"Belladonna and Blades"

A grave grew in the lonely part of a valley, where two hills met. Planted with chips of rose quartz, a thin lead tablet left behind the last bit of my heart, to release a love into all things wild and dusty. It was in this piece I let go a friendship. I suffocated it in the red dirt of those Northern California hills, in that secret place surrounded by running waters, dense skeletal oaks, and smokey skies from early winter fires. The charred trees from last summer were decomposing, the magic of secondary succession transforming death into new life. Mysteries surrounded and protected the stone, letting it harmonize the energies already there as the love was broken, buried and forgotten. I thought about her, my best friend who was becoming more distant to me as I grew in my spiritual life. She tried to follow me, into the darkness of witchcraft and magick. Mara came circling for camaraderie and High Days for frolic. She approached the coven as an exclusive social club which exuded power and prestige; neither of which she had. Mara grew up in a small reservation town, her poor white trash family and over-bite didn't help in matters of popularity with boys or girls. Bullied and bruised, she found promiscuity to be a way of getting attention, dressing in a provocative manner showed off Mara's perfect pear shape. Her hair changed from boring dishwater to long and blonde, nails manicured pink, and clothes too young. Mara wore spiked heels and miniskirts to our journalism classes; even the snowing drifts of cold modesty couldn't touch her.

The night was eerily cold as I slept near the rushing creek. Bubbling sounds of melted snow as it slid through moss covered rocks and fallen branches in the creek lulled me into a deep sleep. It was not until just before dawn, in the coldest, darkest part of the night that I awoke. There was a rustling in the blackberry bushes just outside my tent, the dew clinging to late summer fruits made them appear as purple jewels. I listened for my Lord of the Forest, his hooves wandering around the campground. The early morning light made everything hazy, especially since I had kept my glasses off; I have learned to use my natural sight for spiritual encounters, to trust these visions. Following the sounds and shadows, I came down to the waters edge where a small pebble beach lay open under a canopy of pine; the summer dried needles crackled under my bare feet releasing the musky scent of forest.

We had swam here, Mara and I. One day after clearing brush and berries, the sweet water was refreshing in the hot afternoon. In nothing but sarongs, the waters of the river spirit encircled us creating aquamarine waves, as a cleansing ribbon. Our skin was red and goose-bumped from the freezing mountain waters. Walking with bare feet, it felt as jagged glass when I slipped from algae or some other slimy thing amongst the stones. The slight numbness from the cold reminded me how much worse it would feel once I defrosted. I found a large, flat boulder to lie on. The ancient stone was hotter than anticipated, drying my beach towel rather quickly. Lying in the sun, with head back and pointed toward the Universe, I fell asleep only to awaken with her warm body lying next to me.

I walked out onto the beach, to sit upon a moss covered boulder emitting a mist in it's breath; as a dragon curled sleeping, eyes of brilliant emeralds it welcomed me into the coils of dream. I sat there in the early dawn, looking at my red-stained hands as I washed in the pure river; would the blood ever come off? The sacrifice had been accepted, shed as a snakeskin with the strength to pull dead flesh from a rotting corpse. Because she was already dead...attached to material things and status, what happiness she could fuck or buy, ignoring what oaths bound us all at the dark crossroads in pursuit of her own addictions. The defixio would right what was wronged, sent to her grave, breaking all connections and ties... belladonna didn't act fast enough, but the athame did.

The kisses caught me off guard, as I hadn't expected such a surprise. I was caught in the Beltane current. The green energies of trees, radical sunshine, and her tongue all enraptured me in a place of magic. Mara used the only magick she knew: persuasive passion with heartstrings, confused in a tangled mess from past lives. Finishing the loose ends, it was completed in this one act of love and we allowed it to flow over us. Never did I intuit a possible betrayal, the peace of our shared Grove and Coven about to come to a grinding halt. Mara was too close to me, soul sister and lover from ages past I entrusted all and everything to. Never before had I used my skills and knowledge from a place of darkness, all for the Goddess in healing love or nothing more. This is how wicked witches are born.

I took a deep breath as the clean morning air began to warm with dim sunlight. A slight frost made the bare trees glisten, a preface of winter soon to come. In this air, I smelled the musky dampness of wet fur. I closed my eyes, welcoming the wild message in whatever form it took. Staying grounded, calm and welcoming, my inner sight showed me the Be-ing whom approached. The antlers of a stag, the face of a man, His arms held back the swarm of spirits which roamed these hills. Taking them under His command, they flew out towards me and then around... I sat in a fortified bubble of my Will, impenetrable and iridescent as soap.

It was easy getting Mara to the old covenstead, getting the potion into her veins proved to be more difficult. Promises of a powerful spell about to be launched were not entirely untrue, piquing Mara's interest with esoteric and tantric terms of transformation only sparked further her curiosity. The fire was made small with little smoke, burning clean and fiercer than my vengence. Waiting for a sign, I watched her sitting across the embers, messing with her cellphone Mara still believed a connection was possible in this liminal space. “You won't get a signal” I told her, point blank. She began asking me where the 'others' were, the Unnamed One and members of our Grove. I watched Mara's pupils dilate as deer in unnatural light, changed as I became predator. The scent of fear was heady on that cold, autumn night. I handed the cup to her shaking hands, “This begins the process of journey”. And with that, Mara took it to her lips and just as quickly spat out the contents.

Before the Gods, Mighty Dead and Genus Loci I stood in that place, ready to answer for the life I had taken. With arms raised, I pushed and pushed my aura out...sending out every bit of soul I could muster to present to these thirsty and hungry and parched and miserable Ones. A gift of vengeance, Love under Will gone sour as the chthonic Earth swallowed Mara whole. I watched from afar, as the Dark One directed them to that shallow grave in the forest. And I watched Mara's long blonde hair now matted with blood, twist and shape into roots...deep into rocky loam. The natural beauty she long ignored was part of the necroscape and I was pleased.