Monthly Archives: November 2014

W is for Winter – Pagan Blog Project 2014

Wow… We’re really getting down to the bottom of the alphabet, aren’t we?
I figured that “Winter” was a good one to go with, seeing as we’re getting our first Snow That Stays (most likely – it’s a wet snow, but it’s piling up with the apparent intention of sticking around) today, and there has been ice on the puddles the past couple of nights.
So. Winter.
 
I’ve talked a little bit about how my particular path seems to have strains of land-guardianship built into it. What does that mean, when the ground is frozen solid, when it’s asleep? What does it mean when you live in a house that burns fossil fuels to keep warm?
 
It means things like sawdust or sand instead of salt on the front steps to cut the ice; suplementary-heating with beeswax and terracotta/cast-iron rather than by turning up the thermostat. It means knowing how and when to turn the compost so that it steams all through the winter, and hanging bird feeders of seeds and suet for the sparrows and crows (and squirrels – I know).
I’m sure you can imagine just how hypocritical I feel having written that, only to learn that my lovely wife has brought us home a box of rock salt for the front steps. Yes, we’re using it. So it goes.
 
The nights are getting longer (approaching longest quite quickly, really), and the temperatures, for all that they’re still fluctuating, are staying below freezing for longer.
Good Witching comes into play with regards to things like donating warm socks, winter boots, mitts, coats, hats, scarves, and other items to drop-ins and things like the Snow Suit Fund, as well as filling the food banks’ pantries with hearty, protein-rich foods that can be cooked in one pot on a hot plate (think: tinned pre-fab stew, but also mixes of rice & red lentils – or pot-barley and black lentils, or “grains and beans” dry soup mixes – along with tinned tomatoes, cartons of pre-grated parmesan cheese, tinned fruit, and herb/spice mixes).
 
Now is an excellent time to avoid going outside invite broke friends over for casual meals, so that they don’t have to worry so much about feeding themselves now that they’ve got heating bills coming due (it’s a good way to start incorporating your Summer/Autumn preserves into meals, too[1]). Likewise, inviting lonely/stressed friends over for some no-pressure company and hot tea can offer comfort on multiple levels.
 
Winter is, for many people, a time to pick up knitting projects – I admit I’m at the point where I’ll knit through the summer, too, but this is a new development for me – and getting people together to work on crafty projects (with or without charitable-donation intentions) is a lovely way to pass the time, look up from your phone once in a while, and connect with people you care about.
 
Happy Winter. Happy Witching.
 
 
TTFN,
Amazon.
 
 
[1] For example, I put an entire 1-cup jar of chunky asparagus relish into a stir-fry along with some left-over braised pork (the last of last week’s Fabulous Friday Dinner), a small head of nappa, half a red onion, three cloves of garlic, and some diced carrots. We had it over fusilli pasta, and it was delish. Gave just the right kick of sour-bright to the meal.

THE PATH OF THE PRIESTESS: PEACE? WAR? HEALING? TRANSMUTATION? LOVE? ALCHEMY?

Reblogging for future reference as much as anything else. Looking forward to seeing how Dr Balasubramaniam’s path of Priestesshood relates and compares to our home definition of “Good Witching”. (I suspect there will be much in common).

The Sky Priestess: Dr Bairavee

thanjavur bairavee

As Priestesses – what is it that we do? Do we hold someone’s hand and listen to them pour their hearts out? Do we just ‘talk straight’, and tell someone what they really need to hear? Do we heal? Do we inspire? Do we defend? Do we terrify? Do we help out behind the scenes or jump straight into the heart of things?

Yes…  Yes… and Yes ….

And a lot more besides …

Being a Priestess does not require a religion, or even any understanding of faith (as paradoxical as that sounds). Some Priestesses use a Title, and some others do not even recognize the construct – doesn’t stop them from being one though 😉 And both approaches are just as valid.

And just to be clear – whilst I tend to address my posts to all genders, this one has a strong emphasis on the Feminine. The Priest’s Path…

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Natural dye tutorial: blue yarn from black beans!

Reblogging this so that I can find it later.
Garden plans currently include the possibility of growing “Zorro” black dry beans specifically for dying purposes, though they won’t be a priority for me. 😉

knitbyahenshop

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to post, but at least I have a really awesome fiber dye experiment to share! As you can see from above, we got several lovely shades of blue —a difficult color to achieve —in a process that took about 4 days from start to finish. A little background: now that I have a spinning wheel(!) and some wool, I’ve been wanting to learn about natural dyeing. SInce blue is my favorite color, I gravitated toward information about natural blue dyes. Turns out there aren’t that many (indigo and woad are the main ones) and they sounded like a lot of work for a first time dying project. Then I came across web posts on black beans as a blue dye. My favorites were blog posts at waysofthewhorl and brambleberriesintherain, which then led me to the discovery that there is a

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Young #Ottawa #Woman #Missing – Please Help in Any Way that You Can

There’s another young woman missing in/from Ottawa, Ontario.
This message came signal-boosed on facebook and I’m passing it along:
 
Casandra (I have no last name to go on, but her mother is Michelle Simoneau Turner, so they may share a last name) has been missing since November 17th, 2014, and was last seen at Colonel By high school.
She answers to the name Cassie.
She has a slight build. 5’7″ and about 100lbs.
Here hair is long on one side – dyed black, but with blond roots – and is shaved on the other.

She looks caucasian. She has one piercing in her left ear (and probably a matching one in her right, though I can’t tell from the pictures). I do not know her age, but would guess mid-teens.
Going by the pictures her mom provided, she tends towards black clothes with spikes and skulls.
 
I realize that not everyone who disappears wants to be found. But I would dearly like to know that this kid is safe and warm, whether or not she’s home.
 
Her mother is asking that, if you have any information, to please contact her at: 613-324-5978
 

 

 

 
Please spread the word and help if you can – mundane and magical.
Thank you.

Roasted Garlic-Balsamic Tomato Sauce 2014 (Recipe)

Start with:
10-12 roma tomatoes (frozen, whole)
23 slicing tomatoes (frozen, whole)
1L tomato skins and cores from other tomato-canning projects (frozen)
0.25C balsamic vinegar
0.25C white wine vinegar
0.25C granulated sugar
0.25C V8 juice (OPTIONAL)
 
Render the above into a cooked mess in the slow-cooker on “HIGH” – this actually took a couple of days, and I kept having to top up the number of tomatoes because my slow-cooker couldn’t take all of them at once. I would add them at a rate of five or six tomatoes at a time on top of what was already in there. If you have a larger slow-cooker, it will make this easier.
 
While the tomatoes cook down, dice:
1 long, red Sheppard Pepper (sweet pepper)
Half a red onion
3 bulbs of garlic (just cut the tops off these – much easier)
 
Set the diced veggies on a cookie sheet
Drizzle with grape-seed (or olive) oil
Sprinkle with salt
Roast for 30 minutes at 350F
 
Add the roasted veggies to the tomatoes in the slow cooker (make sure to squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skin and discard the skins)
Mix until well-incorporated (I was still adding frozen whole tomatoes at this point, so it took a while to get to the next steps).
 
Purree it all with the immersion blender
Strain through a seive – squish as much through as possible using, say, the back of a spoon
Return the sauce to the slow-cooker and set heat to “HIGH” again
Add:
0.25C balsamic vinegar
0.25C red wine vinegar
3 cloves raw garlic, minced
 
Optional:
1 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp each (dried): basil, oregano, rosemary, savoury
 
Allow to heat through and start bubbling
 
Sterilize your jars in a boiling water bath
NOTE: This should land you with about two litres of sauce, so choose your canning jars appropriately.
 
When the sauce is bubbling happily and everything is well-stirred together and smelling AMAZING, ladle it into the half-cup jars.
 
Cap and then process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
 
Remove from the water bath and allow to cool.
(Listen for the “plunk” as each jar seals – this is important as it will mean it’s safe to store at room temperature. If a jar doesn’t seal, either stick it in the fridge and use it within the week, or dump it back in the pot, reheat it, re-wash the jar, and try again).
 
 
I got 15 half-cup jars of tomato sauce (having not added the tamari or the dried herbs – I forgot, alas, but they made excellent additions last year, so I would recommend them to you) from this batch of sauce that I’ve been rendering down for at least four days at this point.
Because of how “head room” works, if I’d been using pint jars instead of half-cup jars, I might have only got “six cups” of sauce, rather than the seven-and-a-half that I got doing it this way. None the less, that’s fifteen meals worth of tomato sauce that I’ve put up, and I’m quite happy about it. 🙂
 
I’ve still got nine half-cup jars left, enough for me to make a bunch of Cranberry Curd – thus finishing off my 2014 canning for the year – without having to collect yet more jars to get that done. 🙂
It will be delicious.
 
Eventually, I get on here to give the full run-down of Canapalooza 2014, but for now please enjoy the recipe. Next year, I’ll try to remember the seasonings. 😉
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

W is for Womanhood – Pagan Blog Project 2014

Okay.
So many years ago I tried to do a religious studies degree on Goddess Spirituality as an alternative paradigm for viewing and understanding embodied womanhood as powerful and holy (as opposed to icky, messy, gross, less-than – as defined by The Patriarchy).
Except that (a) I was looking specifically at Blood Rites and the imagery of Maiden-Mother-Crone, and (b) I hadn’t heard the word “cis” yet, and had no fucking clue how to talk about this stuff without somehow excluding trans women from the category “woman”.
I wound up stopping my degree part-way through for a lot of reasons, but one of them was that I didn’t think I could ethically talk about womanhood in the context of a religion that has bodily autonomy and self-definition at its heart while limiting that word to cis women.
 
Now here I am, almost ten years after the fact, wanting to talk about Maiden-Mother-Crone and how… it just doesn’t work. Not really. Not even for cis girls. Not even for cis girls who choose to be parents.
 
I remember, years ago, taking part in a Goddess Group where we all got to slot ourselves into one of those three categories and then talk about why we’d put ourselves where we did. And it was… sad-funny to see how many of us made our choices based, not on where we felt we fit, but on where we *didn’t* want to get *put*. The women who’d chosen “Mother” had chosen it because they didn’t want to be “put on the Crone Shelf” and ignored because they were (or looked) “old”. The women – self included – who’d chosen “Maiden” were doing so predominantly in resistance to social pressures to start raising babies. The women who’d chosen “Crone” did it for the same reason – because they’d spent so many years, often in (lieu of) childhood, taking care of other people’s kids (frequently their numerous younger siblings), and they no-longer wanted to be defined in any way by the role of “child-care-giver”.
I’ve watched so many women – with and without kids – trying to twist the goddess-category of “Mother” to mean something closer to “career woman” or “manifester of creativity” or something because – duh – being defined by our capacity to make – or not make – babies is not actually all that empowering when it’s used as justification for treating our bodies as civic/public property[1].
 
Many, many years ago I came across a book called the Women’s Wheel of Life.
I have a copy on my shelf, because it influenced me a LOT.
It is deeply rooted in cis-based biological reductionism. Which sucks. BUT. It’s also the first (though YAY not the only!) goddess spirituality piece that expands on and changes up (to some extent) the limited options offerred by the Maiden-Mother-Crone paradigm.
 

Spring: Daughter – Maiden – BloodSister
Summer: Lover – Mother – Midwife
Autumn: Amazon – Matriarch – Priestess
Winter: Sorceress – Crone – DarkMother


 
As you can see, it ain’t perfect. “Blood Sister” could just as easily have been called “Comrade” or “Chosen Sister”. “Dark Mother” could have been “Guardian” or “Crossroads Keeper”. But it’s a start, and I’ve been glad of it for a very long time. (It being my 35th birthday today, I would put it at about… seventeen years?)
 
That said, my lovely wife once asked me – around the time that Z Budapest was choking on her own feet at Pantheacon – why it has to be about bodies in the first place.
And it’s a valid question. (And the answer is: Because we *are* our bodies. This is not a meat suit, this is *us*. We can’t choose how we’re made, or how the rest of the world is going to treat us because of it, but we can find ways, make ways, to make ourselves at home in our own skins. For some of us that’s a hell of a lot easier than for others of us. But it’s there, and it matters. You are not a thing for other people to make decisions about. Neither am I. We are ours, and we are holy. Full stop. No question).
None the less, and in spite of that answer, I do agree that an alternative paradigm (or three, or four) would be damn good to have available. Handily, they’re available!
An alternative that I (just now) came across, called the “Woman Breadwinner’s Wheel of Life”[2], offers the following:
 

Spring: Visionary
Summer: Adventurer
Autumn: Receiver
Winter: Wise Woman


 
While, again, it’s not perfect – I’d have liked to see creativity/creation alongside cultivation as the Summer bridge between inspiration and completion – it allows for a much wider range of activities, paths, and fulfillments than a model based on what we’re “supposed” to do with the reproductive organs someone else is presuming that we have.
I think this alternative paradigm allows for high-femme aunties (like me and like my wife), empire-building career-artists; raging grannies & student-activists (possibly the same people, I do realize); trans dyke mamas; sexworking professors; and all the rest of us.
 
The goddess in me greets the goddess in you. You are all my sisters. ❤
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Forced sterilization of indiginous &/or disabled cis women… "just 'cause", apparently; forced (manditory – until barely a couple of years ago, in my province – if you want to get an F on your ID) sterilization trans women; infringement and harrassment over access to birth control and abortion services for cis women; stealing children from reserves and poor, frequently racialized neighbourhoods coupled with opinions voiced by (usually white, usually cis-dude) people in power that poor women should just not have kids (see: "welfare queen"); implying that women who have "too much" and/or "the wrong kind of" sex (poly-kinky chicks AND sexworking chicks AND queer/dyke chicks) are unfit mothers and/or shouldn't be around children "just in general"; street harrassment of every possibly itteration; "Mommy Wars" and uninvited touching/discussion/advising of pregnant women (and, one suspects, people presumed to be women given their pregnancies); pressure for (cis) women over "a certain age" to have their reproductive (and sex-drive-inducing) organs removed ("cleaned out" – actual quote) now that they're not likely to result in further humans; non-consensual surgeries on intersex bodies to make them conform more to what "women" are "supposed" to look like "down there" as prescribed by a cisnormative, heteronormative, system that prioritizes the presumed desires and preferences of a het-cis male gaze; etc, etc, etc. 😛
 
[2] As someone who bakes the bread, but who doesn't earn a lot of money; as someone who is offspring-free but who holds the cultivation of my own chosen family in high priority; and as someone who doesn't see "career woman" and "parent woman" as mutually exclusive… I'm not thrilled with the name for this one. But I can work with it.

Full (and New) Moon – Ancestor/Shadow Moon (Begins and) Crests

So, I’ve done it again. Skipped the new-moon post in favour of getting the moving done and completely failed to make New Moon Pizza on top of that. (A friend of ours has just gifted us with a fancy-schmancy pizza stone, mind you, so whatever I make for Long Nights Moon – probably something involving fairly-recently-made tomato sauce, as it happens – will be baked on that little number).
We are officially and completely moved out of the old apartment – keys and (empty) laundry card handed in at the office, all the paperwork signed, all inspections passed, and so on. Though we’re not completely moved IN (all boxes emptied, everything with a place to be in) to the new place just yet.
We’re getting there.
Expecting company for this weekend is definitely lending a sense of urgency to that effort, which is a helpful thing, I don’t mind telling you.
As of yesterday evening, I’ve canned all the pumpkin butter – nine-and-a-half cups worth – and started the pear butter stewing in the crock pot. I will probably have to get myself another flat of canning jars, though I kind of wish I could get half a dozen one-cup jars for the pear butter on top of a dozen half-cup jars for the impending tomato sauce.
I still haven’t planted the bulbs, and I’ll have to get that done before the ground freezes, but I’ve been scattering wild-crafted (and “wild-crafted” – as in yoinked from people’s gone-to-seed gardens) flower seeds – common mallow, milk weed, dark pink yarrow, and queen anne’s lace – in the front yard. My hope is that they’ll take root, come spring, and I’ll have a yard full of pink and white seed-flowers plus blue and purple bulbs to enjoy. 🙂
 
Strictly speaking, this lunar cycle is “Ancestor Moon” – the cycle that crosses Samhain – It’s been a rough couple of weeks and I’m inclined to call it Shadow Moon this year. Missing my beloved dead, sure, but also old relationships weighing on me – the mess of my first marriage, and how he hurt me a lot, did a lot of indisputably bad things, but that I hurt him, too; the relationship with my first girlfriend where we both cause damage, even though neither of us wanted to. Also old fears bubbling to the surface (again), eating me alive (again). I feel a little bit like – as they say in Fairyland Below – an Imminant Catabasos Event is in the works for me, and I have no idea if that means that 2015 (and surrounding months) is going to be my Year of the Shadows, or if that means that the entirety of my next seven-year cycle (which starts the day after tomorrow, when I turn 35) is going to be focussed on diving into the depths and swimming, lungs burning, back to the surface with a fistfull of precious, previously-discounted muck to make myself whole again.
There will be tarot readings done on this front, you can be sure. O.O
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

V is for Veil (and Victuals) – Pagan Blog Project 2014

So I’m writing this a good half-hour into a “house warming party” to-which I’m fairly certain nobody corporeal is going to be coming.
We’ve had five seven trick-or-treaters (more chocolate for us, from my perspective) – one of-whom asked me why I’m so tall (I told her that I come by it naturally and that all my ancestors are tall – not 100% true, but close enough for an answer); and the gods – as they do – have taken their due. I’m nursing a burn on my right arm from the oven, where I burned it taking the beef braise out of the oven.
Braised beef + various veggies + a little blue cheese for garnish (and also because my Dad loves that stuff – he died almost 15 years ago, so I got it for the ancestor plate).
 
Ah, yes, the ancestor plate.
I spent two hours carving pumpkins – three faces, a half-pumpkin dish (one of the pumpkins was going pretty soft-rotten, unfortunately, so it was just cut and cleaned and used as a dish – holding a hurricane cup of Dragon’s Blood incense – instead of being carved), a fouth featured a carved candle for the beloved dead (with a heart on one side, and skull on the other), and the last carved with the message “Welcome Home”. I think they work.
I burned mhyrr on my altar and lit all the candles, as well (first time I lit all the candles in the house, so: Timely). And I made an ancestor plate.
It’s just a little saucer with some of tonight’s dinner on it, a (tiny) glass of the red wine beside it, and a tea-light as well. I’ll be adding chocolate to the plate later (Hallowe’en candly – pity it isn’t Neilson’s, but they own Cadbury at this point, so it works out a little bit), in part for dessert and in part for my Gram (who was a chocolate fiend) and in part for my Neilson ancestors because: clearly. 🙂
 
While I was getting the dinner going, I could hear my Papa (life-long dairy farmer) talking about “keeping the soy bean men in business” by buying margarine as well as butter. My Dad slid into my dreams last night, just briefly, and he’s not been the only one. I know a few folks who’ve lost family/phamily/tribe in the past 24 hours. The veil, as they say, is thin.
 
I spent a good chunk of this morning finishing up business at the old apartment – and it is, indeed, Past Tense at this point. Finishing Business included the usual laundry and vacuuming and making sure we hadn’t left anything in a closet somewhere, but it also included walking through the place, burning a cone of “purification” incense (a blend of some sort – it does the trck), calling back all the good things that we’d filled our then-home with, and quietly chanting “Out with the old, In with the new” as I went.
It worked.
 
I would have liked to have filled our new house with chatty friends, laughter, and somewhat boisterous celebration tonight – got in about $200 worth of food & drink (mostly food, just to be clear) with that in mind, in fact – but I admit to being a little grateful for the peace, for the quiet and the chance to sit in the calm semi-darkness, altar blazing, seasonally-appropriate music playing (everything from SJ Tucker’s “Come to the Labyrinth”, Heather Dale’s “Call the Names”, and Tori Amos’s “Happy Phantom”; to The Tea Party’s “Requiem”, The Flirtations’ “The Ancestors’ Breath”, and Type O Negative’s “All Hallow’s Eve”; to Florence and the Machine’s “Only if for a Night”, Loreena McKennit’s “All Soul’s Night”, and Leonard Cohen’s “Who By Fire”), while I write this post and my lovely wife sews horse blankets in the other room.
 
Eventually, we’ll open a bottle of champagne and toast our new home formally, but for now I’m enjoying the quiet. Maybe I’ll get the Brie out next.
 
Here’s to my ancestors, and hers. Here’s to our gods – big and small, familiar and well-known and dear. Here’s to the kids on our doorstep – non-“rainbow-family” kids who got to see a cis girl and a trans girl married and being “normal” in their neighbourhood – and the pumpkins, too, which are part of the harvest and one of-which I carved to have eyes that smile like mine and my dad’s do.
Here’s to being fully moved into the House of Goat – Gods, Ancestors, and All.