You came. How fabulous! Did you do something traditional to mark the arrival of the Chinese Lunar New Year, the Rooster? The Rooster is yang. Yang is rooted in the Earth. Yang’s goal is light. So, if you haven’t done anything to celebrate the Year of Rooster’s energy, light a red candle and make a wish. I did. Let’s cross our fingers!
Please excuse any type o’s. To err is human…hear the giggle? With that said, I appreciate your time as I continue to critique my magick and realism story The Enchanted Snare.
For those new to my writing this is an ideal story for Witches, Pagans and those Guardians of Nature. In the name of spiritual development invest in the process one chapter at a time. Connect with the Craft of the Wise roots.
This year follow along as eight maiden’s childhood views transform, and grow to mature into an adult view of the world.
So here we go, over the cow-path, pass the growing fields and through the woods to the Mysticism School for Witches. Explore and discover the witchy way from the beginning to end.
Avril, woke before dawn. Bundled in layers of warm clothing under her winter hooded black cape, fastened with a gold pentacle pointed up, she followed the cow path moving quickly the frosty wind at her back. The route she took was nature at its finest, a wonderful scenic area with wooded hills, forest, valleys, peaceful farm fields and winding country roads. The wind blew across the barren land encased in snow. Scanning the hills and fields, she spotted several wolves running across the snowy landscape before disappearing from her view into the forest. She smiled to herself knowing she was lucky to catch a glimpse of the magnificent animals.
On the pleasant walk isolated in the thick woods, Avril’s heart pounded with anticipation at what was to come. The gloomy grey skies, ice and winter wind and cold had made it impossible to visit the Mysticism School for Witches. She thought to herself, what a great place to grow up. A day spent at the stately building was never a waste of time. It was a residence where neighbors, family, and friends have magickal knowledge to cast spells, predict, and utter incantations. It is a magickal dwelling where she had been taught to tap into the Divine and Cosmic Forces, and apply psychic abilities. Her introduction into the craft was experienced with youthful abandonment. Growing up in the community of wise women taught her the power of rhythmical spells for desire, incantations to achieve goals and to read the signs in nature and the tarot cards to predict. To promote growth, she learned to push her mind past time and space to connect with spirit, to accept the past, live today and dream for tomorrow. She had become super sensitive to both the seen and the unseen world while harming none, oppressing none and ever seeking balance, harmony and achievement.
The forty-three days away from her mentors, family and sister-friends during winter break had weighed heavily within. Forced by the winter elements to stay indoors, she looked forward to seeing everyone again today at the Imbolc celebrations. The great Celtic Sabbat to cast off the winter darkness, and have faith the sun’s light will grow in strength. The Sun is waxing and daylight is growing longer. Rites would be done to banish what is no longer needed and encourage new inspiration. It was a time to cleanse, purify and be open to new possibilities, mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically.
Avril continued to travel as the crow flies. Far down on the right, there was large circle of stones surrounding the burial-place of the dust of the coven’s ancestors. Amidst the graves, stones were erected to indicate the resting places. Center, a tall Celtic cross commemorates their culture. “Bless the souls who have gone before me,” she whispered, walking past the commentary.
Avril was close enough for a good view of the stately building. The main frontage faces south-east. The main part, which is on the left consists of three stories.
The Mysticism School for Witches is a homey place inside with a very large farm style kitchen, ample dining area, and the unusually spacious living area and den. The floorboards were made from hardwood with old-fashioned twelve foot ceilings and fireplaces to keep home and witches warm from the severe cold in almost every room. At the back of the mansion were situated the cozy bed chambers. The second-floor rooms were the learning areas for witchlings aged five to eleven. The attic, on the third floor, for witches aged twelve to eighteen.
In the distance, she could see the light from the flickering candle flames on the windowsills. Anxious to put the cold winter behind, she rushed to join with family and friends who had arrived for the weather forecasting ceremony.
Three large bonfires burned bright. The flames rose straight up in an uneven flow. Witches of all ages had arrived to celebrate the Fire Festival. Avril stepped on to the property. The moment she saw her best sister-friend, Hailey, dressed in a midnight blue winter hooded cloak standing by a large, twisted stump her heart skipped a beat in joy. Seconds later, she bounded through the snow with the greatest of ease to greet her. “Merry Meet Hailey,” she called out moving toward her.
“Merry Meet my friend, she said as they stretched their arms round each other’s upper body and pulled one another closer in a tender embrace. As they hugged, Avril thought of the times, since age five, when they came together, stood firm empowered by love and respect, only to separate to experience others, to join again to share. Their relationship was built on trust by compromising and communicating. Avril was proud of their strong commitment to honor, love and cherished their attachment. Their faith is one of inclusiveness and peace.
Hailey’s golden brown hair flew against the wind. Her deep green eyes dazzled. She gave Avril a blinding smile. “I’m so happy we are together again,” she said, her voice full of excitement.
“I missed you too,” she answered, wiggling for freedom. “It’s nice to be back.”
“Are you hungry? Did you want to grab some scrambled eggs?”
Avril glanced toward the crowd enjoying breakfast in the eating area and said, “Let’s.”
Hailey reached out and took her hand. As they wandered about the crowd Avril scanned the grounds. Candles of every shape and color burned bright in a wind-protected candle holders. Conversation filled with joy and laughter could be heard as families and friends gathered together. The two moved through females, young, mature and old, who ate and drank the feast of milk products offered.
Hailey pointed to an Elder woman dressed in a black, long skirt, cape with the hood up and her witchling apprentice wearing ceremonial garb and gold pentacle with the point pointed up. Avril glanced over to see the two traveling to each of the younger coven members. The apprentice looked frantic as she tried to keep up and hold a large scroll steady for the Elder to view. The two quickened their steps toward Hailey and Avril.
“Merry We Meet young maidens, will you be attending Saturday sessions when The Mysticism School for Witches resumes?” The Elder quickly asked.
“Yes,” enthusiastically, they answered
The witchling apprentice checked off their names from the list on the scroll.
“On February six report to the attic, to Priestess Angelica. And Avril don’t be tardy,” she said, her eyes on her.
The Elder wished them a good day. She simply gestured to her young apprentice, and then scurried away into the crowd.
“I’m happy that the New Year will be spent together advancing our craft,” Hailey beamed.
Avril smiled with approval and said, “Me too!”
The wind howled as they walked past a bonfire. The timber loudly crackled as it was devoured by the red-hot flames. To get release the past and look to the future, last year’s Yule decorations were being burned.
“Oh, there you are Avril! Come here, the High Priestess Ceasera is about to perform the annual weather forecasting ritual,” her Grandmother dressed in a full length black winter cloak said, her eyes on her.
Avril rushed to her grandmother’s side. Hailey followed close behind.
Hailey’s grandmother brought her hand to her mouth and coughed twice.
Avril’s Grandmother turned toward her, looking concerned. “How are you coping with your scratchy throat?”
“It’s nothing, but a little tickle,” she answered.
Avril shifted her boots in the snow, listening to the conversation between her grandmother and Hailey’s with her eyes on the brown candle’s wicks beautiful golden light that streamed outward from each window in the stately mansion.
“It warmed my heart to witness so many of the Elders after sunset join to light every lamp and candle within the dwelling in honor of the Sun’s re-birth,” Avril’s grandmother said staring at the flickering flames through the small plates of glass.
“It was nearly dawn by the time the brown colored candle was carried through each room to banish darkness and encourage the light - to attract the good and to keep the negative at bay,” Hailey’s grandmother said. She automatically, shifted her weight, maneuvering her walking stick.
“I’m pleased the candles that were left to burn in the windows to ensure the coven members a safe return are still burning,” Avril’s grandmother said, adjusting the wool scarf around her neck. She focused on the sea of black moving about here and there. “What a wonderful turnout for the annual weather forecasting ritual. The groundhog shadow seeking ceremony gives a glimmer of hope for an early spring.”
“According to an ancient British weather superstition, it is the hedgehog that emerges at Imbolc to foretell if winter is nearing an end,” Hailey’s grandmother remarked. “When it emerges from its burrow in mid-winter and sees its shadow because the sun is shining, it will go back in and the winter will be prolonged by another six weeks. If the weather is bad, it will remain outside, but if it is fine, the groundhog will reach the optimistic conclusion that winter cannot last and it will return to its burrow.”
“The groundhog forecasts over many generations have had a ninety percent accuracy rate,” Avril’s grandmother reminded her.
“The whole event is an excuse to see family and friends and celebrate that winter is half over,” Hailey’s grandmother chuckled.
The wind rose. The bare branches creaked. Avril shivered. She closed her eyes and took a moment in silence to absorb the heat from the bonfires.
When she opened her eyes, she saw the coven had begun to position themselves around the three bonfires in a perfect circle. Females were squeezed tightly together, close enough to see, while row upon row stood impacted behind them. Everyone faced inward toward the High Priestess Ceaserea in a floor length black over-cape with the hood pulled loosely about her creased face, standing center to say farewell to the final days and nights of the cold, icy winter.Everyone went silent. Instinctively, Avril’s attention was drawn to the High Priestess. Although there was silver in her long hair and her skin wrinkled, she radiated mystical power. She stood before a wooden altar draped in a clean white cloth. White petals had been sprinkled on the surface. Avril caught the scent of rosemary incense, to remind the witches of their purpose and spiritual journey, to cleanse the aura and attract confidence and clarity. Snow melted in a large gold chalice. To the left a white candle dedicated to the Goddess and to the right, a matching size red candle to symbolize God, with the wicks lit. The candle’s flame reflected from the blade of a anthame and gold pentacle. A large orange candle stood center for creativity and excellent imagination and relates to emotions in relationships. Avril was sure the candle would be anointed with rosemary oil. The wick of the large orange candle on the altar burned straight upward with a blue flame, indicating there were Spirits present. Evergreen and willow boughs, the traditional plants of Imbolc, rested at the base. The corn-broom which had been used last eve to sweep the negativity from each room, then outdoors, rested at the side of the altar.
Ceaserea slowly raised her head. She put her hands in front of her palms facing the pre-dawn sky. Her eyes swept her audience. Her voice trumpeted through the air. “The Wheel of the Year slowly turns and brings in change. We gather today, to open our minds, souls, hearts and bodies to the changing season; to connect with energy of the waxing solar year. Daylight hours are gradually lengthening. Earth is now touched by the growing warm, light from the Sun. There is hope that the seeds within Mother Earth will give way to birth and life becomes brighter under the sun’s light, until fully mature at Beltane in May. Guardians of Nature please cross the border. Our rite is being performed on the appropriate threshold, upon Imbolc itself, February second. Please, keep us true, strong and free. Nature is designed to delight the senses. Nature is intended to connect with the senses. The magick is never ending. Hear Our call of our faith to peace and justice. Goddess and God, Divine Power, keep us safe from harm. As the light grows and matures, transform the dark energy for the betterment of everyone. We call Lady Glamis. We ask Lady Glamis to appear. May we link with nature’s energy to give a glimmer of hope of an early spring.”
Ceaserea walked to the front of the altar and sat down and relaxed on a cushion on a wooden outdoor chair. The coven standing shoulder to shoulder waited for a groundhog to pop out of its burrow and predict winter was nearing an end.
Avril looked at the burrow.
Silence, not a creature was stirring.
She looked again.
“Lady Glamis has to be somewhere under the frozen ground,” Avril said, trying to curb her impatience from beside Hailey.
“She is probably having an extra-long sleep, that’s all,” Hailey said, casting her a glance.
Avril’s eyes snapped to the burrow for the third time. A rush of bliss flooded her entire being. As one, the conveners turned to look toward the tiny, wet, black nose twitching the invigorating air.
A few minutes after the sun rose in the eastern sky the morning birds broke out in song. Just then, a pitch-black, plump groundhog managed to squirm out of the burrow, stretched wide her tiny, furry black paws, and then observe her own shadow on the snow. Turning, Lady Glamis rubbed against the High Priestess’s robe. Ceaserea bent down, reached out and stroked the groundhog’s silky soft back, and said, “Bless this time, and this place and who we are with you.”
Lady Glamis, after a smile and a wink turned lively and quick and headed for her burrow, and then dashed down the hole.
The High Priestess eyes slowly lifted. She shook with slight movement standing up very straight and announced, “Lady Glamis furry forecaster predicts six more weeks of winter.”
Cheers greeted the prediction. The frozen earth pulsated as the conveners adjourned to take part in the traditions of Imbolc. Avril looked around at her extended family that had great importance in her life smiling to herself. She lived with the security of knowledge that she belonged. She could reach out at any time and receive compassion and understanding. She lived with the experience of a supportive community. Their experiences together are not without traumas or drama, but each made life easier, not just because they lessened the burdens, but each one taught her the power of faith, inclusiveness and peace.