Do you hear their call? The night wandering spirits of the Witch Mother’s horde beckon me this time of year, as does she, calling me to dance with them. The spirits of the land join with the fallen leaves, celebrating the season of letting go. As the leaves release the tree, so do I cast off what binds. Finding freedom in shedding a form that no longer serves us. The Dance of Bones, where all is reduced to the soul and the entrapments of the material world removed, awaits.
Autumn: The Season of Death
I am a witch and my spirit is reborn with the winds that blow the leaves from the trees. Freeing us both from what no longer serves. Hekate calls to me on this breeze, bidding me come to her cave, that dark wet womb from which I can be reborn. Each autumn is my baptism into her sacred fire. I walk with the wind towards her, the breeze fueling my own fiery walk. Weaving truth from my fire, dancing the eternal one of Hekate’s Witches. Falling forward towards my partners in the dance. Did Persephone dance with the leaves and spirits as she returned to the Underworld?
Night Wandering Spirits and Spiritual Death
The night is rife with spirits now, from the wandering departed to the land sprites. My dreams are full of creatures, mythic and imagined. I crave these spirits. They are my soul’s elixir. I drink them in, and my wildness awakes. They speak of deathwalking, the leaving behind of my corporeal self to join them in the Dance of Bones. Twisting, shaking and spinning away until all that is left is the truth. Those leaves can only find their rebirth if they are willing to release the branch and enter their temporary death. Like me, they know we must let one form die to become all we are meant to be. Our embodiment is not our entirety. Releasing it frees our souls.
The Dance of Bones
What I embrace as the Dance of Bones to others, throughout history, has been the frightening Danse Macabre. The image of death as a dancing specter that can arrive at anytime and with no notice is found across times and cultures. Woven into this dance are the psychopomps, healers and spirit speakers who willingly two-stepped with the spirits associated with death. Today, I claim the title of witch as my ticket to this dance, but I often wonder if I’m filtering this through the lens of the same Christianity that reviled the Dance of Death.
Hekate and the Dance of Bones
Would it not be more sincere to shed their definitions, as I enter into the Bone Dance yet again? Can the modern witch exist without the comparison to that which fears us and we reject? My soul replies that my witchcraft reaches across the Christian Era to the primal source, the Witch Mother, Hekate. She is honored when we enter into the Dance of Bones. It is primal and eternal. Wild, beyond the restrictions of man. That is witch to me, and this is our season. The Dance of Bones is afoot in the falling leaves and the wandering spirits. It is time for spiritual death and dismemberment.
The Return of Our Departed Loved Ones
Musings about what I should grieve aside, I am not diminishing the suffering involved with dying and those left behind. The Danse Macabre is still feared by those who believe in the potential of eternal damnation. I tend to see the passing of embodiment as a loss, but not the end of a person’s existence. My beloved departed seem to come to me more often during the autumn. A chill in the room, a movement and then the knowing that my dad is with me.
Spiritual Death and Dismemberment: My Experiences
When the autumn winds start to blow, they bring with them the memories of the times that I’ve experienced the spiritual bone dance. There have been at least three times when I’ve had a complete death and dismemberment in the dreamworld. If you’ve had such a rebirth, you’ll know how horrible and beautiful they are. I find them difficult to write about because they are so personal. For me, these experiences always involve First Nations peoples, who some call American Indians. Once a powerful medicine woman came to me in my dreams, drawing out the shadow demon that had me bound. When she didn’t show up for our scheduled session the following day, I was bereft until I realized that she had already done her work with me.
Hekate Watches From Afar
Another time, a vicious hawk tore me to pieces. Each time, I’ve emerged battered but reborn. Hekate seems to watch these rituals from afar, waiting to step in until required, like I veer back towards the now dead former self. Emerging brings me back to my wild witch ways that speak truth to me. I don’t long for the deep rebirth of death and dismemberment, but I find myself craving the more comfortable dance with spirits, and of intentionally letting die what no longer serves.
Casting Off the Chains That Bind
My wild witch ways are tempered by the wisdom of experience. The call to the Dance of Bones with my fellow members of Hekate’s Horde must wait while I cast off the chains that have bound me. I take the key now manifested, unlocking myself from the past. The relationships, ways of being, and places that once served me, or perhaps never did, all released.
The Spirits of Circe and Medea
From my place at the crossroads of the Season of the Witch, I see that the things that brought me the most pain are my greatest blessings. These trials are bestowed by the Witch Mother herself as necessary tests as we move deeper into initiation. As she gave her ancient daughters challenges to prove their mettle, she grants me these boons dressed as banes. Circe had her time in isolation. Medea’s family was lost by her touch. Simaetha’s heart was crushed. The way of the witch was not meant to be easy. We walk a crooked journey, littered with the detritus of the shadow self.
Wild Witch Dancing
Here at the threshold of autumn, I behold the necessity of these tribulations. How else could true initiation be reached if I was only to wallow in the shallow pool of popular thinking? Oh, yes, positivity is important, but it denies the Dance of the Bones.
Our culture avoids the darkness, fearing our shadows, while I find my truth in them. Perhaps, like her ancient witches, I am not their kind. Like Circe and Medea, I am whole yet always divided between the spirit world and the corporeal. Marked, somehow, long before my birth into this particular life. Different. A wild witch dancing with bones and spirits. To me, those who aren’t similar are the “other,” not to be trusted. However, they are the ones who provide me with the challenges I must conquer in order to claim another of my Mother’s Keys. Wisdom comes with a price. Witchcraft exacts a toll. I would never have it any other way. The rebirth found through spiritual bone dancing is wild, indeed.
Home Among the Spirits, Not Humans
When I was younger, I tried at times to fit into their world. The purely mundane or the lightworking crowd. I learned so much, but I had to return to my truth. The price I paid for those lessons learned was high, indeed. How else would I have been granted entrance to Hekate’s Cave? I’ll be dancing with the bones and spirits this autumn whenever they call, casting off the work I love to reclaim my wild witchery. I am often asked about the “keys” to my success. The answer is that I was burned by the fires of others, and I learned to only walk in my own. Of course, this fire has to be directed into the discipline to do the work. The fire reveals to me what I need to burn away, from those who would steal my flames to others who seek to extinguish them. My faithful spirit ally works to remove such problems. My beloved botanicals soothe my soul while paving the way to the Dance of Bones.
Animal Spirits: The Midnight Deer and the Dragonfly
The animal companions visit me, from dragonfly to the midnight deer. They, too, feel the call of our Mother. I am never alone in my dance along this crooked path. At times I need to rest, but now I am called to the dance of my truth. Autumn is where it lives. In September’s rain, October’s wind, November’s chill, and December’s darkness. This is the Holy Darkness of Hekate. It’s no surprise that she comes to reclaim her children, calling them for the first time and yet again.
The Wild Witch and the Dance of Bones
The moon ascends from her primal cave,
And my feet twitch in excitement.
For this is the long-awaited call
Back to my soul’s home.
I become a wild witch once more.
With your winds of change,
Blowing me free of what has passed,
Dancing in the delight of freedom.
Spiralling joyfully towards the darkness that is my truth.
Spinning onwards to Hekate’s Cave,
The font of magick and mystery.
The spirits of the season join me and the leaves, in our delight,
Knowing deep in our souls that we are connected,
In our pursuit of the deeper truths.
Swirling wildness embraces me,
As I proclaim
My place among them.
Our dance calls forth the spirits,
Of the departed and the mighty,
Night wandering under the pale light of the moon,
Onwards, our steps in harmony,
Towards the crossroads where we shall pass through the threshold,
Into our Mistresses’ sacred cave,
Her warm embrace awaits.
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