Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Kitty's gonna Kit; Pyrex gonna Py

Tomorrow marks week three after catching the sick and I'm finally feeling better. Still coughing (because goodness knows I wouldn't want to spend a day not doing that!) and still a bit weak and sore in my core but overall I'm feeling much more like my old self. And I can talk again! World beware. So here's a quick update of all things fanged and fragile.

Our friend Chris got us a cat for Christmas/Yule. She knew we were looking and so she paid half of the adoption fee which was the only reason we were able to get a cat and it was damn nice of her. We visited her rescue ccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccc                                                                                                                                                    yttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttth6777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777x

Okay... so I left the computer for a minute and came back to the above nonsense. Since it was the new cat who inserted said nonsense, I've decided to leave it for your viewing pleasure. Also it ties in nicely with my explanation of this cat's proclivities. 

So back to where I was: we visited the rescue and found a four month old little orange tabby. He came from a feral mama but had been fostered pretty much since birth with his brothers and sister. Of the litter he was the smallest as well as the last to be adopted. So we brought him home. Narcisa had things to say. Mostly hissing things to say. But it hasn't even been a week and the cats are already playing and chasing each other. They sniff each other a lot and are not aggressive toward each other at all, however it may still take some time before they cuddle. If they ever do cuddle. But I think eventually Thorin (that is the little one's name) will wear her down.

In the mean time however the Son of Thrain has found his calling in dismantling our computers. He took mine off internet access for two days. It wasn't that he put it into airplane mode... no he somehow erased my computer's connection to our wifi. Hannah had to work her magic and run a whole bunch of cleaners before I was able to get back on the net. No sooner was my compy back up and running did he waltz over to Hannah's and erase all her icons. He's been known to turn off the computers as well as save print-screen images to Hannah's one drive. Yeah, he's pretty good with the technology but that isn't surprising as most kids these days are born with a tablet in their hand. 

The cat and his shenanigans aren't the only reason for this post tonight. Earlier today, friend Rachel of kettle korn fame, came over to the house to hang out with us while Hannah made a butt-load of bierocks (German buns) and I made an equally loaded butt of baklava (honey-nut pastry). Apparently it was b-named food night in the Hannamanda kitchen. Anyhow, I made some fun alterations to the baklava. I am trying to think of a dairy and gluten free sort of substitute for a friend but that might not happen. I'm a wee bit discouraged, you see. I made the Krampus-klava (pumpkin spices and whiskey) without too much stress and followed that up with Snow-klava (the addition of sweetened coconut) but then I made my masterpiece: Freya's Delight Baklava. We named it that as I was constructing it. This baklava had everything in it apart from the kitchen sink. And the honey syrup mixture that I put on top was perfection! I set it on the stove to cool and went to work on a special fruit filled batch for my dad that I call Loaded Odin Baklava. 

I got one layer of Loaded Odin down when there was a sudden loud pop-crack sound. I looked up to see Freya's delight (and Rachel's very special baking dish that she had let me borrow) scattered all over the kitchen with a decent sized fire roaring over the burner. A burner that I had left on. I feel like a moron for that rookie mistake but I know that I'm not the only one who has done it and I take solace in knowing that while it's embarrassing at least it is common enough to illicit a teensy bit of sympathy from my culinary friends. The best part about this sudden emergency was that none of us panicked. Hannah quickly and efficiently herded the cats to the bedroom and closed them in while Rachel and her boyfriend helped me to extinguish the fire (baking soda is my new best friend) and clean up massive chunks of broken glass and honey. What a fucking mess! But how cool of them to help me. 

The kitchen counters are very clean now and I'm nearly 100% certain that there is no glass in the bierocks that Hannah made earlier. I suppose if we find blood in our stool we shall know otherwise. The last thing I have do to now is to mop the kitchen and that will have to wait until morning. I'm exhausted and it wasn't until Rachel and her boyfriend left that I realized how late it was. Today has been an interesting one to be sure. (Or yesterday into today rather, since it is still in the very wee hours of the morning right now.) 

At first we thought the breaking dish might have been a sign that we'd angered the gods or that we were somehow undergoing a sort of curse. Earlier in the evening my Yule tree fell over on the table for no seemingly no reason. So the tree falling and dish breaking all seemed a bit spooky at first but we realized in the end that the tree fell because I had neglected to ever balance it properly (something I have since rectified) and the dish broke because I'm a moron. In all actuality we can count this as a blessing because no one was hurt. We could have easily been in the kitchen and been cut, burned, or otherwise harmed when the dish exploded but everyone was off doing their own things. A cat could have been in there, or been in the tree. But no kitties were harmed either. Aside from adding a lot of cleaning to the evening and wasting a batch of baklava (and the loss of Rachel's dish which I'm still very sad about as the dish had belonged to her mother who is no longer with us) the evening was a fairly decent one. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Coughing for Christmas

This Tuesday will mark two full weeks of upper respiratory infection. It feels like it's been months. The worst of it is over. I no longer have the fevers, the shakes, the horrible congestion that makes me throw up and piss myself. I feel, for the most part, like a regular human, except that now I am a coughing machine. I suspect it's the damage I've done to my throat and airways over the past two weeks that are keeping the cough well and alive. Which means I'm right back to dealing with piddling here and there because I can only take so much coughing before my eyes water, my nose runs, and my bladder leaks. Today I couldn't get much out without being winded by cough. At work I sounded horrible and after work, at my mom and dad's house, I sounded even worse. 

We went to see my mom tonight and do a little Christmas shopping. (The roads were fun in the "wow, maybe this was a horrible idea, we might die!" kind of way). We don't have much money and many of our friends are just getting the flat Hannah and Amanda versions of ourselves that we are working on. But even in tight times I still like to treat my Hannah and my parents to a stocking full of goodies come Christmas morning. For Hannah and I we open gifts in honor of Yuletide, but with the folks we will always do a Christmas thing. There is something very magical and mysterious in the quietude of Christmas morning when the whole world (or at least a generous portion) takes a break and just watches a loved one open a gift. Doesn't matter what the gift is... somewhere in the world little hands are tearing at tissue paper, a teenager is breaking in a brand new karaoke machine, a husband is ignoring the instructions as he puts together a bike, a dog is gnawing a new bone, and a cat is playing with a wrapper. That's what Christmas is to me - a time of year when secular, Christian, and Pagan traditions all come together to invite fellowship. No matter what entity or vision of Santa Claus a person celebrates, they are still celebrating. Even the bah-humbug, Grinch-wannabes are participating in the energy. Whether they want to or not. The harder you look away, the more energy you are sending out. 

And I'll be spending most of this magical morning with my Dispatch rep at work. There will be no customer calls that day. I'll mainly be providing carrier line back up and checking emails. I plan on bringing in something yummy for her and I to munch on as well as bringing in Dutch Bro's coffee for us. I am Starbuck's girl through and through, but my Dispatch Peep is all about the DB. One thing I've learned being a lead in newspaper circulation: keep your Dispatch happy. So I swing the way of the Dutch Bro's when I'm there with Dispatch. It's a small sacrifice to make to keep the world turning. 

Speaking of circulation and all that jazz, today was made of suck. It was so stressful and so busy and I had to wrangle so many attitudes. And all this while coughing out a series of distressed foghorn signals and trying not to fill the cushion of computer chair with Prednisone scented piss. I have one day left. Tomorrow I work from 7:30 until 4:30pm. After that I'm free for over a week! With Hannah applying for disability much of that free time is going to go toward doctor's appointments but still, that's a much different level of stress than going in to work to listen to the pre-Holiday rage that always seems to happen to the customer class right before we get the magical Christmas morning scene. This month has turned out much busier than I had wanted it to and I'm a little worried that any time off I have is going to fly by so fast it'll leave my head spinning.Still I'm going to make the most of my time away from work. I'm going to recharge and get ready for the new year and hope that at the very least 2017 will see me free from persistent coughing. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Hashiburi desu ne?

Which means 'it's been a while, yeah?' And it has been a while since I've posted. The only reason I'm settling down enough to post a blog at the moment is because my head is about to explode if I don't stop moving so here I am. Things have been busy. With it so very close to Christmas and Yule I'm really feeling the brunt of not having much money. People are going to be getting home made gifts this year (not that home made is anything to sneer at) but typically I like being able to spoil friends when I can. However, the gifts Hannah is making are truly wonderful and will spoil our friends nicely I think. Also this year I've decided for my friends who live far away (beyond a few hours drive to reach) that I'm going to do a fun and interactive Christmas/Yule gift this year. And I have a weekend off coming up during which I hope to get most of this done and then as soon as I'm paid again, get it all mailed out. 

At the moment I'm 'resting.' On Tuesday, whatever it is that Hannah's got (presumably the seasonal bronchitis that seems to be ringing in many peoples' December) hit me like a ton of bricks! I felt perfectly fine all day and then suddenly it just attacked me. I ended staying home from work for a while the next day but had to go in as most of our staff also is sick. Today I stayed home again and I'm really pissed about it. I wanted to be there to help and I know they really needed the assistance what with being so short staffed, but today I fell victim to laryngitis the likes of which I have never known. If I were being pursued by a murderer right now, I wouldn't even be able to call for help. Even during my worst vocal node episodes in the past, I've never felt quite this without voice. It's infuriating and a little scary. I've been sucking down warm beverages and soft foods today and come hell or high water I'm going in to work tomorrow. I may only be able to do non verbal work which sucks for my compatriots on the phones but at the same time it would free them up from having to worry about emails and other such business. I hope I have at least a little voice though. 

Aside from all of that, I've been trying to rest my body, voice, and chest... but am a restless creature when I'm laid down. So I've been cleaning a little. I cleaned the bathroom and the hallway and mopped both. I've been doing laundry too. These things have happened in quick bouts of energy that later result in pathetic, voiceless whimpering curled up on the couch. We've been watching old movies like "An Affair to Remember," and "How to Catch a Thief." We started "Sunset Boulevard" this morning and had to keep going back as we would either fall asleep or had other things going on. Somehow I managed to whine enough (via Hannah who acted as my voice) to my parents that they actually came over for a little bit to tend their sick daughters. They brought the makings for hot toddies and some soups. In exchange for that I made them pancakes with blueberries and coffee. And every time I opened my mouth to try a hoarse whisper of conversation they shut that shit right down. It was frustrating. But at the same time I was really missing the 'mom' and 'dad' voice. 

In other news, Christmas/Yule is on its way! We've been decorating the house and apart from the fact that it looks disheveled as hell in the aftermath of our sickness, the winter theme is coming through quite nicely. Which brings me full circle. Christmas and Yule this year... I am very sad at my lack of finances. Next year may be even worse but for now I'm going to do my best to try and embrace the 'thought' and 'intentions' that make gift giving more important than any gift. 

Recently watched the full series of Death Parade and really enjoyed it.
I wanted to share the ending theme for those who might be interested. 
Such a sad and psychological anime. I loved every minute of it!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Update in Scenes, Happy Halloween

A Halloween party: people gathered round and being silly. Beautiful candied apples and cupcakes galore. A fire in the hearth, a black poison punch... spilled in my crotch. I mean like really in my crotch. Intimately in my crotch. Shower and back to the party. Giggling and feasting, high energy, overwhelmed moments, sneaking away to play Panda Pop. Also I made leeches. Word to the wise, don't put gummy worms in a punch if you ever want to enjoy gummy worms again. Of the parties we've had this year, this group was the smallest. We felt no need to play party games. No Ouija and no Vampire. But the party did not suffer for it. Late night with friends and sleeping in the next day. A great introduction to the intensity of Halloween 2016.

Had a pajama day yesterday at work . Late paper protocol - could do this in my sleep. A bit crazy but still hanging in there. I was excited for tomorrow for Halloween at work. And excited for Halloween tomorrow night and then for tarot and Ouija in the first week of November to celebrate the cross-quarters. We are celebrating Saturday night with friends.

A few things that happened yesterday: I drove home behind a large black truck that had a ton of fallen and crisp pretty leaves in the bed. As we drove along an unending stream of autumn confetti drifted in gorgeous figure eights and whirls all around me. I grew a beautiful pumpkin, perfectly orange flesh and symmetrical, and today we discovered that it has been stolen. Of the three pumpkins I grew to fruition, my father and mother have the itty bitty one and I have the misshapen greenish monster (which I love very much), leaving the super model pumpkin in the hands of a thief. I'm telling myself it was a child who was seduced by the pumpkin's beauty and has now lovingly carved it into further perfection. That will be the truth.

I haven't kept up on my spells. But even in the few I've managed to offer up in this blog I've learned a great deal and continue to learn. I'm out of touch with my Book of Shadows. I'm out of touch - or feeling a bit out of touch - with the divine and the energies around me. So I'm learning. I'm learning to get past this, whatever this is. 

A myriad of dead and dying bugs fell on me after I stepped off the bus the other day. It was disorienting and upsetting and they clung to my jacket and my face. White fuzzy bodies, almost like fluff, wings veined and minuscule, legs kicking in death and suddenly my black clothes are dotted with puffs of passing. 

Went to Creepy Hallow two nights ago. Drank coffee-cocoa and walked through an Insane Asylum in the woods. Lots to look at, hard to see it. So dark. The best part was hearing shrill screams and maniacal laughter echoing through the trees, mixing with woodland mist and the ghosts of my breath. A tall ghoul clown came up to me. He sniffed me and I sniffed him back. He was wearing a cologne that made me hot. Wish I had asked him what it was. Almost like Armani Code but not as sweet. Ghoul musk. He followed me creepily. I was scared and excited. He touched my hair, gently letting locks drip through his fingers. I kind of hoped he would follow me through the whole forest. I'm taken and all but Halloween is a time for thrills and chills and he was doing a pretty decent job of both. Made it through the forest! Sprained my ankle on the way to the car. Figures. 

Didn't buy these the other day, but really wanted to. Any food with Vampire in the name sounds amazing. Even kale chips.

Last night I made a water mosaic. That's what I'm going to call it. I filled a punch bowl with water and Rowan berries, fallen Maple leaves, other leaves, two mini pumpkins, and the shell from my Golden Apple snail. Tonight we'll consecrate the water by adding moon charged water: the water is rain water from the roof terrace of my work, gathered in the dark morning hours after a full blood moon. 

Not sure exactly what mysterious fun awaits us for tonight. A ritual perhaps? Some meditation on the dead? Divination and Ouija? We'll find out later. For now I'm just doing my best to stay awake and alert. Tonight is the night when the world waits together for transformation, unveiling, and dark beauty. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Spooky Office and Seeing Red

The last two days of work have been really neat and really different. I've been able to spend a lot of time off the phones (a special treat to be sure) decorating the customer service quarter for Halloween. it makes me so happy to see all the spiderwebs and ghosts and bats. And a coworker has set up a witch's altar right in the entryway. Yeah, I'm pretty fucking stoked. When not decorating I've been working with my bosses to figure out my new schedule as well as helping with an outreach project that combined my bubbly phone skills and my writing skills. I got to speak to notable members of the community to ask them for quotable opinions about the paper. It was kind of nerve-wracking and kind of a blast.

Also a gentleman from Seattle sent some copies of a paper from 1889! They were from way back before the Spokesman-Review was actually the Spokesman-Review. Before it was the Spokesman and the Chronicle. This paper was titled Spokane Falls Review and even though we are pretty sure these are special reprints (still really cool even if they are) there is some debate as to whether or not they could possibly be originals! 

On my way home from work today... well let me start with the fact that due to construction my bus stop is two blocks down from where it normally is so I was already thrown a bit off as I made my way. I missed the bus. Saw it drive off while I was too many steps away to try and stop it. No worries though because there was another coming shortly. While I waited I called Hannah and before it was due, there came the bus, but I was seated in front of the financial building and too far away to hail it.

As I walked dumbfounded toward the now departing bus, I missed a step off the terrace and did the thing that no fat girl ever wants to do in public ever. I fell flat on my face. Scraped up my left knee (which was already injured by way of a strained IT-band) and twisted my right leg a little. Mostly though it was my pride that hurt. Did I mention I was wearing a skirt? I also had on red underwear. But I hardly need to tell you that since my skirt flopped up and onto my back and gave the entire world a lovely view of my panties. I'm on my period too. Thank the gods I was wearing red panties. 

Anyway, no sooner had I stood back up, lying in my assurances to passersby that I was "fine, fine, I'm really fine," did the tears start pouring. I was still on the phone with Hannah. Through all of it I had managed to hold onto my phone and keep the call. So I whimpered to her, "I just fell. Hard. And I'm really not okay." All of this was said through tiny hiccups and sniffles and sobs. Hannah said she'd come get me. I'm really thankful she offered. The last thing I wanted in that moment was to wait for the next bus to drive off without me.

I told her I didn't want her to hit the construction so I started down Sprague. I was so angry/embarrassed that I walked all the way to the Starbucks at the corner of Division and Second. It was over a mile which (for a fat girl who just skinned her knee and executed her pride) was a decent jaunt. I walk to the bus stop in the mornings most days but even that is only three quarters of a mile. So I was proud despite my resonating utter horror. Red panties. Just... red panties. Shocking that I'm so upset really considering what an exhibitionist I am. 

On the way to the meeting place I did find some solace in our city's art. I've seen these things hundreds of times but today I felt the need to document them. Both of them are on Sprague as you go east toward Division. Giant marmot and River Park Square Michelangelo (as I have dubbed them.)

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Circles! And a refreshing view of Ouija Boards

So I am planning on doing some Ouija Board sessions during the month of October and so have purchased (thank you Amazon) a board of my own with a circular lay out. I am a huge fan of circles. My favorite shape. But not even for the obvious reasons (Witches be loving them circles, yo!) I have just always been attracted to circle shapes and spirals. They are my jam. Anyhow, so I am purchasing this circular style board which, according to the reviews does not come with "instructions." Not that instructions are needed, but it's nice to do some research before trying something new and "oh so very" controversial. I found a myriad of sites all proclaiming that there way was best. But the site I actually found helpful (The Museum of Talking Boards) came at the topic of Ouija with honesty and the tone of "it's up to YOU to decide what's best concerning usage and attitude." And that suits me very well. One of the articles I found on the Museum of Talking Boards site states: 
Opening and closing rituals are neither essential nor necessarily traditional but they might enhance your Ouija experience, particularly if you enjoy ceremony. Regardless of what you may have heard, there is no "one true way" to ritualize. Your "own true way" is best. Recite poems, speak power words, intone spirit invocations, or sing songs that are meaningful to you. Surround yourself with candles if you're so inclined. Above all, "personalize" your session. If you want to cover your board with amulets to protect yourself from the "unfriendlies," go ahead and do it. There are no rules to the contrary. Do whatever gets you in the mood.
I have only ever utilized a Ouija Board once before. It was on Halloween with a group of grade school friends. We ate tons of sugary treats, drank sodas, and watched Children of the Corn and other scary movies. Then someone brought out a Ouija Board and we gathered around. The planchette moved and I don't remember the question but I know at one point the planchette spelled out: AMANDA BAD. I felt that someone might be moving the piece on purpose to get at me or maybe there was a message there that we didn't finish like: AMANDA BAD AT SAXOPHONE or AMANDA BAD-ASS. But at the time I was just pretty flushed and upset. I didn't figure that I was bad (I admit I probably felt a little guilty since I was a good Catholic girl playing Ouija... who also knew how to masturbate, but....) either it was a friend being a jerk or perhaps it really was a spirit and it was being pesky. Moving right along now, I've been super curious to get back at a board and try for a serious and insightful session. If it says "Amanda bad" again I'm definitely going to ask for clarification because I may be a little bit "bad," but I'm damn "good" at it!

Halloween, Handfasting, and Spell 3: Holding it together!

With Halloween fast approaching Hannah and I have been filling the house with spooky fun. We've been watching goth vloggers Goblin Queen and It's Black Friday on YouTube as well as decorating the house and getting ready for Halloween treats, rituals, and parties. In researching an alcohol free punch for the work Halloween party I stumbled upon this fantastic site: My Scary Halloween. There is so much win on this site. I found a few links that are broken but all in all this is a fantastic place to go for ideas, nostalgia, and good old fashioned Halloween fun. And speaking of ideas:

Hannah and I have been doing some serious work on the Handfasting front. We have a few granges around town that we're going to check out after I get paid this next week and we also have a dinner plan in the works. The food will be a 'hearty feast,' meaning turkey and ham and rolls and mashed potatoes and everything else yummy! As for decorative and overall theme we are sticking with gothic fantasy forest. Depending on where we decide to have the wedding we may well have our work cut out for us with decorating. Also we've been working on the guest list and already trying to think about where we are going to house some of our out-of-towner friends. A few people may have to stay in hotels, but I think we'll figure it out. We'll make sure any hotels that we use are nearby so that we can all be close together during the insanity of the wedding. 

And in light of all the planning and the chaos my third spell is going to be a spell for an empowerment talisman. Use this talisman (hold it, rub it, stick it in your bra, make it into a necklace or bracelet) when things are a bit too much to handle and you need a moment to just say "gods and goddesses this shit is real and I need a hand." My inspiration and basis for this spell comes from The Witch's Spellbook Tumblr blog

Five candles (any colors that represent strength for you)
Toothpick (or something equivalent for purpose of carving wax)
A piece of paper
Red marker or pen
A small object, wearable is preferable (pendant, stone, hair clip, pin, etc.)

First, play some power music for yourself and meditate a moment on the lyrics. While energizing yourself and rocking out, take the candles and carve power symbols into them. If you are using chime candles you can put the symbol wherever you like, but if you are using tapers you might want to put it near the top so that the symbol burns/melts during the spell casting. For power symbols you can use whatever makes you feel strong. Use the symbol for The Artist Formerly Known as Prince if you desire, or use a rune, or just a really exaggerated smiley face. The point is: whatever makes you confident and strong, that is what you want on these candles. You can tie a hair around the candle too if you would like. I might take hair from my parents and from my significant other and from close friends. All people who empower me with their love. I think you get the idea. 

Next: using the red marker draw a pentagram on the piece of paper and place your empowerment candles at each star point. Place your chosen object into the middle of the pentagram. Make sure the symbols you've drawn on the candles face inward toward the object (unless you've covered the candle in symbols in which case, rock on!). 

Light the candles starting with the one furthest away from you and continue clockwise. If you still have music going at this point, I might recommend using something instrumental. Perhaps some good old Two Steps from Hell (see video below). While the candles burn, focus on the object in the middle. It is going to be a very potent reminder for you in times when you need to tap into your own courage and power. Chant something to invite energy into the object. I've been waiting to post this blog for about four days because I was waiting for some chant to come to me that would showcase my intention. What I'm learning so far in this challenge is that spells might come to you when you want them to, but more often they come to you when you need them to.

To finish this spell, I would chant or say words of power to imbue the item and then let the candles surrounding it burn all the way down. When all five candles are gone, you can remove the item and use it as necessary to help you when you feel powerless or when you forget how amazing you are. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Witchcraft by the Book - Some Thoughts

So I've been studying some good old fashioned Witchcraft via "The Inner Temple of Witchcraft" by Christopher Penczak. I am one chapter in and I have a few things to say: 1) I'm not sure I agree with him that you have to study and have understanding of the basics of why and how before you can actually write, perform, and truly feel rituals and spells; 2) I love the idea that the term "witch" does not trap you or pigeonhole you, but instead opens you up to an infinite number of possibilities of spiritual and vocational roles; 3) at the end of chapter 1 he invites us to define witch for ourselves and I would like to share that now. 

Witch, for me, is anyone who actively works with nature and the archetypes of the divine to sow healing and wisdom into the world. I fully expect my definition to change over time. In fact, it may change by the end of the second chapter. But for now that is how I define the term of witch and I think it does its part in waylaying of our society's skewed perception of the word. The thing is, a great many people are witches who would never call themselves 'witch' and that is perfectly fine. But it should also be perfectly fine for anyone who is a witch to be able to call themselves that. As it stands now, we will never have a witch for President (not that most witches would want to be, but you never know), and we'll never have a witch at the Head of the Department of Education. Or at least we'll never have an outed witch in these roles, but considering what a witch is... wouldn't it be lovely to have one running the county? I certainly think so. But I digress. 

As for the first thing I mentioned from the reading: I do not believe you have to have a core understanding of the logistics, terms, and meanings in order to be successful in writing spells and rituals. And I certainly don't believe you have to 'know' about witchcraft in order to benefit greatly from attending a ritual. Yes, the more we know the better. But the first few times I attended ritual with the IEPG I didn't know anything about any of it. I knew the term Wicca and I knew that Wiccans didn't believe in the Judea-Christian Satan figure. That would be the extent of what I thought I knew. And even that was wrong... because it's not a matter of 'believing in' or 'not believing in.' Eclectic witches, who may or may not be Wiccan, may or may not utilize the archetype of Devil (for example: the Devil card in tarot) in their practices. Or in the case of myself, I enjoy the Judeo-Christian myths and archetypes as part of the global mythos of the world I inhabit. So, essentially, (Socrates moment here) I really didn't know anything. And I still don't. Knowing is different from knowledge and knowledge is different from wisdom all of that is very different from feeling. I had a very profound experience the first few rituals I attended and the intensity of discovery continued during New Moon discussions and other discussions/classes through the IEPG. I learned that I wanted to learn more but even without delving too deep into the etymology of words, the 'how' behind spell crafting, and the 'traditions' of ritual working, I was already up and running. I feel that a great deal of my personal growth has come from learning on my own. Yes I ask questions and yes I go to my trusted witchy friends for extra guidance and help but I never let me lack of knowledge of the basics hold me back. I do not know if my experience is a unique one or if many people come at their path with blind faith and a running start. But I know that for me I didn't need to know a lot about ritual to know that I wanted... needed... to lead some. 

I will add a caveat here. Perhaps I did have all the traditional learning and 'basics' knowledge necessary through my Catholic upbringing. Catholicism is just a hop away from mysticism and just a god/dess short of paganism. I learned about ritual and 'spell' working through Catholic mass. I learned about conjuring/incantations during the transubstantiation of the bread into flesh and the wine into blood. I came to learn of Holy days and also developed an understanding of cross pollination of religion as my Catholic congregation took great pains to pay homage to the Jewish Passover ritual every year around Easter time. So perhaps I was lucky in that I did have a knowledge of the basics necessary to have a profound experience during my first Pagan rituals. But regardless, I believe that a feeling (or a calling) toward rituals and spells comes from the collective subsconscious of humanity. While we may not know the terms for what we are doing and we may not know the reasons we do them in this way, many of us are performing witchcraft just fine. 

That is one of the reasons I wanted to do the spell challenge for this month. The best way for me to learn and grow is through coupling book learning with hands on trial and error. Some of these spells are going to suck, let's just face that. But I think that as I continue to work through my fifteen, I will learn invaluable lessons that I can apply to not only spell writing but to other aspects of witchcraft and daily life.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Spell 2: Tarot Attunement

Spells can take many shapes and serve a myriad of purposes. They are small (or large) sessions of spiritual therapy and growth. Since a rather large interest for me, spiritually and psychologically, is tarot, I've decided that today I want to work on a spell that features my relationship with tarot. As I've mentioned before, I believe that inanimate and 'non-living' things respond to and manipulate energy. For example: places and objects can be 'haunted.' And water, flash frozen, reveals emotional ice crystals based on the energies presented to it. So it only makes sense that to really get the most out of your tarot/oracle deck or other various divination tools, you should work on your relationship with them. You should attune.

I use tarot quite a bit and like to spend time with the decks I use the most. I often carry a deck with me to work or shuffle though cards before bed. Now, it is generally understood that to get a good reading from tarot you want to cleanse it of energies before use. I don't worry so much about cleansing. I shuffle and hold them to my chest and I feel that helps prepare myself and the cards for the reading about to commence. But overall, whether bursting with energy or stagnant and sitting, the cards do have a sort of life and personality of their own. Some of you know exactly what I'm talking about.

For this spell you will need one tarot deck (pick one you're pretty excited out). The aim here is to attune to the deck to help you have an easier time understanding what the deck is trying to tell you in readings. You might also say that attuning with this instrument will help you understand what the divine has in mind for you as well. So here goes:

Take your tarot deck and place it beneath your pillow before bed. Say these words:
"I am open to receive. I am open to understanding. I will never abuse the information you share with me. I respect your sacred mission to aid me on my path and in turn you have my trust."
The next morning, bring the tarot with you wherever you go that day. Keep the deck in your purse, pocket, or even held in your hands. That evening, as the sun sets, or as the night draws on, honor the tarot in this way: Gather a cup, an athame (or sword if you prefer), a small coin (a penny will do), and a small branch/twig to be the wand.

Lay out the deck before you, touch each and every card. With the deck laid out, lift the cup and say:
"I'm ready to journey with you beneath the moon's reflection on the water of my soul."
Return the cup. Lift the wand and say:
"I'm ready to journey with you and embrace the fiery passions that flourish within my heart."
Return the wand. Lift the coin and say:
"I'm ready to journey with you to and explore the sensuous secrets of the body."
Return the coin. Lift the athame and say:
"I'm ready to journey with you above the mire of confusion, to clarity of mind."
Return the athame and laid your hands on the cards. Say once more:
"I am open to receive. I am open to understanding. I will never abuse the information you share with me. I respect your sacred mission to aid me on my path and in turn you have my trust."
You are done with the spell/attunement at this point. I don't know for sure if this qualifies as a spell, per se, but I am eager to try it and get to know a few tarot decks better. I don't know if I would try this with more than one deck at a time since the purpose is to really open yourself up to a deck and get it to trust you in return. Perhaps this is a one deck at a time thing. Like a date. Or friendly one on one time. For me, a deck is a friend. It may be that the very deck itself is your friend or it is a phone, instant messenger, or post-it note board that helps you communicate with your friend (i.e. the divine). But just like a friend I like to play with the cards. When I say play, I do not mean that I take divination to be a joke. Play is the word I use when I want a relationship and I think after performing this attument spell, I'll be able to play even better with my dear decks. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Spell 1: Protection

What is a spell. This is going to be my own opinion and I know that other people may view spells differently but here goes: a spell is a set of words (sometimes rhyming, sometimes unspoken), often accompanied by a set of tasks (spreading salt, stirring a potion, etc.) that channel intention and energy toward a specific or generic goal. In essence I would say that these spells are mini rituals and as such can involve tools, ingredients, and any number of physical symbols to aid in raising energy for the success of the spell. 

Since I've been thinking about this spell project for the past several weeks I've, naturally, been looking up various spells and formats and talking to friends about their own experiences with spells. Some websites that I've perused: spellsofmagic.comgothwitch.co.ukspellsandmagic.com, and free-witchcraft-spells.com. The truth is there are hundreds of ways to create and cast a spell. I'm only going to create and cast fifteen spells during this month and I will barely touch on the expanse of creative potential that comes along with spell work. But to get us started I'm going to write out and cast a protection spell. (The writing part is today and the casting part is tomorrow). 

Just a note: if anyone wants to try these spells please do! And if you wish to change them up a bit to better incorporate your particular needs or path, that is perfectly all right. If anyone does try one of my spells throughout this month (and if you are willing to share your experience) I would love to hear about it in the comments section or private message. That being said here we go!

Fresh sage (or powdered and consecrated sage from the kitchen)
Magic Salt (or consecrated salt)
A bowl of Shrine water (or consecrated water, or moon charged water)
Smudge stick
A white candle (or whatever color best represents protection for you)

The plan: find a quiet space with little distraction. Create a small circle with the leaves of the sage. Place a cup of shrine water as well as a white candle within the circle. Light the candle and take a moment to ground. When you're ready, sprinkle salt into the water while saying these words:

"Great Lord and Lady, Faeries and Sprites, 
Creatures of Magick, and all of our Wights,
All spirits within, all spirits without,
Help keep us safe, beyond shadow of doubt."

Hold the smudge stick in your hands. Close your eyes and envision a white glow all around you that extends to the boundaries of your home (to the car in the parking lot, to the pumpkin patch out back and maybe even along the walk ways around your apartment). Speak these words:

"Shield of love, O perfect light,
Keep me safe both day and night,
Protect us from harm, protect us from wrong,
Protect kith and kin and all who belong."

Light the smudge stick from the candle. Walk the house and smudge all corners of every room. Continue to chant "Shield of love" if you wish or just envision the light spreading and flooding your home. When you are finished return to the circle of sage. Extinguish the smudge stick (if you wish you can dip it into the cup of shrine water or you can extinguish it with a shell). Take the cup of shrine water and go to the front door and wet the threshold with about half of the cup's contents. Speak out loud that you welcome those who mean you no harm and that you cast out and reject all things of ill-will. Go to the back door and repeat this. Return to the sage circle once again repeat what you said at the beginning: "Great Lord and Lady..." Thank the gods and the good spirits around you for helping your spell. Extinguish the white candle. You are done. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Obligatory Birthday Blog

So I leveled up. At work they kept saying "oh, now you're finally 21!" They said it so much that when I got home on Wednesday last week I was actually a little confused and had to think "how old am I really?" Well I'm 33. The age Jesus was when he died. The composite of 3 eleven year olds. Not a bad age really. And besides. I don't really care much about age. What I care about is the party that sometimes accompanies the 'aging' process. I had very nice birthday. On the day of, my work decorated my cubicle and chair with confetti, streamers, balloons, and signs that said: Happy Birthday Amanda!! And my two bosses spoiled me with gifts. They gave me a Grumpy Cat coloring book, a package of colored pencils, a giant writing prompts book, and a quill ball-point-pen. It made me feel so very special. And at Dungeons and Dragons one of the players gave me a package of M&Ms wrapped up tight with packing paper. On the paper it said, "Happy Birthday Lars  Amanda" which was adorable. I really enjoy my D&D time with the boys. Even though most of our characters just about died during the previous encounter (fucking spiders and fucking Drow) it was really great way to spend lunch time on my birthday. 

My Friday party was nice. I felt bad that we didn't do it in the club house - not that we really could have since our Apartment management team sort of said "We're out and about so come and find us for the key," on the day of our reservation. It was a very full house and a bit cramped. And one guest in particular was sort of antagonizing, but it turned out very nice and I'm excited to do some more painting in the near future. 

My twins from Moscow came up for the party. They stayed with us through the weekend and played Coven with us on Saturday. I really enjoy that game. It's very bizarre and you really don't know who's going to win until the game is over you do the maths required to suss out the winning Witch. The more we play the easier it will be to teach other's to play. I can't deny that I'm slightly curious about the game expansion called Coven the Village. From what I've read about it, this expansion gives you plot to the otherwise stream of consciousness type game play. 

On a personal note: I really truly cannot believe that summer is over. I didn't really do anything for Mabon and I feel like crap about it. I've never celebrated Mabon! And it makes no sense to me. It's my birthday Sabbat for goddess sake! But then again, I think that perhaps I've always celebrated it, just not in the traditional ways. I've always had treats and gifts and songs and fun. I've always spent Mabon with friends. All of my Mabon'ing' has been experienced through my birthday celebrations. That makes me feel a little better but next year, I think I'll skip a traditional birthday and seek a true second harvest celebration and spend an entire day in the balance of light and dark. Hannah got me David Bowie's last album and a book about Elen of the Ways. Perfect birthday gifts. Maybe next year I'll let Elen be my birthday goddess and guide and we'll take the celebration out into the woods and fields. Maybe we'll follow the deer trods as I level up to 34. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The 'Now' and a New Challenge for October

Right now Hannah and Tsuki are watching a J-drama in the living room. It's called Good Morning Call and while I'm not really following the show much it's really interesting listening to Hannah and Tsuki bitching out the main characters, chiding them, and squealing over them. Fan-girls are so cute. 

Right now Narcisa is asleep in the Bowie room. She and I have been working on laundry for the past couple of hours but right now she's curled up on a chair snoozing to the sounds of Swedish Folk Fiddling via my phonograph. 

Right now I'm waiting for one load to finish drying and another to finish washing. Right now I'm so freaking tired.

Yesterday Hannah and I celebrated my dad's birthday. I made him a passport with five different locations on it and I tasked my father with putting 'something' from each place into his passport as a keepsake. First was Scandinavia. We went to Little Euro and had crepes and Aebelskivers and egg Florentine. It was all very delicious. Next we went to Japan (a.k.a the Nishinomiya Japanese Garden in Manito Park). It was a slight disappointment because the lawn maintenance guys were mowing and weed eating so it wasn't exactly as tranquil and meditative at the Japanese gardens are supposed to be, but overall it was a great experience. And the koi fish were adorable. After that we went to India. This one was a bit of a stretch; I had them ride the tiger (or sit next to the tiger) on the Looff Carousel downtown. Mom and dad had a good time I think. Hannah rode the tiger side-saddle and I rode the horse in front of her. Next we fed the trash goat. We have a statue outside the Carousel house, it's a metal statue of a goat with a button next to it. When pushed, the button triggers a very strong suction at the goat's mouth and the idea is that you hold up trash and the goat sucks it up and eats it. Dad and I fed the goat pieces of Inlander and other trash and then we helped a young boy and his dad feed the goat. 

These activities didn't take as long as I'd planned. The next stop was supposed to be Germany but we weren't hungry enough for dinner yet so we stopped at a Starbucks for some coffee and chill time and then went to JoAnn's to see all the things. I love their skeleton collection (cats, dogs, rats, vultures, etc.). I can't wait until Hannah and I have a real house and can deck it from top to bottom with everything Halloween. After JoAnn's we went to Das Stein Haus. It was a little different than the first time I was there but it was still good. Everyone enjoyed their food but I did learn to go during the week Mon-Thurs for the best deals. I'm keeping that in mind for the future. After Germany we were supposed to go and see a movie but mom and dad were pretty tuckered out so they headed home and Hannah and I went grocery shopping. We went a little crazy but dang we are set. Our fridge is totally stocked and we have all the fixings for some fun meals this month. 

Back to now: Hannah made fresh bread from scratch. As soon as the butter softens, we will be consuming a slice of the freshness. 

And now, looking ahead I'm thinking about working on a spell challenge for October. A friend linked me a 'spell a day' writing challenge a long time ago and I was looking through it and decided that it sounded promising for October, however I'm not going to try to write 31 spells in one month. What I'm going to do instead is make a list of fifteen spell prompts for the month of October and pull every other day. It will go like this: Day 1 - pull a prompt and write a spell. Day 2 - find/create a sacred space and perform the spell (with others or solitary, your choice). Day 3 - pull a promt and write a spell. Day 4 - perform that spell. And so on and so forth. However that leaves one odd day at the end of the month: October 31. For that day I'm going to reflect on how the spells that I've woven and worked during the month have seemed to influence my state of being or the course of events. So, for now this is the project plan. I think it would be a great way to tap into creativity and spirituality just in time for Witche's New Year. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Weekend To-Do, Sick, Preparing for Halloween

August was so incredibly busy. The second September began I tried to apply the breaks but things just seemed to speed up even more. I put together a party for Hannah's graduation and it was a screaming success. Damn I am a such a stress case though. I was on the verge of panic for the first two hours or so of prep and getting the party started. Thank you to my humans who helped so that I could relax a little. Overall it was so nice though. A nice start to the mass of parties we are going to be having as we slip into a Autumn full of celebration. We'll be attending as well as throwing Halloween parties, pulling together for full and new moons, and even tossing in a few birthdays.

First thing's first though: I need to get some things in order. For this weekend I have a very small but very 'must do' list. This has become slightly more complicated however since I'm also sick. I didn't go to work today or yesterday. I was so out of it this morning I couldn't even call work to let them know. My supervisor called me. I will have to apologize extensively on Sunday but this year has been horrible for my immune system. I thought I would be doing better since being exposed to new germs via bus riding but that doesn't seem to be the case. Seasonal changes have always been hard for me, but my lungs and sinuses aren't even following the seasonal schedule lately. They just sort of say 'fuck it' whenever they please and suddenly I'm wiped out.

So, that being said. I'm going to try and accomplish a few things amidst getting lots of rest and drinking lots of fluids. Firstly, I want to make a few smudge sticks for Halloween. That should be fun and totally easy since I can do it sitting at the kitchen table. Secondly, I need to read over, edit, solidify and resend out my short story to various places. Thirdly, I need to decide exactly what I'm going to submit for the Inkshares contest and make a plan to have that done and submitted by next weekend. Fourthly, I need to get the laundry under control. (The last one would be easier if my lungs weren't burning but we can't always have it the way we want it, can we?)

As we move into fall and Witch's New Years, Hannah and I look forward to hosting a Halloween party. We're working on the theme today. We are so geared up and ready for Halloween - our house is already decked out with spooky wall decor and cute/creepy figures on the mantel. I've got four pumpkins growing. Two will be for cooking and the other two will be mainly for show. I had hoped to have more but I'm happy that I seem to be growing anything. It's my first time doing any serious gardening and I've been quite happy with my yield. Even if it's meager.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

A sequential list of Tarot and Divination decks used during August

Day 1: Angelarium Deck -- Da'at (Emptiness) -- My deck, self purchase

Day 2: Black Cat Tarot -- Seven of Coins/Pentacles & Eight of Coins/Pentacles -- Hannah's deck, gift from me

Day 3: Gothic Tarot -- Two of Wands -- Hannah's deck, gift from the Twins

Day 4: Oceanic Tarot -- Three of Pentacles /Coins -- Fiona's deck

Day 5: The Manga Tarot -- Seven of Pentacles/Coins -- Twin A's deck

Day 6: Legend: Arthurian Tarot -- Six of Spears/Wands -- Twin B's deck

Day 7: Lover's Path Tarot -- Three of Pentacles/Coins & The Fool -- My deck, self purchase

Day 8: Gay Tarot -- The Fool -- My deck, self chosen (free)

Day 9: Oracle of Shadows and Light -- Mermaid of the Eclipse -- Hannah's and my deck, gift from Fiona

Day 10: Tarot of the Witches -- Nine of Swords -- Hannah's deck, gift from friend

Day 11: Royo Dark Tarot --- Knave of Chalices/Cups --- My deck, gift from Twins

Day 12: The Faeries Oracle --- Geeeeeooo the Slooow --- Chris's deck, I found it for her; her purchase

Day 13: The Tarot of the Vampyres --- Two of Scepters/Wands --- My and Hannah's deck, self bought

Day 14: Fantastical Creatures Tarot --- Six of Pentacles/Coins --- My and Hannah's deck, self bought

Day 15: Ancestral Path Tarot --- Three of Sacred Circles/Coins --- Friend Chris's deck

Day 16: Forest Folklore Tarot --- Eight of Wands --- My deck, self purchased

Day 17: The Magical Menagerie --- Crane --- My deck, self purchased 

Day 18: The Well Worn Path --- The Rede --- Belongs to Hannah and I but I have no idea when or how we acquired it

Day 19: Mystical Cats Tarot --- Fire King (King of Wands) --- Hannah's and my deck, gift from friend's daughter

Day 20: The Stone Tarot --- Eight of Wands --- Hannah's deck, a gift to her from me
Day 21: Wisdom of the Hidden Realms --- Sun Dancers (abundance) --- Hannah's and my deck, gift from Fiona

Day 22: Dark Fairytale Tarot --- Knave/Page of Cups --- Chris's Deck, self bought

Day 23: Shadowscapes Tarot --- Queen of Pentacles --- Hannah's and my deck, self purchased

Day 24: Deviant Moon Tarot --- Two of Pentacles --- Fiona's deck, self bought

Day 25: The Witches Tarot --- The Empress --- Hannah's deck, gift from me
Day 26: The Mucha Tarot --- Queen of Wands --- Twins' deck, gift from Hannah and me
Day 27 --- Phantasmogoric Theater Tarot --- The Hermit --- Fiona's deck, self bought

Day 28: Cachet Tarot --- Page of Swords --- A friend's deck, not sure how she came by it
Day 29: The Bohemian Animal Tarot --- The Suspended/Hanged Man --- Fiona's deck, self purchased

Day 30: Tarot of a Moon Garden --- Six of Swords --- Fiona's deck, self purchased

Day 31: The Halloween Oracle --- Skull of Flowers --- My deck, gift from Hannah
In looking at my Tarot draws I had quite a few doubles and even one triple for the month of August. Below is a chard divided by Major/minor Arcana and suits.

The Fool (twice)
The Empress
The Hermit 
The Hanged Man

Page of Cups (twice)

Six of Swords 
Nine of Swords
Page of Swords

Two of Wands (twice)
Six of Wands 
Eight of Wands (twice)
Queen of Wands
King of Wands

Two of Pentacles
Three of Pentacles (thrice)
Six of Pentacles
Seven of Pentacles (twice)
Eight of Pentacles
Queen of Pentacles

For this past month I was very pentacle heavy. While I am an Earth sign I rarely get pentacles in readings. To have so many show up this month was really interesting. Also it was strange that I only drew one Cup card and drew it twice. I find it all very fascinating to see what I've drawn and how all the draws work together to form a sort of over arching message. Definitely something to think about as I prepare to face the world of September and Autumn and my Birthday.