Why? Why must it be? Why must it always be that the first name, the first face we see, is the one who has committed the atrocity? Just once can we mourn the dead, pray for the injured, praise the heroes and give succor to the survivors before we turn our attention to their murderer, their foe, their victimizer?
Hail to the fallen and hail and healing to those left behind.
“Why: (c) Geoffrey Stewart 2022
By now you have heard, we have all heard of the events at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado just before Midnight November 19th. 5 people dead as of this writing, 25 injured. The ‘suspect’ was subdued within minutes by heroic club patrons and beaten with his own gun, apprehended by police a few minutes after midnight in the first hour of November 20th 2022 the Trans Day of Remembrance. This is not the first time in my 50 years that I have woken up to learn of some atrocity committed against LGBTQ people, my people; sadly, it is not likely to be the last.
As much as I might wish it otherwise. Holy Dead, Holy Spirits, Holy Gods do I wish it were the last.
I have spent most of the last 36 hours, compressed in between intermittent sleep and a work shift where I was at least physically present, scrolling social media & sharing links to news articles and sharing other folks posts and takes. Unable to find my own words, not really entirely ready process things. Fear, anger, outrage, grief, rage at the insincerity and hypocrisy of those who have stoked the fires of Homophobia and Transphobia and Conspiracy Theories and Hot Takes; those same people who have fanned the flames of the Culture War for their own financial and political benefit suddenly offering up their “shock” and of course their “thoughts and prayers.”
You would think after 4 of my 5 decades of waking up to similar stories and similar atrocities, and similarly insincere “thoughts and prayers” from the same basic cast of characters; you’d think I would be better prepared to deal with the horror of it all. I mean hell, I grew up as a Queer kid in 1980’s Reagan America in the shadow of the specters of nuclear war and the HIV/AIDS crisis in a world where Rightwing politicians and thought leaders and Religious Fundamentalists were very clear (without, of course actually coming out and saying so) that it was perfectly fine if people like me died of a horrific wasting disease or were murdered in the streets, as long as the right kind of people were dying, people like me. You would think after years of such things one would get a thick emotional skin or be inoculated against the horror of it all.
Honestly, sometimes… kind of? Sometimes it just hits like a numbness and a muted sense of grief or something. Sometimes you are able to move on, muted, but reasonably functional.
Sometimes though, it hits you full force; bringing not only its own horrors but dragging horror and grief and insecurities hidden away in the corners of your mind and soul, all of them dancing within you and around you. Sometimes you just have to process the horror of it all in whatever way you can for a time before something kicks in and you start pulling yourself back together.
36 hours is NOT that bad a turnaround time, I guess, all things considered.
So roughly a week ago I was relaxing before work I was checking out my podcasts and decided to check out something from Down at The Crossroads. My app, or my phone, in their finite wisdom decided that their interview with Mat Auryn was just the thing and it started to play. My phone or app do that occasionally, opening up a song or episode at random, and I decided to roll with it. That night, when I returned home, I found some sort of cardstock business card / flyer thing tucked in between the door and the doorjamb. It’s in Spanish but appears to be an advertisement for a spiritual counselor or psychic reader of some sort and if my imperfect command of Spanish is serving me well, she has a 100% guarantee of some sort and the first consultation is free!
Never one to waste a good synchronicity, I pulled out my Tarot cards and started reading. Now it has been a while since I had worked with my cards as a LOT has been going on in other parts of my life, this may be important to our story in a few moments. Anyway, I was feeling psychically frisky so I decided to do a Celtic Cross layout. I tend to not do self-readings with a specific question in mind, other perhaps than, “What do I need to know?”. I will also usually pull out my ID/Driver’s License, or if reading for another ask them to, to use as the significator; an idea I came up with in the early days of my work with Tarot cards because I felt it was important to have every card of the deck available for readings, and there is a certain argument that we have a much more intense personal and energetic relationship with our ID/Driver’s License than a particular Court card.
Some of your may be wondering how I think Tarot cards work? Do they have some sort of spirits to them that are your allies and give you information you couldn’t normally have access to? Do they somehow trigger or activate your own psychic abilities or intuition? Is it all psychological? My answer to all those questions is some variation of Yes and it depends on what day you ask me.
So I shuffled the cards several times. I remember thinking that I wanted to make sure to mix upright and reversed cards for some reason, maybe my intuition was already kicking into gear at that point? Or perhaps the Universe and my deck have warped senses of humor to rival my own…
Here is what I pulled…
No, that picture is not upside down. I managed to get a layout of 9 out of the 10 cards reversed, and the only reason I didn’t get all 10 reversed is because the 2nd card in the pull is always read upright! Now I know, I know, I KNOW that a reversed meaning is not necessarily a negative message, or an omen of doom and a lot depends on the question and the placement of the card and the relationship between their meanings and positional interpretations. I will however admit to having had a minor melt-down at this point.
I tried to remind myself that the Tarot has many uses and like many divinatory systems it is not necessarily about predicting The Future™ so much as about getting a bigger picture on current events and trends; that’s part of why you consult an oracular system, to get a better understanding of what is going on and what you might need to do about it. I also tried to remind myself that of the many forms of divination used out there, Tarot cards have a reputation for this sort of behavior. They are like that friend who will hold your earrings for you if you’re in a fight but will not hesitate to turn around and read you to FILTH for getting yourself into such a situation.
In the days since, I have been reshuffling and sorting through my cards, rebuilding my relationship with them and with my own intuitive abilities. I have done a few 1 card pulls for contemplation, all reversed cards so far, from 2 different decks. I have been rereading on the meanings of the above reading and my 1 card pulls with a variety of resources. I have also been dealing with some difficult truths about my life and situation right now. Money is tight, bills need paying, everybody’s hours at work were cut, and I have a lot of worry and stress right now and a LOT of things that need to be done to get my life and home back in order.
A whole lot of introspection, contemplation, and some journaling has come out of this. Which is certainly a good thing and something I needed to get back to doing as a part of my journey. This is one of the more important ways we can use divinatory systems, not to predict a future-set-in-stone, but to get a snapshot view of current events and trends; and then we have to do the work of seeking to understand our situation and what we can do about it.
I have been able to set aside feelings of being overwhelmed and helpless with some sound strategies and ideas of how and where to make progress on all these things. Now comes the effort and the waiting, because I didn’t get into this situation in a day and getting out of it will also take some time.
Let me know about any of your misadventures with Tarot cards, or other divination systems, or any questions or thoughts, in the comments below?
Bliss and Blessed Be,
PS- here is a list of the Tarot resources I am working with…
1. Complete Guide To The Tarot by Eden Gray 2. Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack 3. Labyrinthos App 4. Galaxy Tarot App (from Google Play) 5. Numerous internet searches…
11/12/2022 Saturday the day of Venus cusping towards The Day of Saturn 4:36am The Hour of Mercury cusping towards The Hour of The Moon Waning Gibbous Moon
Over the last couple of days as Tropical Storm Nicole has left Orlando and headed elsewhere, I have found myself inspired by my last post into paying more attention to the signs in the weather around me and what it can tell me. Framing it not merely as the observation and interpretation of natural phenomena, but as an act of listening to what I am thinking of as The Hidden Language. I am, at best, an imperfect animist yet at the same time something about this process of metaphorical active listening has been a blessing and a bit of a revelation.
The first night after the storm for example the clouds were swiftly sailing across the sky, the breezes playing amongst the branches were gentle, rustling, murmuring to themselves as they sought to catch up with Nicole. The Waning Gibbous moon was at times obscured by a veil of clouds. A few stars and planets could be seen in the sky through the lights of The City Beautiful. The temperature felt cooler, properly autumnal.
The second night has seen clearer skies with wisps of clouds now sailing more leisurely Northwards. Cooler temperatures and the merest hints of breezes.
On the physical level the Storms passing was pulling humidity and air pressure in it’s wake as it dropped its rain and blew its winds elsewhere, traveling North and then Northeast. The air cooled down as the humidity flowed Northward. On the spiritual level, a sense of calm as if taking a deep relaxing breath after a time of stress. A sense of changes and processes in motion. Tough times will pass, new blessings and challenges upon the horizon.
I find myself contemplating past times where this practice of actively listening to the world was either second nature, or was much needed.
I find myself thinking about how in my late teens and twenties this sort of active engagement and active listening to the world around me, to the worlds hidden language, was much more a matter of course for me. Growing up in a less developed urban environment so much closer to the wilderness in what was at the time an eminently walkable city… I was in a much more active relationship with nature and the worlds around me than I have been in, on a regular basis at least, for too many years.
Some of this comes from having moved from a largish town into a big city. From a very walkable and easy to get around, and out into nature, environment; into a huge metro area where one has to have a car to get by and walking/biking places is either not an option or profoundly convoluted and time consuming. Some of this also comes from a period of years where I struggled when I first moved here to find my place, to find friends, to find a stable job. Then too there was a period of years where the majority of my time and energy went into a job that I had mistaken for a career or calling. As I have written before, I told myself that I could jump back into my Craft and my writing in that ever elusive ‘later’.
I am picking up so many pieces of my Self, and my Craft, and my creativity and inspiration that I had set by the side of the road to come back and pick up later like in a fairy tale where someone lost in the woods leaves behind breadcrumbs or ribbons only to find they have disappeared when they try to backtrack. At the same time, I feel as if I can see light through the trees, signs of either the old path I was on or perhaps some new path to safety and selfhood.
What obstacles or detours or side quests have you run into in your own journeys? Let me know in the comments, and as always…
The recent upheavals in the Twitterverse, and my own recent explorations on Mastodon, have me thinking once again about the importance of language…
In Magick we weave together our own Will and actions and symbols together in specific ways to affect change within ourselves and the world around us. Sometimes in our Work we are calling upon the assistance or participation of various Ancestors, Spirits, or Gods; sometimes Magick and ritual are framed as ways of being in a direct communication with the universe itself. How are we communicating with Them? How are we communicating with one another or the universe around us to work our Wills and desires into reality?
As children, one of the first tools, the first symbols we learn to wield to affect change in our condition and to affect changes upon the world around us in seemingly mundane and practical ways, are our words. The language that others use around us and towards us, the words, and thoughts we use to describe ourselves and our condition, all of these can have powerful and lasting and life changing consequences. Entire branches of psychology and so many battles in the public spheres of politics and society revolve around language, around words, the words we say or are forbidden from saying.
Isn’t it surprising then that we do not see more discussions about the use and power of language and words in our magickal work and lives? One will often see suggestions of books for beginners, but you never see a dictionary, or a particular style manual listed. Where are the recommendations of poetry and prose?
I believe it is important to ask ourselves as practitioners what poetry and prose, as the saying goes, speaks to us? What moves us? What wording or style of language stirs our heart and mind and touches our soul? Are we moved by a particular writers work because their ideas or baseline assumptions of how the world works or should work agree with our own, or is there something about the way they are stringing words and phrases and ideas together that touches the deepest part of our minds and souls where Magick stirs?
We should also explore the idea of language in the more metaphorical sense of visual language. People will dismiss other practitioners as being ‘only in it for the aesthetic’, without sparing a moment of thought for the intense power and subtle influences that the visual language we use can have. In contemplating the question of language as a tool of ones Will and magick, being willing to expand ones understanding of language beyond spoken or written words can become especially crucial in many ways.
For one, given the nature of the social media sphere in our digital age with the ways machine learning and algorithms influence our daily lives. Algorithms take what we post, what we like and share and then can determine what we see, determine the sources and ideas and images and philosophies we are exposed or even have access to all based on what we have communicated to them what (they sometimes imperfectly ‘think’) we want to see. What are the offerings are you making to your local digital egregores and internet genius loci telling them about what you want in your life or for the world? What is what you share or post or the signals you boost communicating to other people in your life? Are you sure about that?
Another good example is in our own awareness and interaction or engagement with the world around us. As I write this, I am waiting on the landfall of a Category 1 hurricane on the Florida coast. By the time Nicole reaches The City Beautiful, she will be passing through as a Tropical Storm. Earlier today I was amused to think about how before moving to Florida I thought of the saying “the calm before the storm” as purely metaphor. But, if you’ve been here long enough and you pay attention, you can feel it. The dry coolness in the air, the movement of the clouds, the slight but unrelenting breezes playing with the tree branches; there’s a storm a commin’!
It’s reminiscent of how on a hot humid day you’ll feel the air turn suddenly colder and you’ll know that the humidity has moved quickly elsewhere and you’re about to get caught in an afternoon thunderstorm?
Our words and the languages we use and how we use them are all worth some contemplation and care in our journeys as practitioners!
11/1/2022 Tuesday the Day of Mars 9:20pm The Hour of Mars Waxing Crescent Moon
*Insert record scratch sound here*
11/1/2022 Tuesday the Day of Mars 11:30pm The Hour of Venus Waxing Crescent Moon
Money is tight. Prices are rising. Hours are being cut at my job. Times are tough.
Yes, I am doing all the necessary mundane things one does in these situations, but as I started writing this update I realized I was in the Hour and Day of Mars, associated among other things with Jobs requiring energy and with overcoming obstacles, and being an Aries whose sign is ruled over by Mars; it felt like a good time to sit down and do a little rough draft work on a sigil and come back to this update later? I found a few good resources, here and here and some ideas on prosperity work here and here. I also checked a few of the books in my library, and did a rough draft of a sigil, and identified elements and styles for the crafting of it that called to me in my moment of fear and need. I also wrote out a few rough notes that I will return to tomorrow.
I am wrestling with a lot of fear and worry over finances.
I feel like I am stumbling somewhere through the Two’s of the Tarot deck, getting smacked around by the Two of Swords and difficult choices while I struggle to get myself more towards the easy and balanced juggling of the Two of Pentacles. I’d love to write in more detail about the personal background of my current state of financial worry and woe, but for the moment I am not able to. So, I thank you for putting up with my vague posting!
(Has anyone done a filk of Madonna’s song Vogue about vague-posting yet, cause that should really be a thing?)
What I can comment on is that it occurs to me how one of the juggling acts I am dealing with is the same one a lot of spiritual and religious folks go through, which is juggling the mystical and spiritual with the practical and mundane. It is all too easy to look to one thing to solve all our problems or to want this-one-thing to be the answer. To look for easy answers and simple solutions when the Truth is so often found in wrestling with the complexities of life.
“Bit by bit, wrung by wrung, until the work is done…”
I will find myself muttering as I complete one piece of the seemingly ten-thousand things that need doing around the house, and in different parts of my life, to get myself to where I want to be for myself and my family. Both a note-to-self, that sometimes change happens in small but important increments. Also, a sort of charm to seal my intent to keep whatever I am working on in mind and seal the results as either a step towards the new normal, or simply the way things need to be or be kept going forward.
I had the day off from work today and spent most of it asleep as I had worked a couple of overnight shifts on the 30th and 31st, I will be going to bed soon as I need to get several things accomplished tomorrow and have a 7am shift the day after. Although even as I write this the day has passed into the next, but it never seems like it’s actually tomorrow until I have had some sleep!
So for now, I will wish you all a good night and, as always,
If I were being traditional in writing a blog post involving food and a recipe, I would start 80 something years ago with my father’s childhood on the Oregon coast and work my way forwards through time and primary characters and points of view and then only after roughly 180 pages of text and ads THEN finish with the recipe and a couple of lines of instructions. I hope you will not be offended if I get the food & recipe out of the way early and then get into the body, or perhaps I should say meat, of our brief discussion?
My bear and I are in the habit lately of starting our days with a few strong cups of coffee and perhaps some snack. Then later in the day, we have the sudden shocking realization that man does not live by snack and dehydration juice alone!
(Many thanks to Mr Devin Hunter for that delightful term for ones caffeinated morning beverage of choice…)
Last week there was exactly such a day and late in the afternoon I realized I was hangry. I checked in with the fabulous Jonathan, and he was much the same. I poked around the fridge, freezer, and pantry and came up with the following…
Sausage & Onions #1 Ingredients: 2 fresh Onions, slivered. 1pkg frozen Three Peppers blend, thawed. 4 generous pats of Irish Butter. A dash of Adobo Seasoning. 2 Turkey Kielbasas, sliced.
Take the Onions, peel them, cut them in half, then cut each of the halves into thin crescent shaped slivers. Add to a pan over medium to high heat with some butter.
Quick thaw the frozen 3 peppers blend, in the package, under some hot water. Then drain excess liquid and add to the pan.
Stir this mixture occasionally as it simmers, add a few dashes of Adobo seasoning. PRO-TIP: oftentimes in listings of ingredients the first ingredient listed is the one that forms the majority of the product in question… Adobo brand seasoning lists Salt as it’s first and likely primary ingredient, so given we both have High Blood Pressure and are on meds for such, I tried for a light hand with the seasoning. Especially as the meat for the kielbasa, like many sausages, has a good amount of salt and other seasonings in it already.
While the mixture simmers, slice the kielbasa.
Once the onions are softened but not yet translucent and the liquid has simmered down a little, add the kielbasa.
Simmer a few more minutes until the kielbasa slices plump a little bit and the onions are fully translucent, then serve and enjoy!
If I had it to do over again, I might start by frying up the heat and serve kielbasa to brown the slices a bit and bring some of the meat juices into the mix from the start. But it was delicious regardless of aesthetics. As the mixture was simmering, I started thinking about the similarities between cooking and Witchcraft and how one’s journey within each of these arts is quite similar.
In both cases your learning starts with recipes and (hopefully) detailed instructions. As you practice you start learning more in depth about the different techniques and ingredients that contribute to a successful outcome. Each of these arts takes time to learn, and practice, and perseverance, and a willingness to mess up spectacularly at some point in your journey from newbie to proficiency or even expertise. Witchcraft is more like regular cooking you can pull together a good meal, like the one I mention above, with a few simple techniques and whatever ingredients you have on hand. Ceremonial Magick on the other hand, is a bit more like baking. In baking you need very specific measurements and need to be very careful with the balance of your ingredients and process or you may craft a total mess rather than a delightful treat.
Another similarity I have noticed is that folks are often in a rush when they are starting to learn either Witchcraft or Cooking. Everyone wants to start by making an amazing soup or stew, or some big Holiday meal worthy dish when the most they have done before is maybe making Ramen. Which is where recipes and recipe books come in. You start with some recipes and detailed notes or examples of various techniques and what herbs or seasonings add to a dish and even what flavors go well with one another.
Now in our extended, but hopefully not tortured, metaphor you may think that spells are a one for one substitution for recipes in our narrative. They are not. The thing is part of the ingredients that go into successful magick include things like particular ideas or cosmological concepts or symbols or references or specific phrases or words with purpose or meaning, most especially magick involves using one’s mind and emotions and the imagery and imagination. This is part of why Witches and Pagans are often referred to as People of the Library.
Now don’t let the word Library fool you!
In our time, ones Library can include Books, TV shows and Movies, Music, Youtube playlists, saved images on Instagram, bookmarked Tweets, favorited Tiktoks, Podcasts, and online links and resources of all sorts. Also do not think that all these need to relate specifically to Occultism or Paganism or Witchcraft. We end up in our Craft journeys researching poetry and history and science and so many topics that interweave with our Craft and our relationships with the Holy Dead, the Holy Spirits, and the Holy Gods.
I am not sure what else to say except dinner that night was quite delicious. I hope you’ve enjoyed this exercise in metaphor and rambling and let me know your thoughts in the comments?
My own practice has been moving in the direction of lots of little bits of ritual and magick and connection all through out the day for a while now. (as mentioned previously here and here….)
In a delightful moment of synchronicity or perhaps a cledon, this was highlighted for me by Storm Faerywolf‘s recent column over at The Wild Hunt Blog. His column, Bite Sized Witchcraft, details ways of deepening ones practice by engaging in ones magickal and spiritual/religious practices on the daily, interspersing these throughout other activities and by interweaving magick and practice with ones daily routines and chores and such.
Now in his article Storm mentions the idea of scheduling specific times or moments for ones Witchcraft. While this is a good idea, as one blessed with the challenge of ADHD, this can sometimes end up derailing me… If I don’t have time one morning to do my grounding and centering or devotional work for example, I can spiral into shame and doubt quickly. For me at least
So lately I have been getting back into working on the latest edition of my grimoire, a slow process interrupted by demands from work and my ADHD, but a process I am finally engaging with in what I hope is a sustainable manner. I am working on a section about Grounding, fine-tuning the wording before moving to sections on Centering and then a section on work with my Chakra’s (1) before moving into lore and notes and spells. As part of working on this section on grounding, I have been trying to do it more often and both partake in and observe the process. Trying to find the right balance between the two and also the right balance in the wording and writing between enough for me to me moved and inspired by this section of my grimoire relating to things I do regularly (when I am on my path and not distracted from it) while also detailing the practice enough to be a signpost for others should I be called to teach another in the future.
One of the things that has been highlighted for me has been the way in which grounding and bite-sized bits of magick and practice help to keep one grounded and centered in ones Craft practices.
Last night, for example, I was having trouble getting to sleep and my brain was turning many worries over and over into woes. Finally I quietly got out of bed and slipped into my pajamas and went to the kitchen. I made a cup of hot chocolate, turned on New World Witchery podcast. I set my phone down, lit a stick of Dragon’s Blood incense as an offering/opening and then did some dishes as a devotional act and to work out some of my nervous energy. This devotional chores approach has lately been one of the ways I incorporate time with The Holy Powers into my regular routine; while also doing a sort of body doubling technique that helps manage my ADHD to let me get things done that I need to do.
Another example is from earlier this morning. I was waiting in line at the bank to deposit a check. I was also feeling unsettled and a bit out of sorts. I took a breath, and quietly Grounded, and Centered, and breathed energy up through my Chakras, ending with a few silent repetitions of the phrase/charm that I use in my Calling the Crossroads rite.
What about your path? Are you a daily, regular, scheduled practices kind of Witch or Pagan? Or do you dance with the inspiration and needs of the moment? Or is it a mix?
As I start to write this, the scent of an offering of Dragons Blood incense wafts through the house. My family is safe and well, or at least as well as we were before the storm, and our home is mostly intact. My larger family of choice are also safe and at least as sound as they were before the storm for this and for many other things, I am grateful.
Living in Florida means that one of the necessary observances on my own personal Wheel of The Year is Hurricane Season. Traditionally observed from June 1st through November 30th, although climate change may end up playing with these boundaries, Hurricane Season is the period when weather conditions are most favorable to the development of Tornadoes, Tropical Storms, and Hurricanes. I remember years ago before moving to Florida when I would mention my impending move many people responded with some variation of “But they have Hurricanes and alligators?!” I would have to chuckle as I, until the move a life-long Alaskan, responded with a cheerful “Yes, but we have earthquakes and grizzly bears?!”
On one level to live in Florida is to try always being low-key prepared. We are lucky to live near the center of the peninsula, 50 to 80 miles inland depending on the coast in question, so even when a storm is likely to impact Orlando it will usually have downgraded several degrees by the time it reaches us. Even so, I have plenty of emergency medical supplies set aside, our pantry is well stocked with several shelf stable items, we have a camp stove and pop-up and a variety of camping supplies in case of extended power outages.
We are almost too well informed thanks to the efforts of many local news sources who cover the weather in state and out to the Gulf and the Caribbean and the Tropics and Atlantic. Having grown up in the earthquake country of Alaska, I sometimes find the breathless disaster foreplay style of storm coverage a bit fear inducing rather than informative. I have found, however, that if you dig into the County-by-County impacts and review the City and County advisories it can help allay panic when EVERY BIT of news coverage of an approaching storm invokes the word “catastrophic”.
Somehow this year though things were off my personal radar. Luckily, I had a couple days off before the storm and was able to do some much-needed running around for bottled water and other items to prepare as best I could.
I worked the evening Ian made landfall; the motel was full of a mix of regular guests and refugees from the Coast. Rooms had been set aside for employees to have available for a few days, not an uncommon practice in the hotel industry, not only as a kindness to the employees but this helps ensure the hotel (if it Is not under an evacuation order) has staff on site to remain operational.
The rains and winds came in waves as the storm bands slowly swirled by above us. I got off around 11pm and made ready to drive home. Jon and I had opted to ride out the storm at the house, it was projected to be down to a Tropical Storm by the time it was passing over Orlando and since his stroke my darling is even more of a homebody than ever! I drove home in wind and rain, through some epic puddles at some points. The radio informed me that Ian had downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane and then as I was listening, a Category 1, winds were down to 70 to 80 mph gusts and heavy steady rains as the storm slowly flowed over Orlando and Central Florida. There were a couple of points where I got worried the car might swamp out in deeper water, but I made it through and got home safe, something was dragging under the car, but at that point I was more concerned with getting inside and I could investigate that in the morning. I checked in with Jonathan and double checked our supplies.
Then as now I lit some Dragons blood incense sticks. I poured some liqueurs and wines into the offering cups of the Dead and the Spirits and the Gods. I spoke some simple and very heartfelt prayers for protection and safety in the face of elemental fury. I stood at my kitchen sink and before my windowsill altar listening to the rushing winds and the persistent misting rain. The power was still on, but for the moment I was more focused on the flickering of a candles flame and the scent of incense, the sensation of the ground beneath my feet and the calming of my breath and heartbeat, a mingled sense of fear and hope, a mingled sense of empowerment and surrender.
We went to bed early for us that night. The emergency alert system notifications blared from our phones a few times in the night, flash flooding warnings in Orlando, but we were both exhausted and there was a hurricane going on.
I woke up in the morning and the power was still on. I started some coffee checked around the house. We had had a roof/window leak in one room, not overwhelming but water leaked in and all over the floor. I threw down some towels and then threw them directly into the dryer as we were going to need to sop up more water and I had used all the towels already. I sipped my coffee and then stepped out onto my front porch for a cigarette.
Our street had become a River in the night, the neighborhood storm drains overwhelmed by a 1 in 1000 year rainfall event that drenched an average of 17 inches of water over Orlando. The front porch was now a dock. The water was to the edge of the top of the front porch, wind driven waves of it lapped over the corner of the porch as I stood there.
I texted my managers at work with pictures from my porch and apologized that I was not going to be able to make it in that night. They understood, and once again offered us a room when we could make it there. That was the first time I lost my composure, I took a moment to regain it and not break down sobbing over the phone with work, and thanked them and said we might be taking a few nights at the motel once we were able to make it there.
I called the non-emergency sheriff’s number to report the flooding and from their direction called the 311 number (central number for assistance and local government services) and let the operator know and she promised that emergency work crews would be informed. She urged me to call 911 if the water started getting inside the house and we needed help evacuating. I thanked her and then did a group call with members of my friends circle and family of choice checking in on folks. Then I double checked the house and cleaned up the minor leak from above the window in the fabulous Jonathan’s office. I threw a bunch of wet towels directly into the dryer and put out some more. Ran around checking the battery powered lights and kept checking the porch. This was when the power finally decided to give out.
Trapped by flood waters, no power, no way out. Gusts of wind and bands of rain still passing overhead. I stood for a few moments before my altar again and crafted a second altar from a couple of gifts from a dear friend. I took a breath and sought stability and calm.
Needing to do *something* with my nervous energy and fear, I swept off and cleaned up the front porch, wiped things out there down as the rain had drifted away for a time, and lit some frankincense and myrrh incense cones both as offerings to the spirits of sky and sea and to invite blessings and to set a peaceful and calm energy to the porch. I sat out there for a while watching the flood waters dance with the wind. Achingly slowly, the waters began to recede. Once I was certain that the waters were in fact receding and as the weather calmed a bit as Ian flowed further away from us, I started wrapping my mind around what would need to be done in the days and weeks to come.
It took many hours for the flood waters to recede, soaking into the ground and into the overwhelmed storm drains. Lots of hours with minimal distractions from the circumstances. Time to ground, to center, to contemplate, and to process a whole lot of fear.
We did end up spending a couple of nights at the motel. We went in the next day before my shift and I ended up working a double, sleeping in the morning, and working an evening shift the next day. After work I went and checked on the house, power had reestablished, so we slept at the motel that night and returned the next morning.
All in all a very frightening episode, and we were incredibly lucky that the house did not flood out. In the days since I have been slowly catching up on a lot of things that have been needing to be done for a long time now. I am also looking to the future and what we can do to try and make sure we are in a better situation for the next time storms come through.
In the end that all any of us can do, though, isn’t it?
Bliss and Blessed Be,
Pax / Geoffrey
PS- This took a few days to put together, partly because life and work and the many chores that have needed doing, and partly because I needed to approach and retreat from these memories a few times before I could exercise them onto the screen.
A quick update to let you know I am still here. If you follow me elsewhere you’ve seen some of the pictures of my Hurricane adventures. I am writing a post about it in between clean up and several long delayed projects around the house and yard, and work, and… and…and..
*takes a breath*
Ok, so there’s a lot going on, but I am here and I am getting things taken care of for my home and my family.
The Magickal or Sacred or Lustral bath is a well-established idea in contemporary occultism, and one can find roots of the idea of a ritual cleansing of oneself as a part of religious or magickal ritual as a theme across cultures and faiths over time.
Now in your research you will find any number of recipes for herbal sachets and instructions that this music or these candles or those crystals should also be involved in the production of a ritual bath. Perhaps it is my beginnings in the Neo-Pagan Witchcraft and “Wicca” (1) of the 1980’s and 90’s, but I tend to go for a less is more approach to my own magickal bathing. I also tend to prefer an element of practicality and being both poor and (as I am blessed with ADHD) sometimes rather differently organized than most, the simpler the better.
Although now that I think of it, I also think some of it has to do with the improvisational and in the moment nature of a lot of my own Witchery.
Blessed Salt added to the Blessed Water is the classic or most widely known stand by. Any number of beginner books on Witchcraft suggest this as an essential preparation for ritual. If you use a shower, a salt scrub or (if you must) a simple muslin bag with some blessed salt in it can work…well…wonders. For myself whether bath or shower, the water needs to be as hot as I can take it. I also like to turn off the lights or have a minimum of light in the room, either a single candle or electric nightlight in the room or perhaps just the door slightly ajar and a touch of light coming in from the other room or the window.
If I am doing a magickal bath with a specific purpose, I tend to prefer an essential oil to a packet of herbs. Practicality and ease of clean up are key for me.
Even if I am not doing a specific working or bit of spell craft, I will often select soaps and shampoos along a variety of themes. If you take the time to go to a health-food oriented grocery store you will often find what I like to jokingly call the White Girl Santeria Aisle. You know the one, oils and incenses and candles and various notions lotions and potions… including bars of organic soap in varieties like Dragons Blood and Tobacco and Sandalwood among others.
It is surprisingly easy with the right frame of mind to turn ones daily routine into a time for reflection and magickal preparations for one’s day!
This sort of mindset can also include your selection of products for grooming. For example, I affect a goatee, and when it is in a bushier mode I will use beard oils with Sandalwood or a delightful Three Kings blend I found online.
I hope this helps stir some thoughts and inspiration into your own craft and daily routines!
9/10//2022 Saturday the Day of Saturn 11:42 am Hour of Venus Waxing Gibbous Moon near Full
Another month and more gone since last I wrote here. This post will be a quick check in I am afraid, I have another post to post and some things to take care of before delving into the Hospitality mines of Orlando once more.
Several things heated up at the Hotel. One of the last few weeks I ended up working a bunch of overtime including an 85-hour week. Call outs and unexpectedly being rethrust into management duties and a number of reminders of both what I have done in the past and how rusty in some aspects of my work life I am after the last 4 years of misadventure. I often hesitate to post here of my work or mundane life much, partly because like most people working for a large company there are any number of clauses and preconditions to my employment that limit what I should be saying about work in public forums.
Suffice it to say it has been very busy, and a needed reminder of my capabilities and worth in both the personal and professional spheres, it also has me questioning if I am in the right place for my best interests, but that is a topic for my journal, my resume, and other venues.
A few days of surviving a mad onslaught of work, see the previously mentioned 85 hour work week, but in the only slightly less hectic days after I got a lot of practice in my grounding and centering exercises and a few bits of self-care spell work.
Look for a few different posts here over the next few days as I shake some dust of my writing skills, in the last month I have had some time for thought and contemplation and ideas. Rather I have pulled my ADHD blessed brain from well worn tracks of work related thought to spend some ME time in contemplation of both what I want to happen in the Life portion of Work / Life balance, and also of some of the ideas I’ve been mulling over to write about.
The other morning, I was doing some dishes at the kitchen sink. As I was washing some cups & utensils, I noticed that the offering cups on the windowsill altar needed washing out as well. The offerings had evaporated/concentrated & were on the edge of getting nasty. So, I took them down, rinsed & washed them with the everyday cups. While things air dried, I disassembled my altar, cleaned everything off, took a mental stock of whether each item was still appropriate for the altar, then reassembled my altar.
I also found myself musing over the concepts of the sacred & profane.
sa·cred /ˈsākrəd/ adjective connected with God (or the gods) or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration. “sacred rites”
pro·fane /prəˈfān/ adjective 1. relating or devoted to that which is not sacred or biblical; secular rather than religious. “a talk that tackled topics both sacred and profane” 2. (of a person or their behavior) not respectful of orthodox religious practice; irreverent. “desecration of the temple by profane adolescents”
~from our friends at Google and Oxford Languages…
As I washed the offering cups & cleaned off my windowsill & the various blessed tchotchkes from the altar, I thought about how some folks would be simply horrified that I was mixing the cleaning of my mundane dishes & my offering cups & magical/religious items. There was a time when many of the texts for new practitioners discussed the importance of maintaining the sacredness or ritual purity of one’s magical tools & ritual items. Some texts or quite full of bits of superstition or folklore presented with little context. Admittedly this can be very useful at the beginning of one’s journey into the New Aquarian Frontier as we gain understanding & perception. At a certain point however, at least to my experience & observation, practicality takes precedence as we seek to continue our Work & grow in our understanding & Practice, & our relationships with the many Holy Powers of the world.
I found myself musing over how we live in an over-culture strongly influenced by Monotheism & an accompanying This or That dualism. Actions, entities, & ideologies that are seen as either Good or Evil, Right or Wrong, Either/Or. At the same time many of the philosophies & practices within Witchcraft, Paganism, & Occultism can lead one to a pluralistic both/and framework for life & reality. I found myself contemplating the metaphor of The Crooked Path and how the simplistic either/or world of childhood & of the early days of my practice as a Witch have given way to a more complex understanding of myself and of my world that encompasses a lot more both/and understandings of myself and my world.
When I make my offerings, it is admittedly sometimes it is a simple pour & a few “Hail to The Holy Powers” maybe some incense and a few moments contemplation then off to the races of my day. At other times it is much more formal. Raising the empty offering cup high, slowly lowering it as I speak my prayers of welcome, of invitation into my rites & works & life, of offerings, of prayers of gratitude, & in the cases of the Dead & the Spirits of healthy boundaries. In these formal times I am inviting the Holy Powers into my life, my every day…
Honestly, I am STILL contemplating these ideas, stirred in a moment of practicality, of self-care, & of devotion. I am not sure if I would say there is no such thing as the profane, that everything is sacred; I might say that everything partakes of the sacred? That in my life & Craft I seek to celebrate what a dear friend liked to refer to as The All That Is.
For the moment though I am not sure what else to say about this moment of kitchen sink gnosis, except to wish you all…
7/14/2022 Thursday the Day of Jupiter 7:52 am Hour of Mars, cusping towards the Hour of The Sun Full Moon
A brief check in today. So, I kind of disappeared there for a bit…
I’d like to think I was doing all right on my Pride series. Unfortunately, as last month progressed with every few days some new tidbit of pain and misery coming across my various social media and news feeds, I started to spiral downwards. Work was heating up for various reasons, and I found myself beginning to feel overwhelmed. Then in the aftermath of the Supreme Courts overturn of Roe v Wade, and Justice Thomas’ concurring opinion, where he outlined an interest in questioning several of the decisions that have given LGBTQ people acknowledgement and legal protection under federal law…
It really awakened a lot MORE fear and anger, and as I review some of my posts from the last month, trauma, than I was expecting or aware was still lurking within me. I pretty much went into a day-by-day survival mode for the most part. Not the first time, especially if you’ve perused this blog at length or followed for a while; I’d like to think I’ve learned a few things over the years though.
I recognized and acknowledged what was happening, including posting in a couple of places,
The realization that current events related trauma has you in a spiral…
*takes a deep breath*
Me to myself and the universe
Acknowledging such things, both to oneself and to others, can be the first step towards UNspiraling yourself. At least that’s what I’ve found over the years.
So I’ve spent some time engaging in some base level spiritual practice, and some thoughts about what I wish to do with my time and tallents and this blog. I am going to be posting as often as I can, and trying to put out resources and posts and various writing each month.
I am questioning some of my workplace situations in light of recent changes there.
I am also looking for ways to be more involved with my friends and social circles, and with some segments of my local community. Even before the Pandemic my life and world had shrunk to one largely occupied by work – sleep – work again, and that is not living!
Now to deal with some much neglected things around the house.