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About the Author Thuri Calafia (Oregon) is an ordained minister and Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, and creator of the Circles system and Circles School. She is actively involved in the Pagan community in the Pacific Northwest, teaching Circles classes and a variety of workshops, and presenting public rituals, Witches’ Afternoon Teas (fundraisers for local Pagan organizations and charities), and other priestess work as needed. She lives with her beloved Labrador, Miss Alyssa Ramone.

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Thuri Calafia

A Witch’s Circle of Fire

A Course of Study in the Old Religion

Llewellyn Publications Woodbury, Minnesota


Dedicant: A Witch’s Circle of Fire © 2008 by Thuri Calafia. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever, including Internet usage, without written permission from Llewellyn Publications, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. First Edition First Printing, 2008 Book design by Steffani Sawyer Editing by Brett Fechheimer Cover art © 2008 by PhotoDisc Cover design by Ellen Dahl Interior illustrations © 2008 Chris Down Llewellyn is a registered trademark of Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. Calafia, Thuri, 1959– Dedicant : a witch’s circle of fire / Thuri Calafia. — 1st ed. p. cm. — (A course of study in the old religion series ; #1) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-7387-1328-1 1. Witchcraft. 2. Spiritual life. I. Title. BF1566.C2645 2008 133.4'3—dc22 2008030053 Llewellyn Worldwide does not participate in, endorse, or have any authority or responsibility concerning private business transactions between our authors and the public. All mail addressed to the author is forwarded but the publisher cannot, unless specifically instructed by the author, give out an address or phone number. Any Internet references contained in this work are current at publication time, but the publisher cannot guarantee that a specific location will continue to be maintained. Please refer to the publisher’s website for links to authors’ websites and other sources. Llewellyn Publications A Division of Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. 2143 Wooddale Drive, Dept. 978-0-7387-1328-1 Woodbury, Minnesota 55125-2989, U.S.A. www.llewellyn.com Printed in the United States of America


Forthcoming Books by Thuri Calafia Initiate: A Witch’s Circle of Water Adept: A Witch’s Circle of Earth


Acknowledgments First and foremost, I would like to thank my matron goddess Artemis, for being a loving and clear guide to me all my life, and for pushing me forward relentlessly on this sacred Path. Second, I would like to thank all of my students—“good” and “bad,” past, present, and future—for you are the ones who continually teach me how to teach. I would like to thank Elysia Gallo, my editor at Llewellyn. Thank you, Elysia, for believing in me and my work, for your warmth, humor, and the admonishments to cite, cite, cite! If I have achieved anything near excellence here, it is to your credit as well. Any mistakes, of course, are mine alone. I would also like to thank Brett Fechheimer, my production editor, for helping me polish this work to a shine. Thanks also to all the good people I’ve had the pleasure to work with at Llewellyn. Jerica, spirit daughter, I thank you for being an incredible peer who taught me so much in our short time together. You inspire me to be a better priestess, and moreover, a better person, and I will love you forever for that. My darling DreyWolf, thank you for your amazing stories of the animal world, and for your open, enthusiastic spirit. For all your young years, you have such a heart for the Goddess that you inspire us all. I would also like to thank Carmella Cook for providing a wonderful venue for my priestess work in my new home here in the Pacific Northwest, for healing me and my little girl, and for listening to my dreams with unbridled enthusiasm. Your warm welcome has been a true gift. Last but certainly not least, I’d like to thank a very special man who came to me as a student but who was quickly fired, for he knows more of spirit and magic than I can hope to learn in a lifetime. My love, there are no words to express my gratitude for all the times you took care of my responsibilities, fixed computer problems, and supported my time away from “us” so that I could complete this book in relative sanity (and I do mean relative!). Without you, it would have taken much longer to accomplish, and so I dedicate it to you . . .


For my Eagle— for teaching me the power, and the freedom, of flight


Contents Introduction

xi

Part One Forging the Vessel: Foundation Work One: The Earth Tides and the Circles System

3

Two: The Power of Language

9

Three: Personal Responsibility

15

Four: The Basics

25

Five: The Passion to Will

53

Part two Filling the Vessel: The Monthly Lessons Six: The December Lesson

69

Seven: The January Lesson

81

Eight: The February Lesson

103

Nine: The March Lesson

125

Ten: The April Lesson

141

Eleven: The May Lesson

175

Twelve: The June Lesson

187

Thirteen: The July Lesson

197

Fourteen: The August Lesson

221

Fifteen: The September Lesson

235


Sixteen: The October Lesson

245

Seventeen: The November Lesson

263

Part three Tempering the Vessel: The Initiation Unit Eighteen: Deepening—The Call to Power

277

Nineteen: The Courage to Dare

297

Appendix

313

Glossary

323

Bibliography

331

Index

337

    Contents


Introduction On a starlit rise in a small meadow high in the Rocky Mountains, a woman casts a circle, alone. The forest of aspen and pine surrounding her is deep in shadow; although she can’t see him, she can feel the Horned One watching from the perimeter. Luminous puffs of cloud drift slowly by, as if to tell her she has all the time in the world. Her hair, still damp from her purification ritual, is caught by a gentle breeze, sending a chill down her spine. She tells herself she’s ready. She has her tools, her three years of study, her breath, and her body. Suddenly, she’s moved to touch the earth, and she removes her shoes and places her palms on the ground, drawing energy up from the Mother. She is ready. As she watches the full moon rise, she raises her arms, and beckons the Lady to listen. She makes her vows, pledges her love, and dares to make one bold request. “Be my teacher,” she beseeches her. “Guide my path.” The night grows long as the woman chants and sways with the pulse of earth and moon as they dance together in a song only she can hear in the deep stillness. Later, initiation over, she sleeps better than she has in years. The next morning, while striking camp, she remembers the night before, and a wave of warmth washes over her. She feels . . . changed. She smiles with pride and satisfaction that she is now a Witch, a Wise One, a priestess of the Lord and the Lady. She puts the last item in her car, and looks around.

xi


“Now what?” she asks, and it occurs to her that she’s thinking about more than mere camping gear. She looks up into the sky, the rich turquoise mountain blue, the shockingly white clouds racing by like dreamstuff, like shreds of her life, already past, which cause her to consider her future. She opens her arms and says it aloud, this time to her gods. “Now what?” Now what, indeed. The woman on that gentle slope was me, many years ago, and after initiation, I felt somewhat lost. As I lived in a small community, I couldn’t find a teacher, and the only Witches I could find were at best pretty strange. I read everything I could get my hands on and learned from the greats: Starhawk, Adler, Bonewits, Buckland, Stone. I read everything I could find that these authors wrote, and then I started on the bibliographies in the back, reading as much as I could find of what they’d read. As the years passed, I added Cunningham, Reed, and Campanelli to my growing list of favorites, which quickly became too numerous to mention. I did the exercises, wrote rituals, conjured spells. I tuned in to the moon and the earth, read reams of mythology, and continued my search for a teacher. I knew that other than the Lady herself, these authors were probably the best teachers anyone could ever hope to find, yet I still yearned for a clearer path, some sort of structure, a guide through the fog. I read more books and tried some workings I later realized I wasn’t ready for. Then, when I was ready for more intensive study, I kept finding books and techniques that were in a place I’d already been. I floundered. Like trying to deep-sea dive with a life jacket on, I couldn’t find a way to go deeper but just kept skimming the surface. My friends were all at the same level as I was, and although we learned a bit from each other, the greater knowledge we all craved just wasn’t happening. I helped start a coven, then a discussion group, then another coven, and all of them fell apart due to lack of leadership and commitment. I continued my search for a teacher but rarely met anyone who was “up the road,” so to speak. I had my natal chart done and learned a lot about myself; in the process of doing so, I learned a great deal about life, energy, and the gods. The woman who did the chart told me I was destined to be a spiritual teacher, and warned me of a great challenge in this work: she said I would receive many students in the years to come who had broken or missing “vessels.” She said it would be my sacred duty to help them clear and then to re-forge their spiritual foundations. “You’ve got to give them a cup, Thuri,” she would say adamantly, her hand in the air, holding an invisible chalice. I was a little overwhelmed by all of this, and for a long time I didn’t believe I was qualified for this task. I needed direction, some validation of where I was to go on this xii    Introduction


path. I went deep into meditation one evening, and I asked my matron goddess, “How may I serve you, Lady?” She said only this: “Bring them to Me.” She gives me the same answer to that question to this very day. I decided at that point that I would strive to be the best spiritual teacher I could possibly be, and for me that meant trying to be the kind of teacher I’d always wanted to have. Strict but loving, confident but not arrogant, open-minded but with a low tolerance for bullshit. In sum, everything my Lady, as my only teacher, has always been for me. A few years later, I heard of the traditional Wiccan degree system for the first time. When I asked a friend what degree she thought I’d be (fully expecting to be pronounced a first, if that, after answering a long series of questions), she just popped off with “Oh, you’re a third,” without even seeming to think about it. I asked a few more traditionally minded folks and got similar responses. I began to wonder just exactly what the degree system was, why I was a third in my friends’ eyes, and what difference it all made anyway. About this time, I got my first “official” student. She kept asking me to teach her about the philosophy of Wicca, the basic overview. I was baffled about how to teach only the religion, not the magic, the energy work, the tools—the “clergy duties” as it were— that went along with it. Looking back, I can see that I was really a first-degree at that time—a radically independent first, but who knew? Obviously, I simply wasn’t ready to teach, and I have come to the conclusion that few initiates are. The pitfalls of teaching when one is at first-degree level are just too great. After a few years, I finally figured out how to separate the philosophy from the whole of this religion—as the very beginning, baby steps of a philosophy radically different from anything most of us are raised with. It begins with the idea that we are the direct connection to the Divine, the idea that we are sacred and therefore incredibly powerful beings, and that we are all interconnected in a way that connects to the earth and her cycles. I call this beginning level “Seeker.” Later, I asked a Neo-Gardnerian friend to help me fill in the holes in my training. My friend had a very busy life, so I suggested that I write everything down: all the spiritual work I’d done, the meditations I’d used, the rituals I’d written, the books I’d read, everything I could think of pertaining to my spiritual path, in order to help her see the holes. I titled it “My Witchy Transcript” and sent it off. Writing that paper did more for me in terms of knowing my place on the Path than any amount of flattery or “Oh, you’re a third” ever could, and now the transcript is a requirement for all of my students. Introduction   xiii


It’s just too important a tool to be missed. My friend, bless her heart, said, “Egad!” and told me I was “way more” than a third, and that I could be teaching her. She introduced me to the work of the Farrars, Valiente, Fortune, Gardner, and of course the brilliant Robert Graves. Finally, it all began to click. As I learned more about the traditional degree system, I began to see how useful such a system can be, as it can give the student a goal to strive toward, as well as a feeling of accomplishment when she has “graduated” to the next level. More students came and went, as students do—the percentage of serious students to people who just want to play at being Witches is a frustration I think every Craft teacher encounters. About that time, I read in An ABC of Witchcraft, by Doreen Valiente, about the Four Powers of the Magus. They are: to know, to dare, to will, and to be silent, and when all work in harmony together, they form a fifth power, the power to go. Valiente then goes on to discuss the elemental correspondences of these actions, and when I first read this, my whole being awakened. Of course, I thought, it makes perfect sense. Put around the Wheel elementally, of course the order changes a bit, but not much: to know, to will, to dare, to be silent, to go. Air, fire, water, earth, spirit. Seeker, Dedicant, Initiate, Adept, Master. The order repeated itself in pattern after pattern, and I began to see it very clearly in my calling to create this course of study. The Seeker is just being called to an earth-based path, and wants to learn all she can that she may truly know and make the right decisions about her spirituality. Often, she has old baggage to heal herself of about religion, so she needs to clear and rebuild her spiritual vessel. She uses her mind to do so. Air. The Dedicant becomes very passionate and fired up about this religion, and begins by learning to use his will as he learns about himself and the Craft. He forges and begins to fill his spiritual vessel with all the passion and motivation and will he can muster. Fire. The Initiate (in traditional Wicca, the first-degree) falls in love in a whole new way with her religion as she comes to understand how deep she must go to truly know and love herself and her gods. So she learns to brave the darkness—she develops the courage to dare, as only love can give us, and she tempers and primes her spiritual vessel with the depth and breadth of that love. Water. The Adept (in traditional Wicca, the second-degree) begins to manifest much of what he has learned, developing the wisdom to keep silent. He learns that “to babble,” as .  Doreen Valiente, An ABC of Witchcraft. Custer, WA: Phoenix Publishing, 1973, 150.

xiv    Introduction


Valiente puts it, can often dissipate magical energy as well as one’s enthusiasm for the work. He is so full now that his spiritual vessel is flooded to overflowing with the gifts he gives back to his gods by serving his community. Earth. The Master (in traditional Wicca, the third-degree), then, becomes the vessel, a spiritual leader in her community, holding all the elements and powers of the Magus in balance, that she may go. She embraces, hones, walks the Path of, and leads her Sacred Charges through the fifth element that is created by the harmonious resonance of the other four sacred things: Spirit. And many wise Masters then begin a new path of study, becoming Seekers once more, and the Great Wheel of the spiritual path renews itself, again and again, in the thirst for truth on the soul’s Great Journey. I hooked up to the Internet for the first time in the fall of 1997, and became active on some Pagan message boards. People started messaging me with questions, which I spent many hours answering. As time went on, I began to teach them some Wicca basics, kind of an online 101. I had a lot of trouble keeping up for a while, as everyone came to me at different times and I didn’t want to turn anyone away or make them wait for the next round of classes, which is one of my issues with standard Witchcraft 101s. To save time, I started putting together “packages” of lessons that I sent out every month, at the same time of the month, but that still wasn’t cutting it; everyone was in a different place in the order of lessons, and it got very confusing, not to mention incredibly time-consuming to keep giving the same material over and over again. I wanted more cohesion, a better way to make things flow. Within a few months, I started seeing a pattern in my dreams and meditations: a pattern of circles. The circles around us radiate out from our psychic centers in a pattern of waves or energy ripples. My astrologer had told me about the sacred spiral of the soul’s path, and that in each incarnation, we all have the choice to spiral up, spiral down, or to remain where we are, effectively spinning our wheels. The circle pattern I saw connected to the sacred spiral in a big way; for what is a spiral but an evolution of circles? And what is life but a series of choices as we go around each Wheel, each turn of seasons that make up the Greater Wheel that is each incarnation? I had understood for years that karma and personal responsibility go hand in hand. In order to help those Seekers to fix their broken vessels, to clear and rebuild them into something healthy and vital, I saw that they would have to first learn to take responsibility for their own place, their own growth on the Path; this is not a religion that can be spoon-fed to anyone. In the Introduction   xv


process, my own spirituality deepened considerably, through practice and prayer, meditation, and my ever-avid reading. The circle pattern I’d always seen in my mind took on a new dimension after that, and I began seeing visions of a circle of circles, interlocked with the beloved symbol of this religion—the pentagram. I became obsessed with this symbol, and finally took out my protractor and compass and put it on paper, as the Circles symbol you see on the cover of this book. I saw how each level in this system encompassed an intersection of two points, around and around the star. It all connected and flowed together, and it resonated beautifully with the powers of the Magus. A year or two after I first saw and then drew this symbol for myself, I saw a pendant in the same shape in a jewelry case at a festival. I’d once heard the saying “Ideas are in the air,” and I was delighted that someone else had seen this symbol in the ethers, too. It was a sublimely magical moment; time seemed to stand still. I felt like the pendant had been made and put in that case just for me! Naturally, I snatched it up, and consecrated it soon after. I wear it every day as a constant reminder of my heart’s true path, and of the words of my beloved matron goddess, which continually ring in my head, reminding me of my sacred duty and my life’s work: “Bring them to Me . . . Bring them to Me!” My own teaching continued to deepen, and so did my personal study; I learn a lot from my students, probably even more than they do from me, and I’ve always told them so. I continued to receive students with broken vessels for many seasons after that, and I know now that I always will, for this is my path. There is so much to be healed in this world: misperceptions about our choices (or lack thereof), religions that advocate the exploitation of the earth and her people, a culture that thwarts us and limits us in so many ways. I wanted the Circles system to be as accessible as possible, so I began to fine-tune this course of study to be a more fluid, earth-connected, cyclical, female-energy practice, contained within a linear, organized, male-energy structure. I also knew there had to be a way to accommodate both the quicker, more driven students as well as the more pragmatic. I made huge charts of the Wheel of the Year, and connected everything I could to its various sections, to clarify and get students moving forward as soon as possible after learning the basics, which also enabled me to take new students at any time of the year, effectively eliminating the frustrating period many students go through with standard Wicca 101s, while waiting for the next cycle of classes to begin. For the solitary student, this system is ideal: with its self-determined pacing, handson style, and Wheel of the Year format, there is no waiting. Once the foundation work xvi    Introduction


is completed, the student just “jumps on the Wheel” in the current or upcoming month, in a smooth and seamless transition. She can do all of the Pathwork options in any given chapter, or just some of them; she can do only the required reading or add the elective choices, perhaps adding other books she finds on her own; she can keep her rituals simple or make them more elaborate, thereby layering the intensity of her experience to the depth she wants to go. As a course of study, this system offers a wide range of thought and perception, practical advice and hands-on experience. By the time it’s completed, she can feel confident that she has, indeed, learned the fundamentals of the Dedicant level, take pride in her accomplishments, and, once she initiates herself, will know in her heart that she truly is a “Witch and priestess” of the Old Religion. My path, then, is so interwoven with my work that to speak further on this topic will only result in delaying the work before us. Therefore, we begin the circle of Circles—may our paths entwine in spirit, and brighten the world in harmony and in love.

Introduction   xvii


part

one

Forging the Vessel: Foundation Work


One: The Earth Tides and the Circles System Late August From across the expanse of a season, she calls me. Her voice is faint but has become louder since Lughnasadh. She speaks of the Mystery, of the deeper knowledge I crave: of self, of life, of community. She whispers my sacred name; and even through sweaty gardening chores, caring for plants full to bursting with purpose and health, I hear, and anticipate, the cold months ahead with a light heart. I know those months will bring a lot of fun, and a lot of learning. Mabon, Samhain, Yule. All treasured favorites. As I plan the season’s upcoming ritual, I hear her calling. The Dark Mother. From the deepest depths of shadow, he calls me. I can hear his tiny cry speaking to me of promise, of hope, of new life. Even as the shadows grow shorter, as I struggle to drag myself past the inevitable days of post-festival depression, amazed that it’s all really over already, even as the corn ripens and summer barbecues are attended, I stop for a moment, turn toward his waning light, and feel his gentle reassurance of return. As I scrape my plate and rush to join the laughter, he calls me. The Bright Son. As I have grown in my religion, I have become more and more aware of the earth and her cycles, and I find it easier to feel the approach of each holiday, regardless of weather. It’s a subtle feeling that grows stronger with the tiniest change 


of temperature, shadow length, scent, even sound. I don’t have to be outside, or even looking out a window. It’s just there, this . . . awareness that runs like blood through my veins, that permeates my being with crisp autumn air and the scent of burning leaves even though it’s still hot out as I write. This awareness, these “earth tides,” is what the Circles system is all about. The Circles system is the same as other Wiccan learning systems in many ways, the most fundamental of which is that it is a system of levels. These levels are based on what I have found to be effective in teaching my students over the years, as well as what I have learned from more traditional systems. By studying within this system, when and if you decide to join a coven or other magical group, you will be on roughly the same degree level as your peers. Circles is different from other Wiccan systems of learning in many ways, one of which is that study is orchestrated to harmonize with the cycles of the earth, in order to instill, early on in the student, an awareness of these earth tides. Our ancestors felt the earth tides, too, and those tides undoubtedly guided their lives in ways most modern folk hardly even think of anymore. In those distant times, people were outside much of the time. They had little to separate them from nature; so, naturally, they were more in tune with everything from the pending seasonal changes to the cycles of the moon and weather patterns. They could tell you in the wink of an eye what phase the moon was in, when the next High Holiday was, and what was happening in the realm of the gods to make it so. They felt the heartbeat of the earth in their bodies, the pulling of the moon’s tides in their veins, and they knew, deep inside, how strongly they were connected to all living things by the subtle energies that marked time and psychic patterns. These earth tides are the heart and soul of Wicca. No matter what your tradition— Dianic, Celtic, Egyptian, some other tradition, or an eclectic mix of many—these tides run through your rites, your life, your very blood, just as they did in the minds and bodies of the Ancients. As you grow in your religion, you, too, will feel them pulling you, urging you forward to the next point on the Wheel, for these tides are the basis for our beliefs—the earth turns in a circle, an endless cycle of seasons. Death precedes life just as life precedes death. Planting, sprouting, growth, harvesting, and gleaning of the fields are the same as the planting, quickening, birth, maturation, and inevitable death of all living beings. Once death takes place, our souls are born again to new bodies, new lessons, new enlightenment. The cycle continually renews itself, just as it does in the fields.

    One: The Earth Tides and the Circles System


It follows, then, that there are gods and goddesses overseeing these cycles, and that there are archetypes in every culture for them. Some of these gods are benevolent, and a small few are seen as malevolent when they really aren’t, such as the Dark God—the Hunter, the Shadow Stag, the guide and guardian of those who seek the Goddess, the Horned One who reminds us of our most basic instincts, who in Celtic culture is called Cernunnos or Herne, and in Greek culture is called Pan. Or the archetype of the Crone, the Sacred Reaper and bringer of death, who in Greek culture is called Hecate, in Hindu culture is called Kali, and in Assyro-Babylonian culture is called Ereshkigal. The specific misconception of the dark gods as malevolent is due to Western culture’s tremendous fear of, and therefore obsession with, death. This fear is reflected in Western culture’s vilification of woman (the receptive, the intuitive, the dark) that began with the onset of the patriarchy, and was accelerated with the growth of Western religion. The leaders of the New Religion commanded the temples to be occupied, and the symbols of the New Religion were superimposed upon the symbols of the Old. For a time, it appeared that the Goddess and the Dark God were obliterated. This was only on the surface, however; one cannot deny the truth that lives inside one’s own soul, no matter how hard one tries. Modern culture is ill for this reason—for to eliminate the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone, as well as the Dark God, is to focus on one-fifth of the big picture. So much is lost in this way that we find ourselves cut off from aspects of culture, of nature, and most tragically, of ourselves, that are vital and necessary to our growth as human beings. To deny the natural forces brought about and manifested by these archetypes is to deny much that is sacred within us. For women, our anger—which in itself can be a formidable force for working magic and creating change when dealt with in a healthy manner—is seen as completely invalid. We are either nice girls or bitches, or worse, we’re victims of our own hormones. Our complete inability to deal with anger, whether our own or another person’s, leaves us cut off, invalidated, impotent at the exact moment we could and should use our anger to help us facilitate change. For men, sorrow, which is a pure and honest emotion, is simply thwarted. In many segments of our culture, a man still is seen as an adult only if he cannot or does not cry. This thwarting has its repercussions in physical ailments and diseases that could easily be avoided; tears are healing, and unshed tears can actually damage the physical body in a myriad of ways.

One: The Earth Tides and the Circles System   


For all of us, our sexuality—a natural, sacred, and beautiful primal drive—is twisted. It is either a messy, unsavory necessity, or a commodity—a tool used to sell everything from beverages to cars. Wicca seeks to understand these aspects of life as integral with all other aspects of life. We seek to understand the archetypal energies, and the very gods who embody these energies, too. We seek to hold them as dearly as we do the Sun God, with no aspect or archetype held in any more or less respect and reverence than any other, save for one’s personal connections, one’s patron gods and matron goddesses. The earth tides are the driving force that promotes this understanding and worship. For our ancestors, the pull of earth and moon was closer to the line of life and death than it is for us—if they didn’t have that connection, they wouldn’t have been able to perceive, through their intuition and other subtle signs, an early spring, for example, or a dry summer on the way, and make allowances in their planting cycles. They wouldn’t have understood the deep silences that herald the most violent of the winter’s storms. They wouldn’t have known when the rain wasn’t going to come soon enough or abundantly enough to keep the crops alive. They certainly wouldn’t have had the intuition to check the seed stores, and flush out the mice eating the precious grains of hope for their family’s sustenance through the next season. They likely would have starved to death. Like the ancients, we modern Wiccans feel the call of these tides. For us, the earth tides are a feeling of certainty and connection, a knowingness that harmonizes with the basic, primal, and compelling call to honor the gods and the cycles that are on their way to us. They are the breezy warmth and bright vision of flowers, catching us off-guard, heralding spring as we set out the recycle bins full of wrapping paper and boxes from our Yule festivities. They are the crunch of dry leaves under our heels, the crisp feeling of autumn days even as we battle the heat of August with an impromptu water fight. They are the fresh, buttery-sweet scent of snow on the air as the Mother gives birth to the Sun God, while the twinkle of holiday lights fills us with the joy of the season, even as we harvest bumper crops of tomatoes in early September. For some of us, these seasons and these gods call more strongly, but the earth tides run in us all. I turn my focus back to the window, where I am shocked into reality on this hot August day by the view of green grass on the ground rather than brightly colored leaves or a light dusting of snow, and I return to my studies, my goals for the coming season clear. New students, perhaps new teachers, await, and the Wheel is turning. There is a need to go deeper, for the Dark Time is at hand, and deeper study is appropriate now. Study and practice, prayer and     One: The Earth Tides and the Circles System


meditation—these are the things that enrich a Witch’s life, and make priests and priestesses of us all. I hold my runes in my hands, pondering Cernunnos and Hecate, before tossing them on the cloth to read my fate. Perhaps the dark gods call me so adamantly because I am winter-born. To me, that is the time of year to be outside, from the first gentle flutter of color tumbling down from my sumac tree until it gets really hot again. Sure, I like gardening, and the abundance of summer, but it’s the cool crispness of fall and the silent shroud of snow in winter that draws me outside. As you read this, perhaps the Wheel has once again turned—it’s most likely snowing outside, and I’ll either be baking almond crescents for the Yule ritual cakes, or on one of my cherished winter evening walks in the company of my coveners and friends. My breath will be puffy clouds of steam under the indigo and crystalline sky, and I will feel a voice in my inner ear, Brighid’s voice, echoing through the bright fires of creativity, illuminating my world with words of inspiration. My friends will ask me what’s wrong, why am I stopping, as I raise a finger to ask for a moment. I must listen now, for across the expanse of a season, she calls me . . .

One: The Earth Tides and the Circles System   


Dedicant