The Last of the Granny Witches


Appalachian Ink ~ Home of Anna Wess (and Granny)

We are a peculiar breed. Our roots grow deeper than the cedars, and yet we don’t know precisely where or who it is that we grew from. We are a mystery as old as these hills themselves, and it doesn’t take much figuring to know that we are enigmas of intentional design and destiny.


God knows our names.

We are not Northerners — damn Yankees, the men folks’ Confederate influence called them — and this we know without a doubt. I myself was always preened into believing I was a Southern child, born out of notions of gallantry and romance, but the fact is, I ain’t a low country belle and I’ve never picked a shred of cotton or been to a debutante ball.

We are not peaches.

And these mountain women before us were not delicate flowers or distressed coquettes. In these old heirloom hills, the women are…

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Groundhog Day

I’m reminded today of the movie “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray.  While on some level an annoyingly comical movie that only Bill Murray could possible pull off.  I am faced these days with patterns in life, patterns that hold me stagnant, until I break them.

As I sit, counting the moments to true love’s kiss, until the first snowfall, the moment when the pattern breaks, I say honestly, it is a horribly painful experience to repeat the same patterns in all your relationships, be they professional or personal.  To be exposed to the horrible details of how others view you, of how much you really mean to them, of how much pain they could deliberately cause.

Healing is an incredible gift.  Seeing ugliness, in ourselves or those we once loved, is a horrible thing that I would not wish on my worst enemy.  A necessary evil until we get down to the core of who we really are, who we were supposed to be.

Each night I pray tomorrow I can start fresh.  And then I see it coming…I hear Sonny and Cher and cringe.  Everyday, though, I learn something about myself.  Who knows…pray with me that tomorrow may be different, for all of us.



According to Jimi Hendrix, “When the power of LOVE overcomes the love of POWER, the world will know PEACE.” – such humble words underpinning a compelling, hopeful message. Words, no matter how simple, can speak volumes. Words can inspire. Words can be the catalyst for change.

This brings me to the story of Malala Yousafzai, a 14 year old Pakistani girl, described as a peace activist, who was shot in the head by Taliban extremists, merely for fighting for what should be every child’s right – to be educated.

Since 2007, Malala’s hometown of Swat has been infiltrated by the Taliban regime, which has set about imposing their will on residents through the use of fear and intimidation1. Under Taliban rule, “men have been forced to grow beards, opponents of their beliefs are beheaded and women are prevented from going to the market”2. Furthermore, “schools have…

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The Heart Donkey


There was a man in Turkey who was travelling with his favourite donkey, a faithful companion for years and an animal very close to his heart. At the end of a hard day on the road he came to an inn and decided to rest there for the night. No sooner than he had taken off the saddle bags than a youth working for the inn came out to greet him.

“Salaam Aleikum, sir, welcome to our humble shelter! Please, come inside and get some warm soup and sit beside the fire.”

“Of course, I’d love to but first I must make sure my donkey is well cared for.” The man said, patting his donkey on the back. The youth smiled generously.

“Please, sir, allow me to attend to such details, you are an honoured guest here.”

“But it’s just that he’s an old donkey and needs a nice bed of hay to lie in.”

“Sir, we guarantee you the best care possible.”

“But you will sweep the floor first to make sure there are no stones? He gets in a terrible mood if he doesn’t sleep well.”

“Please, sir, just trust me, we are professionals here.”

“But you will add some water to his straw – his teeth are getting shakey and he likes just a little fresh grass to begin with.”

“Sir, you are embarrassing me!

“And you will give him a little rubdown along the spine – he goes crazy for that!”

“Sir, please just leave everything to me.”

So finally the man gave in and entered the establishment to enjoy a fine dinner by the fire and a comfortable bed. Meanwhile the youth rolled his eyes and… then went out to play cards in a nearby den.

The man could not sleep somehow, despite the silk sheets, as he kept having nightmares of his donkey chained up without water or food, lying on the cold stone. The vision wouldn’t leave him and so he got up in his dressing gown, walked down the steps to the stable and there! His donkey was in exactly the condition he’d imagined – cold, hungry and dying of thirst.

[Rumi then sums up by saying: the world is full of those who say whatever is necessary to get their way. When it comes to looking after your heart donkey, it’s entirely up to us. We are the only real keepers of our feelings and no one knows better than us what we really need, hence the value of trusting our intuition and taking care of our hearts as though it really were an old, faithful companion.]


“Who would give a law to lovers? Love is unto itself a higher law” -Boetheus

We are reminded that laws are manmade and that their only existence is to serve the greater good.  To remind us that deep within ourselves is the ultimate judge.  We, after all, have to look ourselves in the mirror every single day.



So the question becomes why do we need laws?  Why do we who always know the difference between right and wrong, we who are engrained with the higher law, need laws?  To protect us from ourselves.  Man, sadly, has a dual nature.  We are born of Divine Breath and the clay of the Earth.  It is our destiny to connect the Earth with the Heavens, the mundane with the divine.  And yet, before we reach such heights, we sift through our own dirt, through our own filth.  We carry deep within us, the potential for harm, death, and destruction.  And everyday, we move forward.  Every battle, however hard and painful, adds to our heart of Hearts, a drop of wisdom.  Until one day, we no longer reach for the Higher Law, we become a part of it.



Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart
until, in our own despair, against our will,
comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”



>Nelson Mandela

>I’ve decided, since today is Nelson Mandela’s 93rd birthday that I would pay a tribute to who and what he has become.  It’s a challenge to do this in my own words, at the moment at least.  So I leave you with a list of 10 Nelson Mandela quotes that I have found on-line.  I hope that in your heart of hearts, you find them as inspiring and empowering as I have.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”


"To destroy is always the first step in any creation." -e.e. cummings

So many of us fear destruction.  Such a terrible thing, to be taken apart piece by piece.  And yet, it is the destiny of all of us.  We let go of the false.  We let go of the image, the illusion, the mirage, that has held us back from our true source.

“Statues made of matchsticks crumble into one another.
My Love winks, she does not bother.  She knows too much to argue or to judge.”
-Bob Dylan

Destruction is the most necessary part of life.  How could we become true without letting go of falsehoods, of our ego, of the lies we tell ourselves to keep us going just another day.  We were not meant to be part of the status quo.  We were meant to be extraordinary and to rise above even ourselves.  We are like the Phoenix that burns in its own fire and rises from its own ashes.  Destruction reminds us that this is not our true form.  That we are capable of greater things than our minds can comprehend.  We are not caterpillars inching around the ground.  We die.  And one day, we soar.  It is only when we accept ourselves in all our shame, our humility, and our helplessness that we find true glory.  And we realize it’s been sitting at the door waiting for us all along.

“I have lived on the lip of insanity
Wanting to know reasons
Knocking on a door, it opens
I have been knocking from the inside!”