The Importance of Hearth-Keeping

Cleaning is not made for those of us who were built for grand gestures. It is a war of attrition against the dust; little things over and over and over again, never ending. A lesson in entropy.

When you live for the flash, for the romance of it all, it’s hard to find that in the daily sweeping of the kitchen floor or the seemingly endless job of doing the dishes.

Did I not just do these? you ask, and of course you did, but you also ate again, and that made dishes dirty again. Unless you stand in front of the fridge or the sink to eat your food directly out of the pan — but then the pan needs cleaning. And even if you only order fast food, there’s still the garbage to deal with.

Somehow, on our journey out of the trees and to this existence we call civilization, we’ve made it so that the very process of existing every day creates a hell of a lot of mess. Which then shows exactly how much sense it makes that there are so many gods and goddesses associated with the hearth.

An outdoor oven in front of a backdrop of red earth and green plants.
Photo by Lachlan Ross from Pexels

The hearth in olden times was the center of the household, of course; it was the kitchen, and it was there a fire would keep the family warm and cook their food. It was also a place that required constant upkeep, as did the rest of the house.

We’ve made things slightly more convenient for ourselves — vacuums, Swiffers, and other modern inventions make certain cleaning tasks less Herculean — but the simple fact of the matter is that the amount of cleaning and tidying we must do in order to keep normal life going hasn’t really changed.

What has changed is how much we’re expected to be outside the house, earning our keep — earning the right to continue to eat and shit and love and generally be mammals upon this green earth.

The pandemic was, in some respects, a blessing for our household, because it reminded us exactly how much work householding is — it reminded us about hearth-keeping and how you really do need a person (one at least, more is better) at home full time to deal with keeping the family in food and clothes and a generally not-dusty existence.

I struggle with cleaning — every day, I struggle against it; every day it’s another episode of “I don’t fucking want to.” Because I am a creature of the grand gesture — triple Leo in my chart and more fire besides — I am the person who wants to do a cleaning marathon and then not have to think about it for another month or so.

Decluttering might work that way, for some folks; cleaning does not.

You cannot leave the dishes and the sweeping and the keeping the fridge clean and the dealing with food and the garbage in the bathroom and the dusting and all the other myriad, tiny hearth-keeping tasks that must be done on daily or weekly bases, for an entire month.

Well, you can, but then they pile up, and animals are attracted, and the dust overwhelms your sinuses, and the floor feels gritty under your feet, and every time you look at the mess you feel depressed and full of self-loathing and like you’re not a Real Person and Never Will Be —

but I have to tell you a secret.

Almost everyone struggles with balancing it all.

Yes, I know, there are people on YouTube or with blogs or on Instagram who seem to have these perfect, put together lives; their houses are always neat and tidy and the one time they post a “Oops I didn’t tidy today! It’s so MESSY lol” picture you want to STRANGLE them because your house has NEVER LOOKED SO AMAZING —

but. But but but.

These people are in the minority. In fact I’m willing to state that they are so in the minority that the majority of the ones you see online with their perfect houses and the occasional “this throw pillow is upside down, my house is a mess” post — these people are not that put-together. They struggle as much as the rest of us.

Struggling to balance all the nitty-gritty details — the foundation that must be there to support the rest of your life — with the job you must work in order to earn the right to pursue your passions, with taking care of another being, with just finding ten minutes every day to have to yourself…that struggle is normal.

It shouldn’t be, but it is. So it goes with so many things in this world.

My mom broke her ankle in January 2020 and then a pandemic hit. I took care of her and worked as many hours as I could grab on my casual schedule and tried valiantly to keep the house to her standards. I failed miserably in that, and it probably galvanized her to get better faster.

Once she was better, she became the main Hearth-Keeper again — and in fact, it became her main role, as she could no longer do her jobs safely. That’s now likely the case for the foreseeable future.

We’ve had so many conversations over the past year and change about hearth-keeping, and its central importance to human life. We’ve talked about Hestia and Demeter and a return to paying attention to the gods of old, and the important lessons they have to share with us.

My mom has been trying to support me in my becoming the central Hearth-Keeper of my own life, the mistress of my household, ruling with an iron fist within a velvet glove.

Saying it’s been a breeze would be a complete lie, especially in the face of everything I’ve said already.

We all struggle with this shit. Some of us more than others, but we all do.

Lately I’ve been in a state of total overwhelm, and tonight instead of writing the article I should be writing because of a commitment I made to write and post it by tomorrow in my writing group, I sat down and started penning the opening words to this piece — words that came to me as I worked on cleaning my suite earlier in the evening.

There is no flashy, grand gesture in what I did tonight. It was not as satisfying as a spectacle would be to me. It was small steps, eked out as much as my body would allow, and stopping when I started sneezing too much. (Cleaning with allergies? Special hell.)

Yet I can still see the differences I made, and I remind myself that better is the aim, not done. That practice makes progress, not perfect.

And I say my thanks to the Great Mother and to Hestia for my blessings — for a mortal mother who Hearth-Keeps for me so I can go to work and go back to school and raise a puppy and write and rescue my husband from the Underworld. For a mortal mother with whom I can have daily conversations about philosophy and the gods and spiritual existence — a blessing I know I am rare among humans to receive.

I say thanks for my puppy, who saved me from my own underworld last fall. For the garden, the good rich soil into which I can lose myself and know I am part of the Great Mother’s cycles. For the safety my family has known over the past year, for our luck in being where we are, for the movements in the universe that align me perfectly and that I cannot see until well after they have happened.

When new developments arise that seem less than fortuitous, I remind myself of all I cannot understand until I have gone through it, and I put my faith in the gods.

They have me. I trust them.

And in the meantime, I sweep the damned kitchen.

How to Use Rolling Papers for Spells and Rituals

Rolling papers for spells? Really?

Picture painting time: it’s the dark moon and you have some banishing to do. Or it’s Valentine’s and you’ve just been dumped, and you want to light something on fire and also cut your ex out of your life. (We’ve all been there.)

Or, on a more positive note, you want to manifest your wishes by burning them and sending the smoke into the universe.

You find a spell that tells you to write something on a piece of paper and set fire to it. Ok, simple. Except there’s one little problem:

Most paper you’re going to find in your house on short notice takes forever to burn, gets smokey, and is generally a big mess and fire hazard.

When I do these spells, I need to do them over the sink if I want to be safe, and they still smoke up. Cough cough, hack hack. Ugh.

Flash paper is, of course, an option, but it’s an expensive and hard to find one. You could always make your own, but I’m a busy witch with shit to do. I don’t have time to DIY everything.

You know what’s not expensive and is fairly easy to find?

Rolling papers.

The brand I see most often in hippy BC is Pure Hemp, and it’s purchased by people who either roll their own cigarettes or their own…cigarettes (wink wink nudge nudge, it was just 4/20).

I happened to have a package kicking around (for legitimate, pot-smoking reasons) the other night when I was doing some small spell work to banish some bad habits. It suddenly occurred to me — hey, that’s a great thing to write things on and then burn. It’s pure hemp and it’s meant to be burned and the smoke inhaled, so it’s probably the safest paper I could burn.

I’m not really sure why this has never occurred to me before because it is, dare I say, fucking brilliant.

A thin felt-tip pen will handily write what you want on the paper without smudging. You can then burn it as is, or you can roll some herbs up in it and then set fire to it. It will burn out quickly and safely in a fireproof container of your choice.

Second Dark Moon Banishing Spell

So the first one I did was on Sunday, the 19th. Technically it was still waning crescent, but the energies of the dark moon were out and about.

I banished some shitty habits and feelings that don’t serve me. I only had my regular-size rolling papers on me, so I had to write it out on like four of them.

But it worked a treat. So when mom and I went out for needed groceries and supplies at the health food store which doubles as a witch shop, along with a beeswax tealight and some more crystals I picked up a package of King-Sized Pure Hemp rolling papers.

On Tuesday night, I did a secondary Dark Moon spell, but this time I wrote things on the paper in a positive, affirmation way. (The first spell I did I just wrote out what I wanted to banish.)

I was able to fit the whole spell on the paper, and signed it at the bottom. Lit my uncrossing candle, read out loud the words on the paper three times.

Then, for added oomph, I put some rosemary (exorcism, banishing) in the paper and rolled it up before burning it. The smoke I moved over my head and back, and felt whatever curses that are on me lose their strength.

It’s not a one-time deal. It’s an ongoing work. So the rolling papers are a good investment for that kind of work.

New Moon Manifestation

For this New Moon in Taurus, I decided to do some money manifestation, and I discovered another benefit to using rolling papers.

They’re so thin, you can use them to trace sigils.

Doesn’t that just make this whole business a lot easier?

I created two sigils for my manifestation work — one to have money flow to me effortlessly, and another for my creativity to flow unabated. When I was done, I traced the sigils onto a rolling paper each (king size), and then readied my spell.

A little while ago I bought beeswax “gala” style candles. Those are those ones that are almost like birthday cake candles, but a bit longer and thinner.

A king size rolling paper rolls around one of them perfectly.

A picture demonstrating one way to use rolling papers in spells and rituals. Two candles have rolling papers with sigils drawn on them around the body of the candles; as the candles burn, the papers go up in flame and the sigil's energy is released.
Spell in progress with the two candles and the papers sealed around them.

I didn’t have to trace the sigil into the candle. I didn’t have to try to mimic my lines perfectly onto a thicker piece of paper. This was one of the easiest sigil + candle spells I’ve ever worked.

I’m also happy to report that the papers, once on the candles, burned just fine. I even had money draw oil on them as well, and it didn’t screw up the burning of the candles for the spell. They burned down and the papers disappeared.

Now for the rest of this moon cycle, I can trace the sigils onto rolling papers again and just light them by themselves to keep the spell going.

New Favourite Spell Tool? Probably.

I’m going to be experimenting more with using rolling papers in my future spell endeavors. It’s possible there are uses I haven’t figured out yet.

Even if there aren’t, I now have something that simplifies things immensely without losing any power for the work. That’s a win-win-win.

Gardening As a Metaphor for Healing from Trauma

In the past week I’ve started thinking about gardening as a metaphor for my own healing from my trauma, which has helped me organize my thoughts about it and figure out what steps I need to take next.

Imagine the soul, or the mind, or whatever the essence of the person is, as a garden. Some parts of it are deep, the bottom layer of soil touching bedrock and covered by many more layers on top. Other parts are more shallow, but they still touch the deep parts.

Any time you try anything new — a new habit, a new project, a new relationship — it’s like you’re planting new plants in your garden.

Maybe someone was careful with this garden from the get-go. Maybe they put in good soil, good fertilizer, rotated crops often, watered them. So the new plants you put in, they grow fine, easily, with few problems aside those problems that affect every gardener (aphids, weeds, etc).

However, maybe someone wasn’t careful from the start. Maybe this land wasn’t always a garden. Maybe it was a dumping ground for toxic waste, and no one did any clean-up before they tossed soil on top and tried to start growing plants.

So every plant you put into the soil struggles. And maybe you’re able to get a good, bountiful yield out of them, but it means toiling every single day. It means hardship and fighting. It means you are spending all your time trying to get these plants to just grow in tainted soil, so you rarely have energy to actually enjoy the fruits of your labors.

My garden is the dumping ground type.

A History of Trauma Etched in the Soil of Me

In the earliest days of my garden, I was given good soil and fertilizer. I was given rays of sunshine in a mother’s love and I was given the cool, clean water of peacefulness. Those earliest days barely lasted a season, but they were enough to give me resilience. So I am luckier than most.

After that, toxic waste was dumped into my garden. Not run of the mill toxic waste, either. Depleted uranium-level toxic waste. It leached radioactivity into the soil, and then more dirt just covered it up.

From then on, every time I tried to plant something, those plants tended to shrivel and die. They turned into little rotten bits of radioactivity, and then they’d get covered by yet more dirt, in the hopes that if I could just put enough dirt on top of the original wound, I’d be able to escape its effects.

Meanwhile, other parts of the garden started with good soil and water, but they touch the radioactive part. Plants there still struggle, though not as much.

If I want to have a healthy, thriving garden, I need to excavate and pull out that radioactive lump and then yeet it into the sun.

But I can’t only excavate and destroy. I need to heal at the same time.


If I want to actually heal the deepest, most wounded parts of me, I need to not only cut out the poisons and toxins but also give myself a blood transfusion at the same time. (We’ve swtiched metaphors for a moment.)

You can’t do major surgery without having blood products on hand. So trying to remove the toxic waste left behind by trauma without having some ongoing healing work happening is not a good plan.

In those shallower parts of the garden that touch on the tainted soil, I will plant phytoremediators. Plants that take up toxicity from the soil and cleanse it, giving it up to the sun.

I will plants sunflowers, and then I will dive into the darkest parts of the garden, and fish out the garbage that has been dumped there.

Like gardening, it is difficult, hard labour. And like gardening, it must be done.

Signal Boost: The Disabled Hiker’s Guidebook

After several years working on building disabled community and posting about disabled-accessible hiking, my friend Syren Nagakyrie has started work on the Guidebook for it all.

Of course, creating such a guidebook will take some money — one needs to travel to the hikes and try them in order to write effectively about them. So Syren has put together an IndieGogo to fund the creation of the Guidebook.

There are some nice perks, and you’d be funding the creation of a book that is sorely needed. Take a couple of minutes and check it out.


Practice Makes Progress: April 1st to 15th

It’s been a while since my last post, and even longer since my last Practice Makes Progress post, which I’d hoped to make a regular feature. Mea culpa. Life’s been weird. I’m sure it has been for you too.

In my last post I mentioned moving up to Powell River to help take care of my mom. When I’d written that post, the plan was for me to come up at the end of January, giving me time to pack and plan and prepare and also work my last week of work at my old job.

By the time that post went up here at the blog (I post things earlier for supporters at Ko-Fi), my mom had broken her ankle and I’d had to leave much earlier than planned.

I lost three weeks of work and obliterated my savings.

Mom had surgery to fix her ankle, then two post-op complications. I have about seven more gray hairs than I did at the beginning of the year.

And then there was, you know. A pandemic.

Essential Yet Casual

The irony of my current situation is that I’m an essential worker — but I’m also a casual hospital worker, because I’m new. That’s how it goes in hospitals here. You start out as casual and eventually you’ll work your way up to regular hours, if that’s what you want.

Shift awarding goes based on seniority. And the pandemic has made it so some casuals higher above me in seniority terms who may not have been taking shifts — suddenly are.

Being a casual is always a sort of boom and bust cycle, but ironically I’m finding the pandemic that makes me an essential worker has also cut down my hours.

So that means a few things for me. One, it means I’m really hurting for money in a time when I was supposed to be saving and getting ready for bigger and brighter things.

Two, it means I have a lot more time on my hands to do what I want to do. So I have been, and I’ve been grateful for that, and for the ability to spend time with my mother and Tyee the wonderwolf.

I’ll be applying for assistance from our government’s stimulus package, which will hopefully give me some breathing room money-wise, and I’ll keep applying for every shift call out that comes my way.

But in the meantime? I’m going to enjoy the time off and focus on things that I’ve wanted to do forever but never had the time for.

That’s what this post is about (though in a slightly different format from last time).

A Trip to Eleusis

I went to Spring Mysteries Festival this year for the first time in a long time. Going this year had been part of our plans in January, before we realized the complete lack of money from my losing three weeks of work made it impossible.

I was heartbroken, because not only did I really want to take mom to Spring Mysteries Fest, this year was very special: my dear friend Mary Malinski became installed as Archpriestess of ATC Canada during the festival. I wanted to be there for her!

And through the weird blessing of a pandemic and a stay at home order, I was.

Spring Mysteries Fest went virtual this year, and it was honestly great.

I have many of the same mixed emotions Mary outlines in her post, linked above, but above all I’m so grateful mom and I were able to attend the event.

It was sorely needed for both of us.

Spring Mysteries Festival is a recreation of the Eleusinian Mysteries, which we know centered around the myth of Demeter and Persephone — Persephone’s descent to and return from the Underworld, and Demeter’s grief at the loss of her daughter which is what gives us mortals our seasons.

The event marries pagan ritual and theatre, and it is where you can walk among the Hellenic gods for a weekend. Literally.

It’s also oathbound, so I’m not supposed to tell you what I saw in the Mysteries. Personally, I have issues with that part, which probably deserve their own post — but I’m not about to break the oath here in this post.

Healing Trauma through Myths

The Demeter/Persephone myth is one that is deeply personal to me and my mother, and has been since my childhood.

When I was young, I latched on to the myth as a way to tell my own story — one of a girl who was abducted by the lord of the underworld and taken away from her mother. Being a child of divorce, in other words.

When I grew older and mentioned that I’d mapped the myth to my own experiences, people immediately assumed I meant my father had sexually abused me. No, I hadn’t, and no, he didn’t. He’s an asshole, not a pedophile.

When I was a kid I was reading sanitized versions of the myths and I didn’t fully realize the implications of saying such a thing. To me, the myth was: Persephone loves her mom, gets kidnapped, is forced to eat food of the Underworld so she must continue to go back every year for six months.

That could have been the story of holiday access months for me.

I eventually became uncomfortable with the implications that other people saw, and stepped away from the myth. I looked at other descent-to-the-underworld myths.

They never rang as true for me as Persephone’s, so I kept coming back to it. When I first went to Spring Mysteries Festival I was able to dive deep, and reaffirm my connection with that myth cycle. I acknowledged that things from myths will never map perfectly to our own lives.

Except, possibly, this year.

A pandemic has me trapped with my mother in her new house, which boasts a garden Demeter would adore, far away from my husband, who lives in a basement suite in the Lower Mainland.


Planting Seeds of Healing

Mom and I attended the mysteries virtually. We dove deep into the Demeter/Persephone myth, and we visited the gods in their shrines.

We received blessings from Hephaestus, Hestia, and Demeter. And then we went through the Mysteries, and almost instantly got into a fight, with lots of crying.

It was a productive fight, and it was a complete non-surprise to me. As good as our relationship is — and it is quite an excellent mother-daughter relationship — it has its issues. We still fight.

So diving deep into the myth for mother-daughter relationships and all their problems…of course it would make some things bubble to the surface.

Fighting like that isn’t comfortable, and it exhausted us both. But we made steps in healing. We realized that maybe…there is no solution to these issues that keep arising, but we still need to talk about them, and cry about them. Maybe that is the solution.

Mom and I came through the Mysteries renewed and with our relationship strengthened.

We turned our focus to the garden.


Gardening has been on a lot of people’s minds in the face of the pandemic. We can see that there will be disruptions to our food supply chain, and we need to make sure we can feed ourselves.

There’s been a cry on social media to bring back victory gardens, and I can’t say I’m against the idea.

Mom and I had already been looking at reviving the garden this year. She hadn’t been able to focus on it last year, and it’s now in need of some serious attention.

I’m happy to dive in and help, because I love gardening. It’s been 11 years since I was able to keep a garden, and I’ve missed it. Plus, mom is letting me have a huge hand in planning and design, as well as choosing witchy and devotional plants to put in.

We’ll be setting up a shrine to Demeter in the garden, and eventually an outdoors hearth for Hestia. This week is about buying starting plants and dirt, and getting things rolling for having an herb and kitchen garden nearby the house.

We’ve also been pruning like crazy, and trying to save some plants who are on their way to Erebos. Time will tell if we’ve been successful.


I finally did a rite from my Moonology diary, the full moon before Easter.

It felt really good to forgive, and it was perfect timing, because I was in the middle of a fight with my husband. (Oh, yeah, turns out being separated with no notion of when you’ll see each other again is actually really hard on the relationship, who knew.)

What was that about my love life being tested? Fuck off, astrology.

My own lord of the underworld misses his bright and sunny wife, goddess of flowers and spring. I, of course, miss him terribly. And we’re both stressed about money.

Add to that, he often feels like he plays second fiddle to my relationship with my mom. In some sense, he’s right, because in some sense everything will be second fiddle to my mom. But in some sense, he’s dead wrong, because everything will be second fiddle to him.

He feels…abandoned. He can’t articulate it as that, but the way he talks about it…it’s clear. So yes, we fought, and I did a full moon rite of forgiveness to forgive myself and him. And we talked and got past it.

We made concrete plans to make things better. Date nights, twice a week, on Friday and Saturday from 9 to 11. That’s HIS time with me — barring work, or in the case of last weekend, the Mysteries.

I wonder if Persephone and Hades had a Discord voice and video chat every week?


The last thing I want to talk about that I’ve been doing that’s been helping is journalling.

Both mundanely and magically, I’ve started using physical journals again. It’s really helping.

In my main journal, I talk about my life, what’s going on, my feelings. I record whatever I can, including updates on pandemic numbers and world events, whenever I can stand to look at it. (It’s a dangerous spiral of self-destruction for me.)

Then I have my bullet journal, where I’ve created a few spreads, some mundane, some more magical. One of them is Post Ideas for this blog. Another is my 2020 reso-goal-tions, which includes spiritual stuff. And then my 2020 book list, which is books I want to read, highlighted as I do and a note put beside them on my rating/recommendation.

I also have a period tracker, because that bit of magic is back. Yay.

Finally, I have my Grimmerie, which is done in a bullet journal style. It’s been severely neglected for a while, but I decided it was time to get back to it. I’m going to write a separate post about how I’m doing that/where I’m putting what info, but for now I just wanted to note that it’s working.


I’ve started giving offerings on a regular basis again. Every morning and night I offer tea to Hestia, and when I shower I sing a prayer song to Aphrodite. It’s not much, but it’s a habit I’d like to continue and build upon.

Plans for the next two weeks

Let’s be real, posting this once a week doesn’t work for me, so I’m going to do an extra long post every 2 weeks. (This post is insanely long. Hopefully the next one will be shorter.)


  • plant all the starters we got
  • plan out where the cedar planters go
  • paint symbols of Demeter on the planters if we can find some paint
  • prune back the sage
  • save the fig tree from the demon wisteria
  • save everything else from the demon wisteria (I might need to do an exorcism, that stuff is not of this planet)
  • keep an eye on the plants we’ve tried to rescue
  • see if the hawthorn is salvageable
  • prune all the things
  • turn the compost
  • plan out the conifer hedge

Moonology/Moon Magic

  • do the new moon rite
  • continue to record gratitude in journal
  • continue to record daily Tarot cards

Journalling/Witchy Bujo

  • finish the moon phases spread in the Grimmerie
  • create a Tarot card tracking spread
  • flesh out the herb pages already created in the Grimmerie


  • choose some topic ideas from my list and write some blog posts
  • write some more hymns to actually finish that project
  • focus on writing more prayers to the gods


  • continue the habits I’ve started
  • add regular offerings to the Three

There are other things I’d like to do in the next two weeks, probably, but this post is long enough as is. Hopefully once I start doing these posts on an actually regular basis, they won’t be so fucking unwieldy.

I hope you’re staying safe in these uncertain times, and I hope this post was entertaining and insightful. I will see you again soon with more stuff.


2020: the year of detox

In the latter half of 2019 I started getting more into astrology, the moon phases, and a bunch of related stuff. So I subscribed to Ivy at Circle Thrice‘s newsletter, and downloaded their Agile Magic Manifesto. I bought the Moonology 2020 diary, with the intent of using it to make this year awesome.

As a result, I ended up subscribing to Yasmin Boland‘s stuff too, and ended up downloading their Promises and Pressures 2020 Guide.

The promise for Leo is that I can detox my life. The pressure is that my love life is being tested.

Well. Let’s examine that.

Continue reading “2020: the year of detox”

Practice Makes Progress: September 18th – 25th

I’m shamelessly stealing this idea from Jenett as a way to actually, you know. Blog.

I’ve been so silent on here for so long and it’s not because I’m doing nothing; it’s just because I used to write these big, lengthy posts on one topic and that hasn’t been attainable for some time. But a round-up post about a lot of little things? I think I can do that.

So here’s what I’m doing in ongoing magical practice. Jenett calls hers “Witch in Practice”; I call mine Practice Makes Progress because that’s been my mantra for a while now.

What I’ve Been Doing Recently:

Reading. Lots of reading. I recently finished Arin Murphy-Hiscock’s The Witch’s Book of Self-Care, which I will likely write a full post raving about at some point. I just need to get my hands on my own copy; I borrowed the one I read from the library.

I also read Ivy’s Agile Magic Manifesto, which I found super useful in a lot of ways. It’s sparked me towards more ancestor work, and helped me realize what was missing from that area of my practice.

Lighting an uncrossing candle (whenever possible). When mom was down a few months ago we went by the local witch shop and she bought me an uncrossing candle. I’ve been lighting it and working on untangling whatever’s crossing me right now as and when I’m able to or I remember. Which is not often enough, but. The candle works. I can feel it working. Hopefully once I’ve burned it all down I will be rid of some of the energetic brambles tangling me up.

Car magic. I can’t do a lot in this house, which I’m working on getting us out of. But I do feel more at home and safer in my car, so I started enchanting her in small ways. Before this past week I’d drawn sigils on her steering wheel, set up a Ganesh shrine in the cup holder (which I need to redo soon), and put a sprig of yarrow in the glove compartment. This past week I shielded the back window with an application of RainX; going to do the rest of the windows as soon as I can.

Cleaning and packing. I’m trying like hell to get out of this place and into a better spot, and part of that is downsizing everything we own so that it’s more manageable while we’re here. That doesn’t mean getting rid of stuff, necessarily, though I have gotten rid of some things. It mostly means packing up my books and putting them into storage. Mom’s been coming down to help me, because between working full-time and my back injury/chronic pain, it’s a nearly impossible task alone. Or even with Mr. Morag, who does help as much as he can. He is not the cleaning tornado my mom is, however.

What I’m starting to do/planning on doing soon:

Ancestor work. Briefly mentioned above, I read a bit in the manifesto about how you don’t pray to your ancestors, you pray for them. This sparked off a lightbulb and now I’m teaching myself how to say the Lord’s Prayer in Dutch, because I really feel my Oma would appreciate that. I’m also going to be moving my ancestor altar to a better spot in the house (which is part of cleaning and packing).

This is made difficult by the fact that I burst into giggles almost every time I say the Dutch word for heaven because it sounds hilarious to me, but I soldier on.

More reading! I’m now working on Murphy-Hiscock’s The House Witch and HausMagick by Erica Feldmann. I’ve flipped through the second and I don’t have the best feeling about it, but I’ll still read it all. Even bad books can hide gems.

Seasonal kitchen witchery. Fall is always the time I feel inspired to do seasonal cooking/baking, so I’m going to lean into that impulse and make some sugar free apple crisp this week. I’m also going to make some sugar-free pumpkin pie in preparation for Thanksgiving, which is coming up fast here in Canada.

Daily prayers. I’ve realized I can say these in my car before I drive to work if I manage to leave the house on time, so I’m going to try that. I’ll be writing the prayer down in the car so I don’t have to try to memorize something and thus stumble over it.

That’s it in broad strokes for this past week and upcoming plans. Hopefully I’m starting a pattern of posting regularly, even if it’s just bullet points on my current practice.


Monstrous Ancestry: Channeling the Better Parts of Our Forebears; Transforming the Worst

This post originally appeared on Patreon on Saturday, February 9th, 2019.

This morning I channeled my bio-sire in my kitchen. Clothed in woolen socks, boxers, and a sweatshirt, I cooked pancakes on the stove and burned them black. (Well, ok, dark brown. I lack a proper griddle.) This was the way he always did them and it is the best way to eat them — the burning brings out flavours that don’t exist in golden pancakes.

I find golden pancakes an abomination; a complete void of flavour needing copious amounts of syrup to make up for their very existence. Why even bother?

Weekend mornings with pancakes and waffles made by dad and served to us kids with butter and Summerland Sweets syrup (or maple) — one of the best memories of my childhood. (From what I can remember.)

But of course, there was a monstrous side to this, as there is with every good thing about my bio-sire. He’d leave the kitchen an absolute, horrendous mess — batter everywhere, bowls out, counter dirty. If he’d made waffles that morning, the waffle maker would be a crusted mountain of batter that he never bothered to wipe off while it was wet.

All this mess was, of course, left to my mother to clean up. Anytime my father cooked, he left a horrendous mess that she had to deal with.

So while I channeled the good part of him, I transformed the bad. I left the bowls to soak as soon as I was done with them, and started the dishwasher before I even began cooking. I wiped up any batter spills on the counters. Soon I’ll go in and wash out the bowls so they’re clean so that when my husband wakes up, I can make him pancakes. Or more likely, waffles, because I don’t know how to make non-burnt pancakes and I don’t think Mr. Morag likes them as blackened as I do.

(His will have sugar in them; mine had Krisda, my monk fruit and erythritol sugar substitute.)

Transforming that aspect of my bio-sire means that when I do channel the good sides — and I will, because I am so like him in so many ways — I don’t have to feel guilty for allowing a monster to reside within. I can have my burnt pancakes and eat them too, because he taught me that those flavours are so much better than bland golden.

He also taught me how not to live with your spouse, and for that I am grateful. His pitfalls are signage on my own path.

The monsters behind me hold lanterns, showing their own paths, showing what I must avoid. I am thankful for their teachings.

It is hard to love you now

Relationships with the gods and spirits are for many reasons. For gifts, for help, because you like them, because you share some element, some essence. Reciprocity. I give to the Three that the universe might keep ticking on. 

Perhaps in other perspectives the Three aren’t the movers and shakers of All That Is, but for me they are birth/life/death, they are land/sea/sky, they are the different ends of the cosmos and the Mother Tree that connects them. They are these things that keep life together. 

And they are beings that give to me what is of their essence, and I try to give to them, that they might keep that essence strong. Self-sovereignty from the Morrigan: the power of boundaries, the attitude of the knife. Creation from Brighid: the ability to weave anew from the scraps left behind; the fires of healing, of poetry, of smithing. Peace from Manannan: a place to rest in the stillness, the ability to help those that need that peace. Finding the cold depths of myself in the liminal, limitless ocean.

It is all this and much more — for me, it is also the presence of the beloveds. 

I didn’t know such a fierce fire of devotion could be awoken in my hearts until I met the Three, but it can, and it has, and I do adore them. I love them with all my heart, even when they aren’t there, even when I can’t feel them. I love them still. (And yes, I also love others — corporeal and not — with all my heart; maybe I have multiple hearts, for all the love I have.)

Whatever small rituals I manage to cobble together in my currently broken state, I do for their presence, I do to let them know I am still here, still loving them. 

It is very hard to love them right now. 

The seasonal rituals that I have put together are done for the purpose of connecting to them, of finding where they fit within the seasons that run through my life. I am busy building a cosmology where the Three are part of the seasons of British Columbia, the place where I will hang my hat for the foreseeable future. 

Imbolc is Brighid’s, of course; her traditional day. Beltane is the Morrigan’s, and Samhain is Manannan’s. (The solstices and equinoxes are divided up a little differently.) And Loafmass, coming up in less than a week, is for all of them. 

 A summer holiday here in BC; also usually on the BC Day Long Weekend (which makes it very useful for modern practitioners). A day with various names in various traditions, but in this one that I am slowly cobbling together with whatever scraps I can find, it is a day — no, a season — of bread and berries.

A season, because blackberries especially, and they aren’t really in season until later in August. But other berries ripen throughout the summer in BC, and many childhoods were spent eating them right off the vine on our nature walks. 

This is what summer has traditionally been for me: berries. Bread, not so much, not specifically to this time of year, but it is now, as I’ve folded in the other meanings of the day in other traditions. I like the idea of making bread, that needs the Three to come to fruition: the sun (Brighid) to ripen the wheat, the soil (the Morrigan) in which to grow it, the rain (Manannan) to help it reach high into the air. The milling of the flour, which evokes to me all of them; the combining of the ingredients — whatever they may be — with hands or with machine, done with the purpose of nourishment. 

Nourishment, as they nourish the cosmos. As they nourish me. 

But things change, and they will change more, and I will have to adjust, for I cannot stop this change. I don’t know that anyone can. 

For now, there are the wildfires to consider. I don’t mean to say that BC has never had them — far from it, BC is one of many places that is a fire ecology, and colonial ideas that ignore First Nations wisdom about our history of wildfires has not helped those matters. Now, we are starting to listen — just in time for the fires to be worsened by another monster, a bigger one than colonialism: climate change.

I am watching this monster change the landscape of the place I was born to, the place I wish to die in, at the end of a very long life. This monster, aided in no small part by capitalism, which is doing its own renovations to the land, is burning BC in the summers and freezing it in the winters. Our winters are colder and snowier than usual. Our summers are getting hotter. 

Cold and snowy winters — in southern BC, at least, even with climate change making them worse — are manageable. We have blankets and sweaters, and heaters in our cars and houses. Even without the heat turned on in our house, this past winter was survivable. Up north, it gets colder, of course, but even then — manageable. 

Heat is another story. Especially in a province where most people don’t have AC, or a built-up tolerance for long heat waves.

Our summers are getting hotter, and for longer. Normally, southern BC’s June is called Junuary, and sometimes July is Julember. August is truly our hot month, bleeding into September. By the end of the first month back at school, we’re into fall weather.

Or we used to be. Now the weather is anybody’s guess from year to year. But one thing is pretty clear: we’re getting hotter. 

I’m supposed to be preparing for a Loafmass spent at my mom’s place in Powell River, but all I can think is that driving up there this weekend is going to be absolute hell, because the ferries don’t run at night and I’m going to be stuck in my car in a heat wave. All I can think is that we were foolish when we decided winter was the dead time, because I feel more alive when I can put on a sweater and drink some hot cocoa while watching the snow fall outside than I do in a heat wave like this. I may as well be roadkill cooking on the asphalt.

All I can think is that I want to sleep, all the time, and my higher brain functions are on the fritz because it’s too damn hot. All I can think is that I’m stickier than a glazed donut and I don’t want to be doing any ritual right now. 

I love my gods and I want to do these rituals — to honor them, to have a reciprocal relationship, to give to them as they give to me, to be in the presence of the beloved — but it is so hard right now.

It is hard to exist in this heat and think of how much I love the gods that keep the universe ticking on, because all I want to say to them is “Hey could you cool it down a bit, for fuck’s sake? Where’s the rain, Dad?” 

But of course, it doesn’t work like that. They are both what keeps the universe ticking on and not; they are both the infinite powers behind everything, and separate from them, the children of beings too vast for the human mind to contemplate. Solely representative of powers greater than we can grasp, and at the same time, wholly what they are representing. But I can’t ask them to just turn on the water when it’s hot. It doesn’t work that way.

I honor them for keeping the universe ticking on, but that doesn’t make them omnipotent. The universe, and all the beings that inhabit it, will keep on doing what it pleases. Interventions, divine or otherwise, won’t necessarily make a damn difference.

So I keep praying for rain, and use whatever vestiges of my heart and soul that haven’t been cooked to a crisp to love them, as much as I can.

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Supermarket Magic Review Part 3: Return of the Bitter, Angry Morag

Oh gods I hope it’s almost over.

Accessible? If you have limitless time and energy

This isn’t a comment on any one chapter. It’s a comment on all of them.

He states at the beginning his goal was to make magic more accessible with this book. He did…for able-bodied suburbanites without money issues. In fact this book should probably be called Supermarket Magic For Suburbanites In Good Health and With No Money Troubles.

A good chunk of the recipes are pretty good, and fairly easy to create. The rest, however, aren’t accessible if you’re low on time, energy, or even money.

Not to mention, at least twice I had to search on the internet to figure out what something was in a recipe. I don’t know about you, but “chervil” and “bulgur” are not on my usual shopping lists. He could have put “French parsley” and “a type of whole grain from different wheats” in parentheses after these things, but he didn’t — leaving it up to the reader to figure it out themselves.

That’s not really accessible.

His recipes for oils all require you to cook them on the stovetop. Even the vinegar recipe requires cooking on the stovetop. He never mentions cold infusion techniques as an alternative for people who might not have the time to cook their oils, or maybe might not have a stove? Or can’t use one safely?

The book assumes you have your own place and the luxury of doing all this witchcraft whenever, wherever, with the “basic” resources that come with having an actual home. He gives lip service to the idea of living with people not aware of your magic, but doesn’t really give alternatives (aside from “just tell them you’re making a culinary oil!”).

He continually harps on the REAL, WHOLE FOODS bullshit horn, to the point of telling you to squeeze the juice from half a lemon over a sieve into your brew — because apparently the pure lemon juice in a bottle you can pick up isn’t good enough? (But then other recipes call for “lemon juice” so apparently you need to have both whole lemons and lemon juice on hand to be ready for any of these recipes, because who knows what will be called for! He certainly won’t give you the alternative measurement and I’m sorry, I picked up this book for one-stop recipes, I shouldn’t have to google “How much lemon juice is in one half a lemon?” to do a “simple” brew.)

All the food recipes call for you to make everything from scratch using whole, fresh foods. No frozen veggies or fruits; no pre-packaged anything. Spend several hours of your day making this from the ground up. The one bread recipe that I saw requires, of course, you to make the bread by hand. Which, hey, I personally wanna get into that, but an alternative for bread machines would have been nice. (Wait, let me guess, he probably believes that bread machines won’t make “real” bread.)

One recipe calls for saffron. He admits this is super expensive, but includes the recipe anyway. Saffron is not accessible. It’s not even sold in all grocery stores. You can get it here if you PUT A SECOND MORTGAGE ON YOUR HOUSE (assuming you’re lucky enough to have one!).

A spell calls for you to sew a poppet and then set it on fire. He says you should do this spell outdoors or “in the garage” because of the smoke. How many assumptions can we spot?

  • That the person can sew — a HUGE assumption these days. I sew, and many people look at me like I’m a witch when I say that. Which, ok, I am, but you know what I mean.
  • That the person can afford fabric or to cut up a piece of clothing. Also a big assumption.
  • That the person has access to a safe outdoor spell-casting spot or a fucking garage (sorry, is my bitterness as a Vancouverite bleeding through?) in which they can SET FIRE to the poppet that they just spent a while making with fabric that cost either money or old clothes.

This same spell calls for a whole nutmeg. Nutmeg is not the cheapest of spices — pre-ground it’s something like 5 dollars an oz. Whole it’s slightly cheaper — about four dollars for 1 oz, and you can get that down if you buy more than 1 oz. But still, not the cheapest, and not the most common. I’m fairly certain the grocery store near us doesn’t carry whole nutmeg and honestly, I’m not sure when I saw it in any store last.

Not to mention, if you’re buying it for witchcraft it mostly makes more sense to get it pre-ground because the vast majority of these recipe calls for it ground.

So the fact that this spell calls for a whole nutmeg (and doesn’t say “Or this much ground nutmeg” at all) PLUS setting fire to a poppet? Say it with me, kids: NOT ACCESSIBLE.

Honestly, in any other book, I’d be like, “Ok, cool spell, won’t be doing it till I own my own place.” In a book that’s supposed to be all about making witchcraft accessible? What the actual fuck?

In this same chapter on money spells (yes, the “BURN YOUR POPPET” spell was a money one) he has a spell called “It Takes Money to Make Money Spell” that calls for “the highest denomination of paper money you have (a hundred dollar bill is excellent, if possible)”. Now, normally I wouldn’t harp on this at all…except at the beginning of the chapter he goes on this big rant about how money itself is inherently worthless which means we can’t actually draw money energy to us, and instead need to focus on what money gives us (security, food, meds, etc).

So…if money “has no endemic power” then why do I need money for this spell?

Also who the fuck has paper money these days? Certainly not me. The lowest denom of paper money in Canada is a 5 dollar bill and I’m lucky if I have one of those, and when I do it often gets spent pretty quickly.

Later, in the divination/psychic ability chapter, he gives you a recipe to make your own pendulum…using a hazelnut and thread. He mentions that it might be difficult to punch a hole through the nut and you might have to go through several.

The reasoning for using a hazelnut is because of their traditional connection to wisdom (see: Celtic shit), but seriously…there are so many easier ways to make a pendulum and they will all work. I literally once made a pendulum while I was in class using a string of paperclips and an eraser and it worked FINE.

This is the fanciest recipe for a pendulum I have ever seen and it’s just not necessary. Or accessible.

The divination chapter also has this weird thing where he’ll give you a a way to divine and tell you that you need to find your own meaning in the symbols, but then say that consulting a book on tea-leaf reading could be helpful. When you’re not doing tea-leaf reading at all, you’re doing divination with wax and powder or the yolk of an egg in water. I’m pretty sure you can’t just map on the meanings from tea-leaf reading to literally any other divination system, but then again I don’t know that much about tea leaf reading. It seemed weird though.

Finally, another couple of MAJOR ways these recipes are not accessible? Complete lack of correspondences and alternatives.

He gives you recipes with certain ingredients, but doesn’t tell you the *why* of each ingredient except in a very few cases. He also never gives alternatives/substitutions.

So you’re given a recipe that apparently is good for luck, but obviously, some of these ingredients are going to have different associations that work well together — otherwise the recipe would just be one thing. But say you’re allergic to one of them — well, without knowing the actual magic abilities of that ingredient, how do you know what to sub in instead?

This is especially egregious in the food sections of each chapter — he mentions allergies in passing, but never really does more than that. He just expects you to figure out this shit by yourself. Which again, defeats the stated purpose of “This book is going to make magic accessible!”

There are a few recipes in this book that I cannot have because of allergies, sensitivities, or I just hate that particular ingredient. I have no idea if I could successfully sub things out unless I spend the time looking up the correspondences in my other books.

That doesn’t make this book accessible for me; it makes it more work than if I did nothing from it at all. And for someone who isn’t as lucky as I am to have built up a large library of witchcraft books, including multiple ones with food and supermarket goods correspondences in them? It would be impossible.

No, Really, All Witches Are One Witch

The last chapter is called “Miscellany” and the second-to-last chapter is “Sabbats and Esbats” — so you can already guess where we’re headed!

Did you know ALL witches celebrate the Sabbats and Esbats? And that ALL witches see Samhain as the new year?

You didn’t know that? Well that’s because IT’S NOT FUCKING TRUE.

Pardon my yelling and cursing, though if you’ve gotten this far in this 3-part review you obviously don’t mind it that much. I am very frustrated by this book.

Even reading this chapter as a witch who does celebrate the eight holidays often called Sabbats, this chapter was frustrating — though, to be fair, not as frustrating as other parts of the book. In point form, the problems with it:

  • “People nowadays have no idea of the TRUE significance of Halloween!” — anytime someone starts talking about the ~TRUE~ significance of a modern holiday in regards to an ancient, pre-Christian festival that occurred around the same time, that’s a red flag.
  • What a thick coat of Wiccish this chapter has!
  • Samhain is all about the Crone Goddess! (See above, re: Wiccishness.) Though at least he doesn’t say Hekate is a good example. Points for that, I guess.
  • There’s a spell for planting seeds of magic. No mention of making sure that the seeds you choose to grow and then transplant to your garden are safe to use in your area.
  • I’m probably nitpicking at this point.
  • I don’t care. I’m tired and this book has made me so angry.
  • Heteronormative ‘Beltaine is for “the God” and “the Goddess” to fuck’ BS.
  • A spell for Beltaine calls for you to hop over a plant while riding a broom. No alternative given for those of us who cannot physically manage that.
  • Ok there’s a lot of “the goddess” and “the god” in this chapter.
  • …including a spell where you say “My loyalty and heart you have always and forever / My devotion is eternal, ceasing never” to said goddess and god. Yeah, that’s totally something you wanna say to two nameless and generic deities! BIND YOURSELF FOR ALL ETERNITY TO THESE POWERS is totally something that should be in a 101 book.
  • Lunar = “the goddess” in the Esbats section. To his credit, however, he does caveat his practices with “in my tradition”.
  • Infinity of Solution full moon spell to resolve something with everyone being happy. Nice thought; see my comments on the Infinity of Solution earlier in this review.

That said, the chapter isn’t all bad. A lot of the recipes look pretty awesome, and he doesn’t really fall into the trap of “OMG THE CHRISTIANS STOLE OUR SHIT”.

The final chapter is Miscellany and finally we get some correspondences! Except they’re not the kind I want for this. The correspondences listed are astrological, planetary, and elemental. Useful, but also something I can get from one of my other books that also tells me the uses of each herb/food.

Oh wait, I’m wrong; there were correspondences at the beginning too — for days of the week and meanings of colours. Again — not what’s really needed for this book.

Finally, I have to note something about this entire book: Furie’s tone is super paternalistic. He constantly goes on “rants” (ho buddy, you have not SEEN a rant if that’s what you think they are) about his shitty opinions, and those opinions always come across as “I know better because I’m older and wiser, so just trust me when I say I’m right.”

After reading this tone for the entire book, it became very hard for me to give him points where they were deserved, because I felt like I was being lectured by an older man who didn’t know the first fucking thing about me, and moreover didn’t care.

In Conclusion

If you’re going to buy ONE book to aid you in your kitchen/domestic/hearth/house witchery, don’t buy this one. Get the infinitely better Mrs. B’s Guide to Household Witchery (my review here), or A Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook by Telesco, or even Cottage Witchery by Ellen Dugan which I actually haven’t read but I can tell you it’s better than this book.

(Since writing this review I have started reading it and it’s been like a balm to my angry mind — while Dugan does do some of the same things Furie does in his book, I don’t care because her tone comes across as a kind aunt who’s offered you a cup of tea and is listening to you spill about your problems, and after she’s going to invite you to help her weed her garden so you can really rip those plants out and get out your anger, and her house smells so nice and you could stay there forever. So what if she does the “all witches” thing? This tea is fucking excellent.)

If, however, you want to add to your library, have money to burn, and are curious about the recipes that I say are actually interesting or good — go for it.

(The links to these books on Amazon are affiliate links, by the way; you don’t get charged extra, but if you buy anything I make a little bit of money.)

I’m not going to burn my copy or throw it out anytime soon. I don’t really regret getting it, though if I’d paid my own money for it I might. (It was a gift from my mom. I picked it out; she paid.)

There are several recipes that look useful that I want to try. It’s not a complete loss. So if you want it for those recipes and don’t mind owning a mostly bad book to glean the good out of it, go ahead, and just…skip large chunks of it. And keep the whiskey handy.

Rating: 1 out of 5 broomsticks.

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