Friday, April 24, 2009

Bi-annual Moving of the Altar

Today was my bi-annual moving of the altar. I decreed that it is finally reliably nice enough out for my altar to go into the enclosed front porch. It's so much nicer than having it indoors; I can see the moon at night, hear the outside noises, and feel a bit more isolated from the mundane concerns of my apartment. I would love to keep it out there year round, but it just gets too cold.

Although I've done this move a few times already, this was a day of firsts. Before dragging the altar table out there, I actually vacuumed! I never think to vacuum, but the carpet out there was covered in splintered wood, embroidery threads, and a random pile of dirt, and I thought that my altar deserved better than that. Once the table was situated and I began ferrying supplies, I embarked upon another shocking departure from tradition. As I placed the central item of my altar -- what I consider to be the heart of the altar and which I always place in the center before I move anything else over -- it just didn't feel right. So I took the two necklaces that drape over said item and used them to demarkate specific areas. One now surrounds the central pentacle, and the other has my representation of Freya within it's circle. This represents part of the most radical redesign of my altar in years. I made a few changes following Twilight Covening this autumn, but this is far more involved. I'll try to take a picture to show you all of the differences.

While moving altar items over, I saw that I had been careless with my cauldron and not cleaned it out after it's last use, so I took it into the kitchen to wipe the sooty remains of some long forgotten ritual from it. Except that the remains weren't budging. I suddenly remembered that I had used the cauldron twice without cleaning it out, which I never do. It really shows how careless I had become about spirituality. Because I burn an herb mixture coated in wax, the double use had fused the older remains to the bottom of the cauldron. To get it clean I set it down in a pot of boiling water until enough of the wax had melted that I could easily wipe it clean. This is probably the cleanest it's been in years! I hope I never let it get that bad again. And it was so hot when I took it out that the water immediately evaporated from the cast iron, which is convenient - I'd been worried about it rusting if I didn't get it dry quickly.

In a little while, I will sit down for the first time at my newly redesigned, newly relocated altar to perform a new moon ritual.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Picking Up the Trash

I love sunny days. Here in New England it feels like we get precious few of them, so I try to cherish those that I can by spending time outside, preferable on the local conservation land.

I was happy to be able to ride my 5-speed bicycle. My husband has been slowly renovating it, and it's not quite ready for large, steep hills yet, but the conservation area isn't far. It's so much more fun to ride than my regular hybrid frame! I'm amused that my "new" bike is actually older than I am (it's a Raleigh Superbe from the 70's), but it's really perfect for me.

Once I had locked my bike up and started walking down the path I saw garbage absolutely everywhere, and berated myself for not thinking to bring a bag to pick trash up. I used to be in the habit of always doing that -- heck, in collage that was one of my favorite things to do! Some friends and I would go into the woods on our campus and pick up as much of the trash left by generations of frat boys as we could. We considered it something of a spiritual act - giving back to the land and all that. After 9/11, we worked for some sort of peace by cleaning up the woods with intention. It's a time honored task -- not only does it provide a public service (cleaner wooded areas), but it also forces me to pay more attention to the land, rather than letting myself get lost in my own thoughts.

Lucky for me, it didn't take long before I found a discarded plastic grocery bag, and I began collecting trash. Most of it was the standard assortment of plastic wrappers from junk food, cans and bottles, but I was surprised to find an old rusted screwdriver.

I spent some time sitting by the waterfall, which is a favorite spot of mine. There's a rocky ledge halfway down that can be gotten to pretty easily if you don't mind straying from the path, and from there the roar of the water drowns out the nearby cars (it's not a large conservation area). I love watching the water rushing down and into the meandering stream below. I spent quite some time communing with the land there.

I disposed of most of the collected trash before leaving, but as there was not a separate recycling container I decided to ride home with a doubled up plastic bag full of broken glass bottles and cans dangling from my handlebars. Probably not my best idea, but it seemed wrong to go through all that trouble to clean the woods up and then not recycled what could be recycled.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Not dead, only hibernating

Ok, so maybe hibernating is a strong word for it, but I have been rather distracted for awhile now, both from spiritual pursuits in general and this blog in particular. Some of that was mid-winter depression (which is still hanging around), some genuine busy-ness, and some the simple fact that I am easily distracted, even from things that are important to me.

That said, I am back now. A few weeks ago, a friend mentioned that a faery seership program would likely be starting up in my area soon (well, soon-ish. Someday, at any rate). I happen to have heard the figure in question speak a few years ago, and purchased his book. At the time, I wasn't sure what I thought of him -- his words were compelling, but I had some misgivings. Reading his book didn't help me clarify my feelings, and I had completely forgotten about him. With my friend's news, however, I decided to go back and look at the book again, to see if the intervening 2-3 years might have changed how I responded. And they had -- now I am fairly certain that I am interested in this program. I still find some of his assertions questionable, but I think that his teachings on the whole are likely a good fit for me. In the meantime, I am rereading his first book and actually doing the exercises. This is a rare thing for me! I know that you don't get as much out of a pagan book without doing those, but I rarely manage it. But this time I'm really doing them! I'm finding that not reading the whole book at once helps -- by not getting too far ahead of the last exercise I did, I seem to be more able to keep up.

I'm feeling good about the work I've been doing. I think that early spring is an excellent time for it. Many of the practices need to be done outside, and right now it is just getting to be nice again. And the atmosphere of fledgling growth is a pleasant one to work in, especially while I'm working through yet another bout of depression.