So, my shiny Candian English dictionary and thesaurus offers this as the second (so less frequently used) definition for “zest”:
2 Interest, flavour, or charm
I am focusing on the very last word in that definition: Charm. There’s a post of Miss Sugar’s entitled You Need Glamour that has pushed a couple of buttons for me.
Specifically, I’ve started looking at how I can use little magics – the kind that you post-it to your bathroom mirror or doodle onto your skin or build into your daily leaving-the-house-for-real-now routine – to give me a bit of a boost. How can I spritz a little bit of magical je-ne-sais-quoi over myself to help me glow when I walk out the door, or to help me Push Through The Suck on my way to Making Good Art when I’m at home (or out and about)? As such, I’ve started designing sigils (thense the “zigzag” part of my post-subject, even if mine look less “zigzag” and more “curly-cue” to my way of thinking) that I can charge and plaqce strategically around the house (above the stove, around the mirror, etc) and have started charging elements of my makup box as well.
Things that I’m sorting out how to enchant for:
Stick-to-it-ivness and timely action
Creative inspiration and output on various fronts
Seeing opportunities when they present themselves
People-I-like generally liking, and seeking out, my company
Still on the list:
Regular influxes of significant cash (I’m saying “significant” because finding a quarter, while handy, is not the same as finding a five-dollar bill or getting a last-minute modeling gig exactly when I need it) both the reliable, expected kind and the unexpected-bonus kind
Good food (I’m hoping that this will be general enough to cover both (a) a really productive garden, (b) affordable ethical animal-based food, and (b) various friends and phamily dropping by and bringing excellent cheese/chutney/chocolate or whatever with them for me/us to enjoy)
Romantic & sexual magnetism (minus the potential for Stalker Problems)
Like I said, the idea is to give myself a boost in these areas so that, when I try to put myself out there – by flirting with a potential date; by sitting down and chugging through those 1000 words/day; by applying for a gig or a contract; you name it – it won’t just be me against everything. My hope is that things will flow a little more easily in the directions that I want them to go and it won’t feel like I’m always trying to shove a boulder up the hill. (It’ll feel like I’ve got some traction behind me, perhaps, or like the rock is significantly lighter, even if it’s still the same size?)
Here’s hoping it works!
Onwards into 2015.
BLOGGER’S NOTE: So this brings us to the end of 2014’s Pagan Blog Project. The individual who curates the PBP has decided not to keep doing it, so if you like my posts, now would be the time to click the Subscribe Button or otherwise follow along.
I like having something to post for in a weekly kind of way, so I will be participating in The Pagan Experience weekly writing challenge over the course of 2015.
I look forward to talking your ear off in 2015. 🙂
See you then. 🙂
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
I’m writing this two days late (for the PBP) and a day early (for my lunar calendar/almenac) but I figure it all evens out. It’s Winter Solstice today – we had our annual shindig last night, so that nobody would have to get up at a set time to go to work the next morning – and it’s also our second wedding anniversary. It’s the very last day (fittingly?) of Long Nights Moon, with Snow Moon starting tomorrow. (Thense the name of this post). We’ll see if it lives up to its name again this year.
Snow Moon is kind of a long-haul period. Sure, it overlaps with secular New Year’s, so there are people making Resolutions and setting personal goals all over the place, there are still social things to get up to, but this is generally when the temperature drops hard and fast (and the bills come in, and – around here, anyway – you’re most likely to get hit with a big dose of Seasonally Affected Depression) and it’s one of the hardest parts of the year to get through.
Snow Moon is a hunker down moon. It’s a take stock moon. Given the astrological stuff going on right now (everything is crossing paths with Pluto, apparently) it’s also a time to consider (and maybe sort through) What You Are Doing With Your Life. (Just me? Okay). …I keep eyeing my year-ahead double tarot spread and my 2015 We’Moon horoscope that suggests it’s time for me to “learn how money works”. (It probably is). What is this coming year going to hold?
Zero Degrees – for most of the planet at least – is the point at which water shifts between solid and liquid states. A liminal time, a liminal situation. What parts of your life are seizing/freezing up? Which parts are getting more stable and solid? Where are things getting more fluid and flowing? What’s loosening up and moving? What’s struggling to take/keep its shape?
Things to think about as we go into the cold and head back towards the light.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
So a week ago, I started writing (thousands of words in) a post about the Year Ahead spread I did, months ago now, for my 35th birthday.
I am opting, instead, to write a celebratory (and short) piece on the impending Winter Solstice because: Happier Thoughts and Less Stress.
It’s been kind of a rough week. In-so-far as I have those these days, I mean. But I’m feeling a lot less despairing today than I was on Monday, so I think things are looking up. Right now, I’m listening to various wintery tunes (instrumental, for the most part) while waiting for my third-last Yuletide Cooking Thing to get finished (It’s chocolate-covered peanut-butter candy, and it’s chilling/solidifying in the freezer right now, so there’s no work involved at the moment). (The remaining items are a pan of caramelized onions for having with cheese and similar plus another batch of my chocolate-pumkin brownies that are gluten-free, paleo, vegan, and also amazingly delicious).
Tomorrow’s going to involve a flurry of tidying and the usual flailing around “do I have enough XYZ” for the hord that I’m hoping will descend on our home starting at around 7pm. I suspect we’ll be fine, but we shall see. I swear, I’ve got more Fancy Cheese in this year than ever before PLUS I splurged on fancy-schmancy local-ethical animal products (smoked duck breast + something kind of salami-esque) to put out, as well. The spread is going to include the following made-by-me items:
Garlic-dill cucumber pickles
Roasted garlic (because that’s so difficult to make…)
The above-mentioned candy, brownies, and caramelized onions
Vegan ginger snaps (I’ll post the recipe – they’re amazing and exactly the right kind of crispy)
There will also be boxed chocolates, dips-from-the-store (two kinds of hummus – even though it’s really easy to make at home), baguette rounds, various chips, the above-mentioned mountain of fancy cheese & spiffy meat products, a lot of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (including mulled sweet cider and – our Quebecoise version of Joie – Sortilege), plus whatever people bring to share.
This should be gooooooooooooood.
The presents are, for the most part, sorted out – even though, for the most part, they don’t need to be dealt with until jut about New Year’s Eve and, basically, I’m writing this post from a position of relief that I wasn’t sure I’d have the luxury of feeling. Thense the YAY attached to the Yuletide. Now I get to relax, light my candles, pour my libations, and enjoy things!
Some of my favourite YA and Middlegrade books are about characters who say Yes. Meaning: characters who make choices and live by them, who dive in with their eyes open, who strive.
I am a fairly fearful person when you get right down to it. And fear is enough to keep me frozen in one spot far too long and far too easily.
I’m fearful right now, as it happens. The tarot reading I did for my birthday included the Tower card in the “future” position, and – while I think it might still wind up being A Good Thing – I am absolutely DREADING what it means. What’s going to crumble? What’s going to fall apart? I’m scared.
Scared enough that I put the pictures away and haven’t done a full-scale interpretation yet.
Scared that I’m going to lose someone I love (because isn’t that my deepest fear, right there?)
And yet… Yes.
Yes, because I’m still chasing ecstasy (in a two-steps forwards, one step back kind of way); still singing, however intermittently; still taking baby-step after baby-step towards fully practicing my polyamoury. Every tiny Yes makes the next one a little bit easier, every tiny Yes brings me closer to myself.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
Xylos – as in “xylophone” and “xylitol” – is Greek for “wood”. So, yes friends, I’m talking about trees today. You do what you gotta. (It was that or reprising Xmas for another year).
We are edging towards the longest night of the year up here in the northern hemisphere, so it’s likely that at least some of you are putting up douglas firs (or imitations thereof) in your living rooms. I’ve got my Fake Spruce wreath on the door, and my Fake Holly garlands to string up and decorate as well.
But those aren’t (exactly) the trees I want to talk about today. Rather, I want to talk about trees in general, in the context of Getting To Know the Neighbours. What trees grow in your neighbourhood? Can you recognize them when their leaves have dropped? Can you recognize – to choose folks who live in my neighbourhood – hawthorn, crab apple, rowan, evans cherry, choke cherry, serviceberry, apple, maple, poplar, oak (to name a few) by their bark, by where they grow, by the way their branches bend (or don’t), fork (or don’t), angle (or don’t)? Do you pay attention to what flowers when, to which fruits you can eat (and which fruits you can’t)? Can you tell the difference between juniper and cedar? Can you recognize a Norwegian Spruce at all? Do you know how to tell a pine tree by its needles? How to recognize a waxberry (bayberry) or harvest the thick, white berry-covering and melt it into vegan-friendly candles?
Long Nights Moon is about to crest, and Snow Moon is on its way. Frost and fire, ice and stone. Do you know your neighbours when dressed in skin and bone?
Meliad the Birch Maiden
 Er… I don’t. I mean, I can recognize them, sure, but I haven’t tried to make candles with the wax yet at all. And, while I can usually spot a poplar (size), crab apple (shape of branches + shaggy bark), choke cherry (almost-weeping branches), and maple (bark… ish)… I certainly can’t recognize all of those trees.
Xanthra Phillipa MacKay. I never met her. Surprisingly, hadn’t even heard her name until she died in February of 2014. I went in to work one morning, and, when I asked my boss how he’d spent the previous evening, he said “Mourning”. I wrote a little bit about it here. Xanthra MacKay is, among many other things, an artist, a sexworkers’ rights activist, a poet, and dead.
In so many ways, she is my ancestor.
And, yes, I’m using her as an example because her name starts with X. This could have just as easily been titled “W is for Wendy Babcock”, “L is for Leslie Feinberg,” “M is for Maria Callas,” “S is for Sappho,” or “N is for Nizzi”. Just as we can choose our families, we can choose, or find, our ancestors as we go.
Del has a post on ancestors & beloved dead who are not blood-relatives, and this is, in part, whence this post of mine stems. It also stems from Kathryn Payne’s essay “Whores and Bitches Who Sleep With Women” (in Brazen Femme) wherein she asks her readers “Do you know your lineage?” and last October’s sacred desire ritual at Unholy Harvest wherein we had the opportunity to acknowledge our sex-radical forebearers – our queer and trans (and both), sexworking, and kinky chosen ancestors – our lineage.
My ancestors include my bio-relatives, for sure. When I burn candles for the ancestors, I burn them for the people who gave me my face, my skeleton, my skin. But I also burn them for the chosen family who came before. The sisters and grandmothers whom I never knew, but who showed me my reflection in their poetry, their stories. The aunties and uncles and cousins who put words around my queer, bloodsoaked desires and let me name them.
So here’s to my ancestors, the ones who bore me and the ones who brought me out.
Thinking of you always.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 A local leatherman we lost to suicide this past year.
Wow… We’re really getting down to the bottom of the alphabet, aren’t we?
I figured that “Winter” was a good one to go with, seeing as we’re getting our first Snow That Stays (most likely – it’s a wet snow, but it’s piling up with the apparent intention of sticking around) today, and there has been ice on the puddles the past couple of nights.
I’ve talked a little bit about how my particular path seems to have strains of land-guardianship built into it. What does that mean, when the ground is frozen solid, when it’s asleep? What does it mean when you live in a house that burns fossil fuels to keep warm?
It means things like sawdust or sand instead of salt on the front steps to cut the ice; suplementary-heating with beeswax and terracotta/cast-iron rather than by turning up the thermostat. It means knowing how and when to turn the compost so that it steams all through the winter, and hanging bird feeders of seeds and suet for the sparrows and crows (and squirrels – I know).
I’m sure you can imagine just how hypocritical I feel having written that, only to learn that my lovely wife has brought us home a box of rock salt for the front steps. Yes, we’re using it. So it goes.
The nights are getting longer (approaching longest quite quickly, really), and the temperatures, for all that they’re still fluctuating, are staying below freezing for longer.
Good Witching comes into play with regards to things like donating warm socks, winter boots, mitts, coats, hats, scarves, and other items to drop-ins and things like the Snow Suit Fund, as well as filling the food banks’ pantries with hearty, protein-rich foods that can be cooked in one pot on a hot plate (think: tinned pre-fab stew, but also mixes of rice & red lentils – or pot-barley and black lentils, or “grains and beans” dry soup mixes – along with tinned tomatoes, cartons of pre-grated parmesan cheese, tinned fruit, and herb/spice mixes).
Now is an excellent time to
avoid going outside invite broke friends over for casual meals, so that they don’t have to worry so much about feeding themselves now that they’ve got heating bills coming due (it’s a good way to start incorporating your Summer/Autumn preserves into meals, too). Likewise, inviting lonely/stressed friends over for some no-pressure company and hot tea can offer comfort on multiple levels.
Winter is, for many people, a time to pick up knitting projects – I admit I’m at the point where I’ll knit through the summer, too, but this is a new development for me – and getting people together to work on crafty projects (with or without charitable-donation intentions) is a lovely way to pass the time, look up from your phone once in a while, and connect with people you care about.
Happy Winter. Happy Witching.
 For example, I put an entire 1-cup jar of chunky asparagus relish into a stir-fry along with some left-over braised pork (the last of last week’s Fabulous Friday Dinner), a small head of nappa, half a red onion, three cloves of garlic, and some diced carrots. We had it over fusilli pasta, and it was delish. Gave just the right kick of sour-bright to the meal.