Thursday, May 30, 2013

Calling a Spade a Spade.

Blessings Darling!

Let us all say this in unison - Fern is not everyone's cuppa.  Did I hear all my Mountain Sisters (and I don't just mean Owl Mt, I mean all the Delicate Flowers of Appalachian Womanhood) snickering? 

I am an opinionated, wordy, judgmental, and precise bitch.  The same in person as I am online. Did I just hear an "AMEN" and "Preach it, sister" from Asheville?

I'm not the person who uses a lot of exclamation points, even tho' I have strong opinions.  Instead, as you may have noticed in the previous two paragraphs, I ask a lot of questions. I am not just interested in your conclusions, the 'what' you do, I am also interested in the 'why you do it part'. 

Some people seem to think that the 'why' part is an attack.  I find that view odd, to say the least (see, I CAN be diplomatic).  I assume that you have good reasons, even if I can't see them, and want to know what they are.  Because magical and life-skills THEORY matters and informs what we all do.

Yes, I think that what words you use matter, too.  If you make up your own definitions to words rather than using the meanings used in normative English and in the dictionary - then you are NOT actually seeking to communicate but to hide things or sound like you know more than you do. 

Did you notice above that I did NOT say that I was "not everyone's cup of tea", even tho' that is a commonly used phrase?  I'll tell you why - tea is a precise word, referring to a precise family of shrubs.

I'm not everyone's tisane, either, which is what you get when you made an infusion of other herbs.

So if you are easily offended, this is not the blog you should follow.  You probably shouldn't follow me on Twitter, or friend me on Facebook, either.

Because I'm going to continue to call a spade a spade.  And not a shovel.

Frondly, Fern

Can't Escape Classical Greece

Blessings Darlings!

Today the remarkable Suz and I went to the coffee shop to write.  As it happened, we were both writing about Hellenic Paganism.  Which isn't TOTALLY unusual for us, her being Hellenic and me being ... all over the board when it comes to blogging. 

The coffee shop features art for sale.  Some weeks we like the art more than other weeks, of course.  This week, the art was okay, nothing we'd buy if we had the money.  Until .... after writing a while I got up to stretch and looked at the inexpensive monographs by Susan Carney.  Lovely work, in general, and one got us all tingly.  We both took pictures of it to show others.  A monograph entitled "Minotaur", featuring a woman, and bull, a man ... some amount of overlapping.  Figuring out especially when the man and bull began and ended was not clear.

I may come back and buy it, but I'll need a frame for it.

The picture alone got us talking about an aspect of Ariadne we hadn't much considered before - that she is sister to the Minotaur that she helped Theseus kill.  In a sense, she helped him kill a part of herself.  What part of herself lay dead in the labyrinth when Theseus followed the thread back to her?

Gotta love it when you go out into the world and blog "Hellenic" - you're always going to find references and start you thinking!

Frondly, Fern

Addenum - after I got home the Chubby Hubby and I DID go back and buy the Minotaur monograph.  I will need to find a frame for it, of course, but at least we both agreed on a piece of artwork.  I want to put it up in the dining room.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Heat Wave Eve

Blessings Darlings!

An early heat wave is going to be starting here tomorrow.  Temperatures will be in the 90's and the humidity will be high for 5 days.  Therefore, I did some preparations to help reduce my electricity use during that time.

That means that today I totally caught up on the ironing, so I won't iron at all during the heat wave (the Spawn will, since he didn't iron his work clothes.  His choice).  The Spawn made blueberry muffins, and pizza for dinner tonight - we won't bake desserts during the heat wave, and will grill and/or pressure cook dinners.  Bread and rolls are about to go into the oven, so we won't bake those during the hot days.  We don't need the loaf bread at the moment, so that will go into the freezer for a few days.

Late spring allows me to do this.  The hot weather isn't unrelenting ... nor is the cold weather.  A little preparation, a little care to work with, not against, nature goes a long way right now.

Frondly, Fern

Monday, May 27, 2013

Nature Unaided Fails

Blessings Darlings!

I want a stang.  Y'all who are Pagans have seen stangs before - they are the 'staff with two or three points on the top'.  Here's a grand article about them  I have heard it can be used as a magical gateway, and want to try that out.  I have to admit I don't quite get how that would work, or why it would be different than using a 'regular' staff, or my staff with the antler on top. 

Today, a cold day with a seriously sharp wind, I moved from inertia into active on getting one.  Or co-creating one. 

We have a whole lot of Tree Of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) growing around here. It and I have decided that my stang will be of that wood.  While a import (and, let's face it, an invasive one at that) in the US it already has a mythos here.  Not only does it resist city pollution, but it's the tree that was the central image in the book/movie "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn".  And it grows fast, which is part of why it and I are working together on this.

Because while I WANT a stang out of this wood, that doesn't mean that the trees here have the formation I want ready.  Or at least ready somewhere that isn't 40 feet in the air.  So today nature and I started working together. 

I went out to the smaller of the two copses - the one my main altar and the huge holey stone is in - and started evaluating and conversing and building a relationship with the smaller trees.  I removed the side branch buds forming under 6 feet high on their stems. Once they get to be about 8 feet tall, I'm going to be pruning the main stem back about 2 feet, and letting two or three branches form and grow up, competing to be the main trunk.  Once those get to be a couple of feet tall, I will fell the tree and make the specialized staff.

You might have noticed that this is not an instant-gratification version of getting a magical tool.  No, this is a form a relationship, grow together, work together, THEN work to turn out a tool (and working to a freshly cut tree whose fresh sap can cause blisters).  This is taking time to build the right long-term relationship.  This is not 'shopping for a tool'.

It is the tree working on my nature, as much as me modifying nature.

This, my darlings, is the Great Work.

Frondly, Fern

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Witching Hour

Blessings Darlings!

There's a lot of references to "The Witching Hour" in popular culture.  Mundanely, it can refer to the time of day when things are at their worst - the rush time a job, the time of day when the newborn is ALWAYS cranky (that was 5:30 pm for the Spawn), that type of thing.  Sort of the inverse of Happy Hour, both in tenor and in the ability to have a drink during it.

The basic premise behind 'the witching hour' is that witches, ogres, demons, and all sorts of 'nasties' come out and play when all the adults circadian rhythms say 'sleep'.  And by 'adult', I really mean adult.  As in 27 or older, when the brain is fully developed. 

Here's what the adult body circadian rhythms are doing during the day

But, as you might guess, this post is going to look at that from the perspective of an adult Pagan/witch.  And when most folks talk about the witching hour for witches, they most often mean midnight (with a small number of people saying 3 am) being the 'best time' to do magic/rituals/whatever.

That's a nice theory.  It fits in very well with the lives of teens, who don't have the same circadian rhythms as adults, and usually feel the need to hide their witchcraft from their parents.

But the times that matter to most witchcraft are liminal times.  Liminal times are the 'times between'. The best known liminal time for most witches and pagans is Samhain - the Celtic 'New Year' that is celebrated on a day after the end of the old year and before the beginning of the new year.  Lliminal times go together with the liminal spaces we make when we cast a circle, as in the line so often used as part of circle casting "A place that is not a place, a time that is not a time, between the worlds and beyond".  A three-fold liminality!

What does liminality bring to the table?
What do you want it to bring to the table?  For me, in my worldview, it is a time when it is easier to manipulate energy.  Energy in these times is more fluid, not yet one thing or the next.  

These are the times I like to play.  

Everyday liminality
Every person has their liminal times. Your personal ones are the times each day when you are falling asleep and when you are waking up - you are in two worlds, and neither, at once.  We've all been there, probably within the past 12 - 24 hours.

Every day has it's liminal times.  Midnight is a modern version of a liminal time - until there were clocks, no one knew when it was midnight (at least without referencing the Big Dipper, humor me here).  More traditionally, the liminal times were and are the grey time before dawn and twilight.  Not yet the one state of night, nor the other state of day.  These are the times when traditional Witching was done.  

Every month liminality

The month, okay the LUNAR month has it's own liminality.  That occurs on the Dark Moon, the time after the moon has waned all the way, and before that first thin crescent of the Waxing/New Moon.  Just like Samhain is a day between the years, the Dark Moon is a few hours between the months.  For me, I use the 13 hours (one hour for the 13 lunar months of the year) before the astronomical New Moon.  

 Don't get me wrong
I don't limit my magic/ritual to liminal times.  For example, I cook at all times of day - I'm going to do my food magic every time I cook and not try to only cook at liminal times.  And as noted earlier, I create my own liminal time and space when I cast a circle.  But Ii don't blow off the every day or every month liminal times when I have some workings that I can do that don't have a set time frame.  Because I'm one of them Practical Pagans.

Frondly, Fern  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Charmed, I'm sure.

Blessings Darlings!

A recent question, not asked to me exactly, but posted online: "This is going to sound silly, but I love to have all my pieces with me, particularly the ones that function as jewelry, so my question is how do you pick which to wear? My stones help me regulate my emotions and I can't forsee [sic] what I'll need thoughtout [sic] the day. Any tips?"

Amulets probably go back almost as far as jewelry does.  Maybe farther, but my observations of children's brain development tells me that 'pretty' comes before 'symbolic' in their use of items, so that may be true of general human development as well.  And most humans being hoarders, the idea of 'the more the merrier' probably goes way back, too.  So humans have had to find ways to handle carrying around lots of amulets at once.

So humans made special necklaces and bracelets and sachets.

The idea of bracelets being used to hold special items is still common today.  They are called 'charm bracelets' - remember them?  Now the charms tend to be symbols of life events, like a charm representing each child born, or getting married.  But charging and then adding a wire-wrapped crystal or stone or tooth or whatever for a magical purpose is a natural way for a magic-user to move a charm bracelet back to, well, a bracelet of CHARMS. Of course, a this can be worn either as a wrist bracelet or an ankle bracelet and serve the same purpose. 

Creating your own necklace as a multi-purpose amulet is also a great option.  From delicate looking ones, using beads from a craft store (different sizes/colors of beads charge for different purposes) to the more old-school rustic ones, using, say, animal teeth with holes drilled into them for protection, along with (again) wire-wrapped stones and crystals (hard to drill holes in them yourself!) or plant seeds you've carefully made holes in and lacquered, or whatever materials, each type charged for its purpose.  Strung on nylon, leather, cotton, or your own hair. 

Even using charm bracelets and necklaces, you will still have times when you may want to use a sachet.  Sachets (which Byron Ballard, writer of "Staubs and Ditchwater" on Appalachian Rootworking assures me is to be pronounced 'sa-chet' here in the Appalachians, not "Sa-shay") are little cloth bags that you fill with 'stuff'.  The 'Stuff' can be herbs, roots, bits of stones/clay/crystals, whatever.  Sachets tend to be one-purpose items, the way I use them, and somewhat time-limited.  After the one, two, or four-week period I keep it with me, I will usually bury the entire bag, to return it to the earth. 

Do y'all need me to go into how to magically charge things?  My online group reading is making me think that a lot of folks haven't been taught that yet.  Please - let me know.

Frondly, Fern

Friday, May 17, 2013

Dream Worlds

Blessings, Darlings!

The more you track you dreams, the more you are likely to see familiar and repeating layouts and figures in your dream world.

I 'know' a person online who has been writing about her dream worlds for year. While it can make starting to read her blog difficult (in most places deep knowledge of what she's posted before really helps), there are times when story arcs begin and those places are where her blog is most accessible.

So, to enter a coherent and pretty well-mapped dream world of one individual, I give you Three Different Ways: at a place where the first three posts can stand alone, but the story arc comes back in a big way over the rest of the year.
 Frondly, Fern

Monday, May 13, 2013

When the Spawn's Away...

Blessings, Darlings!

Since the Spawn hasn't been getting many hours at work (they aren't getting many customers for day shift, so they call and tell him not to come in), he's covering not one but TWO other folks' shifts at work today.  So he's not home for dinner.  Which means ... the Chubby Hubby and I can have food he doesn't like without a care in the world!

Don't get me wrong - the Spawn likes most foods. But like all of us, there are a few he just doesn't care for.  Corned Beef, what we had tonight, is one of them.  And I bought 3 corned beef briskets at REALLY good prices around St. Patrick's day.  We had one of them last month, and I cooked the last two today.

And now that I've eaten dinner, I'm especially happy that I did.  Damn, they're good.

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Casting a Quarter-Cast Circle

Blessings Darlings!

I'm going to steal my own writings here.  I explained circle casting in a Facebook group today, and I'm cutting and pasteing that here now.  Enjoy!

A circle is one way of creating sacred space for magic or ritual or healing or whatever purpose. The 'typical' circle is a quarter-cast one, using either the 4 directions or the 4 elements as part of the structure. Details, as always, will depend on the magical group or tradition one trains in. Generically - you can start in the East. Using your finger, or an athame, or a wand, you ask for the power of that direction or element to ward the circle and add it's power to your working, then visualize a blue (usually) etheric flame pouring from it. You visualize that line of flame going from that quarter to the next, as you walk to the South. Repeat, asking that direction or element. Repeat for the next two quarters, and after you invite the North or Earth, continue the line of blue flame to the east again, completing the circle. At that point, change the visualization of the blue flame from a circle around you in one dimension to an orb around you in three dimensions.

You can get fancier. You can have altars at each of the directions. You can draw pentagrams at each direction and open a gate for the power of that direction to enter thru'. Etc.

After you do the hoodoo you do in the circle, you take the circle down by thanking the powers you invited and bidding them farewell. Some do this in the reverse order that the powers were called in, some don't. Use the same tool you used to cast to 'suck up' the energy of the blue flame as you dismiss. And ground that tool afterwards (ground yourself if you used your hand/finger, put the top of the tool to the earth if you used a tool).

Here are the words to two sung quarter-castings by Isaac Bonewits

The Calling, with the blue flame visualization, really is it for a simple circle casting.

The only tool needed is Knife/athame, or wand, or pointed finger.

Again, you can get fancier.  And you're going to get better results the more intimate you are with the elements/elementals and the directions.  

Any questions?

Frondly, Fern