Category Archives: kitchen witchcraft

Magical House Keeping as Beltane Approaches

A pile of colourful pieces of chalk surrounded by a yellow chalk outline, on dark asphalt. Photo by Yunsik Noh via Unsplash

So I got back from visiting my girlfriend just a few days before the full moon in Scorpio. Beltane’s this coming weekend. It’s – yet again – That Time of Year.

I mean, “that time of year” happens multiple times, so do as you Will, but:

I spent this morning doing Actual Laundry (towels and other non-sheet household linens) + putting clean clothes away, an energetic sweep of my house (dragon’s blood incense), and some sigil magic. Plus a light-weight offering of boiled water (per long-ago request) and a cup of orange pekoe tea[1]. My windows are open to change out the air – and because I’ve got a friend coming over – and it feels pretty good in my house right now.

The plan is to do a Magical Scrubbing Bubbles later this afternoon, as well as to hit the grocery store for a few odds and sods. One of my wife’s partners may or may not be coming over for dinner, so it’ll be a full and pleasantly social day.

Anyway. The whole point of posting about this is to make a bit of a note about charging things magically.

Basically… charging something (if you use the “sustain” rather than “destroy” method of charging a thing) is telling it how you’re going to feed it going forward. So if you’re putting a sigil on your laptop to help you hit your writing and editing deadlines, you might want to charge it off your laptop’s motor. Or your car’s engine, if you’re doing a safety-while-driving ward. If you want to draw things into yourself, use your own spit (provided it’s charm that’s safe to lick – don’t do this with anything made of malachite, for example) both because it’s YOURS and because it comes from an orifice that is specifically designed to bring things into your body for the purpose of sustenance and growth.

I use my own breath a lot. Partly because it’s effective – words are how I’ve done magic since before I really knew how to do magic – and partly because a fair chunk of the magic I do is about either communication (job stuff where I do social media, creative writing with an eye to getting a publisher, etc) OR it’s about some variation on the theme of Boundaries, and the suit of air covers both so charging with breath is… “thematically consistent” with my intentions.

Anyway. I’m off to get the rest of my day finished.

TTFN,

Ms Syren.

[1] Because most of my ancestors like it – though not all, as was made clear today. I’m now on the hook for a very sweet vidal/muscat if I can’t find plum wine which… not likely. It’s never been A Thing up hear. So vidal/muscat should do the trick. Still not sure what my paternal grandmother wanted. She might like the chocolate hazelnut tea, or something a little fancier maybe? But she might also want coffee? Unsure…

Full Moon – Long Nights Moon Crests: Winter Solstice 2021

A bright red cardinal sits on a bare branch as tiny snowflakes gather on his feathers and swirl in the air.
Midwinter – A Cardinal in the Snow

I finished my poetry challenge, and at least a few of the pieces I drafted have some potential to become something good. Something that I noticed – and something that’s come up in a bunch of books I’ve read (everything from “money mindset” books to magic books to books on ecophilosophy) – is the whole idea of “What we speak, we bring into being”. Not in the simplistic sense of “If you mantra about being a Rich Witch you will become one” but in the sense of “language shapes thought, it shapes what we’re able to conceptualize”. (It’s why people with systemic social privilege so frequently get up in arms when marginalized and oppressed people start creating and using language that gives those privileges a name, or that gives them a name other than “that’s just normal”).

I find that, when I want to write about concepts of abundance and place-connection, I have a bad habit of, first, writing about lack and loss and disconnection (this is true whether it’s poetry or brainstorming about personal goals) – this can be a useful step for narrowing things down and finding patterns, but it’s also a place where I can get stuck. I have to remember to ask myself “Okay. If you don’t want X, Y, or Z… where do those Don’t Wants point you? What is the billiard ball direction of ricochet that you bounce towards when you rebound OFF Don’t Want?” If I want to <em>use my words, my breath, my voice, my song to work my will and make it manifest</em>… I need to know where I’m aiming my Will… or else all that potential energy will stall out rather than launching and transforming into kinetics.

A lot of the poetry I wrote/drafted over the course of this past lunar cycle was about the Don’t Wants. Some of it wasn’t. Some of it was about abundance and security that I already have, and about where I’m actually aiming. But a lot of it wasn’t, and that may mess with the effectiveness of the spell. None the less, I Did The Thing, and I was reminded that it’s not overly difficult or time-consuming to draft a single – mediocre, granted – poem every day. To have a tiny writing Practice that doesn’t stress me out and that I can stick to for a sustained period of time.

So there’s that.

My girlfriend has been visiting for two weeks, which was wonderful. She and my wife and I did Solstice all together for the first time. We walked down to the Winter Stone and made offerings – Laphroaig scotch and Angel’s Envy bourbon plus home-made cookies (coffee-almond-maple macarons, honey-spice cookies, and rose-poppyseed shortbread) – before my two girls went for a walk together for Metamour Time and I headed home to finish my work day.

My wife and I got to have a lovely anniversary together, too.

She made me a very fancy dinner, and we shared some chocolate and a bottle of our wedding wine (same type of wine, different year – Inniskillin’s Late Autumn Riesling) and chatted away on the couch together, while my girlfriend spent the evening with a couple of friends we’ve all been bubbled with for going on two years. It was absolutely wonderful.

My father-in-law came to visit for a couple of days (he arrived 24 hours after my girlfriend left) and just headed home again this morning. I’m relieved to have the house to myself for a bit and to be able to get my breath back.

Solstice is such a weird time. Weird because I’m over here balancing (a) my anniversary, (b) having a big shindig (not this year, obviously, but during non-plague times it was a thing we did every year) and filling the house with our friends, and (c) doing the actual Dreaming and Resting and Turning Inward that Midwinter is actually about – if you’re me, at any rate – and that’s before I even get to the part where I’ve got a bunch of not-religiously-Christian (but culturally very-much-so) family members who want to Do A Thing for Christmas and trying to balance all of those family obligations out around a day that, for me, is really just a quiet day that I mercifully don’t have to work on (unlike most stat holidays) and, had I my druthers, would probably spend reading a book, cleaning the house, and eating leftover Solstice goodies in peace.

I’ve dug out my copy of Seaking the Mysteries again and am looking forward to devoting more time to reading it and working through the writing/thinking prompts. The chicken carcass we hung out for the crows – on a big, copper hook hanging from a branch of our cedar tree – has finally been Investigated by a couple of locals. It wasn’t quite an “Offering Accepted” moment, but it was wonderful to see these big, black, umbrella birds hopping from branch to branch, checking angles and balances, before having a good nosh. I hope they come back.

~*~

What I’ve been up to:

At the Full Moon, I took myself down into my Luxury Astral Sea Cave. There was seaweed and salt water all over the floor, so (a) June’s been around, but also (b) I had to do some tidying up. I ate some of the seaweed, and a little snail – who wanted the company/food source of a planted bunch of bladder wrack and a tubeworm/anemone – has taken up residence in my grotto (hot tub?) and, as a result, my Luxury Astral Sea Cave now has a rudimentary filtration system that means I can do laundry and such-like without worrying about wrecking the open ocean (entire astral plane?) on the other side of the membrane.

I got a message on the memo pad that said “Succeed!” + “I can see growth / I can seed growth (/ I conceded growth?)” + “seeds”. Which means I’ve gone and popped 32 squash seeds onto my tiny office altar and, I think, I’ll be planting at least some of them in the spring. I sort of secretly think this is also hinting at a timeline? But we’ll see.

For Solstice, I came up with a little visualization that I did this morning that involved a walk through a wintery landscape and the question: “What does this dreaming winter landscape have to tell me about the kind of rest I need?”

What I saw in the ice/mirror: I saw Fetch, my child/animal/embodied self cutting out a garland of paper dolls.

Between this and the regimented lumber plantation that kept trying to assert itself, the message I got – that I hope is an accurate one – is that the kind of rest I need, that I would benefit from, is less about sleep and more about unstructured, non-productive but creative play.

It’s probably telling that my reaction to paper dolls is basically “But this is just so much garbage…” rather than “That looks like fun”.

So I’m asking myself:

In addition to take Sunday afternoons to read pagan theology, ecophilosophy, and similar, what kind of regular play date can I give myself – something like an Artist’s Date – that lets me PLAY in way that isn’t regimented and whose end-goal is “this was fun” rather than “I have produced a garment” or “I exercised” or similar.

I’m honestly considering buying myself a “stocking stuffer” package of water-soluble soap crayons or something and making a point of covering my bathtub tiles with green spirals and seaweed fronds or something. It could be fun. And it would be easy (I hope) to clean up, too.

I’m having that Just Before New Year’s warning feeling of “don’t make commitments you aren’t going to keep”, so I’m a little hesitant to stay spouting off about wanting to visit my Sea Cave on a regular and frequent basis, or wanting to get back to the nightly yoga routine that I stopped doing six months ago when I seriously wrecked my knee by going skateboarding for the first time. These are good things to want, and good things to do, and also: It’s six days ‘til 2022 and we all know what this time of year can be like. So. Maybe I’ll just sit on those for a week or two. >.>

Slow Holler - Ace of Water

Image: Slow Holler Tarot – Ace of Vessels – A Mason Jar with a storm, a lake, and a shooting star inside.

I use a random tarot card generator to pull my Card for this (waning) part of the Long Nights Moon. I went into it thinking “JUST the next week or so” but… wow, now that I’ve seen it: Gosh, I hope this is what 2022 has to offer.

The Ace of Water is the distillation of the whole suit. Emotional fulfillment. Creative inspiration and action. Job satisfaction. Time and space for self-nurturing. Artistic endeavors. Happiness. A full and open heart.

Yes, I want this.

And, yes, I have this.

Two partners who love me and care about each other. An end-date for the job that’s been stressing me out all year (I gave my notice 2 weeks ago, and have five weeks – aka 10 days – left) and an at-home job to replace it with that will be more flexible and lower-stress for everyone at home. The chance to breathe and to refill the well.

I look forward to welcoming it all further in.

~*~

Movement: 14-minute yoga (on youtube) with my girlfriend. Ambles in the woods and down to the bay. Walking to (bubbled) friends’ houses. A little bit of dancing. Nothing fancy, and nothing consistent, but some movement going on.

Attention: Watching the birds and squirrels out my window. Watching the weather and, tbh, the driving conditions. Watching my stress levels and paying attention to what conditions (foods, feelings – mostly feelings) give me stomach cramps vs which ones leave me feeling fine.

Gratitude: For everything. For my father in law coming to town. For two weeks with my girlfriend. For a really lovely 9th anniversary. For Winter Solstice music mixes. For online concerts. For crows in the cedar tree. For cardinals and chickadees being busy with their own lives, which overlap just a little bit with mine. For surprise xmas bonuses from 2/3 of my jobs. For having the extra cash to help out a friend. For another friend making a full recovery from an injury. For my brother’s good news. For my newest niece liking a very old family recipe. For cold, fresh air. For central heating and extra blankets. For sunshine. For starlight. For snowfall. For magic. For time with people I love. For time to just myself. For all the love that’s carrying me through my life.

Inspiration: Rooted, by Leandra Lynn Haupt. The jar of hazelnuts in my pantry (half of which are now home-ground and some of which have been added to another batch of maple-coffee macarons). The turning of the year and ways to incorporate the tastes of other seasons into my midwinter dishes. The astrological positions of the Moon. Wintery imagery. Snow falling in thick flakes at sunset, the red flash of a cardinal against the white-white-white of snow.

Creation: I haven’t written a poem since I finished my challenge. That doesn’t mean I won’t write lots more, but my focus has been elsewhere, in my kitchen and my craft cabinet. I’ve tweaked and re-written recipes that I made up years ago – what would my distant ancestors have used to make food special in winter? What do I have available now? –  and had a good time making honey-walnut ice cream and coffee-hazelnut cookies. I (finally) finished a skirt, added button closures to the slippers I knitted two years ago (now they don’t fall off my feet!), and have picked up another knitting project that I put away nearly a year ago. It’s been nice to make things with my hands again!

A frosted-over soap bubble balances on frozen grass stalks against a blue background. The words "Merry Midwinter Everyone" overlay the image in white script.

New Moon – Leaf Moon Begins

“Leaf Moon” might be a bit optimistic. It’s freezing rain right now.
Mercury is technically stationing direct today, but won’t be moving “forward” for another couple of days. Things are maybe feeling like they’re in a bit of a holding pattern ( Oh, hai, everything covered in ice, winter not getting the f out the door already…).
Jessica Lanyadoo, over at Hoodwitch is telling me to “Be patient, Scorpio. Trust that you’ll get where you need to go, and recognize that shoving won’t get you there any faster”. Which is relevant, in terms of my needing to keep myself moving but also needing to motivate myself in ways that feel like joy, like pleasure, like worthiness, rather than like punishment. (Sort of like this, but for everything).
Spring cleaning continues to happen. It feels like two steps forward, one step back, and it’s definitely a team effort over here, but things do feel a little bit airier, a little less close-in-on-us cluttered, a little more comfortable and clean, and that’s making a big difference. The rhubarb doesn’t seem too frost-struck (yet), and the Vietnamese garlic is poking green shoots out of the ground, and those, too, are both worth noting. My wife went out and turned the compost again. The earth is rich and black, and she says the worms are thick as fingers in there, which is wonderful to hear.
Life continues, even thrives, while the cold hangs on and the dust bunnies push me to my own snapping point.
If there’s a theme to the past few days, to the “open door” of this new moon in Aries, for me it’s find the wonder in all the little things that I have to do each day, that I choose to do each day.
(Yeah, I know. I’m talking big right now, and working for it, but we’ll see how things look in two weeks, a mo(o)nth, and when Harvest rolls around again…)
None the less, that’s my intention, my Capital-I Intention even, for this new moon: To find the wonder in the every-day, and also to charge/imbue the every-day with wonder, with magic, with holy intent. (This is maybe a tiny bit like Mother Noella Marcellino making cheese around and between calls to prayer… except also not really, but go with it).
My vacuum can still be a Besom when the new moon is in Aries, rather than Taurus. 😉
Cleaning the bathroom and doing the dishes can be the kind of kitchen magic I so often neglect (in favour of doing stuff on the stove), banishing the gunky vibes that can clog the airways in a house, or using them as a moment of calm or centering or focus, an in-breath that will move to the out-breath of social web-tightening, generative creativity, and joyful connection of one sort or another.
Find the wonder. Make it happen.
Which brings me to:
 
Tarot Card Meditation: Page of Earth

The Page of Wands from Egypt Urnash’s Tarot of the Silicon Dawn.
In this deck, “wands” in the suit of Earth, while “pentacles” is the suit of Fire.


In the Silicon Dawn deck, “wands” in the suit of Earth, while “pentacles” is the suit of Fire. Typically, it’s the other way around, which makes it a little confusing to read with, and… tbh, straight-up annoying to work with as a translator deck when I’m looking for alternate perspectives on a given reading (like the way various sixes of cups put the emphasis on such different aspects of the card). However, I still quite like the deck’s cartoonish, futuristic art work, pop-culture references, and overt sexuality, so here we are. I tend to try to find points where wands and pentacles overlap or dovetail when I’m reading with it, but put the emphasis on earth-interpretation, rather than fire-interpretation, when a wand card from this deck shows up.
Onwards!
This card, the Page of Wands Earth, is very much a “make something” kind of card. A “go exploring” / “grow and expand” card (two places where it can intersect with the playfulness of the traditionally fire-coded page of wands). It’s a “trust your process” and “trust your body” card. Which means it’s very, very relevant to all the stuff I’m trying to do, trying to remember/re-member in my day-to-day actions, trying to bring back and increase in my life.
Good job, tarot deck! Definitely noted!
 
~*~
 
Movement: The last week and a bit has involved a lot of not very dynamic sitting down. At a desk, while answering phones. My daily commute-walks were only about 15 minutes each way, which isn’t a lot when I’m used to 45-minute walks to and from modeling gigs (which, often as not, are roughly equivalent to 3-hour yoga classes, as far as physical activity goes). That said, the fire alarm went off on Friday, just before my temp job wrapped up for the week, and (after the all-clear) I walked up five flights of stairs and… was a little out of breath, and could tell my thigh muscles had been working. But that was it. I wasn’t gasping. I didn’t feel like my knees were going to give out. I didn’t feel like I was going to keel over. I felt pretty good. Which I was seriously not expecting, since I get winded walking on flat-but-icy sidewalks or taking a single flight of stairs. I think it’s because I have a bad habit of holding my breath. I have to remember that breathing deeply and steadily means that I can do more because I’m not stressing my heart and lungs. Relevant to know! Beyond that… I’ve been doing squats and side-lunges, using my upstairs banister as a support because I tend to stop myself from going as deep as I might be able to when I’m afraid I might pull something or hurt something. (Ha… There’s a metaphor in there somewhere). I also went dancing last weekend, which was lovely. Looking forward to doing more Get Bendy stretches in the morning and to this week’s modeling jobs, which should help me feel a little more limber.
 
Attention: Have to admit, I’ve been paying a lot of attention to the weather. This Unseasonable Storm we’re having, while it isn’t hitting us too hard (er, yet…) is probably going to be here for a little while. Like, for the better part of a week, even though the temperature should start rising in the next day or two. Beyond that I’m paying attention – or at least resolving to pay more attention – to finding the sacred in the every-day, and finding ways to make magical the step-by-step of putting one word in front of another, putting one foot in front of the other, and generally moving forwards in all areas of my life (see Inspiration for more on that subject).
 
Gratitude: Thankful for new poetry coming in at the library (need to pick that up tomorrow). For playful, giggly shenanigans with my wife. For friends who want to talk tarot or wine tasting or areal hooping at the drop of a hat. For little birds who trust me. For sewing skills and cooking skills. For a plentiful larder, pantry, and freezer. For central heating. For the clean bathroom. For muffins. For a wife who makes me coffee and breakfast and gives me a clean kitchen to work in. For seeing someone light up when I tell her that I can see her queerness. For steady feet in high winds and on icy roads. For new sheets fresh on the bed.
 
Inspiration: Becoming Dangerous: Witchy femmes, queer conjurers, and magical rebels on summoning the power to resist arrived in the mail earlier this week, and it’s hitting so many relevant notes for me about body-consecration, glamoury, sex as holiness, trash magic, and self-sufficiency. I mean, maybe that’s not surprising, given that it was written by a bunch of witchy femme queers (mostly women, some non-binary). But it’s lifting me up and getting me kind of weepy at the same time. (I talk a little more about that here). It’s giving me directions to go in. Landmarks to get myself re-oriented, so I can re-find that path I was already on. It’s a huge big deal.
 
Creation: Not the fuck much. I wrote one (1) poem this past week. I mean, it’s a decent poem. Need’s some polishing, but the bones are there and it’s a place to start. But I’m taking myself on a writing date in the next 48 hours because I need to put some words on the page. Probably do so when I go and pick up my library books.

New Year New You 2016 (…and 17): Week 20 – Hearth Appreciation

I’m doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation (again) because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. You should try it!
 
Instructions: Do something nice for your home.
 
Tarot Card: The ten of earth, obviously. (This is one of my favourite cards in the Wildwood deck. It’s one of the ones that made me decided to get it, and it bears a certain resemblance to the “home base” of my psychic hearth, which doesn’t hurt).
 
So. This prompt. What Miss Sugar says about how it’s hard to keep all the chainsaws in the air? She’s right. And I can SO relate to the feelings of frustration, overwhelm, and unraveling that come with having a home whose mess has gone beyond my capacity to know where to even start.
I’ve spent a lot of the last year-and-a-bit doing the money-hustle (which has been going better over the past four months than most of the time previous there-to – so yay) BUT, no surprise, it’s meant that I’ve had a lot less time available to do hearth-tending than I typically like.
This past week, though, and the one coming have been blessed (uh… ish…) with less paid work than usual, meaning: yeah, less money, which is a problem, but also: MOAR TIME! I’ve been able to get out and work on my freaking poetry manuscript (thank you, gods!) AND I’ve been able to do some cleaning (beyond dishes) and canning (at all), which has me feeling a whole lot better. I’ve even managed to light my altars for the first time in MONTHS (bad pagan…) which, I gotta say, is SUCH a relief.
 
Tonight I’m cleaning my counter (dishes + a solid wipe-down of surfaces), prepping the first bunch of tomatoes for canning, lighting my altars again, and putting a bouquet of flowering apple mint out for the Ladies, because… I owe them some attention, frankly.
 
Anyway. Time to get on that. ❤
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Canadian Pagan Declaration on Intolerance

Hey, Pagans, Heathens, Druids, Goddess-Spiritualists, Witchy-Woo Folks, and others who practice earth-centered religions/spirituality, ancestor veneration, and/or polytheism in Canada:

Please go and take a gander at the Canadian Pagan Declaration on Intolerance. You may wish to sign it yourself, as an individual or as a representative of your particular faith group, circle, kindred, grove, coven, or other congregation.

Thanks,
Meliad.

New Year New You 2016: Week Eleven – Casting Out Doubt

I’m doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation (again) because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. You should try it!
 
Instructions: “[…]Use a method of your own choosing to banish the negative energy” or otherwise communicate with your own Jerk Brain to get it to give you a break.
 
Tarot Card(s): Page of Water, Queen of Earth (and, yes, my Mary-El deck arrived a few weeks ago, thense the links to images from that deck for this post). Neither of these cards explicitely have to do with Casting Out Doubt. But they’re relevant for a couple of reasons, one being that I did a two-card pull that relates to my Queen of Cups Project (and various points there-within such as my life-coaching sessions and the Plan that is to Get My Groove Back, so to speak) and I didn’t even pull these two cards, they just popped right out of the deck, like: Here’s your answer, kiddo. (This deck is proving very accurate on the jumpers front, so far, I’m just saying…).
Anyway, so there’s that. I’ll get into that a little more later, mind you. The other reason why these are relevant to the “casting out doubt” prompt is that the first one – being a Page card – is about approaching things (feeeeelings) with curiosity, rather than fear, while the second one is very much about being rooted and steady (rather than riddled with anxiety). the combination is basically a case of “Here’s something you can do instead of assuming the worst and spinning about it all the time”.
Useful? I think so.
 
ANYWAY.
 
So, as-you-know-bob, I am a BIG fan of ritual/magical baths as a form of spell-casting and Creating Change At Will. unsurprisingly, my method of casting out doubt involved (a) having a giant, scrubby shower (and, yeah, some Stuff came up during the shower, and I was just, like, “Don’t be mean to yourself. Let all that stuff just sluff off and let it go”. Which… we’ll see if that bit sticks, honestly, but I gave it a go), and (b) taking a sensual-glamourous bath after the fact to soak in (and soak up) something better to fill that vacuum left when I got rid of all the EUGH[1].
So.
The other day, I went out and gathered a whole wack of “second chakra associated” flowers and leaves. I picked bergamot petals, geranium blossoms, rose petals, rose leaves, and motherwort[2] tops (mostly leaves). All sorts of pinks and reds. I wound up explaining to a newly-arrived-home couple just what, exactly, they had growing under their tree (Motherwort – see footnote[2]). They’d asked if they had “something special”, since I was obviously investigating the weedy patch they’d (woohoo) missed with the mower.
 
I wound up waiting a solid 48 hours or more before I actually took my bath, though.
I kind of think that’s telling, seeing as the whole idea was to open up my centre of drive, passion, confidence, and sex… and I was consistently putting it on the back-burner while I got other stuff done. :-\
Hm.
 
But I took my bath: all the petals plus dried bay leaves, sea salt & epsom salts (to draw out any residual gunk), and essential oils of rosemary, clary sage, ylang ylang, and sweet orange.
Soaked and floated in the hot water. Did Child’s Pose to open my hips, and breathed in the smell of all those oils and flower petals.
 
Got interrupted towards the end, a young woman (possibly from Korea, going by the alphabet her phone was using) who’d taken a wrong turn trying to find her airBnB. This is most likely Just A Fluke, but I’m choosing to read it as any of the following:
Sometimes people turn up in your life when you’re not expecting them and/or when it’s not entirely convenient. Just go with it.
Things are not always going to go according to your internal scrips. See above and just go with it.
See also: Have a sense of humour about it, for fuck’s sake.
 
I can still smell rosemary on my skin.
I hope this is one more thing that will help me open myself up without seeing every damn thing as a threat. Which… I guess I can use as a handy segue?
 
About that tarot reading!
It was a “who” and a “how” card to answer the question: “Who and how do I need to be in order to open myself up the way I want and need to?”
The page of water and the queen of earth, respectively, fell out of the deck almost as soon as I started shuffling.
So that’s apt.
WHO: The Page of Cups says “be in the moment”. It says “learn to trust” and “trust the learning”. The Page of Cups is very much me on a lot of levels, just figuring this heart stuff out (after nine years of working my ass off for it, still just figuring stuff out) but also being neck-deep in it all the time. It’s very much what my Life Coach is trying to help me do, with regards to approaching pleasure and relationships with curiosity rather than trepidation. It says be loyal, be devoted, be compassionate and supportive of yourself as well as others. Be emotionally vulnerable.
BUT
HOW: The Queen of Earth says “don’t fling yourself off a cliff to do it”. Offer that loyalty, devotion, compassion wisely. Make sure you have an oxygen mask of your own, rather than hoping someone else will pass you one in the event of an emergency. Explore, see where things go, walk into this stuff with joy and hope. For sure. But also make sure that you can stand solid on your own. Be aware of what you value, what you want and what you need, as you go out exploring. You can be emotionally vulnerable, you can let your heart be curious, because you can pull back and prioritize yourself when you need to. (Which is also part of the Life Coaching stuff, as it turns out).
 
The Queen of Earth, in the Mary-El deck, is weaping diamonds. It makes me think of this post I wrote just before C ended our relationship. In this context, I read it as “there is value is showing your emotions” and also “experiencing your bodiliness, letting your feelings come through your body, isn’t weak. Quite the opposite”. There are a million ways to interpret a given tarot card but this seems like a relevant way to read this one today.
 
So. That was how I went about Casting Out Doubt. It’s been helping. Every time I pass a rose bush (which are still quite fragrant in these parts, even as the flowers are fading), I catch the scent and breathe in love and gratitude. It’s a nice reminder and it helps me stop spinning my self-doubt wheels.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] That’s a thing to keep in mind. If you banish something, it can be a good idea to fill the void the banishment leaves with something you actually WANT (either by putting it there, or by ritually inviting it to take up residence), so that you don’t end up with either (a) the same damn shit again, OR (b) just any old thing that happened to be in the area filling in the available psychic/physical/emotional space. A bit like my tarot-pull being all “Here’s what to do INSTEAD of the disfunctional thing you’ve always done”.
 
[2] Motherwort calms the heart (it makes a good anti-anxiety tincture, similar to skullcap in that regard, but much muuuuuuch easier to get ahold of in urban areas as it grows quite happily in disturbed ground like construction sites), builds self-trust and confidence, bolsters libido, and attracts joy, success, & a sense of purpose. It encourages listening/discerning one’s heart’s desires and has associations with Venus, Freja, and Ogun (er… apparently). It can come and live in my garden any time.

Common Motherwort (Leonurus Cardiaca)

New Year New You 2016: Week Five – Some Enchanted Evening

I’m doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation (again) because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. You should try it!
 
Instructions: Do some magical thing(s) to further your cause and give you an edge towards achieving your Goal(s).
 
Tarot Card: The Priestess (Inner Voice, The Seer) – looking inward, going deeper, mediating between the concious and unconcious, self-confidence, seaking internal calm.
 
Thoughts:
Okay.
So I’ve had a bit of a shock thrown into my (life) plans recently. My long-distance partner is… not my partner anymore. At least not for the moment. We’re “on a break” for reasons that I understand, even if I’m not happy about the situation or its effects on me.
Part of me is all “I totally get it, take the time you need.”
Part of me is all “Augh! Come baaaaaaaaaaaaack!”
And part of me is just all “Eugh. Whatever. You do you. I’ll survive.”
It’s not a fun place to be, and it does add a certain bleak nuance of “Why am I trying so hard to Fix The Problems that I’m trying to fix with this project if I’m no-longer in a situation where those Problems are actually causing Big Waves in important parts of my life??”
Which is a problem in and of itself, I know.
Why don’t I care about myself enough to just get to Happy for my own benefit, rather than it having to involve someone else’s comfort with me before I’m willing to Do The Work that will make my life better regardless?
It’s stupid and frustrating and it means that part of this Getting To project is getting a bit of a facelift.
 
Originally, I was going to do my Enchanted Evening spell by putting a glamour wammy on my bathroom and dressing-room mirrors so that, every time I looked at my own reflection, I was also seeing someone worthy of love and care, in the hopes that it would make it easier for me to pick up on the love and care (and other good stuff) being directed at me from all and sundry[1].
I’m still going to do that.
BUT.
… But the whole situation with the Queen Of Cups is that she doesn’t have to use logic to walk her heart through every damn thing. She’s emotionally healthy,and emotionally secure, enough that she is both trust-worthy and trustING in ways that don’t feel like jumping off a cliff (to use Leah Lakshmi’s very apt turn of phrase) and crossing my fingers that someone is going to catch me before I hit the rocks.
Which means I’ve got other Stuff I need to work on as well.
 
So what I did this morning was steap myself a cup of thyme tea and charge it with the prayer of “Open my heart, help me to trust the trustworthy, heal me”.
Tea because: Probably a safer bet than putting drops of pure thyme essential oil directly onto my tongue. But also tea because it has links to awareness, faithfulness, and enlightenment.
I chose Thyme because it corresponds to courage, hope, happiness, purification, healing, strength, the washing away of fear.
Other herbs I can use in similar ways:
Chamomile, lavender, and dill to calm the frightened child in me
Sweet Violet (I’m reading this as the edible flowers of wood violets that grow in my yard – and all over the place) for trust, peace, and strengthening the comfort of the heart
 
As for the glamour wammy on my mirror, I’m thinking it’ll be a cleansing spray that just happens to include a mix of rosemary, sweet orange, and ginger essential oils (plus witch hazel & water for a carrier).
 
Other possibilities for scrubbing away:
A Body Scrub to sluff away all the Negativity that’s been hovering around me ft brown sugar, sweet almond oil, baking soda, rosemary, clove, cedar, tea tree
AND
A Bath Powder to draw confidence, self-assurance, courage and calm ft ylang ylang, ginger, clove, myrrh(!), and sweet orange
 
I find it… veeeeeery interesting… that a LOT of the essential oils that one would use for drawing love, sex, & happy-solid romances into one’s life (and dispelling/preventing jealousy, no less) are also stuff that one would use to increase confidence, courage & self-assurance, while calming your ass down & dispelling fear and depression.
I mean, part of that is just: people use what they’ve got. If you’re a Strega with a rosemary bush the size of your house (or… me… with a cupboard full of pie spices and dried fruit), that stuff is going to find its way into every spell you do.
On the other hand… the two tend to benefit one-another, in my experience, so maybe it’s not that strange.
 
Lastly – though not remotely surprisingly -I’ve been doing a LOT of tarot readings for myself on the question of “How do I get to Happy?” (the Fool Spread is really handy for that kind of question) and the details of making those internal changes in ways that will actually stick and not turn me into more of a wreck in the process.
They’re turning up some… unsurprising but also pretty accurate information, which is a help in terms of things I need to remind myself of like: This is going to be a bit of a slog, so you will have to be patient with yourself. Be brave but not with without compassion for yourself. Push yourself, because it’s going to be hard and you will have to keep leaning into that discomfort, but don’t burn yourself out. Learn from your mistakes, but also forgive yourself and be gentle with yourself at the same time.
 
Wish me luck.
Up next: Fancying up my mirrors and taking a solid soak. Here’s hoping it works.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] So that I could recognize that kind words from a friend are actually meant and true, to pick a non-Faaaaaaaaaamily-related example, and so that (to pick another, even less-socially-fraught one) I could stop interpreting a lack of calls from temp agents as some sort of deliberate punishment for not being available That One Time, or for saying No to that thing I didn’t want to do. So that I can just sit with the quiet (as opposed to the Silence, as in Silent Treatment) of a non-ringing phone without believing in my bones that it’s a commentary on whether or not I’m worthy of someone having my back or looking out for me.

New Year New You 2016: Week 1 – Making Way

So I’m doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation (again) because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. You should try it!
 
Instructions: Clean the house, weed the wardrobes, and generally get physical stuff out of your space (or back in its place). THEN Magically cleanse your place (and your head-space, too). Miss Sugar suggests doing this during the waning moon, which is technically happening right now, but only just.
 
Tarot Card: If I were to assign a tarot card to this week’s prompt, I would almost definitely pick a Fire card. After giving the eye to the Queen, the 8, the 2, and the 4 (as well as The Chariot, as it happens – all that “get-up/wake-up and go” stuff), I’m inclined to stick with the Two of Fire (“Possibilities”) because of its connections to balance & harmony, planning & decisions, and new ventures, plus the fact that it’s a Two, which means this is all about taking small (but consistent) steps towards getting the hang of Doing(New) You well.
 
Thoughts:
I feel like the accumulate/de-stuff-icate cycle is one that I’m never going to actually finish. Like the Wheel of the Year, periods of abundance and paring down happen in their seasons.
I’ve got a year-at-a-glance horoscope (I get the we’moon date book every year as a birthday present to myself) telling me that, in spite of Scorpios (in theory) being better at elimination than accumulation, it’s time to deal with wealth (of various kinds) and material security.
 
A talk with a friend, about two months ago, included the ways in which we’re both more “switching up” than “throwing out” these days. Accumulating stuff, yes, but it’s stuff that will last. Good quality things. Things that actually fit our senses of self (whether we’re talking furniture or machinery or clothing), rather than “single-season” or otherwise disposable items that we’ll wear out too quickly because they’re poorly made. Glass not plastic. Cotton and linen, wool and silk rather than polyester. Things we can repair or alter ourselves. Things we’ve even made ourselves – thus getting Hours Of Fun from the making, before getting (hopefully) Decades Of Fun from the wearing or using of what we made. Things with stories attached to them (“I got this skirt at the Harvest Swap, it used to belong to A. Fatale” or “I got this necklace/yarn/knife on my trip to Iceland, last Summer” or “My wife found this antique yarn winder behind the crack house on the corner – Can you believe they put it in the trash??”).
 
I feel like the stuff in my life is edging slowly towards being the kind of Stuff that is (a) limited (hahaha, here’s hoping), but also (b) almost permaculture-y in the way each item comes with many “purposes”: This shrug will keep me warm (and stylish!) when it’s finished, keep my hands (and mind) busy while I’m knitting (and spinning) the yarn, help me strengthen chatty connections with other fibre artists in my community/ies, and help me become a better knitter & designer, too. This cheese plate is beautiful (beautiful is a purpose in my world), can be used to serve cheese and other goodies, and comes with a story because it’s a wedding present from the House of the Dragon.
 
As far as the state of my home goes…
Yeah…
Thanks, entirely, to our annual Winter Solstice Partay (and the corresponding, too-brief but much-appreciated visit from our Archivist), our house is actually… not a total mess.
Admittedly, “not a total mess” is about as good as it gets around here. Our front room is functional as a dining room, but it’s also doing multi-duty as (a) my spinning wheel storage room (none of my spinning-related machinery is functional… yet), (b) my wife’s steam-engines display area, (c) the work-shop-ish area (still lots of stuff for doing leather work, including a sadle-stitching bench and two sewing machines, but also jewelry-making), and (d) the garage because my wife – somewhat understandably – keeps her skis, ski boots, winter boots, and her bicycle in here.
Still. We’ve been eating at a table with chairs (rather than eating off our knees, sitting on the couch) for a couple of months, and I am overjoyed about that!
The party has meant that our kitchen is stocked (overstocked) with really fancy food, and the living room is cleaner and tidier than it’s been in a month.
We still have (lots of) art and family pictures to put on the walls, and heaven only knows when next we’ll try to tackle that business. I’m eyeing January 1st as a date to take the (put up on December 20th) Winter Solstice Decorations out of the windows, though we’ll see about that as well.
 
Energetically speaking… My altar has had a cursory clean (using a Lysol wipe, of all things!), and I’ve been keeping up with my candle offerings. It’s time to start making water offerings again, I think, though I’m not sure how I’m going to do them. I may pour (boiled) water into the shell-composed tea cup on my altar once a week. Or I may do the water on the stove like I used to do. Maybe a bit of both? I don’t know. But it seems like the right thing to do, so we shall see where I go with this.
My wife has mentioned that my insense gives her headaches, so I’m going to have to find a different way of energetically cleaning my space – It may just mean that I do the Big Clean shortly after she leaves for work on a day when I know she’ll be spending the night elsewhere (Yay, Polyamoury!), since this is one of the least labour-intensive (and therefore most likely to actually get done) means of House Cleansing that I know of. That being said, ti’s been a long-ass while since I gave my place that kind of a clean. Time to get on it, me-thinks.
Other than that, I gave my brain a bit of a once-over as well. Not in the sense of going to my “Magical Internal House” and giving that a wipe down, but by having a look Inside and doing some self-care and assessments (relevant for Week 2, as it happens).
 
Questions:
1) Is my time being well spent?

At this point, mostly yes. I mean, I still Internet waaaaaaaay too much, and I know that. I’m generally making a point of keeping off the computer (like turning it right off, when possible) when my wife’s at home. I find myself looking at things that I’m neglecting though.
Some of it is “Should” stuff, like sending out more job applications for part-time/casual reception/admin work. But that’s not actually what I’m concerned with on the NYNY Project Front this go-round. (Doesn’t mean I should ignore it, and I do need to acknowledge it, but it’s not my focus. You’ll see why that’s relevant in a second).
Stuff I’ve been neglecting due to the guilt-shame-fear spiral that I have around money and employment:
(A) Self-care & my mental-emotional health. Which is part of why my goals for this Challenge are what they are, to be honest.
(B) Spiritual study and contemplation. Yes. I’m such a bougie whatever-whatever, but that stuff is actually important to me, and I’ve been missing it for over a year. I want to get it back! I’m considering the remarkably affordable Alternative Tarot Course from Little Red Tarot, actually, as part of way to get some of this back – this is also why I’m picking a tarot card for each week of this Challenge.
ART for the sake of making and finishing art. Yes, I’ve got a poetry manuscript on the go, and I want to keep up with that. But I miss scribbling stories for the hell of it, and I’d like to see if I can’t do something like the Fanfic 100, but for Random Short Stories and try to flash-write something in the 2000-word range, maybe once a week on Productivity Wednesdays or something).
 
This is all stuff that my Poisoned-by-Capitalism brain has a lot of trouble with allowing me to “get away with” doing (and, yes, finding myself a damn part-time job – the kind that lets me blog/novel/poet as needed in between phone calls and accepting deliveries, while earning a salary – would seriously help on this front, but go with me here) , but which are also all things that I think will seriously help me with my actual NYNY goals as well. Funnily enough, those goals have to do with putting down the baggage I’ve been hauling around for 20 years so that I can get myself free (or at least free-ER) and be happier and more open to Receiving things. More on that next week.
 
I’ve signed up to do one volunteer shift per week at a local food centre that focuses on neighbourliness and skill-building. I figure, I’m a fucking Kitchen Witch. Food is how I help people out. I might as well do it on a larger scale and see where it gets me. If nothing else, I’ll learn how to Feed The Multitude on donated produce, and that’s a skill I’d love to have.
 
2)What Big Rocks Are You Carrying?
I am carrying a couple of doozies. The whole point of doing NYNY again is to actually put some of them the fuck down. But I’ll fill you all in on that with my Goals post for Week Two.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

New Moon – Frost Moon Begins (Notice It, When You’re Getting What You Ask For)

I turned 36 a little over a week ago.
I ended up spending it Holding Still For As Long As Possible (25 minutes at a time) doing a two-full-day modeling job at a new drawing studio in town. It was a good gig, and I hope she’ll have me back next semester.
It feels strange to have not marked my birthday in a bigger way. A year ago, I was really hung up on the fact that, for the 3rd year in a row, my birthday had been pre-empted/over-shadowed by a local leather event and I was soooo determined that this year I would have Fuss.
… And then a whole bunch of Extenuating Circumstances happened, and my birthday “big event” ended up being having a quiet dinner in with my wife and two of her other partners. It was a really pleasant meal, and it also felt strange. Like “Why are my people not around me right now?”
 
I did get a surprise visit from my out-of-town partner – for reasons that had nothing to do with my birthday, although we did make a point of eating cake together to celebrate it, which was nice. I did get take out by a friend (currently in Berlin) who brought me to a fancy spa for a day in the hot tubs. I did get taken out for lunch by a friend who just wanted to check in with me, and didn’t even know it had been my birthday two days earlier. So I have had some fuss directed my way, and that’s been nice.
…And I still kind of want to have a party. Possibly in early December. I could call it my “unbirthday party” or something and have people out for martinis or similar.
Still. I got something that I asked for. Look at that. O.O
 
The past 10 days have involved changing up our home a little bit. My wife and I put up (most of) our art and (some, though nowhere near all, of) our ancestor pictures. We tidied the kitchen, emptied (again) the front room and started using it as a dining room. It’s also going to be a music-and-fibre-arts space, but that’ll come. We’ve got most of the furniture sorted out. I just need to add an extenion cord and my loom, and then I can start filling up my new book case with small bins of yarn, roving, fabric and books on sewing and self-suficiency (profided they’ll fit -I think I can make it work)… which will mean that my craft cabinet can hold my beading supplies and some of my less-frequently-used candle-making supplies, too.
 
I can’t tell you how good it feels to eat dinner at a table like a fucking grown up.
We haven’t had a (usable, available) dining room table since we got married. Right now, my big, drop-leaf table lives in our kitchen and is basically being used as a shelf. I want to get it cleared off so that it can be a functional work-surface that gets cleaned & tidied on the regular. That’s going to take some doing, but I think it can be done. Maybe even before Frost Moon is full (wouldn’t that be great? That would be great!)
 
If feels a bit like things are moving more freely in the house because of what we’ve done recently. My sewing scissors came back to me. I’m starting (in bits and pieces) to be able to Feel My Feelings on fronts where I’d been pushing them away – like pushing away good feelings that I want to experience out of fear that, in letting myself feel them, I’d just be setting myself up for more pain. I’m doing Sofia’s self-forgiveness challenge which… is definitely challenging, I don’t mind telling you.
I feel like I’ve been kind of a massive failure at adulting this year. Like I was supposed to get the hang of so many things, and I just didn’t. But I recently re-read a post from a little over a year ago and here’s what I said I wanted from 2015:
 

I want 2015 to be a year of (a) reliable, steady part-time employment (and, as such, income!), but also a year of (b) writing, and (c) food-ing – garden, kitchen, feasting and preserves, you name it. There are other things. All of my Shadow Stuff is going to have to keep happening. I want there to be enough modeling, mixed in with all the rest of it, to keep me happy (and in cash, and in art). I want there to be lots of sewing and fibre-arts-ing, lots of Making All The Things. Without having to worry about whether or not I’ll be able to sell them somewhere.

 
…And that’s basically what it’s looked like.
The part-time work hasn’t been steady, but it’s been available when I needed it: Repeat single-day contracts from close-to-home reception clients who requested me specifically. A few months of 10 hours/week doing data entry from home that let me pay my rent all through the summer.
I’ve been mostly (if barely) supporting myself with modeling work – which is amazing – and have a LOT of modeling coming up (starting in a few hours!) this week.
I’ve spent most of this year growing my garden, keeping people fed, and making preserves.
I’ve fallen in love with a new person, whom I hadn’t even met when I wrote the post I just quoted.
I’m maybe, possibly, starting to get the hang of making Secret Project X work out the way I want it to (fingers massively crossed – we’ll see what happens on this front, as it may be just a fluke).
I (self-)published a chapbook and have continued to work on my “How To Cook a Heart” poetry manuscript, with an eye to the kind of themes I want to explore.
I finished two weaving projects on my loom, and I know what sewing projects I’m going to do in order to incorporate them into further work. I finished my fetish shawl in time to wear it during Unholy Harvest.
My wife is offering me a way to (a) help her out, while (b) making some money for myself through Making Things With My Hands, which I think will be good thing for me to do.
 
… I think I’m sort of getting what I want.
 
Which is scary as fuck, I don’t mind telling you.
 

Scense From My Brain:
Me (wonderingly): … I think I’m sort of getting what I want…
Frightened Self: AUGH!!!
Reasonable Self: Uh…? What’s up with the flailing? Isn’t this a good thing?
Frightened Self: But if I get everything I want, then–
Reasonable Self: …then?
Frightened Self: then… then… I’ll be… happy?
Reasonable Self: … Is that a bad thing? To be happy?
Frightened Self: … Yes? Won’t something bad happen to me if I’m happy? Won’t I get punished? Won’t some huge hand from out of the sky come and break me into a thousand pieces and take away everyone I love and everything I’ve ever done and leave me destitute and alone and friendless and starving in the cold?
Mama Self: Oh, honey… Baby girl, listen to me. You are not going to get punished for feeling happy, for asking for what you want, for letting people love you, for shining as bright as you are, for singing like you do. You are not Oliver Twist. And this is not elementary school. You are alowed to want. And you are alowed to have. You remember Leah’s poem? About how a femme with her legs open, asking for more than a kick or a slur, is a blessing?
If you open your arms (your hands, your legs) and ask, say what you want, you are not going to get beaten down for the asking.

 
The thing is… I don’t know how to finish that Mama Self thought. I don’t know how to say “what will happen instead of getting kicked”. I’m afraid I’d be lying to myself if I said “when you ask, you will receive”. I’m not even sure if saying “I will take care of you” will make a difference, if that’s even a promise I can make myself. If that’s even the point.
 
Liz Worth has an elemental tarot spread that goes:
I feel
I think
I will
I am

And I think that, if I were to pull those cards for myself right now (not happening – I need to leave for work shortly), that my Will card would be so scrambled. So much of magic – whether we’re talking Glamour or talking Changing Conciousness At Will – is knowing what you want. And I am SO afraid to want, let alone to voice those wants. The Queen of Cups is something that I wish I could be. Open. Receptive. Ready and waiting and knowing, trusting, she’ll be filled. I want it to be safe for me to receive.
 
Now how the hell do I make that happen?

Full Moon – Harvest Moon Crests (Autumn Equinox, Super Moon)

So, about two weeks ago, I was sick as a dog and making a point of watching that big, beautiful Super Moon come up over the city anyway.
It was my first time out of the house for something like 48 hours, which is no big deal in my neck of the woods, but which bears mentioning since less than a day earlier, I was barely able to get out of bed without getting winded.
My wife had a great time at the Metal Show, by the way, and brought me home an AMAZING chest cold, since you were wondering.
Yeah. She was sick, too. It’s been a great week chez House Of Goat, let me tell you.
 
Anyway. That’s a big part of why I’m only getting around to posting (and writing, um…) my Lunar Cycles post for this paticular cycle now. Sorry about that, folks.
 
I was recently gifted a tarot deck (the “Daughters of the Moon” deck which… is a product of its time, and which kind of fucks with the lay-out of the standard tarot, changing up what the cards tend to mean… This is a bother, since I tend to read with my Zen Tarot deck and use various Little Books to get different perspectives on things. It helps if they’re all interpreting from the same general angle… although maybe that’s weird and silly of me). Regardless, I’m thrilled to have this and really touched that she thought of me when it was time to give her deck a new home.
 
This, of course, has me thinking about “inheritance” in the community sense, and how we pass things along to each other. I have a skirt I want to pass on to someone specific. People keep furniture “in the family” frequently, and we’ve inherited book shelves, a table and chairs, a rocking chair, and a bunch of other stuff from various friends who needed to make space in their own places. Some day, it would be nice to be able to do the same for other folks, not because we’re in money-trouble and need to downsize back to a one-bedroom apartment or something, but because we’re combining houses with a third partner (for example) and are able to pass things along from a place of abundance and generocity. That would be really nice.
 
Thinking About:
Acts of love and pleasure: How creating garments for people I care about, mending their clothes, cooking food that they enjoy and can eat, how these things are acts of pleasure – I like cooking, knitting, spinning, sewing; and I feel accomplished and nurturing and clever when I can solve a problem or have Just The Right Thing when someone needs it – and they’re acts of love, too, because I don’t necessarily do them for people I don’t care for[1].
 
By the time of this posting, Unholy Harvest has come and gone for another year. I’m really touched and happy that I got to do a couple of religiously significant body-mods for people, and I’m also really proud of myself for getting my shawl done (or done enough) in time to wear it for the whole weekend. Not bad for a year-and-a-half worth of work. 🙂
 
The wheel turns on, as it always does, and I’m back home in time for frost warnings and the heavy need to get the last of my canning done (I may or may not be able to rescue another harvest of cherry tomatoes, for example, but there’s still lots of chard and kale to freeze, plus I do want to make a good-sized batch of pumpkin butter, so… Onwards!)
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] That said, in the interests of growing up to be a Community Auntie, I am pushing myself to do this for people I don’t necessarily like and/or people I don’t know (yet) but who need a hand. It’s important. My lovely wife and I are agreed that we need to have an Open Door in this regard.