Monthly Archives: October 2013

U is for Ubiquitous – Pagan Blog Project 2013

So, apparently Witches are the New Vampires on prime-time tv.
Who knew?
What to make of this development?
Look. I can yack about how magic is the pervue and bastion of the downtrodden and opressed. Because it is. And, these days, a lot of (middle-class, educated, white-collar) folks who might normally scoff up their sleeves at things like spell-craft have maybe been feeling the pinch of economic uncertainty for a good little while. That can make witchcraft look a lot more like “how to survive a recession” than “hee hee, pointy hats” or whatever.
But I’m not entirely sure that’s what this is about. It could just as easily be The Networks going “It’s been 15-20 years since Charmed was on the air. Time to hit the next cohort of would-be rebelious teens!” or whatever it is that people say when they’re planning what airs when.
I admit, it’s been a while since I paide much attention to TV.
None the less, it’s Hallowe’en – I’ve I’ve had a shoulder roast slow-cooking with squash, cranberries, and a little onion since yesterday, with a pumpkin pie and mashed sweet potatoes with cream cheese yet to make, I don’t mind telling you – and the figure of The Witch, with her broom and her pointy hat and, frequently, her hooked nose and missing teeth[1], is everywhere.
But that’s not the “ubiquitous” I’m thinking of. Not right now, with the rain bucketing down and Dance in the Graveyards[2] playing on repeat in the background. Instead, I’m thinking of how I’m not Dressing Up this year. It’s not that I couldn’t – gods know I’d like an excuse to wear that Barbarella costume again – it’s just that… I live my life in such a way[3] that I don’t need the cultural release-valve that is Hallowe’en[4]. Magic, ritual, wonder, mystery, and all of my ancestors… they’re always here. Ubiquitous. Just part of my life. 🙂
So, tonight, rather than getting all Gothed up and hitting a club, I’m lighting a room full of candles and serving good food to everyone I love.
In tonight’s meals:
Rosemary, thyme, and bay (in with the veggies and pulled pork); Cinnamon and nutmeg (in the pie): Clairvoyance, blessings, death, invocation, consecration, psychic awareness, and love.
Happy Hallowe’en and Merry Samhain.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] Which comes predominantly from anti-semitism, but also (I think) from a loathing for women who are old and poor.
[2] This is such a beautiful, joyful, hopeful piece about how our beloved dead are always with us. It’s been making me cry all day, but in a good way. 🙂 The link goes to a youtube video that includes the lyrics, and I do recommend having a look.
[3] And don’t think I don’t know that I’m damn lucky to be able to do so. ❤
[4] All that "sexy everything" stuff is… weirdly legit in the sense that we live in a culture that tends to fear, and therefore punish, autonomous feminine sexuality in specific but also sex-for-fun. So maybe it's not all that shocking that our cultural "backwards day" is also one where we pull out the overt displays of sexuality.
…Or it's just skeezy marketing. But it crosses my mind about this every year.

U is for Unguent – Pagan Blog Project 2013

And, while I’m playing catch-up, let’s opt for something simple. “Unguent” is another word for “Soothing Ointment”. There are lots of people (although The Witch of Forest Grove is the one who comes most immediately to mind) who make flying ointments and other salves that have physical effects beyond smoothing out the dry skin on your heals.
I don’t go quite that far.
But I do make magical salves.
I make massage balms with specific intentions built into them – like the foot balm that contains both anti-fungal properties and happens to have some “come to me boy” effects infused into it as well[1]; or the peppermint-lavender mix that calms and purifies on an energetic level as well as a physical one.
Mostly, I use a cocoa-butter base with a mix of beeswax (not vegan, sorry – though I could probably substitute coconut oil if I really felt the need) and olive or grapeseed oil to help with consistency, and then hit them with essential oils and energetics ’til they’re cooked, then serve them up in half-cup mason jars… ’cause that’s just the way I roll, apparently. 🙂
I’ve been known to use these, once or twice, as dressing oils for candles as well, since their solid-at-room-temperature state makes them easy to apply without adding too much or having a random bowl of oil left over after you’ve started your spell (anyone have suggestions for what to do with these when they do happen?). But, for the most part, I just use them on my body – or make them for other people to use in the same way.
I rather enjoy them. 😉
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] Why yes, I do know a lot of people who work in the fetish industry. Why do you ask?

Further Adventures in Felting Soap! This Time In Pictures! :-D

Okay. So I’ve been spending a LOT of time at the fibre store of late.
I know.
Basically, I’ve come to the conclusion that I Make Crafts because it’s a creative addiction and I don’t think I could actually stop Making Stuff[1] even if I wanted to, and boy-howdy do I ever not want to.
So that’s where I’m at.
And the latest thing I’ve been making – or making stuff with – is felt. I made myself a felted bracelet for the first time yesterday (and am part-way through a second one, though I may have to start that one over again… we shall see…), am trying my hand at another pair of felted earrings, and have been doing more work on felted soaps.
See, I’ve talked before about how I can use felting to (a) hold scent, and (b) make my soaps more beautiful and eye-catching and, er, easier to tell apart on sight (I don’t add dyes to my soaps, so they tent to be a uniform shade of butter-cream, no matter what they smell like).
I’ve felted a batch of Squeaky Clean (unscented) soap using – what else – undyed merino roving (a mix of natural off-white, dun, and charcoal… more or less), and a bunch of Pomander (sweet orange, vanilla, clove) wrapped in two shades of orange corriedale, plus a couple of bars of Winter Solstice (peppermint juniper cinnamon) in mostly turquoise and white corriedale plus some whisps of spruce and cranberry thrown in as well.
So here’s My Process (so far) in pictures:

Pomander soap wrapped in corriedale roving, and ready to go into its boiling water bath.

Pomander soap wrapped in corriedale roving, and ready to go into its boiling water bath.

Squeaky Clean soap felted with natural-coloured (undyed, unbleached) merino.  I wrapped six bars in a washing-machine "delicates bag" rather than cooking another stocking.  We'll see how it goes.

Squeaky Clean soap felted with natural-coloured (undyed, unbleached) merino. I wrapped six bars in a washing-machine “delicates bag” rather than cooking another stocking. We’ll see how it goes.

Squeaky Clean soap felted with natural coloured (undyed, unbleached) merino, and sitting on the draining rack for Stage One of drying.  Sometimes I think I should be sitting these in an oven on low heat or something to make sure everything dries evenly.

Squeaky Clean soap felted with natural-coloured (undyed, unbleached) merino, and sitting on the draining rack for Stage One of drying. Sometimes I think I should be sitting these in an oven on low heat or something to make sure everything dries evenly.

Winter Solstice soap felted in a combination of ice blue and ( snow) white corriedale with added whisps of cranberry and spruce corriedale for accent colours.  These two have been drying since yesterday. (I may need to go back to the Use  A Stocking method, since it seems to get the felt to, well, felt a little bit better.  It's a learning process).

Winter Solstice soap felted in a combination of ice blue and ( snow) white corriedale with added whisps of cranberry and spruce corriedale for accent colours. These two have been drying since yesterday.
(I may need to go back to the Use A Stocking method, since it seems to get the felt to, well, felt a little bit better. It’s a learning process).

So there you have it.
What I’ve been up to today. (Stay tuned – once I’ve got it beaded, I’ll post pictures of my felted bracelet — it’s a rather pretty asymetrical piece that – possibly because of the abalone-shell flowers I’ve already sewn to it, or possibly because of its slightly ruffled upper/outer edge – makes me think of Russian Kokoshniki. My next one – maybe – is going to be a cuff. Or it’s going to be a similar ruffly thing, but done more like one of these.
Wish me luck! 😀
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] Whether “stuff” is poetry or soap, fiction or candles, handspun yarn or fancy dinners, felted bracelets or fruit butter, knitted shawls or yoghurt, beeswax candles or beaded jewelry, home-grown squash or improvized harmonies or even colaborative art through my work as a model… I feel most happy, and most myself, when I’m Making Stuff. 😉

T is for Trepedation (and Trust – or lack there-of) – Pagan Blog Project 2013

So I’ve been dragging my heels a little on this one, partly out of embarrasment. I had originally figured that I’d be writing a 2013 version of T is for Trance, having (in theory) actually done trance work – or at least trance practice – a whole bunch by the time October rolled around.
Instead, I haven’t done much trance work (practice) at all in… er… about six months. Basically since I just about made myself sick while trying to Go Deep (or at least deeper than surface-level) at Queering Power. (Hint: Don’t do this if you suck at shielding!)
And the reason for that basically boils down to fear.
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Full Moon – Blood/Ancestor Moon Crests (with BONUS Lunar Eclipse)

In keeping with how things have been going, blog-wise, of late: This post should have gone up four days ago. bear with me.
I know. There’s a whole Thing about how you’re not supposed to lament about your lack of posting on your blog because the people who don’t care will now be aware of it, an the people who do care will just be glad that you’re posting again. None the less, the whole business of trying to keep a blog committment when All The Things (all the time-sensitive, externally-imposed-dead-line-involving, income-generating Things) are piling up around you and you still have to spend 24 hours in a given 10 day period in transit and are foregoing The Computer for the duration of the holiday weekend… Anyway. Suffice to say, things are feeling a little overwhelming around here, and are likely to remain that way for at least another week.
At least I got a new batch of candles made. 🙂
Now that Thanksgiving is passed, and the big Leatherdyke Phamily Reunion has happened for another year, I’m in, well, recovery mode. But beyond that, I’m trying to keep all my plates spinning at once, and not let any of them fall. Getting sick (even though this happens every year – eventually we’ll get sensible and book an extra day at the hotel for Recovery Time) isn’t helping.
I can’t say that I’m getting much from the Full Moon energy that’s floating around, and I’ve missed the eclipse (useful for boosting any magic you’re getting up to) entirely.
Looking down the road, towards the tail end of waining Ancestor Moon, we’ve got Samhain coming up. I’m contemplating doing a dinner – roast a(nother) turkey, have some of my pagan friends over for food, light up the altars, and ask people to bring pictures of their dead relatives with them.
Or not! Maybe I’ll just do something tiny at home.
I asked, in my New Moon post for this lunar cycle, which things I – or you, dear reader – is/are prepared to let die, to turn under for the season (or for good), to allow to go fallow or dormant as we get through the coming Winter.
As it stands, I’m looking at Nanowrimo, knowing that – poetry feature having been and gone two days ago – it’s time to dig back into The Novel and see what I can do with it. My writing goal is a little more than the 1667 words per day required to hit the 50K mark in thirty days, but it’s still low. 2000 words (typed – I figure, if I’m actually doing this as a Nano participant, I’d be better off relying on my typing speed. But we shall see) per day will get me 2/3 of the way through The Novel, based on a projected/anticipated final first-draft word count. Here’s hoping.
But that’s not letting something die.
Seriously. I feel both overwhelmed and under-active. I guess the more accurate term is “disorganized”. Umpteen different things to deal with, but not a really good understanding of exactly what I need to be doing between now and, say, November 3rd, when Frost Moon kicks off. I make lists of long-term projects, and then lose the lists. I make lists of short-term goals (like “to do today”) and only get half-way through them because of all the other stuff that didn’t make it onto the list – laundry, dinner, picking up books-on-hold from the library – that had to get done as well.
Right now, my main over-arching goal is to get my house back in order.
Unpack from Harvest. Put away my poetry print-outs (somewhere…?), shelve the books (new and old) that I own, so that I only have library books out and about. Clear the coffee table and the side tables. Put away all (ALL – do I even have room for all?) the health-outreach brochures (urgh…). Put away the unused canning jars. Clear the shelf on the hutch so that it’s no-longer a collection of random, un-housed kitchen detritus (predominantly tupperware, by the looks of things).
And that’s not even close to all of it. :-\
Anyway. My Blood/Ancestor moon has, thus far, been rushed, harried, and “busy” rather than “productive” (or at least “busy” rather than “as productive as I could have been”). Disappointing. Hopefully I can turn things around during the next ten days or so and bring this cycle to a positive and accomplished end. 🙂
Wish me luck!
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Chocolate Pumpkin Coffee Cake Recipe

So I’ve got pumpkin.
I’m making pumpkin butter, but I wanted to make some use-it-now goodies as well, so I decided to make a coffee-cake type dessert. I had a look a three different recipes, and then made one up based on the general idea of what I’d seen.
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be HAPPIER in your HOME

Some ideas worth remembering.

Found this list on and was inspired! Hopefully it will inspire you t00!

1. Make your bed.

The book The Happiness Project, explains that this three minute task is one of the simplest habits you can adopt to positively impact your happiness.

2. Bring every room back to “ready.”

I learned this trick from Marilyn Paul’s clever book, It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys. It’s a known fact: Clutter causes stress; order creates a haven from it. This mood-boosting routine is simple: Take about three minutes to bring each room back to “ready” before you depart it. (Unless you have a toddler, or a partner who likes to simulate earthquakes, three minutes should be sufficient.)

3. Display sentimental items around your home.

One reason that experiences (and memories of those experiences) make us happier than material things is due to the entire…

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New Moon – Blood / Ancestor Moon Begins

I am writing this on the night of the full moon (a lunar eclipse, no less). I am, as I often am these days, Way Late.
So where have I been?
On the actual night of the New Moon, I was in Toronto, having just arrived for an all-staff meeting for my day job (it’s work-from-home, but the “mother ship” is in TO). There were indiginous folks drumming in Allen Gardens. I think it was something related to the mural of Thirteen Moon Lessons (Ojibwe… I think?) that’s there as well, but I don’t actually know.
Ancestor Moon is the moon that falls across Samhain/Feast of the Ancestors/Hallowe’en for me, but it’s also called Blood Moon because this is around about the time of year that people like Barb do their animal harvest[1].
The first half of this moon cycle has been stupid-busy. Full of wonderful things – Unholy Harvest being the biggy – but also just flat-out running to make sure everything got done (or done enough) on time for me to head out of town.
Which, of course, it didn’t. I had nothing to read for the Harvest open mic, my Barbarella dress (harness?) was a bit less beaded than I had originally planned (though that wasn’t a bad thing). I’m still unsteady on the poetry set I’m performing this Sunday. Eek. O.O And I’m waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay behind on my PBP posts for the month. Yuck. :-\
But things are moving along.
So. Really quickly, because I’d like to do the Full Moon post on time (hoy…), what to expect from Blood/Ancestor Moon?
This year, Blood/Ancestor moon begins in Pluto – apt for the Moon that covers Samhain, I think – and pushes the buttons of Big Changes. What’s flipping your lid or bowling you over right now? What’s coming over the horizon and freaking you out or lighting you up? (Maybe both?)
On my plate, I’ve got (or had, given the time of this writing) a workshop to give and a poetry show (still coming up) to put on, both of which give me nerves something fierce. I’m worried about how many people will come to the show, and how many will be into what I’m performing, and whether or not my poetry is actually any good. (Some of it is, I know that. But some of it… Heck if I know…)
Beyond that, let’s have a look-see.
Blood/Ancestor Moon *is* connected with death. Duh. But, this year at least, there’s also a lunar eclipse coming up that – like most harvest-related events – calls us to have a look back at what we planted in the Spring. Progress reports and check-ins are coming due.
Something I think we need to ask ourselves at this time is: What are we willing to let die?
Autumn is a time for planting bulbs, sure, and a time for starting new, hearth-based projects (like, say, a new knitting pattern, or redecorating that spare room) that don’t require a lot of outdoor work. But it’s also a time of dying down, culling, and pulling back.
Think about self-care. Think about the scale of your projects and what needs to be slowed or weeded in order to keep going. Think about what can be cut to maintain the strength of the whole.
Are there any projects that you need to put down – temporarily? Indefinitley? Permanently? Consider them and, if you need to, do your grieving.
I just turned down a nomination to be a co-chair for a local service-providers’ group that I’m part of. It’s not that I couldn’t have said Yes, it’s that saying Yes would have meant one more plate to keep spinning when I’m already feeling distracted and spread too thin. So I said No.
In another year, I might be able to say Yes. But not right now.
I’ve also come to the conclusion that I’m not likely to pick up Voices of Venus again. At least not in a time that can be measured in mere months. That was a bit of a blow, realizing that, and a bit of a disappointment. But it’s also a bit of a relief. “End of an era” as they say.
And there is some grief there. Some disappointment in myself for not sticking it out better or longer. But I’m just so glad it’s done.
What else?
Oh, right. Ancestors. This moon cycle touches on family. In Canada, this is the time of year when the “Festival Season” kicks off and time gets a little bit away from us. Thanksgiving – or in my case, Harvest – is a time of gratitude, but it’s also a Gathering Of The Tribe. For some of us, that means heading to the ancestral home-place, hanging with the relatives, making a huge feast of traditional, seasonal (or not-so-seasonal) foods, and stuffing ourselves silly. For others – such as myself – it means gathering with a different Tribe, getting vulnerable, opening up our hearts and minds, and having one hell of a kinky party[2].
From this point on, until at least the beginning of January, and possibly all the way to March (whether that’s Queering Power or Ostara) when the balance of light swings past its center again. Who is your family? Who will you honour during the days of the dead? Do you know your lineage?[3]
So that was my speedy shot at a very, very late New Moon post.
Stay tuned. 😉
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] I like the way Barbara Kingsolver talks about “harvesting turkeys” or other livestock because, as she says, the word “harvest” implies intent, planning, and respect for those whom you’re sending to die (or straight-up killing, depending on what the local laws allow you to do).
[2] It was awesome, thanks for asking. 😉
[3] That’s the opening line from Kathryn Payne’s “Whores and Bitches Who Sleep With Women” in Brazen Femme: Queering Femininity, for those who are interested in such things. 🙂

White Bean Soup (Recipe)

Okay, my ducks, I know I have a tonne of catching up to do – T is for Trance (2013 version), plus a New Moon post and, by the end of this week, a “U is for” PBP13 post as well – but I’ve got enough on my plate this week that I’m saving the Deep Thoughts posts for (urk) after Thanks Giving weekend.
Bear with me.
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On Madness, Hallucinations, Being Wrong, Magic, and Belief

The whole “being wrong” (or “being bonkers”, for that matter) thing is one that I worry about when it comes to trance work and Listening and such-like. The question (the fear) of “What if I’m just messing with my own head” and, beyond that,”What if I’m *not* messing with my own head, but the Person who I *think* I’m talking to isn’t *actually* who I’m talking to” are big ones for me. So I thought I’d reblog this, because it addresses those things a little bit.

Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Sex, Gods, and Rock Stars

People frequently ask me, “How come I can’t perceive spirits/energy/Gods/ghosts?” Others want validation that what they sense – whether it be visual, audio, tactile, or even smell and touch – is “real” in some way. Some see the way I move in the world, where I take for granted that the things I perceive, including things that aren’t easily sensed by our everyday senses, and beg me to teach them how.

You (yes, you) are already seeing things that aren’t there. You’re already perceiving things that your intelligence can’t easily explain. The problem is, it’s happening without your conscious will for it to happen. The things I’m thinking of happen whether you want them to or not.

Let’s start with the most basic. Every person has a “blind spot”. This is a place where your optic nerve passes though the retina, which prevents visual processing. But it’s not like everywhere…

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