Summer Solstice 2018 – Elemental Tarot Spread

Happy Solstice All!
 

Left - Potato blossoms. Right - Buttercup squash blossoms.

Left – Potato blossoms.
Right – Buttercup squash blossoms.


 
My zucchini, cucumbers, and even buttercup squash are blooming! So are my tomatoes and snow peas and fava beans. So are my mustard and radishes, which means I need to regularly give them a haircut while I continue to harvest them as greens! (Don’t worry, I’m letting the radishes go to seed so they can continue to self-seed around the yard).
I set up my cucumber trellis the other day, and it hasn’t yet fallen over, so I’m counting that as a win.
Praying for LOTS of squash – cucumbers, buttercups, butternuts, and zucchini – this year. Prolific, fruitful plants and low-to-no squirrel/rodent/critter damage please. ❤
 
Summer Solstice – I did a "tell me about right now / where do I go from here" question using the Four Elements Spread from Little Red Tarot's Alternative Tarot Course and the Next World tarot deck, and here’s what I got:
 
Me Right Now: Arsenal (The Four of Pentacles)
Earth: The Fool
Water: The Team (Three of Pentacles)
Air: Temperance
Fire: The Empress

 
Me, Right Now – Where I’m at, what my situation is: Arsenal: I’ve long understood the 4 of Earth to be a card about tenuous shelter. Being afraid that nobody will have your back, being just barely able to make ends meet, having a roof over your head… for now. And part of me is feeling this. Like every summer, this is already a summer of hustling. Last year, I worked for part-time jobs at the same time. This year I’m technically working three, although one of them really only amounts to an hour/week, so I’m not sure it counts. I checked my bank balance earlier today, and it looks like I’ll have the rent in the bank before the month turns over (Hurrah! And also Thank You Gods and Ancestors and also the receptionist who frequently takes time off AND the various artists who hire me frequently because they know modeling is my main income source. Every bit helps!) AND, based on gigs already booked for July, I’ll be able to make August’s rent as well. And knowing that, fairly confidently, in advance is a BIG fucking deal.
So seeing this card as my “Me, right now” position is… not wrong.
But the Four of Earth is also Virginia Woolf’s “Room of One’s Own” to create in. It’s the home as sanctuary (both holy place and place of rest and safety) that Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha writes about so frequently. It’s a reminder of what I’m aiming for, of what makes me happiest.
 
Earth – The material, financial, bodily. Security and abundance (or it’s absense/unsteadiness): The Fool: When I drew this card, I laughed. The fool is someone who is going in a direction where they don’t know what the outcome is going to be. In the write-up for this deck specifically, Cristy C Road says that this particular Fool made the decision to walk away from the security of following the status quo, in favour of something riskier but truer to themself.
I look at this and go, “Okay, kind of?”
I told my wife that I was thinking I needed to find a one-year full time gig – just because it might be easier to find than the part-time permanent office work I’ve been looking for as an anchor income – and she got really quiet on the phone. She told me later that the thought of it make her really sad.
Because here we are, two self-employed people working in art/isan fields, trying to make a go of this. And we’re not quite making it yet. The instability of it is scary. The work is fulfilling and I’m good at it, and I don’t want to give it up.
The Fool is about taking risks, “following your bliss”, trusting the process, and doing the “foolish” thing that goes against conventional wisdom.
Okay. But, hoy, I hope it pays off in the end. O.O
 
Water – The artistic, emotive, spiritual stuff. The heart stuff. The feelings you have about your feelings: The Team: The three of Earth is a card about teamwork, but it’s also a card about making sure your work actually gets recognized. Seeing this card in the “Feelings” position is, like… It’s a combination of “Be aware that the stories you tell yourself about how your feelings (and wants, and needs) don’t matter and will never be prioritized are, y’know, bullshit. Saying what you want/need/feel is RISKY – or at least feels that way – but it’s necessary and you will be happier, by and large, if you actually do it” and “Pay attention to how much social and emtional maintenance/support work you’re doing in your various interpersonal relationships and don’t over-offer, or otherwise do all the work or (let yourself) get taking advantage of”.
 
Air – Mind, thinky thoughts, morality and values, decision-making stuff. Where’s your head at: Temperance: I mostly know this card as one about balance. But I find it interesting to see the Cristy writes her own interpretation of Temperance as being about both (a) self-care that comes with personal maturity and a willingness to listen to what’s needed, but also (b) self-forgiveness.
I think this is how I want to read this card in this position. Forgive myself my past mistakes. Forgive myself the wrongs I’ve done, or thought, and strive to keep making myself better every day. Forgive myself my failures and give myself permission to learn from them and to try again, and then again, and then again. Don’t let (don’t keep letting) my brain weasels and their stories get the better of me.
 
Fire – Drive, passion, Will, and where you’re putting your energy: The Empress: I was pretty happy to see The Empress in this position, because I am putting my energy there. But it’s also Midsummer, and I’m putting my energy into my garden as well as my art. I want to tie this card to the “where you are right now” of the Four of Pentacles, because the Empress asks: Are you treating Home Maintenance as a chore you have to slog through in order to Be A Grown Up, or are you treating it as a series of little rituals that make the everyday holy? I’m reading this as a call to (continue to) connect with sensuality, artistry, and embodied spirituality going forward. Because who doesn’t want that? 🙂
 
So there I have it. A weather report and some suggestions for where to aim next (or keep aiming – the FeelingsWitch over at Tiny Lantern Tarot says that healing works on its own timeline and tends to happen in spirals not straight lines, and… they aren’t wrong).
 
I’m off to wash dishes, tidy surfaces, and harvest rhubarb for Midsummer Pie.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

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New Moon – Berry Moon Begins

There are strawberries juuuuuuuust starting to ripen in my neighbour’s garden. There are service-berries juuuuuuuust starting to ripen on the trees around my neighbourhood.
There are no actual local berries (unless someone’s got super-early haskaps that I don’t know about) that are ripe just yet BUT by the time this moon waxes to full, there’s gonna be. So we’re calling this one berry moon.
I live in hope.
(Hahaaaaaa… I’ll get to that in a second).
 
So! The new moon’s in Gemini. Venus is (for the moment) in Leo. Summer Solstice is only a week away! We’ve been having thunder showers, muggy days, and kind of weirdly chilly evenings, this week.
I had a rotten day yesterday, and a good day the day before, and it’s been a reminder that accomplishing things makes me feel better about myself. Buying groceries and baking All The Things and harvesting the garden and doing a load of laundry makes me feel better about myself. Writing a poem makes me feel better about myself.
I have no idea how much of this is due to the whole capitalist notion that our value lies in what we produce or how much money we have, versus how much of this is due to the reality that moving around, tending things, and creating things, actually ARE good for me.
It’s probably a bit of both.
 
Beth, over at Little Red Tarot, talks about how Gemini (my rising sign, as it happens) is the sign of both/and. This new moon is a good time to write up a manifesto about personal integration (a bit like what Ms Sugar talks about when she talks about Black Swans).
She suggested a Gemini New Moon tarot spread on this subject, and I went ahead and did it.
Element of Self 1 (a theme/undercurrent in your life): Ace of Swords
Element of Self 2 (a different theme/undercurrent in your life): Five of Swords
What Unifies These Elements: Knight of Cups
How Can This Integration Be Expressed: Knight of Pentacles
 
The Ace of Swords is a mental multi-tool (literally, if you’re Cristy C Road). It’s a card of thinking things through, overcoming adversity, using your head. It’s a card of honesty, of seeing through illusions, doing what’s right and wanting what’s fair. It’s a card of communication, clarity, and self-awareness.
 
The Five of Swords, on the other hand, is a card of frustration, black-and-white thinking, and zero-sum games. In the Osho Zen deck, this card is called “comparison”, and it’s about… keeping your eyes on your own paper, striving for personal bests rather than worrying about being better (or not) than someone else. In the Next World tarot, however, this card is called “survival”, and it points to the way that people in Bad Situations will do unethical things in order to get what they need.
 
It’s weird to see the unifying theme of these two air cards be presented as the Knight of Cups. I mean, yes, this particular knight can succumb to the uglier side of Comparison through feelings of jealousy, insecurity, and inadequacy, and can also work the feelings side of self-awareness, seeking the Why of things, striving for self-improvement and understanding. So maybe it’s not that weird.
If my “Black Swan” is a combination of my best (Ace of Swords) and worst (Five of Swords) selves, than the way to be that fullest, truest self, is by being the Knight of Cups. (Ha… The artsy poet who wears her heart on her sleeve and likes pretty things and romance. Oh, hai…)
 
BUT… How do I express said Knight of Cups? Apparently by behaving like the Knight of Pentacles.
I think… Look, I tend to tie the Earth and Water suits together pretty closely. Partly because they’re both inward-focused elements – intimate & introverted rather than exhibitionist? In-so-far as those things can be thought of as having no overlap, which isn’t really the case – and partly because they’re both creative elements. But mainly because emotional stability and material stability are so tied up with each other.
However I think this reading is saying that the way to Be Your Black Swan without being, say, massively self-destructive or making a lot of the same mistakes over and over again, is to balance it out.
So, YES, be the knight of cups.
But balance the dreamy sentimentality and big-picture creative vision of Water with both the prudence and the step-by-step diligence of Earth.
 
The folks over at Hoodwitch tell me to “[Y]ou can knock it out of the park, but you have to remember what you came here for,” and I think that relates to this spread, and the integration of my best and worst Air characteristics through the art and heart of Water. Remember what I came here for, and then actually get it done.
 
Actually, on a related note, Chani’s Affirmation Horoscope this week (Scorpio) talks about the importance of maintaining and strengthening connections with collaborators, with people who support and encourage your best self, your most courageous self, and about noticing and figuring out the (internal and external) Stuff that gets in your way when you push to put yourself, your creativity, your Most You You, out there.
 
This is all kind of relevant (“kind of”), right now. I’m still job-searching. Which… if ever there was a process designed to tell you over and over that you’re worthless and nobody wants you? It’s trying to figure out how to word your extensive resume in a way that will let you look “good enough” to someone who wants professional experience in exchange for an entry-level wage, so that they will maybe deign to call you back. It’s super frustrating, and very scary at the same time. Because I feel like I have to be either/or, rather than both/and.
I want to use this new moon Both/And energy to help me with my frankly threadbare income quilt in a way that doesn’t feel like I’m coming from a place of scarcity or desperation.
 
The card I pulled for my Tarot Card Meditation was the Seven of Earth from the Silicon Dawn deck[1].
 

Tarot of the Silicon Dawn Seven of Wands (which in this deck means the 7 of EARTH) A small, hooded figure (who might be a Jawa), holding two walking sticks, stands in the doorway of a crumbling brick building. There are five branches lying on the ground in front of the door.

Tarot of the Silicon Dawn
Seven of Wands (which in this deck means the 7 of EARTH)
A small, hooded figure (who might be a Jawa), holding two walking sticks, stands in the doorway of a crumbling brick building. There are five branches lying on the ground in front of the door.


 
This particular seven of earth, with its crumbling building and cryptic, stick-based messaging system… is kind of creepy, tbh. Like the Collective Tarot’s seven of bones, which is just a bunch of teeth falling everywhere, a reference, I think, to that dream where your teeth crumble and fall out of your head, to tell you that everything is fucked and you can’t handle it.
Other interpretations are a lot more hopeful (haaaaaaaaaaaaa). Like the Next World image of an old lady selling home-beaded jewelry by the side of the road, labeled “Vision” (and Saturn in Taurus); or the Osho Zen version, which features a calm-looking, heavily pregnant person and a bunch of moon phases, and is called “Patience”. The Wildwood seven of earth is even called “Healing” and carries notes of divine intervention.
 
So what does this mean?
In a long-ago post, I talked about how the sevens are all linked to both hope and action, but also that this seven in particular touches on the fact that things take time.
 
I feel like I’m running out of time.
It’s an awful feeling.
It took ten years for me to build a modeling career. A career that I’m proud of and find fulfilling and that I actually enjoy. And I feel like I’m going to have to give it up, in order to take on work that pays less, wastes my time, depletes my creative energy, and makes me feel physically and emotionally like crap.
And I don’t want that to be how this goes.
 
So. Talking to my lovely wife over the phone, I told her about pulling this card, and what I said was: You may have to re-evaluate some stuff and make some choices. But don’t be hasty about it. You are going to start seeing results, the work you’ve been diligently putting in WILL start paying off. Just be aware that it takes a little while.
That it takes the heart-on-your-sleeve hope (the willingness to take risks and be vulnerable) of the Knight of Cups combined with the methodical action (like composition, editing, cold-calling, querying, and sending out submissions) of the Knight of Pentacles to get the results you want.
 
Summer Solstice is a week away. The sun – and all the things it metaphorically touches on – is at its biggest and boldest. It’s the point when all those seeds you carefully planted start to (literally or metaphorically) bear fruit.
While it’s hard to hold onto hope, especially when it feels like most of my seeds have germinated and then withered before they could really get established, I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for patience, for healing, for the chance to decode some secret, stick-based message, and get where I need to be going.
 
I’m modeling for a photography class in three hours.
I’m going to methodically get myself ready, put together a couple of looks for people to take photos of, do my hair and makeup (qua kosmesis), and then go Be Art for an evening.
And tomorrow?
Tomorrow I’ll light my altars and write some motherfucking poetry.
 
 
~*~
 
Movement: Has mostly been walking, this past couple of weeks. Yes, there’s also been gardening, but mostly my movement has been based around getting from place to place.
 
Attention: The wildlife in my back yard has multiplied. Babies every damn where. They are cute and also mildly worrying and, as such, are pulling a lot of my attention.
 
Gratitude: Grateful for the rain. For the zucchini plants starting to flower. For bread that rises. For rhubarb that grows in determined profusion. For ice cream being on mark-down. For yoghurt I can make from scratch. For a friend who shipped me cute and fancy clothes (and makeup and perfume, and the tiniest coach bag ever) from an entirely different country, just to help me out and make me smile. For $5 bags of un-dyed cotton crochet thread. For time to experiment. For old, beloved books. For not having to get up at 6am, three days a week (silver lining, right?) and for modeling coordinators who hire me because they know I need the work, and because I was brave enough to ask for it. For long baths. For friends who trust me. For a wife who thinks I’m beautiful and holds onto me all night long.
 
Inspiration: The deep, deep blue of a nearly cloudless sky, late last night when I walked home from my modeling gig, after an evening that was all thunder and rain. The bright gleam of those distant stars. The way the bee-balm and bleeding hearts come back, year after year, even in thin, rocky soil.
 
Creation: Urgh. I made a rhubarb-berry coffee cake and rhubarb muffins this past week. I also wrote one (1) poem. It’s okay. But more to come, right? More to come! 😀
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] So, when people design tarot decks, they often rename the suits. The suit of “earth stuff” (security, abundance, material things, bodies & embodiment, physicality, cash, housing, food, legacies, room-mates, relatives, etc), for example, which is traditionally called “pentacles” has been renamed a bunch of other things. Rainbows. Bones. Stones. Lots of things. In the case of the Silicon Dawn deck, from-which I drew the above card, the suit of “Earth Stuff” has been renamed “wands”. Which is annoying, sure, but not the end of the world. So I’m going with it.

New Year New You 2018 – Week Seven: In the Muddy Middle

I’m (once again) doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. It’s a good mix of practical, magical, and thought-based exercises to help accomplish specific and significant change in your own life. If it’s relevant to your interests, give it a try!
 
Instructions: This week it’s important to work on specific things to further your goals. What’s the hardest thing for you to do? What do you keep putting off? Do it now. […] Show the universe what kind of wonders you’re capable of this week.
 

“Challenge”
Wildwood Tarot’s Two of Stones
Two hares boxing on their hind legs.


 
Tarot Card: Two of Earth (Moment to Moment).
I chose this card because it touches on the hustle. Working multiple jobs to make ends meet. Trying to find the balance and the solidity under your feet when things don’t feel solid at all.
 
I spent most of May applying for part-time admin work. One of those applications led to an interview(!) BUT… I didn’t get the job. I found that out last Wednesday. Spent about half a day feeling just so crushed and demoralized, and then it was time to drag my butt out the door and go to the job I already have (which, tbh, is much more in line with my idealized glamourous life than office work, and which actually makes me happy).
Basically, I had to remind myself that while, no, things aren’t all suddenly coming up roses, they aren’t actually any worse than they were three weeks ago.
This is not the end of the world.
 
However. Because I spent so much time pushing (everything from doing magic to finding editing-related reference-people) for this position, I’ve been feeling like the rest of my Empress Project has been taking a back seat. I mean, yes, the Empress is a boss-lady who handles all things abundant, so (magically and practically) pushing for some mundane-world financial stability isn’t exactly off-topic. But I’ve been feeling the Exile hard of late and, while I still need to keep one hand on that particular wheel, I need to get back into the rest of that project, too.
 
So. Things I can do right now (which is a good time to do it, because I don’t have a lot of paid work booked this week – though I’d be more than happy to have that change) to bring myself back on track in a more well-rounded way:
 
I can put together a few poetry submissions. I didn’t send any submissions out in May – like at all – so it’s time for me to get myself back to submitting to three places per month. (On the plus side, I’ve been invited – for a given value of invited – to submit to one place already, so that’s a nice jump-start to that task).
I can, likewise, finish my chapbook (still need to do a couple of re-writes and then polish it) with an eye to sending it out for publication.
I can write more glosas and blog about the poets who inspired them.
 
I can do the personal and home maintenance stuff that I’ve been neglecting, so that my home feels inviting and so that I feel up to visiting with people.
I can invite friends over to drink kombucha and eat rhubarb muffins in my garden, to reinforce the ties of my social net.
 
I can go on dates with my wife.
I can flirt[1] with people, and see if it goes anywhere.
I can talk about my Feeeeelings and ask questions when I need peoples actions clarified, instead of just assuming the worst.
 
Anyway. Things I can do TODAY include: Laundry and Poetry-writing, so I’m going to go and do that now.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Haha. Which I didn’t do particularly much, or particularly well, when I went to Queering Power over the weekend. But I do have a couple of in-town people who are interested in doing needle scenes with me, which is pretty great. 😀

Full Moon – Flower Moon Crests

The dog roses bloomed the day before the full moon (in Sag). The lilacs are out all over the place. My self-seeded radishes and crane’s bill are blooming and my columbines, sage, peonies, and even bergamot are well on their way towards bursting into flower.
Flower Moon indeed.

Close-up shot of pale pink pavement roses (dog roses, salt-spray roses) with green leaves as the blurry background. Photo by ThePantherAleo Courtesy of Wiki Media Commons

Close-up shot of pale pink pavement roses (dog roses, salt-spray roses) with green leaves as the blurry background.
Photo by ThePantherAleo
Courtesy of Wiki Media Commons


 
The Full Moon in Sag – like all full moons – relates back to the New Moon that was in the same sign, six months ago. Looking back, I see that, six months ago, I was writing the Goals post for my Empress Project and trying to get myself to Dream Big rather than over-thinking and self-sabotaging my hopes and plans.
Which is… not out of line with what’s been going on in the past 8 days or so.
 
I did a tarot reading this time last week – a three-card draw suggested by Liz Worth in a guest-post for Biddy Tarot:

1. What do I fear about myself?
2. How can I face this fear and move past it?
3. What can I accomplish as a result?

 
The answers I got were:
1) The Empress (U) – Which, given my ongoing Empress Project, I’m interpreting as “I’m afraid of my own success” (just… see below for more on that one).
 
2) The Three of Swords (R) – Grief, sure, but grief that you are allowed to let go of. Recognize that Now is not Then. You are not going to be punished for reaching past scrabbling survival or for wanting things beyond being allowed to continue existing (ish).
 
3) Temperance (U) – Feeling centered and secure, finding the right mix, achieving some balance, flourishing. (Isn’t flourishing what the Empress is all about?)
Which…
You guys, the day I did this reading, I got invited to a job interview for a part-time office job, walking distance from my house. With benefits and a (likely) starting salary that, even pro-rated to three days/week, would cover our basic living expenses reliably and consistently for the foreseeable future.
 
The interview was on Monday.
Lunar-cycle-wise, that’s an amazing time for a job interview (almost-full moon in an energetic, get-up-and-seize-the-day Fire sign, with everything else in stable, secure, resourceful Earth).
I’m hoping that helped me.
I’m hoping everything helps me.
I have no idea if, or when, I will head the results but I have been straight-up harassing my gods and ancestors and everybody else who might potentially be listening about this. I am kind of feeling (exhausted from) what Ms. Sugar calls “getting in a staring contest with the universe“.
I’ve also been having Big Feels about not “deserving” this. Impostor syndrome. The fear that, if I don’t keep myself small and scared, some nebulous Big Bad is going to come along and hurt me to make sure I “stay in my place” (which is desperate and needy and never allowed to have enough). This weird, stupid, doesn’t actually make any sense, suspicion that my wife wouldn’t be having Extra Joint Pain right now, if I hadn’t been so “greedy” as to want us to be able to reliably make ends meet and potentially make them overlap.
It’s messed up.
I want to stop feeling like this.
But, tbh, even more than that? I want an email offering me that job. I’ll deal with, and hopefully banish, the imposter syndrome once I know that our rent & groceries are for-sure going to be covered.
 
But for the moment, I’m waiting. Fighting off anxiety. Distracting myself by reading YA novels (which is great). Working in my garden – the fava beans are coming up. So is the red mustard and (maybe) blue kale and dill (only one, so far) from my friend, who held the job I just interviewed for, along with the chard I seeded, and reseeded, and then seeded again (FINALLY). My tomatoes, cukes, zukes, potatioes, and winter squash all seem to be getting their roots in well. The sorrel and lovage I planted are getting their feet in, too.
I am hoping the flourishing of my garden, the re-balancing of its soil by giving it a good feed and planting some nitrogen fixers, will work as a thinking-in-things spell to help me be open to my own success, my Empress flourishing, to invite in those things ( like this job, Universe ) that will help me do and be all of that.
 
Today’s Tarot Card Meditation draw was the Eight of Pentacles.

Eight of Bones – Collective Tarot
A ribcage with eight ribs. There is a chrysalys nested in the sternum over (or in place of) the heart. Below the ribcage, fiddlehead ferns are starting to unfurl.


 
I like this card.
The eights are all about hope. Even cards like the eight of cups, where the hope is less obvious (letting go of something, which can be painful, in order to make space for something better to come in). But this particular card is about both (a) super-relevant stuff like finding a new job, and also (b) doing the day-to-day “carry wood, fetch water” stuff of making life happen.
The above picture is from the Collective Tarot, but I did my draw from the Next World deck. Cristy C Road calls the 8 of Pentacles “Creation”. It’s a picture of two people, obviously proud of what they’ve made, standing in the foreground of stacks and stacks of paper (what looks like a self-published zine, chapbook, comic, guide, or similar).
Other versions of the Eight of Pentacles consistently touch on the honing of a craft, on diligence, on putting in the effort and attention to tend something that matters to you. The Next World rendition is very much in that vein.
But the Collective Tarot’s Eight of Bones talks about something else. The chrysalis under the rib cage. The “new normal” that’s been growing this whole time you (I?) have been breathing, learning, and baby-stepping forward. The heart that is developing, that is ready to emerge.
 
If I have a wish – beyond the very specific “let me get this job” that I’ve been praying and chanting and spell-casting for all week – for this full moon in Sagitarius, it’s this:

Let Me Thrive!

 
~*~
 
Movement: LOTS of walking. The heat has arrived (YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!) and… I have totally forgotten how to walk long distances (for a given value of “long” meaning about 5km at a time) in hot, hot, humid weather. BUT I’m walking a lot. Digging in my garden, planting seedlings, pulling unwanted plants (quack grass and dog-strangling vine, almost exclusively) and harvesting greens. Going dancing on Saturday night, too. 🙂
 
Attention: I strongly suspect that the content of this post has detailed where most of my attention has been of late. However, I’m also paying attention to what’s coming up in my garden (and what isn’t), and what it needs to thrive. I did a lousy job of taking care of it last year, and I’m hoping to do better with it this time around.
 
Gratitude: My wife, who smiles at me and tells me she loves me all the time. The people who are willing to sing my praises to a potential employer, should they call. Dandelions, grape leaves, Vietnamese garlic, garden sorrel, mustard greens, radish leaves, and other goodies that have been doing their duty as our vegetables of late. Honouraria for working a “learn to mend” night at the OTL. Connecting with other queers. Clothing swaps. People showing up for each other when someone needs support. Having a spare room in-which to temporarily house someone (er… we had a 15-year-old stay with us for a couple of days while she was between group homes). The smell of wet earth and fresh, clean rain on just-mowed dandelions in the yard. Getting that interview and it (probably?) going well. Ancestors taking care of me. Goddesses who listen. A big, gorgeous full moon to look up at. Warm, gentle nights to walk home in. Extra modeling work. New poetry in the mail. The smell of flowers – lilacs and roses and the last of the crab apples – heavy in the air. It’s a beautiful time of year.
 
Inspiration: I have new poetry to read, and I’m paging through Kitchen Table Tarot, Modern Tarot, and She Is Sitting in the Night, trying to gain some new perspectives on my numerous decks of cards. I’m also drawing inspiration from my garden, since it’s waking up and making magic of its own right now.
 
Creation: Right now, a lot of my creative efforts are being put into trying to get the Universe to give me what I want. So my activities are less about poetry and more about getting my garden in shape to keep feeding us, and getting the Wider World to, well, like me enough to get me a stable and sustainable working situation. Keep your fingers crossed for me, please. Beyond that, while I’m still working on finishing my moon-inspired poetry chapbook, I’m finding that food and plant imagery is finding its way into my work – because: garden – more and more. Hoping to get this one finished before the next New Moon, but we shall see.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

New Moon – Flower Moon Begins

Fava Beans in Bloom. White flowers with black spots. Who doesn't love leopard-print plans?

Who doesn’t love leopard-print plants? 😀


 
The above picture is from a few years ago. It’s fava beans in bloom, which won’t technically be flowering until, like, July. None the less! It’s flower moon! I have Lungwort and one purple Tulip blooming in my front yard, and a bunch of dandelions, BUT my Crane’s Bill (wild geranium), Carpet Of Snow, and Lamia are about to open up, so here we are. The pear tree next door, and the cherry tree down the street, plus all the neighbourhood serviceberries and crab apples are blooming. Pretty flowers everywhere. It’s a gorgeous time of year.
 
Yesterday I made bread and yoghurt. Today I’m taking a care package to a kid who’s on her own for the first time and needs All The Things. (I’m bringing groceries – including some of said bread and yoghurt, along with a heap of crushed tomatoes, frozen sunchokes, non-parishables, jam, and frozen fruit – plus gender-appropriate clothes and shoes plus some other stuff). I’m also watering the garden, because the Big Storm that we were expecting yesterday… wasn’t, and they all need a drink.
 
The New Moon was born in Taurus, yesterday, but is now scooting through Gemini (my rising sign). Uranus just moved into Taurus, too, which is somewhat more significant. Gotta admit that given that the ONLY Taurus in my chart is its position in my 12th House (which, being an astrology n00b, is… I guess basically all the crap that The Moon brings up in tarot? Roughly?) I’m not at all sure what to make of this one. So I’m just gonna go with what Chani says about Uranus In Taurus for me (Scorpio) which… seems to be suggesting that I’m about to revolutionize how I do attachment bonds? I guess?
Heh. Which would definitely fit with the somewhat frustrating tarot reading I gave myself yesterday.
Short version (which is the trio of cards I add to the end: Advisor, Over-Arching, and Underlying): I got The Lovers, followed by The Tower and The Queen of Earth. All those stupid, unhelpful relationship patterns (er… see 12th House?), where I tend to bond to people more intensely when I’m afraid of losing them (because they’re distant or unavailable or super shitty at mutual care) are gonna fall the fuck apart which – going by the rest of the spread – is going to involve (a) probably STILL not dating anybody new for a while, dammit, and (b) learning to “go with the flow” rather than needing to know what’s what ALL the time (ugh… that’s gonna suck). But what comes after that will be flowering, security, and big, abundant, fam. Which I’m so into.
 
So here we are.
The general message from Chani was: Be your weird, strange self in all your complexity and in all your relationships. Give yourself the room to be your Self.
Sounds pretty good, tbh.
Here’s hoping it goes well.
 
Shall we do a Tarot Card Meditation? I think we shall:
Revolution (16 Major Arcana, The Tower) Cristy C. Road's Next World Tarot Water Protectors front and center, with burning oil rigs in the back ground. That which crumbles was never meant to last.
 
Whelp. Motherfucker.
This card has been following me around since New Year’s Eve. It showed up in the above-mentioned reading, and now here it is again, pulled out of an entirely different deck.
I commented to a friend, a couple of days ago, that I’m real sick of seeing it, and that the Cataclysmic Change that it tends to herald must be the kind of thing where a wall is worn away by time and tides, rather than one where something falls down thanks to an earthquake or an explosion.
Things usually break down for a reason. The tower can be a card of shocking insights and realizations. The kind of New Moon in Scorpio revelations that can shatter old patterns, ruts, and destructive habits. (That’s what I like about the Next World Tarot iteration of this card. The thing that is falling down isn’t necessarily a good thing. The loss will be hard – uncomfortable, full of bumps – but the end result is that you’ll be better for it). It can be a card of break-throughs and surprising new perspectives. I’m going to try and see it like that,and to work with that energy when I get surprising news.
 
~*~
 
Movement: Taking a long walk into Gatineau today. Turned the compost and added (fully composted, from a shop of all things) manure to the raised garden beds.
 
Attention: Keeping an eye on the garden. Pulling out seedlings that I don’t want (like manitoba maples) in the front garden, re-seeding what hasn’t come up yet. I’m hoping that feeding the garden beds will help on that front. (I still have one big bag in reserve, for when I want to plant zucchini and winter squash next weekend).
 
Gratitude: Kind friends who challenge me. Trust. Having a spare room to offer people who need it, but also learning that I’m not going to be on the hook as a demi-parental grown-up just yet. Friends who invite me out to play and give me opportunities to try new recipes. A wife who looks at me like I’m a miracle. Friends who send me clothes, just to help me out. Friends who take my no-longer-fitting clothes off my hands. Affordable writing wrokshops run by leather queers. Gods who listen and push and help me out (thank you!). Long, steady rain on freshly planted seeds. Bright sunshine and rising temperatures. Running into friends while running errands.
 
Inspiration: People who step up to be the grown-up when they’re needed, even when they’re barely out of childhood themselves. I’m in awe of you.
 
Creation: Got a new poem written, earlier this week, though it needs a LOT of tweaking. Fingers crossed that I can get it to work AND come up with another couple as well!

Eat From the Larder Challenge 2018 – End of Week Four / End of Month Wrap-Up

Hey!
So it’s May! Well into May, by the standards of a post that I theoretically should have written a week ago, but here we are.
Eat From the Larder Month is OVER! YAY!

Rappini (I think) – front, left.
Peas (for sure) – right, back-left.


Much like the last time I did this challenge, I’m not feeling the press to go out and stock up on groceries because we’re still doing just fine for food.
Part of that, of course, is that I made the decision to continue buying eggs and milk (and coffee and tea) through the month, as needed, but a lot of it is just… I have a big kitchen, two freezers, and enough storage space that I can house a considerable amount of food supplies at any given time.
The other reason – which is a recent development – is that the perennial garden veggies (along with a TONNE of daikon radish seedlings) have been waking up and getting big enough to harvest. So I’ve been able to add dandelion greens, nettles, Vietnamese garlic, and chives to our meals. I made Pasta (Mostly) Primavera for Beltane Dinner, and it was lovely. It also used up part of my last bag of frozen peas AND a bunch of frozen zucchini (I still have some left), which was nice.
 
Stuff I made during the final week (and a couple of days) of April:
Bread (it’s been really good to get back into that habit)
Vegan brownies (that need to have some mashed beans added, but were otherwise delicious)
Soup ft home-made stock, “wild” garden greens, and glass noodles
Alfalfa sprouts! (A couple of friends gave me seed packages for sprouting, and I finally got around to try it!)
Strata ft home-made bread and Vietnamese garlic greens, along with cheddar, parmesan, and a slice of our (March) Meat Of The Month Club prosciutto
 
Things I’ve Learned This Year:
1a) While I’m happy to make vegan food (or vegan “adjacent” food, as is sometimes the case) every now and then, for pot-lucks or because I feel like it or something looks like it’ll taste good, the thought of cooking it because I “have to” due to not having any animal protein available is just awful. It feels like some kind of weird culinary punishment for not planning well enough in advance. I know that’s messed up, and I’m not knocking anyone else’s dietary decisions, but holy moly do I ever NOT want to eat a diet that is so heavily dependent on beans and grains. Maybe that’s just due to one lousy experience with whole oats early on in the month, but it’s really, really sticking.
1b) I need – or at least want – to buy another half-pig from a local farmer who raises their animals kindly. (And would be open to trading some of said pig, pound for pound, in exchange for duck, roasting chicken, beef, moose, or deer – but not sheep or goat, because they’re hard to digest for Some Reason – so that everybody gets Extra Variety in their freezer). I feel a lot less crappy and hypocritical when I’m eating animals who were raised under good and humane conditions, and I’m very sure I’m not going to stop eating animals, so that’s my option.
2) We still go through a pound of cheese per week.
3) I loooooooooove yoghurt, and am so freaking happy that I’m able (or that my instant pot is able) to do so now. 😀
4) Barley remains my favourite whole (and also polished) cooking grain. Baking grain is still polished, all-purpose wheat flour, hands down, but barley is a queen when it comes to long-cooking dishes. Chewy. Drinks a lot of water without getting mushy. Takes of flavours reliably. Hearty and filling. Easy to get ahold of. Grows well in Saskatchewan, so it doesn’t have to be imported, even though it would be nice if Ontario grew more of it.
5) I will probably not be putting up vast quantities of crushed tomatoes this September. I have so many pints still to go through. While I’m happy to continue using them them up over the next few months, the tomatoes I finished were from September 2016. I still have something like 18 pints of crushed tomatoes from last September to use up, and that’s not likely to happen. I suspect that this year’s preserving goals will be more along the lines of blanching and freezing (and maybe drying) All The Things to make including them in dinners that much easier. Doing vinegar-pickled (so water-bath-canned, rather than lacto-fermented) root veggies and blanched-and-frozen root veggies AND greens, will most likely be my priority, rather than crushed tomatoes.
6) I hate, I hate, I hate austerity. I talked a bit about this at the end of Week Two, but good grief. I made a really great stew, and we ate it for a week, and we were both just so sick of it by the time Friday rolled around, we could barely stand to look at it. I think about all those jars of tomatoes, the pounds and pounds of sunchokes still in the freezer, and I just think “Eugh. I don’t wanna” (which, okay, with regards to the sunchokes, isn’t entirely out of line, given what they do to my wife’s stomach, but I don’t want to waste them either).
 
…I’m not saying that the practice isn’t a good one. That figuring out how to make the same six ingredients taste interesting and palatable for many days in a row isn’t a good idea to do while the safety net is in place. It is. I’m saying that I hate it, and that if I learn (and re-learn and re-learn) anything from this exercise, it’s that my food storage plans MUST include a LOT of variety and, frankly, a lot of convenience food – if, by “convenience food”, I mean stuff that gets made in bulk, in advance, (pressure canned mashed winter squash, chick peas, stewing beef, and pumpkin seed butter, big bags of dried kale and culinary herbs, dry sausage that I can keep in a jar on the shelf and chop up to get a lot of flavour from a very small amount of ready-to-go meat, vast quantities of frozen greens, peas, and already-chopped winter veggies, cider-pickled carrots, rutabagas, and beets) so that when I have to make dinner (that basic skill of resilience that Erica talked about when she first devised this challenge), I can make something fast and healthy (or at least healthy-ish) and lush-tasting without having to think about it.
 
Stuff I was overjoyed to find in my freezer, and which made life easier and more delicious:
Zucchini
Peas
Rainbow Chard
Other frozen greens (kale, wild greens mix)
Butternut Squash
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Sausages
Pork chops
Pork shoulder roasts (two of them)
 
Three of these are pork products (see above re: Get another half a pig). Of the rest, I can definitely grow and/or wild-harvest the rainbow chard and other greens and can probably grow (and definitely acquire for cheap, when in season) the summer and winter squashes. Peas, broccoli, and cauliflower are way more likely to be bought pre-frozen from the grocery store, but they are wonderful too.
Additionally: Frozen OR jarred-pickled peppers of various kinds have been an excellent addition to one-pot meals, and I was really glad to have both on hand. Also, while this year has not been a good year for stuffing ourselves with sunchokes, I maintain that having pre-prepared starchy tubers available in the freezer OR on the shelf (pressure-canned or water-bath-pickled with vinegar) is a great way to make myself eat them. I have determined that I’m far more likely to incorporate a spoonful of salty lacto-fermented beets or half a pint of vinegar-pickled rutabaga than I am to peel and dice them fresh for inclusion. With that in mind, I think it would be wise for me to stock pressure-canned (yes, I know you lose nutrients) and/or frozen root veggies even when they also cure well and will keep for a long time without any prep at all.
 
Anyway. Those are my thoughts. We’ll see what I carry forward. As generally happens at this time of year, I’m more excited about planting veggies and harvesting wild greens (totally going to lacto ferment some dandelion greens in short order) than I am in worrying about too many sunchokes still left in my freezer. I’ll figure something out, I’m sure. For now, off to eat sprouts, pick greens, and probably roast a chicken.
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

New Year New You 2018 – Week Six: Glamour Magic is A Love Letter To My Body

I’m (once again) doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. It’s a good mix of practical, magical, and thought-based exercises to help accomplish specific and significant change in your own life. If it’s relevant to your interests, give it a try!
 
Instructions:This week, I would like you to think about how you’re presenting yourself to the world and how that’s affecting your own personal goals“.
 

A Lady of the Lake figure, with the torso of a human woman and the legs and tail of something more reptilian, holds a mirror in one hand and the full moon in the other. There is a great blue heron, wearing an amulet, in the foreground. In the background, a small boat carries a shrouded figure (possibly a corpse). Further back, is a very small island that appears to have a door in the side.
In the Wildwood Tarot, the Twelfth card of the Major Arcana is called “The Mirror”. More traditionally, it’s The Hanged Man.


 
Tarot Card: The Mirror.
I chose this card from this deck specifically because of the “mirror” name. We are talking glamoury and self-presentation, after all.
Elsewhere, the Hanged Man has been named everything from Intermission to New Vision, and they are all at least a little bit relevant. They all involve changes of perspective. They all involve pausing to reflect.
What I think is really interesting, though, is that The Hanged Man has connotations of being open, being vulnerable. I wasn’t expecting that. (I mean, I suppose if you’re literally hanging by your ankle, that’s a pretty vulnerable position to be in, but it still came as a surprise). And there’s a fair bit of that in glamoury. It’s not a mask. It’s not a false front. It’s you, shined up and gleaming and refusing to compartmentalize yourself for anybody else’s comfort. It’s you being your own velvet rope.
 
I have to admit that, after (putting off) last week’s prompt, I’m finding Week Six to be weirdly easy? Like for the first time ever (I’ve done this Experiment a number of times at this point) I’m not going into The Glamour Prompt feeling defensive or otherwise dreading it. Maybe because I’ve been doing deliberate glamour magic for something like 8 months now, or because I’m feeling a little more solid around stuff like “dressing your age” when I want and need it to mean something other than “dress like someone who works as an office admin” (even when I do, periodically, work as an office admin… and find myself woefully under-prepared in the clothes department for anything more than about a two-day contract).
Regardless, when I clicked on the prompt to remind myself what it was? I was relieved. Like “Oh. Glamour. Got it covered!”
And, on some levels, I do. My bras fit. I know how to mend my own socks and make/modify my own clothes (so they fit). I’m getting better at contouring/highlighting. I’m dressing with a certain degree of intention. I went back to dying my hair “bisexual burgundy” because I missed it and, even having done a pretty spotty job of it, I’m really happy to have “my” hair back. (This is what happens when you notice how many red-heads are in your personal Glamour Glossary and then land en excuse to go back to your power colour). I started (very recently) doing daily bendy-stretchy exercises to complement my preexisting core-strengthening exercises, and incorporating affirmations-as-spell-craft into the whole routine, in the interest of being – ha – open (and vulnerable) to everything from hot pick-up sex to the possibility that unexpected changes are not only not the end of the world, but might actually be positive. I described my own body, a week ago, as gorgeous and lovable.
Which I guess brings me to:
 
One of Ms Sugar’s suggestions was to write a love-letter to your own body. So I did.

Dear Body,
I love you.
I love us?
 
I love that we can get places on foot, even when they’re 6-8 km away from our starting point. I love that we can walk up five flights of stairs without feeling like our chest is going to explode. I love that we are able to mitigate our lower back problems substantially through physiotherapy done through the lens of very selective yoga poses. I love that we are getting stronger. I love that we have curvy hips and solid thighs and broad shoulders. I love our long hair and strong neck. I love that we’re singing and doing warm-up exercises again, because it’s good for our head (or seems to be, so far). I love that we are getting more flexible, too.
 
I love that we can communicate. I love that we made the time to learn how to communicate and keep communicating. I love that when our sense-of-self dissociates, we know how to come back together again.
I love that we are a fully autonomous musical instrument, that we can send our sound up to two blocks away, farther if we are up high. I love that we have powerful core muscles and powerful face muscles and deep, deep, open lungs, to do this with and that we know how to do it on purpose. I love the notes we can hit and make them ring like bells. I love that we can sing things into being.
 
I love that our ears can pick up a tune, even if they can’t pick up the thread of a specific conversation.
I love our capacity for pleasure, even when our brain-side has a really hard time allowing us to get there and go there, especially with a sexual partner, especially while bottoming. I love that we’re capable of letting go like that. Of roaring and laughing, of coming hard and gushing. I love that we KNOW this, even if we can’t do it reliably (yet).
 
I love that we enjoy warm wind on our bare legs, hot sun on our skin. I love that hot baths help us come back together again and again.
I love that we recognize our own skin hunger. I love that we are snuggly and enormous, intimidatingly huge. I love that we can dance, and that we practice dancing in our kitchen.
I love that we’re comfortable being naked.
I love that we’re close enough to the current cultural standard of beauty that we can make a living off of how we look and move and stand in this messed up world. I love that we’re far enough away from the current cultural standard of beauty that we can make people stare at us just by standing up, and that we can question that beauty standard and interrogate it, even just a little bit.
 
I love that we love food and eating. I love that we are gluttonous. I love that we have a resilient digestive system, and that we enjoy the taste of all those home-made ferments that help us maintain it. I love that we love subtle flavours and can tease them apart, recognize and name them, because our tongue is clever and attentive.
I love that we have unexpectedly good aim, despite having difficulty focusing our almost-forty-year-old eyes on distant targets. I love that our fingers are strong and dextrous and can peel the meat off a bone ‘til its bare without a lot of trouble.
I love that we can manage without glasses… so far… even if we know they’re coming. But I also love that we enjoy adornment, that glasses will be annoying, probably, but they’ll also be jewelry for our face.
 
I love that we can breathe easily. That we don’t have to hunt for fragrance-free everything, and can enjoy heavily scented perfume oils and massage bars and bath bombs. I love that we’re aware of what working in that factory did to us, and that standing over a pot of melted paraffin may give us headaches now, but that we can make beeswax candles from scratch instead, which is what we like anyway. I love our lung capacity, the ways we navigate having a cleft palate and the mouth/nose/throat issues that’s given us our whole life.
 
I love that we are a water ape, that our clever, attentive tongue and nose can tell what is safe to keep eating and what is best left alone. I love that our fingers are long. I love that we have good (ish?) balance. I love that we can use our strength and grace and balance and flexibility to put food on the table by gardening and foraging and also by modeling.
I love that we are a spell, on purpose. That we can use our voice, our dancing, our touch, to move energy around and through, and that we figured this out through singing lessons but also, by and large, through trial and error and guess-work, and it WORKED.
I love that we are big enough to get things off the high shelves without trying.
I love that we dance in public. I love that we eat in public. I love that we take up all this space in all these many ways.
I love us.
I love you.
I love us.