Sunday, December 26, 2010

Good Wishes to All!

Good afternoon, Dear Readers!  I'm emerging from a leftover-turkey-induced coma to wish you all a happy holiday season.  Whatever you celebrate at this time of the year, I hope it has been/is/will be full of joy and good cheer! 

Have a fun (and safe) secular New Year!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Giveaways and Milestone Post

Posting a second time today for two important events!

First of all, my friend Magaly is having two giveaways:  A Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook and an illustrated bible.  Check out Pagan Culture to win!

Secondly, I didn't realize it, but the Holiday Update entry I posted earlier today was my 100th post!  Yay for me!

Holiday Update

I had a long talk with DH last Friday night, and I managed to convince him that we really had had enough of being unreasonably cold for this year.  The result--we're not going camping over Yule.  That being decided, we went on to talk about decorating issues.

Are we not in the holiday spirit because we haven't decorated, or have we not decorated because we're not in the holiday spirits?  This was the question.  We decided to start finding the answer by forcing ourselves to make plans for a Longest Night celebration (a concept stolen from Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Dart series).  Here is our list:

1.  Dinner (We'll spend the day cooking a grand feast for two.)
2.  A trip down to Niagara Falls, to enjoy their holiday lights.
3.  Ritual baths.
4.  Yule Ritual
5.  A trip out to our very own "dark spot" to (weather permitting) gaze at Yule constellations and, of course, the lunar eclipse.
6.  Back home to greet the dawn.
7.  A celebratory breakfast, with mimosas and Mexican pancakees  (largely prepared the day before)

After making this grand plan, we decided to deck the halls after all.  We're still not hanging fairy lights, but we've got the tree upstairs and the wreaths hung, and we'll finish the decorating tonight, including the ritual room and the altar.  (I'll try to remember to post pics.)

Now I'm just hoping I can stay awake for everything!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Holiday Blahs

Sorry I haven't written in a while, but I've had fairly little to write about.  Unless you count being cold, cold, cold after our furnace went out and the subsequent replacement of said furnace.  Not really interesting stuff.

I was talking to my mother yesterday, and she has about a gazillion activities planned for the next couple of weeks.  Me?  I don't have a one.  Nor am I upset about that--I just can't seem to get into the holiday spirit this year.  (I think it was the whole furnace problem that really put a damper on things, and maybe feeling down for US Thanksgiving started it.)

At any rate, we haven't decorated, not at all.  We haven't put the tree up or made our library-turned-ritual-room seasonally appropriate or put the wreaths up.  We certainly haven't put up holiday lights.  Even our altar sits bare and unadorned.  And with every day that passes, the very idea of doing any of it grows more futile.

We're playing with the idea of camping for Yule.  I'm really wondering about it after being cold all last week, but DH is really excited by the notion.  If we do, it means we won't have not-decorated the house in vain--we won't be here to have enjoyed the decorations anyway!

That thought actually does cheer me!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!!!

We got our first snowfall here in Southern Ontario today!  It's not much, and it's too warm for it to stick, but I'm still happy and cheerful about it. 

That first snowfall always puts me in a good mood--comes from growing up without it, I suppose.  I was eighteen before I saw my first real snow--12 inches that lasted all of a day and a half before it melted!  Before that, I'd seen an inch or so just twice in the South Texas town where I grew up, both times falling overnight and melting by noon the next day.  Over the next few years I lived in Austin, Texas, and I saw it again only a handful of times, none of it lasting for more than a day or two. And there was the one glorious time when I vacationed in New Mexico over the winter holidays--when we got to an area in the mountains with 2-3 feet of snow on the ground, I got out of the car and literally cried at the beauty of it.

We didn't get much snow in the Lower Mainland when we lived in BC, either, although the year it fell on Christmas' Eve was truly magickal.  Other than that, one year it snowed for almost two weeks straight--a heavy, wet snow that made it almost impossible to lift a full snow-shovel.  (Those more savvy than I informed me that it was too wet to be "proper" snow.)  But living there, we could drive to real snow--the Coast Mountains are just over an hour's drive away, and the "Ski Hills" are just outside of town.  They're called "hills" because they're so low--the lowest, Grouse Mountain, has an altitude of only 853 meters (2,800 feet.)  With places like the world class Whistler Ski Resort nearby (2182 m (7160') and 2240 m (7347'), respectively, that's LOW.)  Still, there's plenty of snow on those "hills"--it's where I first cross-country skied, where I learned about snow-tubes and toboggans, where the locals go for a quick afternoon's or evening's skiing.  It's not the same as looking out your window and seeing it fall, though.

Silicon Valley, California, was another place we didn't see a lot of snow.  None, to be exact.

And then we moved here, to Ontario.  I saw my first white Christmas here.  For 4-6 months out of the year I can look out my window on any given day and see snow on the ground, if not actually falling.  I can go out cross country skiing or snow shoeing any weekend I want to do so (and since I've been feeling better we might even be able to actually do it this year).  We even bought our own snowshoes about three years ago!

So the locals, who did grow up with it, tend to groan when it snows, but I cheer.  (Okay, if it's still snowing in May I may get a bit grumpy with it, but for a long, long while I love it.)

I don't even really mind shoveling it, that's how much I love it!

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Thanksgiving That's Not Really Mine Anymore

If you think I'm a day late posting this, then you don't really understand US Thanksgiving.  It officially happens on the 4th Thursday of November, but it's really a lot bigger than that!

It generally starts on the Wednesday before, when most students, from kindergarten to University, and lots of employees get off at noon in order to get to family by the next day.  Lots of people take the entire Wednesday off, in order to get an extra day of travel time.  It continues, of course, on Thursday, when most of the cooking, all the eating, and a lot of the football watching happens.  Then there's Black Friday.  And yes, most Americans, save those working in retail or essential services, get those two-and-a-half days off.  On Saturday, it's time to start saying goodbye to family as they start to make their way back across the country to their homes.  Or maybe it's time to put up the winter holiday decorations, especially the tree.  On Sunday it's definitely time to say goodbye to the last of your guests, and by Sunday evening everything is pretty much back to normal, except for the leftovers, and the newly-hung decorations.

So, you see, it's perfectly legitimate to be writing about US Thanksgiving today.

When we first moved to Canada, to British Columbia, we celebrated  both the Canadian and the American versions of the holiday.  And many years we traveled to see family in distant states for the US version.  But since we've moved back to Canada (Ontario, this time),  and especially since we've gotten our Permanent Residence status and have made the decision to apply for Canadian citizenship, we haven't really tried.  Asking for those 2 1/2  days off gets old, especially when you're not in the holiday spirit because everyone around you celebrated the holiday weeks ago.  And I hadn't really missed it.  I think in a lot of ways it's easier not to think about it.

But today I have been thinking about it, and I've been down about it.  I'm not sure why, but this year I miss my family terribly, and I miss the huge hoopla that surrounds this 4th Thursday.  So much so that I've shed more than a few tears today.  I had big plans--finish a couple of lessons, finish a project for a friend that's way overdue, make sure Kai can pass all the Level 2 items that I know he knows.  But, instead, I cried, and felt down, and generally blah.

Maybe tonight I can forget it, this holiday I no longer consider mine.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Big Changes

Don't worry--there's nothing wrong with your screen!  In honor of this blog's 2nd anniversary today, I'm giving it a facelift, so it will change constantly throughout the day. 

Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Where the Boys Are 2010

Lance and Kai have a busy day planned, even though they don't know it yet.  They'll chill tonight while Mom and Dad are at Free Lecture Fridays at Dogs in the Park (If you're anywhere near Guelph, Ontario, check it out!), then tomorrow they'll go, go go!

On Saturday they'll have one of their periodic out & about exercises--they'll go for walks in places they don't know and they'll visit any retail store we can find that will allow them.  Some of the locations already planned are:

Rona Hardware
Bass Pro Shop
Terra Greenhouses
Second Cup Coffee (outside on the patio)
Oliver Pets
Hamilton/Burlington SPCA (Kai needs a license.)

If anybody knows of any others, please let us know.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Don't Blame the Messenger (or in this case the director)

I just watched a trailer for "Red Riding Hood", which looks like fun.  My post, however, is on the comments about it.  More than one person said they were going to pass on the movie because it is directed by the director of "Twilight", Catherine Hardwicke.

This leads me to wonder--did these commenters actually dislike the DIRECTION of "Twilight"?  Really?  With all else that was wrong with it, they noticed bad direction?  Or maybe they haven't read the source material.  (For a good introduction to that source material, head on over to a hilarious blog titled Reasoning With Vampires.)  I only thought the movie was bad until I read the books.  Boy, was I wrong!  Now, IMHO, I think they did a FABULOUS job on the movie.  Absolutely everyone who worked on it, from the actors to the payroll clerk to, yes, the director, did a great job with the material that was given to them.

You may be wondering why I saw the movie, or read the book(s!).  DH and I love vampires, and anything to do with them.  We had initially avoided the, ahem, literature (and I use that term VERY loosely) because it was aimed at kids, but once the first movie was released, we gave in and bought them.  Sigh.  We saw the movie before we started the books.  We were disappointed in the movie, but we already owned the books so we figured we might as well read them. 

Big mistake.  Big, big, BIG mistake.  Especially since both of us have trouble putting down books once we start them.  Or, as was the case here, series of books.  I realize I'm probably going to get flamed for this (actually, for the entire post), but I have read stories by 13-year-olds that are better written.  And I won't even get into bad (awful, horrible) role models or questionable scientific reasoning.  The writing is bad enough to stand all on its own.  And no, it's not a style thing or an audience-age thing--it's simply badly written.  From grammatical errors to badly written sentences to obscure words used simply to impress to factual contradictions, it's bad.

Not that I feel strongly about it or anything.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Still Blocked

As you can probably tell by how much I've slowed down in writing this blog, I'm continuing to have trouble with blocking.  I thought that making my Getting My Life in Order List would help, but it didn't.  I'm still stuck at the second item on the list:  learning to read tarot cards.  I don't think the list has been responsible, but I've gotten even worse.  I don't have the energy, the motivation, the willpower, or the even the desire to start things, and even if I do start them, I can't seem to finish them.  My problems with metal-poisoning-related fatigue made things worse, but they weren't the root cause.  And now that I'm feeling physically better, I'm noticing the psychological side of it more and more.  (I have looked into clinical depression, but I don't have any of the symptoms.)

In order to try and get out of my slump, I've started meditations on opening my chakras.  I feel as if they are ALL blocked, some of them more than others.  I've also, through a class I'm taking at The Magical Circle School, researched and found herbs that will help me work through this, in the form of incenses and bath herbs.  (Wood ruff, St. John's wort, cloves, and peppercorns to name a few.)  And this weekend, on the night of the full moon, I plan to cast a spell to help me further.

All of this seems to be helping, slowly.  It took an almost unimaginable amount of willpower to actually start the process, but bit by bit I seem to be improving.  I've turned in four assignments in three different classes this week, and finished the readings in another.  I've actually gotten out of bed before noon three times this week. 

Hopefully all THIS will do the trick.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

More Housekeeping

I'm sorry, Readers, but I've had to enable comment moderation on this blog.  It received its first spam comment a few days ago, which I deleted.  I hoped it was a one-time occurrence.  Then another spam comment appeared, which I also deleted.  While I was debating what distasteful step I wanted to take, the exact same spam which I had deleted a day or two was posted yet again.

I had the choice of limiting comments to registered users, which is annoying to me when I visit a blog to which I'm not actually subscribed, forcing word verification for comments, with which many people have trouble, or moderating comments, which will mean more attention from me.  I chose the third option as the least unpleasant one.

I sincerely hope this step doesn't discourage any valid comments.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

No Awards, Please

A friend gave me my first blogging awards yesterday, and although I'm very grateful to her for thinking of me, I have to refuse them.  I had no idea how much work they were!  I just don't know enough bloggers, I think.

As a result, I've decided to make this blog award-free, as so many of the bloggers I follow have done.    So please don't be offended--I appreciate the recognition, I really do.  I just don't have time to follow through on them.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I'm sorry I've yet again missed many days of posting, Dear Readers.  Life reared up its head and blogging went down in priorities for the last couple of weeks.  I hope you all had a Happy Halloween, a Blessed Samhain, or both.  (I'm bummed I missed posting everything I had planned for the holiday, but there's always next year.  :)  )

My own holiday went much better than last year.  DH and I are getting better at blending the two aspects, and hopefully will continue to improve.  We managed this year to combine honoring our ancestors and dearly departed with watching a couple of scary movies, and did justice to both, if I do say so myself.

On to Yule. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Blessed Samhain

I know a lot more about Samhain now than I did back in 1978.  The Wiccan/Neo-Pagan holiday, that is, not the ancient Celtic one, though I suspect they have much in common.  

On the surface, Halloween and Samhain have much in common --  the date, the colors (orange and black), the jack-o-lanterns, the ghosts about, and so on.  It makes sense, both having their roots in the Celtic Samhain.  But while secular Halloween involves scaring ourselves, and the Celts thought (and the Church would have you believe) that evil spirits roam the night and you must protect yourself against them by wearing masks and lighting candles in scary gourds, Pagan Samhain is much, much more.

The date is a significant one in the Wiccan Wheel of the Year-- it is considered the Wiccan New Year.  It is also one of the four Greater Sabbats, occurring across the Wheel from Beltane, on the midpoint between the Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice.  As a Greater Sabbat, it marks a significant change in the seasons.

Instead of fearing the dead, we Pagans often welcome lost loved ones, who can come close on this, one of two nights in the year when the Veil between our world and the spirit world is at its thinnest. (The other is at Beltane.)  We, too, light candles in gourds (most often pumpkins in North America), but these lights are not meant to scare away evil spirits, they are meant to guide our ancestors to our homes.  We decorate in black and hold Dumb Suppers.

Many of us also take this night to celebrate various gods and goddesses of death, again taking advantage of the thinness of the Veil.  Some believe that it is the first night of the Wild Hunt, as the Fey can also come across the Veil at this time.

 We decorate in black, also, to mark the coming of the death of the earth, which must happen before it comes to life again in the Spring.  In doing so, we celebrate darkness.  As such, it marks a time of rest and renewal, and many Pagans spend the time between Samhain and the Winter Solstice in meditation and reflection, preparing for the next year. 

But we also decorate in orange, for while this is a night to celebrate death and the dead, it is also the 3rd Harvest Festival, which marks the final harvest.  It is a time for feasting one last time before we batten down for Winter.  A time to celebrate the harvest--whether that harvest be crops or relationships or knowledge gained.  Or anything else that you have reaped in the past year.

We also, of course, dress in costumes, but that has more to do with secular fun than Samhain.  :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

And Now for More Serious Stuff . . .

Well, sort'a.  We're near to the middle of  the month, and the Domestic Witch's Halloween 2010 Blog Party,  so I've decided to switch from the fun, frivolous, fantastical holiday of Halloween to the biggest Witch holiday of the year, Samhain.  And I thought I'd begin the new topic by writing about our first experience with it, last year.

It wasn't the first time I'd heard the word.  I think the first time I heard it was in the 1978 "Halloween" movie, or maybe the novelization thereof.  You know, the one with Michael Myers and Jamie Lee Curtis?  If I remember correctly, the evil spirit of Samhain had possessed the innocent young Michael, or some such nonsense.  Not that it's not a GREAT movie--I just object to their ignorant use of the concept of Samhain.

Being entirely ignorant of Celtic or Wiccan holidays myself, that was the last I heard of it, until I became Wiccan myself, in January of 2009.  Learning about the new holidays that were now part of my life, I came to the chapter on Samhain--and was ecstatic!  Imagine, a religion that celebrated Halloween as much as I did!  How exciting!  How wonderful!

But, I didn't want to give up the Halloween angle, either.  So, last year, DH and I attempted to celebrate both.  Now, I'm told it can be done, and often is.  I plan to do it this year.  But last year, last year was a disaster.  Why?  I think because we are SO experienced at Halloween, it completely threw us to try and combine it with anything else, perhaps most with something so similar.  We ended up doing both badly, and were quite frustrated and unsatisfied, both from the festive side AND the spiritual side.

We learned from our mistakes, I hope.  And we've thought about it a lot, and planned a lot.  I'm confident that this year we can treat costumed children AND honor our ancestors, and do both well.

Wish us luck!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

M is for Massachusetts
ABC Wednesday

Well, I've been out for a week, so I'm behind on all the Halloween stuff I was going to post before moving on to Samhain!  At this point, it might just have to wait until next year!  But before I discuss more serious topics, I thought I'd mention, for my ABC Wednesday post this week, the Festival of the Dead in Salem, Massachusetts.

The Witches in Salem really know how to celebrate in style!  I've never been, but I've dreamt about doing so every year since I first heard about it.  They've turned their dark and sad history into a bright and glittering celebration, not to mention business.

Whatever you seek, they've got.  From the Psychic Faire and Witchcraft Expo to the Vampire's Masquerade Ball, from Ghost Hunting 101 to the Dumb Supper, there seems to be something there for everyone.  All leading up to the grand event, their crowning glory, The Official Salem Witches' Halloween Ball.

So if you get the chance, go!  (And don't forget to write and tell me about it!)  Or maybe some of you have already been?  What did you think?

Attending in my imagination . . .

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Who Can Forget the Costumes?

My The Domestic Witch's 2010 Halloween Blog Party entry for today is all about costumes.  Fun, silly, scary, serious or sexy, what would Halloween be without them?
Trick-or-treating, masquerade balls, costume parties, and costume contests--little princesses, goblins, pirates, cheerleaders, vampires, ninjas, and cowboys wandering up and down our streets, treat bags in hand, in the earlier hours of that special night.  Or their more sophisticated and sometimes sexier adult aspects which we see at parties, bars, and clubs throughout the week or so preceding the big night.  All of them are part of the magic.

I don't remember all of the costumes I've worn throughout the years, but a few of them stand out.  DH and I dressing as vampires and handing out sangria to parents out with their trick-or-treaters.  Going as the Christian devil while my DH went as the Christian god on Austin's famous (infamous) 6th Street.  Going as a ghost in a top-hat.  (It was the only way to keep the sheet from sliding.) 

There are others' costumes I remember, also.  The year a housemate went as a fairly elaborate Cleopatra.  My DH's boss' boss, who was about 6'2", dressed as Darth Vader, mask and all.  The little girl who came to the door as the Pink Power Ranger.

What was your most memorable costume?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

K is for Kitties 
(ABC Wednesday)

Black ones, that is.  A black cat, especially the arched-back silhouette variety, is one of the most easily recognized symbols of Halloween, which is my topic today for The Domestic Witch's 2010 Halloween Blog Party.

We all know the symbols of Halloween, if not the reasons behind them.  They definitely call up the season, and sometimes even give us a chill.  I'll talk about Halloween history later in the week, but for now let's just discuss the symbols themselves.

Black cats, witches' hats, and flying bats, to start.  Witches themselves, especially the ones flying broomsticks across a full moon. That same full moon behind a bare, gnarled tree.  Tombstones, ghosts, jack-o-lanterns and the pumpkins from which they are now carved.  Cauldrons, skeletons, and anything black and orange.  Severed limbs and scarecrows, cobwebs and dripping candlesticks.

The modern secular holiday is all about scaring ourselves, and these symbols all, at one time or another, did just that.  Today, I fear we're moving away from the classics towards signs that are more gross than eerie--bugs and slimy eyeballs and the like.

What images give you a bit of a fright? 

Friday, October 1, 2010

On the 1st Day of Halloween. . .

This post, late as it may be, is my first one for The Domestic Witch's 2010 Halloween Blog Party.  I'm going to attempt to post every weekday in October about Halloween/Samhain--the mundane, the magickal, and even the magical.  :)

Starting out, I thought I'd talk about the Halloween parties of my past.  This includes everything from the first one I threw to the biggest one I've ever thrown. 

The first one was at my mom's house when I was 13.  It was quite possibly the first Halloween party I ever attended.  (Nobody in the small Texas town where I grew up was as into Halloween as I was.)  It was certainly the first costume party to which I'd ever gone.  I still have some of those decorations, although they're more like mementos now, much too fragile to actually be used.

I continued to throw, and go to, Halloween parties all through my high school, university, and young adult days.  One memorable year I attended four different parties on October 31st.  The guests changed, as did the size of the guest list and the themes, but they all celebrated my favorite, favorite, favorite holiday. 

Then I met my DH, and to my delight he loves Halloween as much as I do.  We began throwing one every year.  We started small, with less than a dozen guests, in Cedar Park, Texas.  At our last one, in Vancouver, BC, we invited close to 200 people.  (I hope those of you who were there remember it as well as I do.)  By this time, we had more Halloween decorations than we'd ever need--and still do.  We've not gotten rid of any of them.

We were forced to move, to California, and were so unhappy the two Halloweens we were there we didn't even THINK about throwing a party.  (Although we did spend one Oct 31 in Death Valley, in costume.)  And for each of the five Octobers we've been in Ontario (2010 makes six), something or other has gotten in the way of having one.  We did seriously consider having a party this year, but life once again interfered, this time in the form of financial and health problems.

But there's always hope for next year.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Health Update

I received more information on my health problems earlier this week.  Still no definite word on whether I have Lyme Disease or not, but my bloodwork revealed other interesting/distressing/useful information.  Turns out that I have Heavy Metal Poisoning (Silver, mostly) which mimics LD and may be responsible for most or all of my symptoms.  This is combined with a very low amount of certain vitamins in my blood (D and B12) which help control heavy metal absorption.

The plan now is to treat the poisoning (with medication and natural supplements designed to  help release the metals) and then, if necessary, do further LD testing.  I'm going back in mid-December to see if the treatments are working before any decisions are made on how to proceed beyond that.

The big question is:  HOW DID I GET SILVER POISONING?  Sources of silver include consuming large quantities of seafood (I don't), working in metal and chemical processing industries, photographic processes, and jewelry making (I never have), living near coal-fired power plants (not to my knowledge) or being taking colloidal silver products (haven't). 

Silver is commonly found in hair dyes (which I have used on and off for the past two decades) and so commonly contaminates hair, but shouldn't effect you otherwise.  I also wear a silver chain and pentagram on a daily basis, but there has been no evidence that wearing silver jewelry can contaminate you in any way.

Nonetheless, I have somehow been exposed to excessive silver.  I also have higher than normal levels of softer metals such as aluminum and minerals (manganese, selenium, and zirconium).  All of this may be what has been wrecking my health more and more for the past two years, and acutely for the past four months.

Maybe now I can start making some progress on fixing it.

Friday, September 24, 2010

J is for Jack-of-Hearts

(ABC Wednesday)

Okay, so my post today is actually on tarot cards, or maybe on divination.  I’m lucky I got this close!

The origins of tarot cards are murky at best—no one knows for sure from where or from whom they came.  One theory is that they developed from practicing divination with regular playing cards.  It makes as much, if not more, sense than other theories I’ve read about.

I found a couple of good websites on this topic while looking for a Craft topic that began with ‘J.’  The first was from Serena’s Tarot, and the second from  Serena's Tarot gave a good, brief overview of using playing cards for tarot readings, while gave a slightly more in-depth look.

Both sources agreed that the hearts suite in general focuses on emotions.  In particular, the Jack of Hearts represents someone close to the querent:  a childhood friend, a best friend or a close relation.

That's about all I know about the topic.  It seems to be fairly simple, but if you want to learn more, check out the the websites I mentioned.

(And stay away from the Jack of Diamonds.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Holiday Tidings

Happy Mabon and Harvest Moon on this wonderfully appropriate, fall-like, rainy day, everyone!  Don't forget to be grateful, and may all your heart's desires be fulfilled!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mabon Preparations

I've spent the last couple of days finishing up my preparations for the Fall Equinox, or Mabon.  I've decided on altar decorations and dinner menu, on midnight rituals and daytime activities.  As you can probably guess, this is the beginning of my favorite time of the year!  :)  The days are getting shorter and cooler, the foliage is starting its fall show, and it's almost time for warm fires, soft sweaters, and mulled wine.  Almost.

The focus on Mabon falls on as many different aspects as there are Pagans, but I've decided to limit myself to my two favorites:  The Second Harvest Festival, and Balance.

Mabon is the 2nd of three harvest festivals.  The first is Lammas or Lughnasadh, which falls in the beginning of August and is a celebration of the first fruits of a traditional harvest, such as wheat.  The third and final one is Samhain, on October 31, which I'll talk about at length in the coming month.  The Autumn Equinox (known by Wiccans as Mabon since about 1970) is about being thankful for the harvest, and recognizing the need to prepare for the coming winter.  It's also about balance--night and day are equal at the equinoxes, which symbolizes balance throughout our lives.

So how does one go about celebrating the Autumn Equinox? Mainly, concentrate on the time of year.

Decorations, for altar as well as for home, should include signs of the season:  fall leaves in all their glory, gourds, acorns, corn husks, dried grasses, and so on.  The colors should also be seasonal:  russet, orange, brown, cranberry and the like.  Fill your home with scents of cinnamon, apples and baking bread.  For the menu, include local harvest items--grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts.  Also wine and grapes.  And don't forget the apple cider!

If you're going to cast spells, cast them on issues of balance or change.  As for activities, think of anything and everything you've always enjoyed doing in the fall. has some good suggestions at m/od/mabontheautumnequinox/tp/TenMabonIdehttp://paganwiccan.about.coas.htm . 
They are:
Find Some Balance
Hold a Food Drive
Pick Some Apples
Count Your Blessings
Honor the Darkness
Get Back to Nature
Tell Timeless Stories
Raise Some Energy
Celebrate Hearth and Home
Welcome the Gods of the Vine

I personally plan to take a walk in the woods, gather pinecones from my backyard, and  maybe even make a besom (a witch's broom). And some apple cider! My altar will hold small gourds, candles in seasonal colors, and a scale, and it will be covered in colorful leaves, pine cones, and other small treasures from my day outside.  My ritual will concern thankfulness and balance, and the meal afterward will consist of green beans with sherried mushrooms, roasted onions, roast meat, and red wine.  All rounded out by an apple crisp.

Welcome, Fall!

Monday, September 20, 2010

An Important "Birthday"

We passed an important milestone today here at Casa de EeeBee Life.  Kai is 20 weeks old today!

Week-birthdays aren’t usually important, but this one is.  As doggy socialization goes, the weeks of a dog’s life between 8 and 20 are the ones where you set the basic level of socialization for the puppy’s entire life.   (With the 9-12 week period being the absolutely most vital.)  Before 8 weeks, the puppy is learning things from his dam and litter.  After, it’s up to you, the owner.

It’s generally recommended that dogs meet 100 dogs and 200 people in the magick 8-20 week period, and encounter as many new and different situations as possible.  This takes way more time than you’d think, and was hard enough with Lance.  (Meeting all those people is especially difficult and exhausting when you’re an extreme introvert, as I am.)  Because Kai was taken from his litter early, we decided to double that number—our goal was 200 dogs and 400 people.  Add to that our recent financial issues and my problems with LD-related Chronic Fatigue, and you begin to see the enormity of our task.

Add to all of this the training that needs to occur during that time, and those 84 days feel like you don’t have time for anything at all but puppy-related activities.  Your entire life revolves around dog stuff.   If you’re not training at home or taking them for a walk or to the dog park, you’re on your way to puppy class or packing them in the car to drive them to something they’ve never experienced before.  You have no time for friends or hobbies or sometimes even chores. (Not that I’m one to complain about that.  LOL!) 

At which point you’re probably wondering why we go through it all.  We do it because we really do like dogs, and because we want to be able to take our dogs anywhere and everywhere with us.   And we want them to behave themselves and mind their manners no matter where that is. 

Nonetheless, I’m glad that this intense period is over.  We’ll have to keep taking them to new places, exposing them to new situations, and meeting new people and new dogs all their lives to not lose the level of socialization we’ve achieved, but it won’t be anywhere near this demanding from now on.

At least not until the next puppy.  ;>

(For Kai’s POV, head on over to Mission Accomplished (Sorta).)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Getting My Life in Order

I have a list of way too many things that I want to learn about, or do, or learn to do.  This is different from my "Things to Do This Life" list, although a few of the items (like snowboarding) are on both.  This list is about things that I want to learn more about, like animal husbandry, or that I want to incorporate into a near-daily practice, like meditation.

I had been blocked for a long while on doing any of them because of one of my many bad reactions to stress.  When I start to feel overwhelmed about the amount of things I have to do, I shut down and can't do any of them.  I couldn't decide on which part of the list to focus, or on which item I should tackle first.  I felt like I didn't have time to do them all, so I did none of them.

I finally decided I needed to approach the list as I would numerous projects at a job, since simply trying to decide which one I WANTED to do first wasn't working.  I needed to prioritize them according to importance, time constraints and so on.  I assigned them all to categories, like Spirituality and Fitness, then assigned weight to those categories.  Most of the items fit into multiple categories, but that was okay--it made it even easier to weigh them.

The item that came to the top of the list surprised me--Learning to Use a Compass.  It fit into 8 of my 11 categories! (At the bottom of the list?  Sorting pre-digital photos and old cooking magazines.)

Now that I have a clear plan for these "tasks", I feel I can get a better handle on all kinds of things I've been avoiding (from simple things like putting freshly laundered, FOLDED clothes into drawers, to bigger things like sorting my entire closet-dresser-guest closet system). 

And maybe, just maybe, stepping a tiny bit closer to that elusive balance I seek.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Lance & Kai Blog

If you're even more interested in the dogs than what you see here, wander over to my DH's brand new blog exclusively about them!  It's called A Dog's Life in Canada, and it will be all about our two favorite canines. (With maybe the occasional guest blog by the cats, or other dogs.)

And it'll have plenty of pics of our two guys!  Especially as Kai's ears begin to stand up more and more!  LOL!

Don't worry though, I'll still post about them here--though maybe a little less than I have been.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"I" is for Initiation

I recently found a wonderful website (ABC Wednesday), and this is my first time posting in accordance with their challenge.  The letter for this week, as you might have guessed, is 'I'.  I'm going to try and keep these challenge posts on the Craft, for now.  We'll see how it goes.

You hear a lot about initiations in Pagan circles.  "You MUST be initiated."  "Initiations don't matter." "You're not really a witch unless you've been initiated."  "I initiated myself." "Self-initiation doesn't count."  Etc., etc., etc.

I myself am torn on the issue.  A part of me would love to find an established  coven where DH and I could belong.  And another part of me shies away from possible politics and power plays.  But what if there IS no such coven, or at least there isn't one yet?  Does that make what we do any less meaningful, any less valid? 

On the one hand, I don't think so.  I feel like a witch, I describe myself as a witch, I AM a witch.  On the other hand, some part of me would feel more 'real' if it was "official."  Not to mention I would enjoy the company, the feeling of fellowship, or sisterhood, that officially belonging to a group would mean.

(Are you beginning to see what I mean about being torn?)

I haven't actively looked for a local coven, but that's because we've been caught in limbo for the past two years.  I hesitate to get close to people only to move away a month or a season or even a year later.

I suppose, for now, DH and I will just continue being 'solitary' Pagans--a coven of two, if you will.  We may or may not perform self-initiations.  

I can't decide.  :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Wiggle Waggle Walkathon Success

The 21st Annual Hamilton/Burlington SPCA Wiggle Waggle Walkathon is over, and we all survived!  We walked the shorter (1 km) leg of the walk, managed not to beat Kai to death despite his misbehavior, and raised $220 for the cause!  (Thank you so much, everyone who donated!)

And the misbehavior wasn't  really Kai's fault.  We got to the location about an hour before, to wander the vendor booths and meet as many dogs and people as possible, and he got over-stimulated.  It was our mistake--we'd factored in whether the walk itself would be too much for him or not, and decided he could handle it.  But we'd forgotten about the festival surrounding the walkathon.  It just got to be too much for the "little" guy.  We finally figured that out, though, and moved away from everyone to a quiet location to let him calm down.  After that, he was okay on the walk itself, but he was very ready to go home after.  He slept HARD almost from the moment we got in the car until we got home, hardly budging the whole time, despite two stops on the way.

On a somewhat related note, I count being able to do the walk, even the short leg of it, as a personal triumph, because considering the LD and chronic fatigue, I wasn't sure I'd be able to walk even that far.  Thanks to the miracle of modern nutritional supplements, however, I had no trouble.  Although I, too, was VERY ready to go home once we'd finished the walk, and I slept for a solid two hours that afternoon.

Lance handled the whole affair with his usual grace and dignity, as did DH.  Neither of them had any problems at all, unless you count Lance's feelings of inadequacy when he met two Irish Wolfhounds that made him, at 105 lbs, look small.  :)