Monday, December 29, 2008

Holiday Silence

Among the lovely gifts that I received this holiday season (that's the easiest way to refer to the multiple gift giving occasions in my household), I got two that spoke very directly to my gemini sun, gemini ascendant self. A fountain pen that I had been drooling over and an upgrade to the operating system of this computer. Anyone care to guess which gift was functional right out of the box? But now, I am up and computing again, and have set this machine up to the point where I can start taking advantage of whatever new stuff is now available to me. Not that I am promising high chattiness here, since I do have that lovely pen...

My Christmas Fire

No fragrant logs in the fireplace, no roasting chestnuts, I know, I just had to be different. :-)


In reality, this was the ashing stage of my spagyric project that I've been unintentionally coy about. I started the project at sunrise on Thanksgiving, which was also the morning of the New Moon in Sagittarius. Sun, in Sag, Moon in Sag, hour of Jupiter-not bad for the starting of a Jupiter tincture, I think. The lemon balm was homegrown (at last, a use for an herb that was making my pantry smell like furniture polish!) and organic, and when I added the Everclear, the liquid turned the most fantastic gemstone green. I sealed it, and wrapped it carefully, and everyday, I shook it gently. Christmas day was the 4 week anniversary. It was also the last day of Jupiter before the New Moon. I've no idea how important that is to traditional alchemy, but the moon has been my calendar for long enough that I can't not take it into account.

Since DH had to work on Christmas evening, we "did" our Christmas the night before and in the morning, leaving me the night of Christmas for this work. It was surprising to me how "dry" the lemon balm felt, even as I could see the liquid dripping through the coffee filters. I didn't bother to dry it in the oven. One, it looked and felt pretty dry. Two, I have a gas oven, and having blown the door open when baking fruitcake, I was convinced that putting Everclear in the oven was a sure method for a large explosion.

So, lemon balm in stainless steel bowl, boots on my feet (we still had about 4 to 5 inches of snow on the ground), I went out into the yard. Not surprisingly, all I needed to do was place the (looooong nozzled) lighter near the herb and it lit up. It was a beautiful and very large bright blue flame. It was a long lasting, large bright blue flame. Long lived enough for me to take pictures (fumbling with gloves and the flash control) and really really hope that my neighbors didn't decide to call the police. And then, the flames died down and it began to smolder and smoke. At which point, I actively began to pray that my neighbors wouldn't call the police-burning herbs smell like burning herbs, if you know what I mean.

All in all, I was out there, in the snow, in 20 degree weather, for an hour, before the last of the embers died. But at least, when I brought the bowl in, I could see that the ashes were white, white white, so no further heating was necessary. There wasn't even any real need for grinding the ashes at this point. I mixed them with distilled water, and filtered it through yet more coffee filters. What truly astounded me at this point was the brown mud that was left in the coffee filters afterwards-where did that come from?

At this point, I have a glass pie pan with these amazingly beautiful crystallized salts in it. I am going to try to get a couple of pictures of that, before I add them back to the menstruum. And, Thursday, I will get to sample my work.

NB: I am very glad that sunrise is so late at this time of year. This past Saturday morning, I got up at dawn (Sun in Cap, New Moon in Cap, day of Saturn), and started the process with comfrey...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Return of the Sun

Some Solstice foods (well, what did you expect, I am a hearthwitch) We had the brioche with eggs sunny side up for breakfast. The noodle pudding, looking all sun-flarey was part of dinner. I would have loved to have been able to watch the live webcast from New Grange, but I am just the wrong age, too old or too young. My 20 year old was awake at that hour (3am-ish NY time) because when you are that age, well sometimes you just forget to sleep. And my soon to be 97 year old Grandmother was awake at that hour too, because? Well, I guess just because. Although since she still lives a life without computers she didn't watch the webcast either. I'll bet, though, that at one point or another, she did actually visit New Grange-I believe that Saudi Arabia is the only place that she hasn't been, at least once in her life. I will try to remember to ask.

Sunday night, we started lighting the Chanukkah (todays spelling, tomorrow may be different) Menorah. Two candles the first night, three the next, and so on, encouraging the return and strengthening of the sun. Yes, I know that isn't the kosher explanation, but we also ate bacon with our eggs, ok?


An interesting thing about the candles in the menorah. The first candle is called "shammas" or "shammash" and is usually explained to mean "servant" or "helper." It is used to light the other candles. BUT, if you look the word up in the dictionary, shin, mem, shin is translated as...Sun. Shammash is the Sun, the Canaanite Sun God, who lights the other lights, but is diminished not. This also works with Kabbalistic, and thus, by (long) extension non esoteric Judaism. The Sun and/or Sun God is the "helper" in bringing the light, but it isn't the originating source.
And now, to bed. I did a lot of cooking today, in preparation for Christmas, because yes, we "do" that one, too.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Solstice

This was sent to me by Paola Arosio & Diego Meozzi, the wonderful people who run Stonepages.com and send out the ArcheoNews letter.


"We suggest to follow (weather and time permitting) the illumination of the passage tomb inside Newgrange, timed for tomorrow, Sunday 21 December. A live Webcast will be available free of charge on http://www.heritageireland.ie/ and at http://www.astronomy2009.ie/ from 08:30 to 09:30 GMT "

How cool is that?

If you don't know about StonePages, the web address is: http://www.stonepages.com/
and you can subscribe (which I highly recommend) to the newletter from there!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Well, it is a source of protein...

http://www.lulu.com/content/4956212

Making hay while the sun shines

Or, more accurately, making cookies and soup, while the snow flies.

Today is the last day of DH’s vacation and we had been planning on going into NYC for the day. It would have been a counterpoint to our day in the city last week, when we saw “Equus” and ate Turkish food in a restaurant that he is a frequenter of. It took DH nearly a week to admit that “Equus” wasn’t exactly hot date material. (To say that we have differing views on entertainment is to tread lightly-when we saw the Martin Scorsese film “The Age of Innocence” he really thought it had a happy ending, because the main character in a final voice over stated that in the end it was a good thing that he hadn’t left his wife for the Countess Oleska, because his wife was good, respectable and faithful and had died nursing one of their sons through a disease. High romance, no?)

Anyway, we had intended to see Worshiping Women: Ritual and Reality in Classical Athens at the Onassis Cultural Center (http://www.onassisusa.org/occ.htm) and then, head uptown to the Metropolitan Museum to see Beyond Babylon: Art, Trade, and Diplomacy in the Second Millennium B.C. and maybe, if our feet held up, Art and Love in Renaissance Italy (http://www.metmuseum.org/home.asp). At some point, we would have stopped to get something to eat (I admit to being partial to the Petrie Court Café at the Met, behind the Petrie sculpture hall.). But, we hadn’t counted on the snow.

So, instead, I made chicken soup with matzoh balls for dinner. Or actually since when I make chicken soup it is a three or four day project, I finished making the chicken soup. And, I baked mandelbrodt, which is one of those traditional Chanukah foods (think of something halfway between shortbread and biscotti). Weather wise, it was certainly a better day for baking and cooking than traipsing into Manhattan. The house smells “homey” and the kitchen is warm and steamy from the soup. It would have been an entirely satisfying day but for the fact that I had planned to be somewhere else (and someone else). Oh well. At least we shall dine well.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fortune Cookies

(This says it all, I think.)
DH and I had chinese food take out, last night.
His fortune cookie read: "Your success in life must be earned with earnest efforts."
Mine read: "You will always get what you want through your charm and personality."

Purr :-)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Busy Busy

DH is home on vacation, which is lovely. I have taken this week "off." That means that I am not getting up at 6:25am to see our younger daughter off to school, other than that, mostly I am dealing with lack of routine. I am feeling frantically busy and at the same time, I wonder if I am getting as much done, which is frustrating. The holiday season has started, with my lovely, chaotic family reunion/chanukah party this past Saturday-a larger, louder, more loving or argumentative group you will never see. Sunday, DH played Paul Bunyan and cut down and hauled home the Christmas Tree. Gifts have been made, ordered, wrapped, mailed. Donations given. Tomorrow will be my daughters holiday concert, if the snow now falling doesn't cause school to be canceled (our first snow since before halloween!). For the chanukah party, I baked 200 cookies, made chocolate truffles as a gift for my father, and orange scented honey butter as a gift for my brother in law. Toward the end of the week, I will start the baking for actual chanukah, and a sun-shaped bread (pictures to follow, if it turns out well) for solstice morning. AND I still need a Christmas menu. Usually, we have a Christmas dinner based on the feast from "A Christmas Carol" but this year, it looks like DH will have to work, so we will be having a Christmas brunch. Roast goose just won't work for that!

And...my Soma Luna order arrived today. 4 ounces of Comfrey for my Saturn tincture.

Friday, December 12, 2008

He's Baaaack!

The one, the only, the accept no substitutes (and there is a cookie and a chocolate truffle for the first person to id that quote!), the first Practically Magic

http://practicallymagic.blogspot.com/

hey, we share all kinds of things...

(but I'm not going anywhere, folks...)

Adddendum to last nights incoherence

If any one who read last nights post and hasn't experienced such spa pampering and is considering giving a gift certificate or a package from a spa to a beloved partner, you should know one thing-the effect is not sexual. In fact, the effect on the body is very nearly the opposite, the body feels so tuned and balanced within itself that the very idea of sex is foreign. But give the gift, anyway. That particular effect is temporary and fleeting, while the sense being pampered and cared for is not. Just don't expect fireworks after the spa works. :-)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Best Intentions and all that

I had intended to blog about the production of Equus that DH and I saw earlier this week. Never mind the full frontal (and leaping and running and...) Daniel Radcliff (and he smokes cigarettes, too), I was going to write about the importance of Drama, how art can expose the issues of the age, how intense the writing and the subject matter, and all kinds of other most likely pretentious sentences.

But now it ain't gonna happen. Not because the play and the production wasn't marvelous and thought provoking, it certainly was. Richard Griffiths and Kate Mulgrew were wonderful. (and also thereby proving physical shape has little to do with attraction-to me it was Griffiths who was the wow.) DH and I discussed "what the play was about" all the way home, bringing into the conversation religious fundamentalism and various tarot cards (and causing the person in front of us on the bus to contort himself mightily, so he might hear us better). But as I said...

I spent 4 1/2 hours at a spa, today. I finally used the gift certificate that DH had giving me for my birthday, back in June. There were reasons I didn't use it then. And then, there were reasons to wait until now. And, with the economy being so much in the dumps, the spa was running all kinds of promotions, allowing me to really live it up. And I did. Full body exfoliation, mud wrap, massage, reflexology, facial. I've never experienced a day of such pampering, but I feel like my brain was relaxed along with my muscles, cleaned up like my pores. Conversation is difficult.

Tomorrow, I will go back into overdrive getting ready for various holidays (I keep threatening to add Diwali-why not? We celebrate nearly everything else). Tonight, I think I will just bob along in a sea of calm and contentment. May your evening be thus, as well.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Mark Stavish and Me

For the last decade or so, I’ve been working on a method of quarantining bad or unhappy memories while finding a way of “showcasing” the good and happy ones. I don’t want to ban the bad memories, to a large extent, who we are in this life is a result of our experiences and I don’t want to wipe out what has made me “me” I just don’t want them unnecessarily poisoning my here and now. (after all, you never know when one of the less pleasant events in your life turns out to be a very useful lesson.) I’m still working on it. But I have gotten pretty good at the easy storage and call up of those things that I want to remember. Good enough so that those events that have happened since I’ve started this project can be recalled with nearly all of my senses, so that I can almost relive them. For ever so many reasons, I am so grateful for affirmation from others, that when I receive a compliment, especially in public, I can remember getting it in glorious Technicolor, with surround-sound and smello-vision.

So what does this have to do with Mark Stavish?

Nearly a year and a half ago, DH and I attended a pagan festival. Mark Stavish was one of the two featured speakers. Marks first workshop on the day that we attended was on spagyrics, and, I suspect, far too early in the morning for those who were up “festival-ing” the night before. Four of us attended this workshop, and only DH had read anything on alchemy. The workshop started as if it were a lecture, with the other two attendees earnestly taking notes. Then, Mark started asking us questions, and it became more of a conversation between him and DH (it was apparent that the other two attendees had no background in alchemy or hermetics.) I sat and listened. After a while, Mark looked at me and said “everyone participates, everyone answers questions...” OK, fine, although at the time I had no formal study in alchemy or hermetics, either. (I do, however, seem to have a talent for absorbing information atmospherically, and my long ago degree in the classics probably doesn’t hurt.) It was an interesting morning, although I did not understand all of what was said, when it came to certain practicalities, he and I had a common ground.

After a break for lunch, there was a second workshop, this one, better attended. The topic of this workshop was supposed to be lucid dreaming. Before he started, Mark went around the room, asking each of us our magical/spiritual background. The first half dozen people were Wiccan. Then, two young women dressed and pierced in their best “still trying to piss mommy off style” said that they were “eclectic” and one said that she was having trouble doing path work with tarot cards. Mark looked at her and said, “That’s because you don’t know what you are doing.” Uh oh, because now its my turn, and I am nothing if not eclectic. Which is what I said. (Well, minus the “uh oh” part) His response? “But you know what your are doing.”

If I were the better person that I aspire to be, my chagrin at the embarrassment of the woman next to me would outweigh the pleasure I got (and still get!) from someone publicly saying that I know what I am doing. But I am not that better person, yet. So, if you are one of those people that has said something complimentary to or about me, where others might hear it, know that you and the event have a special place in my heart. Thank you.
(and eventually, I will get to the spagyrics project of Thanksgiving)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

For Craft and Magic

I just received an email notice of a great sale from The Earth Bazaar. They sell gemstone beads at wholesale prices, although you do not need to buy in wholesale amounts. So, if you are interested in making jewelry for yourself or as a gift, or if you need a specific stone (or stones) for magic work, you may want to take a look. But make sure that you have plenty of time, the sales pages run 41 pages of just the gemstones, from Agate to Unakite. After that, comes pages of manmade stones, and then silver, gold and copper beads and findings. I've purchased from The Earth Bazaar, before, they are reputable and easy to deal with. Here is the link, have fun!

http://www.theearthbazaar.com/EarthBazaar/EarthBazaar.aspx?actionID=30&levelID=1&page=1

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

pre-holiday meltdown...

I think that I have reached the “crash, thud” stage; the “what have I gotten myself into?” stage. I love to cook, and I love to eat, and I love pretty much all the festivities of this season. I know it isn’t au courant among some pagan circles to love Thanksgiving, but I do. Food, family, and a focus on gratitude-what’s not to love? This year, it will just be the four of us, we see my side of the family on the odd years (that’s the mnemonic), and DH’s family is widely scattered, we no longer do regular family gatherings with them. But Thanksgiving is a food and a tradition oriented day, just because there will only be four of us at the table doesn’t mean skimping on the menu.

So…yesterday I roasted a pumpkin for the soup and for a pie. I sautéed the vegetables for the stuffing. I prepped 2 pie crusts.

Today, it was finishing the stuffing, prepping the green vegetables and baking a pecan pie.

Tomorrow, I will make the pumpkin soup and bake the pumpkin pie. Roast the turkey. Steam the vegetables and make mashed potatoes and cranberry apple crunch. Oh, and the gravy, can’t forget the gravy!

None of this would be a big deal, except unlike those mythical grandmothers and great-grandmothers of yore, there were other things going on in my life. (I know that was all myth, anyway-my great grandmother ran a business, and never cooked). Due to the holiday my client appointments were all over the place and at off times and days. And, due to the economy, when I was given the opportunity to attend a business networking meeting at no monetary cost to me, I took it. So, I was up and business attired and out of the house by 6:40 this morning. The only thing civilized people should be doing at 6:40am is sleeping! Then, there was a wee small problem with our hot water, and we ended up with a team of plumbers here this afternoon. A late training session, and oh-I forgot all about making dinner for tonight!

Tomorrow will be easy, just cooking and sitting and eating and talking with some of the people that I love best in this world.

Of course, there is the matter of that spagyric project that I will be starting tomorrow at sunrise…

(possibly, I might still have it together tomorrow evening to write about that, too.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Getting Girly for a Moment

Or, as another blogger (an author, no less) said: SQUEEEEEEEE!

I have flowers, cut flowers, in a vase, sitting on my kitchen table. This makes me very happy. It is my/our wedding anniversary, and DH sent me flowers. In a life where most things are measured by functionality, as well as beauty (at least until we get the second child through the college tuition years), a gift of flowers at the end of November has no functionality at all, except to make me happy. Which, it does.

Because our anniversary is on a Monday this year (24 years of being recognized by the government; in the spring, it will be 29 years since we recognized each other), we won’t be doing a lot today. We exchanged cards this morning, and then bled the radiators, since they were noisy-love isn’t the only thing that is supposed to be hot! DH went to work, and I went to see a client. As DH won’t be home until around 11pm, any other publicly announced festivities (such as might be mentioned here) will happen some other day. Next month, we will see Equus, starring Richard Griffiths and Daniel Radcliffe.

But, in the meantime, I have flowers on my table and a silly grin on my face.


(perhaps another reason for the girlyness of the post is that
http://genderanalyzer.com/ analyzed this blog and decided that “"We guess http://hearthwitchery.blogspot.com/ is written by a man (59%), however it's quite gender neutral." And, while I certainly have nothing against men, I did marry one, after all, I am not one, myself.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Because clearly, reading 4 books at once isn't enough

(and it was only four, because I finished “Interesting Times” by Terry Pratchett, earlier today), this arrived for me today. List price $125, but between coupons, DH’s BN membership and gift certificates I’ve earned answering internet polls, it ended up only costing me $17. It also cost me most of the rest of my day, just browsing through it. It’s a big book, certainly per pound as well as per word (per footnote, too, its pretty scholarly) the best book deal I’ve made. My poor mailman, who is waiting to have knee replacement surgery, may never forgive me.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunday of yellows and golds

Powdery gold…
Our pre-Halloween snowstorm ended the saffron harvest. The bulbs are still growing, and the newly planted bulbs are starting to send up shoots, but there will be no more flowers this autumn. I had harvested 111 stigma, which gave me approximately 1/5 of a gram of dried and useful herb. I say approximately, because I do not have a scale that measures such small amounts.
By yesterday, it had dried and was smelling pretty intoxicating. (Between the saffron drying and the esrog sitting in a dish, my desk has become one major olfactory delight). It was time to make more incense. I have the proportions down, now I needed to work on form. For whatever reason (and I do not have a clue) the incense cones that I made last time, work perfectly well for me, but do not stay lit for anything, when DH attempts to use them. This time, I would try making sticks. Using a metal syringe (labeled on one side of the package as a clay gun, and on the other side as a dough gun), I rolled the incense dough and put it in the cylinder. All I needed to do now, was to press down on the handle and squeeze out a line of incense, right? Sure, if you don’t mind your incense sticks looking like crazy birthday cake candles. But I figured it out. And the incense dough is cohesive enough that if I don’t pipe out the sticks longer than then length of my hand, I can gently roll the sticks into a more uniform shape. The nice thing about the incense sticks is that they dry quickly. I made them late morning, and they were dry enough to use that night. They fit into the incense holders we have and yes, they even stayed lit for DH.

Gold, of a more liquid type…
On a paper plate, left at the crossroads near my home: Honey and bread, a fig and a section of a pomegranate. Also left with the plate were a couple of dog biscuits (You don’t think that Hecates hounds would like a snack?) and a pledge to make a contribution to a local food bank, a pledge that I fulfilled today.

And, yellow…
More turmeric capsules filled. I don’t really like the color that the turmeric dyes my hands, but the iridescent yellow gold that my fingernails end up is pretty cool, at least for a little while!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Last Political Post...

...for a while, perhaps.

I've been having some connectivity issues with my wireless router, blogging and email have been somewhere between difficult and impossible. Until I can stay connected to the web for more than 45 seconds at a time, this may be the last post on any subject. But a week after election day, I still have trouble believing that Prop 8 passed in California.

A couple of links:

http://www.eatingoutloud.com/prop-8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVUecPhQPqY

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Thank you, America

From MSNBC:
"Obama reached the 270 electoral votes he needed for election at 11 p.m. ET, when NBC News projected that he would win California, Washington and Oregon. The Associated Press reported shortly after 11 p.m. that Obama’s opponent, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, had called Obama to offer his congratulations. "

I am very proud of my country, I actually have tears in my eyes. (and Barack Obama was not my first choice during the primary season)

Did you vote yet?

My older daughter came home to vote. The university that she attends, known by Fox News as "Havana North" does not schedule classes on election day, nor on the day before, so that students, faculty and staff can travel, if need be, to vote where they are registered. Yep, that does sound commie, doesn't it-giving people the time and opportunity to have a say in their government.


Anyway, we went off to the polling place, with identification and fully prepared for long lines and long waiting times to find...no lines, poll workers who knew us, no challenges to our right to vote, and no smiley flag stickers that announced our good citizenship! Hey, you mean all we get is representational government?


Its no secret that we voted for "That One," yeah, the one that "The Other One" kept calling a socialist. Which is pretty funny, because there were at least 2 candidates from 2 different socialist parties running, here in New Jersey. Besides, Barack Obama is no socialist. I know, I am related to a man who was a socialist his entire adult life and it would be wonderful if Barack Obama could grow up to accomplish as much as my Great Grandfather did.


Pop (my great-grandfather, the socialist) came to this country at the end of the 19th century, two steps ahead of the czarist police and not quite a full step ahead of the woman who would be my great grandmother (but that is a different story). Pop was a tailor by profession, but a union organizer by avocation.


(If you were taught American history by the Great Man method, I suggest that you google: The Homestead Strike and Riot, The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, The works of Jacob Riis and read "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair. That will at least be a start. If you were never actually taught American history, well crap, we do have a problem, don't we?)


When Pop arrived in this country, working class people were often seen as less than fully human, and were treated as such by the owners of capital (let us get is straight right now-democracy is a type of political system, capitalism is an economic system-they are not synonymous). Do you have weekends off, or regularly scheduled days off from work? Thank the unions. Prior to the rise of unions in this county, working people could possibly have Sunday off to attend church, many times, though they would only get 1/2 a day off. Pensions? Also, thank the unions, working class people were expected to work until they died-and then the widows and orphans would go to the poor house, wherein "respectable" society would moan about the cost of supporting such useless waste. The expectation of health care? Of the six children born to my great-grandparents three survived childhood, not an unusual ratio in working class slums.

Now, I know that Pop was one of many many union organizers. He was one of many who, through hard and dangerous activities tried to bring some balance to the economic life of this nation. At the same time, he managed to support a family as a tailor, help start the American Garment Workers Union (no Wobbly, he. Sigh, yeah, google that, too), and go to school at night to learn English, which would be the fourth language he ended up being able to speak. (eventually, he learned 2 more, but was never quite as fluent in Spanish or Italian as he was in Russian, Polish, Yiddish or English). His three surviving children, all daughters, finished high school, went to college, and ascended out of the working class-which is the way it is supposed to be.

Speaking of the three daughters (one of whom is my Grandmother, whose 97th birthday we will be celebrating this winter), once Pop felt that his union was firmly established, he moved his passions to a new cause. For most of the rest of his life, he worked toward removing the barriers to higher education for women and girls. All of his female descendants and all but one of the male (extenuating circumstances) who have reached adulthood had university degrees.

So, where am I going with all of this? One-go vote, dammit, if you haven't yet. Two-Barack Obama is no socialist. Three-what this nation needs is an economic system of balance (umm, middle pillar, anyone?) and Four-name calling is crap, what positive affect have you had on society?

Oh, and if you read "The Jungle" and decide that maybe you will become a vegan, you should know that the Pure Food and Drug Act that was passed after the publication of the book and the work by Ida Tarbell (maybe you should google her, too) regulated more than the meat industry. It was not uncommon prior to that act to have saw dust or chalk added to bread (depending on whether it was white or whole grain breads) or formaldehyde added to milk. The Chinese capitalists have nothing on us.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Latest Missive from the (Michael) Palin Campaign

The somewhat important 2008 election is upon us.
Silly though we may usually be, we at the Committee to Elect Michael Palin President would like to take a moment to say, in all seriousness...
VOTE!
Vote like the wind!
Vote like you've never voted before!
Vote like your life depends on it! (It may)
Vote like the ice caps are melting! (They are)
Vote like if you don't then the Spanish Inquisition will fry you up and toss you into a Spanish Omelet!
Vote like a crazed weasel with its head on fire that has to vote in order for someone to dunk its head in a bucket of water, thus dousing the fire and eliciting a collective sigh of relief from every other potentially flammable weasel, stoat or ocelot in the vicinity.
VOTE, YOU MISERABLE BASTARD, AS IF BY DOING SO YOU CAN KEEP AN OIL-DRILLING, WOLF-KILLING, IGNORANT ALASKAN MOOSE-MUNCHER FROM EVER GETTING HER IGNORANT,WELL-MANICURED FINGER ANYWHERE NEAR THE BIG RED ARMAGEDDON BUTTON! (You can)
Ahem.
We believe we've made our point.
*****************************************************
And now back to our regularly-scheduled silliness...
****************************************************************************
SPLUNGE!
Until next time...
Your friends at the Temporarily Serious Though Usually Quite Silly Party
P.S. If you're not a U.S. citizen, please feel freeto close your eyes and vote metaphysically.

From: Michael Palin for President
11870 Santa Monica Blvd.Suite 106-535Los Angeles, CA90025US

Friday, October 31, 2008

Bat Cookies!




(and I don't know why the first picture insists on coming out sideways)
Bat cookies for DH to take to work. Bat cookies for daughter to take to the party she is attending. Bat cookies to give out to those trick or treaters who know and trust me (and their parents know and trust me). Bat cookies for me! Can you tell that I really enjoy halloween?

Halloween, the Cross Quarter Day, and a New Responsibility

Happy Halloween, tonight will be Jack O'Lanterns and kids in costumes and candy, candy candy! This is the first year in a very long time that DH will have to be at work during the trick or treating hours-no leaping out the door and nearly scaring the kids off the porch for him, this year. Just the witch, in the witch house. Yes, last year, I actually heard a parent tell their child, while pointing at our porch, "why don't we stop at the witch house?" Just so long as you don't steal the enchanted lettuce from the herb garden, kid. Cackle, cackle.

More seriously, though, Halloween is tonight. The working with the tides and energies of the astrological cross quarter will be next week. But the tides are flowing, I can feel them.

Last night, I paid a shiva call (also known as a condolence call). The deceased was the mother of someone I've known casually for about 20 years. Looking at the people gathered, I came to the realization that somehow, I've become one of the elders in this community. Now how did that happen?

I was approached by another woman, who acknowledged how long I've been a part of this community. She asked "are you afraid of dying?" I said "no." "are you afraid of dead bodies?" Again, my answer was "no." She then asked if I would be willing to join a committee (for lack of a better word) that ritually cleans, blesses and prepares the newly dead for burial. I pointed out that my beliefs were far from standard (much less orthodox) and she smiled and said that everyone was aware of that! But that I also had all the requisite skills and abilities to do the honors properly.

Being asked to help my sisters move to the next phase of existence? And, being asked at this time of year? There was never a chance that I would turn down such an honor.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New Moon in Scorpio 2008


This is not how I envisioned the circle or the yard to look in October! We got close to 5 inches of snow, before it turned to sleet and freezing rain. So, even though I am in the possession of wonderful, warm, ritual use only, long underwear, I did all of my work indoors last night.
It was a night for scrying. I've been getting good results using the jet ball, much better than what I've achieved using lighter or clearer crystals, so that is what I used last night. Set on a black silk tablecloth, with candles behind it, it creates an even darker shadow in front of it. Sort of a two screen effect.
Within the ball, and within the shadow, I saw 2 series of women. It was like watching a film, or timestop photography, run backwards. First, "modern" looking women in "modern" ritual wear, such as tau robes. Then women in the Edwardian and Victorian romantic ideas of ancient apparel (and hairstyles, etc). Then, women in the far less costume-y apparel of what we know of the medieval period, the classical period, the "biblical" period, until finally, there was only 1 woman, who was also a bird, tending to what I knew was a sacred fire (how did I know? couldn't tell you now). This last figure filled both the shadow and the jet ball. And then, there was a sense of everything "snapping into focus" although before then, I didn't have a feel that things were out of focus. I mean everything, not just the vision in front of me, but also the astral temple, and the room I was actually working in, a feeling that all of reality just "clicked into place." (for those of you who are old enough to remember cameras that you actually had to thread film into, it was as if the film of reality hadn't been hooked properly onto the sprockets of the camera until that moment). It was a very physical, as well as visual experience. And then, everything went away, and I was floating in the black of a starry space. I know there was more, but at the moment, I don't remember any of it. I had hoped that it would come back to me in a dream last night. Maybe it did. In that case, much more analysis is called for.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Oh Sing Hosannas!

I have finally (finally!) finished reading "The Mystical Qabalah" by Dion Fortune. I've been slogging through it since July, and in the end it became an exercise in pure willpower to pick it up and read it. Only once before, in my life can I remember having such a hard time getting through a book that was on a subject that interested me (Norman F Cantor's "Inventing The Middle Ages"). Neither time was the problem the subject matter nor any difficulty in language. This time it was purely and simply it seemed to be a question of the personality of the author. (with the Cantor book, the reason or excuse may have been pregnancy and stress) "The Mystical Qabalah" is part of the canon, and so it had to be read, but oh I am so glad to be done with it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

There is just no way to create a cute title for this. If you have children at home, go and give them a kiss and tell them that you love them-now. If your children are grown and out of the house, or if you are a non-custodial parent, pick up the phone and call them and tell them that you love them, again, now. Because you never know when it might be too late.

I bet that you are thinking that I am going to follow this up with some cautionary tale of a childs death or disappearance, but this is actually about the opposite.

Yesterday morning, a father in our neighborhood saw his daughters off to the school bus, a perfectly normal morning in what is a perfectly normal world for many of us. For those girls, their brothers, that world is gone forever. A massive heart attack, out of the blue and fatal, finished it off. Those children never got to say goodbye, and he never got a last chance to say "I love you." No more of whatever were the special daddy-daughter or daddy-son activities.

(I am not denying the horrible pain that the mother/wife will be feeling when she isn't numb, but I think that most of us can accept the possibility of a spouse dying first).

My mother didn't live long enough to see my sister graduate from high school, or to see either of her daughters graduate college, marry, to see her grandchildren. But in some ways, perhaps her long illness helped us, her death wasn't a shock and a surprise. And, maybe I've been effected by this event because my sister and I were the age of two of the siblings in this family. But, think of the look on the face of your child (of whatever age) as they come looking for you, expecting you, only to be told that they will never see you again. Can you contemplate that calmly?

I can't.

Go kiss your kids.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Confession

I am a lousy blogger. I come up with all kinds of wonderful things to write about-when I am not on the computer. And I am not on the computer most of the time. I even compose whole posts in my head while I am elsewhere, but by the time I get a chance to type it all out, I find that either the moment has passed or the idea no longer interests me. As much as I love the nearly instant communication of email and chat, I love my fountain pens and (I'm not a total luddite) gel ink pens more. So, I thought, maybe if I place a "coming attraction" notice in public, maybe I will actually write the post-if only to avoid being aware of publicly (what there is of it, reading this blog) not keeping my word. So...sometime very soon, this week, I hope, I will write something (enough caveats?) about an upcoming spagyric project and an encounter I had with Mark Stavish...

And now, back to what I am much better at: life off the computer. In 15 minutes it will once again be the hour of the Sun, day of the Sun (even though the sun set nearly 2 hours ago) and I will start grinding saffron for a new batch of incense.

end confession.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom: On the 17th Day of Halloween...2

Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom: On the 17th Day of Halloween...2


Look what I won!

Mrs. B. is giving away stuff every day this month.

Fun. Fun.

(and a very cool gift for my daughter...)

Friday, October 17, 2008

October Full Moon


Normally, when I go out to do Moon work, I use wand and orb (and possibly other tools, depending on the work-but as long as I have the footing to dance, I'm happy). I will use either a quartz crystal ball at the full moon or a jet ball at the dark. However, this month I used the lulav and esrog, instead. I was very pleased with the way it worked. A pity that it is a once a year thing, only.
But, oh, the scent of the esrog is intoxicating! Its sitting in a little dish next to the computer right now, so I can continue to enjoy it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Saffron

This is a picture of 80 stigma from saffron crocus flowers. It takes approximately 570 of these to make a gram of the dried spice. Which means that I have what will be 14% of a gram of saffron from this years harvest, so far. Luckily, there is more to come.

A picture of the flowers, once I’ve finished the harvesting. Because I don’t destroy the flowers, nor upset the pollen, I can work along side the bees, they don’t seem to mind me, which is pretty cool. And, since the flowers are sterile, in any case, I am not interrupting the lifecycle, either.

The first batch of saffron incense smelled right, but wasn’t the right proportion of saffron to makko, and the cones would not stay lit. I ended up burning them on charcoal, which allowed the new moon/new year ritual to go on, but wasn’t the point of making the incense, as opposed to simply putting the plant matter on the charcoal. The second batch was much better. The scent was only slightly more subtle, but the cone stayed lit and burned thoroughly. Eureka!

Off to do some more research on the ancient associations with saffron, to add to the personal and more modern ones. But I think I have a winner, here.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Yom Tov

The more I read, and the further I get in my study of hermeticism and the WMT (whether you want to translate that as the Western Magical or Mystical Tradition is up to you), the more I become aware of how Judaism formed and shaped me.

Despite the reassurances I’ve received from many quarters about how “its all based on Kabbalah,” the fact remains that most authors and “authorities” have been, and are Christian (or Gnostic, or Greek philosophic) in their beliefs or background. I have no problem with this. But, as fish may notice changes within the water that they swim, but most likely do not notice the water itself, most people in this society, unless deliberately raised in a non-Christian situation do not realize how influenced by Christianity the water we swim in really is.

Every now and then, I will come across a concept that is so foreign to me, that I just cannot bridge the divide. It is like reading Pride and Prejudice, or Jane Eyre, and coming to a page written in Urdu, or Sanskrit; my mind just can’t take it in. Recently, some of my blogging friends tackled the subject of guilt; this was one of the “I just don’t get it” moments. In fact, I was relieved to find that at first, Witchdoctor Joe didn’t “get it,” either. Of course, he too, is not Christian, and was raised with a consciously not-Christian upbringing.

But now, as I wait for sunset and the start of Yom Kippur to start, I think I have figured out my thoughts on the topic. It is a question for me of systemic, versus individual guilt. Not being raised within a system where my God has died for my sins, or where there is a concept of “original sin” or the idea of the “fall of man” or that creation is evil, I just don’t understand the concept of systemic guilt (I shudder at the burden placed on a small child, who having been taught that “Jesus died for you” is then faced with brussels sprouts for dinner and is told that “good children eat what is placed before them”).

Individual and specific sin and guilt are other things altogether. Humans are imperfect, that is why there is the Work. We make mistakes, hurt others, accidentally and/or intentionally. Yom Kippur is usually translated as the Day of Atonement (later, perhaps, I will post Rabbi Gershon Winkler’s comments on this), the day when all Jews are to fast and to pray and to plead that God will “write them into the book of life for the coming year.” BUT none of that will do you any good; if you haven’t gone to those that you have sinned against during the year, and asked for forgiveness. The one thing that all Jewish authorities have always agreed on is: all the fasting, all the prayer, all the breast-beating, abasement, pleading in the schul, what have you, will be a complete waste of time, unless you have made amends with your fellow humans FIRST.

So, guilt exists, but it is a specific and a human thing. As long as we are human we will have to deal with our own failings. Here, and hopefully now.

If you feel I have wronged any of you, in the last year; I offer my heartfelt apologies. It was not intentional.

May you, and your loved ones be once again written into the Book of Life.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Today's Rainy Day Activity

DH and I made incense today. It was an experiment, as we had never worked some of the materials before. DH made pepper incense. I made saffron incense. That should tell you a great deal about the differences in how we work. (The actual project pointed out some other differences, which I will not go into here, in the interest of continued marital harmony.) The incense is shaped into cones, and will probably take a few days to dry thoroughly. I am hoping that the saffron cones will be ready to use by the new moon. Originally, we were going to try to make incense sticks, but my idea of squeezing the incense paste (there simply is no other way to describe it) from a pastry tube was not successful. DH’s blend was too loose and sticky, and considering the expense of my main ingredient, and the fact that this was an experiment, I made so little of my blend that it filled the pasty tip, but no more than that. So cones, it was.

The kitchen smells very interesting, freshly ground pepper, mixed with hand powdered dried saffron. I have no idea how much pepper DH used, but I used a total of 1/2 teaspoon of saffron-and the scent held its own.

This years saffron harvest will start in about 4 weeks, and I just got a delivery of another 40 saffron bulbs to plant. If the experiment is successful, I expect I will be making more. And, if it isn't, well there are plenty of other uses to put it to (besides, I love paella.).

At this point, my hands are an interesting collection of colors. Earlier this week, I had been experimenting with a leather dying project, in a bright Chinese lacquer kind of red. Despite my care, I still show signs of the dye on my hands. Saffron stains a bright yellow. Tumeric, with which I fill capsules, stains a duller, orangy yellow. Maybe I will have to start a trend of women wearing fashion gloves.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

An email forward from my father

Dear Friends:
You may have thought we wanted a woman on a national political ticket, but the joke has really been on us, hasn't it? Are you as sick in your stomach as I am at the thought of Sarah Palin as VP in control of women's right to choose in the United States...May I suggest the following brilliant alternative? Make a donation to Planned Parenthood in Sarah Palin's name. And here's the good part: when you make a donation to PP in her name, they'll send her a card telling her that the donation has been made in her honor. Here's the link to the Planned Parenthood websites:

http://www.plannedparenthood.org/
Go to: Honorary and Memorial Donations

You'll need to fill in the address to let PP know where to send the 'in Sarah Palin's honor' card. I suggest you use the address for the McCain campaign headquarters, which is:

McCain for President
1235 S. Clark Street 1st Floor
Arlington , VA 22202

Feel free to send this along to all your friends and urge them to do the same.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Mondays Full Moon

(I have made four attempts at writing a post about the Full Moon this past Monday. I've tossed each one in the trash in total disgust. So, here are the bare bones, short hand, notes)

There was a full moon in Pisces this past Monday morning (5:13 am, here on the East Coast). It was the first of the harvest moons and ushered in the start of the season of the new year. This may sound a bit counter-intuitive, harvest and new year, but I come out of several traditions that start the day at sundown, so why not start the year at harvest? Next Monday is the Autumnal Equinox, and the Monday following that is the New Moon. Two weeks after that will be the second Harvest Moon and the culmination (for me, at least) of the start of the year. (Of course, I will also celebrate the start of the calendar year on January 1, and the start of the solar year, when the sun enters Aries-I like to celebrate)

This first harvest moon is one of my favorites. School has started, which means that I can go into the circle before the middle of the night, and know that the neighborhood will be quiet. It is cool enough to discourage the insects, while still allowing me to go barefoot, without courting frostbite. I can feel the somnambulism of the summer ending, and with the cool evenings and mornings, I really do feel as if I am waking up from a long nap. Between this moon and the equinox, I can feel my enthusiasm and energy growing for the projects to come. But I will wait, and let the energy grow.

(Somehow, I've written nothing about this specific full moon ritual. I'm just having a very hard time getting it into words. Perhaps, I will try again, another day.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My reputation, restored

Earlier this week, my younger daughter could not figure out how to do her math homework. Alas, my reputation as the all knowing parent was destroyed when I had to admit that not only did I not have a clue, but I never even took pre-calc in high school (I was a victim of the open classroom movement of the 1970's). And, the fact that DH could not do the math problem, either, was no salve to my ego. Eventually, and with the assistance of a third party, DH did figure out the problem. (note to the mathmatically inclined: do not try to explain a math problem to a non mathmatically inclined spouse at 2:15 in the morning, the explanation will not stick).

Tonight, my daughter needed help with her music theory homework. Hooray! This I was able to do. Whew, and again, I say whew.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I passed the test, now what was the question?

Last night, I had a dream with snakes in it. In and of itself, this may not be remarkable, except that it was not a nightmare. Starting at the very tail end of 2006, going all the way through 2007 (that wonderful year) and into the beginning of 2008, I was regularly having nightmares in which I was being threatened by snakes. Not colorful diamondbacks, or sinuous cobras, the snakes of my nightmares were thick in body, dull black in color, silent and scary. They would appear out of nowhere, from under doors, through restaurant walls, from swamps that would suddenly appear in my yard, always going after me, and getting between me and whatever symbolized safety in the dream.

Whatever the message was, whatever the test or assignment was, I clearly wasn't getting it, because by autumn of 2007, the snakes were joined by alligators (or crocodiles-I never got close enough to see which they were). This went on through the beginning of the New Year. (Every now and then, when someone would complain to me about not remember most of their dreams, my response would be “sometimes that can be a good thing.”) And, then, toward the end of February, I dreamt of climbing through a brushy waste, and about to step on a log, realizing that it was an alligator (or croc). I stepped back, the alligator (or croc) looked at me, and left me alone.

Last night, I dreamt of releasing baskets of snakes in an animal preserve. The snakes flowed over the edges of the baskets, gracefully. They were beautifully colored and patterned. Their tongues tasted the air. Each snake looked at me, and then slithered off. I felt satisfaction for a job well done. It was only when I woke up that I realized that this was my first snake dream since January, and I didn't wake up trying to scream or cry out.

But it still leaves me with the question: what job was it that I had done? I realize the PTB (Powers That Be, to those of you who never watched any of the shows in the Whedonverse) have no requirement to make things easy for me. But if I've learned an important lesson, or passed a test, I would dearly like to know what it was. I know there will be others, I would love it, if the I didn't need that kind of “encouragement” next time.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Well, that was fun.

I got one of those political poll phone calls tonight. This one was from Marist College (isn't caller id grand?) All standard questions; Will I definitely vote in November? What if the election were to be held tomorrow? Which candidate do I support? Is my support strong or weak? Etc, etc, etc. And, then, the catagorizing questions. Age range, household income range, county within the state of New Jersey.
And finally, do you consider yourself Christian, Jewish or Muslim?
My response was "do you have an 'other' catagory?"
The pollster said that there was one.
"Fine," I said, "Other." (damn, this is New Jersey. How come Hindu wasn't up there with the big three?)
"What is your religion? I have to put something down."
"So it can't be just 'other?' OK, put me down as Judeo-Pagan."

Looooooooooong silence.
I get my fun where I can grab it, and something tells me that fun is going to be in very short supply this campaign season.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Another Old Joke

(I know, I know, stop me if you've heard this one...)

A Priest, a Pastor and a Rabbi are discussing "when does life begin?"
The Priest says, "Life begins at conception."
The Pastor says "Life begins when 'quickening' is felt within the womb."
The Rabbi says, "No, you are both wrong. Life begins when the youngest child leaves for college and the dog dies."

Well, the dog has been gone for a couple of years, but the youngest child isn't leaving for college yet. On the other hand, she did start school today (high school junior-how did that happen?), so I do feel that some of my own life and my own time is being returned to me.

So, now, back to my own projects.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Update on the circle

The circle, as it looked last week, when DH risked his neck and the gutters on the roof to get a good picture.

And, the circle, when it was first planted, 2 years ago. The angles of the photos are different, so its hard to tell, but the trees were all about 18 to 24 inches tall when we planted them, now the trees are all about 6 feet tall and beginning to fill in at the sides. In another couple of years, we will have to think about replacing the grass with a different ground cover. But there will be a lovely semblance of privacy.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

For those folks who are badly affected by Merc Rx's

Tomorrow, Mercury will be the same position as it will be, when it reaches its most "backward" point in the coming retrograde. You may want to take notes.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Circle in August


DH climbed up on the roof to get new pictures of the circle. This is not one of them. (yes, love, I will post those, too) This is a picture of my namesake (or maybe I am hers/his) entering the circle.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Show Ponies?

I splurged and had a pedicure today. As I was sitting and having the soles of my feet pumiced, I looked down the row of pedicure stations. There we were, all place or show medalists in the contest that is American Society (not the winners, mind you, the winners in the American Financial race do not go to store front nail salons. I know, I've played tourist a couple of times at the "so high end, there is no name on the door type salon"), with people bent over our feet, cleaning, buffing, polishing and annointing us. None of our attendants spoke English as a first language, and it was clear, from the way they dressed, spoke and held themselves, that they did not yet see themselves as part of the same society as the rest of us.I had a couple of moments of discomfort at the idea that I, and my fellow pedicurees (new word?) were exploiting the people working in the salon. After all, how many of us, would like to spend our days hunched over someone elses feet?And then, the massage function in my chair went into rest mode, allowing me to be somewhat more observant and I noticed that the workers, albeit quiet, were chatting amongst themselves. My guess is the languages were Korean and Indian influenced Spanish. Not one of the workers spoke to their clients, instead, they would pick up a foot, manipulate it into the position they needed, put the foot down. Occasionally, they would tap a foot to get the attention of the person attached to it, and then tap the foot rest, or point at the water, so the person would know where to put their foot.And then, another thought occurred. They weren't treating us as completely human! The way that we were being treated, and the camaraderie shown between the workers reminded me of horse shows and dog shows. They were the groomers, and we were the dumb animals. Pampered and special, perhaps, but still less than the full humanity that they held for themselves. A strange and humbling moment. None the less, in a life where I spend so much of my time taking care of others, both family members and clients, I am more than happy to be treated as a show pony every once and a while. I just need to remember to express gratitude to my groomers!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Temperance, Alchemy, Science…

Looking for something to add to my daily work while I figure out this betwixt and between period, I've started doing the Tarot Contemplation exercise from the DM Kraig book “Modern Magic.” (Someone, somewhere described John Michael Greers teaching style as too intellectually rigorous, but it seemed to fit me just right). The tarot exercise uses only the major arcana, and not even all of them, when you start, you pull out and put aside some of the cards. So, the likelihood of repeating a card in quick succession is high. As a result, I was not surprised when I pulled Key XIV, Temperance, two nights in a row. When it showed up on the third consecutive night I said “OK, there is a message or a lesson here for me.” But, because the purpose of the exercise is to learn the cards, on night four, I pulled that card out of the deck and put it aside before starting the work. And, when I got to that part of the evening, I shuffled the remaining cards and pulled one out to study, and got---Key XIV, Temperance, because, yes, I am using a deck that has more than one version of the card in it. I think that I know where I will be focusing my studies for a little while…

(I know that usually the title Temperance is connected to the idea of cutting wine with water, but looking at the title of this post, something else occurred to me. Might it be the act of tempering? As in tempering steel by subjecting it to controlled heating and cooling? The strengthening of “something” by repeated controlled exposure to fire and water. This would certainly tie in with the other names for the card. Am I to do the tempering? Or am I the “something/one” being tempered? Or both?)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Good Day

A blue ribbon for the almond cake, and the nice UPS man just brought me two books-
"Magic, Power, Language, Symbol: A Magicians Exploration of Linguistics" by Patrick Dunn, and
"Paths of Wisdom" by John Michael Greer. Of course, DH took Patricks book with an "Oh Cool!" so its just as well that I have plenty of reading material.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

And then, the rains came

(Todays harvest from the garden, I don't remember the variety of cucumber, the tomatoes are Amish Paste. This time last week, nothing was close to ready to pick, and then, it rained...)



Mostly home and hearth magic lately.

Yesterday I spent a few hours filling gelatin capsules with ground tumeric-I try to do as many as I can at one time, since the tumeric dyes my fingers a shade of marigold yellow, and stains my nail polish. It is exceedingly grounding work, and I always feel so stable and "here" when I've finished. I tried to look up any other associations it might have in the "Encyclopedia of Natural Magic," but the not-quite-17 year old has made off with the book and shows no signs of being willing to give it back any time soon.


Today is baking. Tomorrow morning, DH and I will pack up 2 cakes and 8 cinnamon rolls and take them off to the County Fair. Yes, this hearthwitch actually lives in a place that still has such things. I've lost track of how many years I've entered the baking competition at the fair. Some years, I come home with blue ribbons, some years, not. I do best with bread, rather than sweet things, the problem being that the judges discontinue catagories when someone wins it more than 2 years in a row. So this year, the bread catagories are not very interesting. So I will try sweet items. I've one cake entered in the "anything but chocolate cake" catagory, and one in the "made with a commercial mix as an ingredient" catagory. I don't have a lot of hope for the second one, as I only have cheaply made bundt pans and the pans do not conduct heat evenly. Oh well, good tools, good results. Not so good tools...
So,I baked 2 bundt style coffee cakes with chocolate bits and walnuts, 2 amazing almond cakes, and everything for the cinnamon rolls except the actual baking. The rolls will rise slowly in the refrigerator overnight, and I will bake them at the crack of dawn tomorrow, that way they will be fresh for the judges (winner of that catagory gets a huge purple rosette ribbon, and I don't have one of those!). All of this done in addition to the usual daily stuff. Tomorrow, while the rolls are baking I will choose which of the cakes to decorate and enter. Then, fortified with much coffee, the baked goods gently wrapped to keep the dust off (and believe me, you do not want the dust from an agricultural fair on anything you are going to eat!), we will hand the entries over to be judged.
Now, I am going to bed!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

It just goes to show; you never know what it is that will be appreciated

I have a long-term client (for those coming late to the story, among my varied careers, I am a personal fitness trainer) whom I have been working with for nearly 7 years. When he came to me, he was fresh out of cardiac rehab and morbidly obese (I am using the phrase in the medical sense, not the esthetic sense). When we sat down to discuss his goals, and what he wanted from working with me, he stated that he wanted to avoid another heart attack and live long enough to see grandchildren. Oh yeah, if he could get to the point where he could reach to tie his own shoes, he would like that very much.

We’ve worked on cardiovascular training and endurance. We work on muscle strength. Balance, flexibility, and coordination work are all part of our routines.

Over the years (and it was a very slow start), we have gotten him from morbidly obese, to grossly obese to “merely” obese. He has 5 grandchildren that he delights in spoiling. The dosages for his cholesterol medications and his blood pressure medications and his heart medications have been cut. His memory is better. He passed his last 2 stress tests with flying colors. He no longer needs his sleep apnea mask and is no longer dependant on sleeping aids to sleep at night. Whereas, when he first came to me (or at least before the heart attack that drove him to consider a personal trainer), he was playing golf once a week, and had to avoid taking practice swings because he would exhaust himself otherwise, he now plays golf 3 or 4 times a week and every year for the last 5, he has broken his own records for drive lengths.

So what is he most outwardly pleased with? That he can now reach behind his back and grab one wrist with the other hand. He showed me this yesterday with great excitement (although I knew that he had been capable of this for a little while), and said “Look, Look! Now, if I get arrested, I can be handcuffed, without my shoulder muscles tearing!”

Friday, August 1, 2008

High Summer

The sky is blue and my vegetable gardens are lush jungles (no Martha Stewart gardener, I, my tomatoes get planted so close together that no weeding is necessary-the vines shade out the soil.). The blackberry brambles are full of fruit. This year, we have had a family of catbirds and a flock of sparrows take up residence in the yard, along with the usual cardinals, blue jays and robins. The rabbit is back (and yes, it is a fiercebunny!) Everywhere you look, there are signs of life. And yet…the air is still, heavy, hot. Away from the community beach, it is very quiet. This time of year doesn't feel like “life” to me, it feels like…stasis. It feels like winter, if winter were hot, instead of cold.

This could have something to do with my Jewish upbringing, when the Autumnal Equinox heralded the coming new year. Or, it could be that being the child of parents who pursued their higher education goals, even as I was starting school, September seemed full of new books, new clothes and excitement. Or, maybe it has to do with my psycho/spiritual “cell memory,” hearkening back to the Mid-East, to Mesopotamia, to Canaan, to Egypt, where summer, with its fierce sun and lack of rain was the season of death.
My pensiveness is most likely amplified by a traumatic, but in the end, miraculous event of earlier this week, but that isn't where it originates. This is the time of the conserving of energy, for the activity that will come. It is the Alef, the intake of breath, before B’rasheit, when it all starts again.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Some time ago, I complained that any messages I was receiving in my dreams were too cryptic, and that I would appreciate if they were stated in simple English prose. Well, I haven’t gotten that far, yet, but there is progress. Hebrew, not English, and certainly not prose, but I get a sense that something is being spelled out for me.

Since the beginning of the year, I've been having dreams that take place in high schools. These are not, thankfully, your standard nightmares about not remembering locker combinations or math tests. In each and every one of these dreams, I am an adult, walking through schools that while in use, are complete dystopian wrecks. Since the beginning of July, these dreams have become even more frequent, coming every second or third night.

Late last week, I finally made it into one of the classrooms. There was a huge board on the wall, but not a blackboard-it was an orange board. It was filled with Hebrew letters that kept hopping and moving around. The only letters I could make out were Aleph and Shin. I woke up annoyed that I couldn't read any more of the letters and that they wouldn't stay in place-I was trying to make out and read words.

Two nights ago, I found myself staring at the same board, this time the only letters I could make out (and they kept shifting order) were Ayin, Nun and Yod (DH’s comment was “No Resh?” No, no Resh).

Some thoughts on this. If I add up the values of the letters for each of the nights, and then reduce that to a single digit (yes, yes, I know that is mixing methodologies) the value is the same for both nights 4. Which is Dalet. Dalet is on the 14th path, between Chokmah and Binah, it does not touch the Middle Pillar. The Tarot card for the 14th path is key 3, the Empress.

If I take the Tarot key associated with each letter, and add up the numbers of the Tarot cards for each night, and then reduce that, I get 3, which is the Empress card, Dalet. So I suspect that there is something here that I should be paying attention to (but no simple English prose, yet!)

Another thing noted. In the last month or so, we have had flocks of sparrows around our house-an inordinate amount. The sparrow is one of the birds associated with the Empress Card, along with the Dove and the Peacock.

And one more thing before I go off to bed, hoping for information. All of these letters that have shown up in my dreams are on paths that touch the Middle Pillar of the Tree. But not all of them-Yesod is not represented here. Is that because I am Lavanah? (insert small smile, here)

Good to go away, even better to come home.

My sister and I go away together for a couple of days, every summer. Our routine stays the same: walk, talk, shop, and eat, but not always in that order. Some things have changed over the years, though. We spend much less time talking about children and husbands, although the amount of time spent talking about in-laws hasn't changed (we are human, after all). The clothing we buy has gone from Betsy Johnson to Kenzo to Max Azria (whose clothing I still love-but I have gotten too old to fuss with clothing that requires written instructions on how to put on) to Reiss, Nicole Miller and Rachel Pally.

Our eating and drinking patterns have changed over the years, too. When we first started going away together, sans husbands and children, we drank. A glass of wine at lunch, 3 cocktails and maybe champagne at dinner. This year? Iced tea with our lunches and 1 cocktail each at dinner, which we requested to be made weak, and we still didn't finish. Otherwise, we drank water or tea. In the beginning, we ordered full meals for each of us at lunch and dinner, but would share a bowl of berries with our room service breakfast. This year? We shared the fried calamari appetizer at lunch (but ate our own lobster salads). We each had our own bowls of berries with our toast and coffee at breakfast.

What did we talk about? Art, fashion, politics, religion, the economy, blogging, travel and society, in general. I find it highly encouraging that the longer she and I go away together, the more we find to talk about the isn't tightly wound about our homes. She and I are interesting people-at least to each other.

I love going away with my sister. But as much as I enjoy it, I love coming home to my life, again.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Strange Visitor

I’ve had the ability to see auras for several years. The ability, or the vision is not there consistently, but it has been there. Lately, though, the ability is more frequent, and more informative. Not only (when it happens) can I see the auras of living and “non” living things, I can see the way that the auras interact. Sometimes, they seem to just pass through each other. Other times they create “waves.” When that happens, I am reminded of the wave tanks from high school physics, or what happens when you drop two pebbles into a pool so that they fall close to each other. The waves intersect, some bounce off of each other and some “go through” each other. And, I have to admit, when I have the privilege of seeing such things, I am entertained, and I can find myself playing with my hands and watching the effects.

A couple of nights ago, DH and I had a conversation that touched on a tender subject for me (tender as in bruise, not tender as in romantic). This kind of thing can happen when you live (or work) with someone closely for nearly three decades; the conversation was really of no importance, but for what happened afterwards, or may, have no bearing at all on what happened afterwards.

After doing the Middle Pillar exercise, I noted that I was seeing auras in several clear and colorful layers. When cupping my hands, I got a remarkable swirling of light. And then, something strange. The light turned red. Sometimes it was a fiery red, sometimes closer to a blood red. And it got very, very hot. I also got the sense that whatever “it” was, it wanted me to open my hands and let it out. I said “I don’t know what you are, I am not letting you out until I know what you are.” (that could have been foolish, in retrospect, since the phrase implied that all I needed was to know what it was to let it loose, even if it were something that I would then know shouldn’t be let loose). The sense of agitation in my hands grew stronger, as did the sense that my hands were burning. The red light also was quite bright. I repeated, “I don’t know what you are, tell me what you are.” But I got no reply. The “thing” grew little arms and hands (at least four of them) and tried to pry my fingers open. Again, I said, “No, I don’t know what you are” and didn’t let it out. By this point, my hands were hurting and I was getting tired. But I guess whatever “it” was, was also getting tired (or bored, or something). I just sat there, grimly fascinated, and determined to not let “it” loose. Eventually, it started to fade, in color (paler and paler reds and then pinks) and energy (less visual definition, swirling, and heat). Then, it was gone and my hands were empty. I felt completely drained.

So, the question is: what was it? And, did I do the right thing by not setting it loose? It felt, and feels, like that was the right thing to do, but this was a first experience of this type for me.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Just to clear up any misconceptions...

When I said that I wasn't ready to work with emeralds, I was referring to the creation of ritual tools. If anyone wants to drape me in emerald jewelry, I would be happy to comply.

Believe it or not


This is a menu from a real restaurant. Just in case you were hungry for some FooKing chinese food.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

And, the other post I had intended to make (Pre-Revenge of the Weeded)

I finished the curriculum in “Learning Ritual Magic” in June. By the end, it was nearly full time work. DH, in fact, commented that he didn't have that kind of time, day after day, to dedicate to such a program. I agreed, and thanked him prettily (I hope!) for the opportunity. At the same time, I knew that it wasn't the kind of effort that I could keep up for long-it was only the fact that I knew there was an end point that allowed me to do it.

At the beginning of this month, just after the New Moon, I performed the Self-Initiation ritual from the appendix of the book. (I had help with the astrological timing of the ritual from some one who choked at the idea of “self” initiation-but that is what JM Greer calls it, and I was working with his text. However, self initiation or self dedication, the help with the timing was greatly appreciated.)

I think that it’s fair to say that I was completely blown away by the intensity of the ritual. Surprised. Floored. Shocked. Amazed. There was some serious Presence in my presence (or maybe it was the other way around?) Hours later, when DH came home, I still wasn't fully grounded-that didn't happen until the next day, with the full-blown poison ivy symptoms.

Since then, I've suffered from (in addition to the poison ivy, and the side effects from the medications) a sense of let down, loss and “now what?” Probably a perfectly normal set of reactions. After the Full Moon, I will start the work of figuring out the”now what” and the “what next.”

I am also going to get started on that pile of books, waiting to be read. RO was highly amused by my describing the pile as being as tall as I am. (being somewhat vertically challenged, it is possible to stack the books up to my height, they totter, but the tower holds.) Well, that was old news, Brother Red, there is a second pile now.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My Gal asked why Peridot?


I guess the first and most obvious answer would be, because I couldn’t afford 49 emerald cabachons. I know, I priced them. Even the lab created (but still true) emeralds were far out of my price range.

But the stones also have different “feels” to me. To me, the emerald is the Empress Card. The stone is lush, ripe, here and now, in your face. The emerald is a perfectly ripe peach, on a late summer afternoon. It is a perfectly aged Bordeaux on a mid-winter evening. It is the perfume Opium (as it was originally formulated-not the “lite” version). It is a fur coat, turned inside out so the fur is against the skin, on a cold day. Emerald is almost, but not quite, too much.

Peridot is all that in promise, but not yet. It is one of the Princess or Page cards (of Wands?). It is one of the brightly flavored spring fruits, early strawberries or perhaps the rhubarb that grows so well for me. Plenty of sweetness there, but tart, too, to make your mouth water for more. It is a glass of champagne, and the feel of a breeze, that brings the smell of far off flowers. It is silk chiffon, not silk charmeus. Peridot is the promise that is delivered with the emerald. It is late spring, as opposed to late summer, waxing, rather than full, moon.

One of these days, I will work with emeralds. I (and the budget!) just haven’t gotten there, yet.

Monday, July 14, 2008

And, the post I intended to make (sort of)


This is my new wand. It is made from a piece of rose that was harvested last year. Since then, it has sat on my altar, while I waited to know what to do with it. I began to get a good idea toward the end of the year, but didn’t actually start working on it until this spring. I stripped the bark off the wood, sanded it and then laquered it. There are seven rows of seven stones, starting tightly clustered near the tip and spreading out as they descend toward the middle of the wand. The stones are peridot and it was quite a process getting 49 perfectly matched stones. Of course, when I ordered them, I didn’t specify that they be perfectly matched-that was the decision of the gem dealer. The copper wire divides the wand in two. First, it wraps around the wand three times, and then spirals, with three full rotations for each spiral. I still need to laquer the copper so it stays bright.

I’ve never worked with gemstones before, and their size (3mm) was a real challenge. Even using fine pointed tweezers, it was hard to hold onto them. In fact, the day I started work with them, I lost one. I had been holding it with tweezers and the tweezers snapped shut. The stone flew in the air. My daughter and I both looked up and said “uh oh.” But neither of us saw where it landed. For that matter, neither of us heard it land. We both searched for it, we crawled on the floor; we took rags and swept everything before us. No peridot. When DH came home, I told him the story. His first comment? “Did you look in your hair?” Well, no, I hadn’t, but by that point, I had pulled my hair up, put it down, ponytailed it and took it down again. If it had landed in my hair, I figured it was gone. Well, you can guess how this story ends; the next morning, when I was combing my hair, I found it. Somehow, through all the messing with my hair, with sleeping, the stone stayed put until I was able to retrieve it. I was very pleased to tell DH that he had been right.
I started using this wand with this months New Moon. It feels very different from my ebony wood wand, but since I intend to use them very differently, thats fine.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Not the post I intended to make but…

I wasn’t kidding when I mentioned in a discussion group that I found the LBRP to be helpful with the itching from the poison ivy. It didn’t help for all that long, but any relief was a wonderful thing. Usually I could count on being “itch-free” from the time I concentrated and “got into position” to twice as long afterwards, as it took me to do it. That is to say, if it took me 4 minutes to do the LBRP, I would be itch free for about 8 minutes afterwards. The effect was similar with my evening ritual, although the relief from the itching didn’t last quite as long as twice the time of the ritual. This knowledge has become very useful, as I time my medications!

Now, as for why this should work this way, I am not entirely sure. I suspect that it has more to do with the fact that I’ve been working steadily with the LBRP for months now, and it’s the regular use of the ritual that is the effective part, rather than the specifics of the ritual, itself. It’s entirely possible that if I had been using the Sh’ma or a Goddess chant the same way, I would have gotten the same result.

The LBRP was referred to as a “Jewish lullaby” on one of the discussion groups, today. But really, can you come up with a more soothing image? To this jewitch magician, it certainly is more reassuring than “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord, my soul to keep…” That passage always makes me think of Patti Smith “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine…my sins, they only belong to me.”
OK, obviously, the meds are kicking in-time for me to go find the hammock…

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

One Injection

and three prescriptions later, my doctor tells me that I should get some relief from the poison ivy sometime...well, maybe tomorrow. It seems that one of the effects of our changing atmosphere is the increased virulence of urushiol, the part of the plant sap that causes the reaction. Increased CO2 in the air is also causing it to grow faster and larger. :(
Alas, even if you are not one of those "get your hands in the dirt" kind of people, you might still be affected by the increased CO2 Another effect is that ragweed is creating more pollen, so airborne allergens are getting worse as well. (just in case you thought the reports that claim every year is the "worst yet" for allergies was hyperbole) A link to an article about scientists who are studying the effects of CO2 on plant and specifically weed growth:


http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/29/magazine/29weeds-t.html?ex=1372392000&en=98feb63fe74fb547&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink


or:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/29/magazine/29weeds-t.html?pagewanted=1&ref=magazine



At this point, I am not even sure what has been the worst part of all of this, the actual physical reaction (disgusting rash and mad itchiness), or that the physical reaction has caused me to not sleep well, and is so distracting, that concentrating for any period of time is difficult, and reading to retain content impossible, or lets face it, that the rash is intensely ugly and disfiguring. (ahh, vanity!)

Coincidentally, DH and I planted more than 65 trees this spring-what are you doing to help combat the rise in CO2 levels?

Friday, July 4, 2008

Stuff to Report

and pictures to post. But it will have to wait. Between a bad case of poison ivy (DH is outside, spraying BrushBGone even as I type) and a "call back" from the mammogram people, concentration is a bit hard to come by, today.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Because it has been pointed out by DH that I have several times referred to Morgan Drakes blog, but have not added it to my blog roll-I have now added it to my blog roll.

Friday, June 27, 2008

This was something new

Last night, having finished working within the Astral Temple, I just sat, looking around me. No sooner did the thought cross my mind “This is such a large space for one person alone,” I wasn’t. Crossing the space in front of me, walking from the north to the west was a woman. She didn’t talk; she didn’t even look at me. But there was a sense of “see, you aren’t alone.” Not in the paranoid “you are being watched” sense, neither was it a warm a cuddly sensation. It was just a statement of fact. I was so surprised to see anyone else that I didn’t think to ask her who she was, until she left. I have some ideas, but (after the fact, of course) I feel that it should have occurred to me to simply ask.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Update

Just working on getting used to using my voice again (figuratively, not literally) and learning how to speak directly, but gently. I have been busy, and there will be updates, and photos, soon, I hope.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mercury Rx

I never really concerned myself too much with Mercury retrogrades, they happen frequently, and being both Gemini Sun and Rising signs, I figured that I was pretty familiar with chaotic communication. Not to say that I took no precautions at all, bills got mailed in plenty of time to deal with post office snafus, and I always made sure my cell phone battery was fully charged. Otherwise, no big deal. Not at all like the Mars Rx of last Autumn/Winter, which found me checking the ephemera so that I could spend any future Mars Rx’s in bed, with the blankets pulled over my head.

I wasn’t expecting anything different from the Merc Rx this time around. Big mistake. Is it because I’ve become more attuned to such things, or is it (as I suspect) that the retrograde period landed like a boulder on the birthday week of 50% of my household (with me being one of those making up the 50%)? There weren’t many technical problems, although one was particularly painful, the invisible death of a phone (meaning that there was a display, so it didn’t look dead, even though it was), which meant that I didn’t get a message about particularly desired delivery on the day the item was desired. Which meant, of course, no delivery. A typical Merc Rx sort of thing.

No, it wasn’t so much the technical stuff as the crossed messages themselves. Things assumed to be understood that should have been talked out in great detail. Other conversations that were better left unspoken. Much running and driving around (at astronomical gas prices…) because plans were incorrectly laid.

My New Moon intentions, created and stated June 3, did not come to pass, (in fact, I “achieved” the exact opposite) how much of that could be because I didn’t bother taking the Rx into account? Today, Mercury is stationery, at least for those of us on planet Earth. I find myself holding my breath, wondering “how long is it going to take me, to put things right?” And, “is this going to be a three times a year thing, from now on, or only when it lands on my birthday?”

Monday, June 16, 2008

Choosing

One of the more well known bits of medieval Jewish magic is, when faced with a persons untimely impending death, to change that persons name. The idea is to confuse the Angel of Death (and I am not going into the issues of belief and ineffability and destiny), so that the Angel can't find the dying person. It also allows that person a new life, and with the ability to choose a name, to choose one that fits the life the person wishes to live.

I have also seen such an action advocated for much less dire issues than death, when the discussion of numerology comes up.

Other than various crowned heads of Europe, has anyone ever heard of a person choosing a new birthday? (Alright certain founders of religions have been given new birthdays, too.) If you have heard of such a thing, how was it done? Why was it done? Was the goal achieved?

Other than that, just not feeling chatty, these days.

Friday, June 6, 2008

cool photo of latest workspace

I like the effect of the light on the tablecloth.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

musings

(I’ve been thinking about this since my last trip to Florida, and with a recent thread on one of the myriad discussion groups that I am part of, I finally have the impetus to put it in words.)


Some time ago, long enough ago that I was not yet comfortable referring to myself as a woman (as opposed to girl), but was already mother to a child, I had a conversation with my Grandmother. I was complaining about how difficult it was to be the oldest child of “Saint Irene.” (for those of you coming late to the story, my mother died, after a long illness, before her 40th birthday.) My Grandmother retorted “Your mother was no saint!” And then, proceeded to tell me how wonderful was my mother was. Although this was of no help to me at the time (and in fact, made me feel worse), I let my Grandmother talk, after all, my mother was her oldest child, and even in the mood I was in, I knew that little could compare to the pain of watching your child struggle and die, and know all the time that there is nothing you can do for her.

Over the years, at family gatherings, occasionally the subject of my mother would come up. And you will have to forgive me, if I sometimes wondered why the church hadn’t started the beatification process, yet. (the first saints were Jewish, weren’t they?)

Last month, I attended a family funeral. This was for someone on my Father’s side of the family. My mother has been dead for nearly 25 years, my father has remarried. Four people came up to me to tell me how they missed my mother, and the great affect she had had on them, how wonderful she was, how smart, how kind, how beautiful. What I want to know now is:

DID ANYONE TELL HER ANY OF THIS WHEN SHE LIVING?


I am only human, and can only try to learn from the mistakes of others. But I am going to try much harder to let the people with whom I come in contact, that I appreciate them, and why. To any of you who are reading this, Thank you, for sparing some of your time to read my musings. For those of you whom I have more direct contact, I can (and will try to be) more specific.

after the new moon

After a Dark Moon/New Moon working and a night filled with what seemed like more dreams than sleep, I came pretty much simplify how I am feeling today with one word-roadkill.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Addedum to the last entry...

...and the quatrain that is recited, which I have trouble remembering and reciting, flows easily and gracefully, while in the Temple.

Just cool stuff.

More on the Astal Temple Work

My apparel is different. At home, in this plane, my robe is dark grey, full sleeved, and fully enveloping. In the temple, I am wearing white, and it is more akin to a Doric chiton. Now, why should that be?


Lately, the water in the goblet was cold enough that the goblet was sweating on the outside. When I lift the goblet, there is an obvious water ring on the silk altar covering. This bothers my hearthwitchy soul. Next time, I will make sure that the goblet has a saucer-silk can get discolored and stained by water.

I can see more in this kind of working. While the Archangels are not contained within the Temple, I can see them-or at least some parts of them. In "outer" work, the best I can manage is to sense the characteristics of the elements in the four quarters (hot/wet, hot/dry, cold/wet, cold/dry).

Why do I get the sense that Michael is amused by me or by what I am doing?

And, finally, grounding afterwards. When I start my daily ritual, I very often see layers of my aura expand. Lately, it feels as if I am grounding in layers, too. I will feel "ok, grounded and centered," then, "whoa! Ok, now grounded." "Whoops, now, I am." There can be as much as 20 minutes between each one of these landings, and I feel perfectly centered and grounded until the earth drops out from under my feet. And, yes, I am eating afterwards.