Full Moon – Apple Moon Crests (and Wains) PLUS Autumn Equinox

There’s a nip in the air that wasn’t there a week ago. The sun is still warm, even hot, when it hits you directly, but the mornings are chilly and, while we haven’t needed to turn the heat on yet, I know it’s not going to be long before that becomes a necessity again.
People with gardens are harvesting hardcore, bringing in the green tomatoes before they get hit by the frost that’s threatening to arrive any day, putting up the last of the rhubarb jam. I did a second round of tomato-canning last weekend, while that big, gorgeous harvest moon rose in the sky, and my wife spent the weekend with her GF.
I’m teaching a water-bath canning workshop next weekend. (It’s a go! Woot!) We’ll be using neighbourhood-harvested chokecherries + farmers’ market plums and a slew of other goodies to make Chokecherry Chutney (which, technically, is a relish given how I’ve done the seasonings. I’m keeping the “chutney” for the aliteration of it all.😉 )
The chokecherries have been sitting in my freezer, already strained into a purree, for over a month. Even though there’s at least one tree in the neighbourhood that’s still got berries on it, I didn’t want to risk not having any available for this workshop, so into the freezer they all went. I suspect my October is going to be full of canning – a nicer time to do it, since the weather will be cooler and a hot, steamy kitchen will hold more appeal than it does in August. Chokecherry curd, GoblinFruit jam (chokecherries, black currants, raspberries, vanilla, and whatever else I can throw in there), rhubarbicue sauce, and lots of pumpkin butter. I tried harvesting apples from a local tree, but most of them were out of reach, so… we’ll see what we can add to my three apples + a couple of crab apples. They may end up in a green-tomato chutney (ft mustard and black pepper for heat), or else just baked into some kind of freezer-friendly cake recipe.
 
I’m feeling the need to rush, right now. Like I should be harvesting bouquets of grape leaves and dandelion greens and chard (my chard is finally starting to take off, can you believe it. Autumn plantings for the win, I guess?) and putting them up in the freezer so that we’ll have plenty of greens frozen for over winter when the imported stuff is soooo expensive. Like I should be buying as much yellow zucchini as I can get my hands on and putting it up in pucks so that we have something other than root veggies to draw on in January and February. Like I should be making (more) vegan sage pesto for the freezer and drying basil and Greek oregano in the dehydrator. And I should. I should be outside with a bowl, right now, cutting rhubarb stalks and yellow chard fronds and ripe, skinny eggplants off the gorgeous plant that finally started heavy-producing when the drought broke (I have a blowl of ripe baby-tomatoes and purple beans sitting on the counter already). I could do a nightshade heavy meal with added white beans and some of last year’s salsa on top of the left-over beefheart and quinoa slow-cooked dinner I made on Thursday,and it would feed the four (we have guests this weekend) of us quite nicely.
 
My wife, her GF, and our two guests are off canoing this afternoon. I begged off because I’m down with a head-cold and the idea of spending a windy, chilly autumn day on the water seemed like a less-than-wise way to go. So I’m home, writing about seasonal changes and plotting what to do with my garden’s bounty before the frost knocks it all down for another year.
 
The cross-over into Root Time is only a few weeks away at this point. The days are noticeably shorter than they were not that long ago and, now that the Equinox has (just barely) come and gone, they are shorter (only just) than the days are. I’m aware of all the Personal Growth I’ve been doing over the past six months, wondering how much of it would stick if I found myself trying to open my heart again to another unknown quantity.
I read a blog post the other day that asked “What are you afraid of being”, and the answer is: I’m afraid of being crazy.
I’m afraid of being in that space of spiraling anxiety and hyper-arousal and constant doubt where self-soothing, for all that I do it as hard as I can, also feels like I’m gas-lighting myself, telling myself pretty lies that only make it easier for someone else to be careless with me.
 
I’ve spent most of 2016 trying to tease out the strands of what I can manage and control in terms of anxiety and boundaries versus what I can’t (other people’s feelings and behaviour) and how to tell when to pull the plug on something that isn’t feeding me. There is still so much I don’t understand, and I am afraid of being crazy if I try this again.
Miss Sugar recently talked about “the dark part of the forest“, the dark side of one’s own Glamour, and how her Glam is equal parts Glenda and Elphaba. Equal parts the charming femme escort who works the tropes of femininity so hard they break (to paraphrase Kathryn Payne) and the fierce, terrifying, single-minded “belle dame sans merci” – the femme who is written off as mad/insane because she’s sick of playing by the rules that say “want less and you will always have enough“.
Carrie’s post for this moonth’s Scorpio tarotscope, over at Siobhan’s Mirror, says “The door of your transformation has been cracked open, and it cannot be closed again“.
Has it? How do I trust that what my gut is telling me is true? That it’s neither wishful thinking & relentless hope nor the awful stories my anxiety, fear of abandonment, and generalized self-loathing want me to believe are true?
 
The Autumn wreath is on my door. I have a couple of butternut squashes (hallelujah!) ripening in the garden, more rhubarb than I know what to do with (no, actually, I totally know what to do with it), and some shorter-than-expected but hopefully proliffic jerusalem artichokes that I won’t need to harvest until my birthday roles around, shortly after Hallowe’en.
From now until the snow flies and the killing cold comes on the heels of the longest night, we’re in the season of the witch.
Time to tincture, time to brew.
What’s brewing for me?
Time (and my intuition) will tell.

~*~

Motion: Not nearly enough, but Plank every day is still happening, which is something.
 
Attention: Paying attention to the way I watch people’s body language, check-in a LOT when they look stressed/uncomfortable/distant, noticing how often this happens with masc folks in particular, and wondering how much of my over-performance of emotional labour relates to the genderedness of emotional labour (which is heavily fem(me)inized) and whether or not my fretful/soothing (freeze & please, mend & tend) reaction to someone else effectively Doing “Resting Bitch Face” While Masc is entirely a case of hyper-awareness around other people Being Displeased (which is, of course, my responsibility to manage…) or if it’s actually a reaction to someone “failing” to smiiiiiiiile or otherwise perform “everything’s great, and I’m engaged in the proceedings”… It’s a weird thought-process to follow, but at least I’m noticing it now.
 
Gratitude: Grateful for ripening squash. For a new-found urban fruit tree near my wife’s workplace (ish) that is ready for harvest (it miiiiight be plums?). For the chance to see Against Me perform in Montreal. For old acquaintances blossoming into friends who want to come for weekend visits, and for new friends making the time to get to know me. For the chance to share knowledge and canning techniques and recipes with people who want to learn. Grateful for the slow return of body responsiveness, too.
 
Inspiration: Necessity, in many cases. What do I do with a dozen ripe and over-ripe pears? What do I do with four stale cherry-chocolate-chip muffins? How do I stretch this grocery budget farther than I did last month? (Answer: Make a lot of cheap eggs-flour-milk desserts like pear upside-down cake and chocolate-custard bread pudding with pears, plus Add Beans to Everything). Beyond that? I’m reading Bill Pfeiffer’s Wild Earth, Wild Soul which… has some good stuff, I think, but which is also getting my White Hippie Side-Eye going pretty hard in a couple of places. His “Wild Earth Intensives” are a neat idea, but I’d like to see what I can do to rejig some of the techniques for a decidely urban landscape.
 
Creation: I’ve mostly been creating in the kitchen these days, cobling together recipes for sage pesto, pickled pie cherries, and a slasa that involves more dried fruit than last year’s did. Today, I’m finishing off a sweater (minus the trim, which I’ll get done over the next few weeks). Poetry Critique Group is approaching again, so I need to get on that with some new pieces.

New Year New You 2016: Week Twelve – Every Day You’re Hustling

I’m doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation (again) because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. You should try it!
 
Instructions: This week is about putting your money where your mouth is. I want you to keep a daily journal. In it, talk about what you’ve done that day to accomplish your goal(s).
 
Tarot Card: Eight of Disks. This one was a bit of a no-brainer. The Eight of Earth is all about the daily grind, about getting it done, day in and day out, about the dilligence it takes to stick to a task until you get good at it (practice, practice, practice), which is what this week’s prompt is about. In the Wooden Tarot, the Eight of Bones is a spine, calling up both “put your back into it” and “don’t chicken out (don’t be spine-less)”, which touch on this week’s prompt while also acknowledging the “continuing in spite of your fears and doubts” elelments of Week Eleven.
 
But here’s a thing. In the collective tarot, whose suit of earth is also called Bones, the Eight of Bones is a ribcage, with a crysalys at its heart.
 

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

Eight of Bones – Collective Tarot
A ribcage with eight ribs. There is a crysalys nested in the sternum over (or in place of) the heart. Above the crysalys hangs the figure-8 of the infinity symbol, echoing the transformative potential of The Magician in the Major Arcana. Below the ribcage, fiddlehead ferns are starting to unfurl.


 
That’s what the daily grind, the dedication, will get you. Personal evolution. Personal transformation.
 
Every time I (grudgingly) do plank to build my core-strength and literaly take the pressure off my spine; every time I pause to check in with my body, to see what feels good, to see what feels at all; every time I answer my journaling questions for Life Coaching; every time I push myself to stay with hope (which is so, so scary)… every time I do any of that, I’m letting the crysalys around my heart get a little more mature, I’m letting my internal changes move a little farther on the journey from where I was to where I want to be.
 
Miss Sugar asks:

Have you made you an option instead of a priority?

 
This isn’t easy.
 
Taking time out for myself – when my whole life feels like “free time” half the time, when I get so angry at myself for still being a tumult of anxiety[1] in spite of having rigged my life so that I mostly don’t have to deal things that are uncomfortably beyond my control[2] – it feels like… It feels like “Gods, Meliad, do you have to baby yourself even more than you already do???”
 
But the whole point of my Queen of Cups Project is to be more capable of receoptivity, of accepting kindness, pleasure, care, Good Things, into my life and my body without getting all freaked out about it. To be able to receive, as well as give, with an open heart (and open legs). To be able to trust instead of self-sabotaging thanks to my insecurities. To be able to trust realistically and with good boundaries rather than flinging myself off a cliff, so to speak, and hoping my reckless trust will prove I’m worthy of not shattering on the rocks.
… And doing that means I have to be able – be willing and able – to be good to myself, to be trust-worthy to myself, to follow-through with, and take care of, my Self.
 
So. If you’ll excuse me, I have Exercises I need to work through, and salsa I need to finish canning.
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Fun Fact: There is a farely good chance that I have “generalized anxiety disorder”, and have had it since childhood! I’m not looking to get a diagnosis, since meds are probably not the way to go here, but having that “Oh… that explains a lot…” moment after self-diagnostic test #3 came up with the same result, plus having a better idea of which strategies and techniques for managing this stuff are most likely to work? It’s been a big help.
 
[2] I work from home, I work with my wife, I do an outside-the-house job that I’m extremely good at and valued for. I may be broke all the time, but I’m also able to keep us somewhat-creatively fed on limited cash. I know how to rig the odds and ask for advice/information from My People through tarot, I put effort into maintaining the relationships I have with my awesome, reliable friends whom I can count on, I live down town so that I can walk everywhere, and can’t use “But… transit…” as an excuse not to leave the house and try new things, etc, etc…

The Tower – What Are You Willing to Let Burn in Order to Get Free?

So, as-you-know-bob, I got a Mary-El tarot deck not too long ago. I brought it to a friend’s place the other day to show it off, and she went through all the cards and checked it out.
 
She commented on how the 16 of MA in this card looks like the statue of liberty on fire. And it totally does.
I commented to her that, if this card turned up in a reading – because The Tower showing up in a reading tends to freak people out – I would ask the querant “What do you need to let burn in order to get free?”
 
Fast forward two hours.
I’m sitting in a café, down town, and I pull out my deck and ask my gods, via the cards, to “tell me something new” about what I need to do in order to get where I want to go.
Guess what turned up.
 
the-tower-situation
 
My situation card is The Tower.
Now check out my crossing card:
 
situation-and-crossing-card
 
I look at that absolutely wrathful phoenix overlayed on The Tower, and went “Oh… It’s me that’s burning”.
And it is.
That phoenix is me, it’s the Scorpio entering the third phase of existence, it’s the balanced human being that grows out of the “door mat” camel, and the reactive lion, in the Ten of Swords. Old Me is what is burning away. New Me is what will rise from this immolation.
 
Take a look at my Past and Future cards:
 
past-and-future
 
The Devil usually talks about conditioning, learned behaviours, the systemic oppressions under-which we live. It’s The Protestant Revolution and the Spirit of Capitalism. It’s the story in your (or my) head about how The Good Girlfriend makes herself smaller, and smaller, and smaller and doesn’t get to want anything and to demand more than that (so… anything) makes you (me) Unworthy of love and care. BUT, as described by Siobhan over at Little Red Tarot, it’s also the voraciousness of wanting all of it – whether that’s chasing pleasure at the expense of your health (too many hang-overs + not enough sleep?), or the idea of the “superwoman” who wants (or tries) to Have It All (the career, the kids, the house, the spouse, the vacations, and the overtime pay) – and the pull towards what you want… which can be helpful if, like me, you sometimes have trouble sorting out what you actually want, but can also be a major problem when you’re trying to get What You Really, Really Want from someone or something (or both) that is just not capable of providing it (stalkers? Telling yourself that what you want is That Pay Raise when, actually, what you want is to have the work you put into your job be recognized and appreciated in a demonstrable way).
 
In my case, I can read this as, yeah, the conditioning around The Good Girlfriend – that Hunger Makes Me article said all the things about that, so go read it – but also my own bad habits around “relentless hope” and seeing the potential in people, and not taking it well when things don’t go as I was expecting them to.
This is also highly visible if you look at my Obvious and Hidden Influences cards:
 
obvious-influences
 
hidden-influences
 
Yeah. I’m not great at handling change and uncertainty (at the best of times), but particularly not when it comes to interpersonal relationships[1], Expectations (and whether or not I get to have them vs whether or not someone else gets to have them), and all that other stuff. I’m totally getting pissed off about it right this second.
 
Okay.
So The Devil is my Past card. That’s fine. I’d rather that bit was over and done with, even though it’s obviously not all burnt away yet. With any luck (and a tonne of hard self-work, honestly), that Emperor card in the Future spot is all about Self-Mastery.
At least I think it is.
 
It’s the “hard-won internal rules” that Oliver talks about in She Is Sitting In the Night. It’s the breaking of my own chains, as seen in The Rebel. It’s even, as Siobhan says about that Devil in my past, “the feeling of power when you notice you are free to choose”. In the past, I often haven’t felt I had that power, that my choices were “stick it out and take what you get” or “leave, and break your own heart”. Hopefully this Emperor in the Future position means that – rather than (or in addition to?) seeing it as breaking my own heart – I will start to understand that choosing to leave an unfulfilling situation is me taking care of myself, choosing to look for connections that feed me rather than choosing to hang around begging for scraps (see also: my “hopes and fears” card, below). This is the solid foundation, the order-out-of-chaos that I’m trying to create through my life-coaching sessions. This is knowing and having boundaries.
I think.
 
I did say “tell me something new”, though, so maybe I’m missing something?
 
Moving on to the next pair of cards:
 
close-up-picture-broader-picture
 
The Page of Disks is all about trying something new. It’s nascent. The beginning of getting things to manifest In Real Life. It also touches on building self-trust – keeping your commitments, proving yourself reliable.
Taking a step back to get a broader perspective on what’s coming down the pike, though, and I get the Ace of Cups. The seeds of joy, love, emotional fulfillment, connection, happiness all (I gotta hope) to be planted in that good, manifesting earth of the Page of Disks.
 
hopes-and-fears-outcome
 
The Four of Disks in the “fears” (or hopes) position. I read the Four of Earth as “tenuous shelter”. This totally connects with the other Four in this reading, the Emperor card in the Future slot. I have a history (and a present…) of Scarcity Thinking. The Four of Earth is The Miser, the person who can’t share, who really, REALLY believes that nobody has her back and that she has to take care of herself all on her own.
My fear – and it’s totally this – is that I’ll only be able to put myself first if I self-isolate. Like: It’s super-easy to walk away from people in-whom you have no investment. It’s easy not to ache at the knowledge that you can expect a grand total of NOTHING from another person when they aren’t important to you at all. But if I open my heart again… won’t I just end up right back in that Devil situation, pleading for a scrap of regard and offering everything I have in exchange?
I’m totally afraid I’m going to do that, and I’m not at all sure how to mitigate that possibility[2].
 
My outcome card is… Well, it’s not the sunniest card in the deck, to be sure. But it’s not horrible.
The Six cards all have to do with the assumptions we make, and the risks that we take, when it comes to interpersonal relationships. This card is about change and rest. About hard journeys that you’re still capable of making. About coming out the other side of grieving. It’s about getting over it. About moving on. That’s good. Moving on to where, though… That I have no idea.
Hopefully somewhere good.
 
advisor
 
My advisor card is the Heirophant. In this particular image, I can’t tell if she’s being depicted as a distressing, smothering, Mother Church kind of figure, or if she’s (possibly at the same time) the Shekina / Tree of Wisdom that you get (apaprently?) in Kabbalah. Traditional depictions of the Heirophant are frequently based around The Pope. It’s the religious version of The Emperor in all his patriarchal trappings (TRAP-ings. See what I did there?) and not a great card to get. In a lot of the decks I work with, though, the 5 of the Major Arcana actively moves away from this kind of externalized, top-down, mess and towards a whole slew of other possibilities – including a moderately professorial gay Archivist, a dominatrix called The Instructor, a deer-headed Ancestor, and the dark, fertile emptiness of No-Thingness.
This card is about tradition – the way things have always been done, about being aware of one’s own history, where one came from, and one’s own patterns. But it also asks “What kind of ancestor do you want to be?”, what kind of future do you want to create?
 
And then there’s these:
 
over-arching-underlying
 
Over-arching and underlying influences.
See the way the High Priestess – she who dives deep into the murk of my unconscious to drag up soggy napkins with messages drawn in pictures, done in painstaking crayon lines, for my words-using conscious brain to try, try, try to understand – echoes the Wheel of Fortune? See how the red and white unicorn-lovers of the Two of Cups echo the colours of Solomon and Bilquis as The Lovers? See how Bilquis, Queen of Wisdom, is both the High Priestess and the shadow-potential Shekina of the Heirophant? How Solomon is the Emperor who’s allowed his heart to split, to be vulnerable?
Yeah, that.
The underlying influence is basically me dealing with my own brain (as always). The over-arching one is how Me and My Stuff can still handle, and fully experience, human connection.
 
Alright then. Onwards we go.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Those “I’ll see you when I see you” folks… I don’t know how you do that. Because, when I see that happening, all I can think is “Yeah… Do you notice that you NEVER see them? Like you don’t demand to be a priority (not even THE priority, just A priority), so they just don’t bother prioritizing you, and they only ever call when they want you to help them out with something.”
But then, if someone is totally okay with “I’ll see you when I see you”, maybe they’re also totally comfortable with “you’ll see me when you see me” and are good at saying Nope and not throwing tonnes of energy and attention and time at people who aren’t offering the same level of investment? I don’t even know.
 
[2] And, for example, I’m a little worried that I’ll try to mitigate that by cutting and running at the first sign of even potential trouble, and (a) shooting myself in the foot, but also probably (b) hurting someone else who wasn’t necessarily hurting me.

Tomato-Peach (Nectarine & Apricot, Actually) Salsa 2016

Hey!
 
So today I started my tomato-canning extravaganza. Last year I tried to do it all in one go, and it was an awesome marathon that I did with an awesome friend. This year, I’m doing things a little bit more lightly (and late enough in the tomato year that I can get 20lbs of romas for $10 at the market – woohoo!) and processing one 20lb box per weekend.
 
Today, I did a little over 2L salsa (with another 4L(?) crushed tomatoes cooking down on the stove as we speak). I used last year’s Very Easy Crushed Tomatoes starting point and adapted the salsa recipe for what I had available.

Tomato-Peach Salsa

Start with ~2L Very Easy Crushed Tomatoes (or what I had in my 1-gallon pot after I’d cooked everything down to the point where it was thick, but not too-much-so).
Dice 1 small-medium yellow cooking onion and rough-chop 4 large cloves of garlic.
Pit and dice six ripe nectarines (you end up with about 3C of diced fruit – I went with nectarines because leaving the skin is much less bother).
Using scissors, snip 3 mild dried chili peppers (I used dried New Mexico chilies, but you could also dice up ~4 fresh jalapenos if you wanted to)
Crush up half a cup of dried tomatoes (which I had left-over from last year, and which will help to make the salsa nice and chunky)
Dice 8 dried apricots so that they’re nice and small (if you have LOTS of nectarines, feel free to skip this and add another cup of fresh fruit, but I wanted to keep some for fresh-eating + see above re: adding dried stuff will help things to thicken and be Nice And Chunky)
Add everything to the crushed tomatoes and mix until well incorporated
Add to the mixture: 1.5 tbsp dried cilantro, 1.5 tbsp dried basil, and 0.5 tbsp dried red chili flakes
Cook down (over low heat, otherwise it will totally scorch to the bottom of the pot) until the mixture has thickened up nicely
While the salsa thickens, sterilize some pint jars. I used a water-bath this year
Into each pint jar, add: 1 tbsp vinegar, 1 dried very-hot chili pepper (I used dried Arbol chilies, but you could use fresh Thai/Bird chilies if you wanted to)
Pour/ladel salsa into hot, sterilized jars
Cap and process in a boiling water bath for 15-20 minutes
Pull the jars out of the bath and let them cool (listen for the that tells you they’ve sealed properly)
 
Makes 4.5 PINTS or a little over 2L. I probably could have stretched this to 5 pints if I’d added another diced nectarine, another half-cup of crumbled dried tomatoes, and another (small) onion, but c’est la vie.
 
 
~*~
 
And there you have it.
I use my salsa for dipping chips (duh), but I also use it in place of diced tomatoes when I want to do a nice, thick ragu – add some curry powder & cinnamon/nutmeg + left-over meat and/or tinned beans and serve it over rice.
 
Enjoy!

New Year New You 2016: Week Eleven – Casting Out Doubt

I’m doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation (again) because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. You should try it!
 
Instructions: “[…]Use a method of your own choosing to banish the negative energy” or otherwise communicate with your own Jerk Brain to get it to give you a break.
 
Tarot Card(s): Page of Water, Queen of Earth (and, yes, my Mary-El deck arrived a few weeks ago, thense the links to images from that deck for this post). Neither of these cards explicitely have to do with Casting Out Doubt. But they’re relevant for a couple of reasons, one being that I did a two-card pull that relates to my Queen of Cups Project (and various points there-within such as my life-coaching sessions and the Plan that is to Get My Groove Back, so to speak) and I didn’t even pull these two cards, they just popped right out of the deck, like: Here’s your answer, kiddo. (This deck is proving very accurate on the jumpers front, so far, I’m just saying…).
Anyway, so there’s that. I’ll get into that a little more later, mind you. The other reason why these are relevant to the “casting out doubt” prompt is that the first one – being a Page card – is about approaching things (feeeeelings) with curiosity, rather than fear, while the second one is very much about being rooted and steady (rather than riddled with anxiety). the combination is basically a case of “Here’s something you can do instead of assuming the worst and spinning about it all the time”.
Useful? I think so.
 
ANYWAY.
 
So, as-you-know-bob, I am a BIG fan of ritual/magical baths as a form of spell-casting and Creating Change At Will. unsurprisingly, my method of casting out doubt involved (a) having a giant, scrubby shower (and, yeah, some Stuff came up during the shower, and I was just, like, “Don’t be mean to yourself. Let all that stuff just sluff off and let it go”. Which… we’ll see if that bit sticks, honestly, but I gave it a go), and (b) taking a sensual-glamourous bath after the fact to soak in (and soak up) something better to fill that vacuum left when I got rid of all the EUGH[1].
So.
The other day, I went out and gathered a whole wack of “second chakra associated” flowers and leaves. I picked bergamot petals, geranium blossoms, rose petals, rose leaves, and motherwort[2] tops (mostly leaves). All sorts of pinks and reds. I wound up explaining to a newly-arrived-home couple just what, exactly, they had growing under their tree (Motherwort – see footnote[2]). They’d asked if they had “something special”, since I was obviously investigating the weedy patch they’d (woohoo) missed with the mower.
 
I wound up waiting a solid 48 hours or more before I actually took my bath, though.
I kind of think that’s telling, seeing as the whole idea was to open up my centre of drive, passion, confidence, and sex… and I was consistently putting it on the back-burner while I got other stuff done. :-\
Hm.
 
But I took my bath: all the petals plus dried bay leaves, sea salt & epsom salts (to draw out any residual gunk), and essential oils of rosemary, clary sage, ylang ylang, and sweet orange.
Soaked and floated in the hot water. Did Child’s Pose to open my hips, and breathed in the smell of all those oils and flower petals.
 
Got interrupted towards the end, a young woman (possibly from Korea, going by the alphabet her phone was using) who’d taken a wrong turn trying to find her airBnB. This is most likely Just A Fluke, but I’m choosing to read it as any of the following:
Sometimes people turn up in your life when you’re not expecting them and/or when it’s not entirely convenient. Just go with it.
Things are not always going to go according to your internal scrips. See above and just go with it.
See also: Have a sense of humour about it, for fuck’s sake.
 
I can still smell rosemary on my skin.
I hope this is one more thing that will help me open myself up without seeing every damn thing as a threat. Which… I guess I can use as a handy segue?
 
About that tarot reading!
It was a “who” and a “how” card to answer the question: “Who and how do I need to be in order to open myself up the way I want and need to?”
The page of water and the queen of earth, respectively, fell out of the deck almost as soon as I started shuffling.
So that’s apt.
WHO: The Page of Cups says “be in the moment”. It says “learn to trust” and “trust the learning”. The Page of Cups is very much me on a lot of levels, just figuring this heart stuff out (after nine years of working my ass off for it, still just figuring stuff out) but also being neck-deep in it all the time. It’s very much what my Life Coach is trying to help me do, with regards to approaching pleasure and relationships with curiosity rather than trepidation. It says be loyal, be devoted, be compassionate and supportive of yourself as well as others. Be emotionally vulnerable.
BUT
HOW: The Queen of Earth says “don’t fling yourself off a cliff to do it”. Offer that loyalty, devotion, compassion wisely. Make sure you have an oxygen mask of your own, rather than hoping someone else will pass you one in the event of an emergency. Explore, see where things go, walk into this stuff with joy and hope. For sure. But also make sure that you can stand solid on your own. Be aware of what you value, what you want and what you need, as you go out exploring. You can be emotionally vulnerable, you can let your heart be curious, because you can pull back and prioritize yourself when you need to. (Which is also part of the Life Coaching stuff, as it turns out).
 
The Queen of Earth, in the Mary-El deck, is weaping diamonds. It makes me think of this post I wrote just before C ended our relationship. In this context, I read it as “there is value is showing your emotions” and also “experiencing your bodiliness, letting your feelings come through your body, isn’t weak. Quite the opposite”. There are a million ways to interpret a given tarot card but this seems like a relevant way to read this one today.
 
So. That was how I went about Casting Out Doubt. It’s been helping. Every time I pass a rose bush (which are still quite fragrant in these parts, even as the flowers are fading), I catch the scent and breathe in love and gratitude. It’s a nice reminder and it helps me stop spinning my self-doubt wheels.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] That’s a thing to keep in mind. If you banish something, it can be a good idea to fill the void the banishment leaves with something you actually WANT (either by putting it there, or by ritually inviting it to take up residence), so that you don’t end up with either (a) the same damn shit again, OR (b) just any old thing that happened to be in the area filling in the available psychic/physical/emotional space. A bit like my tarot-pull being all “Here’s what to do INSTEAD of the disfunctional thing you’ve always done”.
 
[2] Motherwort calms the heart (it makes a good anti-anxiety tincture, similar to skullcap in that regard, but much muuuuuuch easier to get ahold of in urban areas as it grows quite happily in disturbed ground like construction sites), builds self-trust and confidence, bolsters libido, and attracts joy, success, & a sense of purpose. It encourages listening/discerning one’s heart’s desires and has associations with Venus, Freja, and Ogun (er… apparently). It can come and live in my garden any time.

Common Motherwort (Leonurus Cardiaca)

Aug 30 – Sep 22 ~ Our Luckiest, Most Loving Mercury Retrograde Yet!

GOSH, I HOPE SO. (Started therapy 9 years ago…)

Alex Myles

On August 30th 2016 Mercury stations retrograde in Virgo and as Mercury rules Virgo, this is going to be a highly loving, affectionate, harmonious, memorable period.

Often we dread Mercury retrograde as it can bring with it many problems and difficulties, particularly surrounding communication with our friendships and relationships. However, this time Venus and Virgo are both going to be influential, making it a time filled with love, appreciation, acceptance, romance, forgiveness and making amends for any previous misunderstandings.

Usually we are cautioned to tread carefully during these few weeks, but this time luck and fortune are on our side and we are in for a huge awakening, as we feel optimistic, rational, courageous and ready for the intense energy that is about to flow through us.
The main thing we need to remember so that we sail through this period is to remain consciously aware and alert so that…

View original post 1,066 more words

New Moon – Apple Moon Begins

I harvested pears today.
 
My over-the-fence neighbour has a big pear tree in their back yard. The kind of thing they might have planted 40-odd years ago, as newlyweds. This year – probably due to the drought conditions – a big branch broke part-way, and ended up hanging low over the fence into the yard I share with my heavily-gardening neighbour (the branch, I though, was semi-supported by her enormous squash-trellis, though that may not have been the case after all).
 
Anyway. I talked to the pear-tree neighbour, and then I talked to the squash-trellis neighbour, and then my wife got her ladder back from a friend, and today I picked as many pears as I could reach (not actually that many – maybe 6-7 dozen?) and, after dropping 2 dozen off with the squash-trellis neighbour (the pear-tree neighbour had assured me that they had more than enough on their side of the fence and happily invited me to harvest what I could reach), I chopped up most of the rest and put them through the food processor.
 
2/3 of the puree are bubbling away in my slow-cooker, and the remaining third will be doing the same thing, this time tomorrow. It’s all being made into pear butter (with a little bit of nutmeg, some balsamic vinegar, and some maple sugar thrown in). I don’t know if I’ll get any apples for making apple butter, so having this on hand is pretty great. YAY for free food!
 
Also in the realm of opportunisit harvesting, I’ve got a lot of choke cherries (and choke-cherry purree) in my freezer, which will be used to make at-home preserves, but may also be incorporated into a chokecherry-chutney-based canning workshop that I might (fingers crossed) get to run for local queers. I hope so. (If not: more chokecherry preserves for me. I don’t mind).
Likewise, I’ve got half a dozen one-cup jars of crab-apple jelly in the cupboard, after picking crab apples across from the laundromat last week. I’m inclined to make another batch but stick a dried chili into each jar, because I think that would taste pretty swell.
 
So! New Moon! Solar Eclipse! Mercury in Retrograde (again…)!
Chani says that now is a big time for Scorpio-me and my friendships – some of them are growing, some of them are kick-starting, some of them are coming out of the woodwork (and some of them aren’t), and tells me (here, and in my Cancer-Rising) that I need to honour the in-between and “trust the ebb and flow of connections” which… that’s pretty accurate, actually. I’ve been having a wonderful spate of connections-with-new-friends and reconnections-with-pre-existing-friends, and I am loving it. I feel “popular”, if you can believe it. Which is weird, and I kind of don’t want to jinx it? I’m hoping I can keep building these relationships because…
 
…Because I have a weird (or, y’know, not weird…?) habit of self-isolating and thinking that I’m less likely to get hurt if I’m “on my own” and I’m noticing that, hey, just because I’m not frantically chasing after an emotionally unavailable partner or spending hours of my time trying to work out what their unspoken rules are just so I can maintain a relationship with them… that doesn’t mean I’m “on my own”. Quite the opposite.
What it does mean is that I’m not exhausting myself and have space and time to build and strengthen relationships that are based on mutuality and that are with people whose interests and passions and values overlap my own to a noticeable degree.
 
It’s pretty fucking great.
 
Which is not to say I don’t still spiral and spin my wheels when a new friends unexpectedly drops off the map. All of that “honour the in-between” stuff is something I have a hell of a time doing. My Life Coach is fore-warning me that Step Three is probably going to be All About the Boundaries[1], and managing All The Feelings around those abbs and flows and uncertainties is very much on my “things to learn” list because I’m very, very bad at.
So, yeah. Chani’s Scorpio scope is feeling pretty spot-on right now.
 
Corina, over at Autostraddle, asks me (and all you other Scorpios) which secrets it’s time to share, and points out that “what you decide to share can help you feel lighter, freer, and much closer to the ones you share them with”. (See also: Brené Brown’s whole “shame thrives in secrecy” stuff). I’m digging into my brain and trying to root out the stuff I want to let go of. Easier said than done.
 
So many of my friends have been commenting that they can feel Autumn in the air. Autumn is the season of cups. Even if we’re not there yet – still in the slightly manic sprint of canning all the things, and slightly giddy with the abundance all those gleaming jars and packed freezer-bags imply/display – the nights are getting longer and cooler and I can smell the Gathering In on its way. We may be in Fruit Time right now (and I am trying to get out dancing as often as possible while I still can!), but Root Time – with its introspection and icy roads – is coming. What kind of stuff is going to come bubbling to the surface of my internal swamp as the temperatures drop?
 
I’ve had three (or more) weeks off from my wife’s workshop – an unexpected vacation that is about to come to an end Big Time – and I’ve been socializing and going to writers’ groups and all sorts of things. It’s been wonderful. I hope I can keep it up once I’m back to making harnesses a couple of days a week (you’ve got to wonder about my time-management skills, if two days of work per week puts such a crimp in my creative output, social life, and home-making projects…). Fingers crossed.
 
This year’s tomato-canning marathon will probably be chopped into 2-3 weekends, rather than doing a 2-3 day sprint all at once. Salsa, crushed tomatoes, and sauce, with an emphasis on the first two. Maybe some pickled cherries while I’m at it. I’m excited – of all things – to do the repetitive tasks involved with a heavy run of canning. Keeping my hands busy (knitting does the same thing, so does prepping harness webbing) frequently results in a poem or two percolating away at the same time, and I’ve got high hopes for the next chunk of “How to Cook a Heart”.
 
Harvest season is very much upon us. My house smells like pears and nutmeg and maple sugar. I have books to read and people to geek out with about them. My wife and I have new bedsheets (among other things). Life is pretty amazing.
 
 
~*~
 
Motion: There has been a LOT of walking lately (my hips and feet are sore as a result). Also body-scan exercises that, while not exactly “motion” in the sense that I was thinking when I started writing these prompts, are definitely meant to get me into my body. So far, so good? I think?
 
Attention: Trying to spot my spirals before they start (or at least before they start getting out of hand). Reading She is Sitting in the Night (Oliver Pickle, Metonym Press), which is a Little Book that offers a reinterpretation of Thea’s Tarot – the whole idea is that this piece of actively queer tarot (that is a product of its time) is being re-understood by someone a generation later (this second interpretation is also a product of its time). It’s neat to read a Little Book for a tarot deck I don’t have. It’s one more angle on the cards, one more scrap to add to my mental collage of what each of the cards means.
 
Gratitude: Thankful for scary-but-necessary conversations with my wife (and ensuing changes that are working out quite nicely, thanks). Thankful for awesome people who want to hang out with me (who knew?). Thankful for folks who return emails/messages/etc quickly, because I find that very validating.😉 Thankful for free pears from the neighbour. Thankful for free fruit on city trees. Thankful for a poetry-critique group that had suggestions for how to fix my poems (YAY!). Thankful for slightly cooler temperatures and LOTS of overnight rain falling (and the four butternut squashes that are just, juuuuust starting to develope-as-fruits on my squash vine).
 
Inspiration: Using (or continuing to use) the suit of Earth as a skeletal structure for poetry. I’ve been diving deep into tarot meanings, trying to get my head around how the fours (or the sevens, or the nines) work together and complement each other (and related to the corresponding cards in the MA).
 
Creation: See above. Poetry comes. Not easily, necessarily, but the struture is helping. So is having a critique group to go to every three weeks – it means I need to come up with two new poems (and polish them) every three weeks, and it helps to have the deadline.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Boundaries 101 = Where I start and You have to stop. Boundaries 201 = Where YOU start and I have to stop. Boundaries 301 = How to handle it (gracefully and ideally with as little grief as possible) when there is a gap between where I stop and where You stop, and I want to close the gap and You don’t and how do I stop offering you every damn thing when you are not stepping up and matching me? Yeah… Boundaries 301 is not something I’m good at, at all