We are less than a month away from the Autumnal Equinox and many Pagans will be celebrating the holiday of Mabon. All of the Red Winged Blackbirds have migrated and Robins too, have left for the southern states. For some, this is a time of sadness and they see Fall as the segue between Summer and the Winter that they dread.
For me, this is my favorite season. Everything becomes quiet as Nature becomes draped in the somber, quiet shades in the crayon box. The honey hued tan of grasses and grains provide the back drop for the darker browns of bristly teasel cones and cinnamon sprays of Goldenrod. Stands of Sumac boast their crimson leaves and clusters of ripe, red berries. Birds gather to reap the bounty of seeds and fruit and Squirrels dart about with acorns and hickory nuts. Chipmunks with cheek pouches stuffed to capacity find a safe place to store their Winter’s provisions. My garden crocs in the garage will serve quite nicely as I soon discover when Spring arrives and I find them filled with shelled corn.
But, then there is the myst. As light begins to unravel the tapestry of darkness and the voice within interrupts my last stage of sleep, I hear it. A whisper at first, tempting the ease with which I can ignore it. This is not to be. More persistent with problematic volume, it gets me up…and out.
For to follow it and seek its origin, it requires that I dress quickly and silently as to disturb no one. The journey is one that must be embarked upon without the hampering knowledge of my husband who may ask where I am going and tell me I’m crazy. The polite term is ‘impulsive’ or the glorious, rebellious label of ‘impetuous’. I’m all that…and a crazy-ass bag o’ tricks.
Anyway, as of yet, I don’t know…out. However, nothing gets past the Cats. They watch as the hem of my long, black skirt swishes around my ankles in anticipation of the lacing of my boots. The black suede, scuffed and worn smooth, yet I cannot bear to part with them. Astarte tugs at the laces and the battle between fingers and paws continues until I am able to tie a bow at the top. Rhiannon gives the bow a well placed swipe, but I have learned the advantage of the double bow years ago and it remains tied.
The black velvet top I have chosen might be no match for the chill of retreating night air so I reach into the foyer closet and find my long black cloak. The hood might come in handy, should the damp mist cover my hair with persistent wet kisses.
Out the door I go, keys in hand, after locking it behind me and resetting the alarm. A burglar strikes once, and you never leave your fortress trustingly unguarded again. I wait for the voice to give me direction. “This way, Katrika. Down to the park”.
The park is an open field, mowed clean of the wild things that would return to prairie grasses and blooms if they just left it alone. However, the soccer ball kicking feet that stomp and run every weekend would beat it all into submission anyway.
At the far end of the park is a small stand of trees. I’m not sure why they have not suffered the fate of the grasses and wildflowers, but I am grateful that they have been granted a pardon and have somehow been allowed to be wild in this urban sprawl. This is my ‘Secret Grove’. The voice has called me here before. I’m not sure if it lives here full time or has determined that this is the place for us to meet for the random trysts that I never initiate.
My boots are sodden as I wade through the grasses that have ducked out of the way of the mower and remain ankle deep. They bend beneath each slippery step as I look behind me to see if the evidence of my passage will tell. The hem of my skirt is drenched as well and hangs heavy at my feet. My cloak, now glistening with the droplets that cling to the soft textured fuzz of the brushed fleece would sparkle if the Sun were allowed to shine. But here, the foggy dew rules.
Visibility is clogged and thickly veiled. A parting of the myst is sudden and unexpected like the sliding glass doors of a store front that were thought to be windows. I hesitate instinctively, but that is not to be. Being drawn in is also something that I respond to without a cautious thought.
Once again, I am lead to the huge Oak that stands in the center of the grove. The urge to touch ‘him’ is never one that I can resist and I am grateful that no prying eyes can see me or even detect my dark form through the fog. A knowing floods my being as the connection is made. This opens the portal and the many, mingled voices of those long gone all call to me at once. They are welcoming, much like the humming din of entering a cocktail party after most of the guests have arrived. And, just like the party, one by one echoes a greeting.
Three Crows gather in the branches overhead and I sigh with pleasure. Crows are my signature. They are my guides and comrades and serve to lead me through the Gates of Mystery. My own voice, audible and sure, greets them as the loyal friends that they are. They speak and I know exactly what they are saying. “Listen”.
The Old Ones touch me with invisible hands, their message is to tell me of their approval and their joy. I have walked this path for 23 years and have never doubted that it was the one that correctly chose me. As I tell those who have approached me to teach them, if this path is not for you, you cannot force it. But, if it is, it will not be denied.
This knowing, this experience is one that happens as it will. The first time or two I was a bit apprehensive, but this Witch, like her brew, is now well seasoned. I am never surprised any more, yet always amazed. I hear, see, and know that which goes unnoticed. I touch and feel the life that dwells in things that are thought to have no life, yet a heartbeat thumps unhaltingly beneath my fingers. I hear snow falling and feel leaf buds forming. This is what I signed on for when I accepted the call. However, the loneliness is the one thing that I take care to emphasize with new students. It is the burden of the Witch and has the ability to crush you if you don’t find a way to make it your saving grace. Fortunately, I have.
The Sun is breaking the horizon with a slash of His fuchsia brush and I see the myst receding in compliance. My hood falls back and I feel the warmth erase the chill of being damp. It is over. For now. My footfalls retrace my steps and the taller grasses surrender to the shorn stubs of humanity as my cloak dusts them of dew.
The brass triquetra knocker looms before me at eye level and I hear ‘Margaret’ on the other side of the front door, her proper British accented voice saying, “disarmed’ at the touch of my alarm fob and I flip my key in the lock. The Cats glance at me with knowing eyes, bewhiskered mouths upturned in a sly grin. They know exactly where I went and what I was doing. You can never hide Witchery from a Cat no matter how well you might try to disguise it. It’s in their blood with the same intensity as it is in mine.
My cloak is hung in it the confines of the closet and my boots are off. Chilly fingers are soon wrapped around a large coffee cup given to me by one of MoonShadow Coven’s Sisters. It reads, “I’m A Real Witch In The Morning”…indeed.
I don’t know when the voice will call me to my sacred ‘Secret Grove’ again, nor do I lie in the darkness in anticipation. It will happen as it will. In it’s own time, when the Ancients feel my unconscious need to connect with them there. Yet, in this season of what many interpret as Summer ‘dying’, I have never felt more alive.