Category Archives: local

New Year New You 2021 – King of Coins Project, Week 6: Looking for Omens

I’m (once again, still) doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. It’s a good mix of practical, magical, and thought-based exercises to help accomplish specific and significant change in your own life. If it’s relevant to your interests, give it a try!

Instructions: “The point of this prompt is more about being open to an experience and relaxing your mind and seeing what kind of revelations you come to.”

Tarot Card: This is a toss-up between Home and New Vision, but in the end I went with the former, for reasons that will become apparently shortly.

“Home” the Wildwood Tarot’s Ten of Stones: A traditional roundhouse with a deep, thatched roof, its doorway flanked by tall, carved stones, and a mature tree growing through the roof as central post, is seen through a stone archway.

It’s well-known that I’m a home-body. I call myself a kitchen witch for a reason, and I’m enough of an introvert that, after nearly two years of extremely limited socializing, I’m… fine, actually. Most of my Places of Ritual Significance – with the exception of a night club that I haven’t been to in decades but of-which I hold a lot of fond memories, a kink party that doesn’t happen anymore, and a few spots in DC – are literally inside my house. The slow, wonder-inducing walks that I take through local nature preserves are… mostly within 10 minutes walk of my front door. The river is down the street. Holy ground is right here, under my feet.

This absolutely fits with How I Do, and I kind of want for literally everyone to have that experience of deep magic and aliveness in the microbioregions that are their respective neighbourhoods. But it means that any situation where I’m magically Making Changes in my life (which: I am also a creature of habit who is scared of change, so) includes the stumbling point of “I also have to Do Something New” on purpose in order to show that I’m for-real game for those changes to happen.

I’ve been reading Lyandra Lynn Haupt’s Rooted – which I do recommend if you want to read some easy-to-follow ecophilosophy, it’s lovely – and what I read last Saturday morning, while drinking my reheated coffee, exhorted her readers to wander in a way that didn’t follow their usual routes around areas that they know.

So, between that and the snow and my stiff neck, I decided that I should get myself out for a walk.

I opted to head north-east to the little woodland nearby that – barring the couple of residential streets that cut through it – runs roughly between a small creek and a big park with a baseball diamond, across 3-4 city blocks.

The snow came down heavier. I saw what I thought were three crows, but which were actually two crows and a raven (which explained why the crows were so shouty about the whole thing). I admit, I made a “clock-clock-clock” approximation of a raven sound, at which point the crows headed further back towards the river and let the raven get on with their life.

I kept going north-northeast, rather than turning onto more familiar trails that would have led me down to the creek, watching my footing on the snow-slick, frost-hard, uneven ground, and noticing the beech trees (one of the few I can reliably pick out on bark alone). The little wood is full of foot bridges – which tells me how wet this place must be during melt season – and I crossed a bunch of them. Eventually I popped out on the other side of the wood (ha – and, as I type this, Madonna sings out “I made it through the wilderness” on my playlist…), still in familiar territory, just a part I’m not in that often. I headed home by a different road, and heard a familiar pip-pip. I looked around, and spotted the petal-red flash of feathers, a cardinal – probably in his first Winter – learning to fly, and navigate, through falling snow. Not a struggle, exactly, though it didn’t look easy. Definitely a learning process.

The red of his feathers made me think of the red of willow roots – red as paint – in the water of the nearby creek, all of a season ago.

I cam home, made hot chocolate, and pulled tarot cards for the New Moon.

Mary El Tarot Deck – The Tower (a burning image of something that looks a bit like the statue of liberty), reversed; The 10 of Disks (a winged, black horse whose rider is a white goat with numerous, spiraling horns, carrying a stylized set of scales), upright.

This is one of the reasons I opted for “Home” as my card for this prompt. Because the Ten of Disks fell out of my deck when I asked “Okay, then what?” after initially pulling The Tower. This is one of my “Everything will be okay” cards. Like Angler Fish June Cleaver, or my gods and ancestors, were just like “Relax. We know that your anxious as heck about this big change you’re about to make minus the safety net you initially thought you might get. But you’re not going to starve. You’re not going to lose your house. There’s going to be some struggle, but you’ll get the hang of your new normal, the way you always do, and everything will be okay.”

It made me think of the raven as a reminder of “You have back-up”. It reminded me of the cardinal, red as flame amid all that white, getting the hang of a reality that’s new, but for-which he wasn’t unequipped.

I admit, I want to skip the struggle. (Don’t we all). I want to skip the bit where things fall apart. At the same time, I think “things fall apart”, in this scenario, is the bit I’m in right now. The concluding that it’s time to leave. The awkward (hopefully not that awkward) part between handing in my notice and actually being done. The part where I try to tie up all the loose ends and, hopefully, don’t have to train my replacement before I go.

It’s possible that the Ten of Earth, the “what happens after” card, is literally “and then you’ll be home” – working from home, entirely – but I hope it means that everything will be okay, too.

New Moon – Long Nights Moon Begins

A waxing crescent moon, craters visible, hangs in the lower right quadrant against a black sky. The words “Long Nights Moon” overlay the image in white script.

 

Early December. The Season of the Hag starts today and, right on time, a snowfall. Just deep enough to cover the ground, but light enough that I can sweep my neighbour’s steps rather than getting out the shovel just yet. My wife is away for the weekend, with her girlfriend, and my girlfriend is due to arrive this coming Wednesday for a couple of weeks. She’ll still be here when this barely-new moon is full, and for a couple of days beyond that.

This weekend is going to be a mix of Trying To Relax combined with doing a lot of dishes, getting the second bedroom ready for her arrival, and probably doing a big grocery shop for thing like romano beans and veggie sausages and tempeh.

But it’s also the weekend I make a libation to the Hag of Winter, change the wreath on my front door, and put up the holly garlands by way of seasonal decorations.

Sadly, I didn’t get the extra hours from one of my comms jobs that I was hoping for. I’m not saying it won’t happen eventually, but it’s not happening going into 2022, so: Plan B is in effect. We’ll make it work. I’m looking forward to the day – 7-8 weeks from now – when I’ll have more time on my hands to do things like “stay on top of my kitchen” and “make things from scratch”. I still have a list of things I want to make – jars of romano beans and chick peas and stewing beef, honey-almond-cinnamon ice cream, apple butter, bread (it’s been AGES!), but also skirts, sweaters, button/lacing additions to the slippers I made 2 years ago – that will require time and focus that I haven’t (confession…) wanted to devote to “work” when the other kind of work has been so exhausting.

I’m looking forward the slow turning of Winter into Spring 2022 as a time – I hope – of welcoming my creativity back to wakefulness and finding a better balance between “work that makes me money”, “work that makes me HAPPY”, and “Actual LEISURE, Thanks”.

The voice at the back of my head – which is probably just plane old me and not the whisperings of Angler Fish June Cleaver (but who knows) – asks “Okay, so how are you going to make that happen? You’re still going to be working on Mondays and Tuesdays, just doing a different job. What’s the plan here, Me?” And, mostly, it just means getting out of bed before 9am and doing some of that Productive Home stuff in the hour or two before starting my money-making work day. Sewing or knitting while I chat with my girls and drink my morning coffee. Taking myself out of the house for a walk every Saturday morning. Making a point of shutting down work and reading a book for an hour once dinner’s on the go. Staying off social media more than I do (I say while blogging, um…) Just getting my priorities sorted in a way that makes me put the money-work away, deliberately, every day and that helps me avoid Mindless Scrolling.

Right now, there’s a grey squirrel eating birdseed on my window. A couple of crows have flown over the house – one of them just landed in the tree across the street). And my own little birds are preening and waking up now that there’s some afternoon light coming in through our north-by-northwest-facing window. I need to take myself back up the street and pick up some birdseed for them, I think.

Mary El Tarot Deck – The Tower (a burning image of something that looks a bit like the statue of liberty), reversed; The 10 of Disks (a winged, black horse whose rider is a white goat with numerous, spiraling horns, carrying a stylized set of scales), upright.

Behold, the tarot cards I pulled today. More specifically, I pulled The Tower, Reversed and then, because landing on the tower isn’t strictly FUN even when it’s not scary, I basically said, “Okay, but then what?” nd shuffled until something fell out of the deck. Which, thankfully, was the very positive and reassuring Ten of Earth.

I’ll expand on this a little elsewhere, but my basic read on this is:

  1. That which falls apart wasn’t meant to last.
  2. After the struggle, you find your feet (your security, your sense of home and safety, your material well-being) again.
  3. Don’t freak out.

I mean… I’ll take it. This is fine.

~*~

Movement: I went for a walk this morning, through the little bit of succession woodland near my house while the snow was falling.

Attention: Right this second? I’m paying attention to the stiffness in my back and neck, and to the smell coming from my oven so I don’t let my lunch/dinner burn by accident. Also hunting up new tunes to add to my Winter Solstice mix, and keeping an eye on the snow outside, which seems to have let up for now.

Gratitude: Thankful for an exit strategy, new-to-me clothes (hand-me-downs from my Mom, because I’m at the age where my style and my mom’s overlap enough that this works out), a quiet day, a walk in the woods, delicious lunch (lupper?) in the oven, clean mason jars, a video date this evening, my wife getting some Enforced Down Time, my girlfriend coming up to visit very soon(!), my friend continuing to make a swift recovery from her health scare, beeswax candles, just enough snow to be pretty without being difficult the move through, pretty music playing while I write this, having options that allow me to leave a job when I don’t like it. Grateful for love and support, and for being able to experience and accept those things as true.

Inspiration: Moon phases and astrological positions, weather, seasonal changes, local birds, the wind.

Creation: As I mentioned here, I’ve been drafting a poem (sometimes more) every day since the last Full Moon. It’s felt good to do, without being arduous. I may want to keep it going for longer than my one-lunar-cycle duration but, for now, I’m sticking with that and am at roughly the half-way point. Some of them are… mediocre at the absolute best. But some of them have some good bones to work with, which is nice to see given how long I went without reliably poeting for a while there.

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

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


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

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


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

Asking the Earth What She Needs

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

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.
Hallelujah.
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.
Hallelujah.
 
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.
 
I read Liz Worth’s recent post about prophetic dreams, which talks about offerings, about letting go, and I could help thinking of my own post from five months back asking “Have I Done Right By You?”
Maybe it’s not surprising that I pulled The Empress today.
 
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.
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Full Moon – Squash Moon Crests (Autumn Equinox)

Huge, ripe fairy tale pumpkin - light brown skin, deep orange flesh, and lots of seeds - sitting on on a thick butcher's block cutting board. The pumpkin has a big wedge cut out of it, so you can see how thick the flesh is. Photo by me, taken last January.

Huge, ripe fairy tale pumpkin – light brown skin, deep orange flesh, and lots of seeds – sitting on on a thick butcher’s block cutting board. The pumpkin has a big wedge cut out of it, so you can see how thick the flesh is. Photo by me, taken last January.


 
There’s no threat of frost yet, but the temperatures below 10C overnight and it’s cold in the shade (and in the sun, and in the house because I try not to turn the money-devouring-furnace on until October).
The picture, above, is of a pumpkin I bought last Hallowe’en. It’s the kind they sell – dark green, blazed with orange, and very under ripe – at the grocery store as a “decorative gourd” but which is hella edible, albeit very watery. It sat on my table for a few months before it ripened to a pale, milk-chocolatey brown, and then I cut it open and baked it in wedges. It’s too watery for pie, even when baked (flavour is too diluted) but it’s a gorgeous addition diced into stews and braises.
I have zero ripe winter squash on my vines (not surprising, they usually take another month for me, and get harvested in late October) and I might not even get any, since what fruiting flowers I’ve had have been gnawed upon by the squirrels. But I chose this picture because it’s getting to be that time of year.
The Season of the Witch.
 
It’s Autumn Equinox today. Full moon in Aries tomorrow. The day and night are balance – same duration – and boy howdy, was I feeling that these past couple of days.
For those who aren’t in the area, my neck of the woods got walloped as it rarely does, with a big wind storm and a tornado that destroyed a number of people’s homes and took out power to a number of big chunks of the city, including our place (which is definitely still standing and, given that I’m typing this at all, has its power back on).
I gotta say: The limited daylight hours are very noticeable when you’re trying to wash dishes by candle light.
 
A power outage is a funny thing.
The first night is almost like a vacation. We stood outside and watched the stars (which were so much more visible with no ambient city lights), waved to the big, gibbous (then in Aquarius) moon, shared a glass of wine.
Dinner was home made bread with a fancy terrine and half a wheel of local brie. I got some knitting done and we sat on the couch and chatted.
The next day was a bit more stressful.
Wondering how long it would be before the lights came back on. Wondering how many things we can reasonably cook on a butane camp stove before (a) we run out of butane, and (b) we have to start cooking outdoors because it’s too cold to ventilate by opening up the windows. Wondering how to manage our very well-stocked (go me!) freezers and fridge when the electricity wasn’t keeping them cold anymore.
 
That was the big one, tbh.
Like, ice cream for breakfast is fun and all, but I was very, very glad I’d made that batch of yoghurt – and thus used up half of my milk – on Thursday, because yoghurt would keep for a lot longer.
Wondering how pan-fried kidneys were going to work out (probably fine, even with no garlic in the house), and whether or not I could do a slow-braised pork tongue on that little camp stove, or pan-fry more than one chicken leg at a time. Wondering how long chicken stock in unsealed jars can keep at room temperature.
Wondering whether or not I could make an adequate, pan-fried falafel-type… patty(?) using the already-cooked, whole chick peas and black beans rapidly thawing in the freezer… Would they hold together if putting them through my food mill left them kind of… chunky? Would they taste okay?
Wondering if we could rig the non-functioning, grill-free barbecue shell in the back up to be a wood-burning fire pit where we could (maybe?) use downed branches to make a longer-term cooking area, if we needed one. (Would it warp or even melt the aluminum? Could we find enough wood in the immediate area to even do this?) Could we drag Boroslava, our chimney-free, not entirely structurally sound but remarkably resilient, wood stove into the back yard and get her up and running again?
Wondering, if we did that, could I bake bread, one loaf at a time, inside our biggest cast iron pot – Dutch oven style – once our remaining loaf was used up, or if I was going to be making tortillas (thank you all the gods for still having running water) and dicing up the rillette left over from last weekend’s guest visit and turning into pasta sauce. (Wondering if I had enough pasta to do this more than twice).
Wondering how to pickle the frozen veggies (which, tbh, probably wouldn’t have been a problem. We’d just eat them before we ate the raw ones that are still good to keep fresh on the counter).
 
I’m kind of making this sound like it was a huge disaster.
It wasn’t. Not for us.
We’ve been offering hot showers and freezer space to friends whose power isn’t back on yet, and a friend of a friend needs a lot of help, so we’re waiting on the supply list and will see what-all we can send her way. But for us it was mildly inconvenient at best.
But our own Ottawa Storm experience was short and really easy.
A friend who had gas in her car came and picked us up, whisked us and our empty gas cans out to an area south of town that still had power, and we stocked up on fuel (how Mad Max of us), got cash out of a bank, and bought a few bags of groceries – tinned tuna, dry beans, short pasta, quick-cooking grains… stuff that can be cooked on the stove and doesn’t need a fridge – before going out for burgers and heading home again.
Not a big deal.
And it was still SUCH a relief when the lights came on again.
 
Like, I felt my shoulders drop and my chest unclench, just a little bit, when the fridge and freezer started humming and I could clearly see what I was doing over the sink.
It’s got me wondering “Would we have gotten used to it? Or would we have fallen apart?”
 
It’s got me thinking – again – about how having a rocket stove in the back yard – just a thin chimney of brick, topped with a steel or iron trivet, with space at the bottom for air feed and, a little further up, an equally small space for twigs and pine cones and other kindling – would make a difference in terms of what we could cook, when, and for how long, in a situation like this (or, hey, in a situation where it’s over 36C and being able to cook pasta or sausages without adding more heat to house is really appealing).
It’s got me thinking – again – about how having pressure-canned beans (like chick peas and romano beans – big legumes, as opposed to quick-cooking lentils and split peas) and meat (think chunks of brisket, pork shoulder, or uncured ham) on hand means not having to keep that meat in the freezer, and not having to worry about how long it takes a large, already-soaked bean to cook through. (A friend managed to wangle us a membership to the Ottawa Tool Library – bless her forever – and I will be borrowing their pressure canner in short order with this in mind).
It’s got me thinking – again – how useful it would be to have one of those crank-powered flashlights that doubles as radio and a tiny generator for charging phones. Even if the cell service was intermittent, it helped to be able to check in with friends and make sure people were home and safe. It’s got me thinking that having an ancient, touch-tone (or rotary dial) phone on hand would be a good idea, if only because it’s not cordless – doesn’t require a charged battery at all, and can work on the (sometimes buried, and more likely to be functional) phone lines rather than needing a cell tower – and would let us (maybe) keep in touch with people for longer.
 
Basically, I’m thinking about how under-prepared I felt, in spite of a garden and a million jars of crushed tomatoes and apple butter hanging around the place.
The sun will be DOWN (and the full moon – in Aries – will be up) in a little less than an hour and a half. And I will have light to cook by, and a stove to cook on, and I am so freaking grateful for both of those things. O.O
 
Autumn Equinox is Harvest time, time to remember what you sowed in the spring and to take stock of how those plans and projects have developed. What are you harvesting/reaping at this time?
I was doing the Eat From the Larder Challenge (hahaha… funny how that works out) and spending all of March avoiding my Empress Project.
Now I’m here and being told by Sarah Gottesdiener, over at Little Red Tarot, that “What [I’m] making is manifesting” and to “Get a plan you believe in and invest in [my]self”.
The folks at Hoodwitch that the Aries Full Moon energy is good for spell work regarding courage/bravery, overcoming obstacles and clearing the way, and for letting go of anger. I love the horoscope they provide for Scorpio:

You don’t have to know what you want; you don’t even have to know where you’re going. What you do need is to be interested in finding out the answers.

 

The Eight of Fire (Silicon Dawn) - An anthropomorphic salamander-raccoon hurls a fireball at the viewer while leveling up x3.

The Eight of Fire (Silicon Dawn) – An anthropomorphic salamander-raccoon hurls a fireball at the viewer while leveling up x3.


 
An appropriate card for the Aries Full Moon. A card that says “Shuck off all those ‘shoulds’, all those notions of what you’re allowed to be, and to want!” A card that says “Take action! Take a chance, before it passes you by!”
I am trying not to freak right out about Not Knowing The Answer.
The intention I set back at the New Moon, was “Help me be brave”.
And I have been.
I have a date lined up (for right around the New Moon in Libra), in one of those places where it’s socially appropriate to revel in my violence and possessiveness and specifically to explore some explicit, specific desires that I’ve been curious about for a few years now. This is awesome but, while I definitely like this woman – we get along well and our interests dovetail nicely and she’s cute as heck – I have no idea how our planned shenanigans are going to turn out and my tendency to catastrophize (and not even in a useful way) is strong right now. O.O
 

Eight of Arrows “Struggle” (L) and The Ancestor (R) – Wildwood Tarot – On the left, someone in a tattered cloak struggles through the snow and the windy, gathering dark, carrying a lantern. On the right, A tall woman with a deer’s head stands in the snowy woods next to a bare birch, drumming on a bodhran. Behind her the new moon sinks towards the horizon.


 
The cards I drew for this Full Moon meditation aren’t the easiest ones for me. “Struggle”, which has shown up recently, is pretty self-explanatory and The Heirophant – for all that she’s presented here as both a figure of stern guidance and someone who’s actually got your best interests at heart (as opposed to, say, any given Pope ever in history) – is still a card with the potential to lean towards “thou shalt not” and the kind of social expectations that queer, emotionally messed-up, under-employed, polyamourous me consistently fails to meet.
And yet…
What I see here is “Yes, this is hard, but you have support if you need it, you have guidance if you need it”, possibly with a side of “You have your (various – social and magical/religious) traditions to draw on here, you don’t have to do this entirely by yourself”.
 
If I were to turn this into a request to any ancestors and gods who happen to be listening, I would ask: “Help me to trust. Help me to ask out loud.”
 
~*~
 
Motion: Yard work and modeling. My lower back and hips are not thrilled about this, but I’m glad to be doing work I enjoy.
 
Attention: The weather. Paying attention to the temperature, but also to the wind and whether or not there’s rain in the forecast. But also paying attention to what I have in my freezer, what I have in my fridge, what needs to be eaten first. Yeah. The power outage is over, and I’m still watching to see if the lights are flickering.
 
Gratitude: Light. electricity. The fridge and freezer are working again and we didn’t have any food spoilage. Pretty women who think I’m cool (and cool women who think I’m pretty, tbh). A ride home from work today, with further rides for the rest of the week. Maybe getting to (finally) see a friend tomorrow, who I haven’t seen since August. Having a duvet to add to the bed now the the weather is cold enough to screw with my hips and make it hard to sleep otherwise. Spending the Equinox chatting and knitting and drinking tea with a bunch of bi nerds in my neighbourhood. Hot food on a cold day. Getting to watch the stars come out and the moon come up with my lovely wife while drinking white wine on the back steps. So many beautiful things.
 
Inspiration: Crisp nights. Leather season. Blustery, bright days. Misty mornings and rushing clouds. Autumn is beautiful.
 
Creation: Not a whole lot, tbh. Though I did decide to take part in the local Smut Slam, pretty much on the spur of the moment. Wrote a less-than-five-minutes story based on events from my own life (done as a series of vignettes draped over the frame of a confession), memorized it, and presented it over the course of about an hour. And I’m pretty pleased with myself for that one.

Warming Herbs for Winter

Hey there!
So Snow Moon began not too long ago (not that I’ve done my blog post about it or anything, but… bear with me), and the snows have come in force, bringing a lot of ice and a lot of quite cold (-23C, so seasonal, but not horrific if you’ve got somewhere warm to be) temperatures.
When I think of “warming herbs” – meaning herbs (and spices) that will produce heat in the body to help you sweat out illness and similar – I tend to think of things like ginger and cinnamon. These days, I also think of garlic and mustard (Woohoo!), but I was wondering – thanks to this post over at Little Red Tarot – what else I might be able to draw on, in terms of locally grow-able flowers, leaves, and roots, that will help someone (like, say, ME – I got a bad bronchial+sinus infection, quite a few years ago now, and it’s left me pretty susceptible to getting more of them) deal with Winter illnesses at home, without having to book an appointment with my over-stretched GP.
 
Labador Tea (Ledum glandulous) – good for calming coughs. Also good – when the dried roots & leaves are ground and added to an ointment – for helping to relieve chapped lips and hands.
 
Lavender – I use the essential oil to help heal badly chapped lips and knuckles when the cold, dry air makes them split. NOTE: Lavender is a common allergen, so be careful with this one. Topically, it’s good for helping to heal burns. It’s a powerful antibacterial and anti-fungal (so, for example, good to use on your feet if they are getting gross after weeks of heavy socks).
 
German Chamomile (Roman Chamomile works too, but German is hardier for the garden) – Steep the flowers into a tea to help gently warm you up. If it’s anything like Ox-Eye Daisies, it will help to increase circulation, but… meh?
 
Burdock Root – Like chamomile. Make a tea of the roots (you can also tincture them)
 
Mullein (Verbascum thrapsis) – One of the primary herbs for any lung problem, including whooping cough, asthma, bronchitis and chest colds. Allegedly, the leaves were smoked to relieve lung problems. I wonder if you could use them in a hot water inhalation (the way we use eucalyptus essential oil).
 
Angelica ROOT – including (hard to find, apparently) Ontario native species Purple Angelica (Angelica atropurpurea) – will help “cut through obstruction” and make you sweat. This one is easy to grow from seed and needs lots of space in the garden. It’s a carrot-family plant, and should be harvested in the fall (late October, early November) of its first growing season. Use the leaves to make a chest compress to relieve inflamation.
In TCM, this root is called Dong Quai, and is used for menstrual stuff like relieving PMS symptoms & menstrual cramps, or helping to encourage a late period to get started. It’s also good for upset stomachs (think gas, bloating, digestive difficulties… but also (apparently?) IBS and colitis?)
As a Winter Herb, though, it’s particularly good – steeped as a tea, or made into a tincture – for helping to increase your circulation, reduce mild fevers (don’t use it for bad fevers), and help you to loosen up thick, gummy phlegm that’s making it hard to breathe.
NOTE: If you are a pasty, white person like me? This can make you more sensitive to sunlight. Also it’s not wise to take this one while you’re pregnant or lactating (it’s bad for fetuses and kids under three).
Allegedly, the taste is somewhere between celery and… juniper? I have no idea how that works, but people candy it and say that angelica root tea tastes good rather than, like, barely tolerable, so… maybe it’s one to look into?
 
Peppermint – The leaves make a good tea for coughs. Essential oil is cooling (topically) and anti-microbial (see: “mint”) so, when accessed through the leaves, can help get rid of coughs and colds that way.
 
Basil, Thyme, and Rosemary – Like mint, these herbs make a tea (or an addition to savory dishes) that acts as a digestive aid and can help push through light-weight phlegm. Good for when you have a frog in your throat, not so useful for something heavy like walking pneumonia.
 
Fennel – Simmer the seeds to make a tea – which you can drink as-is, or else thicken into a syrup for use in calming coughs and shortness of breath as well as loosening up congestion. Apparently you can’t use this stuff in high doses as it can cause spasms and hallucinations (I don’t know what constitutes “high doses”, though, so that’s not very helpful).
 
Yarrow – Use the leaves and flowers to make a tea, or add them to a bath, to help you sweat out a fever. (Drink lots of water with this stuff. Also, avoid this one if you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant). The tea encourages circulation and combines well with peppermint to help one conquer a cold or fever. (Also lowers blood pressure? Maybe, if you have low-enough-to-worry-about blood pressure, this is one to avoid?)
 
Anise Hyssop – Use the leaves to make a tea to help with colds and with chest pain brought on by coughing. You can use them in a hot bath or inhalation to help you sweat.
 
Garlic – This is a fairly powerful antibacterial and antiviral (eating whole cloves of it raw will also make you – or at least ME – throw it right back up, though, so make sure to mix it with something easier to swallow). It’s also improves circulation, which will help warm you up.
 
Cedar (leaves/fronds) – Cedar has antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties. A tea – or a hot bath – made with the tips of the leaves, is good for coughs and colds. The essential oil can be used, topically, in an ointment like vix to help relieve congestion (don’t take cedar essential oil internally, generally speaking). I think (I think) you can use this, much the same way you’d use eucalyptus essential oil in a steam inhalation.
 
Mustard – Use the seeds of the mustard plant (like: the one you would use as cooking greens) to make a VERY HOT poultice. From what I hear, this is super uncomfortable and shouldn’t be put directly on skin BUT if you spread it on a scrap of cloth, and put the cloth on the chest of someone with pneumonia or otherwise really bad chest congestion,it will have an effect similar to a eucalyptus rub (but NOT soothing – this stuff can cause blisters if you put it directly on your skin).

Personal Practice – Pagan Experience 2015

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

Eastern Townships #MissingPerson – Gabrielle Fradet (25)

Gabrielle Fradet (25) was last seen at a home on County Road 7 in North Dundas Township on Friday, December 19, 2014. Police say she may frequent areas of #Kemptville and #Ottawa.
 
5’6″ and thin
blonde, shoulder-length hair
blue eyes
 
Possibly wearing blue jeans, a blue and white bomber style jacket and white boots.
 
If you have any information you’re asked to call OPP at 1-888-310-1122.
 

Gabrielle Fradet is described as 5’6″ and thin, with blonde, shoulder-length hair and blue eyes. She was possibly wearing blue jeans, a blue and white bomber style jacket and white boots.


 
Please spread the word and do anything else you can to help her get safe.

Z is for Zero Degrees – Pagan Blog Project 2014 // New Moon – Snow Moon Begins

I’m writing this two days late (for the PBP) and a day early (for my lunar calendar/almenac) but I figure it all evens out. It’s Winter Solstice today – we had our annual shindig last night, so that nobody would have to get up at a set time to go to work the next morning – and it’s also our second wedding anniversary. It’s the very last day (fittingly?) of Long Nights Moon, with Snow Moon starting tomorrow. (Thense the name of this post). We’ll see if it lives up to its name again this year.
 
Snow Moon is kind of a long-haul period. Sure, it overlaps with secular New Year’s, so there are people making Resolutions and setting personal goals all over the place, there are still social things to get up to, but this is generally when the temperature drops hard and fast (and the bills come in, and – around here, anyway – you’re most likely to get hit with a big dose of Seasonally Affected Depression) and it’s one of the hardest parts of the year to get through.
 
Snow Moon is a hunker down moon. It’s a take stock moon. Given the astrological stuff going on right now (everything is crossing paths with Pluto, apparently) it’s also a time to consider (and maybe sort through) What You Are Doing With Your Life. (Just me? Okay). …I keep eyeing my year-ahead double tarot spread and my 2015 We’Moon horoscope that suggests it’s time for me to “learn how money works”. (It probably is). What is this coming year going to hold?
 
Zero Degrees – for most of the planet at least – is the point at which water shifts between solid and liquid states. A liminal time, a liminal situation. What parts of your life are seizing/freezing up? Which parts are getting more stable and solid? Where are things getting more fluid and flowing? What’s loosening up and moving? What’s struggling to take/keep its shape?
Things to think about as we go into the cold and head back towards the light.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

X is for Xylos – Pagan Blog Project 2014

Xylos – as in “xylophone” and “xylitol” – is Greek for “wood”. So, yes friends, I’m talking about trees today. You do what you gotta. (It was that or reprising Xmas for another year).
 
We are edging towards the longest night of the year up here in the northern hemisphere, so it’s likely that at least some of you are putting up douglas firs (or imitations thereof) in your living rooms. I’ve got my Fake Spruce wreath on the door, and my Fake Holly garlands to string up and decorate as well.
 
But those aren’t (exactly) the trees I want to talk about today. Rather, I want to talk about trees in general, in the context of Getting To Know the Neighbours. What trees grow in your neighbourhood? Can you recognize them when their leaves have dropped? Can you recognize – to choose folks who live in my neighbourhood – hawthorn, crab apple, rowan, evans cherry, choke cherry, serviceberry, apple, maple, poplar, oak (to name a few) by their bark, by where they grow, by the way their branches bend (or don’t), fork (or don’t), angle (or don’t)? Do you pay attention to what flowers when, to which fruits you can eat (and which fruits you can’t)? Can you tell the difference between juniper and cedar? Can you recognize a Norwegian Spruce at all? Do you know how to tell a pine tree by its needles? How to recognize a waxberry (bayberry) or harvest the thick, white berry-covering and melt it into vegan-friendly candles[1]?
 
Long Nights Moon is about to crest, and Snow Moon is on its way. Frost and fire, ice and stone. Do you know your neighbours when dressed in skin and bone?
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden

 
 
[1] Er… I don’t. I mean, I can recognize them, sure, but I haven’t tried to make candles with the wax yet at all. And, while I can usually spot a poplar (size), crab apple (shape of branches + shaggy bark), choke cherry (almost-weeping branches), and maple (bark… ish)… I certainly can’t recognize all of those trees.