Preparing to make magic

(And making magic while preparing to make some more..)

Each year, I spend winter solstice night doing an Up All Night vigil with an online community I’ve been part of since about 1999.

I don’t always manage to stay up all night (I think I’ve done it twice in ten years or so), but I do like to set up with some things to do, a mix of magical practices and some practical ones. (It’s often a time I sort computer files and reorganise thing for my current focus and projects.)

A vigil shrine

This year, I wanted to make an shrine in the bedroom, where I’ll be most of the evening. (Most of my working shrines are in the living room.)

Here’s a photo of what I’ve got set up for tomorrow (the thing to the right is the bedroom shrine for prosperity and abundance and beauty.)

Shrine decorated for yuletide, with a potted small pine tree, two candles in amber glass jars, two skeins of yarn (yellow-browns and green), some wool waiting to be spun, and a pile of amber beads on a dark red altar cloth with a golden yellow runner. Further details in the text.
Yuletide Shrine, 2019

That brings me to the magic of today! I was planning on going to a public Yule ritual put on by a local group, the Cornucopia Collective. I don’t make it to their rituals very often (since I’ve also got my own group work and sometimes other thing that are not rituals) but it’s a good time whenever I do.

Fibre arts

I’ve known for a few weeks that I wanted to spend some time spinning over the winter holidays, for a variety of reasons (not least because I would prefer to have some handspun yarn to use in our group ritual for Imbolc, in February…)

I learned how to use a drop spindle in Minnesota, and while I haven’t been spinning much in the past decade, I still like to keep my hand in. Both hands. It’s also a wonderful craft to know for magical use.

I’ve known Annie, the lovely owner of Mind’s Eye Yarns in Porter Square (Cambridge, MA) for years, and so I emailed, asked what she had for roving (the stuff you spin), and arranged to go by while she was still around in the shop.

In the end, I got some of the Frabjous Fibers Blue-Faced Leicester (which is lovely to spin) in a colourway called “Persephone” which is a mix of blues, dark red-purple, and paler purple and green. I’m excited to see how it spins up!

I had a lovely time chatting to her and the other staff person who was there, and of course I bought more yarn, because I also wanted a knitting project that didn’t take a lot of thought (I plan to do the Boneyard Shawl, by Steven West.

I got two gorgeous skeins of yarn (Auracana in Wallflower (which is shades of brown and orangey-red and gold – not my usual colours at all, but gorgeous!) and Shamrock (deep green), and I have plans for some interesting stripe work.

You can see all of these in the photo. (Also some knitting needles, and the little tin at the back has my collection of stitch markers so I can decide which ones this project is getting.) And for a bit of greenery, a tiny pine tree, and a bit of holly (complete with berries) from the bush on the walking path near my apartment.

Evening plans

I then made my way to Harvard Square for a bit of food, and curled up at a cafe table, reading Brianna Saussy’s book Making Magic: Weaving Together the Everyday and the Extraordinary until it was time to head to the ritual. More on that in a second.

Part of the ritual included a gift exchange (each person brought one, and you were given one according to what La Befana felt you needed.) What I received were a gorgeous necklace of amber chips, and a piece set up as a bracelet, with three loops. Amber is one of my favourite materials (you can see them in the pile at the front of the shrine.)

The rest of the ritual was also great – some good conversations, some things that made me think, and generally a lovely set up for the rest of my ritual time this weekend.

Also in the photo, you can see the candle I’ve been using for weekly offerings (almost burned out), and the one for at least the beginning of the year. (Both are from Mithras Candle, who make lovely beeswax candles. The handmade pillars are amazing, but I like the jar ones for regular use, since I don’t have to worry about wax spills the same way.)

Everyday enchantment

So, why this post? It’s inspired by a request from Bri Saussy, because a lot of what her book is about is finding the magic in daily life – and in the amazing moments of potency and enchantment that we all can choose to turn towards. Definitely something I want more of in my life.

I’ll have more to say about the book in the coming weeks (figuring out how to do more useful book reviews is on my list for the coming year!) But in the meantime, I highly recommend it. Learn more about the book here.

(And check out the hashtags #makingmagicbook and #BrianaSaussy for more inspiration for your own magic on your social media of choice.)

I’ll do a post once I’ve got a bit of the spinning and knitting done, so you can see what that fibre looks like when it’s being made into something.

Until then, blessed Yule, and may whatever holidays you celebrate in the next few weeks be wonderful.

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  1. Pingback: Witch in Practice: Week 14 – Seeking

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