Witch in practice: Libra season

Welcome to the new monthly version (for values of ‘month’) of the Witch in Practice series. I’ll be putting these up around time the sun moves into a new sign of the Zodiac.

(Gives me a little more flexibility, and lines up well with my personal year, so let’s see how this goes.)

New articles!

I managed to get a batch of articles from my draft writing folder onto the site. Enjoy! (Some of these are less applicable in the current pandemic than others, alas.)

Last month

Coven

My last month has felt like lots of coven stuff (not unreasonably, looking at my calendar) but some of that was in service of sorting out a manageable schedule going forward.

On that front, I’ve had:

  • Seeker class #3 with a Seeker.
  • A very long day that involved a flu shot, initiate discussion, rune discussion, and another Seeker class (classes 4 and 5 of 5)
  • A few follow up discussions and a bunch of emails.
  • Dedication for two new Dedicants (students in the coven) on the 17th.
  • Planning for how we’re doing Samhain this year (also on the 17th)
  • Notes and additional material for Dedicants (especially because we’re doing this all remotely.)
  • Additional conversations with a couple of people about life, the universe, forward progress in their witchy learning, and … yeah, that’s about it.

There was also a massive 5 hour binge one Saturday where I sat down and figured out scheduling that should work for coven things through May. It feels really good to have that done (and very good that one – and sometimes two – weekends a month, I have the entire weekend free to do other things with.)

Personal witchiness

I did a satisfactory amount of personal witchy work for my birthday, and I think I’ve found a combination I like that’s reasonably sustainable for the year.

I’ve been slowly continuing to work on putting things in my book of shadows that I want in there, but slower on reading and learning new stuff than I’d like. (Not least because the complexity of library questions at work has picked up a bit, and there’s only so much brain in a day.)

This month

I’m going to drive (2.5 hours each way) to see my mother tomorrow – she had some complicated health stuff in September.

She’s home and doing well, but if I’m going to go chat to her in person (carefully distanced and masked on her patio…) now is the time to do it We’re in New England, so we’re about to hit “too cold to sit around outside for any length of time” season.

(It looks like it should be a gorgeous day tomorrow, at least – 70 and sunny, then it’s dropping into the 50s next week.)

This is the first extended conversation I’ve had in person with anyone in 7 months, and I feel very much out of practice. However, it’s likely good for me, and certainly going to be good to see her.

Coven

Samhain is, of course, the next big thing on the calendar. It’s the one ritual our tradition does more or less the same way each year (modified for number of people and number of people who can do some specific pieces of it.)

This year is taking a lot more creativity than usual, to keep enough of that through-line while still being manageable over video chat with everyone at home.

November 14th, we start our new Dedicant class cycle, so I’m also working on reviewing my notes for the first class, updating some links, and otherwise nudging things.

Personal

I’m taking some vacation time the week of November 2nd for a combination of reasons, and looking forward to the chance to catch up on some reading, work on some larger personal projects, and do some more things in my book of shadows and some other projects.

This is also the time of year when I start setting up all the things for next year – my one spreadsheet to rule them all for tracking (mostly done except for some astrological info), my planner book, and my working notebook for the year (more or less bullet journal style, but I don’t actually use it for daily planning, just for longer-term notes and plans.)

Witch in Practice: Week 53

Going forward

As I mentioned two weeks ago, I was thinking about whether and how to continue this project. It feels great to have a year of recording what my witchy life looks like (partly so I can point out to people how much it varies….)

But I’m also feeling a big need to simplify the number of things on my regular to-do list, so for the coming year, I’m going to shift to an update every month (probably the day after the new moon proper), and we’ll see how that goes.

Bonus, this will make it easier to actually give a bit more in the way of numbers, because this is now more aligned with how I track the time I spend on things (both to make sure things don’t get imbalanced, and because some of that tracking helps me manage chronic health issues.)

Last week

Tuesday: I got to talk to my mother for the first time since her health issues (which also affected her voice for a bit, which made calls hard), and my brother has been able to visit since, and send photos, which is great.

Wednesday, I did my usual new moon ritual work (tarot reading, some setting of intentions, etc.)

Saturday, we had our (still distanced) Mabon ritual, which involved a little divination (for what to focus on in the dark half of the year), a brief meditation, and talking about seasonal food we’d made. Not the same as being in person, but it went well, and I think everyone took something useful away from it.

Sunday, I did an online workshop focusing on crafting petitions – something I know about, but I enjoy the person teaching it, and I’m feeling a big ‘go back and look at the basics’ push right now, to see what is working best for me.

The coming month

Tomorrow (the 22nd) is my birthday, so I’m planning some ritual work. In particular, I’m looking forward to starting the Black Book work in Aidan Wachter’s new book, Weaving the Fates.

(My birthday seems like a good time to start it: I recommend taking some time to read and digest the book before doing anything in it, as he also recommends.)

By the next new moon, we should have sorted out Dedication for the two current Seekers, and be preparing for Samhain. That means two more rounds of Seeker classes to teach for me, plus the ongoing coven rune discussion, initiate discussion, and the miscellaneous things that come up.

In my personal witchy practice, I’m continuing my daily practice (playing with a few modifications), setting aside time two or three times a week for witchy learning, work in my grimoire, etc.

I’m also thinking a lot about how to better entangle some of my thoughts about how I spend my time, energy, and focus and my witchiness, and I expect there will be some posts about that coming up.

Witch in Practice: Week 52

Last week

Various further fussing about my mother (doing well and improving), one of my coven students had her baby (yay, they are doing well).

Tuesday: Discussion with a Seeker about some things in the Dedicant questionaire.

Thursday: Seeker class 1 and 2 with new Seeker, which went really well. (Though I forgot to warn the friend who usually sees me online around a predictable time in the evening that I’d be on later than usual. Ooops.)

Saturday: First of our rune discussions, which went well, and which I think is a good mode for the coming months, when we can’t meet in person, and when individual people may have stuff come up.

(We’re using Diana Paxson’s Taking Up the Runes as a starting point, with people doing the ritual bits that speak to them (or seem interesting) on their own as they wish.)

This week

Thursday: New moon ritual work (my own personal stuff.)

Friday: Cooking for Mabon ritual (we are doing “something seasonal”). I am making chicken in mead sauce.

Saturday: Mabon ritual, which will have both our current Seekers there, so that is a bit more juggling of things and remembering to explain than usual.

Sunday: Online witchy class (a treat to myself for my upcoming birthday.)

Witch in Practice: Week 51

Last week

Last week got a lot more complicated than usual because of a call from my sister on Thursday letting me know that my mother had had a major health issue, and was in the hospital.

(Mom is improving, but I’m still waiting to hear more about what the long-term plans are like. Having a long weekend in the middle didn’t help here.)

Thursday: A conversation with one of the people who just finished her Dedicant year about what the next steps might look like.

(The other initiate in the group joined me for this, and was tremendously helpful. Building a group is hard, but having someone to share this with and talk things through with now is amazing and wonderful and delights me.)

Friday: An initial conversation with a Seeker, and figuring out scheduling for doing Seeker classes in a prompt manner so that we could do a Dedication before Samhain (since as a tradition, we try not to do those between Samhain and Imbolc.)

Sunday: I took a day for a proper religious retreat which I haven’t done in ages, mostly with the goal of clearing my head before diving into the new school year. (I work for a school, though not directly with students, but it of course affects the entire rhythm of the year.)

I went for a walk (gorgeous weather, with bonus swans and public artwork), did my weekly offerings, then settled in to catch up on a lot of magical study reading I haven’t had time for.

There was also sewing (I’m now working on an elemental set of housewives – that’s a particular kind of 18th and 19th century tool for holding a sewing kit or other small objects. Here’s the one I made from a kit to see what I thought about the project, which is now my actual sewing kit.)

This week

Monday was a day off, and I caught up on writing things, did some cooking, and some more sewing. Also reading to prepare for coven discussion on Saturday.

Tuesday, I had a longish talk with a prospective Dedicant, and we sorted out next steps there.

Saturday, I have initiate discussion, and then the first of our ongoing Rune discussions (designed to be a thing we can talk about that is flexible rather than going on to what we’d normally work with post-initiation, since initiation isn’t a doable thing just yet.) I’m excited to see how it goes.

Overall I am also sorting out some things about how I want to structure my time, and what’s working and not working for me. (The writing productivity course I did in July continues to be very useful there.)

Part of this is trying to figure out what I continue with next year. I’m thinking I may not do these posts weekly next year, but may see about doing a monthly summary. If you have strong opinions about wanting one or the other, drop me a note via the contact form.

Witch in Practice: Week 50

Last week

Last Saturday was the first day that the Dedicants could turn in a request for initiation, so I spent a lot of this week dealing with details around that.

(Obviously, any rituals that will be forthcoming are waiting until it’s safe for a high risk person – like me – to be inside with someone outside our ow household, preferably without masks. So this may be a bit.)

Friday, I mailed a blessing oil I made over this summer to a friend, and she has been delighted with it so far. I’ve been familiar with the basics for a long time, but this is the first time I’ve done a full blown start to finish ‘infuse all my own oils’ to ‘blend them all’. I’ve been using it myself, and very much like it.

Saturday had approximately all the coven calls in it.

  1. Discussion with our current other initiate about the initiation requests.
  2. Mabon planning (yay having a plan)
  3. Coven chat (yay, chatting)
  4. Final Seeker class for current Seeker.

The latter promptly put in a request to dedicate, which we’re discussing a little more next week. (There’s a piece of it that I want to make sure can be handled well in our context.)

Saturday night also brought an email from another potential Seeker. This means a bit of schedule juggling for me to sort out, but I think there’s a way to do that.

(As a tradition, we do not do dedications or initiations between Samhain and Imbolc, generally, though might do 2nd and 3rd degree elevations then – both of mine were.)

Saturday also had a fair bit of follow up emailing and notes. There may be a reason I do not manage to get anything else done on days when there is coven stuff.

Sunday. Because of all of that, I have been light on some of my own personal work – still doing my regular offerings and my morning practice. I did do some preparation for upcoming coven discussions on Sunday, but I need to do more.

This week

We are gearing up at work for teachers to return to campus (which started happening today.) My department is not returning to campus any time soon, so we’ve been spending a lot of time and energy figuring out what we can do to help people who’d like books, and how to manage some other logistical things.

It’s tiring, but I’m very grateful that so much of my job can in fact be done from home, and that I don’t need to navigate going into a building with lots of other people any time soon.

On the kitchen witchy side, I spent today after work processing a dozen ears of corn from my farm share into kernels and some cobs to make stock with. (I’m going to freeze the stock to make this delicious sounding corn and coconut soup with later this fall.) There was also a lot of green bean processing, and I’m working my way through freezing stuff so I can bag it.

(I need to rearrange my freezer in the next day or two, but that’s okay.)

Other plans: I have two coven related calls later this week, but have blocked off the entire long Labor Day weekend without any scheduled commitments, which is a trick I haven’t managed in over six months.

I plan to do a bunch of writing-related things, but I’m also considering taking a day to do a proper religious and magical retreat with minimal online time.

Witch in Practice: Week 49

Last week

Monday, I ended up doing unexpected (last-minute) ritual work for someone for an urgent need. That took about 90 minutes, and it wiped me out for a fair portion of the week.

I do not regret this one bit, because it seems to have helped.

I also knew when I hit the “I’m going to feel this in the morning, and for a few days” point, and made a deliberate decision to go on. (This is one of those things you learn from experience…)

Needless to say, my ‘everything else I might do’ has been pretty low-key all week, but that’s okay. A bunch of (not-witchy) rereading, and also re-reading Lois McMaster Bujold’s Curse of Chalion (which is one of the books I point to for “how I go at deity work”, though that’s not the reason I’m rereading it at the moment.)

Saturday, one of my current Seekers told me they have had Life Happen, and can’t continue at the moment. (A pity, but I’d be glad to have them come back if and when circumstances change.) I taught Seeker class (intro to ritual and magic), with the help of one of my just-finished Dedicants, which was great.

This was also when my current Dedicants could submit their letter requesting initiation, and so some of my time has been taken up reading and doing some discussion about that (with more scheduled.)

This week

Still taking it easy. And honestly, probably not getting as much as I’d like done, other than writing, but I continue to muddle along. It’s also the last week before my work life kicks into active gear (whatever that means in this pandemic season…)

Saturday, I have a bunch of coven stuff stacked – planning for our Mabon ritual, a chat for everyone, and then the last Seeker class.

Witch in Practice: Week 48

Last week

I was on vacation from work last week, and spent most of it head down in background organisational stuff (which makes me happy, it was a great vacation. But a lot of “This is a five hour project” stuff that I don’t normally have time to do in a satisfying chunk.)

Wednesday, Seeking turned 10 as a site! I’d hoped to do a bit more with that, but time and energy are finite, so I wrote a post about it, and we’ll see what else I come up with this year.

Saturday, I had a good initiate discussion for the coven, we have plans for up and coming things (or at least plans on what plans we should have.)

Sunday I went (virtually) to a test class (via one of the people I back on Patreon) and a concert in the afternoon.

I also spent some time this week coordinating a present for a dear friend’s 60th birthday, which should arrive tomorrow, and I’m excited to see what she thinks.

This week

I ended up doing some urgent ritual work to support someone Monday night, so that’s why no post last night. And I’ve got a bit of post-ritual hangover today. However, the urgent issue seems to have promisingly resolved, so all good!

(You are going to get two articles on Seeking in the not too distant future about what stuff is handy if you need to pull magical stuff together fast, and on ritual aftercare out of this, though.)

Tuesday is my usual New Moon stuff, probably extra low key (because see the previous paragraphs).

Saturday, I have Seeker class to teach.

Ten years, and many more

Seeking – this site – turns a decade old today, which is a fine time for a look back at how I got here, and to thank all the people who’ve made this site (and me) better along the way.

A view of my shrine, as of August 2020: bookshelves with altar cloths of blue, black, and green dividing the space, a bulletin board with cover images of books and jewellery hanging from it, various bowls for offerings and ongoing workings, wooden shelving holding bottles of oils and perfumes. Two bright golden vases of sunflowers are at either end.
My current shrine space, August 12, 2020

Thank you

First, thank you to everyone out there who’s told me an article here really helped them. Thanks to all of you who’ve linked the site or an article, or recommended it to someone. I love getting notes from people, or seeing a reference link come through my statistics dashboard, and realising it’s helped someone.

And thanks to my friends, who put up with me figuring out how to phrase something, and to my various tradmates and witchy students who’ve gotten the earliest iterations of this work out of me.

Most especially, thanks to all the folks at The Cauldron over the years who have asked great questions. I’d guess at least half of the articles here either started as a reply I made there, or were directly inspired by a discussion.

Continue reading

Witch in practice: Week 47

Seeking turns 10 years old this week! Tomorrow, in fact. (The oldest file on the site was set up on August 12, 2010.)

I’ll be talking a bit in the coming week or three about why I started it, what I’m hoping for it, and maybe highlighting some pieces.

Last week

A book launch week, so a lot of my time and energy went toward the very many steps involved in that. (I will say that an offering to Mercury for the tech side of it going smoothly and quickly has been doing very well for me.)

It was also my best launch and best day of sales yet, so that was delightful. (In absolutely terms, this is not a huge amount of money, but every bit helps, and every book people buy and enjoy is a delight in the world.)

At work: However, there were also complicated things. A very long-time staff member at work died of a heart attack, and he will be hugely missed by so many people in the institution. I always loved each and every one of his phone calls, which always made my day brighter, and always were about interesting topics.

As part of my job, I spent Thursday pulling together details about his life and work for memorial information, and then was asked to write a profile of him on Friday. It’s one of those weird places where my role as librarian, my writing skills, and the fact my religious life includes psychopomp work on occasion got tangled. I don’t regret any of that, but it was a lot of emotional heavy lifting, on top of my own grief.

Saturday: Last Dedicant class for my current Dedicants, discussing initiation. We’re not in a position to do initiations immediately, due to the pandemic, and there is a two week waiting period before they can request initiation, so there’s that to sort through yet. But it’s a definite change in cycle.

(We did not have Seeker class, due to an emergency for one of the Seekers.)

This week

I am on vacation at work, and head down in a bunch of wiki editing for my writing work. (So many projects, so little time.) My farm share has produced tons of corn and squash and other tasty things, so I am looking forward to cooking that this week, and I have nascent tomatoes on my tomato plant! (So excited: I did not manage either flowers or tomatoes last year)

Saturday: Initiate discussion, and we now have a plan for the next year (while we’re in initiation and other limbo for a bit) that I like, should be manageable time wise, and should be flexible enough to adapt as we go forward.

(I’m trying to get us as a coven to roughly doing things every two weeks, both to give me a bit more of my weekends back – when we have coven stuff on Saturdays, I get very little else done – and to have a reasonably predictable schedule for everyone to plan around. There are exceptions when that makes sense, but we’ll see how this goes.)

Witch in Practice: Week 46

Look! I remembered it was Monday!

Last week

Tuesday: As I’ve said elsewhere, my community supported agriculture share (from a local farm that’s been in business since the 1870s, about 8 miles from me), went from “Hello, here are some vegetables” to “HELLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOO HARVEST!” Very energetically.

(Nearly half of that, by both volume and weight is corn, but wow is it tasty corn. I made a corn and zucchini salad last night, with feta cheese, red onion, and cilantro, and I am a very happy camper.)

Friday: Baking bread for Lammas (and Lammas ritual). I made a cottage cheese dill loaf with bonus scallions, which was an excellent life choice. (I’ve been eating it with whipped cream cheese, also a recommended life choice if you like that sort of thing)

Saturday: Our coven Lammas ritual, via Zoom – we each made or acquired interesting bread, and shared stories either about bread and our traditions around it, or folk or fairy tales involving bread and its ingredients, which was great fun.

I’m missing the community Lammas hosted by friends rather a lot (they did it, but obviously, just for their household…) but we carry on.

I’ve also spent a bunch of time watching videos from CoCoVid, where a bunch of historical costumers who would normally be at Costumer’s College, a historical costuming convention, got together to post things on YouTube.

There are some great panels, and a lot of videos, ranging from discussions about diversity, disability, and inclusion in costuming to the (probably more expected), “how to make this particular thing”. The program’s here – a couple of the live panels will be coming down as of the 9th, but most items will be up indefinitely.

This week

Working on getting things ready for the next book launch (hopefully to be out Friday, and I have several last tasks to work on before that…)

Laura Tempest Zakroff has launched a series of short dance-based Witchual Workouts (first one was posted today) that I’m looking forward to trying out.

Saturday: Our last Dedicant class (about initiation), and then Seeker class about ritual theory and practice (this is the shorter version, designed for ‘things you might want to know before being part of a ritual’)

I’m taking the week of the 10th off for vacation, and very much looking forward to catching up on my writing wiki, doing some things to my bookshelves (and organisation of my ebooks) and generally bringing a bit more order to my life.