BY ANDREA LAMBERT
October 1, 2016. Full moon in libra. The Black Moon. The Blood Moon. I turn forty. Face eviction from my Hollywood dream apartment. Cry in a ball on the shower floor. Cockroaches crawl down the walls.
That black moon is the beginning of a transformative journey from Los Angeles to Reno. Beckoned ever onward by the Knight of Wands. I draw this card over and over in Tarot that four months in transition in my last living grandmother’s basement. The Knight of Wands means change in residence. Flight into the unknown. Once feared, now I embrace it.
February 1, 2017 is the witches sabbath Imbolc. I do a PTSD healing ritual clutching my broom on the fold-out bed. February 10 is the full moon, a Snow Moon in libra. Snow shrouds Nevada as I pack. I move into the House of the Rising Sun two days after Valentine's Day. Reno is my Valentine. I'm Nevada’s sweetheart. I give my grandma a red heart-shaped box of chocolates as a Valentine’s farewell.
My first week in the house, I feel spooky. Go to the secret room at the end of the hall as if called there. Turn on my dead grandma’s lamp on the hardwood floor. Pink watercolor flowers on porcelain. My great-aunt Theda Butcher was the first widow to "live out her days in the House of the Rising Sun," as the song goes. Grandma Janet was the next. I am the third.
I listen to Yoko Ono’s "Yes, I’m a Witch," as I dress for magic. The chorus goes: "Yes, I’m a witch. I’m a bitch. Don’t care what you say. My voice is real. My voice is truth. Don’t fit anyways. I’m not gonna die for you. You might as well face the truth. I’m gonna stick around for quite awhile." I plan on sticking around. Suicide has never been in my cards. Rising guitars strum as Yoko chants, "Witch… Bitch…"
I line my eyes black. Smear myself with coconut oil. Spritz Elizabeth and James "Nirvana." Pull on the black velvet Courtney Love dress with white lace collar that belonged to my dead wife. Katie Jacobson committed suicide in 2012. Her funeral portrait sits larger than life with a white and gold frame against the wall. My Wicca altar is backed with her portrait staring with those piercing green eyes right through me. I pray to her spirit for guidance. Put on a crow skull necklace from Necromance on Melrose. An etsy witch hat festooned with pale yellow gauze and jeweled black feathers.
I light Sandalwood incense. Pull cards from the Dame Darcy Mermaid Tarot deck. The High Priestess. Empress. Queen of Pentacles. Queen of Cups. Strong, solitary, splendid women. I place them at the back of the altar against Halloween skull goblets and a Virgin de Guadalupe candle. Set the Hermit against a St. Martin de Porres candle for the divine masculine.
The Queen of Swords means a widow or woman of sorrow who once knew much pleasure.
Dame Darcy illustrates this Tarot card with a beautiful female face. Tears stream down her high cheekbones like Nico from the Velvet Underground. A sword tangles in her long blonde hair. I place my central queen in front of the altar stone.
On the stone, a circle of severed acrylic nails surrounds a cauldron holding a round black 8 Ball. I set the Ace of Cups and Ace of Pentacles on either side for prosperity and abundance overflowing. On the Ace of Cups water flows out of a chambered Nautilus shell into the ocean.
Surrounding the Queen of Swords I place the Ten of Pentacles and Four of Wands for a happy ancestral home. The Four of Wands is reversed for my desired home’s twist from the white picket fence of standard domesticity. Fate decrees I be alone. No children or family here. My womb is as barren as the winter branches of the cherry tree in the backyard. I seek only solitary creative bliss under the waning Snow Moon. Over the years to come as Strawberry Moons wax and wane above to Harvest Moons.
I sweep the spooky room with a besom broom. Sit in the lotus position on white velvet pillows. Holding a white candle North in my palm, I Invoke light and earth. Lift the candle East for air. South for fire. West for water. Ring the bell three times. Raise my hands on either side in mystical gestures. Left in the Lotus cup of Persephone. Right in the Devil’s Horns of Dionysus. Divine feminine and masculine.
I say, "I call upon the Goddess and God, Mary Magdalene and Jesus Christ, to guide this ritual and guard this home." I close my eyes. Fill my mind with white light. Reach the still point within my soul. Feel the light well upwards and outward from my heart center to fill the house.
"There is one Power, which is within and without," I say, "As I will, so mote it be: I desire that this home be blessed. Consecrated. Protected. Mine. As I will, so may it be." I light the sage. It smolders. I walk around tracing the perimeter of the house leaving smudge smoke behind. Painted faces of people I once knew in Los Angeles and San Francisco stare down from dark walls.
I look deep into the oculus of the Queen Anne dresser in the bedroom. My grandmother Janet Lambert brushed her blonde curls standing right here, many years before. I raise both hands. Left with sage giving off scented smoke. Right in gesture of the Horned God.
"Thank you for my healing," I say. "I call upon the blessed spirits of Theda Butcher, Janet Lambert and Katie Jacobson. Three strong women whom I love. Three ghosts bring about three wishes. Let this House of the Rising Sun be consecrated. Protected. Mine. From this ancestral mirror bring forth into life."
I read from Aoumiel’s Green Witchcraft: "Love is the law, and love is the bond. Merry did I meet, merry do I part, and merry will I meet again. Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again! The circle is now cleared. So may it be. Beings and powers of the visible and invisible, depart in peace! You aid in my work, whisper in my mind, and bless me from the Otherworld, and there is harmony between us. My blessings take with you. The circle is now cleared. So may it be!"
I run the smoldering sage under cold water in the bathroom to put it out safely. With beloved spirits of the other world, my spell is cast. My home is consecrated. My new life begins.
Andrea Lambert wrote Jet Set Desolate (Future Fiction London: 2009), Lorazepam & the Valley of Skin: Extrapolations on Los Angeles (valeveil: 2009) and the chapbook G(u)ilt (Lost Angelene, 2011). Her writing appears in 3:AM Magazine, Fanzine, Entropy, Angel’s Flight Literary West, HTMLGiant, Queer Mental Health and elsewhere. Her work is anthologized in Haunting Muses, Writing the Walls Down: A Convergence of LGBTQ Voices, The L.A. Telephone Book Vol. 1, 2011-2012, Off the Rocks Volume #16: An Anthology of GLBT Writing and elsewhere. Lambert paints in figurative mixed media oils critically referenced as “kitchy maximalism.” Her artwork features in Angel’s Flight Literary West, Entropy, Hinchas de Poesias, Queer Mental Health and Anodyne Magazine. CalArts MFA.