Sunday, February 27, 2011


We are having the most spectacular late winter storm tonight. There is thunder and lightening, pouring rain, and rolling fog. As soon as the booming began, my face was all a-grin. I peeked outside and saw the low-lying clouds settling just above the drifts of snow, and I couldn't resist.

I bolted outside, barefoot (but clothed, unfortunately), and lay on my back in the mud that had already formed in the path from house to garage. There was no interest in Journeying. I simply wanted to be there. Some unidentifiable, unexplainable thrill had overtaken me at the vision of my piece of earth rumbling and shrouded, lit only occasionally by the indigo spark of lightening. I could not see the stars. I could not make out the black silhouette of Mother Maple. There was only the whisper of mist across my skin and the wet embrace of the ooze beneath me. It was magnificent. (And cold.) I rose and ran through the rain until I stopped shivering. I listened to the cacophony of tinny pings as the billions of drops hit the metal roof over the patio. I let those billions of drops fall on my shoulders.

Then I fell to my knees in awe and worship.

It seems such a simple thing, really. Perhaps it's simply that there has been change that filled me up so with the wonder of it all. Just days ago the snow had fallen soft and still. There is so much quiet in the winter--not silence, but a hush. I love those days and cherish them for what they are, but tonight was something else entirely! My body is still humming with the stimulation. Sometimes it just seems so damn obvious that I need look no further than the very ground I stand on to find my reason for being and the spark that set my heart to beating.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Last night's dream was pretty standard and easily deciphered, but just before I woke I referred to myself as "the convergent blue herb." THAT threw me for a loop. I will have to ponder this further...

I am in a high school gymnasium watching a basketball game when my husband approaches and tells me he needs me to get something out of his pants. I raise my eyebrow as if to say, "really? Right here and now?" He reaches down the front of his jeans and pulls up the white inner lining of his pocket to show me that something is stuck on it. As I'm trying to scrape whatever it is off of his pocket, he continues to walk around the gymnasium, jumping off of bleachers and taking steps two at a time. Because he is so much taller than me, this makes my favor to him exceedingly difficult. I tell him that he is making things harder on me, but he just chuckles and continues on. I somehow manage to finish the task at hand and then spot my sister- and brother-in-law on the lawn. (The indoor gymnasium morphed into a hybrid gym and football field.) I vent to my sister-in-law, telling her how frustrated I am over the fact that I am a very physically active person who eats well and yet my husband, the couch potato, is bigger, stronger, and faster. She tells me that it is the same in her marriage. I turn back towards my husband, and that is when I say in a somewhat resigned manner that "I am the convergent blue herb." I consider my words for a very brief moment. Did I mean to say "herbalist"? No, what I said was correct.

Then I am awake. Obviously there are some frustrating inequalities in my marriage right now--*ahem*. I find it quite comical that my sister-in-law, with whom I have an extremely adversarial relationship in the waking world, is always exactly as I wish her to be in my dreams. Even in the dream the whole herb thing threw me.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Between the Worlds

'Tis the time of year when the Old Woman is beginning to lose her hold over the land and most certainly is raging against it. One day will be warm and sunny, and the next--like today--will bring with it a torrent of snow and ice. Still I will trudge out at every snowfall to offer her food and drink, but come the equinox, I'll have to do my part and shut the doors and windows against her until she returns with a more pleasant visage.

We spotted our first robin the same day that I received a small blessing from the Stag King, and three days ago the geese returned. My geese! I could feel their coming in my bones, but there was still a week of daily lookout before they arrived. If they'd allow me to throw my arms around their white-ringed necks, I would have.

Not all has been pleasant. My younger brother, my only sibling, was kidnapped and robbed at gunpoint as he left work last week. He came home physically unharmed, but it's been a harrowing time for all. When my agnostic and chronically skeptical brother comes to me for spellwork, I know things are that fucking bad.

This little family emergency has me struggling with an issue that has been nagging at me since my first out of body experience some years ago (four? five?). How does one live with a foot in each of two realities?

In a way I have it easier than some. I don't spend all of my time amidst the whisperings of strange spirits and unknowns, though those that are particularly close to me (Spider, Goose, and various deities) are a constant presence. Those times at which I feel I can no longer resist the pull are relatively few and far between (now; this was not the way at the beginning). On the other hand, when it's my time to go, it's a monumental struggle just to stay in my skin enough to go on autopilot to care for my little ones until bedtime. When you have four kids under the age of eight, not only can it be inconvenient and disheartening to them for their mother to suddenly not be totally there, it can be fatal. I've been through at least a hundred dreadful scenarios in my head. I get queasy just thinking about it.

I've often wondered if perhaps the reason I am pulled so violently into the Otherworlds is because I resist it so strongly. Am I, perhaps, supposed to be visiting more often? Truth be told though, I'm not always sure why I'm being pulled there as it is. (Am I supposed to admit that?)

For now I'm dealing with this by trying to be especially mindful and present when I'm not being compelled elsewhere. In the day-to-day goings on of my household and in the throes of family emergency, I am careful to just be there with those that I love and care for, to offer them what I can of myself without reserve. I am as much in their service as I am that of Hera or the Cailleach or the Stag King.

I also finally broke down and bought Trance-portation by Diana L. Paxson. I had browsed it before and felt rather ambivalent towards the bits I read, but a couple of friends who know about my particular trouble returning from my journeys over the Hedge have recommended it and say that the book specifically deals with returning. It's worth a shot, I suppose. I certainly have a lot to learn.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


O, Dionysos! You are a labyrinth! Throw me a yarn?

My first Anthesteria has come and gone. There was no deep connection to Dionysos or amazing epiphany, though I did feel the first gush of my menses as I opened the first overpriced bouquet of roses with which to decorate his altar. Mostly I felt that I was going through the motions, which was sort of odd because in the days leading up to the festival I was truly feelin' it. He was in each and every one of my dreams for a week, and my thoughts would turn to him often throughout my daily goings on. Still, I'm glad that I did it. After my November lucid dream/journey (uh, I somehow didn't document that on this blog, but you can read it here) I got the distinct impression that celebration for celebration's sake was very important to Dionysos. Not that that's all there will ever be, but it's a lesson I need to learn nevertheless.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Winter Harvest Day

My back felt nearly healed today, so of course I thought it would be a good idea to haul my ass and my four kids, bundled nearly beyond the point of recognition, out to my favorite "wild" spot to harvest poplar species buds. I become nervous to the point of insanity every year that I'll miss the bud harvest because Ohio late winter/early spring weather is nothing if not unpredictable and so is my schedule. Today was pretty perfect for this particular activity. We'd had enough of a warm-up to get the resin pushing from the buds, but today was extremely cold. The resin was mostly frozen, so tiny helping hands were spared the potentially sticky disaster.

Thus far, I've identified trees of two Populus species here in my little domain. The most common is the Eastern poplar (Populus deltoides), also known as the cottonwood. I've found that it is mostly the terminal buds of the cottonwood that carry the thick, healing resin that I am after. The second, much rarer species is the famed Balm of Gilead (Populus gileadensis), which may actually be a hybrid between the cottonwood and another poplar species. Either way, the buds are highly aromatic (great for incense!) and resinous.

The third bud I harvested brought with it the blessing of the Stag King--two coarse deer hairs frozen fast in the resin. I was overwhelmed with gratefulness.

The littles could only last fifteen minutes or so in the bitter cold, so our collection was much smaller than I'd hoped. As Fate would have it though, we had just the right amount of buds for the amount of olive oil I had at home. Score one for unpreparedness? I love it when things work out like that. Maybe I'll get to go back to the lake by myself this weekend and pick up some olive oil on the way...

Monday, February 7, 2011


No spring cleaning. No serpents. Hell, there wasn't even a candle in sight on Candlemas. So much for plans.

The Sunday before our planned celebrations, I was out picking up some last minute items for our festivities and for the impending storm. My husband was set to leave on an out-of-town business trip for four days, so I was very careful to go through my stockpile and be sure that I had everything I could need. Going anywhere with four kids is a trial, but going anywhere in an ice storm with four kids is murder-suicide. As I was collecting our milk, I felt a familiar twang in my back. I barely made it home.

Usually when my back goes out (I have chronic pain issues after a tailbone injury sustained at a Chuck E. Cheese when I was 10), I rest for a couple of days, apply some heat, and I'm back to my old self. This time? More than a week later my back is still unbelievably tender.

I barely slept from Sunday to Wednesday because of the pain, but when I woke on the morn of Candlemas I was determined to push through it. The first order of business was to make my regular offering to the Cailleach, which is done at every snowfall from Samhain to the vernal equinox. I grabbed some liquor, her portion of the breakfast oatmeal, and some bird seed (uh, for the birds). One step outside my back door, and I landed flat on my back. There was a growing mantle of ice on each and every step, and though I was being careful, the weight of my offerings in one hand threw me off just enough to send me down the slippery slope. Considering that my husband was out of town I was lucky to get back into the house, frozen and bruised. (Don't worry, I did manage to hobble out to the Cailleach's preferred offering site.)

And that was it. That was my Candlemas. I'm counting my clattering bones hitting the hard-packed snow as my wake up call to the spring serpents. The household altar is still waiting for me to refresh it, but it's up high to keep prying little hands out of things, which means I have to stretch to reach it. That's still a bit too painful.