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

 

Sin Filled Heathen

I am an elementary teacher living deep in the heart of the Lone Star State and because of who I am and where I live, I have never discussed my spiritual or even political beliefs at work.

Even when Especially when my colleagues discuss theirs’.

You see, I am a young woman of European descent living in a region where the dominant culture is conservative and Christian, so it’s not shocking when folks assume I am a member of this dominant culture. Depending on the circumstances, in certain situations I may correct assumptions with a simple “I’m not Christian,” other times I’ll go a little deeper and explain I’m pagan.

But at work I bite my tongue. Literally. I literally bite my tongue to keep from screaming expletives that have no place in an elementary school.

While I sit in the teacher’s lounge with my team and we eat our lunch they start talking about god and I bite my tongue, but my thoughts are alive with malice.

“It was god’s grace that allowed me to survive that car accident.”

Or maybe he’s punishing you. 

“God only deals you what you can handle, that’s why I didn’t wind up in a wheelchair.”

Those Syrian children buried under the rubble of terrorist bombs must be able to handle it then, hmm?

“They won’t let us call it an “act of god” in class, we have to say “act of nature.” But who controls nature? Science they’d say, but we know better.”

You ignorant pond scum. 

“You’re father’s unexpected death was all a part of god’s plan.”

There aren’t words in the English language vile enough for me to properly tell you to fuck off. 

“I’ve confessed all my dirty secrets to you now, I guess you know I’m a sin filled heathen.”

Oh sweet child, you have no idea who you’re talking to. 

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?

Wholeness of the Witch

A few days ago I came across a blog post by Alana Louise May called “Fuck New Age Purity. Get Dirty. Get Off On Your Shadow.” and everything inside my soul screamed “Yessssssss.”

I won’t do her words the disservice of summarization, so just go freakin’ read it and bask in them yourself. Did you read it? Excellent. Let’s continue.

The post is a few weeks old, but it sang to a part of me I didn’t even realize I was repressing. The dirty, corroding, dark, putrid part of me. The part of me that belongs to the witch above all other parts.

The witch is the outcast.

The witch is the untouchable.

The witch is the misfit.

The witch is the freak.

Standing outside of society, the witch embraces chaos. Morality is a social construct. The universe does not recognize good or evil, dark or light. These are tools society has invented- tools to understand, tools to coexist, tools to repress- but tools are only necessary for as long as they are useful.

I am a creature of my nature. I refuse to become less by fracturing my soul and assigning values to certain aspects. I am everything that I am.

I am violent.  I am creative. I am callous. I am manipulative. I am generous. I am fair. I am possessive. I am hateful.

I am whole.  

My tools are deceit and cunning, wrath and viciousness. My tools are acceptance and patience, imagination and resilience.

Dark and light are a farce. Deep in the universal abyss all things are one.

I won’t “rise above” my shadow. I am my shadow.

Don’t tear yourself asunder in the name of purity. You are already everything you need to be, Witch.

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.

Capture

Runes and Whispers: FEHU

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Proto- Germanic Reconstructed Name: FEHU
Meaning: “wealth, cattle”

Original Text in Poems:

Anglo-Saxon Poem
Feoh byþ frofur fira gehwylcum;
sceal ðeah manna gehwylc miclun hyt dælan
gif he wile for drihtne domes hleotan

Norwegian Poem
Fé vældr frænda róge;
føðesk ulfr í skóge.

Icelandic Poem
Fé er frænda róg
ok flæðar viti
ok grafseiðs gata
aurum fylkir

Translation:

Anglo-Saxon  Poem
Wealth is a comfort to all men;
yet must every man bestow it freely,
if he wish to gain honour in the sight of the Lord.

Norwegian Poem
Wealth is a source of discord among kinsmen;
the wolf lives in the forest.

Icelandic Poem
Wealth
source of discord among kinsmen
and fire of the sea
and path of the serpent.

Musings:

Fehu is the first rune of the Elder Futhark and represents the f sound within the alphabet. Conveniently, not only is fehu attested to in all three runic poems, it’s meaning is also agreed upon in all three poems: wealth. The Anglo-Saxon poem uses Christian imagery to encourage one to give away one’s wealth (a common theme in the Abrahamic faiths) while the Icelandic and Norwegian poems both contain a warning about the nature of wealth. Specifically, the latter two poems urge us to beware of the dividing power of wealth, citing wealth as a “source of discord among kinsmen.”

I encourage you to check out the runic poems yourself, but for me the Norwegian and Icelandic poems conjure images of war and betrayal. Wealth is power and all wars come down to power. Fehu is the wealth (not just monetary wealth, but knowledge and skills as well) and power that we can and should share with our communities. When throwing runes and fehu appears, I suggest assessing what runes are influencing it (so which runes are near fehu), because fehu rarely acts alone, before urging the querent to figure out what “wealth” they have to offer.

Note: More on the rune poems here.