Monday, October 19, 2009

Did I say "Chaos"?

One of my life goals is to 'lightly surf the waves of life's chaos'. I can't argue that the way to learn that is the same way one gets to Carnegie Hall - practice, practice, practice.

I don't recall asking for QUITE this much practice.

Mom's in the hospital, after a dizzy spell that she says is different than her previous ones. She may or may not get out today. I'm 750 miles away. I've left a message for her doctor to call me.

Son was driving on automatic and in the rain last Friday and didn't notice the car a bit in front of him slowing to turn left. He avoided hitting it, but skidded off the road. "Into a ditch" is how he reported it to us, a minute later. Well, only the front wheels were off the road, and the car has rear wheel drive. We reassured him, and he backed out and drove home. This was in the 'old' car, the 1992 Buick.

He wasn't driving the 'new' car - the 1999 Ford - because it is again stalling out in wet weather. We don't have the $ to again replace the sensor. And replacing it twice a year doesn't seem to be a great approach.

The past 4 days, really 4.5 days, have been wet and cold, so only the Buick was running reliably. If you consider having to shift into neutral at stop lights reliable (it needs a new transmission). So, with sunny and dry today I had looked forward to having a car myself and being able to get a bunch of prep chores done - buying gas, getting winterizing supplies, etc.

However, last night husband's main development computer stopped booting up. Some problem with password protection, but he doesn't USE password protection. Yes, fronds, Windows at its finest, bringing down a computer that doesn't even use the screwed up function. Oh, 2 or 3 weeks ago I asked husband to back up that computer. Did he? No. Did he take out the hard drive and back it up last night? No. He DID do that this morning.

While he did that, I got the gas, and then ran to the auto supply store (did I mention that the Buick started flashing an idiot light about coolant?) and, since the Dollar Store is next to the auto place, got glass cleaner refill and waxed paper that I needed and they had in stock. Then came home and put stuff away and put coolant into the Buick, just in time for son to drive off in that.

Husband still - and it's now after noon - hasn't left to get the computer repaired. I could have gotten a lot more outside the house chores done if I hadn't been waiting on him. Now, even if I had the car I can't go anywhere - I'm waiting on that call back from my mother's doctor.

I'm getting things done, but not the highest priority things, and not according to MY plans.

Well, enough of this. Time to get back on that surf board before the next wave comes.

Frondly, Fern

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Prep Update

I got a generator at a garage sale - from a previous neighbor, so I know it's been well cared for. Paid $250, it was $500 new, one today would be $800, and the same model is going for $400 on Craig's List.

Certainly I wanted one for a LONG time as part of our preps. But we also have a home-based business, software development and tools and electronics consulting, which grinds to a halt whenever we lose power. We haven't been losing power as often now as we used to, but it will only take 3 billable hours to pay off the generator, 4 if I include gas storage containers and gas.

I'm sure we looked plenty odd, walking/wheeling it home.

It will power the fridge and the lab/office Fridge, like the stove, toaster oven, regular oven, and microwave oven, takes so much power when running that only one of those five items can run at any one time on the 'kitchen' outlets on the generator. I suppose the space heater in the lab can run with most of the electronics - but probably not when trying to print anything out.

So, that's the good news.

In bad news, the budget crunch in my state and county means that they are reducing staffing at the fire department - our local station is going to have pretty random times of being unstaffed, or MAYBE staffed only be volunteers. Clearly that means longer response times, and almost certainly homeowners insurance rates going up.

Other news - just that I'm planning on drying apples this week, and maybe hard squash.

Frondly, Fern

Saturday, October 10, 2009

You Never Write, You Never Call

Any other neopagans of Jewish origin, or other folks familiar with borscht belt humor, will recognize that line as 'typical Jewish Mother/Grandmother". In THIS case it's a message from ALL you ancestors. They've notice that not many neopagans here in the US have ancestor altars.

I suppose that they are more common among us Ethnic Traditionalists, Revivalists, and Reconstructionists, but even for us they are not universal.

Sure, it's getting to be Samhain here in the US now, so lots of us are doing SOMETHING this month to note at least one ancestor. But in many cases it might only be a quick offering while on your way out to a Halloween party or after a ritual that is focused on divination.

Back in the day - you know, where all neopagans say that their roots are? - ancestors were acknowledged on a very regular basis. Maybe there were daily prayers and offerings, as Luisah Teish says was/in done in African-Caribbean traditions, but at the very least folks had an ancestors altar going and there was SOME regular schedule of attention. Even totem poles have more to do with family history/ancestors than our modern idea of 'personal totems' (oh, cool, ANOTHER idea for a future blog post!)

I freely admit that the altar set up I have is much influenced by my time in Ar nDraiocht Fein Druid Fellowship ( which I joined around 1992. I have 3 altars 'up' all the time. One is for Nature Spirits/Land, one for Ancestors/Sea (Celtic dead tend to be on islands on/in/of the Western Sea, except when the go to the Top of the World), and one for Gods/Sky I don't leave offerings or work with all parts of the triads daily, although I know I'd make 'better' spiritual progress if I did, but I do work with them all 'regularly'.

The ancestors' altar, an 19 inch square wood top of a stereo speaker plus the wall space around it, is simple. When I had more room the space over it had a LARGE graphic of my family tree, now I just have a few pictures and an African carving on the wall (I work with the ancestor back to Mother Africa), an offering plate, a candlestick and candle. Simplicity means less things to dust.

With this as a permanent set up, I have made it easy for myself to stop by the altar, light the candle, leave an offering, give them an update, and listen for their voices.

Perhaps this is the key to ALL things we do, spiritual, emotional, material, intellectual, etc - make it easy for yourself to do the work. Don't put obstacles in your way YOURSELF. Smooth the path that leads to Best Practices. Yeah, it's a lesson I'm still learning - most obstacles I run into are still self-inflicted. But I covered THAT back in Chaos Theory.

Bottom line: Call your Grandparents. They are waiting eagerly to hear from you, and tell you the stories of your collective past that have shaped your today, and continue to shape the future.

Frondly, Fern

Friday, October 9, 2009

Chaos Theory

As some of you know, I'm pretty active on Twitter. The 140 character nature of tweets is great when I only have a few minutes at a time during the working day, night, weekend .... well, my whole life.

On Twitter I follow over 500 people, picked semi-randomly. Most have some connection to survivalism/prepping, or pagan/wicca/witch issues, or guns, or environmental issues. Some I follow because they are members or staff of Stompernet, some I follow because they are locals. Some I follow because they are long time friends. Some I've followed almost at random. I'm not at all sure how I started to follow @ChicaJones, for instance, but I'm sure glad that I do.

I like the people I follow, even while I know that some amount of what we ALL post on Twitter, like all we do online, and in life) is a persona we affect.

It's like a far more intimate form of people-watching, for they add their own comments about t heir lives and what's happening in their world. For some their world is very intimate, for some it extends to all people/animals/the ends of the earth.

Sometimes I regret folling a person. Not because their tweets angered me or shocked me - anger is an instructive friend of mine, and I don't particulary shock easily. Not over politics - I comfortably follow folks on the far left, the far right, and all inbetween.

I unfollow because of how they handle chaos.

Chaos happens to all of us. Sudden thunderstorms wash out picnics. People forget that they were supposed to call us at a certain time. Children get sick or act ... like children. Sometimes we run our lives in ways that increases the chaos. We intend to pay bills, but don't manage to (even when we have money) and the phone is turned off. Some folks have repeated failed relationships with the same type of person, over and over. For whatever reasons, chaos happens.

I've noticed that I cannot emotionallyhandle watching people who feel that chaos is inflicted on them PERSONALLY by the world/others. The person who says she wants to be a writer, and planned to edit 11 short stories last month, but in fact only wrote 3 and edited none. Who is sure that it's the fault of all those around her for not supporting her, helping her, not being reliable. Who spends her free time tweeting at pop stars, playing Sims, napping, or vegging out when her toddler naps, is down for the night, or at her father's.

Or the man who takes someone messing up his name personally, or thinks that someone forgetting to cal him is practically 'enemy action' (enemy inaction????)

Not surprisingly, I find that I value Tweople who handle chaos well, who do NOT take it personally, who work hard, play hard, and surf the waves of life lightly.

Chaos Theory is a branch of mathematics which studies the behavior of certain dynamical systems that may be highly sensitive to initial conditions.

I think it's also a description of human function. Or, to quote the Magical Aphorism:"As above, so below - as the universe so the soul. AS WITHIN, SO WITHOUT." (Emphasis mine, duh).

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Prepping for Samhain

Samhain is coming to the northern hemisphere! Diminished and celebrated as Halloween by non-pagans, for many neopagans it’s one of the most important holy days of the year. Or not of the year, since technically it’s the day between the end of one year and the beginning of the next. At any rate, it’s the day when the veil between this world and the other worlds is known to be thin, and so we honor our dead ancestors.

Like all important events, getting the full spiritual experience of Samhain is easier if you do some preparation. And the more preparation you do, the better/fuller/more intense the experience.

So, Samhain being a Celtic based holy day, and the Celts being into triads, I posit that a great approach to Samhain is to take 9 days, a triad of triads, to prepare. What preparations to do on those 9 days? Take each day to open a dialog between yourself and one group of ancestors.

Day 1 – physical ancestors that you knew who have passed over. Those whose familial genes you carry. If adopted, add the family that made you one of their own.

Day 2 – physical/adoptive ancestors that you didn’t know who have passed over. They could well come forth at Samhain wit messages for you.

Day 3 – those who you knew that influenced you as you grew up who have passed over. Neighbors, pre-college school teachers, friends and their parents, clergy, etc.

Day 4 – Those who influenced your mind who have passed over. Authors, thinkers, statesmen, etc

Day 5 – those who influenced your spiritual path, who you knew and have passed over. Clergy, individuals, speakers, etc.

Day 6 – those who influenced your spiritual path but you did not know, and have passed over. Writers, tradition starters, those who you have learned about whose lives you try to emulate, etc.

Day 7 – Nature Spirits – because not only the ancestors might show up with messages at Samhain.

Day 8 – The Gods and Goddesses – again, because not only the ancestors might show up at your Samhain ritual.

Day 9 – Your Higher Self/Holy Guardian Angel/Spirit Guide/Patron Divinity – Well, you KNOW this one’s going to be there with you!

But, I hear someone asking, what do you DO on each of those days? Well, I’m not one for big Witchy set up. Make them a small offering – a tablespoon of barley maybe. Announce your intention – that you are because Samhain is coming, and you are there to open yourself to their inspiration. If it’s a day for folks you knew in life, maybe update them. Then listen. Take about 5 to 15 minutes. Then thank them, say you’re looking forward to anything they wish to tell you at Samhain. Leave the offering until the next day if you can. They will take whatever spiritual essence they want from it.

Now, don’t be surprised if one of the things you are told, either during one of these sessions or on Samhain, is that you should be honoring them more than once a year. But we’ll discuss Ancestor Altars some other day!

Frondly, Fern

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Using Ouija Boards

Blessings, Fronds!

Most forms of divination fall into one of two broad categories:

1. attempting to visually see future events (crystal balls, scrying, etc.) , or
2. interpreting symbols pertaining to the future (tarot, tea leaves, runes, etc).

In these forms of divination contact with the “Beyond” is mediated and indirect. With cards, bibliomancy, ogham staves, rune stones, etc. the contact is mediated by having to come thru’ your Higher Self/guide/whathaveyou and then guiding you to pull whatever card, land on whatever page with your hand, and further mediated by your interpretation. Inspiration to pull the card, not moving your hand and picking the card for you, and inspiration to help you interpret what you see or the symbols you pull, not spelling things out for you.

Ouija boards, on the other hand, are a different category – it’s far more direct contact with Some Thing Out There. Some thing that has enough access to you to communicate in the language you read and write in. Some thing that you are inviting into your room and allowing to move things around. But, seriously, moving things around is less a problem than it getting into your head enough to pick up the English language.

When using a ouija board, you use the board/planchette as a communication gateway to ‘Beyond’. Whether whatever you contact is moving the planchette or moving your hands on it, the being is there with you in the space. And at the very least it listens to your questions … or, if you expect it to answer unstated questions, the being has to access your mind. You throw open a gate, and invite Whatever Is Out There in to chat with you.

While ALL spiritual and magical activity increases your visibility on The Other Side, opening a gate and loudly announcing that you ready for visitors is similar to using Craig’s List to announce you are throwing a party Saturday night and including your address for everyone in the area to come. In short – it’s not the best approach to using this tool.

Some folks I’ve talked to have said “oh, I’ll be fine, I’m doing this in a magical circle”. Consecrated circles are great for many things – this is not one of them. They CAN keep things out – but they are using this WITHIN the circle, inviting Whoever INTO the circle. An open gate in a circle, you inviting What Ever in, makes the circle useless.

Some I’ve talked to have said “If your intent is pure, you need fear nothing”. I will note that those folks still avoid certain parts of town especially after dark, still lock their doors, and still have life/health/homeowners/car insurance. As above so below, folks. INTENDING to pay a bill is not the same as PAYING one. Magic, all types, is dangerous stuff, the stuff of change and transformation. Magic is about responsibility. This is not a time to slack on that.

Some have said to keep a talisman with you. They did not say a talisman aimed at what. Protection from something you’ve invited? Nor did they give any ideas on how to make one. “Just an idea”.

So, what am I saying? Not to use a ouija board? No, not really. I’m saying that you should treat it like the gateway that it is. Respect what you are doing.

Ward it.

Call upon some gatekeeping deity that you already work with (remember my “Intimacy with the Gods” blog post?) and ask that God/dess to guard the gate, letting only beings who will help you and tell you the truth through. Since you’re working with a Divinity that you know well, after you make the request you should be able to tell the change in energy when S/He arrives to ward. Then go ahead and use the board.

Now, not only do you have protection actually in place, you have some hope of getting the truth told to you. For, just asking some Being off the street for answers, how would you know if they were telling you the truth or messing with you? You wouldn’t even know it’s name, let alone be in a position to compel the truth. Even in this case you probably won’t get the full truth. You might get only part of the truth because of some agenda the spirit you’re talking to has, or because the gatekeeper has a reason to keep some things from you, or for other reasons.

By the way, there is some kicking information on divination at You might want to check out the site, for many great things.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Proving the Laws of Thermodynamics

As all y'all know, there are three laws of thermodynamics. They are:
1. Conservation of energy - or, you can't win.
2. Entropy - You can't even break even.
3. You can only lose (technically, it has to do with cooling an item to absolute zero)

Well, this is one of those periods where I am the embodiment of those laws. Spawn has hourly exams at college, husband is sick and needy, housework and business needs and pet and other life needs continue. I'm racing around doing everything I can, but still falling farther and farther behind.

And it's not helped when I make mistakes that take time, energy, and cash to correct.

And every attempt to correct one problem leads to a tangle of problems that turn out to be intertwined. Like what happened when I just wanted to make some tea.

I filled the kettle (oh, the plastic bits on the kettle that cause it to whistle and that pull the whistling part back when I want to pour the hot water out have broken) with water and go to put it on the burner. It dawns on me that the burner has been flaky lately, so rather than start heating the water I take the electric burner out, and see that the connectors are somewhat corroded. Husband goes off to file the corrosion off, I remove the back burner of the same size to put IT in and make my tea, but find its connections need work, too. Husband works on that as well.

Meanwhile, the refector pan under the burner is terribly dirty. I don't want to consider how many pots of whatever have boiled over and burnt on to it - well, on to the aluminum foil I have covering the rusty, corroded reflector pan. I figure I'll take off the foil, wash the reflector, re-line it, and it will be happy and reflective again.

Turns out that there was so much fatty gunk on it that I had to spend a lot of time and energy scraping the foil off of it, and a lot more time washing the gunk off the refector. Then had to towel dry it, then air dry it to prevent MORE corrosion. Then, finally, cover it with aluminum foil (shiny side showing), put the reflector in place, put the newly filed burner in place, put the kettle of water on the burner, and heat it for tea.

Normally the reflectors would have had routine maintainance/cleaning, and even if the burner connectors had needed work it wouldn't have lead to the mare's nest of issues. But once I start getting behind, entropy gets a firm grip on EVERYTHING, intertwines the problems, and anything I try to do takes more time and effort than is typical .... and more time and effort than I allowed for in my plans for the day.

So, while I have three loads of laundry to fold, I can't do that until I remove the hair that the cats have left on the couches, so that when I put the folded laundry on the couches they won't get covered with that lint. If I don't vacuum soon then sick husband will be woken when I do the vacuuming and I'm pretty sure he won't be pleasant about having been woken up.

So, I'm off again, back to work. Laters!

Frondly, Fern