Thursday, December 29, 2011

Midwinter Supper, Holy Supper, and "Traditions"

15° of Scorpio, The World Dies.

The world dies as the Last Harvest come in, and the whole of the wilds begin to fold in on themselves to face the cold.  It doesn't come back until "Spring" - there is no hint of life renewing here when Yule comes around, espousing some "return", or if it is it is a vain lie before the icy horrors of January stomp the lingering green out entirely. Normally that means that other than perhaps visiting the local Pagan group for Yule, and the usual Secular Christmas... I don't do jack shit in the winter. The Altar is stone cold, lights are not set. It usually gets veiled, shrouded, and left "in state".

The Hungry Dead

But there is something that does go on. The world gets cold, bitter and hungry. Birds begin to flood in colorful waves over the feeders, clinging to suet cakes until they're leaden and stuffed. Spirits begin to drag themselves by, eyes pleading, voices scorched. Because those dead that cannot pass over into the otherworld do not get to experience the lush bounty the restful dead are experiencing at this time. They get our world, cold and lifeless, with not even the spark of trees to draw from.

The Compassionate Supper.

Miss Dirty, for whom I have great respect and admiration, recently shared a holiday Tradition from her blood family - that of the Holy Supper, or Sviata Vechera. It is a grand feast to ancestors, family, the dead. And I liked the idea. Maybe I wouldn't do it quite like Miss Dirty (I'm hard-hit by the U.S. economy, and though I'd love to feast boldly, our once gastronomically lush Christmas was sparse... and sandwichy), I signed up to do it none-the-less.  For me this was less a feast, and more "sharing what I had" with those who needed it. 

Oxtail Stew - Scyllastyle.

Approx 1lb of Oxtail.

Approx. 1cup chopped Celery.
Approx. 1cup chopped Carrot.
1 head of garlic, peeled and chopped coarsely.
1/2 medium-sized white or red onion... I chose white.
3 small red-skinned potatoes, chopped.
1 cup Good Red Wine (I did Cabernet Sauvignon, the only wine I drink).
3 cups Chicken Stock (we make our own from chicken wings, and veggies).
1 16oz can of Diced tomatos AND Juice.
Salt and Black Pepper to taste, and a few pinches of Thyme.

Extra: 1/4cup AP flour, salt, pepper, spices (such as curry) to taste.


Roll your oxtail in the flour and brown it slightly in a skillet with some olive oil. Add ingredients in listed order, more or less, to a large Crock Pot or Slow Cooker, and utterly ignore it's existence for 20hrs. After 20hrs, skim the top - you will not regret skimming off the OUNCES of fat (this gets added to Their Portion). Then crank to high and "offset" the lid for another four hours to partially reduce. It won't reduce much, but will lose it's raw wine flavor, and begin to develop more subtleties. Total cook time is an entire 24hr span, and it is well worth it.
Serve in crust bread bowls, with a dash of Sriracha sauce and some lime juice. Maybe a tiny pat of butter.

Supping With The Dead.

It was LATE by the time it was all done and ready. I'd set out an extra place-setting, and doled out a little wine into the glasses. The bowls were heaping and fullsome, a little shiny from beef fat, and a little glossy from butter. We did not eat in silence, we laughed and "mmm"d and "OH MA GAD"d, we got flush from wine and watched scary movies. And after my Dear Sweetie was tucked into bed I returned for Their Portion.
I took some Christmas candies, and some bits and bobs, the remaining wine and the bowl of food out into the chilly night. I was instructed to finish the wine seeing as "You'd only have to dump it out, and never waste wine!" and I shared the meal with them as they, those not of my Family, tore specks of spirit from it. And there it sat, empty as a hollow log, but still a piping hot bowl full of stew... and then the animals were welcome to it.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dowsing, Water-witching and Object-Findin'.

A long time ago my father started managing the local water system. It was sort of a volunteer position, one had to go get certified to test the water according to the standards of DEQ, and that was pretty much it. The problem was that while there are miles of water-line running to every single house and lot in our rural edition... there was no information as to where the flying fuck any of those pipes were.

Someone trenching to run power to their house would often crunch their way right through the damned things, shutting down the system for days at a time. If someone wanted to tie into the system, or alternately needed to be cut off, they could spend weeks looking for the shutoff valve. My father usually wished there were a better way than simply blind-digging, and my grandmother offered sage wisdom:

"Dowse for it"

My Maternal line is rich in Ozark lore and "Mountain Magic" - most of it beaten into an unrecognizable form by the passage of time and influences, but a few nuggets were still there. "Get a couple of pieces of copper wire, like this (holding her hands about eighteen inches apart) and bend 'em into an L. You hold the short bit in each hand, and when they make a cross, that's the water."

So, my father got some copper wire, and made the L-shapes, and walked around like a bloody fool... until he crossed our own water lines, and the wires snapped into an X. As he walked forward the wires seemed locked to the spot, and disentangled from their X. As he backed up, they slid forward re-forming the X. 

Being utterly convinced of his success, he began searching for water-lines all over the community. And found them. Every time. Except sometimes it wasn't a water-line, but phone or power-cables buried under the ground. And sometimes it was pieces of metal.

We discovered that not only could he do it, so could I. But some of our neighbors could not. That's when I became pretty certain that it had nothing to do with magnetism - but rather had something to do with "woo".

Okay, so what now?

The dowsing tools, which can either be rods or a Y-shaped bit of wood, or even a pendulum, don't really matter. It's a physical tell, near as I can figure out. When someone lies to me (if it's important) I often feel a muscle twitch. My body is searching out what it needs, and gives a response upon finding it. Neither I, nor my father, know the water line is buried there - consciously. But you can bet hard cash our bodies know... somehow.

Start with a feature you know exists - a water, power or phone line. A buried piece of something important. Have someone hide things for you - then dowse for them. Learn to feel, and embrace, the "tell" - until it is second nature. At that point you may not even need the tools, using your hand in the manner of a New-Ager feeling crystaline energies. Envision that your hand is a magnet, and the thing you are looking for is it's mate. Feel the twitch, jerk, or pull of the two calling to each-other.

Now, and this is where it gets weird... you can do this over longer distances. I feel that this is where it crosses from a physical sensory mechanism to something far more esoteric. This is where it goes from "The electromagnetic field around my personage is sensitive to the disturbance" to "I'm a witch, and this is witch shit."

And I'm afraid that's the only advice and instruction I can offer - work with it, develop it, master it. Find a that you start tripping over silver dimes in the street. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Faithful Retinue.

It starts with an itch. I can't define where it is. It becomes annoying. Then it is a thirst, and it gnaws. Then it is a buzzing that won't cease. Then it is a call, subtle and sweet as music. It is the music that is the most maddening.  I wrap myself in my ritual robe, I slip my blade into it's sheath, and I run - barefoot - into the woods.

First I run. I run like a hunted beast. Then I dance, dance to the music only I can hear. Then I sing, shaping the tune with my voice. It is a song of summoning, of seduction, of fearful prey. Then I cease to sing and only bellow. The bellowing becomes a howl. And I find myself on all fours. I can only howl, and moan. My mouth hangs open, and I am drooling onto the soil.

I tear at the robe, and hunch naked on the ground. I am beyond sensation. The spirits are coming. They are on me, in me, over me, beside me. This is what the Maenads felt. Were there more than me in the woods we would rip at each-other with our teeth, and fuck like animals.

I am aware of only my eyes, and a spot somewhere above and behind them. I cannot communicate with the rest of my body - it is no longer just mine. It is Him. And it is something else entirely. It is a sensation like the rolling waves of orgasm, but it does not cease, does not plateau, does not decrease. It grows ever-stronger, and begins to consume me.

But it is not me. And I twist, and fall, and slither on the ground. I dig my fingers in the loam, worms crawl up my arms. Torches flickering, lamplight, owls hissing and screeching in the trees, wine runs from my lips, satyrs run through the undergrowth - the world around me dissolves into thousands of years of revelry. Vines grow through my skin, using my bones as their trellis. I am utterly broken down, into dust, into loam, into mold.

And suddenly there is a stillness and clarity in the chaos of my destruction. My mind slips itself, and becomes another. Fluid flows through me, and my limbs come alive. I begin to see through other eyes, and hear through other ears. I speak with a voice that is not mine... and I don't understand. Suddenly the whole of creation is alive around me, with figures darting here and there. They are the pipers of the circle, my faithful retinue.
Because, I am no longer the witch in the woods, nor the maenad in the leaves. I am the god who comes.