Monthly Archives: November 2013

X is for Xaphtig – Pagan Blog Project 2013

Okay, okay, having put it into google, I’ve realized that it’s really spelled “zaftig”, but work with me here. “X” remains a tricky one.
Zaftig means “pleasantly plump” or “curvy” and while you can look at it one way and see one of the many ways we, as a culture, try to make “fat” and “hot” mutually exclusive categories (Boo!), I can look at it another way. Zaftig (or xaphtig) is big, meaty, fat, curvy, lush, voluptuous. It’s the shape that – much to my irriation (see above re: body-shaming) – gets termed “Goddess Sized” on the sarong racks at KG. It’s the shape that I am as a healthy, happy, adult.
It’s the shape I was when I learned to belly dance. It’s the shape I am now that I’ve been modeling for half a decade. It’s the shape I became when the woman I eventually married made me feel safe and wanted and beautiful.
So much of Goddess Spirituality is rooted in undoing body-shame. All kinds of body shame. Culturally inflicted shame around menstruation and (if you look at the roots of it) women’s sexuality in general. Body-policing and (typically) fat-shaming. Social expectations about being “too much woman” (if you’re a queer cis femme, a poly-type, a sexworker, a mother of “too many” children, a trans woman who routinely gets read as cis[1], a straight chick who likes sex) or “not woman enough” (if you’re butch, an out dyke, a trans woman of any sexual orientation who doesn’t routinely get read as cis, if you can’t or don’t want to, have kids).
So here. Have a look at this. I’d have liked to see women like Isis King and Calpernia Addams included in this picture from Wirligigagogo, I think it echos some of the aimed-for body-positivity of “thou art goddess”.

Click the image to go to the original post by Whirligigagogo, where you’ll find even more “We Are Beautiful” posters and pics. ๐Ÿ™‚

Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] See Julia Serano’s essay “Skirt Chasers” for more on the idea of trans women as “deceptive”.


So, I read Under the Tuscan Sun earlier this year, half expecting it to be like the movie. It’s not, though I can see how the story told in the movie (romantic comedy) was teased out of the threads of the original memoire by Frances Mayes.
I love both (my secret’s out!) for different reasons, but I’m not actually going to do a Compare And Contrast today.
Instead, I’m going to talk about Panatone.
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Home Ec: It’s a Learning Curve, Not a Joke Course in Grade Nine

The snow has come for real.
After a relatively balmy (3 degrees Celceus) that saw a lot of the pre-existing dusting of snow sublimate off the ground in a hurry, some time around 10pm (give or take) a new snow started falling. In reality, it wasn’t a “big storm” at all. Just a steady fall of snow with a moderate wind. Gentle enough that someone could ride a unicycle (I saw the photographic evidence, but didn’t see it with my own eyes) in the midst of it at 4:30am, down the street from me.
Totally manageable, although a complete mess (it being rush-hour now) if you haven’t put your snow tires on yet.
So here I am, chilling on my couch, waiting for Batch 1 of today’s candle-making extravaganza[1] to harden enough for me to pop them out of their molds and start Batch 2, enjoying the view from my window.
It’s very “winter wonderland”, I don’t mind telling you.
Today will be a day of scrambling, at least once 2pm rolls around. The Rainbow Youth Forum is tomorrow, so I’ve got set-up to handle this evening, plus sorting out how I’m going to schlep my info-fair stuff (sandwich board, table cloth, plus small heap of information pamphlets) to the venue (across town) through the edging-towards-a-foot-of snow.
For now, however, I’m cruising the blogosphere, reading old (but frequently sometimes new-to-me) posts on subjects near to my heart.
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Earrings for Pancreatic Cancer Canada

Hey, folks.
So, for those of you (most of you, I suspect) who don’t know: My dad is one of the many folks who’s died of pancreatic cancer. He got diagnosed in August of 1999, and died the following February. Which is about a month later than we were expecting, once the diagnosis happened. The disease works pretty damn fast, is what I’m saying.
Anyway, it was almost 14 years ago, so I’m not deep in the grieving process at this point and, honestly, I know he turns up in spirit-form every so often (if not more frequently) to check up on me, so I know he’s not really “gone-gone”. It’s just that his body isn’t a physical one anymore.
One of my aunt’s brothers-in-law (I never knew him) also died from pancreatic cancer, about five or six years later. I wound up doing a CD for the funeral (three pieces: “Angel” and “I will Remember You” by Sarah McLachlin, plus an accapella rendition of “Amazing Grace”) so that I could sing at it long-distance.
What I’m saying is that my family is linked to pancreatic cancer in a fairly personal way.
And so now my mom works for Pancreatic Cancer Canada. A pretty decent place, by all accounts.
Anyway. Part of what PanCan Canada does is they raise money for (specifically pancreatic) cancer research. They do this in a bunch of ways, but one of them is through their “shop purple” store, which is part online shop[1] and part pop-up store (they bring their stuff to events, that sort of thing). The idea is that you buy the Purple Stuff (thus getting something concrete in exchange for your cancer research donation) and then, when people go “Where did you get that awesome ________________?” you can use it as a jumping off point to do some educational outreach and general awareness-raising about pancreatic cancer[2].
So, to get to the rather me-me-me point of this post: As you all know, I make jewelry.
I recently made a bunch of jewelry for Pancreatic Cancer Canada to sell in their shop. I do get paid for the pieces, but I’m donating my labour on these. According to Mom, each piece will go up on the site at a different time. Right now, the one they have up is this one:

Key to the Cure Piece A Seven pairs available, but that's it. 8mm amethyst beads + surgical steel hooks and silver-tone key-charms and findings. 1.75" long, not including hooks. $20/pair.

Key to the Cure
Piece A
Seven pairs available, but that’s it.
8mm amethyst beads + surgical steel hooks and silver-tone findings.
1.75″ long, not including hooks. $20/pair.
Click on the picture to go to their shop.

As it says in the caption:
8mm amethyst beads + surgical steel hooks and silver-tone key-charms and findings.
1.75″ long, not including hooks. $20/pair.
Available from Pancreatic Cancer Canada.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] It’s not exactly an online shop. You can see what they have on the webpage, and then you have phone in what you’d like to order. I’m pretty sure it’s a project of theirs to update the “store” section so that you can just click and do an automatic check-out or similar. I hope that this happens, soon. ๐Ÿ˜‰
[2] That’s one of the many, many things that I loathe about the whole “pink washing” thing. Stuff gets done or sold or bought ostensibly because it’s “raising awareness” about breast cancer but… It’s really not. There’s no coversation-starter built into, say, the pre-sliced mushrooms at the grocery store that come in the pink plastic tray rather than the blue one. At least my mom’s org does stuff to go along with what they’re selling. (Like their Purple Lights awareness campaign, that involved getting various municipal landmarks across Canada to light up in purple, complete with press-conferences, in conjuntion with selling purple LED outdoor fairy lights to people in their shop). Anyway. It’s a bit of a thing. Don’t mind me.

Every Day Stuff and… My Bread “Recipe”. :-D

I’m listing to an old Modern Witch podcast, with a couple of candles burning (all parafin – I’m trying to use up my parafin candles… again. Even though I’m rather loving the option of candle light any-old-time that I want it. I’ve used up the wicks in a huge candle center-piece… thing (it was a house-warming gift back in 2004, at Mabon) which involved glitter and candles shaped like apples, and… it’s just this huge lump of wax now, still with the glitter, and with, like, fake flowers stuck in it… And I want to melt it down and make new candles – possibly by using espresso mugs to make container-candles – and gift them to my mom (most likely) when Secular Xmas[1] rolls around.
There’s snow on the ground now, and it’s dark by 5pm. Winter has arrived.
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Chocolate-Chip Coconut Brownies (Vegan and Gluten-Free!)

Hey, folks,
So if you’ve been hanging around this blog for very long, you know that I’m a great big dyke. Which, if you’re familiar with dykedom, means that I need to know how to make (or where to buy) vegan and gluten-free goodies for any event I want to host, even if I’m not vegan or celiac myself. And, yeah, as someone who likes to (and needs to) cook on the cheap? That can be a bit tricky, just because gluten-free flour is a lot more expensive than wheat flour. But you can still make it work.
I’m hosting one of Poly and Power Salons today and, in addition to cranberry-almond chocolate-chip cookies (yum!) that I made the other day… (I’ll post that recipe in a bit)… I’m also making a batch of brownies.
The recipe is loosely based on the “Decadent Brownies” recipe from The Garden of Vegan, but I went in a slightly different direction from there.
Here’s the recipe.
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X is for XXX – Pagan Blog Project 2013

And so we come to X. As an Anglophone who doesn’t have much to do (if anything) with Aztec, Mayan, Chinese (maybe) or Greek deities, the X prompt gives me pause. So much so that it apparently stopped my in my tracks last year.
But this year, I think I can manage at least one entry on the subject of “X” or, in this case, “XXX”. Much to my surprise, I have a goddess of sexworkers in my pantheon.
People who know me, or who read my other blog, maybe won’t think this is all that surprising, but back when I sent out my all-call for deities (this was just over ten years ago, if I think about it), I was a staunch anti-porn feminist and it was only much later – like “when I got divorced” later – that I realized that I’d done something Funny with my Goddess Job Descriptions.
Earth Goddess Job Description: Hearth, home, abundance, growth, parenting, food, cooking, shelter, pregnancy.
Sun Goddess Job Description: Passion, dance, wealth, money, careers, courage, overt sexuality.
I had split my understanding of “abundance” and, in my case, “the purpose of my ovaries” into two parts (or three parts, if you bring Maia – with her queerness, creativity, peer-to-peer attachment bonds, and midwifery – into the equation). One of them had (and has) a lot in her jurisdiction that is very much the socially-approved-of realm of The Wife, even though (to my knowledge) Mattaer has never had a spouse of any kind. (I might be wrong about that. She’s just never mentioned anyone to me, is all). The other was… all the stuff I was afraid of, that I felt were things that happened *to* me, that would be done *to* me, rather than *by* me.
A year after that, I was in a romantic relationship with a woman who was involved in various areas of the sex industry, and it was only when she had a really bad night[1] one New Year’s Eve that I realized that one of my Goddesses – with her courage, her sexuality, and her career/money work – was exactly the deity to be praying to under those circumstances.
Much, much later, after that relationship had ended, I got asked to perform for the AGM of the local sexworkers rights organization, and I wrote the following poem for that set.
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Natural Dyeing Take 3: Black Beans

Nervous about messing with mordants (what is “alum”? Can I use pressed garlic for this?) but would LOVE to be able to create colours like this. ๐Ÿ˜€
Wonder what happens if you use kidney beans? Do you get a rusty-red colour?

The ways of the whorl

Having seen some pretty amazing pictures on Ravelry, where a whole thread is devoted to the colour variations obtained with black beans, I have wanted to experiment with those for a few months now. So I was particularly eager to try them out in our dyeing experiments in France.

Unsure about how difficult they would be to find in France, we bought our black beans in Britain before travelling over. I bought a pack in Waitrose which were called black turle beans instead of just black beans, but they were the only ones I could find. Eddie later went into an international food shop and found some labelled simply black beans. We decided to try both out at the same time, but in separate containers in case they didnโ€™t yield the same resultsโ€ฆ

And fast enough it became clear that the two different packs of beans were giving soaking waterโ€ฆ

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Full Moon – Frost Moon Crests

Hey, all!
So Frost Moon is full today and, because Nature abhors assumptions, it’s 13C out and drizzling rather than frosty.
I am totally okay with this, though, since it means I can stroll around in my light leather jacket rather than my heavy leather coat (very handy for the HOWL At The Moon leatherdyke event happening this evening). We are still in The Autumn of Bare Branches, for sure. ๐Ÿ˜‰
I’ve been working (sporadically) at my loom, and knitting up a storm. Have yet to try my hand at my single-flyer spinning wheel, but I’ll get to it. ๐Ÿ˜‰
I talked, at the beginning of Frost Moon, about how the timing of the lunar change (right around the Year Hinge at Samhain) pushes us into a new season on a couple of levels.
These days, I find myself craving social activity, but in the sense of intimate at-home (or at least close to home[2]) gatherings rather than enormous parties (er… see footnote [2]). Another way to put it is that now is the season of the Queen of Pentacles (north, earth) rather than the Queen of Wands (south, fire). Abundant and welcoming, yes, but “drawing in” rather than “expansive”. It’s possible that the Moon’s shift from Taurus into Gemini is fueling (or increasing the intensity of) this feeling, with its combination of hearth-focus (Taurus) and gregarious communication (Gemini), but I’ve been feeling it for weeks now, so I’m not sure it’s the only thing going on.
My Little Pagan Date-Planner suggests that now (Moon in Gemini) is a great time for “weaving with words” (talk, listen, write, sing, laugh, and tell stories) and otherwise getting expressive in various ways, but a really bad time to start New Activities[3] that will need regular and long-term cultivation.
I’m inclined to agree.
As the cold (theoretically) and the dark take over, it’s better to wind down, get calm and cozy, and allow yourself space for impromptu short-term projects and spontaneous (or not-so-spontaneous) gatherings and get-togethers that will nurture your soul.
My wife and I are trying to do just that. Paying attention to what we have booked, deliberately scheduling (er… and then rescheduling) some “us time”, and working hard to keep from over-extending ourselves (ahahahaha). We can try, right?
Wish us luck. ๐Ÿ™‚
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] Made a super-quick (bulky yarn, big needles, twisted stitching) for my sister’s birthday; made a “yarn bowl” that I’ll be felting in the washing mashine (and then in the oven) out of rough-spun bulky yarn; teaching myself to cable-knit and… crochet?; still working on my wife’s fishnet-stitch shawl; and am nearly done a pair of arm-warmers for her that go with the hat I made for her a while back.
[2] Says the woman who just drove to a different city and back in one evening for Kink 4. ๐Ÿ˜›
[3] How does Nanowrimo fit into that?

W is for Women’s Work – Pagan Blog Project 2013

Two Witches Live Here
One Has a Kind Heart
The Other Can See Your Memories

The above is a sign that does not hang on our door… but could.
Right. So, moving right along. Not all that long ago, I wrote a post wherein I wondered aloud if all the Traditional Women’s Work stuff that my wife and I do is feeding my Lady Of The Hearth in some way.
We do a LOT of Things at our place.
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