Saturday, December 26, 2009

dreams

3 dreams clearly remembered, but I do not remember the order in which I experienced them.

With a huge rake, reminiscent of a 19th century pastoral painting, I am raking up a harvest of green beans? squash? (the imagery isn't clear) from the side of my garden. As I rake, I see mice, tiny and curled up and sleeping under and among the vegetables. It doesn't appear that they have done the vegetables any harm and as I rake, they wake up and run off.

Leaving a school building where I had no business being a student, apparently it being a (very media image, castle like) school of magic. As I walk away from the building, I am knifed, from throat to stomach by one of the students, and while seriously weakened, I do not die. He, who attacked me, though, takes poison and collapses, dying in my lap. This person was someone whom I had attended junior high school and high school with.

A dream of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Rachel, most likely inspired by R. Crumbs "Illustrated Book of Genesis," which I received as a gift yesterday. In the dream, I am both Rachel and an omniscient viewer. Sarah and Rachel are urging Abraham and Isaac away from something/someplace, but Abraham and Isaac are reluctant. The women are also concerned because Abraham is senile and physically weak. None the less, the women cannot leave him behind. He is concerned with walls, and when encouraged by Rachel that there will be safe walls where they are going, he stops to play with rocks in the roadway.

Friday, December 25, 2009

addendum

It appears that the "obnoxious, but not flu" virus is, infact the H1N1 flu virus. Happy, happy.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

So what do I do about Christmas?

Note: This post is entirely my venting and working out some issues. If you have a low tolerance for TMI, feel free to not read it.



Chanukah (todays spelling) is over less than a week. I sat with the Fire and the Dark on the Solstice just 2 nights ago. My older daughter took her final final for the semester today. My younger daughter is just getting over some really obnoxious, but not flu, virus. DH seems to have now come down with said obnoxious not-flu and stayed home from work, to drink tea and rest. So what did I do today?



I wrapped and labeled presents (and fretted over the ones that have not yet arrived). I wrote out the menu for the Christmas dinner for Friday, with the steps needed for each dish, so I would know what order and how far from eating time each step should be started. I cleaned. I did some of the cooking. I braved the supermarket and the liqueur store. I figured out the baking schedule. What we will eat the morning of, and what we will eat the night before (the night before will most likely be pizza).



Why? The holiday means nothing to me. I am hereditarily and culturally Jewish. So, how did this come to pass?



Because I wanted to see my husband smile.



When you are young and not really settled, the holidays belong to the parents. Because my family is Jewish and DH's is various flavors of Christian, dividing the holidays between the families was never a problem (well, Thanksgiving was an issue, but we worked it out). Christmas and Easter with his mother, Passover and Chanukah with my father. We just needed to show up (hmm, it was always more complicated than that, this is the approved sepia toned memory...). Then DH, new at a job, had to work both the day of Christmas Eve and Christmas day, leaving no opportunity for us to make the 2 hour drive to his mothers house. He was upset. His mother, trying to console him and make him feel better (I will believe that, I will believe that), didn't exactly choose the best phrases and managed to make DH feel even worse.



I decided that I would make Christmas for him. I ordered a tree. Yes, you read that correctly. Knowing absolutely nothing about any of this, I called the local florist and ordered a Christmas tree to be delivered. With a stand. Up three flights of turning staircases in an old Victorian house. I should have tipped that kid enough to pay for his college education. I ran out to the local drugstore and bought whatever ornaments they had on clearance (by this point, it was late afternoon on Christmas eve). And I threaded and hung the ornaments with sewing thread. I put my present for him under the tree, and I waited for him to come home from work.



When he finally did come home and saw the tree, he was struck speechless (those of you who know DH can understand how surprised he was, for those of you who don't know him, take my word on it, being struck speechless probably happens to him once a century or so). It really made him happy. So the whole project made me happy, too. And while DH was at work on Christmas day, my father and I created an English Victorian feast, by using the book "A Christmas Carol" as our template. When DH got home, we ate and drank and celebrated (he and I, my father and his current girlfriend) for hours. It was truly an amazing meal and an amazing evening.



I didn't realize that a one time event would become tradition.



I am no longer responsible for getting the tree (Thank the Gods!). But somehow, over the years the responsibility for gifts has become mine. The gifts for his mother and brother and brother's family. The gifts from his mother to him, our daughters, and to me. Gifts to our daughters from us. From me, to him. I did manage to draw the line at buying myself a gift from DH. The cooking, the baking, the planning is mine to do.



I am very tempted not to. (except that it is too late to not do it, this year.)



What stops me? Two things; once, when the girls were little around ages 2 and 5, I decided that having a garden was just more than I could handle that year. So for the first time since we bought the house, I didn't buy garden seeds or seedlings and I didn't garden. I didn't notice any free time. I did feel a hole in my life for more than a season, though. I didn't miss doing the work (for those of you without children, having a 2 year old and a 5 year old is more work than 1 person should handle anyway), I missed having the garden. I missed it enough that I welcomed the work the next year, and every year since. Will I miss the "event" of our household holiday, even as I don't miss the work that it entails? (even if, as with gardens all the work in the world can't guarantee success and happiness?)



The second thing that stops me is the memory of my husband, speechless with surprise and pleasure.



The presents are ordered, mostly here (still waiting for one item that I didn't realize needed to come from India) wrapped and labeled. The food and drink purchased and somewhat prepped. Dining room returned to its designated use from sewing/craft room. I am exhausted and cranky.

I can't expect surprise, but pleasure and happiness would be appreciated (and so would appreciation).

Monday, December 21, 2009

Blessed Solstice and Return of the Light


What is the Solstice? Astronomically (and in this case, also astrologically), it is the moment when the sun enters the constellation and sign of Capricorn, the furthest south on its journey. (yes, yes, I know, the sun doesn't move, it is a question of appearing to move. Excuse me, while I put the earth and its inhabitants in the center of creation for a moment). The solstice marks the shortest day (in the northern hemisphere), and therefor, the longest night. This year, for the East Coast of the United States, the moment of Solstice was at 12:48 pm. Pretty much right in the middle of the day. As a result, the nights on either side were of the same length; 14 hour and 47 minutes from sunset to sunrise.


Thinking it through, I decided that it made more sense to celebrate the maximum dark and encourage the return of light and warmth on the second of the two long nights; it is only after the second one that the days will begin their increase. But that also means a Monday night, a weeknight, a work night, and since the Solstice is one of several holidays observed, a busy time indeed. I am a firm believer in observing the astronomically based holidays at the right time, not when it is convenient, so Monday night it is.


I came home from a morning appointment with a client and swept out the fireplace and hearth. Laid in the logs for a good fire, and set matches and "help" near at hand. At the center of the grate, I place the charcoal that had been left from last years Solstice fire. I filled the wood box on the porch. Then I spent the next hour or so getting other responsibilities and chores out of the way, so when night falls, I won't be busy and distracted.


At the moment of the Solstice (Verizon time), I lit the fire. It has been blazing merrily for more than three hours, and the sun has begun to set. I will have time to go out to the woodpile once more before it gets dark, but there is plenty of wood stacked on the porch. Sitting by the fire with the long dark outside, I will contemplate, think upon and remember all those who came before me. All those who set fires and lit candles and created beacons in the dark and cold, so that light and warmth could be found.


Love, and blessings to all of you. If you are without light and warmth, may my fire be as a beacon. And for those of you who have found your light, and source of warmth, may my fire help feed yours.


See you all on the light side!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I'm glad I am not a redwood




The Wheel is turning constantly, but for the most part, we humans only notice the big moments. Tonight, I celebrated (for lack of any other term) the last New Moon before the winter Solstice. Going out into the Circle was not negotiable, but my apparel was! According to the local weather report, it was 24 degrees out, but with wind and lack of humidity, it felt more as if it were 14 degrees out. So never mind the ritual robe, even with the ritual long underwear. Tonight, it was polar fleece and down filled coat and boots. Even taking into consideration my casual attire, there are advantages to outdoor ritual on a sub-freezing dark winter night. No neighbors came to stand in doorways or on porches to see what I was up to, or to add light to my starry darkness.


It was intended to be a short ritual. I may take my oaths seriously, but I also take my health into consideration.


I said what needed to be said, did that which needed to be done. The experience and the result was remarkable, a reward (possibly) for not finding an excuse, for not sloughing off. We speak of seeds, sleeping in the earth at this time of year, awaiting the return of the sun and the warmth to sprout and grow. Sometimes we mean actual seeds, sometimes we are speaking metaphorically. Standing in the (wind chill factored in) 14 degrees, listening to and feeling the breeze and watching (and listening to) the stars, I was very cold and very awake-sleep did not seem possible. So it was shown to me.


As I stood there, the ground and the trees grew up and curved over me, until I was within a hollow ball of earth and soil and bits of tree. I was still standing upright, the way one carefully plants a flower bulb, so the correct part faces up, toward the surface of the earth and the sun. But I was within the soil. It was dark, no sky, no stars. And silent, the breeze could not be heard and the earth creatures were all sleeping. I felt supported, even as I was standing by the earth around me, cool but not cold, it must have been below the frost line. And because it was silent and dark and not so cold, I said "Yes, I see now, how this works." Once I said that, the closed space above me peeled open, like a flower bud beginning to bloom. The sky and the stars reappeared; the land flattened out and the trees reoriented themselves. I wasn't to experience the sleep and the awakening and the push and the growth of the seed, I was just being shown that small part that I had questioned.


There was a bit more, which for now I shall keep to myself. But I was very glad for a hot shower and a cup of tea when I came inside.



(about the post title-Redwoods and closed cone conifers need to be exposed to fire before they will germinate)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Winter is here

It snowed today. For some reason, this took me by surprise. With errands to run, I had no choice but to clean off the car and relearn how to drive in the snow. And relearn a few other things. Such as; remember your gloves (not the nice ones, the waterproof ones!) and locate the snowbrush/scraper for the car before you are ready to leave. I wasn't the only one surprised by the snow, it seemed as if the road crews (town, county and state) were surprised, as well. The roads were barely plowed and there had been no spreading of sand. What should have been a series of three 15 minute errands stretched into 3 hours of white knuckle driving, while the sun set and it got dark. I didn't realize how stressed I was by the drive until I showered later on and realized that my legs were quivering from having them tensed the whole time.

And there is a perfect image for me for the year. I've gotten through this year of the reordering of my family and universe. I've mourned my Grandmother and accepted the changing of the familial responsibilities. I've made her belongings a home in my home, and have made them my own, in the process. But, just as the driving today was bad enough, but do-able, but then made worse by nightfall, new, small and possibly expected events kept testing my abilities.

After 27 years of holding on to my mothers jewelry (he kept it all in her jewelry box, in a drawer in his dresser), this Thanksgiving, my father decided it was time for me and my sister to have it. Shall we say that is created a new psychological and emotional workload? The week after Thanksgiving, my mother in law came up from Florida for a visit. While I knew that I would do the lions share of entertaining her, DH's work schedule was such that he saw very little of her. And, as a further test of my abilities (patience, empathy, grounding and centering, translating...) we found that my mother in law was without a legal drivers license. So now I can add chauffeur to my list of skills.

All Work (Great or lesser) is personal, whether you are aware of it or not. This year, there was no way to avoid that knowledge.

There is a great deal that I am looking forward to writing about-I've written little to nothing about actual magic is a very long time. But first, I am going to New Orleans for a week. Maybe I will write about that first.

Friday, November 6, 2009

15 degrees scorpio and a family story

Between the fact that it is now the Cross Quarter and I've spent some time remembering my beloved dead, and Jasons blog post: http://strategicsorcery.blogspot.com/2009/11/religion-is-not-about-belief.html I thought I would tell this story-it is one of my favorites.

Some time ago, my Grandmother went to visit her mother. My Grandmother was in her 50's at the time, which meant that my Great Grandmother was in her late 70's or early 80's (My Great-Grandparents stayed in their own house until they were in their mid 90's). My Great-Grandmother was on her hands and knees, in the kitchen, scrubbing the floor.

My Grandmother exclaimed "Ma! What are you doing?"

My Great-Grandmother: "Tomorrow is Yontif, I'm cleaning." (yontif is yiddish for holyday)

My Grandmother: "But, Ma! You don't believe!"

My Great-Grandmother: "What has that got to do with it?"

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Lady of the Beasts


Setting: The Circle. Full Moon, in the November chill, just past the change of the clocks back from daylight savings time.


Cast (earthly): Me and a very strong sense and knowledge of all the small critters around me, in den, burrow and nest.


Action: The Moon rituals are a blend of set ritual words and actions that bracket and set the space for inspired (or improvised) events. While admitting to my very human mindset, I try hard to clear myself of pre-conceived issues or subjects to "work on" before I go out for this ritual. When this works, it is amazing. When it doesn't work, I console myself with the thought that the next ritual is 2 weeks away and I will be able to try again.


(Last night was cold and I bundled myself in many layers. I fear being cold far more than I fear being over warm. But working with candles and incense, I could not wear gloves. Somehow, I was not aware of my hands being cold until the very end, as I was putting the candles out. I suspect that through constant use the tree circle itself has become a powerful gateway between worlds.)


I lit the candles in the quarters, and drew the circle, greeting the spirits that dwell in each quarter as I came to them. Mostly the words are ritualized, but sometimes phrases slip in that I don't expect. I try hard to remember them for later. Incense is lit. I state my existence and my Greeting. On nights such as last night, the sense of being Elsewhere is very strong, even as I can look around and see my trees, hear my neighbors pond and fountain, see the outlines of the houses (and the always on porchlights of the neighbor across the street-at least always on when I am in the circle). This is when I feel that I am at the very spindle of all of creation. This is when, should it happen at all, Inspiration comes.


The words last night were for the small predators, the foxes, the bobcats, the small snakes (yes, I've been dreaming of them again) and small raptors. The large predators (man, bear, coyote, and occasional cougar) have their watchers, and the prey have the numbers. There was power, and strength flowing in the message, flowing through me, but toward what end?


I've no idea how long I stood arms upraised, before sweeping them in full circle, first one way, then the other (a motion that had not been part of any previous ritual), it felt like years, it felt like seconds. But since the stick of incense that had been lit last was just beginning to burn out, it could not have been more than 20 minutes. But with the sweeping motion, the Message was finished, and it was time to return to the "script."


It wasn't until I had returned, stepped through the gates and started putting out the candles that I realized that there was now frost on the grass and just how cold my hands were. The Cross Quarter won't be until this coming weekend, but winter is approaching.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bat Cookies 2


Yes, it is the time of the bat cookies!

(I am really ready for life to slow down, in fact, if my life would slow down to the speed that this computer has been hitting lately, I'd be pretty happy. But then everyone around me would be as frustrated with me as I am with this computer.)

But the traditional bat cookies have been baked. Some will go to school with my daughter. Some will go to the after trick or treating block party. Some might even get eaten here.

Tomorrow, if the Gods are kind, and it actually isn't raining, I will decorate the outside of the house for Halloween. Which pretty much means that I will take the skeleton arms decorations my brother in law bought for me and use them to block off the walk to the front door, so that the trick or treaters will know to come to the kitchen door. Any other decorating will want until sundown on the 31st and will consist of lighting candles.

That's it. Just candles on the porch. Some in glass pillars, and some in the Jack O'Lanterns. In a world of plastic gravestones and blow-up pumpkins and animatronic witches and strings of orange lights, it is amazing just how frightened some children can get of a house with a few candles. But then, as one mother said last year, we are the witch house.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

In and Out of Dreams

I know the Mac Nac Feegles can do it. Can others?

I had a dream last night about my camera. It was trapped in the computer and crying.

Friday, October 16, 2009

You will just have to take my word for it, but I've been busy.

About a year ago, maybe a little longer, my pizza cutter went missing. We had pizza for dinner, and I went to the drawer where I keep my cutting tools, and the pizza wheel wasn't there. Over the next week, I searched for it everywhere, figuring that it had just gotten put away in the wrong place. Finally, I decided that it must have gotten left in a pizza delivery box and had gotten thrown away by accident. I never got around to buying another pizza cutter.



Three weeks ago was the start of the season for the variety of apples that I like best for making pies (Greenings, for those who are curious). I went to our local apple farm (the one that grows the heirloom varieties) and brought home a 1/2 bushel of fruit to make into pies. Getting ready to bake, I reached into the drawer where I keep my cutting tools for my "approved by the Amish" apple peeler/corer device. Which was not in the drawer. This is a huge and bulky rotary tool, with a handle that gets stuck every time you open and close the drawer. It was there every time I looked for the pizza cutter, or reached for a knife. It wasn't there now. The pizza cutter was.



I came to the conclusion that we have pictses, or faeries, or borrowers. I haven't actually seen them, so I don't know which. But I guessed they were tired of pizza and wanted some fresh fruit. I used a knife to prepare the apples for the pies. Since I have some truly lovely knives, it wasn't that great a hardship.



But now, they've taken my camera! This is simply not acceptable. And this is why I have no pictures of my projects to accompany this post. Any suggestions on how to ransom my camera back would be appreciated.



I've actually gotten a lot done in the last few days. The most recent batch of incense is finished and packed. I love the scent of saffron. It is rich and heady and intoxicating. I don't use the last word lightly. According to Christian Ratsch in the Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants;




in low dosages, it excites, cheers, and produces laughter ... The psychoactive effects of saffron have been occasionally described as "spasms of laughter" and "delirium" (Vonarburg 1995, 76); "in its effects, saffron comes close to opium."




Culpeper extols saffron for use in "hysteric depressions" but warns;



However, the use of it ought to be moderate and reasonable; for when the dose is too large, it produces a heaviness of the head and sleepiness; some have fallen into an immoderate convulsive laughter, which ended in death.




I cannot imagine how much saffron one must ingest or inhale for such an effect!



Tonight, I also started work on the last tincture of my planetary tincture project. Rose, for Venus in Libra. The roses were homegrown and dried. Since I used no fixative while drying them, they lost nearly all of their color. But when I started crushing the petals, the scent was true and strong, sweet and amazing. When I added the Everclear to the jar, there was almost no color transfer to the liquid. Almost. The liquid did take on the barest tinge of gold and seemed to magnify the rose petals beyond what I would have expected from the refraction of glass and liquid. I am thinking that this is going to be a wonderful finish to the project. I will know in a month or two.



What else, what else?



Baked bread (challah) and started some rye bread (that is a two day project all by itself). Read a novel (Terry Pratchetts "Unseen Academicals"), made a skirt. All in the last two days, all in addition to all the other stuff that somehow gets done.



I may borrow a camera to take pictures of the skirt.



(If you are interested in the saffron incense, and you didn't arrive here via Mrs. B.'s blog, click on the 31 Days of Halloween button. On Saturday October 17, a tube of my incense will be among the giveaways you can try to win. If you did arrive via Mrs. B., Welcome!)

Friday, October 9, 2009

So This Is How Sleeping Beauty Felt


This weekend I woke up. I mean, I really woke up. It wasn't until I realized just how awake I was that I realized how "unawake" I had been for the previous 3 months. Everything had felt very airy and diffuse, and in conversation with another blogger we both agreed that it had been a bad summer for concentrating.


Summer has never really been my favorite season, but without a "true" summer this year, here in NW New Jersey, something in my interior didn't get what it needed. Call it basking like a lizard. Or dozing in the sun. There were none of those afternoons of feeling my edges and perimeters melt into the surrounding atmosphere as I lay still in the grass, eyes closed, breathing slowed, while absorbing and being absorbed by the greater existence.


And then, there was the moon tincture. Certainly a sense of sleepwalking and dream state could have come from that project. And that would also explain why those times that I did feel fully awake and participating in my existence happened while at the Renaissance Faire, in garb and in my "rennfaire" persona. Dream world, dream persona, dream existence, a total Luna experience.


As I mentioned in a previous blogpost, I got the day of this Full Moon wrong. I went out the next night, that of the actual Full Moon. Rain or shine, I go out for a moon ritual ever Full and every Dark/New Moon, no excuses. All though 2009, the weather has been variable for the Dark/New Moons. Some months the sky is clear and the stars dizzying in their plenitude. And sometimes the weather has been overcast, or rainy, or snowy. But dark is dark.


Since January, the Full Moon has been dark, too (DH, when telling you about this, I mentioned March, I went back over my notes tonight). The weather has been cloudy or rainy every single month on the night of the Full Moon this year-until this one. Not only did I know She was there, I was able to bathe in her visible light, and I came inside, afterwards, floating, totally conscious and feeling recovered from the cold that I had been suffering from. (10 minutes after I came inside, there was a clap of thunder and the rains came pouring down, but that was afterwards).
This is where the awakening started.


It is autumn, the start of the year. We have had Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. We have had the Autumnal Equinox, that moment of balance, before the spiraling inward, before the thinning of the Vail. I have finally danced in the moonlight. We went "college shopping" with our daughter, so that the next period of her life can start. Next week, we have the unveiling of my grandmothers tombstone, marking the official end of the mourning period.


The funny thing about sleepwalking is that the sleepwalker isn't aware that that is what she is doing. And now that I am awake, I look around my house and marvel at how much it resembles a home abandoned, and how much my yard looks like it has been covered with 100 years of protective brambles. There are several overdue projects that I must finish. But now I feel as if I can deal with the house, deal with the gardens, finish my projects. Even more importantly, start new projects. There is a line in "Wee Free Men" about opening your eyes, and then opening them again. You can't live like that all the time, but you can try to remember what it feels like. Awakeness happens, life commences.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Things that make you go "Duh"

I am sick. It is just "one of those things going around." My daughter has been home from school for two days, with it, and I starting feeling the symptoms mid morning, today. Manageable symptoms, mind you-headache, tiredness, the slightest of fevers and a propensity toward dizziness when turning my head and changing its altitude at the same time.

My internal clock/calendar must be off, too. I've been convinced all day that tonight is the Full Moon and the start of Sukkot. I have my lulav and my esrog, the four species (all female!) that I use for this moons ritual. All day I wondered; Will I go out into the circle? Should I go out into the Circle? The weather isn't good (more like the end of November than the beginning of October) and I am really not feeling well, and there is the lightning fast trip to Boston this weekend (to look at colleges with our daughter) to think about.

Shall I go out to dance and celebrate and worship? How could I not? OK, I will, but just for a few minutes, I will fulfill my vow. I will explain. Well, maybe I'll go out for more than just a few minutes, otherwise, why go out, and I can't not go out...

Ever have a big build up to a sneeze, but then not sneeze? Or experience the build up to an orgasm that doesn't quite happen?

I came back in the house wondering why the ritual felt like a dress rehearsal-an almost, but not quite...and then I looked at the calendar (conveniently posted on the refrigerator-opposite the door). Full Moon and Sukkot are tomorrow night.

I am left with a lesson and a question to ponder. The lesson-always look at the calendar, especially if your head doesn't feel right. That's why I write everything down, anyway. And the question-was the "almost, but not quite/dress rehearsal" sensation because somewhere inside of me I knew that I was a day off? Or because I was a day off?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

And the subject is...Books

Anne Johnson, blogger extraordinaire at The Gods Are Bored, has just started teaching English in an, ahem, less than well funded city high school. The readers of Practically Magic, the writer of Practically Magic, and very nearly everyone I know, reads, memorizes, writes, scribbles in, lives with, hell, goes to bed with books. Anne has walked into a classroom that is nearly devoid of books, especially those that might appeal to boys (RO, sweetie, this is one time that the claim of sexism just won't hold-how many teenage boys do you know that will willingly read the "Sweet Valley High" series?).

You can read Anne's post here: http://godsrbored.blogspot.com/2009/09/ick.html
If you can contribute something to her classroom, please do so. And, if you are so inclined, ask an English teacher or two in a school local to you, you might be surprised (and horrified) at what the classrooms are lacking.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Blood

(artwork by the amazing Thalia Took.)

Blood is life's river (phrase borrowed). Blood is the remains of the primordial seas of this planet, the salinity that washed through the porous-membraned cells of those first living entities floating through those seas. Blood contains life and the memory of life. It can be given freely, taken violently, sweated out (metaphorically or in actuality).

I love this image. Right now, it has the place of honor on my desk, so that it is always visible.

But I was reminded last night, that men don't seem to have the same relationship with blood that women seem to.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Seasons and their Correspondences, thus far

I've always felt that spring was both earthy and male and while I can't say I've been aware of it before, this summer has definitely been a Season of Air. Staying grounded, feet firmly planted has been nearly impossible. My thoughts and emotions had had all the staying power of Will O' Wisps. Highly annoying, and exhausting, too.
When I go outside in the evenings, fireflies dance before me. Birds have become my near constant companions. There are times when it feels as if I've entered an Alfred Hitchcock movie and sometimes I feel more like Cinderella, just waiting for the birds and other wild animals to come and do my household chores for me. These pictures were all taken while sitting here at my desk. The sparrows perch on the window screens and chirp and look at me before flying back to the lilac bushes, but the cardinals do not like to get so close and stay in the lilacs and rose bushes.
In some ways, I wonder if this airyness, this non-groundedness is part of the longer term grieving for my Grandmother. Her house is now sold, there is no place to go back to. I had thought that there might be relief (and there was some), that with my Grandmother gone, I would no longer be the "Oldest Daughter of Saint Irene, the Perfect One." Some years ago, after I had pointed out what a difficult role that was, my Grandmother no longer referred to my mother with those words, at least in my presence, but they were implied right to my Grandmothers last breath. (well, she never used the word "Saint" but she did use the word "perfect" frequently).
All those among the living who remember my mother, remember her in more round and more human ways, so this burden should have been lifted. But with the death of the person who saw me as the "Oldest Daughter of Saint Irene, the Perfect One" I also lost the person who saw me as a reflection of that perfection. A pale and imperfect reflection, of course, but a reflection, none the less.
Those of you who know me from more than one place may have noticed that there are no pictures of me anywhere. With the exception of those "can't get out of it" pictures, there are almost no photographs of me anywhere at all. Historically, this has never bothered me. All pictures ever did would be to show me what I was not. I was not blond and blue eyed (as was my mother), tall (well, taller), stunning and confident. Not having a visual record was easier. But now, in the middle of the night, when normal people are tossing and turning and not sleeping for worry about bills and the economy and politics, I lay in bed and wonder "Do I actually exist?"
So what might the messages from the birds be?

Sparrow: It reflects self-worth. If Sparrow has entered your life, ask
yourself if you know your own self-worth. It was considered the
symbol of friendly household spirits, and a pet to
Aphrodite.

Cardinal: is a reminder to add “color” to our life
and to remember that everything you do is important. Cardinals stress
recognizing your own importance. The very color of the bird is that
of life's blood. (more or less)

The learning never ends.






Not so much hmmm as urrrggg!

When trying to learn a new anything, one of the best things to do is practice, practice, practice. I am trying to learn a new (to me) method of divination and am scrambling to come up questions. (I am a big "I'll take life as it comes along kind of person" I couldn't even come up with a question for the palm reader I visited, when I was last in New Orleans.)

I have been frustrated lately about my blogging. It isn't that I don't have things to say, it just seems that I rarely have time to concentrate on crafting my thoughts into well thought out (or at least coherently thought out) statements, sentences, paragraphs. Rather than being a relaxing summer, it has been hectic, with my time both busy and fragmented by the demands of my life. Often, it feels as if, by the time I've hashed out my thoughts, and put them in order, the time for the subject has passed, the conversation has moved on, and any contribution I might have made has been made, and credited to others.

I came up with a series of questions with which to practice my divinations, using one question per day:
What would be the result of my setting aside a specific hour each day to write?
What would be the result of my setting aside a specific time, duration of less than an hour to write?
What would be the result of my setting aside a specific time, duration of more than an hour to write?

The results for each one of these questions were unmitigatedly bleak. For a couple of days, I stayed off the subject when doing my divinations, and the results of those questions were not so dark, nor consistent.

I tried a different tack. "What would be the result of my giving up any attempt to write?" Again, according to the reading, giving up any attempt to write would be, at best, foolish, and at worst, a really really bad idea.

"What would be the result of my continuing to attempt to write?" Middling positive to positive.

Is this to be a lesson in dealing with frustration? Don't give up on something, but do not give it any time, either? Or perhaps there is something else going on, that I haven't quite caught yet?

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Sun! The Sun!

Sun in Leo, on Sunday, July 26th, at 2:15 pm, Sun hour. It had been gray and damp and rainy all day (week? summer?), but as I started collecting my tools and ingredients, the sun came out. After I gathered everything I needed, I went outside, into my circle and just tried to absorb the sun. I stood there, feeling it fill me, until my vision went red, then orange, then yellow, and it was coming from me, out, as well as from above.

This tincture is made with dried orange peel, from oranges that we had eaten last winter, after the solstice. The oranges were washed before we peeled them, and then I removed the pith and set the peels out to dry. Once they were dry, I sealed them in a canning jar until I was ready for this project. When I put the peels in the mortar, they were dry enough to snap and break, but they were still full of oil. Rather than grinding them, I had to pound them, hence the large granite mortar, rather than one of the smaller ones. The smell was amazing, full of heat and sunshine.

This is the tincture, after adding the Everclear and then agitating the jar. Unlike several of the other tinctures (Mercury, Saturn, Jupiter) this one did not change color immediately.

I didn't look forward to starting this with much enthusiasm. I think that I was feeling a bit put off still by the feel of the Lunar tincture, which at the New Moon on July 21st was still very "Don't Touch." I was wondering; was it just the nature of the Lunar Tincture? The herb I chose to use? The fact that the herb came from my Mother in Laws garden and had been picked by her for me? (yes, that last thought garnered me a strange look from DH) Now, I think that it was a combination of things, the nature of the tincture and the fact that this most recent New Moon was ALSO a Cancer Moon, just as the Moon was, when I started it. To everything there is a season, right? Things seem a bit cozier with both Sun and Moon tinctures going through their cohabitation phases next to one another...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

On the subject of tools

She stared at Tiffany's hopeful face and sighed.

"Come outside then," she said. "I'll give you lesson one. It's the only lesson there is. It don't need writing down in no book with eyes on it."

She led the way to the well in her back garden, looked around on the ground
and picked up a stick.

"Magic wand," she said. "See?" A green flame leaped out of it, making Tiffany jump. "Now you try."

It didn't work for Tiffany, no matter how much she shook it.

"Of course not," said Granny. "It's a stick. Now, maybe I made a flame come out of it, or maybe I made you think one did. That doesn't matter. It was me is what
I'm sayin', not the stick. Get your mind right and you can make a stick
your magic wand and the sky your hat and a puddle your magic...your magic...er,
what're them fancy cups called?"

"Goblet," said Tiffany.


From "A Hat Full of Sky" by Terry Pratchett

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Request

If you are a reader of my blog, and have a blog of your own, I would very much like to read it, and get to know you, my readers, better. If your blog requires an invitation, and you would be willing to let me in, please email an invitation to:

lavanah.c AT Gmail DOT com

(as the Pagan Soccer Mom would say "take that, you web spiders!")

Thank you!

Friday, July 17, 2009

THIS PAGE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Full Moon/Eclipse

A couple of pictures taken tonight, as I set up, and before the rain. (I love the way the trees in the background look) While the moon wasn't visible, I did have plenty of lightening and lightening bugs, which made the ritual feel "sisterly." It is evenings such as this, that makes me glad that I don't use a lot of tools and equipment for this type of ritual-halfway through, it started to pour. My basket that carries what I do use went under some shelter, and I finished what I was doing. At least I didn't need to worry about whether I had sufficiently snuffed the candles.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

An Old Post, from an Older Blog

(this had been posted on my old Yahoo 360 blog, soon to be defunct.)


Subject: The Temperature of Hell

The following is an actual question given on a University of Liverpool chemistry final exam.

The answer by one student was so "profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues via the Internet, which is why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well.

Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law that gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following: First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving.

As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that, if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell.

Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially.

Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell. Because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay constant, the volume of Hell must expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:
1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Sandra during my freshman year, that "it will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you," and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number 2 must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is endothermic and has already frozen over.

The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is extinct...leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being - which explains why, last night, Sandra kept shouting "Oh my God."

THIS STUDENT RECEIVED THE ONLY "A".

Monday, June 29, 2009

Chatty Planets


Last week saw the Solstice, Fathers Day and the New Moon, and while the Solstice might be Mid-Summer in the Celtic lands on the other side of the Atlantic, here in the North East of the United States, it is the start of the summer season. Life is slowing down, even as it is burgeoning. The summer gardens are delayed, because of all the cool weather and rain we've had, but the lavender is busy with bees, and nearly ready for harvest.


The week also saw completion in the making of the Mercury tincture. The salts were intensely fine grained, like sanding sugar and had no apparent pattern in the pan where they were formed. They scraped into a fine powder, without adhering to the glass, and were moved easily (eagerly?) into the menstruum. This Wednesday I will use the tincture for the first time. Four completed, three to go.


The Mars tincture had (and has) an amazing "You need Me" sense to it. The Mercury tincture has been very communicative almost from the moment it was first jarred. It told me when any step was finished and it was time to move on. Monday night, after the New Moon in Cancer, during the Lunar hour, I started work on the Moon tincture. Camphor. And again, I got a very clear message. This one was: Don't Touch Me.


Saps and distillates from Camphor can be poisonous, but I am working with the leaves. It was the leaves that were basically saying "hands off." They did not want to be ground, or mashed or torn or cut up, but once I acquiesced and started placing the whole leaves in the jar, the atmosphere lightened somewhat. I suspect at this point, that this will be a tincture of Artemis (and not She of Ephesus), of Circe, of Medea, rather than any of the more "generous" full Moon deities. Time will tell.


So, strong messages from Moon, Mars and Mercury, but not from Jupiter or Saturn. My first thought with Mars was that I really needed the Mars energy to balance out my sphere. And then, well, what else could you expect from the planet of the Messenger but conversation? I supposed it could be argued that I have been working with the Moon for so long, that Of Course, She would come through loud and clear. But when you add all that to the lack of any specific message from either Jupiter or Saturn, I think something else comes into play. The further out planets, and their specific energies just do not relate as easily to day to day humanity. Bigger, further away and slower (from our point of view) our issues just may not be seen in the same way to their spirits as the spirits of the planets that we are more intimate with.


On the other hand, it is possible that as I go along, I just get better at what I am doing. That with each tincture, I find it easier to attune myself earlier in the project. It that is the case, then the Venus project should prove very interesting indeed.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Why I love my fellow Jewitches

Since the beginning of the year, I have been resigning from various Yahoo discussion groups. Before doing so, I post on each group that I am leaving; not because I am unhappy with the group, or any of its members (if that is actually the case), but because it has come to that point in my life, when I no longer wish to deal with Yahoo. In case any members of those groups wish to stay in contact with me, I leave contact information and I have been pleased, and my ego stroked, by the number of people who showed interest in maintaining contact.

Only members of the Jewitchery group (and you know who you are, you wonderful people) have contacted me off list to ask if I were taking a moral stand against some position or behaviour of Yahoo, and if so, what is it?

This is one group of people who are making it difficult to leave Yahoo behind!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Fast! Salad!

(repeat refrain) With each tincture, I am amazed at how different each one is from the others and how they each reflect the planetary powers of which they partake. (end refrain)


So the words for Mercury seem to be fast and salad.

Fast makes sense. The planet moves quickly. Hermes/Mercury is the Divine Messenger, it wouldn't do for him to dawdle. This tincture was quick work (well, its still quick work, not being entirely done). The herb is home grown oregano, carefully harvested and dried for this specific purpose. It pulverized easily in the granite mortar, in fact, I had to be careful to not grind it into a powder. Upon pouring the Everclear over it, it was bleached of its color almost entirely. Jar sealed, wrapped in foil and labeled, it "talked" to me, reminding me of its presence several times a day. Unlike the previous tinctures, I never felt the need to unwrap it to check fluid levels, I knew it was fine. I also knew that yesterday would be the day for calcinating-even before I saw the weather report. (it was the only day it hasn't rained this month). The oregano only macerated for 22 days, but it was ready. (for those wondering, from May 27 to June 17). The calcination was fast. The fumes from the alcohol caught the flame from the torch and the leaves burned to pale grey ash immediately. I only finished it up on the stove because the wind had some up and I was afraid of the ash blowing away. But it only took another 5 minutes on the stove top for the pale grey ash to turn white. The whole step of calcination took a total of 10 minutes. When the ash was cool, I mixed it with distilled water, filtered it and put it aside. Already, this morning, I could see little clouds of crystal floating in the dish.

Salad. That is what the liquid smells like, a green mixed salad. The menstruum is a deep blue-green and has the smell of a bowl of assorted lettuces. I'm still working this part out, but I think it may have more to do with Greek Hermes, than Roman Mercury. I've come across references to the "fluid sexuality" of Hermes, and for reasons, I am not sure of, the metaphor of the mixed salad seems "right" for that. As for the lettuce...we have here the power of (and over) commerce and trade, could it be as blunt as that? Lettuce, greenbacks, money? Or, is it more fluid (that word again)? We have the God of law and thieves, psychopomp and fluid (ok, now I am using the word just to make myself grin) sexuality. Lettuce has been used as both an aphrodisiac and an anaphrodisiac. Depending on the body chemistry of the person imbibing, the sap can be used as a mild sedative or a mild intoxicant. Swings both ways, as it were.

It may be that I will get more information when the tincture is ready for use. I hope so. I have to wait for the rest of the water to evaporate, leaving me the salts to return to the menstruum. Considering the speed of this project to this point, I suspect that it won't be long before I will be able to do so. Should be interesting.

Monday, June 8, 2009

T'is the Season

I've noticed that life gets more hectic, the calendar more full, the to-do list longer, right before the solstices. Whether this is a direct result of the influence of the changing position of the earth in relation to the sun, and its effect on the human psyche, or a result or millennia of sun related holidays, and farming community school calendars, I can't say. I just know that life has been very busy and can see that it will slow dramatically in just a few weeks. Speaking as someone who tries to fully experience what my life contains, this ebb and flow is what keeps everything manageable. Speaking as someone who tries to keep a blog regularly updated, it can make life on line (or at least the updating) difficult.


In the last month, we moved our older daughter out of her college dorm. Although it only took 1 trip to move her in last September, moving her out took 2 days, and 2 trips. (It must be some law of physics unknown to me; each year, she moves into the dorm with less stuff than the year before, but then moves out with more.) The same day we were also expected at a birthday party and a graduation party.

The following weekend was that of the New Moon. DH and I were invited by an almost-neighbor to his Theodish New Moon rite. Since the New Moon was at (very conveniently!) 8:11am on Sunday, Joe was able to hold his rite on Saturday evening, and I was still able to observe mine on Sunday evening. So we spent Saturday night with an interesting crowd of Heathen and Pagan, talking before the ritual, and talking and passing the mead horn, afterwards. Sunday night, it was me, in the circle.

Mothers Day. End of School Year concerts. Time seems to telescope until you are faced with the question: tend to the outside, or tend to the inside? It is all very well to say "balance" but sometimes the need for balance needs to be...well, balanced against other needs.

This past weekend may have been the apex of this busy time, even though we still have 2 weeks to the solstice. It was the birthday weekend (DH's birthday is the day before mine). It was the weekend that a group that we belong to, did its group ritual. It was the weekend of the annual Reiki Master wine and cheese gathering. It was the Full Moon. It was a weekend (bleeding into the week) when DH and I had to plant and transplant 50 trees.

It was wonderful and fun, but exhausting.

Aren't those words used to describe the Winter Solstice Season?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Posting this here, so I can find it more easily

The Dragonfly

No bird or insect has the flight maneuverability of the Dragonfly. They can twist, turn, change directions in an instant, hover, move up or down, and even fly backwards. The power that dragonfly brings to the tapestry of life is skill. They are experts at what they do and do it relentlessly.
Dragonflies spectacular colors sparkle with iridescence in the sunlight. These colors take time to develop reflecting the idea that with maturity our own true colors come forth.
As newly hatched nymphs, dragonflies live on the bottom of ponds and streams. As they mature and go through metamorphosis they move to the realm of air. Since water represents the emotional body and air represents the mental, those with this medicine will often find themselves trying to maintain balance between their thoughts and emotions.
Children with dragonfly medicine are often very emotional. They feel things deeply and respond to situations with great passion. As they reach adulthood, and through experience, they learn how to balance their emotions with greater mental clarity and control. This gives them the compassionate quality necessary for any type of work relating to healing or counseling.
Dragonfly has the ability to reflect and refract light and colors and is often associated with magic and mysticism. Just as light can bend and shift and be adapted in a variety of ways, so can the archetypal forces associated with dragonfly. It conveys the message that life is never what it appears to be.
By helping a person see through illusion dragonfly awakens ones true vision. Flying at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour they can spot movement forty feet away. Flying into and around things from different angles, they challenge rigid awareness and prompt the energy of change for anyone who holds this medicine.

from: http://www.sayahda.com/cycle.htm

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Uh Oh


Last week, before the New Moon, I finished the work on the Mars Tincture. And, as with each previous step, I was shown just how individual and how specific to the energy each tincture is. These salt crystals were pointed, needle like and a pale, nearly tawny yellow color. Most surprisingly, though, there was no scraping needed. Completely dry, the crystals just released and swept into the bottle of liquid. Yesterday (Tuesday) at the afternoon Mars hour, I tried the tincture for the first time.

We have a divide in our society, between the puritanical, which believes that if something is appealing, then it must be evil and a lure toward continued evil; and the liberal, which, at the very least does not find evil in enjoyment. This is the juncture at which I sit with this tincture.

This was the first tincture that didn't taste "interesting." This one tasted wonderful! It made me feel wonderful, happy, energetic, powerful, productive. The rest of the day was just a really good day. This morning, I found myself thinking, maybe I would take some more today, during today's Mars hour, even though up to this point I had been using the tinctures only on their specified days. None of the others had the appeal of this one. Do I crave it because I so need these martial energies for balance? Or because that energetic, powerful, productive thrust is the lure, the first step towards-what exactly is the potential danger?

(There are times when cravings and tastes for something unusual demonstrate a true need. Has Gatorade ever tasted as good as when you are dehydrated and hungover? But sometimes, cravings can just be an excuse.)

Hence, the Uh Oh.

I see a need for divinations.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My birthright



Or at least a part of it. The rocking chair originally belonged to my great-grandmother, four generations of babies were rocked and cared for in that chair. My grandmother made both the cushion on the seat and the pillow in the back. She also painted the canvases behind the chair. But then we get to some of the interesting things. Sure looks like a canopic jar, right in front, doesn't it? (actually, its only a model) And, yes, that is a scarab, off to the side. At some point, someone tried printed the carved marks on the bottom, there are remains of ink, visible. You can't really tell from the photo, but the chain between them is a belly dancers coin belt. In the bowl are copper measuring cups, and an amazing cleaver. My sister and I found a large collection of cleavers and large scissors. None of them had been well cared for or stored properly. My aunts wanted to throw them away, because they looked dangerous. Well, yes, they are. I went through the collection, hefting each one. This one felt "right" in my hand, so I took it home. When I finally got the blade clean, I found that the steel was blue, not silvery. It has a stamp in Polish and a crown. So now I'm wondering-just how old is this cleaver, and where did it come from? Not in the picture is the amazing bedroom furniture, the effects of which, on the atmosphere of the bedroom require a blogpost of its very own, the copious amounts of costume jewelry (my grandmother seemed to believe that "the smaller the woman, the larger the jewelry"), photographs and every document imaginable, that might have had anything to do with the family. (the documents paint an even more interesting family than I had known about. For example, my great-grandfather, on my grandfathers side, had three wives, in succession, all of whom had the same name. Was he worried about his memory?)
But the most important thing that I have received is not visible. That would be the completely loving and civilized manner of everyone in the family. We've lost our matriarch, but not our sense of family. The distribution of my grandmothers belongings was done in such a way that no one felt slighted, or a need to be "grabby" so as not to be left out. The whole effect has been a testament to whom we all are and from whom we've sprung. I am now, at age not-quite-50 the eldest in my particular line of this family (that's what happens when your mother dies young), and while I would have preferred to not have to step into this role so young, I have remarkable role models. I hope to do them proud.


Monday, May 11, 2009

The Bottle was talking

Or at least, it was ringing.



I don't post often about my dreams, I remember far too many of them. But maybe this one may have had some bearing on a recent project and my reactions to the project.



I was sitting in a classroom, with desks very much like the desks in my high school, chair and writing surface attached and a too small wire basket under the seat for books and supplies. A stern, youngish male teacher is at the front of the room, lecturing. A ringing is heard from my bag, under my desk, and the teacher is annoyed at being interrupted. I open my bag, and it was a bottle of Everclear that was ringing. I quickly open, and then close the bottle and the ringing stops. I apologize for the interruption, the teacher accepts the apology and class goes on.

I guess this particular project still has things to say to me.

The salt crystals have begun to form from the ash solution. They look like tiny, clear needles, if needle had sharp points at both ends.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mars



If I ever thought that these planetary tinctures would be the same process, seven times over, I have, again, been corrected. Jupiter was a cinch, Saturn (in Capricorn) was earthy and needed extra purifying and filtering. And Mars?
More than the first two, this tincture I felt a real need for-to better balance the parts of my personality, perhaps. When I first assembled it to macerate, I felt that it could be possible for me to understand why Hannibal crossed the Alps and Caesar, the Rubicon. The jar felt hot in my hands, right from the very start. Even as I coveted the drive, passion and power that was inherent, I could also sense the danger. But I wanted it, anyway.
But, true to the Mars personality, this project has been a battle. I could not do the calcination on the original date because my area of New Jersey was under drought warning and a high alert for fires. Considering that snow melt and flood is a more usual problem in the spring, this is highly unusual. And, because I use Everclear at 190 proof for the menstruum, I didn't dare attempt the burn inside the house.

The day after I had wanted to do the calcination it started to rain, and rain, and rain (weather spell? What weather spell? I just had a little talk with a couple of entities about the danger of drought). It rained for a full week. The no burn regulation was lifted and this past Tuesday night, Mars hour, I took my bowl of alcohol soaked ginger root chips outside to ignite. (The picture is above) But no sooner did I have it lit, than the rain started again. The rain didn't bother the alcohol burn off, but that was it, no glowing coals, no smoldering, no ash. Just damp little black charcoals chips made from ginger. Damp and blackened-that pretty much describes how I felt at this point in the project.

The moon will be full very early Saturday morning (12:01am) and I had wanted to be done with this before then. Rummaging through my pantry, I was able to jury-rig a pretty good crucible, and for the last two days I've worked on reducing the coal to ash and then refining the ash. It will be done on time.

Dogged and determined, I can do (even if I don't enjoy it much), but that is rather earthy, not fiery. So the question is: at what point does determination shade into drive, push and yes, power? Should I have spent more time with that (possible) salamander, last year?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

If the words unspoken, get stuck in your throat...

I seem to have lost my voice. I had hoped to find it during/with my Mars spagyric project. But I am up to the calcination step, and my part of New Jersey is currently under a red flag/no open burn regulation. Much like my words, this is virtually unheard of in north west New Jersey in the Spring. Writing, difficult under the best of circumstances (my inner editor is very strict) is now almost impossible.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Brief and Late...

...on the Four Powers of the Sphynx thread.

Jasons thoughts on the different depths of reading those powers was very familiar. Last night at our (non-Facebook) Seder it occured to me why. In the Seder there is a part about the 4 Sons, how they ask questions and how those questions should be answered. This also relates to what is known as PARDES, which is an acronym for the different types of interpretation. They are: Pashat, which is the authoritative method, the outward and obvious meaning; Remez, the allegorical or philosophic method; Drash, which is homiletic or Midrashic (story telling to illustrate the point) and finally Sod, the esoteric or mystical method.

And, finally, regarding the Power of Silence; it has been noted by several bloggers that either they have trouble with this one, or that they don't always see the point. Silence is something that I do not have any trouble with. In fact, for me this is the easiest of the four. But, as is the case with so many things that are naturally easy, without care and attention, instead of being a power and a strength, it can become a prison. Discretion and the balancing of strengths, on all levels of reading is of upmost importance to the magician or mystic.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

What the hell...

I've posted this link everywhere else...

http://9a4440c5.fb.joyent.us/haggadah/ultraModern2.php

(well, I enjoyed it, and thought to share, that's not wrong, is it?)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Spring Cleaning


The Spring cleaning continues. 2 yahoo groups unsubbed, and in fact 1 yahoo ID scrubbed. Counters and inside the drawers in the kitchen, scrubbing and cleaning is in process. The kitchen is also my workshop and laboratory, as well as the center of all the everyday life giving processes. Having it pristine (well, clean and non cluttered, at any rate) helps everything.

Yesterday, I started work on my Mars tincture. I am working my way through all of the "old" Planetary Powers, the better to internalize and utilize their influences. But Mar is the first one where as I was putting together the herb and the alcohol that it really hit me how much I needed this one. I am using dried ginger root and from the moment I started measuring it out to the time I sealed the jar, I had a sense of drive, of energy, of push, that I don't normally have. And once the jar was sealed and wrapped, I missed that feeling, for the rest of the day.

A year or so ago, when Mars was retrograde, I remember sitting in bed, crying, because I felt that I had "lost my fire." I don't feel that way now. But, oh, to feel the way I felt for that little while yesterday morning! On the other hand, knowing that there are people who feel like that all the time explains alot about the economic and political problems the world is facing. So rather than working to feel that way all the time, I will work on balance, a kinetic balance, perhaps, but balance, none the less.

I have also made arrangements to meet face to face with another person I've been emailing with. Perhaps she might not qualify as an entirely new friend, but having not spent any time with her for the last 30 years, ought to count for something!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Almost a Comment to Anonymous

I had read the post: To Anonymous-The Culture of Gods on Doing Magic ( http://doingmagick.blogspot.com/ ) and had thought to comment. Happily, though, Jow made many of my points for me. (who knew, prior to the internet that New Jersey could lay claim to the number of thinking magicians that we have?) So, if you haven't read Jows post, here is the link: http://jow-amagesblog.blogspot.com/

Gods are more that we, on this earth, on this plane can ever see, in their totality. That may be why the images of Gods and Goddesses undergo change over the millenia-they don't change, but maybe what humans can see or need to see, or are convinced to see, change.

I happen to disagree with the view of Tammuz/Damuzi as a God. Returning from the Underworld does not mean that you have achieved Godhood. In the case of Damuzi, he would not have left the land of Erishkigal without the help of his sister and the acquiescence of his wife. (of course, if he hadn't pissed off his wife in the first place, he wouldn't have needed help leaving the underworld...) But it may very well be that the victory over death and the ability to return from the underworld is a prerequisite of attaining Godhood.

But Jow is right about the hymns outlining the Courtship of Inanna and Damuzi-definitely material to work on with your loved one. Besides, I've yet to come across anything in the Homeric Hymns that come close to the lines where Inanna admires her own wondrous vulva.
(now why didn't I post some of that for Valentines Day?)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Equinox and Spring



Interesting to think about-the Equinox is about balance, the even amount of light and dark. But it is also the entrance to a new season, in this case Spring. That isn't balance, that's forward motion. I have spent the last month trying to find my balance, to internalize the changes in my life. Now, I am ready for forward motion and action. The need for spring cleaning is strong. Not just housecleaning (although there is plenty of need for that!), but spring cleaning of me.
This past weekend, I had lunch with one of my blogging/Internet friends. I took a long drive on unfamiliar New Jersey highways (am I the only person in New Jersey who does not like to drive?) to have lunch with someone I had never met before. Potentially, the day could have been horrible. But it wasn't. Yes, I was on the road as long as I sat and chatted. Yes, prior to the drive, the idea of doing it scared the crap out of me, but that was one of the reasons that I did it. Lunch was lovely, we will do it again. And, I will make plans to meet and make real friendships out of my Internet relationships. Forward motion.
Its time to take my ritual outside and shake it like a rug to freshen it. Less time to sit and stare at a screen and more time for doing. Forward motion.
Once balance is dynamic and once achieved, if you don't do something with it, you have stasis.
Happy Spring (forward!) Anyone up for lunch?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Why I will never be financially wealthy.

...because of all the "things" in my grandmothers house, the crystal, the silver, the art...all I really want is her rocking chair.

Monday, March 9, 2009

After Winter, Comes Spring

And, after thoughts on death and loss, come thoughts of life, sex and cookies. (and every single time I've used that phrase, DH has added, "but not the Crowley recipe!")

I had planned to write (again? more?) about Purim, which like so many holidays has recent explanations for observances that seem to have existed forever. Even though I did get to the baking, the planning for the writing didn't happen. So for those of you who did not read last years post, I leave you with the link:

http://hearthwitchery.blogspot.com/2008/03/purim-and-hamentashen.html

Oh yeah, one thing I did leave out of last years essay-I make apricot filled hamentashen for my blonde daughter. :-)

May all your noises be joyful ones!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Grief

Grief is a funny thing. If I had been asked whether I would grieve over my Grandmothers death, I would probably have answered "no." I would miss her, of course, but to bemoan the death of someone who reached her late 90's? That would be selfish.

But here I sit, feeling...discombobulated.

I've had a week where concentration has been difficult. Chores and projects lay about the house, in various modes of incompleteness. Writing more than 2 or 3 sentences at a time has only become possible today.

Except for a few stray moments, none of the feelings I've experienced come under the heading of classic grief (and those moments have been overwhelming). Instead, I feel displaced. As if nothing has really changed, but all of creation has taken a teeny step sideways. And, (please excuse the mixing of metaphors) all of the teeth in my gears are not meshing easily with the gears of the rest of creation. They sort of are, but not neatly.

I absolutely can't stand the sensation of not being able to concentrate.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Deciding to Check Out

So, perhaps elective surgery at age 97 isn't such a good idea. My grandmother died this morning. She came through the surgery just fine, but the day before she was to be transferred to the rehab unit, she picked up an infection. It was the hospital itself that wasn't healthy for her. She was treated for that infection, and while waiting for a new bed to open at the rehab, picked up a new and different infection. And so it went. She would heal from one thing, and the doctors, erring on the side of "caution" would hold her for a day or two before releasing her. Just long enough for her to pick up something else.

We went and visited her last week. She just talked about how she wanted to get out of the hospital and get on with things. It was decided by my aunts to bring her home and get her 24 hour care, that that would be healthier for her. The idea made her much happier, too. She missed her home and her things and most of all, her dog. Once she was healthy, she would then enter the rehab and learn how to use the new knee. But finding that kind of 24 hour care of the quality required took some time. When I spoke to her a couple of days ago, she told me that she was tired of waiting, that it was time to leave. She pointed out that if things had gone according to plan, she would have been finished with the rehab and been back home by now. "Its time to leave" she said, using the name for me that no one else used (well, my mother used that name for me, too). I knew what she meant.

My grandmother was a determined and decisive woman. She had lived a long life, and had much joy, and much pain, too. She decided on having the surgery so that her life might be worth living. At age 97, illness and permanent incapacity was simply not an acceptable alternative to death. As she once said to me (and I think I was the only one of her descendants that she would talk to about such things) "there are worse things than dying; especially at this point."

The doctors, the hospital, much of the family wanted what they thought best for her. She just wanted out. So, last night she went to sleep, and at approximately 5am this morning, she got to leave the hospital-her way.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Why wording is important, even in the little things

Monday night, I did some trance work. Since it was the first time in nearly two years, and it was successful, I felt pretty good about it afterwards. Elated, even. Writing down, and then reading over my notes, I felt very good about what I had seen and what I had done. Everything was remarkably clear, especially what I needed to do, going forwards. It wasn't until later on that evening that I started to get suspicious; was it too clear? The assignment too pleasing? The rewards for completing said assignment too enticing? That night, I had a series of dreams, all on the same theme. One person after another (some I knew, some I didn't) distrusting of gaining a promised reward, behaving in a way that seemed to lead to short term gain, but actually losing all gains, promises and advancements. I woke up thinking "OK, time for trust and following through on this." That was Monday night, with the decision to trust and follow through, on Tuesday morning.

Tuesday evening, I said publicly that I wished for more useful dreams that night. I got them, oh did I get them. But useful and pleasant are not the same thing. And useful and restful are not synonymous. What sleep I did get was full of nightmares. It took a long time this morning to calm down enough to untangle the threads of the dreams. They were painful to think about, to follow through to their logical ends. But the dreams were useful information. Very useful.


Next time, I will try for useful, with as little pain as possible.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Renovating the Astral Temple

Last year, when working my way through the JM Greer book "Learning Ritual Magic" I created an/my astral temple. The book described what the temple was to look like and the instructions were to practice visualizing the space, and then using it for ritual. As I recall, I had some trouble with the visualizations, until I thought to reach out and touch the furnishings and the walls of the temple, itself. After that, it was easy, I was there. It was a real place and exactly as described in the book-except perhaps for the size. There was no mention of size in the book, and when I told DH of my pacing out the walls, he was surprised at just how big the space was. Other than that, everything that I described to him was familiar. It was a ritual magic/Golden Dawn style temple.



Over the last few weeks, it has been changing. At first, I wasn't aware of my changing it, and I was concerned. But now that the renovations are, if not completed, at least at a resting point, I can see how this new temple fits me so much better.



It is still has the appearances of a human constructed space. But rather than a room, it is an open pavilion. The round floor is a black material, perhaps marble, and the domed roof is supported by a series of doubled pillars, so that there are 2 pillars with a narrow space between them, a large arched opening, then 2 more pillars, and another large arch, the pattern repeating itself all around the circle. The roof has an oculus, so it is open to the sky. Pillars and roof are white, again perhaps marble. The whole space is very to the outside, and airy. There are trees all around, but not so dense that light and space cannot be seen between them.

This is a comfortable and above all easy place for me to work. I suspect that the renovation project may not be finished, but at this point I am happy with it. Because, I suspect, it is mine.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Just Reading

Just reading the Enochian Calls before going to sleep encourages odd dreams with very clear images. Last night I had a dream that had to do with a physicians office at the end of the world. Beyond the building (which stretched up forever and down forever, and yes, the wait in the elevator lobby seemed to last forever) was both infinite space and infinite (stormy) sea. There was also something about a pastry shop in the building, where the decorations on the pastries got more elaborate and detailed, the closer you looked at them-like fractiles. It felt very familiar, as if I had been in this place before, or I had had this dream before. But looking through my journals, this was the first time for this dream.

In the dream, the pastries were really appealing, but thinking about them now, they were in odd colors.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Me thinkes I lyed all winter when I swore,
My love was infinite, if spring make'it more.

John Donne
Loves Growth


There is much more to this wonderful poem, to the wonderful body of work written by John Donne. But this couplet seems to have been calligraphied, acid-etched and burnished into my memory.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Vow

Nearly a year ago, while my Study Partner and I were working our way through the JM Greer curriculum, DH suggested that I read "The Golden Dawn" by Israel Regardie (or better, compiled, and/or written by I.R.). Since I was already reading one Regardie book, as part of the curriculum, and was about to start a Dion Fortune book (for the same reason), I told him that it would have to wait. And so in late July 2008, once I finished the Greer curriculum and had taken a small break, I started reading "The Golden Dawn."



I am still reading "The Golden Dawn."



DH never came out and said "this is a reference book." He said "read it." It wasn't until much time had passed that he commented that most people don't sit and read it through, cover to cover. In fact, that while he has read the entire book, it was in the manner of looking up what he was interested in, or needed to know, not by reading it from front to back. But by that point, I had invested so much time in it, that I was determined to read it through.

It makes a lovely bedside table, read a bit of it right before falling asleep, book. And, I rarely have trouble falling asleep these days.

I am close to being finished. Close enough that I have another book on the end table, waiting, and encouraging me to finish. There are nights when I pick up "Golden Dawn" with a sigh, because I'd really rather not. The other night DH said, "it can't be very interesting, reading it like that-its like reading the encyclopedia." No, it isn't. I read the Encyclopedia Britannica as a kid. I was that kind of nerdy kid, and I lived in that kind of nerdy household that actually owned a full set of Encyclopedia Britannica. Reading the encyclopedia was fun; and I can still get lost in a good dictionary. (although nowadays, it takes both reading glasses and a magnifying glass to read the Oxford, alas.) While there have been a couple of "aha" moments with "Golden Dawn," I don't really think that any of it qualified as "fun."

But I vowed to myself that I would read it through. And if you can't count on yourself to keep vows made to yourself; how can you trust "you" to keep vows to others?

Friday, February 6, 2009

just make sure the audio is on

According to Constantine von Hoffman at:
http://collateraldamage.wordpress.com/

The UK’s Dairy Crest dairy has reported increased sales over the past quarter thanks in part to an ad campaign featuring former Sex Pistols’ lead singer John Lydon (ne Rotten). Sales of the company’s Country Life spreads leapt 85% in the latest quarter, “in part to promotions and also to the success of the John Lydon advertising campaign.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hzQsvxtLTM

You really should watch it. Oh, and check out some of Cons other posts, too.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Halfway to Spring


Everyone has something that they think important, that they are almost dogmatic about. My issue happens to be the astronomically based holidays. Yesterday, most Pagan folk celebrated Imbolc, however, today is the actual halfway point between the first day of winter, and the first of spring (at 11:45am est, if you really want to be dogmatic about it.) Not being Wiccan, nor Druid, nor Celtic of any type, Imbolc doesn't work for me. For similar reasons, neither does the idea of celebrating Candlemas or the Feast of Bridget. Instead, I will celebrate the Feast of the New Year of Asherah.
Next week, on the Jewish calendar is Tu B'shvat, the New Year of the Trees. Tu B'shvat means nothing more than the 15th of Shevat, which is the Full Moon. But the New Year of the Trees was moved to that date by Rabbi Hillel, during the Roman era. Previously, it had been celebrated at the New Moon. The association between Asherah and trees has always been close and the New Year of the Trees was an ancient holiday by the time it was first mentioned in the Mishnah. In the Near East (ancient and modern) the trees are just beginning to flower. Here in the NE United States, the sap is just beginning to run (maple syrup, anyone?). The connection between dairy (Imbolc/Ewes Milk? as I have read) is not far-fetched, either. The Great Mother Goddess feeds her children, how?
We are half-way to Spring. Right now, looking out the window, I see a curtain of snow falling (covering the layer of ice that was laid down last week). But the sap has begun to rise, and the snow will melt. Babies will be born (admittedly and thankfully, not in this house!). Today, I made my seed list for my gardens, later I will place the orders. I baked a cheesecake, so that we might celebrate now. Spring is not yet here, but it will come.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Saturn Salts-redone


I don't know. I see trees, or maybe one tree (a banyan?) here. But then, I'm inclined to see trees and living things. I don't know why the salts formed in this pattern. And, yes, there is a very fine covering of salt crystals in the "empty areas" between the trunks and the top. The crystals themselves, are very fine, just deposited unevenly. Unlike the Jupiter salts, which had a hard, bright sparkle to them, these have a soft creamy look to them.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Small Town Life

Just so you don't think from previous postings that I have a problem with small town life, I thought I would pass this along.

Yesterday, a squirrel fell down the chimney and was trapped in our fireplace. The only hav-a-heart trap we own is far too small for a squirrel, so this morning, I called the police, to see if they could recommend a wild life rehab organization for me to contact. The woman at the police switchboard took my information and told me that someone would be out to see me. Within ten minutes, we had not one, but two police cars pull up, one marked, one unmarked. What were they thinking? Squirrel home invasion? But once it was officially confirmed that, yes, there was a squirrel in the fireplace, the animal control officer was contacted. And, she, with net and no gloves dealt with the squirrel.

Small town life-gotta love it.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Saturn Salts

The Saturn in Capricorn salts finally crystallized. They were coarse, non uniform in size or pattern, dirty yellow, and had black flakes in them. Really ugly.

So, I scraped them up, and redissolved them in more distilled water. Again, the water turned pale yellow/green. I filtered the water and the water turned yet more green. So, I did it once more, and the water turned even greener. I washed the glass pan that I've been using for the crystallization process, and this time, I rinsed the pan with the distilled water, just to be on the safe side. I poured the salt solution back in the pan (without wiping it dry, that way there would be no issue of something from the towel contaminating it) and now, I am back to waiting.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bionic Grandmother

A big "Thank You!" to those of you who spared some thoughts for my Grandmother and her surgery. I just got the phone call, that not only is she out of surgery, she is out of the recovery room, hungry (!) and asking for her reading glasses.

I also want to say (again) "Thank You" to all those people who helped to elect Barack Obama president. That may seem like an out of place comment, but the election had a lot to do with the surgery. My grandmother is hours away from her 97th birthday, and this was elective surgery. She now has a new knee (which means that both knees and one hip are replacement parts). Prior to the election, many of her conversations with me centered on her great unhappiness with the politico/social situation of the nation. Post election, many of our conversations centered on how hard it was for her to get around, and how she didn't think that was a good way to live, how she missed the opera, the ballet, the museums. (she also talked about how she missed having her own car-but she is NOT getting that back!)

My Grandmother was born in a tenement on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, in an apartment that was heated by a coal stove and lit by oil lamps. She was the first member of our family to graduate from high school, to graduate from a university (with a degree in mathematics, no less). She watched the rise of the American Empire and traveled to places that are no longer safe for Americans to visit. (I don't think she has ever been to Antarctica, but its possible I am wrong.) She taught in literacy programs, and worked to reform the machine of the Democratic Party in Brooklyn. She raised three daughters, while my Grandfather was often away, on government business. When her children were old enough to let her concentrate on her own projects, she learned to paint. Somewhere, down some corridor of the Brooklyn Museum, hangs one of her paintings, although I could not find it, the last time I was there. Somehow, she survived a year in which her husband (my grandfather) died, and then six weeks later, her oldest daughter (my mother) died. And then, not much more than a year after that, she danced at my wedding. She is the most loving and most "brook no crap" grandmother and great-grandmother out there. She lives in her own home, with her dog (and yes, people and their pets do end up resembling one another. Both dog and Grandmother are small, fluffy-haired and fierce.) And, she tells me at least once a week, that she is unhappy with me for having moved so far from her. And then we talk politics, philosophy, history and about art.

When I grow up, I want to be like her.

Happy 97th Birthday, Grandma, and congratulations on your new knee.

To hell with the silk and linen

Its cold and grey outside. We have a wonderful pancaking of snow, ice, snow, sleet and now freezing rain going on. My house is old and quite frankly could use a lot more insulation. Its almost enough to layer my sacred ritual long underwear (which I really do have, and use) with the holy sweatpants and top (which I have never yet resorted to). Instead, this weather may be just the push I need to finally do something with the almost 4 yards of dark grey, double faced wool that was left over from another project. I'm thinking, some sort of open fronted coat/cloak like thing to wear over my other stuff. All I have to do is figure out how to lay it out (officially, its not "enough" fabric!) and how to keep the cat off of it while doing so. Also, since I've had to redo all the incense I made yesterday (it dried far too fast, due to the lack of humidity), I have to keep the color from the incense off the fabric. If I can figure out a way to stay warm, it will all be worthwhile!

Also, my grandmother is currently having surgery-if anyone can spare a thought or two in her direction, for a quick and easy healing, I'd appreciate it. I'll blog more about her, once I hear that she is in the recovery room. Thanks.