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.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

What He Said. (About Animism, Occultism & Housekeeping, Part 3)

A final tidbit of What-He-Said (for now, anyway...)

“Everywhere we look is nature — thoughts of the gods. These thoughts — living elemental beings — had a relationship with human beings in the past. Now they want to enter into a relationship with human beings once again. If one takes some object seriously, one discovers that it arose through a process — it reveals a history. They're wonderful exercises for this. At lunch one can say for example: ‘The salt is now Mr. Salt. How does he look, this is Mr. Salt?’ One can approach the creative elements of imagination in this way.” 

--Manfred Schmidt-Brabant, The Spiritual Tasks of the Homemaker

Saturday, September 26, 2015

What He Said. (About Animism, Occultism & Housekeeping, Part 2)

More of what he said:

How can the community within the home approach this elemental world?" 
"A beginning is made when someone makes it his task to take every object into his hand in as attentive away as possible and use it as if it were a living being. This is a long process. Mankind has become accustomed to viewing objects in a rational and functional way, which also influences how things are treated. This doesn't mean that one should become sentimental or sacrifice clarity. One can hit a nail with a hammer exactly and carefully and still express loving interest.”
--Manfred Schmidt-Brabant, The Spiritual Tasks of the Homemaker

What. He. Said.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

What He Said. (About Animism, Occultism & Housekeeping, Part 1)

"...(you/I/we) can't know..." The old adage of the Not-So-Little-Anymore Lad shot through my mind as I lifted this book from the shelf with more than a little bit of suspicion. But you must engage to know...

“The etheric world does not consist of solid, measurable, graspable aspects, but rather of processes, movement and interpenetration. It is thus not a world of things but of living beings. If one enters it one becomes aware that it is only in the physical world that things appear lifeless. For wherever material is handled, there are processes. Rudolf Steiner gave an often cited example: to the homemaker who complained to him that her household responsibilities gave her no time to read his lecture cycles he answered gravely, ‘When you clean your living room, you release elemental beings. When you read a lecture cycle, you release no elemental beings.’ This means that cleaning has an influence. Everywhere dirt gathers elemental beings are held fast. For them the moist cloth means release. This is practical occultism.”   
--Manfred Schmidt-Brabant, The Spiritual Tasks of the Homemaker

Monday, September 21, 2015

What He Said. (About Sight.)

There’s so much more to see in the Forest of Sight. But I suppose there's a lot to see everywhere, if only you keep your eyes open.” 
— Alec Bings, from The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Yes, everywhere.

A neighborhood Shaggy Mane, Coprinus comatus
A neighborhood Shaggy Mane, Coprinus comatus.

Aurora borealis,  dancing over the cell tower on a neighboring apartment building.
Aurora borealis,
dancing over the cell tower on a neighboring apartment building.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Wandering: I Am Not Ready... But I Can Smell It Coming Anyway.

... and she cocked her head quizzically & said to me, "I didn't take you for a Sun worshipper..."

The Sun. A needful thing.


Actually, I didn't have to wander far, only to the poppy patch to harvest pods & seeds for the shrine & next season. That is where I smelled it. 

I have been waiting for that scent. It has been absent in the face of all the other signs;

like the distinctive slant of the Sun's light,

and the waft of sweet decay from the Highbush Cranberries,

and oh, no, no, no, the Termination Dust that sneaked it's way onto the mountains without my notice,

and the early arrival of Nightfall,

and the Frost which blanketed the yard this morning... late into the morning.

But that smell, the smell of Autumn, I must have missed it through the congestion but yesterday it traveled into my nostrils, touched my sensory organs & made contact with my brain & it was so welcome & unwanted, so beloved & distressing. 


I smiled at her & chuckled at the glaring irony. Then I said, "I'm not. Not exactly. My body... my body needs the Sun as my Spirit needs the Night."

The Sun. A needful thing.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Mycophilia: Perpetrating Pagan Standard Time

Perpetrating Pagan Standard Time:
gathering Lycophyllum decastes,
the "Fried Chicken Mushroom" 
As a principle, I do not approve of "PST" or, what is commonly referred to as "Pagan Standard Time." I think the concept serves to absolve the chronically tardy, disorganized, self-absorbed, irresponsible & generally lazy folk. 

However, I contributed to the delay of the public Mabon ceremonies this past weekend... for the Love of Fungi. 

Guilty as charged & pretty unapologetic, I even included other humans in my bad behavior. Fungi. They own me

(I also don't approve of collecting fungi with plastic bags, but that was what was piled up at the ceremony site & that's what you get when you arrive unprepared. Makes me wonder though, all those people there to do some "Earth worship" with their plastic grocery bags...) 

Friday, September 4, 2015

In a Room Full of Reptiles, You Are the One I Love. (And the Weirdness of Entanglement.)

Sheltopusik (Pseudopus apodus) or Scheltopusik,  the European Legless Lizard or "Glass Snake."
Sheltopusik (Pseudopus apodus) or Scheltopusik,
the European Legless Lizard or "Glass Snake." 

I Love you like a fan girl. There is no explaining it, so I won't try. 

Arabella, zealot of the White Worm.  illustration from Bram Stoker's  1st ed. Lair of the White Worm.  Image courtesy Wikipedia.
Arabella, zealot of the White Worm.
illustration from Bram Stoker's
1st ed. Lair of the White Worm.
Image courtesy Wikipedia.

How can you anticipate that when you enter a room full of strange reptiles & arthropods that you will find yourself overcome by a crush that threatens to drive you to plaster pictures of someone -- a legless lizard no less -- on your dressing mirror? 

"This lizard inhabits open country such as short grassland or sparsely wooded hills. The scheltopusik consumes arthropods and small mammals. Snails and slugs appear to be its favorite prey, which may explain why it is particularly active in wet weather, although it prefers a dry habitat.
Due to its size, the scheltopusik tends to respond to harassment by hissing, biting, and musking. It is less likely to drop off its tail than some other species that display caudal autotomy. However, these occasional displays of caudal autotomy are responsible for the name "glass lizard" (or "glass snake"). The released tail may break into pieces, leading to the myth that the lizard can shatter like glass and reassemble itself later..." -- Wikipedia

Who needs the rest of the exhibit, the fair, or the world, when I had you?

But perhaps there is more at work than meets the eye. 
I suspect Weirdness (or Wyrdness). 


Lair of the White Worm, 1911. 1st ed. illustration by Pamela Colman Smith (also illustrator of the Rider-Waite Tarot)
Lair of the White Worm, 1911.
1st ed. illustration by Pamela Colman Smith
(also illustrator of the Rider-Waite Tarot)
I could not shake the esoteric feeling that this Sheltopusik was recalling to me the White Worm from Bram Stoker's unpopular horror novel, The Lair of the White Worm. I confess that this is a book I still have yet to read, but I do possess it & revisit from to time with a certain ambivalence since my copy is an electronic version & I dislike e-books. However, I have seen Ken Russell's campy film (not his best work -- I am guilty of a wee bit of Russell fan-hood too) which is loosely based on the Stoker book & I always suspected that the book itself might offer a more interesting story.

I decided to look up a synopsis of the Stoker book & discovered that the story is based on the legend of the Lambton Worm, a tale from North East England. The story, as with all oral tradition, changes some with every telling, but the basic plot revolves around a battle with a giant worm, or dragon. Stoker's adaptation involves cult-like mesmerism, vampiric themes & brazenly discards the traditional dragon slaying for a more dramatic & explosive conclusion. 

The personal Weirdness begins to develop with an unexplained reference to Lewis Carrol's Jabberwocky I found in the end notes of the Wikipedia article for the Lair of the White Worm text. Now, Carroll's Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass are books I read during my childhood more times than I can count. The Jabberwocky was the one poem which I loved so dearly that I memorized it in it's entirety & would recite to family members from time to time in order to impress or entertain -- depending upon the person, of course. 

Perhaps you are my Jabberwock, returned to me?


This chain of connections would me more nostalgic & less Weird/Wyrd if it weren't for the fact that -- unbeknownst to me -- on the other side of the ocean, another human organism very similar to & yet different from myself was simultaneously being drawn to the very same text, not by way of a captivating reptilian encounter, but by way of a different yet similarly campy 1980's American film

And I can't quite wrap my brain around that.

The glass snake as featured in early American iconography.
"Un serpent coupe en deux. Se rejoindre or mourir" or
"Join or Die," by Benjamin Franklin
Image from this article.

Supplemental Weirdness: 

"In 1989, screenwriter Anthony Shaffer wrote a film treatment for The Loathsome Lambton Worm, a direct sequel to his 1973 film The Wicker Man. The sequel would have involved the original film's protagonist, a Scottish police officer, battling the Lambton Worm. However, it was never produced."
-- Wikipedia
The Wicker Man. Quite possibly my favourite film of all time. Wyrd.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

August Moon, 2015: Que Será, Será, Part 2: The Mushroom Moon Shrine

Mushroom Moon Shrine, 2015. Que Será, Será
Mushroom Moon Shrine, 2015.
Que Será, Será

Que Será, Será

Whatever will be, will be.

Things do not always go as we wish. 
Things cannot always be explained. 
Things are often beyond our control.

The Esbat found our family very ill with the annual/inaugural first-of-the-schoolyear plague. This must be how we celebrate, or something. Somehow I missed that memo. 

Because I am the mother, I always go down last. It is the unspoken rule that we mothers will remain well until the rest of the brood is on the mend, then we will succumb. This makes me very leery of a zombie apocalypse as I do not relish being one of the last left standing. It also left me the one in the clutches of an achy, phlegmy disaster as the Esbat arrived. 

Flying in the face of ritual illness & bioregional changes, we managed to drag our sorry team into the forest to perform our annual procession through an equally sorry neighborhood of fungi. 

On this trip, my husband wandered astray to leave an offering of steel cut oats at the site of the Gyrfalcon's (Falco rusticolus) decay site. It is curious, the things that stay with us, move & motivate us as reflective critters. While I cannot bear to revisit that spot, he makes a point to return there with some regularity.

State of the shrine site upon our arrival.
State of the shrine site upon our arrival. 
At the end of our procession, we arrived at the site of the Mushroom Moon Shrine & began our ceremonious assembly of this idiosyncratic offering of gratitude. Our basket contents looked like we had made a lackluster attempt to find assemblage supplies. A scant few withered fungi inadequately littered the bottoms of our compact wooden baskets. Yet, this was not for lack of effort, it was for lack of fungi

In my cold-suppressant haze, I left my purse behind at the house. This found me without my drinking water, pencil, poetic resources, or my consecrated mushroom knife adding to the general feeling of lacking that the circumstances already provided. At least I had found the presence of mind to bring supplementary offerings from home -- dried Amanita muscaria caps, fuchsia blossoms, rose petals & the Papaver pods from 2013's devotional garden

I stood for a moment resisting despondency. Then, in my mind came the voices of Takashi & Matsuko Yamada from Isao Takahata's "My Neighbors the Yamadas" singing Que Será, Será. In the film, the song follows a protracted wedding speech by Takashi which, to the momentary horror of the entire wedding reception, highlights the futility of human existence. Somehow he manages to turn it around at the end into a statement on the power of human relationships & from there he & his wife Matsuko launch into a not entirely talented rendition of the song. 

I decided to wander further while the rest of the family worked with what was in the baskets & in my sense of absurdity, I considered cuing up the Yamadas' performance. But, as is the way of the internet, my search bought me something very different. Doris Day. As if handed to me with a smirk by some ironic, virtual hipster, there it was. And I had to laugh at this terribly out of context music as I followed the path further, dodging into the brush from time to time in the hopes of... something. 

Less than halfway into the song, I heard what I thought at first was Ravens recoiling at Doris Day & her child-populated chorus's saccharine vibes. But turning down the sound, I realized that what I was hearing was something I had never heard before...

Who are these birds? Cranes? Herons? There's a message here (at least one): don't forget to look beyond where you spend most of your time. For me, this means get my face out of the duff & look up from time to time. It also means don't bring Doris Day into the forest, she doesn't belong there. Nor does the internet in general.

I reckon it also means that there are other treasures to be cherished, not just the ones you think you want.

But first you need to discover & know them.

I went back the family that I treasure -- all of whom were clucking over the large, long-necked flock of birds which had circled the area & then continued on their journey. The shrine looked pretty nice, despite the scant resources & general withered nature of everything. Perhaps it is really the heart, intention & Love put into a creation that engenders true beauty.

Shrine with Papaver pods from 2013's devotional garden  bound with a strand from my Summer Solstice belt.
Shrine with Papaver pods from 2013's devotional garden
bound with a strand from my Summer Solstice belt. 

Message of gratitude carved in a Birch polypore (Piptoporus betulinus)
Message of gratitude
carved in a Birch Polypore (Piptoporus betulinus)

Message of gratitude carved in a young Tinder Polypore (Fomes Fomentarius).
Message of gratitude carved in a
young Tinder Polypore (Fomes Fomentarius). 

Message of surrender on birch bark -- in purple sharpie. Because that's all we had.
Message of surrender on birch bark --
in purple sharpie. Because that's all we had.

Eyelash cups (Scutellinia scutellata)

Desiccated Rosy russula (Russula rosea)
Desiccated Rosy russula (Russula rosea)



Que Será, Será...

And yes, despite it all, we are most grateful.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

August Moon, 2015: Que Será, Será, Part 1

Luna & Her Halo: Winter is coming, que será, será.
Luna & Her Halo:
Winter is coming: que será, será.

Que Será, Será

I wake this morning to find a piece from EarthSky about another record. They are always posting records. Depressing records. Records like the hottest month in history, the longest drought on record & this morning, Record-breaking three Category 4 hurricanes in Pacific. All this of course points to certain changes which belie our untempered behavior as a collective. Some of us call it "collapse" others call it "progress."

One afternoon, several years ago, my neighbors' entire pasture full of quarter horses broke loose, running past the barn, around our house & into our front yard where I was tending to young trees.  
I heard them before I saw them & recognized the sound of their approach -- this was not the first time they had escaped. In the moment I realized what was coming, they were just taking the front corner of the house. By then it was too late to exercise options.  
In the past, my neighbor had advised us to "make ourselves big & loud," but I knew better. Those horses don't take a gentle critter like me seriously -- I may as well be a hamster with carrots. Thus, on this occasion, I just braced myself with my shovel & stood there stock-still, awaiting the storm.  
I cannot stop a runaway freight train & I cannot stop a mob of wild-ass quarter horses bent on liberation. In the final assessment, the power & inevitability of the train & the horses is the same in relationship to me.  
If you have ever stood in the path of such a surge, you might recognize the sensation of quiet surrender. I remember in this particular instance, closing my eyes & clinging to the shovel handle like a windswept rag clinging to a pole in a hurricane. In that moment, what could I say but "whatever will be, will be"?
Some things are so huge that we can only be accountable to ourselves & to our own sense of values. Some things are so huge that they bring our sense of values down to only our most bare, intrinsic values. When I stand in the path of thousands of pounds of muscle & bone, moving with the precision of one fervent body, I know better than to behave unpredictably -- because what I value in that moment is my own muscle & bone. 

Sometimes a situation is too massive, too dynamic, too capricious on the larger scale to be addressable by the individual. This is when I feel the need to cling to my own bottom lines & do my best to remain true to what I value most.

In the case of this "progressive-collapse" I can only be accountable to myself & my loved ones, human & otherwise. I live my moments, clinging to the pole & doing my best to behave in accordance with my values while I watch the Earth react to the exploits of human kind. 

It is difficult to relate to or respond to large disasters, crises & emergencies outside one's own sphere of influence. And yet while it is much easier to understand & recognize the subtler changes in a local environment, it is still a challenge to find an appropriate response.

This is my sphere. I live in it. This year my sphere has been fraught with an endless array of changes, some subtle, others, not so much. This Moon cycle has pressed the issue because this is the time of our Mushroom Moon Shrine & the fungi are just not fruiting -- not in this heat & dryness & well, change

The horses are already turning the corner. The brakes on the train have failed. It is too late to prevent the rampage, but perhaps if enough of us can look to our own base values -- like survival & more importantly, the longer term survival of our kin -- & behave accordingly, we might have some calming influence on the runaway torrents. 

I am not fooled by a savior complex, inuring activism or by the rantings of extremists on either side. This planet balks at us, yet its residents will still run amok -- us & them. But wouldn't it be a relief to see everyone eventually slow to halt?

"...there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness..."
-- Charles Bukowski

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Muditā or "Facilitating Bliss"

A Witch "Queen" & her tools.
A Witch "Queen" & her tools. 

"Muditā (Pāli and Sanskrit: मुदिता) means joy; especially sympathetic or vicarious joy. Also: the pleasure that comes from delighting in other people's well-being..." -- Wikipedia

A kindred spirit recently mentioned the Japanese concept of jiri rita enman, or the harmony of self-benefitting & benefitting others. In his correspondence, he mentioned this concept from an act of 'doing for the sake of doing' which may or not be quite the same as a practice I call "Facilitating Bliss." Where this behavior may differ from jiri rita enman is that I engage in certain activities quite consciously -- with premeditation -- knowing that I will benefit from the experience of Muditā, or gaining joy from the joy, growth, advantage or bliss (& sometimes recovery) of others. 

Facilitating Bliss is a relationship style, a "practice," "tradition" or "Lifeway" (to use a specifically animistic term). It is a way of engaging, relating & cultivating. It is a supporting role, sometimes essential, but rarely central to the stage. I do this for the benefit of my persons (particularly the human ones) & for the experience or sensation of Muditā. It happens that this practice has additional benefits -- if the persons in my world are being enriched, our world in general is enriched -- everyone & everything becomes increasingly juicy.

I also do it because I believe that anything I can do to honour the Old Ones, the spirits of place, or my kindreds is worth my energy & dedication. 

This means that sometimes I assist & participate in things that may or may not be my "thing" in an aesthetic or ceremonial way but still serve to Facilitate Bliss. And as Graham Harvey so eloquently stated,

"It isn't about (me) you. It isn't without (me) you. 
There is only one world. We live in it together."

A ceremonial or mock hazing of sorts: returning to the tweenage years.
A ceremonial or mock hazing of sorts: returning to the tweenage years.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Thoughts While Waiting (Impatiently). A Bout of Gratitude & Observation (turned prayer).

This week my husband suggested that we "might have to give up on the idea of mushrooms this season..." to which I squirmed & balked & grumbled & subsequently chose to ignore.

But there is a dearth of fungi here this season. It is true. 

In a way, maybe this is a good thing. Sort of. I guess. 
It is in the sense that we have had to turn our attention to other things. Things overlooked, but things that also fill our hearts & imaginations. They are not fungi, but still, as I reflect, I am grateful.

When we turn our eyes from the duff, what more is there to discover?

The World. (In no particular Order.)

Just allow me open spaces to roam, please.
Just allow me open spaces to roam, please.

And Mysteries to solve.
And Mysteries to solve...
A stone left at Hubby's workplace. Turns out this is
Norwegian translated to runic, it says, roughly,
"There is no cake served in hell."

Twinflowers (Linnaea borealis)
And flowers to Learn, Know & Nurture...
Wild ones, like the Twinflowers (Linnaea borealis)

Buttercup (Ranuculus, spp.)
And Buttercup (Ranuculus, spp.)

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium L. var. borealis),  white & pink varieties.
Or Yarrow (Achillea millefolium L. var. borealis),
white & pink varieties.

Strawberry Blite (Blitum capitatum)
And Strawberry Blite (Blitum capitatum) -- coated with
 insect reproductive activity of some sort, I suspect.

Foxglove (Digitalis spp.)
A Foxglove (Digitalis spp.) at the front doorstep

Fuchsia, "Blackie" (Fuchsia, spp.)
A Fuchsia, "Blackie" (Fuchsia, spp., one of many) in back.

Poppies (Papaver, spp.)
And Poppies (Papaver, spp.)
everywhere in between.

Show me other folks' homes to  discover, admire, emulate...
Show me other folks' creations to
discover, admire, emulate... 

And the Secrets of Freedom, Play & Art.
And allow me to indulge in their
creative Secrets, Free Play & Art...

Always remembering that everything, everything from eating to breathing to sleeping is an Art... (especially if there is a basil sorbet involved...)
Always remembering that everything, everything
from eating to breathing to sleeping is an Art...

(especially if there is a basil sorbet involved...)

(...or a local rhubarb-infused vodka, paired with  friendship & sacred choreography planning)
(...or a local rhubarb-infused vodka, paired with
friendship & sacred choreography planning)

Witches' Altar. Lammas 2015.
And may I always be an open witness...
Witches' Altar. Lammas 2015.

Labyrinth, Anchorage, July 2015.
Labyrinth, Anchorage, July 2015.

Laybrinth, Kasilof, August 2015.
Laybrinth, Kasilof, August 2015.

Especially Play.
Especially to Play.

And more Play.
And more Play.

Let me look to the Earth & the Sea & the Sky...
And everything in between.

And moreover...

Please let me recognize & embrace  the aesthetic of every human moment.
Please let me recognize & embrace
the aesthetic of every human moment...

Let me respect my own mortality,  (wounds packed with Yarrow & bound with Plantain)
Let me respect my own mortality,
(Also let me know my allies: wounds packed 
with Yarrow & bound with Plantain)

And that of others... Shrew (Sorex, spp.)
And that of others...
Shrew (Sorex, spp.)

Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) remains.
Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) remains.

and please, let me laugh,
And please, let me laugh, 
(Thank you Llewellyn.)

Moma Fauna, Joy in Dance
experience Joy, 

and Love.
and Love.

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