It’s crept up on us again. The nights draw in, the air chills, the leaves change colour and fall. The Witchlets are at school, and Witchlet Two is now full-time. Harvest has been erratic; whilst I did well with tomatoes, onions, green beans, garlic and chilli peppers, my blackberry foraging ended up being just one afternoon, my elderberry foraging was non-existant and conkers were snaffled by everybody else. Still, I found a crab-apple tree, untouched by the foragers, and plenty of rosehips. The wet weather is hampering my fennel seed harvest, but I’ve got the last of my mints in and hanging up to dry. My next-door-neighbour had the best year ever for apples on his little apple tree (it pays to live next to a witch, folks!) and he’s graciously given me six huge bags full of the precious round fruit (which are killing my hands - all that peeling, coring and chopping has left blisters, aches and pains, but we know the value of sacrifice so I’m not complaining that much) to be turned into cider, wine, sauces, pie fillings, cakes, and chutneys.
Inside the house I’ve sorted out all the herbs and witchery-woo-woo bits into labelled jars (alphabetically sorted, of course) and got down to some work with Hekate. I hesitate to call it shadow-work, or underworld work, it’s more of an internal, perception altering kind of work, and I‘m sure someone has trademarked the term (or it‘s being culturally appropriative… groan). I’ve had to cut some ties, emotionally, mentally and physically this year with the one person I was once literally, viscerally connected to. But after 40-odd years of this becoming more and more corrupted and literally poisoning me, the relationship came to a head with one, final, awful, very-nearly-destroying-me-in-the-process confrontation at the beginning of the summer.
It changed nothing on her side. It changed everything on mine. I knew the only way to survive was to go deep, acknowledge the good stuff, exorcise the bad and cut the cord. And it scared the crap out of me.
So, the Witchlets were despatched to The Hubster’s lovely Mum for a few days. The Hubster was warned that this could get ugly. And I got down to work with Hekate, letting Her - no, INSISTING that she take me below, and back in time to face every little thing (and big thing) that needed to be dealt with. No more bottling up. No more being the victim. I was afraid I would lose my mind in the process and make everything worse, but I simply couldn’t continue with the way I was going.
Offerings were made. I fasted, made lists, re-visited things that had been said and done, bathed, drank, sweated, bathed some more. It didn’t hurt. I cried a lot, but not through pain, but through the weight of it being lifted. The Hubster and I laughed, drank, had sex, talked. I slept a lot. And after 48 hours, I woke up feeling refreshed. Which doesn’t sound like much, but I haven’t felt like that for years. I wake up and either immediately want to go back to sleep, or I can’t go back to sleep and have to drag myself out of bed. But this time, I woke up, and bounced - BOUNCED - out of bed. After six long, hard, painful, stressful, shitty years, this depression lifted so bloody quickly it made me light-headed. I expected hell, and I got release. And through all this I got “You only ever had to ask me. I’m here, I’m always here, but I won’t do it, I will not help until you ask me.”
So the times, they are a-changing. I'm not at someone's beck and call anymore (well, apart from two demanding Witchlets). I’ve got much more on my plate, I’m going to be doing some volunteering (hello, society, I’m-a comin’ to reintegrate myself into y’all!) and I’m working like stink to get stuff done for Samhain/Hallowe’en. Which for us, begins Friday night when the Witchlets come home from school for a week off and find the house decorated.
Friday night I will be re-building the ancestors’ altar, from the little shrine to the big shelf. Names will be recited. Incense will be burnt, and Hekate will be invoked to bring the ancestors home. Gotta thank the marvellous Carolina from Moon Camel Bazaar for the ancestors’ kit - the very last one she had and I was lucky enough to get it - and a lovely couple of gifts too!
Welcome drinks and nibbles will be provided, then on Samhain itself we will have our big meal (not a dumb supper, unfortunately, because The Witchlets can’t stop talking for more than thirty seconds if their lives depended on it!) and to round off our week we are having our Annual Hallowe’en Bash where we’ll all be dressing up, inviting lots of the Witchlets’ friends over, and eating, drinking and playing silly games. And I’ll be giving my hands even more abuse by carving pumpkins.