Thursday, January 31, 2013

C- Circle

Of course I have to post about circles! I doodle them and find them in nature...
Duloe stones in Cornwall. Amazing feat of worship.

Sabrynth spiral.
When pondering a problem, I tend to walk through my yard in a big, loose circle, picking a weed there and trimming a branch here until I have arrived at my starting place. Sometimes it takes a long time, sometimes not, but I find that the thinking I do while wandering like this often leads me to, or close, to a solution. And it calms me.

I read that studies on how people navigate without markers reveal that people tend to walk in a slow curve, a circle, when they walk alone without a directed path.

Man made, found in nature, man made from things found in nature- I enjoy looking at them all and appreciate the path they offer. When I try to get somewhere and rush forward in a straight line I nearly ALWAYS miss the point of the journey. So many things have been revealed to me while I embraced the journey- very few experiences have been enlightening as I rushed straight past or through them.

Labrynth at UCLA

This is one place I have walked, the labyrinth
 in Grace Cathedral in San Franciso.
Walking on a labyrinth path is walking a lot of parts of a circle, back and forth, around and around. That route is a good metaphor for the journey in life- each step can only go one way- you have to take each turn as it comes. Only by moving forward can you arrive at the end.  In a labyrinth journey you have no decisions to make and can just let your mind go as you walk and turn and walk some more. In doing this your mind can journey too.

When you reach the middle of the labyrinth path you realize that you are not yet there. Turn around and begin to put one foot in front of the other, you have many turns and twists in your circle to go!

One of the best kind of circles- a circle of people.

I've collected pictures of circles in nature over many years, not always with notes about who took the picture. I heartily apologize for this, but some of the pictures are just too wonderful. I want to share them anyway. Just know that they are the wonderful work of other talented people, not me.

Crop circles are fascinating, no matter who made them!

New Old Loom: warping with no cross

Sectional warp beam, all wrapped up and my seat of the pants thread ordering method. I put tape sticky side up on
 the back beam and on a lease stick, combed the heck out of each section of the already warped beam
and stuck it down as close to in order as I could. then I climbed around inside the front of the loom
and pushed each little thread through a heddle in a straight draw, that is 1-2-3-4,1-2-3-4.
I received the back beam of the New Old Loom wrapped with beautiful linen warp. Unfortunately, it had been cut from the last project and wrapped for storage onto the big beam without separating the threads into two groups of every-other thread. That is called the cross, and it keeps the warp threads from tangling as you pass each thread from the back beam through its heddle and reed slot and set it up to be woven and wrap onto the front beam.

WITH a cross, you can pick up a thread and know that the next thread below it is the very next thread in line. With the warp on the beam and no cross preserved from the previous project, I have the threads in rough groups of forty or so but in each little group, who knows how I can keep the tangles out?

The interwebs know, that's who.

I know I could unwrap or cut the old warp off this beam but
A: there seems to be a lot of it and
B: I know it was warped using a rack of spools so it's probably pretty neatly done and
C: Linen isn't cheap and I love a challenge.
Heddles from the front of the loom. Temporary lease stick with sticky tape and
the combed warp threads right behind the heddles where I can grab each
thread in order and stuff it into the hole in the middle of each heddle.

I've been looking hard in all the good places on the interwebs for smart peoples' advice on how to warp when you lose the cross.  It happens to a lot of people, it seems.  Some people (a surprising number, actually) just can't face it. I am not those people. Most people who have been weaving for a while realize that a certain amount of tangle is possible to deal with if you first thread up the warp in as organized a way as possible and then raise every other thread by lifting the heddles to make a plain weave shed and sliding really long sticks called lease sticks into the 2 plain weave sheds.

Then, you just slide the sticks back, tie them to the frame and go. as the warp advances, comb the tangles behind the lease sticks ad slide them back again as far as they will go.

I scrubbed the first shaft full of little metal heddles in front and put them back on, but I decided to just give the rusty back three sets a try on this free warp.  I'm eager to get going and I've been cleaning loom parts for two weeks thanks to my stubborn work on some rusty parts that couldn't be saved at the beginning. I couldn't wait anymore, but the front ones look great and I'll get to the rest soon. Really.

That is the plan. If the amount of tangle is manageable, I will get to play on the loom with a free linen warp for a long time. If it is simply too seriously tangled for me to be able to keep pushing the snarls back toward the beam, I'll get to weave a foot and then I will HAVE to cut it all from the back and begin with a brand new warp with a properly made cross.

I can only find out by trying. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The act of creation

 When I was in undergraduate school, one of the things I heard was that you had to have a handy oven to get through grad school because you had to bake bread or you would never finish your thesis. Whaaat?  As much of a fan of folk magic as I am, this one both captured me and mystified me at the same time.  I wanted it to be true, but I didn't know why.

That is because I was not in graduate school.

Undergrad requires a sustained effort at many consecutive (and simultaneous if you don't plan ahead) tasks and projects.  However, each project has an endpoint and you just knock them down like ducks at the state fair.  Graduate school, I was told by my elder peers (all of 3 years elder!) requires sustained effort at what seems like it might be an unending topic with a million or so slight tasks and possibly a thesis.  It takes forever and you never feel like you are making and forward movement.

Dinner was Jarlsberg, pulverized olive tapanade and warm
 whole wheat bread.  Also enjoy the countertop random stuff still life.
On the plus side, I made the lovely blue tiles and laid the countertop myself.
Later, friends who were not sharing my path of starting a family right away after graduation and marriage told me the same thing.  So, while they made bread to feel a sense of accomplishment and closure while writing a long dissertation on... well, not on gardening and painting trim and being pregnant, that's for sure, I began making bread to practice feeling like the trim and baby were moving forward.

You know what?  It really helped!  I can recommend the bread baking closure technique for the long projects of baby creation as well as thesis writing.  I decided to go do that as my babies went to middle and high school.  That took lots of bread, just like the waiting for the kids.  I'm pretty good at making bread now and it has been passed down to my child.

Practice the act of creation, both long term and short.  I've decided to look for a more challenging job (I've been a bit of a chicken about this and stayed in my outgrown comfort zone for too long) and to celebrate the decision I made what I expect will be the first in a long line of bread loaves.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I love snow.

I love when I go into a store from a parking lot and come out to a wintery white snow dance!!

That's what happened. I was grinning like a fool and taking a picture of the back of my car as people just arriving from work were getting in and out of the cars around me with frowns, grumbles, and mean looks at my joyful back window! Imagine! They really are missing the joy part of weather.

I held my breath so it wouldn't warm up the window as I focused to get this. 
I even got a picture of a flake. ONE FLAKE shot from the inside of my car through the window.

Yes, we have to shovel and walk dogs in weather just like everyone else. But I haven't stopped being delighted about snow and I don't expect it to change any time soon.

Friday, January 25, 2013

B- Book of Shadows Parts

Draftsman's tape is my best friend.
The Table of Contents of my BOS will not be compete until I have written on the last page. I add to it each time I have added a section and put the page number beside it.  I number the pages about 10 at a time (front only) and as I fill them I try to leave room for later additions. I will have places where I put the same category of information in two parts of the book, or in two books, no doubt. Spells will keep happening and I will record the most basic and the more elaborate along with the results.
Each entry goes in nice and straight
 thanks to the movable draftsman's tape
across the bottom.
 I record the basic ones because I look at this book as a record to succeed me for the next generation and the most elaborate because I have often not tried them before and I want to make a record and notes later.

To keep my writing nice and straight on pages where I think it is important, like this one, I use a guide of draftsman's tape along the bottom as a guide. It is white in the picture. I also took a piece of tape and marked it with writing guidelines and stuck it down the side of the page. I moved it over to the far left in the picture above, but it usually is at the margin of the contents page. Just keeping your eye on the spacing makes a big difference in how neatly you write.
Sneaky little post-it behind a page with pressed field flowers.
The flowers are awaiting a love spell worthy of them.

One other trick for writing neatly is to put VERY bold lines on a post it and stick it behind the page. You can barely see the lines but in a good light it is enough to guide me to neatnes. I like the post it because you can tilt it any way you like so you have angled lines, but not ones that look drunk. Although the curvy drunken lines have design possibilities too- I save them for my regular Art Journal.

Two little tabs at the back of this heart make the hinges. When its down, you can't see the intent statement, just the charm.
When I record a spell working or a charm I often put a little flap of something beautiful on top of part of the information. So, the picture shows you the record of the charm and spell parts, but the actual spell was cast long ago and the amulet and charm were made of materials I could deliver. It is on one of the pages in the LOVE section, so the title of the section is right above them. This page just inspires me with love and I often open to it when I am working with love and commitment.

For more flaps, look back to the top of the page opposite the contents table for the watercolor leaf flap and this little darling made of vellum leaf shapes. It is tricky to get the picture, but you can see that the vellum layer has bold writing and is attached with leaf hinges cut out of the same paper. Underneath, there is a drawn  leaf shape and intent statement in fine pen.  It's it the Plants section, which is different from the Herbs section in my book.

Napping with scissors.

Probably one of my favorite sections is the Crystals section and it is one of the simplest! I put a handful of my smaller working crystals onto a digital copier and spent a day of self pampering ( at the end of a cold) drinking tea in bed and cutting them out and writing a little correspondence info for each one. I glued them with the nifty glue pen and had a great time.
Can't you picture me in pajamas, balancing tea, with a bed full of  scissors, paper snips and sharp stones? Comfy!
I originally planned to color them, but I know the colors and I love the look of the graphic black, white & gray page.

The material I use to attach things with bulk or things that can't be stuck with glue is simple paper! I just make some very snug carriers, glue them down and slide the item in. Have you tried to glue a feather and still have it look good? It can't be done, they shed everything (which is why, I'm guessing, birds are not flying around with crumbs and suet and dust and leaves stuck all over them).

The glue, tape and other tools I use are not very exotic, except for the special PVA bookmaking glue from Paper Source. It is very dry and quick- so the page doesn't buckle as its painted on and you can glue it from one edge completely to the other. Rubber cement is the same way if you use it sparingly. I love the Scotch glue pen (probably from the scrapbook section although I don't keep a scrapbook of the family record kind) because it has a sponge at one end and a little tip at the other. Precise.

The tapes are drafting tape and double sided tape. I seldom use regular desk tape in my BOS.

I try to keep my paper stash small. I am only partly successful.
 I fear what would happen if I went into the scrapbook aisle.
I saved the bast for last- PAPER!  Any paper is fair game for a decoration in an Art Journal but the papers for my BOS run to two groups: functional and dull or unusual and limited. Below are both: a little envelope for carrying a poppet, charm or sigil and paper strips offcut from some flash cards I made this week for a student. They can become terrific things or be used to patch, hinge or tie down something more interesting. The brown handmade journal on the bottom is really one text block of a larger journal I made, but this one was damaged so it has been demoted to the paper box to be cut up.

Since some of my studies and work are of the local Pennsylvania German folk magic I have manuscript sized pages copied from a local 19th C German language newspaper which I have distressed with all manner of things. Some of it I use for book covers and some has been cut up for borders, sigils and other work. Lots of the ads on the back are for herbal cures of the time, dowsers and other services done with energy. (I interview people which is easier to do than you would think- ("aunts and parents"- they will seldom admit to using folk magic themselves even though they report activities and traditions to me that clearly ARE folk work. I find that many of the traditions of people I meet have not changed that much from what I read in the few 19th C texts published around here in German and translated).

The rare papers are personal to me- paper from Nepal that my Dad brought me after he returned from living in an orphanage in Nepal run by Curry without Worry. He was teaching higher math there. The blue vellum paper is probably the only commercial scrapbook paper- also from a family member and I am a sucker for see through layers!

The plain journals from Moleskine come with a pocket in the back. In there I keep vellum envelopes (I crinkled one to see how it would look and I think It will look great holding something dark!). I can glue them into the book or use them to hold something I will later burn. A business card for a really good Occult shop I visited and some notes to add to the journal later. Last, there is a little strip of paper from the same journal paper just to cut up and make a patch when my ink goes blob or my head can't spell. Which is pretty regularly.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

It's only shiny and pretty when you're warm.

It started to snow last night, just as I got home. I love snow and if it's gonna be cold and wintry outside, I think we should get snow just to cheer us up and make going outside fun and shiny.

An' it IS cold. Cold cold coldcoldcold. Brrrr "where are my mittens?" cold. Too cold to camp outside in a canvas tent dressed as a colonial camp follower. Since I am pretty tough, it has to be  COLD for me to say that.

You see, I reenact the American Revolution all year long in PA and the surrounding states from early March until Christmas day when Washington crosses the Delaware River.  If at all possible I sleep in a canvas wedge tent and weather is NO object. I'm a little bit tough that way. Rain, I'm in. Cold, hand me that straw and I'll burrow right under it. Snow... snow is like the prize at the bottom of the box! If I have to be cold when I climb out of my straw and get back into my petticoats and stays and cap I delight in seeing snow outside my tent flap! Then I go and break the ice on top of the water in our wash pans and put the pail on to boil over our open fire.  But I digress...

At home, I'm a little bit like that too with the snow. De-lighted. I looked out the window 19 times last night before bed to see if it was sticking- YES! It's been 50 degrees for weeks out there, finally we have a cold front and the snow is staying! (I am alone in my snow glee, sadly. Bearded Bob does not share my joy. We will hear SO much more about the differences in our approach to nature in the future, I promise you. For now I will illustrate our difference this way:  As we sat and enjoyed doggie time last night I said, "AH, snow for walking tomorrow morning." and BB replied, "Yeah, I heard it was snowing outside on Facebook." Then we looked at each other and laughed.)

So, back to last night. The dogs would much rather sleep on the bed than the floor but I hate when they sleep on top of the covers and pin me down. It's like being trapped in a coffin. So, I throw them off the bed about twice each night because apparently they are too dumb to stay home and feed themselves for a weekend but smart enough to tell when I've fallen asleep.

Last night at 2 am I wake up, wake the dogs up and make them get down, then hear a big crash in the wind outside and see a bright flash like lightning. Last time I saw that a tree fell and our backyard caught on fire but this time, nothing visible going on. When I turned around to go back to sleep post dog-scolding I saw that my clock is out. The power is out. I got up, the whole side of our street is out as far as I can see.

We called the power company and reported the outage and they said they had gotten other calls, they were sending a truck full of big guys. Nothing to do but go back to sleep.

3am. Third dog scolding.
3:10 am. Dogs back. Whaat? Oh, they're getting cold. I caved and let them in the bed. I then spent the rest of the night listening to them dream and feeling all eight paws chase rabbits. BB is in heaven. He loves a good dog sandwich.
Zambonie au Vin.
5 am. Still awake. I have decided that this dachshund would fit just perfectly into our crock pot.
6:30 am. Oh happy time! Everyone please jump on and off the bed while BB gets dressed to take you out in the beautiful snow while I try to cop a few minutes of sleep without my arms pinned to my sides. Oh yes, and give me a Licky Facial as soon as you finish your breakfast because I love the smell of dogfood in the morning. Smells like... victory.

Woah! no, it smells like no power! So BB goes off to work happy because there isn't enough to shovel out there because of the wind and I have two FROZEN puppers burrowing back into my covers because I have the only heater in the house inside my body. Get. me. outta. here.

But no. I am working from home all day today. Brilliant. I leave them in the bed warm and I get up because I'm in such a bad mood from no sleep and rabbit chasing and (I feel like I might be ranting a little, can you hear it?) cold dog-food-breath noses and AUUG! no coffee maker. The floor is freezing and did I mention I sleep naked and there are big linemen in bulky snowsuits on every pole at bedroom window level??? Shouting to one another.

Holy crap. Why do I keep putting off buying a robe?

I turn the shower on to drip to prevent pipe freeze, pile all the blankets on the triumphant and gloating sad frozen doggies and go down the (possibly icy) stairs thinking about dramatic thoughts of how I will work hard on something to stay warm today. I take my cold cup of yesterday's coffee over to the thermometer to see just how grave my situation is and it reads 50 degrees! FIFTY. The very number I thought was too warm outside for weeks.

Then I see a shouting bulky lineman walking through my yard toward the other guy on the pole. Red faces, they look really cold. They are at work. I am suddenly very humble in my freezing fifty degree castle with no wind. They have to stay outside where it MUST me more miserable than anything I have ever volunteered to enjoy while camping. I am not tough, we have blankets and straw mattresses and a fire! They have their gloves off and are using tools.

I'm hanging my head. There are people who live on the street, they are outside too. They. are. tough.

I sat right down and drank my cup of leftover cold coffee and began to give thanks. I have a roof. I have a floor. I can't believe it, I complained about how cold the floor was and then I put on warm shoes. I have warm shoes. Coffee in a cup. I didn't even light a candle this morning as I do on so many mornings when I sit and meditate. It just didn't feel right to have even that warmth and light. It felt right all of a sudden to be uncomfortable and thankful. I was thankful for matches and candles though.

I am thankful for cold. And for the fact that I look at snow and think its a shiny, wonderful prize.

...then, the power came on and I heard the coffee maker and heater start. Just as I was sitting there deciding that I would work in the cold house today and keep appreciating my roof and floor and laptop battery. Thank you, Goddess.

Tomorrow, I will light that candle.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I am a sucker for a little praise!!!

First of all I would like to say thank you to GreenMan at the Green Man Chronicles for giving me the Liebster Award. As a new blogger, the feedback from other bloggers can make the difference between posting or putting it off. Knowing that someone reads my words and enjoys my posts and pictures helps me visualize a few readers out there and that really inspires me to tell good stories.

For those bloggers and readers who are unfamiliar with this award, “The Liebster Award" is given to up and coming bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers. The word ” Liebster” comes from German and can mean the sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, most beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.”

Here are the Rules for this Award

Thank the person who nominated you.

When you receive the award, you post 11 random facts about yourself and answer the 11 questions asked by the person who nominated you.

Pass the award onto 6 other blogs (while making sure you notify the blogger that you nominated them!) You write up 11 NEW questions directed towards YOUR nominees. 

You are not allowed to nominate the blog who nominated your own blog!

You paste the award picture into your blog. (You can Google the image, there are plenty of them!)

11 Random Facts

  1. I spiked the maraschino cherries with bourbon so the kids wouldn't eat them all and they did anyway.
  2. I found the only swimming club in our area that had families of all races and joined because I didn't like the lack of diversity my children saw in their suburban public school every day.
  3. I went to Texas to visit my sister and came back with a tiny rescued silky white Dachshund.
  4. I am 6 feet 1 inch tall.
  5. I am a colonial reenactor in the 6th PA Regiment. I was already accomplished in many historic textile skills like spinning and weaving when I began because I love textile history.
  6. I have a green thumb which feeds the local deer and groundhogs nicely.
  7. I am living with Bi-polar disease. It is well managed by medicine so for years my life has been just AWESOME. 
  8. I call my sister Glenda and she calls me Elphaba.
  9. Today I got to look up correspondences for a new baby boy's birth and tell his family congratulations. I love doing that.
  10. One of my children died at age 19.  Heartbreaking, of course.
  11. I really need to clean out the fridge.

Questions from GreenMan

1. What inspires you to blog? 

  • Learning about and being a witch, a pagan, a mom, a good companion to my friends and partner are very different. I have found lots of information about pagan practice on the web, but few places where you can just see someone living the life. My goal with Walk the Circle's blog is to let others see what a pagan life looks like. Maybe to leave out some of the really dull stuff that actually is here, but maybe not.
2. What advice would you give to other bloggers? 

  • Look at the blogs you like and see how those bloggers use the format. I don't mean the cute wallpaper background (which I am terrible at, as you can see from complete FAIL at matching the background color today). The ratio of photo to text on the page, what kind of photos. You will work on your blog if it appeals to you as an audience member too.
3. What is your favorite book?

  • Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh as a child. Lolita by Victor Nabokov as an adult. 

4. If you won a million dollars what would you do with it?

  • Invest in an income producing account. Give some each year to women's charities. Use it to buy a woodsy cabin or beachy cabin  for an annual gathering of far-flung family. Repair the roof. Reinvest the leftover each year.
5. If you could, would you go back to school and for what?

  • I am so blessed to have already gone back to school for a Master's degree. I would study Neuroscience if I could go back again. And I would learn how to use a slide rule.
6. What did you want to grow up to be when you were a kid?

  • A Biologist. Marine biology, neuroscience... I wanted to be a doctor of anything that is tiny and fascinating. In my present job I diagnose and make a plan to help children who are different learners. I read lots of neuroscience now.
7. Have you ever traveled outside of your country of origin?

  • Yes. All over Europe. That leaves a lot of places still to see!
8. What is your favorite thing to make?

  • A big mess! I love to sew, dye, knit, cook, garden. I have no use for computer games or gossip.
9. If you do magic, what kind do you use most often?

  • Very practical things, like herb cures, amulets for protection, and many many kitchen and nature spells to make life better. A little romance spell at home now and then. Attraction spells work well for me but I try not to use magic when I should be using hard work. I give thanks a great deal.
10. If you garden, what is your favorite things about it?

  • The veil of green than happens for one or two days in the very early part of spring. Just half a bud on each bush is peeping out and everything has that look of yellow-green fog shrouding it.
11. What is the ultimate answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything?

  • Everyone thinks it is 42, but it's really: Get lots of sleep, stay in the shade and never wash your face with soap.  I look a good 10 years younger than my friends of my own age and my younger sister because of the sleep and no sun thing. I just hate being hot in the sun, I even garden at night.  My teen daughter asked both Glenda and I separately one time about our beauty regime and we each said the same thing: "never use soap on your face". We were as surprised as she was! We think it comes from our mom having psoriasis and using mainly warm water and washcloths to bathe us so her hands could take it.

My 11 QUESTIONS for the new winners:

  1. How do you get your exercise
  2. What is the most challenging thing about this blog for you?
  3. What have you done that deserves a big High-Five?
  4. Describe the person you should really kick out of your life.
  5. Invent an entirely new kind of pet. Describe.
  6. Would you have robot servants if you could?
  7. Why do you think athletes continue to be role models?
  8. Who is your role model and why?
  9. Chocolate cake or White? Icing?
  10. What makes you work really hard right now?
  11. What was the last thing you did as spiritual practice?

My Nominations

Judy's Photos

I'm not Hannah

Mid-Stride MOXIE!

Friday, January 18, 2013

B: Book of Shadows

My tool carrier full of drawing supplies can move with me to wherever I am working on my BOS.
I remember how curious I was about contemporary books of shadows. I could get an idea of the ancient, illuminated super fancy ones of the past, but what about today's? Surely everyone is not supposed to have that level of skill and time for this? Will an incantation written on a bar napkin or a legal pad work?

Good news, of course they will. Especially if your working involves a bartender or a lawyer.

But since I wondered, I bet some of you wonder. Today's Pagan Blog Project contribution is a little tour of what goes into making my own BOS.
I only use Red for my Book of Shadows      photo: Treehugger .com

The Book itself
is a red Moleskine hard cover 5" x 8.5" Artists Journal  I have been keeping black hardcover Moleskine journals full of ideas and sketches for years. I love that they have that nifty little elastic band attached to keep them closed and a pocket in the back. They also have that fancy pantsy ribbon to mark your page. I am a sucker for those.
Top, black everyday journal, bottom, BOS

I addition to the archival paper in the journal I have glued paper from old BOS books into my present BOS. I never kept one as nicely as this before, it was more like just running lab notes.  I don't think I'm going to move things forward anymore, just begin a second red journal when this one fills.  I'm not super fussy about what I attach to this book, index card stock, notebook paper, feathers and pressed flowers as well as copier paper all are in there.

Pens and ink
Writers and Artisits can be really emotional about pens. I have only put on the table the ones I am using frequently on my BOS, but as you can see, I have a whole zinc tool carrier full of glass cups and each of THOSE is full of pens, pencils brushes and other journaling supplies.It sits on my beautiful oval walnut desk (the first desk I ever picked out for myself!) and does its "let's not get too serious here" job.  Fine lines, permanent ink and beautiful lettering are my needs in a pen. I use Pigma Microns and Staedtler fineliners have been my faves ever since I found them a l o n g time ago. I have a Hunt quill and Speedball calligraphy pen for dipping into ink too. Last, I have Noodlers fountian pens- the black one is extra flexible for sketching and the orange one is stiff for writing. I also love Noodlers ink, they make great products and the packaging is full of rambling thoughts of the owner. check out the reasonably priced pens and ink at Goulet Pens.

Beloved watercolor pencils turn my sketches into paintings!
Oh! What can you say about coloring? I love it, and I always do it after the drawing part. I have found that even when I use a paintbrush I seem to always draw, so now I stick to sketching my ideas into my BOS, lettering things carefully and then going back in and adding color to the pages on another day.  The Noodler's inks that I use are called "bulletproof" and are made for security on documents. Not only do they not run, they can't (according to the package) be removed by bleach, oven cleaner or any other method check forgers know about.

I love using watercolor pencils by Prismacolor and also Derwent pencils. It's like a paint with water picture, you just draw, wet your brush with plain water and brush over the parts you want to smooth or blend. Magical! Sometimes I will use my regular journal to make notes about something that I will later do up nicely in my BOS. Sometimes I just dive right in. It's not supposed to be perfect, it's supposed to be personal.

Next week: more Book of Shadows...
Catagories and how I keep track,
other inclusions and ways to attach them.
hinge, hanger, tuck, pocket, glue

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Imbolc on the way!

Photo Gemmi Fuchsbau
I am so excited to see snowdrops poking up this week, even though we have hardly had any snow. I would love to find a few pots of these to put on the table at my upcoming Imbolc brunch.  I'm planning dairy foods, seed packets (and maybe blessings for the seeds) and corn crosses. This year, I plan to make Bride's mantles by putting out fine fabric on the windowsill in the moonlight the night before.  I want to give the seeds and mantles to my guests for growth and good health throughout the coming year. They may be kids there, and if so, I plan to have them make a bed for the corn doll we made last fall in camp as a Brigit's bed, and then add a wand for her to slumber with to spark the fertility we need to make the Earth grow again. I'll be sure to take a few photos, and I'll supply some recipes as soon as I settle on the menu.

Meanwhile... YAY Snowdrops!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Dan Brown's Inferno -buckle up!

Gustave DorĂ© - Dante Alighieri - Inferno: Canto VII - Hoarders and Wasters  -Wikipedia  
These guys are pushing big heavy bags of money.  Beautiful.

This morning just before 9 am EST the title and topic of the next Dan Brown book was announced. As a fiction reader I am excited.  As a witch I am excited too, because I appreciate some of the effects his fiction and his research have had on the understanding that there are many kinds of worship rituals and that they evolve.
I have not read the galleys. This is not a book review. It is a few thoughts about what happens with touchy religious topics are introduced to the mainstream.

After each of the bestseller releases of Dan's books I have noticed the same things: A fundamentalist outcry that reading such analysis of the Bible will send you to hell AND a well reasoned, effective conversation about the research in the book, and the origins of the symbols, art and ideas. And a recognition that they are not just twisted Bible scripture. That non-modern views and non-mainstream christian views of faith are not merely twisted bible words but illustrations of how many kinds of opinion and expression have been inspired by the search to understand the divine.
Stradano Inferno Map, also Wikipedia
We will hear the same outcry, and I suspect, the same reasonable conversation around this book, based on the main character's exploration of Dante's Inferno, from his Divine Comedy. I will learn more about Dante's work than I did in high school and maybe be inspired to read some of his original (translated) text. Better than that, I will be exposed to the ideas of others who have already examined Dane's writing. And I will have, I hope, an enjoyable mystery story too.

Will the specter of Lucifer (also examined in the book, I understand) be bad for witches and pagans? For some people, the same ones who won't read or maybe even touch the book, yes. People who want to judge  are gonna judge. But for the non-pagan thinking folks, I hope this will just be one more way to get the vocabulary of christian, pagan, worship and ritual words delivered to a larger audience. Dan has always represented worship and ritual as sacred to those who practice it and I expect the same kind of thing as the scaffolding for his latest fiction story.

There is one way I can think of that this book could be bad for witches and pagans, so please don't dress up as anything from the book. Just read, and be prepared with thoughtful answers for the Lucifer questions.

Monday, January 14, 2013

New Old Loom: its own little circle

To clean rust in these very tiny gaps (15 gaps per inch) I began with steel wool, then tried wire brushing after WD 40.
I am travelling around the edge of a new circle. Eventually, I will travel the smaller and smaller paths as I spiral toward the center of it.  I call this circle New Old Loom.

Weaving is a much used and often overused metaphor for working on your life, but like so many things, weaving comes with its own WHOLE LIFE. I was gifted a wonderful old floor loom (read about it here: Asking + Action = Attraction . So, I get to weave. Grow. Create and contemplate while doing it.  I have a New Old Loom and along with it I have been gifted hours and hours of assembly and rust removal. Contemplative time.
Next, I tried other grades of steel wool and tiny strips of fine sandpaper. I can make the outside shiny but the inside remains rough. I tested the "cleaned" spaces with the little piece of 40/2 linen, and it frays. As a last resort, Naval Jelly will turn the rust into a neutral coating that I can scrub off.  I taped the wrapped-thread rails to keep the Naval Jelly off them and followed the instructions. I include all of this because when I searched the web for hints on cleaning rusted reeds I found very little. Mostly, advice that it can't be done well enough and the reed must be replaced.  Plus, I find pictures reassuring, maybe the next reed cleaner will enjoy finding these.
I am trying to make the rust work as enjoyable as possible by lighting candles or incense, visualizing the wonderful woven goods that will roll from my beams after I have my darling's parts smooth, even having a lovely cup of tea handy. This last is kind of tricky because I am wearing a dust mask while I use all the steel wool and stuff. I could probably design a tasty tea delivery system to work with the mask if I weren't so committed to staying focused on this rust until it is gone. No distraction. No project hopping.

Project hopping will take me out of this circle and make me start another circle. I want to stay put.

Those would be some legendary parties, though.
This is where the biggest obstacle to weaving lies. While I rub and polish and sand and Never Ever swear at all I have my mind on a leash so it doesn't wander completely off and go shopping for the materials to build a yacht. Or a fence around our raised beds. Or teach the dachshund to balance on my big exercise ball. Wouldn't that be awesome? She could do it at parties and our parties would become legendary! Woah- pull back... It's kind of a bungee leash, so I am always having to pull my wandering mind back from somewhere where another project looks much better than this one.

The project my mind is on is seldom a project already underway. Those projects are not interesting and my skibbly little mind has explored them as much as needed because they were the mind-wandering destinations for previous hobby activities. Hobbies can eat your house, and vice versa, but I don't want to live without either one (I have friends who would happily live without a house if they could bed down in a Hobby Lobby or Michael's at night).

So, radio. I am not a big background sound person, but keeping the radio on might keep me from dreaming up a more compelling project than rust removal. Let's face it, after 4 hours of smoothing little delicate rusted reed fins and heddles replacing all the wax rings under the toilets is more compelling.

If I am going off on a non-weaving mental stroll and the radio doesn't work I want to at least redirect my head to wander over and think through some of those half done... mostly done projects I have that fall more firmly into the category of Home Repair and Improvement than Hobby. I often confuse them because I enjoy working on the house so much. Its just as satisfying as creating, just less portable. I hope this works, because my ability to picture how good it's going to look when the last piece of molding goes into place is blinding me a little to how many little "finish-ups" there are here. Stay tuned, Divine Reader. I pledge to report honestly on whether or not I am working on new or old projects.

Back to the rust part of the weaving circle.
After two rounds of Naval Jelly, the reed is covered with a film of black ex-rust and grey phosphorus coating. I can scrub this off the outside with steel wool and brass brushes (see the stripes where I tried each one), but between the fins the metal remains pitted and rough. It seems like the advice was right- if I want a reed this fine I need to buy a new smooth one.  Drat! 5 hours of subborn effort decides it. I will send for a stainless 10 dent reed

Friday, January 11, 2013

A is for Amulet charm bundle

Many years ago I wondered what a REAL Book of Shadows looked like. Mine looks like this. 
Amulets are one of my favorite things to make, and a really nice way to bear in mind an intention you are working to make real. They are like little tangible thoughts, and may be accompanied by gestures, words or sigils. A charm can just BE a word or sigil, it you desire. If it is a word, you can time it so it is said at the perfect moment, when the sun just sets or when you drop a bulb into a hole. 

The charms I make address a specific intent, like protection, love or attraction.  The right time of the moon is always taken into consideration, waning, waxing or Full. I don't make charms on the New moon, it is time for other things. I think of a charm as an offering for the Goddess I ask to help, a focus to frequently remind me of the intention I held while making it and to act as a passive reminder.  In my studies of local Pennsylvania and other rural folk magic and medicine there is frequent use of verbal and bundle charms. The amulet I am sharing today is a bundle charm.

Hand sewing is something I love, it is meditative and takes time. So, I gather my hand sewing supplies and some linen fabric too make the outside of the amulet, the bag. 
Using a rectangle about 2" by 4" folded it in half I stitch around the outside edge on two sides. One side is open, so the square is turned inside out, edges pressed with the bone folder (in the picture I have one carved like a feather) and stitched again with linen thread all the way around 3 sides. Fold the raw edges of the forth side in and stitch it partway shut.  These two seams are tight enough to hold herbs or salt inside the bag.

Now is the time to get the rest of the amulet supplies you will need. You know what you need to do your magic work, I can only show you a bit of what you might find here.

I gather my sewing supplies and stitch two sides of my folded linen rectangle using plain thread. Also pictured, red silk thread, needle case with spare horn buttons attached, carved bone folder, blue checked linen I didn't need today, thimble.
 Folk magic uses red thread and salt frequently, so before I begin the filling I make a final round of stitches using red silk thread. My desire is knotted into the red thread, in this case I made 5 knots, you can see them in the last picture. I stopped the red stitches short of the opening too. Salt, rosemary, quartz, a tiny felt heart and my words to Brigid and Aphrodidte went inside.
Linen fabric, sewing tools, little gemstones (I buy them on strings) salt, anointing oil, your hair, or your written intent could go into the amulet. I also included herbs and a small candle made of beeswax and an old earring from my hubby.

Note to the goddesses I am addressing on linen.
String of gems to choose from. Anointing oil and salt.
On different page of my BOS I recorded the details of a special
amulet a fellow asked me to make for his uniform coat.

 Include what ever things support your intentions and work to your purpose.
Of course the salt goes everywhere! Mugwort, rosemary, garnet and red wool heart went in next along with the candle.
When filled and stitched, my amulet was dedicated  and anointed before I put out the candle I used to focus.
See the place of 5 little knots in the red thread?

The soldier's protection and wholeness amulet was sewn within the coat itself, but you can feel it through the pocket.

Carry yours in your pocket or around your neck, or place it in a room or in the garden.