Blurb

Thoughts, lessons, and theology from an eclectic witch from a varied background.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Full Moon Rite: Full Corn Moon/Full Barley Moon

First, I must apologize for this post being a week late. Things have been quite busy with the start of school and I simply have not had the time to get this finished by the last full moon (Sept. 6, 2017). This rite is one that could be used for pretty much any full moon during the harvest season. What I am presenting here is a fairly generic ritual that can be applied with minimal modification for other deities and faith practices that fall outside of the cultural norm of the USA (mostly Christian).

Like most of the other rituals and spells I present, I use a lay out that is similar to a recipe. Spells have a more focused 'ingredient' list and the steps taken are going to be different but the methodology is actually pretty close to the same for these. It is because I believe the more consistency we have in our magical and spiritual lives, the much easier it becomes to access this part of our lives at any given point in time.

For this ritual, it is best if it can be performed outdoors to take advantage of the last of the warm season's weather. Inclement weather will always demand safety of the participants (and comfort can be a big part of safety so don't count that out). If you are doing your rite indoors because it is cold and rainy, this is not a problem. (And may actually be an excellent time to acquire some rainwater for future ritual and spellcraft use.) The ritual has a central space for focus, this is the altar space. It can be a table dedicated for this use specifically. It can also be as simple as a coffee table in the living room. A cloth that evokes autumnal qualities is pleasant, but not vital. The rite can be performed with out an altar cloth of any sort or a table. As long as the altar space is visually designated as separate from the rest of the ritual space, that is all you really need here.

Candles are popular. In some cases, the old fashioned flame burning candles are not a good choice. I have found equal success with electric candles as I have with wax. (I do my best to use rechargable batteries with my electric candles to minimize the environmental impact of disposing of batteries. If I must throw my batteries away, I collect them in a safe container and then bring them to places where they are disposed of properly. If you ask your local electronics store or automotive store, they can usually tell you where they are collected for disposal.) At least one candle is dedicated to the deity(s) you are invoking.

In addition to candles on the altar, ritual tools for cleansing and purification are there. As are offerings and some manner of nourishment to be shared with the deity(s) and participants in the ritual. Breaking bread together has long been a blessed sacrament in countless faiths into antiquity as it is an expression of trust and community. If you can not make your own food stuffs for this rite, don't be troubled. Store bought is just as good (as a certain famous chef has said).

The Pre-Ritual Rites

Prior to this ritual, please make sure that the area is clean and easy to move through. This helps the ritual to proceed easily.

With the altar space clean and ready, place all tools, candles, icons, and food stuffs for the feasting portion of the rite. With the first tool for cleansing the space (I prefer to use incense of a floral nature with pine resin added in.), walk the perimeter of your ritual space. (If you are working in an established, permanent ritual space, the cleansing of the space via spirit is not a necessary step, though it may assist you in entering proper ritual mind set.) As you walk the perimeter, declare the intention that the space be cleansed of harmful and contrary energy to your goals. The first pass around the ritual area complete, place the first tool of cleansing on the altar and then repeat the process with the second tool (I asperge the space with blessed salt water.).

Ritual space established, if a candle is being used to signify the presence of spiritual allies, guardians, and guests, light said candle at this time. As you do so, make your invocation of these beings, making your invitation as specific as possible. This is an excellent time to request your spiritual allies and guardians to ward the ritual space and participant(s) from harm by way of malevolent and contrary spiritual beings that seek to disrupt or otherwise influence the ritual.

Invitations made to those upon the spiritual realms that you desire to have present or witness your ritual, it is now time to invoke your household and personal deities. (In my case, I would be requesting the presence of Ingvi-Freyr; Anna, the Priestess of the World; Mother Marya; and Deam Mysterium.) At the time of requesting the presence of the deities, it is good to state what the purpose of your ritual is and ask their blessing upon it.

The Ritual

The Full Moon rites of Wicca, and related faith traditions, are generally ones of thanksgiving when they are not focused upon magical work. The ritual I present to you today is based in the Wiccan ritual format, as this is how I was trained initially in ritual practices. The Full Corn Moon / Full Barley Moon is the harvest celebration that is closest to the Autumnal Equinox and when the harvest celebration of Mabon (one of the major celebrations of Wicca and related faiths) happens.

[...]

Alright folks, I need some help here.

I'm looking this post over and I feel like I am just going on and on. I'm going to take another swing at this, but before I do, I would love some feedback.

Where do you think the strengths of this style of post are? What do you feel is missing? (Other than the other half of how to do this ritual.) I don't want to be boring you. I worry that this post's high level of verbage is taking away from the really purpose and goals of this post - to be informative and making knowledge accessible to pretty much anyone.

So, please, take a look at this draft. I've been trying to fix it because I have the distinct feeling something is wrong with it. I just can't place what it could be.

Please post your comments, suggestions, and recommendations in the comments below. Thank you so much for your time and your help. I want to make this the best little blog I can. I need a bit of help to do so.

Pagan Parenting: Shrines for Kids.

My eldest has taken a shine to Zeus. He's fascinated by him. He offers prayers up to him in his own unique way. On the whole, he is in the process of becoming a very affectionate devotee. As such, I wanted him to have his own special little bit of altar like space for his devotions. At the same time, I needed something his brother couldn't exactly destroy.

This is where I returned to the concept of jar shrines. Jar shrines are essentially a shrine inside a jar. There may be a permanent offering inside it, like the one I saw for Freyja that had rose buds inside it. Or offerings may go near the jar. In some cases, I have even seen them made so that the offerings could go on top of the jar. In the case of the one I made for my son, I made a peg doll based statuette of Zeus. I then set it on top of a bit of cork that I colored green (to look like Mt. Olympus) and then put white sand (for clouds) around it. This was in the lid of an old olives jar (that had been cleaned and waiting for a use, amusingly they were kalamata olives) and everything has been glued together with Gorilla Glue. Then, I ran a bit of Gorilla Glue around the edge of the jar before screwing them together.



The jar set up acts like a bell jar, keeping the icon safe. I'm going to be giving him this as a gift for the Equinox. I am also in the process of setting up something that he can use to help keep track of his prayers. A bit more friendly version of a kid's prayer journal that I started doing with them back a few months ago. (We didn't get very far with this prayer journal stuff because life happened and I was having a hard time keeping on top of my own stuff.)


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Commentary: Fasting from Media

It has been a difficult few weeks. I am not sure if the difficulty is because I have a cold that is throwing everything off or if I am just drained by the pure horror of what has been happening in the world. At one point, as I was in the process of reading everything I could about Filianism and Déanism, I encountered the idea of limiting how much media you consumed. Previously, this was an exercise that I did halfheartedly as part of my run through The Artist's Way (from Julia Cameron, ISBN 1585421464). At that time, it was an exercise to help recover my artistic voice by way of filtering out extraneous input.

As the news turned more dire over the last several months, I found it increasingly distressing. As Facebook posts did so as well, I became deeply worried about almost everything. As a person with anxiety problems, even medicated properly, this is not good for me. It has lead to my somewhat conspicuous absence from internet activity. One would think that placing such strict limits on my internet activity would be problematic. After all, it is my primary mode of interaction over the last year outside of my household and a few close friends. Instead, I found myself finding peace. Spending an hour at most online turned my days into spending two hours writing in my journal and more time building things with the kids. (They are very mechanically inclined, it seems, and love building things that have moving parts from random junk. It has been interesting.)

I finally saw the wisdom of that fast from media and careful monitoring of what I was reading. When you are living a life that has your resources limited, you must be careful where you employ them. It is a massive act of self care and healthy life to respect your limits. It is also an act of faith that all shall be well as you take care of yourself and leave the rest in the hands of the Divine.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Update.

Hi folks,

Did I mention that my kids went back to school last week? I thought it was going to mean things were going to calm down around here. That was silly of me. I completely forgot about things like the week full of appointments, paperwork for school stuff (my eldest is trying out school band, drums specifically, and there are forms to go with this), and the huge pile of housework that I need to catch up on.

As a result, the post that I started this time last week is about 85% finished (a ritual for the Full Corn/Barley moon that was last Wednesday) and the post that I started about two weeks ago is just out of research and outline. I should have a rough draft of that one finished Thursday. Editing will go quickly, I expect, and I will have something up Thursday evening, of the gods will it. I have a pile of notes and ideas that I have been slowly accumulating over the last little while. I am working my way through them to get together appropriate material for you all.

There is also going to be some rather small format changes coming up. Indeed, you may notice some of them as I make them over the next several days. I have been reading and studying how others engage in blogging. I may not have had the spoons to be writing much on here, but I have been making a point of learning how to improve this blog of mine.

Some of this is going to be involving more formal research and what not. I really feel that my previous posts did a poor job of presenting information and showing you my take on things. Thus, I have been doing things like if I was writing a paper for a college class. It is mildly alarming just how much stuff I was letting slip by. If you see some posts that link back to previous ones, there may be a good chance that I am presenting material that I completely failed to do before that was actually pretty important.

I thank you for your patience with me in all of this. And I am excited to share with you all of the new and lovely things I have been learning.

May the Autumn be blessed for you who live in the Northern Hemisphere and the Spring be doubly so for you who live in the Southern Hemisphere.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Thursday stuff.

Hi folks,

I'm not back to doing videos just yet. I'm still eyeballs deep in other things as well as handling school resuming. I figured it had been a little while since I posted stuff. I am considering making a little, very poorly drawn comic. Here's the first attempt. The figure with the red hair sticking up is Loki. The figure with the brown hair is myself.

It depicts a literal exchange between him and I. It actually happened a few hours ago. I was at the table doing stuff. I looked down and saw my sneaker was untied. I sat up and hit my head. At which point this happened. Because nothing says love like terrible puns.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Divination Notes: Rune Fehu.

Fehu is a powerful rune, like Ansuz. I skipped out of the alphabetic order I was planning to highlight
this rune that looks visually similar to Ansuz. It is commonly the first letter of the runic alphabets. It is among the runes associated with Freyr. It is the rune of mobile wealth, commonly considered to be cattle or sheep in antiquity. It is the glyph associated with the letter 'F' and is argued to be derived from the Etruscian letter that looks the same as Fehu but the branching lines are reversed along the vertical axis.

Interestingly, Fehu is associated with three rune poems that has an unexpected division in how they assess the rune. The Norwegian and Icelandic rune poems speak of wealth as a source of conflict between kin. The Anglo-Saxon rune poem speaks of wealth as a comfort to all people that should be shared equitably to attain favor with 'the Lord'. Some may argue that the Anglo-Saxon rune poem is speaking of the Christian deity and others argue that it is speaking of Freyr, whose name is translated as 'Lord'. In either case, it speaks of wealth as a boon rather than bane.

In divination, Fehu is generally considered a positive rune. It is one that, when direct, speaks of prosperity and matters of finances in generally favorable conditions. When reversed, however, it speaks of a loss of prosperity and financial challenges. It is separate from the related rune, Othala that speaks of inheritance. Fehu is often used as a shorthand notation regarding finances in spell craft by many modern practitioners.

There is not much evidence that I can find as to how Fehu may have been used in ancient rune magic. It is possible that it was used, but I am confident that it was not in the fashion that modern practitioners do.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Divination: Reading Tarot Example.

I realized in my process of presenting information about tarot reading, I didn't give any examples. So, here is an example of a three card spread that I did for myself.

I realized in my process of presenting information about tarot reading, I didn't give any examples. So, here is an example of a three card spread that I did for myself. This is a spread that is like my usual three card with the card at the extreme left as the past card, the center card as the present, and the card at the extreme right as the future. There is one small difference here, however, which is this spread is being used as a form of spirit communication with the deceased. As I shuffled the cards, I asked the spirit of Stargazer what she felt I needed to know right now.

This was her answer. (A side note, this is the same style of deck that she had and I had admired it greatly. After she passed on, I missed her greatly. Then Beloved was moved to buy this precise deck, unaware that this was the precise deck that Stargazer traded so many readings with me. It was an unexpected touchstone from two individuals that I love deeply.)

Deck: Deviant Moon Tarot by Patrick Valenza
The first card is the Magician. It isn't that clear in this picture, but he has multiple arms. This is something I haven't seen in any other deck. He is literally doing ALL THE THINGS. This is a card that speaks of not merely having ability but mastery and skill. In this reading, the card tells me that I have the abilities that I have been doubting in myself.

The second card is Judgment. It is usually a card indicating a matter of justice or something karmic. Here is the deal, though, with myself and this card. It always indicates something is going on that involves my true self. Here, I'm being reminded to trust in myself and who/what I am.

The third card is the World. This is a card of great success. It is a message that all things shall be well and I can achieve what I am trying to do. There's other layers to this meaning, but they're much more personal.

But, here's an example of a three card tarot reading for you. :)

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Godspousery Notes: Learning all the time.

Hello friends,

It has been a little while since I posted something on this topic. Given things that are happening right now, I think this is more than just a bit timely. I could post about the rambling conversations I've had recently with Loki. They all revolve around the same topics, though. So, the conversations are more like one had over the course of several weeks. He was very strongly pushing me to make sure that I got the help I needed and to make sure that I took all of my medications - along with keeping me on task doing what is healthy for me.

Not everyone who has a relationship similar to mine with Loki have him there reminding them to engage in self-care and making a point of explaining what exactly the problem is. Honestly, it looks like something that is a bit uncommon in godspousery across the board. But, I am not going to complain. I am actually really thankful for it because it is an added level of support that I needed (and will need when the next bad depressive episode comes along.

As I am trying to pick up the pieces from that depressive episode, he is regularly reminding me to pace myself and pay close attention to what is going on with my mood. Little things like my sleep being a bit off and my having a touch of insomnia are things I need to pay attention to because they can be precursors to depression or hypomania (though I'm not sure if hypomania is the right word for it). Loki makes a point of giving me some firm pushes in the directions that would make me healthier when I find myself faltering because of old mental blocks.

As a result of these nudges and conversations, I find myself learning more about myself all the time. It is a strange experience, but all seems to be fore the best, so I do my best not to worry about if I am doing things the Right Way ™. I mention my concerns and he usually points out the one detail that I'm missing that makes the stuff that I was worked up into a ball of anxiety over suddenly seem much smaller and less terrifying. And, honestly, I think that is a big thing in any kind of relationship.

When the partners in the relationship can be honest with each other and say the things that must be said, it helps make the relationship healthy and can benefit everyone in it. It works for corporeal ones too.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Slow going, but progress.

Gentle Reader,

I am fairly sure that my improved mood today is due to a combination of factors, not the least of which is the good wishes, kind thoughts, and prayers from yourself and the wonders of modern medicine. This combination is clearly an indication of the blessings that are in the world when everything seems to be falling apart, there is still reason for hope.

You may have noticed, last week I got the Southern Hemisphere edition of A Year with Dea to press. Copies are available through all major websites. However, if you go through my links on the Books and Goods page, you will get a 10% discount. This is a printing with moderately large text. I am in the process of determining what exactly a 'pocket' edition would require. It is an idle thought, but one that might be helpful to someone at some point down the road.

I have hit the editing stage with my other major project right now, Drowning in Light. I am working to make this as concise and clear as possible. One may see some influence from some of the writings of Christian mystics in how the text is organized. I found that the way Dame Julian of Norwich's writings were organized and the way the works of Hildegarde von Bingen were structured made a lot of sense. So, I applied it to my piles of notes. I am fairly sure that there is additional notes somewhere in a box that didn't get unpacked when we moved into this apartment eight years ago. And I will probably find them sometime next year when I am looking for something entirely different, because that's always how it works. If I do find more material, a new revision will come out with that material added.

I am in the organizing my notes stage on workbooks. I didn't realize the sheer volume of notes and pre-writing I had done on these topics. If things are a little delayed in getting through the actual process of writing workbooks, it is because I have a stack of paper that fills one of those three inch wide binders, with a small pile of notebooks along side. I feel like I'm slowly going to be consumed by papers and they will accept me as one of their people and never let me return to humanity. (And the kids are not in school right now, so autumn will have even more paper!)

My magical work has been limited right now. This is something that I am working on resolving. The first stages of this process, honestly, is getting things like my health under control. It is a whole heap of baby steps right now. (Like cutting my carbohydrate intake by about half and replacing it with lots of vegetables. It's a good thing I like salads!) My biggest challenge in both the magical working front and improving my health has been my depression. I am optimistic that there are going to be big, positive changes over the next few months. The fact that I have that optimism is a big change.

So, my dear Reader, thank you for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers. I am working my way back to health and producing more work for you. Thank you so much for your patience.

Warmest regards!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Book Update: Available NOW!

Hi there dear Reader,

After a bit of exasperation and some challenges, the Southern Hemisphere edition of A Year With Dea: A Filianic Daybook is available for purchase. While I am confident that I have ironed out all of the issues, there may be a revision coming on this in a few months. (My anxiety tells me that I missed something huge and very important. Though I have rechecked my work several times. So, I'm going to go back through it in a few months, just to make sure that everything is entirely as it should be.)

The Northern Hemisphere edition will be re-released in a few weeks after I get everything set for the cover art. The plan is to have both books with similar cover art. Presently, I am narrowing down the right picture. Obviously, I am continuing with the theme of roses and celestial backgrounds.

I am also coming down to the finish line on the book that I referenced in both texts: Drowning in Light. If everything goes according to schedule, I may actually finish it by the end of July. My being unwell has delayed pretty much everything I've been working on, including finishing edits and formatting for publication.

Thank you for your patience with me in this process. I will be updating pages and including pictures of cover at as soon as I figure out how to make that work. (My computer has been a bit challenging. I have my expert helping me out, also known as my exceptionally supportive and patient husband. In the process, he has been teaching me how to work this stuff out myself. So, it can definitely be described as a learning process.)

Thank you again.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Godspousery Notes: I am doing what?

It has been a very long weekend for me. Partly because of the fact that there was a wedding that Beloved and I attended Saturday, and the whole day was a comedy of errors. Example: I left my eye glasses in the apartment, so he went in to get them before we left. Then he realizes he left his phone in the apartment. When he comes back out, we realized that my eye glasses were still inside, safely behind the locked front door. It was a bunch of silliness like that for the whole day.

[...]

It is now Monday evening. I am still trying to gather up the spoons to do things. I just haven't been well. I struggle with a massive sense of guilt for this. Loki rather pointedly reminds me "Needs trump opinions." It may sound like a really simple statement that anyone would agree with. I, however, need the reminder as much as my pride says I don't. I tend to default to a low opinion on myself and what I am worth. (It pretty much goes hand-in-hand with my disability and such.) So, when I have a day like today where I was exhausted most of the day and I can't stand to look at myself even obliquely in the mirror, I need the proverbial kick in the pants to pay more attention to the fact that as badly as I may feel about doing things like taking a nap or the daily anxiety medication when there is nothing in particular in that moment requiring the medication, I need these things and that is what matters.

Nothing is quite so unpleasant as when you are called out on neglecting yourself. Especially when you were convinced that you were doing just fine and not doing that. It is even more unpleasant when the reflexive guilt kicks in and then you get picked up by the scruff of the neck and told to knock it off, when you don't realize what you're doing until a few horrified moments later. At which point the guilt thing threatens to start up again and you get a proverbial shake with a second warning.

I could say that everything is fine. Beloved is employed and doing well at work. The boys are almost done with school and everything seems to be going just fine there. Heck, this is the first time in a while that I can say with confidence that I managed not to overspend money when I was doing my necessary shopping. But, I feel awful and I feel awful about feeling awful. It's a recursive state of misery that I hope will be resolved as I work with my new therapist and my psychiatrist.

Loki made a point of nudging me into the path of the new therapist. So, there is no question about what he thinks is going to help me out. I'm sure he's going to point out some other stuff as well. I did, after all, ask for some help and guidance. I am struggling right now. Please forgive me if I am not as cheerful as usual.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Divination Notes: Runes - Ansuz

The runes are a challenging divination practice. They are one one hand fairly easy to pick up and the base meanings associated with them are simple, single words. At the same time, however, there is a subtle quality to them that makes the runes highly subjective. They are the foundation of the English alphabet (combined with the Latin alphabet) and most of the runes are still in use somewhere in the world, even if it is in some later generation rendering of the glyph.

While many people think of the runes as a shorthand for magical practice, they are actually a full alphabet and it is better to understand them as an alphabet, with the shorthand being treated as acronyms, much like how the individual letters of NASA are associated with separate words (and separate, discrete1 concepts). Many people start their study of the runes with the rune Fehu. I am beginning with the rune Ansuz. This choice is because it corresponds with the letter 'A' of the modern English alphabet and will be easier to remember if we follow the alphabetical order we are familiar with in studying this ancient system of letters.

Ansuz is written in a few different ways, depending upon which runic system you are looking at. The glyph is considered by many to be derived from the neo-Etruscian character that later became 'A' in the Roman alphabet, which is in turn believed to be derived from the Phonecian aleph. There is some debate as to the meaning of this rune. Different rune poems and different cultural perspectives gave rise to a series of different ways to interpret this rune, even though is most cases it was for the same letter in the alphabets of these peoples. The Norwegian rune poems indicate that Ansuz means estuary. The Anglo-Saxon rune poems indicate that it means either mouth, oak, or ash (presumably the tree) depending upon which particular variation of the Ansuz rune is used. Interestingly, in one of the Icelandic rune poems, Ansuz indicates one of the Aesir, more specifically Oðin.

Various 'experts' on runic divination have indicated that Ansuz can be a rune interpreted as signals from the gods, communication, or as an indication of the presence of the gods. In my personal experience, Ansuz can indicate communication on its own. When it comes up in a reading with Gebo, it suggests positive or beneficial communication for the querant. If it comes up with Haglaz, it suggests muddled communication at best, at worst arguments. If Ansuz shows up in a reading with the rune Isa, it is showing failed communication or a lack of communication.

I use the term 'experts' rather loosely here because the number of people who speak and use the ancient dialect is exceptionally small. And that number does not include anyone who learned it directly, as all is a careful reconstruction done with their best guesses. Thus, I have taken the liberty of going with what I can establish based on prevailing theories. My interpretations present above, however, are based upon my experience reading them for the better part of two decades. As the popular saying goes, your mileage may vary.

~*~*~*~*
1. My use of the word 'discrete' here is in the sense of individual defined units, similar to how it is used in mathematics.

Book Update.

Hi Folks!

I'm presently working on getting the Southern Hemisphere version of A Year with Dea through the publication process. It has been something of a frustration as I make small adjustments and then the system on the website I am working through skews those adjustments and messes the whole thing up. I'm pretty sure the solution is something really simple that I just keep failing to spot. It has made my day a bit of a headache, to be honest.

The manuscript for Drowning in Light is almost complete. I expect to get the first round of serious edits done next week. After that, if everything goes according to plan, I can get the next set of edits down around mid-July. I am a little behind schedule with these books right now and I'd like to apologize for that. I have been having some technical difficulties this time with the sites that I work with to self-publish. I have finally managed to get all of the paper background work for this done, though. (Sifting through over two decades of notes is exhausting but worth it.)

As it stands right now, I am hoping to have something for you all in the immediate future. This, however, depends on my ability to get this confounded manuscript through the publication process. I'll be drawing on the technical expertise of Beloved to see just where I'm making my mistakes. I figure he's a programmer and may spot the one thing that I am not picking up on. He's good at doing that sort of thing.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Godspousery Notes: Everything Goes Sideways.

It has been a little while since I updated on this topic. Part of the reason is because I wasn't quite sure what to say and part of the reason is because life has been hectic. I was sitting here wondering why everything was in such turmoil of late. And then Loki cleared it up. At which point I felt completely foolish.

We have an agreement, him and I. There is a small list of things that I have to do, which is aimed towards improving my health and my relationships with people close to me. I had been failing to make the effort towards these things. After a week of not doing these things, my luck started to go off kilter. And the chaos field around me, for lack of a better word, activated. I wasn't putting the cause together with the effects, and getting frustrated with it all.

Loki sat me down Saturday evening and had a conversation with me. He pointed out where my failings were and where I was actually struggling. He noted that my struggles counted towards doing what I agreed to because I was making the effort. The others, I had basically given up when it got hard As a result, I started having problems that were not so bad as to actually be injurious to anyone but significant enough to catch my attention.

I was oblivious as to just how out of synch things had gotten until my slow cooker decided to try to light itself on fire. And then, later in the day, chaos happened around me when I was out grocery shopping. Things like wheels falling off of shopping carts as I passed by, items falling off of pallet jacks and landing at my feet each time I walked by one, or the biggest thing, every single cash register that was open crashing all at the same time when I walked up to check out. Synchronicity was really hard to brush off at that point.

So, after that conversation between Loki and I, I apologized for my failure to hold up my end of the agreement. I was firmly told not to apologize, just fix my behavior. I said I would. A little bit later, after the conversation had been done for a little while, I started to habitually do something that was not very good for me. Cue Loki's reminder.

A bat just appeared in the apartment. I have no idea how the little thing got in here. But I spent about an hour freaking out and trying to get it out. It kept swooping me. When I initially realized it was there, it tried to land on me. (No biting or scratches.) I managed to herd it out into the entryway and I shut the front door of the apartment, thinking the matter resolved. Go use the bathroom, come back into the kitchen to find, lo and behold, the bat had crawled UNDER my shut door. It flew around in circles for a bit. I had a minor panic attack. Then managed to get it out the backdoor.

Sometimes Loki's reminders are subtle. Other times, it is literally a bat flying at your head.

Recommendations: Alcohol for Summer rituals.

A pretty large number of modern pagan rituals include some manner of feasting. And an equally large number of them speak of having alcohol as both an offering and for imbibing. There is a plethora of options for including alcohol. The choices could theoretically become less diverse as you focused upon individual spiritual paths, but with the sheer amount of variety within those paths, it doesn't really change.

That said, there are some really nice things you can have as part of your libations that are also super tasty and within an inexpensive budget. That said, I would like to note that my experience with alcohol is a bit limited because I don't drink recreationally. So, if you have suggestions, please post them in the comments. Share what you think is tasty and delightful.

Wine
There is a really wide range of wines on the market. For my part, I have a couple of guilty pleasures that I must confess. I love Arbor Mist, pretty much anything from their product line is fantastic. The Blackberry Merlot is perfect for a summer ritual, in my opinion. I also really enjoy Riunite's Lambrusco. They're both inexpensive but they also both taste delicious.

Spirits
The list of alcoholic spirits that can be given as offerings or had as part of a celebration is easily as long as my arm. I am a little particular about my choices. I enjoy whiskey. If you're looking for a fairly inexpensive whiskey that tastes nice, I like Crown Royale. Their apple flavor is a big hit around my place. Fireball whiskey is a thing between Loki and I. It is possible, however, to infuse flavor into a bottle of whiskey. If you are infusing cinnamon, don't let it sit too long and put your cinnamon stick into a cheesecloth bag to catch the wee bits that will come off as it soaks into the alcohol.

Beer
There are countless different kinds of beer you can have. Some are flavored, some are not. If you are looking for an IPA that is not too hoppy, look into something from Southerntier Brewing company (if you are in Western NY). They actually have a range of IPA beers, so if you want something with a lot of hops, they've got one for you too. Of the flavored beers out there, I think that the best is the Peche Lambic from Lindemans. I find it at Wegmans in the beer aisle. It is delicious warm or cold, but chilled really is best.

Mead
Now, I put mead into its own category because it straddles the line between wine and beer. Honeyrun Mead's Ragnar's Dry Mead is pretty nice. Pair it with some fresh bread and cheese, and you are going to have a wonderful time. Chaucer's Cellars' Chaucer's Mead is also very good. It is a bit sweeter than Ragnar's Dry Mead, but it is like drinking pure sunshine.

But, there's some ideas for you as you get ready for your Midsummer celebrations.



(Sorry this is a few days late, thinks have been super busy here.)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Video Message: What is Mindfulness?



Hi there, everybody!

In this week's video, I discuss mindfulness. It is a term that is thrown around quite a bit by people who practice meditation (among other things). It is a practice and a skill that actually does more than make your meditation session better.

Mindfulness is focused attention on what you are doing as you are doing it. Thus, if you are paying close attention to your meditation session and staying aware of what thoughts go through your mind, how you are feeling, and what you are doing; you are being mindful in your meditation practice. The same skill of paying attention to what you are doing and how you are doing it can make for being better at washing your dishes in the same way it makes you better at meditating.

Additionally, the awesome thing about mindfulness is that the more you use it, the easier it gets to use it in other areas. So, your practicing mindfulness when you meditate may lead to you being more mindful when you wash those dishes and more mindful when you are driving your vehicle - thus making you a safe driver.

It is a little hard in the beginning, but once you figure it out, it is really easy to apply in other areas. And, in my opinion, makes your life much easier.

I hope everyone has a great day!



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I forget what was playing on the radio. I think it was something from Karl Jenkins. I'm not wearing a scarf today, but, you might be able to see that I dyed my hair. It is my current 'stealth' covering, which makes things easier on a few different levels right now. I'll talk a bit more about that on Saturday.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Prayer with Intent.

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I previously discussed the intersection of prayer and our deeds. Looking back over my notes on that entry, I realized, I didn't do a very good job of explaining the role intention played in prayer, hence this evening's post.

Now, many people come to prayer and think of it as a time to as the Divine for things, to praise the Divine, or possibly confess their shortcomings. These modes of prayer are indeed all forms of prayer but they all come to the session with different forms of intention. In prayer, intent plays a much larger role than your words.[1]

When one sits down to pray, the come to the session with an objective in mind. That objective is the intention behind their prayer session. Perhaps the most common intention behind prayer is asking the Divine for help realizing things and making changes to situations. Sometimes the prayers come out when we don't consciously intend them to, but that deeper intention behind the sudden prayers is what moves it forward. (Anyone who has been stuck in a highway that resembled a parking lot more than a roadway has at least once or twice asked the Divine to move traffic along so we can get to where we're going. It may not be a conscious or a formalized prayer, but "Gods, please, just move will you?" is just as much of a prayer for Divine assistance as a long, stylized prayer intoned in the fashion of the ancestors. I suspect that it is also a lot more like what the ancestors prayed too.)

The act of prayer when it is done with thoughtlessness is something of a mixed bag of results. If the prayer being said is just something done off the cuff out of some sense of 'oh, I must do this and then dust the television.' is not going to have quite the same punch as one that is said with focused intent on the act of praying and what is the goal for the prayer session. This is because there is less mental focus behind it and less intention. When that unfocused prayer is given, it is much like a roulette wheel of results, left entirely up to the whim of the Divine.

Sometimes, however, a prayer said habitually has a strong effect. This is because the prayer moves from being a focused single unit of intention to being a vehicle for a larger focus of intention. An excellent example of this is the Rosary. The individual prayers are ones that can be said habitually with not a great deal of mental or emotional effort behind the respective prayers. Collected together, they become a tool where by one focuses their intent, their mental and emotional effort towards the larger goal of that prayer session. Thus, the individual prayers become like building blocks for the larger focus. It is the ritual of the collection of prayers said in that fashion that moves the magical/spiritual energy towards the Divine.

Prayer can be a very powerful thing. All that limits you is yourself and how much effort you put behind it. Also, remember, that the Divine is highly inclined to help those who help themselves and do some leg work to help manifest the prayer's results.

Herbalism, Tools, & Treasures: Wands (Pt. 3)

In my previous two posts, I discussed the general history of wands and gave some examples of what you could use as a wand. It is, however, not something that you need to go out and purchase. It can be as simple as picking up a twig or something that strikes you as a good sized pointing tool.

To the right, you will see that I am holding a twig and a feather. These are two items that can be used to fashion a simple wand. There is no standard as to what length your wand should be or what is the best items to use when creating your own. In some witchcraft traditions[1], it is said that your wand should be the length of your forearm from elbow to finger tips. This somehow got turned into the average length of a commercial wand you can buy ready made is around 1 ft in length, with or without adornments. I, personally, choose something that feels comfortable in the hand and not long enough to be likely to poke my own eye out, usually. (I am clumsy, so safety considerations must be made. LOL)

I usually pick up wood that has been seasoned by laying out in the weather for at least a year. I do this for two reasons. First, wood that has been thus exposed to the elements has less bark attached to it and is usually fairly smooth to the touch. Since I live near a lake, I prefer to get twigs and such that are driftwood (though this lake is small enough, I honestly don't know if it technically qualifies as driftwood). The second reason why I use seasoned wood that I find laying about is because it is stronger than green (fresh cut) wood and is pretty much done drying out, so it won't change or warp on me over time, or at least be less likely to do so.

Often, I just will use the wand plain and then add it to a compost pile. I have, however, made a few that were kept as long term items. The ones that are intended for long term use will have adornments put on them. The one that I shared in my last post (with the pink string binding things together) is relatively typical. I tend towards a minimalist design. I may choose to inscribe glyphs or other symbols on them. The inscription is usually done with something like permanent ink (I love my Sharpies!). Sometimes, I may carve them into the wood with a pocket knife and then fill in the carvings with appropriately colored pen.

When inscribing things, I will choose the inscription to be focused on where it is most useful. Sometimes, I put it at the head of the wand (which is the end that I would point at where I am directing my magic). Sometimes, I put it at the butt of the wand, which serves to help draw in the specific magical energies I am using it to control. And, then there is the inscriptions that I place where I hold the wand, which act to focus my personal energy transfer from myself into the wand and then into the spell.

Some people choose to use metal or wire in their wand creation on the basis that metal is a good conductor of  electricity and is considered reasonably to be a good conductor of magical energy. Crystals are often added to include a measure of geomancy into the spell work, using the magical attributes ascribed to the stones in the spell crafting. Feathers are added because they are associated with the element of Air and spirits. Or because the person that the wand is being made for has a strong tie or alliance with a particular bird. (My quartz tipped wand that I made has a blue jay feather on it because I have a deep affection for the raucous birds and they represent, to me, spontaneous happiness. I also have something of an alliance with corvids, which blue jays are part of that family.)

Wands can also be made to look attractive just because the person owning it would like a charming and delightful (or spooky and 'otherworldly') looking tool. Honestly, I think that there are two things that must be considered with respect to wands. If you are purchasing them, consider how well they feel in your hand and if it is comfortable. Also, consider how well made they are and if they will last as long as you intend to use them. Ask yourself if this is a tool that you will be comfortable using and will it be durable enough for what you intend to do with it? If the answer to both questions is yes and you can afford it, I would probably buy it.

If you are making one, the same questions must be answered. Here, however, you also have the option of customizing the tool as many ways as you can think of. I have seen wands made with furred spots for holding, elaborate wirework that essentially formed a cage around a highly polished wooden core, and a surprising amount of jewels/gemstones affixed to it. I have also seen them made with actual bits of bone and vials to hold dried herbs (and other things). The only limits to how you customize your wand is what you are comfortable with.

The storage of wands has a little less 'controversy' surrounding them than the storage of tarot decks. And by a little, I mean to say that I think the pages of flame-wars surrounding this topic is a score or so less than the other. My position is focused upon pragmatics. Thus, when I store my wands, I do so in a manner that is more focused upon preserving their physical condition than some nebulous magical state. I place them on a high shelf not because of 'not wanting lower vibrational energy' but because I have children who will use just about anything as a drumstick. I lay them down flat so that they don't warp over time due to humidity changes in the weather (which is why it is important to store things like violin bows laying flat as well, and spindles). I have a soft cloth that I cover them with to keep them clean and free from dust.

I know some people who keep them in a special box that has magical wards inscribed on it to keep out unwanted magical energy. I know others who keep them in a drawer in their desk alongside their other stuff, because they don't have anywhere fancy to put them. And I know a few folks who keep them in a vase. So, your storage options are varied. Possibly almost as varied as your options for how to make your wands. One thing that I do try to strongly encourage people to do with their wands is to make a point of handling them on a regular basis.

This does two things. First, it serves to help you make sure they are still in good condition and not in need of repairs. Second, it helps keep it 'attuned' to you. That is, it helps it remain an effective magical tool because the association between the wand and magic remains strong. As well as it regularly imparts your spiritual energy into the tool, which will build up over time to a very strong association. (People who engage in psychometry are picking up on this sort of thing when they handle stuff.)

Next week, I will share with you some of the more ... interesting things I have known people to have used as wands. (This list will be equal parts ingenious, hilarity, and cringe, I assure you.)

Monday, June 5, 2017

Divination Notes - How to keep them?

Gentle Reader,
Image from Pexels.com

I realized that I had quite forgotten to put up the second half of the discussion on keeping divination notes. As such, I would like to apologize for this oversight and present it at this time. Just as I may have said elsewhere, the method of organization I use may not work well for you. And that is just fine, because my goal here is to provide encouragement and information.

At one point, when I started keeping notes about divination, I just wrote everything down in a jumbled mess. It made it difficult to go back and review my notes. I was a college taking Chemistry 101 and I realized something. The same methods that I used to organize my lab notes, I could apply to my divination notes (as well as a lot of other things). So, I started to formalize my divination notes.

On the first line of the page, I write down the date of the divination session, who I am reading for, and the method I used. On the second line, I note what tool I used and any details specific to how I used it (i.e. which of my tarot decks did I use and what tarot spread). In the beginning, I wrote down a diagram with numbers for the placement of the spread. Since then, I just write down what spread I'm using and then number each card for its position. If you have gotten a tarot reading from me in the past, you may have noticed the notation system. I number the position and then write down the card name before noting my impressions off of the card.

I do this also for runes when I am using a spread for them. If I am just casting them randomly, I write them down in order that I am drawn to them with out any numbering. Because numbering means that they are at a specific position in a specific spread. When I am writing notes on runes, I write the runic glyph instead of the English name of the rune. I find it easier, but some people find it easier to write down the name of the rune. Runes are a little harder to interpret than tarot and most oracle decks. Where my initial impressions off of a tarot card may get three lines each, the runes get four to five lines per rune.

After I put down my initial impressions upon my first glance through the spread, I will then put together a more cohesive read of what the entire spread has to say. This is usually around 3 paragraphs. Sometimes it is more and sometimes it is less. I label this section as the summary portion. Following the summary, I do a quick 3 card reading to confirm what the general message from the spread is. When I am using runes, I do a 3 rune reading. If I am using a different divination tool, like my crystal ball (I have 3. One is snowflake obsidion, one is flourite, and one is rose quarts. I use the flourite for divination. The other two are pretties in my collection.), I may pull three cards from what ever tarot deck is in reach. Usually, however, I just let the reading stand as per what the summary presents.

My main tool for divination is the tarot. It is the method I am most comfortable with. I can use other methods, and I do on a somewhat regular basis, but if I am going to be doing a serious divination session where I take notes, I am usually using tarot. When I am doing a divination session involving myself or something I am involved in, I add one more element to my notes. A page for recording how the matter resolved itself and what, if any, relation it has to the reading I did. This may sound a little silly to some people, but I like to keep track of how often my divination sessions get it right. I want to be able to point at my divination sessions and use them as a tool for future planning, which requires them to be somewhat reliable.

I also use this information to determine what techniques I am doing well and where I need to improve my skills. So, I tend to keep fairly detailed notes. If you don't want to do so, that's fine. Some one I knew once wrote down a single line summary of their readings. They were comfortable with it and that single line was focused upon what they felt was the most important elements of the information they pulled out of their divination session. All the divination notes are for is to act as a reminder of what you learned from your session and to keep track of what works best for you.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Pagan Parenting: Ethics (Pt. 1)

Image from Pexels.com
So, my wee heathens have hit the age that they are fascinated by weapons. My eldest has been learning about the Revolutionary War and the Civil War in school. My youngest has decided that Transformers are the greatest thing since sliced bread. And they have been toodling around the yard pretending that sticks are guns, cannons, and lasers ala Star Wars. And let us not forget the swords and lightsabers.

In typical kid logic, the boys have decided that one side is good and the other is evil. And that the good always wins. As well as the evil is ALWAYS wrong and bad. They have been talking about how they are going to fight in a war for our 'independence' and make all the bad guys stop by killing them. (My eldest somehow came up with the idea that striking bad guys aka criminals aka the enemy aka the British with a shovel would kill them, but only for a little while so he has to do it more than once to make sure they are really dead.) Now, where it would be easy to let them have this image in their heads about how the world works, neither Beloved or myself can do so. Because war is not a game. Weapons are not toys. And death is something permanent and you can't bring someone back from the dead.

As such, we have been very aggressive about explaining how they should and should not use their toy weapons. We also explained why. Given that we live across the street from the local gun club, the boys have an idea that guns are not very safe (but REALLY COOL). We have gone over things like what to do if they happen to find one (which is pretty unlikely because neither of us own a fire arm) and how to safely handle them. We've gone over the safe way to handle blades as well, because even a kitchen knife could be a weapon. Some of our concerns about gun and weapon safety are based in the fact that too many children have died as a result of confusion on that basis. (I mourned Tamir Rice and all of the other children who were killed for playing with realistic toys. I still have my heart break over the thought and the injustice of it all.) Some of our concerns are based in the question of when is it right to use violence (or by logical extension a weapon)?

We have insisted that violence should be the last resort. And that it should not be initiated lightly. The lessons that my father and grandfather taught me when I was a kid have been repeated several times here. "He who makes the first fist loses." and "Never start a fight but always finish one." They have a bit more explanation with it. We make a point of being sure that the boys understand they can defend themselves or someone who needs it, but they can not be the one starting a fight.

Because violence as a tool to coerce someone or force others to do as you want is something we can't approve in a blanket sense with any good conscience.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Herbalism, Treasures, & Tools: Wands (Part 2)

In my last post for this feature, I talked a little bit about the history of wands in a general sense. Wands are used in so many different forms both magical and non-magical through out all the cultures of the worlds, it really is too broad of a topic for me to cover quickly here. Thus, I would like to note that my information here is based in a combination of personal experience and my religious education in Western magical systems (predominantly of a U.S. version of Wicca).

A quick look at the picture I just posted here, there is an assortment of items that include a few things that don't seem to belong. The first three from the left are more typical examples of wands. The first (with the bright, bright pink thread tied about the head of it and a feather hanging off) is one that I made myself. The crystal that tops it is quartz that is wrapped in wire. It was intended as a focal piece for a necklace but when I got it at the store I knew it was perfect for a new wand. The bead hanging off is a bit of moonstone from a set of meditation beads I had to restring and (despite the fact I had the full number on the cord) it was left over. The feather is one of the wing feathers of a female blue jay.

The second from the left is a stunning example of polymer clay and related materials being turned into a magical tool. The crystal at the head is also quartz. It is literally the heaviest of all the wands I own. It is a little fragile, but it directs energy nicely, so I just baby it. It was given as a gift to me from A. (which I treasure and just can't stop looking at how pretty it is). Third from the left is a polished wand of apple wood that was given as a gift from E. It is just a little heavier than the first wand pictured, but it sits nicely in the hand and has a nice warm feel to it.

Fourth from the left is a pencil. Depending on the day, it could possibly be a pen. It lacks the adornments of the first two wand examples, but it does an excellent job in their place. Beside it is the final 'wand' I use, which is a wooden spoon. This comes out of my practices as a 'kitchen witch'. The writing implement as a magical tool sounds about as silly as a spoon for most 'serious' practitioners but they meet the criteria for what is a wand.

Now, one may ask, what to all of these varied items have in common to make them good wands? The answer is actually very simple. They act as an extension of the arm and hand. Thus, they can conduct spiritual/magical energy into a specific direction or towards a specific goal. The wands with the crystals at the end are generally understood to do a better job of focusing the caster's energy. The pointed tip on the apple wand serves the same purpose (as does the pointed tip on a pencil or pen). The wooden spoon has a bit 'wider' of a range in some exercises than others because it not only transmits this subtle energy but can also act to directly impart that energy into that which it touches more readily than the others.

Copper is a popular metal used in wand making because it is an excellent conductor of electricity, and is considered to logically be equally good for conducting spiritual/magical energy. Wood is often chosen on the basis of its popular/mythic associations. Apple, for example, is connected with domestic harmony, love, and the fairy realms. Poplar (the wood that the other one is made of) is associated with martial strength, lightning, and transitions. Pine (the wood that the pencil is made from) is associated with peace, communication, and wisdom.1

The most basic wand is a tool that represents the authority of the spell caster. It is also a tool by which the spell caster enforces their will upon the universe. As such, this is why they are considered to be a magical 'weapon.' If you look into the ancient myths, you will find that there are characters who carry wands and do use them as weapons. Perhaps the most poignant is that image of Skirnir threatening Gerda in the tale of the courtship of Freyr and Gerda, pitting magic against the giantess's will with a very decisive use of his wand.

Now, there are some who would argue that the wand is a more ... polite version of waving a penis around. It is an argument that I can't really turn aside. The argument is equally valid for the aspergilium used by the Catholic church in their rituals of worship. If you look at all magical tools derived from body parts that have been turned into fetishes of some sort, the logical answer that the penis is the origin of the aspergilium is impossible to deny. The wand as a derivative of the aspergilium is another origin argument that is not too hard to accept because much of ritual equipment in the more modern occult society consists of a re-envisioned perspective upon the ritual tools and regalia of formal worship.

Next installment, I will be taking a look at how to create your own wand and how to maintain and use it.
 
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1. These associations are based on general common associations made in the pagan community that I live in. With a little research, you can find the different associations of trees with concepts quite easily. A good place to start is in the ancient Celtic cultures, where trees were openly revered. There is some historical documentation about this reverence (some contemporary such as the writings of Tacitus and some modern findings).

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Devotion when not feeling well.

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When you want to engage in daily devotional activity and everything is going well, it can be deceptively easy to do. Doing so when you are not well, overly stressed out, or stuck with such a busy schedule that you need to literally schedule when you take care of your daily activities of living (i.e.: sleeping, eating, showering, etc.), can be very difficult. Throw in something of a struggle because you want to do the very best (or at least do it as well as you do when everything is going smoothly) and you have a recipe for heartbreak.

It is important to remember that the Divine does not need our devotional activities. The Divine is vast, wonderful, and mysterious. The Divine is far larger than we can comprehend and our devotional acts, while pleasing and a source of comfort for us, are not what makes the Divine able to effect the world. It is something entirely separate from us and can continue (and will continue) to influence the world long after we have shuffled off this mortal coil. One would ask with a sense of nihilist morbidity, "What is the point to devotion then?"

The answer is simple. Devotion is an act of reaching out to the Divine and maintaining a relationship with them. The Divine is always there, reaching out to us. We simply need to return the gesture, which is what devotional activity is for. There is this idea that a person with a rich devotional life is constantly engaged in mystic prayer and somehow above the things that make our lives 'mundane' and what makes us human. This idea is false. It is possible to have a rich devotional life even when you feel too awful to engage in those comforting rituals.

Some days, when I am feeling truly horrid, I simply can't muster up the energy to do much more than the bare minimum required to be a parent and keep my home tidy (and there are days where I struggle with even that). Enter into the situation the feeling that I should be keeping my daily prayers going and doing all the little things I do to honor the gods, and I come away feeling pretty miserable.

But, there is one thing I can and always do. That is to simply tell the gods that I am struggling and that I care. Sometimes, just that simple admission of why I am having a hard time can help relieve the pressure I feel to do something for them. Other days, I still feel anxious and upset. Those days, I will sometimes spend time just communing with the gods by way of telling them my troubles and fears. Because they don't want you just when everything is going well. They want you as you are, troubles, fears, and insecurities and all.

So, you may not have it in you to light the candle and put out that offering. Looking at your shrine may make you feel even more exhausted because it is a bit dusty and in need of a bit of tender care. This does not mean you are failing. It just means that you are struggling. And when you say to the Divine 'Hey, I'm trying. I'm just really struggling here.' that can be more precious than a thousand fancy baubles offered up in some prestigious ritual done in absolute accuracy with ancient directions. Because you are opening your heart to them and showing your vulnerable side. And that is hard to do. Especially with the Divine because you can never say for certain just how that is going to work out.

But that sort of emotional rawness is precious. Don't give up when you're not feeling well. Just lower that bar you need to hurdle and give what you can.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Self-Publishing Frustrations.

Today has been a day of editing. It has not been the editing of the sort that is for content. I finished that sometime Tuesday. No, today I have been fighting to get my margins and page numbers just right for the printer. Each time I make changes and upload them, everything gets reset back to what it was before.

I am mildly irate over it all. I believe I have spent the last five hours (minus what was needed to mind the kids when the got off the bus and handle dinner) trying to get this fussy business to work properly. I am fairly sure that I am missing one crucial, small detail. I just can't place what I keep getting wrong here. I am sufficiently exasperated that I am just going to stop fighting with it for the day. I mean, five hours on minutia is pure torment when all of your work keeps getting reset back to what was initially wrong.

I may be giving customer service an ear full tomorrow. Or I may figure out the magic way to make this vexing thing work properly. I wanted to get this text out by Friday but it looks like it is happening next week. Unless a minor miracle happens and I can somehow make this work properly before noon tomorrow. (Granted, I will be powered by copious amounts of coffee, I am also going to be having the disadvantage of still adjusting to medication that makes me very sleepy. And handling a sick child. My eldest came down with what my youngest had last week, I figure this means I'm next and Beloved will have the sniffles at best.)

When I get to the point that I can get the book to cover creation, I will be posting a snapshot of what the cover is going to look like. I am going to continue on my roses theme, as was seen in the previous edition and in my other Filianic oriented book. Until then, I hope that you all find things are less vexing than I have been, and that your days are blessed with good fortune.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

An apology & update.

Dear Readers,

I would like to apologize for my absence. I've been struggling with a number of things. Part of the challenges that I have been dealing with pertain to the work of running a household. It has been difficult work. I think, however, I am getting to the point where things may be ready for the end of the school year. I am in the process of lining up things for the boys to do when they are on break from school as well as shuffling my schedule to accommodate their days off. We're starting some new things that they have been doing at school. This includes a visual schedule for the day up on the wall. So, I suppose you could say that I have one more planner to work on.

I have also been working on my spring gardening. The boys have been helping out. So work is going a little slower than it would have otherwise. I am not yet at the point of planting things for food purposes yet. That is because I need to clean out and fix up my containers on the back deck and out front. I am hoping, however, that I can get some of the miniature varieties of plants that we like (such as carrots) growing in pots. I will be discussing things with my MIL as to what is going into the raised bed over at their place. You would not believe how excited the boys are. The thing they *really* want to grow right now are watermelons and pumpkins. I don't know how we're going to manage not to have them take over everything else.

I have had the chance to get some real work done on a few editing projects. I am almost finished editing the Southern Hemisphere edition of A Year With Dea. I expect to be sending that off to the printer by the end of this week. I have also been making significant progress on editing Drowning in Light. I expect to have that one finished in about two weeks, depending on if my boys manage not to catch the nasty viruses going around. (For the last week, I had my youngest home from school because he was sick with a virus that had him exhausted and experiencing a lot of stomach upset. Thankfully, he is much better today and at school.)

Long story short, I have been super busy over here with a lot of things that had very little to do with blogging. I am getting caught up on things, so I think I will have some posts up in the immediate future. Thank you so much for your patience.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Herbalism, Treasures, and Tools: Wands (part 1)

Image from Wikipedia
Wand have been in use since antiquity. There is a little bit of confusion as to what they were
originally. Some argue that they are derived from the rods that ancient cultures used as their early measurement system. Others would say that they are derived from spears or similarly shaped tools. A few have opined that the wand is derived from long handled spoons. Each argument has its adherents and I am confident that there are more arguments that I'm not aware of, as these were ones that I became familiar with via casual conversation with a few people.

It is my personal belief that wands are derived from the rod that was used as a semi-standardized form of measurement in a given culture as well as a tool for punishment. A quick review of texts from antiquity and you will find that the term 'rod' is used to denote equipment for this purpose. It is also something that is associated with authority. The scepter of royalty is a direct descendant from the rod of measurement and the rods used as switches. It is my understanding that wands entered into popular consciousness during the era of the witchcraft trials (Inquisition era and a bit later), where the idea of occult practitioners attempting to usurp the trappings of power held by 'legitimate' authorities became rather prolific.

With the rise of 'fashionable' occultism during the Victorian Era, the concept that a wand was absolutely necessary for magical work was cemented in the popular culture of Europe and Western society. This shift in attitude is actually something that can be found in the different ways that occult work is portrayed in the arts. Older artwork that depicted such things typically didn't feature wands. This was something that slowly became more prominent as the idea of wands being used in witchcraft and occultism grew in popularity. Now, it is perhaps one of the most common trappings of witchcraft and occultism.

Mention the word 'magic' and the next thing to come to mind for most listeners in the US is 'wand'. Wands are exceptionally popular because they are considered crucial for control of magic. They are also tools that many find to be a pleasure to collect. They can be as simple as a twig or as ornate as something heavily jeweled and adorned with many accouterments. In my post next week, I will talk about what exactly are the defining characteristics of wands and the folklore associated with them.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day as a Devotee of Dea.

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Today is celebrated as Mother's Day here in the U.S. and I think it is fair to say that it is rather inescapable. Advertising for this celebration of all things maternally related (even some sassy nods to the less glorious aspects of motherhood) starts immediately after the advertisements for the commercial aspect of Christian Easter leave the shelves. It is a day that some find bliss filled and others find painful. And there is a hefty amount of social pressure to celebrate in a certain manner that equates to a lot of consumerism.

On the whole, it is a very stressful holiday that has very little, if any holiness involved in it. It is a secular celebration at best or a day of guilt fueled spending of time and resources at worst. It is possible, however, to shift the focus from the social pressures and such to something more spiritual and kindly. Shifting my focus from the commercial celebration of the day to Dea (and the multitude of spiritual matrons I have) helps to soothe the pains that come with this celebration.

I did spend a good portion of my day focusing upon my little family and the blessings of my children. In doing so, I found myself drawn to gratitude to my spiritual mothers for their guidance and aid. I gave an offering of works through simple daily tasks that I did to care for my family and home. I gave an offering of food early in the morning as the cinnamon rolls I baked came out of the oven, as bread is perhaps one of my favorite food offerings to give. And, I gave an offering of a scented candle that has burned through the day. (I would have offered incense but my asthma is a problem right now due to allergies.)

I turned my attention to my spiritual mothers and found comfort there. I made a point of focusing upon the gratitude, love, and good will between myself and them. It was a relatively small shift in the day's focuses, but it brought me nourishment within my soul and comfort in my heart. And, it let me draw a little closer to them when I had been feeling hurt, lost, and unworthy. That closeness helps with those painful feelings as well as replaces them with a feeling of love, belonging, and of being precious to them.

May it be that today has brought you such feelings of love, belonging, and preciousness. For we are all loved, treasured, and part of Dea's family. (As well as loved and cared for by those deities whom you revere and honor.)

Monday, May 8, 2017

Is it a SIGN or is it just ANXIETY?

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Dear Readers, thank you so much for holding out hope for me. It has been a really challenging time that I'm working through right now. What I'm posting about today is something that I personally struggle with on a fairly regular basis (as in just about everyday).

Sometimes, something precious gets misplaced or lost. When that happens, it is understandable to get  upset. precious things have a lot of emotions and other value attached to them. The problems come when you start attaching meanings that are not accurate to that item going missing. A ring splitting apart and the pieces getting lost in the garden can be really distressing if it was a wedding ring.

Throw in the coincidental timing of some communication difficulties and stress between the partners in the relationship and the broken ring suddenly rises up from a source of vexation to a potential omen of doom. This is a fine example of catastrophic. 99.5% of the time, the ring breaking is just an indicator it is worn out or was poorly constructed. And the bits getting lost in the garden is just a case of trying to find something small in a mass of muddy dirt. (There's a reason why prospectors used a screen to get their bits of gold, the dirt fell through the screen as the gold stayed on top. If you lose something small in fine, sandy soil, consider using your colandar for that. You'll have to wash it before you make your next bit pot of pasta, but you'll find locating your missing item is much easier.)

There are times when what seems to the diviner a sign of horrible doom incoming is actually a situation of just run of the mill annoyances from life. The trick to telling the difference is the degree of emotion attached to the prospective sign. Does the sign feed into some anxiety or fear you have? Does it mesh almost completely into that set of ideas that you worry about?

If so, there's a really good chance that it is not a sign as much as anxiety is trying to ring the alarm that something horrible is happening VERY SOON.

Anxiety is a subtle and difficult thing to matter. This is where the practice of reality testing things is invaluable. Check and recheck your information. And, if you still can't tell if it is accurate or just your troubles getting the better of you, call on a second person for a new perspective.

Have a lovely day, y'all.

Pagan Parenting : Bedtime stories.

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It was exciting this weekend to take the boys off to the Special Olympics. They competed and won medals. It was all in all, a very good day, even if the weather was chilly and raw.

A habit we have gotten into is on the nights when Beloved is out or not putting the kids to bed, I read them or tell the stories about the gods. Their favorite god to hear about is Thor, followed by Loki. Saturday night, my eldest son asked me to tell him a 'Thor Story' and I knew what the perfect one was.

The story about his merry jaunt off to Jotunheim and their contests. Both boys were impressed with the story. They also decided that Thor and company need to come participate in the Special Olympics so that the games are actually fair.

I thought it was pretty awesome to see that kind of compassion extended towards a deity. Most people I know don't pause to consider that sort of thing. So, these bedtime stories about the adventures of the gods can make for great lessons about the world we live in.

I'm pretty sure that this is going to become a big thing moving forward. It has that sort of feeling to it, like when the kids lit up at the sight of a lawnmower for the first time.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Divination Notes - Why keep them?

This post is a little late, I'd like to apologize for any difficulty this has caused you, my dear Reader. Before I charge into more serious topic matters regarding divination, I just wanted to present something that I have found exceptionally helpful in the last few decades that I have been messing around with divination.

A notebook is an invaluable tool. It is exceptional for helping you keep a record of what forms of divination work best for you. It is a fine tool for recording information about divination systems you are learning about. And, obviously, they are wonderful for keeping track of your readings over time.

Some people argue that it is just silly to keep such notes. At one point, I was one of those sort. Then, in an attempt to get my life organized shortly before I started college, I started keeping notes on my divination sessions. The first few notes were just a record of what the deck was that I used and the spread. Some of them were nothing more than a single line summarizing what the general message of the reading was.

After some time, I started to take my divination more seriously. This was reflected in my notes and my daily practices. For the span of about ten years, I did a brief divination session every morning after breakfast. I had my notebook open beside me at the time. I wrote down all of my impressions from the cards (or what ever tool I was using). I then processed those impressions into a somewhat cohesive whole.

The first few times I did this, my notes were copious and it was hard to filter out the information that really mattered. But, with some practice, it became easier for me to see themes and patterns. And, as I looked back through past notes from past divination sessions, I found even larger themes and patterns that were in play over the years.

Your process of keeping a record may be different from mine. That is just fine, because everyone has a slightly different way of making sense of the world around them. That said, I think you may find them to be very helpful in your own growth as a diviner and as you become more intimate with the process of divination.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Godspousery Notes: Stumbling exhaustion.

I haven't slept well in a few nights. I think it has been about two weeks, maybe a little longer. Some of this is the fact that I have had a cold for two and a half weeks. It is hard to sleep when you feel like you're drowning in congestion. It is even harder to sleep when you are having asthma attacks because of said congestion and a neighbor smoking in their apartment (against the rules, of course).

I was feeling upset and frustrated with how little progress I have been making on things like my writing commitments and my crafting work. As I was sitting here, slowly getting angrier with myself for the fact that all I had the mental cohesion for earlier was to just stare at FB and like what was basically silly memes and cat pictures, Loki piped up.

He said, "I'm proud of you. You should write that down."

I was confused by this. He then set a hand on my shoulder, which immediately began to relax and I wondered how I didn't realized I was so tense. He gave me that tender smile that he does when I am somehow managing to be adorable in my ignorance/confusion/derpyness. (Does 'derpy' change to 'derpi-' when you conjugate it? I honestly can't figure it out.) I started feeling somewhat annoyed with myself for not fully 'getting' what he was saying.

Loki ruffled my hair. Then he said, "You have been working so hard to be healthy, to meet your obligations, and to stand on your own more. All of the rest of this, it is icing on the cake. It is decoration and sweetness. But you and your work, that is the heart of it all and what is ... sustenance. You are doing so well. I'm proud of you."

I have been spending since the beginning of the month doing my best to do all the things that I need to with out letting my bipolar and c-PTSD stop me. It has been about as exhausting as the cold. I'm not at a very good headspace at the moment and I find myself wanting to argue that what I am doing isn't that big of a deal because 'everyone else has to do this kind of thing anyways.' He, however, just gives me a meaningful look and then tells me to go try to do some writing.

So, here I am, trying to do some writing at the tail end of a rather long day. (With tomorrow promising to be just as long and a household that needs some TLC from the cooking session last night and laundry waiting to be folded.) I don't feel like what I am doing is that big of a deal. I don't know if this is my not giving myself enough credit, my illness stopping me from really seeing things clearly, or if I am just tired. But, he is proud of me.

I can't be too upset if my spirit husband is proud of me. I'm pretty sure that if Loki is saying he is proud, Ingvi is going to have similar good things to say. Because they have similar feelings on this sort of thing when it comes to self improvement. (Hence the intervention that happened back at the beginning of the month, which was ... challenging but I'm working to meet what we agreed to.)

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Godspousery Notes: I AM good enough?

It has been a challenging couple of months. Between dealing with sickness, schedule changes, new habits, and medication changes, it has been difficult for me to sit down and write here or do much else faith related in a concrete sense. I was feeling upset over this and viciously questioning my value because of that sense of upset.

I would be lying if I said that my poor self confidence didn't have an impact on my relationships. The worse I get about how I treat myself, the worse I do in recognizing that I am loved. It's a nasty cycle, I don't recommend it to anyone.

I was going around in circles on the matter because of uncontrolled anxiety issues. Earlier this week, I was sitting and staring at my altar. I was struggling with the idea that I had to do my devotions 'just right' or not at all. I was questioning my worth really hard. As I was sitting there questioning if I was good enough, Loki plopped down on the couch beside me. (Random aside, it is always a little strange when they do this. You are sitting there on the couch with no one physically beside you. Then you feel the couch do this little bounce thing as if some one physically sat down, but no one is technically there.) He looked at me for a minute and said, "You're doing it again."

At which I sighed and mumbled something to the effect of "I know. I can't seem to stop it for some reason." He stretched, closed his eyes, and then asked me what the gravitational rate was on the planet Earth. I answered 32ft/s/s. His next question was "Why do you worry about gravity changing? Are you planning on crashing an asteroid into Earth? If so, what exactly is your plan to do so, because this sounds interesting." I shot him an annoyed look when Ingvi spoke up from the doorway with a droll comment about if the asteroid was going to be named guilt.

"We love you. That should be enough. Not quibbling over good enough. No one is 'good enough' and no one is 'bad enough'. It doesn't come into the equation," Loki said before I could come up with something to say, "You're looking for an asteroid that does not exist. Your calculations are in error, Ms. Physicist. To be precise, your accounting for something that is a false result. Like the planet Vulcan. There is no evidence for it. You must adjust your theory."

I wanted to bicker, but I recognized that it was my pricked pride there. So, I was quiet. Ingvi said something sassy about being stunned by my silence. Loki chuckled. I rolled my eyes and tried to summon some form of sass to respond with, but they had rather effectively shut down pretty much any argument I would have had by rendering it as "But, this is wrong, I KNOW it is." I am not sure if it was pure coincidence that the daily anti-anxiety medication prescription got approved that afternoon or not. But, I found myself knocked back on my heels a bit with their very succinct and complete rebuttal of any and all arguments of how I'm not 'worthy' or 'deserving' of their love. That's just been rattling around in my head since.