August to December at Wayfaring Woman

In the last third of 2016 I took a bit of a break from writing and significantly reduced¬†my work here at Wandering Woman Wondering and at Wayfaring Woman (my column on the Agora at Patheos). I’ve included links below to the articles that I did not previously link here. Some of them are updates and revisions to work that I previously presented here on Wandering Woman Wondering, and some are new.

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Magical Masking and Dionysos

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/agora/2016/08/wayfaring-woman-magical-masking-and-dionysos/

The Roman God Mercurius – An Introduction and Ritual

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/agora/2016/08/wayfaring-woman-the-roman-god-mercurius-an-introduction-and-ritual/

Gifts From the Heart – An Autumn Spiced Guided Meditation

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/agora/2016/09/wayfaring-woman-gifts-from-the-heart-an-autumn-spiced-guided-meditation/

Guarding and Protecting Your Magical Workings

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/agora/2016/10/wayfaring-woman-guarding-and-protecting-your-magical-workings/

Hekate’s Hounds – Warders Between Worlds

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/agora/2016/10/wayfaring-woman-hekates-hounds-warders-between-worlds/

I hope you find these to be useful stepping stones along your own path, or at least intriguing in some way ūüėÄ

Wayfaring Woman: Honoring Hekate in the Rite of Her Sacred Fires

Hekate Kerberos Herakles

Hekate with Twin Torches, from ancient Greek vase

I have updated my Wayfaring Woman column at The Agora on Patheos.com. Check out my latest post, Honoring Hekate in the Rite of Her Sacred Fires!

Memento Mori

staglieno-664597_1280This Samhain season I am reminded of a night not too long ago when I was afraid of a Dead Girl, the young Victorian I’d seen earlier in the day while doing research. She was pictured in perfect resolution, frozen in time at the point of her passing, eyes fixed in an empty stare. Early photography was never crystal clear because the living moved – a shiver, a sniffle, a sigh – during the long exposure times required for those early photo ops. However, the recently dead who were sometimes featured alongside their living family appeared in perfect resolution. The contrast captured in those old images is surreal and quite stunning. And so it was that I saw the Young Dead Victorian Girl and she seemed to see me. I couldn’t sleep for hours that night. I told myself that I wasn’t afraid, that I was just enjoying a game of 2048 at 3 in the morning for no particular reason, but that was a lie of course. Eventually I set the game aside and laid my head down on the pillow despite my fear, but the Dead Girl lay next to me, ice cold and staring, as if asking me to part the veil between life and death and join her in final rest.

She was young and beautiful, and quite over. Her hollow eyes a testament to the fact that the lights had gone out in her before anyone was able to fully know the soul that lived there. She was not a shade who had come to terrorize me, but she was my own mind’s most recent projection of mortal fear. Her haunting photographic memorial was my memento mori. As I tossed and turned in bed I worked to shatter my own fear of dying without having “really lived”, whatever that means.

With firm intent I confronted the hollow-eyed, pale Dead Girl. I grew larger in the process and,¬†with the building righteous indignation, I became part human and part serpent. I coiled and quaked, allowing my mounting might to affirm my living, breathing being in that moment. To quote a random bit of a Star Trek Voyager episode, “I wrestled my tremors to rages”. I transformed my fearful bedtime thrashing into a courageous banishing of my own terror. Half human, half-serpent, and writhing I shouted, “How dare you emerge to terrorize me? I alone am the thing that roves the inner dark!”

With that admonition the Young Dead Victorian Girl was gone, and immediately I felt Hekate’s embrace. She lifted me into dream and showed me the way to another place, whispering all the while: “Now we can begin.”

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An Ancestor Oil Blend

This evening I finally dressed four vigil candles for my altar. They had been waiting to be prepared for several weeks. I dressed two black candles for the dead of my blood and spirit whose names are unknown to me, and I dressed two white candles for my ancestors whose names and contributions I do know.

For my unknown dead I pierced three holes into each black vigil candle (using a metal kabob skewer) and filled each hole with Shades oil from the Witch of Forest Grove. For my known ancestors I formulated¬†an oil based on¬†both the Florida Water and Kananga Water recipes from Stephanie Rose Bird. I wanted a very fragrant oil¬†so I can’t vouch for its use on skin for any extended period of time; it may contain too much essential oil for that use. When dressing the white vigil candles with the oil it wasn’t really necessary to come into skin contact with the oil; I used a pipette to fill the three channels I pierced into each candle.

So with that said, here’s the ancestor oil recipe:

25 milliliters of carrier oil (I had grape seed oil on hand)

4 drops of Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) essential oil

2 drops of Clove (Syzguium aromaticum) Bud essential oil

4 drops of Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) essential oil

3 drops of Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil

1 grain of Opoponax (Commiphora holtziana) resin

1 Snowflake Obsidian bead (helps to blend the oils together, and it aids spirit communication)

The essentials in the ancestor oil blend are common ingredients in lustral waters (Florida and Kananga) that have a long history as Hoodoo offerings to the dead. Opoponax has links to necromancy in some magical traditions. The snowflake obsidian bead I added in homage to Hekate, in her aspect as Anassa Eneroi (Queen of Those Below aka the dead). After loading them with the oil blend, to complete the white vigil candles I topped each one with finely powdered mullein herb because of its association with the dead and making contact with their realm. I used only a pinch on each candle because mullein will ignite fairly quickly when exposed to flame.

The candles will facilitate connection with my ancestors and make a nice offering for them as well. I have quite a bit of oil left over. I plan to get creative with it in the next few weeks. I have plenty of other ritual items to bless and anoint for my ancestors!

Hailing Hekate at the Crossroads

“Hekat√™ of the Path, I invoke Thee, Lovely Lady of the Triple Crossroads,
Celestial, Chthonian, and Marine One, Lady of the Saffron Robe…
I pray Thee, Maiden, to be present…”

Hekate by Stuart Littlejohn

Hekate by Stuart Littlejohn

On August 25th, the night of the Dark Moon, my thoughts turned to the passing lunar month, to its challenges and mistakes, but also to its resolved struggles and notable successes. I let myself take note of the lunar month’s sweet fruits as well as its bitter fruits. Hekate receives all things that pass away, the good and the bad, and so I prepared to give Hekate her due at the time of the Dark Moon.

For the Nightwandering Queen I gathered offerings. I lit a blessed candle and burned rich incense for the Dread Goddess. I also selected a bottle of Leinenkugel Honey Weiss beer to satisfy her thirst and only the deepest red-black cherries to satisfy her hunger.¬† In addition to food offerings I gathered the month’s scraps from my altar which included remnants of candles, nearly spent candle wicks, ash from burned incense, scraps of tissue used to dust the altar, drops of spilled oil, empty vigil candle glasses from spells worked, and the like.

With beer, cherries, and altar leftovers in hand I journeyed to the three-way crossroads near my home under cover of night. I walked boldly and with words of reverence on my lips for the Terrible One, the Destroyer, the Queen of Those Below, and for the Torchbearer, the Attendant Who Leads, the Mighty One. With each step I felt the growing chill in the air and I sensed the spirits join me in honoring the Queen of Night. Once at the crossroads I disposed of the month’s altar leftovers with words of reverence and thanks, thereby purifying the temple and opening the way for the next lunar month’s blessings. I next prayed over the cherries and placed them on the ground, then poured the honey beer with still more holy words on my tongue. With a final prayer I turned on my heel and walked away from the triple crossroad. As is traditional I did not look back. I continued to honor Hekate with words from my heart on the walk back home. I felt incredibly close to her in that time. It has been nearly a week since the Dark Moon and I am still buzzing from that night’s Work.¬†

Hail the Lady of the Wayside and her howling retinue! Long may she bestow her blessings upon us!!