Now the winds are picking up and my old trees are swaying dangerously back and forth. I’m an old, risk-averse woman with a bum ankle and I’ve done pretty much (little enough) everything that I could do to prepare for this once-every-thousand-year storm. There’s now No Way Out But Through, and we’ll see if we’re in still in Kansas anymore once we’ve gotten through.
And, so, in my comfy, well-stocked basement, I’m thinking about what it means to be the Witch of This Place in the middle of this kind of storm. One of the things that first attracted me to Witchcraft was the statement (and I wish that I could remember where I read it or who wrote it) that “A Witch Takes Responsibility.” I’ve never understood that in a Carolyn-Myss-New-Agey-The-Promise-If-You-Got-Killed-By-A-Tsunami-Your-Higher-Self-Wanted-To-Learn-A-Lesson-From-The-Tsunami kind of way. I understand it to mean that, if you’re going to walk between the worlds and do between them what may affect them all, then you’d better be well-informed enough to take responsibility for what you’ve done, you’d better be ready for it when your own little node on the web reverberates, you’d better be responsible for your own reactions. I made, almost a decade ago, a sacred pact with this small cottage and with this Bit of Earth. I’m responsible for it and I’m responsible for what I’ve done to contribute to the global climate change that is now wracking it mercilessly. And I’m responsible for being grown-up enough to acknowledge and accept that the Universe is often random. Sometimes, shitty things happen to good people and it’s not because Jehova hates gai people. It’s because randomness (that most liminal and Hecate-blessed quality of the universe) is absolutely necessary (“Hail,” as someone once wrote, “Eris, full of Grace, Holy Queen of all this place,”) to everything else. That’s all.
Another thing about Witches, and I think that T. Thorn Coyle may have been the one who said this, is that we’re not afraid of the dark. OK, maybe, tonight, I am kind of afraid of nature’s dark and destructive power, but I am still willing to recognize it, to appreciate its role, and, even though I am scared, to ask it to come in, sit down, and help me to pay attention to it, because paying attention is a very large part of my own spiritual work.
And, so, today I am asking Sia’s wonderful question: “What Are Witches For?” and adding (you know, the way that you add “in bed” when you read a fortune from your fortune cookie, only not like that at all) “during Hurricane Sandy?” At some point, the power is going to go out, except for the generator that will (Goddess willing) keep the sump pumps, refrigerator, and an outlet on, and I’m going to just stop, sit with the storm, and try as hard as I can to be present instead of afraid. And then I’ll be present to being afraid. Because even when all that I can be is afraid, I will still be an afraid Witch and, thus, I will take responsibility for paying attention to my fear. And I will not forget what my Bene Gesserit sisters have taught me:
I must not [fear; that’s the word that Frank Herbert left out, fear: “I must not fear fear,”] fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
Facing fear and allowing it to pass over me and through me seems, to me, to be another way of saying “being present,” of saying “paying attention.” And, once I’ve actually done that, only “I” will remain and “I” am both the observer and the observed.
Samhein’s coming. This year, it is not coming gently. I can hear the Wild Hunt’s horns and it’s not yet clear for whom they blow. My dreams are increasingly intense. My ancestors and descendents (genetic and spiritual) inhabit my dreams. I will lie down tonight — underground, beside and enwrapped within the roots of my beloved old trees, under a Full Moon in Taurus, beneath a raging storm — the Witch of This Place. Maybe She has something to say to us, this Storm. She’s certainly yelling loudly enough. And I will lie down and listen and dream with a willing heart because I want to say, like Jefferson, that:
[L]ife was freakish
But life was fervent,
And I was always
Life’s willing servant.
Maybe we could do it together. Maybe you could set an intention tonight to learn what this Storm is trying to tell us. Maybe you could tell me tomorrow what you learned. After all, if we’re going to hunker down, we might as well do it with purpose.
And, of course, I can’t help but be reminded of a poem by E. Dickinson:
Wild nights – Wild nights!
Were I with thee
Wild nights should be
Futile – the winds –
To a Heart in port –
Done with the Compass –
Done with the Chart!
Rowing in Eden –
Ah – the Sea!
Might I but moor – tonight –
Moor your spirit tonight someplace where it wants to be. And then see what the wild night has to say. If anyone can fly along wild October winds and enjoy them, then surely, we.