Rainy Walks, Part II

My mind flashed back to the present. Soba was ready to go home; she was wagging her tail and waiting patiently for me to realize we had stopped. I realized my legs were aching and I was ready to head home too. We had walked in a large circle, and only had about a mile back to the house. I sat down with Soba on the wet ground to relax a little bit longer in this cool morning before returning home. As I stretched out my legs, Soba licked my face, wanting attention. After rubbing her ears for a bit, I got up and we started home. We wandered through the near by park, enjoying the wet grass, the budding trees, and the freshness of everything just washed in the new rain. The rhythm of the walk, the smells and the cool air transported my mind right back to that night.

I was a bit nervous, but I felt like I shouldn’t show it. After all, I trusted these people, and they didn’t seem nervous at all. Every time I looked at one of them I could feel their happiness coming through their smiles. Selene and Karyn went over to the pile of backpacks again, and came towards me carrying a bundle of dark cloth. As Selene handed me the bundle, she explained that this was for me, it was a robe. I was a bit puzzled, and I guess it showed. Karyn jumped in with explanations as she hugged me. The five of them had made the robe over the last year, I was impressed. I hadn’t even known I would be practicing with them back then.

“It is for you to wear when you are with us, on ……. special nights.” She seemed to stumble over the word special. Selene suppressed a smile at this, and I thought it odd. But I was quickly ushered away to the other side of the oak tree to change. At first I was afraid someone would see me. But after I looked around a moment, I quickly realized we were all alone out here. Selene had said to take my time, and linger a bit. Karyn said to look at the moon. So I stripped off my clothes, and slipped the robe over my head. I could smell the incense still heavy on the fabric. I could feel the soft cotton against my skin. Just that small act, that feeling, those smells, they did so much to my mind. They made me feel alive and present in the moment, and at the same time I suddenly felt huge, and spread out over time like a great ribbon. I looked up at the moon. After a moment’s thought, I took off my boots and wet socks too.

The moon was very bright; it looked bigger than it was in the sky. I could see plenty of stars out too. ‘The sky is so big out here’ I thought to myself. As I looked up at the moon, I almost felt like it was looking back at me. I remembered sitting around the fire with my friends a summer or two ago as Darius talked about the moon as the connection point through history. Every human on earth has gazed at that same full moon. Each priestess has lifted her arms in praise to that moon over the course of our history. All witches have looked at that moon in many times and places. And the moon is a mirror for the light of the sun, but also a mirror for each of us as we gaze upon it and bridge space and time to connect with our ancestors. I felt the weight of such a great thought crash into my chest as I stumbled slightly and fell against the tree. I shook my head to clear away the thought and started back around the tree towards the group.

Everyone had donned similar robes, and they had pulled up their hoods, so I couldn’t see their faces. Brian was standing at the little doorway we had left in our trench looking at me. It was easy to pick him out, being the rather large man that he was. I felt comforted that it was him standing at the edge. As I went to join the group around the fire, he held a hand up to my chest and stopped me. A bit forcefully I thought. Darius was down on the ground lighting the bundle of tinder. And the others were gathered around him, holding out their arms so their robes would block the wind. Just as they began chanting together, the wind changed directions, and I couldn’t make out the words. But soon there was a blaze of light from inside the little circle of robes, and they stepped back as the fire caught.

They all came to join Brian and I, and Darius and Selene began to ask me many questions. I found the answers coming easily, even though I had never heard the questions before. They were odd riddles, but I puzzled them out quickly, thinking back to the many stories my friends had told me over the time we had been together. I felt nervous each time they asked, thinking I had no idea what it could be. And then, there flowing out of my own lips as if rehearsed were answers that brought smiles to my friends faces. The riddles had all been answered, Selene nodded and stepped back slightly. Brian stepped forward and pushed back his hood. He placed his hands on my shoulders. He was very solemn and very serious. Not a look I was used to seeing on my friend’s face.

“In order to join us as a sister, you must take the same oath as we have. You must take this oath of your own accord, understanding it fully. If you wish to take this oath, we will call forth the witnesses.”

I responded that I was ready, because at that moment, there was no doubt in my heart, that this is where I needed to be, and these were the people I needed to be here with. He hugged me tight, in his big bear hug. I hugged him back, and all was joy. Then secrets passed between us, passwords and codes for entrance into this liminal space of the compass.

I was invited to sit by the fire as they prepared. They bustled around me, first pouring out the contents of the cauldron into the trench, and then taking the cauldron over to the stang. I watched the warm vapors rise as the cool earth was filled with the liquid. The smell of the broth filled my nose, and I began to feel light and full of joy. They began walking around both inside and outside the trench, knocking on the earth and calling out. Sometimes I understood what they said, sometimes I didn’t. But it wasn’t long before I felt many people arrive. I couldn’t see them, except just at the edge of my vision, but I knew they were there. Brian came and took up my hand, as he helped me to my feet.

“Only a few more.….”

I snapped back to the present, as I realized we had just walked past the house. Soba was pulling the leash back the other way. Feeling a bit sheepish for spacing off, I turned with her and went back to the house. The evening still hung on my mind as I put the leash away and fixed Soba’s breakfast. I fixed a glass of ice water and sat down on the couch to continue my musings.

As I began to think through the rest of the amazing evening, I unconsciously recited the words of my oath out loud to the room. And like a thunder clap, there it was, as plain as day! The thing I was searching for, that empty spot that had been heavy on my heart for the last season. It had been several years since I had to part ways with my group of friends and I missed them terribly. Selene had passed away only a year ago, and the thoughts of her funeral tempered the joy of my discovery with bitter sweet reality.

I knew what I had to do. It was so plain now, just like all of those riddles that night. I went back into the bedroom, and took the lantern off of my bedside table, given to me by Karyn to light my way. She had said, when the time was right, I would know how to use it. This lantern would serve well as a beacon to anyone who needed to find me. I opened the little drawer in my desk in the living room, and pulled out the little tinder box with the flints that Darius had given me. ‘Sometimes we need warmth, and sometimes we need a signal fire’ he had said.

As I worked carefully over the small bundle of tinder with the flint, saying the proper words, Soba came to sit and watch me. The tinder took a spark and I cradled it and nursed it to a flame. I touched the flame to the wick in the lantern and turned it down so that the flame was bright yet controlled. As I walked the lantern out to the hook in the back yard, I spoke to the little delicate flame inside.

“The old magic needs to live here again. It is time for the fire to spread, and for me to pass on what I was taught. Light the way for me to find the next in our line. Be a beacon to them that they may find me on their walks. Let those who are called awaken to the knowledge that a warm hearth fire has been lit for them, and that the door is open for them to come home now.”

With that, I went back inside, and gathered up my jacket, purse and keys. I had a feeling that I just might bump into someone interesting at the local coffee shop today.

Some Crocheted Hats

I have always loved witch hats. I love the way they look, the mystique they carry, and all of the meaning behind them.

I also love to crochet. So I combined the two and made some hats. I went looking for a pattern on the Internet to just get me started, as I had never made a pointy hat before. I thought with a pattern it might help with my math a bit. I found one pattern, which surprised me. I figured there would be more than that. But, there was only one. It was done in double crochet, with 3 increases per row. The pattern called for joining each row with a slip stitch and beginning a new row with a chain 3. Not my favorite, as I am not a fan of the seam look in crochet, but I followed it faithfully anyways, since I didn’t really know what I was doing. The result was this black hat. I put wire in the brim, as it seemed a bit soft. The wire really stretched it out at the crown more than I liked, so I went back and wove in a chain with some spirals on the ends to act as a draw string.

This black and green version was my next attempt. This was all done in single crochet, using the tapestry crochet technique. I carried all three yarns through out, and it made a very sturdy hat. I had no pattern, and I made up the design as I went.

I did this starting with 3 single crochet in a magic ring, and increased randomly by three each round. I did not join rounds, but instead worked in a spiral.

After the fourth round with twelve stitches, I used some bright orange scrap yarn to mark off thirds of the hat. I carried these little bits of yarn all the way to the brim, just weaving them through as I went. Then I only had to make one increase in between each marker. It made it much easier, and I didn’t have to count.

When I got the cone wide enough to fit over my head, I increased for the brim. I did one single crochet in the stitch, then two single crochet in the next stitch around the first round. This did not work out quite perfect, so I skipped about a sixth of those extra single crochets, rather randomly. I kept working in my color pattern with the tapestry crochet.

I then worked the brim with only one increase in each round until I felt it was big enough. I used some wire from the hardware store to put in the brim. After fastening off the dark green and black and weaving them clear back to the top, I single crocheted without an increase over the wire. When I got back around to the start, I slip stitched into about 8 stitches to securely cover the point where I had the wire ends overlapping. I used a bit of duct tape on the wire, as twisting it would have been too bulky. Then I wove the light green back up to the top, and knotted each yarn to its start tail and wove those ends in too. I like to do this with hats, as it ensures the ends don’t come loose. Since this was done with cheap Red Heart acrylic yarn, it keeps the rain off very well.

This is my third attempt. I used the same formula as for the green hat, except I placed the three increases all in a line. This results in three points on the bottom edge. This is a home spun yarn with a thick blue plied with white, and then a thinner tan plied with some brownish. I have no idea what the content is or anything, as it was yarn I received in a trade long, long ago. When I got the cone big enough to fit my head, I realized I didn’t have enough yarn left to make the brim, so I opted for ear flaps instead.

 I stitched each flap starting at one of the points and towards what I was now calling the front, that has the center point. They are 13 stitches wide, decreasing on each side and turning every row. I stopped at 3 stitches on the last row. Then I went around the ear flap and across the back to the other flap, and repeated it. I went around the ear flap and across the back again to the first ear flap and made the ties. The ties are just a chain, with a double crochet spiral on the end, I then single crocheted back up the chain and went around the front of the hat in single crochet to put on the other tie. When I was finished I wove the end in back to the top and tied it to the starting tail, and wove those ends in.

The hat turned out to be a bit longer in the back with those extra rows, and it fits down warmly over the nape of my neck. The front center point dips down right between my eyebrows and looks very cute. Since the yarn is so knobby, the hat holds tightly together and can be bent and shaped and it will stay.

Zoos and Goats

Yesterday was pretty much a wash as far as getting much done in my crafting or Crafting. I did however enjoy the day taking my oldest son Oz to the zoo with his class. We had quite a day there. We had a very big scavenger hunt to complete, along with a lot of questions about the animals we saw.

But the kids had a good time. I made sure to bring quarters for the petting zoo, since the kids weren’t allowed to bring any money. I enjoyed petting the animals just as much as the kids did! The Australian exhibit was open again. It has been closed for remodeling for some time now. We saw the anteaters, which all of the children thought were very, very strange.

We saw this guy, an Andean Bear. He was surprisingly playful and
active. While we were watching he sat down on his haunches and
picked up on of the balls he had in his cage.

Before lunch, we had a chance to stop and feed the goldfish. They were quite frenzied. This photo was maybe a sixth of them that were swarmed around where we were tossing the food.

After lunch we went to the petting zoos. This peacock decided to chase me around with his tail spread. It was a bit frightening, but I did feel quite flattered, that I was worth his display. The other male peacock near by was going after a female peacock with his tail. Ah, spring is definitely in the air here.

Speaking of spring, here are some photos from a trip to the zoo with just family in late March. I was of course entranced by the goats, and the baby goats, and sheep that were just heart-melting cute.

These little babies were curious about us, but wore out easily. They would run around for about 2 minutes, then lay down and let the kids pet them for about 15.

I just love these little cuties. Something about combining sheep or goats and babies just puts me over the edge.

And then, I managed to come upon the vampire bats while they were eating. These little guys are so neat. I love how they walk on their hands, and the wings curve around them as they do it. I am fascinated by bats.

Which brings to me to something related to occultism, the subject of animals and anthropomorphic forms, especially that of the goat. Thinking of the bats, it reminds me of the Winged Serpent, and why that is such an important function in Meso America. While extremely fascinating, and educational, that is not the culture that pulls in my blood. The Northern European cultures that revered goats are what calls to me. Goats are something special, they eat most everything, they are single minded, and they have a distinctive personality. They are also very useful animals for harvesting and services when domesticated. They provide milk, meat, fur, recycling, and protection to a certain degree.

The worship of the Goat footed God extends across many lands, and the power of tragomorphic ritual is well known to many writers of the older grammayers.

Rainy Walks

 (Nota bene; This is a work of fiction, but it is based on actual events. I have made it into a story to preserve the mystery that surrounds initiation. Names of course have been changed)
I awoke again to a dreary, rainy morning. It was Saturday, and at least I had the day off work. These fifty hour work weeks were really putting the screws to me lately. But the money was good, and the work was enjoyable. It even gave me time to think. Sometimes too much time.
The nagging thoughts were there again, that I needed to be doing something more with my life. Here I was, in my late thirties, working a good job, and just kind of coasting. I had no drive, no passion anymore. I knew there was something out there; just begging me to come and find it, but it still eluded me. What was it I was searching for? What was that calling inside of me?

I brushed off the thoughts and got out of bed. After my shower I took the dog for her morning walk. This was the best part of my day. Off we went through the city, wherever our feet took us. The cool wind on my face, the steady rhythm of our walk, the smells of budding spring all around and the joy of finding something delightful just around the corner. Perhaps we would find a bird’s nest, or a new tree we hadn’t seen before, or some flowers, just waiting for us to come along and enjoy their delightful scent. Soba led me on as we trotted from block to block, and I let my mind drift. I thought of the group I had encountered back in college. They had said they were magicians, and they performed some rather odd rituals. But the more I got to know them, the more I realized the rituals weren’t odd, just unfamiliar to me. I had spent several years hanging out with them, and occasionally catching glimpses into the other world they seemed to live in. After a while, I realized I was learning from them, and soon yearning to join them there. I caught the smell of the wet grass under my feet, and I remembered the night they asked me to join them for the first time. It was the full moon, and I remember the walk to the field.

It was spring, like it is now. The wind was cool that evening, and the air was wet with the rains of April still in the air. We were walking quietly in a line, following Darius at the front. He was leading things tonight, and he had picked out a location for us. We were out in the back woods of Montana. We had all driven out there together that afternoon. The drive had seemed like any other road trip, lots of fun songs in the van, junk food and jokes. But after our picnic dinner, things began to take on a solemn tone. We went back to the van and drove off onto a back dirt road filled with holes. After stopping at what seemed to me a random point we gathered our back packs and set off in a line for our ritual site. I hadn’t packed any of the bags, but the one on my back sounded like it might contain some metal wrapped in cloth. It wasn’t heavy, and I was curious as to what it was we were carrying.

I looked up ahead again, bringing my thoughts back to our trek. Darius had stopped and was surveying the land and sky. He seemed to be looking for something. It struck me briefly that we might be lost, a bunch of college students out in the middle of nowhere as the sun set. But soon he turned to the right and set off to the East with a definite purpose, and my mind was reassured. Selene fell into step beside me. She was Darius’s partner in the group. They both had lovers outside of this little circle of friends, but together they lead the group. She looked at me in her way, which was to look deep inside my eyes and ask questions that she found the answers to. I never quiet knew what her questions were, but she seemed satisfied. She gave me a reassuring smile, which quickly burst into a grin of joy. I returned her big, glowing smile, feeling warm inside, despite my wet socks. And I had the feeling we had just had a conversation, but I didn’t know the words. She picked up her pace a bit, quickly closing the distance between her and Darius. They put their heads together and talked in low tones.

I looked around at the others I was walking with. I felt good about each one of them. After all, these were my close friends. We had been hanging out together for nearly four years now, and we had become a tight knit group. There were three others besides Darius and Selene; Karyn and Bacchus, who were a unit unto themselves. And then there was Brian. It was the obvious arrangement that he and I were working together tonight, since all of the things we had done seemed to happen in pairs so far. He was older than the rest of us, in his early forties. Doing post-graduate work in philosophy, I had met him first in the library. There was an instant attraction, not of the sexual kind, but something there piqued my interest. Since then we had become close friends, even though he was still mysterious to me. We studied together, and hung out on the weekends. He had introduced me slowly to the others, and carefully they had introduced me to their world.

I turned around and stumbled backwards a bit, to get a look at Brian. As I turned around, he was already smiling at me, as if he knew I was thinking of him. I had gotten used to that look, and shrugged it off. I winked at him and as I turned back around I stumbled right into Karyn. We had stopped, and she was staring up at the huge oak we were near. It was an amazing sight. It looked ancient. We were down in a little sort of valley, sheltered on three sides by hills. It was rocky here and there was moss on everything. The moss on the tree was caught by the last rays of sun and seemed to glow. I heard the rustling of the backpacks as they were set down and looked over to see Darius and Selene unpacking in what looked like a big dirt circle not far off. I walked over and set down my backpack with the others. No one talked, but everyone still communicated. I stepped back out of the way and let them go to work unpacking, waiting to help if I could. I knew from having been to less formal events like this to just step back until I was asked to do something, and besides, I was learning a lot by watching all that was going on.

Out of Bacchus’s pack came a small cauldron. I had marveled at it before. It was a dark black, iron I guessed. There were relief vines and figures all around it. He set it near the center of the circle, as Brian returned with an armload of rocks. They began to build a small fire pit. Karyn came over with what looked like a little bundle of poles. She deftly extended and assembled them into a tripod. She set this over the fire pit they had built, and unwrapped a chain from the center. On a little hook attached to the chain she hung the cauldron. Soon Darius came back to the circle with a grin on his face that could only be described as triumphant hunter. He was carrying a piece of fallen wood. It was forked in the middle into three branches, with a longer piece coming off the bottom. He was breaking off smaller twigs as he was walking. Brian and Bacchus, armed with camp shovels, quickly met him and walked to a spot outside of the circle with the branch. There was some discussion and counting and pointing, and I assumed they were trying to figure out where to put this new acquisition. I looked back to Karyn and Selene. They were laying out bowls, knives, and food on a cloth near the fire pit. I saw that it must have been the bowls I was carrying; each was wrapped in a cloth that was tucked back in the bags. They began to pour the contents of several jars into the cauldron, and I started to move closer to see what it was they were doing. But I was stopped short by Brian. He handed me a camp shovel, and told me we were going to dig a little trench.

Knowing Brian, I was a bit skeptical of the word little. But it didn’t turn out to be that bad. We dug a small trench around the outside edge of the circle about three inches wide and four inches deep. The ground was soft here, and there were no rocks. As I worked around I realized this had been dug a time or two before. We left a wide gap in the circle toward the branch that was now sticking upright out of the ground, with the three prongs at the top between our dirt circle and the large oak tree. As we finished with our digging, I looked up to see that all seemed to be ready. There was wood collected and laid next to the fire pit. A bottle of what I guessed to be wine was sitting next to a simple wooden goblet, along with the bowls and knives nearby. There was bread on a plate, and a little piece of cloth with a flint and tinder box, a bundle of what I knew was dry tinder, and the odd little bottle that Darius called old fashioned lighter fluid. There were two big ladles, and a tin lantern with some long matches beside it. Selene and Karyn were sweeping the edges of the dirt circle smooth. Brian and I returned our camp shovels to their little bags and took them over to the pile of backpacks out on the edge of the circle. I could feel the anticipation thick in the air, and I could feel the butterflies in my stomach. This was really it, I thought to myself. I was going to be initiated.