Monthly Archives: November 2012

Hearth and Home and Resistance to Change

So Ghost and I are, by the looks of things, going to get a new apartment. It’s in the same building, just on a different floor and with more space and (by the looks of things) fewer problems. For a good price that we can afford, no less.
You’d think I’d be more excited.
However. I am, despite my Maaka’s best efforts, still fairly resistant to change.
Then again, maybe that’s why we got an affordable two-bedroom apartment in our current building rather than, say, halfway across town.
So, let me put it another way. I’m grateful that our new place fell into our laps the way it did. I’m grateful that it’s close, that it won’t mean boxing things up so much as just carrying them down a few flights of stairs (or, more accurately, elevatoring them down a few floors). We don’t even need to put on coats to do this move.
Which is amazing.
And the added space is amazing.
The potential for a work-room and a storage-closet and (by that token) a living-room that isn’t over-stuffed with work-room-related and occasional-use things is AMAZING.
And yet that doesn’t mean I won’t miss this place, this set of rooms where I came into my own, where I became an Adult – for real – for probably the first time in my life.
I cried a little bit when I gave my boiling water offering today, told my house what a good house it’s been and said Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! for all its given me and been to me.
We don’t even have the new lease signed yet. There’s still bits of Paperwork to be filled out, a little bit of money to change hands, but it’s pretty close to being a done deal.
I’m happy and excited about what we’re gaining in this move. But the sunris, the container garden, the daylight, the balcony, the moonrise, the airiness, the light… Don’t think I don’t sorrow over what we’re leaving behind.
Thank you my house, who is a good house. Thank you for being my shelter.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

K is for Kisses, K is for Kink – Pagan Blog Project 2012

K is for Kiss. I don’t mean the five-fold kiss that’s part of some Wiccan rituals. I mean lips locked, shared breath, tangling tongues. I mean the holiness of sex.
K is for Kink. I’ve been reading a lot of Raven Kaldera and Lee Harrington of late.
My kink community (M-O-T leather dykes, fyi) has a lot of Woo going on in it. A fair few of us are pagan of one sort or another, and our two majoy community parties fall pretty close to the year-hinges (which was actually totally by accident BUT, seriously, you should have been there on Beltain…), so it’s maybe not that surprising that I’m fast developing an interest in things like sex magic, sacred sexuality, ordeal paths, tantric sexual-energy work, and similar.
Right now, this means doing a lot of reading (the aforementioned Raven and Lee, as well as some Barbara Carrellas), listening to podcasts, having occasional discussions about energy-movement and sacred sexuality with women in my community, and generally talking the talk.
Walking the walk is going to be slower in coming, I think. Yes, Ghost and I have Grand Plans to re-read Urban Tantra, most-likely while on our honeymoon (apt) and do the exercises together. And that’s something. But I haven’t got the first clue how to actually run an ordeal ritual (for example) and I’m a bit nervous about trying something like that.
I’ve always been a solitary practitioner, a solo-dedicant, that kind of thing. But this mix of magic, religion, sex, blood, and fear/hunger is… potent enough, and screw-up-able enough on a lot of different fronts, that I feel like I could really do with some help. Looking at the mixture of them is giving me a clue why both Old Guard Leather and various witch crafts (I’m thinking BT Wicca but also Feri, for example) are initiatory and graduated in terms of learning the ways of Doing The Things We Do.
There are things that I want to explore. But I don’t think it would necessarily be wise to explore them “unsupervised”, so to speak.
If anyone has any suggestions, do please drop me a comment. 🙂
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Magical Forest Yule Holiday Craft Show –> I’m In It!

It was slightly touch-and-go there, for a few days, because my table fee hadn’t arrived in the mail yet, BUT I found out yesterday (!!!) that I do have table-space at the Magical Forest Yule Holiday Craft Show after all. Thank all the gods! 😀
In addition to my lovely earring collections, I’ll also be bringing a sellectiohn of pendants PLUS a big basket of 1oz 100%-beeswax tealights ($1 each OR 12 for $10); my 3oz 100%-beeswax votives ($12 for an already-wrapped gift-pack of four), both of which are prepared in metal (reusable/recyclable, petrolium-free) containers; and my usual soaps (unscented, pomander, and winter solstice) and deliciously-scented fizzing bath treats (Elizabeth’s Cookies, Gingersnaps, and Chocolate Chip – not actually edible, just smell like they are).
It’ll be awesome. 🙂
If you’re in Ottawa, I hope to see you there. 😀
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Forays into Photography

So I’m working on new photos for Amazon Creations (my Etsy store). I’m a little nervous about it for a couple of reasons, all of which boil down to “I’m not actually a photographer”.
See, I have the good fortune of being extended-phamily with a Real Photographer. One who happens to want to learn how to do promotional jewelry photography, so that she can offer it as a service to places like Ten Thousand Villages (where she volunteers on a regular basis). So she offered to take pictures of a bunch of my jewelry.
As in: every single piece listed in my store, plus about half a dozen more… plus pictures of the pieces from those collections that have sold at craft fairs or off the site already.
That’s something like forty professional pictures that I got for the bargain price of “Thanks, hon, you’re awesome!”
And now I’m on my own.
On the one hand, this is a good thing, because it means I’m learning a new skill set and I’m not dependant on someone else’s availability/free-time to get pictures of new stock. Which is handy.
However, it does mean that I’m going from professional-quality pictures to, well, MY quality pictures. I may be awesome in front of a camera but… Behind it? Well, that remains to be seen.
Using a tripod (to prevent hand-tremble issues) seems to be helping.
Here’s hoping I get some good pictures of my Honey Month collection, and of the various wintery pieces (made especially for this weekend’s Yule Craft Fair) and Mythical Realms key necklaces (yes, I’ve started making necklaces again, and this time they’re actually working!) that I’ve been creating as well. My goal is to have enough pictures to keep me in regular Etsy updates until the end of February.
Wish me luck!
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

You Gotta Get Up And Try

So. Miss Sugar talks, sometimes, about “radiomancy”. Basically, you flip through the radio channels and see what lyrics jump out at you, what songs are really resonating, stuff like that, and it can give you insights into what’s on the line in your life Right Now.
What I’ve been listening to a lot is this:

The dance routine is gorgeous, albeit slightly horrifying in terms of what it’s depicting (especially when coupled with those lyrics). BUT. The actual words of the chorus were hitting me pretty hard.
Where there is desire
There’s gonna be a flame;
Where there is a flame
Someone’s bound to get burned.
Just because it burns
Doesn’t mean you’re gonna die,
You gotta get up and try.

Taken on their own, they read as being about taking risks.
Given how much vulnerability (and shame and all the stuff that goes along with it) has been eating my brain of late, I can’t help but read those words as a bit of a personal reminder to Stop Hiding and Get Open on a number of fronts where I’ve been inclined to wall myself off of late.
I was reading Wren Doloro’s post about wanting a Shame-Free New Moon. It has a link to this ritual, which I may have to try.
But it also led me to Brene Brown’s talks on vulnerability and shame.
And maybe that’s why those lines from the song are sticking out so much for me.
But there’s such a link between fear and shame; fear of vulnerability and refusal to take risks; fear of getting hurt, shame over being “weak” because it’s possible to hurt you, and refusal to be vulnerable.
“Getting vulnerable” can feel, so often, like “Take off your armor and LET someone hurt you”. And I have to remember that it can also mean “Take off your mask and let someone actually get to know you.” Not a suicide run, but a risk.
Just because it burns
Doesn’t mean you’re gonna die

It’s possible to get close to that flame, to take off all the protective layers and come out from behind my walls, and… yeah, potentially get singed bcause of it.
But I can try.

J is for Journey (and Jack-o-Lantern) – Pagan Blog Project 2012

Hey, folks. So, Samhain just passed. With that in mind, here’s a story for you:

Once upon a time, there lived a man who was very much alone in the world. He had no family. No children to carry his name in their hearts, no knowledge of his own parents let alone his distand ancestors. And he wasn’t particularly sad or tragic, or even unusual in this regard. He lived his life as people do, striving for kindness even if he sometimes missed the mark; working to walk gently in the world and get by; until the day came when he died.
It’s how things go.
Now, normally, when someone dies, there are rites performed. Candles lit and names called to help the dead find their way to the land of the ancestors. But this didn’t happen for Jack. Instead, his soul was set to wander, as if through a dark night, trying to find a path that he couldn’t name.
He wandered through this night, with no-one to walk with him, and the only knowledge he had of the passage of time was that, sometimes, he would stumble into the land of the living again – on nights when the lilacs were blooming and summer’s breath could tickle the back of his neck; or else when the frost turned to laced on the windows and the last of the harvest was coming in. Either way, there were fires lit and he could, for a little while, see where he was going.
And so it happened, on one such night when the veil between the living and the dead was thin, that he stumbled to Kildaer, to the fire that burns there always. And there he met a woman who stood by a glowing forge.
He said “Tell me where I am, for I’ve been lost and wandering so long!”
And she answered “Mine is the path of the living. I keep death from their doors with my healing arts; I keep memories alive with my songs. I cannot lead you home. But,” she added. “I can give you this.”
She reached into the depths of the forge and pulled out a bright coal. She placed it in the man’s cupped hands, where it glowed, but did not burn.
“Fire cleanses, and so it is mine,” she said. “And it grows and consumes like any living thing. But it also knows the road of death. Follow its light,” she told him. “It will guide you on your way and get you home.”
Now the man didn’t know what to make of this. He was still just as lost as ever. But her’s was the first kindness he’d had since his long wanderings had begun, so he thanked her and went on his way.
And it happened that the coal in his hand did, indeed, cast a strange light, which shifted as though with a will of its own, til he saw that he could follow in the direction that it lit.
And so, still lost but no-longer wandering, he walked with a purpose through the dark.
It took many years for the man to find his way, following the light that he carried, and he still moved between worlds when the veils grew thin. Sometimes, people would catch sight of him – a shadowy, half-formed figure; a burning bright light moving through the dark – on the night when the animals were slaughtered and the bonfires lit to cleanse the herds and keep them healthy through the winter.
And so the man, who some called a spirit and some called a ghost and some, surely, feared and called a deamon, came be known as Jack – Jack the Wanderer, Jack of the Lantern. And, as time went on, people began to set their own lights – bright coals burning in the dark beyond their doorways, candles in the windows behind smiling, carven faces – to help him on his way.
Now… Jack of the Lantern has long-since found his way to the land of the ancestors and has surely met all those who went before him. But he is not the only soul to wande in the darkness between the worlds, and so people still leave Jack-o-Lanterns by their doors on Spirit Night, to help the lost ones find their way.
If, some night when the veils are thin, the candle in your own lantern will not stay lit, look up. You may see the flame of it being borne away, and a lost soul, no-longer wandering, but walking with a purpose towards home.

Remembering My Ancestors

I don’t know where to start.

There’s a bowl of onion soup[1], a dark-chocolate truffle (or “truffle”, as the case may be), and a lit candle[2] sitting together in a pie plate on my dining room table.
The dining room table, I think, came either from my Grandmother’s vast accumulation of furniture, or from the antique store down the road from my parents’ place in Sackville, where I was born.

I don’t think that I’ve ever done a real “ancestor plate” before. I’ve done offerings of food, sure. Winter solstice sees a plate of goodies left outside for all and sundry who may be passing by. Sometimes that means Santa Clause, sometimes that means all the spirits who pass by in the night. Sometimes that means squirrels. Who knows.
But I haven’t done something like this – with my sweetheart in full awareness of what I was doing and why – set out food for the dead who have come before me.
But I’m doing it now.

As you know, I had a couple of relatives die this past Summer.

This brings the count of ancestors I’ve known well enough to have memories, as opposed to just mental snap-shots, of them to:

Great Nan – Elsie. My mother’s mother’s mother. Born out of a family feud. She died when I was in the 4th grade. On a Wednesday. I don’t have many memories of her. Not much more than snap-shots – how thin her hair was, how skinny she was, the weight of her walker (all heavy, curved metal – not these sleak, wheeling things with seats on them that people have now). The bumps on her scalp that she kept having to get removed (I wonder, now, if she had some kind of cancer but, really, she was in her 90s for most of the time that I knew her. by that age, as my brother would say, “cancer’s what gets you if nothing else does”. Although what actually got her was an active decision to say “Screw It, I’m Done” and stop eating. I’m not sure why we don’t call it suicide when the person’s over ninty…)

Dad – Robin. He died of pancreatic cancer in 2000, just a couple of months before he turned fifty-two. If I don’t have many memories of my Great Nan, I don’t have nearly enough of my Dad. He taught me how to fish, how to tear paper in a straight line by folding it over and weakening the fibres along the crease (brains, not strength), how to shoot a basket. In a lot of ways, he taught me how to not be a douche, which I appreciate. He was a distance runner and a basketball player his whole life. He was the parent that I could talk to when I was in my teens. When I look at the picture of us together (the one in the ancestor shrine), the thing that jumps out most is how we have the same smile, the same crinkliness around our eyes, the same face.

Gramp – Doug. My father’s father. He died seven months to the day after my Dad died, and I can’t help thinking that the death of his son might have had something to do with why his heart stopped that night. When he was young, he ran hurdles. I seem to recall that he was one of the best in Canada at one point, but I could be wrong on that. He was a painter – I have one of his paintings on my wall, and another one in storage (waiting to have space to be hung again) – and a mountain climber. I’ve often wondered if my family gets its queer streak from him.

Nana – Marguerite. My mother’s mother. She died a little ways over a year ago, after making a decision much like the one her own mother had made, and for much the same reasons: She was so ready to go by the end. Didn’t want to be here anymore. She taught music, played organ and piano for the “old folks” (who were typically younger than she was, by the end) at the senior’s residence next door to her appartment building. I get some of my musical tallent from her and, I suspect, some of my speech pattern as well. I remember when she and Papa came to visit me, shortly after I’d bought my first (and so-far only, as far as ownership goes) house. It was probably around Thanksgiving, or maybe a little bit earlier. The squash was ripening. I was part-way into my MA at that time, and I remember her commenting on how I was… neat-but-unusual in that I went out looking for a religious path rather than just following the one my parents had. I remember being struck by how much… mischief was in her eyes in some of the old photographs of her, back in the 1940s. She was trouble. 😉 I can see my Mom in her pictures. I can see me, too. I have her chin and jaw and, probably, hairline.

Gram – Ruth. My father’s mother. She died this summer and was burried in a shroud of paisley wool. I look at pictures of her when she was my age, and younger, and she is such a looker. I have her nose. I also have her bones. Same shoulders, very, very same hips. I know where my figure comes from now. We had similar taste in Big, Fancy jewelry, a fair bit of which I’ve inherited. I confess that I’m looking to her, these days, for some style guidance. Here’s hoping her Fabulosity rubs off. 😉

Papa – Jack. My mother’s father. The last of the grandparents. He lived long enough to meet his first great grandchild. I can’t help wondering if he was waiting for that, since he died within a week of his great grandson being born. But I think, more likely, he spent the last year of his life missing his wife and waiting to join her. My Ghost says that she could feel the earth – the relationship my farmer grandfather had with the earth – coming off him like mist. I believe it. He loved baseball. Played it, when he was younger, and followed it for his whole life. (I have a picture of my Mom as a toddler – a formal portrait – and heaven and earth, her body language, as a baby is exactly the way my Papa looked when he was watching the ball game).

These are my ancestors. Not all of them – duh – but the ones I knew personally, and who I’ve been closest to.

I hope they enjoyed the soup and the chocolate.

Sleep tight, and happy Samhain.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Photo by Sujit Kumar
Via Wiki Creative Commons

[1] For what it’s worth: Home-made duck stock, mixed with a little each: sesame oil, balsamic vinegar, and molasses. Yellow cooking onion, rounds of leek, diced garlic scapes, slivers of carrot and ribbons of collard greens. Home-made bread, toasted and buttered and cut into quarters. Slivers of cheddar on top of it all.

[2] Happy Home candles – the soy wax ones I made that all cracked across their surfaces. Sweet orange, clove, and vanilla for happiness, love (and lovin’), prosperity, and protection. Things that build and keep a family, or a phamily, one way or another.