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...
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 thatis 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...
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.
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!
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 SecondMillennium 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.
(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."
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.
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. :-)
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.
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)
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!
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