Autumn is here. Not astronomically, not “oficially” here, but there is always one day when you can feel the vibrations of autumn in your bones, in the trees, in the wind. And that time came last Thursday.
I left home to do the last harvest before the Dark Half of the Year (during that time I only harvest things for special purposes, either good or bad), ready and willing to harvest the last bits of mugwort, wormwood, hops, and whatever I would find. The weather was strange. The sun was shining that day, but the wind and the clouds appeared and disappeared constantly. The wind was no longer a summer wind, it had some weight, strange weight on it.
And so, I gathered the herbs, went down a few paths, and as I was coming home, teardrops started falling. At the crossroads, I decided not to get back home, but took another path, to visit a good friend of mine: a fig tree. Fig trees are traditionally related to the Devil, as it is thought that the Cross made to crucify Christ was made of fig tree wood. Their roots, their trunk are filled with knots, as if they were populated with damned souls. But their smell, sweet and bewitching, has always attracted me since I was a kid. I made sure to find a fig tree when I arrived to the place where I live now, and so, I try to mingle with it as often as possible.
That being said, I went to visit my old friend. I was harvesting marvellous hyssop in the middle of the path, when I heard a voice behind me. “What are you carrying, remeira?” (Remeiera is a Catalan word for ‘healer’). It was an old man, smiling sweetly, with a cloth bag in his hand. He was surprised to see my basket full of wormwood, and said that nobody used that herb in the region. I explained a few medicinal usages for the plant, and did not mention any other thing. But we carried on talking. He spoke to me about how much he loves plants, how often he goes to the woods just to smell them, and then, out of a sudden, he said: “hey, do you want to see my garden?” I agreed, and followed him to a old wooden fence by the pathway. He opened the fence, and there was a fantastic amount of plants and fruit trees, all of them lush, green, vibrant, and inmensely well taken care of.
He proceeded to show me a patch of wild sage he was specially proud of, and urged me to take some branches. I had never smelled a sage like that, he smiled even more speaking about its smell. Then, he showed me his apple trees, raspberries, dandelions, etc. I had never seen a person so proud of his garden, and he kept talking about the time he spends there. Then, his expression changed, and said worryingly:
You see, my father always said: “We take so many things out of the earth, we must return something to it. We, people who love nature, must take care of these things.”
He smiled again. Preoccupation was gone. We kept speaking and he said I would be always welcome. He gave me four apples. I thanked him and went away, towards the tree. There I offered the fruits of the harvest, and got back home, as it started to rain again.
It is really hard for me to explain what happened that afternoon in a logical sense. But logic plays no role in here, so I will stick to my first thought, and consider myself greeted by a Keeper of the Land I live in, and will cherish that harvest ceremony forever.
The thing is that, Rituals, as we envision them in current Witchcraft traditions, are a series of marked steps to reach a goal which ultimately trascends the mundane. But after this incident, my concept of ritual has become a bit more organic, and I have understood that we do not get to decide on the steps we make, but the ritual is marked by Spirits, and the only thing to be done in our part, is to follow them without fear.
That being said, I want to thank your inmense support, for you make Occvlta possible, and announce that the time has come for the making of the Dark Incenses: the Necromancy and the Theriomorph incense, which will be ready in October, together with more reliquaries, rosaries, and other surprises. I really wish this time there will be enough things for everyone!