The Dark Months Are Coming
We look out for one another. These are my people, but I am not theirs. They know it and so do I. I am a part of their world, and not of it. I am witch.
The dark months are coming and I await them eagerly.
I cannot wait to hide in the darkness, to become invisible, to become myself. The dark is comforting, like a mother, holding me in its embrace. It nourishes my soul, heals it, and makes it whole again.
It is at this time that I feel the pull of nature, of the great outdoors the most. I love all seasons, but these darker months are mine.
I can hear my woods call to me, can feel it. It is an urge that must not, no, cannot be ignored, and so I pull on my boots and whistle for the dogs, and together, witch and hounds, we set off.
The sky is a tumult of grey, boisterous clouds, heavy with the promise of rain. I can smell the ozone. I love this place, where I live the most on days like these, always have. I don't know why, except that maybe because it seems to match this council estate.
"The concrete jungle," people call the street on which I live...when they are being nice. It, and its residents are the butt of all jokes. When you tell people where you live they struggle to hide their distaste and hold onto their bags a little tighter, as though my living there makes me a criminal.
I suppose it does, to some.
I love these people. They are mine. Weed dealers, single mothers, struggling families, terrible teens already disillusioned with life: the estate is a veritable melting pot of life's downtrodden. I trust these people. These people will argue with you, fight with you, but I trust them.
We look out for one another. These are my people, but I am not theirs. They know it and so do I. I am a part of their world, and not of it.
I am witch.
I turn my back on the estate, if only for a while, and head across the playing field and onto the industrial estate. It's never quiet here, not even in the dead of night. The factories never shut, not even for one full day a year. God forbid anyone should have any time off. We kill ourselves for this, to come and work in these giant grey windowless behemoths for a wage that doesn't stretch, doesn't even cover the basics.
The dogs pull for they know the way, are eager to swap the concrete for grass and soil. These woods are theirs too, and they know they can be free, if only for a while. We turn a corner and, snuggled between more grey buildings, is a narrow gravel track. We follow it, past yards of piled tyres and rusting machinery.
On each side, the trees, sparse at first, grow thicker and denser, the path steeper, until you finally reach the top, a big wide meadow. The tall grass is yellowing and soon it will die back, but for now the dogs disappear in it. They reemerge, running and nipping one another, playful things, enjoying the simple pleasures of being free, with the wind in their faces and the grass beneath their feet.
I sometimes think we could learn a thing or two from dogs. How to be free. How to be content with our own naturalness.
I follow them slowly, lost in the beauty of this place. It's not a secret, but it feels like it is today. There is no one, other than myself and the dogs here, on this grey and gloomy day. Finally, I can breathe.
The churning of the industrial state, 'productivity', can still be heard if you listen for it, but it's easy to block it out, ignore it. The sounds of nature take over.
Kestrels circle overhead, hovering every so often, uncannily still in the air.
Rabbits hurry to find cover, but the dogs are oblivious to them; they are still too far away, and there are too many scents that delight their noses between them and the rabbits. I sometimes think that dogs have got it right. Look how happy they are to be outside, to be free; to just enjoy the fresh air in your face.
The track leads into the woods, a narrow opening between crowded trees. It's not a big woods, but it's mine, and not the straight rows of man-planted pine common in so many areas.
We slip off the track, disappear into the trees and it's like a different world. Hushed, but alive. The moss covered trunks of hawthorn and birch and oak rise from the ground, and I let my hands linger across them as I move past them, deeper into the woods.
Devils Woods this place is known as. I don't know if that's the official name, but as kids we would come here, and Devils Woods it was then, and is now. They've tried to reclaim this wildness, it is now run by a trust. The work they do is good to be fair, without them these trees would no doubt have been torn down, replaced by more of the housing or industrial estates that ever seem to creep closer.
But they also want you to stay on the track, and tracks are not for me.
The dogs dart here and there. They love it beneath the trees and I let them run. They will not stray, ever the faithful friends.
I'm nearly there now, my clearing. Others have been here, they leave the remains of campfires, rubbish too. I pick up the rubbish, and can feel the thanks of this land. Then I sit down and just be. No meditation or ritual today, though it almost kind of is.
Here I can just be. I feel the power of the earth beneath me, can feel the spirits of land and tree and animal. I wonder if more people knew this, could feel this, would they do more to protect it?
We are connected to this land, to this earth.
Find your spot and protect it.
The threat of fracking creeps ever closer to my town. We can't look to the local authorities to protect us, because even when they try, Big Government slaps them down. So much for democracy.
I won't let it happen here, or anywhere in my town, and to stop it will take action on all fronts, magical and mundane. I will fight. Fighting is second nature to me. I relish it. But I must do more, as must we all. It is all of our responsibility, don't we all rely on Mother Nature?
I close my eyes and breathe deeply, take in the smell of the soil, the scent of the woods. I can feel my strength returning, the healing of my soul, and know that it is time to go, even as I wish I could stay for hours. Time to go and put on my many masks, go back into the world of man.
I call the dogs, and they know, but relish every moment of their freedom, and come running past me and back out onto the tracks, back through the meadow and onto the gravel track. Back into the world of man and commerce and impositions. Back to the forty hours of mindless work a week for wages that do not stretch.
I am of this land, I am of these woods, I am of the rivers and the oceans and the sky and the stars. We all are. Never forget it. It is our strength, this knowledge, this truth.
Rediscover your own wildness and you will rediscover yourself.
My name is Emma Kathryn, an eclectic witch, my path is a mixture of traditional European witchcraft, voodoo and obeah, a mixture representing my heritage. I live in the middle of England in a little town in Nottinghamshire, with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs, Boo and Dexter. When not working in a bookshop full time, I like to spend time with my family outdoors, with the dogs. And weaving magick, of course!
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