Monthly Archives: January 2013

Fermenting

I have several posts in various stages of draft completion.  I have several more somewhere in my head.  Sigils.  Shape-shifting.  Visionary experiences.  Curses courtesy of Catullus.  Blessings and curses inspired by Homer.  I have plans for my temple, and experiments in kitchen-witchery to report.  Planetary rituals and experimental Dionysian devotions.

None of them are ready to share, at this moment, nor will they be for some time.

Things have been kind of crazy for the last two months: the crash that followed my three weeks of daily planetary work; the paths being opened for me by my gods and familiar spirits; the personal drama of school, winter break, and the return to classes.  Neither long distance relationship nor polyamory are easy, and combining the two … well, it’s made for a very lonely satyr, lately.  I’m researching graduate schools and brainstorming for the undergraduate thesis which I start on next year trying to settle on a magical motto to take up at my next initiation in the summer.

The state of the Neopagan and magical communities in regards to issues of social justice continue to infuriate me, but I’m currently experiencing a period of burn-out where only the most egregious offenses can rouse more than a half-hearted “WTF is wrong with you?” from me.  This is doubly frustrating, given Gordan’s assurance that the tides are right for political magic right now, and made particularly bitter by the way in which it has very recently infringed upon my personal circle.

All this is by way of saying: I’m tired, folks.  I regret this unplanned hiatus, but I can’t promise that it won’t go on a little longer.  Please bear with me while I ferment in my own juices for a while: I promise to serve up some fine stories when I’m ready.

And, yes, I do realize how meta it is to write about not writing. 

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Shaping and Shielding IV: KC Christmas Edition

The proto-coven was blessed with an overabundance of exceptionally watery Scorpios, each with radically different approaches to shielding.  While the differences were intellectually fascinating, however, I never had call to use any of them, as they were alien to my native ways of practice and all had various side-effects that I was unwilling to tolerate.

One such took a rather literal view of a watery aura: viewing it as a watery planet, with the most dense and personal things sinking to the core and the “garbage”—the psychic flotsam and jetsam of the outside world—floating and forming a hard crust on the outermost surface.  I hesitate to go into greater detail for obvious reasons, but suffice to say that the negative side effects were exactly one one would imagine, and were entirely invisible to to the individual in question as they largely reinforced his male-socialized solipsism and emotional disconnect.  Thus, I initially dismissed the technique, despite  its magical  efficacy, because—despite my continuing attempts to deconstruct those—I already suffer from an exceptionally bad case of those same toxic masculine narratives.

It occurred to me, however, that those side effects would be totally neutralized by abandoning the shield once I had gotten home and banished, and only rebuilding it when needed.  With that in mind, I used the technique to augment my various protection talismans when I went back to the mall to work Christmas season over my winter break.  Combined with my various talismans, the effect was near-perfect.

Unfortunately, I had an entirely different set of psychic challenges to overcome when I was not at the mall.  Being a generous hippie soul, Aradia had permitted her room mate (also her brother) to bring in a friend who was out-of-doors.  And, when it came to light that the couch monster had neither car nor job, and no real prospects of or interest in acquiring either, she did not promptly throw both both unemployed alcoholics out onto the street.  Further, working two jobs already, she had neither the time nor energy to maintain her magical dominion over the space, which took on more and more of the psychic malaise of the two young men who never left it except to go to the bar.  (No, we don’t know where they got the money for that.)  In short: “home” was not as safe or relaxing as it ought to have been.  I have found, however, that shielding and the use of protective talismans within one’s own home leads to an unpleasant sort of disconnect.  So we tried other things.

My daily banishings—both before and after work—helped some.  As did evicting the couch monster about a week after I arrived, and the wave of sage fumigation we did to clean out his lingering presence.  As did the fiery wall of protection I threw up around the building after a particularly nasty incident between the downstairs neighbor and her own family.  A major cleaning spree did wonders.  The whole mess was so toxic, though, that, while things were better, it didn’t start to really get right until the dark moon, when Aradia and I burned through an entire wand of white sage over the course of two days of fumigations in conjunction with white-light bombing.

The dark moon fumigations were the most effective, after physically getting rid of the couch monster, but the fiery wall of protection was the most interesting.  I started by daubing my fiery wall of protection oil (of course I left some with Aradia.  duh.) on the entrances to the apartment.  Then I did the same for the entrances and doorsteps of the building.  Then, standing at the threshold of the property, I performed the full Qabalistic Cross and, using the power I drew down in that fashion, cast three nested circles: one around the apartment, one around the building, and one around the entire city block.  Finally, I anchored the circles to the fiery wall of protection and made that structure into a semi-permanent (“semi-“ because I didn’t anchor any of it to a talisman of any kind) ward structure.   The whole thing was done empty-handed, save for the oil: my ritual robes and blade were left in the temple.  I haven’t practiced that sort of energy-shaping work very much over the last year and a half—it didn’t fit very well with the ceremonial experiment or Project Null.  The last time I’d attempted anything on that scale, it took the aid of a half-dozen other similarly experienced witches.  Perhaps if I had been more in practice it would have accomplished more.

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Wormwood Infusion Label

wormwood_infusion

The label for my wormwood infusions, both rum and vodka.  Originally a  mediocre pencil drawing, made awesome and green with the Gnome Image Manipulation Program.

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After-Action Report for Enchantments of Fall 2012

When I came back to school in the fall of last year, I enchanted heavily for a few things.  Some of those I doubled down on over the course of the semester.  I mostly used sigils, though there were also a few planetary rituals, and a few projects that started over the course of the semester.

Sigils for Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll

These results were mixed. 

One sigil was specifically aimed at getting people to give me weed for free, and that worked splendidly: I was given some smoke to bring back to the temple with me from KC, and when that ran out I was able to make it through the rest of the semester on the generosity of friends when I visited their homes and on shake and roaches provided to me by my neighbors.  Hell, I’ve still got some of that left.  That sigil is DEFINITELY getting recharged.

Another sigil was targeted at convincing people to give me booze.  This, too, worked like a champ: people brought booze to my house and abandoned it, they bought me drinks at bars (even when they didn’t know me), and I was even able to get a couple commissions for my homebrew operation.  The effects even continued over winter break, with two different people handing me large quantities of honey to ferment.  Another sigil for the permanent collection.l

Finally, and this may be part of the problem, I had several sigils aimed at getting laid.  I took several different tactics: my sexual needs are met, people feel comfortable approaching me for sex, I have generous and intelligent lovers … all to no avail.  The only people to grace my sheets last semester were my partners Aradia and Sannafrid.  Unfortunately, they were each only there for a week at a time (not the same week; my life isn’t quite that awesome) out of the eighteen week semester.  I was getting a little desperate by the end, and as things stand I have no new prospects for this coming semester.  (Anyone reading this blog is, of course, welcome to volunteer.)

Sigils for Health and Happiness

Again, results were mixed.  I specifically enchanted that I be “sound of body and mind”.  Perhaps that wasn’t clear enough.  I also enchanted for the solidification of old friendships and the establishment of new.

Physically, I was healthy for most of the semester.  I was laid up with a fever for a couple days, once, but it wasn’t that bad.  What really fucked with me, though, was the bouts of insomnia.

Mentally, things were much worse.  Maybe it was the Chaos Magic.  Maybe it was the absence of friends on campus.  Maybe it was Saturn in Scorpio, combined with the psychic backlash of Aradia’s Saturn Return.  Whatever.  I spent the majority of the semester depressed, neurotic, and struggling with paranoia.

I didn’t make many new friends this semester, but I did make one or two, and I was able to really solidify some existing acquaintances.  These are good things.

Sigils for Wealth and Prosperity

These enchantments were utter failure, at least in the short term.  I tapped every resource I had and called in every favor owed me, and I still had to beg for money from friends and family to make it back to KC for winter break.  The school actually threatened to not let me come back next semester unless I paid them part of what I owed them before the start of this semester.

Now, that’s all been worked out.  In fact, I may actually end this semester ahead rather than behind.  But it took a lot of enchantment—some of it by friends of mine—and more than a little hard work in the material world to get there.  And I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Sigil for Academic Excellence

I haven’t been invited to Phi Beta Kappa yet, but I did earn an honors GPA this last semester, despite being on the verge of mental collapse.  3.69 for the semester is nothing to sneeze at, particularly given that I was doing two dead languages at the same time.

Shielding Talismans

These, made toward the end of the semester, were a resounding success.  Coming back to classes this semester, in fact, it’s been a little bit of  a shock to me to realize that I actually need them at school more than I needed them in the mall.  Apparently, at least right now, I find the psychic miasma of adolescent angst and the occasional authority-abusing professor to be more toxic than the capitalist nihilist malaise of the indoor mall environment.

Conclusion

So, overall mixed results for manifesting my will last semester.  I got most of what I needed, but not everything I wanted.  Two sigils, though, proved so effective that I’m going to turn them into semi-permanent talismans, which is a definite win.

This semester, I have set myself a challenge of launching a shoal of sigils every Sunday.  For myself.  For my friends.  For politics.  For the world.  For whatever.  Three to five sigils every seven days.

Let’s see how this goes.

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Lavender Infusion

At the same time that I started my wormwood infusion experiment, I started an infusion of lavender vodka.  The recipe was simple: 1/2 cup of lavender flowers infused into 750ml of 360 Vodka.  I let them steep for three days, then strained them out with a coffee filter and funnel.

The results are beautiful.  Sweet Dionysus.

Over rocks and with a proper portion of tonic water, the lavender vodka is like a glass of pure summer: lying in the sun at the edge of the water, the wind playing through my hair.

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Mad Satyr Wormwood Infusion

a Henri Privat-Livemont poster advertising Abs...

a Henri Privat-Livemont poster advertising Absinthe Robette. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My primary flying potion is absinthe.  Although a touch unconventional (not having any deadly poisonous hallucinogens or rendered baby fat or any of that), I find it highly effective, particularly when combined with drumming and occasionally marijuana.   The major problem is that it’s fucking expensive, and it flies a little in the face of my DIY ethic.  So I’m trying to make my own.

The First Experiments:  Bacardi 151 Rum (151 proof) vs. 360 Vodka (40 proof)

Herbs – ground together and sifted into repurposed  glass bottles.

3/4 oz. wormwood (~1/2 cup)

2 Tbs. star anise

1 Tbs. fennel

1 Tbs. mint

1 tsp. hyssop

1 tsp. angelica

1/2 tsp. coriander

1/4 tsp. caraway

Infusion – liquor poured over the herbs.  Then the waiting.

One batch of herbs is being infused into 151 proof rum, the other into vodka.  While my recipes call for high-proof rum, or even pure grain alcohol, I have some serious doubts as to how that’s going to work with the flavor profile.  I’m also a little skeptical that the high proof is actually necessary for thujone extraction.  Finally, in the backassward states I live in, high proof alcohol is taxed to the point where it is actually more expensive than alcohol fit for human consumption (and, living in the United States, there’s always the issue of denaturing).  My research recommends three to ten days for thujone extraction, and basically the same time frame (at least three days, or until you run out of patience) for other herbal infusions. These, my first experiments, were infused for four days.

Results

Neither infusion took on the characteristic green color of absinth: both are rather brownish.  If I recall correctly though, the green comes from a second variety of wormwood and from the mint, which I may add more of.

Both varieties have a strong bitter undertone, which I had hoped to avoid with the short infusion period.  The rum infusion tastes much more like absinthe than the vodka, and the native flavor of the rum covers the bitterness a little.  Mixing the vodka infusion with sugar and water opens up the flavor and dials back the bitterness; I believe that a second lump of sugar will perfect the cocktail.  (I will report on the rum infusion when I deliver it to the friend who paid for the experiment.)

Visionary results from the wormwood infused vodka were well within expected parameters.  I suspect the same will be true of the rum infusion.

Conclusions and Sources

One of my two primary sources for this experiment recommended infusing the alcohol with the wormwood first, then the other herbs.  I will do this for my next experiment, tasting it as it steeps so as to better gauge the efficacy and bitterness over time.  I may also steep each of the herbs individually so as to best understand their flavor elements, as well.

Each 750 ml experiment lost about 20% of its volume to the herbs, which I had infused loose.  I will tie the next batch in cheesecloth or cotton, which satchel I will be able to better extract the finished potion.  Larger batches may also help solve this problem, as the herbs can only absorb so much liquid.

The above experiment was cobbled together from two recipes:

Dangerous Minds DIY Absinth – Originally intended for use with a still.

Ingredients: Alcohol 80% and herbs (the most common bought in the chemist’s, in grams per 1 liter of alcohol):

Herbs:
Wormwood: 100 g
Fennel (fruit): 50 g
Anise: 50 g
Mint: 15 g
Melissa: 8 g
Chamomile: 3 g
Cumin: 10 g
Angelica: 10 g

Original “Classic” Formula

750 ml. 151 rum

One ounce dried chopped wormwood

One tablespoon fennel or anise seeds
One tablespoon dried angelica root
One teaspoon dried hyssop leaves
One half teaspoon coriander seeds
One quarter teaspoon caraway seeds
One pinch cardomon pods
750 ml. 151 rum

And for future reference: another Homemade Absinthe Recipe.

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Lucky 13

So concludes another rotation of the Earth around Sol.  By the Gregorian calendar, at least, counting from the approximated birth date of the Christian Savior.  For many years now I have also counted my year Samhain-to-Samhain, emphasized by the fact that my birthday is only seven days after.  And most recently, I have also come to live and die by the academic calendar, which is not quite half done.  By any of those counts, though, this has not been the best year ever.  Not by a wide margin.

It’s been a trial-by-fire since the end of the last Spring semester: going back to the mall for the summer, but somehow not making enough money to actually cover my rent; an art class that consumed twice as much time and energy as it was supposed to; higher costs of education combined with a slightly smaller financial aid package—culminating in the very real possibility that I might not have been able to go back to classes in January if I had not been able to find work over the break; financial policy madness in the United States which may STILL reduce my financial aid to the point where I am unable to finish my degree; fewer friends on campus and fires all over the terrain of my social life; the paranoia and insanity associated with Chaos Magick; and, just for spice, a little bit of inheritance drama on my father’s side of the family.

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve gotten a lot done, magically, and there’s been some significant awesomeness in my personal and academic lives.  I finished off the ceremonial experiment and started Project Null, and in doing so I’ve made friends and inroads all over the cosmos.  I’ve come to new levels of understanding and communication with my lovers and our burgeoning polyamory.  I’ve solidified a few friendships, and maybe even started a couple new ones.  Despite the exhausting workload, I ended the semester with a 3.69 GPA, bringing my cumulative at the new school up to 3.44.  And yet, especially as I look a the two lists … it definitely doesn’t weigh out the way I want it to.

So fuck you 2012.  Good riddance.

With that in mind, I did a Tarot reading for the coming year.  My card for the year is the XX Aeon; as I was shuffling, I also caught glimpses of the XVI Tower and XXI the Universe.  When I did a full spread, 0 the Fool, XIII Death, XIX the Sun, and VI the Lovers were all prominent, as were the Queen of Wands and the Page of Swords.   II the Priestess and XVII the Star also made appearances.  Except for Death in my 10th House (professional recognition; clarified as 6 Swords, not III the Empress), the reading is overwhelmingly positive.

Sure, that could be the 6 of Swords as “travel” not “fleeing disaster”, but … I don’t like that shiny red reset button blinking on my career dashboard.  It makes me nervous.  I don’t graduate until 2014.  This is the year I take the GRE and start filling out grad school applications.   An ill-timed “Death” in my professional life …. well, y’all get the idea.

When I get back to the Sunrise Temple – I’m in Kansas City with Aradia for the winter break – I’ll compare this reading with the annual I did at Samhain.  This should be … interesting.

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