Of Blood, Spirits, and Visions

I don’t know what it is about this season of death and the coming of winter, but it makes me more secretive and private and withdrawn. I am moving inward instead of outward and everything feels too personal. It goes against my normal instinct to document everything. At the same time I am learning to embrace my darkness and darker knowledge of poisons and spiritwork.

These past few days have been filled with death, magic, visions, wonder, and the most lovely of friends. There has been a new spirit addition to Old Woman’s altar who I will show you when finished, a beautiful precious skull. I have reddened my deer stalker’s knife for the first time with blood that is not my own; rubbed the blood from the heart into the antler handle, deep in to the cracks and ridges, to stain red what was once white. After all, what good is a witch’s knife that is not sharp enough to cut through flesh and bone? Knives are for cutting and bloody hands do not take pictures. Now it is the knife of a bone collector and witch.

The shaman and I collected and cleaned the bones after the cutting and gutting. They sit now in hydrogen peroxide becoming sterile and white – leg bones and vertebrae of roadkill to craft sacred items with. Everything smudged with sage and incense, everything blessed and reverenced with the spirits watching close by, eating up their burnt offerings. There was a late night of speaking of magic and reading tarot. I read so many cards. I will start reading again for the public soon through Stang and Cauldron along with other services.

There were many visions on the full moon and 11-11-11. I think the moon, the mead, and the spirits had more to do with it than the day, however. In the first vision I found a baby turtle at a crossroad and it turned into a siamese turtle. I put it in a glass of water and it turned into three toads. I took one toad into my hand and gently stroked it and it turned into my black cat. Two large snakes patterned like adders rose up from holes in the earth and ate the two remaining toads.

In another vision the entire shamanic community showed up and asked me to join them. I refused them politely. They said they’d ask again, but they also said “you’re not one of us, are you?” I said, “no, I’m a witch.” This is something I have been struggling with. I am very drawn to shamanism and have good friends who are European shamanic practitioners who I have more in common with than most witches I know locally, but this vision served to remind me that I am not a shaman, I am a witch. They are similar but the not the same. We do not share the same path or the same ancestors though we do share similar practices, abilities, and beliefs. I don’t think I could submit to another’s dogma at this point on my path – I’ve gone too far along it on my own to turn away from all I know and do.

Last night was one of mead and mischief… and other substances (it was a scorpio party after all). I think my soul is still swooning over my friend’s ambrosial rose petal mead. I hope my wild rose mead turns out that delectable. There is nothing better than good company, good food, good music, and a cozy fire.

And now I am off and away to do web design and craft incense, oils, and potions…

Join the discussion 15 Comments

  • Jayne says:

    The coming of Winter’s dark does indeed evoke introspection. You seem very attuned to what you are drawn to. Rose petal mead sounds enticing!

  • Amy says:

    Thank you Sarah, for posting this. Many times too I have seen the difference between being a shaman and a witch. And have had the call to both roads. And again, I find myself at that crossroads because I never did choose, and that… that in the end is a decision that must be made.

  • Amaranthine says:

    This post really does reflect a lot of my feelings lately, on turning inward, on contemplating the path I’m on. I love reading about your growth in Witchcraft, and the details of bone collecting along with it.

  • Antonio says:

    Nice writing…Take care…Antonio

  • Shaman Dagaji says:

    Your witch essence has inspired me greatly. I see shamans and witches as very different, but both seem to be the closest to the core of reality. No other spirit (as opposed to spiritual) path seems to get so deep. In my work, I’ve seen the spirit essence of various types of people, and witches are a different breed from shamans. Many people are actually gremlins or angels or other ‘mythological’ or ‘archetypal’ entities in human form. I don’t see any reason one couldn’t be both witch and shaman, a hybrid of sorts, but it all depends on the essence of your nature. Fulfilling that essence is what matters. Keep up the good work! And blessings to your shaman friend. He is an inspiration also.

  • scott says:

    Thirteen moons on a turtle’s back.

  • Ambrosius says:

    Great post. You make a good point about the knife and its usage: how many folks that have them as tools actually use them in more direct ways as you describe. As for the dark of the year, I love it. Ever since I was a kid I’ve preferred the Autumn and Winter for tons of reasons including the retreating into one’s home and self. Folks aren’t as bothersome when they see you doing your own thing during the colder months because, well, it’s cold as opposed to the lighter half of the year when people want to thrust you out into all the warmth and stuff. Also, the quiet is pretty amazing. When you one can walk outside and basically hear hardly anything but the wind, rustling leaves and get a whiff of burnt wood…it’s cool. Plus, that whole interaction with the Frost feels…I don’t know, good? Anywho, blessings.

  • I dreamt of death last night too – a dream where everything died. I think life is a bit like the Wheel of Fortune card – life moves round, things change. Better, worse, better, worse as it goes round. For me the challenge is working with the now. My Saturn return taught me that some things just don’t happen, now my dream is warning me that everything will change.

  • Melanie says:

    I’m glad you’re sharing your thoughts with us. The quiet time of year is my favourite it allows me the excuse to hole up, dream and create, it’s an inspiring time when the outside world is silent enough that the voice of spirit is so much clearer. I understand the draw of Shamanism there is a sympathetic way of seeing between both paths. In my opinion we carve our own path and it is not at all necessary to compromise that, the important thing is that we are constantly evolving. Thank you for the inspiration as always Sarah.

  • sunny says:

    A few weeks ago I found a baby turtle on the walkway going to my job – it was unusual because I didn’t think there were turtles around (I think its was a baby snapper). I put it closer to the water and kept on my way.
    I’ve also seen an increase in road kill, a racoon and a squirrel. I hadn’t seen really any all summer and fall. Its a reminder that the winter is coming and we should be alert.
    Things have been crazy, fiinding a new apartment before the end of the month, getting money together for said apartment and trying to pay back rent for the current apartment.
    But reading your posts and looking at the pictures give me hope & allows me to dream. Enjoy yourself :)

  • Jenn says:

    As we are talking about paths, I have spent about two years researching and discovering about witchcraft and shamanism. I recently attempted to call upon the runes of wisdom and knowledge for guidance along this path. Later that night (I was at my cottage) I heard a screech owl in the woods from my cabin. As i am extremely new to witchcraft, I thought perhaps the owl, as a symbol of wisdom, meant that perhaps my spell was answered. Would anyone know what this means?

    • Generally you’d need to ask out loud for a specific sign in answer to your query to be sure – dog’s barking, a crow call, an owl cry, etc, but when you hear something with no context, sometimes an owl is just an owl.

      • Jenn says:

        Thank you for answering! That does help :)
        Your blog is amazing by the way, I always look forward to your next post! Thanks again 😀

  • Nymphaea says:

    I definitely feel you on the dreams. The other night I was visited in dreams by a beautiful owl as well as an eagle. The eagle strutted royally for me and left me feathers. The owl flew up to me and let me stroke its head. Then it rolled over and turned into a soft fat cat and let me rub it more. I was gifted in the dream by other animals as well. I received a gift of antlers as well, and went to grab them, but cast them aside as I realized they were tainted with maggots and webs and were somehow…wrong. I knew they needed cleaning, but I woke up soon after this.

  • Maria says:

    It would be very ineresting to hear your thoughts on the differences of shamans and witches. I consider myself to be both :) I follow Finnish tradition, and here both were called “noita” long ago, which today translates only into witch. I¨m not so sure what the difference really is.