Beltane Lovers – Once You Go Witch, You’ll Never Switch

When Beltane draws hot and bothered to the fore, we witches celebrate a Greater Sabbat that is certainly the most juicy and delicious of them all. This year the solar date of Beltane falls on May 5th, 2016. That is when we reach 15 degrees Taurus on our journey around the sun.

We call Beltane a “Greater” Sabbat because it is the apex of the spring season. This is high tide of the season of fertility, and everyone is twitterpated, bursting with lusty motivation, passion and burning desire to do…something or someone.  Most of the witches I know are ravenously plowing the fields of their gardens…others ravenously, well…you know.  <winks>

a wreath, chalice, and blade placed on the ground outside

Courtesy of Heron Michelle

This is our celebration of union, the sacred marriage of Goddess and God, and the heiros gamos that creates the Universe. Beltane is the wedding, and in my Wheel of the Year thealogy, I recognize how it rests in the balance across from Samhain, and is the happy, joyous moment that keeps the mournful dearth of the funeral in equal measure.

In my post: Samhain – The Poison and the Antidote, I wrote:

“Consider the Wheel of the Year as a system of teaching a balance between the polarities. Each Sabbat has aspects that are medicine to cure what ails us, and other aspects that can feel like the poisoned pill, so hard to swallow. Yet, the antidote to cure us at one sabbat can be distilled from the poison of the sabbat on the opposite side of the wheel. One Samhain/Beltane polarity can be described as reverence and mirth.”

 

Beltane is a Party…with Healthy Boundaries

They say there is a time and a place for everything, and the Wheel of the Year covers all the bases.  On the face of it, you could say that Beltane, like college, is the “party” of the sabbat cycle. Bring on the cavorting, flirtation, tipsy indulgence and scantily-clad dancing around the balefires. I don’t know about y’all, but I’m a big fan of parties, which is a very good reason why I’ve set the clocks of my life to the rhythms celebrated through Wiccan-style rites.

In our sacred poetry, we are asked to: “Drink the good wine to the old gods, and sing and make love in their praise.” ¹ “…and you shall dance, sing, feast, make music and love, all in my praise.” ²

Alrighty then! Give me some of that old time religion! Beltane is so much fun to me, but I also recognize that seeking balance is the key to both a healthy practice of witchcraft, and to a healthy life. Never forget the first and most important rule of witchcraft is Don’t burn the Witch.

While intoxication and sex are two of my favorite options from Gardner’s Eight Paths of Power, we all must make sure to be safe and responsible while we dance ’round those fires. Don’t forget to pack the prophylactics, arrange for a designated driver or crash space, eat a solid meal, take your B12 vitamins, and drink twice as much water as the poison…because we all know alcohol is basically a poison, and nothing else quite taints a pagan party like the 4 am barfing out of your tent flap. <cough>don’t ask me how I know<cough>

Click here to read the rest of this article at The Agora Blog on the Patheos Pagan Channel.

Creating Sacred Space: Calls of Thanksgiving

Horn_Of_Plenty_01aa

Tomorrow, The Sojo Circle participates in the Interfaith Thanksgiving Service alongside our Abrahamic, Hindu, Buddhist, Secular Humanist, and Unitarian Universalist neighbors. I’m proud to say that a member of our circle is now the Director of the Interfaith Alliance of Eastern North Carolina, so we feel right at home in their lovely services. Every year this is a beneficial experience, and I look forward to reprising these poetic calls that we first shared in 2011.  Of course, we celebrated the Mabon Thanksgiving sabbat and feast back in September, but I’m happy to join my neighbors during this time our nation sets aside for gratitude.

Should the opportunity present itself, I welcome you to use these words to create your own sacred space. Happy Thanksgiving, and many blessings of abundance to you all!

Mabon Calls of Thanksgiving

~By Heron Michelle

Blessings of the East and of Air!
Amber twilight and crisp autumn chill, reddening the cheeks and painting the hills!
As the harvest ends, I greet you in this sacred space!
Open the gates of thought and inspire us!
Let there be wonder and wisdom as we gather in Thanksgiving!
Welcome Air!

Blessings of the South and of Fire!
Crimson sun and hearth fire burning, warming heart and home this autumn turning,
As the nights lengthen, I greet you in this sacred space!
Open the gates of action and revitalize us!
Let there be generosity and gratitude as we gather in Thanksgiving!
Welcome Fire!

Blessings of the West and of Water!
Silver rains and misty morning, hot mulled cider and memory swirling!
As the tides ebb, I greet you in this sacred space!
Open the gates of emotion and stir our hearts!
Let there be compassion and benevolence as we gather in Thanksgiving!
Welcome Water!

Blessings of the North and of Earth!
Russet fields and bounty gathered, family recipes prepared on heaping platters,
As the feast is celebrated, I greet you in this sacred space!
Open the gates of growth and nurture us!
Let there be abundance and fulfillment as we gather in Thanksgiving!
Welcome, Earth!

Blessings of the Center, Great Spirit!
Known by many names and many faces, Mother and Father, Nurturer and Provider!
Dark fertile earth and flaming sun, when met with love brings forth the bounty of the land and all that can sustain us.
As we assemble with our greater family, I greet you in this sacred space!
Open the gates of Spirit and unite us!
Let there be acceptance and peace for our community as we gather in Thanksgiving!
Welcome, Spirit!

Release

Blessings of the Center, Great Spirit!
From this sacred space we send the light of acceptance and peace into our community!
With gratitude and reverence, we walk in Spirit.
Blessed be!

Blessings of the North and of Earth!
From this sacred space we send the light of abundance and fulfillment into our community!
With gratitude and reverence, we bid you farewell.
Blessed be!

Blessings of the West and of Water!
From this sacred space we send the light of compassion and benevolence into our community!
With gratitude and reverence, we bid you farewell.
Blessed be!

Blessings of the South and of Fire!
From this sacred space we send the light of generosity and gratitude into our community.
With gratitude and reverence, we bid you farewell.
Blessed be!

Blessings of the East and of Air!
From this sacred space we send the light of wonder and wisdom into our community.
With gratitude and reverence, we bid you farewell.
Blessed be!

All!

The circle is open, but never broken. Merry Meet, Merry Part and Merry Meet Again!

A Deep Swim to find an Old Poem

becauseI'mYoungThis morning, I took a deep swim for a bit, resulting in my previous post, The Other Option.  I posted that through my iPhone, from the patio of the local Starbucks, on a bright and sunny morning, as the bustle of traffic and progress buzzed around me.  (It has now been edited! Sorry about that, folks. No more trance-posting without editorial review.)  There was a Chai Tea Latte to be enjoyed, my trusty calligraphy pen in my hand, and a book I couldn’t wait to read.  The occasional dear friend popped by to say hello and give squeezes! Sounds like an ideal summer morning, right? You’d think.

“The deep swim,”  is what I call it when I slip into the deeps of the rabbit hole without really intending to do so, but I become opened to what is happening outside of my little body/life/house/town, and the feels just come flooding in, sometimes I get swept away. I can get lost down there in the murk, and as I am rather empathic, those feels become my feels and can be difficult to shake off.

Thing is, they aren’t my feels, so meanwhile the tidal wave comes crashing through me, my conscious, analytical mind is busy observing them. I am both experiencing this funk of the world and observing them from a distance.  When I came back from that swim this morning, I was aware of this palpable quality to the outer world…tension, fearfulness, mourning. I check FB later, and there is another school shooting. Didn’t this just happen? And the time before?  My friend Lynn comments that these have brought the longest period of “consistent despondency” she’s ever had. That was it. Those words capture the feels of the deep swim…relentless, “consistent despondency.”

Ghostbusters 2Picture me at that moment on the Starbucks patio, just like Ray and Winston in Ghostbusters 2, covered in the pink mood slime of these blargy feels of fear and resentment, angry that I’m laid opened and bare to these things, that this is the person I have become, in what this world has become, trapped in this problematic meat-suit <downward spiral diatribe redacted.>

This image comes to mind of how the world has this nasty, seething, hideous underbelly, and I was sick and tired of having to stare it down all the time. I didn’t choose this! <fists shaken to the Universe>

*Click*

Maybe I did ask for this….that underbelly idea rang a few chimes. So I went back and found this poem I wrote my senior year of high school. I was 17, impetuous and so full of my own sovereignty it is a wonder I survived. This is before I ever had any idea that neo-paganism, or witchcraft,  existed…back when all I knew was that the Bible did not apply to me, that I was about to go off to college and I wanted to learn EVERYTHING (even the stuff the church said was “of the devil”,) and I could not wait to be out from under my mother’s thumb so badly that I could taste it. I wrote this poem as my anthem, it was the giant middle finger, brandished backwardly, as I galloped out of the South and into the horizon. I was such an asshole.

It was published in the Fine Arts Center’s literary journal called The Cripple Creek Review in 1992, so that is where I found it.  The 22nd anniversary of my high school graduation was this week. I am amused now to see how many of these wishes came true, literally and figuratively, for better or for worse. (I’ve covered that “drunk” and “pregnant” wish well-enough, let’s hope I earn the rights to try “old.”)

I wanted to discover the underpinnings of the Universe in unbridled exploration of the good, the bad, and the ugly, and I got my wish. Now I should write one called, “Because I’m 40 and Know Better…”

Alas, for your amusement…

Because I’m Young

Life, I said,
slam shut the faded covers
of instructions booklets, of bibles.
Open my eyes, guide me naked, white
through wet streets at midnight,
through Budapest, Brooklyn, Beijing.
Take my hand, envelope me in your time line,
play connect the dots with each fate I cross.

Show me the gray underbelly of shadows
that lie waiting like small dragons in alleys;
lull me to dreaming in the blue fog of grief;
slip me through cracks in this sidewalk;
show me those who have gone before;
let me love them, breathe them.
Lay me down, cradle my head on your black
lacquer chopping block, cleave open
my skull like Queen Mary* and pour
from your green goblet
of knowledge.

Show me Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha;
make me drunk, pregnant, old;
mold me in your Plaster of Paris of stomach
and spit me out.

Life, I demanded, pull back your thorny fist
and hit me for all you are worth.

 

*My kids make me aware that not everyone knows that when Queen Mary was beheaded that it took the executioner several swings of the axe to get the job done, which was some brutal, messy business. Then they found her dog hiding under her skirts.  She went to her death bravely and with grace.

Wings…and what they say

heron horizonIt is a day of mournful poetry. When I awoke this morning I did not yet know that poet Maya Angelou had passed beyond the veil. Maya has been an inspiration to me since I was in Creative Writing school in ’90-’92. What a woman!

Before I’d heard of her passing, I’d already penned a poem that was beating its way through me all week. Have you ever heard of poet David Swanger? He wrote a poem called “What the Wing Says” that for twenty-two years has been my all-time favorite for the way it stirs me, it evokes….something intangible… that I still can’t quite wrap my mind around.  At 17 years old I did not understand its meaning, though it said different things to me then.  At 40 years old I am coming close to figuring it out, yet it remains still “on the outermost edge of desire.”

That is surely the point of poetry, is it not? To ensnare the mind and forever change the reader in some subtle way?  David Swanger is a poet who succeeded at doing just that. All week I’ve heard this line echoing in the halls of my consciousness, “Dismiss the grocer of your soul. Nothing important can be weighed…”

I offer you two poems today: David Swanger’s poem, and then a poem of my own, that was most certainly influenced by it…maybe even an answer back to the Wing, or a conversational reply…

What the Wing Says
By David Swanger

The wing says, “I am the space behind you,
a dent in the fender, hands you remember
for the way they touched you. You can look
back and song will still throb. I am air
moving ahead, the outermost edge of desire,
the ripple of departure and arrival. But

I will speak more plainly: you think you are
the middle of your life, your own fulcrum,
your years poised like reckonings in the balance.
This is not so: dismiss the grocer of your soul.
Nothing important can be weighed, which is why
I am the silver river of your mornings and
the silver lake curled around your dark dreams.
I am not wax nor tricks stolen from birds.

I know you despair at noon, when sky overflows
with the present tense, and at night as you lie
among those you have wronged; I know you have failed
in what matters most, and use your groin to forget.
Does the future move in only one direction?
Think how roots find their way, how hair spreads
on the pillow, how watercolors give birth to light.
Think how dangerous I am, because of what I offer you.”

 

Entanglement
By Heron Michelle

Wednesday dawns,
not unlike Tuesday,
and so many Mondays before.
Days into months into years,
epochs stretch back,
like beads on silken thread,
distant beyond counting,
but why bother? Death by tedium
or their crushing weight,
inevitable, just hard to predict;
space-time is a feckless bitch.
No choice but to wear the pitiful lariat,
a consolation prize
for mere attendance of my life.
It is my noon and I despair.
What new fulcrum can shift the balance
of these days?

I become the bobbing ship, crowded
with discontent, sheets slack
with the jab and snap of second-guessing,
getting no where; the albatross is dead.
It is a hungry time, no craving slaked,
a weary time, no rest found in these dreams,
sailing on and on with no arrival.

My eyes ache from strain
denied one visage, yet
I can no longer see the same way,
craving that which is beyond reach,
as existence becomes an assault.
Entangled in old nets, I am bound,
drowning in the snares of my making.
No daring now, I am afraid.
I cannot swim these waters alone
bearing the weight of regret,
and no way to forget.

Tiptoeing the banks,
heron feet in the murk,
head down to probe the mud,
discerning waste from sustenance.
What say you now, wings?
To rise or fall with these tides?
Ripples in these waters still throb,
and sights scryed in the black,
say “take flight! Take heart,
and beat the songs of these reckonings
to where the sun meets horizon
and is resolved in the dissolving
across a lonely sea, chasing
that one elusive fish
who got away.”

Beltane Lovers

Sliver of maiden moon,
slight as a bride, in swelling expectation,
rushing through the ceremony,
mind on the consummation.
Beltane blossom, tight petal lips
raised in prayerful longing,
Tides rise to peaking, nature sings,
every beast beseeching
in the whispering pines,
“Come hither!
I am the one!
Choose me!”

Balefires burn, sparks flying,
the god descends to join his lover,
and nature becomes their bower,
singing the songs of wanting,
languid in each exquisite moment,
savoring it on the tongue like nectar, intoxicating.

Fingers twist in her hair,
there is strength there.
Universe thrumming,
the earth herself arches,
and they dance again,
in sabbat sweat and salt,
enticing spice of wood smoke,
erotic perfume, blossom unfurling,
flesh yearning for that sacred heat
and surrender to the burning.

Veils fall, like their clothes tossed aside,
hearts open, minds wide, enraptured,
each tender touch, entangling.
Too late now, tides sweep them away.
Each kiss, deeper than the last,
blossom wide and opened for the plucking,
leaning into his light 
to be taken.

Winter ices melt, flowing together,
merging, boundaries blurring,
acceptance of different waters
rising and falling,
as one body, one temple,
erected 
where her goddess meets his god
and the Universe screams their Divine names.
A liturgy of union, a song of salvation
from separation is sung, a duet at last.
Swimming those deep waters,
he made the quest, seeking,
fearless Knight of Cups,
who knew the mystery 
and could drink
from her holy grail, eternally.

Beltane lovers, King and Queencups-queen
walking the limits of
 seen and unseen,
hers for the merging,
hearts bound, hands fasted,
a perfect circle, returning.
As it is above; it is true below,
their cup overflows in affirmation.
To every query,
 answers the resounding 
YES!
“I am here;
You are the one;
I choose you!”

Darkness Naming

I wrote this poem several years ago as I was struggling through the many pains of separation and divorce. Sometimes when all the feels build up, poetry is a way that I release the pressure before doing something that would be harmful.

Darkness Naming
by Heron Michelle

There is a darkness
rising from my fetid depths, roiling,
stomach bile and acrid steaming,
pressure builds to whistle screaming,
the tweak and grate of countless irritating rubs
against my grain; I am raw.

Do I name this dark carbonated rising
to pop the toxic bubbles before I blow?
Self-inflicted–no–allowed woundings,
old nemeses–no–partners in crime,
intimately known, yet loathed,
for the yucky, shameful feelings that they crow.

Bigotry, pop.
Degradation, pop.
That hilt in my back, pop.
Lost love, friends, respect, pop, pop, pop.
Blindness and delusion, pop.
An idealistic young woman who with each unholy lick and suck
swallows what was sacred, and mine–bitch–POP.
My own youthful idealism, pop.
Michelle, pop.

I’m laid bare in my own shadow,
open and oozing, bomb diffusing
dazed from the naming,
splattered with the film of teary splashes,
dark, iridescent and shining.

Names of darkness banished to
in-consequence, evaporating,
hopefully forgotten.
What remains needs renaming,
Yet I still don’t know if my
last name
can be
released.