I am feeling a bit under the weather today. Allergies are kicking my butt and I feel as if my head is in a vise. So, instead of trying to fight through all of the crap in my head, I thought I would re-share an old post, Darkest Night. I wrote this several years ago as an offering to Hekate at our groups Hekate’s Feast night. However, its content is just as relevant today as it was then.
Once again we enter the season of contemplation and quiet as the wheel of the year turns to Mabon. This turn ushers in the beginning of the darkest time of the year. And in this dark, we call upon the Goddesses whose realms reside in the shadows. We turn to them in the darkest hours of the night, during the darkest times of our souls. It seems fitting that this small offering be shared once again,
Darkest Night – A Poem for Hekate
By Terry Lynn Pellegrini – (Copyright 2016)
In the darkest of nights, She lights my way. Phosphorous, illuminating, brilliant one. Torches held high, I follow. Through my despair, through my apprehension, She leads me to knowledge. She leads me to joy. And through my joy, She shows me life and what lies beyond.
Her torches burn through the forgotten fields of my soul. Scorching that which has died, lain fallow, neglected. Blackened earth and ash nourish the slumbering seeds of inspiration, Pushing visions through the parched earth towards the moonlit sky. I feel Her pull, Her presence quenching my thirst, slaking my hunger.
With Her keys, She unlocks for me the mysteries, Invites me through the door and into the welcoming darkness I have forgotten. Her hounds, black, menacing, ever at my side. Guarding my steps, teeth bared, haunches taut. Ever ready to protect as well as devour. And they watch, as fears are defeated and yearnings are satiated.
And when I stand at the crossroads of my life, She comes. Lighting the path of my existence, showing me the path to my destiny, Gifting me with the secrets of life, death, and beyond. And I rejoice in the knowing of Her. Giving freely of my heart, my devotion, my pain, and my joy.
Hekate Soteria. Hekate Phosphorous. She of the three faces. Guardian of the Crossroads. She who stands as my Mother, my sister, my Goddess. My teacher, my mentor and my muse. Hekate. May I live a thousand years in your service. May you be forever in my heart, my mind and my soul. Hail Hekate!
Not long ago I had a new student ask me if witchcraft and magick were “safe”. My first impulse was to launch into a long diatribe regarding intent, precautions, yada yada. Instead, I giggled, or maybe more accurately cackled, (not entirely certain if it was out loud or in my head). After I’d composed myself, I sat her down, took her hand, and proceeded to explain that there is no such thing as “safe” witchcraft. Ever.
Merely by using the words witchcraft, witch and magick, you’ve launched yourself completely out of any and all “safe” zones. These words are loaded with mystery, superstition and fear. Hell, just giving yourself the moniker “witch” is dangerous enough. But telling someone you are a witch or studying the Craft? Danger, danger, Will Robinson! Be prepared to answer questions, defend yourself, or beat feet out of a sticky, and perhaps volatile, situation.
As for the practice itself – safe has never been a word I’ve used for it. Face it. We didn’t start practicing Witchcraft to be safe. It called to us, grabbed us and held on. That in itself was a scary prospect, answering a call into the unknown, into the mysteries that are the Craft. Do you recall your first ritual? Your first spell? Can you still feel the apprehension, the suspense, the fear and the anticipation? I recall the chills that ran down my spine, the sweat on my brow and the utter joy to finally connect with the magick, the whole, everything. Cue the goosebumps. No, safe has never been a part of the Craft and it never will be.
Magick Isn’t “Safe”
Then there is the magick itself. Magick isn’t safe. It is messy, explosive, emotional, powerful, and many times, freaking scary. To be a witch is to push and break boundaries – not at all a safe prospect. We work with the dead, the Gods, and the “Others” of this dimension and the next, and the next. By its very nature, magick is dangerous. So many things can go wrong if our hearts, mind, and intentions are not in sync. Even when everything is aligned and our spells manifest exactly the way we desired them to, there is always a cost. Magick costs us personal energy, time and often, a piece of ourselves. Nothing is free so we must always cast wisely.
Should we be scared of doing magick? No, but we do need to give it the respect and caution it deserves. Magick is not for the faint of heart, the dabbler, the skeptic, the weak of mind and spirit. Well-trained practitioners understand this and treat magick and its energies with reverence, and act in consideration for all of its actions. They are mindful in their castings, always heeding the laws of magick and that of their guides and chosen deities. In contrast, those that do the most harm, who are the most dangerous, are those that treat magick as a “thing”. They treat it as a toy, a plaything, abusing its energy without understanding it. When there is no consideration of possible harm, no cognizance of where magick comes from, how to channel it, then magickal backlash and chaos can, and does, occur.
Witches and Wiccans and Wizards, Oh My
Another seemingly harmless yet inherently dangerous part of our craft is what the “muggles”, the “regulars”, think of it all. Others may perceive our Craft, our magick, our work, even ourselves, as frightening, creepy, otherworldly, and “evil”. A lack of understanding about what we do can lead to threats, animosity and, at times, violence. Our neighbors hear us chanting in the back yard, talking to plants and animals, and drumming in the Full Moon. They see our pentacles, brooms, and protection sigils and become alarmed. Out of fear they label us “weirdos”,# scary” and “delusional”. Perhaps they hang an extra crucifix or two around their property, cross themselves when they see us or just shake their heads as if we were wayward children. If we are lucky, that’s as far as it goes. It’s when they decide to “cleanse” or “protect” the neighborhood that things get scary and dicey.
Opening dialogues with the neighbors can ease some of this tension, but don’t count on it. I’m lucky that one of my neighbors is cool with it, may not fully understand, but remains open to what I may share with her. The others? They are more of the “cross themselves” variety. But it’s all good. Just keep doing what you’re doing, bang that drum, stir that cauldron, and cackle maniacally any chance you get. A tiny bit of fear will keep them from asking you to their next boring Tupperware party.
“Safe” is a Four-Letter Word
Is Witchcraft Safe? No. Is it scary? Yep. But it is worth every shiver, every goosebump, every daunting and disquieting moment. “Safe” is a four-letter word, an expletive, one to be uttered only in company of the “regulars”. Leave the magickless, the “muggles” and the uninspired to the likes of “safe”. Remember, we ARE the magick and we will not hesitate to cast, stir, and conjure, safe or not. Because it is who we are. It is our life, our blood, bones, and being. We will not be quieted. We will not be stopped and we will not be frightened back into a “normal” life. Safe is for the uninspired, the non-magickal, the muggle. Practice your magick with prudence coupled with fearlessness, knowledge mingled with power, and strength joined with daring. Together, we are the Witches, the Wiccans, the Wizards, Sorcerers, and Magicians, the future, the magick and the danger.
We’ve all been there. Standing in the dark, in front of a door and fumbling to find our keys. If we are lucky we find them quickly. However, we still have to somehow place that key into the lock and open the door. Metaphysically, we often do the same, fumbling with the keys to the mysteries. We keep trying to find our key, then somehow the lock we need to open. Often, we become frustrated, disenchanted and give up looking for the keys at all. We step away from the door, unfulfilled, still yearning for more.
Of course, like the notches on the bit of a skeleton key, each of our mysteries is unique, one of a kind. Each coven, tradition or religion has their own group of mysteries. Finding some mysteries may be easy and another may take a lifetime to unlock. Additionally, what may still be unrevealed to you may have been unlocked by another. So what are our personal mysteries? How do we find our keys?
Locating the Keys to the Mysteries
I can’t speak for you, but I can share one of the mysteries I am in the midst of unlocking. Having been practicing my Craft for over 20 years I am still finding new mysteries to explore. Currently, I am looking back in time, working on unlocking the mysteries of the Ancients. I am exploring the work of the first magicians, the shamans and wise women. I search for answers to the mysteries of the primal, the visceral, the primitive magicks that began it all. This is my mystery, the door requiring me to find the key to its wisdom. What is yours?
Once we’ve defined our own mysteries we still have the job of locating its keys. We can’t keep fumbling with the keys to the mysteries forever so we must shed some light on the hunt for our particular key. Some may find their keys with a candle or a flashlight. It took a torch for me to find mine. Knowledge is the torch, the light in the foyer of the mysteries, illuminating our fumbling hands. It is what allows us to find our keys and then the lock which opens the door to the answers we seek.
Knowledge can be found in books, grimoires and even searches on the internet. However, so much of the knowledge we seek is in the experience, the search itself. Witchcraft and magick is experiential, active, physical. We can’t sit in one place and expect the key to miraculously open the door. No, we must get our butts out of the library chair and do something to move towards the door. Meditate, walk in nature, perform ritual and spells. Use whatever arsenal you currently have to shed some light, illuminate the lock, and then move towards that door.
Opening the Door with the Keys
Armed with the knowledge you need, you can stop fumbling the keys to the mysteries and open that door. That’s it. Place the key into the lock and turn. Slowly push the door open, take a deep breath, and step through.
Surprise! Once you step through that door you find that there is not just one room, one corridor, to lead you to the answers you seek. Instead there are many tunnels, many passages and even more doors to unlock. One hallway may shift, move from one doorway to another, midway down its shadowy depths. Losing your key half way down the hall may force you to begin again, only to find new questions need to be explored.
The mysteries are forever changing, shifting and growing. Revelations may be reveal themselves today that make no sense six months from now. The very essence of your mystery may change and your may be back to fumbling with your keys. Please, don’t let yourself be discouraged. Half the fun is in the journey.
Stop fumbling with the keys to the mysteries and get moving on your quest. Find that light, illuminate the lock and open the door. It is through hard work, knowledge and dedication that you will be able to find the answers you seek. Blessings upon your quest.
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