How to Eat Well At Festivals Without Breaking the Bank

Ah, festival season. A time of making new friends, spending time with old friends, and hitting a few workshops for entertainment, enlightenment, and education on the side.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that my body is not always happy with the old standby of no sleep, with extra caffeine and sugar on the side during these sorts of events – eating well and sleeping have become important factors in getting the most out of events.

The trouble with this, of course, is that “eating well” in the hospitality suite of most indoor events is not likely to happen, and most outdoor events don’t even have a hospitality suite. And if you’re in a hotel, the hotel restaurant is always an option….but that gets expensive. So do food vendors at outdoor events.

So, what’s a Pagan who is looking to eat real food to do?

First, you have to plan ahead. Will your residence for the next few days have a refrigerator? Microwave? Electricity? How many meals will you need? (Does that include meals on the road, which are more likely to be fast food because you’re traveling?) How much space is in your luggage?

Let’s start with breakfast. We’ve successfully taken frozen breakfast sandwiches in a cooler, and let them thaw over the course of a couple of days, which is great if you have a microwave. For those times without a microwave, I usually stick with muffins or oatmeal – coffee pots can make water hot enough for instant oats, and campfires boil water pretty quickly as well.  On more ambitious outdoor weeks, we often do eggs and biscuits (using a “Bakepacker” or similar steam cooking device).

Much of my daily lunch and dinner suggestions for these sorts of things are based on dried foods and lightweight backpacking experiences, because the last thing you want to do is spend hours cooking when you could be having fun. Besides, not only do dried foods store well and cook quickly with just boiling water, but they’re a good thing to have on hand in emergencies where you can’t get to the store.

 

A package of
The ubiquitous Mountain House freeze dried meal – usually edible, but high on sodium

While there are commercially available freeze dried meals, and the ubiquitous military surplus MRE, you’ll likely eat better making your own meals – and at a better cost too.  Interestingly, the Mormons and their penchant for keeping a year’s worth of food on hand are a great source for this sort of thing, including portioning them out into canning jars for use over the next few months. Backpacking websites are good for this sort of thing too, usually planning single-serve meals (which is not a bad thing – have a whole box of them, and let people grab their own, on their own time!)

Package of Thrive Life's Snackies - freeze dried peach slices
“Snackies” from Thrive Life are snackable dried foods, but Thrive Life has a ton of different foods, and make good pantry supplies that make a good dinner any night, even if you’re not on the road

We have a list at home, from the days when my children were often in the hospital. When someone would ask what they could do, we’d send them grocery shopping for a specific list of sandwich fixings and healthy (portable) snacks – and we’d eat that way for days in the hospital. If you’re careful not to squish your bread, you can do this for festivals too.  Pick 1-2 condiments, 1-2 lunch meats, 1-2 cheeses, and bread. Apples, oranges, and grapes don’t need a lot of handling. Pre-washed salads, single serve snacks, and cans or bottles of beverages may need a fridge or cooler, but don’t require fancy prep work.

And, as always, remember to consider bringing plates, silverware, and glasses that you’re going to wash, rather than disposables, because it’s generally better for the environment!

Pop Culture Paganism: Part 1 Loona’s Story

There seems to be a theme of people who have issues with the idea and the concepts of Pop Culture Paganism.  Many of these people have issues claiming that it makes pagans look bad, is full of fakes, and playgans.  Often those who cry out against pop culture paganism claim that those who would use Pop culture symbols in their worship and practice are lazy, have a lack of knowledge of the ancient traditions, and they often claim that there is an inability to tell the difference between fiction and reality.

For people like me this is often highly insulting.  Many of us are educated in our paths and practices.  We simply like to use the modern images from pop culture to connect to the Gods and spirits of our path.  These modern images are powerful tools for reaching the various spiritual forces out there.  These modern images can be useful in relating to beings that many people may never have heard of without the use of pop culture.

I do not identify as a Pop culture pagan.  However I have used popular culture in my path and my practice.  I see the dangers and I see the benefits of working with Pop Culture images.  This is the first in a series of posts talking about the subject.  I figured before I got into the meat of the issues around pop culture paganism it would be a good idea to start with my own experience with the use of Pop culture symbolism.

I started my path with Pop culture Paganism. It was a combination of the Disney Hercules series and Sailor Moon combined with reading the Greek and Roman Myths and books on Wicca. Now keep in mind that I was about 9-10 when this started but I still feel that this is an important thing to share.

As a child and teen these images resonated with me and helped me relate to an connect to the various Gods and spirits in the world. These images to me were gateways to the power within the Gods. Before starting what i thought was Wicca I often spoke to the Muses of Greek Myth. Originally I thought of them as angels to God, but that changed when I read the myths and realized that people believed them to be Gods originally. (I saw the movie Hercules first, then I saw the cartoon Hercules series and then the live action Xena and Hercules series). Still those images provided me a tool to connect to the power of the Gods.

I didn;’t quite understand Polytheism at the time. So for me they were “Gods” but under the main God who was the father of Jesus. You could say I was exploring my understandings within the religious framework I had been exposed to. Still to talk to an communicate with those Gods I was drawing on the image found within the Disney Movie Hercules and the Hercules Cartoon series I watched every Saturday Morning. When I spoke to Zeus or Hera or even Hades I used the images of those Gods from the source I most recognized.

When I started to explore Wicca and Paganism I understood they were not servants of one Larger God but were Gods in their own right. So I dropped the frame of Christianity and continued to speak to those Gods and work with them. I still used the images from Disney. I was now 14 and questioning religion and spirituality.

At the same time I was starting to watch the anime Sailor Moon. As the story progressed and I looked at the Sailor Senshi I saw the properties of the Roman Gods within the Senshi and I was able to find a way to focus and connect with a Moon Goddess. I knew that the image wasn’t the Goddess but it was a tool to help me focus and connect.

I used the images of Queen Serenity from Sailor Moon to connect to the moon Goddess Selene. I knew that the image I was using to connect to Selene wasn’t actually Selene, but it helped me connect to and focus on that divine presence. I had no other image or idea to connect with, so the image of Queen Serenity helped me relate to her.

17 years later and I still can find images in pop culture useful in connecting to Gods and spirits.Today when I call on Thor I occasionally use the image from the Marvel movies to connect to that energy. Again I know it is not Thor but it helps me focus and reach the actual Thor. The same goes for Loki and Odin. I use my knowledge of the lore to connect to the Gods I am trying to connect to. The image I use just happens to come from Modern Popular culture. I still use Norse Rituals to honor those Gods. I simply have a modern image of the Gods I use to connect with.

Today when working with the Moon Goddess Diana I still occasionally use the image of Queen Serenity. Most often I use that as the gateway to get to the other images I have of a Moon Goddess. These images are tools to help connect to the divine forces and nothing more or less.  They are just like the tools used in various spells or rituals.  They are props to help get into the right mind frame and connect with the energy you are working with.

In essence there is nothing wrong with using the images from popular culture in your work. If they help you connect with spirit and the universe than they are a tool for you. The danger comes when you start to claim that these pop culture figures and images are the same as the ancient Gods. Anyone who truly respects Gods as individuals would never say that. They would however more than likely admit that the images can be powerful tool to connect to the Gods they represent.

Odyne and Apollo: A Parable

I’d like to preface this piece with a little background and a warning. I am a worshipper of neither of these deities. I was asked by a friend to write a story about the gods and it was these two who came through. The parable below may trigger some because it contains unwilling restraint as well as torture. (I’ll not call it ‘light torture’ because that’s an oxymoron.)  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As I sit here, kneeling at the altar of my gods, I am doing my best to keep my composure.  I have been waiting, literally, for hours and they haven’t shown up.  Trying to focus on my meditation and chants, my mind wanders to ‘what if they have abandoned me?’ and ‘what if they are simply hallucinations I have to make myself feel better?’  My thoughts wander to wilder places and farther reaches as time stretches on.  As I have yet to tame them completely, my emotions begin to run through the spectrum.  I can’t seem to get myself focused.  My resignation turns to pity and then pity to anger.

I take a deep breath and close my eyes.  This is ridiculous. I keep shifting and trying to get comfortable.  Everything below my waist is numb.  Taking another deep breath, I shift again.  I’m getting angry.  Really.  Angry.

“Interesting,” says a male voice, “that you would assume that summoning us meant that we would drop everything and come running.  We are, after all, gods.”

I’m startled from my anger to see none other than Apollo.  Dumbly I say, “But I didn’t call you tonight.”

He laughs.  “No, but you got me,” he replies.  “You mortals are like small, spoiled children.”

I am taken aback at his words.  “Why are you here?  We aren’t like small children!”

The young Olympian laughs at me, again.  Our conversation is then interrupted by the appearance of the goddess.  Apollo smiles and bows to the Lady.  I am confused.  She is not who I called, either.  Before I can say anything, she says, “No, you didn’t call upon me with your words.  You called upon me with your anger and pain.”

I stammer, still very confused.  “I…”

“Stop,” she commands.  “The time for speaking is well past.  Now, it is time for you to listen.  You beg the gods for this and you rail at us when things do not go your way.  You expect we are here for simply your pleasure, yet we are not.  We have been here since before your kind stood up straight and we will be here to pick up the pieces when your kind is gone.  Your anger feeds some of us, just like your joy feeds others.  You openly desire that which feels good, but you secretly revel in that which gives you pain.  I am that pain.”

Suddenly, I am bound and blindfolded, unable to move.  My breath stops for a moment.  This is not what I expected.  “I am Odyne,” she declares as she touches my left shoulder.

I scream as every nerve ending in my back comes alive with white-hot fury.  My anger is forgotten in the midst of the torture.  When she pulls her hand away, my misery almost stops.  Almost.  She begins to speak and her words fall on my ears like minuscule droplets of lava spewing from a volcano.  “You humans all have expectations.  You expect each other to do and say certain things, even when it is not in your nature.  Then, you hurt.  You expect your gods to do for you things that you will not do for yourselves.  Then, you hurt.  It would be more productive and less painful if you simply boiled yourself in a steaming vat of some liquid or another or leaped from a ledge.”

Again, she touches me, this time at the base of my skull.  The pain is dull and throbbing and it spreads down my neck, to my arms and upper back.  I can feel all of my muscles spasm at once.  My mouth opens but no sound emerges.  “You expect the gods to give you good crops.  You expect them to feed your herds and families.  You expect your families to conform to your expectations and for the seasons to bend to your will.  What happens when they don’t?  Anguish.”

When she releases me this time, I topple over.  Unable to catch myself, my face hits the cool tile floor.  Undoubtedly I will have a bruised cheek, but oh is the tile soothing!  My breath comes out in ragged gasps.  Apollo sits me back up and steadies me.  He removes my blindfold, tucks my hair behind my ears and wipes the tear tracks from my face.  “Odyne, I believe that she understands now.  You have struck her dumb with pain,” he whispers.

The goddess looks me up and down.  “We shall see,” she responds.

Suddenly, Odyne is gone and with her my bonds.  Apollo leans me against the altar and sits near me.  “Odyne is a harsh mistress,” he says, “but in meting out pain she removes obstacles.”

My voice refuses to work.  I open my mouth, close it, and open it again.  Apollo shakes his head.  “Shh.  You need only listen for now is my time to bestow the blessings I have brought.”

He takes my still numb hand and begins to rub it, coaxing the feeling back.  “The Lady brought you this pain.  Harsh she may be, but it is her blessing to bestow.  I bring you clarity through the torture.  Observe the behavior of others.  See them with clear eyes.  Hear them with clear ears.  Have no expectations.  If you do not expect that they will behave in a certain way, then you can not be disappointed.  When you see and hear them as they are, you will know their words and actions before they do.  In doing this, you will avoid much of the pain you now experience.”

I look at Apollo and half-smile.  “Thank you,” I say.  “Thank you for making me wait.  Thank you for not being whom I called upon.  Thank you for caring enough to stay with me and for blessing me.  I will carry this lesson with me through this life.  I will bless others with your words.”

Apollo kisses my hand, smiles a youthful smile, and leaves me.  I find my strength and close my ritual.  It is always the unexpected that touches me and leaves me with life-long lessons.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

This piece was originally posted here on Oct. 11, 2015.

River Mourningstar

 

Michigan Pagan Fest brings the power June 22-25 2017

Diane Lonsway raises up the primal forces for Michigan Pagan Fest 2017 with her theme of “Root, Soil, and Stone” this year. The primal and elemental “materia magicka” of presenters and performers from far and wide that promise to engage, influence, and educate attendees. The woman who describes herself in words such as “laid back, humble, smart, can be funny, people-pleaser” brought home the goods with this year’s line-up.

Michigan Pagan Fest Official Banner – Event Page

Headliners include Witchdoctor Utu, Dragon Ritual Drummers, Amber K , and Azrael Arynn K. Local Headliners include teachers Lady Bona Dea  Max Maya, and Baba Ted Juaw. This festival just continues to draw so much talent that it is almost inconceivable that it has not expanded to a week. Her programming is always rock solid.

Do you wish to see for yourself? Then take a gaze upon her schedule and be amazed.

 

(Full disclosure, I will be teaching this year at this event. Honestly, I get around.)

Plenty of opportunities for self-reflection abound, as this is also a campground based festival. This means that there is always time to play, read, relax, and enjoy the social activities that the Michigan Pagan Communities offer. Secure and safe, the family feeling and good vibes permeate the entire area.

Image: Pixabay

Showers and indoor bathrooms make this a fun time, even for the novice at festival camping. Local hotels are giving a special rate for Pagan “festies”, and a staff of volunteers are there to answer questions. Diane is never far away, either, so you can also thank her for a great event in person.

Do not forget, that shopping and “ooh, shiney” is part of the experience. Vendors with wares that delight, dazzle, and inspire amusement populate the shopper’s area. The famous raffle bar rides again, as does the charity/food drive for Pagans In Need. Organizations that make a difference in the community are also slated to be in attendance. Who knows, you may find a calling to volunteer.

Food is available on site. However, you can definitely bring your own to heighten your experience….such as roasting marshmallows and having ring chants. I like Ghirardelli chocolates on mine. Just saying.

Image: Public Domain

The children will have fun at the workshops created just for them. Last year, they even had a children’s ritual. My own daughter, being the early teen Empress she is, was more fascinated with fawning over the soaps at Twisted Willow Soap Company and chasing after a passing puppy, of course.

(This was all part of a failed plot to enamor me toward dog adoption. Umm, no, allerergen level 100 here)

New this year, Blue Crow Talent joins the bill. This is the only local Pagan friendly circus in Metro Detroit. They have major chops, were founded in Detroit’s circuit, and are set to play in Las Vegas, baby! I LOVE THESE FOLKS.

(I love Las Vegas, too. But I can never tell you about it. Not even my husband can get my epic adventure there as a traveling saleswoman on vacation. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.)

 

Speaking of fiery experiences, don’t miss the Peruvian Fire Ceremony with James “TwoSnakes” Stovall.

All event goers are expected to observe proper ritual fire protocol. This means being respectful to the Fire Keepers, and to what it represents. Do NOT throw trash into the fire. I cannot stress this enough here. Use your best Pagan Manners.

In this spirit, it would also be a good time to suggest you bring your feast bundles if you have them. These are kits that you make yourself. They include a large cloth napkin, washable utensils, and bowl. This is easier on the environment than just tote, toss, and trash.

Michigan Pagan Fest is located at the Wayne County Fairgrounds. If you get lost, call (734) 697-7002.  The address is 10871 Quirk Road, Belleville, Michigan  48111.

Hope to see you there. Here is a chant for you to enjoy around those marshmallows. Remember: I love chocolate.

 

 

Remember, the most compassionate person is often the most dangerous person in the room

The name of this piece may seem provocative, even outrageous. The wisdom behind it is hard won and with merit. In political and power circles, this piece of information has been invaluable.

Merriam Webster defines compassion as “ sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it“.

How can a person experiencing this be dangerous? Many would believe that if a person is compassionate, it would stay their hand from harming another person. They might also extend that belief to encompass the idea that this person would seek to be protective.

This, while commonly held as conventional thought, is not always the case. I submit that it is very likely not the case most of the time in circles of power. The compassionate person holds greater powers than acknowledged.

Original Image: elti-meshau (public domain)

Those of us, who stood in the company of ruthless men and women, stand acquainted with the raw potential of violence and oppression that is possible at any given moment. I have observed such brutality executed with such swiftness that it did not seem real. Being unable to act, a crippling rage at my own powerlessness to assist the victims ground itself into my psyche.

In my life, it moved me toward deeper studies of religion, philosophy, culture, and martial thinking. The allure to being able to ease suffering tread arm-in-arm with my want to hone my particular skills as magickian, counselor, and courtier (still working on that). This was not in pursuit of protection, but defense.

To turn a heart that is cold-blooded away from its intended wickedness of action by a simple collection of ideas being implanted at the opportune times is beyond valuable. Understanding the motivations of the power decision makers allows a way to move them away from positions that bring harm to the oppressed. Researching laws and protocols allows a person to not only find where the bodies are buried, but make sure the new ones are not made in the political back alleys of societal and cultural games.

But what of physical violence in this cause? When you push a good man or woman too far, even a coward can destroy a force. When that person is moved by a sense of compassion coupled with wisdom, the body count can shift to a higher tally on the side of the bad guys. That person had a plan the moment they entered the room that covered how to protect the victim and themselves to the extent they can. They execute this mercilessly, due to the righteousness of their goal.

To spend hours in contemplation upon the goodness of man, the idea of peace, and the filmy concepts of justice and mercy, give fire to the blood. Some may never be called to place their body in front of a bullet, which takes the power from the gun-woman in deciding who will be shot. Many will never and sit whisper an embarrassing revelation to a legislator in the hallway at the water fountain right before a draconian vote against the poor. Few would ever get the opportunity to destroy a career bent on destroying an ecosystem. But all these actions, and more, are done not in malice. They are acts in compassion.

To dream of a perfect world is an act of revolution. To do magic, actions, and prayer to make it so, overriding the wishes and hopes of those who would spread harm – power. To hold compassion for all parties in this – love and darkness strangely mixed.

And sometimes, that is the most dangerous power of all.

Book Review: The Good Witch’s Guide : A Modern Day Wiccapedia of Magickal Ingredients and spells

Written by: Shawn Robbins and Charity Bedell, pub 2017 Sterling Publishing Co. 305pp

The Good Witch’s Guide is not your average, everyday introductory or advanced peep into the Craft. To be honest, owning quite a few of these guides, myself, I was used to the standard Wiccan/Witchcraft encyclopedia reference materials. Most of them, I find, are stuffy, and to be clear, I’m not a huge fan. When I cracked open this book, I was expecting this to be just another reference guide, however; I found myself pleasantly surprised. This book is a real page turner.

The Good Witch’s guide is full of wonderful spells, incantations.

There is a guide to crafting your own personal Magick and yes, stones, essential oils, colors and herbs.

It has everything from Witchy Wisdom, rituals and formulas, spirituality, folklore, health and health remedies.

Of course, there are sections dedicated to candle Magick, brewing your own potions, tinctures and salves.

This book is jam packed with all kinds of recipes for Sabbats and special occasions.

Want to know how other Witches are casting their own versions of these spells? There’s even a section dedicated to that!

There are tons of traditional spells that are tried and true and all of the “how-to’s” that go along with them.

In this authors humble opinion, this may very well become the definitive guide for all who take the time to read it. The Good Witch’s Guide is a pleasure to read for the Beginner in the Craft all the way to your most Adept Student. It can be used strictly as a reference manual or can be read cover to cover without the monotony of other reference guides.

On a more personal note, this is one book is one that I will cherish and read again and again!

Laurie Bates
Falcon Lunafyre

https://www.amazon.com/Good-Witchs-Guide-Modern-Day-Ingredients/dp/1454919523/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1495484984&sr=8-1&keywords=A+Good+Witch%27s+Guide

Why is Detroit having its first conjure and folk magic festival?

Detroit is not like any other city in the world, and its magical residents can surely attest to this. We do things differently here. We do not keep our practices insulated and encapsulated like so many jars on an apothecary’s shelf.

Our energies and beliefs blur and move and merge in a dance that is both wonderful and terrible in its beauty. When we go to a shop, we are like a bohemian style magical band of hippies, taking what is needed, ignoring the rest, always willing to try something by chance and direction. So now we are trying something new.

Detroit is going to have a conjure and folk magic festival.

Detroit has its own spirits, its own legends, its own conjure and folk magic. We sit as an international port on the seas of fresh water. Our city of the strait is the gateway to foreign lands and immigrants have brought with them their traditions, their magics and their customs to merge with those of we who are here. The indigenous Peoples who ARE STILL HERE couple their narratives and spirits into the land with the folks who walk the centuries-old trails that are now covered in asphalt and bricks.

We practice Hoodoo here. We practice Vodou here. We practice Wicca here. We practice Ceremonial Magick here. We practice Ifa here. We practice Brujeria here. We practice Santeria here. We practice Lucumi here. We practice Candomble here. We practice Obeah here. We practice Espiritismo here. We practice Juju here. We practice Angel Magick here. We practice Necromancy here. We practice Spiritism here. We practice Hexencraft here (yes, we really do). We practice all types of renegade, wilding out Hedgewitchery here. We practice Demonolatry based magicks here.We practice Kemetic Mysteries here. We practice Palo here. We practice Lodge Teachings here. We practice Psalmistry here. We practice the teachings of the Aetherius Society here. We practice more than I can ever hope to name, and we do it all here in Detroit. We do it all in Michigan.

And we mix it together in ways that should not work, according to “authorities”. Our special brand of Detroit magick, conjure, and lore is our own. We have elements of the French, German, Greek, Polish, People of the Three Fires, and those who migrated here from all over the world cooked up in our own form of “City Chicken” style goodness. That is to say, we practice our own form of taking things and forming them into what we wish them to be for us, despite how they appear.

(City Chicken is made of pork, see what I mean?)

It was not uncommon for me to accompany my friends to a “candle shop” and get a stew of different magical traditions in one trip. In one case, my companion sought to increase her income for her exotic dance career. She purchased Honey of Love for her perfume and lotion, to add in. She picked up some love drops oil to add to her Pink Oil in her make up bag. She picked up some orris root powder to add to her baby powder.

Next, she bought a Money Candle and had it “dressed” with powder and glitter. Yep, I know. Glitter. Deal with it. This was added to the candle with an invocation, as the counter person carved a sigil into the wax. For an extra dollar, she lit it at the shop and left it to burn there in their “workings” room.

She then picked up a new tarot deck and some crystals. A candle to Oshun and some blessed oil was added to her purchase. She had a psalm paper blessed, bought a new Devil’s Trap seal, and a brass ring with runes inscribed along the inside. To finish her purchase, she grabbed some crushed shells and some Devil’s Shoestring “because of the scheming chicks” who were after her top spot.

This was normal. This was not a thing. This same girl gathered every full moon to worship Diana and to give an offering of cool water and wine to Aradia. She also petitioned Persephone that evening for a personal favor. And not a single damn was given. Not a single eye was rolled.

Because in Detroit, we do what we want. We embrace it all and tolerate whatever floats you boat, as long as it does not bump ours. What we do not do, however, is have any problem with recognizing that what we are doing is indeed a blended sort of thing, and is not “proper”. We just roll with it.

After so many generation of this mingling, it is bound to happen that folks forget where the dotted lines and boundaries on the magickal maps were located in our landscapes. We forgot how to not merge in some cases. Purists be damned, we got this. Innovation is what we are known for here.

However, this led to things being lost and pushed aside. Practices altered and then faded. Wording changed and sometimes completely disappeared. Our tradition mixing would soon give birth to new ones and so on.

Innovation and adaptation our forte. While this is all classically Detroit in its nature, it has its pitfalls. One of the main ones is that special nuanced flavor of each tradition and belief path being unique. Much is special about each “way” and religion and belief system. While we hold each as our baseline, many times they are so intermingled here that it is almost impossible to find strings in that tapestry.

This is why I decided to create the Detroit Conjure and Folk Magic Festival event this year. It happens on August 12, 2017. This will be held in Green Acres Park, in Hazel Park, Michigan. In years past, I was honored and blessed to be able to help run the Pagan Pride Detroit’s celebration of Pagan Pride Day Detroit there, so the place is familiar to many in the state.

The reason for this event is personal. I did not do it to make tons of money. I do like money, but that is not the primary goal of this event.

This festival was born in order to feature practitioners who are really part of the culture and “family” of the traditions and magics they are teaching. It is my sincere hope that by bringing forward folks who are bringing their unique flavor to this event, we will start dialogues about what is special about our bleedings, and what is special about appreciating what is different.

Image: Kenya Coviak

Appropriation as a habit is an ugly truth to post 70’s magic here in the United States. We take things, make them our own, and blend them into our practices without a thought as to why it is key to acknowledge the places form which we glean. We burn sage in shells at events in Pagan festivals with no thought as to why this is problematic, or why we should be talking about it.

That is not to say you cannot do this, but under what vibe? If you are doing it as part of your personal practice, yeah. But why that shell, why that plant? This is the kind of thing that I want to encourage folks to explore. We Sing the songs of others, yet silence their voices. Why?

In Detroit, I have been fortunate to see the resurgence and preservation of respect for the need to be mindful. I see folks who use the magicks, without regard for any of this, and make their lives better. They do not know, nor care, from where it came. That, too is acceptable. But when we speak of teaching and presenting, that is when we need to really make sure we are letting each path shine so that folks can ask questions of folks who KNOW for sure what is part, what is pilfered, and what is parrotted. To see the grace in which we have held another’s path in order to glimpse their walk in our own.

I have three goals for this event. They are my guiding principles. So I shall share them here.

  1. To present a spirit/magick based event for the region based on Detroit led interests. This includes people, paths, and practices from all over, not just in Michigan.
  2. To host, and hold space, for cultural topics that offer insights into the cultures that are the proving grounds and catalysts of the magicks that are part of our world today in an open zone.
  3. To provide a family friendly experience where attendees can learn; share ideas; and meet others of like and unfamiliar traditions and views, while having a good time in a safe environment.

 

We can have magic
But where did it vibe from
We can have culture
But what is it without magic
We can have family and friends
But what are they without spirituality and culture
All go together
At least in my f*cked up little vision
– Kenya Coviak
I invite you to come out to our city in the Fresh Water Seas this August 12, 2017 to experience some Detroit hospitality. The music and performances are free, as is general admission.We support Jit Culture as well, a special place in my heart beats for this hometown dance form. In featuring Jit Street, we hope to help spread the culture, and preserve it.
Rituals and classes for the public, young and old, will delight and intrigue those who make the choice to learn something new. Some may even reinforce what you know. A few will probably shock you by how much you thought you knew.
For those with a deeper need for practical applications and more in-depth knowledge, the Conjure College will provide opportunities to master new skills and concepts. This part is by paid admission only. Ticket holders get to get their hands and minds into a practitioner’s “kitchen” so to speak. Training by experts on what works is key.
Speakers from four states share their knowledge and expertise with our little city with the big roots. In picking Green Acres Park, I made a commitment to continue a tradition of magical festivals there. That is where I “cut my teeth” in holding them, so it is my home. It is a green space with beautiful trees made for sitting under, thinking, and celebrating. I could think of no better place to host this event when so many from around the Great Lakes area will set their feet here upon grounds that have been home to many years of magick …. and love.
I hope to see you there. I hope to see you, with your folding chairs, and your notebooks. I hope to see you in your floppy hats with your children in tow. I hope to hear from you if you cannot make it there.
But most of all, I hope. I hope to present to you why our city is like no place else. I hope to show you, in this little town just outside its border, why it is a shining beacon on the strait.
We do it our own way. I am Detroit born and bred, right off 7 Mile Road. 7, kind of a foreshadowing hunh (what’s up, numerology students)? I love folks on both sides of 8 Mile, there is magick everywhere. On this day, we are going to give you a piece of what makes us different.
Oh, and one more thing. Expect the unexpected. This is the Detroit, after all. We do things differently here, since 1701.
At the end of the day, I have to say that ultimately I give love, honor, and thanks to everyone who made my life the rich ride that it is.
I love all of you. No matter if you take your magick as a purist, blend it up, or shaken not stirred. It is all about respect.
What up, doe?

Groovy Green Craft Practitioner Series: Star of Bethlehem or Nap-at-Noon

DISCLAIMER:  ALWAYS USE CAUTION WHEN IDENTIFYING PLANTS. USE YOUR FIELD GUIDES AND LEARN YOUR LATIN NAMES. WHEN IN DOUBT, FIND AN EXPERT. NO ARTICLE IN THIS SERIES IS INTENDED TO GIVE MEDICAL OR ANY OTHER ADVICE IN THE HEALING ARTS OTHER THAN THAT OF A LAY PERSON.

Behold, the star that shines among the verdurous landscapes of Spring. The eyes shall be gladdened when they espy the tiny visitor that frustrates gardeners, but THIS graceful sweetheart has hidden qualities. We are talking about the Star of Bethlehem or Nap-at-Noon ( Ornithogalum umbellatum). A gentle bulb which loved being here in the United States so much, it escaped private gardens and went wild. Why play a bit part when you can be your own star, right?

Some folks think the bulb on this is delicious, but they are brave of heart. As a matter of fact, they should make sure they have a sound heart. This plant can affect it.

The bulbs apparently are edible though they contain heart stimulants with a digitalis-like reaction. Another possibility is that it follows from an ancient belief that doves were of a single sex and produced milk to feed their young; thus bird’s milk meant “a wondrous thing.” – University of Arkansas System,Division of Agriculture | Agricultural Experiment Station

 

By Björn S… (Garden Star-of-Bethlehem – Ornithogalum umbellatum) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
You will delight in seeing its six white petals that end in points like rays. A green stripe runs along their underside.  A member of the lily family, it captivates the eye. Simple, yet elegant, it is also INVASIVE.

 

Let us be clear. DO NOT PLANT THIS PLANT IN THE WILD. IT WILL NOT LEAVE. IT WILL ENDANGER OTHER SPECIES. THIS PLANT IS SOMETHING OF A STONE COLD BI***..

Star-of Bethlehem is non-responsive to several herbicides. Research studies at Purdue University found that paraquat provided 70 to 78% control. –https://www.na.fs.fed.us/fhp/invasive_plants/weeds/star-of-bethlehem.pdf

No one wants to deal with what will happen when you release invasive species into an ecosystem. Do no be a part of that jerky nation. I WILL judge you, and you will  not be able to share my corn bread.

I am not sure if I would share my cake either, since the petals of this flower are used to bake bread. No, I will not give you a recipe for that. Don’t roll your eyes at me, they might stay that way.

Some folks find that they enjoy nibbling on the bulbs that are fully cooked. I said fully cooked.

Let’s  look at that again: FULLY COOKED.

Raw bulbs have nasty side effects such as … death. Ok, so there is stuff that happens before that degree. Toxicosis is not cute. That whole excessive drooling, violent vomiting, swollen lips, tongue, throat and skin irritation is a real bummer. Not to mention the fact that not being able to breathe is not in fashion on beautiful spring days, Darling. Curiously, though, people do take the plant for treatment of congestive heart failure, according to the folks over at WEbMD.

Jan Kops – www.BioLib.de

Seriously, this plant contains alkaloids and cardenolides which are not our friends. Your children, you, and your animals could suffer if they eat this plant. Such a pretty little poison.

But to be candid, that is a real possibility if you mess around with this plant. It is not a ramp, but folks do try to think it is just because it has a bulb.

(See, this is why we cannot have nice foraged things.)

Ok, healers, I did not forget you were reading along, fingers poised on your pestles. Simmer down a bit and watch this lovely little video on its potential. In a plant essence, it is used for the uplifting of the despondent and those in grief, shock, or recovering from an emotional upheaval. It can bring gladness. It sure did for the Crusaders when they had to dry and eat them in a bout of starvation. Even Rosemary Gladstar trusts the qualities of this uplifter. (Yes, I made that word up. So what.)

Now, let’s talk a bit of the ethereal thing called magick. If you have been paying attention, you know what the properties and fok thought is about what qualities this plant has as a healing agent for emotional upset. Perhaps a candle made with the flowers, or a powder made from the petals might be used. I do not recommend burning.

The real thing you need to remember is that it is primarily good at addressing trauma of the mind and heart. A healing poppet might be useful. Or perhaps a gentle wind and ribbon wind catcher with the stems woven in and enchanted. It is really up to you.

I would venture to say that perhaps this resilience is tied to the plants seemingly stubborn ability to not be removed or stamped out of existence. The spirit of defiance is strong in this one. May that spirit of defiant joy be with you as well.

 

 

Groovy Green Craft Practitioner Series: Eyebright or Euphrasia officinalis

DISCLAIMER: ALWAYS USE CAUTION WHEN IDENTIFYING PLANTS. USE YOUR FIELD GUIDES AND LEARN YOUR LATIN NAMES. WHEN IN DOUBT, FIND AN EXPERT. NO ARTICLE IN THIS SERIES IS INTENDED TO GIVE MEDICAL OR ANY OTHER ADVICE IN THE HEALING ARTS OTHER THAN THAT OF A LAY PERSON.

Let us take a moment to feast our eyes on a lovely plant spirit known as Eyebright, or Euphrasia. Now, normally, this is where I put the officinalis on the end of the plant’s name. But in this case, I am going to pump my brakes a bit, because something a little different is going on here in Michigan. For foragers, it is important to know what we are looking at and identifying.

Eyebright has as its genus the word Euphrasia. But in Michigan, unless it was planted specifically, you probably (I said probably) will not find the officinalis epithet being appropriate to what you will find commonly growing.

I SAID PROBABLY. STOP CORRECTING ME. I CAN HEAR YOU, YOU KNOW.

What you will more likely encounter is Euphrasia Stricta. You will usually find these more along the upper peninsula. This is its glamour shot below.

By Bernd Haynold (selbst fotografiert – own picture) CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], 

 

Notice how it has the same petal shapes as its cousin, but is not quite the same in stature. Look closely. The plant does not  stand the same way as the officinalis.

This is a fairly easy species to identify, with glabrous leaves and with more definite (almost hair-like) bristle tips on the teeth of the leaves and calyx than the other two species, although the bristle tips are a little less pronounced than on some Ontario material. The plants often present a rather “skinny” aspect, with longer internodes and smaller leaves than other species, and a close look reveals to the naked eye a somewhat bristly aspect from the prolonged teeth. – Herbarium University of Michigan

This plant is one of the stand by herbs for eye issues. Indeed, you will need a good set of peepers to find it. Check along areas like old railway paths, meadows, pastures, roadsides, etc. Think travel, for this plant has traveling shoes and is trekking on down from Canada to us. You will catch the flowers begin to appear usually around July.
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:246_Euphrasia_officinalis_L.jpg
This sweet thang grows to about a half a foot high. It is also parasitic, as it grows  and depends on nutrients from the roots of other plants. You will notice its pronounced resemblance to an eye. Yep, our old friend the Doctrine of Signatures rises up again to lead us. The bloodshot eye appearance is kind of a clue to how it may be employed.
This is not really a kitchen herb. Although traditionally, it has been ingested in wine. I am NOT telling you to go get drunk and think that you can avoid a bloodshot eye hangover by combining them. You are not slick. I WILL make fun of you.
But if you are determined to just cram things into your mouth, then you can add the greens as a bitter addition to salads. Just a few. If you find you do not like them, then that is fine. That is what you get for putting everything in your mouth.
You can blend it in milk and apply it to irritated eyes. Learning the different ways of preparing the herb in common household blends and compounds is always a useful skill. Milk, oil, butter, and fats have been used this way for centuries, and the pantry stands ready to be used to its full glory as we re-embrace the old ways.
DO NOT PUT THIS ON YOUR EYES IF YOU HAVE CONTACT LENSES IN. I SHOULD NOT HAVE TO TYPE THIS, BUT I LIVE IN PURE PAGAN MICHIGAN. SOMETIMES WE GET WATER IN OUR EARS AND IT MIGRATES TO OUR MINDS.
For the herbal healer, you just hit the next best thing to commercial drops when it comes to soothing. Once, when visiting a remarkable herbalist in Hemlock, Michigan, my eyes were almost sealed shut from an extreme allergic reaction. With permission, she made a soothing poultice of eyebright and within an hour, I had relief, reduction in swelling, and the banishment of my redness.
She also gave me some to take home. Since I have chronic asthma, it was more than courtesy. This herb is also commonly used to help with bronchial issues. I will never forget this experience. Which is rightly so, since eyebright contains flavanoids and beta-carotene which help with the memory.
Here is an excellent suggestion from “A Modern Herbal” ‘s site.
An infusion of 1 OZ. of the herb to a pint of boiling water should be used and the eyes bathed three or four times a day. When there is much pain, it is considered desirable to use a warm infusion rather more frequently for inflamed eyes till the pain is removed. In ordinary cases, the cold application is found sufficient.
The word  euphrosunee,  means joy and gladness. It calls back to the happy little bird, the linnet. Folklore says that the bird cleaned its eyes with the plant, and the Greeks took the hint. After all the nights of wine like most of the ancient world, I am sure they were really happy for anything to clear up morning-after eyes.
The eye is suggestive of life, of divinity, of intellect, piercing acuteness (acies); and again, of truth, of joy, of love: but these seem to have been disregarded, as being mere indistinctive accidents, and the primary idea which, by the common consent of almost all nations, has been thought most properly to symbolise this organ is a spring—fons, πηγή. -, Notes and Queries, Number 193, July 9, 1853 A Medium of Inter-communication for Literary Men, Artists, Antiquaries, Genealogists, etc
For the magician, this ties in smoothly. Why? Because this herb is often used to see accurately into a situation. It is also used to aid clairvoyance and divination. Used as an incense, it can assist the Seer in their pursuit of knowledge.
I said knowledge, not wisdom. You can see stuff and not understand what you see. You can see bamboo and sugar cane all day, and not have the wisdom to know which tastes better, OR, which one to NOT set on fire. Just saying.
It can also be brewed as a tea to aid in this. But before you start guzzling eyebright expresso shots, make sure you are not allergic to it first. You could experience swelling, constipation, and other nasty things. Do some research before you start using it, like any other plant in this series.
Using it as an herbal powder will also garner positive results. Do this to dress an candle. Or even add to a lamp. Be imaginative. Be safe. Be blessed. I am rooting for you.
I hope you comment about your experiences with this plant below. I am always excited for feedback. Please do.
I’ll keep an eye out for you.
Please enjoy “Angel Eyes” as performed by Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra (Ol Blue Eyes).