No resolutions.

I don’t make them. Not a one. I always over-reach and end up setting myself up for failure. So I don’t make resolutions. But boy am I glad 2015 is over.

Last year was full of ups and downs. I’m not talking about the downs. I am so thrilled that we found a place of our own, with help from friends and the Universe (Ganesha gets ALL THE CHOCOLATE). We’re nearly unpacked, really, and loving the cozy little house with the cozy little backyard and the lovely neighbors.

Now that Life is starting to settle down, Work will be ramping up. Mother has been talkative this season, and given firm instruction in some cases. New home means new Folk, who are very very quiet so far but a little more openly wicked than others I’ve lived near. Sir was making stronger motions just before Samhain, and I expect Him to ask more of me this year. Ganesha moved a lot of boulders to help us get where we are; He will expect me to follow through on Ganeshotsav this year.

Work will be hand-in-hand with life, too. I’m socking away whatever I can to help us buy the house, which we are currently renting, but also stuffing funds away to help keep Raven’s Own going and to try to get to Twilight Covening this year (I’ve missed two).

The Kahina Stones gave me no absolutes for New Year’s, either – it’s up to me to make this year my bitch. Or not.

I have goals. Just no resolutions.

I do have a Wish this time around, though.

That all who are lost find their way.
That all who love find love returned to them.
That all who are hurt find what they need to heal.
That we all find our purpose in this crazy, frustrating, wonderful world, even if that purpose is to just be our crazy, frustrating, wonderful selves.

Unfucking All the Shit

Lots of chaos around here, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Raven’s Cave is officially migrating. Moving days are scheduled; storage is upgraded; our intent to vacate has been delivered and acknowledged. We have boxes (earth and sky, do we have boxes), a cranky middle son (who has to find his own lodgings because REASONS), very tired us, and a couple of very confused cats.

In all of the chaos, a couple of very good things have occurred.

First, we had planned for paying $200 more for our rent for the month of March, as our lease ends March 4th and our property management is typically about as flexible as Kevlar. When we received our acknowledgement, however, it showed us paying our current rate for the next two months we’re here. That’s $200 we can use for, say, emergency funds, or to rent a shampooer and steamer.

Kit’s layoff was originally scheduled for January 31st. He has (in his words) received a “stay of execution.” His layoff date is now officially March 7.  This gives us five extra weeks of him earning overtime for us to save, as well as a full month of his severance while we’re moved in with our friend, giving us a whole lot more to stash away. It takes off some of the pressure, giving him more time to search for a new job without as much panic. It’s also well-timed; the transportation plan we had set down would have been greatly complicated had his extension lasted beyond March (not that any of us would have been unhappy to see more of an extension, but one car + two jobs + kid in school = nutbar).

Meanwhile, I’ve been working on packing us up, one box a day, while still trying to keep the house in some kind of order. The biggest help in all this so far has been UnFuck Your Habitat. They have a website, a Tumblr blog, and a phone application; I ponied up the $1.99 for it and have been using it to get little things done around the house without overwhelming myself. It’s been amazing so far. I am unfucking all the shit, man, including my own frazzled brain. Between that tool and help from amazing friends, I have been so much calmer the past few days, feeling more like this is a manageable thing.

Kit’s been helpful where he can be, too. There’s still a lot of stress; that and the weather are still kicking his fibromyalgia into massive flares. I pack a box before he gets home; he goes over thoughts and scheduling with me and helps me fidget with it if needed.

There’s still a lot to do, and there’s still a good bit of stress coming down the line. But dude. Unfucking all the shit. One box at a time.

Sacrifices and Gains

The first anniversary of my collar approaches. How time has flown! Kit and I are preparing to go to that Beltane festival once again, our fifth(?) year attending. Last year was colored much by the coming Ordeals. This year I can’t wait to go. But it got me thinking about sacrifices… and gains.

In the six months before my Ordeal, gave up video games almost entirely. Being that they were my primary means of relaxation, that was a bit of a big deal. I gave up choice in my hairstyle, wearing it almost exclusively in a braid of some sort unless otherwise given permission. (I still do this, these days for comfort.) I gave Him time on a regular basis, served His needs, listened to His instructions and words. And He sacrificed too, staying awake during the winter to guide me when He would normally be on the other side of the Hedge.

The night of my Ordeal, I sacrificed myself, but I sacrificed other things too. I sacrificed time with Kit – Beltane had always been our time, and now it’s O/our time. In wearing the items I did, I also took concepts with me. The $50 thong I bought just for the Ordeal was cut off and burned in the fire, a serious sacrifice to a budget-minded bull like me. The perfectly-fitting corset I wore was cut away, something I found beautiful. The robe I wore over top was a gift from Kit, bought during our first Beltane, sentimental and cherished. While the corset and robe were returned to me the next day, I walked into that Ordeal expecting to lose all the items I wore forever. I gave up a lot of pride and ego being used in the ways He did. I sacrificed these things to Him, and He rewarded me by returning what He could.

Since then, I have given up time and money to pursue O/our businesses, to make them successful and turn them into a doorway for other Work that He would have me (and Kit) do. As much as I would like to hack off all my hair some days, I am not permitted to; I have given those choices over to Him. I have twisted my tongue to speak more correctly, as He desires, backtracking on my own words and futzing out my brain as I adjust. And there is more to come.

But in the process, I have gained so much.

I have His love, protection, and patience, among other things. My relationship with Kit is still going strong, if not stronger. As good as my life was before, it’s better now – richer in life and experience, more colorful, more meaningful. The little joys make me smile so much broader than they used to, and the little irritations aren’t bothering me quite so much. It is not by any means perfect. It certainly isn’t easy. I still have massive day job frustrations. I am still mother to some amazing but often exasperating Mediterranean boys. Kit and I both still have our bad days, sometimes together, as do Sir and I. But it is right, and good, and wonderful more than it isn’t.

This Beltane, I might visit the space where I earned His collar. I might pick up a new toy for Him and I. But I will enjoy U/us – all of U/us – and celebrate His return to power as my 29th year begins among friends and those whom I love.

Blessed Beltane, all. May you find something about which to be joyous.

Sacred Space, reconnecting, and why my work is my Work.

Last week Kit and I attended a small local Pagan conference called Sacred Space. If you haven’t heard of it, you should look into it. While I wasn’t specifically attracted to any of them for myself, many of the workshops were attended by friends of mine or by Kit, and they had nothing but glowing reviews. What is presented there runs the gamut, with subject matter like aging and death; recognizing the difference between spiritual experience and mental illness (your own and others’); Ifa Orisha art and lore; and much more. It’s a conference for those who are well beyond Paganism 101, but appears to be accessible to folks who are at that level as well. There is a healer’s room where seasoned practitioners offer reiki, acupuncture, and massage, and a small vendor’s room, which is where I spent most of my time, sitting at our vending table.

I was far from bored. I was able to meet and talk with several of the presenters and attendees (for the record, Luisah Teish is a riot). I had a blast talking with my fellow vendors and conference staff. I spent much of the time weaving chain maille or doing readings from the Kahina Stones, and that is where much of my benefit came in.

I have never done well trying to sit quietly and meditate. Guided meditations are easier. Sitting quietly makes me twitchy, so I have found other ways. Cross-stitch was always a very good way for me, and chain maille has filled the same need. In essence, I sat for four days and meditated almost constantly, because I was constantly weaving. When I wasn’t, I was making connections with other Pagans of wide and varied traditions, none of whom judged me for my path. Otherwise, I was working with the Kahina Stones, introducing others to the system, working with her quirks and opening up to hear Tamalut. It was a weekend of re-focusing, re-centering on where my craft is taking me. And it didn’t end when I came home.

Monday night was the dark moon, meaning date night with Sir. I had missed the last two out of negligence, and could not miss this one. But my ‘phone was not working that day; reaching out to Him, I actually encountered what I’ll call a “busy signal;” He literally answered me with, “No signal available.” This worried me, because I dearly wanted to talk with Him. Instead, I took a book.

I don’t normally take distractions on O/our date nights. My cell is normally off limits unless it’s an emergency; I do my damnedest to face away from televisions; I don’t carry a book. But this book had been thrust my way by Kit after quite a bit of nudging from Sir – Andre Norton’s Horn Crown. So, since my ‘phone wasn’t working, I took the book, figuring that since He wanted me to read it, it was as good a time as any to start.

Around 1:00AM, I finished the book; I couldn’t put it down. I was invested in it as I haven’t been invested in a book in several years. He flooded through me, and I started to cry with relief, with sorrow that I have been so negligent. He was not unkind, and held me (I can’t express how I had missed His touch), but He was stern: the apologies have to stop, the regret and self-flagellation have to stop, because they are doing nobody any good. (He says now, with a mischievous smile, I’m the only one allowed to flagellate you.) Right now, as a youth, He wants fun, He wants vitality, He wants me to keep up.

If it seems He is incredibly patient with me, that’s because He is. It’s not outside His character – He is the Master Hunter, and if a hunter is impatient, he and his will starve. That isn’t the only reason for his patience, however, and that is where my Work comes in – along with another reminder He gave me Monday night.

Raven’s Own started as a vehicle to let Kit and me continue to create without overrunning our small home or the homes of our friends and families. The chain maille, among other things, has slightly shifted that focus. He said to me Monday night, Remember where you started. Remember why you started weaving. Anyone who has read this blog from the beginning knows exactly when I started weaving maille, and why – because I had to make the collar I would earn the right to wear, His collar, and chain maille was the option that seemed most workable. Eighteen months later, I can’t put down my tools. And it all began because I was making this one piece, this one significant item, that would completely change my life. With reverence, and love, and determination I wove those first links – and unraveled them – and wove them again, different and stronger and better. It has become my work, and is a part of my Work, a way to express my creativity and connect with Him. Every time I pick up my tools, it hearkens back to those first uncertain links in the first chain I wove for Us, a chain too stiff to bend, that had to come apart and be remade… a little like me.

So He is patient while I weave and practice with the Stones and run the business and take our efforts to events. And as I weave, I reconnect, and so I continue to learn, and He continues to be patient as I keep doing the work, and the Work, that He has set before me.

But He still wants His Red Stag at the end of the day. (Naked and with a smile, He says with a grin.)

A few Imbolc notes.

First, Blessed Imbolc! Sir is back; my head is swimming a bit, but I’m so happy to have Him back. Kit and I have an amazing feast planned and are otherwise doing some cleaning up and refreshing of altars and such.

In the meantime… the next phase of my life changing drastically begins today. Sir has stated that I must try to make Raven’s Own and her sister projects my full time work – meaning I must quit my day job. However, I cannot, for the sake of my family, simply stop the flow of income I am currently getting from my day job – and that He understands. So today, I have started a fundraiser on Indiegogo to help raise one year’s worth of funds. If I meet my goal, I will quit my job in June and put my focus on the Work He has in store for me – including Raven’s Own, Tafat n Kahina, and more. If you can help, there are some lovely perks, from the $10 level on up, and every little bit helps.

Meanwhile, in even lovelier news, my dear friend Irene over at Pink Pagan Priestess has released a wonderful gift for everyone – a new five-song EP from her Pagan folk side project, Imbolc Fire. It features two members of her metal band – drummer (and husband) Jay Jericho and lead guitarist Chris Kackley – and is gorgeous. (My Kit and I contributed to the last track as well – that was a lot of fun!) So pop over to Imbolc Fire to download “Drum and Chalice” for free! (A donation is appreciated, but not required.)

Blessed day, all. I’m gonna go rest up before the cooking storm begins!

The Dark Time

In less than 7 days, my Master and Lover dies.

The aspect of Cernunnos who claims me as His lover and slave follows a cycle of death and rebirth. Last year He resisted it to help me through my training. This time He cannot, nor will He try. His time to die is approaching fast. It’s not something I’ve wanted to think about, but as the time grows closer, it presses on my mind more and more.

On October 31st, I remove His offering cup from my altar. The candles change from white to black. I cover His image with a black cloth, and I wear a black scarf in my hair. As the veil lifts between the dead and the living, another drops to separate U/us.

His voice has been growing weaker, His presence tired. It is an effort for both of U/us now to reach each other. My heart hurts to think about it. While He is born again on Yule, my virile Lover will not be back to me until Imbolc. Three months apart, while He dies, sleeps, is reborn, and grows to Youth.

I am fortunate, and not. I have my Kitten all through the year, the light and the dark times. I can’t say how grateful I am for him, and how much I love himm. But I love my Sir equally, and this will occur every year. I must be patient. I must have faith. But I have no doubt it will be hard, and I have no illusions that it will get any easier.

So begins the dark time of the year.

Gratitude and Ganeshotsav

Ganesh Chaturthi was yesterday, and I am focusing on Ganesha until the 29th. Even Sir says, “He takes precedence.” This means several things for me. I don’t eat meat for the duration. I eat a little more in the way of treats. My altar is now dedicated to Ganesha, with a special cloth, statue, incense burner, and offering dish. I’ll have to take a photo; the statue really is quite gorgeous. I offer Him sweets, incense, and sometimes flowers. I have yet to do a proper puja, but He seems satisfied with chocolates. (I’ve offered Moonpies in the past; I can’t tell you how amused He was.)

So, Blessed Ganeshotsav, all.

While I haven’t been keeping up with the daily gratitude, today I have an extra special one. I am so very grateful for my support group. My family. My friends. My deities. They have helped me during hard times. They have cheered me during my successes. They have been with me through thick and thin, and I love T/them.

Why the sudden outpouring? Let’s just say… the wind has brought this little bird word of another criticism of my path by those who know nothing about me. I wanted to remind myself that I am loved and supported by T/those who know me, and to express to the universe how thankful I am for it.