Monday, June 7, 2021

Springtime Growth

A long time dream made manifest.
 
The group that I have created here in Western Massachusetts has finally started to gain some traction.  We have a core group of about eight people who regularly participate in our events in some way, as well as a few people who are very interested and keep in touch, but who have not yet been able to make it to an event for various reasons.  As it turns out, a lot of our members are centered around a town about an hour south of me, so now that we are able to meet in person, I'm alternating our locations between my home area and those towns, and I think it's working out pretty well.  The really exciting part, though, is that we have a number of people who now gather at each other's homes! (We just require that we meet people in person and have a chance to get to know them before they join us.)  So far, we've only met here at the farm, but others have expressed that they are open to hosting events.

This spot in the woods has been a long-time dream of mine, and I'm just thrilled to have been able to manifest it! The altar was completed this past Saturday, with the help of some of  my friends from the group!  It took five of us around six hours. The stones and wood all came from our land. The lumber is pine that we milled here at home, and the stones were pulled from old stone walls around the property. It looks cockeyed in the picture, but it's just about perfectly level.  it looks the way it does, because it's built on a hill.  (It looks even weirder in person!)  Once the temperatures drop to less awful levels later this week, I'll go and oil the table top.  I also have a candle holder I'm currently working on.

He had to re-teach me (and in some cases teach me) how to use some of our power tools, and of course, I needed his muscle for some tasks, but I designed the tabletop, the candle holder, and a tray that we made to go with it, as well. I have been very hands on through the whole process.  

This altar is for the community I'm trying to create.  Each of our members is free to come and use it as they need to. My only requirement is that one or both of us be home when they do. (Can't be too careful, from a safety perspective!)  We are blessing it at Litha.

It took a while to get to this point, and as always is the case, things can change, but so far, everyone is happy and having a good time.  I don't know where this journey will lead, but we are taking it together, and hopefully, we'll have lots of fun along the way!
**

In addition to the outings, we are planning classes and series, some of them in collaboration with my group back in West Virginia.  Our first such class will be on July 11, online.  It's a class I've been looking forward to for a very long time.  The friend who is teaching it has a very interesting approach to the subject matter, and I'm so excited!

Other than that, there are a few members of my group here who want to teach (myself included.)  I have a little studying to do before I can put mine together, so that won't be terribly soon, but we also have someone who wants to teach an herbalism class, someone who wants to teach Tarot, and someone who is willing to teach a Reiki 101--very introductory--class.  He teaches people and can elevate them, so this will give people a chance to see if they are interested. We also have a couple of possible field trips in the works.  Should be a good year!
**

On the personal front, I'm making my second attempt at going through the program with Temple of Witchcraft.  I had a lot of things that interfered with my process the last time, and I'm grateful they have allowed me to make another attempt.  It's going much more smoothly this time. My goal is to complete seminary with them, but we will see how that goes.  It's a fairly long process.  I really like their system and the people involved.  I find the system to be very elegant, and it feels right for me.

I am also still mulling writing a magical memoir, and I think I have enough poetry to compile a prayer book.  At this time, I'm compiling my notes and looking for the thread of my story.  My writing process is incredibly slow, unfortunately, and my focus shifts between the writing and other creative pursuits.  I also have a shit ton of material to comb through.  Regardless of whether I ultimately publish my material, it will be a fun project!
**

I hope that you all had a wonderful Beltane and are enjoying your Spring!  I will be back with more updates very soon!  

Blessed be!

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Imbolc: Life Returns to the Land

Icicles outside my kitchen!

(Yes.  I realize this is a couple of weeks late!  Things have been busy!)

This is one of my favorite times of the year. Everything is frozen in time and place, yet at the same time, the energy feels expansive. Every day, there is more and more sound in the forest.  New birds add their voices to the chorus, and the music builds.  Everyone is making plans and stretching their faces toward the warming Sun.

I seen signs of life on and under the snow.  Every day, there are new animal tracks, and I'm seeing burrows through the snow.  Critters are venturing out.  There's a smell--a hint of the plant life that will soon burst forth.

...And yet, we're not done with the snow here in Massachusetts.  We generally get a shower or flurries a few times a week.  There are around 4" of snow on the ground, a build up which started back in January.  It melts a little each day, but it's still there.  I fully expect that we will get at least one more good snow.

We haven't gotten the hang of gardening here yet.  We're not planning in earnest yet, but our thoughts have definitely been moving to the garden.  I have a bed outside the kitchen that needs to be rebuilt, and I'm planning to grow my herbs there.  I'm planning to plant sage atop a stone wall that runs along the driveway.

Spirit activity is picking up, too, as if they are also coming out of hibernation.  The forest is feeling more alive and expansive.  Things are definitely stirring.

As for myself, I am working on getting organized, and I'm creating and planning for my online shops.  I'm also planning for my Meetup.  We've been getting together, but I'm starting to put together plans for upcoming discussions.  I'm hopeful that the virus will start to wind down, that restrictions will start to lift, and that it will be safe to gather soon.  It will be nice to be able to get together with people outside again.  We both want to host things here on the farm.

I love this time of year, because it is expansive.  To me, Imbolc is like opening a brand new journal or sketch book.  What story will we write this year?  What will we draw into existence? What will we manifest in the great, white expanse before us?

Blessed be.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Witching in the Age of COVID

Photo by Natalia Lopes on Unsplash

Witching during COVID has been a challenge, for sure.  I picked a heck of a time to start a group, but who knew? We have online Meetups most of the time, but I did host an in person Lammas ritual.  It was a very small turnout, but it was very nice, and everyone seemed happy. One person has since joined the group!  (The other was already a member.)  I have my eye on another member as a potential co-organizer, but they've had some difficulties lately, so I'm going to hold off on asking if they are interested.  It's not that the group is large, active, and overwhelming. It's more that I like having someone with whom to bounce ideas around.  They helped me write the Lammas ritual, for example.

The in person gathering was socially distant, and masks were required.  It was not quite the same, but we were also outdoors, which further minimized our risk.  Massachusetts has since scaled back our reopening, so I'm not sure if Mabon will be in person or not.  I would like for it to be. By the time it rolls around, I will have a better idea of how we are doing at controlling the virus.  I listen to most of the governor's updates.  As much as I want to start acually seeing people, it's more important to be safe,and as a group organizer, I am responsible for the safety of our  membes.

Restaurants are open for outdoor dining and carryout, but I'm personally not ready to go back to restaurants.  I may suggest it as things start to loosen back up here, but frankly, the idea of sitting around a table in a parking lot with masks on in Summer is not very appealing. While attendance to my online Meetups has been low, I faithfully open up the chat room every two weeks at the appointed time. Sometimes, my friends from my group down south will pop on the calls, and that's always fun.  My bestie from WV has now met my bestie from MA and her husband, and they really hit it off, so that's fun, and I feel supported during a time when it's difficult to get any kind of a group going.

As for my personal practice, I find I've been having a lot of great conversations and doing some unofficial, informal mentoring, which is always very fulflling.  I even have a class that I want to create and teach.  More on that once I've figured out when I'm going to do this.  It's on a subject in which I am definitely not an expert, but which interests me greatly.  It'll be fun!  All I will say is that it has to do with sustainability.

I'm not keeping a very rigid schedule right now, because I've been sick for a big part of the Summer.  I simply have not had the mental energy to focus.  Everything has been very taxing for me this Summer, both physically and mentally.  I did reach out to a mystery school which I'm interested in attending and asked to be alerted to when they are taking applications.  I tried the program once before, but due to my schedule, I had to drop out of the program.  Now that things are not as hectic, I'm going to try again.  It's a program I like a whole lot, and beyond their foundational programs, they have seminary, and I've wanted to become ordained for years.  (Would rather do it that way than by simply going to a website.)  

I did start my Witchy business, which you can see as a page attached to this blog (link below the main banner,) but so far, I have not had any interest.  In fairness, I have not really promoted it, though I have mentioned it to a few people.

Most of all, I find myself sitting with gratitude each and every day.  Gratitude for my amazing home, gratitude for the family I'm making with my fiance, gratitude for new opportunities for growth.  We live in a beautiful, beautiful place, and we have the honor of being forest guardians.  We are even looking into making our land a wildlife protection area!  The land is already protected, and we've created a plan for creating bird habitats, so it's only right to protect other critters, as well.  Yesterday, we had a brief visit from a bear!  (We were safe inside, and he/she stayed up in the woods.)

I hope you all have a lovely rest of your Summer!  Blessed be!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

I Did a Thing: Nightsmoke Enchantments and Pioneer Valley Pagans



I have done, as they say, A Thing. After successfully working with a few clients back in West Virginia, I have decided to offer my services as a reader and consultant.  For now, you can read an overview here. I also have an Etsy shop by the same name here.

I have been practicing for nearly 30 years, but truth be told, had not had the confidence to offer my skills to anyone until last year.  As I worked with my clients, I realized that there is, indeed, a there  there. It is quite fulfilling to see the work I have been doing for myself all of these years having an impact in the lives of other people, and it gives me a reason to keep my skills fresh, beyond waiting for The Next Big Cause (though there are so very many!)

I have also set up a Meetup for Pagans and Witches in my area.  I am a member of several up here in Massachusetts; however, they are all an hour or more away, and as much as I'd like to visit and participate with those groups, I can't really handle driving long distances anymore.  The lockdown has had a huge impact on my ability to get my group up and running, but there is interest.  I've been setting up online events, and I'm looking forward to meeting more of our members that way, and then in person once our state opens back up. I've already made a couple of friends that way.

These were both huge steps for me, because, unlike with Candle and Crow, I am on my own up here.  I'm actually a very shy person, so putting myself out there with both of these projects is really stretching me.  I wouldn't change a thing, though!

I hope you all have a wonderful Spring!  My forsythia is finally blooming, and my apple and peach trees are starting to bud!  The woods are also coming to life, and I'm loving it!

Monday, January 27, 2020

"Fluffy Bunnies?" You're Doin' it Wrong!

Photo by Krystal Ng on Unsplash

 This is a charge leveled at Wiccans quite a lot, I find, and I think it's stupid.  I have been Wiccan for a very long time.  Over the years, I've only run into a handful of people who could be classified as "fluffy bunnies," and guess what?  Such people rarely last long.  What I mean by that is you don't tend to see them in the Pagan scene for very long. This is a logical outcome, to me.

If you are someone who chooses to only see light and sparkles and who chooses to only "walk in the light" while denying or ignoring the darker aspects of the Universe, then IMO, you are doing it wrong.  Being effective at anything requires balance.  Balance in word, balance in deed, and balance in knowledge.  If you have only ever learned how to be good, sweet, not make trouble, , always be nice, etc, etc, etc,  you are putting yourself in a very dangerous position. In order to protect yourself from the dark, you need to be able to see the dark.

People tend to take the Wiccan Rede at face value and not look more deeply into it.  In fact, there are many, many people who don't know the entire Rede and think the simple, two-line poem with which most of us are familiar is all there is to it.  In fact, it is far more nuanced than that. It takes a lot of time and a lot of personal reflection to really delve into it and fully understand what the words truly mean.  Does it mean what it says?  Of course it does; however, what the Rede is really about (in my own experience) is checking in with yourself and making sure you are making the most ethical decision you can in each and every instance, in each and every situation.

I have chosen the path of justice and of right action.  In every situation, I try to act from a  place of high ethics.  That does not mean that I don't get my hands dirty or wander in scary places.  I'm familiar with those places, though.  I came to Wicca, and to my current attitude, from a much darker place. Information on so-called "black magic" (My feelings about that term are for another day and another post!) is far more accessible to the general public than information on Wicca is (Well, not so much now, but back when I started on my path, that was the case.)  I started studying the Occult when I was very young.  I started experimenting long before I knew what Wicca was.  I have studied some things that gave me nightmares! 

That said, I feel that that is exactly what allowed me to choose the path I am on now, and I also feel that the knowledge I picked up through that course of study has made me a better, stronger Witch.  I know what is possible.  I know what can be thrown at me and those I love...and I know how to protect myself against it.  I am also able to make better decisions in building spells that will be effective.  Let's face it:  While smudging is a great practice, some problems cannot be solved by waving a sage wand and throwing glitter at them.  ;)

"But, Jen!  You just said...." Yes.  I said that I have chosen a path of Light. Indeed, I have, but that light is not always white.  Sometimes it's a little gray.  Goodness comes from intent.  Clear intent comes from checking in with yourself, looking at your options,  choosing from all of the tools we have available, and checking our chosen option(s) against our personal ethical system.

So don't be a "fluffy bunny."  Read.  Study.  Learn things.  Get your hands dirty.  Spill a little blood (preferably not literally.)  Taste the sweet and the bitter. Walk in the dark.  Scare yourself.  Then come back to the path that you have chosen-whatever that may be.

We do no one any good if we approach our magic only partially informed.

Blessed be!

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Quick Links-I've Been Featured!

MM, all.

We are all settled up in MA now.  We've been here for about a month, and things are settling into new routines, as they often do.  I will make a more thorough update later.

I stopped by today to share a link to a very short interview with me on another blog, Thoughts of an Author.  One typo I want to point out is that at one point in my response, I used the word, "problem," where I meant to use the word, "people."  Oops!  It happens!

You can see the post here.

Blessings!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

The Witch Goes North!

Bernardston, MA

We are moving!  On Tuesday, November 5, we will be closing on our house in WV and hitting the road for MA.  On Thursday, November 7, we will be closing on the farm pictured here!  It's 60 acres total, 58 of it under Chapter 61 protection--which we intend to renew once we get there!

We've been homesteading (suburban style, really) on our 5-acre property in WV.  The open portion of our property is about the same--around 3 acres--so farming it will not be any different.  We do plan to make the garden larger, for sure, and probably set up a 2nd garden plot for things like berries.  There are several apple trees on the property, which we will also be cultivating.  As for the woods, it will be a deep honor to simply be their protectors.  We will hike and probably even camp on our land, but mainly, we will sleep well every night, knowing that this beautiful green space is safe from exploitation.  Under Ch61, we will be able to sell timber contracts, if we want, but neither of us want that.

My partner is buying a portable sawmill. We will try to create our lumber only as needed and from fallen or dying trees.  We may try a forest garden, as well.  The possibilities are endless.

There is a small structure, next to the garage/guest apartment and tucked away under the carport, which I will be making into my Temple.  It's a long, narrow space, so I will likely keep my books in the main house and bring out only what I need.

I will also be claiming the outhouse (long defunct) for growing cannabis (it's legal up there.)  I need to clean it up, cover up the hole, and add the lighting and heat sources, etc. that I need, so I probably won't start actually growing until Spring or Summer.  Why the outhouse?  Because it's a really nice one, and we don't have another use for it.  It's just enough space for a few plants and the equipment.

Finally, my studio and office space will be in the open part of the upper floor.  It's a pretty large space, so everything will fit--including the cats!  ;)

This move has been almost a year in the making.  We put our house on the market in WV back in March, and it finally sold last month.  We're now in the process of packing everything up.  Our pets will be picked up by transport on Samhain.  Our cars probably on the 4th, and I believe the movers are coming on the 3rd.  It's crazy, but it's a very exciting adventure!

My next task, as a Witch, will be to find community up there.  I'm already on a couple of Meetups, but most of them are not active at all. All I can do is try, and ultimately, I could try starting my own group, like my friend and I did here.  We'll see what happens!

Blessed Samhain!

Springtime Growth

A long time dream made manifest.   The group that I have created here in Western Massachusetts has finally started to gain some traction.  W...