Daily Archives: December 6, 2013

Y is for Yoga – Pagan Blog Project 2012

Yes, this is part of my “finish up last year’s PBP” posts. Better late than never. But let’s get into it, shall we?
Some of you may recall that, just under a year ago, I decided that I would do at least ten minutes of yoga or other physical activity (at the time, that meant taking a walk, but this has expanded to things like going for a swim or doing a living-room-dance-party as well) every day.
I have not been doing a lot of yoga lately. Being on the ground floor with the blinds open is definitely discouraging me from my morning cat-cow and downward dog poses, let me tell you. But that’s not actually what I’m writing about today.
I want to talk about “white people yoga” / “new age yoga” and how, for such a damn long time, I was seriously averse to trying yoga for the health/stretch benefits because I was watching my witchy friends turn into new-age, white-light, “yoginis”.
This is what I mean when I say “white people yoga”. It’s not the stuff they do in India, or on Tuesday nights at the local Indian community center, or whatever. It’s this other stuff. Stuff that, when it moves into spirituality territory rather than “gentle exercise” territory, really seems to be heavily linked to a dualistic worldview where “light” is “good” and “dark” is “bad” and… you know where this is going already.
That isn’t me, folks. I appreciate the stretch a lot. No question, and I’m glad I gave it a go. I even miss the classes, which get me to do so much more than I typically do on my own[1]. But the whole business of someone with a dirt-worshipping identity getting hooked on something that says “down/ground/earth is BAD”, that suggests that one should detatch from worldly things even as it (or its instructors) say that “getting back into your body” is great… That bothers me.
Okay, okay. I know that I can’t go around policing what everyone else is doing with their exercise regimens, spiritual practices, or lives in general. What I’m saying that I really didn’t want to go down that road. One that starts with something kind of like Wicca or Ecclectic Goddess Spirituality, maybe dabbles in a bit of spell-craft or herb-lore, maybe hits up a belly dance class (’cause that’s so much more empowering than stripping…), does a drop-in yoga class or two to get in touch with breath and embodiment… and then takes a sharp right turn off the woodland path and towards Deepak Chopra.
Once upon a time, I had a husband. He was not a good husband. While we were together, he was straight-up not a good person, although I hope that’s changed and I think at least some of it had to do with his own internalized ideas about what “husband” and “adult man” meant and required. He was also a New Age (ish) guy. The kind of person who bought into The Secret and all its victim-blaming bullshit. The kind of guy who thought therapy meant weakness and/or that it was a waste of time when you could just bandage over the problems with platitudes like “love is letting go of fear”[2].
When I met him, hearing that he had new-age-ish leaning was a good thing. I thought it meant he’d be open to my Pagan ways, that our worldviews wouldn’t be all that different. I couldn’t have been more wrong, and my feelings about New Age Anything are pretty heavily tinted through the hindsight of that marriage.
That’s part of why it took me so long to be willing to go to a yoga studio. Aside from the cost, and aside from my nervousness about hurting myself[3], I didn’t want to turn into someone whose elementals circles stopped at Air. I’m up in my head enough as it is, I don’t need to make it worse.
So… Yeah. I guess this hasn’t actually been all that much about Yoga, has it?
Welcome to my brain and my past.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] I’m not talking ten minutes here, I mean the difference between a 25-40 minute at-home session versus a 90-minute class where I don’t have to rely on knowing that I know what I’m doing, because there’s an instructor to make sure I’m not damaging my ligaments in the process.
[2] However true that statement may actually be, the book by that title was an endless repetition of the main thesis without any suggestions for “how to” or “what if” or “why”. Not okay.
[3] I blew my right knee out, something like 12 years ago, when I tried to do downward dog without bending my knees. I learned my lesson on that front, but I was afraid I might do something like that again, even with a real-life instructor on hand to make suggestions and correct improper/damaging posture.

Y is for Yarn – Pagan Blog Project 2013

Gosh, I might even get this done this year. O.O
If you’ve been reading this blog for very long, you’ll know that I do a lot of fibre arts. I spin, I knit, and (more recently) I’ve begun to weave. I’m currently halfway through a knitting project that uses yarn that I spun on the drop-spindle my wife made for me. I’m only halfway done, though, because I’ve had to spin more yarn (and will need to spin yet more before I can get on with the knitting) due to running out part-way through.
The project is a pair of opera-length gauntlets (fingerless mitts) that are meant to be worn over my leather gloves. I’ll be reinforcing the thumb hole with some black leather lacing once I’ve got both guantlets done, but this is what the first one looks like.

Yarn was spun by me.  Gauntlet was knitted by me.  I did not make the needles or dye the roving or raise the sheep, though.  None the less, still proud of them. :-)

Yarn was spun by me. Gauntlet was knitted by me. I did not make the needles or dye the roving or raise the sheep, though. None the less, still proud of them. 🙂

That’s all well and good, of course. And if I’m really quick (and get all my other projects done in time), I’ll be able to wear them out for Fancy Anniversary Dinner on the 20th (one day early – our friends are taking us out).
But why “yarn” for a Pagan blog post?
Well, spinning, weaving, and various other fibre arts have long (long, long, long) been associated with the Fates, and – for similar reasons – also with Witchcraft. Leaving aside the whole business of spinning someone’s life-thread out and then cutting it off, yarn (and other threads) are good for binding spells – whether we’re talking about keeping someone in a particular position (stay-away bindings where the twists and knots are meant to throw confusion at your stalker) or more symbolic bindings like, say, handfasting cords, where the ritual binding is symbolic of a bond that already exists. Likewise, repetitive tasks lend themselves well to trance work and, not to put too fine a point on it, give you a handy rope to tie yourself to your own body with. You can always follow it back if you get lost, right? (Just be careful who else is following it).
Beyond that, like anything you make yourself (yes, we’re into hand-spinning and handy-crafts now), you can add whatever ingredients you need. My opera gauntlets are just a fashion/warmth item – nothing particularly Special other than that my handspun yarn happened to match a new-to-me three-quarter-sleeve coat perfectly – but you can choose specific plant-based dyes for their magical properties (e.g.: a skein of yarn dyed deep blue using black turtle beans would be a particularly apropriate “year king” winter-themed yarn; a scarf made from yarn dyed a deep roan brown using red onion skins would be a wonderful gift to impart courage and good luck as well as warmth) or else simply opt for specific colours in order to achieve a particular end (E.G.: knit green and gold mittens – whether you spun the yarn yourself or not – to call abundance and wealth into your hands).
My goal is to weave my own family tartan, partly because I just seriously want to, and partly because it’s a way of honouring my ancestors in a really concrete way.
So there you have it.
Use spinning, knitting (go for a simple pattern or NO pattern at all), weaving, and other repetitive acts of fibre creation to help induce trances for pathwalking and similar!
Dye your (handspun or not) yarn, or unspun roving using specific plant-based dyes to add extra magical oomph to your items!
Alternatively, sellect yarn in appropriate colours to accomplish your magical ends when creating binding spells, handfasting cords, mojo bags (you could knit one!), or in other magical workings!
Use fibre-based handicrafts to connect to your ancestors either by learning the traditional arts of your culture and/or by creating the kind of stuff they would have worn or wanted (in my case: tartan. But knitting slippers for everyone using Grandma’s Favourite Pattern; or using Hungarian (or, in my case, Belgian/Northern-French) casting-on techniques because that’s where your ancestors come from; are also appropriate)!
Lots of ways to incorportate it into your practice. Give it a shot and enjoy! 😀