Bears

So something happened to me a long while back that I wish to share with the world. When I hedge ride/journey or whatever noun you want to use, I usually write down what I’ve seen or learned and that’s the end of it. It’s a very personal thing. I never feel the need to share my experiences with spirits or gods that I may encounter. I do not seek the validation of others, or wish to be hip into some kind of UPG sharing of every little thing that seems to be rampant on the interwebs.
As a general rule I honor the Norse/Germanic gods, Odin, Holle, Ullr, and Thor primarily, though if one would ask, I hail all of them. The most intense experience I’ve had with a representation of the divine however occurred with what would be considered a Celtic goddess. At the time I did not even know her name. This will be the first and last time I recount such an experience, if only to see if anyone out there has experienced this goddess in a similar manner. This happened in July of 2015, I lost my father in May of 2014 and my mother in February of 2015. At the time I thought I handled it all very well, though despite our troubles, I felt close to them both. I had long made peace with my father’s passing. Despite the physical miles between us, I knew the moment his spirit left his physical body. His illness was long and tortuous, and his death did not come as a surprise. I never felt like I had that kind of closure with my mother. She succumbed to sepsis, and my last conversation with her was long distance, as I screamed into the phone, trying to elicit a coherent response from her on the line. She was so far gone she could barely articulate words, I remember a feeble hello and then a series of unintelligible guttural sounds, while with my landline phone I called my sister frantic, imploring her to call 911. She was too far gone, she hung on a little under a week, and I was there for a bitter conversation with the doctor who informed us that even if she woke up she would never be the mother we knew before. I saw her one last time, my great mother, who had shaped the woman I would become in so many ways, a shriveled thing, not yet out of her sixties. I talked to her, but I could no longer feel her spirit. What made her an individual, my dear mother, had long left. Left without a goodbye, and what lie before me that day was a mere husk of what she had once been. I did not get to properly say goodbye.

So fast forward to July of 2015. I decide to ride the hedge. It was an urge that came upon me suddenly and unexplained.  So I laid down upon my bed with my staff and some chosen runes and I entered a world unfamiliar to me.  It was a place of mild summer warmth and starlight.  A great female bear approached and spoke to me. She took me to the edge of the hill looking down and as I did I saw many women. Ancient ancestors, engaging in village life.  She told me to go down and walk among them. I descended alone and as I mingled among the group they did not acknowledge me outright, but I felt a surge of recognition as I realized that I was the product of all these extraordinary women that came before me. Without them I would not exist. 
I walked past them, and came to a lake. I looked down and saw crabs rising out of the murky depths, and the spirits of the water briefly appeared to me below. Stepping stones emerged out of the water and compelled me to walk across until I came to a beautiful waterfall.  I paused and watched the water flow and suddenly I felt the presence of my father near me.  A butterfly flew past me, bright in the moonlight, and in it I felt my mother.  I wept.  Without any words conveyed I felt their love and guidance from beyond. I felt the assurance in the waterfall that life continues, in the butterfly that they had changed and moved on. I stayed there until their essence faded and made my way across the lake again. The women were gone and when I made my way back up the hill I found the bear again. I laid beside Her in the cool grass, wept a moment, then rested. I was spent. Then she told me that I should be free with my words. To live my life fully. 

After much thought and many signs, I came to the conclusion that the bear was Artio, a goddess I had never heard of before.  I do not know where she will take me, but I’ve felt her power and it is great. Awe-inspiring. 

 
 

Dreams

About two weeks ago I had a dream that I just can’t get out of my head. I dreamt that I was at my parent’s home. (Both are deceased)  They seemed to be in their 50’s, and I was my actual age now, which is 40. Every time I dream of them, they are the same as in life, but yet slightly different.  I can’t explain it or put it into words. Just different.

In the dream my father beckoned me to come outside.  It was dusk and the sky was rapidly growing dark.  He pointed to the sky and said look.  Above us I saw several silver spirals swirling. 

What’s that?

See it he said. Those are portals opening.

Then my mother directed me to look at another portion of the sky. There I saw a massive tower, much like that in the Tarot, and it was crumbling. 

See the tower my mother said.

Then I woke up. It was around 2 am.  I automatically reach for my phone to see if something in the news pointed to our world falling apart. Nothing more than usual. But I wonder.  I wonder, I fear, and I seethe with anger. 

My religion

If somebody asked, I would loosely say Norse Pagan, or maybe even Asatru. It would depend on my mood.  If anyone asked,  are you a witch, I’d say yes to that too. 

Lately I’ve felt that being a witch, or one who practices the craft can look a lot of different ways.  

Many years ago, I was in Lebanon visiting in laws.   I was still young, but had been married for six years and still childless.  My ex husband’s family assumed I had fertility problems.  Of course that wasn’t so, I had put off having children because of the volatile nature of our relationship.  

A great aunt in the family, a brave pillar of strength, took me aside before I left to come home, and grasping my face in her gnarled hands she smiled and spoke words to me in Arabic I only half understood.  I nodded along. Then she opened her Quran and began to read a myriad of verses to me.   I knew most of them, being standard fare one would use for daily prayer. She produced from her pocket a piece of narrow white cloth. After each verse she would pause and smile, and tie a knot in the length of cloth and gently blow onto it.  She repeated this until a myriad of small knots adorned the tattered length.  Then she finished by grasping my face into her hands, giving me instructions about the now made cord, and asking me again and again, do you understand? I nodded that I understood and maybe on some level I did, because I felt such a sweet energy pass between us, a feeling of pure goodness, of an old woman who was humbly offering her services to aid me.  I carried the cord length with me for many months after that.  I did become pregnant later that year as well.  Partly because I stopped my birth control pills, but I also like to think that the old hajji had taken some of the fear of motherhood out of me that special day. 

Looking back now, I see her actions for what they were, Muslim white magic.  Funny enough, that specific form of magic is expressly forbidden in the Quran, indeed in one of the very verses that she read over me. 4: وَمِن شَرِّ ٱلنَّفَّٰثَٰتِ فِى ٱلْعُقَدِ /Wa min sharrin-naffaa-saati fil ‘uqad/From the mischief of those who practise secret arts.   I might be wrong, but I’ve seen different translations that read from those who blow on knots…..

At the end of the day men and women who practice magic, from the simple to the ceremonially complex are essentially the same.  We have been around since the dawn of time, we donned the animal skins in the caves at the beginning, we married people, we raised children, we sent them off to the land of shadows, and we helped those who felt that they had no help left.  

We adapted our message to different times and spaces, whether pagan, Christian, Muslim or otherwise.  Practices that had been with us since the beginning were made over with bible or Quran verses, prayers to saints instead of to the old gods. . But we persisted and remained.  

That is my religion.