Sep 6, 2013

The Morrigan Sings

Ever since the Conjure Dance at last year's Sacred Space, the Morrigan has been bugging me to write a chant for her for future Conjure Dances and such-like.  So as you can imagine, I've been feeling this chant building in the background for awhile.

Then all at once once night a couple of months ago, she had me light a candle for her, sit down, and then worked through me in the space of about 20 minutes to write it.  It was intense!  I finally remembered to record a cleaner, stronger version of it 2 weeks ago.  Those of you who follow my Facebook page probably already saw this when I linked up to my SoundCloud that same day.

This chant was written specifically with possession/drawing down/aspecting in mind, but it would also be a great chant to request her aid for things like self-empowerment or dealing with anger.

The Morrigan Sings
Calling through the dusk on the wings of black birds,
The Morrigan knows!
The Morrigan sings!

She cries out her fury and her fury is mine,
The Morrigan cries!
The Morrigan screams!

She grabs at my hands and her strength becomes mine,
The Morrigan laughs,
and then we both sing! 

What do you think?  Does this speak of The Morrigan that you know and work with?  Is this the kind of chant you'd use in ritual?
(c) Colleen Beaty.  You are free to share my post and SoundCloud widget, and to use my chants in ritual - and I would love to know that you do!  But please do not record or otherwise reproduce my chants in any other way without permission.

Sep 4, 2013

Guest Post: How to Make a Custom Witch Tool Box

Today I'm bringing to you a guest post by my dear friend Annie of the newly-formed Seekers of the Wild Heart coven.  Annie is going to show you how to make a cushioned, decorated box for your witchy tools.

I've been searching for a box to keep all my tools in, and, more importantly, transport them. I have a very pretty, custom-made ceramic chalice and a rather delicate glass pentacle, and was concerned about taking them outside the apartment for ritual. When I searched for boxes for ritual gear, though, many of them were quite expensive and even more simply didn't fit my tools. My wand alone is 19 inches long, which meant it just didn't fit in most boxes.

For this project, I spent about $40 in supplies (some of which can be used again). Your mileage may vary, depending on the size of box you use and which of the supplies you already have on hand. It took about one solid day of off-and-on work (lots of time was spent waiting for things to dry), plus an evening.


- A plastic box that will fit all of your tools, allowing at least 1" on each side and at least an inch (preferably more) between each tool (lay your tools out on the floor and measure the space they consume). I found this one for $10 at the Container Store
- Plenty of paper and ink in your printer
- Hairspray (a travel-size one will work fine, if you don't already own any)
- Mod Podge - the 8 oz. container should suffice
- Some popsicle sticks for removing the occasional air bubble
- A small foam brush (available at Michael's for about 50 cents)
- Krylon crystal clear acrylic coating
- Enough sheets of 1" thick foam to fill the box (I used two packages of this)
- X-Acto knife
- 1 yard of satin or other fabric you wish to line the box with
- Needle and thread (color does not matter)
- Duct tape


1. Find and collect dozens of images from Pinterest (or elsewhere) that evoke your deities, the elements, whatever you choose, then arrange those pictures in a word processor or graphic design program and print them. Err on the side of gathering too many images, rather than too few. You'll have a lot of surface area to cover. You can always save the extra images for another project. I ended up printing 22 pages worth of images, and just barely had enough.

2. Spray each printed page with hairspray to make sure the ink doesn't smear when you apply the glue to it later. Let each sheet dry separately for 15 minutes or so.

3. Cut or tear each image into the shape you want (I did boxy shapes for the earth pictures, flowy, irregular shapes for the water pictures, spiky shapes for the fire pictures, and smooth, even, round shapes for the air pictures, for example).

3. Wash your box box thoroughly with soap and water and allow it to dry fully for a few hours.

4. Arrange the pictures on the box the way you like. I covered both the lid and the sides of my box with images, putting the earth images on the top part of the lid and the side adjacent to it, the air images on the right part of the lid and the side adjacent to it, the fire images on the bottom part of the lid and the side adjacent to it, and the water pictures on the left part of the lid and the side adjacent to it. But of course, you can do whatever pleases you!

5. Remove the pictures a few at a time, painting Mod Podge onto the box with the foam brush in an even layer, then smoothing down the pictures and coating the top of them with Mod Podge. You may need to use a popsicle stick to press out the occasional air bubble, but be gentle, as the paper tears easily.

6. After all the images are arranged and glued on, paint one more layer of Mod Podge over the top, and allow the box to dry for at least 15 minutes.

7. Apply another couple of layers of Mod Podge, letting the box dry for at least 15 minutes between each application.

8. Once the box is totally dry, spray it with Krylon crystal clear acrylic coating and allow it to dry again. I ended up doing three coats of Krylon, allowing it to dry for 15-30 minutes between each coat, but one coat may suffice. Just add coats until you're happy with the texture.

9. Cut and arrange the foam to fit precisely inside the box. I ended up with five layers of one-inch-thick foam, each layer consisting of two pieces of foam (because no one sheet was wide enough to fill the box).

10. Remove the top layer of foam and set it aside. That'll be the part that gets stuck to the lid of the box.

11. Arrange your tools on the top layer of foam that's still in the box, allowing at least one inch of space on each side and between each tool. Using a Sharpie or pen, trace around each tool (you may have to press the tool into the foam a bit to get a good trace). Remove the tools from the foam.

12. Using the X-Acto knife, cut along the trace lines through the first layer of foam. For tools that require more depth, once the hole is cut, trace within the hole using your pen or marker and cut that layer with the X-Acto knife. Repeat until the hole is deep enough, but allow at least 1" of foam at the bottom that is untouched.

13. Nestle your tools within the holes you created to make sure they fit okay. Make any adjustments needed.

14. Take your fabric and cut it into two pieces - one that will wrap around the reserved layer of foam (it doesn't need to fully cover the back, but it should wrap around each side and have enough left over to be tacked onto the back), and one that will lay over the foam that's been carved. Be sure to allow enough fabric on the latter for it to fill each hole you've cut for the tools and still have enough to tuck into the sides of the box.

15. Take the piece of fabric that goes into the box and lay it over the foam, pushing it into the holes and tucking it into the sides.

16. Take the remaining piece of fabric and wrap it around the reserved layer of foam. Holding it in place, use wide stitches to stitch the fabric to the foam, being sure not to go all the way through the foam (you don't want your stitches to show on the "good" side).  Stitch all the way around, paying particular attention to the corners.

17. Roll strips of duct tape so that both sides are sticky, then arrange them onto the inside of the lid. I used about a dozen strips to do this.

18. Press the stitched side of the top foam piece to the duct tape, making sure it's aligned in the center of the lid.

All done! Put your tools into the nice, fabric-lined holes, put the cushioned lid on top, and you're good to go.

Aug 18, 2013

Two Years

My 2-year blogiversary slipped by quietly last Wednesday - I had actually plum forgotten it was coming up.  Since I did not at all plan out what I would do for my blogiversary, I think I will forgo the more celebratory post of my 1st year on this blog, and just say...

Happy 2nd blogiversary to Heartache Into Beauty!

Yes, that bobblehead has been #VandalEyes'd by my father.  Twice, actually.  You can't see it, but underneath the giant googly eyes on the glasses, there are also smaller google eyes underneath the glasses. 

My thoughts of celebrating my blogiversary this year are dampened because I am feeling uncertain of the merits of posting to this blog with the frequency or earnestness I had been over the previous year.  You may have noticed a decrease in posting over the summer.  I'm starting to feel that, after 2 years, my blog is not providing the value to the neopagan community that I wish it were.  I've tried to use it to promote the neopagan music scene, and yet my Monday Music Break posts - what I feel is the meat of my blog - receive the fewest comments and hits.  Honestly, most of my hits are for my more ridiculous posts about things like llamas.

Don't worry - I am not quitting blogging!  Music feeds my soul, and I want to share my love of pagan music with my community.  I also want to share the music I write, however infrequently that happens.  I think I just need to know how to do it in a way that people actually want to read and respond to.

I'd really like your feedback on what I can do to spark your interest in visiting and engaging with me on my blog.  Is there something missing from my MMB and chant posts that you'd like to see?  Are you having trouble listening to the songs?  Is there another facet of the pagan music scene you'd be more interested in, like music reviews or interviews with pagan artists?  Do you prefer my non-musical posts?

Aug 5, 2013

Monday Music Break: Queen of the Grudge

I've been feeling a bit out-of-sorts lately, so tonight I decided I needed something a little odd and maybe a little melancholy to match my odd mood.  I once again check out the "pagan" tag on Bandcamp and found this interesting self-titled EP by gypsy-folk duo Pisces Rising.  Pisces Rising consists of Arielle Bryant and Austin Moss, two established singer/songwriters and poets based in North Carolina.  

Pisces Rising
The song I picked from their EP is called "Queen of the Grudge."  The funky little guitar and contemplative vocals just really fit what I needed from my music today.

Right now they're offering downloads of their EP, with the option to "name your price" for the download (it can be $0).  I just sent them a few bucks in appreciation for such great music, and I'm looking forward to listening to it lots in the future.

Aug 3, 2013

Not Alone

I wrote this chant in 2011 at my then-tradition's annual retreat.  It was given to me by our tradition's tool while I was working alone with it in the Great Circle.  I was so excited and energized I actually ran into the house and asked if anyone had a phone or computer I could record it on.  J was sweet and let me use his phone to make a quick recording of it so I wouldn't forget it later.  And then when I got home I promptly forgot I had even written it.  That's channeling headspace for you.  When I dove back into chant-writing a few months ago I found that rough phone recording, and today I finally decided to record a cleaner version of it for ya'll.

Whoop there it is!

It's a simple little tune, but I really like it for its message of hope from the Goddess.

Not Alone
You are not alone.
You are in my hands.
Hear my words and find your way back. 

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 record or otherwise reproduce my chants in any other way without permission.

Jul 17, 2013

Fire spinning show!

One-Eyed Mike spinning fire staff

Blackjack spinning rope dart

flaming hula hoop

Last week I went to watch a local fire-spinning group called Stupid Things with Fire perform over at my favorite haunt, Piratz Tavern.  And as I always do at Tavern, my fellow pirates and I had a great deal of fun hanging out, and eating and drinking delicious things.

big jerk chicken - NOM!

And check out the videos I took during their performance!  This first one is of The Mad Scientist (AKA "Leather Pants" and my favorite satyr-boy) spinning fire staff and Joe (AKA "Other Guy" because, well, he's new and we forgot his name) spinning columnar poi.

And here's part of Thud's performance.  He breathes fire!  It is surely the stupidest thing you can do with fire, but it sure is spectacular.  The heckling you hear in the background is Blackjack and One-Eye doing their Statler & Waldorf routine, with the crowd joining in.

Jul 15, 2013

Monday Music Break: Starbound Beast

Music fans may have already heard that Huntress released a new album, "Starbound Beast" a couple of weeks ago, and will be touring the US and Canada all summer.  (Unfortunately, the closest gigs to me are several hours away in Pennsylvania, so I'm probably going to miss this tour.  Tempted to gather a few folks for a road trip...any takers?)

Huntress is a female-fronted, occult-themed metal band.  According to their site, they thrive on thundering drums, heavy riffs, spectral solos and catchy choruses that come from the band‘s musical concoction of occult science and bong rips. HUNTRESS remains true to the roots of melodic heavy metal with a penchant for thrash, death and black metal.  Love it.

So I decided this week to share a song from their new album, because seriously this music is just sick.  Check it out!  This one is called "Zenith."

And a bonus song from their new album, because damn, I do love me a hot chick who can growl on that mic.  But who doesn't, right? :)  This is the title track, "Starbound Beast."

Jul 1, 2013

Monday Music Break: Arrowsmith's Fire

Oh sadness.  After today, Google Reader will be shut down for good.  So long, Google Reader - we'll miss you!

Sad Doctor Who
David Tennant is also sad that Google Reader is going away.

Ah well.  On to new and shinier RSS readers, like Feedly!  I do love how pretty it is, and its functionality has improved greatly now that they have so many new users flocking to their service.  What feed reader have you settled on?

So in looking for a pagan musician to feature this week, I poked through the pagan tag on Bandcamp and found a group called In Gowan Ring.  Some of the music has a bit of an experimental vibe to it, but when I read the band's description I instantly resonated with this line: "It shows a man on his journey, incarnating the music of his soul."  I just love that.  It feels just like what real music is all about.

Have a listen to one of their tracks, "Arrowsmith's Fire," which is on their EP titled "The Glinting Spade."

Jun 26, 2013

Life Lately

tea, Earl Grey, hot
giant strawberry!
Miss Gay Arlington 2013 at the Capital Pride Parade
Spontaneous dance party at the 2013 Capital Pride Parade

A big mug of Earl Grey tea to start the morning // The biggest strawberry I have ever eaten! // Miss Gay Arlington 2013 at the Capital Pride Parade // I went to a gay pride parade and a spontaneous dance party erupted (imagine that! ;)

Excited about...
The new chant I just wrote on Sunday!  It's been almost 2 years since I wrote any kind of music and it felt AMAZING to channel deity and compose again.  It's a chant I wrote for with the Morrigan, that she's been asking for since Sacred Space.  Once I record a cleaner version I'll post it up here :)

Looking forward to...
The annual picnic for a local pagan social group I belong to is on Saturday.  There's going to be crafts, canoeing, lots of good food, maybe a ritual, and maybe drumming?  I haven't been to many events, but I know a few folks in the group, and I'm looking forward to meeting the others I don't yet know. I think it will be a great time!

I recently finished reading Dingo by Charles de Lint.  It's a YA novel in his "Newford" series, about 2 teenage boys who fall in love with twin teenage girls who are, for lack of a better word, were-dingos, and they all have to work together to save the girls from a big bad.  Delightful characterization for such a short novel, and while it's definitely YA in tone, it was still so wonderfully de Lint.

I've actually been thinking about cross-posting my reviews of pagan-y books from Goodreads onto my blog.  Is that something you would be interested in seeing on here?

It's been a long time since I've picked up a needle and thread - over a year, I think.  But I finally started a new cross-stitch project!  I overcast the fabric a week or so ago, and spent several hours stitching last night.  It was delightful.  I sure needed my zen back.  I can't wait to keep working on it!

What I'm loving online right now...
* Unless you're living under a rock, I'm sure you've heard by now that today the SCOTUS struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Prop 8!!  I cried ample tears of joy and relief this morning.  Love between consenting adults is always legitimate, and finally the federal government has begun to recognize it.
* Elizabeth over on Delightfully Tacky talks about the myth of bloggers' seemingly "perfect" lives.
* Anna on And Then We Saved has a great list of 17 things to do today that will make you proud of yourself in a year.
* This tumblr never ceases to make me laugh my a** off, especially now that it's wedding season.
* Teo on Bishop in the Grove has a great post about building a contemplative practice.  I really love the tree graphic - I might have to post that up on my wall near my altar.

* And of course, I continue my obsession with bunnies!

Jun 24, 2013

Monday Music Break: How Soon is Now?

A friend of mine was asking on Facebook yesterday about where to find the full version of the Charmed theme song.  And it got me to thinking about theme songs to "pagan" TV shows.  Most of these theme songs are not by pagan artists, but we still come to associate them with pagany themes because of their association with these TV shows.  So I feel like these theme songs would fall under the banner of the pagan music scene because while they are not written by the pagan community, they are definitely for the pagan community through their association with these shows.

Take, for instance, this song - a cover of "How Soon Is Now?" by Love Split Love (also called the Psychedelic Furs).

The band isn't pagan, and there isn't anything particularly pagan about this song.  When you listen to it, you probably instantly think of witches, a big hand-drawn Book of Shadows, energy balls, rhyming spells, and demon fighting with "the Power of Three," amiright?  (It's the full version of the Charmed theme song, in case you're not familiar with the show.)

Charmed - Piper, Phoebe, & Paige
I found this from the Lulu's blog, but I don't know the original source :\

Of course, I still prefer the original version by The Smiths. You just can't beat Morrissey's distinctive voice.

What's your favorite theme song to a neopagan-y TV show?  Tell me about it in the comments!

Jun 3, 2013

Monday Music Break: Fee Ra Huri

When I was looking for a song for this week's Monday Music Break, I thought I was in the mood for some more neopagan metal.  Then I watched a video of a pagan group called Omnia performing live.  Their punky, primal dress and hair and stage attitudes really appealed to me this evening.


According to their website, Omnia's musical message is about respect for nature, personal liberty and freedom of thought, and expression for all.  I really vibe with their attitude towards music, religion, culture, etc. - that "nothing is sacred, only nature."  They also openly define themselves as pagan, incorporating a modern pagan spirituality into their music and performance.

I particularly liked their stage presence in this live recording of "Fee Ra Huri" so I thought I'd share it with you all today.  Enjoy the primal punkiness!

May 20, 2013

Monday Music Break: Dragon Ritual Drummers

You know what?  Today I need some drums in a serious way.  And so do you.

Dragon Ritual Drummers

What, you don't believe me?  Take a listen to today's Monday Music Break. The song is "Masters of Chaos," by the Dragon Ritual Drummers.  There is some serious spiritual power behind this song that I can't quite put my finger on.  Listening to this song I kind of just want to put it on a loop and dance myself into a trance. 

See?  I told you that you needed some drums :)

May 18, 2013

Daughter of the Dagda

Oooo, look, I am on Soundcloud now!  I was growing increasingly frustrated with the difficulty of sharing my chants from my Google Drive.  On the other hand, Soundcloud makes it so easy to share original recordings of music, podcasts, etc., so I am never going back.

Today I was struck with the sudden urge to start writing and making music, but I am still feeling a great deal of "musician's block" when it comes to chant writing.  So instead of starting on something fresh, I decided to (FINALLY) go back and re-record my old Brighid chant, which I wrote several years ago.  It's a 2-voice chant, and while I had recordings of each part on separate files, I had just never gotten around to recording both parts onto one file.  While recording the parts I also made a few much-needed tweaks.

This chant calls and praises the goddess Brighid for all of her accomplishments, and sings of some of her familial relationships.  I remember struggling quite a bit with the melody and structure on this one, and it finally came to me while I was spacing out in the shower.

Normally I would post this around Imbolc, but that is many, many months away!  It seems almost ridiculous to schedule a post that far ahead.  So here you go - I guess, think of it as an early Imbolc present :)

I also wanted to share the 1st voice / bottom part of the chant as a solo recording.  I wanted you all to be able to hear it a bit more clearly, and I also think it would make a fine chant by itself.

Daughter of the Dagda

1st voice / Bottom part:

Daughter of the Dagda
Sister of Aengus
Wife of Bres the Beautiful
Mother of Ruadan

(repeat x1)

2nd voice / Top part:
You gave us keening
You smith the gold
You inspire poetry
You heal our souls

You are the flame
That burns from within
Now  we call to you
As the wheel spins

Please let me know what you think! © Colleen Beaty.  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 record or otherwise reproduce my chants in any other way without permission. 

May 15, 2013

Make a Song Out of Your Affirmations

I mentioned on my Facebook page recently that I can feel a new chant percolating in the background.  I'm not sure what it will be about yet.  I've embraced several affirmations for 2013 and they've been really helpful to me.  Maybe I should try to use one or more of my affirmations as inspiration/lyrics for a chant, like the graphic says. 

The Morrigan has also been poking at me to write a chant for her specifically for use at the Conjure Dance.  I've never written a chant specifically designed to facilitate trance, but I am up to the challenge :)

So I know I haven't been posting much on here lately.  I've been living life!  Real life > the internet ;)  I've been doing things like dating, seeing my high school friend and her sweetheart get married, live tweeting American Idol, getting new glasses, and hanging out with my amazing, genuine friends at Piratz Tavern.  Work has also been keeping me pretty busy.  Trying to keep a work-life-health balance has been a bit more challenging than it was over the winter.

May 8, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Dr. Horrible 

If you don't get the reference, it's one of the many hilarious lines from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.  If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it!  There's great music, villains who often fail to be evil, a hero who's not so heroic, and the ever-adorkable Felicia Day!

May 1, 2013

Happy Beltane :)

Happy Beltane!  Today's weather was absolutely perfect for the joyful spirit of Beltane.  The sky was clear and bright blue, and the sun was gently shining.

I took a walk after work in the sunshine to pick up my new glasses.  I am so excited to finally have these.  I haven't had my eyes checked in 7 years, and my prescription changed.  Two little diopters makes a world of difference in clarity.  I can see again!!

Also, I think I look pretty cute in them :)

new glasses!

As the fire festival of Beltane has been approaching, I've really been in the mood for a drum circle with lots of dancing and chanting.  Unfortunately, I am at a loss as to where to go for this sort of thing or who to get in touch with.  Any DC/Maryland locals have some tips?

Thud of Stupid Things with Fire blowing a fireball
Did someone say fire? ;)

Apr 29, 2013

Monday Music Break: Der Hölle Rache (Queen of the Night Aria)

Today is an opera kind of day.  I woke up with a strong desire to listen to opera, particularly "Mi Chiamono Mimi" from La Boheme.  So on and off all day I've been listening to divas like Maria Callas, Angela Gheorghiu, Maria Aleida Rodriguez, and Valentina Nafornita.

When I remembered it was Monday and time for another Monday Music Break, I began wondering about whether any parts of opera could be considered part of the pagan music scene.  Are there pagan themes in classical opera?  Are there any modern-day operas written for a neopagan audience?

The answer to the first question is yes, there are lots of classical operas with pagan themes!  The Greenman wrote a fabulous three-part series about pagan themes in classical opera.  It's quite detailed, but fascinating!

One of the operas he mentions is The Magic Flute by Mozart.  The play takes place in a temple of Isis and Osiris, centered around a series of bizarre initiation rituals.  The Queen of the Night is another name for the goddess Isis.  An opera featuring a goddess in a major role?  It doesn't get much more pagan than that!

Isis, the Queen of the Night - The Magic Flute

I've yet to see The Magic Flute (*sadface at how expensive opera tickets are*).  However, the Queen of the Night's second aria, "Der Hölle Rache," has long been one of my favorite arias to listen to, ever since my Pop-Pop gave me a CD with this song and a number of other famous pieces opera music.  So I'd like to share this gorgeous and delightfully pagan piece of opera with you all today.  This performance is by Diana Damrau of the Royal Opera House.

I must say, I am envious of coloraturas like Diana Damrau who can sing this - it's so gorgeous, but gosh are those notes high!  Even when I was taking voice lessons I could never sing like that.

So far I haven't been able to find any modern-day operas with neopagan themes, but I shall keep looking.  If you are aware of any please let me know in the comments, or shoot me an email!

Apr 15, 2013

Monday Music Break: Man to Man

Wow, guys.  I am sort of speechless and so very saddened at what happened at the Boston Marathon earlier today.  I just cannot comprehend why people enact such terrible violence on their fellow human beings just to make a point.

I think pagan musician Matt Morris had such a grace-filled response on Twitter, so I wanted to share it:

I've been struggling all afternoon about what song to post for this week's Monday Music Break, in the wake of this tragedy.   I listened to a few artists and was drawn to this pretty harp-filled song called "Man to Man" by Lorelei Greenwood.  It is from her first solo album, "Allure."
Lorelei Greenwood

I first found Lorelei's music when, many years ago, I was searching for chants to use in my practice and stumbled across her website.  She has written many truly beautiful chants that I still keep in my chant repertoire to this day.  She is currently working on two other albums set to release this year, so keep your eyes out for more of her musical awesomeness.

Apr 1, 2013

Monday Music Break: Swimming to the Other Side

Happy Monday everyone!  What fun things did you all do over the weekend?

I spent yesterday doing some heavy spiritual work with a friend, so right now I feel the need for a nice, lighthearted song that calls upon the energies of water.  Elaine Silver's song "Swimming to the Other Side" feels like a nice fit for that today.  She has a lovely voice that isn't the strongest, but still carries some wonderful energy behind it. 

It looks like Elaine doesn't describe herself as pagan - at least not on her website - but I can see how she appeals to many pagans because she works with faeries and her music has recently evolved into what she calls a "Metaphysical Musical Ministry."

Elaine Silver

Mar 29, 2013

Life After Google Reader

Now that Google Reader is going the way of the Dodo, and Google Friend Connect is rumored soon to follow in its wake, I guess it's time to start exploring alternative ways to follow your favorite blogs.  I think I've settled on Feedly, but there's lots of other good options out there.

I thought I'd compile a quick post to help you figure out how to follow Heartache Into Beauty after the demise of Google Reader.

Bloglovin' is a way to follow other blogs and see them all in one place.  It's like a cross between GFC and a feed reader.  With Bloglovin', bloggers claim their blogs on the site, and then people follow them.  It's got a bit more privacy for followers, because as far as I know I can only see how many people are following me, but not who.  Click the button below to follow me on Bloglovin':

Follow Heartache Into Beauty on Bloglovin

Networked Blogs
Networked Blogs is similar to Bloglovin' in that bloggers claim their blogs, and then others follow them.  And like Bloglovin', you can read all of the blogs you follow from your profile page.  In this case you follow blogs using your Facebook account.  You can follow me on Networked Blogs using the widget below:

Feedly and other Feed Readers
If you are already using Google Reader, Feedly will automatically migrate your Google Reader subscriptions if you switch over before July 1 when Google Reader shuts down.  Check out their article with tips for Google Reader users migrating over to Feedly.  It's super easy to migrate, and only requires logging in with your Google account.

Most of the other feed readers that I've encountered will require you to download your subscriptions via Google Takeout, and then upload that file to your new service. 

If you're not already following me on Google Reader and want to add me to your RSS subscriptions, you can use the RSS feed for my blog to subscribe with the service of your choice:

RSS feed for Heartache Into Beauty

In case you missed my post a few days ago, I just created a Facebook page for Heartache Into Beauty.  I would love it if you "liked" my page!  I set up my posts to syndicate to my Facebook page, so when  I post on here it will show up on in your Newsfeed. You can "like" my Facebook page using the widget below:


And of course, I am on Twitter. My posts are syndicated to Twitter via, and I also post lots of other fun stuff during the week, like live-tweeting during American Idol :)

Mar 27, 2013

More Reviews of Sacred Space

Hey ya'll!  I am so excited to tell you that my blog was quoted on Witchvox recently.  Caroline Kenner, one of the organizers of Sacred Space, wrote a fantastic overview of this year's conference.  With my permission she quoted from my review of the conference,* as well as several other folks' reviews.

A few other bloggers have written reviews of this year's Sacred Space Conference as well.  Some of these reviews are quoted in Caroline's article.  Go check them out and leave them lots of comment love!
  • The Pink Pagan Priestess talked about how the conference helps break through the "Wiccan wall" and had a number of take-away thoughts from the workshops and rituals Sacred Space, many of which were also pretty key lessons for me as well.
  • Maria over at It's All Elemental wrote about our roles as lifetime students, and how wonderful it was to see students learning from teachers, teachers learning from other teachers, and teachers learning from students.

*Caroline refers to me in the article as a member of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, but if you've been following me for a little while you'll know I left the Assembly a year ago and am now a solitary.  I've requested a correction, but I'm not sure if that's possible on Witchvox.  Just wanted to mention that in case anyone was confused.

Mar 24, 2013

Bloggiesta Spring 2013: Wrap-up

bloggiesta finish line

Well, Bloggiesta officially finishes up tonight.  I didn't complete all of my goals, because my social calendar got very busy and real life is more important than the internet :)  I still had a lot of fun and definitely added to my blogging tool kit.  Here's how I did!
  • Create a graphic banner for my Monday Music Break weekly feature - It didn't happen, but I'd like to do this soon.
  • Re-record my Brighid chant so that both parts are in one recording, and then schedule a post with the chant and lyrics  - and....still didn't happen.  I'm giving myself until the end of the month to do this, but I may just give up the ghost on this one and post both parts as separate files.
  • Schedule a post about where to find me after Google Reader dies - done!  Look for my post on Friday morning.
  • Get all of my photos from the last few months off my camera and onto my computer, sorted and edited - mostly done.  The photos are off my camera and sorted into folders.  I think I will leave editing to when I actually use them in my blog, etc.
  • Look into starting a Facebook page for my blog - done!  My new Facebook page is here, please "like" it, and feel free to share it with any of your friends who may also enjoy reading my blog!
  • Participate in at least one of the Bloggiesta Twitter chats - I took part in Saturday morning's twitter chat and learned a whole lot :)  I also gained a few new twitter followers and followed some cool new people in return. 
I also participated in the Promoting Your Blog on Facebook mini-challenge hosted by Liza of Sockets and Lightbulbs.  This challenge was from a previous Bloggiesta, so I did it purely for learning's sake. 

How did you do in completing your Bloggiesta goals?  Did you have fun?

Mar 23, 2013

Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: Facebook

Liza over at Sockets and Lightbulbs just updated a great mini-challenge from last year that also accomplishes one of my Bloggiesta goals.  The challenge was to use Facebook to promote your blog, either by adding a "Like" button at the bottom of every post, or by creating a page for your blog.

My goal had been to create a Facebook page.  I actually made the page on Thursday night and invited a few friends to like the page.  I also set up Networked Blogs to syndicate my blog to the page, to make it easier for folks to be alerted to new posts.

So, for the grand introduction, here is my new Facebook page for Heartache Into Beauty!!  Please "like" it if you are so inclined by clicking the button below :)

Mar 21, 2013

Kicking off Bloggiesta for Spring 2013

Bloggiesta starting line
Image via
It's time for another Bloggiesta!  This next round runs from March 22-24, and I'm excited for another chance to work on my blog and add to my blogging skills!

For those of you who are new, Bloggiesta is a weekend-long blogging party that encourages you to make improvements to your blog, check off items on your blog's to-do list, and otherwise learn new and awesome things about blogging.  It's primarily aimed at book bloggers, but all bloggers are invited. 

Once again my social calendar for this weekend is a bit full, so I'm not going to push myself to do more than I have time for.  Here's my to-do list for Bloggiesta and the immediate future:

  • Create a graphic banner for my Monday Music Break weekly feature
  • Re-record my Brighid chant so that both parts are in one recording, and then schedule a post with the chant and lyrics (I've put this on my Bloggiesta to-do list twice and then not done it.  Third time's the charm?)
  • Schedule a post about where to find me after Google Reader dies
  • Get all of my photos from the last few months off my camera and onto my computer, sorted and edited
  • Look into starting a Facebook page for my blog
  • Participate in at least one of the Bloggiesta Twitter chats

Who else is participating in Bloggiesta?  Leave me a link to your to-do list and I will cheer you on! :) And if you haven't already, you can sign up over at

Mar 18, 2013

Monday Music Break: Awakened Soul

breathe in deeply of the sacred all around
The lyrics (c) Sharon Knight & T. Thorn Coyle

I was totally stumped about what to post for today's Monday Music Break, and then my friend reminded me of a chant she really likes called "Awakened Soul" by Sharon Knight and T. Thorn Coyle.  It's from their chant album Songs for the Strengthening Sun.

I first learned this chant the first time I attended Sacred Space, which was 4 years ago I think.  Thorn taught it to us during one of her workshops, using it to wake us up and sync our energies at the beginning of the class.

Given my personal origins with the chant, and the theme "the sacred all around," it seemed very apropos to post this chant in the wake of this year's Sacred Space Conference.


Mar 17, 2013

Sacred Space 2013

This was my third year attending the Sacred Space Conference, an annual conference run by the Sacred Space Foundation.  The conference is most definitely aimed at intermediate to advanced level practitioners, and I believe it raises the bar for other pagan events with its high-quality, high-level presentations and rituals.

Ever year I am blown away by what I learn, and the revelations I have, and the internal transformations that occur.  I already discussed last week how this year, the weekend became a process of self-empowerment and moving on from loss.  And  I remember the first year I attended (which was maybe 4 or 5 years ago?), the conference became an exercise in finding and developing my personal power after I received a shamanic healing from Caroline Kenner.

The two big highlights of the conference for me were the Ocacular Seidh on Thursday night and the Conjure Dance on Friday night.  The Ocacular Seidh involves a ritual journey to the Norse underworld where the Seeress can answer questions from those in the ritual.  I felt a powerful need to ask a question of the Seeress, and received an unexpected answer that affected me quite powerfully.  Just the act of speaking of my pain in a sacred, supportive space was incredibly healing.  The Seeress gave me a task, which I think I may do that as part of an Ostara-type ritual in the next weekend or two, depending on when I can obtain the supplies I need.  Several folks also came up to me afterwards with some very supportive words and offers of help, which I am deeply moved by and thankful for.

If the seidh was a ritual of quiet and strong, difficult emotions for me, the Conjure Dance was a powerful ritual of joy and connection to the Divine.  I danced almost the whole night, through pain and exhaustion that I only partly felt, in worship of the gods that I work with and the other Spirits present at the dance.  I saw some powerful possessions that night, and experienced some light possession by several Spirits.  My goddess Rhiannon had me laughing when she joined me in the dance for awhile, and was very insistent that my dancing be graceful and lady-like - no getting down and funky for her!

I also had an interesting thought during one of Christopher Penczak's classes, which I shared with a couple people during the conference.  The beautiful thing about the neopagan community and conferences like Sacred Space is that our community is small and well-connected.  So unlike, say, Catholics who will almost certainly never meet the Pope in person, we actually have the opportunity to meet our leaders, role models, and favorite pagan authors in person.  And rarely do I see folks getting too fangirl/fanboy on them (though I do admit, the first time I attended a ritual led by Diana Paxson, I had an internal moment of "ZOMG she writes the Avalon-universe books that I love so much!" before the ritual began.)

My only complaint about the conference was that several presenters went well past their allotted time.  This felt disrespectful of attendees' time, as it often it meant cutting into another workshop or the lunch and dinner breaks.  I would suggest that in the future, it may help to have a designated timekeeper in the room who can alert teachers when their time is almost up.

Before I finish up, one final tid-bit from Luisah Teish's class that hit me like a big wallop of clarity: The creation of sacred space begins not in the physical realm, but internally.  

Blessed be, and I already can't wait until next year!

Mar 11, 2013

Monday Music Break: Innocent Wind (Wind God Girl)

I am back from the Sacred Space Conference!  Whee!  What a wonderful weekend.  I met so many amazing, inspiring people over the weekend, and even got to meet fellow bloggers Lonely Coyote and EmKat for the first time. 

This year at Sacred Space I spent a lot of time working on the process of moving on from the numerous instances of loss I've experienced (friendships breaking down, an intense and difficult break-up, my Grandmother's death).  I felt a powerful need to call upon the energies of the Morrigan - somewhat for her fury in the beginning, but mostly as a source of strength and self-empowerment.  I wore my raven earrings for much of the conference to help me in this.  It gave me a great deal of self-confidence in talking to people I didn't know and building upon new friendships that had just begun.

The Morrigan
Image from

I found this song "Innocent Wind (Wind God Girl)" by a group called Morrigan.  It's not a pagan band - in fact I'm pretty sure it's from the soundtrack to a video game - but I listened to it and it speaks to me of the Morrigan and her birds.

I am still a bit burnt out from the intensity of the weekend, so I will be writing one or two posts with my thoughts on the conference later this week when I have more of my brain back.  In the meantime, enjoy the music and have a lovely week!

Mar 4, 2013

Monday Music Break: Rhiannon

Happy Monday, ya'll!  Sorry I missed last week's music break.  It was...a week.  I had some major car troubles that needed attention (again...argh.), with a broken exhaust pipe that needed to be welded back on, and a broken thermostat to boot.  Nothing like having a car with no heat that sounds like an airplane when you hit the gas.  Fortunately, the auto shop I took it to fixed it all up and it works great again.  No more airplane car!

Lately I've been feeling a stronger connection to my patroness, Rhiannon, after years of feeling really disconnected from her energy.  And last night I readjusted the astral journey I take to visit her and had a much more powerful visit with her than I've had in a very long time.

In contrast to the other gods I work with, Rhiannon has retained much of the imagery of her mythology, and holds a greater air of mystery about her.  She has always been very much a Queen of the Realm with me.  She is very regal, always appearing in beautiful sparkling gowns and perfectly-coiffed, curly white hair.  And yet she can still be warm and caring like a mother with a child.

Rhiannon by DAW
Rhiannon by DAW (

So in her honor, I'm posting one of my favorite songs about my goddess.  This is a really great live version of "Rhiannon" by Fleetwood Mac from 1976.  Stevie Nicks really pours out her soul in this performance.

Mar 1, 2013

Goals for March

Holy cow, how is it March already?  2013 has just been blowing right past me.

And the Sacred Space Conference is less than a week away.  I'm so excited!  Will I see you there?  I'd love to connect with some of my fellow bloggers.  Let me know if I should keep an eye out for you, and don't be shy about introducing yourself if you see me first :) 

I've noticed that a number of bloggers out there have started setting monthly goals for themselves.  I've really been enjoying reading about the monthly goals that  Julie and Liz have been writing about.  I really like the idea of setting a few small tangible goals or projects for yourself each month.  It seems so much more realistic, at least for me, than setting a big list with big goals for the year like I did last year.  So I set myself 4 goals for March!

my monthly goals for March

Let's see if this works any better for me than my 30 before 31 list did!

Feb 18, 2013

Monday Music Break: Cimmerian

Happy Monday, folks!  I need to make this quick today because I seem to have injured my back in a most ridiculous manner and it hurts less when I'm lying down.  (Seriously, I turned in the car to see if the lane next to me was open so I could merge, and I pulled something badly.  RIDIC.  I must be getting older.) 

The Machine in the Garden
Image from

Today's song is "Cimmerian" by the Machine in the Garden.  I first heard this song on A Darker Shade of Pagan a month or two ago and instantly loved the beat.  There's a lot of power in that beat.

Feb 13, 2013

I won the PPBH Brilliant Blogger Award!

You guys, I'm so excited!  I got a message a couple of days ago from Kourtney over at the Pagan Pages Blog Hop telling me that I am the January winner of the Brilliant Blogger Award!!

Pagan Pages Blog Hop - Brilliant Blogger Award

Each month's winner of the award (you only get to win once) has the most number of qualified links posted in that month's link ups.  You also have to have the PPBH button displayed in your sidebar and be a follower of the PPBH blog.

To help other bloggers get to know me better and learn a little about my blog, Kourtney asked me a few questions about myself and my blogging habits.  You can go check out my answers over at the PPBH blog.

Feb 11, 2013

Monday Music Break: Creature of the Wood

Today's Monday Music Break features "Gypsy celtic folk rock for naughty punk faeries" - otherwise known as S.J. Tucker's side project, Tricky Pixie.  Tricky Pixie is a fusion of some of today's Celtic folk rock superstars - combined with the delightful vocal and guitar stylings of S.J. Tucker are the awesome talents of stealth cellist Betsy Tinney and faerie tale minstrel Alexander James Adams

 S.J. Tucker - Tricky Pixie      Betsy Tinney - Tricky Pixie      Alexander James Adams - Tricky Pixie
Members of Tricky Pixie, from left: S.J. Tucker, Betsy Tinney, and Alexander James Adams.  Photos from

I have had their song "Creature of the Wood" running through my head since Saturday night because of a certain delightful satyr in my life.  He had never heard it before.  I had so much fun seeing his reaction when I played it for him on Saturday night :) 

Feb 5, 2013

Totally Awesome Blog Hop

I just entered my link into this months' Totally Awesome Blog Hop over on ChantillySongs.  This is a great hop with lots of participants that into things like music, vintage clothes, and crafting.  It's a good way to get your blog seen, and to find out about other blogs you might not have read before.

ChantillySongs - Totally Awesome Blog Hop

Go check it out, follow the 4 hosts, and enter your link! And then check out other bloggers when you're done. February's hop is open until the 25th.

Feb 4, 2013

Monday Music Break: Imbolc Fire

Happy February!  Since Imbolc was just over the weekend, I wanted to share something Imbolc-related with you all.

So what luck, a few days ago I heard about Imbolc Fire, a pagan folk rock studio project of Irene Jericho, Chris Kackley and Jay Jericho from Cassandra Syndrome.  A band with super-talented musicians from the DC region, who also have Imbolc in their band name - perfect!

Imbolc Fire - Irene Jericho, Jay Jericho, and Chris Kackley
Image from

Their bandcamp page describes Imbolc Fire as such: "The project channels earthy spirituality and mysticism into acoustic, hand-percussion driven musical journeys. Spanning from jubilant to deeply introspective, this group offers the listener a moving tapestry of sonic experiences."

I decided to share all 5 songs from their debut EP, "Drum and Chalice," because... well, because why not?  It's great music and deserves to be heard!

Jan 28, 2013

Monday Music Break: Godsmack

I was poking through my Facebook newsfeed today and I ran across this picture of Sully Erna, the lead singer of Godsmack:

Sully Erna of Godsmack - quote about practicing witchcraft 

By the way, if you haven't seen his tumblr, you should - so much eye candy ;)  

Anywho, can you believe I had no idea that anyone in Godsmack is pagan?  This makes me really excited to see that the lead singer of a well-known and popular hard rock band is openly pagan!  Hell yeah!

And as it so happens, I've been really feeling the hard rock/metal vibe lately.  I just got Cassandra Syndrome's newest album, Satire X, so I've been listening to that a lot.  I was also really rocking out to groups like Drowning Pool and Institute during my endless hours of driving around the Mid-Atlantic region last week.

So, you lucky darlings, enjoy some delicious, delicious Godsmack.  Here's "Awake," which has always been one of my favorites.  Strong lyrics, driving guitar rhythms, and such delightfully aggressive vocals.  Yum yum yum! 

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