Hexennacht: A Ritual

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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. 

Full Moon Offering

On the evening of the full moon, my mother-in-law came to visit. To put it gently, this is not a fun time for me. My husband’s mother is a narcissistic, manipulative, dishonorable bitch and that’s about the nicest thing I could probably say about her.

I sat on my couch and listened to her turn what should have been a brief encounter to pick something up, into an hour long diatribe on why no one loves her or cares about her, all the time consciously willing my eyes not to roll into the back of my head. I take special cautions to avoid her and normally this works just fine, we usually see her about twice a month and rarely at our home. But sometimes it cannot be avoided.

I could feel my house, my wights, my spirits recoil away from her, I could feel her energy polluting my home. I wanted to scream.

When she finally left, I could see the mental exhaustion painted across my husband’s face, and so I suggested we dye eggs. Something fun and whimsical and childlike to erase her foul aura from our house.

I forgot it was the full moon. 

So we dyed our eggs and I offered them to my house and my own spirits and when I went to bed I dreamed of my father smiling at me.

The next day, besides my herb garden, I found a rabbit. A creature broken and mangled and half-eaten: prey.

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I have lived in my house for two years now and have never found a dead animal anywhere on our little property and when I saw her lying there I knew the wheel was turning.

I spoke to my witch sister and she said offering, this is an offering.

Offering. 

Yes. An offering, a sacrifice.

The carcass was properly disposed of, in the way one must do in the city, and as the sun set and twilight descended, I made my own offering. I cut a sprig of oregano from my garden and boiled it. I poured the water and oregano onto the spot where the rabbit had been left and I sprinkled salt upon the ground. All this, an offering to the door this death had created, a piercing of the veil, and I breathed in that power.

For you see, what is good for the wolf is not necessarily good for the rabbit and trust me when I tell you, my little darklings, I am a wolf. 

When Spirits Speak

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 8.10.27 AMMy home is a guarded space. My wights and I, we have an understanding, we have a working relationship, a partnership. They will own these bricks and beams, this wood and stone, this dirt and land, long after my family and I have left. It’s really more their’s than it is mine.

Yesterday, I arrived home from my muggle life and I had a feeling: an urge to offer. So I poured salt in my hand, coarse and purified, and I sprinkled it along the boundary of my fence and house. I sang to the wights and spirits, I called on them with the salt, both an offering and a warding.

This place is ours. Let nothing in that would do ill. This place is ours. Accept this offering, heed my will. 

The wights are listening, the wights are always listening even when you think maybe they’re not. They live in everything.

Your home is made of wood that was once a tree. Does the tree not have a spirit? Your home is made of brick that was once clay and shale. Does the rock not have a spirit? Your home sits atop the ancient land. Does the land not have a spirit? Maybe neglected spirits, maybe forgotten spirits, but spirits nonetheless.

After my offering of salt and song, I came inside and found crawling about on my hand a wee spider. The spirits are always listening. I took the little guardian outside and I thanked her for her weavings. There is power and craft in a spider’s web. Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 8.09.54 AM

In my backyard are frogs and rabbits, spiders and cardinals, mushrooms and weeds. They own this place.

Keeping Wights and Home

If you are familiar with the old Russian hag Baba Yaga, then you are no doubt familiar with the story of her encounter with a pair of orphaned children whose cruel stepmother sent them to work for the ancient witch. While Baba Yaga was away, the kind-hearted children managed to escape from her chicken legged house with help from the witch’s neglected household. When Baba Yaga returned home to find the children gone, she demanded answers from the disobedient trees, animals, and gates that allowed the children to escape. The household replied:

“We were always ready to obey thee, but thou didst neglect us.” 

 

So, it was not that the children were good and needed to be saved, though I can understand why some might interpret the story thusly, but rather it’s simply that the children respected the needs of the household. They fed the mice, dogs and black cat, placed ribbon on the birch trees, and oiled the old gates and were rewarded for their appreciation. The household doesn’t complain that Baba Yaga was cruel to the children or that she herself is “evil” (in fact no indication they have any thoughts regarding the morality of the situation) they merely wanted acknowledgement and respect.

Your home is alive. From the cabinet doors in your kitchen to the wooden beams behind your walls, your dwelling is absolutely infested with spirits. Maybe they followed you there, attaching themselves to your person or your ancestral lineage, maybe you invited them with craft or will-working, but most likely they were there before you arrived and will be there long after you’re gone. It has been my experience that very few things in life belong solely to one being. You have to learn to share.

So here is my three point list of recommendations on how to keep your house wights happy.

1. Cleanliness


As my oma would say, it’s important to have a little Putzfimmel: a cleaning obsession. People don’t like to live in filth and neither do wights. I recommend a weekly cleaning schedule to keep your house or apartment in good condition and a monthly schedule for deeper cleaning. I know that might feel overwhelming when you work full time and/or have children to take care of, but trust me it’s worth it. Even if keeping wights happy isn’t your main goal, everyone deserves to live in a clean home. Many folks I know also have maid services, which is fine, but I would suggest maybe once a month or so doing at least some of the cleaning yourself to help establish a connection with your wights. They’ll appreciate the effort. 
Have you ever walked into a house and thought “Holy fuck, get me the fuck out of here.”? Have you ever walked into a house and just known the people living inside were unhappy? We leave those emotions around us, like a pollutant, and the wights can feel it as well. Your wights and spirits live with you, they’re around you as much as members of your family, so just as their happiness affects you, your happiness affects them. Remember to emotionally clean up and take care of yourself as well.

2. Offerings

These don’t have to be grand gestures and actually, I’ve found that wights rarely appreciate a large effort and find it to be insincere. Maybe my wights are too Germanic for their own good, but some smoke from my pipe and a good beer usually does the trick. You might try asking your wights what they prefer and how often they’d prefer it. Walk about your house, property, or apartment and feel for your wights, establish a connection. Which brings me to my next point-

3. Communication

This is simple- talk to your wights. Going out of town? Let them know. Is someone coming over to take care of your fur-babies? Let the wights know. If you establish an open line of communication, your wights are more likely to listen and talk back. Don’t expect them to speak in words and phrases, they’re not people, they’re not even corporeal beings. They’re the very inhuman consciousness of your dwelling. Like I said earlier, you have to feel them and the more you talk to them, the more likely they are to respond.

I hope this has been helpful! Just remember happy wights, happy life.

A Samhain Ritual

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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.

Of Spooks and Hallowe’en

The veil is thinning, my little darklings. Can’t you feel it? Samhain, Hallowe’en, All Hallows Eve is one of my most favorite times of the year. I love darkness and pumpkins and nights that are growing increasingly colder and longer as we begin our trek towards the solstice. I love when the haunts and ghouls and spooks and spirits come out of their hiding to join in our revels because- despite attempts by the Abrahamic faiths to destroy our pagan celebrations- Samhain has stood the test of time.

She has evolved, to be sure, she has changed and adapted, but her essence, her core is a revelry of the dark and the weird. This is the only time our society deems it acceptable for children and adults to don their costumes and celebrate with the dead. Admittedly the good Christian folk of Texas don’t know that’s what they’re doing, but we know better, don’t we?

I see children dressed as ghouls and adults decorating their houses and dwellings and I smile, I smile wickedly. Carve your pumpkins, your jack-o-lanterns and place them on your doorstep, a warding you don’t even understand. Let your children out at night, dressed in disguises so they can dance with the dead on this most sacred night. Celebrate with us, even though you don’t understand the celebration.

Look how desperately they’re starving for their roots, how the remnants of our deepest pagan values couldn’t be destroyed even after hundreds of years. Embrace it, good folks, if only for one night. scary-vintage-halloween-creepy-costumes-130-57fcaebc54a9b__605

 

Daily House Cleansing

When I have free time during my day I like to cleanse my house, but really it’s less a cleansing and more of a make-the-house-wights-happy. Happy wights, happy life. I have  found that the wights of my home like to be acknowledged, they like a house kept clean and looked after, they like libations, and they like smoke. So I pack prayer smoke into my pipe and light it with a sigh. I walk my house, inside and out, and I sing to my wights, drawing a bindrune sigil of my own invention for them.

Wights of Place
Of hearth and home
Of brick and beam
Of wood and stone

Heed my sigil
Drawn with power
I gift these evils
To your mouths; devour.

I have found house wights to be not necessarily benign creatures. They are prone to moods and opinions similar and much different  to us and it’s good to keep them on your side. So instead of asking them to banish negative energies or people or spirits, I ask them to devour and destroy anything that would harm our home. It seems to me better to destroy your enemies rather than shoo them away.

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