Back And Still In Black

The inevitable questions and comments come, as they do every year at this time. Ah yes, Halloween. The time when people assume that I decorate my home with all manner of supposed spooky things, dress up as someone other than myself, put children in bubbling cauldrons and party with vampires and werewolves or some such nonsense.
Feeling the same way as I did almost 25 years ago, when I received my calling to practice the Craft, I choose to be open as opposed to deny and hide in the ‘broom closet’. I decided that it wasn’t possible to educate people from in there. So, here I am, still ‘out there’ and educating.

Things have changed over the years. Most for the better, considering how easy it is to find information about things that a person might be curious about and actually find the truth that is out there. However, there are still the misinformed, the superstitious, and those who prefer to believe lies instead of becoming knowledgeable, lest they violate some edict that came via a ‘man of the cloth’.

People who do ask the questions as to my celebrating ‘Halloween’ are usually surprised. I explain that I celebrate Samhain, the last of the three harvest holidays that Witches observe. For me, it’s more about the seasonal dark times that began at the Summer Solstice than it is about scary things, unless you find squash to be terrifying. My husband does, but he will point out a nice pumpkin when he sees one. The quest for a current crop apple continues and I scent Enchanted with cinnamon and clove and relish the icy pinch of Autumn’s fingers upon my cheek that gives me an excuse to flip the switch for an instant perfect flame and embers in the fireplace.

It also might raise an eyebrow or two to find that I consider the images of Witches that are so commonplace, to be very offensive. Green skinned, hooked nosed, toothless ‘hags’ abound and no one even imagines that real practitioners of Witchcraft might have a problem with it. Would a catholic be upset by someone dressed as a priest with an alter boy in tow? A little Hitler going door to door for candy? A KKK member carrying a noose as a prop?

Witchcraft is a Nature based spiritual path, first and foremost. The reality has nothing in common with the world of vampires, zombies and werewolves. Have fun with the fantasy if you want, but please, know the difference.

The Magick that I practice involves the focus and directing of energy. I don’t expect to light a candle with my finger or ‘make’ people do my bidding. I have been asked to put curses on ex-significant others, but that’s not my thing either. People cast spells all the time without conscious intention. Saying the words, “I wish”, “I hope” “I want”…all with an outcome in mind, are in essence, spells. Lighting a candle in church for someone, prayer circles, and the traditional making a ‘wish’ on falling stars or before showering a birthday cake, candles ablaze, with droplets of spittle in an effort to blow them out… I know you’re thinking “why did she have to go there”…did I mention, I’m psychic too.

When I see the image of that Halloween ‘witch’, all in fun, I see the victims of the trials who were tortured and murdered because someone’s admittedly jealous and vengeful deity told them to do it. Women, broken and battered until their skin was bruised and had a green appearance. Noses busted, swollen and twisted. Teeth knocked out, hair ripped from bleeding scalps, their clothes torn to shreds. Witches? No, many were widows who’s land went to the church in the event of their deaths. Practitioners of midwifery and folk medicine that worked, therefore they were suspect of having evil powers.

I can’t help but weep for those times and the victims of prefabricated crimes and yet, I am grateful that I can write this, openly and honestly. Free to meet with others of like mind in broad day light, attend Pagan events, browse for hours in metaphysical shops and answer questions like yours without fear. I wear my pentacle with pride and reverence, as you do your cross or star of David.

After the trick or treaters stop coming, the porch light is turned off, and I have saved the last KitKat bar for myself, I go to my circle in my yard. I celebrate the lives of family and friends who have crossed over, for the veil is believed to be thin on Samhain and their familiar voices may be heard.  An empty place is set at the table for them in remembrance of times when meals were shared. Called a ‘silent supper’ the meal is eaten, void of conversation to honor them, and is savored as much as the memories.

As with many things, fantasy is exciting and fun, but temporary. Don’t be afraid to explore the reality that is lasting, deep and sacred. The voice you may hear in the darkness is nothing to fear. It comes from within and will speak words of knowledge and wisdom. Listen intently and welcome it often.

Blessed Samhain, everyone.

At Last, A Winter’s Day

How wonderfully Magickal!!! Gone is the Autumn landscape that covered the land with an unseasonably tattered quilt for January. Made from cast off patches of fabric that had been carelessly strewn on Summer’s remnant table where the faded greens of persistent lawns mingled with bolts of the mottled tans of dried, spent, stems and flowers. Leaves, well past their vivid shades of glory all lay about like bronze appliques, stitched with a random, carefree hand.

Beneath the streetlight, a steady falling snow glistens on its mission to cover everything with a brand new cloak of white.  The trees receive a heavy toss of flocking, covering their black silhouettes so that they no longer stand out like the underdressed girls at the party.  Before the plows arrive and shovels meet pavement, there is nothing to define the  selvages.  The light of day will make alterations and ribbons of road and sidewalk will weave their way through the neighborhood, breaking up the continuous flow of glittering white puffs of tulle with loosely tied dark belts.

This was my wish, wasn’t it? A well woven spell, cast last weekend as I gazed out the window at the sturdy wardrobe of Fall that Mother Nature was hesitant to cast aside. A waxing Moon, and all Her power to attract, most often results in manifested desires by the time the Full Moon rises. And so, before the Wolf Moon of January hits Her stride, it has come.

The wind gusts with a zealous protest, causing the gentle earthbound tendrils to swirl ferociously. When it all settles and the landscape surrenders, some people, wrapped in their thick woolen cocoons, will cringe at the sight of it. Others will abandon their hearth fires with glee, not to return until the desire for warmth and dry clothes entices them back inside. The children who are not Nature deficient and deprived will put down their electronic gadgets and will pick up their sleds and snowboards. Receiving the minimum daily requirement of fresh air and Nature, they will have the health and wellbeing and a clear, open mind that only a dose of both can deliver. Those not so wise and fortunate will continue to take refuge in their rank, stagnant burrows and lag behind mentally and emotionally, void of creativity.

My cross-country skis have been prepared for months with a still serviceable coat of wax, eager to provide just the right amount of glide, poles and boots at the ready. There will be Bird feeders to fill and walkways to clear. Today’s dinner menu boasts a prime rib roast that my husband will prepare and watch over, ensuring that it will be perfect. I’m in charge of side dishes, and when a flavorful a jus is not created, I am known around here as, “The Gravy Queen”. An expected phone call from the dearest of friends is on the docket for this afternoon, and there is also a pile of books due back at the library tomorrow that will have me utilizing the speed reading skills I acquired in high school.

This will be a day well spent, made even more glorious by the snowy view out my window, seen with a Cat or two curled up nose to tail in my lap. Consider this post the entry in my gratitude journal, to include those whose eyes will read these words, and whose minds will bring them close to me as we share in this experience. Thank you and Bright Blessings.

Bear In Mind

Thoughts of pushing my cross-country skis through sparkling, freshly fallen snow are ingrained in my mind, but this is the only place they have resided. How was I to know that Mother Nature had other plans?

Past Winters found me housebound for the same reason. Uncooperative weather. Have I been brainwashed by those old movies that featured visions of ‘the white stuff’ twinkling as it fell from above?  My inner holiday child frolicking joyfully on a mindless course that went from lobbing orbs of the ‘stuff’ at cranial targets one minute and lacing up my skates to glide on frozen water the next?

It’s been unseasonably above zero before yesterday and whatever snow fell to the ground is long gone and is revealing lawns in various mottled shades of green and Camel, assuming that Camels only come in tan. Leaves are scattered in the yards of those of us who put our mulching mowers to task and shun the multiple rakings it takes to be void of them entirely. Yet, we’ll rejoice again when we see evidence of new ones adorning the trees when Ostara arrives. Except maybe for Dick. Dick enjoys his retirement…I guess. When our daughter and son-in-law were here for the holidays, she marveled as Dick crawled around his lawn on all fours with an empty plastic gallon ice cream bucket, handpicking any rogue leaves from his otherwise pristine field of green. She was mesmerized, while my husband and I have witnessed this on so many occasions it barely warrants a peek out the window. Interesting neighbors are fun. At least I list that as one of the reasons that we are living in an urban neighborhood instead of where I long to be most days…look on any map for ‘the middle of nowhere’ and that’s where I’d like to call ‘home’.

One of the reasons that I’d like this location is due to my love affair with privacy. The days I am out in the garden, in my own little world, only to discover pairs of eyes screwed into me as I dig and plant, in that world that is now populated by others, makes me have to make a decision. Do I carry on as if I don’t know they’re scrutinizing what I’m doing, perhaps with a critical view or do I get all self-conscious? Do they know I’ve lost my trowel for the fifth time as I try to look as if I’m just planning my borders instead of looking for it? Did they see me reach too far and fall face first into a hosta? Does my ass look big(ger) in these pants?

The other reason I’d like to live in a more rural, translated ‘removed’, area is my love of wild things. And, yes, I adore the trappings of mundane life and can strip the numbers off a credit card in a leisurely afternoon, but I am a Witch. One of Mother’s children. Her other forms of life are ‘family’ and I love to be near them.

My posts regarding the variety of these siblings will give any new reader some insight as to how much my life revolves around them. My yard is home to any of them who grace me with their presence and I’m grateful for them all. There is no distain for the Worms that I save when I dig into their habitat and carefully place them out of harms way or the Birds that rank as ‘undesirable’ by avid Birders. Like, I’m going to put up signs, “No Grackles Allowed”. Come on… my dad used to shake his fists at them…and they laughed hysterically, flew away and came back to the feeders when he wasn’t looking.

Am I being selfish if I’d like to hear Coyotes howl at night…and join them? I hear they have them on the west side and just want to shoot them. Barbarians. If they don’t want their Pugapoo to be threatened, get off the sofa and accompany the beloved pedigreed pooch outside when it does its business instead of just letting it out and forgetting it’s out there.

Give me a home where the Buffalo…well maybe not Buffalo…but the Deer and the Antelope would be lovely. Wolves would be nice. We do have Rabbits in the yard, but the Opossums, Skunks, Raccoons, and Woodchucks stay in the more wooded areas…note to self…plant more trees. There had been a Bear sited at the Arboretum, but I think they relocated him. Judging by the way it feels outside now, I would think a Polar Bear would not be unaccustomed to paying a visit.

As soon as we get some snow, operation ‘Ski Pole’ is back on. Maybe if I complete my task of tracking down some new wax it will entice Mother Nature to let it fall. A khaki hued hydrangea is nodding at me outside the window… mocking me really…

Ah, a Crow flew over. There is life out there and it’s not frozen solid. On that note, I will place something alluring in the feeder and wait for her to land. Maybe Dick has lost his ability to draw me to the window, but a Crow will get me every time.

Genius In A Jar

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In all of life, there is what has become standardized or otherwise known as ‘the norm’. There seems to be an accepted way to behave, to live and to think. Clusters of beings who seem to adhere to these behaviors and patterns that are familiar and shared among them tend to gravitate toward each other and form societies. It is frequently referred to as ‘hive mentality’ when these behavior patterns are born of the same set of beliefs. Once a belief becomes ones own personal truth, unless the believer can be convinced that another way or concept is better, rarely does one deviate from this.

Then there are those individuals who seem to question everything, not for the sake of being contrary, but rather to find something that makes sense to them. Being that I was born with this tendency, I fully understand it and often find difficulty in comprehending the attractiveness of being any other way. Oddly enough, us renegades and rogues, also tend to gravitate toward each other and form a sort of silent alliance. Unbound by unnecessary introductions or explanations, we just ‘know’. Our numbers are small because there are fewer of us and we often attempt to hide it to avoid ducking stones as we are driven from the villages that we occupy. So, we carefully observe and imitate, making an effort to be accepted by the majority as to not appear to be as anti-social as we feel.

But, sometimes the need to be true to our own truth compels us to quit trying to fit in. We learn to make peace with our uniqueness, strut proudly through the gates and leave the village behind. We meet other sojourners along the path, and even if we have a lot in common, we don’t feel the need to construct our own villages comprised solely of us ‘idiots’. We have come to enjoy the pleasure of our own company,  entertained by our own minds that run rampant to explore the infinite expanse of our vivid imaginations. With no one to judge beliefs we choose not to share, we bask in the joy of our own sense of freedom. Dear reader, if you too understand not just these words, but also the beauty of individuality and the mysteries we discover when left to our own unfettered devices, you will enjoy getting to know Albert.

Birds flock, Wildebeests herd, Wolves pack, and the Deer and the Antelope play. We look skyward as honking ‘V’ strands of Geese migrate and marvel at schools of Fish who seem to flow as one entity. Throughout all of Nature each species has its own standards, behaviors and beliefs that have become accepted as ‘the law’. However, just as with humans, there exists among all of Nature’s children, the ‘outlaws’.

Our deck is small, but serves its purpose. Connected to the open concept kitchen and dining area by a sliding glass door, it overlooks the back yard. In the Summer, my herbs grow in baskets attached to the rails and there is room for two chairs, a small table and about six pots of various sizes where I grow peppers, a bush pickle, and scallions.  In the course of my culinary exploits, I can harvest exactly what I need right outside my door. Heading into Samhain, when things die back and go dormant, I put a small tray of seeds out there and a suet basket. Of course, the Cats enjoy being entertained by the Birds who come for a meal, but the Squirrels really intrigue them. As you may have read and recall from previous posts, I tend to name my garden guests. For some reason, all the Squirrels answer to the name, Samwise, after the loyal and true friend of Frodo from the works of English author J. R. R. Tolkien.

They do what Squirrels do. They eat liberally of the food I offer them, burry it in the yard and in my pots, perform anti-gravity stunts in the trees, and look adorable. They play, ensure their survival by whatever means necessary and at times, feud within families and with neighbors. They reproduce and teach accepted behaviors to their young…just like us. And yes, at times, discover that they have given birth to the weird kid.

When they come to the deck, they notice the Cats watching them intently, and even though they know that they are safe, they keep their distance from the glass door. However, one day I noticed a baby Squirrel out there, nose to nose with my Kitten, Mac. To them, the glass served as a barrier that prevented them from doing what they wanted to do, which was get to know each other. Staring into each other’s eyes, they’d notice all of the things that made them different, but also, what they shared. “You have fur, I have fur, but why are your ears so much bigger.” ” Never mind my ears, look how huge your tail is, dude.” They seemed to have no idea that they were supposed to be enemies or most likely, just didn’t care.

Watching them interact became a source of enjoyment and wonder. One tiny paw would reach out and press against the glass and soon another would respond in like manner. There would be rolling and playful behavior, and most likely, a bit of frustration over having to endure this inability to touch and smell and even taste. “Why do you taste like fish?” “I eat fish, and obviously you eat seeds and dirt.”

With the onset of colder days, he came to the deck less frequently. I didn’t think much of it, assuming that he had gone off to join his family, if they had not disowned him for being a Cat lover. There were preparations to be made, and this little guy was about to discover his first Winter.

Then, one day I noticed something as I enjoyed my daily connection with Nature from my front stoop. I have a Squirrel feeder that my brother made for me that consists of a wooden frame that supports a large, empty, glass pickle jar.  It’s suspended from a low branch of my flowering crab tree, enabling me to reach it and keep it filled with sunflower seeds, peanuts and corn. There are two holes on each side of the frame that allow access into it and then the Squirrel can move down into the jar to get the food. The food stays safe and dry and so does the Squirrel.

In addition to empty sunflower seed hulls that were now spread over the entire bottom of the jar, there was also a wall of leaves that covered the sides and top, making it no longer possible to see inside the jar. Slowly and quietly, I approached, until I was right up to the feeder. Between the spaces of  bronze Autumn leaves, I saw tufts of gray fur. This is the fourteenth Winter we will be in this house and never has this been done before.

Dry and warm, with access to food and water from the nearby heated pond, this little guy is totally sheltered. Out of reach from predators, he can survey his surroundings through the glass before he ventures forth to eat, drink, or get some exercise. Glass, that he has learned, serves as a barrier.

This is the work of a genius. He is a free-thinker who has followed his heart and listened to his inner voice and has, thereby, found comfort and joy in his own little world. Perhaps, ensuring his survival by doing his own thing, being apart from those who do the predictable and time honored. And, even though the traits of  Samwise are virtuous, brave and honorable, this particular Squirrel seems to have more in common with the most famous genius of all, Albert Einstein.

My attention went to the swaying of branches in the corkscrew willow yesterday, as the familiar little Squirrel jumped into the crab tree, crawled into his jar and adjusted the leaves around him. I drew in close and bent toward the jar, “Good for you, Albert”, I said. “There is a difference between being alone and being lonely and when you follow the beat of your own drum, it will inspire you to create your own dance”. He stirred slightly and a tiny paw stretched out and pressed against the glass. “By the way” I told him, “Mac says, hello”.

Prey For Me

Homing in on his presence as soon as I approached the driveway, my eyes remained focused on him. Perched on top of the arbor, he sat there like a sentry guarding my front door. I hit the button to access the garage, yet he remained, not the least bit wary of the noise the door made as it chugged open. Grabbing my teal Pierre Cardin duffel bag, I set it on the garage floor, went outside and prepared for a confrontation. The last time that my husband attempted to drive him off, he challenged with an attack posture, ready to stand his ground. However, my connection was familiar and he found no need to be aggressive with me.

“Beckwith” I began, “we’ve had this conversation before”. His flesh ripping talons wrapped firmly around the metal frame of the arbor as his sharp-sighted stare met and fixed on mine. We know each other well. He is one of my Nature Guides and our relationship is one of respect, however beyond the stance of the predator, is the underlying current of meeting an old and dear friend. Many times he has served to comfort me and give me that unwavering sense of knowing that his conspicuous presence always provides. My mind questions, and he is there with the answer. Some of those of like mind would call him an ‘omen’, but the love we have built over the years bonds us, and he is so much more.

This Witch knows well the ways of Nature. No ‘fluffy bunny’ notions of endless rainbows and joy filled frolicking through infinite meadows of wildflowers cloud my reality with their puffy white images of having everyone and everything ‘just get along’. My dear comrade was here to hunt.

The array of feeders in my yard attract a variety of Birds. All Squirrels have been named, ‘Samwise’ and they entertain with their aerial antics to climb the pole and feast. I don’t bother with feeders designed to keep them out or ‘baffle’ them with devices that serve only to make them more creative. Like all living things, they need to eat. They too, have lost their instinctive fear of this human and never go too far when I approach. Instead, they jump to nearby ‘Evelyn’, my white flowering crab tree, and meld with the branches in an attempt to appear as if they are not separate entities. Sometimes, flicking their bushy gray tails, they excitedly scamper about as I replenish the feeders with their favorite black oil sunflower seeds and shelled peanuts.

In the Summer they are joined by Chipmunks, all named ‘Alvin’, and Thirteen Striped Ground Squirrels, all named ‘Rocky’. My tiny charcoal gray Shrews, aptly named ‘Taylor’ in honor of the performance given by Elizabeth Taylor in her role in the movie, “The Taming of the Shrew”, often dart in and out of tunnels to clean up the fallen seed at the base of the pole. However, at this time in late November, they are all hidden beneath the snow in their carefully constructed burrows of frozen earth. For now, they are safe.

The Rabbits, each sharing the name of ‘Violet’, come to feed mostly at night, their black silhouettes beneath the pole appear motionless except for the swivel of long ears that serve as their radar. From time to time they will sense my presence as I watch them through the window and will sit up on their hind legs, sniffing the air. Even if they see me, they soon go back to searching for the unopened seeds that fell from the trays above. This year, I put out small bunches of dried grasses that I found in the pet store, sold for tame Rabbits. I’m hoping this will supplement their diet with greens that lay hidden beneath increasing measures of glistening snow. Not only will it make finding a ‘salad’ easier for them, it might also help preserve some of my plants that they uncover and munch on.

As much as I feel the loss of the wild things that respond to my dinner invitation, I know that I am also providing a place of ‘easy pickins’ for raptors such as this Hawk that now uses my arbor to his advantage. It’s the circle of things. Prey and predators, just as the Great Mother has planned it, all to create a balance. It’s only when humans feel the need to intervene that things go terribly awry. With their high powered rifles and clothes to ‘blend in’, they try to justify their thirst to kill something that they have deemed to be inferior. It’s not driven by the need to survive in the wild like this Coopers Hawk, who has the decency to appear in the open, visible to it’s quarry.

The argument of keeping the threat of over population in check fails miserably. Nature does that too. By allowing Her in Her infinite wisdom to prevail, the chain remains unbroken. But, soon the ignorant rule and the vigilantes go out and kill the natural predators that take down the sick, the old, and those that weaken the herds and flocks. Diseases are born of the desire to take the ‘trophies’.  As for the need for meat, how much is that per pound by the time one adds up the cost of the weapons, the ammunition, special clothes and gadgets? Then, there is the lodging for those urbanites who travel to the wild areas, the food and of course copious amounts of alcohol that are consumed. Is it a case of accidental deaths when hunters shoot each other or the otherwise sedentary die of heart attacks? Maybe it’s just Nature’s way of ‘thinning the herd’.

If they want to hunt as a ‘sport’, do so as it should be defined. A contest or game of skill between two equally armed opponents. Toss down the gun, chase your prey down on foot, and wrestle it to the ground. You win.

The loss of life that has taken place in my yard is evident by the occasional clumps of fur and feathers and blood spatters in the snow that prove that Beckwith has had a successful hunt. I’d rather that he not take advantage of the situation that arises as a result of my desire to give back to Nature by feeding and sheltering some of Her children. I tell him often, as I am telling him now, “not here, Beckwith”.  He honors my request and flies off the arbor to hunt in the fields. However, he would not be who he is if he didn’t search for an easy meal when his efforts in the wide open spaces have been fruitless. He would not risk his own life by venturing from the places that he feels safe and protected from this urban sprawl.

The strong, wary Birds will escape. The young, fast Rabbits will outrun him and the agile, cleaver Squirrels will hide with ease. They will survive as he will survive and the delicate balance will not be tipped by contrived and convoluted methods and notions of the folly of battling Nature. This is a game of skill that humans cannot win.

Nature Comes A Callin’

The lull between Samhain and Yule, is for many, a time to gear up for the shopping, seasonal decorating, baking and planning for family gatherings. Long past is the era that knew the need to read  omens and pay attention to each nuance the world outside the confines of our air tight, well insulated lives has to offer.

A shift has happened within me and I am no longer all that interested in the mundane, commercial side of life.  Instead, everyday my mind wanders off to the land of the ‘wild things’. Even as I work at my desk all week, I peer around the maze of cubicles to focus on life outside the window. The second story view allows me to take in the expanse of sky and tree line of the well landscaped grounds that blend into the Nature preserve that boarders the company’s campus.

Something inside me, a knowing that has become so much a part of me that goes well beyond impulse, has me searching this enchanted realm with the sharp eyed gaze of the Hawk that summoned me in the first place. With the precision of a high powered spotting scope, I home in on his form in the upper branches of a distant tree. I knew exactly where to look as if he had suddenly sent up a flare to get my attention. His message for me is unmistakable, and I take a great measure of comfort in having received it.

This is my life now. My commute home is consumed by the anticipation of occupying my own ‘perch’. A flurry of Dove wings going aloft, accompanied by the squeaky hinge sound they make, greets me as I open the front door. Hot beverage in one hand, I knock the hard, frozen daubs of bird shit off my chair with the other. Dressed in layers, that end with my long black cape, serve as my own cozy cocoon. The twig table at my side holds my cup of steaming broth and the iron griffon headed arms of the chair reach out to hold me. The only thing left to do is allow the deep rolling exhalation of air escape my smiling lips. It freezes instantly, a wispy, swirling web of white…this is the color of a sigh.

The sharp, jagged cut of frigid wind has been here for some time now. From time to time the last vestiges of warmth would taunt those too naïve to accept that it was not going to stick around. As for me, I’ve looked at a map and a calendar and know full well that based upon my location in one of the Northern states, it was going to get cold, snow and freeze. To expect anything else is a ridiculous waste of time and energy. When the barrage of complaints about the inevitable hurtle toward me, my verbal targe is already in position to fend them off. “I like Winter” I declare, ” if I didn’t I’d move to where they didn’t have it”. Even though the season exists in other places, it is not synonymous with ‘glacial tundra’ the way it is here. Why the hell be miserable? Constant complaining does not have the effect of Magick words. Swaying palms will not appear and runners of baking sand will not unfurl before them unless they go to where those things exist…unless they’re willing to do that, I wish they’d spare me the daily onslaught of weather rants.

There is something about the first true dumping of snow that relays the message that the final curtain has fallen. Thanks again to my trusty calendar, I know that Yule is over a month away, but once that snow yanks up the corners and blankets everything, ‘Winter’ is getting comfortable, settling in and has no intention of leaving for the best part of 6 months.

I had wandered down to the great room around midnight and stood before the window. Once again, the call of the wild filled my ears and stirred the embers that fed the fire of my desire to be more ‘out’ than ‘in’. The originator of that call doesn’t have a clock and wouldn’t give a tinker’s damn about the late hour even if it did. This time, a Rabbit demanded my attention with the urgency of a child yanking at my hem. It foraged for fallen seed at the base of my Bird feeders, imprinting the snow with a series of dots and dashes that it leaves behind as if there was black ink on its paws, stamping a sheet of unmarked, virgin white stationary. I climb back up the stairs and head down the hall to the bedroom, and burrow beneath my brocade comforter. A deliberately implanted, vision is conceived followed by the birth of a dream, of…what else…uninterrupted wilderness and Wolves, Bobcats and Bears…oh, my.

So, it’s all official now. Time to swap the lawn mower for the snow blower in the spot near the garage door for easy access. A quiet sense of joy fills my heart. The example that Mother Nature leads with, to go within and find comfort and solace near hearth and home, displays a wild side this year. That is the one that I see and that is the one that I will emulate. The whole thing seems void of choice and effortless. Without so much as the inkling of forethought, I am driven to be as close to all things wild as often as possible. If I was one of them, the ones that live in the forest, in the fields, breaking trails that wind through prairie lands, I’d be reacting to what is referred to as ‘basic instinct’. Wouldn’t we all if we blocked out the din of the ‘tame’ world that we have erected and sought refuge in, as if what’s ‘out there’ is something to fear and in some cases, something to loathe?

I will write about what I see, but more importantly, what I feel as I explore and discover the places that I am drawn to because what is hidden there and the messages that ride on the wind might not be just for me alone. You, the reader, might hear something too, feel a stirring or sense a shift in the stony plates that pave your usual highway and transform it into a path carpeted with moss and fallen leaves. But, for now, I must bring an end to this entry that carries ‘Winter’ on it’s back, for I hear Nature calling to me, “come outside and play”.

Litha…Party Of Two

The rest of MoonShadow Coven’s members had other obligations and that was okay. Usually, I would host my annual Mid-Summer Faerie Ball, but this year I just kept putting off working on the details until it was no longer feasible to put it all together and pull it off in the flawless fashion that I demand of myself. When Sarinea commented that if I really wanted to host this bash, I’d have had the menu planned months ago, I realized that calling it off was a wise choice. It was going to be a much quieter Litha.

Dianthus had no other plans  and still wanted to come to Madison so she arrived Saturday morning. After a round of hugs and a trip to the guest room we made our way to my favorite Asian buffet and sushi bar with my husband, Randy in tow. The only other stop was going to a thrift store that we like, due to its nicely organized stock of really interesting items. It’s run by Lutherans, and for some reason they seem to have a knack for parting with some very unique knicks.

We played a game of ‘what the hell is that’ with an elderly lady in a brightly colored head wrap and kept her entertained with our old married couple banter. I picked up something that appeared to be a twelve inch tube of fabric stuffed with beans that had a loop on both ends. “What’s this thing…a husband beater?” The lady could be heard laughing two aisles over. “I gotta see this”, she said as she rounded the corner. My husband took it away from me, partially to keep me from using it and also to demonstrate what it actually was. He draped it around the back of his neck and said, “you put it in the microwave to heat it up and then put it on your sore neck”. By then, I was off to the next moment of discovery. Dianthus found a framed print for her kitchen and some stone finished coasters and we left empty handed, deciding there was nothing we couldn’t live without.

Back at the house, I poured myself an ice cold cucumber infused vodka martini while Di opted for her flavored water as we found ourselves on the deck to see if we’d become mosquito bait.  We slapped ourselves senseless for a bit, but for some reason the pests soon Magically hummed off.  We talked about our radio show, Hocus Focus,and gardening, birds, spiritually and more gardening as the birds, ground squirrels and rabbits played and ate in the yard below.

Di had requested the recipe for my mother’s famous carrot cake and I agreed to give it to her with the stipulation that she never defile it with frosting. The cake is so heavy and rich that topping it with the ubiquitous cream cheese goop would be both an abomination and render it inedible like when they have to douse an already sweet desert with sticky syrup. I get a toothache just thinking about it. This cake is dusted with powdered sugar and that’s sufficient as well as simple and elegant. As a surprise, I made the cake so Di could eat her fill and take what was left home to her husband. In addition, I also made some pastel colored sugar cookies…it’s a well known fact that Faeries love sweet things…and so do we.

Two cookies and a piece of cake later we made our way to my inner sanctum, affectionately known as my ‘broom closet’ to listen to a couple of our shows that are now in archives. It’s always fun to do that when they’re not as fresh in our minds because we can critique them with the same mindset as hearing what our audience hears. We like what we hear. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/moonshadow92/2014/05/25/hocus-focus-radio-topic-table-talk-and-divination

The mosquitos were beyond the practice round launched earlier on the deck and were now forming battle lines like Celtic warriors and we had no desire to meet them head on so our plans for a bonfire were scrapped in favor of calling it a night. Di wanted to get an early start for home Sunday morning so plans for hitting a local breakfast buffet were also amended to coffee and a few more cookies.  Tentative plans were made for me to head up north to record more shows since they flow better when we’re all together as opposed to using Skype. More hugs and she was heading down the road while I settled in a chair to savor the experience.

Sometimes the quiet grace of time spent in the company of the dearest of friends is exactly what is needed. Perhaps next year the fervor of a riotous romp, costumed in Faerie wings, will be too enticing to be written off as easily as it was this year. Dianthus and I agreed that we both needed this…time to talk, unwind, and enjoy a bit of Nature in the yard.

So, as the Wheel of The Year turns another cog, Solstice past, we are heading into the dark times now. No sadness comes as a result of this, only the contemplation of being in harmony with it all and the gentle acceptance of each season as it rolls out its own carpet. Be it lush green grass, gold and scarlet fallen leaves or crystalline snow, I will jubilantly dance upon each one.