Of Skulls, Wild Blessings, Pain and Ink

I got out of bed counting skulls. I always find healing in the act of counting blessings. If you know me a bit, you aren’t wondering about my use of the words skulls and blessings in the same paragraph—I love skulls, and recalling the tales of how they got to me is quite soothing.

Take the skull in the photo below, as an example. It’s a gift from my friend Lynne, mistress of the Insomniac’s Attic. She gave it to me during her last visit to New York City… in which we delighted in old books, got lost looking for an antique shop that insisted on hiding behind a delivery truck, and witnessed a rather irresponsible New Age seller tell a customer that onyx stones would give her telepathic powers.
Weeks later, the outrage I felt towards the seller’s statement (and the amusement my reaction brought to Lynne’s face) makes me laugh like a maniac. Laughter heals. The same is true of rituals and symbols. That’s the idea behind the grouping in the image: a frog from Stacy, a skull from Lynne, rosemary from Gina, and a mini-book from Emma, every piece sitting on a stone and a shell that holds its own tale. Even the black ribbon has a story, and telling myself all those tales (and laughing) pushes the aches away. Yes, it’s magic.

After saying goodbye to the frog, skull, rosemary and book, I started breakfast and made my bed. The quilt filled me with warm grins. It’s a handfasting present from my Mother-in-Law. As my not-so-perfect picture shows, the squares make an M or a W (for Magaly & William). And yes, the stitching forms lovely hearts. How cool is that, my Wicked Luvs? How could pain and exhaustion ever compete against the love put into such thought-filled gift?

Some gifts are unexpected treasures. The memories of when I first saw them always rush through me like a wave of ecstatically surprised endorphins. Yep, I’m referring to the bee kissing crabapple blossoms in the photo below. I was gifted this glimpse into Nature’s crafty magic, right after having spent a couple of hours searching for mushrooms. The search was a total fiasco… So, I was justifiably disappointed. Then I saw the bee… and the blooms… and I was delighted. Oh yes, I’m grinning like a lunatic, just thinking about it.

I’m writing this post while my heat pad does its magic on the pain that kicks my back. And “Yes! Yes!! Yes!!!” I’m smiling, as I think of gifts… of friends… of spring… of skulls… of wild magic… of every experience life has inked into my blood… and of how lucky I am to have the strength to craft them into poems and stories to share with you.

Do you count personal blessings? If so, do tell me of a wee blessing that brings all sorts of gigantic smiles to your face. Yummy grows yummier when spread. Really. 😉

A Rattle and a Wee Book on Her Grave

“Her own people stoned me half to death for trying to help her.”

“It’s not wise to mettle in villagers’ affairs, Pali. They must’ve had their reasons. It was none of your concern. You should’ve stayed out of—”

“Don’t shame my ears with your ignorance,” I said, stopping a few steps from the graveyard’s gate and squeezing my cousin’s arm. “She took a risk letting a Romani youth into her schoolhouse, teaching him how to read in secret. We pay our debts, Manfred.”

He lowered his eyes. “Forgive me. Without the learning you got from her, I wouldn’t be here.”

“Don’t be daft.” I let go of Manfred’s arm. “I wasn’t asking you for payment. Like I would let Lord Căcat Cu Ochi whip you for dancing on Sunday. Besides, his lady wife thought it was great fun before—”

“Shhh!” Manfred stopped, crouched and pulled me down with him.

“What?”

“Listen,” he said, cocking his head towards the graveyard. “Someone’s in there.”

I heard it, too; a low wail mixed with shaky sobs. My hand reached for the red pouch that hung from a cord around my neck. “A lot of villagers have gone angry into their graves. There could be hordes of spirits gone mad with fury haunting this place.”

“No,” Manfred said.

“I saw them do it,” I said. “The women beat her and ripped her clothes. Then the men dragged her to the center of the village and stoned her until she stopped moving.” I shook my head. “Kids spat on her.”

“No, Pali, look. There’s a man.” He pointed towards the side of the graveyard where the village buried those they thought wicked. “He’s hugging a post. Can’t you see him?”

Still crouching, we moved closer to the sound. “It’s… the reverend,” I said. I went to him when they dragged the teacher out of the schoolhouse. He wanted to help. But there were too many of them. A good man, the reverend… His servants always brought food to the schoolhouse, and he made the teacher smile every time he brought her one of his illuminated little books.

.
Manfred and I hid in the bushes until after the reverend’s sobs of “Forgive” and “Man is weak” quieted, and he walked out of the graveyard. I was relieved to know the teacher’s grave was not ever lonely. A year had gone by since the reverend, his servants and I stood on the fresh soil that now covered her bones. Thirteen moons was too long to spend unwanted under a pile of dirt.

The school teacher rested under a naked tomb. “Bring her comfort and peace,” I whispered into a bunch of red wild flowers, and bent over her grave. As I put down my offering, I noticed two very small trinkets that had been laid on the dirt by a puddle of hardened candlewax.

I must’ve watched the two little shapes for a lot longer than I thought, because Manfred came to crouch next to me, and asked, “What’s that?”

“Strange,” I said. “It’s a baby rattle and a wee book.”

.

pre-Witches in Fiction 2015, third giveaway:
Mini Book, by Gothic Miniatures

Mini Book, by Gothic Miniatures (1)
The third giveaway for our pre-Witches in Fiction 2015… Death Rites and Remembrances is sponsored by Gothic Miniatures. The cover of this wee piece of massive beauty is handmade from faux leather with raised spine.
Mini Book, by Gothic Miniatures (2)

There are over 30 pages in the book, made of linen paper painted gold along the edges for a faux gold leaf finish. The gold thread, at the top and bottom of the spine where the paper connects to the book, gives the mini book an extra touch of bling.
Mini Book, by Gothic Miniatures (3)

The image of the form weeping over a post, which inspired the tale attached to the giveaway, is of a U.S. Graveyard with statues. The book measures approximately 1 1/8” tall x 1 5/8” wide.

Here is how to enter this giveaway: Leave a comment telling me what classic book you would love to own in miniature, and where would you keep it. For one extra entry, visit Gothic Miniatures and come back to tell me a bit about piece you liked. Wishing for a second extra entry? Share this post on Facebook (tag me and Gothic Miniatures). You can get a third extra entry, if you add these words at the end of your comment: “Magaly, do throw my name into your witchy cauldron!”

Giveaway Rules, details and stuff…
* I need to be able to contact the winners. If you don’t have a website or social media profile, through which we can interact, then please add your email to your comment. If your name comes up, and I have no way to contact you, I will choose another name.

* You can group all your entries in a single comment—or not… the choice is yours.

* To my Canadians, before you can claim your prize, I must test your mathematical brilliance by asking you a very obscure question, such as… what’s 13 + .5? Yeah, obscure…

* All Witches in Fiction 2015 giveaways will end on October 20th, 2015, at 10:13 pm, EDT. The winners will be chosen using Random.Org, and announced on October 21st, 2015.

* This giveaway is open to the US only, excluding any place where prohibited by law.

This is a pre-party post. Witches in Fiction 2015… Death Rites and Remembrances won’t take place until October 17th; to join the celebration, click the link.

Other Witches in Fiction 2015 pre-posts:
– “Loving You through the Veil
Culture with Real Fictionalized Witches in It
Shaking It and Twisting It until It Says Yes
Not All Witchy Souls Are Religious