Wednesday, April 28, 2010

As Above, So Below.

There is a beautiful wood outside of town. It spans dozens of miles in either direction, borders on a lake, and has a few moonlit glades so perfect in their moss-blanketed quality that it's worth the drive from just about anywhere in the state.

A Neo-Pagan (whom we'll call "Nancy") came pounding at my door. She had done a ritual there a week prior, and had been plagued with a sense of restlessness since. She felt drained of energy, unable to sleep (when she did, she had horrible nightmares), was rapidly becoming depressed, and could only assume that she was the target of a good v. evil conspiracy on the Astral Plane because her ritual had been powerful enough to attract the attention of the GODS THEMSELVES (a rhetoric most pagans have either heard or been a part of themselves).

I asked the usual questions, and discovered that she had been in the woods, a 30 minute hike from her car, bare naked. No cell phone, no weapons (not even a dagger, because "Athames are a tool of violence") and only a small pocket flashlight. She did not Cast, Compass or Tread. She evoked the "spirits of place" with a wand and engaged in solo sex magic. Upon her description of the particular glade(bordering to the lake, with a flat rock in the East), I'd heard all I needed to. Her condition was easily understandable.

That glade? It's filled with Hemlock, which she apparently burnt as part of her ritual. The woods? Several bodies have been found there in the last year. There are black bears (reported), Puma (reported), a pack of wolf hybrids released in the 80's, copperhead snakes, coyotes, pygmy rattlesnakes, cottonmouths and fire ants. Those are it's purely physical dangers.

That area of the lake is known for it's frequent drownings. There is an unseelie there who lives in an undercut/cave under the bluff, she grabs people by the ankle. One or two have survived the attack, bruises clearly visible. Some report being grabbed by a tentacle, leading to the speculation that we have a "freshwater octopus" in the lake. Because of it's particular vibe, a group of local diabolists (either singularly, or as a whole) tend to use the glade for their purposes, and have created a fissure/vortex, through which even worse things than Missus Crazy Unseelie, slowly seep.

The world is not safe, it is not wholesome, and the demons are both inside and outside of your head. No one is so special that the entirety of existence is a picture-show for their amusement, not even God. Having a self-assured attitude is helpful, yes. It's helpful against the most petty of bullies, as any schoolchild knows. But no amount of "not acting like prey" will turn away a sociopath, or psychopath, and some beings beyond our consensus reality are just that.

When we are in wild territory, it is best to go well-armed and bring with us a fortification that is at least deterrent to most assaults. Daggers, blasting rods, totems, mojo hands, medicine bags, pocket-pieces, anointing ointments, sweet herbs, familiar spirits, guardian beings, and maybe a Dual Natured shotgun aren't such bad ideas in some places.

To be frank, I feel that this particular girl fell prey to both mental and spiritual laziness. Like the Eloi of H.G. Wells, some folks have become conditioned by having every meal and need provided, and end up wandering about in a half-awake state.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


The Vesica Piscis is a great example of my worldview. Imagine that the circle on the right is the physical world of our reality, and that the circle on the left is the world of spirit (otherside, otherworld) that some can travel into.

The area where they overlap is the "Underworld", or Elphame. The realm where there is some semblance of this world, either in geological features, structures, or perception of the physical, while still being paired with imagery of the spirit realm.

Myself, I also count the borders. The Hedge is the border. In the illustration, it is the black line that surrounds each circle.

It was impressed upon me that borders are areas that simultaneously exist and don't exist. While you generally think of a wall as a two dimensional surface, an entire ecosystem can thrive between two bits of drywall. Such is the Hedge, for me at least. Just as it can be a boundary marker, so can it be a strangely dappled world where things live and thrive.

One author (oddly enough, an author of fanfiction) described something like this as an interstitial dimension. Depending on where, and how, the border is approached, it can be a very different experience.

In addition, consider that the two circles may not be the only ones. Multiple spheres and worlds can just as easily be chained along existence (one upon the other) meaning that the borders of multiple worlds overlap.

Some plants I speak to beneath "our" Hedge. In this border, everything is very much like our world, only a bit louder, so to speak. Others, I deal with beneath the Hedge beyond the Underworld, but only the plants that I trust. The images we deal with, even in the Underworld are nothing compared to how they appear beneath that hedge. Or beneath the hedge where the Underworld meets with something far more distant.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Farewell, Green Lady.

The Wormwood plant I've had for nearly as long as I've been a witch seems to have passed away. I've had the pleasure of knowing her company for about twelve years, and at her peak of growth she was nearly six feet across, and almost nine feet high.

In my old home (she has been transplanted) I could lean out of my octagonal window (about eight feet off of the ground) and pick leaves. During windy nights her smell would waft in, keeping away bugs, and inviting stranger things (like the owl who once flapped right in my window!)

Every spring, summer, and fall, I would harvest leaves for incenses and washes. She was one of my closest allies, and verged on what I would call "familiar" territory. She had a voice, she spoke. She shared wisdom. Her spirit was vibrant, if jealous and hasty.

By this time of year she should've already been about an 8-12" puffball, and I see no sprouts. I don't -feel- life in her anymore. She's gone quiet. I'll wait until Beltane-eve, and if she has not sprouted I will send her off in the ritual fire. Hopefully, freeing whatever of her might still be bound in the stems of the previous season.

I believe that when you name something, you give it individuality. Not that humans have this high and mighty power, but rather... the Naming of a thing begins it's awakening, stretching, coming alive in senses, even to it's spirit. When we speak to plants, and name them, we begin to awaken them and if we are good to them they will speak back.

I believe that each plant can share in a pool-spirit ("Deva"), but that when we cultivate a plant, or honor it with Craft, it's Deva becomes unique. She was still a Grand Wormwood, but she was also Green Lady. My scrying mirrors rest on a bed of her, my runes nest like eggs in her, my ritual dagger is kept gleaming and free of rust by oils infused with her.

I am going to miss the old gal.