I’m Here.

Hey! It’s been awhile.

Right after my last post life got…well, busy. As it does. Husband was in a fender-bender, I registered for college, we started searching for a day-care for Claire, we went out of town, in-laws came into town, we bought cars, I decided to start re-watching all (!) of Buffy, and I started orienting my career-path to something more solid (hence, going back to school). All of the previous has meant a shit-ton of errand running and go go go.

But, I think for the next few weeks we have some breathing space. Before I start classes, before I put C into daycare (sniff), before, before, before.

It’s been kind of a weird time. Making these decisions about life, leaving other decisions behind, for now. When we got pregnant earlier this spring we were so ready for a second child. Now? Now that’s been put on hold, for a while, anyway. Some days it feels right. Some days I stumble on one of C’s old size 1 diapers and it makes me terribly, terribly sad.

I’m not sure how we, how I, am supposed to make these decisions. How do I make one decision when it means, maybe irrevocably, giving up something else? How do I joyfully anticipate one thing, while grieving the loss that’s implied? I don’t know. I really don’t.

Despite the above paragraphs, I’m really not sad. I’m exploring the tension, being honest about it with my friends and my husband, and acting on something, goddammit. The tension is better than inaction, at least for now.

The Sun card has come up a few times in my daily card draw.  It’s a new card for me; one that I’ve only drawn a couple of times (if that) in the past. I take this as an auspicious sign. That action is the right course for now. That things that have been unclear for a couple of years now will begin to be worked out, like knotted muscles during a run.

So, really, that’s all. Normal, busy, life.

The Tower

The Tower is kind of a disturbing card to receive on a daily card draw.  Every morning I do a quick shuffle and draw a card. It helps me get familiar with the deck, and provides me with a touchstone to consider throughout the day. Drawing the Tower always stymies me a bit. I surreptitiously look around for cracks in the walls and wait for a rumble of thunder. I mean, the meaning of the card is pretty forthright: destruction, catastrophe, radically shifting paradigms, fast movement, etc.

I thought the best way to approach it was to write down some thoughts that have been changing in my life, or thoughts that have the potential to prove to be transforming down the line. That worked and provide valuable insight into what may be coming next.

Later that evening, after J and I had watched out TV show, and I had taken my magnesium to help me go to sleep (’cause I’m obviously an old lady, right?! :)) I got a sudden urge to clean. It started by remembering that I wanted to purge the pantry of the gluten-containing items that we don’t use any more.  Besides making me feel sick, C also seems to be allergic to either wheat or all gluten, so I decided to get rid of everything but white flour and sugar (since, if I wanted to bake for friends, that’s what I’d use). I packed up the whole-wheat flours and couscous and specialty pastas and then…suddenly…I remembered that I had empty jars that I could fill with our bulk bin items still in plastic. Did that. Then just started cleaning, rearranging, wiping, muttering,  you know. I had ‘The Clean’ on me and followed it till I leaned back against the counter and realized…

I had put the flour and sugar canisters in the pantry.

Most of you reading this don’t know me personally, but if you had for any length of time you’d know that I bake. Or I did. I learned to cook and bake sitting on my grandma’s counter, early as two. She always had flour and sugar out, and mixed biscuits up about every morning. Rolls, biscuits, cakes, cookies–all delicious, all made without a measuring cup in sight. Just took handfuls of ingredients out of canisters sitting on the counter.

My mom is the same, and I’ve continued that ‘tradition’. Always have the goods within reach, always in sight, always homey and comforting. It was my mark of ability as a cook that I could mix up biscuits without measuring cups, that I was able to judge the completion of a dough or batter by its looks rather than following a recipe.

But now, since those ingredients are actually detrimental to Claire and me, and I don’t even use them that much anymore, they went into the pantry. Without me even thinking about it.

I know. It’s just flour and sugar.

But at the same time that I’m proud for changing, I’m more than a little uncomfortable to be leaving that behind. Or in the pantry.

The Empress (III)

Today during the daily card draw I drew the Empress.

Funnily enough, Dinosaur Train is on right now, and the episode is about Maiasaura, the Good Mother Lizard. Gotta love synchronicity.

Traditionally, the Empress card is the Good Mother card. Across the Tarot decks  she’s usually portrayed with pomegranates, wheat, a starry crown, a shield and sometimes pregnant. It’s read as a card of new beginnings, nurture, creativity, sensuality, fertility, promise and assurance.

It was a refreshing card to pull. The first five days of the Primal eating/devotion challenge haven’t gone swell. I’m not upset about it, at all, just learning from what’s keeping me back (lack of sleep, lack of planning). It was also encouraging because I have a lot of ‘new’ things going. First, a more and more directed interest in the Celtic pantheon. A few in specific, one that terrifies me and will require more…consideration. On both parts, I think. But I’m excited nonetheless.

Two, a renewed and growing interest in a few crafts: herbalism and sewing.

Three, a new story idea that I’m very, very excited about. I’ve been working on two stories for the past four years, but this is a left turn from both of them. It feels…right. It’ll take a lot of research, but the start seems so vivid!

The only thing in life right now that seem to be in a process of deconstructing is…the blog, actually. I feel like it needs an infusion of something, mainly, my own time and consideration. I have a lot of ideas but nothing that I’ve done yet. And as this is my main portal into any kind of Pagan community, I want to make sure that I’m putting thought and time into it. It also helps that after two years of disparate spiritual wanderings are finally becoming cohesive (herbalism/gardening, the Celtic pantheon, going to the UU church, hearth-witchery).

I hope the New Year is going swimmingly for all of you!

A Dash of This, A Pinch of That

* I went to church today. Trinity United Methodist, for all you Austinites. And…they celebrated the Summer Solstice. No joke. With drums and a calling of the elements. They even talked about the Wheel of the Year. Yes, my circuits fritzed. Completely.

* I watched all four seasons of True Blood in two weeks. I’m not sure how it happened. I kind of hated it by the end. Like, Sookie? She’s annoying. Lafayette and the 3,000 year old dude (now encased in concrete…) were/are the only reasons to watch that show. Though, they are featuring witches for season 5. So that’s interesting. Seeing media portrayals of witchcraft and Wicca are always…interesting.

* For Father’s Day, J and I went out on a *real* date Friday night. Drinks and dinner. It was lovely. We had drinks at Péché and dinner at Congress. Both were terrific and a perfect way to celebrate. This morning, J woke up to a mimosa and crèpes with dulce de leche and whipped cream. Spoiled? Just a little.

* I have writer’s block. Intensely. I’m debating on giving up a story that I’ve worked on (on and off) for over two years. It’s just…I’m not that person who started the story, and as the story evolved it’s not really the original story anymore…I don’t know. It also has some major structural and plot problems, as well as just being an overall bitch to write. But when do you say when? Any writers have advice on this?

* To help with the writer’s block and generate ideas I’ve being drawing a Tarot card and just writing with it. Sometimes it’s a character sketch, a situation or a simple description. Anything to keep the juices going. If I take long breaks from writing I gather inertia so quickly. It becomes hard to even type. Gotta keep chuggin’.

* I have no idea what I’m doing for Summer Solstice. I’ve thought about Sun Salutations at dawn, which seems okay. But I’m also feeling this draw to do a magical working of some sort. I picked up a new book titled Embracing the Moon by Yasmine Galenorn. At first I was thrown off by the dated cover–a woman’s hands embracing a green-tinted moon (thank you, Llewelleyn). Turns out though, it’s a very good beginner book. While I’ve been researching this path a long, long time I still consider myself a beginner, especially with magic and energy working since (besides observing the Sabbats and occasionally the Esbats) I don’t actually do the stuff a ton. I think. I read. I contemplate. But doing…not so much.

Which, leads me to want to start doing. Going to church today also lit a fire under that desire. This leads me to…

* Fear. I have a lot of anxiety and fear stemming from a pretty creeptastic experience I had a few months ago. This could be a post on its own, and it might become one. Hmm. A Litha ritual to bring light into the places of dank, of fear? I don’t believe that shadow or darkness is bad, at all. It’s neutral like the light is. However, fear—fear and anxiety live in a dank, cold, awful place of the soul. A place that could use some warming light. Hmmm.

That’s all. Enjoy the week, everyone 🙂

First Public Ritual

So, I went to my first ever public ritual. It was an esbat held by the local CUUPS in a Methodist church. How is that for mind-boggling? Kind of weird to be doing a circle invoking a goddess under a cross. However, the church is a ‘reconciling’ congregation, and very other-faith and gay friendly.

It was nice. I was surprised by how much older everyone else was—I’d say the average age was 50.

The ritual itself was contemplative, focusing on Aphrodite. The ritualist seemed nervous, but during the guided meditation she really hit her stride. Her voice turned suddenly rich and soft and the meditation itself was incredibly evocative. What disrupted it was people coming in late. I like the yoga take on that–five minutes late, don’t even bother coming in. The energy is set, and it only serves to disrupt.

I felt nervous before going, so nervous that I did a small Tarot spread before hand. It was a three card spread. First card reflecting the nature of the group, second card being the implication if I did go, third card being the implication if I didn’t.

First: Three of Cups

Second: The Tower

Third: Six of Swords

Having the Tower card show up was…interesting. With the group seeming to be genial and 6/S evoking a certain listlessness if I stayed home…well…I decided to go. While the ritual didn’t exactly shake me to my core, it did remove a certain hesitancy I’ve had about attending pagan gatherings. You know…like…wow. Everyone’s so normal. Who knew?

Summer Tarot Spread

For the my seasonal Tarot reading I chose to do a spread I found online called Hekate’s Sickle, in honor of the darkening moon. The spread can be found here.

Summer Seasonal Tarot Reading, Hekate's Sickle Spread

1. Significator (drawn randomly)–Queen of Pentacles

2. The Key to unlock mysteries–Eight of Pentacles

3. The Rope that binds, for good or ill–Knight of Swords

4. The Dagger that cuts through illusions–Death

5. Torch 1, the maiden, raw energy/beginnings–Nine of Swords

6. Torch 2, the mother, creativity/growth–Two of Pentacles

7. Torch 3, the crone, death/rebirth–Six of Cups

——-

I’m a newbie Tarot reader. I only have one deck, the Shadowscapes Tarot, and I’ve only had it for about a year. I’m definitely no expert, so if after I post my analysis you, dear reader, can see some things I’m missing please point them out! I have no idea how to contextualize relationships between cards yet, or anything like that…So any guidance would be appreciated.

That said…here’s my (working) analysis.

The Significator (tone of the season), Queen of Pentacles: When I drew this card I felt an immediate kinship with it. This card contains a lot of elements I recognize in myself that I don’t think will change over the summer: a mother, lover or nature, keeper of the home, working to nurture and provide. I take it to be a positive card, one of contentment and the potential for future positive growth.

The Key to unlock mysteries, The Eight of Pentacles: I had not drawn this card before. At first, I saw elements of universality: the spider spinning a web much like a storyteller spinning a story. It speaks strongly to my desires to write and continue my craft, though I seemingly hit bumps all the time. It is a card that represents hard work and admonishes us to consider our earthly home as well as our natural and universal one. It is a great personal reminder that the way to get what you desire in life is work.

The Rope that binds us, for good or ill, The King of Swords: Easily the hardest card for me to interpret. It seems like the Shadowscapes card says one thing to me and other, more traditional cards say another. In the Shadowscapes card I see a troubled, slightly melancholy man. A warrior, obviously, trying to balance the dark and the light. His boot sits on a skull; his throne has Davinci’s Vitruvian Man carved on it, exemplifying the blend of art and science. The suit of swords tells me this is about the mind and thoughts. A sword itself is an implement of pruning (positive) and potential destruction/death (can be positive). That it is the King tells me the energies might be a bit more forthright, aggressive. The title of the card placement–for good or ill–already tells me that I’m working with a ‘double-edged sword’, so perhaps the advice is that though my I can think about ____ all I want to, eventually, I need the experience/feeling/action/creativity behind it.

The Dagger that cuts through our illusions, Death (XIII): Nothing cuts through our illusions like Death, right? This card is vivid and in context of all the others–the purple-hue Swords, green Pentacles and blue Cups card it stands out like a beacon. I don’t think it requires much explanation–change, transformation, pruning, wildfire, birth/death/rebirth.

Torch 1, The Maiden, raw power/beginnings, The Nine of Swords: At first glance this card stumped me. This card definitely did not seem to be about energy! I huffed a bit. Then after I finished the spread and looked over it again it made sense. The figure on the card is fearful, so anxious about the threat out there (!!!) that she doesn’t even notice that a raven is pecking her wings off. She clutches her sword to her, has her fear/anxieties tattooed on her chest. The message was clear: you can’t access your power or even begin while you’re too busy being afraid of what people might think, what the future might bring. I’ll talk about my issues with anxiety later, but especially paired with the Six of Cups (Crone placement) it was the most potent combination of the spread.

Torch 2, The Mother, creativity/growth, Two of Pentacles: A playful card. Light greens and yellows, a jester juggling two pentacles while a monkey, butterfly and lizard watch on. Symbols of spirals indicate a universal theme of balance with juggling all things and play time, too. A reminder to have fun, that creativity and growth isn’t all about ANGST.  It’s also about…fun. Plain and simple. Play time. Imagination time.

Torch 3, The Crone, death/rebirth, Six of Cups: A child has tea time with her stuffed animals, fae, dryads and sylphs. Golden fish swim along the stream. The background is richly colored in blues, illuminated by soft gold. A reminder of simpler times, of childhood, of the freedom of imagination. To me, in direct opposition to the Nine of Swords. Sometimes the knowledge of a crone is in the wisdom of a child.

——

In summary: I thought this was a very interesting and layered reading. Lots to chew on for the summer season. I think it is overall advising me that this summer I need to work, research and develop my crafts. Whether that be witch craft, herb craft, writing, house keeping, whatever…It is a season where work will bring pleasure and reward, as well as help me get past mental hangups and anxieties.

Not to be forgotten in all of this work though is play time. Summer is a child’s time. Even if you’re an adult you can feel the freedom and exultation on your community’s last day of school. That’s a powerful energy to tap into. Temper work with play, better yet…find play in work.

The card of Death sets a powerful overall tone for the reading. It is a reminder that this summer I might lose things I hold dear. Perhaps I’ll come out more publicly as Pagan and lose/damage some relationships. Maybe I’ll fight those fears and anxieties with phoenix-fire and emerge stronger for it. All possibilities. All interesting possibilities.

That’s what I like best about the Tarot. Nothing can be foretold, absolutely, but the possibilities are always so interesting.

Tarot: The Moon and Pleasure/Addiction

As I washed dishes after dinner tonight I began to think of the nature of pleasure. Mostly this was brought about because my husband and I had just finished a low-carb dinner: bison meatloaf, cauliflower, sautéed mushrooms. During the meal I thought about how we usually had meatloaf with creamy, rich mashed potatoes. Yum.

While I scrubbed I thought of those potatoes. Then I thought of pasta, cheesecake, cookies, scones. I thought of how I don’t do well with a lot of sugary carbs–I have the “I can’t stop at just one Reese’s cup” problem. People often decry low-carb diets for “cutting out an entire food group!” and exhort you to “eat carbs in moderation!”. They often remind me, too, of how pleasurable carbs are. “Remember cookies? Cakes? Frosting? Tarts? Pasta?”

Remember?! How could I forget?

As this warred back and forth in my mind, suddenly the image of the Moon card popped up in my mind.

I saw how her face was alight with moonbeams. The pleasure we feel when we (rightly) indulge ourselves, perhaps in a decadent dessert, perhaps in a spontaneous (or planned, as we parents know!) romp in the sheets with our lover/spouse. When we pamper ourselves after a long day of work. Or perhaps when we finally give in to doing nothing, just being sensual in our present experience.

But pleasure is so slippery, isn’t it? Too much and you’re not just drunk; you’re hung over. You’re not just in love; you’re obsessed. You’re not just moaning, “mmm!” while you eat lava cake; you have heart disease. It seems extreme, I know, but is it? What tempers pleasure but restraint, self-discipline? Those Puritan words I shy away from.

I don’t think pleasure should be demonized, but I do feel that it comes with a very real, very palpable (even when you’re indulging in them) dark(er) side. That’s what makes them pleasurable, right? That’s what makes us long and desire those experiences. Because we’re touching some…darker, perhaps? deeper? experience.

But the Moon card reminds us that though that slippery slope, though that brief detour thrills us–as it should, as we need from time to time–going too far can be full of perils. You can lose your way; you can start to take illusions for reality.

I know, all of this about a macronutrient, right? But I think it fits and fits well. I deny myself the pleasure of the everyday cookie because at some point it began to make me sick.  I felt awful. Now, instead of the everyday cookie (or five, or a dozen–no joke) I indulge in some food-related experience a week. Hey–I love food. It’s one of my passions. Telling me to get a manicure instead is just not going to cut it, ya know? But I make sure it’s special. I make sure I share it–usually an excellent wine and some spectacular cheese or gooey dessert, homemade.

It also means that I have to limit my carbs, and not just the cookies, because without limiting all of them then I’m not able to just eat a little dessert when the time is right. I go back to eating the whole fucking cake.

I’m grateful for this sink-side epiphany. Many times this week I’ve just wanted to give in! Eat the cookie! Cook the easier side dish! But I’m reminded that I must, must temper this desire. For my health, and for my future pleasures.