Category Archives: animism

Full Moon – Leaf Moon Crests (Lunar Beltane 2021)

The crown of a serviceberry tree in full flower, with a clear, blue sky behind it.
A serviceberry tree in full flower in somebody’s front yard,
with a very clear blue sky behind it. Photo by me.

I keep sitting down to write these things and not knowing what to say. A year ago, I had just started an admin job that gave me almost enough money to cover the bills, barely, on its own.

Now I have three jobs and more money than I’ve ever seen (which, admittedly, is still not tonnes. But it makes a massive difference).

I got vaccinated yesterday. First dose of AZ which is currently living up to its reputation as Kind Of A Meanie. Last night I was so stiff and sore, it felt like I’d been walking for about three hours, in winter, and had had a bad fall in the process, with my hip and shoulder taking most of the impact.

That’s not what happened, clearly, but that’s how it felt.

Today, I’m a lot better, but “better” still means my hips, thighs, and knees are worn out and very sore all over again after one whole walk to the end of the block and back. Hot showers help. Heating pads help. Knowing that my body’s making antibodies to keep me alive helps. Remembering that my Fetch is both my body and my child-self helps, because it reminds me that I need to baby myself and that “experiencing pain” is not the only, nor (in my case at least) the best, way for me to Be In My Body.

Maybe it’s timely that I’m taking a class on self-care later today.

Coming home from my doctor’s office yesterday, we saw that the service berries planted (in profusion!) around our old neighbourhood are getting ready to burst into bloom. This morning, when I walked to the corner and back, I saw that the one on my street is in full flower.

The serviceberries blooming haven’t always been my indicator that it’s Beltane.

But they started to carry that designation a couple of years ago. Ha. Probably the year after I realized that my then-neighbourhood was full of free dessert, if I just paid attention enough to notice it. 😉

My rhubarb, sorrel, and lovage made it through the winter – they started poking through the ground when Leaf Moon began, about two weeks ago. And the relief and joy I feel about that (and the transplanted narcissus, cranes’ bill, day lilies, and solomon’s seal) comes through every single spring. They are more “spring” to me than the actual equinox, in a lot of ways, and the Serviceberries blooming work the same way for Beltane.

Serviceberries – June berries, Saskatoons – are in bloom, around here, any time between 10 days before and 10 days after May 1st. And their fruit tends to be ripe and ready to eat any time between Summer Solstice (which is pretty early for them, yet, but there are always a few) and early July. Sometimes the fruit hits peak ripeness all at once, and you have to be out with a grocery bag for a few hours a day if you want to get a harvest in. Other times, the season lasts for two weeks, overlapping with the sour cherries by a significant period, and you can be a bit more leisurely about picking them. But, because of when the bloom (earlier than crab apples and even pie cherries – though those are definitely on their way) and fruit (same), they’ve starting murmuring to me about the relationship between Beltane and Midsummer in my own bioregion.

This is a constant project for me. What is happening, in my reality, in my neighbourhood, at these pre-set (ish) dates, some of which are solar and some of which… aren’t. My date book calls this full Leaf Moon “Lunar Beltane” because it’s the closest full moon to May 1st. This is absolutely a modern convention (I mean, pretty much all of neopagan practices are modern conventions, up to and including calling Autumn Equinox “Mabon” – which: nothing wrong that, actually, don’t freak out, it’s fine) but it makes me smile to think of how my bioregion has a “May Tree” of its own, one that links the hope of the flower (call it a prayer, call it a spell) to the first success of the fruit and the mature, viable seeds which, themselves, need a full cycle of the seasons – the freeze and the thaw and the months of “cold stratification” – before they germinate and and start growing into trees of their own.

I wonder how much of magic, of spellcraft, is like this for people.

It makes me think of the job magic I did, more than a year ago, and how the spell fruited me a mat leave contract, which – a full cycle of the seasons later – has become a much longer-term gig in the same field.

It has me asking: What spellcraft do I want to do – what showy explosion of hope and will – between Monday’s full moon (Pink Moon, in Scorpio) and the New Moon in Taurus coming up on May 11th? What will my Beltane magic be?

~*~

Next World Tarot - The Empress - A Black femme w/ lavender hair and a yellow skirt,
carries a torch and holds a potted plant. A huge, full moon rises in the background.
Next World Tarot – The Empress – A Black femme w/ lavender hair and a yellow skirt,
carries a torch and holds a potted plant. A huge, full moon rises in the background.

I used a random tarot card generator to “pull” a card for my tarot card meditation for the Full Moon in Scorpio.

When I saw that I’d pulled the Empress… I wasn’t surprised. It’s Taurus Season. It’s her time! The Moon is in Scorpio (or will be, shortly, more accurately), and I was literally thinking “Should I do sex magic at this time?” as I was flipping the card.

So. That’s a BIG Yes.

Got it!

~*~

Movement: Ahahahaha. I hurt. Walking to the end of the block and back was A Lot. But there have been walks at sunset with my wife, wandering along the bike paths around here, spotting wild raspberry bushes and feral daffodils, and that has been wonderful.

Attention: Right this second? I’m paying attention to how and where my body hurts. Also paying attention the Thrive conference (on Kink and Mental Health).

Gratitude: Grateful for my wife, her partner, and my all having had our first done of covid vaccine. Thank you all the gods! Grateful for all my jobs. Grateful for the warm weather coming back. Grateful for serviceberry trees in flower. Grateful for the rhubarb, sorrel, lovage, solomon’s seal, tulips, narcissus, and all the other plants waking up and coming back to life. Grateful for the cardinals that come to our window. Grateful for the possibility of my girlfriend, eventually, being able to drive up for a visit now that we’re all getting our antibodies in place. Grateful for walks with my wife. Grateful for feral daffodils. Grateful for this pretty great life.

Inspiration: Is it weird to say “my own poetry”? Also watching my friend learn how to make Very Aesthetic tiktok videos is actually inspiring. I’m not sure (yet) that I want to go putting my face in a tiny video, but it’s a lovely reminder that dressing up is effective and does help me feel magical, competent, and powerful.

Creation: Tiny videos to show off my poetry. Using a free collage program on the internet to make pretty pictures. Just playing. It’s been lovely to just be playing.

Full Moon – Rose Moon Crests (Lunar Eclipse in Capricorn)

“Rosehips and Water Droplets” – Photo by James Petts, via Wiki Free Images – A close-up view of two ripe, red rosehips, surrounded by dripping green foliage, just after the rain.


 
Well, kittens, I went on an Adventure today, but I’ll get to that in a minute. The cherries, service berries, and mulberries are ripe and ready to harvest (and mostly in people’s yards, but some are growing wild!) and that has me very excited! I’ve got a haskap-and-choke-cherry pie in the fridge and have started putting up cooking greens for winter. I’m going to need, like, 20 more gallons to get through the four or five months of No Available Greens, but… we’ll get there.
 
As sometimes gets brought up in Astrology-Land, full moons and new moons are good times to check back and see what you were doing six months ago and how it relates to where you’re at now.
In this case, six months ago was the New Moon (and solar eclipse) in Capricorn, just after Winter Solstice. While my 2020 goal of finding a publisher for my chapbook has yet to be achieved, I have landed An Actual Grant to help cover living expenses while I finish my Femme Glosa Project, which is pretty fucking amazing. And I’m still sending my chapbook (and a bonus micro-chap) out to various potential publishers, so. We’re only halfway through the year. It could still happen. 😉
 
On a related note: Chani’s Horoscopes for this lunar eclipse / full moon in Capricorn (yesterday), are pinging some of the notes she brought up six months ago (Scorpios need to attend to their daily rituals because our growth is going to come through there this year) as well as the same buttons that my tarot pulls did, two weeks ago during the dark moon ritual with Connect DC. Specifically Gemini Rising’s call to recognize that joy is abundant and BOTH my Scorpio Sun’ and Cancer Moon’s reminder that withholding things from myself is not going to help me or anyone else. Both of these hit me squarely in the “Love and play are holy” message I got at New Moon.
 
Six months ago was ALSO (…sort of) the January full moon that I spent doing ritual (for the first time) with Connect DC. Where I got the message “Use your voice” over and over. So the fact that I’m getting messages about using my words AND support for my creative writing, right now, feels like it’s connected to that, too.
 
But I said that I’d been on an Adventure.
Folks, I went sailing for the first time today! 😀
It was great, and I’m looking forward to doing it again!
Back in December, my wife got a little sail boat. Which, not gonna lie, I had some mixed feelings about like (a) YAY, COOL! But also (b) uh… where are we going to put this??
Fast forward to six months later, and we’re living in a new house with a very long, just-for-us driveway, about a 10 minute walk from a boat-launch right into the river.
So that worked out.
 
This wasn’t my first time in/with/on that river. I grew up here. Swimming in, and eating the fish from, this river. It wasn’t even my first time in the water since we moved. I went and stood in it – only up to my ankles – about a week ago.
But here’s the thing.
Water-creature me has been avoiding the bath.
Which is to say, more accurately, that I’ve been avoiding June, aka my GodSelf.
Which I feel guilty about.
Which, because I’m a genius, means that I’m avoiding her Even More.
So getting out on the water felt like a Thing because, even though the river isn’t June – she’s her own entity – she IS a huge, ancient body of water that remembers being an inland sea 10,000 years ago when everything between the Gatineau Hills (then mountains) and upstate NY was underwater and inhabited by seals and beluga whales (when I say I’m a sea witch, that’s the sea I’m talking about) and, as such, is a good place through-which to connect to my GodSelf.
 
So out we went and, while we were out, I let my right hand trail in the water, let some of my energy trickle out into the waves, and just generally said Hi.
And I think she said Hi back?
In addition to getting a flash of whale-song, I felt my heart-ring, the green peridot of my Self[1] show up on my right ring finger.
Which felt really good.
Joyful.
I sang for/to her, just a little bit.
It was really nice.
 
So that was my Big Day Out. We got back five hours ago and, while I’m still tired, I’m at least not totally wiped out. (Hahaaa… I’ve got ritual in 15 minutes. We’ll see how that goes!)
I’ve been noticing that I tend to be a little light-headed or queasy after doing work that involves opening up my chakras or otherwise moving energy around a lot, and that feels new. I’m not sure if it’s just because I’m doing it more frequently, so the correlation is more noticeable, or if it’s because I’m not setting up the container with enough care (likely) or shutting things down properly after the fact (also possible). But it’s something I need to pay attention to, and do something about, I think.
 
Temperance - Wooden Tarot (A.L. Swartz) - An otter, with an open third eye, floats comfortable in the water, between two blooming lilies. They reguard you with vague interest.

Temperance – Wooden Tarot (A.L. Swartz) – An otter, with an open third eye, floats comfortable in the water, between two blooming lilies. They reguard you with vague interest.


 
For my tarot card meditation, I’ve chosen Temprerance, because it’s shown up in a couple of draws and has also jumped out at me on instagram.
Obviously, this is a card about finding the balance. About “what do I need to do” and “what do I want to do”; about “what is the next right step” and “what do I need to keep myself physically safe while I take it”. It’s also a card that asks “What did you learn while you were leveling up, just then?” And that, in particular, is on my mind right now. What have I learned since late 2018? And how do I implement those lessons instead of falling back into old habits?
I’ll be chewing on this between now and the next New Moon, for sure.
 
~*~
 
Movement: Well, I hauled a boat to and from the river today, and spent a lot of time putting my weight on my arms due to trying to avoid being hit by the boom. So that’s something. Have also started do (reverse) leg-lifts while lying on my stomach in the interests of helping to build some more core/lower-back strength and – hopefully – help my back to hurt less.
 
Attention: Definitely paying attention my dizziness/etc after being in trance- or trance-adjacent states. Also paying attention to how I manage my time. Balancing the stuff I want to do (cook, sew, write poetry, read novels) with the stuff I need to do (dishes, admin work, writing letters to politicians, invoicing) to maintain my new home.
 
Gratitude: For so much! For my girlfriend who encourages me and gives me pep-talks. For my wife who wakes up and snuggles the daylights out of me in the morning. For outdoor cooking. For running water. For rain. For going sailing. For friends who want to hang out and chat across the room from one-another. For video dates. For robins who start singing at 4:30am, just when I’m wide awake and having All The Anxiety. For chocolate-peanut-butter ice cream cones. For our CSA. For sunshine and sweat. For hibiscus iced tea. For wild mulberries and baby geese and the river who said Hello. For so very, very much. ❤ ❤ ❤
 
Inspiration: My experiences during the boat ride today, for SURE. I think I need to write me some poetry about that! 😀 Also just… my fabric stash, tbh. I’ve been sewing up a storm, making, finishing, and mending clothes for myself and my wife, as well as starting a few sets of curtains for the house.
 
Creation: Well, see above, re: sewing all the things. I’ve also been baking a lot (when the temperature allows) and had a really successful bread batch the other day. Beyond that, since it’s July, I’ve started my twice-a-week poetry dates with the goal of finishing my Femme Glosa manuscript (or finishing all the various individual-poem drafts that will become said manuscript, more accurately) by… Autumn Equinox, if not earlier. Wish me luck!
 
~*~
 
Anyway. Onwards to Ritual!
Happy Full Moon!
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Uh… also about six months ago, I did the Iron Pentacle meditation, and wound up getting Astral Jewelry for my trouble, which was pretty cool.

Some is Better than None – Carbon Emissions Edition

Conifer Seedlings sprouting in the undergrowth. McCloud River Trail - Shasta-Trinity National Forest - June 2017. Photographed by Carol Underhill, via Wiki Free Images.

Conifer Seedlings sprouting in the undergrowth. McCloud River Trail – Shasta-Trinity National Forest – June 2017. Photographed by Carol Underhill, via Wiki Free Images.

Well, folks, I’ve said this more than once. “Some is better than none”.
Buying the organic, fair trade coffee, or the milk in the one-litre glass bottles, some of the time is better than not buying it at all.
Bringing your cloth bags to the grocery store some of the time (and, okay, opting for paper bags when you don’t) is better than never bringing them at all.
Walking/biking/busing to work some of the time is better than never doing it at all.
Making offerings to, and checking in with, your gods eight times a year is better than never doing it at all.
Today I took another “some is better than none” step.
As I’ve mentioned before, we have a car. It’s not a functional car, but we’re hopeful that my wife can get it up and running in time for her to have a commuter vehicle by the time the roads get icy late next Fall. We have a motorcycle. We have drafty windows. I take two round-trip flights to DC every year, and would like to up that number by at least one more.
We don’t have solar panels or super-amazing insulation or geothermal heating.
I used this carbon calculator and, where I didn’t have the information on hand, looked up provincial averages for things like how many kilowatt-hours (electricity) or cubic-meters (natural gas furnace) we probably go through in a year.
According to that calculator, it would take 52 trees a full thirty years (it’s always thirty years for this calculator, the number of trees just changes) to absorb ONE year of my household’s average carbon emissions – assuming I took that extra flight and we got the car working as a daily driver.

So I signed up to sponsor the planting of five trees per month through Tree Canada.

It will run me $20/month to “plant” 60 trees per year to help offset my household carbon footprint.
I say “help” because there’s no guarantee that those 60 trees won’t be harvested before the 30-year “neutralization date”. (Because I’m brilliant, and didn’t realize that I could do this specifically for their “Grow Clean Air” program where the trees aren’t harvested for a minimum of 30 years, I am now emailing Tree Canada to find out if I can switch that up and pay $30/month – instead of $20 – to have that little bit of assurance/insurance).

So.
Some is better than none.
Why I am saying that about this step?

Well… Look. I know this is monoculture. I… suspect that what will be planted in my name is basically a lumber plantation, and even if it’s not that, it won’t be anywhere near the kind of mixed species perennial food forest that was here before my own people turned up with intentions of taking over. I know this nonprofit, while it’s its own entity, is also heavily sponsored by the government of Canada (and by a particular oil company with a long-standing baaaaaaad reputation).
So I suspect that this is me underpinning/sponsoring the Canadian Lumber Industry and, by extension, the continued colonization[1] of indigenous lands, just as much as it’s me trying to over-compensate (just barely) for the amount of fossil fuels I burn in my furnace, my (as-yet-impending, but added to the calculation) car, plus all the buses and airplanes I ride in a given year, and the amount of non-renewable energy used to generate the electricity that powers this laptop, my overhead lights, my fridge, my stove, and my chest freezer.
I hope I’m wrong about that.
But I would feel… dishonest, where I to presume that “my” 60 trees per year didn’t have a date with a logging company already set for thirty years from now.

So. I may not love it. I may feel more than a little ambivalent about it. But it’s also SOMETHING. And something is better than nothing, so I’ve done it.

If you would like to do something similar, you can follow the links in the post and/or you can do the other thing that I do, which is spread native tree seeds in urban areas. Think choke cherries, over-ripe service berries, and other native understory trees, that will be able to grow and thrive in the relatively shaded environment of disturbed urban earth (alleyways, tree medians, the shadows of larger trees, right around the rain-line at the edge of their canopies).

TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

[1] What I mean by that: Right now, Canada – as both a governing body and a nation – doesn’t actually have legal right to most of the land it occupies and from-which it harvests natural resources. So we’re technically steeling most of the lumber we harvest. Which, at best, is just monumentally embarrassing. But we are not at the “at best” level right now.

New Moon – Harvest Moon Begins (and Grows) – Season of the Witch

“Winter Squash” – Photo by Sheila Sund, via Wiki Media Commons. Three winter squash – butternut, sweet dumpling, and buttercup – are to the left of the image, dramatically lit from the right, on an otherwise bare surface, against a black backdrop.


 
The mornings are down in the single digits these days, and the nights are hovering around freezing. The back yard is full of blooming New England asters (the purple kind) and, while nothing’s been knocked down by frost just yet (to my surprise), I know it’s coming. We turned the furnace on today and have extra blankets on the bed.
Autumn is so very, very here.
 
We’re slipping towards Root Time pretty quickly now. The leaves are turning. I have bunches of mugwort, yellow mustard (seed pods, in the latter case), sage, and thyme hanging in the kitchen to finish drying. We opened a bottle of Sortilege (a month earlier than I would have, if I hadn’t hidden said bottle away late last April), and I made an offering with the first glass of it to kick off the Season of the Witch.
It’s getting towards introspection season – although, realistically, that’s all year long if you’re me – and, like a lot of people, I’ve got a lot of stuff on my mind.
 
I went to the Climate Justice Rally the other day – and felt less useless for having gone, I have to admit, though I wasn’t expecting that. I keep looking at my somewhat feral yard, where – when we moved in, five years ago (just about exactly), I had hoped to plant a riot of winter squash, rather like the ones displayed in the photo at the top of this post, along with lots of perennial fruits and herbs.
I keep looking at it and wondering “Have I done right by you?”
 
Because, as I keep lamenting, I’m not doing very well at this vegetable gardening thing.
But my yard is a tiny ecosystem. Squirrels and rats (alas), a skunk and a rabbit, a family of raccoons, a semi-feral cat, and a lot of starlings and sparrows (and the odd bluebird, crow, cardinal) have our yard as part of their territory. The back patio is under-pinned (or destabilized, maybe) by a few different kinds of ants. There are spiders, wasps (parasitic and otherwise), two kinds of solitary bee, a few different kinds of butterfly, centipedes, pill bugs, ladybugs, slugs (alas) and snails, and earthworms the thickness of my finger. Between what I grow on purpose, what my neighbour grows on purpose, and what I just allow to grow wild, as it will, we’ve got about half the number of unique plant species that one would find in a healthy tall grass prairie represented and thriving between the front and the back yards of our little row of townhouses. And that’s something I’m proud of.
“Have I done right by you?”
 
The ground is so literal.
I like to think that the offerings of home-made beeswax candles, fresh bread and (not home-made) butter, maple whiskey, and sometimes other tasty things, are appreciated and enjoyed. (Certainly the squirrels like the bread, if that’s any indication).
But I kind of suspect that the compost heap, with its regular additions of coffee grounds, toilet paper tubes, stewed bones, vegetable peelings, and human hair, is more helpful (and more wanted) in the long run. That thinning the Himalayan Balsam so that the Crane’s Bill and Turtlehead had room to grow, but leaving enough of it for the bees to visit, and sowing white clover and wildflower seeds (after thinning out the grass, golden rod, and dog-strangling-vine), probably matter more to my Lady of Earth and my Lady of the Meadow than whether or not I managed to cultivate a lot of winter squash in any given year, even when my Lady of the Meadow is also the winter squash and the raspberries (which consistently refuse to fruit, even now).
“Have I done right by you?”
 
It’s harvest time. The squirrels have already dug up (and gnawed upon) the narcissus bulbs given to us by a friend. The two pounds of carrots I brought home from the grocery store a week or two ago are waterlogged and not doing so well, and I’m having The Feels about food waste. Again. The dill seed heads I harvested went moldy (because I didn’t dry them well enough and didn’t store them right). I still haven’t harvested crab apples, even though I walked by a tree loaded with them twice this past week. I feel wasteful rather than abundant.
“Have I done right by you?”
 
I shuffle the deck by my computer – the Next World, which isn’t the deck I’d usually use for this. The Chariot falls out. The Three of Cups almost jumps with it. I shuffle and shuffle. Look longingly at the Three of Cups, Nine of Cups, now layered one on top of the other at the very bottom of my deck. Pull a card off the top and it’s The Sun.
I want to take that as a Yes.
I want this to be true:
 

 
One of the other reasons why I was asking if I’ve done right by the land I live on is that we found out, just about a month ago, that the building we live in has been put up for sale.
It’s terrifying.
Not least of why being that we’re barely able to cover the bills we have now, and housing – across the city, not just in the neighbourhood we’ve lived in for over a decade and want to stay in – is running $400-$700 more expensive per month than we can handle.
I think about moving, and I just get a tight chest, churning stomach, racing thoughts, and nothing actually useful done. I sob my eyes out thinking that we’ll be this house’s last family and that life is going to stay (financially) hard for the foreseeable.
It’s awful.
I’ve been looking for an anchor income for a while now, but I’m kind upping the search because, if we’re going to afford to live, well, anywhere by the time this unusually-affordable rental house is yanked out from under us, I’m going to need to be SURE that I can show up with at least $800/month to put towards housing and utilities.
 
Sometimes I think that planning to move in the spring is putting the cart before the horse. We have to be able to afford to move before we can actually do so. (At least… I hope that’s how it works out). TBH, I’ve spent a lot of the past four weeks – when I’m not job-hunting or canning or cleaning or writing poetry or doing paid work – wondering how to get myself focused enough to determine What I Really Want, specifically so that I can work some magic towards those ends.
A lot of the past year has been working on the “art” and “sex” elements of my Empress Project. But the Empress, as much as she is VERY MUCH about creativity and sensuality, is also about abundance and stability and I think I need to spend some time (energy, attention, Work) leaning into those aspects.
I wonder to myself what I can offer in exchange for help getting the kind of moderately flexible, very-part-time office/remote-assistant job I’m looking for and what, should I actually secure said job, I can offer on top of that (or after that) to secure the kind of living space we want (2 bedrooms, laundry on site, no pests, ideally with gardening space and a big kitchen, pets A-okay), in any of the neighbourhoods we want, at a price we can afford long-term even if the rent goes up every year.
I keep thinking of Ms Sugar’s long-ago Thoughts on Blood As A Sometimes Food.
I keep thinking of… I think it’s T. Thorn Coyle’s book Sigil Magic where she talks about how doing ritual isn’t the same as doing magic any more than emoting or obsessing about something is the same as working your Will. I keep thinking about how I rarely have any idea if what I’m doing is actually going to get off the ground, let alone get results, let alone-alone get the kind of results I actually want.
Which, like, doesn’t help me actually have the confidence to try spellworking for this stuff, you know?
 
Regardless – and I will surely come back to the above more than once over the coming winter – in my most recent fit of “I don’t know what to dooooooooooo!!!” I did what I tend to do in times of trouble and uncertainty, and started pulling tarot cards.
(Basically, I don’t necessarily even shuffle anything, I just grab the deck and split it at random points).
This is the spread I used.
 
What do I need to think about: The Chariot
What do I need to do: The Eight of Cups
What is my challenge: The Knight of Pentacles
What is my secret weapon: The Four of Wands

 
I tend to read The Chariot as “get up / wake up, and go”. A card about taking action. And it is. But it’s very specifically a card about working one’s will to achieve one’s goals. It’s a card about doing, sure. But it’s also a card about doing magic.
 
The Eight of Cups is typically a card of “mourn and move on”. It’s a card that touches on burnout and anxiety, for sure. And one that suggests leaning into spiritual growth and personal truth, as well. But it’s most often (for me, at least) a card about grieving and letting go, about tying up loose ends and walking away.
 
The Knight of Earth (I can find a picture of the Next World Tarot’s take on the Knight of Pentacles, but there are lots of options out there) is a solid character. But, in the position of a “challenge”, their slow-and-steady nature turns to “afraid to take risks” or “pessimistic” or “keeps themself (too) small”.
 
As for the Four of Wands, for me, it’s always been a card about Community. Participation. Joyful interaction. Strengthening the web of relationships that one is part of. It’s also, however, a card that feels, one the one hand, like the opposite of the Knight of Pentacles’ more challenging aspects – “looking forward expectantly”, “letting go of limitations”, and “opening to new possibilities” – while, on the other, being almost the flip-side of the coin to the Eight of Cups – “getting out of an oppressive situation”, “reflecting on accomplishments”, and “breaking free of bonds”. There’s also an aspect of this card that pertains to taking part in a ritual or rite, although I tend to think that’s more about things like weddings or milestone birthdays (like my upcoming 40th, ye gods…) than, like, solo magical workings in my bathtub. None the less. >.>
 
What do I need to think about: Taking action physically and magically.
What do I need to do: Mourn the (impending, as-yet-unscheduled) loss of this house, and move on (literally as well as figuratively).
What is my challenge: Doing the leg work without getting frozen into inaction due to fear and risk-aversion. Not losing sight of the good stuff over the horizon just because things feel (VERY) precarious right now. Avoiding despair while job- and neighbourhood- hunting in late-stage capitalism and an increasingly expensive city.
What is my secret weapon: My people. My hope. My resistance.
 
I want to keep these cards – these four, and The Sun – in mind as my tarot card meditaiton during this waxing moon. To get’er done without losing sight of my worth and without giving up my arts-oriented work (modeling as a career, and poetry as an a/vocation). To keep making art and magic, possibly in combination. To remember that I’m not entirely powerless. To accept the joy when it comes.
 
~*~
Movement: Not nearly enough. Short, dynamic poses during modeling gigs. Walking all over the place. But that’s about it. I think there needs to be more dancing in my life.
 
Attention: Unsurprisingly? Sniffing around as to what housing costs in which neighbourhoods in town. Keeping an eye on the job boards. Watching the garden for the inevitable frost that will knock a lot of it down (at which-point, it’s clean-up time).
 
Gratitude: Thankful, however ruefully, for the neighbours and friends who brought up having seen the listing for our building on the national real estate website, and for the landlords for not denying it when we brought it up. For library books. For quiet evenings in. For a furnace that works. For clean water that comes right out of the tap. For the tool library. For friends who check in. For slow mornings with my wife. For my girlfriend’s impending (mere days away!) visit. For the upcoming weekend-long kink convention we’ll be attending. For hand-me-down clothes that fit and look good on me. For kindness. For hope.
 
Inspiration: Ongoing climate disaster and housing insecurity, because it’s an ill wind, apparently. :-\ Outside of that, Mabon and related seasonal changes and astrological events, plus the poets of Hustling Verse and also those in my extended circle of queer, polyamourous chosen families. It’s a good place to be.
 
Creation: I wrote two new glosas! I wrote them yesterday! I’m so excited! 😀 😀 😀 I really hope I can keep this up! 😀 Fingers crossed!

How Did My Own Ancestors Build Relationships with The Neighbours? (In Which I’m Just Spitballing…)

So I started reading a book (big surprise). I fact, I’ve been reading a bunch of books, including a few on the archaeological remains of the pre-Christian British Isles. But the book I started yesterday is called How Forests Think (Eduardo Kohn) and it’s both fascinating and a bit of a slog, if only because it’s academic writing and I’m out of practice so even reading relatively accessible academic writing is a bit chewy to get through. But it’s got some really neat ideas so far.
So far granted, being Page Ten.
BUT, from what I can parse through ten pages of introduction, this book is about expanding the (very white) discipline of anthropology – the study of how human being related to each other and the world we exist in – to include how the other lives in that world relate to us. That “relating to” isn’t just about Us telling stories about The Other, but also how They tell stories about Us and each other and, maybe most particularly, about how WE as distinct human and non-human (and animal and non-animal, for that matter) cultures co-create stories about the relationships we have with each other.
 
Which is awesome!
 
And which is also a “weird” way of thinking, if you’re White People. Either a very, very new possibility for our collective/canonical thought or – more likely – a very, very old one that we, ourselves, forgot – and tried to get everyone else to forget, too – but that other people have successfully hung onto despite our shitty best efforts.
 
You guys. I want this to be a Pagan way of thinking.
 
Like, I’m not sure it’s even possibly to “re-indigenize” myself, as a woman of Scottish/Brittish, German, and otherwise variously European ancestry while living as a settler and a colonizer on someone else’s land. And I’m aware that, on some level, I’m still thinking of myself as “the boss of them” when it comes to the other mammals who share my (“my”) yard, and that my relationships with them remain fairly extractive in nature. But. I do want to develop this kind thinking in myself. As a pagan, as someone who cultivates and harvests and eats non-human people, I want to cultivate (further) the understanding that they are people. People who may think about me and my existence, and/or who may relate with me if I open up and allow for that to happen.
 
Anyway.
Back to this book. The idea, the author says, is to explore ways to view ourselves (qua humans) as distinct AND part of a larger conversation or part of a larger whole/community of relationships and kinships that include non-human and non-animal people rather than thinking of ourselves (qua humans) as the only kind of life that has a worldview or relates to other lives.
Which… duh. Anyone who’s so much as met somebody else’s pet knows that animals other than us relate to, and form relationships with, members of their own and other species.
And I like that.
 
One of the reasons I like digging into paleoanthropology and pre-medieval archaeology of Scotland and Northern England is because it might, maybe-maybe, give me an idea of how my own ancestors might, hypothetically, have related to a world that they knew related to them, too.
 
To be honest, I want to find evidence that we were getting it right, once upon a time. Long before feudalism and the idea that a single person could own a vast swath of land and dictate how everyone else who lived there could access or interact with it. Before Christianization. Before Rome. What we were like in the Iron Age? What were we like earlier than that?
But the information I’ve got – through library books and BBC documentaries – feels so… scattered.
Like, I know about the deer masks and the possibility that they were involved in some kind of shape-shifting… thing. And I know about the heaps of shells and the burials with seal flippers. I know about how all the rivers and wells were sacred. How gods were location-specific. How you got to, or became part of, the world of non-corporeal-intelligences by dying (the river goddesses who became so by drowning in their respective rivers, the “passage graves” that were also faerie mounds).
 
That stuff tells me that seals were relevant. That deer were relevant. That specific places were marked out as Special. It tells me that my ancestors, like every human being pretty much ever, most likely created rituals around uncertain events (like hunting or traveling or dying) to attempt to grant us either a little control or a little negotiating power or a little good luck or favour, because those things might help get us the results we hope for rather than any kind of worst case scenario.
It tells me that seals may have been connected to the afterlife. Like the stories of selkies, it suggests that maybe there’s a relationship there that involves shape-shifting/skin-shifting and that maybe also involves mixing families.
 
Basically, I can extrapolate very broadly from the few bits of actual information available, and then tell myself a story – one that may not be at all accurate – that says “My very distant ancestors may have had a story that said we/they were related to seals. This relationship may have made it okay for us to (a) hunt them OR (b) harvest fish and shellfish from the seashore or the ocean itself, specifically because we are also ‘of the ocean’ in a way that other predators, like wolves or lynx, are not”.
Think also of the Welsh (were they ever more broadly Brythonic?) stories about Anwyn – the otherworld that is “very deep” and quite probably an island – and how you get to the land of the dead via the water, you become a goddess of a river by drowning in it. The people under the hill, and the people under the waves, were – at least some of them – our ancestors’ ancestors.
…Maybe.
 
So… did we have a relationship – like a literal, familial-in-some-way relationship – with the seals?
Maybe?
Did we – meaning literally my “we”, the Selgovae who lived by the water just north of Hadrian’s Wall, the people of what was eventually the Kingdom of Strathclyde (what is now northern England and southern Scotland) – have something similar with the red deer? “The Selgovae” is what Ptolemy called us. “The Hunters”. Did we skin-walk to negotiate with the deer folk? Did their sprits speak through us or borrow our bodies?
The Red Deer Frontlet masks/“masks” at Star Carr (contemporary northern Yorkshire, or about a week’s walk from my Ancestral Seat in Galloway/Dumfries) hint that maybe this was A Thing for My People a whole 11,000 years ago.
But, again, we don’t actually know.
I certainly don’t.
And that was a looooong time gone.
 
Anyway. As I said, I’m only on Page Ten of this book. I have no idea how forests – or meadows or, most relevantly, the scrubby disturbed-earth that makes up a lot of That Other Space in urban areas – think, or might think, or might be inclined to have relationships of any kind with me.
 
But a place to start – at least according to a Druid I got to talk to not that long ago – is to notice and recognize, to pay attention and acknowledge, to say Hello to the non-human people you meet who aren’t just directly-related to humans (e.g.: a dog on a literal leash, or your friend’s favourite succulent – although sure, them, too). Go out. Say Hello. Start – or keep on – getting to know The Neighbours.

New Moon – Rampion Moon Begins (Cancer Season, Partial Solar Eclipse)

Creeping Bellflower Super invasive BUT the roots are edible and (in theory) taste like parsnip. This is the Rampion from Rapunzel's story. Photo is from Ruth's Tree Farm.

Creeping Bellflower
Super invasive BUT the roots are edible and (in theory) taste like parsnip.
This is the Rampion from Rapunzel’s story.
Photo is from Ruth’s Tree Farm.


 
We’ve had almost no rain for a month.
My front yard, with its pink bee balm, purple bellflower, and orange day lilies, is crispy as fuck because I barely water it.
My back yard is doing better, because there’s a hose back there. But we’re not doing super well on the food-production front.
I think I’ll be digging up some of those bell flowers – along with the various sunchokes/as’kebwan’ that Danger Squirrel et familia have re-planted in my raised beds, which I suspect I’ll just ferment from the get-go in multiple jars – to help us save on groceries, because my zucchini and cukes are not really producing (or, if they are, they’re being eaten by the squirrels).
In theory, my potatoes (yukon gold) are getting close to harvest-ready, though I’ll probably let them get a bit bigger, if I can swing it. I’m not sure how to cure potatoes, so I’ll have to look that up.
The fava beans that I grew entirely as a nitrogen-fixing crop are producing beans, so I can harvest those as well, and we can have fava beans on toast or something.
Basically, Ontario’s Yummy Season has arrived. And also my garden isn’t doing a whole lot, beyond giving us some amazing herbs and trying not to die in what I’m pretty sure is actually a drought.
 
This is where I really, REALLY notice the difference between the perennial plants and the annuals. The perennials – even the crispy-fried flowers out front – are still actually growing, getting bigger, managing to do more than survive out here. The annuals, on the other hands, are straight-up suffering, and they’re getting watered once, usually twice, a day (in the cool of the morning, and again at twilight).
It’s also dawning on me just WHY my neighbour, who gardens very intensively and very successfully (I am in awe of her, tbh), brings in 20+ bags of top soil and manure compost every year.
 
I’m well aware that my soil is very depleted and, while I did top it up with some manure compost early in the growing season (which helped significantly), it’s not helping enough. My compost heap, itself, is cooking along quite nicely (and is now receiving human hair and toilet paper tubes along with the more typical kitchen waste, because I’d rather feed the ground that’s feeding me than send this stuff to a landfill or even a recycling depot), but it’s not enough to feed the whole garden. Not as it stands right now.
 
Our garden has mostly given us leafy greens, so far. And many of those have been “weed” greens – dandelion, crow garlic, sow thistle, purslane, lambs’ quarters, and other related plants. This is fine – I let those plants go to seed in our yard on purpose, because they are food plants – but the goal remains to get enough cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and winter squash (along with, maybe, some root crops) from our garden to not have to buy groceries as much as we currently do. And, frankly, we are not making enough big, healthy leafy greens to freeze for winter alongside what we eat day to day with our meals.
 
You can take a look at this post for a run-down of the various mostly-fermentation-related kitchen things I’ve been up to. I’d originally planned on walking through all of them here, but it was eating a LOT of space, so I made them their own post.
 
I recently spent a lovely evening out with a friend in Gatineau Park, nattering about all sorts of things, and I wound up lending her Starhawk’s Earth Path and chatting with her about earth based spirituality stuff, and I’m excited for that kind of shop-talk to continue.
I like shop-talk about religious stuff. Especially with other people who tend to be a bit DIY about it. I love chatting about land-connection and animism – figuring out How To Animism, when you were raised in a religion that didn’t have a lot of immanence going on; figuring out how to navigate recognizing the personhood of your food, or the made objects around your house; figuring out how to recognize the overlapping physical and not-so-physical worlds without (a) totally reinventing the wheel, OR (b) appropriating practices from cultures whose traditional animism is considerably more recently-interrupted (or uninterrupted) than your own. All that stuff.
So it was nice to get to do with someone in person. 🙂
 
Tarot Card Meditation:
It’s Cancer Season, as-you-know-bob, and there was a partial solar eclipse yesterday evening. I have to tell you, we’ve been having a stressful couple of weeks here at House Of Goat, and I was a little nervous about what I was going to pull for my meditation card today.
 
Tarot of the Silicon Dawn Egypt Urnash Maya (Card 8.5) An intersex babe having some fun D/s sexytimes with her two lovers/submissives. My kind of card.

Tarot of the Silicon Dawn
Egypt Urnash
Maya (Card 8.5)
An intersex babe having some fun D/s sexytimes with her two lovers/submissives.
My kind of card.


 
So it was kind of fantastic to have this card literally leap out of the deck for me.
Maya is card eight-and-a-half, one of the Silicon Dawn’s bonus/weirdo cards. Egypt’s write-up says that this card is the “bastard child of The Devil and the High Priestess”. All the things you’re afraid to meet in the underworld (or your own unconscious mind). All the things you want but aren’t supposed to. What are you trying to tell yourself? What would be fulfilling, pleasurable, connecting right now?
I seriously feel like this was basically “Oh my gawd! Don’t be so gloomy all the time! It’s the weekend! It’s summer! You’re going on a road trip and know how to make your own booze! Have a fucking party for once!”
 
This message dovetails pretty nicely with Chani’s horoscope for Scorpio right now, with its reminder to choose that which stirs my soul, lifts my spirits, and gives me a reason to keep pushing through the hard parts.
And they – Chani and Maya, both – are right. Freaking out isn’t going to solve any problems. And I am going on a road trip (or, well, a day-trip, but still). Heart palpitations about money, and emails to send to the minister of education, will still be there on Monday. I get to have fun, spend some time with my wife, visit my friends and my in-town-for-48-hours brother, eat ice cream and drink home-made wine.
Let this weekend be something beautiful, restorative, and good.
Thanks, tarot cards. ❤
 
~*~
 
Movement: Lots of walking, and a small amount of yard-work in someone else’s yard, but that’s about it.
 
Attention: I have to admit, a LOT of my attention is on the sky right now. Will it rain? At last? Will it not? :-\ Fingers crossed!
 
Gratitude: Grateful for reprieves. For a break in the heat (a bit). For the hope of rain, even if it hasn’t fallen yet. For friends who send money, treat us to meals out, drop off spare food, pass on hand-me-downs and boots-to-good-homes, or otherwise help us make ends meet, and make life feel like it can still be something more than austerity-all-the-time, when things are hard. For friends who listen and help us keep some focus when we’re freaking out, too. Grateful for pink and purple and blue and orange and yellow flowers. For bumble bees in the morning sun. For coffee with my wife on the steps. For a borrowed car and the chance to get out of the city for a day. For summer warmth and sunshine. For new library books. For reminders to pay attention to the pleasurable, the holy, and the joyful.
 
Inspiration: Resilient weedy greens. Flowers that bloom despite the sun that’s kind of frying them to a crisp. (I know. They’re blooming all the harder for it, and I know why. Don’t spoil my happy though, ‘kay?) Also finding inspiration on other people’s blogs, folks who are canning, fermenting, making salsa and wine out of excess rhubarb, or dying fibre using red cabbage, onion skins, hibiscus flowers, and the soaking water from black beans… and also using koolade and vinegar, because that works, too.
 
Creation: A little bit of knitting. Some clothing repairs. Writing a few thousand words on my “spite fic” of an attempt at a YA novel. A couple of new poems. Nothing huge, but things are in the works. 😉

Where Has The Nail Polish Remover Gone? – Pagan Experience 2015

Okay.
So we have People.
Every so often, something – usually from my wife’s workshop (becaus eshe has a lot of cool stuff, but maybe also because a lot of said stuff is ancient technology), but sometimes from elsewhere – will randomly go missing. For an hour. Sometimes for a couple of days. And then it’ll be back, right where we’d last seen it, right where we’d check however-often in the interveining span of time during-which it was resolutely Not There.
 
I’ve heard people talking about how the fairies, or the houseweights, or some other subsection of the house-spirit population, stole their keys or otherwise messed with their stuff, so it’s not really shocking that this would happen to us, as well.
 
I guess what I’m wondering is “Why do they want this stuff?” And why, perhaps more to the point, do I think it makes sense for them to want some of the stuff – hand tools, for example – but not other stuff, like the titular nail polish remover. Is it just because it’s pretty? Blue? A weird set of chemicals to experiment with? Is it becasue I use it fairly regularly, and they wanted to check it out? Is it because they want me to notice them?
 
I have no freaking idea. O.O
 
In chatting with my wife about this, we’ve concluded that (a) it’s really great that at least everything always comes back, and also (b) that nothing additional comes back with it. Because that would be even weirder and more disconcerting.
 
Anyone reading this have similar experiences? Does asking for the swift return of items get them back any faster? Thoughts? Suggestions?
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Caring for The Land Beneath My Feet – The Pagan Experience 2015

For me, this is literally the ground beneath my feet and, right now, she’s frozen solid and buried under many feet of snow.
None the less, things are still happening. That’s Imbolg for you, amirite? 😉
My wife was talking to her dad the other day, and passed along his advice to me: Start your leeks and onions now so that they’ll be big enough to plant out in May.
I admit that I wasn’t actually planning on growing onions or leeks this year (or potentially any year, but that’s another story). But I’m looking forward to planting cucumbers, winter squash, beans, and cold-weather crops like kale and chard once May rolls around, and to buying (yes, buying) tomato starts (and possibly other nightshades, we’ll see how much room I have available) as well.
I feel like a significant part of my Path is something along the lines of Land Guardianship – and that’s a mouthful when you’re a white chick in North America (Kitigan Zibi Territory, Turtle Island, specifically) to be kind to the land, “walk lightly” as the saying goes, use less plastic, buy less New Stuff in lieu second-hand stuff (or just No Stuff – there’s a concept), to avoid poisoning the ground and make compost instead.
I’m nowhere near perfect. Probably not even adequate, if the past 4-5 months are any indication, but you get back on the horse, so to speak, and pick it up again.
 
Cultivate biodiversity in your yard & your neighbourhood
Feed the soil
Oppose Big Oil
Support Indigenous people doing what they need to do[1]
Give warm socks to homeless shelters and drop-ins
Buy food from ethical-sustainable farmers in your general area
Heck, if you’re able to do so, maybe buy non-perishable food from ethical-sustainable farmers in your general area (or at least your province) and donate them to a foodbank in your general area, too
 
We are part of the land. Part of – only part of, but part of – caring for the land, is caring for its human population. Everything overlaps and links together.
Which is kind of the point, I think.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Sometimes that’s donating to a shelter (like the one on Redeau Street that just lost its funding), sometimes it’s buying work by indigenous artists, sometimes it’s signing petitions and/or writing to MPs demanding something actually get done about the legion of missing & murdered indigenous women & girls in this country. That’s three things. There are a zillion more. Go find them.

(Getting Beyond) Humanity – The Pagan Experience

This is a weird one for me, I have to admit, because “humanity” is, for me, linked to “human population” rather than to the term “humane”. It’s strange, because a significant part of my paganism is about expanding my idea of “community” or “neighbourhood” or “people” to include considerably more than just the human membership.
None the less, I’ll see what I can do with this.
If I take “humanity” to mean “humane-ness”… Well, the most obvious part of that is Good Witching – which I’ve written about plenty already (here’s one of them, if you like), but which boils down to looking out for your neighbours and generally being kind and compassionate, even with people who try your patience. The other part is… well, this is me, right? So: Where does your food come from? I’m still a day or two away from placing my Meat CSA order, but my lovely wife and I have decided to go with this option for, basically, Religious Reasons. If we’re going to eat people – bovine and porcine and avian people – we’d best be making sure they had a good, kind, decent life before they died in order to end up on our table and in our stomachs[1]. Likewise, where does your non-animal-kingdom food come from? Were the farmers paid fairly for their produce & their labour? Were the veggies and fruit trees and mushrooms wild-gathered? Were they raised in healthy soil (particularly if it’s soil that you’re working, yourself)? Were they fed a lot of harsh chemicals?
It basically boils down to: Are you treading lightly on the ground that sustains you? Are you being good to your Neighbours?
Are you?
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] To that end we’ve started eating “vegetarian inspired” food – meaning more food where the protein component comes from beans and grains and nuts, even if the mirpoix is fried in lard, and the beans and grains are cooked in bone-stock – a few times per week, in order to stretch the half-share a little better (and also for a couple of other reasons). The half-share works out, by a conservative estimate, to about 2lbs/week which… I can make stretch across four meals, certainly, though I’d be happier stretching across half of that. I figure if I follow my “some is better than none” principal, I can supplement the half-share with meat from other sources – sausages from the fancy/humane place up the street (which won’t be cheaper, I’m very well aware); fish from the river if I manage to catch any this July; free-run rabbits from the Rabbit Lady; as well as from ethically-okay-ish sources like the Free From brand of pork roasts that I can pick up at the grocery store if I’m so inclined.

Personal Practice – Pagan Experience 2015

So my personal practice is somewhat lacadaisical at best.
I have an altar/shrine in my living room that I (ostensibly) light candles at every Friday – a practice that developed partially in conjunction with setting aside time to write three years worth of PBP posts, but also because it gave me an opportunity to almost-meditatively focus on My Hearth and the holiness there-in[1]. I do New Moon Pizza (more or less – I admit the past four months have NOT involved me making pizza dough in ANY way) that features home preserves plus whatever left-over critter (frequently pork shoulder roast, sometimes rabbit or chicken or some kind of cured meat) I have in the fridge and any veggies I can haul out of the garden/freezer/fridge/etc at the time. I do little magics – enchanted baths & makeup, candle spells and honey pots, sigils (lately, at least), and Writing Things Into Being (which works surprisingly… at all, really. Go me?). I try to practice Good Witching in the Terry Pratchett sense of the word – activities that are more in line with grassroots activism than with religious ritual per se, but which still fall under the heading of “village witch” when your village has rainbow flags and homeless kids all over it.
 
In spite of that, I think within my worldview pretty consistently. I’m not a “holy days pagan” in that particular regard, even if my rituals and devotions don’t look like much. I get to know The Neighbours – the non-human (and human) people in the neighbourhood where I live. Learning which local plants I can eat (and where I can harvest them so that I’m not also eating a heap of lead – this is key), which ones make a good dye, and which ones are good for which magics. It also means paying attention to who gets my attention (like how naturalized Catnip kept calling to my sight all last spring and summer, until I went and found out what it was) and trying to figure out why this or that plant is calling to me. It means eating what grows here and growing – now that I have the opportunity to do so – at least some of what we eat. It means greeting the bees, the crows, the spiers, the pigeons, and whoever else happens to be around (like the homeless people, the nieghbourhood friends, and the folks I used to share a building with… just as a for-instance).
 
So that’s a start for what my particular practice looks like. Next week, I’ll (re-)introduce my particular pantheon and talk a little about some of the specific Spirits in my life.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] I do a thing called Fabulous Friday Dinner that, in significant part, is meant to signal The Weekend to my work-from-hom brain, but which is also a way to nicely usher it in for my works-two-jobs wife AND a means for me to learn how to cook leftovers-producing pot-dishes that will keep us fed for 2-3 meals in a row (not counting extras for lunches, which is part for the course). But this is also a time to water the house plants, do a little home-maintenance, make the bread for the following week, read (or listen) up on other Pagan Stuff via the interwebs, and generally give myself a day to study and focus when the rest of thew eek needs to be focuses somewhat elsewhere (like on my erswhile novel, or on hustling for modeling gigs).