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!
Soul Searching at Winter Solstice Time, my new post on The Agora at Patheos, is available! Give it a look-see :D.
Many moons ago I met Odin among the stars. We sat at a large campfire set upon a great comet sailing through space near Earth. Sitting to Odin’s left, I stared into the fire then into his eye and confessed. At that time I felt lost but I was ready to find my way again. He smiled the most warm and still somehow wild smile, then he drew me close. I leaned into his warmth and chuckled with tears in my eyes. He whispered to me of the importance of storytelling and learning from the past in order to improve the future. The Earth turned, the comet sailed on, the stars pulsed around us, and the sun seemed to shine a little brighter at the edges of my awareness.
What I describe above, a bit of mystical experience from my recent history, was inspired by contemporary cinema, in this case the scene in Cloud Atlas at the end where Tom Hanks’ character is teaching the children history around the fire. Contemporary books and also movies are stories, modern tales told for the same reasons our ancestors told stories around their communal fires. The tales told in modern movies and books are contemporary sagas, present day chronicles of consciousness, being, community, and identity. And Odin and the other gods speak through them as easily as they speak through ancient myths. The mystical moments seeded and inspired by modern stories are no less valid than those that emerge from our readings of the Eddas and Sagas or other such ancient sources.
Odin used Cloud Atlas imagery to speak to me as that was the most clear and present symbol system rolling through my brain at the time.
For me, it was more than a scene with Tom Hanks and some cute kids among the stars. In my version, the children were me and Tom Hanks was Odin. At the time when I met Odin on that comet I needed to begin the process of re-membering myself. We humans do that through story. In the company of the stars I could see the constellations of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that were a part of me. I could interact with the vast array of experiences that were chapters in my story. With Odin’s help I began a journey through self and through the Worlds. The new narrative of my self is being written everyday in thought, in deed, and in story. I have committed to telling my own story, to weaving my own tale, drawing the lines that give form and function to the constellations in the sky of my experience.
Odin and I still meet on that comet. Each time we do, I sit at the fire there and tell my story. And he tells me how the Worlds began. Together we re-member the past, mark the present, and weave the future.
We have all known difficult people. Whether they are manipulative, disrespectful of boundaries, toxic or whatever the case may be, our lives improve when we sever our connection with them. Disconnecting is a nuanced and multifaceted process. Personal boundaries have to be established and enforced, and then begins the work of removing the remaining tendrils of the connection. Metaphysical links have to be sussed out and severed as well.
For me, dandelions (also called Witch’s Gowan) make a wonderful metaphor for difficult people. Like the dandelion, difficult people are resistant to being uprooted once they have found good soil (i.e. you). Also, difficult people usually establish deep roots, insinuating themselves into multiple facets of your mind, heart, and spirit, and your body too if they are a lover. When people learn their lesson and cut ties with difficult folks, the situation improves for the better. But difficult folks often remain unchanged by their experience with the people they use. The psychological and metaphysical mechanisms that make the person difficult or toxic remain un-neutralized. Are there sorceries and magics that can catalyze that transformation process for difficult people? Of course, as sure as Hekate is Queen of Witches and Dark Lady of the Crossroads. But that growth process is the difficult person’s cross to bear. They are responsible for their own growth and change, and they are naturally reluctant to be self-reflexive and take on that agonizing process. Consequently, when we move on, difficult people, like dandelions, typically find someone else’s soil to take root in and use.
Dandelions are often irritating weeds in any intentional and crafted garden but they inevitably spring up. With that said, don’t fret too much. Dandelions can be consumed for their nutrients. Muahaha! Difficult people can be grist for the mill of personal growth, at least they can be for resilient folk who are trying to reach their full potential and be better today than they were the day before. That said, there is no need to keep a garden full of difficult people in your life; that’s not my point. But when you inevitably cross paths with them, make their seeds, leaves, roots, and the like into take-away messages and lessons that you can use to add to your own Soul Caliber (“This victory strengthens the soul of…And yes, that is a video game reference.) and to squash similar challenges in the future. This is a part of accepting what life has to teach you and moving on.
When healing from contact with a difficult person, be sure to engage in as much self-care as you can. A key part of self-care is putting distance between you and the problematic person and then giving your personal boundaries a good once over. Are they non-existent? Are there just gaps? Begin closing those us. This is your garden, your sacred enclosure. [Gerda has taught me a lot about the magic and mystery of the sacred enclosure. More on that in a later post.] You decide what’s in, how in it is, why, and for what larger purpose. And you decide what’s out, how out it is, why, and for what larger purpose. Dandelions will enter the sacred enclosure; that’s the reality, but only you decide if they are allowed to stay. And only you decide what personal growth you will extract from those encounters.
If you decide that the dandelions in your garden have to go, be sure to carefully lay the groundwork for disconnecting from them. Remember that their roots run deep. So, do the work you have to do on yourself, then harvest several dandelions for a delicious salad, and when it feels right, seal the Disconnect Deal. Maybe the simple little charm below can help with that. This spell charm can either begin your work of disconnecting from the difficult people in your life or it can mark the successful end of that work. It can also serve as an in-between charm to help push you forward. But no matter where it falls in your work, it does not in and of itself constitute the whole of it. It’s not enough to wish a person away from you. You then have to close the door, hold the boundary line…and call in reinforcements (or the cops) if necessary.
Witch’s Gowan: A Charm of Release
Obtain a dandelion that has a full crown of seeds and dig up as much of the roots as you can. Ideally the dandelion would come from your own property or from the property of the difficult person in question. Mindfully carry the plant to some distant place, perhaps to a crossroads or to a railroad track or even a park or natural water source. Wherever you go, it should not be too near your home. Let your walk to the place be a meditation on the troubles you’ve had with this person, the lessons you’ve learned, and your will to walk a new path that does not include this person.
Once you’ve found your spot, hold the plant away from your body. Speak the following or something similar:
Annoying little weed seed,
Up, up and away!
Let the winds of change carry you
far from this place.
Enrich the soil of well and wishful hearts.
But my garden has had enough of you,
And your tangled roots too.
Repeat this charm or something similar as many times as you feel you need to. Then, with the full strength of your will, throw the plant (hard and high) away from you. Walk away without looking back. When you return home, wash your hands at the very least or take a cleansing bath.
It is done.
Any witch worth her salt knows how to navigate the inner dark, how to take on the beasts within and emerge victorious. These periods of self-exploration, shadow work, and becoming are cornerstones of psychotransformation. Greater personal power, strength of will, attunement, and sharper intuition are the desired outcomes of inner work well-done, but like most endeavors it has challenges. One of the most common challenges of psychotransformative work is the level of vulnerability required.
Psychotransformation requires exposing one’s underbelly, first and foremost to one’s self. As we embrace vulnerability for the purpose of knowing ourselves more fully – the good and the bad, uncovering hidden skills and points for improvement, and attuning to the divine within and without, we also become more vulnerable energetically! Journeying into the deep can attract astral entities and humans (e.g. psychic vampires) that wish to feed on the tremendous amounts of energy that we move and shape during our time of growth and rebirth. During these energetically vulnerable periods of becoming we must ward ourselves well to ensure that we are not drained of precious energy or otherwise used, whether by wayward astral entities or unscrupulous human others.
And so it was within this context that I received a message from St. Michael the Archangel on a recent Moon-day night at the edge of dreamtime. He recommended that I recite his prayer and wash the nape of my neck – one of the most spiritually sensitive and vulnerable areas of the human energy body – with a dandelion tincture twice per day for a total of 18 days in order to cleanse and protect myself. I later learned that In Christian plant lore dandelion is a symbol of Christ’s Passion – a period of suffering, self-doubt, and temptation endured by Christ courtesy of Satan the Adversary. The Passion of Christ was a necessary period of inner and outer struggle, and one intimately tied up with Christ’s ultimate fulfillment of his destiny.
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.