Category Archives: ritual

Messages Received While at Two Rivers Sanctuary in DC

So, I went to visit my girlfriend in DC – just got home a few days ago – and, while I was there, we made a point of going to Two Rivers Sanctuary to participate in the Full Moon Meditations that are put on by Connect DC (a public ritual group that operates out of the temple).
Something that I’ve noticed, and which was 100% confirmed during this visit, is that I have a much easier time doing energy work when – go figure – there’s a social (as well as physico-energetic) container in-which that work can be done. Whether that’s getting myself singing lessons so that I can Do The Thing in a situation where I’m not secretly terrified that I’m going to Bother Someone, or giving my wife a heads-up that I’m going to be doing Magic in the bath tub that evening (and then setting The Mood by turning off the lights and sparking up a candle), or going to a literal ritual space, be it a (particular kind of) concert, a sanctuary or temple space (think Cathedral Grove, or the shores of Kichissippi, but also various spots at Ravens’ Knoll or Ramblewood), or the Chartres-esque labyrinth my friend mows into the tall grass near her farm house every summer.
So I took the opportunity of being In Church, during the scheduled period of Quiet Contemplation, to try and open up all my chakras (not ALL-all of them, obviously, I mean the seven that line up along my spine) and run energy up and down them.
I did this in part because I’ve been having some difficulty doing this for the last little bit, and I wanted to see if having time-and-space set aside for it would help (see above re: confirmation), and also in part because I’d suggested it as a good spot for any Messages to come through, if there were any to be had, and I wanted to open myself up so that I’d have the best chance of actually picking up on them, if they were being made available.
 
A long time ago, I read something – I think in one of Starhawk’s books? – about a “quick and dirty” way to wake up your chakras which, tbh? Quick And Dirty suits me JUST fine. Basically, what you do, is you imagine each point in turn as “something you REALLY like” that is the colour of the chakra you’re trying to open.
So, for example, my root chakra is a blousy red rose in full bloom. And also this weird umbilical spidery thing that I can drop out of myself in order to literally root myself to the ground in a Grounding action.
My sacral chakra is, usually, a butternut squash and, sometimes, a broad lick of fire. Sometimes I can get it to kaleidoscope into something that looks like a lily flower starburst.
My heart chakra looks… suspiciously like a green version of one of these (yes, really – I don’t know why, but I’m going with it), from-which vines, tentacles, and occasionally hands will periodically emerge.
My third eye chakra is a pale blue (I know, but I’m going with it – it’s a bit like this, but closer to the sky) circle of light, about the size of a loonie, and sometimes it projects into a laser beam of the same colour.
My crown chakra is usually a circle of white light opening in the top of my head with, sometimes, a purple crown (similar to this one, but with six tines and a Queen Of Heaven vibe) surrounding it.
 
Notice anything missing?
Yeah.
My solar plexus chakra and my throat chakra didn’t get a mention.
I’ve been trying to get my solar plexus chakra to wake up, reballance, and start getting active by imagining it as a sunflower or a sunburst centered on and/or growing from, my belly button. And it hasn’t quite been doing it.
So this time, I actually went with my weird ass instinctive prompt, and imagined it as a sunflower with vampire teeth. Yeah. Like this thing, but more predatory and minus the guitar.
And it worked. O.O
So that’s a thing.
Apparently “I am powerful and I am comfortable with my power” means being comfortable with the likelihood that My Power is kind of predatory and wants to eat all the things.
Okay.
This tracks.
My throat chakra, on the other hand, is kind of what the rest of this whole post is going to be about.
The clearest mental image I can get of my throat chakra is of a dark blue, or maybe royal blue, Hand of Fatima that might have the capacity to glow every now and then. Sometimes it hints at being a scilla or something kind of like a dark blue crocus. Most of what I get, and what I’ve got for a long time, when I try to engage that chakra in any significant way is (a) a huge amount of painful pressure in my throat, followed rather quickly by very swollen glands and a generally feeling that I’ve done something that was a Bad Idea.
Which is a problem!
Not the only reason for why being that the messages I was looking for? They arrived. And they all boiled down to this:

Use Your Voice

 
These included some stuff that had to do with, basically, a big, painful, shame-and-unworthiness-related blockage in my whole throat chakra (which had come up once that day, already); the HP, during the Meditation portion of the evening, saying both “Elevate your daily work, whatever that work is, to the level of spiritual Work” and “Using our gifts is how we give back to the gods that gave them to us”[1]; and also finding the words “Speak the Truth” hanging off the tag of a tea bag I’d picked out at random for it’s throat-soothing qualities after the service.
Also: We sang, just this simple, simple round of a song that I knew (albeit a different version, but the lyrics were easy to pick up), and I cried two different kinds of tears (weepy tears, from both eyes, but also these thick syrupy “flush something out” tears would sometimes just slop out of my left eye as well) and the singing got easier as we went along.
 
So a thing definitely Happened.
 
Listen. The throat chakra relates to all sorts of stuff around translating your goals and ideas into real tangible out-in-the-world things. Turning “that idea for a story” into words on a page, turning the build-up of sexual energy into the release of an orgasm, turning the nebulous need for a thing into a statement that can be acted on.

I can’t speak my desires into being, and put any power behind them, if they are literally getting choked off and blocked in my actual/energetic throat.

 
So.
I’m listening to throat-chakra-healing music on youtube – because this kind of thing has been effective for my root and sacral chakras already, so let’s keep doing what works.
I’m (back to) making the effort to sing every day (humming, noodling, singing along to CDs and spotify, doing warm-up exercises if I’m so inclined) – which, so far, has actually been going more easily than it has in the past, which is hopeful and encouraging – to gently allow energy (and sound, which is energy, um…) to flow through my throat chakra, the goal being to make some (joyful, I hope) music with my body and to let my voice out to play rather than to make it push through in an effort to appease my shame-driven Shoulds (shame, as I’ve mentioned before, not being a great motivator for me).
I’m breathing the words “So Hum” (“I Am That”, seeing yourself as holy, as part of the whole holiness that is – this is a Vedic(?) chant from Hinduism, which is where the system of naming these energy centers as chakras, and the body-and-life stuff associated with each of them, comes from) when I have a quiet moment or five. I’m drinking various throat-soothing teas and saying – whispering or speaking more audibly, but always out loud – “I speak my truth. I use my voice, my breath, my words, my song to work my Will and manifest it in this beautiful world” as I drink them.
I am acting on messages received.
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden
 
 
[1] Plus a whole thing about how “You are always held in Her eye, always loved” which… I could FEEL my energy shrinking into my body – like shrinking away from the message that I might be lovable and held, by someone who’s been part of my life since I was 16 and who has deep, deep ties to music and bringing things out into the world, no less – and I had to MAKE myself stay fully embodied and open to hearing and (hopefully) accepting that, even as my larynx swelled and the pressure in my throat and behind my ears started getting really painful… uh, see above re: throat blockage connected to feelings of shame and unworthiness.

New Year New You 2019 : Week 17 – A Big Ritual

I’m (once again) 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: So now that you’ve done the small magics, I think it’s time to do a big ritual to further one or more of your goals.
 

Candle Magic in Progress - My working altar set-up, as viewed from the East.

Candle Magic in Progress – My working altar set-up, as viewed from the East.


 
As all of you know by now, I’m not a Big Rituals kind of gal. I put songs on repeat to help me enter something adjacent to a trance, maybe once or twice a year, and do little rituals (offerings roughly once a week, greeting my gods at the crossroads and as I see them, the first slice from a fresh batch of bread, stuff like that) fairly frequently, but Big Magical Doings that require a lot of prep and planning… are not typically My Bag.
 
BUT.
 
I just turned forty.
I love my weirdo freelancing art life, and I want to keep it.
But I am so, SO tired (like physically and emotionally worn out, but also “sick of this crap” tired) of the precarity that comes with it.
I marked my birthday with a week worth of fun and lovely events, which wrapped up just before the recent full moon in Taurus, and I wanted to harness that “manifesting abundance and pleasure and security” stuff that comes with the Taurus full moon and its major-major link with The Empress.
 
So I spent a day working out how to turn my Greatest Hits Wish List into a series of little doodles – not exactly sigils (except in the case of making a little glyph to represent my immediate polycule), but stuff along those lines. I planned out what I’d need, in terms of materials. I sorted out offerings and harvested the herbs from my (snowed under, so that was a thing) garden. I took a calculated risk in collecting one of the other elements of the altar and the magic to be made on it, and made sure to leave offerings and… I guess I could call them connections(?) in return. I took the time (and energy, and resources, and skills) to make bread from scratch, and on Moonday, which handily actually WAS the night of the full moon (and which I also, thankfully, had off AND which was overcast enough for it to get dark enough to light candles earlier in the day), I turned my coffee table into an altar space and got to work.
 
So. You know the thing “To Know, To Will, To Dare, To Keep Silent”?
I don’t actually know how many of the specifics of this I should be yacking about in front of the whole internet. So, in the interests of not screwing it up or pissing Anybody off, I’m going to be a bit vague on things.
BUT. The general gist is this:
 
First thing, as you can see from the photo, above, I was doing candle magic, just in a more intense way than I often do. Even when I go big, I’m still pretty basic in terms of what I do.
I wanted to have stuff that grew in my yard – my space, the place I have some kind of a friendly (uh, I’d like to think) relationship with – sitting in each of the quarters. I wanted the elements represented by things that I wanted and things that connected me to success and security. There’s a brick from the house my mom grew up in (among other things), in the North. The South is all sex toys and kinky equipment. The East is the various hard-copy books and chaps that I’ve been published in (why, yes, ALL of them). The West is the tarot cards I drew for my birthday, all those hope-and-heart cards, plus a piece of fancy stemware. The Centre was raised up on a fancy cake tray (40th birthday gift, also hospitality and fanciness), and has the Empress card that I used to kick off my whole Empress Project in the first place. The votive candles I used had been lit at my birthday party, and I treated them like Birthday Candles (as in “make a wish”).
 
I sang (just a little – the chorus of a song that I treated as a prayer), I gave offerings that were a little fancier than I usually do, and that included a little bit of pain, and a moderate amount of blood, on my part. But the big difference in how I did this whole thing is that, when I cast the circle, I got a little bit extra. I’m not usually one to call the guardians of the watchtowers of absolutely anything. But this time I reached out to the People of the four directions, and called the Above and the Below to run the world pillar through my spine.
And they showed up.
They came.
I hadn’t been expecting that.
Don’t go getting me wrong here, I’m very glad they did. But it was an optional thing for them. I’m… touched? That the Spirits of Place, the People who orient us in space and in… action? Is that a good way to put it? That they came and were willing to witness, and maybe even help.
 
Anyway.
I did The Thing.
I think my giant bag of soil is probably thawed out by now (it having had a week to hang out in the warm), so I can now take the last of the accoutrements off the altar space and do the last bit of the ceremony, at which point I can have my coffee table back.
 
In prepping for this, my wife asked me if it was going to come at a cost – because everything has a cost. She works with a goddess who takes payment in blood and pain (there are so many of these) and she was worried about me getting hurt, basically. So we ended up having a discussion about different types of relationships.
I talked about how I’ve been involved with my pantheon actively for a couple of decades, that I check in with them and say Hello often, and that I generally don’t show up with my hand out. I said “There’s wine on the altar right now” – wine that had been offered the previous Friday – and that while I didn’t give my Gods and Ancestors wine and cookies and bread and occasional whisky and other tasty things in order to, you know, manipulate them into feeling like they have to help me, the fact that I’ve been doing this for a long time – much as with more corporeal people – will get you a certain amount of trust and good will. If you show up for your friends, and want to hang out just for the sake of hanging out, they are more likely to show up for you when you need help with a thing. (This is, incidentally, one of the reasons I tend not to contract out and do transactional work with deities outside of my pantheon. I don’t know, and won’t necessarily be able to accurately discern, what kind of payment they might want. And I’m hesitant to offer any kind of tradesies when I don’t know what I’m getting myself into).
 
I did my ritual, my ceremony, made my offerings, around the themes of the Empress.
May it be, may it be, may it be. ❤
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Full Moon – Long Nights Moon Crests (Winter Solstice)

A lit tealight in a glass holder casting a shadow onto a wooden floor. Courtesy of Wiki Free Images.

A lit tealight in a glass holder casting a shadow onto a wooden floor. Courtesy of Wiki Free Images.


 
The floors are (mostly) mopped. A new batch of candles has been made, using up the last ends of the old ones. There are lit candles heating the belly of our woodstove/end-table Boroslava. Cookies and liver mousse and artichoke dip are ready to be served up. Drinks are chilling in between the back doors, and the cider is mulling.
We’re going to take a walk shortly, but I wanted to get this up.
 
Full Moon in Cancer at Midwinter. A good day for hearth-tending and home-filling, and gathering our nearest and dearest, if ever there was one. I’m glad there’s snow on the ground. I’m glad I was able to make a (tiny, granted) offering of raw liver for the local crows who are the birds of a whole bunch of our Capital-P People.
 
The Hooded Man (The Hermit)  - Wildwood Tarot - A hooded figure carrying a lantern and a walking stick and wearing a robe decked with holly, confers with a wren in the foreground, outside a wreath-hung door into the World Tree.

The Hooded Man (The Hermit) – Wildwood Tarot – A hooded figure carrying a lantern and a walking stick and wearing a robe decked with holly, confers with a wren in the foreground, outside a wreath-hung door into the World Tree.


 
I pulled two tarot cards today, from my Wildwood deck.
The first I pulled was The Hooded Man.
In this particular deck, The Hermit is literally the card that represents Midwinter and the longest night of the year. So maybe it’s not a surprise that it decided to make an appearance.
It’s a card of stillness, of contemplation, of solitude. Apt for this time of year, and for the coding of the dark as a “gentle, enfolding space of safety and recovery“.
A good card for last night, anniversary notwithstanding.
 
Nine of Vessels - Wildwood Tarot - a bearded figure with long grey hair sits with their ankles crossed, surrounded by cups and radiating light.

Nine of Vessels – Wildwood Tarot – a bearded figure with long grey hair sits with their ankles crossed, surrounded by cups and radiating light.


 
The second card I pulled was the nine of vessels.
This is not my favourite depiction of the Nine of Cups. I strongly prefer the joyfully kinktastic Silicon Dawn version, the Next World version that reminds us to “stay glamourous”, and the Numinous Tarot’s version with its chuffed character so clearly pleased to be able to share the amulets they’ve made.
Regardless, though, this is a card of abundance. A card that speaks to the unblocking of emotional stuck spots. Of satisfaction, generosity, and sensuality. The card that says, to quote (or at least paraphrase) Doreen Valiente, “All acts of love and pleasure are my rituals”.
A perfect card for the turning over of one year into the next.
A perfect card for this evening, when my people are gathering for food and conversation and candle light and I get to fill my house with love and joy.
 
~*~
 
Movement: Dancing in my kitchen to Against Me and Heilung and, tomorrow night, at the warm-and-cozy queer dance party that happens periodically in my neighbourhood.
 
Attention: I’ve been paying attention to other people’s feelings. Sometimes that means doing check-ins, sometimes that means offering support. Sometimes that means remembering what appropriate emotional boundaries look like and not taking on responsibility for (rather than to) other peoples emotions. But, regardless, that’s where my attention’s been lately.
 
Gratitude: For six years married to my wife. For a lovely anniversary out. For slow-dancing in the kitchen. For enough money to pay cash for all the food we’re serving tonight. For friends who ask me how I’m doing. For sweet surprises from my young lady in DC. For snow, rather than ice, on our front steps this morning. For new dresses. For friends who send us their hand-me-downs, too. For all the friends coming to see us tonight, and for the ones who can’t make it. For magic. For hope. For another turn around the sun. ❤
 
Inspiration: The poetry that’s been arriving in the mail for the past week. (Michelle Tea, Mary Lambert, Room Magazine’s latest issue + the 40 Years retrospective anthology).
 
Creation: A little bit of singing – just for myself. Beyond that? I made hair ties. No, really. I knit myself a couple of meter-long lengths of i-cord (and am almost finished a third one, in a different colour) so that I can bulk up my dutch braids and make them colourful at the same time, without adding a lot of weight. It’s a nice “instant gratification” craft project, and it’s also been giving me some extra incentive to keep practicing doing those fancier braided styles on myself. Beyond that? Ha! I ripped out two knitting projects entirely. I’ll get them re-started over the next two weeks, because I’ll have lots of free time (woohoo!) but yesterday was absolutely a day of tearing out rather than building up on the knitting front. (Is it weird that it felt good to do that? It felt good to do that).

Full Moon – Frost Moon Crests

"Frozen" - Photo by Doryana02 - Courtesy of Wiki Free Images - Dry grass stalks covered in ice (freezing rain), surrounded by snow.

“Frozen” – Photo by Doryana02 – Courtesy of Wiki Free Images – Dry grass stalks covered in ice (freezing rain), surrounded by snow.


 
The Full Moon was technically yesterday. The sun is low, low in the sky by 4pm, and Winter has definitely arrived.
In the past two weeks, we’ve gone from “a dusting of snow” and temperatures where it didn’t matter (much) that my big, leather coat is still missing a button and needs its button holes tightened to full-on WINTER with a foot of snow already on the ground, bitter winds, and -16C (before wind chill) temperatures. It’s both Very Unpleasant (because everything takes longer to get to – a 45-minute walk is now an hour, for example, because the snow clings to my boots, and is slippery, and both of those things slow me down) and kind of a weird relief, because this the kind of fast drop into winter that I remember from around when I was ten (but not when I was 17 – when it would get quite cold, but there wouldn’t be much snow…) We’ll see what Climate Chaos has in store in terms of zig-zagging temperatures, though, as this week continues on.
I admit that the weather has me thinking ahead to Midwinter, sending a Solstice Letter off to this project and planning out what I want to do as the Season of the Witch (two weeks left!) turns over into the Season of the Hag just as Long Nights Moon in born.
One of the things I’m thinking of is ritual. As in something a little more involved than the (approximately) weekly ritual of lighting candles and saying Hello to my gods and ancestors on (usually) Friday nights, or the quick greetings I send, like text messages to the great beyond, when I pass the ancestor photos on the stairs, see the moon come up, feel the sun on my face, take out the compost, brush past a hawthorn/rowan/sumac/cherry tree, or cross the street.
I’m thinking of something that maybe feels a little bit more like church, if I can put it that way.
 
See, I did something this year that I haven’t done in a long time.
Technically, the specific thing was something I haven’t done before, ever. But, more broadly, it’s something I haven’t done in a long time. Like I said, my usual offerings are done… pretty lackadaisically. I light up my altar candles, pour some boiled water into a cup, say Hi to everybody, and then go and do my own thing while the offering candles burn down. Beyond that, “ritual” tends to be more like “ceremony” and tends to be very me-focused. All those magically-infused baths and tarot meditations.
There isn’t anything wrong with this, BUT it’s been a long time since I did something that felt more like “church” and less like “therapy” in a ritual context. It’s been a long time since I did something group-based, too.
I recently spent nine days – okay, eight days, ‘cause I was late starting (typical…) – taking part in an Ancestor ritual that’s open to pretty-much anyone who wants to participate. It’s an Ancestor Elevation ritual to give comfort and honour to the trans folks who’ve died this past year, and in years gone by. It’s done in relation to TDoR.
 
I have to tell you. I initially felt a little bit weird doing it. Like I was imposing or something. If the website hadn’t literally said “you don’t have to be trans to take part in this” I probably wouldn’t have done it. But I’m glad I had the opportunity, and I’m glad I took it. (And I’m also glad that I finished it).
 
This next bit IS going to be very me-focused.
 
I appreciate the container that the specifics of the ritual provided. That there were elements that were important/necessary to include (and that, by having everyone include them, builds a certain amount of cohesion across rituals that are being done privately or in small, unconnected groups). But I also appreciated the amount of freedom available within that container. It meant that I didn’t have to be sitting there with my computer on, reading Prayer 7 of 22 off the screen, but could make it my own.
 
Mostly what I did was choose a piece from the book I was adding to the altar that particular night, read it to anyone who happened to be listening, add it to the altar, and then do some singing. No lyrics. Just energy offered through sound. Music’s good for offerings. It can be soothing and uplifting by turns, if that’s where you want it to go.
I hope it helped.
 
Some nights, I did the ritual with my wife, but mostly it was just me. I’ll be putting it in my (newly arrived) date book, so that I can do it again next year. It feels good to do something to mark the occasion that is meant to help the people who were killed or died by suicide[1].
 
And so here we are.
And now I’m thinking about ritual as a thing that is a container. I’m thinking about it as a way to direct my actions outside of my own (sliiiiiiiiiiiightly neglected) self-improvement projects. I’m thinking “What kind of ancestor do I want to be?[2]”… And I’m thinking about what I want to do with the impending darkest time of the year.
I’m thinking about doing actions on a theme – dark, cold, shadows – Could I follow the Fool’s Journey down into the dark, where the Sun shows up on December 20th, Judgement on the Solstice, and The World the night of my big celebration? How can I relate The Fool, the Magician, the High Priestess, the Empress AND the Emperor, the Heirophant, and The Lovers to questions around what is Darkness, when do I need it (contemplation, drawing inward, root time, introvert-time, self-care[3]) and when do I need to bring in the light (hope, offering support, SADD stuff, both seeking and offering guidance)?
Just as a for-instance.
 
For now, I’m still chewing on it. It might end up being a card-a-day draw, and trying to see how the card relates to a theme I want to explore that week. It might end up being something super-basic like dropping off socks and soap to a couple of drop-ins around the neighbourhood and inviting people in for comfort food once a week.
We’ll see where it takes me.
 
~*~
 

Ace of Bows – “The Spark of Life” – Wildwood Tarot – A bow and arrow hover in a clearing, the friction of the arrow against the bow-string sparking a new flame in the side of a fallen log.


 
So. My tarot card meditation for today is the Ace of Bows. The roots of fire. Which is hilarious given that it’s such a Midsummer card, but here we are.
This is a card about creative projects and fresh starts, sure. But it’s also a card about directing your energy, about seeing things through, about “Give’r!”. It’s a card that says “JFC, Meliad. Write something for your novel. November’s almost over.”
However – appropriately to both the multi-day ritual I just finished and the impending darkest dark of the year – the Ace of Bows is also the candle in the dark. It has resonances with The Star, in the sense that it pertains to finding your own true north. What are the principals that guide you through the dark of uncertainty?
What kind of ancestor do you want to be?
Choose your actions, and make your creations, accordingly.
 
~*~
 
Movement: Only the usual walking and modeling work. I’ve been doing transcription for the past few weeks, so I’m actually moving less than is necessarily good for me. I need to remember to walk up and down my own stairs and do ten yoga poses in a row on those (many, many) days when it’s cold and awful and I don’t want to leave the house if I can avoid it.
 
Attention: I’m paying attention to the weather report. To the state of the sidewalks. Calculating how long it will take me to get from point A to point B. Watching my bank account and wondering how long the money from my transcription job will last. Watching the little white cat with the black tail who comes to our compost heap hunting for rats[4], and hoping she sticks around.
 
Gratitude: Grateful for snuggly, cozy nights with my wife. For video-based date-nights with my girlfriend. For transcription work that pays well (uh… or that will, once the cheque shows up…) and extra modeling work coming in at the last minute. Grateful that my wife and my girlfriend really like each other and want to hang out more (YAY COMPERSION!) Grateful for the neighbourhood rat catcher hanging out in our yard. Grateful for a quiet afternoon and discount hair dye, because my hair is now maroon once more, and I’m very happy about this situation. Grateful for free clothes from friends AND for places – like the GG Lit Awards (I am not a winner, just an audience-member) – to wear them. Grateful for friends who will listen to me cry. Grateful, too, for friends who feel safe and comfortable crying on my shoulder.
 
Inspiration: Really enjoying Lindsay Nixon’s Nîtisânak and Rebecca Roanhorse’s Trail of Lightning. Also drawing inspiration from – believe it or not – the snowy weather. The wind carves the snow ‘til it looks like the bottom of a sea bed (which is what we, in my neck of the woods, are living on, as it happens).
 
Creation: Not a whole heck of a lot. Lots of cooking, sure. I came up with a potentially delicious mulled-wine recipe that relies on juniper and anise hyssop (i.e.: stuff that actually grows here) for flavouring, and I’m looking forward to testing it out. Ripping out a knitting project and starting it over completely? Sure. But these days I’m barely even doing any mending, let alone creating new garments from scratch. That said, I did get some good news on the publication front a few weeks ago (more on that when the anthology comes out), which is really nice and kind of a shot in the arm.
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Which doesn’t mean this lets anybody off the hook on the front of doing actual stuff to help out, and look out for, the people who are still alive. Check in with your friends. Bring people groceries or let them use your laundry machine. If you can, give somebody a steady job. Throw money at people’s crowd-funding campaigns and Patreon accounts, and otherwise buy their work.
 
[2] See: Poem by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna Samarasinha in their book Bodymap.
 
[3] Which… I think it’s interesting that I associate The Dark with time to recharge (maybe not shocking, sleep being what it is) and time to spend on my own, just breathing, just having a bit of calm (maybe I associate light with being over-stimulated?) A thing to think about.
 
[4] The ciiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiircle of liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiife…

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: Weeks 16 & 17 – Big Magic, Little Rituals, and Winter Solstice

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: “This is a good week to work on shoaling […]. Make all your tiny magic fish into one big magic fish.” AND “[It’s] time to do a big ritual to further one or more of your goals.”
 
Tarot Cards: The High Priestess with a side-order of The Queen of Fire. The deep-digging and drawing-up of the High Priestess, the attention I’m giving to magically/energetically developing my Whale Heart, the energetic labour of reaching out (both to and for) and gathering together,of making space for others and letting my own light be visible and undeniable.
 
So… It’s been Solstice. Which is kind of a big ritual in and of itself, even when my version of it, this year, was super low-budget and not very fancy: I put up the holly garlands, but didn’t hang any ornaments from them. Our major nod to Seasonal Decor is a giant poinsettia that was gifted/off-loaded (either/or, works for me – thank you) from one of my temping clients on Friday afternoon, largely so that they wouldn’t come back to work in January to the sight of a giant, wilted poinsettia in their main foyer.
Last year, we hung the ornaments and lit everything (ineffectively) by candle light, which is how I normally do things. This year… I actually wanted to see where the food was and not trip over everything or spill the wine. So I kept the electric lights on. I’m sure there’s something symbolic about the marriage of Reason and Sensuality, or keeping one’s eyes open, or whatever and I’ll probably develop that thought As Needed over the next couple of days as I see Fam-of-O and weather potentially-difficult/painful Poly Family Gatherings. (I have a couple of escape plans for the latter, and can I just say Thank Fuck for the people who are looking out for me!)
This morning, I left a note on the FB Event for my annual Winter Solstice party (which has never been a Go Until Dawn kind of shindig, and is basically wine, cheese, chocolate, and conversation, all of-which I love, followed by In Bed By 1am, if not earlier, and re-hydrating like woah the next morning) telling all my guests (and all the folks who couldn’t make it out) how lucky I am to have such good people in my life, and how they bring the light back to me again and again.
It’s a thing that’s worth saying out loud, y’know?
 
My magic, these days, doesn’t look much like magic in the “whizz, bang” sense of the word. It’s not honey pots or actively-magical glamour – though the practice of wearing a Crown Of Light[1] has gotten a lot easier since I started doing it back in… May(?), and I don’t have to focus on it the whole time, or be wearing 14 layers of physical-world femme armour, to keep it in place. It’s more like prayer, gratitude practice, greeting my gods as and when I have the opportunity, recognizing those You’re On The Right Track moments[2], breathing myself all the way into my body.
One little bit of more “magicky” magic that I’ve been doing, though, is to use my little bottle of Unveiled – one of Miss Sugar’s limited edition ritual oils, from years ago – to anoint my heart-chakra/sternum while asking “let me see what’s really there”. This is both Energy Work (complete with visualizations and pushing energy around) and a prayer for (a) the chance to observe and recognize the ways that I actually am supported & cared for, as well as (b) the ability to discern the appropriate degree of personal investment for a given relationship based on how much the other person is actually There For Me.
Fingers crossed that this one will work.
 
As far as Big Rituals go, my Winter Solstice Shindig is kind of the big one I do every year. It’s not a “ritual” in the straight-up religious sense. But it’s a celebratory way to mark the turning of the year, to light up my altar and make offerings to my gods (and the crows), and to gather my people close. I’m a Kitchen Witch, and this is kind of What We Do.
With that in mind – perhaps unsurprisingly – a lot of the foods I prepared (more From Scratch than ever, this year, because I didn’t have the cash to just go out and buy baguettes, artichoke dip, rabbit terrine, or fancy cheese) for our Winter Solstice celebrations had a LOT of “love and protection” correspondences built into them. Part of that is just because a lot of common house-hold ingredients have those correspondences anyway. But the other part is that: This is what I need right now. To protect my heart without closing it. To actively care for people without putting myself in harm’s way. To risk, courageously, and open myself up to love and care (both giving and receiving it) while also giving myself permission to protect myself and put my own oxygen mask on first. So I built that into the foods I made and served during Celebration Time.
 
So that’s the magic I’ve been doing. The Good Witching of checking in with friends who may or may not have people to spend their holidays with, or who just started meds; the word-magic of speaking things aloud, of naming and claiming, calling out and calling in; the rallying of reinforcements when someone near and dear to me needs to know that they’re loved; the opening myself again and again (and messing it up, and falling back on old habits, and trying to do it better the next time), the changing consciousness at will (which is a longer process than Starhawk makes it sound in Spiral Dance, let me tell you). That’s the magic I’ve been doing. My witchcraft isn’t particularly subversive. But it works.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] What is says on the tin. I visualize putting on a crown that shows up like a spotlight on my hair. It’s based on a poem I wrote about being a figure model and how much easier it is to be bullet-proof when I’m NOT trying to look Put Together in clothes that were never designed to fit me, the last line of-which is “The light on your hair all the crown you’ll ever need”. It… seems to be fairly effective, as it turns out. 🙂
 
[2] Like yesterday, when I was right in the middle of stream-of-consciousness tweeting about a Thing that has dawned on me, and one of the ladies I was working for sashayed over and gifted me a bottle of nail polish just for the hell of it[3].
 
[3] I admit that I’m a little concerned at how my “you’re on the right track” markers seem to be seriously linked to Protestant-Capitalism’s interpretation of the Kalvinist Doctrine of Predestination, but… this seems to be working, so I’m going with it.

New Moon – Lilac Moon Begins

So Victoria Day Weekend was a few days ago. We spent it in Quebec City with a super-awesome friend, meeting her family, enjoying Lobster Season, and taking part in their first bonfire of the year (as is appropriate for the May 2-4 Weekend, AKA “Beltane North”). I also got to swim in their pool, and was gifted a little treadle-power spinning wheel which, once it’s got its missing parts replaced, will be my “learning model” for wheel spinning. Huzzah! 😀
 
But it was also New Moon (once again) and, back home, it was the weekend that the lilacs exploded.
As such, welcome to Lilac Moon, right on schedule. 🙂
 
Our sweetheart has moved most of her stuff (that she isn’t taking to Toronto) into our basement. She did it while we were in Quebec City. By the time this moon is full, she’ll already be in Toronto. I’m trying not to freak out about how soon she’s leaving. My lovely wife is feeling it pretty hard, and I’m starting to get a little bit clingy, myself. I’m trying not to, trying to love lightly, to be able to let her go without sobbing about it too much. It’s not like she’s leaving the country, or even the province, after all. It’s not like she won’t come back and see us, or that she’s moving to get away from us or something.
It’s amazing how quickly and powerfully love can bloom when you’re willing to allow it the chance. It blows you open as sure and hopeful, relentless and beautiful as lilacs.
 
Okay, maybe there’s a little bit of sobbing going on… don’t mind me.
 
We have picked up our half-pig, which is now residing in our chest freezer (it fills up the entire thing – which means we can ONLY buy half a pig at a time) and – counter to The Plan – have already eaten a pound of the bacon. 😉
We were going to wait until June, just to keep an eye on how much pork we eat in a given month. The hope is that half a pig will last six months[1], but I have NO IDEA whether that will be the case or not.
 
I have learned how to make Creton – a dish that’s a bit like paté, but made by cooking ground pork (and a little bacon grease, if the pork is on the super-lean side, fyi) with diced onions and a little bit of milk or cream, on super-low heat for 4-5 hours, until the liquid is well-reduced and everything has gently, gently, gently cooked all the way through. My friend’s mom taught me how to make it, last Sunday. I am adding it to my list of Things To Make which also includes Paté (using the pig liver) and terrine (a bit like paté, but (a) it includes chunks of muscle – this may be where the tongue gets put to use – and (b) is baked into a form after having been initially cooked else-ways).
 
I have just, just planted my tomato and cucumber starts as well as a bunch of bean and squash seeds, so my garden is just about as planted as it’s going to get (at least this year – raspberries, possibly red currants, grapes, and probably more rhubarb are yet to be added to the perennial bed, so…).
 
In witchier news… I don’t think I’m going to The Witches’ Sabbat after all.
I feel a bit stupid about this.
I haven’t been able to find a ride. BUT I also haven’t looked that hard. I haven’t bugged non-attending friends to drive me the 2 hours or so to the location, for example, and I could yet do that.
I only found out after the pre-registration deadline passed that our sweetie will be leaving Ottawa on the 29th and, as such, I won’t actually be missing time with her if I attend the event.
That said, I’m not sure my lovely wife will want to be alone that weekend and, frankly, I’m not sure what kind of a head-space I’ll be in – probably distracted – during the first few days of our sweetie’s absense, so… Maybe it’s a good thing that I’m not signed up?
Anyway. So I’m a bit disappointed that I’m not attending, but it’s probably (probably?) for the best, at least this year. Maybe I can come up with my own little rite to honour the shape-shifters among us during the same weekend. Probably not an extatic one, I grant you. 😉
 
Anyway. I have dishes to wash and bread to make, so I’d best get on that.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] With the addition of monthly rabbits from Rabbit Lady (we have another one due in the next day or two, actually, which means I need to thaw and cook the one we still have in our fridge-top freezer ASAP – probably this Friday) and occasional other stuff – Seed to Sausage sausages, but more likely occasional fish and the odd tray of (hopefully at least slightly ethical) beef burgers or chicken drum-sticks.