I carried Grandmother
up the trail with me,
to dance around the eight-pointed fire.
Threw my silhouette
up to the starry
Watching my shadow
shake out its weary bones,
I swirled through the constellations
up and out, around and down.
My shoulder-wings flexing
while my hands lay like dead birds
buried in my pockets.
Shake it out,
shake it out,
let the drums move me into the rhythm
that brings Grandmother back
where she belongs.
Saturday, June 10, 2017
Broccoli, cauliflower, onion, eggs, and cheese. Some spices. I would make a frittata for breakfast. Having a guest spend the night summons my inner Betty Crocker, though I'm not known for being all that good in the kitchen. My teen wouldn't eat a frittata - wouldn't each much of anything - but his buddy and I would, and the buddy was quite likely to help cook it, too, if he woke up during the process (he didn't). But I couldn't find my frittata recipe. Past looking under 'e' for 'eggs', and 'f' for 'frittata' in the black plastic 3x5 card holder that serves as my recipe box, I had no idea where it could be, so I stood staring dumbly for a few seconds before thinking to look in 'd', and 'g' in case the card got misfiled, but it did not appear in those sections, either. A quick glance around the kitchen told me all I needed to know – if the recipe was not in the box, it was lost. Because it wasn't anywhere else in my small kitchen (it could be tucked away in a recipe book somewhere to be honest, but I didn't look. Can you believe that?).
Then it occurred to me that I have been making frittatas – or something like them – since my 7th grade home economics class learned to make puffy omelets. I really liked them, so I brought the recipe home and cooked it for my family, who also loved them, and it became a staple of our weekend family breakfasts. Many years later, when my teen was a toddler, I ran across a recipe for an actual frittata which I made one day, and absolutely loved! That was the recipe I was looking for this morning in my enthusiasm to feed at least one teen and myself. I am sad to see it gone (though I still hope to find it tucked away in a recipe book), but I know the basic form: saute broccoli and onion in butter, in ovenproof pan, til tender. Pour in however many eggs (my lost recipe said 7, but I used 3 this morning, in proportion to the amount of veggies and pan size), seasoned with a dash of salt/black pepper/red pepper, over high heat, sprinkle with cheese, then turn it down and cook until bottom and sides are firm. Preheat oven to...425? I set it at 350 today because that's my oven's default setting, and I used a small cast iron skillet rather than my usual 7x7(ish) Corningware dish. Place dish/skillet in oven, and cook for...I went with 10 minutes, and broiled on low for the last 3, which was perfect! Perfect! I let it sit for 3 minutes before I cut and ate it right from the pan, standing in front of the stove. So good!
The teens remained sleeping. That's fine, I'll make more later. It makes me wish I had more small cast iron skillets, so I can make a bunch of personal-sized frittatas at once!
I found my recipe – it was in the 'p' section of my recipe box, with the pasta and potatoes. The 'buddy' teen was happy to accept my invitation for 'a yummy breakfast' (mine declined), agreed that it smelled delicious, and said he looked forward to eating it, which he did enjoy, with compliments. And would you believe..? MY young man not only deigned to taste the creation, but went back for more! Full on successful morning in my kitchen today – way to trust those instincts, be creative, and send out positive love vibrations through a shared food experience.
It reminds me of my recent trip to visit Mom in the hospital. She's been there for quite some time, and I thought it might be nice for her to have a home-cooked meal. I made and brought her a Russian/Jewish dish called kasha varnishkas that she learned from her grandmother, which was passed to me. She ate her fill, then the teen ate his, and I finished it off. Without the dish, we would have had a harder time connecting, I think, but the act of having prepared food for her, and a traditional dish no less, was enough of a kindness to raise the vibrations just enough for us to have a pleasant time together rather than snipe and pick the way we can and do. I like being able to bring an experience like this together - it makes me feel...maternal, something I'm still learning to be, even after 13 years of parenting.
Saturday, January 7, 2017
the tradition we began in 2014 continues here – a list of things that made us happy over the past year, which we wrote on slips of paper, and put in a jar to share together on New Year's Eve.
the boy's list:
experiencing virtual reality
sleepover with G and A
having A and G over
having G & A over for b-day sleepover
sleepover at A's house
sleepover with G
Zoom Flume (w/G & A)
Ms. A's party/food
being a part of the haunted house at Woodstock Music Lab
Ramones and more Ramones x 2 (playing in a Rock Academy show)
Maiden vs. Priest Running Free EPICNESS (Rock Acadermy)
Iron Maiden vs. Judas Priest x 2 (RA)
seeing The Rocky Horror Picture Show @ Woodstock Music Lab
seeing Hedwig and the Angry Inch
first visit to the United Nations
robotics x 4 (learning to solder circuit-boards to program robots he built)
LIFE x 2
Magic Tournament x 6
winning 1st in the Magic Tourney
building an epic Magic deck
cool Magic card
10 mythic rare Magic cards
getting a tablet (at the end of last year)
Dungeons & Dragons
Z-ish (an old friend of mine-ish)
Nahiri (his kitten)
shrimp (riffing on the 'shrimp' theme from the movie Forest Gump)
last night of Hannukah/New Year's @ W's
*swimming and having dinner at the house of a person who no longer makes us happy to mention x 6
Maiden/Priest! (so much fun) x 2
Ramones x 2!
Hedwig vs. Rocky Horror!
PORCELAIN HELMET! (adorable local boys' metal band)
hearing my child laugh
trimming the plants for Spring
New Year's with the former co-op crew
my 47th b-day party (I think we hosted a game day?)
the boy's b-day sleepover
the boy's b-day game day
April Game Day
Beltane w/the former co-op crew
4th of July weekend with Z, Y, B and W
Thanks-taking day of rest
Pizza and meatball epic sleepover party
perfect moment stretched out on the rug in front of the season's first fire with the kid and the cat
having friends who have us over for dinner
finally getting the car inspected
first paycheck from the new job
last night of Hannukah/New Year's @ W's
*our weekly dinner with the person who did me wrong '16
things we thought it was weird we didn't add to the jar, and mentioned after:
him - Billy Joel (playing at Levon's Barn), cuddling with kitties, playing in the snow, Hannukah, learning algebra, getting a new tv, Star Wars 3.5, sleepover with the W kids and watching Invader Zim.
Me - Billy Joel, Yenteprise (new-to-us car), alone time, Hannukah, new laptop, baking Rosh Hashanah Challah.
It seems our list grows every year, and we learn to be more grateful and notice the things that are important to us closely. Sometimes, when we're lucky, they notice us, too. With thanks to the friends that appear in this list year after year, and to the new ones we will make in the coming year – here's to a great 2017, and hopes for all the strength we need to get through whatever comes our ways! Love ~
Friday, December 30, 2016
Just over 20 years ago, while preparing a thesis on the construction and use of labyrinths as sacred space, as well as both a healing and spiritual tool, with roots in several cultures (some no longer extant), I came across the works of a modern-day 'shaman' who immediately annoyed me with his references to novice magical practitioners as 'primates' who travel in what is known as the 'macrodimension' in a manner that smacks of slovenly tourists to whom “it's no crime to throw gum wrappers and crushed beer cans just anywhere that happens to be convenient”, leaving experienced 'voyagers' like himself to manage and clean up the damage they cause by their mindless blundering. It read as rather high-handed and elitist to me at the time, though I was no novice by then myself, having already been engaged with the Work he was writing about for over a decade – but to be fair, he did warn (rather rudely) that those choosing to engage with his written work had better “be armed with a dictionary and a healthy education”, and further, that if one had them, and the concepts and language remained out of one's grasp, one should return to the scene of the inadequate place of learning they had attended and “register a complaint”. Harsh words, indeed, but the book itself was worth the read.
While I have had cause over the years to hear some of that particular author's harsh criticisms float through my mind unbidden, given a statement or deed by a person who considers themselves in some way a part of the Work I refer to, I never considered it my responsibility to say or do anything about it, as I am not a teacher, a spiritual leader, a guru, a mentor, or member of a specific tradition, coven, or group. I began my Work as a solitary practitioner, and while I did, for a time, belong to a coven, I have attended and performed in the rituals of several groups, ranging in degrees of intention from serious to silly, and have been witness to many situations over the years that have brought me to this moment of going so far as to quote some of the demeaning and haughty statements of that one particular writer on the subject, as I have come to a place in my life where I almost agree with him. As a student of language, I have become more and more interested and invested in the intention of language – that is, the way we use words in relation to their actual meanings. Words are power. The breath we use to enunciate those words, to bring them into being, are in truth a part of our very essence. When we send words out into the ether, they become wishes, hopes, prayers, or curses, and with them, we give energy to a certain intention in the fabric of our existence, for better or worse, much like a sorcerer's apprentice, who plays at being the sorcerer, but gets caught up by their own small power, and is overwhelmed by their lack of ability to truly manage what they have unexpectedly called into being.
My introduction to magic as a system was through the discovery of Solomon's Seal and other tetragrammatons in a book of esoteric knowledge I found in the local library, which led me to purchase and begin work with my first deck of Tarot cards at the age of 15, a few more than 30 years ago. From there, I began to learn about the magical properties of herbs, gems, crystals, rocks, and metals, then progressed to creating various magical items for myself and others, while studying the mythology of the ancient Mesopotamian cultures, specifically Ur, Sumer, and Babylon. Having grown up in a Jewish family, I was already well versed in old testament biblical mythology, and thanks to a grandparent who studied Egyptology, I learned a great deal about that culture's mythology, as well. Public school gave me a grounding in the Greek myths, which I studied more of on my own, then came the I Ching, yoga, Buddhism, Wicca and/or Paganism, Druidic mysteries and Arthurian legend, Freemasonry/Rosicrucians/Templars, the O.T.O., the study of several 'magical alphabets', Sufism, Enochian magic, Tantra, and a glance at Islam. After spending some time traveling overseas and visiting as many holy shrines and shamans of the traditions I had been engaged with as I could, I returned to the States where I discovered labyrinths – specifically through ancient Minoan mythology and culture, and generally through the various other cultures who use similar symbolism – then moved on to Theosophy, whatever you might call the systems (dances, movements) created by Gurdjieff, Kabballah, and quantum physics as understood through Abraham-Hicks enthusiasts. After 30 plus years of seeking, I have gained the wisdom to acknowledge that I know nothing, there is always so much more to learn, and just as much to forget.
It is from both this base of understanding (such as it is), and a teaching from my first martial arts instructor, that I come to be setting these words to pixels – Sensei told me that 'we train ourselves to fight, literally become weapons, so that we gain the wisdom to use every means available to us to avoid conflict before we resort to our fists.' It is in the spirit of that teaching (and the years of disciplined study in several arcane arts and sciences) that have caused me to eschew such frivolities as 'money spells', 'love potions', weather-working, simple divination, or charms (though I am not above a quick bit of invisibility when I deem it necessary), and I Never engaged in curses...well, maybe once, through simple carelessness and a place of deep pain and anguish, that helped serve in a person's death. Trust me when I tell you that most energies are best left where they lay - there are repercussions to ALL manner of the Great Work, but those of negative intent can carry some heavy baggage. My misstep may not have been intentional (did the Work choose to manifest itself through me? Was I called upon to be a part of that death for a reason?), but I can't say I didn't feel an evil sense of my own power when I learned of the outcome of the intent I had loosed with my words (there were natural causes involved, too, but...). I was thankfully given a chance to turn that energy around, and through great hardship, give a Huge dose of love and positivity back to the Universe, which I will be forever humbled by, and spend the rest of my natural born life learning from. That is not to say that I haven't been blessed by Much abundance by my good Work over the years – I have – but it is incredibly important to note that language and intention are key when working with any and all forces that belong to the world in which we are merely visitors. Our Earthly plane that we love so well is just one level of an infinite Universe that holds more than our puny minds could ever conceive, and those brief glimpses we are blessed to receive often come with a light that sears us with its intensity. I have worked hard to gain the strength to see into the Darkness, so that I may know those aspects of all our natures, but I choose to serve the Light with all my heart.
So why have I chosen to take the time to bore or fascinate you with my tales of adventure and woe? Because I have recently seen and heard some (what I consider to be) inappropriate boasting on the subject of weather-working. This, to me, is one of the worst faux-pas of magical practitioners, and here's why – as 'witches' (a term I don't hold with for myself, though many of my friends do) or 'wizards', as herbalists, as fairie-folk, or spiritualists, psychics, conjurers, astrologers, sorcerers, or soothsayers, we bind ourselves to the vitality and protection of the beautiful planet we get to live on, and as such, it is not our business to attempt to effect the weather in our own tiny corners of Her Majesty. If your garden needs water, water it – don't call the rain. If you want the sun to shine on your skin, go where the sky is clear rather than call a wind to push a cloud along. If you're cold, put on sweater – if you're hot, take it off...no need to ask Mother Nature for a favor, the gall to ask shows you're not deserving. If you called down snow because your kids wanted a 'white Christmas', or rainbows for their birthday, or butterfly poop on their pillows, you have interfered with the Natural Order of things, and should book a flight to Haiti to help with disaster relief as repentance for your selfishness. Every Act Of Magic You Conjure In This World Ripples Out And Touches Everything That Is, And None Of Us Has Wisdom Enough To Know How Far Our Reach May Extend. Seriously. It is incredibly irresponsible to use one's power in this manner. Much more so than simply botching a ritual because you didn't do your research (or did it in a hurry) – in terms of sloppy ritual, your good intent will redeem misspoken calls/prayers/castings in a very different way than spells worked for personal gain or fulfillment will come back to bite you in the grimoire.
Please, people – pay attention to your 'primate' natures, and understand that 'being a witch' means more than dancing boot-clad around a tree with a pointy hat on reveling in your own idea of glory. The Work is Serious, and requires a certain level of responsibility, caution, restraint, and knowledge. A calm mind, and a clear, uncluttered space are great places to center yourself from before you even draw that first cleansing breath to begin. Do some yoga, align yourself in your body, mind, and spirit with the wisdom to know what the Universe needs from you, and to allow it to work its will through you. Leave ego at the door, and choose to serve the greatest good, which is often not for us mere mortals to decide. If you have raised a cone of power, please send that energy to help lessen the plight of refugees, send it to the water protectors at Standing Rock, send it towards the Powers That Be that they may do right by those they govern, send it to someone who is afflicted by disease and is in need of healing, send it to ease a birth or death, send it to end war, decrease famine, to increase love and understanding. Send it where it can do the most good – if you have the ability to practice your Work in peace, surrounded by prosperity, you have the privilege to share it with those less fortunate, and an abiding responsibility to do so. Listen...listen...listen...do you hear?
Sunday, January 17, 2016
With a roar, the revenant crawled out from under the ground he was buried in, exuding such sounds as those that had terrified the villagers before, causing a slamming shut of windows and doors in all of the cottages closest to the Abbey and the graveyard, with whispers spreading quickly through the alleys and street, causing a general bustling of women and children into back rooms, behind locked doors. Bishop Gilbert stopped short at the sound in mid-prayer and sighed heavily, crossed himself, and rose slowly to his swollen, old feet. Sighing again, he tottered towards the shelves stocked with bottles of holy water, muttering, "is there no justice, then, in the afterlife, Lord? Why must your pious and good sheep be tormented by creatures such as these?" Standing in a shaft of moonlight, he took down several vials of the blessed water, blessed them again, and moved with care towards the workroom off the rectory to combine his only weapon from the small vials it was bottled in to larger receptacles. He knew from experience that it would take more than a few drops of the precious stuff to hold the monster at bay, and aging though he was, he was the greatest ally his flock had against an enemy such as this. The last time it came, it took too many of them with it down into whatever depths of hell from which it emerged. He was loathe to lose any more of them.
Jack was dozing before his hearth after a hot meal, his feet stretched out towards the flames, his pipe smoldering in his hand, when his dog, Neville, sensed a fluctuation in the rhythms of the night-time sounds that usually accompanied their sleepy little village's evening routine, and issued a low moan to alert his master to the possibility of danger. Jack opened his sleepy eyes to glance down at Neville, whose head was turned towards the door, his ears engaged to pick up the slight sounds out of the range of Jack's own hearing, but registered nothing out of the ordinary, and dismissed the dog's seeming concern, merely shifting in his chair to maximize his comfort. When a bellowing roar reached his ears a moment later, he was on his feet just as fast as Neville, whose hackles were up, his snout lowered, a low and dangerous growl issuing from his throat, between barred teeth. Jack already had his gun in his hand, then looked at it, put it down, and went outside for his shovel, went back inside for his gun, and looked from one to the other, trying to decide which would be more useful, whether he should bring them both, or if one would get in the way of using the other should the need for one arise over and above the need for the other. He settled for both, and calling Neville to him, strode to the village green with a steely expression in his eyes, and a curse on his lips. "Not tonight, ye Devil. Tonight I'll rip yer heart out with me bare hands rather then see ye claim one more innocent life. Not one more, ye hear me, ye rotting corpse? For what ye did to me Mary, I'll have yer head on a spike outside my door for a notice to any more like ye that wants to come moaning around my door again - you hear me, ye bloody Devil?" He was shouting now - "ye hear me?!"
On the green, he was met by several other grim-faced men, similarly armed with guns and shovels, also muttering curses and vengeful epithets. Several of them clapped him on the back as he joined them, grumbling "Jack...there ye are, man, I knew ye'd be here...evening, Jack, we're ready this time, eh...come on, then, Jackie-boy, let's get 'em." A shout went up as a shadowy figure limped towards them out of the dark, but a calm voice assured them all quickly that it was none other than their beloved Bishop Gilbert, and several rough hands reached out to steady the old man as he panted his way into the circle of their safety.
"Good evening, gentlemen...thank you, Richard, I don't mind leaning on you a bit, son, I came as fast as I could after I heard the first indications that we would be visited again tonight by that creature of the dark...how many are here? Looks like most of you...that's good, but please, we don't want to risk too many, you are all too important to me to lose even one!" The elderly bishop stopped to catch his breath, as another ungodly roar pierced the darkness around the men assembled together in the center of their beloved village...
"Ok, stop right there," said the lanky woman in the red dress that everyone in the class was buzzing about being from some network or other. "Thank you all for reading your story ideas for me today, there were some really good hooks in the batch, well done. I can say with 98% certainty that my network would be willing to offer to produce a pilot episode of several of them, but I'm out of time for today, and I'm seriously considering this one about the guy and his dog going out to fight some creature with the priest," she said, pointing vaguely in the direction of the young author who had just read his work to her, while staring off at some indistinct point in space as if she were already framing the storyboard in her mind's eye, and tallying up set design and costuming costs. "Would you be willing to give me a copy to take back to my people? I'm that interested..." she said, looking directly at the pudgy student turning red before her outstretched hand.
Glancing shyly at his professor, Neville saw that she was smiling her encouragement the way she did when he shrank from the praise he found heaped upon him in these uncomfortable, public settings, and squeaked out a small noise that was meant to be a 'yes', but sounded like he had stepped on a mouse, so he nodded his assent as well, to be sure that he was clear in his acceptance of her offer. Luckily, Ms. Burton stepped forward to help him out in his moment of extreme fear, and smoothly took the manuscript from his shaking hand, addressing the whole class in general, him in particular, as well as the network woman, "I can run off a quick copy in my office while you all get ready for your next class. Ok, Neville?" Her warm smile reminded him to breathe again, and he nodded back while taking a deep gulp of air. "Fine," she said with a wink, "Come on, Sylvia, we can chat quickly about what a talented group I've got this year while it prints - it won't take more than a few minutes..." Ms. Burton and her network friend clicked out of the room and down the hall on their high heels, chatting like the old friends they were, as Neville did his best to respire, in and out, before he did something stupid, like throw up.
* the words took me on an interesting journey in the form of the story, but I couldn't figure out how to work in the word 'pilot'. my kid gave me the idea to end it the way I did - he said it sounded like a tv show, and that in my story, someone could turn on their tv, and say, "I don't like this show", and turn it off! : )
come play along at:
Thursday, January 14, 2016
As I'll be teaching a class on creative arts to my child's homeschool co-op for the next several weeks, I thought I'd start this round with 'Artist' - and given the recent death of one of the greats in my lifetime, I figured that artist should be the legendary David Bowie. And why not post a song of his that starts with the letter 'A'? So, here for your listening pleasure is Absolute Beginners...enjoy:
click the image to play along at: