Hexennacht: A Ritual

abused negative

The veil thins, my dark little creatures! Hexennacht, the night of Witches, approaches. Also called Walpurgisnacht, the night of April 30th is a darker, wilder sister to Beltane– which is a nice holiday and all, but I ain’t Celtic.

On the opposite end of the year than October 31st; I think of Hallow’s Eve and Hexennacht as book ends, two sides to the same coin laid upon the mouth of the dead so that they may pay their way on Charon’s boat. A journey across the river Acheron. A voyage through the underworlds.

In Germany it’s believed that witches gather on the Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz Mountains, for dark revels and communions with demons on the night before May Day.

This is a night of celebration, for the dead speak and the veil has thinned.

I will be celebrating Hexennacht on Sunday night and below you’ll find a skeleton outline of the ritual I will be using. Feel free to mad-lib it to your black heart’s content. Let me know if you do!

Whisper to the dead and they will whisper back, witches.

To begin, I cleanse myself with smoke or water, grounding and centering down into the earth, before casting a Triangle of Blood, Bone, and Shadow.

Triangle

Bone

Dark One of Unknowable Depths. You whisper to me ancient secrets of magic and death. Stalking the space between worlds, you exist betwixt and between. Within the veil, between the flesh, is your wicked domain. Guide me through my Triangle as you guide me through the veil. Oh come and be my teacher.

Blood

Bloodied Warrior of Vicious Protection. Through the mightiness of my ancestral line, I know your name. Guardian of my mother’s mother,  you are the protectress of ancient children. A creature of the venerated wild, mistress of tooth and claw. Ward my Triangle as you ward my Journey. Oh come and be my keeper.

Shadow

Dreaded Enchantress of Infinite Wisdom. In your kingdom of obsidian my soul takes root, burrowing into wicked soil. You are the black serpent of the crossroads, snake witch, the deep darkness is yours to command.  Reveal my Triangle as you reveal my shadow.  Oh come and be my reflection.  

I then invoke the wights and spirits of my house and land, as well as my own personal ancestors and beloved departed.

Invocations

House Spirits

Wights of place! Of hearth and home! Of brick and beam! Of wood and stone! Heed my Triangle, drawn with power! I call upon you in this sacred hour! 

Departed Family

Ancestors, beloved and departed- dead to us, but never gone. You who are called [list departed family and ancestral surnames]! Come, attend my rite!

For Hexennacht I will light a fire under the dark sky and throw in dried herbs to mingle with the smoke– sage, local henbit, and mandrake. I will beat my drum and sing, calling my ancestors to me. I will throw my runes and divine that which my mundane eyes cannot see. I will dance, widdershins, around my fire and I will pour out homemade mead for my ancestors to drink.

Dark revels are about on this night. Don your masks so that you may join in the celebrations, trick the spirits into believing you are one of them, because truly, on Hexennacht you are.

Open your ears and soul and eyes to the calls of the dead and the spirits. 

A Samhain Ritual

fullsizerender-7

The dead are always listening, but now the Veil has thinned it is time that we listen.

Last night I took my silver tray, a portable alter of sorts, to bathe in the darkness of a moonless sky. I lit candles and sage and called upon my three disir to form the boundary of a triangle for my sacred tasks. I called on each corner as an aspect of my womanhood.

Bloodied Warrior of vicious protection.

Dark Mother of unknowable depths.

Dreaded Enchantress of infinite wisdom.

I called on the the wights that live within my home.

Wights of Place, of Hearth and Home,

of Brick and Beam, of Wood and Stone.

Heed my Triangle, drawn with power,

I summon your strength in this sacred hour. 

I called on the spirits of blood and bone and shadow.

Spirits of Blood, Spirits of Bone,

Spirits of Shadow I call you Home.

Beyond the Veil and through the dark,

Come and heed the witch’s hark.

And finally I called upon the beloved and mighty dead of my ancestral tree. I called them by first name and surname and I sang to them through our bound of kinship and as I chanted the wind blew out my candles leaving me shrouded in darkness. I whispered.

I know you.

I see you.

I hear you.

I will speak your names.

And the dead spoke.

Impromptu Binding or Why You Don’t Fuck With Me

Yesterday as I sat at home by myself, sipping a glass of wine and listening to the steady breathing of the cat asleep next to me I began to think. I began to think about a few people who are in my life who I really wish weren’t and I began to think about how they have manipulated and harmed someone close to me and then, I began to grow angry.

Quite angry, in fact. I was pretty fucking pissed.

I stood up and looked around. I put down my wine glass and clenched my fist and I thought to myself, “Fuck them.”

And then I thought, “I don’t have to put up with this shit.”

I walked to my bedroom, where my altar sits, and while I was walking I began banging on the walls and doors to call my spirits. I sang to them, calling them to me, letting the pounding of my knuckles on the wood and drywall be like a drum leading them home.

Spirits of Blood, Spirits of Bone, Spirits of Shadow, I call you home.

From my altar I took my mother’s pocket knife, my grandmother’s silver thimble, the picture of my great-grandmother, my Freyja blessed cat statue, sage, and my megalodon tooth. I held these sacred things in my hands, still chanting to my spirits, and I took them to my kitchen.

I laid out my supplies on the counter and grabbed a cord and sheet of paper. I lit the sage and inhaled the smoke into my lungs. Filled with righteous fury at those who had wronged me and mine, I began to sing to myself.

Sacred is the bitch, for she is vicious in her power. Sacred is the bitch.

I tied the cord three times and began sharpening my mothers knife, calling on my ancestors for their help. I walked around the kitchen sharpening the knife, honing my intent.

On the paper I wrote the names of those I wanted out of my life and I chanted, demanding they leave my family alone. I sealed their names with a bind rune created from perth (who knows me best), algiz (who understands protection) and tiwaz (who understands violence).

I folded up the paper tightly, chanting to my ancestors, and when the paper was good and folded I took my mothers knife and stabbed it in the middle. Holding the paper down with the knife, I spun the paper counter-clockwise and chanted “Stay away.” until I had worn a hole through the paper. Then I took the thrice knotted cord and I tied the note up, whispering incantations and prayers to my spirits and my ancestors.

I need to bury it, I thought to myself. I need to bury their names so the dead can find them, so my ancestors can do the work. I put the bound paper inside my mouth and wiped my saliva onto it and then I took salt and rubbed it into the paper, then I dipped it all in my wine. An offering, an offering for the dirt of spit, wine, and salt.

I held the bound paper, the bound names, close to my mouth and I whispered, “Send my words to the dead, send my words to the ancestors.”

I went outside into my backyard and dug, continuing my whispered chants.

Send my words to the dead, send my words to the ancestors.

I dug a hole with my bare hands, huddled over the ground on my knees, dirt beneath my nails. I stuffed the paper into the ground and covered it. I saw an old rusty screw next to me and I smiled. I grabbed the screw and pushed it down into the dirt and I whispered.

You have no power here.

And I went inside and I finished my wine.

Where is our family’s home?

I’ve been doing a great deal of work on my family tree- tracing my ancestors and learning their names. They appreciate the recognition and I want to ensure my name and the names of my blood are repeated and acknowledged by my descendants.

I’ve spent a great deal of time imagining these descendants, these children I don’t have. Imagining what I’ll teach them and the stories I’ll whisper to them as they fall asleep about their grandparents and great-grandparents. The recipes and tricks I’ll pass down and the traditions I’ll forge new with help from their tiny hands.

I don’t have any children yet. I am young. I have time.

It’s a strange thing to have children, stranger still is to raise them in a foreign land. My family is a product of immigration. I am second generation born in the United States from Germany and third generation born in the United States from Italy- this is  not the land of my ancestors. Even my parents, raised in New York and southern California, come from a different land than I.

My mother’s home is the ocean, warm sandy beaches and cool surf.

My father’s home is the city with towering skyscrapers that obscure the sky.

I am from none of these places. I am a creature of mountains. A daughter of grey rains and dark skies. I am a child of the evergreen forests of the Pacific Northwest.

But my children will not share this with me, my children will be of yet another land. They will grow up knowing the mightiness of the sun and blue skies that are unending. They will be creatures of open plains and unyielding heat. When I talk of rain that never stops and a grey chill that permeates your skin and soaks into your bones, when I talk of the dense forests of my childhood they won’t understand.

I wonder, is this a taste of what my grandmother felt raising the first of her family not born born in Germany, not born in Berlin? Is this what my great-grandparents felt raising their children so far from their ancestral shores of southern Italy?

What is the price of this familial disconnection from the land? What is the benefit?

Blood and Bones and Ancestors

I was raised with aunts and cousins and grandparents living together under one roof. I was raised to be my brother and sister’s keeper. I was raised with a fierce knowledge that there is no bond more relentless than the bond of blood.

At holidays we would gather on chairs and couches and retell the same stories of hardship and hilarity, of the living and of the dead. We would remember their names, looking at photographs and home movies. At the time I didn’t realize it, but now I know that by remembering and celebrating we were venerating. We were keeping alive an ancient tradition that this new world has forgotten.

But I will not forget.

Modernity has forced us into isolation; many of us live without family in our homes. We’ve replaced the familial and ancestral bonds with technological conveniences, the wisdom of our elders has been usurped by the collective humming of the internet. In the past your family meant your survival or your destruction and the bonds you forged with them and the work of those who came before you were fundamental to your success.

In times of old we could turn to the wax masks of the ancients hung in our homes, we could look to their graves and tombs. Now we must seek them out on our own, devising both new and forgotten paths to the dead through bones, and blood, and shadow. Chanting, singing, dancing, screaming into darkness, beyond hedges, and through veils, I reach out to my ancestors, to my family, to the dead. I beat at my chest and stomp my feet not in mourning, but in celebration, for the dead speak and they have many secrets to tell.

When I die, burn my body and release my spirit so that I may fly across worlds on shadowy wings. Mix my ashes with the dirt and mud. When my children’s children dig through the earth and call for me, I will hear them and I will whisper to them. I will sing them twisted songs of curses and cures and I will not be forgotten.