Saturday, 19 November 2016

Headed into the darkest part of the year

The lights of Samhain have passed, and now we head into the waning days of autumn, full of rain, little light, and a chill to the bone.

I love this time of year.

I have always found it quite ironic that I enjoyed the fall as much as I do, since I also enjoy the brightness of spring, the heaving bounty. In the autumn, there is a dearth of such plant growth, but more growth within the self and the soul.

This Samhain was marked by a number of firsts.

We attended a wonderful private ritual the night before. We were interrupted a few times by passerby, including some curious and kind of rude people who chose to film and photograph us. Aside from the interruptions, it was a nice ritual with a good journey inward. I found it did help to prepare me for Samhain proper.

Now, as a point - I celebrate Samhain on October 31. Some people celebrate based on the astrological date (in fact, some people insist that any other time is wrong - and you know me well enough by now that I don't let that elitist shit fly with me), but for me, it has always held a special significance on that date. Perhaps it's the echoes of the fact people have been celebrating on that particular date for centuries, or that my dedication was held on Samhain oh so many years ago. I don't know. I always advocate to celebrate whenever you feel suited to do so.

Early that day, I made my traditional apple cider. I have spent years making it, it has become a staple in our household. There's a bit of this and a bit of that in it - I find that spices just warm you to the soul. My very first Samhain I made this over a campfire as I was measured and dedicated.

That night, D and I loaded up the car with kindling, cauldrons and supplies. We drove out to a remote beach right on the Atlantic, and lit our sabbat fire with the waves crashing behind us.

We burned incense, left offerings of honey and cream for the fae, and apples for the landwights. We toasted and boasted and swore our official oaths, we honoured our gods and spirits, and we honoured our ancestors. We burned vestiges of our past, and buried the long dead things that no longer serve.

Afterwards, we left the beach as we had found it, headed back home, and all 3 of us curled up on the couch with some cider and Ghostbusters. :)

A mere 10 days later, we brought our newest family member home.

His name is Aengus, and he is a little spitfire. He is clever and funny and a pain in the ass and a source of stress and a complete and utter joy. We are enjoying forging a relationship with him. The first few days are always hard, and this was no exception. He's had some pretty crazy separation anxiety - but he is learning that we will always come back and he has nothing to fear. I spent a few days on the couch this past week with a cold, and he was great cuddly company. I am looking forward to introducing to more of our friends when he gets his second round of shots.

In a way, he is a wonderful punctuation to what was, in all honesty, a fucking awful year. So many people have expressed that 2016 has not been kind to them, and I am no exception. That said, I feel things are looking up, and I am trying to remain positive going forward.

I am still riding on that chariot energy - moving forward.

I find that it is easy to become introspective and focused inward at this time of year - it is like we starts to hibernate a bit. We start to wind into the dark inward spiral. I think it's very important to have time like this to focus. It gives us clarity and helps us re-evaluate our purpose. It helps us examine our lives and determine what works and what doesn't. Without having that time to reflect, I find myself becoming a bit scattered.  I notice a huge difference this year as compared to last year, as last year I was under a great deal of stress and unable to take time to be introspective.

Now I view it as invaluable, as I have had ample time to reflect.

I intend to enjoy the waning light, enjoy the brisk breeze, and enjoy going forward - don't waste your time looking back, you aren't going that way.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Harvest Home (or reaping the intentions sewn).

The veil is thinning.

I thought I could feel it as we passed Harvest Home, but now with the darkening evenings, the whispers of the other world seem so much closer. I smell the chill in the air, I see figures in the mist and fog. Samhain is coming, and I am ready.

I have spent the last 5 months planting seeds. I have nurtured them, I have given them love and attention, and now I am harvesting the good intentions I have sewn.

First thing is first - we are now car owners.

We have spent the last number of months putting the intentions into place that if my job was renewed, we would get a vehicle. That came to pass when that exact thing happened, and D became debt free at the end of September.

We had researched, had weighed our options, and we decided to get a brand spankin' new Kia Soul. We don't have kids (nor will we), and it's usually just us going place to place. D started a new job this summer, and we now needed a car, not just wanted one.

So, we have one. It is everything I hoped for. I know in the long run it is an extra expense, but we have a rainy day fund started for just such issues (and the fact the car is under warranty for quite a long time). But it is amazing. No more buses for groceries. No more being stuck in the city, having to rely on the kindness of my father-in-law.

So the first thing we did? Went apple picking, of course!

We took a beautiful Sunday and traveled to the Annapolis Valley, to our favourite orchard. We spent time wandering the rows, filling our bags with the sweet fruit that will become crisp and butter and sauce. We thanked the land for being bountiful, despite the wicked drought of the summer.

Afterwards, we spent the afternoon driving around and enjoy nature. We ended up at a little brasserie in Canning, and got to enjoy the views after lunch.

We took some time and drove to Scot's Bay, stopping at the Lookoff along the way. As we were driving past a harvested field, we saw some commotion with a flock of seagulls, and what looked like the remains of a seagull. We wondered what the commotion was until we looked across the field, and dead in the middle of the field, just behind the farmhouse, was a coyote! Ballsy to be out during the day, and far too quick to get a photo, but it's been years since I saw a coyote and it was a good sight.

We got to the Lookoff, where neither of the menfolk has been, and got to look over the valley. It was beautiful.

After going over the ridge, we ended up in Scot's Bay. It's on the Bay of Fundy, which has the highest tides in the world. The parking lot at the beach had a big sign warning people not to park too close, as the tides rise quickly and their car would be flooded. I took a little video, as we got out there as the tide was going out. Quickly at that.

A video posted by Rhi (@thecorvidkey) on

 We meandered back along the ridge and ended up in Grand Pre, and at Evangeline Beach - again, a beautiful day for it. Tide was out, but when it is in, it's up over the nearest rocks.

We made our way slowly back home, and stopped at these limestone cliffs near sunset. The sky was a really weird cyan blue. I don't know why, but I have always wanted to photograph these cliffs!

It was a wonderful, amazing day trip!

I have been working with D to try and suss out our Samhain plans. We are going to a private ritual the day beforehand, and possibly the public ritual. However, on Samhain proper we want to do something we have never  been able to do - go to a beach and have a fire. We have some things we want to close the door on for the past year, and a few remnants of old attachments we want to burn. I am in the midst of doing the research, but it should be a fun night!

Lastly, we have set into motion the last thing on my list for the year - we have adopted a dog!

He is wee. So, so wee. He is a Taco Terrier, and 5 weeks as of this photo. He is coming home on November 10. We have a name chosen, but we're not going to reveal until the official date he comes home. We went to see him, and we just fell head over heels in love with him.

Now comes the real work - puppy-proofing! We have supplies to get (he's puppy pad trained, thankfully), and some setting up to do, but we are over-the-moon excited. Again, we're never having kids, but we always wanted pets.

It's been an eventful month. I am hoping that's all for big change for a long while.

But honestly...

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Pre-Harvest Home and Record Keeping

A blessed Equinox to all!

My hearth and I have yet to celebrate our Harvest Home holiday, but we have plans for next week. It has been hectic in mundane life - I spent the last few weeks doing more training and writing more tests at my job, and I found out my contract was extended for another 4 -6 months, which is welcome news. I wasn't ready for a pay cut, and in fact my wage is going up soon, so that is wonderful. We have been trying to do a lot of research, since we are likely buying a vehicle in the next 10 days or so. We have been making some decisions as we are planning to adopt a dog in the next few months. That on top of the tail end of Mercury retrograde has made for interesting and busy times!

A few weeks ago I tore apart all of my altars around my spiritual nook,  and in part of my restart, set up some simple and dedicated spaces for the gods I work with most - Odin, Freya, the Morrigan. I wanted to have a simpler approach, and to work on continuing to build string working relationships with the gods. For me it is important to separate the spaces, because I think each of those spaces is a place of honour, and you can build the kind of energy you want on each.

Specifically for the Allfather, with offerings of pipe tobacco.

For Freya, her cats, to love and death intertwined.

I also set up a few working altars, and my main seasonal working altar.

I have called this 'the Naughty Step'. Specifically my cursing and left hand space.

My main working seasonal altar. The candle in the front is a spell-in-progress.

I have been doing a little cleansing and reinforcing - I tend to do that this time of year. I made myself a Witch's Ladder to hang in the space to reinforce my wards.

On major thing I have been working on with my restart is magical record-keeping. It's not something I have focused on in a long time - I tend to have a pretty good memory for a lot of things, and I do a lot of things from intuition - but it is something I wanted to really focus on this time around.

There is something inherently magical is writing down all of your intentions, your workings, your learnings. Specifically, I have been working with the runes and writing out pertinent points in my workings. I've been writing out all of my meditations (which I have always done, but have kept up with). I have my journal - where I have written down all of my feelings about things happening in my life that affect my practice, as well as all upcoming ideas and plans. While I have a good memory now, I would like to have these things to look back at in 10 years to see how I have grown and changed. I want to write out all of my successes and failures, so that I can remember them. I want to write out all of the events that have left blackthorns in my heart so that I can move forward in a place of forgiveness and love.

I am a researcher at heart - I am a note taker, I look for patterns, and I like to have the facts to remind me of the mindset I was in at a moment in time, so that I can look back at it when time has had it's effect on memory, to know how I should feel or how I should proceed. If I have a spell that has worked really well that I have intuitively written, I want a record of it. If someone has said something that has an impact, I want a record of it. If I have learned something important, or if a stanza from a poem has spoken to me, I want a record of it.

The modern craft would not exist in the form it does if Gardner and Valiente did not keep records. Doreen Valiente herself had over 100 journals filled with events, workings, and thoughts. Those are invaluable. Though I won't have children, there isn't anything to say my journals and workings would not have value to someone else. Who knows! Maybe I'll adopt a kid at 50 and pass everything on. It's hard to say what the future holds, but I want to keep the past in the present.

I always joke that it's the Ravenclaw in me - always striving for knowledge and learning. Always trying to understand and know the ways of people and the world. It's just my way of holding on to it, preserving it so it is not lost.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

A quick question.

I'm running on some post-ritual bliss right now. I am also exhausted and need to sleep, because we are getting up early to go on a road trip!

I went to a great small Lammas ritual this evening with a few people from the local community. It was a lot of fun, really great energy. The rain held off a bit, though we could use it. My province currently has 3 out of control fires, which is a little concerning.

The wind was strong, we were right by the ocean, and the grey sky was just a lovely backdrop to the whole affair.

One the way out of the park post ritual, we came across a large patch of heather. We harvested a bit, and as soon as I got home the rain started. Heather is associated with calling rain. I feel like I should go harvest a whole damn field, we need rain so badly.

I have another ritual next week (for Hekate), which should also be great fun as it's at one of my favourite beaches in the province. Late night swimming? Maybe? :D

So earlier this week, my friend, let's call her K, sent me this message on facebook after I had posted something witchcraft related:

I told her I wanted to blog about it, and here we are.

Honestly, I am lucky that I don't need to hide who I am from most of my family. I don't filter most of my stuff. Most of that is for a few reasons.
1- I don't talk to a lot of my extended family. My mother doesn't give two shits about what I do provided I am happy and not harming anyone.
2- A lot of my friends are pagan or pagan-friendly, or they just skip over my post. I don't generally stay friends with people who are constantly berating other people for choice they make about their spirituality.
3- I don't have co-workers on my private facebook, so it's not going to be an issue with my work.

Now, I realize that there are LOADS of people who can't, for whatever reason, be open about who they are. I recognize that my laissez-faire attitude to not giving a fuck if anyone knows I am a Pagan probably would not get me far in a more conservative place. I am lucky that working where I work guarantees my right to live my life however I wish within the confines of the law. In other places, it can be very tricky to be open and out about who you are. Even harder with your own family.

I love my family - some out of genuine love, others out of obligation. However, being the black sheep child of a black sheep child I am very used to not being understood and not fitting in. Even in my day-to-day, I know I am not everyone's cup of tea. I can't hold myself accountable to standards held by people who claim to know who I am but are willing to shame me for who I actually am. Coming out as pagan and poly was actually pretty simple for me - I told my mother, sister, and few cousins. My grandmother is an elderly devout Catholic who it served no purpose to tell. Everyone else... well, meh. They don't factor into my life very much, so their opinions of my choices are negligible.

My friends are different. I have lots of non-pagan friends. I would hazard to say that most of my friends aren't pagan (which is a massive shift from maybe 5-8 years ago). However, while my spirituality is a part of who I am and what I often measure myself by, it's not something that comes up in every day conversation. If they ask, I'll talk about it, but generally what we have in common is not spiritual. So no real drama there, thankfully.

The main thing I wanted to express is for those who cannot be open about who they are and what they believe - you do what is right for you, and whatever you need to protect yourself and your beliefs. That is not an invitation to go and hurt other people, it's just me saying that there should be no pressure to be open if it is not safe for you to be so. You take care of yourself. A large part of witchcraft, and one that a lot of people fail to discuss, is to be silent. Secrets are a normal and acceptable thing. So if this is something that you have to keep secret because you'll lose your family or you'll lose your job because some people are bigots- be secret! It's okay! Your personal safety is paramount - avoid putting yourself in harm's way if you fear for your safety.

So I guess it's a long answer to a neat question. :) Thanks, K!

Monday, 1 August 2016


It was upon a Lammas night, 
When corn rigs are bonie, 
Beneath the moon's unclouded light, 
I held awa to Annie; 
The time flew by, wi' tentless heed, 
Till, 'tween the late and early, 
Wi' sma' persuasion she agreed 
To see me thro' the barley. - Robert Burns

We've had a busy few weeks, but we made time to do a bit of Lammas workings.

D's birthday was on the 28th, our anniversary was on the 25th.

I took the day off work, and we went out to a local park and had a lovely little italian picnic - margharita pizza, paté, tiramisu, italian moscato. We offered some of the wine to the spirits of the place who held us close (we didn't see a soul come through, it was blissful quiet), and it was a magical day. After eating, we got to lie on our picnic blanket and listen to the wind and the songbirds. I could have napped for a few hours.

A photo posted by Rhi (@thecorvidkey) on

A video posted by Rhi (@thecorvidkey) on

 It was a lovely day all around - it was nice to just take a break from the regular grind of day-to-day life and reconnect with nature.

We went out for beer and Greek food the night of D's birthday, and out for Mexican with some friends a few days ago. It's been nice to reconnect with people and try to build new bonds.

Today is a holiday for us, so it was easy to make some time to pop into the garden, harvest some plants for drying. The garden is kind of wild right now, I had to go out and prune and trim before even harvesting.

My little datura is coming along! I was worried it was gonna croak, but it's chugging along!
This is also only about half of the garden, the greenhouse has a number of herbs that are thriving!

I took out an offering of honey and oats to the wights of my garden space, and made sure to offer to my gnomes. I thanked the wights for a continued good harvest, and asked for their continued blessings.

I then harvested some rosemary, oregano, mint, roses, and basil, as well as some cornflowers. I hung the first up on this repurposed red birch staff we harvested a few years ago. I'm going to fancy it up a bit more after this batch is done drying, but this is good for now.

I offered the cornflowers on my ancestral altar, as a thanks for the continued guidance.

I then set out some oats and honey as offering for my gods on my altar. I burned incense and lit candles to honour their continued presence in my life.

Last night, I baked some lussekatter, since Lammas is all about bread. They turned out fabulous.

It's been quiet otherwise. I have a few rituals upcoming that I've been invited to, and that I am super excited to attend. There's a Lammas ritual being held in a park, and a Hekate ritual being held at a beach. I'm dipping my toes back into joining the smaller community of like-minded folks. It's been kind of a bumpy road for the last 6 months, but I feel ready to be around other pagan people again.

August is going to be 3 weeks of insanity followed up by a very well-deserved vacation. There are visits and rituals and weddings - but I am looking forward to every bit of it.

It's just remembering to breathe.

A photo posted by Rhi (@thecorvidkey) on

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Reloading from a previous save.

Sometimes you just have to hit the reset button.

I have had a very difficult year - and in particular, a very difficult 5 or so months. Over the last number of months, I have had nothing but ample time to reflect on the past, the present, and what I want for the future. I always think it is important to take everything we have happen to us as a lesson - good or bad. We have to take all of the hurt, the lies, the betrayal, the loss - and turn it into something good. Otherwise, we end up steeped in bitterness - and while anger has a purpose, it cannot consume us.

Sometime we work through all of those losses, and realize that what suited you before no longer suits you. That you spent all of your time making your spiritual growth about other people, and less about helping yourself grow. I read a piece by Thorn Mooney a few months ago about starting over, and what she said carved right into my heart, though I no longer fill the roles she describes. Sing me the song of my people, Thorn:

" the last couple of months, I’ve realized that practically my entire magical life has come to revolve around other people. I don’t do much for myself these days, beyond reading a book every now and then.
So I’m trying to go back in time a little and revisit those parts of a personal practice that were so important before I took on the roles that I play now. It’s a weird experience finding myself sort of at the beginning again, rebuilding."

 So this weekend, D and I decided to hit reset, strip it down to bare bones, and connect with those pieces of our spiritual life that we built from. I want to capture the whimsy and power of when I first started, but looking at it from new eyes - experience, age, and growth. I think knowing where one came from is as valuable as growing from it - the foundation should always be solid, and if it's damaged, you need to go back and repair and bolster and stabilize.

I tore every book from it's shelf to evaluate it, and cleaned everything. I picked out a few books I started with to reread. I tore down every altar and shrine, cleaned every piece on it, and put everything back with intention, changing as needed or what no longer suited. I broke down my complicated altar to something more basic, incorporating pieces from when I started.

That tile was made for me by my first teacher, 16 years ago. There's a lot of older, handmade stuff on this altar.

I burned natural incense of sage and sweetgrass as offering, lit candles in devotion, and wrote at length of my thoughts, feelings, and hopes. It felt damn good. I am looking forward to a deeper relationship with my gods, with my eyes unclouded and everything simplified.

I think learning to hit reset is a valuable thing - it keeps us always questioning, always learning. There is value in going back to the start. The key is not to always hang out there - stagnation is a creativity killer. Starting from a fresh perspective is great, but always keep moving forwards.

My altar always features a tarot card - something I shuffle and pull every few days to centre me and give me focus. I pulled the Sun, which in this high summer, is exactly what I wanted to see. The Sun is all about optimism, triumph, warmth, and joy. It's the simple pleasures, intellect, and boundless childlike wonder.

I am moving forward out of the darkness. I am leaving the shroud behind me, and rising from these ashes like a phoenix. I am reclaiming my strength, my inner warmth. I am embracing warmth and love. 

I am the Chariot, moving forward, leaving the past in the dust of my wheels.

Truthfully, I was wondering when that Chariot from new years was going to rear it's head. Here it is. With needed direction and momentum.

I welcome this reset with open arms. It is so needed.

And now, for a little East Coast inspiration - in hopes we all rise again.

Friday, 3 June 2016

I have made the required sacrifices, everything comes with a price. I've paid the dead man's price.

How are we, lovelies?

As I mentioned in my last post, things have been very busy lately. Work is always busy. It's great - I love the challenge, and I often feel very satisfied at the end of my day. It's nice to be paid to think for a living - and the pay helps fund all the things I want to do and create!

I mentioned awhile ago that I have had some hectic personal upheaval. It's very true. It's been something to adjust to, but in the end, you find out what's important to you.

Back in February, I found out my mother has a brain tumour. As far as the neurologist knows, it's fairly small and benign, but they are constantly monitoring her. She finds out this week if the tumour has grown (and thus may be an issue) or has remained the same (and likely means the continuing treatment that the last few months has been). She's not worried. I am a little, obviously, (hello, anxiety disorder!) but I mostly feel remarkably calm about everything. Worrying won't fix it. We wait and see what the MRI says, and we make a plan. My mother is a hard egg to crack, she's dogged. I have no doubts she'll pull through.

Around the same time, my grandmother went into the hospital with extremely low blood pressure. Like, 35. She ended up having a pacemaker put in, which has been a literal life saver. She feels so much better, she has more energy, she's much less tired. It's given her another few years, I hope.

Just last week, D's grandmother died. She was 94, and in frail health, but such a lovely and sweet southern British dame. We marvelled at the blessing of having a grandparent into our 30's, and were actually quite relieved that she was no longer suffering. It was very sudden, however, so it's been a bit bumpy. Grief is a strange beast, and emotions don't necessarily make sense. You laugh, you cry, and you remember.

With all of that turmoil - you figure out what really matters. As much as I dislike much of my family, the parts that I am close to, I am very close to. It's important to me to be able to be there and support them as much as I can. Other people's opinions of me are not important, especially lately. The only thing I want to focus on is being the best me I can be. That starts with burying the past, and moving forward.

Moving on.

The other day, D and I decided to walk along the shores of one of the local parks, enjoying the breezy first days of June and sunshine. It was glorious - the park wasn't overcrowded, the waves were crashing on the rocks, and I got the visually feed the need for the horizon.

I think a lot of people who grow up near the shore have a hard time fathoming living anywhere away from the ocean. People near the sea are a different sort of breed, with our skin and hair and eyelashes covered in salty ocean brine, our lungs inhaling foggy nights, our blood the driving rains. We're a hardy, rugged sort of people. East coasters, in particular, are a special breed of resilient. Those of us who have grown up on islands have an even deeper tie to the land and sea, because you learn to respect what isolates you from everything else.

I have a healthy love/hate/respect for the sea. I am drawn to it, but I know it will drown my ass if I step the wrong way.

He looks like a bearded Tintin!

Inviting, no?

Please ignore my punk faery trash look - it was windy!

We also got to see some awesome public art! Someone made an inukshuk, someone else made a weird ceramic church which they nestled into the side of the cliff, and someone else made an incredible ceramic piece with rocks held around it by tension only. It was super awesome.

Now the people will know we were here.

Church for elves?

Just incredible!

There was also this little squirrel, chilling on a rock, eating dandelion heads. He was there when we went in, and again when we came out! Gotta admire his tenacity (and love of dandelion, I suppose)!

We spent about an hour and a half gathering fallen twigs and hag stones.

We grabbed some grub, picked up DPM from work, and went craft shopping. When we got home, I settled into remaking the wards for my home out of wood.

I've wanted to do something a little more tangible for awhile, something a little more aesthetically pleasing. I'm pretty happy with the result. It's essentially a sigil and bindrune for protection and to keep unwanted stuff (and people) out. I usually hang them above all my entrances (along with a few other bits and bobs). I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out!

Now that the weather is warming, I am planning many more excursions out. Next weekend I am off to my island to celebrate my mother's 55th birthday. I am going to try and bribe her to take me to the beach for sand and seawater gathering.

There are hopes of a possible bonfire for midsummer as well, which is coming up soon. We're well on the way to having that planned.

Despite life trying to throw set backs at me, I'm feeling like things are one the way to awesome. I am satisfied with that.