Monthly Archives: September 2021

Full Moon – Apple Moon Crests / Autumn Equinox 2021

A close-up of a whole apple pie is overlaid with a line-drawing of a slice of pie on a plate (lower right corner), and the words “Autumn Equinox: Happy Harvest Home” overlays the image in dark brown script.

Full moon is tomorrow, and Autumn Equinox is this coming Wednesday, but this post is going up today. I have my latest batch of Weird Fruit Curd just barely starting its waterbath on the stove. This year it’s a mix of peaches, a lemon a friend left at our place, and a bunch of sea buckthorn berries that I found in the freezer section of the grocery store (they are bitter, not sour, and not citrusy at all BUT they are exactly right for making fruit curd, so I’m going for it).

Some of the fruit curd, when it’s done, is going to be mixed into a soul cake – think cheesecake, but a 2000+ year old recipe – and used for offerings on both my home altar and the Autumn stone I’ll be visiting on Wednesday.

Right now, my altar candles are lit – I just did Ritual with the folks down in DC – and I’ve put a cup of chai with a little milk in it up there as an offering. I’ve been burning Prosperity incense today, because it seemed appropriate for the “I am enough, I have enough” Work that I’m doing this Equinox.

I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about a job I applied for, and then took, because it was the only one available at the time, and which I’ve been regretting pretty much ever since, wanting to pull the plug and get out and waffling like heck because – among other reasons – while I don’t need it, and it’s making my life harder from the perspectives of creativity and anxiety, it’s also making my life much, much easier, financially. And that’s one of the factors I’m grappling with as I consider making my exit.

My girlfriend walked me through a somatic meditation the other day – I swear, this is relevant – that asked me to feel in my body the sense of “being cared for”. Not the stories I tell myself about what that does or doesn’t look like, or is/isn’t allowed to look like, but the literal, physical sensation of “being cared for”.

This was actually pretty easy to do. As someone with an anxiety disorder, and attachment anxiety on top of that, but who also has a couple of really solid, secure attachments in her life, the sensation of “when that shuts up and I feel safe” is actually familiar (amazing!) and something I can call up. Warmth, a cessation of the jittery trembling that is part of my baseline most of the time and its replacement with stillness, with calm. My shoulders coming down from my ears. My breath coming more easily, and more deeply, in and out of my lungs. A slowness. A palpable relief.

And that feeling came – not 100% easily, but it came – when I called.

What I wasn’t expecting was what came with it.

What came with it was the sensation/vision of a long, warm, tealight flame glowing steadily in my solar plexus. Golden light. Heat and calm and focus.

Now, you all know that I do a lot of Chakra Stuff. So I knew what I was looking at. The experience was a reminder that resilience isn’t something that is internally generated, that humans are animals whose strength is in community, whose power is in our connections, and our resilience comes from being cared for by others when we need the support, and by caring for other when they need it.

For a long time, my prayer has been “Let me have enough to share”.

And I’m finding that I draw a distinction between “share” and “give away”. Probably this comes from something like having grown up in this culture where we has so much stuff that we not only have more Things than we personally need, but that some of us don’t even know anybody personally who does need them. Where dropping things off at Value Village is less a kindness to someone else and more a way of avoiding putting still-useful things directly into a landfill with your own hands.

For me, “share” means “Clothing Swap” and “Free Box”. It means “Call that friend who sometimes run out of groceries and offer them the extra produce from the CSA”. It means “Community Fridge” and, sometimes, “Buy Nothing Group”. It means giving your extras to people you know – or at least people you might know because you live in the same neighbourhood or at the same intersection of opressions. Sharing is part of the resilience we offer to each other.

To give something away is a different situation. “To share [something]” is to keep it in the family, one way or another. “To give [something] away” is to let it go entirely. To let something move out of your hands, your family, your community and, yes, to be picked up by someone else who will welcome and cherish it but, also, never to return your way.

There’s a Saying that shows up in a lot of “psychology of wealth” self-help books, and in a lot of How To Magic books, too, about manifestation and how you have to shift the old, cluttered, stuff out in order to make room for new, wanted, stuff to come in. It’s one of the reasons why we make sacrifices. It’s why we ritually sain and sweep our houses, too. It’s why we shed our serpent skins to renew ourselves as we grow.

A lot of what stops people – or at least people like me, people who’ve known physical and emotional scarcity for big chunks of their lives – from being able to take the step of shifting the “old stuff” out is that… what if we need that some day? What if we need that [broken bed-frame] [exploitative job] [ill-fitting shirt] [unreliable, entitled ‘friend’] because we don’t have anything else?

So, this Autumn Equinox, this harvest time, I’m praying for Enough not just for us, for now, not just for us to keep and save and seed, not even just enough for us to share. I’m praying for Enough to be able to give things away and still keep me and mine safe and sure.

~*~

Three cards from the Wildwood tarot, laid out on a cedar board: “Healing”, the Seven of Stones (a Greenwoman does energy work on a fallen man in a kilt. They are surrounded by short standing stones). “Home”, the Ten of Stones (Looking through a stone arch, we see a giant roundhouse with a well-established living oak as its center post). “The Ancestor”, the Five of the Major Arcana (A woman with a deer’s head, dressed in Iron Age clothes, stands in the deep snow playing a bodhran. She is flanked by birch trees. A waxing crescent moon hangs in the background).

Given all this talk of resilience and redistribution, I was expecting the Six of Stones to fall out of my deck. Instead, I got the above three cards leaping out of my hands and landing at my feet.

My Wildwood deck is very literal – probably the most literal and here-and-now deck in my collection, none of whom are exactly subtle about a situation – so when I see the Seven of Stones (who was the archetypal energy we invoked at High Summer) – and the Ancestor (Oh, Hai, Samhain) on either side of a card called Home, I can recognize that my deck is saying “Yep! It is, indeed, Autumn Equinox in these parts!” So: Happy Harvest Home to you, too, my beloved kin of blood and spirit. I see you. ❤

And.

Because tarot is a language of metaphor, and there’s usually more than one thing going on in a given reading, I can look at these cards and see:

The seven of stones is an interim report, a check-in card that asks me to see if what I’m actually doing matches what I want and need to be doing. I had to laugh when I looked up “seven of pentacles” and got this very old post from Little Red Tarot, explicitly about leaving a job purely because it wasn’t enjoyable anymore. If only because I’m chewing on pulling that particular pin myself. It’s a card that says, as I once commented to my voice teacher approximately half a lifetime ago, “Freedom is paying your own bills”. It’s a reminder that Autonomy means you have both hard work ahead of you, step-by-step processes to follow if you want to get where you’re aiming and the time you need to rest and get used to this idea of Having Enough and not having to scrabble all the time.

The Hierophant – in this deck, the Ancestor – asks “Are your actions in line with your values?” It asks “What kind of ancestor do you want to be?” It asks me, in light of my payers and goals, How I’m defining “enough”, and how will I be ethical in my use of food, rare earths, potable water, fossil fuels, such that my desire for “enough to give (throw?) away” isn’t wasteful, isn’t theft, isn’t taking food out of someone else’s mouth?

Home – the ten of stones, this card that means material security and secure attachments at the same time – is an end-goal and a leveling-up at the same time. It reminds me that “Magic Happens In My Comfort Zone” (which is an image I saw on instagram, and now can’t find to say where) and that change, creative work, personal growth, and magic happen – sure – at the Resilient Edge of Resistance, but generally NOT when I’m struggling, emotionally activated, and losing sleep over food insecurity. But it also asks me: When you get what you want, what will you want next? It reminds me that Home – my safety, my abundance, my security – is built from mutual care and networks of family, blood and spirit, leather and glitter. Home isn’t “I” – not even for a massive introvert like me – but, rather, it’s something we build together out of all of dreams coming true.~*~

~*~

Movement: Heh. I ran up and down my basement steps 35+ times last weekend (not all in a row, but all in the same afternoon) to make sure I got Exercise. Yesterday, my wife and I went on a long, beautiful ramble along Pinecrest creek. I’d never been up towards its headwaters before, and it is a beautiful stroll under shade and through meadow. We said Hi to some big oak trees – old enough that it would take two tall women like us to stretch our arms all the way around the trunk – trailed our fingers in the creek water, met a lot of willow trees (their roots were trailing in the water, red as paint, it was amazing!) I look forward to doing this again!

Attention: Right this second, while my hands and eyes are working on this post, my nose and the back of my tongue are paying attention to the smell of mini soul cakes – made with the last quarter-cup of fruit curd that didn’t fit in the jars, plus sound ground spicebush berries and a little bit of whisky, plus the usual eggs, cream cheese, and honey – and waiting to take them out of the oven. I’m also paying attention to the torn up sidewalk outside, which is due to be replaced tomorrow. (I need to go out and embed some sigils in the gravel this evening).

Gratitude: Delicious food. BBQ dinner with some of my polycule. That long, glorious walk yesterday. Doing ritual with my far-way folk. Five pay-days this month plus enough cash in my recently-started travel fund that I can pay off my travel ticket fairly quickly, instead of it take 6+ months to do. Sunlight dappling through the cedar fronds outside my window. Being able to vote by mail. Two out of three jobs being jobs I actually love doing. A freezer full of stock bones, cauliflower, and zucchini. Glorious books out from the library (“Robert MacFarlane’s “Underland” is amazing and is, frankly, going to have a permanent place on my Witch Books shelf). A present for our household arriving in the mail. Getting to see my girlfriend soon. A long-over-due date with my wife. I have got SO MANY things to be grateful for!

Inspiration: Those blood-red willow roots! The half-billion-year-old stone plane that the creek runs over – it’s been so dry that a lot of it is exposed. You could have a (very small) dance party on a moonlit floor older than a lot of life on earth! This is the old sea bed that I’ve lived on most of my life. That’s underpinning my house right now. The sea that makes me a sea witch on dry land.

Creation: Soul cakes, fruit curd, the beginnings of potential poems ghosting around the edges of my mind.

New Moon – Apple Moon Begins

Ripe McIntosh apples collected in, and spilling out of , a wooden bucket with a rope handle. The words “Apple Moon Begins” overlay the image in white cursive text.

So, technically, the first question is “Should I really be calling this Apple Moon” when the apple tree across the street is fully denuded of apples, and they were ripe and falling off the tree weeks ago?

Not sure!

But this is the lunar cycle when Autumn Equinox happens, and that is sort of permanently associated with apple for me – plus, hey, apples have a LOT of varieties, and some of them won’t be ready to harvest until nearly Samhain – so… I’m sticking with Apple Moon.

Somehow we’ll survive.

Anyway. It’s raining today. Or at least it was raining for about an hour there. I’m hoping that we have a solid 24-hours of on-again-off-again rainfall, because this place is pretty parched. We had three squabbling blue jays land in our cedar tree this morning, only one of whom stuck around for long. It’s always nice to see them. (I’m biased. I love blue in general, and these folks look like stained glass windows). Right on schedule, the temperature has dropped from the high thirties down to lows of 6C. It’s pleasant-to-chilly out and, while we haven’t had a Danger Of Frost yet, I know there’s usually one on the way this time of year.

It feels like fall.

Today, I’m reading David Abram’s Becoming Animal. So far, the author’s note at the beginning – which is very much about “sometimes I mess around with spelling because it’s MeAnInGfUl” – had me rolling my eyes a little and wondering if this was going to be one of those “I’m so deep” books written by a certain kind of white philosophy major[1]. But the introduction was actually pretty good? I enjoyed the little discussion about how language is an animal Thing, a nature Thing, and that humans (animals making meaning out of sound) tend to forget that, and forget that the paper and the pen and the marks we make to represent the sounds of language are also, still, a nature Thing. (It reminds me of Chaweon’s tiktok about witches who think of Nature as this non-human, “virginal” landscape, and forget – or are upset at the thought that – a neon yellow highlighter pen is also nature, the product of a human animal doing what it does, which is make stuff all the freaking time).

That said, I do see a little bit of that in the choices the author has made so far (in Chapter 1, so I’ve got a ways to go) in terms of the landscapes in-which he’s choosing to situate his narrative. Like, I live in a city. I don’t follow deer trails, even when I’m in the woods. I follow tracks made by humans. Bike trails and paths cleared through the undergrowth by humans with weed-wackers and wheelbarrows full of arborists’ mulch.

This isn’t a new practice, either. Caribou and Reindeer both love, and follow, straight lines. Humans have been (a) making straight lines for the people we eat to follow, and (b) getting excited about naturally-occurring straight lines[2] since the ice headed back to more northern climes.

And yet here’s David Abrams talking about deer tracks, rather than raccoon tracks, cedars rather than poplars and box elders, non-human forest people rather than non-human city people. The impression I get, so far, is very much that of “We need to find our place BACK in the places we think of as non-human and pristine”. Not wholy out of line, fine, but… I remember someone positing that city trees were devoid of spiritual value, or skills, because of where they grew. And that’s just not true.

I’m grateful that I live in a part of my city that gives me easy-access to woodland preserves, plural, the river’s edge, and the relative diversity of birds and small mammals that come with that proximity. But I’m none the less in a city. I can be in my senses, practice mindfulness, see what the cloud-cover is saying, talk to the native and immigrant plants who live in my yard and inside my house, greet the chipmunks, skunks, cardinals, and crows who stop by, right where I am.

So. We’ll see where this book takes me. But the witch that I am, the animal that I am, lives in a city and so that context remains the relevant one for me.

A white person in a long, black, hooded robe, holding a lit candle. They are standing in the snow on a starry winter night, next to a tall Norwegian Spruce. An inverted drawing of crescent moon shines above them, and they are flanked by two drawn pillars, one dark and one light. (I made it in canva).

Tarot Meditation

I used this random tarot generator to pull my card for this waxing moon. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised – given what I’ve been thinking about today, and talking about above – that the card it gave me was the High Priestess.

Inner knowledge. Ecstatic practice. Using magic and ritual to communicate with the deep and divine parts of yourself and with the rest of the world.

I’m taking this as a Gentle Reminder to visit my Luxury Astral Sea Cave in the near future to check in with my Godself and my Fetch.

~*~

Movement: Making a little bit of time to dance, going for one (1) walk at Mud Lake with my wife.

Attention: Rereading Gideon the Ninth, trying to finish Anatomy of a Witch, digging into Becoming Animal. In other words: Books. I’m paying attention to books.

Gratitude: Grateful to be singing again. Grateful for Mud Lake, for the River, for the nature rehabilitation woodland a few blocks south of me. Grateful to be able to tell the difference between black walnut trees and staghorn sumac without having to see their respective fruits. Grateful for online video dates with my girlfriend and in-person date nights with my wife. Grateful for my work-from-home jobs and the money they bring in. grateful for evening primrose and autumn asters. Grateful for this breaking of the heat that’s made it reasonable to use the oven again. Grateful for blue jays on the window and crows wading in the shallows and gold finches in the pale-leaved wild sunflower. Grateful for rain. Grateful for being loved so much.

Inspiration: Conversations with my wife and my girlfriend, pretty things on pinterest, the work of other witches. Reading up on different ways a particular kind of ritual – one I’ll be facilitating for a few friends in a few weeks – can get done.

Creation: I’ve been working on my purple skirt again, starting to turn the raw edges under in French seams. I would say that I’m only about 1/3 done the whole thing. Which: If I want this ready for early October, I have a LOT of work ahead of me. So we’ll see. But I’m pleased with how it’s turning out so far.

TTFN,

Ms Syren (Meliad the Birch Maiden)

[1] As a white chick with a humanities degree, I both went to school with a lot of these and am, I suspect, in solid danger of being one as well. So here we are.

[2] Think of probably-glacially-made Avenue on Salisbury plain.