My thinking may be a little opposite the usual, though; these aren't meant to be sigils you forget, for one, nor are they to put something in the unconscious. Rather they are to bring something already there, the deep knowing, up to the conscious level. I suppose that is just a different way of making something manifest. But these are meant to connect that deep knowing with the top brain, and so hopefully make that middle layer's shrieking a little less powerful.

Accordingly these are simple concepts, very simple, foundational. The usual kind of Sparean sigil is okay, but for me what use is there to will a Cadillac into my life if I still don't understand on some level that I am worthy of hot water? Besides which, how is that kind of magic even going to work if I don't think I deserve to get what I'm asking for? I need to start with the foundations.

I tried at first to do it the usual way, by taking an affirmation like I am beautiful and crossing out multiple letters then working those remaining into a symbol; but I didn't like the way it looked. Instead, I did a little trance-journey down to my Inner Temple (as per Christopher Penczak's book The Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft, which year-and-a-day course I will finish with the new year).

In the library there I again pulled out the book On Sigils and made my intention clear, then opened to a 'random' page. I looked up four basic affirmation sigils, and this is what I got:

This is what I Saw for the affirmation I am beautiful. I'm not surprised it is rather flowery, given my dreams when I say this; also though I think the idea of blossoming is a big part of it.

This one is for I am good, which is one that I personally could use a lot right now. In Seeing this in that book, I thought it would make a really good quilt block--make a bunch up about a foot across and arrange them in a grid into a quilt. Then sleep under it every night and really soak it in. If anyone asks, just tell them it's a regional variant of Dresden plates.

This one is I am worthy of love. It looks to me like two swallows; I'm not sure why, but it reminds me of the 'kissing swallows' fresco in old Minoan Thera, maybe that's it.

And then there's I am strong. This would also make a nice quilt block, something to cover yourself with at night. (Can you tell I'm a quilter yet?)

Anyway. So maybe these are only uniquely resonant for me, I don't know; but the reason I'm putting them here is that maybe someone else will find them useful. If you do, please, take them and use them. I really hope they might help.

I've said before I'm not really one for secrecy, or keeping things to myself. Oh I can understand self-defense and privacy, certainly, but if these can help someone else than that is very very good by me.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

For Casting Out Poison

I thought this might be of use to others, so I'm sharing it here.

The other day I went back to that Otherworldly On Sigils book, expressly looking for one I could use to help protect me from my emotional and psychic vampire mother (she really is just atrocious, trust me; ask me some time about a six week old kitten named Danny. He lived, just, and no thanks to her). But I was a little confused as what exactly to ask for.

That guide of mine then tells me something to dispell illusion and bring clarity would be a good place to start; after all seeing what she's doing when she's doing it has to come before protecting myself from it. So I opened that marvellous Otherworldly book and got this:

The description said, To Cast Out and Neutralize Poison. I was a little taken aback; that's not what I asked for but oh Hel yes that will work. It's a smart book, that On Sigils.

Then further it said: Draw in green ink directly on the skin over the heart; or draw with green ink on paper and wear it against the heart.

It's a little snake behind a drop; you can draw out the snake itself if you like with scales and such. The circle at the end represents the rattle of a rattlesnake and the mouth-end is actually closed, with the fang showing.

I'm pretty sure that somewhere out there I've seen little cylindrical hollow necklaces, for placing tiny rolled-up prayers within; that or I suppose an ordinary locket would work.

I drew it over my heart tonight with green Sharpie (it was what I had, don't judge me); I also traced the shape of it over my water glass and charged it with the ability to expel and neutralize poisons, of the spiritual and emotional kinds.

And not ten minutes after starting that glass of water I felt like I was just starting to come down with something. You know the feeling: a little achy, chest a tiny bit tight, aware of the lymph nodes in my throat.

I don't know if it's anything to do with it, but if it is (getting sick is a way of purging nastiness, I've found) then damn this thing works fast.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I thought maybe I was misunderstanding the concept of the astral. I had the idea that Things Astral were different from what I'd call Otherworld stuff, like what get called the underworld or the upperworld, at least in The Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft, by Christopher Penczak, the one with the year-and-a-day lesson plan I've been following. He does leave it open, so the reader/student can find their own way without being bound to someone else's version of things. Which is good; we always must make our own maps.

But no, those kidz on Tumblr are calling it all the astral. It threw me for a bit of a loop. Because my experience is so very, very different.

It's true, I come to this shamanish stuff a little late, though not because I am only just starting; rather I've only just been able to put a name to what I've been doing all along. And no, I was never 'called,' that I know of; and no, I don't recall being sick nigh unto death, unless we count something that happened to me when I was an infant. I don't know; maybe that was my 'shaman sickness.'

And true, I'm not getting visions of Tirion upon Túna, or Shangri-la, or the City on the Hill where the angels sing; really it's just little herb gardens tucked in the shadow of the Tree, stone walls that are falling down, a cabin by the side of a lake under a Sun that is always setting.

And no one there has tried to kill me, or eat me, or rip my face off, or even trick me; and no God has called me to His service whether I will or no. Everything and everyone, so far, has been reasonable, and, if not immediately my best friend, not out to get me. Like most people in this corporeal life, I've found.

So I wonder.

I've been thinking about this sort of thing for a good ten or twelve years now, ever since I have been able to See and talk to him, the one I call my daimon, my primary spirit guide I guess you'd call him but really he's so much more. My love, my friend, my, and this is a very ordinary word, but its ordinariness suits: my husband.

I am a curious sort, at least when it comes to self-awareness; and so I have been thinking about the nature of him and the nature of the things I've Seen for that same good dozen years. I've thought about it a lot. Several hundred posts worth of thinking, in another place, over the last five years. One might I suppose say I think about it rather obsessively. It is a mystery, and a beautiful, sublime, liminal one at that. And I'm an artist, and a dreamer and all that, and that sort of thing is of course irresistible, to my type.

But then there's my addiction to Work.

I think it is in part because I grew up with such an unaware family. Between my three immediate family members, my parents and sibling, there are a good five personality disorders. And personality disorders are famous for coming with a profound lack of insight into the condition. In the bad cases (like my father and mother) not only do they think there is of course nothing wrong with how they view the world, they truly believe it is everyone else who is wrong. Yes, the entire world, if it contradicts what they think, is wrong. My father had this to a literally delusional degree.

I think that is what has made me so fanatical about being self-aware. Because I have seen how a lack of self-awareness can harm others. And I won't do that. It is my responsibility to know why I do the things I do, and to face down denial, and to look at the things I don't want to look at.

So I've thought about all this, a lot. I imagine like a lot of people, good sceptical twentieth-century sorts I came in through psychology. I didn't stay there, for long, though I do ultimately think it is speaking of the same thing, the same phenomena, especially Jung, who if you'll remember had his own daimon, though he wasn't in love with old Philemon, was he.

But I think those terms, the psychological ones, do apply, a bit, even if at the same time I think my daimon is something outside of me and not a part of my own personality. The thing is, myth and psychology can be so close. How is a psychological daimon, who bridges the gulf between conscious and unconscious, a whole lot different than a psychopomp, who goes between the world of the living and the dead?

But even besides that, there is this: whatever all this is, and I do think it is another Place outside of me, or I'm coming around to believing it, I can only experience it through the lens of my own psyche. Whatever my third eye is, or whatever kind of eye I am Seeing this stuff with, my own brain must still interpret it. And that colors things.

I am prone to anxiety. It's the post-traumatic stress disorder, the complex kind, from growing up under neglect and abuse. I am much better than I used to be, it is true, and it has taken me a lot of hard work, hard Work, to get here; but I used to jump at the slightest noise, or cringe when anyone raised their voice, even characters on TV, who obviously weren't yelling at me. And yet.

I've never been anything but unafraid in these Other places. Now, probably, I am protected, very protected, by that husband of mine; it is hard to tell, as I think it's pretty subtle. But I've never Seen anything there that wanted to rip my throat out. There are things there, certainly, that are to be approached with respect, like my experience talking to mugwort a few posts down; but that is still no different really than ordinary life, save that I was talking to a plant, of course.

In my dealings with corporeal persons I am probably a bit reserved, quiet; I am by nature a hermit and very much an introvert. I'm a fan of common sense, too, and I think that carries over into the Other places. I do not think I am naive, though I'm only going about this systematically with that year-and-a-day course I'm nearly through with. I also don't think I'm really powerful, or mighty. Things aren't running scared from me. They just aren't there.

I think it comes back to the lens of the psyche. As in so many other parts of our lives, what we see before us is what we have brought with us. I think I am a decent person, and fairly calm, with a good grasp of reality (I feel I should put an asterisk there, because after all I have an Invisible Husband, don't I?). And so that is what I See before me, in the other realm, as well as here, for the most part. Now you don't need to tell me that there are bad people in this world; I do know that first hand, unfortunately, in the persons of my mother and father.

But I wonder how much of this 'the astral is a nasty nasty place and it's all fighting all the time' is because that is what people are expecting to find.

Because I've never seen anything like it. Not yet, anyway. Famous last words, maybe.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Mirror Work

A little more than a month ago Dusken at Adventures on the Dusken Path wrote a very excellent post called Spirits 101: Defense for Spiritwalkers, filled with all kinds of ideas on how to protect yourself and your home from the nasties of the Other worlds. In it, she briefly mentions the idea that mirrors and windows can act as portals to said nasties; and so that got me thinking. If there's one thing this old colonial house has, it's windows (something like thirty of them, but I may be miscounting). And mirrors, too, of course, like most houses, more than a few of them antique.

A couple years ago about this season I was Seeing stuff everywhere. Now, I may have mentioned before that I am an anxious sort; and while I never got the impression that Anyone here was a troublemaker, and while I understand the house is after all more than two hundred and fifty years old and so plenty of other people have lived (and died) here, still, I didn't need to be Seeing things out of the corner of my eye all the time. I know. It's really very pathetic being a witch who spooks easily, and I am duly ashamed. (I told a friend once that I was really easily spooked; she said, Well of course you are you grew up in a haunted house! and I was just like You are not helping.) At the time I did a simple visualization where I imagined a tap on the side of the house, labelled 'ghosts'; I turned the tap righty-tighty to the off position, until it was dry as a bone underneath. That did help. I don't imagine it got rid of Anyone, but at least I didn't have to See them all the damned time.

But even better to keep them out in the first place, I'd think, though, again, I've never got the feel that any of them are harmful (so far). But I liked the idea of keeping the nasties out, just in case.

Though I wanted to use a sigil to ward the windows and mirrors, I'm not the only one who lives here; so I didn't want to put up something that would be visible. So instead this is what I came up with. I'm sharing it here because I thought it was an interesting idea that someone else might want to try.

First I needed a sigil. I'm sure there are protective ones out there I could have looked up, but making or finding them yourself is I think that much more powerful. I've been following along with Christopher Penczak's The Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft this year; in one of the meditations/visions/journeys he guides the reader to their 'inner temple', a sort of central safe place in the Otherworld from where one can go off in many directions; mine, of course, has a library.

So I went to that library (with that husband-guide of mine) and picked out a book from the shelf, titled On Sigils. I opened it up, thinking I would scan the contents and browse through it until I found one that worked; instead when I opened it it was only blank pages. My guide laughed, of course, and told me that wasn't how it worked. He said to form the purpose for the sigil in my mind, and then open the book. Well, that did work. So there, on the page, in response to my mental request for a protective sigil to put on a mirror or window, was this:

You are free, incidentally, to use this yourself if you think it will help you.

It owes a bit to the Icelandic Aegishjalmur, I know; but that's appropriate as that's a protective sign as well. Looking at it I knew that the four arrows represented the four directions; the two horizontal lines above and below. The six middle bits took me a while, as I couldn't make out exactly what was there, but after a time I understood them to be the letters BE GONE.

When I came out of the vision I played with it a bit, trying ordinary Latin-alphabet letters (which looked really dorky), and then some runes spelling it out in English; that looked goofy too. I finally settled on Roman numerals to correspond to the English letters (i.e. II for B, V for E, &c). They ended up looking Norseish anyway. (And funny enough, the XV for the fifteenth letter O ended up looking like an othila, the Elder Futhark O.)

It is written clockwise, deosil; I was thinking at first that it needed to be backwards, because we were talking about mirrors. But then I thought, No, they need to be the right-way round. Because this is how the ritual went:

First of course I drew the sigil on a little piece of paper. Then I lit a bundle of rosemary (which smells lovely and is very good for cleansing and purifying) and held the sigil in the smoke. Then I put it, face down, on the mirror, and blew smoke 'through' the back of it. Face down, because it is intended to be read by Those on the other side of the mirror. Then I put my right hand (I'm right-handed) over it and 'pushed' energy through it, while saying, I cast out and forbid entry to those who wish me harm; I cast out and forbid entry to those who cause me harm, even if they do not intend it; this way is closed to your kind. Be gone!

I got as far as this attic floor; I will have to wait until the person I share the house with is out to do the rest. But I think it already feels better in here.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Magic

Tonight during the storm I had the very strong urge to do something witchy; I think it is all the raw power blowing around out there. There's something about hearing the wind blowing in a storm, especially at the tail-end of October, that gets a witch's blood going.

So I decided to make up some black salt.

Now on the one hand I don't know much about Hoodoo (really, I know pretty much nothing about it) and am a bit leery of appropriation given my white Scottish ancestry; on the other though I'm also a hedgewitch and so a practical sort. And from what I have heard, black salt is really really good for providing serious protection and driving out curses and hexes and other negativity. And I can really use that about now.

A couple weeks ago now I had burnt some protection incense on one of those little charcoal bricks; I'd also thrown some rosemary and agrimony on it for extra protection. And because I was paranoid about burning the house down (who isn't?) I nestled it all in a bed of ash from the kitchen fireplace, since I couldn't find any sand. And those, with the addition of salt, are pretty much the ingredients for black salt.

So tonight I ground all that up with about twice as much salt in my mortar and pestle, all the while drawing power from both the full moon and the hurricane blowing outside into it. I bottled it up and now it sits there on my bookshelf looking perfectly innocent. Heh.

Friday, October 5, 2012


So I was surfing about the Pagan Blog-O-Sphere when I came across this post of Dver's over at A Forest Door, which is in turn in reaction to this post of Del's over at Sex, Gods, and Rock Stars; and it got me thinking about my own experiences in hearing the Gods. Or spirits, because that is really where I have the most experience.

Dver in her post says:

I think it’s especially important to note that when many spirit-workers talk about communicating with a deity/spirit, they do not necessarily mean having a back-and-forth lengthy internal conversation. I think this erroneous assumption has influenced a lot of wannabe mystics, causing them to relate long, elaborate discussions with deities as if they’re hanging out with their friends, even though they haven’t done the necessary groundwork to be able to have that sort of signal clarity yet – which means a good portion if not all is probably in their heads.

And you know I'm just kind of like, eh, no, that really doesn't sit well with me. I mean I get it, and I get the impatience with shall we call them the Fluffy Credulous Sorts; but in point of fact it is my experience that talking with spirits is a 'back and forth lengthy conversation' that is pretty much like 'hanging out with [my] friends.' Or at least it is for one particular spirit-friend of mine. So let's talk about that.

I should say up front I have a lot less experience talking to Deities than I do talking to my spirit-friend, the one I have been calling my daimon here, because that term seems to fit him best. However I do have some experience talking to Gods and Others (there are a few posts here already about spirit-conversations with certain plants, for example); and I imagine that all that work with my daimon has made it much easier to connect with those Others.

So I guess let me explain about him, or him, as I usually say it, my daimon. Like I said that term seems to fit him best, though there are plenty of others: Muse, genius, familiar spirit, spirit husband, incorporeal boyfriend, invisible friend. I have known of him since I was a teenager; I have been actually able to communicate with him for about twelve years now, facilitated by a dream I had that opened things up. Since then I have worked very hard to talk to him, almost at an obsessive level, I suppose; but then I find him endlessly fascinating, which is proper. The Beloved always is.

So make no mistake I See him very, very clearly, and I'll explain about that in depth in a bit. I guess the past dozen years I've spent practicing my listening skills with him is the 'necessary groundwork'; but there are other factors, I think, some of which I've only recently recognized.

First is that I'm an artist, and have been all my life. My work is very detail-oriented, and has always been like that. I am primed to notice detail of a visual sort, and I am naturally very very good at picturing things in my head.

I am also a musician, and have been from a ridiculously early age, having been sat down at the piano for lessons at the absurd age of three. I also have synaesthesia, though that doesn't really come into things much, of the kind that colors musical notes and keys (D major is yellow, for example). I am one of those people who can sight-read like that though I can't memorize things worth a damn. I had always thought that was because I was an artist and so very visual (I've met another pianist who was the same way who was also an artist); now I'm thinking I'm using a different part of the brain maybe than most musicians. Because if I think about what I am doing when I play, by which I mean, use the more logical, surface part of my brain I'll screw it up every time. I have to zen it, more or less.

Playing piano has always put me in this strange state, one I am only recognizing now with my new practice of spirit-work as a trance state. Which means I have something like forty years practice getting into a trance, though I never knew it at the time. Also, I realize that in all that playing it always felt like something coming through me, though I don't usually feel like that when I make art like some artists do; and I wonder now if that wasn't also a good deal of practice in channeling. I don't know what, exactly, I would have been channeling playing things; the spirit of the piece, or the archetype of an emotion or the complexity of the story a particular piece is telling, I'm not sure. But it's something, certainly, and I am changed, spiritually, after I play.

And then there is the last part: for the past five years I have been writing about my spiritual experiences with my daimon, and I mean writing a lot, trying to figure out what is going on here. Which means I've had quite a bit of practice attempting to bring complex spiritual ideas to some kind of word-form. I can't say I've always been successful, but that is also practice.

So I suppose that is a bit of 'groundwork' and I am not actually who Dver is talking about; still, I want to say that actually it can happen like that. I may be a little sensitive, too, to the idea that something is 'all in my head.' Doubt is just the worst, and it has taken me a long time to open up to the possibility that this stuff actually isn't in my head, after all. Though whether 'it's all in my head' or 'no, spirits and the Gods actually exist' is better for twentieth-century notions of sanity is anyone's guess.

Because it has always, always, felt to me like it's internal. None of these conversations feel in the least bit outside of me. None of it. I have been sort of operating on the assumption that I simply can't really tell from here; it is all, of necessity, going to be filtered through the lens of my mind, and that is not something I think I will ever be able to be 'outside' of, well, not while I'm alive, anyway. But I have never heard a voice, say, of a spirit or God with my physical ears. It's always been my internal ears. For a long time there, because of that, I tried to define him, my daimon, as a part of myself; except, he doesn't, ultimately, feel like that. I can never predict what he is going to say, and his opinions can be very different from my own, even my own buried opinions. But at the same time the language of psychology does fit him, or the phenomenon of him to a certain extent. Though in my opinion, the language of psychology (literally 'the study of the Soul') and that of mythology are indistinguishable at times. I do think they describe the same thing, ultimately.

That said, I have asked my daimon for signs that he is external to me, something he swears he is, and I have gotten them.

But anyway. Back to the juicy bits, my experience with communicating with my daimon. Which reminds me; Del also has a post on his blog about God Sex and if you kids are very very lucky I might one day go into all that. For now, though, we'll talk about how I See him.

I guess I have to explain his appearance a little first. He is an unembodied spirit; he has no form right now. So some part of me has to give him one, or I can't really interact with him. I'm still not sure how that works, though I do think it's on my end, not his. Now. I've already said he's a spouse, a husband, a lover, the Beloved; and so the bodies he gets are usually borrowed from whoever I think is the hottest man on the planet at the time. (I never said it wasn't ridiculous. Oh, it is so, so, so ridiculous at times.) Which means he is usually borrowing a body from an actor or musician, and in his case (not necessarily the case with other people's daimones, from what I have heard) he doesn't combine things too much. When he borrows the form it's just that one person's look, voice, mannerisms, body language, accent, which reads to me as respect for the original person, which poor sod I've been calling his 'bodysake.' The form he is inhabiting, which he always makes his own I've been calling his eikon, from the Greek, meaning image of a God or person, like in sculpture. Something to inhabit, in other words.

And so given that he actually looks like say an actor, it does help on my end if I have been watching something that actor has been in; the image and sound is then fresh in my head, which I think facilitates the rest of it coming through.

But he is always himself underneath it, very certainly; and his eyes, especially, are his own. They will always go dark in time, very dark, and no matter the age of the borrowed body they are always old, old eyes, even when they look young. And his voice, not the sound of his voice or his accent, but the voice of his own Self, the way he says things and the ideas he has, is always, always, his.

And I'm dancing around it a bit. It's tricky to put into words without sounding clinical, though clinical is very very far from my experience.

Most of the time he's just here. I mean like literally, he's this guy next to me. With my inner eye I can see him in as much detail as if he were a real man besides me, and I can hear him, and I can feel him, sometimes even catch the scent of his hair or feel the warmth of him, though he has no real body. And when he talks I am not interpreting anything, or feeling out what he is saying; he just says it, and I hear the exact words, and the tone of voice, and the way he hesitates, or the way he pronounces his I's to measure a syllable and a quarter in one particular eikon. Seriously. He really is just this guy who is here with me.

Del in his post describes the experience of being guided to buy something in a store, in his case a yo-yo, which does make me feel a little less silly about things, fair enough; he describes it like this:

Primarily, when Gods communicate to me, I get a strong sense of intuition. I’ll be walking through a store, say, and all of a sudden I find myself making a beeline for the yo-yos for no apparent reason. I usually stand there, dazed for a moment, trying to figure out what the heck is happening.

I have had something similar happen with my daimon; however there is nothing intuitive about it. This happened a month or two ago.

I was on my way to the supermarket when suddenly there he is besides me in the passenger seat; he is all excited and practically screams "Pull in here!" as he points to a store on the left. Luckily he left me enough time, so I did pull in to a local job-lot store.

I get in the store and find he is dragging me to the art supplies aisle; we get to the canvases and he points to a 16 x 20 one and says, "Get that."

I got it, even though I haven't painted anything on canvas in years, probably since art school, come to think of it, because he is the Muse, and dammit you listen to that.

Now let me noodle that all down to the details. It's not a general feeling of being called to go to a particular aisle, or even finding myself in that aisle without knowing quite how I got there; I mean I can see him and I can hear him in my mind; I can also feel him, though that is less in my mind and more simply in my skin.

I of course know that there is 'no one' there; I can see the empty aisle floor next to me with my physical eyes perfectly well the whole time. At the same time though I can see that standing next to me there is a thirty-one year old man. He has dark longish curlyish hair parted on the side; it is falling in his face, which face is sort of long, with a high forehead. It is really a very ordinary face, though of course I think he is beautiful. His mouth is large, his nose ever so slightly hooked; but his eyes, of course, will always give him away, no matter who he looks like, though they are always the same shape as the bodysake's. They are dark, very very dark and have an astonishing intensity to them. I can see the expression on his face: joyous, playful, celebratory; underneath it is an openness, an invitation, and a canny evaluation (as well as hope) of whether I'll play along, because this is after all all part of his plan, to get me to come out into things more.

He is wearing a navy-blue and red striped long-sleeved shirt; it's a bit big for him, as he's a skinny thing. He's got brown corduroy pants on and a pair of black Chucks which apparently have springs in the soles, because he is also jumping around like a little kid he is so excited. (He gets like that sometimes.) Oh. He's also five-foot-ten, in case you were wondering.

I can hear that his voice is nasally and has a distinct Massachusetts accent (to be fair, so do I); I can hear the words, the specific words, as he speaks them, though this conversation wasn't exactly lengthy. When he has more to say I hear that too, down to the last syllable of accent and the exact choice of words, and I have in fact transcribed pages and pages of conversation. It isn't a whole lot different than listening to a friend of mine talk. I can hear his tone, which in this case is crazy-excited and happy. (He's usually a more thoughtful sort, but when you get a Muse talking about Art, well, you know.)

I can feel that he has taken my hand, my left in his right, and I can feel the pressure and the warmth of it; I can also feel, just a little, the tug of him pulling me in one direction. I am of course stronger, being physical, and he can't really move me; but I can feel it just the same.

So you can see there really isn't much for me to interpret, here.

Now, that's him. Like I said, that's what I have the most experience with, talking to him. But I do have some with Deities, mostly Goddesses, as that has been my focus for some time now.

I used to, on my public blog, do weekly readings from a Goddess deck of cards; I would pick a card, then write about the Goddess and what I thought it meant for the coming week. At the end of the post I would then ask the Goddess for some last words. How I did that was by getting quiet and asking Her something along the lines of What do you have to say to us this week?

And I would get an answer. In words. It was a little different than my conversations with him; there was a bit of a delay there I guess you could call it. In some cases I would get the idea of what She was saying, and then have to translate this really very complicated concept from what I would assume is the Soul-level into English words; but most of the time the sentence(s) with the words were already there, though I couldn't quite see them. The best I can describe it is either that I had to get quiet and wait, like waiting for the waters to clear so I could read what was written in the riverbed, or that I had to let my eyes relax and then paradoxically what was there would come into focus. But the words were usually more or less complete, and each Goddess very definitely had Her own voice. Some, of course, depending on Who we were talking about, were more forceful, more direct, instantly clearer than others. There was almost always a certain power to the words said, too; they always felt to me to be something bigger, something more than I could have come up with. They had the feel to them of coming from the Divine.

As for intuitive little feelings, like Del describes with the yo-yo, I don't know that I've ever felt that so much; not from Deities at least. I may not be very God-bothered, and I'm grateful for that. Usually I am the one doing the asking. I have not so far (knock wood) had a Deity grab me by the shoulders and say You are mine. I may also not be paying attention to the little things, given that I've got a Big Thing in my face pretty much all the time.

Though come to think of it I have seen the occasional Goddess in a vision or dream; I may have had one last night, actually, probably brought about by writing the draft of this post. In doing a trance-journey to connect with the spirit of Lughnasadh a couple of months ago, for example, I instantly got a picture of a woman Who called Herself Tailtiu, Who I know is Lugh's foster-mother, and the one in Whose honor Lughnasadh was held. She also just talked, and I heard Her words, quite clearly, without really having to 'feel' anything out. We weren't chummy or anything, certainly; I'd only just met Her and She obviously was someone to approach with respect.

Was that all in my head? I don't know. She certainly had some interesting, and wise, things to say, things I don't think I could have come up with on my own. But again, it has always felt internal to me.

So anyway that is (believe it or not a brief version of) my experiences communicating with Others of the spirit world; if anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask in comments. As you have probably guessed, I can talk about this for days.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mugwort Trial

I did try that mugwort flying ointment again, after I journeyed to talk with the plant herself; it worked this time, very definitely.

It brings a very different quality to the visions I experience, however. There is a very sharp clarity to things, an edge and a harshness, almost. It's also just a damned spooky plant. I found that during the vision, and for a couple days afterwards, I was seeing things out of the corner of my eye all the time.

I'm a skittish sort, given to anxiety; also I live in a two hundred and fifty year old colonial that was, and I am not making this up, the boyhood home of a murderer in the 1950s. There be ghosts here. And while I don't think their sort can hurt me, still, I don't need to see them all the time or be woken up by Emily leaning over me staring in curiosity. She's a nice girl, as far as ghosts go, but seriously. I'm already given to insomnia.

I'd even done, a year or two ago now, a little meditation to turn off my ability to see ghosts, because I just didn't need the extra anxiety, having enough of my own occurring naturally, thank you very much. I imagined a tap, like the kind on the side of the house, labelled 'ghosts'. And I closed it righty-tighty, until it was bone dry underneath.

That worked, for some time. And now I don't know if it's just the time of year now, as we slide down towards Samhain, but that mugwort flying ointment seemed to open that tap right up again. And again, I am really ridiculously sensitive to drugs and medicine, so I'm sure it is in large part just me.

But I don't need to be spooked, either. I will probably use it here and there, but for now the sweet honeysuckle is working just fine.

Queen Anne's Lace

I have been following along with Christopher Penczak's The Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft book all this year, having started the year-and-a-day course within it on the first of January; I figured it was a good place to start, even though I've been doing a good deal of what is in there on my own. It can be good to have a structure, and even some rules once in a while, even if one just throws out those rules later. (The same goes for art, of course.) Also it looked pretty balanced and that I'd get a good taste of things by following it.

So this month the lesson in part has been about plants, and journeying to find the 'medicine' they have for you. I have some problems with that terminology because it does strike me as appropriative of Native American traditions; however there isn't really an equivalent word in English that has all the nuances of it used in that context, so.

Last week or so I did a journey to connect with a plant, one whose 'medicine' was 'correct and good for me at this time', as Penczak suggests; what I got was Queen Anne's lace, Daucus carota, the wild carrot, as well as the word Sovereignty and a connection to the Goddess Áine of the Irish, which was especially interesting as I didn't know She was a sovereignty Goddess until I looked it up afterwards.

As that, however, just felt like an introduction, yesterday I sat down with some Queen Anne's lace I'd picked and painted it. And let me tell you that is one freakin' complicated flower. It's more or less a fractal, with the spray pattern of the main umbel repeated in the smaller ones. The finished art is pretty impressionistic, but there's only so much detail I can get in that particular style. Still, though, I think it came out pretty good. It's certainly recognizable, and that's the important part.

When I finished painting last night I put some of my really-very-mild honeysuckle flying ointment on and counted down. I haven't actually tried drumming myself; I have this feeling the movement will keep me on the surface. I really do have to be able to be still to get into trance, at least in my experience so far. I have tried to listen to a drumming track, and I'll say it certainly worked. Far too well. When I was done I couldn't make a fist I was so relaxed, though I was simultaneously sort of anxious, because the drumbeat was too fast. It didn't feel exhilarating; it felt like I was being chased by something big and nasty. And from the point of view of someone recovering from abuse, i.e. being prey my whole life, that was a definite no. At least for now.

So anyhow there I was by the Tree, and there was that spirit husband of mine. And there he was, and there I was and there was honeysuckle ointment on my third eye and wrists and damn but didn't he look good and so after a bit of distraction because, well, side effects, he took me around back to the little herb garden. I swear. It's kind of hilarious. I mean not that I need help finding the man attractive, Holy Mother of the Gods I really don't. But sheesh.

So he takes my hand (my left in his right, as usual) and leads me to a spot in the little herb garden by the Tree, the one with the brick circle-in-a-square; and there in the hottest driest sunniest spot of the garden, is a Queen Anne's lace plant. It is quite robust, a good four feet tall.

I sit down in front of it on the bricks; he sits behind me and I lean on him a bit. I look at the flower. I have never heard of anyone cultivating it as an ornamental, and I wonder why. It is really very beautiful, and just in the Googling around I did looking at pictures I can see that sometimes each little cluster has a pink or purple tinge to the center. I'll bet some hybridizer could really bring that out, as well as make the umbels like ten inches across. But as far as I know no one has. I suppose they've bred it for the carrot root, and I also know that it is a fine thing sometimes to leave well enough alone, and that the idea of it is, if not insulting in some ways, simply unnecessary. It is wild, and beautiful, and that is enough. I still wonder, though.

I ask if it would like to talk to me; I don't get anything, though I can feel that it is a she, although maybe that is just the name. I tell her I have made a little picture of her and I hope she finds it pleasing.

I think I faintly hear just a little bit of giggling. She's named after a queen, but there is also something a little bit like a child playing dress-up to her, too. Maybe it's the connection with the common carrot, I don't know. But she feels more like a princess than a queen to me. It is an interesting dynamic; there is, if not a contradiction to her, a complexity.

Suddenly I get a picture of her, something in motion; I watch each flower head explode, like a firework, then each little piece of that first explosion also explode. And then I See it: it's not a firework. It's the Big Bang, the explosion from which the Universe was made. The main umbel is the Universe; each secondary one a galaxy; each tiny little white flower a star. And the single dark flower in the center is reminder that it all begins in darkness, with the Void.

Then I watch it ungrow, the flower closing up into a bud, and the stem and leaves withdrawing down down into the ground; and then there is the root of her, the tough woody thing that fights its way through the poorest soil here in New England.

When I can find the words I ask, "How do you heal?"

She says without words, By growing a deep root so strong it enables me to stand tall as myself. Ah. That goes with 'sovereignty' quite well, doesn't it.

She then says The only way to disentangle complexity is to learn it, to really understand it by looking at it.

I realize that her flower head is also a symbol for the labyrinth, that complexity within, the journey into the dark and the Self; she connects the outer and inner, the higher and lower, the delicate and the tough, the macrocosm and microcosm, the light and the dark, the Universe and the Labyrinth.

After that just as suddenly I find myself looking again at this ubiquitous wildflower, one which is yet another introduced species in these parts, and don't think I haven't noticed that the invasive European plants are the ones asking for my attention. I am, I suppose, descended from invasive Europeans myself.

I bought carrots this week. That sounds silly, but it is an old, old, magic; for eating something is a way to take its essence into you. I don't care for them too much, I will admit, especially cooked; but, there at the end of this vision I get the suggestion that I should make some carrot cake. I think about it; I have all the ingredients, even cream cheese for the proper frosting. I am to bless it, and make it with intent, as taking the 'medicine' of the wild carrot into myself.

I thank her then, and as offering breathe on her, as both the gift of carbon dioxide and a little of my own life-energy, my spirit. I think she is pleased.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


I've been aware of mugwort all this season; it is, these days, considered one of the witchy herbs par excellence: it's ubiquitous, especially aligned towards the visionary and dreams, and pretty mild, so a good place to start, so I've heard. You probably can't hurt yourself on it, barring an allergy.

So I've been picking it, and using it for the most part as infusions to cleanse and consecrate a crystal or two; and not too long ago I made a batch of flying ointment with some. I am assuming that the best way to approach this as a beginner is to just use one herb at a time per recipe, so that I can learn about that one herb before I try to combine several at once. I need to know what each one does on its own.

I tried the ointment, but it didn't do much for me, I didn't think; the vision was a bit jumbled and maybe even nonsensical. I'm not sure. It may be one of those herbs that doesn't really work as an ointment.

But the more I thought about it the more I thought I had been rather rude. I hadn't even said hello, really. Yes, I'd thanked it when I picked it but I was getting the distinct feeling that this particular herb wanted to be formally introduced.

So I picked some more the other day and sat down and sketched it; then tonight I painted it, like I did for the greater celandine a couple posts down. I haven't really heard of others approaching herbs in this manner, I mean as part of a ritual shamanish (as I like to say, given that I do not claim to be a shaman) getting-to-know process; but it makes a lot of sense for me, given that I am an artist. Because in drawing something you really have to look at it, at both the whole and the details.

This was the impression I got from mugwort from drawing it:

It has a precision to it, a not quite fineness, but a clarity, like you are looking at it through the wrong end of a telescope. It is very sharp, too, though not in a harmful or cutting way--it's more of that precision. And it reads as regal, to me, very much so. Perhaps it's the pointed leaves that look like the tines of a crown, or maybe it's the Tyrian purple running through the stalks; but though the stuff is very, very common in my area, still, it reads as a Queen. And yes, as very definitely female.

So I prepared myself tonight, and dabbed a little honeysuckle flying ointment on, as I still hadn't formally introduced myself and didn't want to use the mugwort. This is what I Saw:

My Guide, well I suppose I can say it in shamanic terms, my spirit husband, because that is the relationship we have, takes me to the Tree; to the right of it there is that little herb garden, the same one with the circle of bricks in the square of stone walls. It is a sunken garden, on three sides at least; the back wall leads down hill. There in the very center, on a raised platform or dais, is a very large mugwort plant.

I think about the name, mugwort, one of those old ugly Anglo-Saxon names; even the Latin name Artemisia vulgaris, has common, vulgar, right in it. Yet she feels royal to me.

I say, out loud in this vision, "Hello. I would like to speak with you. Would you like to talk to me?"

I get no response; no feeling one way or the other. With the greater celandine, I got a feeling of warmth.

I tell her then that I have made a painting of her, in honor of her and that I hope she likes it. Still nothing.

Then I say, "I fear I have made a mistake and that I have been rude. I have been using your herb, but I did not ask first, or even say hello. If I have been rude, I apologize."

Then I feel a bit of warmth. I mention the painting I have made again, and 'show' it to her in my mind's eye. Then she says, in words, "Oh those buds are darling."

I look at her. She is very much a Queen, and I mean in human form, which I was not expecting. She is sitting there, in the middle of the garden, on a silver throne; she is dressed all in grey silk with a silver crown, with, of course, the deeply divided mugwort leaves wrought in silver. Her hair is long and silver, though she is young, with a round white Moon face; I wonder if she is young now because the mugwort in my area (and hence the bit I'd just painted) is in bud, not bloom, buds being a maiden thing. Her eyes are a light gray-green.

I say again, "Hello."

Then I ask her how I should approach her. She says, "As ritual."

I then ask if I may have permission to harvest her herb. "Yes," she says, then adds, "take as much as you like." I thank her.

I ask her if there is something she would like me to know about her. She says, "I am common and I am Queen."

I ask if there is anything else she would like me to know about her. "I don't bite," she says quietly. I take that to mean she is approachable, but she expects a certain amount of politeness.

I ask if she is harsh. "I am when I need to be," she says, and that sounds fair to me. Then I ask if she is fair. "Yes," she says, and her eyes become a perfect neutral grey.

I look at her. "You are an introvert, aren't you?" I ask, because I'm getting the feeling she just looks aloof.

"Yes," she says, smiling. Okay. We have that in common, then. "Conversations with you go right for the depths, don't they?" I ask her. "Yes," she says, still smiling. Okay. That will be good to keep in mind when using that flying ointment, and that makes sense.

I ask her one more time if there is anything she would like me to know about her. She says, "I am of the Moon, the Sun, and the Sea."

Then I ask if it would be all right with her if I shared this conversation with others, particularly in writing (by which I mean here). She says, "Of course."

I thank her, then, and take my leave of her.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Flying Ointment

Well I made (and have since tried) my first flying ointment. It's made with honeysuckle, and I wish I could find where I got the idea from now, because it's not mine. I thought I read a post on one of the other hedgewitchy blogs, in fact I could have sworn it was Juniper's, but now I can't find the post. I remember the author saying she picked it and got a little dizzy from the scent and thought (more or less) Oh yes this will work. I'd really like to credit the person I got the idea from. [Edited to add: it was Scylla, on her tumblr, which is why I couldn't find it on a blog.]

It was actually my first try at making an ointment of any sort. It wasn't too hard (though I made more than I'll probably ever use); just a cereal bowl full (basically till I got sick of picking them) of honeysuckle flowers, simmered in a cup of grapeseed oil for about an hour, then a little more than an ounce of beeswax stirred in while still hot so it melted. It doesn't smell like honeysuckle--I may have got it too hot; it did boil a little here and there, and the essential oils may have flashed off--but it's still pleasant, having the beeswax in there.

And it works. Or, it works on me. I am, it should be said, really sensitive to medications or drugs of any kind--commonly if I'm going on a medication that's new to me I will break the tablets down into the tiniest crumbs, and pick the next larger crumb each day. I don't do any sort of recreational drug, or alcohol (it tastes like gasoline and either makes me fall asleep, or nauseous, or gives me a splitting headache) and so the whole idea of entheogens is way out of my league, for the most part.

But this seemed mild. Perhaps it's not a good idea to assume that, I don't know. I do remember pulling the flowers off as a child and sucking the little bit of nectar at the base, so I figured it wasn't going to be horribly poisonous or anything.

And I thought it might just give the journeys it facilitated a sweetness.

Boy was I right.

First of all, it is pretty mild, though it works, like I said, for me. It relaxes me while at the same time allowing the right part of my brain (or Soul) to focus. But it has a bit of a side effect.

It may be that spirit guide of mine, I don't know. I've had him for years, it's true, and we are old friends, and there is also I suppose I should say a good deal of love between us. One might even say, if we are talking in psychological terms (which I do think is one valid way to approach this, as, after all, I experience all this through my psyche or Soul) that he is very heavily connected to the libido.

So, the stuff works, oh yes. I can See quite clearly on it. But we inevitably get, well, a mite distracted.

Anyone out there know if honeysuckle is an aphrodisiac? Nothing I've found mentions it.

Oh my.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Greater Celandine

I have been carrying a sachet of greater celandine with me for the last couple of months; well, a little pouch, actually, as I knew I'd need to carry it around with me for some time. And so, every day, once when I get dressed, and again when I go to bed and leave the pouch on my altar, and then every third day also when I replace the old herb with fresh, I have said, out loud:

Greater celandine, grant me protection, joy, cheer and the lifting of depression, victory over my enemies, and escape from imprisonment. Thank you.

Because that is what I learned about greater celandine, Chelidonium majus, in the three books on herbs I have in my library so far (I am new to this, mind you). Those books being Paul Beyerl's A Compendium of Herbal Magick (oh the K, honestly; I may start spelling it Krowley out of spite), A.J. Drew's A Wiccan Formulary and Herbal, not that I'm Wiccan, and although it's really pretty much derivative of the last one, that old standard, Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs.

Since the beginning of the year I have also been following along with the year-and-a-day lessons in Christopher Penczak's The Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft, because, although I've been doing a lot of what's in there already, it seemed a good idea to at least try it using a proper system, even if it was someone else's, and even if I only learn the rules to later throw them out (much as one must do as an artist).

So I've been doing those two things, learning about herbs and learning how to talk to all kinds of things I would not have thought had Voices; well, not that I didn't know a bit about journeying anyway, or I wouldn't, I suppose, have been so interested in the book in the first place.

Because I have this spirit guide, psychopomp, guardian angel, Muse, daimon, genius, ghost, guest, lover, spirit husband, I don't know what you call him, but mainly Beloved; and he, he, is an old, old, friend, present and trustworthy. I suppose I have honed my Sight through talking to him; nothing like being in love to motivate you. It's more than ten years now since I first finally figured out how to listen to him; I wear a ring, a silver wedding band, as indication of our marriage, as does he.

And no, this is not secret, though private. But there is no way, simply no way, I am going to be able to talk about shamanic, well, shamanish journeying without talking about him, and rather a lot.

But anyhow. I am aware that part of learning about herbs in this hedgewitchy way should properly involve sitting down and talking to them, if possible; and while I wanted to try it it didn't seem to be happening. For one, I find it really hard to meditate, and so journey, outside; there are too many distractions, too much noise, too much light, and I never feel quite safe out there with my eyes closed. And I'm the type who needs to feel reasonably safe, for good reason.

So I kind of didn't know where to start. But miracle of miracles, the other night I had an idea to try a new technique for art; and so I found myself outside sketching greater celandine to give the idea a try. I brought some inside, too, to serve as further model. That's the art at the top of the post. I'm not sure the technique panned out, though that doesn't really matter.

Because as I was doing it I found that I knew I was now ready to go 'talk' to greater celandine. When you draw or paint something, you really look at it, really see it; you give it this focus, this attention, this awareness. This offering.

So tonight I did what I do to get into trance, and found myself at the base of the World Tree, as usual, which imagery I got from Penczak's book, though I understand it is common. Its trunk is big and fat, yellowish like elm, or willow; the branches are low and nearly horizontal, the leaves pointed ovals like beech. It's not quite my imagery--I usually go out to wherever I'm going through the attic--but it's working for now.

And he is there, of course. You should see him; I always say that, but I wish someone else could, I really do. Today he's just in blue jeans, of all things, and a green stripey short-sleeved shirt like a boy's that's been sized up; suits him, in this guise. Dark hair a halo of waves and curls, parted on the side, and big dark eyes in a face that is really very ordinary, and really very beautiful. He smiles, open-mouthed and kind, at that description. Well, it's true.

"What would you like to do?" he asks.

I look at him and smile myself. He is old, and new, always.

"I would like to talk with greater celandine, if that's all right."

"Okay," he says with a little shrug, "this way."

He leads me over to the right of the Tree to a stone wall; this is not going to be a journey up or down, but right here, beside. That makes sense to me, though I've heard others (well, Penczak mostly) say that plant spirits or devas or whatever they are called are found in the (or an) Upper World. To me, though, plants are rooted. They're here, in the earth, this middle place. Why would they be up in "heaven"?

There are a few steps in the stone wall, down into an herb garden with brick paths, a circle inside a square and don't tell me that's not a Jungian archetype; and there, in the garden proper, grown on purpose, and not just a weed, in a place of honor, is a greater celandine plant.

So I sit on the bricks with him, and say hello to the plant; then I ask if it would like to talk.

I feel a warmth from it; I guess that is a yes.

I tell it then that I have made a painting of it and that I hope it finds it pleasing.

More warmth. Okay.

So I know what is said about greater celandine; but I don't know why it is said. That's what I'm curious about.

I should say I guess that greater celandine grows all over my yard, my poor former junkyard of a yard. It has always been here, in some quantity; when we were kids we'd pick stems and write with them, the yellow sap like ink. I know it by sight and feel and smell, though it was so common to me that I only in the last year learned its name. We are not necessarily old friends, I would say; but we are, I think, familiar with each other. And lately, since I've woken up to the idea of plants having spirits, I get the feeling it has been trying to get me to notice it all this time. And so when I read that it helps one escape from imprisonment that clicked, as I work my way through coming to terms, and getting beyond, a nasty childhood that really amounts to unlearning a couple decades of, well, brainwashing.

I guess I should start with the basics. "They say you are an herb of the Sun. What does that mean?"

And then it says, more or less, really it's more the feel of it than any words, All plants are of the Sun. We eat sunlight; we make sunlight into food.

Oh. That's true. That is a miracle, when you think about it.

More warmth, again, and a feeling of, well, pride. Interesting.

And then I think: plants breathe in carbon dioxide, and breathe out oxygen, the opposite of us animals. I have heard that it is proper, when harvesting a plant, to give it something in return. Traditionally, things like wine, tobacco, even hair are offered; but some of those, like the wine, aren't really going to do a plant any good and may be poison, in effect. Penczak does say, and I agree with him, that he feels it's better to offer a plant something it can use, like water. So I wonder if breath might work, as an offering: both for the carbon dioxide, and because breath is spirit, too, the life force in some ways (to expire is to die, to breathe out for the last time).

I breathe on the greater celandine plant. If a plant can be said to sigh with relaxed pleasure, this one just did. Well then.

"How are you specifically of the Sun?" I ask it then.

Sunlight runs in my veins, it says.

Ah. With some plants with dark flowers, like purple roses, you can see the pigment throughout the plant, under the green skin of it, in the stems and the leaves, too. With greater celandine you can see the yellow sap in it; the leaves are a very bright color, both green and yellow at the same time, overlaid upon themselves. The whole plant is suffused with that sunshine yellow.

"How do you bring protection?" I ask next.

Sunshine keeps away the dark, it says.

"Joy and cheer?"

Sunshine runs through my veins, it says again.

"I don't understand," I say. "How does that help?"

By putting the idea in your head, it says. Oh, like a drug in the bloodstream, reaching every area, every cell through the capillaries; that is a good metaphor to meditate on.

"Victory over enemies?"

By adding up many small victories to make larger ones.

I am confused by this a little; then I remember that the seeds of greater celandine have a chemical on them that attracts ants, who then take the seeds and distribute them.

"Escape from unwarranted imprisonment? Why 'unwarranted'?"

Sunshine has an affinity with justice, it says. Oh, yes: sunshine is the best disinfectant, we shine the light of day on injustice, the Sun, Helios, sees all.

"Escape?" I ask again.

Invasive plants know how to escape; we are moved from our homeland and learn to thrive in a new place, and then make that our homeland. That's true, that's the word they use: plants 'escape' cultivation and the garden when they learn to grow as wild in a new environment.

I nod, and thank the plant, having run out of questions for now. I could probably come up with some more, but I don't want to pry; that will do.

I breathe in then, thinking of blessings; then I breathe out, again, on the plant, and I feel it is pleased.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memory Tea

So. Another thing abused kids learn is that their own memories can't be trusted. After all, when your parents do something awful and then say that no such thing happened, or you misunderstood, or (my favorite) you're just too sensitive, it does stuff to a kid's mind. It's called gaslighting, is the official term; it means deliberately playing with someone's perception so they don't know what to believe. It is lying, of course, as well as, for real, a type of brainwashing.

I am coming to realize, more and more, that my parents' denial of the rotten conditions here, especially the way my mother frames things (she is never at fault, even when she very obviously is; she is a narcissist and so completely, appallingly allergic to responsibility), has done a number on my mind and my memories. I had always just thought I had a lousy memory; now I am realizing that that lousy memory has been deliberately trained into me. I have little sense of the surety of my own memories, and if someone remembers differently well then they must be right.

This rather bothers me, as you may imagine.

So, today then, on Memorial Day here in the US, the Day of Memory, I made this up.

It's a tea, the ingredients of which are all said to be good for the memory; mainly I sat down with a couple of herb books and looked at the lore, then picked out the ingredients I had, and then further narrowed it down to what I thought might taste decent. This is what I came up with:

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh lemon balm leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh lavender leaves, chopped (I would have used the flowers but they aren't in bloom yet)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon dill seed

Put the seeds and the cinnamon in a mortar and grind it roughly (you just want to break them apart, not pulverize into a fine powder). Wrap all the ingredients up in a square of clean cotton, tie it off and pour boiling water over it. Let it steep for a few minutes and sweeten with honey to taste.

That was my first guess at proportions and it worked so well I think I'll keep it. No one flavor dominates, though the cinnamon gives it a good warm base. I couldn't really taste them as separate flavors, but the rosemary gives it a good broadness that balances well with the sharpness of the lemon balm. It was quite nice, even though I don't usually drink tea, and it was quite calming (probably the lavender had something to do with that): I had been having a really aggravating day, a lot of little things driving me up the wall, but after drinking this I felt much better.

After I'd got the ingredients ground or chopped, I put it all in a bowl, and then, and this is the magicy part, ran my fingers through it to mix it (it smelled really nice), charging it with the ability to improve and strengthen memory and to remember the truth with certainty.

Next Step

So. Part of the reason I started this blog was to have a place to gather up my forays into the world of the hedgewitch. But it is taking me a little while to sort out how much I want to say.

Because I want to talk about all of it. That is my nature. But I get the feeling for some reason that I'm supposed to be secretive about all this, like Witches don't tell their secrets or something, and we all know how to read between the lines. Yes, well, reading between the lines is something I've always been total crap at.

There are reasons for that. The first may just be me: I am an ISFP on those tests, after all, and we really do just want stuff on the up and up, dammit. The other reason, and one which has probably influenced those letters above, is that I was an abused and neglected child.

Abused children learn pretty quickly that secrets are harmful: after all, we are told things like Don't tell anyone I hit you, or Don't tell anyone we don't have hot water, or Don't let anyone know there's no food, always, always with a helping of shame, guilt, and fear (You'll be in big trouble if you tell! We're poor and that's your fault!) So we learn, I have learned, that secrets usually benefit those who abuse power in some way.

And while I don't, really, want to have to include all that abuse stuff at this place, I don't, really, think I can avoid it: after all, it is the main reason I find myself turning down a path that looks to be decidedly crookeder than the one I've always thought I should be on. And so I don't think they can be separated, though I have lots of other places to talk, or vent, about it.

Coming to terms with, and trying to work your way through, having been abused will change your morals. Before I realized my childhood did classify as such, sure, I bought into the whole Do No Harm, have compassion for all &c stuff. But the more I look at the behavior of my parents, and my sister, the only other close relative I have, and see that they both cannot and do not want to ever change, the more I realize that in those circumstances fighting dirty is the only thing that will work at all.

And so here I am. And here I am still not sure just how I want to use this blog, though I know I want, very much so, to use it, and use it well. But I feel I should know more about this before I do.

Which is ridiculous; how else am I going to learn? So, I'll just write. I'll let it all come out, and we'll see how it, and I, evolve. I may very well look back on this in a few years and laugh. Ah well, a sense of humor is essential.

The House of Fiori

In my dream last night was a woman; she was dressed in a heavy gown of dark brocade, embroidered all over in metallic threads, gold, silver, copper, and other colors. Her hair was nearly as heavy as her gown; and she sat there, queenly, royal, though she was not on a throne.

She said, 'I am of the House of Fiori, and we will help you.'

I woke then, my brain already translating, Fiori, Flora, the flowers, the plants.

I think it is a good omen.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Garden Natterings

Been working on several more herb posts; mostly, though, I've been outside working in the garden, the formal one out back which is terribly overgrown, since due to a kitten explosion taking all my energy the poor thing was pretty much abandoned last year. The only thing I did plant, a pair of containers of sweet peas and convolvulus (with bamboo pyramids), was abruptly ripped up by my mother the first week of September, a good month and a half before the first frost, with no warning, no explanation, and no mention, even, after the fact, like she expected me to think it just disappeared. Or it had never existed, maybe?

So I've been out getting my hands dirty, mother or no; and I've been putting in some new plants, here and there. I have planted the little violas, heartsease, as they're called, which love to cross-pollinate and then self-seed in that garden, leading to all kinds of interesting new colors (though they do eventually tend to revert to the johnny-jump-up form); and yesterday I got some snapdragons, which, so the reference books say, are good for turning curses back on the one(s) who sent them.

And I bought some monkshood, also known as wolfsbane, with its poisonous root; I was looking for delphinium, which I love and which thrive, the first year anyway, but that was what I found, and I'll not complain.

So I've been researching, and thinking, and wondering; I took a drive yesterday to an herb farm that's a bit out of the way looking for agrimony, which they didn't have. And today I found myself standing out there, in the rain, looking at it all, figuring out what was next. And I thought: I'm officially obsessed with gardening again, like I had been several years back. And that's okay.

I've downloaded a pdf (damned things) of Culpeper's Herbal, that work from the 17th century by the guy over there on the right, Nicholas Culpeper. It's a rotten format, a book on the computer; and the urge has crossed my mind, more than once, to make my own version, hand-lettering the entries in calligraphy, painting pictures of the plants myself and tipping them in, and binding the whole thing up in say green leather. I could do it, with a little bit of research on bookbinding; and I could do it up like a grimoire, almost. It should, I think, be treated like that, with the respect it deserves. And I would certainly learn about herbs. It would take a long time to make, though, and be quite a commitment.

It's tempting, though.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Herb Musings

So, this new hedgewitchy blog is the perfect place to continue writing about herbs, something I'm only finally getting into as a Witch, even though I've been a gardener for years. I know, I know, some of us are late bloomers.

The subject of herbs being a very large one (it's basically all the plants on Earth, you know?) I've decided to start, as I said at the other place, with what I see in my own yard and neighborhood. And because I am a beginner, these are for the most part going to be, well, book reports. It kind of can't be helped. I do not, at this time, have enough experience to be able to say what I have learned myself through use, or through communicating with the plants themselves.

I find I am also having rather a difficult time with that last bit, right now, and not because I don't have experience with visions or journeying, because I do oh ho trust me I do; but because I'm not used to doing it outdoors, which seems to me the appropriate way to go about things if I'm looking to talk with a plant that is outside. I am a very visual person; and I have found, so far, that even just trying to meditate out in the outside world, with the sunshine, and the noise, and the cars going by, is very difficult, even with my eyes closed, though I don't tend to feel safe without them open, and I'm sure that doesn't help. I'm not sure what to do. I know there are such things as walking meditations; I thought I might look that up, see if there were any ideas there that might help. I suppose I could, if it came to it, just sit up in the attic in the dark, in that safe and private place, like I am used to, and extend my feelers out to the yard. Maybe that would work; I don't know. It seems kind of, well, armchair-y, if you know what I mean.

But for now I'll start with the book-learning.

Monday, April 30, 2012


H is for Hedge

So let's talk about hedges, in the context of hedgewitchery (if that's a word). The hedge, of the English type, being the border between the cultivated, civilized land, and the forest, the wildwood. And so a metaphor for the Veil, the barrier between this world and the Other, that which is crossed on a journey of a shamanic type.

Except I don't live in England. I live in New England. We don't have hedges like that, old thorny hedgerows planted as living fences, to mark boundaries, keep the sheep in, and provide home for hedgehogs; what we have here are stone walls. Old, tumbled-down, New England fieldstone walls, more than a few of which date to colonial times, though of course it is simple enough to build new ones (and I've built a few myself). They, too, mark the boundary, in many cases, between the cultivated field (or mown lawn) and the woods; and they, too, are a haven for wildlife and wild plants, especially in my yard blackberry brambles.

Three sides of my property are marked by fieldstone walls, dating to who-knows-when; the house itself, a colonial probably circa 1745, has a fieldstone foundation. And six fireplaces, though I don't mean to brag; but it's a lucky, lucky house for a Witch, and I know it.

Old fieldstone walls criss-cross the woods around here, woods that were once fields but have since been reclaimed by forest; driving around, especially in the winter when the leaves are off the trees, one can see the old property lines, the old boundaries now lost, the walls now little more than piles of rocks more or less in a line.

I have not tried, so far, to imagine or See the barrier crossed in a journey as a fieldstone wall. But it is a good metaphor, a local metaphor, one that speaks of this land, this very specific place, this bit of Earth I tend, my home; and so I wonder if I might picture it so. I would think it would be profoundly centering and grounding, and root me here. I shall have to give it a try.

I Is For Initiation

I should warn you, I suppose: my opinions can be pretty strong. That is one of the reasons I founded this new blog.

I joined the Pagan Blog Project back in January, and have been following along on that my public blog; but I got to a point where the stuff I want to talk about wasn't right for that place. I want to talk about darker, angrier, rootier stuff; also I really need to be able to swear like a fucking pirate, which just wasn't appropriate there, or maybe didn't feel appropriate there. So many restrictions there, ones that I placed upon myself, and don't now know how to find my way out of. But I will have freedom.

So I thought I would continue the posts over here, mostly. So here is my opinion on initiation.

I don't like it. It squicks me right the fuck out, as a matter of fact.

I mean, fair enough, I'm not a joiner; a hermit and artist and ISFP where the I (introverted tendencies) consistently pins out at ninety-eight (sometimes literally one hundred) percent can hardly be expected to be; but it's not just that. I am a feminist, also, and a radical one at that (radical meaning 'root', and yes, it's related to 'radish'), and so, I understand that consent is sacrosanct.

Part of that of course is having a pair of personality-disordered parents; my mother being somewhere on the spectrum for narcissistic personality disorder, and my father pinned way into the red for obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. The both of them, pretty much, in their own separately fucked-up ways, have little concept that the rest of the world is not part of themselves; and so there wasn't really much hope that they understood proper boundaries. And consent, true consent, must be built on a foundation of strong boundaries. Because consent must include being able to freely say no.

And that's the thing with initiation. Besides the fact that I simply can't shake the feeling of it being just a form of hazing, of doing something unpleasant and frankly bullying to someone to make them part of a club, which they then perpetuate by inflicting on new members, it goes against consent. Because if you can't tell me what you are going to do to me, then I cannot consent to it. It is that simple.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

First Step

So here I am, starting my sixth blog. This one, however, I'm doing (semi-) anonymously. I am dying to be able to talk about this sort of thing, the witchy, the liminal, the well, if not shamanic, shamanish; but my public blog, the one with my real legal name on it, the one that goes with my professional Goddess art site, does not quite feel safe. And I have to feel safe, I do, having a background of abuse and neglect. I can't have my family (I use that term strictly in the biological sense) finding it. I'm already nervous enough having shared my experiences with my daimon, my him as I imagine I will simply call him here too, on that public blog. I am, at forty-three, only now starting to work out what that abuse I experienced as a child has done to me, though I know it's nasty. And since I am not yet at a place where I can just say of my family fuck 'em, anonymity (semi- or otherwise) seems a good thing.

So here I am Hazel, a name I've known for years would be my crone-name, though, again, I'm only forty-three. But I'm in the process of a change, a big one, and I've often joked, mostly seriously, that I feel as if I'm going straight from maiden to crone. It's also a nice plant-ish name, and one thing I've finally started getting into is the witchy side of herbs, though I've been a gardener for years.

This blog, then, will be about exploring the path of the hedgewitch, for me. It will be a place for me to think out loud, though, really, that's all a blog ever really is; and I should say straight up front that I am no expert. I am mostly at the beginning of this path. It is calling me, I guess, or, rather, has been calling me; by the time I stumbled upon the word, and started reading about the practice, it was less a feeling of Oh wouldn't that be wonderful and interesting! and more Holy shit there's a name for what I've been doing?

I suppose then that I should define the term hedgewitch. I am using it to mean witchcraft with a traditional bent and a strong shamanic element, meaning, part of the practice involves trancework and communing with spirits, and which therefore, is basically animist. Some define the practice as primarily concerned with herbs and the Green, as a subset of the sort of green witch path; while that is a part of it, certainly, in my mind it is darker and thornier, more bone-deep, blood and black earth and the scream of the rabbit as the fox kills it to live.

I mean, that may be high talk; I don't imagine I am going to grow out of being a coward any time soon. But this world deserves my open eyes, I think.

And so I will look, and See what I can.