Samhain Meditation 1: Crow’s Arch

Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Feel the firmness of the chair that you are in. Feel it hold your body. Breathe deep again, and let your body relax. Let your mind drift, floating in the darkness.

You begin to see stars form in the darkness, small pinpricks of light that seem to be moving way from you, as if you were watching the sky on fast forward. Soon, the moon rises, and you see that you are sitting on a rock in the middle of the crossroads in the midst of a vast plain.

When you stand up from the rock, a bird swoops down and lands in front of you. It is Crow, who says,

“I have come to guide you. Follow me!”

He cocks his head to look at you, and then flies off. You follow.

After following Crow for awhile, you see two orange specks of light in the darkness. As you come closer, you realize that they are two torches on either side of a large arch. The arch looks empty, but when you stand in front of it, you can hear voices from the other side as if they are coming from a closed room. You ask Crow about the arch, and he tells you, as he lands on top of it, that it is the Gateway of the Dead.

He tells you: “I will fetch one of your Ancestors for you, but there must be payment! What shiny thing will you give me?”

You look around, but you are dressed plainly and you have nothing on you to give to the Crow. The Crow begins to caw, which sounds a lot like laughter.

“I do not want jewels, silly human! I want the one thing about yourself that you want to give up. It will be as tasty as carrion!” He flies down from his perch on the arch to land in front of you, dancing a little in anticipation.

You look inside yourself for a part of yourself that you wish to give up: a bad habit, self-doubt, fear about a certain thing, something that’s blocking your creativity, PTSD, or any other thing you feel you can give up. You remember to be specific about what it is so that you don’t damage what’s left of you. You hold out your hands and imagine it as a physical presence. When you finish manifesting it, you offer it to Crow, who takes it and gobbles it up with a satisfying “caw!”

“Wait here!” the Crow says, and he flies through the arch. As you wait for his return, you notice that there are stones close to the circle of light that are just right for sitting on. Eventually you see a vaguely human shape emerging from the arch. It starts to walk towards you, and as it does, it solidifies into one of your Beloved Dead. The Crow follows after they manifest and resumes his perch on top of the arch.

You invite this person to sit with you on the stones and you begin to talk.

(…)

After you two talk for awhile, Crow comes down off the arch to where you two are sitting and says to your Beloved Dead, “It is time.” You ask them for any last messages, hug them, and they follow Crow back to the arch. Crow perches on their shoulder as they walk back through the arch. Once they are fully through, you start walking back to the crossroads.

As you reach the crossroads, you hear the beat of wings, and Crow lands on the rock. He says, “I have one last message for you…” and he gives it to you. (…) You thank him, and he flies away with a caw.

You sit on the rock again, take a deep breath, and return to floating in the darkness. And when you are ready, you return to the present, to this room and open your eyes.

2nd Week of Lent: Pantheacon and What I’m Doing This For

I’ve tried to start this a couple of times because, well, Pantheacon is always hard to sum up in the week after and 2016 is no exception. In short, it was a really good convention all the way around. Time seemed to warp around the con and this week it’s been really difficult to get back into “normal” time. I know next week things will settle down, especially after I catch up on my sleep debt.

The big things:

  • My coven is super awesome, and I’m excited we’ll be adding more awesome people to our little family of weirdos.
  • “Crossroads of Memory” kicked some serious ass, and CAYA Coven was awesome! Hopefully we’ll be able to collaborate again! (Dobby is a free elf!)
  • Many excellent conversations were had in the suite and I was really happy that the Body Policing/Body Shame panel on Saturday became a really deep discussion. The gender discussion on Sunday was also awesome, and moved from gender issues to a deep discussion about gender, race, and intersectionality.
  • My workshop on radical inclusion went really well, although we ended up going overtime a little. The best part was seeing light bulbs go off in people’s minds about what radical inclusion is. That is the awesomest thing about teaching, I think.
  • We had a beautiful 2nd Degree ritual on Thursday night, and it seems it be becoming a tradition to initiate someone at con.
  • Great dinners and chats with new friends, old friends, and seeing folks I haven’t seen in a long time.
  • Much priesting of one form or another.
  • Helping out some folks when they experienced some not so nice things at con and being a safe place for people to just be.
  • Learning not to apologize for doing self care.

One thing that was difficult for me was trying to do my meditations during the con, especially since, except for Thursday, we stayed up until well past 1 AM. Hecate said not to worry about it since I was doing a lot of priesting anyway and I was following other aspects of my agreements (She had me wearing all black for the con, taking care of the north altar, and I was doing daily meditation times publicly).

I was still worrying about it when we got home, and one of the things I remembered was Sarah telling me not to apologize for doing self-care. In my meditations this week Hecate has been telling me that the point of what I’m doing is not necessarily about what I actually do in my meditations, but learning the discipline of daily practice. I’m doing this to get closer to my deities, but I’m also doing it to create the foundation for doing the other work I want and need to do. The meditation is really helping me a lot, especially in the anxiety department (although cutting out caffeine hasn’t hurt, either!), and I’m also learning a new grounding technique that was really helpful during the con and is still helping post-con to bring me more down to earth.

I also needed to change out my Hecate statue. One of the problems with being someone who works with the dying is that sometimes I can get stuck in that mode and forget that there’s life out there, too. The Hecate statue I was using was one I made when I was still doing ceramics and sculpture at home and it is Her in Her role as Death (it’s a bit similar to Santa Muerte in that respect). I needed to remember that She has other aspects (Goddess of Initation, of the Crossroads, etc), and I needed some other representation to reflect that. I got the new statue today, and we’re both pleased (if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you’ve already seen it).

On Monday I’ll be switching over to the Dagda part of the working. It’s been interesting because there’s more logistics required for this part of the working since it requires making meals for others. I’ll be re-doing my altar for it, too. It’s always interesting to compare what kind of altar bling each deity likes when I offer it. All three have relatively simple tastes, which is a good thing!

Could I do this working without the bling? Sure. The bling is mostly for me as an outward representation of what I’m doing, but it’s nice when the Deity in question happens to like it, too. It’s also a place for me to focus, and sometimes it really does take the bling to make it work when I’m feeling scattered. Candles are useful, too, when it comes to that.

It also makes me think about the how all things can be sacred if you let it. The kitchen stove will be my altar for a couple of weeks. My altar is a repurposed microwave stand. I use coins for offerings. If it’s a sacrifice I can make, I will. If it something I need to negotiate, I will. If it’s something I can’t do, I’ll tell my deities so. This is a relationship, and relationships are meant to be based on communication and respect. And so it is…

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