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.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Wandering: Squirrelhenge

Out of the ordinary weather conditions often call for out of the ordinary adaptations. When in the stillness of the aberrant heat, the fungi fail to call, listen for the voices of others...

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Poetry for the Esbat: Witch Moon 2015

View of a very special place, from a very special place  near the ocean, in Alaska.
View of a very special place, from a very special place
near the ocean, in Alaska.

Which Moon is this?

I have called it the Blessing Moon... or was it the Corn Moon?
And I have called it the Wyrt (Wort) Moon.
I have called it the Isn't She Lovely Moon.
I have also called it either the Buck Moon or the Night Life Moon or Beetle Moon, but I am not prepared to count...

I may also have mentioned it as a Blue Moon, which it is, once again.

But this time, I shall call it the "Witch Moon." 

Tomorrow we shall embark upon an unusual adventure. We will travel several hours to a quiet location, nestled upon the shore of the Cook Inlet. We are traveling there for a beachside gathering of Witches.

I do not consider myself a Witch. Some Witches do. Perhaps this is why I was offered the invitation, or maybe somehow I have charmed them, or something. 

But I got to thinking about the Witch: The Witch as a representation of all that is untamed, unruly & not easily contained. The Witch as something that offends the moderate senses & confuses the tractable mind.  The Witch, who more often than not, represents (Woman's, in particular) noncompliance, paired with primitive intuition. This last point, for me, reaches right into the heart of the Feral Self. 

The Witch operates independently of the rules, or at least those held dear by a social majority. She explores & operates past the boundaries of what is familiar. Her life ways, imagination, sense of self, aesthetic, relationship, power, etc. do not correspond to those of persons who stand outside her. Despite the scorn of her rebellion & unorthodox ways, she retains a inextinguishable allure.

I think it is her freedom, her independence & her willingness to consider hidden possibilities which cause people to wax romantic -- despite their disapproval -- when they consider the Witch. Were all the Witches to disappear from the Earth, they would leave a gaping hole behind, a yearning which could never be satisfied.  

There are many kinds of Witches. Some are classic, easy to identify. Others may come as a complete surprise. In the end I suppose, they are perhaps, as simple as all of us who are not entirely domesticated… 

For this Witches' Full Moon, I offer two poems which speak to me of precisely this paradoxical pair of sentiments: Rejection & Romance. Both poems are not exactly about Witches & yet they are  entirely about Witches. 

Witchgrass by Louise Gluck
Published in THE WILD IRIS (The Ecco Press, 1992)
(Text from The Poetry Center at Smith College)

comes into the world unwelcome
calling disorder, disorder—

If you hate me so much
don’t bother to give me
a name: do you need
one more slur
in your language, another
way to blame
one tribe for everything—

as we both know,
if you worship
one god, you only need
one enemy—

I’m not the enemy.
Only a ruse to ignore
what you see happening
right here in this bed,
a little paradigm
of failure.  One of your precious flowers
dies here almost every day
and you can’t rest until
you attack the cause, meaning
whatever is left, whatever
happens to be sturdier
than your personal passion—

It was not meant
to last forever in the real world.
But why admit that, when you can go on
doing what you always do,
mourning and laying blame,
always the two together.

I don’t need your praise
to survive.  I was here first,
before you were here, before
you ever planted a garden.
And I’ll be here when only the sun and moon
are left, and the sea, and the wide field.

I will constitute the field.

15. Lines written in Dejection by W.B. Yeats
(From The Wild Swans at Coole, 1919.)

WHEN have I last looked on  
The round green eyes and the long wavering bodies  
Of the dark leopards of the moon?  
All the wild witches, those most noble ladies,  
For all their broom-sticks and their tears,         
Their angry tears, are gone.  
The holy centaurs of the hills are banished;  
I have nothing but the harsh sun;  
Heroic mother moon has vanished,  
And now that I have come to fifty years  
I must endure the timid sun.

Blessings to you this Esbat, my friends.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Wandering: Waiting, Worrying on the Cusp

Heart/Yoni/Cup Fungi.
Heart/Yoni/Cup Fungi. 

I don't ever recall chomping at the bit quite so hard whilst waiting for the Hunt

It is probably because I/we know this Winter was awfully warm & dry.
And the Spring was awfully warm & dry.
And the Summer has been awfully warm & dry.

And I think we are all just a little afraid that They might not return.

And then, without Them, who would we be? 

Who would I be?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

What She Said. (About the betterment of mankind.)

What she said.
What she said.
What she said.

"...I think this age of automation, is a case of man in flight from himself and I feel that if any one art can bring him [mankind] back to himself, it is the dance... because rhythm is what creates the Universe and everything in it... 
In a world gone mad, let those who have listened to the divine, those who have ever moved in the rhythm of inward joy, must dance now.  Let us not wait for the world to be better, let us help to make it better." -- Ruth St. Denis

Her discussion, beginning at 2:15.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Idols & Animism. Wherein Lies the Power?

A portion of the large shrine at a Women's Mysteries ceremony,  a shrine populated by many, many persons.
A portion of the large shrine at a Women's Mysteries ceremony,
a shrine populated by many, many persons.

Goddess figure.
Goddess figure.
This week I was assigned the job of taking photographs at a Women's Mysteries ceremony where a large credenza was filled with images, symbolic representations & figures of goddess forms. The task gave me pause to consider a simple question with no clear answer: Wherein lies the strength of an idol, icon or other symbolic object?  

Surely some would quite automatically argue that the power lies in the deity/spirit the idol represents, in the connection or entanglement to the godform or spirit, but as a photographer & animist, I would argue differently. Or rather, I would argue that while there is indeed often an external influence present, there is also something else.

Goddess figure.  Possibly Blodeuwedd.
Goddess figure.
Possibly Blodeuwedd.
When you spend years behind a macro lens, you invariably see that something else -- something in the small worlds that tells you that these "things" or, as I prefer these persons, have their own strength that resides within, independent of external correspondences. They have an identity, speech & attitude of their own -- if you ask them, they will tell you so. 

Moving across the terrain of this latest spiritual assemblage was no exception -- even the offerings had something to say. (Note: It may seem peculiar, but the little figure dedicated to Bast had a particularly strong character & later as I sorted photos, "he" [owner's designation] seemed to dominate my photos.)

So, while I do not deny the potency & influence of the godform which inspired a specific icon, I also cannot deny the inner sprit of the "things" which represent them. It may not be obvious to the casual observer of these images, but for me, just looking at their photographs tells me so many secrets. 

And if the truth is to be told, I must confess that I am not sure which was more personally compelling that evening; the women & their stories, the ceremony & it's story, or the opportunity to be in the presence of (& the honour of photographing) some incredibly beautiful, beloved & dynamic "object persons" with so many stories of their own.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Outhouse. A Pagan one, no less.

This is pretty far outside my normal scope of posting, but the story hit my irony buttons in a variety of ways.

And for those of you who were wondering about the state of affaires out on "The Land" where the fire wiped out our Summer Solstice Festival site, this will paint a pretty clear picture:

EDIT:  I found an old photo from inside the women's outhouse which unfortunately didn't survive... also ironic. 

Room with a view:  Former Women's Outhouse door from PCC-AK.
Room with a view:
Former Women's Outhouse door from PCC-AK.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Nyx Scraps: Installment I

Scatter here, scatter there, scatter, scatter everywhere... so many pieces, all of which make a Whole, but sometimes might appear disparate to the outside observer.

I have prepared some (among many, so very many!) additions for the the Nyx Devotional Gallery page. Perhaps I do this now, at this time, in recognition of the tipping of the year back towards Her time of dominance. Perhaps it is at the prompting of the poppies which are now in full bloom...

Poppy, from our small devotional garden.
Poppy, from our modest devotional garden. 

Since I am doing this en masse & I have what I think is an interesting multi-media array, I thought it might be worthy of a quick note here. 

Nyktos Moleskin. By Edgar Invoker of DeviantArt.
By Edgar Invoker of DeviantArt.

Nyx Color Work Sketch. By Laura "Pelick" Siadak.
Color Work Sketch.
By Laura "Pelick" Siadak.

By Jeff Wack.
New Media: digital and acyrlic on Canvas.

Embellished giclee prints available at Sensuous Muse.

Bust of Nyx Henri Weigele, French sculptor, 1858 - 1927 Bronze / Onyx (If only I had the spare cash: She Would Be Mine)
Bust of Nyx
Henri Weigele, French sculptor, 1858 - 1927
Bronze / Onyx
(If only I had the spare cash: She Would Be Mine)

Night Henri Weigele, French sculptor, 1858 - 1927 White marble, marble Auction details at Invaluable.Night Henri Weigele, French sculptor, 1858 - 1927 White marble, marble Auction details at Invaluable.
Henri Weigele, French sculptor, 1858 - 1927
White marble, marble
Auction details at Invaluable.

Nyx (or Selene)
Artist unknown, Roman, 100-1 BCE.
Bronze statue.
"Cloak billowing behind and toes pointed for landing, the Goddess
 of the Night is fully dressed and carries an object in her right hand that
may be part of a torch; perhaps the moon-goddess Selene.
Currently on view at the Getty Foundation's Getty Villa, USA

Nyx Photograph. No attribution available.  (If you have one, please notify me.)
No attribution available.
(If you have one, please notify me.)
Nyx Mask
By Cyndy Salisbury
Image credit: Hermetic Library Blog Archives.

The goddess Nyx
By Cyndy Salisbury
Image credit: TheArtOfTheMask Etsy Store.

Nyx with Veil of Night By Cyndy Salisbury Image credit: Fantast in Focus: Cyndy Salisbury, at the Thinker's Garden
Nyx with Veil of Night
By Cyndy Salisbury
Image credit: Fantast in Focus: Cyndy Salisbury, at the Thinker's Garden

Lyrics to above recording:

Orphic Hymn to Nyx - Mother of the Gods
Mother of the Gods
I sing to You
Mother of humankind
who gave birth to all
and who is also known as Kypris
hail blesséd Goddess
indigo luminescence
lit by starlight
You who love silence
and deep peaceful sleep
who loves all-night rituals
Mother of Dreams
You help us forget our troubles
Holy One
You grant us rest from work
giver of sleep
You who are loved by all
shining by night
chthonian as well as celestial
Your cosmic dance shapes our fate
You shine upon the earth
and Your light reaches into Hades
for You, Ananke
are all-powerful
but now, Blesséd Goddess
I call
You of many treasures
every creature yearns for You
Gracious One
hear our words of supplication
come to us,
propitious one
and put to flight
our fear of the night
Creatrix ...
Creatrix ...
translation by Andonis Theodoros

Monday, July 6, 2015

"When I am an (not so) old woman I shall wear (a) purple (Faerie costume... in a public park)." Or, don't wait to surrender your ego.

The key to truly relishing a moment is not to concern one’s Ego with how you may appear to the casual observer…” 

Skeptical Faerie, or something.
Skeptical Faerie, or something.

Especially if you are dressed like a Sugar Plum Fairy. 

One of my cherished like-mindeds had reminded me that I said that once. Today I would like to add a clarification. 

And don't wait until a new, more comfortable or convenient moment arrives. Do it now.

Dance seems to be my Great Teacher in this.

Dance. Don't Think. Especially about other folks -- human or otherwise -- who may be watching (or not, because it IS a bit narcissistic to assume folks are watching you all the time). 
"A chaotic mind in a body that has been forced into some extreme arrangement is pointless. So though I know I'm never going to be very physically adept at shaping my body into beautiful and graceful asana, I enjoy the mind-body work and seeing its benefits manifesting elsewhere in my life." --AB
When we are preoccupied with trying to be something impressive to the external eye, we are chaotic. When we are busy berating ourselves for our imperfections, obsessing over shortcomings that others may or may not perceive or doubting our likability we are chaotic. When we are fraught with shyness & self-conscious thoughts, we are chaotic. 

There is no doorway to ecstasy, no tapping the spirit world, no Tarab to be found in this ego-driven, self-limiting chaos of the mind. This is not the road to "seeing (your practice's) benefits manifesting elsewhere in (your) life." The key to growth, to freedom lies elsewhere.

I am a chaos-rider. I admit it. But I must emphasize: choose your chaos wisely & make sure you're the rider, not the horse. 

The maenads were expert chaos riders. Do you think that in their ecstasis, even for a single moment, they considered what other folks thought about how they looked?

Dance, my teacher. A maenad as well perhaps.  A moment of Tarab courtesy Joanna Saahirah Facebook page.
Dance, my teacher. Maenad as well, perhaps.
A moment of Tarab courtesy Joana Saahirah Facebook page

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Wandering: Among the Ancients (With a lesson in one-at-a-time.)

Fiddleheads unfurling toward the Sun.
Fiddleheads unfurling toward the Sun. 

This one is for the files.

Our mycophile clan has been slowly working on establishing relationships with other members of the boreal forest -- the plant life in particular (probably in part because they don't run away when you approach them!) In mid May, we spent a day with our eyes to the Ancients. It was a relatively warm Sproing afternoon in the Alaskan boreal forest, slanted sunlight dappling trees, soil & the emerging leafy ground cover. We were in search of three plants in particular, ancient plants, food plants


Horsetail, Equisetum spp.

I once described them thusly: "...ancient, self-possessed, horsetails of the Paleozoic..." I would say that this characterization stands justified, particularly the self-possessed part. There is something imperturbable & untroubled about them. They can mingle with the roadside weeds & invasive plants of disturbed sites just as easily as they thrive among the native plants of the forest floor.

Horsetail, Equisetum, spp.
Horsetail, Equisetum, spp. 
The window for collecting horsetails as a food plant is small. Only while they are spring budding shoots with branches pointing skyward are they viable for consumption. At this time they can also be gathered for tea. But once they begin to develop oxalate crystals on their outer surfaces they are only safe for external uses such as hair tonic. I like gazing down onto their sunburst-like branch-pattern. It is a bit hypnotic & I find myself wondering what there is to discover at the end of their tiny green ladders.


Fiddleheads, nonspecific (or, more specifically [honestly], I haven't keyed them out yet)

Cretaceous, perhaps even Devonian critters. Just what have they witnessed over the millennia? 

Fiddlehead fern. Like the nautilus & Time itself, a sacred spiral.
Fiddlehead fern.
Like the nautilus & Time itself, a sacred spiral.

I have always felt that ferns are a bit like cats. The youthful fiddle heads emerge lively, cheery & sociable while the mature fern plants grow more reserved, quiet & self-contained. Always soft & magickal are the ferns, but their approachability shifts with age. 


Devil's Club, Oplopanax horridus

"Make sure you take a deep breath of its intoxicating ginseng scent. Make friends with this plant as I have and you will delight in it rather than fearing it." -- Tom Heutte, from the USDA Forest Service website

Devil's Club leaf bud,  Oplopanax horridus
Devil's Club leaf bud,
Oplopanax horridus
Like so many things, this pervasive, rugged beauty is terribly misunderstood. While the Devil's Club (aka "Alaskan Ginseng," but it is not a ginseng) plants are indeed foreboding in their maturity, in early spring when their delicate green buds & shoots appear, they exude an unexpected vulnerability. And indeed, these plants are vulnerable -- to human impact. Taking the ground shoots from Devil's Club plants can seriously compromise their slow reproduction. Instead, we choose to focus on a small number of leaf buds instead. Taking a walk in a sea of Devil's Club is like traveling through time, pure magic

"Don't bite off more than you can chew."

A recurrent lesson in foraging, as in Life. That evening we made some sublime Devil's Club sauté, lightly cooked with some sweet onions. They have a gentle, surprisingly pine-like flavour. But the fiddleheads & the horsetail remained in their refrigerator containers for a long time, strangely never spoiling, but certainly losing their vibrance. Enthusiasm must remain checked. I have always maintained a policy of deeply learning only one or two fungi species a season & never harvesting more than we can clean & prepare within adequate time time. I see how this translates to the plant kingdom as well. This is a lifetime endeavour & there is no reward at the end of the quick road or the overly abundant harvest. 

Lesson (review) noted. 

Devil's Club, Oplopanax horridus leaf shoots sautéed with sweet onion.
Devil's Club, Oplopanax horridus leaf shoots sautéed with sweet onion.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

"I Miss the Moon."

Midnight or rather, 10:00 pm Sun.
Midnight or rather, 10:00 pm Sun. 

What she said.

The local Wiccan/Witch cohort (or one of them anyway) has a monthly gathering they call a "Wine & Cheese Moot." What "moot" means to them exactly I am not sure as it seems to vary. But, as the caretaker of the community center I sometimes take advantage of the opportunity join them for wine & cheese & something.

At the most recent Wine & Cheese Moot, there were three new visitors. All of them were women (not really surprising) & all of them were incredible talkers (which is a bit surprising). Because of this, there was much talk & talk & talk. I am not sure how much of that long & vocal evening I could recall with any real accuracy, but I can remember when one of these new, unfamiliar voices lamented:

"I miss the Moon."

I couldn't even tell you which woman said it, but I'm with her.

This Sun. This SUN. I have decided that the most disruptive thing about a Sun which refuses to set is just how much it gets in the way of the Moon... 

However, I decided this week that instead of berating myself for my neglectful Lunar devotionals & general feelings of Lunar Esbat ennui during the highest Summer months (it does seem to be a pattern if I cannot be in the Desert), I need to find something better to do with that energy. 

Not sure what that will look like. But it will look like something. 

In the meantime, I can relish the brief midday peeks at the Lady as she shifts Her shrouding to & fro, & look forward to the tipping of the scales again in Her favour. 

Oh, yes & I will enjoy that Sun, because next thing you know I will be griping again about all the Darkness. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

For the Files: Oneiric Record Keeping

Dreamwork journals for Rite of Oneiric Insight participants.
Dreamwork journals for Rite of Oneiric Insight participants.

On May 23 I hosted a second Rite of Oneiric Insight. It seems to me it is important to keep record of these, or something. 

This time I kept the arrangements & ceremonial format the same, but I made the journals myself because I could not find any that suited my sense of aesthetic or purpose. Maybe this was best anyways, because I found the process of creation meditative & revealing. I am finding art & ceremony are inseparable for me.

People resemble cats when it comes to certain kinds of commitments. Inside, outside, inside, outside... ad nauseam. I prefer it when people do not make commitments until they are certain & actually committed. This may be more common with commitments that cause a feeling of ambiguity. I understand a fear of the unknown -- I have it too, plenty -- but do not engage me with it. Instead, rather, come to me when you have surrendered to your decision -- when you have decided you are in it to win it, not when you are still doing the hokey pokey. 

I always disliked that dance.

At the end of two weeks of hokey pokey, one woman (out of four) attended this particular rite. She was in it to win it & in the end of it all, she was the only one who was supposed to be there. We must trust in these things. 

I plan to repeat this rite using this format one more time (why? I don't know, I just know), then I will likely work another meditation, perhaps one more closely tied to manifesting. Perhaps there will be other changes as well. Also as time progresses, I will continue to add to the Dream Shrine which has already evolved significantly. 

Static does not seem to me to be the natural way of things, but rather subtle, sensible evolution should be allowed to occur, organically, spontaneously. There is always room for thoughtful, conscious adjustment. This, among other things is what distinguishes my work from that of a traditionalist. I cannot claim a pedigree or even a pedagogy. I can only claim what is mine.  

Dreamwork journal bindings:
"Alis volat propriis," "She flies with her own wings."

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