“Of course I’m sane, when trees start talking to me, I don’t talk back.”- Terry Pratchett, The Light Fantastic
I think often on my childhood, on how magic was simpler and more raw. I think of how I used to walk alone among the trees at every chance I got. Even at school, I would converse with the trees in the simple and beautiful way that required no pomp and drama. There was no need for elaborate ritual or the high jinx of formalised ceremony, only respect, trust and love, and always I had those in my heart. The trees would listen to my fears, my heart aches, my sorrow, my anger, and they would sway in the wind and I would for a brief moment feel the web of fate.
“There is a language older by far and deeper than words. It is the language of bodies, of body on body, wind on snow, rain on trees, wave on stone.It is the language of dream, gesture, symbol, memory. We have forgotten this language. We do not even remember that it exists. – Derrick Jensen
I think of this simplicity often because I long to go back to when my mind wasn’t blocked, when I could cross the hedge with ease, when I could commune in simple ways with beings that is more ancient than human language. I long for the illogical, for the nonsensical, for the upside down, inside out, simplicity of it all. It comes naturally to children, but we forget, because the books tell us to forget, our peers, parents, or teachers tell us to forget, and then we live with longing for this place that we have buried deep, down in the dark abyss of ourselves.
Hibiscus trionum, also known as “Flower- of- an- Hour”, modesty and bladder weed, is part of the Malvaceae family. It is often grown for its beautiful but very short- lived flowers in the garden. But is also considered a weed, which is how I found it uprooted, abandoned and shouting out for its last chance to live. I hastily took apart the roots and stems and flowers, replanting the bits that looked like they might still grow, and placing cuttings in water in hopes that they will root, the flowers, leaves and stems I have dried, I will use for magic.
That deep, dark center, speaks to me, like the dark side of the moon, and the dark abyss inside of myself, from which I need to pull up the deep, dark wild. Even so, the depths are the depths because they are hidden, and dark, and filled with the undiscovered. Once they come to the light, they are no longer unknown. Even so, the depths always birth new hidden things, things we as witches are able to see, only if we are willing to go down and communicate with the chthonic, the “under”, the other.
Hibiscus is not one of the dark witches herbs, it is a flower often attributed to Venus or the Sun, and with powers such as love, psychic power and lust.
But for me, there is more to this weed than meets the eye. The Hibiscus trionum, has the power of the Moon, of illusion- one minute it is there the next it is gone. Did you see it? Can you be sure? But you felt that dark center pulsating in your bones and you still feel it, even now, when all that is left is the tightly wound bud. It is a flower of the depths, of bringing that which we need or want to the surface, but it still keeps the deeply hidden secret of itself within when its hour is gone. It is Chthonic, and can be offered to The Jackal, the one who presides in the Tomb, and to Hekate, who is a bright light, but always there is more broiling beneath. It is a flower of our wild self, taking us to places we long for, places we fear, and places that are made of the interplay between shadow and light.
I have been reading books on traditional witchcraft, looking for the bones, and the flesh, and I have found many places that hold that sacred power of my childhood within them. I have found a beautiful simplicity so familiar but forgotten due to fear of beings and things that tried to hurt me as a child.
I recognise that my craft has changed, I have undergone a transformation, but still fear can hold me back, no one wants to be eaten and terrorised by things with red eyes and sharp teeth, with violent, malefic intent who want nothing more than to lick your soul-flesh from their teeth. These are things books tell you to forget, there is nothing dark, or ugly, or scary, or violent, or malevolent, and if you do come across these things ignore them because those uncomfortable things which make your skin crawl are not part of witchcraft, or the goddess.
But they are, all of them exist within Fate, within Wyrd, we can either ignore them, and hope they go away, even while we feel them breathing down our neck, or we can face them, trap them and devour them.The moon is not always what she seems, she only sheds light on certain things, things will always be hidden in the shadows she casts. There are bones down there, some ripped clean from the soul, as beings ate them away, there is always something to fear in the dark.
In my dreams I was taken back, to that house, with those beings, and felt the thick mucky malevolence as I walked through the laundry. It made my skin crawl, I felt my clothes lift from my body and I got the distinctive feeling that I must leave. However, that thing, that violent, dark man, clung to me like greasy fog, I yelled at him to get out! Get Out! Get Out!, and eventually I was able chase him away. I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been, I didn’t bring the big guns, and perhaps he still sits in that laundry, like the demonic thing in the hallway, squatting like a toad until I come again.
“Holy places are dark places. It is life and strength, not knowledge and words, that we get in them. Holy wisdom is not clear and thin like water, but thick and dark like blood”- C.S. Lewis- Till We Have Faces
The Virgo full moon, doesn’t sweep things under the rug, and when your nostalgia has taken you to the sweet things and the simplicity of what once was, she will bring out the dust bunnies, and the mold in the tile grout and show you the other things which you forgot. Some of them are frightening and dark, and then it is time to remember fully, to sort through what you knew then and what you know now. To know what you have to unlearn, and what you need to relearn. And little by little the wildness comes back.