February 28th, 2014
I love writing. I really do. But given that my day job also involves staring at a computer screen for hours on end, I need to get off my butt and do something on occasion. (Something that doesn’t involve housecleaning…)
When I had my shop open, that was easily accomplished. I’d be bagging herbs, making products, shipping products out…everything involving movement – and no computer screen. I miss that. Especially in the winter months when I can’t do anything in the garden.
A couple of weeks ago, I had an overwhelming itch to make something so I started rootling around the Internet for a project. It had to involve herbs and had to be something I found interesting. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, this is the ‘speriment I mentioned.
A lot of my ‘speriments don’t produce results but I have fun in the trying. This project actually came to fruition and I like it! Plantable gift tags are made of recycled office paper (I generate a lot of that), recycled twine and seeds. Your gift recipient simply plants the disk (after removing the string & instruction sticker on the back), waters it and in a couple of weeks, voilá! Herbs!
Pics are lousy, I know. I’ve never claimed to be a good photographer. There are baby seedlings in that pot that don’t show up.
I know it’s not a unique idea but… I was thinking about offering a set of 4 for $4: one each Basil, Catnip, Thyme and Sage. What do you think? Is this something I should pursue?
February 24th, 2014
I’m lucky…I’m self-employed and my office is in my house so I can decorate and/or do anything I damned well please. The majority of the witches I know, however, aren’t that lucky. They work in a corporate environment and nine times of ten, whether the boss knows about their witchy tendencies or not, have to keep things under wraps in their office or cubicle. What’s a corporate witch to do? There are several things that, on the surface, are totally innocuous but have underlying magical capability:
(This is a cool idea)
Plants are a wonderful way to bring magic into your workspace – especially if you have a window. My favorite is Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis). It helps with concentration and memory. However, she likes a lot of light so if you’re stuck under nothing but fluorescent, she may not like her environment. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) will grow – slowly – in an office and is one of the herbs used in spells to attain success. It is also a calming herb – great for office stress. Virtually any Mint (Mentha spp.) will grow in low light conditions and are also great for concentration, cleansing away negativity and in money (paycheck) spells.
Don’t have enough light for even a low-light plant? Try a bowl of potpourri. Unless you have a co-worker allergic to everything, the light scent shouldn’t be enough to bother anyone but you. Find a pleasing bowl, mix up some herbs with success/money/tranquility properties, infuse them with your intent & keep it on your desk. Stir it occasionally to release fragrance and magic.
Crystals are another way to “pretty up” your space with magic and no one the wiser. You’ll just be another person who likes pretty rocks. My husband (who isn’t even the magical sort) has a smoky quartz sitting on top of his computer case. Among other attributes, it removes negativity and fosters group cooperation. You can have one or more scattered around your office, or a small bowl of them, properly charged, and no one will be the wiser.
If you can have candles lit (most can’t), by all means, keep one (that you’ve dressed and charged) going during the day, or light it when it’s really needed.
The same goes for essential oils. If scent isn’t an issue in your workplace, you can purchase an electric warmer (circumventing the need for a lit candle), mix up several vials of oils for different situations and diffuse them. People will comment about how nice things smell with no idea you’re not only diffusing scent but intention.
And my last idea…a paperweight. This can be anything that holds magical meaning for you. Mine happens to be a stone with Djehuty (Thoth) painted on it. You could easily make one with craft resin, embedding, oh, a four-leaf clover or something, and using it to hold stuff down on your desk. Or just as decoration. It’s pretty but more than decoration, right?
So, those are my ideas. What do you do to bring magic to work with you?
February 16th, 2014
With the expansion of the Internet & lack of paper delivery here in the boonies, I wake up each morning with coffee & my computer…checking news, blogs, social networking, and the one special-interest forum I belong to.* Although I enjoy reading more than one view of current events & catching up with family, friends & acquaintances, I’m starting to re-think that process. Why?
Apart from the news (which seemingly is all bad these days), I’m seeing so much intolerance in the Pagan community it’s heartbreaking. “You’re not doing it right.” “You can’t be X if you do Y.” “You believe what? You’re nuts!” What ever happened to “whatever floats your boat” and/or “can’t we all just get along”? I don’t always think or believe the same way my friends do, yet we would never criticize one another’s path (which is one of the reasons they’re my friends).
My second problem is people (and I hate to point fingers but it seems to be the younger generation) who want to be spoon-fed. For example: that forum gets new members who, rather than read the thousands of posts (much less the stickies/pinned posts), start right in asking questions whose answers are easily found with a little searching and a lot of reading. A second example: a popular author I follow on Twitter is constantly pointing querents to his FAQ rather than answer the same question for the hundredth (thousandth?) time.
And don’t get me started on the lack of even-close-to proper grammar & spelling! Every social networking site & every forum that I’m aware of have built-in spellcheck. OK, the software isn’t perfect but all the red squiggly lines seem to get ignored. (I just googled a word this software didn’t recognize to ensure I’d spelled it correctly – but only because I’m too Sunday-lazy to walk upstairs to look it up in one of four dictionaries on the shelf.) I also know there are word usages spellcheck won’t pick up but come on! You’ve undoubtedly seen the “there/their/they’re” problem. But “dose” for “does”? Some things I read are so horribly written it’s difficult to discern the meaning behind the “words”. Is it our education system or laziness?
I’ve always admitted to being an old hippie but maybe I’m just getting old. My tolerance for intolerance is rapidly waning. So’s my tolerance for lack of the “hard work” mentality. And I don’t think there’s enough coffee in the world to solve that attitude.
A friend of mine lives on a boat & starts his morning with the sea. I’m not anywhere near the ocean but I think I’m going to follow his example & start my morning with the woods. They don’t do human drama…they just are. So, if you don’t see me on the Internet in the morning, you might want to look outside. Perhaps if I have a less-irritating start to my day, it will end with me being less irritated, as well.
* Yes, I’m well aware one shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition. “The one forum to which I belong” sounds rather stilted, don’t you think? I try to save the formal writing for business letters.
February 3rd, 2014
It started raining about noon yesterday, so hubby & I settled down for an afternoon of reading. It does tend to get crowded on our dual-recliner:
Mischa-the-grump is getting more tolerant of the kittens – Yuri was cleaning Mischa’s ear
They migrated over to my chair & got even more comfortable
Maks decided to join them. Holding a book in front of me got much more difficult!
January 22nd, 2014
Awhile back (dang! nearly 3 years ago!) I wrote a post about using soap as a way to incorporate magic into your hectic life. I’ve been faithfully making my magical soap – until about a month ago, that is. I ran out of base & kept forgetting to order more. Having used even the slivers up and still not remembered to order base, I bought a bar of commercial soap when doing the grocery shopping. Clean’s the main thing, right?
Clean is the main thing but it ain’t the only thing for this witch. A shower is more than just washing my body & hair. It’s one of my rituals. I use the “morning soap” to gear up for the day ahead. A shower in the afternoon or evening with the “calming soap” gets rid of the stress I seem to accumulate during the day. (Don’t want to insult any of my friends but several of my accounting clients really should have blond hair.) The commercial soap accomplished the clean but not the cleanse, if you get my drift. I tried charming the commercial bar but nothing happened so I think for me, the magic is in the making.
I’ve learned my lesson. A new supply of base is on the way.
January 6th, 2014
A few weeks ago, I was in the mood to be crafty. Me being me, it had to involve herbs in some way and I didn’t have anything on the agenda in the shop. So, a few minutes on the Interwebs gave me an idea: herbal dryer sachets. I haven’t used a commercial dryer sheet in years (read this for why) and although the dryer balls work okay, I’m just not that thrilled with them.
I always have unbleached muslin on hand for experiments so sewed up a square, filled it with about an ounce of dried Lavender flowers along with 10 drops of the same essential oil and did a load of laundry to see what happened. It worked! No static electricity, the clothes were just as soft as with the dryer balls (but no softer, unfortunately for my towels) and although I could smell the herb when I opened the dryer door, thankfully, my husband’s clothing didn’t smell like lavender. (That was a concern: it’s not a scent typically associated with the male of our species.) Then I got to thinking:
What makes it anti-static? Is it just the heavy concentration of volatile oil in the dried herb? (Volatile oil is what gives the herb its scent.) If so, there are other herbs that smell as strong when dried. So, I sewed up a few more squares and filled them with some other strong-smelling herbs I had in stock: Rosemary, Peppermint, and Rosebuds (with drops of the matching essential oil). Because there’s only two of us and my husband wears company-laundered uniforms to work, there’s not a lot of laundry so it took a couple of weeks to see what happened. The results:
Although clothes were soft-ish, the other three herbs did not eliminate static. I can’t find any scientific research to tell me why it’s just the Lavender but it is.
Experiment complete. While I like to use herbs when & where I can, I don’t like to unnecessarily spend money. Since nothing was any better than the dryer balls, I guess I’ll stick with those.
January 2nd, 2014
Happy New Year! Sun’s New Year, Gregorian Calendar New Year … whatever floats your boat. Nothing prevents me from celebrating twice!
It’s custom at this time to review the last year and make
resolutions plans for the new year. I’ll let you in on a secret: mine turned out to be a lot bigger than I’d thought. You see, I got called by a god. I’ve never done deity. Not that I haven’t believed in something bigger than me but that’s been amorphous – until now.
We first met a few years ago when I was doing research for a book I’ve yet to write (2 huge binders of information are gathering dust). He sounded like the kind of god I’d like but since I didn’t do deity, well … Fast forward to a few months ago. He kept popping up in my mind. The call became as irritating as a telemarketer … all hours of the day and night. I looked at Caller ID and sent him to voice mail. In the meantime, my mood kept getting shittier and what little I have in the way of creativity went down the crapper. My fiction writing looked a lot like my business letters: dull and to-the-point.
I finally answered the call last week & we talked. What he gets: acknowledgement of his existence and a small altar in my bedroom. (Notice I’m not capitalizing the pronoun. No worshipful subject here.) I cautioned him about the altar: my kittens can be destructive. He claims they’ll leave it alone. What I get: my mood has lightened considerably and the writing light bulb has reappeared over my head. Those binders of research? A lot of it will go into the book I got stuck on. Hmph.
So, here I am in my later years, doing something I never thought I’d do. It kind of pisses me off but then again, one doesn’t argue with a god. They can make your life hell if you try.
December 27th, 2013
I’m almost three chapters into Fudge’s life and Amy’s about to fall asleep. (Don’t know what I’m talking about? Look here.) I wanted him to not only tell Amy about his life but also instruct her a little into the various ways magic was practiced during his long life. (Spoiler: he’s older than Yoda.) I’m finding he seems to be related in some way to my college marketing professor – droning, boring. He needs to be more like the guy that taught macro economics – putting life into a dull subject.
Although I promised myself I was going to use my time off from clickety-punch to write, today I’m going to clean up after the kittens (the older cats would never be caught playing with toys, you know). I’m going to fix the cordless phone that’s now in pieces, find the countless little plastic balls that have been rolled all over the house and attempt to remember (mumble-mumble years later) why I laughed in an economics class.
Learning should be fun, don’t you think?
December 5th, 2013
My inner child has been whining, “WHY?” for the last several days. WHY do we associate many warming spices with the holiday (Yule/Christmas) season? I’ve just spent a couple of hours browsing the Internet for answers and haven’t found a danged one. Oh, yes, there are plenty of sites giving generic spice history but nothing specifically associated with the holiday season.
So, I’m going to go out on a limb and do some conjecturing.
First, most of our holiday traditions come from the northern hemisphere where it can get bone-chilling cold in the month of December. Cinnamon, Clove, Ginger, Nutmeg and Pepper will all warm your innards in addition to adding interesting taste to otherwise bland foodstuffs. (Eggnog without spices? Milk, egg yolks, sugar & rum. Yuck. Add in Cloves, Cinnamon, Vanilla & Nutmeg – YUM!)
Second, up until the last century or so, spices were expensive and not generally available to the masses. Yule/Christmas (along with other feast days) is generally considered a time of splurging so those who could incorporated the expensive spices into their cooking. (For an interesting perspective on spice usage in the Middle Ages, read this.) Once most spices became affordable to the common man, food became tastier more often and the more expensive stuff (like Ginger and Nutmeg) was used in foods served on holidays.
Lastly, decorated gingerbread (either cake-like or in biscuit/cookie form) can be traced back at least 500 years. Food (generally biscuits/cookies) was the first decoration on Yule trees. The ubiquitous gingerbread men are attributed to Queen Elizabeth I, who served man-shaped, decorated cookies to visiting dignitaries. Along came the Grimm Brothers with their candy witch’s house in the 19th century and gingerbread houses became widely popular.
Have I answered my own question? Nope. I’m telling my inner child to shush. In the meantime, I’m putting some Clove & Cinnamon oil into the warmer while I pull cards from my grandmother’s recipe box for my annual bake-fest. One of my favorites:
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup molasses
3 drops Anise oil
1 tablespoon hot water
3-1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground Cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon White Pepper
Mix shortening, sugar, egg, molasses, anise oil & water. (Works best if you put the oil in the water before adding to the bowl.) Blend in remaining ingredients. Knead the dough until it’s the right consistency for molding. Shape by level teaspoons into balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350°F for about 12 minutes. Store in an airtight container. (My grandmother rolled hers in confectioners’ sugar before storing. I like them best plain.)
November 15th, 2013
I have a problem.
I had an idea for an online course, based on my books (which are an outgrowth of my passion): teaching medicinal and magical herbalism together. I started writing it and made good progress … something like 70 pages of basic information. However, when I got to writing about the practical part of magical herbalism, I ran into a roadblock.
I have no idea how to put into words what I do almost completely by intuition. If I need to do a spell, my gut (and sometimes the plant spirits themselves) tells me what to use. Yes, my years of study and practice have hardwired a lot of information but many times, something I don’t expect worms its way into the equation. And because all my spells are individualized to the situation, there’s no set this spell for that problem. (See this post for my methods.) How does one go about imparting that kind of information?
I’m not completely giving up, just putting it on the back burner. Like everything else, I’m sure it’ll come to me when I’m not consciously thinking of it – like waking me up at 2am with the ‘aha’ moment. I’ll let you know when that happens.