Sacred Symbols and the Witch Next Door
It’s Tuesday at five o’clock. I punch out, lock up my desk, and leave the dreaded office for the evening. As I walk out of the side door, I imagine that I’m going through one of those automatic car washes, and the brushes and water are removing the day’s stresses and negativity from me (I’m a title clerk at a car dealership, and as you can imagine, dealing with the DMV every day tends to build up negativity). By the time I get to my car, I’m feeling good, stress free and ready for the evening. I look up and see another Carolina thunderstorm rolling in. It’s going to be a 30-minute drive in the rain, and that makes me smile.
By the time I meander my way out of the parking lot, the rains have started. I roll down my window and stick my hand out. As I drive down the street, going with the flow at 45 mph, I feel the bite on my palms and wrists. Like thousands of needles, the drops seem to pierce my skin, infusing me with the energy of Water and Wind. My entire left side is soaked, and I don’t seem to mind. The family in the mini-van next to me stares slack-jawed, thinking me to be insane. I feel sorry for them. If they only knew how good this feels, how cleansing it is, their heads would hang out of the windows of the van like Labradors. I turn into the parking lot of the grocery store to pick up something for cakes and ale tonight. The rain is coming down in sheets. Thunder cracks and rumbles, making the ground shake. Lightning strikes are everywhere. A handful of people run to their cars, holding a few grocery bags and covering their large heads with thin arms to shield themselves. I have the sudden urge to strip naked, arms out in childlike joy, and dance in deformed circles throughout the parking lot until I’m dizzy and fall into a puddle, laughing. The only thing stopping me is the patrol car parked nearby, with the cop inside catching up on his paperwork. I stroll leisurely into the store and pass a small group of old southern women staring at me as they huddle just behind the automatic doors waiting for the storm to subside. One of them tells me that I’ll get sick from that, and that I should have at least tried to hurry into the store where it’s dry. I look at her and say, “Water is a sacred symbol. I am Cleansed and Purified by the Mother.”
When I’ve finished my transaction and head out of the store, the rain has slowed to barely more than a drizzle. As I turn out of the parking lot, it has stopped all together. Again, I’ve rolled down my window and stuck my arm out; now it’s just the Air that I feel on my skin. I inhale the crisp smells only detected after a storm. My lungs expand, and I feel the butterflies in my stomach. That smell always seems to rejuvenate me. I pull into my driveway, turn off the car and go inside. I put the cakes and ale in the refrigerator, then head straight for the back door. On my deck, I sit and enjoy the rolling hills and farmland behind my house. The smell of the after rain still clings to the Air. I breathe deeply and close my eyes. I feel at one with the Air, with the sky. A light breeze kisses my face. As the breeze kicks up, it wraps around me, a swirling blanket of the Gods. I am given the gift of the East, Air as its symbol, and I take that with me back into the house.
The rest of the coven arrives. I change into my robes and we go into the altar room to set up. I lead them through the chants and the worship, we dine on the cakes and ale, and we meditate briefly before opening circle. After ritual, we sit and catch up on what’s going on in each other’s lives. We laugh, we talk, and we laugh some more. By 9:30 they show themselves out, and I return to the altar room. I light all of the candles once again and stare into the flame of one of my altar candles. I feel my spirit disconnect from my physical body. I enter a trance, and am lost in the awesome power of the Fire. My mind becomes one with the dancing flame and images flood my head. Insights are gained, wisdoms etched into my psyche to forever become a part of me. My education continues, with the Lord and Lady my teachers. The Fire is a symbol of my knowledge. My passion swells as I strive to learn everything…to know…to be. I become aware that I’ve hit the climax of my trance and feel the cycling down, the beginning of the end of the controlled burn. The images slow, and I am once again aware that it is a candle at which I stare. I thank the Gods for bestowing the gnosis upon me, and carefully extinguish the flame.
I am unaware of the time, and do not care to know. I need to ground myself, but rather than do it inside, I instead choose to take our offerings from ritual and bury it outside in the Earth. In the backyard, I find a small, rich patch of soil. Most of the yard is clay, except for here. I dig deeper than needed. Halfway down I toss aside my trowel, electing instead to feel the Earth in my bare hands. As I dig I allow the energies raised within me to pour down into the Earth. The smell of the grass and weeds and dirt permeate me. I feel calm and relaxed, bathed in the glow of the full moon. Carefully I scrape the offering off of the dish. I close my eyes and feel good, knowing that however small it is, this gift of thanks to the Gods will decompose, and what grows in this spot will receive some extra nutrition. All returns to the Earth in good time. I repack the hole I’ve dug and remain on my knees for a few more minutes. The Earth, our symbol of life, our living organism.
These are the most sacred of symbols, the Elements. Water, Air, Fire and Earth all connect us to the Spirit. I stand up slowly, beginning to feel the effects of exhaustion. I turn my head to the right and see a neighbor peeking out the blinds at me. I think to myself that I’m doing nothing strange here, yet tomorrow morning I’ll be the block’s topic of conversation. A Mona Lisa smile crosses my lips as I wave to her and she quickly moves away from the window. I go back into the house, knowing that I’m just the everyday Witch next door.