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Standing Alone Under the Night Sky


I went out this evening to have a quick drink with a friend, in honor of Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night. She's waiting on her visa so that she can join her English husband in the UK. We talked about kids and adult children and college loans and the Rollright Stones.

Since we have fallen back into ordinary time (and out of daylight savings), our quick drink still had me driving home in the dark, thinking about Fawkes and his plot and the uses of torture and metaphor and image.

When I parked my car in the driveway and got out, the sky above was shot with stars. I looked for the Moon, which had not yet risen.  And then I took three deep breaths.  I grounded myself as I scanned the night sky.

Tomorrow is the 6th of November--a day we've been anticipating and fretting about for many months.  Every news broadcast includes odd attempts at divination from people who seem to have little skill in that area. Social media has become an impossibly toxic jumble of fear, anger, pleading and naked aggression.

I cannot tell you how often I've suggested that my friends remember their daily spiritual practice, that they ground themselves and set shields and wards. I doubt that many of them do it in more than a half-hearted manner because we seem to be afflicted in these last months with half-hearts.

Standing under that night sky, I thought about the Gunpowder Plot and the film V for Vendetta. With any luck, we will know the results of this eons-long election cycle tomorrow night about this time. Mercury will be retrograde and we will stand under the last quarter of the Moon. Waiting with our half-hearts, our sour stomachs, bowed down by layers of grief--the wild storms, the abused children, the economic meltdown that seems slow and inevitable. Surrounded by our Ancestors and Beloved Dead, we will need courage and humor to face whatever is coming.

Penny for the guy?

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H. Byron Ballard is a ritualist, teacher, speaker and writer. She has taught at Sacred Space Conference, Pagan Unity Festival, Southeast Her essays are featured in several anthologies, including “Birthed from Scorched Hearts“ (Fulcrum Press), “Christmas Presence“ (Catawba Press), “Women’s Voices in Magic” (Megalithica Books), “Into the Great Below” and “Skalded Apples” (both from Asphodel Press.) Her book Staubs and Ditchwater: an Introduction to Hillfolks Hoodoo (Silver Rings Press) debuted in June 2012. Byron is currently at work on Earth Works: Eight Ceremonies for a Changing Planet. Contact her at,


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