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Birthday in the Time of Towers

My birthday was Friday and throughout the week, I posted observations on each day. Here’s Sunday’s, which you may find interesting.

The Sunday shows brought me a frisson of…something. So I have come before you, weakened by my hedonism, to say this to eyes that can read it and hearts that can hold it:

These are the times of sap-rising and wild yellow dillies in the sere grass. We wrestle with bad news and bad luck, but we lie down and wallow in our depair and frustration.

Get grounded. Shields up. Meditate/pray. Check in on your neighbors. Go to the feed and seed and look at the chicks.

Hold fast. All that you are hearing on social media and mass media is the worst of the worst. But someone you know just fell in love or planted sugar snap peas or watched the birth of their first grandchild.

There is good in the world and you are doing it. The millions of –billions of!–people doing small and simple acts of connection and attention add to our collective resilience.

We need all the resilience and joy and luck we can muster right now. You be in charge of the good news today–you speak this gospel. Tell the people you love that you do and try to ignore the people who are crushing out their cigarette butts on your last good nerve.

Ground. Shield. Hold fast. Be a decent human and show it. Small, simple acts of heart, of soul, of mercy.

Siblings, these are the times we were made for.

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The Rime Moon

Today was the perfect day for garden clean up. Sunny and warm but not hot. Bright enough to give me a headache, by the way. We cleaned the little kitchen garden and then tackled the Italian garden.  Cleaned and renovated the beds. I watered the raise bed with its delicious spinach, carrots and radishes–I ate a sweet little French Breakfast radish.

And the whole time I was feeling the rise of energy from that waxing Moon. Mercury has gone retrograde, too, so there’s all that and the other astrological stuff that’s going on. Plus we’re in the last weeks before the Winter Solstice. Plus the Republic is in freefall. 

Add to that a nice thick layer of Tower Time and set the whole thing on a big pile of Patriarchy and you have a weekend fraught with drama, tears and a kind of mad twirling desperation. 

But tonight, at Mother Grove, the chapel was full of people who had come for companionship, for time spent with like-minded folk.  The North altar was set with Goddess figures and candles, and the circle of people faced the soft glow of it.

We sang to Hekate and talked about the uses of power and the strength of community.  We walked outside and sang the Moon into the Sky. And then I took them on a guided meditation that began with Bob Nagan driving the Cat Bus and all of us lying on the top of Mount Mitchell, pouring the power out of our hands and into the world.

It smoothed out the scritchy energy of the day and offered us all a chance to breathe and consider how the world is and how we can weather the storm. 

And that’s what we all need right now, I think. A sturdy layer of resilience, a dash of a sense of humor and a vision of how we can move forward, to survive, to thrive.

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Dreaming of Farms

As usual. As always.

I grew up in west Buncombe on what was once a pretty little farmstead, with a lovely orchard, a root cellar, a springhead. My parents were not active stewards, shall we say, and the whole place was run-down by the time I was old enough to remember it.

We had a parade of interesting animals over the years–a cow, a donkey, ponies, a horse, chickens, a myna bird, parakeets, white mice, guinea pigs, canaries and the usual dogs and cats.  One summer, we had three mama cats with their 14 kittens.

Yes, not careful of things, my parents.

But we grew a garden every year and played at self-sufficiency.  And ever after I’ve felt myself to be a country person. Most of you know I garden and have kept bees and all that homesteady jazz.

I’m off the road for a couple of months–doing retreats and classes here at home and renovating a house.  So I signed up for a class from Organic Growers School. It is called Farm Dreams and it was all day today.

We learned about the ins and outs of beginning farming and the participants were from some far-flung parts of NC.  The netw0rking part was really good and the process was good, too. A solid way to think about it and to plan for it.

We did sketches of our farms and listened to local farmers who talked about their lives and their own dreams.

I’m still processing all the info and dreaming some farm dreams of my own.


future cider

radishes for breakfast

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An Energy Trap

I’m posting this because I mentioned it on Facebook and several people wanted to know how to do one. I developed this years ago when I was called out to a house near Enka Lake that needed a clearing done on it. So I McGuyver’d this thing that worked so well for the occupants that I set them up in all sorts of places after that. It appears in my first book “Staubs and Ditchwater.”

a Receipt for clearing the energy in your Home or Place of Business

an energetic filter

I developed the Energy Trap many years ago and it has proved to be very effective. It acts as a kind of HEPA filter for stagnant energy in your home, energy that can be misconstrued as spirit activity. Here are directions for constructing and using one.

You’ll need a flat, round reflective surface (the bottom of a throw-away pie pan is the best but you can use a round mirror, too), three flat black rocks, a tealight candle (my preference is a battery-operated one because they are safe around children and animals) and two grades of salt (inexpensive table salt and kosher salt, for instance).

Place the reflective surface on a flat surface–put it on a high shelf out of sight, if that’s needed or put it in a prominent place to add the energy of your thoughts every time you see it. Put the three flat stones in the center of the mirror. Pour the kosher salt in a circle around the stones. Pour the table salt on the outer edge of the mirror. Now, place the tealight on top of the stones in the center and light it or turn it on.

The theory behind this trap is that stagnant and unhealthy energy is drawn to the light, filtered first through the stones, then filtered through the rough salt, filtered a final time through the fine salt. It is then reflected back out into the area as clean, useable energy. You can keep one of these going all the time, but it isn’t necessary. You’ll feel the difference in a few days.

If you are moving into a new place or if your office environment is harsh, run the trap for at least a Moon cycle. If you run it longer than that, change the salt every Moon cycle.

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A Memorable Fortnight, or shameless self-promotion

I had such a streak of good fun as the end of November neared.

I got to be on my first-ever webinar with my good friend and sister-mischief maker Maia Toll.  There’s a link to it below. But you’ll need to pony up a donation to Mother Grove Goddess Temple to watch it.


Then, a few days later, I did a two-hour live radio show with Kitty Love.  You’ll find that link below.


And last–but certainly not least!–was a terrific article by Beth Ward in Atlas Obscura.  Again, click on the pic and we’ll keep our fingers crossed that the hyperlink works.

But maybe don’t read the comments on that last one. Some people are insufficiently cultured to understand subtleties.


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The Mote of History: Dusting as We Go


I volunteered for a few hours today at a local historic home, the Smith-McDowell House. It is set up with rooms indicative of the history of the family—a local and prominent one—and they decorate lavishly for Christmas. My young friend Jenna and I had the 1870s bedroom upstairs. There were two tubs full of décor and lots of photos to show us what went where.

We wore white cotton gloves to protect the artifacts and we squinted at the photos to decide exactly which Father Christmas went where. We moved some china vases into the deep window ledge as a staging area and I noticed how dusty it was. On my next trip downstairs, I asked for a dusting cloth so that I could dust as we went. I really fancied dusting the chamber pot and the wash basin and pitcher.

One of my pet peeves is to go to a museum and see dust, but I understand that most of these places are understaffed or staffed by volunteers, so there are often more pressing matters than whether or not there’s a bit of dust on the marble table. (I often wish I could take a dustcloth with me and help just a bit. When we went to George Washington’s nice place at Mount Vernon several years ago, I hung out in the walled garden for so long, they let me help with the potato digging. I helped with gardening in several places in Britain over the years. Earning my keep, a tiny bit. Feeling as though I belong to that slice of time, this mote of history.)

Microcosm, macrocosm. As I dodged around the young Twins who were setting up the Spiderweb Game in the corner of the room, I also considered what it meant to dust as you go. Why is it so hard for me to tackle a project in increments, a bite at a time? My preference since a mostly-feral child has been to bite off more that I can possibly chew. And then chew it and swallow it, and move on to the next project.

I am a biter and a swallower. And I suspect it is my nature to be so.

Looking at the coming fourteen months, I long to bite more things—fiddle-playing, singing, writing, teaching. I want to visit the places I love—Madron and Carlisle, Slane and Yorkshire, Marshall and Folly Beach—and I want to do that with the people I love.

Bite, chew, swallow.

And just a bit of dusting as I go.


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Setting of the Sun–a Harvest Lament




Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness, Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve; Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Refrain: Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves; Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Sowing in the sunshine, sowing in the shadows, Fearing neither clouds nor winter’s chilling breeze; By and by the harvest, and the labor ended, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

If we leave off the final verse of Knowles Shaw’s 1874 hymn, it is perfectly workable for a Pagan harvest festival. We can feel the secondary and tertiary meanings, too, just like the intended Christian audience.

Lughnasadh. Lammas. First Harvest. Depending on the spiritual trad you follow, you may call this holy day by one of those names—or by another. Many Pagans conflate the first two but they are very different celebrations of the First Harvest. One is Irish and one is Christianed Saxon. One is games and homecoming. One is bread and the in-gathering of grains.

Every year, long about mid-July, there are Pagan folk in the Northern Hemisphere who start to complain about and boycott this holy day. They’re not farmers, they write, they are urban people who don’t get this whole harvest business. Or the weather where they live doesn’t feel like early autumn. Or they don’t practice a “Celtic” spirituality. Fair enough. Since we have not yet convened the Neo-Pagan Council at Nicaea nor pay fealty to a Pagan Pope, you are pretty free to celebrate this sweet cross-quarter day as you choose. I’m not sure why they can’t celebrate the abundance that fills the shelves of their local Whole Foods or treat the whole harvest idea as metaphor, as in “time to consider what I’ve ‘seeded’ this year and whether that has come to fruition” sort of thing.

But again…no Pope. No Council.

Not yet.

I personally love this holiday and have since the days of Notre Dame de l’Herbe Mouillee, that marvelous coven of memory. We often celebrated Lughnasadh by having a talent show, what is now referred to as a “bardic circle.” We weren’t so fancy in those days. Coven members showed off some skill or art. Kate and Geneva sang Sweet Georgia Brown in Polish. I played Danny Boy on the fiddle. Teleri belly danced. The W-J children made beautiful drawings.

The sun has set now and I have spent hours on the phone and on Messenger today, listening, talking, grieving the place so many stand right now. Fear and fury walk hand-in–-hand as we step into this festival. Is this the harvest we want? The harvest we expect in these Tower Times? Did we even plant these seeds, in the long ago springtime?

But my house is quiet now, at last. I can hear night insects in their chanting and I am drawn at once to my altar, to do my own soft prayers. And I repeat the circle cast I wrote so many years ago, when the directions were all honored with paeans of grain:

North: I remember how the seed-heads, tanned from the sun, stand in the wide fields near the river. I remember the threshing of the grain and the stretching stomachs it fills. I remember the bowl, with butter and sugar, and a man dressed as a Friend. In this time of the grain harvest, I call the Ancestors and the Guardians of the North with the strength of oats! You are welcome at our table! have them repeat this

East: I have planted the flat kernels in mounds the width of my hand. I have seen the shocking green of the stalks as they rise. The oldest peoples put a fishes head in the mound to feed the proud green spears. Tall spears to hold the other Sister. In this time of the grain harvest, I call the Ancestors and Guardians of the East with the bright yellow kernels of corn! You are welcome at our table!

South: I sing now of the loaf, of the fire of the sun made edible through the flailing of the grain. I sing now of the bright fire of food that is enduring, of food that is beautiful to see. I sing of grains that feed the people and straw that makes the bricks. In this time of the grain harvest, I call the Ancestors and Guardians of the South with the banked fire of wheat! You are welcome at our table!

West: I create a necklace of the pearls of barley. I create soup from the waters of the sea and the tears of my kindred, who passed into the West. I create the living vision of a shining new world. I create a passageway for my Descendents to greet my Ancestors. In this time of the grain harvest, I call the Ancestors and Guardians of the West with the perfect jewels of barley! You are welcome at our table!


And now the opening, as we open to this bountiful, troubling, problematic season:

West–Sweet pearls, rich grain. Barley of my people. Though our circle be open, we honor the West!

South–Bread-maker, brick-maker: wheat of the plains. Though our circle be open, we honor the South!

East–The tall sister, the one who stands: silk and husk of corn. Though our circle be open, we honor the East!

North-Tanned for the harvest, sweet beyond measure. Oats for our bellies. Though our circle be open, we honor the North!

The circle is open but never again broken. May the Goddess fill all hearts as the grains of Autumn come to harvest. Merry meet and merry part! And merry meet again!

However you choose to honor or not honor this time, let it be rich for you, and deep, and filled with meaning. For there is no time now for fads and faithlessness. May you make room for life and for joy.

Blessed Lughnasadh! Let the games commence!




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What I’ll Be Doing For The Rest of the Year

o dear…


So…today I had brunch with my friends Mia and John, and my work-wife, Star.  Mia asked me if I had posted where I’ll be appearing for the rest of the year and I looked at her blankly. Recovering what passes for my composure these days, I allowed as how I probably should do that. Somehow I don’t have a sense that people want to know such things but Mia assures me some may very well.  With thanks to her for her encouragement, here’s where you may see me in the next six months. 

Hang on to your knickers.

June 22-25, Wisteria, Ohio

Midsummer Festival with a focus on primitive skills. Teaching traditional Appalachian herbal healing.

June 28, Ashe County Public Library

A talk on Appalachian folkways with a focus on folk magic

July 7-16, Summerland Festival, Wisconsin

Teaching some stuff, doing some ritual, hanging with friends

July 20-23, Mystic South Conference, Hotlanta, Georgia

Headliner: which means teaching some classes. I will also present an academic paper on my recent research on the roots of Appalachian folk magic. And, shockingly, I will be leading an early morning tai chi class. I know, right?

September 9-10, Organic Growers School, Asheville, NC

Teaching a seminar on Appalachian folkways

September 15-17, Delaware

Delmarva Pagan Pride (and a class at a local shop the night before TBA)

September 22-23, Piedmont Pagan Pride

Teaching and talking; class the evening before (TBA)

October 5-8, Calderafest, somewhere in Georgia

Huge Pagan music festival that you shouldn’t miss; I’m just going to goof off but will be singing in the choir for the performance of Brian Henke’s Raven King

October 13-15  Southeast Wise Women’s Herbal Conference, Swannanoa, NC


October 26-29, Florida Pagan Gathering Samhain Festival

Headlining: teaching, ritualing

November 2-5, FaerieCon, Hunt Valley, Maryland

Teaching, dressing up like a faery, drinking to excess

I think that’s it.  I’ll be helping to train new priestesses for Mother Grove Goddess Temple and continuing my clergy work there, of course.  I plan to have my new book–Earth Works: Eight Ceremonies for a Changing Planet–off to the editor by Lughnasadh. So a new book by year’s end, if all goes well. Plus gardening, canning, teaching locally, reading tarot. You know..the stuff one does when living a rich and juicy life.

Come see me at one or more of these things. I’d love to see you.

Oh!  And witchery. Lots and lots of witchery.


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Something Big A-Rolling

into the woods


Yesterday, early in the morning, before the sun was rising, I had an odd feeling that I couldn’t quite peg.  I went to Facebook with one of my all-purpose advice balls and got an overwhelming response from my contacts there.

Since many people seem to also be feeling this unease, I thought I’d copy the postings here, for those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook.

Here it is:

Friends, I was called to my home altar in the night. Please ground, if you aren’t already. Ground deeply and get your shields up. Center yourselves as you may. Focus. Words to the wise in the gloaming of the world.

 Later in the day, I added this:

Many of you have responded to my early morning post about my late-night adventure. I’m not surprised–given who you are–that this affected you, too. I am discerning what this trigger is, so if you are “getting” further information about this intuitive alert, please pm me or respond on this thread. And…be safe, observe your world, love big. Also, fear not. #witchery #SleeplessinTowerTime

Again, there was a powerful response, both public and private. Today I elaborated a bit:

Gratitude for all of you who responded both publicly and privately to my puzzling experience yesterday. In my morning walk, as I peered at the greenness all around, I realized the feeling/premonition lingers in and around me. This is the way with some witches–we note a change, we examine it, we bring our best discernment processes to bear and sometimes we reach out to colleagues for further information. I am still deep in the discernment process, still gathering information. Thanks to all of you for your patience with my process. It is Tower Time, as I call it. We are asked to be strong, purposeful and open-hearted. Never a bad thing anytime. #witchery #LoveintheTimeofTowers

I’m still considering, pondering, wondering.  Thanks for listening.