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An Exquisite Belonging: The Aching Witchery of the...

An Exquisite Belonging: The Aching Witchery of the Story-Collector

the house of twigs witchcraft heathern wild woman thot danielle dulsky

She came to my door fire-eyed this morning, retching pomegranate juice and demanding to know where my underworld words come from.

I told her I woke without waking last night, covered in eggshell and afterbirth, breathing soft and slow into that ‘twixt-and-‘tween place where the old ruler-giants lounge about with the thin-limbed lightning children beneath the immortal yew branches and saggy-boned willows, where the haunted mists snake about the ogham-carved stones and the salt hags whisper and conspire in the sea caves below it all. Here, the land prays to the sky who prays to the sea. Here, the spirit of place is built from storm and longing, and the tree sprites take offerings of milk and song from humble Witches who know not to ask their names.

I’ve learned to come here often, to bathe in the bitter, ancient liminal when I become too sure of my wits, to step freely onto the moss-covered earth this rebellious blood of mine somehow remembers, and to submit to the upwelling mass-resurrection of stories as they claw their way sunward from their loamy graves like howling undead poetry, gripping the roots of the forgotten oak-gods and hissing fragments of myth and hymn in a language the Faerie-wise grandmothers spoke but their daughters lost. I’ve learned to fall to my knees and listen, to quietly collect the bits of teeth and bone, seal-skin and limpet shell, antler and blackthorn branch. I’ve learned to resist the ephemeral rush of sewing it all together too quickly using ink instead of spit or golden store-bought threads instead of hair plucked from my own head. I’ve learned to be scribe for the wilder ghosts, and I’ve learned to dig my nails deep into the wet-thumping heart of this heathen landscape that refuses to be taught or tamed, to lick the unruined soul of soil, sea, and sky, and to devour that raw, mythic meat handed to me by my foremothers and tasting of primordial womb-water and battle iron.

There’s a righteous ache to this place, you see. There’s an undefinably exquisite belonging I sense only when I’m here, only when I’d willingly let my skin turn to freckled bark, my eyes to berries, and my tongue stretch long and split into feather-leafed twigs that share epic tales when the wind whistles through them from the west in just the right way, at just the right time. Here, I mourn for the place before I leave it, and, should I be gone too long, my sacred well of sweet storyteller’s nectar is sure to run dry, I know. Should I neglect to visit this hallowed crossroads where the old gods meet my modern desire, I fear I may forget the ceremonies I’ve spent this entire fragile life of mine remembering, slowly and painfully patchwork-sewn together from nightmares of disemboweled unholy men, dream-visions of grandmother owls who teach me their hunter-raptor language, and a certain deep and ancestral knowing to which I will forever owe a great debt, to which I continually build my stone shrines and make my humble offerings of prayerful poetry.

There’s an obsession to it, I lastly told that hungry heart. There’s a pained and isolated life-or-death commitment to such word-witching and myth collecting, and, at its best, there’s no glittering romance in it at all. There’s bleary-eyed compulsion and devil’s-hour exhaustion, but there are no velvet-robes and dripping gothic candelabras here. There are stained clothes and sour breath. There are bloody finger-prints on pages and neglected lovers. There’s rotten fruit and dead roses, frozen joints and cracked lips, and an unbeauteous, hot, ghoulish discipline that might just keep animating my corpse-cold hands once my tired soul has returned forever to those mistlands I visit now only while I sleep.

She left me then, that one who demanded my secrets, and I brewed some medicinal nog in her honor and sat to write this reflection lest I forget why I was born into this body.

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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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