Friday, July 31, 2015

Magic, Science and the Natural World

8" diameter Abundance and Prosperity hex sign, painted
since new moon here at
I realize that my background in science -- and the "hard sciences" of physics, astronomy and of mathematics  and engineering as well -- likely give me a bit of a different perspective as a witch. Add to this that I see much of the alleged "common culture" in a different way (see previous post A Manifesto - I am not what you think you see. ) than most folks and I can easily understand when moments of disharmony crop up with other Pagans and witches.

Hence, this entry.

Many online sources have been making a big deal out of the full moon tonight, a so-called "blue moon." I have stated my opinion online that, " There are actually multiple definitions of "blue moon" and I prefer mine to be the least common of all -- when the moon ACTUALLY appears blue, because of particulate matter of a particular size, in the correct place in the air between me and it. THOSE happen "once in a blue moon" in my world. The other two varieties are far too common." Research has shown me that even my take on the potential frequency of the "blue moon" is more often than the term originally was meant to express, as it was used in the same manner as "when pigs fly." Short of being launched by a hurricane (which could arguably be considered to not meet the criteria) visually appearing blue moons are, in my experience, at least possible. I have seen one, just one, in my 67 years. I have also seen a solar green flash but that is a topic for another day.

I, personally, do not consider having two full -- or for that matter, new, first quarter or last quarter -- moons in the artificial construct that we call a month to be of any particular significance.  Although the month (in Old English monaĆ°, related to the word for moon) was originally calculated from lunar cycles, the increasing importance of agriculture (both planting and animal husbandry), upon which the seasons have more effect than the phases of the moon, led to an almost universal use of a solar-based calendar. This calendar has been changed, adjusted and manipulated across the centuries, and continues to be, although nowadays the ongoing adjustments are in the range of "leap seconds" rather than "leap years." Since I farm, using a conventional yearly calendar does help me to keep track of planting schedules, frost dates (both in the spring and fall) and mundane events such as appointments with my health care provider. 
One pea harvest, just after new moon

For other things, such as many "witchey matters" I find a lunar calendar most appealing. I do, given that our solar calendar has given one day of the week to Frigga, Odin, Thor and Tyr, acknowledge them on "their" days. As I observe and acknowledge the moon cycles, however, I am less likely to work with the astrological correspondences (either tropical or sidereal, the type of astrology that I practiced, which works with the actual positions of the planets in the constellations their precessed and therefore current locations ) than I am to tie my working to what's going on in the natural world around me. I understand the various cultures' naming of the moons, though I can not accurately apply any one sequence of names to what I experience. And, if you have followed my writings for any time at all, you will know that my own experiences (also known as UPG) are the basis of my practice and my work. Last month was The Month of the Fireflies. This is The Month of Summer's Coming, which leads directly into the cross quarter coming up early next month: First Harvest. While we do not yet have local corn to celebrate, there are, or have been lettuce and spinach, peas and beans and asparagus, strawberries and blueberries. I can likely harvest some early potatoes soon. None of the poultry are mature enough for the table yet, but the freezer is full of unexpected spring pork and last fall's second turkey. 
Beans and peas harvested yesterday

In my world, there are logical, repeatable and proven scientific truths upon which I base much of my agriculture and my witchey work. This has always been the very foundation of my life and will continue to be so. However much the natural world around me obeys the laws of physics and thermodynamics, though, there are also always variations and surprises. Worlds beyond mine intersect, touch and impact my little world, be they the doings of the Asgardians or of the mundanes.
Helping them to grow: trellis for
pole beans (dried bean crop)

While at least some, if not many folks might find that magic and witchey doings incompatible with science and I find some pagan and witchey folks somewhat out of sync with the actual natural world around them, in my world they all work together for me. That does not imply that anyone else's world's rules are anything other than different than mine. We all, to a greater or lesser degree, create our own realities and I know many folks do share the "common culture" world which I occasionally visit. Your mileage will vary. 
4 chicks hatched by Lady Grey the
turkey since the new moon

6 turkey poults hatched by Lady Grey
since new moon
Ducklings at 5 weeks old
Turkeys from the first hatch!
And here at the sign of the Fussing Duck and Dutch Hex Sign, I will lift a glass tonight to Frigga, light a needfire and toast the abundances coming forth from my fields and flocks and hex work. In addition to the 10 new additions to the flocks shown here, there are 11 young ducklings happily putting on size and feathers out in the barnyard as well as three young turkeys from the first hatch. The summer temperatures have arrived and while they do not make for a very happy worker, I am thankful for the growth on the tomatoes, peppers and vine crops. Hopefully there will be squash and pickles this fall!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Manifesto - I am not what you think you see.

Went to the doc this week, not that I needed to... but when I went in a while back for allergies, the receptionist told me I had need of an appointment for something undefined so I bit. Turns out it was a follow up for my GERD, on account of having to have the prescription renewed. Whatever. I did find out that the doc who had ignored my rejection of his "if the antihistamine doesn't work" back up plan is no longer with the practice.

Skeins of black yarn, spun during the "Tour de Fleece."
Turns out my blood pressure, which has been high since last August-Sept when I started the rounds of dental work necessary to move forward with the knee surgery. It proceeded to stay high, hitting a few reading in the scary-high area over the next few months, including while I was in the hospital after surgery. Thankfully, no one suggested medication, as it came down into the high, but not dangerous level and stayed there pretty much since a couple of months post op. Until a week or so ago, that is... when I got a strange, off the wall, reading much closer to what it used to be... For most of my life it seemed to be fixed at 100/60. For the last week it's been a wee bit above that, but pretty much staying stable, not only with my wrist monitor device but also, today, at the doc's office. Thank you, spinning! Thank you, Tour de Fleece! So she could not fuss at me about my blood pressure... nor apparently my cholesterol, which was "excellent" with the last blood work. So she decided to pick on my weight.

I will admit I weigh more than I want to, at 170 more or less. But, as K says "we are not gaining, and in this world, that is something!"  I have been working on losing but it doesn't seem to happen. The only times I have been able to loose weight I have had to do things that are NOT good.. extreme calorie reduction, "eating funny" etc. I do not drink soda, eat processed or convenience foods as a rule (and seldom even once a week on our town trips now that I usually leave after an early lunch and go solo). I don't keep boughten "snack food" in the house and rarely snack anyway. Seldom buy chips, only have cookies or cake when I make them which is not even weekly.

She wants me to keep a food diary for a week, so I can get a calorie count. Standard good idea, except that when you cook from scratch, not using recipes or even measuring, how the heck are you supposed to find the calorie count of such things as tacos, casseroles, or even tonight's supper of turkey in gravy made from the broth resulting from the cooking in the crock pot and flour, home made stove top stuffing and peas. I could probably easily google the count on the peas, if I weighed or measured my serving , and the turkey as well but... "it's just math" she says... but even if I were to take the time to try to measure everything in a meal as I cooked it this week, I have a pretty good idea it won't be the same next time I make the same dish.

She wants me to walk. Just walk... not going anywhere or doing anything. Yeah right. And that was what got me going on this rant/manifesto.  Because I do not REALLY live in your world, Doc.

 I do not live in a world where I have a job and spare time and hobbies and such. And even when I did have a job in town -- last year... I am coming up on a year of "retirement" from that world -- I did not live in that world, only visited it when needed. That is true, today, as well. My egg delivery, staples shopping, visits to my favorite yarn shop for the weekly Tour de Fleece check ins are just visits to another world, scheduled (sometimes with difficulty) around what I consider to be Real Life. It's a long way from here to there in many ways. Fourty-five minutes for a one way trip is nothing to sneeze at when the price of fuel is up, but the mental distance is even farther and truth be told, I think the distance between the greater Bangor area and the lands of Fussing Duck Farm and hex central is even farther for those who live in town!

Ever hear that saying "You create your own reality?" Despite all those who diss the idea, yes, indeed you can. I did and I do. In my world it is important to DO as much as you can for -- and by -- yourself to keep body and soul together, keep roofs over heads, food in the belly and clothes on the back. No, I
Fruits (actually vegetables) of my labors -
yielded 3.5 lbs shelled peas.
don't live in the 1800s -- and for this I am glad, for had I been born there, I would have actually died. I do, sometimes, appreciate modern medical advances and technology. My pain-free knees, and the medium I am using to communicate these thoughts attest to that. But in my world, most often the old ways get first crack at solving problems: herbs over drug store potions, letters, face to face meetings and at last resort digital communication over electronic summoning of disembodied voices, the fruits of ones own labors over laboring for money to buy fruit. Exercise is not something one stops working to do, but something you get from working. Meditation is not something one stops thinking to do, but something you fall into while spinning or weaving or knitting. Everything, it seems, serves more than one purpose.

Yes, it is hard work. Yes, I am often alone (but seldom lonely, thanks to this little bit of technology with which I communicate.) And yes, as I get older, it gets harder, I hurt more and more often in more places. But it is also just as satisfying a life as it has ever been, perhaps even more so.

In the modern world, where appearance seems to take the forefront and where many try to stand out by dress, or in other ways, you probably would not give me a second glance were you to pass me on the street. Internal differences, attitudes, outlooks don't often show. And I come from a long line of German witches. While we never tried to "fit in" we did not try to stand out, as many do these days. We were -- and are -- the folks that live just beyond.... just outside the routines of the mundane world, just a bit farther from town than you typically go. Those who need and really want to find us will, and do. To the rest, we remain overlooked.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Frigga's Day and Tour de Fleece

Just a quick blog post, for Frigga's Day and in honor of the Tour de Fleece which begins tomorrow in conjunction with the Tour de France cycling event. I started attending weekly knit-and-spin nights at my local yard shop, One Lupine, around about this time last year, and was intrigued by the folks who were busily spinning as part of this event.  This year, though it comes at a busy time of the year, I decided to join in.

Five of 8 bags currently full of FREE fleeces!
I know that, for the yarn shop, sponsoring a team is at least partly about making money. One Lupine sells roving (from which you can spin yarn), spinning tools, etc, as well as yarn. I also know, from having hung out with the folks at the store and some of the customers for a year now, that it is not just about making money or moving products. Everyone associated with the shop is passionate about fiber and eager to share their interest and knowledge whenever they can. As a business person, I also know that this is one of the best ways to build a loyal customer base, of which I am pleased to be a part.
...three bags full! Black, brown and
I don't buy lots of stuff -- and my main focus for my spinning projects for the Tour will involve trying to work up as much of my backlog of free fleece as I can -- but rest assured that I am hoping my current cash flow issues resolve
before the third week of the Tour -- when the "challenge week" at the store will feature a wonderful roving of yak and silk... two fibers that I would love to play with and I know I will never find offered for free -- like my fleeces -- on Freecycle or Craig's list.

Most of a fleece, in the grease,
that I am working on carding.
My first successful attempt at washing wool!
So today, in addition to working in the garden, I am hoping to get the bit of white wool that I have washed and dried processed through my new little baby drum carder. I have a decent start on the black wool which I am working in the grease ( my favorite way to card and spin wool). Above is the contents of ONE of many bags I have that I got for free, spread out on our kitchen table.
drum carder