A pause for some background

A friend on Dreamwidth posted an interesting Pagan meme that I thought was particularly timely: I’m coming up on the 10 year anniversary of seeking out the group I trained with and worked with until early 2008, when I hived off. Seems like a good time for a “What I’m doing now” moment, plus a nice introduction to link to in various blog places.

(Below, I’m speaking for myself, rather than the trad as a whole, which seems worth making clear right about now.)

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Vacation, part 1

I’m currently in Boston, wrapping up part 1 of my vacation to see family and friends out here. (I grew up in a Boston suburb, went to college in a different one, and most of my college friends are still in the area, as is my mother.) Later this morning, we’ll be taking off to see my brother, sister-in-law, and my 5 and 7 year old nieces in New Haven for a few days.

In August, I’ll have lived in Minnesota for 10 years. And yet, while I love Minnesota (deeply: I fell in love with the state on a visit about a year before I moved and have never regretted that choice), coming back to the ocean, to the glacial valleys, to the landscape of my childhood  is never a bad thing.

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a retreat: taking time

I’m currently in the midst of a two and a half day retreat focusing on a longtime interest of mine that I’ve been feeling blocked about for, well, years.

Anyway, I thought I’d do some comments on how, why, and when I do retreat work (and hopefully, by the time I’m done, my subconscious will have sorted out the next step in what I’m working on.)

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Happy Solstice!

The shiny new coven, Phoenix Song, celebrated our first Summer Solstice today.

It’s become the practice, in our tradition, to use the solstice as a time to revision the group for the coming year. (Yes, the timing’s a little odd, but it’s something that grew organically from stuff we were actually doing, and it turns out to work nicely.) What do we want to do together? What do we want things to be like? How do we want to honor where we’ve come from, while continuing to move forward?

In the group I hived from, the tradition has been to create something that is present in the temple all year as a reminder. In our case, that’s a little impractical (we’re doing ritual in two different spaces, and neither of us has space to spare.

We decided, instead, to do a deliberately impermanent piece of art. (Before I go any further, I want to be clear: L and I discussed whether we were okay with my posting photos, and she’s fine with it. While our interpretations and thoughts about some of this are private, the basic photos aren’t.)

L has a very lovely garden, in which she spends tremendous amounts of time. Her garden also has a flat paved part: this is what we used as our canvas. We used entirely natural ingredients: no artificial colorings like food coloring. We also paid attention to what will not cause havoc to L’s garden as things blow away, get rained on, etc.

Our materials included:

  • bentonite clay (white)
  • green french clay (the pale green)
  • red french clay (the dusty red/brown)
  • tumeric (the far more orange red/brown)
  • dried safflower (the red/orange dried petals)
  • dried lavender (the gray/purple ones)
  • dried hibiscus (the dark red)
  • rose petals (undried, from our friend’s garden last night: these are from a rose called Dart’s Dash)
  • powdered eggshell – we tried something to get it to mesh to blue/purple, which did not work, but they produce a lovely dusty white that shades differently from the white clay.)
  • marigold, dianthus, and a few other flowers from L’s garden.
  • spoons and paper funnels to direct materials (and fingers!)

For next year, we’d really like something in the blue/purple range: this may prove to be tricky. We used far less of our materials than we’d anticipated: maybe 2 ounces each (and probably less) of the clays, and about an ounce or two of everything else. The finished space is about 8×6 feet, give or take.

Timing: I arrived at 1, we finished at 4. We didn’t do other formal ritual set-up, etc. but there was some setting up and getting things ready, and so on. It took less time than I was anticipating, but it was intense work.

If you’d like larger versions of the images (plus a couple I didn’t include here, you can go to my LiveJournal gallery.

Our workspace: note cat perfectly positioned for maximum difficulty. (This is L’s cat, a Bengal by breed. She was actually *very* good once we got started.)

Our workspace

Our first spiral: Everything starts at the center. Bentonite clay, red and green French clays, marigold.

first spiral

Our first pause

Our first pause

(There was a second pause, too: check out the gallery for that one.)

We’re done:

Final outcome

 

My favorite detail shot (another in the gallery)

Favorite spiral

Two recent crafty projects

I had a need for two figurines for specific shrines/ongoing workings I had in mind, and was pretty sure I wasn’t going to find what I wanted elsewhere – so I made some! It’s the first time I’d done much work with clay since middle school (and definitely the first time since then I was doing figures), and it was both very fun, and a fascinating magical process.

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