Tag Archives: paganism

Full Moon – Apple Moon Crests / Autumn Equinox 2021

A close-up of a whole apple pie is overlaid with a line-drawing of a slice of pie on a plate (lower right corner), and the words “Autumn Equinox: Happy Harvest Home” overlays the image in dark brown script.

Full moon is tomorrow, and Autumn Equinox is this coming Wednesday, but this post is going up today. I have my latest batch of Weird Fruit Curd just barely starting its waterbath on the stove. This year it’s a mix of peaches, a lemon a friend left at our place, and a bunch of sea buckthorn berries that I found in the freezer section of the grocery store (they are bitter, not sour, and not citrusy at all BUT they are exactly right for making fruit curd, so I’m going for it).

Some of the fruit curd, when it’s done, is going to be mixed into a soul cake – think cheesecake, but a 2000+ year old recipe – and used for offerings on both my home altar and the Autumn stone I’ll be visiting on Wednesday.

Right now, my altar candles are lit – I just did Ritual with the folks down in DC – and I’ve put a cup of chai with a little milk in it up there as an offering. I’ve been burning Prosperity incense today, because it seemed appropriate for the “I am enough, I have enough” Work that I’m doing this Equinox.

I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about a job I applied for, and then took, because it was the only one available at the time, and which I’ve been regretting pretty much ever since, wanting to pull the plug and get out and waffling like heck because – among other reasons – while I don’t need it, and it’s making my life harder from the perspectives of creativity and anxiety, it’s also making my life much, much easier, financially. And that’s one of the factors I’m grappling with as I consider making my exit.

My girlfriend walked me through a somatic meditation the other day – I swear, this is relevant – that asked me to feel in my body the sense of “being cared for”. Not the stories I tell myself about what that does or doesn’t look like, or is/isn’t allowed to look like, but the literal, physical sensation of “being cared for”.

This was actually pretty easy to do. As someone with an anxiety disorder, and attachment anxiety on top of that, but who also has a couple of really solid, secure attachments in her life, the sensation of “when that shuts up and I feel safe” is actually familiar (amazing!) and something I can call up. Warmth, a cessation of the jittery trembling that is part of my baseline most of the time and its replacement with stillness, with calm. My shoulders coming down from my ears. My breath coming more easily, and more deeply, in and out of my lungs. A slowness. A palpable relief.

And that feeling came – not 100% easily, but it came – when I called.

What I wasn’t expecting was what came with it.

What came with it was the sensation/vision of a long, warm, tealight flame glowing steadily in my solar plexus. Golden light. Heat and calm and focus.

Now, you all know that I do a lot of Chakra Stuff. So I knew what I was looking at. The experience was a reminder that resilience isn’t something that is internally generated, that humans are animals whose strength is in community, whose power is in our connections, and our resilience comes from being cared for by others when we need the support, and by caring for other when they need it.

For a long time, my prayer has been “Let me have enough to share”.

And I’m finding that I draw a distinction between “share” and “give away”. Probably this comes from something like having grown up in this culture where we has so much stuff that we not only have more Things than we personally need, but that some of us don’t even know anybody personally who does need them. Where dropping things off at Value Village is less a kindness to someone else and more a way of avoiding putting still-useful things directly into a landfill with your own hands.

For me, “share” means “Clothing Swap” and “Free Box”. It means “Call that friend who sometimes run out of groceries and offer them the extra produce from the CSA”. It means “Community Fridge” and, sometimes, “Buy Nothing Group”. It means giving your extras to people you know – or at least people you might know because you live in the same neighbourhood or at the same intersection of opressions. Sharing is part of the resilience we offer to each other.

To give something away is a different situation. “To share [something]” is to keep it in the family, one way or another. “To give [something] away” is to let it go entirely. To let something move out of your hands, your family, your community and, yes, to be picked up by someone else who will welcome and cherish it but, also, never to return your way.

There’s a Saying that shows up in a lot of “psychology of wealth” self-help books, and in a lot of How To Magic books, too, about manifestation and how you have to shift the old, cluttered, stuff out in order to make room for new, wanted, stuff to come in. It’s one of the reasons why we make sacrifices. It’s why we ritually sain and sweep our houses, too. It’s why we shed our serpent skins to renew ourselves as we grow.

A lot of what stops people – or at least people like me, people who’ve known physical and emotional scarcity for big chunks of their lives – from being able to take the step of shifting the “old stuff” out is that… what if we need that some day? What if we need that [broken bed-frame] [exploitative job] [ill-fitting shirt] [unreliable, entitled ‘friend’] because we don’t have anything else?

So, this Autumn Equinox, this harvest time, I’m praying for Enough not just for us, for now, not just for us to keep and save and seed, not even just enough for us to share. I’m praying for Enough to be able to give things away and still keep me and mine safe and sure.

~*~

Three cards from the Wildwood tarot, laid out on a cedar board: “Healing”, the Seven of Stones (a Greenwoman does energy work on a fallen man in a kilt. They are surrounded by short standing stones). “Home”, the Ten of Stones (Looking through a stone arch, we see a giant roundhouse with a well-established living oak as its center post). “The Ancestor”, the Five of the Major Arcana (A woman with a deer’s head, dressed in Iron Age clothes, stands in the deep snow playing a bodhran. She is flanked by birch trees. A waxing crescent moon hangs in the background).

Given all this talk of resilience and redistribution, I was expecting the Six of Stones to fall out of my deck. Instead, I got the above three cards leaping out of my hands and landing at my feet.

My Wildwood deck is very literal – probably the most literal and here-and-now deck in my collection, none of whom are exactly subtle about a situation – so when I see the Seven of Stones (who was the archetypal energy we invoked at High Summer) – and the Ancestor (Oh, Hai, Samhain) on either side of a card called Home, I can recognize that my deck is saying “Yep! It is, indeed, Autumn Equinox in these parts!” So: Happy Harvest Home to you, too, my beloved kin of blood and spirit. I see you. ❤

And.

Because tarot is a language of metaphor, and there’s usually more than one thing going on in a given reading, I can look at these cards and see:

The seven of stones is an interim report, a check-in card that asks me to see if what I’m actually doing matches what I want and need to be doing. I had to laugh when I looked up “seven of pentacles” and got this very old post from Little Red Tarot, explicitly about leaving a job purely because it wasn’t enjoyable anymore. If only because I’m chewing on pulling that particular pin myself. It’s a card that says, as I once commented to my voice teacher approximately half a lifetime ago, “Freedom is paying your own bills”. It’s a reminder that Autonomy means you have both hard work ahead of you, step-by-step processes to follow if you want to get where you’re aiming and the time you need to rest and get used to this idea of Having Enough and not having to scrabble all the time.

The Hierophant – in this deck, the Ancestor – asks “Are your actions in line with your values?” It asks “What kind of ancestor do you want to be?” It asks me, in light of my payers and goals, How I’m defining “enough”, and how will I be ethical in my use of food, rare earths, potable water, fossil fuels, such that my desire for “enough to give (throw?) away” isn’t wasteful, isn’t theft, isn’t taking food out of someone else’s mouth?

Home – the ten of stones, this card that means material security and secure attachments at the same time – is an end-goal and a leveling-up at the same time. It reminds me that “Magic Happens In My Comfort Zone” (which is an image I saw on instagram, and now can’t find to say where) and that change, creative work, personal growth, and magic happen – sure – at the Resilient Edge of Resistance, but generally NOT when I’m struggling, emotionally activated, and losing sleep over food insecurity. But it also asks me: When you get what you want, what will you want next? It reminds me that Home – my safety, my abundance, my security – is built from mutual care and networks of family, blood and spirit, leather and glitter. Home isn’t “I” – not even for a massive introvert like me – but, rather, it’s something we build together out of all of dreams coming true.~*~

~*~

Movement: Heh. I ran up and down my basement steps 35+ times last weekend (not all in a row, but all in the same afternoon) to make sure I got Exercise. Yesterday, my wife and I went on a long, beautiful ramble along Pinecrest creek. I’d never been up towards its headwaters before, and it is a beautiful stroll under shade and through meadow. We said Hi to some big oak trees – old enough that it would take two tall women like us to stretch our arms all the way around the trunk – trailed our fingers in the creek water, met a lot of willow trees (their roots were trailing in the water, red as paint, it was amazing!) I look forward to doing this again!

Attention: Right this second, while my hands and eyes are working on this post, my nose and the back of my tongue are paying attention to the smell of mini soul cakes – made with the last quarter-cup of fruit curd that didn’t fit in the jars, plus sound ground spicebush berries and a little bit of whisky, plus the usual eggs, cream cheese, and honey – and waiting to take them out of the oven. I’m also paying attention to the torn up sidewalk outside, which is due to be replaced tomorrow. (I need to go out and embed some sigils in the gravel this evening).

Gratitude: Delicious food. BBQ dinner with some of my polycule. That long, glorious walk yesterday. Doing ritual with my far-way folk. Five pay-days this month plus enough cash in my recently-started travel fund that I can pay off my travel ticket fairly quickly, instead of it take 6+ months to do. Sunlight dappling through the cedar fronds outside my window. Being able to vote by mail. Two out of three jobs being jobs I actually love doing. A freezer full of stock bones, cauliflower, and zucchini. Glorious books out from the library (“Robert MacFarlane’s “Underland” is amazing and is, frankly, going to have a permanent place on my Witch Books shelf). A present for our household arriving in the mail. Getting to see my girlfriend soon. A long-over-due date with my wife. I have got SO MANY things to be grateful for!

Inspiration: Those blood-red willow roots! The half-billion-year-old stone plane that the creek runs over – it’s been so dry that a lot of it is exposed. You could have a (very small) dance party on a moonlit floor older than a lot of life on earth! This is the old sea bed that I’ve lived on most of my life. That’s underpinning my house right now. The sea that makes me a sea witch on dry land.

Creation: Soul cakes, fruit curd, the beginnings of potential poems ghosting around the edges of my mind.

New Moon – Apple Moon Begins

Ripe McIntosh apples collected in, and spilling out of , a wooden bucket with a rope handle. The words “Apple Moon Begins” overlay the image in white cursive text.

So, technically, the first question is “Should I really be calling this Apple Moon” when the apple tree across the street is fully denuded of apples, and they were ripe and falling off the tree weeks ago?

Not sure!

But this is the lunar cycle when Autumn Equinox happens, and that is sort of permanently associated with apple for me – plus, hey, apples have a LOT of varieties, and some of them won’t be ready to harvest until nearly Samhain – so… I’m sticking with Apple Moon.

Somehow we’ll survive.

Anyway. It’s raining today. Or at least it was raining for about an hour there. I’m hoping that we have a solid 24-hours of on-again-off-again rainfall, because this place is pretty parched. We had three squabbling blue jays land in our cedar tree this morning, only one of whom stuck around for long. It’s always nice to see them. (I’m biased. I love blue in general, and these folks look like stained glass windows). Right on schedule, the temperature has dropped from the high thirties down to lows of 6C. It’s pleasant-to-chilly out and, while we haven’t had a Danger Of Frost yet, I know there’s usually one on the way this time of year.

It feels like fall.

Today, I’m reading David Abram’s Becoming Animal. So far, the author’s note at the beginning – which is very much about “sometimes I mess around with spelling because it’s MeAnInGfUl” – had me rolling my eyes a little and wondering if this was going to be one of those “I’m so deep” books written by a certain kind of white philosophy major[1]. But the introduction was actually pretty good? I enjoyed the little discussion about how language is an animal Thing, a nature Thing, and that humans (animals making meaning out of sound) tend to forget that, and forget that the paper and the pen and the marks we make to represent the sounds of language are also, still, a nature Thing. (It reminds me of Chaweon’s tiktok about witches who think of Nature as this non-human, “virginal” landscape, and forget – or are upset at the thought that – a neon yellow highlighter pen is also nature, the product of a human animal doing what it does, which is make stuff all the freaking time).

That said, I do see a little bit of that in the choices the author has made so far (in Chapter 1, so I’ve got a ways to go) in terms of the landscapes in-which he’s choosing to situate his narrative. Like, I live in a city. I don’t follow deer trails, even when I’m in the woods. I follow tracks made by humans. Bike trails and paths cleared through the undergrowth by humans with weed-wackers and wheelbarrows full of arborists’ mulch.

This isn’t a new practice, either. Caribou and Reindeer both love, and follow, straight lines. Humans have been (a) making straight lines for the people we eat to follow, and (b) getting excited about naturally-occurring straight lines[2] since the ice headed back to more northern climes.

And yet here’s David Abrams talking about deer tracks, rather than raccoon tracks, cedars rather than poplars and box elders, non-human forest people rather than non-human city people. The impression I get, so far, is very much that of “We need to find our place BACK in the places we think of as non-human and pristine”. Not wholy out of line, fine, but… I remember someone positing that city trees were devoid of spiritual value, or skills, because of where they grew. And that’s just not true.

I’m grateful that I live in a part of my city that gives me easy-access to woodland preserves, plural, the river’s edge, and the relative diversity of birds and small mammals that come with that proximity. But I’m none the less in a city. I can be in my senses, practice mindfulness, see what the cloud-cover is saying, talk to the native and immigrant plants who live in my yard and inside my house, greet the chipmunks, skunks, cardinals, and crows who stop by, right where I am.

So. We’ll see where this book takes me. But the witch that I am, the animal that I am, lives in a city and so that context remains the relevant one for me.

A white person in a long, black, hooded robe, holding a lit candle. They are standing in the snow on a starry winter night, next to a tall Norwegian Spruce. An inverted drawing of crescent moon shines above them, and they are flanked by two drawn pillars, one dark and one light. (I made it in canva).

Tarot Meditation

I used this random tarot generator to pull my card for this waxing moon. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised – given what I’ve been thinking about today, and talking about above – that the card it gave me was the High Priestess.

Inner knowledge. Ecstatic practice. Using magic and ritual to communicate with the deep and divine parts of yourself and with the rest of the world.

I’m taking this as a Gentle Reminder to visit my Luxury Astral Sea Cave in the near future to check in with my Godself and my Fetch.

~*~

Movement: Making a little bit of time to dance, going for one (1) walk at Mud Lake with my wife.

Attention: Rereading Gideon the Ninth, trying to finish Anatomy of a Witch, digging into Becoming Animal. In other words: Books. I’m paying attention to books.

Gratitude: Grateful to be singing again. Grateful for Mud Lake, for the River, for the nature rehabilitation woodland a few blocks south of me. Grateful to be able to tell the difference between black walnut trees and staghorn sumac without having to see their respective fruits. Grateful for online video dates with my girlfriend and in-person date nights with my wife. Grateful for my work-from-home jobs and the money they bring in. grateful for evening primrose and autumn asters. Grateful for this breaking of the heat that’s made it reasonable to use the oven again. Grateful for blue jays on the window and crows wading in the shallows and gold finches in the pale-leaved wild sunflower. Grateful for rain. Grateful for being loved so much.

Inspiration: Conversations with my wife and my girlfriend, pretty things on pinterest, the work of other witches. Reading up on different ways a particular kind of ritual – one I’ll be facilitating for a few friends in a few weeks – can get done.

Creation: I’ve been working on my purple skirt again, starting to turn the raw edges under in French seams. I would say that I’m only about 1/3 done the whole thing. Which: If I want this ready for early October, I have a LOT of work ahead of me. So we’ll see. But I’m pleased with how it’s turning out so far.

TTFN,

Ms Syren (Meliad the Birch Maiden)

[1] As a white chick with a humanities degree, I both went to school with a lot of these and am, I suspect, in solid danger of being one as well. So here we are.

[2] Think of probably-glacially-made Avenue on Salisbury plain.

Full Moon – Thunder Moon Crests (and Wanes)

Green leaves of an apple tree caught in a downpour. The blackground is blurry and rain-washed, but there’s a mix of purple and green visible. The words “Thunder Moon” overlay the image in white text.

Okay. Full moon was last weekend, and I spent it banging my girlfriend and doing some chakra un-gunking stuff that got slightly intense.

Only the first part of that was planned.

Summer has been kind of bonkers. We’ve had two relatives die – it wasn’t COVID, it was just that time of life – and my girlfriend has been up to visit twice, one of which included a two-week quarantine just to (follow international travel rules and) be on the safe side. I got to visit my immediate family for a few days – which included getting to meet a new nibbling AND a new sister-in-law in person for the first time, plus a niece who 100% does not remember meeting me that one time when she was an infant several years ago – and we just had a house-guest for a few days more.

It’s been a VERY social summer after a solid year-and-a-half of basically seeing NOBODY.

O.O

So I’m grateful to have this quiet, drizzly afternoon with my house to myself.

It’s finally raining today.

Not anywhere near as much as we need it to, but it still rained, fairly gently, for a few hours. I’m hoping this weather keeps up for at least the next week so that the garden can get a good soaking and the river can refill her banks.

The Lammas Ritual I did almost a month ago, via the internet with Connect DC, was part of a low-key day where I lit my altars and did a little bit of glamour-tinged bath magic – Iron Pentacle work where I called Passion back into my foot (still needs some work, I think – that bit’s always been sticky) and made some time to do Me Maintenance – but didn’t do a whole lot else.

I’m still at a bit of a loss as to how to properly honour my Queer Aunties of Spirit, the Amazons.

Some ideas include:

  • Making my body stronger (which would also just be good for me) – this is likely to involve more yoga, more resistance training (like assisted/modified push-ups and pull-ins), and maybe some cycling?
  • Making regular donations to some kind of women’s support organization like the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre, Cornerstone Housing for Women, or – provided they’re welcoming to, and supportive of, trans women/girls – an org like Vesta Recovery (addictions support) or  FitSpirit (that encourages teen girls to stay active). I’ve sent some inquiries off to see who’s on side or not, and will make some decisions from there.
  • Taking the time to make jewelry with them in mind (did this already)
  • Remembering to touch on them specifically, in addition to my other ancestors, when I make offerings (seems to be working so far?)
  • Uh… I’m open to suggestions. I don’t expect myself to take up any kind of HEMA or equestrian activities any time soon.

That said… Given that this is the first time in a month – my girlfriend’s Lady dropping by, notwithstanding – that I’ve Done Stuff that was particularly, or deliberately, religious in nature… I have to say, I’m having some Feels about my magico-religious practices. More on that in a second.

In the land of books: I finished The Hidden Life of Trees, yesterday. It’s a good book. I will probably get the coffee table version (complete with fancy photos) for one or more family members between now and 2022. I’ve got a few others by the same author out from the library, and I’m enjoying his writing. As obnoxious as this probably is, it’s kind of nice to read other white people talking about trees as communities of PEOPLE, rather than as objects or something. Like, yes, it’s embarrassing as hell that we forgot all this stuff – on purpose – a thousand+ years ago. But it’s nice to hear (some of) us – science us, even – talking about this again during a period where I can actually hear it in real time.

I love Braiding Sweetgrass. But it wasn’t written for me and, as much as I learned from it (in particular: confirmation on how to hear the answer when you ask if you can harvest someone), I also feel like I’m just one more white lady stealing Indigenous knowledge and worldview when what I read in that book influences how I live in this place and interact with everyone else who’s here.

So it’s nice to see people with a religious and social history that are closer to my own starting to pick up on, and talk about, this stuff. Even if they’d doing it from a very non-woo perspective and would probably balk at being referred to as Animists.

Also on my book list is Snapdragon, a middle-grade graphic novel that a friend of my lent me because she said it was perfect for me.

She was not wrong.

It’s a glorious story, full of queer folks and kindness and the kind of witchery that reminds me of Granny Weatherwax’s boots-on-the-ground practice. I love it, and recommend it for the young queers and very baby pagans in your life.

Lastly – and still with a ways to go before it’s done – is Anatomy of a Witch. I’m doing witchy book club with the author via her patreon, and the other night we covered the “Witch Bones” chapter, which deals a lot with structure.

You guys. Structure is something I feel like I’ve been lacking, the past little while. Maybe the past LONG while.

A long time ago – like 2013 – I had a LOT of time on my hands. Which was great. I made a point of treating every Friday as my day to Hearth Stuff and study Pagan Things. At the time, that meant exploring my own (still developing – always eveloping) cosmology and axiology through the Pagan Blog Project and reading books like Trance-Portation and Earth Path, while my altar candles were lit and I slow-cooked something slightly fancy and substantial in the oven (or the crock pot).

I’ve missed that for a long time, but in the past year and a bit – since I started working longer hours (and in a context that – unlike figure modeling – doesn’t give me hours of contemplation time while on the job) – I’ve been feeling it even more.

I’ve typically tried to avoid making Sundays my day to Do Religious Stuff – because I grew up Christian, and I want to kind of distance myself from those practices – but on some level that feels silly when I do have the option of choosing which days I devote to magical practices and cultivating my connections with my Deities, my Dead, and the local People of my bioregion. I have Sundays to myself, most weeks, and it would feel good to add some reliable Practice Time back into my life.

So here we are.

My altars are lit – including a votive candle for my recently deceased aunt. I’ve (finally) been to the Summer Stone to make my High Summer offering[1]. I’ve walked around the house with an incense stick (myrrh, in this case, because it smells nice and I associate it with embalming – thanks Chirstian Upbringing – so it seemed appropriate to do when I was fresh-lighting a votive for a new ancestor). I made three dozen beeswax tea lights, which should hold me for a little while. Long enough, at least, for it to get reliably cool enough to be able to bash up my next Giant Block of Beeswax without having to chill it in the fridge first.

It feels good.

It felt good to tidy the altar a little (just a little), to take the previous offerings (finally) off and add something new. To restock on candles – seriously, my actual corn-welcoming ritual with Connect DC? I had to scrounge in my supply cabinet to get enough candles to light my altar, and now I have enough to get through another 2-3 offerings. So it feels good to have that done again. It felt good to walk down to the Summer Stone and leave a slice of cake on a rhubarb leaf[2]. It feels good to be taking some time, right now, to update this blog and think about my practice a little more.

I think it will be worth it to give a bit more of my time to this – blogging; reading Suffering For Spirit and Spritual Mentoring: A Pagan Guide, and Of Blood and Bones; doing ritual, spellcraft, and energy work; taking time to wade in the river and stroll through the woods – every week.

~*~

Tarot Meditation:

My house-guest shuffled my deck this morning, just for something to do with their hands. I broke the deck where it had a natural shift and the cards I pulled for my waning moon tarot meditiaton were:

The Eight of Water and The Moon.

Given that we spent last evening talking about me missing having a “performance ready” voice, and continuing to feel some guilt and shame around having dropped my singing practice (20 years ago…), and given the throat-chakra blockage that my girlfriend spent some time helping me try to clear last weekend, I am inclined to read this as: “It’s time to let go of the shame crap that’s skulking around in your Hidden Depths. Time to just let it go and wash it away.”

~*~

Movement: I spent a significant chunk of last night doing Mime Exercises for body-alignment. My house-guest – an actual Mime, yes for real – was impressed that I didn’t appear to have any blockages along my spine. I don’t know what to tell you. Also trying to become more aware of how I’m breathing at any given time, without resorting to anti-panic breathing right away. Trying to remember how to do Singers’ Breath – a much more subtle movement, obviously. Took a long-ish walk out to the library and back.

Attention: This is maybe a weird one. I’m trying to direct my attention away from Work Stuff, and away from The Computer (or at least the internet) more broadly, so that I can better make time for (and be present during) leisure activities, personal enrichment, and art. (Yes, I’m aware that it’s odd for me to be saying this while literally typing a blog post to put on the internet, but just go with it).

Gratitude: Grateful for the chance to see my girlfriend again. Grateful for quiet time (at last) and a planned Date Night with my wife. Grateful for getting to see my relatives (and all the supports that came together to let that happen). Grateful for my laundry machines. Grateful for the lives that have touched mine. Grateful for my friends who I’m able to see more frequently (if cautiously) now. Grateful for wild fruit, for purple-tinged crow feathers, for all the numerous people who show up to do my dishes. Grateful for metamours who lend us their cars. Grateful for libraries. Grateful for polyamoury. Grateful for all the love that’s carrying me through this life.

Inspiration: Tiktok videos. The books I’ve been reading. The dedication of my sweeties and friends.

Creation: Outside of recipes, this blog post is the first non-work thing I’ve created in A While. I did set aside a little bit of time, yesterday, to edit some poetry though. So that feels a bit like progress.

TTFN,

Ms Syren / Meliad the Birch Maiden

[1] Yes, that was “supposed” to get done almost a month ago, but it took this long for the heat to break enough for me to be willing to turn the oven on again. So I did it today. Put on my amazonite-and-moonstone necklace – the one I made to honour the Amazons and my other queer aunties of blood and spirit – baked a coffee cake, said Hello to the sunflowers (which are blooming their heads off) down by the bike path, and left a slice of cake on the Summer Stone as a Late Lammas/Nemoralia gift to the local Land Folk. Not a terrible way to spend Pride Weekend in Ottawa, it has to be said.

[2] My rhubarb is not doing super great, I have to admit. I’m not sure what to feed it – other than water. But I think some top dressing with blood meal and – if I can find some – mulch for Autumn is going to be in order.

New Moon – Harvest Moon Begins – Mabon 2020 (Season Of The Witch)

A collection of orange, tan, and white winter squash, topped with a handful of apples, and cast in dramatic shadow. Image by AlreadyExist, via Wiki Free Images

A collection of orange, tan, and white winter squash, topped with a handful of apples, and cast in dramatic shadow. Image by AlreadyExist, via Wiki Free Images


 
I harvested the three globe zucchini that I’d left on the vine to ripen fully. They are striped orange and pale yellow, and look like pie pumpkins (though I’m expecting them to have a texture more like spaghetti squash).
I’ve been making bread again (finally) and candles for my altar (finally) and doing a little bit of sigil magic (finally), and feel like I’m a bit more on top of the CSA situation. My freezers are marvelously full, and so are my fridge and my pantry.
I feel weirdly proud of this, considering how little work – relative to other years – went into it all. But I feel safe and snug – like a squirrel in my cozy creche, knowing I have plenty of nuts stored away and knowing, too, that there are a few more weeks before the ground freezes and the ice on the puddles signals the end of the gathering season.
 
I spent New Moon observing Rosh Hashanah at a friend’s house. Sometimes I feel like contemporary paganism mirrors Judaism – maybe that’s Starhawk’s influence, or maybe it’s the whole Kitchen Table Religion thing, or maybe it’s just that Ashkenazi Jewish traditions developed over hundreds of years in central and northern Europe, where apples would have been a readily available sweet taste with-which to ring in the new year – but it made me smile that mine wasn’t the only religion spending the Autumn Equinox (this year, at least) with shared apples and celebration.
 

 

 
These two tweets crossed my feed at very different times – a solid three weeks apart – but they both have me asking myself “What is Mabon to ME?”
I mean, yes, definitely, the Harvest Moon kicks off the Season of the Witch in a way that feels very in line with my own recent magical workings. But the beginning of Harvest Moon doesn’t always coincide as closely with the Equinox as it did this year.
 
In my neck of the woods, Mabon is definitely a Harvest Festival, and one that I do associate with fruit. Even when most of my wild-harvesting (crab apples, choke cherries, wild antique apples) happens much earlier in September, the local pears are ready to harvest any time between Labour Day and Thanks Giving, so… it fits.
But I also associate Mabon with rest. With the glut of the harvest (or, in my case, the CSA) calming down enough to keep up with, and with the temperatures falling enough that I’m no-longer loathe to turn on the oven.
 
If Lamas is a time for barbecues and musk melon and corn on the cob, for Big Manifesting Energy, for offerings of blueberry Welsh Cakes wrapped in foil and baked in the campfire coals, for the first heady flush of the (hopefully) long and heavy harvest (beans, summer squash, eggplants, and tomatoes, oh my!); if Samhain is a time for candles and ancestors, for freezer orders of pork and lamb, for dumb suppers and offerings of liver mousse, seared heart, and maple whisky, for winter squash stuffed with kasha and braised tongue, then what falls between them is this:
 
A point of pause.
The place where Libra’s scales balance like light and dark.
You could even call it Intermission.
 
If you’re familiar with the Wildwood Tarot, you’ll know that – by their calendar – this is the Season of Cups. The moment where the Hanged Man finds her new perspective as the Lady of the Lake.
 
Sometimes I think of Mabon as the Witches’ Thanks Giving.
The part of the triple harvest where we have the opportunity slow it down, celebrate, acknowledge, and express our gratitude – to and with each other, to and with the ground that provides for us – to ask “What have you harvested this year? What has come to fruition?”
 
Last night, I did a Fancy Dinner – by my standards of fancy, at least. Brussels Sprouts steamed then pan-fried in butter, maple syrup, and a little whiskey; pork tenderloin slow-roasted over a mix of onion, golden & chiogia beets, celery, carrots, mushrooms, and kholrabi; served with a white wine and with the altar candles lit up.
That feels like an appropriate Mabon meal, and the left-overs will be diced into a stew tomorrow.
But tonight – mostly because we have them and they need to be eaten up – our Actual Mabon Meal is going to be way more remeniscent of Lamas: Grilled burgers + corn on the cob.
But I have apples baking in the oven, filling the house with slow heat and delicious smells, and that’s not nothing. My hands are soft with butter and my heart is full.
 
~*~
 
Something else I should mention.
We woke up on New Moon to discover that one of our birds, Matilda – our little blue and white budgie – had died in the night. It looked like she had a peaceful death. Just went to sleep and stopped. But it was a sad day.
We buried her today, under the cedar tree in our front yard.
I planted a mulberry next to her and we’ll see what grows in spring.
 
~*~
 

Two of Cups - Cristy C Road - Next World Tarot - Two sweeties embrace on a beach, clearly besotted with one another

Two of Cups – Cristy C Road – Next World Tarot – Two sweeties embrace on a beach, clearly besotted with one another


 
In keeping with my usual lunar practice, I shuffled one of my tarot decks – Cristy C Road’s Next World Tarot – and let a card jump out for me.
What I got was the Two of Cups.
Heh.
Okay, I know. The two of cups means a whole bunch of things. But my decks tend to be real literal too, and it’s not weird that on a day where I’m writing both about beginnings and the season of cups, that this is the card that came up.
That being said.
As a tarot card meditation this is a reminder that love shows up, that romance is real, that we balance each other in all the ways we need.
It was a good card to pull, and one I’ll try to keep in my heart as the days get darker.
 
~*~
 
Movement: Early evening walks with my wife. Moon Saluations every night (except two days ago, and you guys, I am still feeling it). Squats. Carrying heavy groceries home today.
 
Attention: Trying to stay on top of the vegetables. (Already) Looking for work to take on once my year-long contract wraps up at the end of March. Eying what to expect in my impending CSA delivery so that I can plan a little bit for how to deal with it. Looking forward to the sex magic class I’m taking tomorrow evening.
 
Gratitude: Thankful for my sweeties. For celebrations with friends. For getting to do long-distance ritual over the internet. For pals who jump at the chance to perform kinky poetry to a small and select audience. For snuggles with my wife. For tarot readings and hot tea on the back deck with my friend. For new-to-me house wares. For energy work with my girlfriend. For a warm house and a full larder. For the life of our Matilda and the company we kept.
 
Inspiration: The season of cups. The work of other femmes. The new moon setting. Jupiter and Saturn rising in the eastern sky. My fabric stash and soothing sewing videos on youtube that remind me what I want to make next.
 
Creation: Wrote a new glosa today, and finished another. I am so freaking close, you guys. I know, I know, the work has only just begun. But I’m still excited about getting Phase One of this project officially completed! Also: I made another mask.
 

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.

Some is Better than None – Carbon Emissions Edition

Conifer Seedlings sprouting in the undergrowth. McCloud River Trail - Shasta-Trinity National Forest - June 2017. Photographed by Carol Underhill, via Wiki Free Images.

Conifer Seedlings sprouting in the undergrowth. McCloud River Trail – Shasta-Trinity National Forest – June 2017. Photographed by Carol Underhill, via Wiki Free Images.

Well, folks, I’ve said this more than once. “Some is better than none”.
Buying the organic, fair trade coffee, or the milk in the one-litre glass bottles, some of the time is better than not buying it at all.
Bringing your cloth bags to the grocery store some of the time (and, okay, opting for paper bags when you don’t) is better than never bringing them at all.
Walking/biking/busing to work some of the time is better than never doing it at all.
Making offerings to, and checking in with, your gods eight times a year is better than never doing it at all.
Today I took another “some is better than none” step.
As I’ve mentioned before, we have a car. It’s not a functional car, but we’re hopeful that my wife can get it up and running in time for her to have a commuter vehicle by the time the roads get icy late next Fall. We have a motorcycle. We have drafty windows. I take two round-trip flights to DC every year, and would like to up that number by at least one more.
We don’t have solar panels or super-amazing insulation or geothermal heating.
I used this carbon calculator and, where I didn’t have the information on hand, looked up provincial averages for things like how many kilowatt-hours (electricity) or cubic-meters (natural gas furnace) we probably go through in a year.
According to that calculator, it would take 52 trees a full thirty years (it’s always thirty years for this calculator, the number of trees just changes) to absorb ONE year of my household’s average carbon emissions – assuming I took that extra flight and we got the car working as a daily driver.

So I signed up to sponsor the planting of five trees per month through Tree Canada.

It will run me $20/month to “plant” 60 trees per year to help offset my household carbon footprint.
I say “help” because there’s no guarantee that those 60 trees won’t be harvested before the 30-year “neutralization date”. (Because I’m brilliant, and didn’t realize that I could do this specifically for their “Grow Clean Air” program where the trees aren’t harvested for a minimum of 30 years, I am now emailing Tree Canada to find out if I can switch that up and pay $30/month – instead of $20 – to have that little bit of assurance/insurance).

So.
Some is better than none.
Why I am saying that about this step?

Well… Look. I know this is monoculture. I… suspect that what will be planted in my name is basically a lumber plantation, and even if it’s not that, it won’t be anywhere near the kind of mixed species perennial food forest that was here before my own people turned up with intentions of taking over. I know this nonprofit, while it’s its own entity, is also heavily sponsored by the government of Canada (and by a particular oil company with a long-standing baaaaaaad reputation).
So I suspect that this is me underpinning/sponsoring the Canadian Lumber Industry and, by extension, the continued colonization[1] of indigenous lands, just as much as it’s me trying to over-compensate (just barely) for the amount of fossil fuels I burn in my furnace, my (as-yet-impending, but added to the calculation) car, plus all the buses and airplanes I ride in a given year, and the amount of non-renewable energy used to generate the electricity that powers this laptop, my overhead lights, my fridge, my stove, and my chest freezer.
I hope I’m wrong about that.
But I would feel… dishonest, where I to presume that “my” 60 trees per year didn’t have a date with a logging company already set for thirty years from now.

So. I may not love it. I may feel more than a little ambivalent about it. But it’s also SOMETHING. And something is better than nothing, so I’ve done it.

If you would like to do something similar, you can follow the links in the post and/or you can do the other thing that I do, which is spread native tree seeds in urban areas. Think choke cherries, over-ripe service berries, and other native understory trees, that will be able to grow and thrive in the relatively shaded environment of disturbed urban earth (alleyways, tree medians, the shadows of larger trees, right around the rain-line at the edge of their canopies).

TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

[1] What I mean by that: Right now, Canada – as both a governing body and a nation – doesn’t actually have legal right to most of the land it occupies and from-which it harvests natural resources. So we’re technically steeling most of the lumber we harvest. Which, at best, is just monumentally embarrassing. But we are not at the “at best” level right now.

New Moon – Harvest Moon Begins (and Grows) – Season of the Witch

“Winter Squash” – Photo by Sheila Sund, via Wiki Media Commons. Three winter squash – butternut, sweet dumpling, and buttercup – are to the left of the image, dramatically lit from the right, on an otherwise bare surface, against a black backdrop.


 
The mornings are down in the single digits these days, and the nights are hovering around freezing. The back yard is full of blooming New England asters (the purple kind) and, while nothing’s been knocked down by frost just yet (to my surprise), I know it’s coming. We turned the furnace on today and have extra blankets on the bed.
Autumn is so very, very here.
 
We’re slipping towards Root Time pretty quickly now. The leaves are turning. I have bunches of mugwort, yellow mustard (seed pods, in the latter case), sage, and thyme hanging in the kitchen to finish drying. We opened a bottle of Sortilege (a month earlier than I would have, if I hadn’t hidden said bottle away late last April), and I made an offering with the first glass of it to kick off the Season of the Witch.
It’s getting towards introspection season – although, realistically, that’s all year long if you’re me – and, like a lot of people, I’ve got a lot of stuff on my mind.
 
I went to the Climate Justice Rally the other day – and felt less useless for having gone, I have to admit, though I wasn’t expecting that. I keep looking at my somewhat feral yard, where – when we moved in, five years ago (just about exactly), I had hoped to plant a riot of winter squash, rather like the ones displayed in the photo at the top of this post, along with lots of perennial fruits and herbs.
I keep looking at it and wondering “Have I done right by you?”
 
Because, as I keep lamenting, I’m not doing very well at this vegetable gardening thing.
But my yard is a tiny ecosystem. Squirrels and rats (alas), a skunk and a rabbit, a family of raccoons, a semi-feral cat, and a lot of starlings and sparrows (and the odd bluebird, crow, cardinal) have our yard as part of their territory. The back patio is under-pinned (or destabilized, maybe) by a few different kinds of ants. There are spiders, wasps (parasitic and otherwise), two kinds of solitary bee, a few different kinds of butterfly, centipedes, pill bugs, ladybugs, slugs (alas) and snails, and earthworms the thickness of my finger. Between what I grow on purpose, what my neighbour grows on purpose, and what I just allow to grow wild, as it will, we’ve got about half the number of unique plant species that one would find in a healthy tall grass prairie represented and thriving between the front and the back yards of our little row of townhouses. And that’s something I’m proud of.
“Have I done right by you?”
 
The ground is so literal.
I like to think that the offerings of home-made beeswax candles, fresh bread and (not home-made) butter, maple whiskey, and sometimes other tasty things, are appreciated and enjoyed. (Certainly the squirrels like the bread, if that’s any indication).
But I kind of suspect that the compost heap, with its regular additions of coffee grounds, toilet paper tubes, stewed bones, vegetable peelings, and human hair, is more helpful (and more wanted) in the long run. That thinning the Himalayan Balsam so that the Crane’s Bill and Turtlehead had room to grow, but leaving enough of it for the bees to visit, and sowing white clover and wildflower seeds (after thinning out the grass, golden rod, and dog-strangling-vine), probably matter more to my Lady of Earth and my Lady of the Meadow than whether or not I managed to cultivate a lot of winter squash in any given year, even when my Lady of the Meadow is also the winter squash and the raspberries (which consistently refuse to fruit, even now).
“Have I done right by you?”
 
It’s harvest time. The squirrels have already dug up (and gnawed upon) the narcissus bulbs given to us by a friend. The two pounds of carrots I brought home from the grocery store a week or two ago are waterlogged and not doing so well, and I’m having The Feels about food waste. Again. The dill seed heads I harvested went moldy (because I didn’t dry them well enough and didn’t store them right). I still haven’t harvested crab apples, even though I walked by a tree loaded with them twice this past week. I feel wasteful rather than abundant.
“Have I done right by you?”
 
I shuffle the deck by my computer – the Next World, which isn’t the deck I’d usually use for this. The Chariot falls out. The Three of Cups almost jumps with it. I shuffle and shuffle. Look longingly at the Three of Cups, Nine of Cups, now layered one on top of the other at the very bottom of my deck. Pull a card off the top and it’s The Sun.
I want to take that as a Yes.
I want this to be true:
 

 
One of the other reasons why I was asking if I’ve done right by the land I live on is that we found out, just about a month ago, that the building we live in has been put up for sale.
It’s terrifying.
Not least of why being that we’re barely able to cover the bills we have now, and housing – across the city, not just in the neighbourhood we’ve lived in for over a decade and want to stay in – is running $400-$700 more expensive per month than we can handle.
I think about moving, and I just get a tight chest, churning stomach, racing thoughts, and nothing actually useful done. I sob my eyes out thinking that we’ll be this house’s last family and that life is going to stay (financially) hard for the foreseeable.
It’s awful.
I’ve been looking for an anchor income for a while now, but I’m kind upping the search because, if we’re going to afford to live, well, anywhere by the time this unusually-affordable rental house is yanked out from under us, I’m going to need to be SURE that I can show up with at least $800/month to put towards housing and utilities.
 
Sometimes I think that planning to move in the spring is putting the cart before the horse. We have to be able to afford to move before we can actually do so. (At least… I hope that’s how it works out). TBH, I’ve spent a lot of the past four weeks – when I’m not job-hunting or canning or cleaning or writing poetry or doing paid work – wondering how to get myself focused enough to determine What I Really Want, specifically so that I can work some magic towards those ends.
A lot of the past year has been working on the “art” and “sex” elements of my Empress Project. But the Empress, as much as she is VERY MUCH about creativity and sensuality, is also about abundance and stability and I think I need to spend some time (energy, attention, Work) leaning into those aspects.
I wonder to myself what I can offer in exchange for help getting the kind of moderately flexible, very-part-time office/remote-assistant job I’m looking for and what, should I actually secure said job, I can offer on top of that (or after that) to secure the kind of living space we want (2 bedrooms, laundry on site, no pests, ideally with gardening space and a big kitchen, pets A-okay), in any of the neighbourhoods we want, at a price we can afford long-term even if the rent goes up every year.
I keep thinking of Ms Sugar’s long-ago Thoughts on Blood As A Sometimes Food.
I keep thinking of… I think it’s T. Thorn Coyle’s book Sigil Magic where she talks about how doing ritual isn’t the same as doing magic any more than emoting or obsessing about something is the same as working your Will. I keep thinking about how I rarely have any idea if what I’m doing is actually going to get off the ground, let alone get results, let alone-alone get the kind of results I actually want.
Which, like, doesn’t help me actually have the confidence to try spellworking for this stuff, you know?
 
Regardless – and I will surely come back to the above more than once over the coming winter – in my most recent fit of “I don’t know what to dooooooooooo!!!” I did what I tend to do in times of trouble and uncertainty, and started pulling tarot cards.
(Basically, I don’t necessarily even shuffle anything, I just grab the deck and split it at random points).
This is the spread I used.
 
What do I need to think about: The Chariot
What do I need to do: The Eight of Cups
What is my challenge: The Knight of Pentacles
What is my secret weapon: The Four of Wands

 
I tend to read The Chariot as “get up / wake up, and go”. A card about taking action. And it is. But it’s very specifically a card about working one’s will to achieve one’s goals. It’s a card about doing, sure. But it’s also a card about doing magic.
 
The Eight of Cups is typically a card of “mourn and move on”. It’s a card that touches on burnout and anxiety, for sure. And one that suggests leaning into spiritual growth and personal truth, as well. But it’s most often (for me, at least) a card about grieving and letting go, about tying up loose ends and walking away.
 
The Knight of Earth (I can find a picture of the Next World Tarot’s take on the Knight of Pentacles, but there are lots of options out there) is a solid character. But, in the position of a “challenge”, their slow-and-steady nature turns to “afraid to take risks” or “pessimistic” or “keeps themself (too) small”.
 
As for the Four of Wands, for me, it’s always been a card about Community. Participation. Joyful interaction. Strengthening the web of relationships that one is part of. It’s also, however, a card that feels, one the one hand, like the opposite of the Knight of Pentacles’ more challenging aspects – “looking forward expectantly”, “letting go of limitations”, and “opening to new possibilities” – while, on the other, being almost the flip-side of the coin to the Eight of Cups – “getting out of an oppressive situation”, “reflecting on accomplishments”, and “breaking free of bonds”. There’s also an aspect of this card that pertains to taking part in a ritual or rite, although I tend to think that’s more about things like weddings or milestone birthdays (like my upcoming 40th, ye gods…) than, like, solo magical workings in my bathtub. None the less. >.>
 
What do I need to think about: Taking action physically and magically.
What do I need to do: Mourn the (impending, as-yet-unscheduled) loss of this house, and move on (literally as well as figuratively).
What is my challenge: Doing the leg work without getting frozen into inaction due to fear and risk-aversion. Not losing sight of the good stuff over the horizon just because things feel (VERY) precarious right now. Avoiding despair while job- and neighbourhood- hunting in late-stage capitalism and an increasingly expensive city.
What is my secret weapon: My people. My hope. My resistance.
 
I want to keep these cards – these four, and The Sun – in mind as my tarot card meditaiton during this waxing moon. To get’er done without losing sight of my worth and without giving up my arts-oriented work (modeling as a career, and poetry as an a/vocation). To keep making art and magic, possibly in combination. To remember that I’m not entirely powerless. To accept the joy when it comes.
 
~*~
Movement: Not nearly enough. Short, dynamic poses during modeling gigs. Walking all over the place. But that’s about it. I think there needs to be more dancing in my life.
 
Attention: Unsurprisingly? Sniffing around as to what housing costs in which neighbourhoods in town. Keeping an eye on the job boards. Watching the garden for the inevitable frost that will knock a lot of it down (at which-point, it’s clean-up time).
 
Gratitude: Thankful, however ruefully, for the neighbours and friends who brought up having seen the listing for our building on the national real estate website, and for the landlords for not denying it when we brought it up. For library books. For quiet evenings in. For a furnace that works. For clean water that comes right out of the tap. For the tool library. For friends who check in. For slow mornings with my wife. For my girlfriend’s impending (mere days away!) visit. For the upcoming weekend-long kink convention we’ll be attending. For hand-me-down clothes that fit and look good on me. For kindness. For hope.
 
Inspiration: Ongoing climate disaster and housing insecurity, because it’s an ill wind, apparently. :-\ Outside of that, Mabon and related seasonal changes and astrological events, plus the poets of Hustling Verse and also those in my extended circle of queer, polyamourous chosen families. It’s a good place to be.
 
Creation: I wrote two new glosas! I wrote them yesterday! I’m so excited! 😀 😀 😀 I really hope I can keep this up! 😀 Fingers crossed!

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.