For our Lady of Spring, in dreamtime

I know it’s them in my dream, my mother and sister, but only because I recognise their voices. We paint our cheeks pink, wear flowery dresses, go out into the garden. The sky is pale grey, the sun hidden behind clouds. Maybe I should be cold. I am not. Mother goes round the house, opening all the windows, and when she comes back outside, she whispers, ‘We must welcome our Spring Goddess with respect, so go clean the floors, and wash the sheets. Then, while I prepare an apple pie with goat cheese, pick me each a snowdrop, and tonight I’ll press them in my diary.’

On our little altar, decorated with white candles and dolls woven from reeds, I place three glasses of warm milk my sister has put fresh cinnamon powder in. What happens next is all a fog; I have passed out, but my ears are alert, like a wolf’s, and I hear things. Are the stars out tonight? I don’t know. If she doesn’t come to us, death might. Then I cough until my lungs are afraid of air.

And I have lost my mother’s and sister’s voices.

And I am blind.

Now awake and out of my dream, it is winter—the stillness of the lake disturbed only by my heartbeat. Before they seal my eyes with silver coins and cast me into the water, I hope I can see my mother and sister one last time.

Blessed be Beltane

It’s almost the end of April and I have burned everything from back home, including my old books. Some say I’ve desecrated my connection with my past, with my time in my homeland. But I do not care about their opinion. For a woman, the moment she realises for the first time what her capacities are, is like no other moment. She finds out there was power in everything the boys at school were mocking her for. Each word of wisdom from the old ladies in her life seems like a mantra of self-persecution now. Her mother and father were not trying to protect her, but to protect themselves. So, the woman finally understands that her truth has always been inside the flesh she wears, and she is finally able to wear it with pride.

I must get ready, and there is so much to be done. It’s been a long winter and I spent it afraid, withering in solitude, comforted only by my sour breath and occasional dreams in which my beloved grandmother talked to me about her life in the spirit world. Dying is easy and I could join her, she said, but I refused her invitation. My parents are too young to cry over my corpse. I’m not going to die, not yet. I might be skin and bone, but that’s not a sad diagnosis. The power is in the warmth of my womb. I’m ecstatic for the beginning of spring, and I flutter around the house like the moths that have found their ends in my afternoon cups of peppermint tea (yes, I drank the teas with the moths in them for good luck, but no one is sad about their absence so I don’t feel guilty).

Tomorrow is an important day. It’s time for the dictatorship of God, the Ruler, the Husband, or the Father to be replaced by the Goddess who encapsulates all her sacred feminine forms, from the Mother and the Wife, to the Solitary Priestess, the Protective Sister and the Queen of Knowledge.

I want to reclaim my true self through an army of worms and caterpillars. I have in my hair a flower crown made of wild-flowers, motherwort and rosemary, and two dried spiders I found pressed between the pages of a Latin dictionary bought from a second-hand bookshop when I’d just moved to this town.

The Lovers card is on my altar. My lovers who slept will now be awake and this is my promise of an idyll. I hope they’ll appreciate my offerings: milk chocolate, honey, dried apricots, raisins, and a small cotton bag filled with the teeth of my old cat, Lusi.

I told my mother when I left, ‘Mother, you think I’m going to be alone because you don’t believe in them, but I do, and they’ll open their moon and stars for me among the lilies, tulips, and lilac in my new garden.’ Mother smiled kindly and told me that she hadn’t thought about things that way, and what a wonderful daughter I was, but I knew she only said that to be polite. She won’t change her mind until she sees what I’m talking about. And she will.

There is not enough hot water in the house, but tonight I will bath in milk and charcoal salt, to make sure my skin is as soft and clean as my old sisters deserve to wear. When I’m done bathing, I’ll burn my sage and cast a circle of white candles around me, and sing to the spirits loud, from the bottom of my lungs.

O blood, O blood, how fluid and thick,

between your warmth and my skin        

are these words carved with such artistry

I have done it again

taste it, dark red.