Monday, January 21, 2013

In the Thicket With Things ...

My husband, Fritz, is an avid cyclist. During the long summer hours, he can’t wait to get home and jump on his Orca. While there are some very nice bike trails in our area, he also takes his bike out on the street… “sharing the road” with all of the big cars and trucks and things that go… oh dear, I try not to think about it. And it was there on such a day and on such a street where he met Rodney.

As Fritz cruised past one of the local high schools on his ride, he kept watch ahead of his front wheel. He knew from previous trips that there was broken glass in that area and no cyclist likes to hear that “pop” sound. A flash of color prompted him to squeeze the brakes. He looked back…and there was Rodney. Alone. Lost. Purple.

While out on his cycling jaunts, Fritz takes photos of interesting things and locales to share with the “balance-impaired” (that’s me) and to post on his Facebook page. Well, Rodney certainly fit the criterion. You don’t almost run over a monster every day of the week.

So Fritz took a few iPhone shots, got back on his bike and rode off. Then stopped. Looked back. Rodney sat just far enough out into the road that Fritz knew it was simply a matter of time before a car wheel turned the plastic purple guy into monster mash. Fritz just couldn’t do it. Leave him, that is. And that is how Rodney came to live with us.

When he got home, my adorable husband was a bit unsure as to how I might react. He hummed and hawed a bit. “Hum, well…I don’t know how you are going to feel about this. I mean, I think he’s pretty cool. But he isn’t cute in the traditional sense of the word. (Yes, he really talks like that. I love it.) He was just out there on his own… and I almost left him but I then couldn’t … and so I turned around and got him… and here he is!”

Plop. There he was. It was love at first roar.

Rodney now sits on our kitchen counter over the Black Cat Bar with the other lost toys and Chowdah-leena, a lobster magnet from the Boston Airport. He rarely wanders. He’s safe here. And he has become one of the guardians of the WitchHouse.

As a Witch, I view this current seasonal turn as a Time of Vulnerability. It is the season when the traditional animals of my Ancestors, cattle and sheep*, become heavy with child. Pregnant females, sides bulging with another generation, cannot easily run away if danger approaches. As the birthing time grows ever near, they lie down in hidden thickets and wait out the rest of the gestation. They have to trust in their natural instincts and in the guardians (both animal and human) of their herds. It is a dangerous time.

In the cold weather climes, animals may need a bit of special care during this period. The Eastern Gray Squirrel first brood babies, for instance, are born in February/March and their chatty parents appreciate some scattered nuts under the trees. If your oaks had a better than average fall, store some acorns for later in the season when deep snow cover and ice can make foraging a bit more difficult. (Double your good libation karma!) And, alas, in the Southern Hemisphere, many areas have been plagued with drought and wildfires.

Native birds that usually fare pretty well in normal cycles have been greatly affected by the strange weather patterns of the past years. Some habitats and many nesting areas have been completely decimated. Watering holes are polluted; landmarks on flight routes may be unavailable, nesting spots gone. Fields and plants and trees remain susceptible to sudden changes in temperature.

This is a time when protection is necessary and diligence is required. If you tune in to the seasonal tides, you may indeed feel vulnerable during this part of the cycle. (See? You weren’t just being paranoid!) Now you can take measures to protect yourself. Fill your string jar. Set some wards. Work protection magic. Hold your loved ones close. Do not be embarrassed to ask for some extra help or reassurance. Watch over little ones. Reach out to those who are ill or frail or alone. Resources can still be a bit scarce before we reach the full lushness of spring or the plenty of the harvest.

These same energy patterns also may ripple through societies and nations during this time. Here in the U.S., we are at the beginning of a new political session. People could be a little jumpy and a lot defensive. Everyone has expectations but concrete plans are not yet manifest. Bide this time well.

Whenever we feel vulnerable, we can withdraw into our protective magical thickets. From a vantage point of safety, we can strengthen the timid legs of our newborn plans and dreams. The wolves of the world will pass us by without notice. Sometimes, as we wait, an unexpected guardian or teacher may emerge to guide us on our way to a new field, a new path and a renewed sense of purpose.

Witches are the folks of another way… not ‘the other’ way as in ‘the enemy without”, but of ‘another way’. We see things through a different prism. We look beneath the surface. We follow the roots of a matter. We gaze beyond the stars. We are the ones who spin the ordinary into magic. We assign a value to -- and purpose for -- things that others may not. Just because we are the people of the earth and sea and sky does not restrict us to using only those forms in our workings.

Neither does any of the above mean that we are better, wiser or more spiritual than anyone else sharing this world and sphere of humanity. It simply means that we have the opportunity to bring ‘another’ perspective into discussions of sociology and ecology and philosophy. Now is a good time to reflect on how we can better communicate our visions and share them with others.

There is always an opportunity to begin anew. Let the stub of the umbilical cord tying you to past loves, past failures and past regrets shrivel up and drop away. Nibble the promises of the seasons to come. Drink the milk of fresh resolve. Help a beastie cross the road.

Anyway, this is the tale of how we came to have a warty plastic toothasaurus keeping vigil in our witchin’ kitchen. We are still not sure just what sort of creature Rodney actually is. After living with him for a while I feel that he embodies the attributes of the Boar -- a totem with an exceptionally robust gastrointestinal system** -- and so I run all my new recipes by him. He does seem to really enjoy the shrimp.


**For more on Boar, check out “Neolithic Shamanism: Spirit Work in the Norse Tradition” by Raven Kaldera and Galina Krasskova

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Daghda Waffle

One of my domestic duties as Head House Witch is to read the household signs and portents each morning. No need to get out the tarot cards or wipe off the scrying mirror for this one. I have a fresh-from-the-toaster oracle right here on the counter. "Use what you use" is the WitchHouse Way. No noxious fumes with this one either.

So I take an earnest (if somewhat bleary-eyed) look at the gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free spread spilling over the side of my waffle. Tune in to my spirit guides. Clear my mind. "What will this new day bring?" Okay, let's scry this dish*:

Does that condiment look like a thick river of gold? Why, yes! Yes, it does! It could be a sign that money is on the way into the house coffers today. I'm feeling very positive about how my day is going so far and... I try to hold that upbeat vibe as I step back into a fresh deposit of cat barf. 

No can do. Warm feeling gone. Well, not quite; it is seeping between my toes now. Hey, is that waffle mocking me?

Okay, settle down. There is no great cosmic plot afoot to ruin my day. (Although, just between us, I still think that the troll in the freezer throws ice cubes at me whenever I open the door.) Sometimes, we simply get what we get. It's not personal. Barf happens to good people. But how we deal with the upchucks of life can make a difference in how the rest of the day works out. So I may drop a little something into the Universal Suggestion Box each morning. Today, it went like this:

"Dearest Daghda**, 

I really like your ideas regarding food supply availability and greatly admire your ability to regulate the seasons (and while on the topic of seasons, do you have a favorite dry rub recipe for that pork?). 

Although I sometimes find it difficult to maintain a cheerful and open-minded attitude throughout the entire day, You have inspired me to fire up my inner cauldron so that I may produce spiritual foodstuffs of love and joy and health. I will share your gifts with others. 

Thank You, All-father of earth and sun.

With deepest gratitude, Wren"

Share your blessings. Leave a pat of real butter or a drop of good fruit jam for the Land Keepers. Put a grin on your toast and a smile on your face. Don't let the barfs get you down. Cuz damn, that stuff is slippery and before you know it, everyone around you is sitting on the bottom of the slope, too. And that's not Good. 

* I think I just channeled Nadia G. here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013