Witch in Practice: Week 41

A quieter week this week.

Last week

A lot of steady ongoing work in my book of shadows (mostly the digital version.)

Thursday, we got the news that my work is cutting about 5% of the staff, and I found out on Friday that that includes people in my larger department, and others who I very much like and respect and want good things for. That’s been hard all over the place, and it’s bringing up my own history with job cuts (even if it’s not me this time.)

Saturday, I had Dedicant class, on Pagan arts and music, which was a great discussion, and also got me to do some updating on the list of Pagan musicians in the relevant article here. I then taught the first of our Seeker classes for a new cycle. The Seeker classes are chance for people potentially interested in the group to try some low-commitment interactions with me (and in a little, other group members) and see how they feel about that.

That made for a lot of Zoom call (about 11-1 and 2-3:30), but I think I prefer stacking it on the same day (and being sort of useless after), than spreading it out, because teaching makes a big dent in other stuff I want or need to get done on weekends. (A worthwhile dent, but I do like keeping Sundays a day on which I do not generally do anything on anyone else’s timetable…)

This week

I want to do some more notetaking for the Book of Shadows, and I’d like to get back to doing some art and distillation of information into the handwritten version.

Saturday, we have coven chat, if anyone shows up for it.

Sunday, I’ll be doing something for the full moon around household well-being (in the sense, in my case, of “doing things to make my home in an animist sense happy”.)

I’m also hoping with the long weekend to do a graphics update around here, and look at some longer-term plans for some reorganising, figuring out which articles I really want to update, and look at some formatting standardisation across articles (like doing some highlighting to call out specific summary contents).

Witch in practice: Week 40

Last week

So many things! I took Friday (and this Monday) off from work, due to close timing of summer solstice, the new moon, and an eclipse. (This was a good call, self!)

Friday: (And the days previous). All the cleaning. I also baked this honey cake on Friday evening with the addition of a tablespoon of orange extract, a splash of rose water, and a good sprinkle of cardamom. Cardamom makes everything better. Here’s a photo of the result.

Saturday: Coven solstice ritual, which for our tradition is often a look at what the group vision looks like for the coming year (as opposed to our own personal goals). We drew Tarot cards, talked about them, and had a great conversation.

Sunday: Bottling some infused oils, and my new moon Tarot reading and other work.

Also a lot of book editing, in my ongoing fiction writing. (I’m getting better at the process, but having four days to focus on editing without the day job was fantastic.)

This week

I just posted two more parts of my Coven in the time of Coronavirus series, one on risks and considerations, and one on activities and alternatives.

Saturday: Dedicant class on Pagan arts (including music) – always fun! And then the first Seeker class. (Note to self: have plenty handy to drink, that’s a lot of talking.)

Witch in Practice: Week 39

Last week

Tuesday: My first CSA pickup of the season. (Carefully socially distanced, of course.)

It was my second time talking to people in person who weren’t a medical appointment for me or my cat since mid-March (bar a couple of brief in passing nods at my landlord or his family.)

I got a bunch of tasty vegetables, tried a new recipe (rhubarb and beet salad) and have a bunch more tasty things to eat. I’m looking forward to what tomorrow brings me.

Saturday: Dedicant class on Pagan history, and then some extensive work wrangling categories in my wiki-of-shadows (I’m almost satisfied with the current set up, and will share more about it when I get it cleaned up.)

I also did the colouring work for the front page for my physical book of shadows, and I’m very pleased with how it came out. (I used the Inktense watercolour pencils: I love how vivid the colours are, and how magical it is to activate them with water.)

Sunday: More work in the wiki-of-shadows, plus some moderation work on one of the Pagan communities I admin which ate more of my afternoon than I wanted.

I also sent planning emails about our Litha ritual for the coven.

This week

Today: My local library posted the adult summer reading bingo charts, which are right up my alley, since they describe the theme as “Imagine Your Story, a celebration of fairy tales, mythology, and fantasy.”

A couple of the bingo squares will be amusingly challenging. For example, “Learn both the Greek & Roman names for 8 gods & goddesses.” (Can I find 8 I don’t already know? Let’s find out!)

Another is to start learning a language through their Mango Languages database. This does not have Welsh (which I periodically putter through attempting to learn more of), but they do have Ancient Greek (which I have three years of in college-level courses, but is decidedly rusty.)

It is however, hilarious to see them attempt fit that into a modern language model, because they start out with “Here is the conversation we will be starting with: ‘Goddess, sing the ruinous wrath of Achilles son of Peleus'” (aka, the opening of the Iliad) where in other languages you get “Hello, my name is…”

(I learned my Greek with a text book transliterated best as Athenazde, which begins with such gems as “Dikaeopolis is farmer. He is an Athenian, but he does not live in Athens. He lives in the fields with his wife, his son, and his daughter.” (going on memory here…) before working around to short excerpts from classic works by the end of the book.)

I am thinking I may take the opportunity to actually work on reading through Emily Wilson’s fabulous translation of the Odyssey at the same time.

Anyway, sometime this week, okay, apparently, actually this afternoon, I need to sit down with some lists (I’ve had some books I’ve been meaning to read that fit some of the themes), and decide what I’m reading for this, and put the whole list somewhere where I can check things off and remember what I had in mind. I have some great reading ahead of me.

Tuesday: More CSA! More local foods! Yay!

Friday: Between the solstice, the new moon, and the eclipse, I took a couple of days off work (Friday and Monday) to have time to prep, do things, and recover. Between now and Friday, I need to do some cleaning so I don’t have to do it all Friday.

I’m still working on what some of my plans look like, but Friday definitely involves some baking (for ritual food for the next day).

Saturday: Coven Litha, plus whatever of my own work I want to do.

Sunday: Probably some extended meditation and book of shadows time at a minimum – I’m looking at how to detach some old habits that aren’t helping any more, especially around some household things and some money things.

Also, a lot of reading in there, because I have been unhappy with the number of books on my TBR list that I am not reading. And lounging around on the couch (or maybe outside on the patio) reading seems like a good addition to my summer, as well as the other necessary and important things going on.

Witch in Practice: Week 38

Last week

The cat is recovering great,

I have made some progress on writing, and oh, yeah, I had a book release. (This one, a little bit more of my polytheistic sensibilities are showing….)

Amazon has been running extra slowly with approvals (as have other ebook sellers).

Normally, I do the publishing upload on Thursday (for Jupiter’s day, and expansion), and things are ready to go (Friday, Venus’s day, a great day for a romance novel to be in the world…)

This week, I made offerings to Mercury on Wednesday, for swift approvals and all the technology to line up appropriately. Things took a little longer than usual, but everything was ready to go by Friday, which was great. (Also, I got a lovely email from one of my most fervent readers, who bought it moments after it was available on Amazon and inhaled it. Seriously, totally made my week…)

So that worked well.

Friday: New in our “physically distanced coven” repetoire, we tried doing the same ritual activity (getting to know a herb and what we might learn from it). I’d said sometime from Thursday to Saturday (the full moon being Friday). Mine involved some mediation, some research, and drawing up a panel for my book of shadows with a distillation of what I’d learned.

(I had picked violet, and I have some violet oil mid-infusion, got some violet extract to drink in water, and had some violet marshmallows. As one does.)

Saturday: I had a discussion with my initiate (our ongoing tools discussion) and we also talked a bit about what things look like for the foreseeable future, around rituals and classes, and possible Dedicants.

Then I had a conversation with a Seeker (who will be starting Seeker classes at the end of the month) which was also great.

Weekend: I spent time both Saturday and Sunday working on a combination of things for both the handwritten Book of Shadows, and the electronic one.

This week

More work on all of the above, Dedicant class (Pagan history – um, in summary, there’s only so much you can fit in a couple of hours…)

Witch in Practice: Week 37

(Warning, contains some discussion of the news of the last week, specifically Minneapolis.)

It’s been a hard week. I spent more than a decade living in the Twin Cities, Minnesota (the last three in Minneapolis itself), and the news from there has been horrific.

Police brutality and abuse of power were an issue when I was living there, and it hasn’t gotten better. I support those people doing the work to change things, and rising up when those who could make changes refuse to do so. (Black Lives Matter.)

Things can be replaced. Even much beloved bookstores and restaurants and all sorts of spaces where people gathered to learn and think about what could be, not just what is. (The area around Minnehaha and Lake was my library branch, a couple of my regular restaurants, my bank. These are places I knew well, and was in often.)

But I’ve also been worried for friends who live close enough to the most damaged portions of Lake Street to be up all night wondering ‘will fire and destruction rain down on our roof?’ or concerned the tear gas in the streets will cause a dangerous asthma attack. (Thankfully, so far as I know, they’re all doing okay on both those fronts right now.)

I don’t have any amazing magical answers here. I go to my altar, I make my offerings, I ask the gods to watch out for the people who need their help, to keep people safe, and for equity and caring to prevail. There are days that feels better than others.

We keep going. And we look for ways to make things better, not just for us, but for everyone around us.

(If you’re inclined to donate somewhere specific to Minneapolis, my local friends have been recommending the Lake Street Council. Lake Street had (and will have again, I hope) a long history of small businesses often owned by immigrants and/or people of color. It would be great for it to be a vibrant and amazing community space again.)

Coming soon

One of the things I’ve been thinking a lot about is what it means to have a coven in the time of covid. I have an initial article up in what will be a series. You can find the full series on my Adapting page as I write them (my goal is to finish this set of things and have some plans in place by the end of June.)

Last week

Despite the news, there was some more personal magical stuff.

Saturday we had our class about ritual language. After that, I had a discussion with a Seeker (I’m looking to start those classes late in June, and see what happens.

Sunday: I made some serious progress on Saturday and Sunday sketching a cover page for my Book of Shadows, and I am not displeased with the art work. (Art is not one of my better-trained skills.) It’s not done yet, because it needs color, but I will probably share some sort of view of it next week, when I’ve done that.

This week

Thursday: The cat has her post-surgery checkup. (She seems to be entirely recovered, including being the world’s most affectionate cat, so I don’t expect this to be a big problem.)

(Pause while writing this to go wander in the living room and determine that she is in fact still curled up on the couch amiably ignoring me.)

Friday: Full moon ritual stuff (some of which is tied into what we’re doing as a coven: we’re trying a thing where we do some similar ritual work for the full moon, but not at the same time/on web chat, and see how that works. Discussing it later, of course.)

Saturday: Initiate discussion, and another Seeker conversation thereafter.

More book of shadows stuff following.

Witch in Practice: Week 36

Time is hard, and even harder when it’s a long weekend.

Last week

Not a lot of specific magic in the week, except for bottling the oils that had been on my altar for a full lunar month, and mixing them into a blend to try out.

(It’s doing a month on my altar now, so I’ll see what I really think about it in June. It’s meant to be a home and abundance blessing oil, with a mix of things that I had in the house in sufficient quantities, mixed in olive oil.)

My cat (spoiler, currently doing fine, and curled up by my knee being adorable) had dental work on Thursday that ended up with them pulling all of her teeth. (She had the thing cats sometimes get where they start reabsorbing their teeth, and once they had her under anaesthetic, it became clear all of them had some issues.) Cats apparently do just fine after full extractions, and she’s certainly bounced back quickly after a few days of curling up in the cat carrier.

It was, however, rather distracting all round for a bit. She doesn’t meow much (she was poorly socialised as a kitten, and meowing is a thing cats have to learn to do) but she makes a surprising amount of noise around the place despite that.

Here’s an earlier picture of her, with teeth. (She’s all black, so getting good photos of her is hard. Also, her front legs were shaved for the IV, so she looks extra ridiculous.)

A black cat with clear pale green eyes, lying on her back on a light grey cat tree, with her head down at the bottom left of the picture, looking at the camera. Her front paws are tucked up against her chest.

Next week:

Class on Saturday for my Dedicants, about ritual language, plus a conversation after that with a potential student for the next round of training.

(We are planning on physically distancing for the foreseeable future: my baseline for ‘doing coven stuff in person’ is currently ‘sometime after I am back in the office again physically regularly’. But the initial conversations can start, at least, and we’ll figure it out as we go along.)

Also hopefully getting a book to publication (this is my seventh, so this is no longer a scary new thing.)

Near future

I realised today that the new moon, the summer solstice, and a lunar eclipse all overlap this year, and decided to take a little time off work so I have more time for ritualing and thinking.

(I am currently rolling in vacation time, since I didn’t take the 10 days I’d been saving for April, just two of them, and I won’t be using a week in July, either, though I’ll probably aim at another long weekend in late July or early August.)

Witch in Practice: Week 35

Last week:

Tarot class for my dedicants on Saturday which is always a fun one.

I also let them know that I don’t foresee doing things in person any time soon, because there’s no way to have enough distance in my apartment in a way that makes sense.

Depending on how local restrictions go (Massachusetts is being cautious about opening up, which I am entirely fine with), we might try something outside later in the summer, so we can at least see each other, but transit is also a consideration here.

We did talk a bit about what that might mean for initiation. Because of the details of that ritual (the initiate doesn’t need to touch much, and while there needs to be some direct contact, it could be just me and them), that might be an acceptable level of risk for both of us when a group gathering wouldn’t be.

We don’t actually have to make any decisions about this until early August (the earliest anyone could ask for initiation is mid-August, after our last class), so we have time to figure out the criteria in which we’re willing to go ahead.

For the ongoing future, we are going to do Sabbats synchronously (via Zoom), and I am going to work up some full moon rituals that we can do independently and then discuss. (I need to get my act together and figure that out this weekend.)

This week

My cat has dental extractions on Thursday. (Good thoughts appreciated: her name is Astra: she is entirely black and hard to photograph, hence the lack of photos.)

I’ve got an interesting but somewhat complex work project (teaching online for an hour to students who could be from grade 3-12, with a wide range of intellectual skills and backgrounds). I’m looking forward to it, but I’m making sure I leave mental energy for it.

Saturday: I’m doing our continuing tools initiate discussion. I need to do a bit more work before that.

Witch in Practice: Week 34

Not a lot new this week – I hit “I am trying to do way too much stuff, let’s stop and see what actually makes sense here” early last week.

My current goals:

Trying some different approaches to managing to-do items and daily planning so that I feel better about the amount of work I get done. (Both the stuff for pay and the various other projects.) I’ve had a lot of staring at a screen not having anything happen, which is both not great for doing the things I need, and makes me feel lousy.

Keeping up with the qi gong which I’m both enjoying and finding to be a good choice for me for movement and exercise.

Keeping on top of the stuff I want to do for coven and personal practice: I am keeping up with my daily practice (including agitating the oils infusing on my altar) and I’m looking forward to straining and bottling them on the next new moon. (I have all sorts of pretty glass bottles to put things in now!)

This week

Dedicant class on Saturday: I spent time over the weekend putting together some slides. The class is on Tarot, so it’ll be some talking through stuff, and some holding some of my decks up to the screen, plus I plan to do (and photograph) a reading Saturday morning before class so we can talk through interpretations.

(Two readings, probably: I plan to do a three card draw and a Celtic Cross so they can see how a simpler spread and a more complex one work.)

Witch in Practice: Week 33

So, I’ve been really struggling with focus and getting some things done. (Like a number of other people.) Getting over the initial inertia has been particularly tricky, not so much physically but in terms of focus and concentration.

After some conversations with my boss and other people last week, I’ve been trying some things that seem to have helped. (So I’m going to mention them here in case any of them might help you.)

One thing I realised is that where my work tasks used to be a mix of small (10-60 minute things to answer) and large (long-term projects that range from 10+ hours to a year or more), right now it’s almost all large projects, and it’s very hard to see any progress.

At work, I have a sticker sheet, where I add a sticker every time I’ve edited 100 items on my Very Long List of things to edit (that’s usually about 2 hours of work, give or take.) I didn’t bring it home with me. This past weekend, I set up a new sheet in my One Spreadsheet to Rule Them All (that I use for personal tracking) and bought some clip art that makes me happy on Etsy, and set up a sheet so I can copy and paste pretty sticker-like images into boxes like my physical sticker sheet. So far so good!

I’m also doing a secondary to-do list that has my major goals for the day (focused on work, since I’m more or less moving forward on other things okay) so I can see in one place what I want to get done, including meetings.

Last week

We did our first online ritual as a coven. We set up the circle with me casting it (with everyone else on mute, following along at home, since part of what my dedicants need to be learning right now is getting the tradition’s circle cast into their bones…)

Then I did a meditation for them, of being out in a garden, exploring what they felt drawn to, and finding something that brought them joy or pleasure. We then charged a food or drink item (I said “something with transformative energy” like bread, yogurt, wine/beer/mead, honey, etc.) to eat or eat and also use later. It went pretty well.

This week

I’ve been wanting to simplify – I’ve had a list of a bunch of stuff I’ve been trying to do (exercise, play music, the SKT project) and had a fit over the weekend of “Argh, too many things.”

So right now, I’m down to doing the basic daily elements of the SKT 22 weeks practice (because that still feels good and helps me remember today is in fact Tuesday), but otherwise not pushing myself.

On Saturday, we have coven chat, if anyone wants to come chat. (I open up the Zoom room for an hour or so), and then there’s an online ritual from the Cornucopia folks that I am planning on making it to (but I have a bunch of online webcall time for work this week, so I may hit Saturday and not want to look at people on a screen anymore.)

Witch in Practice: Week 32

Last week:

I’m continuing with my 22 Weeks with the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot deck working: I’m particularly enjoying the daily tasks (and it’s helping me remember whether today is Monday or Wednesday or whatever.)

I’ve also been doing more qi gong, which I’m really liking, as it’s hitting that mix of ‘moving my body gently’ and ‘space for some flow and meditation’ and also, I hope, being part of ongoing vitality work.

Saturday: I had two rounds of coven things on Saturday. We had Dedicant class (ritual theory 2, or the Wheel of the Year and other kinds of structures for ritual), plus talking a little about plans for Beltane, and how that might work.

This week:

Friday: I’m hoping to get up for dawn, to walk down to the nearby pond and watch the sun come up, though the weather forecast is not looking terribly promising right now. (I have done my lifetime share of Beltane in the rain.)

Saturday: We are doing our coven ritual (online, naturally), and we’ll see how that goes.