Monthly Archives: January 2013

Full Moon – Snow Moon Crests

So Snow Moon is full today. The sky is very clear, though there’s more snow in the forecast over the next couple of days. The past week of very, very cold (but normal for this time of year[1]) weather seems to be calming down and the temperature has been lifting to around -11 from it previous postion of about -30.
My altars are lit (offering day is a day late this week, as we spent all of yesterday in a car with my wife, driving to and from Toronto in order to pick up a couple of patchers[2] for the Work Room – but I’ve still been doing weekly offerings since the beginning of Snow Moon, and I’m happy about that). Most of the candles that are burning right now are ones that I made less than an hour ago. Hugging them in seems to work as far as making tealights in a mini-muffin-pan (silicone) goes, in order to make them fin into the little half-ounce foil liners I’ve got lying around.
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B is Boundaries and Balancing (and Baths) – Pagan Blog Project 2013

So last year, I did “B is for Balance” within the context of winter and summer and the seasonal rhythm of the earth (or at least the part of it where I’m living).
This year, I’m doing “balance” again, but I’m looking at it as part of my work with Trance-portation.
In Chapter Two, the author talks about different ways to ground, center, balance, and otherwise orient and anchor yourself (physically and energetically) in your space. She also talks about shielding – thense boundaries – while you work and developing a permiable shield that lets relevant information in but keeps out the white noise and the people who basically just want to play Silly Buggers with you. In theory.
I like Paxson’s description of balancing – the idea of orienting yourself according to the directions you recognize, but I have trouble doing shielding. I spend a morning doing figure modeling and, during the long poses, I practiced raising and lowering a “shield” (bubble) around myself.
It was weird.
I can’t actually tell if I was succeeding at shielding. The book says that when the visuals get fuzzy but you can still hear what’s going on, you’ve got a shield up. At least that’s how I understood it. But I can’t tell if I was just letting my eyes unfocus or what. :-\
I wrote, recently, about my first attempt at trancework since starting this wee course of study.
The relevant point from that, here, is that I tend to ground into water better than I ground into, well, ground. Maybe that’s because I’m a scorpio with a (full-moon-in) pices for my moon sign; or maybe it’s because my “spirit animal” is a barracuda. Or maybe it’s just because I’m a watery creature in general.
Or maybe it’s something else.
But I ground out into water – both in terms of visualization (when I’m trying to un-spin myself or, especially, someone else, the visual that goes into it is basically me plunging into deep, cool water, and bringing them with me[1]) and in terms of literally getting myself centred, back in my body, and unspun/calmed-down. Baths are my favourite thing, and I love swimming in live water (lakes and rivers[2]).
If I were to hazzard a guess, I would say that doing trance-work in water (or at least in tame water, like a bath tub), is pretty safe. Partly because (I think) the little water people in my tub are friendly towards me. (Possibly because I’m so clearly friendly towards them?) But also because it’s a safe place (for me[3]) that comes with (a) a lock on the door, and (b) its own private moat. 🙂 Add my tendency to ground in that medium, and I’ve got a pretty good spot to work from.
Granted, working exclusively with water (or in water) may mean that I end up shooting myself in the foot a little bit, in terms of being able to (eventually) get things done without having to head for the bath. But it seems like a good place to start. 🙂
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] Apparently this feels like having energy poured-into/dontated-to you, when you’re on the receiving end…? So I’ve been told. That and “best hugs in the city”.
[2] My wife, who’s much more aware of this stuff (by an order of magnitude) than I am, says that water is ancient and in-the-moment. Because it’s always changing. So… The water in the river, the rain, everything… that’s been here since it first cooled the planet down. It’s ancient beyond anything – beyond the shield rock across the river from me, even. It has accumulated memory of all that time. But it doesn’t have the same kind of Awake that a mountain or an old growth tree has because it’s always in flux, always changing. Ancient and new at the same time. I find this utterly, utterly fascinating, but all I know about it is second-hand. 🙂
[3] The bath was where I’d go to get away from my crappy husband, back in my first marriage. Lock the door and soak for as long as I could get away with, and just let the water take all the anger and rage and despair away with it at the end.

Internal Landscape (Trance attempt #1).

So, in typical and perhaps foolish fashion, I tried doing some Going Under while in my bath.

I used a technique for (in theory?) going into trance space that I learned at the local Pagan Schola –> Basically you imagine taking an elevator down through seven or so layers, each one a different colour of the rainbow (you start with red and go down to purple). Then you get out of the elevator, and you’re in your home base.

I my case, I closed my eyes and let my bathtub sink down through those seven layers (I saw my friendly water spirits at the green/heart level. That was nice. I hope I saw them true, and that they really are there and happy to see me be recognized as present. I also saw a Thai Budha in around Indigo, but I’m not sure that’s relevant or just some blip my brain threw up while I was moving). Eventually, my tub landed.
So. My internal landscape is. Maybe not all that surprising.
I landed on a hill – hard-packed earth with the grass and clover and similar growing on it (or, well, rooted in it), that looked like it was only about 3-4 weeks past the snow buggering off. It wasn’t cold – not warm, I was glad for the sweater thing I appeared to be wearing, but also no cold. It looked like the earth had been hibernating, right there, for a while though.
I climbed out of the tub (which is now dry and, fyi, I’m dressed) and looked to the west. It was edging towards sunset, so that’s how I knew (apparently). There’s a big river there. Wouldn’t be surprised if it was the Ottawa, to be honest. The area kind of reminded me of Britania. Anyway. Big river. Forest on the opposite side. River wraps around the land to the north and south, but I’m not on an island (at least not by the looks of things).
There’s a little town – with a big steeple in it(?) – to the north-west, right on the edge of the water. And then there’s forest[1]. To the East, north-east, and south-east. So where I’m standing in the meadow/transitional land between forest and shore.
That’s basically the gist of it.
Since this was basically a preliminary fact-finding mission, I wasn’t going to stick around very long. But it did (thank goodness) occur to me that maybe, y’know, it might be good to make some sort of offeratory gesture while I was there. Since I’d be coming back and all[2]. So I pulled out my water bottle (a green nalgene bottle that I’ve basically taken over from Ghost, of all things), unscrewed the lid, and did a wee libation and (I think, I hope?) said Thanks.
And a flower popped up where I’d spilled the water.
There was no puddle or anything, it soaked right in. And then this delicate, long-stemmed pink wild flower[3] just lifted up its head and opened right up.
I said Hi, and told it (her?) that I’d be back.
So I will have to go back now, because (in theory) someone is expecting me there.
After that, I got back in my tub and rode the colourful elevator back up through the colours. I winked at the budha (or maybe zi winked at me?), waved to the water spirits and told them I was happy to see them and glad they were here and that I’d swing by again when I came this way.
Eventually, I was back to myself. I used the grounding technique mentioned at this Emotional First Aid site to make sure I was fully back, and then proceeded to say Thank You to everybody and finish my bath with general maintenance. 🙂
And that’s my story.
[1] Once, at the suggestion of Miss Sugar, I did a similar exercise wherein I went to find my Internal House. My internal house, apparently, lives under the roots of a big old tree (deciduous, but not actually sure what kind. Not birch, funily enough. Potentially poplar or willow, though. It had the right kind of bark, even in the dark). As such, I suspect that I can follow a path from the house to the hill and back again, if I go looking for one. Granted, that remains to be seen.
[2] Given that this is my internal home-base/landing-strip – meaning part of myself as much as it’s anything else – I’m not actually sure what that means. Although if it means I just made an offering to myself, my own holy place, something like that… good? Can’t hurt, anyway. 🙂
[3] Near as I can tell, this is probably a wild geranium. It might be something else (maybe a mallow or a super-pale version of rose campion?), but Wild Geranium looks… pretty close. It’s got the right kind of seed heads and is the right colour, and it turns out that it’s native to the area where I live (and where my internal landscape looks to be situated). So… for now, that’s the guess I’m making.

Wild Geranium. 🙂

Trance-Portation: Self-Evaluation Questionnaire (Part One)

So, as-you-know-bob, I’m working my way (very, very slowly) through Trance-portation: Learning to Navigate the Inner World. I admit, I’m not following my rule to do the exercises in one chapter before starting to read the next chapter. But I’m still doing the exercises and reading things more slowly than I would if I were just wanting to learn this stuff in theory.
Anyway. One of my goals for this year, along with doing PBP13 and taking good (or at least noticeably better) care of my body[1], is to work my way through this book, SO, with that in mind, I present Part One of Trance-Portation‘s Self-Evalunation Questionnaire.

Support Systems:

1) What is your living situation? Do your family/housemates support your spiritual practice? Will they allow you the privacy in-which to practice the [book’s] exercises? If in doubt, negotiate or find somewhere else to work.
I live with my fairly witchy and woo-friendly wife. She supports me in developing my practice. She also works outside the house, while I work from home, so I have ample time during her working hours to practice the exercises (that said, I will still need to mark out time from my own (other) work to do them – this is more likely to be a barrier than anything else).
2) Do you belong to coven, circle, or other spiritual group? If yes, does it practice meditation or trance work? If yes: What kind, how often, and for what purpose? Are any other group-members working with this book? Will your group support your efforts to learn these skills?
I don’t. So… N/A? That said, if any of you reading this are working with Trance-Portation, feel free to chime in with your own experiences as is applicable. 🙂
3) Do you (already) have a power animal, totem, or other “invisible friend”? How did you acquire/engage it? How often do you contact it? How does it contact you?
Uh… Not that I know of. I’ve written about bears and bats, and I like cats and have a huge fondness for crows. But none of that (other than the bit where one of my goddesses, see below, takes the form of a bear, and two of the others have connections to crows) means than any of these animals are my Spirit Helpers.
That said, there are (or were in my last place… not sure how to invite them to join me in the new place – suggestions?) little water spirits theoretically living in my bathroom. (Sometimes I wonder if they’d be up for helping me with my messed up toilet…).
They might qualify as (potential) non-deity, non-human Friends or Helpers. Maybe. Worth checking in about, perhaps?
Oh. And I think one of the sewing machines has told me her name. (I think she appreciated that I paid some attention to her – we’ve got all these fancy, iron-and-steel antique machines coming in and I think she was feeling like a bit of a Plain Jane in comparison).
Additionally, my ancestors have my back. Which is awesome. I’m mentioning them here because they aren’t deities, but they could theoretically fit in either category.
Re: contact: When I do boiling water offerings (which remains haphazard). ~Once a month at this point. (Maybe I should step it up?) My ancestors get more attention/contact than that, though. (See below).
4) Do you have a strong affinity with, or devotion to, (a) specific deity/ies? How did the relationship develop? How often do you contact them? How do they contact you?
Yes. I’ve written about my People HERE (both who they are and how I got to know them). The short version is that Maia grabbed me by the brain until I started paying attention, and the other four turned up in response to a call-for-positions that I sent out to the world in general.
Re: Contact: I do candle offerings once a week, at this point. (YAY!) So my gods and ancestors (see above) get regular devotional contact. Also any time I’m smoking the house (incense to clean things up), and any time I do boiling water offerings. When I’m prepping dinner, I put bits of the (good) food into the compost[2] and actively say Thank You to my People for looking out for me. Sometimes I give them blood (though not that often – usually menstrual, but not always). I ask them for advice/guidance (and ask them to be really fucking obvious with the clue-by-fours, because I’m kind of dense that way). I say hello. I smile at them via their altars and periodically do little “I’m thinking of you” waves and stuff. It’s not huge, it’s VERY casual. It frequently feels one-sided, but periodically I get word back (sometimes very loudly). I know they’re there. Sometimes it’s hard for me to hear them, though. :-\
So that’s part one. More to come.
– Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] So far, so good. Having a week of modeling work in mid-January (and another coming in early-February, and another coming in mid-March) is not hurting this project any. It’s giving me physical activity for days at a time (YAY) and also giving me reasons to do yoga on the off days (partly to ease the modeling-induced stiffness). So huzzah! I’m finding that Cobra Pose is a big help for my lower-back/hip problem, fyi. 🙂
[2] To explain: Back when I started doing regular devotional stuff, I had a house with a yard. In the yard was a compost heap. The compost heap is a place where all my gods are present in some form or other – plants, earth, heat, moisture, and change. Thus, I used it as a place to make offerings – both small, daily type ones during food-prep and larger ones (grain + honey + milk + wine… you get the general drift) at various points through the year. Even though I don’t have a yard, I do continue to use my compost container as a place to make food-based offerings.

Stock Made from Many Bones and Braising Liquid

Today I made braised beef.
I put a small, (fairly tough, and on sale), beef roast in the slow cooker on top of:
Button Mushrooms
Sweet potatoes
Yukon Gold baby potatoes
Garlic (roughly chopped)
2 tbsp tomato-peach salsa (thus finishing off the first bottle)

… And then doused everything with equal (ish) parts red wine and apple juice. I added two sprigs of rosemary on top of it all, and then turned the slow-cooker onto High.

Three hours later, I had:
1 nicely tender heap of beef
1 bowl of mixed braised veggies (falling-apart tender and flavourful, no less)
1 slowcooker half-full of braising liquid

I served the beef and veggies with steamed ruby chard (YUM!), and did the following with the braising liquid:

1) Added two ziplock sandwich bags full of mostly bones (lamb, pork, duck, and chicken – so quite the mix) that I’d been saving in the freezer[A]
2) Added a handful of baby carrots + a wedge of yellow onion
3) Added 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme (and put the rosemary back in)
4) Added the stems from the ruby chard

I’ve turned the heat down to Low. I’ll check it in the morning and see what further seasoning it needs, as it will probably need something. But I figure that’s a good start and we can go from there. 🙂

Meliad the Birch Maiden.

[A] I’ve still got a turkey carcas in there, so there will be yet more stock made this winter, no question. 🙂

B is for Beeswax – Pagan Blog Project 2013

I make beeswax candles. I make them to sell at craft shows – one-ounce tea lights and three-ounce votive candles in steel holders – but I also make them (half-ounce tea lights in re-used metal cups) for home use as light offerings for my various gods and ancestors. I made some the other day using a slightly different mold (¾oz rather than ½oz) and experimenting to see whether I could still burn them in my recycled foil cups or not (hint: yes – but only if I “hug them in” before they’re fully hardened, otherwise they spill a little bit).
Regardless, in an ideal week, that means 13 candles to get everybody (gods, ancestors, and honey pots) fed. Fifty-seven dozen tea lights per year (or just shy thereof).
I do this because (a) I can, (b) it’s way less expensive to make them myself than to buy them from a store (where beeswax tea-lights run about $1 each), and (c) because I don’t like paraffin.
Yeah, I’m a snob. I get that.
But I feel like feeding my People with a paraffin tea light from the grocery store is a bit like grabbing an egg-mc-muffin[1] for them; while making the candles myself, out of beeswax no less, is like making them a home-cooked meal from local, sustainably-farmed ingredients, with all four food groups included. Either way, they’re getting fed. But the latter means that they’re also receiving the end-product of my skills, time, attention, and energy. And I think that makes a difference.
So that’s my super-quicky PBP13 post for this week.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] I’m deliberately picking on the erf-mc-nerf here because they actually make me feel a little sick, even though they’re… reliable… in their horribleness and frequently better than nothing. We go through months at home where we’re traveling every weekend and it’s easier to grab breakfast on the road than to wake up enough to make something similar (scrambled eggs on toast, with or without cheese and marmite)

“Doing the Work” – some thoughts on a post

So there’s This Post – put up by Del, over at Sex, Gods, and Rock Stars[1] – talking about what “doing the Work” actually means.
It’s a good post.
I like how Del breaks it down, talking about how “Work” means preparing yourself physically and habitually, and doing maintenance on your body, mind, education, religious practice, and community ties.
This matters. It’s a good and simply-put reminder to, well, to not put the cart before the horse, essentially.
I need to remember to go slowly. To maintain and support:
– My altars (with weekly candle offerings, the occasional bit of dusting, and a few other things) and, thus, my relationship with my gods and ancestors (and the various other spirits in the house).
– My community ties (organize a monthly salon, yeah, but also go to the leather brunch, or the kinky queer women’s get together, or the femme pool night, or the mosh, or what-have-you. Help people move. Go to birthday parties. Feed people who need a good meal. Offer a workshop on… something. I may need to figure that one out. 😉
– My body (by eating Real Food, by getting to bed before midnight, by actually moving my body around in significant ways on a regular basis (modeling, walking, yoga), by investing in a sun-lamp, my giving my toenails a chance to breathe without being covered in polish).
I have to remember to do all those things, to make them habitual and normal and part of my routine, before I can start adding to that routine by stepping up what I’m up to in terms of spiritual/religious practice/activity (let alone services).
Which doesn’t mean I can’t keep practicing the exercises in Trance-Portation. It just means that I have to do the other stuff as well. 🙂
Meliad the Birch Maiden. 🙂

[1] A blog which, given my interest in sacred kink, is probably one I should be reading on the regular.

Vegan Bean Stew (low sodium)

Hey, ducks,
So here is the recipe I made for drop-off the other day. I figured I’d share it, as it’s a slow-cooker recipe and more than a couple of you might find it handy.
Vegan Bean Stew
Combine the following in a slow-cooker and cook on “low” for about 20 hours (topping up with extra water as needed):
1 tin romano beans – drained and very well rinsed
1 tin mixed beans (unmarinated) – drained and very well rinsed
5 dried tomatoes, cut into slivers or diced
1/4 C mild tomato peach salsa[1]
1/4 C celeriac, peeled and diced
1 large-ish sweet potato, peeled and diced
1/2 C barley (pearl or pot is fine)
6 cubes[2] of frozen ruby chard
1 half-cup jar of apple-cranberry chutney[3]
3 cloves garlic (or to taste), roughly chopped
1 C red wine
6 C water[4]
3 sprigs of fresh thyme (remove half-way through cooking)
2 (big) sprigs of fresh rosemary (remove half-way through cooking)
1/2 tbsp black pepper
So, there you have it. It’s tasty. It uses a mix of winter veggies and various preserves (plus some fresh herbs that came to me post-wedding – otherwise I’d have used dried). It cooks while you do other things, and it’s healthy, and it’s delicious comfort food on top of that. 🙂
Meliad the Birch Maiden. 🙂
[1] Alternative: 1 tin of crushed tomatoes in lieu of the salsa and slivered dried tomatoes. Will be more tomato-y. You decide how you feel about that.
[2] I freeze them in ice-cube trays – If you freeze them in muffin pans, you could probably get by with 2-3 blocks.
[3] I wanted to add a little bit of sweet-and-sharp to it, and I thought this would go nicely with the sweet potato. I used my own recipe but, since I don’t have that recipe posted, here’s one you can try if you’re so inclined. 🙂
[4] You can futz with the proportions on these two, use white wine, or something else if you’re so inclined.

Witching – The Soul and Centre of It

So… I’ve been busy. (YAY!) With paying work (YAY!) including a commision from an Etsy customer and a heap of modeling work (that’s gone from one week to three — huzzah!) It’s been a good day.
I’ve also started work on a vegan stew for someone I know, who is dying.
Not so good.
This is a thing about witchcraft that I tend not to hear about much in Ye Olde Blogosphere. It’s a thing that I’m not that good at, but am striving to do better. It’s a thing that my wife does without a second thought.
A big part of Witching – in the Terry Pratchett sense[1] – is being a community care-taker. I frequently suck at being a community care-taker. This thing, where I’m contributing to the meals of someone I know, is one step towards ammending that situation.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series (see here, here, here, and here, if you want them) does a remarkably good job of articulating my personal witch-crafty worldview. You could do worse than checking them out, if you take my meaning.

Crochet Pattern for Tiny Goat-Style Horns

So this blog has been all Pagan Blog Project all the time, of late.
Personally, I don’t see that as a bad thing, but I thought it would be good if I posted something more in line with food-and-crafts end of things.
See… My wife wants a winter hat with goat-style horns on the front. We are the House of Goat, after all, so I can see why she wants this. 🙂
Conveniently, My Gurumi has a pattern for exactly that. I think you need some very tiny DPNs to do this pattern (and, as such, some comfort with using DPNs at the beginning of a project).
EDITED TO ADD: Apparently this pattern is for crochet, not knitting. Woops. Shows what I know. :-\
You can follow the link to the pattern, or read it below:
1 – make a double ring with 5 sc
2 – m2, sc4
3 – sc1, m2, sc4
4 – sc1, m2 x2, sc2, sc2tog
5 – sc2, m2, sc5
6 – sc3, m2 x2, sc3, sc2tog (from now on the decreases will always cross the first stitch of the new/next round, don’t worry, just start the new round after the decrease like nothing happend)
7 – sc3, m2, sc6
8 – sc4, m2 x2, sc4, sc2tog
9 – sc4, m2, sc7
10 – sc5, m2 x2, sc5, sc2tog
11 – sc5, m2, sc8
12 – sc6, m2 x2, sc6, sc2tog
13 – sc6, m2, sc9
14 – sc7, m2 x2, sc7, sc2tog
15 – sc7, m2, sc10
16 – sc8, m2 x2, sc8, sc2tog
17 – sc8, m2, sc11
(with a 3,5 mm hook my horn was about 6,5 cm long, there is a rhythm after row 8 that you can easily recognize and that allows you to elongate and enlarge the horn as wide as you like)
So there you have it. Or I have it. A pattern for knitting crocheting[1] tiny horns. (I love the delicate pink of the yarn she used for them… I’ll probably go with something like this, or else one of the small, bright, bits and bobs heaped in the bottom of my stash. We shall see. 🙂
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] I will now have to learn to crochet. Cripes. O.O