Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"I Aten't Dead"


"I Aten't Dead"
-Granny Weatherwax

In the words of that marvelous lady, no I'm not dead, just ridiculously busy with the shop. Classes are on hold for the holiday season, while we get the website organized and add new goodies. Hope you guys are well!

-Carmin

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

An Attack on One of Us is an Attack on ALL of Us



Ran across this article today on the legal battle of John Unger (an original artisan) vs. Rick Wittrig, manufacturer of mass produced stolen artwork. While Mr Unger is not, as far as I know, Pagan, he is an original artisan who built his company from the ground up, earning his reputation through high quality craftsmanship, attention to detail, and blood, sweat, and tears.

You guys know that nothing gets me more pissed than theft and plagiarism, especially theft from small artists. The fact that this guy could overturn Mr. Unger's copyright by default, outspending him, is a travesty against the very heart of intellectual property laws. Whoever has the most money wins?

If you have an extra few bucks laying around, invest in one of his lovely hand forged firebowls to support his legal battle (and get an awesome central piece for your rituals). If you don't have a few bucks laying around, spread the word. Post it on you Facebook, your Myspace, Twitter, throw a fundraiser, write your newspaper. Just get it out there. There is no point to creating brilliant works of art if they can be stolen out from under you. Surely we don't want to live in a world like that.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Trials and Tribulations, or My Lol Cat is Mean

My lol cat ate my new coon bone. I came home to a mysteriously empty bag and an obnoxiously innocent looking cat, licking her chops. She also managed to rampage through my (locked) knitting stash, and rip 3 inches of skin from my left palm. So my next bone carving project will have to wait.

I know the blog has been simmering for awhile; I've been running to keep up with orders, adding new artisans to the site, field testing new products, and plotting new mischiefs...

The Witch n' Bitches will be held every Sunday from now on, starting next week, but not tomorrow (October 18th). I could really, really use the downtime. Next week, however, feel free to invade the Nile Cafe with your knitting needles and crochet hooks in tow. Cackle with us over coffee to your hearts content!

Friday, October 9, 2009

First Witch n' Stitch Craft Circle This Sunday


Before and after. At least the clouds give us fair warning.


So, the snow in the high country has hit, making our Sunday class hikes a bit dangerous. Rather than call the whole thing off until mid spring, we're hosting a Witch n' Stitch for the crafty folk.

Join us this Sunday at the Nile Cafe for our first Witch n' Stitch! Bring your knitting needles, crochet hooks, yarn, embroidery hoops, beads, or any clean crafts (anything that won't leave a mess or stain) and have a cup of coffee with like-minded magical crafters.

Not crafty?
Want to be?
Bring your newbie self down and learn how to cast on, knit, purl, cable, chain stitch, crab stitch, and all that other tricky stuff.

Like all of our classes, this gathering is free to attend.

Hope to see you there!

10AM-12PM Sunday 11th, at The Nile Cafe (954 Manitou Ave
Manitou Springs, CO)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Raygan's Awesome Dolls


Our friend Raygan made this awesomely cute voodoo doll :) Her eyes seem to follow you around the room, lol.
Raygan will have a spot on our Craftsman's Corner pretty soon, along with quite a few talented local artisans.

Hope you guys are well!

-Carmin

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Samhain Treats

The skulls are done!
Finally, after mold mishaps and recarvings for the master, Ac finished the skull mold, and I'm casting these beauties just in time for Samhain. The one above is palm wax, but future candles will be done in soy, in a variety of colors (and we're taking color requests). He's a bit neo-primitive, inspired by Victorian anatomy charts and traditional calavera sugar skulls from Mexico.

Next up are figural candles that are... a bit more realistic. And hot. The commercially available figural candles always looked depressed, lank, and slightly erm, Ken-like. As in Ken-and-Barbie ;)


As promised, I've selected a new winner for the contest, as the last winner never sent the shipping info. I really, really love this incense and wanted to share... so I selected 2 winners instead of 1. Mwahahaha! *ahem*
Coyote Rose and Milaka, I believe that we already have your shipping info (let me know if anything has changed) and you 2 should be getting a pack in the mail by the weekend, or Monday at the latest :)
I hope you enjoy!

-Carmin

Proud as Punch

A necklace I made for a friend's birthday :)
I carved it out of deer bone that we found in the canyon down the street. This is probably the most complicated piece I've done so far (a Celtic shield knot), and was really proud about how it turned out. I took this picture before the obligatory morning coffee, so it isn't the steadiest shot... lol

A quick note: I didn't get a response from the winner of the incense giveaway, so I'll be selecting a new winner tonight, from the previous entries.

Thanks!

-Carmin

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It's Finished!!!!


I love that in-between state of knitting projects... the rush of finishing a piece, and contemplating the next one. Drooling over fibers and possibilities at the local yarn shop, writing patterns in my head, dreaming over complex cables and Fair Isle...but repetition is a killer . That said, this particular scarf was a joy to make. The bamboo and silk combination is light and soft, and the color never got old no matter how long I looked at it :) I chose a moss stitch (a.k.a seed stitch) for an earthy, organic look. It makes an excellent contrast to the elegant and subtle sheen of the yarn. Currently available in the Etsy shop

And on to the next project! Found a luscious hand-spun Romney that's begging to be used.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hike Sunday Morning, 10am!

For those in Colorado, our Witchcraft Group Hike is still on for Sunday at 10am! Meeting at Nile Cafe, in Manitou Springs, CO!

We're looking to hike William's Canyon again!
GORGEOUS!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

And the Winner Is...



Winner of the Dia de los Muertos Incense is Starwind Evensong, over at Stirda Witches Cauldron. Thanks to everyone who participated, and I hope to have another giveaway soon!

Blessings,
-Carmin

Monday, September 7, 2009

Hebe, The Goddess of Manitou

Some of you may remember, a few months back, a case of mistaken identity with the town goddess. The original statue (thought to be Hygeia) has graced the town center for 119 years, and was revealed as Hebe by one of our locals, who also happens to be an art historian. Manitou recently sponsored a contest, enticing our artist-rich town to paint versions of the statue, which will eventually be auctioned off. In the meantime, they are gathering worshipers and praise along the Ave. I snapped some pix yesterday wandering around town.

Next to Wheeler Spring and the Post Office



At the Crossroads of Manitou Ave and Ruxton




Surveying her domain




Hebe in a more classical style, next to Soda Springs Park

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Day of the Dead Blog Giveaway!

First giveaway! This is one of my original formulas, composed of rum infused copal, rare and fragrant osha root, marigold, rich spices, and other herbs sacred and pleasing to the ancestors. great for Samhain rituals, or as a regular part of your ancestral altar (mine sure like it). One lucky reader will win a free pack; just leave a comment anywhere on the blog and we'll throw your name in the hat. Winner will be announced in two weeks :)

Thanks!

-Carmin

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Class tonight!


For those of you in Manitou, you know that (since it's the First Tuesday) we have class tonight!

Today we'll be working on honing those ESP, Telepathy, and Remote viewing skills. We'll refresh on basic areas on the brain, as well as different mental calisthenics for "Getting In the Zone".

BRING A NOTEPAD! You'll Need it tonight!


We'll cover more depth on each, but as always, never forget we're also a social gathering: Don't get scared-off if you haven't been with us since day One. (The only one who has is Ac, and that's just 'cause he teaches it).

All are welcome, regardless of skill, experience, or attendance (Unless you're under 18, or prone to criminal activity).

We're at 720 Manitou Ave, at Black Cat Book Store, from 7pm-9pm (That's 19-21 hundred hours, for the military folks).

As Always, it's Free!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Oooo Pretty!



Occasionally, I run across an artisan whose work makes my jaw drop. Had to share this amazing, life size, intricately needle felted doll, hand crafted by Enchanted Gypsy on Etsy. Check out close ups of the Banshee Fae, it's pretty spectacular and inspiring.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sea Horse of Doom!!! and erm, other things

It needs to feeeed, precious!


Ac has officially adopted the sea-horse-dragon-fetus-demon thing, and promises that it will felt well. I've never felted bamboo before, so the results should be interesting. It tends to take eons to dry after blocking though.

Currently working on other projects. I miss dressmaking (I say that now) and am designing attractive, non-velvet (tired of seeing acres of purple velvet at every Open Sabbat, lol) ritual attire for the shop... not sure when it will be released, perhaps not until early Spring. Made for all body types, stuff that will make you look and feel more like a Goddess and less like a highly flammable Ren Faire reject or a hooker- ever notice that those seems to be the only 2 choices we get in "Pagan Wear"?

Robes you can dance around the bonfire in, mildly drunk, and not go up in flames...Spiral dancing without tripping and falling face first into the Cakes and Wine... speaking from bad personal experiences, lol ;) Pardon if I seem mildly obsessive.
Stuff for guys, too. Oh, you'll see, but I'm very excited about breaking out the needle and thread once again.

A project closer at hand is the Wearable Potions. Made in the true potion tradition with attention to detail; solid perfumes crafted from beeswax, fine oils, organic herbs and essential oils, stones and crystals; made according to Moon phase, day of the week, planetary hour, and astrological conditions.

The first in the series "Aphrodesia" is in the Etsy shop, and we will be adding more in time. :)

-Carmin


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sunday Hike, Random Stuff

A quick heads up: The hike for tomorrow is canceled. Ac is sick as a dog and desperately needs the recovery time. I may still be up for exploring Williams Canyon, although the word is that it is going to be excruciatingly hot. If you guys just want to turn it into a Witch n' Bitch at the Nile Cafe, bring your knitting needles, crochet hooks and yarn-y goodness :)

On that note, a few of you lovelies liked the description of the intarsia monstrosity from the last post, so I'll be grabbing and posting a picture of it tomorrow, as soon as the sun is out. ;)

As soon as the major snowstorms start, the outdoor classes will be suspended. The mountains can be dangerous in the best of times. Anyway, it will be replaced with an official Witch n' Bitch, on the same schedule. Maybe more frequently if there is enough interest.

Take care, and I hope to see you tomorrow!

-Carmin

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Walk in Williams Canyon, This Weekend!

We're hitting Williams Canyon, again, tomorrow!
We'll be meeting at The Nile Cafe, for coffee & paperwork, so we can keep this all legal. There are free permission slips for canyon access that need to be filled out, so if you haven't filed one with them already, show up a bit before 10am, so we can get those filed before the hike!
The forms are free, but coffee is about $2 a cup.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Treasuring your Mistakes

Right now, as we speak, I am attempting to knit a new charm bag, with a little intarsia crescent moon knit into the middle. It's my first attempt at intarsia, and I'm going without a pattern. I'm about half way through and can already tell that it's going to be butt ugly.Not even country-charming-butt ugly, more like the kind that makes the little old ladies at the yarn store weep and pray for your soul.

Spiritual lesson? I've met a great many practitioners that refuse to fess up to magical misdeeds, misfired rituals... or burning their fingers in general, even reading the "wrong" books. Some are afraid of losing face within the community, having students question their abilities, or simply disappointing people that have a certain image of them. I get it.
But when I was still teaching in a coven oriented group, I found that nothing breaks the ice like setting your sleeves on fire during the middle of a ritual. That students learn more from the mistakes I made as a cocky little spell caster than from any trite admonitions to avoid trying something because of "karma". What happens when you mix strong emotions, desperation, and blood into a love spell. Why the biggest tarot spread in the world is a dumb idea. That cursings and bindings don't automatically invoke the Law of Three. Why healing spells aren't necessarily 'positive'.

As most magical traditions are experiential ones, you can get so much more out of them by trying and failing, rather than going by the book, or never putting the book down and getting off the couch.

Ok, so the image on the bag is nearly done, and it looks less like a Moon, and more like an angry seahorse, or possibly a genetic experiment between a parsnip and a whale, gone horribly wrong. I love it. So anyway, yeah. Sorry I haven't blogged in awhile ^ - ^

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Walk is On!

Tomorrow's walk is still on, but (as we didn't decide where, on Tuesday), we should meet at a coffee shop, and choose the trail.

Let's meet at The Nile Cafe, in Manitou, at 10 am, and take it from there!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sunday Hike

For a change of pace, we will be exploring Williams Canon tomorrow. Meet us at the Mate Factor at 1O am for a cup of coffee or tea before the hike. Hope to see you there!

-Carmin
Lodestone & Lady's Mantle

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Class Hike. Quick Update

The weather looks like it will be beautiful tomorrow, and there were tentative plans to take on Barr Trail. We will be meeting at the Mate Factor (966 Manitou Ave.) at 10 AM tomorrow morning, and hiking wherever you guys are up for! If no one is feeling particularly sprightly, well, we can just hang out at the coffee shop, lol.

Hope to see you there :D

-Carmin

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Practical Herbalist: Natural Pest Control

Last year, I planted white sage outside my front door; it seemed to be growing quite well, until one morning I step outside with a cup of coffee and one of the plants is missing. No roots, no broken leaves, and no signs of disturbed earth. Just gone. This continued every night until all but one remained, and I was utterly paranoid, peeking out of the windows, up all hours of the night to see what the heck was going on.
Towards the end of summer, I had visions of a Beetle Juice type worm-monster living in the planter, and somehow sucking the sage through the ground. Arrgh. Winter hit, and the mystery had to wait for another season.

This year, I tried calendula in the same planter, first investigating the dirt thoroughly for cutworms, excess pine needles (bends the soil ph atrociously). Satisfied, I transplanted the flowers and waited. Woke up to petals scattered across the gate, all over the ivy, and the flowers all had broken stems.

It was squirrels. Freakin' squirrels.

Solution?

Make a strong tea with African Bird Peppers, allow it to cool, and thoroughly coat the plants with it, sprinkling the leftovers on the surrounding ground.

The hairy little freeloaders weren't too happy about the added condiments, but it is an excellent pesticide-free deterrent!

Other tried and true favorites are vinegar for black spot (happens on a lot of the tomatoes here) but requires frequent reapplication, and Murphy's Oil soap to get the Japanese beetles from devouring your roses. Companion planting, the lady bugs and the snakes take care of just about everything else :)

Have any faves' to share? I'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tarot Bags-Full Moon and New Moon



Knit from a wonderful bamboo and silk blend yarn, with little vintage copper buttons. I made this (accidentally?) on corresponding Moon cycles, finishing the white bag on the second night of the Full Moon, and the black bag on the New Moon. Didn't even realize it until weaving in the ends ... had a big "huh" moment. Don't you love synchronicity?
They are pretty big, roomy enough to hold two decks each, or a deck and all the lovely ritual gear to go with it. Not sure when I'll be making another, so for now they will just be available in our Etsy shop, and not on the main site.

Even with our current class schedule, I was hoping to start a Stitch n' Bitch (Witch n' Bitch?) circle in the area. It would be a great way for the local magical community to get to know each other outside of a ritual setting, especially for those of us that don't really like the environment of most Open Sabbats, and those bloody awful New Age love donation classes, lol. Let me know if you guys are interested!

-Carmin

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Class Update

Class will be meeting tomorrow at Red Rock Canyon Open Space Park, 1O am. It should be pretty warm tomorrow, so be sure to bring your water bottle.
Hope to see you there! :D

-Carmin

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Happy Dance

Mercury has officially gone Direct, and I'm gloating.

Only one loud mouth, smart ass outburst this retrograde cycle, and that was in binary. So I only sounded like a pretentious jackass, and not offensive. Yay :D !

Seriously, though, I don't mind the retrograde period so much... it's just the anticipation of waiting for the slingshot-effect when it turns direct again.
I tend to hold off on making communication and luck focused oils and incense during this time, and wait until the tides are a bit more favorable. I've been meaning to post something on the actual effects that a retrograde has on your spell casting, as well as reverse-engineering correspondents to work in your favor, but it may take a bit longer than expected.

Hope you guys are well!

-Carmin

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Class Update

Just a quick note: the outdoor classes will be held indoors tomorrow, due to a high chance of rain and heavy lighting/thunderstorms. We will be meeting at the Nile Cafe, 954 Manitou Ave, near to Soda Springs Park) at 10 AM. Spread the word!

Hope to see you there :)
-Carmin

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Spring Full of Promise

My apologies for leaving the blog dormant for a few, it's been a bit hectic around here.
There are many goals that I have set for myself in life, and am walking the long, rutted, dusty road to achieving them.
The archetype that my soul has always connected to is that of the Warrior. In that light, the winter and spring has been chock full of training. My next goal is to master the firearm, a long neglected aspect of training. So my days are filled with making items for the shop, labeling and packaging, writing code, and planning new projects. We were recently fortunate enough to acquire a Hyatt volume that was missing from our collection, and I have been buried in that for a bit. My nights are filled with study and practice. Weekends are spent on the range when the weather is nice enough. Often it is discouraging, as in "I am not where I want to be right now with this", any of it, but I'm plugging along. I have the help of wonderful friends, but the horizon seems miles away :)
There really is no such thing as a finished product, most particularly where people are concerned.

So that explains my long absence from the blog. Running a business is very similar to having a child: You devote obscenely long hours to it, get up at odd hours to feed and care for it, it gives you great joy, but sometimes you just need time to take care of yourself.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Whistling In the Dark

I got to Earth Hour a few minutes late, running on Pagan Standard Time, lol. Three candles burning beside me, and a heart full of words...
I can't say that I am especially hopeful for the future, assured that the government has our best interests in mind, or that my hour of darkness will do anything other than make me slightly more nearsighted.
But the moment I turned off the lights and stepped outside, I could feel a collective heart pleading, hoping, waiting for others to follow suit. It feels like drumming from a far away place, ringing through the bones in my feet. I mourn for what has passed and fight my way to a future. Any future.

May this Earth hour find you among the light of friends :)

-Carmin

Friday, March 13, 2009

When Does Wrong Become Right?- Musings on Spiritual Traditions and the Materia Magica




I sit here, way past my bed time, when I should be editing new items for the shop. Something has long been preying on my mind that maybe has no answer, or is at the very least, highly subjective.
I have been fortunate enough to have had ample time over the years to pour through magical texts, both ancient and modern, and even more fortunate to interact with living magical traditions for the majority of my life. That said, when a certain component is mistranslated, either purposely or in honest error, and a formula is transmitted through the generations in its uncorrected form, when does that become the correct "way" and the original wrong?

An example: Abra-Melin Oil. There are at least three major versions, four if you count the original Oil of Tanakh. The version most widely used on a regular basis is the Crowley, used regularly by Thelemites the world over. As per Crowley's instructions, it is composed of essential oils, not by the classical method of macerating the herbs in olive oil. By his own admission, this is a burning, "biting" oil. It burns the hell out of your skin, it leaves red marks, and even blisters on more sensitive skin! And he liked it that way. So that particular formula, one could argue, is correct for adherents of Thelema. There isn't a bloody chance in hell you'd get that much pure cinnamon oil near MY skin, but that is just me :P Even the cinnamon leaf oil is a bit much, though much more tolerable. I don't like galangal EO either; it goes rancid too quickly. Pain in the butt to find, too.

Certain other translations insist on galangal's inclusion in the formula, while others deny that this is so, and insist on calamus. Now, knowing what I do about the regional specifications of the oil, calamus IS perhaps more likely to have been included in the original. Calamus, of which there are many varieties, is native to India. Galangal is native to Asia and India. One can argue trade routes, and the extent to which traders would go to acquire precious spice and scent is very well postulated and documented. One can even argue about true plant origins; I've met people that insist that calamus is native to Northern Africa (it isn't). Debates rage about mistranslations found in different texts, and it all comes down to who wants their version to be the right one.
We come to another problem. The amount of oil prescribed in certain translations is not even enough to cover the herbal dry matter. Most practitioners have not found this to be a problem, and simply add more oil. Who'da thunk? Common sense, yes? But it still bugs me, and tickles at the back of my brain.

Practice magic for any length of time, and you develop ritual quirks. You use a particular incense regularly, even if it is the cheap-y sticks 10 for a buck at the local shop, and that scent triggers your ritual mindset. After years and years of spraying my ritual area with a blend or myrrh oil mixed with water (quite handy for outdoor magic, when you want to avoid fire) I still "trigger" at that particular scent. As Ac has so kindly pointed out, the sense of smell is our only known sense that bypasses the hypothalamus, and reaches us directly without filters.
Everyone has experienced that moment of, say, bread baking takes you back in time to your Grandmother's kitchen, or someone walks by, wearing the same perfume your first sweetheart wore... You can re-visit entire periods in your life from a smell catching you unawares. Magical practitioners have harnessed this, to some extent.

What I would like to touch on next are formulas found within traditional American folk magic. Hoodoo, Root work, etc.
While I have nothing but the utmost respect for those who not only preserved the traditions, but popularized them (thus keeping them from dying a slow, sad death), I take issue with some of these folks as well. Many traditional formulas are reproduced for the benefit of all that use them. I firmly believe that you do not have to practice Hoodoo to enjoy the amazing power of, say, Abre Camino, Love Drawing, or Van Van Oil. What I have a problem with is the over-standardization of these formulas. There are some Root Workers that say that you have to use jojoba oil for this kind of condition, or almond oil as a base for that condition oil. That is all well and good, but frankly, the ladies who I grew up around insisted on using olive oil for just about everything. Granted, there are many things that I was not privy to, being a young un' but I kept my eyes open and my mouth shut, and it was always the bottle of olive oil (sometimes, one or two of them used Crisco for macerating herbs, though). Maybe this was just because it was the most widely available "living " oil. Not denatured by heat and chemicals, in other words.
I still remember being allowed to come along to seal a house from... whatever was in it, and the surrounding property. I was instructed to dip my finger in the small white bowl of olive oil, and make crosses on the lintels of the doors, and any place I "saw" something. That was it. Very simple, not as product heavy as many Hoodoo spells that are in popular modern circulation. There are certain condition formulas that seem to have a great variance by region, even among modern practitioners. This is only natural, we find what works for us, and most Root Workers don't just make the stuff, but pray over it, "charge" it, and make it active for their client. It's natural that they would alter a formula slightly to their liking, as they are the one using it.
Some formulas vary drastically by region, in great part to availability of herbs, the influence of previous occupants of the land (those who practice in Pennsylvania are more likely to have been influenced by German settlers) or Native Americans. Despite what many within the "New Age" community believe, there is no such thing as a single group called " Native Americans", and believing so is delusional. I am 1/4 Cherokee, and look fairly typical in facial features to other Southern Cherokee women. Large eyes, set far apart, a nose you'd have to see to believe, strong jaw, and high cheekbones. We look different than, say, the Diné, or Mattaponi, and we have different rituals, magic, and medicine (medicinal plant and illness varying by region). Hoodoo being the natural result of African magic blending with local tribes, will have variations according to magic of origin, region, and stability of community (how much time you had to pass a formula on). But if a magical practitioner is accustomed to a particular variation above all others... Unfortunately, this is a much neglected area of study, and many practitioners are completely unaware that there are variations. Greatly in need of cataloging and description. Kinda wishing that Harry M. Hyatt was still around ;)

But magical practitioners get set in their ways, and despite the modern resurgence of the occult and the seeming erasure of geographic barriers that the Internet pretends to, we are still very much separated by our geography. Occultists and Pagans in certain towns in the Midwest have a different style of practice than those on the Coasts; the West Coast being heavily influenced by Reclaiming, Feri, aspects of the Hermetic, and Buddhism, and the other being heavily influenced by British Trad, Southern Folk Magic and Root work, etc. Not only that, we all experience different levels of in house politics. Some regions have more domineering, charismatic, or catty "leaders" or human focal points. Some have strong, stable, and supportive communities. Some actively engage in magical warfare as par-for-the-course. We are not a singular community yet, but plural communities that occasionally engage in tentative contact.
So, if you've read this far (and who reads this many bloody pages on the Internet, lol), I just want to pose the question: When does wrong become right? When does the weight of years overcome what was done long ago, and become the "right", standard way to do something? When does the personal experience of a practitioner outweigh Tradition?

Let me know your honest thoughts and opinions on any and all of these topics. Right now, it's 2AM. Currently reading "The Mote in God's Eye", by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle :)

-Carmin

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Because Spring is an Optimist...

... I planted Shasta Daisies on Sunday. The growing season here in Colorado is insanely short and temperamental, but the garden must go on. The mandrake didn't get started in time this year, but it's just as well. It's a high maintenance plant, that I don't have the time for at the moment. So the seeds wait, and sleep for another year.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Simple Pleasures-Handcrafted Soap


Photo copyright Two Strands Soap Works, used with permission

It's amazing how something simple and pure can delight you utterly.The beautiful soap handcrafted by Two Strands Soap Works is one of those things that turns the necessity of a bath or shower into a pleasing everyday ritual.
Subtly scented, and chock full of precious herbs, resins, and natural essential oils, their bars are made the old fashioned way,in small batches with no nasty chemical additives like commercial soap.
My personal favorite is the Seafoam; it is wonderfully exfoliating, and moisturizes my skin even against the tough Colorado winters.I also love the Vin Rose; redolent of red roses and Washington State Merlot; very rich, luxurious scent, and wonderful lather.
One of the most recent additions to their shop are devotional ritual soaps, made with intent, and geared toward specific deities.The attention to detail is wonderful, as is their customer service.
This wonderful husband and wife team also make really fun D10 and D20 dice soaps, perfect for your favorite gamer. I haven't gotten a chance to try these out yet, but I know a lot of hard-to-buy-for-gamers, so... it's only a matter of time. :D

Check out their wonderful body products, and support your favorite Pagan crafter today!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Cheap Eats

Quite a few people are expressing concern about the current economic downturn. While I am of the personal opinion that it has more to do with old men playing with imaginary numbers, that doesn't change the reality that many families are worried and suffering right now for many basic things, like food.
I was born outside of my generation, raised by a mother who felt the hand of the Depression still present within every action, every mouthful. The order of the day was always waste nothing, learn how to stretch every meal to it's fullest on the smallest amount of money, make do, and use your noggin.
In light of that, I'd like to share a few of my favorite recipes to help you make it through the best and worst of times, keep everyone in your circle happy, safe, and fed.

First up is colcannon. Some say that is an "ancient Irish dish" but that is a matter best left to historians. Some say that it dates from turn of the century Irish immigrants, but other dishes in the Old World seem remarkably similar. Either way, it's delicious, and no matter how much you make, the pot will always be licked clean by the end of the night, it's cheap and can feed lots of people. I must give fair warning: My recipes are never in exact measurements, but rather "a pinch, a bit, a pile"rather than 1 cup etc. It makes altering a recipe a bit easier, if you only have 1/2 an onion, or whatever.

You will need:

1/2 onion
1/4-1/2 of a large purple cabbage (green is more traditional, but purple gives it a rich, fresh flavor)
about 10+ well sized potatoes
1 stick of butter (it really isn't the same with margarine, but that will do in a pinch)
rosemary
thyme
salt
black pepper, preferably cracked
Oil. Either olive, or whatever you have on hand.
Milk, cream, or half-and-half.
Water
1 pan
1 pot

Chop the onions; it doesn't have to be minced or cut finely. This is hearty peasant fare, and tastes better when you treat it as such. Heat the oil in your pan, and add a bit of the rosemary when it seems to be crackling nicely. Add the onions and allow them to caramelize slightly, sort of brown around the edges, but not black. Chop the cabbage into about finger width shreds, and add them to the pan. Throw in some salt; it helps to bring out the flavor, and allows the cabbage to break down a bit faster.

While all this is happening, take a potato, throw it in the microwave for two minutes, flip it, and go for another two minutes. This is the big time saver! Or you can bake them in the oven ahead of time. Slice the potatoes, skin and all, into your pot. Add a bit of water, milk/cream, and sliced butter to taste. Basically, you are making homemade smashed potatoes, see?
Turn the burner on beneath it, and mash the potatoes. The consistency doesn't have to be Betty Crocker boxed perfect, you really don't notice it.Just get it as smooth as you can. Add a healthy amount of rosemary, a bit of thyme, and salt and pepper. Stir in the entire lovely pan of cabbage, onions etc., give it a stir, and ring the dinner bell.
Warning: It is best to stand to the side, because you WILL be trampled in the kitchen by hungry hordes ;)

Next time, bread or biscuits. Which ever you like. How to REALLY cook grits, maybe? Mmm fried apples... *drool*

Blessings to you and yours,
-Carmin

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Shiny New Obsession

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons


You ever notice how when you REALLY want something, it seems to be everywhere? I'm seeing drop spindles out of the corner of my eye, roving, batting, and wheels everywhere.
I don't have time for a new craft. It's bloody impractical right now. I keep trying to convince myself that it would be relaxing, something to do outside of the shop. But the truth is, shortly after getting a good grip on spinning, I'd be making odd yarns to knit into charm bags. Dandelion, milkweed, the silvery fuzz from blessed thistle... The cats. Yeah. I thigh spun bits of Oscar's hair today (he's shedding pretty badly), added an eye milagro (which have always looked like Evil Eye charms to me) and hung it from the doorway. Combine the best of both worlds; crazy cat lady, Witch, and craft ninja.
It's just hard to let go of an idea once it's taken root. Le sigh. Don't get all worried on me, it was a whim, and took about three minutes, lol.

Around and about town, the powers that be in Manitou are trying to install parking meters. I don't know how effective that will be, what with 1/3 of the shops being empty (wtf), and tourist season on the way. The construction downtown is a bloody nightmare. Redoing the Ave, again (three times in two years!) and they still haven't touched Ruxton, or appear to have any plans to clean it up and make it more patron friendly.
Bah humbug!
Currently reading "Moving Pictures" by Terry Pratchett
Going to bed now, hope you are well :)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friendly Neighbors :D




These lovely mule deer graced us with their presence yesterday. I dissolved into a into a fit of OMG fuzzy wuzzy *squeal* etc. :P
The giant propeller ears, the fuzzy coat, and dreamy, liquid brown eyes. Anyway, its good to see that they made it through the winter in style. There weren't very many in the valley/foothills last fall, but they seemed to be making a greater appearance this spring.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Short Post

The hunt for almond wood continues... Gah and argh. I'm looking forward to getting back to wood carving.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

An Unbroken Line of Pagans in Eastern Europe

Bloody 'ell!
A rather uprising bit of info cropped up today; a burgeoning, unbroken line of Paganism in a wee bitty-bit of Russia.
The Mari people are currently fighting to preserve their traditions and sacred Groves from vandalism. The translation isn't all that great, but neither is my Russian, so here you go.

The main points of their faith revolve around a belief in Nature as the source of all that is good (similar to many animist faiths around the world). They are polytheistic, and their gods seem to be tied deeply to the surrounding land and it's natural features. Sounds quite a bit like modern Paganism in many respects; I'm very interested in how much of their specific practices will come to light, and what we can learn from them to 'fill in the gaps', as it were, in our own rituals, devotion, and traditions.

-Carmin

Monday, February 23, 2009

Rumblings In Pagan Cyberspace + Ramblings

If you haven't heard tell of the current uproar in the Occult community, or seen the angry mobs marching past your hut waving pitchforks and brandishing torches, well, chances are you've been minding your own business, *tsk, tsk*

When I read this mornings post from Hecate over a cup of coffee, the entry about the Frost's newest book garnered a derisive snort and and a groan, amounting to a colorfully coffee splattered monitor. Hey, you try doing all three at once :P
But not much more. I've never taken the Frost's or their mail order degrees seriously, so it didn't hurt my feelings when they wrote this:

“Any initiatory sex should be with a “stranger” — an initiated Witch of the coven [that] the neophyte plans to join. . . . The underlying tradition here is sometimes overlooked. If the Craft means enough to you that you are willing to abide by its tenets then abide by them! If you cannot transcend your cultural brainwashing and accept the assignment to have sex one time with an assigned partner, in accordance with centuries of Craft tradition, the Craft can’t mean that much to you. Here’s the door. Don’t call yourself a Witch.”

See, the thing is, I've never met an occultist that believed everything they read. I have some bloody awful books on my shelves (if you want the most embarrassing and awful titles, just ask :)). I've used them to teach before, as in " this is how NOT to cast a spell, and why".but apparently should really begin reading more of them.*Everyone else has, while I've had my head stuck in the sand.lol.

What I am simply amazed by is the "cultural brainwashing" bit. Do what we say, or you are a brainwashed ninny who can't think for themselves. Wow, where have we heard THAT kind of rhetoric before? Sounds like a combination of a sweaty drunk prom date and that creepy neighbor that used to touch his balls and offer you lemonade.

Hell, its 2AM, I'm getting punchy, and that last comment probably gave you a disgusting mental image. Stopping... NOW!

And apropos of nothing at all, some formulas that we've been testing over the winter are finally ready to be offered for sale; they just needed some hardcore fine-tuning to be both aesthetically pleasing and ritually effective. The latest are woven around entire legends from various cultures, portrayed in scent and energy. I can't wait to see what you think; this project has been my baby for the past few months, incredibly inspiring, and challenging.
Many new items going up are more closely focused on European and Middle Eastern magic, as many of you have requested.
Herbal ritual papers are in the not-so-distant future, as well as a few new inks. My fiber addiction and latest interest has been put aside for the moment, as responsibilities call. I'm really freakin' tired, and desperately want to go hiking tomorrow; hitting the Post Office in the morning, sending out thank yous :) and then ignoring this bloody computer for the rest of the day!
You guys take care, and give a holler if you need anything!

-Carmin

*I don't like to take things out of context, so I will read this book. Don't think there is much chance of having misunderstood this bit, but I'll give it a whirl. What the hell, right?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dream A Little Dream

Love that song;)
No but seriously, have you ever had a dream that was intimately tangible?
Had a rather strange one last night... not sure I want to 'share with the class' yet, so to speak.

Experimenting with a variation on my old Uncrossing bath salts formula. I think the dream/ heightened psychic awareness may have been a manifestation of that. It was the only variable I can pinpoint right now... Taking notes, and fine tuning the formula.
Anyone want to play guinea pig? ;)

Ac is doing the next podcast on Wednesday, with or without me, so it should be up shortly after that. Give us a few days to edit and such.
If the weather keeps up the good behavior, the outdoor classes should be starting up again soon.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Case of Mistaken Identity and News From the Front Line


Photo copyright www.coloradospringsweb.com

So... it turns out that the statue of Hygeia in the center of town isn't Hygeia at all, but Hebe. I always wondered why I got that funny, pissed off feeling from her when leaving offerings at her feet. A case of mistaken identity spanning the course of 118 years, prompted by the man who donated Her to the town, Jerome Wheeler.
Epic FAIL.

I always thought she just didn't like me much. I dunno. There are a few deities that I don't get along with. I've always had a saying: Never work with a god you couldn't have a beer with. So, erm, yeah. I'll be trotting down to the park to make reparations with Her, see how it goes. Laughing my ass off.

Sorry I haven't been active much on the Internet the past week or so; sometimes it's necessary to step back and get some perspective. Tired of the bitchery of forums, message boards, social networks etc. After Occult Forums closed abruptly, with no warning, Ac ran across a similar site, and inquired about advertising. Helped the owner figure out how to set up advertisers in a way beneficial to himself, the advertisers, and the members of the forum. After we all agreed on a set price, the guy pulled a bait-and-switch, and raised the price by 25%, with an additional option to forum members; they could pay $2.00 not to see the ads at all. Nobody wins but the guy holding the wallet :( He then banned Ac from the forum after he objected to this unethical behavior (in a private message, not in the open forum). Yeah.


I need to not hate people right now... need to believe that not everyone is out there to take what they can grab. Miss the garden during times like these. Pulling weeds is excellent therapy!
Tired of New Age attention whores and media-seeking whoopie witches, of people that try to drag others down so they can feel like they've done something with their lives.
So yeah, I'm a bit tired, world-weary, and grumpy right now, but it will pass.

The sale of the month is going to stay up for a few extra days, as there was a glitch with the payment buttons and we had to pull a few all-nighters to get them fixed, and test everything. Geez, didn't realize we had that much stuff, lol. Anyway, I'll be switching over the sales tomorrow night, so if anyone wants to weigh in, just holler!

I've been up to my elbows in herbs, resins, and woods all week, crafting fresh incense, and some of the older formulas are coming down from the shop, mostly the single component formulas. Frankly, I don't think they bring enough to the table. So more blends are going up, as soon as they dry.

Oh, btw, there will be another podcast forthcoming,soon :D

"Bass Ac-Words" is now on line!

Realizing that this blog would suffer (badly), if Ac said everything that was on his mind, we've started a second blog: "Bass Ac-Words"! If you want the skinny and the fat of what's going on through the mind of a "mage" that can't seem to keep his mouth shut, That's where to look!

From the Forum Wars, through bad magical ideologies, and on into "A Kinder, Gentler Ac", check "Bass Ac-Words",

Thanks!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Precious


My sincerest apologies to LOTR for the Photoshopping; by all accounts, this is exactly how I look in the yarn store. ;P

I'm even dreaming about the fiber arts now. Last night, it was a man in a black hat, needle felting in the road. That's what I get for knitting and attempting to learn drop-spindle spinning at 2AM. Gah!
The current project is charm bags. The silk cabled Tarot bag didn't turn out as expected, and another cabled strip is going to have to be added in order to center it properly. Kind of depressing, so it's going to sleep for a bit. Don't want to waste a solid weeks worth of work. Damn #3 needles.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Maceration vs. Essential Oils

It's about time that some herbal information made it up here :P
I'd like to touch on not only the technical difference between macerated and essential oils, but how their effects vary in ritual and spell craft.

Okay, first of all (and most of you already know this), but an essential oil isn't really an oil at all, having little or no fatty substance . By-the-by, if you're buying essential oils from a metaphysical store, and they have a slightly greasy feel to them, more likely than not, they have been cut with grape seed oil, which has no real scent of its own, making it a popular carrier oil. Just a heads up.

Sorry for the detour, just thought that it bore mentioning! Okay, essential oils are the volatile oil/essence/heart of a plant. They can be extracted using steam distillation, alcohol/solvent extraction (necessary for some plants that won't react to steam, or for tough root-based essential oils), or through a labor-intensive process called enfleurage, in which fresh blossoms are delicately pressed into a screen that is first layered with fat. The flowers release the full range of their precious scent as they die, and the fat is scraped and refined. Enfleurage created essential oils, while they tend to be terribly expensive, are also more layered and complex in their scent.

While magical practitioners as a rule, tend to enjoy making their own tools, most of these methods are beyond the scope of the average person. Creating essential oils, even in minuscule amounts, takes a lot of raw plant matter (land, ability to harvest, or access and ability to purchase large amounts of fresh material locally), a large monetary investment in equipment and tools, time to experiment and get a pleasing end result. So many variables go into creating a proper essential oil; scent varies dramatically depending on the time of day that the plants are harvested, heating temperatures during distillation, etc.

Okay. Maceration, in this sense, refers to covering dried plant matter with oil, and allowing it to release it's scent, medicinal, and magical properties into the oil. Anyone with access to dried herbs, or a bit of a garden to grow and dry their own, can do this.The end result varies dramatically, depending on what you are using. Dragon's Blood resin, for example, stains the carrier oil to a brilliant, bloody red almost immediately, and releases its potent scent very well by this method. I recommend a bit of sunlight to help it along.
Others, such as licorice root, have almost no perceivable scent, and if you are using a strongly scented carrier, such as olive oil, may be buried completely.
Don't be ridiculously disappointed if your oils aren't strongly scented. They still pack a magical wallop, and are far superior to those pretty packaged fragrance (read, plastic) oils at the messy-physical store.

A lady recently contacted me about making macerated oils, and said that she was having trouble finding info on it. So, in the interest of helping along the magical herbalist, what follows is a fairly detailed explanation of making oils, and keeping them from going bad:

Sterilize your jars thoroughly. Very, very important. Wash them with antibacterial dish soap, allow them to dry, and then another wash with alcohol. Dry them out with a hairdryer or heat gun. Fill the jar about halfway with your favorite herb, cover with your chosen carrier oil. Use extra virgin, cold extracted oils. Cap tightly, and let it macerate for about a week and strain. If the scent or effect still isn't strong enough for your taste, add fresh dried herbs to the strained oil, and perform the same process over again, until you get your ideal results. During the last straining, add a bit of Vitamin E oil, benzoin, or tincture of benzoin for preservation.

Macerated oils are delightful to use in spell craft, and have a much longer history of use in magic than essential oils do. Hoodoo Condition Oils are traditionally made by this method, though many modern practitioners pump up the effect with essential oils.

Essential oils have gotten a glamorous reputation lately, partly because of their exorbitant cost. Many believe that they are more powerful, as they contain the essence of a plant. Macerated oils are a bit homely, not having the noticeable scent that EOs do. Both are quite effective in spell casting, but layering and tailoring effects is more effective with the soaked versions (they play well with others). They seem to hold a greater amount of energy, and blend well with each other. EO's tend to work very quickly, and are unsurpassed if your intent lies on a highly psychological level; it is similar to the difference of medicinal herbalism and aromatherapy. One isn't necessarily BETTER than the other, except in the condition and the individual they are treating.Magic is nothing if not personal, and specific. Natural perfumery is well worth study; learning which EO's blend well with each other, composing scents based on base, heart, and top notes, as well as using your magical training to tailor intent.

Just please, please, always use the natural varieties. Fragrance oils have no magical power in and of themselves, and whatever results are the outcome, are all you, with a bit of the placebo effect thrown in.

-Carmin

p.s
Almost forgot to mention. There will be an oil or tincture that you will struggle with. Mine was basil. No matter how clean the bottles were, no matter how carefully, thoroughly dry the basil, it would always mold on me. It took me two full growing seasons to master the art of basil tinctures and oils; don't be afraid to experiment until you find what works for you :)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Good Reason To Read A Bad Book

All right, prepare to point and laugh :D

I am currently reading a bad book on Wicca.

Admittedly, there have been some real steaming piles written on Wicca, Witchcraft, and really magic (or magick, or majyck, lol) in all forms. Among certain circles of high-falutin' practitioners, it is a SIN to not only read these books, but to own them *gasp* is reason enough to commit hara-kiri. Not wanting to be considered "fluffy", ill-educated, or simply be criticized by the peers that they hold in high regard, many avoid these books like the Black Plague, and simply carry on the flag of scorn to a new generation, without reading the offending text (thus polluting their pure minds).

My education in the Craft of the Wise has been an odd one; I didn't start out with the "right" books, the "right teacher", or the "right tools". In other words, at the time I was coming into it, I did not have a ton of money to spend on those shiny books with the Llewellyn crescent on them, a giant athame from THAT catalogue, or "properly Witch-y clothes". Yup, someone has actually said that to me before, lol.
My athame is an absolutely ancient extra-long boning knife that I swiped from the kitchen, and painted the handle. I've used it so much that the oils in my hands have made the paint sink into the wood permanently, and I can no longer recall the original color. But the balance is true, and the steel is beautiful. It doesn't look like much, and certainly doesn't have a fancy pseudo-archaeological symbol on it.
I never watched "The Craft". Still haven't, though I'd like to see what the fuss is all about, especially considering that it was the #1 complaint of every Elder in the Pagan community back then... Some girl watches "The Craft", throws on gobs of eyeliner, gets a pentacle that you could beat a mule to death with, and calls herself Wiccan. Those were the days, lol.

So, without access to most of the stock in the local metaphysical bookstore, I got my hands on better books, all by accident. Culpeper's Herbal (found it for sale at my school library) because I couldn't get Cunningham, for example.

The real point of this? I borrowed a copy of "The Grimoire of Lady Sheba" from a friend. This is a much maligned text in popular circles today, but it had a few good points. It's just a matter of stripping away the extraneous bits.


1. It's a bit pompous. Ugh, okay, very pompous. Ignore that bit where the author is Witch Queen of the Universe times infinity, and that the necklace that she owns (never before revealed to the public) is undeniable proof of this fact. Ignore that too.

2. It claims that every spell, rule, law, and recipe in the book is ancient. Ignore that bit, most people during the 70's, and before that, really, tacked that on there to validate (in someone else's eyes) what worked for them. It's set a BAD precedent, with people still claiming that they were taught by mysterious "Gypsy" women, but now is the time that we can get this right. No worries.

3. The recipes. Oh boy...where do I start? The "Witches Flying Ointment" is insanely poisonous in the proportions given, however, the author openly admits that she has never used it.
The majority of the remaining recipes are swiped from the widely inaccurate work by Lewis De Claremont, "The Ancient Book of Formulas" (originally published in 1940). Most of the recipes in that particular text are simple variations on one another. They all contain a rotating pattern of about four of the same ingredients, in different proportions, plus the addition of De Claremont's company's secret Compound/ Bouquet formulas.Which a practitioner had to buy in order to make the recipe for their ritual. Lady Sheba has left out the stock compounds, but printed the others word for word. I don't see a darn word of credit in Sheba's book either.

3.5 Did I mention the recipes? The "Abtina Incense" really sets me off. The Abtina family made the most prized incense in Jerusalem, and would not give the recipe to anyone, even with exhortations from their Rabbi. The incense that they made was offered twice daily in the temple, and the penalty for composing it incorrectly (at the time) was death. Not only must it be composed in the proper proportions, but in the correct total amount, all at once. Certain aspects of the formula have been revealed through oral tradition, but it most certainly did not contain "winters bark", for crying out loud.

Okay, so the good bits.

1.She describes a fair, albeit garbled and over simplified, method for making a topa, or spell thought-form.

2.She says that a Wiccan must keep a clean house *goes to dust the bookshelf*

3.Insists that practitioners keep their word and tell the truth.

4.Gives a good description of the Witches Pyramid, one better than I've heard in a thousand glib literary re-tellings.

5.A decent description of the Eight-fold Path, though, again, it is oversimplified and doesn't touch on the where, why, and how (to what end) a practitioner would use certain methods to achieve a specific altered state.Two pages certainly does not do them justice.

6. Insists that a practitioner should be prepared to perform magic when necessary; Knowing the day, Moon phase, time, planetary hour, and the current ruler ship for each. I approve. Who carries around a stack of correspondences anyway? Know your craft, inside and out.


Okay, okay. I would NEVER, EVER recommend this book for a beginner. It's too easy to take seriously if you have no prior study of magic, and are not able to separate the gems from the poo.

If you consider this book more as one practitioner's use of magic than THE BOOK OF ALL WICCA, then it is an okay read. She put the stuff in that worked for her, and a few other bits to flesh it out, which I don't really agree with, but know that this was kind of expected at the time. What I am really overjoyed to discover is what so many modern authors are using as source material. The "Oh, Duh!" moment. That sentence sounds just like... etc.

Reading a bad book can be a good thing. :P The recognition of concepts buried within a text can be immanently valuable; not to mention that this was the first book that many practitioners got their hands on. It's nice to recognize where people are coming from.
Proceed to point and laugh.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Hit and Run, A Day for Cheap Shots

Do you remember that kid on the playground that would kick you in the shins, and then run crying behind the closest teacher or parent?
I've noticed an odd trend of this kind of behavior among adults. Today, we received a letter through Witchvox, from someone with no account, and who had entered a fake email address, so that I couldn't reply to their cheap shot. I only re-post it here for educational purposes. For the record, there is a big difference between European and Diasporic magical traditions and tools. I mark everything on the site accordingly. Their letter is as follows:
You have the nerve to down folks who are "Not Educated enough in the craft" I saw on
your Wears site



Graveyard Dust (Botanical)



Many plants bear the name "Graveyard Dust" or "Graveyard Dirt". They can be used as
a substitute in almost any recipe calling for the actuality. Wear in mojo and charm
bags to protect against evil and negative energies; to honor ancestral spirits and draw
upon the wisdom of the ancients; or when working with all chthonic deities.





LOL Graveyard Dust or dirt is NOT a plant. It's acuall GREAVEYARD DIRT!



Ahh you MetaFuzzy fools.

Don't even try to understand Hoodoo or conjour. You two
"white-Lite" LOL

My reply follows:

Interesting that you say this; as I wrote in the description, botanical
graveyard dust is not to be used the same way that "Graveyard Dirt" is;
they are two different animals. The botanical form has a history within
European magic, the actuality is used primarily within Diasporic
practices. I find it interesting that you cut out the part where I
said "They can be used as a substitute in almost any recipe calling for the actuality, however Hoodoo
spells call for the real deal".
Seems downright convenient that you left this out; who's point are you trying to prove?

Since
you claim a background in Hoodoo, I'm frankly surprised that you don't
know the difference between the two. Simply because the names are
similar does not mean they are the same thing. If you have been doing
Root work for any length of time, I'm sure you've run across at least
four different plants that share the same name, but are completely
different. If you are interested in actually learning about the
historic traditions, I recommend that you get Harry Hyatt's volumes on
the subject. Perhaps we can speak again when you have put a little more
study into your path.

-Carmin
Lodestone & Lady's Mantle

So, yeah. I sent the letter and got a delivery failure notice. I love answering or debating questions about magical technique. Not so much when they want to kick me in the shins and run away screaming like a child. I've always been careful to distinguish between tools for various Traditions and purposes.
Somehow that isn't enough anymore? It's a bit disheartening, I guess. I approach most practitioners like they know what the hell they are talking about, and
don't need anyone to spell it out for them with pat drivel.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Fire and Ice



A winter that seems to stretch back to the depths of your memories; the world held in thrall by the cruel glittering hand, that squeezes the land and needles your bones.

Imbolc is one of my favorite Sabbats. At times like this, I know how the ancients believed that summer wouldn't come if specific rituals were neglected. I love the pregnant pause before Spring, the dichotomy of fire and ice; the defiance with which we light a blazing glory of bonfires and candles.

The light has grown since the Winter Solstice, but it is almost imperceptible here in the Rockies, where the first signs of Spring still feel a long way off.

Blessings to you and yours on this Feast of Light!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"Vox Lapis: The Voice of The Stone" Episode #1


(For more Podcasts, Click-Over to our "Podcast & Media" Page!)

"Vox Lapis: The Voice of The Stone" Episode #1
"To Know, To Dare, To Will, but NOT Keep Silent!"
(Rated "M", 'cause it has 'Language' in it! ~oooo!~)


The Music List:
Vivaldi's "La Pastorella", from “the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston”
Arwin, with "Bright Outside"
Bluejuice, with "Vitriol"
Brian Sharpe, with "Secret"
Belladonna, with "Foreverland"
Anemo, with "Fallout Renegade"
Megaphone, with "Drama Queen"
Autopilot, with "Mono"
Jonathan Coulton, with "I'm a Mason Now"
Catalog Only, with "Passenger, Say Goodbye"
Uma Floresta, Three Thousand Years (Instrumental)"

If you Are, or Know Someone who wants their Pagan-Oriented Band & Music presented on Vox Lapis, LET US KNOW!!!
Email is in the link, so Tag Us, and we'll Make It Happen!

Monday, January 26, 2009

MY BRAIN HURTS!

No one warned me that you could 'loose it' composing & editing podcasts!

Ac here, and I'm just coming off the first leg of editing instalment #1 of "Vox Lapis: The Voice of The Stone", an irregularly-scheduled 'thingy' we've decided to branch-out into, for the site. Maybe this wasn't such a grand Idea?

I spent many a year behind a microphone, but I never guessed how different it would be from just opening my mouth on the air. Just think of me, trying to say something meaningful AND watch my language!


...so I gave up!
Not the podcast: That's going, as planned. I gave up watching my tounge!
...or holding it.

I tried to "Play Nice", really I did! I think I tried TOO hard. Something snapped, and the frog-prince turned back into a pumpkin, on a scarecrow, in a field of straw, to be spun into gold, as he scares the crap out of the Ravens, the Moonshadows, the Silverhawks, and all of the other "White-Lighter", Addicted-To-"Charmed", Fluffy-Bunnies in Purple Veloure!
(Was that too many metaphores?)

Azzerac

Saturday, January 24, 2009

No More "Mister Nice-Guy"



Ac, here.
If you've been haunting witchvox, you may have seen some of the articles we've posted. We've covered "buy & selling charged components", and what a really,
really Bad Idea it is. We've covered pagan festivals in a manner as irreverent as the festivals themselves. We've even attacked the Naming Conventions & Stereotypes there-in, in a way to make many cringe.
What you didn't know is that there has been a lighter-side to our postings. One you haven't seen.
I'm beginning to think no-one wants to read or post a "Kinder, Gentler Ac". The people proof-reading my posts don't seem to. They don't want the Warm & Fuzzy stuff with my name next to it. They seem to like the Fast, Hard, Mean, Dirty, and Painfully True Insights I have to rant about.
So be it!
I'm waiting to see how it comes up on their page in T-5:00 Minutes! It's a little piece I like to call,
Survivors Guide to the Magical World: “I’m Not With Them”.
If it shows up in the top three posts on the main page, I'll just have to admit my fate.
Tell me what you think!

Yours truly,
The New Rush Limbaugh of the Religious Left,
Azzerac,
Lodestone & Lady's Mantle

Friday, January 16, 2009

And It Goes Something Like This...

Race against the sun to get good pictures (the light dies at 3pm).
Edit, crop, size, and hopefully put them in the right folder.
Write a short piece about each new item, write the code, get it placed properly, make payment buttons, fumble with the new organizing system, shout at least three incomprehensible swear words, have a cigarette.
Realize that you are 10 minutes behind schedule with the upload. Mutter eighteen expletives, some of which are only known in certain remote bits of Australia.To wombats.
Do the upload. Check it on the B machine, only to realize that the stone pictures came out broken. Scream.
Wish for the liquor fairy.
Re-upload all the pictures. Realize that the new herbs that were set in place for a future installment are there, but no one can have them.
Fearful of being branded an herb-tease, you make new buttons. Re-upload. Double and triple check, still with the vague paranoia that you have forgotten something. Growl.
"Where's that damn liquor fairy?!"

Urm, yeah. That's me and web design. The monthly specials are all in place. There is a prosperity and luck theme this month, with Algiers Fast Luck Oil, Green Calcite, Organic Peppermint, and the perennial favorite, kyphi incense. Just because you guys * lurv* it ;) Excellent for chasing away winter doldrums.

Tomorrow, more of the same. The new year brought with it a windfall of beautiful, drool-worthy new stones and crystals, all ethically harvested and mined, like the rest of the collection, and it should be up by tomorrow evening.

Class will be held on Tuesday night, and now that the end of winter is in sight (fingers crossed), the "Power-Walks: Magic in the Great Outdoors" class will begin again.
Hoping for mid-March.
Heck, hoping that more local Pagans actually want to get outside this year. <----Broad hint.

-Carmin

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hacking the brain

Back in high school, my art teacher took us into the gallery and taught a simple way to move into a controlled Alpha state. It was his way of teaching that the mind did not need drugs in order to be creative, surrealistic, or think in abstract ways. That drugs were, in fact, a crutch and a hobble to creativity.
That lesson has stuck with me for many a year. Our dear friend Randolph dug up an interesting article from the Boston Globe, on using mental techniques to overcome pain, create vivid visualizations, and quickly enter dream states. Hacking the brain, so to speak. Or at least reverse-engineering it.

Food for thought :)

Have a great day!

-Carmin

Monday, January 12, 2009

News from the Shoppe



So we're right in the middle of doing a rebuild on the site. When we first put it together, there weren't too many products to worry about. Now... well, it's a different story. The main counter takes too long to load, and apparently, everything is too big. I got a tongue lashing from one of the top web marketers in the biz. Ah, well, that's what happens when someone as nearsighted as me designs a website :P
It's a bit of a daunting task, like fixing up an old Victorian. Where do you start?

So I have temporarily retreated into the peace and safety of crafting. I spent the week whipping up a bunch of fresh candle colors, and am busily making seven knobs in every color of the rainbow. It always annoyed me that the only colors available on the market for specialty spell candles were black, white, green, and red. C'mon! There is something to be said for retrofitting correspondences to your intent, but enough is enough!

There is also a fresh batch of egg candles, just in time for Imbolc, and new crystal candles, Road Opener Oil (a.k.a Abre Camino), but they haven't been added to the main shop just yet. Until the shop is properly organized, I've put them on Etsy to see how people respond. Etsy has been a fun experience. I never sold on the horror that is Ebay (thank the gods!), and it's nice to have a sense of community with others that are hand crafting.

In other news, a friend here in town that had purchased a bottle of Algiers Fast Luck from us ran over shortly after he applied it to tell us that a $15,000 contract had landed in his lap, out of the blue. How's that for a bad ass condition oil?!

The monthly specials are going to be switched over tomorrow morning, and Algiers will definitely be on the list. It isn't one of our more expensive oils, but everyone could use a bit of luck right now!
There is usually at least one stone, an oil, and an herb to the monthly special, but I am a bit stumped right now. Any thoughts on what you might like?

The new year is unfurling beautifully, and we are madly sketching up ideas for the coming months. Stuff for our beloved Kitchen Witches. Bath Salts. More Pagan and Wiccan focused items. I know we are pretty heavy on the Hoodoo formulas right now, and that is totally my fault ;) I love making them and they work.

Ah well, the experiments rage on. Have a great day!

-Carmin