Fire Burn, and Teapot Bubble.

One thing I dig about kitchen witchery, it’s as quick and subtle as you like. I pretty much have carte blanche from my S.O. to do it as needed, but I still like not having to explain why the apartment’s lit by candles, full of incense smoke, and covered in chalk marks.

The day started pretty well. My IIH pressure relented a little today, I managed to give the floor a sweep and the counters a wipe down, posted a blog entry, and wrote a fairly lengthy article about surgical treatment for sleep apnea. (Which was actually really interesting — did you know that they can correct it by moving your jaw forward? I didn’t! Apparently it increases the size of the airway and can fix obstructive sleep apnea for people who haven’t had any luck with other treatments.) I gave all the plants that aren’t currently dormant some water and a little conversation, and laid out some stones to charge in the (mostly cloud-covered) sun.

Not bad. It’s more than I can usually do most days without being left completely exhausted and in pain, so I was feeling pretty good!

Unfortunately, things weren’t as nice for my S.O. The recent changes in government have left him in a tenuous spot — we’re not sure if he’ll be able to keep his job now. It’s a pretty scary prospect, especially considering that I’m most likely going to lose my medical insurance and we were planning on putting me on his in the event that I do. To say that this is a stressful prospect is a bit of an understatement.

I’ve had the Five of Pentacles turn up a couple of times for me lately, too, so I’m not exactly feeling encouraged. It appears in times of loss, or, in this case, impending loss, but it carries a helpful message — even in the face of adversity, it’s important not to give up and lose sight of your ability to improve your situation. This is a lesson that’s tough for me to remember sometimes, but I’m working on it.

I figured I’d take advantage of the burst of energy I had today and try to make things a little more pleasant for when he got home. I brewed up a cup of strong tea (one T of chamomile, one of rooibos, 1/8 t of turmeric, 1/8 t of cinnamon, and some vanilla soy milk), charged it with as much peacefulness and prosperity energy as I could, and set it by my S.O.’s computer to steep for him. Since I’ve got a memory like a sieve, I’d forgotten to set any chicken or salmon to thaw, so dinner was pasta, red sauce with lots of prosperity-drawing basil, salad, and steamed asparagus.

(As an aside, sauces are a pretty great way to add magick to your food. All of the elements are present when you cook, from the fire you heat it with, to the water you boil, to the earth in the herbs, to the air in the bubbles and steam. They generally need a lot of stirring, so load them up with the right herbs and stir clockwise to draw things to you or counter-clockwise to banish them.)

Fresh herbs on a table.

I even saved the romaine lettuce butts to see if I can get them to sprout again, and am drawing out some plans for a microgreens setup that’ll fit in our closet. There’s a lot of window space here, so it might be a good time to get back into sprouting jars. A couple of leaves of lettuce or some mustard sprouts aren’t exactly homesteading, but it’s something. The fewer groceries we have to buy, the better.

Do I think we’ll be okay? Probably. I have my work cut out for me, though. Days where I’m this productive are relatively thin on the ground. Disability claims take forever to process, and rejections and lawsuits are pretty much par for the course. At this point, I’m still working on expanding the couple of things I can do to help keep things ticking along and my S.O. from stressing.

Dazzle Camouflage, Sigil Style.

I’ve been getting increasingly paranoid about anonymity when it comes to political stuff. With the repeated demonization of protesters (including a bill put forth to quell them “by any means necessary”), I’ve felt the need to keep my political activities separate from my identity and internet presence — not just for myself, but for those close to me whose careers or social lives could be jeopardized by my actions.

One factor that should be taken into account is facial recognition technology, which is honestly pretty scary. Fortunately, the software is not perfect — with a little anti-facial-recognition makeup and some ingenuity, it’s possible to keep from being picked out. If you’re of a witchy persuasion, you can combine this with symbols and protective magick to avoid detection.

There are a bunch of different rule sets for creating sigils and other magickal symbols, all of which can easily be added to the facial-recognition-breaking ideas behind CV dazzle camouflage:

  • Draw it on using makeup that contrasts sharply with your skin tone. Go for deep blacks and bright whites. Most faces don’t have areas of very sharp contrast, so the bigger the difference between your camouflage and your skin color, the better.
  • Most sigils I’ve seen have at least one vertical line. Center this line down the area where the brows and nose meet, since facial recognition software looks for the typical t-zone shape of a human face in order to pick it out.
  • Try to incorporate the edges of the sigil in your hair or edges of your face to visually distort your face shape. Most human faces fall into one of a handful of recognizable shapes (round, square, heart, oval, triangle, or diamond), so break up the outline of yours.

 

Lastly, keep your social media clean. If you do opt to post photos of yourself (or anyone else) try not to do it on a platform that can be tied back to you. Apps like Face Dazzler can help you preserve the anonymity of any undisguised subjects in your photos.

Need help making sigils? Try this Sigil Creator. Don’t have face paint? Consider making your own (and adding a drop or three of skin-safe protective oils or elixirs as a bonus). It’s also a good idea to get some practice with a makeup face chart before actually trying techniques out on your skin. When you do try it out, snap a picture of yourself with your cell phone — if it’s able to detect your face, tweak your design until it can’t.

Good luck, and stay safe.

I got my first morion!

Note: This post contains an affiliate link to the supplier I purchase some of my stones from. Thank you for helping to support both them and this site!

Smoky quartz is kind of my jam. It has been for awhile — while a lot of metaphysical and magickal guides say that clear quartz is an all-purpose stone, I have a much deeper affinity for smokies.

For the most part, my collection consists of regular smoky quartz. I have a couple pieces of rutilated smoky quartz (quartz with needles of rutile in it), but they’re all various shades of light to medium gray and brown. Morion quartz is a bit different. Unlike regular smoky quartz, morion is very, very deep brown to nearly black. It forms under the same conditions as other smoky quartz, but ends up being very dark and opaque. Like other forms of colorful quartz, prolonged exposure to sunlight can fade the color.

Magickally, it’s sometimes considered a more potent variant of smoky quartz and therefore useful for grounding and protection. Others consider it a universally powerful stone. I’m most likely going to use this one as an altar stone and meditative focus.

Okay, now on to the fun part.

Rather than a crystal point, this is a section of crystal that broke off long ago. While laying broken, it became the foundation for what looks like an entire city of tinier crystals. I guess it’d be considered a type of “barnacle” or “trigger” quartz, but some of these crystals are rather large and very well-formed. There are crystals growing through each other, one tiny one that looks almost like a bit of fairy quartz, twin crystals, and one forming on its side that looks double-terminated. It’s a really beautiful piece, and there’s no way a picture or two can do it justice — it really requires some serious inspection and contemplation to take in all of the details. I love it!

Like my other big smoky that features in a lot of my photos, this crystal came from Bliss Crystals on Etsy. While I do enjoy being able to pick my own from a brick and mortar shop or gem show, I’ve never gotten a disappointing stone from them.

Do you work with morion? What has your experience been like?

 

 

 

The Grinding Wheel

Remember these nerds?

They’ve been coming up constantly for me. No matter how well I clear the deck’s energy, no matter how I shuffle, or how many times, it’s Wheel of Fortune, Wheel of Fortune, Wheel of Fortune.

Now, I don’t necessarily view this as a bad thing. The Wheel is a reminder that everything has its season — time for increase, and time for decrease. Times to reap, and times to sow. It can be an intimidating reminder, sure, if you are at a point where “What goes around, comes around” feels like a daunting prospect. It reminds you to jump on the opportunities life throws your way. It’s also a reminder that you get out what you put in to things.

I’m trying to keep the last part in mind. It’s tough now, when I’m trying to balance improving my independence with what I am physically and mentally capable of taking on — at the same time that I’m getting stronger, I’m also going out more and doing more things. I will only receive the measure of what I put in to things, but I am still getting used to begin able to put much in at all. I have days when my disability smacks me in the face (or right at the base of my skull, as it were), so there are times when I’ve got stuff to do and a stark reminder of my diminished capacity at the same time.

It seems like these are important things for me to focus on — the turning of the Wheel, getting out what you put in, seizing the opportunities life presents to you.

Audentes Fortuna iuvat.

Haunted Maraca, Barely Used.

Sometimes, when I’m feeling down, I like to go on Etsy or eBay and look up the word “haunted.” I don’t ever buy anything (I’ve written about my feelings re: haunted objects before, and I have enough paranormal weirdness happen around me for free that I’d feel dumb as butts if I decided to pay for extra ghosts), I just like reading background stories for secondhand porcelain dolls and thrift-shop jewelry.

Take this little lady, for example:

Her name is Gabrielle but feel free to call her Gabby.
The name Gabrielle sounded much too grown up for her liking, although she secretly was beginning to like it.
Gabby was a funny, kindhearted young girl. She happened to be disabled to the extent that she needed full time care. She was very tiny for her age. Her aunt Mary was her caretaker. And she also ended Gabby’s 12 years of life with a pillow over the helpless girl’s face. Source.

Holy crap.

Every once in awhile, I find something that isn’t a murdered child’s soul trapped in a doll body, or an ancient incubus or particularly horny vampire ensnared in a ring.

Something like this.

This is an item that was unfortunately used in satanic rituals and as a result has a nasty entity attached to it.  I discovered during EVP sessions that it was saying things like, ” I hate you” and something to the effect of “rip your face off”- these items are only for responsible collectors as anyone who does collect these items knows that it can have very serious/devastating effects on your own personality and/or health.  I advise collectors to not keep items in your living space. Source.

If I had money to spare and was of a mind to buy a haunted object, this would be it. I unironically think it is completely rad. I would give it its own room (ringed in salt, asafoetida, and cascarilla powder like some kind of demonic playpen) and a little pillow to sit on. There’s something indescribably hilarious to me about a single haunted maraca. I couldn’t tell you what it is, just know that I laughed like a hyena in a nitrous factory until I hurt myself.

Just picture the Satan party that must have happened for this artifact to happen. I’ve read some things, and I cannot for the life of me imagine a) what kind of Satanic ritual requires rumba music (isn’t Satanism mostly associated with ominous chanting and rock ‘n’ roll?), or b) what kind of demon would chill out in the kind of instrument that a garage band lead singer’s untalented significant other gets to play. Musically speaking, a maraca is what the tone-deaf kid gets in music class. It’s a step below a triangle, even, because at least that has more than one part.
A possessed guitar, a drum, that I can see. A maraca, though?

Now, I’m really not trying to dog on maracas. I love rattles of any description (my dad used to make them when I was a kid, from rawhide, turtle shells, or steer horn). I’ve dried gourds and made my own. I use them in my practice, and maracas have a long and fascinating history of spiritual use. They are divination and healing objects for shamans, but those maracas are given specific markings and are in no way associated with Satanic rituals. Traditional maracas are some pretty amazing and powerful works of art.

I just really, really, really want to know the rest of the story. Does the entity have a name? What kind of rituals was the maraca used in? Was the entity summoned on purpose, or did they wander in accidentally? Do I have to shake the maraca to be threatened and insulted, or do its self-esteem-and-mental-health-ruining powers flow freely? Is there a matching maraca somewhere? I have so many questions.

A friend of mine pointed out that a maraca that says “I hate you” and “I want to rip your face off” when you shake it isn’t really scary, mostly just rude. I agreed, figuring you could probably find a maraca that was used in church a whole bunch and was infested with angels and they’d cancel each other out. All, *rattlerattleYousuckrattlerattle*  *rattlerattleYourhairlooksamazingthoughrattlerattle*.

So, I’m not sure if this listing resulted from a Satanic jam session, a strange conflation of shamanism with satanism, or what. Either way, though, I pity the demon who gets themselves stuck in a single goddamned maraca.

Curious Things This Week — 1/15/17

Hello! This week, I’ve got:

Andrew Crosse and the Perfect Insect: Creating Life from Rocks and Electricity — “In the year 1837 Mr. Crosse was pursuing some experiments on electro-crystallisation, and in the course of these investigations insects made their appearance under conditions usually fatal to animal life. Mr. Crosse never did more than state the fact of these appearances, which were totally unexpected by him, and in respect to which he had never put forth any theory.”

Mysterious Stone Instruments Keep Being Discovered in Vietnam — “Archaeologists, historians, and anthropologists puzzled over the stones, until someone decided to put them in order from largest to smallest, and lay them over a pair of supports, like a xylophone. ‘It immediately became apparent…that this was undoubtedly a musical instrument,’ New Scientist wrote in 1957. ‘It was possible to play tunes on them ranging from a simplified version of Claire de Lune to Pop Goes the Weasel.’ The markings on them were identified as remnants of the tuning process.”

I’m gonna be a vampire. Maybe. — Either vampires have decided to ditch the whole “secrecy” thing, or spammers are really stepping up their game.

Man Paid DMV With 298,745 Pennies In Pettiest Revenge Scheme Ever — I can only aspire to this level of pettiness.

Lastly, I leave you with a song:

Dear Publisher: This is Why I Rejected Your Job.

I do a lot of my work through sites designed to hook up freelancers with people who need stuff written. Some of them only let you accept one job at a time, but allow you the freedom to work with different clients every day instead of getting locked into a contract. Others offer you the security of a contract, but may leave you stuck negotiating with someone you don’t want to work with rather than being one-and-done.

Sometimes, I click on a job, read over the instructions, and click away faster than you can say, “Oh hell no.” There are a number of reasons why this happens:

  • The instructions are hyper-specific. Everyone wants a project where they get paid to write freely about the topic presented to them, but that doesn’t come along often. People generally want content that adheres to specific rules — length, formatting, reading level, keyword density, and the like. There’s nothing wrong with this, and it’s even sometimes a fun challenge.
    That said, if the instructions are longer than the article you’re asking me to write will be, I’m not going to accept. The amount of adjusting and double-checking I’ll have to do to make sure I’m meeting all of the criteria (while still producing natural-sounding writing) will take extra time, and, since I’m not paid hourly, that directly cuts into what I’m earning.
  • The instructions don’t make sense. Relatively few content publishers put up a single article at a time. Usually they need a whole mess of ’em, all unique, and that means putting up a new set of instructions for Every. Single. One. It is understandably tedious and confusing.
    Unfortunately, that means that a lot of instructions are copy-pasted disasters that reference things that aren’t relevant to the project. The subject might be inconsistent with the required keywords, or the word count requested in the body of the instructions may not match the required word count entered into the job form. While these inconsistencies are usually minor and can be corrected with a quick email to the publisher, every hour I spend waiting for a reply is an hour nobody’s making any money.
  • The instructions are condescending. There’s no standard for becoming a freelance writer. Many of us aren’t necessarily fluent in English, may not have stellar grammar, and may not have received an education beyond high school. Literally anyone can sign up to write things, and the market filters out the writers who don’t deliver. That can take a little while to do, so some publishers may find themselves occasionally dealing with a less-than-amazing writer. I completely understand that this is frustrating. Really, I get it.
    Frustration is still no reason to include insulting language in a job’s instructions. Rudeness is doubly unnecessary because the fact that there are instructions in the first place implies that the writer will be expected to fix their work until it’s compliant with them. You don’t get to rely on other people to provide labor, talk down to them, and expect them to want to work for you.
  • The math doesn’t check out. “Keyword density” refers to the percentage of an article that’s taken up by keywords, and it’s a pretty big deal for a lot of jobs. Some people don’t care about density, just so long as their keywords make it into the article. Others want a keyword used exactly once so they can attach a link to it. Still others want you to strike a balance between including plenty of  keywords and not sounding like an android trying to ask Google’s search algorithm to prom. I gotta be honest, though… Sometimes the last part doesn’t quite compute.
    I have had situations where I have been asked to write a 450 word article, handed a list of twelve keywords, and told to use them 2-3 times each while maintaining a keyword density of 2-3%.
    ಠ_ಠ
  • The corrections are vague. I’ve had situations where I’ve submitted my writing, received some corrections, then canceled a job. I have no issue at all with rewording something, adjusting a keyword, or correcting grammar, but these have to be outlined in plain language.
    “I don’t like how this sounds” is not actionable. If I receive vague style corrections, there’s really not much I can do with them — if someone doesn’t like my writing style, we’re probably both better served by them working with someone else. I’ll cancel the job, it’ll go back to the author’s pool, and hopefully will be picked up by someone whose voice is a better fit for the project. It’s nothing personal, but every minute I spend re-working an article based on guesswork and hoping for the best is a minute I’m losing money by not writing a new article.
  • It doesn’t pay enough. Writers gotta eat. Sometimes, it just isn’t cost-effective to take a job — even if it seems easy.

 

So, there’s a peek into the ever-exciting world of freelance content creation. As much as I might have griped about it here, I really do love it. It’ll never make me rich, but it’s one of the few things my disability allows me to do to stay alive and I really dig the opportunity to challenge myself and learn new things by researching and writing about topics I’m not familiar with. (Do you want to know how to properly winterize an attic? I can tell you. And I don’t even have an attic.) Of course, like anything else, it has its warts.

Do you do any freelance writing? What frustrations have you encountered?

The Moon In Your Moon.

There’re a lot of very poetic notions about menstruation and the lunar cycle.

Unfortunately, like a lot of people for whom endometrial tissue management is a regularly recurring problem, my cycle is not actually twenty eight days long. I felt kind of broken when I first realized this — even my mother told me that “women have either a twenty one or twenty eight day cycle.” (Haha, no. While twenty eight days is average, it is totally normal to have a cycle that is shorter or longer. Sometimes significantly so.)

So while I had the idea of tracking my cycle with the phases of the moon in the beginning (“Oh, it’s waning. Better stock up on Advil.”) this rapidly proved to be fruitless. That doesn’t necessarily mean there’s no information to be gained from it.

Every phase of the moon has its own attendant properties. The waxing moon increases, the waning moon decreases, the new moon is for beginning, and the full moon is fruition. Every ritual to honor one aspect must therefore, by necessity, honor the others — every full moon ritual has its roots in the beginnings represented by the new moon. And, like the cycle represented by the Wheel of Fortune in tarot, it continues without end, bringing forth each season.

Moon and orange clouds.

I’ve noticed a correspondence between my biological cycle and where it falls in the lunar cycle. The full moon brings those times when I feel the most love and gratitude. The waning moon times have always been when I had something I needed to release from my life. The waxing moon times are times of promise and growth. The new moon times are times when it’s time to get off my ass and start some things.

I’m usually not able to do much when I’m dealing with cramping, bleeding, and elevated intracranial pressure, so it forces me into a few days of rest and reflection. I’m not of a mind to regard menstruation as particularly sacred or perform menstrual magick, but it’s a valuable time to get my head right and take a look at where I am in this cycle. It’s certainly better than feeling somehow “out of step” with the universe for not feeling the same direct lunar connection that others seem to feel.

How do the cycles of the moon play through your life?

 

 

 

 

So I Tried Headspace.

Have you heard of it? I’m guessing “probably,” though I admittedly didn’t until I downloaded it — now it seems like there’s adverts and interviews about it everywhere!

Anyhow, Headspace is an app that helps you learn to meditate. I’ve been meditating for awhile, though some of my practices are slightly unorthodox, but I saw some definite value in it. Like exercising at home, it’s still beneficial to occasionally have someone to help you adjust your form or show you new ways to do the things you enjoy. The app was free, looked like it might help, so why not?

abstract-meditation-concept

Now that I’ve given it a couple tries, I have to say — I like it! The meditations are guided by a dude named Andy, and he managed to hit the “sweet spot” that a lot of guides miss for me. His voice is clear, I’m not hit with vocal fry, and he neither goes too fast nor too slow. He’s easy to keep up with, and I don’t find myself getting bored mid-sentence and wishing he’d skip to the end and let me relax. I also like that the app offers to notify you when it’s time to meditate every day. I try to do it daily as it is, but notifications are always helpful (especially when you have a memory like mine).

Has it had an impact on my anxiety or physical health? Not yet, but I’m not new to meditation and have only just begun using this app. I can see it helping in the future, and I think people who don’t really meditate regularly otherwise will get a lot of value out of it. I wish I’d had it when I was working at the lab, because sneaking outside on my lunch breaks for a ten-minute meditation would probably have saved my sanity some days.

Nobody from Headspace compensated me for writing this. As someone with anxiety and someone who meditates, I get a kick out of trying new apps that purport to help with those things, seeing what they’re about, and then offering my review to anyone else who might be thinking of giving them a shot. If you’re brand-new to meditation or someone who makes a point of practicing it daily, I’d recommend giving Headspace a look. Even if you don’t need to use it yourself, it’s a neat little app to poke around in, and one I can see recommending to other people who could use a little calming moment every day. Give it a shot, I think you’ll like it.

Banishing the Thigh Gap.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have a thigh gap.

I’m not saying this as an “omg I’m so skinny u guys!” humblebrag, because I am actively trying to destroy it before it destroys me. At my last doctor’s appointment, I managed to pull off a BMI of 18.5 — borderline underweight — by slightly underestimating my height, having a full bladder, and wearing shoes. Personally, I blame it on Diamox weight loss.

See, the thing is, being on Diamox killed my appetite and make me nauseated a lot of the time. I was also petrified of chloride acidosis, so I limited my diet to foods that were high in potassium and low in salt– in other words, a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. A diet of high-nutrient, low calorie food + no appetite = some pretty extreme weight loss. Other people experience weight loss from Diamox too. I can’t speak to what caused it for them, but I offer solidarity daps to anyone who has had to deal with it.

While I haven’t necessarily struggled with my weight throughout my life, I have struggled with how I feel about it before. In the beginning, I felt a perverse sense of pleasure at watching the numbers on the scale go down every few days. Now, I just wish I couldn’t see my sternum through my cleavage. Not feeling up to dessert every night lands me squarely in the “underweight” category in a matter of days. It’s frustrating, upsetting, and more than a little scary. What if I get sick? What if I need a medication that’s going to cause me to lose more of my appetite? What if I end up overdosing because I’m given a dose calculated for someone of average weight?

I just want my pants to fit again!

I just want my pants to fit again!

 

Gaining weight healthfully isn’t exactly easy, though. I mean, it’s definitely more complicated than just eating more cheeseburgers and an extra milkshake every night. I’m very concerned about maintaining my cardiac health, so I try to keep my saturated fat and sodium intake below a certain threshold. I also don’t want to overconsume sugar, so I keep an eye on that, too. So, as far as macronutrients go, I’m left with… unsaturated fats and protein. This is fine, but there’s only so much chicken and olive oil a person can eat in a day, you know? So, I’m trying to loosen up some of my self-imposed restrictions. Maybe I’ll eat too much sugar one day, or too much saturated fat the next, but if I’m getting the calories, fiber, vitamins, and minerals that I need, it can’t be the end of the world.

Because I’ve gotten used to Diamox causing me to lose my appetite, I find it’s easiest to “front load” my days. I have a big breakfast, then try to snack as much as I can bring myself to until dinner time. I eat what I can during dinner, and hope I’m not at a calorie deficit at the end of the day. Breakfast is usually a muffin, some plain yogurt, some fruit, a cup of soy milk, and a handful or so of pumpkin seeds. All told, it totals from 500-700 calories (depending on how much I’m able to eat). Snacks are usually more fruit, some baby carrots and sunflower seed butter, or a piece of cheese. Dinner varies pretty widely. Most of the time it’s a struggle to eat more than 1200-1500 calories per day. I’m not quite gaining weight the way I’d like, but at least I don’t think I’m losing more.

Have you ever had to gain weight? How did you do it?