Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Blog Housekeeping Notes

Jow suggested I make a list of featured posts like my PEH, Gordon has on his page. So I picked the seven entries I felt described myself and my practice the best, feel free to peruse them on my blog page. Gordon has coined a title for my kind of kitchen witch magical practice: Radical Practicality. Isn't he awesome? My motto is from Rasputina's Thimble Island, I may not have had much booklearnin'/ But I've got charms to win the race. . .

I added a more visible subscribing button to my page in case you were having trouble adding this page to the feed.

If my entries are moving you and/or you feel I'm hopelessly uneducated, ignorant and disgracing the occult community at large, please donate to my Educate a Dilettante Fund. I am half way to my goal of being able to take cat yronwode's class, so the money would be staying in the community.

I will be launching a three part blog post series once I recover from bridesmaid burnout. To work you up into a complete state of excited frenzy, it will be:

Fake it Til You Make It: Recipes for Rituals On-the-Go (Part One)

Wheel of the Year Turn, Turn, Turn: Seasonally Appropriate Recipes for Those
Practicing Indo-European Paganism (And Still Yummy for Those Who Don't) (Part Two)

Ritual Kitchen Witching and You! (Part Three)

Monday, July 19, 2010

In Your Hands, Ophelia.

When learning basics, most of us want to rush through and get to the good stuff. When can I start summoning things! When do I get enlightened! When do I light candles with the poooooooooooooowers of my miiiiiiiiiiiiiind!

Let's say you've been a good little hearth witch worker bee. You've learned to iron crisp pleats in your apron, you cook so good your kids don't bitch about it, you can pull a Flylady drive by cleaning no problem-o, you can sew a button and a button hole.

Where's your prize? What's the carrot? How do you power up?

Here's the secret to 300 Level Hearth Witchery: Your hands.

Let that really sink in for a minute so you can understand how shit scary this system of kitchen witchery is. You don't have thousands of years of recorded historical tradition and practice to rely on. You know why? While holy men (and an occasional woman) were busy in their ivory towers, you were busy being pregnant, sowing the fields, burying your children, churning butter, burying your spouse, jarring, canning, sewing, creating fabric, laughing, crying, fucking, and dying. Because you were never given the luxury to do anything more than that.

Do you think that these midwives, these hedgewitches, these stregas were any less holy because they were not given the luxury of a life of contemplation, my hedge sisters, my blood? FUCK. NO.

You are not any less holy or profound than your brethren who now spend their lives in contemplation, meditation, and book discussion.

You are too enmeshed in the business of living to have the luxury of devoting your life to a system, even a modern one. Even if we had one we'd be too busy to follow it. You have children to feed, clothe, and entertain. You have a hearth to manage. You have food to put on the table. You have a day job that you bust your ass at. Your sister is short on rent. Your brother is crying. Your kid needs a new pair of shoes and your spouse needs new buttons on her shirt (again).

You need to be like Ophelia. You are more than a drowned sidenote to some emo prince's trip. Natalie Merchant's Ophelia. You need to be a novice rebel girl sweetheart demigoddess mistress circus queen. A tempest cyclone, a goddamn hurricane.

And there is no manual, my darlings. No manual at all. We have no proven structure giving us a safety net, no meditational structure to hold us up, no spirits to compel. All we have is our hands. Your hands to grind herbs from the kitchen from the grocery store with a mortar and pestle you got on sale at Target. Your hands to light candles and say prayers to your gods. Your hands to call whatever phone tree you're in charge of. Your hands to scribble down a recipe, a receipt for whatever spell you came up with on the fly to use with your iron will. Your hands to bake bread. Your hands to sew. Your hands to write. Your hands to put in soil. Your hands for your children to hold. Your hands covered in blood, sweat, tears, and vomit.

It's all you're given in this path. It's not glamorous, you'll not win in an occult power dick waving contest. But you'll get shit done. You'll work hard. You'll be able to charm or hex, you'll see results. You'll have the grace that is found in simplicity, even in magic.

Your hands. That's it. End of lesson.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Almost Famous

So, that article at the top of Witchvox, that would be me.

I'm sort of surprised, it was supposed to take months and it only took like two weeks. I didn't even know it was up to be honest until I got some fan mail.

I'm v. unglamorous at the moment. My hair is messily back in a ponytail and I don't even have a bra on, in my pjs at nearly 5p, busily freelance writing to pay for a wedding (not mine) I'm going to this week that I have by now lost all interest in. My cat is omg smelly next to me and I just scarfed down a piece of tilapia that I made using the microwave. My living room is only clean because Jow cleaned it last night. My sink overflows with dishes, my dining room is overflowing with mail and I think I've failed yet again at my latest attempt to make incense. I am in no way shape or form packed or ready for next week's wedding trip.

So, hi new people! Glad you're here. Here I am in all my glory!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Maybe *I* Want to Get Stabbity!

Jow (who managed to snake an extra reader some time this week like a sneaky monkey and is now ahead of me again in readership after *I* was ahead for a glamorous two weeks! We have a friendly competition about getting readers, it keeps us blogging) blogged about daily practice, keeping one's weapons sharp . . .all that stuff.

Daily practice, now there's a sticky wicket for a dilettante kitchen witch like myself. At best, I can claim japa now as a regular daily practice but . . .that's a far cry from things involving pillars and . . . other stuff I'm not terribly motivated about.

So what can I claim on my chop wood, carry water occult income tax return without getting into, uh, I cook dinner and other hearth witch slippery slopes?

I think upon reflection, for me, it has way more to do with service. Service generally = sacrifice and in shamanic math, sacrifice = power. But what does service mean? I consider myself a service oriented person. It bleeds over into my sexual being, my spiritual being, my professional being, my social being, etc. I realized somewhat early on among my god junkie peers who liked to get a contact buzz from drawing down, directly speaking with gods, doing magic for everythang, I was not like them. I got that buzzy feeling for being able to pull rabbits out of my hat providing feasts for my magical group. This one time, in druid camp, I managed to get everything on the table before the ritual ended for fifty people in the dark! That was a feeling.

When I'm blowing someone's nose into my apron and patting their shoulder, I'm happy. When I'm at work as an executive assistant and I get to tell everyone what to do under the guise of service, I'm happy. When there's social protocol as to what to do in a situation, I'm happy. When I'm making Thanksgiving dinner, I'm happy.

But, just like in every practice, not every day is a high woo day. It can't be Thanksgiving every day, gentle readers. There's not always a kitchen to hide in. My control issues/shyness manifest, incidentally, by liking to be the one to throw the event, the party, what have you so whenever I start to get socially anxious I can hit the kitchen and hide there and smoke and drink in peace.

So that leaves me with a daily practice of sacrifice. You want to hear sacrifice? My sister is getting married in two months and is also preggo and just bought a house, a triple word score of all of one's major adult achievements in less than six months. That is quite the dog and pony show, my friend. I swear to gods I have dreams of shaking her pregnant ass and making her do things in a timely fashion. But she's preggo and crazy with hormones and scared and nervous so I try to be nice and not a rabid animal. My oldest friend B. is attempting an amazing coupe of being both incredibly hands off (traveling all the damn time, messing around with moving/not moving, etc) while still being a controlling bridezilla with only having asked for us to be bridesmaids in the last six months. But I love her and she did it for me. Jow's car decided it would be super awesome to try to kill him and then promptly roll over and die, leading me to research everything on the new car and everything that goes with it in a 48 hour period. The list goes on and it sure is endless.

I've got this weird personality where I am both social but at the same time (somewhat secretly) cranky and misanthropic and would generally rather be left alone on my couch to watch my shows and spin. Trying to put on my empathetic, sympathetic human being face sometimes is difficult, it's a sacrifice, it's a labor of love. I do it because I love and because they love back.

When I go to work when I don't feel well, it's a sacrifice for my household or boss depending on the situation. When I clean and don't want to, when I write and don't want to, when I cook when I don't want to, these are the best sacrifices and austerities I have to offer. And it is the sacrifice from my hands and heart that is my daily practice.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

On Blood and Sacrifice

As we know, I can't be bothered to read a lot of heavily theory based books because I get bored and tap out. So don't expect a well referenced article here, just my personal experience.

Starting out as a Dianic Wiccan, the blood of choice to focus on was of course menstrual. While myself and the younger prissier witches among us turned our noses up at the idea of doing rituals involving menstrual blood, we were regaled nonetheless about the ye olde 70's by the older witches and their menstrual blood rituals.

As I aged some, I was less prissy about it and invested in a diva cup which I use on the regular, to the dismay of the triumverte. The cup was handy in also being able to neatly pour menstrual blood into my watering can into my garden. When I had my little container garden (I do have plans to resume that next year), I did feel a closer connection to the land. It made me feel like I was doing something sacred, something important by tending to my tiny pots (complete with tiny garden gnome) in my bare feet on my balcony. Watering them with my blood strengthened that bond too I suppose. It didn't feel all rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh POWERFUL!!!!!!!1111!!! It felt nice. I don't know how else to describe it. Nice. Peaceful. I suppose theoretically, I could have used my garden to bind everyone who stepped foot in my house to me in some kind of crazy Sicilian Marinara Vaulderie Ritae, but that wasn't really my intent. I liked feeling like something that came from me could grow something else, it made me feel linked to the land strongly and it felt, I dunno, v. circle of life somehow.

Of course, let's be real here. We all went through a phase where we wanted to be taken supersrsly in the magical community and to prove how badass we were. What's more bad ass to someone likely under the age of 25? Blood magic. Menstrual blood is a good starting place if you're a lady-type, but really it's not like you have to work for it, it just happens. No, there needs to be stabbity and teeth gnashing, and I don't know, whatever other tough poses you undergo when you get your finger pricked at the doctor's office. Because! It's not like it's all that easy for many of us to get serious needles. Lancets, sure. Needles, not so much. And if you're cutting yourself with a knife, well, that's a problem in most cases that many people seek help for. So, you know, once you realize that finger pricking is likely to be the extent of your practice and that your super manly six year old cousin Andy can handle it with a Hello Kitty bandaid and a lollipop, you need to stop and ask yourself what you're hoping to get out of it.

At the time when I first started investigating, the general view of the more . . .god, is White Lighter a nice term? I mean it nicely, I don't know why people get all bitchy to them, they make all of us in the occult community look at least relatable to non-Pagan/Occultist/Whatever kind of special snowflake you are, most of us at least started there. When Mothra is feeling benevolent, she calls me a Wiccan instead of a godless atheist so I pretty much take it and like it. Anyway! WL'ers tended to see using blood magic as an atom bomb. Which. . . .I suppose if you're sacrificing maidens in your backyard, it would be.

If animals are killed in ritual, it's kinder and more gentle than the American meat industry and the animal is eaten and its parts are used, so I have no qualm there. I have not as yet participated in any kind of animal sacrifice rite, but I would like to fish and hunt my way up the food chain. I figure it's the least I can do with a quasi-Shamanic background. It's all well and good to eat meat that comes wrapped all nice and neat, it's another to do the work. I want to make sure I can handle the process, if I can't I should be a vegetarian in my opinion. Luckily, my gf grew up on a farm so we have plans eventually in that general direction.

But what about the finger prick of blood? Well, ADF at one point STRONGLY discouraged it. My grove being the backwater snake handlers of the tradition of course rushed to make pamphlets discussing how we are strongly discouraged (but not forbidden) to do blood sacrifice or juggle porcupines (the genesis there is a little fuzzy). Now it seems we're forbidden to do it in ritual setting at least.

So when to use it? Okay, so it's not the toughest expression of sacrifice, and there are other expressions of sacrifice (hard work, things made from your hands, wine, etc.) but it is still an expression of sacrifice. You still have to take that little tack like needle and jam it into your finger. It still hurts. It's still a tiny piece of your life force, something that is uniquely you. It's still one of the preferred personal concerns in hoodoo. If you can manage to contain yourself from using it for everythang and keep it as a sometimes food (like cursing), that keeps it as a special kind of sacrifice. For me, I only use it when I really, really want something. I got my wasband housing many many many moons ago, and I got myself the perfect rabbit burrow condo using it. I can count on one handish the amount of times I've used it, I only use it when I am v. serious about something or making a v. serious offering to the land or a deity.

Some deities do like it, but if you make that an every day food for them, be prepared to go through a lot of needles and be prepared for them to not like the idea of you breaking up with them and taking away your delicious delicious life essence. Some deities really don't like it at all, so do your homework before starting a teeny dollhouse sized CSI blood spatter for your gods.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Tired. Cranky. Working in a Coal Mine.

For now, my dream job:

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sigils and the Dilettante

Jow knows stuff. He knows all sorts of scholarly occult things and higher magic that I am generally indifferent to bother stuffing into my brain. Give up precious brain real estate occupied by GossipGirl, Toddlers & Tiaras, and gossip keeping up with my loved ones? I think not. But occasionally, I do need information that I generally can't be bothered with. Jow is a Serious Scholar, so he only has so much space for Blair and Serena. Jow reads so many books he has to get a Nook, court ordered by me and the cats so we don't die in bookalanche. Jow likes to make notes and use little post it flag thingies to annotate the books he reads . . .for fun.

So yes, I suppose I could slog through all these tomes myself when I need info I cannot readily find in my teeny tiny resource library I keep for myself in the house. Oooooooooooooor I could cross examine Jow who's already done the work.

Picking the right moment is critical. Preferably when he's not expecting it. I recommend teeth brushing time before bed.

Me: How do sigils work?

Jow (looks startled and suspicious as he always does when I express interest in a magical area as he knows this will lead to me questioning him like a bad neighbor on Judge Judy and then to use the information in ways that are not specifically approved by his authors. He tries to stall and buy time by having a mouthful of toothpaste. I am undeterred.): Well . . .there's a chaos method that uses [something about how to make words into sigils].

Me: I knew that. Weird! How did I know that!

Jow: I. . .don't know?

Me: Did we go to a lecture about it?

Jow: I don't think so?

Me: Weird! It's not like I read a whole lot on magical theory. Huh. Where did I pick that up because I knew that word for word? Did we read a book together?

Jow: Maybe?

Me: So, okay you can like use planetary sigils or geomatic sigils--

Jow: Yes.

Me: And other stuff, like angelic things or whatever --

Jow: Yes.

Me: But is this a formal thing? Or can you make up your own symbology?

Jow (looks suspious as to what I need this information for): Yes. There's a long history of people making up their own sigils--

Me: Awesome. Thanks.

Jow: Why?

Me: No reason.

I had previously more or less ignored sigil work because it wasn't fitting anywhere into my practice really until I went to Arisia with Miss Spice who taught me a really need trick!

Super Easy Secret Sigil Work for Anything

Items needed:
1 eyeshadow brush
1 bottle hand sanitizer (they even make them super teeny)
Knowledge of some kind of sigil system or your imagination

Contemplate what you are trying to accomplish. For me, I generally want people to like me and thinking I'm charming (Venus) but um not like me too much (protection sigil). If you are feeling especially creative, thinking about where would be good places to place these sigils. I keep it simple by putting them on the inside of my wrists, but you may be the creative type. In which case, maybe over the root chakra to get laid and protective sigils on your back so your back is being watched.

Squirt a teeny tiny amount of hand sanitizer onto your eyeshadow brush. If you don't like the idea of using an eyeshadow brush, get a tiny paint brush. I just happen to reliably have an eyeshadow brush on me at any given time typically, as does Miss Spice so it's functional for us.

Concentrate on what you're trying to accomplish, feel free to say some kind of chant or spell or psalm or whatever gets you off. I personally just focus and concentrate and then I draw the sigils on the inside of my wrists. Hand sanitizer feels cold and shows in a clear gel on your skin for a few moments so it's a good way to actualize whatever you're trying to do. I couldn't remember what planet to use for protection and had no idea what book to find it in (Jow made me a cheat sheet today because he's cool like that) so I decided to draw a set of brass knuckles on one of my wrists which worked perfectly. Because it's hand santizer and clear, it dries and no one can see it after a minute or two but you know it's there. Bonus! Clean eyeshadow brush.