Tag Archives: thetwistedtreeshoppe

Lammastide: Of Sacrifice & Harvest

Lammastide Harvest Altar, 2015
Lammastide Harvest Altar, 2015

This weekend comes the First Harvest celebrations… Lughnasadh, or Lammas, for many. And, a Blue Moon. This is a time of harvest, but also of sacrifice. Of Life and Death, of Blessings & Giving Thanks and also of Mourning and Loss. So is the continuing thread through the next twelve weeks of harvest before the Winter comes. The give and take, life and death, sowing and reaping. As the first harvests are coming in (or have been coming in the last few weeks), some are also preparing their soils and garden beds for their fall and winter crops.

And how I can attest to such polarities, here on our little urban pagan homestead.

In the handful of months that we have been here since uprooting everything and leaving it all behind for the promise of potential a continent away, we have known blessings and strife, harvest and hardship. We have watched as our vegetables wilted and dried under the unusual early summer-heat (we had a few weeks of 100+* weather, essentially no rain since April, and though it had begun to cool back down, the heat has returned again to scorch the earth anew). And we have watched as the bees flew from blackberry blossom to blackberry blossom, and soon before our eyes the entire hedgerow of the property had turned from a swath of white and pink petals buzzing with the voices of a thousand bees to a sea of sun-ripened plump berries needing to be picked almost every day. We have walked back to the house many a night now with purple-stained fingertips and scratches on our arms and legs: our blood sacrifice to hungry thorns. We have watched as a mother hen protects her new young hatchlings, showing them how to scratch about in the dry earth, and mourned as we buried our three new ducks killed in cold-blood. My heart has swelled at the sight of seeing Queen Anne’s Lace flower umbels filling the entire back-half of our far garden and popping up in every other place they can (from walkways to along sidewalks and roadsides). My fall harvest of seeds will be momentous. Our trees have done the best out of anything growing food on the property—trees that need little interference from us humans on their behalf (if any, besides occasional watering for the younger orchard trees)—producing multiple types of plums, apples, and suddenly we have figs coming out of our ears. And some of the pear trees have fruit on their boughs as well as the almond and old, old walnut tree. I have taken in the first couple tomatoes from my two plants, which have known their own summer struggle.

harvest_tomato

And as it is, the outer world has its sacrifices and its bounties, so too do we, in our inner worlds. We have been blessed with much, but have also sacrificed much. We gave up close family and friends, a support network, and largely a sense of security to be the Fool and step willingly, blindly, with a leap of faith into the mist-filled ravine, hoping our feet would touch down on the Rainbow Bridge. And, in many ways, they did. A large part of moving out to the West Coast was to provide me with a midwifery apprenticeship, which I was blessed with within our first two months here. And then just as suddenly, it was gone. “It is best to wait,” they said. Wait… wait? I’ve been waiting for what seems like ages… what literally has been years, and now I must wait again. At least another year of waiting. I read the cards again and again, and they the same…. A time of rest, of gathering yourself before moving on to the next phase in the Wheel…. Inner-work and growth, a time of dreaming…. And, to not give up. To persevere on this path, for I have made a dedication to this path, this path of the Wytch-Shaman-Midwyfe, and to my gods. That no matter how long this journey takes, I am on it, and I will find fulfillment. And so I bow my head to the Powers That Be, and remember my dedication, and I breath the fire of this hot summer into it, into my endeavors, my work and study that the embers may not go out, and I also sit back on my heels and begin the planning of the ultimate harvest this year: the birth of this child growing and wiggling within my moon-belly.

Needle-felted Brigh doll and offerings to the Spirits from our land: plums, figs, apples, and homemade sourdough.
Needle-felted Brigh doll and offerings to the Spirits from our land: plums, figs, apples, and homemade sourdough.

This is also a time when traditionally couples would make their ways to the fields and promise themselves to each other—handfastings of a year and a day were common-place around Lammas in Old Europe. So not only does this time of year have to do with harvest and sacrifice, but also Commitment. And so, I am called this Lammastide to re-dedicate myself to this work, and take my official Vows to Brigh, the Bear Mother, She of the Red-Eared Cow, Goddess of the Honey-Tongue, Lady of Forge-Fire, as one of Her Priestess Midwyfe-Healers. I think it is time, to ‘make it official’. To remember why I am doing this, for whom I am doing this, and that, as Jung would say, “If you are on the Journey, you are at the Goal.” So many times we spend reaching for the goal, only wanting the goal, and once we attain said goal, we realize that we missed out on the entire process, we walked the journey with blinders on, our eyes fixed only to the light at the end of the tunnel. I do not want this to be that way, I do not want to live life that way….

And on a final note, while we have been here, learning this land and greeting its spirits and learning ourselves along the way, I was told to write a book. A book on working the land as a pagan, as a witch. Of returning to this way of life in our magic, spirituality, and mundane lives. Whether it is a couple containers with some veggies growing on your porch and herbs in your window sill, or a full-on homestead of any acreage, this book, whenever it is finished, will be for you. It will have charms, spells, prayers, offerings, and devotionals dedicated to the processes of life and cycles of the earth, of the ways of home and hearth: sowing, tending, harvesting, ‘laying the earth to rest’; the raising and butchering of animals; home and barn blessings, cooking, ‘hearth-tending’, housework, different deities, and so on. It is being put together as we work, as we labor and harvest, as we utter words of blessing and reverence and thanks over dark soil and growing plant and prepared meals—words that seem to come into our minds and out over our tongues sweet like honey from somewhere Other. And so, in ending, I give you one of the Harvest Blessings, one that came to me during our first purple plum, red raspberry, and red clover harvest.

Blessings of the Gods upon us

Blessings of the Ancestors upon us

Blessings of the Spirits upon us

Blessings of the Trees, the Plants, the Waters, and all the Earth upon us

For a bountiful harvest we have reaped

And for a bountiful harvest we give thanks, and feast!

 harvestaltar5  harvestaltar3

Many thanks to Frey, to Lugh, and all the Others for their Sacrifices that the Land may be Blessed and Flourish~ Many thanks to Brigh the Bright One, She of the Fields~

– Wren

Bonekeeping on the Homestead

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.

Farewell then, dear ones, farewell.”

First Day Home~ Flower, Daisy, & Blue... RIP...
First Day Home~ Flower, Daisy, & Blue… RIP…

January Update: Classes, Our Book, New Items

We have quietly been working on a big project: we’re writing a book! It is going to be an amalgam of our personal spiritual practices with everything from domestic magic to spiritworking, from polytheism to ritual costuming and quite a bit in between. As we work on it, we will be publishing each section as its own ‘article’ so to speak for purchase. They will be available for immediate digital PDF download, but we may also do some limited edition hand-bound and blockprinted booklets as well. Isáine is attempting to create linoblock carvings for each book section, and we want to do inked prints and have them available separate from the booklets as well. We are just finishing up the section on Shapeshifting and getting it ready for sale.

shapeshiftinglinoblock_progress

In preparation for the release of our shapeshifting article (and all the others to come) we will be doing a string of posts here and on our Facebook page on the topic. There will be short stories, articles or links to other posts/authors on the topic,  personal recounting and of course Q&A and opportunities to share your own stories for anyone who cares to.  Shapeshifting, though a bit more advanced of a practice, is also going to be one of the first classes that we offer.

classes

We decided near the end of 2014 to start offering one-on-one mentoring and classes as we are able after the New Year. Now that it is now 2015, it is time to get the ball rolling! We are still working on class outlines, setting up online programs/recordings, and arranging spots for teaching in-person locally (Swansboro/Jacksonville, NC), but in the meantime we are available for short one-on-one mentoring sessions on various topics, listed below. If you are seeking information or guidance regarding a topic not listed, please contact us and we will see what we can do to help! There are others we know who may be of help when we aren’t. Message us on Facebook or better yet, e-mail us at: thetwistedtree.shoppe@gmail.com

—–>>To read more about our classes please see our new Page (under “Classes & Gatherings”).

[[ As we finalize class details we will post scheduling there, updates on our blog feed and Facebook page, and in our newsletter. To be sure to not miss any upcoming classes please subscribe to our MailChimp Newsletter here: https://www.facebook.com/TheTwistedTree.Shoppe/app_100265896690345 ]]

** We are also going to start doing short recordings and posting them on Youtube and our blog (here) covering various topics, Q&A/FAQs (send us yours!), how-to’s and crafts, etc. so keep an eye out for those! **

[[ One-on-One Mentoring Sessions ]]

  • Cost~ We ask for a donation of $15-$35/hour, whatever you can afford and feel that our time, knowledge, and service are worth … We accept Cash or Paypal
  • Topics~ Women’s Mysteries, Sacred Beekeeping & Path of the Melissae, Domestic/Hearth Magic, Protection Magic, Basic Energy Work, Spiritworking & Bioregional Animism, Working with Deities/Polytheism, Involving Kids in Practice, Altered States of Consciousness, Sacred Birthkeeping, Shapeshifting, How To: Magical Healing…

[[ Upcoming Classes: Online ]]

  • Cost~ Classes/Videos will range from Free to $25, but we always welcome donations
  • Current Topics~ Protection Magic + Shapeshifting + Altered States + Herbal Medicine Making + Bioregional Animism: Working with Spirits of Place + Intro to the Path of the Bee + Domestic/Hearth Magic…

[[ Upcoming Classes: Local ]]

  • Cost~ Classes will range from $10-$35/person to cover the cost of any supplies, and we always welcome donations. We may occasionally offer a free class, and hold drawings to win a free class!
  • Current Topics~ Protection Magic + Shapeshifting + Altered States + Herbal Medicine Making + Bioregional Animism: Working with Spirits of Place + Intro to the Path of the Bee + Domestic/Hearth Magic…

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And last but not least, we have new items in the shop! Be sure to check them out before they’re gone– limited quantities on most. Custom orders are always welcome! [[ Use Coupon Code: NewYr2015 during checkout for free shipping! ]] *Domestic purchases only, valid through January 20, 2015*

birchwoodaltardiskslemurianfiberlemurianleather rusticwitchhat1

custoomwoodrings_inlay elderberrysyrup

Give Me the Woods

Give me the woods
with their bears and their bees
with their babbling brooks
and the sway-top trees

Give me the woods
with their moss and their ferns
with the dripping-wet leaves
the land my heart yearns

Give me the woods
with fox bear and bird
with hollows and glens
and no sound or a word

Give me the woods
with the cabin and stove
with the smoke curling high
and so far that we drove

Give me the woods
where one becomes lost
becomes one with the trees
I would have it, just tell me the cost

~Copyright 2014 Isáine of The Twisted Tree

New Projects & Products

We have been quite the busy bodies over here at the Twisted Tree. Midnight has been perfecting his wooden rings, which will be up for custom order here shortly. I have been learning how to make journals to be sold as Book of Shadows. Some products that are in the works and should be available by December:

dansemacabrejournal1

Bent Wood Ring with Braided Gold Alloy Inlay
Bent Wood Ring with Braided Gold Alloy Inlay

– Wooden Rings: custom designs– wood choice and type of inlay
– Wood Log Runic Candle Holders
– Mini Terrariums, Glow-in-the-Dark Mushroom Kits, & Live Mini Marimo Moss Ball setups
– Sachets for Various Needs (such as enhancing dream recall and lucid dreaming, warding from nightmares, good luck, alleviating anxiety, etc.)
– Book of Shadow Journals

Our latest Etsy Listings:
boneearrings1  hagstones2  hagstones1

eggshells2_edit  acorns2  beetlejar2

NOW TAKING ORDERS for CUSTOM Rustic Burlap Witch Hats!
rusticwitchhat1
Custom made to your dimensions, I am taking a limited number of orders. If you want a certain color scheme or theme (such as green/woods or blue/ocean) we can discuss details and pricing.
++ BASIC Hat– Muslin + Burlap, Distressed: $45 + Shipping

    To place an order please send us an e-mail at thetwistedtree.shoppe@gmail.com or a private Etsy message.

**COMING THIS WEEK**:

– Twine & Faux Suede-Wrapped Quartz Crystal and Lemurian Quartz Crystal Point Necklaces

– 3rd Eye Quartz Crystal Meditation Headwraps

Store Updates & A Witches’ Ball

I know things have been a bit quiet over here at the blog, but behind closed doors we have been busy little bees! Our latest (and perhaps coolest) news is that we were interviewed for the Faith column of a local newspaper, the Jacksonville Daily News. The column editor and a photographer for the paper showed up at our house, interviewed us, and took some photos. The next Sunday our interview was published in the paper, and within two days we had 50 new Facebook Page Likes! Apparently the article has been making quite the rounds, showing up on the Covenant of the Goddess’ Facebook page and even on Witch Vox. We have had almost 200 new page likes and out posts are reaching a lot more people, which is great! The only problem is that because of how Facebook works now, ‘original content’ posts that do *not* have any photos or links in them get seen by an insanely larger amount of people, whereas anything we Share (such as photos from other pages or website links) or even photos we upload to our own page directly are seen by far fewer people (ie. post without photos and links have 80+ views whereas a shared photo, link, or uploaded photo gets less than 20 views). This is really irritating when we are trying to share links to our latest Etsy listings, sharing content that *you* our followers have requested to see more of, or are uploading our own photos directly for you to see projects that we are working on and things we are offering! [[Make sure to check the option to “Follow” and “Get Notifications” on our page, and to check the ‘Pages Feed’ in the left hand column of your home newsfeed page to see content posted by Pages that you have Liked. Also, interacting with the Pages’ content– liking and sharing or commenting on them– shows Fcebook that you want to see more of that Page’s content in your personal Newsfeed.]]

We were in the paper!
We were in the paper!

To read the newspaper article online, go to: http://www.jdnews.com/features/neighbors/working-with-goddesses-helps-woman-find-spiritual-self-1.388415

In other news, the shop has a bunch of new listings up! I will be out of town for the first almost three weeks of November, and we may or may not put the shop on stand-by while I am gone. Custom orders can still be placed, as these take longer to make and ship compared to things ready-made and set to go. Instead of putting the Etsy store in vacation mode, we may leave it open but change our shipping dates– instead of shipping in 3-5 days for ready-made items, we might have them set to ship depending on how close the order is placed to November 20 (when I’ll be back). We shall see! And we will keep you updated. [[I will do a separate blogpost showing our latest works-in-progress and newest Etsy listings so watch out for that!]]

yuleballbanner

And last but not least, updates on the Witches’ Ball. In case you haven’t seen it, there is a new Page on our blog called “Witches’ Yule Ball” up in the top navigation bar. Click that and you can see what we are planning for the ball, dates (December 20, 2014), etc. and is where you go to purchase tickets (through a secure Paypal checkout). Tickets are available on a sliding scale– you pay what you can. We also have an option for those who have more to pay more and purchase a ticket for themselves and for someone who can’t afford one at all. All proceeds go to the cost of the event, and any left-over funds will be donated to a (to-be-determined) charity of some kind. We are finalizing our venue (currently looking at an outdoor location with camping and bathroom facilities) and will keep you updated (look for updates in our upcoming Samhain newsletter. Click here to ). We are in need of sponsors/donations! See the event page for more info on what we’re looking for and need assistance with.

Sea Witchery & Sirens

I have been lucky enough to live near the ocean for the last almost 12 years– as long as I have been practicing as a pagan and a witch– but I have only practiced Sea Witchcraft actively for perhaps the last 4 years about I think. I love living near the sea, I cannot imagine living much farther from it which has made things quite difficult since we’re trying to find land and move from this place.

I definitely agree that ultimately, though tools and herbs and candles are lovely– and useful!– you should be able to practice magic with nothing but your Will and your Breath, and the things you find around you. (Of course it is definitely polite to give offerings when you’re working out in nature!) I love writing runes or spells in the sand, or whispering things into shells and sending them on their way with the waves. This is something I have actually got my toddling son to do– whisper into shells and send our wishes to the mermaids. He doesn’t really say anything into the shells (he pretends to whisper) but he loves the idea of the whole thing.

And she’s right: the Ocean Mother and the spirits there and at the shore and in the storm off the sea– they are Primal (read: really f*cking old) and made of darker things than most of us have (or care to) encounter. I don’t always, but often when I go to the shore I call on Yemaya. We have had a working relationship that sways like the tides over the last few years. And most associate Her as a very ‘light’ and loving diety. Which She can be. But She is also destruction– tidal wave and storm, and Her acts of protection can come on violent and primal like Kali. Hell, one of Her Aspects is Pirate Queen ruler of the predators of the sea.

And I too have heard the Siren’s call…

I work sometimes in the realms of the Sea Folk, I feel very strongly even that one of their lines is in my blood– and one Full Moon night I was down on the shore, walking along and singing. And then the air shifted, and I could hear another song, singing out from in my bones rather than audible on the air. And my eyes drooped and I felt the tug. I felt the incredible melancholic longing, the dire urge to step into the waves– and keep going. I have never been one to swim in the ocean at night. I know we have sharks in the shallows in the day time, so I *know* they are there at night. But I felt this wrenching in my heart, this pull at my ankles, to just keep walking and put my head under the surface and swim and never return. I fought the pull, and kept to the shallows, and forced myself to walk parallel to the beach instead of out into the water. But it was the most intense draw I have ever had– and I have had instances before where I had this melancholic yearning to join the sea, like it was where I belonged. But unfortunately, this selkie lady has not a seal skin to take her past the breakers and into ocean depths unfathomable.

Book of Eucalypt

Sea Witchcraft, Ocean Witchcraft and Beach Magick is the most beautiful, at times simplistic, but ultimately the most powerful magick and ritual I have ever practiced. And I miss it!

Let me get this out of the way: if you are lucky enough to live by the sea/ocean/beach, I envy you. I miss it. It’s too expensive to live near water in Sydney (but this is where my work is so here I stay). I don’t like the beaches around here because there’s too too too many people, too much energy flying about, and it’s harder to feel the energy of the land.

Without trying to insult people, sea witchcraft is not for the feint hearted, or for the fluffy. It is a completely different experience to stand at the water’s edge, or knee-deep (or further if you wish) than standing or sitting behind an altar in your room or…

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