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


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


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.