Monday, December 19, 2016

Solstice, quiet and calm

A lot of us think about the holydays and we think about the evenings when our days let go and we really feel like we can celebrate. Yet, how many times do those holy moment really fall at night? Take the Winter Solstice for instance - the actual moment is around 5:45am on Wednesday morning. I, for one, was very happy when I found this out.

Now, I'm not a morning person but let me tell you why I'm happy about this. Wednesday is going to be a very, very busy day - we leave this week to visit family, and will be away for a bit. We have cleaning to do, packing and prepping, gifts to wrap.... the list is oh so very long. Add to this that I'm working longer hours this week to prep for the time I'll be away and at the end of the day it all adds up to the usual equation of Lots to Do and Very Little Time to Do It.

So, knowing as I do that the moment of the Solstice is a mere 15 minutes(ish) earlier than I usually wake up during the week, I now have a built in window for meditation and reflection that just had 15 minutes added to it. My morning schedule is this:
Wake up to my alarm
Lay in bed and breathe deep for a moment
Get up, stand by the window, and watch the morning
Meditate - connect and renew and prep myself for the day
Get ready for work and head out into the world.

Tonight I'm prepping my kitchen altar for ceremony. Tomorrow, my alarm will go off 15 minutes early. The coffee will be brewing (yay programmable technology) and my offering will be waiting at the altar. I'll have 15 minutes extra to greet the Solstice, to meditate and make my offerings and hold my rite.

It doesn't sound like a lot, but knowing that I have time now set aside for this in the morning before the stress of the new day starts building and delays and setbacks change my timeline for the day, in the morning after a good night sleep has released the stress of yesterday... it means that I can truly celebrate the return of the light, the beauty of the Solstice, and take that calm with me through the day.

My offerings are simple, the ceremony will be short, but I will have time to reflect on time, on light, on the Turning of the Wheel and what that means to a hedgewitch and her land base in New England.

May the Solstice bring you joy!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

It's coming... I think the winter's coming!

I see a toe, I see a curl... I listen to Wicked a lot. ;)

It's true though, when you think about it. You see the limbs of winter before you see the body of it - you see the fingers in the frost on your car in the morning and the toes in the light snow that seems to stick around longer than it seems it should be able to. These are the small thing that herald the full body of winter, and they're beautiful to me.

You need to remember - I chose to move to New England. I chose to move to a climate that a scant year after I arrived saw record snows, that give me snow falls that covered my New Beetle whole. (not drifts, falls. yes. think about that.) I chose to move to a place where summer can be so sweltering that you escape to the beaches (of which we have many) or to ponds made famous by voracious writers.  (that'd be Walden)

Of course, I say I moved here but honestly, sometimes I wonder if I was called here and if I actually had any say whatsoever in the matter.

~~
You've heard me talk a lot about landbase, and what it means to connect. I hadn't heard that word before, but I knew the feeling, and it took reading the brilliant mind of hectatedemeter for me to know what I was longing for. She's wonderful, and insightful, and you ought to be reading her if you're not already.

Lately, since the world has gone sideways in the worst sort of way, I've been connecting more and more with my landbase. I do what most kitchenwitches do - I wake up, I make coffee, I stare out the window at the slowly freezing landscape of my backyard and I meditate with the rustle of leaves and spread of the frost. I watch the ivy, now frozen still like the stone wall it climbed. I watch the Rose of Sharon as it turns to the stick bush it will remain till the snows of winter are done and it can leaf and bloom once more. I collect seeds from that bush and give them to my nieces and nephew, as my grandmother did for me.

As I leave for work in the morning I run my fingers across the evergreen, looking up into the branches to see the bird nests there and am thankful they feel safe nesting near my home. The blue jays are so fat now, and the cardinals are plump little red balls and I love them all. I think of the cooking grease I'll need to put on the bird feeders again soon to keep the squirrels at bay. I've whispered things to the dirt that I have never told a soul, and the earth has kept my secrets and let me be free of their burden.

As we head deeper into the winter, look around and smile at the little death that comes to the world. Remember the blooms and leaves on the other side of the dark months and look to the holy days to help bring your spirits light. Our next one is Yule - Burn the candles, light the night and keep them lit into the dawn, celebrate with drink and rich meals. Be near your family, blood or otherwise, and relish the feeling of them around you. Know that your light burns brighter as the days lengthen and the night recedes.

But as the days grow longer and we move into the coldest and most confining time of year, also look at this time as a rest. The earth rests, and rejuvenates, and comes forth in the spring with renewed vigor.

May it be for us all.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Simple Spells

I'd say I don't know what it is about this time of year that gets my magic up, but I totally know. It's the season!

Pumpkins line my kitchen counter, apples are stacked high in a brown glazed bowl, squashes of all forms rest among the bowls and pie plates and knives. There are sides of pork and beef in my freezer waiting for the cast iron pot they'll cook slowly in, soaking in cider and spice and yams or mixed with cardamom and dried cranberries and pecans. I have very medieval views on how to prepare a piece of meat.  Skewing is high on that list, as is pie crust.

~~
The glory of this season is that unlike the summer months where the last thing you want is a hot kitchen, the winter months bring the revel of the warmth that comes from running the oven all day and the scents that imparts on the whole house. Where in the spring it's all we can do to serve bright and sweet dishes full of soft colors, in the fall we serve rich, deep dishes full of savory flavors and strong contrasting color.

So here's a few tips to bring your magic into the kitchen this fall and winter....
*Keep squashes on your counter. They're a quick, savory side dish when topped with butter and garlic, or a warm, sweet side when topped with maple syrup and thyme. Additionally, squash represent the resilience of the harvest so use these when you need to up your stamina to deal with the weather. Savory for calming, sweet for happiness.

*Garlic is your friend. Whole cloves are the best way to go, and they store very, very well. Raw and straight off the ground keeps the longest but if you use it as much as I do then you'll go through it faster than it can go bad so it's not a worry. Roasted garlic is a scent we all adore - don't be scared about making this at home. Take one head of garlic and DO NOT PEEL it, cut off the top so you can clearly see a good bit of the actual clove and set it in a piece of tin foil. Be super generous with the olive oil. (hint - if you have a small brie baker that has a lid, use this instead and do two heads of garlic. The oil will collect easily and you can then jar it and store it in the fridge to have roasted garlic olive oil for ANYTHING.) Close the foil up around the clove loosely. Put it in the oven to roast for about 20 minutes at 350deg. You'll smell it when it's done - and the garlic will have started to pop out of the head. Wait for it to cool and then either spoon out or squeeze out the garlic cloves into your recipe, or a jar to store in the fridge. This really has to be refrigerated if you're not using it immediately.  (I suggest adding it to mashed potatoes)

*Look up winter vegetables and use them. Carrots glazed with brown sugar, honey, butter, and ginger are excellent, easy, and a wonderful use of spices that help bring clarity of Sight. Cloudy visions? Not anymore.

*Take the down time you find on those snow days to really clean all your kitchen implements. Use salt and sage to clear out the energies built up around your kitchen and dining room, and then do the whole house. This is the time where we can use the quiet of the dark to really clear out the old of last year to make room for the new of next year.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What you wanted it to be, and what it actually is

It should be no surprise to my readers how tired I feel this morning. It's not just my poor sleep last night - it's the weight of this morning on my shoulders.

It's difficult to be among my coworkers who don't understand. It's difficult to keep saying "I'd rather not discuss this" over and over but I cannot discuss it, so those words now live on my lips.

I looked at my skin this morning. I looked at the life I live and saw the safety in my position. I saw the protection my outward appearance affords me in the aftermath of a decision so many of us saw going differently. I'm horrified that these factors will keep me safe while so many others are in danger. I fear for my friends and their spouses and children. I fear for my loved ones. I will not be silent - I will use the privilege afforded me to fight for those who cannot. We all have to, or we are lost.

We were all going to be so happy this morning.

~~
I cannot let myself wallow in the emotions that flood me. I'm not ignoring them, but there is too much to do to stop for any length of time. We thought we'd have an easier path ahead of us this morning and instead we have boulders pushing us backward down a path that is crumbling under our feet. We're seeing the foundations we worked so hard for rattling like Lincoln Logs as someone walks across the floor.

The more emboldened of my coworkers have started talking more openly - as the day wears on they feel more sure, more able to speak. I know this is only the beginning but I know this too - they won't be the only ones talking.

We have work to do. We have elections other than the Presidency to vote in, to get our voices heard in, to make our influence known. AND WE MUST.

One battle is lost. So many more remain to be fought. We cannot stop now.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The seduction of the season

You feel it, tugging at your hem... it's not just the fallen, leafless branch on the sidewalk.
It's there, on your shoulder... no, not just the leaves in the oranges and reds of their slow deaths.
It's in the air in your lungs... and it's not just the sharp cold that underlies every movement outdoors and then scurries inside behind you to hide in the corners of your house.

It's the spirits.

You hear it. You feel it. We all do - we're witches.

~~
The blog name, Musings of a Kitchen Druid, really did come from the nickname my friends had for me. I wasn't quite a Druid and I wasn't quite a Kitchen Witch. I was somewhere in the middle. I was young in my practice and it was all perfect and new and I had NO idea what I was doing. But I could see my path and it was wonderful. It was home.

Fast forward a few years, past many successful and many, many more unsuccessful holy day rites and across a thousand late night conversations and early morning whispers... and my path was far more clear to me. It was easier to see the turning of the Wheel. I didn't need a calendar to tell me what holy day was coming. My books were references when I was tired or didn't feel like recalling it. It was so very nice. That's when I started writing this blog.

Then I was struck by lightning. Or at least it felt like that. It was a bonfire and I was standing in the middle. And when I finally came out the other side, a year and a half later, I was scorched but knew all that I didn't need was gone. It was quite liberating. I started on my path anew, and KNEW (the way you do when the clue by four hits) who I was and what I was doing. My path was now burned into my skin.

The holy days come now and I don't feel rushed by them anymore. They come and I welcome them as an old friend - you know the ones, those who can let themselves into your house, start a pot of tea and be sitting down with that box of cookies you've been saving before you're even downstairs to greet them. They're so close they're family. My path is never hidden from me these days. It's taken me some time to come to this, and in the emotional turmoil over the last year it's been harder, but as I come out the other side of all this I realize that my path is there to steady me, there to guide me. Your path is a touchstone.


My wish for you this Samhain is simple - I hope your path becomes clear to you.

Blessed Samhain!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

But it was supposed to be...

If anything in my life could ever have been summed up, or ever could be summed up, by one phrase... well, that'd have to be it.

My coworkers are living this today - it was supposed to be close to 80 here... "a beach day" one of the local weathermen said. They're all sad that it's not even 70 outside and very overcast. I'm not - I love overcast weather and if ever there was a time for it, it'd be now when the veil thins and we all look to the shadows for answers.

Personal tragedy came again last night too - no one is dead, but there is pain and healing that needs to happen and it will take a very long time. She's not out of the woods, and she never really will be. I pray for something that will help her heal, learn, grow. I don't know that we'll get that. I know we won't stop offering her our love and support and help.

There are a lot of things that were supposed to be. There are a lot of things that are supposed to be. None of them were or are certain. No, that's not meant to be comforting. Things like this never are.

~~~
As we spend the next few weeks looking into the dark, looking to the fading Moon, and looking into the flames of our fires, think about what you thought was supposed to happen and if it did or not. And if not, think about why. Ask you ancestors for help in deciphering the meaning there and see if there are lessons you needed to learn.

and Breathe.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The crunch of leaves and the scent of cold - Remember

My favorite season has begun. Mums are *everywhere*, the leaves are turning to their brilliant oranges and reds and yellows, pumpkin has invaded everything, the apple cider diehards are fighting the good fight for seasonal flavor dominance... it's a magical time. ;)

It is though - it's one of those points in time that I just know things are working as I draw a circle or stir the stockpot. It's also the time of year to remember a few really important things.

So, here's a list of things I remind myself of this time of year:
- no matter what I do, all the intention in the world won't work without action.
- just because I can doesn't mean I should.
- our ancestors are there to help, not to do it for us.

~~~~
It's easy this time of year to get swept up in the craziness. It's really really easy to lose sight of people being helpful and instead just see the inconvenience.

It's not always about you.

As the leaves change and the air cools and the house dries out from use of the heater remember - be helpful if you know that's what the person wants.

Take deep breaths.

Mostly, just take deep breaths and remember. That's what this time is about. Remembering.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Finding Joy

A very wise person that I know has a birthday soon. They've asked that instead of sending presents or random messages on Facebook that people instead take a selfie of themselves enjoying something that brings them joy. He's not the first to ask this - another wonderful person I know asked that for his birthday people post ice cream selfies (I am very sure that'll be a trending hashtag one of these days given how many people he knows) and it spread like wildfire.

The birthday is this weekend, and I'm excited for it - I'll be spending the weekend with my beloved doing I don't even know what, but whatever it is we'll be relaxing. Maybe the selfie will be me with my Kindle as I finish the next book in a series I'm reading. Maybe it will be me and my knitting. Maybe it'll just be the two of us and some nice glasses of wine. I don't know, but I do know that exercises like this are so very valuable.

See, things like this remind you to do something very important. They make you take stock of the things that bring you joy. When someone asks you to take a picture of yourself engaging in an activity that brings you joy, you start thinking about what'll be in that picture. How you'll take it. What project you'll be working on. And that starts you down the road of listing the things that bring you joy. The people, the places, the experiences, the hobbies.

And you know what? You end up with a pretty long list of things that bring you joy. And you smile thinking about those things.

And then the world isn't quite so bleak.

So here's my wish for you. Do it. Saturday, post a picture of yourself with something, someone, somewhere that brings you joy. (nothing crude or obscene everyone. Please. Keep it clean and happy.) But post it on Facebook and tag it #joy

OK? If not for me, for a really cool guy who's an inspiration for many and really does just want everyone to be happy.

Blessings!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Year Ago...

A year ago I was climbing a small mountain in Ireland, looking at the mist and dew with tears in my eyes and a pain in my heart that has lessened but not gone.

A year ago I stood in a place that spoke to the oldest parts of my soul and listened to the songs there.

A year ago I touched stones that tell stories to those who will listen, and I listened.

It's very fitting that it's so rainy this morning. The rain falls here and on Loughcrew. It obscures the rising sun here the way it does there. The similarities are beautiful and a lovely reminder of our connectedness.

~~~
You remember what it's like when you're new, right? The high holy days and the drive to have everything *just so* and the wrench in your gut when you don't quite hit the mark? Maybe you flubbed a line, maybe the bread didn't rise correctly, maybe the bonfire wasn't quite big enough... the complete and total devotion you give over to celebrating, to reminding those you can remind that your holy days are not their holy days, and all the to do that comes along with it. It's fun when you're new. It's your new path and like anything shiny and new you show it to everyone, give it the very best spot on your nightstand, carry it with you everywhere, and never let anyone forget it. 

When you've been at this for almost two decades though, the newness wears thin and you're left with the blunt reality of the path. It's never going to go just so all the time. There will always be a fly in the wine. There will always be a part of the bonfire that doesn't want to light. 

The Autumn Equinox has become a very important holy day for me. It didn't used to be, and honestly wasn't something I celebrated heavily when I was shiny and new. Lugnasad? You betcha! Samhain? OF COURSE!!! But the Equinox? I observed the day, but didn't celebrate it. I wouldn't bake for it, and I certainly didn't hold a Rite for it. I sought my transition days on the BIG ONES, not the little days. 

Wanna know a secret? The little ones are the best ones. Go outside and look around. Now remember that quote from the movie Troy: "Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again." It's true. I've spent a good deal of the last year learning to understand how I go through the grieving process and this quote has come to my mind a few times.

Why wasn't I celebrating the little ones? Why wasn't I honoring the moon each month in my own way? Why wasn't I celebrating EVERY DAY as the gift that it is? Each day is blessed. Each day can show us the turn of the Wheel. I bake because it's Friday, or because a loved one is coming over, or because I can. 

Be lovely. Celebrate the little days. 



Thursday, September 1, 2016

Big Weather

Big weather. It's a term I first heard when I lived near St. Louis and let me tell you, it's accurate. Big weather is exactly what you think it is - storms, winds, rains, lightening and thunder and skies in shades of color no sky you've ever seen has ever been.

Big weather devastates as often as it creates. I've been lucky enough to experience many kinds - I've seen a tornado form and touch down less than half a mile from me. I've stood in the rain of a tropical storm to make sure everyone got inside safely. I've helped hold down a tent at a campsite as a derecho hit us full force. I have been in a commercial plane as we flew a longer path around a thunderstorm super cell - watching the lightening inside the cloud was amazing.

Standing in the face of that sort of power is intoxicating. There is a healthy amount of fear of these events - big weather has killed after all - but with that fear comes the realization of how much we can learn from it all.

~
There are many, many spells that can be worked with storms. My favorite? Baking. Mixing and kneading and creating foods during the height of the storm really connects me with the power of nature around me. The resulting breads and pastries are imbued with that connection and these are foods that I don't share lightly.

I've made Storm Water before - it's simply water collected during a storm - and it's very useful for washing stones to charge them, blessing candles before a rite, or simply having in a shallow dish on your altar. It's not for drinking or baking/cooking with or for bathing in, it's not that kind of water. I have simmered it on the stove in a pan I have specifically for aromatics, adding herbs to achieve the scent I want in the room, but that's not for consumption.

~
This weekend there will be a LOT of big weather throughout the eastern coast, and I plan to use that energy wisely. I'll be cleaning, making space in the house for the new energy to come in, and baking of course.

Blessings!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

I have to remember

because it's easy to forget.

I have to remember that sitting in this office of cubes and drop lighting and the drone of mundane conversation my life is more than reports and mailings and content creation. My life is also dragons and magic and a thousand shades of sidhe.

I have to remember that the loves in my life never really leave me. They live on in my breath and in my bone and in the memories that I call on to guide my path.

I have to remember that I am more than the sum of the numbers they use to define me. My true sum is infinite because I am infinite. I cannot be defined truly by mundane terms.

I have to remember that I am an oddity to most people, and that they won't understand the light in my eyes or the hidden knowledge in my smile. They won't see what I see in the shadows or the sunbeams. They won't understand what I know to be true. I have to remember not to hold this against them - it's not their fault.

I have to remember that most religions require that you go and preach and try to convert, and that if people find out what my path is their minds will immediately think this is also my goal. I have to tell them politely and clearly that this is not so, and educate them about the truth of my Paganism if they'd like - and to drop it if they don't. Their misconceptions are not my concern if they refuse to learn.

I have to remember that I am no more or less blessed than anyone else on the planet. We are all in this together.

What will you remember today?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Wheel ever turns

There's a line from a fabulous and canceled before it's time show that goes something like this: "The wheel's always turnin'... that only matters to thems that's on the rim."

Today that pairs in my mind with a line from a sweeping Broadway hit. "Death doesn't discriminate, it takes and it takes and it takes..."

My last grandparent, my Father's Father, passed away last week. This is a mixed moment for me - I'm sad, I'm sad that he's gone, partly because I miss him but more because I know the pain this is causing my Father and my Grandfather's widow. I have watched a parent cope with the reality that both their parents are dead now and it's not easy, it's not pretty, and it's not polite.

As horrible as it sounds, their death is the easy part. It's living on afterward that's hard. The list of names on the altar of our ancestors grows longer... it never gets easier to read.

The harvest festivals loom in front of us, and with Lughnasad just passed we look forward to Mabon. It's hard to believe that we're staring the last days of summer square in the eye but we are, and the air hangs heavy with the weight of dying light, the leaves whisper of their ending time and maybe with all this water we'll have a lovely and vibrant palate of colors this autumn.

Autumn is my favorite time of year. Last year was difficult, losing my first best friend last September means it's not even a year past yet, and I don't remember the colors the way I have in the past. I don't remember the days, or the way I celebrated any of the holy days. With the loss still so fresh, so raw in me and now this new sadness added, I have to remind myself to look up, to look at the colors, to see them and remember them. It hurts to do this, but I think I have to.

My wish for you, dear reader, is that whatever you're going through you remember to look at the colors and see the light in-between the dark places. The Wheel will turn, and we will move with it - but we are not on the rim or the road, we are safe inside.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Litha!

The solstice is here and the day is VERY bright - I love these sorts of days. I also love when the solstice falls on a day I already have off work, so I can spend the day as I wish.

Today I'm enjoying the longest day by sinking into my artwork as the sun lights my worktable. I meditate as I work, and focus so hard on my page that all else falls away. It's here that the Goddess speaks to me and here that I find answers.

I hope that whatever you do today, you find time to spend with your Deity and that their message comes to you clearly.

Celebrate the Sun, welcome the warmth and revel in the light.

Blessings!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

On being overwhelmed, and picking your battles.

So much rage.

It’s the response of the whole world right now to a great many things – to rape, to movie posters, to international incidents. Everywhere you turn, on every social media outlet, on every computer screen, in your email and on your TV… hatred, screaming, and rage.  

I walk in my garden a lot these days, running my hands though the soil and gently brushing my fingers against the leaves and flowers. I think about the scents on the air and I do my damnedest to bring my soul back to center.

Some days are harder than others.

I have a lot of thoughts, and they’re all going here, and this is the last I’ll speak on them.

The Rape: unless you’ve been where that woman is right now, you don’t know how she feels. You can sympathize, but you don’t know. That boy, the one whose picture is fucking everywhere right now, is scum right alongside anyone who’s ever molested a child. He should feel what she feels – he should have EVERYTHING taken away. I’m glad to see that might actually happen. To be fair, I won’t be terribly surprised if it doesn’t. I’ve met the world.

The Billboard: I see both sides of this. I’ve been a comic book fan for years – that part of my brain sees that image as the last two pages of a nail-biting issue and *that* is the image you’re left with as you wait for the next issue to see if your heroes won or not. It’s a teaser, it’s a TO BE CONTINUED and it’s doing a damn good job. It is triggering in the brains of comic book readers around the world the anticipation that we know and love, and it’s making us excited for the movie. I’m also a woman. I’ve been abused. I’ve been in the position of a person larger than me looming and holding me down by my throat. I learned to be strong and I survived. That billboard doesn’t trigger those memories in me.

The Election: If any of you think we actually have a say in who’s elected, you’re dreaming. Instead of fighting about this election, how about you fight for changing the election laws in the 4 years before the next one, and see if we can do a better job at this sometime in the next decade.
------
I’m meditating more these days. I find I have the need… there is so much out there competing for my attention, so many people screaming at me to rise up and be an advocate, to use my craft to bring someone down, to stand and put oppressors in their place, to change laws, to do EVERYTHING…. It’s too much. It’s overwhelming.

So I invite you, dear readers, to do me a favor. Breathe deep. Stay calm. Think clearly. *then* answer those posts on your Facebook or Twitter or elsewhere that you feel you need to answer and just ignore the rest.

It’s said that you have to pick your battles. It’s also important to pick the hill you’re willing to die on – and if one of these issues’ isn’t it? Well, that’s ok too. No one has to make that decision but you.


Everyone else can just fucking get over it. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Summertime.... and the grounding's easy...

It is hot like the fires at Beltane now, and my garden is thriving under the sun that warms the soil around them.

I'm a child of the summer, born near to the middle of that season, and my elements blend to become the heavy air that accompanies a sweltering summer. I am Water and Fire, a cusp baby, but my root is in the Earth and so when the air becomes heavy with the vaporous steam of my warring elements I drop down and lay flat on the Earth, and cool myself against the stones and soil and grasses.

Grounding is very important, and even more so when everything is so volatile. The country is riled up, the world is riled up, our friends and family are riled up... you might feel like you're stuck in a tornado. That's not uncommon - the feeling of being carried away on a tide you didn't ask for is a horrible one, but it's something we can mitigate with some work.

There are many techniques, but this is the most straightforward that I've found - and the quickest. It works no matter where you are (yes, I've used this at work), and at any time of day or night. It doesn't depend on the position of the moon or stars or planets, and doesn't require a certain day of the week. It just is.
(I shouldn't have to, but please... Don't do this while driving. Be safe, don't endanger your own or others lives.)

Place both feet flat on the floor wherever you are. Don't worry about taking your shoes off.
Place your hands easily on your legs. (up, down, doesn't matter.)
Lower or close your eyes. (just don't have distractions.)
Focus on your breathing. Feel the inhale and the exhale. Feel your chest fill and empty.
Allow your focus to ebb and flow with your breath, and see if it goes anywhere or if it stays with you. See if it lowers toward the floor or raises toward the sky.
Don't push it, just follow where it goes. If it doesn't go anywhere, that's ok too.
Breathe slowly and consciously for 10 minutes.
Slowly wiggle your fingers and toes.
Slowly open your eyes and readjust to being in the world.
Take one large deep breath and exhale forcefully through your mouth.

That's it. Really really. As you do this more and more you'll note where your focus goes, and it'll be easier to follow it. Your focus will go toward your grounding and when you find that center of calm, be it in the Earth or in the Stars, then slowly add into your grounding the following, starting once your focus starts to travel:

Follow your focus to your ground.
Feel your ground and know that it's a safe place for you.
Release into your ground all that you don't wish to carry anymore.
Gather from your ground the stillness and centering you feel there.

Continue then to do this for 10 minutes, then come out as it says above. If you don't have 10 minutes, then do it for as long as you have. The more you get used to touching and interacting with your ground, the easier it will be to reach. Eventually, with time and practice, you'll be able to reach your ground at a moment's notice. Stress, grief, fear, worry - these things make it harder to reach your ground, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. It just means you need to go through all the steps. Don't worry if it takes you more time than you think it should to get easier at this... it'll take as long as it takes. It will get easier, I promise.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

now, about Free Will...

No matter where you look these days it's a screaming match between however many groups feel like being in on the "debate". I'm using that term loosely... it's not really a debate. It's a screaming match.

If you read the last post about breathing, well, you know where I stand there. If not, go read it. It's not long. I'll wait.

....... Back? Good. :)

So here's the thing. We as Pagans, as Witches, Seers, Practitioners... we have a role in the world. I've been working for a while on better handling my role, better taking hold of my role and really living it. It's been really good, I won't lie. Being more active in my path, following it more closely and being more aware all the time of what falls where and how... well... what it leaves me with is a great sense of peace. It's not always easy, but things are better when I pay attention and live my path.

There is a movement on a few blogs that I follow to use our magic to influence the current election. Calls for spells to be cast on certain people - spells to aid, to clear people's minds, to remove roadblocks... you name it, I've seen a call for it.

I walked a Circle around the Capitol building scattering rosemary in my wake to help bring calm and clarity to the people who worked there. I've drummed and sung loud and clear to the Goddess for aid on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial on Samhain. I cannot say that I haven't used magic to help further a political agenda concerning human rights. I have done what I can when called on.

There are those who say we're all being called on once again, in larger numbers than ever before.

I'm only sure of one thing... we need to be careful. For as many people who want to cast for Candidate A there are likely as many for Candidate B and Candidate C. That is a LOT of magic flying around.

Yes. We have duties. No, we cannot just ignore the rule about free will. It's not just pretty words - subverting the will of another is just plain wrong. I don't really care if you disagree with them and know that casting something on them to "help them see"... you're messing with Will.

Yours might be stronger than theirs. That doesn't make you right.

If you are going to cast a spell or do magical work for the sake of the nation, think long and hard about it - are you seeking to subvert their will or are you offering them aid? Are you offering them something they can ignore, or are you *making* them see your way?

Be responsible.

Blessings

Friday, May 20, 2016

Breathing is everything

I've started taking a lunchtime meditative yoga class - it's focused on breathing, and the necessity of being present. It's done wonders for my work stress. Interestingly, when I say that, some people think it's actually alleviating that stress, as though it simply disappears.

So they try it, meditative yoga, and then they come to me all pissed off and ranting about how it was just breathing and stretching and what the hell was I doing that it made all my stress go away, and that pile of work was still sitting on their desk and the deadlines didn't go away and, and, and....

And I just sigh, take a measured breath in, release it in stages and look at them with a level eye. "It doesn't make the stress disappear. It makes the stress easier to deal with" I say as I walk away. There's no arguing with those people.

--
Debate is a beautiful thing. It's organic, growing in strange and uneven ways, expanding into the space it's given at first then bursting through the seams and taking over whole worlds. It can leave understanding and blood in its wake.

It's equally exhilarating and difficult to debate someone you know socially. There comes a point, however, when it's also extremely draining, and that's when you have to take a deep breath, exhale slowly and with no force, and excuse yourself from the debate.

There are a great many people with whom I agree to disagree on a great many topics. Some of those people I love very dearly. Some of them are simply acquaintances. But none of it keeps me up at night. Those people hold no malice for me. So deep breaths, that's all.

--
There are only so many times that you can look around your office and think "wow, you people have no clue." It's difficult to be the person in your job and know that the people you're explaining the project to have no earthly clue what words are coming out of your mouth. It's easier to speak Greek than it is to speak Tech sometimes.

You can probably guess what I'm going to say next... ;)

Yup. Breathe.

It really is everything.

Monday, May 16, 2016

When Gardening is a Prayer

I've been putting off my gardening more than I should - granted, not completely but it's taken me a while to get motivated to get my hands dirty.

See, early morning gardening is what my grandmother taught me. It was the most important lesson - get out, get dirty, get messy, get the yardwork done before half the block was awake yet. Get the iris thinned, get the trimming done, get those trees mulched, get the flowers watered before the sun was too high. Work in the wee hours just after sunrise and greet the day the way we were meant to, with dirt in our hair and a smile on our faces.

So when himself and I finally made the decision that the bush beside the house with runners that were climbing onto the house itself, leaving awful sucker roots in the pain and the siding, climbing under the siding and into the joints of the porch, well... it was time. It had to go.

I put it off for days. Weeks. I didn't want to, because I... well I don't really know. There was something in me that was afraid that the moment I was out there, working hard with gloves and pruning shears and bags and cans for the greenery I was chopping down I would break down, dissolving into my tears. But it had to go - it was nothing but a foul smelling bush that was a home for black flies and (at some point) a wasp nest. (don't worry, no stings... the thing was empty and partially crushed)

So I woke up this morning, got dressed and skipped coffee, and strapped on my gloves. It was freezing outside and my short sleeves were reminding me of that as the wind whipped by. So I worked harder. I warmed up. I hacked and pulled and tore and bit by bit stripped the bush down to nothing but a stump. It took about an hour. I was sweaty and breathless, and when I took a break I heard my grandmother's voice whisper on the breeze how I'd done a good job. I smiled, just a few tears in my eyes, but I smiled.

My coffee tasted amazing this morning.
---

Have you ever stood under a Full Moon and watched the light explode out from behind a cloud? Have you felt the flood that comes from the light spilling out completely into the night and continuing to pour out into the world till the moon is dark and quiet?

This weekend is the Full Moon. Plant your flowers and crops this week, tuck them into the soil and tell them the long wash of moonlight is coming to nurture them. The flood is coming for you too, and it's up to you to use that light in ways that benefit your path best. And as the New Moon comes, all dark and calm and quiet, settle yourself in and listen to the messages there, and know the Goddesses and Gods speak there.

Blessings.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Prepping for Beltane

It seems I'm scheduled to spend the big ones away from home this year. You might remember my Samhain post about being on the road and not having a patch of grass to go to for ceremony. Traveling on holy days seems to have set the tone for the year - on Beltane I'll have a lot of grass to go to as I'll be at a campground.

It's not a year for actually going to a Beltane rite gathering, although I think that'll be next year. I'm feeling the call again. No, this year I'll be with my friends spending the weekend focusing on learning dance and laughing and feasting. It should be glorious. We'll be at a campground and it will be no problem for me to walk into the treeline at dawn to honor the Goddess and hold my usual rite. It's a Sunday, but even so it's the last day of the festival and we all have to be off site by noon so I won't be watching the full sunrise - I'll have too much else to do helping close down the festival.

My candle this year will be an electric one, so that it can stay lit all day. My chalice will be a pottery mug. I'll still be wearing white, and I'll be barefoot if the ground allows me. (if there's broken glass or the like, I won't be barefoot and everyone can just forgive me - personal safety is a thing)


I was out two weeks ago with my camera, and got a few shots of Spring returning to our area. It was lovely to see, and cold so close to the water, but worth it - the colors are returning and soon the bare trees will be lush again.








This has been a hard spring for me. It was a hard winter, and it will be a hard summer and fall as well. The loss that my family suffered in September last year is still a pain that I feel acutely, and will be for some time. The loss of a loved one is not easily recovered from.  Marking the Wheel is helping.







Wherever this Beltane brings you, let it bring with it a smile and a return to the light and warmth of Spring. Appreciate the budding plants and wet earth. Plant and thank the Gods when you do. Bake and make foods for your family and friends. Appreciate the life that you live, the breaths you take, the sights that make you smile even now.

Blessings.

Monday, April 18, 2016

How sacred my altar

Something that was instilled in me from a young age was the sacredness of an altar. I was raised Catholic, and anyone who's ever been in a Church knows that the altar isn't somewhere you just go. Only certain people are allowed up there, and those people usually aren't you. I got involved in the Church when I was younger, and in high school started reading at Mass. I was allowed close to the altar then, and sometimes even behind it, (gasp!) and it inspired awe in me.

They weren't just at Church though. My Grandmother had two - one in her room with a Cross and one in the living room with a statue of Mary. Both had lace doilies, silk flowers and greenery, candles, and a little crystal dish for holy water. My mother had an altar too, and a holy water vessel and candles, but no silk flowers. These spaces we knew were sacred spaces, and we were careful around them.

So when I became Pagan, and stopped going to Church, I was already out of my Mother's house and there wasn't an altar in my apartment to anyone. It didn't occur to me to go set one up to a deity (or two) now that I was polytheist. I just was, and when I wanted to talk to them I went outside, found a tree, and talked. It wasn't something that happened in a building.

As it happens, I took up with some other Pagans eventually and the question of "what do you mean you don't have an altar at home?" came up, with the sort of questioning looks that accompany comments of "what do you mean you haven't ever heard of Star Wars??" So I went looking into altars in Pagan space, and figured out how to do the thing.

So there I was, setting up a sacred space in my bedroom because I had nowhere else to put it. I burned the incense, called a Circle, did the walk, said the words... and then never touched it unless I was specifically doing magical work. It was on a pedestal that I couldn't reach unless my mind was clear, the room was quiet, the incense was burning, and I was skyclad. I never leaned on it, bumped against it, touched it in passing... There were shields up as far as I was concerned, not to be interrupted unless absolutely necessary for a rite.

This went on for *years* despite the fact that my altar is on the top of my dresser. I'd use the drawers, but I wouldn't touch the top unless there was a reason, and that reason had to be ritual.

Well, about a month and a half ago I broke my own rule. I leaned on the top as I took my socks off. I was exhausted and the bookcase that used to live next to the dresser is in another room being useful there. Without thinking I placed my hand on the top of my dresser, leaned and removed socks from my feet.

And the strangest thing happened.

I smiled. The feeling of warmth on my hand from touching that sacred space was gentle and inviting - like a friend who hugs you as you both say "it's been too long." And that's what it was, exactly. It had been too long. The pieces laying there, my book, chalice, blade, incense, offering bowl, bessom... they're all friends that I have had long conversations with, that have been in my life for many years. What I was doing wasn't revering them. I was neglecting them, coming to them only in times of great need and not when I just wanted to visit. That's no way to be a friend.

Now I touch my altar all the time. I spend a few minutes in the morning as I chose my underpinnings smiling at the carving on the wall hanging there, looking through my book, jotting notes and filling the pages as I once did regularly. Now, at the end of the day, I smell the sage in the bowl and run my fingers through the ribbons on the bessom. I touch my altar all the time now, and it thanks me for it.

Since I started this, I feel more attached to my path.  My altar hasn't become less sacred, and it hasn't become more sacred - it's just as it was, ever waiting to visit with me, help and guide me, listen to me.

So think about your altar - how often do you visit? Only when you want to hold ceremony or ritual? Do you go only to ask for something? Or do you visit just to touch it, just to see how things are and to know yourself to still be connected?

Blessings!






Monday, April 4, 2016

Shelter

I love words, the way the roll and drop and pull at your mind and tongue. 

Shelter is a great word. It has so many means, so many uses... and so much emotion no matter who says it. 

I picked Shelter today because it's snowing again. Yes, it's April 4th and it's snowing - and sticking. Not just melting as soon as it hits the warm pavement... no no, it's sticking and building up and I'm going to have to use my scraper and brush to clear the car so I can run errands in a few hours. 

So, Shelter. I live in a house - it's warm and dry and I have groceries in the fridge and pantry. I made bread yesterday, and had the leftovers for breakfast. I realize how lucky I am though, and how not everyone has these options available to them. I didn't always have this sort of life to be honest. There were winters and springs in West Virginia when I was lucky to have my rent paid and the electricity still on... barely.... I remember what scraping by means, and how it feels when you don't quite make it. 

Not everyone has shelter from the roller coaster our weather patterns have been on lately. I hold ceremony indoors and beseech the Goddess and God to care for those who cannot get out of the cold or rain or snow. But that can't be the only thing I do. 

Now is the time to make donations of clothing and foodstuffs to shelters, food banks, etc - now is the time to think about someone other than ourselves. 

We don't all have time to go grocery shopping and drop it off at the food bank. That's fine - they take cash too. Why? Because everyone will go buy a few canned goods and drop them off but they need milk and eggs and perishable goods. They need cash to buy grocery cards that can go out with the dry goods, so these people can buy the stuff they need. 

Links: 
Greater Boston Food Bank: http://www.gbfb.org/ -- donation button is really big and on the front page. 

Feeding America: http://tinyurl.com/hl99p2a - that goes straight to the donation page.

There are so many more options out there, but these are two that I've used and feel comfortable donating to - they're very straightforward about where their money goes, and what their costs are. I really feel like they're doing good. 

And if that's not your thing, that's fine too. Big Brother Big Sister is always accepting donations, and there are plenty of clothing resellers that you can donate to that have better stances on what "help everyone" means than Goodwill or Salvation Army. Go ahead and clean out your closet. You'll feel better once it's done. ;) 

So, in this snowyness, think about the people who can't get out of the weather. You can do something about helping them, and you should. We all should. 

Blessings.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The rushing winds, and a recipe for ritual cookies

As I walked out of the office at work today an amazingly strong wind greeted me, hugging me in the parking lot beside the building and played with my sweater as I walked to the car. My coworkers, all bundled tight and looking at me sideways for walking around "in this weather wearing no coat" were complaining about how blustery it was - and I simply sighed into the gusts and said aloud how much I enjoyed it.

I really don't know what they said to that, or if they even heard me. Honestly, once I sighed into the wind it was just the two of us, and the wind was all I heard.

---
It's no coincidence that I was greeted with winds like this after seeing an aerial video of Loughcrew in Ireland. Those same winds, rushing and full of voices, greeted me on the Equinox as I climbed the mountain in Meath and played with my sweater then too, and hugged me and whispered old words into my ears.

There is a scent to winds like that, winds you know have carried things away never to be seen again, winds that could take you too if it was your time to go. Winds like that, they're special friends that we greet with smiles and laughter and wave to as they leave as quickly as they came. The wind today smelled like the ocean, like coarse sand and rock and wet trees. It was old for sure.

It is important to listen when the winds talk to you, as it is when any of the Elements speak up. So very, very important. What they say may be the answer to the thing you're thinking of most.

---
Recipe time! I haven't posted one in a while, and this one is a great one.
Ritual Cookies (Blessing Cookies)
based on a French recipe, circa 1604
2 cups almond meal
1 teaspoon rose water
1/2 cup of sugar
2 egg whites

Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. add a dash of sugar as they start to get frothy. I have a KitchenAid, and let me tell you now that this takes some time, even in a stand mixer, so if you're doing this by hand you're looking at a decent amount of time. Don't let that stop you though - it's totally worth it.
In a separate bowl, mix the sugar and almond meal together. Really whisk it so the almond meal breaks up (it tends to clump all on it's own) and so the sugar is even in the mixture. Now wash your hands and add the rosewater. Using your hands, work the rosewater through the almond sugar mixture until it's evenly distributed.
Fold the egg whites into the dry ingredients. If you haven't done this before, there are about a thousand youTube videos to show you how. Really, it's just adding the dry ingredients to the bowl with the egg whites and slowly mixing until all the dry ingredients are in and you have a solid dough. It takes time, and patience but you're making an offering for your rituals - so set some intention while you're carefully folding together your ingredients.
Scoop out small spoonfuls onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  (really, don't go crazy on size here. think bite size)
Baking:
10 minutes at 350 degrees
then
25 minutes at 200 degrees or until lightly browned

The witchery....
I love having bread or cookies for a ritual, and these are a particular favorite of mine. It's a sensory thing - you're essentially making and baking marzipan, which has been used for centuries to make sweet decorations for everything from suckling roast pig to cakes. It can be dyed colors, it can be shaped easily, and it's SOOOO sweet it'll make your teeth hurt.  I've reduced the sugar in this by half and it doesn't suffer at all, so don't worry. Here you're making a bite size cookie from the time of Elizabeth 1st. As it's baking, your house will be overwhelmed with the scent of toasting almonds and rosewater - it's enough to make your mouth water! While they're baking, meditate on the ritual you're going to conduct. Think about how and why and where and who... allow the scent of the elements of the cookie to mingle with your thoughts on how the incense will be, how the wine or water will be. As you're listening to the baking, quiet as it is, think about the quiet of meditation and focus on the similarities between the two.

The cookies, once done, will need to cool before you taste them. This dough is stiff, and holds its shape while baking fairly well, so if you wanted to flatten them a little and press sigils into them, or shape them for a purpose, this would work.

Almonds are a herb for Beltane, of the Sun, and of Jupiter. They represent life after death. They are poison for some, and toxic in high quantities for all. Don't eat more than 50 kernels at a time for adults, 10 for kids.
Rose is an herb of the Spring Equinox, Water, and Venus. It attracts love, fosters lust, and can be used to entice a lover.

Happy Baking!


Monday, March 21, 2016

Over the land lies a mantle of white

a shower of diamonds comes down from the sky
two hearts are thrilling despite of the chilling weather...

Really didn't think I was going to get to talk about snow again this year, but here we are - the sounds of shovels outside and the alerts on our phones telling us schools are closed and roads are dangerous... these are the moments I'm really glad both himself and I can stay home on days like this. Telecommuting is a beautiful thing.

If you're like any of the rest of us who thought Spring was here to stay, you've started planting things outside. In all honesty, I probably should have waited longer - but when you get the urge to plant things in the ground, you really don't wait. You just go get dirt on your hands. I didn't bring any of those pots inside either - they're all still outside, with more than a few inches of snow on them.  Will they make it? Probably - and if not, well, I'll start another batch. That's the way these things go. In some cases I'm very much of the "survival of the fittest" gardening camp - if they make it, they make it. If not, well, time to plant another batch.

---
If you're like me, you celebrated Ostara yesterday. I usually dye eggs, make something with pork or lamb, and make something suitably yellow for dessert. This year I was hosting an arts gathering at my house, and so instead I made two batches of french bread and put out savory and sweet toppings in the form of pressed goats cheese with honey, maple cream, and honey butter. There was tea and coffee and much arting and it was fantastic. We went out to dinner and had Mexican, and came back to relaxing and a house that still smelled of fresh baked bread.

Then it snowed, and we were immediately reminded that Mother Nature will do whatever she bloody well wants to, whether we like it or not.

What I didn't do last night was hold ceremony. A lot of Pagans I know would look askance at me for that, and I get it - I really ought to be holding a rite for the holy days. And I know that - it's not like I forgot. I chose not to hold anything, and I have a reason for it.  Time.

We have a limited number of hours on this planet, and while rite and ritual is important, so is recognizing what the people in our lives need from us. Last night, my partner needed me - so instead of pushing him off to go hold ceremony we cuddled on the couch and watched Galavant. It was cheesy and hilarious, and actually exactly what both of us needed.

See, being a hedgewitch Druid Pagan mashup is more than knowing what root to put in the tea to make your cramps go away. It's knowing what your body, heart, and mind needs - and laughing in the arms of the man I am spending the rest of my life with? That's a ceremony too.

March is the anniversary of my moving to this state, and moving in with him. And now, 3 years later, I'm happier than I've ever been.  The first year I was up here, I held a ceremony on every holy day, I spent time on the full moon in the backyard connecting with the land and the wise ones here, and I did my best to integrate to my surroundings - and thankfully they took to me like fish to water. I know this is my home.

So now, when the needs of my soul outweigh the needs of holding a ceremony, I listen to my soul and do what's best for me. The Goddess smiled on us even still, because what's a holy day of fertility and new life without celebrating the love between two souls?

In these snowy days of Spring think hard about your love, however many there may be, and nurture it.

Blessings!




Tuesday, March 15, 2016

When the ingredients aren't your own

At the gift of one of my best friends, I tried a service that delivers complete meals (some assembly required) to your home. More to the point - she's avoid carbs at all costs right now and this box was carb heavy so she said "here, try this and see if you like it" and handed me 3 meals. 

Excited, since I've wanted to try this for a while, I unpacked the box with the same gusto that I did my Pampered Chef consultant kit - everything was shiny and new and exciting and I was going to cook like a chef now for sure! (tools help, but I learned a lot with this) 

or.... I wasn't. Not being one who follows the recipes, but taking into account that I was trying a service that assumes you don't really know a lot about cooking (as evidence by the detailed instructions and the pictures that accompany every step) I decided that I'd follow the recipe to the letter and let the chips fall as they may. I shouldn't have - really. I made a chicken pasta dish and ended up with a dish so bland I couldn't finish it. Neither could my partner. I augmented dinner with marzipan rosewater cookies I'd made over the weekend and he augmented dinner with popcorn. 

It was plain. It was boring. It was lacking all spice. (I added garlic and red pepper flake as I was cooking for fear of it being too blah. it didn't help) 

So tonight I decided to try again, and made the second recipe in the box: An Indian fish and rice dish, heavy with onion and ginger. The recipe has a quarter head of cabbage in it. I made it to the recipe, adding only salt and pepper as the spice packet they included was considerable. 

I should have added more curry. 

It wasn't bad, it was light for all the frying in it and the rice was tasty (I added a pat of butter to that one) and the crispy onion was a nice addition. In a fit of inquiry, I went and looked up this recipe online, searching specifically for Indian versions of this dish. Mine had an egg scrambled and added to a pan of hot oil and ginger. Everyone one I found had hard boiled eggs. Mine had cabbage. Theirs have parsley. Mine had rice made per the bag. Their had rice sauted in oil and with onion added, then covered in boiling water and covered to steam up.  Mine used cod fried in oil.  Theirs used haddock poached in milk with bay leaves. 

I'm going to make this again, I'm going to add more curry, and I'm going to make it to their recipe, not the one that came in the box. 

~~ 
So in all this cooking (and I have one more to go, pork sandwiches that I'll be making for myself on Friday) I've discovered that it's not so great a thing to have the ingredients picked out for you in this manner. I've been gifted food before, notably pieces of a farm share, and I haven't felt the same total detachment that I felt with these ingredients. 

My partner and I are paid into a farm share ourselves this year, and I'm incredibly excited about this! Knowing that someone, however rushed they may be, is working a farm and then packing up a bag of farm share for he and I... they care about the land they're working, and they're doing something about making sure that healthy food makes it out into the world. I can't say that I feel that with this service. I don't know what I was expecting, but this wasn't it. Live and learn! 

So in these days when you want convenience, and you think fondly on the possibility of food arriving on your doorstep that isn't takeout from the Chinese place, think long and hard about your relationship to the food in question. I would never have bought the pieces of chicken presented to me in that package - they were fatty, and that's not something I look for in my chicken.  We're kitchen witches, and very simply that means we want a more profound relationship with our kitchens and the dishes we present to our loved ones to nourish them. I think I apologized 10 times last night for how bland dinner turned out. My partner just laughed and smiled and said "well, now we know that's not what we want to get into!" He's wonderful. 

My garden outside is growing, and my seeds for the herbs and veggies are sprouting soon, and slowly the list of what I need at the grocery is shrinking. It's a wonderful feeling. 

May it be for you. 



Friday, March 11, 2016

When every little thing makes you cry

My grandmother was a gardener. It was from her, in the moist earth in the yard where I learned to ride my bike and learned to climb trees, that I was taught the ways of flowers. I was taught what I could cut back almost to the ground, and what needed to go to ground on its own. It was there that lessons on planting and watering were taught over and over. It was there that I sat for hours and watched the plants, convinced that if I concentrated hard enough I could actually see them growing.

Turns out I could concentrate on plants more than I could concentrate on anything else till I got a camera in my hands.

Even then, it have a lot of pictures of plants, and I always will.

Just the act of rescuing my garden tools from a flooded storage container on the back porch made me cry the other day. It was a simple thing to plunge my hands in the so very cold water, pull out the tools and gloves and pots and ruined bags of potting soil and seeds, and spread everything out to dry (or stuff it in a garbage bag).  Simple though it was, the act of rescuing tools that she taught me to use made me cry.

Grief is a difficult thing. We get so used to something, to someone, to some time that when it's gone you really are lost. I haven't felt a loss like this before and it has struck me to the core. I'm still lost in it, 6 months later. I know I'll always carry a piece of it with me.

~
I'd love to say I sat down and wrote all my posts straight through. Some aren't that easy to get out and this one has taken time. I wasn't sure if I should write this, if I should take you on the journey I'm on through grief and sorrow. But I'm glad I have been, and I hope you understand how much closer this journey has brought me to my deities.

Even the act of sitting at the foot of the Goddess and listening has been harder lately than it has been in a long time. My mind wanders so much right now, my heart is not calm and still, my focus is worse than a toddler in a toy store. So the path of my practice has brought me back to the beginning so I can work on my focus, on my intent, on calming my heart and clearing my mind and really listening. The Goddesses and Gods have so much to say to us in these sorts of times, often when we're too lost to listen. I'm working on listening more, to gain the wisdom they're willing to teach me.

So my goal right now is to listen - to slow down, calm down, and listen.

Blessings

Monday, March 7, 2016

Warmer hearths on colder days

Two days ago it was warm enough to go without a coat. Today? Today there is frost on my windows in full view of what little sun we have... and it's noon.

Yeah.

So in these still frigid days of sort-of winter, sort-of spring, what do we do to lighten our homes and bring the warmth back?

I bake. LOTS. And then I ship it all over the world to my family and friends because no one needs 5 loaves of banana bread in their house, ever. (even for a party, trust me on this.)

So in all that baking, the kitchen getting warmer, what else rises? Not just the bread, or the temperature... our personal temperatures rise too. The desire to touch now warm flesh rises too. The desire to linger in a hug. The desire to have a kiss last a little longer. All that rises too.

As Ostara approaches and the weather outside shows little sign of warming totally, we have to think about other ways to celebrate the return of the Spring and the fertility that brings. Many of my friends are hoping to conceive a child in the coming months. All of them have difficulties with this, and have suffered losses in prior attempts. I share in their sadness, not because I want a child of my own but because to see those I so love denied something they so desire hurts. I know these couples, and they're all wonderful people who are and will be wonderful parents. I bake for them too, I hope the rise in my bread will mimic a rise in their wombs and warmth of life will spread. I bake sweets and savories and all the while pray that their prayers are answered.

Our magic, our power cannot be used just for us. We cannot be selfish with the gift we've been given. Make no mistake - this is a gift. We are a blessed people and it's our responsibility to use that gift for others. Not maliciously, not selfishly, and not without their knowledge. My baking? My prayers for them? That is not magic being done on them. That is magic being done on their behalf. I am not casting on them. I am at the foot of the Cauldron, asking on their behalf for the Goddesses and Gods to aid them.

As the flowers struggle to rise and bloom in the ever changing weather, and the sun starts to grow through the icy winds, think about the return of spring and think about how you are using your gifts to aid those you love. Do not cast on them spells and charms they didn't ask for - this is not help. Offer, if you'd like, but do not act on them without their consent. Do ask at the Cauldron on their behalf, and let that be your aid.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Debates Raging

I walked outside barefoot today, smiling at the Moon that is still visible in the sky and taking a deep breath of the still crisp air. It was lovely.

It's still brisk here, even though there's no snow on the ground the air still holds the whispers of arctic blasts and frozen flakes. The wind, cold though it is, is overflowing with the promise of spring, and the warmer weather that we're all longing for. The trees are budding, my crocus are coming up, and Friday morning I'll be planting bulbs that I'm hoping will grow quickly and beautifully in the coming months.

---
While the debate over the actual start date of Spring rages in Mother Nature, the debate over the next President of the United States rages in the Media. Each side is *sure* they're right, and neither side sees the big picture. Neither side fully commits to anything definite. Neither side fully discloses their plans or goals. Neither side is free of lies.

I've read many a blog talking about the responsibilities of being a Pagan right now, but I want to touch on one that is, I think, more important than the others. We need, as a group, to be more cohesive than ever right now. We need to be Pagan, with a capital P. It doesn't matter what your personal belief path is, because honestly, there are just as many versions of the other major religions as there are of ours. We need to be Pagans: together, counted, LOUD, and knowledgeable.

The time for arguing is over. We cannot be a divided force - and it doesn't matter that what you believe is different than what I believe. At the end of the day, Pagan doesn't mean that we're all following the same path. At the end of the day, what it means is that we're all standing together under an umbrella the way Christians or Jews or Muslims are. Christianity has so many different sects that it boggles the mind. So why can't Paganism? Why are we fighting the thought of getting under an umbrella that is more than big enough for everyone?

Do any of our paths *really* say anything so different than other Pagan paths? Is it so hard for us to look at each other and say "yeah, we're similar, we should do the thing"? No. It's not.

Now is EXACTLY the time. We've been working toward this, fostering good will across all the different paths but now, in the glow of this Full Moon, is the time to really dig in and do it.

Let's show them EXACTLY who we are.


So in this change of season, be the change you want to see in the world. Vote the change you want to see in our Nation. Outreach to be inclusive the way you want inclusion to exist in the world.

Blessings.










Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Freezing one day, Thawed the next

Don't worry, this isn't about the absolutely bat sh*t crazy weather we've had up here in New England.

It's about dramatic differences and how fast a situation can change.

Monday morning was nerve wracking for me. The afternoon was devastating. Then Monday night? I went and put on the role of Consultant and helped a woman host a party at her house. I did my best to put aside the news of the earlier hours of the day and set out to be the best Consultant I could be, and to help her and her guests have a fantastic time despite the downward turn of the weather.

And you know what? It worked. I manage to forget for a little while what the morning had laid on my doorstep and immersed myself in the cooking and the laughter and the fun. The party went wonderfully and my Hostess had a great time. She thanked me again today and it made me smile.

The day went from one that made me cry to one that made me laugh and smile in the space of 3 hours. The weather wasn't quite that fast, but it was every bit as dramatic. You could barely see the front stairs today when I left for work - and when I came home they were uncovered and walkable. My grass is still green. My sage survived and is still growing. The harvest from the fall will be burned at Ostara, and it makes me incredibly happy to know the plant that harvest is from will still be producing.

The warmer weather just keeps coming, and those changes that are so marked outside serve as great reminders to the changes we find in ourselves.

It's all connected, and it all turns like the Wheel... sometimes fast, sometimes slow. Sometimes you're on the hub... and sometimes you're on the rim... but even that can change in an instant.

----
I tend to do more work when I'm worked up, and a good lemon cleaning of the kitchen (that is, I grab lemons whole and complete and juicy and just cut into them with a knife and let the juice run straight onto counters and the like, then wipe them all down with a wet rag) was just the thing. (as always, safety first. If you have a citrus allergy, for gods sake don't do this. Also if you know your counters can't stand up to straight lemon juice for some reason, don't endanger your surfaces. maybe just clean like normal and have a sliced lemon sitting in a glass dish nearby for the scent)

Lemon, like many things we hedgewitches love so much, is one of those straight from the earth useful items. Hot water with lemon is perfect to get your muscles unstuck, and settles morning stomach unpleasantness. It's soothing, helps the throat and sinuses, cleans marvelously, and is tasty on many kinds of food. In the summer it's cooling with ice, and all times of year it's very hydrating.

Remember how fast things change. Try not to worry. If you are going to worry, know you're doing it and do what you can to lessen the stress. Plan. Breathe.

Blessings.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Snowing again? That's ok - just bake something.

As snow falls harder here on my landbase that is a mere mile from the ocean, I think back on the snowless mountains I visited last weekend in New York and have to laugh. I didn't plant my bulbs before all the snow started, and now I wish I had as the snow would have held them happily in stasis till warmer weather arrived to stay.

So today, in addition to shoveling more snow, I'm baking breads (flavored whites and a loaf of banana because, banana) and making cranberry sauce to go with the turkey for dinner.

Days like this, full of icy wind and a sky that matches the color of my little grey Bug are for bright dishes and loud flavors.

I still have sage from my garden, and thyme, so tonight will be herb stuffed turkey breast, orange cranberry sauce, and almond cornbread. Yes, it's mini-Thanksgiving. Why? Well, simple really. I love those flavors. The scent of oranges and cranberries and brown butter mixed with herbs cooling through my kitchen laced with the already present aroma of baking bread....

My beloved will have an atrocious drive home, I know it. He's 45 minutes away from our house on a good day with light traffic.  Right now? well... nope. big, BIG nope.

these are loaves I baked back in January.
So I bake. I fill the house with scents that will welcome him before I even have a chance to hug him. This is my magic. It's common magic to be sure - but it's magic. Have you ever looked at the face of someone who just smelled something that relaxes their whole body? There's a smile there that is indescribable. And it makes you smile. Then everyone's smiling and it's wonderful.

That's magic.

That's being a kitchen witch - it's the little things, but they're the important things.

So in this time of dusty snow and dove grey skies, don't neglect your hearth. Bake, cook, brew... bring warmth to your hearth and it will flow to the whole house.

Friday, February 5, 2016

O HAI SNOW

Yesterday I went to a high school play wearing jeans, ballet flats with no socks, a camisole and a short sleeved loose knit sweater.

Today I just shoveled 3" of snow off my driveway and now, 40 minutes after I finished and came back inside, there's another inch out there.

*sigh*


At least it doesn't look like this outside yet.





yet.... (furiously crosses fingers)


I say that, but for all that I complain about having to shovel we really do need the water. The overabundance of snow last year meant that we had a very high water table for the spring and summer... my garden looked amazing, and so did everyone else's. Farmer's markets were plentiful - it's easier for that to happen when you have wetter soil to start with and your seeds can get a healthy start.

The lack of snow this winter has a lot of farmers nervous, and for good reason. We all hate shoveling it... they wish they could truck it over to their fields and dump more on.

The snow out there now is the kind that doesn't fly around when the wind blows against tree branches and berms - this is the sticky wet snow that stays in place and is almost too wet for snowballs. You'd get a really decent snowman out of this stuff though...

So as this frozen gift falls on our cars and roads and we curse the messes it causes, remember that those gardens we all adore in the spring look better when we have snowy winters.

Blessings, and drive safe everyone.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Cleaning... or the necessity of a purge

Spring!  It is HERE (well, on Thursday at 4am it's here) but as a community we celebrate today. Honestly, most of us will celebrate all week with cleansing and circle and feasts.

I started today at the center of my home - my hearth. I have a LOT of incense and herbal oils, and the ingredients for more. Life happened and sadly I couldn't get to it for a while, so it sat in a corner of my kitchen, gathering dust and whatnot, becoming sticky and dirty and neglected. I'd go to it every now and then, lament the state of things, and never get back to it. Well, that changed today.


See that? That's what my incense and oils supplies fit into now. (you kinda don't want to know what it looked like before, trust me) Lots of dust and a bunch of washing later I know what I have, what I'm running low on, what I have A LOT of, and what I need to do to make what I want. And I threw out a lot of stuff that was just gone.

And I found my Imbolc incense, and burning that while I worked was the icing on the cake of 'oh hey, there is floor in that corner of the kitchen.'

Working with magic as I do isn't always exciting - sometimes it's just a simple walk around the house with a trash bag. If you've never done that, try it this week. No seriously - grab a big black trash bag or a plastic grocery bag and walk around your house. Every room. Bathrooms too. Bet you'll need another plastic grocery bag by the time you're done. There's a reason I suggested the big black trash bag first. ;)

Cleaning isn't something I love, so let's get that straight now. I kinda hate it actually. I put it off like anyone else and then *freak out* when someone is coming over. That meme is actually talking about me. I bet a lot of us can say that though.

Imbolc is the symbolic start of Spring. More cleaning gets done in the name of "Spring Cleaning" than at any other time of year. In fact, most of us chose the changing seasons to motivate our cleaning than even our parents coming over.

We watch movies or we go over to other people's houses and see the beautiful, spotless homes that they say they "live in" and internally sigh,  knowing full well that it's a lie. No one's house is that spotless all the time. Unless you have a cleaning service.

If you don't have a service, or don't want a service to come in, that's ok. Just take your time, as the Goddess for help, and find the thing that motivates you to get it done.

This Imbolc, I hope you find the motivation you're looking for. I found mine starting with that neglected corner of my kitchen, and now I have about 1/3 of my house cleaned and another 1/3 on it's way to where I want it.

(and a hint? dust before you sweep or vacuum.)

Feb 1

Oh there are so many names for this day! Imbolic, Imbolg, Candlemas, Brigid's Day - it's the halfway point between Yule and Ostara.

So many, many, many posts have been put up about the difficulty for the modern Pagan in celebrating holy days that fall on dates that have no tangible meaning in our modern society. Meat is not in short supply right now, I have no need to eat only salt pork and whatever root vegetables are in the cellar. I don't need to worry about our supply of tallow for candles, or hay for the livestock.

not right now in New England... 
 I'll be lucky if any of the bulbs in my front yard know what time of year it is right now, but I can tell you they won't be blooming till closer to April. This is New England and while we didn't share in the feet of snow our lower East Coast brethren received, that doesn't mean we aren't still due for more of the frozen white.


So how, in a world that isn't going to thaw anytime soon, do we look at this mid point and have hope that in a few short weeks our land will be awash in blooming flowers?   March 20th is Ostara this year... do any of us think we're getting a Spring Rite without snow on the ground?

I don't - but it doesn't matter either.

The path of a hedgewitch is a pretty simple one. You have to be flexible. You have to roll with it. For our path is not one which is paved. Ours is the one that was cut for us, with the careful steps of our ancestors over the course of many, many eons. We can see it, it's just the path less taken. But that's how we like it. ;)

So this Imbolg, I ask you - sit quietly and talk to Brigid. Don't ask for a laundry list of things - you're there to listen more than speak. Listen for her words, her inspiration. Listen for the clues to the problems clutched to your breast. Listen, and learn.

As is my way, I'll be baking for the day - breads, a rich meat, something with corn. Simple foods, but it will be a meal fit for the day. I likely won't have people over if the weatherman is right, but then I might... we have a great guest room.

So I wish you blessings this Imbolg. Celebrate in a way that speaks to you, to you path, and to your family. Greet the sunlight that day (however much we get) with a smile and thanks, and do something creative.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Filling the Void

When you leave a routine in the dust, consigning it to memory and whisper, and you have nothing equally substantial to take its place, you get a Void.

These are, as sci-fi and fantasy stories suggest, not a good thing.  Where in the books things with claws and teeth and a hunger for flesh emerge, or things with blades and wands and a desire to kill emerge, here things like Stagnancy and Complacency and Lethargy emerge.

These three, horrible eaters of time and energy, creep in with vile intent and devour quickly everything you think you have time to do.

They eat hope, joy, energy, planning... they eat it all without remorse or pause. The meal is fast, you never see it coming... then you turn and look and oops. It's gone and there sit the Trio with Cheshire grins on their ugly faces.

it's not fun.

So what do you do to combat this? HOW do you fight back against the Trio?

Motivation is fleeting in times like this. You search, you try, and you often fail. Minutes turn into hours, turn into days, into weeks.... and then a month has passed without you even realizing it.

A few things I've found helpful? Lots of telling myself to STOP.



sitting on the couch

excuses
ignoring lists
movie marathons
netflix binge-watching
falling into facebook
avoiding chores
putting things off





Instead? GO.



outside

get a shower
put together a schedule
do the chores
take a walk
workout
do the errands you need to do
out with friends
ANYWHERE YOU WANT



A really intelligent man said "Every action has an equal opposite reaction" and an even smarter man put those words in a catchy song that I listen to a LOT. (Hamilton. go look it up, I'll be here.) But the thing that gets me about that sentence specifically is that if there is no initial action, there is no other action. NOTHING happens. Void happens. the Trio happens.

You lose.

So, ACTION! GO! *boom*

Fill the Void with action, tell your story through action, let your art flow out of you instead of bottling up inside. Write until you have nothing more to write. Clean the house till it shines. Do ALL THE ERRANDS.

Don't let the Trio win.




Monday, January 11, 2016

Naming that Feeling

*there's a lot of cursing in this one (not *curses* but decently foul language) so if that bothers you, maybe skip this one.* *this is also long and ranty... don't say you weren't warned.*

You've had it, I know you have - you're sitting in the same spot you always sit in, watching the same show you've watched a hundred times, watching the same commercials you've watched a million times, and it hits you right between the eyes.

A feeling like you want to scream and run. A feeling like you're ready to rip your skin off and either dissipate into the air like smoke or fall to the floor in a pile of dust.

You know what that feeling is? Because I've been wracking my brain to figure it out for YEARS and I finally got it.






You're fed up.

I'm fed up.

WE'RE ALL FED UP.
(yeah, yelling... sorry not sorry)


It's the same sexist jokes over and over. The same fat shaming, the same thin shaming, the same war of the genders that they hope we never catch on to. I love my sweetie, I really do, but I really also wonder if he realizes that what's easy for him to watch tears me open sometimes. (Big Bang Theory... yeah. I'm getting really sick of their shit. They've already gotten strongly worded letters from me about their continual fat shaming and geek girl shaming. It looks like I'm going to have to write more letters.)

You're (we're) fed up because it's shit like this that keeps the towers of inequality so high. It's things like this that perpetuate the stereotypes of the gendernormative and the sizes that society deems "realistic", never mind that the people they show are the minority in terms of average size of a human being.  We're fed up because it's the same thing every. single. day. and no matter what we do it isn't changing.

I saw a commercial for a medication for joints today - it opens with two women moving up from one floor to the next. One woman is walking up the stairs briskly and the other is on an escalator. The woman walking gives the woman on the escalator side eye as the voice over talks about "moving easily"... ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?  Drug companies are now using shaming as a sales technique too. Wow. FUCK THAT. No one deserves to be shamed for taking an escalator instead of the stairs. You have NO IDEA what that woman's situation is so how dare you give her shit for not walking briskly up the stairs in heels like you are. FUCK OFF.

It's time to do something about this. ALL of this. The drug testing that is mandatory to hold some jobs (almost any job) in this country... we're all up in arms about the possibility of making welfare recipients have to drug test, and know the stats that say we're not actually doing anything with that testing except wasting money, but we're all complacent when it comes to the drug testing we're subjected to... why??  Time to change it.  The agist, sexist, sizeist jokes - they're everywhere and we just put up with it because it's funny? No. Time to change it. The gender jokes, the mis-gendering, the gender shaming... Time to change it. Slut shaming. Time to change it.

It's the new year, and we all make resolutions - this year, instead of making a resolution that only helps you, make a resolution that helps everyone. Don't play into the stereotypes or shaming. Rise above it and be an example of tolerance and acceptance.

We have the unique ability to make real impact on our world with our magic. We also have the ability to VOTE - a magic all its own. I'm not going to tell you who to vote for, that's up to you. I am going to tell you to go Vote, as often as you're able to based on local and national elections. I am going to tell you that real change begins when you exercise the power we all have to control who sits in government.

Yes, it is tedious. Yes, it's not always convenient. Yes, you have to make time for it. But think about this - women and men have died to give you the right to help decide what happens in this nation. We, the complacent, docile, lazy populace are being led around right now.  What do you think would happen if we decided to take the reins back? What if the people in the driver seat were US?

Great things could happen. Let's find out.