Embracing a Calling: Death Midwifery


Another Greeter of the Dead. This is important work, and I am happy to support others seeking this pathway.

Originally posted on Foxglove & Firmitas:

In my early 20s, I received that profound moment that others describe where they receive their calling towards ministry – The calling where you find yourself suddenly at complete peace and going “Yes, I can do this. I can help people with their spiritual lives.” I had originally planned to become an Unitarian Universalist minister, but truth be told the thought of being in school for another 8 years of my life and going into extreme life-long debt only to be saddled down with society politics (because I’ve seen congregations explode in my time and out a minister at the turn of a hat) seemed to kind of a dead end to me.

Then I was told to go into agriculture. This is still on my list of things to do. The problem is that we’ve discovered that I am photosensitive. I have many of the symptoms of lupus, but…

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Piping for the Dead

Last year I wrote a post about Second Voice Flutes, a very gifted flute maker in the UK who crafts flutes in a style similar to flutes played by various Native tribes in the UK.  I know people might have an issue with a white Brit making said flutes, but there are flute makers and there are Flute Makers.  This person’s work is definitely in the latter category.  He was taught by natives and he takes the work very seriously; I haven’t seen this kind of attention to details and craftsmanship in a very long time, and I admire it.  I had been looking for a flute to play for vigils and various practice in honouring the dead, and I didn’t want just any old flute with no soul.  I bought a practice flute to work on getting my skills back with, but it’s a toneless bit of tat made just to cash in on the idea of an exotic spirituality, and it isn’t really enjoyable to play ( flute makers and Flute Makers).

I decided it was time to get a proper piece to work with, which is designed specifically for playing for the Dead.  Not for fun or for practice, it will have its own place in my work.  But I intend it not to sit in a shrine, unused – I am going to take it with me everywhere I go, to play when required:  on Salisbury Plains, graveyards, on corpse roads, in Potters Greens, at roadside shrines and in forgotten spaces where I feel the dead beneath my feet, forgotten for centuries beneath cobbles and stones.  The Maker at Second Voice and I are designing the flute together, Andre is suggesting things out of knowledge of his craft and also due to having a wife who works at a end of life hospice for children. I am blessed to find someone so gifted, and even though the flue is going to take time, I can wait.

Meanwhile, I do my spring work, albeit rather slowly.  Easter break means my son is home and care time has changed rapidly, so I haven’t had as much time as I would like to get things done. I am behind in everything; weeding and tending the dandelion for harvesting later hasn’t been started, I haven’t brewed the spring beer yet, no raspberry or blackberry buds were harvested at all, but I think I can still get quite a few leaves sorted while the sun is high and we are having good weather.  The hens lay wonderful eggs daily and I have plenty to eat, and I am redoing my kitchen a bit as my mobility us changing a bit and I need to make adjustments.   But on the whole things are well, and I am blessed. I am going to offer strawberries and bright, spun wool to my trees and garden for my Powers That Be, and put out some kidney and liver for the huge raven which has taken up residence in the wood outside my house.



How Not to Greet the Dead

ancestoraltardayExcuse me while I froth a bit.  File this under “rant” but it’s been irking me for some time.

We are a bit behind the times here in the UK.  Telly from five years ago takes a while to get cross the pond for some reason, and the “My Ghost Story” show I think aired its third season last year.  I watched each season, but for reasons which are probably contrary to most viewers.  I imagine quite a few people may be convinced by the mouse which bounced along in the hallway (but which somehow became an “apparition”) or may have been convinced by the voice on tape which sounded almost exactly like the voice of the woman who had just spoken a few moments before.  Every ghost or inexplicable thing was a demon (which again I guess is no surprise in the bible- belt; pretty much anything is either an angel or demon, with no area in between).  I could just about deal with all that, even if I rolled my eyes in several places.

I was watching the show with a growing sense of frustration; not because I wanted proof of the afterlife, but because the language people were using incensed me.  There was a lot of the phrase “experience” being bandied about.  It set off the same warning bell in my head I often got when people in the kink community used the term “explore”.  “I want to explore my boundaries”, “I want to explore this method of kink…”  Basically, to “explore” tends to mean “I want you to provide me with he means of my living out my fantasy, and your own needs aren’t really all that important.”  To “explore” is a nice way of saying “exploit”.  That sort of “gimme” mentality is why I ultimately got bored of kink; I am neither interested in climbing the sexual version of the Himalayas for a thrill, nor am I particularly keen on doing so solely for the other person’s benefit merely because they had a itch and felt as if I was the one who should do the scratching.

Back to the show; people called their visits “an experience”.  But it was laden with the same kind of sense of entitlement.  Every time the people on the program walked into a haunted house, laden with equipment and saying they were looking for an “experience”, I heard “I am looking for a thrill, and I want these spirits to perform for me in order to get one”. They had paid their admission money, and they expected to be entertained.

The lack of respect put my teeth on edge: impatient people tramping around in haunted spaces, literally demanding the spirits, ghosts, or whatever was around should perform and give a show.  “I’m getting bored now, so do something!” one rather irritating individual called into the dark spaces.  I quite honestly felt zero sympathy when said person was raked across the back by an alleged spirit.  They only got what they damn well deserved.

Wave after wave of people went into one location; owners of property seem to have found an extra way to line their pockets by allowing disrespectful jerks into houses to demand spirits perform on cue: lights on, lights off, open doors, close doors, do this, do that.  I kept waiting for someone to do something sensible- like offer to help the spirits depart and move on.  I kept waiting for someone to show the child calling for its mum the way to go on from this world to the next, but out of three seasons only one person bothered to do so.  Only one.  I was staggered, and I was furious.

The dead are not performing poodles who remain in locations for our entertainment, or even to pad out our income.  It sickens me.  I was absolutely seething by the end of the show, and found myself swearing once again, in no uncertain terms, to continue my own work in Greeting the Dead.  I would rather a thousand houses without a shred of mysterious noises and glowing orbs than see any souls on my patch being asked to move a ball.  And with the sheer amount of whispered “get out” messages on recordings (if they weren’t entirely faked), I suspect the spirits are pretty fed up as well.

One of the lessons which I do not feel is anywhere near covers enough in pagan practice is the art of greeting the dead.  Psychopomp is important, perhaps now more than ever:  it seems getting one’s deceased aunt to flick on a handheld torch ad nauseum can bring in a bit of income, but what does the spirit get out of it?  Perhaps there are spirits who are happy with the arrangement, but I sincerely doubt they all are, and the vast majority of people merely seems to happy to seek their “experience” and then go home without a twinge of empathy or a sense of “perhaps I should do something to help”.

Western culture lacks what I call “afterlife hygiene”. There are quite a few reasons for that, and sorry to say a fair portion of the reasons are due to the predominantly Christian belief system of Western culture, especially during the 18-19th century.  It surely cannot escape viewers to notice almost all of the stories of things which go bump in the night were believed to be Caucasian people from the 1800s.  However, America has been settled for a lot longer than when the first settlers from Europe, yet there’s precious few Native ghosts ever seen in these areas.   Native peoples were and are very spiritual folk, and each tribe has its own way with dealing wi spirits of the dead.  Some tribes revere their ancestors and welcome them readily for advice, others would cut their hair and never speak the names of the dead ever again.  They all have their different way of dealing with death, but the traditions have existed for thousands of years, and death is an accepted thing.

When the religious factions of modern Christianity settled in, Christianity itself took on some rather dramatic shifts, due to the Puritans and other various offshoots of same; wakes and laying out the dead in the home was often common – it was a way to familiarise everyone with death and to allow family members to grieve and bid their farewells with the dead present in the room.  This seems appallingly creepy to us today, as we have distanced ourselves so far from death we rarely see it close up: our meat is packaged in white styrofoam in supermarkets, our cemetaries are at the edge of town, with funerals held in buildings we never visit except when we must hold these sterile ceremonies.   The rite and rituals of death closer to home (even within a home) was eventually phased out as the Church enforced the view that the only comfort either the dead or their families needed was knowing the dead were in heaven.  Funerals were rudimentary, and the dead were supposed to be forgotten as “gone”.  Mourning was unfashionable and even frowned upon.  The whole afterlife hygiene changed within a very short period of time, and in many ways it jarred entirely with the wishes of both the deceased and the families themselves.  This makes for unsettled spirits, and as people were forbidden to even consider the possibility that any spirit could remain behind, spirits became angels, or demons, either praised or rebuked by turns.  Of course the Victorian era had its own version of paranormal exploiters, and the Spiritualism movement was both trying to address the gaping hole the austere doctrine of the time was demanding, but also lined the pockets of charlatans and provided a cheap thrill to the incredibly repressed.

This could have almost been considered a tentative return to at least trying to acknowledge the dead, but it was often done by people who had no experience with spirits.  I see the exact same thing happen on these shows: people who supposedly have done “investigations” regularly but who absolutely freak out and run out of a house sobbing when a spirit actually shows up.  There’s also the rather alarming trend of people assuming if they do run across a spirit in a house, that it must be the former owner of said house.  It never occurs to anyone a spirit might not be who or what they say they are.  Just because a spirit says a name into a recorder doesn’t mean it really IS that spirit.  Sometimes, spirits like to have “experiences” too, and if that means screwing around with self-entitled humans, then game on.  Sometimes, spirits lie.  Sometime, what a person is talking to was never, ever human, and putting a bunch of paranormal tourists into a place to talk with those sorts of things makes me cringe.  And sometimes, Spirits have been forgotten so long, and are so angry, they warp a bit into something else entirely…something nasty.

In the pagan community, I feel we really need to encourage a bit more sense when it comes to Greeting the Dead.  We need to show a hell of a lot more respect, we need to get familiar with the territory, and we need to open the discussions about how to tend for our kin who pass beyond, and honour their wishes.  I have felt as if there has been a “backlog” of dead spirits for decades, due to poor afterlife hygiene – it’s almost like the Over-There is getting overpopulated and clogged up because spirits don’t know how to move on anymore, and crowds of people who are only interested in having an “experience” aren’t helping much.

I was in the process of writing a book for psychopomps last year, but realised the book has already been written.  It is dated, but the information is still sound:  Dion Fortune’s “Book of the Dead”.  It is a very good starting point for doing this kind of work, and I feel it should be in every witch’s bag of tricks to be able to help spirits who call out to one, or to deal with a troublesome spirit who is becoming dangerous.  It is important, uncomfortable, thankless Work, but it is important Work all the same.

Read up, study, contemplate, my people…and for the love of the various Gods, seek your thrills elsewhere.

Spring Rebirth

Spring is springing very much indeed!  I have been very grateful for my sabbatical – the full moon has brought me considerable enlightenment and sparked new, potentially mad ideas.  All ideas have potential madness in them – the cutting edge of genius and insanity, it has been said.  While I can’t go into too much detail right now, suffice to say I have come up with an idea for a charity company, and the overarching view is it may end up changing a lot of things in the world for many people.  Big stuff.  I’m absolutely terrified and not entirely sure how I will pull this off, nor even why I suddenly have such a wild hair to even do this kind of thing; it’s not my field and I have no experience in it.  But (deep breath) so we go.


In the eye of the storm of so much activity, I completely spaced Spring Equinox and had nothing planned.  I cringed and Kermit flailed a bit as I hadn’t lit a fire on my altar in yonks, hadn’t cleaned anything, haven’t made incense, planned for absolutely NOTHING, as I’ve been going over rules for CICs, CIOs, trustees and business plans.  I had no idea what to do, and I stared outside in a rather futile way.

My garden is full of daffodils.  I didn’t put them there: years ago, a former tenant loved daffs so much they filled every bed and border with bulbs.  The neighbours say the garden was a sea of buttery yellow in spring.  Over time, various people tried to get rid of them, or adapted the beds to their own requirements (myself included!) but invariably the daffs come back every spring.  While they’re not my favourite flower, I am very glad to see their cheerful colour after months of grey, and so I’ve left them alone.

This was one of those epiphany moments for me.  Someone planted bulbs, many years ago – and I now benefit from the plants, like or not.   The same can be said about the currant bushes and the decking, then hens in my garden, and anything and everything which seeded itself, divided, or was prepared and tended from the year before – it’s all a carry over from labours of a previous time.  We think of Spring as “rebirth” as if it sprang out of nothingness, but that isn’t true – a lot of preparation and planning goes into any sort of birthing, as I am discovering with the new venture in the works.  And I do this work not just for my benefit, but for the benefit of the future, and those who will come after me when my work is done.  It may not continue to be in the same form I envisioned (and perhaps it may become corrupted from my original view), but it will carry on as the seed and spark from my original idea, and that will remain.

And so I poured a bit of every single oil I’ve ever made into my oil burning container, and I gathered the daffodils in the name of whoever came before me, and I gathered up some eggs from the Henz…and Equinox is now acknowledged. I give thanks for this new seed, created from the ideas of others, which I am carrying on in the hopes it will reseed again.  May the coming of this spring and growth mark your own growth in whatever you require.


My Version of Abundance

threehenzIt has come to this; I was commanded in no uncertain terms to take a week off to squeeze out a final bit of recovery from the winter blahs.  It’s not been something I wanted to do; I had taken a trip to do some networking and ended up both shattered beyond all hope, but also ended up incapable of restocking the shop from sheer exhaustion.  So orders from GP given, and I closed the shop for a week and have performed no work or Work.  Nothing but sprawling on the sofa watching nature programmes, listening to music on my iPod, sleeping (a LOT of sleeping) and collecting the first of the eggs from da Henz for breakfast; three out of four Henz are laying now, and I’m enjoying the eggs immensely with homemade bacon and scones I make myself – how many people can say that?  Not many I suspect, which is a shame.

I had intended on opening the shop again on Friday but I am now painfully aware it’s too soon.  I’m not ready, and I haven’t even begun to make any items to restock the shop.  With a qualm I am extending my leave of absence for another week.  Meh.  But needs must, needs must.  This first week is just for me to get back into being able to function, then next week I can start production work and Work again; try as I might, whenever I attempt to meditate or Go Deep, all I ended up doing was falling asleep, so even a bit of Witch-Work has been pretty much beyond me.

It seems like all I’ve been writing about for the past five months is how crap I’m feeling: I keep hitting a patch where I think I’ve got it sussed and then I am smacked back down again.  Chronic illness keeps moving the goalposts on what my version of normal is every year, and I’m having to relearn all over again what I can and cannot do.  It isn’t something I like being reminded of on a daily basis, but it’s right there in my face whenever I try and do an hour of gardening work – something I could have done easily last year – and end up recovering for two days from the exertion.  The game has changed.  I have spent a lot of time over the past few months fluctuating between mindfulness and ranty-swearing at my various gods asking Why the Hell Do I Have to Put Up With This.  Then I get my big-girl pants on and I remind myself yet again I do this work now as I am not sure I will be able to do it next year – so I best use the money I have to make my house a comfortable, efficient and nourishing home; my funds will change dramatically toward the end of this year and I have no idea what will happen financially.  I need to make the most of things now while I can.

Flowers and weeds, flowers and weeds.  I am keeping tabs on my garden and the surrounding wood for wildcrafting purposes, and I’ve managed to find plenty of abundance for both the pantry and the medicine chest within a fair hobbling distance of my house.  Nettle is coming up – as one of da Henz discovered when she got a beakful of the stuff – and my fruit trees and bushes are coming into bud.  I’ve now got my own eggs for my Equinox observance as well as a incense blend for same.  I have been giving the house a thorough clean, I’ve got the first beer of the year to start up, the garden seeds are being sowed, and I will be unpacking Bear Mother’s altar space.  I need to clear a space in the pantry for the solar panel converters to be installed, which should be any time now.  I’ve stocked up like a madwoman on raw milk – there’s several litres in the freezer – smoked bacon is also in freezer, I’ve got a run for local bison to do, and further stock ups to pantry are planned to get us through the Easter holidays.  I am armed with bubble solution and a list of cool places to go: steam train rides and massive gardens with gourmet ice cream cones.

The words of my Powers That Be is I am on practical Working right now; the chore-work which makes for greater Work.  Planting seeds and hedge, raking deep bedding in the chicken coop, planting tansy to deter flies and wasps, learning where the elder flowers grow and tending the honeyberry as it begins to bud.  I have performed a bit of Work here and there – stuff which didn’t feel all that earthshattering or extensive, nothing which felt like Great Woo, but it has been what was requested of me, and I fulfilled it to the best of my ability.  I am still working, I am still a Witch, but I do my thing quietly, woven into the daily tasks of life.  This is becoming the backbone of my Work, and when I finally transition to part-time job (or even that incredibly patronising label of “hobby business”), this sort of thing feels like it will be the core of my practice.

So I spend my day planning on finishing another skein of wool, with a nap figuring in at some point, and lit candles and incense burning.

Seeing the flowers for the weeds



This was the spring garden last year, warts, weeds and all.  There’s even more tulips this year – which I am quite pleased about – to burst into bloom with a backdrop of rusted corrugated metal.  The weird dichotomy of my garden appeals to me on a deep level – whenever I find myself paying more attention to the weeds or the rather ghetto backdrop, I remind myself to look at the flowers more often, and give thanks for their presence; besides, a lot of the weeds in my beds are actually rather beneficial, so I don’t nuke them from orbit with Roundup if I can help it (much to my neighbour’s irritation).

The past couple of months has been more or less perma-flare; this week sadly has proven no different, with my eyes flaring up so regularly I’ve given in and decided I need to get into an optometrist, stat.  I’ve been struggling so much with my vision I can’t see to thread needles for my crafting work, and can’t read small print.  What makes this really frustrating is I know in a year or two, the problem may suddenly become different, so the glasses I will probably need to get will be useless.  Inflammation just does what it likes.

I scoured Dr Google for hints on how to kickstart my body out of its current inflammation flare – I’m frustrated and my patience with my body and its issues is pretty much gone.  As I shivered in a house which is practically too hot because my internal body temperature is whacked, struggled to read because my eyes refuse to focus, and was irritable and exhausted, I stared at the kettlebells in the corner of my room (untouched since last summer, when I was lifting them with ease).  I could feel my jaw clench as I swore to myself I was going to just suck it up, and work out today, pain or not.  I was gonna make the day my bitch, and I wasn’t going to let pain or inflammation or squinty eyes stop me.

However, just as I got up and strode over to the weights with purpose, I found myself coming to a halt.  My P.T.B have my back – from the realm of UPG, a Voice seemed to whisper out from my subconscious “Why do you want to punish yourself?”


I let that ferment a bit, and then found myself needing to sit back down again…because that was exactly what I had intended on doing.  I was going to work out even if it hurt (and it would have done) and it had very little to do with being of benefit; when I’m flared like this, it won’t and I know it.  There’s a lot of arguments for exercise for my conditions, and I’m aware of all of them, but it helps not a jot when the whole reason to try and exercise is because I am angry with my body.  And I am – I’m really bloody angry with it.  I want to punish it for being fat, for being out of shape, for being ill.  My body has betrayed me, and I am angry, even after all this time.  It’s apparent in the way I keep pushing to try and work even when I feel exhausted, in the way I refuse to listen to signals, I refuse the simplest cues, I don’t stick with any of the plans and just keep trying to barrel through – teeth gritted and joints swollen, because to suffer is seen as a badge of courage.  I’m feeling pressure to work full time, even when I’m clearly not ready to do so (and even my GP has shown concern for my working schedule).  It flies directly in the face of all the healing work I’ve been studying lately.  It’s ignoring the flowers, and seeing the weeds as, well, just weeds.

So I had to sit with this realisation for a while: it wasn’t fun, but I needed to acknowledge where my head is.  Only once I worked through all that mess was I able to see what I was doing, and why it wasn’t (and isn’t) going to help.  I did some meditation, and went Within (what I call Going Deep); I assessed my current malaise and why I’m feeling so crap at the moment.  I established a dialogue with my body – and this sounds so flaky, I know, but bear with me – and came to a few glaring, perfectly obvious truths which I would have figured out sooner if I hadn’t been so damn bloody-minded.  I’m eating too much grain again, drinking too much coffee, not taking my daily herbals for healing and balance.  I’m avoiding doing any exercise but gardening because I’m using it like a monk would use a scourge, and naturally my body is rebelling.  I’ve even stopped dancing because the instruction DVDs I bought are all very advanced, and when I realise my body is nowhere near that level of ability, I give up entirely. I have made exercise a form of torture, rather than enjoyable.  I’ve been eating crap again – even though my version of “crap” is just eating too much bread and too many legumes.

This is a lesson in Live, Laugh, Love for me; for all my assertions about making my peace with running on low batteries and low “spoons” – I have moments when things are Not Okay.  I get angry with myself and my inability to shake myself out of a difficult time.  I thought the flare was done and dusted and I could get back to work, but that isn’t the case.  My frustration and my lack of patience is making things worse.  So I’m making some changes to try and get back into the rhythm I need to be in, and the first thing is to cut back my working hours considerably.  I need more rest, especially with the growing season coming in – I’ve got hens to take care of now, which has added a lot of work and a lot less time to sleep in the mornings.  I’ve got to get some glasses sorted out so I can see what I’m working on without frustration, because the vision problems have made my work very Un-fun indeed. I need to get out of the house a bit more, too, and I need to make exercise fun again.  There are some beautiful gardens and castles and things to walk around in very near to my house and, now I’ve got a car, I can go to these places and get about on even, paved walkways.

I have been reminded to slow down, and get back to enjoying life again, to not punish myself for my “failures” and to just work through my issues as I can.  I’m actually rather surprised at today’s epiphany as in former times I would have just worked out anyway.  Perhaps I’m finally learning.

The Spirit of Place


(Illustrator John Bauer – one of my favourite illustrators of all time)

Incoming shameless UPG!

I knew in my bones from a young age when a place had a spirit, or genius loci.  A pasture and woodland near where I grew up in MN was crammed with a spirit of place which ventured into my dreams and taught me about lucid dreaming and what I call dreamwalking.  I didn’t analyse it – at 9 years old, I just sort of accepted people were able to do that sort of thing.  I didn’t give it a UPG tag or try to explain any of it academically; it was just something I accepted was possible.  Perhaps I was protected by ignorance as I am well aware now just how dangerous such travelling could have been, but I was thankfully in good hands.

As I grew older I could still feel stirrings to some landspirits, or could even be repelled by them (there are some really REALLY messed up places out there, where just standing on the land feels like badness rising up out of the ground).  Thanks to having a good teacher in my childhood, I wasn’t too terribly affected when I came across a spirit which was either asleep or poisoned by the actions of the humans who lived on that particular patch, but it expanded my education about “Place”; I learned places could take on a life of their own, for good or ill.  Humans may be completely out of touch with that kind of relationship with our land nowadays but like it or not, we live on the crust of Mum Dirt and we shape the ground we live on.

And unfortunately, having lost our ability to relate directly to the land means we’re doing a lot of really stupid things to it.  We poison the ground, we overtill it, we bury rubbish and nuclear waste in it, we strip it of trees, we tear minerals out of it…the list goes on.  In some places we’ve done so much damage we’ve put the spirits to sleep, or poisoned it so fiercely the Loci has turned into something quite unpleasant indeed.  In the worst case scenario, the Loci is long dead, but nature doesn’t like a vacuum, therefore something rather nasty has come along and taken up residence instead…

I admit I’m not an academic witch; I don’t know what the appropriate Acceptable Term is for whatever I do (and trust me, the terms will change in five years). I don’t attend overpriced conventions or workshops filled with privileged people who can afford attend and philosophise about Whose Practice is Best. I’ve always just done what I do and learned a few things on the way via the harsh school of Trial and Error in Life.  And what I’ve learned is spirits have a tendency to dwell in anything and everything.  Sometimes that’s a good thing – sometimes it’s not at all nice, and I’ve had to deal with a lot of issues all across the spectrum of benevolent and malevolence in interactions with spirits, beasts, and other non-human stuff I can’t even begin to describe.  Years of seeing the freaky and Woo (and ruling out psychological disturbance) has taught me sometimes trying to find the Why isn’t all that important – it’s just a matter of doing and accepting.  I’ve accepted spirits can live in trees, rocks, rivers, streams, or claim an entire region as their own to protect, with varying interpretations on what “Protect” means.  I have made choices on where to move and where not to move by getting in touch with the Loci of an area – sometimes I heard and felt nothing but dead silence.  Sometimes it’s a faint pulse, like the hairs on the back of the neck rising.  And sometimes it was a straight up “Get the hell out.”

Where I live now was a place I almost immediately recognised as “home”; it’s incredibly isolated (and for many people that would be a bad thing) and the neighbours still see me as the weird one, but that’s fine by me.  What actually lured me to the place was the deep pulse I felt from it; like two people sizing each other up in a conference room to see whether the other person is going to be an ally or an obstacle in future plans.  Like most of my dealings with Things Woo, I didn’t look at things as if we were going to be BFFs or spiritual soul mates or dance in fluffy glittery rainbowed circles with each other.  It’s business for me – can I Work with this particular Power That Be, and will they not ask for my firstborn child or a pound of flesh in return?   In my bit of UPG work when I first stepped into the garden on the slippery decking, I extended my intent out into the wood, and felt the same tentative feeling around the edges of my consciousness in return.  I asked if it would be all right if I came to live here, and if the P.T.B would help me be able to stay (as I was, and am, royally sick of moving all over the place).  I was asked to keep from encroaching upon the wood and to tend the animals which lived in it to the best of my ability; if I could do that, then done was done.

I signed the deeds, and with considerable rapidity I was here and settled in.  The house itself isn’t perfect – too small by a long shot, the decking needs to be ripped out, the fenceline is rotting away, we lose power alarmingly frequently here, and the neighbours and I still give each other a wide berth (to be fair, a lot of it due to the fact I don’t really enjoy being around people full stop) – but when things go wrong here, they’re sorted very quickly.  I spent the first year fighting battles for my son and for my self with social services and government systems – and while I asked for help from various Powers That Be, I was well aware the landvaettir of the area I live on managed to bring us a little luck.  I’m not sure exactly how that’s possible, but again I don’t question it overmuch – how or why isn’t so important as the fact it’s done, and I am grateful.

For my part I’ve tried to keep my side of the bargain; the birds are always fed (even though the feeding has cost me a fortune over the past two years).  I trim and tend the weeds, trees and shrubberies which encroach on my patch, but I don’t remove anything which isn’t on my side of the fence, nor do I dispose of rubbish or even of trimmed plants by throwing it into the woods without leave.  The first year I was here I made a mistake with the raspberry canes I had trimmed and thrown over, but when I saw in January they were starting to grow in the ground on the other side of the fence, I tore them all out again.

When I put the hedge in, I did so because I’ve realised the ground is starting to erode due to trees which had previously lined the property – however a former tenant at one point had cut them all down to install a deck.  Now, the deck is rotting and needs to be removed – not to mention it’s become a haven for legions of rats and mice which are running rampant all over the place.  My cats kill half a dozen of the things every night, but it’s not making a dent.  So, to rectify the problem, the decking is coming out this year, and the edible, native hedging plants are going into the ground.  This serves purposes of both the practical and the spiritual: the back garden will be designed so it’s usable for many years to come without worrying about replacing what rots away. The hedge’s roots will bind the soil and prevent erosion of the soil and keep marauding creatures out of my garden, as well as give the wildlife some much-needed sources of food in the form of cherries, plums, sloes, nuts, and rosehips.   But on the spiritual side of things, it rights a wrong – I very much doubt the landvaettir was consulted about building any of these houses, let alone about cutting down trees for a deck.  Putting a hedge down won’t exactly offer full redress for intrusion, but it does show gratitude for being given the opportunity.  Humans have to live somewhere, and if we can’t necessarily always obey the laws of the land, it’s worth it if we can try and reach a compromise.

I was lucky: the landvaettir in my area is awake and willing to work with me.  It seems to be pleased there’s a witch on its patch of land again (I’m in no doubt there used to be one before, and possibly has been off and on for some time).  I’ve had to perform a bit of Work now and again for this particular P.T.B, and I’ve only managed to offend it once – just once.  Hopefully never again.  On the whole, the working relationship we have seems to work.  I keep buying birdseed, and the landvaettir keeps my property and all within it safe.

spring2014Long may it continue.