COLD (Part Two)

Night Ice - A night scene, street lights reflecting off snow and ice - Photo by James Ryen - Via Wiki Free Images

Night Ice – A night scene, street lights reflecting off snow and ice – Photo by James Ryen – Via Wiki Free Images


 
I dropped the socks off at the drop-in center on Bank St.
You guys, they made a huge big deal out of it.
Which felt awkward as heck, but also: Maybe bring them some socks?
Cornerstone, on Booth St, needs socks too, and menstrual stuff, and pretty things like nail polish, if you’ve got some available.
 
The Empress
This was the card for December 4th. The day I dropped off the socks and pressure-canned the pumpkin soup. (I made way more soup than I needed to, so… I have extra soup?) It’s a card about nurturing and a card about building family.
Where do you feel you have enough to share? Where do you feel that you don’t? Are there ways you can change that? Where do you need to get comfortable asking for help and support? What is your relationship to giving and receiving care? What is your relationship to the concept of “family”. Are you dealing with Hard Feels about your family of origin right now? How do you build family, yourself? How, and to whom, do you open your home? Who welcomes you into theirs?
I wrote a whole Thing about this over on Syrens, and I find that I relate uncomfortably to Brenee Brown’s writing about the power dynamics involved in being the “helper” vs being the “helpee” and being uncomfortable with needing things (whether that’s emotional support, human connection, or something more immediate like food or shelter). Years of low and unstable income (and, y’know, body pain) may have gotten me a lot more comfortable with accepting offers of immediate/physical help (and marginally less averse to asking for it when I need it), but I still have a hard time Using My Words when it comes to asking for reassurance or attention or affection. Part of this hearkens all the way back to a childhood of being “too sensitive”, but a fair bit of it connects to Adventures In Polyamoury, and being rewarded for being “the stable girlfriend” who didn’t need quite so much emotional support and hand-holding with regards to non-monogamy (that doesn’t mean I needed none, mind you) and/or who could provide some stability for partners who were having a hard time for years at a stretch. So my relationship to giving care is (a) I get a lot out of it, including being rewarded in my relationships, but also (b) I sometimes feel pretty resentful about it, too. My relationship to receiving care is… (a) I really wanna! but also (b) I feel like I’m being too demanding/needy/childish and that the people around me tend to be worse off than me, so I’m being kind of a selfish ass for wanting people who have body-pain and mental health stuff and all the rest of it to look after me.
It’s kind of a mess.
 
The Emperor
This is a card about tradition. About your place in a lineage. About rules and codes and expectations. About power structures.
A lot of what I might talk about here actually fits better with the concept of “Shadows”, which I’ll be talking about starting on the 15th, but it’s relevant to this card so here we are. Like The Magician, this is a card that asks you “Where do your politically-supported privileges lie and who, relative to them, is metaphorically (and frequently literally) left out in the cold? How can you help to change that?”
As an able-bodied, white, cis lady, in Canada, this means offering my support to disabled people, trans people and racialized – particularly indigenous – people in concrete ways. This can mean offering my spare room to a trans kid who needs a place to stay. It can mean getting out my tape measure and helping to create an accessibility document for an event I’m attending. It can mean showing up on parliament hill to support the kids from Grassy Narrows. And, yeah, it can also mean throwing money when you’ve got some to throw.
 
The Heirophant
This is kind of the religious counterpart to the Emperor, though I’ve seen it depicted as everything from a dominatrix to a charismatic speaker to an Ancestor with the head of a deer. In every instance, this is a card about being a guide (or finding one. Maybe it says something about me that I automatically gravitate to “you are supposed to be/offer this” rather than “seek this out in others”, but the card goes both ways).
Also, this being a religious blog, it’s nice to be able to talk pretty explicitly about the religious elements of both this card and what it may be suggesting that you do/consider/seek. So:
What guides you? Who guides you? How do you seek out their counsel and, importantly, how (and when and if) do you follow through on their advice?
I look for guidance from my gods and ancestors, primarily. And I mostly use tarot to talk to them, since my head is basically a concrete bunker and it’s hard to get a message through otherwise. But I also look for… not even messages, exactly. Just “information”. What animals are hanging out, drawing my attention, in the vicinity? What plants are growing where? What do they tend to be doing? What can I learn from what they’re up to? I may loathe cockroaches and NEVER want to share space with them again, but boy-howdy, do they ever do Family as a group that scatters for part of every day and then regroups again when it’s time to sleep. See also crows. See also the family of rats living in my neighbour’s shed. Maybe that skunk who came trotting out between my house and the next one over is a reminder that just because somebody’s pretty & fancy doesn’t mean they won’t raise a big stink about it if you cross their boundaries or threaten their people. Maybe I need to consider which boundaries need maintenance. Maybe I need to put some attention on where my extended family needs support and protection. What do dandelions and mullien have to tell me resilience? About wishes? About softness and hardiness not being mutually exclusive?
How do you lead/guide others by example? Are your actions in line with your values? Where and how can they line up better?
So this is a place where activist types – especially when we’re new at it – can get tripped up by trying to be paladins. You have to pick a couple of things that you’re good at and show up when those things are needed. Some people are good at writing op-eds and getting the word out. Some people are walking and stomping and chanting and street theatre. Some people are good at child care. Some people are good at Having Polite But Persistent Conversations with politicians and never letting their nerves or their screaming-and-throwing-things show on the outside. Some people are good at five-part harmony and writing musical calls-to-arms.
Me? I’m reliably and consistently good at cooking and emotional labour. So I do a lot of checking in with people, and I do a lot of sharing my groceries, showing up with a casserole when everything is hard, having people over for dinner when they’re stressed or cash-strapped, volunteering at the soup kitchen, showing people how to forage for free food, and similar.
I value food. I value sharing food as a way of building/strengthening community and family bonds, both laterally and inter-generationally. I value the feminized labour of cooking (and gathering, and harvesting, and gardening, and preserving) and feeding people. I value the way that putting together a care package with somebody’s specific dietary needs (and wants) in mind is a way to remind them that they are loved and cared for in their totality and that they don’t have to pretend to be able to digest gluten or tomatoes or whatever in order to be wanted.
On a different note, as someone’s who’s in the throes of NRE right now (it’s great, thanks for asking), I know that I want to be my best self for my shiny new girlfriend, which serves as a good reminder to show up and be my best self for my wife, my friends-and-family, and people who are generally around the place, too.
If I bring up how important it is to write poetry or do ritual (or both, in combination!)… am I making those things/actions a priority in my life?
If I’m paying attention to the D/s dynamic I have with my sweetheart, am I also showing up for the D/s dynamic I have with my wife?
If I know that singing and doing core-strengthening exercises are both good for me (for my body, for my brain, for my heart)… am I actually doing them with any degree of frequency and regularity?
(The answer, at the moment, is… slightly? But nowhere near as much as I should be. More work to do on that front).
 
The Lovers
How do I connect this card with Cold? This card that is about connection, about showing up for each other (and – if you’re the Next World deck – about self-care and showing up for yourself), about trust.
In my first post about Cold, I talked about how it’s not just the ambient temperature, but numbness and desensitization that needs to be addressed here. The Lovers is a card about vulnerability. About opening up to connection. About compassion and empathy and relating to people.
I’ve seen so much stuff on twitter (among other places) about approaching things – interactions, situations – in the coming year with an eye to “How can I increase the love in the world”. How can I keep this stressful, scary conversation “friendly and personal” so that it has a hope of changing someone’s mind? How can I approach volunteering at the soup kitchen and chatting up socially isolated people with solidarity, empathy, and respect rather than by participating in some kind of patronizing benefactor/charity-case dynamic with another human being? How can we, as people who all need care and support, look out for each other in ways that allow for a lot of mutuality so that nobody feels like a bitter, burnt-out martyr, and nobody feels like a helpless mess who can’t do anything themselves, in our relationships with each other?
And I think that’s how The Lovers relates to the themes I’m trying to address, or at least consider, through the lens of “Cold”.
 
It’s December 8th today. I’m technically into my second theme – Dark – but I’ll start to address that, and the accompanying tarot cards, in another couple of days.
For now, I need to bring the pressure-canner back to the tool library.

New Moon – Long Nights Moon Begins (Season of the Hag)

New Moon - Image Via Wikipedia - A thin, thin sliver of silver along the edge of the dark face of the moon.

New Moon – Image Via Wikipedia – A thin, thin sliver of silver along the edge of the dark face of the moon.


 
I made candles today, and lit the altars. There a glass of sortilege up there as an offering, since the Season of the Hag kicks off, well, technically yesterday since this post is going up a day late (the “winter” wreath is on my door at last, though I haven’t hung up the holly garlands yet), and I’m hoping that winter will be kind. In-so-far as that’s an option, anyway.
My wife and I are having a quiet evening in, eating pizza (or will be, when it gets here), and avoiding the cold weather. I made bread today, and Persephone Shortbread (see below), and started planning my grocery list for the big Midwinter Stocking Up that I’ll be doing some time in the next ten days. I figure: if I’m getting six litres of sweet cider, plus a bunch of other beverages, for the annual Solstice Party? I might as well get 20+kg of flour and 10lbs of beets and similar, since I’m paying for delivery (or borrowing a car) anyway. The year is definitely winding down. I have friends blogging about the goals they met (or didn’t) this past year, and other friends doing tarot readings for what to potentially expect in the next turn around the sun.
 

Wildwood Tarot – “Home” – Ten of Stones – A traditional round house, this one with a mature tree growing up through its center, viewed through a stone arch.


Tarot Card Meditation:
This card isn’t a random draw.
Not this time.
I was shuffling my Wildwood deck and this card kept drawing my eye, so I went with it.
It’s a card about taking part in traditions.
It’s a card about long-term plans.
It’s a card about sharing what you have.
It feels very appropriate to draw this card right now, and to try to live by it’s invitation to claim your personal power, to build (up) your community, to create and maintain the traditions that matter to you, to nurture your roots (it is Root Time right now, after all), to be generous with your resources (time, energy, attention… “resources” doesn’t just mean “money”), to make things that last.
 
~*~
 
Movement: Not enough dancing! I would like more! Lots of lifting a full pressure canner up and down though, so there’s that.
 
Attention: The state of the sidewalks (the ice is starting to turn up… yeeg). The temperature, which swings between -3 and -19. The wildlife in the back yard (watching for the little white cat who comes to hunt rats out back, for the most part, but the winterized squirrels are utterly adorable).
 
Gratitude: Grateful for the opportunity to borrow the pressure canner from the OTL. For a couple of quiet days to put some food up for myself and others. For a wife who snuggles me when I have bad dreams. For an internet connection (it’s back!) that lets me talk to my girlfriend (and for said girlfriend). For new (to me) clothes that fit and let me feel swanky. For the transcription pay-cheque that finally came through (!!!) and the knowledge that January’s rent is covered for sure.
 
Inspiration: Trying to draw inspiration from the season, from the cold and the dark and the deep shadows. And also from the major arcana, because using that system for different projects and thought experiments is a way to get to know the cards a little better and a little differently, which I like.
 
Creation: I find myself singing more, these days. Maybe it’s the solstice music I’ve been playing, but it’s nice to be singing again. Not exactly “creation”, but something artistic and good for me, none the less. I’ve also written a couple of thousand more words on That Novel, so that’s a little bit of progress on that front.

COLD – First Week of December

“Unsplash” – Aaron Burden (2017-02-04) – Photo of swirling ice, blue and white as agate, courtesy of Wiki Free Images


 
COLD
It’s not that cold right now. Not by local standards.
There’s snow on the ground (the kind that drifts steadily down, without a driving wind to make it hard to travel through as it falls) that fell this morning, but a lot of water, too. A lot of potential for ice, for wet feet.
The chard is still holding up in the garden – not much, and it’ll be iced over in no time. But it’s there.
That said, the temperature’s dropping, and it’s due to be much, much colder tomorrow.
 
Cold is the temperature that gets into my bones, makes my hips swell up, keeps me up at night.
Cold is also the desensitization to other people’s pain. It’s a numbness that might be self-protective but can just as easily be cruel.
 
This first week of December, with the theme of “cold” in mind, I’m bringing socks – nothing fancy, literally just a bag of crew socks from Giant Tiger – to the drop-in on Bank St. It’s not a lot (it’s never a lot), but I know that socks are one of the most needed, and least donated, things that drop-in centers need once the weather gets cold. So. Socks.
I’m also making up a bunch of, basically, home-made cuppa-soups for a friend. But the timing on that is entirely luck, as she gets out of the hospital this week.
 
The Fool
This is a card of awakening.
I’m in the middle of reading Queer Magic (the one by Lee Harrington and Tai Fenix Kulystin, not the other one) and I’m on the essay “Essay”, which presents a queered year-wheel that follows a process of self-realization, self-actualization, and community-involvement that the author chooses to have begin at Winter Solstice.
With that sitting in the forefront of my mind, I can’t help smiling at the relation this year-wheel bears to the Fool’s Journey and, thence, to this little tarot adventure I’m taking myself on starting, well, a couple of days ago, on December First with The Fool.
What are waking up to? Literally? Figuratively? Personally?
Literally, I’ve been waking up to the smiling face of my lovely wife and, usually, a message from my sweetheart as well. I’ve also been waking up to house-hold chores and, until today, not quite enough time to deal with them.
On a more figurative or personal note, I’m trying to “wake up” to – as in be aware of – both the many good things and people in my life, and the places where I can be more helpful (both in terms of offering support to others, and in terms of making it easier for others to support me by Using My Words and voicing my needs and wants).
What do you want to stay open to, as you walk the last leg of this journey into the dark?
I want to stay open to warmth (ha… see next week), and to my sense of belonging and worthiness. My nearest and dearest have a lot on their plates right now, and a fair number of friends and loved ones have mental health stuff, or trauma stuff, or both that flares up at this time of year. Which, yes, definitely means they need some extra support these days. But it also means that I can start pulling inwards, and telling myself I’m “not allowed” to want attention from my people which – combined with the effect that cold (even more than dark, weirdly) has on my own brain – means I start feeling a bit like The Outsider in the Five of Pentacles, assuming I have to beg for scraps, when, really, if I’d just open my mouth and say something, we could probably do a good job of looking after each other in ways that are mutually beneficial and do us all some good.
 
The Magician
This is a card of action and of awareness of one’s own power.
What comes to mind, right this second, is the question “How have you used your privilege today?” A question that, if you are someone who has some politically-backed social power on any given vector, can maybe make you feel defensive. But all it means is “How have you used your powers for good today?”
How Have You Used Your Powers for Good?
This can be as easy as writing a letter to a politician, as a person with a “white-sounding” last name, to point out that, as a voter, you have a lot of problems with, say, oil pipelines being driven through indigenous territories without their consent. As simple as shoveling the walk for your pal with fibromyalgia or your neighbour who maybe can’t swing the shovel that easily. As quick as donating money when you’ve got some relative, even temporary, economic advantages.
Today, for me, that meant buying socks for strangers because, today, I had some available cash.
Tomorrow, it might mean making casseroles for someone who doesn’t have time to cook but needs to be careful about what and how often they eat, because of medical stuff.
 
The High Priestess
This is a card about potential, about diving deep, about entering into Mystery. It’s a card that, in terms of how my weekly themes are lining up, would be better suited to the darkest part of the dark end of the year, when I deal with Shadow. It’s a card that is often very personal. What are the secrets you’re keeping from yourself? What hidden depths do you need to reveal and recognize? What does your Hidden Self, your Rejected Self, have to say to you when you give it the chance to speak?
Are there parts of yourself that you consistently freeze out? Parts that you need to allow to thaw, even if it’s a scary, vulnerable process to do so?
For a long, looooooooong time, I always assumed that the stuff I kept hidden from myself was Bad Stuff. Stuff that I’d have to struggle to overcome or exorcise. But a year ago, I started wondering about how I (and, y’know, all my trauma babes, frankly) maybe hide stuff from myself about being worthy of “more than a kick and a curse”.
I want to stop digging my heals in, and keep letting myself risk feeling all the positive-but-vulnerable things – all the wanting, all the hope – that I sometimes try to stop myself from feeling.

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 – Harvest Moon Begins

The new moon in Libra was technically yesterday. The weekend kicked off with Venus moving into retrograde (through Scorpio until mid-November) and Mercury joined her there as of yesterday (October 10th).
 
It’s, uh… it’s been a weekend. O.O
And a follow-up week – I keep thinking of this song,the line “friends and lovers help me put my armour back together” and how there are a LOT of check-ins and support calls going back and forth across a number of provinces and at least one international border right now.
It was Unholy Harvest last weekend and, along with having a house full of queers (which is, in and of itself, so completely wonderful), there were also a whole bunch of lovely things that went down at the actual event.
I can’t help looking at this part of Liz Worth’s Venus-in-retrograde horoscope for Scorpio:

Sexual healing can also be particularly prominent right now. Venus retrograde can also help to cut through any assumptions we might have about what we think sex is supposed to be. It can help to challenge shame and taboos, and to heal traumas.

 
…and thinking: Oh.
OH.
 
So I have a whole bunch of stuff to chew on about that.
I’m feeling a bit like my Glamour Game was pretty on point, E.G.: I gave a different kind of D/s dynamic a try, one that just happens to involve some solid integration of those “easy to render likeable and charming” and “not-so-easy to render likeable and charming” elements of myself, and it feels like a really good fit (and is now on-going). I did some pick-up play with a near-stranger and it was fun and light and also marvelously intimate, and it was neat to do something like that and feel solidly good about it at the end. I got to re-confirm some stuff with my wife/voluntary-property. So there have been some solid Empress Project achievements going on there.
I’m rather pleased with the whole situation.
 
Garden-wise and Kitchen-wise… things are a bit of a different story.
My house was full of wonderful people for most of the past week. Which is great. But it means that I got home from Thanks Giving with my mom only to realize that those two cloth bags of pears that a friend of mine invited me to harvest from her pear tree a while back… they were well on their way PAST ripe and into liquefying. And so were most of the red peppers in the plastic bag on top of my chest freezer.
So I spent a frantic and flailing late-evening dealing with sticky everything while I made more-impromptu-than-I-wanted-it-to-be cider out of these already-fermenting pears and otherwise cleaned up the worst of the fruit-fly farm in the kitchen.
This morning, I finished pressing the pears, put them through a food mill, and did the same with the saved apples (about 1/3 of which were not so useable, but the rest were fine), and so now I have recently-pasteurized cider cooling on the stove and balsamic-vanilla pear butter (with some apple mash thrown in) slow-cooking in the instant pot, and I am feeling a LOT better about the whole situation.
I also roasted two turkeys and have successfully stripped them for parts, so my freezer has a LOT of already cooked and diced meat in it for me to pull out as needed AND an out-of-town friend passed along a couple of bags of really lovely groceries before heading back home on Monday, so, like… we’re really well-set-up over here right now. (Thanks!)
 
Weather-wise: Things are weird. I want to take note of this because it seems very strange. The temperature is fluctuating up and down in a way that doesn’t feel like typical “dogwood summer” weather. Too humid, for a start, and rather than a week or two of hot, dry weather, it’s more like a couple of days at 18C-25C then a substantial drop in temperature, down to single-digit temperatures and frost warning territory, and then a sudden swing back up again.
I don’t remember (and will have to check) if this happened at this time last year. But it’s concerning, right now, and I’m not sure what to do about that other than to make fermented green tomato pickles and freeze a lot of chard.
 
~*~
 

Next World Tarot (Cristy C Road) - Arsenal (4 of Earth), Connection (2 of Water), Self Sufficiency (9 of Earth), and Safety (10 of Water).

Next World Tarot (Cristy C Road) – Arsenal (4 of Earth), Connection (2 of Water), Self Sufficiency (9 of Earth), and Safety (10 of Water).


 
Onwards! When I do my tarot meditation pulls, I don’t stick to any one type of draw. Sometimes I do a spread, sometimes I shuffle until a card jumps out of the deck. Sometimes I split the deck and draw the two cards in the middle.
This time, I did a bit of a twist on a face-up tarot spread. I pulled four cards, more or less at random, after shuffling my Next World deck and then I went and found a spread that worked with the cards I’d drawn and what I wanted to get out of them.
Liz Worth has a spread for the New Moon in Libra that seems pretty appropriate:

1. What needs to be honoured in my relationships?
2. What new beginning can I create with those I love?
3. What can I do to be heard?
4. What or who do I need to listen to now?

 
…And I’ll probably make use of it to give these cards a second interpretation. BUT that spread I chose for this is a different one. One that feels like a “permission” spread, which is what I’m looking for right now.
The RAIN Spread lays out four cards and asks us to Recognize, Allow, Investigate, and Nurture the results in turn. To that end, a spread that I think is really quite lovely:
 
Recognize: Arsenal (4 of Earth)
I have long understood the Four of Earth to be a card about fear and miserliness, a mix of “can’t share” and “can’t trust”, a card of tenuous shelter that says “Nobody will take care of me, so I must (only) take care of myself!” And that’s relevant here, in the “recognize” position. But the Four of Earth is also a card about structure, a card about getting the hang of Adulting, if you will, about having that Room Of One’s Own in-which to rest and create.
…And that’s relevant, too.
Cristy C Road’s interpretation of her own card touches on the “first tools” of survival that we learn as children, and asks “Is home a sanctuary or a suffocation”.
I think, in this position, the Four of Earth is saying “Recognize the tools you have, but also question whether or not they are the appropriate tools for this particular job”. Recognize that you have an anxious-preoccupied attachment style, recognize that the structure of schedules and routines and Expectations and consistency can help manage those anxieties, but can also feel restrictive or cause problems when life happens and you, or someone else, needs those structures to be flexible and changeable.
 
Allow: Connection (2 of Water)
This is what I mean by “permission”. I’m definitely feeling a significant degree of NRE over here, so… that’s a whole thing.
But, in addition to allowing the connection between my new sweetie and me to grow as it will, rather than holding it at arm’s length, I think this is also a reminder to continue REconnecting and reinforcing the connections I share with my wife, and (on top of this, even) to remember that making short-term intimate connections with near-strangers doesn’t have to be emotionally dangerous if I keep my boundaries appropriately set (a thing that I am getting better at recognizing and managing).
 
Investigate: Self Sufficiency (9 of Earth)
The Nine of Earth is one that I recognize as ripeness, as a card about gratitude and trust, but also about competence and accomplishment. In the “recognize” position, this would be an invitation to notice all the good, all the connections, all the ways of making family, all the potential for trust and mutuality, to acknowledge the ways I’ve helped myself take care of myself. But in the “investigate” position, I think the Nine of Earth is telling me to look into ways to (a) look after myself, (b) show up for My People, and (c) be open/welcoming to the good people and things that are present/developing in my life.
 
Nurture: Safety (10 of Water)
The Ten of Water. It’s not the bliss/wish-fulfillment of the Nine of this suit but, rather, the solid, steady joy that underpins family-connections you know in your bones you can trust and rely on.
The ten of water is my marriage. The ten of water is my closest friends, the ones who have rooms in my heart. This is a call (related to the “allow” card, I’m sure) to nurture, cultivate, and celebrate both the new, and the long-standing, relationships that matter so deeply to me. Dear Gods… Thank you for all of them. ❤
 
If I were to set an intention for this New Moon, based on the cards I've drawn, I would say: Let me welcome what wants to grow with me, let me cultivate what I want to grow.
 
 
~*~
 
Movement: Lots of short-pose modeling and walking. I think swimming would be a good one for my joints though. I’m being reminded that dancing – even a 15-minute private dance party in my living room – is really good for my body and also my brain. More of that needed, I think.
 
Attention: Paying attention to my now-multiple power exchanges, and checking in with a lot of friends to see how they’re doing.
 
Gratitude: Thankful for, ha, the edit option, since I hit post without even filling this in… Additionally thankful for: Reconnecting with my wife. Being able to talk about heavy things with people near and dear to me. Friends who trust me. The new romantic(?) person in my life (in general, but also) being willing to be very vulnerable with me while giving me the chance to catch up with her a little bit. Friends who give us food. Random messages from people I love telling me they miss me or that they’re glad I’m part of their lives. Quiet days. Cold FX. A freezer full of turkey. A garden still full of rainbow chard. Good house guests who turn up with fancy cheese or who do dishes or who take us out for dinner. Her collar under my hand. A weekend spent with such beautiful, wonderful queers… you guys, my soul is restored. ❤
 
Inspiration: Garden as metaphor is starting to pick up some more steam. I’ve still got two poetry projects to get sorted before I can reeeeeeeeeeeeeally pick that one up again in earnest, but – maybe because it’s autumn and I’m harvesting a lot of things? – it’s starting to ring some bells again. Also, I’ve been reading the Queer Issue of ROOM Magazine, and it’s helping to refill my poetry well. Hurrah!
 
Creation: Still at a low tide on the creative front, though I did manage to write a couple of poems. I’m starting to get itchy for some scribbling, though, and want to make space for a writing date with myself in the very near future (possibly Monday).

The Naked Heart Challenge – Full Moon in Aries Spread (a few days late)

So I was browsing through instagram (like you do) and I found this spread, which is part of The Naked Heart Challenge. Not actually planning to take part in this challenge (seeing as it’s on Day 24 already and, for all I know, is all of a month long) BUT I like the look of this one, so I decided to throw it and see what turned up. Check in with the Internal Ant Farm, so to speak.
 

Tarot of the Silicon Dawn:  Top Left - 7 of Water.  Top Right - 3 of Water.  Bottom Left - 3 of Earth.  Bottom Right - 5 of Earth.  Center - The Fool v.N. + 99 of Air

Tarot of the Silicon Dawn:
Top Left – 7 of Water.
Top Right – 3 of Water.
Bottom Left – 3 of Earth.
Bottom Right – 5 of Earth.
Center – The Fool v.N. + 99 of Air


 
Readers, all four of those outer cards jumped from the deck all at once.
I drew the two in the center as a two-card-pull on purpose. (See below).
 
Where do I need to relax? – Seven of Water
Wanting in all directions, questioning whether what I’m wanting is wishful thinking (…projecting) and/or whether it’s okay/realistic to want what I want.
I’m inclined to take this as a big “Chill out” (and or “Stop over-thinking it”) from the Universe and my People. Like, yes, That One Crush isn’t into you and that’s not gonna change, but the friend zone is actually pretty great, so stop worrying about it. Like, yes, you’re about to try a new type of D/s play and you’re kind of freaking about the ethics of it (Oh, hey, just like you freaked over doing SM when you started out, or when you first got your Kitchen Ghost… does this sound familiar?), but your scene partner is totally down and offering you a lot of reassurance and full disclosure, and maybe you should stop worrying about it and trust her a little? Maybe stop making decisions based on the assumption that you have to know all the answers already.
 
Where do I need to take action? – Three of Water
Polyamoury card! (At least in my case). Joy. Celebration. Social interactions. Cultivating (and participating in) community/ies. Doing what makes me happy.
Maybe this is a(nother) push for me to get my Date on. Maybe it’s a reminder that poetry shows and kink events, queer get-togethers and group rituals and productivity parties with fellow writers are important because they both feed my soul and refill my creative well, so I need to make sure that I take part in them on the regular.
 
Where do I need to retreat? – Three of Earth
Teamwork. Planning.
This can just as easily be read to mean “back off” rather than (or in addition to) “retreat”, and can be a card about having appropriate boundaries at/around work (whether “work” is paid work or not). Taking on responsibilities that aren’t mine, that are more than I can carry, or that might go unacknowledged.
There’s some cross-over here wrt the feelings stuff in the upper half of this spread, but I think it’s mostly about taking a step back from the “muddy middle” when friend approach me to ask about work my wife can do, or refraining from stepping in to micro manage some other adult’s allergies, accommodations, or whatever else it is that they can really take care of on their own.
 
Where do I need to charge ahead/through? – Five of Earth
Being an outsider. Feeling unwelcome.
While I used the Silicon Dawn deck for this spread, my most familiar version of the Five of Earth is the one from the Osho Zen deck, which depicts a little kid looking longingly through a locked gate, without realizing that the chain can just be unwound, that they can just slip between the bars if they want to.
The is an earth card, so it means material security, stability, and worthiness/entitlement around physical/financial/bodily things. This is kind of a “right in the feels” card for me right now. The teeter-totter of who financially supports whom at our house is shifting again which, on the one hand, is a huge relief, but on the other is bringing to light (again) all the weird “unworthy of care” feelings that I’m carrying around with me that, if they can’t splort out in one area, find somewhere else to rear their ugly heads. I think this card is a reminder that, rather than continuing to believe what I know isn’t true (that my wife will resent me, leave me, or both if I don’t do Everything myself – uh… see above, re: Three of Earth…), why not just slip through that gate and let your partner be a partner now that she’s able to again.
 
Where Should I Focus My Fiery Energy? – The (Fiery, how appropriate) Fool version N AND the Ninty-Nine of Air.
This Fool, in this deck, is the one who eventually morphs into Aleph Yin November (The Fool Who Flies) . The other card – another one of the Silicon Dawn’s bonus weirdo cards – stands for over-reaction, for living in the shadow of Certain Doooooooooooom.
This is why I drew two cards. One for what I should focus that fiery energy on, yes, and one to show me what’s standing in my way.
Focus my energy on becoming my biggest, best, most integrated self. (Get your Empress Project back in gear, basically).
Be aware that my own fear of being Too Visible (and all the nasty, anti-femme, anti-women stuff that can be leveled at one when one does that under Patriarchy) is what’s convincing me to stay small, stay “safe”, avoid the certain dooooooom of being and expecting Too Much.
 
Well.
Alright then.
 
 
TTFN,
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.