Tag Archives: living religion

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

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

New Moon – Honey/Rose Moon Begins

“Honey bee approaching a dandelion” – photo by Kreuzschnabel via Wiki Free Images – A hhoney bee, dusted with pollen, approaches a dandelion blossom.


 
Technically there are three harvest-times for honey – in Ontario, anyway. The first is happening right about now. (The second, for those who are wondering, happens around Lammas – for darker honey from goldenrod and fruit blossoms – and the third happens just before Samhain and is when you harvest honey from late-blooming asters and stuff like buckwheat). So I’m calling this the “honey moon”, even though the roses have – just barely – started blooming in the neihbourhood and should be busting out all over the place before Summer Solstice hits.
 
My land-lady’s husband came by this morning and mowed the “lawn” – which, alas, included the tops of most of my yellow seed-mustard plants AND the tops of 2/3 of my ground cherries. I need to put in some kind of a fence or something so that (a) the ground ivy can’t get in and do it’s job (preventing soil erosion) while also disguising my food plants as a weedy patch, and also (b) so that my food plants are properly fenced off from the dandelions and ground ivy that cover the rest of the yard and, ideally, protected by said fence from the whipper snipper.
I’m not hugely worried – it’s early yet – but I would like it if I actually got some fruit off the ground cherries…
 
There are some significant changes happening on the home-front right now. My lovely wife has moved into a new shop space (above ground, and considerably less expensive) which is taking a lot of pressure off me, money-wise (thank you, all the gods) and I’m looking at taking a step further along one of my many career paths, and have an interview to that end coming up next week. It may or may not get me anywhere, but it’s worth a shot and I think it could be good for me in more ways than one.
 
Tarot of the Silicon Dawn - Maya, Queen of Fire, White Galaxy Rose, Queen of Earth

Tarot of the Silicon Dawn – Maya, Queen of Fire, White Galaxy Rose, Queen of Earth.


With all this in mind, I decided to do Liz Worth’s suggested tarot spread for folks wanting to connect with the Gemini New Moon:
1. What am I learning at this time?
2. What am I teaching at this time?
3. What am I overthinking at this time?
4. What am I becoming at this time?
 
As is my somewhat lazy tendency, I didn’t so much shuffle the deck as cut it at random to get my first three cards. My fourth card is a jumper which… that’s a nice card to have jump out of the deck at you, I don’t mind saying.
 
What am I learning at this time: Maya / 8½ – one of the Silicon Dawn’s “bonus” cards, and all I could think when I saw it was “Accurate…” Maya is a dominant babe with a couple of submissive playmates, which… . Described as the child of the High Priestess and the Devil, Maya is your own wildness, your willingness to prioritize your own pleasure over whatever Shoulds are squirreling around in your head, your willingness to go on an adventure, your sense of play. It’s an explicitly sexual card that asks you specifically to loosen up in order to get what you want. This is very-much in line with what I’m doing, both in terms of glamoury and in terms of my Empress and Notice Pleasure projects.
 
What am I teaching at this time: Ace of Fire – I… am not sure what to make of this. Like, it’s a wonderful card to pull. Very driven. Very passionate. It’s a card about spiritual growth (believe it or not) and energetic potential. It’s a card about cultivating confidence, optimism, and curiosity. It’s about daring to take risks, expressing yourself, and inspiring others. Egypt Urnash’s own write-up for this card asks “How do you want to transform yourself today” and its explicitly femme rendering of a dancer in the flames, of the destruction that precedes rebirth, reminds me a LOT of the Judgement card from the Mary El deck, of “YOU are the thing that’s burning”. In-so-far as I’m trying to re-learn how to burn, how to literally run energy through my body the way I used to do without even knowing I was doing it, how to re-program the energetic pathways in my own brain, I’m also trying to teach myself to do this. But am I teaching this stuff to anyone else? Kids, I have no idea.
 
What am I overthinking at this time: White Galaxy Rose – This is another one of the “bonus” cards in the Silicon Dawn deck. I tend to think of these cards – the black and the white galaxy roses – as being Maya’s two playmates. I also tend to think of them as two ways of looking at infinite potential (and, as such, they’re linked to the Ace of Fire, above, and also to the Magician card). The black rose, I tend to understand as “the beginning of everything”, whereas the white one? It’s very “I have no idea what’s going to happen next. It could be anything”. There’s a certain amount of “flying – or maybe creating the cosmos – by the seat of your pants”. That said, thanks to the power of search engines, I found Egypt Urnash’s old LJ, of all things, and she had this to say:

For me, they mostly seem to come up if I’m asking the deck a yes/no question. The black one is NO, the white one is YES. More precisely the black one seems to be DUDE NO, JUST NO, WHY ARE YOU EVEN ASKING ME THIS, YOU TOTALLY KNOW IT’S A NO, and the white one is WELL DUH YES? WHY DID YOU EVEN THINK IT MIGHT BE OTHERWISE?

So… I’m overthinking my YES?
That’s… not unlikely, actually. I do that a lot. Second-guessing myself, questioning if I really want what I want… okay, cards. Duly noted. Will try to be like September and say YES more often.
 
What am I becoming at this time: Queen of Earth – This was the card that jumped out of the deck. Solid, sure of herself, openhearted, “fecund and generous” as Egypt Urnash describes her. She has lots of resources (social connections, financial means, a full larder and a spare bedroom) at her disposal, and is materially & financially secure enough both to share, and revel in, her own abundance. Trustworthy, caring, warm, and reliable, she’s also able to both make good decisions from a place of surety and security (rather than scarcity) and to luxuriate in creature comforts. She heralds abundance and joy. Ye sweet, beloved gods, YES. This is what I want to be becoming.
 
~*~
 

Tarot of the Silicon Dawn - Three of Fire (Inward-Facing)

Tarot of the Silicon Dawn – Three of Fire (Inward-Facing) – Two kiddos under a tree, watching the lights.


 
So! If I take all of the above, how does it relate to the card I drew (same method) for my tarot card meditation? The card I drew was the Three of Fire which, in the Silicon Dawn deck is the three of pentacles, which she calls “Creation” and describes like this:
 

“Will is in harmony with the world. Here is what you can make, if you dare. All of this is yours. […] Our creation is done; now is the time for you to go play in it.”
[…] Spring comes to all of that vastness at once, and here it is – flowers blossom, bees buzz, and it’s time to get started doing something. So: Go make something to equal the artifact you live in. Dream big and get started.

 
Well. Spring it is, and that couldn’t be clearer.
Wish me luck.
 
~*~
 
Movement: Moon Salutations. Lots of walking. A certain amount of desk-dancing while I write this, wich plans to go Actual Dancing this Saturday night.
 
Attention: Watching this chest congestion like a hawk, because I do NOT want to get sick (at least not for another week – at which point I’ll have the better part of ten days to get myself healthy again, and I’ll deal if that happens). How I catch myself and pull back in situations where I’m about to make a connection (with another person, human or otherwise)… it’s… something to think about, notice, and probably one of the many instances where I’m pulling back from a YES that I do, actually, want to offer. So… Thinky-thinky.
 
Gratitude: A writing date with a friend. My wife’s new shop space and the financial flexibility that’ll give us. My upcoming interview. Continued modeling work. A garden that’s full of radish and mustard greens and, incidentally, a tonne of ground ivy that I can steep into a tea to combat bronchitis. The smell of crab apple and lilac blossoms in the air. Time to take good care of myself when I’m feeling under the weather. Running into a friend while doing groceries. Flirty interactions with my sweethearts. A wife and a girlfriend who love me.
 
Inspiration: Pulling tarot cards for poetry inspo. Listening to my girlfriend’s stories about her religious experiences as I reach out to my own gods.
 
Creation: Most recently? Two (very long) poems, that need whittling down, but are a good place to start.

Full Moon – Flower Moon Crests (and Wanes)

Pear blossoms in bloom. White flowers, green leaves, red brick in the background

Pear blossoms in bloom. White flowers, green leaves, red brick in the background


 
It’s drizzly again, but humid now. The temperature is higher. The tulips, daffodils, and cherries are blooming, and the crab apples and pears – as seen in the above photo – have opened up as well. The service berries have pretty-much finished their flowering. Even the rhubarb is starting to flower. We are deep in Beauty Season already.
It’s lovely out.
Even with the drizzle.
I’ve spent the day watering the garden (possibly unnecessarily) and getting the house back in order after a spending a week with my visiting girlfriend (who left me with copies of Hild – a historical novel set in 7th Century proto-England which includes some really solid research into, and depictions of, early-medieval English life with regards to food and textiles, and the work involved in making same – and Ritual Sex, which is a book of essays and stories, by various authors, about pretty-much what it says on the tin. My wheelhouses, let me show you them).
 
I finished the cotton skirt (which has a draw-string and no zipper required). I still have a dozen things to mend or alter or create from whole cloth (literally), but I’m a little bit closer to what I want my “summer wardrobe” to look like (shrugs and boleros, flowy maxi skirts, cute sun dresses, and fitted tank tops, maybe the odd shawl, as needed).
I’m thinking about glamour – as in the active practice of doing personal authenticity in a way that is also fascinating to others – and about how I want to present myself when I’m out in the world.
 
A long time ago, I was 30lbs under weight[1] due to stress, recently separated and in the midst of an actually very easy divorce, and trying to figure out how the heck I wanted to dress myself when I’d spent the last seven years working in a retail environment where we were expected to wear what we sold, and where the clientele was about 30 years my senior and employed full-time by the government. I was trying to figure out how to dress myself, yes. But I was also trying to figure out what I wanted people to see when they looked at me. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to be “as a grown up”, when “grown up” had rather suddenly stopped meaning “suburban home-ownership + husband + hypothetical impending children”. I feel like I’ve been trying to sort that out for the past 12 years.
 
More recently – as in this past week – I’ve been “on vacation” living an on-going power exchange with my girlfriend in a way that’s really only possible when you’re on vacation (as in: in the same city, yeah, but more importantly: enjoying limited stress, deliberately limited distractions, tonnes of sleep, and abundant time for long walks by the river or otherwise going on dates). Under these circumstances, it’s easier to dress with clearly-defined intent, focus deeply on your Other Person, and to both plan, and follow through on, shared activities.
Whether the “vacation” in question is a once-a-season get-together with a loved one, or a once-a-year cheap fare to an all-inclusive beach locale or a saved-up-for major subcultural event, it’s a situation where glamour is easy. As Ms Sugar might put it, vacation, like Pinterest, is seductive “because everything is beautiful and nothing hurts there”.
 
So I find myself asking: How do I bring that glamour – that focused intention, that follow-through, that action of being interesting and interested – to my day-to-day life? How, too, do I invite that attention and sensuality in as well?
 
Next World Tarot - Two of Wands - A Black femme in a blue skirt and a leopard print top, with close-cut hair, holds a mace in her left hand and regards the reader through cat-eye glasses.

Next World Tarot – Two of Wands – A Black femme in a blue skirt and a leopard print top, with close-cut hair, holds a mace in her left hand and regards the reader through cat-eye glasses.


 
This conveniently relates to my Tarot Meditation card, which is a reminder that I have power here, and can make choices that will help make these things happen.
I initially drew this card from the Silicon Dawn deck, where it’s called “Will” (the two of pentacles) and is described by the artist as something like “The confidence to dance with the lightning” and the balancing of the ever-moving energies that one exists between. (Egypt Urnash also says, in her write-up of this card, “If you’re asking whether you should have some kind of tantric ceremony soon, the answer is ‘Yes'”, so… relevant to my interests, tbh).
 
I generally understand the Two of Fire – regardless of how the suit is named – as a card about “Make a Decision”. A card about setting your intention and then putting in the work – and the Will – to follow-through and go get it.
I see this reflected in the way Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha describes this card, as it appears in the Next World Tarot (the image is a portrait of a specific person), in their piece “3 crazy queens” (in Tonguebreaker”):

She stands there, asking you What is your deepest truth and desire, your deepest wound to heal? Only facing those things in a world on fire will give you what you need to live.

 
If I look at this card in the context of the “present” situation in the three-card draw I did at New Moon (and, yes, the moon is waning right now, but I’m still working with this), I have to ask myself:
In the face of infinite potential, what choices am I making that will point me towards that open-hearted future I want so much? Where can I say “Yes” more? Where can I choose the lens of curiosity and adventure over the lens of anxiety and catastrophizing?
Reader? There are definitely some situations in my life where this choice is very obviously before me, and I will try to say “Yes” and be adventurous.
Wish me luck!
 
~*~
 
Movement: Walking all over town. Moon Salutations. Weeding the garden. Modeling gigs with short poses.
 
Attention: What information is coming my way? Where can I see opportunities arising? How did those squash seedlings wind up sprouting in the compost? (Okay, I strongly suspect the squirrels for that one…)
 
Gratitude: Grateful for partners who love me and think the best of each other. For friends who show up when one of us needs help with groceries. For hot, humid weather (even if there’s not a lot of it, yet). For modeling work. For fresh bread from the oven. For squirrels who, apparently, think the compost heap is an excellent place to bury purloined squash seeds (I actually agree with them on this, thence the gratitude). For books from the library and gifted books from my sweetie. For being able to being able to be in the same room with my girlfriend for a whole week, after months of being apart. For my wife, who gave us the space to do so, and who was happy to come home to me. For my family.
 
Inspiration: Patrick Califia’s “Shiny Sharp Things” essay in Ritual Sex.
 
Creation: I’m mid-way through altering a turquoise leather jacket (the plan is to do the sewing over the weekend, as I’ll be hanging out with my lovely wife as she sews back patches and similar at the Ride For Dad after-party and will, thus, have access to her sewing machine, contact cement, and leather-compatible needles. Also wrote up a new recipe for Rhubarb-Banana muffins, which I’m testing out (they’re baking right now) today.
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Let’s just say I have a pretty solid idea of what my bones and organs weigh because there really wasn’t much else left of me at that point.

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.