Category Archives: Crafting

Big-C Crafting, Little-C Crafting, Moving Your Body, and Unblocking Your Magic

As I’m writing this, people I care about are making their way towards my city (and, in a couple of case, my house) for a Leather Family Reunion of sorts. I’ll be bringing my handspinning with me (again, and along with a couple of big vats of food because: this is me we’re talking about) in order to soak up some of The Fam into the yarn I’m spinning (and spinning, and spinning… I’ve been doing this for most of a year now and, possibly because I’ve been deliberately felting the yearn when I wash it, I’m still not finished my various shawl stripes and keep needing to generate more yarn to get the lengths right…).
For a brief little bit (like a couple of hours – there was, to my relief, a bit of a crossed wire there) I was on the hook for a short-notice workshop/craft-and-chatter-session about the work of one’s hands and how it relates to Power (in the kink sense) and also Power (in the spirituality sense).
 
My personal unified theory of How I Function Best has a lot to do with how (and if) I move around. Given that I spend a tonne of my time ensconsed on a couch, or in a chair (less frequently), typing away at All The Things, this may explain why it’s so easy for me to become despondent and generally get bogged down the Swamp of the Psyche (if you’re familiar with Brene Brown, you will probably alreqdy know that this means Shame).
Doing things with my hands – and, more generally, working my body – is a way to combat/avoid this, yes. But It’s the WHY of it that gets my attention from a Witchy perspective. Dancing, singing, blending yin and yang (hatha) yoga, going walking, working in the garden, doing handicrafts, doing the chopping/kneading/general-prep of a slow-cooking meal, even hand-cranking our little, borrowed laundry pod… all of that stuff helps to get my Energy moving freely. No blockages. It shakes off the random, yet never-ending, tiredness. It helps me direct my own energy (practically and magically) towards whatever goals I happen to be wrestling with at the time.
 
I realize that this probably sounds pretty Artists-Way-y, but there it is. Move your body, make things with your hands, and you (or at least I) will find it easier to make things (create things, create changes, make things happen) with your mind and your magic.

Advertisements

New Moon – Ice Moon Begins

Ye fucking gods, it’s cold out.
Which is not to say that it’s actually that cold – if you’re out of the wind, the sun is beautifully warm – but my 10-minute walk home from the bus has left me shivering and icey on the inside an hour after getting in the door. O.O
That’s Ice Moon for you. The time of killing cold, numb fingers, and dressing very, very carefully against the weather.
Which, in a round-about way, brings me to Glamoury.
Yes, kids, I’m still getting to know my way around the Glamoury tool kit, but deep winter isn’t helping a whole lot. I have been gifted a gorgeous, full-length (almost ankle length on me) black winter coat with a fur collar, which I’m feeling kind of chuffed about. I may toss that one on to run my errands this afternoon, just because I can. Most days, though, I’m wearing my Dad’s old leather coat (the one that needs the button holes tightened up) paired with my zombie boots[1], colourful OTK socks, the lilac insulated vest a friend gave me (and that makes a hell of a difference, warmth-wise[2]), plus whatever warm (ish?) layers I can throw on when I have to leave the house.
Glamourous it is NOT.
I have to ask myself who I want to impress. ‘Cause I don’t think I’m impressing anyone – with the possible exception of the artists for-whom I work as a model (and that’s important, y’all!) since they tend to favour people whose clothing is as paint-spattered as their own – with my three-day-old tank top and messy skirt.
Yeah.
Winter often feels like the time where you Just Get Through It and don’t think too hard about doing it with flair. None the less… worth it to give it a try.
 
Last Lunar Cycle, I wrote about sorting out what’s firming up versus what’s not quite holding its shape.
Now, as Ice Moon kicks off, I’m happy to say that one of my projects is also getting off the ground – we’ll see if it works out as a paid gig, BUT I think I’ve managed to get over the worst part of the learning curve (go me) – or at least the worst part of the first learning curve, which is probably more accurate – and have some idea of how to keep the momentum building, which is good.
I’ve taken the next step on my Summer Project, which is good (that particular corner of it is now a waiting game). I still haven’t done much Kundalini yoga, though I think I will have the opportunity to do so tomorrow – thank goodness. I’m slowly getting over the bronchial crud that had me laid out two weeks ago, but it’s still lingering. Between that and (thank goodness) the modeling work that’s been coming my way, most of my physical activity has consisted of holding poses, or else making my way up the stairs (to blow my nose) or down the stairs (to boil the kettle again).
I’m getting a better handle on What I Want, even if it’s not totally firmed up yet.
 
That thing that Gordon does, the exercise where you come up with your Perfect Day and then work magic (and action) to make it real? I’ve started thinking of my Perfect Day in fairly broad terms like:
Make good food
Make good art
Keep good company
Do something sensual
Do something physical, preferably outdoors, ideally in the Garden (when weather allows)
Do something crafty/Crafty
Get paid for something
It’s still pretty fumbly.
Today, I’ve modeled (something physical and part of making good art, even if it isn’t exactly mine) and have errands to run (also physical, since I’ll be walking them). Submitted my time sheets for the past three modeling engagements (get paid for something), and I’ll be hosting a couple of people for a yack about Power Exchange stuff later this evening. (After I make bread and, most likely, pizza – AKA Good Food). Tomorrow I’ll be making earrings (do something crafty + get paid for something), hitting up a Kundalini class (something physical, something sensual), and working on a couple of pervy performance art projects. My “something sensual” will probably be a hot bath scented and charged with ylang ylang, cloves, and cocoa absolut. Because who doesn’t love that?
In the meantime, though, I need to get myself sorted. I’ve still got errands to run and sigils to redraw.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] What am I saying? They’re pretty much ALL zombie boots at this point.
 
[2] I never thought I’d wear one of these. Seriously. We’d get the ultra-puffy version in, every October, at the store I used to work at, and it was just “Eugh. This year’s Hideous Vest for Fall…” But they’re actually really helpful, if you can keep them out of sight. I find myself wondering if I could make myself something similar, but cut a little more appropriately, and using a tone-on-tone black fabric – like a herringbone or a brocade or something – for the world-facing side, just to make it look a little more sophisticated and a little less “ski camp escapee”. It could happen. Maybe. I’ve got enough sewing projects on the go (and languishing, unfinished, more to the point) right now that taking up another one might be a bad idea. But we’ll see. Keep it in mind for next year.

U is for Un-Covered and Up-Cycling – Pagan Blog Project 2014

Maybe this is a silly way to go about this, but here we go. I’m currently lacking an altar cloth. This isn’t typically a huge big deal because, for the past seven years, I’ve had multiple small altars all over the house and have put them on surfaces that I’m not worried about over-heating or getting wet.
This time around, though, I’m putting everybody in (more or less) the same place – in part so that, when I have the altars lit, I don’t have to keep running up the stairs to make sure the top floor hasn’t inadvertently caught fire.
But my new altar/shrine space is on top of my fancy marquetry cabinet, and I do not want to wreck that lovely surface.
Consequently, I’m kind of in the market for an altar cloth.
You want to know what I’m considering?
Our new fridge? Rather than putting in the two bottom drawers, we’re just going to slide a Rubbermaid bin into the bottom of the fridge[1]. So we’ve got a piece of glass shelving just… sitting around, available.
So I’m thinking I’ll grab one of my many, MANY shawls – probably the white one that was my grandmother’s (she may or may not have woven it herself, I’m not sure) – and use that as an altar cloth, which I’ll then cover with the glass shelf, so that the fabric and the wood are both covered with a fire-and-water-proof medium that I can put candles and incense on, and that I can wash easily when I need to.
This feels both brilliant-creative (‘cause it is) and a bit silly/opportunistic because… fridge parts? Really? But cooking and preserving are a huge part of my life and my religiosity, so having a piece of a refrigerator incorporated into my altar doesn’t seem entirely out of place, even as it does seem a little… I dunno… like I’m going to wind up in one of those lists of signs that you’re a “red neck”[2] pagan.
In any case, that’s what I’m planning.
On with the washing of the fridge parts!
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] We’ll see how well that works… um… I’ll keep you posted.
 
[2] I know. And also, really… It still fits. Broke. Prone to fermenting my own ale in a large, plastic bucket and making my altar candles out of re-purposed bacon grease, I have totally used a chicken leg as a wand. Yes, actually, that’s me. On with the fridge!

T is for Tools – Pagan Blog Project 2014

Everything Important Has A Name.
This is something that my wife taught me, though I’m not sure if she just picked it up through observation, or if one of the those Dutch cabinet-makers who taught her carpentry also taught her this but, either way, every time she gets a new tool, particularly if it’s a tool with moving parts, she tells me the names of all the parts and, frequently, the name of the specific tool as well. All the sewing machines have names that they’ve told her as she’s used them.
My wife just bought me an antique Walking Wheel, which is a kind of spinning wheel that doesn’t have a treadle (you turn the big wheel by hand, and the big wheel turns a much, MUCH smaller wheel which, in turn (ha!) turns the spindle and spins the yarn/thread and you go) and which is the kind of wheel that Sleeping Beauty would have pricked her finger on, around about 800 years ago. Typically, this would have no “fly wheel” – the kind of thing with hooks to help keep the spun thread lining up on the spindle all at once – and would have a spindle that was, essentially, a great big nail that you could absolutely hurt yourself on. That said, since mine is missing its spindle, we’ll see what we can come up with as we go.
She is probably around 200 years old, though I could be wrong (and it looks like a couple of her legs have been replaced over the years). She might be the type that the Shakers tended to make. The big wheel turns the little wheel. The little wheel is called the Mother Of All, and she – supported by two delicate posts who are called The Maidens, turns the spindle, which twists the yarn as it spins. I can’t help wanting to call the big wheel the Crone or the Grandmother, though I know that’s not its proper name.
I put my hand on that big, bent oak Wheel, and she told me, very clearly, “Sarah”.
My spinning wheel’s name is Sarah.
Everything important has a name.

Q is for Quilt – Pagan Blog Project 2014

So, as-you-know-bob, there’s a tonne of stuff out there (relatively speaking, at least) about spinning and yarn as can be used in magic – spinning for trance work in Seide, for example, or using yarn (hand-spun or not) for binding or other knot-magical purposes. But, being as I’ve started sewing more of my own clothes of late, and being as one off-shoot of that is that I’ve got a small (thank goodness) but growing (er…) bag of scrap fabric sitting in my craft cabinet, I’ve started wondering if quilting isn’t somewhere in my near future. To that end, I have started wondering how quilting can be turned to magical purposes.
I mean, there’s the obvious stuff – stitching pieces of people’s old clothes together in the form of patch-work is a way of binding them together, strengthening family ties, and so-on – but I’m wondering what else it can do.
 
Creating quilts as devotional art, for example, by choosing colours and patterns that would appeal or depict your patron deities. Quilting wall-hangings that fit with a given seasonal rite as it pertains to your own bioregion. The act (and final product) of quilting as a multi-layered means of ancestor remembrance/connection – both as a skill-set and with regards to which fabrics get used. Using the pattern of stitches to, say, cursive-write a spell directly into the quilt without “lifting your pencil” (that would actually be really difficult, since quilts are on the big side and needles tend to need re-threading multiple times during the quilting process). Including specific elements/components in the quilt’s stuffing or stitching different stone beads into a quilted wall-hanging might also apply.
 
Right now, the fabric scraps I have are bits of various wedding dresses (mine and my wife’s) plus some scrap fabric from a dress I made for myself, and the odd shirt or two that I’ve tailored. Not a whole lot to work with, spell-wise, but using scraps of my own clothes – stuff I’ve made for myself because I wanted something specific to fit my needs and my desires – could be a great way to quilt a glamour spell for myself, for example, using the quilted fabric (with or without some sort of warming in-between layer) to create a magical dress or skirt for myself – in the same way that I’m creating a Fetish Shawl for myself out of yarn that I’ve hand-spun and then knit into various stripes – and treating it as a means to stitch bits of my empowered, desirous Self back together.
 
Might be worth a shot.
 
Thoughts on quilting magic? Ever tried it? How did it go?
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

New Moon – Serviceberry Moon Begins

Well, the serviceberries were ready to be harvested as of yesterday, if not slightly earlier. Say hello to two weeks of fresh, delicious berries, folks! 😀
Continue reading

H is for Handicrafts (Clan Tartan Edition) – Pagan Blog Project 2014

Moving right along, and going for another two-posts-in-one slingshot, we have Handicrafts. I’ve written before about how fibre arts, kitchen craft, and other such things are ways for me to connect with my ancestors, so this is nothing new on that front.
However I wanted to share my latest bit handicrafting, which is adding another layer to that connection.
 
See, my latest weaving project – the reason I wanted to learn to weave in the first place, no less – is the weaving of my family tartan.
 

Purple and green with black and red accents.  My loom is only wide enough to do half the warping pattern at a time, but I'll get there eventually. :-D

Purple and green with black and red accents. My loom is only wide enough to do half the warping pattern at a time, but I’ll get there eventually. 😀


 
I (re-)warped the loom this morning and did one (wefting) cycle of the colour pattern.
That’s how you weave a tartan. The warping pattern and the wefting pattern are the same, and you get the complicated interweaving by using a variety of colours in a simple (1-2-1-2) up-down alternating pattern, rather than by using a complex mix of warping levels – which would require either a more complex loom or – in my case – a more complex understanding of how to weave using a more complex loom (as my loom can do four+ heddle “levels” at a time… apparently).
 
My paternal grandmother was a weaver. The tartan I’m weaving belongs to my paternal grandfather’s line. The line that bears my name. My paternal grandmother was Beligan/German/Scottish. My paternal grandfather was Scottish. My maternal lines were English, Irish and Scottish (and I have Plans to do a weaving of my mother’s clan (her family line is a sept of a particular clan) tartan as well, but I want to do this one, first).
 
When I was a kid, I had a kilt in my clan tartan. By the time I hit puberty it was too small for me, but I’ve wanted to have one ever since. My plan for this hand-weaving is to make a garment that is part tartan and part leather, with the two pieces joined (and edged) with a thin (1″-2″) strip of black leather. I’ll get my lovely wife to do the sewing on it, I suspect, and – most likely – I’ll throw in a cotton/broadcloth lining (so not really a kilt, but something of that ilk).
 
My wife said to me today: You might be the first person in your line, in two hundred years, to weave the family tartan.
And I might be.
Of course there’s that small situation where the Clan Tartans are a “noble savage” fabrication by the Brits, connected with a Scottish fabric mill that named its different tartan patterns – somewhat randomly – after highland and lowland clans (and a number of other things, such as towns) and that this was going on about 200 years ago. Before that, Scottish folks wore tartan, to be sure, but they weren’t specific to any given clan. The wearing of tartan was forbidden by the English crown in the mid-1700s because of its associations with Scottish nationalism – that bit’s true – but my people in the West Marches and near Whiteadder (about 3 hours by bicycle, or a day-and-a-half by horse-drawn wagon, from Edinburgh) didn’t have tartans specific to their family-names until about 1815.
 
So it’s more likely that I’m the only person in my family line (barring anyone who worked in the mills for William Wilson & Sons (which, being located in Banockburn, an being therefore rather a ways from our traditional lands, so probably didn’t employ many, if any, of my ancestors) to have woven my family tartan.
Non the less, I hope they like that I’m doing it, that I’m thinking of them and glad to have them in my history and on my side. 🙂
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.