Wednesday, April 30, 2008


another death, another funeral, another trip to Florida...
I will be away for a couple of days. And to think, some people go to Florida for sun, sand, the beaches and fun...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Why Spring Should Be Personified As Male

Purple asparagus, in the garden.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Mah Nishtanah Haleila Hazeh...

(yes, I know transliteration is pretty ugly)

Because tonight, after 8 nights of matzoh, matzoh products and the occasional potato, we had pasta for dinner!

Which brings up the one very important question that never gets asked at the seder. Why is it always so much faster and easier to put away the Passover stuff and bring out the everyday stuff, than it is to set up for Passover? old joke.

King Arthur is reviewing his knights. A long row of battle ready men, with their armor agleam. He really is pleased by the sight of the shiny armor, the sharp swords, the colorful shields, the well groomed horses. Then, he comes to the last man in the line. He is slumping, the armor rusty and dented, the shield dirty, the horse uncurried. King Arthur looks at the knight, looks back at the row of well prepared and attractively dressed knights and says...................................

Mah Nishtanah Haleila Hazeh?

ok, so maybe you need to be a 12 year old, seemingly imprisoned in hebrew school on a gorgeous day to find that funny.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The talisman project is back on the front burner

One of the nice things about Passover, is that once it has started, I’m pretty much done cooking for the week. I always make enough food for our home seder so that if we have surprise guests I am prepared. And we did have surprise guests, but not the army that I always prepare for. (only 3 starving college students).

So when a voice silently thundered in my head last night (imagine it, if you’ve never experienced such a thing), that, with the Sun in Taurus, and the Moon waning, it was time to start work, I knew that I would. I want to have it fully constructed by Monday, May 5th, when the Sun, the New Moon and Venus are all in Taurus.

The first difficulty that I ran into (once I had all my supplies-but I’ve been collecting them for months) was in cutting the fabric for the main shape. One side is copper silk charmeuse, the other side green silk velvet. I pinned the fabrics together and pinned the pattern to them (an 8 petal rosette), but charmeuse and velvet stretch and handle very differently-it took 2 tries to actually cut the fabric correctly so that the sides match.

The next difficulty was the star. I couldn't find a 7 pointed star of the right dimensions, so I had to learn to draw one. Yes, I know there is probably some way to do it on the computer, I used a protractor, compass and ruler. Remarkably, that only took 3 tries before I got it right. The original idea was to embroider the star onto the fabric, green silk thread on the copper fabric and copper thread on the green. But I’ve done big embroidery projects with metal thread, and the amount of cleansing and banishing that I would have to do when I was done with the copper metal thread would really put me off schedule. So, instead, I will make stars from the fabric and use the thread to sew the green star to the copper fabric and the copper star to the green. I will save the embroidery for the small space in the center of the stars.

Once the individual sides are assembled and embroidered, I will sew the two sides together, leaving enough room for the rose petals and other things that will be enclosed. Once everything is collected and in, I will sew up the final seam.

I know that the beauty of the talisman is not the main point, but I have high hopes for the appearance of this project, and it seems to me that something like this should be luxurious and attractive. As soon as I finish the fabric cutting stage, I will take some pictures.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Said JM Greer, in the chapter of Learning Ritual Magic titled “The Great Work,” “…and to perfect the self-the goal of the magician’s work, seen from the perspective of the microcosm, the “little universe” that is the self-leads, in an ultimate sense, to the perfection of the universe, as well.” (A lot of quotation marks there).

What this says to me is that the Great Work, and Tikkun Olam have the same goal, it is just the doorways that are different. For the Great Work, one works to elevate and perfect oneself, and, as you do so, you also affect the rest of creation. This happens in (at least) 2 different ways. One, the more dross removed from the personality, the more likely you are to treat others well, thus increasing happiness in the most local of planes. Also, by removing said dross and dregs you lower the level of such stuff in humanity as a whole, thereby helping to elevate all.

The looked for results of Tikkun are the same-but the method is the reverse. One reaches out, and works to help and improve the macrocosm. Each act to improve the world outside of ones personal sphere improves the self. And the more you do to improve the world for others, the more elevated and purer your spirit becomes. Intent is important, of course. Great works of charity may help the recipients, but if the only reason for doing such works of charity is for publicity purposes and bragging rights (and tax deductions), you may not get much more than that from it. That is why Jewish households have “tzedakah” (justice) boxes and not charity boxes.

Two doorways, but I can see how they both open to the same path.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Catching Up

The Bar Mitzvah was this past Saturday, and a good time was had by all, but I have to say, this getting old business is really crappy! It took me 2 whole days to recuperate. And I wasn't even drinking (much). I just don't remember my quads aching for 48 hours after a night of dancing. Oh well, it was worth it, and then some, just to have family to dance with. And, while it seems that almost none of the men in the family dance, all the women (with the exception of the 16 year old) do.

DH did really well with the hebrew in the aliya. In fact, he did better than the paternal grandfather of the Bar Mitzvah boy.

Taxes are done, and out. Financial aid info package is being assembled. Mirror spell done.

The house is very nearly devoid of food. I never really figure out how to deal with the week before Passover. On the one hand, all the non Passover food has to be out of the house by early Saturday. On the other hand, I hate the idea of throwing anything away. So we have been eating some very strange meals as the cabinets empty.

Studying is continuing. And, it is really very nice to have DFM come over once a week to talk to about the Greer curriculum.

The pea plants have sprouted. The rhubarb is coming up, too. I think that later this week, I will plant the spinach and the lettuce.

And the cube and the rabbit in the oval of stars? I am still working on it, but I think that there may also be some relationship to The World tarot card. As I said, I am still working on it.

Friday, April 11, 2008

todays research project...

the manufacture of bitumen in the pre-industrial world...

I hope to get back to what I am finding out about my gold cube and rabbit in stars soon...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

researching reed boats...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

What I Saw

(leaving the girlie subject matter for a bit..)

Last night, I went somewhere and saw things, in meditation, something that hadn't happened in a little while. Now, of course, I have to figure out what it means.

First. A huge cube, far away, in dark space, a sense of forever-ness in that space. Even before I fully registered what I was looking at, my reaction was "oh, how beautiful!" The cube was gold, and from the perspective that I was looking from, it was balanced on a point, rather than on a face or edge. The cube was slowly rotating on its point (in the vision, the word graceful came to mind). Around the "waist" of the cube, that is, the edges, was a diaphanous veil, floating around it, also gold. If the cube was a dancer, the veil was the dancers scarf. It stayed in place around the rotating cube, sort of undulating.

One thing comes to mind, immediately. I've just started a chapter in my textbook that deals with the Sephirah Tifaret, so "gold," "beautiful," and "graceful" all make sense. But, why a cube? And why does it have a scarf? Or move on its point?

Second, and later on I saw also on this same dark space an oval field of stars. Only now, I wish that I had counted how many stars made up the oval, I think it might have been significant, but I didn't. In the center of the oval was a rabbit. A dark colored rabbit, with very brightly shining dark eyes. It was sitting up at attention, ears erect, staring at me with interest. The space around it and the stars was so dark, that even though the rabbit was darkly colored, it showed up clearly.

Obviously, rabbits have a personal significance for me. But I wonder if this rabbit has further meaning. I wonder if there is some sort of "encyclopedia of hermetic symbolism?" I shall have to find out.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Decision is in.

The green silk dress goes back, and the gold and patent leather one goes on my back...or some parts of my anatomy in any case-it's a small dress. The next issues? Shoes and hair. And, oh yes, printing out the hebrew that DH is going to need to practice...just in case.

Friday, April 4, 2008

And Now, For Something Completely Different

(sorry, YA, I couldn't stay off the Monty Python forever)

I have a very big decision to make this week. Momentous, even. (at least for me).

Do I wear the gold lace and black patent leather Dolce and Gabbana corset dress, or the emerald green, silk Alice and Olivia greek goddess dress to my nephews Bar Mitzvah?

On the one hand, I already have shoes to wear with the D & G dress. But maybe that's a good reason to go with the green greek goddess dress?

I saw the perfect dress sandals in Saks, they would have gone with either dress, in fact. Tall skinny heel, and the sole of the shoe held to the foot by a gold snake (with red or green eyes, your choice) wrapping around the instep and up around the ankle. Alas, the shoes cost more than both dresses, put together.

Tough decision, but someone has to make it.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Point, line, triangle

It appears that I now have an additional study partner, whom I will henceforth refer to as: DFM (as in daughter's friend's mother). I had casually mentioned to her that I was starting a ritual magic curriculum. She asked a few questions, and I left it at that. About 3 weeks ago, she contacted me to say that she had read the first chapter in the JM Greer book and was completely overwhelmed. As I was feeling a bit lonely in my studying, I invited her over. I cleared off the kitchen table (a feat of magic, all by itself!) and made a pot of tea. We spread out books and notebooks, diagrams, pens and pencils, and had a comfy, chatty time on a rainy cold day.

I may be painting with far too broad a brush, but it is interesting to me to see how people of differing (but still American) backgrounds approach study. Study Partner #1 and I are both Jewish (...Judeo-pagan...Jewitch...), DFM is Catholic in background. SP1 and I stocked up on notebooks and loose paper (and, in my case, a huge package of index cards). DFM bought a hardbound beautiful BOS. Is this because we have been raised to appreciate the process of learning, as opposed to knowing?

The problem for DFM was...she was afraid to make mistakes in her beautiful book. Which was a problem because for the first several weeks, you are trying to make diagrams of the Tree of Life, and it takes many attempts before you get it right. It didn't occur to her that the repeated attempts, the process itself, was the point. Likewise, she didn't "get" the first tarot assignment, which was to go through and look at each card in the deck. She said that she didn't "get anything" from it, as in getting a message or a reading. She didn't realize that the idea was to just look at the cards, really, look at the cards. She didn't fail at it, she was expecting far more than was being asked of her.

So, even though I cannot teach ritual magic, I appear to be a competent teacher of learning. I showed her my spiral bound notebook (complete with mistakes and crossouts), with its pockets filled with computer paper with my TOLs. I showed her how the drawings were all dated, so I could see my progress, and how I noted the radii of each circle, so I could repeat the drawing, or know how much to change the measurements the next time. I showed her my post-it note book marks, so I could find things quickly in the various texts. I showed her my piles of index cards-some with quotes that have become my very own cliff notes version of the secondary reading (Israel Regardie's Tree Of Life). I did point out that I splurged on some things. My notebook may have come from an office supply warehouse, but my ruler and compasses were draughtsman's tools, so I could be assured that my measurements and proportions were correct. Good tools may not guarantee good work, but it makes it much more likely. And, a good tool is much easier to use.

Earlier this week, she emailed me, very excited. Once relieved of the fear of making mistakes, she found the drawing assignment very satisfying, and she had come very close to getting it right. Tomorrow, we will get together again. I am looking forward to it.