Saturday, 30 January 2016

Winter offerings

So D and I decided to take a walk the other day before our recent snowstorm to put out some offerings for the local land spirits and animals. We trudged through the snow to refill our bird feeder we have out.

Offerings at the base of the old man tree (an old tree on which has a gaping mouth, one eye, and 9 trunks. I usually bring home brewed mead, but it was so cold I was worried it would freeze, so we brought seed, with promises for a full bottle of mead when it gets warmer.

Into the mouth of the tree. I avoided taking pictures of the entire tree (I got the feeling it would not be polite), but this was okay.

Offering at the footbridge over the stream.

As we were walking out, I noticed this on the path. Oddly, I didn't notice it on my way in, but I did lose my grip on the seed bag at this exact point on the other side of the path. Funny we noticed this in the exact place on the way out. This is Ansuz, the rune associated with Odin (the word literally means god or god's breath).

We were treated to a killer sunset on the way out to go home and cook supper.

We try to get out and practice both land stewardship and land offerings as much as we can. We have a suet cake waiting for a colder day for the next trip down.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Changeling 20

I have spoke before about my love of tabletop roleplaying games, my all time favorite being Changeling the Dreaming.

Changeling deals with themes of hope in a bleak world. The tenuous grasp on all that matters to you - family, birthright, way of life, survival of your culture - in the face of everything that could erase it from existence. It's driven by magic, by fight. It's rebelling against the establishment to secure your place in this world. These are themes that I feel are always going to be relevant in today's society. We must all that find that spark of magic within us to prevent the banality of this world from wearing us down, grinding us into dust and nothingness.

It is a game that sings the song of my very soul.

Recently, Onyx Path recently announced they would be kickstarting a 20th anniversary edition of this beloved game. I don't think anyone in my household has ever been so excited. We were immediately in on it. My husband wrote a lovely piece about it.

I have decided, after many years of abstaining, to run another Changeling campaign. DPM is usually the one who runs these, but I know he is itching to play. It has been a long time since I have run a long-term game. I've always been hesitant, and I find storytelling challenging. However, I am hoping that my willingness to be a better storyteller will help me do just that.

The thing I love about the realm of table top roleplaying is that there is something for everyone - themes for everyone, adventures for everyone, intrigue for everyone. It helps to bring people together, to spark that creative energy in you, to inspire you, to build friendships. I have always liked White Wolf's games, but Changeling has always been the game I measure all other games by. It's so steeped in mythology, has an excellent balance of pathos and whimsy, and is relatable. It gives us a way to fight the crush of mundane life, to see something more magical in life.

Needless to say, I am looking forward to getting my hands on the new book, which has so many extras that will make playing this game feel new again. The kickstarter is now closed, but if you want to take a peek, here it is.



It's a dirty word to some. To others, it's a prayer, and others, a challenge.

It evokes all of these images of throwing pretty virgins into volcanos, or goats disemboweled, or tender babies stabbed through the heart on a Satanic altar. Maybe that is what sacrifice used to be about, but in the modern age, we do things cleanly and with a little less blood and guts.

That said, sacrifice takes guts. Not literal guts, obviously, but courage. Sacrifice is giving up something that you want to keep in order to get something in return. The greater the sacrifice, the greater the payoff. Let's use the Wicker Man as an example. The villagers wanted a human, willing sacrifice to please their gods because it was tied to their survival. They would starve without crops. They gave the ultimate sacrifice (a life) in exchange for life (crops). To them, it was a fair trade and swung the pendulum into the 'greater good' side. One life to save many lives was fair.

I think sacrifice is at the core of most practice. We leave offerings and libations - forms of sacrifice that we have either made and sacrificed our time, or paid for and sacrificed our money. Some of us use blood, or cut our hair, or tattoo our skin - giving offerings of pain and pieces of our actual selves - to please the gods. Working with certain gods or spirits can demand a sacrifice of your time or sanity. Some sacrifice certain foods in their diet to please their gods (Jewish and Muslim people do not eat pork because the animal is considered unclean by god - any of us who have tasted bacon understand this sacrifice!). There are many ways to sacrifice.

What you must always remember that the sacrifice must being meaningful. It can't be something you wouldn't miss or something you don't care about. No one will be pleased by a half-assed sacrifice. The more powerful, the more pain you feel in losing it, the more powerful the gesture.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. The true nature of sacrifice.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

New Year

So it's time for the look back/go foward for 2015/2016 - this is going to be super boring, mostly because I had a low-key year.

January 2015:
- started the cocktail project with my now husband (then partner)
- was on a local college radio show about my witchcraft tradition
- started training for my new job

Random January photo: sunset waiting for the bus
February 2015:
- started my new job
- held the first annual Sockmas (based on Sockstice), the sock giving holiday
- Had a crazy amount of snow
- got new boots (this is significant! I am a huge advocate for dressing for the weather!)

Random February photo: Sockmas!
March 2015:
- Had a crazy amount of snow
- started The Corvid Key (two weeks earlier than scheduled), and closed Another Pagan Blog.
- had ridiculous hate mail from a local know-nothing, which was chronicled here, which became an official 'thing'.
- said gormless dimwit became a full-on stalker and sent minions to harass me on other social media mediums!
- went to Video Games Live!
- started my garden

Random March photo: Video Games Live!

April 2015:
- turned 33
- had a nice visit home to see family and friends
- held a Walpurgisnacht ritual which involved burning things in a BBQ because there was too much snow

Random April photo : My birthday cake, made by DragonLady (it's a tiny Heimdall and bifrost)

May 2015:
- celebrated the bi-annual Viking Feast on Beltane with the coven and family
- found out our friends were having another baby!
- had a great coven picnic for GarmsTears's initiation and belated birthday
- ate quail eggs for the first time (yum!)

Random May photo: our spread from Viking Feast

June 2015:
- Got tattooed with my fellow coven mates - keys for the coven, as well as a second, nerdier tattoo
- had shit hours at work, so spent a lot of time reading and gardening
- made and canned brandied cherries

Random June photo: my key tattoo

July 2015:
- decided to get handfasted and married to my long-term partners
- realized very quickly who were wolves in sheep's clothing, and stewed on that for a bit.
- ordered my rings
- Got another tattoo
- had a handfasting and married D after 10 year together to the sounds of the lake and ravens crying overhead, surrounded by family and friends and love.

Random July photo: cupcakes I made from my handfasting (and my unimpressed cat)

August 2015:
- got to hang out with my grandmother in a surprise visit
- received my rings, my marriage license,.
- marked a year of leaving the best job ever

Random August photo: my handfasting ring

September 2015:
- married my partner of 17 years, DPM, at the courthouse surrounded by our family and friends
- went on sick leave for 6 weeks
- removed racist and bigoted people from my life, again (a ruddy plague, they are)
- went on our annual apple picking trip with the coven

Random September photo : me on my wedding day

October 2015:
- took another trip home to visit friends and family who couldn't make it to the weddings
- watched my country kick the oligarch who had been running the country the last 10 years to the curb, and with gusto
- went to see Loreena McKennitt in concert (life changing...)
- went to Hal-Con!
- went to a public event for the pagan community for the first time in 4 or 5 years
- had the worst stomach flu I have had in 10 years
- our friends had their 3rd child!

Random October photo: morning on the lake (on the way on our trip)

November 2015:
- went back to work
- helped our coven mates bless their new home
- applied for a supervisor position at work
- went to a lovely ritual held by a few friends
- basically spent all month wishing it was December

Random November photo: when my twitter account reached level super satan

December 2015:
- held the first ever Bookmas, instead of Christmas
- went to another ritual for Yule
- renewed old contracts with old gods
- started a batch of mead
- had a billion days off work
- read a lot of books
- D and I witnessed a scary auto accident, which included us rescuing people from their sideways car and calling 911.

Random December photo : Me (and D)
I don't generally like to make resolutions. I prefer to focus on reasonable goals. I like to pick a word, or a theme. 2015 was all about hope. It was about going through rough times and realize that there is always something brighter coming further down the road. Trust me, I went through some very rough patches, but I always knew it would get better, eventually.

I think my word for 2015 will be 'Victory'.

I want to conquest. I want to set and achieve goals, minor and large. I want to assert my needs and wands. I want to know my willpower is strong. I want to control my will, hone it like a blade, and use it to strike into victory. This year will be a year of taking, of gains.

This was cemented by my annual 'pull a card to focus on for the year' and pulling the Chariot.

And now, I leave you with the wish for a prosperous new year, and the follow wisdom from John Oliver:

And here is some advice for the year, of course in gif form: