Pray to the Moon when She is round,
Luck with you will then abound,
What you seek for shall be found
On the sea or solid ground.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Public Animas Ceremony Part 4c: Trust Your People: The Magus (DJ, that is)

Continued lessons from the Public Animas Ceremony: An Invitation to Passion.

Our DJ/Magus's Avatar.
Our DJ/Magus's Avatar.

If The Vision is true, it will find the right people. Trust them.

Trust that The Vision will attract the right people. This is a story about letting preconceptions, personal judgements & ideas go, trusting The Vision & trusting that you have the right people.

More than half a year before the Summer Solstice, we recruited a good friend of ours to orchestrate the music for the ecstatic dance portion of the Animas Ceremony. Before I begin with the story of the DJ(s), I need to make a brief departure to discuss our choices around sound. My sense is that many (neo)pagan types balk at the idea of using recorded music for ceremonial purposes. I believe this must be because it isn't "traditional" or "Ye Olde Fashionedy" enough or something. I need to address this here as I did at the pre-ceremony briefing:

  1. Music is culturally relevant. We live in the contemporary Western United States & the music created today speaks the language of our people more clearly than that of any other time. This is not so say that I dismiss the value of other musical forms or genres -- indeed, I do not, for I happen to be a great lover of, say, classical Jazz, but I know that is an inappropriate choice for moving people through & into the spaces we offered in this ceremony. We wanted to offer the people the opportunity to dance & to dance nonstop for hours. The most logical music to accomplish this is the music of today which has developed specifically for the purpose of extended dancing & altered states: the various permutations of electronica, mixed on-site by a seasoned DJ with all his toys out on the tables.
  2. This was not an ancestral ceremony. We were not attempting to reconstruct some time period from the past, or recreate the sacred activities of a time gone by. There was no need for a Renaissance flutist or Celtic war drums (although I really do enjoy them). Ancient musics are a wonderful device -- in proper context -- but we were/are working in today.
  3. Live drums are timeless. Yes, but... drummers need rest & replenishment, turntables & amplifiers do not. Drummers need to arrive with drums & skills in numbers & the facts? Our community doesn't have the numbers or the skills to fulfill that role. 
  4. Like the drums, electronica is immediately adaptable. The DJ, or Magus, is there to know his acoustical inventory, read the audience & atmosphere & adjust the rhythm & sounds accordingly -- just like good drummers. Electronica also has the great asset of including layers of sound, including prerecorded speech & ambient sounds which are undeniably effective in generating a variety of moods & states of consciousness.
Balk away, some may, but it works. (You don't even have to like it for it to work.)

A few remaining, very tired, dancers in a light rain
under the Midnight Sun -- sometime after 1am.

But back to the lesson at hand: letting go of how you think the ceremony needs to happen & trusting that you have the right people & that they know what they need to do. I call this 'going organic.'

Going organic in this context was allowing things to unfold & evolve naturally without micromanaging. Which I/we didn't exactly do, but should have. A couple of months after we asked Gabriel, our primary DJ (who I have mentioned before), to bring his magick to the ceremony, we began to second guess whether he could solo the music for as many hours as we wanted (or thought/assumed we needed). The role of the Magus in an event such as this is so critical, nay, essential that we found ourselves perhaps a wee bit neurotic. So we asked another DJ friend if he might be willing to tag team, giving Gabriel the opening & closing windows of the evening & having the other DJ fill in the middle to allow for rest & replenishment. 

This ultimately turned out to be unnecessary (& a mistake on a variety of levels), but in our desire to make sure everything went just right, we forgot to trust the artist assess his own limits. This is not the way to do it. When you recruit an artist, be clear about the parameters & expectations & then let them do their magick -- don't try to intercede on their behalf part way through the project because you imagine or decide they might need help. 

Small & awkward mistakes aside, the process of working with a musical collage artist is a delight. Gabriel created a variety of sample mixes for us, set to different BPM ranges. It was a bit like getting boxes of auditory chocolates every week or so... a box of truffles, a box of dark chocolates, a box of dipped fruits... 

One of my favourite mixes -- especially beginning about 4:00... Embrace the World.

And the delight in the process was reciprocal -- Gabriel regularly extended his gratitude for being asked to participate in the process. He too gained from creating for a new context, expanding his collection, his repertoire & moving outside his usual range of sound into new places. 

And in the end, small errors in judgement aside, once we let go & allowed the ceremony to unfold naturally, organically, trusting our people, it was absolutely perfect.

Thank you Gabriel. Thank you.

If The Vision is true, it will find the right people. Trust them.

And trust them to know themselves.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Public Animas Ceremony Part 4b: Trust Your People: The Choreographer

Continued lessons from the Public Animas Ceremony: An Invitation to Passion.

"Dub" on the Water. Our choreographer & mentor.
"Dub" on the Water. Our choreographer & mentor.
Photo credit: uncertain.

If The Vision is true, it will find the right people. Trust them.

Trust them. This is a story about taking risks, trusting The Vision & trusting others to understand & respect The Vision.

Our troupe, Resh K'eljesh has been studying for over a year with a talented instructor who sometimes we refer to as JW & other times we simply call her Dub. She has been dancing for about a decade now, specializing primarily in Modern Egyptian & Cabaret with some fusion (Gypsy, Orientale, Turkish) influences. Some of us study other styles of belly dance with various instructors, but JW holds our hearts in her hands. She is, in our eyes, the embodiment of juicy, flowing Beauty -- & while she can fool you into believing she is really a swan or an antelope, she can swear like a sailor & will tell you when you're looking like crap & that keeps her real, grounded & approachable.

And we Love her.

But there is a natural hesitation to throw full spotlights on one's unconventional spiritual practices & while I personally had made it clear to JW that at least two of us were dancing for "spiritual" reasons, the bigger picture had never been brought to the table -- that being that one of our goals as a troupe was to provide devotional dances or, dancing-as-offering for our own practices & for the greater community. So when The Vision started to congeal & became certain, song-in-hand (so to speak) we had to give it up to the Dub.

And in a major leap of faith, we showed her the bad sketches & the site layouts & explained the Officiants & the offerings & the fire... & we played her the song...

And she stood in the living room, listening intently to the narration in the beginning of the song,

The Soul,
like the Moon,
is new,
and new again.

And I've seen the ocean, 
continuously creating,
since I scoured my mind,
since I scoured my body.

I too Lalla,
am new,
new again.

My teacher,
told me one thing:
"Live in the Soul."

And when that was so, 
I began to get naked,
and dance.

And when the music rushed in she sprang forth, whirling across the room, prancing & flowing, excitedly talking all the while about the rhythm & the fire & what the music was telling her...

The choreographer: JW.
The choreographer: JW.
Photo credit: uncertain.

And we all sat, perhaps a little dumbly, in awe of this phoenix tearing across the carpet. Would she catch something on fire?

If you spend a good amount of time among artists (or scientists -- I've mentioned this before) you probably have witnessed the transformation that occurs when a creative human becomes energized by an idea, overcome by a Muse. It is a personal alchemy in the alembic of their mind, heart, spirit-being. It is the experience of personal epiphany & creative electrification. When people enter this "place" (for lack of a better word) they actually appear different -- this is a full-being transmutation.

Then, at one point I recall her saying something like, "...and the offerings, they are special, precious, they are sacred and they need to be presented to the fire as such, perhaps like this..." as she leaned forward in her sinuous way, to pour invisible libations toward the imaginary fire in the centre of the room.

And wide-eyed, we all exchanged glances.

When she left, we were all still settled on the floor like a herd resting in the heat of midday. We exchanged glances & one of us hissed in an excited whisper, "She GETS IT!" Then, gasps & muffled squeals for the risk of trusting another with The Vision had completely & utterly paid off.

And Dub was & still is the right person, despite the challenge of distance & travel, she gives us tools to figure things out on our own when she cannot be with us & for that, we are perennially grateful, thankful.

Thank you JW. Thank you. 

If The Vision is true, it will find the right people. Trust them.

Really Trust Them.

To listen to our Animas Ceremony track, "Lalla's Ecstasy," in its entirety, use the player below. If you like it, please consider purchasing the track & support great independent artists. Visit the Shaman's Dream Music Collective/World Groove Ensemble Bandcamp Shamans Dream Compilation or the Craig Kohland/Shaman's Dream website.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Super Buck Moon: Just Me & My Boys.

Preparing for the Buck Super Moon. Drying goose eggs. Just the usual weirdness.
Preparing for the Buck Super Moon.
Drying goose eggs. Just the usual weirdness.

We spent much of the afternoon preparing for this Super Buck Moon to rise. Drying eggs, polishing elm branches (Ulmus pumila), shaving manzanita tips (Arctostaphylos patula), trimming black locust thorns (Robinia pseudoacacia)...

It's all part of the weird-work we do.

When Her Time was Right, She rose up, over the rocky crest, into the clouds...

Buck Moon Rising 1

Buck Moon Rising 2

Buck Moon Rising 3

Buck Moon Risen

Buck Moon Offerings.
Buck Moon Offerings.
Offerings this time seemed to demand volumes of liquid-fire -- a bowl of vodka with a splash of Chambord. (What is it about Spirits & spirits?) Italian hazelnut chocolates & four sticks of that strange Chinese incense. Not the usual protocols... make it all strong. Very strong. (Like Her namesake?)

Buck Moon Reading.
Buck Moon Reading.
The children & I paused on the steps under the Moony cloud cover to draw cards by candlelight. No supplemental light would have been necessary had that sky cooperated with Ms. Moon. But clouds are fickle creatures, particularly in the High Desert.

One card each, right out of the satin & velvet bag, no spreads -- just keep it simple. Auspicious messages all around. I read them each a short interpretation in the heady mantle of incense which hovered about us -- where went the Wind?

Finally, to the tent, to spend our second Night under the great gaze of the Moon & the starry cloak of beauteous Nyx. 

In the thick of the night, when silence falls over everyone, even the crickets, sometimes the Coyotes (Canis latrans) "howl." If you have ever heard this, you know that "howl" is an inadequate word because their voices do not resemble dogs or wolves in the slightest. They shriek & cry like ghosts. Every time I hear their haunting songs I have a moment of confusion -- what IS that? This night I wake to the deafening silence, only a single errant cricket can be heard. What is wrong with him? Then, from the North, an otherworldly shriek. A rejoinder comes from the South, then another from the East. They are playing at call & response across this corner of the Valley, here at the mouth of the canyon. I feel both blessed & haunted.

We wake early, ensconced in our tent-turned-roaster, baking in the Morning Sun, unzip the tent to greet Breakfast Canyon, the Bovini & a new Day.  

Moon watching from our tent.
Moon watching from our tent.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Poetry for the Esbat: Buck Moon 2014 (A Love Letter.)

A fortuitous gift: "Buck Moon" elk plate.
A fortuitous gift from my sister: "Buck Moon" elk plate.

Yesterday my dear sister gifted me with a stack of plates, each one painted in silver & antique gold with a different ungulate; elk, blackbuck, moose & bighorn sheep. Did she know that this Moon around the corner is best known as the "Buck Moon," or was this gesture just another vibration in the Web?

Since I find myself again in the High Desert for this Esbat, I wanted to share a piece from my growing collection of lichens-in-the-Moonlight poetry. But the dish...

And besides, I miss my husband -- this round, more than ever before. It seems odd that it becomes more difficult as I get older, rather than the inverse.

Ah, Love, so mutable.

With that, I take this excuse(?) to assemble a Love Letter out of a poem about Love & Stags which has little or nothing to do with the Moon at all, except that it does because everything does in the fullness of time. I had selected Tarot cards filled with ungulate imagery, however, I am opting out in favour of the pure potency that comes with simplicity. Just the poetry, please. Those who appreciate Love, the Horned Ones or just the natural thrill of the wilderness, this poem is also for you.

The Stags, by Kathleen Jamie

This is the multitude, the beasts
you wanted to show me, drawing me
upstream, all morning up through wind-
scoured heather to the hillcrest.
Below us, in the next glen, is the grave
calm brotherhood, descended
out of winter, out of hunger, kneeling
like the signatories of a covenant;
their weighty, antique-polished antlers
rising above the vegetation
like masts in a harbor, or city spires.
We lie close together, and though the wind
whips away our man-and-woman smell, every
stag-face seems to look toward us, toward,
but not to us: we’re held, and hold them,
in civil regard. I suspect you’d
hoped to impress me, to lift to my sight
our shared country, lead me deeper
into what you know, but loath
to cause fear you’re already moving
quietly away, sure I’ll go with you,
as I would now, almost anywhere.

To listen to this poem read by the author, please visit: The Poetry Foundation's website

I Love you. I would go with you, almost anywhere.

I Love you too my little sister. And I Love the rest of you, you know who you are.

Blessings to you this Esbat, my friends.

What He Said. (About Magic.)

"The experiences of youth are more relevant, more supportive of the Magic that We share today than Ancient Belief, Popular Occult Fantasy, or Fragmentary Post pagan Secularists and Social Media." -- Bryan Perrin


Yes! Keep speaking our truth my brother.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Public Animas Ceremony Part 4a: Trust Your People: The Costumer

Continued lessons from the Public Animas Ceremony: An Invitation to Passion.

Our Angel of a seamstress. A rare photo taken at a PBG (Brewer's Guild) gathering.
She looked like this for months, regardless of what shenanigans
were perpetrated in her midst, she doggedly seamed, adjusted, altered.

If The Vision is true, it will find the right people. Trust them.

Three people contributed needful infrastructure to this ceremony; the costumer, the choreographer & the Magus/DJ. First, the costumer. 

I began very early with the costuming for the ceremonial Officiants because I knew that constructing any kind of clothing takes time, especially something out of the ordinary, something that comes from the vision of a needlework artist.

I also had set a goal not to allow this event to to become a financial bloodletting -- a condition which has afflicted our community unnecessarily over the past few years. Starting early allows decisions to be made carefully, thoughtfully & also gives ample time to scout for the best pricing. Her words to me after we spent under $100 on notions, fabric & fusing to costume the five Officiants was, "We positively stole that fabric..." And we did.

And after we found her a lovely, unused, adjustable dress form for only $40 thanks to local internet listings, we of course knew, this thing was charmed.

Of course, ultimately, we ended up with subtle differences & the costs inevitably adjusted accordingly.

Aesthetic influence: Mermaid Skirt,  Erte Inspired with Side Train in Silver by Chovihani, Etsy.
Aesthetic influence: Mermaid Skirt, 
 Erte Inspired with Side Train in Silver
by Chovihani, Etsy.
Part of The Vision's aesthetic was influenced by Erté, in particular, an Erté inspired ensemble with a slightly Greco-Roman feel & a mermaid skirt. I am crazy about Erté. I feel his designs & artwork bear a magical subtlety which penetrates the subconscious -- often because what he designed appears simple through the clean lines of his artistic rendering, but in actuality, they are often nearly impossible to execute in reality. 

Our Angel discovered the same after she had settled on this mermaid skirt costume for the central Officiant & drafted some truly lovely, mirror-image Erté designs for the two Officiants on the ends: 

Original Erté inspired designs for Officiants.
Angel's original Erté inspired designs for Officiants.

Several months into the preparations, she sent me a message stating that she struggled long enough to make this design happen & it simply was not practicable, at least not with our cotton poplin. She needed to conjure a new design. Enter the subtle differences.

She settled on an infinity dress design, in a new fabric, which worked out even better really because its versatility will allow the Officiants to use the dresses in the future again & again. Subtle, fortuitous differences.

And for the men, something that just worked beautifully from the beginning.

Men's Officiant design (plus center Officiant ensemble).

What is the significance of costuming? Why is it worth the effort? I can only speak from my own experiences, but I find that when humans put forth the effort to present a well-rounded aesthetic, ritual & ceremony have more psycho-spiritual impact. Aesthetic introduces an element of surprise & evokes a sense of otherworldliness. It also expresses a sense of value -- value for what you have created together, value for what you are presenting to your fellow humans, your spirits, your deities, your tribe. Ceremony is Sacred Theatre, dressing the part is natural procedure.

Chaos in Costume. Animas Officiants doing something... (Certainly not the best photo, but great angles on attire. Photo credit: Papa Faunus
Chaos in Costume. Animas Officiants doing something...
(Certainly not the best photo, but great angles on attire.
Photo credit: Papa Faunus

This is why the magick of a visionary costumer is so essential & why trusting them is a necessity. The ceremony would not have had the same atmosphere without her ideas, efforts, limitless patience & talent. Purchasing pre-made costuming would not have contributed the energy, the passion that these hand made garments brought to the ceremony. Everything Angel gave to this project was imbued in these garments -- her energy-steeped creations charged the Officiants & the event as a whole. She made this ceremony what it was, without her, it would have been something noticeably different. For this, she has our deepest gratitude.

If The Vision is true, it will find the right people. Trust them.

And make sure they know they are valued.

Thank you Angel. Thank you.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

For the Files: Stick Figure Manifesting

This one is for the files.

Stick Figure Manifesting circa mid '90's.
Stick Figure Manifesting circa mid '90's.

All that discussion about magick & manifesting with stick figures provoked some reflection on my part & I realized that I have practiced that technique -- relatively unconsciously -- with some regularity over the years. It reminded me of the drawing above which was pinned on the wall in my cubicle for many Moons until the desire was made manifest.

I have always been auto-shy & living for so many years in a place where public transportation was free didn't encourage me to pony up & get my driver's license. It wasn't until I was 25 years old & found myself relocating to Vermont when I recognized that I could no longer drag my heels. Like a good little do-it-backwards human, I went car shopping long before I obtained my license...

And I fell in love.

With a car.

Sounds like a midlife crisis, I know.

A boxy, black Volvo 850 Sedan. She sang to me her sweet, dark siren's song & it was over -- she had me hook, line & sinker. She was a used rental vehicle driven for a couple of years by a pharmaceutical representative & smelled a bit like his cigarettes, but more like her leather. She was so shiny & square & black... I had to have that car in my life.  

And so I drew that picture of myself with a face-splitting grin beside my Volvo.

This picture didn't manifest instantaneously. I had to take driver's education, find a down payment, pass the driver's exam, apply for a loan... I became pretty good friends with the guys at the Volvo shop by the time I actually acquired the car, taking rides in their nitrous-equipped race cars & joining them for beer at the pubs. I told them I was naming her Pandora. The reply, "Pandora, that's a good name for a black box."

Pandora is sitting under a protective cover in the carport as I write. She can still purr with the best of them, but she's a part-timer now. She & I have perpetrated many feats of bad driving & crossed the country together. People have suggested I replace her with another 850, one with less elemental wear, but that's just not reasonable. That's just not this animist's way.

When you don't have the words, draw it.

Even if it looks ridiculous.

You just might get what you need.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Public Animas Ceremony Part 3: Communicating & Manifesting The Vision (Even Without the Written Word)

More lessons from the Public Animas Ceremony.

Resh K'eljesh in Stick Figures: A Bad Sketch to communicate a Splendid Vision by Moma Fauna
Resh K'eljesh in Stick Figures:
A Bad Sketch to communicate a Splendid Vision
by Moma Fauna

When you don't have the words, draw it.

Even if it looks ridiculous.

Because some things desperately need to be communicated and the people who need to know will understand.

And if The Vision is true, your magick will be true & The Vision will be made manifest.

Resh K'eljesh in the flesh. Photo credit HPS CC.
Resh K'eljesh in the flesh.
Photo credit HPS CC.

Perhaps with some subtle differences...

 Animas Ceremony Officiants in Stick Figures: A Bad Sketch to communicate a Splendid Vision by Moma Fauna
Animas Ceremony Officiants in Stick Figures:
A Bad Sketch to communicate a Splendid Vision
by Moma Fauna

Animas Ceremony Officiants in the flesh. Photo credit Papa Faunus.
Animas Ceremony Officiants in the flesh.
Photo credit Papa Faunus.

And if you draw a great many pictures...

Animas Ceremony Officiant's  gestures # 1-4.Animas Ceremony Officiant's  gestures # 5-8.

Animas Ceremony Officiant's  gestures # 9-13. Animas Ceremony Officiant's  gestures # 14-16.

Here and above, Animas Ceremony Officiant's  gestures # 1-17.
Here and above, Animas Ceremony Officiant's
gestures # 1-17. cannot help but manifest. 

Oh, how I adore magick.

Animas Ceremony Officiants: Gesture #18 --  just one of those subtle differences. Note the rainbow -- also a subtle & very welcome difference. Photo Credit: PCC-AK FB.
Animas Ceremony Officiants: Gesture #18 --
just one of those subtle differences.
Note the rainbow -- also a subtle & very welcome difference.
Photo Credit: PCC-AK FB.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Public Animas Ceremony Part 2: Having A Vision

Watercolour by Alica Wolter Hausser Photo: MomaFauna
Watercolour by Alica Wolter Hausser
Photo: MomaFauna

"One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star." -- Friedrich Nietzsche

Perched on the bed across from my beloved I tried to verbalize something beyond description,

"It's not really about the dance or the ceremony, it's bigger than that. Something is happening with me & I don't know exactly what it is, but it's much larger & more complex than I can explain.

"I know."

"You do? What makes you say that?"

"I would never have taken you for a person who would put herself out there like this, dancing before an audience, organizing something like this…"

"True… before, I would never do this sort of thing... what is with that? And  I am doing this crazy thing & with little to no worries…"

Every rite, ritual or ceremony must begin with a Vision. Unless it doesn't. 

It is difficult to pinpoint when this great undertaking, this transformative journey was first birthed. I recall feeling inspired by a Samhain social event hosted by a large Anchorage-based organization, Wiccans of Alaska (WoA) -- The 1st Annual Witches Ball. It was not so much that this event was earthshaking in any particular way, except that strangely, unexpectedly, many of us perceived it to be more potent, more fruitful & nourishing to our community than countless other rites and rituals gone by.  After much mulling & conversation, it eventually became clear to me that what that four hour evening of dining, drinking & dancing really provided was Joy. Pure, uncomplicated Joy & fellowship, the likes of which so many humans find themselves chronically shortchanged.

I don't do public ritual work, unless I have to because someone or Someone asked me specifically & I feel the need to Facilitate-Their-Bliss. As I told the husband, I don't know how this happened & in order to avoid displaying just how poorly I remember things these days, I will simply say that something happened after Samhain & somehow I conjured, heard, formulated, captured, accepted, stumbled upon... a Vision.

A Vision that would not accept "No."

And somehow, I convinced nine extraordinary people to sign on to this Vision. Then I convinced an extraordinary choreographer, dj-magus, costumer & a collection of extraordinary artists to collude with us... Perhaps not in that exact order, but as I mentioned, I cannot remember.

And the sheer insanity of it all was that I had only fleeting sensation of doubt which occurred only moments before the rodeo commenced when I found myself herding cats... & those doubts rested firmly with the audience, not with our crew or what we were poised to offer... This thing was charmed.

The ceremony, at it's core, was an offering -- an epic offering. Like a set of nesting dolls, it housed many lesser offerings, all of it, for the Spirits & our community. It was a gift intended to invite, inspire & transform, thereby giving ad infinitum... The entire process of bringing this thing to fruition was also an offering & required a series of sacrifices from the lot of us. Perhaps I am offering obsessed. Or perhaps it is That-which-drives-me which has such predilections. Either way, it works. 

This animist ceremony was in large part, for humans, by humans -- a nourishing, nurturing Animas Ceremony. We humans need respect & relationship too.

Interestingly, I never put this Vision into written words until the Pagan Community Center - Willow Director requested a synopsis for the PCC Summer Solstice Festival website. Ostensibly, that is what follows -- A Vision, in synopsis, which demands an extensive unraveling to be truly understood.


Summer Solstice Animas Ceremony & Ecstatic Dance Event: An Invitation to Passion
Hosted by the Resh K'eljesh sacred dance troupe and Moma Fauna, animist-at-large.
Our formal, "New Animist" styled presentation of offerings and invitation will begin with a poetic invocation of Passion and the spirits thereof, followed by an expressive evocation of Passion through sacred dance.
Amidst abundant offerings both allegorical and romantic, you will be drawn to join us in free-form movement and trance inspired by a musical collage uniquely crafted by DJ and acoustical magus Gabriel.
Participants will also find additional opportunities to consort with their muses through written expression and a variety of visual arts.
We hope you delight in this experience and find it both inspirational and transformative. This is our gift to you, our community and to the spirits that accompany us on our journey.
A silent auction featuring specially crafted sacred art ceremonial offering bowls will offer you an opportunity to take home a beautiful commemorative piece from this special event and your purchase will help us produce future ceremonial events like this.
~ Resh K'eljesh

Monday, June 30, 2014

Public Animas Ceremony Part I: Breaking in the Bellwether

New Animist Bellwether. Summer Solstice 2014 incarnation.
New Animist Bellwether. Summer Solstice 2014 incarnation.

"Unlike the common use of bells to mark commencement of a rite to group members, the Bellwether is used for extra-group communication... what I feel is a natural desire to draw attention to our entrance, arrival, availability, affability & interest in communicating with, celebrating, honouring, etc., the other-than-human world... the Bellwether's principal function in this formula is not to announce the arrival of the herd, but rather to express our awareness & availability. It indicates that we are initiating & entering a unique occasion. It says, 'Please pardon us. We know You know we're here. But today, we're not just passing through, absentmindedly doing our people-things. Today, we are here for You. Care to join us?'"  -- Moma Fauna, Doodling in Class: "The Animist's Bellwether"

Here I begin the epic chronicling of our first public "Animas Ceremony." (An Invitation to Passion) I gave it that name after a slight error of words in an email enquiry I received (a substitution of animas for animist) -- a fortuitous & lovely error. "Animas" or "soul" a "Soul Ceremony." Yes.

This was a gift to our community, driven & inspired by influences unseen. And so, after more than six months of practice, preparation & participation, the ceremony erupted from the forests of Alaska with echoes of joy & passion & the yearnings for the possibilities thereof...

A New Animist & her Bellwether. (Moma Fauna herding cats.)
A New Animist & her Bellwether.
(Moma Fauna herding cats.)
I begin with the Bellwether because it is the signal, the symbol of the forefront, the beginning, the sign of Commencement. In the process of preparing it, I recognized that the Bellwether, like other ceremonial participants, is not static. Thus, it will receive new dressings as the occasion indicates.

On this inaugural occasion, the Bellwether taught me something -- an irony of sorts. The irony of the Bellwether, or perhaps it is not so ironic but rather predictable in a human world, is that it's function may be more truly as a tool for "the leading of sheep of a flock" or, in our case, the herding of cats than as a communication device for the other-than-human world. But that is just fine really. Perhaps its function is as fluid as it's appearance, changing to suit the needs of the moment.

So it is with these things. We cannot know until we take the leap to know them.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

I Aways Come Back to You & Your Woo...

June 24th, afternoon.

I am wandering with the wee folk, collecting wild rose (Rosa aciculariso or R. nutkanapetals) for a rose petal vinaigrette. 
Maybe some dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) leaves for a dandelion mustard.
I stop in a clearing between some birch (Betula neoalaskana) and black spruce (Picea mariana) because both boys want to pee.

And then I feel it.
I look about. There must be something, someone here...  But I don't find the source of this energy, this dizzying woo, this psycho-spiritual play on the body which cannot be described but only experienced.

I see nothing of note. Where are you?

Then I abandon the search when the Changeling begins to get radical with his clothing removal, figuring I might have been having a false alarm. After all, it is quite early in the season & it has been very dry...

As I am tackling the wee one in the duff, attempting to save his naked flesh from the flocks of mosquitos clamouring to get at his tiny bottom, I hear our eldest gasp & shout from behind me:



We both turn & scramble to him. The spot where the Little Lad is now hovering, clutching his camera, is the precise spot where I had been standing.

Two tiny, precious little slimes, hidden in the shadows of the strong, slanted sunlight popped into view with the gesture of his finger. 

Wolf's Milk Slime (Lycogala epidendrum)
Wolf's Milk Slime (Lycogala epidendrum)

I was standing on that log. Had I not been so still, I might have trampled them. In all that scanning the micro-landscape, I hadn't thought to look down at my feet.

Wolf's Milk Slime (Lycogala epidendrum)
Wolf's Milk Slime (Lycogala epidendrum)

And this might seem inconsequential to most humans, probably nearly all humans... but for the humans who find themselves entangled with me & this slime, this encounter speaks volumes about connections complex & inexplicable.

Friday, June 27, 2014

A Test.

Just look at who appeared in the lawn last week...

Orange Hawkweed (Hieracium aurantiacum) buds
Orange Hawkweed (Hieracium aurantiacum) buds

Winking, only from our lawn.
Not any of the neighbors' lawns.
Only our lawn --
in three different places.


I think not.

Orange Hawkweed (Hieracium aurantiacum)
Orange Hawkweed (Hieracium aurantiacum) 

Orange Hawkweed (Hieracium aurantiacum)
Orange Hawkweed (Hieracium aurantiacum) 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What He Said. (About Me.) (& the Maybe Blood Moon.)

"Mom, you talk to the Moon too much." -- The Changeling

I beg to differ... 
& were I predisposed to arguing, I might...
But I won't.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Poetry for the Esbat: Maybe Moon, 2014

XVII: The Moon from The Lost Tarot of Nostradamus, by John Matthews & Wil Kinghan, a peculiar deck which also contains a Suit of Moons.
XVII: The Moon (& others) from The Lost Tarot of Nostradamus,
by John Matthews & Wil Kinghan.
This is a curious deck which significantly, contains a Suit of Moons.

Maybe it is, Maybe it isn't.

Llewellyn calls it the Wind Moon. 
That makes sense in our desert bioregion...

Here in indecisive Alaska, it seems it might be the Soggy-Except-When-I-Think-I-Might-Snow-Again Moon. Is it Spring yet? Maybe. Maybe we will just call this the Maybe Moon.

A Witch told me that he heard from another Witch who said she heard it from some other Witches who heard it somewhere out in the world that this Moon is very significant to those who believe in the merits of certain ancient prophecies. This was news to me. I am told they call it the Blood Moon & that this is the first of four which are indicative of the END. Or something. Maybe.

Nevermind that this has happened before with no noticeable effects. But, let the dooms-dayers believe what they want to believe... after all, I choose to worship the Moon & Night & Her children among Others & isn't that just kooky too...

And I prefer to put my stock in the prophecies of science fiction writers who, it appears, thus far have the better record. Too bad.

So while we humans are all predicting the END, or not. I will share an incredible piece of poetry written by Welshman Mark Tredinnick. Tredinnick is a former lawyer & book editor who holds both an MBA and a PhD from the University of Western Sydney’s School of Social Ecology as well as numerous awards for his poetry. He is a founder of ASLE-ANZ, the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment & spends much of his writing time exploring "the attachment to place as well as the intrinsic qualities of landscape."

I have had this piece saved in my Poetry Foundation app (yes, I have an app for reading poetry, on a phone, which is all SO terribly sci-fi...) for over a year now. I read it from time to time, but it is a bit hard on my feelers. This is a challenging piece. This is an extraordinary piece. This seems to me to be the most appropriate response to this first Blood Moon & this stuff about the END that I could ever conjure. So here it is.

Red Moon Eclogues by Mark Tredinnick

Every year the moon inches away from us. In time she’ll swim too far out
to anchor us at our habitual angle to the sun, and that will be the end
of the well-tempered and recursive wildness
                                                             that conceived and suffered us,
and that will be the end of us. We have just two
billion years to thank her for our time here. Eternity has a use-by date

But it’ll be up long before that, and in the meantime,
I sit on the cold step of the cowshed and watch the world throw its shadow
on the moon like a horseblanket;
                                                             in the meantime the moon reddens
in the refraction of all our dawns and sunsets, in a kind of transfigured cosmic
smog. An apocalypse that lasts three hours until it’s time to go to bed.

And in the meantime on the floor of my shed, blue planets sing in the hands
of children as they once sang in war. Two small worlds forged to cry terribly down
like creation unravelling upon one’s foes now
                                                               make a peaceful clangour on my secular desk.
One spins from its orbit and quakes and chips its cerulean shell on the floor
of heaven. The tectonics of play. We are loved like this, and this is how it ends.

I’m arguing a lot with death these days. And last night I found myself
in court poised to clinch the case against the absurdity of life.
Certainly, this was sleeping and certainly
                                                            I was dreaming and I’d been losing the thread,
but all at once I saw where my argument must run, and I was running it there
when my small boy cried and woke me and I went to him and now I’ll never know.

Spring now, and the river has drawn back her bow. The lark ascends
from the cd-player, and black ducks sip brown ditchwater in the yard.
Everything’s in bud or leaf, last of all
                                                              the silver poplars and the Osage Orange,
trees flaring even now in the backyard of the childhood of my friend, the poet,
the poet’s son. The world happens twice. Draw the linen string taut and shoot.

One lives in paradox. Debussy plays; trucks flounder past like gods
who’ve lost control of their machines. In between one makes one’s life up.
The sound is the price you pay for the sight
                                                             that meets you every morning and half
of what you paid for the house. The shed puts the perfect sky in her pocket,
and possums rut in the roof. Eternity is in rehearsal, and this is its soundtrack.

Brad mows an acre an hour. A general at ease on his machine, a banker
in overalls, he’s rationalised our small republic on one tank of gas. And this now—
cutgrass at four o’clock—is how
                                                              hope smells. Some days I can see no way out:
the body of the world in entropy. But today I sit among the ruins
of the afternoon, and I cannot see how it can’t all go on forever.

Meantime the moon has made herself new again, and there has been rain.
The Marulan hills, which had almost forgotten the taste of the word,
are spelling green again this afternoon,
                                                             and there’s water in a lake that’s been a paddock
for a decade. Three black cockatoos, and then three more, fly over as I take
the southwest road. And into all this panoply of hope, the new moon falls.

Blessings to you this Esbat, my friends.

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