For Imbolc this year, I decided on a new mission, something to incubate. The God energy, working with the masculine as opposed to the Sacred Feminine. Due to current astrological influences and the fact that I also assigned His worship to others, I chose Mars. Most of the coveners are assigned Goddesses to research, specifically Inanna and Persephone. The two men, or 'witchboys' as I like to call them, were assigned Mars. If I am High Priestess, leading a group, I would think its best to know something about working with the Gods. In recollection, what masculine energies have I ever called upon in Circle, save Jack in the Green, Pan? Being always aware of the saying "those who can't, teach", I am acutely aware of the need to gain knowledge and insight in this area.
I set my altar. It is on some blood red tissue, saved from perhaps some recent birthday gift packaging. On it goes a red candle which I anoint with pepper. I place a "Sword of Mars' as I term it, an elaborate and very sharp knife sent by a fellow witch as part of a gift sometime last year. I place crimson amaryllis blooms on the altar. A bay leaf also gets its place. I would have preferred bay laurel, as is correspondenced with Mars. Hmm, I tell myself, is bay laurel the same as culinary bay? Make a note to investigate.
I light the candle, call the Circle and invoke Mars. I am expectant, hopeful, anxious to see who or what appears. I feel a tingling in the spine, a straightening. I think of the classic Mars influences, aggession, vigor, fertility and feel a slight change in my emotional temperature. I listen carefully for whisperings in my mind...words and phrases that will appear out of nowhere. Nothing yet, the inner space is silent.
Within a day or so of invoking Mars, all hell breaks loose in my coven. One of the brand new members, a woman who attended one 'beginner's' session is angry over my reminding the coven 'homework' is due. I have tried for months to get the coveners to do the work I assign them each Circle. It is usually quite basic, knowing what certain herbs or stones are used for magickally. They are usually lackadaisical about their assignments. Some do them enthusiastically and others don't do them, period. I feel at times resentful as if my generosity and time is being exploited. I ask them repeatedly if they are engaging in a spiritual practice at home. I wonder if some of them don't use witchcraft as a 'put away' religion. They put it away after Circle and pull it out on the Sunday afternoons we meet. I have seen them in their cars before circle, going over notes and reading. A couple younger coveners used to laugh and joke that they did their homework on the way to Circle. I suppose I was harsh in one of the emails I sent as a stern reminder that the work is due. This particular woman feels put upon and takes offense and lashes out. I am angry over her response. Anger begets Anger. Mars rises. I forward her email to the group for comment and further warning that I am sick of their 'manana' attitudes and demand they do their homework in the generous time allowed or face the consequences of possibly being dismissed from the Circle. Another of the women, one I have come to care for, writes an upset email saying don't I remember what it was like to have a child at home, the business of daily life,etc? I feel my blood boiling as I read her litany of complaints. She is one who has been wishy washy about attending events, and spends a great deal of time voicing how physically ill she is with diabetes and fibromyalgia. How depressed she is. Once again, these seem tiresome complaints from a woman who didn't want to do her homework. The situation escalates, ending with a couple coveners, including a man new to us, having never attended a Circle but one that I admitted into the online communications and had graciously invited to join coveners at a wine cafe and then hosted a dinner for in my home, posting an email publicly for all to see, lambasting me online. One calls me 'drunk with power' and 'tyrannical'. The man, we will call him Dasher, has introduced himself as a mighty witch, an Oracle of unheralded power. He tells my group that I have demanded to know his allegiance with the whining woman. He says he offers experience, not necessarily wisdom. His whole tone is authoritative as if he is speaking to a misbehaving child (me). He is trying to rat me out. He chastens me for daring to invoke Mars, and says the group is too inexperienced to be working with Mars. Amazing what the Oracle comes up considering he's only met a few of the members and never attended a Circle.
Let me digress. Dasher contacted me via witchvox.net, that online Pagan meet up where I have a personal and group profile listed. I initially tell him I cannot meet him, our group is not accepting new applicants, I don't feel energetic enough to do another pre-Circle interview. He emails back he feels hurt by my response. Feeling guilty, I clear my schedule and make an appointment to meet. He is new to Bend,having come from Portland from some other place and some other place before that. We meet at a dark bar downtown. He is twitchy, refuses to look me in the eye, uncomfortably, awkwardly fidgeting. We order lunch. I find I have to keep the conversation going, I ask about his past work with witchcraft. He spins a long tale of lusting after the comely daughter of the local metaphysical bookshop in the town he grew up in. She was his entrance into witchcraft and the occult. He has been in several Circles and says he is considered a High Priest , and even at the age of 43, an elder. He tells a fantastical tale of being such a revered Oracle, the last group he was in physically carried him into Circle, he was so sacred his feet weren't allowed to touch the ground. He is fascinating but troubling. I have spents years working the mentally ill and little chiming bells are sounding. He never asks me anything but rather rambles a monologue. Towards the end of the first hour, he appears to have loosened up and is able to glance in my eyes for the most fleeting of moments. I tell him we are having a get together, myself and some of the coveners at a wine cafe that evening and he is welcome to join us. He shows up at the winecafe and I introduce him to about 5 members who are still there, some having left already. He seems much more at ease than he was earlier in the day. I have warned the coveners I found him odd, possibly mentally ill and would be very curious for their take on him. He seems lucid and pleasant enough and I get the 'he seems okay to me" from them. Still, something troubles me about him. There is a darkness, a little itchy something that doesn't feel right. I invite him to a dinner in his honor in my home a week later. In the interim, our Circle celebrates Imbolc. The day of our Circle, he texts me wondering if, by chance, I would like him to attend, he is free for the day. I tell him thanks but no, that he will no doubt be at Ostara and remind him that I am hosting a party for him in a couple days,
The night of the dinner arrives. I have invited 3 witches from my group, one is the whining woman (she hadn't started whining yet as homework was yet to be assigned), the other was one I have wanted to get to know a bit more and the other was, well, probably a bad choice as she was a beginner witch and maybe the night's activities would overwhelm her. Dasher arrives and seems comfortable enough. Dinner goes without a hitch, the conversation flows. After dinner, we cast Circle and Dasher goes into trance. He has offered to divine for us. He envelopes himself in a cloak which he tells us he wears to Renaissance Festivals. This sounds another chime in my head, very soft. He invokes Mercury, his patron God. He emerges from the cloak shortly, his eyes squinty. I pose a question to him. He hesitates a few moments and then speaks softly. So soft I can barely make out what he is saying. He comes up with some psycho babble "the answer is within" sort of crap that I have come to expect from fake psychics. I thank him for his answer and ask if anyone else wants to ask a question. The one woman cannot think of anything, the other is giggling nervously and the whining woman looks frightened, almost teary. Eventually some others ask questions and he gives them the same wishy washy replies. I feel the crown chakra, the top of my head, spinning and a commanding presence flows into my body. I find myself jumping up from the floor and clapping my hands loudly. Hecate has filled my body and is demanding I speak. I go to each woman, and Dasher and give brief predictions. I remember the words "Hecate doesn't mince words" coming from my mouth. I immediately feel embarrassed, who am I to jump into Dasher's game? Am I being rude?, intruding so suddenly. After awhile we close the circle and retire to the dining room table where Dasher is now going to read tarot cards for us. Oddly enough, all his tarot readings are now echoing the predictions Hecate has just made. A bell is sounding. I notice the whining woman at the end of the table. Her eyes are wild, staring at the table as though a horror is unfolding in front of her. Her hands hover above the table as with a will of their own. Does anyone else notice this grand display happening at the end of the table? I don't want to encourage dramatics, so I continue chatting with Dasher and the other two women. I notice Dasher looking at her out of the corner of his eyes. She is becoming more agitated. She is starting to look like something out of a grade B horror flick , like the buxom blonde who is forced to watch the hooded man gut her boyfriend. I am afraid she is going have some sort of psychotic break. I excuse myself from the table and ask her to accompany me into another room. I ask her what the hell is wrong with her, whats going on? She breaks into tears, says Dasher's energy is bowling her over. I ask if she feels its negative. She says no, just so powerful. I ask her to shield herself, she doesn't know how. She seems in a confessional mood, she tells me the group she belonged to in Arizona merely handed her a script to read during Sabbats and never really taught her anything. They never socialized outside the Circle and this was all 'new to her'. I quickly teach her a few shielding techniques. She tells me she had a vision of Dasher and a woman we'll call Amber. She said she knows, by sheer psychism, that Amber recently had Dasher's cat in her home while Dasher was in the process of moving, she describes Amber physically. Its all a vision, she explains, the kind of visions she's been having since childhood. I tell her she needs to validate herself and asks if she feels comfortable asking Dasher about the accuracy of her vision. She agrees, we return to the dining room and she does so. After awhile, the group leaves and goes home, save Dasher. I can't get rid of him. He seems so lonely. He sits for another hour, telling another rambling monologue of his early life, etc. We both puzzle over whining woman's 'vision' which Dasher tells me is correct, save the hair color of Amber. I tell him I think she actually knows something concrete, that perhaps she saw this Amber on Facebook or something and its just buried in the recesses of her mind, emerging as a mysterious 'vision'. Dasher tells me whining woman is texting him daily since meeting at the winecafe. Nothing sexual, chit chat. Dasher thinks the woman has a crush on him. I finally stand up and Dasher takes the cue its time to leave.
He emails the next morning saying 'mystery solved' regarding the vision. He has ascertained that whining woman has overheard or has been privy to a conversation between him and a mutual friend in which Amber was discussed. He tells me this Amber is a very troubled woman and he is glad his association with her is done. He is concerned because whining woman apparently had this very Amber living in her home for awhile and he feels this could indicate that whining woman herself is disturbed. I ask him to please keep firm boundaries, whining woman is supposably living with the man of her dreams and I would hate for her to become too distracted from her primary relationship. He agrees. I email whining woman and ask her point blank, does she know Amber? was it a vision? She doesn't answer the was it a vision? part but spins some increasingly weird story about a transexual, it becomes too disjointed for me to follow.Shortly after, whining woman takes up the hue and cry of the other woman who didn't want to do homework and goes so far as to make a pitch publicly for others to join her brand new coven when I move from Bend (or I guess NOW if they want). She says she is an experienced witch and ready to lead a circle. I cannot believe, on the email addresses I supplied, she is trying to steal my coven! She says harsh things about me. The first woman had angrily sent me texts after I told her I agreed with her , she was probably too busy to be in our group, thanks and goodbye. I recall whining woman had befriended the new woman at the beginners meeting and they had spent a lot of time discussing whining woman's daughter, they thought she was a medium which the new woman also claimed to be. They had exchanged phone numbers and email addresses and I am sure had been in communication as whining woman echoed in her complaint what the first woman had said. The situation continues to spiral. In a moment of stupidity, I send an email to the group defending my homework rules and telling everyone I think one of the member's did a lousy job on her altar to Inanna. Not in those words, just that I wasn't 'feeling it'. This provokes an outburst from that member who spews venom. My first reaction is to react, I want to send the people this woman says I arbitrarily dismissed from the group, an email telling them how this woman told me in detail of her dislike for them. I don't. I dismiss the first woman as a hysteric. Whining woman I settle for a lesser punishment. I email the group the story of what happened at the dinner. I realize I am defending myself. Is Mars to blame for this? Dasher insists it was stupid of me to invoke Mars, that I was above my head in invoking Him. I feel a sane witch would tell me, for God's sake,undo your altar to Mars and be done with Him. I have always lived on the limb, played with fire. The addictive part of my self is feeding on the adrenaline, I can't seem to stop myself from pushing the envelope. I want to know MORE.
Today I sit before my altar, I invoke Mars to go on a walk with me. I feel His now familiar presence take hold of me as I stride outside. I feel invigorated , like I could walk for miles. I ask Him send me a sign of your presence. Almost immediately, I look down. On the concrete sidewalk is a length of red yarn, long enough to wrap around my wrist. Aha! I think , a sure sign, RED string. Red , His color. I continue on my walk, noticing the pines all around me, pine being one of His correspondences. I start to notice broken glass littered along the walkway. Sharp, dangerous, like Mars Himself. I see a beer bottle, laying cold and solitary, the words 'drunk with power' come back to haunt me. What does it mean? Anything? or is just a beer bottle laying in the dirt? I continue on and see a small, shining tassle of golden foil laying marooned against a bush. Mars and His shining Sword, gold being another color of His. I am seeing Mars all around me, He is speaking clearly and loudly today. Is it just my interpretation of commonplace things? Is interpretation a part of magick? I ask for one more sign and a few paces later, look down to find a pine cone squarely in my path.
Mars is with me. I am His servant for the coming month, maybe longer, who knows how long He will draw me to Him? I feel giddy as if I am beginning a love affair. I keep hearing the words, "Mother, Father, Holy Ghost". Will I have to surrender and sacrifice all others due to His aggressive power? At this moment in time, my own desire to know more is willing. Strategy, I hear Him whisper, make your strategy. It is strategy to NOT react sometimes. Learn to Master your emotions or you are a servant to them. Not reacting is sometimes the best reaction. I drop an offering into a brick I see laying on its side, 3 holes gaping up to the sun. Mars, I think to myself, I am yours.