Craft of the Wild Witch tales

Today, she's experimenting with different blends of summer wild berries and wild flowers in her muffins, and cakes. She's making Golden Saskatoon cookies, from the Saskatoon berries with goldenrod flowers found in the wild fields, and a batch of Rose Bay Raspberry muffins, from the raspberries with Fireweed flowers, also known as Rose Bay Willow herb, that bask by the banks of the river.  A mixed batch of both flowers and berries will be confectioned too.  

Later, she will laze around comfortably to the sugary scent wafting throughout her shack.  Her muffins turned out beautifully! And yummy and she really love how she can actually taste the goldenrod flowers pretty strongly in the Golden Saskatoon cookies...  

 "Good experiment!" She declares, as she prepares to turn in for the day.  Up early, she will be gathering moon soaked Yarrow before the sun hits.  

The witch who lives in my woods

Right behind my garden, way out past the hosta garden, by the creek that leads to the woods there's a place somewhere out there from which tales can be spun...

...Silly, fanciful, mysterious and creepy tales and fairytale dreams live there....  I remember the day I found this place...

Sweaty and parched after planting a new flowerbed, I walked over to the edge of the garden after a raven.  The raven flew into the woods, then waited for me perched on a stump.  Mesmerized by this creature, I followed him, but when I reached the stump where the raven waited, he spread his wings and — blink — vanished before my eyes... or so I thought.  

I was about to turn back to the garden when all of a sudden, overhead, a cackle was heard.  I looked up, and there he was, eyeing me from atop a privet tree!  The raven spread his wings and flew to another branch, always waiting, as if making sure I was following him... and this time I did followed him...   up the Golden Ragwort paths through the woods I followed him... 

Twisting this way here, going this way there...

Stomping and stumbling on twigs and fallen branches...

Bending this way 'round the wild Eglantine... 

The Sweet-briar and the Pasture Rose, common in thickets 'round here...

I kept walking, following the raven as he flew and waited and sang his crackled song atop the lower branches, always waiting for me, until I finally saw it... a shack beneath a twisted live oak tree all tangled up in wild roses... tall trees above me swayed gently with breezes and sunlit filtered brightly though the treetops, and beyond that... nothing but empty, leaden skies...

This was a bad omen, I thought.  And indeed it was!  But then, it was already too late... a faint cackle taunted me in the distance and I just knew right there and then I was standing on forbidden ground... what to do... oh what to do? Run, wait for the witch?  Perhaps wake up from a bad dream???


Into the woods

"She walked forward to the melody of branches and leaves crunching beneath her feet. Leaves to ash, ash to soil, repeating until the Earth took its last breath. The smell of sweet decay lingered, reminding her of life instead of death, of a world that had the courage to begin again, of a soul that could shed its leaves fearlessly without the fear of becoming nothing. She walked with the specter of Adam guiding her amongst these souls, standing tributes to perpetual destruction and rebirth, and she felt at home. Just for a moment."  (Meditations In Wonderland)
It was one of those humid days when the atmosphere gets confused. Waling on the forest, you could feel it: the air wishing it was water...

Caverns of sunset, falling, falling away—just a single vast gold air breathed out by beings—they must have been marvelous beings, those gold-breathers.

If you still believe in magic, 
you're subject to enchantment. 

I sat before my glass one day,
And conjured up a vision bare,
Unlike the aspects glad and gay,
That erst were found reflected there -
The vision of a woman, wild
With more than womanly despair.
Her hair stood back on either side
A face bereft of loveliness.
It had no envy now to hide
What once no man on earth could guess.
It formed the thorny aureole
Of hard, unsanctified distress.

Her lips were open - not a sound
Came though the parted lines of red,
Whate'er it was, the hideous wound
In silence and secret bled.
No sigh relieved her speechless woe,
She had no voice to speak her dread.

And in her lurid eyes there shone
The dying flame of life's desire,
Made mad because its hope was gone,
And kindled at the leaping fire
Of jealousy and fierce revenge,
And strength that could not change nor tire.

Shade of a shadow in the glass,
O set the crystal surface free!
Pass - as the fairer visions pass -
Nor ever more return, to be
The ghost of a distracted hour,
That heard me whisper: - 'I am she!' 

The Witch (1893)

Mary Elizabeth Coleridge

I have walked a great while over the snow,
And I am not tall nor strong.
My clothes are wet, and my teeth are set,
And the way was hard and long.
I have wandered over the fruitful earth,
But I never came here before.
Oh, lift me over the threshold, and let me in at the door!

The cutting wind is a cruel foe.
I dare not stand in the blast.
My hands are stone, and my voice a groan,
And the worst of death is past.
I am but a little maiden still,
My little white feet are sore.
Oh, lift me over the threshold, and let me in at the door!

Her voice was the voice that women have,
Who plead for their heart’s desire.
She came—she came—and the quivering flame
Sunk and died in the fire.
It never was lit again on my hearth
Since I hurried across the floor,
To lift her over the threshold, and let her in at the door.

I know of the leafy paths that the witches take
Who come with their crowns of pearl and their spindles of wool
And their secret smile, out of the depths of the lake. ~William Butler Yeats

Why You Might Be a Witch
By Theodora Goss

Because sometimes you dream of flying
the way you used to.

Because the traffic light always changes for you.
Because when you throw the crusts of your sandwich
to sparrows in the public park, they hop close
and closer, until they perch on your finger
and look at you sideways.

Because as you walk down the street,
the wind plays with the hem of your skirt
so it swings dramatically around your ankles.

Because as you walk, determined and sensible,
your shadow is dancing.

Because a lot of people talk to cats
but for you they answer.

Because the sweetgum trees along the sidewalk
love to show you their leaves, sometimes even tossing
them in front of you, yellow veined red,
brown shot with green and yellow,
like children showing off artwork.

Because when you look up,
the moon is always smiling.

Because sometimes darkness closes around you
and you remind yourself that it’s all right,
you’ve worn this cloak before.

Because in winter you acknowledge
that snow is a blanket as well as a shroud,
and we must all sleep sometimes.

Because in spring you can hear the tinkling bell-sounds
that crocuses make, and the deeper gongs of the tulips.

Because the river waves to you in passing,
and you wave back.

Because even the brownstones of this ancient city
look at you with concern: they want to make sure you’re well.
You belong to them as much as they to you.

Because witches know what they are
and if I asked, do you remember?
You would have to confess that yes,
you do.

The Pandora Box

Have you ever heard the story of the Pandora's Box? Long long ago while growing up in northern Spain, I discovered a Pandora Box hidden away in the attic of the abandoned chateau that had once belonged to my great-great grandmother Anastasia, which in turn, had belong to her own great grandmother, the intriguing Arabella Countess of Aragon.

It was the most fascinating little box I had ever seen, made of pearl on the outside and an assortment of fabrics and tulle and some other rare materials on the inside. This beloved box had once belonged to Arabella Countess of Aragon, and it was as intriguing and bewitching as Arabella herself had once been.

I like to call this very special box a “Pandora Box” for what it means and what it represents, but of course, it really is just a Writing Box...

Back in the days of Arabella Countess of Aragon, back in 1750, a portable desk in the form of a box—hence a Writing Box, was a very important and necessary item. A Writing Box could be used on a table or on one's lap, and through it both business and personal activity were transacted. Arabella would use her Writing Box to sign contracts, letters and postcards were written on its sloping surface, but later her Writing Box became an elaborate piece of craftsmanship—a marvelous confection made by Arabella herself, where she would hide the strangest of personal things.

Thus, her Writing Box became a Secret Box; her confidant and keeper of her most inner desires and clandestine possessions.

Opening Arabella’s Pandora Box was like breathing magic into my childhood... a wisp of air came wafting straight out of the box the very minute I opened it, it smelled of lavender and peppermint and I clearly remember feeling as if I just had walked into a Christmas memory that didn’t belong to me and yet, it was all mine in a mysterious and inexplicable way.

There was a mood of magic in the room and I could see Arabella’s scent lingering in the air like kite tails. Whatever secrets or message had been hidden in her secret box now needed some way out... and I was there to find out. It was as if Arabella herself was standing beside me making sure I knew... knew all her secrets. So strong her presence was.

There were some old coins in Arabella’s box, and there were some tattered jewelry oxidized with time and a yellowish land contract in onion skin paper, and there was an old and very peculiar crucifix along with an old daguerreotype of the passionate and fearless Arabella Countess of Aragon.

All of a sudden the room got very quiet and I was sure I heard Arabella saying: "Prepare yourself for some delightful surprise, dear Cielo". And how true! You see, I was about to yet uncover another treasure... tucked away under the aged lining of the old box a real treasure was waiting! My hands moved rapidly through the box, my mind looking for clues...

Until I saw them: Arabella’s famous love letters; those my mother and her sisters and mothers before them would always talked about in hush voices.

The love letters were from Arabella and her lover; a very mysterious man who, sometimes at the end of his letters would curiously sign as “Your Majesty, the King”. Under the lining of Arabella’s box, I also found an ancient medallion, which I’m now positive it’d belonged to that certain King. The strange medallion had an unusual inscription in it and an emblem on it pertaining to royal dynasty. 

Its regal look reminded me of royal tapestries and carvings, and I could picture kings and queens using them as royal gifts for their courts. Some of the love letters where written and signed by Arabella herself... “heme determinado ante ti como una página escrita y borrada mil veces...”—read one of her letters. If you click on Arabella’s letter you can read the rest of it, or at least most of it, but that’s just if you dare snoop into her very dark past!

Indeed, the strange Arabella had a very dark past, and I can attest to that because among the things tucked away in her box I also found this bizarre “Wanted Sign” you see here... the sign had been tucked away among the few things Arabella was able to keep to the end of her days, and you could tell that someone had folded it almost reverently, as if it was some sacred totem needed to be forgotten or perhaps eternally remembered.

Arabella was wanted by the authorities of her time, and it had something to do with her lover being who he was and the way they both carried their ‘illicit’ love against all odds. It was taboo—that love was. 

Oh but you must forgive me for ending Arabella’s story so abruptly here. You see, time is running out on me and I must part as soon as possible... I have a flight to catch—a carpet ride, that is! Ah yes, the magic carpet of Tangu (also called Prince Housain's carpet for those of you not acquainted with the story), has been parked in my garden for the last three days, and I cannot, or rather not, make it wait any longer, as this is a rather moody carpet, you know! But I promise I’ll share with you the rest of Arabella’s story real soon.