Tag Archives: living religion

New Moon – Flower Moon Begins

White grape hyacinth blooming amid green crane's bill and last year's dry leaves

White grape hyacinth blooming amid green crane’s bill and last year’s dry leaves


 
The New Moon in Taurus brought summer weather with it. Hot sun on bare skin. Magnolias opening, but a week later, it’s cold again. Drizzly. Closer to five degrees than ten. The cold-weather crops (“crops”) that I sowed a week ago are sprouting and probably loving this weather. I have chickpeas (slooooowly) sprouting in a jar on the counter, but I’m huddled over my computer as I write this, looking out at the grey day and its Scotch Mist weather.
 
I have a Pinterest board where I put pictures that make me think “glamourous”. There are a vast number of women with horns among those images. Last night a memory tugged at my mind and I put “horn dance” into the search bar, and what I found was the oldest dance in England.
So now I’m thinking about how the Horn Dance – the one done in Abbots Bromley (Northern England, about 300km south of my families historical territories in Scotland) which is a solid thousand years old at this point – happens during the same time as the actual deer are rutting in the Fall (the few weeks on either side of Autumn Equinox, roughly), and how the dance is connected to the fertility of the fields. I’m thinking of Root Time and Leaf Time, the stag king and the wolf king – and since when do I think of “kings” at all, but here we are – and how they trade places at Samhain and Beltane, at first planting and last harvest.
I’m thinking about land-waking rights and how modern, city people (AKA: people like me) tend to think of “land waking” as a thing that happens in the Spring (AKA: right now) because the perennials are coming up again, the trees are leafing out, the geese are back and the robins are singing, and there are baby squirrels tearing about all over the place. I’m thinking about how Beltane is our sex holiday, but that – from a purely conception-related stand-point[1], so do what you wanna with that one – it kind of makes sense to have something similar in the Autumn, right around when you’d be planting new apple trees (or shallots and garlic, or larkspur and scilla for that matter) and feeding them up for the long sleep to come when they’ll get their roots in good and strong before their waking in Spring.
I’m thinking about Harvest – midway between Mabon and Samhain – and how much magic and ritual happens in that fucking dungeon. I’m thinking about the horned beast that lives in me, that came out to dance during one of those rituals, how the red thread of connection from that ritual is woven into the fetish shawl that I pin together with antler tips.
 
I’m thinking all this while my altar candles burn down and I huddle in my (recently washed – I’ve spent the past two days doing laundry) fuzzy bathrobe trying to stay warm, having turned the heat off in the house at the New Moon.
I have bread to make today (yeast bread, rather than sourdough, though I’ll be feeding my starter again), dishes to do, a lot of mending to work on – fixing a couple of sweaters, finishing a project that exists somewhere between a skater skirt and a cotton slip, seeing how many zippers I have lying around and whether or not I can put one in the side of a midi-length crinkle cotton skirt, or if I even need to do so (I might be able to do buttons and loops or something at the waist-band instead…) It’s a day for hot tea and having the oven on, for hiding out under a heap of cloth and keeping cozy.
 
Next World Tarot - PAST Three of Swords, Reversed - PRESENT Magician, Uprights - FUTURE Knight of Cups, Upright

Next World Tarot – PAST Three of Swords, Reversed – PRESENT Magician, Uprights – FUTURE Knight of Cups, Upright


 
For the New Moon in Taurus, I pulled three cards from Cristy C Road’s Next World Tarot. And then I wrote poetry about them, as one does. The short version is:
A past of heartache and a future of open-heartedness and, right now, a moment of change, of leveling up, of “from this moment onward, you have agency”. A claiming of my power and my potential.
A work in progress, obviously – I mean, it’s never “one and done”, right? But, if I’m reading this right, then I’m on the right track and should keep doing what I’m doing, and changing what I’m changing.
Fingers crossed!
 
~*~
 
Movement: Walking. Moon salutations. Went to the park and attempted to do pull-ups (and failed, utterly, but that’ll get better with time and practice).
 
Attention: Watching the weather. Watching the calendar (my girlfriend will be here in a week). Paying attention to my hips and lower back and how and when they ache and what helps. Watching the leaves come out and the flowers in the front yard start blooming (just barely) and the rhubarb start to get big and the lovage, for whether or not it’s taking its transplant well (seems to be).
 
Gratitude: It being warm enough (technically) to turn the heat off. Good relationships with my metamours. Fresh greens from the garden (dandelion, sorrel, crow garlic, nettles, lovage). Cucurbit seedlings from friends. A cupboard full of fabric and yarn for me to make things with. A fridge full of food. Hangouts with My People. A new bag of (parafin…) candles for the altar. Yoga poses that consistently open my hips and de-kink my lower back. My wife’s compersion. My girlfriend’s impending visit(!!!).
 
Inspiration: The garden. Household maintenance tasks (believe it or not). My romantic relationships. Queer communities and subcultures. Thousand-year-old dances. The Next World tarot deck. My hopes for the future.
 
Creation: I’ve written six poems in the past week, and have another one (barely) started, with notes for topics to explore in a bunch more, so Go Me.
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] A kiddo conceived around Mabon would be born right around Midsummer which, in these parts, is just about when the food gets really plentiful, and just a little bit before the real heat sets in and makes being heavily pregnant utter hell.

New Moon – Leaf Moon Begins

“Magnolia x veitchii bud at Brooklyn Botanic Garden” – Photo by Rhododendrites – Via Wiki Free Images – A twig, ending in a fuzzy, unopened magnolia bud in sharp focus, against a blurry background of vague greening.


 
I admit, I might be jumping the gun a little bit on “leaf” for a name of this lunar cycle, as the trees are very much still bare. BUT the earliest crocus and scilla are starting to poke their green sprouts above the soil and the grey-brown creeping charlie in my back yard is starting to re-green, so I’m going with it.
The compost was turned for the first time this year (by my wife) last weekend. The snow is disappearing at a rate that seems both rapid and sedate (meaning: the streets were never a disgusting slurry of melt-water and accumulated dog shit, thank you literally all the gods). The freeze-thaw-freeze-thaw of night and day, since Spring Equinox, has – I hope – been good for the maple syrup folks but, either way, it’s sap time – the once-a-year heartbeat of the world (systolic-diastolic, hemisphere to hemisphere, north-south, north-south[1]).
My wife asked me, yesterday, if I keep a garden journal and, yeah, I do. It’s this. So many things have been added to my lunar cycles posts since I started writing them in… 2011, I think? But they were initially a way to keep track of what the weather was doing and get a feel for what the seasons feel like in my bio-region. One more way of “getting to know the neighbours”.
I shuffled my wildwood deck and asked my Ladies of Earth and All Green Things how they were doing and if they had anything to say. The card that came up – and I do recognize that I have some say in this, which… I’m not sure how I feel about that right now – rather frequently was The Breath of Life.
Right now, the neighbours are waking up. A stretch. A yawn. A big breath in before the long out-breath of sprout and bloom and fruit and fall again.
Heh. I can’t help but smile a little at this, just because the folks who came up with the Wildwood deck in the first place think of Spring (Imbolg to Beltane, in their case, because they’re in Southern England) as the time of Arrows.
In my case, the waking up doesn’t happen until now and, like me, my Ladies may be stiff in the morning and need to thaw their joints out for a while. Still, I’m watching the back yard for the rhubarb, which should be sticking her head up above the soil, oh, probably right around Full Moon, if last year was anything to go by.
 
It’s early April. Which means I’m doing the eat from the larder challenge again – in my usual “milk and eggs are still fine” way – in an effort to clear out some freezer space and use up the vast quantities of jam and fruit butter I put up last year. So you can expect at least a few posts about fruit-butter Hippy Muffins and hummus seasoned with garlic, basil, and jam (no, really – just don’t use a LOT of jam). I’ve managed to successfully make two batches of tasty, structurally-sound sourdough bread which, while still in the realm of flukes and coincidence, bodes at least a little bit well for continuing in this vein.
 
Last full moon, I wrote about being on the hunt (again) for another anchor income. I’ve since had a few leads, and one “preliminary interview”, though we’ll see whether or not it comes to anything. Fingers crossed, because it would make a big difference to have that reliable cash coming in, even if there’d still be a fair bit of hustle going on, on top of it.
In poetry news: I spent last week at VERSeFest, getting inspired and scribbling drafts (hallelujah!), received a cheque in the mail for the publication of this poem, and – just this morning – signed the contributor contract for the pieces I wrote about here. It’s National Poetry Month, and I’m looking forward to writing many – probably mediocre, but drafting is still drafting – poems during the next few weeks.
I’m also looking forward to visiting some friends, just outside of town, this weekend, and am hoping to read, knit, and write some more poetry while I’m there.
 
Something I’ve recently started doing, which is relevant to the theme and scheduling of these posts, is Moon Salutations. It’s a series of yoga poses that focus primarily on (gentle) back-bends and hip-opener poses and, while I’m not scheduling them during my day to line up with moon rise, I am using them to take a couple of minutes in my day (usually morning) to both (a) help my lower back and hips unlock[2], and (b) spend some time intentionally thinking about and focusing my thoughts on my Lady of the Moon.
I figure I’m doing a lot of stuff that focuses on my Lady of the Sun – because she handles stuff like courage, money, and (most relevantly, in this instance) sex – with added, somewhat coincidental (sorry) links to my Lady of the Earth just because of all the root chakra stuff I’m doing, and I thought it might be a good idea to reach out to someone I feel like I’ve been kind of neglecting… for ever. Not right of me, you know? I want to do more to reach out to her. This is one way for me to do that, so I’m doing it. ❤
 
~*~
 
Scorpio Mystique says:

New Moon occurs on Friday morning, take time to set New Moon Intentions that allow you to embody Aries energy — let yourself be seen, take the lead, and be more self-confident. Where would you be six months from now if you had no fear?

 
…and suggests thinking about it specifically and making a concrete plan to get there.
She says “You’re the Phoenix, baby. You can go through hell and back, and still you rise, from your very own ashes, soaring higher than ever before”.
So. Where would I be in six months, if I had no fear?
Reading at the local launch of Hustling Verse. Launching my chapbook of lunar poetry through a local qaf small press. Possibly prepping to facilitate a panel discussion on sacred kink, deep play, and ordeal work? (Yeah, that one feels a lot more precarious).
What would I be? More economically stable. Physically stronger and more limber. More sexually curious, joyful, and confident.
 

Mary El Tarot - Knight of Discs - A child sits on the back of a lounging white tiger, under the shelter of a mature, leafing tree.

Mary El Tarot – Knight of Discs – A child sits on the back of a lounging white tiger, under the shelter of a mature, leafing tree.


 
The card I drew – by splitting the deck at random and seeing what was there – for today’s (this waxing moon’s) tarot meditation is the Knight of Earth. A card of slow and steady progress, of responsibility, and of getting one’s house in order – literally and figuratively. Maybe because it’s tax season, maybe because I’ve got a lot of personal projects on the go, maybe because the earth herself is slowly but surely waking up, maybe because Yes, Aries Season, but I know myself enough to know that slow, steady, consistent steps get me where I need to go more reliably than a flat-out sprint ever has… maybe for a lot of reasons: this card seems particularly apt today.
 
If I were to set an intention, with this card in mind, for this waxing Aries moon?
It would be to bloom like spring. Slowly and steadily, but surely. Inexorably, moving towards creation, vitality, sensuality, and abundance.
 
I invite the firy energy and passionate verve of Aries to light me up and fuel me for the long haul ahead
I invite the steady, determined energy of the Knight of Earth to walk me through these small, cumulative acts of transformation.
I invite myself to open and open, to let my deep red umbilical roots explore their way deeper in to the earth and draw up the strength, stability, and nourishment I need, to breathe in the breath of life and feed my own warm fires of creativity, connection, and courage, to lift myself from a steady base and rise.
 
~*~
 
Movement: Moon salutations and other yoga, very close to daily (almost but not quite). A number of modeling gigs that were heavy on short poses (meaning more emphasis on strength and flexibility rather than endurance, in terms of what my body needs in order to be able to do them). Long walks to and from work. I skipped the ecstatic dance party last night (I have been more physically worn out lately than I’ve been in, I think, a while… don’t know why), BUT there’s another one coming up just before the full moon which, health & body stuff permitting, I’ll get out to. A little bit of dancing to F+tM and Kesha in my hallway, which does my back and hips and heart lots of good.
 
Attention: Watching the green come back. Keeping an eye out for rhubarb shoots and impending magnolia blossoms. On a more inward-focused note, doing root chakra exercises that have a lot to do with mindful/attentive/intentional/focused breath and muscle relaxation. Holding my Lady in my mind’s eye when I do my Moon Salutations. Attending to my sourdough starter in a way that is slightly less lackadaisical than it has been in the past. Watching the birds and other critters in the back yard as they wake up, come back, or just hunt around for nesting materials now that the snow is going away.
 
Gratitude: SPRING! Temperatures above freezing! The greening of the world! Birds making nests! A turned compost heap! Sunshine that actually feels warm! A great conversation with my girlfriend! An impromptu fancy meal with my wife and her girlfriend last night! My food processor and yoghurt-enabled instant pot! The friend who gives me a friends-and-family deal on her family’s sugar-bush goodies! Paid poetry publications! A donated replacement recycling bin from a friend up the street! Someone buying me two books of poetry as a thank you for a reading I did half a decade ago! Making out with my wife! Amazing poetry shows! Flirting with my girlfriend via text! A pretty amazing present from a metamour! Hanging out with other poets! Job opportunities that actually fit with what I want to do! Successful sourdough bread! Parties and hangouts with friends! …It’s been an astonishingly awesome couple of weeks, kittens. ❤
 
Inspiration: TBH, actually the contents of my freezer and cupboards. It’s nice to be meal-planning again, even if it’s not a hard-and-fast plan. Also: Talking about ritual and kink with a friend over twitter, because that’s always awesome and inspiring.
 
Creation: I have written some poems! I have plans (to be enacted this afternoon) to write some more! Woohoo!
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] “That would have to be important. How fast did a forest’s heart beat? Once a year, maybe. Yes, that sounded about right. Out there the forest was waiting for the brighter sun and longer days that would pump a million gallons of sap several hundred feet into the sky in one great systolic thump too big and loud to be heard.”
― Terry Pratchett, Wyrd Sisters.
 
[2] The phsyio I do for my back effectively boils down to doing Plank on a frequent and regular basis, but some of the other exercises are meant to strengthen the muscles around my lumbar spine and yoga poses like Bow, Warrior 1, and Crescent Moon make a start at that as well. Between that and the hip-flexor stuff that goes on in the same poses, I find they’re helping – though I need to be careful with stuff like Bridge and Plow (good ones for Root Chakra work, and core strength, but also prone to exacerbating my back pain) – to loosen me up in the mornings and make it easier for me to both walk upright, and to sit at a computer for long periods of time. Woot!

Full Moon – Long Nights Moon Crests (Winter Solstice)

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

COLD – First Week of December

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


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

Full Moon – Frost Moon Crests

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

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


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

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


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

New Moon – Apple Moon Begins (New Moon in Leo, Partial Solar Eclipse)

Crab apples, Malus sp. - Photo by Jonathan Billinger - Via Wikimedia Commons

Crab apples, Malus sp. – Photo by Jonathan Billinger
Via Wikimedia Commons
Close-up of deep red crab apples, ready to be picked.


 
I may be jumping the gun a little here, but there have been ripe apples falling off the trees between here and the Redeau river for weeks, so even if the crab apples aren’t quite (quite) ready to be picked by the grocery-bag-full yet (I will be testing this theory tomorrow, while doing The Laundry across from a bunch of city trees, so we’ll see) I’m going to go ahead and call this one Apple Moon.
 
I pulled a LOT of quack grass (and some crab grass) out of the raised beds today. Also, gave the bolting mustard and icicle radishes a bit of a hair cut. I want the seeds, but I also want the volunteer cherry tomatoes and the kale (or is it collards?) and chard to have some breathing room and light access. So a lot of it is now drying (like hay? Ish?) on a bed of as-yet-unflowered new dandelion growth in the hopes that it dries down before I chuck it in my compost heap.
For my efforts, I managed to find one (1) beautifully ripe yellow cherry tomato and one (1) undersized striped zucchini. (I also harvested a very, very woody icicle radish which I slivered – along with shredding the more delicate greens – and added to my current batch of “wild” (ish) fermented veggies.
It’s a start.
 
The veggie ferment, btw, is now in the fridge. It was smelling Not Great – as in “smells like saurkraut is supposed to smell but… also with an over-layer of Ewwwwww” – and putting it in a cooler environment will help the Good Bacteria take over from the not-so-great bacteria in a timely fashion.
 
I’ve got four at-home days coming up, and my plans include doing laundry (finally!), harvesting crab apples and/or heirloom red-fleshed apples (hopefully! If successful: also making crab apple jelly and/or apple butter), setting up a new batch of yoghurt in the instant pot, and digging a lot of sunchokes out of the other raised bed (Thanks, helpful squirrels! I so appreciate the way you replanted literally ALL of those…) with an eye to pickling them in big chunks with some garlic, ginger, and mustard seeds. Maybe some bird chilies as well.
We’ll see how this actually goes though, as the week progresses. I’ve got poetry to submit, word-counts (novel) and further poetry to write, and a couple of things to mend as well, so. We’ll do what we can.
 
I’ve run into a bit of a problem with the yoghurt. I’m not sure if I’m trying to culture too much milk with only half a cup of starter, or if I’m not mixing the starter in well enough, or if I’m over-heating the milk initially, or if I’m waiting too long to transfer the yoghurt to the fridge (unlikely), but… I’m winding up with “thick milk + lumpy bits” rather than the relatively smooth, definitely cultured-all-the-way-through yoghurt that I was initially getting. I’ll take a look around the internet and see what’s what, but if anyone reading this is recognizing the problem and knows how to solve it, do feel free to leave me a comment on the subject.
 
My sourdough bread is… getting more like the kind of bread I want it to be. Which is a good sign. It’s still not as dry as I’d like it to be… I’m not sure if that means I need to cook it for longer, or let it rise in the fridge over night (my current suspicion is the latter), but things went relatively well the last time I made bread, and I didn’t use any “booster yeast” (1/2 tsp of bread yeast added to the initial sponge), so that’s a good sign.
 
My wife and I are going to visit the Twist Fiber Festival in Saint-André-Avellin next weekend. There will be demos. There will be a food tent. There will be art exhibits. There will be a “mini farm” (which… is that like a petting zoo? Or an animal expo? I have no idea, but I’m looking forward to finding out). There will also be vendors and pay-to-register workshops, which I will be avoiding because I have very little cash but a HUGE yarn stash (by my standards) AND access to youtube tutorials. But the plan is, in addition to taking a day-trip, to pick up some manure compost (and maybe some bagged mulch?) and cart it all home where it will sit and do nothing until the fall.
 
My wife and I were chatting about the garden this morning. About how the food forests that I day-dream about are honestly waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay beyond my current scope. My approach to gardening is mostly to ask “What grows here anyway?” and try to make the most of it, coupled with an attempt at planting things so heavily that the plants I want (like rainbow chard or “dazzling blue” flat-leaf kale or zucchini or winter squash or tomatoes, or, or, or…) overpower and shade out the plants I don’t (quack grass, crab grass… actually, that’s about it).
And that technique isn’t really working right now. So I’m starting (and ending up super out of breath… not a good sign) to weed my raised beds a little more intensively, in the hopes of preventing another wild-grass take-over of my food-growing spaces. Here’s hoping I manage to do some good.
 
Oh. I did, indeed, try mixing up a batch of rhubarb wine. Specifically, I took half a batch of my ginger beer, added 2C frozen diced rhubarb, and 1/2 tsp of bread yeast, plus some honey, and let it go for a couple of weeks. Just yesterday I racked it (sort of) and topped it up with a handful of chokecherries (that I mashed and pitted) plus honey, pomegranate molasses, some water, and 1/4 tsp more yeast. I figure I’ll let that sit for another week or so, and then rack it again and shove it into the back of the fridge to age (“age”) for a while. Based on the smell, I’m expecting something that tastes predominantly ginger-y but with lots of fruity undertones. Fingers crossed!
 
On the astrological front. It’s Leo Season. Everybody’s going “Look at me! Look at me!” on some level. Lammas, the first harvest, was a little over a week ago (or about two weeks ago, if you’re doing the lunar version), the nights are getting longer, though the days are still long (and hot), and Eclipse Season is in full swing.
The thing about quarter/cross-quarter days is that, because they happen roughly six weeks apart, they make for good points of reflection.
Liz Worth, who tends to talk about Eclipse Cycles – the multi-year dovetailing of eclipses that chase each other across any specific two signs at opposite points on the zodiac wheel (when the sun, and therefore the new moon, are in one sign, the full moon will be in the other) – recently brought up that Leo and Aquarius are both very creative signs, but that they’re creative in different ways. That Leo wants self-expression and the spotlight (freedom TO), but that Aquarius wants freedom FROM old habits/behaviours/rules that don’t apply or that hold them back. Maybe it’s no surprise that having eclipse energy (transformation a-go-go) in both of these signs, one of-which overlays Imbolg (a time of germination, stretching, hopefulness, and hidden/underground changes) and one that overlays Lammas (a time of reaping what you’ve sown, but also a time for sowing a second crop of short-season, cold-weather-loving seeds. In other words: Building new plans and projects in places where you’ve already seen some results), means feeling the push to make things (changes, projects, splashes) happen in your life.
 
What were you starting to work towards back in February? Now’s a good time to check in with where those projects are at. What kind of results have you been seeing? What do you need to turn under vs what do you need to tend better? What can you build from here-on-in before the Last Harvest at Samhain spins us back into the Root Time of resting and dreaming underground?
Liz suggests the intention/affirmation of “I am ready for my next step”, and offers a related tarot spread to figure out what that might be (it’s at the link, above).
 
Horoscope-wise: Jessica Lanyadoo, over at Hoodwitch, informs me that “There is strength in your willingness to move slowly and with intention, Scorpio”, and reminds me not to rush those changes unless I actually want to haul the same old garbage along with me into my next stages (which… not so much). On a related note, Chani offers this affirmation-scope: “What I am beginning now will grow over the next six months. I confidently pour my energy into what I want to bloom and become. I spend time developing the projects that most reflect my values.” Miriam, courtesy of Radical Tarot’s Tarotscopes, offers this bit of (awkwardly on-the-nose…) encouragement to Scorpios like me:

Oh Scorpio, it’s been a torrential few months. You seemed to be pulled back, dragged through the past, reminded of hurts and anger from several years removed. But even just the past few days have found you realizing that this was more a bow-and-arrow situation, necessary tension building to propel you further than ever before, quite specifically in the direction of hitting the mark where it comes to your passion. […] The magic is in your hands, and pushing past your need to pull away and be secretive will really allow all of this to spark, catch, and take blaze with truly dazzling effects!

 
Which I guess brings me to my Tarot Card Meditation:

The Lovers - Tarot of the Silicon Dawn (Egypt Urnash): Three colourful, femme sweethearts circle each other, laughing and playful together.

The Lovers – Tarot of the Silicon Dawn (Egypt Urnash)
Three colourful, femme sweethearts circle each other, laughing and playful together.


 
On top of being explicitly queer (both in the art and in the write-up), this is one of the most marvelously, deliberately polyamourous Lovers cards I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. I’m delighted to have drawn it for today’s meditation.
It is – as I’m finding a lot of these meditation random-draws are – remarkably relevant to current personal events, and also to that tarotscope from Miriam.
I pulled the card reversed – so this is about me and how I related to lovers-type situations. My relationship with my own desire. My relationship with my own sexuality. My ability to give myself permission to want, and ask for, and experience pleasure when there are other people involved.
I can’t help wondering how deeply this relates to the draw I did when Rampion Moon was full, about creatively engaging in my web of relationships by being willing to take some risks.
 
~*~
 
Movement: Hours of walking, some week-yanking (read: squating for 15 minutes at a time… urgh), but not much else. Plans for later this week to go apple picking in the neighbourhood and out near Mud Lake.
 
Attention: Totally absorbed by my friend’s recently-launched debut novel. Also paying attention to what veggies and fruits I can forage, harvest, and/or buy on-the-cheap-because-in-season. Brought home 3kg each zucchini and roma tomatoes, most-of-which will end up in the freezer, one way or another, for use in stews and pastas over winter.
 
Gratitude: Grateful for the rain that is still falling. For running water and a neighbour who lets me use her hose. Also grateful that said neighbour periodically hands us bags of snap beans or whole fuzzy melons from her much-more-prolific-than-ours garden. Grateful that I know what wild greens I can eat. Grateful for the apple trees that grow across from my laundromat. Grateful for upcoming work that has not been canceled (I had a bit of a scare last Friday but, while my next long-ish office booking has been shortened, I’m only losing two days, which is a BIG relief!). Grateful for a wife who loves me, and says so often. For a metamour who brings us corn on the cob and coconut oil and lends us her car so that her girlfriend (aka my wife) and I can go on day-trips together. Grateful for a second radish crop. For thriving rainbow chard (at last!). For my first home-grown zucchini EVAR and for the first tiny cherry tomato of my year.
 
Inspiration: The above-mentioned debut novel, and the woman who wrote it <3. A rejection letter from a paid market that was, none the less, very encouraging. My wife, who is quite the bad-ass and an astonishing wiz at fixing unfamiliar analogue machinery.
 
Creation: Making some progress on the spite-novel (aiming to make some more progress this Wednesday) and also on the knitted tank top. Made a batch of offering-candles today (beeswax + lard. We’ll see how they do). Plans to make some super-dangling rainbow earrings over the next few days as well.
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad.