New Moon – Ice Moon Begins

Last Friday I got to watch the temperature plummet from a distressingly high and seasonally bizarre +12C to something closer to -19C (which kept right on falling. It’s only “warmed up” back to -19ish today). I’m just glad things dropped fast enough that the pouring rain turned to ice pellets before it hit (and therefore froze to) the ground.
Ice Moon indeed. O.O
 

“Winter in Parry Sound B” (Photo by Jennifer Aitkens via Wikimedia Commons).
Thick, heavy layers of icicles formed on a rock cut outside Parry Sound, Ontario. Snow in the foreground.


 
Liz Worth reminds us that:

New moons are invitations, times to set intentions, to focus on moving forward, to take a step towards a new reality.

 
She says that, because this is the first New Moon of the calendar year, it’s a good time for big-picture stuff, and asks people to think about where they would like to be by the time December 2018 rolls around. Maybe it’s that Earthy Capricorn Energy, or maybe it’s the “EEEEEK it’s the middle of the month and next month’s rent is not yet in the bank!!!” scramble, but my Very Immediate Answer was “Financially Stable and also Published Multiple Times in Various Places”.
Both Liz and The Hoodwitch point out that Earthy Capricorn is an extra-excellent time for “planting seeds” and intention-setting, for focusing on, and inviting in, what you Really Really Want. A good time to do workings for stability stuff, money stuff, abundance stuff, and career stuff. But also for security stuff. Worthiness stuff.
…Basically all the STUFF that I, personally, have a heck of a time with.
 
A case in point:
When I pulled my Meditation Tarot Card, what I drew was the Page of Swords.
In the Next World deck, whence I drew this card, it’s called “The Home of Action” and features a young person slicing through a chain-link fence. Decisive. Sure in their rightness, even as they’re looking for something.
In the Collective Tarot, this card is the Seeker of Feathers: watchful, eyes on the sky. In the Slow Holler deck, it’s the Student of Knives, and our page is taking a good, long look in the mirror. In the Osho Zen deck, it looks like this:
 

Osho Zen Trot – Page of Clouds (air): “Mind”.
A portrait of a person whose distressed eyes and stress-set mouth are fixed in a mess of over-worked gears, smoke stacks jut from their head, pumping out exhaust. Their neck and shoulders are fractured 2x4s, suggesting boarded up buildings, abandoned factories and homes.


 
This is so very much the card of “overthinking it”, which I tend to do.
Except when it’s the home of making a damn decision.
 
Given my Two of Swords card, which I pulled on New Year’s, I’m inclined to read this as a little bit of both. “Don’t over think it, just make a move”.
So.
What am I doing?
I’m currently going through my backlog of poetry (like upwards of ten years of poetry) deciding what stuff I’m up for sending out and trying to get published. I have specific magazines that I’m targeting, and each of them has a theme they’re working with for the issue I’m submitting to.
There is a liiiiiittle bit of over-thinking going on? But not a lot. It’s more “Are these specific poems (a) good enough, and (b) on theme enough for them to be READY to send out”. But I seem to be avoiding most of the angsty “What if they’re (meaning “I’m”) not good enough????” stuff that I tend to hampster-wheel on, so at least there’s that.
 
Hoodwitch says to dream big, and carry those dreams with you as you do the work of feeding them.
Time to do some more writer magic. 🙂
 
~*~
 
Movement: Walking to modeling gigs, shoveling snow. (I finally did the back walk today, since it warmed up enough to do it). I think I need to do more (or any) lifting, since I get out of breath when doing shoveling short-burst shift-and-haul stuff in a way that I don’t when I’m doing low-impact, long-duration stuff (whether that’s carrying 20lbs of groceries home on a half-hour walk, or going dancing for a couple of hours). Not sure how much of that is holding my breath while I shovel, though. Not sure why I do that, but it’s definitely a thing that I’ve noticed.
 
Attention: The baby queers who take the art classes I model for. ❤
 
Gratitude: Getting paid. Friends who hire me. Ancestors who look out for me in really concrete ways. Encouragement. A wife who likes to hang out with me. A tiny bird who likes to hang out with me, too. Modeling work that is fulfilling and makes me happy. Friends who want to spend time with me. People who trust me with their mailing addresses. Wine and cookies and a roast with my wife. Friends from out of town who make a point of staying in touch. Sunshine sparkling on snow. Butter and cheese both being on sale. Knowing how to spin and bead and otherwise make pretty things from hella scratch. My wife’s laugh that she shares with me. ❤
 
Inspiration: Crows. Magic. The contents of my herbs-and-spices cupboard. The phases of the Moon.
 
Creation: Very little right now. I’m working on edits rather than writing new stuff this week. However I do foresee some hand-spinning (with a drop spindle) in the very near future. 😉

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Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble – A “Productive Home” Post

Erica, over at NWedible, is doing a Productive Home Weekly Report thing (or was – it’s been a while for her, just as it’s been for me), and has invited people to chime in with their own productivity reports.
I’m… not totally fussed about tracking productivity (as you may have noticed). It feels a bit like giving myself a performance review. BUT, if I think of it as an opportunity to brag about the awesome-fun-cool stuff I’ve been doing/planting/harvesting/cooking/baking/canning/fermenting/etc chez moi that I’m really excited about… it gets a whole lot easier.
So here we go.
 
The thing I want to show off? I recently tried fermenting apple cider.
My sister sent me a fancy fermentation crock for making sour kraut and other brine-pickled veggies. The crock itself broke in transit – as happens sometimes when you ship something by bus across four provinces – but it came with an airlock which, tbh, I’m rather more excited about than the jar.
I had a whole jug of grocery store sweet cider left over from Winter Solstice, a recently acquired package of bread yeast, and NOW a shiny airlock! 😀
What could go wrong??
 
Remarkably? Just about nothing. (I feel semi-confidant saying this, for reasons you’ll learn shortly, but I’m still knocking on wood about it).
 
So. I know that, when fermenting beverages, it’s ideal to use something like champagne yeast, which can survive a high-alcohol-content environment and keep right on eating sugar – which is what you need if you want to get wine-levels of alcohol in your drink (12%-15% – I have no idea what the right fermentation terminology is on this one, so I’m just going with what tends to be written on the bottles). However I’ve had “apple wine”, and it tastes like apple cider with too much alcohol in it (easy alternative: Heat some up and then add a shot of spiced rum or cinnamon schnapps or something).
I was going for something more like “what people drink when they don’t like the taste of hopps”. Something with the 5%-ish alcohol levels of “alternative-to-ugh-beer cider”.
Which bread yeast can do just fine.
 
So I tipped half a teaspoon or so of fine bread yeast into the mouth of my cider jug, filled up my airlock with water, and packing-taped it to the mouth of the jug (they are the same size, and this is way easier than drilling out a hole in the middle of the lid, so that’s what I did).
I sat the already-starting-to-bubble cider in a glass baking dish, so that if/when things spilled over a little, I wouldn’t have a mess on my hands (this was a good idea – there wasn’t much spillage, maybe a teaspoon or two over the course of a couple of weeks, but it would have been sticky and gross if I hadn’t given it a spill-dish), and put the whole thing somewhere out-of-the-way.
 
And then I waited.
 
While I waited, I did a few other things on the Bubbling Cauldron front. Namely, I reorganized my chest freezer and, in the process, pulled out the leaf lard and the stock bones that came with Sir Francis Bacon, our (half of a) Large Black pig whom we put in the freezer in 2015.
 
To that end, I put up about a gallon (only a gallon – I didn’t use all the bones, because I want to be able to do this again sooner rather than later) of soup stock earlier this week and, more recently, finished putting up about three litres of rendered lard.
Re: Lard: I put the rolls of leaf lard into my slow cooker and heated them up on the “keep warm” setting. once it was warm enough to melt, I ladled the liquid fat into silicon muffin trays and let it solidify in the fridge (or in a snow bank, outside) before putting it into tubs in the freezer. We’ve still got some spicy shmaltz (uh… chicken fat for cooking with, it’s a Yiddish word, iirc, the same way English has tallow and lard and maybe lanolin – although I’m not sure if lanolin applies to ALL sheep fat or just the stuff that comes off the wool) in the fridge right now, so it’ll be a minute before I start using this lard to fry onions and otherwise cook savoury stuff on the stove, but it feels good to have it done.
 
I’ve also topped up the salt water in my sunchoke and beet pickles (and skimmed the mold off the surface of the water – it’s fine, that’s the whole point of keeping everything submerged in saline, the mold can’t actually grow in that salty & airless an environment), and decanted my kombucha (which I’ll have to do again later today, along with checking the sour kraut in the fridge and… doing something… with the kefir grains, because the cream they were in is definitely kefir cheese by now, and I’m not at all sure what to with it at this point).
 
Anyway. A couple of weeks have gone by, I’ve done some stuff – making stock and rendering lard – that make me feel resourceful and competent and, incidentally, give me extra free stuff with-which to cook. The boiled bones and the crackling left-over from making lard will go out to the compost heap for feeding the crows and/or anyone else who happens to come by.
It’s been long enough that I decided that today was the day to transfer my somewhat fermented-smelling cider to a different jug.
 
I’d hung onto the plastic jug from the sweet cider I mulled and served at Solstice, originally with the plan to use it to make mead (in much the same way, fyi, and that’s still the plan, even if I end up decanting it into old wine bottles that I re-label with a sharpie), so it was definitely the right size to take on a jug’s worth of the same stuff, only recently fermented.
 
I strained it through the sieve I use for decanting my kombucha – which probably means the whole thing is still full of dead yeast, even if I think I managed to keep most of it from sluicing through – and it was quite fizzy going into the new jug.
 
I haven’t tried any of it yet. I want to give it a month or two[1] in the fridge for a second ferment, I think it’s called, much slower (and less-likely to overflow for that reason) and a little bit gentler. I’m hoping it will clear the Slightly Funky smell underneath all the apples and sparkles – I’ve done a slightly-fermented tissane drink by filling an old wine bottle with sweet hibiscus tea and dropping a few grains of bread yeast in, and then letting it sit in the back of the fridge for literally a year. It works. AND there’s a Slightly Funky smell that happened at around the six month mark, so I’m not worried about catching that scent in my cider right now. I just know I need to give it a little more time to even out.
 
Anyway. That, right there, is what I’ve been doing for the past two weeks. I’m excited and hopeful, and looking forward to trying to make mead (ideally with a little bit of pomegranate molasses and some choke cherries thrown in – for tannin, in the second instance – and in time for me to be able to serve it next Winter Solstice).
 
Time to put laundry and books away.
 
TTFN,
Meliad.
 
 
[1] Or more, we’ll see. This might be the kind of thing that waits until Beltane, rather than Ostara, to hit the table, though wouldn’t it be great to serve apple cider pressed at Autumn Equinox half a year later when the days and nights are hanging equal again? I think that would be a lovely connection-point, like summer-honey wine served at Midwinter.

New Year New You 2018: Week One – Making Way

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: “You can’t start putting all this awesome new crap into your life and body until you get rid of the old crap. Old crap here is defined as many things such as relationships that are no longer working, old crutches, clutter of the mind and of the house.”
 
Tarot Card: Two of Swords.
 
202c4-osho2clouds
 
Why am I choosing the two of swords?
Well… Firstly, it was the card I drew at midnight on New Year’s, so it’s kind of sitting with me right now as a Thing To Think About, and secondly because the “two” cards are all cards of “just starting out”. The Aces in tarot are “high” – if we want to mix this with, like, poker metaphors – less like “let’s start at the very beginning” and more like the distillation of a given suits essence. Two is where the journey begins, when you’ve taken your one foot and put it in front of the other for that first completed step. So a “two” seems fitting here, as this is both “promt #1” and the second week of my current project.
Beyond both of those things though, I chose the Two of Swords because one of its messages is “Get out of your own way!”
 
Because, yeah, I get in my own way a LOT. I dither. I second-guess. I straight-up self-sabotage. I run through endless lists of why Trying The Thing is a bad idea that will put me in danger and not result in any pay-off. I’m looking for work right now, and a friend of mine suggested I start a Patreon (or similar) to help fund my poetry projects. The very idea terrifies me. Being vulnerable. Asking for help. O.O
So, naturally, I’m looking for part-time admin work instead.
 
This project isn’t about Receptivity, the way my Queen of Cups project was. But it is about connections and security just as much as it’s about pleasure, creativity, and desire. So it might be something I set up as an experiment, to see what, if anything happens. (<– This is me, telling myself there's not stakes here, no risks, so that I'll actually do it. Maybe. Maybe).
 
As for the questions in the writing prompt:
 
Where would I like to be putting my time? Modeling, writing, dancing, reading, cooking, entertaining with friends, going on dates with my wife and (fingers crossed) other cute queers.
 
Where am I putting my time? Modeling (less than I want to be), writing (slightly less than I want to be), cooking, looking for work, social media, fretting about money, some socializing and dancing, but not as much as I'd like.
 
How can I change this: Well. I can find other work, which would help with the fretting about money, and mean I could stop looking. I’ve contacted my temp agency and my modeling regulars and am sending out resumes, so there’s that. I can spend less time on social media and more time doing cheap/free things with my wife and inviting friends over for pot-lucks and cooking-dates. I can make myself go out dancing (a great thing to plan in January, I realize, but it could happen). I can watch for signs that people might be interested if I flirted with them, and then (if I like them) actually flirt with them and see if they’re responsive. Which might lead to me asking someone out on a date.
All possible. Some achievable entirely under my own power. Some is chance. But that’s why we do magic, right? To push the odds every-so-slightly more towards our own favour. So I guess I have a laundry list of what I need to do with this project.
 
Literal, physical cleaning of the house: At this point, I’ve mostly gotten rid of the stuff I don’t use – though there is a clothing/yarn/fabric swap coming up at the end of the month that I might be able to find a few things for. My house-cleaning is more about managing clutter and keeping on top of the vacuuming and the dishes. I’ve got a rack full of clean dishes, but another rack worth still to do. A lot of things to put back on shelves, clean laundry to put away. If my Saturday (today) tasks have included returning a library book, washing the pots & pans, and finish up the lard-rendering, then my Sunday tasks can be putting away the clean laundry and putting books back on shelves.
 
On a less physical level: Normally I would walk around the house burning incense, but it gives my wife a headache do… It’s been a while, but I think I can still remember how to magic-suds a place with The Elements, so I think that might be what I try.
 
As for emotional baggage… There is so much of it. This project, and the last one, are about letting go of that stuff. But here I am, and so much of it is the same stuff that was weighing me down six years ago. Aegirine stone is a good one for letting go of shame, for getting its hooks out of you, but I don’t have any of that, so I’ll have to make due with what I’ve got.
 
Labradorite – for the courage and power to own one’s gifts
Malachite – for help with making changes and with inviting pleasure and success into one’s life
Moonstone – for fulfilling desires and granting wishes (how very Nine of Cups)
Rose Quartz – for self-love and forgiveness
Charoite – for healing emotional fears
Bloodstone – for (re)aligning ones lower chakras with one’s heart
Carnelian – for waking up one’s root and sacra chakras
Black Onyx – for cleansing negative energetic gunk from one’s system
 
What I’ve been doing: Wearing my black onyx pendant and my cheroite ring in the hopes of pulling some of this nasty stuff right out of me and making room for better stuff (stuff I can call in with the labradorite and rose quartz I wear every day, with moonstone jewelry, with the malachite and bloodstone I have in my treasure box).
 
This post feels like it’s been one long sigh. But wish me luck anyway?

New Year, New You 2018: Week Four (technically – in place of week one) – Be Kind To Yourself

Here we go again, kids.
 
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 particular prompt was originally written for Week Four BUT it comes with the caveate of “do it whenever you hit the first week of January”(or some other culturally significant New Beginnings and Goal Setting date, but mostly early January) regardless of where you are in the exercises. I’m just starting this off, and I feel a bit silly starting it on the prompt that says “Maybe just don’t?” but here we are. This week, the plan is to “give yourself permission to enjoy the fruits of your labor and to give yourself something nice“.
 
Tarot Card: Nine of Cups. I chose this specific iteration of the Queen of Cups partially because it’s from my latest deck – the Next World tarot – which I’m rather excited about, but also because the artist’s write-up in her Little Book says specifically that the Nine of Cups “reminds us to stay glamourous”. (I’m snickering a little because, the last time I did/wrote-up this particular prompt, I was Having The Feels about bad patterns and bad habits and wanting to have a Nine Of Water week and… not really succeeding).
 
I’m having an easier time saying “Nope. Nine of Bottles. This is the Time, this is the Hour” this time around but also am having feelings about bad habits and patterns that I’m spinning in.
I mean, maybe I’m spinning in those particularly well-worn tracks all the time anyway, BUT it’s been hitting me a little harden in the past 48 hours, so there’s that.
 
Anyway. On the subject of Stay Glamourous… You know that I’m doing the Esoteric Experiments in Miss Sugar’s book, Glamour Magic: The Witchcraft Revolution to Get What You Want (yes that link will get me tiny amounts of cash if you buy her book through it). So, partly I chose this card as a reminder not to let myself down on that front, even on Laundry Day. But this card is also about “the magic of self care” and how the sensory (touch, sight, smell) side of my femme-nicity matters a LOT to me feeling good in and about myself. It’s a reminder to be kind to myself by remembering that I’m worthy of pleasure, sensuality, “easy days and pretty things” (to draw on Kathryn Payne’s essay about Lineage in Brazen Femme) and that beating myself up about, or punishing myself through deprivation over, Bad Habits and Patterns isn’t actually going to help me stop perpetuating those things.
 
So.
Two Nice Things for me this week:
1) I upgraded the internet. With a discount, no less. This isn’t actually going to change until Monday, BUT it will mean that my lovely wife and I can watch movies-on-the-internet (and chill, or maybe even “chill”, wouldn’t that be lovely), and also I will worry less about “running out of megabytes” when it comes to uploading stuff as per this particular version of the Nine of Cups. It’s a practical thing, and it doesn’t only benefit ME, and I did it mostly because the internet-provider just happened to call and offer it to me today (which is why I’m aiming to do two things, rather than one), but I did it. I am allowed to have nice things and do not need to exist in austerity all the time.
AND
2) I haven’t entirely decided this one, but chances are good it will involve an afternoon – or maybe even a whole day – spent curled up with either a beloved old book (OR a fascinating new one) and a box of chocolates I got on post-new-years clearance. There will be lounging. I am allowed to do things that are pleasurable purely for the sake of pleasure and do not have to Be Productive all the time.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad.

Full Moon – Snow Moon Crests (Mother’s Night, New Year’s Day, Super Moon)

Full Moon. In Cancer, which is the Moon’s territory. On Monday/Lundi, which is the Moon’s day. My shiny new date-books theme is The Moon (the tarot card, but also the giant ball of rock in the sky and all that she stands for. The date book being what it is, there’s a fair bit of Womb Stuff, too, which is… not as delightful for me now as it was 10-12 years ago, but that’s what it is).
 
I’m enjoying this post over at Little Red Tarot which includes a handy tarot spread that touches on the Moon (what are the gifts of this cycle, this full moon), the Queen of Cups (what does my heart need) and the Queen of Pentacles (what is the work involved in achieving/realizing my desires).
This isn’t a spread I’ve done today. Though it makes me smile because it kind of relates to the one I did do. (More on that in a second).
 
Liz Worth says of this full moon:

The Moon is water. It is an ocean, a heart that waits to swallow you whole.
What will you find when you swim to the bottom? Deep, nourishing love? Or tears? The sweat of pining, of longing for something that was once held dear?
These are deep thoughts for the first day of the year, I know. But this is the space that today’s Moon wants us to occupy.
It wants us to go deep. To get nostalgic. To take stock of what’s been lost and gained, and what hope we still hold for the future.

 
Which… I suppose is kind of happening.
 
A little over two years ago, I started my Queen of Cups project, with the Full moon swimming in Cancer’s ocean of emotions. I finished it all of four months ago, just days before September’s full moon in the healer’s territory of Pisces. Now the moon is full in Cancer again, and I’m looking at bridging my Queen of Cups project – a story about healing into receptivity that turned out to be about having healthy, consciously-fluid boundaries – into a new self-improvement/self-healing project that centers on the sex-and-sensuality, certainty, abundance, interconnectedness, and unapologetic embodiment of the Empress.
 
I did the Bridge Spread from Little Red Tarot, asking how I could bridge my Queen of Cups Project into my in-coming Empress Project and… what I got was actually really frustrating.
Like… You know how tarot is basically story-telling?
You know how everyone has meta-narratives and stories they can’t let go of?
You know how (well, maybe you don’t, but some of you do) I started my Queen of Cups project less than a month before a rather-messed-up relationship came to a very painful end, and that… mess… still feels like unfinished business to me, in significant part because it’s left me suspicious of my desires and uncertain around stuff like the difference between “wanting” to do something and “being willing” to do something. (There will be more on this later – either here, or on a different blog)…
… So it’s not surprising, but it IS extremely irritating, that the story I got from my bridge spread so easily fit the story of “My messed up experience with C and how I’m still dealing with the personal fall-out there-from”.
 
I want to tell a different story.
 
I’m not going to do a full write-up of the spread I laid. Not here, anyway.
Instead, you’re getting the Advisor and the Overarching + Underlying Influences from that reading – the three cards I add to every spread that tend to offer a summary of what I’m supposed to get from it:
 

 
Advisor – Five of Wands (U):
The 5 of wands is about sticking to your convictions while picking your battles, dealing with (or living with) unresolved tensions, and resolving – or at least navigating – internal conflicts.
The Little Book that Cristy C Road wrote to go with her just-released Next World tarot deck (which is the deck I used for the initial spread, even though I also pulled the matching cards from the Silicon Dawn deck) has this to say about the Five of Wands:
It’s possible to do this healing work, and it IS work, in ways that are safe even as they’re a struggle. “What does collaboration look like? Are you co-conspirators able to meet you half-way?”
This is a card about challenging expectations. Maybe other people’s, sure, but in this reading? Definitely my own. (Weirdly, this resonates with the card I pulled at Midnight when the calendar turned over. The two of swords: Acknowledge why you’re guarded, but don’t let that stop you from making decisions and taking action).
 

 
Overarching + Underlying – Eight of Cups (U) + Queen of Pentacles (U)
Stuff about security and leaving the past in the past. Well, that’s… probably relevant.
 
Overarching: In the Osho Zen deck, this card is Letting Go. In the Wildwood deck, it’s Rebirth. The Silicon Dawn deck, as you can see in the picture above, interprets it as a “morning after” promise not to do that again. The folks at Little Red Tarot say, of the eight of cups, “There is great strength in walking away from something that just isn’t working any more. There is great strength in acknowledging the truth and, no matter how hard that truth is, acting from there.” Given that The Tower has shown up for me twice in less than 24 hours… I’m sort of resigned to this one, and hoping it’s something that won’t hurt too much to walk away from.
In the Next World, Cristy C Road calls us to “stay solid and true” (don’t ghost on anybody) but to “follow the path of rebirth with grace and dignity” and not to let your past govern your future.
+
Underlying: Flowering. Coming into your own. The protective bear in her cozy cave. The Queen of Earth is a “come on in, the door’s unlocked” kind of Queen. She’s solid and steady, secure in her resources, her supporters, and her resilience. She’s abile to back up her generous spirit with generous actions. Cristy says: Pursue your power, it’s well-deserved, but don’t lose your compassion.
 
On a related note, the card that fell out of the deck when I was doing this spread? The three of Earth. A reminder that, in whatever endeavor you’re undertaking, (a) you need to acknowledge the work, the labour, the skills, the effort that you bring to the endeavor, while also (b) recognizing that it’s not only on YOU to make The Thing happen or succeed. You are part of a team effort. Value you what you bring to that effort and don’t team up with people who will devalue you or expect you to do everything for them.
 
Anyway.
 
On that note, and with the spectre of The Tower sculking in my future, waiting to tear down whatever needs to go… I’m off to get ready for a casual New Year’s get-together where, hopefully, I be able to give a few readings that are less “resignation and gloom” and more “you got this” to other people.
 
Cheers, and onwards,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
~*~
 
Movement: Not a whole hell of a lot, tbh. It’s been -30 and worse for the past week, and I’ve mostly been holed up avoiding the cold, and grateful for the car rides I’ve been offered to various seasonal events. I even skipped Going Out Dancing last night in favour of board games and good lighting for NYE. Twenty minute walk in the freezing bloody cold coming up shortly though.
 
Attention: I admit to being thoroughly distracted, and prone to showing off, my shiny new Next World deck that arrived last week. 😀 The cards are HUGE (but I have big hands, so I can make it work), and the art is detailed and worthy of the large format. I like the deliberate social justice flavour and the write-ups that are designed with personal and societal healing in mind. Hers is the first Queen of Swords that didn’t rub me the wrong way, but instead looked like someone who might actually be on my side (even if she’s still prone to tough love).
 
Gratitude: Grateful for central heating. For friends who are hella generous with me. For a wife who loves me enough to say Very Clearly that when she asks me stuff, it’s because she actually interested in the answers (as opposed to because she’s monitoring my productivity, or something, which is what my Jerk Brain would suggest). For a mom who is getting the hang of my polyamoury. For being able to make things from scratch (even if I haven’t been doing so at ALL this week). For kindness. For welcome. For the optimism that seems to be hanging around right now. For tenacity. For the possibility that I might actually be able to finish my poetry manuscript this year AND start sending it out (it’s early, and I’m not more than half-done, but it kind of looks like it might be possible, so I’m going with it). For all the good people and things in my life. And for the friends who remind me that it’s okay to want even more.
 
Inspiration: Realizing that the “resolutions egregore” is probably not the best thing from-which to draw inspiration, I’m still doing so. I have at least one friend whose debut book is coming out this year. My wife is feeling happier, and like things have turned a corner for the better when it comes to her business. There’s a lot of optimism floating around my corner of the internet right now, and a lot of people making goals around being kind, pushing towards vulnerability, empathy, inclusion and mutuality. Things feel good right now, and I’m hoping I can grab that feeling and stretch it into something real and lasting. Wish me luck. 😉
 
Creation: Not so much. I’ve done a little bit of knitting, but otherwise? I haven’t really even cooked anything. I’m on vacation until tomorrow, at which point I’ll get back to work on the Femme Glosa Project, on editing poetry submissions, and on cooking actual meals. But today? Today, I’m still being lazy. With that? I’m off to be social. TTFN! 😀

New Moon – Snow Moon Waxes (Winter Solstice)

Happy (belated) Winter Solstice to you all. 🙂
 

A stack of eleven beeswax tealights, with one tealight lit and burning in the foreground (in a small dark green and gold-flecked holder).

A stack of eleven beeswax tealights, with one tealight lit and burning in the foreground (in a small dark green and gold-flecked holder).


 
Tonight, I am drinking left-over red wine and snacking on cookies – rather than doing something sensible like eating left-over pâté on crackers or otherwise diving into something that contains actual protein. My lovely wife (we celebrated five years of marriage on Winter Solstice, btw) is spending the night with her partner and I’m, uh, procrastinating… after spending a day fixing security problems on various social media accounts. FML. At least things seem to be sorted out now, which is a relief.
 
New Moon was a solid week ago. If I were to look out the window, I’d see her – almost half-full and almost half-way up the sky – right now. Only a few days ago she was a hooked crescent, hidden by cloud banks, following the sun towards the western horizon while snow slowly piled up on the steps and I lit candles and poured offering libations inside my cozy house. We started our annual party an hour later than usual (and on the Friday, rather than on Solstice Proper, because it’s hard to get people to come out for a late night when they need to get up for work the next morning) and… it helped. Everything was out and ready (and tidy) with enough time to spare – whether because I gave myself that extra hour, or because a friend came early to help set up… thanks Mercury-Stationing-Direct for that stroke of luck – that I actually had a chance to throw on a nice dress and some party shoes before people started piling through the door.
 
It was so good to have a house full of people again!
 
It’s not that I forget. It’s that the amount of prep that goes into officially Hosting a thing leaves me wondering how much clean-up I can reasonably handle – both before and after the fact. But having people over makes me happy, it stirs up the energy (and forces me to vacuum, which ALSO stirs up the energy, and helps it cycle through rather than stagnating), makes me smile, and helps me bring my Queen of Wands side – the fabulous femme hostess with the mostess – to the fore. I need to make time for more of this in my life.
 
On the glamour front, I’m working at presenting myself a little harder. I’ve talked about using pinterest to show myself what “glamourous” looks like to me, and it’s… a lot of viking/”viking” warrior women, witchy moon goths, queer pin-up babes, sleek film-noir/office-domme outfits, iron-age and early medieval English & Scottish queens, Russian fairy tale pics, and pop-apocalypse/neolithic “shaman” type imagery. Which you’d think would be difficult to boil down into one cohesive whole.
At least I thought it would be.
But the thin line of makeup that follows the curve of a pop-apocalyptic warrior’s cheekbones and spans the bridge of her nose? Is the same line taken by the pin-up librarian’s rhinestone cat-eye glasses or my own oversized witchy-rocker shades. The rockabilly femme in the vintage-style mermaid skirt wears hair flowers that echo the flower crown of the Ukrainian fairy-tale character and the ATS bellydancer’s head piece. The glittering haute couture kokoshnik and the Queen Mum’s tiara are also the spiked hairband worn by the nu goth princess, the Rosy The Riveter kerchief, the band of the hand-knit toque I wear every winter day I leave the house. The mermaid’s tail is the leather scales down one arm of the contemporary turtleneck and the lace-pattern on the hand-knit wiggle sweater. The heavy woolen Ruana of iron age Scotland is the elegant shawl (and the chunky infinity scarf) of today. The Neolithic skin dress of a reconstructed Magdalenian Woman is the fur collar on a film-noir-inspired leather trench, the fox-pelt draped around the shoulders of a forest fairy, the stole – from my great-grandfather – that my grandmother passed on in her nineties. The horns on the forest elf are the ornaments crowning the neolithic regalia, are the chunky, multi-point antler hair sticks in the contemporary updo.
The shapes are becoming clearer, and it’s something I’m mindful of when I put my every-day clothes on.
Whether it’s doing anything to make me shinier in the eyes of anyone (or Anyone) who happens to see me… that remains to be seen. But this is still a thing.
 
Tarot Card Meditation:
I’ve heard (recently, though I can’t remember where… sorry) that New Moons are good for magic and intention-setting and Full Moons are good for healing work and deep-diving. On that note, as the new moon waxes towards full, the card I drew for my meditation is:
 

Tarot of the Silicon Dawn
Nine of Cups
A woman is stripy fetish gear takes a selfie. Nine cups are arrayed around her.
The is the “Wishes Coming True” card, and I kind of love it. 😉


 
This is… relevant on more than just a “what do you wish for”/”what makes you truly happy” level, given what I spent a chunk of my morning getting re-set-up to do, but it also ties into my own questions about what makes me happy, what internalized Stuff do I need to free myself from in order to get the sex life (which, for me is SO tied to my heart and my relationships and all those watery cups subjects) I want.
Capricorn Season is all about showing up and doing the work (to quote the Hoodwitch). Chani tells me to fill my days with rituals that help me break bad habits (Scorpio) but also reminds my Rising sign (Gemini) to be mindful of the energetic exchanges (such as flirting, first impression, and interpersonal collaborations, all-of-which which your rising sign handles) and to figure out what you actually need, want, and have to offer in those situations. She tells my Moon (Cancer… to the surprise of absolutely nobody) that “love needs a home” – which, duh, got me all weepy, because: yeah – and that for the next three years Saturn-in-Capricorn is going to show me what I need to build and be honest about in order to make that home, with all its many chambers, a real one with solid foundations.
I think the nine of cups ties into this one hard.
Help me to know what I want.
Help me to acknowledge what I want.
Help me to seek what I want.
Help me to invite it in.
 
I need to bake a couple of pies and finish a sewing project so… no more procrastinating for me.
 
Happy Solstice all.
 

 
~*~
 
Movement: All I want to do is sleep. So not a tonne of movement going on, and what IS going on has resulted in my left hip swelling to twice its usual size. (It came back down again, but… Winter + long walks + carrying heavy loads in an unbalanced way + even the tiniest of high heels… did not do me any good in recent history. So I’m being careful with myself while I have the option).
 
Attention: Right at the moment? Chani’s pointed reminder to pay attention to how I spend my time.
 
Gratitude: Five years of marriage with my lovely wife. Polyamoury that works, even if it’s always going to be a learning process. Generous friends who bring us fancy food, who help me get things set up for company coming over. Company coming over and filling my house with warmth, light, and laughter. Sweet young folks who trust me. Extra garden space to look forward to this coming summer (maybe, possibly). Warm blankets. Sewing skills. Lazy days. Helpful tech support staff who are working on xmas eve and still willing to go the extra mile to help me out. Perfect clear nights that aren’t too cold. The chance to stroll home, looking at pretty lights, with my wife. ❤
 
Inspiration: Easy but fancy-looking up-dos. Moonlight. Iron-age fashion. Winter fairy tales. The hearth inside my heart and how I want to bring it into the solid world around me.
 
Creation: A lot of sewing, some knitting. Not a whole lot of anything else. Poetry is having a break until January while I spend some time with my wife (who is officially on vacation as of last Friday).

Full Moon – Long Nights Moon Crests (Season of the Hag)

A full moon rising huge over tufts of dry grasses poking through the drifts.

A full moon rising huge over tufts of dry grasses poking through the drifts.
Photo by John Fowler, courtesy of WikiMedia Commons.


 
Yesterday was the full moon. I went outside and sang to her a bit. Such a clear sky, and she looked so good. 🙂 I hung the winter wreath on the door (fake fir branches with silver beads wrapped around them for ice, and a cloth poinsettia flower for a sunburst) and pulled the holly garlands out of the basement – I haven’t quite hung them up yet, but that’s one of today’s tasks. I gave an offering to the Hag, the Old Lady Winter, and asked for a gentle one this year. I mean, who knows, and it’s supposed to be Very Snowy, but nobody dying of cold would be good. Doesn’t hurt to ask, right?
A while back, I talked about the Season of the Witch. Like autumn, in Ottawa, it’s a relatively short season. The Season of the Hag lasts longer, especially given that the real cold and snow don’t tend to hit until after Winter Solstice (when this poem by Richard de Graeme becomes particularly apt, even if Brigid’s fire doesn’t do much beyond offer a temporary reprieve around here).
The Season of the Hag involves: A lot of shivering. My hips being sore and swollen. Lighting candles more frequently. Trying not to fall down (right now, the temperature is seesawing back and forth across the frozen line, which is dandy as long as it’s dry – my hips hurt less, the warmer it is, so my body’s not complaining even if my mind is flipping out about climate change – but which is down right dangerous when there’s rain (which freezes) covered in the hail or snow that comes on its heels, so). Cozying up under a heap of yarn to Make Things (such as knitted radishes[1] and other veggies for my nibblings). Entertaining At Home – anything to cultivate and maintain friendships and community (think of the Scandinavian concept of hygge), whether that’s casual crafternoons with pals, opening your home to host a house concert, or inviting your nearest and dearest over for Midwinter cocktails while celebrating the Solstice. Baking and slow-cooking things so that the house, in which one is somewhat cooped up, smells delicious and feels warm because the oven is on. A lot of things to do with dealing with, and getting through, the cold with mind and body as intact as possible.
But it’s also a time for story-telling. Sharing anecdotes, working on manuscripts, examining the Old Tapes in your own head (MY own head) and figuring out how to at least remix them into something useful and good for you again.
 
With that in mind: Jessica Lanyadoo, over at HoodWitch reminds me, as a Scorpio, to focus on my own conduct this week, and says “Change yourself, THEN conquer the world”. And Chani advises: “Remember that gratitude and generosity are your guiding goddesses towards a greater sense of abundance. Go forward accordingly.” On a related note, Liz Worth asks us to take some time during this Mercury Retrograde (which started yesterday, and is going to stick around until just after Winter Solstice – if you are mailing things to anybody, mail them early) to check in with our foundations and offers some questions you can ask yourself, your cards, your Gods, about where you still need clarity versus what’s got clear and sorted for you over the past year, and what your next steps might be.
On a very related note, Sarah Gottesdiener, over at Little Red Tarot, points out that the last Full Moon of the year (this one) is a good time for wrapping up loose ends, finishing projects, and otherwise get stuff done before the calendar flips over. (Granted, Miss Sugar would suggest avoiding the New Years Resolutions (That Nobody Keeps) Egrigore by starting new projects NOW, instead of a month from now, so you do you). Sarah also suggests that this is a good time to reflect on where you’re at, look at places where you had to push yourself, ask what you need to keep going forward, and check in about recurring patterns and what they might mean. (There’s a related spread for that here). She offers this reminder:

Remember: Magic is an art. Magic works if you do.
You are both activator and participant. You are the spell!
Not the crystal or the Tarot card or the altar cloth or the athame or the chalice or any of your tools, chants, or herbs. You are the both the conduit and the conductor!
Remember to use your magic. Remember to honor yourself.

 
A good reminder if ever there was one.
The folks at Hoodwitch also offer this meditation – which is a focus-on-your-breath type exercise – for the Full Moon in Gemini. They ask participants to journal a bit, after, on the question of what does air mean for them as human beings… but I think this could be adapted to other stuff – thoughts on voice, speaking, communication, but maybe also thoughts on fear and anxiety and they way those responses can close up (or feel like they’re closing up) our throats.
 
I wrote (very briefly), a couple of weeks ago, about intention-setting and tarot meditations. Full Moon is typically a time to check in on the fruits of your intentions (that you theoretically set at the New Moon). I gotta tell you that releasing all that “you are unlovable/unworthy” crap is… slow going. I mean, duh. But it’s a thing. SO!
Moon Meditation? Moon Meditation!
I drew a random tarot card today.

“Courage” – 8 of Major Arcana (“Strength”)
A daisy blooming through a crack in the stone.


 
How does this card – courage, strength, blooming in vulnerability – relate to:
1) Recurring patterns I’ve seen over the past year
2) Glamour, letting myself be seen/heard and generally putting myself out there
AND
3) Letting go of all that “you are unlovable/unworthy” crap.
 
I mean, the answer to #2 is pretty direct. Bravery is a muscle, glamour is a muscle, you have to exercise them and you will get tired quickly when you’re not used to doing so. Put on your crown of light. Visualize all those dangerously-alluring women with bone jewelry and intense eyeliner and leather cloaks/jackets striding through the sylvan/urban landscape, let that power build in yourself, and get out there. For a given value of “get out there” that means “submit that poem for publication” or “do vocal warm-ups every day, even if the neighbours can hear you” or “flirt with that other attractive queer” or “apply for that job/grant” or whatever. I’ve been doing some of this fairly consistently (see #1), but I recognize that I have a tendency to give up and go back to hiding with a lot of regularity. To take a page from Miss Sugar’s Glamour Magic book there are mundane parts to fixing this situation and magical parts. The mundane/physical stuff is literally doing the physical work. Doing the warm ups. Writing the poems, finding appropriate calls for submissions, and sending them out. Putting on my lipstick and a clean shirt to run my errands. Making the first move. All that stuff. Magically, I can do visualizations to help me evoke and make visible my own powerful, “Scorpio Side” (I tend to let my Moon show up front, for reasons that are good – this is me, I am this – but also for reasons that are not so healthy for me and tie into the “unworthiness” business). I can listen to throat-opening chakra music and sing along in harmony (humming or rolled Rs). I can wear lapis lazuli (throat-opener, speak the truth even if your voice trembles, lean into your intuition and know yourself, that kind of stone) around my neck. I can fill my belly with tea made from thyme, fennel, mullien, and/or yarrow for courage or use those oils in a ritual bath. I can fill a honey pot with dried pear and hawthorn berries, pecans, sesame seeds, vanilla beans, hibiscus flowers, orange zest, whole cloves, oats, and glitter, and enchant it accordingly: If I’m really on my game, I’ll be Working myself in the process and I’ll start liking myself and thinking I deserve Nice Things, too. 😉
Heh.
My mom, because she is my mom, gave us an advent calendar full of inspirational quotations and candy.
The quote for yesterday’s full moon was:

Follow a heart’s desire today. Pick up a book, make that call, join that club, pick up that paint brush, start that course. Begin, begin, begin.

Okay, then.

 
~*~
 
Movement: I admit I skipped going dancing on Friday night. I had company over and my wife was tired, and it was just a better plan all around to stay in. Even for a dance that started early and was easy to get to. Still, there’s been lots of walking (and will be lots more, this week), so that’s something. Time to start doing yoga in the spare room for 10 minutes every day again, I think, as it’s getting colder out and the motion will help keep me warm and prevent me from turning into a creaky mess.
 
Attention: I’m paying attention to deadlines, right now. Submitting job applications and poetry, seeing if I qualify for grants (most recently: Not yet. I need to have published three things through traditional publishers who pay money when they publish your stuff. I have… one? Everything else has been contributor copies. One more reason to keep sending stuff out).
 
Gratitude: Paid the rent AND the heating bill on the same day. Pickled beets are going nicely. My friend who had hot sauce explode in her face is doing fine and retained all of her sight. A friend visiting for dinner. Being treated to waffles by another friend. My wife telling me I’m her home and that she’s so glad I’m part of her life. ❤
 
Inspiration: Women with horns and facial tattoos. Also femmes. Also my wife who loves to learn new things. Also the garden (even in her sleeping form). Also astrology and tarot, as per usual.
 
Creation: I finished the editing on, and then submitted, three poems to a magazine in BC. Am trying to edit my lack-luster ghazal into an entirely different kind of poem with plans to put it into my next chapbook. Also went through my back catalogue of unpublished poems to see if there was anything in there that would fit the “moons and tarot and spellcraft and astrology and feeeeelings” theme of said chapbook, because I’d like to get this done sooner rather than later. Knit two radishes, with a third on the way, and finished knitting my stocking extensions.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Cast on 45 stitches (using 2¼ mm needles and a light gauge like “sport” or “baby” yarn… even “sock” yarn will do. #1 or #2 gauge, basically). Knit 20 rows back and forth. Decrease by k2t every 4th and 5th stitch. Knit back. Decrease by k2t every 3rd and 4th stitch. Knit back. Decreased by k2t every 2nd and 3rd stitch. Knit back. You should have 18 stitches now. K2t, knit back. Knit one, then k2t to the end of row so you have five stitches. Knit five rows. Cast off. Roll your bit of knitting into a tube (like a rose bud). Sew up the side. Gather the top (the wide part) on a bit of extra yarn and pull it “shut” as with a draw-string bag. Tie off. Behold. You have a raddish. (Make leaves if you want to. Or different leaves if you want them to be “strawberries”). Do the same thing to make beets, just use chunkier yarn (#4 gauge, probably) and 5mm needles. For potatoes, do the same thing, except Just Keep Knitting, instead of doing the reductions. Use the draw-string method on both ends, instead of only one.