Sep 30, 2012

Fall Bloggiesta Wrap-Up

Bloggiesta finish line

What a great Bloggiesta weekend!  I got all but one of my to-do list items accomplished, and I had a good reason for missing that one:
  • Re-record my Brighid chant so that both parts are in one recording - this didn't happen because of allergy issues that left my voice in pretty rough shape all weekend.  I'll record at a future date when I don't sound so much like Eartha Kitt.*
  • Clean up my Google Reader subscriptions list (again...)
  • Look into installing Disqus for comments
  • Contact Jen about getting her ad for my sidebar
  • Comment on lots other participating blogs and make new blogging friends

I also completed 3 mini challenges:

Due to bad timing, I missed all of the Twitter parties.  Too bad!  Those are really fun.  Next time, next time.

If you are here via Bloggiesta, I hope you stick around!  My blog focuses on neo-pagan music (music by and for the neo-pagan community).  I post a weekly feature called "Monday Music Break" that highlights music by pagan artists on both the local and national scale (I usually feature one artist per week).  I also post the chants I write.  On a more mundane level, I post about general lifestyle stuff, like things from pinterest or pretty nature photos.  Although my blog is pagan music blog, I don't ever want to be pigeon-holed to a purely pagan audience, as I believe the artists I feature can have a much wider appeal - that's part of the reason I started the blog in the first place.

bumblee and firewheel blanketflower

I know most of the bloggers participating in Bloggiesta are book bloggers.  While I am not a book blogger, I am a bibliophile, although perhaps not as avid a reader as I was in high school and college.  I joined Goodreads awhile back so I've been posting reviews of all the books I read on there.  Here's the last few books I've read, if you're interested:

Colleen's bookshelf: read

Dreaming in Cuban
5 of 5 stars true
This book was lovely - poetry in novel form!
Thirteen Reasons Why
5 of 5 stars true
Oh my god. Phenomenal. This book tore me to pieces, slowly with each flip of Hannah's tapes. I still can't believe I didn't cry until the very end. I felt like I could empathize with every false rumor, with every fake friendship, wit...
The Secrets of a Fire King: Stories
3 of 5 stars true
I wasn't a fan of all of the stories in this compilation (especially not "The Rat" - EWW), but I appreciated the compilation as a whole, and I feel like I have a better understanding of Kim Edwards as a writer.
Forever Free
4 of 5 stars true
This is a sequel to The Forever War, and was definitely as good as the original. It was nice to see what happened with Mandella and Marygay, and how they and their fellow vets handled life in a world ruled by Man. Even though this book...

* "Why do we even have that lever?!"

Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: Grade Yourself

Bloggiesta logo 
Smash Attack Reads (which, by the way, is an awesome blog name!) has a really helpful Bloggiesta mini-challenge, Grade Yourself!  It guides you through using a website/blog grader that also gives useful hints on improving traffic and, if your website is for a business (mine is not, obviously), increasing revenue.

I ran my blog through the website grader and got a score of 79.  Based on the action items it came up with, I have a small to-do list for improving traffic.  I decided to share it in case it may be helpful to some of my other readers:
  1. SEO: Add alt tags to my images.  This helps bring traffic from things like image searches on Google.  Update - all done!  With almost 100 posts, most of which have at least one image, it took over an hour to do this, but it was worth it I hope! 
  2. SEO: Figure out if/how I can add page descriptions to each of my blog pages (Pagan Musicians, Chants, etc.)
  3. Social Media: Add twitter/Facebook/G+/etc. share buttons to individual posts.  (Anyone know how to do that?)
I think I may have to do a little more research on this SEO (search engine optimization) stuff!

     4.  Update #2: After some quick research on SEO for Blogger, I'm adding another one that will be ongoing - adding search descriptions.  An explanation of search descriptions is here:

     - You can add a search description for your whole blog.  Go to Settings -> Search Preferences, and click in the text box for "Description" near the top.
     - You can also add search descriptions for each entry - in the post settings, click on "search description" to bring up the search description box

Sep 29, 2012

Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: Blogging Notebook

Bloggiesta logo

One of the things I love about Bloggiesta is that it seems to spark in me a great deal of creativity about blogging and blog design.  I'm sure I'm not the only one.  Reading everyone's to-do lists and mini-challenges and twitter posts gives me so many of my own ideas about what I could do with my blog.

Trish over at Lough, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity posted a Blogging Notebook and Calendar Mini-Challenge for Bloggiesta.  You have the option to participate in either the notebook or calendar part of the mini-challenge, or both.  I decided that writing down all of these ideas I was having (and will probably keep having) would be a great idea for, so I went with the notebook part of the mini-challenge.  I wrote down big ideas for my blog (sort of my "wish list" of things I'd like to eventually accomplish), as well as ideas for blog posts I could/should write in the near future.

Last night I took myself out to dinner at my favorite Thai restaurant in Silver Spring, Thai at Silver Spring.  While I was enjoying a delicious bowl of yellow chicken curry, here's what I came up:

blogging idea list

This was definitely a great exercise, and I really should keep doing it given how helpful it was in the creative process.  I'll probably take this rough list and separate it out into three lists - big ideas, blog posts I should write soon (AKA a post to-do list), and ideas for posts.

Sep 28, 2012

Fall Bloggiesta Kick-off

Here we go!  Bloggiesta time!

Bloggiesta logo  
September 28-30, 2012

I have a very full weekend ahead of me - I have to work today, and then after work I will be driving the 3 hours north to my parents house in the Philly 'burbs.  Tomorrow night is a big family party to celebrate my Dad's 60th birthday, and the 60th birthdays of three of his lifelong friends, so between the party and helping my Mom get ready, most of tomorrow is out.

Phew!  I don't know about you, but I'm tired just writing that.

So, I cheated and got a head start on my Bloggiesta to-do list by taking care of a few things earlier this week.  I figured that way I could focus what little free time I had this weekend on things like mini-challenges, Twitter parties, and checking out/commenting on other Bloggiesta participants' blogs.

Are you doing Bloggiesta this weekend?  If you're not, you totally should - it's so much fun, you learn a lot, and you make lots of blogging friends in the process! :)

Sep 27, 2012

Hey Hecate

Although the Autumnal Equinox has already passed, I still wanted to share my Mabon chant with you all.

autumn leaves

This chant calls to and praises Hecate, who is Persephone's guide down to the underworld as she descends in the fall, and back up as she rises in the spring.  This song was inspired by the goddess herself.  A few years ago, a priestess aspecting Hecate the Crone during in ritual made me promise to write a chant before Samhain (it was the end of September).  And by Samhain, I had written two. 

Yes, you read that right.  A goddess made me promise something - in ritual - in her presence!  My heart definitely skipped a beat, and I had to take a breath and contemplate quickly what that really meant.  And then I couldn't keep her waiting, and I knew it was what I needed, so I made that promise.  Boy has it paid off.

And I realize now that aside from making that promise, I got the whammy from Hecate during that ritual because my crown chakra finally cleared up and my third eye was wide open for months afterward.  It was painful to go through at the time (oh the headaches and crazy visions), but it has really paid off in my psychic development and connection to the divine - and as a result, my chant writing.


Hail Hecate, hey hey hey!
Light your lantern and guide our way.
Hail Hecate, hey hey hey!
Into the darkness, down from the day.

Hail Hecate, hey hey hey!
Light your lantern and guide our way.
Hail Hecate, hey hey hey!
Out of the darkness and back to the day.

Please let me know what you think!

You are free to share my post and use my chants in ritual - and I would love to know that you do!  But please do not reproduce my chants in any way without permission.

Sep 24, 2012

Monday Music Break: The Moors

The Moors
I randomly ran across this group called The Moors, and found their music video for their song called "The Hunter."  The song is so delicious the way it wraps around you, and you just have to love the super low-budget goth music video.

Also, the theme is very appropriate for the Autumnal Equinox, given that the hunter and the wild hunt is often associated with the holiday.

Speaking of the equinox, I guess I should post my Mabon chant for ya'll later this week :)  I've been having trouble with posting mp3 files from Google Drive, so I've thinking of moving my chant files to a site like Soundcloud - does anyone have experience with using that site or a similar site?  I'd love some input on the idea, and maybe some tips and tricks for using the site.

Sep 16, 2012

Bloggiesta Fall Edition To-Do List

Bloggiesta logo  
September 28-30, 2012

I had such a great time participating in Bloggiesta last spring and got some great new readers in the process, so I decided to take part in the Bloggiesta Fall edition, which is in a couple of weeks.  My participation will be a bit limited, since we are having a big birthday party for my Dad and 3 of his friends that Saturday, so I decided to keep my to-do list short and sweet:

  • Re-record my Brighid chant so that both parts are in one recording
  • Clean up my Google Reader subscriptions list (again...)
  • Look into installing Disqus for comments
  • Contact Jen about getting her ad for my sidebar
  • Comment on lots other participating blogs and make new blogging friends!
Who else is doing Bloggiesta in September?  You can find out all about it and sign up over at There's a Book.  Go for it!!

Sep 10, 2012

Monday Music Break: Revel Moon

Things have been so volatile for me lately that I think this week's music break calls for a good mix of fire and water...

The song is "Fire & Water" by Revel Moon.  The group disbanded several years ago, but you may recognize Irene Jericho's voice - she is now the lead singer of Cassandra Syndrome, one of my favorite local bands.  I believe another band member from Revel Moon, Jay, also became part of Cassandra Syndrome. 

Revel Moon

Sep 3, 2012

Monday Music Break: Ogre Dance

Happy Labor Day!  I sure have been laboring all weekend long, trying to finish packing, clean up the old house, and finish moving.  We're...not quite done yet, but almost there.  Our landlord has been very generous in giving us until tomorrow to clear out, since the new tenants aren't moving in until next weekend.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I think I'm getting too old for this moving nonsense!  Next time I'm going to spend the extra money and spare myself the exhaustion by hiring a moving company.  Maybe something that would make me giggle (and maybe provide a little eye candy?) like this moving company I spotted behind my office a few weeks ago:

College Hunks Moving

Anyway, on to the music break!  I need something lighthearted and fun.  How about the "Ogre Dance" by Frenchy and the Punk?  You may also know this group by their former name, the Gypsy Nomads.  I've seen them perform a number of times at pagan gatherings around the Mid-Atlantic region, including assorted Pagan Pride Days the now-defunct Pagan Band Jam.

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