May 30, 2012

Wednesday Thingums

Where words fail music speaks

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May 28, 2012

Of Fallen Warriors and Pentacles

Memorial Day strikes me as an interesting tie-in to ancestor work, as it honors our ancestors who have served in the military and passed.  So on this Memorial Day I honor my great-great-grandfather, who served in WW1 as a motorcycle messenger on the front lines.

So in honor of our pagan ancestors who have served, I'm sharing Celia's song "Symbol" about the pentacle quest.  (For those who may not know about the pentacle quest, it was a 10-year legal struggle, championed by 2 widows of pagan soldiers, to get the U.S. government to add the pentacle as one of the approved symbols for fallen soldiers' gravestones, memorial plaques, etc.  The symbol was finally approved in 2007.)

Memorial placard for Patrick Dana Stewart 

Hail to the ancestors.

May 26, 2012

30 before 31 update


It's been about 6 months since I wrote it, so I thought I'd post a little update about my 30 before 31 list.

Make my blog more awesome and increase readership - working on it!  I moved to a better blogging platform, started a weekly feature to share pagan music, and I've now found a focus for my blog that most inspires me.  I also participated in Bloggiesta in March, which was super helpful. I also contacted someone about working together for a new feature I want to introduce this summer.  I am really proud of myself for doing that, because it was rather out of my comfort zone!

Get my 1st degree initiation - as it turns out, I was denied initiation and I was released from my coven as of March 24.  I'm still regrouping from that.  Right now I need some downtime, so I've been keeping my personal practice low-key, and I'll be avoiding public rituals and other sorts of pagan gatherings for awhile.

Clean out my old room at my parents’ house - I made a big dent when I visited them a few months ago, and found some interesting treasures in the process, like an envelope full of letters from my pen-pals.  Next time I visit I'll tackle some more of those boxes. 

Get a tattoo of the mark given to me by Gwynn Ap Nudd to commemorate finishing my 1st degree - I contacted a tattoo shop recommended by many friends, but failed to follow up on that after the degree kerfluffle.  I really need to contact them again to set up an appointment - I've been getting lots of pokes from Gwynn about that.

Grow my hair long again - well, it's growing.  Slowly.  But I'm actually debating cutting it as a release of the negative energies built up from the brou-ha-ha with my former coven.  (The Barbed Pentacle has an interesting article about hair and energy/magick, but be warned that it is definitely NSFW!)

Start an indoor herb garden - I have a kit, I just need to plant it already.

As much as I love to-do lists, approaching this list with that attitude was actually counter-productive.  I mean, the one thing I was was certain would happen (getting my 1st degree initiation) turned out to be a bust.  So instead I've been trying to approach it more like ideas to help me better my life - and if they don't happen, I'll just re-evaluate whether they even needed to happen in the first place.

May 22, 2012

Pinnably delicious

Hi folks!  Sorry I dropped the ball on this week's Monday Music Break - I've been dealing with a bad fibro flare for several days and haven't had much energy.  I've got a bit of an energy boost right now, so I wanted to share with you some of the fun things I've been pinning lately:

dancing tree
This tree that looks like a dancer.  I'm not sure if it's photoshopped or not, but it's such a powerful, graceful image I don't much care if it is. 

This DIY heart blanket from A Beautiful Mess.  I love crafty things, though I am frequently daunted by projects with a complicated process.  This project is simple and easily customizable (you could easily change the stamp color and shape).

Smitten Kitchen's recipe for broccoli rabe with pasta and parmesan.  I post a lot of recipes that inspire me, but this is one I actually really want to try.  Someone I used to be close to makes this all the time, and it is scrumptious.  Broccoli rabe is a bit of an acquired taste, as it is rather bitter.  How you prepare the broccoli rabe will make it more or less bitter (like how long you blanch it).  Me, I prefer it nice and bitter.  Om nom nom.
corgi and ducklings
Grammar Dalek and baby Dalek!  That's all you need to know, because Joel Watson is a geeky genius.  (Yes, Doctor Who is my favorite show and I do have a mild obsession with it, why do you ask?)

I'm also a bit obsessed with corgis lately.  And ducks.  So when I ran across a corgi leading baby ducklings around in the water, I just about died.

I sure use the tag "I'm a big dork and that's ok" a lot, don't I?  But I'm a big dork, and I know it, so it's okay.

Your turn!  What are some of the fun things you've been pinning lately?

May 15, 2012

Elizabeth Gilbert on Nurturing Creativity

" ‘Ole!’ to you, just for having the sheer human love and stubbornness to keep showing up.” (Elizabeth Gilbert)

I just watched a TED talkby Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, about using some of the old ways to nurture creativity.  She talks about how the Greeks and Romans would ascribe creativity to an outside source (a muse, daemon, or genius) - that instead of 'being' a genius, we all 'have' a genius. This concept would help to buffer the artist from internalizing things like anxiety about doing poorly or not finishing.  


I was really moved by this talk because I tend to feel that much of my creativity does not come entirely from me, but is inspired by Spirit.  I tend to feel overcome by words or music when writing chants, as if they are being given to me by the gods, or being drawn up from something inside me with a little outside help.

May 14, 2012

Monday Music Break: Jenna Greene

My usual playlist just wasn't doing it for me today, so in a fit of near-desperation for inspiration I went to and searched the tag list for "pagan." Among some of the usual pagan artists (SJ Tucker, T. Thorn Coyle), I came across Jenna Green's album Wild Earth Child.  I was drawn to the cover art, and after glancing through the tracklist I clicked play on "Muse" and fell in love.

Jenna Greene.  Used in the principles of fair use.

The page describes the song as such: Explores the relationship between artist and creative spirit that the Celts called “the fire in the head.”  I was looking for inspiration, and I found a song about inspiration.  So...stuff means stuff?

I love the gentle but insistent tempo provided by the bongos and the maracas (or egg, whatever shaky instrument that is).  Her voice isn't perfect, but it's still very lovely and draws you in to her story.  I think I'll add her to my playlist at work tomorrow and see if it brings me any more inspiration.

Also, just a reminder that you can submit your suggestions/requests for the Monday Music Break using the handy Google Form I created

May 11, 2012

Fueling the creative fire

I recently pinned this fantastic list of 29 ways to stay creative.  Most of them are pretty simple, but effective.  And this music blogger would like to point out #9, listen to new music.  Right on!  I listen to music all the time, and I feel like it fuels my creativity.

29 ways to stay creative
I got the list from here:

What are the ways that you fuel your creativity?  Are there any that aren't on this list?

May 7, 2012

Monday Music Break: Björk

Bjork.  Used in the principles of fair use.

On the drive home from work today I had the Sucker Punch album playing, and I was totally rocking out to Björk's "Army of Me."  I felt like I was really vibing with the beats, and the driving guitar riffs, and the annoyance at people who really need to get over themselves.  So guess what today's Monday Music Break is?

Oh yes.  Prepare to rock out, ladies and gentleman.

As far as I'm aware, Björk doesn't define herself as pagan.  However, she has been taking an increasingly pagan-friendly/pro-pagan stance, and she often evokes some pretty powerful pagan/feminist imagery, like the cover of her Volta album.  Sounds to me like music that would appeal to a pagan audience.

And I don't care what anybody says.  I thought her swan dress was FABULOUS, in a deliciously avant-garde sort of way.  I think that's why I like her so much.  She pushes the boundaries of things like music, fashion, and performance in ways that are artistic and experimental, without being pretentious.

Bjork's swan dress.  Used in the principles of fair use.
You only wish you could be this fabulous.
P.S. my boyfriend would tell me I'm terribly remiss in posting about Björk if I didn't include the Björk song by the Brunching Shuttlecocks.  So I shall leave you with a giggle:

May 5, 2012

The lusty songs of birds

goose photobomb

This photo cracked me up so hard I just had to share the giggle.  Duck photobomb!  (I just realized this is the second funny duck photo I've posted.  What is it about ducks that I find so hilarious?)

Today is a really quiet day.  Mostly I've been relaxing with United States of Tara on Netflix streaming, and checking up on the blogs I follow.  

Right now there is a catbird singing outside my window.  At least I'm pretty sure it's a catbird - it hasn't yet made the tell-tale "mew" sound yet.  Mimic birds can be hard to tell apart sometimes.  I can also hear a cardinal, robins, crows, a mourning dove, something making a high-pitched "zee" noise I can't identify, and those damned invasive house sparrows. 

I'm really into bird calls, if you can't tell.  And really good at identifying them, too.  I realized this back in college when I took a bird taxonomy class.  Most of my classmates were good at visual ID, but me, I always focused on the songs.  Maybe it's all those years of musical training that make it easier for me to distinguish things like tone, articulation, melody, timbre and texture, and rhythm and learn to attribute them to different sources.

Thrushes are my favorite bird to listen to.  Their songs are so melodic and complex, like songs of the gods. Here's a video of a Wood Thrush song, which has a delightful echoiness to it when heard in the woods.  They're not as common in the DC 'burbs where I live now, but we used to hear them all the time during our bird taxonomy field trips in Delaware.

Birds sing to attract mates and to mark their territory.  Not unlike the music written by humans, really!
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