by Madeleine Forbes
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Witches spell by electric light. Witches hum a tune you heard, once, in the deep smoke of a warehouse rave.
Smoke cigarettes, crumple takeout wrappers, smear lipstick.
You do not need to live in a hovel in the woods, witch. You do not need to string chicken bones around your door, live in thick smoke and greasy darkness.
You do not need to let your spine grow twisted like a hundred-year old olive tree.
When you enter the forest, witch, when the sounds of the city roll away and the darkness closes round you, this is when you know. When you set out on the trail away from the city that leads to the wild.
(This is not about pulling over the car to snap “content” to filter and brand and pass around. Come on, witch. You’re better than that.)
This is leaving your house in the middle of the night, lit by the moon. Scrambling up dark paths, lungs filled with chlorophyll and pollen, feet tracing silver lines up hillsides.
This is bare feet in mud, this is grasping shoulder-deep the wet grass, cold dew on bare skin, mouth wide open letting in the owl cry.
ONE, a witch knows what it’s like to be wet through, drenched through, soaked to the bone, and to keep walking. To laugh through the storm because the electricity in the air doesn’t frighten her. It turns her on.
TWO, she knows what grass feels like under her skin, sand and pavement too. Concrete. Floorboards. Slime.
THREE, she feels the wind blow. She is the breeze undressing your lover through the open window. The screaming in the roof that wakes you cold.
When she rains, FOUR, she drowns the sun.
(A witch can rain a calm rain too, can soothe + nourish, can coax green shoots and give succour to a parched tongue. It’s up to her.)
FIVE, she spins gold, gilds rooftops, blazes corneas and blisters skin. Rustles like wheat fields stretching to the horizon and further still, to the next. Stretches time like summer afternoons, SIX, SEVEN.
A witch knows the feeling of sticky juice on wrists and chins. A witch is stiff salt streaks in your hair, the slap of a slack tide on stone, she is your endless summer, the hot dark, the one you can’t forget.
EIGHT: The scent of her hangs heavy in the night.
A witch builds castles of dust motes dancing in the light that streams through smeary panes, forges swords of shadows that slice and maim and then, NINE!, she rises up and blows and rages and pulls them down.
A witch has felt the gusts that topple the tallest of trees, TEN, is the tornado she keeps inside her. Most of the time.
ELEVEN is still, so still. The steel of a winter skyline. She bides her time in the coldest darkest cave, the damp place where no breath hangs in the air.
TWELVE the floord rises, cold dread round your ankles, creeping up to your nostrils and closing over your crown, pulling you down.
THIRTEEN is the full moon, you knew that, witch. She shrieks outside the bar. Roars in her suburban kitchen. We are dangerous, now.
We know the seasons because we are the seasons. Fullness and emptiness, light and dark. We wax and wane, we bleed and howl.
We ebb and flow like tides, like the ocean swelling and subsiding, we rush and roar, and when you try to hold us we vanish, sucking into ourselves, we hold the void between our legs.
Monthly murderers, we have destroyed so much, and as we bleed we forgive ourselves again, laugh in the face of death once more.
We are creators and destroyers, both.
We know it. We feel it.
Our seasons make us strong.
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About the Author:
Madeleine Forbes is a writer from London currently living off-grid in the hills of central Portugal. Her latest project, The Seasoned Year, is a space in which to explore seasonal cycles and how we can reconnect to their wisdom. Find out more at www.theseasonedyear.com
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