Tag Archives: ritual

New Year New You 2018 (2019) – Week Thirteen: Sacrifice

I’m (once again) doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. It’s a good mix of practical, magical, and thought-based exercises to help accomplish specific and significant change in your own life. If it’s relevant to your interests, give it a try!
 
Instructions: [Make] A meaningful sacrifice to your Powers That Be […]. You and your PTB will know best what that is for you. Think on it.
 

Osho Zen Tarot - 8 of Major Arcana - Courage - A daisy pushing up through the concrete.

Osho Zen Tarot – 8 of Major Arcana – Courage – A daisy pushing up through the concrete.


 
Dark Days Tarot - Eight of Cups - A ten-limbed woman sits, cross-legged. Each of her eight arms holds a wine glass. She cries, and the glasses empty and re-fill, with the waxing and waning of the moon overhead.

Dark Days Tarot – Eight of Cups – A ten-limbed woman sits, cross-legged. Each of her eight arms holds a wine glass. She cries, and the glasses empty and re-fill, with the waxing and waning of the moon overhead.


 
Tarot Card(s): Strength + The Eight of Cups
I chose Strength – and this version of it, specifically – because it’s a strength that exists in vulnerability and trust. It’s not a card about brute force. In the more traditional rendering, the lion and the lady both have to trust each other in order to share that space together, and there’s a certain amount of coaxing going on. On a related note, this variation from the Silicon Dawn carries a reminder that risks and challenges are a thing we can choose, rather than something that gets shoved at us by the universe. We can decide to be brave and Do The Thing.
As for the Eight of Cups… The Osho Zen version is maybe more explicit in its meaning. A sacrifice is a letting-go. An offering up, or a rendering unto, in order to make room for a rebirth.
 
So. Week Thirteen. As-you-know-bob, the thought of Giving Something Up is not my favourite thought in the world. It’s easy to get het up about austerity when you already never go out because you’re perma-broke and you already avoid rash behaviour because everything feels – and sometimes is – so precarious. Miss Sugar’s a big fan of (temporary) material austerities as a form of sacrifice and… I’m not going to knock it, because apparently it tends to do the job.
But, kids, I hate it.
And – possibly for this reason – I don’t tend to do it in order to the attention of my deities. Eating more veggies or drinking less alcohol or moving my body more frequently is stuff I’m doing more for my own sake than anything else. Buying the more-expensive-because-it’s-more-ethical coffee is something I do (when I can – right now I’m swinging between the store-brand Organics coffee that’s $18/kg and the stuff that’s $18/340g but uses part of the proceeds to install water-filtration systems in homes on Reserves) because I want to be the kind of person who Makes Reparations (um… at all) and thinks about fair wages for farm staff instead of just thinking “Mmm, coffee” when I’m at the grocery store. I walk away from the internet for an afternoon, or don’t turn on my computer for the first two hours of my day, because I’ve got chores or writing to get done and I know myself well enough to know that I won’t do them if I have access to social media.
 
So. What is a sacrifice, in my case?
 
Well, it’s got to be said that I had a bit of a penny-drop moment while I was griping about how rarely I take risks because of fear (around money, around heartache, you name it).

This whole project is about “the sex-and-sensuality, certainty, abundance, inter-connectedness, and unapologetic embodiment of the Empress”.
So how the heck am I supposed to open my hands/heart to welcome in all that stuff if I’m too busy clenching them into fists, clinging to risk-averse behaviours, fearful assumptions, and other crud that’s cluttering up my brain?

 
I wrote about this over here, but the gist is that I need to give up some detrimental behaviours and patterns, in order to invite in, and make room for, all of that lovely Empress Stuff.
 
Is it a sacrifice?
Debatable.
It’s more of a “letting go” than a “giving up” but… it’s difficult. It’s hard work to dig into those habits and behaviours and sort out where they’re anchored and how to undo those knots and let them go. It’s hard work to lean into the discomfort, fear, and even just the awkwardness, of opening, loosening, freeing myself up and trying (and trying, and trying) new behaviours on when they still feel dangerous or doomed-to-failure. (I’m legitimately wondering if this is why I’ve been so tired lately, tbh…)
So… I’m willing to call this a sacrifice, even if I’m not sure anyone else would see it that way.
 
Recognizing that… this is going to be an on-going thing, an entire process of giving up and letting go (and re-filling with something else that’s better for me), I did a whole ritual/ceremonial Thing to kind of kick things off.
 
There was a bath – because me. There was a circle-casting (of a sort) and candles and a red[1] bath bomb that smelled like raspberries[2]. There was anointing my delta of venus with my signature perfume. There was a bunch of tantric-esque breath-work to raise some energy and to ritualistically breathe out all of the stuff I want to let go of. There was head-over-heart-over-hips breathing and stating affirmations while doing leg-extension & hip-flexibility exercises[3] (in the bath, because apparently I can live dangerously, on occasion). There was, somewhat unexpectedly but definitely relevantly, reaching out to my maternal ancestor line to talk to my great-great-grandmother about trauma survival and t tell her that I’m really glad we all got to exist, but also that I’m sorry she was raped and that it wasn’t her fault and she didn’t do anything to deserve it[4]. There was letting the water out, opening the circle, putting out the candles, drying myself off, and then slathering myself with cocoa-butter[5].
 
It was a good ceremony. It’s probably one that I’ll have to repeat intermittently. And it’s definitely an “in addition to” (rather than “in lieu of”) the breath work stuff I’m doing around my root chakra a few times a day (it’s not exactly a mindfulness exercise, but it’s… in that neighbourhood).
Here’s hoping I can continue to blow away the old habits in order to make space for the new ones.
Wish me luck.
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Red for my own Red Lady, my goddess of sex and dance and standing your ground (among numerous other things), whose help I definitely need with this.
 
[2] My Maiden goddess, who I don’t write a tonne about, I realize (sorry), has a link to raspberries. For Reasons. She’s also curious, polyamourous, confident, and adventurous. So having something to invoke her and invite her behaviours into me was… pretty relevant.
 
[3] Bonus information: My hips actually are more flexible – and my lower-back muscles are stronger – than they were a year ago! The exercises are working! Mwahahahaha!
 
[4] Because you all needed that information dropped on you, without notice, today. Sorry. Talking about it cause weird, tight feelings in my chest that aren’t panic-related, and I supposed we’ll find out what that’s about at some point in the future? Who knows.
 
[5] The stuff I did up with cinnamon oil (possibly not the wisest choice) and sweet orange oil and ylang ylang with the express purpose of making a sex-balm massage bar to use with various partners and – apparently – on myself in situations like this.

Full Moon – Frost Moon Crests

"Frozen" - Photo by Doryana02 - Courtesy of Wiki Free Images - Dry grass stalks covered in ice (freezing rain), surrounded by snow.

“Frozen” – Photo by Doryana02 – Courtesy of Wiki Free Images – Dry grass stalks covered in ice (freezing rain), surrounded by snow.


 
The Full Moon was technically yesterday. The sun is low, low in the sky by 4pm, and Winter has definitely arrived.
In the past two weeks, we’ve gone from “a dusting of snow” and temperatures where it didn’t matter (much) that my big, leather coat is still missing a button and needs its button holes tightened to full-on WINTER with a foot of snow already on the ground, bitter winds, and -16C (before wind chill) temperatures. It’s both Very Unpleasant (because everything takes longer to get to – a 45-minute walk is now an hour, for example, because the snow clings to my boots, and is slippery, and both of those things slow me down) and kind of a weird relief, because this the kind of fast drop into winter that I remember from around when I was ten (but not when I was 17 – when it would get quite cold, but there wouldn’t be much snow…) We’ll see what Climate Chaos has in store in terms of zig-zagging temperatures, though, as this week continues on.
I admit that the weather has me thinking ahead to Midwinter, sending a Solstice Letter off to this project and planning out what I want to do as the Season of the Witch (two weeks left!) turns over into the Season of the Hag just as Long Nights Moon in born.
One of the things I’m thinking of is ritual. As in something a little more involved than the (approximately) weekly ritual of lighting candles and saying Hello to my gods and ancestors on (usually) Friday nights, or the quick greetings I send, like text messages to the great beyond, when I pass the ancestor photos on the stairs, see the moon come up, feel the sun on my face, take out the compost, brush past a hawthorn/rowan/sumac/cherry tree, or cross the street.
I’m thinking of something that maybe feels a little bit more like church, if I can put it that way.
 
See, I did something this year that I haven’t done in a long time.
Technically, the specific thing was something I haven’t done before, ever. But, more broadly, it’s something I haven’t done in a long time. Like I said, my usual offerings are done… pretty lackadaisically. I light up my altar candles, pour some boiled water into a cup, say Hi to everybody, and then go and do my own thing while the offering candles burn down. Beyond that, “ritual” tends to be more like “ceremony” and tends to be very me-focused. All those magically-infused baths and tarot meditations.
There isn’t anything wrong with this, BUT it’s been a long time since I did something that felt more like “church” and less like “therapy” in a ritual context. It’s been a long time since I did something group-based, too.
I recently spent nine days – okay, eight days, ‘cause I was late starting (typical…) – taking part in an Ancestor ritual that’s open to pretty-much anyone who wants to participate. It’s an Ancestor Elevation ritual to give comfort and honour to the trans folks who’ve died this past year, and in years gone by. It’s done in relation to TDoR.
 
I have to tell you. I initially felt a little bit weird doing it. Like I was imposing or something. If the website hadn’t literally said “you don’t have to be trans to take part in this” I probably wouldn’t have done it. But I’m glad I had the opportunity, and I’m glad I took it. (And I’m also glad that I finished it).
 
This next bit IS going to be very me-focused.
 
I appreciate the container that the specifics of the ritual provided. That there were elements that were important/necessary to include (and that, by having everyone include them, builds a certain amount of cohesion across rituals that are being done privately or in small, unconnected groups). But I also appreciated the amount of freedom available within that container. It meant that I didn’t have to be sitting there with my computer on, reading Prayer 7 of 22 off the screen, but could make it my own.
 
Mostly what I did was choose a piece from the book I was adding to the altar that particular night, read it to anyone who happened to be listening, add it to the altar, and then do some singing. No lyrics. Just energy offered through sound. Music’s good for offerings. It can be soothing and uplifting by turns, if that’s where you want it to go.
I hope it helped.
 
Some nights, I did the ritual with my wife, but mostly it was just me. I’ll be putting it in my (newly arrived) date book, so that I can do it again next year. It feels good to do something to mark the occasion that is meant to help the people who were killed or died by suicide[1].
 
And so here we are.
And now I’m thinking about ritual as a thing that is a container. I’m thinking about it as a way to direct my actions outside of my own (sliiiiiiiiiiiightly neglected) self-improvement projects. I’m thinking “What kind of ancestor do I want to be?[2]”… And I’m thinking about what I want to do with the impending darkest time of the year.
I’m thinking about doing actions on a theme – dark, cold, shadows – Could I follow the Fool’s Journey down into the dark, where the Sun shows up on December 20th, Judgement on the Solstice, and The World the night of my big celebration? How can I relate The Fool, the Magician, the High Priestess, the Empress AND the Emperor, the Heirophant, and The Lovers to questions around what is Darkness, when do I need it (contemplation, drawing inward, root time, introvert-time, self-care[3]) and when do I need to bring in the light (hope, offering support, SADD stuff, both seeking and offering guidance)?
Just as a for-instance.
 
For now, I’m still chewing on it. It might end up being a card-a-day draw, and trying to see how the card relates to a theme I want to explore that week. It might end up being something super-basic like dropping off socks and soap to a couple of drop-ins around the neighbourhood and inviting people in for comfort food once a week.
We’ll see where it takes me.
 
~*~
 

Ace of Bows – “The Spark of Life” – Wildwood Tarot – A bow and arrow hover in a clearing, the friction of the arrow against the bow-string sparking a new flame in the side of a fallen log.


 
So. My tarot card meditation for today is the Ace of Bows. The roots of fire. Which is hilarious given that it’s such a Midsummer card, but here we are.
This is a card about creative projects and fresh starts, sure. But it’s also a card about directing your energy, about seeing things through, about “Give’r!”. It’s a card that says “JFC, Meliad. Write something for your novel. November’s almost over.”
However – appropriately to both the multi-day ritual I just finished and the impending darkest dark of the year – the Ace of Bows is also the candle in the dark. It has resonances with The Star, in the sense that it pertains to finding your own true north. What are the principals that guide you through the dark of uncertainty?
What kind of ancestor do you want to be?
Choose your actions, and make your creations, accordingly.
 
~*~
 
Movement: Only the usual walking and modeling work. I’ve been doing transcription for the past few weeks, so I’m actually moving less than is necessarily good for me. I need to remember to walk up and down my own stairs and do ten yoga poses in a row on those (many, many) days when it’s cold and awful and I don’t want to leave the house if I can avoid it.
 
Attention: I’m paying attention to the weather report. To the state of the sidewalks. Calculating how long it will take me to get from point A to point B. Watching my bank account and wondering how long the money from my transcription job will last. Watching the little white cat with the black tail who comes to our compost heap hunting for rats[4], and hoping she sticks around.
 
Gratitude: Grateful for snuggly, cozy nights with my wife. For video-based date-nights with my girlfriend. For transcription work that pays well (uh… or that will, once the cheque shows up…) and extra modeling work coming in at the last minute. Grateful that my wife and my girlfriend really like each other and want to hang out more (YAY COMPERSION!) Grateful for the neighbourhood rat catcher hanging out in our yard. Grateful for a quiet afternoon and discount hair dye, because my hair is now maroon once more, and I’m very happy about this situation. Grateful for free clothes from friends AND for places – like the GG Lit Awards (I am not a winner, just an audience-member) – to wear them. Grateful for friends who will listen to me cry. Grateful, too, for friends who feel safe and comfortable crying on my shoulder.
 
Inspiration: Really enjoying Lindsay Nixon’s Nîtisânak and Rebecca Roanhorse’s Trail of Lightning. Also drawing inspiration from – believe it or not – the snowy weather. The wind carves the snow ‘til it looks like the bottom of a sea bed (which is what we, in my neck of the woods, are living on, as it happens).
 
Creation: Not a whole heck of a lot. Lots of cooking, sure. I came up with a potentially delicious mulled-wine recipe that relies on juniper and anise hyssop (i.e.: stuff that actually grows here) for flavouring, and I’m looking forward to testing it out. Ripping out a knitting project and starting it over completely? Sure. But these days I’m barely even doing any mending, let alone creating new garments from scratch. That said, I did get some good news on the publication front a few weeks ago (more on that when the anthology comes out), which is really nice and kind of a shot in the arm.
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Which doesn’t mean this lets anybody off the hook on the front of doing actual stuff to help out, and look out for, the people who are still alive. Check in with your friends. Bring people groceries or let them use your laundry machine. If you can, give somebody a steady job. Throw money at people’s crowd-funding campaigns and Patreon accounts, and otherwise buy their work.
 
[2] See: Poem by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna Samarasinha in their book Bodymap.
 
[3] Which… I think it’s interesting that I associate The Dark with time to recharge (maybe not shocking, sleep being what it is) and time to spend on my own, just breathing, just having a bit of calm (maybe I associate light with being over-stimulated?) A thing to think about.
 
[4] The ciiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiircle of liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiife…

New Moon – Leaf Moon Begins

“Leaf Moon” might be a bit optimistic. It’s freezing rain right now.
Mercury is technically stationing direct today, but won’t be moving “forward” for another couple of days. Things are maybe feeling like they’re in a bit of a holding pattern ( Oh, hai, everything covered in ice, winter not getting the f out the door already…).
Jessica Lanyadoo, over at Hoodwitch is telling me to “Be patient, Scorpio. Trust that you’ll get where you need to go, and recognize that shoving won’t get you there any faster”. Which is relevant, in terms of my needing to keep myself moving but also needing to motivate myself in ways that feel like joy, like pleasure, like worthiness, rather than like punishment. (Sort of like this, but for everything).
Spring cleaning continues to happen. It feels like two steps forward, one step back, and it’s definitely a team effort over here, but things do feel a little bit airier, a little less close-in-on-us cluttered, a little more comfortable and clean, and that’s making a big difference. The rhubarb doesn’t seem too frost-struck (yet), and the Vietnamese garlic is poking green shoots out of the ground, and those, too, are both worth noting. My wife went out and turned the compost again. The earth is rich and black, and she says the worms are thick as fingers in there, which is wonderful to hear.
Life continues, even thrives, while the cold hangs on and the dust bunnies push me to my own snapping point.
If there’s a theme to the past few days, to the “open door” of this new moon in Aries, for me it’s find the wonder in all the little things that I have to do each day, that I choose to do each day.
(Yeah, I know. I’m talking big right now, and working for it, but we’ll see how things look in two weeks, a mo(o)nth, and when Harvest rolls around again…)
None the less, that’s my intention, my Capital-I Intention even, for this new moon: To find the wonder in the every-day, and also to charge/imbue the every-day with wonder, with magic, with holy intent. (This is maybe a tiny bit like Mother Noella Marcellino making cheese around and between calls to prayer… except also not really, but go with it).
My vacuum can still be a Besom when the new moon is in Aries, rather than Taurus. 😉
Cleaning the bathroom and doing the dishes can be the kind of kitchen magic I so often neglect (in favour of doing stuff on the stove), banishing the gunky vibes that can clog the airways in a house, or using them as a moment of calm or centering or focus, an in-breath that will move to the out-breath of social web-tightening, generative creativity, and joyful connection of one sort or another.
Find the wonder. Make it happen.
Which brings me to:
 
Tarot Card Meditation: Page of Earth

The Page of Wands from Egypt Urnash’s Tarot of the Silicon Dawn.
In this deck, “wands” in the suit of Earth, while “pentacles” is the suit of Fire.


In the Silicon Dawn deck, “wands” in the suit of Earth, while “pentacles” is the suit of Fire. Typically, it’s the other way around, which makes it a little confusing to read with, and… tbh, straight-up annoying to work with as a translator deck when I’m looking for alternate perspectives on a given reading (like the way various sixes of cups put the emphasis on such different aspects of the card). However, I still quite like the deck’s cartoonish, futuristic art work, pop-culture references, and overt sexuality, so here we are. I tend to try to find points where wands and pentacles overlap or dovetail when I’m reading with it, but put the emphasis on earth-interpretation, rather than fire-interpretation, when a wand card from this deck shows up.
Onwards!
This card, the Page of Wands Earth, is very much a “make something” kind of card. A “go exploring” / “grow and expand” card (two places where it can intersect with the playfulness of the traditionally fire-coded page of wands). It’s a “trust your process” and “trust your body” card. Which means it’s very, very relevant to all the stuff I’m trying to do, trying to remember/re-member in my day-to-day actions, trying to bring back and increase in my life.
Good job, tarot deck! Definitely noted!
 
~*~
 
Movement: The last week and a bit has involved a lot of not very dynamic sitting down. At a desk, while answering phones. My daily commute-walks were only about 15 minutes each way, which isn’t a lot when I’m used to 45-minute walks to and from modeling gigs (which, often as not, are roughly equivalent to 3-hour yoga classes, as far as physical activity goes). That said, the fire alarm went off on Friday, just before my temp job wrapped up for the week, and (after the all-clear) I walked up five flights of stairs and… was a little out of breath, and could tell my thigh muscles had been working. But that was it. I wasn’t gasping. I didn’t feel like my knees were going to give out. I didn’t feel like I was going to keel over. I felt pretty good. Which I was seriously not expecting, since I get winded walking on flat-but-icy sidewalks or taking a single flight of stairs. I think it’s because I have a bad habit of holding my breath. I have to remember that breathing deeply and steadily means that I can do more because I’m not stressing my heart and lungs. Relevant to know! Beyond that… I’ve been doing squats and side-lunges, using my upstairs banister as a support because I tend to stop myself from going as deep as I might be able to when I’m afraid I might pull something or hurt something. (Ha… There’s a metaphor in there somewhere). I also went dancing last weekend, which was lovely. Looking forward to doing more Get Bendy stretches in the morning and to this week’s modeling jobs, which should help me feel a little more limber.
 
Attention: Have to admit, I’ve been paying a lot of attention to the weather. This Unseasonable Storm we’re having, while it isn’t hitting us too hard (er, yet…) is probably going to be here for a little while. Like, for the better part of a week, even though the temperature should start rising in the next day or two. Beyond that I’m paying attention – or at least resolving to pay more attention – to finding the sacred in the every-day, and finding ways to make magical the step-by-step of putting one word in front of another, putting one foot in front of the other, and generally moving forwards in all areas of my life (see Inspiration for more on that subject).
 
Gratitude: Thankful for new poetry coming in at the library (need to pick that up tomorrow). For playful, giggly shenanigans with my wife. For friends who want to talk tarot or wine tasting or areal hooping at the drop of a hat. For little birds who trust me. For sewing skills and cooking skills. For a plentiful larder, pantry, and freezer. For central heating. For the clean bathroom. For muffins. For a wife who makes me coffee and breakfast and gives me a clean kitchen to work in. For seeing someone light up when I tell her that I can see her queerness. For steady feet in high winds and on icy roads. For new sheets fresh on the bed.
 
Inspiration: Becoming Dangerous: Witchy femmes, queer conjurers, and magical rebels on summoning the power to resist arrived in the mail earlier this week, and it’s hitting so many relevant notes for me about body-consecration, glamoury, sex as holiness, trash magic, and self-sufficiency. I mean, maybe that’s not surprising, given that it was written by a bunch of witchy femme queers (mostly women, some non-binary). But it’s lifting me up and getting me kind of weepy at the same time. (I talk a little more about that here). It’s giving me directions to go in. Landmarks to get myself re-oriented, so I can re-find that path I was already on. It’s a huge big deal.
 
Creation: Not the fuck much. I wrote one (1) poem this past week. I mean, it’s a decent poem. Need’s some polishing, but the bones are there and it’s a place to start. But I’m taking myself on a writing date in the next 48 hours because I need to put some words on the page. Probably do so when I go and pick up my library books.

New Year New You 2016: Weeks 16 & 17 – Big Magic, Little Rituals, and Winter Solstice

I’m doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation (again) because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. You should try it!
 
Instructions: “This is a good week to work on shoaling […]. Make all your tiny magic fish into one big magic fish.” AND “[It’s] time to do a big ritual to further one or more of your goals.”
 
Tarot Cards: The High Priestess with a side-order of The Queen of Fire. The deep-digging and drawing-up of the High Priestess, the attention I’m giving to magically/energetically developing my Whale Heart, the energetic labour of reaching out (both to and for) and gathering together,of making space for others and letting my own light be visible and undeniable.
 
So… It’s been Solstice. Which is kind of a big ritual in and of itself, even when my version of it, this year, was super low-budget and not very fancy: I put up the holly garlands, but didn’t hang any ornaments from them. Our major nod to Seasonal Decor is a giant poinsettia that was gifted/off-loaded (either/or, works for me – thank you) from one of my temping clients on Friday afternoon, largely so that they wouldn’t come back to work in January to the sight of a giant, wilted poinsettia in their main foyer.
Last year, we hung the ornaments and lit everything (ineffectively) by candle light, which is how I normally do things. This year… I actually wanted to see where the food was and not trip over everything or spill the wine. So I kept the electric lights on. I’m sure there’s something symbolic about the marriage of Reason and Sensuality, or keeping one’s eyes open, or whatever and I’ll probably develop that thought As Needed over the next couple of days as I see Fam-of-O and weather potentially-difficult/painful Poly Family Gatherings. (I have a couple of escape plans for the latter, and can I just say Thank Fuck for the people who are looking out for me!)
This morning, I left a note on the FB Event for my annual Winter Solstice party (which has never been a Go Until Dawn kind of shindig, and is basically wine, cheese, chocolate, and conversation, all of-which I love, followed by In Bed By 1am, if not earlier, and re-hydrating like woah the next morning) telling all my guests (and all the folks who couldn’t make it out) how lucky I am to have such good people in my life, and how they bring the light back to me again and again.
It’s a thing that’s worth saying out loud, y’know?
 
My magic, these days, doesn’t look much like magic in the “whizz, bang” sense of the word. It’s not honey pots or actively-magical glamour – though the practice of wearing a Crown Of Light[1] has gotten a lot easier since I started doing it back in… May(?), and I don’t have to focus on it the whole time, or be wearing 14 layers of physical-world femme armour, to keep it in place. It’s more like prayer, gratitude practice, greeting my gods as and when I have the opportunity, recognizing those You’re On The Right Track moments[2], breathing myself all the way into my body.
One little bit of more “magicky” magic that I’ve been doing, though, is to use my little bottle of Unveiled – one of Miss Sugar’s limited edition ritual oils, from years ago – to anoint my heart-chakra/sternum while asking “let me see what’s really there”. This is both Energy Work (complete with visualizations and pushing energy around) and a prayer for (a) the chance to observe and recognize the ways that I actually am supported & cared for, as well as (b) the ability to discern the appropriate degree of personal investment for a given relationship based on how much the other person is actually There For Me.
Fingers crossed that this one will work.
 
As far as Big Rituals go, my Winter Solstice Shindig is kind of the big one I do every year. It’s not a “ritual” in the straight-up religious sense. But it’s a celebratory way to mark the turning of the year, to light up my altar and make offerings to my gods (and the crows), and to gather my people close. I’m a Kitchen Witch, and this is kind of What We Do.
With that in mind – perhaps unsurprisingly – a lot of the foods I prepared (more From Scratch than ever, this year, because I didn’t have the cash to just go out and buy baguettes, artichoke dip, rabbit terrine, or fancy cheese) for our Winter Solstice celebrations had a LOT of “love and protection” correspondences built into them. Part of that is just because a lot of common house-hold ingredients have those correspondences anyway. But the other part is that: This is what I need right now. To protect my heart without closing it. To actively care for people without putting myself in harm’s way. To risk, courageously, and open myself up to love and care (both giving and receiving it) while also giving myself permission to protect myself and put my own oxygen mask on first. So I built that into the foods I made and served during Celebration Time.
 
So that’s the magic I’ve been doing. The Good Witching of checking in with friends who may or may not have people to spend their holidays with, or who just started meds; the word-magic of speaking things aloud, of naming and claiming, calling out and calling in; the rallying of reinforcements when someone near and dear to me needs to know that they’re loved; the opening myself again and again (and messing it up, and falling back on old habits, and trying to do it better the next time), the changing consciousness at will (which is a longer process than Starhawk makes it sound in Spiral Dance, let me tell you). That’s the magic I’ve been doing. My witchcraft isn’t particularly subversive. But it works.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] What is says on the tin. I visualize putting on a crown that shows up like a spotlight on my hair. It’s based on a poem I wrote about being a figure model and how much easier it is to be bullet-proof when I’m NOT trying to look Put Together in clothes that were never designed to fit me, the last line of-which is “The light on your hair all the crown you’ll ever need”. It… seems to be fairly effective, as it turns out. 🙂
 
[2] Like yesterday, when I was right in the middle of stream-of-consciousness tweeting about a Thing that has dawned on me, and one of the ladies I was working for sashayed over and gifted me a bottle of nail polish just for the hell of it[3].
 
[3] I admit that I’m a little concerned at how my “you’re on the right track” markers seem to be seriously linked to Protestant-Capitalism’s interpretation of the Kalvinist Doctrine of Predestination, but… this seems to be working, so I’m going with it.

New Year New You 2016: Week Eleven – Casting Out Doubt

I’m doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation (again) because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. You should try it!
 
Instructions: “[…]Use a method of your own choosing to banish the negative energy” or otherwise communicate with your own Jerk Brain to get it to give you a break.
 
Tarot Card(s): Page of Water, Queen of Earth (and, yes, my Mary-El deck arrived a few weeks ago, thense the links to images from that deck for this post). Neither of these cards explicitely have to do with Casting Out Doubt. But they’re relevant for a couple of reasons, one being that I did a two-card pull that relates to my Queen of Cups Project (and various points there-within such as my life-coaching sessions and the Plan that is to Get My Groove Back, so to speak) and I didn’t even pull these two cards, they just popped right out of the deck, like: Here’s your answer, kiddo. (This deck is proving very accurate on the jumpers front, so far, I’m just saying…).
Anyway, so there’s that. I’ll get into that a little more later, mind you. The other reason why these are relevant to the “casting out doubt” prompt is that the first one – being a Page card – is about approaching things (feeeeelings) with curiosity, rather than fear, while the second one is very much about being rooted and steady (rather than riddled with anxiety). the combination is basically a case of “Here’s something you can do instead of assuming the worst and spinning about it all the time”.
Useful? I think so.
 
ANYWAY.
 
So, as-you-know-bob, I am a BIG fan of ritual/magical baths as a form of spell-casting and Creating Change At Will. unsurprisingly, my method of casting out doubt involved (a) having a giant, scrubby shower (and, yeah, some Stuff came up during the shower, and I was just, like, “Don’t be mean to yourself. Let all that stuff just sluff off and let it go”. Which… we’ll see if that bit sticks, honestly, but I gave it a go), and (b) taking a sensual-glamourous bath after the fact to soak in (and soak up) something better to fill that vacuum left when I got rid of all the EUGH[1].
So.
The other day, I went out and gathered a whole wack of “second chakra associated” flowers and leaves. I picked bergamot petals, geranium blossoms, rose petals, rose leaves, and motherwort[2] tops (mostly leaves). All sorts of pinks and reds. I wound up explaining to a newly-arrived-home couple just what, exactly, they had growing under their tree (Motherwort – see footnote[2]). They’d asked if they had “something special”, since I was obviously investigating the weedy patch they’d (woohoo) missed with the mower.
 
I wound up waiting a solid 48 hours or more before I actually took my bath, though.
I kind of think that’s telling, seeing as the whole idea was to open up my centre of drive, passion, confidence, and sex… and I was consistently putting it on the back-burner while I got other stuff done. :-\
Hm.
 
But I took my bath: all the petals plus dried bay leaves, sea salt & epsom salts (to draw out any residual gunk), and essential oils of rosemary, clary sage, ylang ylang, and sweet orange.
Soaked and floated in the hot water. Did Child’s Pose to open my hips, and breathed in the smell of all those oils and flower petals.
 
Got interrupted towards the end, a young woman (possibly from Korea, going by the alphabet her phone was using) who’d taken a wrong turn trying to find her airBnB. This is most likely Just A Fluke, but I’m choosing to read it as any of the following:
Sometimes people turn up in your life when you’re not expecting them and/or when it’s not entirely convenient. Just go with it.
Things are not always going to go according to your internal scrips. See above and just go with it.
See also: Have a sense of humour about it, for fuck’s sake.
 
I can still smell rosemary on my skin.
I hope this is one more thing that will help me open myself up without seeing every damn thing as a threat. Which… I guess I can use as a handy segue?
 
About that tarot reading!
It was a “who” and a “how” card to answer the question: “Who and how do I need to be in order to open myself up the way I want and need to?”
The page of water and the queen of earth, respectively, fell out of the deck almost as soon as I started shuffling.
So that’s apt.
WHO: The Page of Cups says “be in the moment”. It says “learn to trust” and “trust the learning”. The Page of Cups is very much me on a lot of levels, just figuring this heart stuff out (after nine years of working my ass off for it, still just figuring stuff out) but also being neck-deep in it all the time. It’s very much what my Life Coach is trying to help me do, with regards to approaching pleasure and relationships with curiosity rather than trepidation. It says be loyal, be devoted, be compassionate and supportive of yourself as well as others. Be emotionally vulnerable.
BUT
HOW: The Queen of Earth says “don’t fling yourself off a cliff to do it”. Offer that loyalty, devotion, compassion wisely. Make sure you have an oxygen mask of your own, rather than hoping someone else will pass you one in the event of an emergency. Explore, see where things go, walk into this stuff with joy and hope. For sure. But also make sure that you can stand solid on your own. Be aware of what you value, what you want and what you need, as you go out exploring. You can be emotionally vulnerable, you can let your heart be curious, because you can pull back and prioritize yourself when you need to. (Which is also part of the Life Coaching stuff, as it turns out).
 
The Queen of Earth, in the Mary-El deck, is weaping diamonds. It makes me think of this post I wrote just before C ended our relationship. In this context, I read it as “there is value is showing your emotions” and also “experiencing your bodiliness, letting your feelings come through your body, isn’t weak. Quite the opposite”. There are a million ways to interpret a given tarot card but this seems like a relevant way to read this one today.
 
So. That was how I went about Casting Out Doubt. It’s been helping. Every time I pass a rose bush (which are still quite fragrant in these parts, even as the flowers are fading), I catch the scent and breathe in love and gratitude. It’s a nice reminder and it helps me stop spinning my self-doubt wheels.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] That’s a thing to keep in mind. If you banish something, it can be a good idea to fill the void the banishment leaves with something you actually WANT (either by putting it there, or by ritually inviting it to take up residence), so that you don’t end up with either (a) the same damn shit again, OR (b) just any old thing that happened to be in the area filling in the available psychic/physical/emotional space. A bit like my tarot-pull being all “Here’s what to do INSTEAD of the disfunctional thing you’ve always done”.
 
[2] Motherwort calms the heart (it makes a good anti-anxiety tincture, similar to skullcap in that regard, but much muuuuuuch easier to get ahold of in urban areas as it grows quite happily in disturbed ground like construction sites), builds self-trust and confidence, bolsters libido, and attracts joy, success, & a sense of purpose. It encourages listening/discerning one’s heart’s desires and has associations with Venus, Freja, and Ogun (er… apparently). It can come and live in my garden any time.

Common Motherwort (Leonurus Cardiaca)

New Moon – Lilac Moon Begins

So Victoria Day Weekend was a few days ago. We spent it in Quebec City with a super-awesome friend, meeting her family, enjoying Lobster Season, and taking part in their first bonfire of the year (as is appropriate for the May 2-4 Weekend, AKA “Beltane North”). I also got to swim in their pool, and was gifted a little treadle-power spinning wheel which, once it’s got its missing parts replaced, will be my “learning model” for wheel spinning. Huzzah! 😀
 
But it was also New Moon (once again) and, back home, it was the weekend that the lilacs exploded.
As such, welcome to Lilac Moon, right on schedule. 🙂
 
Our sweetheart has moved most of her stuff (that she isn’t taking to Toronto) into our basement. She did it while we were in Quebec City. By the time this moon is full, she’ll already be in Toronto. I’m trying not to freak out about how soon she’s leaving. My lovely wife is feeling it pretty hard, and I’m starting to get a little bit clingy, myself. I’m trying not to, trying to love lightly, to be able to let her go without sobbing about it too much. It’s not like she’s leaving the country, or even the province, after all. It’s not like she won’t come back and see us, or that she’s moving to get away from us or something.
It’s amazing how quickly and powerfully love can bloom when you’re willing to allow it the chance. It blows you open as sure and hopeful, relentless and beautiful as lilacs.
 
Okay, maybe there’s a little bit of sobbing going on… don’t mind me.
 
We have picked up our half-pig, which is now residing in our chest freezer (it fills up the entire thing – which means we can ONLY buy half a pig at a time) and – counter to The Plan – have already eaten a pound of the bacon. 😉
We were going to wait until June, just to keep an eye on how much pork we eat in a given month. The hope is that half a pig will last six months[1], but I have NO IDEA whether that will be the case or not.
 
I have learned how to make Creton – a dish that’s a bit like paté, but made by cooking ground pork (and a little bacon grease, if the pork is on the super-lean side, fyi) with diced onions and a little bit of milk or cream, on super-low heat for 4-5 hours, until the liquid is well-reduced and everything has gently, gently, gently cooked all the way through. My friend’s mom taught me how to make it, last Sunday. I am adding it to my list of Things To Make which also includes Paté (using the pig liver) and terrine (a bit like paté, but (a) it includes chunks of muscle – this may be where the tongue gets put to use – and (b) is baked into a form after having been initially cooked else-ways).
 
I have just, just planted my tomato and cucumber starts as well as a bunch of bean and squash seeds, so my garden is just about as planted as it’s going to get (at least this year – raspberries, possibly red currants, grapes, and probably more rhubarb are yet to be added to the perennial bed, so…).
 
In witchier news… I don’t think I’m going to The Witches’ Sabbat after all.
I feel a bit stupid about this.
I haven’t been able to find a ride. BUT I also haven’t looked that hard. I haven’t bugged non-attending friends to drive me the 2 hours or so to the location, for example, and I could yet do that.
I only found out after the pre-registration deadline passed that our sweetie will be leaving Ottawa on the 29th and, as such, I won’t actually be missing time with her if I attend the event.
That said, I’m not sure my lovely wife will want to be alone that weekend and, frankly, I’m not sure what kind of a head-space I’ll be in – probably distracted – during the first few days of our sweetie’s absense, so… Maybe it’s a good thing that I’m not signed up?
Anyway. So I’m a bit disappointed that I’m not attending, but it’s probably (probably?) for the best, at least this year. Maybe I can come up with my own little rite to honour the shape-shifters among us during the same weekend. Probably not an extatic one, I grant you. 😉
 
Anyway. I have dishes to wash and bread to make, so I’d best get on that.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] With the addition of monthly rabbits from Rabbit Lady (we have another one due in the next day or two, actually, which means I need to thaw and cook the one we still have in our fridge-top freezer ASAP – probably this Friday) and occasional other stuff – Seed to Sausage sausages, but more likely occasional fish and the odd tray of (hopefully at least slightly ethical) beef burgers or chicken drum-sticks.

V is for Veil (and Victuals) – Pagan Blog Project 2014

So I’m writing this a good half-hour into a “house warming party” to-which I’m fairly certain nobody corporeal is going to be coming.
We’ve had five seven trick-or-treaters (more chocolate for us, from my perspective) – one of-whom asked me why I’m so tall (I told her that I come by it naturally and that all my ancestors are tall – not 100% true, but close enough for an answer); and the gods – as they do – have taken their due. I’m nursing a burn on my right arm from the oven, where I burned it taking the beef braise out of the oven.
Braised beef + various veggies + a little blue cheese for garnish (and also because my Dad loves that stuff – he died almost 15 years ago, so I got it for the ancestor plate).
 
Ah, yes, the ancestor plate.
I spent two hours carving pumpkins – three faces, a half-pumpkin dish (one of the pumpkins was going pretty soft-rotten, unfortunately, so it was just cut and cleaned and used as a dish – holding a hurricane cup of Dragon’s Blood incense – instead of being carved), a fouth featured a carved candle for the beloved dead (with a heart on one side, and skull on the other), and the last carved with the message “Welcome Home”. I think they work.
I burned mhyrr on my altar and lit all the candles, as well (first time I lit all the candles in the house, so: Timely). And I made an ancestor plate.
It’s just a little saucer with some of tonight’s dinner on it, a (tiny) glass of the red wine beside it, and a tea-light as well. I’ll be adding chocolate to the plate later (Hallowe’en candly – pity it isn’t Neilson’s, but they own Cadbury at this point, so it works out a little bit), in part for dessert and in part for my Gram (who was a chocolate fiend) and in part for my Neilson ancestors because: clearly. 🙂
 
While I was getting the dinner going, I could hear my Papa (life-long dairy farmer) talking about “keeping the soy bean men in business” by buying margarine as well as butter. My Dad slid into my dreams last night, just briefly, and he’s not been the only one. I know a few folks who’ve lost family/phamily/tribe in the past 24 hours. The veil, as they say, is thin.
 
I spent a good chunk of this morning finishing up business at the old apartment – and it is, indeed, Past Tense at this point. Finishing Business included the usual laundry and vacuuming and making sure we hadn’t left anything in a closet somewhere, but it also included walking through the place, burning a cone of “purification” incense (a blend of some sort – it does the trck), calling back all the good things that we’d filled our then-home with, and quietly chanting “Out with the old, In with the new” as I went.
It worked.
 
I would have liked to have filled our new house with chatty friends, laughter, and somewhat boisterous celebration tonight – got in about $200 worth of food & drink (mostly food, just to be clear) with that in mind, in fact – but I admit to being a little grateful for the peace, for the quiet and the chance to sit in the calm semi-darkness, altar blazing, seasonally-appropriate music playing (everything from SJ Tucker’s “Come to the Labyrinth”, Heather Dale’s “Call the Names”, and Tori Amos’s “Happy Phantom”; to The Tea Party’s “Requiem”, The Flirtations’ “The Ancestors’ Breath”, and Type O Negative’s “All Hallow’s Eve”; to Florence and the Machine’s “Only if for a Night”, Loreena McKennit’s “All Soul’s Night”, and Leonard Cohen’s “Who By Fire”), while I write this post and my lovely wife sews horse blankets in the other room.
 
Eventually, we’ll open a bottle of champagne and toast our new home formally, but for now I’m enjoying the quiet. Maybe I’ll get the Brie out next.
 
Here’s to my ancestors, and hers. Here’s to our gods – big and small, familiar and well-known and dear. Here’s to the kids on our doorstep – non-“rainbow-family” kids who got to see a cis girl and a trans girl married and being “normal” in their neighbourhood – and the pumpkins, too, which are part of the harvest and one of-which I carved to have eyes that smile like mine and my dad’s do.
Here’s to being fully moved into the House of Goat – Gods, Ancestors, and All.