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Amid the Storms Before Walpurgisnacht: A Benediction

The rumble of Thunder is the beating wings of a golden eagle; lightning is his radiating shriek. He storms through the sky, frightening away the spirits of cold and want and disease that cling stubbornly with frozen fingers, washing the land to make way for the witches of the valleys and mountains. Five nights from…

Becoming Animal: Tutelary Animal Spirits

Shortly after we bought our first house seven years ago, I stepped outside into the backyard. The light was bright gold; the air was crisp but not cold. When I turned around toward the house, I saw that slugs had crawled across the screens of the back porch in the night, leaving behind their delicate,…

On Inspiration and Spirit Possession

It arrived without warning — a pressure, a dense shadow seeping into my head and my chest. Inspiration, thick and relentless. I tugged at the thread glimmering in the darkness, unraveled the spool. Words came, strand by strand.  I could think of nothing else, only the prose-poem woven in the darkness. I repeated the words…

31 Days of Ancestors: An Ancestor Work Project

I posted this on my Tumblr a few years ago, in a slightly different form, but I think it’s worth sharing here as well. It reflects my own process, albeit in a more organized approach, to digging into ancestor work. This method is specific and immersive, which allows for stronger connections that are crucial to…

Witches Incognito: The Goose Girl (and Her Mother, and the Chambermaid)

(Note: I recommend first reading the story here if you haven’t before. It makes this post easier to follow.) Some stories resonate with a specific kind of magical practice.  For “The Goose Girl,” it’s protective magic. In a culture where magic and witchcraft is often sanitized, limited to candle lighting, meditation, and personal affirmations (all…

Old Frick, the Devil’s Grandmother: Goddesses in Folk Tales and Lore

Old Frick is a complex, mysterious figure in Brandenburgian lore, sometimes fearsome, other times helpful. Alternately referred to as Frau Fricke, she is one of a number of feminine spirits given the respectful title Frau (meaning “lady”) across Germany (Hammer 62). I first came upon Frick while researching the Norse goddess Frigg. Wikipedia cites “Fricke” as the Low German…

Witches Incognito: The Spindle, the Shuttle, and the Needle

  “Once upon a time there was a girl whose father and mother died when she was still a little child. Her godmother lived all alone at the end of the village in a little house, and earned her living with spinning, weaving, and sewing.” So begins the Grimm Brothers’ tale “The Spindle, the Shuttle,…

Witches Incognito: Aschenputtel

One thing I’ve begun to notice as I look more closely at fairy tales is that there are many more “witches” in them than previously believed, and that many of the beloved characters that are portrayed as helpless damsels in distress actually employ quite a bit of agency. Quick note: I put the word “witches”…

Mirror, Mirror: Glass as a Magical Tool in Fairy Tales

Thus, her mirror represents the ability to see through the ‘veil’ that mystics say separates the visible and spirit worlds. – Skye Alexander, Mermaids (200). When I spirit journey, more times than not I enter the Otherworld through glass of some sort — a mirror or a window — a technique that has a long history in…

To Ride Through the Air on a Very Fine Gandr: The Staff as a Magical Tool in Fairy Tales

I’ve been reading Claude Lecouteux’s Witches, Werewolves and Fairies: Shapeshifters and Astral Doubles in the Middle Ages, which I was lucky enough to find at my local library. It’s a fantastic examination of the Double (also variously called the fylgja, familiar, fetch, etc., depending on where you’re looking) and the role it played in medieval and…