Unlucky in love one too many times, I decided to turn to Witchcraft.
In less than 24 hours there would be a disseminating moon. A time when a woman must let go of all that is holding her back. I thought of my pain - my anger - my bitterness - my deep disappointment - over all the loves I'd longed for and not attained. I saw a great cloud covering my heart, clouding my head, leaving me a bitter old hag who was working on despising the entire male race and in danger of owning too many cats. I thought surely I must let this go, and I set about to do so in the style of the Old Religion.
I made a trip to the 90's apothecary - the local health food store. Oblivious to the raised eyebrows of the attendant, I asked if they carried nettles and thistle. After typing the labels and retrieving the herbs from a bin, he handed me two small plastic bags full of leaves clipped neatly for tea. I was too embarrassed - or perhaps not courageous enough to explain that this is not what I had hoped for. I paid for them anyway and left the store, realizing that I must follow the patterns of witches of old and find my own magic in that which surrounded me.
Once back at home I seized the wreath hanging on my front door and stripped it clean of a dried thistle spray painted pink. I raided my floral supplies (I admit, I'm prone to a little flower arranging every now and then) and found a dried pod with perfect spines running along its edge. Alone in my room with my treasures, I cut the thorns from a dried rose which I had been saving for just such a magical purpose.
My ingredients were chosen for one very specific reason - they hurt. Each of them, being found in their natural element were prone to prick you, stab you, and otherwise leave you bleeding and wounded. To me these were magical herbs by their very nature - even though I wasn't sure of their exact names and I hadn't consulted an almanac. The truth is - nature speaks volumes.
I dropped them into a bowl and crushed them, pouring in a little perfumed oil that claimed to carry the scent of the ocean. In these modern days one finds it necessary to improvise.
I held the bowl in my cupped palms and imagined the salty waters of the sea and the salty waters of my tears. I held it close to my heart and bid all my ill feelings that they might flee into the thorns. I spoke a sing song ritual of admittedly bad poetry:
I empower you thorns from a blood red rose To carry this hurt of unattainable love far from me I empower you prickly pod To release me from my stinging wounds I empower you thistle To wrench the dusty hurts of the past away To wash the tender toxins of newly lost love away.
I suddenly remembered the blue jay feather. My last heart's desire had the initial of "J" and I had found a beautiful blue jay feather one afternoon while out walking. I had seized it immediately and carried it home like a treasure where it graced my night stand for several weeks.
There it sat, reminding me of my hope and giving me visions of a new love. There it sat, while he let me down gently, explaining in an uncomfortable squashed monotone that as nice as I was - I just wasn't his type.
Rejection and the all too familiar pain of it! Yet another hurt to release!! I grabbed the feather.
Another thought came to me. Sour grapes. That was my problem - too much bitterness over love lost. Better yet - too much bitterness over never having loved at all. I ran to my back yard and picked a large supple grape leaf from my vine. What better symbol of bitterness than the proverbial sour grapes.
I dumped the thorns into the leaf and rolled it like a cigar. I grabbed my sewing kit, and carefully stitched it tightly closed with red thread. Red. The color of passion. The color of anger. The color of blood. The color of rage. I bound my pain with rage, sewing over and over while reciting more bad poetry:
I wrap you in bitterness|
That she too might be washed away in the Mother's womb
I bind you with rage
To meet the raging waters
And be washed clean.
I stared at my handiwork - my supple green bundle with little red stitches. I rocked it in my hands as though it were my child. I picked up the blue jay feather and slipped it carefully between the folds so as not to tear the leaf. I sang:
Sacred Blue Jay|
In the watchtowers of the East
Carry away on Sacred Wing
Something was missing. Some redirection. Some thing to bring me back down to earth - to ground me - to remind me that there was plenty of fish in the sea. But the sea is the swirling emotion that was my focus - I needed something hard to complete the circle. I needed land.
I gently touched the bundle to the appropriate sights on my body reciting:
With this release I return My feet to the earth and solid ground My heart to the earth and solid ground My body to the earth and solid ground My eyes to the earth and solid ground There will I heal There will I find my heart's desire.
The thing was done except for the final dramatic send off. I anointed my bundle with a little of the perfumed oil and jumped in my 14-year-old station wagon with 130,000 miles on the motor. My destination was the local dam. It never occurred to me at that time that this might also be the destination of several dozen fisherman.
I parked in the lot undaunted by the crowd and strode up to the highest point where I had hoped to give my prickly bundle a proper send off. I inhaled the cool breeze off the rushing water and let the sound calm me.
Just as I was about to launch I made the mistake of looking down and to my right.
There they stood - the fishermen. Dozens of them. Maybe hundreds of them. In hip boots and overhauls and baseball caps with their fancy rods. They were watching me. All of them. I was sure of it. Men. Legions of men. Not good this. One of those heart breakers, he was a fisherman. What would he think? A young woman on a cement ledge dropping something into the raging water. Just one woman with a broken heart and no place to go with such an awesome burden, but an old tradition of women that was known to soothe.
I couldn't do it. I chickened out. I imagined them running toward me - the lot of them- wanting to know what I was doing. What I was throwing into the water. Was I polluting? Did they care? How could they care about anything but catching their fish. I was simply too cowardly to find out.
On my way back to the car, I changed my mind. I heard rushing water as I traversed the cement steps back to the path and I realized that the same brown muddy liquid ran just below my feet. I leaned over carefully this time, out of view of the fisherman, hidden by a jutting piece of concrete.
"Perfect" I whispered to myself. "Perfect."
I pulled my badly written poem from my pocket and read it once again. I exhaled with the declaration, "I release you" and dropped my carefully prepared bundle into the rushing water.
Well. Sort of. I mean, not exactly. The fact is - it didn't make it to the water. As a matter of fact my supple green grape leaf with the red zig-zag stitches landed smack dab in the center of a large cement pylon that was jutting up out of the water. I blinked. I leaned over the concrete ledge staring at the pylon that held my pain captive. It lay there soundly- my mysterious bundle.
I had no idea what to do. No one had prepared me for such a mishap. There I stood. There it lay. I couldn't reach it. I couldn't move it. I couldn't push it or sweep it or otherwise whisk it away. I could only stare at it. It occurred to me that a witch worth her salt might be able to will it off and into the water. But being simply a broken-hearted woman who was beyond her wits and temporarily insane - I could only stare at it.
I left it then, wondering about its fate. What was to happen to the pain-ridden bundle wrapped in bitterness and sewn with rage? Would a sea gull carry it off? Would the wind send it mercifully into the raging foam? Would it lay there indefinitely? Would some curious observant human being spot it and wonder? Would they try to retrieve it with their rod and reel - just to see what might be sewn so carefully inside?
Who can say what's to come of anyone's pain and rage and bitterness. I like to think that I've left mine 15 miles away. I like to think I've given it over to the elements. Mother nature do as she will. I am only a broken-hearted witch and, after all, what's a witch to do??
Jude lives in Grand Rapids Michigan with her 9-year-old son and her 12-year-old Cairn Terrier. She is a professional in the field of quality assurance and a student of psychology and metaphysics. Writing is her primary tool for self -expression, her healing balm, and her way to connect with other strong creative women. She invites your dialogue at email@example.com