New Moon – Cold Moon Begins

Normally, this is Ice Moon, but – in honour of the ice jam covering the north-west corner of our house – we’re actually just coming out of that one.
So “Cold Moon” it is, for this year at least. Having just spent the weekend in the Coldest Spot on the Planet (that being my town, because it was -45 or something with the wind chill, and that’s pretty fucking cold kiddos, pretty fucking cold), I figure it works.
Technically, Cold Moon started about a week ago, around-which-time my father-in-law called to remind me to start my leeks and onions before March turns up.
I don’t even want to grow leeks and onions at this point. I mean, I’m not saying they’re bad things to grow, but since I don’t yet actually have the giant containers for our raised beds yet, I’m really disinclined to start stuff early from seed. I want to make sure I have somewhere to transplant it once it’s ready.
None the less, it’s a good reminder that things are already stirring underground, in spite of the umpteen feet of snow and nasty wind-chill situation happening on the surface.
 
Last week, I got a call to come in for a job interview. Yes, I’m trying to land myself a part-time (mid-afternoon into early evening) job that would net me a few short shifts per week and, as such, give me a couple of hundred extra dollars per month to help keep my income quilt functional and covering everything. The interview is today (so do send me good vibes, right around 1pm, plz), and I’m hoping it’ll go well enough that they decide to hire me. There will definitely be prep-stuff done today to ensure that I’m magically delicious when I walk in the door. :-) I’m thinking bay leaves in my (new – arrived yesterday) purse and sweet orange + coconut oil for luck, optimism, and likeability. Maybe some echanecea tea for money-drawing, too, although it would also be for Being Less Sick, which is kind of a thin at the moment.
 
So that’s what’s stirring and (maybe) getting started in my neck of the woods right now. How ’bout you? What wee seeds have you planted in the hopes of making an early start? What ideas are germinating and starting to take shape?
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden. :-)

Kitchen Sink Cookies – Version the Umpteenth

So I made cookies today.
Here’s the recipe:
 
 
~*~
 
Kitchen Sink Cookies – Version the umpteenth
INGREDIENTS
 
2 C whole wheat flour
½ C white flour
1 C brown sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
+
½ C “light” (low-flavour) olive oil or other cooking oil
¼ C peanut butter + 2 tbsp olive oil
¼ – ½ C coconut milk (thick, maybe chuck it in the fridge for minute)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 egg
+
¼ C crumbled walnuts
¼ C shredded coconut
½ C dark chocolate chips
2 tbsp white chocolate chips
1-2 pieces of candied ginger, snipped into very small bits
 
 
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350F
Mix all the dry stuff together
Add all the wet stuff and mix thoroughly until well-combined
Add all the “additions” and knead until well-distributed
Grease 1 or more baking sheets
Form dough into balls that, when flattened slightly, are about 1.5” across and set them on the cookie sheets – I could fit about 15 per sheet, but YMMV
Bake for 10-15 minutes
Remove from oven
Allow to cool (set) for about 2 minutes, then pluck them off the cookie sheet (if you’re careful, you can just use your fingers for this, for the most part) and set them on a wire rack to cool completely. Or just eat them. As you will.
 
NOTE: If you want to make this recipe vegan: (1) leave out the white chocolate chips, and (2) in lieu of the 1 egg, do the following: Include an extra tsp of baking powder, use ¾ C brown sugar + ¼ C maple syrup (or agave nectar, or whatever you have available), and use ¼ C olive oil + ¾ C peanut butter in lieu of the amounts listed above. That should hold things together nicely and keep them fluffy and tasty.
 
~*~
 
If I were to make this recipe again, I would probably (a) leave out the cocoa (or, alternatively, up it significantly. 2 tbsp doesn’t quite cut it in either direction, so…), (b) add a 1 tsp or so of ground ginger (and/or a lot more candied ginger), and (c) use a lot more peanut butter and a lot less olive oil. I might also change up the ratio of flours a little bit. Whole wheat – probably because the type of wheat that’s typically grown in these parts has been bread to be easily milled into white flour, but the upshot of that is that the bits that get taken out during that process (but left in for whole wheat) are rather hard and pretty bitter – has enough of a flavour of its own, that I’m not entirely fond of it in desserts. But hey. Each to their own.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

C is for Corporeal, D is for Dance – Pagan Experience 2015

On the off chance that you haven’t guessed by the time, I ‘m writing about embodiment for the Pagan Experience Challenge today. I’ve been a singer (14 years of lessons plus, admittedly, 14 further years of, like, singing in the shower or otherwise letting myself get rusty) since I was 7 years old. Which basically means that I was actively being taught how to Be In My Body well before puberty hit and all the social pressures to do exactly the opposite of that started cropping up.
I think that’s relevant.
I mean, yes, staying in my body in sexual situations where I’m not the one “doing the doing” is not the easiest thing in the world, and I don’t think that’s a separate issue, but I do think that learning embodiment, learning to pay attention really closely to what your muscles and feet and lungs and all the rest of you are doing at any given time has made it easier for me to be, well, naked, for a start, but there’s more to it than that.
A lot of my energy-work – whether that’s stuff like Grounding[1] or stuff like Sex-Magic/Laying-On-of-Hands or stuff like charging up a honey-pot – is centred around the bodily stuff I learned, ages ago, for How To Sing Really Well. As it happens, it’s also really centred around lighting up those big, straight-line, chakra points on your body – but I didn’t realize that until someone who could See that stuff told me as much when I showed her what prepping to sing looked like.
 
It’s… Art is magical. It’s an act of both creation and transformation, just because of what it is. But art as magical action can be used to do that whole “creating change at will” business as well. I was at a workshop on ritual, last October, and I said “I’m a writer and a witch, and when I write things down I make them happen”. Which isn’t true most of the time, but it’s proven on multiple occasions to push those odds towards What I (think I) Want, so I’m going with it. Likewise, when I sing, all those energetic chanels open up and I can Do Stuff – stuff kind of along the lines of reiki, I think? – that I can’t do, or can’t do as easily, when I’m quiet. Dancing, too, opens me up. I can be a fountain on the dancefloor. My wife says that I glow when I do that, and I’m inclined to take her literally as she’s one of those folks who can See that stuff, so.
 
Embodiment, for me at least, is the gateway to making energetic changes in the world. So there you go. :-)
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] For a given value of “grounding” – I’ve got my feet in the river pretty much all the time. I’m what sometimes gets called a “cement head”. I can bring people back to earth, and/or their bodies, when they get lost. It’s part of what I’m for. How cool is that? :-)

Where Has The Nail Polish Remover Gone? – Pagan Experience 2015

Okay.
So we have People.
Every so often, something – usually from my wife’s workshop (becaus eshe has a lot of cool stuff, but maybe also because a lot of said stuff is ancient technology), but sometimes from elsewhere – will randomly go missing. For an hour. Sometimes for a couple of days. And then it’ll be back, right where we’d last seen it, right where we’d check however-often in the interveining span of time during-which it was resolutely Not There.
 
I’ve heard people talking about how the fairies, or the houseweights, or some other subsection of the house-spirit population, stole their keys or otherwise messed with their stuff, so it’s not really shocking that this would happen to us, as well.
 
I guess what I’m wondering is “Why do they want this stuff?” And why, perhaps more to the point, do I think it makes sense for them to want some of the stuff – hand tools, for example – but not other stuff, like the titular nail polish remover. Is it just because it’s pretty? Blue? A weird set of chemicals to experiment with? Is it becasue I use it fairly regularly, and they wanted to check it out? Is it because they want me to notice them?
 
I have no freaking idea. O.O
 
In chatting with my wife about this, we’ve concluded that (a) it’s really great that at least everything always comes back, and also (b) that nothing additional comes back with it. Because that would be even weirder and more disconcerting.
 
Anyone reading this have similar experiences? Does asking for the swift return of items get them back any faster? Thoughts? Suggestions?
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Caring for The Land Beneath My Feet – The Pagan Experience 2015

For me, this is literally the ground beneath my feet and, right now, she’s frozen solid and buried under many feet of snow.
None the less, things are still happening. That’s Imbolg for you, amirite? ;-)
My wife was talking to her dad the other day, and passed along his advice to me: Start your leeks and onions now so that they’ll be big enough to plant out in May.
I admit that I wasn’t actually planning on growing onions or leeks this year (or potentially any year, but that’s another story). But I’m looking forward to planting cucumbers, winter squash, beans, and cold-weather crops like kale and chard once May rolls around, and to buying (yes, buying) tomato starts (and possibly other nightshades, we’ll see how much room I have available) as well.
I feel like a significant part of my Path is something along the lines of Land Guardianship – and that’s a mouthful when you’re a white chick in North America (Kitigan Zibi Territory, Turtle Island, specifically) to be kind to the land, “walk lightly” as the saying goes, use less plastic, buy less New Stuff in lieu second-hand stuff (or just No Stuff – there’s a concept), to avoid poisoning the ground and make compost instead.
I’m nowhere near perfect. Probably not even adequate, if the past 4-5 months are any indication, but you get back on the horse, so to speak, and pick it up again.
 
Cultivate biodiversity in your yard & your neighbourhood
Feed the soil
Oppose Big Oil
Support Indigenous people doing what they need to do[1]
Give warm socks to homeless shelters and drop-ins
Buy food from ethical-sustainable farmers in your general area
Heck, if you’re able to do so, maybe buy non-perishable food from ethical-sustainable farmers in your general area (or at least your province) and donate them to a foodbank in your general area, too
 
We are part of the land. Part of – only part of, but part of – caring for the land, is caring for its human population. Everything overlaps and links together.
Which is kind of the point, I think.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Sometimes that’s donating to a shelter (like the one on Redeau Street that just lost its funding), sometimes it’s buying work by indigenous artists, sometimes it’s signing petitions and/or writing to MPs demanding something actually get done about the legion of missing & murdered indigenous women & girls in this country. That’s three things. There are a zillion more. Go find them.

Full Moon – Ice Moon Crests

Today’s list of things to do includes:
Buy coffee
Buy food for the parotlet
Buy honey. For the honey pots I’ll be making today. Using old, already empty honey jars, of all things… Maybe I went about this the wrong way?
 
I have leatherwork to mail out (my wife’s work, not mine), the gas bill to pay (in cash, because apparently we’re sketchy in this neck of the woods), and dinner for three to come up with. And all I want to do is soak my ice-cold feet in a hot bath until they thaw out again. The thought of venturing into today’ -30C weather is just… Ick. Don’t wanna!
But you gotta do the work, even (especially) when The Work is the boring, mundane stuff that you’d rather just avoid. Otherwise, nothing gets done.
So.
Errands. Then glamoury and kitchen witchcraft and a hot, HOT shower to warm me up will definitely be part of it! And after that, I can get on with the making of good art and good food.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

(Getting Beyond) Humanity – The Pagan Experience

This is a weird one for me, I have to admit, because “humanity” is, for me, linked to “human population” rather than to the term “humane”. It’s strange, because a significant part of my paganism is about expanding my idea of “community” or “neighbourhood” or “people” to include considerably more than just the human membership.
None the less, I’ll see what I can do with this.
If I take “humanity” to mean “humane-ness”… Well, the most obvious part of that is Good Witching – which I’ve written about plenty already (here’s one of them, if you like), but which boils down to looking out for your neighbours and generally being kind and compassionate, even with people who try your patience. The other part is… well, this is me, right? So: Where does your food come from? I’m still a day or two away from placing my Meat CSA order, but my lovely wife and I have decided to go with this option for, basically, Religious Reasons. If we’re going to eat people – bovine and porcine and avian people – we’d best be making sure they had a good, kind, decent life before they died in order to end up on our table and in our stomachs[1]. Likewise, where does your non-animal-kingdom food come from? Were the farmers paid fairly for their produce & their labour? Were the veggies and fruit trees and mushrooms wild-gathered? Were they raised in healthy soil (particularly if it’s soil that you’re working, yourself)? Were they fed a lot of harsh chemicals?
It basically boils down to: Are you treading lightly on the ground that sustains you? Are you being good to your Neighbours?
Are you?
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] To that end we’ve started eating “vegetarian inspired” food – meaning more food where the protein component comes from beans and grains and nuts, even if the mirpoix is fried in lard, and the beans and grains are cooked in bone-stock – a few times per week, in order to stretch the half-share a little better (and also for a couple of other reasons). The half-share works out, by a conservative estimate, to about 2lbs/week which… I can make stretch across four meals, certainly, though I’d be happier stretching across half of that. I figure if I follow my “some is better than none” principal, I can supplement the half-share with meat from other sources – sausages from the fancy/humane place up the street (which won’t be cheaper, I’m very well aware); fish from the river if I manage to catch any this July; free-run rabbits from the Rabbit Lady; as well as from ethically-okay-ish sources like the Free From brand of pork roasts that I can pick up at the grocery store if I’m so inclined.