Dark of the Year

I walk outside, and feel the air.

I can almost hear the footsteps here and there.

I do not give in to my inner fear,

As I walk outside, during the dark of the year.

I think of the faces, of the silent hosts,

What does one do? With living, breathing ghosts?

Hollow shells that I encounter far and near,

As I walk outside, during the dark of the year.

I work my rituals, and hear a knock,

I pause, like a frozen clock.

Into the darkened atmosphere, I peer;

And I look into the veil, during the dark of the year.

At a crossroads I leave an offering, in the dead of night,

I pull up my hood, to fight the snowy blight.

An offering for the Gods, and Ancestors I revere;

As I whisper my troubles, during the dark of the year.

I turn around, homeward bound,

I pause every so often to listen, and look around.

I can see the shadows of Those most austere,

And I realize: I should get myself home, tis’ the dark of the year.

Home, I drink darkened tea,

And warm my bones, quite calmly.

I add some whiskey, for some added cheer,

I open a book, warm my toes by the fire,

Memory’s souvenir.

I think, I remember, I ponder,

During the dark of the year.

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November Moon: Dark Moon

Spending the evening in quiet solitude, welcoming the first of a series of new additions:

IMG_0730It’s my male black bear skull. Found as is, and most of His teeth are missing. That’s ok, nobody’s perfect and this skull has a profound wisdom with Him. I spent only a few hours with Him and the communication has been very earthy, very settled. I am ecstatic to welcome Him, and I will give this next moon phase to allow Him to settle into my household. Finished my ritual bird foot talisman and blessed it in the light of the full moon.

A nice, quiet, and peaceful full moon. Casting the cards by lamplight, and learning how they speak to me. I have been reading more into tarot symbolism in a ritual context, and I am still very much in love with the deck.

Hope your full moon is full of potency, ritual, and warmth as the chilled bony winds blow!

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Geistfest

I had an early celebration due to work schedules, however I didn’t think the timing lacked in any way. I got out of the house, saw a film (Horrible movie called Ouija), walked around the restless streets, and paused every so often to listen to the breezes. The air is certainly stirring. I started the day with pomegranates, tri-fried eggs, and toast with my Ancestors.

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Breakfast

I offered them milk, spirits, apples, pomegranates, and tobacco (most of my recently departed loved ones smoked), as well as other treats I could remember they liked in their lives. I bedecked the table in white fragrant flowers for them, and looked over old photos and held old momentos. I did my best to remember them, their sayings and habits, and how their presence in my life shaped me into the person I stand as today.

I cut an apple ribbon in one slice as I chanted (Which, as I found… Takes talent! To those who can with one swoop, I tip my hat to you. I think I had luck on my side for mine.) and let the ribbon fall onto my counter to see what initials my ‘true love’ (if he even exists) would be. Well…

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Not really seeing initials. Maybe I did it wrong?

Started my wreath for the dark season, it’s in a bare-bones form for now, but as the season progresses I will be adding to it.

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My new wreath, it’ll be added to over the years, but this is the starting point.

Finished another spirit house. I am not sure if you can see it, but I have been working with more insect spirits, as well as my wasp.

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A safe haven for my most fragile spirits.

IMG_0713As night fell, I prepared my meal with the Midnight Bull, and His dear Lady. I cooked meats in red wine, poured wine into goblets I use in ritual meals, cleaned the table and swept the area. After anointing the candles and setting them, it was finally the right hour:

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Hail to the Midnight Bull!

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Cannot forget his Dear Lady!

A glass for me, and a glass for Him and his Lady. I dined with my Ancestors and hosted my Guests in silence. I cleaned up in silence, and it wasn’t until the cream was left outside for the wandering souls that I spoke a word.

I cast the bones, I spread my cards. I had many questions, and I think I had pretty clear answers. I asked questions a few colleagues were wanting answers to, and I wrote them down. My house was filled with the fumigated smoke of lavender, wormwood, chamomile, yarrow flowers, and mugwort. Believe it or not, it smelled wonderful!

The fat and bones of the meat will be given traditionally, and afterwards I left a lamp lit while I slept to aid me in dreaming of my Ancestors.

As the All Hallows Eve dawns, I hope yours is full of divination, laughter, merry-making, spirit work, and a glimpse through the veil.

Glucklich Geist Jagd!

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The Wandering Hermit

Living a monk-like hermitage has afforded me not only rest, time, reflection, but the freedom to contemplate and focus on the mysteries my former life wasn’t allowing.

In my new job, placing a practical application to the societal mysteries has been illuminating. It would seem that folks put up an illusion around themselves, and become so swarmed with it many cannot see even their own partner, spouse, or the person standing next to them. Noise, or interruption of their illusions make so many angry (including myself) because being part of the world is a ritual act in and of itself. It is the illusion of isolation that was created – and it is damn hard to break.

Took me most of this year to get out of that habit, and I’ve noticed the grandmother sitting with her granddaughter feeding the ducks at the park, the cat who was foiled again by the neighbor’s squirrel, a teenager severely hurt by being single for the upcoming dance, and the grumpy old man sitting on the bench being bitter. All this by standing at the crosswalk.

On a foggy morning, catching the glint of the wandering deer, returning home watching the wasps building a low nest (sign of a harsh winter ahead):

“If hornets build low,

Winter storms and snow;

If hornets build high,

Winter mild and dry.”

With the changing weather, I can almost hear the Ancestors in the leaves as they rustle down the street, there is definite movement in the air. This weekend I am carving several plants into lanterns to set on my windowsills, and I have been prepping for my Ancestral Feast.

I have tried in vain to make sugar skulls, and I have failed. I have my limitations. However, instead of giving up on the entire idea, I went to the store to purchase a popular decoration: a skull. How many of those do we see these days? (And not to mention other holiday stuff already!)

I painted them, and affixed a candle atop them.

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Combining German folk design with the Sugar Skull motif – I think they turned out pretty well.

Spent many nights in my bearskin and melding with her anew. No rituals, no trance-work, just communing with the skin into my own. Just letting my mind wander, collecting and listening. Hearing the birds outside, the creaks in my floorboards, the cold on my skin; letting myself simply be still with Her.

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Not such a good photo of Her, but still She is a reliable companion.

Bought a new set of buffalo horns, which the buffalo, auroch, as well as other cattle, livestock, and the pastoral rituals as associated with The Ploughman, which I will be honoring as the Midnight Bull on the eve of November. In February, I will be honoring the Daughter of the Bear.

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The photo doesn’t give the breadth of the horns justice. These horns are magnificent!

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Antique spurs as an offering to The Horselord, of which I am happy to say was well received.

I will continue to wander, and contemplate. As much as I would love to move away from here, the spirits I work with, and the Antlered Weaver aren’t allowing for that. Sometimes roots grow on their own and you don’t realize it until you try to uproot. So, I will continue to delve into local botany, local culture (yes, even the towns in the boonies have unique customs, folklore, and history) and see what I can learn. I agree with the other bloggers: There should be more regional practitioners. There shouldn’t be a one-size type, but local variety that gave the historical practitioners such color and vibrancy.

Don’t worry, I’ll blog again. As my mind begins to word the mysteries in a coherent order, I will post them here. So tonight, I’ll go over my notes and try to put them into words.

Here goes!

*Note: My store is closing, and I will be placing my inventory on local consignment. There have been numerous local requests for my knives and metalwork, and it will be taking my attention. However, commissions online are still available – just ask.

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Herbst

A lot has happened in this past month.

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History was all around me, and I savored every moment.

I went to the Academy for training, across the state. It held my focus and attention, please forgive my absence. After graduation, I came home and offered a plethora of gifts in gratitude. I held quiet rituals in humble solitude, and before I went to bed – I blessed my polished boots.

I’m happy to be back in uniform, and it feels damn good to have a duty belt again.

The town is chock-full of history, around every corner. Old spirits, lingering like smoke in a bar. Not benevolent, not malevolent – but a neutral that took me some time to become accustomed to. They’re neither here, nor there. They’re neither listening, nor ignoring you. Neither coming, or going. It was something else.

I was haunted the entire time, by a single solitary crow. Whom eluded my camera like a pro. I do wonder if he kept coming back because I greeted him with “Why hello, my love!” Gorgeous bird.

It was in this town that I found my tarot deck. I had left it open, hoping that I would find ‘my‘ deck; but understanding the fact that it may just not happen for me. But it did!

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The Light And Shadow Tarot

I spent several evenings just studying the cards, the imagery, and their meanings. Then, I blessed it during the Brewer’s/Herbst Moon of September. (While most of my month has been spent at the Academy, I did manage to get preparations for brewing this winter. My yeast, my ingredients, are on their way!) I fell in love with the cards, each unique one. For the first time, I ‘heard‘ them speak. My fingers traced the lines, and my eyes caught each curve.

I’m thrilled to have a deck finally. Now, in the dark of the moon, I am using them for ritual purposes as well.

My skulls are almost ready, and in the next month I’ll be working with them as well. I’ve got several new additions, and I am looking forward to their insight.

I spent my time otherwise harvesting my large garden. I have more produce than I know what to do with!

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Oh no, that’s not even 1/4 of my harvest! I just couldn’t fit it all in one shot!

For a private garden, I was stunned.

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Again, just a portion of my garden.

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And… My one and only green bean.

My stove was a mess after the pickling, canning, and jams – but I’m pretty happy. Now, to find folks I can give them to!

It is Herbst today, and I honored the change in the seasons. It begins my darker half of the year, the Season of the Dead. I don’t know if I’ll have a chance to go hunting this year, but I intend to try. I held a solitary Ancestral Feast, of fresh salmon, my garden herbs and vegetables.

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Delish.

It is also my Erntendankfest, or Thanksgiving. I blessed my house, my skinning knives, and I cast the bones and read the cards. The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler, and the signs of winter are coming in earnest.

It is the time when the Bear Mother leaves in my tradition, as well as seeing the bears of my state begin to hibernate. Some are early, some are later on. When She rests, the world rests with Her. I tended a cub over winter and most of this year, and it was time to bid farewell.

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Farewell little cub! Oh precious little one, I have brought you up in my home, And shared my nourishment. Now it is time, To return to our Mother. When next you see her, Speak well of me, And send blessings back to me.

The remainder of my evening will be spent playing my harp, leaving cream outside for the Good Neighbors, and the returning Ancestors. Their apex will be at Rauhnact, and I am prepping for my own quiet Day of the Dead coming up in October. Much Ancestral rituals are ahead of me, as I will spend my evening not alone, but with my Ancestors.

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A good tidying up is in order, with milk and bread to feed them.

I hope your own celebrations are joyful, and rich with life as the Season of the Dead begins.

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On Empty Thresholds

Left foot forward, on an empty threshold,
The door is silent, the floor is cold.
The spirits quiet, insects crawl,
Yet they remain still, and don’t move at all.

Yet when I approached, with gentle care,
I tried to be calm, tried to be fair.
But akin to us, some were angry to see,
Someone to dare to tread their carpeted sea.

Shut out of some, welcomed by two,
I await to see which will work through.
I left a whispered offering,hoping to be heard,
I shall await, for the final word.

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Onwards and Upwards

Hello!

Forgive me for being gone, due to the intense weather my wireless bullet was fried beyond repair. How it happened I am not certain, but it needed to be replaced. So, I got to wait until the company received a replacement. My house wasn’t the only one, hence why I had to wait. To the followers I’ve lost – sorry. I’ll try not to let that happen again.

So what have I been up to? Ending my machining career, and moving back to a law centered career. Hearing that call became too much for me, and I will be moving onwards from there. A huge shift in my life has occurred, and now to let the dust settle. I take up my sword anew as it were, and prepare.

In my downtime from the internet, I have been prepping to buy a house. When one works with Household Gods and spirits, that’s not so easy. For some it’s as simple as “I like it, I’ll take it.” I have to be patient, I know this. But I’m ready to move onwards. We’ll have to see.

Been finishing several projects, a staff and a set of knives. One of the last claw knives, a tad longer (by 3/4 inch) than it’s twins.

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Real beauties, and sharp enough to cut this ol’ smithy’s fingers! Will be available soon!

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Beaver chewed ash sapling, white tailed deer antler (found by the highway), several stones and a large quartz. Wrapped in deer hide and elk hide. It is up for sale as a private auction, if you want more information post a comment to let me know.

My garden is sprouting in a whirl. I’m going to have more produce than I’ll ever know what to do with. Cucumbers, pumpkins, watermelons, tomatoes, herbs, corn… All growing proudly next to my tiny little current home. I have one pumpkin that already weighs 27 pounds! (It was an adventure weighing it too!)

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During a powerful thunderstorm, I heard to call of the Avian One (Upperworld God of birds, society, the weather, the moon, and stars); and held my full Red Moon rituals. During this moon, I have received many requests via email to light a candle for several people. With my homemade oils I anointed the lights, and set them next to a council of white vessels to bear witness. I tapped the bones, and I chanted. The light in the window is actually a lightning burst I caught on camera!

Candles

With the council convened, I cast the bones as I asked my plethora of questions not only for myself, but a few requests. My hair stood on end as the ground thundered, and the air was thick both inside my house and out.

Bones

I use a rabbit skin because it is the herald in my tradition, and as a threshold creature it seems all too fitting to work with rabbit, as well as my beloved mink.

Got several more tattoos, and I’m thrilled:

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One of four, the fifth coming soon!

Have a new addition to the household: A very, very lost salamander I named Waldo:

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Catching worms, moths, grasshoppers and other insects has actually been a fun experience. He is pretty happy in his temporary terrarium.

And – made my spear finally!

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Sitting next to my front door for unwelcome visitors.

Currently finishing up some skull cleaning, and I’ll post about that when all’s finished. Collected several road kills, and their skulls are macerating nicely. In my new home when I find it, I am saving an animal to plant in that new home. Planting an animal guardian in one’s home is a time-honored tradition I will be carrying forward. I’m sorry, but the rest of that will be kept private (no offense).

For some time I moved the bear skulls to my bedroom and conducted nightly dream rituals, and my dreams have yielded enough that I’ll be thinking and researching on it for quite some time. I have started a journal to write them down as soon as I wake up, divining as I go. I am not sure what to expect, but most of the signs have been favorable. So, we’ll see.

So after all of these storms, hearing the sirens in the night… Offering tea to the Avian One and the other Gods, Vodka, Gin, fruit, salmon, milk, honey, and much more in gratitude. It’s been intense – feeling the roar through the floor of your home, hearing the roar outside… This summer has been a humbling one; a real test of my connection to Those I work with. I thought things were concreted before!

So, I may have been marooned from the online world, but I was not quiet. To those in the mid-west I hope you remain safe, and everyone is prosperous wherever you are!

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July Moon: Thunder Moon

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More bone council…

Been working on finishing projects during this ‘super moon,’ of which for me was aptly named ‘Thunder Moon,’ – some are in the store, some… are private.

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Mule Deer Antlered Knife, with riveted sheath. Knife is wrapped in elk-hide.

 

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Hardened utility knife, in riveted sheath. I love the 550 cord wrapped handle, I have its twin and I use it frequently!

 

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During the Thunder Moon, I made many oils to work with.

A short post, mostly of action, and not much to report on – preparing for more tattoos, and finishing up some staffs. I’ll post those photos soon.

 

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Re-Wilding

I read an awesome post by The Scarlet Imprint, of which I’ve spent some time thinking on. I have felt out of place, a bear in a china shop as it were, when meeting other Pagans. My little tradition has received sneers, raised eyebrows, and cold shoulders because it is so different from their own. My tradition is not apologetic, hard to describe, and primal. Even my own Daughter of the Bear and Her consort (She being a smithy, and hearth goddess; Her consort is the Sacred Ploughman) in their domestic atmosphere are not anywhere near the tame rituals of many practitioners I’ve met in person lately.

There is no counted ritual measures, no formal set up or take-down. Working magic with me is accepting blurred lines, of mundane life and ritual, the use of everyday objects in ritual and ritual objects in everyday life. The local spirits are still angry, and I have been working for years to at least have a relationship of sorts with Them. There have been ups, and downs. Many Pagans do not like my bones, they think the idea is something heretical (Really? Seriously?), and the fact that I do not have categorized mythology, or strict lines anywhere frustrates many. It has been difficult to word my practice coherently, and it’s even more difficult to introduce others to my Gods and Spirits – I have been called a bad influence so many times I just expect it sometimes. Yes, alcohol, flying ointments (Thank you Ms. Lawless), and home-made herbal smokes appear in my practice. You have to let yourself go, become a blurred line yourself – to cross the veil.

When I have tanned skins hanging in my bathtub, skulls being macerated in water in my kitchen, dead animals in my fridge, herbs steeping in rum, whiskey, gin, and vodka… Hearing my violin at 3am, chanting until dawn, seeing a dark-haired woman donning a black bear skin – her pupils lost to this world and her breathing deep and long, covered in ash and her body painted – speaking to Those that she sees clearly yet looks at you confused… Yea, it has been a challenge to meet people. I leave offerings often to the local spirits when I feel them close, even if it is a bit of my own lunch and a cigarette, an offering is an offering. Taking my hat off and escorting the toads out of the shop to prevent injury (toads are an animal protected by one local spirit) has earned me quite a bit of jest, and at the same time I’m given my own space.

My tradition is based on the wilds, I do not live by an agricultural calendar, nor pastoral one. I live on the fringes of it, and I have blessed animals and fields. I offer whiskey to the crossroads that are so dark the stars are a form of light. I watch as the sun wanders the earth as the Antlered Weaver’s deer wander, I listen in the midnight hours to the whispers of the Avian One’s moon; I work my rituals by my Bear Mother. The next morning, I wake up, go through my morning rituals to prepare for work – and off I go.

I felt so odd for being on the fringe, as if I was missing something. Turns out, probably not – I’m right where I need to be. I really hope this post made sense. And, I hope I wasn’t too much of an asshole.

 

 

 

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Litha

Ah, summer. Normally filled with bugs, heat, and barbeques; this year it has been filled with tornadoes, torrential rain, floods, hail, lightning, and winds that knocked a few of the neighboring porches over. So, in normal years I create an effigy to parade around my home and douse with water to bring in nourishing rain. This year, I decided that this wasn’t necessary!

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30 min after this storm raged overhead, one of many!

I built a fire when I was given a short break in the weather, of six woods loaded with paper wishes to attract my heartfelt desires. Leaping over the fire ensures one’s wishes come true – so in a low container I did just that, after a few shots of whiskey. Fishermen, hunters were out and about and I managed to talk to several of them, as I waited for my wood-fed smoker to heat up. I feasted on smoked meats and vegetables, with local fruits and locally grown salads. It is normal to give gifts this time of year, as it is at the Winter Solstice, seeing as I am alone now I treated myself to a few gifts and hours of retail therapy.

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Prayer, songs, strong drink, and laughter. Good times, even on my own!

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Delicious local fish – marinated overnight and smoked… Oh my giggles it was wonderful!

This time of the year was filled with a balance ritual of fire and water – of floating a small candle on a paper float in a silver bowl of clear blessed water. Sorry, no photos of the sacred rituals (no offense). After all of this was said and done I put out the fire with the blessed water and let the steam cover me, and several leather pieces to add to my ritual blacksmithing, to be imbued with the ritual’s potency.

Giggled and sang to my garden, as my seeds are growing strong:

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Basil, lavender, green bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, and more – I am delighted to see them grow!

During my break from the weather I wandered neighborly private property and wild-crafted several herbs and wildflowers to bedeck my home. My home was filled with the scent of cedar, juniper, pine, sagebrush, wild mint, and the gorgeous flowers of milkweed and bright wildflowers were set on my kitchen table. During this time I heard a strange mewing beneath my floor – and rescued Gertrude Munchin, an abandoned kitten in the care of a surrogate mother cat:

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Doing great and growing like a weed! Was stuck between the floor boards and the insulation.

 

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Such a despised weed, makes such lovely blooms..

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Bright sunny flowers for a sun-oriented solstice!

 

prayer beads

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After my hike, I began to make more rauchstocks.

 

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Pine, cedar, sagebrush – I’m quite excited to use them as fuel for the fires of Herbst!

 

I marveled at the various delicate blooms that were growing around in the area:

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And since I am detained indoors for the time being, I have also been focusing on finishing several folk art pieces to place around my home, and I finished the day with a cream offering to the Good Neighbors who are at their apex at this time of the year:

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Copper, green, gold, and white – sang by a shaman as she worked the rite.

 

This solstice was surprising productive and a wonderful experience, even though I was on my own and the storms raged with The Avian One’s wrath. I hope your own solstice was filled with magic, mayhem, and laughter.

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