Warming Herbs for Winter

Hey there!
So Snow Moon began not too long ago (not that I’ve done my blog post about it or anything, but… bear with me), and the snows have come in force, bringing a lot of ice and a lot of quite cold (-23C, so seasonal, but not horrific if you’ve got somewhere warm to be) temperatures.
When I think of “warming herbs” – meaning herbs (and spices) that will produce heat in the body to help you sweat out illness and similar – I tend to think of things like ginger and cinnamon. These days, I also think of garlic and mustard (Woohoo!), but I was wondering – thanks to this post over at Little Red Tarot – what else I might be able to draw on, in terms of locally grow-able flowers, leaves, and roots, that will help someone (like, say, ME – I got a bad bronchial+sinus infection, quite a few years ago now, and it’s left me pretty susceptible to getting more of them) deal with Winter illnesses at home, without having to book an appointment with my over-stretched GP.
 
Labador Tea (Ledum glandulous) – good for calming coughs. Also good – when the dried roots & leaves are ground and added to an ointment – for helping to relieve chapped lips and hands.
 
Lavender – I use the essential oil to help heal badly chapped lips and knuckles when the cold, dry air makes them split. NOTE: Lavender is a common allergen, so be careful with this one. Topically, it’s good for helping to heal burns. It’s a powerful antibacterial and anti-fungal (so, for example, good to use on your feet if they are getting gross after weeks of heavy socks).
 
German Chamomile (Roman Chamomile works too, but German is hardier for the garden) – Steep the flowers into a tea to help gently warm you up. If it’s anything like Ox-Eye Daisies, it will help to increase circulation, but… meh?
 
Burdock Root – Like chamomile. Make a tea of the roots (you can also tincture them)
 
Mullein (Verbascum thrapsis) – One of the primary herbs for any lung problem, including whooping cough, asthma, bronchitis and chest colds. Allegedly, the leaves were smoked to relieve lung problems. I wonder if you could use them in a hot water inhalation (the way we use eucalyptus essential oil).
 
Angelica ROOT – including (hard to find, apparently) Ontario native species Purple Angelica (Angelica atropurpurea) – will help “cut through obstruction” and make you sweat. This one is easy to grow from seed and needs lots of space in the garden. It’s a carrot-family plant, and should be harvested in the fall (late October, early November) of its first growing season. Use the leaves to make a chest compress to relieve inflamation.
In TCM, this root is called Dong Quai, and is used for menstrual stuff like relieving PMS symptoms & menstrual cramps, or helping to encourage a late period to get started. It’s also good for upset stomachs (think gas, bloating, digestive difficulties… but also (apparently?) IBS and colitis?)
As a Winter Herb, though, it’s particularly good – steeped as a tea, or made into a tincture – for helping to increase your circulation, reduce mild fevers (don’t use it for bad fevers), and help you to loosen up thick, gummy phlegm that’s making it hard to breathe.
NOTE: If you are a pasty, white person like me? This can make you more sensitive to sunlight. Also it’s not wise to take this one while you’re pregnant or lactating (it’s bad for fetuses and kids under three).
Allegedly, the taste is somewhere between celery and… juniper? I have no idea how that works, but people candy it and say that angelica root tea tastes good rather than, like, barely tolerable, so… maybe it’s one to look into?
 
Peppermint – The leaves make a good tea for coughs. Essential oil is cooling (topically) and anti-microbial (see: “mint”) so, when accessed through the leaves, can help get rid of coughs and colds that way.
 
Basil, Thyme, and Rosemary – Like mint, these herbs make a tea (or an addition to savory dishes) that acts as a digestive aid and can help push through light-weight phlegm. Good for when you have a frog in your throat, not so useful for something heavy like walking pneumonia.
 
Fennel – Simmer the seeds to make a tea – which you can drink as-is, or else thicken into a syrup for use in calming coughs and shortness of breath as well as loosening up congestion. Apparently you can’t use this stuff in high doses as it can cause spasms and hallucinations (I don’t know what constitutes “high doses”, though, so that’s not very helpful).
 
Yarrow – Use the leaves and flowers to make a tea, or add them to a bath, to help you sweat out a fever. (Drink lots of water with this stuff. Also, avoid this one if you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant). The tea encourages circulation and combines well with peppermint to help one conquer a cold or fever. (Also lowers blood pressure? Maybe, if you have low-enough-to-worry-about blood pressure, this is one to avoid?)
 
Anise Hyssop – Use the leaves to make a tea to help with colds and with chest pain brought on by coughing. You can use them in a hot bath or inhalation to help you sweat.
 
Garlic – This is a fairly powerful antibacterial and antiviral (eating whole cloves of it raw will also make you – or at least ME – throw it right back up, though, so make sure to mix it with something easier to swallow). It’s also improves circulation, which will help warm you up.
 
Cedar (leaves/fronds) – Cedar has antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties. A tea – or a hot bath – made with the tips of the leaves, is good for coughs and colds. The essential oil can be used, topically, in an ointment like vix to help relieve congestion (don’t take cedar essential oil internally, generally speaking). I think (I think) you can use this, much the same way you’d use eucalyptus essential oil in a steam inhalation.
 
Mustard – Use the seeds of the mustard plant (like: the one you would use as cooking greens) to make a VERY HOT poultice. From what I hear, this is super uncomfortable and shouldn’t be put directly on skin BUT if you spread it on a scrap of cloth, and put the cloth on the chest of someone with pneumonia or otherwise really bad chest congestion,it will have an effect similar to a eucalyptus rub (but NOT soothing – this stuff can cause blisters if you put it directly on your skin).

New Year New You 2016: Week 18 – Body Time + Taking Stock

I’m doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation (again) because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. You should try it!
 
Instructions: “Do I think you need to know how to quiet your mind and focus to do magic? Yes!” So, take a minute to empty the “old crap” out of your brain, so there’s “room to let new crap in”.
 
Tarot Card: For this prompt, I’m strongly inclined to go with Temperence, given its connotations of balance, of pause and reflect, of integration. But I could have just as easily gone with The Hanged Man with its connotations of edges, of new perspectives, even night vision (king of insight…), the clarity that can come from taking a minute to look at things from all angles, to wait and see. Likewise, the Seven of Earth – the suit of embodiment, its number linked to both hope (the Star) and action (the Chariot) – that urges us to look at what we’ve accomplished while reminding us that change takes time would also be an appropriate choice.
 
So someone (Parneet from Chai Chats, iirc) once very effectively explained meditation as “This is not Mind Time. This is Body Time”. Like, rather than focusing on Emptying Your Mind, the whole point of meditation (sitting quietly style meditation) is to check in with your body and connect with yourself physically. That’s what the whole “focus on your breath” thing is about.
Me? I spend a HUGE amount of my life in Mind Time. Hours and hours spent sifting through thoughts and cognitive patterns, dealing with a lymbic system that is sometimes No Help At All and trying to forge new habits and pathways by rote and force of Will… But Brene says “We move what we know from our heads to our hearts through our hands” and so Body Time is a needed thing, as well.
 
Body Time is hours spent making thumbprint shortbread cookies and vegan ginger snaps. It’s the repetitive work of chopping food for large-batch cooking and canning, and the over-under-around-and-through of knitting a shrug worth of garter stitch, the back-and-forth of weaving, the twist-and-fling of spinning on a drop spindle. All those “stimming” things that keep me level and calm and focused when anxiety and ambient noise are threatening to carry me away.
Body Time is pausing to feel my feet, set my roots down into the ground, it’s taking a minute to breath extra deep, into the spots in my hips that aren’t always there, all the way down into my shins, to feel with my whole body. It’s doing a little shoulder-focused dance to help my spine straighten and my stiff, aching lower-back muscles loosen up.
Body Time is letting myself enjoy a kiss, lean into a touch, feel everything all the way down rather than shying away from sensation. It’s paying attention to sensation, to wants and desires that show up physically, adding new techniques to the tool kit of Things That Help Me Stay and then actually using them when I need them.
 
Body Time is, to be honest, still a work in progress, but it’s getting easier. Some days, the part of my brain that insists that experiencing desire is, in and of itself, monstrous, something to be ashamed of, something that it’s abusive and wrong to even voice… some days, that part of me still does the driving. Although I’m getting a little better at wrestling the keys back and feeling my way into my own frame again.
I have made progress on this front.
I am having an easier time recognizing that I’m loved and cared for. I’m having an easier time holding two hard, sad things in my hands at once while still continuing to actually move forward. My year-at-a-glance horoscope for 2017 includes the phrase “happiness is an inside job” which… on the one hand: Duh. On the other hand: This suggests that I’ll be working on “How to get to Happy” for a little while longer. But there’s been movement. I feel like I’m part-way up the mountain and, while I’m not there yet, if I stop for a minute and take a damn breath, I can look behind me and see that I’ve actually gone a fair ways so far. This is good. I’m not quite at the Queen of Cups “end goal” of my project, more like a conscious embodiment of the Page of Cups while still trying to navigate the Knight of Cups‘ characteristics in a way that includes good boundaries and self-compassionate caution instead of EITHER “flinging myself off a cliff” (the eyes-wide-shut Relentless Hope that is sometimes part of the Three of Fire) in the name of “earning” the love and belonging one craves OR the kind of walled-up paranoia that can lead one to freezing everybody out and being lonely and hungry all the time (the emotional equivalent of the Four of Earth).
Fingers crossed that I can pull this off. ❤

New Year New You 2016: Weeks 16 & 17 – Big Magic, Little Rituals, and Winter Solstice

I’m doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation (again) because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. You should try it!
 
Instructions: “This is a good week to work on shoaling […]. Make all your tiny magic fish into one big magic fish.” AND “[It’s] time to do a big ritual to further one or more of your goals.”
 
Tarot Cards: The High Priestess with a side-order of The Queen of Fire. The deep-digging and drawing-up of the High Priestess, the attention I’m giving to magically/energetically developing my Whale Heart, the energetic labour of reaching out (both to and for) and gathering together,of making space for others and letting my own light be visible and undeniable.
 
So… It’s been Solstice. Which is kind of a big ritual in and of itself, even when my version of it, this year, was super low-budget and not very fancy: I put up the holly garlands, but didn’t hang any ornaments from them. Our major nod to Seasonal Decor is a giant poinsettia that was gifted/off-loaded (either/or, works for me – thank you) from one of my temping clients on Friday afternoon, largely so that they wouldn’t come back to work in January to the sight of a giant, wilted poinsettia in their main foyer.
Last year, we hung the ornaments and lit everything (ineffectively) by candle light, which is how I normally do things. This year… I actually wanted to see where the food was and not trip over everything or spill the wine. So I kept the electric lights on. I’m sure there’s something symbolic about the marriage of Reason and Sensuality, or keeping one’s eyes open, or whatever and I’ll probably develop that thought As Needed over the next couple of days as I see Fam-of-O and weather potentially-difficult/painful Poly Family Gatherings. (I have a couple of escape plans for the latter, and can I just say Thank Fuck for the people who are looking out for me!)
This morning, I left a note on the FB Event for my annual Winter Solstice party (which has never been a Go Until Dawn kind of shindig, and is basically wine, cheese, chocolate, and conversation, all of-which I love, followed by In Bed By 1am, if not earlier, and re-hydrating like woah the next morning) telling all my guests (and all the folks who couldn’t make it out) how lucky I am to have such good people in my life, and how they bring the light back to me again and again.
It’s a thing that’s worth saying out loud, y’know?
 
My magic, these days, doesn’t look much like magic in the “whizz, bang” sense of the word. It’s not honey pots or actively-magical glamour – though the practice of wearing a Crown Of Light[1] has gotten a lot easier since I started doing it back in… May(?), and I don’t have to focus on it the whole time, or be wearing 14 layers of physical-world femme armour, to keep it in place. It’s more like prayer, gratitude practice, greeting my gods as and when I have the opportunity, recognizing those You’re On The Right Track moments[2], breathing myself all the way into my body.
One little bit of more “magicky” magic that I’ve been doing, though, is to use my little bottle of Unveiled – one of Miss Sugar’s limited edition ritual oils, from years ago – to anoint my heart-chakra/sternum while asking “let me see what’s really there”. This is both Energy Work (complete with visualizations and pushing energy around) and a prayer for (a) the chance to observe and recognize the ways that I actually am supported & cared for, as well as (b) the ability to discern the appropriate degree of personal investment for a given relationship based on how much the other person is actually There For Me.
Fingers crossed that this one will work.
 
As far as Big Rituals go, my Winter Solstice Shindig is kind of the big one I do every year. It’s not a “ritual” in the straight-up religious sense. But it’s a celebratory way to mark the turning of the year, to light up my altar and make offerings to my gods (and the crows), and to gather my people close. I’m a Kitchen Witch, and this is kind of What We Do.
With that in mind – perhaps unsurprisingly – a lot of the foods I prepared (more From Scratch than ever, this year, because I didn’t have the cash to just go out and buy baguettes, artichoke dip, rabbit terrine, or fancy cheese) for our Winter Solstice celebrations had a LOT of “love and protection” correspondences built into them. Part of that is just because a lot of common house-hold ingredients have those correspondences anyway. But the other part is that: This is what I need right now. To protect my heart without closing it. To actively care for people without putting myself in harm’s way. To risk, courageously, and open myself up to love and care (both giving and receiving it) while also giving myself permission to protect myself and put my own oxygen mask on first. So I built that into the foods I made and served during Celebration Time.
 
So that’s the magic I’ve been doing. The Good Witching of checking in with friends who may or may not have people to spend their holidays with, or who just started meds; the word-magic of speaking things aloud, of naming and claiming, calling out and calling in; the rallying of reinforcements when someone near and dear to me needs to know that they’re loved; the opening myself again and again (and messing it up, and falling back on old habits, and trying to do it better the next time), the changing consciousness at will (which is a longer process than Starhawk makes it sound in Spiral Dance, let me tell you). That’s the magic I’ve been doing. My witchcraft isn’t particularly subversive. But it works.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] What is says on the tin. I visualize putting on a crown that shows up like a spotlight on my hair. It’s based on a poem I wrote about being a figure model and how much easier it is to be bullet-proof when I’m NOT trying to look Put Together in clothes that were never designed to fit me, the last line of-which is “The light on your hair all the crown you’ll ever need”. It… seems to be fairly effective, as it turns out. 🙂
 
[2] Like yesterday, when I was right in the middle of stream-of-consciousness tweeting about a Thing that has dawned on me, and one of the ladies I was working for sashayed over and gifted me a bottle of nail polish just for the hell of it[3].
 
[3] I admit that I’m a little concerned at how my “you’re on the right track” markers seem to be seriously linked to Protestant-Capitalism’s interpretation of the Kalvinist Doctrine of Predestination, but… this seems to be working, so I’m going with it.

Full Moon – Long Nights Moon Crests

So… People – like alive-human people and non-human/non-corporial people, have been looking out for me.
 
I’m saying “me” rather than “us” because my lovely wife’s Big Client is still a bit up in the air with setbacks and deliveries that aren’t delivered yet, and we will basically have two weeks or less to make 600 units all by hand (I fear I will need wrist braces by January 1st as a result of this, send halp), provided all the components arrive by Saturday. Which is… not guaranteed. :-\ Me, on the other hand? I went from having three bookings in December to having a couple of weeks (cumulatively, not all in one go) of work. Hallelujah! People have been feeding me – bringing little boxes of hors d’oeuvres to the house, or calling me up to let me know about the restaurant nearby who is giving away boxes of frozen smoked-chicken bones for stock-making, or dropping off a bottle of wine “for you and the missus” or a giant plate of free lunch + dessert at the desk where I’m temping for the day – all week. It’s been a lovely reminder of “You’re taken care of”. (Thanks, Everybody).
 
There is a crow who has started hanging out a little more directly in our back yard (compost offerings – because I actually did get off my ass and build a compost heap a week or two ago – for the win, basically). We are thinking of doing marinated chicken hearts on skewers – think balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and a little oil – and leaving one out for the People as an offering. I suspect it will go over well.
 
I have sorted out how to get the kefir to do what I Want (stir well, once a day, for 3 days, then seal and let sit overnight. Voila! Well-separated kefir curds and whey). I’ve been draining off the whey and using it to make cakes and pancakes and similar, and have been straining the curds through a plastic strainer and using it in place of chevre (it’s a little less crumbly / more spreadable than chevre, but that’s a feature, not a bug, from my perspective). I’ve stirred it into borscht (my poor wife – she can smell the ferment, but the taste is all “milk gone off” to her palate) and will be blending a bunch with some salt, rosemary, and oregano, to offer as “cheese spread” at our Winter Solstice shindig this year. The sour kraut is still waaaay (ha! “whey”) more salty than sour, but the sunchoke/as’kebwan’ pickles… seem to be doing… something appropriate (we’ll try them again in a week).
 
I said, in my previous Lunar Cycles post, that my goals for this cycle included:
 

Be patient with myself, but don’t stop making progress;
Practice being kind to myself, while recognizing that “being kind” is a very different thing from “being an enabler” (Be My Own Mommy, as I once said to a friend who needed a fresh set of eyes on a tarot spread she’d done for herself);
Do the things that make me happy: knit/weave/sew, cook/preserve/ferment/bake, keep writing poetry, take baths and read novels and light my altars on the regular, spend time with the people I care about… You know, all the good stuff.

 
…And, while I’ve managed to make myself feed myself well – lentil soup is kind of a life-saver for that. It takes 20 minutes, and it’s Real Food TM, and comfort food on top of that – it occurred to me, this morning, that I am maybe not being all that kind to myself. All that horoscope stuff, from a couple of weeks back, about reaching out for support when I need it was kind of brought home today.
I’d asked a friend if she was okay listening to me talk (again) about stuff that’s eating my brain (again) and whether or not she might want a break from that, and I didn’t hear from her for a couple of days, and I was all set to send an apology note saying Never Mind, basically, and she phoned me and told me that I can always talk to her about anything, and that she loves me a whole bunch, and seriously… I was sitting on my couch, just about in tears, because I’d thought I’d been asking too much and I hadn’t been at all. O.O It brought me right back to all that stuff I said about “notions of whether or not I ‘deserve’ help/kindness/rest/pleasure/care in the first place”.
It’s mind-boggling, when I actually think about it, how much my own version of “self care” looks more like the kind of “tough love” that’s enforced with a hammer.
 
I have a weird relationship to my own desire. This is something I should probably expand upon in a post on Syrens (I’ll write it, eventually), but the short version is that, while on some level I do understand that it’s okay to want things, to want people, to say what I want, etc, etc, there’s a significant part of my brain – one that has easy access to the proverbial car keys, so to speak – that is very, VERY convinced that none of that is okay at all and… I’m not sure what to do about that. Especially when so much of what I try to do about that falls the fuck apart when it bumps up against someone else’s triggers or traumas (we are all the walking wounded on this bus, basically. By and large, I think that’s a feature, because we’re actually willing to talk about that stuff, but, holy moly, can we ever hurt each other by accident…)
My not-so-secret secrets are sending me a million “are you sure about this” messages. My heart hurts and don’t even know what the Right Thing to do actually is.
 
I stepped outside, just for a minute, last night to look at that big, bright full moon, the one I made promises on, 50 weeks ago, a year ago. I’m still not done all of the writing prompts and, at this point, it’s going to extend into 2017. I can live with that. It feels like there’s still a long way to go.
 
 
~*~
 
Motion: I have not been doing a lot of motion these days. It’s winter, and on top of that, I’m broke. Going to a dance or to the swimming pool, is… slightly more expensive than I can handle right now. $5 is slightly more than I can handle right now. I’ve been walking to temp bookings, and friend-dates, for a significant chunk of the past two weeks, and that’s been great. I haven’t had to take the bus (I will be, tomorrow), and I’ve been getting 40-60 minutes of walking time in, most days. I had a tiny dance party (to this) in my kitchen. But I have mostly been hunkering down in my bed/bath/chair and trying not to go outside if I don’t have to. That said? I am also noticing that I am getting physically stronger – more upper-body strength and more arm-strength and that, at least, is pretty great. 🙂
 
Attention: I have been digging through my own brain. Again. Trying to sort through some reoccurring feelings. They’re still there. I’m not sure what to do with them. They’re not surprising(and that’s kind of a piss-off), but at least the cycle of working through them is taking a couple of days,rather than a couple of week s(or a couple of months). I’m sort of hoping that this bodes well for getting to the point where, when Those Feelings come up for me, I can be like “Oh, hey, Those Feelings. I see you’re back. It’s okay that you’re back. Although I need to point out This Thing and This Other Thing. Remember those? Those are still relevant and also true. remember? Yes? Okay, great. Good talk, everybody” in… a couple of hours or, even better, couple of minutes or seconds. That would be really, really great. Getting there? I think I’m getting there.
 
Gratitude: All the free food I’ve been given this week. For the onions that a friend, who has too many onions, is willing to off-load into my fridge (and who also had a word with me about how Lefty People who train themselves to be aware of privilege often pull towards “It could be SO much , worse” to avoid acknowledging that the situation they – or, in this case, I – are in? Still really, legitimately sucks). For the salmon hors d’oeuvres from another friend, which will grace my Winter Solstice table. For the two friends who, separately, made sure I knew that the cafe up the street was giving away soup bones for free. For the friend who bought me a sandwich and spent an hour catching up with me. For the friend who treated me to sushi and an hour of her company, yacking about writing. For the friend who asked if I’d proof-read the magical elements of their book manuscript (long distance, this time) for realism. For the wife (of four years, next week!) who slow-danced with me to our wedding song in the living room. For the twitter conversation about “stimming” and autism coping mechanisms that made me wonder (again) about the make-up of my own brain. For the friend who told me that I deserve happiness and to love myself. For the friend who called me, early on Wednesday morning, to tell me formally that I can talk to her about anything, that she loves me, that it’s not “too much” to ask for support. (Seriously, I just about cried).
 
Inspiration: Well, there’s this. Also, I’ve been given Book Recommendations for YA novels, and I’m looking forard to hunting those up. 🙂 Whee! 😀
 
Creation: I made a really cute toy owl for my nephew! Their name is Twilight, and they are various shades of blue with pink accents! The nephew in question is going to be two in April, and will be becoming a Big Sibling in mid-February, and I was thinking that it was probably a good time to introduce a nocturnal buddy who likes to hear about dreams (and scary things, and things you don’t think you can talk about with your parents). I’m really pleased with Twilight. 😀 My wife is suggesting that I make similar stuffed toys to look like our three birds. It might happen. Probably not this year, though. 😉

Canadian Pagan Declaration on Intolerance

Hey, Pagans, Heathens, Druids, Goddess-Spiritualists, Witchy-Woo Folks, and others who practice earth-centered religions/spirituality, ancestor veneration, and/or polytheism in Canada:

Please go and take a gander at the Canadian Pagan Declaration on Intolerance. You may wish to sign it yourself, as an individual or as a representative of your particular faith group, circle, kindred, grove, coven, or other congregation.

Thanks,
Meliad.

New Year New You 2016: Weeks 14 & 15 – Searching for a Sign + One Small Step and Then One More

I’m doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation (again) because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. You should try it!
 
Instructions: “Now would be a good time to check in with your personal Powers That Be (PTB) about your goals. […] How do your PTB’s advice change your approach to your goals?” PLUS “We’ve spent a few more weeks thinking, planning, and doing magic. Now it’s time to return to the task at hand: doing the work necessary to accomplish our goals.”.
 
Tarot Cards: Eight of Vessels (Week 14) + Two of Earth (Week 15).
 
So. I spent the past month-and-a-bit avoiding my tarot cards. A mixture of being afraid of what they’d tell me and being afraid of how I’d mis/read things (the stories in our heads are frequently how we interpret readings for ourselves, and it’s easy to read worst-case scenarios AND wishful-thinking daydreams into what the cards have to say).
None the less, messages have a way of getting through.
A huge part of the Queen of Cups Project has been, basically, answering the question of “How do I get to Happy?” Miss Sugar talks, occasionally, about Radiomancy – the practice of seeing what pops up when you spin the dial, put your playlist on shuffle, or otherwise just see what songs are screaming at you from the airwaves.
I’ve been getting these two a lot. Plus this came across my desk this morning.
Gosh, do you think someone is trying to tell me something?
>.>
 
Yeah.
 
My Eight of Water story is, basically, “Gotta let this one go. No fixing it. Time to start again. Put your energy somewhere else” like, say, feeding your whale heart and nurturing relationships with people who actually care about you. Combine that with all the “Femme Emotional Labour” and “Trojan Horse Boundary Crossing” stories I’ve been getting linked to, of late (or, y’know, all freaking year…) and, yeah. The Eight of Blooms (top, right) is the pearl found (at last?) after going through a lot of oysters. All those discarded heart and vulva shapes ringing a treasure found by moonlight, by shining a light on all my old patterns and assumptions. The “rebirth” of the Eight of Vessels is a reminder that there will be other chances, that it’s hard to be happy when you’re fussing over every little thing in order to “make” yourself worthy in the eyes of someone who, when you get right down to it, messed with your head and took advantage of you, no matter how much of a compassionate lens you can view that through.
 
So that’s the information I’ve been getting.
 
How does that translate into One Small Thing I can do to push towards my goal?
My Queen of Cups goal has been to become more receptive, to understand that I’m actually loveable and worthy rather than just some fuck-up who has too much privilege and too much monster-brain to warrant being cared for without having to seriously earn that stuff. So…
I mentioned feeding my “whale heart”. That’s a Life Coaching thing, my “new Way of being/operating” that is self-compassionate, and doesn’t truck with people who won’t step up to meet her needs the way she steps up to meet theirs. The one small thing, the moment-to-moment practical thing I can do to feed my Whale Heart is to practice being kind to myself and doing what’s actually good for me.
Yes, it’s totally a challenge – I’m something of what Nydia Dauphin calls a “high functioning self-neglector”. Way more likely to make food if I’m feeding someone other than myself. Way more likely to swallow the worst of my feelings and focus on others than make them listen to me whine (uh… this entire blog notwithstanding…) – but it’s also necessary. So. Things I can do right now along those lines?
 
Start the latest batch of stock + process a bunch of sunchokes/as’kebwan’ for the freezer. This will make it easier for me to make meals later on.
 
Put dinner in the oven (I dug through my meat bin, in the freezer, and pulled out a tiny roast. This, with some sunchokes/as’kebwan’ will be a good start to dinner. I can throw in some frozen veggies or pickled beets and sour kraut (if they’re ready) for veggie content) and make myself Real Food instead snacking on crackers until my wife gets home to start cooking. It’s not quite making Real Food For Just Me, but it’s a step in that direction.
 
Bake something (probably soda bread and/or brownies using whey and/or Gone Off Milk). This will be creative, plus it will mean easy go-to food available for lunches and snacks over the next few days. It will also clean out the fridge a bit, which won’t hurt.
 
Do 10 minutes of yoga (child’s pose, plank, tree, warrior pose in one direction, Goddess pose, warrior pose in the opposite direction, downward dog, heart-melting pose, child’s pose again), possibly while humming. This will work my body, strengthen my arms and my core (good for my back), remind me to make music and let me move energy through my body.
 
Start anointing my heart chakra with “Unveiled” – a limited edition perfume/magical oil that Miss Sugar made, years ago – to help me see what I usually can’t/won’t see, the bad stuff I wish wasn’t there, but also the good stuff that I’m too prone to ignoring or refusing to allow in.
 
Wish me luck!
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

New Moon – Long Nights Moon Begins (Looking for Patterns, Setting Intentions)

Welp. It’s freezing rain today.
It had to happen some time.
There’s snow on the ground, though it’s been hovering around Freezing for days, and a lot of it has melted. I have sunchokes and pumpkin to process for the freezer (today, ideally),and more sun-chokes in the garden that I hope (uh…) I’ll have the chance to dig up before the ground freezes solid. (Note: If it does freeze solid, they’re not going to be hurt by staying in the ground all winter and getting dug up for fresh veggies in early April or something. It would just be nice to have them available sooner than that). I have kombucha, sour kraut, kefir, and lacto-fermented sun-choke pickles all doing their thing on my “fermentation shelf” (AKA: the top of the chest freezer). The sun is noticeably heading towards Already Set, Doll by 3:30 in the afternoon (so, y’know, about 2 hours from now), even if it isn’t actually Full Dark By Four PM yet… but it’s coming.
 
A lot of my horoscopes have been talking about money, lately. Money, value, blocking myself from Getting What I Really Want, making sure I get paid for what I do, stuff like that. The rest have all been about Self Care, topping up my metaphorical/spiritual larder, reminders not to be All Things To All People all the time and about how “self care” isn’t just about pleasure (though pleasure is important!) it’s also about things like “asking for help when you need it” and “being vulnerable and telling people stuff they don’t want to hear (like “no”)” and “taking Actual Care of your body, by feeding yourself, doing your physio, and bathing”.
Radiomancy is another story, and I will talk about that in a post of its own, but that’s been happening, too.
 
My wife and I have both been self-employed for three years now. (I was self-employed for another two years before that, but now it’s both of us). The lunar cycle overlaps Winter Solstice is not generally an easy time for us. There’s emotional stuff, old traumas starting to holler and the work of pushing back against all those meta-naratives (accurate or otherwise) that our families-of-origin like us least, are happier spending The Holidays without the low-income, queer-A-F, freaky people around. But, money-wise, it’s difficult, too. My main source of income is modeling. At schools. All-of-which are in exams starting in about 10 days. Some Decembers, my wife is up to her eyeballs in custom leather gift-orders, and other years… crickets? and she never knows what that’s going to be until it happens. Things will probably be fine. But right now? They’re feeling kind of dicey. I’m wondering how many family members will Hate Me For Ever if I fail to send them xmas presents. Wondering what kind of solstice party I can throw on no money and all-home-made food[1].
 
It’s not all doom and gloom around here, mind you.
I have gorgeous new cookbooks (Batch, by the couple who run Well Preserved, and A Taste of Haida Gwaii: Food Gathering and Feasting at the Edge of the World by Canadian poet Susan Musgrave – the latter of which is almost more like a memoir told through recipes) to pour over, budding friendships (and old ones <3) to nurture, a wife to laugh with, and paycheques coming in (hurrah) for the past few weeks of modeling work.
 
Long Nights Moon is all about sorting through things and finding patterns. (And we humans just looooove finding patterns!) As Mecca said, on Twitter, the other day: If Scorpio Season is all about digging secrets out of the muck and dragging them up to the surface, then Saggitarius Season is about shining a flashlight on that stuff, rather than sweeping it all back under the rug. Yes, for sure, there are frequently riches hidden in that muck. But there’s also a lot of crap to be thrown out, or otherwise composted into something better. (Which, P.S..? I still don’t have a compost heap in my back yard. After two years in this house… Hm… Time to get on that, I think…)
I’ve been avoiding my tarot cards for a month or more – for pretty-much all of Scorpio Season (didn’t even do a birthday reading for myself) – afraid of what they’d tell me. Well. Messages come through in other ways, but I think it’s time for some confirmation. Time to pick that deck (those decks…) up again, and see what stories they can tell.
 
Some of my secrets… aren’t really secrets. They’re just another step in the long (longer than I like) process of having to come to terms, over and over, with letting things (and occasionally people) go. But others are… news-and-not-news to me. Finding out exactly why I have such a problem with being told to Do Your Self-Care, and how much that relates to (internalized?) ableism, and notions of whether or not I “deserve” help/kindness/rest/pleasure/care in the first place. The difficulties I have with self-compassion. The fears that are still living under my skin, as much as I’m trying to repair them.
 
Goals for this lunar cycle:
Be patient with myself, but don’t stop making progress;
Practice being kind to myself, while recognizing that “being kind” is a very different thing from “being an enabler” (Be My Own Mommy, as I once said to a friend who needed a fresh set of eyes on a tarot spread she’d done for herself);
Do the things that make me happy: knit/weave/sew, cook/preserve/ferment/bake, keep writing poetry, take baths and read novels and light my altars on the regular, spend time with the people I care about… You know, all the good stuff. 😉
 
What intentions/goals are you setting during this New Moon around How To Deal with the secrets you’ve learned about yourself? What are you deliberately shining a light on? (What’s that thing out of The Omnivore’s Dilema? “No better disinfectant than fresh air and sunshine”? Or, as Brene Brown puts it: “Shame can’t thrive without secrecy”).
 
 
~*~
 
 
Motion: I am getting stronger. I can still only do Plank for one minute at a time, but I can do it starting from my toes, rather than from my knees, which is a big improvement. I can see muscle developing in my arms, which is exciting. I’m taking the bus more often, these days, but still get out to walk a fair bit. There’s a dance coming up in a little less than a week, and I’m looking forward to it.
 
Attention: Pulling the threads of this year’s Learning Process together, noticing the stuff that keeps popping up on my radar and trying to braid it all together.
 
Gratitude: I am SO FUCKING GRATEFUL for my larder (link actually goes to someone else’s post about their larder, but the concepts she’s discussing are ones I try to work with). My months worth of flour, oil, sugars, frozen veggies, jars of jam and fruit butter, crushed tomatoes, bags of lentils, dry beans, pasta, and grains, the kombucha that can be used as lemonade or vinegar depending on how I want to mix things. The only groceries on my Must Buy list (er… right now) are milk, eggs, and coffee, and that should stay the case for at least another couple of weeks (toilet paper will eventually be on there, too). We would be in a lot of trouble if didn’t kitchen really well-stocked with stuff that we actually eat (and that I actually know how to prepare). Also grateful for: Friends who check in with me about how I’m doing, send me Hello notes on FB or through email, tell me they miss me. For a wife who loves me to bits. For other friends who tell my why they never got back to me about The Thing and, as such, put my weasel-brain to rest on the subject of “did I do something wrong”. For parties. For dancing. For the little blue bird who chirps at me all day (and, okay, fine, for the other two birds as well, who are totally napping right now). For clean sheets to snuggle under. For gentle temperatures as the dark sets in. For my mom, who has offered to buy us a bed for our guest-room as an xmas present (Which is pretty amazing, I have to say). For friends who get as excited about pickling and knitting and so-on as I do. 🙂 Lots and lots of good things in my life.
 
Inspiration: All of those above-mentioned friends who like to pickle and preserve and ferment in their kitchens. ❤
 
Creation: Wrote three new (drafts of) poems! The plan is to take myself somewhere (most likely the dining room table) and write some more poems today! I’ve been working on my latest weaving project. In fits and stars, yes, but still! Weaving! I’ve also been poking through my fabric stash and seeing what I’ve got in there that I can use to make presents for people (shift dresses, vibrantly-patterned neck ties, fancy handbags) using what I already have.
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Honestly, a pretty good. I’ve done it a few times before. But it’s really nice to be able to bank on having a budget for cheese and wine and non-home-made crackers to top things up. Right now (almost a month in advance, I realize) the menu looks like:
Garlicky Hummus
Red Lentil Dip (with nutritional yeast & dried tomatoes, among other things)
Kefir-cheese spread with herbs (probably rosemary, basil, and thyme)
Chokecherry chutney (AKA plum relish, as you will)
Bread, possibly baked in a round pan and torn up so it looks Fancy-Rustic
Crackers?
Lacto-fermented sunchoke pickles
Vinegar-pickled beets (from a friend)
Tomato-Peach salsa?
Creton (a Quebecois spread made with ground pork, cream, onion, garlic, and tortiere spices)
Various Cookies (we’ll see if I have butter to do shortbread, but I can do ginger snaps and other goodies)
Chocolate bark with walnuts and apricots/cherries
Mint-chocolate cupcakes OR wacky cake?
Kombucha
Raspberry Ginger Peach “friendship tea” (you make tea on the stove with whole spices thrown in)