Monthly Archives: January 2013

New Moon – Snow Moon Begins

Hey all,
 
So today’s the day my second PBP13 post goes up (and it has), but it’s also a new moon. So. Where are we at?
Unsurprisingly (I guess?), as this is the beginning of Snow Moon, we’re having a spate of unseasonably warm (like seriously) weather and, thus, have freezing rain, freezing rain, and more freezing rain in the forecast.
It’s gonna look like Fimbulvinter around here. O.O
Again. 😦
 
That said, I’m trying not to let the grey weather (and the frequent need to shut the blinds on our main-floor, street-facing windows, which isn’t helping the lack of sunlight) get to me.
Continue reading

A is for Ablution – Pagan Blog Project 2013

ab·lu·tion [uh-bloo-shuh n] noun
1. A cleansing with water or other liquid, especially as a religious ritual.
(Dictionary.com)
 
So, last week I mentioned doing a ritual bath – a Something Nice for myself that had ritual benefits in line with my spiritual-study focus for 2013.
Here’s how it went:
 
I ran the water (duh) and threw in dried birch and bay leaves (for opening up to the spirit world, psychic awareness, and similar) plus epsom salts (which is just what I do), vanilla absolut (for sensuality, love, and lust), and essential oils of cinnamon, clary sage, and ylang ylang (for sexuality, lust, and love, but also for spirituality, Significant Dreams and opening up one’s psychic abilities).
There’s something I should have thought about a little more before I did that.
Specifically – and as I mentioned in Q is for Queer, no less – that cinnamon oil is dermoncaustic. Even, apparently, when it’s diluted by an entire bath worth of water.
O.O
Within five minutes of getting into the bath, I had little, blotchy burns all over my body (including a big one by my right eye and another one that looked like the classic vampire thing, by the right corner of my mouth), and any scratches or scrapes that I had were livid and red.
Not exactly the sensual experience I was aiming for.
 
That said, we’ll see what my dreams start looking like. Maybe it worked anyway. 🙂
 
Beyond that, what can I take away from this? Well… Don’t do anything without thinking it through…? A little dab’ll do ya? Consider what’s right in front of you before you take that step?
Crap. I don’t want to take stuff from this that give me excuses to Not Act.
Fuck.
Know what you’re getting yourself into?
 
Regardless. It was a lovely, if somewhat burn-y bath, and I followed it up with slipping into a spiffy negligee in order to carry the sensual and sex-positive elements of the bath even further.
And that was my ritual bath.

U is for Underworld – Pagan Blog Project 2012

This is something that caught my attention back when I read Dark Moon Rising (link goes to my review of the book, on Syrens). The idea of katabasis being a personal, internal journey where you face a particular Part Of You that you really wish wasn’t there.
 
I’ve seen Miss Sugar talk about two options that Magically Minded People have when it comes to dealing with the parts of oneself that are in the way, holding you back, etc. The therapy route and the magical (banishing) route.
I admit, I’m going to go with the therapy route pretty much every time. I’d much rather figure out why something is there in the first place (so I can stop it causing more crap to crop up later) than just shoo away the symptom. (Maybe that’s not what she meant, granted).
That said, I do love the idea of using magic and ritual to gain that understanding.
 
I’ve recently discovered Barking Shaman, the blog of a fellow named Wintersong, who teaches about crafting ordeal rituals (and other rituals) – for self and others – that are specifically meant to accomplish the kind of cathartic self-meeting “that can sometimes happen as an by-product, intended or otherwise, of the kind of play that we do in the kink/BDSM world”.
 
Which is great! 🙂
Here’s hoping I can attend a Dark Odyssey at-which he’s presenting one of these workshops.
 
However. I’d also like to learn how to go into my own depths in a non-trauma-induced way.
 
My wife is a free-diver, and she talks about “the blue” and “the black” of deep-diving in the ocean. As a watery creature, I suspect that my Inner World is a watery one. I’ve been on the shores of a lake, when I’ve gone into Inner Space during Pagan Schola. I have a Monster who comes out when I let my sadistic side get free during S/M play, and that one lives among the river reeds (there is mud under my fingernails and duckweed in my hair, don’t you forget it). And so I’m wondering if, perhaps, my Inner World has a “blue” and, deeper than that, a “black”.
 
I’m wondering what parts of myself I would meet if I went deep enough. Hopefully, over the course of 2013, I’ll figure that out.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

T is for Trance – Pagan Blog Project 2012

One thing I want to try doing – or doing more frequently – as I (try to) deepen my practice and connect more with ecstasy and [sacred sexuality] is to go into trance more often.
I admit, I’m not entirely sure why I want to do this.
Partly, I know, it’s that It Sounds Cool. As in: all the cool (experiential hedge-witch/spirit-worker) people are Doing It, so…
Yeah.
The other reason is because, in those situations where I’ve gone into trance, or gone into Energy-Aware Headspace (perhaps a more accurate term?), I’ve been able to pick up on the presence of People; the energetic/physical needs of the person(s) I’ve been with[1]; have been a better, more powerful singer; and been generally more aware of and able to interact with and alter/shift the flow of energy in the space, in the person’s body, or whatever.
And that, I think, is a good reason to want to get the hang of this, to be able to slip into that headspace – what I call trance but what might be better described as “energy-aware headspace”… or something – easily and quickly and reliably, rather than on a wing and a prayer and a whole lot of maybe, after an hour of trying to get myself there.
 
I recently picked up a book – Trance-Portation: Learning to Navigate the Inner World – which, going by the reviews it got and also by the table of contents, appears to be a good step-by-step introductory guide for the kind of stuff I’m looking to study and try. I’m hoping will have some Excercises that I can Do At Home (ideally safely, ideally without walking too far outside my own body… or going too deeply into my own oceans, as the case may be[2]) in order to start working on this in an active, practicing, and reasonably[4] regular way.
 
Anyway. That’s my plan for trance work and making an attempt to do it and get comfortable, maybe even good (decent? competant?) at it.
 
Wish me luck! 🙂
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] In a scene, during sex, when supporting/calming someone who’s in distress, while doing massage.
 
[2] I think my Inner World – at least a particular, slightly scary but (I suspect) very powerful, part of it – is down past the blue and into the black of ocean space. My monster lives there, if I go deep enough. I think my power lives there, too. Worth exploring, but I can’t help looking at it with a LOT of trepidation[3].
 
[3] What’s that thing from Joseph Campbell? “The place you’re scared to go, that’s where you need to go if you’re going to clame your power”? (Not actually a direct quote. Possibly an interpretation of something he said, though).
 
[4] At this point I don’t know what “reasonable” means, and I’m thinking it might be a cop-out word. At the same time, I don’t think it’s likely I’ll be doing trance work every day… Unless I should be? I don’t know. The plan is to read the book, do what excercises there are (or find/create some if there aren’t any in the book – suggestions welcome, folks), and see where that gets me. I can do it. I can do it. I can.

S is for Sacred Sexuality – Pagan Blog Project 2012

Okay. Strictly speaking the concept of sex – in the sense of both body and desire – as holy is rooted pretty deeply in neo-paganism, whether we’re talking about Wicca’s Uncle Gerald, goddess spiritualists’ refusal to accept the shame-and-blame that rape culture heaps on women, or posts like this one by hedge-rider Foxfetch.
But when I talk about Sacred Sexuality – when I talk about sacred kink, when I hunt up podcasts that talk about how “holy sexuality doesn’t have to smell like three-kings incense”, when I read Ecstasy Is Necessary or Urban Tantra and treat them as stepping stones on my own path – I’m going (I think) a little further than that.
It isn’t just that my body and my wife’s body are holy flesh. It isn’t just that a lot of the life of this planet – life that we hold holy because our gods are in and of them, are touchable – is created through sex, so sex is (or can be) a holy act of creation. It isn’t just Thou art Goddess or All Acts of Love and Pleasure are My Rituals.
It’s that I can write pornography that is also an act of magic. It’s that I can use the tools of pain, bondage, even fear to create a ritual that helps connect you to your gods or helps you meet, understand, and know your own demons[1]. It’s knowing that prostitution can be a holy profession but understanding that sexworkers don’t need a mantle of holiness in order to justify their career choices. It’s finding tribe, and facilitating Woo, in your leather community[2]; it’s finding a holy calling in O/p or using techniques found in Tantric sex to get yourself into trance for non-sexual rituals or acts. It’s chasing ecstasy as simultaneously a way to reconnect, get vulnerable in a safe way, with someone – or many someones – who matter to you and as a really fun way to spend an afternoon; and recognizing that sex that isn’t, or sex that can’t be, for making babies… is still holy. It’s getting it that The Sacred Feminine can be a cis man in fishnets, glitter, and fairy wings; can be the Venus of Willendorf with a walker and an insulin pump; can come carrying the twin hammers of cobbler and carpenter in her hands; is way more complicated than Maiden-Mother-Crone would have you believe; can look like Leeta, but isn’t required to. It’s recognizing that divine masculinity can be 200 pounds of butch woman in hiking boots, can be slender and bespectacled, can be the surrendering grain at harvest time; can look like Conan – complete with chest harness and gym body – but simultaneously be gay or trans or a ballet dancer or a poet, or otherwise upset the expectation of what a Conan-looking-guy is supposed to be. It’s knowing that “god” doesn’t have to be masculine, that “goddess” doesn’t have to be feminine, or even human-shaped, to bear that title.
 
It’s a whole lot of complex, layered things.
I want to know more.
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Okay. Maybe I can’t. At least not right this minute. But other people can, and it’s something I want to learn how to do. I don’t doubt that it’s going to be a long road, but it’s… talking to me. I’m paying attention.
 
[2] Those who are absent, those who are gone. The gathering of the tribe. Femme-ily.

R is for Runes – Pagan Blog Project 2012

Sigils. I’m not massively well-versed in doing them. In fact I only started working with them at all in 2012. That said, between Gordon and Miss Sugar, I’ve decided I may as well give them a shot.
Thus far, I’ve tried (a) using “standard cultural imagery”[1], (b) making up my own[2], and (c) using runes. Runes, as you’ve probably guessed by the title of this post, seem to be working well.
 
Huzzah!
 
I’ve drawn Uruz and Fehu in the air over the altar for My Lady of Creative Writing and Music (and got a poem, a short story, and a book idea all in the same day). Which is pretty-much the only bit where things have Seriously Worked. BUT they worked in – by my standards – a pretty big way. So I’m definitely up for trying them again. I’ve incorporated them into the logo for Amazon Creations, and am sorting out which ones – probably Gifu, Algiz, and Inguz – with-which to anoint[3] the door of my new (marital) home.
 
Why do I think they’re working? Well, a few things – one of which may actually be “coincidence”, since I’ve not done a whole lot with them just yet – but one reason, in particular, that I think runes-as-sigils will (continue to) work for me is that they have built-in meaning. They’ve been getting used for one kind of magic (including Make Things Happen magic in the form of bind-runes, for example) for a LONG-ass time. I feel like, maybe because of that, they’ve got both (a) a proven track record of working for this kind of stuff, and (b) lots of cultural memory hanging around in the Collective Unconscious, supporting them when they’re in use.
 
Here’s hoping I’m right! 😀
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Like a happy face for boosting a positive mood and/or warding off depression, or a dollar sign for money-drawing. Mixed results, but not entirely useless.
 
[2] This didn’t work so well since every damn thing I tried came out looking the same and, while a “heart’s desire” sigil isn’t a bad thing to have on hand, it winds up being kind of a tall order when you get right down to the magical/energetic brass tacks. I gather (from Gordon, again) that I’m probably going to get better results by sigiling for multiple, related small things at once rather than sigiling for a single, magical Big Bang.
 
[3] Probably in a mix of sweet-orange, basil, and maybe cinnamon EOs in a sweet-almond carrier oil. I’ve been doing more with essential oils of late as well, and I’ll be blogging about my experiences with that in the next little bit. 🙂 Stay tuned. 😉

A is for Action – Pagan Blog Project 2013

Hello! While I’m still finishing up the alphabet from PBP12 (I started mid-year, so I’ve decided to just keep it going), I’m also doing PBP13 simultaneously, but with a slightly narrowed focus. Rather than blogging about *anything* that pertains to my particular pagan path, including random musings and occasional stretches-of-definitions , I’m going to focus on:
(a) Personal experiences/activities
AND
(b) scared sexuality and sacred kink
 
The latter is a path that has been tugging my sleeve for some time, but it’s the former that I want to talk about today.
 
I just read this post by Morpheus Ravenna, about keeping your commitments, doing what you say you’re going to do, and generally not shooting yourself in the foot when it comes to fulfilling the promises you make… even (maybe especially) to/for yourself.
I tend to avoid Action. It’s stupid, it doesn’t get things done, it means that I stagnate in my practice and then get scared to try and start things up again, or move them further, because “what if I just stall-out all over again?” I talked about it a bit in P is for Practice and/or Procrastination and have a post over on Syrens that talks more about acting with honour than, say, fearing to act at all, but that is, I think, somewhat related.
I want 2013 to be a year of action as opposed to a year of research. Which doesn’t mean that there won’t be research going on, or that the actions might be small ones, but it does mean that I make a concerted effort, a commitment even, to keep taking steps along the journey even when those steps are baby ones; to consult the map as needed but without failing to keep moving forward as I do.
 
I am freaking myself out just by saying that. By saying “I commit to keep moving forward, to keep taking baby steps, to not stalling myself out with I can’t do X Action until I’ve researched X Action ad infinitum and feel like I can’t possibly make any mistakes”.
Maybe that’s what Morpheus meant when she said:
Every time we do this[…], it weakens the will. It reinforces a view of ourselves that we aren’t up to completing a commitment, while telling ourselves it’s OK, it’s just a New Year’s resolution, everybody breaks them. This is the way to eviscerate the will.
 
I remember talking to a then-girlfriend, once, about how my therapist kept asking me “what are you going to do to be nice to yourself tonight?” and how it all looked like so much trite, over-pressuring nastiness from where I was standing and why bother wasting the effort? And she said “Meliad, you follow through on doing something nice for yourself so that you start trusting your SELF again.” You say you’re going to do something nice for yourself, and then you follow through and actually do it… and your SELF goes “Oh… That wasn’t just lip-service. Who knew?” and, eventually, you establish a pattern of being trust-worthy and, thus, being able to trust yourself, your own words, your feelings, and your vibes. YAY!
 
All this to say that, by focusing my PBP3013 posts on personal experiences/activities I will give myself extra incentive to actually have them and, thus, to keep Acting over the course of the year.
That’s the plan, anyway. That’s the commitment.
So. What is my Action for today? Today I’m going to do something nice for myself. I’m going to take a hot bath, and I’m going to scent it with bay leaves, birch leaves (if I can find where I put them…[1]), ylang ylang, clary sage, vanilla, and cinnamon in order to encourage holy sexuality, protection, sensuality, dream-work, and opening up to the spirit-world.
Wish me luck! 🙂
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden
 
 
[1] Pine needles or pine EO would work, too, but I don’t have any pine on me right now.

Q is for Queer – Pagan Blog Project 2012

So, as-you-know-bob, I’m a great big leatherdyke who recently married her servant. I write lesbian porn that I tend to categorize as “leather woo” because it combines pain-play and power-exchange with various degrees of magical/religious ritual. One of my deities is polyamourous. One of them has at least one foot inside the door of the Sacred Harlots’ temple (she’s definitely a protector and helper of sexworkers, if she isn’t one herself – though there’s a good chance that she is, given her various jurisdictions). One of them is very emphatically a dyke, as well as a midwife. Like me, my gods exist outside the realm of the Charmed Circle of (mainstream) socially acceptable sexualities and relationship configurations.
Not surprisingly, I’m drawn to paths like Goddess Spirituality[1] and Sacred Kink – the latter of-which I’ll be pursuing and studying more in-depth over the course of 2013. Not surprisingly, I light candles for Days of the Dead other than Hallowe’en (December 17th and November 20th, in particular). Not surprisingly, I do simple magics – like burning money-drawing incense on the altar of My Lady of Sex and Courage; like scenting candles with happy-home-promoting essential oils like clove – which draws in great sex and financial stability, yes, but which also repels jealousy (handy when you’re poly); like sigilizing my CPU with runes for prosperity, beauty, and femininity, using a mixture of coconut, cinnamon, peppermint, & ylang ylang oils – that take sex-work[2], sensation-play[3], and open relationships into account.
Not surprising because my practice needs to reflect my realities. Otherwise what’s the point? My life exists at the intersection of many kinds of queerness. Thus my practice does, too.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Emphasis on the Sisterhood, not-so-much on the biological reductionism.
 
[2] I make part of my living as a Professional Naked Girl, which includes everything from figure-modeling for animation classes to lingerie modeling for clients’ personal projects.
 
[3] Cinnamon essential oil is – along with being both a money-drawing oil and a lust-encouraging oil – dermocaustic. Peppermint – at the opposite end of the scale – causes deliciously shivery sensations on the skin (but can also draw customers to a business).

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I’m Participating in The Pagan Blog Project 2013

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P is for Practice and/or Procrastination – Pagan Blog Project 2012

I’m a bit of a perfectionist – meaning that I have a terrible fear of FAILURE (it totally gets the capital letters) and a corresponding expectation that, if I’m going to attempt something for the first time, I’m also going to succeed at it the first time (or else be a humiliated embarrassment to all who know me, unworthy of love or care, doomed to die shivering and friendless in the snow. IN THE SNOW. Have I mentioned that we’ve got about three feet of the stuff piled up outside right now? There’s a lot of snow to go around).
Anyway.
It’s kind of stupid.
I know that.
But it’s still there, and it leads me to be, well, kind of on the conservative side when it comes to Trying New Things. I don’t mean “trying new things” as in “try the kale, you don’t know you won’t like it if you don’t try it” (although when I was a kid…) I mean “try new things” as in “try astral travel” or “try trance work” or “try the Iron Pentacle meditation[1]”. And that does, to an extent, make some sense. Going walk-about without taking precautions that, presently, I don’t actually know how to take is not the wisest thing I could be doing. But it goes farther than that into a heels-dug-in aversion to Trying New Things like “Offer an ancestor plate at your next Fancy Ritual Meal” or “Ask Your Muse To Visit You In Dreams and Tell You What She Likes”. Fear of FAILURE (aka: fear of radio silence) is equally matched by a fear of success (getting an answer and then, yikes, having to actually ACT on that answer).
So here I am.
I… Have a bit of a weird relationship to Yoga. I love it for how it makes my body feel. But I also have a bit of a… thing… about it. Which I’ll talk about when I get to the Y-is-for Prompt. But there’s a thing that I used to hear (on a yoga tv show, so take it as you will) which was “It’s yoga practice, not yoga perfect”. Which is trite and slightly irritating (see above re: Thing) but is also something that I need to keep in mind about Doing Stuff in my own dirt-worshipping, hearth-guardianing(?), spell-working practice. It’s a practice. Take little steps. Take careful steps. But keep on walking.

TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

[1] I did actually try that one, a couple of years ago. I can’t say I got much out of it, but I would definitely like to try it again. I may need to ask for some help with narration and similar, though… Eugh. Audiences