Tag Archives: animism

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

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


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

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


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

Some is Better than None – Carbon Emissions Edition

Conifer Seedlings sprouting in the undergrowth. McCloud River Trail - Shasta-Trinity National Forest - June 2017. Photographed by Carol Underhill, via Wiki Free Images.

Conifer Seedlings sprouting in the undergrowth. McCloud River Trail – Shasta-Trinity National Forest – June 2017. Photographed by Carol Underhill, via Wiki Free Images.


 
Well, folks, I’ve said this more than once. “Some is better than none”.
Buying the organic, fair trade coffee, or the milk in the one-litre glass bottles, some of the time is better than not buying it at all.
Bringing your cloth bags to the grocery store some of the time (and, okay, opting for paper bags when you don’t) is better than never bringing them at all.
Walking/biking/busing to work some of the time is better than never doing it at all.
Making offerings to, and checking in with, your gods eight times a year is better than never doing it at all.
Today I took another “some is better than none” step.
As I’ve mentioned before, we have a car. It’s not a functional car, but we’re hopeful that my wife can get it up and running in time for her to have a commuter vehicle by the time the roads get icy late next Fall. We have a motorcycle. We have drafty windows. I take two round-trip flights to DC every year, and would like to up that number by at least one more.
We don’t have solar panels or super-amazing insulation or geothermal heating.
I used this carbon calculator and, where I didn’t have the information on hand, looked up provincial averages for things like how many kilowatt-hours (electricity) or cubic-meters (natural gas furnace) we probably go through in a year.
According to that calculator, it would take 52 trees a full thirty years (it’s always thirty years for this calculator, the number of trees just changes) to absorb ONE year of my household’s average carbon emissions – assuming I took that extra flight and we got the car working as a daily driver.
 
So I signed up to sponsor the planting of five trees per month through Tree Canada.
 
It will run me $20/month to “plant” 60 trees per year to help offset my household carbon footprint.
I say “help” because there’s no guarantee that those 60 trees won’t be harvested before the 30-year “neutralization date”. (Because I’m brilliant, and didn’t realize that I could do this specifically for their “Grow Clean Air” program where the trees aren’t harvested for a minimum of 30 years, I am now emailing Tree Canada to find out if I can switch that up and pay $30/month – instead of $20 – to have that little bit of assurance/insurance).
 
So.
Some is better than none.
Why I am saying that about this step?
 
Well… Look. I know this is monoculture. I… suspect that what will be planted in my name is basically a lumber plantation, and even if it’s not that, it won’t be anywhere near the kind of mixed species perennial food forest that was here before my own people turned up with intentions of taking over. I know this nonprofit, while it’s its own entity, is also heavily sponsored by the government of Canada (and by a particular oil company with a long-standing baaaaaaad reputation).
So I suspect that this is me underpinning/sponsoring the Canadian Lumber Industry and, by extension, the continued colonization[1] of indigenous lands, just as much as it’s me trying to over-compensate (just barely) for the amount of fossil fuels I burn in my furnace, my (as-yet-impending, but added to the calculation) car, plus all the buses and airplanes I ride in a given year, and the amount of non-renewable energy used to generate the electricity that powers this laptop, my overhead lights, my fridge, my stove, and my chest freezer.
I hope I’m wrong about that.
But I would feel… dishonest, where I to presume that “my” 60 trees per year didn’t have a date with a logging company already set for thirty years from now.
 
So. I may not love it. I may feel more than a little ambivalent about it. But it’s also SOMETHING. And something is better than nothing, so I’ve done it.
 
If you would like to do something similar, you can follow the links in the post and/or you can do the other thing that I do, which is spread native tree seeds in urban areas. Think choke cherries, over-ripe service berries, and other native understory trees, that will be able to grow and thrive in the relatively shaded environment of disturbed urban earth (alleyways, tree medians, the shadows of larger trees, right around the rain-line at the edge of their canopies).
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] What I mean by that: Right now, Canada – as both a governing body and a nation – doesn’t actually have legal right to most of the land it occupies and from-which it harvests natural resources. So we’re technically steeling most of the lumber we harvest. Which, at best, is just monumentally embarrassing. But we are not at the “at best” level right now.

New Moon – Harvest Moon Begins (and Grows) – Season of the Witch

“Winter Squash” – Photo by Sheila Sund, via Wiki Media Commons. Three winter squash – butternut, sweet dumpling, and buttercup – are to the left of the image, dramatically lit from the right, on an otherwise bare surface, against a black backdrop.


 
The mornings are down in the single digits these days, and the nights are hovering around freezing. The back yard is full of blooming New England asters (the purple kind) and, while nothing’s been knocked down by frost just yet (to my surprise), I know it’s coming. We turned the furnace on today and have extra blankets on the bed.
Autumn is so very, very here.
 
We’re slipping towards Root Time pretty quickly now. The leaves are turning. I have bunches of mugwort, yellow mustard (seed pods, in the latter case), sage, and thyme hanging in the kitchen to finish drying. We opened a bottle of Sortilege (a month earlier than I would have, if I hadn’t hidden said bottle away late last April), and I made an offering with the first glass of it to kick off the Season of the Witch.
It’s getting towards introspection season – although, realistically, that’s all year long if you’re me – and, like a lot of people, I’ve got a lot of stuff on my mind.
 
I went to the Climate Justice Rally the other day – and felt less useless for having gone, I have to admit, though I wasn’t expecting that. I keep looking at my somewhat feral yard, where – when we moved in, five years ago (just about exactly), I had hoped to plant a riot of winter squash, rather like the ones displayed in the photo at the top of this post, along with lots of perennial fruits and herbs.
I keep looking at it and wondering “Have I done right by you?”
 
Because, as I keep lamenting, I’m not doing very well at this vegetable gardening thing.
But my yard is a tiny ecosystem. Squirrels and rats (alas), a skunk and a rabbit, a family of raccoons, a semi-feral cat, and a lot of starlings and sparrows (and the odd bluebird, crow, cardinal) have our yard as part of their territory. The back patio is under-pinned (or destabilized, maybe) by a few different kinds of ants. There are spiders, wasps (parasitic and otherwise), two kinds of solitary bee, a few different kinds of butterfly, centipedes, pill bugs, ladybugs, slugs (alas) and snails, and earthworms the thickness of my finger. Between what I grow on purpose, what my neighbour grows on purpose, and what I just allow to grow wild, as it will, we’ve got about half the number of unique plant species that one would find in a healthy tall grass prairie represented and thriving between the front and the back yards of our little row of townhouses. And that’s something I’m proud of.
“Have I done right by you?”
 
The ground is so literal.
I like to think that the offerings of home-made beeswax candles, fresh bread and (not home-made) butter, maple whiskey, and sometimes other tasty things, are appreciated and enjoyed. (Certainly the squirrels like the bread, if that’s any indication).
But I kind of suspect that the compost heap, with its regular additions of coffee grounds, toilet paper tubes, stewed bones, vegetable peelings, and human hair, is more helpful (and more wanted) in the long run. That thinning the Himalayan Balsam so that the Crane’s Bill and Turtlehead had room to grow, but leaving enough of it for the bees to visit, and sowing white clover and wildflower seeds (after thinning out the grass, golden rod, and dog-strangling-vine), probably matter more to my Lady of Earth and my Lady of the Meadow than whether or not I managed to cultivate a lot of winter squash in any given year, even when my Lady of the Meadow is also the winter squash and the raspberries (which consistently refuse to fruit, even now).
“Have I done right by you?”
 
It’s harvest time. The squirrels have already dug up (and gnawed upon) the narcissus bulbs given to us by a friend. The two pounds of carrots I brought home from the grocery store a week or two ago are waterlogged and not doing so well, and I’m having The Feels about food waste. Again. The dill seed heads I harvested went moldy (because I didn’t dry them well enough and didn’t store them right). I still haven’t harvested crab apples, even though I walked by a tree loaded with them twice this past week. I feel wasteful rather than abundant.
“Have I done right by you?”
 
I shuffle the deck by my computer – the Next World, which isn’t the deck I’d usually use for this. The Chariot falls out. The Three of Cups almost jumps with it. I shuffle and shuffle. Look longingly at the Three of Cups, Nine of Cups, now layered one on top of the other at the very bottom of my deck. Pull a card off the top and it’s The Sun.
I want to take that as a Yes.
I want this to be true:
 

 
One of the other reasons why I was asking if I’ve done right by the land I live on is that we found out, just about a month ago, that the building we live in has been put up for sale.
It’s terrifying.
Not least of why being that we’re barely able to cover the bills we have now, and housing – across the city, not just in the neighbourhood we’ve lived in for over a decade and want to stay in – is running $400-$700 more expensive per month than we can handle.
I think about moving, and I just get a tight chest, churning stomach, racing thoughts, and nothing actually useful done. I sob my eyes out thinking that we’ll be this house’s last family and that life is going to stay (financially) hard for the foreseeable.
It’s awful.
I’ve been looking for an anchor income for a while now, but I’m kind upping the search because, if we’re going to afford to live, well, anywhere by the time this unusually-affordable rental house is yanked out from under us, I’m going to need to be SURE that I can show up with at least $800/month to put towards housing and utilities.
 
Sometimes I think that planning to move in the spring is putting the cart before the horse. We have to be able to afford to move before we can actually do so. (At least… I hope that’s how it works out). TBH, I’ve spent a lot of the past four weeks – when I’m not job-hunting or canning or cleaning or writing poetry or doing paid work – wondering how to get myself focused enough to determine What I Really Want, specifically so that I can work some magic towards those ends.
A lot of the past year has been working on the “art” and “sex” elements of my Empress Project. But the Empress, as much as she is VERY MUCH about creativity and sensuality, is also about abundance and stability and I think I need to spend some time (energy, attention, Work) leaning into those aspects.
I wonder to myself what I can offer in exchange for help getting the kind of moderately flexible, very-part-time office/remote-assistant job I’m looking for and what, should I actually secure said job, I can offer on top of that (or after that) to secure the kind of living space we want (2 bedrooms, laundry on site, no pests, ideally with gardening space and a big kitchen, pets A-okay), in any of the neighbourhoods we want, at a price we can afford long-term even if the rent goes up every year.
I keep thinking of Ms Sugar’s long-ago Thoughts on Blood As A Sometimes Food.
I keep thinking of… I think it’s T. Thorn Coyle’s book Sigil Magic where she talks about how doing ritual isn’t the same as doing magic any more than emoting or obsessing about something is the same as working your Will. I keep thinking about how I rarely have any idea if what I’m doing is actually going to get off the ground, let alone get results, let alone-alone get the kind of results I actually want.
Which, like, doesn’t help me actually have the confidence to try spellworking for this stuff, you know?
 
Regardless – and I will surely come back to the above more than once over the coming winter – in my most recent fit of “I don’t know what to dooooooooooo!!!” I did what I tend to do in times of trouble and uncertainty, and started pulling tarot cards.
(Basically, I don’t necessarily even shuffle anything, I just grab the deck and split it at random points).
This is the spread I used.
 
What do I need to think about: The Chariot
What do I need to do: The Eight of Cups
What is my challenge: The Knight of Pentacles
What is my secret weapon: The Four of Wands

 
I tend to read The Chariot as “get up / wake up, and go”. A card about taking action. And it is. But it’s very specifically a card about working one’s will to achieve one’s goals. It’s a card about doing, sure. But it’s also a card about doing magic.
 
The Eight of Cups is typically a card of “mourn and move on”. It’s a card that touches on burnout and anxiety, for sure. And one that suggests leaning into spiritual growth and personal truth, as well. But it’s most often (for me, at least) a card about grieving and letting go, about tying up loose ends and walking away.
 
The Knight of Earth (I can find a picture of the Next World Tarot’s take on the Knight of Pentacles, but there are lots of options out there) is a solid character. But, in the position of a “challenge”, their slow-and-steady nature turns to “afraid to take risks” or “pessimistic” or “keeps themself (too) small”.
 
As for the Four of Wands, for me, it’s always been a card about Community. Participation. Joyful interaction. Strengthening the web of relationships that one is part of. It’s also, however, a card that feels, one the one hand, like the opposite of the Knight of Pentacles’ more challenging aspects – “looking forward expectantly”, “letting go of limitations”, and “opening to new possibilities” – while, on the other, being almost the flip-side of the coin to the Eight of Cups – “getting out of an oppressive situation”, “reflecting on accomplishments”, and “breaking free of bonds”. There’s also an aspect of this card that pertains to taking part in a ritual or rite, although I tend to think that’s more about things like weddings or milestone birthdays (like my upcoming 40th, ye gods…) than, like, solo magical workings in my bathtub. None the less. >.>
 
What do I need to think about: Taking action physically and magically.
What do I need to do: Mourn the (impending, as-yet-unscheduled) loss of this house, and move on (literally as well as figuratively).
What is my challenge: Doing the leg work without getting frozen into inaction due to fear and risk-aversion. Not losing sight of the good stuff over the horizon just because things feel (VERY) precarious right now. Avoiding despair while job- and neighbourhood- hunting in late-stage capitalism and an increasingly expensive city.
What is my secret weapon: My people. My hope. My resistance.
 
I want to keep these cards – these four, and The Sun – in mind as my tarot card meditaiton during this waxing moon. To get’er done without losing sight of my worth and without giving up my arts-oriented work (modeling as a career, and poetry as an a/vocation). To keep making art and magic, possibly in combination. To remember that I’m not entirely powerless. To accept the joy when it comes.
 
~*~
Movement: Not nearly enough. Short, dynamic poses during modeling gigs. Walking all over the place. But that’s about it. I think there needs to be more dancing in my life.
 
Attention: Unsurprisingly? Sniffing around as to what housing costs in which neighbourhoods in town. Keeping an eye on the job boards. Watching the garden for the inevitable frost that will knock a lot of it down (at which-point, it’s clean-up time).
 
Gratitude: Thankful, however ruefully, for the neighbours and friends who brought up having seen the listing for our building on the national real estate website, and for the landlords for not denying it when we brought it up. For library books. For quiet evenings in. For a furnace that works. For clean water that comes right out of the tap. For the tool library. For friends who check in. For slow mornings with my wife. For my girlfriend’s impending (mere days away!) visit. For the upcoming weekend-long kink convention we’ll be attending. For hand-me-down clothes that fit and look good on me. For kindness. For hope.
 
Inspiration: Ongoing climate disaster and housing insecurity, because it’s an ill wind, apparently. :-\ Outside of that, Mabon and related seasonal changes and astrological events, plus the poets of Hustling Verse and also those in my extended circle of queer, polyamourous chosen families. It’s a good place to be.
 
Creation: I wrote two new glosas! I wrote them yesterday! I’m so excited! 😀 😀 😀 I really hope I can keep this up! 😀 Fingers crossed!

How Did My Own Ancestors Build Relationships with The Neighbours? (In Which I’m Just Spitballing…)

So I started reading a book (big surprise). I fact, I’ve been reading a bunch of books, including a few on the archaeological remains of the pre-Christian British Isles. But the book I started yesterday is called How Forests Think (Eduardo Kohn) and it’s both fascinating and a bit of a slog, if only because it’s academic writing and I’m out of practice so even reading relatively accessible academic writing is a bit chewy to get through. But it’s got some really neat ideas so far.
So far granted, being Page Ten.
BUT, from what I can parse through ten pages of introduction, this book is about expanding the (very white) discipline of anthropology – the study of how human being related to each other and the world we exist in – to include how the other lives in that world relate to us. That “relating to” isn’t just about Us telling stories about The Other, but also how They tell stories about Us and each other and, maybe most particularly, about how WE as distinct human and non-human (and animal and non-animal, for that matter) cultures co-create stories about the relationships we have with each other.
 
Which is awesome!
 
And which is also a “weird” way of thinking, if you’re White People. Either a very, very new possibility for our collective/canonical thought or – more likely – a very, very old one that we, ourselves, forgot – and tried to get everyone else to forget, too – but that other people have successfully hung onto despite our shitty best efforts.
 
You guys. I want this to be a Pagan way of thinking.
 
Like, I’m not sure it’s even possibly to “re-indigenize” myself, as a woman of Scottish/Brittish, German, and otherwise variously European ancestry while living as a settler and a colonizer on someone else’s land. And I’m aware that, on some level, I’m still thinking of myself as “the boss of them” when it comes to the other mammals who share my (“my”) yard, and that my relationships with them remain fairly extractive in nature. But. I do want to develop this kind thinking in myself. As a pagan, as someone who cultivates and harvests and eats non-human people, I want to cultivate (further) the understanding that they are people. People who may think about me and my existence, and/or who may relate with me if I open up and allow for that to happen.
 
Anyway.
Back to this book. The idea, the author says, is to explore ways to view ourselves (qua humans) as distinct AND part of a larger conversation or part of a larger whole/community of relationships and kinships that include non-human and non-animal people rather than thinking of ourselves (qua humans) as the only kind of life that has a worldview or relates to other lives.
Which… duh. Anyone who’s so much as met somebody else’s pet knows that animals other than us relate to, and form relationships with, members of their own and other species.
And I like that.
 
One of the reasons I like digging into paleoanthropology and pre-medieval archaeology of Scotland and Northern England is because it might, maybe-maybe, give me an idea of how my own ancestors might, hypothetically, have related to a world that they knew related to them, too.
 
To be honest, I want to find evidence that we were getting it right, once upon a time. Long before feudalism and the idea that a single person could own a vast swath of land and dictate how everyone else who lived there could access or interact with it. Before Christianization. Before Rome. What we were like in the Iron Age? What were we like earlier than that?
But the information I’ve got – through library books and BBC documentaries – feels so… scattered.
Like, I know about the deer masks and the possibility that they were involved in some kind of shape-shifting… thing. And I know about the heaps of shells and the burials with seal flippers. I know about how all the rivers and wells were sacred. How gods were location-specific. How you got to, or became part of, the world of non-corporeal-intelligences by dying (the river goddesses who became so by drowning in their respective rivers, the “passage graves” that were also faerie mounds).
 
That stuff tells me that seals were relevant. That deer were relevant. That specific places were marked out as Special. It tells me that my ancestors, like every human being pretty much ever, most likely created rituals around uncertain events (like hunting or traveling or dying) to attempt to grant us either a little control or a little negotiating power or a little good luck or favour, because those things might help get us the results we hope for rather than any kind of worst case scenario.
It tells me that seals may have been connected to the afterlife. Like the stories of selkies, it suggests that maybe there’s a relationship there that involves shape-shifting/skin-shifting and that maybe also involves mixing families.
 
Basically, I can extrapolate very broadly from the few bits of actual information available, and then tell myself a story – one that may not be at all accurate – that says “My very distant ancestors may have had a story that said we/they were related to seals. This relationship may have made it okay for us to (a) hunt them OR (b) harvest fish and shellfish from the seashore or the ocean itself, specifically because we are also ‘of the ocean’ in a way that other predators, like wolves or lynx, are not”.
Think also of the Welsh (were they ever more broadly Brythonic?) stories about Anwyn – the otherworld that is “very deep” and quite probably an island – and how you get to the land of the dead via the water, you become a goddess of a river by drowning in it. The people under the hill, and the people under the waves, were – at least some of them – our ancestors’ ancestors.
…Maybe.
 
So… did we have a relationship – like a literal, familial-in-some-way relationship – with the seals?
Maybe?
Did we – meaning literally my “we”, the Selgovae who lived by the water just north of Hadrian’s Wall, the people of what was eventually the Kingdom of Strathclyde (what is now northern England and southern Scotland) – have something similar with the red deer? “The Selgovae” is what Ptolemy called us. “The Hunters”. Did we skin-walk to negotiate with the deer folk? Did their sprits speak through us or borrow our bodies?
The Red Deer Frontlet masks/“masks” at Star Carr (contemporary northern Yorkshire, or about a week’s walk from my Ancestral Seat in Galloway/Dumfries) hint that maybe this was A Thing for My People a whole 11,000 years ago.
But, again, we don’t actually know.
I certainly don’t.
And that was a looooong time gone.
 
Anyway. As I said, I’m only on Page Ten of this book. I have no idea how forests – or meadows or, most relevantly, the scrubby disturbed-earth that makes up a lot of That Other Space in urban areas – think, or might think, or might be inclined to have relationships of any kind with me.
 
But a place to start – at least according to a Druid I got to talk to not that long ago – is to notice and recognize, to pay attention and acknowledge, to say Hello to the non-human people you meet who aren’t just directly-related to humans (e.g.: a dog on a literal leash, or your friend’s favourite succulent – although sure, them, too). Go out. Say Hello. Start – or keep on – getting to know The Neighbours.

New Moon – Ice Moon Begins (Imbolg 2019)

What I Did on My Imbolg Vacation: A burst pipe chez my GF meant a team effort to prevent the house from flooding PLUS shutting off the water for a then-unknown amount of time, which meant reserving some of the flood for toilet flushing and hand-washing while we still had the option. Pictured: A stand-up shower stall with six large pots/bowls of water sitting on the tiles, awaiting necessity.

What I Did on My Imbolg Vacation: A burst pipe chez my GF meant a team effort to prevent the house from flooding PLUS shutting off the water for a then-unknown amount of time, which meant reserving some of the flood for toilet flushing and hand-washing while we still had the option. Pictured: A stand-up shower stall with six large pots/bowls of water sitting on the tiles, awaiting necessity.


 
I got back from my Imbolg visit to my girlfriend’s place earlier this week, but have been holding off doing the write-up for the New Moon / Cross-Quarter Day until I had some free time and recovered energy to do so.
In my neck of the woods – which is undergoing its annual Winterlude Thaw right now[1] – Imbolg means that the light is noticeably coming back. There’s still a LOT of winter yet to go in a place where even the earliest flowers don’t turn up until well after the Spring Equinox. It’s a time to focus on the hearth and the forge, on what you can create – with your hands, with your head and heart – and on the seeds (literal and metaphorical) that you know won’t even be sprouting for another few months. Imbolg is the half-way point of Winter. We made it through the worst of the cold. Now we get through the lean times (much, muuuuuuch easier to do with two freezers and grocery stores available, I do realize). Mending and tending. A slow germination, leaning towards May, towards heat and light and the quickening earth.
 
But. I didn’t spend Imbolg in my neck of the woods.
I spent it, and the New Moon in Aquarius, in a different town (and a different country) entirely, in a climate that’s hypothetically much warmer than my own, but which was enduring unusually cold temperatures when I arrived from The Frozen North. And I spent it dealing with water a whole lot more than this fire festival would normally entail.
As you can see in the photo (and the caption) above, There Was A Flood. A burst pipe, low in the wall, that had to be shut off from the street by the local water authorities. There was a lot of baling; a lot of wringing out of sodden towels, outdoors in -13C temperatures, a lot of coming up with DIY solutions while my person and her housemates and I waited for the Landlord to show up with an actual plumber to fix the break, and wondering how many candles we’d actually be lighting once the sun went down given that the burst pipe was a little too close to an electrical outlet to safely keep the power (meaning the heat, and the lights, and the stove) running.
It all worked out in the end, of course, and mercifully quickly, but it was An Adventure.
And now my young lady and I have A Story to tell.
We were joking that we were “officially a couple now”, because we’d been through a crisis together.
It was a good visit, my dears. For so many reasons.
 
Now that I’m home, it’s time to do the cleaning that tends to come with Imbolg, the start-fresh moments that come with every New Moon. Time to pack up the Solstice decorations, change out the spruce wreath for the one that’s all grape vines, ribbons, and cinnamon. Time to vacuum the burlap-and-foam under padding for the imminant return of the Magic Carpet my wife (after joking about it literally since our first service-versary, AGES ago – we’re at nine years in a service dynamic as of this Sunday) has had professionally cleaned through one of her jobs. Time to shovel the back walkway (again), clean out the fridge, and take out a lot of compost.
 
Liz Worth talks about the New Moon in Aquarius being one that can help us break free of old patterns. She says:

What we are hoping for is there for a reason, and that our desires are arrows helping us to see the way.

Where are your desires, pleasures, longings directing you?
 
Steve Kenson, in his essay “The Queer Journey of the Wheel” (in Harrington’ and Kulystin’s Queer Magic: Power Beyond Boundaries) refers to Imbolg as a time of Naming, of putting words around What Is, if only to yourself. A time of recognition and understanding. He’s talking explicitly about one’s self-recognition of being queer/trans/both, but I think it can go beyond that. We’re still in Root Time, contemplation time. What needs recognizing right now?
 
Imbolg is Brigid’s day. A good time for poetry (it’s ALWAYS a good time for poetry, but stick with me). Brigid is a wordsmith as well as a blacksmith. What are you trying to put words around right now?
 
~*~
 

Silicon Dawn - On the left, the 6 of Swords (a smith working in her workshop, five swords hung on the wall behind her, while she works the sixth using an electric current. On the right, She Is Legend (VIII - one of the bonus cards in the Silicon Dawn deck), a genderfluid love-cat in tiny clothing, possibly planning to dance all night at an house-based rave.

Silicon Dawn – On the left, the 6 of Swords (a smith working in her workshop, five swords hung on the wall behind her, while she works the sixth using an electric current. On the right, She Is Legend (VIII – one of the bonus cards in the Silicon Dawn deck), a genderfluid love-cat in tiny clothing, possibly planning to dance all night at an house-based rave.


 
For my tarot card meditaiton during this waxing moon, I drew two cards.
First, I flipped the deck over to find the Six of Swords.
Then I shuffled and split the deck to find She Is Legend.
 
The six of swords is a card about change. Changing states. Changing locations. Sometimes it’s literally about going on a physical trip somewhere else – something that can be much needed as we slog through the cold, damp, grey, endless days of what author Amelinda Berube eloquently refers to as “the armpit of the year” (and that slog, itself, is an aspect of this card). But the swords are cards about intellect, about the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of the world and our respective places in it, and this card frequently puts me in mind of The Hermit – a reminder to make some inner changes, create some new neural pathways in order to enter a new frame of mind and deal with the effects of trauma. (I mean, don’t get me wrong. This takes FOR EVAR and is an absolutely cyclic, non-linear mess of an undertaking. But it’s a necessary one and it can be accomplished, little by little, provided you actually put some effort into getting the work actually done).
 
She Is Legend is one of the Silicon Dawn’s “bonus cards”. It’s a joyful, big-hearted, queer-as-fuck, indicator of having a million options, of infinite potential and fractal possibilities, of love never being a zero-sum game. This is a reminder that I don’t have to pretend to be need-less. That I don’t need to preemptively put myself onto anyone else’s back-burner. This more-experienced-than-they-look character is a reminder to remember the time when my skin knew what it wanted, and that naivete never saved me, but that the arrows of my own desire can.
 
~*~
 
Movement: A fair amount of dancing around the kitchen, singing along to tunes. (That said, I’ve been avoiding walking to work lately, because the ground is very icy and – even with crampons on – I have some concerns about falling). Doing some exercises to help my back (this means Plank more than anything else) and shoulders. Did my ten minutes (roughly – based on counting out minutes the way I do when I’m doing short poses) of weights and cardio (for a given value of “cardio” that means “walking up and down the stairs a lot”) and yoga things, and am honestly rather embarrassed about just how out of breath I am having done so. But I did them (and found myself wanting to do vocal warm-ups, at the same time, which was a nice bonus). So go me.
 
Attention: Keeping an eye out for submission calls and deadlines. Also keeping an eye out for icy patches when I’m walking.
 
Gratitude: Thankful for affordable (it’s relative) plane tickets, flexible work schedules, being able to see my girlfriend in person(!!!), for easy-free communication so that we can stay in touch without drowning in long distance bills, grateful for her patience and her kindness and her enthusiasm. Grateful for meeting my new metamours, and my GF’s Best People, and really liking them. Grateful for easy, largely hassle-free border crossings in both directions (thank goodness!). Grateful for snuggles with my wife when I got home, and being able to tell her stories of my time away. Grateful for her skills and her steadfastness and her willingness to make me comfort food the night I got back. And for the bucket of compersion she’s so happy to marinate in. Grateful for how much my two sweeties like each other. There are other things, too. Gratitude for modeling work, for a repaired coat and boots, for discount bath products at the pharmacy, for an in-coming clean carpet. All sorts of good things. But right now – as is so often the case – I’m grateful for having so much love in my life. In this case, for being able to say “I love you” to two romantic partners, two s-types, who say it to me, too. My heart is very full right now, and it’s wonderful.
 
Inspiration: The Shondes’ “Everything Good”. Hot baths (because: me). Saint Carmen of the Main (Linda Gaboriau’s English translation). Poems Between Women (edited by Emma Donoghue).
 
Creation: Started learning how to make lace this past week, and it’s actually working. Have started (just barely) a not-for-the-project glosa based on Elsa Gidlow’s poem, “Relenquishment”. May possibly have invented (ish?) a cocktail, though I’ll need to actually try it out, despite having zero of the ingredients. >.>
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] There’s been a rise in temperatures during most of February for a solid 100 years. It’s why they scheduled a festival of explicitly outdoor “winter fun” at this time. But a hundred years ago those temperature climbs still meant it was below Freezing. Just think, like, -7C rather than -30C. Instead of what it’s doing now, which is flip flopping between -18C and +5C without a lot of transition time, thus turning the whole city into a sheet of ice with intermittent flooding.

Canadian Pagan Declaration on Intolerance

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

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

Thanks,
Meliad.

New Year New You 2016: Week Nine – Asking For Help

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: “Asking for help feels almost like admitting defeat. And by defeat, I mean admitting that you’re not invincible. Well. You’re not. Sorry.“… So ask for the help that you need.
 
Tarot Card: I…honestly have no idea. Part of me wants to choose a Six card. The six of fire (abundance, success) or the six of earth (for its elements of checking in and touching base)… but neither of those is quite right. Part of me wants to name the Nine of Cups (for its “wishes coming true” aspect) and part of me wants to suggest the Wheel of Fortune, if only because of how much this seems to have relied on good luck and random chance. Lemme explain…
 
Thoughts:
I’ve been sitting on this prompt for a while, because I looked at it and thought “Who the hell do I ask for help on this one??” and then, this morning, help asked for ME.
As if by magic. >.>

That’s what I mean by “good luck and random chance”.
 
Turns out, a friend of a friend is getting her Life Coach certification, and needs to practice on people (for free!). So I asked my friend to put me in touch with her friend, and have since sent off a note asking if said friend can help me with some specifics around my Receptivity.
At this point, I have no idea whether this is going to go anywhere. I mean, I hope it does, and I’ve given my possible Life Coach as much information as I can without just running on at the mouth, and we’re going to have A Conversation to see if my Stuff can be molded into something that her school of coaching can help with.
 
Fingers crossed. (I may or may not update this to tell you all how it goes, if it goes. Again: Fingers crossed!)

Where Has The Nail Polish Remover Gone? – Pagan Experience 2015

Okay.
So we have People.
Every so often, something – usually from my wife’s workshop (becaus eshe has a lot of cool stuff, but maybe also because a lot of said stuff is ancient technology), but sometimes from elsewhere – will randomly go missing. For an hour. Sometimes for a couple of days. And then it’ll be back, right where we’d last seen it, right where we’d check however-often in the interveining span of time during-which it was resolutely Not There.
 
I’ve heard people talking about how the fairies, or the houseweights, or some other subsection of the house-spirit population, stole their keys or otherwise messed with their stuff, so it’s not really shocking that this would happen to us, as well.
 
I guess what I’m wondering is “Why do they want this stuff?” And why, perhaps more to the point, do I think it makes sense for them to want some of the stuff – hand tools, for example – but not other stuff, like the titular nail polish remover. Is it just because it’s pretty? Blue? A weird set of chemicals to experiment with? Is it becasue I use it fairly regularly, and they wanted to check it out? Is it because they want me to notice them?
 
I have no freaking idea. O.O
 
In chatting with my wife about this, we’ve concluded that (a) it’s really great that at least everything always comes back, and also (b) that nothing additional comes back with it. Because that would be even weirder and more disconcerting.
 
Anyone reading this have similar experiences? Does asking for the swift return of items get them back any faster? Thoughts? Suggestions?
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Caring for The Land Beneath My Feet – The Pagan Experience 2015

For me, this is literally the ground beneath my feet and, right now, she’s frozen solid and buried under many feet of snow.
None the less, things are still happening. That’s Imbolg for you, amirite? 😉
My wife was talking to her dad the other day, and passed along his advice to me: Start your leeks and onions now so that they’ll be big enough to plant out in May.
I admit that I wasn’t actually planning on growing onions or leeks this year (or potentially any year, but that’s another story). But I’m looking forward to planting cucumbers, winter squash, beans, and cold-weather crops like kale and chard once May rolls around, and to buying (yes, buying) tomato starts (and possibly other nightshades, we’ll see how much room I have available) as well.
I feel like a significant part of my Path is something along the lines of Land Guardianship – and that’s a mouthful when you’re a white chick in North America (Kitigan Zibi Territory, Turtle Island, specifically) to be kind to the land, “walk lightly” as the saying goes, use less plastic, buy less New Stuff in lieu second-hand stuff (or just No Stuff – there’s a concept), to avoid poisoning the ground and make compost instead.
I’m nowhere near perfect. Probably not even adequate, if the past 4-5 months are any indication, but you get back on the horse, so to speak, and pick it up again.
 
Cultivate biodiversity in your yard & your neighbourhood
Feed the soil
Oppose Big Oil
Support Indigenous people doing what they need to do[1]
Give warm socks to homeless shelters and drop-ins
Buy food from ethical-sustainable farmers in your general area
Heck, if you’re able to do so, maybe buy non-perishable food from ethical-sustainable farmers in your general area (or at least your province) and donate them to a foodbank in your general area, too
 
We are part of the land. Part of – only part of, but part of – caring for the land, is caring for its human population. Everything overlaps and links together.
Which is kind of the point, I think.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Sometimes that’s donating to a shelter (like the one on Redeau Street that just lost its funding), sometimes it’s buying work by indigenous artists, sometimes it’s signing petitions and/or writing to MPs demanding something actually get done about the legion of missing & murdered indigenous women & girls in this country. That’s three things. There are a zillion more. Go find them.

Resolutions – Pagan Experience 2015

Hi-ho, folks, this is my first promp for The Pagan Experience 2015 blogging challenge. Welcome to any new people who may have turned up and hello again to the rest of you. 🙂
 
So “Resolutions” can actually find some echos in my final Pagan Blog Project post for 2014, and ties nicely to the whole concept outlined in Miss Sugar’s New Year New You ongoing project as well.
Personally, I tend not to make Resolutions. They seem like a generally bad idea – like making a promise when you’re not sure you can actually keep it[1] – BUT I do occasionally set goals for myself in the interests of taking small, manageable steps towards some sort of free-form “end-goal” that may or may not matter in and of itself[2].
 
Magically/Religiously speaking, my goals as a bioregional animist, a musician, a sacred-sexuality Perv, and a kitchen witch include:
 
(A) Grow a garden.
As-(many-of)-you-know-bob, my lovely wife and I moved into a rental house in our neighbourhood (and the heck OUT of our former roach-tastic apartment building – thank you ALL of our gods for that fantastic opportunity!) which has given us the GLORIOUS luxury of a yard. My wife now has a back patio upon-which to do motorcycle maintenance, and I have 1/3 of a shared pack garden in-which to grow All The Veggies (our neighbour has the other 2/3 under cultivation already – I’m okay with this. It’s a containers-required space anyway, since we’re talking a century of lead-poisoning in the soil at the this point, so I’m Just Fine with growing potatoes in a barel, and setting my squash, greens, and tomato plants in second-hand horse troughs (we are in the market for same, fyi, and one of my wife’s girlfriends is looking for them amongst her rural neighbours – wish us luck!). As a bioregional animist, my particular Path is linked with a certain amound of land-guardianship but also with the idea that, when you eat the food that grows where you live, your body becomes more literally and mindfully part of where you live. As in: I’m part of this urban ecosystem already. I shed hair and fingernail clippings here. I breathe here. I shit here. I’m part of this place. But when I make a point of finding/growing/eating food that grew in this province, in this microclimate/valley, in this neighbourhood, in this yard… I’m making a point of acknoweldging and strengthening those ties. And that’s important to me. Likewise… I come from farmers. More recently on my mom’s side than on my dad’s side, but on both sides: Farmers. The last time I had a yard, my farming grandparents were both still alive and both well enough to travel (all of my grandparents are dead at this point, so it’s nice that my ancestors can see what I’m up to and maybe give me some pointers when it comes to growing and harvesting the good stuff)… and I remember my Nana being really happy that I was growing food in my back yard. Like “It’s nice to see this continuing”. That kind of thing. So there’s also a pretty big tie to my herritage to my ancestors, including ancestor that I was able to meet in life, there too. I love the idea of growing the pumpkins that become my pumpkin butter, growing the tomatoes that become my salsa and bruschetta (among numerous other things), the cukes that become my garlic-dill pickles, and – eventually – the rhubarb, sea berries, and currants that become my jams, chutneys, and barbicue sauces. I love the opportunity to sit at the (yet-to-be-scrounged) patio table, drinking iced tea made from my peppermint and dried red currants, watching the bees zip and zoom among the squash and bean and tomato vines, knowing that my own roots in this place are growing deeper and stronger along with them.
 
(B) Keep Writing
I could say “finish the novel” or “finish the poetry manuscript” but… Okay, see above RE: making promises you’re not sure you can keep. I don’t actually trust myself to finish a book-length piece of writing, in spite of having got through nanowrimo successfully at least twice. BUT if I just Keep Writing – do that thing that Neil Gaiman says to do and simply keep putting one word after the other – I will eventually get to the point where I’ve finished the entirety of Draft One. Which hopefully won’t suck completely (my plan is to get a friend to edit the first 1/3 of it – what I’ve got don so far – and see what needs fixing/clarfying/etc… and then go from there). The plan is also to hit up a coffee shop once a week or so and hand-write some poetry, with the plan being to get enough loosely-food-themed poems FINISHED that I can start putting them into place and trying to polish them up. Wish me luck on that one.
 
(C) Wake up my Bone Snake
Which sounds way cooler than “practice culturally appropraited Kundalini Yoga-as-taught-by-white-people”, doesn’t it? Basically, the plan here is to use tantric type breathing techniques and Kundalini movements/poses (as taught by white people, both down the street from me and/or in videos like this one) to free up my own energy in ways that facilitate both my sexuality and my musicianship[3]. Tied to this, of course, are the desires to (a) take further steps into active polyamoury; (b) get my musical self back to pre-University levels of confidence, shiny ability, & performanceship; and (c) Get more magically-delicious from a leather-woo/woo-sexual perspective. I’d love to throw in a Con like Dark Oddyssey (the one in DC), as well, but that’ll have to wait until there’s a good deal more money in the bank.
 
There are other things – like getting physcially stronger, getting better at sewing, getting comfortable wearing more stylish[4] clothes when I’m just plain-old out-and-about, incorporating (functional!) sigils into my magical workings, and having more people over on a casual basis – but those are the big ones, I think.
 
Anyway. That’s where things are at.
Wish me luck, and do stick with me for the rest of 2015.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Like… You can Resolve to Loose Fifteen Pounds – to pick a really common one that turns up at this time of year – but you actually have very little control over whether or not that happens. Dropping five pounds is easy. Any more than that, and it basically becomes some sort of herculean effort full of deprivation for… no results what-so-ever. Just as one example.
 
[2] Like… I want to get stronger, physically speaking. But I don’t set goals like “I can dead-lift X pounds by Y date” because… that seems like setting myself up for failure in no uncertain terms. Instead, I set goals like “Do something physical – lift small weights for X repetitions; do hatha yoga poses for X minutes; go for a walk into the next neighbourhood over and back; work in the garden; go swimming; run up and down the stairs X times; etc – every day”… and, one way or another, I can make that happen most days – even if it’s just because I have to get groceries (walking into the next neighbourhood and back + wieght-lifting (sort of) on the way home) or do laundry (same again) outside the house. They’re tiny, and easy to accomplish in a “Just get up and do it” kind of way (like going up and down the stairs when it’s -32 out and I Just Don’t Wanna), and they add up over time to me being able to take hills more easily or carry heavier groceries home all at once, or other things that effectively add up to more strength and endurance on my part… without making some kind of Resolution for what that’s going to look like 12 months from now. Does that make sense?
 
[3] I’m a singer – meaning that my instrument is my body – and I’ve found (to my surprise, but not exactly) that the energy points that get called Chakras (the big ones that line up along the spine, at any rate) all light up as I’m getting ready to sing. My teacher didn’t teach me how to do this on purpose, this is just what my body does when I’m prepping (properly) to sing. Perhaps unusrprisingly, there’s a HUGE tie-in between my magical ability my musical ability, my creative ability, and my sexuality… and I find that if I do this kind of physical-energetic work (breath of fire, being one, but far from the only one), I open the chanels to do all of that so much better and more freely. So it’s kind of a Thing to make happen this year and – chances are good – all foreseable years into the future.
 
[4] For a given value of “stylish”. Bascially, I have a very nebulous idea of what “my style” actually is… and it does grow and change with time… but I also know that I get a lot of attention when I’m being my fully fabulous Femme Self, and… in spite of being Internationally Tall, it takes a fair amount of practice to be able to handle that degree of attention all the time. I’ve started with charging my mascara (magically-speaking) and one of my perfumes (“Blood Kiss” by BPAL, if you’re wondering), and by routinely weeding my wardrobe in order to get rid of stuff that doesn’t fit or doesn’t suit… But working my way up to 100% Glamazon Baddass in casual situations is going to take some work. :-\