Tag Archives: the otherworld

To Be a Witch: A Response Post Pt. II

So Midnight and I were discussing further the Re-wilding Witchcraft article and certain points that the author had made in regards to the response (as witches) to the coming doom of mankind. Regarding that, and also spurred by a comment made by one of our readers on that particular post, we decided to talk about our thoughts and musings in a “part II” blogpost, and on (as I affectionately call it), being a ‘wyldling witch’. Please forgive any repeats in what you read below, we both speak on similar topics and I couldn’t find a way to blend both of our thoughts into one so I left them separate.

Essentially, right now… we’re being lied to. Hardcore. We’re being spoon-fed everything and doused in fluoride to keep us complacent in front of our glowy movie boxes and sipping carbonated beverages and espressos while the world around us is falling to pieces. This is the end for us, plain and simple. It is time to acknowledge that there is no turning back for us as a species. Hell, there’s no turning back for a lot of things… we’ve damn near reached Peak Soil and Peak Oil, the oceans are on their way out, thousands upon thousands of other species are going extinct each day… Some of us will survive and live on, but our legacy is coming to an end. There is no stopping it at this point. Those of us who take the time NOW to learn the ways of their local wilds, local edibles and poisons and medicines, the tracking of game and divining of bird flight and weather prediction, of REAL WILD WITCHCRAFT, of communing with the land wrights and the Otherworld….. and teaching all of that to our children…. those few will be the ones who survive. The rest will be overcome, chained, and eventually annihilated, totally oblivious to the world burning outside of their A/C-cooled cookie-cutter homes. And they will be lost to oblivion. And the world will go on without us.

by Margaret Seidler on DeviantArt
by Margaret Seidler on DeviantArt

Isáine:
I do think that there are multiple aspects that need to be recognized and cultivated here. I agree with the Re-wilding Witchcraft article’s author in his talking about witches rising up, resuming our old ‘face’ so to speak, and re-learning and creating the death-rights and things like that. Bringing back ceremony in all aspects of birth, life, and death. Essentially I think he was getting at this: make peace with the fact that death is imminent. Annihilation is upon us. Get to know death, and yet LIVE. Work with the spirits, work with the land. Work with yourself and your family. I was talking with Midnight about this and we feel like those who will survive will be those who do these things and learn to re-wild themselves and re-wild their witchcraft, then teach their children those skills-– how to make a snare and butcher meat, how to wildcraft herbs and the knowledge of herbalism– particularly for your *local* flora.. this is key here… How to live off the land and be a part of the land, and also to be a part of the spirit world and know how to work with spirits, particularly– as Sarah Lawless puts it– working in the realm of bioregional animism (working with the spirits of your locale, the ‘Genius Loci’).

Paganism is a religion or spirituality (however you look at it) that is broad-reaching, but generally claims to be in some form or another, earth-worshiping. But are we really? Witchcraft and paganism are dark and old, like the deep earth where the roots and bones are lying. Magic comes from the earth, and the Otherworld(s), and from within ourselves. But many of those who would use the title “pagan” and “witch” know very little, truly, of the earth or of the other side of the Veil. We have gouged out our Seeing Eyes ourselves, clipped our own wings and talons and bleached our fields (spiritually and physically speaking) infertile. We worship alien gods, shun the Ancestors and ignore the herbal medicine that is right outside our kitchen door (or worse yet, spray those healing, magical dandelions with bee-killing, water-poisoning Roundup)… We claim to love the Earth Mother and yet we stick our heads into the sand when some seemingly crack-pot conspiracy theorist hippy starts yelling from the rooftops about the state of the world and our part in its undoing. We have forgotten how to make offerings, we have forgotten what a sacrifice really meant to those who came before us– the continuation of a clan line, the feeding of your people from fertile fields and woods, the promise of the sun’s return, survival of mother and babe during childbirth– the blessings from those who had gone before upon those who now live. Life for life, blood for blood. These are the kinds of things that we need to bring back into our practice, into our witchcraft and every-day lives.

    Soon the Earth will take her sacrifice by force, and it will be our blood and bones in the dirt.

from edies.farm/tag/rewilding/
from edies.farm/tag/rewilding/

Midnight:
I think when looking at something of this scale, what’s really important is that we do SOMETHING. We have seen the truth of things, ignorance should never have been an excuse but now it isn’t even an option. Willful blindness is evaporating like so much mist. Our generation is faced with a hard reality now. Perhaps not in our lifetimes but in our children’s and certainly in our children’s children’s, mankind will face an extinction level event. Our situation isn’t a question of rethinking our resource management anymore, now its a base question of survival.
Not survival as individuals, but our survival as a species is in question. We have been at war with the earth. We have poisoned tomorrow’s water to drink today. We have killed and cut and maimed the land in our efforts to further progress.

Now as the world is want to do, a balance will reassert itself. If we do nothing then it will do something, by obliterating us. I think that the author’s message was that we need to first find each other, then reestablish our connection to nature. We need to re-immerse ourselves in it, re-wild ourselves and our magic. Our best chance of survival in any significant way is to be a part of nature, not apart from it. To do this we have to strip away many of the fineries we have donned to fit in amongst and be accepted by the other “recognized and established” religions and modern society as a whole. ( I’m saying all of this as blanket statements with no distinctions between craft or sects because in every aspect I am trying to include all of us… any distinctions we may feel or value between us are irrelevant. To any outsider looking in they see only witches, and in the face of what we are looking at dealing with, any differences are irrelevant in the face of what we all need to become. ) We need to return to being the mediums between this world and the Others. That means knowing death, knowing the wild places, knowing the spirits and how to speak to them, how to garner their blessings and how to live with the wild world. We need to re-synch with our local wilds, learn (y)our sacred places, learn (y)our magical times– not by a book but by living it and feeling it. More importantly still, we need to know how to pass this knowledge on to others, and we need to share it with our children so that they, and their grandchildren, have a chance at surviving.

……………………………………………………

Our “Part III” post will be a recap and further suggestions, as well as some resources on how to re-wild yourself, re-wild your witchcraft, and be a “Wyldling Witch”. We would love to hear your thoughts and any input, and keep this discussion going and the dialogue open. Feel free to comment below, or e-mail us at thetwistedtree.shoppe@gmail.com

oldreligion

Sea of Trees

Photo by Matt Clarkson on Flickr
Photo by Matt Clarkson on Flickr

The wind told me a story, this story blew in on a gentle night breeze, softer than the touch a luna moth’s wings and darker than the places between stars. It spoke to me of a land of the dead, and of music like none I’ve even known. Hear these words as told to me by the wind.

If you follow the path of the sun, follow it straight and follow it true to the place where it sets each day. There, through the fire and flame, past the dying light, is a forest. Well, no that’s like calling the Atlantic a body of water. If you follow the sun to the land where it dies there grows the Sea of Trees. It is exactly as it sounds, a forest vast as the open sea. Trees so tall that their branches grow to bracket the stars and their roots sink down to sip the stuff of other worlds. The forest belongs to the dead and the secrets they keep. The living should never trouble the dead. Of course what should be, and what is, often have miles of difference between them..

Grimoire and scrolls, books and stories tell of necromancers, those who would divine secrets from the dead. They detail incense and rituals to call up and bind the spirit, words to compel them, sigils to command them and hold them to the truth. In the Sea of Trees is their world, not ours. There the dead are not compelled by the living… Only madmen, fools, and those seeking to join their number attempt such a thing. They must be treated with, and in the long history of the Sea of trees there is only one thing they have ever been known to accept in exchange for their secrets or safe passage through their lands… music.

Now. Sam was a bard worthy of the name. With soft words he could charm birds down from trees. With a few bars gently hummed he could turn a mans heart. With his lute in his hand he could wring tears from a stone. Far and wide he was known as the greatest musician of his age. He wandered far, welcome any and everywhere for the gift of his music. He walked to the storm wall, and learned the music of the Everstorm. He tracked through Jackuracu, the burning plains, and learned the song of the desert and shifting sands. He traveled to the lands of giants, and to the peaks of the world’s end mountains to learn their music as well. Inevitably his travels brought him to The Sea of trees. On his first day he strode past the dying sun and where its flames leapt up to burn him and turn him back, he struck a note on his lute and intoned in a soft singsong:

“Peace , O flames of burning day, harm not your cousin made of clay.”

At his voice the fires parted before him and so he walked on. On the second day he found the edge of the forest. Before him trees and branches, vines and brush rose up in an impassible wall, sharp thorns and twisted growth rearing up and up and stretching on and on in all directions as far as he could see. At this he struck a chord on his lute and sang in a voice rich and proud:

“Where music flies there I will follow, through glen and forest, glade and hollow.”

Then, he looked hard at the wall of thorns and branches and he saw in it three notes of music clearly penned. He sang them out, he sang them hard and sharp and white as fire, and struck another chord on his lute. At the sound of that note, ringing out hard and pure and true the way opened before him and he walked on. On the third day, Sam found himself deep within the Sea of trees. All about him ranged the dead, in all shapes and sizes and forms both foul and fair. Many of them reached out to him some beckoning some demanding. Wisely he stepped aside– it is not a good thing for the dead to touch to living. At first he thought to continue on his way, but soon the dead crowded about him so thick that he could go no further safely. He stopped and looked and everywhere he saw the dead. He looked again and this time he saw the music in them, so he raised his lute and played that music, he played and sang it out in wild notes that shivered his soul, he sang it in mournful minor keys that set him to weeping, he set it free in leaping refrains that flitted about the trees in dazzling notes before flying off to dance among the dead. He wrapped himself in the song, wove it about himself in a glamour fit for the fae. At the sound of this music the dead stepped away and a path opened before him. Sam with the music burning in him walked on, he walked and he played for three days unceasing in the light of the sun, and for three days unceasing in the light of the moon. And on the dawn of the fourth day he saw a thinning in the trees and could see in patches the open sky. He sang on though thirst and hunger wracked him, he sang on though sleep blurred his thoughts and made his step stagger. A hundred yards to the end and he sang on though his throat was agony, fifty yards and he sang on, though he could barely remember why he was singing at all, twenty yards and he sang, though sleep was right there close enough to touch. Ten Yards and he sang.. even as a nightingale, a small thing flitting by overhead drew his eye. A small distraction, but that was all it took, there was a burr in his music a missed note…

His spell unraveled and the dead took him.

The wind says that if you follow the sun to the place where it dies each day, there through the fire and flame in the dying light you can hear music wild and otherworldly coming from the Sea of Trees.

Making Sure the Dead are Truly Dead and Gone

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Normally I hear my stories on the wind. It sings them to me on storm winds and sea breezes, it whispers them to me beneath the full bellied moon. It brings them up from forgotten places and plays me echoes of secret memories. Normally I share what I hear, this time let me tell you what I lived.

Some people have a knack for walking in the other world. It is a talent that can be learned, it can be trained and it can be honed. But some people, they just have it from birth. They walk through life straddling worlds, sometimes seeing in this one, sometimes gazing into others. This is a story about such a man. He is married to a dreamer, she is many things make no mistake, but above all else she dreams. Together they have a son, a toddling thing best described by his mother’s wide eyes and his father’s thirst for adventure. Completeing their family and filling their home is the Bear, a large man, shaggy and strong, gentle save when stirred to anger.

Now living where they live, and being what they are, they are no strangers to death. They have seen it from afar and they have held it in their arms. To the Dreamer death was a mystery and a puzzle, to the Walker death was an adventure and a promise.

So, tell me; what do you think they did when confronted with a situation where death and the newly dead were in their hands… why they Fucked it up of course. And therein lies the story…

It isn’t just humans who can become lost in the here after. The spirits of Birds and beasts can as well. Aye, they live closer to death, they have fewer walls erected between them and the truth of it. They are born knowing its nature, they live with it day to day hour to hour. Death however comes in more forms than there are stars to light the sky, so when it comes in a shape foreign and sudden… then can be a problem. If a deer is taken down by a wolf that is the nature of things, if a mouse is taken by an owl on the wing, that too is the nature of things. There is little shock and a clear understanding in the mind of the prey. There is fear. There is pain, but no suprise, no confusion. Death has come and they must surrender to it.

But what happens when death comes sudden, swift and strange to the predator, what does the wolf, or owl, the bear feel when they are struck down by the doings of Men. I think that for prey animals it is easier, they’re constantly dogged by the spectre of death, but for the hunter to be struck down causes a disconnect. The wolf knows old age, it understands thirst, and famine, disease. But what’s a rifle, what is a car to barrel up and pounce so brutally, to pulp flesh, snap bone, and savage organs. Whats worse it rolls on without a pause, no memory of prey to humble the predator, no flesh taken to fill an empty belly no purpose beyond clumsy power and inconsiderate speed. How does the predator reconcile its death to this?

Simply put, they often can’t. If you ever find yourself near the results of such a collision, take a moment and observe. There is a palpable miasma of confusion and indignity, an alpha predator reduced to a ragged bundle of fur or feathers crushed and tossed without a second thought.

I know what death is to me, through this experience I also have found what it means to me as a witch.

The Dreamer found the body, a wind tumbled ball of feathers left without ceremony on the roadside with its neck broken. She called the Walker to bring it home. He approached it with the care he would the honored dead, with gentle words to sooth it, and if truth be told to sooth himself. He was no stanger to spirits, but this one was lost and confused and its presence was echoe and emptyness. With what ceremony he could afford it, and such dignity as he could grace he brought it home, laid it beneath the familiar oak and begged it peace and easy sleep.

A day passed, then two, and he stopped feeling the spirit so strongly, he looked with eyes open in both worlds and saw nothing and so they put the body to the knife, passed it through incense and blessed it with prayer, some parts they preserved and the remains they put in the ground there beneath the sun and the branches of that oak.

Naive of the Dreamer, Foolish of the walker.

The Walker you see, he went walking the other world under the eye of the sun. Small wonder he found no sign of the lingering spirit then. It was nocturnal in life and so too in death. It wasn’t gone to its rest, only sleeping… Foolish, naive.

Only the oak bore witness to the momement when the spirit found its buried body. Only the oak and the wide night sky. The Walker wasn’t there to bear witness, he didn’t feel it, didn’t notice at all. The credit for that goes to their son, the toddling child all eyes and curiousity. “What’s that?” Sometimes that’s what it takes for that voice in the back of your head that’s been screaming “Hey idiot pay attention” to get its point across. The Walker didn’t see the how of things, he only saw the results. The wretched thing, lost and bearing the wounds of its death and the marks of its body’s internment in the ground. Shambling up like a night born creature from someone’s bleak and blackest dreamings. Empathy was never a gift of the Walker, but understanding… that he bore the burden of. This he understood on a primal level, the knowing of it settling on him full and heavy. With slow and deliberate care he reached out to the spirit. He wrapped it in threads of himself, spun thin and strong as spider silk. He tied it to him and made it whole. In his trance he saw it flying, and amidst the incense of cedar and lemon grass his son saw it too. “Flying, mama, happy” he giggled, pointed and signed.

Now in a fairy tale this would be the happily ever after. But fairies and their endings have no place in this tale today.

I think that this is not an end at all but a beginning, and that is where I will leave you. At the beginning.