She Speaks the Language of the Crows, That Woman: Syrupy Medicine for the Autumn-Hungry Heart.
Moon of Witch, Moon of Reaper
Wake the wild lightning keeper
Sing her songs of harvest fire,
Colder winds, and horned desire.
Do you know her? She sprouts humble horns on these between-days of slow-creeping vines and grandmotherly moons, quietly crisscrossing the pine wood in her dream-visions of autumn evenings, pensively preparing that healing harvest fire that will wake the ghosts and set her blood to boil, at long last. She houses a cunning, autumn-hungry heart ‘neath her ribs, that woman.
If you stare into the dark liquid center of her eyes too long, you’ll see ruby-dripping trees and steaming cauldrons, smirking fleshless faces and dying gardens. If you stay with her too long, you’ll catch that long-fanged fever she’s had these last restless nights.
She speaks the language of the crows, that woman. If you’re near her while she sleeps, you’ll hear whispers of that ancient avian tongue most of us have forgotten. She’ll sputter and spit. Unmelodious hymns and tragic invocations will spill out in uneven rhythms and with wild intonation. You’ll want to cradle her close and smooth her hair, but a subtle sideways grin will twist her lips and shrink her eyes.
She lives for this, that woman. Her moon-mad eyes have been haunted since the longest day came and went. Her morning altars have been built from bright blooms and browning bones since the eclipse called her into the dark.
Her word-witchery has been channeled straight from the mountain hag, the Cailleach, and the Baba Yaga since this newest moon, and the lines around her eyes have cobwebbed into sigils honoring her mighty dead.
She’s casting fire spells and praying with her whole body, that woman. She’s chanting names of sharp-toothed Goddesses so old the spirits of her grandmothers’ grandmothers scarcely remember how to get to their holiest stone circles.
She’s wailing so loudly in the name of plastic-choked rivers and over-mined lands the cosmic web of time is rippling; the ancients are shivering and looking over their shoulders for the spectral, shrieking banshee who knows the name of their matron deities, who beckons them to take heed and send their blessings forward to a future left in ruins by the wicked, the rootless, and the ruthless.
Her magick is stronger than ever, that woman. This looming season of bitter smoke will wake her wildest incarnation yet. By the drumming of her once-reckless heart, she’s burned her shame at the stake and sewn up her split and shredded parts. She spent summer dancing with her shadow.
She spent those sweltering, wayward nights tending to those fragile, thorny stems weaving in and out of her ribs and wrapping ’round and down her spine. She spent those thick and misty mornings clipping away those selfish, choking vines and blessing the pale petals with her blood.
No one will see her coming, that woman. The air will reek of burning juniper and rotting leaves, then she’ll haunt the room before materializing into a wide-winged, becloaked sorceress shadowed by her corvid companions.
She’ll bewitch us all into believing our most romantic nightmares are real, and she’ll tell us tales of grave-side lovers, charmed raven feathers, and slow-walking creatures who only wake under the Ancestors Moon.
Is it you, that woman? Are you the clever-mouthed and cunning-browed vixen who will welcome this Harvest Moon with a joyful howl and hopeful hiss? Are you the hooded crone who will conjure up a season of horned gods and hearth-fire, who will warm her home with simmering cloves and set a place at her table for her long-gone granny?
Is your autumn-ravenous belly growling for fireside ghost stories and steaming mugs brimming with childhood memory?
You’re a living reminder of the perpetual reaping, you are. You’re a walking altar to the witching hour, a soft-skinned spell for the autumn wilds. I’d forgotten how these quietly shifting winds smell like homecoming, how those silently browning leaf edges make a promise to my aching poet’s soul. I remember now. By the rhythm of your breath, I remember.
Before you go, lull me into a sweaty sleep with that incantation I love, and I’ll be sure to dream of you at your best, bare-breasted and wearing an antler crown, sure-footed and wandering through a spectral, bejeweled forest that forever mirrors the landscape of my Witch’s heart.
Keeper of the autumn moons
Teach me how to read these runes
Brew me steaming broth of bone
Tell me tales, you skull-faced crone.