Saturday, October 29, 2011


For those of you who support the Occupy Wall Street movement but cannot be on the front lines of the protests, here is a quick, easily implementable suggestion for how you can help from the comfort of your own home. The best part is that it hit the banks where it counts--the bottom line! Please help and show your support if you can.

Also, there have been some really brilliant herbalists and healers putting together information for those who would like to help the protestors at the Occupy Herbalism facebook page.

I am the 99%!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I Am...


"...Long before man appeared on earth he existed as a dream of prophecy in the animal soul..." ~Edwin Muir


A series of dreams in which I flip light switches on only to have the darkness grow blacker.


Clay evil eye talismans to hang over my door and the doors of friends.


That the breadcrumbs leading me this primal/paleo diet (and, more and more, lifestyle) were sprinkled in places I never consciously looked for them before.


A serious house cleansing/blessing/uncrossing... and money.

Letting go of:

The fact that our roof--for which we signed a contract in MAY--will not actually even be started until, well, probably next May.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Missed Opportunity for Corrupting the Youth and How the Gods Reward Such

Our dear, beloved, ever so obedient pup (almost 7 months old now!) chewed through some of the wiring to our exterior A/C unit (thank goodness we haven't used it in some weeks now). The repairman came today to lecture me for an hour about getting a fence erected (tee-hee!) around the unit and to give me an estimate for the repairs ($164, FYI). While I was trying to reach my husband at work to make sure that we had the budget to go ahead with the repairs, the kids came outside to tell me that there were more men at the door. I opened the door to...

Two rosy-cheeked, clean-shaven youths in matching white button-down shirts and black pants, nametags labeling them "Brother ______". I could be wrong, but I think most people (Christians, pagans, etc. included) have a standard response for this sort of thing, a line that you whip out to make the encounter as quick and painless as possible. Mine is: "I really respect the work that you're doing to spread the word of your god, but I'm a pagan. Thanks, but no thanks."

I swear they stopped breathing. They were dead still for about five seconds. I've used this at least a dozen times on Jehovah's Witnesses, and they usually just avert their eyes and go on their merry way. These Mormon boys, however, were a different story. One of them, in his sweet, southern drawl, said (and I quote): "Oh really? What do you believe in? I've never met a real, live pagan before!" That's when the A/C repairman started calling for me to help him. Damn. Opportunity missed. The boy was so excited that he actually asked if he could wait on my porch until the repairs were over so that we could talk. It nearly broke my heart to tell him no.

The upshot was that the repairman decided not to charge me anything but the $69 fee to have someone come out in the first place. Shhhh! Don't tell his boss. I'm pretty sure that I've lost my pretty, young girl appeal, so what else could it be except a gift from my gods? ;)

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Year of Babies

I was only half serious when I said before that babies and young (and insects) seem to be my niche. It's remained a pattern this summer though. Last week my youngest daughter was stung by a honey bee who had expired quite some time before my daugher (aptly nicknamed "Bee") ever touched her. But that's a story for another time. Today I performed the funerary rites and burial service of a sweet little baby boy squirrel who I'd found in my path on our morning pilgrimage/nature walk. I didn't see him on the way to our destination, but there he was, plain as day, on our way back. We sent him on his way with thirteen black walnuts, water, and a lullabye-- "Rock-a-bye Baby". He had curled all ouroboros-style in the ochre red terracotta dish that held his body during the rites. The girls picked some flowers from the waning garden to mark his grave where it rests among the web of roots that spreads beneath Mother Maple.

And lest you think my silence on this blog has meant an idle summer for me and mine, I'll leave you with this:

Yes, that's my poor, broken garden trowel.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Epiphyte or Parasite?

It grows in the crotch of another species of tree, conifer cradled in deciduous. Both live and seem no worse for wear as of yet. More remarkable yet is that conifers of any sort are scarce around here in a landscape dominated by maples and beech. It seems to me that the most likely scenario is that a bird or squirrel or other beastie carried this seed from the cemetery not so far away. Perhaps it is wishful thinking on my part. Does it make this sapling any less magical?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Animal Herbalists

This is only part one. Watch them all.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Making of a Goddess

(Disclaimer: I am not disclosing the name of the subject of this post in order to protect my own identity. I hope you'll understand. For anyone who would like more information, you may e-mail me at intotheheartofthebeast(at)hotmail(dot)com.)

What do the locals do in your area when they really, really want something to happen (or not happen, as the case may be)?

In my specific corner of the world, most people bow their heads and pray to Jesus. But there is someone else inching in on the lamentations of the suffering and destitute, and she is... not a deity. Yet. In fact, she was a living, breathing, flesh-covered mortal just a little over a century ago. She had (has) a name--a couple of them--as well as an occupation and a fair share of scandal.

Now, however, it is not uncommon to hear someone--even someone of an otherwise Abrahamic faith--petitioning this revered dead for aid. Young women whose love is unrequited and women about to give birth are the most common contributors. They place pennies atop the gravestone at this revered dead's feet and drape strings of beads over the arms of the cross at her head, for she can certainly empathize with their plight. In life, the story goes that she was abandoned by her lover upon his discovery of her pregnancy. The baby of this illicit affair was stillborn, and his mother did not live through his birth.

I realize that this is not an entirely unique situation. Visitors to the tomb of Marie Laveau, for example, will draw a triple "X" sign there in the hopes of being granted a wish by the ensconced Voodoo priestess. The difference--and a significant one, I think--is that Ms. Laveau was attributed with certain occult powers while still living. The jump to asking her to continue her work beyond the grave is not such a stretch. Our local lady, however, does not carry this distinction. At most, those she associated with in life may have been of an ethnic group that is sometimes said to have mystical powers. She, however, did not share their ethnicity. It is somewhat of a mystery how this young woman came to have such a claim to fame. What was it about her that warranted such attention? What is it about her that still calls to us even now?

Sometimes I wonder about the future of this revered dead. I wonder if, a hundred years from now, women will still be gifting her their coins and baubles in return for her blessing. Perhaps a thousand years from now she will have reached a status similar to the Cailleach, whom I feel very deeply walked in the flesh many, many years ago. Will the popularity of the internet and the ease with which we can now gain access to historical information prevent this deification? I pay careful attention to the various threads of our lady's legend and how they have evolved and grown since her death, and I wonder if and how her myth will continue to change over time.

Monday, July 11, 2011

New Soul

There was a freshly turned plot in one of my cemeteries this past weekend. I added my offerings of welcome among the festooned pots laying on their sides over the clods of dirt. The next day, when I went to check on the new dead (I've no idea who it is because it is too early for a headstone, but I feel it is someone young) there was a woman sobbing at the grave. Not wanting to disturb her, I kept my head down and pulled Tracker close since he is still prone to wanting to jump on and play with every human he meets. As my eyes turned towards the pavement, I saw a single wing from a Monarch butterfly, shredded and covered by a muddy footprint.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Outside my back door, there is a fledgling starling resting at the bottom of a pot, the thick roots of a newly potted Althea spread above him. Babies and young seem to be my niche. His soft, warm, expired body was my greeting this morning the moment I stepped out from my front door. Literally, right in the middle of the walkway from my house to the sidewalk (just like the carpenter bee found on one of our morning walks; I guess insects are a niche too.). With me, in regards to the dead that come my way, the Universe is very rarely subtle. Smack dab in the middle of my path is the trend. When my husband called from work, I asked him if he'd seen the bird on his way to his car this morning because I was thinking that maybe he'd been blown out by high winds last night. No, he hadn't been there when the husband had left. His ill-fated first flight couldn't have been long before I walked out the front door.

All of the children were in attendance (including one stark naked 2-year-old) for the funerary rites. They sang with me and helped scoop compost into the pot. My son chose the marshmallow to plant in the pot.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Brazen Bunny

Let me tell you, this is one rabbit that had better be fucking magical because the only other option in a yard with four curious children and an equally curious German shepherd pup is to end up someone's indelicate plaything.

I first saw him (or her) yesterday when I was cutting the grass. (Don't worry, no noisome, fossil fuel guzzling lawnmowers here. The old push mower is equally deadly to small wildlife though.) He darted out from behind the mulberry Cunt Tree, along the fenceline, and into my very overgrown and weedy herb garden near the house. Immediately I had flashbacks to my teen years when I'd failed miserably to save any of the many baby bunnies my dogs had proffered as quickly expiring acts of devotion. They ended up instead contributing to the education of my budding naturalist self, usually being dissected and hauled out to The Swamp for the scavengers.

I thought that was the end of the story, but Cunt Tree Bunny resurfaced again today--when all four kids AND the dog were outside with me making their normal hellish racket. He sat there, as bold as day on the brick path, munching violet leaves. I crated the dog, made the kids back off, and snapped a picture. He was unconcerned as far as I could tell.

I don't think it's a coincidence that today is one of the days I woke with a foot in each of two worlds. Tonight I will sit beneath the Cunt Tree and let myself slide down the rabbit hole.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Solstice

Wonder of wonders! Could the solstice already be here? The first hurrah as we slide slowly into darkness...

As always, our morning began with our soujourn to the geese, and look what we found:

A palm-sized tuft of fur (squirrel? rabbit?) and some honeycomb. And the longest day has just begun.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


A Latino man in his 30's has come to teach me how to fish. We are in the basement of my house, but of course it is nothing like my real basement. There are toys strewn about, and the man's son is having a sleepover with my children. They've laid down sleeping bags on the concrete floor. I go upstairs for something, and the man's son follows me. "Do you have any of those little vibrators?" he asks. "Um, no. I don't think so" is my response.

The man calls me back to the basement. "You need to change the energy in this place. You need vibrators." I explain to him that I don't know what he is talking about. A bit frustrated with my lack of knowledge, he fetches a bamboo steamer and the tiniest fly agarics I've ever seen. One of them is brown rather than red. He attaches these mushrooms to the inside perimeter of the steamer with twist ties and puts on the lid.

This dream made me giggle when I woke up because all I could think of was Ms. Graveyard Dirt's Phallic Agaric".

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Carpenter Bee

Rain or shine, we sojourn each morning to commune with the geese. On this particular morning a carpenter bee met us, splayed directly in the middle of the rain-soaked sidewalk. She's a little bedraggled after her ordeal, but I'm sure you'll all forgive her appearance.

Monday, May 30, 2011


Last night I dreamed that I was working in a bookstore, and a customer came in looking for a book called How to Find Mugwort. Subtle title, yes? There was a large, wooden circular display in front of my register where I went to look for the book, but all the copies of that title had been sold. Still available, however, was How to Harvest Mugwort. I tried to sell the customer on this, but I woke before he made his decision. The cover illustration on the mugwort book was a wood etching done in dark blue on cream-colored paper and showed a man with a broad-brimmed hat wielding a sickle. A tiny spider darted diagonally across the cover as I lifted the book to show the customer, a man of inderterminate features. I woke with Fiona Apple's "The First Taste" in my head, a song I had played during my Anthesteria celebration to provoke Dionysos (he didn't bite).

Today, with The Husband still home over the long weekend, I'm off to my favorite haunt to woo mugwort. Will she let me find her?

P.S.--Mugwort was one of the plants that came up in my Winter Solstice divination.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Message

With the three older kids off to see a movie with The Husband today, I took my littlest for a quick stop at the library to pick up some books I'd put on hold. I received an e-mail that morning stating that my requested books were ready, but when I got to the front of the line the librarian told me that no books had been pulled for me yet. He told me that they were checked in, so I could go get them from the shelves myself if I would like to. Off I went.

No books. They weren't on the shelves. I checked the reshelving cart. No books. I grabbed some others in their stead to tide me over for the long weekend. (Memorial Day means that the library is closed on Monday. Sad face.) I walk back to the counter and pull out my driver's license, since I'd managed to leave my library card at home. The librarian does his thing, then, as I'm grabbing my books to shove off, he casually delivers a message.

"Just don't grind your flour too fine. It has explosive properties." Wink. Nudge.

What the...? I look down at my books, wondering if I've somehow inadvertently grabbed a book by mistake. No, my hands hold a guide to mushrooms and a medicinal plants field guide. What am I missing?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Songs of the Green

When I was first beginning my forays into the world of plants, attempting to learn the magics and medicines contained within them, I was told that these secrets could be gleaned from the plant IF you knew its song. And if you've ever spent your time plucking delicate blossoms from stems or gathering miniscule seeds or snipping nutritious leaves, then you know that these activities allow for the mind to easily slip into light trance and welcome things unbidden into consciousness. Many of the "songs" that come to me in these moments are new to me, trails of notes that I don't recall encountering before. But sometimes there is no helping the fact that the song which seems to fit the job was one that I learned at my grandmother's knee while helping her in the garden. For example, I absolutely cannot see lilies of the valley without singing "White Coral Bells." Do you know it?

White coral bells upon a slender stalk
Lilies of the valley deck my garden walk

Oh, don't you wish that you could hear them ring?
That will only happen when the fairies sing.

This song is a particular oddity for me because, though I've been singing it annually since childhood, I can never remember the damn lyrics unless I'm not trying to remember them. I had to google them for this post even after singing the song this morning with my children! The origins of this little ditty are pretty obscure as far as I've been able to gather, but it is lovely.

A bit more idiosyncratic perhaps, and almost definitely more modern, is the song I can't avoid when we are harvesting violets, as we did today:

Dinah Shore was a witch. ;)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

In the Absence of Anything of Substance...

My second daughter sporting her Beltane whites and a wreath of English ivy (the real stuff, from our garden).

Asking the blessing of Dionysos on May Day for an apple tree planted atop a departed sparrow nestling.

Carpenter bee enjoying the flowering kale.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Full Moon Gardening

Indulge me, will you? I have to say it once. Will it EVER fucking stop raining? Our town has had repeated flooding and in such quantities that the Red Cross has had shelters set up for months now. You'd think this would make things green up like crazy around here, but it has also been unseasonably cold. Not the best of combinations. Two of my lavenders have bitten the dust, so I'm really pissed at myself for not having potted them up. Usually I've put all our warm weather crops in the ground by Beltane. It's the 16th today, and we were wearing pants and sweaters. My paprika peppers will have to wait for their permanent home a bit longer, I'm afraid.

Still, there is plenty to do in our homestead garden. I've been wanting to get a couple cuttings from my mom's raspberry bushes, which have been passed down from generation to generation in our family, but considering that it's been almost ten years (!) since she died I don't think that's going to happen. So today I bit the bullet and bought a couple raspberries on clearance to fill in the spaces I've been saving next to the Red Lathams. I bought an everbearing red variety called 'Heritage' and a yellow variety known as 'Fall Gold'. I've actually never had yellow raspberries before, so I'm curious to try them. There was also a variety of black raspberries, but I'm holding out until I can find some 'Brandywine' bushes. I have a thing for any plant bearing the name Brandywine.

I also picked up a couple blackberry bushes, a task I've been resisting for years because blackberries are widely available in the wild. If I can forage it in good quantity, why should I waste the garden space? The location reserved for the blackberries is in front of a basement window, though, and the husband really wanted something that would provide a bit of security in the form of painful thorns to deter thieves. When we moved here the ground in front of each of the basement windows was covered in prickly pear, and while I love the taste of prickly pear, I did not love picking the tiny, brittle spines from the various body parts of my children. So, blackberries it is. 'Ebony King' and 'Darrow' are the varieties I brought home, both of which had thorns on the plants I chose.

Tomorrow I'll be mulching in the rain and trying to tame the Latham raspberries which I've been very lazy about trellising. 'Tis time.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Cunt Tree Blooms

My garden altar is planted (har-har) beneath a white mulberry tree that occupies a far corner of our backyard, and today (acutally, yesterday, thank you very much Blogger) the tree is blooming for the very first time since we moved here five years ago. Five years of piss, blood, and tears offerings. Five years of celebrations, meditation, and Journeying beneath its branches. Each year something more of the nature of this specific mulberry is revealed. It wasn't until two years ago that I even knew it was a cunt tree. That same year, just a few days before the dawning of the vernal equinox, I gave birth to my third daughter and named her after a mythological flaunter of the cunt. This year it blooms.

Courting is so often a long practice and a test of one's patience--be it human, plant, animal, spirit, or deity that one is trying to woo. Nothing is guaranteed, and there are no entitlements.

The altar covered in mulberry pollen.

Monday, May 9, 2011

When God is Convenient

First: My apologies and many thank you's to each and every person who has inquired about the grain-free life change going on over here. I am still working up to talking about it in this public space, as small a thing as it may seem. It has been a strangely revealing and emotional ride for me. There are no pressing health issues that made us change, but thanks for all your concern!

I have always been drawn to other deeply spiritual or religious people, regardless of the particulars and peculiarities. It seems a simple thing to me to say that my calling to Hera or the Stag King or the Cailleach is not so far from the stirring within those called to Yahweh, Allah, or any other deity. Perhaps this is because one of the most moving spiritual experiences of my life happened in a church at the altar of that most terrifying of Old Testament supernaturals. Sure, the specifics may not resemble each other at all, and the various Forces working through us humans may drive us to do very different things and lead very different lives. But in the end, I recognize that devotion in others.

I also seem to know when the devotion is being faked. Happens to pagans and Abrahamics alike, I assure you.

In the past couple years, I have grown somewhat close to one of my neighbors down the road. She is of the fundamentalist Christian persuasion, but we both homeschool and lead lonely lives at home with our children. This past year we went from exchanging thoughts on the weather and making sure our kids weren't being inconveniences to each other to more intimate conversations about motherhood and marriage. And I finally got to meet her husband when I was invited to their son's birthday party. I'd never caught more than a glimpse of him in the five years we've lived here, despite the fact that he was unemployed for over a year. Apparently, according to his wife, he was embarassed to meet me because he feels that I dress inappropriately. (giant, huge, gaffawing LOLZ) He specifically cited my constant bare feet as an example.

But that's neither here nor there. The real issue is how he uses God to force his will on others, especially his wife and step-son. When he and his wife were first married, she had a car. He convinced her to sell that car by telling her that he intended to buy her a van because of all the carting around of church supplies she is often required to do. Five years later? She was still without a vehicle. "God" had told him that he wasn't to purchase her a car until they had bought the house they currently rent, and that hadn't happened. He didn't tell her this until after he'd sold her car. Okay, I thought. Who am I to question what his deity tells him or why. It's none of my business anyway, right?

His mother, knowing that my neighbor was stuck at home all day with her son without a vehicle in a town that is not walking-friendly, offered to give them her van free of charge AND to pay the first year's insurance premiums so that they wouldn't have to take on any debt. She was promptly turned down by the husband much to the wife's upset.

Then one day my neighbor invited me over to see her brand new SUV. Whaaaat? It was explained to me, by the husband nonetheless, that the reason this purchase was okay was because they hadn't BOUGHT the vehicle--they had only leased it for FIVE years. The wife was thrilled of course, but the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth.

You see, I truly believe that we are (almost) always given a choice with the gods and spirits. They tell us what they wish us to do, and we follow their instructions or we don't. That's free will, people. Exercise it frequently. But don't you dare use your connection to a higher power to fuel your ego trip and force your will on those around you who love and support you. And LYING about the depth of your connection to that higher power in order to get what you want? This is deplorable on all levels. It doesn't matter to me whether it's the Christian god or the Stag King, I will lose all respect for you.

Obviously, I don't believe for one second that God told my neighbor's husband not to purchase a car for his wife. I believe that this particular man uses his false devotion to God as a way of controlling his wife, his child, and other family members and friends. Makes me wish his wife were a witch.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Baby Boy Tracker

Tracker @ 7 weeks, 2 days old

I have a long and sordid history with dogs beginning when I was just a year old and my mother took me to a friend's house for a visit. Said friend had a very randy Dachshund who was not at all immune to my prolific charms. He promptly mounted my ass, thereby scarring me for life and instilling in me a long-term fear of any canine. Tracker--the German shepherd pup above and the newest member of my family--isn't the first dog I've invited into my life, but the trust issues run ever so deep this time. It's not just myself that I have to be concerned with. I have four little ones, all under the age of eight. And he's going to be a very big dog with herding instincts whose breed accounts for 44% of all bite cases (most involving children, of course).

The husband brought him home in a torrential downpour of rain, calling me several times during the hour long drive to tell me all the little things that made Tracker the best dog ever. I reminded the husband to let the pup have a turn around the front yard to empty his bladder and bowels before he entered the house. After all, I'd spent the entire day cleaning every square inch because apparently bringing home a puppy is enough to incite the full-on nesting instinct in me. But when the husband pulled up, I watched him carry a little ball of fur all the way from the car to the house, never setting him down once. In comes the husband, in comes the pup.

"Did you let him go po--" Before the sentence is finished, I feel a warm puddle form on my bare foot.

Oh yes. He'll fit right in.

Wishing you all the merriest of Beltanes!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Is Winter Dead? Has Spring Begun?

Ohhh, I can stretch! Ohhh, I can scoop the black earth between my hands and let if fall between my fingers! Ohhh, there are creatures of the green emerging everywhere! Ohhh Beltaine is nearly upon us?? Shit. I've been busy, yes indeed. There are many changes, mostly of the mundane sort, happening in the Heart of the Beast. A quick rundown perhaps, so you'll not wonder when I disappear for long stretches at a time?

  • On the eve of Beltane we shall welcome the newest member of the family, and for once it is not a human babe sprung from my own womb! Still, there will be sporadic sleep and endless piss and shit (my lot in life, I tell ya). Our German shepherd pup, a fine young lad dubbed Tracker, will finally be ready to come home. It's been 11 years since I've shared my life with Canis lupus familiaris. I think I'm ready. I'm sure more blogging will come on this matter.

  • We (and by "we", I mean myself and the children) have gone grain-free. Again, more blogging is needed on this subject, I think. It was a huge decision, and I'm not sure we'll be able to stick with it because--Hell's fire! The cost alone might put me in an early grave.

  • If adding a puppy to the mix wasn't enough, I finally--after 5 years of longing and talking and dreaming--got the go-ahead from The Husband to raise a small flock of chickens in our teensy, tiny backyard. There've been a million roadblocks (because all things by me must be started during Mercury Retrograde, naturally), but I'm working my way through them. Um, more blogging fodder? Yeah.

  • It's that time of year when the roadkill is prolific. I've mostly been sending them off and/or burying them because my yard has to be inspected before I can get the okay to keep the hens. I'm fairly certain that the smell of death emanating from buckets of macerating bones would not help me pass inspection.

  • Add to that all the everyday and normal seasonal things, and my plate overfloweth.

    Saturday, April 9, 2011

    Finding Home

    It may not come from a hefty tome on witchcraft or an anthropolical diatribe, but I found this quote from Gene Logsdon's The Contrary Farmer to be very relevant to my personal practice. Maybe it will wedge itself into your psyche too:

    The first [characteristic that may be learned] is a love of home. People with a true vocation to contrary farming find so much fascination in the near-at-hand that they feel no need to wander the world in search of truth, or beauty, or amusement... Right here in our neighborhood there are dramatic stories wating to be written about nearly every farm and village home I have privileged to enter.

    If you look far enough back, even my conservative, trashy Midwest town--where there are more TruckNutz than trees--has magic and mystery as part of its story.

    Sunday, February 27, 2011


    We are having the most spectacular late winter storm tonight. There is thunder and lightening, pouring rain, and rolling fog. As soon as the booming began, my face was all a-grin. I peeked outside and saw the low-lying clouds settling just above the drifts of snow, and I couldn't resist.

    I bolted outside, barefoot (but clothed, unfortunately), and lay on my back in the mud that had already formed in the path from house to garage. There was no interest in Journeying. I simply wanted to be there. Some unidentifiable, unexplainable thrill had overtaken me at the vision of my piece of earth rumbling and shrouded, lit only occasionally by the indigo spark of lightening. I could not see the stars. I could not make out the black silhouette of Mother Maple. There was only the whisper of mist across my skin and the wet embrace of the ooze beneath me. It was magnificent. (And cold.) I rose and ran through the rain until I stopped shivering. I listened to the cacophony of tinny pings as the billions of drops hit the metal roof over the patio. I let those billions of drops fall on my shoulders.

    Then I fell to my knees in awe and worship.

    It seems such a simple thing, really. Perhaps it's simply that there has been change that filled me up so with the wonder of it all. Just days ago the snow had fallen soft and still. There is so much quiet in the winter--not silence, but a hush. I love those days and cherish them for what they are, but tonight was something else entirely! My body is still humming with the stimulation. Sometimes it just seems so damn obvious that I need look no further than the very ground I stand on to find my reason for being and the spark that set my heart to beating.

    Thursday, February 24, 2011


    Last night's dream was pretty standard and easily deciphered, but just before I woke I referred to myself as "the convergent blue herb." THAT threw me for a loop. I will have to ponder this further...

    I am in a high school gymnasium watching a basketball game when my husband approaches and tells me he needs me to get something out of his pants. I raise my eyebrow as if to say, "really? Right here and now?" He reaches down the front of his jeans and pulls up the white inner lining of his pocket to show me that something is stuck on it. As I'm trying to scrape whatever it is off of his pocket, he continues to walk around the gymnasium, jumping off of bleachers and taking steps two at a time. Because he is so much taller than me, this makes my favor to him exceedingly difficult. I tell him that he is making things harder on me, but he just chuckles and continues on. I somehow manage to finish the task at hand and then spot my sister- and brother-in-law on the lawn. (The indoor gymnasium morphed into a hybrid gym and football field.) I vent to my sister-in-law, telling her how frustrated I am over the fact that I am a very physically active person who eats well and yet my husband, the couch potato, is bigger, stronger, and faster. She tells me that it is the same in her marriage. I turn back towards my husband, and that is when I say in a somewhat resigned manner that "I am the convergent blue herb." I consider my words for a very brief moment. Did I mean to say "herbalist"? No, what I said was correct.

    Then I am awake. Obviously there are some frustrating inequalities in my marriage right now--*ahem*. I find it quite comical that my sister-in-law, with whom I have an extremely adversarial relationship in the waking world, is always exactly as I wish her to be in my dreams. Even in the dream the whole herb thing threw me.

    Saturday, February 19, 2011

    Between the Worlds

    'Tis the time of year when the Old Woman is beginning to lose her hold over the land and most certainly is raging against it. One day will be warm and sunny, and the next--like today--will bring with it a torrent of snow and ice. Still I will trudge out at every snowfall to offer her food and drink, but come the equinox, I'll have to do my part and shut the doors and windows against her until she returns with a more pleasant visage.

    We spotted our first robin the same day that I received a small blessing from the Stag King, and three days ago the geese returned. My geese! I could feel their coming in my bones, but there was still a week of daily lookout before they arrived. If they'd allow me to throw my arms around their white-ringed necks, I would have.

    Not all has been pleasant. My younger brother, my only sibling, was kidnapped and robbed at gunpoint as he left work last week. He came home physically unharmed, but it's been a harrowing time for all. When my agnostic and chronically skeptical brother comes to me for spellwork, I know things are that fucking bad.

    This little family emergency has me struggling with an issue that has been nagging at me since my first out of body experience some years ago (four? five?). How does one live with a foot in each of two realities?

    In a way I have it easier than some. I don't spend all of my time amidst the whisperings of strange spirits and unknowns, though those that are particularly close to me (Spider, Goose, and various deities) are a constant presence. Those times at which I feel I can no longer resist the pull are relatively few and far between (now; this was not the way at the beginning). On the other hand, when it's my time to go, it's a monumental struggle just to stay in my skin enough to go on autopilot to care for my little ones until bedtime. When you have four kids under the age of eight, not only can it be inconvenient and disheartening to them for their mother to suddenly not be totally there, it can be fatal. I've been through at least a hundred dreadful scenarios in my head. I get queasy just thinking about it.

    I've often wondered if perhaps the reason I am pulled so violently into the Otherworlds is because I resist it so strongly. Am I, perhaps, supposed to be visiting more often? Truth be told though, I'm not always sure why I'm being pulled there as it is. (Am I supposed to admit that?)

    For now I'm dealing with this by trying to be especially mindful and present when I'm not being compelled elsewhere. In the day-to-day goings on of my household and in the throes of family emergency, I am careful to just be there with those that I love and care for, to offer them what I can of myself without reserve. I am as much in their service as I am that of Hera or the Cailleach or the Stag King.

    I also finally broke down and bought Trance-portation by Diana L. Paxson. I had browsed it before and felt rather ambivalent towards the bits I read, but a couple of friends who know about my particular trouble returning from my journeys over the Hedge have recommended it and say that the book specifically deals with returning. It's worth a shot, I suppose. I certainly have a lot to learn.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011


    O, Dionysos! You are a labyrinth! Throw me a yarn?

    My first Anthesteria has come and gone. There was no deep connection to Dionysos or amazing epiphany, though I did feel the first gush of my menses as I opened the first overpriced bouquet of roses with which to decorate his altar. Mostly I felt that I was going through the motions, which was sort of odd because in the days leading up to the festival I was truly feelin' it. He was in each and every one of my dreams for a week, and my thoughts would turn to him often throughout my daily goings on. Still, I'm glad that I did it. After my November lucid dream/journey (uh, I somehow didn't document that on this blog, but you can read it here) I got the distinct impression that celebration for celebration's sake was very important to Dionysos. Not that that's all there will ever be, but it's a lesson I need to learn nevertheless.

    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    A Winter Harvest Day

    My back felt nearly healed today, so of course I thought it would be a good idea to haul my ass and my four kids, bundled nearly beyond the point of recognition, out to my favorite "wild" spot to harvest poplar species buds. I become nervous to the point of insanity every year that I'll miss the bud harvest because Ohio late winter/early spring weather is nothing if not unpredictable and so is my schedule. Today was pretty perfect for this particular activity. We'd had enough of a warm-up to get the resin pushing from the buds, but today was extremely cold. The resin was mostly frozen, so tiny helping hands were spared the potentially sticky disaster.

    Thus far, I've identified trees of two Populus species here in my little domain. The most common is the Eastern poplar (Populus deltoides), also known as the cottonwood. I've found that it is mostly the terminal buds of the cottonwood that carry the thick, healing resin that I am after. The second, much rarer species is the famed Balm of Gilead (Populus gileadensis), which may actually be a hybrid between the cottonwood and another poplar species. Either way, the buds are highly aromatic (great for incense!) and resinous.

    The third bud I harvested brought with it the blessing of the Stag King--two coarse deer hairs frozen fast in the resin. I was overwhelmed with gratefulness.

    The littles could only last fifteen minutes or so in the bitter cold, so our collection was much smaller than I'd hoped. As Fate would have it though, we had just the right amount of buds for the amount of olive oil I had at home. Score one for unpreparedness? I love it when things work out like that. Maybe I'll get to go back to the lake by myself this weekend and pick up some olive oil on the way...

    Monday, February 7, 2011


    No spring cleaning. No serpents. Hell, there wasn't even a candle in sight on Candlemas. So much for plans.

    The Sunday before our planned celebrations, I was out picking up some last minute items for our festivities and for the impending storm. My husband was set to leave on an out-of-town business trip for four days, so I was very careful to go through my stockpile and be sure that I had everything I could need. Going anywhere with four kids is a trial, but going anywhere in an ice storm with four kids is murder-suicide. As I was collecting our milk, I felt a familiar twang in my back. I barely made it home.

    Usually when my back goes out (I have chronic pain issues after a tailbone injury sustained at a Chuck E. Cheese when I was 10), I rest for a couple of days, apply some heat, and I'm back to my old self. This time? More than a week later my back is still unbelievably tender.

    I barely slept from Sunday to Wednesday because of the pain, but when I woke on the morn of Candlemas I was determined to push through it. The first order of business was to make my regular offering to the Cailleach, which is done at every snowfall from Samhain to the vernal equinox. I grabbed some liquor, her portion of the breakfast oatmeal, and some bird seed (uh, for the birds). One step outside my back door, and I landed flat on my back. There was a growing mantle of ice on each and every step, and though I was being careful, the weight of my offerings in one hand threw me off just enough to send me down the slippery slope. Considering that my husband was out of town I was lucky to get back into the house, frozen and bruised. (Don't worry, I did manage to hobble out to the Cailleach's preferred offering site.)

    And that was it. That was my Candlemas. I'm counting my clattering bones hitting the hard-packed snow as my wake up call to the spring serpents. The household altar is still waiting for me to refresh it, but it's up high to keep prying little hands out of things, which means I have to stretch to reach it. That's still a bit too painful.

    Saturday, January 22, 2011

    Candlemas-- Snakes on a Plain

    I keep trying to put into words the reason that snakes have taken over my Candlemas celebration, but it's such a convoluted tale with no distinct beginning and certainly no end (um, unintentional ouroboros analogy much? even writing this I cannot escape the pull of the serpent.). I can't seem to put it into order.

    My garden. Serpents. Mother Maple and her notorious friability. Brush piles. Serpents. The Cailleach needs firewood. Serpents. Hera, Patron with a big "P". Serpents. Brighid as bride; Hera as bride. Serpents. Zeus Meilikhios as serpent. Ohio. Serpents. Imbolc, day of the Bride. Serpents. Weather prognostication. Serpents.

    Okay, got that? The why of it may be labyrinthine, but the practice is relatively simple. Candlemas here is usually too cold for the snakes to make an appearance, although we did witness some very active slithering two (or was it three? I'll have to look back) years ago during an unseasonably warm winter. For the record, this was followed by a horrendous ice and snow storm that left the land frozen longer than usual. You can gather the meaning.

    Nevertheless, we try to encourage the emergence of our reptilian brethren without actually disturbing them. Shallow dishes of blessed milk are set out as offerings in front of each of the brush piles (some of which are bundled for the Cailleach's kindling) while gentle prayers and pleading are said. Sometimes the children will have a contest to see who can make the best frog sounds to further entice the serpents, amphibians being the main course for many of Ohio's snakes. (Incidentally, the Lenape knew February's full moon as The Moon When Frogs First Sing.)

    Sarah, the Witch of Forest Grove, has a wonderful post up about the serpent cult which details some lovely suggestions for incorporating the serpent into your Imbolc (or Candlemas) ritual. I think this year we shall add some pounding on the ground, perhaps with my serpent-twined staff, to our celebration. The snow will most likely preclude any attempt at a spiral dance (we usually hold one indoors anyway for the childrens' festival), but that would be lovely too!

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    House Gone Haywire

    The oven timer of our '80's era range has been going off at random times for about a week. This happened for several weeks when we first moved in, but eventually it just... stopped. Until now.

    Tonight yet another pipe corroded through beneath our kitchen sink. This comes after I broke my plumbing cherry last year replacing nearly half of the pipes in this very area.

    Considering that we live in a bungalow built in 1927, I know that things will come up. STILL.

    There will be smudging and raucous banging of pots and pans and the tossing of salt and offerings to the spirit of the house because this has GOT to stop.