Now is the darkyear. I observed the change-of-suns as I have for the last decade, spending my time meditating on the exchange of light to dark and dark to light twice a year, marveling at the glory and wonder of the seasonal changes, making exciting plans and grieving what was lost. An Cailleach, the hag of winter, the stoney blue-skinned, brittle-boned owl in the frost, carved from darkness, clutching in her hands the cold sun, she rides now. She is the bride of winter, and I observe her movement with feasting, drinking, missing my loved ones and honoring the finality that permeates the early autumn air. I also welcomed the king of the dead, of harvest and hunt; now's the time when the dark host rides in the wind and the night lead by the Horned One, wild and shrieking. Between a cauldron of bones and a cornucopia of gathered harvest, stands always the witch, readied for the change of seasons. We lit our candles, we drank our mead and recited The Song of Lugus and Rosemerta, burned a wicker effigy in the bone pot and reveled in that warm, happy feeling you get when death moves around you.
I spent much of the last few weekends replenishing my stock with this years harvest. Most of the time I keep sal negro, red dust, brick dust, ghost dust, sal de mar, orris root spice, white bone spice and polvo de sangre (made with real blood) among other dusts, powders and salts; some for sigil drawing, others for more practical hands on magic. Each different kind of dust requires entirely different conditions for their creation, sometimes it takes months to prepare just one vial full of a spice, but the results are well worth it; when the bones are rubbed red and the black circle is drawn, it is well worth the effort. My oils from the summer didn't work out so well, but the weeping birch-sap and honey amber incense I made smells like heaven baking in a sunbeam. My oak gall ink turned out black as night, thick and smelling of forest and the shade under roots.
Around this time of year, different people or branches of family ask me to come over and perform blessings. The spirits are "acting up", so they call me. I show up with my kit; powders, philters, dusts and spices, keys, oracles, candles-- tools of all kind, rolled up into my travel bag. Usually the family plies me with wine and smoke to get me to leave my hermitage, and in exchange I cross the house in black dust, bind it in red dust, circle it in white dust, cross the windows, bind the doorways, seal the wood-stove, hearth and chiminea, bury the blessed nails and break the old spell bottles. To drive away restless spirits; a bitter root smoke, to bring peace; palo santo, then sage to bless every living or non living soul within. I sit alone with the dead, poor wine into basins carved from years of Seattle rain the foundations of the big family house, share honeyed whiskey cakes and whatever else I'm asked to procure. My craft is far different from my mom's medicine, my sister's healing magic, my tia's voodoo, or auntie's oraciones, and I serve a specific function I suppose, which comes in handy when the spirits get restless. If it were as "simple" as purification or warding bad dreams, ma or the aunties can handle it, but when people start getting nervous, they call me. Usually I just serve as seer for my family, their friends and extended relations of my own, but between Last Harvest and samhuinn I get busy; the wine starts pouring and I have too much fun dancing with the dead. When the land slows down and the air grows cold, I seem to truly come alive.