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“They who dream by day
are cognizant of many things
which escape those who
dream only by night.”
- Edgar Allen Poe


THE CROW-WITCH


Right at the break of dawn the other morning, one of the crow-witches who lives deep in the privet beyond our garden decided to materialize into her human form… I was there to watch it all unfold and I have the remnants of proof from the tales to show you…

The day had scarcely started to awaken, but as usual I was already out in the garden weeding; already singing low in my baritone morning voice, when all of a sudden out of my peripheral vision I saw something… a wind of a diffused shadow; a chill hanging from the air.  I turned around and there she was—a witch all clad in black going up the hill.  

More curious than I should had been frightened, I stopped what I was doing and stood very quiet watching this strange apparition ascend the deserted hilly road across our little white cottage.

When the witch reached the top of the hill, she stood on the middle of the road like a stone of the fields.  No movement.  No sound.  At this point I immediately knew I was up for something big… something of the mystery variety if you know what I mean… so I grabbed my camera, which by the way, I always carry close to me in case something big, small, interesting or just unexpected in the most mundane moment come into my view, and began to stalk the Crow-witch who lives in the Privet.

After a short while, as she still stood on the middle of the road, the demeanor of the witch changed drastically.  I watched her search for something or someone in the nothingness of the new day; turning her body towards the four cardinal points—north, east, south and west.  What followed later I’m still trying to understand. 

Madness got control of her body and features, and she started to make strange expressions and hand gestures, motioning at things, clawing her hands at times towards the sky and finger-pointing at some invisible someone that only she could see. 

I tried to listen from my post to whatever the witch was saying as best as I could, always extra careful not to disturb her, lest she’d see me and ripped me open in a zilch… but for much as I tried, I couldn’t hear a single word coming out of her mouth… only silent words in gestures and madness incomprehensible.

Judging by the witch’s demeanor, gestures and finger pointing, however, I could tell she was livid… furious at someone.  She was a very disturbed soul indeed.  She fumbled and fought.  I watched in total silence.  Only my heart bursting in and out; not wanting to move… but oh I had to!  I had to take a better picture of the witch from a better angle before she would turn into her formal crow self again and with it the magic gone forever.   

I stepped away and run inside as fast and as quietly and I could.  Here and there I hid behind blinds and windows taking pictures.  I traced the witch’s movements as she stood on the road across our master room still fighting with her invisible someone.  But my lenses would not adjust properly and pictures were coming all blurry.  I had to run back into the backyard, where I could see her with no barriers and try again! 

It only took me the few minutes from our bedroom to the garden, but when I got there the witch was nowhere to be found now.  Where did she go?  In total disbelief, I searched for her.  No one. She was nowhere to be seen. I even walked up the hill to see if perhaps she had walked down the road below, but there was no one.  Only the strange chill still hanging from leaves and trees and skies that seem to be saying:  "Strange, unexplainable, mysterious things".

But then again, nothing could be too irrelevant or too strange on a day like this. Magic is everywhere. After all, this is Halloween.  And anything and everything can happen on Halloween.

A WITCH’S DWELLING

Have you even been inside a witch’s cottage? I didn’t think so! Would you like to visit one? Oh I think you might like to... Yes? OK then, come on!

All witch’s cottage are not the same. As every flower is different from each other so are each witch from each other; and so are the dwellings they choose to live in. I once met a witch who lived in a beautiful lot on the mountainside overlooking undisturbed forested mountains that housed many homes. Her home had spring water and solar energy. So close to people she lived; yet, nobody knew they had a witch for a neighbor!

But that’s not the norm, usually. More likely, you’ll find witches living deep in the forest. Most of the witches I’ve known lived there—in the forest; among the tall ancient trees that at night wake up and stretch, and blink their eyes and talk to each other and even move around.


To pass unnoticed, and to prevent being discovered, witches may construct magical house which may have the illusive form of a regular den or a burrow; like the dens raccoon and other small creature would use for temporary shelter. 

The technique of camouflage is used by the animals for survival purposes and to avoid being captured by the predators, but witches are the supreme masters of disguise, and by camouflaging their homes they demonstrate their unique, amazing and diverse ability to deceive; blending themselves as they do with the environmental surrounding, or hiding in order to maintain their survivals.


It’s been known that witches sometimes like to build houses with amazing similitude to the common bird’s nest you’d find in tree branches, or a hole in tree trunks, a rabbit hole in the ground, and even a spider’s web on bushes, and any other places you think an animal may be living… many other sites are imitated, or used as an illusion, including piles of leaf litter, the crooks of trees, old squirrel nests, or even piles of reeds, or a shelter of vegetation or mudflats piles… but don’t let appearances fool you. Watch the signs and activities around these shelters and you’ll see what I mean.
 

Inside that apparent burrow or rabbit hole hides a totally different world. Once you cross the entrance of a witch’s humble burrows or dens (if you can make it through) you’ll find yourself inside the most lovely of cottages, with windows bathed in sunshine and mysterious rooms filled to the brim with the normal witch’s cornucopia; such as spell potions and magic concoctions and bottles of liquid remedies and weaved baskets filled with aromatic plants and dried herbs, tonics and old caldrons and ancient human skulls and bones...
 

How would I know about these things?—you might be wondering. I know, because once, when lost in the forest, I happened upon one of those ground burrows I‘d mentioned.
 

The hobbit house I saw emerged from the earth as I was making my way through the thick underbrush and tall ancient trees that swayed together, exuberantly, with branches and tendrils that seemed to be reaching out to each other. 

It was getting dark and the only shelter I could thought of to spend the night was the hobbit house; which, by the way, it was really just a rabbit hole—minuscule and muddy. So I squeezed myself almost flat through the tiny entrance and got in. And what do you know!

I was render speechless with that I saw! No. Not the nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with worms and the oozy smell I was expecting... oh no! It was the most glorious little cottage I had ever seen, with walls and foundations made from stone, and all of the flooring, finishing, windows, plumbing; virtually everything inside, was re-purposed from scrap materials from the forest.


A wood burner heated the cottage, and an ingenious system that piped cool air in from underground kept the refrigerator at an optimum temperature. A skylight filled the small home with natural light, water was sourced from a nearby spring, and solar panels provided all of the necessary electricity. 

It was an amazing little hobbit house, or a witch’s house, and I liked it so much that I even asked the witch who owned it if at least I could come visit whenever I wanted. My wish was granted, and even now, after so many years since my discovery, I still come here from time to time just to relax and just be. It’s pure bliss!

I wish I could draw you a map to help you find your way here; but I’m not allow to… and we know better than disobeying a witch’s wish; right? I certainly won’t want to do that! Wishing you a magical week, whether shimmering with stardust or just your glowing selves!
 
(Image source: Arwensgrace and Internet)

Lechuzas

I have this affinity with birds… a special connection if you may.  I must have been a bird in a previous life; if not, I should fly with them one day.  

I love birds.  Love them all the same, but my favorite above all my favorites would have to be the mysterious and ever so controversial “Lechuza”, or “Mochuelo”.

The Gypsies call her "Ghost of the Nigh"—the owl, with its large eyes and mysterious ways. 


When I was a little girl growing up in a faraway land, I was terrified of them. Folks in our little rural community were very superstitious. They believed that the presence of an owl could only meant one thing: That a ghost was lurking nearby. Thus, Lechuzas were detested and much feared. Lechuzas were harbingers of death. Mothers and grandmothers would teach their children to hide from them, and fathers and grandfathers would lock every window and every door of their houses at the stroke of midnight to prevent bad luck from coming in whenever a Lechuza would cross the night sky.


My sister Lissette and I were never ever to look into a Lechuza’s large unmovable eyes and gargoyle-like face. And so, whenever they would fly low over the tin roof of our humble little house at night we would cover our ears and hide under our blankets trembling with fear. The eerie-sounding cries of the Lechuzas used to send shivers up our spines.

Isn’t it funny how we humans would outgrow our fears as we, through the years, learn, understand and get gradually exposed to the sources of our anxieties? Ah yes, I love owls, and I have them everywhere in my garden; only they’re not real ;) 

I keep dreaming and hoping that one day I will see a beautiful owl perch high in our Spruce Pine... silly me an owl in my urban garden! Oh well, one can always dream, right? 

A magical garden


My garden is a very special place… small magical beings live here. My garden is my joy and refuge, and it is also my favorite place to relax, play and pick roses...You would find me here on any given summer's day dreaming silly dreams on soft cool grasses under the trees...

Birds would fly down the trees to keep me company as I doze off into dreamland enchanted by their songs. Ah yes, the difference between common everyday living and wonderful magical living is the difference between being here, in the garden, and being somewhere else.
 
Anything can happen here; I mean anything magical. And it will! You would hear the angry voice of god in thunder, spirits would materialize in bubbling waters, owls would be the embodiment of wisdom, snow would be home to trolls and winter fairies, and if you would pay close attention to your surroundings you would hear voices speaking to you from stones, plants and animals. And all because of the contact with nature and the profound emotional energy that this symbolic connection supplies. But of course, you don't have to believe me if you don't want to...

This is also the place where magical things would appear out of nowhere, and the impossible would become possible... who would've thought that the Ivy could grow old silver pots amidst its dark mysterious leaves?

Or who would have guessed that bushes hide magical doors that would transport you to enchanting worlds outside your world?
 
Ah yes, the only inconvenience of having such a delightful magical door in your garden is not having the key to unlock it. Yes, I’ve lost the magical key to the magical door! And I am now desperately looking for it.

I have searched every imaginable place you can think of... my friends the rabbits have faithfully followed me everywhere trying to help me find it, but optimism is fading away fast.

You see, without this key I cannot go back to Hollow Woods ever again, and I won't be able to be transported to Arabella's world of mysteries and illicit love again... and as you can remember, I have a story to finish. So I must go back and learn as much as I can so that later I can come back and relate everything I'd seen...
 
Have you, by any change, seen this key anywhere in your garden? Hopefully, you’d know of some nice gnome or fairy in your garden that would be willing to come help find the key to my magical door? Oh I do hope so!
 

A troll by the name of Barbegazi lives here too. As some of you may know, snow trolls don’t never ever come out of their winter burrows deep down under the ground during warm weather. But because anything can happen here (and it would!), you may be lucky and find him strolling the gardens, proudly exhibiting his lovely Sedum Spurium hair, which by the way it has grown beautifully this spring!
 
Oh my dears, magic is real... so very real.  Who can doubt it, when there are rainbows and wildflowers, the music of the wind and the silence of the stars? Anyone who has loved has been touched by magic. It is such a simple and such an extraordinary part of the lives we live.
 

Moon Child



The moon has always held a special fascination for me. When I was a little girl growing up in a far, faraway land, I would go stand by the window and wait for the moon to come look for me...

As soon as she appeared I was summoned out to the garden...

I was sure if I looked at the moon for a long time I could see things no one else could. The moon must have mystified me, because on those nights when only a narrow crescent of the moon was seen, I could see the rest of it faintly outlined, and could also see how that part of the moon, half hidden from our sight, illuminated the entire earth... it was a magical time, a time to dream and to stretch out my arms and touch the very moon. Wind, rain or snow I was always there; waiting for the moon to invite me walk the night in her silver shone...

I want to tell you the night knows this, that the moon dressed in her pearly dress can swift you away in the endless sky, that it can carry you from star to star and swing you to sleep in a cradle made of silvery light... but would you believe me? 

What do you see when you look at the moon? Do you think the shadows look like a face? The Japanese see a rabbit in the dark patches on the moon. I see butterflies patterns as it draws nearer, and I see serenity, tranquility, mystery, and intrigue.  I see a promise--a fresh new start.

I love the tender brilliance of the moon casting shadows across the garden from so far away...

I remember vividly how I used to be in awe of the moon following us home after church. How could it do that? I used to love that it would do a slow dance across the sky every night, always surprising me where it would end up...

As I grew older, I realized that it always danced the same dance. A dance from one side to the other, consistent in its course... like a good mariner steering through the seas from one shore to another, from sunset to sunrise...

Sitting here tonight in the stillness of my cozy cottage watching the moon sending its light through the window, patterning the garden with shadows, adding character to the night, a wondrous tale is revealed to me...

Tonight, I'll wish upon the moon, not a star, but the moon. Your wishes would have more hope of coming true, for the moon is brighter, and bigger...
 
Child Moon by Carl Sandburg: The child's wonder at the old moon Comes back nightly. She points her finger to the far silent yellow thing shining through the branches filtering on the leaves a golden sand, crying with her little tongue, "See the moon!" And in her bed fading to sleep with babblings of the moon on her little mouth.

The cottage in my dreams...


I live here
This is my home...


But you’re there—across the world from me!
We must meet for tea sometime.
Perhaps tonight
At the stroke of midnight?
Oh but we must hurry, there’s no time to waste!
The dark is rising,
You must pay heed to the riddle
The instructions are given:
Upon your steps to my enchanted forest...
Luminous white and shimmering wings
Swirling whirling under the moon.
Upon petals so late at night to guide your way by magical lights.
Tip toe in forest deep, guiding you while half asleep.
Flitting up and down your dreams,
Reaching out to take your hand…
Any idea who I’m sending to escort you all the way to Hollow Woods? You guessed it right! Alba, the white owl of course! Hope you’d come! Oh, and would you let me know if you were able to see Alba in your dreams, or maybe somewhere in your garden? I’d love to know!
    Alba

     

Ancestors

“I let my head fall back, and I gazed into the Eternal Blue Sky. It was morning. Some of the sky was yellow, some the softest blue. One small cloud scuttled along. Strange how everything below can be such death and chaos and pain while above the sky is peace, sweet blue gentleness...


 I heard a shaman say once, the Ancestors want our souls to be like the blue sky.”
― Shannon Hale, Book of a Thousand Days






 


Otilia Micaela de Luna


I can see her in my mind—like a dream.  The familiar genetic traits: The long dark hair and expressive brown eyes; the impassiveness of her countenance. Her name is Otilia Micaela de Luna, and she is my great-great-great Grandmother.
 
Otilia Micaela de Luna was a midwife and an expert herbalist who traveled from home to home and village to village ministering the poor and the sick of her time. For centuries woman in her lineage had been the unlicensed doctors of remote towns and villages. They were the anatomists and abortionists and nurses of their time. They were pharmacists, cultivating healing herbs and exchanging the secrets of their uses; learning from each other, and passing on experience from mothers to daughters.
 
Medicine was part of their heritage, but they lived with a vocation that for centuries had been far misunderstood. Thus, although these women were doctors without degrees, they were barred from public places and were deemed as witches and charlatans.
 
When Otilia Micaela de Luna was not engaged in helping people, one would always find her in her garden; as she was also notorious for her deep love of the natural world. Her fascination with roses opened up new and fantastic worlds that only the truly attuned with Nature were able to appreciate and enjoy.
 
At the gate of her small cottage was an arch dripping in pinks and reds from a lovely Old Damascena. There was a fountain on the right, almost lost in lush grasses and to the left, at the far end of Otilia’s little cottage, lay there a beautiful garden where several miniatures roses grew in borders under and in front of the taller bushes.
 
Dramatic borders of Sarabande roses grew in masses, and the fragrant Dortmund, against the whitewashed and sun faded picket fence, sprat out tall and beautiful as heaps of Paradise and Color Magic roses seem to sing sacred hymns to the morning air.

When the Beauty Secret put out their waves of bloom in springs, the entire garden would bow before their beauty. Joyful sounds and magical waves of glorious scents would waft from the garden in tints and shades the color of rainbows. Otilia knew that this was the fanfare with which Nature declare itself and try to communicate with humans. And thus Otilia heard the hum, and the chants, and saw all the magic spread upon the earth for humans to take pleasure in and benefit from, and took it all in, and nourish her soul with it. She was well aware of the way Nature communicates with man.
 
And thus, to the roses as she pruned them, to the tall delphiniums as she stalked them, to the colorful snapdragons and hollyhocks as she fertilized them—to every flower, big and small, she would give thanks and worship them, and tell them magical tales...

Blue birds would come by to say hello and cotton white fluffy clouds would puff happy smiled down at her as she worked and enjoyed her little cottage garden. It was said that one day, all of a sudden everything turned dark... the sun went away and out came the rain. And there was heavy rain tearing bits of cloud, and a wisp of mad air that whistled through the trees brought swirls and swirls of leaves and some sorts of blue rain that fell down all afternoon from the dark clouds. And then there was the terrifying sound of thunder and flashes of lightening.

Swish, swoosh cried the wind. Throughout the clouds it howled, and it fluttered, swished and rustled and swooshed like a mad monster... it was a bad storm. Water flooded the streets and the wind blew roofs and houses, and everybody got soaked to the bones by all the heavy rains. Except, of course, for Otilia Micaela de Luna. Everything in Otilia's house and garden was in perfect order despite the havoc of the weather. Not a single thing got wrecked, or blown away by the wind, nothing was wet or rained on; no water, no rain, no puddles.
 
"It's witchcraft"—people would said. You see, people were mystified by this strange occurrence, and could not explain this mystery otherwise. So rumors spread about Otilia owning a magical umbrella. She was a witch. She had a magic cauldron that boiled the water without any need to put them on the fire. And she used a crystal ball to see what people were doing and kept a witch’s broomstick hidden in her garden. But the witch's new gadget was her magical umbrella. An umbrella as big as the witch's house and as big as her back yard and gardens was. But best of all, an umbrella that had the power to protected the witch even from the vilest storm.

Nobody could see Otilia's umbrella—it was invisible, but oh they all knew she owned such a thing... what other explanation there was for such nonsense? None. None whatsoever.
 
An thus, poor Otilia was crushed by the same fate that for centuries had barren her ancestors from society—woman that were called witches, and were forced to leave their towns and villages and live in anonymity for the rest of their lives.

DEAR FRIENDS OF HOLLOW WOODS: Hollow Woods is not just a blog. It is also a book by the same name. The story you just read is one of the many fascinating stories which composes the pages of Hollow Woods. If you enjoyed reading my blog, now you can read the rest of the book by clicking HERE and HERE
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The little white cottage in the woods

There’s a clearing in the midst of a certain forest where trees stay still about a little white cottage that seems to protrude out of the earth itself—a natural grotto of a dwelling hidden away from the distracted eye by Nature itself and the amount of leafy arms and hands and fingers of trees and branches and lichens in which it is sheltered. 

Birds of the forest find their home among the epiphytes and vines that form a living shag carpet over the roofs of this little cottage—enclosed as it is in a fairyland of moss and strange plants that hang from its roofs and walls like fringed curtains.


There the swallows and sparrows have their nest, and little feathered creatures arrange their collection of treasures which, it may include, a bright blue feathers, snail shells, beetle wings and flowers and anything else which might take the bird's fancy and which may include some precious treasures such as a silver spoon, a diamond hair pin, a sparkly cameo brooch bathed in topaz and rhinestone, seashell buttons and other colorful scraps of material, all property of its owner.

And thus, if you happed to walk pass by this little white cottage in the wood, must probably you would thought it to be yet another cluster of trees, and just another place in the forest where the wild mushroom sprouts from fallen logs and the vegetation grows in excess. Only the whiteness and light which seems to grow from the very insides of this little cottage would give its secret away…

It is a house indeed. And if you dare go inside you’d immediately sense the pudgy scents of herbs and natural remedies lingering in the shadows. All it takes is a gentle breeze to let you know that the anise hyssop has been collected that morning. Perhaps too recently. The fresh licorice scent is unmistakable. You know that both the flowers and the leaves are perfumed and edible and thus, you can guess that someone had fought her way through the bees that are drawn to the licorice in number earlier that morning for the pure pleasure of a sweet cup of Anise hyssop tea. The fragrance of the tea is still delightfully intoxicating.


As far as you can tell, no one is present in the little white cottage right at the moment. Yet, you know you’re not alone. You cannot be too oblivious or too insensible to the empowering presence surrounding you. For indeed, a presence bigger than all your fears and bigger than all the shadows that may fall across your path moves freely about the cottage and hovers over everything; somehow, comforting you, reassuring you. And you feel impelled to keep studying your surroundings.

You see the bundles of herbs hanging from the beams to dry—basil, borage, catnip, mint, nepeta and lemon balm, and over there a rustic table filled with baked goods; jams and sweet buns and cakes, and there are some lovely decorated bowls in sapphire blue holding thin crepes and an assortment of dense, sweet tea breads.


On one side of the table, a mortar and pestle with freshly ground herbs laid side by side some ancient looking books, as if perhaps just before you came, someone had been engaged in preparing her concoctions?

Fragrant oils, dyes and waxes for the preparation of candles, flowers and herbs are strewn across the table, seeming to be processed slowly for the coming winter.


There’s something magical and warm and comfortable and dreamy about the place. And you have the strong sensation of having been here before. You love every detail—the scent of herbs lingering in the air, the shadows warming the humble adobe, the nostalgic charm, the vases of roses withering in their water. And you realize now that whoever lives in such peculiar place must also possess some of that same remarkable peculiarity of her home in herself and soul. And she must be out somewhere in her forest collecting her herbs.


Should you leave the cottage now and run as far as you can from it and never come back, or linger a little longer and fully capture the magic, it's all up to you…