I stopped using this blog quite a while ago, so if you're interested in catching up on what I've been up to and seeing all of my lovely altar, hide tanning, oil making, Temple decorating goodness you should really go here:
The New and Improved Deep Woods Tea Party
If I'm going to post here regularly about my practices and rituals and results, I should probably preface it all with a v. brief explanation of my personal style. Otherwise, when I tell you about how my awesome offerings of a powdered donut, jalapeno soaked in rum, and plastic glittery beads netted me a new job offer you'll all be floundering to question my ability to "cast spells".
-None. I rarely use the term pagan to describe my spiritual practices and beliefs, and I definitely don't use the term witchcraft. I'm not a Wiccan, I don't have a pre-defined moral code such as the Rede, and I don't follow the ritual or spell crafting practices of any particular group.
Also, I don't identify with the Chaos Magic label either. Most of the Chaos Magic thought that's been produced has included a strong rejection of mythology and pagan ideas, in the idea of becoming a fully modern magical system. It also draws too heavily from Ceremonial/Hermetic/Traditional Western magick, which I've never felt comfortable with.
When I do feel like throwing words around, I'll refer to myself as a Technautilist. I'm part of a loose knit magical group called the Technautilus, which is designed to foster the development of personalized and self created magical systems.
II. So You Do Evil Black Magic and Summon Characters from Bad Fantasy Novels?
-Unfortunately, not really. While I do have some relationships with entities and spirits that may not be based in any written history, I avoid turning pop culture icons into deities. I also avoid summoning demons, infernal beings, celestial monkeys, angels, the spirits of the dead, and pretty much anything else.
As for the black magic - I'm sure there are plenty of you that assume I'm 100% evil because I did a ritual to keep a roommate from saying a single nasty word to anyone in the house, and he developed such an abscessed tooth that he couldn't talk at all. But no, I don't lurk in chatrooms threatening others with psychic attacks or stand around in graveyards trying to curse my ex-boyfriends.
III. What Do You "Do" When You're "Doing It"?
-When it comes to actually casting spells/energy work/rituals/a whole pile of junk, I'm a very physical person. I enjoy making - making tools for myself and others, making masks, making incense and oils, making candles, making poppets, etc. I also enjoy using items, but generally only items I've made or found. Many people of the various New Age and post-modern magick traditions seem to look down on energy workers who choose to use tools. I'm not reliant on them, and I'll gladly work without them, but there's something that feels more real to me about dressing a candle with a properly blended oil instead of just a visualization.
I've explained it in the past as such: When I'm working on changing something in the physical world, such as "bring me money!" or "get out of my house crazy!", working with physical tools convinces my subconscious and generally makes more sense on a deeper level. If the goal is strictly internal or spiritual, such as "stop eating so much sugar" or "meditate to speak to a customer service representative", I might use something like a sigil or a particular scent, but not as many physical tools and materials.
This is a story about a cat that really isn't a cat, but rather a spirit that chose to manifest as a cat to work with Firefly and I.
This cat first showed up before Firefly and I decided to throw our lots together. Firefly opened up the Goetic texts, specifically the Key of Solomon, and read through the domains and specific skills of each Demon contained within. He found one that had "bringing familiars" written below it's name and seal (and now when he goes through the book he can't determine which one it was).
Thankfully, Firefly is smart enough to realize that since he is not a practiced and trained Ceremonial Magician, nor a Hermetic Mage, nor a Goetic Specialist, laying out a circle and attempting to theatrically summon this spirit to ask for a familiar would be uncouth. So he simply meditated on the spirit's seal, and asked it to bring him a familiar. He offered it a specific amount of appreciation and energy in return.
The story of how the first Spirit Cat arrived is very similar to the second, except it happened to Firefly alone. He was named Spirit, in recognition of his true nature, and he was serious business. He was very aloof, and spent a lot of time roaming the woods around the cabin with the coyotes and traveling with us in dreams. He died shortly after turning two years old, in the middle of a freak rainstorm on a South Carolina farm said to be haunted by a female Native American ghost. Firefly found him, stiff and matted, the next morning lying in the rain.
It was sad, but we both knew it was coming well before it happened. When Firefly left on the trip and took the cat with him, I dreamed for the three nights he was gone that the cat was dying. He felt it as well for the whole month leading up the trip. But there was nothing else to do but let it happen.
We were in the middle of the most tumultuous time of our travels, and shortly after his death ended up living in the most cramped and restrictive places of all. We couldn't have stayed at those places with a cat, and would have missed out on some very crucial training and information because of that.
Spirit continued to "send postcards". We would regularly find images that looked exactly like him, down to the specific whisker shape and white hairs across his head. All throughout the last year we kept finding images of 1930s starlets clutching him, strange french advertisements for an underground nightclub, him in the arms of a teenager dying of cancer, and finally of him sitting on a misty moor overlooking a herd of sheep.
When we left the city in March and spent a month and a half back in the mountains, Eric took Spirit's tag off of his keys and placed it below the golden statue of Bast I had procured for an early working. One day, in the very beginning of April, he decided to throw the tag into the creek that runs right along the side of the cabin and let go of it for good.
So one day, driving around, at the very end of May we got a feeling and decided to follow it right into the Newton County Animal Shelter. There was an overabundance of kittens, as there usually is, but all them seemed very disinterested in us. We walked down the row of cages until Firefly reached the first cage. It was empty, but in cage #2, a black kitten had firmly attached itself to the very top of the cage door and was crying as loudly as possible. His Siamese litter mates all sat, calmly, as he rattled the door and thrust his skinny cat arms through the bars to claw at us.
The cat in the cage above #2 was a massive, owl faced tabby that sternly stared at me as I flailed my arms saying "No no no no no no...", as is my usual reacting when the universe starts backing me into a corner with undeniably spirituality. Firefly was already fully convinced, but the place wouldn't let us take him till the next day. We showed up at 8 am, with a beat up rat cage as our only safe cat carry container.
Once we took him home, the connections were even clearer. Spirit #1 was a traveling cat that naturally took to riding in a car, roaming in unfamiliar situations, and wearing a harness/walking on a leash. Spirit #2 loves riding in the car even more, and took to wearing his harness without a fuss. Spirit #1 could ride on Firefly's shoulder - Spirit #2 demands to ride on Firefly's shoulder. They have the same coloration, right down to the redness in his coat and white hairs across his forehead. Spirit #2 is a little bit of an upgrade, in cat terms - much cuddlier and has an even shinier coat.
I firmly believe in accepting that he's the same spirit, but recognizing his new incarnation is also important to me. So we named him Jack, the king of all things, the ordinary man, the elusive con artist. Jack is not a reincarnation of our past cat - he is the same spirit in a new cat body. This spirit comes as a cat because we expect him to, and accept him as one. We spent the whole year (and a day, damn it) looking for a cat and finding nothing but empty animals. It was so obvious when we visited other animal shelters and felt like we were looking through a collection of stuffed animals.
Jack was 9 weeks old when we got him, and roughly born around the beginning of April, when Firefly threw the tag into the water. I worried, when we first both had the feeling that he was coming back, how we would find him or recognize which cat he was in. I never stopped to realize that he would find us regardless of where we were, and that he would make it undeniably clear so that even people like me, who try their best to deny spiritual experiences even as I'm in the middle of them, could make no argument against him.
First, a little housekeeping:
due to my slowly developing need to document more of my personal spiritual and magickal growth, methods, and development, I'm turning this blog (and the tumblr tied with it) into a more personal blog. It was started as an accompaniment to our Etsy shop Puck and Penelope, but I find I have very little to say about the store and much more to say about myself. I will likely not be starting a separate blog for the store because I just don't see any use in promoting it that way.
So, to begin this new focus, here are three different Tarot card decks that I stumbled upon today in my various pagan and occult forum browsing. I found the Shadowscapes Tarot first, because it was just released after years of anticipation, and was linked to the other two via Amazon.com.
The Shadowscapes Tarot is my favorite of the three, and may be the most beautiful Tarot deck I've ever seen.
Now, quite a few months later, the idea of having a place we can control, that we can shape with our hands instead of running to ask permission for every little thing, is more appealing than ever. We had just decided that city life was not for us when in March, a few days short of our shared birthday, we were exported back to the mountains. And so we stayed up there, in our prodigal nest, as the earth slowly woke up from winter.
I walked up the hill to work each day in a gradually warming clearing. I kissed the leaf buds as they opened, and Firefly tore away the rotten back wall of the cabin and rebuilt. As our work wound up and the spring opened into it's green and sweet fullness, we received an invitation to come and stay in a smoky, confusing cave of a home.
We chose to come here for a few reasons. Number one, we are paying rent and working regularly for the first time in many years for both of us. But we are building a system of freelance work, mostly over the internet, that leaves us with the flexibility we desire. The rent is low enough to handle the rough periods of low income that working out the kinks in the system brings.
Number two, there is something interesting going on in this house. Each room is a separate world, and the main areas belong more to the constant visitors than to any of us living here. The one who made the call to invite us is struggling to break out of the cocoon she's grown up in, and may very well be gone in a few days to hop trains with her strange and insistent boyfriend. Or she may decide to stay and go to college, or perhaps she will shave her head and become a nun. Nothing here is clear or consistent - mirages appear, personalities shift.
Despite the particular uncertainties of this year, we have found more successes and have maintained much more stable footing than years past. I have found a skill that I can actually apply to earn money - writing, of all things. Where it was only a faint dream, earning me possibly $15 or $30 in a month, I am now set up to make more than enough to support us. We are still working out ways for Firefly to earn money, but he has a much wider base of skills and experience than I do.
We also have plans, beyond what we would like to do in a few months, and that are actually concrete and achievable. The main backbone of our plan is small town just over the North Carolina border. It's home to the John Campbell Folk School, near the beautiful crack in the Blue Ridge Mountains known as Fire's Creek, and (most importantly) has 2 bedroom homes on private wooded lots for $300 a month. As much as we love the solitude of the cabin, we need somewhere not without a 30 miles dirt road drive over steep mountains to a grocery store. $10 in gas just to leave home is a little much. We're also acquainted with a perfect group of eclectic, artistic, hard partying crew up there. In short, it's perfect.
It's just a little bit amusing that we've finally found our resolve to make this goal a reality as I'm stuck, in pain and discomfort, from a sudden bout of unknown nerve pain and general low energy. It's the same strange two week long migraine/body pain/tired ailment that I've suffered from since I was a kid, the one problem no doctor has ever successfully solved for me. I've learned to live with it, but it just seems like such a limit now that I have the drive to work all night and day to reach my goals. My mind is willing, but my body is unable to comply.
The sun is rising on the summer solstice as I finish this post. It seems remarkably apt, to finally be ready to commit these goals to writing, to publish our intent publicly. I will sleep for most of the day, while the sun bakes this smoky shell of a house, and in the evening we will hold a ritual. It is time to perform the ending of something I asked for in ritual a year ago, and it is time to set into motion the new cycle we are so ready to begin.
The Deep Woods Tea Party has returned to it's roots, and we're back in the mountains that spawn thunderstorms and where water springs from every tree's roots. The landscape up here at our cabin is slowly changing - in part because of our work, but much of it is being done by nature alone.
Spring has definitely sprung up here in the mountains, although the buds are still slowly pushing to open. We had a massive rain up here yesterday, and the extra water has already altered the face of the mountains, as more and more bright green spreads. The bees, hornets, nectar suckers, and Yellow Jacket Hovering Flies are already zipping around and investigating my hair for potential nesting sites.
So, in the next few days, you can expect the return of the Puck and Penelope Etsy Shop, the development of the new puckandpenelope.com, and definitely more Technautilus stuff. The cabin has some rotten wood that we're replacing, and in the drying times between pulling the walls down and putting them back up, we've been working on the Technautilus Red Papers #1. We're hoping to release it as a zine and free pdf download in the next month.
The holidaze knocked me flat. Normally I deal with the rush of energy and psychic anxiety pretty well, but I also have never had to travel or shop very much for the season. This was my first year fully participating in the collective madness, and it's made me realize that I will not do it next year. I'm going to have all my gifts made and wrapped by Thanksgiving, and wherever I go to visit I will be staying for at least a week.
It's taken me until yesterday to settle my mind and unhook from repetitive, anxiety driven circles of obsessive thinking. Getting things out of my head and down on paper is the only way to escape it, and that's exactly what I've done. I was getting a really good start on all of my plans, such as a regular daily schedule and a handle on my work and creative plans, but the season of madness knocked me back off of the trail. Now I'm finally in the right space to start again.
Winter is really breathing down our necks here, despite being in the deep south. It's freezing the ground solid every night, and our poorly sealed and scarcely insulated love nest the Moon Room is way too cold to sleep in, even with two ultra efficient ceramic heaters. So we've taken over the New Room, which is more interior and is being remodeled for the occupation of a new roommate sometime soon. This is giving us a chance to fully renovate and organize that small space for best possible use, which is my kind of job.
But! Despite the freezing temperatures and our modest uprooting, some of our gardening efforts have come to sprout. I was attempting to start some basil, lemongrass, and leek seeds but the cold and accidental spillage ended their germination. However, one unexpected project has begun to flourish. If you check out our myFolia page at EcoHivePod Gardens, you'll find that we've built a mini raised greenhouse out of scraps. It's filled with a mix of compost and potting mix, and has been relatively neglected since it's creation in mid-December.
However, shortly after filling it with dirt, I put in two rows of Mesclun Mixed Lettuce Salad Mix, mostly to see if they could sprouting in the clumped and heavy dirt, and withstand the cold. I imagined that would not, but I went to check today on a whim and found two rows of clustered, defiant little green and red sprouts amid the dry soil. The soil dried out enough for them to break through, but they did get a little more moisture today. It seems that the plastic is keeping it warm enough in there to sprout them. It gets plenty of sunlight, and I think the soil absorbs enough heat during the day to keep from freezing solid at night.