What do you get when you combine a romantic weekend getaway at an out-of-state B&B (a getaway that you planned for your partner’s 32nd birthday); supreme hospitality and welcome from the genii loci as well as the human residents of a place you’re visiting for the first time; the energies of the Titan goddess Hekate; the energies of the Inuit goddess Sedna; the energies of All-Father Odin; the energies of the particular Elder Futhark runes Dagaz, Ansuz, and Gyfu; an amber ring; and the supremely potent cosmic “reset” button energies ushered in by Friday’s whopper of a total solar eclipse Spring Equinox? YOU GET ENGAGED, THAT’S WHAT!
My Bodacious Beau™ Daniel popped the question last night(!) not long after we returned home from our magical voyage to the land of the Cheeseheads, wondrous Wisconsin; without hesitation, I cupped his clean-shaven face in my hands and shouted “YES!” before plastering his cheeks and lips with beaucoup de bisses. (Lotsa kisses, folks!) We both squealed for joy. Once the manic/surreal effect began to dissipate, I immediately phoned my folks, whom, ironically, we had seen earlier in the evening as we made a brief visit to their Gurnee home upon crossing back into Illinois.
Even though, about three weeks ago, Dan offhandedly asked me about my ring finger size, I really didn’t anticipate a marriage proposal coming from him anytime soon–I mean, financial concerns aside, we’re both so busy: his job has been ratcheting up the intensity with upcoming high-profile events in Chicago’s nonprofit/philanthropic scene; aside from my own 9-5 Glamorous Life™ in the high-octane world of marketing communications and PR, I’ve been feverishly working on editing the content for the Spring issue of Isis-Seshat magazine for the worldwide Fellowship of Isis. The possibility of getting engaged? It never entered my mind once; my crude brain was pretty much solely focused on the fun Dan and I would undoubtedly have in the double jacuzzi (with a giant stone fireplace next to it, fittingly, in the south) our B&B suite featured.
Ahem! Yes! Stress relief! That’s right: I booked our romantic B&B weekend getaway as an opportunity for Dan and I to not only unwind from recent job stresses for both of us, but to have fun celebrating his 32nd birthday (if you’re curious, I’m 9 years his senior) while seriously (and spiritually) capitalizing upon the profound astrological energies of last week’s Uranus-Pluto 7th and final exact square, the new moon, and the total solar eclipse ushering in the Vernal Equinox on Friday. As I wrote about on Friday, my Petite Priestess Powers™ sensed in advance the potent energies of the land and water spirits that would be welcoming Dan and me near Williams Bay, Wisconsin (on the shores of Geneva Lake). I knew that our trip would bring both of us a real chance to set our intentions for manifesting our desires–I just had no clue how life-altering such swift manifestation could become!
But perhaps I did, at some level. Instinctively. And as strange as this may sound, that awareness registered on Friday evening the moment my eyes beheld, as we drove west into the setting egg-yolk sun on Highway 50, the rich, black soil of the farmland in southern Wisconsin. Many fields bore the evidence of being tilled or in the process of being tilled–several by old-fashioned plows sitting idle, blades and handles at the ready. My eyes registered this powerful iconography and its rich lexicon of symbolism to Pagan eyes–registered and knew that the fallow times are behind us, that this is the time to sow seeds in the receptivity of Moist Mother Earth. Ostara had burst through the veil of winter’s barren dullness with an exuberant shout to waken all the Worlds.
“I can’t wait to see the lay of the land in the light of day!” I said to Daniel as we pulled into a parking spot near the B&B’s guest check-in facility. The welcome light was literally left on solely for us, as we were the only party expected that evening. I was relieved, given the traffic out of downtown Chicago, that we’d made the check-in cutoff point with a half hour to spare. Massive white birch trees and the stately silhouettes of other ones I couldn’t make out in the dark lined the driveway. Walkway lights showcased curious bronze statuettes of fairies, bird baths, and pleasing flower arrangements. Surely this was a Fae-haunted place!
Dan and I would come to know all of Williams Bay as very steeped in spirits–in the land, the trees, Geneva Lake, and, yes, in our very own suite for the weekend at the B&B as well. The entire building was a converted barn, and our upper-level suite featured old hay-loft doors (I called them Spirit Doors) that opened into curious nooks–even though one was retrofitted with an antique dresser (the entire place was furnished with antiques, so the spirits of the dead were omnipresent too, but in a very benevolent way), it had a secret door behind it that was nailed shut. In the liminal space between the back of the dresser and the original inner door I made my first of several offerings of the weekend to the house/barn wights (the class of spirits known as domovoi in Russian lore): a little looseleaf tobacco goes a long way. I felt a surge of goosebumps and instantly knew my words of thanks and the tobacco leaves themselves were well received. Dan and I would surely be blessed during our stay in our cozy home away from home.
Saturday, March 21, 2015 will always be a treasured day for Dan and me–and no, that’s not the date he proposed. It was the date we’ll call Synchronicity Saturday, one that represented nothing short than the complete, binding covenant he and I made with the land, with our Gods, and with each other.
And it all began with a shopping spree.
That’s right: after our scrumptious country breakfast, we grabbed our Canon camera and headed into downtown Lake Geneva because, during the previous evening’s sojourn to the B&B, Dan spotted a cool leather goods/sheepskin shop on Main Street and wanted to check out a funky, Steampunk-looking hat in the window. So that was where we headed first, and then the spirit of whimsy led us to other shops afterwards (including a comic book store where Dan treated himself to Venom and Darth Vader merchandise), mostly with the goal of finding a birthday gift for my father (his birthday, like Dan’s, is March 22) and a souvenir for Dan’s mom, who likes quirky antiques and collectables.
While slightly cool, the day was delightfully sunny, and Geneva Lake gleamed brilliantly. Dan was ebullient. I turned his attention to an antique store across the street from us that would more than likely harbor gift ideas for his mother, but it was when we started walking over there that, I kid you not, the spirits started to pull me towards the Sign of the Unicorn.
No, seriously–that’s the name of the shop: the Sign of the Unicorn. An art gallery. I scanned its massive windows. “Oh, they’ve got witch balls!” I noticed, excitedly. “Can we go in there first?”
What a serendipitous sidetrack it turned out to be, for I made the shocking discovery that the art chiefly sold there is Inuit-made. Savvy readers of this blog will know of my fondness for all things Inuit, culturally speaking, and my devotional relationship to the fierce goddess of the Arctic Ocean and the Inuit Underworld (Adlivun), Sedna.
“Oh wow, Daniel! Look at these amazing soapstone carvings of bears and narwhals!” I held a couple up for examination, delighting in the smooth contours of the carvings. Bears dancing, poised on one leg. Spinning narwhal mammas and babies, their carefully wrought tusks carved out of caribou antler and fitted into the soapstone. Each animal seemed alive, playful, in my hands.
I said aloud what I was thinking: “Wouldn’t it be amazing if I found a Sedna statue here?”
“I was just thinking the same thing!” Dan replied. “But the odds have got to be incredibly small for that. She’s not depicted that often in art, is She? And what are the odds of finding Her here, in Lake Geneva?” Dan spun around in place, shrugging his shoulders, to indicate the unlikeliness of it all.
I continued to meander throughout the store, scrutinizing each curio cabinet’s display of Inuit art. Not a Sedna, not a Sedna, I said mentally as I discarded each piece. And then, on top of the third cabinet, I saw an intriguing piece that had a female face with stubby flipper-hands below in sphinx pose: the elongated body ended in a fish tail. It couldn’t possibly be…but my heart raced nonetheless. I found a tag certifying the piece as Inuit-made and I flipped it over. The artist’s name, the price tag, and then the title of the piece were revealed: “SEDNA,” the final line read.
“Holy shit!” I yelled. “Dan! I found Her!”
I became so emotional I almost started crying. Dan, understanding the significance of the event, nearly joined me. He said what I was thinking: that it really felt as if a plethora of spirits wanted us to go on this trip this weekend. True alchemy was afoot. And little did we know at the time that it was only beginning.
The discovery of the statue for me not only reaffirmed my strong connection with the Inuit goddess; it also spoke volumes of the potency of the water spirits dwelling in Geneva Lake. While I had tobacco and other herbal offerings for the land spirits, I had hoped, per the ancient custom of many European peoples, to offer the spirits of water objects of value that were made of metal. The Bronze Age Celts, for example, were known to sacrifice exquisitely crafted articles of jewelry and weaponry to the spirits and deities they associated with watery places of power in their living landscape. In that spirit, I was wondering what, if anything, metallic I could offer to the spirits of Geneva Lake. Did I have any single earrings or other bling in my jewelry case I could part with? Not with me on this trip. Did any of the shops have anything that struck my fancy? Nothing that “spoke” to me.
But then the spirits themselves provided the offering they wanted: After procuring the Sedna statue, Dan and I realized we needed to feed the parking meter again. Lying in the gutter off the intersection of Main Street and Broad Street in downtown Lake Geneva, an object glittered in the afternoon sunlight. Just a quick glimpse told me something extraordinary was there for the taking–but not for the keeping. Here’s your offering to us, a voice seemed to say as I hunkered down and scooped up, to my utter amazement, a gorgeous and large silver locket (minus a chain) that had a Claddagh ring motif embossed on its front. I turned it over in my hands. Sterling silver. Huge–about 2 inches in diameter. Very valuable. I opened the locket. Empty. No one was around me–Dan had gone ahead to feed the meter for our car as I lagged behind, distracted by the shiny finding.
When I showed it to Dan, he was incredulous. Especially because I’d been in the habit of wearing for the past year now, almost as if it were an engagement ring (I wore it on my right hand, though), a sterling silver Claddagh ring that Dan had blessed himself at our Aphrodite shrine with the intent to serve as his pledge of love to me.
“Good Gods, Anna!” he yelled.
“And just when I was thinking I’d like to have something metal and of value to offer the spirits of the lake,” I said. “They heard me.”
“Yes, they did.” Dan was wide-eyed, amazed. “Your guides and spirits are definitely making themselves known here. This is no accident; you were meant to find that and offer it. Unbelievable! I am so honored to be sharing this with you!”
We decided that we would do two consecutive rituals later in the afternoon: one to the land spirits, where Dan wanted to officially and ritually declare his desire to manifest a working relationship with the Fae, and one to the spirits of Geneva Lake. But we had two very important events to tend to first: a spontaneous decision to have a consultation with a local tattoo artist about a custom design for a tattoo we both wanted inked on ourselves, and then a set appointment at Therapeutic Touch for a super-relaxing couples’ massage I’d booked in advance of our trip.
For months, Dan and I had discussed getting an identical tattoo that would both celebrate our relationship as well as our shared devotion to particular deities like Hekate and Odin. However, we never followed through on our discussions and certainly never came to an agreement on what it was we exactly wanted to have inked on ourselves. So we tabled the idea…until I’d found the locket in the street and Dan spotted the marquee for Lake Geneva Tattoo.
“Want to go in there with me? I’ve got an idea I sketched on a placemat during lunch: Hekate’s strophalos and key symbols are prominent.”
I happened to be wearing a Hekate key pendant that bore the strophalos as well as a torch, another key (see what I did there?) symbol of Hers. “I could show this to the artist,” I giddily said. I had visions of runes too.
The effortlessness at which the artist, whose name was Vincent, grasped what we were trying to convey served as further proof for Dan and me that the tattoo idea’s time had finally come. The tattoo, depicted at the top of this post, was finalized with my initials and Dan’s–transliterated into runes–intersecting each other. Hence the tattoo was as much about us as it was about Hekate and Odin (in His role as Rune-Giver to humanity). We were giddy.
It was time for us to head further down Main Street to meet up with our massage therapists for our 3 p.m. couples’ massage appointment. It was absolutely glorious, and the metaphysical connotations of the layers of polarity operating during the massage were not lost on Dan and me. I had a masseur; he had a masseuse. I was asked to start by laying face-down; Dan began the hour lying on his back. At the midway point, we reversed positions. We were asked to do deep breathing exercises in opposition to one another. It was consciously alchemical and divine (not to mention rejuvenating and relaxing at the same time). In fact, when all was said and done and the therapists left the room so we could get dressed, I looked over at Dan, who was still lying in repose on his back with his eyes closed, and told him, “You look Osirian.” I understood the implications, then, of implying that I was Isis. He got it too.
As the sunlight was noticeably waning by the time we exited the massage parlor, we knew we needed to race back to the B&B so Dan could gather his ritual supplies for his working with the Fae. (I had already had my items with me; it’s always a good policy to travel with a backpack purse.) Once that was accomplished, it was merely a matter of finding a suitable place out in nature to do our working.
“Your intuition has been so spot-on about everything in this trip so far, I’m going to let you decide where we do our ritual, as it will obviously be the right place for us,” Dan said. I smiled.
Act locally. I was drawn to a nature conservation spot not too far from the public beach in Williams Bay. There were trails marked by wooden planks but those were in something of a state of decay; a sign cautioned us against going any further once the trails’ defining planks, which sustained damage over the winter, reached their abrupt end. Keep walking north. You’re almost there, a voice seemed to tell me. We ignored the sign instructing us to turn around once we’d reached the end of the northernmost trail and kept heading north. We were in a very wild spot. Red-winged blackbirds were everywhere, merrily chirping and flitting from cattail to cattail in the marshy ground. And then I found it: a crooked dirt path that meandered into a copse of thorny trees arranged in a semi-circle. Good open space in the center.
I unzipped my backpack purse and began to lay my items out on the ground–altar cloth, coyote pelt, quartz crystal egg, stick of amber incense, statue of Venus of Willendorf figurine carved out of moss agate, and then my pouches of herbs (tobacco, hyssop, huckleberry leaves) and small vials of magical oils (Hekate, hyssop, honeysuckle, Van Van). We breathed into the land and immediately began the ritual, with Dan casting the sphere per Feri tradition–using his trusty phurpa as his athame.
When he did his ritual to the Fae, I sensed an immediate acceptance of his intention and presentation of offerings because a strange flock of water fowl–about 5 birds (were they loons?)–flew overhead, warbling in a most curious manner as soon as Dan had finished speaking. This phenomenon would repeat itself a bit later on upon my throwing the Claddagh-themed locket into Geneva Lake, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Hekate. Coyote. Odin. Hermes. Ostara. A plethora of land spirits. The Faery beings whom Dan had invoked. They were there, They were aware, and They approved our work. Our hearts sang–a true sense of Spring Equinox alchemy, ushered in by Friday’s potent solar eclipse and the new moon in Aries, had definitely been unleashed within and around us.
Now it was time to turn our attention to the water spirits. We walked back the way we’d entered and then continued walking south until we were on the shores of Geneva Lake. While much of the lake was still under a thin coating of ice, attesting to winter’s vise grip in this part of the Midwest, I found a spot of free-flowing water underneath the roots of a massive, eldritch willow tree.
I pulled the locket from my coat pocket and pried it open: I added loose tobacco leaves and hyssop leaves, dabbed some hyssop oil on the shredded leaves, and then snapped the locket shut. I projected my intention into the locket as I held it in my hands and breathed into it. I then handed the locket to Dan and he similarly infused it with his energy. He handed it back to me. I raised my arm aloft and announced my intention of offering to the water spirits and to Sedna, giving them all profound thanks for the blessings they were bestowing on Dan and me. As a gift demands a gift, I had this locket to offer and I was giving it away of my own free will and accord. I said a short prayer and then, with all my might as a left-handed thrower, pitched the locket as far away as I could, watching it SPLOOSH! under the waves with a great sense of satisfaction.
A good ritual usually takes a lot out of me and I find that eating is a great way to replenish and ground myself. Dan and I found a Chinese restaurant nearby–Su Wing’s–and we feasted like royalty. It was all the more enjoyable because our waitstaff was impeccable too, and they celebrated Dan’s birthday with me.
We had a custom-ordered birthday cake awaiting us back in the B&B, but that was for midnight celebrating as Dan is a midnight baby, born at 12:01 on March 22. So we had a luxurious, sensual night of relaxing and deepening our intimacy in and out of the double jacuzzi as we pleasurably counted down the hours until midnight. Strangely, at one point, while refilling our wine glasses, Dan announced that something had flown into his face–some kind of insect. It turned out that a trio of ladybugs buzzed around him! They perched near the rim of the jacuzzi, like little moving punctuation marks.
“Well, you did summon the Fae today and announced you wanted a partnership with Them, didn’t you?” I asked. “So don’t be surprised if They show up like this.” Dan nodded in agreement.
We didn’t really sleep in the next morning as we didn’t want to miss the breakfast buffet, plus it was time to start packing up so that we could check out of the B&B, as much as we wished we could stay another couple of days. Happily, our time in the Lake Geneva vicinity was nowhere near done as we had a 12 noon tattoo appointment to keep! We returned to Lake Geneva Tattoo and Vince inked Dan and I with the delightful, spiritually significant custom design we’d talked to him about the previous day. It was a true initiation–one that would have a more lasting effect than I first realized.
We had made plans to visit my parents at 4 o’clock that afternoon as it was my father’s birthday also. Dan and I decided to appeal to his literal rustic tastes by procuring some fine gourmet sausages and other cured meats my father is crazy about; they wound up being very well appreciated as presents. (In order to not make my mom feel left out, I got her some home-canned elderberry preserves from a local farmstead.) Four was exactly when Dan and I pulled into their driveway. It was a nice little visit, and then Dan and I braved the final leg of our trip back to Chicago. To our dismay, it began snowing as soon as we’d crossed back into Cook County! Ugh!
Upon getting our luggage hauled up from the garage, I announced that I didn’t want to unpack just yet: I was tired from driving and thought I would take a catnap. Dan caressed my face and announced he understood. He was going to start unpacking a little but then we could hang out and perhaps watch back episodes of American Horror Story together on Netflix.
I’d been lying for perhaps 10 minutes when Dan re-entered the living room, announcing that he had something important he wanted to discuss as he’d been “pensive” while unpacking in the bedroom. I sat up; he had my full attention.
He began to tell me how much he appreciated my planning of the B&B weekend getaway, and how profoundly amazed he was by all the tell-tale signs of synchronicity, assuring him and me that many Deities and spirits were making themselves known. Transformation was truly afoot–it had been for some time, actually, ever since we began dating in earnest in September of 2013. But when Dan moved in with me last Thanksgiving weekend, he’d been earnestly thinking about proposing marriage. What had precluded him was not having the money for an expensive engagement ring. He wanted to show he was good enough.
But in the bedroom, while unpacking, he had some UPG from Odin, saying that now was the time. Dan decided to pull his rune set and ask for guidance. The rune he drew, and which appears in our tattoo also, was Dagaz: literally “daybreak,” which connotes a breakthrough. So that settled it.
I was still lounging on the sofa and Dan, who had been sitting across from me on an ottoman, suddenly got down on both knees in front of me. He declared me to be the love of his life and that I reigned in his heart as his queen. The magic between us, already so strong and anchored by so many powerful Deities, had a lifetime of Wyrd-weaving between us to manifest in its fullness.
His eyes were wondrous: confident and yet vulnerable. Searching and pleading.
“Anna, will you marry me?” And here he slipped on a gorgeous Baltic amber ring in a striking silver setting on my ring finger.
My eyes widened in utter surprise. “YES!” I shouted, and then came the aforementioned cupping of his face in my hands and the thousands of kisses.
So that, dear reader, is an account of alchemy in action on this Fate-full past weekend, a time of true power and mystery made manifest in the shared Wyrd between Dan and me and between us and the Powers we serve.
And I am truly being made a better woman for it. And for that, I give thanks. Blessed Be!
- conscious coupling
- Fellowship of Isis
- Field Museum
- Inuit art
- spirit guides
- spiritual growth
- Spring Equinox
- total solar eclipse 2015
- Venus in Taurus
- Vikings exhibit Chicago
- water spirits