Words for Wednesday

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This week, when Notre Dame in Paris and African American churches in America burned, when the Arctic ice is disappearing, and when our democracy itself is under such horrific attack, I want to associate myself with Ms. Rich’s words.

Natural Resources, 1977:

~ Adrienne Rich

My heart is moved by all I cannot save:

so much has been destroyed

I have to cast my lot with those

who age after age, perversely,

with no extraordinary power,

reconstitute the world.

Witch School

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I’ve been slowly savoring The Living Mountain  by Nan Shepherd .  Ms. Shepard wrote about her experiences as a “hill walker” in the Scottish Cairngorms.   In one chapter, she writes about the plant life found on the mountains.  I want to quote her at some length because I think she shows what it can mean to be in touch with your landbase.

Plants then, as they go through the business of living, emit odors.  Some, like the honey scents of flowers, are an added allurement to the insects; and if, as with heather, the scent is poured out most recklessly in the heat of the sun, that is because it is then that the insects are out in strength.  But in other cases — as in fir trees — the fragrance is the sap, is the very life itself.  When the aromatic savor of the pine goes searching into the deepest recesses of my lungs, I know it is life that is entering.  I draw life through the delicate hairs of my nostrils.  Pines, like heather, yield their fragrance to the sun’s heat.  Or when the foresters come, and they are cut, then their scent is strong.  Of all the kinds that grow on the low reaches of the mountains, spruce throws the strongest perfume on the air when the saw goes through it.  In hot sun, it is almost like a ferment — like strawberry jam on the boil, but with a tang that tautness the membranes of nose and throat.

Of plants that carry their fragrance in their leaves, bog myrtle is the mountain exampler.  This grey-green shrub fills the boggy hollows, neighbored by cotton grass and sundew, bog asphodel and the spotted orchis, and the minute scarlet cups of the lichens.  Its fragrance is cool and clean, and like the wild thyme it gives it most strongly when crushed.

The other shrub, juniper, is secretive with its scent.  It has an odd habit of dying in patches, and when a dead branch is snapped, a spicy odor comes from it.  I have carried a piece of juniper wood for months, breaking it afresh now and then to renew the spice.  The dead wood has a grey silk skin impervious to rain  In the wettest season, when every fir branch in the woods is sodden the juniper is crackling dry and burns with a clear heat.  There’s nothing better under the girdle when scones are baking — unless perhaps small larch twigs, fed into a fire already banked.  Once, striking thick loose snow from low juniper bushes before walking through them, I surprised myself by striking from them also a delectable fragrance that floated on the wintry air.

She goes on to discuss how birch trees look when the leaves are just opening, when the trees are bare, and when their sap is rising, how rowan trees look in October, and how the whole forest looks in Autumn.

Dead fir roots make, she tells us, the “best kindling in the world.”  Tea made on such a fire seems to have a special flavor and, if your tea pot has a broken spout and:

tea splutters from it on to the open hearth and raises spurts of ash and steam, you can call it a soss or a libation to the gods as you feel inclined, but it will not make the tea less good nor the talk less racy.

Clearly, her descriptions of the mountain plants come from direct experience.  She’s spent time with them, watching how they change over the seasons, smelling them, paying attention to where they grow, using them, and so on.  It’s good training for any Witch (experienced or beginning) to pick an area and to do the slow work of getting to know it through the same kind of experience.  And, of course, plants are only one part of the picture.  There are animals, and rocks, and soil, and the character of the light, and so on.  When you cast a circle and call to the Powers of Earth, it’s a good idea to know what you’re calling.  It makes your magic stronger and safer.

Picture found here.

Monday at the Movies

You need access to BBC, but their yearly SeasonWatch series (Springwatch, Autumnwatch, and Winterwatch) are worth it.  They’d be especially great to watch with children.

Last year, they did an Autumnwatch in New England, as well, and I’d love to see this series spread to the U.S. on a regular basis.

What do you think?

The Magical Battle for America 4.14.19

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Now’s probably a good time to remind everyone to check/refresh the wards on your home or wherever you do this work.  (No, really.  You really need to do this.)  Be sure that you’re rested, grounded, and in a comfortable position.  Maybe wrap up in a blanket or cloak and grasp an herb, stone, or talisman that matters to you.  Grow your roots, send them deep into the soil, let them intertwine and grow small hairs to attach to the mycelia in your own landbase.

Breathe.

Anchor yourself firmly to your landbase.  Does your landbase have anything to tell you today?  Notice a small detail that will call you back when this working is finished.

Ground and center.  Cast a circle.

Breathe.

As you move to our American plain on the astral plane, you can see again the safe hillock where you do your work.  You can see the five giant banners, shining in the sky: Walden Pond, the Underground Railroad, the Cowboy, the Salmon, and Lady Liberty.  Do they seem more defined since we began our work? Do they have anything special to tell you this week?

For a few moments, just sit on your hillock and allow yourself to become comfortable.  This place should be feeling very real to you by now; we’ve been working together to create it for months and months.  What’s become familiar to you?  A tuft of prairie grass?  Buffalo off in the distance?  The scent of sand carried on the wind?  You’ve been involved in a months-long magical working here, joined with magic workers from across the globe.  Feel your connection to this place on the astral plane. It is always here for you, always a source of strength.

You find yourself sitting on your hillock in the middle of a morning mist.  The fog shifts and turns, moving between the landscape and the rivers, obscuring and then revealing mountains, lakes, monuments.

Similarly, there are those who seek to befog the truth about what is happening to our country.

While you watch, you see the sun rise high in the East and begin to burn away the fog.  Gradually, everything becomes clear.

Lift your hand and burn away the political fog.  You are a powerful magic worker and you can do this.  You can help others to see clearly.

Slowly, come down from your hillock and begin to walk back to your own landbase.

Open your eyes.  Rub your arms and face.  Notice the detail that you selected to call yourself back.  Drink something, maybe a mug of green tea or a glass of water with slices of strawberry.  Have something to eat, maybe some sunflower seeds or a piece of fruit.  Maybe you can set up a small altar dedicated to Truth.  (If so, please post a picture!!)  You may want to repeat this working several times this week.  You may want to journal about it.  Are you inspired to make any art? If you’re willing, please share in comments what happened and how this working went.

Picture found here.

Framing. Yes, Again.

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Hecate talks about this issue all the time, both here and on Twitter, and she’s right. Framing matters. How we choose to talk about things is important. Words have power. They create impressions in our minds that can be nearly impossible to change or erase.

Never use the other side’s framing.

It is NEVER, EVER “fake news.” Not even to be cute, or funny, or ironic. Legitimate news outlets sometimes make errors, and when they do, that’s what is it – an error – and they issue corrections. Outlets like Fox News, Breitbart, and the Daily Caller are state propaganda.

Julian Assange is not a whistle-blower or a truth-teller, and he’s miles from being a journalist. He’s a rapist and a Russian operative.

As my spouse is fond of reminding me, they aren’t “pro-life” or even “anti-abortion” – they’re “pro-forced birth.”

Hecate talks about this one all the time – Democrats don’t want to “pack the court,” they want to “bring the Supreme Court into the 21st century.” There are not enough Justices. They have to turn down far too many cases. We need probably twice as many, with the particular Justices that are going to hear and rule on a given case chosen at random. We also need term limits that ensure that each President gets to appoint two Justices per her four-year term.

(See what I did there? If “he” is a generic pronoun, so is “she.” Do what you will with that little piece of truth.)

There are positive examples as well.

It isn’t “gun control” – it’s “sensible gun safety protections that are supported by the vast majority of Americans, even those who are members of the NRA.”

It’ s not “environmental regulations” – it’s “air your kids can safely breathe, water that’s safe to drink, and food that’s safe to eat.” For everyone. In every community. Even poor urban communities (like Flint, MI). Even poor rural communities (like West Virginia coal country).

Two I learned this week that I think are outstanding that I’ll be adding to my lexicon ASAP:

Kids experience an opportunity gap (cause), not an achievement gap (that’s the result, and you can’t have an impact on the end without addressing the beginning).

Don’t apologize that someone was offended (that passive construction removes you as the actor and places the blame on them), “Own It” – own your own actions, and vow to do better (and mean it, and commit to doing to the work that requires).

What other issues do we need to reframe to create the world we want?

Image found here.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

What Do You Think?

Here’s a message from one of the leading academics studying Pagans in America:

My new study is exploring the way in which metaphysics, ethics, and some personal issues, like self-efficacy etc., interrelate in the Pagan community/ies.
The survey is completely anonymous and will be open through summer solstice.  While I hope that you take it, the specific help I’m asking for is if you can help me by spreading it through your networks, if you feel comfortable doing so.  The larger the sample size, the more reliable my results.
I’m also going to try really hard to use my blog to keep people up to date and share my thoughts etc.  https://occultlibrarian.blogspot.com
I’ve taken the survey and urge you to do so, as well.  It takes a few minutes, but it’s time well spent.

Words for Wednesday

It’s been a really good spring for daffodils this year.  And Wordsworth said it best.

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I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

~ William Wordsworth
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
*************
Picture found here.