As I sit here right now, I have a hot cup of mugwort and lemon balm tea sweetened with honey sitting in front of me. Tissues are scattered around the desk and I have Vick’s Vapor Rub under my nose. Yes, I know, not the witchy, swarthy version of the male witch that you have pictured. My partner and I went to my folks house for the holidays this weekend and there was such a change in weather….and of course, I had to spend time outside…so I caught a cold.
As we drove the country roads through North Carolina, I could feel my witchy blood dancing through my veins. I knew, without a doubt that I was going to get to spend time in my woods. Those woods are so much a part of me and who I am that it is like visiting an old friend who I haven’t seen in a month of Sundays.
The times I have been home lately have all been for funerals. So many family members and friends have passed over through this year. Always a whirlwind trip…flying up there, funeral, fly back. Even though this was a quick weekend trip, it was very relaxed. We stayed at my aunt’s house with her and her five dogs….so I got all the puppy lovin’s I needed…and it helped me not to miss my dogs so much.
Late Saturday afternoon, I decided that it was time to socialize with my old friend. I had taken my backpack with me and filled it with all my altar items, including my cloak and skulls. I started on the trek to the woods but it didn’t seem right without at least one animal companion by my side. It is funny how the gods and goddesses make the necessary arrangements for us ahead of time. My dad found two kittens a few weeks back and got them good and tamed up and made them into comfortable little barn cats. I am not talking about a stark, cold barn. I mean inside heating and nice comfy beds….I couldn’t have done better myself.
As I walked into the woods, these two little furballs were right on my heels….one, a little black and white..the other, solid white. The black and white one tangled himself around my feet more than once, forcing me to try not to fall face forward. I decided that it was time to cleanse and dedicate my skulls once again. What better place than my home soil and what better time than the Winter Solstice? I dug holes deep enough to place each skull in and placed the crow and wolf skull gently into the earth and then covered them with the surrounding soil. I prayed a blessing over them. The kittens played contently around me. The little white one walks over to where the skulls are buried and pats gently at the dirt.
I sat there in the midst of my woods and watched. I knew deep inside that there would be a crow somewhere close. I looked into the trees and sure enough, I was greeted by that hard brash caw. I greeted her with the same greeting I use in the courtyard back home. I closed my eyes and could feel my years melting away. I was once again the young boy who sat in the pasture or in the woods talking to the animals…listening to them as they shared their wisdom.
As the dark approached, I could see the Christmas lights of neighboring farms in the distance. Peace came over me like no other time before. I breathed in that feeling that can only come from the elements. I opened my eyes and I was surrounded. It was a funny sight. Here I was sitting in the middle of the woods with cats, goats, chickens and a cow all standing around me. I finished my ritual with them standing near and then wished them all a blessed Solstice. A night of peace and comfort and familiarity…all sent to me as reminder that sometimes you have to take those roads back to where you started, if only to rekindle what brought the heart forward from that point.
This morning, Christmas Eve, I went to the woods here behind the condos. I had my backpack and skulls and candles and cloak….and one little blue chihuahua. Friz was feeling particularly frisky this morning and as we got to the edge of the woods, he wouldn’t budge. I stood there trying to get him to move, but then as that calico kitten (who is not so small anymore), ambled up beside him…he moved on.
I settled onto the cold ground. I put the skulls in the places that felt right and lit the candles. I placed the crystals carefully around them. I burrowed down inside my cloak and was oblivious to the two little critters I had burrowing into it too. As I sit there, I breathe out Christmas blessings into the wind for those dear to me. I hear very loud purring coming from underneath my cloak and feel warm fur next to me. I am also greeted by the snores and wrigglings of that blue chihuahua. I watch in wonder as my wishes and prayers fly toward the heavens like reverse snowflakes. Again, Mama Crow squawks in the distance.
She reminds me that this season is about the rebirth of the sun. It is about renewal in us. Is it any wonder that the animals came to me in my woods back home? This is the season of the horned one. Is it any wonder that we crave time indoors by the hearth fires and with trees lighted with magickally colored bulbs. It is the season of the hearth fires. It is that time of year that we long for the light of the sun.
My wish for you during this holiday season…..nothing more or less than Peace. Peace with yourself, those around you, your decisions, your dreams, your shortcomings….in all if these things I wish you peace.