…that I totally meant to keep posting on and then I went away. But I’m back. Really.
Lots to chat about, but for now, I’m going to post this link to a nifty story about a Pagan and Christmas.
And SANTA CLAUS.
I have been using, up until now, an old Corningware plate on which to burn candles when I send “good vibrations” to folks or when I’m working on a charm. The only problems are that A: the plate is NOT aesthetically pleasing and B: it doesn’t feel very…sacred. And while I have no doubt that the Mother has a sense of humor, I think she also has a sense of style, and is probably not really feeling the country blue flowers/vine motif.
So for the past few weeks, I’ve been looking for a candle holder. I considered a plain glass holder, but…eh. Then I thought about a big seashell, as I am very connected to the ocean and I have roughly 873 big seashells lying around. The shells were wobbly, though, and I had visions of flinging “Go out, fire!” spells over my shoulder with the kids tucked under my arms as I raced out of the house. Um, no. Going out to an antique mart crossed my mind, but as silly as it sounds, I’m kind of weird about somebody else’s mojo sticking to whatever I could find.
Sigh. I continued poking around my house, sticking test candles on various flat objects, coming close but never quite getting the feeling I needed from the would-be candleholder. Until I poked in the basket on my hearth.
TS’s uncle was a collector as well (I’m surrounded!) and as a boy, he collected many, many Native American artifacts from the land his family had farmed in the Mississippi delta for generations. When TS’ grandfather’s home was cleaned out during his last illness and death, we somehow became the recipients of the uncle’s entire collecction. We believe the Native Americans were pre-Chicksaw. There are several beautiful pieces, mortars and grinders and points and sherds. One of my favorite pieces is a mortar obviously used as a base for grinding something; a flat, almost-round slab of what I think is tightly-grained quartzite, with a round hole worn almost through directly in the middle.
Hmmm, I thought, hefting it in one hand. Huh, I thought, feeling an antsy tightness crawling across my shoulders. Well, that’s…something, I thought, my fingers tingling as they slipped into the center divot.
I feel, as odd as it sounds, that the stone wants to be used again. But I haven’t even let it come in contact with a candle yet.
My fear is that it is somehow disrespectful to use this tool that was once used to grind meal or crack nuts or prepare pigments for my fumbling first steps on this spiritual path. I feel like I need to ask permission, but I don’t know who to appeal to. I also feel, in all honesty, a sort of fitness in using what was obviously a home-tool for my simple magics.
What do YOU think?
Filed under: Charmwork, Paganism | Tags: A New Pagan, Making Charms, Pagan Housework
I’ve always been a big hunter gatherer: I pick up rocks, odd pieces of wood, sea shells, sharks teeth, leaves…pretty much anything that speaks to me. Lately, I’ve felt drawn to explore the “meanings” of various stones. I believe that folklore is grounded in some sort of truth and that beliefs or superstitions that ride out time can become Truths, so the idea that people use different gems and rocks makes sense to me. (And believe me, I have a bajillion gems and rocks from various excursions lying around the house waiting for me to do something with them!)
I decided this morning to replace the quick little charm I made for safe traveling a few weeks ago. The spiral was unraveling and the lavender had gone crispy crunchy from the sun and heat, so it was time to take it down. A little research yielded that turquoise is a traditional traveller’s stone and that mint is a traditional traveller’s herb. (Which brings me to the idea that I am just HANKERING to study herbalism from a magical/folklore standpoint…another post….) Mint, I have: mountain, chocolate, and apple, so that was covered. But I wasn’t sure what to do about the turquoise.
First, I thought I’d take a look at some stones at our local humongous big-box store. But I could see that the stones in the jewelry section had been treated somehow to be more blue. Not so much. On the way home, I thought I might try to unstring an old necklace of mine that broke recently. However, this morning, I realized that I could use an old turquoise earring I inherited from my grandmother. My parents gave it to me several years ago to wear as a pendant, but I rarely wear it. It never lies properly flat, even with an extra ring to make it do so. Tear-drop shaped and with tiny green stones, it’s just beautiful and I figured it would do perfectly for what I wanted.
I am becoming more drawn to the ritual aspect of working with…um…I don’t really want to say magic. Let’s go with Mystery, maybe. In any case, I felt the need to somehow prepare myself for making my travel charm. I don’t know anything about casting a circle or calling the corners or any of that, and the words that people use to do would seem forced to me right now. Instead, I cleaned up my workspace.
I don’t have an altar (probably because I don’t do any ritualized worship right now), but I have snagged a little corner of the kitchen for my pagan “stuff.” Before, it was all out on the kitchen counter next to my sink, which meant that my mortar and pestle and moon candle holder were always in danger of being soaked with dirty dish water and that my books were out there for anybody (read: fundamentalist Christian inlaws and friends) to see. There was no official workspace and that didn’t feel right. So when my husband set up the dark little nook beside the fridge with a light and powerstrip, I apportioned the space next to the microwave for my magic corner. Books and candles go in the cabinet under my cookbooks and beside the essential oils, carrier oils, vinegar, and assorted “potions” I use to make cleaning supplies and diaper wipe solutions (as well as using them in various candle wishes.)
On the counter below the cabinet and to the side of the microwave sits the little wooden shelf which my father made me with found wood (he picks up stuff, too) a long time ago and which has never served any purpose other than being a catch-all. I put my special Mother stone there, along with my knife and a few bits and pieces of assorted junk. Today, as I gathered my materials, it seemed like I noticed for the first time how dusty and cluttered the shelf had gotten, how there were splatters of something on the counter and sawdust on the backsplash from TS’s work. Huh.
First order of business was clearing off all of the non-Mystery items off the shelf: cell phone, golf ball place keeper thingy, fortune cookie fortunes, an old bead, and some random keys were all put away. Then I dusted off the shelf and replaced the Mother stone, a stone from a friend, and a knife I found a while ago which is my Working knife. (Oddly enough, the needle I found on the shelf while cleaning stayed put. Huh.) Also finding a place on the shelf were four acorns Giant brought me, an arrowhead I found when we went geo-caching, a note from my father mentioning planting by the moon signs, and a note from TS about lovey-stuff.
The shelf cleaned off, I put the turquoise earring next to my Mother stone (presumably to soak up some mojo) and lit the candle I’ve been using lately. (I also cleaned off the top of the microwave while at it.) Then I went outside to get a few sprigs of chocolate mint (I mean, how can you go wrong with chocolate anything?) and some garden twine. Mint procured, I gathered the rest of my materials (cheesecloth and scissors), laid out my muslin square, and got to work.
First, I swiped my Mother stone through the candle flame. I did this while reading Tarot for the first time and it seems natural to me. I set the stone next to my earring again, then cut a circle from the cheesecloth. I’d never worked with cheesecloth before–what fragile, odd stuff it is. The circle was more or less roundish. I stripped the mint leaves from the stem and bundled them into the circle, which I tied into a little bag with the twine. Then I attached the earring to it all. Fiddling and retying a few knots yielded the shape I wanted. The whole time, I sang under my breath “Keep my family safe and warm. Keep my family safe and dry.” The tune was vaguely “For the Beauty of the Earth”ish, which…okay. Have you ever read the lyrics to that hymn? Little bit pagany, my friends.
Anyway, when it was finished, I laid my Mother stone on it. They matched weirdly in size and shape. (Love these affirmations!) Then I cleaned up, swiping my stone through the flame and laying it on each tool as I did. I felt very peaceful afterward and went to go hang the charm in my car. I had to take the old charm down first, of course, and after the new one was hung up, I scattered the bits of the old one in my garden, asking it to return to and nurish the earth. (BTW, the lemongrass braid held its scent beautifully. Makes me wonder if I could make little twists of it to give to friends for sachets at Christmas time.)
I feel as if this charm work is a natural expression of my gathering tendencies. (And perhaps the Universe’s way of telling me to get rid of some clutter!)
A few months ago, I bought a very groovy deck of Tarot cards with dragons on them. Beautiful and gorgeous they were–and they sat on a shelf gathering dust whilst I wrangled young-uns and tried to keep the floors clean.
This morning, I finally got around to using them. One of the problems I’ve had in doing rituals is that I’ve felt, quite frankly, a little cheesy. I was hoping that when I found a ritual or path which fit, the cheesiness would be less of an issue. Thankfully, today it was.
I set up the cards in the library while Elf napped. The library is my favorite room, filled with loved books and always a bit dark and smelling faintly of old smoke from the fireplace. I laid out a square of muslin on which to put the cards and lit the candle I used during the Solstice. I’m not a big fan of using a different candle for every ritual, mainly because I’m cheap, my friends. I use an orange candle to send happy wishes, a blue candle for peace, and a long, greenish taper for working with the Mother. It actually had been “charging” in my flower bed next to some lavender because I’d dropped it on the laundry room floor when I was bringing it in after the Solstice and had lost some of its…mojo. I don’t know, y’all. I’m making this up as I go along. In any case, a couple of weeks in the garden and it was slightly earth encrusted–and mojo-laden.
The candle goes in my Moon candleholder given to me by one of my best friends when we were younger. I’ve always identified with the Moon and now use this candleholder when I’m feeling like calling on the Mother. It just sort of has that vibe. Usually. For some reason, when I lit the flame today, I felt a big connection to Father Sky. Hmmm. Feeling the need to have Mother closer by, I grabbed the flint nodule I found on my family’s farm and which I use as a sort of Pagan rosary. Shaped like an egg and with a little depression perfect for my thumb, it has gotten me through some nasty thunderstorms on the road–and one fight with TS. Anyway, Mother stone on hand and candle lit, I shuffled the cards. Or sort of shuffled them. I’m shuffling challenged. I decided next time to do a scatter-shuffle, because I’m seriously going to warp my cards of I keep trying to get all fancy.
After choosing my card of the day (The Moon, in case you were wondering, which gave me chills, to be honest), I used an Ouroboros spread. I know this isn’t traditional for beginners, and there was a lot to iinterpret and think about, but it was the only spread that really spoke to me. Spirals and I go way back.
The reading was…kind of crazy, actually. I asked a question that has been heavy on my mind lately, and the cards I drew were very much in line with my feelings about it. As I looked at the cards and read my book and website references, I kept thinking, “It’s like they KNOW me.” Odd.
I was a bit concerned to see the reversed Death card that signified the ultimate outcome of the situation. But the more I read, the more I felt that it was a warning of sorts: stay on the tired, unhappiness-inducing path and things will not work out well. (As soon as I thought this, my candlelight flickered. Thank yoouuuu, Celestial Parents.)
Reading and thoughts jotted down, I swiped my stone through the flame (again, just making this up as I go along), put away my cards, and went out to do productive, detail-oriented stuff like The Tower in reverse and Sun suggested. Yay, me!
Filed under: Family, Kids and Witchcraft, Paganism, TS | Tags: Pagan Parenting, Relationship Issues
A lifetime ago, I dated a guy who was a hardcore Christian. I joined his church because at the time, I wanted to marry him and his mother gave me this big spiel about how we couldn’t get married because we were unequally yoked.
“Unequally yolked??” I said, staring at her teal eye-linered eyes.
A long explanation about oxen and faith followed and mainly to shut her up, I said yes to a bunch of questions the preacher asked me the next Sunday and joined their church.
Anyway, I always felt a bit like a fraud after that, and it is with much frustration that I realize I’m back in that place–unequally yoked, although the other ox has changed.
TS will, if pressed, claim to be a Christian. When I met him, he was an atheist, and I ragged him about not believing in anything one evening as we watched a glorious sunset. (At this time, I was a hippy-Christian. I was cool with Jesus and thought it would be nice to hang out with him under an oak tree in a pasture somewhere.) At some point in time, he started saying he was a Christian and all was well and good until I decided that while I had no beef with Jesus, Christianity was not the religion for me.
This was okay up until a few days ago when Will, coming across my Tarot cards, realized that the whole vague “Um…I’m not really into the Church” thing had resolved itself into something else and started a conversation about how I couldn’t be telling Giant and Elf about my Pagan “stuff.” His reasons were many and varied, from the fact that none of our friends and family are Pagan and so all involved might get confused to the fact that in our (conservative, mainly Christian) community, being identified as a Pagan might actually be a bit…dangerous.
Oh, dear. I didn’t get angry (look! personal growth!), but I was quite firm in my insistence that I wouldn’t shut down my own spirituality in order to make others comfortable.
A few buts, actually. First, I’m not really sure where in the world I fall on the Pagan spectrum. I recognize the Earth as a feminine spirit–the Earth Mother. But I don’t get moony about her; she’s very much an earthy, funny, wry, sister deity to me. And she has a mate: Father Sky. But sometimes, she’s Mother Ocean to me. And, also…sometimes I really see her as Brigid. Or Morrigan. Or…sigh. I am drawn to Celtic pantheism and I like candle magic and want to get into Tarot and I find the idea that plants and stones and stars and fire have potential for pour and…um. How do you teach THAT to a kid?
Also, as weak as it may seem, I agree with my husband that in our area (and in our family), coming out as a Pagan could cause so many problems. I hate to think of my Giant (who already deals with the prejudice thrown at a child with Asperger’s) being even more different than he is now. And my little Elf, so in tune with the magic all around her…what if somebody was hateful to her because she had a charm against cheating clipped to her backpack?
Oh, it’s so frustrating. And then I read this and it’s such a lovely testament to the power of spirit in children that I hate to think of missing out on this with my bebes.
*Bangs head on wall. Goes to light a candle. Rubs on a rock. Contemplates flinging laptop across the room.*
So, I decided against flinging the laptop and upon discovering a whole new world of blogging, signed up to win an herbal at Mrs. B’s, and am off to find more witchy mama blogs. Why don’t you cruise over to Mrs. B’s yourself? Go on…it’ll be fun. She has pretty tattoos and everything.
Filed under: Charmwork, Family, Paganism | Tags: Add new tag, Making Charms, motherhood, not enough time to do a ritual, Pagan Mommy, Paganism
How the heck do you do it? I have two little ones (one with Asperger’s) and it is all I can do to keep the living room straight, much less have time to train myself to use Tarot cards or build a lavender broom. I’m still a “new” Pagan, trying to figure out where I stand and just how it is I’m supposed to worship the deities of my choice–and also? I need to clean a toilet.
Yesterday, I whipped up a little car protection/air freshener charm while out in the front yard. The making of it was pretty simple: braid some lemon grass, pluck four sprigs of lavender, weave the whole thing together into a loose spiral, all while singing “Keep my family safe and dry” over and over again. It sounds easy, peasy, fresh and breezy, but in reality, it involved a whole lot of me saying “No” and saving kids from ants and realizing that the lemon grass wouldn’t work as a string, nor would sweet grass, nor would a pine needle, so then I had to race back to the backyard garden and grab some twine, race back in time to stop Elf from standing on the seat of the Big Wheel, and so on and so on. Then I had to worry about the old charm on the rearview mirror, which wasn’t technically a charm, I suppose, as it was made by my sister-in-law, Hippie Chick (HC), who isn’t Pagan, but it became a sort of talisman for bravery, so I think it probably soaked up some good old magic.
I decided to burn the old charm on our fire pit in the backyard, which of course meant herding the kids into the yard, finding a lighter, grabbing some kindling, digging oak tree seedlings out of the sandbox, shooing away a spider, laying the charm down, trying to get it lit with a wind at my back, shooing Elf out of the firepit, asking Giant to get more kindling, taking a huge stick away from Giant…you get where this is going?
I work nights, so I can’t do my rituals and Tarot at night. I can’t bear to do more than tidy up, drink tea, and work on fiction in the morning, and because I’m not sure how exactly to articulate most of what I do, it’s not something I feel right about doing in front of the kiddies just yet. (Never mind the horror of spilled wax, bent cards, and general chaos that seems counterproductive.)
I get the feeling that Mother is grinning at me through all of this. I try to remember, every time a dove coos, that I need to keep a smile on my own face as I walk on this path.
What do you do to balance out the need for ritual with the demands of motherhood?
Wow. Christmas was just…weird this year. I guess I was a lot more aware of the commercialism of it all because of my new path. And my family was seventeen kinds of insane. AND the Universe is trying to tell me something, but I’m not sure what it is.
First, my goodness, at the paper. Paper, paper EVERYWHERE. Cheap, thin paper on our immediate family presents. Thick, lovely gold paper for the Santa presents. Paper in the cards. Paper in the napkins at my families’ houses. And the plates. It. made. me. crazy. For my part, I put presents (magazine subscriptions, spiced nuts, cocoa mix) in cloth bags. I also tried to save cloth ribbons from the presents…AND…somebody threw them away. ARGH. The problem is that even though I vowed that next year, we wouldn’t wrap Santa presents and I’d only wrap in cloth, I still have two whole rolls of paper in my closet that I really don’t want to waste. Ugh. What is a good tree hugger to do in this case?
Also, even though I told all and sundry that I was trying to cut down on plastic and clear junk out of my house and that I needed glass and metal utensils…my kids now have their very own plastic playground. Made in China, of course. And my mil got me a set of candleholders. That she had to have known that I would NEVER use. She would use them, filling them with FAKE potpourri (I swear. Apple slices and orange pieces carved from resin in a dish in her bathroom. Bizarre.) But not me. Although I have to say that the idea of using the candleholders in some rituals makes me grin. But that snarky bitterness can NOT be good for my magic, yo. So I’ll have to head back to whatever tchotchka store she got them at and return them. Maybe I can get some candles…I’m trying to be grateful and peaceful and zen about it, but it just slays me that people wasted money, paper, gas, and precious time getting me presents that I can’t or don’t want to use. Sigh.
Then the Universe starts smacking me upside the head on Christmas night. We were gathered at my mil’s house, chilling out after an evening of unwrapping plastic stuff and eating no fewer than four casseroles (green bean, corn, sweet potato, and squash…my lima beans felt naked.) And TS brings up vacation planning. For almost ten years, we’ve been traveling to a certain island in Florida. It is one of MY places, a place where I’m close to the person I really want to be. When I go running there, I run strong. When I write there, my muse is loud and clear. And we go there every year around the fourth of July. Anyway, TS’s youngest sister says, “I’m not going to Wonderful Island. I don’t like the water, I don’t think it’s worth the money.” And it comes out that everybody in TS’s family had already discussed going elsewhere in Florida and that they had decided that Wonderful Island was out. Oh, I was pissed. First, they hadn’t included us in the discussion. And then when they did discuss it with us it was like, “Well, do what you want. Honestly, we don’t care about spending any time with you at all. So there.” (And my TS’s older sister said, “You have to be adventurous in life.” Bite me.)
Then my mother calls today to tell me that at my family’s Christmas dinner, everybody decided that it would be a great idea to rent a chalet in the mountains and have Christmas dinner catered. Uh. What? Because A), nobody has money, honey, in my family. And B), although we probably wouldn’t have gone anyway, because it’s just so hard to travel to make everybody happy at the holidays, there is NO way that we would ever drive five hours on Christmas day to have a meal that somebody else made. NO. WAY. And my mother, upon refusing my offer to cook Christmas dinner for everybody, said, “Oh, Vitk. Where is your sense of adventure?”
Here is where the whole “Universe speaking to me” thing comes in. Am I just a stick in the mud in that I want to build traditions for my family? I don’t want my children to not have a sense of stability and importance that I feel should surround holidays. When I was a child, the lives of my brothers and I revolved around two events: our family reunion in July and our Christmas dinner at my grandmother’s house. And I want my children to have that sense of expectation and excitement. And for the life of me, I don’t know how to do that with our families. Does wanting to share family time in the same place at the same time make me non-adventurous?
On the witchy front: I tried to call down the moon when I was at my parent’s home. However, the pump from my parents’ pool was on and horridly loud. And when I went to the garden to get away from it, I realized that a concrete slab for an unbuilt pool house was on top of the herb patch. And when I tried to get to the pasture by walking around the pool, I stepped in an icy puddle of something. And when I decided to walk down the driveway to get a good spot by the pear tree, a large dog ran up in the yard and scared the crap out of me. So I blew a kiss to the moon and called it a night.
Hope your holidays were lovely. I’m hoping next year to make mine a bit more meaningful and also to incorporate a bit more of my witchy beliefs. I’m thinking of using this as a sort of guide. What do you think?