Okay. So the final Activity for Chapter Three of Seeking the Mystery is to read one or more of the recommended essays and blog posts provided by the author and to explore how the writers’ experiences and values relate to your own. I’m not 100% sure I’ve done this one right, but here we go.
The writers’ experiences were both familiar. More-so Gus’s, since I’ve never experienced spirit-possession “from the inside”, the way Lydia does, but I’m familiar with Aspecting (having Someone “along for the ride” without them doing the driving), know a LOT of god-touched people, and have been lucky in my practice to have found a rag-tag bunch of people for-whom deities are part of the community and sometimes part of the literal family.
Gus’ statement that Gods Exist, whether or not specific individuals experience their presence or want to interact with them feels very Granny Weatherwax. It reminds me of how one of my nearest and dearest approaches the presence of her own Lady in her life and it feels very in line with the matter-of-fact ways that my other extended queer-pagan community talks about interacting with various deities. “So-and-So has been sniffing around”, “I checked in with _______________ the other day”, “[Deity] told me to tell you she wants Boiled Water”.
I kind of love it, I don’t mind telling you.
I have “gods in law” in that both of my partners have very direct (not romantic, but direct) relationships with specific deities. But also – while I do, sometimes, wonder if my… pretty casual way of relating to the divine, in their many forms, is… disrespectful? Like, if they’re hanging out on the other side of the veil and rolling their eyes at the way I lean around the corner to inform All And Sundry on someone else’s altar that “It’s gonna be delicious!” like they’re my aunties and uncles in another room – I want that kind of casual, friendly, familial relationship with the holy. Possibly because of how frighteningly powerful they actually are.
I do want to be safe in these interactions. To know that my circuits won’t be fried (to use a phrase from “Becoming a Horse”) and that what sacrifices are required of me are ones I can withstand and get through without regretting them. Plus, in the way pre-Christian kings in what is now England traced their family lines through deities and how Romans used familial terms like “Grandfather” when addressing their gods, there is a kind of doting, loving respect built into “Auntie” that makes “Ma’am” feel inappropriate?
I don’t know. Maybe that’s weird.
I, too, was surprised – although maybe I shouldn’t have been, particularly as a not-that-sensitive-to-this-stuff human – to find out that lots of people who are Pagan have NOT had direct interactions with deities or other non-corporeal/multi-corporeal People. That surprises me.
Maybe that surprise is due to my having become a baby witchlet in the mid-1990s, when “Pagan” was equal parts joke and threat to the culturally (and sometimes religiously practicing) Christian status quo. Why would someone convert away from their religion of origin, to a marginalized and often maligned faith, with NOTHING to go on, when they could just be a secular humanist or a Unitarian and not have to worry about rocks being thrown through your windows or staying religiously closeted.
As far as things that felt off-putting or “repelling”… really, only the instance in “Becoming A Horse” where the author implies that a body is kind of disposable. Which she may not have even been doing. But the “body as vehicle” rather than “body as self” thing is jarring for me. My body is as much “me” as my multi-part soul is “me” and the whole “wearing a meat suit” thing has never really sat well with me.
Outside of that, things like up pretty okay with my own values and expectations through both essays. I appreciate the pluralism, the “anyone can do this (mostly)”, how both essays present direct interaction with deities and other non-corporeal/multi-corporeal People as accessible and desirable while leaving room for people to kind of choose their own adventure and making it clear that going deep into this stuff… can be hard on your body, rewire your brain, and you would probably benefit from having guidance/training from someone who’s been doing the same thing for longer and has more experience.
Like: Don’t be College Giles. Don’t get high on demon possession without having a babysitter who knows how to kick them out if things get weird.
Maybe I’m reading a lot into that.
Anyway. I wrote a whole, long, rambling thing (as is not unusual for me) where I was basically just reacting to the essays and: TBH, I think the reason I chose the ones I did was because they looked like they would be familiar and dovetail well with my own cosmology. But I look at the various options presented, and I think they all would have done so.
I think the only way they really differ, if they differ at all, is the degree of “exercise caution when getting in touch with deities” that’s in there. Which isn’t even that much. It’s more of a “know your limit, play within it” kind of thing.
The second Activity at the end of Chapter 3 is… in the book, which is back at home (I’m visiting my girlfriend – everything is in flower here, and it’s beautiful). So I’m saving that for Part Three. But the third Activity, provided I’m remembering it right, is the suggestion that readers/students add more devotion – in the sense of altar-building, ritual action, prayer – to their days and… see what that’s like.
I do a (roughly) daily ritual of Moon Salutation. It accomplishes a bunch of things – stretching out my hips before bed so that I can get up and walk easily the next morning, yes, but also giving me a couple of minutes to (try to) focus my mind on my Lady of Song, Poetry, and Queerness, and to take a little bit of time to reach out and say hello and thank you to my recent (actually met them in life) ancestors, my Godself, my Fetch, and the Neighbours with-whom I share my house and who collectively provide for me and mine as a Bioregion.
Partially in response to this activity prompt, and partly just because I’ve been wondering since August 2020 how best I can honour the Amazons given that I’m not likely to take up HEMA any time soon. I made a necklace – amazonite and moonstone – last summer, as something that I could touch or wear that would make me think of them. But I wanted to do something else. Throwing money at a trans-inclusive org that promotes girls’ athletics was one option I considered, and may revisit, but what I decided would work better as… as a thing that I’m not just doing on automatic, a thing that isn’t just “fix it and forget it” the way a lot of money donations can be… I decided to incorporate doing a push-up into my regular Moon Salutations specifically because making my body stronger is a way to honour these very strong women who claimed me. My queer aunties of blood and spirit.
Now: To be clear: I’m not actually able to do even one push-up. Yet. Right now it’s more like moving from Heart Melting Pose to something between Sphinx Pose and a knee push-up – shins and forearms on the ground, everything else up – and then bending my arms and keeping my core as solid as I can until my nose touches my fists, or gets as close to that as I can do that particular day.
It’s not a real push-up. It is something I’m actually capable of that adds a little tiny bit more strength to my arms and core every time I do it. And when I do it, I say Hi. It’s a very small thing, but it’s a thing that I do on the regular, and I’m glad I’ve added it to the daily devotionals that I already do.
Something that is less daily, but that still feels good to do, and that I’m really glad to have the option to do it, is that I started (last Beltane, after my lovely wife found the first of them and pointed it out to me) visiting my local seasonal alters at the quarter and cross-quarter days. Sometimes I bring one or both of my partners. Often, I just pop down by myself. Sometimes I dress fancy, other times I just wear whatever is weather appropriate. But I tend to bring home-baking and fancy drinks and I take a minute to drop my roots down and say Hi again.
It feels a little bit like that scene in My Neighbour Totoro where they go to pay their respects to the Forest in the formal and formalized, but also very matter-of-fact way. Something that’s a little out of the way, but not terribly so, and not something that takes a lot of prep or a long time to do. You just have to bother.
So I bother. And it feels good to do.
Some stuff I want to bring up around this:
I stopped beating myself up for missing a day (or a week or, in the case of my wrecking my knee trying to skateboard a few weeks before last Midsummer, six entire freaking months) because I figured out years ago that feeling guilty about it just made me avoid doing The Thing for longer. So all of this stuff – including, for example, making an offering of apple velvet galette and red wine at the Spring Stone for Equinox but NOT doing the same thing on my own house altar because: about to get on a plane and not wanting to leave something out that would attract fruit flies – is very much a “Start fresh every day” kind of deal.
I only very rarely FEEL the presence of the People I’m reaching out to when I’m doing this stuff. And, most of the time that I do pick up on something, it’s an unspecified “rocking in the spirit” situation rather than a very specific Person getting in touch, reaching back to connect. Sometimes that feels a little bit sad, or like “What am I doing wrong”. But, at this point, I’ve just figured out that this is how this stuff works most of the time, when you are a Very Grounded bunker like I am. I still think it’s important to do, and I’m still glad that I do it.
Which… doesn’t mean that I don’t get All The Feels when I’m actively trying to do stuff, or invite People in, or what have you, and I don’t experience much of anything, or when I’m trying to enter a trance (or semi-trance?) state and just kind of failing. I definitely also do that. But:
On the subject of “add more devotional practices” as an activity prompt: It’s something that I definitely like doing. We’re a meaning-making species (look at the whole Dadaist movement, for example), and doing these small, easy-to-maintain little rituals on a regular, reliable basis, gives a little more shape to my days and my years which – especially two years into a pandemic where time has largely lost all meaning – is helpful in terms of structuring my life, but also helpful in terms of letting me touch on Something More in a way that’s… kind of scheduled, almost? Like I can’t just forget about it, because it’s built in and, tbh, because if I don’t do it – at least with the Moon Salutations – my body will remind me very loudly of why it’s a good idea to go through the physical motions and, at that point, since I’m already making the time to do the thing, I might as well do all the non-physical bits, too. And so I do.
Have I managed to turn every Sunday into a day of religious contemplation in the past six months? No. But I’m doing it considerably more frequently than I was when I first twigged to how much I liked making that time and space. Do I manage to quiet my brain and actually focus on my Gods during Moon Salutation every night? Not by a long shot. There’s usually a song in my head, or some kind of distracting thoughts swirling around for at least part of it. But I’m still doing it. I can still bring my brain back to “think of the moon in the sky” and focus on Her for a little bit, and then a little bit more. And that little bit more, and then a little bit more than that, is kind of how you build a practice. Even twenty-five years in.
Woops. I thought I’d posted this a month+ ago, and it turns out it was still in my drafts. So here we go:
So Chapter Three is called “Knowledge and Devotion” but, while it definitely covers things like initiatory & mystery traditions vs not-so-much, Personal Gnosis (verified or otherwise), and various kinds of devotional activities, the author also spends some time talking about community and the internet.
Look. I have to admit, I had some Feelings about the part of the chapter that touched on “learning from a book” and “The Internet” vs multi-generational religious communities.
The book was published 10 years ago. Long form blogging was still a big deal and social media As We Know It Now was just ramping up (I am so wondering what she makes of Witchtok…). She wasn’t wrong about people preferring their online communications to come in forms they could tightly control due to the hostility of the environment. Like, the block button is definitely My Friend. And I see the generational siloing that happens in, e.g., queer communities, and I can understand why this is a concern for her.
At the same time… part of me is just like: Okay, but almost all of my teachers have been people I found thanks to online communities, including the local people who I’m still in touch with, who I first met in the mid-1990s, during the internet’s infancy. The ritual group I’ve practiced with for the longest, I’m able to practice with at all thanks to them broadcasting their rituals over the internet.
There are plenty of days where I crave that community, where I want to be able to “go to church” in person / locally (and not be the only one who gave 2 minutes thought to what would go on the altar or what the ritual was about – why am I reading theology books again?), and to have immersive, communal religious experiences that don’t require me to sleep in a tent for a week surrounded by relentless drumming and mosquitos.
I know that paganism – in the sense of a giant faith-umbrella with a LOT of religions under it that have enough overlapping reads on the world(s) that they can hang out together – is still largely made up of converts, even though there are definitely multi-generational pagan families out there. I can’t help thinking of Christianity, which has been around for thousands of years, and wondering about their first few centuries, before one Roman emperor converted and made it politically fashionable/expedient to be Christian (let alone another emperor, a hundred or so years later, making it illegal to be anything else). I mean, it was an apocalyptic cult that was expecting the end of the world Any Day Now and kind of discouraging its membership from having kids on that basis.
So I find it a little… almost alarmist, maybe? When someone – and Christine Hoff Kraemer isn’t “Some Boomer” who came up in the 1970s’ counter culture, lamenting about Ye Goode Olde Days before the internet existed, she looks about my age, if not slightly younger and manages the Pagan section of Patheos.com – is Having Concerns about the neopagan movement’s sustainability, given that it hasn’t been around for very long.
If we decide to trace the lineage of Anglophone Neopaganism back to Gerald Gardner’s British Traditional Wicca, then “neopaganism” as a movement is only about a hundred years old. And the first sixty of those – kind of arbitrary, again, but I’m thinking of the 1979-82 explosion of goddess spirituality literature that made stuff like this available through something other than word-of-mouth – were done entirely on the quiet. (How did anyone find a Coven to join, when nobody used their real names to practice their faith, and you had to be very sure someone was both trustworthy and into it before you invited them to a ceremony? Like, Outer Courts are a thing, but don’t actually know how this was accomplished. I could probably look it up – maybe in Drawing Down the Moon – but I don’t know off the top of my head). I don’t think it’s particularly odd that Neopaganism, having been available outside of some pretty closed circles for only ~40 years, is still in its infancy as a developing, multi-generational community.
I don’t think she’s wrong to say that having some reliable Processes Of Discernment would be good for us, as a cluster of very experiential religious groups. And she’s not wrong, either, when she says that generational siloing can lead to a lot of reinventing the wheel, so to speak, that doesn’t have to happen, or that relying on the internet can make for a fragmented, very far-flung community that – because we don’t all live in the same area – can’t necessarily show up to help each other move, muster a meal train, facilitate rites of passage, or otherwise be a community the way, say, my mom’s church is a community.
I do wonder what it might have been like to grow up in a large pagan religious community that included my parents and grandparents and a couple of centuries of habit, folk symbolism, and social games. To have had the opportunity to do the Pagan equivalent of a Bat Mitzvah or Confirmation ceremony where I got to talk shop and baby-steps theology with peers and older advisor/teacher types on subject matter that felt meaningful to me, rather than awkward and ill-fitting, and then got some level of community celebration a few months later when I did the ceremony proper. To not have to rely on luck and The Algorithm to make sure I found out that local and wider-than-local religious-community-meetings were happening, because someone at the temple would make an announcement about it for a couple of weeks leading up to whatever-it-is.
But, at the same time, I don’t think it’s hurt me to have learned things out of books, or by reading blogs or going to (often, though not always online) mostly non-religious workshops run by other queer, kinky, polytheists – to have found religious community at all thanks to my far-flung but accessible-via-the-internet peer group.
In Chapter Three, the author mentions David Abram and how, upon returning to his… call it a “typical white guy life”(?) he started to lose the “profound sense of intimacy with the natural world” that he’d experienced while immersed in communities where that sense of intimacy was a normal part of “typical life”. She draws on Sherry Turkles’s Alone Together, commenting that it’s harder to form intimate human relationships – all the Brene Brown vulnerability stuff – when so many of our interactions (Oh, hai, pandemic) are done in a milieu like twitter where there’s not a lot of room for nuance (or vulnerability), and asking how one can form intimate relationships with non-human people if one doesn’t have a lot of experience forming them with other humans.
And that… is not how that works.
Sorry not sorry.
Lots of people who never had the opportunity to form healthy intimate relationships with other humans (and that is a LOT of pagans, friends) due to a plethora of Bad Childhood Situations – including abuse, neglect, and the subtle-and-unsubtle societal messages that being queer and/or trans are things to be secretive and ashamed about – learned how to experience intimacy first by emotionally connecting with pets or houseplants. Humans are so, SO wired for intimacy and connection. And gods are not without agency and know how to get noticed when they need to.
So while, yes, it’s much EASIER to cultivate and maintain those senses of connection – to understand that the sewing machine has a name (which she told me) because she’s old enough and complicated enough to have developed one; to understand that the chard in the garden is a person who I’m cutting, and hurting, every time I harvest their leaves for dinner, so I’d better appreciate their resilience and continued presence in my yard and should also make sure to feed them and give them enough water so that they heal well and stay strong – when I’m surrounded by, and interacting with, people who share those same understandings (this is one of the big reasons why I date other pagans)… But it’s not a requirement. You may have to get the hang of shrugging it off when people look at you like you have two heads, and you may (still) have to fit your religious observances in around the edges of the rest of your life, but you can still cultivate that understanding.
Anyway. This is rapidly approaching 1500 words, so I will talk about the Chapter Three Activities in Part Two.
 This is why I talk about being influenced by Feri, but not being a Feri practitioner – I’m not an initiate into their mysteries, and the elements of their practices and cosmology that have found their way into my own are things that are free to share with outsiders/laity.
 Which… sure, it’s kind of arbitrary. But I’m a 90s kid and I remember when Chapters started carrying whole shelves full of books on Wicca – and it was Wicca, or at least elements there-of, that was most readily available, especially if you didn’t have a local occult bookstore or know how to find out if such a thing existed. So We’re going through Wicca (sort of) for the purposes of this post.
Following up on this post with the second Homework Question asked by the author at the end of Chapter One. The author asks:
“What would it be like to honour the differently? Consider experimenting with a practice that is different from the beliefs that you hold. Can a hard polytheist meditate on Atman with a group of Hindus? Can a monotheist make offerings to the spirits of the land, understanding them as aspects of the divine? Can a soft polytheist, or nontheist, call upon a deity and speak with them as a person rather than an archetype? Sit with the feelings of discomfort that may arise from this thought experiment. Is it important to continue to believe as you do now? Why or why not?”
I started to touch on this very briefly in my previous post. That, when trying to find points of relation with monotheists and panentheists, I lean into the idea of numerous individual godsouls – including those of actual deities – making up a giant, composite, universe-soul who is, at the same time, an entity unto themselves, but that doing this is not entirely comfortable.
I feel like I’m lying. Or being rude to my gods. Or both. Which is one of the reasons I mostly practice as a Solitary.
Uh. More on that, even though I’ll be touching on it again in a few chapters:
I “go to church” with my girlfriend, and her ritual group, and it’s LOVELY. I’m very glad that I get to do this – or got to do this when they were doing ritual online, and may get to do this again if in-person stuff is available while I’m visiting DC – and it’s been really… really special and important for to be able to do that. I’ve talked before – if not on this blog, then with my friends – about “missing church”. Which has meant a couple of things for me. I miss the… laziness? Of just being able to show up at a ritual and follow the directions, rather than having to come up with the ritual myself.
Like, yes, I’m definitely down to create my own rituals, they’re personally meaningful and let me connect with my gods, my ancestors, my godself, my fetch, the spirits of my micro-bioregion. All of that. But it’s also really nice to be able to who up and immerse myself in a ritual without having to also make sure I remember what step comes next.
But I also miss “church” in the sense of “having a community of shared values and… heavily overlapping(?) cosmology with-whom I can do personally meaning woo-woo stuff on a reliable and consistent basis”. And there are local ritual groups, public ones, that I could be part of. Or there were, a few years ago. But it feels really weird to sort of “play at” penentheism, or at duotheistic poly pantheism, in a long term way. Like, she who is the white moon among the stars is actually NOT the same person as the one who’s the green earth. Heck the Green and the Earth are two different people. And that’s just on my personal altar, before you get to the specific individuals who make up the Green ad the Earth who I call to when I do quarter calls. You know?
So, to drag this back to the author’s question:
While I’m able to consider the soul of the universe, of which I (and/as my tripartite soul) am just a tiny, TINY part:
I’m not thinking of Atman – my rudimentary understanding of All That Is, the connections between, and ultimate unity of, All That Is, is not likely to be the same understanding that someone who’s been a practicing Hindu for 25 years is going to have via the lens of their faith.
I’m going to feel like I’m oversimplifying things if that’s the part I focus on. Like I’m smoothing the edges off my cosmology to make it easier and more palatable for a largely monotheistic “over-culture” to wrap their collective heads around
I’m going to worry that I will forget both the complexity and the embodied immediacy of The Divine qua numerous individual deities, spirits of place, etc, if I spend too much time focusing on that broader, harder-to-have-relationships-with (harder to relate to? – There’s probably something worth digging into there) all-encompassing Universe Soul at the expense of naming and honouring and relating to those individual entities-unto-themselves who are my gods, who are the gods-who-aren’t-mine, who are the local Neighbours, who are my specific ancestors of blood and spirit, who is my own godself… all of them.
So, yes. I think it’s important for me to continue worshiping as I do, and… cosmology-ing as I do. While I get that my practice and understanding are going to keep evolving over time, I don’t think I’d be doing right by my gods or my Other People, if I changed that up substantially or suddenly or, possibly, at all.
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.
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. ❤
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
A collection of orange, tan, and white winter squash, topped with a handful of apples, and cast in dramatic shadow. Image by AlreadyExist, via Wiki Free Images
I harvested the three globe zucchini that I’d left on the vine to ripen fully. They are striped orange and pale yellow, and look like pie pumpkins (though I’m expecting them to have a texture more like spaghetti squash).
I’ve been making bread again (finally) and candles for my altar (finally) and doing a little bit of sigil magic (finally), and feel like I’m a bit more on top of the CSA situation. My freezers are marvelously full, and so are my fridge and my pantry.
I feel weirdly proud of this, considering how little work – relative to other years – went into it all. But I feel safe and snug – like a squirrel in my cozy creche, knowing I have plenty of nuts stored away and knowing, too, that there are a few more weeks before the ground freezes and the ice on the puddles signals the end of the gathering season.
I spent New Moon observing Rosh Hashanah at a friend’s house. Sometimes I feel like contemporary paganism mirrors Judaism – maybe that’s Starhawk’s influence, or maybe it’s the whole Kitchen Table Religion thing, or maybe it’s just that Ashkenazi Jewish traditions developed over hundreds of years in central and northern Europe, where apples would have been a readily available sweet taste with-which to ring in the new year – but it made me smile that mine wasn’t the only religion spending the Autumn Equinox (this year, at least) with shared apples and celebration.
The fact that everyone is already talking about their Samhain ritual plans and rituals when Mabon hasn’t even happened yet makes me feel bad for Mabon. It really is the forgotten middle child of sabbats.
These two tweets crossed my feed at very different times – a solid three weeks apart – but they both have me asking myself “What is Mabon to ME?”
I mean, yes, definitely, the Harvest Moon kicks off the Season of the Witch in a way that feels very in line with my own recent magical workings. But the beginning of Harvest Moon doesn’t always coincide as closely with the Equinox as it did this year.
In my neck of the woods, Mabon is definitely a Harvest Festival, and one that I do associate with fruit. Even when most of my wild-harvesting (crab apples, choke cherries, wild antique apples) happens much earlier in September, the local pears are ready to harvest any time between Labour Day and Thanks Giving, so… it fits.
But I also associate Mabon with rest. With the glut of the harvest (or, in my case, the CSA) calming down enough to keep up with, and with the temperatures falling enough that I’m no-longer loathe to turn on the oven.
If Lamas is a time for barbecues and musk melon and corn on the cob, for Big Manifesting Energy, for offerings of blueberry Welsh Cakes wrapped in foil and baked in the campfire coals, for the first heady flush of the (hopefully) long and heavy harvest (beans, summer squash, eggplants, and tomatoes, oh my!); if Samhain is a time for candles and ancestors, for freezer orders of pork and lamb, for dumb suppers and offerings of liver mousse, seared heart, and maple whisky, for winter squash stuffed with kasha and braised tongue, then what falls between them is this:
A point of pause.
The place where Libra’s scales balance like light and dark.
You could even call it Intermission.
If you’re familiar with the Wildwood Tarot, you’ll know that – by their calendar – this is the Season of Cups. The moment where the Hanged Man finds her new perspective as the Lady of the Lake.
Sometimes I think of Mabon as the Witches’ Thanks Giving.
The part of the triple harvest where we have the opportunity slow it down, celebrate, acknowledge, and express our gratitude – to and with each other, to and with the ground that provides for us – to ask “What have you harvested this year? What has come to fruition?”
Last night, I did a Fancy Dinner – by my standards of fancy, at least. Brussels Sprouts steamed then pan-fried in butter, maple syrup, and a little whiskey; pork tenderloin slow-roasted over a mix of onion, golden & chiogia beets, celery, carrots, mushrooms, and kholrabi; served with a white wine and with the altar candles lit up.
That feels like an appropriate Mabon meal, and the left-overs will be diced into a stew tomorrow.
But tonight – mostly because we have them and they need to be eaten up – our Actual Mabon Meal is going to be way more remeniscent of Lamas: Grilled burgers + corn on the cob.
But I have apples baking in the oven, filling the house with slow heat and delicious smells, and that’s not nothing. My hands are soft with butter and my heart is full.
Something else I should mention.
We woke up on New Moon to discover that one of our birds, Matilda – our little blue and white budgie – had died in the night. It looked like she had a peaceful death. Just went to sleep and stopped. But it was a sad day.
We buried her today, under the cedar tree in our front yard.
I planted a mulberry next to her and we’ll see what grows in spring.
Two of Cups – Cristy C Road – Next World Tarot – Two sweeties embrace on a beach, clearly besotted with one another
In keeping with my usual lunar practice, I shuffled one of my tarot decks – Cristy C Road’s Next World Tarot – and let a card jump out for me.
What I got was the Two of Cups.
Okay, I know. The two of cups means a whole bunch of things. But my decks tend to be real literal too, and it’s not weird that on a day where I’m writing both about beginnings and the season of cups, that this is the card that came up.
That being said.
As a tarot card meditation this is a reminder that love shows up, that romance is real, that we balance each other in all the ways we need.
It was a good card to pull, and one I’ll try to keep in my heart as the days get darker.
Movement: Early evening walks with my wife. Moon Saluations every night (except two days ago, and you guys, I am still feeling it). Squats. Carrying heavy groceries home today.
Attention: Trying to stay on top of the vegetables. (Already) Looking for work to take on once my year-long contract wraps up at the end of March. Eying what to expect in my impending CSA delivery so that I can plan a little bit for how to deal with it. Looking forward to the sex magic class I’m taking tomorrow evening.
Gratitude: Thankful for my sweeties. For celebrations with friends. For getting to do long-distance ritual over the internet. For pals who jump at the chance to perform kinky poetry to a small and select audience. For snuggles with my wife. For tarot readings and hot tea on the back deck with my friend. For new-to-me house wares. For energy work with my girlfriend. For a warm house and a full larder. For the life of our Matilda and the company we kept.
Inspiration: The season of cups. The work of other femmes. The new moon setting. Jupiter and Saturn rising in the eastern sky. My fabric stash and soothing sewing videos on youtube that remind me what I want to make next.
Creation: Wrote a new glosa today, and finished another. I am so freaking close, you guys. I know, I know, the work has only just begun. But I’m still excited about getting Phase One of this project officially completed! Also: I made another mask.
“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 show up on my right ring finger.
Which felt really good.
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.
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!
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 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.
The Empress – Mary El Tarot – A red-haired person in a long green dress, with a baby tied to their back, stands under a mature tree, holding a basket of fruit
Maybe it’s not surprising the I pulled The Empress today.
I went out in the garden to chuck a basket of toilet paper tubes into the compost, and to take pictures of the fever few – which is growing already – and the day-lilies coming up in the alley, and I sang to the misty air and the ground as I was out and about.
And I saw that the rhubarb – which I’m used to seeing a week or two from now – has already started crowning. Small enough that it probably came up with the sunrise just today. The sorrel – AKA sourdock – is just, just starting to create leaves, too, still red from their first unfurling. In the not too distant future there will, I hope, be crow garlic sprouts and dandelions coming up.
My neighbour, whose mom is an avid, and very skilled, gardener, comments that everything is coming back again.
My Lady who is the land beneath my feet is awake, awake again.
My Lady who is every green and growing thing is stretching her arms and her face towards the sun.
Right now, I’m burning a cone of dragon’s blood incense on my altar. I’m doing that because I don’t actually have incense charcoal and the dried mugwort I tried to use burned a liiittle too enthusiastically and turned to ash before I could even say what the offering was for.
So. Dragon’s Blood it is.
I’m adding my tiny offering to a nation-wide call for ones like it: For talking to gods and ancestors and asking that indigenous communities be protected from COVID19 through physical things like provision of actual clean drinking water right out of the tap. (Which, yes, I’m also continuing to bug my MP and the prime minister about this, because it’s an ongoing problem). Feel free to join in. If you’re like me, and are a white person, some herbs you might consider using (if you can manage to get them to light, um) are: juniper, mugwort, rosemary, lavender, mullien, mint, birch bark, thyme, and pine needles.
What is the New Normal that I’m hoping for?
I want income supports to STAY available for all (and, like, ACTUALLY for all, not just if you’ve made at least $5000 at some sort of declarable job over the past year), and for it to be $2000/month, and for it to be No Questions Asked.
I want crude oil to stay so cheap it becomes a visibly bad investment for people who only judge “bad investment” by how much money they stand to lose.
I want remote work to stay the expectation, because 200,000 cars NOT on the local road, most of the time, would do the air quality in my city (and especially right here, by the highway) a lot of good, and because it’ll mean people with disabilities and chemical sensitivities will have a much easier time getting well-paid work if from-home is a standard and expectable option.
I want clean, potable water, to come out of the tap in every house on every Reserve. (We still don’t have that – go bug your MP about it).
I want stuff like AirBnB to basically be out of business and the market to suddenly have a LOT more housing availability and a LOT more housing aforadability. (I would like to know more about housing co-ops, btw).
I want Actually Helping Each Other Out – like “I’m going to the store, do you need anything” – to be something we ask out neighbours.
I want remote access and online stuff – like concerts and meditation classes and conferences – to be a thing that sticks around.
I want train tickets to be cheap as hell so that inter-city travel, once it’s a thing again, can be affordable without it having to happen on an airplane.
I want strategic downtown streets to be closed to cars so that pedestrians can maintain appropriate social distance and, when we don’t have to do that anymore, I want those streets to stay pedestrians-only or, since they’d likely be residential streets, “residential traffic accepted” at worst.
Temperance, The Page of Swords, The Three of Pentacles, and The Six of Wands – Mary El Deck
I did a reading, as I sometimes do, shuffling my deck and checking in with the ground, taking the jumpers for answers.
Here’s what I got:
Anything you want? – Temperance
I mean, I suppose this is obvious. Balance. Taking care with my actions. Spring Equinox, for that matter. Oliver Pickle, in She Is Sitting in the Night refers to this card as one that “calls for self-control, not through socially internalized suppression and compartmentalization, but through appropriate and thoughtful responses to all situations. It asks for compromise, harmony, and moderation”. So, yes. That.
Anything you need? – The Page of Swords
She’s nothing if not literal. The Page of Swords is – according to the Wildwood tarot – situated as Spring Equinox starts moving towards Beltane. So right where we are now. She needs to do what she needs to do, moving towards that fullness, that leafing and growing, that’s already started and can’t, won’t be stopped. More metaphorically this is a card about diligence, determination, and doing the Work. This, too, is the crowning of all that new life. The rhubarb and the crow garlic, the day lilies and the tulips, pushing their spears through the topsoil. The leaves unfurling on the sorrel, the ferevew few, the creeping charlie, the grass. All of it. But it’s also me, paying attention, tending to the soil. It’s my wife turning the compost. It’s bread and milk offerings and remembering to water the plants.
Anything else you want me to know? – The Three of Pentacles with a side order of The Six of Wands
Teamwork, co-conspiring, getting creative with what you’ve got, working together, putting your labour towards something meaningful… with a side order of the warmth of generosity.
Work together. With Her, with each other, and there will be more than enough for all.
So, I went to visit my girlfriend in DC – just got home a few days ago – and, while I was there, we made a point of going to Two Rivers Sanctuary to participate in the Full Moon Meditations that are put on by Connect DC (a public ritual group that operates out of the temple).
Something that I’ve noticed, and which was 100% confirmed during this visit, is that I have a much easier time doing energy work when – go figure – there’s a social (as well as physico-energetic) container in-which that work can be done. Whether that’s getting myself singing lessons so that I can Do The Thing in a situation where I’m not secretly terrified that I’m going to Bother Someone, or giving my wife a heads-up that I’m going to be doing Magic in the bath tub that evening (and then setting The Mood by turning off the lights and sparking up a candle), or going to a literal ritual space, be it a (particular kind of) concert, a sanctuary or temple space (think Cathedral Grove, or the shores of Kichissippi, but also various spots at Ravens’ Knoll or Ramblewood), or the Chartres-esque labyrinth my friend mows into the tall grass near her farm house every summer.
So I took the opportunity of being In Church, during the scheduled period of Quiet Contemplation, to try and open up all my chakras (not ALL-all of them, obviously, I mean the seven that line up along my spine) and run energy up and down them.
I did this in part because I’ve been having some difficulty doing this for the last little bit, and I wanted to see if having time-and-space set aside for it would help (see above re: confirmation), and also in part because I’d suggested it as a good spot for any Messages to come through, if there were any to be had, and I wanted to open myself up so that I’d have the best chance of actually picking up on them, if they were being made available.
A long time ago, I read something – I think in one of Starhawk’s books? – about a “quick and dirty” way to wake up your chakras which, tbh? Quick And Dirty suits me JUST fine. Basically, what you do, is you imagine each point in turn as “something you REALLY like” that is the colour of the chakra you’re trying to open.
So, for example, my root chakra is a blousy red rose in full bloom. And also this weird umbilical spidery thing that I can drop out of myself in order to literally root myself to the ground in a Grounding action.
My sacral chakra is, usually, a butternut squash and, sometimes, a broad lick of fire. Sometimes I can get it to kaleidoscope into something that looks like a lily flower starburst.
My heart chakra looks… suspiciously like a green version of one of these (yes, really – I don’t know why, but I’m going with it), from-which vines, tentacles, and occasionally hands will periodically emerge.
My third eye chakra is a pale blue (I know, but I’m going with it – it’s a bit like this, but closer to the sky) circle of light, about the size of a loonie, and sometimes it projects into a laser beam of the same colour.
My crown chakra is usually a circle of white light opening in the top of my head with, sometimes, a purple crown (similar to this one, but with six tines and a Queen Of Heaven vibe) surrounding it.
Notice anything missing?
My solar plexus chakra and my throat chakra didn’t get a mention.
I’ve been trying to get my solar plexus chakra to wake up, reballance, and start getting active by imagining it as a sunflower or a sunburst centered on and/or growing from, my belly button. And it hasn’t quite been doing it.
So this time, I actually went with my weird ass instinctive prompt, and imagined it as a sunflower with vampire teeth. Yeah. Like this thing, but more predatory and minus the guitar.
And it worked. O.O
So that’s a thing.
Apparently “I am powerful and I am comfortable with my power” means being comfortable with the likelihood that My Power is kind of predatory and wants to eat all the things.
My throat chakra, on the other hand, is kind of what the rest of this whole post is going to be about.
The clearest mental image I can get of my throat chakra is of a dark blue, or maybe royal blue, Hand of Fatima that might have the capacity to glow every now and then. Sometimes it hints at being a scilla or something kind of like a dark blue crocus. Most of what I get, and what I’ve got for a long time, when I try to engage that chakra in any significant way is (a) a huge amount of painful pressure in my throat, followed rather quickly by very swollen glands and a generally feeling that I’ve done something that was a Bad Idea.
Which is a problem!
Not the only reason for why being that the messages I was looking for? They arrived. And they all boiled down to this:
Use Your Voice
These included some stuff that had to do with, basically, a big, painful, shame-and-unworthiness-related blockage in my whole throat chakra (which had come up once that day, already); the HP, during the Meditation portion of the evening, saying both “Elevate your daily work, whatever that work is, to the level of spiritual Work” and “Using our gifts is how we give back to the gods that gave them to us”; and also finding the words “Speak the Truth” hanging off the tag of a tea bag I’d picked out at random for it’s throat-soothing qualities after the service.
Also: We sang, just this simple, simple round of a song that I knew (albeit a different version, but the lyrics were easy to pick up), and I cried two different kinds of tears (weepy tears, from both eyes, but also these thick syrupy “flush something out” tears would sometimes just slop out of my left eye as well) and the singing got easier as we went along.
So a thing definitely Happened.
Listen. The throat chakra relates to all sorts of stuff around translating your goals and ideas into real tangible out-in-the-world things. Turning “that idea for a story” into words on a page, turning the build-up of sexual energy into the release of an orgasm, turning the nebulous need for a thing into a statement that can be acted on.
I can’t speak my desires into being, and put any power behind them, if they are literally getting choked off and blocked in my actual/energetic throat.
I’m listening to throat-chakra-healing music on youtube – because this kind of thing has been effective for my root and sacral chakras already, so let’s keep doing what works.
I’m (back to) making the effort to sing every day (humming, noodling, singing along to CDs and spotify, doing warm-up exercises if I’m so inclined) – which, so far, has actually been going more easily than it has in the past, which is hopeful and encouraging – to gently allow energy (and sound, which is energy, um…) to flow through my throat chakra, the goal being to make some (joyful, I hope) music with my body and to let my voice out to play rather than to make it push through in an effort to appease my shame-driven Shoulds (shame, as I’ve mentioned before, not being a great motivator for me).
I’m breathing the words “So Hum” (“I Am That”, seeing yourself as holy, as part of the whole holiness that is – this is a Vedic(?) chant from Hinduism, which is where the system of naming these energy centers as chakras, and the body-and-life stuff associated with each of them, comes from) when I have a quiet moment or five. I’m drinking various throat-soothing teas and saying – whispering or speaking more audibly, but always out loud – “I speak my truth. I use my voice, my breath, my words, my song to work my Will and manifest it in this beautiful world” as I drink them.
I am acting on messages received.
Meliad the Birch Maiden
 Plus a whole thing about how “You are always held in Her eye, always loved” which… I could FEEL my energy shrinking into my body – like shrinking away from the message that I might be lovable and held, by someone who’s been part of my life since I was 16 and who has deep, deep ties to music and bringing things out into the world, no less – and I had to MAKE myself stay fully embodied and open to hearing and (hopefully) accepting that, even as my larynx swelled and the pressure in my throat and behind my ears started getting really painful… uh, see above re: throat blockage connected to feelings of shame and unworthiness.