Monday, February 28, 2011

Teaching Children the Craft: Seasonal Altars

Now that Rowan is getting bigger (he's walking, running, and learning the words for everything), he is naturally drawn to anything and everything- particularly items of natural beauty: flowers, rocks, leaves, feathers, you name it he tries to pick it up (and put it in his mouth).

I plan to harness that magpie impulse for easy lessons in the Craft. I am going to give him an altar space at his level. This altar is his- he can put anything upon it that he finds and loves. Because I am already showing him things (and taking him on outings that are seasonably appropriate for where we live), the altar is shaping up to be one that changes with the seasons.

Yes- a toddler altar is messy. Leaves have a way of getting crunched before they find their way here. But it also reflects who he is right NOW and his relationship to the planet- and isn't that exactly what it should be?

There are other lessons for him to learn about the items that he selects- as he gets older and begins to understand me and abstract concepts more, I can tell him that the rock he just picked up is quartz, or the feather he found is from a scrub jay. We can look out for that bird so he can meet one. He can learn to ask a plant before removing a leaf, flower, or fruit from it, and to leave an offering in return. He will also learn to listen to see if the answer is no.

When Rowan gets older, I hope to find a good woodworker who would be willing to make him altar tools out of wood (a cup, athame, wand, and pentacle) so he can practice what he sees mommy and daddy do in ritual. But that will come later (and I haven't found anyone to do so yet, anyway!). For now, it is enough for him to have natural items on his altar.

How do you share the seasons and the turning of the wheel with your children?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Book Review: The Barefoot Book of Dance Stories by Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple

This is one of several books that I picked up at PantheaCon for Rowan. There was a whole booth of kids books, many of them pagan, polytheist, or simply multi-cultural. I cannot resist a good kid's book.

This was an impulse purchase based on the fact that it included polytheist perspectives, gorgeous artwork (by Helen Cann), and a CD so Rowan could listen to the stories read by Juliet Stevenson. When I got it home, I was delighted to discover one of the authors is Jane Yolen, one of my favorite fantasy authors for adults as well as children. If you have never read Sister Light, Sister Dark or Briar Rose, you simply must now. I have long admired her ability to weave together fantasy worlds for me to escape in, and now Rowan can enjoy that, too.

The book tells stories of characters dancing from many countries. All of the stories speak of dancing in some way, and in the beginning of the book it talks about the dances and art forms of the country represented.  And what countries are represented? Austria, Japan, the West Indies, Spain, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Scotland, and Mali. I was thrilled after just a simple scan that so many different cultures were represented. I love that I can talk to Rowan about how every person in every culture everywhere sings, dances, and makes music. It is something we share as human beings. Further, I can use the book to talk about how special each one is and how unique each culture expresses their art.

Animals by Helen Cann
My current favorite story is "Dance of the Birch Fairy", which is from the Czech Republic. It has, yes- a birch fairy teaching some life lessons to a small goat-herding girl. The lessons are ones that I can get behind and would love to teach Rowan.

I also loved "When the Goddess Danced", the story of how belly dance was born in Egypt. It is the story of how a God fell in love with a mortal woman, subsequently impregnated her with triplets, and called upon the Goddesses Isis and Nephthys to help her.

Helen Cann's artwork is pretty spectacular. Her paintings are unique and lush and match the mood of the stories well.

This book is recommended for story and bed times for preschoolers up to 5th graders.

Formal Rating:
Title: The Barefoot Book of Dance Stories
Author: Jane Yolen, Heidi E.Y. Stemple, and Helen Cann
Publisher: Barefoot Books
Price: $23.99 USD 
ISBN: 978-1-84686-219-9

Topics Covered: dances, cultures, multi-cultural stories and art, fantasy, polytheism

Target Audience: children ages 2-10
Witch Mom Rating: Two and a Half Hats
Love this book, but since some of the stories are traditional, there is some "rescuing the princess" or "giving away my daughter in marriage" business that will need to be explained. Therefore, not three hats.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

PantheaCon musings

Lilith by Megaera Callisto Lorenz

So I am back from PantheaCon and am getting settled back into my normal life (albeit with more work involved- I have lots to write from P'Con for PNC Bay Area). Before heading to the 'Con, I perused the schedule this year and decided to cover the kids and family programming, getting several tasks accomplished at once: PNC coverage, spending time with Rowan, and networking and learning from other pagan parents and families.

Friday was all about getting settled in and getting my bearings. I had to do on-site registration for the 'Con, wait in a loooong line to get into my room, then we had a meeting of the Bay Area bureau of the Pagan Newswire collective to decide which stories were going to be covered by whom. My partner and I traded off watching Rowan when we were not attending things with him- and Friday was his night to carouse. So I stayed in.

Saturday morning, I went to John Michael Greer's presentation on the Picatrix, which was fantastic. He recently did a new translation and I am anxious to get a copy (I am a geek like that!). Then I attended a ritual for youth ages 8-12 and interviewed the woman who organized and proposed the event. Then I hung out in my suite for a private event where we did workings that set me abuzz.

We hosted a playdate in the Pagan Playdate suite that afternoon, and there I got to meet more pagan families, and some will be joining us for playdates beyond the 'Con! That was awesome and exciting. We are building the organization, one brick at a time.

Lilith, once more
We hosted a small event in the Casa Vesperus suite and then went to dinner. Because we were out of the hotel, I missed a huge hullaballoo when some Dianic witches refused trans women entrance to their 7 PM ritual. I have to say, I have been upset with the Dianics for some time over this very issue (and will not attend most Dianic rituals for this very reason), and was glad that it became an issue for the community to have its say about.

To exclude certain kinds of women because of their anatomy, biology, or life experience is UNFEMINIST, and I cannot abide this kind of bigotry- especially in the guise of religion. It pains me that some people I genuinely like perpetuate this horrible transphobia and unreligious* behavior. While women have been oppressed, that does not make it okay to oppress others. And that is exactly what is happening here- make no mistake.

My patroness, Lilith, wants me to say publicly that this ritual in question was supposed to be dedicated to Her- yet She is not pleased. Lilith does not approve of this bigoted nonsense. Women- please hear her. Bigotry in Her name will not be tolerated. Organizers playing gender police that night may have some nasty life surprises waiting for them as a result. She has a way of getting her way- by hook or by crook. She has a way of making her Will known, and not always pleasantly. These organizers are obviously not familiar with my Patroness, as She is the patron of sexual and gender variance and freaks of all kinds, among other things. What were they thinking (or were they)? She is not simply the cute feminist icon of "I submit to no man!". This goddess isn't about not doing it missionary-style. No scholarly research was done here evidently- because Lilith would not abide any rite that excludes Her people.

There will be a detailed story about this for Bay Area PNC, I am glad to say- as this issue needs to be out there for the community to read about.

Later that evening, I went to the Oracular Seidh. I am very interested in all kinds of oracular work, and this particular tradition has a great history and lore around this form. I was very affected in the session myself, and some of the tenders felt the need to check in on me a couple times. I was fine, but entering just that trance state myself. Afterwards, even though it was my turn to carouse, I was wiped and went back to the suite to sleep!

Sunday, I was part of a panel introducing the Pagan Newswire Collective. I am hoping there were some in the audience that will become future writers for the Bay Area!

I missed the Family Blot in the next time slot, but heard about it from other attendees (Rowan was melting down and needed a nap) while in the Pagan Playdate suite. We (Rowan and myself) tried to attend the "Fairy Tea Party" for kids after his nap, but it was kind of a disaster for us. The organizers had placed a shiny sequined altar cloth (on the floor! with cookies on it!) in the center of the room, and then did not want any of the kids to touch it right away. Um, what?! That's possibly fine for a 5 or 6 year old, but toddlers? Not so much. Rowan could not wait to grab the shiny and delicious things, much to the organizer's chagrin. He is a wild thing, and it was tough reining him in. He ended up running around the space maniacally and bonked his head so badly he got a goose egg on his forehead. (Before you ask, he is fine). It was not exactly good logistical planning for kids under 2. So we left early. I was able to promote the Pagan Playdate storytime afterwards, so that is where we headed next.

We went to dinner again before the big ritual at 9 PM, which was spectacular. I am glad that I started it well fortified! "Call of the Battle Raven: A Morrigan Devotional" blessed us with a visit from the bean sĂ­dhe Herself and I am still mulling over her gifts and demands of us. We all made oaths on her sword to keep throughout the year- and I am excited to start on mine (sorry, but it is a secret!). After the ritual, I was pumped up and on the prowl and organized an impromptu cocktail party at the hotel bar. I got a little tipsy and laughed a lot while Rowan was asleep and in the care of a beloved brother in the Craft (Thanks, Shimmer!).

Monday morning, I got up early again and went to "Passing It On: Creating Sustainable Traditions In Pagan Families" where I networked and interviewed the presenter for my PNC article. There were resources swapped and friends made.

The protesters of the Lilith ritual were given a space to hold a forum/roundtable on this day, which I attended and made my voice heard. I was happy to see that virtually all in attendance were against the discrimination, yet also believed in the integrity of women's and men's ritual space (they just believed, as I do, in self identification as the litmus test for entrance).

What pains me is that while most people I know dismiss this as a "second wave feminist problem" (meaning it is generational and when these die-hards finally pass on, so will this issue), that is not the case- at least here in this instance. Come As You Are Coven, aka CAYA (the CAYA Amazons put on this ritual and run many of their non-PantheaCon women's rituals with the same rules- no trans women) is a fairly new organization that attracts people in their twenties and thirties- many of them new to pagandom and witchcraft- and are certainly a generation or two well past the generation of "second wave feminists". They are, in essence, perpetuating this anti-trans bigotry to a new generation of pagans. This makes me both profoundly sad and incredibly angry.

As I said at the round table on this issue, If religion does not bring people closer to the earth, to each other and to the gods, it is not actually religion. The roots of the word are "to re-tie" meaning to all those three things. Bigotry disguising itself as religion acts as a force of disconnection- and therefore is not religion at all.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Thinking About My Son's Education

I am currently compiling notes to create a year-long cyclical curriculum for my son. It is for his religious and mundane education- The best way to describe the spiritual aspects of it are "multi-religious, as seen through a witchy filter". As I learn about other religions and their traditions in seminary and out in the world, I am noting what rituals and traditions ring true for me and what I would like to incorporate into our lives (in addition to the wheel of the year and esbats).

One Jewish tradition I value and would like to start in our home is a Witchy version of Shabbat. Every Friday evening, a ritual to declare no more work for a full day! Friday evening would start with a ritual to start the experience and a good family meal. Then quality time with the family- reading stories, playing games, and good old fashioned conversation. Saturday would be a special time meant to be spent with family and friends- visiting, playing, going to places together (like the zoo or other fun educational places), and again- lovely meals. While my Witchy theological reasons would be different than a Jewish person's for observing a special weekly holiday like this, I feel that the tradition is easily adapted to both a religious Witch's outlook or even a secular one.

I have been thinking that when Rowan is old enough, we will work for the poor on Thanksgiving, and have our harvest feast of gratitude on the similar Witchy holiday, Mabon. Having an annual ritual of volunteering for those less fortunate is something that I would love him to remember and learn the value of.

Do you celebrate holidays from multiple cultures or religions? What caused that situation? How do you tech your kids about different faiths and ideas that may not be your own?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Looking forward to PantheaCon

This weekend is the annual pagan conference PantheaCon that I have attended for the last several years. It is a huge event- last year, close to 2500 people attended, and the hotel is always "sold out" and attendees must book rooms in overflow hotels each year.

Last year, Rowan was the youngest person
at PantheaCon, being only two weeks old.
The conference offers an amazing array of workshops, lectures, entertainment, and rituals in many "pagan" traditions- be they heathen, ceremonial magician, witchcraft, or otherwise. What they do not offer is childcare. Which is a problem, considering how many people are attending these days with their families.

This year, the playgroup I belong to is swapping childcare when possible with one another to help cover some of the times when you want some adult time. This will help balance the needs of Rowan and my needs to have some awesome Witchy goodness on my own. And we are opening the suite for a meet and greet to welcome new members and tell them about our playgroup.

In addition to helping with Pagan Playdate, I am also hosting a hospitality suite for my religious tradition that will have several salons on several topics for its initiates and students. I am also part of the Pagan Newswire Collective, and we will be covering the 'Con as well as doing a meet and greet as well. So, needless to say, I will be busy!

I have decided to cover all the family-friendly and kid-focused events this year for PNC, and this also means that I get to spend some great times with my son while still being present at the 'con and doing my journalistic work. A win-win!

I'll be sure to take pix and report back when my weekend is through! If you follow me on Twitter, you may see more frequent updates over the weekend there.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lupercalia (aka Valentine's Day)

Now that the Valentine's Day hoo-ha is all over and the leftover heart shaped boxes of chocolates are on sale at your local drug store, I thought it would be great to talk a bit about the pagan origins of Valentine's Day. After all, all the fun holidays are pagan (at least I think so) and "St. Valentine" (if he indeed ever existed) is a modern Christian spin on this ancient holiday.

They have yet to show that there was a priest called Valentine who married people in secret. (In the context of today's evangelical Christianity beating the drum for "traditional marriage", I find it hilarious that marriage was also not Christian in those days- it was a pagan rite that St. Paul opposed.)

Lupercalia was associated with Pan, Romulus and Remus (who were raised by a wolf to later found Rome), fertility (read: lots of sex), and whipping/flagellation with dead animal skins (to stimulate fertility). How romantic, no? I can just imagine the early Christian dialogue around keeping the hliday: "Hey- it's always fun and sexy to dress as a goat, sacrifice a dog, and then get it on in the woods- so how can we make this more Christian?"

These days, the holiday has been properly sanitized and lost a lot of its "edge". Hot and steamy sex with everyone and anyone has now become the exchange of flowers and chocolates with one specific someone, and sex only happens after a nice dinner. Decidedly less lusty, but accessible to more people, I suppose.

What, if any, are your Valentine's traditions? This year, I helped some kids at the local UU church make valentines for their friends and families, then went out with my family for a nice Dim Sum lunch and then my sweetie bought me a gift at a local pagan shop. We snuggled on the sofa watching a movie later that night. Simple togetherness- that's my new ritual.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day Action

Source: CBS News
On this day of love, I urge people to give to the Iraqi Orphan Foundation (UK) or the Alalusi Foundation (USA). That place in the world needs our love and attention now.

Because of the wars and military actions there, almost 50% of all children in Iraq are orphans. Can you believe that astronomical figure?

These organizations welcome your help regardless of your religion or political bent. As a citizen of the United States, even though I actively opposed the wars in Iraq, I feel responsible in some way for this tragedy. My tax dollars paid for the bombing of Iraq, and likely killed some of these children's parents. What is left in Iraq is a society and infrastructure in tatters. I feel compelled to help make amends. I hope that some of you will do the same.

In these childrens' short lives, they have not known much else but war and suffering. Let us help them make a better Iraq.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Book Review: Be Who You Are! by Jennifer Carr

Once in a while, a new kids book comes along that I just have to pick up. When I read about this book I knew I wanted to review it. Be Who You Are! is a book that clearly explains, in language accessible to its audience (kids), what it is like to be a transgender child and how family and school life can support or sabotage a child's sense of self (and especially self-worth) in this situation.

In this respect, the book is great for adults too. Many parents and teachers are unaware of how to react to a child expressing a desire to be a different gender to the one that they were born into. This book demonstrates how to be supportive and open to where the child may lead you.

The book was written by an activist with a child who has gone through this experience. She has worked with schools and organizations to accept and embrace gender non-conforming children and has even created a playgroup for kids that do not conform to gender norms. This is her first children's book in what I hope becomes a series of supportive titles.

This book should be in classrooms, libraries and on personal bookshelves. While books like "My Princess Boy"are great for kids that do not necessarily have a transgender issue (they may just want to be more expressive in the gender spectrum than we normally allow kids), this book is one of the few that I have seen actually talking about transitioning children and setting up a positive family and school dynamic.

While I have no idea what gender Rowan will identify as when he gets older, I think this book is necessary for him. Whether or not he identifies as transgender or not in his own life, he will share this world with people that do. I am excited to read this story to him, over and over.

Formal Rating:
Title: Be Who You Are!
Author: Jennifer Carr
Publisher: Authorhouse
Price: $20.99 USD 
ISBN: 9978-1-4520-8725-2

Topics Covered: gender, parenting, transgender issues, difference, school, family, siblings

Target Audience: children, parents, teachers
Witch Mom Rating: Three Hats!
 Amazing resource that is among the first of its kind. Help foster understanding of transgender issues for families, especially kids. Spread the word of this book!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Witch Mom Raves: The Garden Song

This is a song that can be taken literally, or teach a much deeper lesson to older children.
Sing along!
Garden Song by David Mallett

Inch by inch, row by row
Gonna make this garden grow
Gonna mulch it deep and low
Gonna make it fertile ground

Inch by inch, row by row
Please bless these seeds I sow
Please keep them safe below
'Till the rain comes tumbling down

Pullin' weeds and pickin' stones
We are made of dreams and bones
Need a place to call my own
'Cause the time is close at hand

Grain for grain, sun and rain
Find my way in nature's chain
Till my body and my brain
Tell the music of the land


Plant your rows straight and long
Season with a prayer and song
Mother Earth will make you strong
If you give her loving care

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Carnival of Natural Parenting: The Necessities!

Welcome to the February Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Essentials
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared the parenting essentials that they could not live without. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

This month's Carnival of Natural Parenting topic is "Parenting Essentials: I cannot imagine parenting without __________"
I was asked, "Do you have a natural parenting product that you can't live without? Is there a book, family secret, or song that has been crucial to your transition into the role of parent? Is it a friend who makes all the difference for you?"
I find the question strange, because to me, natural parenting is mostly about verbs and not nouns. It is about being and doing with and for your child(ren) and not about the accumulation of "stuff". Yes, my son has toys and books and clothes and gear. Yes, some of those things make our busy mobile lives easier and draw us closer as a family. But I find none of them absolutely "necessary".

Don't get me wrong: we love our Ergo baby carrier, and the books about gentle discipline or questioning vaccines. They help us, they do. I regularly check the board at to give and ask advice of other attachment and natural parents. We sing our song this lovely lullaby almost every night.

Natural parenting is an important philosophy for us: we had a doll created for our son as a companion, to foster empathy, compassion, and social bonding. There was no question Rowan would be genitally intact. Often natural parenting means doing with less or none than saying yes to convention or the myriad plastic, battery operated, lack-of-imagination-building toys out on the market today.

 But at the end of the day, none of that "stuff" we use to reinforce our parenting style matters. They assist in the work, yes. They make life easier so we do not have to reinvent the wheel, but I would gladly reinvent the wheel for my son, anyway. And I bet that I am not alone in that sentiment.

If attachment/natural parenting as a movement did not yet exist, I know hundreds of mamas and papas who would create it. If there was not a name for the style of parenting that I do, I would still be doing it.

If there were not resources out there for me explaining the benefits of co-sleeping, I would still be doing it- because I follow my intuition as well as the lead of my son. My son is the one who told me he preferred sleeping next to me. My son is the one who asks to be held when he cries. My son is the one who preferred to eat chunks of whole foods rather than store-bought purees. Our children tell us so much without the use of words, if only we would listen and forget the agendas with which we entered parenthood.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Not Without Him — The love Starr at Taking Time shares with her husband is the foundation of her parenting.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without B(.)(.)bs — From an uneducated dreamer to a breastfeeding mother of a toddler, nursing has forever changed Kristy at Strings to Things's relationship with her daughter and her outlook on life.
  • Raising a Child in the Internet Village — When Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction has a question or concern about parenting, she turns to the Internet. What did parents do before Google?
  • Partner in Crime and ParentingBethy at Bounce Me to the Moon can't imagine parenting without her husband's sense of humor - he brings her laughter and love every day.)
  • I Make MilkPatti at Jazzy Mama can't imagine trying to mother her babies without her breasts, but she could do it if she had to.
  • New Perspectives Bring New BeginningsMJ at Wander Wonder Discover, who is a former authoritarian mamma, has gained perspective via parenting.
  • Time Out!Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog explores how time apart can increase your capacity to give unconditionally.
  • Unimaginable Without HimKristina at heyred designs is celebrating her amazing partner, without whom none of her parenting experience would be possible.
  • My Parenting NecessityClaire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl needs "me time" in order to be the Mama she wants to be.
  • Babywearing As a Way of LifeDarcel at The Mahogany Way talks about the benefits of babywearing in everyday life.
  • Parenting Partnership — Sometimes Abbie at Farmer's Daughter doesn't appreciate her husband enough, but she definitely couldn't imagine parenting without his help.
  • Parenting EssentialsMomma Jorje loves her parenting products, but she needs you even more.
  • My Parenting Must-Have: SupportJoella at Fine and Fair wrote a letter to her daughter about the role that support from friends and family plays in her mothering.
  • It's More Than Just Hair — Think doing hair is full of fluff? Too girly? Useless? Karli from Curly Hairdo Ideas used to think so too.
  • The Minimalist Parent — The parents at Living Peacefully with Children embrace a minimalist perspective when it comes to baby gear. A good sling is all they need.
  • Without My BreastsCharise at I Thought I Knew Mama can't imagine parenting without her breasts; here's why.
  • Loves Books, Loves PeopleSeonaid at the Practical Dilettante discovers that the library is a perfect fit for her family's needs.
  • An Ode to the Maya WrapRevMama's next child might be named Maya, because of her fondness for the sling.
  • Avoiding the Padded RoomPecky at Benny and Bex is here to testify that it takes a village to raise a child.
  • My parenting essentials, from Tivo to battery-operated monstrositiesLauren at Hobo Mama presents a list of parenting essentials you didn't even know you needed (and probably don't…).
  • Attachment Parenting Through Separation: It Makes It a Little BetterJessica at This Is Worthwhile talks about how she couldn't survive her separation without attachment parenting and the bond it's afforded her with her 3 year old son.
  • Parenting EssentialsDeb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the principles she used to parent her children from infants to adults.
  • My Parenting Essentials — The things that are truly essential to Kim at In Desperate Need of Entertainment aren't things at all.
  • I'm No One Without My Sling — How baby carrying is essential to the parenting of Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without...Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine talks about what she needs to raise her children.
  • February Carnival of Natural Parenting — Through her experiences over the last five and a half years, Casey at Love What Is has discovered her most important tool for parenting is using her instincts.
  • CNP: I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without __________.The Artsymama discloses the one thing that gave her back control of herself as a parent.
  • Laugh Until I Cry — Laughing with her sons keeps Acacia at Fingerpaint & Superheroes connected and grounded.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting WithoutLuschka at Diary of a First Child realizes what the one thing she can't imagine parenting without is, and it turns out it's not a thing after all.
  • It Takes Two — Here are a few of the reasons why Jenn at Adventures Down Under cannot imagine parenting without her fabulous husband.
  • Stopping to Listen — Though it wasn't easy at first, Knocked Up - Knocked Over cannot imagine parenting her daughter without listening first to what she is telling her.
  • The Essence of Parenting — There are many wonderful resources that make life easier for Michelle at the Parent Vortex to parent, but the essence is the relationship between parent and child.
  • What I Cannot Live WithoutSybil at Musings of a Milk Maker considers her computer to be a parenting lifeline.
  • True Blessings: White Noise and GrandparentsKat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment can't live without her white noise machine and the support of her parents.
  • The Necessities! — What "stuff" does a natural parent like Lily, aka Witch Mom really need? Not much, it turns out.
  • Mama Showed MeMama Mo at Attached at the Nip writes about how parenting wisdom is passed on by example.
  • Ode to the Loo — For Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch, the bathroom is her safe place, where she can take a minute to calm down if she is feeling touched out.
  • Go, Mama. Go!Andrea!!! at Ella-Bean & Co. has been able to integrate her many roles through her get-up-and-go parenting essential, exercise!
  • My Other HalfBecky at Old New Legacy realizes what a relief it is to have her husband parent alongside her.
  • Grace, Love, and CoffeeMrsH at Fleeting Moments realizes that lifelines can take the form of the profound, or the mundane. Both are ok.
  • Supportive Spouse, Check! — There are so many parenting tools and gadgets that are superfluous, but the one essential, for Danielle at, has been her supportive spouse.
  • Why I'm a BabywearerMeredith at Becoming Mamas reflects on the ways babywearing has enhanced her mama baby relationship...and made life easier to boot.
  • It's Marvelous Out Here, Kiddo!Rachael at The Variegated Life can't imagine parenting in the big city without the marvels of Prospect Park to share with her Critter.
  • Yes, Thank YouAmy at Anktangle offers tips on how to ask for and accept help, an essential for successful parenting.
  • Parenting Essentials Checklist: Mom’s Inner Rebel and Her Kids’ VoicesOlivia at Write About Birth reflects on raising global citizens and saying no to societal norms.
  • Eco-Mama Online! — An Eco-Mama living in the mountains of a nature island, Terri at Child of the Nature Isle finds it essential to connect to nature and to connect online.
  • Sorry, We Just Sold the Last OneNev at The Adventures of Lime confesses she missed out the day they handed out patience.
  • LaughTashmica at The Mother Flippin' Blog reveals her super power, her talisman agains mean mommy.
  • My Priceless Parenting Resource — What do books, a magazine community, my mother and the local playgroup have in common? Lucy at Dreaming Aloud tells us...
  • The Gift of Shared TimeTree at Mom Grooves strives to experience the world from her daughter's perspective.
  • Follow the GigglesDionna at Code Name: Mama can’t live without the sound of her child’s giggles - come watch her video and you’ll agree!
  • Can I Mommy Without Boob?Emily at Crunchy(ish) Mama shares her fears about weaning and losing part of that the mother/child bond.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tangible Witchcraft: Healing, Medicinal, & Magickal Herbalism

Witches have long been known as the village healer. Many were also midwives. It should come as no surprise then that I am profoundly interested in herbalism, energy healing, holistic medicine and nutrition, and energy work.

I am a Reiki "Master" (which simply means I have all three attunements and can pass Reiki on to someone else via attunements), and also do another type of energy healing taught to me by my patron. It is also a laying on of hands, but feels different and works differently than Reiki.

I went to herb school for a year (and would love to return one day) and continue to study on my own. I treat my family and friends and make recommendations to others when asked. I sometimes wildcraft, although that is an additional skill that I need to work on- I am great with medicine making, less so with identification (although getting better!) Northern California, where I live, has some amazing healing plants growing here, some only grow here.

This time of the year means colds, flu, and malaise for many- and my family has caught a nasty chest cold like many people we know. Rowan, my partner, and I have been snotty and coughing up gunk for about a week now. Poor Rowan lost sleep due to waking up coughing (which means mama and papa lose sleep too). So what do I do?

For our particular malady, I have used a specific elderberry cordial with great results. In addition to elderberry, the cordial has mullein, echinacea, eucalyptus oil, thyme oil, honey, and alcohol. Each of these ingredients has been selected for very specific reasons and work together well:

Elderberries. Delicious!
Elderberry (only use blue elderberries, never red ones) is safe for pregnant women and children and is an amazing for bringing down fevers and helping the body fight infection. Because of its high vitamin C content, it is often used as a winter tonic to prevent illness. Magickally, Elder is a very important plant for protection, especially of home and children.

Mullein I selected for its expectorant qualities- we needed to cough all this gunk up and out! Mullein is excellent at most lung ailments- including asthma and allergies. While coughing is never fun, it has a specific purpose to make us well. Since Rowan cannot smoke the leaves (which is the most effective way to take it), in a cordial would have to do.

Echinacea is probably the most overused herbal remedy that I know- most people simply do not know how to take it. It is only effective if you take it at a maximum of two weeks then STOP. If you need to redose, you should wait at least a week. Yet so many take it all season-long, to ill effect. But used correctly, and echinacea is a powerful immune booster that gets you back on your feet.

Many use eucalyptus oil for coughs. It soothes irritated throats like magic!

Thyme, also delicious!
Thyme is my favorite herb, hands down. Not only does it taste great in everything (eggs, chicken, fish, everything!), but it has some of the most amazing anti-microbial properties ever. I not only use it internally to kill infection, but I steep thyme in vinegar for a powerful cleaner that is so much more effective (and cheaper and more eco-friendly) than store-bought germ killers.

Honey is well known for its amazing healing properties. While many say not to give babies honey before a year of age, that is a botulism scare. If you know that your honey is clean, it can help babies. Many cultures around the world give honey before breastmilk when a child is born! And it soothes scratchy throats and tastes great!

Alcohol isn't just a preservative. Grandmas everywhere know that to fight a cold, a little shot of whiskey or brandy is just the ticket (in my family, it was blackberry brandy for the kids).

What do you use to get you through the "sick time of year"?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Interfaith Love

No post for today, but I felt compelled to share this photo:

What you are seeing is a picture of Christians protecting Muslims during their daily prayers from attack from the police and government lackeys in Egypt.

The protests there have turned ugly, with pro-Mubarak government paid "protesters" turning peaceful protests into violent unrest. As a result, actual protesters have started looking out for one another, to keep one another safe. Beautiful.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tangible Witchcraft: Divination

What is divination? Well, if you take the word itself, it implies the Divine at work. Every person I know who does this sort of work agrees that they must "open" themselves to receiving messages through the tools that they use.

There are many kinds of divination, but for most people (who don't do this work themselves) they mostly think of "fortune-tellers" using tarot cards, tea leaves, and crystal balls. And those can be wonderful tools. I use some of them. But the way that I prefer and turn to most often is none of these, actually.

Unlike some Witches, I do not read tarot for others normally- and I don't read for money. I will do a reading if asked (usually alone and report back what I discovered). But I usually save tarot readings for my personal check-ins on small subjects that I keep to myself. I also use a pendulum for a quick check in now and again. The same goes with runes. Often, if there is a big question to answer in my life, I will pull an equal number of tarot cards and runes simultaneously so each rune and card correspond and clarify each other.

Scrying is another method that I often turn to- either in a black mirror which is devoted to my patroness or a black vessel that I use only for scrying (dedicated to another Goddess). I love that vessel- when the lid is on, it looks like a pitch black breast, perfect for its use.

I often use the vessel under a full moon. (By the way, for those new to scrying, this is also the method people use when using crystal balls. While there is a crystal ball in my home (that used to belong to two very powerful Witches and was passed onto my partner after their deaths), I don't use that method (or that particular ball!). There is a lot of stuff attached to that item, and I like my tools to just be in tune with me and who they are devoted to.

My preferred method these days is dream and trance divination- when I journey to a specific place or to a specific being for answers. I have a gift of "seeing" quite well in dreams and often have dreams for other people or groups of people. I pass these dreams along when I can. After years of practice, I can reach states of trance possession and communicate with non-corporeal beings fairly well.

After having Rowan, it was hard to get a full night's sleep and my dream life was suffering. So my partner and I (who is also a Witch) decided to "trade off" nights co-sleeping with Rowan, and the person who had the night off was free to dream. It's been an awesome arrangement, both of us benefit from the extra sleep and the ability to reach REM sleep.

If you remember from past blog entries, I created a mask for just this purpose- oracular work. Oracular work is divination by contacting one specific being, rather than many or whomever shows up. Using the mask allows me to focus and not be distracted by the outside world. Works like a charm!

Do you do divination? If so, what type?