Tag Archives: faith

New Moon – Apple Moon Begins

Autumn is definitely on its way.
I kind of fear that my garden has been a bit of a bust this year – though we’ve got a few beans and I expect to bring in a few bouquets of chard over the next couple of months (mostly for the freezer). I’ve basically missed chokecherry season, so I didn’t make chokecherry curd this year. I feel a bit silly about that, but here we are. I’ll be harvesting apples (mostly crab apples) and trying my hand at cider and mead again this year, though.
At least my freezer is stocked with zucchini (though I’d like to get another 2-3 dozen pucks of the stuff frozen, tbh, if not more) and diced tomatoes (same – I’m doing this instead of canning them, this year, because I find I like the taste of the frozen stuff better than the taste of crushed tomatoes with sugar and vinegar in them… go figure) before the summer’s well and truly gone.
We’ve managed to acquire a new food processor, after I managed to melt the carafe on the our previous one. One of my art clients has downsized and is getting rid of some housewares, so she passed that along to us. As such, I have Grand Plans for lots of hummus, and also for (renewing my Ottawa Tool Library membership and) borrowing the pressure canner in order to put up a 4-8 liters of pumpkin soup, and a dozen pints of ready-to-go chick peas and great northern beans. I my try using their steam juicer, too, when I bring in the crab apples.
Other than that, the main thing I’ll be water-bath canning is pumpkin butter. No, my pumpkins didn’t give me any fruit (other than one half-eaten, but otherwise ripening, one low on a small vine… dammit), but I’ll be out at the grocery store buying up Porcelain Doll pumpkins – which are super meaty and don’t have a tonne of water content OR seeds – to turn into soup and pumpkin butter and, eventually, pumpkin-pie frozen yoghurt (and, um, actual pumpkin pies…).
I feel okay (…ish) about this.
I hope I still feel okay about it in November and, rather more-so, in February and April.
Fingers crossed.
 
~*~
 
Following Liz Worth’s spread for connecting with this very earthy Virgo new moon, I pulled the following cards (or, more accurately, had the following cards jump out of the deck in this order):
 
What is my body calling for? – The Star
This is a card about hope and optimism, not something I necessarily associate with “what is my body telling me I physically need”. But, as a body card, it says “Slow down. Find your center”.
Someone (Parneet on Chai Chats?) referred to meditation as “body time”. Like “Yes, mind, I see you having lots of thoughts, but it’s not time for that right now. Right now is body time”.
That said, and somewhat to my surprise, The Star allegedly has something to do with body issues like “ankles, legs, blood circulation, spasmodic complaints, nervous system“. Which is like… “I do have nerve-related issues in my legs because of my back stuff…” So that’s also relevant to attend to.
 
What is my schedule calling for? – The Page of Earth
This card, I pulled off the top of the deck when it felt right to do so. The other cards were all jumpers, so I feel like I had a bit of agency (not tonnes, but some) in choosing this. Which seems apt, given what it’s about. The Page of Earth is a card of curiosity (as opposed to anxiety) but, even more-so, it’s a card of steady, step-by-step actions: Make the time to make the things. Make the time to do the yoga. Make the time to do the offerings. Prioritize the commitments you’ve made to yourself, your art, your gods. Make the time to write the poetry and work on the phsyical, concrete projects that will get you where you want to go.
 
What is my foundation calling for? – The Page of Fire
Full disclosure? I’m not sure what “my foundation” is. When I was shuffling for this one, I sent my focus down to my roots, down to the seat of my need, but this could just as easily refer to the “Deep Self” or “Divine Self” that Starhawk and Gede Parma talk about.
Either way, the card I got was the Page of Fire, which is a card of creativity and optimism (much like the Star, actually) as well as a card of risk-taking and confidence. My foundation – whatever that is – says “Put Yourself Out There!”
 
What is my wisdom calling for? – The Three of Earth
This is the card of “know your worth”. It calls for collaboration and says “let your labour be meaningful”. It reminds me, just a little, of this post, from more than a year ago, reminding myself to make the holy every-day and to make the every-day holy. I may not need to conceptualize every single act of washing dishes and doing vacuuming as a specific thing I’m doing to honour a particular deity (Mattaer, in this case), but remembering what it will get me, what it’ll make easier or better for me, is also relevant. Vacuuming may not be meaningful in and of itself, but making the space clean and nice so that I want to roll out my yoga mat? That’s relevant. Doing the every-day labour because I’m worthy of the results.
 
What I’m picking up on:
Make your labour meaningful – imbue your work with meaning; Be brave and put your creative self out there. Know your worth and let other people see and recognize it. Your work is meaningful, so prioritize it. Make the time to do the things that are meaningful to you, that you (say you) value, that matter to you (…and that help your body deal with its physical issues).
 
~*~
 
It’s with the above in mind that I choose – because I’m choosing this one – for this waxing cycle’s tarot card meditation the Nine of Air.
Wait, what? Isn’t the nine of air about guilt and self-loathing and anxiety and despair??
Well, yes. And that’s relevant here – If all of my bits, from my Deep Self to my literal/physical self – are saying “make time to prioritize what matters to you” + “have some confidence, already”, they are also saying “Remember you are worthy. Stop selling yourself short and putting your health and your own goals and priorities last”. So, on the one hand, I’m choosing the Nine of Air as a “stop doing this specific business” reminder. It relates to my Body’s call to “find your center” as well, and to the my need to enter a slightly meditative (or at least quiet, slowed-down, non-spinning) state if I want to actually do my art with any degree of skill.
But the nines – as Melissa Cynova says in Kitchen Table Tarot – are all about maturing and awareness.
 

Wildwood Tarot – Nine of Arrows – “Dedication” – a woman in a blue gown and a red shawl plays her bow as though it were a musical instrument.


 
The Wildwood Tarot depicts, and defines, the Nine of Arrows (air, swords) in a much more positive light than most interpretations I’ve come across. In this instance, the Nine is a card of focus and dedication, of stripping away distractions. Here, as the little write-up book says, the figure directs “their arrows of inspiration by playing the bow as an instrument of summoning. The inner oath helps keep [them] on a balanced footing”.
 
I chose this card primarily for this reason. A reminder to Show Up. To do the actions (to start again, over and over, in doing them) that move me towards my goals. To dedicate myself to myself, to my art, to my gods. To do the daily practices (will I do them every day? Will I make sure of it?) that are good for my body, good for my religiosity, that will help me be open to the connections I want and miss.
 
So, with that, I’m going to work on my Collage workshop submission, see if I can write a poem, make some beeswax tea lights, and do a tiny bit of yoga.
 
~*~
 
Movement: LOTS of walking – maybe a little too much, due to Dyke March last Saturday. Moon Salutations. “Push Outs” in doorways, at the laundromat, and in the hall using the banister as support. There needs to be more dancing here, I think.
 
Attention: Watching the apple ripen, and just being very aware that autumn is pretty much on the doorstep – ye gods, but this felt like such a cool, short summer… Noticing all the queers, whose colours and finery are a little more obvious because of the recent Pride festivities. (I love us. I love our joy and how much we shine). Where I’m feeling Nerve Issues in relation to my lower back. When and whether I’m starting to spin, and how long it takes (and what it takes) to chill myself back out again.
 
Gratitude: Friends who invite me to visit, let me use their washing machines, turn up with butter and cheese after their non-vegan guests have gone home, make plans to see me and follow through with them, who send me bags of garden produce, who ask me how I’m doing. A weekend on my own. Video dates with both my partners. A fun novel to pour myself into. Poems that come fairly easily and work out pretty well in first-draft form. Three new poems in print. snuggles with my wife. Ice cream cones and successfully improvised “fancy flavours” yoghurt pops (I did crab-apple & juniper, and they were good). Letters from my girlfriend. Getting queer-spotted by another femme, and feeling Actually Seen, which was pretty great.
 
Inspiration: Trying to dig into my experiences in DC, about a month ago, to write poetry that touches a lot on spirituality. Digging out old books of Goddess Poetry for similar reasons. My chapbook is pretty-much ready to shop around – though I’d like to get four more pieces in print before I actually start that particular process – but it means that it’s time to start work on the next one, along side continuing to do my Femme Glosa Project. I’m currently thinking that maybe I’ll try writing some devotional poetry and see where that gets me, if anywhere? Seems like a good idea for now, so let’s see where it takes me. Planning to hit up an open mic tonight and (perform, but also) see if I get inspired there, too.
 
Creation: A number of poems, a couple of which is pretty good and the rest of which are… “very drafty”, let’s say. But still: Poems! Working on a knitting project that seems to be coming along much better than the last time I tried this one. Made and/or repaired a heap of earrings. The above-mentioned yoghurt-pops.

Full Moon – Sap Moon Crests (and Wains)

Got sick when the moon crested.
In spite of that (or possibly because of it, given how I spent last Sunday), I’m feeling a little bit more in touch with my glamourous side. I spent yesterday unpacking books that I bought during my (over-long and never-completed) MA in Religious Studies, where I focused on Menstruation and Goddess Spirituality (more on that here), and then knitting a bag for my third divination deck (the Daughters of the Moon deck that is… not actually a tarot deck, but calls itself one). It’s nice to have those books out, even if my personal understanding of Goddess Spirituality, as a faith with women’s bodily autonomy and self-(re)claimation at its core, has devoloped quite a ways away from the biological-reductionism & ciscentrism/cissexism that shows up in a lot of those texts.
I think I might be in the “slightly manic / risky behaviour looks appealing” phase of getting-over-a-breakup (at least according to this thing) which… may or may not do great things for my Glamour. But it’s giving me Reasons to drag my how-I-present-myself game up out of the doldrums it was in two weeks ago, so that’s something.
 
~*~
 
MOTION: Ye gods, I have got to get myself to a pool. With a hot tub. and a sauna. Next week can’t get here soon enough.
 
ATTENTION: Paying a lot of attention to the “I Wants” in my head (e.g.: I would love to go to an event like Sapphic Aquatic, but without the $100 round trip + accomodations-hunting it would require), but also trying to pay attention to, and acknowledge, the many elements of “What Happy Looks Like” (for me) that are already part of my life.
 
GRATITUDE: The option of buying popsicles just because I want them. A wife who is willing to do the cooking when I’m sick AF and who makes me tea and slow-dances with me in the living room. ❤ The luxury of new deoderant, Just Because (although I am laughing at myself, slightly, for believing that a femme chicky like me buying Old Spice is somehow "transgressive"… Yeah…).
 
INSPIRATION: Warsan Shire's gorgeous, evocative poetry (as featured in Lemonade). Clearly I have to look this woman up.
 
CREATION: Wrote a poem about claiming my body as my own the other day. Hopefully more to follow.

M is for Making Time – Pagan Blog Project 2014

Last week, I wrote about Magic and Making Do. Kitchen Magic, in other words. This time – regardless of when I hit the “publish” button – I’m writing about making time. Because I haven’t been making time. Not for a couple of months. And now I’m working a contract – a job that eats a lot of time, whether I want it to or not, whether it needs me to, or not – and I don’t have the long stretches of quasi-empty hours available to fill with whatever I need to fill them with. Everything gets squished into the three-and-a-bit hours between getting home from my 9-5 and the time when I need to crawl into bed if I’m going to get enough sleep before I have to get up and get myself out the door. I don’t (currently) have the luxury of lighting candles in mid-afternoon, and being available to keep them from both snuffing themselves out by accident or burning out of control (unlikely, but still: candles are open flames, even if they’re small ones) while I also do laundry, work on The Novel, study up on Sacred Kink or spirit work, or what-have-you, concoct a low-and-slow meal for dinner (still hours away), make a new batch of bread, follow up on personal emails… you name it.
Unsurprisingly, I regret both not having the time right now, but also not having made the time, when I had it in abundance, to make those regular offerings, to keep going on my Practice (as the hip kids like to call it).
 
Gordon has a piece on making your Ideal Day a reality. Sometimes I indulge myself by daydreaming about such a day. What would it look like? How would I spend it? Of course, there are a zillion different Ideal Days, depending on the season and on what has my focus at the moment. Some ideal days are spent harvesting and canning, singing as I work in the garden, dancing in the kitchen while I prep a dinner that’s heavy on the raw veggies, and eating that meal on the porch with my sweetie, with no time at all spent on devotions or physical exercise outside of those practical activities that act as both if (when) I get my headspace right. Some ideal days are spent on the modeling dais, or in front of the camera, then editing, posting, and promoting my work. They include “personal maintenance” to the tune of long baths, yoga classes, and pedicures, but dinner is a luxurious yet affordable meal out (at a friend’s house and involving grocery-store purchased pot-luck additions, or at a restaurant in the neighbourhood) rather than something I cooked myself, and there is nothing contemplative or holy about it unless I really want to think of Making Art (or getting femmed up to the nines) as a sacred or meditative activity (which it definitely can be, but frequently isn’t in my case). Some ideal days are spent curled up on the doubles-as-a-rocket-heater banquet (of my dreams), listening to Lee Harrington or Del Tashlin talk about faith and spirit and holy sexuality while working on my latest knitting/sewing project, or else practicing trance-work, doing divination, putting together custom talismans, all while the locally-ethically-raised shoulder roast braises in the oven, the bread rises on the counter (or possibly in the warming oven that is part of the banquet), the offering candles burn, and the summer rain (or winter snow) falls steadily outside. And some ideal days are spent scribbling thousands of words on my latest piece of fiction, interrupted only by the lightning strike of a poem here and there, while riding the fancy, first class train to the next destination on my Book Tour and my bank account grows fat (or at least “fed”) on regular royalties cheques and reading fees and, if I remember, I acknowledge how blessed I am to be living this life, doing what I do, doing what I love, and making a career of it, too.
What I’m saying is that (A) my ideal day isn’t just one day, and also contains more things than will actually fit into just one day… and also that (B) the devotional aspects of those ideal days, those idea devotions, aren’t often recognizable as Devotions outside of my own decision to treat them as such.
 
But… I feel better, for a given definition of “better” that isn’t necessarily a good definition (one where my increased sense of well-being is tied to a mix of “good doggie” feelings and a certain degree of not-exactly-self-righteous “orthopraxy” rather than to actual communion or connection, study or practice, or even just the anchor provided by taking the time centre and to ground).
 
So. How do I make the time?
 
By not hitting the snooze button
By keeping the computer off for longer (and possibly leaving a note on Social Media that I’ll be checking email less frequently for the time being)
By pushing past the self-consciousness that leaves me feeling silly or foolish for boiling water in the mornings
 
By getting my head right
By breathing in the moment (I know that sounds really Woo, and it is, but bear with me) and doing multiple little centerings through-out the day, rather than one big one at a specific time or place – like the years-old, often forgotten, decision to do 10 minutes of yoga (or similar) every day, because it’ll make me feel better if I do
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden

I is for Irises and Informality: Beltane 2014 – Pagan Blog Project 2014

This is another “two for one” post. Bear with me. Bare with me. 😉
It’s Beltane today. The Siberean Irises are coming up (thense my choice of post-title), the scilla, crocuses, and daffodils are already blooming, and the serviceberries and magnolias are about to burst into bloom, too.
As I wrote, earlier, I celebrated the turning of the year, the shift from Dark to Light, from roots to shoots-and-fruits,v Day by getting groceries for the first time in a month.
I know. Very exciting. 😉
 
I’m on my own tonight. And it’s kind of a relief. My lovely wife is spending the night with one of her other partners. I decided not to go to a friend’s weekly drop-in pot-luck (unsteady stomachs will do that to me). I’m not reading tarot cards – though I should, and it’s the right time of year for it (they’re ALL the right time of year for it).
 
Tomorrow night, my lovely wife and I will be hitting up a concert featuring Heather Dale and SJ Tucker – and that’ll be part of our Beltane. Fabulous Friday Dinner will be postponed until Saturday so that we can bus over to the concert venue once my lovely wife gets off work. Saturday – here’s hoping – we’ll get to see my brother and his girlfriend, and we’ll be spending the afternoon having a quiet and casual get-together doing crafts. That’s when I’ll do the Fabulous Dinner. That’s when I’ll throw the turkey (two turkey thighs, specifically) in the oven and steam the beets and the (frozen, almost a year old at this point) greens, and boil the potatoes. That’s when we’ll share a glass of red wine. That’s when we’ll have the time to connect. Maybe we’ll read each other’s tarot cards then. Or maybe we’ll wait until Monday, when we get together with a friend or three for our regular group ritual.
 
What I’m getting at, here, is that my observance of the Feast Days is somewhat informal when it comes to the dates of observance. Part of that, of course, is living in a culture whose acknowledged feast days (the stat holidays, to use a more secular term) are from a religion not my own. (At least not anymore). Trying to swing a Major Dinner when half the participants have to be at work the next morning and had to be at work today, too, is a little more difficult – even when I have the luxury of working from home and being able to prioritize things however I want (usually). Part of it is the realities of poly. Thursday is (frequently) Ghost’s night with her NPPP, just as one example. Our co-ritualist is out of town, visiting her Main Squeeze for the weekend.
So I’m flexible on the dates where we mark things.
 
Happy Beltane.
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Mainde.

X is for Xmas – Pagan Blog Project 2012

Yes, I know, I’m more than a year late. But I’m doing it.
“X is for Xmas”. Why would I choose “xmas” for a Pagan blog project.
Well, you can blame the CBC for this one.
A couple of days ago (possibly on a slow news day), they ran a spot on the radio about “Merry Christmas” versus “Happy Holidays”. Now, on the one hand, I understand why people who do celebrate Christmas in the “Jesus is Born” sense of the word would perhaps appreciate it if their holy day wasn’t so overwhelmingly coopted by consumerist crap. I can totally get behind that[1]. On the other hand, I’m a member of a religious community (or “umbrella-termed group”, more accurately) made up of numerous different small-population faiths, all of whom get lumped together under the heading of “Pagan” (there’s just over a quarter-million of us in Canada, as of the 2011 Census). For some of us, the month of December is no big deal but, for many of us (and many of you reading this, I’m sure), December means celebrating Winter Solstice with longest night vigils and returning light parties. The trappings of our temperate climate midwinter festivals – and for good reason – look a lot like the trappings that people outside of our faiths probably think of as “Xmas Stuff”.
Winter Solstice falls between the 20th and 22nd (or so) of December. Unlike the lunar-cyclic feasts (like Diwali[2] and Hanukkah), it doesn’t move around. It’s always right next to Christmas. Combine this with a population that, even now, is still largely comprised of converts and, frankly, most of those converts grew up with feasting, presents, music, and candle-light around this time of year, even if our parents called it something different.
For those reasons, I really apreciate “Happy Holidays”. If I answer someone’s friendly “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Solstice”, I really do get looked at like I’ve grown a second, rather ugly, head. “Happy Holidays” lets me wish people a wonderful season of light, regardless of which one they’re celelbrating, without either (A) guessing them wrong, (B) pretending I’m something I’m not, or (C) having to do a lot of explaining to get rid of those Weird Looks.
 
Works for me.
 
But that still doesn’t explain “Xmas”.
If you look at the tags, I have one for “secular holidays”. Primarily, the secular holiday in question is “xmas”. Well, let’s break it down:
On Solstice, I kiss my wife (it’s our aniversary on December 21st), feast my nearest and dearest, hand out presents to people I care about, fill my house with people, lit candles, and food, and light up my altars in thanks for abundance and good people in my life.
On xmas, I kiss my wife (’cause why ever not?), feast with my family of origin, or hers, or potentially both, hand out presents to people I care about, and help fill someone else’s house with people (and potentially lit candles, if I happen to bring some over). My relatives sometimes go to church (for Christmas), but I join them after.
 
Xmas is a place where I can meet my relatives in the middle, take part in my family’s “special day” without having to pretend to be something I’m not or have to do a lot of explaining.
 
So, there you go. 🙂
 

 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] And there are lots of ways for individuals who celebrate Christmas to shut out that consumerist crap – like staying out of the malls and turning off the TV. Focus on the people who are important to you, and on spending time with (rather than money on?) them. You know how that goes. 🙂
If you’re into the socially-acceptable-excuse-to-give-presents stuff (you would not be alone if you were), try doing DIY or all-second-hand goodies for everyone on your list, or opting to give entertaining-educational gifts like classes (belly-dancing, glass-blowing, cooking, sword-fighting…).
 
[2] Which falls on November’s New Moon.

Q is for Queer – Pagan Blog Project 2013

Pride kicks off today, so you’re getting “Q is for Queer”.
 
Once upon a time – and there are a number of different times, in the past forty or so years, if not longer, that one could choose from – “dyke” and “witch” were deeply intertwined. Both in the sense of “feminist lesbian separatism” (cue: women’s land, the we’moon collective, all those lesbians wearing Labrys and/or Goddess pendants in order to flag, a distressing degree of biological reductionism, etc) and in the sense of linguistic terminology meant to police women’s sexual/social behaviour (in which case, you can also throw “ho” – and possibly “spinster/frigid”, into the mix).
 
How does my queerness, my bi-dyke-nicity (if you will), play into my paganism? Other than having a goddess who is a dyke, I mean.
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P is for Piety – Pagan Blog Project 2013

Well, this couldn’t be easier.
 
Earlier this week, I reblogged a post for a survey of modern pagan and modern polythistic piety (go take part!). For this week’s PBP13 post, I figure that, since the letter’s right, I’ll just blog my answers to the survey questions.
 
In this case, I’m not going to blog all of the answers. There are questions I’ve left out, and questions where I’ve changed (hidden) a little bit of the information in order to protect some privacy.
 
 
~*~
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