Big-C Crafting, Little-C Crafting, Moving Your Body, and Unblocking Your Magic

As I’m writing this, people I care about are making their way towards my city (and, in a couple of case, my house) for a Leather Family Reunion of sorts. I’ll be bringing my handspinning with me (again, and along with a couple of big vats of food because: this is me we’re talking about) in order to soak up some of The Fam into the yarn I’m spinning (and spinning, and spinning… I’ve been doing this for most of a year now and, possibly because I’ve been deliberately felting the yearn when I wash it, I’m still not finished my various shawl stripes and keep needing to generate more yarn to get the lengths right…).
For a brief little bit (like a couple of hours – there was, to my relief, a bit of a crossed wire there) I was on the hook for a short-notice workshop/craft-and-chatter-session about the work of one’s hands and how it relates to Power (in the kink sense) and also Power (in the spirituality sense).
 
My personal unified theory of How I Function Best has a lot to do with how (and if) I move around. Given that I spend a tonne of my time ensconsed on a couch, or in a chair (less frequently), typing away at All The Things, this may explain why it’s so easy for me to become despondent and generally get bogged down the Swamp of the Psyche (if you’re familiar with Brene Brown, you will probably alreqdy know that this means Shame).
Doing things with my hands – and, more generally, working my body – is a way to combat/avoid this, yes. But It’s the WHY of it that gets my attention from a Witchy perspective. Dancing, singing, blending yin and yang (hatha) yoga, going walking, working in the garden, doing handicrafts, doing the chopping/kneading/general-prep of a slow-cooking meal, even hand-cranking our little, borrowed laundry pod… all of that stuff helps to get my Energy moving freely. No blockages. It shakes off the random, yet never-ending, tiredness. It helps me direct my own energy (practically and magically) towards whatever goals I happen to be wrestling with at the time.
 
I realize that this probably sounds pretty Artists-Way-y, but there it is. Move your body, make things with your hands, and you (or at least I) will find it easier to make things (create things, create changes, make things happen) with your mind and your magic.

Spring Equinox and New Moon – SnowMelt Moon Begins

Spring is springing, at least in the way it usually does around here with its two-steps-forward-one-step-back kind of loping, unsteady dance. The buds on the magnolia trees are swelling and, in the spots near the west-facing walls (you know, where the snow is already gone) you can see the tips of snowdrops and scilla poking through the soil. Our patio is becoming a small lake – here’s hoping that our basement doesn’t do the same thing – and the glacier that has been our back porch since early December is slowly receeding.
Hurrah!
We are plotting the garden that will be once the yard is free of snow and the raised beds can be built. My lovely wife has already decided that there will be a tiny steam engine circumnavigating the whole thing. C’est la vie. ;-)
 
I ordered perfume oil from The Mermaid and The Crow and I’m putting it to use in a couple of different ways. For now, this is basically an experiment, but I’m Noticing Things, so there’s that.
 
Lovely Wife and I went out last night and wound up going home early (alas – because we are Old, and also Sick, apaprently?) and missed having martinis with some cool people because of it. Pity. Granted, I’m bringing this up because we wound up having a bit of a Radiomancy experience halfway between Event #1 and Event #2. Specifically, we stopped in at a pub to grab a little bit of a food and kill the hour between the end of Event #1 (Laverne Cox’s lecture in our neighbourhood) and Event #2 (martinis with the VE crew + Midori – what were we thinking, giving that a miss? I know!) and, as we nibbled on sweet potato fried, a song came on over the speakers with a chorus that went “Go home, go home!” over and over again. We looked at each other and decided to call it a night, because stuff doesn’t usually speak THAT clearly (at least not to me – they do it to her all the time).
 
So there was that.
 
I made bread yesterday (two loaves – I’m now out of whole wheat flour and running low on cooking oil, but supplies are holding up really nicely in terms of everything else) and bone stock today – eight cups from the first boil, but I’m running a second batch over night, which will hopefully get me as much again of more solid “meat jello” stuff (and that’ll be one more bag of bones out of my freezer – hurrah!).
I’m looking forward to a weekend full of friends, creativity, and flow-arts stuff, hopefully with some thinky thoughts about spirituality-type-stuff thrown in. (I have a pot-luck lunch to make – brown rice salad with cramberries, carrots, greens, beans, and whatever else I can throw in there) – and dinner plans with a cute lady + her partner + my partner (likewise a cute lady). It should be a good time. :-)
 
By the time this moon is full (because New Moon and Equinox were both about a week ago at this point), it will be April. We’ll be four days into our Eat From The Larder Challenge for 2015, and I’ll hopefully have called the clothing shop to remind them that I’m still interested in working for them if they’re hiring in May (at which point, my lovely wife may be making a slight career adjustment – which would be helped by me having a similar career adjustment going on concurrently). Here’s hoping this spring will bring with it new growth, more wakefulness, and a general stretching forth in terms of what I can do both with what I have and with what I hope I can get.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Things I’ve Learned About My Own #Preserves – March 2015 Edition

Okay. So it’s mid-March. I just did a quick eye-balling of the freezers (yes, plural – one fridge-top and one SMALL chest freezer) and, damn, we’ve got tonnes of food! :-D Including lots of stuff that I froze last summer & autumn (ruby chard, red currants, roasted eggplant, serviceberries, and even edamole), two recently-accquired dressed-and-ready-to-roast rabbits from the local Rabbit Lady who free-runs them in the clover patches on her Xmas Tree farm, and, oh, half a dozen big bags of bones that need to be simmered right the hell into stock as soon as I can swing it. (Maybe I should be sticking to boneless cuts of critter for the foreseeable? That’s a lot of bones…) I’m happy to say that my stores of preserves are holding up nicely, too, though we have perhaps too many (!) jars of cucumber garlic-dill pickles lying around. There may be a spate of giving stuff away in the next little while, if it comes to it (or, alternatively, I just won’t make cucumber pickles this year, and we’ll use all our cukes for salad-fixings).
I’ve got half a dozen tins of beans, a cup or two of pot barley & black lentils, half a dozen tins of tuna, a few big jars of stuff like red lentils, Great Northern white beans, wild rice, red quinoa, and pearl barley, plus more damn brown rice that you can shake a stick at. There’s a bout 5kg of white flour plus the usual salt, sugar, and baking powder supplies. There is peanut butter. There is honey. There’s a tonne of maple syrup. There’s even a tin or two of coconut milk.
Basically, my larder is quite well stocked.
Which is a good thing, because April will be Eat From the Larder Month again (let’s see if I can get through it with less whining this time…) and the goal, as it was last year, is to not buy stuff[1] in an effort to (a) save some money, but also (b) eat up the 2014 preserves so that there’s space (and clean, empty jars) for the 2015 canning season and so that we don’t wind up having jars of Who Knows What sitting around for five years at a stretch, not getting eaten.
 
This year, the Eat From the Larder challenge comes with a little extra incentive: I now have A Yard. Which means that, this season, I get to have an actual GARDEN. You know: Somewhere to grow at least part of the food that I’m planning on preserving over the course of next summer and autumn. My goal is to grow enough beans (snap and butter/shelling varieties), winter squash, summer squash, greens (kale and rainbow chard), and tomatoes to cover most of what I want to preserve for the winter and spring. Whether I’ll be able to do that is a different story, but it means I want to pre-emptively clear out the chest freezer in order to make way for the diced-and-blanched butternut squash that I want to put up, the snap beans, greens, and golden zucchini slices I want to blanch-and-freeze, just so I can say “I grew them, too!” when I haul them out again in the middle of winter. :-)
 
Things I’ve learned (again):
I would much rather use bruschetta-mix or plain ol’ diced tomatoes than use tomato sauce. Most of the time. (When making bean stew, however, you can never have too much umami, so a one-cup jar of tomatoes PLUS a half-cup jar of sauce is a good way to go). Also, having acquired a nearby and rather dear friend back in October, who is badly allergic to All The Peppers, chances are good that my tomato sauce recipe will be changing slightly so’s as not to send her to the ER inadvertently (I have so far managed to not do this, fyi).
I’m hit-and-miss on how much frozen fruit I go through in a given year. Some years, I’ll go through a litre of frozen berries in a week. Other times, I’ll forget and find half a gallon of July-harvested red currants waiting to be turned into tarts (good thing, too, since we’re having people over for dinner next Friday).
I actually *do* like apple butter for baking and also for savoury dishes (mainly cheese sandwiches, to be honest) and missed it this year, since I didn’t make any. Also: Pumpkin butter is amazing BUT pear butter is probably a better way to go. I’m still planning on making pumpkin butter a regular feature of my larder, mind you, because I can grow pumpkins more or less like weeds around here, but I don’t have an apple tree of my own. Yet. But apple butter is going to have to be a thing.
Having only used my dehydrator the once… it hasn’t paid for itself yet. Basically, I’ve found that my home-dried peaches and nectarines… are mostly just really fucking dry. They’re not great snack-food, presently, is what I’m saying. So, while I’m hoping I can put it to work drying tomatoes and apples, or makingn snacky-snacky Kale Chips and similar, as and when I have kale, apples, and tomatoes to use in it, I probably won’t be going all out on dried peaches and similar next summer.
I may or may not do jarred peaches (or peach butter, or what-have-you) either. I love my tomato-peach salsa, and will continue to make that, for sure, possibly using nectarines instead of peaches (even though they’re more expensive), just ’cause I like the smooth skin better than the fuzzy, but I haven’t yet opened any of the apricot butter that I made, so I’m not sure that I’d bother making it again.
 
Seven weeks from now (or so), it’ll be Beltane, I’ll be on the hunt for groceries after a month of not bothering, and I may or may not (fingers crossed that I will) be started a new part-time job in the afternoons. Hopefully, hopefully, I’ll also be planting out the first of my cold-weather crops and rejoicing at a larder that’s ready to be filled once more.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] With some exceptions. I will totally still be buying milk and coffee. I may buy eggs or cheese, but would kind of like to not bother. (Alternatively, I may (break the rules and) buy 2 dozen eggs, a kilogram of coffee beans, and some Cheap Cooking Cheddar – provided it’s actually cheap when I get to the store – towards the end of March… and still buy milk as I go through it). But no veggies, baking supplies, fruit, meat, or similar since the idea is use up the preserved (jars, tins, frozen, and dry-goods) food that I already have on hand… And I have a LOT of it on hand.

It begins with sight

syrens:

Particularly this one on honouring local landspirits. Things to think about: How do you honour these spirits when you’re occupying their land? #MMIW #decolonization #nopipeline When thsoe particular ancestors aren’t yours and maybe you’ll never be able to see them? How do you still do this important & necessary work? How do you Ethically and Respectfully Pagan as a settler?

Originally posted on The House of Vines:

Place, and the asssociations of place, had for a Greek a deeper meaning than they can possibly have in our nore diffused and undifferentiated world, where a man can move a hundred, or a thousand, miles and still feel himself at home. But the Greek was rooted in his little community; there it lay, on some lonely hill, perhaps, or in the corner of some deserted inlet of the coast, isolated and alone, the symbol to him of everything he held dear, his only protection, such as it was, against wild nature, and the enemy who might at any moment be at the gates. Every stone of it was sacred, every yard of its surrounding fields and olive-groves and scanty pasture. He knew it all, and loved it all, as he loved his own house; it was his intimate possession, haunted and blessed by its own guardian spirits and gods…

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Empires Crumble

syrens:

Lotsa links about anti-colonialism & anti-racism in Paganism. Go check it out! :-D

Originally posted on :

empire crumble Patch by Alley Valkyrie (click image to see more)

Gods&Radicals is now open to the public!  While not ‘active’ yet, there’s plenty of stuff to see there.  I recommend particularly perusing the list of fantastic writers therein!

Also, Many Gods West has announced an initial selection of presenters.  Also, a fantastic list.

Sannion’s got a great (I mean very, very great) series regarding honoring the land and the ancestors of that land.  This piece is quite good, and this other piece is quite very good.  Few have done much work to compile the theoretical framework of an anti-colonialist localized worship, and he’s on it.

And speaking of anti-colonialism and anti-racism. did you read this piece by Brennos? I’m surprised it didn’t get much attention–it’s a great piece, and also points to some questions about the (de-)politicisation of religion, particularly Paganism.

Those questions are beginning to be asked…

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Full Moon – Cold Moon Crests

So, just as Cold Moon was cresting (I’m technically a day late on this post), we flipped over into March. We’ve only had one day where the temperature got anywhere close to 0-Celceus, but we’re getting there. All around me are people grinning and assuring each other that we’ve made it through another one. I keep watching the snow on the neighbourhood roofs, wondering how much of the melt-off is due to poor insulation versus how much of it is the noticeably warmer (and longer hours of) sunshine happening these days.
 
I got my honey-pot made (finally) last week, and did some magic to help me out with my job interview, too (it went well, FYI, though I won’t hear anything until about May, so…). At the moment, things are feeling pretty “up” – although part of that is that it’s been an employment-full week – four modeling gigs plus an easy day of answering phones near my house – and I’ve got a cupboard full of groceries and even some tasty treats (I got us cheap fizzy white wine + orange-mango juice for mimosas, for example, and a box of mini pain-chocolates as well – we’ll will be brunching this weekend, and I wanted to get in something kinda fancy. $25 for three people is… pretty okay, really) as a result, SO. Part of the “up” is just basic stuff like “we paid the gas bill” and “the rent cheque didn’t bounce” (seriously, that was a worry, however briefly, a few days ago) and “our freezer is full of sausages and ravioli”.
 
Some of it is also this: I got a new purse.
Which you’d think, if I’m simultaneously worrying about the rent, is not something I should be buying, but bear with me.
The zipper on my one remaining non-ratty purse broke, a month or two ago. All of my other purses are pleather, and – while they started out beautiful – they are now peeling messes with jerry-rigged handles and they just don’t look very nice. And I am trying to Look Nice, at least when I leave the house.
I did a gig today, a portraiture class where they like it when the model gets dolled up in something kind of thematic. So I turned up in my Leather (and my PVC, and my Unholy Harvest dogtags), some dark lipstain & black eyeliner, and a pair of German engineers goggles and gave them a deiselpunk aviator to draw. Thing is, I felt like Amanda Fucking Palmer in that outfit. It’s not something that I wear all the time – waist cinchers being what they are, and leather “airforce” caps being almost as impractical and hard to keep on as miniature top hats – but it was comprised (with the exception of the goggles) of my actual clothes. I felt like a million bucks, and I loved what I saw in the mirror! AND I was constantly fretting that my hair and/or stockings would fall down, that my hat would fall off, and that I’d slip right out of my sling-backs because, hello, you do not wear open-toed slingbacks with nylons, end of story.
Look. This is going to come as a surprise to nobody, but Looking Nice Takes Effort.
A lot of what I’ve spent the last, gods, eight years(?) doing, wardrobe-wise, is trying to do what boils down to “Glamour Hacks” where you front-load all the labour – investing (by whatever budget you can reasonably do so) in clothes that fit & flatter[1], shoes that look good and are gender-consonant but don’t destroy your feet[2], and something to haul your crap around in that doesn’t make you look like the Loblaws Lady[3] – so that when you have to drag your ass out of bed in the mornings, or convince yourself (MYself) to really, really, this time, leave the house… the part where you look Put Together is already done.
The goal, in my case, is to get my Stuff dialed in enough that I just have to pull something, anything, out of my closet, slick on the easiest possible makeup (waterproof Very Black mascara, tinted lipbalm, and if I’m feeling really ambitious, a scribble of eye-shadow pencil, which is basically a crayon for your face), slap on wahtever footwear happens to be the most weather-appropriate, and GTFO… looking Fabulous and Noticeable all the while.
The big purse – which I bought for $30 off ebay and which, alas, has a couple of design flaws that I’ll have to work around if I want this to be the functional Diva Bag of my only-somewhat-practical dreams – is part of that process. It’s basically my answer to the Loblaws Lady problem. It’s big enough to hold a notebook, a novel, and even a makeup case on top of the more typical “purse stuff” all at the same time and, while I can’t stuff a yoga mat in there, I can use it to carry a water-bottle and the rest of my (minimal) yoga gear. It’s about the right size to carry a book of sheet music, if I need it to. It has a handy outside-pocket with a BIG, decorative zipper-tab where I can keep stuff – like a bus pass – that I want to be able to grab without having to dig around or take off my mitts. It’s Black And Shiny And Buckle-Y enough to work with my “edgy”[4] stuff while being Basic Black Professional enough to be appropriate when I need to not look Scary or like some kind of a tramp[5]. It may not be Mary Poppins’ TARDIS-like magical carpet bag, but it’s got enough pockets to carry at least a little bit of magic around.
 
So that’s where I am right now. The same place I always am, though maybe a tiny step further along, trying to balance What I Want with What I Have and What I Can Manage on any given day.
Now I’ve got altar candles to light, wine to chill, and a chicken to roast, so I’m off.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] In my case, this means hitting up the local second-hand stores + getting good enough at sewing to taylor items at least a little bit and/or make simple stuff myself, because gods know I don’t have a lot of money to throw around.
 
[2] A constant work in progress, I’m afraid…
 
[3] This was a (brief) conversation on twitter, earlier today. My sister used to be a professional actress. She bought a hella fancy purse that was big enough to carry a small child (which, ha, she is about to birth, as it turns out) because she needed to (a) carry big old scrips and indoor shoes and so-on around all the time, but also (b) actually look put-together when she showed up for an audition.
 
[4] Ahahahaha… At the moment, this basically means wearing black eyeshadow and pinstriped skirts.
 
[5] These situations are getting fewer and farther between, granted (and also YAY), but it doesn’t hurt to be versatile.

Knowledge, Wisdom, and Gnosis – The Pagan Experience 2015

Knowledge, Wisdom, and Gnosis… They’re all different things, aren’t they. Knowledge can sometimes feel like theory, like book-learning, a fairly typical definition of what you accumulate while Getting An Education. the other two are… maybe more experiential? Maybe? It’s funny. “Wisdom” tends to show up, in my head, like “something you accumulate over years and years of experience”. It’s not formal learning, it’s “Street smarts”, and it’s usually the kind that you accumulate through learning from your own mistakes rather than from someone else’s. At this point, I don’t have much of that. A little bit, maybe, but I could be just confusing it for, like, Being Tired and Feeling Old more than anything else.
Knowledge is knowing which plants are safe to eat because you read about them in a (reliable) book or website or what-have-you.
Wisdom is knowing which plants are safe to eat because you’ve actually eaten them yourself and you know how to prepare them to neutralize the oxalis (or whatever) so that nobody gets sick to their stomaches and so that the plants actually taste good when you eat them.
Gnosis is… Gnosis is knowing which plants are safe to eat because they straight up told you themselves and you had the where-with-all to hear and understand.
Gnosis doesn’t happen much for me. I’m what sometimes gets called a “cement head” or, alternatively, a “natural ground”. I can bring people home when they get lost, bring them back to earth when they’re spiraling and can’t find their feet… but my radio signal is Not Receiving most of the time.
I do get this sometimes. Sometimes, my Intuition talks loudly enough for me to listen (this is usually within the context of modeling, where I’ve learned to listen to that little voice that raises the hairs on my neck). Sometimes I can feel the change in air-consistency that means a big heap of energy – whether we’re talking a wave or a non-corporial Person – is moving through or in. Sometimes I can actually hear the Gods & Ancestors talking to me – or at least pointing me towards The Thing (like it or not). But most of the time? Most of the time, I’m going on Knowledge, Wisdom, and Faith.
Wish me luck with that. ;-)