Hearth and Home Vol.8 – Refilling the Cup

Learning and Community

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iracles,

Happy October!!! On the night of September 30th, as I was cleaning up from the Archangel Michael Feast Day, I glanced at my October calendar, and nearly started to hyperventilate. Oh. My. Goodness. We are now full-on in the season of magic, which means that I am full-on busy, add to that all of the school functions that happen in October, the birthdays (mine!!!) and anniversaries (also mine!!!) that also occur in October.

Looking at October, I began to feel what I can only describe as dread at all the busy-ness, which is NOT how I wanted to go into the month. So I stopped before panic mode truly set in, and I asked myself: OK, Bri – you know you have a lot going on this month, so what practices do you need to be really vigilant about in order to enjoy your favorite month of the year?

I thought about this question, and I felt into it just as I have my students do. I realized that I needed to commit to practices that really support me in feeling expansive when it comes to time and space. The month had not even started and I was feeling like I did not have either! For me, these practices are active imagination journeys – the kind we do in Spinning Gold and the kind I have taught in the Miracle Tree Sessions for several years now. They always begin with cultivating calmness, then my working place in the Otherworld always starts at the crossroads and I go from there. I was telling a friend of mine that the first part of the year, right up to this month, has felt like a huge out-breath. It has been so active. I have been so active. Writing a book, having a baby, traveling quite a bit over the summer, a full roster of students that I work with one on one…all really good things that I absolutely love and also all very outwardly active experiences.

Now that the skies are grayer and the weather will (maybe? hopefully!) start to cool down, I was struck so profoundly with the need to go inwards. For me that is more quiet time in my daily practice and prayers, planning with an eye to next year, and reading, reading, reading. I stayed away from reading books while I was writing my own because I needed to WRITE, but now I am making up for lost time and averaging about a book a day. Not even kidding. I’m reading fiction, non-fiction, and everything in between. I am spending time listening to podcasts and just soaking in inspiration and ideas and gorgeous words. This is better than any ten thousand dollar retreat – holding Heath, reading or listening to something interesting, then turning to my husband and talking with him about it. This, my friends, is pure gold in Briana-land.

So I’m reading, I’m cooking more, I’m making time and space to write, I’m playing with my three month old, I’m snuggling down with my seven year old and telling him a different version of Blue Beard or the Twelve Dancing Princesses or Iron Heinrich every night. I’m listening to my Holy Helpers. I feel the next wave of creative ideas and inspiration coming.  I can see the shadows that wave is casting – good, robust, luminous-on-the-inside shadows. I can taste its depths, and I am taking care of myself, re-filling my cup, so that when it is ready to crest I will be ready.

These realizations turned what was looking like a pretty scraggly cat of a month into something glossy and plump, wild, and wise. A time of year that I am actually going to linger through and savor and enjoy. My birthday is this month on October 13th and on that same day Heath turns four months old. He continues to be a really happy child, reminding me to RELAX and PLAY and have FUN. Our seven year old, Jasper, teaches me how to be patient and to live within my creativity. J is a deeply artistic child (I’ve shared some of his drawings before and those of you who have met him in real life know what I am talking about). He is the kind of child who does not do something creative, he lives it. By which I mean, he has to be reminded as all 7 year olds do, to put on shoes and brush teeth and feed fish, but he does not have to be asked to play the piano from hi heart or to sit down and draw or to build something out of Jenga blocks. He just does it, as naturally as you please. And sometimes it is funny and sometimes it is weird, and sometimes it is deeply divine and makes you feel like angels striding through your living room. That is living within our creativity. My 7 year old is an excellent teacher and I am trying to keep up with the lessons.

This is also the month when I celebrate being married to be the most incredible man – for twelve years now! David is the best husband, best dad, best partner is business and in life I could ever have been blessed with. He is without a doubt my person, my guy, my love. Both my birthday and our anniversary will be celebrated with good food and forays into the forests as soon as the weather cools down and the mosquitoes become a little less blood thirsty. As I dance into my 38th year I just feel so grateful. So grateful to our gorgeous community, so grateful that I get to wake up and do work that I love with people that I love every single day. So grateful that my beloved and I get to spend our days together, working, wrangling, and loving each other as we do. It is not always easy, this magical, enchanted life; but I would not trade it for anything, and I cannot pretend to be anything other than deeply blessed. So many of you who are reading this have helped make that possible in countless big and small ways. My gratitude to all of you is truly boundless. And I have so many fun things coming up in 2019 to help show that gratitude. I cannot wait to tell you all about them – soon, soon!

A bunch of you have asked about the book and what is happening with it now. So we are now in the copy-editing phase of the production. This is a different kind of editing than what we were engaged in before – if book production was compared to a manicure, then this part is the application of the clear, fast drying top coat. It is important because it brings yet another level of cohesion to the entire manuscript (and it has us all bowing down in devotion to the Chicago Manual of Style). We are now in the last leg of the book formation journey. Any small changes I want to make to the book have to be made by October 31st (yes I know, how perfect is that?).  After that day, any changes start to slow down the next leg of the book birthing process. So I am lingering over my book this month, spending a lot of time with it, taking it for walks, for long baths, going over every word and sentence, story and idea, because once it is out in the world on shelves and in hands, it is not mine any longer, it becomes yours, all of yours, and I want to give you something lovely and thought provoking and well-made.

I am also in the endorsement gathering phase. Getting endorsements is straight up going out into a neighborhood and knocking on a bunch of doors, and asking people who are known to be gifted in seeing and assessing and blessing if they will spare the time and the effort and take a moment to bless you, to bless your work. That’s what you are doing: you are asking for and gathering up blessings. It takes courage. Sometimes the answer is no. But often the answer is yes and the blessing received is so much more than the seeker could have ever imagined. There are more pieces around the book that I will be asking you about soon as I need your input and opinions.

I’ve also turned my attention to writing new material, starting with a long article about Witches that many of you emailed me about and generously shared your thoughts. I love those exchanges. It usually takes me a few days to get back to all of the emails but I love them. It means so much and it is such a blessing to be able to hear what you have to say, what my words encourage you to think about and speak out about in your own lives. That is, hands down, my favorite part of the internet, and we do not even have to do it through social media! I can just write something and send it out to y’all and y’all show up with brilliance every single time. How stellar is that?

So I wrote earlier about re-filling my cup, and here are some of the ways I have been doing it. I have been reading this and this and this. Listening to this. Playing with this and covering myself with these. And I have also made some things for you because I love making things for you. I wrote a little guide on how to incorporate astrology into your planning processes – I call it Planning by Starlight and you can snag it here – totally free: enjoy! I have a blessing for the New Moon in Libra right here for you. And I also want to remind you that I have a litany of blessings if you ever need to be washed over with blessings. Theresa and I have a new podcast episode up. There are also a bunch of articles on working with, honoring, and celebrating our Beloved Dead as we enter into Ancestor Season. And reminder, if you want to know what the latest offerings are, you need to sign up for this email list as I keep this one commercial free. And I wish this for you: a decadent, delicious, sweet as honey, October for you – a time that you are really able to enjoy and appreciate and dive into.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Threads of Gold: The Ballad of Tam Lin and the Perils of Enchantment

Learning and Community

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hat happens when the worlds touch one another? This is one of the questions that the Ballad of Tam Lin seeks to address.

You have probably experienced this too. A moment of the hair on the back of your neck raising in sudden awareness, maybe the feeling of an angel or holy helper who has your back, or a dream that wraps itself around you for the whole day…

Enchantment doesn’t always happen on our time-table, on our own terms. Even when it does, we don’t always know what to do with it. We can become lost, knocked off track, or distracted…what used to be called fairy-led, if we are not careful and do not know how to orient ourselves with respect to the Otherworld.

In the Spinning Gold Module One teaching call, I discussed the concept of being fairy-led, the unusual times and occasions when the worlds touch one another, the need for tools that are suitable for the liminal, and how we might find a beneficial and practical way to look and live with these experiences.

Module One itself offers real tools, including the tale of Tam Lin, to begin framing and working with these experiences, in order to discover how they can in fact work within our lives.

I hope you enjoy the little clip we’ve compiled from the two hour talk.  Listen here!

If you missed the teaching clip on the Introductory module, Rumpelstiltskin, and the power of Names then hop on over here and snag it now. 

New to this blog series and want to get looped in on Spinning Gold?

Join our Spinning Gold First Threads list here to get these little gems delivered straight to your inbox for free.


To a life of real enchantment and with much love,

Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Spinning Gold Caretaker Carousel with Jen Rue

Learning and Community

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ear Miracles,

It is time to go for a ride with the next luminous Spinning Gold Caretaker, Jen Rue of Rue and Hyssop!

Jen is a magical woman who crafts glorious herbal goodies and brings her infectious joy, spirit of wonder, and good cheer to everything that she does. She isn’t afraid to get real, rowdy, and her relationship with our plant friends and allies is one of the deepest and most sincere I have ever come across. Spinning Gold is blessed to have her as part of our course caretaker community! And now, let us hear what Jen has to say about all things faerie…

1. What’s your favorite faerie tale / folk tale from childhood? Why?

As a child I liked any tale where animals talked and interacted with humans. I was so sure that animals wanted to talk to me, and that I was merely moments away, at all times, from being spoken to by a cat, dog, bird, or any beast I stumbled across.  I rather liked the tale of the frog prince. I wasn’t really looking for a prince of my own as a child, but I was smitten with the idea that I could form a friend out of a frog with a simple kiss. Though I caught my share of tadpoles and small frogs, I can’t recall ever kissing one – I think the old wive’s tale that kissing frogs would result in warts, is what thwarted my curiosity in that area.

2. What’s your favorite faerie tale / folk tale these days? Why?

This winter I spent an inordinate amount of time at the river that runs along the edge of my town, talking with the swans that overwinter here, and in the evenings I would linger over some of the many variations of the Swan Maiden tales. I am bewitched by the idea that I could put on a robe of swan feathers and take flight as a remarkable white bird. I am still not finished with swans, I think.

3. What is it to live an enchanted life?

Life is is not an easy adventure. It can be terribly painful, and there is such loss. It can disappoint, and it can be unkind. But it is astonishingly beautiful too. It is truly breathtaking. It offers so much joy if we will just get out of our own way and look and listen and taste and touch, and take time to really experience what we are living. I had a difficult winter this year. But even in my bleakest moments, I was absolutely fascinated that I could feel such pain. I was enraptured by an experience that could offer such staggering feeling. Living an enchanted life means finding enchantment in everything – even the not so nice things. I see magic everywhere. In dandelion seeds, in the storms that roll in over the hills, in making my nieces laugh, and in my own tears. To me, it’s all this amazing life. It’s all magic.

4. How do you spin gold?

I was fortunate to grow up around people who, though they didn’t understand my imagination and sight and strangenesses, encouraged me to seek wonder. Wonder in nature, in stories, in play, and in everday activities like gardening, baking or housework (though it took me a long time to find the wonder in cleaning the bathroom). Today, I find that I blend some kind of enchantment into every part of my life. I toss herbal blends on my floors and sweep them up. I create room sprays that infuse my space with scent and energy. I mow sigils and runes into my lawn before cutting it. I sing charms over the mixing bowl when I’m baking. My gardens get offerings and prayers and sweet whispered words of encouragement. I used to draw sigils on my nieces when I hugged them, before they left for school, to help them through their day. I don’t know that a day goes by that I don’t find or weave some sort of magic. It’s become the best habit I have. I’m always spinning…

Ready to add you story to the mix? Join us for Spinning Gold – registration closes on August 18th.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Spinning Gold Caretaker Carousel with Sara Magnuson

Learning and Community

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ear Miracles,

As many of you know registration for Spinning Gold is open through August 18th. In celebration of the very successful first year of the course I want to introduce you to some of the people who helped make it happen. They are the Spinning Gold caretakers and they assist me in holding the space for our beautiful Spinning Gold community. We asked each of our Caretakers four questions and now we get to share their fantastic responses. Best part? You can play too – I would love to hear YOUR answers to one or all of the questions below!

We begin with the lovely Sara Magnuson. Sara is a student, friend, and colleague; someone I have been honored to know for years. She is co-owner of Candlesmoke Chapel and creator of the fantastic Animalia program – if you want to know about how the natural world and especially our fellow creatures speak to your spiritual practices and path then Sara is THE person to talk to!

 

1.) What’s your favorite faerie tale / folk tale from childhood? Why?

Kartusch by Stephen Cosgrove (part of the Serendipity Series for children) Why? Because I love reptiles and furry creatures! Kartusch is a blind snake that helps woodland creatures, known as the Furry-Eyefulls, learn the value of stillness. As a child, I identified with the frantic nature of the Furry-Eyefulls and my love of reptiles allowed me to hear Kartusch’s wisdom.

 

2.) What’s your favorite faerie tale / folk tale these days? Why?

Most recently I’ve been obsessed with comic book/superhero stories, specifically Green Arrow! I see comics as modern folk/fairy tales because they have such a depth of imagery, emotion, and wisdom. Green Arrow is my favorite because he doesn’t actually have “superpowers,” but rather is a skilled archer, fighter, and technician. Like Batman and his utility belt or Iron Man and his suit, he is a “regular man” who has worked diligently to master specific crafts and skills. Comic book characters also have their faults and are not depicted as perfect people by any means. They struggle constantly with their desire to fight for justice and the consequences of their actions.

 

3.) What is it to live an enchanted life?

Perspective. What I feel makes my life enchanted is not living in a bubble; remembering that we’re all looking at the world through our own eyes and we’re all trying to find our way. The most enchanting thing in the world to me is how we’re all connected – people, plants, animals, rocks, wind, water, lightning, everything!

 

4.) How do you spin gold?

The gold I spin takes many forms! I’m a maker, a writer, a teacher, a sacred artist. Ultimately, spinning these threads together, I am of service. Creating a sacred tool that just happens to be exactly what someone needs right now; finding out my written words changed someone’s perspective; hearing the tone in a student’s voice when our work together has opened a long-lost place in their heart – this is what pure gold looks like.

What is your favorite question? How would you answer?

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

The Best Fairy Tale Resources

Divination and Dreams

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ear Miracles: It is no secret that I love fairy tales and folk stories. I grew up on a steady diet of magical tales and mythic art, and my love affair with fairy tales has only grown deeper and more comprehensive over time.

Why do I love fairy tales? I love them because they take on the biggest questions and the most difficult conflicts in simple and accessible language. I love them because they are portable – you can take them with you anywhere! – and you can tell them and re-tell them again and again. And I love fairy tales because they reveal worlds that are just as real and vibrant as our own.

Myth and fairy tales give shape to the magic that is all around us, not only in the rocks and wind, in streams and trees, but also in the places we would least expect to find it: in urban landscapes, in the broken and forgotten and hectic places. When my students ask me what book I would recommend to get a deeper understanding of this or that aspect of the sacred arts, nine times out of ten I refer them to a fairy tale or piece of mythic art, and so teaching through fairy tales has become a mainstay of my work.

Given all of that, there are many resources out there for people who would like to learn more about the stories they grew up with and perhaps in the process learn new stories too!

 

Websites and Blogs

Terri Windling ~ one of my favorite sites and blogs period, Terri Windling is a writer, artist, and book editor. Her blog Myth and Moor is frequently updated and features gorgeous art and wonderful articles dealing with a wide variety of mythic art topics. She is also just a really lovely person!

Midori Snyder ~ another daily go-to for me, Midori Snyder’s blog In the Labyrinth features great book reviews, mythic art, and tales of her own creative work. Midori’s writing is so beautiful, I always learn something new when I visit her online home, and like Terri, she is just a delight!

Endicott Studio ~ featuring the Journal of Mythic Arts. While no longer active, the JoMA site hosts hundreds of great articles of fairytales, myth, and folklore, penned by some of the best authors and artists working in the fields today.

Sur La Lune ~ An online compendium of fairytales from around the world, cross-referenced, and featuring art from many of the stories. Invaluable resource

The Interstitial Arts Foundation ~ they are dedicated to featuring and serving artists without borders, what we call in the sacred arts tradition working in the liminal.

These are but a smattering of the sites out there with fabulous information, most of them have links to other sites, which I encourage you to explore for yourself.

 

Books ~ there are hundreds of fabulous collections of fairy tales and books written about fairy tales and folk lore too, but for the beginner, here are a few of my favorites.

The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition translated by Jack Zipes

The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm All-New Third EditionTranslated by Jack Zipes

The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales edited by Maria Tartar

American Indian Myths and Legends edited by Richard Erodes and Alfonos Ortiz

African Folktales edited by Roger Abrahams

Italian Folktales by Italo Calvino

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

Beauty – retelling of the story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley

Briar Rose – Jane Yolen

The Wood Wife – by Terri Windling

The Innamorati – by Midori Snyder

Coyote Speaks – by Ari Berk and Carolyn Dunn

Faeries – by Brian Froud and Alan Lee

Good Faeries/Bad Faeries – by Brian Froud

Brian Froud’s World of Faerie – by Brian Froud

 

And no list would be complete without a mention of Baba Studio’s Fairy Tale Tarot (out of stock, but beautiful nonetheless).

There is also Goblinfruit, an online poetry ‘zine that is simply breathtaking.

And finally, two magazine recommendations for you: Faerie Magazine and Fairy Tale Review

What are your favorite fairy tale resources?

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Many Branches–Something Witchy this way comes with Sarah Anne Lawless

Learning and Community

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ear Miracles: Many of those in my audience already know our latest guest in the Many Branches series–Sarah Anne Lawless. She is an occult author, witch, herbalist, and artist living in the Pacific Northwest. Her blog is well known in the Pagan community and beyond. Her knack for crafting a brilliant flying ointment is one that I can personally attest to, and her devotion to her Gods is inspiring. Please give her a warm welcome!

bio-pic-2In her own words: A professional artist, writer, and herbalist, Sarah’s work has been published in various books, magazines, and online in The CauldronHex MagazineWitches & PagansWitchvox, Serpent Songs, and Hoofprints in the Wildwood. She is a carver, painter, and illustrator working in the mediums of bone, wood, ink, and paint creating original artwork, talismans, and ritual tools. Sarah is an animist, initiated witch, and wortcunner with a love of otherworldly beauty, folklore, mythology, poisonous plants, wildcrafting, wild places, and bones.

Find Sarah on the web at:

her website: sarahannelawless.com

Facebook: Black Arts Foundry

Twitter: @forestwitch

 

In the occult and magical community you are known for making excellent spiritual products, your writing, and your fine artwork, but you are also one of the few voices out there talking about working with animals and zoological talismans in an ethical and sustainable manner. This subject is a bit controversial but one that I think the magical community needs more familiarity with. What led you to begin working with animals and animal parts in a ritual setting?

For me it started with collecting feathers and escalated from there and I’ve found that others who consider themselves bone collectors often say the same thing. Taking home a feather you found on a forest walk isn’t really so far off from taking home a sea-washed bone or a small skull picked clean by scavengers. Once people find out you’re a bone collector they will suddenly start calling you about bones, feathers, or dead animals they found and ask what to do with them. Then people will start showing up on your door step with boxes of bones and any friends that hunt for food will start giving you bird feet, wings, and sometimes even organs that they don’t want to waste. Often people don’t want to use or give me the animals they find, they just want to know how to bury it safely and give it a respectful send off to the spirit world. A bone collector can find themselves taking on the role of an animal funeral director.

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I think the reason why many find my use of animal parts in magic controversial is because, though the use of zoological remains is still common in modern rootwork and the magical traditions of Central and South America, it is not common in modern witchcraft despite all the documented historical links and traditions. Many people are so far removed from nature, husbandry, and dirty hands-on folk magic that they find the use of zoological remains to be appalling and unethical without trying to first understand the context and history. Many assume that bone collectors such as myself are actually killing animals to use their parts in magic when this is very much not the case. You can find hearts, tongues, and feet at the butcher and you can find bones, skulls, teeth, claws, and hides from taxidermists, tanners, farmers, or hunters who don’t like to waste any part of an animal that’s been hunted or raised for food.

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Another reason I think this practice is controversial is because many people assume you are using a dead animal’s parts solely for cursing and other black magics, when again this is simply not the reality. Indigenous cultures who’ve held onto their animistic beliefs and traditions use animal parts in a sacred manner – they are used to better connect with animal spirits and the whole of nature itself. Feathers are often used to fly prayers to the spirits so they may hear them. Teeth and claws are used for protection against harm and to give one strength. Organs are more often used for healing and offerings than anything else – anyone with a grandmother who still buries dead fish in the garden for the fertility of the plants may best understand this. In rural areas of North America you can still find farmers hanging deer antlers or bull horns over their barn door. They may have forgotten why, but once upon a time it was the belief that doing so would protect your livestock and also ensure their health and fertility.

Modern butchery and hunting practices are wasteful and unethical for treating animals as soulless resources. By doing this work and using animal remains in a sacred manner in our spiritual traditions, we make those animals sacred. By showing them respect even in death, we make their lives have the same value as our own.

 

You are well known for crafting various flying ointments, often using ancient recipes. Why flying ointments and when did your love affair with them begin?

I first took notice when nightshades I had not planted started to grow in my garden plots and containers. Instead of weeding them, I researched them and became fascinated. This led me to growing other varieties like henbane, belladonna, datura, and brugmansia. I had a lot of fresh plant material on hand and at the same time I realized that no one I could find was making and using flying ointments today. Considering that flying ointments were one of the very few genuine direct links to the ancestral magical practices of preChristian Europeans, it puzzled me greatly that modern witches and pagans weren’t using them. Later I discovered this was largely due to fear of the plants as governments had been churning out frightening propaganda against them for centuries and our modern governments continue to spread the fear through misinformation. Tales of wild hallucinations and near death experiences come mainly from youths not seeking a spiritual experience, but who simply wanted to get high and who used these plants without research, proper preparation, and with no regard for dosage. They were using these sacred plants at a toxic level instead of in the much safer ways our ancestors would have and have consequently given these plants a much maligned reputation.

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I mainly work with plants in the solanaceae (or nightshade) family. Though many would believe we no longer use them today, the constituents of these plants, such as atropine, are actually considered “core” medicines on the World Health Organizations “Essential Drug List.” Aside from the nightshades’ long history with witchcraft, they are also some of the oldest and most potent medicines used by humanity. How could an herbalist fascinated with ethnobotany not fall in love with plants that were both powerful spiritual allies and incredibly potent medicines? Though my original intent was to use the solanaceae and artemisias for spiritual purposes, the more I worked with these plants, the more I found people came to me for their medicinal uses as well.

And so, after A LOT of research and careful testing, I started to make ointments with the plants I grew along with dried European mandrake roots. I found them to be very useful in aiding in dream work, spirit work, and trance work along with being excellent topical pain killers for relieving migraines, sore backs, and other muscle and joint pain. I started making them for shamanic and pagan groups who wanted to use them for rituals and ceremonies and I started bringing them to my own rituals and teaching workshops on these plants. With all my experience, I learned that much of the fear and propaganda surrounding nightshades and flying ointments is simply not true and that those of us who have learned their history and proper preparations should pass on our knowledge so it is not lost to future generations as it has been to generations past.

 

A lot of folks in the magical community struggle with that to call themselves. You have referred to yourself as an animist, witch, and spirit worker. What do those words mean to you and what is your advice for someone who has not figured out what the right title is for their work and beliefs?

When I call myself an animist, I am referring to my religious philosophy just as others would call themselves a polytheist or a monotheist. I do not worship gods, but instead see all things, all of nature, as being imbued with spirit, anima, life force. Interacting with and honouring the local animals, plants, rivers, lakes, mountains, forests, and larger land features is what matters most to me in my spirituality – the local spirits, great and small. Within animism there is also room for ancestor reverence and so I also honour those who have come before me, both my own blood ancestors as well as those who lived upon this land long before I was born. Animism is believed to be one of the oldest forms of spirituality in human history and still permeates surviving forms of folk magic, folk religion, and common superstitions.

When I call myself a witch I am referring to the practice of witchcraft, not a religious path. It is the folk magic I do, the early modern witchcraft lore I study, and the rituals I put into practice.

When I use the term spirit worker, it is to reference my work with spirits, both is in this world and the other worlds of folklore. It is my dream work, trance work, and the rituals I perform to interact with spirits – usually plants, animals, or ancestors.

I don’t personally believe in putting too much stock in labels and finding the right one as everyone has their own definition of a term, some using the archaic meaning and some using a modern derivative. It is far too easy to waste a lot of time trying to find a label that fits all we believe and do, when we could instead spend that time actively practicing and developing our own beliefs to suit our individual spiritual needs. I think it is a better use of our time instead of trying to fit into a role someone else has defined and be constantly fretting over it.

I wrote a whole article tackling this subject last winter as it comes up over and over again in spiritual communities: “Ducking Pigeonholing.”

 

You art is gorgeous, tell us a bit about how you got started and what your current favorite artistic project is?

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Thank you! I got started in art at a young age. I was always drawing and painting. I took art classes in every year of school because it was something I always enjoyed. I had a lot of support from family who kept me well supplied with paper, ink, and paints. I even used to illustrate stories I wrote and bound them into little homemade books. Today I’m lucky enough to be in a position to get paid for my art and to illustrate the writings of others as well as my own. Falling more under the umbrella of a folk artist, I’ve been able to explore just about any medium I’m interested in – woodcarving, bone carving, pyrography, textiles, calligraphy, and jewelry to name several.

Right now I have a bit of an obvious obsession with drawing plants and skulls. I hope to do more pieces with plants and animals native to my beloved Pacific Northwest in the near future.

 

If you could give one piece of wisdom to my readers today, what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams and passions so you can live your life in joy and wonder, but at the same time be honest with yourself about how you’re going to pull it off in a practical manner.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

The Sacred Artist

Foundations

D

ear Miracles: For too long we have been without a name, and though names are not everything, as many a faerie story tells us, they are also not nothing. The right name is magical. It can open doors, reveal treasure and say what is true.

Within our tribe and for all of our differences, there are many things we hold in common. We have an unwillingness to settle for what is “normal”, sanctioned, and approved of by governments, multi-national corporations, popular media, and religious zealots. We have a desire to see and speak of what is true, what lies beneath the ground and above in the aerial branches and cold mountaintops. We want to champion the healthful and vibrant aspects of our lineage while learning the lessons from past, taking heed of of our Ancestorserrors, returning–as best we can–to old, older, oldest ways of knowing, seeing, and being in the world to a place of honor, while at the same time creating new fresher spaces for what is newly born and yet to be known.

Others have given us names, oh yes, they have.

A catalogue is both helpful and hilarious:

New Ageirony of ironies because for so many of us what we know and do is grounded in practices that are quite old. Heretics -because our sense of the sacred does not sit comfortably in the sanctuary of orthodox religion. Occultists – coming from the word occult which means hidden,because we have hidden and we have been hidden in response to persecution and fear.

We are sometimes called Light Workers because too many of us continue to buy into the wrong belief that fear and threat only comes in darkness and because we have forgotten the nourishing power of Night. Pagan – springing from the Latin paganus, meaning among other things a country dweller, because many of us ourselves come from rural stock and given our colorful variety of devotion and styles of reverence, what else might we be called? Other names include Psychicit is usually said in a pejorative manner but we may claim it in good faith since our work does deal directly with the health and quality of the Soul or Psyche. Sorceress – because power, especially liminal power wielded by women, is still seen as dangerously unpredictable. Weird -because we do not conform to the rationalistic norms or live our lives the way the dominant modern secular culture says we often should (also interestingly tied to the other wyrd which of course means fate and destiny – concepts we are versed in). Bitch – because we do not see NO as a bad word (and maybe because many of us love dogs and other four legged creatures?). Whore – sometimes yes, we are still called whores, or ho, or harlot, because we affirm that our sensuality is sacred and acts of love and pleasure can be, should be, acts of touching the Divine. Tree Hugger is often applied to us because in fact, you may find us hugging trees.

We are called Witch – intended to be the deadliest insult of all, one that not so long ago promised a date with a pyre or gallows, one that many of us now embrace with enthusiasm because in its root and origin it points to what we care for and pursue above all else…wisdom. The wisdom of living a good life, cultivating right relationship, and honoring all that is whole, healthy, and holy.

A name is not everything, but a name is not nothing either. The right name, a true name, provides a point of reference: this is who I am and this is where I stand.  It reveals a little red door that opens upon the majesty of each of our unique and blessed inmost natures.  A name, the right name or the wrong one, determines a way of seeing and a way of being seen.

I say we have worn the names that others have thrust upon us for too long and enough is enough.

These names are tired and cramped like a pair of too worn and too small shoes. If, like so many of us, you too have wondered in the wilderness of No Name looking, looking, looking for the right words in every shadow, canyon crevice, and under every rock then I offer this to you:

Be a Sacred Artist – a creator and delight taker in all that is whole, holy, and sacred.

A name is not everything, but it is not nothing. The right name allows us to be seen as we truly are and one thing more–to decide how, where, and by what means we will make our presence known and do our work in the world. Claiming your name is the first step in doing your work – the work – you were placed here to do.

Postscript:

I began using the term Sacred Artist a couple of years ago and I have been delighted to watch more and more people claim the title for themselves. I wrote some preliminary thoughts on the history of the Sacred Arts and I was inspired with the term by my husband – a fine artist, who told me that yes, crafting ritual is an art form.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.