Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Toddler Times and Mama Moments

"You really ought to blog about this", urges my partner. "I think most people reading your blog think that your parenting comes really easy, or something. This would be really real."

Yesterday, my son made me cry. In many ways, he's a typical rambunctious toddler, and I am a typical first-time mom. He was being manic, in that typical toddler way, running around, stomping, squealing, and throwing his ball. I was enjoying watching him be him, while we took a break from unpacking. Then he threw his heavy metal sippy- at my face. It hurt, and almost gave me a fat lip. I yelled at him, like I would yell at anyone who assaulted me. His little face crumpled, and then he started to wail.

My partner stepped in and redirected our son as I recovered my cool. Then Rowan was brought back to me. I was still crying, partially because of my lip, partially because of my feelings. "You HURT Mommy. Please don't throw things at Mommy." He hugged me frantically and said without prompting, "I sowwy, Mommy. I wuv you." It melted my heart and made me cry a little more. I was feeling a little emotional after my unfortunate outburst.

I am not a perfect parent. I yell and say no more than I want to. (Especially in this last week, with the house being a minefield of boxes of fragile things that a toddler could destroy so easily. Our house was not set up to be the "yes environment" that he is used to and that I want for him. Thankfully, with lots of hard work and effort from my partner and myself, it is now set up- just as my partner returns to his job.) My episodes that I am not ashamed of, while they happen more often than I like, only last a few minutes- then I remember the parent that I want to be. I feel shame in these moments, and wonder if I will leave emotional scars.

Can the good moments negate the bad in the end? I know that I am going to yell at my son in the future just as I know that I will hug and kiss him and tell him that I love him multiple times a day. I know that I will do something in my parenting that my son will remember and resent. Perhaps it will even cause damage and baggage. That hurts me deeply. Is there nothing I can do to stop that? I don't think so.

Our day ended well. We decided to walk to the park that is a mere half block away and asked the neighbors if they would like to come. They said that they were on their way out for a walk, so we combined the outings- a walk around the neighborhood that ended at the park. My son seems a little crushed out on their 4 year old daughter and kept saying her name and chasing her through the park. On the occasions that Rowan fell down, he ran to me and I kissed his "owies" to make them better. That trick always works and he runs away smiling. He looks to me for comfort when he is in distress, and that tells me that I am doing more good than harm, I think.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Tangible Witchcraft: Compassion Altar

Compassion is a quality which I wish to cultivate more of. It's not that I am not compassionate- I am. It's just that my compassion tends to manifest in ways that many do not recognize or notice. I am not a huge hugger, I tend to offer solutions more often than some want when they are looking for a shoulder to cry on.

Even before studying the Witchcraft tradition that I have been initiated into, I was following precepts of many warrior traditions. I am one of those people whose compassion is not expressed as affection. I am often seen as cold, blunt, and judgmental. (I see myself as reserved, blunt, and discerning, LOL.)

 I admire those who can listen without offering judgement or advice. I admire those people who are rays of sunshine that recharge your batteries just by interacting with them. I have never been one of those people, but I aspire. It's one of the reasons that I love my shiny Radical Faerie kin. I may never get there, but I will keep trying.

One of the ways that I remind myself of this practice and goal is a compassion altar. It is small, and now in my dining room. It is a small wire shelf and it holds:

Tibetan Prayer Flags: "Traditionally, prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. The flags do not carry prayers to gods, a common misconception; rather, the Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion into all pervading space. Therefore, prayer flags are thought to bring benefit to all."
A small shrine with a stone bodhisattva. A boddhisatva is someone who takes on enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, not just stopping the wheel of reincarnation for themselves.

A statue of St. Francis: a compassionate protector of animals.

A card of the Virgen de Guadaloupe/Tonantzin: "In the poem the Lady not only appears as an ordinary dark-skinned indigenous woman and speaks to Juan Diego in his Nahuatl mother tongue but she treats him with affection and respect, as an equal. (She speaks to him standing up; if she had been a noble, she would have received him sitting down.) She addresses him in familiar language, using many diminutives, like a mother. The indigenous Nahuatl people had seen their world destroyed, their great capital city in ruins, their culture and religion smashed. An estimated population of 25 million when the Spaniards arrived declined by the end of the century to 1 million from conquest, disease and suicide. The psychological trauma must have been devastating. But the Lady tells Juan Diego she is the Mother both of the Christian god (Dios) and the supreme Nahuatl god and she repeats some of that god’s highest titles (Life-Giver, Creator of Humanity, Lord of the Near and Together, Lord of Heaven and Earth). When Juan Diego says he is of too humble status to speak to the bishop, she insists he is her chosen messenger and he ends up carrying the good news to the bishop (‘evangelising’ him). The Lady represents the female aspect of the divinity (the Nahuatl supreme divinity Ometeotl being both male and female – the Divine Pair), the nurturing Earth Mother. She tells Juan Diego: ‘I am your kind mother and the mother of all the nations that live on this Earth who would love me.’ She accords the poor equal, or even greater, dignity than the rich and equally assumes both Christian and Nahuatl names of the great ‘Life-Giver’."

A red charm given to me by a Faery initiate (that I have never met. She sent me this charm when she heard of my pregnancy troubles).

Praying hands that open to Siddhartha Gautama Buddha

Two prayer cards invoking White Tara

A lotus candle holder

The Laughing Buddha

This is less a shrine about devotional practices to a specific set of dieties than it is a spell- a spell on myself. It serves as a daily reminder of whom I aspire to be.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Why We Need Real Sex Education

I was asked by the creator of this image to post it, an I am more than happy to do so.

Reproductive Health Education
Created by: PublicHealthDegree.com

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Just a Quick Post!

Hey y'all! We are almost done unpacking after moving on Tuesday the 16th. If you actually knew how much stuff was moved, you'd gasp with how much effort being "almost done" actually means. It means we only have altars to erect, a temple to outfit, and decorations to put up left. Our kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms are complete and our books are unpacked (that can be- we need to get a few more bookshelves to fit them all).

We went to a new UU church this week- where my grad school advisor is the minister and one of my co-seminarians is the intern. Rowan got to play with kids in the nursery and after worship, I got to talk to the minister about volunteer opportunities in religious education. We are meeting later this week to chat over coffee!

Today, we got several packages (groan- as if we need more boxes to break down) that I am psyched about. As many of you know I started an Etsy store called Boline. It is a botanica (magical herb and more store) and an apothecary (herbal supplements and remedies for healing). Well, not only did my worm bin come (composting for the homestead!), but also my dehydrator and mushroom spores! I will be growing four species of medicinal mushrooms for Boline- reishi, maitake, turkey tail, and shiitake. I will be drying and offering whole mushrooms, powdered encapsulations, and tinctures of these. Stay tuned for blog posts all about these amazing mushrooms and what they can do for your health and what diseases they are used to treat.

Inspirational laundry-mat signs.
I also got a variety of oyster mushroom spore that will grow in my coffee grounds. As someone who drinks coffee almost every morning, this is an awesome way to use those grounds (in addition to the worm bin, I mean).

This weekend I have a full plate, too. On Saturday, I am attending my first ever "Art Party"- which is a monthly Columbus get-together of artists creating together. Sunday is not only church, but a bird mart. As someone who works with parrots professionally, I need to get out there and network with parrot people in my new locale. So I made new business cards and will be schmoozing at the bird mart!

My partner is at the first day of his new job. He cares for the elderly and today he starts on a "memory care" unit- which is to say people with dementia. He is sure to be excited and exhausted this afternoon when we go to get him.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Welcome Home!

Plant Spirit Ally
When you read this post, I will be in my new home, likely unpacking and getting settled in. I am terribly excited to finally start the new life I have dreamed of in Ohio. I have been in limbo for almost 6 months after my cross-country move from Oakland, California- setting down temporarily in Appalachian Ohio with my partner's relatives until we found the right place in Columbus. While I met some wonderful people and did some fun things (mainly through the UU church in Marietta), I am excited for this new chapter of urban homesteading, art making, and settling down into homeschooling.

And find our dream we did! While we had a tall order of what we sought in a place, this place satisfies all of them, albiet differently than we expected (magick manifestation often works that way- you get what you seek, but not as your limited brain thinks to ask for them). We have awesome neighbors who are artists, activists, and organizers- so we have lots in common. They also have small children, and that is great for Rowan.

In our new place, Rowan will be growing up. He will be getting his own room, his own bed, and a pet fishy! He will start potty learning, going on weekly trips to the library, the zoo, and the community garden (as well as working in our yard). He will start homeschooling in earnest.

We will be rebuilding our temple and finding other traditional Witches to circle with. We have friends in our small tradition in Tennessee and West Virginia, but my partner and I are the only initiates in Ohio. There are other traditional Witches in the area, and perhaps some of them have things in common with us (we are not Wiccan). I am hoping to meet them as well as folks from the ADF (Columbus has a large druid population and the local ADF grove hosts public sabbats).

Mine and Yours!
I will be starting up a new version of my parrot business (I work with parrots, corvids, and other birds professionally).

I will be developing our Etsy store and local business for Boline. I plan on making remedies with the herbs and mushrooms and bees I raise. I have 4 types of medicinal mushrooms coming and will be making herbal syrups, herbal honeys, sachets, tinctures, balms, salves, and lotions. Our magickal offerings will be amulets, charms, candle spells, talismans, divination, and poppets.

We will be doing mostly custom work, based on the needs of our clients- although I will offer some basic spells like blessings, protection, love, and abundance spells. These are all done according to the principles of our Craft: following lunar cycles and other portents, using our Contacts for reinforcement of the work, following the principles that make our tradition so unique (being an American Craft tradition, we have influences form all the populations that are on this continent- indigenous and immigrant. Our tradition has brujo, Appalachian, southern conjure, European, Ho O'mana, and Voudou influences. That gives us a lot of power to draw upon!).

Where are you, Ohio Rad Fae?!
I am excited to start homesteading, both in our yard with our neighbors and in the neighborhood community garden. I am hoping to raise chickens at the community garden, since our yard does not work for such an endeavor. It is in walking distance! I am thrilled to start living sustainably again- no more throwing away so much! (In the part of the world that I stayed in for 6 months, no one recycles- there is no curbside service, no centers to take items to, and everyone just throws everything away. The house I stayed in did not garden or compost, either. They used toxic cleaning products that hurt my throat and it was very squicky experience for me.)

I have already bought a worm composter and will be using my coffee grounds to raise oyster mushrooms. If I get the chickens I want, they will be getting scrap greens and eggshells, too. My neighbor and I will be building a large container to hold our recyclables and take turns driving them to the center.

We will be building our tribe. My partner and I have talked about having regular gatherings- Radical Faery brunches, crafternoons, game nights, backyard movie and fire pit nights, and so much more. We will be making art, writing poetry, organizing events, getting hooked into causes, and becoming part of these communities. We want to find our people and create community here in our chosen city. Part of the tribe-building will include starting Pagan Playdate Columbus and maybe even a homeschool outing group and spiral scouts troop.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parental Disagreements

Welcome to the February 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Respectful Interactions With Other Parents
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 focused on how we can communicate with other parents compassionately.

Welcome to the February Carnival of Natural Parenting: Respectful Interactions with Other Parents. 
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 are
 focusing on how we can communicate with other parents compassionately. Share your tips, challenges, or experiences with communicating nonviolently during disagreements, commenting or communicating without being judgmental, or responding when you feel judged or criticized.
 Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Baby wearing? Isn't that dangerous?
Most people that adhere to natural parenting ideas such as co-sleeping, no (or delayed) vaccinations, no circumcision, baby led weaning, and the like meet with everything from puzzled looks to outright hostility from others, especially other parents. I am no exception- especially when you combine natural parenting with a minority religion that is deeply misunderstood, a family that is not exactly "normal", and my outspoken politics- and well, I get disagreed with a lot. I expect people to say things about my religion, my politics, and my even my relationships. While I don't welcome it, I do expect it. I even expect it from relatives. But the comments about my parenting surprised me.

After all, I am a dedicated mom who is doing a great job most of the time*. My son is healthy and thriving and ahead developmentally of most of his peers (he just turned two and is counting to ten, learning the alphabet, knows his colors and numbers, can speak in 4-5 word sentences, can tell me what he is feeling (the latest new named emotion is "excited"!). He is happy, loved and has never been struck. We are teaching him to be respectful, polite, and empathetic. I have done research every step of the way and all my decisions that affect his future have been weighed carefully, never made on a whim or without information.

Why don't you dress him "like a boy?"
Yet it seems that everyone seems to think that they can do a great job parenting your kid(s), especially if they are parents themselves. "Advice" lurks everywhere, whether you ask for it or not- and that's when the "feedback" is not overtly hostile. Many times people take your parenting choices as a threat to theirs- because they have chosen differently, they feel defensive (even when you are not on the offensive).

My goal, when confronted with other people's values about how I should raise my son, is to first protect my son, second, not let it ruin my day, then and only then possibly educate others. Depending on the circumstance ad context, I take a variety of tactics with other parents:

1. Asking questions. When someone make a comment laden with assumptions (these often happen when someone hears of my decision to not vaccinate Rowan, at least for now), I try and step back and ask questions instead of reacting. If you can mold your questions to get to the heart of the assumptions made (that I am ignorant or uneducated, a dupe, dangerous to others, etc.), often people will have to start thinking and engaging in dialogue instead of speaking on auto-pilot. When a relative who works in western allopathic health care "called me out" on not vaccinating recently, I asked her if she had information that I have not read already. Then I asked her of she had read the things that I have. Turns out, I was better educated on the issue and she learned something from me!

You took him to the Queer Pride parade?
2. Humor. Nothing diffuses a tense situation like humor. When someone "girls" Rowan repeatedly, even after we refer to him in front of them with male pronouns (People just do not hear what they cannot understand, I guess. His long hair negates anything else most people see.), sometimes we make a joke out of it. I try and be educational about my remarks- letting people know in a gentle way that boys can have long hair, and that colors, patterns, clothing, and hairstyles do not actually "have gender".

3. Pointed remarks. When my son is experiencing an overload of emotions (often called a tantrum by others), particularly in public, we often will get dirty looks or remarks about how I don't have "control" of my son. Or we get looks, sighs, or comments in restaurants that say, "This is very disruptive to our lives". To my mind, it is not my son that is the problem. The problem is a culture that assumes adults have more rights than kids, and assumes that children should do exactly what the adults around want. I usually say something like, "I'm sorry my son's emotions are inconvenient for you." While that could sound snarky, I say it in such an "innocent", pleasant way that most people smile and nod, until they take in what exactly I said. By then, we are usually gone.

4. Silence. Often I let the remarks slide. If I do not think the person is open or receptive enough to dialogue, I let it pass. After all, these remarks are not even about me as a parent or my son as a child. They only reflect the insecurities and mindset of the person and I choose not to take them personally.

*While that sounds arrogant, it's not. Stating things you know to be true and taking pride in your accomplishments is never arrogant. Women especially are told never to do this and I do not agree with that "ideal". 


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:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon February 14 with all the carnival links.)

  • How to Respond Respectfully to Unwanted Parenting Advice and Judgment — At Natural Parents Network, Amy (of Peace 4 Parents) offers some ways to deal with parenting advice and criticism, whether it's from your mom or the grocery store clerk.
  • Judgement is Natural - Just Don't Condemn — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shared her views on why judgment is unavoidable and why the bigger issue is condemnation.
  • Four Ways To Share Your Parenting Philosophy Gently — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares tips for communicating with fellow parents in a positive, peaceful manner.
  • When Other Parents Disagree With You — Being an attachment parent is hard enough, but when you are Lily, aka Witch Mom, someone who does not enforce gender roles on her kid, who devalues capitalism and materialism, and instead prefers homeschooling and homesteading — you are bound to disagree with someone, somewhere!
  • Mama Bashing — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on the hurt caused on the blogosphere by mama bashing and pleads for a more mindful way of dealing with differences.
  • Accentuate the Positive — Joella at Fine and Fair shares how she manages interactions with the parents she encounters in her work as a Parent Coach and Substance Abuse Counselor by building trusting relationships and affirming strengths.
  • The politics of mothers – keys to respectful interactions with other parents — Tara from MUMmedia offers great tips for handling the inevitable conflict of ideas and personalities in parenting/mother's groups, etc.
  • Trying to build our village — Sheila at A Gift Universe tells how she went from knowing no other moms in her new town to building a real community of mothers.
  • Internet Etiquette in the Mommy Wars — Shannon at The Artful Mama discusses how she handles heated topics in the "Mommy-space" online.
  • Parenting with Convictions — Sarah at Parenting God's Children encourages love and support for fellow parents and their convictions.
  • How To Be Respectful Despite Disagreeing On Parenting Styles... — Jenny at I'm a Full-Time Mummy shares her two cents' worth on how to have respectful interactions with other parents despite disagreeing on parenting styles.
  • Public RelationsMomma Jorje touches on keeping the peace when discussing parenting styles.
  • Navigating Parenting Politics — Since choosing an alternative parenting style means rejecting the mainstream, Miriam at The Other Baby Book shares a few simple tips that can help avoid hurt feelings.
  • Hiding in my grace cave — Lauren at Hobo Mama wants to forget that not all parents are as respectful and tolerant as the people with whom she now surrounds herself.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting - Respectful Interactions with Other Parents — Wolfmother at Fabulous Mama Chronicles explores how her attitude has changed regarding sharing information and opinions with others and how she now chooses to keep the peace during social outings.
  • Empathy and respect — Helen at zen mummy tries to find her zen in the midst of the Mummy Wars.
  • Not Holier Than Thou — Amyables at Toddler in Tow muses about how she's learned to love all parents, despite differences, disagreements, and awkward conversations.
  • Nonviolent Communication and Unconditional Love — Wendylori at High Needs Attachment reflects on the choice to not take offense as the key to honest and open communication.
  • Respectful Parenting As a Way of Life — Sylvia at MaMammalia writes about using her parenting philosophy as a guide to dealing with other parents who make very different choices from her.
  • Homeschooling: Why Not? — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares how parents can often make homeschooling work for their family even if, at first glance, it may seem daunting.
  • If You Can’t Say Something Nice… — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells her philosophy for online and offline interactions … a philosophy based primarily on a children’s movie.
  • Different Rules for Different Families — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses how differences between families affect our children, and how that can be a good thing.
  • Respectful Interaction With Other Parents — Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares the ways she surrounds herself with a like-minded support network, so that she can gently advocate in her dealings with those whose opinions on parenting differ vastly from her own.
  • Parenting as a mirror — Rather than discrediting others' parenting styles, Kate Wicker discusses why she tries to focus on doing right rather than being right — and why she’s also not afraid to show others that she’s a heartfelt but imperfect mama just trying to be the best mom for her family.
  • The One Thing {Most} Parents Have In Common: They Try Their Best — Christine at African Babies Don't Cry finds interacting with other parents easier once she accepts that they are all just trying their best, just like her.
  • Finding your mama-groove: 5 ways to eliminate judge/be judged metalityMudpieMama reveals 5 ways of thinking that have helped her find her mama-groove and better navigate tricky parenting discussions.
  • Speaking Up For Those Who Can't — We've all had those moments when someone said something hurtful or insensitive, or downright rude that just shocks you to your core, and you're stunned into silence. Afterwards, you go home and think "Gosh, I wish I said…" This post by Arpita at Up Down, And Natural is for all the breastfeeding mamas who have thought "Gosh, I wish I said…"
  • Thank you for your opinion — Gaby at Tmuffin shares her go-to comment when she feels like others are judging her parenting style.
  • Mending — A playground conversation about jeans veers off course until a little mending by Kenna at Million Tiny Things is needed.
  • The Thing You Don't Know — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about what she believes is one of the most important things you can consider when it comes to compassionate communication with other parents.
  • 3 Tips for Interacting with Other Parents Respectfully When You Disagree with Them — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares what she has learned about respectful interactions on her parenting journey.
  • Peacefully Keeping My Cool: Quotes from Ana — How do you keep your cool? Ana from Pandamoly shares some of her favorite retorts and conversation starters when her Parenting Ethos comes into question.
  • Kind Matters — Carrie at Love Notes Mama discusses how she strives to be the type of person she'd want to meet.
  • Doing it my way but respecting your highway. — Terri from Child of the Nature Isle is determined to walk with her family on the road less travelled whether you like it or not!
  • Saying "I'm Right and You're Wrong" Seldom Does Much To Improve Your Cause... — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment writes about how living by example motivates her actions and interactions with others.
  • Have another kid and you won't care — Cassie of There's a Pickle in My Life, after having her second child, knows exactly how to respond to opposing advice.
  • Ten Tips to Communicate Respectfully, Even When You Disagree — What if disagreements with our partners, our children or even complete strangers ultimately led to more harmony and deeper connections? They can! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares ten tips to strengthen our relationships in the midst of conflict.
  • A Little Light Conversation — Zoie at TouchstoneZ explains why respect needs to be given to every parent unconditionally.
  • Why I used to hide the formula box — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen finally talks about how judgement between parents changed her views on how she handles differences in parenting.
  • Assumptions — Nada at minimomist discusses how not everyone is able to nurse, physically, mentally, or emotionally.
  • Shushing Your Inner Judgey McJudgerson — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction knows that judging others is easy to do, but recognizing that we all parent from different perspectives takes work.
  • Respectfully Interacting with Others Online — Lani at Boobie Time Blog discusses the importance of remaining respectful behind the disguise of the internet.
  • Presumption of Good Will — Why — and how — Crunchy Con Mommy is going to try to assume the best of people she disagrees with on important issues.
  • Being Gracious with Parenting Advice — Tips for giving and receiving parenting advice with grace from Lisa at My World Edenwild.
  • Explain, Smile, Escape — Don't know what to do when you're confronted by another parent who disagrees with you? Amy at Anktangle shares a story from her life along with a helpful method for navigating these types of tricky situations (complete with a handy flow chart!).
  • Balancing Cultures and ChoicesDulce de leche discusses the challenges of walking the tightrope between generations while balancing cultural and family ties.
  • Linky - Parenting Peacefully with Social MediaHannabert's Mom discusses parenting in a social media world.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sustainable Living: Flea Repellent for Companion Furries

In this post, I am sharing information on products that I have actually used or told others to use who are near and dear to me. I have not been given anything for free, nor been paid to "review" anything. This post is NOT a review, but instead is a "share".

Many of you don't know that I have been an animal caregiver and healer for many years. In my offline professional life, I often don't share with everyone that I am a Witch. So I often keep quiet about that animal-laden life online, too. But I have not only rescued and rehabilitated many animals, but also have been a holistic healer, nutritionist, and reiki-giver to companion and wild animals for years.

One of the toxic things that even "crunchy" or natural folks do that is preventable and unnecessary is treating their furry companions (dogs and cats) with a topical flea treatment like Advantage. Did you know that this stuff contains a neurotoxin? And that many companion animals have adverse reactions to it, such as seizures- sometimes for the rest of their lives?

This is completely unnecessary and harmful to pets, humans, and the environment. Further, as more and more animals are being put on these regimens, fleas and ticks are getting resistant to the poison and they are coming out with more toxic remedies to replace the less effective ones. Stop the madness and get off the cycle of poison!

Many people do not understand when they get an flea infestation that they need to treat their home as well as their animal. They also may not know that when get fleas, you likely get tapeworm and need to treat for that, too.

Here are alternatives for infestation treatment as well as ongoing prevention.

1. Nothing works faster than a bath. Nothing. And you do not need a fancy flea shampoo, no matter how slick the marketing. Soap kills fleas. They cannot swim, so place an inch or so of water at the bottom of the basin that your animal is in, too.
Get yourself a natural soap (Dr. Bronner's Eucalyptus is a great choice, as eucalyptus naturally acts as a repellent, in case you miss some) and a flea comb. If you have a bath hating creature, make sure you have backup to restrain the animal as you methodically soap, comb, and rinse the animal.

2. Treat your home and especially ALL the areas your pet frequents, like pet beds, crates, bedding, and sofas. There are two treatments that do a great job for this purpose. Diatomaceous earth (get food grade- Azmira makes a great large sized package) and Flea Busters, which is a mineral based treatment. Both are powders, so wear a mask over your face when applying. Get the powder deep into fabrics, carpet, and into the cracks between hardwood floors. Remember, fleas are tiny but must be destroyed! Follow the directions exactly for FleaBusters.

3. Treat for tapeworms. Tapeworms go along for the ride with fleas and quickly will infest your pet. Azmira and Quantum make great herbal dewormers.

1. Dietary supplements- by far, the best prevention for any blood sucking parasites are blood bittering and B vitamin rich supplements. These have the advantage of also being healthy for your pet. The two best formulas that I have found are the "Internal Powders" by Earth Animal- they have two formulas- a nutritional yeast formula and a green herbal formula. While the packages and products look substantially different, they do the same thing with different ingredients. I recommend the yeast formula for cats, mostly. Cats love nutritional yeast and tend to be persnickety when it comes to things being added to their food. This is a taste they like. Obviously, if your cat has a yeast issue, that will not work. The herbal formula is great for dogs. I used it myself for years and my dog would go everywhere outside and never had a flea or tick. If your animal refuses daily supplementation like this, I would resort to their tinctures. (Administering tinctures to an animal is sucky, though!)

2. Diatomaceous earth in their bedding and in the periphery of your home. Sprinkle this around where they frequent and also near porches and such to keep fleas at bay.

3. Lifestyle change- if your cat keeps coming home with fleas, perhaps it is time to give the wild birds a break and keep kitty inside. His/her life will be longer, they will get less infections from fights, and bonus- no fleas!

4. While they tend to only protect the head of an animal- there are herbal flea collars.

5. More frequent baths- either with a soap that has tea tree or eucalyptus oils, or a dust bath with diatomaceous earth (in the case of cats). Don't worry, the DE is edible and will kill internal parasites as well! There is DE in all our processed grains like breakfast cereal. Do NOT use essential oils on cats- they will get very sick.

Hope this post helped ya'll!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Tu B'Shvat!

If you are holding a sapling in your hand and someone tells you the Messiah has come, plant the sapling first, then go look for the Messiah. - Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai 

Earlier this week was the Jewish holiday, Tu B'Shvat. Tu B'Shvat is the 15th of the Hebrew month Shvat, and is known as the "New Year for Fruit of the Trees". This is one of those Jewish holidays with its pagan roots clearly showing. Any agricultural holiday has pagan roots, and this is no exception.

I love this holiday! Not only is it "the birthday of the trees", but it is one of the two Jewish holidays with a seder meal (the other being Pesach, or Passover)!

In the 16th century, the Kabbalists of Tzfat compiled a Tu B'Shvat seder, somewhat similar to the seder for Passover. It involves enjoying the fruits of the tree, particularly those native to the Land of Israel, and discusses philosophical and Kabbalistic concepts associated with the day. Among other things, the seder is a great way to appreciate the bounty that we so often take for granted, and to develop a good and generous eye for the world around us.

Would love to credit artist, if
someone knows who they are!
When I took the class "The Jewish Liturgical Year in the Diaspora" at Starr King School for the Ministry, I was delighted to participate in the seder, which has fruits (and nuts) of trees. The seder has seven fruits to ritually eat and contemplate as well as juice or wine, both light and dark.

Trees are entwined not only in pagan traditions, but Jewish ones as well. In the pre-temple days, early Jews worshipped Asherah, a goddess who was represented by a post or tree.

Many Jewish parents continue the tree connection by planting a tree (cedar for boys, cypress for girls) to commemorate their child's birth on the Tu B'Shvat after their child was born.

Additionally, when a Jewish couple gets married, two trees come together as one chuppah under which the couple takes their vows.

These are just a couple of the tangible ways to draw the connection between human beings and trees, both physically and spiritually. As a Witch, I often meditate on the tree as a way to connect with both earth (grounding) and space (the cosmos). I extend roots into the earth and energetic "branches" into space. In this way, I am the middle pillar, the cosmic tree that connects the worlds.

A prayer is said as part of the ritual meal, which is:
Praise to Adonai, who is Lord and ruler over all, for creating the fruit of the trees.

Praise to Adonai, who is Lord and ruler over all, for keeping us well to reach this season.

If you are interested in sharing this holiday with children, here is a link to some Tu B'Shvat coloring pages, and here are some craft ideas. Here is a whole mini site for Tu B'Shvat with kids.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

eBooks! A Whole New World!

In this post, I am sharing information on products and book titles that I actually use and/or am interested in. I have not been given anything for free, nor been paid to "review" anything. This post is NOT a review, but instead is a "share".

Umm... OK. Satan's my homeboy!
For Yule, I was given a Nook Color and I have been using it daily for all kinds of awesomeness (reading, games, the internet, video streaming). Now before I dive into the Nook, I want to state for the record that I am a book person. I prefer print over pixels and I collect books that are meaningful to me. I have quite the collection, actually. I resisted digital books even as I used my iPod for digitizing my music collection and giving away my CDs. There is something sacred and amazing about a book, and that cannot be replaced by a machine. When I buy witchy and occult books, I usually get them here, at Field's Books. It is an amazing resource.

But I am learning to see the Nook as something new- and to value what it has to offer. I can cheaply read lots of books that I always meant to (Google Books has an amazing list of FREE classics that I have downloaded.)*, but never got around to.

Doncha hate all the new age nutjobs obsessing
over this year? As I read somewhere else on the web,
"Maybe if columbus hadn't slaughtered them all,
the Mayans would have had time to finish their
damn calendar!"
I am an avid reader that is usually in the midst of three titles at a time. I can read any of those books, anytime anywhere with my Nook. While I still obtain print copies of titles that I consider worthy of being part of a permanent collection, many many books I read are never worth that honor. And now I do not have to waste resources (trees) by simply reading a title.

“On the one hand, a Kindle or a Nook is perfect for reading a 1,000-page George R. R. Martin novel,” said Eric Simonoff, a literary agent. “On the other hand, these devices are uniquely suited for mid-length content that runs too long for shrinking magazines and are too pamphletlike to credibly be called a book.” (Funny, one of the books I am reading now is the boxed set of Game of Thrones! Ha!)

I also have been finding some of my academic titles (for grad school) available on Google Books, and it saves me money and time (no waiting for the books to arrive!) using the Nook. Many of these books I also do not intend to keep, so using the Nook is perfect for such a purpose. Just today, I bought a Carter Heyward title for one of my classes.

To counteract those boneheads above...
My biggest issue right now is finding titles that I would want to read available in the ePub or Reader formats. I am a picky reader, and most of the time, the New York Times bestseller list does not reflect my tastes. I like high quality books on Witchcraft and the occult, and most of the titles out there (both in print and in digital editions are in my opinion, crap.

As with everything driven by capitalism, what becomes available digitally is the best selling stuff. And Witchcraft is NOT a religion of the masses. Many smaller publishers that I love are taking the plunge making their books available in this way, yet many of even the bigger publishing houses are scared of what this change means for their profits. Many digital only houses are starting up like Smashwords, The Atavist, and Byliner.

So sorting through the Witchcraft section of the Barnes and Noble site, there are a few titles that I would be interested in exploring. They have titles that I know, love and possess already (and those I will not buy for the Nook), but I am always looking for more information and new things to read. So here are some titles that I put on my wishlist this week:

Voudou: Zora Neale Hurston's Tell My Horse and Mules and Men. These are fabulous resources for studying Voudou folk practices in the American South.

Indigenous Peoples and their Religions: Walking in the Sacred Manner by Mark St. Pierre and Tilda Long Soldier. This is all about women healers, dreamers, and leaders in the Plains nations of what is now the United States. It isn't released yet, but it looks like a good book! Bradford Keeney has a book called Bushman Shaman: Awakening the Spirit through Ecstatic Dance that I may check out. And I think Plant Spirit Shamanism: Traditional Techniques for Healing the Soul sounds pretty decent.

Old Occult and alchemical books and tracts: The Philosophy of Natural Magic by Henry Cornelius Agrippa (originally assembled in the early 1500's), THE DIVINE PYMANDER of Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus, Jacob Boehme's SIGNATURA RERUM; THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS, Francis Barrett's The Magus, Crowley's Temple of Solomon the King, and A.E. Waite's The Hermetic Museum, Volume One and his The Pictorial Key to the Tarot.

For equality, diversity, and all things right and just,
buy LOTS of Girl Scout cookies this year.
Euro Traditions and Lore: The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies - Illustrated is a scottish title about the fair folk published in 1691. James Bonwick has a tract on Irish Druids, and Old Irish Religions that also looks interesting. I also may pick up a copy of Raymond Buckland's Book of Gypsy Magic.

Other: The new edition of Margot Adler's Drawing Down the Moon and Lon Milo DuQuettes Low Magick: It's All In Your Head ... You Just Have No Idea How Big Your Head Is. I used to have a copy of the tract Witches, Midwives, & Nurses: A History of Women Healers, but now there is a (Second Edition)

All those titles, and I only got to page 4 of 18 in that category! Not bad!

*I specifically asked for a Nook over a Kindle because I value cooperation over competition. Nook uses Adobe technology, which means you can download eBooks from all kinds of places, not just Barnes and Noble. The Kindle you must use through Amazon due to proprietary technology. B & N has more titles available, too. Including newspapers and magazines! And Barnes and Noble have taken the love of information further by offering their PubIt! service.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Religion in the News

Here's a roundup of interesting religious news from around the world!

Agtivist Adam Berman combines his Jewish faith with urban farming for a wonderful, sustainable combination.

Infamous African "Witch Hunter" may get permission to visit the US and preach, despite human rights violations and objections. The Facebook page rallying against her entry is here. Here is a website fighting her work and saving children in Nigeria.

Atheist activist Alain de Botton believes there should be an "atheist temple" in London. Makes sense to me- everyone needs connection and community!

Newt Gingrich calls Gay Marriage a "pagan behavior". I agree!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Magickal Principles I Am Teaching my Son

A few years back, I wrote this blog post where I outlined the magickal principles that I would teach my son.

1. Magical cause and effect.
2. All living things have a consciousness and specific energetic properties.
3. There are many ways to communicate- human language is but one.
4. "The Invisibles" are real.
5. The borders between this world and the next are not very solid.
6. There is plenty of Mystery- and not everything can be explained or needs to be.
7. We are responsible for what happens as a result of our words and deeds, even if/when we cannot predict what the outcome will be.
8. History, myth, and story are Truth. There is no "objective" reality or truth.

MOther and Child in Russia at the summer solstice.
The business of teaching a child magick is a strange one. After all, children are natural Witches, and usually have the magick beaten out of them, either literally or figuratively. I know that after a while, my family discouraged my natural talents of talking to animals, plants, the dead, and the fey. It took me decades to restore them. My partner says the same of his childhood.

Rowan's father and I work very hard to encourage his talents in any realm, be they magickal or musical. We know that even offhand unintended remarks by adults can be discouraging, so we try and think before we speak, especially when tired or frustrated. So when Rowan is talking to someone that I cannot see, I do not dismiss the object of his attentions. I watch and do not interrupt. When he tells me stories of flying in his dreams, I ask where he went.

Lately, we have been focusing on principles #2 and #7. They seem the most toddler-friendly of the eight.

Erzulie Dantor and Child.
To demonstrate that all living things have a consciousness and specific energetic properties, we work a lot with animals and in the outdoors. He is learning how the energy fields of animals differ, how they "taste" differently when you cannot see them, and how plants and animals communicate differently. Anytime we are outside, we encounter plants- even parking lot landscaping is an opportunity for learning! We work on asking before we take something- especially if that thing is part of a greater living being (like a flower or leaf). We leave offerings of spit in exchange.

To demonstrate that we are responsible for what happens as a result of our words and deeds, even if/when we cannot predict what the outcome will be, we talk to Rowan A LOT. We use te words "if" and "then" a lot. We are demonstrating that if he decides to stop eating dinner and leave the table, he won't get snacks to make up the difference. He can always choose to come back, until dinner is over for everyone. (The up and down is a new annoying phase, I must tell you, though!) These very mundane examples will lead the way to a larger discussion on how we are responsible for our magick workings as well- after all, as above, so below!