Tag Archives: living religion

New Moon – Thunder Moon Begins

A grey sky full of heavy clouds hangs over the equally grey Rideau River. Photo by Leslie Mateus, via Wiki Free Images

A grey sky full of heavy clouds hangs over the equally grey Rideau River. Photo by Leslie Mateus, via Wiki Free Images


 
We live so much closer to the river now, and it is making a BIG difference in terms of how much rain we’re getting.
I’ve spent so many of the past summers watching the heavy clouds and hoping they’ll bring rain to my garden only to drag the hose or the watering can out (and out, and out) in the evening to give my plants enough of a drink to keep going.
Here, we actually get rain.
Or are, so far.
Thunder rumbling directly overhead. Sheet lightning. And, yes, thankfully, the heavy, steady rains that are giving my chard and zucchini (which are just, just starting to have fruit-flowers!) a chance to thrive. Mostly in the hours just before dawn, which is the perfect time for them.
I’m so delighted and so very glad they’re here.
I hope they keep it up through August.
 
This new moon is, appropriately given all the water, in Cancer (the second New Moon in Cancer of the summer, the first one having happened right around Summer Solstice and having involved an eclipse). So I find myself looking back to where I was when the Full moon was in Cancer, just a few days before Imbolg, or about six months ago (and which was an Experience, let me tell you).
Six months ago, I was pushing myself to go a little harder, and a little deeper, magic-wise. I was reaching out to my Godself, actively, for the first time and enjoying the experience of going to “church” with my girlfriend (something we’ve been able to keep doing, since this Horrible Situation has meant that her temple collective is doing their rituals over the internet now).
Now here I am, another half-turn around the wheel, and – having got through this move (even if we are still unpacking and likely will be for the next… ever) – I find myself dipping my feet back in, getting back into practice, and starting (every day, just starting) to, once again, try to Use My Voice to work my will in large and small applications.
If I look back to the last New Moon, when Rose Moon was just starting to swell, I see that I did three rituals in as many days and, while I haven’t kept up that pace (sorry), I did have a really marvelous experience, in a somewhat impromptu fashion, as Rose Moon was cresting. I did (finally) get my printer set up with the goal of doing some sigil-and-candles magic in the very-near future, and I did (finally) made my Bread Offering to all and sundry earlier today.
I’ve been keeping up with my Moon Salutations – and making a point of focusing on and reaching for conneciton with My Lady of Music and the Moon while I’m doing it, and I was able to take in the Connect DC “Dark Moon Message” last night.
 
That was, in itself, an interesting and thought-provoking listen. I’m glad I was able to attend. Katrina talked about air-fire-water-earth as theory, praxis, ritual, and – doesn’t it just figure that I’d forget the word – “the small, daily actions that collectively mean you’re walking your talk”.
As I’ve said something like a zillion times before, I know myself well enough to know that I totally get stuck in the “theory” part. “When in doubt? RESEARCH!” But research, on its own, doesn’t get things done. It doesn’t change your habits and it avoids the risks inherent in actual growth. So having another model (theory – yeah, yeah) of how to NOT get stuck in the theory, is helpful.
I think it’s interesting that a wattery tart like me can look at the land-sea-sky of theory, ritual, and day-to-day concrete actions, and be like “Yeah, obviously” but, when faced with the concept of Praxis… is just like:
 
Confused and uncertain white lady superimposed with math

Confused and uncertain white lady superimposed with math


 
I mean, in the context of The Great Work (if you want to call it that) of boiling off your personal drosse, sure. The “praxis/fire” part is astral work, ordeal work, Will work, and spell-craft. That much I got.
But what else is it?
Something to talk shop about with my girlfriend, I suspect.
 
A mo(o)nth ago, I asked “What Is My Work” and got the answer “Learn through celebration, curiosity, and play. Make deep, loving connections and build family in all directions. Love and play are holy.” (Which I was NOT expecting).
Now here I am, on this second New Moon in Cancer, asking – as Liz Worth suggests – how to build a commitment to that Work.
Earlier today I posted (elsewhere) some thoughts about My Most Empowered Self, thinking in terms of how my fully-integrated triple-self (Godself, Talking Self, and Fetch, all working/playing/thriving together) can come through in my D/s relationships.l And I wrote, briefly, about how My Most Empowered Self is sensual, playful, and joyful.
So I ask myself:
If my Work is to learn through celebration, curiosity, and play, and to build and tend my deep, loving connections, how does that fit into theory, praxis, ritual, and daily action?
Two weeks ago, Chani reminded us Scorpios to attend to our daily rituals because it’s through those spiritual connections that our growth and change will happen. This New Moon, though, she’s reminding us all that change doesn’t come with out putting in the hours, taking the time to unlearn our (personal and societal) crap, and build some solid new habits and behaviours in their place. She offers this affirmation to us Scorpios:

With this New Moon, I seek out the teachers that have found processes that are worth the work they take. I replicate what has worked, innovate what’s out of date, and adjust my expectations from needing immediate gratification to wanting to honor the lineages that seek out collective healing.

 
The theory is a mix of going down rabbit holes that catch my attention, letting myself read all about adding more “Ing” to my life (I guess I’ll find out?), shop-talking, learning new things just because they’re fun.
The praxis is (maybe?) reaching inwards to commune with Fetch, nurture my relationship with her, and help her grow into her fullest Fetchy self… And to give her things that are fun and let her push her (my, our) body in real time (like dancing in my concrete-floored basement, going for a splash in the river, or eating mulberries fresh off the trees). It’s doing sigil magic to bolster and strengthen community ties.
The ritual is a big one here. Not just reaching for my gods and Selves and ancestors through my religious practices (although that too!), but building and maintaining friendships and familyships during a time when getting together for a potluck is less possible. It’s doing the mindfulness exercises, the Moon Salutations, and the emotional (and physical) self-maintenance that let me Show Up for my people. It’s the egregors and the “I’ve been thinking of that, too” conversations that are communion at our tiny hearths in the ether and on the internet.
Which, fairly obviously, flows into the more concrete, day-to-day actions of moving my body, making and sharing art, talking shop, commiserating, checking in, and sharing food that actually make loving, joyful connections lasting and even possible.
Okay.
If this is my Work, then let it be my Work.
 
~*~
 

Osho Zen Tarot - Courage (8 of MA, also known as Strength). A daisy has pushed its way up through the concrete and is blooming, blooming, blooming

Osho Zen Tarot – Courage (8 of MA, also known as Strength). A daisy has pushed its way up through the concrete and is blooming, blooming, blooming


 
For my tarot card meditation for this new-and-waxing moon, I pulled my birth card.
Strength is so often depicted as a calm woman sharing trust with a ferocious beast. I can see myself in that – as both the calm focus and the snarling menace. I can see the balance I need to cultivate in myself. But this classic image is also one where “strength” is not the same as “brute force”. Where dominance – if I can allude to that same D/s post of earlier today – doesn’t require the use of the imperative tense. That there is strength in vulnerability.
The image in the Osho Zen deck, however, is of “strength” being the courage to do what’s difficult. The willingness to take the risk of blooming and being seen (per Anaïs Nin, as it happens).
I’ll try to keep this “strength through vulnerability” in mind over the next two weeks.
 
~*~
 
Movement: Moon salutations, walks through the neighbourhood, a tiny bit of resistance training.
 
Attention: Paying attention to… honestly, mundane and necessary things like “what needs to be eaten in the fridge” and “when does my next bill need to be paid” and “what is next on my to-do list”. But also paying attention to the heaviness of the clouds, and getting myself re-oriented as to where the F the cardinal directions are relative to my new house. (Hint: I am sooooo disoriented right now, I keeping thinking North is literally South…)
 
Gratitude: Grateful for long snuggles with my wife. For video dates with my girlfriend. For a CSA that is almost entirely paid for (and will keep feeding us until late October, not counting all the stuff I’m putting in the freezer). Grateful for friends who bring me raspberry canes and leave seeds on my back steps. Grateful for long talks and quiet evenings. Grateful for bread that seems to be happily rising these past few batches. Grateful for monarch butterfly eggs on our milkweed plants. Grateful for being so close to the river. Grateful for motorcycle rides. Grateful for a back that didn’t hurt as much this morning. Grateful for cool breezes in this hot, hot humidity. Grateful for new sandals. Grateful for a functioning vacuum cleaner. Grateful for a full pantry. Grateful for friends who send me stories. Grateful for this lovely new place to live. Grateful for hugs and kisses and love-letters and time with my People.
 
Inspiration: The poetry of other femmes, the way my garden is settling in and starting to thrive.
 
Creation: I have been writing glosas for my Femme Glosa Project with a solid degree of consistency. Still fretting that the end result is going to be a lot of repetition, but I’m hopeful that I’ll have more than three-to-five things to talk about, so. Have also done a bit of tailoring on a skirt and have started Phase Two of a cropped ballerina cardigan that I’m “up-cycling” from a parrot-bitten cotton item that I haven’t wanted to wear as-is for a long, long while.

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

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


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

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


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

Asking the Earth What She Needs

The Empress - Mary El Tarot - A red-haired person in a long green dress, with a baby tied to their back, stands under a mature tree, holding a basket of fruit

The Empress – Mary El Tarot – A red-haired person in a long green dress, with a baby tied to their back, stands under a mature tree, holding a basket of fruit


 
Maybe it’s not surprising the I pulled The Empress today.
I went out in the garden to chuck a basket of toilet paper tubes into the compost, and to take pictures of the fever few – which is growing already – and the day-lilies coming up in the alley, and I sang to the misty air and the ground as I was out and about.
And I saw that the rhubarb – which I’m used to seeing a week or two from now – has already started crowning. Small enough that it probably came up with the sunrise just today. The sorrel – AKA sourdock – is just, just starting to create leaves, too, still red from their first unfurling. In the not too distant future there will, I hope, be crow garlic sprouts and dandelions coming up.
My neighbour, whose mom is an avid, and very skilled, gardener, comments that everything is coming back again.
Hallelujah.
My Lady who is the land beneath my feet is awake, awake again.
My Lady who is every green and growing thing is stretching her arms and her face towards the sun.
Hallelujah.
 
Right now, I’m burning a cone of dragon’s blood incense on my altar. I’m doing that because I don’t actually have incense charcoal and the dried mugwort I tried to use burned a liiittle too enthusiastically and turned to ash before I could even say what the offering was for.
So. Dragon’s Blood it is.
I’m adding my tiny offering to a nation-wide call for ones like it: For talking to gods and ancestors and asking that indigenous communities be protected from COVID19 through physical things like provision of actual clean drinking water right out of the tap. (Which, yes, I’m also continuing to bug my MP and the prime minister about this, because it’s an ongoing problem). Feel free to join in. If you’re like me, and are a white person, some herbs you might consider using (if you can manage to get them to light, um) are: juniper, mugwort, rosemary, lavender, mullien, mint, birch bark, thyme, and pine needles.
 
I read Liz Worth’s recent post about prophetic dreams, which talks about offerings, about letting go, and I could help thinking of my own post from five months back asking “Have I Done Right By You?”
Maybe it’s not surprising that I pulled The Empress today.
 
What is the New Normal that I’m hoping for?
I want income supports to STAY available for all (and, like, ACTUALLY for all, not just if you’ve made at least $5000 at some sort of declarable job over the past year), and for it to be $2000/month, and for it to be No Questions Asked.
I want crude oil to stay so cheap it becomes a visibly bad investment for people who only judge “bad investment” by how much money they stand to lose.
I want remote work to stay the expectation, because 200,000 cars NOT on the local road, most of the time, would do the air quality in my city (and especially right here, by the highway) a lot of good, and because it’ll mean people with disabilities and chemical sensitivities will have a much easier time getting well-paid work if from-home is a standard and expectable option.
I want clean, potable water, to come out of the tap in every house on every Reserve. (We still don’t have that – go bug your MP about it).
I want stuff like AirBnB to basically be out of business and the market to suddenly have a LOT more housing availability and a LOT more housing aforadability. (I would like to know more about housing co-ops, btw).
I want Actually Helping Each Other Out – like “I’m going to the store, do you need anything” – to be something we ask out neighbours.
I want remote access and online stuff – like concerts and meditation classes and conferences – to be a thing that sticks around.
I want train tickets to be cheap as hell so that inter-city travel, once it’s a thing again, can be affordable without it having to happen on an airplane.
I want strategic downtown streets to be closed to cars so that pedestrians can maintain appropriate social distance and, when we don’t have to do that anymore, I want those streets to stay pedestrians-only or, since they’d likely be residential streets, “residential traffic accepted” at worst.
 

Temperance, The Page of Swords, The Three of Pentacles, and The Six of Wands – Mary El Deck


 
I did a reading, as I sometimes do, shuffling my deck and checking in with the ground, taking the jumpers for answers.
Here’s what I got:
 
Anything you want? – Temperance
I mean, I suppose this is obvious. Balance. Taking care with my actions. Spring Equinox, for that matter. Oliver Pickle, in She Is Sitting in the Night refers to this card as one that “calls for self-control, not through socially internalized suppression and compartmentalization, but through appropriate and thoughtful responses to all situations. It asks for compromise, harmony, and moderation”. So, yes. That.
 
Anything you need? – The Page of Swords
She’s nothing if not literal. The Page of Swords is – according to the Wildwood tarot – situated as Spring Equinox starts moving towards Beltane. So right where we are now. She needs to do what she needs to do, moving towards that fullness, that leafing and growing, that’s already started and can’t, won’t be stopped. More metaphorically this is a card about diligence, determination, and doing the Work. This, too, is the crowning of all that new life. The rhubarb and the crow garlic, the day lilies and the tulips, pushing their spears through the topsoil. The leaves unfurling on the sorrel, the ferevew few, the creeping charlie, the grass. All of it. But it’s also me, paying attention, tending to the soil. It’s my wife turning the compost. It’s bread and milk offerings and remembering to water the plants.
 
Anything else you want me to know? – The Three of Pentacles with a side order of The Six of Wands
Teamwork, co-conspiring, getting creative with what you’ve got, working together, putting your labour towards something meaningful… with a side order of the warmth of generosity.
Work together. With Her, with each other, and there will be more than enough for all.
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Book Review with Feelings – To Speak for the Trees

So I picked up a book from the library (one of many, many books that will now be hanging out at my place for the duration), because it was unexpectedly available. It’s one I have on reserve, but was not expecting to be able to get it early.
The book is To Speak for the Trees by Diana Beresford-Kroeger.
The author is local to my area, and she’s suggesting that everybody plant one native tree per year, per member of their household, for the next six years, in order to help slow climate change.
Which is a good idea, if you’ve got the space and/or know how to sneak new trees into public parks. Recommended.
However, that’s not what this book is about.
It’s, um…
It’s mostly a memoir?
There are bits of it that are good. I like the last four chapters of Part 1 (so slightly less than a third of Part 1) and Part 2, which is about the Ogham tree alphabet, and is interesting even if it’s… oddly ordered.
But I didn’t particularly enjoy this book, and I’m…
 
Okay. I’m just going to say it.
The story-line of how the lonely child of minor English nobility – half Oppressed Minority on her mother’s side, no less – was Tragically Orphaned in her tweens, then taken in by her rural, Irish maternal line only to become The Chosen One who would be given all the Ancient Celtic Wisdom (and she specifically says “Celtic”[1]) of her ancestors by the aging – think octogenarians circa 1950 – population of a village that had somehow, due to isolation, managed to avoid the worst of the Penal Times practices… and is now, only NOW, passing that Wisdom on to the rest of the world (when those octogenarians, and all of their immediate offspring who ostensibly didn’t wanna hear it, are reliably dead and unable to contest any of this) in the hopes of changing how (white) people relate to the non-human world…
Let’s just say that I find this a little too convenient combined with a little too… Hero’s Journey?
 
Like… I find it more than a little unbelievable.
The same way I find Dorothy Clutterbuck (who, granted, would have been about the same age as, or a tiny bit older than, those Wise Celtic Ancestors of Diana’s) a little unbelievable. I’m aware that Romanticism was at its peak between 1800 and 1850, well before Dorothy OR the Irish Ancestors were born, and I can imagine some of this stuff being just… leftover romantic stuff. But I also can’t help wondering how much of this is just… straight up fiction. Or at least someone drastically stretching the truth of her 60-years-gone memories into something that sounds like “White Folks Were Wild Once Too”.
 
I’m kind of conflicted about that.
 
Like, on the one hand, I’m over here trying to naturalize myself, develop relationships with The Neighbours, not be an asshole to the plants I cultivate and wild-harvest, and be aware that I’m not the only person who calls my back yard home. And I’m doing it explicitly as a PAGAN-identified religious white lady.
I want this stuff to be true.
I want there to have been vestiges of pre-Christian religion hanging on and still being practiced as part of folk-Christianity by people who were being exploited by capitalist extraction rather than benefiting from, or driving, it.
I want to have examples to draw on of “How To Be” from cultures considerably, vastly closer to the one I spring from, if only so that I’m not strolling around quoting Braiding Sweetgrass like I’m not part of the problem.
 
And, on the other hand, this book reads so much like it’s trying to be “Braiding Sweetgrass for White People”, with a heaping helping of memoir and a side order of “No Really, This Is Ancient Wisdom, For Real For For Real”. And I don’t know what to do with that.
 
Look… What do I want? I want to know how my very distant ancestors – my pre-Roman ancestors, who were later called the Selgovae by Rome – interacted with the rest of the world. I want to know how those late stone-age farmers (neolithic) and hunters (mesolithic, but later, too, apparently) interacted with, and understood their place in, the forests-and-shorelines where they lived.
I want to know how to grow a… a “savana garden” that’s more raspberries and pavement roses, rhubarb, sorrel, lovage and other perennial herbs & flowers, with only a few (mostly fruit) trees clustered here and there under-which the real shade-lovers – Bayberry, witch hazel, spice bush, wild ginger, ramps, fiddleheads, sweet woofroffe, and lungwort – can comfortably grow.
I want to get familiar with the tiny ecosystem of my (next) back yard, and to help it thrive. To be a good neighbour.
I want to flavour my food BOTH with the flavours of the place where I live – cranberries & partridge berries, raspberry and thimble berry, spice bush, bayberry leaf (NOT the berries), maple, anise hyssop, crab apple, choke cherry, ramps and crow garlic (I know there are others, but I’m not familiar with them) – AND of the place where my ancestors came from (red currants, gooseberries & josta berries, rosehips, rhubarb, every mustard under the sun and every cheese that Scotland ever boasted, juniper berries, thyme, savoury, onion, garlic, leeks, lovage, sorrel, culinary sage, a million different mints, apples, pears, pie cherries, the bitter wild greens we brought with us (dandelion, mallow, plantane, yarrow, rampion), rose petals, begamot, lavender, elder flower, sweet woodroffe, honey, wine, mead, beer, and cider).
AND I also want to know the magico-medicinal plants of my own ancestors. I want to burn mugwort and summer savoury twigs in a Beltane fire. I want to steep juniper berries and rosehips and (cooked!) elder berries together in vodka, gin, or wine to make a tincture full of vitamin C, and to fill a bowl with hot water and pine needles, juniper berries, birch leaves, creeping charlie, and peppermint when I need to open up my lungs. I want to flick salt water off a pine or juniper broom to consecrate a space. I want hawthorn for good boundaries and roses for romance and apples for fortune telling.
By that token, Part Two of To Speak for the Trees is interesting and something to chew on, even if she’s – apparently – writing out the tree alphabet in entirely the wrong order.
I like Diana Beresford-Kroeger’s Bioplan that encourages people to plant native trees on the regular. I like the IDEA of sustained ancient knowledge. But I don’t really think that I can recommend her book as a resource for pagans.
 
Here, have some (distraction) videos about trees and suchlike:
Suzanne Simard on How Trees Talk to Each Other
Diana Beresford-Kroeger discusses climate change
How to Grow a Forest in Your Back Yard
A documentary on Rewilding Scotland
Have fun, kids.
&nbbsp;
 
Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden
 
 
[1] Look, I thought that was something only people like me did, people who are actually really removed from Irish culture, Scottish cultures, Manx and Cornish and British and Angolish cultures, Breton and Iberian cultures, heck Newfoundland and Cape Breton cultures, so it seems odd to me than an Irish woman is using that term. Maybe I’m wrong? But it seems… strange to me.

New Moon – Meltwater Moon Begins (#PiscesNewMoon)

Whelp. It’s almost the end of February, it was 11C on Monday (wtf…), we’re due to get snow, freezing rain AND a sudden return to very sub-zero temperatures in the next 48 hours, and Mercury is backstroking through Pisces as I type.
 
I keep getting the suspicion that planetary retrogrades can function a lot like reversed cards in tarot readings. By-which I mean that rather than (or in addition to) being about the “disfunctional” or “negative” or just “difficult” aspects of a thing, reversed/retrograde can point you in a particular direction.
I tend to read upright cards as “this is about the relationship you have with the outside world” and reversed cards as “this is about the relationship you have with yourself”.
And planetary retrogrades can be an opportunity to ask a similar question.
In the case of Mercury – planet of communication and, mythologically speaking, messenger between the various worlds – this retrograde is an opportunity for me to ask myself “What stories am I telling myself? Where I am lying to myself? Where – as Liz Worth suggests – are my actions, commitments, and habits NOT syncing up with the true nature of my most integrated self?
Which is to say, it’s a good time for Shadow Work.
 
So I’m doing some Shadow Work!
Trying to triangulate between (assumptions I make about the nature of) other people’s Stories so that I can uncover some more of my own.
If any of you have ever read Starhawk’s Truth or Dare – and it has a been a looooong time since I read it – you may remember her concept of The Unbreakable Vow. The terrible bargain we strike with ourselves – and, according to our imaginations, with someone else who generally has no idea we’re doing this but upon-whom we are dependent for life-and-death because: attachment bonds – to give up something, or take on something, in order to maintain access to love-and-belonging and therefore to survival.
 
A lot of my stories – a LOT of my stories – are about dropping everything to take care of other people (Who will SURELY reject/abandon me and Leave Me To Die, Frozen and Alone in the Snow if I fail to do this). BUT… I think there’s a flip-side to it. Something that dovetails with my expectations around “Being taken advantage of” or “being used” but isn’t that.
I told myself a story about my mom. About what I suspect her own Story is. That if someone has to be Helpful in order to be Good AKA Safe-and-Loved (which is definitely one of MY stories, too), then on some level that person needs others – attachment-bound others – to be help-LESS.
And so I asked myself if it was possible that I have made some kind of a deal With Myself, the aforementioned Unbreakable Vow, that says:
In order for ME to be safe – to be loved by my mom, instead of punished by her; to be rewarded by an employer instead of punished by them (or fired or whatever); stuff like that – I must remain on some level both compliant (accepting of someone else’s controlling behavior, direction, demands/requests, etc) AND… kind of… at the mercy of the other party in some way that involves “not being able to succeed by myself”.
Like I think there’s another angle to the “giving up my autonomy” thing that shows up under the heading of Compliance, and I’m wondering if this is it.
So that’s something I’m chewing on right now.
 
I’m reading The Secret of the Shadow which… has both useful information (albeit sometimes hard to parse, particularly when navigating the amount of ableism, fatphobia, whorephobia, and other crap that this book is definitely written with – reader beware) AND has… a lot of stuff that feels like work I’ve already done. Which isn’t to say it’s not work I still need to keep doing – when I’m feeling resentful and frustrated about cleaning my house and telling myself “I can’t do XYZ because someone else hasn’t done QRV yet” I need to catch what I’m doing and say “Okay, but is this really about “can’t” or is this about “annoyed because I have do to QRV as well as XYZ”? Like can you actually, in reality, do the thing, and you’re just pissed off?” Because frequently the answer is Yes.
But it’s not a new concept, if you will.
 
I have to tell you: Shadow Work is hard because It’s Annoying. It’s hard to do by yourself without someone to be like “Have you considered this other angle that is NOT just digging down into stuff you already know?” because it’s harder to catch that when it’s YOU doing it. It’s a bit of a slog – and maybe a LOT of a slog – because it’s hard (for me, at least) to tell when I’m making progress vs when I’m kind of maybe going backwards?
But I’m noticing that my throat chakra talks to me when I’m in my shadow-place.
Situations where I have a heap of shame – like Eight of Swords stuff – or am freaking out about a Thing that’s (probably) connected to my Shadow Beliefs (like a few days ago when I was in a work situation where my brain was screaming “No! Don’t tell Them that I don’t Need them! They’ll punish/abandon me!” about a third-party communication and my larynx swelled right the heck up immediately.
It didn’t calm down until that night, when I did my Moon Salutations while singing and consciously using good vocal technique to do so.
 
I think it’s interesting that I have some sort of built in “shut-up-shut-up-shut-up” THING going on that’s so physical and, in retrospect, so recognizable.
I think it’s interesting that my own body has these ways of talking to the words-using part of my brain, and I’m really glad that I’m starting to understand what I’m saying to myself, and under-which circumstances I find myself saying which things. Learning how to recognize where my fears are flaring up, learning how to Not Hide while that’s happening… it’s A Process, I tell you, but it feels good to be doing.
 
In other news, and for the first time in any sort of official capacity, I’m undertaking an Austerity.
This is a thing that comes up in Ms Sugar’s writing with a fair degree of frequency, and which I consistently dislike. But I’m giving it a shot right now because… why the hell not, basically. There are things I need to do anyway, so why not do them with some magical Intention behind them.
My annual Eat From the Larder Challenge has started early this year, and will be running for about ten weeks rather than about four. It is, as usual, somewhat modified. I can restock on food – milk, eggs, coffee, a few other things – that we go through frequently (in part because this is a LONG version of what I’m used to, and in part because this is MY Austerity, not my wife’s), but only if I pay cash, and there’s a limit to how much I can spend in a given week.
It’s a sacrifice of time and energy and easiness, basically, as coming up with tasty dinners and speedy lunches when I can’t decide to Just Buy Something is… tiring, to say the least.
 
I have bread rising right now. I’ll be making another batch of Hippie Muffins (think: lots of dried fruit, nuts, and seeds plus fruit butter standing in for the majority of the sweetener) later today. I need to put a bowl of chick peas on to soak, and another one of green lentils. I may or may not set up some mung beans to sprout while I’m at it.
I have plans for a lentils-and-kale soup with dried tomatoes and spicy sausages thrown in for this evening (with home-made bread) and for a zucchini-and-tomato bread pudding for tomorrow night. Pan-fried fish with rice (or maybe quinoa) and frozen veggies on Friday.
Which all sounds great (and will be).
AND
I’ve been grateful that my wife has had more than her usual number of evenings out with partners since I started this thing just over ten days ago because it’s meant that I could content myself with tea and toast and/or tinned herring “snacks” (which, ha, I am entirely out of now, and which I’ll likely be kicking myself about for the next eight weeks) rather than having to think of Actual Meals after a day of work. Because – thankfully – I’ve also been getting a fair amount of work (and also a fair amount of social events) in the past two weeks that have had me away from the house, and/or working on paid stuff instead of household stuff (like keeping the kitchen clean-and-functional or taking stock of what I have in the pantry and the freezer to work with), and… I’m getting to the point where that’s not so much of an option anymore.
I can still make tuna sandwiches, provided I’ve made bread recently, but I don’t have a LOT of tinned tuna left, which means making hummus – possibly with some frozen mashed pumpkin thrown in – from scratch so that I can make hummus-and-sour-kraut sandwiches as an alternative to tuna. It means making tasty, protein-heavy muffins from scratch AND watching how much flour I have available. It means recognizing that I have two one-person servings of (different kinds of) noodles left, and considering how many varied dishes I can make with rice, barley, and quinoa.
 
Part of me – the part that wants to cook with butter rather than oil+salt, the part that wants to have a gallon of milk in the fridge AND a pound of butter AND rotini within easy reach AND wine on the table (and, okay, the altar) this Friday – is annoyed with myself for creating “artificial scarcity” in my home, in the name of creating more abundance in the long-run. The rest of me… The rest of me is noticing how readily the paid work is coming in, including bookings from unexpected places, and is taking this as a good omen that suggests my sacrifice is being accepted. And that part wants to see how this all works out.
So we’ll see how it goes.
 
~*~
 

Silicon Dawn - Fortitude (8 of Major Arcana) - A six-armed babe in a body-suit, a striped corset, and a collar chooses to act as a pillar, holding up the ceiling at a kink party.

Silicon Dawn – Fortitude (8 of Major Arcana) – A six-armed babe in a body-suit, a striped corset, and a collar chooses to act as a pillar, holding up the ceiling at a kink party.


 
The card I pulled – from my Silicon Dawn deck – as my tarot card meditation for this waxing moon, is Fortitude. The Strength card.
Strength is my birth card, so it’s always a little bit significant when it pops into my hands at a random cutting of the deck.
In the Osho Zen deck, Strength shows up as the Courage to push through the hard thing and bloom. In the Next World deck, it’s about “accessing your higher self through compassion and listening”. Which are both relevant to my current endeavors.
In the Silicon Dawn deck, it’s also a card that talks about choosing to take on a burden or a difficult thing.
During a period when I’m both choosing to take on the extra work of this Austerity AND digging into the Shadow Beliefs that (in my particular case) have me choosing, on some level, to remain in some specific kinds of bondage? I’d call that relevant to my interests.
 
~*~
 
Movement: Yoga almost (almost) every day. Go me. Six hours of modelling work, yesterday, that involved pushing some limits and discovering that my body is stronger and more flexible than it was the last time I tried poses like that. (Oh, hey! Take note, self! Sometimes you outgrow your own limits without noticing and you don’t find out you’re capable of more until you try! It’s A Sign!) Walking my errands and commutes – although I have taken the bus home from work a few times in the past week, which I think was the right decision. Chipping and chiselling the ice dams away from my steps – we’re going to get a big dump of snow and/or freezing rain in the next few days, but I wanted to use the (unusually) warm weather to help make the impending shoveling easier for myself.
 
Attention: Listening to my body/chakras when it/they/I talk to my word-using brain. Striving to notice when I’m Up In My Narratives so that I can step outside outside of them, little by little, more easily and readily. Also taking note of what I do and don’t have in my pantry to put towards tasty meals. Also keeping track of which Tiny Magical Workings I’m remembering to do / making a point of keeping my commitments to, and which ones get pushed to the side on any given day (and trying not to beat myself up about that, in the noticing, because I built redundancies into this stuff for a reason).
 
Gratitude: For work that pays in cash. For modelling jobs. For a free poetry workshop and an opportunity to perform (open mic) that I actually took instead of bailing (Good Job, Me). For tinned soup and tinned fish and pumpkin-and-sunflower seeds that I can use to make quick, snack-like meals to keep me going when I’m tired, distracted, or prioritizing something else (whether or not that’s a good idea). Grateful for a wife who thinks I’m gorgeous and awesome. Grateful for a girlfriend who listens to me talking about my Shadow Stuff and tells me the Divine things she can see underlying them. Grateful for this blessed day off, almost entirely free of paid-work-commitments, so I can focus on home-work and homework, on writing and self-work and the magic of making food. Grateful for a body that talks to me and and brain that is starting to understand my physical language.
 
Inspiration: The specifics of everyday life, as used pretty directly during last night’s poetry workshop. Tarot Cards (because: always, apparently). My fellow poets and fellow witches. My sweethearts, working hard at what they do.
 
Creation: Three new poems! A bunch of (currently untested, but go with it) non-boozy cocktail recipes. The beginnings of (a) a new porn story, and (b) a possible memoire-related book outline? We’ll see where these ones go.

Messages Received While at Two Rivers Sanctuary in DC

So, I went to visit my girlfriend in DC – just got home a few days ago – and, while I was there, we made a point of going to Two Rivers Sanctuary to participate in the Full Moon Meditations that are put on by Connect DC (a public ritual group that operates out of the temple).
Something that I’ve noticed, and which was 100% confirmed during this visit, is that I have a much easier time doing energy work when – go figure – there’s a social (as well as physico-energetic) container in-which that work can be done. Whether that’s getting myself singing lessons so that I can Do The Thing in a situation where I’m not secretly terrified that I’m going to Bother Someone, or giving my wife a heads-up that I’m going to be doing Magic in the bath tub that evening (and then setting The Mood by turning off the lights and sparking up a candle), or going to a literal ritual space, be it a (particular kind of) concert, a sanctuary or temple space (think Cathedral Grove, or the shores of Kichissippi, but also various spots at Ravens’ Knoll or Ramblewood), or the Chartres-esque labyrinth my friend mows into the tall grass near her farm house every summer.
So I took the opportunity of being In Church, during the scheduled period of Quiet Contemplation, to try and open up all my chakras (not ALL-all of them, obviously, I mean the seven that line up along my spine) and run energy up and down them.
I did this in part because I’ve been having some difficulty doing this for the last little bit, and I wanted to see if having time-and-space set aside for it would help (see above re: confirmation), and also in part because I’d suggested it as a good spot for any Messages to come through, if there were any to be had, and I wanted to open myself up so that I’d have the best chance of actually picking up on them, if they were being made available.
 
A long time ago, I read something – I think in one of Starhawk’s books? – about a “quick and dirty” way to wake up your chakras which, tbh? Quick And Dirty suits me JUST fine. Basically, what you do, is you imagine each point in turn as “something you REALLY like” that is the colour of the chakra you’re trying to open.
So, for example, my root chakra is a blousy red rose in full bloom. And also this weird umbilical spidery thing that I can drop out of myself in order to literally root myself to the ground in a Grounding action.
My sacral chakra is, usually, a butternut squash and, sometimes, a broad lick of fire. Sometimes I can get it to kaleidoscope into something that looks like a lily flower starburst.
My heart chakra looks… suspiciously like a green version of one of these (yes, really – I don’t know why, but I’m going with it), from-which vines, tentacles, and occasionally hands will periodically emerge.
My third eye chakra is a pale blue (I know, but I’m going with it – it’s a bit like this, but closer to the sky) circle of light, about the size of a loonie, and sometimes it projects into a laser beam of the same colour.
My crown chakra is usually a circle of white light opening in the top of my head with, sometimes, a purple crown (similar to this one, but with six tines and a Queen Of Heaven vibe) surrounding it.
 
Notice anything missing?
Yeah.
My solar plexus chakra and my throat chakra didn’t get a mention.
I’ve been trying to get my solar plexus chakra to wake up, reballance, and start getting active by imagining it as a sunflower or a sunburst centered on and/or growing from, my belly button. And it hasn’t quite been doing it.
So this time, I actually went with my weird ass instinctive prompt, and imagined it as a sunflower with vampire teeth. Yeah. Like this thing, but more predatory and minus the guitar.
And it worked. O.O
So that’s a thing.
Apparently “I am powerful and I am comfortable with my power” means being comfortable with the likelihood that My Power is kind of predatory and wants to eat all the things.
Okay.
This tracks.
My throat chakra, on the other hand, is kind of what the rest of this whole post is going to be about.
The clearest mental image I can get of my throat chakra is of a dark blue, or maybe royal blue, Hand of Fatima that might have the capacity to glow every now and then. Sometimes it hints at being a scilla or something kind of like a dark blue crocus. Most of what I get, and what I’ve got for a long time, when I try to engage that chakra in any significant way is (a) a huge amount of painful pressure in my throat, followed rather quickly by very swollen glands and a generally feeling that I’ve done something that was a Bad Idea.
Which is a problem!
Not the only reason for why being that the messages I was looking for? They arrived. And they all boiled down to this:

Use Your Voice

 
These included some stuff that had to do with, basically, a big, painful, shame-and-unworthiness-related blockage in my whole throat chakra (which had come up once that day, already); the HP, during the Meditation portion of the evening, saying both “Elevate your daily work, whatever that work is, to the level of spiritual Work” and “Using our gifts is how we give back to the gods that gave them to us”[1]; and also finding the words “Speak the Truth” hanging off the tag of a tea bag I’d picked out at random for it’s throat-soothing qualities after the service.
Also: We sang, just this simple, simple round of a song that I knew (albeit a different version, but the lyrics were easy to pick up), and I cried two different kinds of tears (weepy tears, from both eyes, but also these thick syrupy “flush something out” tears would sometimes just slop out of my left eye as well) and the singing got easier as we went along.
 
So a thing definitely Happened.
 
Listen. The throat chakra relates to all sorts of stuff around translating your goals and ideas into real tangible out-in-the-world things. Turning “that idea for a story” into words on a page, turning the build-up of sexual energy into the release of an orgasm, turning the nebulous need for a thing into a statement that can be acted on.

I can’t speak my desires into being, and put any power behind them, if they are literally getting choked off and blocked in my actual/energetic throat.

 
So.
I’m listening to throat-chakra-healing music on youtube – because this kind of thing has been effective for my root and sacral chakras already, so let’s keep doing what works.
I’m (back to) making the effort to sing every day (humming, noodling, singing along to CDs and spotify, doing warm-up exercises if I’m so inclined) – which, so far, has actually been going more easily than it has in the past, which is hopeful and encouraging – to gently allow energy (and sound, which is energy, um…) to flow through my throat chakra, the goal being to make some (joyful, I hope) music with my body and to let my voice out to play rather than to make it push through in an effort to appease my shame-driven Shoulds (shame, as I’ve mentioned before, not being a great motivator for me).
I’m breathing the words “So Hum” (“I Am That”, seeing yourself as holy, as part of the whole holiness that is – this is a Vedic(?) chant from Hinduism, which is where the system of naming these energy centers as chakras, and the body-and-life stuff associated with each of them, comes from) when I have a quiet moment or five. I’m drinking various throat-soothing teas and saying – whispering or speaking more audibly, but always out loud – “I speak my truth. I use my voice, my breath, my words, my song to work my Will and manifest it in this beautiful world” as I drink them.
I am acting on messages received.
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden
 
 
[1] Plus a whole thing about how “You are always held in Her eye, always loved” which… I could FEEL my energy shrinking into my body – like shrinking away from the message that I might be lovable and held, by someone who’s been part of my life since I was 16 and who has deep, deep ties to music and bringing things out into the world, no less – and I had to MAKE myself stay fully embodied and open to hearing and (hopefully) accepting that, even as my larynx swelled and the pressure in my throat and behind my ears started getting really painful… uh, see above re: throat blockage connected to feelings of shame and unworthiness.

Full Moon – Apple Moon Crests (and Wains) – #Mabon / #AutumnEquinox

Red Flesh Apples mid-prep for apple butter. Left of frame: Small cutting board with a sliced apple whose insides look like a red and white bullseye. Center-top of frame: apple cores. Right of frame: crock pot already half full of diced apples. Photo by me.

Red Flesh Apples mid-prep for apple butter. Left of frame: Small cutting board with a sliced apple whose insides look like a red and white bullseye. Center-top of frame: apple cores. Right of frame: crock pot already half full of diced apples. Photo by me.


 
I’m writing the last of this on Autumn Equinox, when Apple Moon is in its last quarter and we’ve just, just slipped into Libra Season.
It’s been, shall we say, a bit of a time around here.
As you know, things have been a wee bit fraught around here of late, although I’m relieved to report that we seem to have nipped that particular problem in its embreonic stages. Hallelujah. Also, I now have five 1-gallon tubs (with ill-fitting lids) hanging out in my kitchen, and I’m thinking that grabbing some builders’ sand from the local hardware store might be a good idea, because it would mean I could store my carrots and beets (and maybe potatoes?) in sand-buckets which, I gather, is the right way to do it).
 
I can’t tell for sure if it’s second-chance summer or not just now, but it’s above 20C, so I’m enjoying it while it’s here.
I’m currently steaming zucchini (the “naturally imperfect” stuff from the grocery store[1]) for the freezer, having already rough-chopped and blanched a few bell peppers for the same reason (they’re just all heaped on a plastic plate, though, rather than going in muffin cups).
I’ve got the steam-juicer home from the tool library (finally) and will be juicing choke cherries (because it turns out I didn’t miss the whole season AND was able to harvest a little bit of mugwort while I was out there). My plan is to do the choke cherries once the zukes are in the freezer, and then cool the juice on the counter, and then in the fridge. I’ll make chokecherry curd on… probably Monday.
 
What I haven’t done (so far) is harvest apples. Part of me is making mental notes to pick some on my way to a modeling gig in the Glebe early next week. Make a batch of crab apple jelly (probably by freezing the apples, and then borrowing the steam-juicer from the tool library again in another couple of weeks). Another part of me is just going “Don’t worry about it! You’ve got buckets of apple butter left over from last year AND you’ve still got some crab apple jelly, too! Focus on harvesting rhubarb and chard! That’s a better idea!”
And… that’s probably what I’m going to do.
 
Between that and the meals I’m making for a friend (who’s working on a couple of NDP campaigns), I’ve got my hands full in the kitchen, which feels pretty good. I feel accomplished when I cook up a lot of food for people, make a really nice meal for us, and/or pack the freezer with produce from the nieghbourhood – or even just the province. It feels like I’m… Okay, this is going to include some negative self-talk here, but: It feels like I’m not being a total free-loader, even though I’m not making a whole lot of money right now. (Which, fuck capitalism, obviously, but here we are). I’m still looking for flexible, part-time office work – applied for a 15 hrs/wk job with the Friends of the Experimental Farm organization, which I would love to get, but who knows when, or even if, I’ll hear from them. So I’m still looking.
 
Listen. I have a confession to make.
Remember back at the New Moon when I followed Liz Worth’s spread for Virgo? How I chose a tarot card to meditate on specifically to remind myself to prioritize my health and my creativity? Remember this?

If all of my bits, from my Deep Self to my literal/physical self are saying “make time to prioritize what matters to you” + “have some confidence, already”, they are also saying “Remember you are worthy. Stop selling yourself short and putting your health and your own goals and priorities last”.

 
I lasted all of one week before a short burst of Bad News hit and an uptick in both anxiety and body-pain came with it. “Guilt and anxiety and despair”, you say? Yeah, kinda.
So maybe my Nine of Swords wasn’t entirely poorly chosen. >.>
I took some time, yesterday morning, to do some extra yoga – which has helped my lower back and hip pain, somewhat – but there’s been a lot of crying and stress-dreams and I’ve been clingier than usual (which is saying something).
Anyway. The end-result of this is that I’ve written a couple of poetry drafts, but I haven’t been doing a lot of writing in the past three weeks that hasn’t been fretful diary entries.
 
My tarotscope – the very last one, since they’re not happening anymore – over at Radical Tarot made a point of reminding me (and all the other Scorpios) that, despite (housing) worries and money fears, “[I’m] okay and [will] be taken care of”.
Which was a good message to have come my way right when ALL of my worst-case-scenario buttons were being mashed.
 
I shuffled my Next World tarot deck, and the following three cards flopped out and onto the floor:
Five of Wands (face up, so that’s my “focus” card)
The Messenger / Heirophant + The Empress (both face down, so I’m treating them as “overarching” and “underlying” cards).
The Ace of Wands (which didn’t fall out of the deck, but was the card on the bottom of the pile when the other three went flying, so I’m paying attention and calling it an advisor).
 
I want to take this as a message of “Don’t let scarcity govern your thinking” and “Take that leap of faith” (The Five of Fire), a message of “Stick to your values” (The Heirophant) and “Keep aiming for what you really want” (The Empress). A message to stay the course and have faith in my path, even when everything feels so fraught and impossible, because I’m going the right way, doing what I’m supposed to be doing, and becoming my fullest, most integrated, self.
I want that to be what this means.
I hope it does.
 
~*~
 
Movement: Haaaaaaaa… I managed to hurt myself doing the most basic of crossfit-esque exercises (the “walking lunge” without any weights or anything to make it harder), so I haven’t been doing a lot of movement in recent days. Which doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a LOT of yoga (to try and help my back – which it’s done) and walking, but which does mean that I’ve been moving slower and a lot more carefully for the past few days. I was relieved to wake up in “normal pain” this morning, rather than the “extra, bonus pain” I’ve been, uh, “enjoying”, for the past few days.
 
Attention: Watching my L4 and L5 like a hawk in case of relapse into “extra bonus pain” territory. Trying to focus, every day, on “What do I want to accomplish, and receive, today” – this is a very recent thing, but it’s seems like it’s worth a try – in order to both get my To Do List actually done, AND to send some thoughts and receptivity out to The Universe Herself and all my Gods and Ancestors, in case they want to give me a hand with anything. Thinking some thoughts (at the invitation of a friend) about how kink and polyamoury relate to the imagery of the tarot suits. Attending – just a little bit more – to my Glamoury, such as it is, trying to remember to wear my Crown Of Light and bring little bit of ritual focus into my creative work and my self-care practices. (I mean, we’ll see how that goes… but try, try again, right? Right).
 
Gratitude: I wrote two poems, and I’m so happy and relieved and grateful that The Poetry is still there! 😀 Grateful for the Tool Library membership that lets me access tools – the steam juicer, the pressure canner, the enormous garden sheers and the pitch fork – without having to find a place to store them. Grateful for poetry acceptances (and getting paid for them, no less!). Grateful for modeling work and (tentative) temp work this coming week. Grateful for partners who love me and make time for me. For an hours-long date with my wife, riding the motorcycle on a bright, gorgeous day, eating ice cream in a little town before heading home the long way. For sexting with my girlfriend and the knowledge that we’ll be in the same place again, in just a couple of weeks. For time to spend with friends, catching up, chatting, and sharing stories. For productivity dates with fellow writers. For knowing my poetry resonates with, and matters to, other people whose histories overlap with my own.
 
Inspiration: Windfall apples and heavy clouds. The clover sprouting (fucking finally) in my front garden. The poetry in Hustling Verse: An Anthology of Sex Workers’ Poetry, which arrived recently and which I’ve finally been able to sit down and start reading. The kids doing Climate Strike actions, and the adults who are joining them. The Wheel of the Year and the tarot suits (as per usual).
 
Creation: I’ve been feeling really tapped out, tbh, for a while now. But this morning, I took myself out and sat myself down, and I wrote two poems and I’m feeling pretty good about both of them. One is going in my chapbook (taking the place of a piece I don’t like that much). The other is the first poem in what I hope will be another chapbook-length project. I have the beginnings of a third poem, though I’m not sure it’s that great (yet). With any luck, it’ll fit into the same new project, and I’ll be able to take it somewhere good.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Okay, full disclosure? There are a LOT of reasons why I don’t like that my neighbourhood is gentrifying, not the least-of-which is that, when our landlords sell the building (which they are currently trying to do) we’re not going to be able to stay here because the rent will be too high for us to find a 2-bedroom we can afford.
BUT
One thing I do like is that the fancier the local grocery store gets, the more I’m able to get aesthetically “imperfect” but otherwise totally fine produce at reduced prices. Meaning: The less I have to rely on stuff that’s already a little bit moldy and/or rotten on the quick-sell cart.
I appreciate this a whole bunch, let me tell you.

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.