Friday, November 21, 2014

Tis The Season - 2

Blessings Darlings!

Hunger is every less visible than most issues.  One in 6 Americans can't afford basic healthy food, especially fruits and vegetables.  (http://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/impact-of-hunger/hunger-and-poverty/hunger-and-poverty-fact-sheet.html).  Even when folks are on food stamps, virtually none get the 'full amount' (roughly $140 a month for an adult).  Many who are in need have no access to stores that sell food at a discount, due to not having cars, due to living in food deserts, due to long expensive bus trips to get to such stores, due to living in rural areas, etc.

Would you know if your neighbors are hungry?

Most of the cheap foods are very high in carbohydrates, even the 'healthy' ones such as rice and beans.  Which is a huge problem since the rates of diabetes among the needy are astronomical - and related (http://www.diabetesincontrol.com/articles/diabetes-news/10126-poverty-a-leading-cause-of-type-2-diabetes-studies-say). 

Food banks, of course, are just as inaccessible, for the same reasons, as discount grocery stores are. And the food available at them is usually the same high-carbohydrate cheap foods noted earlier.  Fresh and frozen foods are usually not available at all.  Pasta, beans, rice - sure. Often canned tuna. Very rarely canned ham.  Oh, did I mention the rates of high blood pressure and kidney disease among those in need? (http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/07/30/2381471/four-ways-poverty-impacts-americans-health/). 

Combine those facts with the lack of utilities (or total homelessness) noted in my previous blog. Cooking a pot of dried beans, when you have no electricity/gas, is ... an issue.  Cooking a pot roast, even if you could grab a reduced price one, is a huge issue.  So, sure, people are going to use their food stamps/scant cash to buy foods that don't need to be cooked or refrigerated.  Lunch meat to be eaten that day.  A quart of milk to have on cold cereal, rather than the far less expensive gallon of milk.  Fast food.  Etc.

Multi-levels problems.

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tis the Season

Blessings Darlings!

Tis the Season ... to discuss hunger, homelessness, and related issues.

I live kinda rural, so homelessness is relatively hidden in my area.  You don't walk by folks sleeping on grates here, unlike when I hung out in DC.  Which is NOT NOT NOT to say that homelessness is not a problem here.  Many an overgrown, vine covered 'abandoned' house is being lived in here, it's just hard to know.  A roughly put together shelter of scrounged plywood, out in the woods, is going to be pretty invisible.

And certainly even when folks do have homes, many have no utilities.  You might never realized that your neighbor has had their electricity cut off a year or more ago. 

Even among my coworkers, being without running water isn't unusual.  Whether they live in a house that just never has had running water, or their well has gone dry, or the well has been contaminated (welcome to West Virginia, where mining waste is EVERYWHERE), or it has been cut off, it's reality.  Perhaps this is the most 'visible' thing in the area ... if you look for it.  The old people in line in front of you at the dollar store, getting all those paper plates and cups? They don't have water, they can't wash 'regular' stuff (they don't have garbage pick up, either, and will burn these after use).  The folks you see carrying jugs of water from the tap outside the Post Office?  Yes, them, too.

Keep your eyes open.

Frondly, Fern


Friday, June 27, 2014

It Happened Again

Blessings Darlings!

As y'all already know, I make a lot of things from scratch, or almost-scratch.  Like - my husband LOVES having Kahlua in his coffee in the evening.  He does this three or so times a week.  Kahlua is a pricy bitch, so I make my own.

And when we moved I lost my usual recipe.

No problem, go online and find another (the original was pulled from being online, because it was shared from a book without the author's permission, and the author or publisher said "Oh, HELL no!")

Since I've made stuff several times, it wasn't hard finding a recipe that I could tell had about the right proportions of coffee to sugar.  But in looking over the recipe, I could tell that the person who POSTED it (to Wikihow, which my protection software identified as a 'malicious' site) clearly had never made it. 

The first clue was that s/he said it would make about a quart of Kahlua-substitute.  Well, yes, the recipe called for 4 cups of liquid.  But the 4 1/2 cups of solids added, which dissolved into the liquids, DO TAKE UP SPACE.  Not one cup of space per cup of sugar/instant coffee, but enough space that the recipe made 6 cups, not 'about a quart'.

The second clue was that, since the mix was 50% higher in volume that was presented, the proof (alcohol content) of the finished product was going to be WAY too low given the relative volume of alcohol the recipe called form. 

To get around these problems, I used nice high-proof Everclear instead of most of the rum that was called for, and used brown sugar instead of white sugar to replace some of the flavor the rum would have brought to the recipe.  I could wing it, because I have experience and mad math skillz.

This isn't only a problem in online recipes, BTW.

And, for you Pagans/witches/wiccans out there - it's not only a problem in cooking.

But more on THAT in a future post!

Frondly, Fern

Monday, April 14, 2014

Start Menu - Part 3 - Energy Work for Beginners

Blessings Darlings!

In preparing to write this segment, I pulled more than a dozen books off my bookshelves to see what THEY said about beginning energy work.  The books, none aimed at  adepts or masters or anything, ranged from Women's Spirituality to Qabala to Ceremonial Magic and beyond, and since I couldn't find my copy of The Spiral Dance yet I looked at the index of that one online.





Only three of those books addressed energy work at all.  A fact that drives me a little crazy (or crazier, depending on your frame of reference).  That's because, for me, being able to sense and direct energy is one of those fundamentally important things in both  magic and spirituality.  Directing energy because you are going to use it to make magic circles, to power your magic, to send offerings/etc to the God/dess/es, and so on, and sensing energy because you'll want to do divination, to sense the return of what you send out, to actually know if a God/dess is responding, and so on.

Interestingly, all three authors have strong Wiccan roots.  The authors and books are Scott Cunningham in "Wicca, A guide for the solitary practitioner", Starhawk in "The Spiral Dance", and Ivo Dominguez, Jr. in "Casting Sacred Space: The Core of All Magickal Work" as well as in his book "Spirit Speak:  Knowing and Understanding Spirit Guides, Ancestors, Ghosts, Angels, and the Divine." [Disclosure - Ivo is one of the elders of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, and I'm a member of the Assembly.  I also consider him to be a good friend.  Still, I claim to be unbiased in these book recommendations] [and I paid for almost all my copies of these books, except for one of my copies of "Castings" which I won from Weiser books - and that was an updated version of the book, after I already bought and loved the original version]

Everyone 'feels'/'senses' magical/spiritual/psychic energies differently.  To some it feels electrical, others hot/cold, others get visual cues, some smell things, some hear it, some get odd body feelings, etc.  You'll figure out over time what cues you into it in the general world around you.

For today, I'm going to talk about first steps in feeling and shaping energy.  Yes, fans, we're talking about psi balls! 

Here's a nice online tutorial: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Psi-Ball

It would be especially good if you can practice that with a partner, but the #1 point is just to practice.

Frondly, Fern





Friday, April 11, 2014

Start Menu - Part two - Focus your mind.

Blessings Darlings!

Having addressed your mundane life in the last "Start Menu" post, let's move on to another issue, focusing your mind/attention. 

No magic here yet - it all comes down to practice!

The most common technique that is used to develop mental focus is meditation.  This is not necessarily the same goal that some Eastern types of meditation have, although the techniques may be the same.  You are learning focus, not trying to still/obliterate, your mind. 

For this, pick a form of meditation and ... do it daily.  Twice daily would be even better.  Mantra mediation is fine.  Counting your breaths (usually to 3 or 5, then going back to one) is fine.  Focusing on a flame, walking your lawn digging dandelions, Zen walking meditations, studying the edge of a sword ... there are countless ways to meditate to focus your mind.

You mind WILL wander.  The goal is to have your mind wander less often over time.  So keep track of how often you get distracted.  Maybe have a bowl of dry beans, and remove one from the bowl every time your mind goes off on its own.  After you've finished meditating, count how many beans you've removed from the bowl.  Over time the number will go down. 

I've never hit zero myself, but I've gotten better over time.  You will, too.

Frondly, Fern

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Start Menu - Part 1 - Mundane

Blessings Darlings!

So you want to get started in magic/Pagan spirituality/mysticism/whatever.  Congratulations!  But where do you start?  I take a Maslovian view of this - that you start with the mundane.

Therefore, you'd start with things like:

     * Eating right
     * Getting some daily exercise
     * Getting and keeping your house clean
     * Addressing any physical health issues you have
     * Addressing any mental health issues you have
     * Addressing any financial issues you have
     * Get in the habit of making a daily/weekly/monthly (at least these three levels) to-do list, and work that list.
     * Addressing any other outstanding mundane issues you have.  IRS?  Legal issues? Relationship issues?  Housing issues?  There are tons of things that fit in here.

You don't have to totally solve all your mundane issues you have before starting magical/spiritual working, but you have acknowledge them, and be working on a plan to deal with them.

Why?  For several reasons.

First of all,, these actions reduce major distractions in your life/day. Reducing distractions gives you more time and energy to do the work you want to do.  There are plenty of guided meditations out there that begin with "put all your daily concerns on a scroll, and put it aside for safekeeping.  You'll be able to pick it up again after you do this exercise."  If you already have them on a physical (or electronic) list, and already have started dealing with those concerns, it really is easier to put them aside for a time.

Second, you're a beginner.  Much of the work you'll be doing in the future will revolve around developing your will.  All of these things do that, too.  And unlike a lot of the internal will-work you'll be doing ... these goals are easily measurable.  Did you or did you not eat 5 or more servings of fruit and veggies today?  Did you or did you not exercise?  Are your dishes done?  All yes or no answers.

That's the mundane starting list.  Go for it!

Frondly Fern

Monday, April 7, 2014

Prepare Ye The Way of the Lords (and Ladies)

Blessings Darlings!

I'd like to expand on a theme I've touched on before, over in http://fernsfronds.blogspot.com/2009/06/intimacy-with-gods.html

I'm in a lot of Facebook Pagan groups.  It could well be argued that I'm in too many Facebook Pagan groups.  At any rate, I see recurring themes in all the groups, one taking place around spell-begging (asking strangers online for spells for X, Y, or Z, or even for ANY spells) the other around 'how do I know what God/dess is my patron?"

The first is, well, spell begging in general. I get that they are beginners (at least usually they admit to being beginners, once you ask them.  The others, who have claimed to be experienced in other threads but somehow need help from strangers online now ... ahem.)  But, really folks, it's like never having played the piano before, then one day renting piano and walking into a music store saying "I want the sheet music for the best music out there!"  You're going to be handed, say, the Rach 3 (Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3) ... and you're going to fail at it.  Because you don't have any of the basic skills, from finger work on, needed to play it. 

The second issue is, in fact, almost identical.  It's a beginner, without much knowledge in ... anything ... who wants to be aligned with any God or Goddess, or thinks that they are being called by some God or Goddess. So they ask strangers online who their Patron is/should be.

I understand the yearning.  In both cases.  But you gotta do the basic work.  You have to learn basic energy work to be able to do spells (in my never humble opinion, and, hey, this is  MY blog).  You have to work on yourself, to make yourself not just able to HEAR the Gods, but to be worthy of them paying any mind to you. 

I'll get into those basics in another post.  Probably one for tomorrow.  Maybe not - I work tonight, and I may not have time.  Damn, I'm such a tease, or at least too damn busy for my own good.


So, a little musical inspiration:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuUl522_8jQ

Frondly, Fern