Asking the Earth What She Needs

The Empress - Mary El Tarot - A red-haired person in a long green dress, with a baby tied to their back, stands under a mature tree, holding a basket of fruit

The Empress – Mary El Tarot – A red-haired person in a long green dress, with a baby tied to their back, stands under a mature tree, holding a basket of fruit


 
Maybe it’s not surprising the I pulled The Empress today.
I went out in the garden to chuck a basket of toilet paper tubes into the compost, and to take pictures of the fever few – which is growing already – and the day-lilies coming up in the alley, and I sang to the misty air and the ground as I was out and about.
And I saw that the rhubarb – which I’m used to seeing a week or two from now – has already started crowning. Small enough that it probably came up with the sunrise just today. The sorrel – AKA sourdock – is just, just starting to create leaves, too, still red from their first unfurling. In the not too distant future there will, I hope, be crow garlic sprouts and dandelions coming up.
My neighbour, whose mom is an avid, and very skilled, gardener, comments that everything is coming back again.
Hallelujah.
My Lady who is the land beneath my feet is awake, awake again.
My Lady who is every green and growing thing is stretching her arms and her face towards the sun.
Hallelujah.
 
Right now, I’m burning a cone of dragon’s blood incense on my altar. I’m doing that because I don’t actually have incense charcoal and the dried mugwort I tried to use burned a liiittle too enthusiastically and turned to ash before I could even say what the offering was for.
So. Dragon’s Blood it is.
I’m adding my tiny offering to a nation-wide call for ones like it: For talking to gods and ancestors and asking that indigenous communities be protected from COVID19 through physical things like provision of actual clean drinking water right out of the tap. (Which, yes, I’m also continuing to bug my MP and the prime minister about this, because it’s an ongoing problem). Feel free to join in. If you’re like me, and are a white person, some herbs you might consider using (if you can manage to get them to light, um) are: juniper, mugwort, rosemary, lavender, mullien, mint, birch bark, thyme, and pine needles.
 
I read Liz Worth’s recent post about prophetic dreams, which talks about offerings, about letting go, and I could help thinking of my own post from five months back asking “Have I Done Right By You?”
Maybe it’s not surprising that I pulled The Empress today.
 
What is the New Normal that I’m hoping for?
I want income supports to STAY available for all (and, like, ACTUALLY for all, not just if you’ve made at least $5000 at some sort of declarable job over the past year), and for it to be $2000/month, and for it to be No Questions Asked.
I want crude oil to stay so cheap it becomes a visibly bad investment for people who only judge “bad investment” by how much money they stand to lose.
I want remote work to stay the expectation, because 200,000 cars NOT on the local road, most of the time, would do the air quality in my city (and especially right here, by the highway) a lot of good, and because it’ll mean people with disabilities and chemical sensitivities will have a much easier time getting well-paid work if from-home is a standard and expectable option.
I want clean, potable water, to come out of the tap in every house on every Reserve. (We still don’t have that – go bug your MP about it).
I want stuff like AirBnB to basically be out of business and the market to suddenly have a LOT more housing availability and a LOT more housing aforadability. (I would like to know more about housing co-ops, btw).
I want Actually Helping Each Other Out – like “I’m going to the store, do you need anything” – to be something we ask out neighbours.
I want remote access and online stuff – like concerts and meditation classes and conferences – to be a thing that sticks around.
I want train tickets to be cheap as hell so that inter-city travel, once it’s a thing again, can be affordable without it having to happen on an airplane.
I want strategic downtown streets to be closed to cars so that pedestrians can maintain appropriate social distance and, when we don’t have to do that anymore, I want those streets to stay pedestrians-only or, since they’d likely be residential streets, “residential traffic accepted” at worst.
 

Temperance, The Page of Swords, The Three of Pentacles, and The Six of Wands – Mary El Deck


 
I did a reading, as I sometimes do, shuffling my deck and checking in with the ground, taking the jumpers for answers.
Here’s what I got:
 
Anything you want? – Temperance
I mean, I suppose this is obvious. Balance. Taking care with my actions. Spring Equinox, for that matter. Oliver Pickle, in She Is Sitting in the Night refers to this card as one that “calls for self-control, not through socially internalized suppression and compartmentalization, but through appropriate and thoughtful responses to all situations. It asks for compromise, harmony, and moderation”. So, yes. That.
 
Anything you need? – The Page of Swords
She’s nothing if not literal. The Page of Swords is – according to the Wildwood tarot – situated as Spring Equinox starts moving towards Beltane. So right where we are now. She needs to do what she needs to do, moving towards that fullness, that leafing and growing, that’s already started and can’t, won’t be stopped. More metaphorically this is a card about diligence, determination, and doing the Work. This, too, is the crowning of all that new life. The rhubarb and the crow garlic, the day lilies and the tulips, pushing their spears through the topsoil. The leaves unfurling on the sorrel, the ferevew few, the creeping charlie, the grass. All of it. But it’s also me, paying attention, tending to the soil. It’s my wife turning the compost. It’s bread and milk offerings and remembering to water the plants.
 
Anything else you want me to know? – The Three of Pentacles with a side order of The Six of Wands
Teamwork, co-conspiring, getting creative with what you’ve got, working together, putting your labour towards something meaningful… with a side order of the warmth of generosity.
Work together. With Her, with each other, and there will be more than enough for all.
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

New Moon – Leaf Moon Begins

Creeping Charlie, green in spite of the still-frozen ground, in my back yard.

Creeping Charlie, green in spite of the still-frozen ground, in my back yard.


 
Well.
Here we are.
Two weeks ago, I was like “Okay, so… are all the schools going to shut down?”
Yep. Yep, they are.
The schools are shut down. All my April work was canceled. Did I mention the landlord sold our house to a developer?
BUT
I also landed that job I interviewed for.
Thank all the gods.
It’s limited hours (like more limited than it was going to be) but it’s SOMETHING. Which is a huge relief. My other (very part-time) remote-admin job is still happening, which is great. It’s maaaybe $100/month at this point but, again, it’s SOMETHING. So I’m relieved to have it.
My wife still has paid work through her anchor income job – where, thankfully, she’s only working in close-ish quarters with one other person, behind a locked door – which is a big help. There may be income supports coming for us self-employed, gig-economy, and contract-worker types, which is ALSO a huge relief.
 
It snowed the other day, but it didn’t stick. And the earliest green things are waking up, the day lily spears are pushing up through the ground and the fever few and creeping charlie are greening up again.
I just baked the last tray of… something like cookies(?) involving whole amaranth, mashed prunes, margarine, some ground flax seeds, some all purpose flour, some icing sugar, some cocoa, cinnamon, and cloves, and some salt and baking powder.
They’re coming out more like… weird pancakes? But I’m hoping they’ll crisp up as they cool.
I wanted something to munch on that uses stuff I have a lot of, and that I don’t necessarily use for a lot of other things, and I wanted to be able to bake it with the semi-sourdough bread I just pulled out of the oven as well.
 
Yeah, I’m trying sourdough bread again.
AGAIN.
This time (1) I’m doing “semi sourdough”, meaning that I’m including a half teaspoon of bottled bread yeast in the mix when I blend a LOT of starter with the warm water + sweetener + flour, and (2) I’m having better luck (so far) doing a… weirdo, low-gluten starter. Which I didn’t expect.
The whole situation with my wife being possibly gluten-intolerant… her test didn’t give any indication that this is what’s going on, but the doctor was like “Actually, this does sound like a specific, curable thing that your immune system will just take care of”. Which means we’re back on wheat and similar again, although I’m tending towards lower-gluten and more-easily digestible stuff, for now. Which is another reason for leaning on the sourdough starter a bit more heavily.
The bread turned out okay. Needs more rye flour and/or more salt, I think, to make it really tasty. But it has a decent crumb even if the crust is thick like my wife likes it (which is thicker than I personally enjoy, but here we are). We’ve got bread for toast and sandwiches, which is a relief.
The cookies, for the record, are… weird sweet crackers, when they firm up a bit? They’ll do the job for what I want – which is reasonably palatable, easy-to-access calories, tbh – so I’m calling it a decent start, if not a thoroughly finished product.
 
In light of the increasing “Stay The Heck Home” messages, I had a word with June – my GodSelf – about the Austerity I took on back around Lupercalia – and got the go-ahead to do a big stock-up in the interests of not needing to hit up a grocery store again.
I strongly suspect I’ll be wanting for eggs and milk in (relatively) short order – though the milk should last until late April, if not for the entire rest of the Austerity, at least. But we now have a 10lb bag each of potatoes and onions, a little pasta, a lot of vinegar and cooking oil, and some other dry-goods/pantry-items that I would have otherwise just not bothered with until Beltane.
Given her actual reaction to me being like “Hey, under the circumstances, can I break my self-imposed rules in order to help keep people from getting sick”, I think it says something about me that I even considered the possibility that she’d say No, or be Mad At Me about it, or something.
But we’re well-stocked, for the moment, even if I’m kicking myself for things like not getting peanut butter or only getting two-dozen eggs, and even if I’m suuuper frustrated to discover that our donated food processor – gifted by a friend who definitely didn’t realize this in the giving – is literally missing its drive shaft.
But, hey, I made hummus with a mortar and pestle and, while I’m not sure I can do much to make sunflower seed butter in this situation… we’re making do.
 
And also mending, because Why Not up my Iron Age Handicrafts (except not, because I’m also knitting-knitting, which wouldn’t be A Thing for a looooong time yet) and get my mending pile dealt with while trying to manage anxiety by giving my hands something to fidget with? Right? Right.
I’ve made a dress (which still needs some shaping), put a box-pleat into the vent of a quilted winter skirt, and am almost-almost finished binding off the arm-holes of a zip-up vest that started life as a cardigan whose elbows I got tired of darning. So… I’ve been doing Things, at least, which is good.
 
In magical news, I did my little meditation and met my Fetch. I’m trying to make a point of visiting her every few days, especially right now with everyone cooped up indoors (great for my Speaker/TalkingSelf, less great for my Fetch who is animal-child and also rather athletic and could do with some running around – it may be time to hit the Tiny Weights and/or start doing living room dance parties again) and with all the fear washing around my system, which isn’t helping her feel safe or secure.
I also wrote up a bit of a meditation for someone who recently mentioned to me her own need to take/make time to reach out and Listen for messages from her own People. It’s pretty basic, but I hope it’ll help.
 
The Fool - Mary El Tarot - A nude figure flings themself through space, surrounded by butterflies

The Fool – Mary El Tarot – A nude figure flings themself through space, surrounded by butterflies.


 
The card I pulled for my tarot card meditation was The Fool.
Which seems incredibly apt, given that this is the New Moon immediately after the Spring Equinox. All sorts of New Beginnings energy flying around the place, right now.
But it’s also… we don’t know what’s going to happen.

“This is a transformative card, emerging in a reading whenever you need spirit, action, and instinct to get through a difficult period.” (Oliver Pickle – She Is Sitting In The Night)

The Fool is an invitation to be curious, rather than fearful, to collectively trust-fall and show up to catch each other.
 
~*~
 
Movement: I am doing my Moon Salutations quite reliably, but I’m not doing much else. Like I said, living room dance parties and/or doing some work with (tiny) free weights would probably be good for me, since I’m not getting out and walking all over the place these days.
 
Attention: Keeping in touch with friends in the neighbourhood – asking how they’re holding up, checking in about what they need, letting people know when a local soup kitchen needs donations – and keeping a weather-eye on what my various levels of government are doing to help tenuously employed people – gig economy workers, self-employed people, artists… you know, us – get through months of limited or straight-up lost income.
 
Gratitude: Thankful for my continued employment. Thankful for any supports that come our way. Thankful for the family members who have let us know they’ll top up our rent, should we need the help. Grateful that this is happening in early Spring, so that I can look forward to fresh herbs, wild veggies, and rhubarb in the coming weeks. Grateful for a solid internet connection so that I can stay in touch with people. Grateful for skype dates with friends and my far-away girlfriend. Grateful for full cupboards. Grateful for the kitchen skills to use the ingredients I’ve got. Grateful for snuggles with my wife. Grateful for the green things poking up through the ground, for the thick, strong worms in our compost heap (which my wife just turned – grateful for that, too), grateful for the antics of crows and bluejays that I can see from my window. Grateful for the warmth of the sun, that I can feel, even when the wind is still cold.
 
Inspiration: All the people live-streaming musical performances and rituals. You folks are fucking amazing, and you’re making my life that much better! ❤
 
Creation: Hahaaaaaaaaa… I haven’t been writing much. I’ve been keeping on top of my 500 words… most of the time, but not all the time. I’ve written one sonnet. Which is pretty drafty, but is also an okay start. I have been getting creative in the kitchen – and am considering trying to make my own bitters, of all things, just to see if I can – and I’ve been sewing things, so… creativity is happening. Just less on-the-page than expected.

Tarot Reading for Spring Equinox 2020

Happy Spring Equinox?
I’m enjoying watching the backyard wildlife doing their thing in the great outdoors, but I’m avoiding going outside these days, just like the rest of you.
I’ve got a (tiny) tincture of juniper and rosehips started in the cupboard and am really, REALLY glad I chopped and froze some raw ginger root much, much earlier this past winter. I have vinegar in a spritzy bottle for Cleaning All The Surfaces. I have a lot of made-it-yesterday yoghurt in my fridge, and two weeks (if I make it stretch) of milk in there, too.
Which is a good thing, because our social distancing practices are getting heavier. My wife, bless her, risked going to the laundromat to do laundry earlier today. So we have clean socks and clean linens for the next few weeks, too, which is a relief, but I’m glad she was alone in the laundromat.
 
I’ve been cleaning things, washing dishes, sweeping up, and having random short bursts of anxiety-crying (just me? Okay). And doing a Spring Equinox tarot reading, like you do.
 
You guys.
Um. It was surprisingly positive?
Which is something, at least?
 
~*~
 

 
Situation: The Eight of Fire
Rise for the higher cause, be your best self, work for mutual aid (Next World). The warmth of shared generosity and the celebration of endurance and survival (Wildwood). This is a card of action. A card of getting results. A card of doing the hard thing even though you’re so, so tired.
 
Crossed By: The World
Look, tbh, I’m inclined to take this one literally? Let’s take this one literally. (Although I will point out that this card is associated with coming together, getting involved, and also with counting your blessings, so there’s that, too).
 
Past: The Lovers
This is one of the cards in this reading that I wasn’t sure how to interpret. One of the less obvious meanings of it has to do with determining your values – being true to yourself, questioning what you’ve been taught, finding out what you really care about. In the context of this reading, and in this position, I’m inclined to read it that way.
 
Future: The Knight of Air
This card can mean impromptu generosity (She is Sitting in the Night), and rash, damn-the-consequences decisions. It can mean transformative rage (Next World). It’s a card of decisiveness, sometimes of heroism.
When I first looked at it, especially with a name like “The Escape Plan” and especially across from The Lovers, as it is in this reading, all I could think was “But I don’t want to run away. I don’t want to abandon my loves”.
But I don’t think that’s what it means.
I think it’s calling on me – maybe on all of us – to act decisively based on those values we’ve already figured out we have.
 
Visible Influences: The Queen of Water
Love. Kindness. Patience. Receptivity. Empathy. Grace in the face of stress. Joy in the face of fear.
 
Hidden Influences: The Queen of Air
Facing up to what’s really going on. Boundaries and honesty. But also grief, scarcity, and change.
 
 

 
Subjective / Up Close View: The Nine of Earth
This is a card about self-sufficiency. But it carries with it a recognition of community support. “We have enough to look after ourselves” but also “We have enough to share” AND “We have people who will help US if we need it”. This is a card that says “feel good about what you have”, that recognizes the sanctuary you’ve made for yourself, and that calls you to be generous where you can.
 
Objective / Broader View: The Knight of Water
Open-hearted and creative. I almost want to read this as “be aware of the parts of this situation that aren’t all doom, gloom, and survival”. Reach out to the people you care about. Listen to each other. Share things emotionally. Make art. Make connection. Make ritual. Make magic. Make something beautiful and true even when everything’s falling apart.
 
 

 
Hopes/Fears: Judgement (Reversed)
This is one of the few places where I read a Reversed card as meaning something specific. Upright, in this position, means “hope”. But Reversed? What am I afraid of?
Oh, y’know. Everything.
I’m afraid of discovering I’m Actually A Bad Person.
That, when it comes to making hard choices, I’ll desperately long for the easy road.
This is a card about seeing through the illusions/lies/BS. About being the thing that’s burning, letting go of all the old habits, coping mechanisms, expectations, assumptions and then moving forward.
I’m afraid of the burning, and I’m afraid of what comes after.
 
Outcome: Ace of Air
Wanting what’s fair. Doing what’s right. Resolving the situation. Overcoming adversity.
 
 

 
Guidance/Context Card: Ten of Earth
Over-Arching Themes: Three of Earth
Underlying Themes: Ace of Fire

As I’ve gotten more practice at reading this stuff, I’ve realized that – for me, at least – these three cards together tend to provide a TL;DR of the whole spread.
This is about safety, security, and HOME.
Work together. (Learn how to rest, not how to quit). Every contribution matters, every contribution counts.
Be prepared to learn new skills, adapt to a changing environment, and focus on the task at hand. Make it happen. This is the beginning of something new.

Book Review with Feelings – To Speak for the Trees

So I picked up a book from the library (one of many, many books that will now be hanging out at my place for the duration), because it was unexpectedly available. It’s one I have on reserve, but was not expecting to be able to get it early.
The book is To Speak for the Trees by Diana Beresford-Kroeger.
The author is local to my area, and she’s suggesting that everybody plant one native tree per year, per member of their household, for the next six years, in order to help slow climate change.
Which is a good idea, if you’ve got the space and/or know how to sneak new trees into public parks. Recommended.
However, that’s not what this book is about.
It’s, um…
It’s mostly a memoir?
There are bits of it that are good. I like the last four chapters of Part 1 (so slightly less than a third of Part 1) and Part 2, which is about the Ogham tree alphabet, and is interesting even if it’s… oddly ordered.
But I didn’t particularly enjoy this book, and I’m…
 
Okay. I’m just going to say it.
The story-line of how the lonely child of minor English nobility – half Oppressed Minority on her mother’s side, no less – was Tragically Orphaned in her tweens, then taken in by her rural, Irish maternal line only to become The Chosen One who would be given all the Ancient Celtic Wisdom (and she specifically says “Celtic”[1]) of her ancestors by the aging – think octogenarians circa 1950 – population of a village that had somehow, due to isolation, managed to avoid the worst of the Penal Times practices… and is now, only NOW, passing that Wisdom on to the rest of the world (when those octogenarians, and all of their immediate offspring who ostensibly didn’t wanna hear it, are reliably dead and unable to contest any of this) in the hopes of changing how (white) people relate to the non-human world…
Let’s just say that I find this a little too convenient combined with a little too… Hero’s Journey?
 
Like… I find it more than a little unbelievable.
The same way I find Dorothy Clutterbuck (who, granted, would have been about the same age as, or a tiny bit older than, those Wise Celtic Ancestors of Diana’s) a little unbelievable. I’m aware that Romanticism was at its peak between 1800 and 1850, well before Dorothy OR the Irish Ancestors were born, and I can imagine some of this stuff being just… leftover romantic stuff. But I also can’t help wondering how much of this is just… straight up fiction. Or at least someone drastically stretching the truth of her 60-years-gone memories into something that sounds like “White Folks Were Wild Once Too”.
 
I’m kind of conflicted about that.
 
Like, on the one hand, I’m over here trying to naturalize myself, develop relationships with The Neighbours, not be an asshole to the plants I cultivate and wild-harvest, and be aware that I’m not the only person who calls my back yard home. And I’m doing it explicitly as a PAGAN-identified religious white lady.
I want this stuff to be true.
I want there to have been vestiges of pre-Christian religion hanging on and still being practiced as part of folk-Christianity by people who were being exploited by capitalist extraction rather than benefiting from, or driving, it.
I want to have examples to draw on of “How To Be” from cultures considerably, vastly closer to the one I spring from, if only so that I’m not strolling around quoting Braiding Sweetgrass like I’m not part of the problem.
 
And, on the other hand, this book reads so much like it’s trying to be “Braiding Sweetgrass for White People”, with a heaping helping of memoir and a side order of “No Really, This Is Ancient Wisdom, For Real For For Real”. And I don’t know what to do with that.
 
Look… What do I want? I want to know how my very distant ancestors – my pre-Roman ancestors, who were later called the Selgovae by Rome – interacted with the rest of the world. I want to know how those late stone-age farmers (neolithic) and hunters (mesolithic, but later, too, apparently) interacted with, and understood their place in, the forests-and-shorelines where they lived.
I want to know how to grow a… a “savana garden” that’s more raspberries and pavement roses, rhubarb, sorrel, lovage and other perennial herbs & flowers, with only a few (mostly fruit) trees clustered here and there under-which the real shade-lovers – Bayberry, witch hazel, spice bush, wild ginger, ramps, fiddleheads, sweet woofroffe, and lungwort – can comfortably grow.
I want to get familiar with the tiny ecosystem of my (next) back yard, and to help it thrive. To be a good neighbour.
I want to flavour my food BOTH with the flavours of the place where I live – cranberries & partridge berries, raspberry and thimble berry, spice bush, bayberry leaf (NOT the berries), maple, anise hyssop, crab apple, choke cherry, ramps and crow garlic (I know there are others, but I’m not familiar with them) – AND of the place where my ancestors came from (red currants, gooseberries & josta berries, rosehips, rhubarb, every mustard under the sun and every cheese that Scotland ever boasted, juniper berries, thyme, savoury, onion, garlic, leeks, lovage, sorrel, culinary sage, a million different mints, apples, pears, pie cherries, the bitter wild greens we brought with us (dandelion, mallow, plantane, yarrow, rampion), rose petals, begamot, lavender, elder flower, sweet woodroffe, honey, wine, mead, beer, and cider).
AND I also want to know the magico-medicinal plants of my own ancestors. I want to burn mugwort and summer savoury twigs in a Beltane fire. I want to steep juniper berries and rosehips and (cooked!) elder berries together in vodka, gin, or wine to make a tincture full of vitamin C, and to fill a bowl with hot water and pine needles, juniper berries, birch leaves, creeping charlie, and peppermint when I need to open up my lungs. I want to flick salt water off a pine or juniper broom to consecrate a space. I want hawthorn for good boundaries and roses for romance and apples for fortune telling.
By that token, Part Two of To Speak for the Trees is interesting and something to chew on, even if she’s – apparently – writing out the tree alphabet in entirely the wrong order.
I like Diana Beresford-Kroeger’s Bioplan that encourages people to plant native trees on the regular. I like the IDEA of sustained ancient knowledge. But I don’t really think that I can recommend her book as a resource for pagans.
 
Here, have some (distraction) videos about trees and suchlike:
Suzanne Simard on How Trees Talk to Each Other
Diana Beresford-Kroeger discusses climate change
How to Grow a Forest in Your Back Yard
A documentary on Rewilding Scotland
Have fun, kids.
&nbbsp;
 
Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden
 
 
[1] Look, I thought that was something only people like me did, people who are actually really removed from Irish culture, Scottish cultures, Manx and Cornish and British and Angolish cultures, Breton and Iberian cultures, heck Newfoundland and Cape Breton cultures, so it seems odd to me than an Irish woman is using that term. Maybe I’m wrong? But it seems… strange to me.

Meeting My Fetch (Is This An After School Special?)

Hey!
So, as I said in an earlier post, I recently designed a guided meditation for myself so that I could go and meet my Fetch in person.
I’m not an initiate into Feri or Reclaiming. But the work of Starhawk, T Thorn Coyle, Lee Harrington, and Gede Parma have all informed my own understanding of ritual and magical work, so Feri and Reclaiming have influenced my own work, albeit in an indirect way. As such, when I talk about Fetch, I’m using the term in roughly the way that it gets used in Feri (and, apparently, Wildwood?) or the way Reclaiming talks about “Child Self”. Sometimes this part of you is also called the “Id” or the “Unconscious”, just to throw some psych 101 terms into the mix.
 
Essentially, Fetch is your animal self, your little-kid self, the part of your soul-makeup that’s most intimately connected with being a body – so all the stuff that relates to food, touch, sleep, sex, movement, work (as in: force times distance equals), pain, rest, pleasure, and play.
Fetch is your skin hunger, your belly-hunger, and your tongue hunger. They’re the part of you that wants, that needs, that desires, that demands… and also the part of you where a lot of the rejected parts of yourself kind of get shoved in order to push them out of the way (so… Fetch may have a lot of your Shadow Stuff kind of clogging up their system, and may be lonely or self-protective when you first meet them – just a heads-up, your Fetch and my Fetch aren’t going to be the same people, so yours may also be super keen to drag you on adventures despite it being a school night. YMMV).
Fetch is also not likely to use words.
This is relevant, especially if you’re like, y’know, me and are All About The Feelings, but also are all about putting words around your emotions to explain and understand them. (This is why I find tarot so helpful, because it lets my chatty, explainy, words-using self and my non-verbal, images and sensory experiences self communicate with each other in ways they can both understand. Looking for visual omens and learning how to interpret the emotional stuff behind physical sensations (think: somatic experiencing) in your own body can do this, too.
 
Anyway.
Meeting Fetch!
 
All of my internal-astral wanderings start out by taking the rainbow staircase (or sometimes elevator) downwards. It’s a technique I was introduced to… 15 or so years ago? And at this point it’s a really effective visual/mental cue that “We’re Visiting The Interior Now”.
I followed my own directions and eventually came to the location where I was expecting to meet my Fetch.
It wasn’t the night club I’d been expecting to find.
Instead, it was a high school gym with most of the lights out.
There was 100% something big, mammalian, and predatory just sort of… hanging out around the edges. I never really saw it, but I got the impression of lion/tiger paws and some kind of tusks. Which… Is fine. I was actually expecting that bit.
What I wasn’t expecting was to see my 13-year-old self, even skinnier and taller (6’8”, at a guess) than I was at that actual age, wearing my/her dad’s basketball uniform and shooting baskets.
She also had tusks. Which… is not shocking.
A long time ago, I went on an astral bus trip, if you will, and got to have a look at who-all my talking self was sharing space with, and there was somebody on there with boar tusks or ram/bull horns or something. I think that maybe that kind of hazy somebody, in their soft-butch tank top and jeans, may have been a related aspect of this big wee girl I’ve met in the gym.
But the part where my Fetch is a tomboy and a tiny bit of a jock? That’s unexpected.
Maybe it shouldn’t be.
But here we are.
 
It felt like it took a long time for her to turn around and look at me.
I got a general impression of flinching, which is kind of heart-breaking.
We spent a lot of time sitting on the bleachers. She tucked her head into the crook of my neck, and one of her tusks kind of poked me, and she freaked out a little when I tried to adjust things which…
How do I talk to a teenager who is scared I’m going to leave again? Especially one who doesn’t really do words?
So we sat in the dark and I held onto her, this big little girl who is teenager me, with all the emotional bruises of grades 5-8 riding on her shoulders.
The second part of the meditation… didn’t exactly happen?
She pressed something into my hands, but I don’t really know what it was. Something robins-egg blue or powder blue, and boxy. Like a cross between a little transistor radio and a really clunky games console?
Anyway. I think she might be saying “Play with me”?
So I need to go back and play with her.
 
One thing that I really, really noticed was that I could feel her in my thighs. That meeting her made my legs burn like I’d just hiked up five or six flights of stairs, or a very long, very steep hill. This was interesting for a couple of reasons. First, I tend to read Butches as carrying their energy in their thighs – in much the same way as I tend to read Femmes as carrying our energy strung across our shoulders and collarbones – so this physical feeling was part of my interpretation of my Fetch as being… call it “more masculine than the rest of me”, if you want to start there. The other reason it was interesting is because I associate that feeling with running. With the way I feel after having to sprint for a bus. I got the impression that she’d been running, or had been poised to run away, for a very long time.
I kind of hope I can get us to a point where that feeling – of big, powerful muscles that have been working hard – is associated with “We sure DID dance until midnight / hang upside down in an aerials class / play HORSE all afternoon / take a gorgeous walk through the arboretum for a couple of hours” rather than with something that feels like fear and flight.
 
Anyway. That was how meeting my Fetch went.
If any of you reading this want to talk about meeting your own Fetches, please feel free to tell me all about them in the comments.
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Full Moon – Meltwater Moon Crests

The snow is melting. Hurrah!
The streets are NOT a mess of slush, thank all the gods, and the sidewalks are almost all clear. Which is fantastic.
Like a LOT of people, we’re practicing as much social isolation as we can in the interests of slowing down the spread of that covid virus that’s going around – though, as self-employed people, it’s not like we have paid time off.
So basically we’re avoiding leaving the house for reasons other than work. I’m checking in with my various modelling clients about whether or not their classes are still running, and I’m glad that at least some of my work is already done remotely, because that will help in the event of, say, any of the local art schools just shutting down for the time being.
On the plus side, we’ve got considerably more than two weeks of food stored up, and were already limiting grocery trips and combining errands so’s as to not have to leave the house more often than necessary.
 
One thing that’s come up since starting my Eat From The Larder Challenge Austerity is that my lovely wife may, in fact, be gluten-intollerant.
So the miraculous discovery of an extra bag of short pasta, the 5kg of all purpose flour, the large amounts of pearl AND pot barley, oat groats, and couscous, as well as the small amounts of rye flour, oat flour, and barley flour that I have on hand?
Are now out of the running.
It’s not that I can’t use them. But I can’t use them to make food for more than just myself.
So.
What do I have?
 

Potatoes (2-3, so very, very few)
+
Wild rice (moderate amount)
Amaranth (moderate to large amount)
Quinoa (small amount)
Rice (small amount)
Millet (very small amount, also I don’t really like eating it)
+
Corn meal (moderate amount)
Corn flour (small to moderate amount)
Buckwheat flour (small amount)
Corn starch (small amount)
Romano bean flour (small amount)
Tapioca flour (very small amount)
Arrowroot flour (very small amount)

 
I can make this work.
I’d be happier if I had a LOT more buckwheat flour and ANY amaranth flour lying around. But I can work with this. Quick breads that get their leavening from baking soda or baking powder are a thing. I can use pre-soaked green lentils & yellow split, frozen (pre-cooked) chick peas, and tinned kidney beans as a “starch” – which is to say “as a filler” to bulk up dishes where I would normally use bread – such as a clafoutis, which is basically quiche but you mix 1/4C corn starch and 1/4C romano bean flour into the eggs-and-milk rather than having a pie crust. It’s delicious, but it’s a LOT less filling than a bread pudding.
I may see if I can trade some of my all-purpose flour for some long-grain rice, and some more of it for some quinoa or kasha.
 
I confess, I am looking into sour-dough-esque recipes that rely on fermented buckwheat and/or eggs for a lot of their leavening power. But, as my flour is currently really limited, I’m a little nervous to try any of them.
The good thing about sourdough breads is that whatever starter you end up with is going to be enlivened by bacteria that will happily eat whatever flour you feed it with.
The bad thing is that fluffy loaves of bread rely on the stretchy protein of gluten to create those nice, well-aerated crumbs… and there’s no gluten in these, so… I’m not sure how (if) this is going to work.
All-of-which is to say that, for now, I will PROBABLY be relying on stuff like basic corn bread (which uses baking soda and sour milk for the leavening agents), cornflour “tortillas”, and savoury buckwheat crepes instead of trying to do a proper leavened bread during this Austerity.
 
In more explicitly magic-related news, I designed a guided meditation (which I’ll be putting in An Actual Book) so that I could meet my own Fetch, and I tried out the first part of it last night.
(I think the second part also… tried to happen… but it was fast and I might need to go back and try it again).
I’m going to do a separate post about my first – but possibly NOT first? – time meeting Fetch in person. But just to throw a little preliminary information out here:
The word “Fetch” gets used in a couple of different ways, magically-speaking. One way it gets used is to describe a part of yourself – or, in some circles, a separate entity – who can leave your body and bring things back to you. The other way is the way this term gets used in Feri, for example, where it kind of corresponds to what gets called “Child Self” in Reclaiming. I’m under the impression that the two definitions are not entirely mutually exclusive but, when I talk about Fetch, I’m talking about the second definition.
BUT. More on Fetch elsewhere.
 
The course I was taking with Ms Sugar has wrapped up (for this iteration – iirc she’ll be running it again), though the work I started there-in is definitely still on-going and will likely STAY on-going until at least early June.
I had a job interview this morning – which… I have NO IDEA how it went, but please think good thoughts for me, if you’re reading this? I’d really appreciate it.
I kinda-sorta started writing a book, too. Which is equal parts exciting and terrifying, and equal parts “Yes! This is where I should put (some of) my energy right now!” and “Are… are you sure about that? What about your poetry manuscript?” (don’t worry, I’m still working on that one, too – and have been able to get out to a couple of poetry workshops in the last two weeks, so that feels good).
 
I pulled two cards for my Tarot Card Meditation this time around.
The first – which has turned up more than once this week – was the Ten of Fire.
The second was History (one of the Weird Bonus Cards in the Silicon Dawn deck).
I’m used to the Ten of Fire being a caution against exhaustion or a statement about being overwhelmed or having too much on your to-do list. Which is… relatable at this time. In this deck, though, it’s more of a warning against over-consumption and a reminder that “looking out ONLY for Number One” is a bad road to go down. More broadly, it’s a card about… being mindful of what is and isn’t your responsibility (or privilege) to take on, asking for help and/or say “No” when things are too much to handle on your own, and following through on your commitments (“You don’t have to like it, you just have to do it”).
History – according to Egypt Urnash’s little interpretations book – is about the stories we tell to ourselves about ourselves and our situations. It’s cosmology and it’s shadow work. It’s about how we can tie ourselves up with “I Can’t Do XYZ”. It’s a relevant card, given what I’m digging into right now, particularly since I drew it Reversed (Meaning: Having to do with my relationship with myself). I think, in combination with the Ten of Fire, it’s a reminder to pay attention to what is and isn’t mine to carry, about following through on what IS – and putting down, or handing off, what isn’t – my responsibility, specifically in terms of stories I may have told myself (over and over and over again) about what I have to be – need-less? help-less? – in order to keep myself safe in some way.
Definitely worth chewing on some more.
 
~*~
 
Movement: Not a whole heck of a lot. I’m reliably doing my Moon Salutations, which is a good thing, but I’ve been busing to a lot of gigs, and I’m avoiding leaving the house when possible, so there’s been less body activity going on than usual.
 
Attention: Listening to my body. Keeping track of how much rest I need vs how much I’m getting, and watching my symptoms (vaguely sore throat since Saturday night, runny nose, generalized tiredness, etc – which are leading me to think this is probably my usual “the snow is melting and there’s just a lot more crud exposed to the air” annual springtime cold, but still). Trying to catch my Stories earlier and earlier rather than getting sucked into them (this is really difficult, which I realize is no surprise to anybody). Watching my writing for continuity and flow and hoping that I’m managing to make sense. Looking and listening for omens and signs that the magical stuff I’ve been doing is getting things rolling in ways that I want them to go (and sometimes in ways that I’m… not thrilled about, but here we are).
 
Gratitude: Thankful for a wife who loves me. For a girlfriend who is patient and understands how much stuff is up in the air right now (the landlord sold our house, new owner – who is a developer – takes possession in May, and we’re going to have to find a new, and almost definitely much more expensive, place to live, sooner rather than later) and that this is going to effect whether or not I can come and visit her any time soon. Grateful for skype dates and weekends doing easy stuff together. Grateful for my cooking skills, my wonderously (still) full freezers and pantry, which are making things so much easier right now. Grateful, too, for friends who have taken me out for lunch, passed along job opportunities, and generally taken care of me. Thankful for a resilient immune system and for having a lot of essential oils on hand. Thankful for sunshine and above-zero temperatures. Thankful for a job interview today. Thankful for a metamour who’s looking out for us self-employed-no-benefits types over here. Thankful – believe it or not – for a GodSelf who will periodically push me off a cliff just to remind me that trust-falling does, in fact, require FALLING (or at least leaping). Grateful for a Fetch who was willing to try trusting me, just for a little bit. Grateful for milk and eggs and a little bit of butter. Grateful for a miracle tin of parmasan cheese (my years of non-parishable food-hoarding tendencies are paying off, I see). Grateful for my library card. Grateful for my income quilt. Grateful for a book idea that’s structured enough I can actually follow through on it. Grateful.
 
Inspiration: Chakra work, the Iron Pentacle and Triple Soul concepts of/from Feri, various Major Arcana cards, my own history and experiences, the food I have available to work with.
 
Creation: I’ve written a couple of poems, edited a couple more, and have started writing a book, which involves also writing guided meditations, ritual outlines, and a certain amount of suggestions for creative altar-building. Also, coming up with tasty, filling, nutritious meals based on what’s available in the pantry and freezer is… feeling (slightly) less like a Terrible Idea, and (slightly) more like a creative challenge at this point – roughly a month after I started. We’ll see how I feel in another three weeks, let along another six, but so far, so good.

New Moon – Meltwater Moon Begins (#PiscesNewMoon)

Whelp. It’s almost the end of February, it was 11C on Monday (wtf…), we’re due to get snow, freezing rain AND a sudden return to very sub-zero temperatures in the next 48 hours, and Mercury is backstroking through Pisces as I type.
 
I keep getting the suspicion that planetary retrogrades can function a lot like reversed cards in tarot readings. By-which I mean that rather than (or in addition to) being about the “disfunctional” or “negative” or just “difficult” aspects of a thing, reversed/retrograde can point you in a particular direction.
I tend to read upright cards as “this is about the relationship you have with the outside world” and reversed cards as “this is about the relationship you have with yourself”.
And planetary retrogrades can be an opportunity to ask a similar question.
In the case of Mercury – planet of communication and, mythologically speaking, messenger between the various worlds – this retrograde is an opportunity for me to ask myself “What stories am I telling myself? Where I am lying to myself? Where – as Liz Worth suggests – are my actions, commitments, and habits NOT syncing up with the true nature of my most integrated self?
Which is to say, it’s a good time for Shadow Work.
 
So I’m doing some Shadow Work!
Trying to triangulate between (assumptions I make about the nature of) other people’s Stories so that I can uncover some more of my own.
If any of you have ever read Starhawk’s Truth or Dare – and it has a been a looooong time since I read it – you may remember her concept of The Unbreakable Vow. The terrible bargain we strike with ourselves – and, according to our imaginations, with someone else who generally has no idea we’re doing this but upon-whom we are dependent for life-and-death because: attachment bonds – to give up something, or take on something, in order to maintain access to love-and-belonging and therefore to survival.
 
A lot of my stories – a LOT of my stories – are about dropping everything to take care of other people (Who will SURELY reject/abandon me and Leave Me To Die, Frozen and Alone in the Snow if I fail to do this). BUT… I think there’s a flip-side to it. Something that dovetails with my expectations around “Being taken advantage of” or “being used” but isn’t that.
I told myself a story about my mom. About what I suspect her own Story is. That if someone has to be Helpful in order to be Good AKA Safe-and-Loved (which is definitely one of MY stories, too), then on some level that person needs others – attachment-bound others – to be help-LESS.
And so I asked myself if it was possible that I have made some kind of a deal With Myself, the aforementioned Unbreakable Vow, that says:
In order for ME to be safe – to be loved by my mom, instead of punished by her; to be rewarded by an employer instead of punished by them (or fired or whatever); stuff like that – I must remain on some level both compliant (accepting of someone else’s controlling behavior, direction, demands/requests, etc) AND… kind of… at the mercy of the other party in some way that involves “not being able to succeed by myself”.
Like I think there’s another angle to the “giving up my autonomy” thing that shows up under the heading of Compliance, and I’m wondering if this is it.
So that’s something I’m chewing on right now.
 
I’m reading The Secret of the Shadow which… has both useful information (albeit sometimes hard to parse, particularly when navigating the amount of ableism, fatphobia, whorephobia, and other crap that this book is definitely written with – reader beware) AND has… a lot of stuff that feels like work I’ve already done. Which isn’t to say it’s not work I still need to keep doing – when I’m feeling resentful and frustrated about cleaning my house and telling myself “I can’t do XYZ because someone else hasn’t done QRV yet” I need to catch what I’m doing and say “Okay, but is this really about “can’t” or is this about “annoyed because I have do to QRV as well as XYZ”? Like can you actually, in reality, do the thing, and you’re just pissed off?” Because frequently the answer is Yes.
But it’s not a new concept, if you will.
 
I have to tell you: Shadow Work is hard because It’s Annoying. It’s hard to do by yourself without someone to be like “Have you considered this other angle that is NOT just digging down into stuff you already know?” because it’s harder to catch that when it’s YOU doing it. It’s a bit of a slog – and maybe a LOT of a slog – because it’s hard (for me, at least) to tell when I’m making progress vs when I’m kind of maybe going backwards?
But I’m noticing that my throat chakra talks to me when I’m in my shadow-place.
Situations where I have a heap of shame – like Eight of Swords stuff – or am freaking out about a Thing that’s (probably) connected to my Shadow Beliefs (like a few days ago when I was in a work situation where my brain was screaming “No! Don’t tell Them that I don’t Need them! They’ll punish/abandon me!” about a third-party communication and my larynx swelled right the heck up immediately.
It didn’t calm down until that night, when I did my Moon Salutations while singing and consciously using good vocal technique to do so.
 
I think it’s interesting that I have some sort of built in “shut-up-shut-up-shut-up” THING going on that’s so physical and, in retrospect, so recognizable.
I think it’s interesting that my own body has these ways of talking to the words-using part of my brain, and I’m really glad that I’m starting to understand what I’m saying to myself, and under-which circumstances I find myself saying which things. Learning how to recognize where my fears are flaring up, learning how to Not Hide while that’s happening… it’s A Process, I tell you, but it feels good to be doing.
 
In other news, and for the first time in any sort of official capacity, I’m undertaking an Austerity.
This is a thing that comes up in Ms Sugar’s writing with a fair degree of frequency, and which I consistently dislike. But I’m giving it a shot right now because… why the hell not, basically. There are things I need to do anyway, so why not do them with some magical Intention behind them.
My annual Eat From the Larder Challenge has started early this year, and will be running for about ten weeks rather than about four. It is, as usual, somewhat modified. I can restock on food – milk, eggs, coffee, a few other things – that we go through frequently (in part because this is a LONG version of what I’m used to, and in part because this is MY Austerity, not my wife’s), but only if I pay cash, and there’s a limit to how much I can spend in a given week.
It’s a sacrifice of time and energy and easiness, basically, as coming up with tasty dinners and speedy lunches when I can’t decide to Just Buy Something is… tiring, to say the least.
 
I have bread rising right now. I’ll be making another batch of Hippie Muffins (think: lots of dried fruit, nuts, and seeds plus fruit butter standing in for the majority of the sweetener) later today. I need to put a bowl of chick peas on to soak, and another one of green lentils. I may or may not set up some mung beans to sprout while I’m at it.
I have plans for a lentils-and-kale soup with dried tomatoes and spicy sausages thrown in for this evening (with home-made bread) and for a zucchini-and-tomato bread pudding for tomorrow night. Pan-fried fish with rice (or maybe quinoa) and frozen veggies on Friday.
Which all sounds great (and will be).
AND
I’ve been grateful that my wife has had more than her usual number of evenings out with partners since I started this thing just over ten days ago because it’s meant that I could content myself with tea and toast and/or tinned herring “snacks” (which, ha, I am entirely out of now, and which I’ll likely be kicking myself about for the next eight weeks) rather than having to think of Actual Meals after a day of work. Because – thankfully – I’ve also been getting a fair amount of work (and also a fair amount of social events) in the past two weeks that have had me away from the house, and/or working on paid stuff instead of household stuff (like keeping the kitchen clean-and-functional or taking stock of what I have in the pantry and the freezer to work with), and… I’m getting to the point where that’s not so much of an option anymore.
I can still make tuna sandwiches, provided I’ve made bread recently, but I don’t have a LOT of tinned tuna left, which means making hummus – possibly with some frozen mashed pumpkin thrown in – from scratch so that I can make hummus-and-sour-kraut sandwiches as an alternative to tuna. It means making tasty, protein-heavy muffins from scratch AND watching how much flour I have available. It means recognizing that I have two one-person servings of (different kinds of) noodles left, and considering how many varied dishes I can make with rice, barley, and quinoa.
 
Part of me – the part that wants to cook with butter rather than oil+salt, the part that wants to have a gallon of milk in the fridge AND a pound of butter AND rotini within easy reach AND wine on the table (and, okay, the altar) this Friday – is annoyed with myself for creating “artificial scarcity” in my home, in the name of creating more abundance in the long-run. The rest of me… The rest of me is noticing how readily the paid work is coming in, including bookings from unexpected places, and is taking this as a good omen that suggests my sacrifice is being accepted. And that part wants to see how this all works out.
So we’ll see how it goes.
 
~*~
 

Silicon Dawn - Fortitude (8 of Major Arcana) - A six-armed babe in a body-suit, a striped corset, and a collar chooses to act as a pillar, holding up the ceiling at a kink party.

Silicon Dawn – Fortitude (8 of Major Arcana) – A six-armed babe in a body-suit, a striped corset, and a collar chooses to act as a pillar, holding up the ceiling at a kink party.


 
The card I pulled – from my Silicon Dawn deck – as my tarot card meditation for this waxing moon, is Fortitude. The Strength card.
Strength is my birth card, so it’s always a little bit significant when it pops into my hands at a random cutting of the deck.
In the Osho Zen deck, Strength shows up as the Courage to push through the hard thing and bloom. In the Next World deck, it’s about “accessing your higher self through compassion and listening”. Which are both relevant to my current endeavors.
In the Silicon Dawn deck, it’s also a card that talks about choosing to take on a burden or a difficult thing.
During a period when I’m both choosing to take on the extra work of this Austerity AND digging into the Shadow Beliefs that (in my particular case) have me choosing, on some level, to remain in some specific kinds of bondage? I’d call that relevant to my interests.
 
~*~
 
Movement: Yoga almost (almost) every day. Go me. Six hours of modelling work, yesterday, that involved pushing some limits and discovering that my body is stronger and more flexible than it was the last time I tried poses like that. (Oh, hey! Take note, self! Sometimes you outgrow your own limits without noticing and you don’t find out you’re capable of more until you try! It’s A Sign!) Walking my errands and commutes – although I have taken the bus home from work a few times in the past week, which I think was the right decision. Chipping and chiselling the ice dams away from my steps – we’re going to get a big dump of snow and/or freezing rain in the next few days, but I wanted to use the (unusually) warm weather to help make the impending shoveling easier for myself.
 
Attention: Listening to my body/chakras when it/they/I talk to my word-using brain. Striving to notice when I’m Up In My Narratives so that I can step outside outside of them, little by little, more easily and readily. Also taking note of what I do and don’t have in my pantry to put towards tasty meals. Also keeping track of which Tiny Magical Workings I’m remembering to do / making a point of keeping my commitments to, and which ones get pushed to the side on any given day (and trying not to beat myself up about that, in the noticing, because I built redundancies into this stuff for a reason).
 
Gratitude: For work that pays in cash. For modelling jobs. For a free poetry workshop and an opportunity to perform (open mic) that I actually took instead of bailing (Good Job, Me). For tinned soup and tinned fish and pumpkin-and-sunflower seeds that I can use to make quick, snack-like meals to keep me going when I’m tired, distracted, or prioritizing something else (whether or not that’s a good idea). Grateful for a wife who thinks I’m gorgeous and awesome. Grateful for a girlfriend who listens to me talking about my Shadow Stuff and tells me the Divine things she can see underlying them. Grateful for this blessed day off, almost entirely free of paid-work-commitments, so I can focus on home-work and homework, on writing and self-work and the magic of making food. Grateful for a body that talks to me and and brain that is starting to understand my physical language.
 
Inspiration: The specifics of everyday life, as used pretty directly during last night’s poetry workshop. Tarot Cards (because: always, apparently). My fellow poets and fellow witches. My sweethearts, working hard at what they do.
 
Creation: Three new poems! A bunch of (currently untested, but go with it) non-boozy cocktail recipes. The beginnings of (a) a new porn story, and (b) a possible memoire-related book outline? We’ll see where these ones go.