Archive of ‘magics’ category

A million years ago

I’d forgotten that a million years ago, I’d made a little Amazon referral store. Well, now it’s been updated! If you’re ever interested in picking up any of the cinema, literature or music that I mention, you might find it here.

To be perfectly honest, I have no idea how it works.  But if you find something I’ve list that you have an interest in, and purchase it, and then somehow I get credit for it toward some other purchase? Well that’s pretty good.  I’m much obliged to ye.

Hag Couture

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Earlier this year I had the fantastic opportunity to contribute a cheeky piece to Witch Women, “….an exploration of the many facets of the relationship between femininity and the occult… original art and essays ranging from the esoteric to the light-hearted.” Witch Women is published by Tenebrous Kate over at Heretical Sexts, a micro-publisher of niche, print material focused on the dark and the bizarre, and contains a treasure trove of outré art, eccentric essays and salacious stories from some phenomenally talented artists and writers.

I don’t think I am being too forward by suggesting that it is relative to many of your interests! I mean, I’d venture to say that we’re all Witch Women here, of some sort.

See below for an excerpt from my contribution, Hag Couture (in film & cinema) ….if you dig it and want to read more, go buy a copy of Witch Women!  And do yourself a favor, peek around at the other titles while you’re there…you are sure to find something unique to delight and titillate! (I’m looking at you, Erotic Rites of the Nazgûl). Enjoy!

HAG COUTURE (excerpt)

Witches stirring cauldrons, stabbing voodoo dolls, ripping off their own faces – truly, depictions of witchy women getting down to business make for visually fantastic cinema fodder. Whether these celluloid incarnations take form as glamorous queens, amusing fairytale buffoons, or seemingly ordinary small-town housewives, there is something fantastically compelling about watching a film focusing on witches in the midst of ritual. Even more fabulous still, when one narrows that focus to examine their attire and costumery as it related to  those ritualistic actions and behaviors. From gilded enchantresses haunting one’s dreams to gothed-out teens experimenting with the occult , Hag Couture can encompass a wide range of aesthetics, but you must pay mind to what rites and ceremonies you pair with which styles for maximum results and wow-factor! Check out these witches most powerful and fashionable moments, plus tips for conjuring their wicked style.

You don’t always have to be dressed to the nines to draw down the moon!  Here we have Mater Lacrimarium (Mother of Tears, Dario Agento, 2007) draped in a simple black cloak. When you consider her feats of violence, carnage and tearing an entire city apart, you truly appreciate the power in the idea that less is most definitely more.  For a high-end, luxe approach, think the Yves Saint Laurent, Spring Summer capes of 2013 (you can ditch the rest of the ensemble for a sky-clad silhouette underneath.) For budget beauties, a king-size black cotton sheet set from Wal-Mart will do the trick. Bonus points if you get your partner tricked out in some avant-garde, deconstructed Junya Watanabe or Comme des Garcons. Complete this look with a spritz of Passage d’Enfer by L’Artisan.

In The Craft, a favorite for many who came into their magics in the 1990s,  we see a coven of young women experimenting with witchcraft and reveling in their newfound powers. The look and feel of the film – Lace, leather, boots, crocheted sweaters, long dresses, gothic jewelry, and dark nails and lips – is so gloriously goth/grunge nineties, but the wardrobe could use a bit of an update for today’s aspiring acolytes. Young witches in for an evening of glamours and games of “light as a feather, stiff as a board” or out for an afternoon picnic with Manon should stock up on unique pieces from dark indie designers such as Ovate, Noctex, or Morph Knitwear, festoon themselves in supernatural jewels and psychic armor from Bloodmilk or mystical talismans from Burialground and scent their persons with a bit of Snake Oil fragrance oil from Black Alchemy Lab.

Make sure you pick up a copy of Witch Women to read the rest of the piece, in which you will find 8 more of my favorite examples of Hag Couture in film and cinema…and several other fascinating essays/articles, as well as some really stunning art from the likes of  Tom BluntHeather DrainJack W. ShearDana GloverBecky Munich, and Carisa Swenson and  Tenebrous Kate herself!

Four poets

The other night I had a rare moment to myself.  Not “by myself”; I am by myself, alone, all day long, working remotely from home, connecting to an office hundreds of miles away. But rather “to myself”; no obligations or responsibilities or demands on my time, just an hour or two, to do with as I please.  I didn’t have much time, so I wanted to be certain that the minutes I did have allotted to me actually counted for something.

I feel a bit the same about poetry.  It’s an opportunity for a writer to take a few words and a small space and spark an enormous, raging fire in a reader’s heart. Its dearth of strict rules delights me – for someone as meek and timid as I can be, I resent guidelines and rules, they often annoy me and I do love to see them twisted and broken. And poetry is a vital, relevant language – at turns mystical, raw, terrifying, full of rage and longing, tender, and absurd- leaving one hollow, spent, and breathless….and I will confess to loving it all, even the bad poetry.

I dabble a bit with writing my own poems, though not as much as I did when I was younger.  And I’ve no delusions that I was ever any good or that I have improved much over the years, but it’s something I quite enjoy (to the extent that I used to participate in open mike nights, believe it or not! Even I have a hard time believing this.)

At any rate, on this particular evening, I cozied up on the sofa with a stack of books that I’d been meaning to get around to; all relatively recent offerings from some new-to-me poets, along with some old favorites.  It was an hour very well spent.

I’ve copied below a few excerpts for your enjoyment, as well.

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A Taxonomy of the Space Between Us, by Caleb Curtiss, is a heartbreaking chronicle of grief, stalked by sister ghosts. Radiant, revelatory elegies.

Sparrow {excerpt}

My sister
is not a woman, a girl, or even

a real someone or something.
Not anymore.

In her place I find a bird
nearly frozen, lying

in a field, its body
broken in some way,

and it is utterly flightless
and possibly a sparrow —

 

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The Sex Lives of Monsters by Helen Marshall weaves together, ancient myths and familiar tales in a painful, poignant, and sometimes oddly pitiful exploration of what it means to be monstrous.

As my heart forever breaks for poor, doomed Eurydice, this excerpt from The Stairwell gave my heartstrings a particularly violent tug.

The Stairwell {excerpt}

We cannot be other than we are.
You must mount the staircase,
face toward the dawn.
and I in your shadow,
forever certain
of your turning head.

 

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Because I love a burning thing
I made my heart a field of fire
{excerpt from The Art of Loss is a Lost Art}

The Truth Is We Are Perfect by Janaka Stucky, is poetry of sacrifice and miracles and destruction and love is superbly and succinctly summed up by Pam Grossman over at phantasmaphile as “…Incantatory and incendiary”.  Actually, I don’t know if I can do it any further justice.  Just read her review.  Also, here is a link to a Spotify playlist that Janaka Stucky put together for this collection of poetry and a description of the playlist, in his own words, over at largeheartedboy.

 

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O’Nights by Cecily Parks presents a luminous, lyrical vision of the natural world through an urbane, modern woman’s eyes – pale nightscapes, violent springs, wounds and lusts, captures and release.

I Have Set Fire To The Forest {excerpt}

I put on a dress to walk
in the seeping rain, believing
that if the willows are suddenly green

I might have something sudden happen
to me. I saunter impatiently

 

Postpastoral {excerpt}

I borrowed an axe
so heavy I had to drag it 
through the woods.

Branches couldn’t catch
the geese or the sliding sun
and the mud-streaked axe blade

and my mud-streaked dress
took on a violet sheen.
I would build a house

to be lonely in.

 

How to wear: Your favorite tarot deck

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Another entry in my ridiculous “How to wear” category: How to wear your favorite tarot deck.

You have packed up all your cold-weather clothes and are no doubt simmering with equal parts resentment and bewilderment (also, literally simmering because it’s hot AF outside) as you survey your scant summer wardrobe–for you, a child of bleak and dreary days, are far more content to cloak yourself in layers of darkness during the winter season than you are to strip down in the hot weather to one-piece rompers and accentuating with those dreadful “pops of color” that fashion magazines and beauty bloggers blather on about.

Curse you, evil day star! Why must you shoot your hateful heat-lasers at us? These legs haven’t seen the sun in six months, it’s not safe to wear shorts! Our delicate shoulders prefer wraps and shawls and leather jackets covered with super cool enamel pins! Who can we turn to for advice on building our wardrobe for these heat-blasted days? Where can we find a fashion forecast that won’t leave us feeling disgruntled and stabby?

In our search for more esoteric style inspiration, let us not rule out a more mystical, metaphysical approach. Perhaps through a bit of practical prognostication and pattern prediction we will reveal cosmic trends that resonate with us on a deeper level. In doing so, as universal ideas and corresponding symbols unfold before us, we can interpret intuitively that which speaks to us as sacred and divine and integrate it into our summer capsule wardrobe!

The tarot is brimming with rich, iconic symbolism and gorgeous imagery of the mysterious world of our unconscious, so why not look to the art of your beloved divinatory tools for outfit expansion this season? See below for suggestions from some of my treasured tarot decks, incorporating the old-world, melancholy elegance of David Palladini’s Aquarian tarot, the otherworldly intensity of Lady Frieda Harris and Aleister Crowley’s Thoth tarot, and finally, the neon WTF-ery of Oliver Hibert’s eye-meltingly psychedelic tarot deck.

Fortune-teller fashion? Sybil style? Psychic chic? Oracle aesthetic? Who knows–perhaps we will start a trend of our own. 2016, the summer of visionary vogue.

The Aquarian Tarot, art by David Palladini.

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The Baphomet Tarot, art by H.R. Giger.

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Tarot of the Cat People, art by Karen Kuykendall

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The Bohemian Gothic Tarot, created by Alex Ukolov, Karen Mahony

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Manara: The Erotic Tarot. Art by Milo Manara

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The Fantastic Menagerie Tarot, art by J.J. Grandville

 

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The Phantasmagoric Theatre Tarot, art by Graham Cameron

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The Thoth Tarot, created by Aleister Crowley, Frieda Harris

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Plans

I like plans.

They make me feel less anxious about a situation.  It doesn’t have to be my plan, I don’t have to be the one to execute it, and it certainly doesn’t have to be perfect – but having some kind of plan in place does much to stabilize my comfort levels.

Of course, even the best of plans become fouled up and vexed at times.  Which has happened more times in my life than I care to count.

Last weekend, however, I found myself exactly where I wanted to be, at just the right time in my life and in the company of the very people with whom I would want to share the experience. This was a plan that had taken 12+ years to come together, but I would not have wanted it any other way.

The Decemberists at The Tabernacle in Atlanta, April 10, 2015

 

When I first found out about The Decemberists, I was 27 years old and at a strange place in my life.  I’ve written about it before and there’s no need to go into it again, but it was a state of crisis that would last for nearly ten years.  I think I had always loved music before that point, but it was during this time that I actively began to seek refuge in it.  One of my favorite things to do – and remains to this day – became finding new musicians to love and to share with others.  In 2003ish, through my very favorite webcomic artist John Allison, I stumbled upon The Decemberists.

I believe they make his “best of” lists every year, and lordy, if he doesn’t describe them perfectly:

2004

2004

 

2005

2005

2006

2006

It’s hard for me to articulate just why I became so enamored with their music; I’m not certain if it actually touches me on an emotional level, but I think that what is does do is speak to the dreamer in me. This is the dusty, dreamy band of musicians I would have created in my head: they conjure such an absurd, rag-tag world full of somber fables, melancholy allegories, and bizarre historical dreamscapes. Such snazzy wordplay, too; intricate hyperliterate lyrics, theatrical and clever.

I can’t imagine someone not familiar with The Decemberists, but then again – what do I know of what other people listen to? I still don’t know who Ed Sheeran is, to tell you the truth, and I can barely name one song on the radio right now. I suppose we all have our obsessions and the tunnel-visioned blinders that block out most everything else as part of that. However, if you’ve not listened to them before, peep in at this Tiny Desk Concert over at NPR that they did a few years ago.  It’s a nice, clear sound, and though it’s not exactly the freaky balladry that they are known for, I do think it provides a lovely introduction for the uninitiated.

 

 

But listening to someone go on about their favorite band is not always very interesting (unless they happen to be your favorite band, of course) so I’ll not draw this out unnecessarily.  Suffice it to say that the opportunity to see them live last weekend was not a chance that I could lightly pass on…even though the performance was to take place seven hours north of where I lived.

10 years ago I don’t think I could have imagined myself able to make such a trip, and I certainly didn’t imagine it with these people – but what fun we had!  Even when we were being mean and awful:

My boyfriend and my sister’s husband are talking and laughing with the couple behind us, as if they are all old friends.  She and I look back and then glance at each other in abject horror.

Her: I wish strangers who talk to me would just stop talking to me
Me: I wish they’d just drop dead.

We grasp each other’s hands and cackle like the mad harpies that we are.

At that moment, I had an out of body experience.  It sounds strange, but that’s exactly what happened.  I was myself one moment holding my sister’s hand, and the next I was outside myself.  I stood next to myself and felt a great sense of peace and happiness – a sort of state of being that I imagine you only feel a few times in your life, if at all.

And I realize that for all my plans, all of the plans in the world…well, good luck with that. Even if you think you know where you are going, sometimes you just end up somewhere else.  Sometimes it’s on a different path in a different place and it’s full of hundreds of screaming hipster dads and you’re trancing out like a weirdo, and things could not possibly be more okay.

And I am okay with that.

small kindnesses

I thought I might start 2015 by writing a bit regarding a project that I have been working with on and off over the the past few years.  I don’t think I realized it was a project until I had noticed a pattern to how I approached what I was doing and then, without setting out to do so exactly, the small project was born.  Ach! I sure can beat around the bush and ramble on, can’t I?  Well, please indulge me just a while longer, if you will.

I had a terrible time making friends when I was younger.  I just didn’t understand how people came together, connected and moved on from there to form the bonds of friendship, I suppose.  It all seemed like such a production and I didn’t know how to even initiate the process.  I started a very bad habit of giving my toys away around that time.  I figured if you give people things, then they have to like you, right? In the case of 7 year old girls it does not mean that at all, no – it only means that they keep expecting you to give them more stuff. Pretty soon my Barbie doll collection was looking awfully meager and I came to the conclusion that this just was not working for me and I closed up shop.  Around that time we moved from Ohio to Florida; this presented a new set of challenges for me and shifted my focus to other things and what do you know – once I stopped focusing on desperately getting schoolmates to like me, well, they started to like me a bit more.

I think about it though, every now and then.  Giving away beloved possessions to people you barely know – from a child’s perspective that might make good sense and as a grade-schooler I didn’t really know any better, but as an adult I still get terribly embarrassed whenever it crosses my mind. I resolved long ago to save my nice things for folks who were actually worthy of them.

One summer evening, back in 2012, I was knitting a shawl from some grey wool that resembled wispy fog and felt like low morning mists as it slipped through my fingers.  It made me think of a lovely, brilliant woman with whom I’d had some correspondence online and who I greatly admired.  I posted photos on Instagram of the finished item when I had just woven in the last stray end, and strangely enough, she was the very first person to comment on the picture.  It just sort of clicked for me right then: I think maybe I was knitting the shawl for her all along.

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‘Clapok-tus shawl for P.

And so it has been over the last two years.  Sometimes I will start a project with no one in particular in mind, and over the course of the yarn choosing, the pattern repetition and the trances induced by midnight hypnostitches – it just comes to me.  Ah!  This shade of red would be perfect for this person’s fiery, feisty personality!  Oooh, this dark night blue would be marvelous for that incredible space babe!  Or sometimes, someone will know just the right words to say to me after my mother has died, just the perfect combination of gentle, thought provoking kindness and reflection, and I will know that the next project I am going to embark on will be a journey through mourning and forgiveness and that particular person is going to be a part of it, every step of the way. It can’t belong to anyone else but them when it is finished.

It all sounds a little silly, and maybe a little crazy, doesn’t it?  And how do I know anyway, that anyone will even want my shabby handmade things?  I do hope that everyone who has received something from me in the recent past knows that what I have given them is because they gave me something I needed first.  A moment of levity during a rotten day, a compliment, a beautiful story, a provocative thought, some small measure of kindness.

Below is a bit of a gallery of some of the projects I have worked on and subsequently sent away over the past few years.  It should be noted that a few of these are actually swaps with other creative folks, who may have sent me one of their handicrafts for one of my knits.  And it was also called to my attention that I may have started doing this long before I realized I was doing it! Lovely E. sent me a photo of a sari silk scarf that I must have knit 7-8 years ago! Wow.  I hope to continue this practice for a long while.  Thank you for not being too weirded out about it, and for your kindnesses to me over the years.

‘Fetching’ mitts for B.

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‘Song of the Sea’ cowl for C.

edith

Sari silk scarf for E.

maika

‘Lenore’ socks for M.

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‘Dashing’ mitts for E.

lisa

‘Hanging Gardens’ shawl for L.

 

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‘Charade’ socks for L.

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‘Celestarium’ for L.

‘Ilean’ cowl for T.

‘Herringbone’ scarf for B.

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‘Imagine When’ shawl for A.

‘Blackjack’ shawl for A.

‘Evenstar’ shawl for A.

 

 

The Christmas Service of the Dead

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The Christmas Service of the Dead

People say that long ago the dead held a service on the night before Christmas.  Once a woman arrived too early for Christmas service.  When she entered the church she found it lit up and full of dead people, singing:

Here we sing, our bones all bleached,
Here we sing with beautiful voice,
When shall the day of judgment come,
What yet have you to say?

The story continues on as the woman recognizes her dead sister among the congregation. Warned by her sister that she must flee, for the dead will take her life, the woman escapes, dropping her shawl behind her to confuse her cadaverous pursuers.  When the church warden comes in the next morning and puts the lights on, he spies the shawl in the empty chapel, torn almost beyond recognition.

This tale is widely spread in Europe and is extremely old, having been set in Autun, Burgandy, by Gregory of Tours in his De Gloria Confessorum.  See below for an illustrated version of the best-known Scandinavian variant of this migratory legend, “The Midnight Mass of the Dead” from Asbørnsen’s “En gammelgags juleaften” (“An Old Fashioned Christmas Eve”).  These wonderfully evocative images, full of dim shades, grim shadows and midwinter’s eerie light, were created by artist Chris Van Allsburg (JumangiThe Polar Express) and can be found in Ghosts” volume from theTime Life Enchanted World series.  These scans are from my personal collection; higher-resolution, more detailed versions can be found here.

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Wishing you peace and light in this dark, dying time of the year, and may you not be without your shawl or other talisman this winter holiday when the dead are afoot and hungry for your company.

(originally posted at After Dark In The Playing Fields)

 

Hello, goodbye

crossroads

Not long after my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in December of 2012, she converted to Catholicism.  I can’t speak to how devout she was and it doesn’t matter to me – I believe the idea of faith and the trappings of belief and ritual gave her great comfort during her last year – so who cares if she never made it to church or attended a single mass.

And so what if she collected blingy rosaries alongside gorgeously rendered gilt-edged tarot decks in her final days- can’t a soul have room for more than one set of beliefs, more than one way for communicating with the divine? Or maybe she was hedging her bets, who knows.  Her relationship with her creator and her spirituality were no business of mine.

For as long as I can remember my mother cultivated a strange system of beliefs.  I recall, at the age of six or seven, sitting silently in a kitchen chair across a ouija board from my mother, my small hands on one edge of the planchette, her slim fingers on the other, and a phone cradled between her ear and shoulder as she chatted with a friend at the same time we were attempting to make contact with spirits.  At a very tender age I learned that my mother just didn’t do things the way other people did, I guess.  I imagine I grew up thinking if you weren’t carrying on conversations with both the dead and the living at the same time, you were probably doing it wrong.

Books on astrology and mediumship were always stacked precariously on our kitchen table; I can picture my mother’s face through a haze of smoke over breakfast as I picked at my Wheat Chex, while she thoughtfully read the paper and drank her coffee, a dangerously long ash from her cigarette dangling over the cover of a Linda Goodman title on Love Signs or perhaps something by Louise Huebner.

I grew up thinking that in every house there were hidden chest of tarot cards, that every stray slip of paper was a piece of an astrological chart, that candles and incense and yoga circles were every family’s Wednesday night. This was a huge part of the curiously fascinating, terrifyingly intense woman that my mother was in life, this yearning for hidden knowledge and a connection to a plane beyond our own.  So it only made sense to my sisters and I to honor that facet of her personality in death: with a visit to a medium, almost a year after her passing.

Welcome Center at Cassadaga

Despite the fact we had been bandying the idea back and forth for almost a year now, we were ill-prepared for this.  We realized we didn’t even have a code word.  As in, I suppose, some absurd word or phrase or inside joke that only we would understand, and we  would recognize immediately if the medium in question was the real deal if he or she were to utter it.  (Since then we have all come up with individual code words and phrases. If you intend to communicate with your loved ones from beyond the veil, I suggest that you take a moment or two to mull it over and do the same!)

Furthermore, we really didn’t even know how to go about finding a recommended spiritualist. We were terrified we were going to get a dud.  You know the kind: “I see a color…a number…a man! …or maybe a woman!” OKAY THAT’S $250 NOW SCRAM”.

Fortunately for us on the day of our intended sojourn, one of my sisters recalled a medium she visited a few years ago in Cassadaga.  “She wasn’t …too bad…?”, she offered doubtfully. And with that, we decided that not too bad was just good enough for us, and proceeded to make an appointment for later that afternoon.

I am really not sure how to talk about the afternoon that followed.  Much of it – two thirds of it, really – is not my story to tell, and that ventures into sharing -details-that-are-none-of-my-business-to-share territory. I can, however share some of my impressions of the reading.

Our medium/psychic, Birdie, lived in a small, unassuming house at the edge of the spiritualist camp -you’ll recognize it by the “Spiritual Garden” sign outside, beside the small dirt driveway which guests can park in.  The rickety screen door, wood-paneled walls and crocheted throws seemed to belong to any other older Florida home, and as we took our seats around a small desk at the rear of the house, I could hear Birdies’ husband mowing the lawn or doing related noisy things in the backyard. It was perfectly ordinary and absolutely surreal all at once.  As if on cue, the three of us giggled nervously.

Birdie seated herself, turned to us, and without missing a beat, asked “why do I see bananas?” This threw us for a bit of a loop.  Why WOULD she see bananas? It then dawned on me that my mother despised bananas (as do I! wretched fruits.) and I offered that piece of information.  Birdie seemed to take this as a sign that we were indeed talking with our mother.  I wish I had thought to ask how this all works.  I mean, was our mother’s spirit there, like an ectoplasmic parrot on Birdie’s shoulder, whispering things in her ear?  Or was it more like a crackly, static-y connection to the next world and maybe our mother made some sort of collect call? Even if I had the wherewithal to ask…how do you even ask that?  Is that too personal, or some sort of spiritualist faux-pas?  I am still pondering this.  Feel free to weigh in.

I am not too certain that I should have been concerned about any hurt feelings though, as Birdie herself was not terribly diplomatic with the messages she delivered.  Maybe it’s a “don’t shoot the messenger sort of thing”, or how you can’t be terribly upset with a translator for passing on the unintentionally rude mumblings of diplomats.  An example of this: at some point during the reading she looked at my two sisters, and then me. “You”, she said, pointing at me “you don’t seem to think as much as these other two girls do”. Well!
But the funny thing is…she isn’t wrong.

But I am jumping ahead. One of the next things that happened is that she glanced at my youngest sister, who was wearing a tee shirt that said something about Indiana and asked “why do I look at you and see California? Does that make sense?”  I don’t mean to be stereotypical, but I don’t think anyone could really look at my sister and see California; she is pale and small with shocking red hair and a penchant for historical fiction and a love for rainy afternoons. However, she has lived out in the deserts of California for the past 7 years, working as a librarian.  Birdie was spot-on. How did she know? Weird.  We had not told her anything about ourselves ahead of time, and other than showing her a picture of our mother (it was actually a 50+ year old photo of a graduation), she had nothing at all to go on.

The next 45 minutes was peppered with those sorts of instances. Birdie asked if we knew a “Sandy or a Sandra”.  Our mother, she said, was apparently spending a lot of time visiting this person. Sandy was my mother’s best friend, and they’d had a bit of a falling out in the months before she passed. Aha!  Another question: “does the name Rose or Rosemary make any sense to you?  She’s with your mother right now.”  A chill ran down my spine when I heard this, for Rosemary Denise Kelly (or Kelly Denise, I can never remember which) was my mother’s much beloved, very pampered cat, who died many years ago. It sounds silly, but whatever other nonsense or baloney we heard during the session (and there was a fair amount of it), *this* was the small thing I had been waiting to hear.  Picturing my mother with that dumb fluffy cat in the afterlife was more comforting than I could possible explain.

Another thing that she said, that gave us all a laugh, and a profound sense of relief I imagine, was when Birdie asked “did your mother ….curse a lot? I get the feeling she swore like a sailor ”  Ha! Did she ever! That was such a huge part of who she was, and if Birdie hadn’t picked up on that, I think we would have been concerned.

Our time was up before long and we silently shuffled out and drove up the road for lunch.
Over a bottle of wine at the Cassadaga hotel we discussed our thoughts.  It was nothing like any of us had expected and yet I think, each in different ways, we found a bit of peace from something we had heard.

wine

I suspect that we were all hoping for an experience that was maybe a little more…atmospheric?  Swaying curtains and lit candles and maybe a cold spot or two, knocks on the walls, something to indicate the…presence of…something?  We’ve probably seen too many movies. I know I’ve for certain read Richard Peck’s Ghosts I Have Been too often; I was really hoping for a crazy Blossom Culp-like encounter.

Although not much changes from year to year – and I do visit Cassadaga once a year now, usually every October – we did take some time to walk around the town, to sort of decompress (it was rather nerve-wracking, at least for me) and to absorb everything we had been told and our thoughts on it. This was our first time visiting the town, all three of us together, and so we bought some tee shirts to commemorate the occasion, and I picked up a pendant that sort of looked like a cross between some far-off nebula and a really girly eye of Sauron.

Though I don’t know for certain how our mother might have felt in her final days about us consulting a medium, and if she would be able to reconcile that with her newfound love of The Lord, I do know beyond the shadow of a doubt that as a lifelong shopping addict, she would have approved of a few purchases and shiny baubles to end the day with.

 

Hexmas wishes

hexmas

 

 

Here are a few baubles and trinkets that I would love to unwrap this holiday season!  See below for details.  What are some of your Hexmas wishes? Do tell!

1. Moonseasons calendar at Catbird NYC | 2. Kasun Vampire Stud Skull earrings at Wolf & Badger | 3. Incense Sticks by Comme des Garcons at Luckyscent | 4. Suspiria Witches tee shirt  | 5. Blood Milk Endless Night ring series, part I. & II. | 6. Deborah Lippmann nail lacquer, Dream Weaver at Net-a-Porter | 7. Eye throw pillow at TheWatsonShop | 8. Jessica deLotz Awakened Eye Necklace | 9. Othello candle by Laduree at Luckyscent

Little magics : postal apparitions, mailbox rituals

rayna

Letter lottery prize from R.

A few months ago I wrote about those little magics which brighten our days and make life sweeter. Small instances of wonder and beauty and kindness, whether bestowed upon us or passed along by us to a friend or a stranger. I felt those things missing in my day-to-day goings on at that time and made a conscious decision to do what I could to change that.

All seeing sorceress illustration from B.

All seeing sorceress illustration from B.

I was reminded of how, at one point in my life, I worked for my (ex)stepfather.  He ran a small business, strictly mail-order, selling rare & antique occult books; it was my job to process orders, pack and ship the books, handle the customer service items, and update the website (which I built!), along with the eBay auctions he ran. I also unpacked the shipments and stored/restored some of the books, though the latter not so often and I didn’t work there long enough to become proficient at it. Can you imagine spending your days patching up delicate grimoires or fragile first editions written hundreds of years ago? I could, at length and in detail, and was completely enamored with the idea. This was the sort of daydream I entertained as I went about my day. More often than that, though, I wondered, as I wrapped and secured each parcel -where was this book going?  What sort of person was this?  What were they using it for? I loved to imagine the little thrill they got as they carefully unpacked and opened their new book, and all of the possibilities it held for them.  My favorite time of the day back then was the trip to the post office after all of the orders had been handled, passing each parcel over to the postal worker, seeing each stamped, some certified, some registered, and tossed in a bin, ready to head off to its new owner. I have not since had a job that made me so happy or that was so fulfilling.

books

A legion of lurid tales from Prof. J.

There’s something about receiving a package or letter or a handwritten post card in the mail, isn’t there? I know my heart skips a beat or two on my casual stroll to the mail box every day, just wondering what might have been placed there by the mailman.  More often than not it’s bills or coupons or something for the previous tenant, but every once in a while, when the time is right and the stars align,  something unexpected and exciting appears from overseas or across the country or maybe even the city right next door. You just never know!

Scents and secrets from J.

Of course nine times out of ten we know that’s not really “magic”, now is it?  There is something in the mailbox because someone is responding to a letter you sent them, or perhaps they swapped with you a hand drawn illustration for a hand-knit pair of mitts. (Or, maybe you just …bought something.)

You can’t really just wait for these things to happen.  Or, well, you can, but I can assure you, that is a very disappointing business. Far better to reach out to some friends, set something in motion, to MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN.  A pen pal swap, a letter lottery, a handcrafted doodad exchange, a book trade.  Or maybe something “just because”. Something do you not expect to be reciprocated, something you made or wrote just for someone because you think they are special and you want them to know that you were thinking of them.  Sending a piece of yourself out there to someone, a thing with no expectations or attachments.

Ah, now.  That’s the real magic, I think.

At the risk of sounding cheesy,- I truly believe one of the most lovely feelings in the world is sending a little surprise out there to someone and imagining the look of wonder on their face as they are opening it. I believe it is a nice habit to cultivate, this unexpected sharing with a far-away friend, and perhaps something you can even build a bit of a weekly or monthly ritual around. Brew a pot of tea, light some candles or incense (or forego all of that and just spritz yourself from head to toe with your favorite scent) put on a bit of music, and spend some time penning a note to friend. Wrap up a small gift that you’ve been meaning to send – don’t wait, do it now. If you wait until you are in the mood, you will never do it.  I can’t tell you what will work best for you, but as for me, I like to send a small note to a new friend, along with perfume samples,old recipes, song lists (along with a cd or a thumb drive of favorites) or hand knit items.  If I could draw I would probably include a doodle or two, but I cannot and I am terribly self-conscious about my lack of talent in that department, so you are not likely to see that from me!

Chocolate hippo crack from A.

Chocolate hippo crack from A.

I have received some wonderful packages in the past few years from friends all over the world, in all sorts of places. I have included photos of some of these treasures here.  Unfortunately, I never take any pictures of the things that I mail out.  I will have to work on that. And it’s weird, writing that – “friends all over the place”. I don’t think of myself as someone who makes friends easily, who has a lot of friends.  And yet, I somehow, I have? How did this happen? I don’t know, but I don’t want to take it for granted, and so I try to appreciate my friends in small ways, whenever I can. Mailbox magics!

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