Dear Friends,

Witch. From "wicca" – to bend or shape. Or from the root "wit" – to know.
In Irish, witch is "bandraoi" – female druid, or "bean feasa" – a wise-woman, a knowing woman. They were local herbalists, healers, counselors, spiritual advisors. Their knowledge was earth-based. The wisdom they carried was ancient.

Between 1450 and 1750, European witch trials resulted in an estimated 40,000- 50,000 executions. In America, in one year between 1692 and 1693, more than two hundred people in the town of Salem were accused by their neighbors in witch trials; here's the story of "Susanna Martin", sung by the great North Carolina band, Touchstone.

I like this new definition of the word "witch": "someone who pays attention".  Are you paying attention? What's going on with our planet? With our country? In your own neighborhood? If you're paying attention, congratulations! You have it in you to work magic.

The photograph in this issue was made near my childhood home. The verse is a monologue (edited for this space) from my stage play "DEIRDRE RETROGRADE".  The character of Levorcham speaks as a wise-woman, or original "bandraoi".

"The test of a civilization is its estimate of women" said American abolitionist, author and political reformer George William Curtis. 

I would now add: restoring our planet depends on our ability to trust women.

How are we doing?

Samhain Blessings on us all,

Samhain -- October 31, 2021

Once, I was called Priestess! Shaman! Emissary of the Goddess!
now I'm called witch -- any knowing woman
healer, teacher, goddess, queen
you name witch — with all the fear you've packed the word to mean.
But you can all call me witch – I take back my name
as all women of power should...

It's magic when you find the right word.
A poem is a spell —
every poet a spell-caster.
Slant rhyme! Vowel chime!
Distilled language;
as sap is the essence of the tree, poetry
is the stuff of spells —
magic cast through lexicon,
thought becomes word, word becomes deed, action
grows from its name.

To speak a name is to invoke
power over what you name;
be mindful of your words --
the energy you voice.

Learn it: The Tree Alphabet,
name the seven noble guardians of the wood,
Birch, Willow, Holly, Hazel...
Apple, Alder, Oak...
Sound out those names... their cadence
opens sacred groves to you.

Call upon the four directions,
invoke their elements for help,
their tools and correspondences --

East. Air. Sword. Birch.
South. Fire. Wand. Holly.
West. Water. Cup. Willow.
North. Earth. Pentacle. Oak.

You're learning: the most powerful
spells are often improvised —
the materials at hand just right
to manifest one's inner might.