The Bad Witch and the Monkey-Bird

Holy shit! I never told you about the monkey-bird.

I bought the house I live in in 2004. There is almost an acre of land behind the useful part of my yard which I’ve been gradually clearing since last March; with the onset of fall weather and the completion of the chicken-coop, I’ve had more luck then over summer. In 04, the whole yard was a jungle of maidenhair ferns, crepe-myrtles, and pampas grass which we reclaimed have over the last eight years.

But when we first moved in, there was something out there.

I was convinced that there was a monkey in my backyard. I mean, I knew there wasn’t, but still.

There was an eerie sound that came from the yard: “ogh, ogh, ogh, oooooooooh!” And the ape-like howling and whooping was unlike anything my Chicagoian ears were used to hearing. I mean, the summers I spent in North Alabama were mostly full of bug, frog and air conditioner sounds with the occasional “moo.”[1] The sounds were also accompanied by loud crashes in the trees, which would shimmy under the weight of something bounding from branch to branch.

Bigger than a squirrel.

Flying opossum?

Maybe, I teased, it was a monkey.

And, of course, freaked myself out.

It didn’t help that The Bad Husband had moved to Nebraska for work, leaving me and three babies in this big-ol’ house all alone.

After six months or longer, I ran to the back-porch every time I heard it. I only ever saw the crashing and heard the oogha-whooping.

Until one day.

I had been outside clearing what-ever-it-was-I-was-clearing-that-week so I could put in an herb garden.

Though the creek-bed had run dry the month before, due to the new construction about a mile away, I had seen lots of animals looking for the water that used to be there. I was never surprised to pull up a handful of weeds and find that I had a frog as well.

On this day, I sat on my garden bench to rest my back which had grown weary of bending and pulling. I looked out over the area I had cleared and imagined the herbs I would grow there. Exhausted, I “zoned out” a bit and visualized until I could smell tarragon, coriander, basil. I heard the flapping of feathers and felt a slight breeze on my face. But this wasn’t unusual for when I was in the zone, so I didn’t startle.

Until, that is, I opened my eyes.

Not six feet away was my monkey-bird; at long-last I got to see it out of the trees. Staring at me was a curious Great Blue Heron. It buzzed a guttural sort-of glugging sound and took a spindly-legged step forward. I’m not sure I breathed. Just remembering the boldness of that bird makes my head swim.

Then, it opened its huge wings, squatted down and leapt into the air, crashing in the trees as it flew off.

Though I have seen them while on vacation (it seems whenever I get close to water, I have some sort of encounter with a Heron), I haven’t seen a Great Blue Heron in my yard for a few years now. Until today.

Whenever I go out to my chicken run, I get the feeling that there is a bigger bird looking at me from “the back-backyard.” My fear was that it was the Redtail-Hawk that hangs out around my house from time to time. (It has even perched on the bannister of the small balcony of my temple-room for hours at a time—just watching me.) But today, my monkey-bird came back. S/he grabbed a piece of fence and stared, cocking her head from side to side, and flew off—going south.

The wind said, “Beware. She will transform you.”

I have a very open relationship with the spirit-world and have no problem communicating with and recognizing guardian spirits and elementals. I’ve even run up against a few other things that I understood, even if I didn’t have a proper name for them. But whenever a specific deity contacts me, I feel pretty dense—like they have to drop a ton of bricks on me to get my attention. As a youngon’, Mhór-Ríoghain grabbed me by the wrist and said, “c’mon.” Even though I wasn’t particularly Celtic (only in that I identify strongly with my maternal-grandfather’s Scot origin).

Then, when my life went to Hel four years ago, she moved off. Maybe to make room for others. I spun my wheels looking for a mentor, looking for a deity-archetype to whom I could look for guidance, looking for a new path upon which to set my feet.

In the spring, I thought it was Hestia. And, it was—only not. I mean, she had a thing or three to teach me, but it was not a long-term relationship; I knew it from the start. I also knew that Megaera was only around to do a job and then move along. Someone suggested Ceredwin was being friendly last June.

Now I have a year of a red-tail hawk staring at me, a heron re-clanging around, a thousand-pound boar rooting at me (this is a story from the fair where I met the timberwolves), remembrances of my unborn twin, a-lost-and-found amber necklace, a strong attraction to Seiðr, and a new “chair.”

 

Freyja and Herons. Sander J. Nystrøm, 1893.

 

Freyja and Hildisvíni

 

Freyja in the High Seat

 

Freyja and Brísingamen

Freyja Morphing into a Falcon/Hawk

Freyja as Sorceress

 

Freyja.

Obvs.

To quote The Bad Son: “Derp.”

To quote The Bad Baby: “-.-”

Because of her associations with death, Freyja is bridge or of connection between us and our ancestors; and as queen of the Valkyries, Freyja has a fierce side as well as a protective side, just like an alpha wolf: Frejya is a Goddess of raw power.

Now if I could just get some cats to pull a chariot . . .

Almost a year ago, I wrote an Open Letter to Polyphanes, my fellow-blogger and adored friend. I had told him about the instructions my agathos gave me: “Learn to make mead.” Learning to make mead sent me on a quest that was not unlike unraveling my sweater and then trying to figure out what I was gonna wear. Embracing my ancestry was familiar—something I had always done fairly easy. Embracing ancestral “doings” was a little more sticky (on account o’all the honey involved). There are issues of mead-making, of course—and then there are issues of shell-shaking, cave-dwelling, hexe-crafting, pow-wowing, high-seating, fruit-canning, pipe-smoking, spirit-speaking, bagpiping, chicken-raising, moonshining, butter-churning, and cotton-picking. What tradition answers that call? (I’ll be able to tell you my answer before Yule.)

Embracing my ancestors’ deities is going to be even more of a problem. I’ve always embraced Anglo-Heathen ethics—but neither Ásatrú nor Vanatru speak to me as clearly as I want my religion to. So I invented a term for myself about a year ago; this I feel in my bonzes.[2] Like a lot of traditions, it considers pantheonic “gods” and “goddesses” to be more akin to “deified ancestors” and spiritual intercessors than creator-gods, so I can be friends with Freyja without extra Odinic baggage.

Depending on which way the birds fly, I’ll fill you in on what I can without breaking any Harpocratic rules.

All in good time, they say—just like the materialization of an ancient chronicle.

I’ll be in touch . . .

B, Q, 93,

TBW


[1] Climate control with a chance of meatballs.

[2] A longer definition will soon follow.

Some New Baubles and Things to Share

Pimping again.

I came across Wane Wyrds not long ago via The Pagan Pages Blog Hop and really liked the way Cena explained some of the misconceptions about Vanatru. I liked it so well, that I thought I’d share her post, “Misconceptions about Vanatru: What it is and what it isn’t,” with you.

And I’ve also enjoyed several well-spent hours reading/looking at Donald L. Engstrom-Reese’s work at Walking In Beauty, where he defines Queer Spirit for a Pagan community which is, in my opinion, far too hung up on binaries for its own good. I especially like this page where he offers some terms and definitions.

I’ll have a few more to add in a few weeks as I fill you in on my new group: Ulfarnir. I’m thinkin’ maybe they might need their own page.

Which reminds me–I had the great pleasure to meet some real Timberwolves yesterday and talk with the woman who takes care of them. (“You don’t train a wild animal,” she reminded me, “you work with its instincts rather than against them.”) It was an amazing experience and I learned some valuable things. Therefore, I plan to go back and revise my post on wolves to include what I learned. Stop by and see it in a day or so.

I always tell you that I’ll get back to this subject or that subject in another post–sometimes I forget or just get sidetracked. If there was something I said I’d tell you and I haven’t, drop me a reminder. I plan to run through the last few posts and gather up the stragglers when I have a minute; until then, I’ll follow your cues.

You’ll also notice that I’ve added a button for “Heathens Against Hate.” Go poke them.

I hope you dig the new layout. It seems that the more longwinded of my posts can scroll on-and-on, so I wanted a broader middle column for ya.

And, as I’m always up for suggestions, I took a loyal reader’s advice and added a tip-jar. I weighed the decision and looked at a lot of others’ opinions (like this one). In the end, I figured–as a minister, writing at The Files is part of my job. All of the contributions go toward supporting the things I do in the Pagan community. Why would I shortchange my community of some much needed financial support? Besides, some of the blogs I respect most have a tip-jar. I reckon it’s done. If I’ve made you laugh, made you cry, pissed you off enough to make you do something productive, or just given you an idea to reflect on for a bit, consider contributing. (It will show up as Open Path Sanctuary & Templum Gnostica, the legal brainchild behind all the pixie dust.) All of the bells and whistles I am adding to the Pagan community depend on the support of readers and enthusiasts like you.

As ever, I encourage you to go visit the folks on my blogroll. And if I have been remiss in including your blog or if you have a suggestion for a Bad Blog for me to add, drop me a line (abadwitch@yahoo.com).

Blessings, Quarks, and 93!

Ehsha