Monthly Archives: March 2014

F is for Freeze and Thaw (Spring Euqinox is Upon Us) – Pagan Blog Project 2014

My ritual group is meeting (at my place, this time ’round, which is handy) for our Spring Equinox ritual tonight. (I’m making almond cookies and Cleaning All The Things when I get home from my day-job this evening). Right now – even as I write this – I’m trying to come up with a variation on Starhawk’s “Tree Meditation” that I can addapt into a “fountain meditation” for thawing creative and emotional blocks and generally giving one’s personal Energy a good spring cleaning.
My mind keeps wandering to spinning and yarn and knitting, and I’m not sure why – it could very easily just be that I have new roving to spin and new yarn with-which to continue the work on my shawl. No idea. Thoughts? Beuler?
Spring Equinox, in this time and place, is a time of freezing and thawing, a time of edges between one season and the next[1]. It’s a liminal time in a more noticeable way than Autumn Equinox is (though that, too, stands on the cusp between Goat-Tail Summer and The Autumn of Pumpkins). I walk to my temp job on uneasy feet, skating along iced-up roads in the rubber boots I’ll need to keep my feet dry on the way home. Precipitation fluctuates between snow, sleet, freezing drizzle, and chilly rain, depending on what the wind is like.
One of my group-mates has talked about how rebirth is a fairly significant theme for her at this time of here. Between that and the water stuff, I’m put in mind of a song (or song-fragment?) I co-wrote ages and ages ago.
Walk me to the river
to the place where it runs fast and deep
Let the rive take me
and turn me in my sleep
Wash over me, sweet water,
and give me life once more
Birth me from your depths again
to wake upon your shore

…Which is all well and good, except that another of our group-mates nearly drowned, once upon a time, and I don’t really want to depict a water-based rebirth when someone in our group knows what it’s really like (hint: Not pretty, not peaceful, not safe).
ANYWAY. So I’ve got to poke at this a little bit more. (I feel better having a good idea of what we want to do of an evening, and am feeling woefully underprepared at this stage of the game… with people turning up in all of three hours, no less. O.O)
But that’s where things are at right now. I gather it’s turned balmy and beautiful outside over the course of the work day. That bodes well for my walk home.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] That’s the thing. If you’ve ever read Palimpsest you will know about the Four Winters – bare branches, snow, ice, and mud – that come before Spring arrives. We have the same thing in Ottawa, most years, except that we have two springs – the spring of mud and the spring of crocuses. By the time the lilacs come out and the apples bloom, we’re already into Summer.

Full Moon – Sugar/Thawing Moon Crests

Hey there!
So the full moon was yesterday, but bear with me.
Today I sent out two resumes for half-time (20 hrs/week) jobs with arts organizations (or arts organiation, I should say – they split their old Managing Artistic Director position into two jobs because it was too much for one person to do in the time allotted. I’ve applied for both, and we’ll see what happens).
So much for not focussing on specifics yet, eh?
So, while tonight will involve wandering out and doing some karaoke, this afternoon is going to involve a litte bit of candle magic and the re-building of a honey-pot.
My honey-pot has been feeling a little disorganized for a while, like I’ve sent it instructions that it can’t follow or that are running counter to where I want to go. I feel like I should be opening it up, de-Energizing it, saying my thank-yous, and composting the contents before creating something new in the same jar.
Ingredients will most likely include: Thyme, Pecans, amber, agar-agar, basil, nutmeg, and allspice. Probably.
Who knows, maybe that thyme will help the Queering Power discussion go over well, too. 🙂
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

F is for Fetish – Pagan Blog Project 2014

So, Lee Harrington has a podcast about leather and spirituality (yeah, yeah, that totally narrows it down), in which he says “It’s called a fetish for a reason” with regards to the power/symbolism with-which we imbue certain fabrics (leather, rubber, as just a couple of examples).
I tend not to wear my leather skirts to Any Old Event. I wear them almost-exclusively to kink-related events (with some added queer events thrown in because Representing). Part of this is, honestly, because my leather clothes are not that comfortable. They’re fine, as clothes go, but they tend towards pencil skirts and corsetry, which means they’re not the best for every-day Getting Things Done wear.
None the less, the idea of clothing as Objects of Power and Place, is both (a) a thing that gets me thinking, and (b) something that has resonated with me since my mid/late teens.
See, back when I was dressing my most gothically – complete with black lipstick and velvet everything, even on my most casual days – I still had what I thought of as “Regalia”. I think we all did. Our very best dress which – like leather garments, particularly gifted ones, in the Leather Community – were on par with full formal wear. When I dressed in that stuff, did my makeup all the way, added the extra, more cumbersome accessories (the finger armour, the rings connected to bracelets by delicate chains, the collars, the ear cuffs, the pony-falls and veils), I felt like I was putting on Full Ceremonial Dress: Regalia.
And – possibly because my leather clothes aren’t the easiest to move in, but also because I’m investigating Sacred Kink and Leather Woo more and more these days – I find myself wanting some sort of Ceremonial Garb. Something elegant and comfortable (and warm, but not oppressively so) that I can toss on to Formalize whatever I happen to be wearing (or not wearing) to this Ritual or that Leather Event.
I am making myself a shawl. Knitting it myself and, in a lot of cases (the shawl is, essentially, going to be a bunch of sewn-together scarves) hand-spinning the yarn as well. And, when I thing about this shawl, I see myself at Unholy Harvest. I see it fringed with bone beads and stone rings, soaking up all the sex-blood-desire energy – and also the home-phamily-tribe energy – of that time-outside-of-time world. I think about the way the colours I’ve chosen to spin together for my colourful stripes (a) are reminiscent of the bi pride flag, and (b) unexpectedly correspond to my own kinks (see: Hanky Code) in remarkably accurate ways: Purple. Maroon. Fuschia. Dark blue. Black. I didn’t pick them for those reasons – I picked them because they look good on me – but they work out that way anyway.
I think about the fact that wool – like leather – was once alive, came off the back of someone else, and that matters to me, that’s part of what makes it magical, makes it holy. I think about the fact that, as the creator of this object (on a number of different levels), I will be imbuing it was a lot of my own energy – and that effects the mindset that I try to hold while I’m working on it. Spin joyfully. Knit with love and certainty. That kind of thing. (Like making bread).
I think it’s that – the mix of magico-religious materials and the imbuing of an object with power and place – that make me think of this shawl as “kinky attire”. It’s “fetish” wear in the religious sense, and that’s carrying over (in multiple directions) to “fetish” wear in the bdsm/leather sense of the word.
Anyway. Thinky thoughts.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

E is for Energy-Centres and Energy-Manipulation – Pagan Blog Project 2014

This post follows pretty hard on the heels of “last week’s” (ten minute’s ago’s) post on Ecstasy, and it’s somewhat related. I’ve been playing with energy points, trying to turn my chakra points (meaning the seven really big ones) into something closer to tentacles (or maybe roots?), energetic limbs that can reach out and reach in to act as points of connection between me and another source.
I’m kind of a funny one, maybe, since it’s my root chakra, my red chakra, that lights up in sexual situations. I’m not sure what that means beyond (a) I associate sex with the colour red, and (b) Maslov’s Hierarchy of Needs puts sex on the same survival level as food, shelter, and other “stability” markers. My sacral/belly chakra, my orange chakra, is one that I don’t pay a tonne of attention to beyond its relationship with my own (and, potentially, someone else’s, not that I’m planning on getting pregnant mind you) umbilical cord and how I can use that as a tether to the energy of the Earth (which I’m just as likely, if not moreso, to do through the soles of my feet)[1].
I’m more likely to engage my third eye chakra (allegedly all about psychica abilities and Traveling and such-like) when I’m trying to boost stuff that’s more typically associated with my throat chakra (music, public speaking, self-expression, etc).
…I’m not sure if this is particularly normal or not (it definitely doesn’t line up with the correspondences that I’ve found online).
Anyway. What I’m getting at here is that I’m trying to teach myself to actively engage those energy centres in appropriate situations, but I’m also trying to gage whether or not its having any effect (on me or on anyone else). I… think I’m managing to do something? :-\
We shall see. I figure, if I keep working at it, I’ll get the hang of things eventually.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] It occurs to me that, given its associations with creativity (fire in the belly, as much as in the head, y’know?) it might do me some good to feed that fire a little in my own life. Just a thought. I wonder if I can come up with some kind of hook-up between my belly chakra and my throat chakra where they feed into each other and amp each other up… (Thoughts? Suggestions?)

E is for Ecstsasy – Pagan Blog Project 2014

So I’ve been reading Radical Ecstasy (off and on) for a little while now, as well as paging through Barbara Carellas’ Ecstasy is Neccessary. In part, I’m trying to sort out what “ecstasy” means, as a term, when applied to sex.
When I use it, I’m talking in part about the “rush” that comes when you and anyone you’re involved with are really hitting your flow, sexually. I’m talking in part about when muscle movement takes over and… the engine catches, if you will. But I’m also talking about sex as magic – that whole “S/M = Sacred Mystery” kind of thing.
It’s funny. Because I tend to top, even vanilla-wise, I tend to think of “sexual ecstasy” as being something that I facilitate in order for my partner (in theory) to experience it. the few times I’ve gone flying, have been outliers – the exception rather than the rule – a “domme space” where I feel like I can contain the whole universe (or, at the very least, a whole galaxy). Bigger than my physical body by a significant margin. And I don’t know whether that feeling is “ecstasy” or if it’s something else.
I miss that feeling of flight. I’ve written a little bit about it over here, but it’s not just a sexual thing. It comes from singing, too. I wonder if I’m not confusing/conflaiting ecstasy with “flow state” – that point where the challenge of what you’re doing is equal to your level of skill, so you can be fully immersed in the activity rather than either (a) getting bored or (b) having to direct most of your focus towards Not Screwing Up and, thus, can’t really get into any kind of a Zone.
So what does this have to do with Paganism?
Partly, it’s the idea of ecstatic states being trance states, and my interest in being able to step in and out of trance when it’s appropriate to do so. I… suspect (’cause I’m not totally sure) that when I do that energy-vampire thing where I’m on a crowded dance floor and can just go for hours because I’m cycling the free-flowing energy through my body and out again, that I’m both (a) in, or near, a trance state, but also (b) I’m approaching something ecstatic.
I don’t reeeeeeeeally have a clue on that front, but it seems like that might be the case, like they might be connected in some way.
The other part is that I’m wondering if drawing on/in ecstatic experience would be a way to attain more Meaning in ritual (for example) or deeper connection in sex/scene experiences. I’d like to know how to get myself there, and how to get someone else into that zone as well. A handy tool in my ritualist’s/top’s toolkit, so to speak.
So here I am, chasing that feeling and wondering if I can find my way to it again or at all.

Cherry Triflesque (not actually a recipe, but close)

It’s Friday night. The altars are lit[1], the wine is chilling (it’s a Muscat/Muscado, so it’ll be sweet), and I’m blogging about dinner.
Go figure.
See, as-you-know-bob, I’m kind of a preserving nut. I don’t go nearly as hard core as, say, Erica over at NW Edible Life (link goes to a recent post about maintaining a working larder/pantry), but I forage and I glean and I freeze and I can and, invariably, I wind up with a lot of stuff left over once spring starts suggesting that it might be turning up[2].
Now, I’m getting better at both (a) using my preserves, and (b) making preserves that I will actually use. But I still tend to over do it on things where, well, where the main ingredient is free. In 2013, that was apple butter and serviceberry jam, and that’s likely to be the case in 2014 as well.
Now, apple butter I can use up. It makes a great binder in pancakes (and other cakes) and can lend a velvetty texture to whatever baked good you’re inclined to turn your hand to. But the jam is… I’m not sure what to do with that.
On top of those, I’ve got a dozen jars of fruit butter (not a problem – I won’t be making more until August/September, so that’s fine), a variety of chutneys, and a small heap of things like Ground Cherry Curd… as well as, this year, a heap of frozen fruit.
I spend months avoiding using my frozen berries, because I was, well, I was essentially hoarding them. I didn’t want to run out. But now I’m looking at July – which is not that far away, and hoping for another glut of serviceberries[3], and I’m trying to find ways of using up All The Fruit.
So, the other night, I stewed some of my frozen cherries with a little sugar (and a little, totally unnecessary, water) and threw together some sweet tea biscuits, and between the two of them and some plain yoghurt, make a pretty kick-ass simple dessert, if I do say so myself.

The Reddest Stollen Cherries...

The Reddest Stollen Cherries…

Above are the cherries – not even close to all of them, I’ve still got a bunch in the freezer – stewing in their syrup. Tastes like candy. Seriously. O.O
The finished product.  The perfect mix of sweet and tart. :-D

The finished product. The perfect mix of sweet and tart. 😀

And this is the finished product. The tea biscuits are based off the “Stratford Hall Biscuits” recipe in Laurel’s Kitchen, though I tweaked it a little and sweetened it up just a bit. I’m calling this one “Cherry Triflesque”, but it could just as easily be one of Nigella Lawson’s “deconstructed trifles”, if I wanted to get fancy.
So there you have it. It being Friday, and therefore it being Fabulous Friday Dinner tonight (which is not *that* fabulous, but will be very tasty), I think I will whip up something similar using serviceberry jam and ground cherry curd, and we’ll just see how things go. 🙂
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] One of them is topped up with lard, fyi. I’ve got a tonne of the stuff – or, well, about 12 cups, I suppose is more accurate – lying around, half in the freezer and half in the fridge, and I’ve started using it for cooking in lieu of butter (for main course stuff – it’s not rendered gently enough to not taste like pork, and that was the idea), but it’s also slated to become much-less-expensive-than-beeswax candle fuel and, to that end, I’ve (finally) started topping up my altar candles with other forms of fat. You know how that goes – you burn your tealight, and it extinguishes itself in some weird way, leaving half the wick-tab exposed, but also a heap of unburned wax around the edges? I’m using lard as a bit of a stop gap to feed the flame (and, thus, conserve the wick), while the remaining beeswax heats up enough to feed it the rest of the way. We’ll see how it works. 😉
[2] Which is now. It’s early March, and we’re still technically in “late winter” by local standards. But the sun is actually warm, and the wind isn’t quite so bitter, and it was (briefly) above freezing today. I was wondering what to name this lunar cycle, since “sugar moon” seems like a distant dream, and I’m thinking “thawing moon” might be just about apt. We’ll see what the weather does, and I’ll let you know.
[3] Note to Self: This year? Double the ammount that you freeze, and make half as much jam. Seriously. Maybe less.

D is for Discernment (or something) – Pagan Blog Project 2014

Before I get into this, I want to toss up a link to The Witch of Forest Grove’s post, The Song of the Land, about bioregionalism as religious/spiritual path. It’s awesome, go and read it.
But that’s not what I’m going to (try and) talk about today. I actually want to talk a little about whether or not I see myself as a spirit worker. ‘Cause I don’t. Not really. I want to learn the techniques, I think it would be a help in terms of doing ritual stuff for the human communities I’m involved with (if I’m ever asked to do such a thing, which is an entirely different story). The question of “Why do I want to learn X” came up for me a while ago, and I figured that I’d write it down. Yes, I interact with my own deities, ancestors, and – to some extent – The Neighbours. but I’m not looking (at this point, anyways) to do freelance work for The Gods whom I don’t know. But I do want to be available to my community (or communities). More minister, less priest? Or something? I keep eye-balling the “become a secular wedding officiant” course (for umpteen hundred dollars) to the same ends that I’m working on how to run energy more effectively and intentionally.
We’ll see where this goes. 🙂
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

New Moon – Sugar Moon Begins

New moon was, technically, yesterday. And it feels too early to really call it “Sugar Moon”, when there are frostbite warnings in effect for the next few nights and I don’t expect the sap to be running for another couple of weeks. And yet… I don’t know what else to call it. “Buds Getting Noticeable Moon” is probably my best bet (and it just doesn’t have much of a ring to it, I’m afraid).
Sugar Moon – which starts in Gemini – is a time of communication… sort of. It’s a time of chatting and yacking, of scribbling and jotting things down, of bouncing from idea to idea to idea, of stirring up excitement though not necessarily focus – it’s not time for that yet. Not exactly. Like starting seeds under a grow light – which a lot of folks in this biogregion are doing in early March – now is a time for hope, for getting many balls rolling, for seeing what germinates before thinning out the seedlings and deciding what to focus on for the longer haul.
Maybe it’s weird, then, to be putting my focus on anything right now. But I am. VERSeFest is coming up at the end of the month, and so is Queering Power (at-which I and mine will be facilitating a discussion on multi-level power dynamics). I’m trying to get the rest of the way through a contract job. I’m trying to come up with a “five year plan” that uses “SMART Goals”, for goodness sake, and I really don’t know what I’m doing there. And yet, here I am. What will the coming spring bring? Good things, I hope. But I have no idea just yet.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Waldorf-Esque Salad – Recipe!

So. Fabulous Friday Dinner, aside from being about two hours later than I’d originally planned (yeah…), worked out super well. 🙂 The roast pork (as in: done in the oven, rather than in a slow cooker, but using half a one-cup-jar of rhubarbicue sauce and a scant 2-3 milimetres of sparkling boozy apple cider in the bottom of the roasting pan) was… a little dry, but tasty as all get-out and we have heaps of left-overs for, say, roast pork sandwiches featuring more of said chutney (and/or apple butter) and hot mustard. The salad that I made to go with was… pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. Crunchy and bright, with a really great blend of flavours. As such, I’m recording it here so that I can hunt it up again later on:
Waldorf-Esque Winter Salad
2 C red cabbage, diced into smaller-than-bite-sized chunks
2″ of leek (light green bit, between “leaf” and “root”), sliced into match sticks
1/4 C walnut crumbles
1/4 C dried cranberries
2 cortland apples, diced
pinch salt
1/2 C plain yoghurt
1 tsp each: maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, grainy mustard
1/4 tsp each: nutmeg, black pepper
1) Combine the diced cabbage, sliced leek, crumbled walnuts, and dried cranberries in a large bowl
2) Toss until well-combined
3) Sprinkle the salt over the contents of the bowl
4) Add the diced apples
5) In a small measuring cup or other receptical, blend the yoghurt, maple syrup, vinegar, mustard, nutmeg, and pepper (I just used a fork) until well-mixed
6) Pour the yoghurt mixture over the cabbage mixture
7) Toss/mix until the salad is uniformly coated with the dressing
8) Serve immediately OR allow to sit (covered – I used a plate) in the fridge for 1-24 hours before serving.
9) Enjoy! 😀
This salad is delicious, if I do say so myself, and it relies on seasonally available ingredients for the most part – the maple syrup and the apples came from Quebec, the leeks, the cider vinegar, and the yoghurt were from Ontario (though I don’t know where in Ontario, beyond, probably, The GTA), and the cabbage is, well, “Product of Canada” can mean a lot of things, unfortunately, but it’s one of the least value-added products going, so I’m treating it as fairly Okay from the perspective of a loosely defined “local food” diet. The dried cranberries were probably imported. We have a cranberry bog south of town, but I don’t think they’re suppliers for No Name (it’s possible that came from the bogs in Whitby, but it’s just as likely that they came from south of the border in, like, Wisconsin or something) and I’m very sure the walnuts came from California. The spices, likewise, came from father afield.
If you want to turn it into a vegetarian meal, I suggest throwing in half a cup of chilled, pre-cooked grain (barley, kasha, and/or quinoa would all work quite, QUITE nicely here) to the mixture before adding the dressing.
You can use crumbled pecans, chestnuts, heartnuts, or even pumpkin seeds (I suspect) in lieu of the walnuts, if you prefer, and can use mayo (or vegan mayo or maybe soy-ghurt[1]) in lieu of the yoghurt, if you like, too.
It’s just as tasty (and loses none of its crunchiness!) on day two, and I’m strongly inclined to whip up a second batch for work lunches over the next couple of days! 😀
Meliad. 😀
[1] Soy-ghurt, in my experience, doesn’t have the tart bite of various dairy-based yoghurts, but ymmv. You may want to up the cider vinegar content and/or throw in some nutirional yeast if you want to go this route to make it vegan.