Messages Received While at Two Rivers Sanctuary in DC

So, I went to visit my girlfriend in DC – just got home a few days ago – and, while I was there, we made a point of going to Two Rivers Sanctuary to participate in the Full Moon Meditations that are put on by Connect DC (a public ritual group that operates out of the temple).
Something that I’ve noticed, and which was 100% confirmed during this visit, is that I have a much easier time doing energy work when – go figure – there’s a social (as well as physico-energetic) container in-which that work can be done. Whether that’s getting myself singing lessons so that I can Do The Thing in a situation where I’m not secretly terrified that I’m going to Bother Someone, or giving my wife a heads-up that I’m going to be doing Magic in the bath tub that evening (and then setting The Mood by turning off the lights and sparking up a candle), or going to a literal ritual space, be it a (particular kind of) concert, a sanctuary or temple space (think Cathedral Grove, or the shores of Kichissippi, but also various spots at Ravens’ Knoll or Ramblewood), or the Chartres-esque labyrinth my friend mows into the tall grass near her farm house every summer.
So I took the opportunity of being In Church, during the scheduled period of Quiet Contemplation, to try and open up all my chakras (not ALL-all of them, obviously, I mean the seven that line up along my spine) and run energy up and down them.
I did this in part because I’ve been having some difficulty doing this for the last little bit, and I wanted to see if having time-and-space set aside for it would help (see above re: confirmation), and also in part because I’d suggested it as a good spot for any Messages to come through, if there were any to be had, and I wanted to open myself up so that I’d have the best chance of actually picking up on them, if they were being made available.
A long time ago, I read something – I think in one of Starhawk’s books? – about a “quick and dirty” way to wake up your chakras which, tbh? Quick And Dirty suits me JUST fine. Basically, what you do, is you imagine each point in turn as “something you REALLY like” that is the colour of the chakra you’re trying to open.
So, for example, my root chakra is a blousy red rose in full bloom. And also this weird umbilical spidery thing that I can drop out of myself in order to literally root myself to the ground in a Grounding action.
My sacral chakra is, usually, a butternut squash and, sometimes, a broad lick of fire. Sometimes I can get it to kaleidoscope into something that looks like a lily flower starburst.
My heart chakra looks… suspiciously like a green version of one of these (yes, really – I don’t know why, but I’m going with it), from-which vines, tentacles, and occasionally hands will periodically emerge.
My third eye chakra is a pale blue (I know, but I’m going with it – it’s a bit like this, but closer to the sky) circle of light, about the size of a loonie, and sometimes it projects into a laser beam of the same colour.
My crown chakra is usually a circle of white light opening in the top of my head with, sometimes, a purple crown (similar to this one, but with six tines and a Queen Of Heaven vibe) surrounding it.
Notice anything missing?
My solar plexus chakra and my throat chakra didn’t get a mention.
I’ve been trying to get my solar plexus chakra to wake up, reballance, and start getting active by imagining it as a sunflower or a sunburst centered on and/or growing from, my belly button. And it hasn’t quite been doing it.
So this time, I actually went with my weird ass instinctive prompt, and imagined it as a sunflower with vampire teeth. Yeah. Like this thing, but more predatory and minus the guitar.
And it worked. O.O
So that’s a thing.
Apparently “I am powerful and I am comfortable with my power” means being comfortable with the likelihood that My Power is kind of predatory and wants to eat all the things.
This tracks.
My throat chakra, on the other hand, is kind of what the rest of this whole post is going to be about.
The clearest mental image I can get of my throat chakra is of a dark blue, or maybe royal blue, Hand of Fatima that might have the capacity to glow every now and then. Sometimes it hints at being a scilla or something kind of like a dark blue crocus. Most of what I get, and what I’ve got for a long time, when I try to engage that chakra in any significant way is (a) a huge amount of painful pressure in my throat, followed rather quickly by very swollen glands and a generally feeling that I’ve done something that was a Bad Idea.
Which is a problem!
Not the only reason for why being that the messages I was looking for? They arrived. And they all boiled down to this:

Use Your Voice

These included some stuff that had to do with, basically, a big, painful, shame-and-unworthiness-related blockage in my whole throat chakra (which had come up once that day, already); the HP, during the Meditation portion of the evening, saying both “Elevate your daily work, whatever that work is, to the level of spiritual Work” and “Using our gifts is how we give back to the gods that gave them to us”[1]; and also finding the words “Speak the Truth” hanging off the tag of a tea bag I’d picked out at random for it’s throat-soothing qualities after the service.
Also: We sang, just this simple, simple round of a song that I knew (albeit a different version, but the lyrics were easy to pick up), and I cried two different kinds of tears (weepy tears, from both eyes, but also these thick syrupy “flush something out” tears would sometimes just slop out of my left eye as well) and the singing got easier as we went along.
So a thing definitely Happened.
Listen. The throat chakra relates to all sorts of stuff around translating your goals and ideas into real tangible out-in-the-world things. Turning “that idea for a story” into words on a page, turning the build-up of sexual energy into the release of an orgasm, turning the nebulous need for a thing into a statement that can be acted on.

I can’t speak my desires into being, and put any power behind them, if they are literally getting choked off and blocked in my actual/energetic throat.

I’m listening to throat-chakra-healing music on youtube – because this kind of thing has been effective for my root and sacral chakras already, so let’s keep doing what works.
I’m (back to) making the effort to sing every day (humming, noodling, singing along to CDs and spotify, doing warm-up exercises if I’m so inclined) – which, so far, has actually been going more easily than it has in the past, which is hopeful and encouraging – to gently allow energy (and sound, which is energy, um…) to flow through my throat chakra, the goal being to make some (joyful, I hope) music with my body and to let my voice out to play rather than to make it push through in an effort to appease my shame-driven Shoulds (shame, as I’ve mentioned before, not being a great motivator for me).
I’m breathing the words “So Hum” (“I Am That”, seeing yourself as holy, as part of the whole holiness that is – this is a Vedic(?) chant from Hinduism, which is where the system of naming these energy centers as chakras, and the body-and-life stuff associated with each of them, comes from) when I have a quiet moment or five. I’m drinking various throat-soothing teas and saying – whispering or speaking more audibly, but always out loud – “I speak my truth. I use my voice, my breath, my words, my song to work my Will and manifest it in this beautiful world” as I drink them.
I am acting on messages received.
Meliad the Birch Maiden
[1] Plus a whole thing about how “You are always held in Her eye, always loved” which… I could FEEL my energy shrinking into my body – like shrinking away from the message that I might be lovable and held, by someone who’s been part of my life since I was 16 and who has deep, deep ties to music and bringing things out into the world, no less – and I had to MAKE myself stay fully embodied and open to hearing and (hopefully) accepting that, even as my larynx swelled and the pressure in my throat and behind my ears started getting really painful… uh, see above re: throat blockage connected to feelings of shame and unworthiness.

New Year New You 2019: Week 20 – Hearth Appreciation Week

I’m (once again) doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. It’s a good mix of practical, magical, and thought-based exercises to help accomplish specific and significant change in your own life. If it’s relevant to your interests, give it a try!
Instructions: This week, let’s focus on what is likely your disaster of a hearth.
Tarot Card: Ten of Pentacles

Wildwood Tarot – Ten of Stones: “Home” – A traditional wattle-and-daub Round House, visible through a stone arch. The house is in good repair, and there is a great tree growing through the center of its thatched roof.

Well… She’s not wrong. My house/hearth is often a disaster, and now is no exception, especially having effectively gone from the dazed-and-full-of-cheese headspace of the Midwinter-to-New-Years period directly into a week in a different country, visiting my Young Lady.
So this prompt is coming at a convenient time for a bunch of reasons but primarily… it’s just Time, and having multiple Reasons that aren’t connected to the feeling of “Ew, my home is gross and I want to avoid it” or similar… really helps to get me to Do The Thing.
Shame is not a good motivator for me.
“Elevate your daily work to the level of spiritual Work” (to quote Katrina, from Two Rivers Sanctuary in DC) is a good motivator for me.
“You’re an animist, so treat all the people who make up your living space WELL” is a good motivator for me.
“It’s EASIER to Entertain At Home when the dishes are reliably clean and the fridge isn’t crowded with suspicious tupperware” is a good motivator for me.
“You will have better sleep AND better sex in your bedroom if the sheets are clean, the sex toys are readily available, and the room doesn’t smell ever-so-faintly of the eight million dirty socks in the hamper”… is a good motivator for me!
So having Ms Sugar telling me – in stereo – to tidy up my physical living space is… working well for me on a number of levels.
While I know this is going to take more than a week, even with me having a fair bit of time available to dedicate to it, this where I’m at so far (having started two days ago):
I’ve given the living room bookshelves their first once-over, weeding out books that I want to rehome, and am starting the (more difficult but not Actually Difficult) task of gathering up all the Random Objects currently blocking access to the books I want to keep, so that I can re-organize the book shelves in such a way that all the photos and pretty rocks and similar look like they’re there on purpose, rather than because they had nowhere else to go.
I have a PLN for how to get my Sacred Writing Area actually tidy (it leans heavily on putting a set of stacking trays in one corner, tbh, and is pretty easy to do once I get ahold of some stacking trays).
I’m about 1/3 of the way through dealing with “my corner” of the bedroom, having gone through the side table and removed the expired safer sex supplies, and having unearth the deacon’s bench – and, in the process, having discovered that MOST of the clothing that’s been heaped on top of it for months is actually CLEAN, folded laundry that just needs to be put away – cleaned it out, and put away (or re-put-away) all the kink equipment. There’s still lots to do – finish sweeping the floor, tidy the surface of my side table, do about four loads of laundry at the laundromat, and hang the giant mirror above the deacon’s bench so that I can dangle various floggers, crops, and cute hats off the hooks that grace the frame’s corners.
My wife and I have a “date” this weekend to organize the part of the kitchen that will most help get the rest of the place tidy and easy to use – we were gifted a second-hand, needs-some-work washer and dryer, and we’ve finally determined that we are never going to clandestinely do the plumbing it would take to make the washer a usable item, so they are going out to the scrap yard and we are putting a couple of industrial shelving units + a small drop-leaf table (the latter is less relevant, but will probably be involved) in their place so that heavy things like 10kg bags of flour, flats of mason jars, small appliances (and the cider press my wife got my as a Midwinter Surprise), containers of dry goods, and baskets of root veggies – BUT ALSO buckets of mechanics equipment, jugs of cleaning vinegar, and various garbage and recycling bins – can be shelved in an orderly and accessible fashion, freeing up the Tall Zone on top of the cupboards for less-frequently-used and much lighter-weight items as the dehydrator and the canning pots.
The floors have been swept and vacuumed (this is a weekly/biweekly thing already, at least), the bathroom has been scrubbed, and will be getting graced with a cute art piece once it arrives from New Zealand in… anywhere from two weeks to two months, and I have an appointment with myself to Magically Scrubbing Bubbles my home in order to sweep insomnia, apathy, irritability, and avoidance right of the place.
Time to keep some appointments!
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

New Year New You 2019: Week 19 – Small Steps Towards Changing My Baseline

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: What can you do this week to change your life?
Tarot Card: Ace of Earth

Ace of Discs - Mary El - A winged woman contemplates the ground beneath her feet. A green labyrinth blooms from her solar plexus. The alchemical sign for Earth is in the position of her third eye. Her head is that of a white cow (symbolizing Taurus, the sign of material comfort)

Ace of Discs – Mary El – A winged woman contemplates the ground beneath her feet. A green labyrinth blooms from her solar plexus. The alchemical sign for Earth is in the position of her third eye. Her head is that of a white cow (symbolizing Taurus, the sign of material comfort).

Oh, readers, this is where I witter.
I don’t know what’s going to change my life for the better.
I mean, I know: Getting a publisher for my chapbook (not 100% under my control, already under way, but waaaaay too early to follow up with my first – and first-choice – local indie imprint that’s already got the manuscript), submitting my work to paid markets, applying for PT jobs and landing myself an anchor income, booking more shoots in Renfrew[1].
But none of that is a new thing. That’s just the next step in a thing I’ve been doing for two years.
I’m looking at this writing prompt, reading it as “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten”, and wondering what DIFFERENT thing I can do that will SIGNIFICANTLY change my life for the better.
And… I’m not sure?
I have a friend who’s offered me a free “therapy practice-session” (she’s training to be a therapist, and wants some practice hours before she starts her actual Practicum).
So my “concrete thing I can do this week” is to schedule that hour-long session.
My plan is to use it to talk through some of my Weirdo Money Feels which, I hope, will help me reset my “baseline” without feeling gross and ugly.
Seriously, I look up Suze Orman books at the library and I have a literal disgust reaction to titles like “The Courage To Be Rich”[2].
But, in the spirit of trying to change up my “money mind-set”, I’ve put a few of her books, along with a couple of similar “psychology of personal finance” books, on hold at the library which, in theory, I should be able to pick up before the week is out, too.
[1] Seriously. So much of what will change my life for the better boils down to “An extra $1000 per month in reliable income”, it’s not even funny.
[2] My reaction: “Oh, yes, because it takes such bravery to be a parasite“. So… clearly I’m having some feelings over here.

New Moon – Long Nights Moon Begins (Winter Solstice 2019)

“A new moon setting over Gåseberg, Lysekil Municipality, Sweden”. Photo by W. Carter via Wiki Free Images. A thin sliver of a waxing cresccent hanging high over the western horizon, with a December forest, in silhouette, below.

Technically, we are already turning back towards longer days and shorter nights, although we won’t see the reality of that for another six weeks or so. Winter Solstice – and my seventh wedding anniversary – have come and gone, and I’m due to fly out to visit my girlfriend in just under two weeks. I have a bag of socks to bring to Centre 507 between now and then and a few pairs of slippers to (try and) knit.
It’s been a long time since I wrote one of these. There’s snow on the ground and, thanks to weirdo fluctuating temperatures, also lots of ice. I’ve spotted raccoon tracks in the back yard, and ran into the rabbit – the one who spent all summer growing up in our back yard – out back again (it’s nice to see they’re still alive!) the other night. I put out the last of a chicken carcass, last Saturday, and explicitly invited a nearby crow to come and have at, and they did – along with a second crow who they may or may not have known. It’s nice to see my neighbours, you know?
Right now, I’m enjoying a little bit of quiet time at home while my wife and her partner are out for a walk together. But I keep thinking about the impending New Year. About how I keep seeing people – magically-inclined people in particular, although that’s probably just my sample selection – talking about how 2020 is Go Time, and yet I’m still not sure where exactly I’m supposed to be Going. I think about how the dark end of the year, where we are now, is time for contemplation, time for Shadow Work, and how I have some shadowy stuff around my ideas about “comfortable” = “rich” but “rich” = “bad”.
Chani’s one-sentence year-ahead horoscope for Scorpio says “Growth through communications, writing projects, and your daily life and rituals” (obviously I also looked a Gemini for my Rising and Cancer for my Moon, but still) and pairs that up with this: “2020 is a year that is dedicated to making sure that your messages reach a much wider audience”.
Which lines up nicely with my goals of (a) find a publisher for my latest chapbook, (b) submit my poetry to more paid markets, and (c) continue to make time for poetry-writing on the regular. I may or may not seek out a couple of poetry workshops through Tree or Little Birds or one of the other local poetry get-togethers.
Quite a while ago, when I turned forty (just after Samhain), I did a quick tarot reading that included “Your deepest desire” as the Seven of Air. Which I had to chew on for a WHILE – and talk to my girlfriend and Ms Sugar about for a bit – before I sorted out what the heck that was supposed to be about.
My deepest desire is the “get away with it” – to keep my weird, heavy-on-unstructured-time, art life and yet also have enough income to be comfortable-and-safe long term in the time and place that I live.
A desire which, apparently, is being blocked by my own metaphorical fear of flying and dread of stepping into my own power (I was using the Silicon Dawn deck, and the “block” card I drew was Aleph Yin November, AKA The Fool Who Flew).
The rest of the reading was “What I might lose” (the solitude of the Six of Air), “What I might gain” (the literal success of the Six of Fire), and “How to get there” (The Magician, which kind of confirms the whole “Your… issues around claiming/wielding your own power are what’s holding you back” situation).
During my two weeks of WTF about the Seven of Air, though, I pulled a “What’s this about?” card, which was the Ace of Fire. More stuff about the fire chakras – about Sex-and-Money stuff, and Will stuff too – and about power.
So. That’s a thing right there.
Anyway. Earlier today, I did a quick “tarot grab” – just yank a handful of cards out of the middle of the Mary El deck because they were sticking out slightly as a group – and was like “So… What do I need to do about this?”
Upright: Knight of Earth
Upright: The Empress
Reversed: Queer of Earth
Reversed: Queen of Wands
So. Stuff to work on Out In The World, where I interact with other people?
Keep taking those (baby) steps, one after another, to physically do the things to ensure your material stability, rather than settling for the smallest, safest gains. Be prudent, don’t be risk-averse.
Welcome abundance, connect to the material/physical world in concrete ways, accept and enjoy the Nice Things that come your way, rather than rejecting/avoiding them due to the belief that you don’t “deserve” them.
Stuff to work on Internally, where I interact with my Self, and with my own beliefs, stories, shadows, and assumptions:
Cultivate resourcefulness, practice self-kindness and self-forgiveness; Cultivate trust in yourself by showing up for yourself in real, tangible ways.
Cultivage optimism, enthusiasm, and grace amid chaos; practice my glamoury and my self-confidence, treat myself luxuriously.
I shall take these as my marching orders for the coming year and, hopefully, they’ll help me unblock myself so I can Get Away With It as I’m inclined.
Fingers crossed. 😉
Judgement - Mary El Tarot - A phoenix in flames, shrieking, her tongue unfurling around a pentacle. Magic, fire, transformation.

Judgement – Mary El Tarot – A phoenix in flames, shrieking, her tongue unfurling around a pentacle. Magic, fire, transformation.

As for my Tarot Card Meditation, I pulled another card from the Mary El deck, and got Judgement.
This remains the “You Are The Things That’s Burning” card for me. A card that says “time to make big changes on the inside,” that says “time to transform”.
I’ll be thinking about how it relates to that Ace of Fire, and keeping it in mind as the year turns over and I get ready to start the Magical Refresher Course I signed up for a few months ago.
Movement: My wife and I went dancing on our anniversary! 😀 😀 😀 (That was a week ago, and the rest has been a lot of lounging around the house eating Solstice leftovers, so… not tonnes. Time, I suspect, to re-start the Yoga Practice in a daily way, so that I don’t go to rust before January).
Attention: Watching the weather, mostly. Lots of ice on the ground and freezing rain in the forecast, but the weather in DC looks pretty balmy from where I’m standing, so I’m looking froward to my impending visit down south. Also paying attention to the porcelain doll pumpkin that is in need of Attention on my kitchen floor. I need to cut that open (and cut out the soft bits, and save some of the seeds) and bake it, and then freeze the result, since I have a tonne of pumpkin butter on the shelves already.
Gratitude: Grateful for my wife, who is wonderful. Grateful for my yarn stash and my skills with the sticks and the strings. Grateful for friends who turned up in force for the Solstice party. Grateful that my friend’s dog made it home safe and sound after running away for a few days. Grateful for my girlfriend and her girlfriend being able to get to a garage when the clutch blew on their car. Grateful for pals with vehicles who helped us bring a little 12-foot blue dinghy home with us last week. Grateful for how-to videos on youtube. Grateful for a full larder, for fancy cheese and snazzy sausages, for wine and mulled cider and cranberry juice in abundance. Grateful for vacation time with my wife right now, and for being able to fly down to visit my girlfriend in only Ten More Sleeps. Grateful for my Mom making a point of inviting my metamour to come to New Year’s Dinner at her place, without any prompting at all. Grateful for a new-to-me oak-and-iron cider press from my wife. Grateful for four seasons and the spring that will get here eventually. Grateful for crafternoons and writing dates with my friends. My life is pretty great.
Inspiration: Mary Oliver. Bernadette Banner. My copy of Her Words poetry about various goddesses. The crows rooting through my compost heap. The raccoon and rabbit tracks I spot in my back yard. The religious lives of my romantic partners. The quiet stillness, that isn’t really stillness, of the back garden under the ice.
Creation: Okay, while I’ve been reminding myself how to write a freaking poem, and my work is getting better as I ease myself into a new theme (that I’m a little nervous about exploring through poetry, tbh, but that I think wants doing), but the main thing I’ve been Creating over the past two weeks is knitwear. A sweater for my wife as a seventh anniversary present (it will, as of tomorrow, be a week late, and I need to get another ball of yarn before I can finish it, but I’m so close, you guys, so close!) as well as coordinating bedroom slippers for my brother and his shiny new fiancee.

New Year New You 2019: Week 18 – The Sun Inside

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: She mentioned that she knew someone who took a moment in her cube every morning to empty her brain of the old crap so she had room to let new crap in. That made sense to me! So that’s what I am going to do. Why don’t you try it. too?
Tarot Card: The Sun (and The Chariot) – I chose these cards for their overlapping connections with confidence and success. The Sun touches on things like “knowing your worth”, “trusting your abilities”, “and believing you can succeed”, as well as “getting noticed” and “experiencing greatness”, while The Chariot pertains to “being successful”, “achieving goals”, and “getting your way”, as well as “using your will” and “feeling self-confident”.

The Sun - The Slutist Tarot - A witchy babe in a bell-sleeved mini dress, a broad-brimmed black hat, and sunglasses lounges on a red blanket with a book

The Sun – The Slutist Tarot – A witchy babe in a bell-sleeved mini dress, a broad-brimmed black hat, and sunglasses lounges on a red blanket with a book

The Chariot - The Next World Tarot - A femme in a pink cocktail dress, fur collar, turquoise boots, and with a crescent moon in her hair, takes her pet miniature elephants for a walk

The Chariot – The Next World Tarot – A femme in a pink cocktail dress, fur collar, turquoise boots, and with a crescent moon in her hair, takes her pet miniature elephants for a walk

Maybe there’s something kismet-y about deciding to do this right around Winter Solstice, but my attempt to breathe out the old stuff to let the new stuff in looks like trying to unblock my 3rd chakra.
A while back – six months ago, maybe? – I was at a party, talking to a druid (as one does), who commented that I was very connected to the world around me via my first and second chakras, but had some kind of blockage or stuckness going on that was preventing those connections from happening any higher up.
Like, no kidding. A significant chunk of this whole project has been doing root-chakra and sacral-chakra energy work (and yoga and dancing and listening to the related binaural soundscapes on youtube) to try to balance those areas in order to make it easier for me to bring material stability and (further) sensuality and eroticism into my life.
I know this particular prompt was about “let yourself be still for a while” but… I hold still all the time. Literally, for my job, but also in terms of being frozen with indecision – like “Oh no, what if I apply for this job, AND this other job, and one of them hires me and then so does the other one, and I have to say No to somebody” and similar.
It’s a tad ridiculous, you might say.
I’ve been talking with Ms Sugar, she who created this whole Experiment in the first place, about “jumping and living to tell the tale” and about how I’m simultaneously scared to death of taking any risks ever at all AND feeling like I’ve been taking (admittedly tiny) calculated risks every other week for the past eight years.
But even knowing that. Even recognizing that my poetry is coming along, and I’m getting requests for contributions (I mean, they’re paid with contributor copies, but still) and occasionally getting my work accepted in paid publications. Even recognizing that I’ve built a solid modeling career over the past 10 years. Even recognizing that I’m getting better at small magics (like charmed objects and honey pots) and energy work. Even recognizing that I’m a LOT more comfortable in sexual situations than I was when I started my Empress Project… Even recognizing all of that, I can see myself keeping myself small.
I can see myself going “Okay, but if I step into My Power and actually Take Up Space, and people not going to come after me with literal baseball bats to make sure I never do that again??”
Which… is at least somewhat unlikely to happen?
I can see that there’s some kind of a disconnect between my Wanting and my Will.
So my current attempt at breathing out the old crap to let new, less-crappy crap come in, is this:
I am visualizing a sunflower and/or a solar flare and/or this hypothetical Pictish tattoo in my abdominal region, while repeating “I am powerful and I am comfortable with my power” and imagining the flower/flare getting brighter every time I breath in, as though I were stoking a fire.
I hope this will help me develop the internal fortitude for sustained acts of Will and for putting myself out there and Getting Noticed in bigger ways.

New Year New You 2019 : Week 17 – A Big Ritual

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: So now that you’ve done the small magics, I think it’s time to do a big ritual to further one or more of your goals.

Candle Magic in Progress - My working altar set-up, as viewed from the East.

Candle Magic in Progress – My working altar set-up, as viewed from the East.

As all of you know by now, I’m not a Big Rituals kind of gal. I put songs on repeat to help me enter something adjacent to a trance, maybe once or twice a year, and do little rituals (offerings roughly once a week, greeting my gods at the crossroads and as I see them, the first slice from a fresh batch of bread, stuff like that) fairly frequently, but Big Magical Doings that require a lot of prep and planning… are not typically My Bag.
I just turned forty.
I love my weirdo freelancing art life, and I want to keep it.
But I am so, SO tired (like physically and emotionally worn out, but also “sick of this crap” tired) of the precarity that comes with it.
I marked my birthday with a week worth of fun and lovely events, which wrapped up just before the recent full moon in Taurus, and I wanted to harness that “manifesting abundance and pleasure and security” stuff that comes with the Taurus full moon and its major-major link with The Empress.
So I spent a day working out how to turn my Greatest Hits Wish List into a series of little doodles – not exactly sigils (except in the case of making a little glyph to represent my immediate polycule), but stuff along those lines. I planned out what I’d need, in terms of materials. I sorted out offerings and harvested the herbs from my (snowed under, so that was a thing) garden. I took a calculated risk in collecting one of the other elements of the altar and the magic to be made on it, and made sure to leave offerings and… I guess I could call them connections(?) in return. I took the time (and energy, and resources, and skills) to make bread from scratch, and on Moonday, which handily actually WAS the night of the full moon (and which I also, thankfully, had off AND which was overcast enough for it to get dark enough to light candles earlier in the day), I turned my coffee table into an altar space and got to work.
So. You know the thing “To Know, To Will, To Dare, To Keep Silent”?
I don’t actually know how many of the specifics of this I should be yacking about in front of the whole internet. So, in the interests of not screwing it up or pissing Anybody off, I’m going to be a bit vague on things.
BUT. The general gist is this:
First thing, as you can see from the photo, above, I was doing candle magic, just in a more intense way than I often do. Even when I go big, I’m still pretty basic in terms of what I do.
I wanted to have stuff that grew in my yard – my space, the place I have some kind of a friendly (uh, I’d like to think) relationship with – sitting in each of the quarters. I wanted the elements represented by things that I wanted and things that connected me to success and security. There’s a brick from the house my mom grew up in (among other things), in the North. The South is all sex toys and kinky equipment. The East is the various hard-copy books and chaps that I’ve been published in (why, yes, ALL of them). The West is the tarot cards I drew for my birthday, all those hope-and-heart cards, plus a piece of fancy stemware. The Centre was raised up on a fancy cake tray (40th birthday gift, also hospitality and fanciness), and has the Empress card that I used to kick off my whole Empress Project in the first place. The votive candles I used had been lit at my birthday party, and I treated them like Birthday Candles (as in “make a wish”).
I sang (just a little – the chorus of a song that I treated as a prayer), I gave offerings that were a little fancier than I usually do, and that included a little bit of pain, and a moderate amount of blood, on my part. But the big difference in how I did this whole thing is that, when I cast the circle, I got a little bit extra. I’m not usually one to call the guardians of the watchtowers of absolutely anything. But this time I reached out to the People of the four directions, and called the Above and the Below to run the world pillar through my spine.
And they showed up.
They came.
I hadn’t been expecting that.
Don’t go getting me wrong here, I’m very glad they did. But it was an optional thing for them. I’m… touched? That the Spirits of Place, the People who orient us in space and in… action? Is that a good way to put it? That they came and were willing to witness, and maybe even help.
I did The Thing.
I think my giant bag of soil is probably thawed out by now (it having had a week to hang out in the warm), so I can now take the last of the accoutrements off the altar space and do the last bit of the ceremony, at which point I can have my coffee table back.
In prepping for this, my wife asked me if it was going to come at a cost – because everything has a cost. She works with a goddess who takes payment in blood and pain (there are so many of these) and she was worried about me getting hurt, basically. So we ended up having a discussion about different types of relationships.
I talked about how I’ve been involved with my pantheon actively for a couple of decades, that I check in with them and say Hello often, and that I generally don’t show up with my hand out. I said “There’s wine on the altar right now” – wine that had been offered the previous Friday – and that while I didn’t give my Gods and Ancestors wine and cookies and bread and occasional whisky and other tasty things in order to, you know, manipulate them into feeling like they have to help me, the fact that I’ve been doing this for a long time – much as with more corporeal people – will get you a certain amount of trust and good will. If you show up for your friends, and want to hang out just for the sake of hanging out, they are more likely to show up for you when you need help with a thing. (This is, incidentally, one of the reasons I tend not to contract out and do transactional work with deities outside of my pantheon. I don’t know, and won’t necessarily be able to accurately discern, what kind of payment they might want. And I’m hesitant to offer any kind of tradesies when I don’t know what I’m getting myself into).
I did my ritual, my ceremony, made my offerings, around the themes of the Empress.
May it be, may it be, may it be. ❤
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

New Moon – Harvest Moon Begins (and Grows) – Season of the Witch

“Winter Squash” – Photo by Sheila Sund, via Wiki Media Commons. Three winter squash – butternut, sweet dumpling, and buttercup – are to the left of the image, dramatically lit from the right, on an otherwise bare surface, against a black backdrop.

The mornings are down in the single digits these days, and the nights are hovering around freezing. The back yard is full of blooming New England asters (the purple kind) and, while nothing’s been knocked down by frost just yet (to my surprise), I know it’s coming. We turned the furnace on today and have extra blankets on the bed.
Autumn is so very, very here.
We’re slipping towards Root Time pretty quickly now. The leaves are turning. I have bunches of mugwort, yellow mustard (seed pods, in the latter case), sage, and thyme hanging in the kitchen to finish drying. We opened a bottle of Sortilege (a month earlier than I would have, if I hadn’t hidden said bottle away late last April), and I made an offering with the first glass of it to kick off the Season of the Witch.
It’s getting towards introspection season – although, realistically, that’s all year long if you’re me – and, like a lot of people, I’ve got a lot of stuff on my mind.
I went to the Climate Justice Rally the other day – and felt less useless for having gone, I have to admit, though I wasn’t expecting that. I keep looking at my somewhat feral yard, where – when we moved in, five years ago (just about exactly), I had hoped to plant a riot of winter squash, rather like the ones displayed in the photo at the top of this post, along with lots of perennial fruits and herbs.
I keep looking at it and wondering “Have I done right by you?”
Because, as I keep lamenting, I’m not doing very well at this vegetable gardening thing.
But my yard is a tiny ecosystem. Squirrels and rats (alas), a skunk and a rabbit, a family of raccoons, a semi-feral cat, and a lot of starlings and sparrows (and the odd bluebird, crow, cardinal) have our yard as part of their territory. The back patio is under-pinned (or destabilized, maybe) by a few different kinds of ants. There are spiders, wasps (parasitic and otherwise), two kinds of solitary bee, a few different kinds of butterfly, centipedes, pill bugs, ladybugs, slugs (alas) and snails, and earthworms the thickness of my finger. Between what I grow on purpose, what my neighbour grows on purpose, and what I just allow to grow wild, as it will, we’ve got about half the number of unique plant species that one would find in a healthy tall grass prairie represented and thriving between the front and the back yards of our little row of townhouses. And that’s something I’m proud of.
“Have I done right by you?”
The ground is so literal.
I like to think that the offerings of home-made beeswax candles, fresh bread and (not home-made) butter, maple whiskey, and sometimes other tasty things, are appreciated and enjoyed. (Certainly the squirrels like the bread, if that’s any indication).
But I kind of suspect that the compost heap, with its regular additions of coffee grounds, toilet paper tubes, stewed bones, vegetable peelings, and human hair, is more helpful (and more wanted) in the long run. That thinning the Himalayan Balsam so that the Crane’s Bill and Turtlehead had room to grow, but leaving enough of it for the bees to visit, and sowing white clover and wildflower seeds (after thinning out the grass, golden rod, and dog-strangling-vine), probably matter more to my Lady of Earth and my Lady of the Meadow than whether or not I managed to cultivate a lot of winter squash in any given year, even when my Lady of the Meadow is also the winter squash and the raspberries (which consistently refuse to fruit, even now).
“Have I done right by you?”
It’s harvest time. The squirrels have already dug up (and gnawed upon) the narcissus bulbs given to us by a friend. The two pounds of carrots I brought home from the grocery store a week or two ago are waterlogged and not doing so well, and I’m having The Feels about food waste. Again. The dill seed heads I harvested went moldy (because I didn’t dry them well enough and didn’t store them right). I still haven’t harvested crab apples, even though I walked by a tree loaded with them twice this past week. I feel wasteful rather than abundant.
“Have I done right by you?”
I shuffle the deck by my computer – the Next World, which isn’t the deck I’d usually use for this. The Chariot falls out. The Three of Cups almost jumps with it. I shuffle and shuffle. Look longingly at the Three of Cups, Nine of Cups, now layered one on top of the other at the very bottom of my deck. Pull a card off the top and it’s The Sun.
I want to take that as a Yes.
I want this to be true:

One of the other reasons why I was asking if I’ve done right by the land I live on is that we found out, just about a month ago, that the building we live in has been put up for sale.
It’s terrifying.
Not least of why being that we’re barely able to cover the bills we have now, and housing – across the city, not just in the neighbourhood we’ve lived in for over a decade and want to stay in – is running $400-$700 more expensive per month than we can handle.
I think about moving, and I just get a tight chest, churning stomach, racing thoughts, and nothing actually useful done. I sob my eyes out thinking that we’ll be this house’s last family and that life is going to stay (financially) hard for the foreseeable.
It’s awful.
I’ve been looking for an anchor income for a while now, but I’m kind upping the search because, if we’re going to afford to live, well, anywhere by the time this unusually-affordable rental house is yanked out from under us, I’m going to need to be SURE that I can show up with at least $800/month to put towards housing and utilities.
Sometimes I think that planning to move in the spring is putting the cart before the horse. We have to be able to afford to move before we can actually do so. (At least… I hope that’s how it works out). TBH, I’ve spent a lot of the past four weeks – when I’m not job-hunting or canning or cleaning or writing poetry or doing paid work – wondering how to get myself focused enough to determine What I Really Want, specifically so that I can work some magic towards those ends.
A lot of the past year has been working on the “art” and “sex” elements of my Empress Project. But the Empress, as much as she is VERY MUCH about creativity and sensuality, is also about abundance and stability and I think I need to spend some time (energy, attention, Work) leaning into those aspects.
I wonder to myself what I can offer in exchange for help getting the kind of moderately flexible, very-part-time office/remote-assistant job I’m looking for and what, should I actually secure said job, I can offer on top of that (or after that) to secure the kind of living space we want (2 bedrooms, laundry on site, no pests, ideally with gardening space and a big kitchen, pets A-okay), in any of the neighbourhoods we want, at a price we can afford long-term even if the rent goes up every year.
I keep thinking of Ms Sugar’s long-ago Thoughts on Blood As A Sometimes Food.
I keep thinking of… I think it’s T. Thorn Coyle’s book Sigil Magic where she talks about how doing ritual isn’t the same as doing magic any more than emoting or obsessing about something is the same as working your Will. I keep thinking about how I rarely have any idea if what I’m doing is actually going to get off the ground, let alone get results, let alone-alone get the kind of results I actually want.
Which, like, doesn’t help me actually have the confidence to try spellworking for this stuff, you know?
Regardless – and I will surely come back to the above more than once over the coming winter – in my most recent fit of “I don’t know what to dooooooooooo!!!” I did what I tend to do in times of trouble and uncertainty, and started pulling tarot cards.
(Basically, I don’t necessarily even shuffle anything, I just grab the deck and split it at random points).
This is the spread I used.
What do I need to think about: The Chariot
What do I need to do: The Eight of Cups
What is my challenge: The Knight of Pentacles
What is my secret weapon: The Four of Wands

I tend to read The Chariot as “get up / wake up, and go”. A card about taking action. And it is. But it’s very specifically a card about working one’s will to achieve one’s goals. It’s a card about doing, sure. But it’s also a card about doing magic.
The Eight of Cups is typically a card of “mourn and move on”. It’s a card that touches on burnout and anxiety, for sure. And one that suggests leaning into spiritual growth and personal truth, as well. But it’s most often (for me, at least) a card about grieving and letting go, about tying up loose ends and walking away.
The Knight of Earth (I can find a picture of the Next World Tarot’s take on the Knight of Pentacles, but there are lots of options out there) is a solid character. But, in the position of a “challenge”, their slow-and-steady nature turns to “afraid to take risks” or “pessimistic” or “keeps themself (too) small”.
As for the Four of Wands, for me, it’s always been a card about Community. Participation. Joyful interaction. Strengthening the web of relationships that one is part of. It’s also, however, a card that feels, one the one hand, like the opposite of the Knight of Pentacles’ more challenging aspects – “looking forward expectantly”, “letting go of limitations”, and “opening to new possibilities” – while, on the other, being almost the flip-side of the coin to the Eight of Cups – “getting out of an oppressive situation”, “reflecting on accomplishments”, and “breaking free of bonds”. There’s also an aspect of this card that pertains to taking part in a ritual or rite, although I tend to think that’s more about things like weddings or milestone birthdays (like my upcoming 40th, ye gods…) than, like, solo magical workings in my bathtub. None the less. >.>
What do I need to think about: Taking action physically and magically.
What do I need to do: Mourn the (impending, as-yet-unscheduled) loss of this house, and move on (literally as well as figuratively).
What is my challenge: Doing the leg work without getting frozen into inaction due to fear and risk-aversion. Not losing sight of the good stuff over the horizon just because things feel (VERY) precarious right now. Avoiding despair while job- and neighbourhood- hunting in late-stage capitalism and an increasingly expensive city.
What is my secret weapon: My people. My hope. My resistance.
I want to keep these cards – these four, and The Sun – in mind as my tarot card meditaiton during this waxing moon. To get’er done without losing sight of my worth and without giving up my arts-oriented work (modeling as a career, and poetry as an a/vocation). To keep making art and magic, possibly in combination. To remember that I’m not entirely powerless. To accept the joy when it comes.
Movement: Not nearly enough. Short, dynamic poses during modeling gigs. Walking all over the place. But that’s about it. I think there needs to be more dancing in my life.
Attention: Unsurprisingly? Sniffing around as to what housing costs in which neighbourhoods in town. Keeping an eye on the job boards. Watching the garden for the inevitable frost that will knock a lot of it down (at which-point, it’s clean-up time).
Gratitude: Thankful, however ruefully, for the neighbours and friends who brought up having seen the listing for our building on the national real estate website, and for the landlords for not denying it when we brought it up. For library books. For quiet evenings in. For a furnace that works. For clean water that comes right out of the tap. For the tool library. For friends who check in. For slow mornings with my wife. For my girlfriend’s impending (mere days away!) visit. For the upcoming weekend-long kink convention we’ll be attending. For hand-me-down clothes that fit and look good on me. For kindness. For hope.
Inspiration: Ongoing climate disaster and housing insecurity, because it’s an ill wind, apparently. :-\ Outside of that, Mabon and related seasonal changes and astrological events, plus the poets of Hustling Verse and also those in my extended circle of queer, polyamourous chosen families. It’s a good place to be.
Creation: I wrote two new glosas! I wrote them yesterday! I’m so excited! 😀 😀 😀 I really hope I can keep this up! 😀 Fingers crossed!