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I made candles today, and lit the altars. There a glass of sortilege up there as an offering, since the Season of the Hag kicks off, well, technically yesterday since this post is going up a day late (the “winter” wreath is on my door at last, though I haven’t hung up the holly garlands yet), and I’m hoping that winter will be kind. In-so-far as that’s an option, anyway.
My wife and I are having a quiet evening in, eating pizza (or will be, when it gets here), and avoiding the cold weather. I made bread today, and Persephone Shortbread (see below), and started planning my grocery list for the big Midwinter Stocking Up that I’ll be doing some time in the next ten days. I figure: if I’m getting six litres of sweet cider, plus a bunch of other beverages, for the annual Solstice Party? I might as well get 20+kg of flour and 10lbs of beets and similar, since I’m paying for delivery (or borrowing a car) anyway. The year is definitely winding down. I have friends blogging about the goals they met (or didn’t) this past year, and other friends doing tarot readings for what to potentially expect in the next turn around the sun.
Tarot Card Meditation:
This card isn’t a random draw.
Not this time.
I was shuffling my Wildwood deck and this card kept drawing my eye, so I went with it.
It’s a card about taking part in traditions.
It’s a card about long-term plans.
It’s a card about sharing what you have.
It feels very appropriate to draw this card right now, and to try to live by it’s invitation to claim your personal power, to build (up) your community, to create and maintain the traditions that matter to you, to nurture your roots (it is Root Time right now, after all), to be generous with your resources (time, energy, attention… “resources” doesn’t just mean “money”), to make things that last.
Movement: Not enough dancing! I would like more! Lots of lifting a full pressure canner up and down though, so there’s that.
Attention: The state of the sidewalks (the ice is starting to turn up… yeeg). The temperature, which swings between -3 and -19. The wildlife in the back yard (watching for the little white cat who comes to hunt rats out back, for the most part, but the winterized squirrels are utterly adorable).
Gratitude: Grateful for the opportunity to borrow the pressure canner from the OTL. For a couple of quiet days to put some food up for myself and others. For a wife who snuggles me when I have bad dreams. For an internet connection (it’s back!) that lets me talk to my girlfriend (and for said girlfriend). For new (to me) clothes that fit and let me feel swanky. For the transcription pay-cheque that finally came through (!!!) and the knowledge that January’s rent is covered for sure.
Inspiration: Trying to draw inspiration from the season, from the cold and the dark and the deep shadows. And also from the major arcana, because using that system for different projects and thought experiments is a way to get to know the cards a little better and a little differently, which I like.
Creation: I find myself singing more, these days. Maybe it’s the solstice music I’ve been playing, but it’s nice to be singing again. Not exactly “creation”, but something artistic and good for me, none the less. I’ve also written a couple of thousand more words on That Novel, so that’s a little bit of progress on that front.
It’s not that cold right now. Not by local standards.
There’s snow on the ground (the kind that drifts steadily down, without a driving wind to make it hard to travel through as it falls) that fell this morning, but a lot of water, too. A lot of potential for ice, for wet feet.
The chard is still holding up in the garden – not much, and it’ll be iced over in no time. But it’s there.
That said, the temperature’s dropping, and it’s due to be much, much colder tomorrow.
Cold is the temperature that gets into my bones, makes my hips swell up, keeps me up at night.
Cold is also the desensitization to other people’s pain. It’s a numbness that might be self-protective but can just as easily be cruel.
This first week of December, with the theme of “cold” in mind, I’m bringing socks – nothing fancy, literally just a bag of crew socks from Giant Tiger – to the drop-in on Bank St. It’s not a lot (it’s never a lot), but I know that socks are one of the most needed, and least donated, things that drop-in centers need once the weather gets cold. So. Socks.
I’m also making up a bunch of, basically, home-made cuppa-soups for a friend. But the timing on that is entirely luck, as she gets out of the hospital this week.
This is a card of awakening.
I’m in the middle of reading Queer Magic (the one by Lee Harrington and Tai Fenix Kulystin, not the other one) and I’m on the essay “Essay”, which presents a queered year-wheel that follows a process of self-realization, self-actualization, and community-involvement that the author chooses to have begin at Winter Solstice.
With that sitting in the forefront of my mind, I can’t help smiling at the relation this year-wheel bears to the Fool’s Journey and, thence, to this little tarot adventure I’m taking myself on starting, well, a couple of days ago, on December First with The Fool.
What are waking up to? Literally? Figuratively? Personally?
Literally, I’ve been waking up to the smiling face of my lovely wife and, usually, a message from my sweetheart as well. I’ve also been waking up to house-hold chores and, until today, not quite enough time to deal with them.
On a more figurative or personal note, I’m trying to “wake up” to – as in be aware of – both the many good things and people in my life, and the places where I can be more helpful (both in terms of offering support to others, and in terms of making it easier for others to support me by Using My Words and voicing my needs and wants).
What do you want to stay open to, as you walk the last leg of this journey into the dark?
I want to stay open to warmth (ha… see next week), and to my sense of belonging and worthiness. My nearest and dearest have a lot on their plates right now, and a fair number of friends and loved ones have mental health stuff, or trauma stuff, or both that flares up at this time of year. Which, yes, definitely means they need some extra support these days. But it also means that I can start pulling inwards, and telling myself I’m “not allowed” to want attention from my people which – combined with the effect that cold (even more than dark, weirdly) has on my own brain – means I start feeling a bit like The Outsider in the Five of Pentacles, assuming I have to beg for scraps, when, really, if I’d just open my mouth and say something, we could probably do a good job of looking after each other in ways that are mutually beneficial and do us all some good.
This is a card of action and of awareness of one’s own power.
What comes to mind, right this second, is the question “How have you used your privilege today?” A question that, if you are someone who has some politically-backed social power on any given vector, can maybe make you feel defensive. But all it means is “How have you used your powers for good today?”
How Have You Used Your Powers for Good?
This can be as easy as writing a letter to a politician, as a person with a “white-sounding” last name, to point out that, as a voter, you have a lot of problems with, say, oil pipelines being driven through indigenous territories without their consent. As simple as shoveling the walk for your pal with fibromyalgia or your neighbour who maybe can’t swing the shovel that easily. As quick as donating money when you’ve got some relative, even temporary, economic advantages.
Today, for me, that meant buying socks for strangers because, today, I had some available cash.
Tomorrow, it might mean making casseroles for someone who doesn’t have time to cook but needs to be careful about what and how often they eat, because of medical stuff.
The High Priestess
This is a card about potential, about diving deep, about entering into Mystery. It’s a card that, in terms of how my weekly themes are lining up, would be better suited to the darkest part of the dark end of the year, when I deal with Shadow. It’s a card that is often very personal. What are the secrets you’re keeping from yourself? What hidden depths do you need to reveal and recognize? What does your Hidden Self, your Rejected Self, have to say to you when you give it the chance to speak?
Are there parts of yourself that you consistently freeze out? Parts that you need to allow to thaw, even if it’s a scary, vulnerable process to do so?
For a long, looooooooong time, I always assumed that the stuff I kept hidden from myself was Bad Stuff. Stuff that I’d have to struggle to overcome or exorcise. But a year ago, I started wondering about how I (and, y’know, all my trauma babes, frankly) maybe hide stuff from myself about being worthy of “more than a kick and a curse”.
I want to stop digging my heals in, and keep letting myself risk feeling all the positive-but-vulnerable things – all the wanting, all the hope – that I sometimes try to stop myself from feeling.
So, it’s Beltane. I’m out of eggs. And bread. And company is coming for dinner tonight.
Thank goodness I’m home today. 🙂
I mean, okay, yes, technically it’s May First, and even if I’d been doing the Eat From the Larder Challenge this year (I didn’t), it would be fine for me to skip out and get some groceries, it’s cold and rainy and I Don’t Wanna.
So I went hunting on The Internet for vegan coffee cakes that I could mess around with, in order to make an easy dessert that I could adapt to feature sour-milk (or kefir, in my case, since I have an over-abundance of the stuff – oh, darn) but that would hold together without any eggs, and without my having to macgyver an egg-substitute out of peanut butter or similar. The below recipe draws heavily on this Chocolate Pecan Cranberry Coffee Cake which, itself, looks really lovely.
Here’s what I came up with, using the above-linked recipe as a starting point:
Chocolate-Pumpkin Coffee Cake
¼ C margarine
1 C pumpkin butter (or other fruit butter)
1 C kefir (you can sub with: sour milk, yoghurt, whey, vegan “milk” with some vinegar in it… whatever’s around)
1 tbsp vanilla
½ C granulated sugar
2 C flour
¼ C cocoa
1½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ C chocolate chips
½ C dried cranberries
¼ C crumbled walnuts
1) Preheat the oven to 350F
2) Grease a 9″x9″ cake pan
3) Mix the first group of ingredients together in a big bowl
4) Add the second group of ingredients and blend (you can use a fork for this) until smooth
5) Add the third group of ingredients and mix (lightly) until well-distributed
6) Scrap the batter into the cake pan (it will fluff up really fast)
7) Bake for 1 hour OR until it smells done and can pass the fork test
8) Allow to cool (and set) for a few minutes before cutting into squares and serving
So there you have it.
I like to make coffee cakes using fruit butter in place of at least some of the sugar. Partly because it makes things slightly less overpoweringly sweet, but mostly because it makes for a velvetier, moister crumb (AKA: helps keep a cake with dried fruit in it from being Too Dry) while also letting me stuff some extra Plant Stuff into our eating. 🙂 Plus it helps act as a binder, which mitigates the No Eggs situation.
As a side note, I can’t help smiling a little that the pumpkin butter I made at Samhain is being baked into the cake I’m making on Beltane. Hello, Year Gate, nice to see you again. 🙂
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 It’s May Day, after all – Fair Distribution Of The Tasty Bits! 😀
 NOTE: When I say “bake for 1 hour”, I mean “That other recipe says ‘bake for 1 hour’, and so this SHOULD work fine, but my cake is still in the oven, so we’ll see if this works”. Thence: Fork Test + Use Your Nose. Always good to have more than one way to tell. But I’m assuming that it will take about an hour.
Hey, Pagans, Heathens, Druids, Goddess-Spiritualists, Witchy-Woo Folks, and others who practice earth-centered religions/spirituality, ancestor veneration, and/or polytheism in Canada:
Please go and take a gander at the Canadian Pagan Declaration on Intolerance. You may wish to sign it yourself, as an individual or as a representative of your particular faith group, circle, kindred, grove, coven, or other congregation.
Sick. That’s where I’m at right now. Sick, probably about to start bleeding (if my emotional state is any indication), and feeling like I’m not getting enough done. My head is swirling with all the Things that I need To Do, all the prep for the annual Winter Solstice Partay (baking, cleaning, decorating, making multiple batches of candles), all the knitting (presents for various out-of-town folks), sewing, mending that’s been piling up. I’m dreaming up a massage balm for joint & muscle pain relief (juniper, pine, clary sage, rosemary – a powerful blend when it comes to shooing away nightmares and calming anxiety, too, handy that – maybe why myrrh as a bass note) that should help my wife and, with any luck, a friend in Toronto, too.
I’m (still) really enjoying making multi-purpose goodies. Massage balms that help with body pain, but also do some psych work at the same time, or that have aphrodesiac properties mingled with magical traits that make for joyful romances while calming down any feelings of jealousy or insecurity. Beeswax offering candles scented & charged for a particular purpose. That kind of thing. I gleefully threw some money at the Next World Tarot Deck in order to fund its creation and pre-order my deck (I love my Zen Tarot, but this is also glorious, and I want it to exist. In my house, even. Even if her vision of The Chariot reads like The High Priestess to me).
I feel like crap, to be honest. My voice is a wreck, I can’t breathe through my nose, and I haven’t been able to kiss my wife on the mouth since some time last week (see: sick). On top of that, I wound up crying my eyes out this morning, ostensibly because of a Thing my wife read to me on facebook (about the value of little birds – literally, like budgies and parotlets and such-like – as individuals), but actually because my brain had been running in circles around all the usual things that it runs in circles around (“Does she love me, and actually want to date me, or is she just faking it in order to get free therapy and secretarial services?” and “What if me People only want me around when I’m amiable and able to take care of them, but not when I’m an emotional wreck and need them to take care of me??”) You know. Anything and everything that can boil down to the horrible fear/belief that “They only like you ’cause you give them stuff”.
Come on, brain, you know better than to believe what your 12-year-old brother said, 20 years ago.
Partially because of this crappy mood, and partially because I’m all tarot-excited because of the new deck that will, some day, one day, wing its way to my door, I gave myself a grand cross reading, asking “What do I need?”
Fell out of the deck: 6 of Earth.
This is the “check in” card. It’s a card that says “got your back” and “we rely on each other”. It’s a card about security and interdependence (rather than co-dependence OR “gotta do everything myself ’cause nobody’s gonna take care of me” Independence – which is interesting given both my Querant card and my Overarching Influences cards).
Querant: King of Air.
This is Lord Domly Dom. The feeling that one must, must, must get EVERYTHING Right, that one has to put up an infalible front, even when one has no idea what one is doing.
Situation: Queen of Earth.
I love this card. She’s all about Coming Into Your Own, about being solid (as in certain, but also as in reliable). In this position, she’s all “Honey, everything is fine. I know you’re feeling shaken up right now, but look around you. Stop listening to your Jerk Brain, and remind yourself just how much you actually have. You have a lot.” She is the Mama Self from last New Moon, and I really need to listen to her, especially since my Situational Cross is the 10 of Earth – meaning that, regardless of what my Jerk Brain is telling me, I’ve got a lot of love (and a lot of food, and a lot of cash, and a lot of abundance in general) in my corner – and my Recognizable Influences card is the 9 of Earth: a reminder that what I need is ready and waiting and available, but I’ve got to use my words (and deeds) to access it. (See how that also connects to the Fell Out of the Deck card about needing to check in?)
Hidden Influences: 7 of Major Arcana.
Get up, wake up, it’s time to get moving! This is about maintaining focus in order to achieve your goals, and is a call to be brave, bold, and resolute (even though it’s scary – did I mention that I read Liz Gilbert’s Big Magic a couple of weeks ago? She says “listen to your curiosity, rather than your fear”, and it’s relevant advice in this context). Self-assertion (using your words – oh look), pushing through your walls and working your will.
Past: Page of Earth.
It’s amazing how many Earth cards are in this reading, given that I’m dealing with an emotional, rather than physical, sublect. Amazing, but not actually surprising. My body reacts super phsyically to emotional situations. I burn through calories like an SUV when I’m scared, stressed, panicking, and can’t keep warm no matter how many blankets I heap around me, no matter how hot my skin is to my wife when she curls up with me. Safe, warm, and loved are all the same thing in my body. “Enough” – all that abundance/security stuff that the suit of Earth deals with – means “loved” as well as “fed”. I can give warm-safe-loved-fed to my people really easily, and I get a lot out of it, but it is SO hard to ask for, to say out loud that I need that stuff, too.
I think my Past card is a reference to taking a chance (especially given how afraid I am of screwing it up, now that I’ve put myself out there), and it links up pretty neatly with the “follow your curiosity” stuff attached to my Hidden Influences card.
This brings us to the Future: 8 of Air.
This is the Guilt card (Ha! The “listen to your fears” card, look at that!). The brain weasel card that says simultaneously “I am (need) waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much for anyone to handle” (femme prolems, amirite?) and “I am never, ever, ever going be (good) enough (to be worthy of receiving what I actually need)”. Eugh. In case you were wondering, I’m totally living in those feelings right now Ick. 😦 So I pulled a Clarification Card, and got the 2 of Earth. Which, yeah… The Two cards are all “getting the hang of this” cards. Actively calling up memories of kindness and care and consistency to use as stepping stones through the mess of my nasty neurotic cycles. Remembering how to keep my feet warm from the inside out.
Subjective/Up-Close View: Queen of Fire.
Woohoo! I also love this card. Like the Queen of Earth, she’s a “goal” card for me. She’s “something I would like to be” (as Lenelle Moisse says). I’m surprised to see her in this position, honestly. This slot is often a “how the querant understand the situation” card and, given The Queen of Fire’s assoications with generocity and boldness, I would have expected her to turn up in the Hopes and Fears spot (although that did net me the only other fire card in the reading, so there’s that) rather than this one. That said, when I look her up, she can apparently mean “too demanding”, “pushy”, “lacking confidence” and even “jealous” (Prime poly sin! Bad Girlfriend!) when reversed, which would definitely line up with my Guilt Feelings and my most typical insecurities, even if the card I pulled was upright. So maybe it’s not so shocking that she showed up in this position.
Objective/Take-A-Longer-View: Ace of Earth.
Uh…? Probably has to do with the Two of Earth I pulled on my Future card. Like… maybe I’m just having some growing pains, or something?
Hopes and Fears: Page of Fire.
Regardless of Footnote One, in this position, an upright card usually means a Hope, while a reversed card usually means a Fear.
I tend to take this card at its name – Playfulness – and understand it as “don’t take things so seriously” and “actually enjoy your process” (whatever that process/journey/learning-curve is) rather than constantly fearing the “inevitable” screw-up and wrecking what you’ve got like a self-fulfilling prophecy. But… apparently there is more to this card than just that (no duh, Meliad…) Stuff like: access your courage, let yourself try new things (which directly links to my Past card, as it happens) and, tellingly, Master your internal blocks, transformation immanent. Hmm…
Which brings us to the Outcome card: 7 of Water (reversed, so at least this is about Me and My Brain, and not anyone outside of me…).
Yeah. This is an “unfished business” card, but it’s “unfinished” because the querant left it that way. Procrastination, dreaming without action, wanting things but not doing what’s needed to get them. But also: Letting those shitty Jerk Brain voices tell you “how things are” rather than seeing what’s really there.
I pulled a clarification card and got – ACK! – Thunderbolt! Master your internal blocks, Transformation Immanent. I said “This is scary. Can you tell me more?” and pulled another card: Phew! The King of Water. Well, at least that transformation leads somewhere good…
I looked up the 7 of Water to see what else this card might have to say and, unexpectedly, I got messages that linked to my Querant card:
We admire order in all its forms and want everything to be just right. The Seven of Cups provides the balance. […] Is everything too controlled and regular? Perhaps you need to let things fall apart a little. When a rigid system breaks up, there can be a tremendous release of creativity. The man on the Seven of Cups is amazed by all the options he has.
[…The] reversed Seven of Cups can indicate a time when you are finally breaking through a fog of confusion and illusion to focus on your chosen goal. With resolution and purpose, you are now setting your intentions and finding solutions[…]
that second one, I think, maybe, links up my “Moment to Moment” (2 of Earth) clarification card, my “Longer View” (Ace of Earth) and my Hopes (Page of Fire) cards somewhat. Master your mental blocks + one step at a time + even though it hurts to grow… basically.
Eugh. Okay. Fuck. I like that interpretation better than any of the others, so I’m going to go with it and hope I’m not just lying to myself.
Advisor: Page of Water.
Jeebus. You notice all the Page cards in this reading? “Essense of transition”. The Page cards are all about growth and change. (I’m surprised the Wheel of Fortune didn’t show up in my spread, yeek…) The Page of Water (surprise, surprise) can be about vulnerability in relation to (in relating to) others. But it also (a) reflects the Page of Fire’s call for Self-Knowledge with a call for Self-Understanding. Know yourself, but don’t be cruel to yourself, give yourself some compassion at this time. It likewise – like all the Pages, really – calls on the Querant to play, dream, and try new things. Like my Situation and Crossing cards, this one says “Honey, the door is right there. The only thing keeping you in that cage is yourself” and (like my Recognizable Influences card) tells me that I need to use my words and express my Feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelings, if I want to get what I need.
Over-Arching Influences: 4 of Earth.
Under-Lying Influences: 4 of Water.
I’m lumping these two together because, holy cats, two Fours?
The Four cards are (a) kind of your first “level up” card in the progression of the minor arcana, but also (b) linked to The Emperor, with self-mastery and breaking your own chains. As “level up” cards, they hook nicely into the three Pages that turned up in my reading, but also as “Emperor” echoes, they both have ties to the repeated call, in this spread, to break through my own bad habits and (mental/emotional) barriers, and stop getting in my own way (a message my cards gave me last New Moon, too).
That’s just taking the “4” part into consideration. The two cards juxtapose with each other in a really interesting way.
The Over-Arching Influences card is “The Miser”, the feeling that the Querant has to “go it alone” or is in a “me against the world, got no back-up” (compare this to the Card that Fell Out of the Deck, why doncha) situation. This is very, very much the feeling I’m dealing with right now. Like “as I’m typing this” right now.
The Under-Lying Influences card – rather than being the 4 of Fire (all call to connect with others) – is the 4 of Water.
The Four of Earth is an easy (and familiar) one for me to interpret. It basically lives in my brain. The Four of Water is more difficult.
In my deck – which is based on Buddhism (and as such tends to glorify detachment, um) – this card is a call to turn inwards and find (maybe fill?) the well of your own strength. It’s a self-reliance card, just like the 4 of Earth, but it’s coming from a space of calm and certainty rather than a place of fear and resentment. In other decks (and other interpretations), it means something much different: A call to count your blessings (as with my Situation and Crossing cards) and be aware of what’s available to you (as with my Advisor card). It can also be an indication that the Querant is sick and tired of the status quo – that it’s time to “get up off the nail”, as Amanda Palmer puts it in The Art of Asking and stop hurting yourself through your own in/actions. Sometimes it even echoes the Four of Earth, alluding to feelings of disillusionment or having been let down (“Nobody cares about me. It’s me against the world”) but… I would like to think that this isn’t what the card means in this spread, in this position, right now.
Given everything else in the reading, I’m inclined to interpret this card as “You need to walk yourself through this, and not let your Jerk Brain be your emotional boss, BUT in order to do that, you can’t just be all “go it alone”/”I don’t need anybody, anyway” (that will totally back-fire). You need to be aware of what’s really going on, what’s around you, WHO is around you to support you, and you need to be willing to do the one-step-at-a-time scary/healing work of asking for what you need, and what you want.”
Even when you think nobody’s available to support you.
Even when you think the people who say they’ve got your back are lying or, at best, offering support without knowing how badly, or how much, you need them (and will therefore disappear as soon you show them the depths of that need / how broken you are /etc).
That was actually a really helpful, articulate reading. Way easier to understand than a lot of readings I’ve done in the past six months.
Long Nights Moon is a time for reflection, and the dark days between the last sliver of a Balsamic waining moon and the first sliver of the New (meaning now) are a seriously good time to seak out, understand, and compost/transform the unhealthy/unhelpful patterns in one’s life.
This New Moon, in particular, is shifting from Sagittarius (with its sometimes-painful honesty and restlesness) into Capricorn: a sign that calls us us to (a) rededicate to the kind of learning/healing/developing that moves in circles and keeps popping up over and over again (you know, those Fucking Opportunities For Growth that we all love so much), but also to (b) “tighten the net” of support we use to hold each other up – meaning support for us as well as others, kids – and even to (c) move towards goals in small, acheivable steps… All of-which are things that the above spread aludes to quite a bit.
This was a good time to do this reading (whether I knew it, or not, when I shuffled those cards). It gave me what I needed, even if I knew parts of it already. (When the tl;dr version is “Honey, you are too insecure. Work on that!”, it can be a bit Thank You, Captain Obvious… But the more in-depth reading was a help. 😉 )
Anythign weighing on your mind right now? Any brutal truths come up in the past lunar cycle that could be explored more fully while the does her Compost Thing and the Long Nights and waxing Moon give us a boost on both getting the the roots of those things and finding ways to make changes in our lives?
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 Although, given that this deck doesn’t do “upright” and “reversed” the way most decks seem to (reversed usually means “going on internally” rather than “involves how you related to the outside world”), so an upright position with painful indications can still happen.
My fingers are ringing with the bright chill of peppermint and rosemary essential oils. There’s lavender mixed in there, too, and white vinegar, and salt. I swear, the idea was just to deoderize (ye gods) a tea towel and some of my dish cloths, but I wound up sloshing the last of it across my steps, pouring out protections just ’cause I can.
That’s the lovely thing about herbal magic. Generally speaking, if it’ll cure a cold or sanitize a diaper, it’ll probably also work in protection magic. That’s how it goes, right? If mint and birch will open up your lungs again, by breathing the steam or drinking the tea, then maybe hanging a bunch of them (to dry, yeah) over your threshold will keep the sickness from your door in the first place. Maybe it’ll keep other bad stuff away, too.
So that – along with putting the coffee on – was what I did before 8am this morning. (I know, I know, a whole heap of you folks have to be at a desk by 8am and were doing this with the sun barely over the horizon, but we run on a slightly different schedule here).
I’m going to spend the day (a) prepping my set list and numbering chapbooks for my show, but also (b) catching up on various house-wifely and kitchen-witchly tasks that have been needing some attention. Stuff like re-stocking my beeswax candle supply (since I’ll be lighting my altars tonight anyway), doing the laundry in the hand-crank machine, feeding & weeding the garden, patching my wife’s skirt, plus the usual daily tasks like dishes (endless dishes…) and dinner.
— Amazon Syren (@amazon_syren) June 11, 2015
Maybe it’s because Mercury is (fucking finally) out of Retrograde, and the conversations are flowing more freely again, or maybe it’s because I just read S. Bear Bergman’s Blood, Marriage, Wine, and Glitter, but I’ve been thinking (and talking) a lot about hearth, hospitality, and family of late:
Talking with a friend, as I taught her to spin, about “career housewifery” and how some people are happiest and most fulfilled when their paid work is, at most, part-time and, frequently, piecework or casual hours.
Talking with my mom about both my sister’s new baby and my (and my wife’s) new, recently-relocated girlfriend and realizing that my mom is handling the reality of my polyamoury really quite well.
Understanding, more and more, how much hospitality matters to me, how much it feeds me on an emotional, heart-and-soul level, as well as how much it touches on, and overlaps with, my faith and what, in turn, that means in terms of being welcoming and offering people my spare bed to sleep on, whether or not I necessarily want to hang with them for the next 72 hours, or whatever. All that stuff from The Oddyssey, where you invite someone in, feed them a really good meal, and then get around to “So, who are you, anyway?” that’s really relevant here.
So much of my day-to-day work/Work is… care-taking. The sheer weight of gratitude when my girfriend gets the interview, my friends (plural) come out of their surgeries safely, my brother gets to change streams, my extended fam gets to keep its reunion for another year. That my devotional candles include my gods, my ancestors, and one dedicated to “family and friends” – to my leather/glitter family close and distant. That the garden I plant, that is connected to and is-flat-out my gods (Misha, Mattaer, in particular), that connects me to my farming (and primarily maternal, though paternal too) ancestors, that I harvest with feeding The Multitude in mind, that it was built by that family (the soil, the bedframes, even some of the plants). That the garden I planted for beauty and the bees is made up almost exculsively of plants given to me by glitter-fam, wine-kin, leather-crew.
“Masha, my own, my littlest sister,” the matron called down. “Take this with you.”
She bit off her yarn in her teeth and tossed the red ball to Marya, who caught it and squeezed it like fruit at the market. The yarn was softer than any wool, expertly spun, thick.
“It will always lead you back, to your country, to your home. I make all my children’s stockings with the stuff, so they will know how to come home[…]”
Deathless (Catherynne M. Valente)
A million years ago (AKA 2004), in an entirely different house and an entirely different life, or close to it, I commented to one of my witchy friends who’d come for Summer Solstice (a week after I’d moved in) that my religion is garden-kitchen-table religion. It’s the feasting and the feeding, the communion of wine-and-weeding, weekly brunches in untidy homes because family doesn’t care about the mess; of potluck feasting and gifted jars of fruit-butter; of “I can stretch dinner for an extra person” and “Ye gods, please take this bag of zucchini/rhubarb/mint/tomatoes off my hands”. It’s the holiness, and wholeness, that are passed hand-to-hand along with the gravy, the green beans, the goodie bags. It’s the protections stirred into the soup, spun into the yarn, sewn into the patches. Every stitch to keep you safe and bring you home again.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 And, yes, there’s a bit of a “vetting process” as to whom you invite in. In the case of Ancient Greek Nobility, it was “Does he [always he] own his own his own warship? If yes, clearly he’s The Right Sort.” But it’s just as easily understood as Bear’s “shaking the queer tree” method of couch-surfing and finding couches for others to surf based on having a friend in common, wherein said friend’s existence is a tacit approval of both the person who needs the couch and the person who has one available.
Beltane and the full Leaf Moon have happened over the same weekend. We slept with the bedroom window open (a bit) last night, and the furnace is officially off. The garden is planted with red russian kale, various rainbow chards, fava beans, cilantro, and a couple of kinds of peas. It’s warm enough that I’m inclined to push a few squash seeds into the soil and see if they’ll wake up along with everybody else (although I think it would be wise to hold off on that for at least a week, so that the leafy greens and so-on have a head start on the Butternuts and Pumpkins that can, and will, eat every available patch of earth aforded them).
I’m excited about growing my own food, in (hopefully!) actual significant quantities, again! I’m hopeful about being able to can tomatoes and freeze greens from my own garden (as well as from the farmer’s market, but still).
I also (finally, after years of intending to do so) placed an order for half a pig. I opted for half a pig instead of the equivalent in pounds-of-meat (but including beef and chicken as well) because, frankly, it’s about $400 less expensive which, in and of itself, will make doing this again next year a LOT more possible. It still only works out to about 1.5lbs of meat (not including stuff like bones and leaf lard) per week, and I’ll be suplementing that with not-nearly-so-ethical stuff like Traditionally Raised and/or Free From goodies from the grocery store, or definitely ethical stuff like the meat at Seed To Sausage (which is actually a lot more expensive than my half-pig price per pound, but whatever – ther apple-and-sage AND their red-wine-and-garlic sausages are both outstanding, so).
So that’s where things are at on the food front.
The magnolias bloomed on Beltane. I cna’t tell you how happy this makes me. 😉
And both the lilacs and serviceberries are getting ready to go any day now. Apples, I suspect, will take a little bit longer. I have tiny flowers in my front yard (which is shady most of the day, otherwise I might have tulips blooming by now, too) and other bulbs coming up and getting (slowly) ready to bloom. I have PLANS to add morning glories, flax, phlox, columbines, and campanels, and other shade-friendly/tollerant/loving flowers – and a lot of fancy garden soil for top-dressing – to the front yard as well. 🙂 That may be an activity for this afternoon. 😉
I’m looking at attending this event this year. I’m a little nervous, as I’ve never done this kind of a ritual before, but it also sounds pretty far up my alley. It doesn’t quite have copies of my house keys, but it could, if you know what I’m saying. So, provided I can find transportation, I’m going to get myself registered and give this a whirl. O.O
Anyway. There’s bread to make, candles to (finally, eugh) light, seeds to plant, and garden beds to water (although possibly not until after 6pm on that last one – don’t need it all to evaporate on me, right?) so I’m going to skedaddle.
Roll on, Summer! 😀
Melaid the Birch Maiden.