Sunday, October 7, 2012

Last Herb Harvest

Gathered more culinary sage and thyme from my herb garden this past week, and it's a good thing I did; it snowed lightly over the weekend.


My zinnias did not survive the cold snow, they've lost all their color and are wilted; the maple in the backyard has lost about 3/4 of its leaves, but the locust tree in front is still green and full of bean pods. I love the changing of the seasons, but then again, it is sad to say goodbye to the growing season...

Monday, September 24, 2012

Forgotten Magic of Fire



Spirits of Fire come to us, we will kindle the fire. 
Spirits of Fire come to us, we will kindle the fire. 
We will kindle the fire, dance the Magic Circle round. 
We will kindle the fire. We will kindle the fire...

~ Fire Summoning chant (listen to it here)


My greatest joy this past summer has been sitting out on my patio, enjoying the sights and sounds of nature with my two cats. I read, the cats roll and sniff and explore, I water my flowers and refill the birdbath, we watch the birds... peaceful bliss... Even at night I sit out there, a camp light to read by, listening to the crickets chirp... But the nights are getting chillier...


So the other night I twisted up some newspaper and collected twigs and chose larger sticks and logs from our tree-trimming woodpile, and layered them like a little tipi in the firebowl and... I made a fire. And it was glorious.


It's not the first fire we've had in our firebowl this year, nor was it the first fire I've ever tended. But it was the first fire that I've completely started and tended all by myself in a long, long time. 


Such a long time that I realized I'd completely forgotten the magic of fire; its warmth, its energy, its transformative quality. Fire is not one of the elements I have a very strong connection with, so it was wonderful to reconnect with its magic once again. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Autumn Equinox Musings

Autumn Equinox has arrived, but I have been feeling fall in the air for weeks already. My herb garden has bloomed itself out, although the sage and thyme have made a strong comeback after languishing in the summer heat.


Already I miss the long, warm, magical evenings that seemed to stretch for hours upon hours before dark actually fell. The leaves on our maple tree are turning color, slowly crisping around the edges. The days are still very warm, but for some time now I've noticed that although the sun feels as hot as ever, the air is no longer heavy with heat, but fresh and chill. 

Now is a time for balance, and I need balance. I've gone from busy days at work all summer to slow and quiet days at home. My spirit prepares to turn inward for the cold season, my legs ache because of the chill nights, my body wants nothing more but to soak up the autumn sun before its gone each day; but I can't doze away my free time, I need to find a balance of rest and work and play. Lend me the balance I seek, autumn equinox...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Worktable Wednesday: Making a Match

A couple of years ago I made this Spiral Goddess plaque, which was purchased almost immediately. The customer likes it so much, she  has now asked if I could make a God plaque as well, so that she could have a matching pair. 


No longer having the completed piece at hand, I've been consulting photos I took of the Spiral Goddess to help me come up with a similar, but masculine design.  I sketched out some ideas and then created a cardstock template of the God shape.


Now I am working on filling in the shape with a design similar to the Goddess-- swirls of black and an intricate edge in "lines and dashes." 


Once the design is complete it will be cured, given a patina and varnish and then cured again before it is set on the plaque.

What's on your worktable?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Tarot for 2012: 9th moon

Mid-September brings the 9th moon cycle of the year. I drew the 8 of Pentacles for this moon, back when I did my New Year's Spread.


8 of Pentacles~

KEYWORDS/PHRASES: craftsmanship, student/apprentice, practicing your craft, applying yourself, training, developing or building skills, steady progress, pride in work, take action, work through creative blocks

This card is exactly what I'm struggling with right now. I have been away from my creative work for so long, I don't even know where to start or how to get back into it. The 8 of Pentacles encourages one to simply take any kind of action to jump start the  process-- organize your work space or learn a new technique or just make something, anything, even if you are just going through the motions. Inspiration will follow action, pride in accomplishments will soon follow. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

L'il Bro Around Colorado

My L'il Bro and his girlfriend were visiting this past week so we were out and about exploring some of Colorado each day. Locally, we went to the Butterfly Pavilion...


... drank in the beauty of hundreds of butterflies in their tropical climate... 


... and made some new friends... 


 We also went to the mountains and saw that the aspens are changing color already...


... and discovered that the road to the summit of Mt. Evans is already closed for this season, so we had to stop at Summit Lake, 5 miles from the top.


 And, because you've just got to go at least *once* in your life-- we went to Casa Bonita.


What is Casa Bonita, you ask? Why-- it's the Mexican restaurant with a waterfall and cliff diving, of course!


Because really, how can you eat Mexican food and NOT want to be in a faux tropical Acapulco atmosphere, complete with cliff climbing and diving? Exactly.

I know how to show my L'il Bro a good time when he's in town!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Once in a Blue Moon

I've been sitting out on the patio these past two nights, enjoying not only a full moon, but a blue moon...


There was candle light (faux candle light the second night because it was so breezy) and sandalwood incense, and moon mantra chanting, as well as moon gazing... 


At one point, the moon got caught in the tree leaves...


 I also experienced a little bit of animal magic, as I was visited by a skunk for about ten minutes as I sat on the patio. Friend skunk was only about 2 feet away-- I could have reached out and touched it, but I didn't dare move; the skunk was very calm and I intended it should stay that way. So I sat quietly and marveled at its exquisite tail and bold stripes and sweet face until it wandered away into the night.

I feel lucky to have been visited by wild skunk (and survived stink-free!) and it certainly made this blue moon a very magical one.

Monday, August 27, 2012

To Do List

I sat down and wrote out a list of  things I hope to try and get done in time for when I have a vendor's table at The 21st Annual Denver Witches' Ball at the end of October.


 I hope to have more mosaic boxes, shrines and wall plaques to offer this year, as well as many of my best sellers from last year-- tarot bags, herbal pendulums and hand-held egg rattles. But The Witches' Ball is still  61 days away, so who knows what new ideas my muse might come up with in the meantime!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Around the Yard

My sundial lying on an old wooden patio table, surrounded by deadheaded zinnias...


A glorious sunflower unfurled its glory along the back yard fence...


Friday, August 24, 2012

Feline Friday: Kitty Cuddles

Lately, Sassafras has become quite the little cuddler...


... at least with the man in the family... 


Meanwhile, Dot is content to... NOT cuddle... 


Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Fresh Start

 Finally, finally, finally, after 8 long months that included two surgeries and cats with cancer and promotions at work and full time seasonal hours and tree branches breaking windows in my craft room, scattering glass everywhere, and fibro flares and chronic fatigue and family visiting-- finally, I am back to creating again! But first I had to get my work space in order.


Look fast, because it will not be clean like this for long...


I am constantly working to organize my supplies for claying, and I think I'm starting to get somewhere. My clay and all  my cutters and mica powders and paints are to my left, more tools and beads on my desk right in front of me and my rubber stamp collection for imprinting clays is on my right. For the most part all my favorite and frequently used tools and supplies are easily at hand, so I'm ready for some serious creating.

Now if I could just get my craft closet organized...

Sunday, July 1, 2012

First Zinnia Bloom

My "Cut & Come Again" zinnias from Botanical Interests are full of buds!


They've taken a little extra care because of the super hot and dry weather, but I think they are going to be so worth it. 


My first bloom opened yesterday and it is gorgeous! According to the seed packet, the more you cut these flowers, the more they continue to bloom. Looking forward to all of the lovely fresh flowers.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Cat Cancer Sucks

I haven't been able to write about it. It hurts to think about it. In the span of this month our sweet handsome boy, Moose, was diagnosed with small cell lymphoma, started cancer treatments and then died three days before his 12th birthday.

Moose napping with his belly shaved for the ultra-sound.


Less than a month's worth of time, but it seemed agonizingly slow as we waited for test results and consulted with the vet about treatment options and decided what we could afford to do for him as well as what would be best for our sweet Moose. And then suddenly time sped up and flew by heartbreakingly fast from the day we started treatment to the day he died. 



The cancer was found only in his small intestines when he was diagnosed, it had not metastasized, so there was a good chance that treatment would help... but it must have suddenly spread like wildfire. He's at peace now, but I am so sad and angry about the cancer. I still have all of his medication, I haven't been able to throw it away. At times I want to spread all the medicine out on the ground and bash it all with a rock-- because its proof of the cancer and because it didn't help. And yet I can't destroy it or get rid of it yet because its one of the few, solid, tangible links with my sweet boy that I still have left.




It has been a week today since our sweet boy died. Today the husband and I picked up Moose's ashes at the vet and brought our boy back home. We both cried at the thought of our big, fat, fluffy, sweet, gentle boy being reduced to the contents of that small box. 


Moose on his last day. We carried him outside and for a while he enjoyed 
sunshine and good smells in the air with me on our patio.

 And where was my spiritual path in all this? I found I couldn't pray beyond Please let him be okay and then please let us be doing the right thing for him and then please don't let him be in pain and finally reduced to please, please, please...

Magic? Healing spells? I'd done them in the past for our calico Claire, and have always been convinced they helped, but I couldn't even think where to begin and even debated whether or not it would be appropriate to do for Moose. Part of it was that my brain just kept rejecting that my sweet Moose, so healthy his entire life, never once sick, who I thought was going to live until he was an old man of 19 or 20 years, could suddenly have something as bad as cancer. Did I fail him or was it just his time? Does it even matter anymore?

I know everyone and everything has to die at some point in time. Strangely, that thought is a comfort to me. But it doesn't stop me from missing the sight of his sweet face peeking out the hallway door when I come home after work; it doesn't fill the empty space at the foot of the bed at night where he's no longer there, leaning against my feet. Right now, this is still too new and too raw. And cancer sucks.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

My Tarot Fool Journal Page

Back on New Year's Day, I calculated my tarot card for the year, which is The Fool. Since its the Fool's Day today, I thought I would share the journal page that I created about this tarot card.


To create this page, I crumpled a piece of parchment paper and then used Distress Ink to make the aged looking background. The rest of the design is simple with a print of the card and a sticker border. I played around with a lettering technique to add a bit of interest and wrote down all the keywords and phrases that define The Fool card for me.

I found that creating this journal page was a great way to meditate on the card and place its meaning firmly in my mind. Evidently optimism is the most meaningful keyword for me-- I see I wrote it down twice! (Although I think I meant to write down opportunity the second time.)

Friday, March 30, 2012

G is for Garden Guardian

This spring I have finally had to admit that its time to let go of my very first garden guardian, little friend Turtle. He was so lovely in his early years...


... but not so much anymore. Sun, snow, dropping tree branches, neighbors burying their electric cable and dumping dirt and rocks on him in the process, have laid friend Turtle low. Bleached out, broken shell, he's been in sad shape for a couple of years now, but its taken me until this spring to find the perfect new guardian for the herb garden, although I half-heartedly started looking last year.


But when I saw this little owl, I knew the goddess Blodeuwedd was making Herself known to me once more. What could be more perfect than an owl, Her animal aspect, to sit on the offering stone on the east (air) side of my herb garden to guard it? Blodeuwedd herself was made of herbs and flowers, so it seems very auspicious to have Her blessing upon my garden.


When I placed the little owl on the offering stone at the entrance of my little herb garden, I briefly welcomed Blodeuwedd and asked for her blessing and protection; however, I plan on doing a much more formal welcome and dedication to Her at Beltaine, which I consider her Sabbat, as she is a May Queen. But for now, I feel pleased and comforted to have found the perfect new guardian for the garden.


This post is part of the alphabetical topic series for the Pagan Blog Project.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tarot for 2012: 3rd moon

It's well into the 3rd moon cycle of the year; time for me to explore the card I drew for this moon when I did my New Year's reading

from the Druidcraft Tarot

FOUR OF CUPS~ 

Keywords & phrases include: Stagnation, dissatisfaction, discontent, apathy, stuck in a rut, lack of motivation, withdrawing from involvement, feeling disengaged, ignoring gifts & blessings. 

This card is about being self-focused, often to the point of losing awareness of others or the environment around oneself. Life seems stagnant, but only because focus is on what is causing discontent. The figure in this card is so focused on the 3 cups within sight and completely misses the opportunity presented by the cup behind her. 

This card describes very well where I am at, especially the past couple of weeks. I have been so withdrawn while healing from surgery earlier this month that life feels stagnant. I am looking for things to engage my mind and heart and pull me out of my apathy-- hence, buying seeds, cleaning out my garden and focusing on the arrival of spring to lift my spirits. I am still struggling, but I feel that I'm starting to awaken from a deep sleep. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

In the Backyard

Signs of spring in my backyard today... 

 ... fuzzy buds on the maple tree...


... my rhubarb is coming up... 


... many of my herbs are greening up and filling out already! Sage, thyme, apple blossom yarrow, lavender and comfrey are doing well. Lemon balm is starting to peek out. I am so excited; I love this time of year!

Friday, March 23, 2012

F is for Feathers

I have a fascination with collecting bird feathers. It started when we found our first house. We were at an open house and thought perhaps we'd found THE ONE-- a lovely little sage green and brick house with a nice little yard, 2 bedrooms (1 perfect for my craft room), 2 baths, finished basement...

As we left the open house, my husband handed me a beautiful striped feather. "I found it in the back yard," he said. I took it as a good omen regarding the house and have been fascinated with feathers ever since. (It was a flicker feather, indicating new beginnings, and yes, we did buy the house).

Since my cats are also feather lovers, I've had to contrive ways of keeping my feather collection away from questioning, thieving paws. I have some of my favorites-- blue jay, magpie, possibly a stellar jay and dove, in a found birds' nest under a glass bell jar on one of my altars. The rest I have carefully hidden away in my craft closet for now.


A collection of goose feathers I found on the shore of the lake behind my in-laws' house.

When it comes to using feathers in magic, it seems there are two schools of thought-- one is to associate the feather's color for its magical associations and the other is that the type of bird the feather comes from determines its magical properties. While I don't turn my nose up at color magic, it doesn't feel right at all to me to use it as a basis when it comes to feathers, I would much rather learn about the qualities of the different birds.


Wild turkey feathers from my Dad's wooded property in Iowa.


I believe that found feathers are best for magic (and most of the resources I found regarding feather magic said the same)-- the only problem with this being that unless one is very well versed in feather identification, you don't always know what you've found. All of the feathers I have are gifts that have been given to me-- either by the birds themselves, or by friends or family who have found them.


Above are more of my feathers: top left is an exotic bird feather I received in a ritual; top middle are woodpecker and flicker feathers (including the one my husband found); top right are most likely mourning dove feathers; bottom left unidentified feathers (pigeon?); middle bottom most likely belongs to one of the many seagulls that, strangely enough, hoover over parking lots here in land-locked Colorado; bottom right are most likely blackbird feathers.

The majority of feathers I have were collected from my own back yard, where we have a feeder and birdbath. Not only do we (humans and cats) get to enjoy watching the birds who come to feed, but occasionally they leave feathery gifts for me.


In many of the books and resources I consulted, it was easier to find information associated with the more exotic birds, but I was able to compile a list of associations for many of the backyard visitors I have enjoyed over the years-- hopefully it will be of use to other feather fanatics out there.

BIRDS and their MAGICAL ASSOCIATIONS:


Blue Jay: adaptability, creativity, speaking out, trickster, use talent & power properly

Crow: ancient wisdom, boldness, diviner, magic, walk your talk

Finch: activities & potentials awakening, energy, greater opportunities, home, meetings, opportunity

Flicker: new beginnings are near

Junco: migration, moving, revealing facial expressions, replenishing,

Goose: draws love, fruitfulness, heed call to a new quest, protector, reliable, safe return, storytelling, territorial, travel, Autumn Equinox. The Goddess Hathor became a Nile goose and laid a "golden egg"-- the sun. In medieval times, geese were said to carry the souls of those who were not baptized (pagans).

Magpie: crafty and willful, communicating secrets, doorway to new spheres, life & death, occult understanding, oracular announcements, prophetic, use magic and knowledge properly. Chattering magpies foretell the arrival of guests; 2 magpies or more indicates a happy occasion, 1 magpie indicates sorrow.

Mourning Dove: beauty, fertility, forgiveness, long life, love spells, peace, prosperity, sex magic (dove)

Robin: harbinger of spring, new beginnings, new development, territorial, trust in your new creative ideas, the New Year. The robin is said to be the bird form of the God of the Witches, Robin Goodfellow (Cock Robin).

Sparrow: the moon, maintain your dignity and pride, sex magic

Starling: communication, friendly, strong and powerful, variety

Turkey: abundance and blessings are present, artistic, bounty, communal giving, gifts (given/received), shared blessings, thankfulness, originality, prosperity, they are sensitive to the evil eye

Woodpecker: activity, energy, prophecy, time of new rhythms and new beginnings, weather predictor

Sources:

Animal-Wise by Ted Andrews
Bird Spirits (Native American Cherokee Tribe)
Elements of Witchcraft: Natural Magic for Teens by Ellen Dugan
The Wicca Handbook by Eileen Holland
Grimoire for the Green Witch by Ann Moura
The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols & Sacred Objects by Barbara G. Walker

This post is part of the alphabetical topic series for the Pagan Blog Project

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Equinox Gardening Altar

Blessed Spring Equinox to all who celebrate!

I created a "sabbat specific" altar for the first time in ages (usually my altar is dedicated to the four elements, Lord & Lady) and it's a wonderful change.


This year for the Spring Equinox, I decided to create a Gardening altar; my gardening tools and the seeds I will be planting are on the altar ready to be blessed. For those who don't know, my altar is an antique marble-topped Edwardian table that belonged to my great-grandmother. I almost always use a pastel tea towel, embroidered by my Gram, as an altar cloth. A few other special items on my altar include my in-progress apple wood wand, a bit of moss from a tree at Lake Tahoe where I went one year for a mini-vacation, a cowrie shell I got when I was initiated, a pinecone I picked up on a walk with my husband in the housing area where we lived when we first got married, a very special rock that looks like crystals, tree roots and moss, and a tagua nut that was a gift from one of my Wiccan teachers.

I have a little decorated nest filled with the packets of seeds I'm going to plant this year in my herb garden and patio pots: chamomile, cosmos, moonflower, snapdragons and zinnias. I am still looking for the calendula seeds I plant every year and some nasturtiums, but they will be added for blessing when I find them. I also have my boline for cutting plants and herbs, and some pretty carved and painted eggs in the basket.


My most-used gardening tools are on my altar as well-- a new transplanting trowel, as my old one finally met its demise, and my pruning shears used for trimming roses, thick woody stems and small branches.

As always, I'm excited that the spring planting time is drawing near. I love preparing my pots and garden for planting, love having my hands in the soil, love seeing my perennial green friends returning and choosing my new annual green friends for planting. This year my Spring Equinox celebration is all about seeds, nurturing and growing.

May whatever new seeds you plant this spring be blessed!