Imbolg was last Thursday, and I’ve been doing “halfway through the winter” and “wake up, shake up” stuff for about a week now. Culling books, clothes, and housewares, reorganizing the heavy duty shelving in my kitchen so that things are easier to find and use (and use up), doing energy work for chakra unblocking and otherwise trying to change up some persistent patterns, even timing a job application (that would mean big, largely positive changes for us) with the Moon in Leo turning full yesterday morning.
Today I finally made it to the Winter Stone. I brought a mix of whipping cream and maple cream Sortilege, a jar of sunflower seeds mixed with basil, blue vervain, and mugwort – all reminders of summer that was and summer that will come again – and a soul cake made with melted chocolate and cream steeped with licorice root and warming spices and sang little bits of SJ Tucker’s Imbolc Song for Offerings after brushing about a foot of snow off the stone itself.
Around here, Imbolg doesn’t mean crocuses and snowdrops like it does in Vancouver and DC, even when the temperature is as chaotic and weird as it’s been this year (swinging from -41C a couple of days ago to an expected +3C this coming Friday). Around here, Imbolg is the half-way point. Whether you count “winter months” as December through March, or push all the way from Samhain to Beltane, early February, with its groundhog watch and its pharmacy shelves lined with heart shaped boxes, is the point where Winter starts turning towards Spring or, as the local Druid Grove puts it, “The evidence based belief that Spring will come again”.
Decades ago, when I was both new to living outside of my parents’ house and still fairly new to being Pagan in a “regular religious practices” kind of way, I was trying to figure out what Imbolg meant for me, how I could mark it when most of the books I was able to find had been written by people in California or other warmer climates where you could at least see Spring coming in early February, even if it was only because the snow was noticeably staying melted. At that time, I was doing regular rituals with a few friends – some my age, some a decade, or even a generation, older – and the “mother” of the group had us over for an Imbolg ritual that involved a celebration of femininity and sensuality, of flavours and smells and textures and movements that made your senses wake up and feel alive again after months of cold and dark and, given that we were all involved in Academe at the time, the looming spectre of midterms hanging over our heads on top of that.
These days, Imbolg is the time when take down my Solstice decorations and change out the wreath on my door. But it’s because of that ritual that my February-to-May wreath is all jewel-tone ribbons and cinnamon sticks. It’s because of that ritual that I make my Offering soul cakes with chocolate and cardamom and star anise alongside the warm, sweetness of licorice and sarsaparilla roots. If High Summer is the pause point, the indrawn breath and sultry sigh before the work of the harvest starts, if High Summer is “Glammas” and a chance to painted toenails, skinny dipping, and blessing the harvest that will come, then Imbolg is it’s opposite number: Seed packets and dreaming, soaking in the cauldron of creation that is your own bath tub, a time for intention-setting and putting plans in motion.
The sun set at 5:11pm on February 2nd. Today it sets at 5:17. Six weeks from now it will still be light out after 7pm and we’ll be hearing the geese coming home, maybe even seeing snowdrops starting to push through the soil against sunny, south facing walls. Maybe it’s just because it’s a bright, BRIGHT day today – only -4 with a light breeze and the sun feeling warm on my back – or because there was a crow visiting my back yard when I stepped out to make my offerings, and a chickadee checking out the long-abandoned blue jay nest at the corner of my house, but I’m feeling hopeful today in a way that I didn’t yesterday. Roll on Spring! I know you’ll get here eventually.
So, I was bopping around Patheos, as you do when you’re a Pagan of a Certain Age who still loves long-form blogging, and I came across this article which, among other things, said “cultivate joy”. Now I’m not Lokian, I’m not Norse reconstructionist or any particular subsection of Heathen.
And: I still appreciated the heads-up, you know?
So here I am asking myself: How can I cultivate joy?
Why? Because “all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals”. Because my Fetch is a kid who didn’t get a lot of play time and would probably enjoy it. Because it’s good for my brain and refills my creative well. Because joyful experiences shared are points of connection.
So why not?
I pulled three tarot cards from my Wildwood deck to see what they had to say about it, and I got:
The Three of Fire – “Fulfillment”. Adventure, optimism, stepping into the unknown… but doing so from a secure home base (literally and figuratively)
Ten of Air – “Instruction”. Which a lot of interpretations read as this intensely negative thing, but for me has always been a card about leveling up. In the case of the Wildwood deck, it’s particularly about knowledge and passing on skills you’ve mastered (but maybe also getting better at things you’re new at?). It’s a “Next chapter!” kind of card.
Four of Air – “Rest”. To some extent, I think this is “Joy helps alleviate burnout” but also “Introvert time can be an avenue along-which to cultivate joy, too”.
So, what I see here is a lot of “home = sanctuary”, coupled with “try new things – they don’t have to be dramatic to make you happy”.
I’m still a long way from finishing my novel draft. I’ve got about 2 weeks, or a little more, to write 35,000 words which… we’ll see if I can knock that out. That’s a fair few 6000 word days I’m looking at, but… maybe? Fingers crossed. I’m revisiting the idea of liturgical and devotional poetry. Partly because I read this thing about Pagan Prayer, and partly because it remains something I’d like to do, even if I’m not sure where to start or how to keep things from getting repetitive. I think my Gods might enjoy the work, and I think I would enjoy doing it. So maybe that’s what my November will involve.
I’ve been thinking of the part of prayer that’s Listening, and how incredibly bad I am at it, most of the time. Not just the concrete bunker that is my skull, but also the way my anxiety-brain goes running off madly in all directions, afraid to listen lest I find out that Somebody Is Mad At Me or something… even when I know that isn’t likely.
I have a couple of books – anthologies like Her Words and Return of the Great Goddess – that were published in the 1990s and are mixture of historical devotional prayers/praises (translations of Homer, etc) and contemporary verse that may or may not be explicitly devotional or offered to a specific goddess. But I find them… nice(?) to pull out and read from.
Something someone at a Pride party said to me… more than a year ago now, is that a lot of The Neighbours just want to be noticed and acknowledged. Which leads me to think that maybe, possibly, I could draw on the examples of Mary Oliver and Bliss Carman as much as anyone else’s, and just write what I see and try to open myself to Wonder.
We’ll see where it takes me, I guess.
We’re well and truly into the Season of the Witch now. Have been for about three weeks, if not a little longer. The mornings are cold, the leaves are turning, it’s getting dark earlier (noticeably, even this soon after the Equinox), and I’m grateful for layered clothes and thick socks, even if I’m still risking wearing sandals when I run up the street (literally – we’re half a block from a grocery store) for emergency brussels sprouts and nutmeg (just me? Okay).
We just celebrated Thanksgiving here in Canada – thence, in fact, the emergency brussels sprouts and nutmeg (though my visiting girlfriend was actually the one running that errand). It happens 2-3 weeks after Autumn Equinox (it used to be the first Sunday after the first full moon after Autumn Equinox, but it’s been standardized at some point in the last 15-20 years or so), and I find it a nice way to mark the Second Harvest / Mabon in a way that lets me take advantage of a long weekend (and an anniversary) and invite non-pagan friends and relatives into a Harvest Feast where I say my Thanks during the planning and cooking phases, and just keep the altar lit when everybody’s here.
I have to admit that this kind of thing helps when it comes to getting my butt down to the season stones in a timely (ish) fashion. I didn’t go at Autumn Equinox. But I went to the Autumn Stone over Thanksgiving weekend, brought whiskey and a home-made cranberry-apple-walnut muffin, and gave my thanks for full larder and happy harvest and having my girls around me.
Now my head’s pretty firmly turning towards Samhain – ghost pumpkins and purple autumn asters, rutabaga, jarahdale squash, Russian sage and birch leaves turning to pale gold, turkey heart and liver for solo breakfast on a Monday morning three weeks from now as Ancestor Moon waxes and Scorpio Season takes off. I might try doing a Silent Supper on the night of the 30th – try doing that meditative listening/attentiveness thing again and see what, if anything, happens. Maybe I’ll hear from somebody.
The cards I pulled for the Full Moon were also from the Wildwood deck and what I picked up were:
The Three of Water (“Joy” but also, typically, my Polyamoury card)
The Ten of Fire (“Responsibility”)
My decks – but particularly the Wildwood deck – tend to run VERY literal. So I’m not surprised to see the Three of Water turning up both (a) when I’ve been thinking about how to cultivate joy, but more-so (b) when my girlfriend just visited for a couple of weeks, and I hosted a Big Traditional Feast with both partners and my local-extended polycule in attendance.
As for the ten of fire though… this is often a card about only taking on what you’re actually responsible for. Questions about “what is your job and what isn’t” and “who you are responsible TO is not the same as what you are responsible FOR” come up, for sure.
But this is also just a card about: “Did you make a commitment? You should make good on that commitment then.” And potentially about choosing your battles – and your tasks – carefully so that you don’t take on too much.
Movement: Walks in the woods and a small living-room dance party, recently, with my visiting girlfriend. Crescent Moon pose (and some Warrior Two), when I haven’t been doing my nightly yoga.
Attention: Mostly I’ve been paying attention to the temperature and frost warnings. My little Fiona bird is probably mostly de-fleshed at this point and if I want to dig up and preserve her skull, I should probably get on that now-ish.
Gratitude: My girlfriend. My wife. Flirty karaoke shenanigans at the local tiny gay bar. In-person visits. In-person thanksgiving dinner. Leftovers. Extra cash thanks to a surprise work-gig. My relatives being friendly and welcoming to my poly-family. Potlucks. Surprise pears from my neighbour. Multiple people offering me pie! The loan of a really great book in a really great series. Crisp, sunny mornings. My neighbours turning on their furnace so that we can make do without doing so yet. Gifted bamboo cutlery. Garden herbs. Winter squash. The feast and everyone – human and otherwise – who contributed to it. Moonlight. Sunsets. Icecream. Being able to see my breath. Warm shoes. Warm blankets. Fresh sheets. Kisses. Being in love with multiple people and having them like each other and get along. So many things, basically. My heart is full.
Inspiration: Uh… I mean, if you call “reasons teen me was mad at my mom” inspiration… I guess that? Drafting a YA novel is a trip.
Creation: As I said, I’ve been working on An Actual Novel. And also made a giant dinner that worked out really well. But that, and a batch of apple butter, are pretty much the extent of it at the moment. Onwards!
This card feel appropriate for its “pause and reflect” characteristics – I’ve literally heard it described as the “interim report card” of the deck – and also because this Project is based in the suit of Earth. I know this card best as “Patience”, from the Osho Zen deck, where it stands, just before the second “plateau” card of the suit of earth, as a reminder that Things Take Time, and only slightly less well as “Healing” in the Wildwood deck, where it’s a call for rest and pause. It’s a very (g)Lammas card for those reasons. But it’s also a card about sowing and cultivating – as Oliver Pickle writes in She Is Sitting in the Night – and about results that come from labour and putting in the work.
I harvested rhubarb from my garden for the first time since we moved here, three Beltanes ago. It took three years, and annual top-ups with manure and compost-heavy top soil, for the sand-and-gravel of my front yard to become something that will let a deep-rooted plant like rhubarb thrive. My irises bloomed for the first time since we got here, too. The seven sisters roses are more covered in flowers than ever. My recently transplanted raspberries, from a neighbour, are rooting successfully and putting out new growth. It’s so good to see them thriving. Later today, I’ll be making peony soul cakes – for offerings and for a midsummer barbecue we’ve been invited to, down by the river – using petals from the peonies in our yard. All of this is wonderful, but it didn’t happen by accident.
I wanted my garden to thrive, so I put in the work and the time and, frankly, the money, to help it do so.
Which brings me to my reflections about where I’m at with my King of Coins Project goals.
I’ve said this multiple times, over years and years of writing this blog. I can’t effectively aim my Will if I don’t know what I want to hit.
There was a point, back in mid-May, where I talked to my Godself about the things that needed to happen in order for my household to be able to thrive. And very shortly thereafter, things started Coming Up that were pointing me in the direction of what I’d said needed to happen. And yet, at the same time, I started digging my heals in because there’s more than two people worth of needs in my household, and I was feeling noticeably trapped (between sets of wants/needs) and resentful about the extra costs associated with prioritizing one set of needs and wants over all the others.
And, big surprise, I have landed zero of the jobs that flooded my way at that time.
Oof. One of the other things that the Seven of Pentacles relates to is a fear of failure, a fear of making the wrong choice. And I have that fear is spades, let me tell you.
It’s definitely stopping me from “picking a direction” because I don’t want to find out, in the long or short run, that it was the wrong one.
At the same time, the Seven of Pentacles is an opportunity to both (a) celebrate your achievements, and (b) make changes and tweaks to one’s long-term plans.
First and foremost: I’m out of debt. It’s potentially going to be a bit of a battle to stay that way, but I accepted the help I was offered, and I’m no-longer throwing hundreds of dollars at a credit card bill that seems unending. I have automatic payments set up to (a) make sure my monthly automatic charges – patreon and some charity donations – are paid off, (b) to add a tiny bit to my savings fund every week, and (c) to put towards my 2022 income taxes, when that bill comes due next Beltane. So I’m feeling good about that.
I have definitely ridden the hedonic escalator up a few steps. I don’t generally feel like I’m going to be punished for buying new clothes, and I’ve invested in some Nice Items (like an Actually Leather day-to-day-use handbag, and a bunch of flowing, light-but layerable 100% cotton dresses) that should serve me well for years and years to come. Needing to scale back the consumerism, when I quit my Very Stressful Job just before Imbolg, was An Adjustment. But it’s worked out and the thing I spend the most money on, tbh, is “emergency preparedness food” (couscous, orzo, green lentils and mung beans for sprouting, tinned and home-pressure-canned beans, vaccuum-sealed dry sausage that can be stored at room temperature until it’s opened, and then eaten fairly quickly, crackers, peanut butter, nuts and dried fruit, that kind of thing) in case there are more power outages in our near-future.
I’m not sure about “changing my baseline”. I did feel “weirdly exposed” when I made that final payment on my credit card and saw it balance out to zero. I did have to majorly fight myself on “I can buy so many things!!!” (Which doesn’t mean I didn’t buy “so many” things – I did. I just paid cash for them, and bought them over multiple weeks instead of just a couple of days. And, yeah, that emergency flashlight/charger and a bidet widget for our bathroom were among them). Still. The thing I was afraid would happen if I “let” myself be free of debt… happened.
And it wasn’t the end of the world. It wasn’t a Terrible Situation with No Way Out where I ended up “right back where I started”. And it wasn’t even very long-lived. It was a managable, and managed, situation where I equipped my house a little better for a particular kind of Bad Situation and gave myself presents that I’ve been wanting for years (a rhodochrosite ring to complete my Bi Pride ring collection; a black felted hat with a broad brim – yes, I DO feel very American Horror Story when I wear it, sorry not sorry; a book about Feri witchcraft), and then I chilled the heck out and went back to reading library books and doing home-canning.
Have I “raised my baseline”? TBH, I don’t think so. Doing that requires (A) a third remote job (or a massive raise from both my current employers – unlikely but maybe?), and (B) the opportunity to save up for a house down-payment, rather than having to pour all that extra money into rent. But I spent a year living with “owning a house” as a distant, but at least possible, dream, and I would like to have that again.
As far as changes and tweaks go:
I have my name in for another possible third job. One that would require more hours than I want to give over to working-for-others, including some weekend hours that I’m absolutely not thrilled about, but that I’m eminently qualified to do and would be good at. And I kind of think I need to take a moment today – because it’s Solstice, and it’s a good time to do this – to sort out what I actually want. What my Ideal Situation is and how to work my will so that it happens.
Six months ago, at Winter Solstice, I put a handful of squash seeds on my tiny desk altar. I think it’s time (past time – would have been better at the new moon, three weeks ago) to collect half a dozen of them, and charge them with goals.
·New, possibly short-term, upstairs neighbours who are clean, quiet AND away a lot of the time
·A new third remote job with good, ultra-flexible hours, a fun task list, and better-than-current-expectations pay, plus raises at my other two jobs
·A publisher for my still-on-sub chapbook
·Great sex + a happy, loving polycule
·A growing bank account and savings funds including a down-payment fund
·A spacious, tidy, very affordable home with native fruit trees growing all around the edges of the yard and enough time, energy, and focus to both tend and harvest said yard as needed
Maybe it’s not surprising that I finally got around to doing the most intense of the Activities for Chapter Four of Seeking the Mystery: An Introduction to Pagan Theologies during a lunar eclipse in Scorpio.
Flower moon has been beautiful, and living up to its name to such a degree that I’m afraid all the apple, cherry, serviceberry, and pear blossoms will have passed before my girlfriend arrives next week. My garden in thriving – and, thanks to a couple of friends being willing to chauffeur me around – received both an influx of compost and a variety of new plant starts and seeds a couple of weeks ago. Thanks to the lovely, heavy, steady rains we’ve had for the past few days, I’ve got seeds germinating and poking their heads out of the soil – fava beans, allysum and creeping soapwort, borage, nasturtiums, anise, dill, and cilantro, for a start – and the raspberry canes a neighbour offered to anyone who wanted to come and dig some up appear to be Actually Taking Root and transplanting effectively.
I’ve made rhubarb curd (for Beltane – using store-bought rhubarb because mine was just barely poking through the soil) and, from there, rhubarb frozen yoghurt (which is amazing – highly recommended). I’ve harvested lovage, goutweed, and chives from my garden and picked several bouquets of garlic mustard from along Pinecrest creek to use in meals and in making hazelnut pesto. It’s been wonderful to have the windows open, to listen to the rain, to sit in the hot, hot sunshine and feel my bones thaw out.
Which is as apt a segue as anything.
Chapter Four offers a very brief overview of sacred sexuality / erotic theology, pagan perspectives on gender, the nature of the soul, and ancestor veneration.
It feels appropriate to be covering this during Beltane season, a period where the erotic – in the Lordean sense, of fully experiential, active connection, as the opposite of numbness, as the freedom found in, and built of, embodied joy – is invited, invoked, and palpable as life wakes up in late spring and the early summer heat makes it so much easier to breathe, rest, slow down, and feel like thriving is actually possible.
It feels appropriate, too, to be covering this during a lunar eclipse in Scorpio – all that shadow stuff, death stuff, hidden stuff, avoided stuff getting dredged up to the surface and asking to be acknowledged.
The activities included:
Asking how we can honour our bodies, and reframing taking care of ourselves as “giving our bodies gifts” (like opportunities to dance or soak in a tub)
Getting in touch with your ancestors and older relatives and/or deepening the connections you already have with them
Making a will, living will, or other “end of life” document
Whoooooooooooooooo. No pressure.
Since, for the moment, I have some extra time on my hands, I’ve been taking care of my garden, taking long, ambling walks, and soaking up the heat. Which feels like honouring my body – or at least my embodiedness? – to some degree.
I’m not sure that doing (proto) push-ups every night, plus small sets of weight lifting, as a way to honour the Amazons counts as “honouring my body” but it is exciting to see my arms getting a little bit stronger.
Also related to Chapter Three’s “add more devotions to your practice” activity, and in part because my wife gets twitchy around lit candles, but I want to make some kind of a weekly offering, I’ve started making a tiny cup of coffee and a tiny cup of orange pekoe tea for my ancestors, in particular, every week. I use little hand-painted demi-tasse cups that came through my Dad’s Mom for them.
And, today, I made a living will and a “last” (probably not actually last) will & testament.
At it’s most basic (and I was using the free templates available at CanadaWills, and own no property, so it was very basic) it’s a quick run-down of who has decision-making power if you’re hospitalized and can’t make decisions about your care at that time, and what you want to happen to your body and your stuff (“stuff” being a separate document that you date earlier than the will itself), and who gets to handle making sure that happens, after you die.
It was not comfortable deciding how much medical intervention I actually want in the event of me being in a Really Bad Way.
I don’t want to die.
But I don’t exactly want to linger, trapped in a shell, either, you know?
I didn’t enjoy having to think about it.
It was kind of a relief to be able to list both of my partners though.
But. I’ve done it now.
If, and as, I want to go back and make changes – if one of my (currently all under age 10) nibblings comes out as a leather dyke, thus determining who gets the Inherited Leather in the next generation, for example, or if I suddenly decide that I don’t want to donate any organs, or that I *do* want Heroic Measures done to save my life – I can do that.
But, for the moment, it’s done – pending (and this is important) my signature and that of two witnesses. Important.
But it’s done.
So that was Chapter Four. “Chapter Five: Ethics and Justice” is up next.
I’m one of those people who, when I shuffle the deck for a general check-in, gets the “Wow, girl, you’re really in a situation right now. You okay?” instead of any actual advice. (TBH, I’ve started just putting the cards away when they do this, because if I’m not in a state to read anything useful out of them, I probably shouldn’t be exacerbating what my Jerk Brain is telling me).
But: The Sun!
Which: The actual sun did just come out from behind the clouds, so: Literal Meaning Confirmed.
Tarot meaning / things to keep in mind: Enjoy the day. Do something pleasurable. Soak up some Vitamin D. Use your magic (that erotic as power again) to make your dreams and goals reality. Enjoy being who you fully are.
Movement: Proto-push-ups every night. Some weights (not every night, but most nights). Long walks around the neighbourhood, or by the river or the nearby creek.
Attention: Watching my health. Watching my email (waiting on the results of a recent job interview – fingers crossed). Watching the weather. Paying tonnes of attention to my garden and to what’s blooming around the neighbourhood (there is a serviceberry in the nearby park! Woohoo!)
Gratitude: Thankful for the hot weather. Thankful for the rain. Thankful for getting to eat lunch with my wife yesterday. Thankful my girlfriend will be visiting soon. Thankful for coffee with a friend yesterday. Thankful for evening walks with my wife. Thankful for family dinners. Thankful for friends who jump at the chance to visit a garden centre. Thankful for rhubarb. Thankful for plants waking up again. Thankful for so many beautiful flowers. Thankful for sandal weather. Thankful for rainbow umbrellas. Thankful for laundry machines that we own. Thankful for my 2gl watering can. Thankful for home made ice cream. Thankful for warm blankets, coffee on the couch, waking up with the women I love.
Creation: I’ve been writing poetry again. Hurrah! Years ago, I wanted to write a full-length manuscript looking at polyamoury and queer chosen family through the metaphor of local plants, gardening, and seasonal food. Having been talking up squash on twitter recently, I ended up with a couple of poetry prompts that, while very different, could fit into that theme with some wiggling. So I’m revisiting the idea and trying to write a microchap or two playing with those themes.
 Including touching on a certain theological foremother persistently making an ass of herself. For the record: We don’t get to have “She changes everything she touches, and everything she touches changes” as a major tenant of faith and then turn around and go “Except you. You have to stay in a box someone else put you in.” That’s not just being a jerk, it’s blasphemy. Let’s not.
 “those physical, emotional, and psychic expressions of what is deepest and strongest and richest within each of us…the passions of love, in its deepest meanings…the self-connection shared…the measure of joy” (from Lorde’s “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic As Power” in Sister Outsider).
Note: I started writing this post a few days early – gods bless the scheduler – as I had a couple of hours to myself last Sunday, and because I got to do Ritual On The Internet that day and want to make note of what went on, while it was still fresh.
So. When I was a brand new Pagan, living away from my parents’ house for the first time, I was invited to do Ritual with a small group of school friends, some of whom were my age, and some of whom were Mature Students who’d been involved in witchcraft for decades longer than I had been. Being able to practice with other people – and other people who’d been doing it for A While and so didn’t need to read the scripts provided in Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner – was a really valuable opportunity, and one that I remain glad to have had.
I still remember the Imbolg ritual we did together, even though it’s been 20+ years since it happened. Partly, that’s because I got to do some improvised singing and, while doing so, I felt my Lady of Song grab me by the head and basically dribble me like a basketball (I just kept singing until she let go – it was surprising, but pretty cool).
But the other reason was that the whole ritual focused on pleasure and sensuality. The idea was literally “It’s still the middle of winter, which sucks, so lets do something that feels really good”. There was music, there was (a little bit of) dancing, there was a LOT of tasty food, and – years before the queer term “femme” ever entered my vocabulary – there was the link between sensuality and femininity and one of my Older Friends telling me “Never forget that your femininity is part of your feminism”.
When I dressed for Ritual today, I chose my hematite necklace for the iron ore that hints a Brigid’s forge. But I definitely found myself reaching for the pink tourmeline matinee strand with its “red goddess” connotations of love, pleasure, and sensuality. My Lady of the Sun – who is journeying back into her power, and is staying out noticeably longer these days – is a Red Goddess in the sense that, well, she tends to wear red, and she’s a Fire Lady because she’s literally the sun. But also because her wheelhouse includes a lot of Second Chakra Stuff like sex and desire, pleasure, money, energy exchange and boundaries.
So – hurrah – there’s a link between my earliest celebrations of this time of year, my current seasonal celebrations, and to how I relate to my Lady of the Sun more broadly.
That’s always kind of a relief, you know?
But it means that how I see Imbolg – as still within the realm of Winter’s dreaming time, as a period for asking “what do you desire” more than (or preceding) “what will you DO to get it” – doesn’t quite line up with how Imbolg gets treated outside of my own head: As a holiday for Brigid of the Well and the Forge, as a fertility festival associated with lambing season (okay, yes, it’s coyote mating season, or getting close to it – unsurprisingly it hits right around Lupercalia – but the sheep won’t be in labour until Spring Equinox around here), as a period of new beginnings, promise(s), planning, and commitments.
Calendar-wise, Imbolg is a counterpart to High Summer, the same way the Beltane and Samhain, Midsummer and Midwinter, and the Equinoxes share elements in common.
How does Imbolg fit with dreaming and desiring? How does it work opposite the sultry pause of High Summer? It’s like it’s the stretch-and-roll-over where you slip from deep rest into dozing or maybe lucid dreaming.
I did ritual with my girlfriend’s group today. And they do Imbolg as an oath-taking ceremony, more or less. An opportunity to look into Brigid’s well and scry for images of the Work you need to do in the world, a chance to put your hand on her anvil – like they do at Gretna Green in Scotland – and make a commitment to do it.
So. What I saw in the well:
The three of cups card from the Next World tarot deck
Joining hands (very wedding imagery)
Me and my two partners looking suspiciously like a Maiden-Mother-Crone collective
Handwriting in cursive, in a big book, black ink and a turkey feather pen
More hands joining (friendship/support)
I had gone into this thinking “I want to reach out to my friends more this year”. What I saw in the well, I think, does include this, but I think it’s a little broader than that, too. What I said at the anvil was:
“I will keep writing, and I will keep connecting people.”
So, here I am, writing, as the wheel turns again.
Obviously, I wasn’t thrilled to get this card when I clicked over to the random tarot card generator to pull something for my Tarot Card Meditation.
But it’s relevant.
Like all tarot cards, it’s got a bunch of different meanings that are context-dependent. I love both the idea of “the devil” as one’s Fetch, or as the shadow that guards the door to your personal underworld of “bits of myself I don’t like to look at”. I can look at what’s happening in my city right now – being occupied by a bunch of white nationalist losers pitching a collective tantrum, complete with harassing and assaulting people in my old neighbourhood, while our oversized and over-funded police force flat-out refuses to the job we’re grudgingly paying them to do and, instead, opting to pose for selfies with racist randos while patting themselves on the back for a job well done – and… yeah. The gross stuff that we (As predominantly centrist a city? As “white moderates”?) don’t like to look at in ourselves is screamingly on display right now.
So there’s that.
But this card is specifically for me, pulled on a day when I made a commitment, at a time when I’ve just changed jobs for something lower stress, lower hours, and closer to home. So: I’m inclined to read it closer to the Osho Zen definition of Conditioning.
And, look. I want to tread carefully with myself here, because I’ve spent I sizeable percentage of my life being Such A Snob about television, but: As much as I’m enjoying just vegging out watching streaming services, I’m also aware that I would probably do more creative stuff if I wasn’t sitting in front of a screen all day.
That’s been the case before, so it’s likely the case still.
So. Here I am, with extra time on my hands (YAY!) and less stress weighing on my mind (double-YAY!) and my gods have sent me a message of, basically, “don’t fritter this away”.
On Sunday night, I was thinking “I would really like a few extra hours to deal with catching up on house keeping, in a way that didn’t eat into my weekend”. And what happened? The new guy at my old job got in touch and said “Actually, I’m feeling pretty confident about tomorrow. I don’t think we’ll need to do that zoom call after all” and <*magical sparkles*> suddenly I had an extra two hours on Monday morning.
So I did a load of dishes, finished the sweeping, cleaned the bathtub, put in a load of laundry, and edited some poetry. It felt really good.
Today, between finishing Round One of sewing in my wife’s shop, and waiting for Round Two to become available, I’ve put away a second load of clean laundry, and I’m finishing this blog post. I’ll wash some dishes and type up some poetry edits once it’s in the scheduler.
My goal is to keep this up. To treat my work days as work days – including unpaid work like dishes and laundry, and creative work like various kinds of writing and editing – so that my weekends and evenings stay free for fun stuff like dates with my partners, watching movies, reading novels, and going to online dance parties, poetry readings, concerts, and discussion groups. Even if that work-time is only available two days – maybe three – per week, and the number of hours fluctuates depending on how much there is for me to do in my wife’s workshop, it’s still worth doing and I think it will make my life feel more fulfilling and less like a treadmill. Which I would like.
Movement: Not tonnes. I’ve been seriously avoiding the out-of-doors due to cold (among other things) and totally forgot to do my Moon Salutation last night. Some repetitive motion on the sewing machine is technically “movement” but it’s more the kind that I have to be careful with. My body is telling me to stretch more, so Moon Salutations, but also maybe a little bit of strength training (like “plank” type strength training) and witual workouts on youtube, are definitely in my near future. Also, my wife literally just said “It’s nice out! You should go for a walk, babe!” so: Seems reasonable, you know?
Attention: Okay. I’m totally doom-scrolling these days due to what’s happening down town. So there’s that. >.> On the plus side, I’m also keep my eyes up for small presses looking for chapbook submissions, because: I still have a chapbook looking for a forever home. So there’s that, too.
Gratitude: I am SO GLAD to be finished that job! Grateful for a soft place to land. Grateful for longer, easier mornings with my wife. Grateful for enough sleep. Grateful for time. Grateful for warm slippers and a space heater in the workshop. Grateful for clean cutlery. Grateful for warmer weather. Grateful (and proud of myself) that my debt is going down consistently. Grateful for cooking skills. Grateful for the weighted blanket that came, s a surprise, in the mail for me from my girlfriend. Grateful for movie nights. Grateful for a pile of books to read.
Inspiration: I… have no idea. Let’s say I’m trying to take inspiration from the slightly warmer weather, the longer hours of daylight, and the seed catalogue that arrived in the mail recently. I have no idea what effect that inspiration is going to have though, or what kind of creativity it’s going to inspire.
Creation: Er… see above. I’ve edited some poems. That’s about it. Maybe I will successfully write, or re-write a new glosa this week? Maybe?
I finished my poetry challenge, and at least a few of the pieces I drafted have some potential to become something good. Something that I noticed – and something that’s come up in a bunch of books I’ve read (everything from “money mindset” books to magic books to books on ecophilosophy) – is the whole idea of “What we speak, we bring into being”. Not in the simplistic sense of “If you mantra about being a Rich Witch you will become one” but in the sense of “language shapes thought, it shapes what we’re able to conceptualize”. (It’s why people with systemic social privilege so frequently get up in arms when marginalized and oppressed people start creating and using language that gives those privileges a name, or that gives them a name other than “that’s just normal”).
I find that, when I want to write about concepts of abundance and place-connection, I have a bad habit of, first, writing about lack and loss and disconnection (this is true whether it’s poetry or brainstorming about personal goals) – this can be a useful step for narrowing things down and finding patterns, but it’s also a place where I can get stuck. I have to remember to ask myself “Okay. If you don’t want X, Y, or Z… where do those Don’t Wants point you? What is the billiard ball direction of ricochet that you bounce towards when you rebound OFF Don’t Want?” If I want to <em>use my words, my breath, my voice, my song to work my will and make it manifest</em>… I need to know where I’m aiming my Will… or else all that potential energy will stall out rather than launching and transforming into kinetics.
A lot of the poetry I wrote/drafted over the course of this past lunar cycle was about the Don’t Wants. Some of it wasn’t. Some of it was about abundance and security that I already have, and about where I’m actually aiming. But a lot of it wasn’t, and that may mess with the effectiveness of the spell. None the less, I Did The Thing, and I was reminded that it’s not overly difficult or time-consuming to draft a single – mediocre, granted – poem every day. To have a tiny writing Practice that doesn’t stress me out and that I can stick to for a sustained period of time.
So there’s that.
My girlfriend has been visiting for two weeks, which was wonderful. She and my wife and I did Solstice all together for the first time. We walked down to the Winter Stone and made offerings – Laphroaig scotch and Angel’s Envy bourbon plus home-made cookies (coffee-almond-maple macarons, honey-spice cookies, and rose-poppyseed shortbread) – before my two girls went for a walk together for Metamour Time and I headed home to finish my work day.
My wife and I got to have a lovely anniversary together, too.
She made me a very fancy dinner, and we shared some chocolate and a bottle of our wedding wine (same type of wine, different year – Inniskillin’s Late Autumn Riesling) and chatted away on the couch together, while my girlfriend spent the evening with a couple of friends we’ve all been bubbled with for going on two years. It was absolutely wonderful.
My father-in-law came to visit for a couple of days (he arrived 24 hours after my girlfriend left) and just headed home again this morning. I’m relieved to have the house to myself for a bit and to be able to get my breath back.
Solstice is such a weird time. Weird because I’m over here balancing (a) my anniversary, (b) having a big shindig (not this year, obviously, but during non-plague times it was a thing we did every year) and filling the house with our friends, and (c) doing the actual Dreaming and Resting and Turning Inward that Midwinter is actually about – if you’re me, at any rate – and that’s before I even get to the part where I’ve got a bunch of not-religiously-Christian (but culturally very-much-so) family members who want to Do A Thing for Christmas and trying to balance all of those family obligations out around a day that, for me, is really just a quiet day that I mercifully don’t have to work on (unlike most stat holidays) and, had I my druthers, would probably spend reading a book, cleaning the house, and eating leftover Solstice goodies in peace.
I’ve dug out my copy of Seaking the Mysteries again and am looking forward to devoting more time to reading it and working through the writing/thinking prompts. The chicken carcass we hung out for the crows – on a big, copper hook hanging from a branch of our cedar tree – has finally been Investigated by a couple of locals. It wasn’t quite an “Offering Accepted” moment, but it was wonderful to see these big, black, umbrella birds hopping from branch to branch, checking angles and balances, before having a good nosh. I hope they come back.
What I’ve been up to:
At the Full Moon, I took myself down into my Luxury Astral Sea Cave. There was seaweed and salt water all over the floor, so (a) June’s been around, but also (b) I had to do some tidying up. I ate some of the seaweed, and a little snail – who wanted the company/food source of a planted bunch of bladder wrack and a tubeworm/anemone – has taken up residence in my grotto (hot tub?) and, as a result, my Luxury Astral Sea Cave now has a rudimentary filtration system that means I can do laundry and such-like without worrying about wrecking the open ocean (entire astral plane?) on the other side of the membrane.
I got a message on the memo pad that said “Succeed!” + “I can see growth / I can seed growth (/ I conceded growth?)” + “seeds”. Which means I’ve gone and popped 32 squash seeds onto my tiny office altar and, I think, I’ll be planting at least some of them in the spring. I sort of secretly think this is also hinting at a timeline? But we’ll see.
For Solstice, I came up with a little visualization that I did this morning that involved a walk through a wintery landscape and the question: “What does this dreaming winter landscape have to tell me about the kind of rest I need?”
What I saw in the ice/mirror: I saw Fetch, my child/animal/embodied self cutting out a garland of paper dolls.
Between this and the regimented lumber plantation that kept trying to assert itself, the message I got – that I hope is an accurate one – is that the kind of rest I need, that I would benefit from, is less about sleep and more about unstructured, non-productive but creative play.
It’s probably telling that my reaction to paper dolls is basically “But this is just so much garbage…” rather than “That looks like fun”.
So I’m asking myself:
In addition to take Sunday afternoons to read pagan theology, ecophilosophy, and similar, what kind of regular play date can I give myself – something like an Artist’s Date – that lets me PLAY in way that isn’t regimented and whose end-goal is “this was fun” rather than “I have produced a garment” or “I exercised” or similar.
I’m honestly considering buying myself a “stocking stuffer” package of water-soluble soap crayons or something and making a point of covering my bathtub tiles with green spirals and seaweed fronds or something. It could be fun. And it would be easy (I hope) to clean up, too.
I’m having that Just Before New Year’s warning feeling of “don’t make commitments you aren’t going to keep”, so I’m a little hesitant to stay spouting off about wanting to visit my Sea Cave on a regular and frequent basis, or wanting to get back to the nightly yoga routine that I stopped doing six months ago when I seriously wrecked my knee by going skateboarding for the first time. These are good things to want, and good things to do, and also: It’s six days ‘til 2022 and we all know what this time of year can be like. So. Maybe I’ll just sit on those for a week or two. >.>
Image: Slow Holler Tarot – Ace of Vessels – A Mason Jar with a storm, a lake, and a shooting star inside.
I use a random tarot card generator to pull my Card for this (waning) part of the Long Nights Moon. I went into it thinking “JUST the next week or so” but… wow, now that I’ve seen it: Gosh, I hope this is what 2022 has to offer.
The Ace of Water is the distillation of the whole suit. Emotional fulfillment. Creative inspiration and action. Job satisfaction. Time and space for self-nurturing. Artistic endeavors. Happiness. A full and open heart.
Yes, I want this.
And, yes, I have this.
Two partners who love me and care about each other. An end-date for the job that’s been stressing me out all year (I gave my notice 2 weeks ago, and have five weeks – aka 10 days – left) and an at-home job to replace it with that will be more flexible and lower-stress for everyone at home. The chance to breathe and to refill the well.
I look forward to welcoming it all further in.
Movement: 14-minute yoga (on youtube) with my girlfriend. Ambles in the woods and down to the bay. Walking to (bubbled) friends’ houses. A little bit of dancing. Nothing fancy, and nothing consistent, but some movement going on.
Attention: Watching the birds and squirrels out my window. Watching the weather and, tbh, the driving conditions. Watching my stress levels and paying attention to what conditions (foods, feelings – mostly feelings) give me stomach cramps vs which ones leave me feeling fine.
Gratitude: For everything. For my father in law coming to town. For two weeks with my girlfriend. For a really lovely 9th anniversary. For Winter Solstice music mixes. For online concerts. For crows in the cedar tree. For cardinals and chickadees being busy with their own lives, which overlap just a little bit with mine. For surprise xmas bonuses from 2/3 of my jobs. For having the extra cash to help out a friend. For another friend making a full recovery from an injury. For my brother’s good news. For my newest niece liking a very old family recipe. For cold, fresh air. For central heating and extra blankets. For sunshine. For starlight. For snowfall. For magic. For time with people I love. For time to just myself. For all the love that’s carrying me through my life.
Inspiration:Rooted, by Leandra Lynn Haupt. The jar of hazelnuts in my pantry (half of which are now home-ground and some of which have been added to another batch of maple-coffee macarons). The turning of the year and ways to incorporate the tastes of other seasons into my midwinter dishes. The astrological positions of the Moon. Wintery imagery. Snow falling in thick flakes at sunset, the red flash of a cardinal against the white-white-white of snow.
Creation: I haven’t written a poem since I finished my challenge. That doesn’t mean I won’t write lots more, but my focus has been elsewhere, in my kitchen and my craft cabinet. I’ve tweaked and re-written recipes that I made up years ago – what would my distant ancestors have used to make food special in winter? What do I have available now? – and had a good time making honey-walnut ice cream and coffee-hazelnut cookies. I (finally) finished a skirt, added button closures to the slippers I knitted two years ago (now they don’t fall off my feet!), and have picked up another knitting project that I put away nearly a year ago. It’s been nice to make things with my hands again!
Early December. The Season of the Hag starts today and, right on time, a snowfall. Just deep enough to cover the ground, but light enough that I can sweep my neighbour’s steps rather than getting out the shovel just yet. My wife is away for the weekend, with her girlfriend, and my girlfriend is due to arrive this coming Wednesday for a couple of weeks. She’ll still be here when this barely-new moon is full, and for a couple of days beyond that.
This weekend is going to be a mix of Trying To Relax combined with doing a lot of dishes, getting the second bedroom ready for her arrival, and probably doing a big grocery shop for thing like romano beans and veggie sausages and tempeh.
But it’s also the weekend I make a libation to the Hag of Winter, change the wreath on my front door, and put up the holly garlands by way of seasonal decorations.
Sadly, I didn’t get the extra hours from one of my comms jobs that I was hoping for. I’m not saying it won’t happen eventually, but it’s not happening going into 2022, so: Plan B is in effect. We’ll make it work. I’m looking forward to the day – 7-8 weeks from now – when I’ll have more time on my hands to do things like “stay on top of my kitchen” and “make things from scratch”. I still have a list of things I want to make – jars of romano beans and chick peas and stewing beef, honey-almond-cinnamon ice cream, apple butter, bread (it’s been AGES!), but also skirts, sweaters, button/lacing additions to the slippers I made 2 years ago – that will require time and focus that I haven’t (confession…) wanted to devote to “work” when the other kind of work has been so exhausting.
I’m looking forward the slow turning of Winter into Spring 2022 as a time – I hope – of welcoming my creativity back to wakefulness and finding a better balance between “work that makes me money”, “work that makes me HAPPY”, and “Actual LEISURE, Thanks”.
The voice at the back of my head – which is probably just plane old me and not the whisperings of Angler Fish June Cleaver (but who knows) – asks “Okay, so how are you going to make that happen? You’re still going to be working on Mondays and Tuesdays, just doing a different job. What’s the plan here, Me?” And, mostly, it just means getting out of bed before 9am and doing some of that Productive Home stuff in the hour or two before starting my money-making work day. Sewing or knitting while I chat with my girls and drink my morning coffee. Taking myself out of the house for a walk every Saturday morning. Making a point of shutting down work and reading a book for an hour once dinner’s on the go. Staying off social media more than I do (I say while blogging, um…) Just getting my priorities sorted in a way that makes me put the money-work away, deliberately, every day and that helps me avoid Mindless Scrolling.
Right now, there’s a grey squirrel eating birdseed on my window. A couple of crows have flown over the house – one of them just landed in the tree across the street). And my own little birds are preening and waking up now that there’s some afternoon light coming in through our north-by-northwest-facing window. I need to take myself back up the street and pick up some birdseed for them, I think.
Behold, the tarot cards I pulled today. More specifically, I pulled The Tower, Reversed and then, because landing on the tower isn’t strictly FUN even when it’s not scary, I basically said, “Okay, but then what?” nd shuffled until something fell out of the deck. Which, thankfully, was the very positive and reassuring Ten of Earth.
I’ll expand on this a little elsewhere, but my basic read on this is:
That which falls apart wasn’t meant to last.
After the struggle, you find your feet (your security, your sense of home and safety, your material well-being) again.
Don’t freak out.
I mean… I’ll take it. This is fine.
Movement: I went for a walk this morning, through the little bit of succession woodland near my house while the snow was falling.
Attention: Right this second? I’m paying attention to the stiffness in my back and neck, and to the smell coming from my oven so I don’t let my lunch/dinner burn by accident. Also hunting up new tunes to add to my Winter Solstice mix, and keeping an eye on the snow outside, which seems to have let up for now.
Gratitude: Thankful for an exit strategy, new-to-me clothes (hand-me-downs from my Mom, because I’m at the age where my style and my mom’s overlap enough that this works out), a quiet day, a walk in the woods, delicious lunch (lupper?) in the oven, clean mason jars, a video date this evening, my wife getting some Enforced Down Time, my girlfriend coming up to visit very soon(!), my friend continuing to make a swift recovery from her health scare, beeswax candles, just enough snow to be pretty without being difficult the move through, pretty music playing while I write this, having options that allow me to leave a job when I don’t like it. Grateful for love and support, and for being able to experience and accept those things as true.
Inspiration: Moon phases and astrological positions, weather, seasonal changes, local birds, the wind.
Creation:As I mentioned here, I’ve been drafting a poem (sometimes more) every day since the last Full Moon. It’s felt good to do, without being arduous. I may want to keep it going for longer than my one-lunar-cycle duration but, for now, I’m sticking with that and am at roughly the half-way point. Some of them are… mediocre at the absolute best. But some of them have some good bones to work with, which is nice to see given how long I went without reliably poeting for a while there.
It’s Last Harvest today. In keeping with eating the nasty bits at Samhain, I have beef heart marinating in red wine in the fridge right now. This afternoon – after editing a story submission – I will be hanging up more ancestor pictures in the hallway, then lighting my altar candles and doing a Silent Supper: Inviting my People to come in and visit, setting out a plate with a meal and glass of sortilege for those who want to show up.
I’ve never done this before. Not like this anyway. So we’ll see how it goes.
This month – the whole waxing and waning (almost – new moon is this coming… Thursday, I think) of Harvest/Ancestor Moon – has been a whirlwind. It started with my having the honour of officiating the wedding of a couple of friends of mine – I’m not legally licensed to solemnize a marriage, so the paperwork side was done beforehand through city hall, but it was lovely to be able to do the ritual in their back yard with their families and friends around them.
Side note: It was really neat to feel the Air Folk come in. It made me think of the magic I did to get this house, when I felt the Earth Folk arrive. They came because I was doing magic for housing and stability. It was cool to feel the Air arrive for a ritual of vow-making.
Other side note: I would love to be able to run this kind of ritual again.
After that, I basically got on a plane(!) and flew(!) to DC, to visit my girlfriend for our third(!) anniversary. Barring a slightly rocky start (below), it was a lovely visit. We took an impromptu trip to Chesapeak Bay and got to stand in the Atlantic – and get absolutely drenched in the waves – on our anniversary. We made apple pie and went for a night walk to look at the stars. We read stories to each other. We co-worked, because I was there for two weeks which meant more “domesticity” than “vacation”. It was good to have all that time with her.
The rocky start: The day I arrived, I got a wrecked phone call from my wife, telling me that my little bird, Fiona, had died. Which was pretty heart-breaking. A drive out to a pretty park turned into me sobbing in a parking lot for 40 minutes, grieving and devastated that I hadn’t been home when she died.
I buried her yesterday, just as the rain was starting, wrapped in corn husks and on a bed of tulip bulbs. I’m not expecting the bulbs to germinate – they were pretty old – but they were what I had.
One more family member in a year of losing family.
It’s time for me to sign off and do the final edits on a story-submission that’s due today.
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.
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. ❤
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.
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?
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. 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 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.
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.
Ms Syren (Meliad the Birch Maiden)
 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.
 Think of probably-glacially-made Avenue on Salisbury plain.