Forms of Wealth

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I took a moment, just this afternoon, to dress and light a money candle.

I’m not skint, or super low on money. I’m comfortable, and thankfully not financially impacted by covid much.

But we’ve been having some money troubles, and some things have come up that needed money. So a little call to the ancestors for a little help, if they are able and willing.

However, that leads me to consider, what wealth really is.

Many would say money. But if I had the choice, I would live without money, on barter alone. It’s not an option. But it would be nice.

So, if not money, than what?

My cat, recently diagnosed with an inoperable tumor, and not usually cuddly. This is wealth.

Family, perhaps. Or things. Items bought with money or traded with barter. Or friends. Pets. Children. Home. Land. Stocks. Bonds. Spirituality. God and gods.

The possible list is endless.

Kale leaves from a plant that is currently two years old.

So, I propose an alternate solution.

Wealth is not real.

A little bit extreme, but here’s where I’m going.

Wealth isn’t a set, exact, precise amount of any one thing, to people. Wealth, like beauty and skill are in the eyes of the beholder.

Richness, bounty, wealth these words can relate to so much.

Some buds on my pink lemonade blueberry bush, already budding in preparation for spring.

So find your own definition of wealth. Find things that make your life feel rich. Whether that’s rolling in money like Scrooge McDuck, or cuddling with a sick cat that you will soon lose. Or having the ability to enjoy the simple things, like weeds and tree buds.

This is speedwell I’m pretty sure. Taking over the path, which is great, because it used to be grass.
Buds on my northern lilac, which will be blooming white, fragrant, and beautiful in no time

Never let anyone else (even me) tell you what wealth really means. Only you can tell if something makes you feel truly wealthy.

Speaking of, I’m going back to my funny mug, and my hot cocoa. Another little bounty that I enjoy.

Hot and chocolate. Just how I like it.

Best fortune to you, finding your own wealth.

Concerned

I’m trying to wear my worry well.

I’m not so sure how I’m doing.

My cat is ill. My workplace is swamped. A friend lost family. Someone I know online has utterly vanished, taking all of their words with them.

I don’t know where they went, or if they’re okay.

If you’re reading this: I miss your words, and your shop, but I do miss your more.

I hope you’re doing okay.

Everyone take care of themselves during these wild nights as the secular year rolls over the ghost.

Listen When They Speak

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First night, lights lit.

I wasn’t raised Jewish.

But I’ve always felt a connection. A fondness for their language and culture. I grew up with a father who learned Hebrew so he could read the original biblical text, and celebrated Passover and lit candles on Saturday at dusk, and for Hanukkah, some years.

And then one day, many moons after I had my genetics analyzed, I actually registered what part of it said.

Ashkenazi Jewish. And I realized that I did have ancestors that were part of that culture, that were poking at me to start interacting with them.

I hadn’t mentioned it last year (I think) but last year was the first year that I lit candles on a Hanukkah menorah (also known by some as a Hanukkiah).

Of course it’s on my ancestor’s altar. Where else would they sit?

I also bought some little battery operated candles for while I’m at work. During the winter, I work long past sundown on most work days, and can’t light actual candles in a retail setting.

But these little guys work just fine.

I could even light them in the window, which I did.

So mostly, I’m saying, if you are feeling drawn to something, look into the why. It might surprise you.

Don’t claim a culture that isn’t yours (I will never have the full experience of a person who grew up as a Jewish person, and I don’t claim to be Jewish in anything more than blood). Especially if it is a culture that has been historically oppressed, killed or marginalized. That is a whole mess of appropriation that all of our ancestors have had to deal with at some point, and would probably love to slap the shit out of us for it.

But look into it. See if there’s a reason, And you might find out something interesting.

Ritual, Unintentional

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I’ve never been that big on ritual. I don’t generally perform big, formal, high magic rituals.

But I’m coming to learn that it isn’t a dirty word.

Something of a holdover from my early days, where anything that sounded not-Christian enough was Bad News. And ritual was definitely one of those words.

After I came to my winding, crooked path, I learned a different context to the word ritual.

And it still rubbed me the wrong way.

All the rituals I ever saw in books were heavily scripted, heavily Wiccan in flavor, and just didn’t fit right.

I’m now learning, however, that ritual isn’t a word that needs to make me cringe. I can enjoy ritual as much as the next witch.

The spirits who taught me that are Sh’lem and Sh’char. They are a pair of deities from the Canaanite spirituality. Specifically they are noted in Ugarit inscriptions. They are twins, Dusk and Dawn. They represent the brightening and the darkening of the day, the coming and going off the dark and light. At least to me.

I’ve been lighting a very small candle each day around sunrise and sunset, to greet them, and welcome them into my home. Every day.

Despite the fact that I haven’t missed a single day since I properly sat down and started this, I hadn’t really come to understand that it was a ritual.

I know, right? Somehow that just flew right over my head.

And it makes me wonder, what other rituals of spirituality am I stealthily partaking in, perhaps without my own awareness of it?

It just goes to show that no matter how a word might trigger or bother you, that doesn’t mean that the concept itself is inherently flawed. In fact, it’s usually the human thinking that is flawed.

We tend to overcomplicate things.

This is tonight’s greeting to Sh’lem. I’d show you one for Sh’char, but that usually happens on the way out the front door…

Endure, Evolve, Grow

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So, I was thinking of writing a little post about, stubbornness. Or determination. Thanks to this little guy

Some variety of the carrot family growing tiny in a crack of sidewalk, in the middle of Summer’s heat

But that is not what I’m going to write about. Close but not quite.

Image of a small town in the Pacific Northwest at 10am, in September

Sometimes things happen, in someone’s life, that feel like they’re the end of everything. They’re maybe terrifying, maybe painful, maybe uncertain, and unending. You have no agency, no idea what the right thing is to do, no way of fixing things that are crashing down around you, in your life or maybe outside it. Helpless

Something humans do well – better than nearly any other skill they have, because it’s in them down to blood and bone, evolved into their DNA – is endure. Survive. Keep going.

We did it through the ice ages. We did it through one extinction event after another. One natural disaster after another. One plague, war, genocide after another.

Right now the Pacific Northwest is on fire. Actually, really, the whole west coast of the US is on fire. Possibly the whole west of the country. I’m not being evacuated yet. But it may happen. I may lose my 60 year old home of 3 years to fire before I ever get the chance to finish working on the garden or the backyard.

But we’ll endure that. And be thankful that we aren’t worse off. We’ll endure because it’s what humans do. It sucks because so many people get used to being ill treated and then just have the mentality of “I can handle it” so they keep putting up with it like it’s how life is supposed to be.

Don’t ever forget the purpose of endurance is not to prove your mettle, or to live with a terrible new normal. Endurance is a tool, you need to use it to get through a struggle to the other side. Using it too often without time for rest will damage it the same as any other tool.

Endurance isn’t about the act of endurance itself, about continuing to endure, but about being able to look back over your shoulder and say “wow, I made it through that, good job, me!”

I mean, keeping in line with his usual behaviours, it’s not like wildfires are unknown to Father Change. He’s actually known for them in many tales both old and new.

So, I do as I’m told, I grow and change the way I must, I endure what I must to move to the next step. I put up with all this smoke and headache and fear and uncertainty because he has never ever ever let me fall all the way down. He always catches me. But I always have to learn something.

Even if that something is just that Wondravati is sometimes not very nice. I’ll take it. Those are the gods I work with.

A street on the way to my house on my walk home, it was faintly snowing ash
Ash drifts on the sidewalk from all the fall that’s happened so far today

Holidays, Moons, and Change

Mama Sheila, some of her offerings and a few of the things that she hangs out with on her altar space

I feel like my Ingfest is going to take some time for me to write about.

It has to do with sacrifice, and bounty, and harvest, and hard work. I think a lot of that, for me, is actually sort of personal, internal stuff right now. I’m coming to realizations, looking deep. Checking out the ugly with the good. That kind of thing.

So, that’s on the back burner for the moment.

Something I’ve always struggled with, in my path, is the names of the moons. I always loved the “folk moon names” because there was something there that just struck true. But they didn’t quite seem… right. And that was to do with my own personal path and where it wanted to go.

So, I figured out at some point that I can’t just go by what other people think up, because it won’t resonate with me.

Go figure, right? I can’t do spells other people write because it feels awkward and forced, and I’ve been roughly following the “pagan” holidays because it felt nice and balanced, but have been working on renaming them and altering them to fit me better for years.

Something I do is get inspiration from others and their names for the moon. Sarah Anne Lawless and Howie of The Rusted Burrow have both supplied me with names of interest.

Even the names of the phases of the moon don’t work for me. I use full moon and new moon when talking to others. But for me Bright Moon and Dark Moon fit better, especially when the New Moon is the first visible sliver of the moon, which starts the first day of the month. And I also like to name both my dark moons and my bright moons, not just the full moons like is more standard.

I haven’t got them all named yet. And sometimes I think I have a name and they turn out later to be something else, a holiday, or a one time thing.

So, since the full moon is coming up, I think I’ll wish a welcome to the full moon, or bright moon that I feel most comfortable calling the Harvest Moon.

For now. Inevitably that will change. I mean everything always does.

Lovely little moth or butterfly on some of my Queen Anne’s Lace

Samnos, and the Fire Nights

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Perhaps it’s appropriate for me to write about the cross-quarter time I celebrate now, as so many are celebrating Lughnasadh or Lammas around now.

However I’ve been working on trying to write a post about Samnos, for almost two months. My midsummer holy day.

I spoke with Howie @ the Rusted Burrow, whom I’ve linked to before, and came around to the concept of balance in my holy year.

I do like balance in seasons. I live somewhere that gets a proper four, and the concept of balance is why I still work with the 8 holidays I first got from a broadly Wiccan-based eclectic pagan path. I no longer connect much with the path I once walked. But the holidays all spoke to me differently.

Ironically some of the ones I didn’t find any connection with are holidays which are deeply spiritual to me now.

So, to balance. In the winter, around the solstice, it is generally accepted that there are around two weeks of celebratory days. The 12 days of Christmas, the festival of lights, rough nights, etc. I have recently begun connecting to that tradition, and enjoying diving deep.

And this year before the summer solstice, I suddenly realized I should, or wanted to, or whatever, do the same for the summer solstice.

And instead of struggling to come up with what to do or how to celebrate, it came to me in the perfect clear insight of inspiration from spirits, or some sort of ancestral memory.

Fire Nights.

I have been interested in the concept of rauchstochs (sp) since I first saw them mentioned on the Rusted Burrow blog. They make me think of a form of smoke cleansing popular in folk magic lore in the British Isles, which I use: witch’s whisk. (Blackberry/bramble is one powerful punch of a cleanser)

I also have a serious problem with grass and have been working to connect with it more, since as an animist I need to work with everything as having a balanced place in the world. Including grass. Just because people have bred it to be the horrible, invasive, unkillable weed it’s become is not the fault of the grass spirits, or the grass gods, or even the grass itself. Le sigh.

So, I collected brambles, and rosemary, and grass by the handfuls. I bunched them and stacked them and hung them to dry. And when the first night of Samnos came, I sat on my step, and piled it all up with a piece of my first hearthfire, and started a merry blaze.

Day one was small, and fragile, and died out almost completely, at least twice. But I am new to fire making. And it is something I am required to learn, per orders from several of my spirits.

Fire is a living thing. You can see it and feel it. Hear it. And sense it if you pay enough attention.

And heaven help you if you don’t.

The Fire Nights which bring the night that starts the dying of the sun’s light, are about burning down the world old world debris. The detritus and garbage and mess of the spring and Growing Times. And of celebrating everything that has come to place as the year brightened and grew. I offered food to the fire at the end, and a splash of mead, that apparently had a bit more alcohol content than I was expecting.

The last night was intended to end around the Dog Days, which bring the heat of summer. Made sense to me. The Longest Day, then Fire Nights, then the Dog Days. One long string of fire. This year I think they started later. But I am an American. I was planning on ending them around the 3rd or so. And found out too late that the Dog Days started later this year (thanks Sirius). But then, as I went out to light another fire I heard the beginning of fireworks. And I realized we, in America, already celebrate a July Fire Night.

So I think that for now, the Nights will start with the solstice and drift through to the 4th of July. And we’ll see where we go from here.

It’s all about practice after all. And getting bossed around by your spirits. Of course.

Sun Contemplations

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The last of the fire nights, ending before the sun is yet settled to bed.

The days have nothing to do but get shorter now.

As the nights grow longer and the days shorter, the sun grows stronger. Science can explain why, but it rather feels like the sun knows it’s time is getting shorter and it’s trying to eke out every bit of heat it can.

A bit of solar revenge, perhaps.

That might be just because I’m a child born and raised in the desert. The July and August sun is brutal, further south.

The last of the fires was kindled today, and is cooling on my stoop in front of me.

The day is windy (thank you Storm Father) and sunny, and beautiful in the shade of my elm tree (we call him the tree god).

I listen to neighbors shooting off bottle rockets and fireworks, I worry about the current state of pandemic and how it’s probably going to get worse from here as the holidays begin to come in more frequently.

I think of the sun’s light fading and think of dark days to come.

But I know that cycles always repeat. We will have the sun again.

In trust I thank the sun for what it’s brought us, what it’s done for us, despite the fact that it’ll be scorching us blind for the next few moons.

Mead poured out on the property edge. Thanks. Offering. Protection. Blessing.

The sun brings life and light. And today we begin it’s trip to farewell. But it’ll be back again. It always is.

And if it isn’t, obviously, we won’t be here to worry about it. ;p

Potential

I’ve been struggling this year, to figure out what my “word of the year” is.

Following trends, I know. But last year I chose a word that actually helped me to get through the dumpster fire rolling downhill that was 2019, without having an actual breakdown. So.

I’ve been thinking of what I could choose, and coming up with great ideas, then forgetting them, then thinking of new ones. Nothing was sticking really.

Then this morning, I had two thoughts bouncing around. I’ve been thinking of Hope as a word. But it never quite felt right. Then the word Trajectory came to me. It wasn’t right either, but they melded together to give me Potential.

That’s the perfect word for this year. After the WTFery of last year, and the way this year is shaping up, Potential is what this year is all about. Potential for change. Potential for something new. Potential danger. Potential energy.

The potential in my yard and garden has been wonderful and it’s showing its colors beautifully.

The most recent bloom of one of my fuchsia plants
Comfrey flowers with droplets of rain
This year’s first bloom of my OG fuchsia I bought last year
Day lilys that came with the house, first bloom this year
These last two are weeds that have lovely blossoms and are showing me that what I’m doing to my lawn is actually helping, because the biodiversity is ramping up
This seems to be a wild native geranium. Proud to help the native plants find somewhere new.

My craft has been blossoming too. I’ve long struggled with working to make my practice an every day practice. I work in retail (healthcare – hence my long hiatus this time) so my job is very secular in nature. Lately I’ve been taking the Mother of All Work to work with me. And wow is it helping. I sing softly to her when I’m doing anything repetitive. And petition her when I’m having to run around like crazy.

I’ve been lighting candles and singing to my ancestors every night. And burning dried blackberry canes instead of Native American sage to cleanse my space with. Packs one helluva punch too. Just FYI. Kind of like the spiritual equivalent of a salt body scrub to exfoliate the crap out of any malignant crap hanging about.

Homemade gluten free fried chicken and hush puppies, with no frying oil. Yum.

I’ve been doing a lot more cooking at home too, since we started getting the “imperfect produce” box.

It’s kind of awesome. You pay for some random veggies and fruits to land on your doorstep once a week. You can take out things you hate, and add in things you want, if they have them. But I’ve been eating at home so much more.

I’ve been successfully taking out the garbage and recycling almost weekly, too, which is a fantastic feat with my adhd. Dishes are getting cleaned and meals getting made. I feel like I actually have my shit together right now.

The thing is, everyone always has potential. The potential to succeed or fail. The potential to do good or bad. The potential to change or stay the same. The only thing you can’t do is to go back in time and alter what you’ve already done.

But even then, there is always the potential to correct mistakes going forward. Apologize for wrongs and make good on those apologies. Words are next to useless without actions. Change behaviors. Try again, fail better next time. Don’t repeat old mistakes.

The world could use that lesson. History is proof that as a collective, humanity doesn’t really learn from its mistakes.

Remember you have potential. Keep aiming your potential in the direction you want to move.

I just have to remember as we trundle our way through the havoc and chaos that this year has become, that part of my Potential is Hope.

Progress

So. Progress is an interesting word. Makes you think of moving forward. And being further ahead than before.

Sometimes I think for every step we take collectively (as a human race/society) we take three very large steps back.

So we’ll forgo the philosophical debate about how far we have “progressed” in this so very modern world.

Progress in the garden goes by leaps and bounds. It was beastly humid this weekend. But we still planted zucchini, squash, watermelon, tomatoes, and leeks. I got the last of my fuchsias planted. Total of five now. One from last year and four younglings from this year.

My forsythia cutting has suffered so much abuse but is leafing!

The path in the back yard is still there but is being chased by the grass. Ugh. Gotta fight with the grass gods for the space. They’re persistent. Monoculture is evil.

Speaking of gods, my most recent deity/Great Spirit/etc that I’ve been working with is the Mother of All Work. She’s a spring deity. Akin to a very… very, very metal version of Œstre/Ostara/etc. She wears skins as they suit her, is rangy, and a little bony in the first bit of spring. She claws her way out of the winter to bring in the bulbs and blossoms and the new growth. But with that she brings the hardships suffered through the cold and dark, the gnawing hunger clinging to your ribs, and the cracked and bleeding fingers from climbing, digging, searching for that little bit of sustenance, and the cold that splits the skin so easily.

At her heels is a fox, as rust red as her hair, but her sacred animals are the working animals. Bees, ants, beavers, flies, worms, birds building nests, badgers coming out to hunt. Especially, animals that start working during the spring.

She is. A harsh task master. I’m just learning her ways, and I know they will not be easy.

Also, I now have a taboo that if I see an ant in peril I’m not to let it suffer. Quick kill or rescue. And I can’t just kill them because I can’t stand that they’re invading my house.

“They live on this world too. You think you’re more important than them because your kind can build houses? What do you think they do? All with their own strength…”

So goes the rebuke. It’s a long one. She has Opinions. And that’s okay. I work with my deities, and learn what I can from them and work with them. If this one wants me to save ants or kill them quick, I can do that.

My bone reading is coming along as well. I did a reading the other day to connect with them, and they had nothing to say to me. They were immediately like “yeah, great nice to see you, did you know you’re doing a reading for your roommate?” Pfft. I love reading the bones.

Doing some work with the fabulous trutenbein that I got from Howie at the Rusted Barrow. I use them when working with the bones (and other times as well). They’re gorgeous and heavy, and long, and well worth the price I paid. Beautiful work. Howie always does beautiful work. (Hope that’s your name, because it says so at the top!)

Also collecting flowers for Crom (Crom Cruach, the modern name I give my Father of the Mound). He loves flowers. All year long. Dried flowers, fresh ones. Especially if they’re bright or smell good. So white lilacs for Crom. He’ll be getting more as the year moves forward.

So. Yeah. Just thought I’d hit you up with some progress shots of my life.

Currently working with Loki again, as this is his season. He’s my High Spirit. Sort of. The head of my pantheon. Or the deity I work with the most. He’s currently quiet. A quiet sort of patience. Letting me work with someone new. (He especially likes that she’s as hard on me as he ever was)

Even still. It’s sort of nice.

The quiet, still, silent patience of someone who knows the Right Things are being worked on. Like the still right before the wind starts picking up.

After all, the quiet can’t last forever. Especially if you’re working with a liminal god.