I was in high school when I first started reading the Tarot. I used a cheap deck- one where the Minor Arcana had barely any instructions and the guide that came with it, introduced me to spreads like the Celtic Cross and how to ask basic yes/no questions. I found the meanings rather inadequate, so I added my own and also looked up online interpretations. I was hooked, and soon enough I saved up to get my own Rider Waite and the Thoth Tarot decks.
Being a witch can get pretty expensive at times.
Sometimes, you have to think twice before choosing to buy a fancy crystal or an elaborately carved candle stand or a new prettier notebook for your grimoire. Sometimes, you may run out of witchy supplies right when you need it the most and you have to dash to the nearest thrift store or the supermarket to restock your candles, incenses and spices. Perhaps there’s a major spell you want to perform and the phase of the moon is just right- but you’re still saving up for all the ingredients. Or maybe you’re just a baby witch, recently initiated to the Craft and you’re overwhelmed by the sheer variety of tools and materials that you need.
Join me, Witch. This Beltane, I’m choosing slow-bubbling jubilance, ancestral blessings of fire and smoke, and ecstatic dirt-under-the-nails garden prayer. I’m remembering the bright bloom of the yet-to-come into being, and I’m doing it all before moonrise. Let’s paint our faces with the still-chilled mud and take to the sky-kissing hilltop where the bones of the burned are buried, and let’s dance bare-breasted by the light-of-day like they never could.
It’s up to us, you know. Let’s laugh to heal our great-grandmothers’ melancholy. Let’s work the magick out-loud the Old Ones had to work in secret. These are the days of the rising Witch, the heathen waking wild, and the crow-woman spreading her wide wings and taking flight.
How is it with your moon-sick heart, Witch? How is it with that mud-loving, wanderlusting soul you kept tucked away so carefully between your aching ribs all Winter long? Tell me, you sorceress of sweet and sad stories, what hopeful visions have you to share with me now, as this first full moon of Spring swells up under my skin and softens those unforgiving angles of belief and conviction that fan my rage-hungry flames but starve my more joyous magick? Share with me your most gracious and feather-light anecdotes, and I’ll drink from that cool-running, sweet-water river you keep flowing between your ancient, inner altar tended tirelessly by our grandmothers and the over-running wellspring of your heathen heart.
Speak truth now. This moon is pulling our secrets out from all our dark places, singing a siren song so mournful and beauteous even our bitterest demons cannot resist its lunar temptation tonight. You tell me what it means to heal from the fallen angel’s grief, and I’ll tell you what it means to be a moonstruck poetess who wants nothing more than to paint a sepia-toned world brighter with what few words she has learned from this bizarre incarnation. You teach me how to brew a homemade salve for my aching bits left dry from a long-lasting Crone season, and I’ll teach you how to hunt inside those hot and steaming caves of your flawed-to-perfection Pagan mind, how to mine those precious gems of passion and desire, anguish and melancholy, artistic courage and sure-bodied dance.
Let’s walk amongst these ancestral stones tonight, Witch. Let’s move through this perilous moonlight together and bleed all over this hallowed ground while we journey toward the warmth of the Beltane torch-fires. Let’s ask the elements teach us who we are. I’ll remember what it means to be whole as a fire-veined Priestess, and you remind me the bliss to be had within the flesh of a nectar-sipping mermaid.
Together, let’s call upon the full Storm Moon to sweep through our Craft and spring-clean the dust from our routines, from those over-dull rituals and from those altars that have for too long gone unchanged. You bid the torrential waves wash over my Witchcraft, and I’ll send some fire your way, to be sure. I need your medicine, and you need mine, my love, so let’s not be coy any longer. Let’s skip the small talk and get right to the red, bloody heart of the matter. In your eyes, I see who I might have been had my childhood left my skin unscathed, had my lovers been loyal and my courage applauded. In my eyes, you see who you might have been had your rebellion been rewarded, your vulnerable art praised, and your more timid prayers answered. Let’s see what sizzling steam arises when fire meets water now, my love, when you really see me and I really see you. Inside that hot mist encircling us both will be the cosmic language of birth and death, and we’ll both rest well tonight as wiser women warmed by my hearth and wet from your wild waters.
Welcome to the Quickening, my love. Here, we are living expressions of radical hope, blood-and-skin reliquaries for these ivory bones of ours. Beneath this full and vibrant moon, we are calling in what is ours with our very breath, and we are the living antidote to body-spirit separation. ‘Tis the season of sensual expression and embodied Craft, and the Witch’s body becomes a soft and soulful bridge between where she is and where she yearns to be. Know your longing as holy, and let’s wed our feeling flesh to our as-yet unrealized dreams.
Blessed be those who tend these mid-Winter flames, who keep the embers alight by their sheer warrior’s will, and who will forever honor the darker days of our Craft when the miracles of warmer days remain hidden beneath the snow. The Wolf-Moon cycle follows the Long Night’s Moon cycle, rising with a howl on January 16th (New Moon is 9:17pm EST), swelling to fullness just before Imbolc on 1/31 at 8:27am EST, and darkening to sliver-thin on Valentine’s Day. Under the Wolf Moon, the Fire-Keeper archetype is dominant, and the wise feminine in us all continues to walk forward in conscious grace, leading with an ever-faithful heart and harboring an ever-lit inner altar that burns for some holy and ephemeral dream, as yet unseen and unnamed.
Santa Witch: Simple Rituals for a Family Yule
We Witches live in a land starved for magick. The unfortunate union of individualism, consumerism, and the energies of the 13th Moon- the annual, lunar void that tasks us with rest and reflection above all else- has given birth to the absolute antithesis of this yearly Witching Hour. The modern Santa Claus is capitalism’s loud-mouthed answer to this holy, fertile darkness when all of nature is bidding us to turn inward, to sink back into the primordial source of all things. Despite debatably admirable roots, today’s Santa Claus is a marketing tool embodied in a bright red, well-satiated, nocturnal gift-giver who, like many of our Wintertide traditions, has traveled ages from his solemn, Pagan origins.
Allow me to get personal for a minute. I’m a single mother of two very busy, very sensitive little girls. I run a small business as well as work a full time job and another freelance job. On top of all of that, I am called to follow this path of deep devotion and let’s face it, that takes work too. Feeling drained is a constant battle. Even though I know that the more I surrender to this (insane) flow that I find myself in, the easier it will all be. Like the salmon that swims upstream, I HAVE to keep going. The more I take time… rather, MAKE time for my practice, the better I will feel. Not unlike maintaining a regular fitness routine, exercising our mind, soul and spirit has all of the advantages.
‘Tis the season to remember the holy Dead, to honor your ancestral line in somber ritual, and to give a nod to the ephemeral nature of your soft flesh and warm blood. So soon, my love, will we sink back into the source of everything, yet again stepping through the sacred veil and entering the fertile, dark space between death and birth. So soon will we join them, these precious ones for whom we mourn. For now, let us remember these wild creatures for their compassion, their lawlessness, their innocence, and the lessons they gifted us when their hearts were still beating inside the very ribcages that now house wormy soil, have turned to soot and ash, or have otherwise surrendered to the elements.
Open your palms, look moonward, and breathe in the raw, red musk of dying leaves, smoking pine wood, and ever-cool, so potent spectral mists. Know that this is what the primal feminine smells like. Embody the long-nailed and black-mirror-eyed demoness you were taught to fear during childhood. These are the days of the Great Purge, when the Witch is tasked to dig up her cobwebbed secrets and put them on unapologetic display, to befriend the very shadows that make her bones quake, to strip off and burn every mask she has ever worn, and to do it all in front of her ancestors’ ghosts as they encircle and honor the brave-hearted and strong-willed Priestess she has become. Continue reading “Blood Moon Vows: A Witch’s Unmasking Ritual”