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House of the Harvest Moon Hag: A Ghost Story of Haunted Septembers and Baba Yagas

by Danielle Dulsky

Stop lurking and do come in, you curious cat. Be it by happenstance or ambition, you’ve gone and stumbled upon my Harvest Moon House.

These humble walls become my psychic haunt every September, and only those with cobwebbed sigils around their eyes and bitterly impassioned rivers in their veins are welcome.

Curl up right here beside my humble hearth; I built it from the browning bones of those fragile women I used to be.

Their skulls were my stones, their tears my mortar, and I tend this fire well in the name of the holy wild hag I’ve become.

Shall I pour you some of this slow-simmering brew?

I’m not sure it will suit your summery palette of all things over-sweet and icily chilled, this hot and heady reduction of dark moonbeams, cinnamon butter, and crow song.

Sip the soup of a butter Witch and become her familiar forever, they say.

You look like you’d almost make such a bargain, you purring pilgrim, but I’ve got all the spectral beloveds I need, thank you very much.

You’re sure to meet them all, should you stay. You’re sure to meet the whole host of hungry souls that slink about this creaking house of mine, hoping to be noticed, waiting to be needed.

You will sit for a spell, won’t you?

These ghosts are only good company past dark, and I’ve been looking for someone to swap sultry stories with on late summer afternoons.

Those long limbs of Autumn are looming and lurking behind every tree.

Those soft-creeping crones and scraggle-bearded horned gods are coming for us all, and I’ve got tales to tell before the spirits start to walk, before the last harvest bids me close this door for another thirteen moons.

Here’s a wicked one, for you: It begins with a black-eyed wanderer trekking through the sweltering, thick-blooming lands of summer toward the Harvest Moon House of the Autumn hag.

Once inside, she fed that hapless pilgrim from her cauldron, taught her to speak the language of her free-roaming goats, and tasked her with tending the hearth from moonrise to moonset.

When her work was finished and that pink-bleeding sun was rising over the heathen treetops, that hag would teach her a single line from a spell that would save her life one day.

All that haunts us ‘neath this moon

The wanderer would sleep the light away, waking just in time for supper and readying herself for a haunted night of skeletal caresses and disembodied laughter.

The hag would snore away while the pilgrim poked at the meager, crackling coals to distract herself from the hisses of lost lovers and lullabies of dead grannies.

She’d press her hands to her ears and hum the lazy poetry of pop songs, all the while willing the sun to rise and lull the dead to sleep.

Will find us fast but be gone soon

Staying only that she might learn the Witch’s magick, the wanderer spent her nights shivering in fear, living a waking nightmare by firelight, and whispering prayers to the god of her childhood she’d long since willed herself to forget.

By Autumn’s grace, by graveyard hymn

Each day, the wanderer would wake to learn another piece of the rhyme, dreading the passing hours that saw the sky turn from somber grey to midnight pitch.

When you’re risking life and limb

Each night, the pilgrim would swear she could see long-fanged sprites in the flames and unseelie eyes in the shadows.

Recite these words to save your bones

The fatter the moon became, the bolder the ghosts grew, whispering warnings that they, too, were once warm-blooded visitors to the hag’s house.

On the sixth morning, when the pilgrim had spent the night vowing to leave the next day, be it by cat-like escape or polite farewell, whether or not she’d learned the full rhyme that would save her life one day, the old one affirmed her work was finished.

“Are you ready?” she said, crawling from her bed with mischief dripping from her bleary eyes. “Shall I speak the spell in full? Very well.”

All that haunts us ‘neath this moon
Will find us fast but be gone soon
By Autumn’s grace, by graveyard hymn
When you’re risking life and limb
Recite these words to save your bones
Think twice ‘fore knocking on the doors of crones

Ah, if only that pilgrim had learned that spell sooner, am I right?

Why are you shaking? Did I rattle you? Wait, where are you going? You haven’t finished your drink or stated your business.

Why, I was only just getting warmed up, and-

Oh, well. I guess it’s just me then. It’s just as well.

This house really is best suited for just one living soul anyway, and my story medicine is never for the faint-hearted.

All that haunts us ‘neath this moon…

 

IN CONCLUSION

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  • Danielle Dulsky is a longtime activist for wild woman spirituality and the divine feminine’s return. She is the author of Woman Most Wild: Three Keys to Liberating the Witch Within (New World Library, 2017), a multimedia artist, yoga teacher and teacher trainer, energy worker, and Witch, Danielle is on a mission to inspire women to be fearless creators of their own sacred work, to reclaim the name Witch, and to integrate ritual and magick into their daily lives. As a continuing educator provider and teacher trainer for Yoga Alliance, Danielle teaches creative movement alchemy, conscious body-prayer, and yoga as living ritual. Danielle leads Witchcraft workshops, women’s circles, councils, and yoga teacher trainings nationwide and in the United Kingdom. She believes all women who are alive today are meant to be instrumental in supporting positive social transformation by enacting their spiritual agency, cultivating a kinship with nature and Her elements, and liberating their inner wild woman. Website: http://DanielleDulsky.Com Book Website: http://TheHolyWild.Com. Facebook Page: Danielle Dulsky (@WolfWomanCircle) Instagram: WolfWomanWitch

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