Hail Mercury!

As usual when I’m in the middle of Mercury retrograde, I’m struggling.

Intellectually, I know that the seemingly backwards motion of a distant planet simply cannot be responsible for the mucked up communications, electronics issues, thwarted travel plans, and generally icky energy I’ve been dealing with this last week. But time and time again, the anecdotes I hear and situations I experience seem to prove that distant bodies influence earthly energy.

So, for now I simply offer this graphic:

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2014 Projects: Wooden Blocks

I recently had the joy of creating a gift for my niece — a set of wooden blocks for her to play with. I’ll confess it wasn’t my first time, having made a set for my nephew, Connor, when he was about the same age.

I start with wooden blocks (of course) and then choose images from childhood ‘fairy tales’. I grew up on these tales, as did my sisters, and I think we all have fond memories around them. (Family legend includes stories of how the three of us would put on plays based on the tales, with me as the director frantically attempting to make my recalcitrant sisters do what we planned to do. Yes, I was bossy even then, and controlling. I like to think we laugh now, at least as much as the adults did back then.)

Blocks!

This collection has five stories: The Nightingale (two pictorial versions), The Princess and the Pea, The Snow Queen, and The Twelve Swans. The fifth story doesn’t have a name that I could find, but the images of children playing and flying through fireworks were too enchanting for me to pass up.

detail from The Nightingale

To make them, I size the larger images to roughly the size of the blocks when put together. Then I print in the highest quality possible to thick paper. (Not quite cardstock, too rigid, but something with a bit of heft to it.) Using my handy-dandy paper cutter, I cut the images in pieces to fit each block. Then I glue them on with basic white (non toxic of course!) glue. This part is the mostly difficult, and I usually have to trim the pieces slightly to make sure them fit. Even them, sometimes the images slip a bit over the edge when I apply the glue and by the time its dry, I’ve got an edge.

detail of the little boy

That won’t do for a child, so after gluing each side down and then reapplying glue at least twice more, out comes the exacto blade. Each edge is trimmed carefully, and then I take a nail file and file it down so its nice and smooth. (I guess sandpaper would work, but I didn’t have any ad I was afraid it would take the image off by accident. The nail file offered a lot of control over where I was applying it.)

Oh woe is Me!

Voila! Happy baby blocks.

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Bucket List: Update 2014

Two and a half years ago, I shared my ‘bucket list’ with you. I think it’s time for an update. (tl; dr: Lot’s of things in progress.)

So, what’s on my bucket list?
1.Take a cooking class — scheduled
2.Master knife skills
3.cook all meals for a month (no dining out)
4.cook all meals for a month (no dining out OR using prepared foods [like ravioli])
5.visit all 50 states
6.eat at the ‘top’ restaurant in every city I visit
7.start a garden (grow food)
8.compost
9.collect rain
10.create a passive income stream
11.add swimming 2x week
12.exercise daily for a month — in progress
13.exercise daily for 3 months
14.exercise daily for 6 months
15.exercise daily for a year
16.Learn Tai Chi
17.Improve library bookshelves — in progress
18.Create a guest/fitness room — in progress
19.Remodel the bathroom to be your dream room
20.Pay off mortgage in 20 yrs or less — in progress (2030 or earlier)
21.Structurally reintegrate yr body (SOMA) — in progress
22.Maintain alignment
23.write another book
24.convert a previous book & give it away to the community
25.Teach at a ‘con (again) — in progress
26.learn to make the dumplings of the world
27.pet a BIG cat (Tiger, etc.)
28.Travel (see list)
29.learn to sing
30.master self-hypnosis — in progress
31.Be 100% debt free — in progress
32.Get to your best possible place physically — in progress
33.plan for maximal retirement opportunities — in progress
34.Learn belly dancing (again)
35.landscape front yard — in progress
36.landscape back yard — in progress
37.remodel kitchen — in progress
38.learn to take awesome photos
39.catalog electronic data (in progress) — DONE
40.make a household binder — in progress
41.clean out extraneous objects (continuous) — in progress
42.Save (house) $10k/ yr plus maxing out 401(k) and IRAs  — DONE
43.Learn to bead
44.paper crafts: learn/ do for a year
45.Do 50 push ups, 50 crunches, and 50 lunges on my 50th birthday
46.Write your biography — in progress
47.Collect family stories (record, transcribe)
48.Do web videos
49.Skype and ‘cam a ritual — in progress
50.Give up meat for a month
51.Catch up w/ friends more often  — DONE
52.Get a mehndi tattoo
53.See all of Shakespeare’s plays
54.Watch turtles hatch & run for the ocean
55.Find a piece of pre Green Mark Belleek in Ireland and purchase it
56.Attend the Super Bowl

That travel list? Here you go:

Visit the 7 wonders of the world:
? Stonehenge
? Colosseum  — DONE
? Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa
? Great Wall of China — instead: Ely Cathedral
? Porcelain Tower of Nanjing – Instead Cluny Abbey
? Hagia Sophia
? Leaning Tower of Pisa
? Great Pyramid of Giza (ancient, only one still standing)

Ride a gondola in Venice
Ride the Orient Express
See the RSC in Stratford-On-Avon (again)
Northern England & Scotland
Paris (again)
London (again)
Spain: Madrid, Barcelona
Greek Islands
Turkey
Maldives
Sunrise at the Great Pyramid
Cruise down the Nile
Visit a black sand beach
Tucson, AZ
Carmel/ Big Sur, CA
Key West, FL
Sistine Chapel, Rome  — DONE
Bahamas
Cayman Island
Amsterdam
Ellis Island, NYC
Chicago, IL
Washington, DC (again) — in progress
Vancouver, BC (again)
Montreal, QC (again)
Bora Bora
A week at a 5 star spa resort
Ride the West Highland Railway, Scotland
Stendhal from Paris to Venice (?)
Full Moon Party on Tortola
Burning Man
Go on a cruise
Whale watching
Sail down the Nile
Karnak Temple (Egypt)
Turks & Caicos
Walk Hadrian’s Wall
See the Garden of Cosmic Speculation (Scotland, again)
Ireland (again)
Sleep in a castle

But what I think is the more interesting question is — what have I already done? :-)  That’ll be another post.

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2014 Projects: Blurb Book: Our Honeymoon

Several years ago, J. gave me a lovely new camera — a real one, one that adults might use – as a gift. It’s a bit intimidating, because while I love to take photographs, and I am proud of the work I do, this is a camera that requires a bit of effort to master.

I haven’t really,

But I have picked up a few tricks and I think you’ll see that in the next book I gave him for the holidays — one that documented our honeymoon.

This link will open a PDF of the book. (The .pdf is nearly 30mb, so it may take awhile.)

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A Mabon Meditation (Probably Not What You Think)

Today’s meditation is about balance.

No surprise, really, given that Mabon is a celebration of the Equinox a time of equal night and day and many ritual texts work with this symbolism. But ‘balance’ has come to mean ‘duality’, which is such a Western frame of reference, with its inherent opposition and underlying sense of fragility. Even threat. Or hopelessness.

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2014 Projects: Blurb Book, London 2007

One of the main holiday gifts I gave my husband, J. last year was a couple of books through a company called Blurb. The first was from one from our trip to London back in 2007. What I learned more than anything? I needed a better camera (see an upcoming post). But I had a lot of fun culling through the 1000+ pictures we took (yay for digital pictures) and choosing the ones that meant something special to us, as well as being particularly interesting.

I thought you might enjoy it as well.

This link — London 2007 — will open a pdf of the book.

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Spirituality & Activism

Every since I read T. Thorn Coyle’s profoundly beautiful post, “Opposition is a Prayer,” I have been contemplating whether my spiritual practice needs to be politically charged. Are the two linked?

In discussions I’ve had people tell me that they equate politics with control, and that much of their of spiritual journey has been about giving up control, so for them they need to keep politics out of it. My own HP wisely pointed out that it was a personal choice, not a requirement.

For me, politics was always a dirty word and something to be avoided at all costs, other than voting. But as I grow older and see the same old crap coming around again and again, I’m starting to get irritated, and then (finally) angry.

And maybe because my spiritual life is an intrinsic part of my life, its all wrapped together. I’ve done spell work and magic for political outcomes, and will do so again. I’ve put my money and resources into causes that catch my immediate attention, and the ones that I feel are fundamentally in need of ongoing support.

Mostly, though, I see the AoR class as my longest magickal political act, as I am aiming to create subversives and rebels, free thinkers and radicals. Critical thinking people who will go into the world with just a little more awareness, a tad more questioning, and less acceptance of the status quo. . . and in turn raise the ‘vibration’ of people around them . . . until the influence of the class has spread much further than just I, or us.

That’s my kind of radicalism.

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setting roots

“I have a hypothesis that everyone is born with the same amount of luck,” says cartoonist Scott Adams. “But luck doesn’t appear to be spread evenly across a person’s life. Some people use up all of their luck early in life. Others start out in bad circumstances and finish strong.” How would you assess your own distribution of luck, Virgo? According to my projections, you are in a phase when luck is flowing stronger and deeper than usual. And I bet it will intensify in the coming weeks. I suggest you use it wisely — which is to say, with flair and aplomb and generosity.

All of creation loves you very much. Even now, people you know and people you don’t know are collaborating to make sure you have all you need to make your next smart move. But are you willing to start loving life back with an equal intensity? The adoration it offers you has not exactly been unrequited, but there is room for you to be more demonstrative.

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“The seed cannot sprout upwards without simultaneously sending roots into the ground,” says an Egyptian proverb. Keep that thought in mind as you head into your next phase of growth. What part of you needs to deepen as you rise up? What growth needs to unfold in the hidden places as you gravitate toward the light? How can you go about balancing and stabilizing your ascension with a downward penetration?

Again, I don’t often look at Brezny’s Free Will, but for my birthday last week, I did, and took the two horoscopes before and after as divinations.

My heart chakra has been bruised, its injury decades old and born from successive events. Broken, even. For a long time I wasn’t sure I could love and learning differently was a difficult task. Yet I have loved life with intensity, knowing I am blessed in many ways, surrounded by fortune. RB’s words do not strike me as unexpected. I have been feeling disconnected and ungrounded, lacking my usual zest. How to overcome the ennui, which I suspect arises from tiredness, I do not know.

At the same time, because I am tired, the idea of deepening and growing is not at all what I want to do … all the more reason for the Universe to be pushing me into it. I’m a seed lying shallow in the dirt. Time to do the necessary work of setting in before the frost so that winter’s dreamtime can be its most productive.

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2014 Accomplishments/ 2015 Goals

Each year I like to look back over the previous year, and then set goals for the coming year. Many people do this on Jan 1st; I prefer to do it on my birthday. I often refine the accomplishments and goals until my new year, Samhain, but the bulk of the work is done on or around my birthday. I also like to do a tarot reading.

(I apparently didn’t blog for 2013, another indication of the deep introspection I was feeling at the time. I’ll have to see what I did on paper (I keep a journal, sporadically). One reason for doing this, btw, is that time seems to be speeding up, and things I thought I did last month actually happened a year ago – I’m beginning to lose my perspective. Or gain it, depending.)

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Another Solar Return

Another year has passed, and I find myself beginning to emerge from a bit of a turning inward.

I’m reluctant to ascribe it to (yet another) after-effect of having cancer, but I won’t deny the possibility: I stopped doing anything public except a bare minimum of writing, and got pretty shallow with my offerings in that arena. My coven has suffered from my inattention, and I’m trying to not beat myself up for having failed my mythical public. I turned inward, but I wasn’t particularly introspective. At least, not energetically or with purpose.

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