The Magnolia Beanie; My newest skill

So this year I learned how to knit.
What you should know is that every year for the last 16 years, I get tired of crocheting and pull out a set of knitting needles and try to figure out the magic.

I literally had one set of #8 knitting needles and a pamphlet from Frank’s Nursery and Crafts. It had pictures and everything. For 16 years, I’d try for a week, sweating and swearing only to frog my poorly executed and incredibly ugly results and put those dratted needles way away.
And once again, in my post-Christmas burn out from crochet, I pulled out the knitting needles. Only this time, I traded my age worn pamphlet for You-Tube Videos.

And guess what! I figured it out!
Now I’m on a mission to slowly learn the different patterns, techniques, tools and traditions.

(Disclaimer: links to Amazon are affiliate links, meaning if you buy something, I get a cut at no extra expense to you. Links elsewhere are just for fun and information)

Last month Darn Good Yarn announced their first ever Knit-a-long and I jumped in. They promised video tutorials. The pattern was called the Magnolia Beanie which is primarily a cable stitch variation. I love the look of a cable stitch.
The thing that really enticed me was the tools used; a circular needle (which I already figured out) a cable needle (that weird u-shaped thing) and *cue ominous music* Double Pointed Needles or dpn’s.
Those flippin’ things scared the crap out of me. They look like pretty barbecue skewers, sticking out in all directions like some kind of medieval defense weapon.

I already had yarn, I doubled a monthly box and ended up with 2 skeins of a worsted weight silk yarn.
I picked up the tools from Amazon, downloaded the pattern and waited impatiently for the fun to begin.

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Knitting patterns are another thing I want to learn this year. I taught myself to crochet. I taught myself to read patterns and diagrams from crochet magazines… (way back before the Internet) *shush, I’m not that old*

I’m at the point now where I can read a pattern and do things my way. For example; a pattern says chain this amount and then single crochet in every chain, I’m most likely to just do a foundation chain, I find it easier.
Approaching a knitting pattern and realizing I have no idea what C6B means is disheartening and a little rough on my ego.

I waited, even though I knew I could start if I wanted. I had learned how to do the ribbing pattern earlier this year, but I thought maybe there would be some fun trick I hadn’t learned yet (there was).
The big day comes; the day of the hat brim instructional video. I watch the video once, impressed with the little trick about joining the circle and then started casting on my Midnight Sparkle silk yarn.
Here I am, casting on the required stitches as instructed and when I get to the joining part, I can’t get the yarn to join.
I panic a little. Recount the stitches. Out loud.
Check the pattern.
Panic some more.
Check the required tools.
It calls for #2 circular needles, 16” long. I have #3, but that just means my stitches will be slightly bigger thus making the circle easier to join. That’s obviously not the problem.

Now I didn’t buy the recommended brand. I had already started picking up pieces from Clover’s Takumi Interchangeable needles and opted to add to my collection. Brands are supposed to be standard but you never know.
I measured the length of my circulars, 16 inches point to point. Exactly what it should be. That can’t be the problem then.

Perhaps I just cast on too tight.
So I pull it apart and tried again, this time making a point to keep my tension loose.
Didn’t work. Frogged it again and lost some of my pretty silk yarn to breakage.
Then I decided I try the German long tail cast on, this adds a little twist to the base making it more stretchy. I tried it on a hat earlier this year.
Third time was NOT the charm…It still didn’t work. So I gave up on the yarn.
It’s pretty and labeled worsted weight but my skeins were pretty thin. Maybe too thin. That would make a smaller stitch.
I went searching through my stash for a worsted weight, preferably in silk. I found the herbal dyed dk weight  from a subscription box.  Dk weight is supposed to be thinner than worsted but this seemed thicker. I had paired it with a creamy colored acrylic to make Princess a hat. It was sitting in a bag with the pom-pom kit waiting for the perfect pattern.

And it worked. But just barely.
I was able to finish the ribbing in record time but the whole piece seemed really small. It was never going to fit an adult. I tried it on Ms.SassyPants and it barely fit her. I wasn’t sure if it would fit her through the winter. Toddlers grow quickly.

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This was really disappointing. What’s the point of making a hat if it won’t fit anyone.

So I sat and stared at the ribbed band for a couple days while periodically reading over the parts of the pattern I did understand.
Then I decided that I would have to adjust the pattern to make it bigger. That required math. Lets just say I’m not a big fan of Math. It makes my head hurt.
Fortunately, I found a fellow knitter on the Group page that was having the same problem and, being a more experienced knitter and probably better at Math than me,  had shared her math-based fix!
I love the Crafters in that group. They are always so helpful.
I very gently ripped out the ribbing and started over. (you have to be gentle with the silk yarn because it will fall apart as I learned with the other skein)
Apparently 5 times is the magic number because this one worked.

The second part required larger needles and to increase the stitches.
Moving from a size 3 to a size 10 was a lot harder than Julie made it appear on the videos. She had two separate circular needles, but I had interchangeable. At first I tried changing out both needles but I was having a really hard time with my left side. Those stitches are supposed to line up on the needle to be worked but none of them wanted to stretch for me. I ended up putting the #3 back on the left side of the circle and worked all the new stitches with the #10 on the right side. Once I got all the way around, I switched the left side needle.

I have no idea if this is proper but it worked for me so that’s how I worked it.
And worked beautifully. And the rest was easy.

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I learned what C6B means. The C stands for Cable; The number refers to the total number of stitches which will be divided in 2, and the last letter is either F or B, referring to front or back.
So, C6B means I’ll put three stitchs on the cable needle and move it to the back of the work, knit the next three on my left needle and then knit the three on my cable needle. A little awkward at first but by the end I had a good rhythm going. It was so cool to watch the braids and twists appear.

I ended up having an extra twist and braid in my hat because I had to increase the pattern. I love the look of cables in that creamy white color. It tugs on my little heart strings and probably has to do with my Irish heritage and ancient memories of Fisherman sweaters.
My magnolia beanie is not with out flaws. I totally missed a twist and didn’t notice for three rows.
I left it. It can be flawed.

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The down side to knitting is  you can’t really just pull out a row or two like in crochet. You literally have to un-knit each flippin stitch or rip the whole thing out.
Lets all have a moment of awe for those seasoned knitters out there who can make things without flaws.

Week 5 brought us to the dreaded Double Pointed Needles.
And let me tell you, It was not as hard as I thought it would be!!!
No injuries occured. No eyeballs were poked out and no stitches were lost.
Working the DPN’s on my hat actually seemed a bit easier that Julies on the video because I had increased the stitches I was able to just work each needle with out borrowing from the next. It was actually kind of fun and a little satisfying to work each needle in succession, slowly decreasing to the end. So much so that I’ve entertained little daydreams of knitting socks.

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The last step, which was totally optional, was to add the pom pom. The pom pom Kit from DGY was a whole lot of fun and the reason I wanted to make the Princess a beanie in the first place. She’d been looking at hats with furry pom-poms and debating whether or not to get one. I told her she wasn’t allowed to buy herself hats. Ever. For the rest of my life.
Hats are perfect in between projects. When your working on a big long tedious project and you need to just finish something. Hats are the answer.
The kit include two circles of faux fur, two craft pom-poms, needles, thread, snaps and instructions. I think the snaps are absolutely brilliant. You sew one end to the pom=pom and the other end to the hat and when you need to wash your hat you just pop the pom-pom off!

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So I finished the hat and still had extra yarn so I opted to make a cowl to match. Cowls are another quick and easy in between project. I adjusted the cable pattern and went to town. Now that its finished I just have to hand wash and lie flat to dry. Silk yarn should be hand washed and dried. Machines are too rough on them.

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I’m hoping once I give it to the Princess she’ll take pictures in it. She’s a Instagram junkie. In the mean time, I’m back to the big project; a throw blanket I’m gifting for the holidays. I’ll tell you more about that another time.

The Magical Cabinet or How do I know if this is still good?

Shakespeare

Oh! Isn’t that a fun rhyme? Doesn’t it just make your little heart beat with Joy? No? okay maybe it’s just me….

Harvest time is just about over. I’ve been drying, chopping, seeding and storing summer’s bounty for a few weeks. My Magical Cabinet is getting pretty full.

When I first started dabbling in spell work and charms, I just loved the idea of dusty little jars filled with herbs and roots and labeled with creepy old English names. I imagined myself working spells by candlelight; grinding seeds with a mortar and pestle while chanting Latin words. I saw myself stirring a cauldron while adding these ingredients, spouting rhymes, feeling the tingle of magic in my bones, divining the outcome through the wafting steam.

Yeah, It doesn’t happen that way and rarely does it happen with such drama.

Just the same, I still love my jars of herbs. I still get a kick out grinding things with the mortar and pestle, sorting seed from petals and filling up my jars for a raining day…These days my jars are bigger and I still can’t rhyme.

After learning what different herbs are good for and testing out a spell or two, I started my collection just to have the collection. I didn’t use half of what I collected and discovered that some of my herbs lost their potency over the years. (I’ll get to that in a second)

So now, part of my spring cleaning routine is to sort through my magical cabinet. I dust the jars, organize them, take inventory and sort through viable plants and roots. Make plans on what to grow for the upcoming summer.

Witches have always worked with plants. They were the healers. In contrast to what Hollywood and bedtime tales have portrayed, Witches were the old wise women living on the edge of the village; keepers of the knowledge of the plants. They were the ones that knew which would heal and which would poison. Which plants would ease pain and which would facilitate labor. Long before men and science took over the medical field, it was witches who people turned to even if they weren’t always called witches.

What did I mean by ‘potency’?

Plants have energetic properties. Edible plants have vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber. Non-edibles have their own energy that aids our intentions during spell work. It’s the energy of these plants that determine their potency. The more energy they retain the stronger their potency.

We have been gifted with this knowledge; It has been passed down from our ancestors, confirmed by herbalist and in some cases scientists. Often times Witches come by their knowledge from their Spirit Guides or memories of past lives or just intuitively by spending time with a plant. There are plenty of books and websites that give a general description of what ailments or uses each plant is good for. Read, learn and trust your gut.

In my experience, living plants have the strongest energy – whether it’s breathing in the negative ions produced by the trees in a forest or eating a salad out of the garden. If it’s possible to use a live or freshly harvested plant, then that’s my first choice. However, it’s not always possible. And that’s where my happy little jars of dried goods come in!

For example, you can’t really stuff a charm bag or poppet with fresh leaves and flowers. It’ll mold. (Of course if that’s your intention then go for it)

Then there’s the fact that I can’t seem to keep basil alive on my kitchen window sill and daffodils only grow for about a month in the early spring.

Fortunately dried leaves and flowers retain a lot of energy allowing us to do happiness rituals in October and money spells in January. Drying is easy and doesn’t take a whole lot of special equipment.

As far as potency goes; Roots and seeds would come in second to live plants on the energy scale of my mind. They have concentrated amounts of all the good stuff that make the plants grow. (Like my technical terms?)

Dried leaves and flowers are just as good and in some cases more appropriate. The down side is they’re more fragile and can break down quicker and easier.

So, how do I tell if my goods are still good?

I’ll give you some guidelines but you’ll have to hone your intuition to make the final decision.

Color – If dried adequately most flowers will retain some of their original color although they all darken somewhat. If your daffodils turn pale white and your roses turn brown, they may be time to add them to the compost.

Some leaves darken right away, some retain their green color. Over time the color changes slightly but for the most part, leaves tend to last longer than the flowers.

Smell – aromatic herbs will retain their smell. It’ll change slightly from the original scent of a live plant but they still have their smell. If it disappears, it’s time to toss them.

Herbs – kitchen herbs, tubers and seeds retain their smell the longest. They can be dried and stored for quite a while. Seed like allspice, anise and coriander, hold onto their smell for a couple years and are best stored in seed form. Roots like ginger and garlic can be dried and powdered for extended use.

What was that about storing?

It’s best to keep your dried apothecary in glass, air tight containers, in a cool environment and away from sunlight. Heat and light will ruin your herbs. I do keep small quantities in plastic zipper bags if I’ve only acquired a small amount and intend to use it in a month. However, plastic is more permeable than glass and will shorten the life of your dried goods.

(I ship all my dried goods in plastic baggies to keep costs down, they are packaged to order and ships with in hours….When they get to you, put them someplace safe or use them within a few weeks )

This is the time of year that I do my second round of cleaning. I’ve been harvesting and drying summer’s bounty for a few weeks now. All I have left in the garden is a few fennel plants that have gone to seed.

My Magical Cabinet is over flowing and all my jars and nice and full so keep an eye on The Mystic’s Haven, I’ll be updating inventory and adding a few new herbs to the shop!

I’ll also be writing up a few posts on specific herbs and how they’re used.

 

 

Self-Discipline and Personal Power

I want to talk about personal power and self discipline….It’s not a popular topic. Everybody wants a magic answer. They want to wave a wand or wiggle their nose and have the job done.

Me too, folks. Me too.

This is at the forefront of my mind for a couple reasons. The first has to do with my oldest daughter, the Princess. The second is hitting home because of my own situation.

The Princess is a hairdresser. She just passed her 4th anniversary at the salon she works; a high-end salon where she apprenticed. I know that she’s my daughter and I see her through rose colored lenses but let me tell you a bit about her.

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The Princess Empowering Women.

She’s annoyingly positive, incredibly emotional and was doled out an extra helping of guilt at birth.

She moves through her life trying to avoid making decisions that will make her feel the twisted pangs of guilt. Its her internal compass and she calls me when she has to make the hard decisions. She calls often.

This affliction has manifested in a number of traits such as a ridiculously strong work ethic and a desire to be helpful, supportive and kind.

I can tell ya, she is NOT the poster girl for the beauty industry.
She doesn’t fit in with the typical hairdresser and has, on occasion, been the target for the collective petty bullshit that happens whenever you get a bunch of insecure women in one place.

(I feel that ‘target’ is an ancestral wound gifted from her dad’s side and it’s her responsibility to heal it for herself and every woman that came before her. She agrees and is not happy about it.)

She loves what she does and she loves the people she works for, so she stays. Fortunately, she’s been working from their satellite salon and doesn’t interact with most of the women who target her.

On her 4th anniversary, she sat down with management to look at her numbers and discovered that she has hit the goal to receive her next raise in prices.

This is completely numerical. It has nothing to do with who she is, her work ethic, the quality of her work or how well the owner likes her. This formula is well known and applies to all hairdressers. The percentage of service sales + product sales = a bump in haircut prices.

My daughter busted her ass to earn that bump. She did her job, she scouted new clients, she took extra classes, learned new skills, perfected her techniques, built up her clientele, and promoted the products.

This success was not appreciated by the heard of cackling hens who posited that she only got the raise because she’s favored by the boss.

For a week we heard bits and pieces from a few ally’s and learned that a number of the girls confronted the boss demanding that her prices be reverted back, because it wasn’t fair. Some of the women had been there longer, some had more clients, some weren’t even hairdresser and had nothing to gain by protesting….but hey, herd mentality….

Their demands fell on deaf ears. The boss explained, once again, the process of obtaining a raise and how each of them had the power to do the same.

The Princess isn’t a witch, she doesn’t want the responsibility. She has never asked me for spells, only blessings and positive vibes. I’ve never cast a spell for her, success or otherwise. (I offered to hex the bitches but she turned me down.)

She is focused and disciplined and passionate. She wins.

And she inspires me. She reminds me everyday that Focus, Passion and Discipline are the keys to success; the keys to a happy life.

Going back to personal power and self-discipline. As kids we ‘do’ thing because we’re told to. We do it because if we don’t we’ll get in trouble. I don’t know about you, but most of what I did as a kid, was because it would stop my mom from yelling.

As an adult I didn’t. It was a rebellious thing. All those things I should have been doing for myself, like eating healthy, exercising, tidying up my home, studying my college course work…. I didn’t do that because it’s what the adults told me I had to do and now they weren’t around to make me.

I had to learn the hard way that doing those things would benefit me, they’d make me stronger, they’d make me feel better. They would give me room to focus on the things I’m passionate about. They would take me to the life I dreamed about.

It took me a good 15 years of rebellion before it started to click…

…Don’t laugh at me, everyone gets it in their own time.

So much of the craft is about what we do or don’t do. Intentions, spell work and magic will only get us so far. The rest is the boring mundane everyday things that we don’t really want to do.

Its not about motivation, its about discipline.

The princess recites that like a mantra. You do what needs to be done because it needs to be done. The results will be worth it.

In the Craft, most of the magic performed is done to boost the mundane work (at least in my practice). We set the intention, we focus the energy, light the candle, chant the rhyme, mix the herbs, charge the stones and then we do the work. The boring mundane busy work of reaching your goals.

Day in day out, we do the work that needs to be done. That’s where our personal power lies.

Sometimes the work is directly tied to the goal (The princess recommending products to her clients) and sometimes its not (Her choice to go to the gym everyday). But even if the task isn’t directly linked, It still matters. It’s all connected.

She goes to the gym because it makes her feel good. It helps her anxiety, manages her weight and makes her feel stronger. If she chose not to go to the gym everyday, her anxiety would be through the roof making her edgy and irritable and less able to deal with the stress. She’d be carrying extra weight which might have a negative effect on her self-confidence. She wouldn’t have the strength or stamina to take on the extra client with the 6 hour service.

I’m recognizing all this as we embark on this new journey and lifestyle change.

My sewing machine broke last year. It was 12 years old. It wasn’t a really expensive model and I didn’t sew as often as I wanted to because it couldn’t handle what I wanted it to do. I looked into having it fixed, (I couldn’t find the part I needed online) and it dawned on me that it would be better to save up for a heavy duty sewing machine.

I was half way to my goal when I casually mentioned it on Facebook. My cousin offered me her mothers old sewing machine. My crazy Aunt Joyce was an amazing and creative seamstress, I was humbled by the offer.

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My Crazy Aunt Joyce! R.I.P Beautiful Soul.

So now I’m sitting on extra money with some serious craft store fantasies, knowing that I need to take that money and be responsible with it.

We still have debts to be paid and savings to increase. We’re not going to buy the farm if I waste the money on fabric. (especially when I have two 18 gallon totes full of fabric.)

My passion for a homesteading life has to outweigh my passion for being creative. I have to stay focused and be disciplined. Today it really sucks.

Today, I’m exercising my power, staying focused on my dream, and being disciplined with my resources.

Tonight, I will wave my wand and wiggle my nose and Tomorrow I’ll go to the bank.

Harvesting the Basil

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So far the toughest part about blogging about life stuff is remembering to take the pictures. You’d think it would be fairly easy in this Age of Instagram but I keep finding myself running for my phone half way through my projects.

Anyway…. I’ve harvested most of the basil. We’re having a strange summer. August wasn’t as warm as it usually is and September has been rather cool.

Don’t get me wrong, I love this weather. I thrive anywhere fro 60* – 80*. My poor Basil, however, prefers it hotter.

A couple days in the low 70’s and my poor plants started fading. They don’t tolerate cool weather. So out to the garden I went with my clippers and just snipped those babies at the base of the stem.

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I left some of the smaller plants; the ones that were stunted by the bigger plants and shielded from the cold.

I secretly hoped we’d get a last hooray; a week or two of hot weather to let those babies grow and thrive. (It seems my wish was granted. Its 88* today!)

I grow a lot of basil. I plant it from seed at the end of May and by June I’m chasing the Renaissance Man out of the garden. He starts picking the leaves off before they’re big and I panic because they need their leaves to grow! Basil is the flavor of Summer and he loves to cook with it.

His favorite is Tomato-mozzarella salad. It’s technically not cooking because its a cold salad but he also makes Chicken Parmesan with the big basil leaves between the chicken and the mozzerella and he’ll add whole leaves to his deep dish pizza.

He’s the reason I’ve gained weight. I blame him and Italian food. Completely. Its just really hard to practice portion control when he cooks!

In spite of all the the things we use fresh basil for, I always have a lot left at the end of summer. So I dry it.

I don’t really like drying it in the oven or dehydrator.
              ( I have this dehydrator, It works great on other things.)
The heat turns the leaves really dark and I feel like it looses a lot of the flavor. In the past I’ve just laid the clean leaves out on trays and let them air dry. It takes a couple days and a whole lot of space. I have a lot of basil. This year I set up a drying rope in my hall. The hallway runs down the middle of the house and gets no direct sunlight. It’s also right in front of the return air vent so there’s a constant air flow. Its working beautifully.

I’ll take these stalks into the kitchen and put them in a sink full of cold water. Swish them around, paying attention to the bottom leaves. Dirt likes to splash up onto the leaves and hang out in the crevices. Its really important to get the dirt off. No one wants to eat dirty basil.

I’ll pull out each stalk individually, pluck off any yellowed or crunchy leaves, trim of any burnt chewed up edges. Once I get the stalks clean and free of poor quality leaves I pat them dry with a towel and tie them all together to hang on the drying line.

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*sidenote*
I don’t use any pesticides in my garden. I do a little companion planting to deter bugs but unfortunately the basil is the deterrent. I stick a few plants by my tomatoes to entice bugs that would otherwise munch on my fruit.
The bugs then move on to become pollinators or food for the birds so it’s okay, I grow extra just for them!

This is my favorite part.


When the leaves are all dry and crunchy, I gently snap them off the stalk and start chopping. The Renaissance Man is in love with the smell of fresh basil but I much prefer the smell of dry basil.

To me it smells like magic and hope.

Basil was one of the first herbs I used in spell craft, years ago when I was just a baby witch. I rolled a candle in store bought basil and cast a money spell. It worked. The Idiot won a raffle and bought a pool- not the point…

The point is, it was really exciting and I’ve attached the smell to the feeling.

Basil is my go-to herb for money spells. Add to jars, wallets, cash boxes. It draws abundance and prosperity.

Basil is also used magically to bring love, peace and happiness. Use in sachets, charm bags, stuff into poppets or just sprinkle it around your house for protection.

It has been thought to “lift spirits and relieve melancholy” when consumed. It can be brewed into a tea often used to relieve headaches and other stress ailments.

Fun Folklore!

Sorry -not sorry, my inner Hermoine is butting in right now.

European lore say that Basil belongs to Satan and one must curse the ground while planting Basil in order for it to grow properly. The French idiom, “Semer le basilica” means “to sow the basil” and is used to refer to someone ranting.

More fun folklore – Witches were said to drink basil juice before flying…

I can attest that neither are true, I have never curse the ground and my basil always does well, I also do not drink basil juice before flying….I prefer vodka.

If you need some Basil, for craft work or whatever, I have plenty. You can find it here in my etsy shop!

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No herbal product is intended as a substitute for competent medical care. Please see your physician before adding any herbal supplement to your diet.

All information herein is from traditional or historical reference and intended to help you make an informed decision.

Behind the Scenes

This post isn’t really magical if that what you’re looking for. This post is just behind the scenes info and a peak into human side of my life.

I’ve been feeling a ‘change’ vibe for awhile. Battling some Wanderlust.  I’ve told The Renaissance Man. He didn’t like that. He still believes that he doesn’t like change. Silly Muggle.

About a month ago my suspicions were confirmed or rather clarified. Long story short, it looks like we may be moving out of our tiny little hobbit house.

Yes, first reaction was a freak out! For Both of us. Followed by some serious swearing. I’m totally not ready to move, not physically, not mentally, and definitely not financially.

But once the shock wore off, I felt that spark, that energy, the magic butterflies… the possibilities. The Renaissance Man, not as much, he’s stubborn that way… Silly Muggle.

In his defense, he’s put a lot of sweat equity into this house with the understanding that it would be ours someday. It took a few conversations to point out the faults in this property and open him up to the possibilities.

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted a big white farmhouse with a wrap around porch and an expanse of land to grow gardens; vegetable garden, fruit gardens, herb garden, secret tucked away garden. And trees, Lots of trees. I love trees.

Maybe it was growing up reading Little House on the Prairie or maybe it’s my ancestors (They lost the farm in the depression), but that was the picture in my head, That’s where my heart goes when I loosen the reins. My happy place.

I buried that dream for a while because circumstances put my sorry ass in the City, with all the people and pollution and noise.  I did my best, no matter where I lived, to enjoy the postage stamp yards and make them magical.

Having to move, means the possibility of buying a house with a bigger yard, more land, more nature.

I’ve recently found a word for what I’ve always wanted.

Homesteading.

I’ve also learned that I already do so much of what a Homesteader does.

I grow my own herbs and vegetables. I preserve the things I grow. I cook 90 % of my meals from scratch. I can sew, I can crochet, I can knit now, Whoohoo!

The Renaissance Man can paint, sculpt, cook, bake, design and build things. (Hence his nick-name)  He does almost all the maintenance on our home and vehicles. He’s pretty freakin’ amazing!

The only thing we lack here is animals. They’re against the city ordinances and our space is already cramped.

I would like to keep chickens for eggs, and goats for milk (and because they’re adorable). I’ve also learned to spin fiber this year, so sheep or alpacas have entered the dream.

The animal part still seems very far away, if at all possible but the moving to a house with more land is now on the table although its going to take us at least a year to get the finances back in order.

Now I have to go back a bit to tell you that I got to that Hopeful, Excited Place before The Renaissance Man. It’s pretty typical. He likes to hang on to his worry; pet it and cuddle it and call it George. He has back up plans for his back up plan. He’s not really good with the whole “Trust the Universe” thing.  It took a bit of counseling, a card reading, some logic and a threat to get him on board.

Pretty much I pointed out that he needed to stay positive about this, or at the very least put it in a box and forget about it because I’d be working some magic and if his bad juju threw a wrench in all my good work, there would be hell to pay.

He laughed….nervously.

Its been a couple weeks since this all transpired. We have a finance plan in place to get rid of some debts and save some money. It’ll be at least a year before we can start looking at properties.

The focus is now,  will be on the side-business, my Etsy shop and blog.  Its always been good economic sense to have multiple streams of income. Doing that from home makes us happier people

The world needs happier people.

After 11 years of me running the Etsy shop and begging him to contribute, he’s  considering it.

I told you, he’s stubborn. If he actually does, is another question. He’s in the workshop honing his skills and making cool pieces for Christmas gifts. He may or may not be planning cool trinket and boxes to sell. We shall see.

I will be making a list of all the things I need to list on Etsy. I’ve got bundles of herbs drying and a stack of yarn craft waiting for new homes.

I’ve been doing this long enough to know the steps. I kind of burnt out and took a break but we agreed that its time for me to jump back in and do the work.

  • The making part is easy. I love the making part. The media may change but the joy is the same.
  • The photos and editing are tedious. Switching from the SLR digital camera to my phone camera may make life easier. I won’t have to transfer to the laptop to edit. Let me know if you notice a difference in quality.
  • The listing part isn’t hard. Etsy makes it pretty easy.
  • The Social Media stuff is where I struggle. Not because I can’t do it just because it always takes more time that I want it to. Let’s all wave our wands together since I can’t seem to find a working time-turner.

The biggest change for me right now may actually work in my favor. The Renaissance Man and I discussed this blog.

The Renaissance Man

A candid shot of The Renaissance Man investing sweat equity

*queue ominous music*

Okay, I rambled, he nodded a lot and occasionally made suggestions. Our final agreement is that this can’t be just a witchy blog. It can’t just be about those fun topics like plants and magic and tools that I’ve made and Goddesses that I work with.

It has to expand into the rest of our life because basically everything I do is flavored with my beliefs and touched by my magic.

This has to be a lifestyle blog. And it should chronicle the journey we are about to embark. From the very beginning (now) through all the ups and downs. The fun parts and boring parts and all the magic I work in between.

I guess I’m saying that their will be more behind the scenes type posts which  gives me more topics to write about! Which should, in theory, translate to more posts.s

Wish me luck!

Back to Basics : Grounding

Getting back to basics here. Grounding yourself. I’m starting to realize that not everyone understands the concept or knows how to do it.

I’m not talking about the those times your folks grounded you and you couldn’t hang out with your friends…. more like grounding the way electricity does. Only your electricity is made from your emotions

Think of emotion as Energy in Motion. Your emotions are just that, electrical impulses that trigger different body functions, Our thoughts give shape to those impulses and we label them; happy, sad angry, etc.

Each has a different feeling in the body. Sometimes, we don’t know why we feel what we feel. We wake up feeling sadness and we’re not sure why. We get impatient and lash our in anger for no particular reason. Sometimes we know why but there’s nothing we can do about the situation that’s causing the feelings and we still have to get our shit done.

As a triple water I know all about emotions, I swim through my days. For the most part, my emotions ebb and flow and I don’t even notice anymore. Sometimes, on rougher seas, I harness that energy to get shit done. Think rage cleaning

When its just too much, for too long and the feels are keeping me from getting other things done, I ground. Grounding helps release the extra emotions so we can get back to living our best life.

I personally believe that the whole reason we have physical bodies is to experience life through our emotions; to feel the experience in our body. Emotions give our life richness and depth but they can also get in the way.

Bonus! Grounding is aptly named as well!

Grounding is about giving the energy back to the earth to be recycled. Its like composting but with energy instead of organic material.

You all know how much I love composting!

Compost Pile

My compost pile prior to turning for visual effect.

There’s a natural magic in composting. You take your kitchen scraps, moldy fruits and rotten vegetables, bury in the ground and a few months later, Voila!

Dirt!

Healthy, nutrient rich dirt to feed your garden! Mother Nature turned all that was useless and bad for us into something with a purpose.

Guess what! The Earth does the same for your extra, moldy, rotten emotions that you have no use for.

Understand the concept?

Great, let’s get on to the process. (no? It’s okay, keep reading, I explain more.)

Just like there’s lots of ways to compost, there are also lots of ways to ground.

Lets start with visualizing. I find it to be the most effective. And it can be done almost anywhere with no tools.

(I don’t recommend doing this while operating heavy machinery so wait until you’re out of the drivers seat.)

So stop what your doing, take a deep breath and exhale slowly.

Feel inside your body. Where are the tensions, the aches, the pains, the butterflies, the energetic dark spots…..

Take another breath, recognize those place and relax them.

Now imagine your emotions as a dark river running through your body, traveling up and down your limbs swirling trough your torso, pooling in those achey places, becoming stagnant and green. Imagine this river starts to move and flow. You may feel tingling in your extremities as this river flows. You may not. Its okay either way. Do it anyway.

Let it drain down your legs and into the ground. Imagine your personal energy river draining all the muck and pond scum through the earth into a larger energy river. Imagine it mixing in with Earths natural energy. Imagine the the Earth diluting and neutralizing your toxic energy and transforming it into healing energy. Let your murky emotional river continue to flow however long you need. You may feel a relief, you may feel lighter.

When you feel you have no more to give back to the Earth, Take a deep breath, move your feet to stop the flow and then imagine a richer, lighter and fluffier energy coming up from the ground in through your feet and flowing through your body via the fresh clean energy river. Let it flow, washing over all those dark achey places. Imagine it refreshing you, giving you more energy and focus. When your done. Take a deep breath, drink some water and get on with your day.

This can take anywhere from 5 minutes to a half hour. It’s up to you. It usually takes a little longer in the beginning because its a new skill that has to be learned and you probably have a lot more pent up emotions than you think.

But the good thing is that you don’t have to wait until your an emotional mess to start. I actually found that if you make this part of a routine you bypass the breakdowns.

Other ways of grounding.

Sometimes we get caught up in our heads. Its’s our nature to define and find reasons for our emotions. We feel that pang of sadness and wonder why? Instead of assuming its just blocked energy in our heart space we find a disappointment in our lives and decide that’s why we’re sad. Or angry or afraid. Our mind starts reeling and gets out of control. All kind of imagined slights will fill us with more emotions and we become so worked up we lose focus on the important things.

In these cases a few quick tricks can bring us back down to the place where we can manage again.

Think of your 5 senses.

What can you see? What can you taste; what can you hear; what can you smell; what can you feel?

Think of Earth and nature. Can you see the sky, the clouds, a tree?
Can you taste an apple, coffee, chocolate? (Professor Lupin was right about this one; It really does help.)
Can you hear birds, squirrels, water running, trees rustling?
Can you feel the air, the bark of a tree, bare feet on grass?

Getting back to nature is the most effective to getting you back into your body but other things work – wash your hands or put lotion on them. Drink some water. Turn on music. Move your body; dance, run, lift weights.

Maybe you think you don’t need this because your not emotional.
I hate to break it to you, You are.
We all are.

Its part of being human. Just because you don’t cry at the drop of a hat doesn’t mean those emotions aren’t flowing through you.

(actually crying is an awesome way to release the pent up emotions; I’m a big fan and I highly recommend it)

What happens when you don’t keep that river flowing, grounding out the extra emotions? They get stuck. In your body. And you end up with random aches and pains. Back ache, stomach issues, head aches, joint pain…..Over time you end up with chronic disease.

There’s a reason men have a shorter lifespan than women.

You remember that old paradigm of men are stronger/ women are too emotional….Women cry, men don’t.

It’s poisoned generations of men. Women release those pent up emotions and remove the blocks before they can cause disease that kill men. This has allowed women be stronger, healthier and live longer. Fortunately, shifts are happening and people are dropping that toxic masculine ideology.

The grounding exercises I’ve suggested is a way to possibly bypass the crying and still get the health benefits. Practice it. Make it part of your routine. Once a day, once a week. Whatever works for you. Just do it.

 

Hexing, Healing and Harming None.

I’ve been asked if I put spells on people, good or bad.

I don’t. Well, not specific spells, anyway- general well-being, protective and healing spells if asked or if I’m feeling compelled at the time.

Its because I believe in free will, life lessons and karma.

My ex, the Idiot, was convinced I cursed him when his second marriage failed. I didn’t. I suppose at one time or another, I had wished he got everything he deserved.

* I may or may not have hoped that included heartbreak and despair – however I did not set those parameters, specifically…. I was willing to let Karma decide*

At the time it felt like bad juju and also he’s my kids dad. Whatever happens to him effects my kids. Also, I really liked his 2nd wife. I was happy that he was happy. I was sad, but not surprised, when she left him.

I also do not do spells for people. Not unless they are willing to sit down with me, explain in detail how they feel, what they want and walk through every step with me. Magic is very personal. What you want and what I think you want could be miles apart.

I’m not going to be responsible if it doesn’t work exactly like you expect it to.

And guess what, magic rarely does.

But that’s besides the point.

In the Wiccan Rede there is a line that states, And it harm none, do as ye will”

That’s an incredibly liberating line. Especially for people who are being controlled by religious constraints, social norms, etc.

That line gives a person the right to step out of the role that society has imposed upon them. You can love the person you want, even if they are the same sex, a different race or religion, living across the country.

It means you can tattoo your skin or pierce your eyebrow or wear white after labor day. It means you can leave a toxic relationship or choose to live with 10 cats.

It also means you are free to run a company but you cannot exploit your workers or knowingly pollute the environment. There’s an ethical component to the Rule.

This is a great line to hold in your heart and guide your choices when you’re brand new and working to break the chains that kept you from knowing and expressing yourself.

I’ve even incorporated in my child rearing practices. As my kids grew, I made them consider this. Will hanging out your window with a lighter and a can of hairspray hurt you or someone else? Maybe? Then DON’T DO IT!

Most people who find this path develop a lot of righteous anger. They feel they’ve been lied to, manipulated and controlled. Its normal to be angry; healthy even. And having that one constraint of ‘harm none’ is like using training wheels as you heal your soul and develop your powers.

So then we come to the old adage that says if a witch can’t hex, they can’t heal.

I feel like this is more for the seasoned practitioner. The witch that’s been around long enough to heal some of their trauma and dabbled in magic long enough to have a basic understanding of how it works. Not that its more difficult, just that it requires more insight, control and ethics than ‘harm none’

Think sex ed. We tell our preschoolers that baby’s grow in mommy’s bellies. We tell our school age children that mommy and daddy loved each other very much and created a baby that will grow in mommy’s belly.

And then we tell our teenagers the details of how that baby was created.

The actual physical, chemical and emotional steps to creating life. And if your smart, you’ll tell them how to prevent it.

Teenagers have bodies that are changing and hormones that are surging. They need to know more and are emotionally capable of understanding some of the finer nuances,

The biggest reason for not giving all the emotional, physical and scientific facts to your three year old is that they won’t understand it. They’re brain isn’t developed enough to handle the abstract concepts.

A new Witch needs to grow a bit before tackling the nuances of hexing vs. healing.

I  feel like the concept isn’t so much that you should hex if your going to heal or that you have to hex if you want to heal.
I feel like it refers more to the mechanics of magic.

In the process of using magic, a witch manipulates energy. We draw that energy from the earth, from Spirit and from ourselves. We obtain our energy from the food we eat but also the emotions we feel. The stronger the emotion the more energy we can harness.

With this idea in mind, great energy can be harnessed by love, fear, and anger; our strongest emotions.

I think the idea that ‘you can’t heal if you can’t hex’ refers to the ability to harness both the the joys of love and the fire of anger.

A long time ago, I was saved by the idea that emotions swing like a pendulum.

I had my first 3 kids with in a 5 year period. I suffered some serious depression in those years. Part was situational, part was isolation and a big part was hormones.

After my second, I had the worst postpartum depression ever. Serious stereotypical signs of depression. Inability to function; I couldn’t eat, sleep, bathe. I had suicidal ideations…the works. Eventually hormones stabilized and life got back to normal….if there is a sense of normal in being 21 with 2 babies.

When I was pregnant with #3 I was secretly afraid that I would return to that level of despair. In the process of fearing it I managed to block all strong emotions. Long story short, by the time he was 18 months, I was 50 pounds overweight, exhausted and numb.

I realized that I couldn’t feel happy because I was too afraid to feel sad and If I wanted to feel the ecstatic joy that I imagined was possible, I had to risk feeling despair again.

I swung back and forth a few years. I found some great emotional highs but never stayed stuck in the lows. I learned that emotions are temporary if you don’t hold on to them.

This was before I discovered this magical path. It was my first step in taking more control over my own life.

But relating this back to the hexing and healing stuff. I feel like this piece of advice is best taken in the context that you have to master your emotions.

You have to be able to harness your fear and anger. You have to be brave enough to feel happy and fall in love. You have to be able to recognize the emotions, feel them and learn to let go of them if you want to work strong magic.

How can I cast a protective circle around the women of Georgia if I really just want to disembowel the Republicans that drafted the ridiculous legislation.

I could use that energy to hex the misogyny if I was so inclined.

I’m not… usually.

But more importantly, I have to recognized the anger, feel the anger and let it go effectively BEFORE I attempt to do protective and healing spell work.

If I don’t, my anger and frustration will leach into my good intentions in a passive-aggressive cluster-fuck that has the potential to hurt the very Sisterhood I’m trying to protect.

The thing is, once you know how to recognize, feel, and release an emotion, you’re only one step away from using it in spell work, whether that’s healing or hexing.

What this advice does NOT say is that you have to hex. This is your practice, this is your life and your choice. If hexing doesn’t feel right than don’t do it. Easy-peasy.

However you do have to do the emotional work. You do have to process those ‘hexing’ emotions. You know, next level Witch work.

And just because you choose not to hex doesn’t mean you can’t heal.

Please do.

The world needs more healers.