Sometimes doing magic looks like caring for someone you love.
I am one of those people who likes to honour holy days with quietness: silence and solitude are some of my nearest and dearest friends. Sometimes my desire for reflection, of taking the time to notice the astrological and energetic tides waxing and waning with luminary bodies fills my bones with a yearning I can’t describe. And still: someone I love needs something, needs me. Needs time. Mundane and simple, banal and basic. It’s easy to say no. But: it is also some real magic to abandon my altar and magical books and gemstones for the night. To snuff out my candles. Sometimes, when I ignore my altar and the trappings of perfect astrological timing – when I follow the mercurial currents of life – I am choosing a different, less obvious magic. I am choosing a more subtle witchcraft.
These are the things that fill my thoughts. How do we remain true to practice, to our hearts? How to prevent the fossilization of angels within our witchcraft and within our waking and walking, our wandering and wondering? I notice find tradition. Ritual, repeated. A tradition not because the paths are are old and oft-trod but because they speak and I listen. I hear with my heart.
For the second year in a row, I spent the first few hours of October 31st in the tattoo studio of an artist, occultist, and human I deeply respect, getting little occult-themed tattoos in red and black ink for a Devil’s night special of $66.60. I find such comfort in this, in staying up until 4am once a year, in mirth and also in reverence.
Altar cleared; re-built. Candles lit. Herbs, oils, brews; anointed objects whispers spoken, drifting in between here and there and life and death and: listening. Giving food to my protectors, those who nourish. Those ancestors I feel, room warm and tingly. Cats silent and still; they look with their whiskers and they too know the presence of the dead. Sometimes, it seems they feel it before I do.
I listen to the dead. I make space for them. I write. I see my own heart and feel my soul. I let my body become overtaken, I say words I channel I write without knowing what I will read later. I make space for them.
It’s that time of year.
At the time of this writing, just barely between the last two harvests of the season. Blood harvest. I’m not sure why it took me so long to realize that my most holy time of year – Samhain, Halloween, All Hallows, All Saints – occurs while the sun is in Scorpio. No wonder this energy is so violent, transformative: full of kind wrath and death and decay and change; no wonder our collective insides are ripped out every year right around now so we can remove the rot. If we know how to be we are reborn fresh and carry less upon our shoulders and balanced upon our heads. We cut some flesh from our souls so we can walk a few pounds lighter, back straighter, steps more confident but still whispers in the dark. We ride the current.
Waves crest; peak.
Scythes and sickles hearken to harvest. We love the flesh and blood and the dearly departed; companions with breath and without. We reap. We sow. We give thanks.
No wonder this is when we feel most strongly pushed to honour our dead, to thank our ancestors for their guidance and presence and remind them that we are still here. We place water on our altars and anoint our necks and foreheads and we ask them to speak. We strain our skin to see. We squeeze our eyes shut to feel.
After I sleep and wake and the sun sets again, I walk amongst the pumpkins, carved candles burning bright. I collect orange leaves and red ones and green.
We limn the liminal. We fill our homes with flame so the spirits can find their way, feast upon ghost corn of pomegranate, pepper, clementine. Ghost feast, share secrets. Listen: feel gratitude. Listen: flow, don’t fight. You have everything you need.
Happy harvest and holy days, witchy friends.
May your spirit be peaceful and your dead be talkative.