Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Midsummer musings

Hi everyone and Happy Solstice!

I'm about to sit down to my Summer Solstice ritual. Things are all over the place this year, possibly because I've been meditating way less than I should be. I feel scattered. Although, maybe that's just the fibro-brain.

A friend of mine and her band wrote a song about Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere - listen here. It's basically how I feel about this time of year. It's summer, and that's fine.... why have we adopted all these winter-based decorations? Can't we just celebrate the season we have? It's a great time of year to have Christmas. You can put strawberries in your champagne. You can play cricket on the beach. You can sit up until the sun sets around 9pm drinking gin and tonic on the deck. It's a great time to get together with family and exchange gifts and celebrate. And it's not like Midsummer wasn't a big celebration and time of gathering for the Heathens. Though they may have held it later in the year. No matter; the summer holidays basically last through until February. No one is expected to be productive from mid-December right through January. We even have two days off for New Years, presumably because everyone is expected to have a two-day hangover.

It's sort of odd, having been a Heathen and of a specific form of Hedgecraft for so long at this point. I saw a post on tumblr that used the phrase "Celtic Yule blessing" and my brain turned inside out in an attempt to wrap itself around that concept. Celtic. Yule. I went through "The Celtic religions don't celebrate the solstices!" and then "Why would a Celtic Pagan use the word Yule? That's a Norse holiday!" to a point where I tried to work out how a Celtic Pagan would even adapt a Heathen holiday for their own use, and why they would want to. 

It was hours later that I realised they didn't mean Yule, they meant eclectic-NeoPagan-Sabbat-at-the-winter-Solstice. Literally hours later that occurred to me. And then I got very slightly sniffy about it. Not of the "THEY NICKED OFF WITH OUR HOLIDAY NAME" variety, but of the "WHY WOULD THEY CALL THEIR HOLIDAY YULE IT JUST FUCKING CONFUSES PEOPLE" variety.

My brain still refuses to parse "Celtic Yule" as a concept. I just revert to "YOU CAN'T HAVE CELTIC YULE, THAT IS NOT A THING THAT HAPPENS". Then I throw up my hands and mutter to myself. Not a jab at OP, either; the person who posted the post was being helpful and is just repeating the basic ENP stuff that's been floating around for decades. It's not really vexing, it's just one of those things I find really odd and confusing. It probably annoys Celtic polytheists more than it does me. 

I've been seeing quite a few hedgehogs recently. Mostly squashed on the road. Last week I saw a little one rolled up in a sleepy ball under a hedge, and tonight, while I was walking my dog, I saw a little dark shape waddling across the footpath. It was a snuffly little hedgehog and he disappeared into the grass. My dog did not know what to think. Are they naturally more active in summer, or is it hedgehog breeding time, or what? I like seeing them around. Sweet little things. Plus they eat slugs, which is a godly duty.

Anyway. Time to take out the candles and set up the altar. It's ritual time.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Pagan Insights #13

I like to do these on the full moon, which is still a few days away, but now I've had the thought to post if I don't do it now then I'll forget and it'll be another three months before I get around to it again. But I wanted to do one, because there were some things I wanted to post. Although now I'm here I probably won't be able to remember what they were.

In your own words
Man, what to say. I feel... good. I mean, health-wise, I'm always up and down. Yesterday was really hard with fatigue and sore tender points on my hips, but I have a lot more energy today. I'm learning to take the bad days as they come, and recognise them and take the time to rest.  You can't always do all things all the time. I'm getting really into the "planning" community, filofaxy stuff and that, and I've put a kikki.k planner on my Hexmas list (thanks Evil Supply Co. for that one!). I'm all into paper-crafty stuff, and papers and stamps and pens at the moment.... I mean I've always loved stationery and this gives me another out to go MAD with buying bits and pieces. If I could ever work out what exactly I wanted to go in it, I could put all this stuff to work in my Book of Shadows!

Post a pic
Here are a couple from my area. The first is a kererū, or NZ wood pigeon, sitting on the kowhai tree in my back garden. They love those things and fight with the tuis over them in spring and early summer. The second is one of the local beaches. The island on the right is the volcano Rangitoto.

Musical musings
Why is the thing I post here never really all that Pagan? 
My song of the moment is Lorde's Yellow Flicker Beat. I love this girl's groove. Did you see her at the AMAs? Daaamn though. Fuck it I'm just gonna post that video, because that lipstick smudge is PERF.

I love the way she dances. There's an ecstatic element to it.

Action, Action!
All my rituals seem to be late lately. I bought some framboise liqueur for Hel, Freyja and Freyr. I love that flavour, associate it so much with Hel. It's really more of an autumn thing, but my choices were limited. I've been slacking on my studies, which is bad of me. I tend to remember on Sunday night and think "welp too late now". I have to learn to plan my time better and then stick to that plan (which is the hard part). My head's always in the clouds.

I'm learning so much about history from Our Troth I. I assume it's accurate enough, though I'm not putting huge amounts of trust in it, as you never know when the author is not an established historian. So much of the stuff about the "Steppe Peoples" or early Indo-Europeans, pre-migration, is so fascinating. There's a long section describing ideas of who their gods were, and that they honoured "the sky gods on rectangular altars facing east, and the terrestrial gods on round altars facing west".  The idea of Tyr and Odin as descended from a one-handed "Bright Father" and a one-eyed "Seer" respectively is fascinating. Recommended reading for Heathens, definitely.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Blue Skies, Green Grass

I love early summer.

In general, I'm not a summer person. The sun is too bright, and hurts my eyes. The heat is oppressive, as is the humidity. Summer lingers far too long, while autumn and winter are always too short.

But early summer is nice. Early summer brings with it a quiet contentment that suffuses through everything that lives. Plants grow and animals bask in the sun. The air is still cool enough to refresh so that the heat of the sun is not oppressive. The blue of the sky, the brightness of the colours, are a novelty. The joy of the season touches everyone.

By December the novelty will have started to wear off and the heat will be making me grumpy, but for now, with the first day of summer - Beltaine for some - on the horizon, I can't resist the vibrancy of the season.

I've been neglecting this blog lately. You don't know how often I think "Man, I should post to Hagstone", or taken a picture I want to post, and then thought, "nah, I'll do it later" and never get around to it. It was the weather that pushed me into it today. I was jotting down a few thoughts in a notebook and felt moved to write about to people who would understand. Though I suppose for most of you it's nearly winter.

I'm in a state of change, or at least I feel that way. I'm on a new medication for my fibromyalgia, which might help, I suppose. I feel more positive, like I'm getting on top of things at last. I'm branching out, trying new ideas, determined to make something of myself, to make positive changes in all aspects of my life.

In that vein I've started a Patreon for this blog. I figure it'll make me more likely to post, if nothing else! Don't feel obliged to back me, but do go and check out Patreon if you haven't before. There's likely some artist or other whose work you love that you'd like to back.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to read under a tree, and breathe the cool air. ♥

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Spring Growth

I'd slacked off on my Equinox ritual.

The Sabbat itself was two days ago and I was meant to do a rite last night, and the night before. But you know how these things are - sometimes they don't happen the way you'd like, and sometimes they end up better because you'd waited. 

There's a little bush walk near where I live. I take my dog there often, and he runs about amongst the trees while I stroll along the path. There's a little wooden bridge that I sit on sometimes, to listen to the birds and relax. Today when I headed out, it was the most lovely spring day you can imagine. It still is, outside my window right now. The sun is shining, but it's not too hot. There's a cool breeze. The colours are vibrant, but the light isn't too bright. The world is basking in springtime. So today on my walk, I took my time, enjoyed the walk.

When I got to the bush and let Rocco run around and amuse himself, I sat cross-legged on the little bridge. It was so easy to fall into a meditative state of mind. (I wonder if fibromyalgia helps on that score. Brain-fog can ease your mind that way sometimes.) I sat and then decided I would do my ritual then and there. 

I called my Lady and my Lord, and hailed the spirits of the earth. I hailed the elements and thought of the Equinox, and of the light half of the year into which the Wheel has now turned. I often resent spring, because it leads into summer and the sun begins to burn more harshly, but today was too lovely and it was only the joys of spring that filled me. I saw my Lady bedecked in blossoms with Her hair shining gold like the sun, and my Lord with new green growth curled around His antlers and climbing up His legs. I held my hands up to the treetops and sank my roots into the earth. The rite was brief, and interrupted once when I thought my dog had come across some ducklings, but wonderful all the same, and afterwards I strolled back and forth through the bush and found forget-me-nots and finches and tuis and fantails. 

When I gathered up my dog and started off home I felt more like myself than I have done in years.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Playing at Pagan

I wrote the bulk of this post after finishing Witch Crafting by Phyllis Curott. Something she said near the end of the book stuck in my craw. I've been musing over it for a while now, asking others for their thoughts.

Curott is not alone in what I'm about to discuss - those who have read The Spiral Dance by Starhawk will recognise it. It is the concept of the gods not as real entities, but as, to use Curott's words, "anthropomorphic metaphors".

I know there are Pagans who don't believe in gods. That's fine. There are Pagans who view deities as archetypes or, indeed, anthropomorphic metaphors with whom one can work to understand more about one's own mind, in a Jungian sort of way. But I had, heretofore, imagined that most of these not-really-theistic Pagans were up front about it. You come across them, from time to time. Even if one disagrees with how they refer to the gods, they tend to be honest about their beliefs. But, as I have discovered, it is not always so.

What I don't really understand is why a person would bother spending so much time and effort writing about deities they don't believe in, from the standpoint - or the guise - of a religious person. Why spew forth love over ten pages for a goddess you don't actually think is real? Why, indeed, hold ritual several times a year for a deity you don't believe exists? Why the pretence? It seems so dishonest.

I suppose it would explain all the rampant disregard for deities, cultures and myths you get in these books. They're not real, so why does it matter? Of course there are no mistakes (as Curott cheerfully tells us). It doesn't matter if you call in the wrong god (!) because not only is he just an aspect of this other god, this other god himself is just a metaphor.

But that reduces whole traditions down to just play-acting. People writing books about playing at being Pagans. You can understand it when teenagers get into it for a month or so, hold some dramatic rituals in the part and then lose interest and refer to it as their "Wiccan stage". Because... well, OK, you can't really understand it, but at least they have the excuse of youth, and at least they tend to get over it fairly quickly. But this sort of thing is on a whole other level.

Is this because so many people have based their practice on Wicca, but have not been initiated? have no way to contact the deities of Wicca? That would make sense; they try to contact the deities and, with no luck, assume said deities are metaphors and then focus their rituals on self-help and general back-patting.

For me rituals are always an experience of closeness and worship and dedication and love and friendship with the deity for whom that ritual is held. They are, usually, moving and important experiences. I'm fine with the concept that a ritual might be more for me than the gods, because I sometimes do get that impression from the gods while performing ritual, depending on the ritual in question. But I just have a great deal of difficulty with the idea that they have so little focus on the deities. If they're not a part of your faith, then they're not a part of your faith. Be honest about it.

There's a term, play-gan, and I forget who came up with it. (Sorry.) Pagans who view the whole thing as a giant LARP. Not believing in gods but pretending to hold rituals for them because it's fun... or something. It's fun to pretend to be a witch, or a Pagan, or a mysterious person in black who holds rituals with candles and knives!

I just... I don't understand it, and I find it both frustrating and upsetting.

Especially if you don't believe in the gods and then you go and write a book about the gods and how you worship them. I mean, not-really-theistic? Fine. Hold rituals your own way in your own space? You know what, totally not my business, like, whatever. Write books about your love for the goddess you don't actually believe in? That's where I get totally confused. It feels seriously dishonest to me. It does. Sorry.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Playing with Threads

When I was younger, I very much liked Tamora Pierce (actually, I still do) and I read her "Circle of Magic" series. I love storms and I was overweight and shortsighted, and more at home with books than with people, so I identified strongly with Tris, the storm mage. She matched me far better than any of the other circle-of-four mages, and in many ways I feel still does. I still wear glasses though I'm no longer overweight, and I'm still more at home with books than people. I still love storms more than nearly anything - wind and rain, thunder and lightning.

But I've come to realise I am also very much a "thread" person. Storms are impressive, and fun, and exciting, but thread is practical. With thread you can join two things together, mark things as your own, create clothes or latches or jewellery. When I make a new cord for a pendant, I do it by plaiting together three strands of thread, and I weave energy into them as I do so. A plaited thread can store energy. Embroidery can weave intent into cloth. I have a fondness for cross-stitch, as it's very simple and can also be done while one's mind is elsewhere. There's a sense, when one stabs one's needle through the cloth, of prehistory; I feel an echo of bone needles stabbing sinew through leather. That, though, is something I will never do, as if I was to do it it would be something of a waste of good leather! Other people can do it better than I, so I will leave them to it and buy the result of their craftsmanship. But I do like the sensation of needle-stabby, and I like making an image from something so simple as a cross. 

I would like to do more in the way of devotional pieces, but there are few good Pagan designs and the make-your-own programs are a bit strange. I wouldn't like to try a devotional piece designed through such a program and have it come out looking awful. So for now I focus on a face of Jack Skellington.

Knots have a finality to them. Witches' Ladders and knot-spells are some of my favourites because they are simple, but also because the act of trapping energy - or fate or desire - within a knot makes a great deal of sense to me. Of course, a knot spell isn't "right" for everything; tying knots isn't going to be the solution to every problem. But I use them when I can, because they appeal so much to me.

A part of me also rebels against the thread, because I associate embroidery and sewing - along with baking, cooking, housekeeping - with housewifery, which has never appealed to me and which I find rather repellent. Sandy from Circle of Magic was never really my sort of person, and nor was her mentor Lark. They were homey people, and I'm more what you'd call a hermit. I will, occasionally, bake, but I feel out of sorts when doing so unless it is early autumn and the right-sort-of-day to be baking. (I have made scones in the past. Honestly that's the only thing I can remember baking.) I'll also make something if I really have a hankering for it, but that's about it. I don't like to cook anything that takes longer to make than it does to eat, because I feel a time deficit if I do. I'd rather buy clothing than make it myself. But I like the sensation of cross-stitch, so occasionally I'll feel the need to do something with my hands while I watch TV, and off I'll go to buy a cross-stitch pack or a set of threads. I've discovered I prefer bookmark packs, as when you've finished you get something useful out of it rather than something you'll put in a drawer and forget about. It's also a bit of a mission finding designs that aren't insipid and distressing, but there are more little "Fuck You" collections around nowadays. I found one on flickr not long ago with a Black Books quote: "Whores will have their trinkets". Best thing ever. But, as I say, a part of me does not like the idea of working so much with thread. That's a part of myself that I ignore because thread is practical, and I'd be a fool to discard something so practical, simple and easy to find in favour of something big and flashy. When in need, a bit of stray thread from clothing will work just as well.

Even the act of tying things together has an appeal and a finality that works so well in my craft. Thread joins like to unlike. Thread transforms - but it doesn't transform in the manner of cooking, or of chemical reaction. Thread transforms in the manner of change of state: water to ice to water. Thread can be unpicked. Knots can be untied. It can be cut or unwoven. Pull in the right place and a whole working can be undone. Thread echoes magic; you can twist it around your fingers into shapes or capture someone's wrist. Other things can be tied - sheep gut, wire, plastic - to make music. Rope can hoist a sail or keep secure. Knots are magic.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Pagan Insights #12

It's been forever! I can't even really tell you why. I feel like I've been moving forward with the fibro and the anxiety, makin' important strides for myself, keeping up with my Heathen study even (for the most part!). I was meant to update this blog once a week and I've left you hanging for over a month (she says, flattering herself that you all look forward to posts). I figured, what better way to get back into things than with a PIP entry?

In your own words
Winter is here, but not as cold as it could be. Some days I find myself in a t-shirt, which bothers me, because winter shouldn't be t-shirt weather. Today is chilly, though. I've been waking earlier in the day, which is good. I even caught a few sunrises, which was a seriously magical thing. I think in my last post I talked about the magic of dusk, and dawn is magic too, in ways which are similar and at the same time utterly different. I want to experience more dawns. They are still and quiet and sacred. 

Post a pic
You get two pics! The first is from one of those dawns I was talking about. Low in the sky you can see the crescent moon, and above it, Venus. Apologies for the quality.... my big camera was out of battery (to my utter dismay) and I had to make do with a phone camera.

The other is a toadstool I found while walking my dog the other day. I love seeing these things, they're so story-book. I feel like there are more around now than there were when I was a kid. Shortly after taking this picture, the dog ran over it and squished it. Sigh.

Musical Musings
It's not really Pagan-y, but I am really into "The Joy of DH Lawrence" by Erik Enocksson right now.

Action, Action!
Haha oh man, I have been so bad at my nightly prayers recently. So bad. I can't even tell you. Once I've gotten into bed I just don't want to get up for my prayers at my altar. I keep reading about morning prayers and twice-daily meditations etc people do and think "I would be so into that" and then completely fail to follow up on it. I am a lame-o.

I bought a claw, in silver, because I thought it was beautiful. When I started wearing it it felt like it fit me in a way a piece of jewellery hasn't in a long time. This past Old Year's Night, I asked my Lady to bless it. It doesn't feel as much of a tool as my old pewter pendant did, but it still feels special in some way. It's interesting, though, that different metals feel a bit different magic-wise. I hadn't really thought about it before, although it stands to reason. Pewter I feel like I can really use as a launching pad, something to bounce myself off've or as an amplifier, while silver is much more sly and whispering and reserved. Maybe it has something to do with the way pewter is an alloy, and has been smelted together, while silver is just its own thing.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Winter's here already!

I hold winter-finding, my Heathen autumnal holiday, on the first cold day after the autumnal equinox. This year, it didn't fall until April 20th. It's a little unnerving, to have had such a long summer. In fact, now that the cold weather seems to be staying put, the change from summery to autumnal temperatures seems abrupt, and the cold nights have set in so quickly, and before I know it it's halfway through May and winter is here, already! 

It's good to be able to wear all my long-sleeved tops again, but we have no fire this year, so it won't be the same. 

I feel a bit cheated out of my autumn. I love autumn. The rain, the smells of the season, the long,  early twilight. The cool air and the peace. The blues and greens and browns - the trees knew when autumn was meant to be, and many have shed their leaves by the time it rolled around. 

And now it's winter - well. Not insofar as we've had a morning frost, or anything like that, but I went outside at 4pm today and the shadows were long, and the sun was so near to the horizon, and it felt like winter. The twilights are shorter now, too, somehow. That's something I'd never noticed before with the changing of the seasons. 

I haven't yet held my Old Year's Night ritual, but I plan to do so tonight. It's a week late, almost, but I keep missing holidays and I really feel that I have to hold this one, to usher winter in. It's my favourite holiday. My Heathen celebration will wait until I smell winter properly in the air. I'll know when the time is right. 

Sorry to have left you so long without a post. I feel like I've been a bit.... all over the place, for the last couple of months. It's really time to pull myself together - I mean, actually pull all my projects and bits and pieces inwards, and look at them and take stock and centre myself and work properly with them. But it's that time of year, really. Introspective. 

Oh but you have no idea how happy I am that it's winter. I missed this season so much. The summer was unbearably long.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

I had a great idea for this post last night, lying in bed, but I didn't write it down and now I've forgotten what it was. EFFIN TYPICAL.

I haven't held my equinox ritual yet, slacker that I am. Time got away from me, somehow. I want today to be a "faith-focused" day; with this, and that, and the other thing, I still feel like my faith and my craft are not properly "integrated" into my everyday life the way I would like. My anxiety took a massive toll on my spirituality that I'm still struggling to get back. 

But the gods - or my wyrd - conspire to get me back to what I should be doing. Occasional pain flares from my new friend fibromyalgia force me into meditation to keep a handle on things. I've started using prayers and chants as "mantras", to calm and focus myself. "The earth, the air, the fire, the water, return return return return" works quite well, and I've been using another I wrote myself: "Lord of the Dance, You are the Rhythm, Lady of Music, You are the Song".

I was fussing about with the Standing Stones BoS last night, and Cunningham actually has some quite interesting ideas. I don't even cast circles and I like the idea of his stone gates. And his prayers are rather nice. I'm trying to re-work one or two.

Looking through the Big Book o' Spells at the moment for interesting looking love spells. Autumn is the wrong time of year for it, I know, but I'm bored! I want someone to rub my back, and be supportive, and... and various things. There are lots of ideas in here, but none that appeal to me, and if they don't appeal, how can they work? There's not much in here that I feel I can re-work, but there's still more to get through. What's this one stuck in my head... Sweet Mother, Sweet Mother, bring your child unto me, for the sins of the unworthy m- wait, no, that's something different. 
Still. Interesting. Could be reworked. "Sweet Mother, Sweet Mother, bring Your child unto me, for I wish for a lover who will rub my back". Ha.

My stick is still standing in the corner of my room. I have this idea that I'd like to bless it in my equinox ritual and then have it ready for dedication at Old Year's Night. I'd like to sand it, maybe wrap it round with thread. I have some nice read thread somewhere, and some green. And I could hang some agate beads from it, or some moonstone. Maybe some silver charms. And feathers.


Friday, March 14, 2014

A Storm's Rolling In

Cyclone Lusi is a category 3 tropical cyclone and is headed my way. I am so fucking pumped! We haven't had a decent cyclone since I was a kid! ....which is the general feeling among people my age. We're a nation who will go down to the beach to get a good view of a storm surge. We're pretty daft that way, although we prefer to think of ourselves as a hard lot. So we're looking forward to it, in a foolish, my-emergency-kit-is-not-up-to-standard unprepared sort of way.

There's also a fairly decent chance my room could get crushed by a tree. The Norfolk pine outside my house is afflicted with some manner of disease, and the top half of it is brown and dying. Bits may well fall off and land on my roof. Also the cat will want to stay outside because he hates being inside when it's windy. I know he'll probably find somewhere warm and snuggly under the house and be safe as safe can be, but I'll still worry. And I'll still try to get him inside even if he yowls in protest all night. 

Right now, the skies are grey. It is like any other overcast day. But the wind is beginning to pick up, just a bit. Normally it wouldn't mean anything much, but it seems more portentous when you know a storm's on the way.

The dogs are agitated today. I don't know if they know on some level that a storm's on the way or they're just being a pain in the arse and I'm over-attributing. 

I'll have to appeal to Thor for His protection, lest the house collapse or something. 

Moving on.

I was walking my puppy yesterday in the early evening. I turned down a shortcut, a path between two houses, high fences, thinking about times I'd walked down there before. It was twilight, just when the sun has dipped below the horizon and the sky is darkening, but still pink in the west. Not dark but no longer really daylight. It's such a bizarre time, so surreal, that it honestly felt, walking down that path, that it would be possible to take a wrong step and find myself in the past, or the future. That in the twilight moment, it could be possible to move through time. Cross worlds. Literally find oneself, accidentally, in an Otherworld, the kind which one returns from to find a hundred years have passed.

I've talked before about Border Country. But now I wonder that I don't perform more spells and rituals at twilight, when things are so... insubstantial. It's absolutely something that I'll have to focus more on in the future. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Books and Tools

I'm thinking more "spiritually" lately. Which is good. I feel like I'm returning to a place I haven't been in years. I'm working spiritual study further into my schedule, and I'm putting myself back in the "new student" role and taking a look at some 101 books with new eyes.

This week's endeavour is Green Witchcraft by Ann Moura, that I might review when I'm done with it. So far, it's less awful than I thought it would be, but still pretty disappointing. I imagine it's worse if you're a new witch, picking it up hoping for something new and interesting. Most of it is basic sabbat info or stories about the author's family (who cares??) and it's filled with contradictions. On one page she talks about how her Catholic mother was a "green witch", and on the next says "green witchcraft" worships two soft-polytheistic deities. It's a religion or it isn't; make up your mind! There's a lot of info that's flat-out wrong, so not one for the newbies after all. (Freyja does not "represent peace"! Hagalaz doesn't mean "karma"! I mean I don't even know where you got that information.)

Still, despite the "wtf is she talking about?!" I'm actually enjoying getting back into those old books. I've never read Green Witchcraft before; it's been sitting inside my altar for forever, waiting for me to get around to it, and happened to be near the top of the pile when I went spelunking for a Pagan book to read, so that's the one I grabbed. I'm in a "glean what you can" mood, and the rituals are interesting. There's one where you apparently get given a secret name by your gods and a part of me really wants to give it a try to see if it works. I can't help but wonder what happens if you subscribe to Moura's religion and do this ritual, and you don't get a name. Are you, like.... a failure? Did you do the ritual wrong? Are you not worthy? I wish I could ask her. 

A month or so ago I was walking the dogs and I found a stick lying at the edge of a sports field. I imagine some kids had found it and were trying to make it into a staff before they were instructed by a parent to leave it alone. At any rate, only a few twigs needed to be removed to make it into a rather good staff. It will need some sanding, and maybe I'll carve some things into it, and stick other things onto it, or something. Then all that will remain is to find a use for it! A staff is a sort of tool that I've always sort of wanted, but never really had a use for.... although thinking about it, it would make a rather good conduit to the Otherworld. Carve some Raidho on there, hang my witch's ladder from it, maybe some feathers... What do you think?

I like to buy myself birthday and Yule presents each year, as sort of like.... self-love I guess, self-appreciation. This year for my birthday, I bought a silver fox's claw from Blood Milk Jewels. I saw it and thought, "yes, this is meant to be mine". It arrived yesterday, and it's perfect. It felt like a part of me from the moment I put it on. I don't want to take it off, but the patina might come off if I shower with it, and right now, it's on a beautiful chain that I don't want to break. Once I find some pliers so I can take the claw off its chain, I'll put it on a length of cord so I can wear it every day without worrying about breaking the chain. Then I can keep the chain for more special occasions. 

You should check out the shop, though. There's lots of witchy type jewellery. Hand made silver gorgeousness - but it's pricey, so tempt yourself at your own risk!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Review: Oracles of Shadows and Shapeshifters

So I thought it was about time I did a little review of my two new backs of oracle cards. They are both by Lucy Cavendish and illustrated by Jasmine Becket-Griffith, in her trademark large-eyed style. Each comes in a nice little box with a compact book. Some people may prefer to keep their cards in bags; I tend to prefer to keep them in their boxes unless they come with a book and the box is too big (or too flimsy). These boxes are small enough that they're fine for storage, and the cardboard is solid.

The cards are huge. They're glossy, but once you've got them out of the package and gone through them, they don't seem to stick; they're easy to shuffle. They're really quite beautifully presented. The backs are non-reversible, but there aren't reversible meanings anyway. I like how detailed they are, and how vibrant.

The books have two to three pages for each card, as well as an introduction and some sample spreads. Honestly I find the books a little difficult to parse. I've only just started working with the cards, but the book meanings don't always seem to necessarily work with the reading you're doing. Part of that may be the way I'm reading them and the questions I'm asking. Some of the meanings are kind of twee, especially when Cavendish addresses you from the POV of the card's subject, and it can be a bit tricky to get the meaning from a fairy's attempt at a pick-me-up. I get the feeling that the more general your question, the more easily they read; both decks seem to be more about guidance than questions about specific areas of life.

Each card's page in the accompanying book has three sections: an "About" that describes the nature of the card's character ("The Grumpy Red Fairy" is tired of being judged"); a "Speaks" section wherein the character gives advice directly to the reader ("Let's burst their boring bubble and go wild!"); and a "Divination Message" section wherein Cavendish explains what the card may mean in a reading ("When the Grumpy Red Fairy comes to play, it may be time to really just be your own true self"). This.... can be a bit confusing. And, as I mentioned, twee.

But when it hits on something, the three sections chime very well. Looking through Shadows and Light earlier today when I was taking pictures for this post, I drew a single card for myself. It was the Violet Angel, and she read "Breaking Dawn". The "About" section promised new beginnings, possibilities, hopes and positive changes. The "Speaks" section mentioned "there are times lately when you've felt... that your physical body has become exhausted - almost as if you were born tired!" and I can't tell you how relevant that's been to this week. I've had bad fibro days, felt weak as a kitten and beyond exhausted, so I was quite amazed to read this. It also mentioned waking up earlier in the morning, which I have been doing this week, to tend to the dogs, and take my puppy for a walk. It has been difficult, but I have been doing it. The "Message" speaks of "fresh hope after a difficult time", of early rising and trying new things. Everything felt so incredibly relevant, which is encouraging as I am having some trouble with these decks.

The Oracle of Shadows and Light is fairy-tale themed, but with a focus on misfits and outcasts. Personally, I'm not into the "sparkly things with wings" fairies generally, but these ones represent more sort of hidden concepts to me. So, I think because of the number of fairy cards, the number of people who would really love this deck is a bit reduced, just because some people who are into the misfits-and-outcasts aspect might be turned off by the sparkly aspect. There is quite a mix of characters, though, with angels, mermaids, and strange little girls.

 The Kali card is beautiful but seems a bit out of place; she's the only goddess represented in this deck. (The Oracle of the Shapeshifters likewise has a single deity: Quetzalcoatl.) I think going with a more generic "fairy of destruction" or "angel of death" card may have been a better option.

Shadows and Light is I think made with the spiritual type in mind. There are certainly cards that encourage one to do vaguely spiritual activities such as wake up early and walk in nature. But it's still a deck that reads well for most people, and across various parts of one's life. Even the more spiritual cards have a definite physical, "mundane" aspect to them as well. My Violet Angel spoke of beginnings across the spectrum of life, not just spiritually.

Here's a sampler of a few of the cards I rather like in this deck. Autumn is my Last Chance is so sorrowful, the Two Little Witches so utterly creepy, the Shallow Grave so quiet, restful, sadly fatalistic. The whole deck is quite dark, but not in the same way as, say, the Bohemian Gothic Tarot. This deck is more about moving as one of the misfits, about the hidden secrets of the world.

 The Oracle of Shapeshifters is, says the accompanying book, about change. To me, it seems to be more specifically about spiritual growth. It sounds weird to say, but I honestly would be hesitant about reading this deck for people who don't have a big spiritual focus in their lives. I occasionally do a reading on twitter or tumblr, for friends who are kinda into tarot but not (I hate myself for saying this) "magical types", and I feel like if I read this deck for them, I'd have to "translate" parts of it. Not because they wouldn't "get it" but like they don't have the context for it or they might be a bit scornful and they'd just be like "are you serious?" or something. (Some of my friends who say "sure, give us a reading" are particularly non-spiritual types who chime in for funzies. I have no problem with that; it's good practise, they're always pleased and I especially enjoy it if a reading seems to chime with them. But I'm still not keen on saying "you'll tap into the wisdom of the stars" or something.) A lot of the meanings are geared specifically towards the spiritual aspects of your life, so if you're looking for an all-purpose deck, I don't know that this will necessarily suit your purposes. On the other hand, if you're looking for a deck to help you along your own spiritual path, this might be great for the work you're doing at the moment. I mentioned above that the Oracle of Shadows has a spiritual focus too, but I found that deck a lot easier to read for others as there is more of a cross-over to other parts of life. If I felt a bit uncomfortable mentioning a spiritual aspect in a reading, I'd avoid that element of the card.

Again you have a few mermaids, a few fairies. Every card features an animal of some kind, from the impressive and popular like the wolf, to the humble hedgehog, to the poor misfits who never get spiritual representation, like the deep-sea angler fish. It feels much "greener" than Shadows and Light, which is a deck more caught in a shadowy, misty world of secrets. Shapeshifters is rooted in this world - admittedly reaching over towards that other world somewhat with its fairies and mermaids.

Some of the cards I like... Wolf Moon is the card that first drew me to this deck a year or two ago. It reminds me of a book I loved as a kid, Tanith. Little Red Riding Hood is challenge, strength and agency. The Deep Dark Sea Mermaid is curious. I can't help but think of her looking up restfully at the stars shining through the ocean, though of course it would be impossible to see them from the depths. And Once Upon a Midnight Dreary feeds into my Poe obsession. She's an obsessed little artist with clever, helpful feathered muses.

Despite some similarities, the two decks don't really mesh. I bought them both because I thought I could mix them together and make one super-deck, but upon handling them, that really won't work. They both feel very different, very separate. Little Red Riding Hood and Once Upon a Midnight dreary, for example, look like they could be picked up from Shapeshifters and slotted into Shadows and Light without a problem, but in practice it doesn't work so well. They just feel out of their element. That's not where they belong.

Honestly, these decks are worth it to me just for the production value and the art. They're vibrant and gorgeous, and the illustrations have tonnes of character. Right now, I can't speak too much about how well they read, as I've only just started working with them; I've been working mostly with tarot for years and I think oracle decks like these will take a while for me to get used to. The meanings provided in the books are unusual for me, and I have difficulty wrapping my head around them. I do think a part of that is working how what sort of things they are best used to answer. Having said that, personally I wouldn't recommend them to the cartomancy beginner. They're a tricky shape, and have a bit of a feisty nature - which, given the cards, is to be expected.

You can get your hands on the Oracle of Shadows and Light here
and the Oracle of the Shapeshifters here

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Nature: it's kind of gross really

The "rocky shore" is one of those really "witchy" sorts of places. It's full of life, and potential tools. It's Border Country, places that are ocean one moment and earth the next. It's a spiritual place, for me. But it never fails that I go down to the shore that I am reminded how utterly gross nature can be.

It's not just the weird little insect creatures, or the hideous sand hoppers. It's the slime. Gods, the slime. And the really slippery, manky mud that looks like normal mud but whoops now you're on your arse. Like don't think you can sit down, because everything's covered in mank. No meditating for you on the rocky shore.

I was in the garden the other day, just sitting on the ground throwing a ball for the dog, and I look down and beside me there is a SPIDER. See that's the thing with nature. It looks pretty, and there are big trees and big fluffy animals, but then when you actually go into it it's pretty much just spiders and centipedes and other hideous stuff.

Even us witches who are all about bones and the Wild Wood and darkness and rot and shit like that tend to forget it's not all lovely maggots and leeches, some of it is CENTIPEDES. Fucking centipedes! GOD I HATE THEM. And cockroaches! I don't care if it's inside or outside if I see a cockroach I will get some bug spray and fucking kill that little bastard. 

OK so story time, once I was going to sleep and I saw something moving and it was a cockroach! in my bedside drawer, so I thought "no way I can get it out of there right now" and shut the drawer. Then for good measure, I moved my pillow down the other end of the bed. I went to sleep. At 5am I woke up with a scritching feeling on the juncture of my thigh and my crotch, just at the line of my underwear. IT WAS THE COCKROACH. IT WAS TRYING TO GET INTO MY PANTIES. I mean what if I hadn't been wearing any?! It could have been crawling over my genitals. Maybe INTO my genitals! AND LAID ITS EGGS IN MY VAGINA. 

So basically I hate cockroaches and I will kill them all forever. Meanwhile centipedes are so utterly terrifying that I won't even go near them, and I am convinced spiders want to attack me. When I was 12 of them fell off a tree onto my head and I thought it was a twig so I reached up to brush it out, but it was a spider and it grABBED ONTO MY FINGER. I screamed like the little bitch I was and flailed my hand around and then burst into tears.

So next time you want to go running naked through a green meadow and then fall down into the grass laughing, remember that you could land on a centipede and it might crawl into your hair.

NEXT TIME on Nature Is Gross: parasites that live inside you.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Return of the PBP: C is for Cernunnos

Today was going to be B for Baphomet but pretty much just read the wikipedia page. It was a name for Mohammed as interpreted by the Europeans, and then Levi attached it to his idea about some Sabbatic god he thought Pagans worshipped and then Crowley got into the idea. So like if you're a Thelemite, I getcha, Thelema's got its own thing going on, but if you're a witch being all "I worship Baphomet" then idk man. Like unless you're a Muslim as well then idk. 

So instead, C is for Cernunnos.

Cernunnos is a Gallic god worshipped by the ancient Gauls. We have only one recorded instance of his name. It is assumed that the name applies to the familiar cross-legged figure with the torc and the snake, as well as various other representations of horned deities across the Celtic world. Assumed, mark you, not certain; we don't really know for sure, we can only guess, as there is no written information about this god. Only that one name, in that one place.

We know bugger all about this god. We can guess that he is associated with fertility because he is often presented with animals. That's about it. Gallic reconstructionists and other worshippers of Cernunnos thus have to utilise a tonne of UPG in their worship. Having to utilise a lot of UPG is hard; it's like walking on a tightrope without a net underneath you. And in a way that's particularly fascinating, although my Gallic friends, I do not envy you. I have enough difficulty as it is with Sigyn.

Cernyunnos is not the god of Wicca. We know that, because the god of Wicca is described as "the God of the Isles" and Cernunnos is Continental, not British. There are attempts to link him to Irish heroes but they're not all that successful. To be honest, I'm not sure why people have adopted this name for their own horned gods to this degree. I mean I know it means "horned", but really, surely it only confuses matters? It makes no more sense to call one's non-Gallic god Cernunnos than it does to call one's non-Greek god Pan. I don't really understand why people do it. I mean, in Heathenry you have a couple of entities that share the same name and it's confusing enough as it is. I can't imagine if, like, people worshipping an entirely different pantheon came in and called one of their gods Helblindi or something. I'm not saying "don't do this", not at all, I'm just saying "I don't really get why people do this, it's confusing".

You know me, I worship a Horned God. I am fairly certain He is not Cernunnos. I am also fairly sure He is not the God of Wicca. I do not think He has a name. Maybe it's something you can't express in speech, like the growth of a plant or the stirring of the wind.

So here's a shoutout to Cernunnos, god of the Gauls and perhaps some others like that lot in Denmark. Hail, Cernunnos!


Thursday, January 23, 2014


Hello all. Today's post is just a flargle of things, to make me feel like I'm a productive human being. I'll post something re: PBP later in the week, so I'm caught up on my letters. B. ....Blessed Be, and why I don't say it? Baphomet, and why he's not in any way related to Paganism? (Fucking seriously, people. All you have to do is read the wikipedia page.)

Anyway! So here I am sitting on my bed. I did some dumbbell exercises last night and I'm exhausted; fatigue sucks, because I like to run and I've been feeling much too tired lately. My puppy is lying on the end of my bed. The weather today is cooler than it has been lately, which is nice. It's been windy this week. I like the wind. 

This week, I did some work on Laguz, which is one of the easier runes to get a handle on. I feel like the further the Futhark moves away from the BIG concepts, the easier things get, but I don't know... Pertho was a hard one for me. I felt like I was missing a big part of the Mystery there, and to me all the stuff about childbirth was a red herring. Ah well. I'll give it another go the next time I sort through the Futhark.

I am excited, because I splurged on a couple of oracle decks I've been wanting for a while, Oracle of Shadows and Light and Oracle of the Shapeshifters. I love love LOVE Jasmine Becket-Griffith's art. I had this idea originally of combining the decks - they're only 30 cards each so I figure, you know, it'll give more variety and depth to have more cards to draw from. But I'll have to see how that works when they get here. Their energies might not combine well. Suuuuper pretty, though! I saw another deck from these two somewhere that's listed as "upcoming", one about vampires, which reminded me that I wanted to snag these so I looked 'em up and the prices are pretty good at the moment. I still feel a bit naughty!

I'm trying to pray in the mornings. I never did get around to that "pray five times a day" thing. My issue is that my sleeping patterns are really skewed compared to the usual, and it isn't helped by my fibromyalgia when sometimes I sleep really poorly and other times I sleep 12 hours. So matching the times with the prayers is a bit awkward. Nevertheless I sketched out a little prayer for myself and I'm trying it upon rising. It's interesting praying before my morning coffee! My mind is full of cotton wool and I don't feel as able to connect to the Gods, but that's interesting in itself and I think the experience of that will benefit me. 

Anyway, now I've thought of it, I'm going to flip through a prayer book for an afternoon prayer, and then maybe meditate - another thing I always put off and then forget to do! Almost 14 years a Pagan and still awful at remembering to do things. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Return of the PBP: A is for Athame

Long time readers may remember I gave the Pagan Blog Project a go in 2012, and gave up somewhere around L when I fell increasingly far behind. I had some frustrations with it, but I did also get a few great essays out of the project. Looking back now, I'm surprised how much I wrote. That, of course, would be part of the reason I stopped; I was putting a heap of effort into each post and it was tiring. I started to avoid doing it. I skipped the PBP last year; I'd been hoping for a different theme. I figured this year they'd have to change it, because I mean surely people have run out of things to write for X by this point. But a friend on a forum mentioned he was doing it sort of the other way around: picking something to write about, and explaining why he doesn't use this tool or subscribe to this belief. I might give that a go. And this time around, I'll only do it once every two weeks, or maybe even only when I can't think of something to write but i want to update.

So. Here we go.

A is for Athame. I don't use one.

I tried to, in the beginning. I've always liked daggers, ever since I was a child, so the idea of using one in ritual sounded like a bonus point for this religion i had discovered. A dagger is a good tool for channelling energy; it's metal and therefore a good conductor, and it's pointed at the end. It worked, sure. The problem was that it was... superfluous. I didn't need it. It felt good to use, and for many people that would be enough, but for me, after a while it just seemed unnecessary and irrelevant. It was one of those aspects of Wicca-derived ritual that didn't resonate with me; I didn't really grok all the symbolism (and how could I without initiation?) and the symbolism provided by the 101 books I was reading did not satisfy for long. And again, for many people the symbolism works. For me, it just.... fell flat. It didn't seem like enough. Purely as a tool, the athame worked for what I used it for, but I only used it for one thing: circle-casting.

It wasn't long after I dropped a few tools from my practice that I stopped struggling with circles, too. Again circles had always worked all right for me, but had seemed a bit pointless. I always felt awkward about them. Always felt unsatisfied. I think they would work a lot better in a coven setting, but being alone, it always felt... well, awkward is the only word I can really use to describe it. It was a poor fit.

So after a while circles went from my practice, and I started fooling around with new ideas for ritual. That has been good for me, as a whole. Not hemming myself in with a circle has given me more room to work both physically and energy-wise. (Again, this is not a one-size-fits-all experience. Some people can do more within a circle than they can out of one.) I incorporate more dance. I play more with smoke and light. I don't worry about accidentally exceeding the limits of my circle. I use hardly any tools, just candles and an incense holder (or a Hammer if I'm doing a Heathen blót), and in a way I wish I had more tools to use. Of course, not having them means ritual is a lot simpler to set up and perform, and I can do it elsewhere without lugging a bunch of stuff with me.

I like tools, or at least the idea of them. I've been gifted a wand and I like it, I like it as a thing just for having. I just.... have no use for it. I'm a person who likes things, who likes to collect, and it would be nice to have a ritual use for tools, even ones which are very unusual. And I'm always on the lookout for interesting things to do or use in ritual. (So, y'know, have ideas? Share 'em!) And so it was with the athame: I liked it as far as it went, but it didn't fit in with my practice. I still have my old athame, and I'm fond of it because now what it represents to me is those early days in which I explored Paganism and witchcraft. 

So, any knives in my rituals will be used for blood-letting. It's not something I've done in ritual before, but the option is always there, and getting a sharp seax for blooding runes might be interesting.

......I have to say, looking down this year's As on the PBP website, I'm very impressed at the range of subjects being blogged. I have to guess that some people have done the PBP before and are stretching further afield for topics, or perhaps more people are joining in. Whatever the reason, there's more variety, and a lot of intelligent looking posts. That's awesome. I can't wait to jump in.

Monday, January 6, 2014


Happy new year, all! 

Many of you will associate the new year with Midwinter, or the beginning of winter in the form of Samhain or a similar holiday. For me, the secular new year begins in the middle of summer, and the spiritual one in the middle of winter. But there's a spiritual sense of newness to this time of year, so I often begin new projects at this time whether I think about it that way or not. Maybe it's just the familiarity of secular new year and how it's a part of my subconscious, or the way everyone's on holiday and so relaxed, or the way everything is growing and joyful. 

Personally I'm not a summer person, as long-time readers will know. I don't like the heat or the brightness, and I get very anxious about sunburn and skin cancer. I find the height of summer very oppressive and spend a lot of time indoors, only venturing outside late in the evening. However, I do very much like the general feeling of the new year: the, well, newness of it. I like the re-orienting of everything to a new number on the calendar, the general feeling from everyone of "what will this year bring?", especially now when everything in technology and science is moving so fast and discovering and creating so much. Culture casts off the dusty old year and there's such anticipation and positivity and wonder. Love love LOVE that. And I love to incorporate that into my life on a personal level as well. I make resolutions and start new projects, create blogs, and get inspired to try new things.

I'm starting a new planner this year, one that helps you focus on your goals. It's called Passion Planner and you can download the weekly layout to give it a try yourself. It's already been really useful for me, especially as an anxious person. In a way I feel I'm putting pressure on myself short-term which freaks me out, but long-term it lays out - or rather, you lay out - your goals and steps to get there, so in that sense, the ability to plan ahead but still leave things flexible reduces anxiety as well. It's kind of exciting to me. The goal for this month is to look for a literary agent. I'm terrified! haha.

I haven't made any new year's resolutions, as such. Last year was a bit of a "down-time" year for me, where I didn't do much except work towards wellness and discover some of the things I wanted out of life. Throughout the year I sort of laid out things I wanted to get done on a weekly or daily basis: write every day, journal every day, exercise every day, meditate every day; read eddas every week, study Heathenry and witchcraft every week, blog at least once a week. I started doing those things when I decided I wanted to do them, with degrees of success. Now I have a really good planner, I can record when I do them, remind myself to do them, and plan my time better than I have done before. It's good. I feel productive - or at least, in a better position to be productive! ;)

One thing I may do at some point is migrate all my feminism-focused posts onto a more appropriate blog. I love Hagstone heaps but I hardly ever talk feminism here any more unless it's spiritually focused. But we'll see how lazy I'm feeling! ;)

Another thing about the new year is going through and marking all the dates for Sabbats and full moons. And I haven't even held my Midsummer blót yet!