The other day I decided to do an Intuitive Healing Session with my daughter who has been experiencing stomach upset and digestive disruptions. Though I know the cause is my diet (I lapsed into eating cow-milk dairy again and haven’t finished cutting out gluten), I wanted to try and give her some (hopefully) immediate relief while waiting for these food stuffs to move their way out of my system and thus out of my breastmilk.
Triple and double terminated Quartz points, yellow citrine points, orange (carnelian), red (tiger’s eye and I believe a jasper), brown and black (tiger’s eye and onyx) stones; white rabbit skin and two feathers; Tibetan singing bowl and (not pictured) a hand made blue ceramic bowl with water.
After calming her down some, I lay her down and situated my stones. I moved different stones around as I felt called to during the session, sometimes having stones on her belly. I started with rotations on the singing bowl [tap four times, continuous tone, repeat for a set of four]. I did some abdominal section acupressure/reflexology on both feet and leg bicycles. Then I did what is often called a “shamanic extraction”. Wherever you feel a dark tar-like or ink-like “ick” you visualize drawing it out (I do it on the breath) and placing it into a bowl of water. Continue to do this until it feels gone. I then did some more work with the crystals, drawing intuited symbols on her belly with the citrine points before “drawing down and out”. At this point she was happy and laughing and kicking around.
I visualized myself as the Bear Priestess/Shaman, as I have been initiated into by Grandmother Bear. In my mind’s eye I wore the bearskin headdress and bear claw jewelry I had been gifted in the Astral. I called again on The Great She-Bear, The Healer, Ursa Major– she who guides us to the Northlands, the lands of my people. I called on the Bear Priests from the line of my people. On their knowledge and power to rid my daughter of all pain and discomfort and digestive problems and replace the feelings in her tummy with joy.
I ended with a round each of the singing bowl for ‘clearing’ for her and myself, then took bowl of ‘extraction water’ and dumped it onto the earth outside. I asked that the earth receive it, cleanse it, and renew it, that all negative emotions and sickness be dispelled.
So far she seems to be quite a bit relieved as far as any stomach issues/digestive colic is concerned~
I know it has been awhile since either of us have posted anything, a couple months really, but things have been rather busy and well, other things have simply taken priority. However, I have been wanting to talk more about ‘pagan homesteading’ and our current urban-homesteading journey, and again… haven’t found the time. Hopefully posts will come more often now that we are teaching and getting some things underway. Today’s post, is one of Life & Death, and gives a bit of a window into what it means to be a Bonekeeper (my–Wren’s– personal path-title).
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Homestead Diary Entry
July 27, 2015
Two weeks ago we welcomed three young female ducks into our family. Two days ago chicks began hatching underneath the ruffled feathers of our broody hen Golden. And today, today we ended the day honoring the Dead. In the afternoon, upon realizing I had forgotten a sprinkler on, I headed out to turn off the water. And while doing so, had the thought that I should go check in on our two small hatchlings (only two, so we had thought, had hatched out of 12 eggs). As I walked towards the coop, I noticed the smaller coop door ajar for the second day in a row, and then I saw a pile of… something… off to the side of the coop, and for a split second thought it was the red hen that had been missing for two days now. The landowner’s dog skirted by me, head down, tail tucked and slightly wagging. And then as I neared the pile of what was, yes, feathers—and lots of them, I realized it was not the red hen. Nor was it a hen at all. It was one of my ducks. At that moment I began to panic, and could hear no others squabbling as they should be. I rounded the other side of the coop and found the broody hen jammed part way under the coop trying to get into the fence, making quite a ruckus, her two chicks tucked up under her against the wiring instead of nestled safely in the coop where they should have been. Looking past her I saw another pile of grey-brown feathers. A second victim. But where was the third? For a split second I hoped she had gotten away somehow, escaped into the hedgerow. But then I thought… and I opened the larger door to the coop. There lay the body of our third duck. My heart sank like a stone.
Because there were yellow jackets and hornets buzzing around the carcasses, I had to wait until dusk to move them for burial. My anger at the dog began to be replaced by a welling-up of grief. Tears finally came, running down my cheeks. He knew he had done wrong, and I took him up to the inner yard and leashed him to a pole until I could deal with the situation. I was definitely going through the “Stages of Grief”, and pretty quickly. Coming back up to the house my small son met me with worry on his face. “What’s wrong mama?” he asked. And I told him. Because why should we hide the ways of living and dying from our young children? He had already experienced his own dog killing a chicken when we first arrived here, he could know about this. With his adorably simplistic child-logic, he informed me “That’s ok mama, we’ll just go back to the farm and get some more duckies and then everything will be ok.” I didn’t want to make him upset and tell him that no, we probably shouldn’t get more, and just held him and let him hug me. When Midnight came home a short while later and I went to go show him what had transpired, I discovered a fourth body: that of a new chick. I don’t know where it came from, as I hadn’t noticed it the last two days, and I don’t know how it died, but its tiny black and white body lay limp in the back of the coop, and simply added to my sadness.
At dusk came the task of Bonekeeping. However we found that our parched earth, even the ground beneath the massive walnut tree beyond the coop where green grass still grew shaded from the scorching sun, our shovel could not break the surface, and what little digging was accomplished, was interrupted by roots of that massive giant. There would be no burying these feathered creatures here, where we had laid to rest a songbird a couple months before, nor anywhere. And so, befitting birds that were as wild at heart as they were—they had come to us untamed—we lay them to rest on a bed of freshly cut wild blackberry vines at the back of the property along the creek. Buried with them were our offerings—blackberries, plums, and four apples from our trees—to feed their spirits on their journey across to the Otherworld. Another layer of thorny vines atop them, and more fruit, along with a rustic bouquet of Queen Anne’s Lace flower umbels, red clover blossoms, wheat, and a sprig of pink-petal blackberry blossoms.
Father and child left me in the faux-silence of the twilight, to say my words and do my work. At first I could do nothing but apologize. For bringing them here only for it to end in their deaths, for not keeping them safer, for the small chick who had not even known life. Then I breathed deep the intoxicating scent of creek-water and vine-ripening blackberries. I raised my hands, and spoke.
Befitting creatures of water, we lay you to rest here on the creek-bank.
Befitting creatures with wild spirits, we wrap you in thorned blackberry vines.
May they deter molestation by creature, wild or tame, unless that is the way She will take you.
We give our offerings, harvested from this land that was your home for a short time,
That they may feed your spirits on their journey Across to the Otherworld.
My Lord of Beasts, please take their spirits into your fold, into your eternal forest. May they be at peace.
My Lady of Bones, devour their flesh, may the earth swallow their remains that they be reborn from the world anew.
May you rest in peace. May your journey be swift.
And as I will it, so mote it be.
And before I walked away, I petitioned the Spirits. “Spirits of Place, please protect them, keep them safe, and aid their spirits on their way to the Otherside. I ask this of you, with many thanks.” Again I breathed deeply the scent all around me. Two wild ducks flew overhead, crickets sang from the hedgerow, the last calls of birds fighting the coming darkness echoed from the trees nearby. And I began to cry again, my heart heavy and aching, my mind weary. Two tears fell to wet my cheeks, and so I wiped them away and flicked them onto the thorny grave before walking away.
The time has come. Finally, it has come. And everything comes crashing down around me with the furry of a storm off the eastern sea. And yet it is not total destruction, it is simply the energy needed to shift the sands and shape the world anew. Our world. The sand beneath our feet. There is a tidal wave rising, swelling, pulsing within my chest, struggling to burst the seawall that it may wash over everything and cleanse it. Bringing with it new life, healing energy, and creation out of the destruction of the old it has laid waste to. Our old patterns, our old life, our old home, is being swept away. But it is being replaced by potential, new starts fresh out of the damp spring-sun warmed soil. It is being replaced by a new home, new plans (or shifting kaleidoscope images of old plans), new risks and new patterns, and new life.
For like the seeds stirring in the dark womb of the earth as the strength of the sun returns and the buds leap forth onto branch and limb, so to does life quicken within mine own womb. For so long I had fought it, for so long we toiled over the labor of preventing life, of keeping my dark earth barren. For so long I whispered to the dark– please, not yet. Please, not again. I made bargains and pleaded, asking for this or that to be in place first. And once the Universe finally dumped those things so unexpectedly into our laps, not a handful of days later did Universe also see fit to set life to stirring in my belly. I suppose I got what I asked for. Funny how those things go. But I am thankful. For it all. For the chaos, for the turmoil, for the sadness, for the joy, for the uncertainty, for the dreams, for life. I am grateful.
And yet, as I look around this place that I have called my home for so many years, I realize that as much as I have fought and reached for a place beyond here… I have made roots here. They have begun to reach deeper into the earth here than I realized. Seeds had even begun to be planted and sprout here. This place is home, and yet now we must say good-bye. To Place and Land and Sea and Home and Spirits and Friend and Family… we must say good-bye. Honey and oil and milk and blood have been given here, we have awoken Spirits here who know us and love us as almost kin… and we must say good-bye. My heart aches with a pain I had not expected nor prepared myself for. My belly tightens with anticipation and fear, and uncertainty. And tears of longing and grief pour from my eyes onto sand and soil. How do you say good-bye? How do you prepare to part ways from a Spirit that has loved your child and protected house and land and has seen birth and death in your family, and stood sentinel for it all. How do you say good-bye to an ocean that has baptized you into mysteries still being unraveled, that has taken your whispers and tears and whishes to its depths, that has fed you and kept you as its own for so long… I don’t know. But it is time to say good-bye.
When they ask to see your gods
your book of prayers
show them lines
drawn delicately with veins
on the underside of a bird’s wing
tell them you believe
in giant sycamores mottled
and stark against a winter sky
and in nights so frozen
stars crack open spilling streams
of molten ice to earth
and tell them how you drank
the holy wine of honeysuckle
on a warm spring day
and of the softness
of your mother
who never taught you
death was life’s reward
but who believed in the earth
and the sun
and a million, million light years
This post is long overdue, but being a parent– life often gets in the way of things like blogging. This post was spurred by a few things, namely seeing some other pagans/witches discussing whether or not prepubescent children should be involved in magic and ritual, or even exposed to it at all; and also just based on my own experiences with our toddling son.
In regards to the former, it actually stunned me quite a bit to see people discouraging others from involving children, or even exposing them, to their religious/spiritual/magical practices. But I think that this stance is based in the fact that many of us who consider ourselves pagan and/or witches were raised Christian. Many of us (I could comfortably say most of us) were raised from infancy in the faith of our parents, who in most cases vehemently pressed such beliefs upon us and forbade us (directly or indirectly) from studying and/or practicing other religions. And for many of us, the shift from Christianity (or similar monotheistic, patriarchal, majority-religion) to paganism and/or witchcraft was a rough one. Some of us were lucky and had parents who supported us in our journey (I was not one of those lucky ones, quite the opposite). But the majority of us have been imprinted with this natural tendency to shy away from the idea of ‘teaching’ (read: forcing) a religious or spiritual practice on our children. And I understand this, but I don’t agree with it.
There is a difference between raising a child surrounded by your faith(s)/practices and involving them in it and encouraging their spiritual growth– wherever that may lead them, and telling your children that they must follow these set beliefs, are required to participate in these certain practices, and are discouraged from/forbidden from learning about, studying, or practicing any other beliefs. And this doesn’t just apply to Paganism vs. Christianity. It can also apply to various Paths within Paganism… yes I am talking to those of you who may practice a “white-light, harm none” path whose children may grow up to practice Luciferian Witchcraft, or Voodoo (and vice versa). We should treat our children the way we wish our parents had treated us: raise them in a healthy, open-minded household, and encourage them to learn about other spiritual and religious practices and support them if they decide to follow some such path.
We are raising our son to have a healthy respect and deep reverence for the earth and its inhabitants, to be aware of and connected to the cycles of the world around us and our part in the web of life, to know that magic and spirits are real and encourage his own psychic abilities, etc. We involve him in ritual and magical practice whenever we can– and he is only going on three. He loves to help, and even if he doesn’t quite understand why we’re doing something, or what something means, he can understand some things to an extent, and is being exposed from an early age. When he talks to something that is ‘invisible’ to mama or daddy, or points at things flying about while daddy is meditating with the Owl spirit, we pay attention and listen and encourage him. We don’t tell him nothing is there, or he is making it up. When the dark scares him, we ask why. We don’t say there’s nothing there, just because we can’t see it. When I smudge new items, or give offerings to the Spirits, he helps me. There are so many ways to involve small children in ritual and daily practice. Especially if you yourself can blend the mundane and the sacred, your children are already programmed to be this way. The possibilities are endless. Children can help with their own altar, can learn meditation at a very young age, they can help with smudging (being careful of embers of course) and offerings, they can be taught old folk tales and rhymes (this is common in Waldorf-style education) for everything from greeting the sun to baking bread to talking about the moon or Autumn. You can teach them about the seasons and where their food comes from– and to give thanks for it– from a very small age. Pray over your food with your children, in your own way. Mealtime prayers aren’t just for Christians, and praying over food and water blesses it for your consumption and can be a chance to give thanks. Take your children outside every chance you get, let them touch trees and put their toes in the ocean. If they suddenly want to say hi to a tree in a parkinglot, encourage them. They can sense that spirit, and want to connect with it. Learn from your children, follow their lead.
This Patheos blogpost has some good information on ‘planning’ (or rather, the lack thereof) of ritual with small children, of following their lead, and ritualizing everyday activities. As children get older, of course they can be actively involved even more. And I feel like this should be normal, and their curiosity and skills cultivated. Children are always learning, and learn by example. Try and surround yourself with other pagan families, and celebrate together! Take your kids on forest-walks together, teach them about mushrooms and trees and meditation. Do pagan-y crafts and child-friendly rituals. Older children can be given roles in ritual. And as they get older, they will grow more curious, and you can teach them about other religions past and present, different, spiritual practices, etc. Take your children to events and gatherings! We just took our son with us to the Central NC Pagan Pride and he did wonderfully, and there were other small children there as well. (However if we go next year to vend and teach, he might stay home with grandma.) There are tons of resources out there and stories/blogs about pagan families and involving children in practice, and don’t be afraid to share yours!
We’d love to hear about how you involve your children in your magical practice, leave a comment below or send us an e-mail. We’re also looking for contributions to the Pagan Parenting column of our newsletter [provide us your e-mail to be added to the mailing list!], and have an on-going blog post compiling pagan homeschooling and pagan parenting resources, here.
This is going to be an on-going post updated as I find new information, resources, and websites to add to it. This is partly for my own records, but also for sharing with others. Our son is only 2.5 but it is never too soon to start “education”. We are keen to the “un-schooling” movement, and I am also a fan of Waldorf education, and being homeschooled myself for a time, I have a fondness for it. We will probably be doing a blend of styles, potentially enrolling him in a Waldorf school or group, etc. when the time comes, but we as an eclectic pagan family want to raise him in a nature-honoring, animistic and spiritual way while also teaching about other religions and cultures, science and mathematics, philosophy and astronomy, arts and bardcraft, writing and storytelling, etc. etc. If you have any resources to contribute, or experiences with any groups/sites etc. please leave us a comment!
“Books such as The Well-Trained Mind (which is my main resource for curricula and homeschooling) and The Latin-Centered Curriculum are both unabashedly Christian. However, this method originates with the Pagan writer, Martianus Capella, who developed the system of the seven liberal arts that comprised early medieval education.” (Quote from http://witchesandpagans.com/EasyBlog/curricula-for-pagan-homeschoolers.html).