Your tears are sacred

Your tears are sacred

Beloved Lady of Holy An
look at your tormenting emotions
All the time weeping



I didn’t know it yet, but the first time I met Inanna, I was standing at the threshold of one of the darkest times of my life.

It was during the fall equinox, on the precarious cusp of the dark half of the year. I watched her courtship with Dumuzi played out in ritual. I followed her descent to the underworld. Saw her stripped of her regalia piece by piece. Witnessed her encounter with her dark sister Ereshkigal. Stared in disbelief as she fell lifeless at her shadow-self’s feet. Mourned over her corpse, a rotting slab of meat on a hook.

I didn’t understand yet what it all meant.

Myths and legends of Babylonia & Assyria, PD-US

Later, by the bonfire, Inanna sat beside me and offered to let me try on her sandals. I admired those sandals. I wrapped the beautiful leather straps around my ankles and felt like a goddess.

I didn’t realize at the time what was really happening.

Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth. Inanna, Child of the Moon God. Inanna, this distant Sumerian goddess I’d never heard of.

Inanna asked me to me walk in her shoes.

So I did.

Little did I know the torrent I was unleashing. Little did I know how long the journey through the underworld could last.

Inanna left an impression on me, yet I resisted her for a long time. She felt weighty, demanding. She felt complicated. But she remained in my thoughts, and one day I mentioned her in passing to a friend of mine. She went directly to her bookshelf and pulled down a volume for me.

Inanna: Lady of Largest Heart. An analysis of poems written to Inanna by the Sumerian high priestess Enheduanna, the earliest known poet in world history. One of the earliest women known to history. And humankind’s first example of an individual showing consciousness of her own inner life.

Read More Read More

The soul

The soul

The soul, like the moon,
Is new, and always new again.

And I have seen the ocean
continuously creating.

Since I scoured my mind
and my body, I too, Lalla,
am new, each moment new.

My teacher told me one thing,
Live in the soul.

When that was so,
I began to go naked,
and dance.

—Lal Ded


Featured image via Wikimedia Commons, PD-US

Piercing the veil

Piercing the veil

To find ‘the place where the sky and the earth touch,’ and open the mysterious gateway which separates this world from the other.

—Camille Flammarion


What is reality?

Science has proven the manifest world to be as illusory as ancient spiritual wisdom proclaimed it. What we perceive as solid matter is really vibrating energy. The act of observing something physically alters it on a subatomic level. Our bodies emit signals that escape our notice yet have a discernible effect on the world around us.

Primitive ways of understanding the world, dismissed since the Enlightenment, are now being rediscovered by science.

Magicians, alchemists, scientists and poets alike all seek to penetrate the mysteries that dance just beyond our field of vision. We yearn to draw back the curtain of illusion and glimpse the inner workings of the universe. The paths we walk, the methods we employ, and the worldviews we hold may drastically differ, but our aims stem from the same innate drive to explore and discover. Some of us direct our attention outward, dissecting the mechanical workings of the world. Some are drawn inward to explore the hidden mysteries within.

He would live on those exalted heights, where the seer now dwells. He longs to be above the plane of sorrow and trial and human misery.

—Louis Plante

I believe all paths lead to the same place, eventually.

The Ancient Egyptian mysteries tell us that “no mortal shall pierce the Veil of Isis.” Her mysteries lie far beyond our puny ability to comprehend. Yet we all have the seed of desire within us to try—a spark drawn like a moth back to the flame of its source. So we seek.

Read More Read More

Chanting for power, chanting for wholeness

Chanting for power, chanting for wholeness

In the beginning was the Word
and the Word was with God
and the Word was God.

—John 1:1


Witches know the power of words. Words are carried on the breath, and the breath is the gift life. Words express thoughts, which form the blueprint of the manifest world. Words can change our perception of realityand they can change reality itself.

Chanting combines words with rhythm to induce a trance state, allowing us to change our consciousness at will. It’s a vital part of the Eightfold Path, which comprises a witch’s fundamental magical toolkit. On a more mundane level, chanting has been found to “oxygenate the brain, reduce heart rate, improve blood pressure, and calm brainwave activity. It can even cause the left and right hemispheres of the brain to synchronize,” says writer Alexa Erickson.

Whenever I feel touched by the sublime or experience a wave of unexpected awe, chanting helps me lean into the moment. It lights a spark in the mundane. It bolsters me in moments of darkness. It reminds me of who I am, what I am, what I believe. I’m never far from sacred space.

Chanting reminds me to use my voice.

Read More Read More

The moment of ruin

The moment of ruin

your frown blackens the light of noon
your heart picks the moment of ruin
the place you name trembles
what is yours
cannot be crushed

—Enheduanna, High Priestess of Inanna

A box full of darkness

A box full of darkness

Someone I loved
once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years
to understand
that this, too,
was a gift.

—Mary Oliver


Darkness has finally fallen.

I seek refuge in a cigarette in the cool quiet of night. Tendrils of smoke circle my head. Sorrow crusts my lashes. The lulling cricket song can’t calm my churning thoughts.

Me leaving him. Him leaving me. My heart is shattered.

I look to the Star Goddess for comfort, but a veil of wildfire smoke hides her domain, shrouding the sky in an impassive curtain of lavender-gray. Against this backdrop a full moon hangs, bright orange and swollen—a reminder of the coming harvest, and how far away I’ll be by then.

Her face grins down at me like a jack-o-lantern, like I’m the butt of some cosmic joke. Her edge is sharp tonight; I’m still bleeding. Can it cut these thick soul-ties for good? They keep growing back when I’m not looking. I need help letting go.

Astrologers tell me this Pisces moon invites me to dream and heal. They say post-ecliptic changes are brewing. They say the messenger will bring new understanding to the swirl of confusion that has been my life these past weeks. They say I’m not the same anymore, and I hope it’s true. Because I’ve been insane for months, doing the same thing over and over hoping for different results. I don’t want to be insane anymore.

I never understood how two people could love each other this much and not make it work. I guess that’s a lesson I needed to learn. Just because someone loves you doesn’t mean they’re willing to do the work. Sometimes the best you can hope for is someone who knows your song. The song that reminds you who you are instead of bulldozing your truth. The song that lulls your demons to sleep instead of whipping them into a frenzy.

He doesn’t know my song. He doesn’t want to learn.

Read More Read More

Fire, flood, and the union of opposites

Fire, flood, and the union of opposites

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.

Robert Frost


The Pacific Northwest is burning.

A record-breaking heat wave has left our verdant region a dried-out husk, its forests full of ready tinder. Sparks of errant lightning have set hundreds of thousands of acres ablaze, turning huge swaths of old-growth trees into a charred blight on the landscape.

A smoky pall has settled over my hometown, choking the air with acrid heat. The once-brilliant sun has lost its halo; swollen and lethargic, it hangs like a bloodshot eye in the afternoon sky.

Amidst the inferno, we receive news of flooding in Texas. A hurricane has dumped trillions of gallons of rain on the southwest, submerging many areas in several feet of water.

Two regions, each corresponding to opposing elements. One cool and wet. The other hot and dry. Each grappling with the destructive power of its elemental nemesis.

In psychological terms, fire represents the light of consciousness, while water symbolizes the darkness of the unconscious—two halves of the human psyche. In Celtic myth, they’re the two children of the goddess Arianrhod: Llew the sun god, and Dylan of the sea. Here in the physical world, the twin brothers have invaded each other’s realms.

Read More Read More

Birthing polarity: When one becomes two

Birthing polarity: When one becomes two

Light is meaningful only in relation to darkness.

—Louis Aragon


The goddess Ceridwen has two children. One bears the face of the most beautiful maiden in the world. The other, misshapen, becomes known for his unparalleled hideousness.

The goddess Arianrhod steps over a magic wand and gives birth to twins. One emerges from her womb perfectly formed and takes to the sea, spending his life beneath the waves. The other, a mere blob, is nearly overlooked but eventually grows up to claim his birthright as a sun god.

Light and dark. Life and death. Order and chaos. Love and fear. Self and other.

As humans, we inhabit a world divided in two. Two genders. Two hemispheres in our brains. Two divine forces—good and evil—that clash endlessly with each other. The very atoms from which we’re made are composed of both positive and negative particles.

According to Hermetic wisdom, “all manifested things have two sides, two aspects, two poles.” This dual nature is reflected in mythologies the world over, which are peppered with examples of twin deities existing as pairs of opposites. In Zoroastrian mythology, the twins Ahriman and Ahura Mazda represent the spirits of evil and good. An Egyptian creation myth pairs the earth god Geb and the sky goddess Nut together as twins.

In Y Mabinogi we find two powerful creator-goddesses, Ceridwen and Arianrhod, who give birth to children with opposing characteristics, each pair representing one of the most basic and fundamental dichotomies: dark and light. In both cases, the duality of their offspring receives only a brief mention within a much larger tale, yet these few lines speak volumes about the nature of human consciousness—and how we can develop its potential.

Read More Read More

From plucked flower to living goddess

From plucked flower to living goddess

So they took the blossoms of the oak, and the blossoms of the broom, and the blossoms of the meadow-sweet, and produced from them a maiden, the fairest and most graceful that man ever saw.

—The Mabinogi


I never cared much for flowers.

They’re too showy. Too perfumy. Too easily bruised.

I prefer the solidity of a tree trunk planted in the earth, or the no-nonsense prickliness of a pine branch. I savor the aroma of fresh sage or mint or lemongrass—not the latest blooms. Where other women might gather bouquets of wildflowers, I come home with my pockets full of rocks.

So when I first read the Fourth Branch of Y Mabinogi, a collection of Welsh tales, I wasn’t much interested in the pretty little maiden named Flower Face, fashioned out of blossoms and magicked to life to serve as the compliant bride of a would-be king.

I had eyes only for Arianrhod. The remote brilliance of the potent Star Goddess who reels at the heart of all creation beckoned me like a flare in the night. Her labyrinthine fortress held me captive as I sought to untangle the threads of her enigmatic nature. Blodeuwedd, her flower-faced daughter-in-law, was to me just a footnote in Arianrhod’s tale of enchantment.

But that was just because I hadn’t met her yet.

Read More Read More

A bonfire to keep winter at bay

A bonfire to keep winter at bay

Before it burns out
It will have roared first and mixed sparks with stars,
And sweeping round it with a flaming sword,
Made the dim trees stand back in wider circle

—Robert Frost


There’s something about mid-January that makes me want to dance around a bonfire.

The chill in the air—so delightfully nippy just a few months ago—has grown vampire teeth that leach the life right out of me. Corpses of fallen trees, splintered beneath the weight of the last ice storm, litter the roads. Death is everywhere.

Game of Thrones winter
Game of Thrones via Wikia

We’ve crossed the solstice threshold, and daylight is expanding its reach again. But it’s as if the energy required to reverse its decline has sapped the sun of all its power. It shines weakly, if at all.

Dancing ’round the bonfire is an act of sympathetic magic. The sun might waver, but by lighting a bonfire we capture a tiny piece of it and feed it fuel to make it grow. As we circumambulate, we also feed it energy from our bodies as if blowing on newly sparked tinder to start a blaze. Would the sun continue to wax toward summer if we didn’t? Of course. Probably. Maybe. There’s no proof either way. But sending power to the sun also fans the flames within. That’s where the real magic happens.

Read More Read More