Thursday, May 29, 2014

K is for Kitchen Witch

Since I’ve written several posts on what being a kitchen witch means to me, I thought I would do something a little bit different and discuss the various ways of introducing witchery into the kitchen.

Ways of Making Your Kitchen a More Magical Place

1.       First of all, repeat to yourselves: I do not hate the kitchen.  I do not hate the kitchen. I do not hate the kitchen.

For many people it is a place of drudgery.  Food prep, cooking, and cleaning can take up so much time that a lot of people prefer to avoid this space as much as possible.   However, we all know it is healthier and more economical to cook at home as much as possible. 

If you are like me and already love being in the kitchen and feel most at home there, skip to the rest of the list.

2.       Set up an altar.  The stove/oven combination is the closest thing most homes these days have to a hearth.  This makes it the ideal location to set up an altar.  On the back of the stove, you can place a small representation of your chosen hearth deity.  Add a candle to represent the hearth flame.  You can also leave a small dish for offerings nearby.   This is a good location because it is out of the way, but you should still choose things that are easy to move if you need to.

3.       Decorate.  Paint if you can.  Make it homey with earth tones or spice it up with bold colors like terra cotta, yellow, shades of red.  If you can’t paint, you can put up pictures.  Use poster putty if you aren’t allowed to put holes in the walls.  Hang up pictures of your kitchen deity, your favorite foods, and anything else that inspires you.  Put pictures on the fridge, or decorate it with paint that washes off easily. 

4.       Live plants are wonderful to have, especially if you have a place for culinary or magical herbs.  Just make sure you don’t grow anything poisonous in the kitchen!   Aloe is great for burns and for home protection.  Rosemary is a purifying herb that also imparts a wonderful flavor to many different dishes.   Check out a book on magical herbs (Cunningham, for example).  I also like Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen. 

5.       Keep it neat.  Yes, I know, this is the hardest part.  I can’t really tell anyone how to clean a kitchen since mine is usually a cluttered mess.  My boyfriend does the dishes and most of the straightening after I finish wrecking the place to make a delicious meal.   Still, a clean kitchen is a safe and happy kitchen.  You don’t need to get down on your hands and needs to scrub the floors, but a nice floor wash is a good thing to have.  Lavender and rosemary brewed together and poured into the mop bucket makes the room smell nice and gives it a bit of spiritual cleansing and protection as well.  No herbs?  Just use some salt.  Essential oils would work as well as an herbal infusion.

6.       Remember that cooking is a basic act of magic.  Not only are you taking raw ingredients and turning them into something nourishing and tasty, you are also infusing the food with your intent.   Relax.  Put on some music.  Try not to cook when you’re in a foul mood.  If you start out in a bad mood, smudge the area first.  Make a cup of tea.  Sit down and take a few deep breaths.

7.       Don’t forget your kitchen deity.  A small dish for offerings from meals can be used, but if you don’t like the idea of leaving food out, make artificial representations part of your altar.  You can make things out of polymer clay, use a picture, or buy some play food from the toy section.   Just as long as they know you are thinking about them.

8.       Prepare yourself for the ritual of food preparation.  Light a candle.  Decorate a special kitchen witch apron.  Acquire a special knife, wooden spoon, cutting board, pot, whatever.  These are your magical tools. These are your implements of creation, so get something you really like.  Scour thrift shops and garage sales if you’re on a budget.  Find something that really calls to you. 

9.       Add seasonal touches to celebrate the turning of the wheel of the year.  Real or artificial leaves, flours, and fruits.  Strings of dried herbs, garlic, or chilies.  Cranberries in the colder months.   Get creative!

1.   Chant or sing as you knead dough.  Stir clockwise to impart positive energy. Scrub/wash counterclockwise to remove negativity.

1.   Embrace your path.  It may not be glamorous; in fact, it is rather mundane, but it is so very, very important.  Know that you are sustaining life and honoring the gods and goddesses.  You are celebrating the harvest holidays.  You give and receive the blessings of nature.  You are goddess.  You are god.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Liebster Award!

Hedged Paths has bestowed an award upon me!  The Liebster Award, to be precise.  Thank you so much!  These blogger awards really touch me. I am thankful for my readers.  You all really make me smile. 

In keeping with tradition, I will list 11 random facts about myself and answer the 10 questions asked of me.  I will also tag some fellow bloggers and list some questions of my own. 
Here we go!

1.       I drink 4-6 cups of coffee a day.
2.       I lived in Istanbul for two years.
3.       George Harrison is my favorite musician.
4.       I have 8 tattoos (so far).
5.       My boyfriend and I have a cat, a dog, and two ferrets.
6.       The university I attended and the one where I’m currently working are rivals.
7.       I abhor drama and conflict and will just turn and walk away if I can.
8.       I swear like a fuckin’ truck driver.
9.       I make my own skin care products.
1.   I am guilty of overthinking just about everything.
1.   My favorite foods are taco and spaghetti with meat sauce.

That’s not very exciting, is it?   That’s all I could think of at the moment.  
My questions are going to be relatively kitchen witchy.

1.       If you could have a dinner party with any 5 historical figures, who would you invite?
2.       What would you serve?
3.       Do you stir clockwise or counter-clockwise?
4.       Can you read coffee grounds or tea leaves?
5.       Do you listen to music when you cook? 
6.       What are the things you crave most often?
7.       Do you garden?
8.       If you do the cakes and ale portion of ritual, what are your go-to items?
9.       Do  you have a familiar?

1 .   Do you have a kitchen deity

I'I'll do some tagging in a bit. Thank you again! 

Monday, May 19, 2014

K is for Karma

(I bet you all thought I was going to do the kitchen witch thing, huh?  I like to keep people guessing.)

kar·ma  /ˈkɑrhttp://static.sfdict.com/dictstatic/dictionary/graphics/luna/thinsp.pngmə/
Hinduism, Buddhism. action, seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either inthis life or in a reincarnation: in Hinduism one of the 
means of reaching Brahman. 
Theosophy. the cosmic principle according to which each person is rewarded or punished in oneincarnation according to that person's deeds in the previous incarnation.
fate; destiny. Synonyms: predestination, predetermination, lot, kismet.
the good or bad emanations felt to be generated by someone or something: Lets get out of here. Thisplace has bad karma.

Karma is a concept that is a part of a variety of Eastern religions.  It makes up the laws of cause and effect.   In the religions of which karma is a part, one’s deeds and actions affect all incarnations of one’s soul.   That which one has done in a previous life affects the current life, and so on.

Basically this:   What you do in one life (to either yourself or others) will carry to your next life. 

Karma is central to Hinduism, Buddhist, and Jainism although the concept of karma does differ between these religions.   For this post, I am not going to focus on Eastern religions.  Instead, I am going to discuss the New Age theosophy of karma and my thoughts and feelings on it.

To the New Ager, the Pagan, the Neo-Pagan and others, this is rather like the threefold law.  Simply put, What goes around, comes around.  

This is something that I grew up hearing from my Western family members.  Any time anyone did something selfish, mean, nasty, or just plain douchey, either my grandmother or my mother would say, “What goes around comes around.”  

For a while, I sort of believed it.  I would still like to, but I call bullshit right now.   Considering all that has fucked up in my life, I’d be led to believe I had been Hitler in a past life or something, while some of the dicks I have encountered must’ve been akin to Joan of Arc.   Nope, not gonna fly with me.

Do I believe in reincarnation?  I think it’s plausible, or at least as plausible as anything else concerning what happens to us after death.   Do I believe bad things can come back to a person?   Maybe, but is there some sort of cosmic guarantee?  Not that I’ve seen. 

I’ve seen plenty of people get away with being complete and total pricks their entire lives, seemingly with no negative consequences.  “But, Nar,” you might be saying, “you don’t know where they are or what’s happening to them now.”

True, I do not.   And if I can’t see it, I don’t know that ANYTHING is happening.  

“Patience, young grasshopper”, you might be thinking.  Pfffft!  

I think that the concept of karma is – at least in this context – too close to that of sin.  I read a really great post from last year’s Pagan Blog Project that discussed this very idea.  I wish I could remember the name or address of the journal. 

As Christians (and many of us were at one point), we are told that we will pay for our sins, either by going to hell or maybe by coming down with a nasty case of boils all over our bodies or something. Who knows.  I never really paid *that* much attention. 

Again, I call bullshit.  Why?  Just because I don’t have absolute proof?  Well, that and the fact that I honestly don’t think the Divine is so invested in our puny little human wheelings and dealings that It feels like punishing us for shit.   Plus, I don’t believe in sin.   There are some things that shouldn’t be done because of that whole Golden Rule thing, but there are a whole lotta people who don’t think about that concept, either. 

Why do bad things happen to good people and good things to crappy people?   The way I look at it is, we all get a turn.  Some days you’re the pigeon. Other days, you’re the statue.  I think the universe shits on each of us in turn, but through OUR HUMAN ACTIONS.   For example, child molesters don’t always fair too well in prison. 

I think that the concept of karma, cause and effect, good stuff and bad stuff coming back to us, lies within.   One reason I think that is the fact that the goddamned piece of shit maggot fucker who poisoned my parents’ dog is still alive and well.   If I want results, I’d have to get those results myself.  Believe me when I say I have many, many plans that I would absolutely love to execute, but going to jail for that scummy son of a whore isn’t worth it. 

What you send out into the universe might come back to bite you in the ass, but not because of karma.  If you try to cast a big, bad, boogey spell on someone and they find out and come and punch you in the crotch, there you go.  There’s your karma.   The only way being an asshole is going to affect your current life is if you get caught and someone decides to do something about it.  Fortunately for many assholes in this world, most people are pretty damned apathetic.  Slacktivism is the new thing these days.  No one wants to go in for a good old-fashioned ass-whooping because then WE’D get punished for that.    Punished by the po-po, not karma. 

Our crappiness is answered for either in this life or not at all.  Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.  We don’t even know if anything does happen after death, so there’s no guarantee that a child molester or warmongering dickface politician will get his or her comeuppance later. 

Act.   If someone cuts you off in traffic, give that asswipe the finger and don’t worry about coming back as a cockroach in your next life.   If someone kicks your dog, you go rip that person’s face off and dance on it.  

Karma isn’t going to get you satisfaction.

A little glove-slap, on the other hand…

Sunday, May 11, 2014

J is for Jack O' Lantern

I'm actually EARLY for the Pagan Blog Project this week!  I know, I can't believe it either.  I got inspired.   This week, I decided to do another video post.

Now, there are many versions of the story of the first Jack O' Lantern and the man behind the name.  I decided to tell the version that I first learned when I was around 9 years old.

Also, check out my new YouTube channel introduction!  My boyfriend, the Aussie, provided the music via 4-chamber flute.

And here is the story:

Saturday, May 10, 2014

J is for Jack in the Green

Jack, spirit of the woods, I look for you when I walk amongst the trees.   I scan the trees for your face, hoping to catch a glimpse of your leafy countenance.  I seek you out because I long to know you better.  I am a daughter who needs your guidance and wisdom.  

Jack, have we killed you or chased you from your home with our houses, our machinery, our pollution?  Or was that you who rustled the branches as I strolled past?   If you are trying to get my attention, I am listening.  Tell me what to do to make you strong again. 

I write these words for a planet that seems to be dying, for gods who seem to have been forgotten by so many.   Maybe I’ve read too much Tom Robbins (not possible), but what people refer to as the ‘old ways’ are fading into obscurity or gone all together.   For some of those ways, that’s a good thing, but for the reverence of nature and the changing of the seasons, the turning of the wheel, that’s not such a good thing. 
Sure, there are smatterings of people who wish to reclaim these traditions, but putting on a black cloak and a turkey platter-sized pentacle ain’t gonna do it.  Look at us.   Look at all of the non-renewable resources we are using up at an alarming rate.  Look at the changes in the environment: climate change and extinction of formerly endangered species just to name a couple.  And for what?  To build bigger cities to house more people who have no respect for nature.  We complain about wild animals invading “our” space, when it’s the other way around. 

Look at me.  Here I am, sitting on my fat ass after having driven to the store to buy supplies so I can go camping and “get back to nature” a bit.   I disgust myself sometimes.   I don’t recycle as much as I should.   I live half an hour away from my place of employment, and the bus schedule doesn’t match up with my schedule at all.  I smoke.  I don’t throw my butts on the ground or out the car window, but they do go in the trash.  I know there are many more examples that I’m not thinking about currently. 

What to do, then?   I have found some tips to help the planet, and I am happy to see that I do many of the things on the list such as not leaving the water run when I brush my teeth, taking short showers, and walking when I need to do some errands around town. 

I do not see this planet as a usable commodity.  Maybe I won’t be back after I die.  Maybe I will be reincarnated, who knows.   Even if I don’t have to live here after a while, other people will.  Your children. Their children. Many more generations will have to inhabit this place.   Part of my path involves being considerate of others and respecting the place I live by not trashing it completely.   For me, in order to be a better person and feel closer to the Divine, I feel that I must take care of the foliage and the dirt that line that path.   Then, maybe, just maybe, Jack in the Green will show himself.  Maybe we will once again feel the presence of the gods and goddesses, once we welcome them back.   Perhaps they once roamed the earth, but I feel that now they don’t want a whole lot to do with either it or us.  

We have some work to do.  Who’s with me? 

I got this tattoo when I was 21.  That was *quite* some time ago, and it really needs to be touched up.  It's on my chest, just in case anyone was wondering about placement. 

Jethro Tull's "Jack in the Green".   Its lyrics give me hope. 

I is for Illness

I'm rather late with the second post for "I", but better late than never, right?

Some practitioners of various paths and traditions believe that one should not practice magic or do ritual when one is ill.  I can see not wanting to do a working when you have the flu and should be in bed recuperating, but what about other illnesses?  What about chronic illnesses?  What then?

I don’t know about y’all, but I’m on a few prescriptions for different things.  I have MDD and PCOS (that would be major depressive disorder and polycystic ovary syndrome, just in case anyone was wondering).   I’m never going to be “well”, but the meds I take do help me function.  The Glucophage helps with the insulin resistance.  The other stuff… well, I’m still here.   Today, I’m thankful for that.

I’ve written about PCOS and infertility and spirituality in the recent past.  Personally, I feel out of place during Beltane festivities.  I recently declined an opportunity to dance around the May pole because I have no fertility to celebrate.  Why bother?   

As for the other stuff…Who the hell is to say what I am and am not “supposed to” do?  Who has the right to dictate whether or not I can conduct a ritual, do a prosperity spell,  or mix up some hot foot powder to get rid of a toxic coworker?  (More on that one later…) I gladly extend one or both middle fingers to anyone who says my workings are not as viable as someone else’s because I am not what society might consider “well” or “healthy”.   Would you tell a cancer patient not to participate in his or her own healing ritual?  I wouldn't.  I'd think it would be even more beneficial. 

I guess what I really want to do is ask you, my readers what your opinion on the matter is.   A lot of people have ailments such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and the list goes on and on.   What is our place?   I’d love to know your thoughts.