Of Snakes and Journeys

A year ago I began down a path through otherworlds and underworlds, where visions flowed like water from a tap. I met gods and spirits and came to know my disir, my ancestral and  family spirits, who guided my journey as a wolf, shark, and snake. It was so natural and fluid that when the tap dried, I was at a total loss. Trance states became difficult, almost impossible to enter and the visions I received were clouded by the mundane and murky. My disir reached for me but I struggled to reach back. Hecate pointed a gnarled finger and named me lazy. What could I do?

Then one of the witches in my circle, more wise in the ways of Hecate than myself, suggested I stop trying to journey, she urged me to focus on the mediation, not the vision. Bah! What is the meditation if not a means to journey? Why breathe and chant and ground and cleanse if not for visions? I was frustrated and disappointed, I thought I was simply not talented.

I let my friend’s words take root and germinate for a few days before I conceded to myself that perhaps she was correct.

So I chanted and lit my sage, cleansing and clearing my space. I grounded and centered before me, besides, me, behind me, besides me, above me, below me, within me, and around me. I went back to the basics and focused on my breathing, I focused on the rhythm of my lungs and heart and let that be my drum beat. When the room around me slipped away and Yggdrasil called, I had finally let go of my arrogance.

The great ashen tree lead me to a place of fire where a snake was waiting for me, my disir called Cilia. In my hands she poured henbane seeds, so I sung to them and they grew and flowered. I ate the flowers and through their poison I saw stars fall to earth and the cosmos stretch into infinity.

Hygeia by Gustav Klimt

Hygeia by Gustav Klimt

While I journeyed through chaotic plains, my friend and fellow witch at Crescent Over the Crossroad was also speaking to a snake. Her great python is wise and had words for all vision seekers, oracles and seers alike.

Oracle work is not a tap to turn on when you wish or to turn off when you choose.”

You cannot take small bites of the visions,
you will choke.
You must swallow them whole.”

The otherworld is not a tap we may turn on and off at our own whim. The worlds do not flow for us, but through us.

Teacher

By day I am a teacher, but I’ve begun to realize I’m being called to more.

 I’ve struggled with my path for the last year or so, while the other witches in my little circle seemed to be gravitating to a certain area or receiving signs towards their path, I felt behind. The gods and spirits were talking to me, I used sage and trance and mandrake to speak with them, but I wasn’t listening. It took some point blank tough love for me to realize what I knew all along: teach. Simple, yes?

No. When a goddess pushes you down a twisted path and whispers, the word “teach” takes on a different meaning.

Urd grabbed my hair and told me knowledge is in the past,  Skuld grabbed my face and told me knowledge is useless unless shared, all while Verdandi stood silent.
Die Nornen (1889) Johannes Gehrts

Die Nornen (1889) Johannes Gehrts

Teacher is not my profession, it is my being.

Heritage

My father tells me stories from his childhood, of my grandfather tending to his father’s grave, of my great-grandmother who prayed over my father to make him grow, of black clad ancient women who drank spirits and whispered in Italian for him to visit them. My father is a product of immigrants and tradition and I am a product of his stories.

A-Young dadcropped

Italians are a deeply spiritual, deeply superstitious people. When my great-grandfather lay dying in his bed of tuberculosis, he prayed out to the Virgin Mary begging for his life and he was healed. Every summer to honor her, my great-grandfather took his three children to swim in the polluted waters surrounding Brooklyn because the Virgin would protect them; his unwavering faith and devotion to the Virgin would keep his children safe from the sewage and pollution.

With this in mind, I found my transition to witchcraft only natural. Spiritual forces are all around us, listening and waiting.  They’re rooted in tradition and cloaked in various names spanning eons and languages, far more ancient than we can grasp.