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30 November 2014


I danced naked on a stage
soaking in the warmth
eager to feel my body
glide and tense
with the sliding breaths
of a singing violin.

Morning comes
and pain blossoms
with lifting eyes
and I wish.

I will stand
and stomp and
spin -
the crescendo
drawing me higher
to ecstasy.

This poem is inspired by real toads, real life, Lindsey Stirling, stripping, and tai chi

29 November 2014

the Wildwood Tarot deck

I got a new tarot deck, the Wildwood Tarot deck by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, art by Will Worthington. The first card to greet me when I opened the package had a picture of a stoat. I love stoats! And weasels and ferrets. So yeah, that's a good sign.

But the stoat is in the middle of the deck, and I like to begin at the beginning: with the Fool. In this deck, the Fool is called the Wanderer. There are many naming differences in this deck. The Magician is the "Shaman," the High Priestess is the "Seer," et cetera. Some of the differences were less obvious than those, and I had to check the numbers. I actually figured out the Archer (the Chariot) by the feel of the card and remembering approximately where the Chariot would be in the deck. But the Stag, number 8? Had to check, then felt silly because I had known number 8 was Strength... except that the description of the Stag does not fit with the traditional Strength card... and number 11 in the Wildwood deck, called the Woodward, does have the same meaning as the traditional Strength card. Soooo.... yeah, there are some differences. I think I may have to treat this deck almost as a more complicated oracle deck when I'm learning it, rather than trying to transfer my understanding (which is rudimentary anyway) of traditional tarot deck over to this one. That just won't work.

Other differences I expected, such as the overall feel of the deck. Where my steampunk deck is all hard truths and impassioned motivators, the Wildwood deck is deep truths with ancestral roots and a flair for verdancy. There's something solemn about these cards. Even the most light-hearted images - like the stoat - do not diffuse that abiding stoic presence.

The Wildwood deck is a radical departure from the easygoing and blunt playfulness of my Steampunk deck. Frankly, it's intimidating.

I'm both eager and apprehensive. I'm not sure I have the focus right now that this deck demands. Then again, perhaps they all require that same focus, and this one just won't let me get away with less (in contrast to my Steampunk deck, which allows me to get away with it, and my Animal Oracle deck, which is so familiar to me that we almost speak the same language).
Well that's an uncomfortable idea.

Here's where my stubbornness tries to kick in and lead me to jump into this new project - working with the Wildwood deck - all plans and good intention. But no, not this time. I'm working hard to insert common sense into my scheduling practices, and in this case that means not diving into a new and demanding project until my other demanding projects are finished. My foolish desire to rebel against intimidation be damned - this deck deserves my complete attention, and I'll wait until I can give it.

26 November 2014

an unread letter

24A going north:
race me, clouds.
I'm waiting with strangers,
our days numbered
in alphanumerics.
We are shadows
in our seats
held in relief
until our feet touch down again.

This poem was inspired by the imaginary garden, Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, an unread letter, and the real toad from seat 24A, flying north, who gave us a word list:

fly, race, skew, waiting, strangers, clouds, dirt, shadows, horizon, contour, relief, scale

18 November 2014

no knowing why

I was playing on my fridge tonight.
I wrote this for you.
No knowing why.

mysterious sand dimension
her frontier
no knowing why

she would eye space
like a nova come newly
here is the lost
like a deep star past]

12 November 2014

I'm so very tired of this.

I am completely at my wit's end.

This morning, every word out of my child's mouth was defiant. It took him two hours to take a shower and put clothes on. I had to miss my morning job.

This afternoon, I left him home for four hours so I could go to work. He was supposed to use that time to work on school. When I got home, he had answered 10 questions in one assignment. He had used the rest of the time to watch Transformers on Netflix, which he attempted to conceal by closing out the browser window. His school is online, so having no browser window open when he's "working on homework" was suspicious. Of course I checked the recent browsing history. We had planned to watch a movie together tonight. Instead, we did his school work right up until his early bedtime.

While getting ready to tuck him in, and adjusted the pillow on his bed. When I picked up the pillow, I saw a shiny new cell phone. Not his. I asked whose it was. He said he didn't know. Actually, he shrugged while giving me that deer-in-headlights look. I asked where he got it from. He didn't remember. No really, I said. Where. He mumbled something about my desk. Then I remembered I had a brand new, in-the-box Motorola Droid on a shelf in my desk. Looked at the phone. Yep, it was a Droid.

This... child... had stolen the phone out of the packaging, reassembled and returned the packaging so that I couldn't tell it had been touched, and then - did what? I don't know. There's no SIM card in the phone. If you turn it on, it tells you to either make an emergency call or shut it back off. But he did something. The camera lens on the phone is shattered. Completely. As though someone took and ice pick and a hammer to it. He says he can't remember. I don't believe that at all, but I couldn't see anything useful coming out of my mouth at that point, so I walked out of his room, shutting the light off and closing the door behind me.

That's $500 I don't have, gone in a child's lie. I didn't need the phone, but I had planned on selling it so I could afford to get him some decent Christmas presents this year.

I wanted to scream.
I wanted to hit something.
Mostly I wanted to cry.

This is becoming a pattern. Today wasn't unusual. The phone bit is unusual, but the deception isn't. The more I work away from home, the worse he gets. I can't afford to pay someone to come hang out with him unless I work a lot more. If I work less, we don't get to keep our comfy house.

I'm all out of ideas.

bitter holiday

all rank and file
and shining brass
fruit salad on your chest
parades and poppies
get lost in the dress

hero signs hang
around your neck
hang you up
so proud on display
of your better days
what are you now?

that emptiness
won't guide your steps
your happy home
went on without you
getting in the way
and all the thank yous know
you've seen better days

it's done it's over
you can't go back
you can't become
something new
your pedestal clings
and chafes
and hollows you out
while rabid onlookers
won't let you down

you're just a symbol now
all your lives
all your wretched loss
a talking point
and reality is
elusive as the solid ground

and there is no moving on
for the hollow heroes left behind

This poem was inspired by American Pie in the imaginary garden, Veteran's Day, and these three articles. Actually, four. Want to help a vet? Save your thanks. Instead, help us change this

11 November 2014

nightingales sing against the dark

This has been a long time coming.
Songs don't come easy
in the light.
Don't give up on me.

My song is broken, sharp.
They see some smooth melodies
skipping through the stars:
so pretty, so sweet;
I hear its cracked harmonies
stumble in the clear blue sky.

Mine is a song that bubbles through rocks,
seeping between
the crushing earth,
pushing back
against the pain -

This has been a long time building.
Can't give up on  me.
Singing to myself
in dark corners
growing light, creating faith
in unknowing;
something could change

This post was brought to you by nightingales in the imaginary garden with real toads, the duality of life with mental illness, and the hope that you don't actually know what happens next

09 November 2014

Bones' Apothecary: Oleander

So we moved into this new house a couple months ago, and there are several gigantic oleander plants out back. They're big enough and thick enough to function as a very tall privacy hedge between my back yard and the rest of the world. They have very pink flowers.

Not having had oleanders to care for before, I looked them up.
Turns out they're completely poisonous, so obviously people consume them for medicinal purposes.

I gotta say, that seems less than smart to me.

(I recently had an idea for a story about what would happen if all the warning labels were removed from quasi-dangerous products. Of course, the people behind the removal would probably be some secret eugenicist society. I'm taking bets on how much of our population would be wiped out in short order.)

Anyway, I harvested as many of the dried flowers as I could reach and ended up with two full gallon-sized jars of the things. It looks like the plants are just beginning to grow seed pods (very bean-like in appearance), so I should have a harvest of those, soon, too. For now, I just have the dried flowers. They dry right on the stem, by the way, and if I catch them before they fall and get smooshed by running dogs and kid(s), they're quite pretty.

A picture I took of some of the blossoms still on the bush.

The dried and harvested flowers.

I've listed the dried flowers in my etsy shop, under the Apothecary section.
What else am I going to do with all these flowers?
I think they'd be useful for spellwork or potpourri or, I'm sure, any number of flower-crafty projects.

While researching oleander online, I came across one story in particular. This tale seemed to pop up all over the place, whether I was looking for the plant's mythology or taxonomy. The story goes, in Greek myth a hero named Leander was in love with a maiden (why is it always a maiden?) who was imprisoned (by her father, of course) on top of an island mountain. Every night, Leander would swim across the treacherous seas to visit the girl. One night, a storm more terrible than usual raged while Leander was swimming, and (because ancient Greeks loved tragedy), Leander drowned. The following morning, the distraught girl ran up and down the beach looking for her lover, crying "O, Leander!" over and over. When she found his body, she saw that he had been clutching a flower. She took this flower from his corpse as a symbol of his profound love for her. The flower is now known as Oleander (please tell me you saw that coming).

Okay, so maybe this really is a Greek myth, but that really seems unlikely to me. I mean, it seems unlikely that it's a Greek myth. I'd more easily believe that it's a Victorian England myth masquerading as a Greek myth.

Nevertheless, the oleander flower is thought (these days) to have some potency in spellwork dealing with matters of romantic love.

Personally, I've never tried such work, so I can't give any awesome anecdotes on that.

Some other names for Oleander: nerium oleander, Dogbane, Rose Bay, Desert Rose, Ceylon Tree, Adelfa.

Cunningham, in his Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, associates oleander with femininity, the planet Saturn, the element Earth, and with love.

None of my other herb books mention oleander. None!
Maybe that's because most of my herb books are about herbal medicine, and oleander is a poison.
Don't consume any part of the oleander plant, mm'kay? 

Want some more info? Here's some:

03 November 2014

Samhain reading for the new year

I did this reading on Samhain. Yeah, my schedule's been a bit full. 

Who will guide my home?

The Dog is a guide and a friend, and focuses on the values you hold most sacred.
The Crane is a guide, too, that aids us in transitions and reminds us to be patient.
The Hawk brings perspective and shows us our roots - this will be difficult.

My home is my most sacred space; it is my sanctuary, and my primary source of solace. My recent move into a new home in late August this year feels incomplete - I'm still working on the remnants of the move. Those final boxes have yet to be unpacked, and the blessing of the house has yet to happen. Patience is key, I'm sure. Archer and I moved in together during this move, and the challenges brought up by our sometimes opposing perspectives have been, well, challenging. We'll get through it, but it ain't easy.

Who will guide my son?

The Cow is a strong mother, providing all the nurturing we need.
The Ram brings us home, through persistence and willfulness.
The Stag gives us pride and graceful strength, even under pressure.

I'm taking the Cow as a reminder of my importance to my son. It's not an easy thing for me to remember. Motherhood is something I avoided rather than sought out, and I while I hate the position it puts me in, there's nothing so vital as doing right by him. I'm his guide, and I'll do the best I can. The Ram tells me that his willfulness (which is legendary in our house) should be guided, not stifled. I'm working on that. The Stag gives me hope that he and I will get this figured out for the best.

Who will guide me?

The Adder is a guide through darkness, a healer through death.
The Cat binds the spirit to the body and works toward wholeness - this will be difficult.
The Ram gives the strength to break through barriers while retaining stability.

'A guide through darkness' can only refer to my path through Major Depressive Disorder. It has been particularly bad in recent months. One of my biggest challenges with this has been feelings of alienation from my loved ones and from my own body. My son has been the biggest help in that; his existence pulls me back, because he needs me. He guides me back, every time. ...I wonder if the Ram is one of his totems? 

What will happen in the coming year?

A shift of perspective (Hawk) can bring an ending (Raven) to something emotional; this will be a valuable lesson that will affect motherhood (Cow).
Look clearly, and reevaluate your situation (Fox); you will spend time alone, but your inner strength will guide you (Wolf); do not allow your spirit to neglect your physical needs (Cat).
Pay attention to your spiritual path (Blackbird); someone will remind you to play (Otter) - let them show you, don't be stubborn (Bull).
The hardships you face will become the stepping stones you need (Owl).


01 November 2014

Four Shillings Short & A Samhain Wish

I had - and I mean this, absolutely - the great pleasure honor spiritually deepening ecstasy privilege dumb luck to get to see these two musicians in person on Samhain. They played this song (below) and one other (which I cannot find a video for, to my dismay) during the Samhain ritual I attended, and played on into the night after the ritual.

I lack the words to describe how talented this duo is. I'm completely in love.

(Here's their website, in case you want to check that out.)

This song is beautiful, but its lyrics touched me most deeply.
Take a listen.