Walking across the freshly harvested field of hay, I watched the sun as it sank, little by little, between the great oaks on the hillside. The trees seemed to be burning in the autumn colors of orange, gold and red. The air quickly became crisp and cool.
Smoke from my Great Grandmother’s chimney lay heavy in the air, like it was dancing in the vanishing twilight. The sweet aroma of the evening placed images within my mind. For me, it was as if the essence from times past were encircling me in a mist of stories not yet told.
I could hear the crunch of each of my footsteps as I walked across the field home. Suddenly, the sounds changed around me. I heard more footsteps, a wagon bouncing across the bridge, and cars turning down the dirt road, chased by the dusty shadows behind them.
I ran as quickly as my short legs would carry me to reach the house so I could hug those that were my family. My heart was pounding like a drum from some distant land. This night was special; this was the night of the ancestors, the night of the calling, calling the dead.
I had been watching all day, for I understood the magick that this night would bring. The energy found within the veils and the mystical visions that would be called to those that stood within the circle to be cast.
They were called the sisters, my aunts. Each one filled my life with stories and knowledge of the old ways. Each was a Witch and Crone in her own right. Each one was different and each was a force of nature, independent and strong. Not one was accountable to the other until they stood beneath the moon as a covenant of power.
My aunts, my family, were not as other families. We didn’t look the same, we didn’t speak the same, and we didn’t even think the same. But that was okay. Now I see what a wonderful and magickal gift that was; diverse energies, histories, and traditions that came together as one all-encompassing power.
My Great Grandmother was Cajun. Her Native American beauty gave her dark skin and silken raven hair marked with silver from time and wisdom. Myself, born of mixed blood, had been given extremely light-colored skin and white blond hair, what those in the old south called a “toe head.”
Even as a child, I learned the judgmental hearts of others. I saw how some treated my Great Grandmother, how some looked at us as odd when they saw us together. Sometimes people could be extremely rude and say hurtful things.
Many would turn their backs as we walked by. Some didn’t understand and didn’t realize that this dark-skinned woman was my Grandmother. But within all the dim-wittedness of those around us, what I remember most was my Great Grandmother’s pride and forgiving heart.
As twilight turned into night, the great feast was placed on the long table in my Grandmother’s house. The sisters respectfully placed the setting on the table for the ancestors. I was now old enough to help and got to light the candles all around the room.
There were countless candles. Most were the bees’ wax candles my Great Grandmother and the sisters had made during the spring and again just at the break of fall. I walked quietly from table to table, lighting each candle with a blessing. The honey-scent fragrance, mixed with the smells from the food and the holiday, gave way to an energy that made my skin tingle with excitement.
Once the feast was ended, it was time to ready for the calling. My Great Grandmother asked me to go to the back porch and bring her in her broom. I stood for a moment outside on that tiny wood porch held in place by the stones under each corner.
I looked at the glow coming through the windows and falling on the sparkling ground, now wet with dew. The sensation of my family gleamed in the warmth that shown from within that small house. I had no doubt that the spirits would be moved to join us that night. My spirit had found flight with the energy of love that surrounded me.
The sisters now walk within the veils with my Great Grandmother, and at this time of year, the time of the calling, I will welcome them all and ask that they join my table for the feast. Now I am the Crone; I seek within my Great Grandmother’s teaching to be a wise woman.
I endeavor to teach all those that walk our path in the old ways, with acceptance, truth, and light. My family has aged, changed, and grown. My circle is filled with those that I love, both brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, in a blending of various traditions. I am truly blessed.
Not long ago, while attending different gatherings, I sadly watched and heard many that walk our path begin to rank themselves among each other. For lack of a better term, I would have to say it was a syndrome of “my broom is bigger than your broom, ” or my tradition is better than your tradition.
It frightens me that we have somehow decided we are better than another because of what name they choose to call themselves or what magickal path they walk.
Do we really need to judge each other?
Many of us proudly call ourselves Witches and Pagans. Some use the traditions of the path they have selected within their title. Some will call themselves by nothing at all, but simply know they have found themselves within their own hearts.
Along this diverse path, I have spoken to many within our communities, and they speak of finding their way home and reclaiming life within our varied and blending traditions, escaping the critical judgments of past beliefs.
The sisters, my aunts, were also very different. They came from all over the Ozarks. Some of them were old, some younger, some dark, some light, some with grey hair and some with red. They were scholars, teachers, mothers, and wise women. Each was as different as the night is to the day, yet each was respectful of the other beyond question.
They did not talk about what the other family members were doing or not doing. They did not discuss in what manner one worked within magick over the other. They respected each other with honor and shared their understandings together.
In truth, we are each individuals; our practices and beliefs are equally individual. We are all following our own spiritual and magickal path. Let us be a gathering of like-minded souls, yet, at the same time, strive to be open- minded and accepting of each other’s personal differences. We are all equal as we walk together, no matter which path we take in the walking.
It is not necessary to pull others down to strengthen ourselves. Strength is found as our circle grows in understanding of each other. As we enter this time of welcoming the ancients and the wise ones, let us stand as a cohesive brotherhood and sisterhood, brought together by the belief, that within understanding, all things are possible.
It is time that we all, each one of us, reflect on how far we have came, and how hard a path we all traveled. Remembering the sacrifices of those that walked this path before us, let us think before we judge or criticize another. Then shall we truly stand together in this magickal circle as it expands within the universe.
Together let us be as one family to celebrate our beliefs within life and magick.