Poetic Journeys #22 – Coming to the Light

January 24, 2010 by  
Filed under culture, poetry, seasonal

Poetic Journeys #22 - Coming to the Light

Poetic Journeys

My mind playing tricks on my eyes
That golden glow bringing me into
worlds of pumpkin coaches.
Valkyrie in flight,
neverlands that never were,
yet so much more real than
what passes for day to day.

Sadness is beauty brought down by ugliness,
truth succumbing to convenient lies.
Joy is opening all the senses into the
spectrum of beauty.
No moderation,
no limitation,
no convenient structural captivity.
Let the stars be shining beacons
calling us home.
Let the wind be a magical cloak,
the rain an exultation.
Let the cold, dark night be
a treasured, inspiring friend.

Let the night take me forward
Into ever-fulfilling fantasies
The never-empty cup,
the magic wand/magic word,
sprinkled with faery dust,
toasted with the fine bubbles
of celluloid champagne.
Let us, the night and I, sneak off into
exotic adventure.
Let us learn the secrets of the Moon and Stars,
ancient runes and alchemical wonders.
Let us play upon the backs of dragons,
learning to fly,
learning to breathe fire,
learning to explore the mountain peaks
and caverns of
our chthonic fears
and spin them into gold.

The new day dawning
it will encounter clouds and hailstorms,
turbulence and destruction.
It will be a day of startling showers and
unsettled wind,
of unreasoned pain
and empty solace.
It will be a day to try our souls.
But it will be a day of infinite possibilities.

Let my good friend, the night,
join me in play
to help prepare me for the day.
Let the earth and fire and rain and wind
infuse my spirit
that we all be fellow friends
in the new ventures
coming with the light.

©2010 by Laurie Corzett.
Edited by Sheta Kaey.

The Magick of Christmas: Renewal and the Aeon

The Magick of Christmas: Renewal and the Aeon

As the Year darkens and grows cold, and as we fall into the depths of the oncoming Winter, we perceive a drop of bright energy in all the chilly gloom. The Winter Solstice season has traditionally been associated not with darkness and despair, but with hope, renewal and light. We feel a deep acceptance of limitation and loss that allows us to surrender into the dark, surrender ourselves and our dearest attachments of ego to the Source, in order that we may be renewed. This energy is manifest as the Solstice dawn lights up the depths of the barrow at New Grange and paints a piercing sliver of light known as the Sun Dagger on the stellar calendar at Chaco Canyon. These observances morphed into the ancient Roman celebrations of the Saturnalia and the Kalends, and found their most recent expression in the dozens of celebrations of the Christmas and New Year season. The Winter Solstice is as close to a global holiday as we Earthlings have, and these metaphors of renewal, rebirth and undying light persist through millennia.

I feel the relief and repose of the land as it goes fallow, of life turning itself gently inward against the cold. It’s reassuring, in its way. As I fall into the growing dark in the weeks after Samhain, I find myself craving sleep, craving tranquility, craving my meditation mat. I’ve brought my harvests in, I’ve fed and praised my ancestors, I’ve done my divinations — all that’s left to do is to drop into my tenderest places, and dream. It’s the time of deep mystery, of silence and stillness and of great joy blooming in the dark and cold.

Sadly, the beginning of Winter as it manifests in our culture and time most certainly does not support introspection or slowing down. The things I dislike about this season — the frenetic crush of activity, the pathological drive towards consumption, toxic family dynamics, the unnecessary glorification of Christian culture — are largely avoidable, so I consciously try to spend my energy wisely. But given the psychic overload of this time it’s no surprise to me that many people claim to despise the whole Christmas season. I certainly hated the whole Christmas season for many years. But I didn’t really want to hate it. I loved Christmas as a kid, and not just because of all the gifts. I wanted to reclaim the Winter Solstice for myself, to honor what I felt were the important lessons of this time. I had to rediscover the magic that I had resonated with so strongly as child.

My earliest memory of Christmas centers on the story of a magical quest. The story of the Nativity, as I learned it, was always couched in magical terms. The story began with the Magi king Melchior, noting the Star in the Eastern Sky, and obsessing over its meaning. I was fascinated by heavenly portents and the wise astrologer-king who alone could read the signs and felt compelled to follow them. I was thrilled by the perilous expedition to follow the Star, and moved by its surprising end: the birth of the Child of Grace in the humblest surroundings.

This is why there always seems to be magick afoot on Christmas Eve. When I stopped celebrating Christmas, I continued to feel that sense of wonder and expectation of joy. In tracing the pagan roots of Christmas traditions, one finds that the Nativity story is just the most recent iteration of this myth. In neo-pagan celebrations of Yule, this child of light may be evoked as Llew, Attis or Horus. This Child is the new Aeon coming about, the resolution of the Dyadic pair into something greater than the sum of its parts. This is the Mystery that the Magi were seeking. This is the promise of renewal that speaks to us from the dark.

Seen in this light, the Nativity myth takes on added depth. Christ’s parents symbolically occupy places on the Pillars of Severity and Mercy, but by moving towards the Middle Pillar they are able to give birth to a being who balances that polarity. Christ’s foster father, Joseph, descendant of the line of King David, is an exemplar of the Law as handed down by his forefathers, representing Logos (logic, law, the written word). As such, he stands firmly on the Pillar of Severity. According to the Law, he could demand that his bride-to-be be killed, since she is pregnant but not with his child. He is moved by compassion to spare her in defiance of the Law. Mary, on the other hand, has long been a symbol of the selfless devotion of motherhood, placing her on the Pillar of Mercy. Yet by embodying the Child’s physical being, she is also condemning what is mortal and human in him to torture and death. From her position on the Pillar of Mercy, and in contradiction of every maternal instinct, she offers her child to expiate the world’s sins. The resolution of these two opposites is the child Christ, who unites these principles and offers up a vision of a perfected Universe that neither paradigm could have predicted.

These potentials exist in every one of us, for all of us are seekers, all of us stand in our turns on the Pillars of Light and Dark, and all of us struggle to come to balance. We all spend time as logical beings trapped in our own histories, cultures and heritages. We are all beings of compassion who give of ourselves. And we are all Children of Light, emanations of the heart of flame that burns in the core of every star and in the soul of all who live. “Every man and every woman is a Star.” We as magicians are always seeking the Star which is our most perfected, essential self. We seek it as the only reliable guide to the Aeon, to the promise of a renewed World. This is the potential of which every Solstice season reminds us, and that we cannot help celebrating, in some small way.

©2009 by Leni Hester.
Edited by Sheta Kaey.

Leni Hester is a writer, ritualist, Witch and scholar. Her latest work is included in Women’s Voices in Magic from Megalithica Press (out November 30). Her work also appears in the anthologies Pop Culture Magick and Manifesting Prosperity from Megalithica Press, and in various pagan magazines including Sagewoman, NewWitch, Cup of Wonder, In a Witch Eye and Pangaia. She practices Transformational Magick and serves the Orisa near Denver, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.

Poetic Journeys #20 – Another Winter Solstice. . .

December 15, 2009 by  
Filed under culture, other, poetry, seasonal

Poetic Journeys #20 - Another Winter Solstice. . .

Poetic Journeys

The air is crystal hard, not clear;
Chilled by mottled, somber blankets.
Cold grey on darker grey
Lift pillars above the dull snow.
Yet this drear light lies.
Beyond the grimly bare trees
Wild rose and black briars
Set stealthy green shoots.
Below the grimy, frozen slush
Day lilies and daffodils
Swell towards their spring explosion.
Above the lowering, gloomy clouds
Summer’s sun begins to spiral
Towards its golden kaleidoscope.
Come, companions, into my fire
Where salamanders dance their release
Of Vernal rainbows trapped by leaves
Into this log for this fire to dance warmth
To make the sterile cold, pregnant.

©2004, 2009 by Ambrose Hawk.

Ambrose Hawk is the author of Exploring Scrying He currently resides in the Ozarks forests with a pride of rescued of cats, his beloved wife, and their stray terrier, Darling.

Guttershaman Halloween Special – The Gutter Press and the Tribe of the Strange

Guttershaman Halloween Special – The Gutter Press and the Tribe of the Strange

“The majority is always sane.” — Larry Niven, Ringworld
“Happy Halloween, ladies . . . Nuns — no sense of humour.” — The Kurgan, in Highlander

All my life, the stories that have spoken to me have invariable been from what are usually considered the “lesser” kinds of storytelling — science fiction, comics, B-movies, horror, fantasy.

Why?

Mostly, because I can more readily identify with the characters. The mainstream and “literary” works I’ve read are about people utterly unlike me and those I know and care about. Their concerns (blood relations, conventional seductions, party politics, capitalist greed — in other words, the consensus reality called “normality”) are not my concerns. My heroes and inspiration in fiction are larger than life — because my life, though not on the same scale as such figures, is still far closer to those “unreal” tales than to the “real life” ones. Being a magician in a world which mostly doesn’t believe in magic will do that, I guess.

I also think that genres that allow room to step outside contemporary society and look at it from an angle have far more to offer than those which reside utterly within it — it’s something at which science fiction (SF) and horror, at their best, excel. Reading SF and other fantastical genres stretches your brain in beneficial ways that mainstream works simply cannot do (one benefit seems to be a kind of memetic inoculation against Future Shock — once you’re used to considering complex multiple universes and ideas in your reading matter, rapid change of information and wider ranges of ideas in the physical world become so much easier to assimilate).

It’s not easy being at such a remove from consensus reality. Even ignoring the scorn (and occasional bullying) it can attract, just finding people you can talk to who get it, who share some of your perspective and have read those same weird writers, seen the same odd films, is an uphill struggle. It’s easier now of course — the Internet has made fandom much more accessible than back in the day when the only way to contact other fans was through mimeographed zines and occasional conventions. And while those folk are not always people I can get along with, I still feel a stronger affinity for them than for those who stick to the mainstream of thought and art.

(It’s worth noting that there’s a huge overlap between fandom groups and other Outsiders1 — roleplay gamers, sexual and gender explorers . . . and, of course, magicians.)

Sometimes, I think of it as being a member of the Tribe of the Strange. Those (to adapt a quote from SF writer Bruce Sterling) “whose desires do not accord with the status quo,” base their existence, their idea of what that entails — and the values they espouse — are often qualitatively different from those of the mainstream.

It’s not simply a matter of the knee-jerk opposition to or rejection of the mainstream (though there’s always an element of that going on, I suspect). It’s more that there’s a greater breadth of possibility outside it. And it’s certainly not saying that those who live within the mainstream are inferior or wrong — just that other possibilities exist and can be just as valid (or more so to those who the mainstream consider outsiders). And some of us prefer to live in that tribe far more than any of the ones offered by the Normal world.

Interestingly, ever since the outpouring of the counterculture in the 1960s if not before, those stories and underground ideas have become more and more part of the mainstream. We’re now at a point where the most popular books ever written are fantasies about magicians and vampires; the best selling movies are about robots, superheroes, spaceships and aliens. Yet somehow there’s still that disdain for the “Fantastika2,” both from ordinary people (who find it “weird”) and the academic intelligentsia (who find it “common”).

Co-opting of the counterculture is something that’s gone on for a long time, but the pace of it has increased rapidly as the mainstream has begun to run out of ideas. But what gets pulled into contemporary mainstream culture is of necessity diluted and superficial, not to mention lacking in imagination — the fuel that drives both genre writing and magic . . . and which seems to be peculiarly limited in mainstream and literary writing. (After all, how much imagination does it really take for a middle-aged college professor to write a novel about the sexual desires of a middle-aged college professor?)

While out for a walk during the writing of this, I overheard a conversation which ties into this nicely.

A young-ish upper middle class couple, chatting after visiting a friend, who they were talking about: “He’s just so . . . so unconventional,” they said. “I sometimes wonder if he’s got a screw loose.”

Unconventional equals insane? For a lot of folk, that’s about right. Showing even a tiny deviation from the Normal is an invitation to scorn, rejection — even violence.

But what the hell is “normal,” anyway?

To anyone who’s paid attention to history (and is not part of a religious or political tribe which rejects examining the past through any filter but their own) the definition of normality is a mercurial thing — changing constantly, no more solid and immutable than fashion. But all those definitions of normal have to be about stability, conservative (small “c”) attitudes, preservation of the status quo — and I do see the necessity of that. But at the same time, there needs to be room for outliers from that majority view, or the culture/ tribe/ country stagnates. There are even indications that the lack of innovation caused by the rejection of the un-normal can destroy civilisations3.

Perhaps this is why so many societies have times where the rules of the normal are temporarily suspended, where the usually despised and shunned aspects — sexual expression, weirdness, dressing strangely — are allowed to roam the streets. Carnival. Mardi Gras.

Halloween.

That lovely time of the year, when dressing like a monster (and increasingly, a sexy monster) in public is acceptable. When, for a short while, Goths, gender queers, and other outsiders can blend in, won’t be ostracised. When the rules of Normal don’t quite apply. Where the superheroes and wizards and beasts are, briefly, as welcome as anyone else.

And of course a time when the normal folk get to be tourists in the Tribe of the Strange . . . only to wake up the next day (possibly with hangovers or sugar crashes) and go back to the “real” world where dressing up like David bloody Beckham is the only acceptable form of cosplay — and the demons and witches get put back in the box marked “Unreal.”

I love Halloween. I love that everyone gets to join in. I don’t think the Tribe of the Strange needs a solid border between it and the “mundanes” — but I know the difference between being a tourist and being a citizen, that me and mine can’t really do the same. That dressing up as a magician one night a year, and being one all the time, are quite different things. Part of me wishes my tribe and theirs could get along better . . . but that the distance and difference between us might actually be the whole point.

Another part of me looks at all this and sees something that looks a whole lot like cultural theft.

Think about it — the majority culture cherry-picks what it finds attractive from an existing tribal tradition, shows little or no respect to that tribe, commodifies what it’s nicked and still insists it’s somehow superior to the tribe that’s been pillaged . . . (Much like those “literary” writers who co-opt SF and horror tropes without having actually read enough of the genre to avoid the worst clichés, then loudly claim what they have created isn’t that horrible sci-fi but somehow better . . . the Plastic Shamans of the Fantastic.)

I don’t actually take that idea seriously. If anything, I see that the weird is actually colonising the mundane in many ways. As our world grows more complex (both technologically and in terms of how many competing ideas surround us), ordinary life more and more resembles the science fiction of only a few years back. Those discrete fandoms that used to be obscure are becoming more acceptable and fannish conceits (from the value of behind-the-scenes documentaries to slash fiction) are becoming part of the general culture.

But no matter how much is absorbed into the common culture, there will always be those ideas and people who are too weird, won’t fit, stay beyond the pale — no matter how much money and publicity gets thrown at Harry Potter and Edward Cullen (and as the latter so perfectly shows, even those parts of the weird which do creep into the mainstream are softened, bowdlerised, rendered safe). And as mainstream culture shifts from permissive to restrictive and back again, this will oscillate. Or the weird will simply, once again, fall out of fashion. For a while.

And outside the normal world, the Tribe of the Strange will persist. We don’t shift with the tides of fashion. We’re not tourists in the weird parts of life — we live here.

We’re not as scary or inhospitable as the mundane world thinks. We don’t want to take them over or make them go away — we just hope to find a place where we can all talk, hang out, celebrate life in all its oddity and loveliness. Maybe we’ll find that Temporary Autonomous Zone, where the fantastic and the ordinary are all one tribe.

On Halloween, perhaps?

Buffy: “You’re missing the whole point of Halloween.”
Willow: “Free candy?!”

— From Joss Whedon’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

Footnotes

  1. Read more about Outsiders here.
  2. Fantastika, a word favored by John Clute and one worthy of emulating.
  3. BioEd Online: Conformists May Kill Civilizations.
  4. Cosplay, defined at Wikipedia, retrieved October 2009.

©2009 by Ian Vincent.
Edited by Sheta Kaey.

Ian Vincent was born in 1964 and is a lifelong student of the occult. He founded Athanor Consulting, a specialist paranormal protection consultancy, in 2002. He closed Athanor in 2009 to better focus on studying wider aspects of the Art. He blogs on magical theory.

Into The Aethyr – The Thinning of the Veil

Into The Aethyr - The Thinning of the Veil

Paganism is rife with those who deem themselves helpers of departed souls “trapped” in some earthly desire or other and reluctant to move on. I cringe every time I hear or read the words “into the light,” unless I am watching Poltergeist. These eager ghost hunters frequent cemeteries and old buildings, seeking spirits to usher into the great beyond, as if any human being alive can possibly know more of the spirit world and spirit daily affairs than the spirits do. This time of year, the month of October in particular, is the worst of all.

We’ve all heard at least one person remark on the thinning of the veil around Halloween, how spirits otherwise (reputedly) unreachable become much more chatty and expect to be served dinner on All Hallow’s Eve. While some have ancestral relationships that incorporate this tradition, the bulk of those yammering on about the veil thinning have no idea what they’re on about. And yet there is evidence that spirit communication is at an all time high, at least in the modern era. Certainly my work has in the last decade steadily uncovered more and more people who are either very convincing to my skeptical viewpoint or else are having genuine experiences with those who’ve “passed on.”

The 1990s saw the peak of the phenomenon of trance channeling, during which the medium or psychic (such words leave a bad taste in my mouth) gives up control of the body to his or her spirit guide so that the spirit can speak directly to the audience (perhaps of one, or perhaps of a thousand, depending upon the intensity of — spirit or human — desire for attention and revenue). While this sort of relationship is still easy enough to find, it’s being overshadowed by the much more commonplace and much more blasé method of conscious channeling, wherein the medium or human partner simply allows the spirit to speak without giving up control of his or her faculties. I’ve done both, and while it can be cool to gather the evidence that a trance channeling session can provide, there’s a lot to be said for being a conscious partner. You remember a lot more, for one thing.

A little .pdf book called Thinning of the Veil: A Record of Experience by Mary Bruce Wallace has a few points to make on this regard. While I haven’t had a chance to read the entire book, I can appreciate what she has to say on channeling:

“I felt from the very first perfectly normal, not losing consciousness in any way, but I could not guess what the next word would be until I had heard it. ‘We just give you one word at a time, and then wait to see if you have grasped it,’ said my friend.

“The voice seemed to speak not to my outer ear but to my soul-ear, and I heard every intonation of it, suiting the nature of the thought, tender, grave, encouraging, hopeful, joyous; every human emotion that is true and beautiful seemed expressed in tones more musical than any outward voice can reach.”

This book was published in 1919. Ms. Wallace writes at length on the relationship between herself and her spirit teacher. A single, unexpected encounter with a departed friend led to meeting this teacher, and then a floodgate opened and she began to see angels as well as other departed souls. Exhibiting a much more grounded approach to these experiences and recording them without coloring her encounters with more modern garbage such as, “We’ve lived 10,000 lifetimes together and he loves me more than anyone has ever been loved before [a sentiment I’ve actually heard before],” her prose is a breath of fresh air from a time we can no longer relate to. As children of the Information Age, our attention spans are minuscule, and our capacity for reason not much bigger. Mediums, shamans and psychics, or just sensitive people as I prefer to be called, would do well to emulate our cultural ancestors, such as Ms. Wallace and Ida Craddock.

It’s the opinion of Ms. Wallace, and I fully agree, that the veil is thinning — oh yes, but it’s not restricted to the seasons of Samhain and Beltane. The thinning of the veil is a progression, a gradual change year after year that allows normal, ordinary people to encounter spirits of various ilk on a daily basis. I’m constantly receiving emails and requests for help from people who’ve had their first encounters with spirits and don’t know what to do. But the one thing the bulk of them have in common is that they’re enraptured and want to learn to strengthen and continue this contact. Only paranoid religious fanatics tend to see these spirits as dangerous or demonic.

The veil is thinning. It’ll still be thinning in November, in February, in August, in 2012 (and 2012 — that’s a bitch-fest for another day). If you haven’t had an unexpected encounter with a spirit yet, odds are you will. Just do us all a favor, and don’t lose your rational mind in the experience.

©2009 by Sheta Kaey

Lammas: Abundance and the Courage to Receive

Lammas: Abundance and the Courage to Receive

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt – marvelous error! –
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

—Antonio Machado

Now is the time of the embarrassment of riches.

Summer heaps abundance upon us — an abundance of heat and sunlight, of long golden days that stretch into steamy twilights, of the fertile Earth heaping the treasures of flower and fruit for all to see. In the garden, the tomatoes weigh down the vine, the zucchini and pumpkin push their creepers further out as their fruits swell obscenely, the apple trees groan under their burden of ripening fruit. Insects swarm, the animal babies of Spring are seen following their mothers. All the unrestrained living of our living world is in full force. Summer pours its blessings on us all in a wealth of light, heat, blood and chlorophyll. Every leaf, every fruit, every branch has rushed out to its furthest edge of ripeness and splendor — we are at the zenith of the year’s productivity and about to tip over down the other side.

It’s easy in the crush of such overwhelming growth to forget the scarcities of winter, its bitterness and the emptiness of the land. It’s also easy to forget that the balance to all this abundance and grace is sacrifice. The Sacrificed King is slain to provide for his people, as all life depends upon the eternal cycles of life and death and life again. This sacrifice is not always easy for us to comprehend, and makes us feel uneasy and perhaps guilty. We must not forget that “sacrifice” means to “make sacred” and an integral part of the sacrifice is our humble willingness to receive the blessing of this gift. In receiving it, we become witnesses to it, and if we do not shirk the responsibility that this gift incurs, we enter into an eternal contract with the Mystery. We are changed by receiving this grace. It requires courage to accept it.

I have lacked this courage. Despite my belief in the overflowing power of the Universe to provide, and faith in my own ability to manifest, somewhere deep inside I don’t truly allow myself to receive the abundance that I know is immanent. One of the most important, and most uncomfortable, lessons I’ve received this year, was to have my inability to receive shown to me. I had booked a night at a retreat center and spa to recharge myself. This was a gift to myself — 24 hours of silence, of water and sand, of being intimate with myself in ways that the crush of parenting and working full time had made almost impossible. I desperately needed the down time, but for the first two hours I sat by the tide pool in my bathing suit, unable to stop fretting about my kids, my work, my responsibilities elsewhere.

I was unable to be present with the gift I had given myself, and was ruining my own mini-vacation because I could not accept the gift of time, silence and luxury. No one was denying me this but myself. Somehow I was more comfortable feeling stressed, anxious and angry at trifles than I was letting go of it all and taking in the healing of salt air and hot water. In moving through my mundane life, I had been pushing through, trying to hold myself together and all I had really accomplished was to close myself down. I needed the courage to give myself permission to be at rest, to not be dealing or in charge, to not be productive, to simply let myself be and allow myself to be at peace. It was scary to let it go, I felt vulnerable, but in letting go I was able to finally open to the blessings.

The image that came to my mind then was the yoga Warrior pose (asana): one knee forward, one back, arms stretched out, the chest open and vulnerable. The Warrior is not closed down and defensive. He pulls his shoulders back, which opens his chest, then his heart, generating strength out of vulnerability. The heart grows stronger, the spine lengthens, the blessings of the Gods pour down. It takes courage to receive grace, to incur the responsibility for receiving it, for being called upon to be present and mindful of it. Our culture does not teach this type of gratitude, because gratitude dispels the illusion of disconnection and isolation that supports its dominator paradigm. Meat comes from the store, water from the tap, power from the switch — how these things got there are invisible processes that do not importune us with questions about their true cost. We do not need to be mindful of the true cost because we do not have to raise the animal we eat, or carry the water we drink, or generate the power we use. Because we are encouraged to remain in our illusion of isolation, the real costs and liabilities of these things are never really known to us, and we cannot be appropriately grateful for what we have received. It takes courage to see things as they are, to see what things truly cost, and to willingly acknowledge our indebtedness.

Earlier this summer I was the recipient of profound grace, with all its perils, when my family bought our first new house and prepared to move in. The house had been vacant for at least two years and a large colony of wild honeybees had made their home in the upstairs dormer window sill. It was the bees that had first made me seriously consider this house. The first time I went to look at it, as I stood on its crooked front stoop, I asked the house “What do I need to know about you?” whereupon I heard an intense buzzing. Looking up, I saw several bees flying in and out of the window sill. As a Priestess of Ochun, I was immediately attentive. Bees are her sacred animals, and since she is a household Goddess, I had requested her help in securing the right house.

Relocating the bees was the first thing that happened once the closing papers were all signed. None of the options for moving them along were easy or cheap, but the only effective method was the also the most ethically sound. I had no intention of just exterminating the bees, of course, but I found it ironic that even if they were simply gassed by an exterminator, the entire nest would still have to be removed, the space cleaned out and rebuilt, and that would not be the end of the problem. “Oh, poison just makes them mad,” said one bee keeper, and makes things even worse when the bees inevitably returned. Having someone remove the bees, relocate them to a new hive and remove the nest was going to incur some casualties among the bees, but it was the best solution for us and for the bees.

The morning the bee keeper came was cloudy and cool, a perfect day for the removal. It occurred to me that in agrarian communities, June was traditionally the time for setting up housekeeping as couples were married, and also for wild bees to swarm. This was also a time when bees could be put into hives where the honey could be more easily harvested. Honey has a long and venerable history as a medicine and treasured delicacy. I was reminded that in ancient times, before humans learned to keep bees and had to raid wild nests, honey was more valuable than gold. I had a perfect and safe view through the window as the sill was removed, hundreds of bees alarmed into defensive flight, and when the rotted wood was lifted out, a flood of gold poured out like treasure. It did really look like treasure being pulled out of the ground, as the dark wood gave way to ivory colored wax pulsing out liquid amber. The comb glowed like it was lit from within, its life force (ache’) so strong that lit up a dark overcast morning. The nest was a few years old, the slabs of comb three feet long and more, several inches thick, crawling with thousands of bees and just dripping with honey.

Over forty pounds of honey and comb were taken out of the wall, and a large healthy hive was relocated. The sill was repaired and I could go forward with other necessary repairs. I could not help but feel sad for the bees as I watched them crawling around, disoriented, on what was left of their home. It was obvious they were traumatized by the invasion. A colony is organized by function and none of the bees could perform their work. The defenders were overmatched by the human cutting into their precious hive; the comb builders could not build comb and the nectar collectors had no place to return to. I considered how, like many families in the recession, they had lost their home, their life’s work and their savings through no fault of their own. I learned later that this was a recurring narrative for the house, having been foreclosed once before. We had purchased it at a steep discount from a family who could not continue with their plan to fix and flip it. So this house had an unfortunate history of its inhabitants investing big and losing it all. This gave me pause, made me feel somewhat guilty and also concerned about my own fortunes.

I realized that this sacrifice was also a blessing. In Santeria and Lukumi, the ritual libation (ebbo) is sometimes covered in honey as a final touch of grace, and my house had, at great cost to the bees, been blessed by a wealth of honey poured on it. As witness to their sacrifice, I had to honor and acknowledge what others had sacrificed for this house, which made it the wonderful safe place to raise my family. I had done plenty of magick to find the right house at the right price in the right location, and this house had everything and more — I knew I had been divinely led to this house, and I felt deeply that the house itself longed to change its narrative of loss and disappointment. We had been brought together for our mutual good, and every sign, omen and touch of grace was a blessing. I had been reluctant to make an offer on the house because it just felt too rich — everything too perfect, the view too great, the yard too nice, etc. I had to acknowledge that this was not too good to be true — it was just challenging me to accept something this wonderful, and to accept it humbly with an open heart.

©2009 Leni Hester
Edited by Sheta Kaey

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