On my way down to the creek today I saw two spiders courting. They were hanging on a single thread, and they were both playing it, like a pair of violinists on one instrument. The lady spider hung below, upside down, her abdomen large and patterned with the skeleton stripes that mark October for me. I didn’t know that all this time, when I saw the giant, round, skeleton marked garden spiders on their shining webs, it was a girls’ club. The male spider was skinny, rusty orange, smaller in diameter, and he was positioned above her, reaching for her, ever so slowly. He was plucking the strand she hung from, using more than two legs, fast plucks in a complicated pattern... A virtuoso. She plucked back. He inched closer, reached out a very long front leg and placing it a fraction of a millimeter from hers. She must have curled her upper lip, because he snatched it back. But not for long. The other front leg, and scooting closer, and then back, and then again, until she sighed, or uncrossed her legs, or wafted some pheromones at him and he pounced and she whipped her upper body toward him and he plummeted, dropping on a thread six inches straight down in less than a second.
Oh, well. The course of true love…
A friend and I did love spells last night. She is far to the North of me, we cannot cast the circle together in person, but she is a very amazing and beautiful witch and also ready for love. So we decided to do it even though we are far apart, to at least begin it together, over the phone.
I heard about this spell from another friend (who got it from the lovely and amazing Phoenix Oatfield.) My friend tried it and met the man who was everything on her list. She had taken the grief bath with black walnut hulls (she used powder, no hulls to hand.) She cried and let go of all the bad loves, the old ones, the ones killed by fear and anger and wound…
Oh wait. That was me.
At first, I didn’t feel a lot. My Northern pal and I had cast the circle together on the phone, and called in all the elemental forces to help out with this letting go and calling in that we had signed up for. We grounded together, and called in the elements and also Aphrodite for obvious reasons and Apollo for willingness to get what we want and those ancestors of ours who knew long and great love. I asked for the human ones, particularly my Aunt Mabel, who shocked the family by marrying her first cousin for love, and also the animal ancestors and the elemental ones, who would, I hoped, spread the magic through the webs of the wild…And she called in the spirits of the plants who would be helping us, since this is a pretty herbal spell. And we wished each other luck and good magic and promised to check in on the other side and then I looked at my bathtub, surrounded by nineteen candles and two jars of crow feathers and one really big raven primary feather and the broom my friend gave me for my birthday and the ancestor amulet that I made last weekend and I got in.
At first I kind of sat there in my black bath water – and it was black, Dude. (You should see the tub today. It looks like I rinsed the Mesozoic era off last night.) I sat there in the tub. My friend who recommended this spell had described this part as a sort of wailing, crying and maybe even rending of hair kind of experience, but I just… sat there. I wasn’t rending, or feeling any need to. Which felt like a failure. You know… I mean if you are sitting in a black bathtub of grief water, shouldn’t there be some drama?
But words are my friends. So I started talking out loud, about the loves gone wrong, and the thing from my childhood and then that other thing..
But sometimes words are a barrier. (Also, I had had two glasses of red wine before the spell, which is bad form. I realize I mention red wine quite a bit, by the way. I see that. But back to the bath…) So I stopped talking and just started letting the feelings out as noises. And then some more… And lo! There was keening. And rocking. And keening. This went on for some time.
Until it stopped.
I was hot and coated in walnut dust and sweaty and did I mention hot? The candles flickered against the white tiles, the black water dripped down my neck.
(The feathers were inscrutable.)
And I noticed that I felt sort of encased. Like I had a shell around me, an exoskeleton that kept me separate and apart and numbed the fuck out.
So I asked Raven to come and peck that shit off me. He himself did not manifest in my bath, but I suppose that’s why he’d already given me the feather, which is about 14 inches long including a heavy white quill and I used that mother to carve a seam in the shell, down the middle of my back, under my root and up my belly and over my heart, my scalp and down the back of my neck, the quill, scratching into that shell and breaking it open. I peeled it off like a reptile (Thank you reptile ancestors! Okay, reptile cousins. I do realize that I don’t have any direct reptile ancestry. Although on very cold mornings in my very cold bedroom when it seems hard to believe that my mammalian skills are fully functioning, I do wonder.)
Anyway, I shed that fucker.
I peeled it off my left shoulder and down the arm. It was tight, bendy, but cohesive. I pulled it off my left arm and wrist, rolled it down the left side of my body and let it dissolve into the water. Then the right side.
I stood there, dripping, peeled, raw. A little new.
I brushed off any last bits with my trusty witches broom. (Thank you, Nash!) And then I pulled the plug. I did not use a chant like my pal, which involved “Pain” and “Going down the Drain,” even though I thought it was very cool. I tried it and it didn’t feel right in my mouth. But I did shed my skin, to let love begin…
Then I went out into my living room to do the love part of the spell.