All I have to do is dream, dream, dream…

Hi!  *waves*

I miss you.  Or my imaginary, personified version of you.  I’ve been seeing all these amazing posts at other’s sites lately, and it finally prompted me to just sit down and type, even if I have nothing structured to say.  So… here we go!

I’ve had a couple (or several) weeks spent working till anxious exhaustion overtakes me, but the cubicle stress has been offset by the pleasure of surprisingly witchy dreams to soothe me at night.  One in which I was enlisted by my aunts to do a dark working at that place special to our family, but they told me it would require digging up the graves of murderers on the property.  I told them that by my understanding I could just take some dirt from the graves to the same effect, and my cousin (the one I call “twin cousin” who shares my witchy flavor) said approvingly, “She really knows her stuff.”  (I do not feel that that comment was accurate, but it still felt very nice to hear, sleeping or awake.)  In the dream, I capitulated, and headed to a tiny witchy shop the size of a tollbooth to get some supplies.  The owner said to me as I was picking out my tools, “You have your amethyst, of course, for protection.”  I nodded, thinking to myself, um… no… so I decided to look at some amethyst jewelry as a backup.  Found some lovely and strange earrings, that I think I might ask the boy to help me make.  Tally of remembered protective amulets from dreams is now up to 2!

In another, after a fun little adventure in a cave deciphering sarcophagus hieroglyphs with my dad, and packing up crates of dark blue glass, I was sitting with my family in a golden field of tall grass making truly beautiful music I wish I had the ear to reproduce in waking life.  Mom suddenly swooned, and I rushed off to get a remedy for her, mostly consisting of sweetgrass, one white, and one red rose…

Around my birthday, I dreamt I bought an antique concertina with wrought iron handles that came with a musical journal/scrapbook written by the previous owner.  She had christened the concertina “Circe,” and her scrapbook was all full of glamourous ladies and death.  This, and the fact that I had by then dreamt of concertinas on numerous occasions oddly enough, prompted me to request help from my boy and parents to purchase a concertina for Christmas.  (I wisely settled on a less expensive but good quality beginner’s model, although I had a lot of fun browsing through the gold and rare wood ones…)  It is awesome, and I am so excited to be learning and playing music again.  It’s a challenge getting to know the button placement, but I have been practicing a little every day, and I’m already making playlists of songs I’d like to learn.  The boy is being sweetly tolerant of my honking, halting practice songs.  I now have a weird/awkward music corner with my concertina, my sitar and that baby-size classical guitar I dug out of my parent’s basement.  *claps*  All that’s missing are some bagpipes, and maybe a Turkish ney and some Orff instruments…

Oh!  I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet, but I discovered a pagan friend at work!  It started with a conversation about bathing with flowers (yeah, I don’t know how we got on that topic either), and somehow we both asked enough vague, leading questions until we figured out neither of us had “whaaaa?” expressions when the other was talking about citrine spheres or smudging.  It’s kind of saving my work life at the moment.  I told him about my surprise serendipitous rendezvous this week in which I ran hastily away from work to catch a bus, missed it, and wound up at the library (which I thought was closed) drooling over a facsimile of a 1659 transcription of John Dee/Edward Kelley spirit channeling, then found THE book of sigils I had been wishing existed in the stacks.  I think we might take a little field trip after work one of these weeks so I can show them to him.

Anyway, new pagan work friend was telling me about some crazy dream effects he was feeling with amethyst and amber by his bed, so I took my amethyst beads I had picked up (after that protection dream, dontchaknow) and went to bed that night.  Dreamt that while walking through the country, the boy and I spotted a family hand dying wool in the most brilliant colors, spinning and weaving and knitting the greatest hats I’ve ever seen, and we decided to quit our “real” jobs and start raising alpacas.  We lived with my parents, and we had to keep a snake in the house to balance out the ecosystem… for some reason.  Mom wasn’t too thrilled about the giant green python sliding past her feet when she was in the bathroom, so we had to make it sleep outside the first couple of nights.  Somewhere in that same dream cycle I had an amazingly vivid still moment nose-to-nose with a horned stang that was quite wonderful, as well.

I don’t feel like I have been doing much that would earn me these dreams lately.  I haven’t done any rituals, no spellwork, no truly witchy reading (unless rereading “Mists of Avalon” is sufficient), no card consultations, not even any meditating or even  listening to many podcasts.  But who am I to look a gift horse – or alpaca – in the mouth?  I am loving it.  And I am finding a lot of inspiration in them for my non-work life that is making that other part we don’t like to talk about more bearable.

In case someone reads this and is inclined to respond, I’m curious what relationship others have with their dreams.  Do you remember your dreams?  Do you find overlap between your spirituality and your dreaming?  Do you take anything from your dreams and apply it to your waking life?  Dreams have kind of always been “my thang,” but I don’t know what others do with them.

So… I guess that’s about it for now.  Here’s a picture of my parents’ dog, just for fun:

Happy New Year!

Thanks for reading, and best wishes for 2012!

Yours,
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Lakefront Visit, and some Campy Tips

Hi all!  I’ve recently returned from my annual pilgrimage north, and I have to say the transition back into city life is going fairly well, considering what a spectacular week I had to leave behind.  There were a number of beautiful and memorable moments: a gigantic setting crescent moon sliding down the most vivid crimson sunset sky just minutes behind the sun, glorious weather and captivating clouds, remarkably not-frigid lake water ideal for sauna-ing, the spirits of the bluff shooing us away with absurdly brief and localized thunder and rain (two warning claps and a 15-second sprinkle), mesmerizing sky-wide northern lights swelling and flickering for hours on the night of our sixth anniversary, and – miracle of miracles – our Polish-Swedish and Danish-German skin *not* getting sunburned despite eight straight days under the sun!  That last feat was accomplished only with much credit to some Cataplex-F capsules, gallons of water and diligent/obscene re-lathering of sunscreen.  We even got to have a shivaree* for my cousin and his new bride on her first visit to our little wooded Mecca.

*shivaree or charivari (Fr.): a medieval French custom involving lots of raucous noise-making and satiric songs traditionally used as social pressure to mock and scorn sinners and fornicators, which somehow migrated to the American prairie and my family now uses it to serenade those on honeymoon.  We still begin by parading around and banging lots of pots and pans, however.

On Wednesday my partner and I got up before dawn and trekked out to our secret spot near the border, arriving before 7 am when the mist was still laying heavy over the water and the mossy groves.  (Yes, the very same sacred spot where, six years ago, we first got that twinkle in our eyes and discovered the more flirtatious aspects of blueberry picking.)

Though we have been blessed with unfathomable bounty these last many visits, the northwoods finally made us work for our harvest this year.  Four labor-intensive hours to get anywhere near our usual quantities, with scant and scrawny (though perfectly delicious!) berries to choose from.  I also could have done without the slug patch I wandered into right off the bat.  I should have left some kind of marker for myself in the cattails so as not to repeat the experience… it was not a pretty sight!  At first they were tiny and harmless, but they got progressively larger as I ventured back, transfiguring into grotesquely swollen wood-grain-patterned cashews slurping all over the choicest bushes in oozing piles.  Yum.

Anywho!  What was I trying to get at?  Oh yes, lovely sunny breezy romantic wooded fruitful outing with a loved one.  The birds were flitting and calling, the squirrels scolding adorably, the insects keeping a respectful distance, and the plant life as diverse and impressive as ever.  It amazes me how much certain northern fungi and mosses look like deep sea creatures building soft coral empires under the birches and pines, luring you in your pre-dawn stupor to sink down onto them and relax a moment before you remember the dampness just waiting to seep through umpteen layers of pants…  (It is always worth it, however.)

After several hours of back breaking, I finally stumbled through a bramble onto a perfectly lovely and gluttonously ripe cluster of blueberry bushes.  I inhaled deeply and tumbled down, relishing the thought that I might at last stay in one location for a few minutes without having to desperately hunt for more than a handful.  Only a few branches gleaned, I heard a short call.  It had been a while since our last “Marco!”-“Polo!” exchange that we volley back and forth periodically to keep tabs on each other through the thicket, and I was just about to respond when a chilling chorus broke out behind me.  It was a louder performance than any the wilderness had put on for me yet, and I quickly gathered that this was because the source of the fanfare was only a few short yards away.  And that short call I had heard had *not* been human.

The rally was breathtaking.  I couldn’t find a perfect example, since recordings can’t do justice to the sheer harrowing volume in that early morning forest silence, but to give you an idea, check out this video, around the 2:37 mark.

I love wolves, and I love being around them, but with that love comes a respect for their territory and a healthy dose of awareness of my rank in their food chain.  Granted, I was probably in no kind of danger, since I have encountered them here many times before; this pack has plenty to eat and no interest in snuggling up with humans.  (Many more people are killed each year by pet dogs than by wolves.)  Their playfully carefree howling was perhaps the best indicator that they had no concerns about our presence, since they undoubtedly already detected our scent.  Even so, I couldn’t help but recall that the last time I had heard a cry of this complexity at this time of day had directly preceded a very noisy pack kill, and I was overcome with the need to have a visual confirmation of my partner’s whereabouts.

I (prudently) snatched up my pail of berries and darted off away from the sound towards the last “Marco!” I could remember hearing.  Bumbling through the branches with all the stealth and grace of a careening fruit cart, I found him within a few gasping breaths, calmly standing with his head cocked, listening silently and appreciatively to the cascade of howls still echoing behind me.  I felt foolish, and I never was able to find my way back to that prime berry patch.  Maybe to ease my embarrassment, the boy suggested that we stay a bit closer to the path.

Despite my undignified behavior, it was a truly magnificent thrill, and I look forward to sharing air, earth, woods, lake, sun and berries with the pack again next year.

Brandenburg Wolves

And now for your Witch Outdoors tip of the day:  To repel insects the easy-but-powerful, natural, and better-smelling way:

Pour about a teaspoon of carrier oil of your choice into the palm of your non-dominant hand.  (I recommend Fractionated Coconut Oil because it’s light and absorbs quickly, but you can choose whatever you like: jojoba, sweet almond, sesame, olive oil…)  Add to the carrier two-to-four drops of citronella essential oil and one-to-three drops of geranium essential oil.  Blend with a fingertip, then simply dab on any exposed skin and rub in like a lotion (but try to avoid getting it in your eyes, please).  Any excess can also be patted on clothing or swiped over your hair.  And no need to wash your hands — these oils are naturally antiseptic and bactericidal!  If desired, you can make the blend in larger quantities in advance to store or bring with you on group outings.

An additional tip:  A study conducted at Iowa State University revealed that the principle active ingredient in catnip essential oil is actually more effective than DEET at repelling mosquitoes.  Note, however, that the pure oil is so potent it should be used only in very low dilution (one drop to at least one teaspoon of carrier) if applied directly to the skin, or better yet simply spray/diffuse the oil if you’re going to be in one area for an extended time.  Be forewarned, however, that this can be a risky oil to use extensively if you’re in an area with any kind of wildcat population!  (They don’t call it catnip for nothing!)  Your best bet is to blend with other oils to take down the feline-summoning odor a notch.

That’s all for today, then.  Perhaps I’ll post some pictures once I wrestle them out of my camera?  Hope everyone is enjoying their summer and staying cool and safe.

Love,
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Mourners

I recently visited an art museum exhibit on the mourning statues from the court of the Duke of Burgundy, and I was moved by their visual representation of the leveling power of grief.  At the funeral for the Duke in 1419, black robes were handed out among the attendees to be worn over their clothes, concealing all symbols of rank and status, and uniting clergy, nobility, and the poor into one class for a fleeting moment.  All were equally powerless under death.

A local choir ensemble prepared a special concert of medieval music in conjunction with the Mourners exhibition, and you can listen to or download the songs by clicking on the picture above and scrolling to the bottom of the page.  The recordings are haunting and beautiful.

I also recently made an emotional discovery while rifling through an old file of family history archives.  My immediate family uses the nickname “Addie” for me.  I had known since I was younger that this was the name of an ancestor who had died at a young age of typhoid during the family’s westward movement in a covered wagon from Ohio.  By chance last week, I stumbled across her obituary, which I had never before read or even known to exist.  Although written in an age where infant mortality rates were over 20% in America, and death on the plains was an everyday occurrence that could not interrupt the daily necessities of hard labor required to survive, this passage is written with more depth and eloquence than I have ever seen in an obituary in my time.

Friday, September 16, 1892
Gray County Kansas

Miss Addie M_, aged 15 years and three months, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. D. M_, died at the family residence last Monday after a very brief illness, and was buried in the Cimarron Cemetery Tuesday afternoon.  It is said that “the remorseless past stands ever near, breathing through the broken cords of life its never-ending dirge.”  Death invades every home, and “life after life flowers out from the darkness but to sink back into it again.”  And so Death’s silent and remorseless step trod the precincts of David M_’s home and with his icy fingers sundered the cord that bound their darling to earth and set her spirit wending its way into eternity, shocking friends and making desolate the hearts of relatives – the more cruel, apparently, because of her youth, as she had just fairly started up life’s incline, at the summit seemingly such beautiful consummations awaiting her grasp.  Death met and claimed her, but remorseless as death is, and possessing power to kill, he cannot extinguish the light of  a correct life left behind.  The sympathy of the entire community is extended to the bereaved parents.

To this article was appended the following:

October 14, 1892

As we go to press, it is reported that David M_, who has been sick for several days past, is dying.  A daughter was buried a short time ago, and two other children are sick.

October 21, 1892

David M_, of whom mention was made in these columns last week died about 3 o’clock Monday morning of typhoid fever.

 

My great-great grandfather died at age 38, only one month after the death of his daughter Addie, leaving his grieving wife Mary alone in a sod house on 160 acres of plains, a widow with six surviving children, including one 18-month old baby (born en route as they crossed Illinois) and a seventh child on the way — my great-great aunt Clara, who would be born six months after her father’s death.

Addie and her father David were buried at a fork in the Santa Fe Trail in Kansas in an unmarked grave for 98 years, until 1990, when my relatives pooled their money to erect a gravestone at the site.  Mary left Kansas shortly after the death of her child and husband, moving her brood of seven another 500 miles alone.

 

Although the typical season for this is autumn, I am taking some time this week to honor the memory of all those who have gone before, buried in plains and forests and along mountains and rivers, in this country and overseas.

Rest in peace, beloved family.  Your final resting place may not be known, but you have not been forgotten.

Love,
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