A Dark Red Moon
On the dark moon I thrice cleansed my death-filled home with sandalwood incense and smudge of native red cedar, rocky mountain juniper, and western hemlock in preparation for the night’s sacred rites. The Bee Priestess arrived as the sun began to sink behind the mountains and together we feasted and drank tea, talking and laughing while I carved red oak moons. We walked through my neighbourhood after dark, past the heritage homes with their night gardens and warm inviting scenes in the windows.
We cleared our heads in the dark of night under the starry, moonless sky, I picked a sprig of hemlock, and we headed back to my home and its temple room of bones, feathers, horns, skulls, and tapestries. We smudged each other with evergreen smoke and a bird wing from our dark hair to the soles of our feet to be pure and show respect to the spirits. I lit the candles on the altar and a piece of charcoal for burning incense. Out came my bear drum and yew beater and her antler-handled rattle.
I brought out my basket of spinning and embroidery projects and unravelled handspun thread from my spindle, breaking off three lengths and naming them… on the dark moon we unbind and banish threads we desire removed. Thread is a language most women speak. Everyone you ever meet and touch ties threads to you, it is the web that connects us all. Sometimes we are covered in threads all singing joy, but sometimes threads sing sorrow and it’s time to burn them away so they don’t hurt your spirit.
What we do in this world is reflected in the other – this is the basis of sympathetic magic. My friend worked in the otherworld with the spirits while I worked in this world, standing before my altar, burning the lengths of thread and asking for help from my own spirits. Wool and silk smell like burning hair. I put my incense of cedar leaves, sagebrush, and lodgepole pine resin on the charcoal between burning each length to purify the air, banishing the thread and its energies. A simple unbinding, our spirit familiars carrying the threads back to their owners after they burned.
My friend found one of them had left something unpleasant behind and performed an extraction on me, rattling around my body, and sucking it out into a bowl of the waters of seven springs from the mountain. I laughed aloud when it came out and we ran the bowl to the end of the hall, out the door and onto the balcony to pour it into the garden under a tree – laughing all the way. She told me laughter is the normal reaction she’s experienced. It sounds fun, but extraction is serious shamanic work and I was glad to have a trained and experienced friend helping me out. We cleaned up with my homemade Florida water, burned more incense, and brought out the tarot cards. Life is very busy, but balanced for us both right now – it’s good to be reminded things are lovely.
If you follow Nikiah’s blog and other works you know she has a love for red crescent moons. I’ve wanted to make a set of moon blocks since I saw them at the night market. I sent her home with a set for divination carved from oak, stained red, oiled, and rubbed with beeswax in thanks for her help and the sunflowers and delicious chocolates she’d brought (chocolate is important for proper ritual – her words).