Tag Archives: faith

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
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.
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. 🙂

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.
Continue reading

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.
Continue reading

F is for Fantasy (versus Reality) – Pagan Blog Project 2013

So as I try (in, granted, fits and starts) to get better at this Trance thing, better at this Energy Sensitivity thing, I second guess myself a lot. I read this post a while back, and it talked about it taking practice to be able to discern the difference between one’s usual mental playlist (for good or ill) and Someone Is Trying To Tell Me Something (insert Lassie reference here, if you will).
It’s true.
I know, when I’m doing divination, I have to work really hard not to project my own Inner Crap onto a reading.
When I talk to my gods and ask them for advice, I tend to ask them to be really, really obvious because I tend to be kind of dense.
I’ve done readings for myself that I’ve then turned around and asked other people to read for specifically to make sure I’m not reading my own wishful thinking (or worst-case scenarios) into the cards I’ve drawn.
I catch myself asking “Okay, did I really talk to a wild geranium, or did I just make up that who sequence?”
I get really suspicious when I’m hearing things that actually sound like what I want to happen/hear. Which sucks, because sometimes it means that I second guess the good stuff, too. :-\
Anyway. The joys of magic, spirit-badgering, and insecurities.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

D is for Devotions – Pagan Blog Project 2013

I’m writing this piece a few days early, mid-week while the snow floats gently down outside the window and the temperature fluctuates just enough to push it towards rain every now and then. (It’s that time of year).
I’m hoping to spend this Friday afternoon chatting with a friend about spiritual bdsm, sacred kink, and some experiences they had last summer and need to talk through with someone who wasn’t there. If this happens, I’ll talk about it (not the content, but the activity of Discussion) in my next D prompt.
Today though, writing this week’s PBP13 post, I’m inclined to use this post as a spring board for my own writing.
Dver talks about something that I can relate to a lot. I get distracted – have a week of modeling, have meetings at awkward times on a given Friday, have guests – little things that, honestly, can be really easily worked around (totally NOT crises), and I put off my offerings for a day, or two days, or a week, …or a month… or…
You get the picture.
I’ve talked about this before with regards to my boiling water offerings. I get self-conscious about doing that particular devotion – because it’s so clearly what it is (I suspect this is part of why she wanted it in the first place, but then again I may not have needed to throw in all the recognitions and what-not that I do when I do this thing) – and so I try to hide it from other humans (even my wife, who knows all about it and, hey, delivered the message to begin with) because I feel all WEIRD about it.
Right now, I’m offering candles[1] to my People every week (which is handy because I don’t feel all WEIRD about that – candles are just candles to, say, any company that I have coming over – Once they’re lit, I can just let them do their thing and get on with conversations or what-have-you).
I was late this past weekend – offering them on Sunday rather than Friday – and I felt it. Antsy and anxious, really uncomfortable. And then I got it done on Sunday and immediately felt better.
I mean, yeah, maybe it was smoking the house with myrrh that cleared out the emotional clutter, but… I keep reading these blog entries (not that I can find any of them right now, of course . Oh, wait, here’s one from Del) talking about how, when a spirit worker says “Then [my Person] told me to do X” they were (usually) actually dealing with a somewhat involved process of navigating intuition, FEELINGS, hunches, fascinations, and nagging thoughts at the back of their mind[2].
So, with that in mind, I’m inclined to think that [getting the offering done] and [feeling noticeably and immediately better about everything] were… probably related. I don’t know if that feeling was my gods (one or all of them) going “Ahhh, finally” or if I just wasn’t feeling like a douche about it anymore but, either way. There you go.
How this relates to devotions.
I just (at the time of this writing) did a boiling water offering. Because, hey look, I totally let that one go and maybe that was a bad idea. I mean, nothing’s been going wrong (YAY!), and everyone seems to be enjoying the candles that I’m handing out, but…
Look, giving someone good cheese is lovely. Giving someone good cheese when they made a point of telling you they really like fancy tea is… still lovely, but you’re also ignoring the informtion they gave you about Stuff They Like, which… why would you do that?
So I did water today.
On the subject of letting your devotions lapse, Dver says:
[…Your] sense of closeness with the gods will weaken the longer you starve it. And then it becomes a self-perpetuating cycle – you feel bad or guilty or empty so you shy away from approaching Them, and that absence (you from Them, not Them from you) only serves to make the bad feelings worse as time goes on.
And can I ever relate to THAT! She says that each step you take towards climbing out of your pit – particularly the first one – will make each subsequent step that much easier. I need to remember that. Every time I shrug and say “I’ll do it in an hour” or “Crap, my ride will be here in ten minutes and I don’t want anything burning while I’m gone”; every time I don’t do yoga or otherwise move my body; every time I don’t write down these bits and pieces of my journey; I need to remember: Take the next step. Don’t fall into the pit.
Maybe this post hasn’t made a tonne of sense. But I’m going with it.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] This week, due to my being late, I actually set little energetic flames in all the candle dishes. I’m thinking they might still be there – or at least still have been there when I set the real candles alight the next day, because wow did those candles ever burn way faster than usual. O.O I could be wrong, but… thoughts?
[2] Sometimes, not so much. See: Boiling Water Offerings and my Mattaer going to Ghost and straight up telling her “Hello, I’m from the kitchen. Tell her I want boiling water”.

“Doing the Work” – some thoughts on a post

So there’s This Post – put up by Del, over at Sex, Gods, and Rock Stars[1] – talking about what “doing the Work” actually means.
It’s a good post.
I like how Del breaks it down, talking about how “Work” means preparing yourself physically and habitually, and doing maintenance on your body, mind, education, religious practice, and community ties.
This matters. It’s a good and simply-put reminder to, well, to not put the cart before the horse, essentially.
I need to remember to go slowly. To maintain and support:
– My altars (with weekly candle offerings, the occasional bit of dusting, and a few other things) and, thus, my relationship with my gods and ancestors (and the various other spirits in the house).
– My community ties (organize a monthly salon, yeah, but also go to the leather brunch, or the kinky queer women’s get together, or the femme pool night, or the mosh, or what-have-you. Help people move. Go to birthday parties. Feed people who need a good meal. Offer a workshop on… something. I may need to figure that one out. 😉
– My body (by eating Real Food, by getting to bed before midnight, by actually moving my body around in significant ways on a regular basis (modeling, walking, yoga), by investing in a sun-lamp, my giving my toenails a chance to breathe without being covered in polish).
I have to remember to do all those things, to make them habitual and normal and part of my routine, before I can start adding to that routine by stepping up what I’m up to in terms of spiritual/religious practice/activity (let alone services).
Which doesn’t mean I can’t keep practicing the exercises in Trance-Portation. It just means that I have to do the other stuff as well. 🙂
Meliad the Birch Maiden. 🙂

[1] A blog which, given my interest in sacred kink, is probably one I should be reading on the regular.

S is for Sacred Sexuality – Pagan Blog Project 2012

Okay. Strictly speaking the concept of sex – in the sense of both body and desire – as holy is rooted pretty deeply in neo-paganism, whether we’re talking about Wicca’s Uncle Gerald, goddess spiritualists’ refusal to accept the shame-and-blame that rape culture heaps on women, or posts like this one by hedge-rider Foxfetch.
But when I talk about Sacred Sexuality – when I talk about sacred kink, when I hunt up podcasts that talk about how “holy sexuality doesn’t have to smell like three-kings incense”, when I read Ecstasy Is Necessary or Urban Tantra and treat them as stepping stones on my own path – I’m going (I think) a little further than that.
It isn’t just that my body and my wife’s body are holy flesh. It isn’t just that a lot of the life of this planet – life that we hold holy because our gods are in and of them, are touchable – is created through sex, so sex is (or can be) a holy act of creation. It isn’t just Thou art Goddess or All Acts of Love and Pleasure are My Rituals.
It’s that I can write pornography that is also an act of magic. It’s that I can use the tools of pain, bondage, even fear to create a ritual that helps connect you to your gods or helps you meet, understand, and know your own demons[1]. It’s knowing that prostitution can be a holy profession but understanding that sexworkers don’t need a mantle of holiness in order to justify their career choices. It’s finding tribe, and facilitating Woo, in your leather community[2]; it’s finding a holy calling in O/p or using techniques found in Tantric sex to get yourself into trance for non-sexual rituals or acts. It’s chasing ecstasy as simultaneously a way to reconnect, get vulnerable in a safe way, with someone – or many someones – who matter to you and as a really fun way to spend an afternoon; and recognizing that sex that isn’t, or sex that can’t be, for making babies… is still holy. It’s getting it that The Sacred Feminine can be a cis man in fishnets, glitter, and fairy wings; can be the Venus of Willendorf with a walker and an insulin pump; can come carrying the twin hammers of cobbler and carpenter in her hands; is way more complicated than Maiden-Mother-Crone would have you believe; can look like Leeta, but isn’t required to. It’s recognizing that divine masculinity can be 200 pounds of butch woman in hiking boots, can be slender and bespectacled, can be the surrendering grain at harvest time; can look like Conan – complete with chest harness and gym body – but simultaneously be gay or trans or a ballet dancer or a poet, or otherwise upset the expectation of what a Conan-looking-guy is supposed to be. It’s knowing that “god” doesn’t have to be masculine, that “goddess” doesn’t have to be feminine, or even human-shaped, to bear that title.
It’s a whole lot of complex, layered things.
I want to know more.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
[1] Okay. Maybe I can’t. At least not right this minute. But other people can, and it’s something I want to learn how to do. I don’t doubt that it’s going to be a long road, but it’s… talking to me. I’m paying attention.
[2] Those who are absent, those who are gone. The gathering of the tribe. Femme-ily.