Saturday, July 28, 2012

Prints Available

This is one of the other things I've been working on: prints available through Deviant Art. Click here for my prints gallery.

I've got a few more than thirty of them up now, in various sizes; all the Gods, and starting in on the Goddess Oracle cards. I'm working on getting them all up (with a couple of exceptions, namely Melaina, which is just too dark, and the Sheila na Gig, which contravenes their policy, which is, yes, stupid, as it is a sincere religious work of art); but if you have a specific request just drop me a line (my first name at my first name my last name dot com) and I'll move it to the front of the line.

Also if you're interested in something larger (the biggest I've got them is like ten by fifteen inches I think) let me know. I'll have to make up more art at a higher resolution, but it's not a problem at all.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Anyone interested in hedgewitchery, drop me a line. My address: my first name at my first name my last name dot com, all lowercase.

Friday, May 11, 2012

J Is For Jasasara

Never heard of the Goddess Jasasara, you say? Oh, you have, trust me. You just didn't know that was Her name.

All right. I suppose I should state right up front that I am not any sort of academic; I am, as ever, an interested amateur. Nor, especially, am I a linguist, so I have to take other people's words for it.

So this is going to take a little bit of explaining. The scholarship is based on that most enigmatic of languages, whatever the language was: the one written down in so-called Linear A.

Yep. We're talking Minoan, here.

There were several scripts, properly syllabaries, in Minoan (and Mycenaean) Crete; a syllabary meaning a script in which the symbols stood for combinations of letters, usually two, though vowels on their own are included. Linear B, the later of the two, was famously translated by Michael Ventris in 1952; he realized it was an archaic form of Greek. Linear B is of course called B because it derives from Linear A; the language, however, of Linear A is not Greek, and has proved difficult to translate, in large part because there just aren't a lot of examples of it, but also because it doesn't seem to be related to much else, meaning, there are a lot of pet theories out there.

However, Linear B did come out of Linear A; and the symbols in Linear B have reliably assigned sounds. What that means is that more than a few Linear A symbols have been presumed to have sounds similar to their Linear B counterparts.

Now. A lot of what we do have for examples of Linear A is the so-called Libation Formula, a set series of words inscribed on various offerings, generally found dedicated at peak sanctuaries in Crete. They seem to say 'so-and-so of such-and-such a place dedicates this to Jasasara' and then three more (untranslated) words; the word 'Jasasara' is consistent, and is taken to be the name of a Goddess.

The name may simply be a title meaning 'Lady', much like the later Potnia of the Greeks. It has parallels to the Hittite Goddess name Esha-sara or Ishassara, which also simply means 'Lady', as well as to Asherah of the Canaanites.

Now, fair enough, as a title, Jasasara may refer to more than just one Goddess, as the later Greek term Potnia certainly did; I'm inclined to think, though, given that the offerings dedicated to Her are found primarily at peak sanctuaries, that we are talking about one Goddess. Of course, whether or not the Minoans worshipped one Goddess with several aspects, or quite different and separate Goddesses is still being debated, and I imagine we won't ever really know barring a time machine. But this is a name for Her, or one of Her, that is not Greek. And it is an important name, too, and so I imagine, an important Goddess, given the number of times Her name appears.

Again, I am not an academic, but I thought this was interesting. It's a name I hadn't heard until recently, though it seems to be pretty solidly accepted; and I thought it deserved to be more well known that the name of an important (perhaps the?) Minoan Goddess is Jasasara.


Aegean Art and Architecture, by Donald Preziosi and Louise A. Hitchcock.

The Cambridge Companion to the Bronze Age, edited by Cynthia W. Shelmerdine, chapter seven, "Minoan Culture: Religion, Burial Customs, and Administration," by John G. Younger and Paul Rehak.

The Language of the Minoans, by Virginia Hicks in the Anistoriton Journal of History, Archaeology, Art History: Viewpoints

Also by Virginia Hicks at the same site is a very interesting article in which she connects Jasasara to a very old form of Athena. I'm not sure I'm sold on the Sun Goddess idea, but it is quite a fascinating read.

Friday, April 6, 2012

G Is For Goddesses of Finland

(This one took a while to write up, which is why I'm behind with these Pagan Blog Project entries. Not that I'm surprised or anything.)

Well, okay, you didn't think I was going to let G pass without somehow talking about Goddesses, did you? This is me, after all. Among other things, as part of that year-and-a-day course I'm taking (in Christopher Penczak's book The Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft) I am supposed to research a particular culture's mythology.

Yeah, I know; what a drag.

So I chose Finnish mythology, because it is so heavily steeped in both magic and shamanism, so it seemed appropriate. It's also one I don't know a whole lot about, although part of that is because there isn't too much information out there, or there isn't at least as far as I've been able to find (in English). I have acquired a copy of the Kalevala, the so-called national epic of Finland; it's pieced together from traditional folk songs collected in the early 19th century by one Elias Lönnrot and so is a little problematic as far as a source goes, since to make it into some kind of coherent narrative Lönnrot had to mix it up a bit. Still, the tales, or songs, called runot (which means, yes, 'runes') are pretty clearly speaking about the Gods.

Or, as is ever my focus, the Goddesses.

There is of course generally more information out there about Gods than there is about Goddesses, and the mythology of Finland is no exception. So often, researching Goddesses is about piecing together the tiniest scraps of information. But I'll try.

These are, necessarily, going to be brief entries, just a taste; I suspect that this will form the germ of the Finnish series over at the Obscure Goddess Online Directory, my crazy project I started because I just get obsessive about researching Goddesses.

I'll start with the creation Goddess Ilmatar.

Her name means 'Female Spirit of the Air', from ilma, 'air', and the suffix -tar, meaning 'female spirit', though in other names the latter looks to be translated as 'daughter', so Her name could I suppose also mean 'Daughter of the Air'. She is also called Luonnatar, though that is technically a title rather than a proper name, and means 'Female Spirit of Creation' or 'Daughter of Nature.'

She is quite certainly a primeval creation Goddess of great power. Her story, related right at the beginning of the Kalevala, is that She grew bored with living in the air, so let Herself fall into the Sea, the only other thing (besides light) that was in existence in those earliest of days. By the Sea She floated in She became pregnant, but as there was no dry land yet, She could not give birth. One day a bird, depending on the version an eagle or a scaup (a type of duck), landed on Her upraised knee, and made her nest (in Larousse, the author, one F. Guirand, of course consistently calls the duck 'he', even though 'he' lays an egg, reverting to male-as-default even when it makes no sense.) In time, though, Ilmatar moves, and the egg rolls off into the Sea, where it breaks open. From the egg, then, which is of course a symbol of infinite potential and the beginnings of life and matter, Ilmatar creates the rest of the cosmos. From the yolk She makes the Sun, from the whites the Moon; from one half of the shell the Earth, and the other the dome of the Heavens.

She then shapes the land, hollowing out bays, smoothing out shores, arranging islands; she also sets up 'the sky's pillars.'

Finally, after more than seven hundred years, She gives birth to a rather impatient Väinamoinen, one of the heroes of the Kalevala.

Now, one of the other major heroes of the Kalevala is one Lemminkäinen, rather a rakish and impulsive sort; on one adventure He descends to Tuonela, the Underworld, where He is bitten by a poisonous serpent, drowned in a whirlpool, and then cut in pieces. His mother (Whom He didn't listen to, of course), searches for Him far and wide, taking many shapes:

The mother sought the one gone
astray, for the lost she longs:
she ran great swamps as a wolf
trod the wilds as a bruin
waters as an otter roamed
lands she walked as a pismire
as a wasp headland edges
as a hare lakeshores;
rocks she shoved aside
and stumps she tilted
moved dead boughs to the roadside
kicked dead trunks to form causeways.

('Pismire', in case you're wondering, is an old word for an ant.)

Finally the Sun tells her what He has seen; She Herself then descends to the Underworld and fishes the parts of his body from the river with a rake. She then reassembles Him, and brings Him back to life, and, yes, Lemminkäinen is rather a shamanic figure, as His death (threefold, incidentally) and dismemberment very much resemble a shamanic initiation.

But here's the thing. His mother goes unnamed, though She is clearly a very powerful figure, at the very least a powerful magician, probably a Goddess. But She is only ever called in the Kalevala 'Lemminkäinen's mother.'

But then there's this: Crawford, in the Preface to his 1888 translation, says that the Finns thought Väinamoinen, Ilmarinen, and Lemminkäinen to be descendants of Ilmatar, which is usually taken to mean they are Her sons. So Ilmatar, the Creation Goddess, the one Who formed the Earth, is Lemminkäinen's mother, and She has a name.

Another major Goddess is Louhi, the Mistress of Pohja, norther Finland or Lapland. She is roundly portrayed as an evil figure, Who thwarts Lemminkäinen, has the ability to lock the Sun and Moon in a dark cave, and let loose disease upon the land of Kalevala. She also demands that Väinamoinen forge the magical sampo as bride-price for Her daughter. She may well be the same as the Goddess Loviatar, the blind daughter of Tuonetar (the queen of the Underworld, Tuonela) and Tuoni (the king there and God of death). Like Ilmatar, She was also a virgin mother, in Her case made pregnant by the wind, and bearing nine sons Who personified various diseases.

Tuonetar Herself is infamous for Her hospitality: in the Kalevala She offers Väinamoinen a two-handled flagon of beer swimming with frogs and worms, then tells Him to drink up, to which He says He's not interested in getting drunk. She then tells Him he'll never see His home again.

Her daughters, like Louhi's sons, are Deities of diseases, the first being Loviatar (probably Louhi), as mentioned above, considered the origin of all evil. Other Goddesses of illness are Kipu-Tytto, Kivutar, and Vammatar.

Mielikki is the Goddess of the forest, invoked, with Her husband (or father-in-law) Tapio and daughter Tuulikki, for success in the hunt; She also protects domestic animals, like cattle, and heals wounded animals. Her name comes from the word for luck, mielu.

Vellamo is the Goddess of the Sea, said to be the wife of Ahti, the Sea God, a name often applied to Lemminkainen in the Kalevala, though in that epic His wife is Kylikki. Vellamo and Ahti live in a place called Ahtola, located under the waves by a cliff.

And I'll end this with Mader-Akka, a Goddess of the Lapps in the north. Her name simply means 'Woman'; her husband is Ukko, the God of thunder and the sky. Between the two of Them They created humanity; She making the bodies, and He the souls. Mader-Akka, or just Akka, granted fertility to women, and successful harvests; She corresponds more or less to Mother Earth. Her Estonian name is Maan-Eno; She was also called Rauni, after the rowan tree, which are sacred to Her.

Mader-Akka and Mader-Atcha (another name for Ukko, I assume) had three daughters, Sar-Akka, Uks-Akka, and Juks-Akka. If the child to be born was a girl, Sar-Akka placed the soul into the body to be born; if a boy, Uks-Akka did so.


New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology, section on Finno-Ugric Mythology, by F. Guirand.

Wikipedia (I know).

John Martin Crawford's 1888 English translation of the Kalevala, accessed through

Keith Bosley's translation of the Kalevala, from 1989.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Greater Celandine

After all that the next thing I write happens to be a G entry, ha! Isn't that just the way it goes.

This particular plant has been a familiar one since I was a kid. So familiar, yet I never knew its name until recently. It was just that weed that was everywhere and had that weird bright yellow sap. We used to break off stems and use them to write with as kids. But here's a picture of it, taken in my yard today:

And here's one from Wikipedia, showing its very familiar flowers (since it's not in bloom here yet):

Its Latin name is Chelidonium majus; it is not particularly related to lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria), which is a member of the buttercup family, greater celandine being a member of the poppy family (as evidenced by its four petals). The name comes from the Greek word for swallow, khelidon (χελιδων), as its bloom period coincided with the return of the swallows. It's the only plant in its genus, but still called majus, which means 'great' in Latin; I assume because of the common name. And kids, don't mix your Latin and Greek like that. It hurts.

It's not native to the 'new' world, having been brought over by the early European colonists for its medicinal value. From there it escaped, and spread, and spread, until now it is considered invasive in some states (though not in mine).

These days it's considered poisonous, toxic in moderate doses, so, though historically it was taken internally, personally I think I'll steer clear of that for right now.

It has a long association with the eyes: Pliny (the Elder, who died in the eruption of Vesuvius in 79CE) in his Natural History says the juice, boiled with honey, is good against 'films on the eyes' (cataracts, maybe?); Culpeper, who was quite a character, let me tell you (bit of a socialist before his time whose mission was to bring healing to the poor through the use of freely available herbs; he was at one point accused of witchcraft, natch), in his 1653 Herbal also says it is good for sore eyes. He connects the plant with Leo and the Sun, I assume because of its yellow flowers and yellow sap; as the Sun is long associated with the eye, perhaps that is part of where that comes from. He also says it is good for the liver and curing jaundice; again I suspect the yellow color has something to do with that. He recommends it against 'the tetters', what we call ringworm today, though it's not a worm but a fungal infection; one of greater celandine's common names was thus tetterwort. He also says 'It is good in all old filthy corroding creeping ulcers wheresoever' and man, I just gotta say Nicholas Culpeper is a real hoot sometimes. And then he goes on to grouse about how lesser celandine is misnamed, as any idiot can tell it's nothing like greater celandine and obviously unrelated (I paraphrase, but not by much, honestly; seriously, go read the Wikipedia article on him—his sarcastic use of all caps is genius).

But then he says something really interesting. He says that 'alchymists' use greater celandine to make a substance (after a lot of work, as usual with alchemy) that is 'sufficient for the cure of all diseases'. I'm not an alchymist myself, but that does sound rather close to the famed Philosopher's Stone, doesn't it?

The juice of the plant can irritate the skin (though I've been yanking it out of my gardens for years and have never noticed anything), and was used to treat various skin diseases, including warts, which the fresh juice is said to dissolve, giving it the really quite wonderful name of wartwort. It was also called swallowwort (from the Greek I assume), felonwart (a 'felon' being an inflammation of the fingernail), and kenningwort ('kenning' being related to sight, I think in this case pretty literally, given the connection with the physical eyes).

Those are all its traditional uses. Now to the magical ones, as they say. A.J. Drew in his Wiccan Formulary and Herbal says it transforms bondage into love; and Cunningham, in his Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs says it 'aids in escaping unwanted imprisonment and entrapments of every kind'. Both say to effect these changes one should make a sachet with the leaves, and carry it on the person.

As to my own experience with this plant, I suppose I should first say that I don't really have much experience with any plants, at least magically speaking; these articles are going to be, of necessity, more about book-learning than my impressions, or unverified personal gnosis if you prefer; but I will say this about greater celandine.

I was out on a walk the other day, through the old, historic part of town, and, since I've been thinking about herbs and plants a lot recently, I was paying quite a bit of attention to the plants at the side of the road. I saw no greater celandine, though it is all over my own yard.

Until, that is, I came to a house, one that is in serious disrepair, though it is still lived in. It is literally shuttered, and where there are no shutters the blinds are lowered; and the yard itself is all overgrown. I suspect, because I just have a sense for these things, that the person who lives there is a hoarder. And her yard was full of the stuff, like mine, like this hoarded yard my sister and I have been cleaning for several years now. Escape from imprisonment and entrapments, says Cunningham. There is a reason, I think, that it has caught my attention just now.


Nicolas Culpeper article at Wikipedia.

Chelidonium article also at Wikipedia.

The Complete Herbal, Nicholas Culpeper

Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, by Scott Cunningham

Natural History, Pliny the Elder

A Wiccan Formulary and Herbal, by A.J. Drew

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Blog Note

Apparently Blogger is being stupid about comments; I'd noticed it myself trying to leave comments on other blogs, but figured it was just me with my ancient (Mac) browser. I'm not sure what I can do about it, as it doesn't appear to be on my end; and I don't suppose if you're experiencing problems you can leave a comment letting me know, ha. So I don't know what to say except to let you know. Sorry.

Friday, March 30, 2012

G Is For Green and Growing Things

Okay, so I'm a bit late, again; I was having a block on the letter G. Alphabetical groupings don't necessarily make real sense; they aren't after all proper categories, just grouped together by more or less luck. So I've been finding I want to write about lots of things, but was having a hard time fitting it into the rules of the Pagan Blog Project.

Not that I'm giving up on it; I like that it is getting me to write here on this blog in a more consistent fashion. So I'm keeping it for now.

I've been working my way through Christopher Penczak's The Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft: Shadows, Spirits, and the Healing Journey. And though it's not one of the 'official' assignments in it, I'm finding I really want to learn more about herbs and plants. This is a big gap in my knowledge, one that really ought to be remedied if I am to call myself a Witch.

Now I've done plenty of gardening, and so I do know a few things about plants here and there; but this is a little different. This is about the history, the symbolism, the old connections and correspondences, not just the planting zone and does it want sun or shade. This is a more Witchy approach.

But it's a huge subject. And so I haven't known where to start.

But then it came to me: start where I am. I mean, that's where any of us have to start, anyway. And where I am is living on this little patch of land in New England, this yard. So I'll start there, with the plants that I've been looking at all my life, and then, maybe, branch out to the exotic stuff like mandrake (which I think is a couple planting zones out of my range, as I'm pretty sure it's native to the Mediterranean). So I'll start here, with my own yard.

To that end, then, this G is for Green and Growing Things is not going to be one article, but a series, as I find writing proper articles, for an audience, to be a very good way for me to make sense of information; in presenting it to others I have to make it make sense to myself, first. I'll give them all their own tag, too ("Herb Series"); I may even give them a listing of their own on the sidebar, just to make it easier for folks to find.

So I'm going to start with one of the most familiar plants in my yard, a plant that's always been there yet whose name I only figured out recently: greater celandine. Off to write!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

F Is For Feline Meditation

Funny, I had originally started posting this just as a bit of fun while I tried to think of the second F post for the Pagan Blog Project, as I had a bit of a block on it. But when I finished it I realized it was, after all, an entry for F. Well okay then.

This meditation requires a couple of willing participants. It will very much depend on the second of the two. The first being you, and the second being a happy cat who purrs loudly. You can see that this will depend on the cat. As it should.

But the next time you find yourself in close proximity to a happy cat give this a try. It works best if said happy cat is on your lap, but next to you within range of being touched is really all you need.

First, get that cat good and revved up and purring loud as a lawnmower. Then put your hand on the cat so that you can both feel and hear the purring. (You may need to keep patting the cat so it keeps up the loud purr).

Next, close your eyes and listen to that purr. Listen, really listen, to it. At the same time feel that purr. Feel it through your hand or wherever the cat is touching you, probably your lap.

Then, open yourself up and accept that purr into yourself. Let it fill your brain and your heart with joy.

Mind you, this is simply passively receiving what is freely offered to the air. You are most emphatically NOT pulling anything out of or from the cat; for one thing that would be rude, and for another this is a cat; seriously, don't be stupid: they will always out-witch you.

It works wonders as a mood lifter (well obviously) both in the moment and I think with more lasting effects, but it also works as practice in being in the here and now, in your body and grounded.

Give it a try!

Friday, March 16, 2012

F Is For Faery

I've been working my way through Christopher Penczak's book The Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft; this month, the third month of lessons since I started the book with the new year, is focused on the Lower World. Among other exercises such as finding your 'power animal,' (which I find I have to put in quotes because it doesn't seem like quite the right term to me), he also talks about beginning a relationship with the local fairies.

The thing about fairies, or faeries, or the Fay*, or the Good Folk, or whatever you call them in your neck of the woods, is that everyone knows, more or less, what they are, but no one can quite define them. I suppose that's appropriate, given their in-between nature. They might be nature spirits, the dwindled remains of former Gods, the Dead, all of the above, or something else entirely.

One thing that does seem to be agreed-upon, however, is that they have an aversion to iron. I have always taken this to mean that iron is a symbol of civilization and of mankind's determination to control and subjugate nature; and so as the voice of the wild, the fairies are naturally not too keen on the stuff.

Now that leaves me with a bit of a dilemma. You may have heard (or you may not have, since I imagine a few readers will have popped over from the Pagan Blog Project page), that my father was a hoarder. A hoarder who was also a mechanic, which influenced what he hoarded. Oh sure, he hoarded the usual things, newspapers, books, and used paper coffee cups, but his especial speciality was junk cars and, guess what, iron.

My sister and I have been cleaning up this yard for the last couple of years; that's a whole other blog. Hie thee over there for the gruesome details, including a video of the yard at its worst. Oh, it was bad. Trust me.

There were piles and piles of iron here, saved against Godsknow what dark future my father feared, though, honestly, my latest theory is that hoarders believe that if they save enough stuff for 'what-if' or 'someday' then they will be prepared. And by prepared I mean they think they will be able to avoid the bad stuff, because they have something saved just for that. And by bad stuff, I mean death. I really think that hoarders, or at least my father, think that if they save enough stuff they won't die.

Anyway. We've taken lots and lots of iron out of here in the last few years. By last count, and this is a real number because I have the receipts, we've brought more than seventeen tons of iron to the scrapyard. Yeah, seventeen tons. And it's not anywhere nearly cleaned yet. There's still plenty more where that came from.

The thing about iron is that is decomposes; it rusts. So even if we were at the point where we'd taken all the surface stuff away, there would still be bits and pieces of rust in the dirt. When we rake up the debris, the more we rake, the more iron and rust we find. My father hoarded this property for something like forty years; that's layer upon layer of rust, and leaves, and dirt, and I have no idea how far down it goes.

And there's plenty of iron in the soil around here anyway, just naturally. The local mill-stream runs red, and the rocks within are coated with it. We used to have well-water. I could never understand what people meant when they claimed water had no taste; to me it was this horrible metallic stuff. Once, my father put the faucet on a slow but steady dribble, then held a magnet to the side. The water bent.

And so where does that leave the local fairies? I can't imagine that any of them are going to want to come anywhere near my yard, not for a very very long time, like decades, maybe. Or if they do, or are here already, won't they be angry, really, really angry? Not that it is my fault, and yes, I am cleaning it up as best I can, but still. That much iron is not going to agree with them; it just can't.

And so I can't imagine inviting them in; it sounds, well, mean of me. Come hang out in a place that will hurt you. That's like asking your friends over when your smoke detector is stuck on alarm mode. Ouch. Penczak does say that it's optional, and something you should only do if you feel called to it; and so I think I will hold off on it for now.

I do think the fairies would approve of the clean-up job I'm doing; but I just don't think the place is anywhere near ready yet.

*Pet peeve from a Tolkienist: fey with an E describes a certain kind of who-cares-any-more clear-sighted despair due to being near to death and knowing it, for example in the late mental state of the guy of whom was said A Túrin Turambar turun ambar-tanen; it is not the same word as fay, which is another word for fairy. Maybe, maybe, under the definition of 'displaying unearthly qualities' it could be applied to fairy sorts, but, sorry, no, it's not just another way to spell 'fay.' SO STOP IT PEOPLE.

Friday, March 2, 2012

E Is For The Elements

Once upon a time I was in a coven. It was a while ago now; we split up when some of us moved north and others of us moved south and it just wasn't working, geographically, anyway.

In this coven, like a lot of others, when we cast circles we used the correspondences of east as air, south as fire, west as water, and north as earth.

I went along with it; it was what we did, and I guess I didn't think about it too much. But one thing always bothered me and never made any sense to me at all, and that was putting earth in the north.

North is winter. Winter is cold, dead, sleeping, comatose; none of this makes sense to me as earth. Oh I get that earth represents the Void in some ways, the black primal matter from which all else arises; but in my experience with the Void, or the wings of my daimon, shall we say, that black is not dead, but vibrantly alive, teeming with potential: radiant, even. And north and winter just don't fit that, for me.

If something is going to function as the I guess archetype of the element, then I'd expect that element to be awake, at least, and for earth, that means growth, luxurious unbridled inexhaustible life, zoë, as Kerényi would say. In other words, not winter.

But then in my wanderings about the internet I found this article: Re-Thinking the Watchtowers, by Mike Nichols. If you've never read it, go do that now, and then come back. I'll wait.

He makes a fairly compelling argument for doing it this way: east as earth, south as fire, west as water, and north as air.

So I tried it, since north as air fit with what I'd always seen, here in New England, which is so much like Old England, in both the lay of the land (once in fact the very same land, which split off with continental drift) and, more or less, in climate. North as the place from where the cold winds blow? Yes, that makes sense to me.

And it worked. Holy moly it worked. Everything got upped, got more powerful. I could feel it. Mostly, I think, because, like Nichols says in his article, you get a sort of 'generator' effect, of alternating 'feminine' and 'masculine' energies, of the obviously horizontal (earth and water, that which literally is the horizon and that which seeks the level, east and west) and the vertical (fire and air, both of which can flow upward, heat rising through the air, south and north); and it really does feel (to me, anyway) like an radial engine firing, round and round and round, building up power.

Now. One of Nichols's arguments for putting air in the north, is that it corresponds to the layout of the land, specifically the British Isles. When you look on the map, to the west is the Atlantic Ocean, to the south, the warmer lands (and eventually the equator), to the east, the great land mass of all of Asia, and to the north, the cold blustery Arctic, which, incidentally, is not land anyway, being a frozen ocean.

But then the other night I was again wandering about the internet and came across another web site talking about the elements and the directions; alas, I don't remember what the site was, so I can't link now, but the author recommended trying all kinds of different correspondences, to see what fit best for you. Everyone, after all, has different associations with things depending on circumstance and experience, or on how one's individual brain works.

So then I thought: well, much as I like England and wish I were there (I've been and it felt like home, oh my god it felt like home), I am not. I'm in New England. And when I look at the map of where I actually am, the land I am supposed to be grounded to, my landbase, as Hecate would say, what do I see? I see water, that same Atlantic Ocean, to my east, and the great mass of the rest of the country to my west. Now I know, west as the Sea over which the Dead pass, sure, that's very ingrained in folklore. Folklore that I've certainly read, and which resonates, because my family does ultimately come from those lands, but folklore which is still specific to a place that is not where I am now.

So I switched it again, putting water in the east, and earth in the west. It still has the same horizontal/vertical, feminine/masculine tension to it.

Now I've only just come up with this, and so I've only had one chance to try it, and that wasn't in a full circle, just as part of cleansing a space. But as I faced east, I could picture the ocean before me, the ocean I know and am familiar with; and facing west I saw the rest of the land, all the way across the Mississippi, over the plains, over the mountains, all the way, all this land, and I knew where I was. I could feel my feet firmly planted in the reality of this land, this specific place.

So I'd say, if you live on the eastern seaboard of the US (Hecate, yeah, I'm totally looking at you), give it a try. It grounded me instantly, profoundly, unthinkingly, just as a matter of course, because it represents where I am.

Friday, February 10, 2012

C is for Compassion

I used to have compassion for some people, by whom I mean my father.

But I have learned that having compassion for, well, people who are frankly abusive, doesn't get you very far. It's a nice idea, and it sure is easy to talk about if it's not your problem, if you've got the distance to be able to talk about it in the abstract, but—

My father was a hoarder. I've only had a name for it for a few years now. Before that, it was just this completely baffling... thing. Now, however, not only do I know that what he did is called hoarding, but I know that it is a serious mental condition, in his case, something called obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

Not obsessive compulsive disorder, let's get that straight. But a personality disorder.

And the thing with those is that the person doesn't change. The person can't change. The person doesn't think there's anything whatsoever wrong with them. It's the entire rest of the world who is wrong, in their mind. It is a fundamental brokenness in the brain. Think sociopathy, or narcissism.

I know, I'm repeating myself. Sometimes I think that saying it over and over again is simply validation, or maybe due to disbelief on my part, which I am trying to break through. It is a strange thing to come to terms with, when you grow up thinking it normal.

So people don't generally 'suffer' from personality disorders; like I said they don't think there's anything wrong with them. But the people around them sure do suffer.

If a person has something wrong with their brain, something that cannot even be perceived by them, never mind understood as something not-right, they are not going to change. They just aren't. They can't. But that person is also not going to be able to help harming those around them. They can't change that either.

I have found that having compassion for people like that, while you are one of those people around them, just means that they hurt you over and over again. And especially when that person with the personality disorder, the, shall we say, self-absorbed, or perhaps, toxic person, has trained you to consider their needs first, always. Well, that's not quite true; in my father's case it was more like his whims came first, before the needs of the rest of us. It was more important to him that he got to pile some rotton boards on top of each other in the yard, than it was to see that the water heater was installed. So compassion, in this case, just gets you hurt.

So fuck compassion.

Now, I may come back to it sometime in the future; I don't know. But here's the thing: there is nothing wrong, morally, with where I am now. Which leads me to the other C's:

C is for crooked path. And C is for curse.

I have never yet cursed anyone; I have, in the past, thought it morally wrong. But that was before I started thinking about things like my dysfunctional family and my neglected childhood.

I spent years, no decades, literally decades, trying to talk my father into cleaning something, anything, up. I memorized the littlest shadings of his moods, the subjects that would get him to open up, just a little, what time of day was best to talk to him. I learned diplomacy, when to push, when to leave things alone, what to bribe him with, how to butter him up, and I had the patience of all the saints combined.

It didn't work. It never worked. It couldn't work, because my father was incapable of change.

I have no patience left, none at all. I used it up. I also have no compassion for him, now; not, in this case, that I've used it up, but that it was coming at the expense of compassion for myself. And that must, absolutely must, come first.

And so I find my outlook has changed. I can see nothing wrong with curses, morally. They are simply neutral. Some things cannot be solved any other way. If someone is abusing you, and there is nothing you can do to stop it? Self-preservation must come first. You, I, have the right.

There is of course no need to curse my father now. He is safely out of the way in a nursing home, after a stroke that damaged what was left of his brain, after the personality disorder and the dementia he had due to age. He can do no harm where he is.

And I am very, very grateful for that.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Just letting everyone know that my CafePress store is down right now. I am sorry if there has been any confusion. In the meantime, I also have stores up at Printfection and Zazzle, if you're interested.

My Printfection store link

My Zazzle store link

I also have a section at Zazzle just for greeting cards, here.

Again I apologize for the inconvenience/bafflement.

Couple Updates

Yes, well, B is for Busy. B is for Behind. It's been a week o' kittens around here.

Ratty is doing well, though he really doesn't care for the Cone of Shame he has to wear so he doesn't yank out his stitches. Poor thing. Grooming is so hard-wired in the little cat mind that he's been attempting to lick, say, his shoulder, and ends up licking the inside of the cone. Over and over and over.

Ratty may not be the brightest bulb.

Also, Rory is staying. And there's a long story. I gave him up, with his brother, Wednesday morning. I was expecting I'd be sad to see them go—kittens are after all cute and sweet and all—I was not expecting that Wednesday night I'd find myself bawling my eyes out over Rory being gone. I wasn't sad; I was devastated.

Sometimes, I think, you just know. The look Rory gave me when I dropped him off and walked out of the shelter said it all—it wasn't one of Don't leave me! it was simply Where are you going? A little confused, but mostly calm, and very knowing. As if, he knows the story, and he knows how it ends, and that was not it.

I mean not like I need another cat. I really, really, don't. I can do it; the house is plenty big, and I've been feeding him anyway so I know I can afford it too. But...

The nearest I can figure is that he's meant to be my familiar. I mean the others are nice kitties and all, but they're not Rory. And it's not even that he's still a cute little kitten and they're getting towards full grown; honestly I'm kind of done with kittens after this last summer and I'd really like it if they could mellow out a little already. It's just that he's him. That's the best I know how to say it.

I mean, if you'd been stupid enough to give your familiar away, you'd feel about like you'd cut off your own arm, right?

So I more or less moved heaven and earth to get him back, which is apparently a huge, huge no-no with shelters. If you surrender a cat, damned straight you're not getting it back. I'm still not sure what the logic is, but they were nearly adamant. I thought for a while it just wasn't going to happen. But it did, and the powers-that-be softened, and let me have him. Well, I had to officially 'adopt' him, fee and all, though that included a neuter and lots of shots, so it's okay. Sure, I feel like an idiot, but I don't care. Because I've got Rory back.

It was a very long drive (Friday night Boston rush hour, oy), to the shelter, in of all places Salem, Mass; even without traffic, the drive back was like an hour and a half. He mewed a little here and there on the drive back, but was mostly quiet. Finally I pulled into the driveway and shut off the car.

And in the sudden quiet I heard something else, this low but loud thrumming.

It was Rory purring. He knew he was home.

What C is Really For

Because every time I sit down to write one of these Pagan Blog Project entries, I get this song in my head. Thanks, Ms. Pendragon.

So I figured I'd share. No reason to be going quietly insane all by myself, now is there?

Friday, February 3, 2012

C Is For Cinquefoil

So, in The Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft, which year-and-a-day course I've been following along with, one of the visions takes you to your Inner Temple.

Mine turned out to be a small square building with a column at each corner and a perfectly hemispherical dome leafed in gold; inside was a main room, the same size, more or less, as the outside, maybe thirty by thirty feet.

Of course though there were rooms off it and it was as they say bigger on the inside than the outside. One of those rooms lead to a library.

When I stepped into the library I caught a flash of a small yellow flower with five petals. Something little, and wild; it looked like a rose, or a primrose, maybe. Though if it was a rose it was a species rose, not a hybrid; maybe Father Hugo's rose, though that yellow is on the pale side.

I've done some gardening, though it is a damned frustrating experience in this yard what with the abundance of groundhogs and deer, not to mention both wild rabbits and the giant domestic one from across the street who keeps getting out of his cage and hanging out in my yard. My neighbor, like Ratty, may not be the brightest bulb; half the time when he comes over to retrieve his rabbit, he brings his dog. Because the surest way to coax a rabbit to come walking up to you is to bring a wolf with you. We've taken to calling the neighbor Mr. Fudd, as the rabbit is obviously smarter; the rabbit herself I'm calling Cunny, after the old pronunciation of coney.

Anyway. I have not, in this Witchy journey of mine, so far done much with herbs and plants, though last season I did manage a functional herb garden. It hasn't been my field, I suppose, and it's a little intimidating as I know it's just a huge subject. At any rate I have never sat down and tried to commune with plants.

And I'm not sure it's the season to try. Most everything is asleep, up here in New England, I'd think; it strikes me as the height of rudeness to go knocking on doors waking things up to say Oh hey tell me about yourself okay? So I'll wait on that, I think.

But I can at least look up some book-learning. I think the plant I saw is cinquefoil. I know it grows wild around here; I've seen its little yellow flowers about my yard as long as I can remember.

It's called potentilla, in the Latin, cinquefoil is. That name, as you may have guessed, means powerful. 'Cinquefoil' itself means 'five-leaved' and refers to the way the leaflets are arranged in a cluster like the five fingers of a hand. An older name, tormentilla, from the Spanish, means 'little torment', as in, it relieves little pains; and medicinally it was used to relieve stomach ache and diarrhea.

Here's a picture of it, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Photo by Hans Hillewaert

It's a very, very familiar plant. I know I have yanked it out of my cultivated garden on more than one occasion. Was that rude?

It is also known as five-leaved grass, or five-fingered grass. Culpeper (1653) says it is an herb of Jupiter, good for treating the quinsey, sciatica, St. Anthony's fire, and the bloody flux; mainly though he says it is good for inflammation and fevers 'whether infectious or pestilential,' and gives several ways to take it, usually by boiling it in wine to make a sort of tea.

I know I have seen plenty of cultivated varieties under the name potentilla; I think, come spring, I shall see how many of them I can find, to put in my garden. Then I shall sit down and see what they tell me. I'm interested in seeing how the wild version of a plant differs from a cultivated hybrid in what it has to say.

At the very least, I know it has said hello.

Sources: Wikipedia (yeah I know), Culpeper's Herbal

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ratty Update

Got a call from the surgeon this afternoon; the surgery went just fine, all is well, Ratty'll be home tomorrow or maybe the next day. He also said that it looked like an old injury, judging by the damage surrounding it.

Ratty's only seven months old. How old can an injury be?

I am still completely baffled as to how he did it in the first place, though I do recall that his feral mother gave birth to her kittens on top of a pile of wood under one of those little high-up windows in my downstairs garage. And I also remember scooping kittens up off the floor and returning them to her (as well as trying to make it safer by rearranging the boards so there was at least a little bit of a wall in the front).

He certainly hadn't been limping any earlier than the middle of last week.

I really don't know.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Quick Note

Well I've caught up on the Pagan Blog Project posts; but since I backdated the second A entry it's down a ways under all the kitten pictures (both visible rays and X-rays). Just wanted to point that out so it doesn't get lost. My own fault, I suppose, for backdating them.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Oh Ratty

Oh Ratty. Oh, oh Ratty. How on Earth did you manage this:

Let's get a bit of a close up:

Even a layperson such as myself can tell that that left hip-joint (his left, our right) is seriously out of whack. One of the vets I talked to today said she doesn't usually see something like that without some serious trauma—being hit by a car, falling out of a third storey window. Not that Ratty (or any of them) go outside, of course. Last week I did hear a loud crash coming from the cellar; when I got there though, not a single thing was out of place save an empty laundry basket, which was tipped on its side. All four of them just sat there looking at me with their heads tilted, wide-eyed, innocent, calm.

He'd been limping a little since about last Wednesday or Thursday, but he let me poke around and move his leg a bit. Silly me I didn't follow it up the rest of his leg until Saturday night, when I did finally notice that there was a big lump on the same side up by his hip (I couldn't really see it because of the fur; he's long-haired and fairly fluffy). And guess what—that turned out to be the head of his femur in a place it really shouldn't be, namely, completely out of the hip-socket by something like an inch and a half. Though otherwise he had seemed more than fine—despite the little bit of a limp he was running around, jumping up on things, frisking with his brothers like a crazy kitten, and purring up a storm as usual. Even today, when one of the vets (there were several) went to listen to his heartbeat, she had to put his heart rate down as 'purr'.

So Ratty gets to spend the next couple days in a cage, which he doesn't much like, keeping off it until he has his scheduled surgery on Thursday. Where they will, and this is completely counterintuitive, actually chop off the ball of the femur and just let the end of the bone rest in the socket. I know. I would have thought that putting it back in would be the right way round, but the vet said if they did that it would be prone to just popping out again. I guess something must be permanently damaged. Of course I was like well won't one of his legs be shorter than the other then? The vet said no, actually; he'll be pretty much completely normal, running around again in no time.

So that's all good, if don't-even-ask pricey. But there's nothing for it, of course; rest and home remedies aren't going to cure something like that.

Still, I'd like to know how he did it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

B Is For Bastet

So Bastet (or Bast) is the Cat Goddess of old Egypt. Those Egyptians, they had their priorities straight all right.

Her name means She of the bas, a bas being a type of ointment jar; in the exceptionally dry climate of Egypt moisturizer is an absolute necessity. I like to call Her Our Lady of the Salve.

Her cult center in Egypt was at the city of Per-Bastet ('the domain of Bastet' and now I'm totally cracking up at the I assume coincidental resemblance of Per to purr) up in the Delta; it was the capital of the 18th nome (administrative district; something like county, state, province) of Lower Egypt (lower of course meaning downstream in the case of the Nile, so that lower=northern, and upper=southern). It was famous for a particularly merry festival dedicated to Bastet, which involved lots of alcohol.

As you may well imagine, I've been petitioning Bastet left and right around here lately.

What? you say. Why is that?

All right; for those of you who have not been paying attention, I'll try to keep this brief.

Once upon a time at the start of last winter a little grey and white cat showed up on my doorstep, looking plaintively in at the glass door. That was Spot:

But of course she wasn't alone, oh no of course not. She had in tow three little kittens, who I reasonably enough named Splotch


and Stripey

Crap, I thought. I could instantly tell that two of the three at least were female by the tortoiseshell color schemes. And I've been around the block a few times and so knew exactly which direction that was going to go in.

So I asked Bastet for help. I asked Her to make sure that they had someone to look after them, and to find them a good home with enough food to last them through the winter.

What do you think I am doing? She purred.

Crap, I thought.

So I fed them, because it was the beginning of winter in New England and knowing they were there I could not let them starve.

I will admit I hemmed and hawed about the next part of it, though, because I could see what was coming and how much work it was going to be if I chose to do it. I mean it doesn't take the Sight to know what will happen when three (at least) unspayed female cats show up on your doorstep.

So I started looking around on the internet. But it took a while. For one thing, with the crap economy charities have very few resources nowadays. One particular cat charity, just last year, would come to your house, trap the feral cats, take them away to be neutered, deal with the aftercare and then bring them back to be released (as trapping, neutering, and releasing feral cats is really the best bet at population control, plus, you know, it avoids killing them); this year though they couldn't be arsed to even call me back, never mind lend me a trap or two. And it's true, I procrastinated a bit, because I knew it was a big job and it simply took time to get my brain around it. But in the end, yeah, it was my responsibility.

In the meantime, the Stripey kitten went missing. We found one by the road a few days later; maybe it was that one, maybe not. It had been there a little while and I honestly couldn't tell. We buried it.

So what with the hemming and hawing and lack of help with the traps (which I simply cannot afford to buy myself), and tracking down someone who would spay feral cats on the cheap, never mind psyching myself up to trap what is essentially a wild animal (I am, I suppose I should admit, a rank coward in more than a few ways), by the time early spring came around Spot had reproduced again, giving us this guy:

This one I managed to socialize, as his personality was fairly open to it (Splotch and Smudge were really skittish from the start). Plus the weather was nicer; it's hard to have much patience standing out there in January trying trying trying to coax a shy kitten to let itself get anywhere near you. So I ended up adopting him myself and now he's my Aleister Meowley, Frater Purrdurabo, the Lesser Beast (333). I've been calling him by his Chinese name lately, Miao Li (apparent younger brother to this Lady). I also sing him this song:

Well I hear you're just a kitten now
And I can see your pretty whiskers getting
in the tuna fish
You've got me right in your paws
Yes I'll put more in your dish

I know this world is thrilling you
Oh Aleister
Meow meow meow mew

Then of course before I knew it it was Splotch's turn, and she had these four, named after the place she gave birth to them, an old MG in the downstairs garage.

There was Austin

Healey (you can see she inherited her grandmother's spot)


and Morris Minor

By this time I'd been talking to the local cat shelter and knew I had to bring them inside. But before I could rearrange the dining room to accommodate them Morris Minor was killed, probably by a coyote. The bastard pretty much tore him in half and just left him there. So I buried him. Nature, sure. Child of the Goddess, sure. Still a bastard in my book.

So I got the other three inside, and socialized them. They all got adopted out, eventually.

Not, however, before it was Smudge's turn. She also had four, though one of them died at three weeks as it just didn't thrive (something like one out of four kittens don't make it for whatever reason). I buried that one too.

The other three, though, were Maurice (named after Morris Minor)

Danny Lyon

and of course, Ratty.

Oh, Ratty. That's the one I bottle-fed. And after all that work, he had to stick around too.

Then there was Danny and the long saga of him, which I haven't shared before and which is frankly rather a nasty story, involving a mother who insisted that she could handle taking care of him while I was away for a couple weeks; but one day I called to check up on them and was told that six-week-old Danny had 'broken his neck.'

Of course he hadn't; he was, instead, really, really, sick.

And my mother didn't see any reason to take him to the vet. She just sort of threw up her hands and said, O how sad! How terrible that nothing can be done!

It is a long story; basically I had to frankly bully my own mother from six hundred miles away into calling a goddamned cab to get that kitten to the emergency vet. She didn't want to. But she did. I swore a lot, and for some reason that worked.

When I later picked Danny up (after cutting my vacation short) the vet there said he was '95% dead' when he was brought in. They were, frankly, amazed that he recovered at all; one of the vet techs said she almost had a heart attack when she saw him trying to sit up the next day. A couple of weeks ago I stopped by the emergency vet to give them an update. The lady there said they don't usually remember animals since they come and go so quickly through there, but she sure remembered Danny.

One of the first things I did when I got home from my vacation was make an appointment with my lawyer, to make sure that, should something happen to me, my mother, specifically, is absolutely NOT to be the one making decisions for me.

I did say my family was dysfunctional. Yeah.

But anyway so then of course Danny stayed (you should see that vet bill, hoo boy).

I was going to put Maurice up for adoption, I really was. But he has this sort of chronicish respiratory condition which is well under control but still there, and I didn't know how adoptable he was going to be. Plus, he absolutely worships his Uncle Aleister. You should see it. He follows him around, rubs himself against him, gets in his path to head butt him, the whole thing. I suspect Aleister is a little annoyed with it all, honestly, but he tolerates it. So he stayed too.

Now, through all this summer of course there were eye infections going around, and no one could leave here until everyone got the all clear. Which meant putting this nasty ointment (why there's that word again) in their eyes. Plus there were some antibiotics in there for Maurice, never mind all the stuff Danny had to have, and honestly it's all kind of a haze now. It sure as fuck was a lot of work.

I did eventually scare up some traps, though I had to go pretty far afield (Boston, actually, which is not particularly local). And I caught all three of the mommy-cats, though I had to let Spot go the first time because she was obviously still nursing yet another batch of kittens. Now those are:

Rory (named after the marvellous Rory Pond, of course)

Flufius Maximus (that's Latin don't you know)

and their really quite exceptionally shy sister, Mademoiselle Zéphirine Chattonne-Gris.

(That's the best picture I have of her so far). All three of those are now in my dining room. Rory and Floof have been good to go for ages; they socialized fairly easily, though Floof took a little longer. But they are still here, because their sister is really very, very, very shy; I'm only just at the point where I can pet her a little while she eats without her freaking out. The two boys are a help with her; when she sees them come out and climb all over me purring I can see the wheels turning in her little cat head, that maybe, just maybe, I'm okay. So for now they're here.

And in the meantime Spot has been spayed. Which means all three of the mommy-cats are missing the tips of their left ears, as well as their reproductive organs and man I can tell you that makes me so very happy. Because this last batch is it.

Well, so much for brevity. But that's been my life lately. It's a lot of work. Oh sure, I know, sounds awful, doesn't it, hanging out with kittens and making sure they get enough cuddles and playtime; but, really, what I've been doing is transforming eleven wild animals into eleven tame animals. Holy fuck is this a lot of work, especially given my lack of mothering proclivities.

So I've been, like I said, bending Bastet's ear a bit this past year. And She has come through. I've always (eventually) gotten help when I needed it.

But I've been too busy to make any proper offerings. The most I'd done was offer some incense, and keep Her statue on my altar dusted.

Yes, well.

That's not actually how it works, is it. I have been making offerings. I have been making sacrifices to Her. All this, all this work I've done, this Work I've done, this real-life hard slog feed the kittens medicate the kittens drive the kittens to the vet, the shelter, the place to be neutered, trap the mothers, but no let that one go because she has very young kittens and she can't be away from them that long yet, trap her again later, get them all spayed and release them and keep feeding them and trap Zéphirine before it's too late and socialize them and tame them and pay attention to them first because they need to eat now and I want to go to bed but I have to clean the litterboxes first—all of it, is all an offering. It's all many offerings, over and over again, to Bastet, to the Goddess of the Cats.

I know this is true, and I know it is what She wants. Because when I look at Her now, all She does is purr.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Is Also For Ancestors, Again (An Addendum)

So one of the other things I've been up to lately is taking one of Max Dashú's online courses, this one called Spiritual Heritages of Ancient Europe, part two (I missed part one). Today Max gave a web seminar (also called a 'webinar' for all you techno-kids out there) about megalithic statues of Europe, mostly western Europe if I'm remembering correctly, like in present-day Spain and Portugal. Especially, of course, the stones that are identifiably female.

Many of the stones have very similar faces: a highly stylized straight browline, a squarish or pointed nose depending from that, with two circles for eyes. And, in most cases, no mouth. Like this one, from neolithic Provence, dating to the end of the fourth millenium bce, though it's not technically a megalith, being just shy of a foot tall:

I scanned that in from Gimbutas's The Language of the Goddess (drawing by Patricia Reis); Gimbutas calls it a depiction of the Owl Goddess, a form of Death Goddess, as the owl is long associated with death and the night; Max was saying though that she thinks it more likely as representing the ancestors, the dead, because the dead don't speak. In fact she'd titled the lecture 'Grandmother Stones.' You can see some more of these type of stones here, at her site.

So I thought that interesting, not just in general but in the timing for me as well given yesterday's post, since as far as the rest of the course goes we're talking about Rome right now. So it got me thinking.

As you may have guessed from my last post, I've got some issues, shall we say, with the idea of the ancestors, at least the immediate ones, what with the rather dysfunctional upbringing and all. Also, though it is hard to explain succinctly, thanks (or no thanks) to said upbringing I have always felt like I am starting from scratch; I've always had the feeling that nothing I accomplish ever sticks. Like I said, it is hard to explain, and I suppose I should refer you yet again to Tetanus Burger where you might be able to get more of an idea as to why. And feeling like I'm always starting from scratch means it feels like I've never had anything to build on, which is what the idea of ancestors is all about, isn't it. That there is an unbroken line going back and back. That you are not the first. That you have something to build on, something that is yours, because it is your family, your blood.

So maybe I need to think of it a little more distantly, more abstractly. Fuck these few generations I can see; after all my line, because I am here, on this Earth, now, goes back and back and back. From what I know I am of British blood, by which I mean, of the isle of Britain: English, Scottish, Welsh. But before that there has to be continental Celtic, and Anglo-Saxon, and Teutonic in the middle of Europe, and whoever else was there first before the migrations and invasions and it is perfectly plausible and in fact likely that the ancestors of my ancestors were the ones raising stones like that.

So then I thought: this is basic, basic stuff. This is not about grandmother's apple pie recipe (or, rather, Depression-era chocolate cake made with bacon grease, gah); this is simply about living long enough to have a healthy child, and that child living long enough to do the same, and so on and on. And I thought: what would she be called then, this old, old ancestor? She would be called She-Who-Survived.

She-Who-Survived. That is a powerful name, a powerful idea, for a kid who was frankly neglected, whose survival was not exactly guaranteed. I mean I'm here, so I did, and I can't even say it was really touch-and-go, properly, but... We had no hot water growing up, because when the water heater broke my father couldn't be arsed to fix it, and due to the OCPD he wouldn't let anyone else fix it; and, because he was a miser he never let the heat get more than fifty-five degrees in the winter here, in New England. And trust me, your brain and your instincts do read being that cold all winter as a threat to survival. That's the kind of cold that sinks into your bones. It's the kind of cold that becomes the default state in winter; being warm is the exception, the brief foray into comfort. It always comes back to the cold in the bones.

So. She-Who-Survived. I think She might make the best kind of ally.

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Is For Ancestors

Ah yes, where to start.

I don't think I like most of my ancestors. I mean, I can't help but acknowledge that they are my ancestors, I mean duh. And while the fact that I am here can tell me some things (like for example somewhere along the line they survived the bubonic plague long and successfully enough to keep the line going, as I am of European descent and I simply wouldn't be here if they hadn't), I've never really understood what the fuss is about. I think, most people just automatically, of course, how could you think otherwise, honor their ancestors because they come from decent people.

My family isn't close. I realized for the first time not that long ago that I actually have three Cousin Toms. The generations are skewed, and long, and so growing up none of my cousins were any where near my age. That also means that I have pretty much no experience of grandparents, besides maybe a single blurry memory of my mother's father when I was very young.

If you have been over to my other blog, Tetanus Burger, you know that my father was a hoarder. You will also know that that was caused by what can only be a serious case of Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, which, before you go thinking you know what that is, is most emphatically not the same thing as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. OCPD is a personality disorder, which as far as I can tell, pretty much just comes down to a fundamental brokenness in the brain. The person with it cannot see that they have it, and in fact, a lot of the time, will not only deny that there is anything whatsoever wrong with them, but will also adamantly insist that it's the entire rest of the world who is wrong. And they believe it. With my own eyes I have seen my father confronted with a reality that did not fit with his belief. He looked at that reality, and then repeated his belief, over and over, louder and louder, though the proof that he was wrong was right in front of him. In his world if reality and belief were in conflict reality lost. This also means that people with personality disorders kind of don't get that the people around them are people and not extensions of their own world, or rather their own selves, since that is the same thing to them. And when you come right down to it that rather precludes empathy. Don't forget, other personality disorders include things like narcissism and sociopathy.

Speaking of narcissism, yeah. That's the other one that runs in the family. It's been fun here, lately, and the word that keeps coming to mind is unfortunately toxic, as in, my family is toxic.

So, if you're a family member and you're reading this, well, that's what you get for snooping on a Witch's blog, isn't it. Well, unless you're Cousin L, you're cool. You're about the only one, though.

What I know of my grandparents isn't good. I suppose I should confess straight up that I have no problems speaking ill of the dead. I've been rather enamoured of truth, lately. My father's father, well, he might have been all right, but he died young, and by that I mean in like 1934. My father's mother, well, I'm pretty sure I know where the hoarding gene came from. I've heard some atrocious stories about the state of her house.

On my mother's side I don't know much about my grandmother, though I have the impression she was pretty controlling. As for my grandfather, well, I don't really care if it was accepted practice at the time to hit your children with your belt, or to give your daughter bread soaked in milk for dinner, while you sat there eating steak; I consider that abuse and neglect, and so I consider you a bastard.

So really, I don't want much to do with them, my literal ancestors. I certainly am not inclined to put up an altar to them. In fact, my father in particular (though he's not technically dead yet) was such a miserly bastard that I really don't want anything to do with him again, ever. Not in this life and not in any other lives. I've considered, even, some kind of ritual to sever myself from him, karmically, I guess you'd say. I don't want to bump into him ever again.

I don't care if that's harsh. It's true. One of the things you don't get growing up in a hoarder's house is space, not physical space, not personal space, not emotional space; there is no ease at all to anything. It is all, always and entirely about the hoarder. And so there is certainly no space, none at all, for a voice.

I've found mine now. And I will scream and curse if I feel like it.