Such a Saturday Stereotype + a Sunny Soup Stock

I’m excited to be back from my blogging break! I turned in my last paper for my last credit of grad school (Babes! This is so stupid… I had 1 single credit left to graduate and have been putting it off for months but finally just barreled through my last paper and now it’s official. #imdone #fuckyougradschool ). And I at least got caught up to a side gig project. And work is still super busy, but things are pretty much on track so for the first time in two months I feel like I can breathe for a few days.

So I spent the morning being SUPER stereotypical. Helped (that’s debatable tho….) my family get out the door, turned on Wardruna, made some coffee, put in laundry (threw a few dried Calendula petals in there to help wash off the funk), cleaned and reset the kitchen altar (aka windowsill because almost anything can be made into an altar), refreshed the daily offerings on the family altar, started the (magical of course, and super simple) veggie stock in the crockpot, lit an offering to Circe and fumigated the house, and did pestle work while I looked at the incense smoke and meditated for half an hour. Such a fucking stereotype. And all that is to say that sometimes the most mundane things we do can bring us closer to a daily magical practice, or that sometimes double (or triple) tasking can still meditative. It’s like the ultimate graceful juggling of the 2 of pentacles. Takes practice, and certainly we can’t do it all the time, but sometimes it’s the best we’ve got. And sometimes it’s all we need.

Anyways, I digress. And here’s a simple spell/ kitchen witchery tip for us hella busy witches who are always multi-tasking.

 

A Sunny Soup Stock

I cook with a lot of vegetables in our house, and while we compost, we also save a LOT of the leavins and make vegetable stock, which can be the easiest thing in the word if you have access to a freezer and a slow-cooker. When you’re prepping + cleaning vegetables throw anything that would be decent in a vegetable stock in a reusable seal-able bag and throw it on the freezer. Hint: leave out asparagus (it just gets weirdly funky…), delicate leafy greens like lettuce, and other shit that goes in the compost but not soup like coffee grounds. Keep things like onion peels, kale stems, carrot tops and greens, herbs, etc. Throw veggie scraps in the freezer bag until it’s full (I use a gallon bag because it’s the perfect size for my larger crockpot). Once the bag is full, just empty the whole solid frozen veggie scrap block into your slow-cooker, and add water* until the veggies are just covered (or you have an inch of room to the top edge), turn the slow-cooker on low for about 6 hours, strain out liquid and you have fresh veggie broth. Here’s where we get magical: before you get into making stock, make some sun charged water–I do this by filling up a clear bottle (around 750 ml) with water, dropping in a clear quartz point, singing some praise to Sunna, and setting it outside on a sunny afternoon for a few hours. Then take the quartz point out. That’s it. That’s how I make sun water. it’s easy and you can save it for later, make ice cubes, drink it immediately… whatever. *So before you add in tap water to your crockpot, throw in sun water first. For an extra punch make your sun water and broth on a Sunday (but ya know, we do the best we can, and it still works even if it’s made on a Saturday…) This is great to use during the winter when making soups, rice, cornbread dressing, or whatever else might require vegetable broth. Why? Well, I know it’s not the same everywhere, but in the Pacific Northwest it gets real grey for about 9 months and everyone gets SAD and it can be kinda awful. Using vegetable broth made with sun-infused water can bring us the warmth of the sun in our meals. So thank Sunna for her gifts and warmth when you use your broth to cook, digest the warmth when you take a bite, and feel the warmth radiate from within.

Happy witching, cooking, and multi-tasking!

xoxo

 

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Welcome, October

Whoooo hooo!! Time for my (and many others) favorite month! Outwardly, it means getting less side-eye when wearing spirit-board leggings and or my resin quail skull necklace. It also, a little weirdly, means I get a little nicer. I find myself saying shit like “Oh, you want a free 3-hour tarot reading? sure, why not!” or “Here’s the perfect combination or crystals and herbs, I think, for you… what’s that, you want me to make you a charm bag? no problem!” Or, in other words, the outward emotional labor of witching in October verges on, well, fun. Also! Halloween parties! Costumes! Old classic witchy movies! Silly B-grade horror movies! Down right terrifying movies! So. Many. Movies!

But October is so much more than the outward display and fun. For me, it’s a time to make a concerted effort to focus inward by refocusing on pursuits like knitting, weaving, writing or drawing left ignored under the summer sun, to get the last of the household duties tied up and put to rest as the earth seems to go to rest, and to (re)connect with and step my game on honoring ancestors (by blood or choice or respect). It’s a chance to make a concerted effort to honor them, in some way, every day (and it’s, of course, also the month where they are most likely to answer back). My dreams get wild in the fall.

Since moving I still haven’t fully gotten all my little altars up everywhere, but I wanted to make sure my house altar was cleaned and pretty close to finished by October 1st. My house altar is literally a house (thanks, Ikea!) and I love it! It includes photos of my blood ancestors, trinkets from dead relatives and friends, and, in one room, trinkets and photos of my living family. There are many schools of thought on mixing altars to the dead with altars to the living, and I sit in the camp that it’s just fine, and more powerful, in some ways, to have the ones we love(d) in close proximity watching over us. Even so, our little family household is in a room to it’s own, connected, yet disconnected.

housealtar

It still needs a little work, but some photos and trinkets need to be tracked down, and as they pop up they’ll be added. One of the aspects I wanted to honor in my house alter was hard truths–there’s a lot of history of mental illness and substance abuse throughout my blood lines. There’s also extreme resilience (and stubbornness) and grit. The blue of the candle is to bring some peace and harmony, and the raw amethyst and rose quartz (both which I haven’t used on a regular basis in a long time, but am trying to soften myself to and be more open to using) is to bring some healing, balance, and clarity to all of us, living and dead. Whiskey in my great grandmothers teacup is for all us femme spitfires. And fresh water because it’s the least I can do. My core family space also houses lavender from our wedding, a peach pit (love and protection), and tiger iron (protection and clarity).

What does October mean to you, and how are some ways you honor that?

Working with Ancestor Dirt

On a shelf in my alter-bookcase (literally what it sounds like…a bookcase where some of the shelves serve as resource + supply storage, and where some of the shelves serve as alters) sits my great-grandmother’s candy jar. It’s a common thing, made of depression glass, but it’s pretty. I remember it on our kitchen growing up, holding conversation hearts near St. Valentine’s Day. When we moved into our current house I rescued it from thrift store donation, knowing its new purpose as I brought it inside. So now it sits on a shelf in my alter-bookcase, and holds ancestor dirt. Probably not what my great-grandmother ever intended, but hey, at least it’s still hanging out with family!

It took me years to begin using ancestor dirt in my practice (for reference, I am 35. I started practicing magic in high-school, and it’s been a winding process with pauses and sprints and changes of directions all along the way. It’s still that way. And I’m okay with that… but more on that another day). And I certainly didn’t waltz into a graveyard one day and just grab a handful of dirt and be on my way. When I started entertaining working with ancestor dirt I had already been paying respects by helping tend some of the family graves for years. One branch of my family ancestors are highly concentrated in a small-town cemetery in central Washington. There are hundreds of, if not over a thousand, living family members in the surrounding areas. But there are only a handful of us who go out yearly and tend graves.

So by the time I committed to working with dirt as a form of working with energy (as opposed to exclusively working esoterically with energy), I was already familiar with the physical site, who was where, familial relationships, and the energy strengths and weaknesses of my resting family. And now when I tend graves, I am the only one who brings gifts other than flowers (not that I am docking flowers at all–my living relatives that also tend graves bring flowers from their gardens, including roses started from the bush our matriarch brought from Germany over a century ago. That’s pretty witchy in itself).

I am lucky to have record and knowledge of these things. I know who to ask for dirt if I am looking for feminist glass-ceiling breaking energy. I know who to ask for dirt if I need strong empathy. Or need some help buckling down and doing hard work. Or creating strong foundations at home. Or who is simply not going to be OK with their dirt being used.  Like, EVER. All of this comes from years of chatting with my ancestors as I pulled weeds from around their headstones and brushed dirt from carved names and inscriptions.

I’ve also learned to not take more than I need, to ask, to listen for answers, to spend some session just tending, and to bring libations to offer. I’ve learned that although I have blood relations I work with, ancestors, or the energy from the dead that I might choose to work with do not necessarily have to be blood relatives. They just have to be someone I have a relationship with, either before or after death. And a solid relationship at that, based in tending and learning + remembering. I’ve learned to walk out of graveyards backwards, sprinkling salt on the threshold as my feet cross, as a form of respect. And to bathe afterwards, which i usually do after most magical work. working with my ancestor’s energy through dirt has been, like all things witchy for me, a slow and reflective path, but so very worth it. And it’s helped me to recognize being a witch means to not always work in safety and comfort. And that’s how it should be.

Ostara Tarot Unboxing

It took me a bit longer than expected to get the Ostara Tarot, a collaborative deck by Vancouver, B.C. art school friends Molly Applejohn, Eden Cooke, Krista Gibbard & Julia Iredale. It was a classic comedy of errors, but the deck finally arrived. Maybe I was still a little butt-hurt from the months it took to get the deck, but I’m not quite as pleased with it as I thought I would be.

OstaraVideoScreen

As a fellow Vancouver, B.C. art school grad, I want to like it more than I do, perhaps out of some feeling of camaraderie. But I don’t. Which isn’t to say I don’t like the deck, or will be getting rid of it any time soon. The deck is cohesive. It flows calmly through the fool’s journey, and the overall vibe is one of calm. But a resolute calm, one that stands strong and quiet during the conflict that surrounds. Which makes sense as the deck is named after the vernal equinox which leads cold winter into spring.

Ostara2

A few of my favorite cards in the deck include the two of cups, represented by birds, the ten of swords showing a pierced humpback whale (not enough to destroy them though, I think), and the 4 of pentacles, showing a rabbit wearing an eye patch in a boat with her riches.

The images I most connect to are the animal representations. The human representations in the deck, on the other hand, at time ride that fine line between appreciation and representation, and appropriative stereotypes. It’s also pretty heteronormative. I would connect more to the deck if the humans were left out all together and the Ostara Tarot had just been an animal based deck.

Ostara1

A few more cards in the deck I am drawn to include the ace of swords with a mouse perched on a sword sticking out of a skeleton’s ribs, the world, breaking apart in space, the queen of pentacles, a warrior queen holding her babe close, surrounded by her shield, animals, and drying herbs and flowers.

The deck itself is standard tarot deck size. It’s beautifully printed on sturdy weight paper and gloss coated. And it has silver gilded edges. The guidebook and box are high quality as well, and I’ve found the cards physically easy handle. All in all, I’m going to give this deck a chance, and be open to where that road leads. I’m just a little bit disappointed for a deck I was really looking forward working with.

Cutting Cords Under the Full Moon

Under the last full moon I carved out time for myself and worked through a ritual I had been putting off (or quietly and slowly preparing for, depending on perspective). But the time to go through with the ritual was at hand, otherwise I thought I may never actually do the damn thing.

So on a quiet night, with the full moon shining (and partially eclipsed somewhere in the world), ripe with intentions of letting go and setting new courses, I set out to cut cords with someone, who, for quite a long and significant amount of time, was one of the most important people in my life.

That’s a hard thing to do. To intentionally cut energetic bonds build over almost two decades of support (turned sour). It was a slow spiral, and it’s taken me almost a year since the last time we spoke to face this ritual. But on the last full moon I knew it was time. So I gathered supplies, including the last note this person send me, cast a circle and got down to business.

The process hurt, but it was also incredibly cathartic and releasing. And the next day our household caught a stomach bug and I spent almost a week sick, as my body purged itself of everything. A nasty pimple also showed up on my chest, almost over my heart. In some ways, my body was just purging itself of toxins. all. at. once. yaaaaaay…..

I digress. Cutting cords is a deeply personal experience, and not something to be taken lightly. It can physically hurt. It can trigger the very person you are trying to cut cords with to get into contact with you again. It can be totally necessary to letting go and moving on. And it can be powerfully releasing. Just be sure-footed if you’re going to go through the act of cord cutting so you don’t stumble and fall.

Below is my ritual. Use it if you like, in it’s entirety or as inspiration. Or don’t. Up to you. Either way, I hope you find whatever ways you need to move on from relationships that aren’t supportive.

Supplies:

  • A black candle
  • Clear & Cut oil (Banishing oil will do, or even lemon essential oil)
  • Picture or memento from person whom you are cutting cords
  • 6” piece of black cord
  • Sharp knife or anthame
  • Fireproof bowl (I use a mini cast-iron cauldron)
  • Water in case you need to control flames
cordcutsupples

Supplies for my cord-cutting ritual, including a memento and my selenite wand.

Spell:

Sit in a quiet space. During a waning moon, or even better, a lunar eclipse, to inspire letting go. Cast a circle, and call your deities, spirits, directions, elements, etc. if you wish.

Hold the length cord and meditate on the joy this person brought to you. Picture your favorite memory of them. Visualize the cord that was forged between the two of you through your actions and interactions. Sit with this for as long as you need.

When you feel ready, breathe deep and come back to the present. Anoint and light the candle.

Focusing on the candle and holding the cord in your hands meditate on the reason you want to cut all ties to this person. Think about the events that lead to this decision. Face any doubts head on, seeing them for what they are. Visualize yourself telling the other person this relationship is over. And visualize yourself walking away.

When you are ready, breathe deep and come back to the present.

Take the cord and cut it in half. In the fireproof container place half the cord and the memento or photo. Light them on fire.

As you watch these tokens burn say the following:

“I burn this cord to release all connections to ______. I let you go now. I allow myself to let you go. And I forgive myself for any wrongdoings I have done, or pain I have caused, conscious or unconscious”

(If you want to say all or part of the following sentence, it is, of course, your choice. Sometimes moving on without forgiveness is necessary.)

“I forgive you for any wrongdoings you have done, or pain you have caused, conscious or unconscious.”

As the token(s) start to burn down say the following:

“No longer do our steps move in time. I release ________ from all ties to me, and I am released. I allow wisdom and light to fill these empty spaces that are left within me as I let go.”

Sit and feel the ties unraveling (this can be quite painful) as the fire dies down. Feel the empty spaces filling with the light and wisdom of your own strength or the strength of that around you that you have invited in when casting the circle.

Sit for as long as you need.

When the fire is out and cool, close the circle, thanking and releasing anyone, element, etc. you called into your circle.

Dump the ashes in water flowing away from you (river, stream, a gutter with running water, etc). You can either keep your section of cord as a reminder of why you have cut these cords, or bury at the edge of your property (or even in a potted plant in your window or on your balcony if you live in an apartment) to create a protective barrier.

Gaiman’s Norse Mythology: A Witchy Summer Beach Book

NorseMythology_Hardback_1473940163The days are getting shorted here in the Pacific NorthWest, but it’s still summer and we’ve got at least another good 6 weeks of warm weather before the rain begins to fall. Which means a few more trips to the rocky beaches where I can prop myself up against a drifted log and read a book while my kid chases crabs along the tide-line. My perfect beach book consists of casual writing style and tone, an easy to digest story, relatable characters, and drama that isn’t tooooo close to home. And Gaiman’s Norse Mythology fits all of these categories, making it a near perfect beach read.

The stories aren’t new, of course, but Gaiman shows us these flawed deities through a his modern lens of tone and casual style, refreshing Norse mythologies and making them much more relatable than the 1200 BC prose from which they are derived. We are taken from creation to the end of the old gods and goddesses days in a choppy yet easy to follow flow. Gaiman shows the gods and goddesses in their fallible existence–their vanity, fierceness, selfishness, mortality, crassness, manipulation, and often indifference to the trails of humankind.

The book isn’t a comprehensive tome on Norse mythology by any means, and the stories lean masculine. But it is a little trail of breadcrumbs, a window lovingly cracked open inviting us in to explore. It’s a great witchy beach read, and perhaps as the season’s change, and we settle into a time for darker, richer stories, it acts as an arrow pointing us to a hearth-side reading of the Poetic or Prose Edda during the winter months.

Digital cleansing + cleaning spells

A few weeks ago I finished A Mystic Guide to Cleansing and Clearing, a lovely little book covering various cleansing and clearing magical practices. From physical space and body cleansing, to spiritual and energy clearing, this book is truly a little gem. I also read it while I was reading The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up (and there is something cathartic about reading both at the same time if you are thirsty for a massive cleaning binge of home and soul). But what about digital clutter? I can get rid of a ton of shit, tidy up things, grid my house with quartz, tourmaline and salt, align my chakra’s, etc. etc. etc. but I’m still going to have an anxiety attack when I log into my gmail and see the 300 unread and 1k+ emails hanging out that need to be filed or deleted.

And I think emoji spells (I am a big fan of pop-culture spell work…) are so totally perfect for digital cleaning, clearing, and cleansing! What could be more fitting? Here’s a few…

DigiEmojiSpells

In order: To find the strength to plow through an inbox over 1K and organize it • To keep spam out of your inbox (ya know, in addition to unsubscribing from e-lists) • Protection from unwanted communication • To spend less time in the digital realm

Happy digital cleansing, babes!

 

Sparks Vs. Breath

I met a good friend today for a little bite to eat (delicious carrot hummus on toast with radishes and herbs and pretty purple edible flowers). She’s amazing, and recently published an incredibly beautiful and insightful tarot deck (Dark Days Tarot). We’ve made a point to meet every few weeks, or once a month, for the last year or so, but the past few months have been rich with change and transition and we hadn’t seen each other in months. Which was much too long.

We caught up about life in general and inevitably our conversation turned to witchiness, as it always inevitably does. We were discussing tarot (another usual topic for us) and the various veins of thought regarding wands as fire + swords as air vs. wands as air + swords as fire. Swords are forged in fire, and trees (which wands are made from) literally create air, so there are obvious associations with these elements. And yet in the RWS tradition (on which I have many thoughts and feels, but that’s another post) the associations are flipped. And this is where our discussion found itself.

I started studying the Tarot in the RWS tradition twenty years ago, and my perception and perspective of the cards (and tarot in general) has changed greatly. But the RWS assignment of wands as fire and swords as air makes a great deal of sense to me. Wands (to me) represent the raw energy and intention. It is through wands which we throw out our intention when we cast spells. It is through wands which we throw out our sparks into the universe–the way in which we light the fires to guide our way to an end point. Swords, on the other hand, are sharp and calculated. Large swords take strength and skill and training to wield. I explain it like this: if you are performing a ritual in which you are cutting cords, you are perhaps cutting energetic cords that flow from you with either your hand (in a chopping motion) or an actual blade, or perhaps you are literally cutting a woven cord. Both actions are an act of cutting the energetic ties that bind you to another person. Both styles of the ritual mentioned above require a great deal of reflection and commitment. And anyway you cut it, the ritual is an intentional and intellectual act. And both require the act of slicing through the air. And thus it’s incredibly intuitive to me for wands to be connected with fire, and swords to be connected with air.

What do you think?