Nightscapes

A few nights ago, I was invited to attend a gathering by my friend’s dead mother.  For weeks, she has been meeting this hoodoo (?) priestess woman in the middle of the night at a dance/yoga studio.  Two a.m. on a Wednesday – the floor of the studio was aged wood.  It was a hot second floor space in the city; the windows were uncovered, but the night outside was completely black.  I stood with a couple of other newcomers just at the threshold, observing.  The woman opened the ritual by slicing furiously at the floor with both hands clutching an invisible blade, then sprinkling a line of dirt, spitting on it, rubbing it in.  All efforts to open the veil just enough, then seal it before too much came in or went out.  Almost outside of my own volition, I found myself first clapping, then participating in the chant that ended in gradually more frenzied dancing.

Afterwards, leaning against the inner wall of the studio room where a small shelf was inset and dimly lit, the woman spoke quietly to me in a sidelong way, revealing short, powerful details without hesitation or ceremony, then told me my name with a sly smile.

In dazzling daylight, I walked with the small group of key members to their designated space in the woods – a white house on an airy hillside.  I observed but stayed clear of the posturing of two women who were vying for position, showing off their more menacing forms in air and water.  I brought thistles and milk, and a human-like dog greeted me in the yard.  I was told to leave roses behind, before we started up the hill to the initiation place.

Other recent dreams marrying magical tools to each other, meeting ghosts in my kitchen and elsewhere, iron charms, wolves, and a frog emerging from our blueberry bush with an exceptionally communicative gaze.

My cold spell is melting, and I feel again the welcome sting behind my eyes.

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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Keys and the Arts of Agatha Christie

I had a dream this week that, while solving a murder mystery at a summer camp with certain members of the cast of “Veronica Mars,” I discovered that the red dirt of the forest floor was littered with half-buried metal artifacts like Allen wrenches and corkscrews and keys.  Among them, I spotted an unusual little skeleton key with a short metallic cylinder at its base.  I was so excited, I pried it out of the earth with my fingertips and took it with me, and it managed to lighten the mood of even such a dire task as confronting a heretofore concealed and respected murderer.

I determined on awakening, after my initial feelings of disappointment that I didn’t actually have such a key in my possession and some fascination that this was my second vivid murder-mystery-solving dream this month, that the symbolism of this dream was overall a good thing, that while working to solve a bigger-picture problem with the help of some brave comrades I might stumble across the key to a personal endeavor.

At least, that is how I’m taking it, and not as a sign that I’m going to have to solve a murder anytime soon.  But really… dream murder solving twice in one month?  That’s unusual, even for me.

Hope all is well out there.

Love,
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Mother Lovers, and a Bath

I’ve learned over the years that one of the most important parts of dream retention is to pay attention to key words and phrases that stand out during a dream, even if they don’t seem to have any immediate meaning.

A while back I had a dream about my goddess self (a rare thing), and from that dream two phrases stood out:

“I am the mother of all my lovers. I bathe in the oceans, my hair in the clouds.”

The last few days have been strenuous and cold, and I came home this evening feeling very much in need of a hot bath. I have a hobby/side job making aromatherapy baths (balneotherapy!), so I filled the tub with hot water and a concoction consisting mostly of high altitude French lavender, South African peppermint, evening primrose oils and milk.

The water was perfect, and I just rested in the heat and steam for a long while, breathing deeply and grounding myself. I decided to try a gentle meditation experiment, and while I soaked, I started repeating the first phrase from my dream. I soon fell into a rhythm, and the tumbling words felt like fingers plucking endless arpeggios on a harp.

The sounds melted into new phrases as I repeated them:

I am the mother of all my lovers
I am the mother of all my mothers
I am the lover of all my mothers

Je suis la mère de tous mes amants
Je suis la mer de tous les amants
Je suis la mère de tous les enfants

As I chanted, drifting from English into French and back again, I began to see an image in my mind of a tall woman with long, flowing hair and a wide hat, standing in a garden, wearing a full skirt in a light, fine fabric, and over it a trailing white apron. I looked through her eyes at the sun-flooded rows of plants and bales of straw around her, the daylight on the fields and copses surrounding the little patch, and felt the draw of the dark, cool forest to one side, bordered by a deep green hedge.

Sharing one body, we turned slowly to face the hedge and advanced towards the forest, to a path between two small but ancient trees. As I watched our bare feet cross the boundary from light to darkness and touch down in the damp, shadowed soil, I suddenly noticed the row of tiny children following silently in her wake.  Squinting in the sunshine, they were reaching out and gripping onto the edges of her wind-whipped apron as it billowed behind her, and as I pressed closely forward, she led them steadily and calmly over the threshold into the deep woods.

Tonight she soothes.

peacefully,
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Keys to the Hidden Door: Part I

For our final installments in this cycle of posts about keys, let’s consider keys in the misty realm of dreams, knowing, secrecy and spiritism!

Keys in Dreams

Now, depending on who you ask, you will get 10,000 different answers for what it means to dream about any given thing.  The folklore collections, for instance, yielded two interpretations: to dream of a key means success, or dream of a key, and you will discover a secret.  Gustavus Hindman Miller’s 1901 dream guide provides the following interpretations of key dreams for ladies: keys denote unexpected changes; if lost, unpleasant adventures; if found, domestic peace or brisk turns to business.  If broken, the key bodes separation through death or jealousy, and lost options.  If a girl should dream of a lost key to a “personal ornament” means quarrels with a lover and distress; if given away, poor judgment in conversation and a bad reputation.

In addition, this turn-of-the-20th-century guide dictates that to dream of unlocking a door points to a new lover, perhaps one in which you have misplaced confidence, and locking a door indicates successful selection of a husband!  One I found particularly unique, is that a dream of being unable to find a keyhole means that you will unconsciously injure a friend.  I’m kind of proud of Gustavus for not automatically jumping from this dream image to an analogy of a failed sexual encounter!

In general, I shy away from prescriptive dream dictionaries, and instead I find it helpful when deciphering a particular dream image to do some free association on what that image evokes in my mind and memory.  It also sometimes helps to imagine that each element of my dream represents some aspect of my own self.

Another thing to keep in mind with dream interpretation as with anything is context.  Context, context, context.  If in your dream you lose a key, and you wake with feelings of anxiety, perhaps this signifies fears of loss of security, or fears of exposure, for example.  If you throw a key away carelessly in your dream, maybe you are ready to give up your secrets and liberate yourself.  If you find a key, maybe it means just that — you will find the key to a waking puzzle.  I find that there is a lot of crossover between the magical aspects of an object and its dream symbology — once you start looking at one, the other begins to seem much more intuitive.

One last hint from the folklore annals:  “A door key placed upside down near your bed will banish bad dreams and produce peaceful sleep.”  How handy!  A nice little witchy and easily-acquired dream catcher.

Keys, Secrecy and Revelation

Just as keys can be used for both opening and closing locks, they can also represent equally either the binding or loosing of power, people, and even information.  Say you have a feeling that you’re ready to leave behind, but you just can’t seem to let it go.  Ever had the feeling of wanting to lock something away and bury the key?  Try doing just that!  Well, at least you can infuse a key with the power of putting that feeling away and bury the key.  This might also be a good spell against gossip, or for keeping someone quiet.  Be careful, though, because when (not if… when) that key gets un-buried , you’ll have to be prepared for the consequences.

Tied to the power of secrecy, and well-known from our dealings with keys in love, the key is a striking symbol of trust.  But it is also a harbinger of tests and temptation.  Think back to the story of La Barbe Bleue, in which the terrible Bluebeard entrusts his young bride with all the keys of his household, granting her total access to every wondrous room but one.  This room carries the grisly remains of Bluebeard’s former wives who failed this test, and when the key is dropped in their blood by the horrified young bride, no matter how hard she scrubs, the key reveals the truth of her betrayal.

If you are trying to fight temptation, try using a key to overcome your weakness.  Imagine the key like Bluebeard’s key, and practice carrying it without giving in to its seductions.  Over time, start envisioning that same key as an instrument of agency — by the end, you carry the key to your own willpower, and it will remain as an emblem of your strength, having overcome your undesired impulses.

On the other side of the coin, say you’re having trouble obtaining information that you seek, and you want to do some magical work to help you break through the barriers.  (Looking for personal insight?  Wondering if it’s really love?  Combating writer’s block??)  Try making an unlocking candle to light while you visualize a positive outcome.  This couldn’t be easier.  Find a candle that you like, preferably with a smooth surface, and a relatively flat key that strikes your fancy.  Press the key into the side of the candle, either up or down, depending on your intentions and using your instincts.

Dress or cleanse the candle, or take any other steps that you feel will lend power to your goal.  Then 1, 2, 3, LIGHT!


…et voilà!  Fiat lux!

Think of it as turning on the light as practice while you work to turn on the bulb above your head.

 

 

Keys, Understanding and Prophecy

As a symbol of opening the ways to knowledge, keys can also unlock the way to enlightenment, initiation, and even shamanic death/rebirth.  (For inspiration, read MacDonald’s “The Golden Key” or Hodgson Burnett’s “The Secret Garden”!)  There is so much more to be said about this, but that is perhaps too deep a topic for this series.

Not surprisingly, keys turn up in many folkloric bits of prophecy and methods of divination.  Let’s highlight a few, shall we?

  1. If a wife’s keys persist in getting rusty, it is a sign that some friend is saving money for her.  [Arrow’s note: hmm… I really don’t know what to make of this one.  Leave a comment if you have some insight!]
  2. If you hand a pregnant woman a key and she picks it up by the hook end, she will have a boy.  If she picks it up by the end that goes in the door, the child will be a girl.
  3. Or: Tie a rusty key on a string and suspend it over the abdomen of the mother while she is lying down.  When the key stops swinging, if it’s parallel to the length of the mother’s body, the baby is a boy.  If the key stops crosswise, the baby is a girl.  [What is it about rusty keys?]

This last bit makes me think a key might make a delightful pendulum, if you’re into pendulum divination.

And finally, a series of practices with keys and Bibles:

If a key is placed on an open Bible, and a certain verse repeated, the key will turn.

If you want a wish granted, open the Bible to Ruth 1:16-18.  Place a key there, with the top end sticking out.  Tie the Bible firmly closed. Hold it, and repeat over and over the above passages.  If your wish will be granted, the key will turn slowly, even though you try to hold it.

[These passages read: “Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.  Where you die, I will be buried.”]

Insert a key in a prayer book.  The key should stick out about an inch or so.  Place two fingers from each hand on each side of the key and say, “Ruth, Ruth, your people will be my people and your God will be my God.  Give me the name (or initials) of the one I’ll marry.”  Then start the alphabet and when the key starts to turn, use that letter for the initial or the name.

As I recall, this practice figures somehow in the novel The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane.  (Not the most trenchant of works, but a time-passer.)  I have never tried it, though, and I am unsure of the relevance of Ruth in these practices.  Why that chapter?  If you have tried this, or if you have any additional information, I’d sure love to hear from you.  Maybe I will try contacting Cory from New World Witchery to see if he has any ideas; he seems like he’d be the one to know!**

The last key and Bible trick for learning the name of your future spouse reminds me a lot of some divinatory games we used to play as kids.  I might have to have a post later on of my favorite slumber party occult games. :)

The next post will be my last installment on keys (at least as part of this cycle), but I will try to end on a spooky note in honor of the crispy creepiness of autumn.

Yay!

Love,
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**Update! Cory gave us a lovely shout out on the Divination and Destiny episode of New World Witchery (you can find a link in the Comments).  Thank you, Cory!  I also had a chance to chat about the bible & key method described above with some friends, and we came up with some proposed answers as to why Ruth would be a choice passage for this practice.

One possibility is that the chosen  passage sounds like it might have some oral-formulaic components, which would make it better known and easier to remember and recite.  Another perspective was that the cited statement is one of complete devotion, so it might be used kind of like saying, “If you grant my wish/answer my question, I will devote my life to you,” and a confirmation of utter trust in the outcome.

An idea I had about it being Ruth in particular is that, as far as I’m aware, the book of Ruth is the only book named for a woman besides the book of Esther.  Because the marriage divination games seem to have been practiced more often by young ladies than young men, Ruth would have made a very strong choice of a female figure with biblical power to call upon that was still approachable, where one might feel slightly awkward about beseeching Mary or Queen Esther, for instance, for a direct response in such small matters.

Readers, if you have any other suggestions or insights, please feel free to leave a comment or email me. :)