Wednesday, December 21, 2011
This year, all of the holidays/occasions seem to happen very closely upon one another, like the Fortuny pleats on a vintage gown. Two weeks ago, we attended a Jolfest/Blot/Wedding. Last weekend was my family Chanukah party/family reunion. This weekend will be Christmas. Each event requires planning, cleaning, cooking, gift collecting and wrapping (with the exception of the Jolfest/Blot/Wedding, which only required cooking and some planning). There is also the collecting of daughters from various cities and schools, and the accompanying readjustment to having more people in the house.
And then, tonight there is the Solstice. In inspiration, Solstice celebrations are close kin to the celebrations of the other holidays, but for me, the observation is very very different. Today, I will clean the fireplace hearth and lay the wood for a fire. At the base of the wood will be the chunk of charcoal saved from last Winters fire; after all, last years fire was successful in seeing us through to the return of the sun. I will also make sure that there is plentiful firewood on the porch to make it easier to keep the fire going all night. (This year, there is no snow on the ground, but things are awfully soggy.) At sunset, the fire will be lit. There will be a light dinner (already prepped!). DH will come home from work and have dinner. There will be Chanukah candles. And a quiet evening. And DH and daughter will go to bed.
I will stay up.
Solstice is the night that I tend the fire; I tend the hearth and the home and wait, in vigil for the return of the sun. It is a quiet night, just me and sometimes, the cat. I will read. I will meditate. I will scry in the fire and with my drop spindle. (I am not very good as spinning yarn, but I find it a remarkable aid to scrying.) I will, most likely, trance. I will eat and drink lightly, and in honor of those Deities Whom I honor. The night is long, and the house will get cold. Come dawn, I will go outside and raise a toast to the return of the light and the Spirits of this place. Then, I will come back inside, bank the fire, and get into bed, to get what sleep I can before the activities of the day begin.
In some Germanic traditions, the night of the Solstice is Mothers Night, sacred most specifically to Frigga. She, and her handmaidens will check each household to make sure that all household work for the year is finished, and to reward those industrious souls, and perhaps penalize those who have not finished. It is a very good thing that mothers are forgiving, because there is no way that I could ever be "finished," not when there are so many varied traditions to be honored. The Solstice is both my "pause" button and my "reset" button in a busy season, at the end of a cycle of time. The dark and the quiet and the fire feed me and my spirit, so that I can go back into the bright holiday observations with a lighter heart and without a sapping sense of martyrdom to the season. It allows me that time to contemplate the year that is ending, and the one about to begin.
On a related note, Deb, over at Charmed, I'm Sure, is running a program on transforming oneself over this limnal season. I am not participating, but that has no reflection on what I see as a quality idea-I simply came upon it late, and I already had my own ideas/plans in the works. While it has already started, there is still time to join in. You can find the link here: New Year, New You
(I will admit to a bit of amusement at the title she chose. "New Year, New You" was the catchphrase that I used to market personal training programs every December/January, when I ran a gym. If there is "egregoric" strength to a phrase, this one should do well for it's participants.)
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
An International Journal on
Charms, Charmers and Charming
Issue 1, 2011, can be read as a pdf file, found here:
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Sunday, November 6, 2011
DH and I are friends with some of the people responsible for this event, but mostly, we were meeting people for the first time (although there was one mutual moment of "what are you doing here?" with a Rennie musician/actor). As I met people, I was really surprised to be told "Oh, I've heard of you!" Really? I admit, it surprised me. I also admit, I have an ego, and it was massaged very nicely.
Even though we are not members of any of the organizing or sponsoring groups, DH and I were asked to take roles in the Samhain ritual that preceded the dinner and dancing. DH was Door Warden, believe me, he can look very intimidating when he wants to, especially with sword in hand!
I was asked to call and hold the West Quarter, a spot where I am happy to be. We weren't able to attend the run-through of the ritual that had been held earlier, and since I am not Wiccan, I was a little concerned about the lack of "stage directions." The HPS reassured me that I should do what was right to me in that Quarter (as long as I stuck to the spoken part of the script, of course), and so I did. That meant that West was done a bit differently from the other directions, but no one and nothing seemed to be bothered by it. I was given a message by one of the Oracles, which, in the way of such things, could be understood in more than one way, depending on whether one of the words was used as a verb or an adjective.
After the Ritual, we partied. There was food and wine and beer at the tables, and a cash bar not too far away. We had an excellent DJ and a large dance floor. For the most part, we were in costume, and there were even some masks at the masquerade. (I wore one last year, but found that it got in the way of the dancing, eating, drinking, schmoozing...) I even came in second in the costume contest, wearing one of my younger daughters kimono.
Many, many baskets had been donated for the Tricky Tray portion of the evening fundraising, and two paintings had been donated for a Silent Auction, including one by Devyn Barat that I really wouldn't have minded taking home with me, except even the minimum first bid was a bit rich for me. I was glad to see that others weren't so constrained.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Monday, October 3, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Teach to the test. Memorize, memorize, memorize your dates, lists and correspondences. Diagram your grammar and cosmologies. Are we talking high school or magic?
Friday, August 5, 2011
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
1 small shallow bowl
a small amount of a fruit based vinegar. (cider vinegar works well, I use raspberry vinegar)
a drop of dishwashing liquid to break the surface tension of the
Pour the vinegar into the bowl, you don't need very
much. Add the drop of dishwashing liquid. Leave near the fresh
fruit, or where you are finding the fruit flies.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Thursday, June 16, 2011
1.What if I have simply run out of things to say? Having just had
that 1/2 century birthday, this is not a minor concern.
2. Except in rare circumstances, middle-aged and elderly women tend to be ignored-regardless of the reason for my silence, I hate playing into the stereotype.
3. I hate the very idea of even the possibility of being
4. I've always taken pleasure and pride in having readers of this
blog-and of the relationships developed from it. But without anything to say, what is the point of the blog?
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living.
--"Mother" Mary Jones
If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution.
Do something. Do it here and now and visible to the world. Do it also, and as well, in the magical and spiritual. And don't forget to add joy.
(Twice now, I've composed grand, and somewhat pretentious, all encompassing and advice laden endings for this post. And twice, those endings have vanished. I can take a hint.)
Thursday, March 10, 2011
The incense "dough" is made of a mixture of makko powder, which gives the incense it's bulk and base, and water, in one to one proportions. In the case of saffron incense, the makko and water are measured in teaspoons, while the incense is measured by the 1/8 teaspoon. (saffron is very fragrant.)
I use a marble board for this part of the project, similar to a pastry board. Here you can see the sticks drying. And the incense cone that I made with the small amount of dough that was left over and not enough to refill the dough gun.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
I have great plans for this year, and the years to come, and I've been more than ready to get started on them. At the beginning of the year I set my first goal; to attend Sacred Spaces, in Maryland. I've wanted to attend for several years now, but being mother to a resident child (especially a child who, despite being a native New Jersian, does not drive), and the expenses of having that teenager home, kept me from attending.
In one form or another, I "know" most of the presenters at Sacred Spaces 2011 (that's one of the advantages of being around for a while), and what a group to hang out with! Judika Illes, Jason Miller, Diana Paxson, Ketzirah Carly, just to list the people that I know, or I've chattted with. I investigated hotel costs and transportation and started putting the funds aside. I started thinking about how I was going to break the news to DH, that I was going off to have fun without him.
And then...the supply list arrived for a film photography class that my younger daughter is taking. A list of items that are not available at the school bookstore where she has a generous scholarship. A list of items, that, when purchased, swallowed up the hotel and train funds.
So. Still Mommy, first. I will get to Sacred Spaces (and similar events) in the future. This week, I will stay home.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
He smelled a familiar smell. It was the Sphinx.
Oedipus said, "I want to ask one question. Why
didn't I recognize my mother?"
"You gave the wrong answer" said the Sphinx.
"But that was what made everything possible" said Oedipus.
"No" she said. "When I asked, What walks on four legs in
the morning, two at noon, and three, in the evening, you answered, Man.
You didn't say anything about Woman."
"When you say Man," said Oedipus, "You include women, too.
Everyone knows that."
She said, "That's what you think."
(A portion of "Myth" by Muriel Rukeyser)
Assuming that one's own cultural biases are universal is dangerous. That holds for whether you are dealing with humans, systems created by humans, or non-human entities. And just because something has become enshrined in teachings and literature, does not make that something so.
For the past several years, I posted a poem on this blog for Valentines Day (usually John Donne). This year, I did not, although the reason had to do with my being between desktop computer systems. (Nettie the netbook is great for reading email or facebook, but for writing, research or juggling several open windows, I really prefer a full sized system.)
So, instead, a post-Valentines day, and Happy Birthday to Susan B. Anthony, poetry post.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Besides, who else would be able to mention both "Finn Family Moomin Troll" and "Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition" in the same blog post?
Friday, January 21, 2011
Monday, January 10, 2011
There is no way of redoing events. No going back and erasing and "improving" history. And, I am afraid, no Golden Age, no Garden of Eden, when and where life was wonderful for everyone. Never happened.
Pick an era and there were winners and losers, the big difference being that, in the United States, the pool of "winners" as a percentage of the population, had been growing since the middle of the 20th century. The growth was not easy, nor was admittance to the "winning" side given, nor guaranteed to anyone. But the promise of full acceptance into society was not limited to Horatio Alger myth, nor legacy. You did not have to be of the right color, or the correct last name or bank account. Right now, that pool of possible winners is shrinking. People are angry and scared, and because a few years ago everything seemed brighter than today, there is a much angry talk (and looking for blame), about bringing back "the good old days."
You can't. I can't. Even if we could agree on when those days were.
There is no back button, no time machine, no Tardis, we can only go forwards.
Where are we going?
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
I am a personal (fitness) trainer. I spent years working in, and then running a gym. Every year, we would get floods of new members in January. You always knew who would stick it out, and it was never the person who would say with a sigh, or a rueful smile that "this year, really! this year I am going to get into shape!" By Valentines Day, they would be gone and life would get back to normal for the people who wanted to work out. That is the difference. The people who stuck it out were the ones who wanted to be there. Whether it was because they found the actual workouts pleasurable, or whether they had specific, reachable goals or a death threat*, those who found the specifics of working out useful, hung around.
Many of the bloggers that I read have made resolutions/vows/promises to blog more often, and post regularly, on a specified day. To them, I say "good luck!" But as for me, been there, done that, and I don't like setting myself up for failure.
The best resolutions are the ones that you can keep, and that resonate in your life. Gordon has a post here: http://runesoup.com/2011/01/8-happiness-hacks-to-get-you-through-january/
on well, happiness. And finding the small sustainable ways to happiness are your best bets for those resolutions that resonate. From small acorns mighty oaks grow, people! Or the single grain of sand starts the landslide, or...fill in your own aphorism.
As an example, some years ago, overwhelmed by the needs of motherhood, and working and filling what I saw as the requirements of being a good spouse, much of my life was that of utility, necessity, corner-cutting, and a lack of "ease." Frankly, I wanted a life with grace. My resolution that year? From that point on, I would use only slices of actual, real lemon in my tea, rather than bottled lemon juice. It was where I drew the line on short cuts and "good enough" in my life. And, you know what? Since that time, I have never gone without lemon for my tea. A single point of grace, and the constant confirmation that 1. I can keep a resolution and 2. small happiness's every day brighten my life far better than the rare big deals. (DH, if you are reading this, it does NOT mean that my upcoming significant birthday shouldn't be treated as a rare big deal!) Another year, I gave up cheap ball point pens. I only write with fountain pens or with a specific brand of gel pen. Why? Because the smooth flow of ink gives me pleasure. And, yes, every time I write something, I am aware of it. This year? I am going back to doing the New York Times crossword puzzles. I am not putting any conditions of success in finishing the (especially the end of week) puzzles, although I wouldn't mind getting the Monday puzzles done in under an hour...
Here's the deal. These little joys do not really cost anything except a little bit of thought right at the beginning. But they become self perpetuating very quickly because they cost so little in terms of time or money. I become a happier person. All other things being equal, a happier person has a far better life than a less happy person. Isn't there something that will do this for you?
*Death threat-usually surviving a heart attack or stroke, merely being threatened with either is insufficient.