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The Ghost Forest Initiation: Cradling the Collecti...

The Ghost Forest Initiation: Cradling the Collective Ache on the Hopeful Edge of Despair

Holy Hag the hosue of twigs danielle dulsky thot witchcraft crow

A faint but persistent sourness in the once-wholesome brine of the sea cast a sudden grief spell upon my cracking eggshell heart, and I summoned a council of ghosts to sit with me there at dusk, to nest in the sand with me while the solstice gloaming softened the last of my hard-armored resignation into warm mud. A spectral forest of salt-choked trees stood behind us, and I could hear the raspy songs of the roots humming low and primal dirges in the lost language of the fallen oaks. I could hear the sun-cracked scales of anxious creatures slithering over creek beds turned to baking stones, and I felt the weight of the devil when a lone crow landed on my shoulder for I, in this somber state, was a better branch than most.

Such poetry there was in this moment, I thought. Such a mighty story I would surely share should I live to see another sunrise and triumphantly return to my people, but my council of specters murmured in disapproval, and I understood this to be my most potent and solitary ceremony, an initiation into the age of melancholic twilight, into the generation of the water-bearer’s backache. I was the spirit of the smoke, the hissing memory of a once wild and ecstatic fire called humanity. I was a ghost tree bleached in salt and sun, and I was a blood-to-blood confluence of ancestral arrogance, sweet revelation, and the warm-bath world of the yet-to-be-born. I was luscious sorrow. I was intentional indulgence and radical sufficiency. I was grieving gratitude, and we, this crow and I, were a still and stubbornly breathing monument to these hallowed and fallowed times, a graven image of radical grace and seaside surrender, a humble ornament soon to be swallowed whole by tide, time, and fog.

danielle dulsky grief hag the house of twigs thot witchraft

My council huddled in close, and the winds shifted in such a way that we understood our final task, our last and most urgent duty to sing through this present armageddon, to stroke each other’s feathers, to coo, and to rock in a more meaningful tidal rhythm, to laugh even now, to laugh especially now, to become apprentices to the absurd and to brew bold antidotes to apathy, to cradle our collective ache close and bake it bread, to beat drums on the decks of the sinking ships, to commune with the most ancient dead- for the rational will most certainly be damned- and to listen with all that we are to what the wilds are whispering when our lights flicker and finally leave us in the dark, when we strike our matches and sit fireside once more, still and singing, with ghosts all around us and thirsty crows on our shoulders, with ocean-roar rhythms echoing in our more hollow bones and a swelling and sensual appreciation for these small ceremonies of a rose in full and doomed bloom, a body praying, and twilight storytelling on that hopeful edge of despair.

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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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