|Painting by Helena Nelson Reed|
To be sure, there are the sweetly rhyming prayers those soft-breasted grandmothers whisper innocently to their bleary-eyed babes, those now-I-lay-mes and blessed-bes, then there are the deeper prayers, the prayers that reek of everything but innocence, that stink of an ancient longing for worm-riddled truths and gods far older than any whose names we might now come to know, now when our hearts are hungry for that potent medicine of in-the-bones storytelling. These from-the-bowels incantations erupt from the grandmothers’ lips like dark poetry hissed straight from the underground demons themselves and channeled only by those wild elders, by those flame-tending hags who want their young ones to know what they know. Here is one such prayer, first spit from the tongues of our dead-and-buried foremothers who learned how to see in the dark and speak the language of crows better than they learned how to bake sugared things or curtsey demurely, who were born long before the over-polished times of bright screens and time poverty, who would call Lilith queen and bow to the Cailleach.
Bless our little wildlings, darkest Goddess of wind and flame. Set your black-mirror eyes upon them and whisper-hiss in their ears while they sleep. Tell them of their souls’ merit and assure them that the ghosts are indeed real. Remind them that not all is as it seems, and bid them never forget how to see those spectral figures that haunt the land and haunt it well.
Grant them dream-visions of a snake-skinned Lilith spreading her black wings and soaring high above that unholy Eden, screeching like a raptor bird and blotting out the moon. Gift them with joyous nightmares of Witches gathering ‘round ceremonial fires and chanting in that heathen tongue, and bestow upon them a mission of healing the many ills of this wounded world. Lean toward that ache, tell them. Make your art, tell them.
Gone are the days of heeding rules written by the hands of the power-hungry, and wake, we will, to be the Dark Goddess embodied in soft creaturely skin. You are the forked, long tongue of destruction, tell them, and there’s never been a better heroine born.
All blessings be on this wicked night when all things are possible. So may it be for me, and so it may be for the innocents.
Those sure-footed and stalwart grannies nod then, not upward toward any ethereal heaven but down to the hallowed ground, tuck the blankets tight ‘round their sleeping kindred ones who shall surely inherit the heart of the hag, then leave them swaddled in shadows and grace, protected not by any white-robed angel but guarded by a horned demi-goddess crouched low in the corner, swaying with a primeval rhythm and waiting for the chance to rise.
And so it is.
DanielleDulsky believes in the power of the wild feminine and human-to-nature intimacy. She is the author of The Holy Wild: A Heathen Bible for the Untamed Woman (New World Library) and Woman Most Wild: Three Keys to Liberating the Witch Within. She translates the wild feminine into motherhood, magick, multimedia art, and teachings of embodied spirituality, writing, and movement alchemy. Danielle is a Celtic free-style Witch, a lover of Irish Paganism, a mist-dweller, and a shadow-walker. May all beings come home to the wilds.