I have the occasional direct conversation with The Powers that Be, that I call “Burning Bush Moments.” Conversing with Deities is pretty common among witchy folks, so it’s not that big a deal. Except for when it is, and those make for some spectacular stories. My most dramatic story happened back in 2014. Due to a series of unfortunate events, I was ignoring my witching work. My head was so far up my own ass that when Aphrodite answered my call, I clearly missed it. So She had to ratchet up the theatrics to get my attention. That *particular* burning bush moment *did* involve more than the normal amount of fire.
Gather ’round, witches! Let me tell you the story of that time Aphrodite blew up my altar!
Be Careful What You Ask For
So, each year at Imbolc, I dedicate to the exploration of a skill or thealogical (2) concept as part of my Great Work of Magick. In 2014, I asked the Goddesses of Love to help me better understand “Perfect Love.”
I chose this because on the exact day of Yule that year, the man I was dating at the time proposed that we hand-fast the next Beltane. From Yule until Imbolc, I asked what my next Great Work should entail, and “Divine Love” was delivered over and over again. What does “Perfect love and trust” really mean? If the married couple is a microcosm embodiment of the Divine Lovers, how do we proceed in our human union as a reflection of that inner divinity?
That was also the year that this long-time, archetype-loving panentheist (1) took a chance, and in full ceremony stood at the Imbolc altar and invited any of the Goddesses of Love, Grace and Beauty to aid me. There were bells and smells, things were burned, offerings offered…I invoked Her by many names…and was smugly pleased with myself. I honestly hoped I was in for a year of Valentine’s days, cosmic hugs, and the sensuous delights of Her rose garden.
On the next full moon after Imbolc, on the Friday of Valentine’s day, my betrothed and I worked a Love Spell to bring our lives together. Then, as the moon turned to waning again, we worked to remove all obstacles, should our marriage be for the highest good of all involved, harming none.
Within three weeks of that spell the handfasting was canceled. By Beltane, he’d asked me to set him completely free. It was the easiest, most respectful break up I’ve ever had. It was just OVER.
That Time Aphrodite Blew Up Her Altar
My head knew it was for the best, but my heart was still left reeling over the sudden loss. Throughout May and June I ignored all things witchcraft while binge-watching the show detective-show Castle and drinking too much wine. I doubt I even stepped foot in my altar room.
Everything having to do with the Love Spell you see in that Imbolc Altar picture above was hidden underneath, behind the heavy cabinet doors that click locked with a thud. An altar is one’s outward representation of their inner spiritual life. Just like my spirit, my altar was neglected, dusty, and dark. The last offerings left there were dried and decaying…we were both in pitiful shape.
Until one week in July, when The Powers, had to go to drastic measures to get my attention. Mind you, I couldn’t say what subtle cues may have been going on around me, because I was too busy feeling sorry for myself to notice. However, I did still have to feed my children, so at least I was making dinner. The Gods work with what they’ve got, I guess:
Monday: On my ceramic top stove, I boil up a pot of macaroni and cheese for dinner. No mishaps, nothing unusual. But when I go back to clean up the kitchen later, I find there is a big crack running through the burner eye. Just what I need.
Tuesday: On a different burner eye, I boil up a pot of spaghetti, and throw on a jar of sauce. No mishaps, nothing unusual. But hours later, I find ANOTHER large crack running through THAT burner. My luck sucks; the universe hates me.
Wednesday: Assuming that the stove electronics are malfunctioning, I fire up the wall-oven (which is on the opposite side of the wall from my altar) and start prepping some homemade pizzas. My kids are 10 and 12, and are doing their homework in different rooms.
About 5 minutes into the preheat…
We all come running toward the explosive noise, and meet in the middle with hackles raised. I turn on the lights in the dark altar room expecting to see one of my bookshelves toppled over and a cat scrambling, but there are no cats in there, either.
The altar cabinet doors are open, and the rug in front of it is covered by it’s contents. Sand, salt, and the broken shards of many glass and crystal candle holders, offering dishes, and love-spell remains are scattered over the rug. It looked like the cabinet opened its mouth and projectile vomited across the room.
We are in shock, of course. Nothing about this computes, but because my beliefs at that time didn’t really include the radical power and agency of the Goddess, I rationalized it away. It must have been my naughty cats somehow.
“Mom mode” kicks in. I send the children out of the room so no one cuts their feet on the glass. I don’t touch anything. I just return to the kitchen in a fluster so I can get those pizzas in the oven. But my adrenaline is flowing, and I’m processing through what I’ve just seen. While mechanically laying out pepperoni and mushrooms, I’m churning myself deeper into a trance state for the first time in months.
Into the oven the pizzas go. I’m zoned in, and the thought suddenly pops up that I need to feed the kids some fruit. Without pause, I snap up my knife and a fresh, beautiful, Gala apple from the fruit bowl. In a mindless, swift action, I slice through it transversely. I never slice apples I mean to eat around the middle. This is something I only do in a Mabon rite, because it reveals the pentacle pattern of seeds at its heart. It falls open in my hands. The inner flesh of this “perfect” apple is rotten entirely, skin to skin. As though the Evil Queen in Snow White, just handed me a curse.
A lightning bolt shocks through me, blasting my consciousness outward. In the same way that every “burning bush moment” ever felt, my entire being is ringing and tingling, both compressed and floating. Time stops; the outside world falls to black. Only that which I’m meant to see is highlighted. HER voice tones loudly throughout my mind, loud as a gong, clear as crystal: THINGS ARE NOT AS THEY SEEM.
Things are Not as They SeemI snap back to the present, and suck in a rush of breath as though released from a vice. I flip the apple halves over in my hands; no blemishes, no bruises, no holes, just gorgeous waxy red apples. Yet, absolutely brown and yucky within. That ain’t right! I drop them and rush back to the altar room.
Now, you’ll remember that I’ve spent my summer watching a detective show, so this time I approached the room like a crime scene. Both of the cabinet doors are open wide, as if blown outward from the inside. These doors have metal hardware that you have to pull on very hard in order to open them. No cat could get in there without opposable thumbs and significant strength. There are shards of glass thrown in a “spray pattern” at least 6 feet into the room. So even if a cat tried to climb into an open cabinet and accidentally knocked the contents onto the floor, it is unlikely that they could throw the pieces that far into the room.
But more importantly, after I got a flashlight and looked into the back of the cabinet, I found that there was broken glass all the way to back wall. Not everything was damaged, some contents sat there unscathed. However, it looked like a foot wide swath of the top shelf was cleared out…as though something in the back forced it’s way out, and blasting anything in it’s way.
I look down to the floor immediately below this cleared shelf, and sitting perfectly unharmed, pretty as you please, is the consecrated “fire candle” in its glass cup. The very same one that I’d used during my Imbolc dedication when I’d called on the Goddesses of Love, Beauty and Grace, to teach me about Perfect Love. Moreover, I now remember that the “fire” candle I’d used that day was the half-burned remains of one of Dorothy Morrison’s “Red Stilettos” candles that is famous for conjuring up “wild hot jungle sex.”
I’d worked that new-love spell long ago, and it led to meeting the guy I’d just broken up with. That spell worked so fast that I’d never finished burning it, and had saved it for a rainy day. Another lightning bolt hit me.
I look at the mess and see that it is a blast in the shape of a cone, and the point of that cone is this consecrated Passion/Fire candle. The “Draw the Lover that is correct for me” Spell candle, that I later used to focus my Divine Will while I called on the Goddess of Love, had just blasted it’s way out of my altar cabinet.
Fire, Is that you?
I pick the candle up very carefully. I turn my attention inward and lean into that place where The Voice came from, and timidly say Hello? I hear you. You have my attention. Is this a message about elemental Fire in some way?
That’s when my daughter’s scream slices through the house: BELLA’S TAIL IS ON FIRE!…. I turn and run towards her room…as the hallway stretches too long…and the smell of burning cat hair hits me…
By the time I got to her, the crises was over. My daughter had a candle lit on her desk as she was doing her homework. Our fluffiest cat jumped up and caught her tail on fire. When she screamed, Bella ran for her perch in the window beside the curtains. Brave daughter didn’t even pause to think, she just grabbed her tail at the base and shucked it upward, extinguishing the flames with her bare hand. Though Bella’s glorious plume of fluff was blackened and singed, miraculously neither of them were hurt in any way. We all stand there panting and staring at each other in awe.
Hellloooo FIRE! I’ll take that as a YES!
Moral of the Story:
From that moment of recognition onward, the theatrics stopped. Once I got back to The Work of my witchcraft, it was back to business as usual, though it would be a very hard few months of revelations to come. With more active divination, I figured out that it was the Goddess Aphrodite specifically who answered my call. I can honestly say that entering into relationship with Her that summer was the true beginning of being a priestess. The following April 4th – Aphrodite’s feast day – I took official vows to her service.
At the time, I wrote: “Despite all of my intentions, when Aphrodite answered my call and made herself known to me, I was shocked by how visceral and *real* She was. Her entrance was as subtle as a Lady Gaga concert, and in one fell swoop I was suddenly far more polytheistic than previously indicated! SHAZAM!”
Though I didn’t recognize it at the time, after Imbolc, She was working diligently to teach me the lessons of Unconditional Divine Love – by first revealing the ways in which conditional love was hurting me. Once I identified each lesson, it would stop and another one would begin. I likened it to being dragged through the thorns of Her rose garden. From that very intense working relationship emerged Aphrodite’s Thealogy of Perfection and the Four Rules of Witchcraft for Personal Sovereignty. These now form the foundation stones of my life.
I also learned that it is either unwise – or exactly the right choice – to re-purpose Wicked Witch Mojo candles made by Dorothy Morrison. <cackle> However, the happy ending here is that after Lammas passed, I re-lit this Passion/Fire candle once again and opened myself back up to the possibility of loving relationship. Within two days, the man of my dreams asked me out – that was over four years ago, and today we are engaged to be married.
Witchcraft can be a wild ride, but once you’ve set your Great Work of Magick into motion, pay attention and go with the flow. It’s like a roller coaster: once the lap bar is down and the coaster rolls off the platform, there is no changing your mind, nor stopping the ride. Until it reaches its natural conclusion, that is. Wherever the tracks take you, they can be trusted to be in alignment with Highest Divine Will, even if it doesn’t make complete sense at the moment. A little faith in the process can carry you to amazing places.
- Panentheism is a thealogical term that defines Deity as being both inherent within the stuff of nature, as well as having a transcendent consciousness that manifests in a variety of forms. There is a synergistic effect where Deity is greater than the sum of all the parts of nature.
- “Thealogy (a neologism derived from Ancient Greek θεά meaning “Goddess” and λόγος, -logy, meaning “study of”) is generally understood as a discourse that reflects upon the meaning of Goddess (thea) in contrast to God (theo). As such, it is the study and reflection upon the feminine divine from a feminist perspective.” Wikipedia