Thursday, September 25, 2014


I want these and I don't even have a lawn!
At some point I'll get back to writing for the Pagan Blog Project. It's a project I believe in and like to contribute to, but there are times when I want to write about other things and those things may not fit into the after taking a hiatus, I'm easing myself into the discipline of writing specifically with the intention of  teaching.

Besides, it's THAT time of the year, and I'm feeling witchy.

Not that I'm a part time witch or anything, but as the nights lengthen and become cooler, the colors become vibrantly alive, my mood shifts're probably already familiar with the feeling yourself, or you wouldn't be reading this blog in the first place. ( Yeah, I'm looking at YOU. Yes, you know who you are. The one pretending not to like those Gummy Mummies candies. Or that nifty witch's hat that you know is only part of a costume, except the silly purple silk flowers and all that fluffy netting is strangely attractive.)

At the first sign of orange and black at WalMart, Andy Williams  singing " It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" echoes in my head. I go window shopping just to see the kitschy witchy stuff because it makes me feel good and makes me happy. Damned if I know why. Maybe it reminds me of my childhood or something. I've dragged out the storage totes and have begun to distribute my Halloween collection around the apartment with the precision of a curator mounting an exhibit. My Ancestor Altar will go up last-I'm still designing it in my head. I'm making a black satin altar cloth and would love to fringe the edges with beads, but finances being what they are presently, that will be a future project. The Ferryman has been busy this year: there are three new photos to add to the ones I normally use. While I'm sad these individuals are no longer in this life, I'm filled with hope that they have crossed the Veil and dwell in a place of wholeness and peace because I know they will be there to greet me when my time comes to stand on the edge of the precipice and take that first unsure step into the next life. Until then, I will continue to celebrate their crossing by honoring their memory.

Living in the mountains again is a wondrous adventure. I surprise myself sometimes at what I learned when I was living part-time out West in the Rockies. Being here in Appalachia in such a remote place is sometimes a trial when we are totally cut off from the rest of the world by snow and ice. I begin to stock up on food and necessities well before the weather turns and the leaves fall because living here requires a certain amount of forethought and preparation. It's just a part of existing in this part of the country, and I'm still amazed and a little smug when some of my neighbors-who have lived here far longer than I-are taken by surprise by Nature's little forced time-outs and left without. Perhaps it's because I've acquired the needed skills from years of Scouting, or because my chosen spiritual path has put me in closer understand to the way nature works, but I view the required effort as nothing more than the change of the seasons-it's just what you do. Despite the economy being depressed, there is always plenty of food available. You may want for other things, but there is always something to put on the table: it may not be exactly what I want, but I will not starve. The roof I have over my head is once again my own (thank Hestia,Vesta and St. Jude!) For now, in this place it is bittersweetly enough. For Today, I'm content to watch the leaves fall and be grateful for another chance to see Autumn's splendor. Tomorrow, I will get serious and get back on track with writing for others...but Today...This day is mine.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Early One Almost Autumn Morning

This morning I got up before dawn. To be truthful, I am a night person and rarely get to bed at what genteel persons call a civil hour, so being up at dawn for me is notable. I had made a pot of coffee , took a shower, dressed and was sitting on the balcony listening to the gentle rain and bird calls well before the sun came up over the mountain our building backs up to.

The heavy silver mist hung over the buildings and trees like a gossamer veil this early post-Lughnasadh morning. On the way to town yesterday morning, I noticed some round bales of hay in the fields and a few browning leaves, but otherwise the summer isn't ready to let go here. It's been an unseasonably cool summer with a few truly cold nights-not that I mind. The tourism folks tout the " natural air-conditioning" of this part of the Appalachians, and  have christened the nearby town of Bluefield as "Virginia's Tallest Town". If and when it ever gets up around 90 degrees, all the local businesses give away free water and lemonade; they luck out because it seldom does.

The crows were rather active this morning. Their infernal cawing drowned out the songbirds(but not the damned locusts!) They wheeled and swooped over the trees and an abandoned house, sounding off every time one of them was lifted by a thermal; a companion would immediately answer in the distance. They disappeared quickly into the trees when the rain picked up.

I love the smell of rain and wet greenery, and I love to sleep by the sound of rain falling. Nothing kept me from laying down to indulge in this favorite pastime, so I did...and instead of dozing, my mind began to wander...I haven't planned anything special for Mabon, but today I will bake bread, I will strip the husks off the ears of corn I bought for dinner and make corn dollies out of them, I will clean through the apartment and dowse it for 'stuck energy, then smudge everything with sage and sweetgrass...and then, only then, will I feel ready to welcome the coming harvest season. One of my favorite things about living in this part of the country is that we actually do have four distinct seasons; so this will be a Summer Harvest of apples and garden vegetables. In just a few weeks, the whole community will become as much like Norman Rockwell's America as we can muster in a place where a duck walking across the street can cause a traffic jam. On Labor Day weekend, what few railroad workers and coal miners left among the living will celebrated their contribution to local heritage with a march down Center Street, and listened to old-fashioned political stump speeches and then shared a free ham and brown bean dinner. Only in small town America, folks.

Raise the song of Harvest Home! These words have always held special meaning for me, much more so after 20+ years as  Pagan. It's not just the seasonal shift, but the mental one- from urgency and growth to relaxing into who I am and have become. I do 'magickal' things now without the tools and often by second nature. If I'm making an incense or charm for a specific purpose, I will sort through my herbs and stones and mix them intuitively. Upon later examination, I find I have chosen ingredients with the correct correspondences without consulting one of the many books. Kitchen Witch. Hedge Witch. Labels for a reality I now claim without much fuss. I am so used to referring to myself as a Witch now that I will toss the word out in general conversation without much thought that I can shift into my elevator speech about what that means without the other person having enough time to bat an eyelash...and explain it in such a way that it is acceptable. That's one of the beauties of living in Appalachia...We're rather fond of our granny women, root workers, hedge witches and common parlance doctors.

Raise the song of Harvest Home! The leaves have begun to take on color in the cooler nights; right now most of them are a yellowish green, but in a few weeks they'll be orange and red. This afternoon, someone decorated all the telephone poles with corn stalks and big orange bows, and scarecrows are beginning to pop up around town. The grocery stores are stocking field pumpkins to be turned into jack-o-lanterns. Dollar Tree has the largest selection of Halloween merchandise that I've seen in years. Our Summer hasn't been overly hot or humid, but I think we all need the change and to move on. Where has the year gone? Here, to Autumn.

Mabon has always been an awkward holiday for me, sandwiched between Lughnasadh and Samhain as it is. What do we do? We celebrate. At Lughnasadh we celebrate the Harvest; at Mabon we celebrate the turning season and at Samhain we celebrate Life and Death. It is that simple. We celebrate where we are and the fact that we've gotten here at Mabon, sans the mythology. We celebrate change and newness. We know that the time is short and the year is dying around us, but the trees have changed their colors and the nights are crisper, and we feel a certain urgency to complete whatever it is we were doing during Summer so that we can embrace what is coming. The Veil is slowly opening, it's edges billowing toward this world. The wisp of cool air makes us shiver and draw our resolve around us, and we wait for....what we do not know. The beauty of Mabon is not knowing what will happen when the nights begin to lengthen and darkness gathers earlier and earlier.
The beauty of Mabon are the candles we light and the cups of warmth we share. The beauty of Mabon is being suspended between Summer and Winter, of being between the worlds. That is the magick of the season.