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Drawing from Ether to Substance

  A journey of body and spirit begins long before the first steps on solid ground. I had dreamed the journey, I had cast spells for the journey, I had journaled my wish for the journey and set my intention to draw this journey out of the ether and into the world of substance. I began to weave the magickal and the mundane in preparation for those steps. My search engines and YouTube became dedicated tools as much as all my notes and books and magickal workings. In retrospect, I chuckle at some… for instance I became a frequent viewer of the very dated but very helpful You Tube series, “Speaking our Language…Learn Scottish Gaelic.” I chuckle a bit as I remember caring for my toddler grandson and rattling off “Ciamar a tha sibh? Tha gu math, tapadh leat.” Spoiler alert…I did not succeed in learning the language, but I did use that phrase a few times…especially the tapadh leat, which means thank you.

     Having been to the United Kingdom before I listed areas that called to me to return. I compiled information on ley lines, sacred sites and especially places meaningful to me. I am a Vermonter and rugged landscapes with rock outcroppings always make my heart soar. I knew I wanted to walk in the Highlands as I had done years before. I wanted to feel the cold winds that carry the cold rains, I wanted to breathe sweet air and sink my feet into the dark Highland mud. I debated just getting off the plane with no plan verses having an itinerary with dots laid out on a map. I opted for drawing only broad brush strokes and coloring in lots of flexibility. Once that decision was made I made my first purchases: Guide Books, Rick Steves’ Guide Books for Scotland, Great Britain and Wales; Lonely Planet guide book for Scotland and the Rough Guide book for Scotland.

     I have always opted for travelling light, whether an overnight jaunt or a month of travel. This has been somewhat of a challenge for me because often times in my ritual and teaching life, lugging heavy baskets and multiple items is the rule rather than the exception. I am convinced, however, that to travel via plane for any amount of time is to travel light, and that was especially true for this journey. I have learned that back packs work better for me than any size suitcase on wheels. When a suitcase has wheels it seduces me into believing that adding an item or two to the mix does not matter…usually those items are best left at home. The goal was not to check my luggage, to be able to carry it on my back for extended distances and periods of time, and also to be able to comfortably lift it into the overhead compartments of planes, trains and buses. For me, that meant that the pack had to weigh no more than 16 pounds and be able to fit in most of those compartments. I have climbed enough stairs in train stations and B and Bs to learn that carrying something on your back is easier than tugging something up a staircase, heavy and sighing with every stair. I have also witnessed my share of tourists who struggle to get luggage on and off the trains or wait in long lines for the elevators while the stairs are just a hop away. So, I did treat myself to a new Rick Steves Classic Back Door bag… the basic one, not the convertible one. The convertible one expands and I knew I would have a difficult time convincing myself not to tuck some other items into that compartment. That being said my bag is 21’X14”X9” and weighs less than two pounds. It does not taper like many packs and it’s squared off design is more easily organized. This trip I also planned to use packing cubes to keep everything in order and to eliminate packing and unpacking and packing again at every stop.

     This trip presented some additional challenges for light packing. I was travelling in the Highlands where temperatures would still be in the 40s, but I would be there for an extended period of time, plus I might spend some time in England, so there was a chance I would experience much warmer temperatures. An on line search produces numerous resources and advice on light packing. I found a video on line produced by Rick Steves featuring Sarah Mudoch. Sarah is one of the Steves tour guides. She had just returned from a trip to Italy, so not only did the video show how and what to pack, but it was based on the pack she had brought to Italy. The video was so helpful that I subscribed to her blog: Adventures with Sarah.net. Not only was it informative and entertaining, but she was quick to answer emails regarding my particular dilemma. And Sarah is really hard core on packing light.

     In order to help anchor the journey in substance, my first tether would be my airline ticket. I quickly discovered that flights from Tampa to London were considerably more convenient and less expensive than flights from Tampa to Edinburgh. Since I planned to purchase a British Rail pass to ensure flexibility as well as savings, flying to London seemed the best plan….it did however, cast part of my journey in stone…the beginning and the end. London, not Edinburgh; England not Scotland. Regardless of the free flow of travel, I enjoy the security of having reservations for my first and last nights of my journey. After a night flight from Tampa, I wanted to have an easy and comfortable, but still interesting place for a night or two to regroup and recover. There was York staring up from the map in bold letters.  I am not sure what I love about York, but I had fond memories of my last trip, so without further deliberation, I booked two nights at the Arnot House. The Arnot House is within walking distance from the train station and just around the corner from the City Wall. Perfect, fly into Gatwick, navigate passport control, train to King’s Cross, hop a second train to York. Sigh of relief.

  The need to decide on the last night of my journey forced me to make a major decision about where to spend both my birthday and MidSummer. My initial plan was to be at the standing stones in Lewis or at Tigh na Cailleach in Glen Lyon or even on Ben Nevis, but now that would not work because I needed to be near Heathrow for my return flight on June 22. A few years ago I had thought about MidSummer at Stonehenge, but that no longer called to me.  Much to my surprise messages popped up everywhere…random thoughts, random images. During one of my walks I was playing an album by Kellianna. “Mists of Avalon.” Okay, Goddess, I get it…Glastonbury. I would spend both my birthday and MidSummer there before heading to London and Heathrow. I had to make reservations because it would be three, maybe four nights. Synchronisity…a pagan themed B and B. The name? The Covenstead, the room? Hedgewitch. Sometimes the Goddess changes your plans, sometimes they are different, but prove to be infinitely more magickal.      

    

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The Journey Continues

    Sometimes the Goddess challenges our resolve with distractions. We hear this inner voice of inspiration, purposeful possibilities, numerous threads of future action, then as the weaving begins, as the warp appears set, the distractions begin, the tension seems amiss. Like some witches, I have struggled to balance the magickal and the mundane only to discover that it is the arbitrary boundary I have created between the two that is the tension, that creates the problem. There is no boundary, it is our intentions about our magickal life that heightens our awareness and permits the magickal to shimmer through all that seemed mundane.

     It has been almost three years now since I sold my hillside farm, bid a gentle farewell to the woodland spirits, meadow elves and water sprites to return to urban living. The difficult choices of a crone was eased by the loving embrace of children, grandchildren, old friends and a beloved spiritual family. Here I discovered the water witch within my soul and the promises of footsteps yet to come. Sun in Gemini, Moon in Cancer, Leo rising, no longer the  Priestess, time to embrace the Crone…but how…where is the next step?High

      On this morning, I ask myself, “Why do this at all?” Why as I struggled to anticipate the next step in my 69th and 70th year did I create a web site, attach a store and embark on this strange journey? More importantly, why, as I begin my 71st year have I intensified my commitment to continue? The answers spill out in a series of heartbeats…I love this Goddess path with every fiber of my being, and I love to write…surely at this crossroads, it is time for one to give voice to the other such that others may hear. Another answer to my question also emerges, a crone at 60 dances the power dance around the fire, creates magick at the altars of the Forest and the Mountain top, but who is this crone at 70? I had to discover her, own her, love her and share her, believing that in some small way this sharing will be seen by just the right person at just the right time and that sharing will inspire her or his journey forward as well.

      As I anticipated my 70th birthday,I was determined that my 70th  would be both a remarkable celebration and a life altering experience. I love birthday parties, balloons, friends, ice cream, and especially birthday cakes, but not this time, I wanted this to be a time of a personal journey, my Cailleach journey, and for me, that meant Scotland. I set my intention with a wee bit of reservation, but as so often happens when you set your foot on a true path, the Goddess gave me a major shove forward. A debt I had long ago written off was paid and suddenly, I had a savings account and work to do. 

     From that beginning was born this site and this blog. I wanted to write about this journey, I wanted to share it and suddenly mundane ideas became very magickal indeed. I did not embrace my crone-hood or my 60s gracefully. I colored my hair,obsessed about the lines on my face and neck, all the while agonizing over just the right anti-aging products. Somehow in all this denial, there was a light of inspiration. I started taking care of myself. Holy basil tea became a daily indulgence, I started eating a bit more healthily, I started walking and OMG, even exercising. I lamented my lack of stamina and determined to improve. There were hits and misses, times of discouragement and a few times of exuberant success. I discovered some of my patterns – I do better when I have a goal, especially a really big goal, and I need some sort of schedule. The trip to Scotland was a really big goal.

I faced some truths as a crone headed to age 70. Stamina, flexibility and strength require more effort than in younger times. Much to my chagrin I found that I was no longer able to sit cross legged for extended periods of time. (Just when did that happen?)  I needed to be able to carry my backpack and walk a minimum of 5 miles a day – that would take some effort…and then, there was that face in the mirror, no longer the face of youth, but rather the face of experience and a journey well traveled. Coloring my hair did not change that face no matter how I tried to convince myself otherwise. Nor was the secret to that face found at a cosmetic counter…two major changes emerged…. the first was to cut my hair short, really short, for me painfully short, and to permit the locks of the crone to sprout forth. The second was to put aside the false promises  of anti-aging creams and instead to find a healthy skin regime that worked for me. In Vermont, I had attended several Women’s Herbal Conferences sponsored by Sage Mountain and they had become the building blocks for my own herbal work. I returned to that knowledge and now that I was no longer working full time, there was space to create my own skin and hair products, to conjure my own magick while dancing between the worlds in their creation. The bath fizzies on this site are a function of that magick and there will be more to come.

 My journey has had some interesting twists and turns, such is the stuff of magick. Each week I will post and invite you to share that journey with me…. Next time, how i planned and how I prepared…Blessed be.

 

 

 

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New Moon in Aquarius….Time of Imbolc

Today begins the time of the New Moon. The powerful inspirations for the New Moon cycle are released as Mercury finally is moving forward again. In my work with students, I have emphasized Moon Cycles and Solar Cycles and how they interact. I find the Waxing Moon in the Waxing year to be especially powerful for magickal workings. Intent becomes substance and the seeds for the year are especially potent.

Aquarius is the innovator, the progressive, the curious one, how does this work? How can this be made better? A New Moon in Aquarius is especially inviting for me. During my New Moon ritual, I asked a question, “What am I missing?” Being a New Moon child I find the New Moon closest to Imbolc is especially important for me…one of those times when ideas are everywhere and intent brims with overflowing … and sometimes…often times….unrealistic possibilities.  Time to consult the tarot cards, what is missing? I use a deck by Poppy Palin, Stories of the Wild Spirit,  The image on this page is the card I drew during my ritual. The Five of Earth, the Cauldron. I am wise woman and crone, I have conjured quite a brew in my cauldron and now in this new time I am challenged to improve the mixture….a dash of common sense, a dollop of creativity, a huge ladle of inspiration and many splashes of new knowledge.

The New Moon illuminates my path of spiritual, mental and physical action…a dance between both worlds…it also illuminates my path of political action. I have seen the activism of Starhawk both revered and reviled, I have seen other teachers criticized on line for taking political stances. I believe as a witch I cannot be silent….the Face of the Goddess is the face of all the Earth…and we are Her children. 

What was I missing? The strength of the brew….yes, there are ways for me to improve my personal brew, but there is more is there not? When I owned Mugwort and Malachite, I was privileged to host a workshop by Kellianna. I then attended the Women’s’ Herbal gathering hosted by Sage Mountain….Kellianna was there with drum and chants, one reverberates today…..and remember, we only have power if we claim it, if we use it….

We are a people at the full height of our power, now is the time and now is the hour. We recognize our sacred birth, we have the power to transform the earth.

 

 

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New Moon Beginnings…

The New Moon in Capricorn…I started the morning with journal on my lap and hot coffee in my cup…and then began to dream and wander. Gemini woman born under the New Moon…I am prone to dream and wander. Follow through is my challenge but not my excuse…I use a tarot deck by Poppy Palin and this morning I decided to draw one card in honor of the New Moon…. I drew the Ace of Earth, the Seed. A New Moon in an Earth Sign and I draw the Seed. 

I try to walk regularly and since I live in an urban landscape, the RiverWalk holds a special attraction for me. On one segment of the RiverWalk there is a large labyrinth. I walk the labyrinth at Solstice and Equinox and at other times when She calls to me but today I walked swiftly by to the rhythms of Emerald Rose. Still pondering my tarot card and the New Moon possibilities on my return path, I suddenly realized the music had transformed to some selections from Ruth Barrett’s  album, The Year is A Dancing Woman. The Pentagram song ended and the shuffle of the selections conjured her song, Labyrinth…I looked up….guess where I was? You got it, I got it, I get it… the words to the song, my steps on the Labyrinth, the questions in the center, deep in my center, the answers I finally permitted myself to hear.

At the beginning of my personal Solar year, I asked a dear friend to do a reading for me, a card for each month. A twelve month spread that contained five…count them…five major arcana cards. Oh, dear Goddess, this is going to be a year! The card for December is one of the five. The card in her Osha Zen deck was XV Conditioning, in my deck it is XV the Fiddler…different cards, subtle variations but reverberating message…I had not paid much attention to that card throughout the month, but today in the light of the New Moon, the pieces fit together and I knew that Fiddler, the Labyrinth, Ruth Barrett, the Ace of Earth were messages and guideposts to challenge me to embrace again what I had chosen, to step forward with courage, bound but unbound.

I began this blog as an exploration of the wisdom of the Crone and to share my path with others.  In my heart I have wanted to be many crones. Some were elegant and strong and beautiful, some were wild and vibrant and free, some were a little of this and a lot of that. But I am a crone, my experience of myself as crone and the wisdom of the Crone Goddess I will share with you, and I will take on the challenge of follow through as I explore wondrous possibilities. I hope you will find wondrous possibilities in your life as well.Earth Mother, I honor you. I honor the Earth Mother in all of you.

 

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Solstice Greetings…..

 The Darkest Night has past and a New Light is born. There are magickal possibilities to be grasped and intentions to be forged. Astrologer Henry Seltzer predicts a chaotic year ahead….written in the Stars and clearly visible in the World that surrounds us. A time of challenge, for us to hold firm our values and beliefs and not permit fatigue to diminish the Light we carry within. Bright blessings to you on this day. May you walk in the love and light of the Goddess. Blessed be.

 

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The Journey Within

Mabon has slipped past, and the Solstice promises a return of the Light. In the Northlands the trees  no longer display the glorious colors of the Autumn Sun, the days are short and the chill crispness in the air has turned to cold.. But I am now a witch of the Southlands where the turning of the Wheel is more subtle. There is a hint of lightness in the air, the days grow shorter but not the deliberate darkness of the Northern mountains. And yet the energy, the vision, the flow turns inward, the Dark Times of the Dark Moon intensifies as the Dark Times of the Solar Cycle urge us to turn inward. My teacher once assigned a Dark Times Journal. From Samhain to Solstice, I looked into the Dark Mirror, deep within the Darkness, then I wrote: This night I gazed into the Dark and I saw…. Like the Dark Moon, the Dark Times encourage the journey to the hidden self and to embrace the inner light, connecting to what we know, connecting to our inner truth, releasing what no longer serves, and fueling that flame of Truth.  

The Dark Times are the time of the Crone…She who holds the wisdom of Her blood within. She tends the cauldron, She who holds the secrets of the cave, She who weaves the web of the universal forces…I begin these writings to honor the Crone, to speak of Her journey,  I was never sure where it would lead, but only that I was putting one foot in front of the other and following my heart.

My Croning was a celebration of Life and of my Path, It was joyous and full of love and possibilities. It was a transition but I was dedicated to Brigid, I did not see the Crone nor face her power. On the night of my Third Degree ritual, my teacher painted lines on my face, I had seen and embraced the face of the Cailleach…or so I thought until that night. Lined face I carried Her heavy stones, finally dropping them one by one as I approached the ritual circle.  That night, within that Sacred Space, I saw Her face, I heard Her call and Her voice was my own.

The face in the mirror now is definitely crone, the lines are no longer painted, they are earned, and so I write of my journey in these troubled times.  I have many role models, many who have gone before, many who walk with me now, many who will come after….witches all. Starhawk is protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline…she is witch, activist, crone… I see her face and I remember how long she has traveled this journey for the Mother,how strong her voice has been, how it continues to strengthen in the face of adversity.  We are people of power too long silent. Each of us can make a difference, As I continue my journey within I embrace the light of my next step…I encourage you to do the same, even if it is but a candle with a prayer for Peace placed upon your altar. Hold my hand, we walk together.N

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Witch Whispers and the Crone

      There is something so delicious about New Moon energy. Subtle, diffusive, elusive. It is that magickal essence of dreams…there is a thought, a breath, but it has not quite yet taken shape. The New Moon is of wishes….Time to ponder possibilities. The New Moon promises new beginnings and eases past disappointments. we can refresh or simply re do. After the meditative and physical releases of the Dark Moon, the Spirits seem once again enticing us  forward into the mist.

        For me, this is the beginning of an adventure. Many months ago I shared a Dark Moon ritual with three  of my dearest friends….powerful witches, remarkable women, talented priestesses. What was hidden in our inner depths? What shadows lingered? What dreams were cast aside because we feared the light of the next step? For me, that next step was to write, to create, to use my words and my wisdom, to dare to reveal myself. I was not sure how or why or when, but on that night the message of the Dark Goddess was clear…BEGIN,  

      I was born under the sign of Gemini in the time of the New Moon, so this adventure has many possibilities indeed, tiny wisps and fibers swirling off in many wanderings..  I will weave the threads of my journey thus far and the paths of the present, there will be a bit of magick in the Cauldron, the essence of the Wynde and the promises of the store. There will be experiencing the power of the Dark Goddess, gazing upon the face of the Cailleach…travels, mystery, whimsy…  But it is still the time of the New Moon, and other winds whisper of what may be yet to come… who knows what  more will  emerge….Welcome and  Blessed be.