The Long Way Home

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The past two weeks seem to be the longest two weeks ever.  Through the pandemic, the only places I have been are the grocery store, the woods, and hiking.  I haven’t been to North Carolina to visit my family since Christmas of 2019.  Yes, I talk to my mama every day or so…I text my nieces almost daily…I video chat with the babies every other week…but it just isn’t the same.  Hugs and kisses over video leave you feeling a little lackluster.

During this time of separation, I have been trying to be productive.  I have been studying, creating, building, searching.  One of the things I decided to try was Ancestry.com. I have been able to trace one side of my dad’s family back to the 1500’s in Nairn, Scotland.  Our surname has evolved many times over the years…centuries.  We have been Gaddy…then further back, Getty…the back further, Gettie…then before that, Goudie…and prior to that Gowdie.  I have traced my lineage back to an Isobel Gowdie….now whether or not that is the one and only Witch of Scotland, who knows.  It is a nice thought though.  It is nice to have a history.

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I have been studying a book called, “Scottish Witchcraft” by Barbara Margaret Meiklejohn-Free.  I have been pouring through the pages absorbing every morsel.  One area of the book speaks to ancestral magic.  She addresses the fact that there are blood ancestors (those you know) and unknown ancestors.  She speaks of finding her own connection to unknown ancestors and the journey that they led her through.  I have loved building a new ancestral altar separate from the one that I have for my blood ancestors.  It is an altar that holds the breath of Scotland and the Welsh countryside close.

During the full Strawberry moon and eclipse last night, I called upon those ancestors.  I could feel the power surging…I could hear their ancient voices on the wind as I stilled myself and prepared for what they wanted to teach me.  It was like I could feel myself walking the Scottish landscape and could sense them walking with me.  I could see the many standing stones as we weaved in and out…I could hear the lilt of their voices whispering ancient secrets.

 

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There is something to be said about walking the worlds with those whose spirits resonate with your own.  There is a familiarity and a magical feeling just knowing that you are part of the same clan, so to speak, but on completely different planes.

I have also been trying to go to the woods more.  There is something in me that craves that connection with nature.  Rituals under the patio or in the courtyard don’t hold the same power as sitting under a tree listening to the sounds around me with a small sand-filled cauldron with a candle burning and natural elements scattered around.  I have become a hoarder of bark, walnut casings, sticks, and rocks.  If it calls to me, it stays with me.

Lately, when I visit the woods in the early morning or close to dusk, I am visited by a young fox, a squirrel, and a crow.  The fox won’t ever get any closer than 20 or so feet away.  He’s always watching, but still seems comfortable enough to lie down where he is.  It’s almost as if he wants to be a part of the magic happening.  The squirrel on the other hand likes to play.  He or she is a mischievous little creature who seems to enjoy throwing black walnut hulls at me as I do my workings.  The crow, who I like to think is Mama crow, sits on perched in a tree about 10 feet away.  I can hear her cawing and of course, I answer back.  We are an odd group, but there is a camaraderie there.  A knowing that none in our circle is there to harm the other or interfere in the business of the other.  I am not one who feels the need to pursue the animals or call to them like pets.  If they speak, I answer back.

It has been important for me as of late to create many of my own tools.  I needed something that would make transport easy, so I created a potions/incense/tool case. It holds my favorite incenses, candles, snips, my mini Book of Shadows, my mandrake root, and a small athame…all the essentials.

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I have found that in the makings and workings as of late, that the feelings and needs that home and family provide are never that far away.  Through the ancestral workings, I have been introduced to the spirits of family that I never thought to engage before.  Being away from my homeplace for so many years, I have learned that home isn’t necessarily a building or a piece of land.  It is the feelings and spirit that you carry with you in every moment.  In every memory…in every working…I am more at home than I ever have been.

I guess what I took the long way around to tell you is:  Don’t be afraid of the unknown.  Don’t look at solitude as loneliness.  Utilize all that is within you and around you and you will never be that far away from the magic and purpose you are called to be a part of.

Blessed Be.

 

A Walk in the Woods

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This week’s blog was written by a friend whom I have come to deeply trust over the years.  He has become more of a brother to me than just a friend.  We have grown together in the Craft and I have watched him delve into Shamanism with a passion and hunger that can’t  be matched.  His talent with the tarot is amazing and his readings have always been on point.  Sit back and take a walk into the wooded world of my dear friend, Owl Sundown.

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This evening the woods are quiet. The rain earlier in the day, followed by the chilly air, has put a blanket of silence throughout the trees. All I can hear is the leaves crunching under my boots and the wind in the tree branches. I’m thankful for the chill in the air. It means winter is coming.

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I make my way through the path only I and the deer know about. I see my grove up ahead. It’s a small area of trees by the creek that form a natural circle and is hidden from view from most directions by thorn bushes and the honey locust trees.

I walk around to the other side of the trees, carefully picking my way through the thorny branches, finding the small path into the circle. This is MY place.

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I can feel the earth’s power radiating from the ground as I walk among the rocks I’ve placed as direction stones. I make my way to the center and close my eyes. I take deep breaths and smell the scents of the forest. I sit and feel the dirt in my fingers. Before long I sense THEM. Oh yes, they have made themselves known to me over the past 6 years.

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The spirits of place, the fae, nature spirits. They go by so many names but I just call them THEM. Before long I sense them move among my circle. They know that I honor them in this place. I have taken measures to make sure they are respected and honored in these woods. And in return they help and guide me. After communing with the Earth and them I leave honey, nuts, and bird seed among the stones and ruefully make my way back to civilization. Oh if I could just stay!

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 Most of us who walk a pagan path honor the Earth. Some of us honor the Goddess and the God. We may even honor animal spirits and totems. But I think we often fail to connect with the land where we live.

The land I live on has been in my family for over 75 years. I have lived on it for 25 and visited it for ten before that. And yet even when I embraced this way of life it was a few years before I really connected with the place where I lived. I constantly found myself daydreaming of Ireland, Scotland, England, and other amazing places and yet I was failing to see the magic in my own backyard.

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One day while I was walking through one of the paths on the back of the property (over 300 acres) I kept seeing something out of the corner of my eye. I thought maybe it was a deer or a bird flying between the trees. I kept walking and kept seeing it. I never could see it straight on but always from the corner of my eye. I felt like I was being watched. So, being the novice witch I was, I decided to call it in. I think I heard it laugh. Ha!

It wasn’t until a few months later that they made themselves known to me. Sometimes I see shadows, other times I see actual human-like figures, other times it’s just spirits. But they are there and they respect me as I respect them. It’s balance and give and take.

Now, by no means do I claim to know everything about these amazing people. This is just my experience and walking this path is definitely subjective. I usually turn and run if someone tells me, “It has to be this way!” No mam, it doesn’t. It’s how the Goddess, God, Great Spirit, Fae, Sprits of the Land, or whatever else comes to us and shows us.

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So here are some things that have helped me in my walk that allows me to commune with the spirits of the place.

1. Mindfulness of the land. Take initiative to take care of the Earth where you live. Pick up trash, plant flowers, help in whatever way you can.

2. Go out there, sit down, and just BE. If it’s in your apartment courtyard, your front yard, or even the potted plants on your patio. Put your hands in the dirt and allow yourself to just BE one with it.

3. Don’t force it. You will never know the spirit world by forcing yourself among it. Be respectful and let it happen in time.

4. Leave food and other things for the animals. Nuts, seeds, honey. Anything that they might like.

5. Fill your mind and spirit with the stories and myths of the area you live in. I live in an area that was populated by Cherokee and Choctaw tribes. Then my great grandmother and great aunt with their “old religion” from Ireland came and put there magic here as well. I fill my soul with the stories of those people. Give your mind and spirit something to draw upon as you continue to grow in magic.

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There is nothing more rewarding to me than spending time in my woods with “my people”. It is my hope that as winter comes on, wherever you may be, that you will find time to get quiet as the Earth goes quiet and touch the Otherworld. May you be blessed always.

Owl Sundown