This time of year does something to me... Fills my head so full of thoughts that words cannot fully express, at least not as well as a collection of twenty or so mushroom pictures... and a leaf...
For several months now, nay, almost a year, I have been plagued by turtle omens. It started innocently enough, with coming across turtles only three or four times a day, maybe two days a week, but quickly escalated to six or seven turtles a day, nearly every day. Everywhere I turned, there was a turtle. Pop on twitter, images of turtles filled my timeline; walk through a room where a tv is on and surely there would be a turtle; browse through a magazine while waiting in an office, an article on turtles; my eldest daughter even received a pair of socks with turtles on them as a gift.
Of course, I began researching the meanings of these omens. Most of the information I came across repeated the same things: “slow down” or “it’s time to come out of your shell.” Neither of these was right, and for obvious reasons. The notion of “slowing down” is relative, a turtle goes just fast enough for itself –it is neither too fast nor too slow (it is only slow from our perspective.) And a turtle also cannot “come out” of its shell –it is a part of its body, who it is. These would later become necessary pieces in figuring out the puzzle of the turtle omens, but I wouldn’t figure it out for many more months.
This morning I received a question regarding witchcraft. With that person's permission, I have reproduced the question and my response, in the hope that they may prove insightful for others. While I make no claims to speak for all Pagans nor all witches, for ease of explanation, I did answer in generalities and use "we" a far too many times. For those who may read this and whose practice and worldview as a witch differ, know that I meant no disrespect in this.
If there were just one thing you would want to tell people about yourself or your religion, what would that be?
While not a religion in itself, per se, Paganism is a term that refers to non-Abrahamic (i.e. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) polytheistic religions. However, it does not refer to such religions as Hinduism or Buddhism, for example. Rather it refers specifically to nature or Earth centered religions, such as Asatru, Celtic Reconstructionism, Druidry and Druidism, Hellenismo, Nova Roma, Slavic Reconstructionism, Stregheria, Traditional Initiatory Witchcraft, Wicca (both British Traditional and Eclectic,) as well as some monotheistic religions such as Dianic Witchcraft and Goddess Spirituality. While synchretic religions such as Voudon and Santeria are not in themselves Pagan, there are some followers who do self-identify as such.
Our elders are leaving us at an alarming rate. Just these past few months have seen the passing of Judy Harrow, Donald Michael Kraig, Morning Glory Zell Ravenheart, and now Margot Adler. More will surely follow, and the loss to our community is multifold.
As voices and leaders leave us, it is clear that others must take their place. Too many are too willing to step up –for the chance of fancy titles and an adoring crowd, and too few are willing to do the work –yet will criticize those who try when their attempts fail. But the need for leaders, for teachers, for positive examples of what it really means to live this life, to see the world through starlight eyes, this need is real. It isn’t going away. And with every passing elder the need grows.
There's something about certain old trees that only feels like an old friend.
I walk bent over, a slow, shambling pace, that takes me deeper into the forest, deeper into trance. The forest has that effect on me; I'm willing to bet ti would have that effect on you, too. A basket in one hand, my other sweeps the ground, picking a flower here, three more there. At every sound, I stop, look. A patch of just the right blossoms catches my eye and, so, I walk further off the trail.
The stand of young Poplars has just begun to bud. They're the reason I've come out here. For the past month I've been gauging their progress, trekking out here every few days. But it will be another week before I can begin that harvest. I am patient. I can wait.
A shadow slips across the land, slowly, so that, to some, it goes unnoticed; the assuming darkness thought to've always been there, and in some cases, this is correct. But to those with eyes to see, this change is noticed, contemplated, and compared to previous times. Patterns emerge. Remembrance of how events played out in the past, of how they are wanted to play out in the future; plans were made and carried out accordingly.
A tap on the shoulder, a glance from the Moon, shivers up the spine as palms blaze with fire. There is only one outcome acceptable.
Key in hand, the threshold is crossed, Gods and Ancestors alike are greeted, petitioned, honored, evoked.
There is only one outcome acceptable.
Early morning, dew on the land, storm clouds rolling in. I approach the forest slowly, barefoot, hair streaming in the tempered breeze. Glancing down at my hands, an apple therein, I wonder if it's enough, if this simple offering is suitable to convey the tangled thoughts and emotions within me.
I promise this isn’t one of those posts. You know, the kind that needlessly beats you over the head, stating how all Pagans and all magickal practitioners are bound by the Wiccan Rede (or the sometimes stated, and quite loathsome, Pagan Rede –of which there is no such thing*,) that any action that causes harm damns you to some sort of New Age hell (perhaps as being reincarnated as one who is convinced of such misinformation..?) and that your life must be filled with “love& light” and must radiate such out to all who cross your path.
No, this is not one of those posts.
I often think of polar bears during my pregnancies. The momma polar bear lost to a death like slumber while her young are born and hurriedly crawl to the warmth of belly fur and a warm teat. Does she even notice? Is there a moment when her sleep becomes less deep, if only on a subconscious level, that she may feel her tiny children leave her and the umbilicus sever? Does she sigh in her sleep as each latch on for the first time, content to do her part in the great cycle of life, death, and rebirth? Or does it all escape her, the squirming cubs suckling and crawling on her a springtime surprise, yet as unexpected as the warming temperatures that, bone-deep, she knew would be there when she woke?