nature

Sacred Places: The Stream

Sacred Waters Jan 2016 (14)

I recently visited another of my sacred sites in the area. It is the new year and thus a new batch of sacred water is needed. This sacred water is gathered from a sacred stream and I use it in various ways through out the year. Sometimes, I make a couple trips throughout the year if more is needed, but generally one batch can last a whole year.

We first stumbled across the stream and trail when we were relatively new to the Bay Area and desperately needed to find escape from the house and troubles we were living with. This trail and the stream provide a respite, and an escape to tranquility. It very much has the feel of a fairytale trail and there are many bridges and picturesque scenes that tempt and sooth the mind and soul. I have found a lot of comfort  here and over the years have seen it change just as I have changed.

Sacred Waters Jan 2016 (22)

The trail is easy to miss off the side of the rode. Tucked away in a ravine close to where the stream meets the sea. This time of year there are usually less people out and about, and this day was a wash with rain and sun. The trail itself was lush green in some parts, and scorched brown in others. A testimony to the drought and dry conditions we have been experiencing. While there were ripe young little ferns soaking up the recent moisture and wet, there were also large withered mature ferns for whom the rain came too late.

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The Guardian of the Stream and Trail

The Stream has many Guardians that come in a variety of guises. This particular entrance to the trail and stream however is watched over by this magnificent Boulder and his tree companions.  There is no mistaking his presence, and it is important to pay respects and offerings before going further, especially if you intend to be gathering anything. The Old boy looked tired but content on this trip. His craggled face covered in new life, while the old ferns lay limp at his base. We stopped for a bit and chatted, paid our offerings and looked for ill omens. The moss was thick and happy on the trunks of his tree companions and we were all just happy to be there.

Once you pass the Guardian it is a short walk to cross the bridge to the Otherside of the stream. It had never really dawned on me before the significance of this, but this time as we crossed over the dark wet bridge I could markedly feel the shift. We receive the blessed water from the Otherside. I don’t particularly have any lore to back up this intuitive knowing, but it certainly seems correct and there is plenty of stories of the power of crossing moving bodies of water.

The sacred area that I have spent much time just resting with and feeling the purification of the place is a little corner of the stream. The stream itself seems to be unconnected to it’s “Official Gov’ment” name and has thus far been blissfully silent on any other name it might prefer. I am sure it has a name, but it is one that I am not meant to know it seems, and that is alright with me. It seems content to be The Sacred Stream in my own thoughts, and maybe someday I will discover a word beautiful and joyful enough that it would be pleased to have as a nick name. Until then it is the Sacred Stream and one of it’s places of power is where the Living Bridge crosses it’s small rapids. The Living Bridge is a massive Redwood twin that at one point far far in the past fell over the stream and continued to grow.

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The two Redwoods are spectacular to behold and are perfectly happy in there location. The stream itself is a paradise, enticing you with it’s crystalline water and lovely pools. I fantasize about bathing in it’s waters every. single. time. However the waters are generally too cold to such naive desires. But it is soothing to rinse your feet, scoop up some icy water and bath your face feeling rejuvenated instantly.

We dallied and made offerings, cleansed some of our favorite stones in the cold water and in general enjoyed ourselves. At length we gathered up our water and made our way back to the realms of men and the sea. There were more adventures ahead of us and Manannán was working some breathtaking scenery out in the ocean. It was one of those days that you are just happy to be living and enjoying. As Imbolg approaches and Bridgit’s Holy Day with it, I’m sure this sacred water will be put to good use and doubly blessed. I remain ever grateful to have the chance to touch and see such amazing clear water flowing. May it continue to be so and flow evermore.  

 

Beltane and the Great Queen

As part of the ongoing creation and sanctification of the Cauldron of the Celts Sacred Calendar, we have the honor of adding two more days to the calendar. Both in honor of an Morrighan. I was having a rather hard time figuring out where exactly the holy day of the Great Queen would go on the modern calendar year, and it wasn’t until we welcomed more to our merry band of Celtic devotees that the answer revealed itself, apparently you need at least an attempted murder to get things brewing. With the help of my dear sister Verity Blue Midnight, we realized that one day was just not enough and that the date was less consequential than the timing. So for this year and hopefully many more future years to come we will be honoring the Morrighan on the full moon of May and the dark moon of October.

To be clear, I do not know of any direct connotation in the lore or otherwise between the Morrighan and the moon (although if anyone does know of some I would be interested in looking into it). However, given her association with the liminal states, it felt more correct for her days to be on a lunar calendar whilst the rest settle into the solar modern one. While her connection to Beltane and Samhain seem fairly clear, and are clearly felt. This years May full moon fell just days after May 1st/Beltane. Which seemed a blessing on things to come.

We crashed into May with a thunderous bang. I have always found this time of year to be one of high emotions and high energy, this year is proving no different. While my sister priestess planned a loving devotion to the Great Queen for dusk on the full moon, petitions tended to while walking a labyrinth at dusk and offerings given in honor and praise, I ran off to the woods. Truly it was a weekend where her presence and the spirits of this time of year were all around.

The Beltane Sun 2015

It started before dawn on Beltane, way up on inspiration point with the Morris Dancers jovially playing and dancing up the sun. It was incredibly warm this year, a contrast in years past when you would have to bundle up to greet the golden rays, a marker to the change our earth is going through. Every year I am amazed at the flutter and anticipation that this sunrise brings. What if I’m late? What if this time it rises early? Silly, perhaps. But it is part of the magic and the buzz of Beltane.

Beltane 2015

This year the heat and dryness of our land prevented any morning dew to be found. I suppose I can go one year without the blessings of Beltane beauty upon me. After basking in the golden hour light for a while longer it was time to go in search of food and then to work. A stark change from years before where I could stumble back to bed before rising and prepping for the day. The Rooster, a local cafe, was kind enough to provide us with a lovely meal, and then we decided to spread the May Day cheer by buying flowers and passing them around the office. There was quite a bit of bemused confusion as to why they were being given or offered flowers, and an equal amount of delight at discovering flowers on ones desk for apparently no reason. All and all I consider it a Beltane well managed.

The Canyon

That night we cleaned up the house, left out some offerings, and prepped for an escape to the woods. We left bright and early the next day, heading straight for the Canyon. A trip we have made countless times over the years that holds so many memories. It was brilliant and beautiful all day. Clear skies, jubilant sun, and fresh crisp air. Everything a person could need to clear their head and help ease their burdens. We decided for this trip to explore all the little side roads off the canyon in search for a great camping spot. We found many treasures, but one that still has a hold on my heart and desires.

There are several places through the Canyon where you cross the Feather River, and at one such place there is a road, and up that road is an oasis. You can’t see it from the road. We had just stopped because I have an ever growing obsession with rocky rivers and a need to be by them. At first I wasn’t sure whether or not there was going to be a way down to the water, but there was. I was not prepared for the beauty that I saw.

Ladybug Lagoon

It was like stumbling upon the lagoon from Neverland. Completely picturesque. I desperately wanted to dive into that crystalline water, but the reality is that water is far too cold for swimming just yet. Treacherous and beautiful, the way I like it. We stayed by the river for a long while, climbing rocks and enjoying the serenity of it all. The Lumberjack recounted the story of coming to this spot once and all the rocks were covered in ladybugs! There were a few ladybugs here and there and many a butterfly on this trip. It seemed only natural to name the place Labybug Lagoon. I will gladly and happily be returning here this year.

Wash away my fearsClear waters

 

 

 

 

 

 

Come to the river, child of the heart
Lay by the stream, all cares depart
Great Lady wash from my soul
My weakness and the doubts that I hold
Splendid One wash me in the waters from beyond
I arise glorious with only my courage and tresses donned

After stopping and scouting many more places, including my beloved Bullard’s Bar we settled down to camp for the night. We did not plan enough ahead to have gotten a campfire permit, so we went without. Eating a humble but filling meal of sandwiches and fruit, we enjoyed the calming solace of being outside and away from the hustle and bustle. We found a broken knife and fashioned a game out of throwing the blade and trying to get it to stick in some rounds. We planned to buy a small archery set to bring out next time, for fun and practice. We gathered some wild cedar tips and made them into bundles, the Lumberjack even picked some dogwood flowers for me. I think that dogwood is probably the regional equivalent of the Hawthorn in this part of the woods. It was in bloom everywhere, crowning the forest in beauty and joy.

The moon was full and splendidly bright, the air was cold and fortifying. That night prayers where made to the Gods and the Ungods with heartfelt devotion to see us all through the challenges and trials we walk. Offerings were made to continue to bring prosperity and joy to my beloveds. The land and all it’s many treasures were thanked profusely for being steadfast and welcoming. With a much lighter heart I slept that night.

The return home was slow, as we were want to leave. We revisited our plans and what the next five year holds. Each of us know we can’t stay forever in the city, it wears too much on out emotions and spirit. May this year bring the beginnings of dreams realized for my family and all those seeking and working towards their goals.

Blessed Beltane everyone! I pray that the month of May keeps you well and shows you the way to your dreams.

Into the Wilds

Oh internet. When I am right. I am totally right. You remember in my last post where I went on about how I was stuck in a bubble and needed to get out into nature more, that was after all were my spirituality is.

Yeah, totally 100% right on the money.  We went camping, and I am feeling so amazing. It was just so fucking good. It felt so refreshing even tho it really could have gone better lmao. That’s the thing it’s just that good.

The Lumberjack has taken some time off before Labor Day and we decided to go camping for one of the days. We had heard about a remote camping site near-ish by from a friend and decided to take a chance on it (since our regular camping locations are a 4 hr drive away). We settled on one night, since we weren’t sure if we would like the location. They were all hike-in camp spots on a state park. Generally we are not state-park people. The Lumberjack grew up in National Forest locations so the restrictions and “Disney-land” attitude of state parks do not mingle well with his rugged outdoors attitude and hermit nature. But we had heard good things, and figured that everyone would be going camping on Labor Day not before. So we pulled out the old camping gear and hit the road.

Some handy tips for future reference. When a state park says “slightly uphill” they mean UPHILL. No slightly about it.

If there is a long way and a short way, go the long way it is flatter and more enjoyable.

Invest in good hiking shoes.

Overall we were silly and took the “short” “slightly uphill” trail to the camp site going in. Needless to say it was not that much shorter and the uphill was really really hard. Especially since I have only just started working out again and was carrying something like 40lbs. Granted that was nothing compared to the Lumberjack who was carrying the majority of our stuff which was easily 90lbs. We were very out of breath and very hot. BUT I didn’t get woozy at all, which means that my increased hydration has worked, woot!

I think it took us an hour to hike in and set up and then we went straight to the beach. The campsite was only 200 meters from the beach and you could hear the waves pounding. It was glorious. Glorious and empty and amazing and cool and everything we needed.

Point Reyes Aug 2013

 

There wasn’t anyone on the beach for as far as the eye could see! In either direction!

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I’d never experienced anything like it. Despite having just walked 2 miles one of which up hill with crazy weight we then spent the next several hours walking the beach.  Happily, delightedly, without any hint of being too tired.  In fact it was just relaxing and joyful.

In fact that was the big thing about this whole trip. Even tho this was the most exercise I have done in a very very long time, even tho I was lifting more weight than I thought I could, and walking for longer, and just being sweaty and just working. None of it made me feel even an ounce as tired as the stupid video I’d been doing. None of it made me complain and whine. And even tho I know that over the last 48 hours we might have barely gotten our 2,000 calories in a day and the food was no where near as delicious as I usually eat. Neither of us felt like we were starving. We weren’t unsatisfied and scavenging for something else to eat. We were happily eating out sausage and bread. We were happy just to be out and about and in the quiet. Happy to sleep on the hard ground and hear the ocean waves.

I was elated that I managed the physical feats I accomplished without getting light headed, without getting dehydrated, without any issues at all! I was strong enough. I worked hard enough and my reward was witnessing and reveling in this glorious beach.

Immediately I wanted to hold ritual out there lol. You can get a day fire permit for the beach and it’s just all too tempting. A bonfire ritual with the cliffs and the waves and not surrounded by people? Glorious. Of course I still need to figure out who exactly would be willing to trek in with me. But the Lumberjack and I have figured that the best way to go is the long way which is flat and is bike accessible. We’re going to get some bikes so that next time we can bike the gear in. Lot easier and much more practical to get a load of firewood out there by bike. Still not sure who I’d want and would want to go out there, But we’ll see. I know that the Lumberjack and I are going back that is for sure.

Of course it also brought to light some of the mundane things that need getting put to right before such trips can be a regular thing. Mainly the Truck and getting it fixed for good. So we will be focusing on that in the up coming months.

Unfortunately the Lumberjack tripped getting out of the tent that night and sprained his ankle. Which was not great at all. But we had an ace bandage in the kit (always be prepared) and being the tough hard headed person he is we still found our way down to the beach in the dark of night. It was foggy and dense, the waves magnified and much louder now that the sun was long since gone. Standing there on the beach only a few other pin pricks of light appearing and disappearing along the coast line, it felt heavy and ominous. There was no horizon. Just the waves and the nothing.  It was the edge of the world. It had that very real “The End is nigh” feeling to it. I imagine that beach has seen many ends and many beginnings and will see many more yet to come. Because that is the essence of the sea on this planet.

We slept blissfully despite the rocks, and even tho I had a brief odd nightmare in which the Lumberjack had to wake me, it was weirdly peaceful. I don’t remember much about the dream except conversing with a large shadow beast with multiple yellow red eyes peering down through the window of our tent. When I awoke I wasn’t frightened like I usually am. The air wasn’t heavy with energy despite my heart still pumping. It felt very much like it was there and I was there and the Lumberjack pulled me out of there and now we’re here and it can’t be here. I accept that sentence doesn’t make a whole lot of sense but there you have it.

The next morning we woke to the fog rolling over the hill. We lit up the BBQ and made a humble breakfast of oatmeal, coffee, and the remainders of bread and cheese. Merrily chomping and planning our next adventure. A couple of nights, what food to bring, getting the fire permit. Then coffee in hand we walked down to the beach for one last goodbye. Peaceful and enveloped in mist.

I have to take the time to brag about how amazing the Lumberjack is. The man is a machine. He twisted his ankle. It was visible swollen. Yet without a complaint, without an issue he took some painkillers, we packed up the site and then he hiked out the 3 mile trek with the same 90 lbs on his back. Insane. Somehow he is healing perfectly fine. The swelling stopped and is now going down. Doesn’t seem to be in much pain, other than soreness.

I have to say internet. I am happy. I am happy for my love. I am happy that we both enjoy the outdoors. I am happy to be able to go on adventures. I love the feeling of things starting to come together. The feeling of balance.

So over all internet things are starting to look up at least spiritually.

A while ago my main altar got a revamp under some interesting circumstances, which you can check out over on my Tumblr if you so desire.

And the horizon?

Well there is a Dark Moon approaching which means another trip to the sea with the lovely Temple. Then there is the quickly approaching coven Harvest Home retreat. So a lot on the horizon. Stay tuned my lovelies.

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

Pilgrimage for Holy Water

photos taken by Rowan Wilde

Holy Water is one of those things that every witch should just have on hand. While I’m sure that I could actually get my hands on some Christian “Holy Water” blessed by a priest and all that (and probably will when the Lumberjack and I start making our super cool Victorian Vampire Hunting Kit), that isn’t the type of Holy Water I am referring to. The Witch of Forest Grove has an excellent post outlining some of the different multi-cultural historical presence of Holy Water and also how to make it, what waters do what, some ways to use it. Very well written, well-studied article, go check it out!

For me personally, I use it for cleansing of the home (especially after a bought of illness), for cleansing of new magical items, cleansing myself before deep trance work, and having on hand to make connection to the otherworld. Some of my traveling friends have been so kind as to bring me back Holy Waters from around the world, that get used on special occasions. I have a lovely collection from Ireland that I cherish and use when needed. Bridgit’s Well water saved my poor little rosemary bush that was dying. Well her water and her guardianship I’m sure.

In any event I have some pretty big magical workings on the horizon and horror of horrors I was out of my favorite Holy Water. Time to go on a pilgrimage!

I highly suggest that if at all possible that people take the time to court their local spirits. And in so doing find and make a connection to their own holy rivers, wells, and springs. In my experience it grounds your magical workings, and gives them more of a focal point, while allowing you to continue to aid in strengthening your own connection to the world around you. So my favorite Holy Water comes from the water of my own Blessed Creek (I lived in the south where rivers were the size of multiple football fields I have a hard time calling the things around here rivers). I’m sure it has a name, as a state trail runs right along it, but it’s always remained mysteriously hidden from me, so perhaps the creek isn’t too fond of it lol. I simply know it as the Creek, or the Green creek.

The Lumberjack and I found this little hidden trail in the rainy months of winter when things were very bad at home and escape and our little Izuzu truck was all we had. We’d pack up a bag of sandwiches and go exploring the coast along Highway 1, just to be out of the house and away.  We were very pleased to find this little tucked away trail. The beginning of which is right off the freeway but in such a place that it gets few visitors. The end of which we have yet to discover. We hiked the trail for hours reaching the point of the moss covered stone steps and going as far up them as my little legs would take me.  Interestingly enough we’d discover more people going in the opposite direction as us the farther along we got. It is still my hypothesis that those mysterious stairs lead to the state park woods somehow.

photo taken by Nancy Kerr

That was years ago, and since then I’ve often returned. Leaving gifts, drinking in the beauty of it all, finding the serenity. At some point it just became my holy creek, the waters are so clean and clear, nothing else will do. Would that it weren’t an actual state park trail otherwise I’d happily bath in it lol. It’s one of those places I show to few. But those few need to see it. This trip I gathered up my trusty companions Rowan Wilde, and Nancy Kerr to walk the green way and gather up the blessed water (and to take photos because I always forget to). It’s a beautiful drive, and the trail was deliciously moist when we got there. We stopped to pay homage to the Gaurdian (a rather impressive moss and fern covered boulder that sits at the entrance to the trail. He’s a kind sort that likes to be admired). We walked the trail spying plants (Rowan has a much keener more knowledgeable eye for these things than I), both of them stopping to take pictures and me just being content. We went all the way to the stone steps and up to the first platform before turning back around. It was on the return trip that was stopped for the mission of our adventure. Water.

At the point where the fallen living redwood King makes a bridge over the nymph pool is where the water is collected. It is an amazing little oasis on an already stunning green trail. So between the two large boulders, in the little nook on the Otherside of the creek, I laid out my offering. An apple, a token of my love. Rosemary, a pledge of love and protection, cornmeal for sustenance, drizzled in Aes Sidhe elixir made last Midsummer.

Once honors were paid, prayers were said. It was time to catch my water.

photo taken by Rowan Wilde

 

photo taken by Nancy Kerr

One bright beautiful clear bottle of blessed Green Creek water. To be taken home and divided up. One part had my silver ring added to it and sat on my windowsill soaking up the power of the full moon. The other part got my silver emerald heart ring, my hunk of garnet, and a jade ring, also soaked up that delicious full moon energy. Big plans, my friends. Big plans.

Until next time!