I did not really have the headspace to do the entire journey and ritual yesterday, and, feeling no intense pressure from Na Morrigna, I figured I had been granted an extension.
And then, the news came in. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, had died. On this, the first night of Rosh Hashanah. Not a very “sweet” way to begin a new year, though there is a saying that tzaddikim, greatly righteous people, die on Rosh Hashanah, because they are given the full measure of a year. That is certainly true in this case. May her memory be a blessing.
With that roiling in my head, I went to see Na Morrigna, to ask of them what they would have me tell their folk, for this moon cycle. And I came back with the following:
A Warrior dies Disheartening news The battle still rages
Raging on and on The battling continues We move forward slowly
Slow change frustrates Forge your frustration into Will Overcome your insecurities
Security is an illusion You have more to lose Than you might think
Rosc-like, but more raw this time, less poetic. Still, good advice for us, I think. Grieve, Crows – but do not give up the battle.
Additional note: a knowledgeable friend says that we ought to give RBG 7 days to complete her transition before attempting to honor her as one of the Mighty Dead. Seven days for her family to sit shiva after the burial, to observe the Jewish rites of mourning.
This dark moon, when I went to speak with Na Morrigna, they spoke to me of the importance of self-care to avoid burnout, the importance of continuing the fight and staying on target even as things appear to be settling down, as the ongoing struggles slip out of mainstream news cycles. Above all they stressed that the harvest would come soon. Lughnasadh is just around the corner: a time for renewed contracts, for the settling of legal disputes. A good time to clarify our purpose as we head towards Samhain, the month of November. The apple harvest is almost here, and with it will come a change, although the type of change still hangs in the balance, undecided, uncertain. One more push is needed, if we wish to reap the harvest we’ve been working for. Look to those on the peripheries for guidance as you move forward. The marginalized ones. They will know how to best achieve justice. Witches and apples have a long history, and acorns are not Macha’s only crop. There may be bloodshed yet to come, as the harvest comes in and the rents come due.
Here is a slip of a poem, inspired by my visit:
Crows gather in fields Perching on straw men Eating the corn
Apples ripen on trees Dripping with syrup Sweet-tasting deception
Poisoned apples Bloody acorns Swirling murders of crows
Otherworldly battles Faction against faction Spilling over the border
A queer wit sees more truth The worlds entwined A struggle for control
The people gather a harvest Each one gets their portion Long-due debts will be paid
This time, when I went to visit Na Morrigna, they spoke first about the healing ritual I led earlier this month, how necessary it is for those doing battle to stop and be healed, to stop and get clean again. And that will also be necessary, they say, as we move into the phase where we decide what comes next. As movements asking for change gain momentum, those who rose up are asked: but what changes? What will that look like? They gave me visions of imagery, and words to share, almost a poem, inspired by them but still in my own voice. Questions to ask ourselves.
Seeds from a bad harvest, Planted in better soil, Trained into new shapes.
What can be fixed? What can be used?
When the tower has fallen, When the fires are banked, When it is time to rebuild:
What will you use? What will you keep?
Meditate on these questions, fellow Crows. Find your own answers, and then add to the growing discussions in your own communities. Some things are surely beyond repair, beyond saving, but others may be salvaged if they are stripped back far enough, like a house with “good bones”. Make sure you are contemplating the bones of even the largest of institutions: what to destroy, and which to salvage for building materials. The fight goes on, but we need to think about a way forward, as well. Clear goals and objectives to aim for, to focus on.
Be well. May strength, courage, and clarity be yours.
This is the second dark moon since I was recalled to service, and one of many that I have served the role of messenger for Na Morrigna, messenger mainly to those whose practice is most similar and location is most proximal to my own, but perhaps the message will find resonance farther afield as well. I write because I am told to, and this small platform is as good as any – my community knows where to find me.
This time, as many others, I journeyed to my usual meeting place with Na Morrigna, the three Daughters of Ernmas. They met me there, and a fire was already lit beneath the great cauldron, though it was not full. I poured water to fill it from my own jug, and they added herbs, stirred it together until it was steaming, and then bade me look.
I saw violence, turmoil. barely contained. The water and herbs in the cauldron seethed and roiled though the surface was calm. Likewise, violence boils beneath the surface of our society. Things are tensed, straining, and something will have to give, for the pressure will not let up, cannot let up – it has gone to far, and we are past the point of turning back, past the point where we might have been able to settle it back down. We cannot stop the rising flood, though there are better and worse ways of dealing with the flood as it spills over. As a society we’ve laid poor foundations, and we have not restructured them properly or even maintained past partial fixes, and we’ll find ourselves facing disaster. A harvest of disasters, grown from poisoned seeds in unmaintained fields. I look again, deeper, and it gets clearer. I see riots, I see burning, I hear gunfire, screams, I smell smoke. It looks to my untrained eyes like war.
They tell me to say: “Do not look to the King for justice. His Ways are not Just. But those among you who are warriors, guard your communities during the turmoil. Healers, heal. Others, look to your crafts. What power will you wield in the battle to come? Not hard to say.”
Note: those last two sentences in the quoted section come from the Cath Maige Tuired, somewhat paraphrased, from when Lugh is asking each person what they will do in the battle.
I have been recalled early. For two years, I served as an oracular priestess of the Morrigna, the Daughters of Ernmas, every Dark Moon from Lughnasadh until Imbolc. But I find myself called back to duty before Beltaine this time.
I imagine many of you are finding the same to be true. If you have been on standby, consider this your activation, your incitation. If you have been doing Their Work, you may find you are being called to work Deeper, to work more Often, to work more Directly.
But first, the message:
You are surrounded by a sea of lies, deceit, delusions of imposterhood, illusions that things will, or can, ever be “normal” again. Swim to shore. Wave-chariots will carry you if your stroke falters. Reaffirm your commitment to change, to the Work. Reaffirm your commitment to me, and join me and the Crow Fianna on shore. Regroup your squadrons. Make plans. Be ready. More work is coming, more change is coming, more tests of will are coming. You are prepared. Be ready for the Call.
I suggest you all make witchy go-bags and carry them with you, or put them in a place in your home you can get to easily and begin quickly, if you suddenly feel that you need to act. Get in contact with your closest allies in your community, whether locally or online. If you feel called to work together, do that. If you feel called to work alone, do that. If you’re not sure: ask, and LISTEN.
Arise, kings to battle here! Seizing honor, speaking battle-spells, destroying flesh, flaying, snaring, seizing battle [plains]*, seeking out forts, giving out a death feast, fighting battles, singing poems, proclaiming druids collect tribute around in memory.
Bodies wounded in a rushing assault, pursuing, exhausting, breaking, prisoners taken, destruction blooms, hearing screams, fostering armies battle, occupants moving, a boat sails, arsenal cuts off noses.
I see the birth of every bloody battle, red-wombed, fierce, obligatory-battlefield, enraged.
Daimler leaves the missing word untranslated, but the image I was given when I asked indicated terrain, which Morpheus Ravenna discusses on pg 145 of The Book of the Great Queen. I’ve also broken up the lines here to fit the rhythm communicated to me. I don’t claim that either of those additions are “more correct”, but it does seem to be the way Na Morrigna would like them to be presented here and now, for Their own reasons.
I suppose I’ll be seeing you all next Dark Moon. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to reach out, especially for my usual offerings on Their behalf: distance energy healing, and divined guidance.
As I have from Lughnasadh til now, on the Dark Moon I went to see the three Morrigna. It was hazy and I was ill, and I was told to come back again after sunset on January 31st, Imbolc Eve. Apologies for the delay, fellow Crows, but here is what I learned.
This time the message was largely visual. I joined the Morrigna at their cauldron, they bid me to drink of it, and then took my hands in theirs, a circle around the cauldron, and thus supported I leaned forward, seeing in the waters, then with my face submerged, seeing under the waters.
I saw civil disturbance, resistance, unrest, war. All too close to avert now, but that was never the plan. Timelines are hastening, change is coming and with it, renewal. Shadow puppets of the Fomori, a comparison to today’s unjust leaders. The downfall of Unrighteous Kings. We need to ride the currents of chaos, and press forward, push the seams of our society, break the bonds that hold us back. We Crows will fly the airstreams above the battles, inciting others to join us, swooping low to turn people towards the paths that will lead us forward into a better world. Some will be at the forefront, some further back sheltering other beneath their wings. Most will move between roles, as circumstances allow. Darting back and forth, a mob of crows, difficult to tell apart, moving as one mass, one organism. Each squadron keeping perfect time with the others, balance in chaos, intuitive movements allowing us to find ourselves exactly where we need to be. Individually, we have achieved certain mastery and maturity in our craft but there is always more to learn from experience. Keep going. Keep going. Keep going. Don’t cut corners; there are no quick fixes. There will be temptation to give up, to give in to despair: Do Not. We are building for a long future. Trust yourself, trust your intuition, trust your gods. These will guide you true.
With this last message, the cycle of my oath is fulfilled. Unless they ask more of me before then, I expect I will continue these messages next Lughnasadh. In the interim I am still “on call” for divinatory and healing services to those joining in this great work, and I’ll be presenting a healing ritual at the Morrigan’s Call Retreat in June.
The Dark Moon this month brought me once again to the cauldron of the three Morrigna, and what I saw and was told I relay to you. There’s a sense of urgency here, of difficulty on the horizon, that I’m not sure quite comes through in the words below, though that is the fault of the messenger, not the Goddesses.
Embrace the night-work, do your spellwork in the gloaming, and do not fear the dark. Keep the work you do a secret among yourselves. It will prosper better in darkness. We work to topple unjust Kings, to dismantle structures of oppression, and the wheel turns slowly, but the balance is currently in our favor. It is time to fight to redress wrongs and injustices and for you to reestablish right relationship with your gods, your not-gods, your communities, and yourselves. Transform the pain of your past, and the rage of your present, into war-tools. Let the heat of your emotions be a bladesmith’s forge. You have been called by Goddesses of War!
The next Dark Moon is January 24th. Look for the next message around then.
Here is this recent Dark Moon’s message from Na Morrigna, as I was told and shown in their steaming cauldron.
Release the last of your fears, doubts, and insecurities. They do not serve you well. Let them shrivel and die in the frost. Turn inward, and take stock of yourself. You have been training, and you are ready. You do not feel ready yet, but you never will. It is time to take action. You are a fully formed blade, and half sharpened, but your edge will only be honed to razor sharpness by doing the work. Focus, and act. You know what needs to be done. We will join your workings together as a rope of ivy, enveloping all obstacles in our path, growing ever greener and ever stronger.
Short and to the point. If you need more direction for how to do the task before you, I suggest asking for a little more guidance in journey work or via divination. As before, I’m happy to offer my divinatory services free to those who feel unable to do their own, as that is one of my own tasks I’m oathed to perform. Be well, Crow Folks, and I’ll be back with another message next Dark Moon.
This past Sunday was the Dark Moon, and as I’ve done for the past few months, the same as I did last year, I went to Na Morrigna to ask for an omen for their devotees within my networks and acquaintance. I received the following message:
Your cup is being refilled. You’ve had setbacks, and taken some well-deserved rest, but it is time to move on. You’ve been training for battle and gathering your squadrons, and it is time to Do the Work. You are prepared to engage, despite your doubts. I will lead you in sorcery and battle magic; we will press upon the field of war our own will and vision. We will fight with fierce determination. Play to your own strengths; you know your role and your shadows. Samhain Eve is the time we will work together, and our combined power will crash in a wave over the next few days. Raise and direct your magic in accordance with what I will show you.
It is somewhat unusual for me to get first-person-singular messages back, being as I usually speak with all of three of them, but in this case the speaker was Morrigan herself, leading her sisters as well as us Crow Folks in this action.
I also have two points of clarification. First, by “Samhain Eve” she means October 31st. Halloween, for those of us who celebrate that. Samhain is both November 1st and also the modern Irish entire month of November. Secondly, that last sentence means that if you’re not already aware of your role, you need to go talk to her and figure that out BEFORE Oct 31st, or at the very least early enough in the day on Oct 31st to still have time to prep and actually do the thing.
And fellow USians: working for change on a magical scale is super necessary work, but please also follow up with some mundane work and go vote in positive change on November 5th. Do your research and make sure the candidates you pick are the ones that best align with your values.
Good luck, Crow Folks! And I’ll be back with another message on or around November 26th.
This time of year, between the autumnal equinox and Samhain, is when I notice the most activity from a loose grouping of spirits I’ve begun to refer to as Riders on a Baleful Wind. I’m referring both to the Wild Hunt (or, really, Hunts, plural) and also to some of the Fair Folk—trooping fairies who travel near these dates*, and groups like the slua sí, who are also associated with wind or storms, and overlap somewhat with the folkloric Wild Hunt.
As a folklore motif and a mythological archetype, the Wild Hunt is prevalent across much of Northwestern Europe, and the Hunt of each region has its own leader. Often these leaders are Pre-Christian deities associated with war or death, like Odin/Woden and Gwyn Ap Nudd. Other times they’re figures associated with the aos sí, like Manannán Mac Lir, or they’re said to be famous ghosts, like Herne the Hunter. These folk tales came with European Immigrants to the Americas as well, and here the Hunt is sometimes known as the Ghost Riders. (Some of you will be familiar with the song, I imagine.) Besides the leader, who or what exactly the rest of the company is varies from tale to tale. Sometimes they are human dead, sometimes they’re said to be fairies or demons, but most frequently these groups seem to be something of a motley crew. The overlapping circles of the Fair Folk, the Gods, and the Dead are difficult to pick apart, and it’s especially difficult to draw any clear lines when we’re looking at the Wild Hunt and related groups of weather-riding unfriendly otherworldly beings.
Unfriendly and intimidating though they may seem, not all of them are actually malevolent. That’s why I term them “baleful”, not “baneful”, and each individual group poses a different type and level of danger. Malevolent or not, however, they’re generally not spirits most witches want in or around their homes or places of business, and with that in mind I’ve been working on a charm object to add a little additional protection to whatever wards you already have in place.
The charm itself is fairly small and would easily blend into an autumn wreath. The ingredients are pretty simple as well: a sweetgum ball, some red yarn, and iron water.
SWEETGUM BALL: One per charm, dried, preferably with the stem attached.
Part of the work I’ve been doing with the Ogham for the past two years (or more, really, but I think it was two years ago that I really started diving in deeply in a structured way) is finding local plants that have similar energy to the plants of the tree ogham list.** Sweetgum, a tree indigenous to my area, has an energy that I think is similar in some important ways to Blackthorn. While it doesn’t have thorns, it does have spiky seed balls, and its sweet-scented sap, like blackthorn sloes, is actually very bitter tasting. Additionally, it’s a favored food of luna moth caterpillars, an insect I have long associated with nocturnal fairy beings. Blackthorn is sometimes said to belong to or to ward off the Othercrowd, and I find Sweetgum fits that niche as well. I have since learned that sweetgum balls are also used in hoodoo for protection, which dovetails nicely with both my experience of the tree, and this charm.
RED YARN: Or thread, I suppose. Enough to wrap around the sweetgum ball twice at perpendicular intersections, and tie off to leave tails for hanging.
I decided to spin my own yarn. I’ve wanted to learn to spin for a long time, but until recently thought I was allergic to wool. It turns out, I’m probably reacting to a chemical used in the commercial processing, because I did a test with a friend’s fleece-to-homespun and had no redness, no itching, no bumps, no hives! Excited, I borrowed a drop spindle and purchased some red-dyed roving from an artisan supplier. They included a sample of some other colors and I used that to figure out a technique for spinning. That way, once I started on the red roving, I could focus more on spinning my intent and my power into the yarn, instead of still figuring out what the heck I was doing. If you don’t spin, I recommend braiding embroidery floss as a good alternative for adding your intent and power to the string. Something like: I’m a badass witch and I protect this space; I decide who enters and who the wards keep out.
Iron Water: Soak some nails in water with a little splash of apple cider vinegar for a few days. When it’s ready, dip the sweetgum ball, yarn and all, into the water and let it get saturated.
I doubt I need to tell most of my readers that iron is known to ward off the Fair Folk, but just in case you need the refresher: that’s why we’re using iron water. You could also stick those very nails into this charm if you wanted, but that’s a bit stronger than I wanted for my personal charms, and it would be a little too strong for some allies I don’t want to keep out. I wanted something vaguely iron scented. Enough iron to say that I know what I’m about, but not enough iron to deeply offend those who are welcome across my threshold.
This is also probably a good time to tell you that this charm, as I’ve made it, is basically a “No Tresspassing” sign. It’s not going to do much good if it’s your only line of defense. If you have decent house wards, though, and gods or allies you can turn to in times of need, that sign will be enough to make those Riders more inclined to go around, rather than through. There are fewer obstacles elsewhere, and easier prey to be found. As with most predators, that’s usually enough, as long as you don’t provoke them.
* Though the ones who travel near the autumnal equinox may be following the Pleiades, not the equinox. See Morgan Daimler’s recent writings on that for more information.
** Nota Bene: The Ogham is an alphabet, and it’s not just about trees. Trees are one of the ogham lists. There’s also word ogham, skill ogham, bird ogham, even dog and waterway ogham. Eventually I’ll make my own local herb and bird and waterways lists, too, and maybe a modern skills ogham. But a lot of my general witchy practice includes work with plants, so trees seemed like a good place to start.