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To Begin a Most Twisted Yule: Conversations over M...

To Begin a Most Twisted Yule: Conversations over Moon-Blood and Nog

danielle dulsky, witch, wild woman, yule, darkness

Join me, lover. I’m weaving stick-stars out of willow branches and drinking the thickest nog I could brew in my feeble cauldron. Tonight, the full 13th Moon rises, and I will wander through my childhood woods where the raw and justified rage of those who died on these lands runs red and roughshod all over these browning pine needles. Come with me. I’m raising my hood and leaving this minute. Mind you, this is not my most joyous ritual. You will not see me dance bare-breasted or hear me recite drunken incantations while riding a horned, heathen god, but, if you’re expecting to see me at my most macabre, at my least alive, then, by all means, get your coat. Tonight, I become the saintly demoness, and you’re cordially invited to my solemn ceremony.

Walk slow. I want to be sure to leave a light trail of moon blood on the frost. I’m not worried about finding our way back, and I’m only a little in love with the quiet, primal glow of silver light on sanguine dark. This is how I always begin, you see, with a bit of free-bleeding on wounded ground, with a slow-dripping spell and chilled, goose-bumped thighs. It’s a pitiful offering, I know, but it’s all I have to give now when I’m a ghost of a woman, when the yearly Witching Hour has sucked all the pink marrow from my bones and left me a greying shell of the wide-hipped and sweaty majesty I was in summer.

Did you bring the nog? Oh, good. Pour some out for those who met their sudden end here. The tallest trees still mourn, I think, as well they should, and I’m blessed to have never seen the horrors they keep nested and safe within their thickest branches. The ancient oaks and sweet-smelling pines get drunk together around Yule, like we do, and blubber on about bullets in bark and red stains at their roots. They don’t think much of me, these trees, and that’s fine. I make offerings to them just the same, for they are wiser than I will ever be.

We’re nearly there, and the sky is a somber, dusty violet. The sun is pitiful these days, isn’t it? Rising up behind the haunted veil, warming my wilting herb garden for a few hours before sinking in a soft-bellied solar surrender.

That moon, though…

She is at Her most virile now. She calls to me even by the light of day and begs me to harvest all the long-fanged feminine dark magick I have, bids me to come here and sit in reverence among the lost and holy dead, to commence the ceremonies of a most twisted Yule, and to commune with the specters who have, like you, left me curled in a wet and trembling heap of black silk and over-pale flesh.

And so we begin. Are you ready?

You are my witness, yet again, and a perfect one at that. Who better than you to watch me build my small shrines for those souls who loved me for a time then faded into the ether? Sit just there, as I sit on your grave when I need to remember your tongue on my skin, but hand me the nog. I’d like to introduce you to my mother tree, this low-branched, bare oak I used to climb when my eyes were brighter and my will was stronger. I won’t tell you her name; she wouldn’t want me to, but if you listen close you might hear it whistled through her most brittle twigs.

She holds my melancholy for me, you see. She always has, cradling it between her bark-skinned breasts like a faceless grandmother. This is the branch where I hang the stick-star for my father, that bearded and brave-hearted biker-patriarch who won metals in a war he never wanted to join and returned with rebellion boiling in his veins. The ghosts who roam these woods are much like he was in life, honorable, adorned, but most certainly not without sin. Here, on this lowest branch, I hang the small star for the baby that was never to be, never to sleep in my hand-painted crib or suckle milk from my cracked nipples. I like to think they’re together, my daughter and her wizard-like grandfather, but, alas, they were destined to neither meet in the ether nor on this more pleasurable plane.

Don’t worry, you beast. She wasn’t yours. Ha! You sure do think a lot of yourself for being a dead man, don’t you?

I see you’re getting bored. I might tell you how insulting it is to bore a ghost, but never mind. I just have one totem left to hang, but, before I do, join me in a quick song. Do you remember? It was your favorite, that agonizingly pop-py and soulless tune that made me cringe every time it came on the radio. Ugh, how you tortured me with it. Let’s sing it now, my love, as this last star’s for you and you alone. You taught me to love and love well, to grieve in annual waves of remembrance and forgetting, and to give a medicinal nod to the sadness that threatens to overtake me on these longest nights.

Yes, you taught me much, but those who still live are beckoning me home, and I’m out of blood and stars. You stay here and watch over this humble memorial, and I’ll smile when I think of you here resting amongst the wolves, your spectral frame sitting atop last year’s half-broken, half-rotten ornaments. Part of me still longs for you, you know, but I’ve warmer lovers with still beating hearts to hold me now. The flesh is indeed fickle, and this moon always reminds me that embodied passion is blissfully ephemeral. I must go, and so must you.

Until next year, my love.

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Danielle is a heathen visionary, Aquarian mischief-maker, and word-witch. The author of Woman Most Wild and The Holy Wild., she teaches internationally and has facilitated circles, embodiment trainings, communal spell-work, and seasonal rituals since 2007. She is the founder of The Hag School, the lead teacher for the Flame-Tender Teacher Training, and believes in the emerging power of wild collectives and sudden circles of curious dreamers, cunning witches, and rebellious artists in healing our ailing world. As an Irish-American, Danielle’s witchcraft is deeply rooted in Celtic philosophy and Irish mythology. She believes fervently in the role of ancestral healing, embodiment, and animism in fracturing the longstanding systems supporting white-body supremacy and environmental unconsciousness, is committed to centering the voices and teachings of POC and LGBTQIA+ folks in her work as founder of Living Mandala, LLC and The Hag School and supports organizations and initiatives that do the same. Parent to two beloved wildlings and partner to a potter, Danielle fills her world with nature, family, and intentional awe. Find her praying under pine trees, wandering through the haunted places, and whispering to her grandmothers’ ghosts.
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Danielle is a heathen visionary, Aquarian mischief-maker, and word-witch. The author of Woman Most Wild and The Holy Wild., she teaches internationally and has facilitated circles, embodiment trainings, communal spell-work, and seasonal rituals since 2007. She is the founder of The Hag School, the lead teacher for the Flame-Tender Teacher Training, and believes in the emerging power of wild collectives and sudden circles of curious dreamers, cunning witches, and rebellious artists in healing our ailing world. As an Irish-American, Danielle’s witchcraft is deeply rooted in Celtic philosophy and Irish mythology. She believes fervently in the role of ancestral healing, embodiment, and animism in fracturing the longstanding systems supporting white-body supremacy and environmental unconsciousness, is committed to centering the voices and teachings of POC and LGBTQIA+ folks in her work as founder of Living Mandala, LLC and The Hag School and supports organizations and initiatives that do the same. Parent to two beloved wildlings and partner to a potter, Danielle fills her world with nature, family, and intentional awe. Find her praying under pine trees, wandering through the haunted places, and whispering to her grandmothers’ ghosts.

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