Why I Am a Witch: Reflections at the Time of the Winter Solstice

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The beads [of the rosary] were red and white which symbolized [the Goddess’s] Mother and Virgin forms. The beads touching [these] were blue or black.

…Repeated prayers are not just so the Gods will hear, but for the rhythmic movement of copulation and music. It is the powerful surge of communion and creativity.

The rosary consists of five decades with one holding bead in between each decade. There is a total of fifty alternating red and white beads with five blue or black holding beads. These beads are placed one between each decade.

The cross at the end should be a ringed cross. The ringed cross is the signature of the Goddess. In Mayan religion it is Waka Chan or World True Unfolding Sun. The ringed cross represents the four great Powers of the universe supporting the sun. It tells us that the Goddess supports the stars of heaven which came forth from Her Womb about 18 billion years ago. The ringed cross belongs to all the great Cosmic Gods. …

… When horns are placed on the circle of the ringed cross it shows that the Goddess and God not only have sex, but they are sex, both male and female. This last mentioned ringed cross is the sign of Mercury.

—Cora Anderson, “The Rose Wreath” (circa 2002?)

(Art: “Star Goddess,” by Banshee Arts)

On this morning of the Winter Solstice, 2017, Cora’s musings on the “Pagan Rose Wreath” or rosary provided both illumination and the warmth of inspiration fire for my beleaguered heart. Both were greatly needed at this time of darkness. Cora’s teaching brought comfort in the old sense of that word–a strengthening, a renewal of fortitude and determination to go on. And among other things, her evocation of the “rhythmic movement of copulation and creativity” ignited a spark. And so, finally I find an auspicious moment to return to this fasciularium after a dormant period of nearly two years.

It’s interesting in the specific context of 2017 that Cora mentions Mercury. He (whom I love to address as the “Dancing Darling”) commands the powers of communication and technology. And this year, He’s going Direct the day after the Solstice. Not a moment too soon!

I especially loved the “Prayer to Mari” Cora composed for the rose-wreath, building on an old poem of Victor’s; the imagery is potent, energizing, and charged with expansive cosmic vibrations:

Hail Mari, Most Holy Mother Goddess of all living things,
And Governess of the Elements,
By Whose Triple Will the planets move,
And the clouds between the stars are gathered up,
Turning in stately revolutions,
In the darkness of Your Womb.
Hail Mari! The God is with You,
Your beloved Son and Lover, speaker of Your Word.
Hail Mari Kali Ma! Intercede with the Gods for us,
Be with us now and in the hours of death and rebirth.
Evo He, Blessed Be
Amen.

The period since I last wrote in this space has been busy and fruitful. And in the intervening time, I have had numerous thoughts for future ruminations to be shared here. At this moment of renewal–the Winter Solstice in the Northern hemisphere of our planet, the Summer Solstice in the South–there is a vivid, tangible sense of clearance, cleansing, and renewal. Some speak of this time as the moment when all the myriad manifestations of the Earth plane are dragged between the Pillars of Force and Form, to be reborn anew. In my personal practice, I see this as the end of the Fallow Tide, a completion of the period when all things lie dormant between the great feasts of Samhain and Yule. We have contemplated the teachings and the legacy of the Mighty Ones, honoring Their memory and opening our hearts to Their wisdom; now we light the candles of the Solar New Year to express our joy at the new opportunities and new challenges that beckon us onward.

This vital, ever-renewed engagement with cosmic forces in the context of my own human microcosm is one of the many reasons why I find such potency in living, working and loving as a Witch. In my many years of study, the Craft, as I have been fortunate and blessed to know and be trained in it, is the only path I have found that integrates so many distinct facets of being and existence into one sacred whole. One of the things I love most keenly about the Craft is that the wisdom takes shape in an organic engagement of ebb and flow in each Witch’s life; as a friend of mine loves to remind me, none of us can ever claim to know it all. And that’s wonderful, because it provides us with more opportunities to learn from one another, care for one another, and love one another.

Another thing I cherish about Witchcraft is how varied it is; how deeply rooted in the shifting tides of the embodied present; how it is at once deeply physical, and yet an Art that makes one profoundly aware of the realms of Dreamtime, Faery, Otherworld that forever seethe and glimmer at the threshold of our awareness. And through practice, meditation, and insight, we are granted the gift of becoming more intimately involved with these realms. As Levannah Morgan tells us in her beguiling, beautiful book A Witch’s Mirror (2013):

What is Witchcraft? Witchcraft is worshipping the Old Gods on a moonlit night on a high tor on Dartmoor. Witchcraft is tying nine knots in a red thread. Witchcraft is walking in the spirit world. Witchcraft is catching the moon in a mirror. Witchcraft is collecting rowan berries. Witchcraft is living with familiar spirits. Witchcraft is making a circle of holed stones. Witchcraft is dancing with the Horned God. Witchcraft is sitting on a deserted beach as the tides ebb and flow. Witchcraft is the oldest thing there is. …” (p. 7)

And it all takes place within the matrix of a loving relationship between the Mother of All Living and Her hidden children. As Victor expressed it in one of his most memorable poems:

I must obey Your quickening Triple Will
Though I may flee Your love with palsied dread;
At Your command my heart cannot be still
As I receive from You the holy bread.
When from the sky at dawn the moon has fled,
I keep the vision of Your moon-white brow,
Until the long-awaited feast be spread
In Avalon beneath the silver bough.
Though You have bound me with no marriage vow,
My passion burns with this eternal need
That I may love You then as I do now
When from the broken clay my soul is freed.
No darkness can death’s valley hold for me
If You, O Ceridwen, my moon will be.

–Victor Anderson, “Ceridwen”, Thorns of the Blood Rose (1970)

We call this season of the year Yule, which means Wheel, for this is indeed a mighty turning of the cosmic Wheel of Dark and Light. The candles we light at the end of this longest Night reflect the new illumination surging into potential birth within each individual’s soul.  May this light bring clarity, warmth, and renewed inspiration for us all. Blessed Be.

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