Witch in Practice : Taurus season

Coven

Again, another quiet month. We are – excitement! – preparing for an initiation in June, now we can put vaccinate people in a room without masks. We have a preparatory piece that we’re doing this coming weekend, and then the initiation is scheduled for June 12th.

Other than that, we’ve had rune discussion, and then Beltane.

We’re making plans to do a picnic outside for summer solstice, as the first time we’ll have seen each other in person in 15 months or so (no ritual plans, just hang out, maybe share some food, and catch up.) Also very exciting!

We’ve also plotted out coven calendar events through December, which makes me feel really good, because I can tell when I have weekends free to do other things (mostly writing-related.)

Witchy

A couple of conversations with seekers recently have made me kick around the idea of doing some non-training discussions with plenty of time for Q&A about stuff people are trying to sort out.

Note! I’m still figuring out what this might look like, and I’m not planning to start until September or October (I’m expecting the eventual return to work in my library in person to take a bit out of me for a while…)

If you’re not signed up for my newsletter, keep an eye out there for more early details, or here and my Patreon for more specifics as I get things set up.

My theoretical plan is a once a month web call class on some topic, probably focused not so much on “how do I do witchcraft”, but more on “how do I figure out useful sources of information for witchy/Pagan/magical/etc. stuff?” and “what do I do when things contradict, how do I figure that out?” and “how do I put together a way to learn about this that doesn’t feel totally scattered”.

My current thought (which may change in the next few months…) is to make it available to anyone who backs my Patreon or makes a small donation (and by small, I really do mean “very small” as the minimum, like $1), with some options if online payments or money are a problem at all. (Money will help support the time and energy need to put something like this together.)

My thought is to make the audio (plus any slides or handouts) available to anyone who’s registered, but not video (because I don’t really want my video self out on the Internets). There may also be a Discord channel.

As I say, still a work in progress. If you have topics you’d love to see me tackle, let me know!

Personal

I released another book in my 1920s romances with magic series! This is, as I have said elsewhere, my “Did you have pedagogical issues with the fundamental structure of Hogwarts? Me too.” It’s about astronomy, the power of eclipses to change perspective, academic politics, and a friends-to-lovers romance.

(The next one involves people putting together a complex ritual more or less on the fly, and takes place on an ocean liner in 1901 in the icy waters of the north Atlantic.)

Other than the writing, I have been working on figuring out what routines and habits are working well for me, so that as we look at being back on campus eventually, I can keep up momentum on writing

Witch in Practice – Aries season

Coven

We’ve been largely quiet month or so.

Our one current Dedicant is taking a break for a bit (due to a bunch of life change coming up.) They’re still going to come to rituals, but we’re pausing classes. We’ll revisit sometime this fall (or maybe next spring, depending on how things go, and if we have any other interest from other prospective Dedicants in the meantime.)

On the exciting front, we’re moving forward with an initiation that has been on hold for about 10 months (our prospective initiate completed all the relevant stuff late last spring, so we have been in “when it is safe to do ritual together.) Now, the two people who need to be involved (me and the prospective initiate) are fully vaccinated, and the other person we very much want there (our other initiate) is in process, and we have an initiation date in June!

(We have one more step a couple of weeks before the initiation that they get a couple of weeks to prep for, so lead time is a thing. Lead time also gives me a chance to redraft the initiation ritual for two people and my current apartment layout… This is one of the few times we get super detailed with that, but it’s also one of the times we really need to make sure everything goes smoothly.)

Stuff we’ve done:

  • Rune discussion (March 27th)
  • A couple of individual discussions with people.

Coming up on May 1st, we’re going to spend some time talking about what kind of scheduling people want going forward (including whether we continue doing some things online by preference once we can start meeting in person again, what people need to feel safe doing things in person, etc.)

Witchy

I’ve continued making progress on some personal learning and projects, though not as much as I wanted. Aries season has had a focus on other things. I’m thinking about what’s working for me for new and full moon personal work, and the fact that no, I apparently don’t really want to do specific things for first and third quarter moons most of the time.

I’ve also been really enjoying getting outside and walking more again. I live about three quarters of a mile from a large and historically interesting pond, off the main bike path, and I walk down there most days right now. (Tomorrow, I’m going out to a farm owned by the Massachusetts Audubon Society – it’s only about a 20 minute drive from where I live now, but I haven’t been there since I was in summer camp there in my late grade school years. Since it is a) a farm and b) it is baby animal season, that seemed a great place to go while I’m on vacation this week.)

Personal

Part of why I’ve been light on the other things is that now I am fully vaccinated, I have been catching up on things that needed in-person visits. Like an eye appointment, where I have tipped from “glasses sometime in the future” to “glasses, yep.”

(I am delighted to finally have the last checkbox on my stereotypical librarian checklist ticked off. Cat, yes. Hair in bun, yes. Sensible shoes, yes. Cardigan, yes (even if mine are mostly geeky choices from Svaha) And now glasses!

I saw the optician on the 10th, and picked them up on Saturday afternoon (the 17th) so I’ve only been wearing them for two and a half days, but so far so good! Because I spend 90% of my time on a computer, we went for computer specific glasses, and I’ll be getting some distance frames (with either transition lenses or clip on sunglasses) later this summer when my FSA account rolls over.

The one thing I’m currently finding weird is that when I’m on the laptop in the living room, I’m used to looking up and being aimed at my shrine space, which is now modestly blurry (because it’s well out of the range of the glasses focal point…) This may or may not provoke me to do some actual sitting in front of the shrine practice more regularly, we’ll see.

(Right now, I’m trying “don’t put on my glasses for my morning devotional stuff”. I don’t need them to be able to function, more for “eyestrain is no fun”)

Other than that, I’m taking vacation this week, doing a lot of work on my authorial wiki, and doing some planning for the May-July quarter of the year. Whee! (This is how you can tell that I’m a Virgo Sun and a Capricorn rising, I suspect… Besides my love of spreadsheets.)

Witch in Practice – Pisces season

Coven

We’ve had a quiet month, for the reasons described last time.

  • February 20th: Rune discussion and Dedicant class
  • March 20th: Ostara ritual (online still, of course) and I have a bit of tradition-specific ritual to do later that afternoon.

One of the things on our list to talk about – though it will still be a few months before we start making changes – is looking what being able to see each other in person again might look like.

My goal for this discussion is to talk about what kinds of things we want to aim for (when we can meet in person again, do we want to keep some online meetings for discussions to help with childcare needs and travel time, for example? How’s the timing working for us?)

We don’t need to make any decisions yet, but I want to give people time to think about what they’d like to do and what will work for them, since I know some people’s situations have shifted a bit (and probably will again.)

Witchy

I finished up the astrology class series I was taking. (I felt not-great for the last two, including the interpretation class at the end, so I definitely have a ton more reading and practicing to do.)

It’s been a relatively light month otherwise, because of the health and cleaning stuff.

Personal

I got my second vaccine dose on March 6th. My immune system likes throwing fits about things (autoimmune conditions make that interesting). I didn’t have miserable side-effects, but I was definitely unusually tired from Sunday (the day after I got it) through about Thursday. I’m very glad I cleared my schedule.

I also took the 12th and 15th off from work, and spent that doing a bunch of spring cleaning, which has felt great.

Witch in Practice: Aquarius season

Welcome to the second half of February!

Coven

We’ve had one person decide that she’s not able to keep up with coven things right now (entirely understandable), so she’s left the coven. We’ll be glad to discuss coming back in the future if/when her circumstances change.

(Talking about this stuff is always a little weird, because it’s internal group stuff. On the other hand, I want to mention it briefly, because this is a really normal process for group work. Things change and flow and that’s okay.)

We’ve also had:

  • January 23rd: Rune discussion and Dedicant class (on ritual tools)
  • January 30th: We had our (online) Imbolc ritual, and initiate discussion time.
  • I cancelled things on the February 6th (see the personal notes)

Coming up tomorrow, we get into one of my favourite Dedicant classes . That’s talking about what a magical persona is and why you might want one, which is one of those topics I still need to figure out how to write about, because it’s not something widely discussed in a lot of books. And more rune discussion.

Witchy

I’m currently taking a series of astrology classes (Five classes meeting every two weeks via Zoom) with a local priestess and astrologer. I’m enjoying it a lot.

“Get deeper into astrology” has been on my list for a couple of years, and thought that this framework would give me a good jumping off point. It’s definitely doing that, and helping me figure out how to combine material from multiple sources

(I’m also using this as a model for some of what I’m going to be talking about in the Pagan Learning project, which is slowly progressing.)

On the other hand, it’s taking up both class time and a lot of note-taking time.

Personal

Two bits of personally good news!

The reason I cancelled coven things on Feburary 6th (and will be figuring out alternate options for what’s scheduled March 6th) is that I was able to get my first dose of the Covid vaccine via some extra doses available through my employer.

(I’m not planning on changing my activities any time soon, but I do have a couple of medical appointments I need to do in the next few months that I will feel a lot better about dealing with post-vaccine.)

And on the writing side, I released a new book at the beginning of the month, a number of people have loved it, and it has been my best sales month by far so far. (We’re starting from fairly small numbers here, mind you!)

I am so very delighted by that, and comments like “I was up until 3am reading this” are never going to get old.

If you’re interested in the Scottish Highlands in 1922 with a broken magical portal, a possible dangerous mythical beast (a beithir), everyone having secrets, and a fair bit of magic, you can learn more over here.

I’m currently in editing mode for the next book to come out, set at the elitist magical school of my world. It is fully and unashamedly influenced by my experiences as a student in boarding school and a librarian in an independent school. And by all the ways that Hogwarts as an institution of learning completely frustrates me. (The staffing is completely inadequate for the stated schedule, never mind the lack of attention to pedagogy or wanting qualified teachers.) Also contains lots of astronomy and teachers trying to figure out how to help their students.

In other words, hi, I’m keeping busy around here.

Witch in Practice: Capricorn season

New pages and posts on Seeking:

Coven

Fairly quiet, on the whole. I didn’t schedule anything between our solstice ritual on the 19th and January 2nd, both because I was taking some time off to do other things, and because various people have kids and other bits of their life to coordinate.

  • January 2nd: We’d planned on a rune discussion, but ended up with just two of us there, and had a chat about some other witchy things instead. Dedicant class in the afternoon, talking about ritual theory.
  • January 9th: Dedicant class, talking about mythology and deity.

This weekend, we’ve got another rune discussion scheduled, and another Dedicant class (tools and altars, and I need to figure out some of how to share that usefully virtually: I have photos of most of the relevant stuff I took a few years ago.)

There were also several longer emails in here – some Dedicant questions (yay!), plus the one described below in the “world at large” section.

Witchy

I spent most of my vacation time working on writing related projects (the kind of thing where I needed to load a book into my brain, not disrupt it for the better part of ten days, and redraft substantial chunks of it) which meant I didn’t get as much else done as I was hoping.

One of the things I’m really liking about my planning adjustments for this year (which comes out of working through the HB90 material) is that I sat down and figured out when I needed to do the prep work in advance of some scheduled things, put it in my to-do list and calendar, and now I don’t have to worry I’m missing something.

So, this week, I sent out email about our Imbolc ritual plans, and Sunday afternoon I spent time on the “work through Nigel Pearson’s Walking The Tides: Seasonal Rhythms and Traditional Lore in Natural Craft” project I’m working on this year month by month. I’ve done December, January, and now February, putting notes into the private wiki that I use for this kind of thing.

I also did some work on the stuff in the Upcoming Plans section.

In sadder news, there have been two deaths in my larger communities, one of whom was my confirmation sponsor, back when I was in my teens and Catholic. (She was a fantastic example of how being deeply religious doesn’t have to take a single form, and how to be curious and engaged about the world and finding meaning.)

The world at large

The world at large is complicated, demanding, and distressing in all sorts of ways right now. After January 6th, I sent email to our coven email list with a few things that I’ve found helpful (my page on coping in hard times, as well as some thoughtful comments and advice from Bri Saussy.)

But it’s not as if I have all the answers (far from it), and I’m also very aware this year that while I’ve thought a lot about “what can I offer to people in my coven as a priestess”, doing significant pastoral support (in the way clergy in other religions do) is … not entirely in my scope.

Finding the line between being supportive, sharing helpful things, encouraging people to figure out what’s helping them, and getting myself into a situation where I don’t have the resources to maintain it is tricky (because I also have a day job that hasn’t stopped, chronic health foo, all the usual life maintenance stuff, and so on.)

And it’s not like I didn’t spend more time than I likely should have watching/reading/listening to news. (The line between ‘getting new information that might be actually important’ and ‘doomscrolling’ is more obvious at some times than others.)

Upcoming plans

I announced the following over on my Patreon and mailing list on January 3rd. Subscribe to the mailing list for updates about the project! (Though I’ll also mention it here in the monthly updates…)

I am likely going to be moving the mailing list to Substack in the next month or so. It has some additional tools – like being able to do comments and discussion – that I think would be neat.

Here’s what I’ve announced: (taken from the Patreon post)

Conversations with several friends and acquaintances (plus watching a lot of people struggle with this in the various Paganish spaces I read) has led me to sort out a new project, focused on how to learn (and research about) Pagan, witchy, and magical topics. 

It will focus on:

  • How to figure out some things about how you learn best
  • Some tips for planning time (and energy) to keep you moving forward
  • Why religious and magical research is different from what you learned in school…
  • … and how you can do it differently, with less frustration and stress
  • A research process that adapts to a wide range of needs and topics
  • Different approaches to keep track of what you’ve learned
  • Help with common issues – how do you deal with contradictory sources, issues of cultural assumption and appropriation, concerns about trying something new.
  • Advice for how to incorporate meditation, ritual, and divination as part of your learning and research process.

It doesn’t have a fancy name yet (my draft file is called “Pagan Learning”. Very inventive, I know.) 

It’s also a large project: my outline has at least 60 subsections, and I keep adding more pieces. It’s going to take me a while to write, edit, and share. 

Format: 
I’ll be sharing it via an online course platform (probably Teachable). The first segment, on how to figure out how you learn well, will be free, so you can get a sense of how the structure works for you. I’m hoping to have that up by the end of March at the latest. Watch this space for details. 

The rest of the segments will be available for a moderate fee.

(I’m thinking in the realm of $20-25 for the whole thing, about the price of a full-length print book, and I expect you’ll be able to get specific segments for a small amount of money, like $5. There’ll be discount codes for anyone on the Patreon or my mailing list.) 

For right now, it will involve text-based information, with screenshots, worksheets, and other supporting material as makes sense for the topic. I’m open to adding some video or audio down the road, but they’ll involve some additional tools on my end (and time to make sure everything’s fully accessible), so let’s start with the text. 

The current outline has 9 segments. Once I get the first one up, I’ll have a better idea of the timeline for the rest. 

Additional options: 
Once I have 3 segments up, I’ll be adjusting my Patreon levels to include access to the course for anyone who backs the Patreon at a modest level. I’m thinking about setting up a Discord for talking about anything and everything related to Paganish research and learning (which, really, covers a lot of topics) as a perk.  

I’ll also be sharing additional content on Patreon once I get going. This will include comments on specific books relevant to the project, maybe some bibliographies, that kind of thing. I’m also open to suggestions if there are things you’re interested in seeing here. (It’ll be a month or two before that starts up, and I’ll tell you before I get rolling.) 

When I get everything done I will look at doing a book version (hey, I’m set up for self-publishing…) 

Related: 
I have plans to do a separate course on planning and productivity from a witchy point of view (see my recent posts to get a sense of how I do that)

Not so much ‘how do you schedule your witchy work’ (other people do that well and I’ll tell you about them too!) but ‘how do you set up a system that is in tune with and supports your religious and magical practice and values’. 

I hope to have this piece out in October, to help you get ready for 2022. 

If you have any questions, comments, ideas, things you hope I cover, the contact form is over here for those.

Doing All The Things – intro

Hello! A slightly unusual series of posts from me this week, because as we head into 2021, several people have made intrigued noises when I talk about my planning and productivity tools.

So here’s a set of four posts talking about those things:

  1. This post (an overview of what my goals are with this)
  2. Long-term planning (how I approach it)
  3. Doing things (task management)
  4. Tracking (keeping track of what I’ve done)

First, let me be really clear: I am writing this up in case any piece of it might be useful to you. While it’s less actual work than it looks like, I suspect this is a lot more fussy than most people want to do.

However (based on previous conversations), I also bet that some specific pieces of it might be handy to others. Since I can’t tell which, you get me talking about them all!

Continue reading

Doing All The Things – longer-term planning

This is part of a series of posts about my productivity and planning tools:

  1. Intro (an overview of what my goals are with this)
  2. Long-term planning (how I approach it)
  3. Doing things (task management)
  4. Tracking (keeping track of what I’ve done)

A big part of my figuring this stuff out is looking at what I want to get done, and the moving pieces that will get me there.

For me, that means starting with astrology. 

Continue reading

Doing All The Things – doing things

Now we’re getting into the meat of how I get things done – where all the tasks live. I use a combo of Todoist, Centered, and Notion to do this.

Here are all the parts of the series if you want to jump around:

  1. Intro (an overview of what my goals are with this)
  2. Long-term planning (how I approach it)
  3. Doing things (task management)
  4. Tracking (keeping track of what I’ve done)
Continue reading

Doing All The Things – tracking

This is part 4 of a series of how I do my productivity and planning.

  1. Intro (an overview of what my goals are with this)
  2. Long-term planning (how I approach it)
  3. Doing things (task management)
  4. Tracking (keeping track of what I’ve done)

I started my spreadsheet tracking several years ago because several of my chronic health things are prone to slow onset of something flaring, until I suddenly wake up and realise that something is having a much bigger impact than it should.

Continue reading

Witch in practice: Scorpio & Sagittarius

So, I completely forgot to put up a post in November. Oops! I’ll be playing catch up here. (In other words, longer post, here we come!)

New pages:

Scorpio season

Coven

  • Samhain went well, even though we had to do things virtually. People found it meaningful and moving, and we had some good conversation at the end.
  • A long day of coven discussions on November 14th including rune discussion (more below) and our first Dedicant class for our new Dedicants.
  • I set up and explained the virtual Yule exchange for our coven.
  • More Dedicant class on the 21st, covering Pagan research and how to do it better (and how it’s different than other things we might learn.)

Other

I drove down to see my mother (and brother and his family) on October 24th. It was great to see them. (Mom had some serious but vastly improved non-Covid health issues in early September, so getting to see her was great.)

I took the week of November 2nd off work, and got a bunch of things done, which felt great. There’s a web redesign at work that’s been eating more brain space than I’d like.

I also finished the big chunk of redesign work for Seeking (you’ll see everything should be consistently formatted finally, with an image suitable for linking on Pinterest at the bottom of every post.)

Sagittarius season

Coven

  • December 5th: Rune discussion (Gebo and Wunjo) and Dedicant class (introduction to psychism and energy work).
  • December 19th: Yule, plus more Dedicant class (a deeper dive into “how do we do ritual”.)

We did a coven Yule virtual exchange, which had a couple of minor bumps, but I think everyone enjoyed it, and it was nice to be able to do something thinking about a particular person’s tastes.

One of this year’s Dedicants decided that they were not interested in continuing this past week, so there’s been a little bit of sorting that.

(I expect that at least half the people who express interest at any particular stage before initiation won’t continue for some reason. Often it’s a good one, like a new job taking a lot more time, or a move for a good reason. So this is mostly sorting this out, and recalibrating some things in my head since we’ve only got one Dedicant now.)

Witchy

I’ve been doing some house cleaning as part of the run up to Yule. (I might be procrastinating cleaning out the fridge as I write this.)

Last year, I took a bunch of time off over the winter holidays, and I’m doing that again this year. As part of a ‘hearth and home’ devotion, I plan to:

  • Up All Night vigil with the folks at The Cauldron
  • Spend some time with Mother Holda
  • Do some spinning over the 12 days between Solstice and New Year’s (this is when I spin yarn for ritual use for our Imbolc, plus my own use.) This year’s is Sweet Georgia’s Phoenix Rising in a superwash BFL. I also maybe bought a new spindle I’ll be having fun with.
  • A bunch of baking.
  • Several Yule and winter concerts through Online Concert Thing (they’ll have more concerts coming in 2021)

Other:

  • A lot of November’s free time (such as it is was) was taken up by doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I won, which is delightful, writing a book set in 1901 on an ocean liner. (I’m finishing it up right now.)
  • Thanksgiving is not a big family holiday for me (my parents are British) but I roasted a chicken for myself and did a bunch of writing-related things.
  • I released another of my romance books right after Thanksgiving – this one has explicit polytheism, healing baths, and a touch of divine magic, so it feels a lot more personal than some of my others in that realm.

I’m taking the last two weeks of December off work (it’s a total of 7 vacation days, due to the holidays) and looking forward to tackling a couple of big writing related projects, plus my seasonal reorganisation of my closet and pantry.

Rune discussion

As I mentioned, while normally we’d have been doing some initiations and moving forward with some things we do after initiation, that hasn’t been an option this year. Instead, we’re doing some fairly low-structure discussions about runes and things they bring up, using Taking Up the Runes by Diana Paxson as a starting point.

(My hope is people at least read the chapter and ponder it some before showing up, but we’re designing it so people can participate even if they don’t manage to do the prep work.)

We’re using those to discuss both stuff about the runes in specific, but also for a wider ranging discussion about magic and ritual and witchy good stuff related to whatever those runes are about. For the most recent discussion, we had some great conversations about joy and gifts and obligations of gifts, and what patterns we’ve tangled ourselves up in sometimes.

Thinking about 2021:

I’m pretty sure none of us are sure what 2021 is going to hold. I’m still working remotely, and right now I’m assuming that’s going to continue until at least April or May of next year, quite possibly into the summer.

(I’ve got multiple things that make me high risk for Covid, so I’m a) being super cautious and basically not going out but b) qualify for the vaccine early in phase 2 of Massachusetts’s announced guidelines for getting the vaccine, so right now, guessing I’ll manage that somewhere between March and May. But I also work in a building that has medically fragile students.)

But I am assuming that eventually in there I will be going back to my commute and working in the office. So I’m thinking a lot about what habits I can build now that will make life easier when I have to start doing that again, and thinking through what other things will change in my life.

(Including, I hope, an eventual return to in-person coven work, at least some of the time.)

One of the things I’ve been thinking about is what stuff I don’t want to spend time doing in 2021, and what stuff I want to do more of.

Not so much in 2021:

My newsletter is, okay probably not a thing that’s going to happen very often. I’ll probably still do a couple, but not on any kind of regular schedule.

(It takes an irregular amount of time for me to build up enough links to do something that feels like a useful size, and it turns out that kind of irregular thing is super hard for me to plan time for.)

Not complicating the day to day life stuff. One thing that being at home has taught me is that the more I reduce complex decision making about what I do about the routine stuff (exercise plans, cooking, etc.) the happier I am, and the more brain I have for things like writing.

I’d already done this with clothing, but I’m working on doing it with household chores, with exercise, and with meal planning. Basically, thinking about it once and then just doing the thing is working for me well. (I do regular planning time on Saturdays, which helps this.)

Going anywhere: My original plans for 2020 involved four trips, none of which happened, and I’m also expecting not to travel in 2021. (The one convention I was hoping to make it to has rescheduled to January 2022, which was smart of them.)

I am hoping to start seeing other humans socially in person somewhere in the second half of 2021, but we’ll see how that goes.

Lots of new content for Seeking: There will be some! Just, I’m expecting this will be a year when I add things as they come up, or I get a burning desire to write them, but probably not a regular supply of new articles.

(I am very question motivated, so if there’s something you’d like to see me tackle, let me know, and there’s a better chance it will appear after I’ve had time to think about it.)

More in 2021:

Coven stuff continues, of course, though I think the current plans are at a nice stable place in terms of time and energy commitment for me. t

Learning Craft:

I’m in the early planning stages of a project about how to go about learning Pagan and witchy stuff in a way that works for your brain, schedule, and available time. (Plus of course your interests.)

My thought is that this will be an online course (at a very reasonable price point: I’m thinking in the $5-10 range for each piece with some bundling options as I produce more material.)

If there are topics you’re interested in around this, drop me a note on the contact form.

Writing:

I have big ambitious writing plans for my romance writing in the form of four books (that’s the pace I’ve done the last couple of years) plus some novellas, which are a new thing to sort out.

I’m pretty clear on most of what this is going to involve, but I need to spend some time planning how to make it all happen and schedule it around coven time and other things I do.

There’ll be a series of posts here coming in the week of the 28th about my planning, (Why here? Because a bunch of it I structure based on planetary days, and I figure you all might have some interest in that.)

Music:

Still working on figuring out getting more music in my life, the ongoing thing of my life, but … this is a good time to do some more, right?