Personal Update and Solstice Reflections

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This past week or so, with the Solstice and my twenty-third birthday mark the conclusion of my twelfth year as a practicing witch, and one year since this blogging journey was begun. I’ve not been as active as I’ve wanted to be on this, my YouTube channel, the rest of my social media presences, or in my own practice. This past year has been incredibly trying, but I’d like to believe that I’ve finally come through the worst of it.

 

I’ve been home now and done with my undergraduate studies for about two months. It’s still feeling a little lack-luster. Where’s that promise of a job in something relevant to my degree? Why do I feel so apathetic about grad school? What the hell does one do with a B.A. in history? There are a lot of unanswered questions, and a lot of things that feel stagnant and frustrating about being in my parents’ house in my hometown and working at something completely unrelated to all of the things I’ve spent years and years of energy into with my studies.

 

We’ve also had a hell of a lot of rain. Both Beltane and Midsummer were sort of de-railed by the heavy rain and flooding that came with them. I’d planned gatherings with friends for each that had to be called off because of the weather and scheduling conflicts. In retrospect, I think I needed those moments to myself.

Beltane was a rainy evening, spent in the pavilion at the local state park. This was where I performed a rite of dedication to the Wylde Hunt and to Herne the Hunter. It was a simple ritual, but a powerful one. After months locked away in my dorm for a good portion of my time, it was something I needed: the power of fire, the sound of rain, the cool night air, and the stirrings of summer life returning to the world.

 

The next month or so between then and Midsummer was spent sort of in hiatus. Spirituality, as much as I didn’t want it to, was sort of placed on the back burner as I got my footing in my new job and used to being back in my parents’ place. But I did a lot of things I am grateful for: spending time in my hammock as the trees started to unfurl their leaves, planting an herb garden, taking up archery again, and doing some reading (a longer review on By Land Sky & Sea by Gede Parma might be coming soon).

 

The June Full Moon really signaled an awakening for me again, though. I was making money, starting to succeed at some of this ‘adulting’ stuff, and doing things, but I was still feeling stuck, unfulfilled, lost on that path. Following a reading from my local witchy-store owner, I did some spell work for direction, self-sovereignty, and inspiration. I wasn’t disappointed by the results.  For the couple of weeks between the Full Moon, and the arrival of Midsummer, I was sort of haunted by this moon goddess figure that appeared holding a lantern of silvery blue light, or a moon-shaped scythe, and seemed to be guiding me through the mists of my dreams and meditations, and kept seeing crows, hawks, and vultures all over the place. I asked for guidance and ‘direction’ in my life, and here was this guide trying to show me the way. It took me a good deal of time to connect what I was seeing to the goddess Morrigan, but it was all there: crows, the triplicity of the moon, the mists of the otherworld, the waters that she as washer at the ford resides by. The goddess of death and transformation had taken a more subtle and gentle approach that I was quite unaccustomed to seeing, but yet, here she was in my life once more.

And yet, Midsummer is only the beginning of this new journey that I’m starting on. I can feel that now as I type these words. This next stretch of my path is important, and life-altering. I’m not yet certain where it is leading me, but it seems to be a much more healing and empowering bit of discovery and work than this past year has been.

In the last few days, I’ve turned to working on tarot and returned to Druidry once more. I was very blessed to be given a close friend of mine’s introductory packet from the Order of Bards Ovates & Druids. He had purchased the intro pack and decided it wasn’t for him some time ago. For me it felt like being handed a Hogwarts letter. Everything about it resonated on such a deep level. It was what I’d been hoping for in a spiritual study course all this time and unable to achieve. Now, I’m just waiting on the first of the monthly packages to come from the order; the wait for snail-mail from the UK is killing me, but I’m confident it will be well worth the wait when it finally arrives.

Between this, and finally getting my desk space situated at my parents’ house, I’ve felt more awake and inspired to work on art, spirituality, writing, and this blog as well. I’m hoping this upswing carries on for quite some time. It feels much better than where I was at for a good portion of the last several months.

So now, I’m working on getting more content out for the blog and the YouTube channel. Mark and I are attempting to build a coven in our hometown, and are working together on revitalizing our practices and our lifestyles together. Here’s to the next trip through the Wheel of the Year being a deeply spiritual and important one.

Forest Blessings,
Rachel

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Update: March 1st, 2017

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My Imbolc Altar

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a personal update post, or written at all really. This first part of the winter semester has been rough, and I’ve been unable to create as much content for the blog as I would have liked to. My classes are interesting, and I’m very fond of all of the professors that I have this time around, but I think that the academic burnout and senioritis has really started to sink in, as well as a string of sort of rotten luck (more on that in a moment). It’s felt like an uphill struggle; now, with only a few more weeks left, it’s feeling a bit like careening down the other side of that hill in a rollercoaster cart. For the next month and a half or so, I’ll be much less active online, as I’ve a fifteen and a twenty page paper to do for my major history courses along with coursework for the other two classes I’m taking. The monthly tarot readings are also going to be left for the time being and will resume in May once I’ve graduated.

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The Feb. Full Moon, Seen From Campus

The biggest struggle this semester, aside from academics though, has been my own battle with depression and anxiety. Due to a number of conflicts, circumstances that couldn’t be prevented, etc. my friend group has gotten dramatically smaller here. On top of that, money has been a real struggle, and the limited budget means weird diet shifts every couple of weeks- all really typical college student stuff, but sort of exacerbated by the aforementioned academic stress and dramatic decrease in social circle. I finally went “This is a problem, and I need some help,” after having a bit of a mental breakdown over a splinter of all frigging things a few weeks back. I’ve been going to the campus counseling center, using some essential oils, and spending more time with the few friends I DO have left around. I think, for the most part, I’ve really pulled myself out of that pit for the time being, and am starting to come back round the bend to a better place.

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Little things have really been the cause of several shifts, good and bad, over the past few weeks. I’ve been able, with the exception of this past week or so, to post a YouTube video to my channel for the YouTube Pagan Challenge each week. I was visited by my soul-brother and best friend, Mark, and we got to talk several times on spirituality, plans for the summer, goals, etc. and make a video with one of our close friends, Shelby, on the experience of being a pagan and a millennial. You can find that on YouTube here. I also, during his visit, acquired a new tarot deck: After Tarot. I’m hoping to do an actual review of the deck later on, but in the past few weeks of having it, I can honestly say that I love it to pieces. The creators of the deck seemed to be aiming, from what I read in the book that accompanied the deck, to be looking for more of a predictive tarot style: really reaching into the future past what the cards traditionally depict and represent, but I’ve gotten a different feel from it (more on that later, I promise!).

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The 4 of Wands, 10 of Swords and 5 of Swords from After Tarot

The other major change / update in my life is that I am no longer moving to Florida in May. Due to a number of circumstances, most of them financial, it will not be possible for my boyfriend and I to afford our own place for a while. At first, I was really upset about this. I’d spent months planning this, and was so close to its fruition now when I found out that it wasn’t going to work. As I’ve stewed over the situation though, I’ve realized it might honestly be for the better anyway. For one, it makes a lot of financial sense to move back in with my parents and just dump all of my money from a job into paying back student loans, and do things like learn to drive, take up my parents’ offer to help me get a car, etc. But, beyond that, it also perfectly plays out in favor of some of the goals I’d already set for myself spiritually speaking. I’d been planning on taking a year between graduation and going into school for funeral services to pay loans and devote a good deal of time to spiritual study. Needing to live with my parents also keeps me from being close enough to a program to even contemplate more school; essentially all I can do is work, pay loans, and work on really developing and revitalizing my spiritual path. I also had a plan for a small tattoo in devotion to the Wylde Hunt that I will now more feasibly be able to afford without having to pay a bunch of money to move all the way from Florida to Michigan. It really sucks that my seeing my boyfriend again is postponed, and that I’m stuck moving back home, but I’m starting to think that it might not be so bad- and even for the best, really.

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The Hierophant from After Tarot

I’ve a number of plans for spiritual / witchy stuff in the works for the coming months. I’m currently participating in the #tarotnerdschallenge on Instagram throughout the month of March, and the YouTube Pagan Challenge videos, and hopefully some posts correlating to those videos, will be continuing throughout the remaining weeks of this semester. My parents have graciously given me permission to through a Beltane bash just after my graduation with my witchy friends from school and my home town, and I’m very much looking forward to that. Beltane will also mark the beginning of a year devoted to spiritual study, as I’ve mentioned. I’m really looking to pick up my old project of trying to create a fleshed out path centered around the Wylde Hunt again, and am hoping to compile it and maybe even publish it as a book; this time I’m looking at it more holistically- trying to include a healthier diet / exercise portion in it, myth/history, interpreting the Hunt as psychopomp and ferrier of the soul from one place of being to another, etc. etc. etc. More of this will probably come in blog posts as I work on the research and practice required for it to be ‘completed’.

That reminds me. Those who followed my old blog, The Raven & The Oak, will find that it has now been taken down. I went through the process of saving all of the posts on it to a Microsoft Word file for my own record and memory. It felt as though it was time. Many of the posts were from my high school and early college days; my path has changed, my ways of writing and thinking about different topics have changed. I noticed that my younger self was particularly problematic about sourcing information and images used in posts, too. It was time to let it go, and to move forward with current projects instead. Hopefully, The Patchwork Crow will be a bit more sophisticated than my previous blog had been.

Many blessings to you all,
Rachel

YT Pagan Challenge: Sacred Spaces, Holy Sites, and Circle Casting

I had been hoping to film part of my eighth YT Pagan Challenge video outdoors in one of my on-campus sacred spaces, but it seems the weather is just not willing to agree with me. So, so I can give you all a bit of a visual, this post will be jam-packed full of pictures of the places I was talking about in the video.

First thing’s first: my on-campus sacred spaces. I am blessed to be going to a university that is filled with small garden spaces and has a sprawling expanse of wooded ravines hugging along the side of campus. In my five years here, I’ve been able to find a number of places to relax, be one with nature, and perform a few rituals and magical workings in. Three of the major places where I tend to hang out and do my workings are the arboretum, the garden behind the religious center on campus, and a grove back in the ravines behind the art building.

In each of these spaces, I’ve found little places to leave offerings, quiet spots to sit and meditate, and have even done a few rituals there.

The arboretum is full of places to explore, and I admittedly spend a lot more time there than anywhere else. There’s a stump I’ve found a short distance off of the path that I use frequently for spell work, and have left offerings at over the past few years. It happens also to overlook a ravine in a pretty straight shot to the grove I’d found in the woods as well.

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In the little garden behind the religious building on campus, there’s a statue of St. Francis that seems to have a presence and an energy all its own. I’ve made a habit of leaving little offerings in the hands of the statue whenever I go there to write, drum, meditate, etc.

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And then, of course, there is the grove in the ravines. It’s just off the path, and was shown to me by a good friend who graduated a couple of years ago. It’s often where I go if I’m looking to communicate with the Wylde Hunt while on campus, and has been the site for a couple of rituals. There’s a large three-trunked oak that sits in its center, and there are a few places to sit in little nooks between its roots. I like this place because it is a little further away from the main part of campus, and therefore quieter. You can’t hear the bells from the clock tower and are a lot less likely to see people wandering by. There’s also a fantastic view of the stars on clear nights.

Aside from these natural spaces, I do tend to do much of my ritual / meditation / etc. within the safety (and warmth!!!) of my dormitory bedroom, as well. My room is almost always decorated with pictures that are sacred, beautiful, inspiring, etc. to me and I try to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere for myself to live/study/rest/etc. in and for my friends to visit.

My altar space is situated by the window, which overlooks a little courtyard and the woods beyond.While I’m at school, this is the most sacred space to me, and I work really hard to keep it that way while I’m here.

Of course, when I’m home for winter / spring / summer break, I have places where I go to practice as well. Due to the nature of the space situation in my parents’ home, most of those places are outdoors.

In my own backyard, I am again blessed to have a great expanse of land full of trees and a big ol’ forest beyond. In particular, there’s a small grove hidden among a bunch of pine and cedar trees where I do some more private rituals, and then there’s Treebeard, a cottonwood tree where I leave offerings, prayer ribbons, etc. and spend time enjoying the space on the shady hill just beneath him.

I’m also blessed to have other little places of beauty within my hometown such as the local state park, my local witchy shop, and my aunt’s gorgeous and wild garden. These are places that really make me feel attuned to the energies of the universe and the natural world, and where I like to perform tarot readings, have debates about different witchy/spiritual topics, etc. with my friends.

And of course, there are a number of places in Michigan that have spiritual significance to me. The biggest one is the Boyne/East Jordan/Charlevoix area up in the northern part of our lower peninsula. Over the years, it has been a place full of childhood memory as well as shared memories and explorations with one of my best friends, Mark.

Being a pagan who follows a primarily Celtic path and lives within the United States makes it a little difficult to visit holy sites associated with my practice. There are, no surprise, remarkably few here in the states. There are Native American sacred sites, but because that runs along the slippery slope of what is culturally appropriative and what is respect for the culture and traditions associated with those sites, you’ll note that none of the places I’ve shared above are tied to those places. I was fortunate enough, four years ago, to visit the United Kingdom and places like Stonehenge, Avebury, and Glastonbury. These are memories that I hold really dear to my heart, and feel very privileged to have experienced in my lifetime.

Two of my very favorite memories from my trip to the UK came from my experiences on the weekend we went visiting various sacred sites. While in Chalice Well Gardens, I’d sat down by the well head to meditate and get away from the rest of the crowd of students I was with for a while, and man and his young daughter sat down alongside of me. The little girl had to have been about 4 or 5 years old at most, and as most 4-5 year-olds are, she was a little rambunctious and was bouncing around a bit. Rather than be upset with her, or harsh, I heard her father very calmly explain this was a special place, and saw (much to my amazement and admiration really) her nod in understanding, and sit down to meditate with him.

The second vivid memory I hold dear from that trip (as far as sacred space and that goes) occurred while we were in Avebury. It was rather late, the sun was setting, and we really didn’t have much time to spend there, but I remember it being a much more tangible feeling of presence there. Perhaps it was because we could actually approach the stones; maybe it was just the liminal time of day we were there or the place itself. I couldn’t quite say.

As we wandered about the stones, we saw an older gentleman with rather wild grey curls sitting at the base of one of the smaller stones. He had candles, incense, etc. and was using dowsing rods. The rest of our group gave him sort of a wide berth, and I (as the sort of unofficial pagan authority of the crew) stood a respectable and out-of-earshot ways off, explaining to my roommate that he was probably using the dowsing rods to look for ley lines in the area. He then turned to look at us and asked: “Have you two got good imaginations on you?” We were a little surprised, but answered that yes, we supposed we did. “Do you know where the word imagination comes from?” We honestly weren’t sure. “I. Magi. Nation. A nation of magicians. Merlin is one of my guides, you know.” He then proceeded to tell us this tale about Merlin performing his first magic trick in the stone circle in which we stood: he’d turned a friend invisible and was unable to turn him back again. He also told us about how the Druids had used that place as a place for their initiations. I wasn’t at all sure on the historical accuracy of those things, but in the moment, you sort of wanted to suspend your disbelief. Awen was flowing, and you could almost see what he was describing in your mind’s eye. He then looked at us again and said: “I get Druid from both of you.” I was a little shocked because, of course, I was. I told him so, and he simply turned, and went back to his business of dowsing as though it had never happened. And for the life of me, I swear no one else seems to have seen or heard him say these things but my roommate and I. That is no doubt a mystery and a feeling I will remember for quite some time.

And finally, the last part for this prompt: circle casting. I’ll be honest, I don’t perform circle casting in my own work. For one, I’ve been studying off-and-on with a Druid organization for some time that doesn’t utilize them in their ritual formats. But, more importantly I find them to be distracting and a waste of energy and time. Circles, to my understanding, function for a few general purposes:

  1. To contain and thereby magnify energy raised during a working until it comes time to release it at the end of the ritual.
  2. To protect the individuals within and the magical working from the influence of any nasty / negative energy.
  3. To create a sort of liminal and marked out place in which a ritual can occur and entities (spirits, gods, whatever) may be more easily contacted.

However, as I’ve mentioned above, I don’t generally feel a need to do this. For starters, I always cleanse a place before I use it, and if appropriate might make small offerings to any outside spirits that might be poking about to say “Hey, please let me use this space for a bit.” I don’t perform rituals in places where negative energy is hanging about, and I certainly am confident enough in my own ability to raise and manipulate my own energy to not feel a need for the circle of protection, or the circle that focuses energy in an external space. I also work with many liminal deities. I think it’s very safe to assume I don’t need liminal space for them to get messages across. When I do a particular magical working, my own personal energy field acts in the way a circle might: raising, containing, and releasing energy for my working. It eliminates the need for a physical circle- which means less time/resources marking it out, and I don’t need to cut a door in it should I forget something (which I often do!). It also helps hone in my focus on the working at hand. I often find that by the time I draw and cast a circle, call the quarters, etc. I’m quite distracted from what I was originally intending to accomplish.

Please note, I’m not bashing on anyone who uses circles. They can be quite useful to one’s practice especially when you’re just beginning! I just don’t feel a need to use them.

And, thus concludes a very long blog post. Thank you for hanging in there and reading if you’ve made it this far.

Love and blessings to you all
-Rachel

Winter Break: Looking Forward

The semester is at its end, and that means that Yule is fast approaching. The Fall 2016 semester has been, without a single doubt, the hardest and most taxing semester for me emotionally, spiritually, etc. since my first semester at college (and maybe even fall of last year and all associated drama). My academic courses were challenging, and I experienced a total upheaval of some things within my own interpersonal relationships; that is the reason for my relative silence on the blog over the last several months. I’ve lost a couple of people along they way- and fallen short on a lot of projects that I’d hope to have going throughout the course of this semester. At times lately, it feels as though I’ve sort of pushed myself back to zero- but I know better. I’ve learned a great deal about myself in regards to my own limits, thoughts, means of self-expression, etc. And I’ve learned a great deal in the terms of time management, dealing with other people, and more.

I’ve seen a few posts floating around that explained how, numerologically, 2016 was a ‘9 Year’: a time for dramatic changes, the shaking up of foundations, etc. I know that nationally (as an American), and globally, I’ve seen that to be true; although I won’t comment on politics and the like here (I don’t feel as though I’m well-informed enough, and quite frankly, that wasn’t my hopes for this post). And, as I’ve indicated above, I’ve seen a great deal of this theme of loss, chaos, change, etc. in my personal life as well. 2017, however, is meant to be a ’10 Year’: one for new beginnings and fresh starts. I’m really hoping that holds true as I look at what a mess is still sort of left over from this year.

As ready for a rest from 2016 as I am- as much as I want to just close my eyes and find some form of peace as we creep into the holiday season- I know that I must be more mindful than that. This past Full Moon (12/14/16) in Gemini reminded me that rest is important- but so is mindful release of all that negative crap that might still be lingering. As this final month of 2016 starts to wind towards its end, I find myself needing to look both at my past (to synthesize what has happened, to finalize those lessons learned, and to determine which things need to continue into the future), and to the future. So many changes are coming for me within the first few months of 2017. I’ll be starting my final semester of college (this time with a significantly larger amount of time to myself which I’ll have to learn how to handle), I’ll be graduating and taking those first steps into the ‘real adult world’, and moving over one thousand miles away to live in Florida with my boyfriend of four years. There is a great deal of planning to be done if these things are to be done successfully.

In the coming weeks, I’m going to be journaling about all of these things, and coming up with new plans for my personal practice, this blog, and my YouTube channel for the coming year. I was not as active here as I had hoped to be, and I’m hoping some better planning and reevaluating of where I’m at will help to change that in 2017.

Until next time,
Rachel

Updates: Nov. 7th, 2016

Things have finally slowed down enough for me to sit down and write. I’ve spent several weeks away from my blog and YouTube despite a number of plans I’d had for various projects. The Universe, it seemed, had other intentions for me.

My Wylde Hunt Challenge fell short. I didn’t quite get off on the proper footing, and each attempt to keep it going sort of followed suit. Many of my personal creative projects fell to the wayside as well. I’m a little bummed. Autumn is usually such a productive time for me; this Autumn felt like a bit of a train wreck.

On the New Moon at the end of September, I decided to perform a ritual to cut away a lot of the negative aspects of self that were destructive and causing me suffering- old patterns that no longer served me and where I would like my practice to go.

The ritual consisted of me creating sacred space. Within it, I called upon the Hunt, on Herne as its leader and my patron, and upon Yew- the black dog and guide that has been in my dreams and meditations since this summer. I asked them to help me ‘hunt’ down those parts of self, to slay them, and to help me carry them away in the days to come so that I might move on from things which are no longer serving me. It was part shamanic journey, and part physical. The poppet I had made to represent that which I wanted to ‘hunt’ was destroyed, and lain atop my clan tartan scarf (to reflect ancestral ties), and a little bundle of dried cedar and lilies from my home. It remained there for a week, until I could finally burn them and bury them in the earth in the ravines.

The evening I set out to burn them, things got very strange. The Hunter seemed a bit angry, aggressive- quite truly terrifying to me at the time. Some items I meant to burn and bury wouldn’t, and I was really quite confused and frustrated for a while following what was supposed to be the conclusion of my ritual… Now that I’m looking back, I’m seeing that there was a period of darkness that was necessary before rebirth was possible: just like Samhain marks the witches’ New Year, but we do not see that change and that return of light until much later.

In the couple of weeks between that rite and Samhain, it felt as though everything just fell apart. I had a temporary falling out with a close friend, another longtime companion went to prison; my family cat was put down; I made decisions that tore me apart until I was finally able to admit them… I fell behind on school work, on personal chores, and especially in my practice. Some of it wasn’t resolved until a couple of evenings ago. Sometimes, you just need a friend to drag you into the woods with a sage bundle and mead until you end up coming to the conclusions you need.

Things aren’t perfectly fixed, but they’re getting better. I really feel like what I need to power through the rest of this school year has finally come. The Hunt no longer feels threatening, the shadows that needed addressing have been addressed- and those that needed to be have been laid to rest where they belong. School work has still been keeping me busy, and I’m therefore hesitant to make promises of any further projects or regular posting until the semester has reached its end.

I’m looking forward to the Winter months- and hoping they hold a much smoother time than Autumn did. Plans have just been begun for Yule with the witchy tribe, and I’m feeling a lot better about making it through this semester and onward towards graduation and beyond.

Here’s hoping you all had a wonderful Samhain, and that the months to come are full of magic, love, and prosperity.

Forest Blessings,
Rachel

P.S. For the month of November, I will not be offering my tarot service on the Full Moon. I’ve got too many things due between now and the Thanksgiving Break to do so. I’m very sorry I forgot about it for October and will not be able to do so for November. I should be returning with it come December, though.

A Tarot Spread: The Wylde Hunt

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Shown here: The Wildwood Tarot

Hello, all. I promised myself I would do some more posting this week, and school and the like got a bit crazy. However, I do have this to share with you guys: a tarot spread I designed based on the Wylde Hunt.

The Hart: Describes the goal you are/ perhaps should be pursuing

The Hounds: These cards represent what things/people might help you in the pursuit of your goal. They help you to ‘sniff out’ and track your progress, and assist in bringing you to your goal.

The Forest/Environment: This position describes external forces that might be affecting your pursuit of this goal: possible obstacles OR favourable conditions.

The Hunter: You in this situation, and how you are handling the hounds and your environment in pursuit of this goal.

The Arrow: The action you should take to really cement your success and ensure your goal is met.

What goals and dreams are you pursuing? What is it your soul is searching for? And what things will help you along your way?

Forest Blessings,
Rachel

Collected Poems of the Wylde Hunt

Below are a number of poems I wrote, mostly on my older blog, about the Wylde Hunt. I thought I’d share them all here!

The Hunter’s Horn

Can you hear the Hunter’s Horn,

Sounding in the forest deep?

Can you hear the pounding of hooves

When night creeps in and people sleep?

In the dark night can you feel

That rush of wind- that fleeting chill?

Standing in the night-time wood

What will be his latest kill?

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Image found here.

The Hunters’ Chase

Tripping o’er the roots and stones,

Slipping in the mud and scattered leaves I run-

The horde thundering after me.

Heart pounding in rhythm with their drums

I carry on through darkened forests deep

Horns and bays of hounds

Tear through the trees after me.

Silver slivers the moonlight glimmers down

Through barren branches

Lighting there upon the path

Leading me deeper.

Drum beats faster

The flight continues.

Will I live or will I die?

Hunter’s horn is sounding closer

Behind, I hear their haunting cry,

But won’t look back now o’er my shoulder

Won’t turn around; I cannot stop

The pounding rumbles; it’s all I hear

They plan to chase until I drop.

Thrilling ever is the chase

That leads I know not where.

But were I to lose this frenzied race

What things would

Meet me

There?

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Image found here.

Call of Herne

Hazy-eyed dreamer

You long to be

In the tangled wood

Amongst the trees

To feel the pulse

The forest’s charm

That pounding, that burning

The hunters’ drums

Starry-eyed poet

Arise! Awake!

The Hunter calls you

Your future to take!

Lose yourself

To the wild, the thrall

Join the riders

And the squall

Curious wanderer

You’ve come too far

Can you still see

Those distant stars?

Forget the path

The way you came

Join us now

Where there is no shame

Hazy-eyed dreamer

In your gaze I see:

Your fate is set

You belong with me.

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Asgårdsreien (1872) by Peter Nicolai Arbo

Whispers of the Autumn Court

You’ve heard us your whole life

That raspy whispering from the trees that beckons and tells you

You’re one of us…

You were afraid once

The unknown darkness overwhelmed you

Above all sense of truth you found in our words.

So we waited

Our eyes boring holes in your soul

Holes that would open into gaping wounds as you struggled

Desperately to find answers to your own darkness that came

Flowing out in roaring waves, crashing and cascading

Until you could see now in dazzling horror

The darkness that dwelt within.

The path gone before you, you stumbled into our realms.

Ours was the world of dankness and seeping chill

Of rot and decay beneath the vibrant greens

Of flash-fire autumns that gave way quickly to winter’s barren bones.

Your fingers clawed in the earth

The hoof beats of hunters drew near- a sense of foreboding you had not yet learned to hear.

You’re one of us, we told you…

Renewed strength- or was it adrenaline?- you ran

Thorny branches tearing limbs and cloth,

Thick roots tripping, ripping foot and calf and shin

The horns bellowed, the hunter rode fast

And you clung to the gleaming lights that sometimes came down from the trees

Baying hounds harried you, close to brink of exhaustion

We called out: Do not fear! Do not run!

For you are just as we are.

Escalating into a clamorous cacophony the chase of hound and hunter grew closer, closer…

Until you found yourself in the hunter’s arms

Pressed against his chest as darkness drew in around you

And in his embrace you saw us clearly

Glowing eyes blinking under tree and fern

We are darkness and dampness

We are nibblers at bone and gnawers of flesh

We are decay and rot, flash-fire brightness and brittle shells

We are hunters and slinkers in dank forest shadows

Rooted deep in the mysteries of death and decay

And the last breaths of life

Fascinating and undeniably terrible…

And you

Are one of us…

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Image found here.

Return of the Wylde Ones

Stained in shades of bloody red and orange rust

The leaves drift down silently

Beneath the squall of crows-

Hidden in the occasional thud! of fallen acorns-

Something is awakening.

The air is scented with death,

The smell of rotting leaves, moist in the dark soil.

The breeze brings chill,

Moans through branches growing ever more barren

The insects have turned into their silent places-

No cicadas or crickets to be heard anymore.

As I stand in the wooded grove,

The quiet of the forest

And shimmering last rays of golden sun

Wrap me in their embrace.

Peace can be found here, but something lingers

A bitter taste on the air of something yet to appear.

The wind dies, the silence occasionally punctuated by another

Thud! Snap!

More nuts and twigs falling to the forest floor…

The darkness settles, and I sense what had slumbered there begin to awake.

Glimmering, coal-black eyes peering from roots and mushrooms

A teeming of life that had been hidden

In the radiance of the daylight’s fading gold.

These were the wild ones.

The creatures of folktale and legend,

Those our mothers would warn us of.

They watch me with a curiosity,

Resting there in the dark amongst the trees.

But something else is coming

Another force approaches…

At first they are dull, hardly distinguishable from the pattering of acorns

But then, it registers on the edges of my awareness:

Hoof beats coming from the deeper trees

The Hunt has come to ride again.

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Image found here.

Riding With the Hunt
The leaves above me rustle and whisper, glints of golden sunlight filtering through an opulent canopy of orange and gold. Now and then, a creature scurries by in the undergrowth and fallen leaves. Though the sun is setting quickly, there is a certain sense of peace in the quiet of the woods. The winding ravine paths lead me to the edge of a jagged cliff, looking down into the tumbling depths where a river once flowed. A gust of wind catches my jacket and scarf, laughing, almost threatening to send me over the edge on which I stand. That’s when I catch it: the subtle drone on the breeze, as if a horn was being blown off in some distant part of the wood.

Stillness follows. Branches creak, almost from the burden of motionlessness- as if the very act of remaining still for too long will cause their limbs to weaken and break. Acorns fall with quiet thuds as the muteness creeps in. A lone whisper of a breeze blows past my ear: “You are one of us… Come and ride amongst our ranks…” With a smile, I nod, closing my eyes and allowing myself to be carried away.

In the arms of hunters, I soar over the crimson wood. Further up, I can see the Grand River as it cuts through the forested landscape, carving its way towards the city and beyond. My stomach turns in the way it might on a rollercoaster. We tumble through autumn breeze and storm cloud, laughing in the madness of it all. First a burst of icy fog, then a swirl of leaves caught from a tree nearby, leaping into darkened damp masses of cloud that rumble at our touch. Then, as suddenly as it began, I am plunging downward again, careening towards the forest and the ravines from which I had risen. We fall down, down through branches both barren and gilded, down past barky trunk and forest creature and into the depths of soily crag and dampened slope.

My consciousness returns to my physical form with a gasp. Eyes wide, I see that darkness has fallen around me. The ghostly whispering breeze blows gently past. In its wake, leaves scuttle ‘round my feet, muttering a raspy farewell. For now, I must leave the realm of root and rot, of moss and bark, for the land of brick and steel. I know, however, that this place will be awaiting my return…

Autumn Equinox & The Hunt- Reaping & Release

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The Autumnal Equinox, or Mabon, is only a few short days away now. One of my earliest memories of this particular sabbat is of my old high school group clustered in a tiny grove of pine and cedar trees, moving counter-clockwise to banish any remaining ‘funk’ before we descended into the colder, winter months. After all, who wanted to head into darker months holding onto a bunch of negativity? I think we’d gotten the rite from one of the Sweep novels, to be completely honest, but something about it felt strangely poignant then, and still does now. As the leaves redden, deaden, and fall, so too should any of the negativity that I’m holding onto before the dark of Samhain and Winter arrive.

It is a time for laying to rest that which does not serve me, and for acknowledging that the part of the year had come when my creativity’s peak is reaching its end. Between Beltane and now, I generally have a great deal of motivation for different projects, adventures with friends, making physical things, etc. Mabon marks a turning inward. From here on out, until that time comes once again, my focus is more inwards, more on personal work than on outward creativity.

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But the equinox is equally about calling to me the strength I’ll need to journey on through the darker months as well. The coming months are usually more deeply reflective; they reveal many things about myself, and can be trying in ways that rest of the school year is not. These are the days when I’ll need those deep reserves of inspiration, motivation, faith, etc.- particularly when my path feels stagnant.

This year, as I’ve been working more specifically with the Hunt, I’m planning to call upon them for assistance. I’ve explained in blogs and videos recently that I work with them as sort of psychopomp-like entities. They can assist when things feel as though they’re going nowhere. Within the next couple of days, I’ll likely be doing a small ritual to honor them and begin this process.

Wishing you all the best in your own reaping and laying to rest this harvest season,
~Rachel

Projects for the Fall 2016

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Autumn is finally here. The weather is starting to get cooler and more rainy, little patches of red can be seen amongst the vastness of the Grand Valley Ravines, and the sense of change and that darker part of the year can be felt in the air.

The autumn is quite literally my favorite part of the year, partly because my inner goth-kid/tormented-soul-artist loves the gloomy weather, and partly because of the deep spiritual lessons that can be learned during this season. It is a season of transformation, of vibrant expression, of death, release, reaching inward to those places that are in need of healing, in need of communication, in need of acknowledgement. It’s the deep, raw, shadow-work-y part of the year, and often where I get the most done in terms of my personal practice. Whereas summer is a vibrant, busy, explorative and creative time, autumn is like the phoenix song: a blazing, meaningful, time of the year where the biggest and baddest of the magical stuff gets done for me.

This year, I’ve tried to organize the chaos that usually ensues a bit, and I’ve narrowed a focus for what it is I actually want to work on through this period. My monthly tarot readings on the Full Moons will continue through this time, as will my normal blog updates and YouTube postings. However, I also plan to have one or two special projects going along the way as well.

autumn-wylde-huntThe first of these projects is what I’m calling “The Autumn Wylde Hunt Challenge”.  Basically, from the Full Moon this month until the Full Moon in October. For that period, I’m going to be focusing heavily on The Hunt, its place in my practice, how I relate to it at this time of the year, etc. etc. My posts during that time will be (for the most part) about these topics. They’ll be personal gnosis, folklore, history, poetry written by me, etc. I’m also making it a goal during this challenge to take a walk in the woods each Friday afternoon. I’m going to try and come up with a specific aspect of the Wylde Hunt to focus on for each of those walks- and do some blog/vlog reflections on them once they’ve been completed. I think it will really help me to cement my practice involving them, and figure out things that do/don’t work.

And of course, the October New Moon is just before Samhain. So, my second project (it’s still in the works in my head right now) is to utilize the waning moon energy, between the October Full Moon (10/16/16), and New Moon (10/30/16), to really play into that descent towards Samhain. More on this will come as it gets closer to that time.

I’m also debating (from a completely non-witchy standpoint) picking up on Inktober this year, and trying to do daily ink drawings throughout the month of October should I find the time to do so. Maybe I can tie it together with my shadow work plans and my Wylde Hunt challenge. 😉

At any rate, there’s lots coming up that I’m hoping to accomplish this fall, and I can’t wait to share it with you all.

Blessings,
Rachel

Tarot Readings: September 2016

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Hello, all! This is the monthly reminder that I do offer three free readings each full moon. The next will be about a week and a half from today, on September 16th, 2016.

As always, these free readings will include a picture of your reading, and a detailed interpretation of the spread. These will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis.

There are two methods by which you may contact me for this service: via the contact page on this blog, or via the “ASK” button on my Tumblr account. Please, in the greeting for your request include the month/year you are requesting a reading for (example: ‘Hi, I’m _______. I’d like to request a slot for the full moon of July 2016!’) so that I can keep them all separate in my inboxes. Then, feel free to leave me a question you’d like answered or a brief explanation of a situation you’d like a reading on. If you message me on Tumblr, please include an e-mail address to which I can send your reading once it is finished.

Some helpful tips are included on my tarot readings page on this blog. I hope to hear from some of you. ^_^

~Rachel