Book Of Blackbirds: A Witch’s Tale

Once upon a time there lived a young, naive little witch in her wee cottage by the lane that ran through the middle of a shallow glen. Though she had studied her craft for some while and so considered herself very knowledgeable, the truth is she still had a whole lot to learn about how real magic works in this world.

One day above the little witch’s house dark clouds gathered in the sky and it began to rain. The little witch looked up and happily blessed the rain for it’s nourishing goodness, and felt grateful that the flowers and grass and animals and birds would all be treated to a nice refreshing drink of water. This rain is a blessing, she thought.  It rained the whole live-long day, and on into the night.

The next morning the rain continued falling, and again the young witch told herself we need this rain, it is a gift from the sky gods above. Still the rain poured on. The entire sky was like a sheet of cold, dark, impenetrable black iron, blocking out the sun. As far as the little witch could see from horizon to horizon, there was nothing but rain and more rain. The wind howled, the lightning flashed, and the thunder rumbled ominously.

"Storm in the Mountains" by Albert Bierstadt.  From WikiMedia.
“Storm in the Mountains” by Albert Bierstadt. From WikiMedia.

The third day dawned with still no relief. By now the garden was quite soggy, and the ditch beside the lane threatened to overrun its banks. But the rain did not abate, and the young witch was becoming very cross. She hadn’t been able to get outside for 3 whole days, and she wondered how the little bunny family that lived under the forsythia by the chain link fence was getting along in all of this.

If this keeps up she thought, why, the rain will come right up here into my parlour! By nightfall the incessant deluge of rain was now making the young witch angry. I don’t have to put up with this she thought, I will cast a spell and force this horrid rain to subside! What good is knowing magic after all if I can’t bend reality to do my will?

Filled with the confidence of one who should know better but sadly doesn’t, the witch gathered some yellow candles (for sunshine) and placed them on her altar. She lit the candles, beat on her drum, and in her most forceful voice recited her spell demanding that the rain pay attention to her and cease this very instant! She would show that old rain cloud who was the boss here, for she knew she had magical powers and wasn’t afraid to use them.

Just then with a bright flash of lightning and ear-bursting crash of thunder the heavens opened wide, and it was like the entire sea gushed forth from the sky all at once, right atop her little cottage. The wind whistled through the cracks and snuffed out the yellow candles. Bits of wood and detritus washed down the lane and began to pile up next to the chain link fence, creating a natural dam. The ditch beside the lane overflowed.

As the water began creeping across her yard ever closer to the front door of her cottage, the little witch became worried. “What was I thinking to try and make this thunderstorm do my bidding?” she now pondered, “I’ve surely made it angry!” And with that she bundled up as best she could and went out into the storm to unblock the fence so the water spilling over the ditch could flow through and would not continue filling the huge pond now forming in her yard.

Eventually, with much struggling and muttering and slipping down in the wet grass and mud, she was able to remove enough limbs and trash away from the fence so that the water once more could flow under it and down the lane, rather than up into her cottage. She managed to do this just in time too, before the flood reached the forsythia bush where the bunny family lived.

By now of course she was thoroughly soaked down to the very marrow, her drenched hair dripping into her face as she slogged back inside the cottage. Once there, she stood in an ever widening puddle of drips looking back out the door as the waters ever-so-slowly receded out of the yard and down the lane. And then, just like that, the rain stopped. Because there was still so much of it all racing down, it took some bit of time for all that water to get back into the ditch and flow away down the lane.

The next day the sun shone brightly, the birds were singing, and the little bunny family was back to frolicking in the yard, chewing on the lush leaves and grasses which had been emboldened by the rain to stand up so green and tall in the sun. The young witch was pleased that the fierce storm had not done any more damage than it had, though she did have to spend several more hours raking up the sticks and debris from her yard which the flood had left in its wake.

How foolish was I to think that my will could stand up against that of a powerful elemental Thunderstorm! She thought. And so she (that is, I, as this is a true story and the young naive witch was me) learned a very important lesson that day: Magic always works better by cooperation than by force. In fact, trying to force magic can backfire on us with disastrous consequences.

Image by Skeeze via Pixabay.  CC0 License.
Image by Skeeze via Pixabay. CC0 License.

The young witch was thankful that the Thunderstorm elemental had spared her house – this time. And she brought to mind also how the best way to talk to butterflies is to stand very still and let them land on your finger. Butterflies are somewhat vain as we know, and if you praise them and tell them how beautiful their wings are they will slowly open and close them to let you have a nice look. However if you chase them and try to catch them in a net and pin them to a board, they will flutter away on the breeze and escape you.

I have heard some important people espouse that you must use your will to control things by magic, as if the world doesn’t already have a mind and a will of its own, thank you very much! But this is the human way of doing, and not a very good way to accomplish anything. The very First Principle of Faerie Magic is that Everything Is Connected. This means you, and I, and the bunnies and the flowers and the grass and the rain, too. We get much more from cooperation that we ever can by trying to force our will onto things that don’t appreciate being forced.

So our spells shall be those of cooperation, respectfully asking the goddesses and gods and spirits and rabbits and other animals and elementals and faeries and the Moon for what we desire. We set our intention towards those things we wish to accomplish by magic, and we cooperate with the world around us so that our wishes may come to us. In this we are careful to be exceedingly clear what we want so there be no room for error. We wait patiently for our desires to become real, knowing that the world responds much more readily to kindness and gratitude than to pretentious demands from overly presumptuous humans.

* * *

And so the little witch grew old and learned more about all the ways there are to flow together with the world in cooperation to make real magic and bring about change, and she lived more or less happily ever after (so far).  Though she eventually learned that just the right combination of piano keys and meditation on a hot summer day can sometimes bring a local light shower, she never again, not ever, tried to tell an Elemental what to do.

The End

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