I often write of Deipna, and rites of the Dark Moon which take me into the bellies of the creatures I adore, and since Last October’s Full Moon, I have written of the personal mythologies which have unfolded on this poisonous, crooked path. I write because I am compelled to write, out of devotion for Hekate and Anubis and the various other spirits which are part of my life. I have often also written about Anubis– The Jackal, and my deep love for Him.
Without love, without the passion of venom, and the fiery lick of the Serpent’s kiss I would not be able to write, to draw, to paint and to perform my duties as a witch. Love lies at the heart of my witchcraft, it is what informs my animistic practices, and it is what makes my witchcraft a spirit-full and spiritual craft.
The first time I saw the bones of a beloved was when I saw the ripped up remains of my first cat, she was killed by our dogs. I don’t know if this memory of her bones is real, but from as long as I can remember, I remember seeing her bones. This was a hard death, and no death afterward has ever been any easier.
The Jackal etched his secret names, and beautiful marks deep into my bones back then, but I didn’t know it. This is love that will crumble me with its tenderness and darkness, its compassion and passion, maybe even until after my eventual death. Even when I am not listening very carefully, I can see the patterns of His presence in my life. He is never far away, because the processes of decay and death, transition and transformation are always present at every level of existence.
Back on my Great Grandmothers farm when I was very young, I made friends with a darling pig. She was a wonderful friend and companion during my stay and although I have long forgotten many specifics, she was like having my very own “Babe”. It was when my older cousins let me know in no uncertain terms that these pigs were pigs for slaughter, that I made my first oath, to never eat the flesh of any pig again. Not long after that did my decision turn to never eating red meat ever again, I was 8 years old. Soon after I turned 18, when my father passed away, my oath extended to all animals including chicken and fish.
I am walking along the embankment of the dam, which has the stench of algae. The Hellion is sniffing at something which looks like a rotting piece of wood, or old throw up. When I look closely, I see it is a dead crab, its organs have been eaten out, whether by bird or something else I am not sure, but I wrap its fresh exoskeleton in some large leaves and continue my walk with the Hellion and the boyfriend with moans and groans along the way, about how unsanitary it is for me to scavenge corpses.
When I get home, I put on a mask and gloves, examine the crab and decide I will bury him for a while to see if any more decomposition will occur. I am pretty sure all of the vital organs have been eaten out, but because I am still hellishly squeamish, and only have a small time frame in which to actually look at the crab, and do anything about it, without suspicion of being a psychopath, I see burial as the safest bet. Sometimes I just wish I had a colony of Dermestid Beetles to help me along the way…
My first dead thing was a smelly, little lizard which I had found in a corner. I kept him wrapped up in a shiny, sateen cloth. He was a lucky charm but like many charms of luck and unluck, he became lost, or lost himself from me. I could never quite get the smell of rot out of my lucky dead thing, but I was young when I found him, and didn’t yet know anything about preserving or decaying corpses, in fact even now, I still feel out of my depths.
My next dead thing was a white butterfly which I found dead in the grass after a stunning summer display of life and shimmery wings. I scooped up the fragile body and kept it in a heart-shaped box on my altar. I now have moths too, some a dull grey and brown, and others with a slight golden shimmer.
Being a vegetarian I never thought I would become a Bone Keeper, but Anubis had other plans for me. I first understood his request for skulls and bones as being a natural inclination of a God of the Tomb and The Dead. But now as time has worn on, and dead things have been coming to me I have begun to understand his request differently.
I am a Bone Keeper.
Veldkin may have opened a floodgate, things certainly did change when she came into my life, and the changes were not easy. The Tower was struck and my very safe complete life, all of sudden became tumultuous, and painful and I hung on by a thread. I had to let go in order to become. Surrender is what Anubis was asking of me for a long time, and it has taken me a long time to understand. There are parts of the self that must decay in order to reach the bone, and after the rending, the bones must be cleaned and cared for. Sometimes the bones will return to the soil, and sometimes they will be crafted into talismans, or honoured as Guardians. Sometimes they will speak and sometimes they will listen, but always when working with the bones, there is a promise to love and to care, to be tender and to respect.
Being a Bone Keeper is difficult, I deal with spirits who have often been killed in brutal manners, which is the way of so many animals. Veldkin and The Rager were already clean when they came to me, but the crab, and others will not be, being able to deal with flesh, with meaty bits, with decay, hands on is a tough bargain. It is not easy or clean, death is messy, witchcraft is messy, and at some point I will have to dig into my deepest self and do the thing which terrifies me the most, not bone keeping, but rending flesh.
People eat meat every day, but they no longer pay attention to the processes of rending and decaying, they no longer see the dying. Everything is kept clean and neat and wrapped in plastic. There is no longer a need to thank, and to love, and to feel, and to grieve every being that passes through our bodies. We no longer care for the dead, both human and animal. We keep death and decay at bay, at arm’s length, observing the work of others, and we wonder why we feel disconnected from our land, from our ancestors and our selves.
I work with the land and the spirits of the land, and as a vegetarian, I have made conscious decisions to not partake in the suffering of animals, I made an oath to never eat the flesh of an animal and I will honour that oath to my grave. I have made oaths to ease the suffering of the ones who have died, to keep or bury their bones, and I will honour that decision, even though it hard, even though it is like looking into the eyes of The Devil.
The Leo moon has passed, but the Serpents Tail remains, and as I bleed my woman’s blood, I give of my blood to The Bones. I whisper life songs as I caress white death, and with every stroke of my very own blood shed, I feel my bonds and my oaths deepen.