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The Banshee’s Gift: A Lughnasadh Dream-Vision of C...

The Banshee’s Gift: A Lughnasadh Dream-Vision of Corn and Blood

The first harvest was looming, and my dreams became bitter tea steeped too long in golden light, juniper berries, mountain winds, and resurrected childhood memories of visitations from late-summer specters. Bound too-tight by the blood-soaked ropes of unrest and weighted by the ancestral shroud of longing handsewn by my grandmothers, I asked for the medicine of a telling nightmare. I asked for my inflamed wanderer’s spirit to be cooled by a most potent vision, for my molten foolishness to harden into a voluptuous shape of objective beauty for all to behold, and for my boiling inherited grief to steam and rise into a cloud of innocence, whimsy, and awe.

I curled to sleep beneath the pines at the fireside and waited for my healing gift, lulled by relentless locusts and intricate frog-speak. I sought those romantic snowscapes and hooded elder guides who wash away my psychic ache with a thoughtful wave of their paper-skinned hand, but I found myself at the edge of a wild and untended corn field where the crows and rats had their way. An overmined land reclaimed, this was. A graveyard where the hungry ghosts of the well-meaning roam in overalls and search endlessly for their red-metal, long-toothed machines was here before me, and I, a stubborn dreamer, was a woman swelling with the sin of unwept sorrows. The land reeked of sweet rot, sea salt, and a certain spiced madness I could not name. I wondered if I was an intruder here on this hallowed ground where the abandoned rows were going about their necessary business of reclaiming a sacredness stolen by industry, and I wondered if I was to meet my end here.

I saw her then, just when the gloaming warmed and wrapped the land in an amber sweetness her horror did not match. She was blue-spotted skin, much paler than a robin’s egg, stretched over twisted bone. She was eyes stitched closed with thick red thread and an open-mouth portal to the darkest realms of human regret. Crouched behind a broken stalk and quivering with a barely contained ethereal eruption, the hag cradled a fraying cornhusk doll against her long-stretching breasts. I knew her in that moment to be Banshee, and I looked straight into the black-milk pool between her lips just when the wailing began.

The quake started low in her hollowed bowels and all warmth was sucked from the air, devoured by the starving vacuum of the keening. I was pulled to her slowly, and I dared not resist.

My dreaming witch’s soul was hungry for the solace of embodied lament only this gruesome creature could offer, and each one of her bleeding tears was an irresistible magnet dragging me closer, latching to my own ungrieved memories of torment and loss. Swallowed by mourning, I could no longer tell if the low and deafening sounds of all-consuming sorrow were hers or mine, and my flesh peaked in tiny, soft tents as if my bones were splintering into sharp pins and reaching for her.

She stood then, on limbs too long and with head turned in an unnatural way, and the last of her white hair fell from her head. So close I was to her now that I could discern layer-upon-layer of blood-tear stains on her cracked cornflower-blue face, and each crimson streak was a story of land ravaged, flesh torn, and innocence ripped from the breast. Looking deep into her throat and readying myself to be willingly eaten, I glimpsed my own face, the fat-and-freckled cheeks that were mine as a babe, grinning there in the well-mouth of the banshee and free of the slow-gathered trauma of my years.

I gave the last of it to that banshee then, the final heft of every death, every blow to soul; I let her swallow it all whole, leaving nothing unnamed, and I woke lighter near the dying fire, whispering prayers to Lugh the lightning god that I may use the banshee’s gift well, that I might properly honor these so potent days of the reaping.

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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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