My author’s copies of Magickal Connections arrived today — what a sweet surprise! Truly perfect timing, too, since I can take them with me to Toronto this weekend!

It really looks good — and J. likes the Dedication. 🙂

J. turns 35 in May, and that is a milestone birthday (in my view). So I decided to give him his dream vacation. Unbeknownst to him, in early December I purchased airplane tickets, a hotel room, and center-theatre 8th row seats for Mary Poppins . . . in London.

Since then I’ve been a mistress of mis-direction and outright lies.

Oh, I laid a clever path. In January I “confessed” that I was going to take him on a trip for his birthday — to DC. That covered the need for a week’s worth of packing, taking time from work, and prevented him from making any other plans during that time.  I’ve held simultaneous conversations with his parents, in one email telling them how nice it would be if they joined us in DC; in another, telling them the true plans for the trip. We talked about seeing the symphony and going out of town to visit various Civil War sites.

I was a clever girl.

But I can’t keep a secret. Lying is intrinsically foreign to my nature. Last night over dinner, I broke. I just couldn’t keep it in, and he spotted the glow. He guessed I was keeping a secret, and he even let me off the hook to tell him what it was. But the words just popped out before I could dissemble or prevaricate.

“Would you mind if we didn’t go to DC for your birthday?”

“Of course not. We’d have to tell my parents.”

“They already know. Because you’ll be spending that week in London. I hope that is ok?”

He just looked at me. For a long moment I almost started to worry that I’d done this wrong. That somehow I had really misunderstood. “I’ve gone too far” I thought.

His smile was what I needed to see right then, and I got it. He was, he told me later, really sorry he’d made me worry, but I’d just given him his dream and he couldn’t quite believe it.

It was a good thing we were finished with dinner because he wanted to get right home (our other plans were no longer interesting). He had planning to do!

And I am downright smug. Oh, I wish I could have held to my plan to keep it a secret for another 2 months, until we got to the airport to pick up the rental car and instead went to the international terminal. That would have been a perfect surprise, and a fantastic story.

But this way he gets to plan and dream and revel in the happiness for a few extra months.

I win. 🙂

J. really enjoys Muy Thai. It turns out that he really wants to get into the sparring side of the sport (I’m more interested in the physical conditioning.) That happens in the invite-only Friday night class. I’m proud to say that he’s improved so much over this last year he was invited to go.

Before I go further, I want to give you a glimpse of our instructor, JS. JS is in his mid 30s and incredibly fit. He is strong, fast and a superb instructor. When he works out with you, he is holding back anywhere from 90 to 50 percent, depending on your skill, strength, and readiness. At my best, I could take about 50% from him (and that was a lot.)

So, sparring with JS is a serious affair — it requires a mouthguard, cup, and head gear. It also involves getting hit, deliberately, so you come to understand that you can get hurt and still keep going. J had a breakthrough about it, in his words:

“So, I’m working out with JS and we’re doing jabs and covers. I stopped and said “JS, I want to say something, and I want to be very careful, and clear, about how I put this. I really want to do the Friday class, but I think I need to get hit first. By you, rather than a stranger.

JS looks at him a moment, and replies: “Let me get this straight. Are you asking me to ‘go off’ on you?”

“God no! Just, ummm, get me used to getting hit.”

(JS going off on J is like a Rottweiler attacking a Boxer.)

Ok, another story to amuse:

Last week, J was feeling pretty tired in class, so he was paired with a grandmother, M. Yes, I’m serious, she is a grandmother. But M is also a fitness trainer in superb condition. She’s new to Muy Thai and so isn’t used to getting kicked and punched. They were doing high covers and J was being careful to connect, but not too hard. So M says, “you can hit me harder, I can take it.” J steels himself and hits her harder — enough so that her head kind of wobbles back and forth and she’s a touch dazed. “That’s perfect,” M says.

“I’m going to hell” J thinks, “I’m hitting a grandmother.”

Today I re-arranged my office. Since we moved in, my desk has been in the SouthWest corner, monitor (and therefore me) facing east. Now my desk is in the NorthWest corner, but rotated so now I face South.

At tonights Dark Moon ritual, the energy shift was palpable. I barely called a circle when it started to pulse through me, and my HP (the leader for tonight) remarked that it was incredible how powerful tonight’s energy was.

It’s never matter which direction I face — the energy always felt the same. Is it a shift in my being? My perspective? Working so consistently in one space — and that space OWNED by me (and therefore intimate on a primal level). Its tough to explore, I really hate moving my office around, and there are few configurations I can employ. Besides, this direction feels very good — why change?

 I think I’m quite pleased with this discovery.

Did you know that blogs get spam? That is, the authors get spammed. I guess the idea is that lazy bloggers will automatically approve all comments to their posts and therefore provide free advertising for everything from politics (anti Bush!) to sex-related ads, gambling sites, and other such trash.

Sometimes the comments are hilarious. I’ve had this one in my ‘defer’ pile for a months or so now:

Pay Day Loans | pocjw@lycos.com | ontimepaydayloan.com | IP: 222.112.249.128

The Irish also worked on the railroads in the same time frame and have their own stories of being the sacrificial lambs to set the day before pay day, Pay Day Loans (site deleted)

Historical? sort of. Accurate? Maybe. Amusing? Definitely.

I guess this one hits a nerve because I am Irish (primarily, I’m really a Euro-Mutt, but that’s another post), and my grandfather made quite a nice living on the railroad. Not, as this post implies, as someone who laid tracks but as a conductor and manager. (That’s the ‘lace curtain’ side of the family.)

So, thanks for trying to point out the plight of my ancestors getting screwed, in a post advertising a new way to get screwed. (In Washington state there is currently a debate — an angry debate — about whether to pass a law limiting the interest charged for so-called ‘payday loans’ to 63%. Yes, sixty-three percent.)

We had a lovely, lovely, lovely ritual last night. A whole new text, only loosely based on previous years, was ours to manifest. It came out great. (It is a bit tricky for me to say things like this, as I am the primary ritual writer for JaguarMoon.)

We’ve been unhappy with our circle casting for a number of years. For one thing, the words are lifted right from Silver RavenWolf and Gypsy (which I only discovered a couple of years ago.) For another: they refer to a direction/element/color system we don’t actually follow.

Black Spirits and White/ Red Spirits and Gray/ Hearken to the tune I say . . . East is red for the break of day/ South is white for noon’s tide of power/ in the West is twilight gray/ North is black for the place of power

That was the original. Like I said, we don’t follow that color system for the directions. We like the feel, and the rhyme, but not the substance.

But I don’t write well when the Muse is not present, and a new circle casting just didn’t come to me. (We’ve tried a few alternates over this year, but they were all pretty clunky.) Then, about two weeks ago, Inspiration came and the words just flowed.

We are *much* happier with the new text and will be incorporating them into future rituals.

While I was re-writing that section, I was nagged to take a look t the body of the rite. Sure enough, changes were needed there as well. The original had an elaborate dance and kiss — based on the Farrars’ ritual (see: A Witch’s Bible). Its ok, but as I was refelcting on it I realized that the whole ‘give me but one kiss’ and giggling dance betwee the Youth and the Maiden wasn’t really appropriate. Imbolc is the time of Lugh, the Young God. (Yes, it is also a celebration of Brigit, but this is the God’s time of year, why are we focusing so much on Her, not Him? He is young and glorious and the whole winter doldrums thing is getting Him down, just a bit. Ostara is the time of Their sacred marriage (just as Beltane is the time of Their loving and Litha is when the tide of power shifts to Her). So we basically took Her out of the ritual (She’s there, but not as an Aspect or Name) and focused on Lugh. On the practical side, we lit the sacred fires and cast or dreams into the fire to manifest in the coming year.

It was a good ritual — clean and cohesive. I’m looking forward to re-writing Ostara to bring it more inline with the idea of the Marriage.

The galley copy of my new book (Magickal Connections) arrived on Wednesday and its been consuming me. I’m not supposed to make wholesale changes (too late!), or worry too much about proofing (because there is a a professional copy editor going over it). But I’m a Virgo and I can’t help but give it a close read.

So close, in fact, that I will blow my Monday 2/5 deadline for returning the mss. I hope they don’t care too much.

The book, overall, looks really good. I like the fonts they’ve chosen and the graphics have mostly come out fine. (I wish I’d known they were going to be b/w because I would have insited that the image for ‘freeform’ be changed. The point is sort of lost without the color.) The layout is good and my idea for ‘boxes’ seems to be working well on the page.

MC is real.