Sacred Places: The Mountain

I don’t know about ya’ll, but its important to me to find sacred places in nature to frequent. Now we can argue that all space is sacred, and I certain believe that to be true to some extent. But when I apply the term “sacred” to a place it usually denotes a place that I make offerings/do ritual/have a relationship with. I’m fairly lucky in cultivating a number of these type places and I thought that I’d do them the honor of putting them on my blog as I visit them.

First and probably rightly so, is The Mountain.

The Mountain is sort of a misleading name. In that it’s not referring to just one mountain, nor really just one place, it’s a large expanse of land and valley that has become very sacred to me. You see the Lumberjack use to live on the Mountain, and when we were first dating he would have to travel a couple hours down the Mountain to see me. And in fact he would drive the couple hours down the Mountain to get me, bring me back up to his Mountain and then down again all in the same day. (What can I say he really is a keeper). So this Mountain has a lot of memories for me. It’s also the place of the Lumberjacks ancestral home, his folks still live in the house his Grandfather built.

It is a spectacular drive to get up there, thru a canyon of just sheer beauty. In the valley the view is just breath-taking. Up on the mountain in the picture is the mysterious and elusive Crystal Lake, a lake on top of a mountain! I’ve been a few times it is always spectacular and magical but that’s for another time, its own Sacred Places page. There are hot springs, and endless trails of forest. There is the road where we go looking and find actual fossils! So many beautiful and beloved camping nooks. All under a sky that is just bedazzled with stars. Really I had not seen the night sky until I had seen it up on the Mountain.

Then there is the Lumberjack’s land. 5 acres of wholesome steadfast goodness.

It’s surrounded by plum trees. All of them playful and giving spirits. Every year they are so over loaded with plums, just brimming, and so pleased to have people come out and harvest them. Every year that I go up for a batch I bring them each a little ginger candy and some rum for all their hard work. Then there are the two ENORMOUS pear trees. Much more mischievous and aloof than the plum, they’ve gotten so big that you can’t even harvest all the pears especially not from the top. The Lumberjack’s mom usually just takes whatever pears fall out of the branches, but the Lumberjack himself will scale the tree in delight and pick out what he chooses. He always comes down grinning from ear to ear, I half expect him to start crowing. Apparently the pear trees use to have bears frequenting their yard often, which I think accounts for  the pear’s rugged spirit. I like to leave some whisky for them. The blackberry brambles protect the west end of the property and run wild trying to over take the road. I give them a little milk to soothe their feral spirit. The two crab-apple trees sit closest to the house and seem to enjoy just being sung to. While the garden on the side is well tended to you, it’s rustic in nature and likes a good hardy slice of bread and milk for the work it’s done. This year there are strawberries, rhubarb, and broccoli growing. Then there’s the creek!

I love this little creek. It’s only about two feet wide, but it runs clean fresh water all year round. It runs right behind the house, they have the most adorable little bridge.  Lots of frogs and little garden snakes enjoy the cool waters. I have to say I love having fresh running water on the property, it just feels right. I usually make something special for the creek, and cast flower petals into it’s clear waters.

This is the place that I held my first vigil for Winter solstice and brought up the sun with a HUGE bonfire. It was glorious. This is where we come for Christmas. This is where I go to just get away, and reset. It’s where I like to do most my wild crafting for my incense. It’s where I like to gather my fruits for offerings, because I can give the trees offerings too. It’s just sort of one of those places that seeps with calm, wild, magical energy.

Like I said, the Mountain encompasses so much more than just that 5 acres of retreat. It’s also the drive up there. And there are so many wonderful little sacred spots on the way up. We don’t always stop at all of them, because sometimes we’re in a hurry. But we did this time, and I love it whenever we do.

This is a little fountain shrine off the side of the road on the way thru the canyon. Now it’s just a drain of water off the mountain with a little slate/cement around it but that extra bit of effort really made a gathering spot for energy. It’s a little spot to sort of take in the harmony that can come when humans and the outdoors meet. I tell the Lumberjack every time that I want things like this on our land, when we buy a home. It’s a perfect place to leave offerings for a safe trip up the Mountain. I usually leave an apple. This time I sprinkled some smoking tobacco on it as well.

And then there was this beauty. A lush fresh ice water fall, guarded by a sage handsome Oak tree. We had never stopped here before, but it all took my breath away. The roots of the oak where crawling out to caress the water. The ground around it was slate, and wonderful bits of slate where everywhere. I really didn’t want to leave. Despite the face that I knew it was freezing I just wanted to bathe in it lol.

This is just a touch of the wild and wondrous nature up there. Really the only thing missing is the sea…

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…”
― John Muir


The Value of Money

Had an interesting experience that lead to an interesting thought the other day. I work in a metaphysical shop, whose patron deities are some of the Orisha. Not a pantheon that I work with personally, but certainly one whose energies I’ve come to recognize. The Orisha are very popular in my community so it was kind of hard not to.  I admit that at first I was a little afraid it would be weird lighting their candles and tending their altars at the store regularly. But quickly came to find that polite reverence is a welcomed thing.

One day when I was working a got a particularly odd phone call. The short of it was that someone was wanting me or someone at the store to help them put a curse on someone. It was a person that didn’t seem to understand no and got off the phone saying they would come explain it to me in person. Okay…

Now I was not and am not opposed to telling people that we aren’t that kind of store and send them on their way.  But I was on my own that day and being the general prepardeness kinda gal I realized that it would probably just be all around better if said person didn’t find the time to make it to the store. So I light up some delicious sage, do the rounds, and decide to grid some black & brown tourmaline on doorway. It was in putting those pieces down that I took note of Papa Legba’s altar, sitting there happy as you please.

Due to his immense popularity in my social circles, I’m sure in part to him being the gatekeeper of his people, I’m not completely ignorant of his likes and dislikes. And while some people attract Trickster gods, or storm deities, throughout my life it’s been the Chieftains/King/Father Gods that take a shine to me (and I am not complaining one wit). So the thought of asking Papa for help shielding his store was not uncomfortable to me.  But what to give as an offering?

This is where I have one of those moments of realization that investment in a pack of cigarettes or smoking tobacco to just keep in my purse as emergency offering material  is a brilliant idea. But alas no tobacco, and being at work no alcohol either. Standing there staring at the jovial candle burning I’m hit with the smell of spices. I could easily go to the herbs and find something appropriately spicey and it may very well work as it would be an offering from the store on behalf of the store, yet I’d still like to offer something of my own and I don’t even have a stick of cinnamon gum on me. Meditating on his altar I see the glint of copper and remember. I’d witness many of his followers make offerings of change, and I knew that his number was three. Problem solved I went and dug out three of my shiniest pennies, asked him to watch the store front and asked to set that person on a path elsewhere. Feeling better I went on with my day, and said person never showed up on my shift. I’m fairly certain they didn’t show up at all.

But the whole thing got me thinking about money and offerings.

What a person offers to a Deity, spirit or otherwise is usually dependent on historical precedent, personal experience, and to some extent common sense. It’s fairly easy to know what to give to the Deities that we are familiar with, live with, or worship. Less so to those outside of our sphere. There is historical precedents for leaving money as offerings for most ancient cultures. There is certainly precedents for money as offering for the Orisha, most of the altars that I have seen for them have various amounts of money on them. Everything from high dollar bills to the humble penny.

But I have to admit it was the first time that I had ever given money as an offering. My gods had never asked or shown an interest in money for an offering. In fact the idea kinda tasted sour in my mouth.

 But why? It’s not that there isn’t historical precedence for it. The Celts are generally agreed to have worn their wealth. With Ireland specifically having traded and dealt with specific weights of gold and silver rings or bracelets. The finding of such rings and bracelets in bogs and under standing stones throughout Ireland sets the stage for money being an appropriate offering.

But perhaps the hitch is in the details.  In Ireland gold was relatively abundant, and in Britain and other sectors of the Celtic world money-rings were made of gold, silver, iron, and copper. All metals with power and energies. Metals that we, as human beings have been attracted to since discovering them.

Comparatively money of today, in America seems paltry. Coins are a combination of (VERY SMALL amounts) Copper, Zinc, and Nickel. Coinflation is a website that gives you the melt down value of your coins. It’s kinda eye opening. Then there is paper money, which in of itself is just paper that we as a society have assigned value to. We could make the argument that all money, even gold and other precious metals are assigned their value based on society. But that argument is going to get us no where fast. For me at least the precious metals hold a certain energy that our modern base metals don’t. Just as plastic doesn’t ring energetically for me.

It may be in part that my Gods worship did not follow into modern day as others have. So modern money’s value isn’t apparent, I’d imagine if I were use to gold cache’s as an offering suddenly being presented with a $20 would be confusing. In the same way that I try very hard not to make offerings of processed foods because it just seems to have less spiritual value to them.

I guess it comes down to preference. Whether or not the symbolic value of modern money is important to you and your deities, or if it’s more about the spiritual value of the materials. Overall it was a very interesting thing to think about lol, and I’d love to hear other people’s take on whether or not they find modern money to be a good offering for their deities.

Penny for your thoughts? lol

Decanting Primal Summer’s Release

When we last left the Libation of Primal Summer, it was seeping with dark seduction under the watchful eye of my Underworld Altar. While the Temple Witch has already described in delicious details the entire event that this cordial lead to. But this is my blog so it’s only fair that I get to have my say 😉

Once again Temple Witch came over to Fort Epic (yep that’s the name of my house, I like to enjoy myself and naming things amuses me.) and we cackled devious, thrummed our fingers with excitement, and smacked our lips.   The first step was to get the fruit out of the bottle and separate it from the liquor. For this I used the SUPER advance technology of a colander, a pot, and a wooden stick lol. The fruit had all turned this deep rich wine red and smelled FANTASTIC!
primal summer (2)

It did not however taste fantastic, lol. Not at all. Our delightful plans to sit around eating drunken fruit got laughed away. That fruit was SOOOO freaking strong. All the sugar and all the sweet goodness was in the liquid. Which since our overall goal was to have a mind bending soul singing brew, we were ok with that.

It became apparent that we needed a second sieve in order to get out the seed and pulp. In the future I will invest in some cheese cloth. But we are nothing if not inventive. I had a very loose thin weave silk scarf, it was my grandmothers, and it was white. But I thought even if the liquid stained it permanently it would be dyed in the juices of Primal Summer and that was excited. Interestingly the scarf wasn’t stained at all after being rinsed in cold water.
primal summer (5)

The silk scarf was a perfect strainer, got out a lot of pulp. Leaving nothing but a wonderful sinfully red cordial.  At this point Temple Witch and I had decided we needed to make brews for every major occasion lol. Add but a few ladles of liquid honey to adjust the sweetness and viola! To the bottles!
primal summer (1)

Contained in that little stopper bottle, is all the mystery and wonder of summer. It is the blood that rushes through the veins when the hunt is on. The baying of the hounds, the fox through the glen. The stag on the hill. It is the thundering of the herd, and the gentle chatter of the birds. It’s the frenzy in the sun. The sweat. The blood. It’s the moon on the hills through full oak trees. It’s the splash of the river, and the fullness of the lake. The crash of the ocean under the tuneless song of the gulls. The look that speaks volumes. Skin on skin. The sensation of touch. Skin on grass, on sand, on dirt. Breath deep, dig deeper. Run faster, love more, live bigger.

To hold that in your hand, to release that in your soul. That is medicine for the heart.

primal summer (16)And it was. Oh it was. 🙂






Preparation for Releasing Primal Summer

Actual original content! Shocking!

I don’t know if I mentioned it here, or elsewhere, or only in my head. But I’ve been feeling very….caged in since last Samhain. In general I live with a certain amount of feeling disconnected to this world, and this life, which sometimes leads to a restlessness that really has nowhere to go. These bouts of pent-up energy can usually be alleviate by a roadtrip, heavy physical exertion where pain is felt, or massive daydreaming.

But this time, this time has been different. FAR more intense, days where I am climbing the walls are more frequent, slipping far too often into that not present trance state. Dreams, omg so many freaking crazy dreams. Energetic overflow! Senses going hey-wire (light is too bright, smells everywhere). All the while just a tense coiled anticipation. Really something has to give or madness will ensue. And due to life circumstances I haven’t really gotten the chance or ability to just get away for a while. No camping trips, no hiking up a mountain, no roadtrip. I’m sure that hasn’t helped things.

So what to do? Well opportunities present themselves if we let them. My coven is going on a retreat on a large sprawl of land, it’s a time for us to bond as a coven and unwind. It’s also the prefect time for some intense trance work. Trance work is the term that is most used in the community that I’m a part of now, I never had a real “label” for it before. It was work that was done in the Otherworld, be it for information (usually), for connecting and offering to spirits (often), or what I have in mind now. Which is opening the spiritual doors of the mind and soul and letting go for an aloted amount of time.

People generally get freaked out when I say that. Everyone seems to have real issues with “letting go” or the idea of crossing over with the intention of only coming half way back. Since this is my blog and I can pontificate without interruption let me go into why I find this incredibly helpful.

Society places a lot of restrictions and boundaries on the human soul. All of these restrictions and such aren’t bad (some of them are but that’s another matter) and it allows us all to coexist with at least some understanding of each other. Some souls find these boundaries easily acceptable and never really feel the pressure of them upon their existence. But some, some have a rather hard time. Now a person can find a way to cope with that within what is acceptable by society (a job that allows them an outlet, artwork, other forms of rebellious expression for whatever they feel is caged in) or they can become unbalanced people that break with society.  Obviously this is just my weird little world view of things and like anything doesn’t apply in absolutes. As I mentioned above there are several ways that I handle myself when I feel caged in by the parameters that this world requires me. But there is another world. One without the same restrictions and boundaries, one that in fact encourages my soul to express itself in whatever manner it sees fit. I’m not saying that it’s not dangerous to go on over to the Otherworld and fling wide the doors of you mind and let out the beast inside. It is. I’m sure there are plenty of traditions that prohibit such things. But I’m not on that path, in fact I’m bonded in service and life to a Goddess who’s message and task to me is to welcome that primal energy and help those that need to be reunited with it, do so.

So the planning and plotting began. I called over my cohort in crime, Temple Witch, who is always eager to egg on my barbarian plots with satisfaction, and we concocted the libation of Primal Summer. It will act as the offering and allow for easier transition from one world to the next. For me, alcohol is the method of choice for really making those connections strong and easily crossed. I don’t drink often, so it never takes much, and I don’t like to over indulge so it’s a safe method for me.

We chose Brandy as our carry liquid and then gathered the ingredients of late summer (or what spoke as last of summer to us). Blueberries, blackberries, plums, mint, and some pomegranate seeds. To that we added honey, and mugwort. Before beginning we laid out an offering of all the ingredients we were using to our guardian spirits and gods.

Then the fun began. First of all there is an energy of decadence that comes with any magic that I embark on with Temple Witch. My normal standard is fairly organic and nitty gritty, so I would have been making this libation using my fingers and getting it all over me in any event. But she adds a certain…air to the whole affair. I don’t even really know how to describe it. It’s easy to forget that we’re in jeans and t-shirts, and not silks. That we in fact haven’t just come from the roman bath, and weren’t dressed with oils and our hair arranged by our handmaidens. Seriously hang out with Temple Witch and these are the visions that you get.

Needless to say there was a LOT of good times had. Lush red juice everywhere, intoxicating smells, it was just really the best way to set up for the kind of thing that we are trying to make happen.

I have no idea what the original intention of the bowl of above was made for, but to me it is the perfect tool for brews of this nature. We took our time, lit incense, really laid some love into. Put  a lot of mugwort in it lol and in the end it was the most seductive shade of red.

Look at that. It just screams running bare foot and wild in the woods. Brambles and leaves stuck in your hair, free jumping off a rock into a crystal pool. Eating freshly killed roasted meat over a bonfire, sleeping under the stars. Everything a girl could ask for. All of the tucked safely under my underworld altar, waiting…just waiting to be released.

Needless to say, I’m DYING for this retreat to happen.

There is still much witchery to do to prepare tho. This bad boy has to get decanted and probably add some more honey to it. Other odds and ends have to get made to ensure safe passage to and from. But overall I just can’t wait. Hopefully I come back a calmer more whole person lol.