Old Teen Essays
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Article ID: 4520
Age Group: Adult
Posted: July 23rd. 2001
Secrets Revealed and Secrets Kept
Greetings Witches, Wiccans and Pagans,
It was one of those blazing summer days that come even to New England. The year was about 1968 or so when one such summer day drove Wren and her dad into the woods for a little relief from the glare. The stubborn heat sniffed after them for quite a way into the wood before it finally turned back in defeat. Deeper and deeper into the forest walked the silent companions. It was something that they often did. They felt welcome and at home under the leafy canopy and this day was certainly a fine time to take such a stroll. As the sunlamp brightness gave way at last to intermittent strobes of yellow, Wren and her dad slowed their pace and began to check out the changes that had manifested in this part of the wood since their last visit the previous fall. Where the ground then had been crunchy with brittle dried leaves and squirrel-shucked acorn husks, it now was soft and silent and spongy with various types of mosses. Velvet emerald greens were everywhere and they blended beautifully with the lighter sage of the lichens and the deeper evergreens of the pines. Leafy ferns brushed against their legs as if to say, "Look at us! We are beautiful, too.' And indeed, they were. Tree frogs were droning in the branches but just about everything and everyone else was snoozing the afternoon away in their favorite shady and secluded spots. Wren and Dad had the entire patch of forest pretty much to themselves.
Wren's Dad was more than just Wren's Dad; he was also her mentor. A Pantheist by nature, a homespun philosopher by observation and a very practical man by necessity, every trip into the woods with this man was also a lesson on 'the way things are and the way things could be'. Hands-on training was the watchword of every day and this day was no exception. Dad was a machinist in order to pay the bills and a woodcrafter in order to feed the soul. He collected antiques from barns and yard sales and- yes, even from the trashcans on Tuesdays- in order to restore them and to make some additional income. But he always kept much more than he ever sold because these things spoke to him in a personal way. He developed a relationship with the things that his hands smoothed and cleaned and mended. Today, Wren would guess that most people would say that Dad had the gift of psychometry (the ability to receive psychic impressions from objects). Back then, he would have shrugged and said that he simply had a 'feel' for things and left it at that. A 'feel for things' was something that his own father was also known to possess and so he was comfortable with it just as it was. Another talent that Dad and Dad's Dad were known for was their ability to see things 'just as they are and as they might be'. In other words, just because something was everyday ordinary in its present form didn't mean that it was ordinary in what it might become. Everything had the potential to become something else. And that is what this trip into the woods- as many of them were- came to be. Dad took these opportunities to find that twisted piece of tree branch that just might be a stair banister in hiding, the flat piece of slate which could find another life as a table top or the shards of old broken mineral spring bottles from abandoned cellar holes whose bubbled hand blown beauty seemed pre-destined to join with even older cousins in order to complete the repair of a stained glass window.
It was by one of these old cellar holes where Wren and her Dad decided to take a bit of a breather. The foundations of colonial era homesteads are found throughout the woods of New England. The buildings long gone, the farmlands long reclaimed by the trees, often the only traces that some family once lived there were the tumbled-in foundation and the stone walls surrounding the plot. While Wren was checking out the cellar hole for old bottles, Wren's Dad was busying checking between the wall stones- (A Wyld Witch Word to the Wise: Always check between the stones before you sit down on a stone wall. Picking bee stingers out of your butt is not the best way to enjoy a summer afternoon!)- for a good 'sit for a spell' spot. That's when Wren heard Dad say, "Well, that's odd". As he pulled his hand from the between-the-rocks natural nook, Wren could see something nestled in his huge palm. At first she thought that it was a heart-shaped stone. And she almost reached for it until her Dad, hefting it up and down in his hand, pronounced, "It's lead". Wren snatched her hand back. Lead was something that she did not care to handle.
Lead is a metal ruled by Saturn and keeping to Saturn's darker and heavier nature, it is a hard 'element' to handle. It is magically known for its sinister properties and, of course, it is poisonous. Wren had some considerable experience with lead. When she was four-years-old, a relative was soldering the tip of a fishing pole with molten lead when the piece sparked off, flew across the room and went down the front of her shirt. Even before she had begun to scream, the lead had burned through all of the layers of her skin and part of the way into her breastbone. It took many months and many, many agonizing trips to the doctor to have the wound opened and reopened- so that it would heal from the inside out- before the scar that she bears to this day would form. The fact that Wren is a Capricorn- and so might just have a sort of natural 'protection' from Saturnine influences- probably saved her from lead poisoning. At least the doctor seemed surprised and relieved that she never developed any signs of it. Wren has since only used lead 'magickally' in two cases of particularly nasty hauntings and then only with great reluctance and at the even greater urgings of the families affected by the events. So the realization that this particular lead heart was definitely not a love charm to Wren was a no-brainer. But that it was indeed a charm there was no doubt. Sometime while the lead was still soft, someone had carved a set of initials into it.
Sitting on the stone wall, Wren and Wren's Dad pondered the mystery. Who was the person who had not only fashioned this lead heart, but who had so obviously tucked the charm into the stone wall for a specific purpose? Who was the person whose initials were carved into the lead? And what had happened to both of them? Here in hands which continued to turn over the find lay a unknown tale involving at least two people- perhaps one or both who had once lived in this very spot. What emotion or motive lies behind this act of malice? What was the story-and the end of story-that unfolded here more than a century or more before this particular sunny New England day? "Don't worry," Wren's Dad said, "it's dead." And so too were the individuals who had been a part of a personal and private intrigue and only they could tell us what had happened here. Just the mystery that wrapped up the ending to the story and the small misshapen lead heart hidden in the stone wall remained to reveal that a story had taken place at all. Wren's Dad placed the lead heart back in into its stony and secret nook- and neither he nor Wren ever told anyone where this place or this leaden mystery could be found. It may not even exist today given all of the land development that has taken place over the decades since then. Sometimes a secret is better kept as a secret.
In these modern days, the secrets of what once was 'hidden or occult knowledge' fill up books and web sites and workshop sign-up sheets. There are many that are involved in the arguments on whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. Not only in the Pagan communities, but also beginning to erupt in the Native People tribes and clans, is found a battle that wages over what information and knowledge should be revealed and what should be kept secret from all those save the few that may rise to a certain level. Wren is of the opinion that secrets kept for the purpose of withholding real knowledge from seekers as a way to control others or to hinder the stream of human development is not only a bad idea, it is impossible today. And those who keep secrets in order to be perceived (at least in their own mind) as knowing more than the next guy or as a means of seeming to have more power than he/she may actually possess are not kidding anyone. (Make no mistake; the Old Ones know who is who and what is what- and just what or who something or someone may become.) The secrets of 'technique' or spellcasting or ritual formulation are too long out of the bag to be able to be stuffed back in now. Like the tree branches and the flat piece of slate and the broken shards of mineral bottle glass, these 'secrets' are now scattered about just waiting to be discovered and put to use by anyone who is looking to do so. The Gods, the Old Ones, the Ancients, the Ancestors and even Nature Herself has opened up the 'magickal woods' to all who might seek relief from the religions and practices that burn the soul and scorch the spirit. And this IS Their knowledge- and these ARE Their secrets- to do with as They see fit, after all.
Those truly called by the Old Ones may sometimes come away scarred (and forever after cautious) from an encounter, but they will not be poisoned by it nor will they use it to taint others. These are the ones who can reach into the nooks of secret knowledge and to whom the secrets are entrusted. But for those who may still despair that all of the Old Ways and all of the Old Secrets may be revealed too soon or to those who may not be able to 'handle the power' or turn it to less than positive ends, just as in the forest, stone walls still very much exist in the magickal realms. Not many seekers will ever encounter one, few will even know how one is built or what it may stand for and fewer still will ever think to look inside a crevice to see what may lie hidden within the nook. But some will- enough will- to insure that the Old Ways are never lost or forgotten.
Wren would though- and very respectfully- advise even these Wise Ones to always remember to temper that knowledge with more than a moderate dose of good old-fashioned common sense. Even the most magickal, powerful and mystical of Sages looks a bit ridiculous while pulling bee stingers out of their ever-so magickal, powerful and mystical backsides!
Walk in Love and Light,
The Witches' Voice Inc.
Secrets Revealed: This week's anchor photo is a view from "porch chat central" (our balcony here at TWV - 3 stories up), captured just this evening... We may live in an apartement complex, right on a major highway, BUT we have a glorious view of the fabulous storms that have given Tampa Bay, Florida the honor of being the "Lightening Capitol of North America". Oddly, Wren and I are the only ones in the complex that actually DO hang out on our porch. Do "they" know something we don't?
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