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Lammastide: Of Preparation & Dedication

My Lord & Lady of the Harvest Wheat 'Corn Dollies'
My Lord & Lady of the Harvest Wheat ‘Corn Dollies’

Friday August 31st I spent most of the day preparing my Harvest Altar. It takes up a good 1/3 of my kitchen table, and I couldn’t be happier with it. As the day waned on I rearranged, shifted, took away, and added to it until finally I was satisfied. My offerings to the Spirits included three loaves of homemade sourdough bread marked with equal-armed crosses that I had been saving in the freezer for…I didn’t know… three ripe figs from our very bountiful fig tree, blackberries picked from our un-tamable hedgerow, and an apple that fell smack in front of me while I was walking around underneath the largest of the apple trees looking for a suitable apple (since I can’t reach any of the ones actually in the tree). “I’m looking for a good, whole apple that is still fresh to feed the Spirits,” I told my son as I kicked over another half-rotten apple. As I turned to walk away, there one fell right out of the tree.

Autumn, wheat, and bee motifs fill it out in their shades of orange and brown. I blended in my kitchen Brighid altar as well, though typically celebrated at Imbolc and associated with milk-bearing animals she is also a goddess of the Harvest. In the evening once the sun began to set and the heat of the day began to abate, I returned to the far garden for more wheat. We didn’t plant it, our theory is that it grew from the straw mulching from the year before. But there it was, heads bent in their golden glory. And so I harvested a small bushel for crafting my ‘corn collies’. They are representative of the Lord & Lady of the Harvest, and of the Spirits of this Land, this home. My hope is to keep them on the altar through the Last Harvest (Samhain) and then find them a place of honor in our home until the Spring, when they will be brought out again to bless the land for the Spring planting.

Wheat from our yard, Lavender from Orcas Island, WA, and needle-felted Brighid doll
Wheat from our yard, Lavender from Orcas Island, WA, and needle-felted Brighid doll

On a fluke, I made a friend online (through Craigslist of all things) a continent away, and within two weeks she had come down from visiting her friend in Washington to meet us and talk about birth and midwifery and our work here. She brought with her a bouquet of lavender sprigs she had picked on Orcas Island, and so I placed them with some wheat as the center piece of my altar. To new friends and safe travels and The Journey~

Fires a-lit on Lammas-Eve
Fires a-lit on Lammas-Eve

In the evening I finished writing up my dedication ritual as a Priestess Midwyfe-Healer of Brighid. After midnight, the full moon having risen high over the ridge beyond our home, glowing the brightest orange in the haze of a distant forest fire, I set to my work. Candles were lit, a Sacred Flame ignited, honey stirred into warmed milk, my dedication items prepared and waiting.

Spirits and Ancestors invited, Grandmother Barker– midwife of my mother’s line– and Brighid, The Fiery One, Invoked.

Sacred Waters to anoint, honey-sweetened milk shared between Us, a red mantle to cover my head as a sign of my new role, pendant charms to be imbued with Their essences, that They may always be with me, and a leather-bound notebook to dedicate as my first Willow Book*.

Dedication Items
Dedication Items

Afterwards I meditated on the Sacred Flame, my palms tingling with Her Fire, and I saw also her flames above my head, in my belly, and atop my feet. A sense of calmness, of serenity, had overcome me after drinking in seven drafts the honey-milk. “Call on Brigh in your hour of need, She will not forsake thee.”

I then pulled cards, and am still working through their meanings…

I am Bear’s Daughter, I am Wren Bjorndottir, I am a Priestess Midwyfe-Healer of Brighid.

>>> <<< >>> <<< >>> <<<

*The term ‘Willow Book’ comes from the novel, The Birth House by Ami McKay. It references an old tome kept by the village midwife where all of her learnings regarding healing, herbalism, and women’s work (birthing and the like) are collected.

If you are interested in or already are involved with birth work, herbalism/healing, and/or Brighid and would like to collaborate with me regarding being a dedicated Priestess Midwyfe-Healer of Brighid, send me an e-mail at thetwistedtree.shoppe@gmail.com

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“Asatru is not a vehicle for romanticized machismo”; #WeStandWithIceland

#WeStandWithIceland
Please pass on~

I would love to someday get to visit this Temple.

Silver and Gold

Yesterday an article from Iceland Magazine made the rounds on FB. Apparently the Ásatrúarfélag, Iceland’s Asatru association, has been receiving hate mail from conservative Asatruar outside of Iceland. Hate mail, from conservative Asatruar outside of Iceland. Just the fact that any Heathen group anywhere–much less the Icelandic Asatru group that succeed in getting Asatru officially accepted as a religion and who is building the new Heathen temple in Reykjavik–would be receiving hate mail from conservative Asatruar because of their stance on gay marriage pisses me off and skeeves me out more than I can even begin to express. The sheer amount of ass-hattery and WTFery and just plain idiotic cutting-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face inherent in this exceeds my ability to even articulate it.

However, Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, the high priest of The Ásatrúarfélag, handled it with aplomb. As the article, “The Icelandic Pagan Association receives hate mail from reactionary pagans abroad”, states:

Hilmar adds that he and other members…

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Mommy Breakdown

A little backstory: Since I was pregnant with my son, I struggled with some depression issues– particularly after he was born. I didn’t realize there was something ‘wrong’ or ‘off’ with me though until I started to feel better when he was going on a year old. Now 2.5, I still have some problems with motherhood. I have felt a disconnect of sorts since he was born. Our immediate postpartum bonding period was spent apart (which for those of you who don’t know, your levels of oxytocin– the love hormone– is highest during labor and in the first 1-4 hours immediate post-birth. It is imperative to keep mother and baby together, encourage skin-to-skin and breastfeeding during this time. Those who don’t experience this critical time undisturbed have higher incidences of postpartum baby blues/depression, impaired mom-baby bonding, and difficulty with breastfeeding), and I blame that (as well as my not-so-pleasant labor and birth experience) on the distance felt between me and my son, as well as our initial difficulty with breastfeeding– though I can say with pride that at 2.5 years old, we are just starting to wean. But it was a hard road. Over the last 2.5 years I have struggled with depression, severe anxiety, and anger issues. I have fought the urge to just leave, feeling like my son would be better off without me because I have little to no patience for him and I am so quick to anger. It doesn’t help that he behaves completely different around me than he does his father, Midnight.

The other night I had a breakdown. The last straw fell and broke mama’s reserve. I totally detached, I yelled and tried to walk away. He slumped his shoulders and cried. I was heartbroken. Midnight quietly took him to Nana’s for the night and I sat down and cried. I spent the next three hours sipping a drink and watching a French movie, trying to distance myself from everything and calm down. The next night I did something I hadn’t thought to do before, for whatever reason. I turned to my herbs, and to my spirits for help.

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I took the Eastern Cedar (a juniper in actuality) and Lemongrass, bound together by hemp twine, and an owl feather. I opened the doors and windows throughout the house and I went along, starting in our bedroom where the three of us sleep, and worked my way through the rest of the house wafting cleansing smoke into every corner and around every frame, ending with myself. Lady Brighid of the hearth and home, let strife be no more in this house. Let only happiness and the sounds of laughter and joy be in abundance. I went outside and, after asking, snipped a sprig of our small rosemary plant and used it as a switch to flick melted water from last Winter’s first snow throughout the house, and then over myself. Lady Brighid of the hearth and home, let strife be no more in this house. Let only happiness and the sounds of laughter and joy be in abundance. I lit a candle at each of my altars, then went and put a pot of water on the stove, peeling off the rosemary leaves and dropping them in to steep. Pouring the resulting tea into a glass cup, I placed it on my Wyldwood altar. And then the strangest thing occurred. I experienced an energy release.

It started as a swaying, than a bobbing of my head. Then my shoulders began to loosen and my arms swing. Then the movements became more jarring and quick, my hands flicking quickly. I could feel the energy flowing into my arms, but it felt stuck. I realized I had on my copper bracelets and removed them. I again began to move and flick and shake, the urge uncontrollable, and I could feel the energy move down my arms. But it wasn’t enough to push it through. And so I knelt at my altar, and placed my hands around the cup of rosemary tea, and I breathed in the pleasant smelling steam down into my lungs and my belly and pushed the energy down my arms, out my hands, and into the cup. After a few repetitions, I stood and got the energy flowing again, then sat and tried emptying the rest of the energy. Once I felt I did all I could, I called on those spirits who I could feel standing by, waiting.

    Virgin Mary, Mother of God, please hear my prayer.
    Yemaya, Mother of Us All, please hear my prayer.
    Lady Brighid, of the hearth and home, please hear my prayer.
    Mothers and Grandmothers before me, my Disir, please hear my prayer.
    Please help me to be a better mother.
    Please help me to be the best mother that I can be, the mother that my son deserves.
    Please help me to have patience, please temper my anger.

I cleansed my copper bracelets with the tea and placed them back on my wrists. Afterwards I went and looked for some offerings. I took three decorative jars and filled them with local blueberries and drizzled with raw honey from the hives that were being harvested when I brought my bees home from the Romanian beekeeper, wise in her years. These I placed one each on my Ancestors altar, Brighid kitchen altar, and my Yemaya altar. Late next night I poured out the tea into the yard under the light of the full moon after a few minutes of moon-bathing followed by some moving meditation, my bare feet brushing the cool grass damp with dew. After the initial cleansing and ritual and the next day, I felt calmer. More at peace. I was able to pay more attention to my son (though I wasn’t able to do anything else). However in the following days, the ill-temper and impatience returned as I needed to get things done around the house and couldn’t play all day with my son. So, there is still work to be done. But it is a start, at least.

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Liebster Award~

liebsterawardI (Isáine) was reading through a new blogpost by a new friend of mine and fellow witch, Morgan, over at http://lovebythemoon.com/ about her Liebster Award nomination and saw that she had chosen our blog as one of her nominees! Her words warmed my heart and I would like to thank her for them~ So, while I have four post drafts sitting in my dashboard I will go ahead and do this and send it on its way…

11 Facts About Myself

Isáine:

      1. I’m bisexual and polyamorous.
      2. My eyes used to be dark brown with a dark brown-green outer ring, and now they are turning hazel (one has freckles too)– the brown is lighter and the outer half of my eyes are green now.
      3. I am a terrible procrastinator, but I do some of my best work under pressure (or emotional duress).
      4. I am a collector of musical instruments that I am not particularly adapt at playing >.>
      5. I have way too many interests and hobbies and projects going on for my own good (or for my mental health I’m sure).
      6. We have a son who is 2.5, but our first son would have been 5 at the end of July.
      7. I’m training to be a traditional/shamanic midwife and am currently studying through the Matrona School of Quantum Midwifery.
      8. I keep honeybees and am training as a Melissa (bee priestess) through the College of the Melissae.
      9. I’m certified in Permaculture Design.
      10. I have a wanderer’s soul and a bohemian heart.
    11. I have an addiction: I collect tarot and oracle decks, bones and feathers.

Midnight:

      1. I study the use of enthenogenic herbs
      2. I am a practicing Bladesmith
      3. I am an aspiring artist ( always open to take commissions )
      4. I am a father of an amazing son.
      5. I am an avid reader and gamer
      6. I have studied three different martial arts and some pranayama
      7. I am a bone worker
      8. I love running and playing in the rain
      9. I talk to myself and have on had occasion to argue with myself aswell
      10. When no one is looking I like to try to move things with my mind
    11. If you get my started on theology or philosophy I can talk for hours and end up with nothing to show for it but a sense of satisfaction.

11 Questions from Morgan
What set you on your chosen path?

Isáine:

    I started on this whirlwind of a journey when I was about 12 or 13 years old. Raised in the Church, I had dabbled in ‘magic’ and believed in the fae since I was small. I began researching other religions and magic after being influenced by the Harry Potter books. I was so trapped in my upbringing I was pretty hesitant to let go completely at first. I started with Gnostic Christianity and began focusing on Mary Magdelene and the Virgin Mother to begin bringing the Feminine Divine into my life. Soon I delved head-first into Wicca, then Dianic Wicca, immersing myself completely in the Divine Feminine and was very much into Wicca for a few years. When I was 17 while on a trip back home to Oregon after graduation, I realized there must be balance, and allowed the Divine Masculine back into my practice. This was about when I began to grow and expand beyond Wicca, and by the time I was 18-19 I had left it almost entirely behind me. However a few remnants remain, such as some adherence to a “Wheel of the Year”. Over the last few years I have morphed into a veil-crossing, entheogen-using, spiritworking, animistic polytheist beekeeping priestess with a rather eclectic blend of practice and beliefs that I wrap up into a leather-bound bundle I call “Bonekeeping”.

Midnight:

    death did this to me. I think my first step was what many people start with, Wicca and ‘white light’… the fluffy parts as I fondly name them. But then my son died.. and having held death I found a need to know it. I couldn’t give up my child to death, to this stranger. I had to know it, so I started working with spirits and touching the other world, and from there…*shrugs* well things became what they would.

What is your favorite natural setting?

Isáine:

    One of two places: the beach, or the woods– particularly deep dark old-growth woods with the forest floor covered in moss and mushrooms.

Midnight:

    I love most any natural setting from mountains to the open ocean. They each have their own unique appeal, energy and life to them and depending on any number of things any of them could appeal to me on any given day. I was raised and have lived my life by the open ocean and I think that at this point in my life I wouldn’t know what to do without it. So If I must choose one, then it will be the sea.

What element are you drawn to (if one)?

Isáine:

    I have a very Air-Water dominant personality, and am drawn to both. However I am also very drawn to fire, but sadly have not taken up fire dancing in over a year.

Midnight:

    Water is something I have always had an affinity for. I began my pagan “career” with an extensive study of and meditations on the elements and their energies and above all I think that water draws me most of all, like iron to a loden stone.

Who inspires you most?

Isáine:

      My husband, Midnight; my close friends Annwyn (Water Witch of the West), Aahana, & Penny; and some of my ‘witchy-idols’ include Sarah Anne Lawless, Scylla (Root and Rock), and newly Kayla (White Thorn Witch) and Morgan (Love by the Moon).

Midnight:

        I really hate having to answer this question, I feel like it makes me sound like a bad person when I have to answer. I can’t think of anyone that I admire. I might admire something that they can do, more likely I’m envious.. I think the only person I really admire isn’t a person at all. Although it makes sense when I consider how much of my self is built from books and stories and the whims of childhood that I never gave up. If I had to admire anyone it would be Monkey D Luffy. The man who is going to be king of the pirates. ( If you don’t watch one piece then you should )

What book would you recommend?

Isáine:

        “Sea Magic” by Sandra Kynes… “Shamanic Journeying: A Beginner’s Guide” by Sandra Ingerman… “Wise Woman Herbal” by Susan Weed… “Herbal Medicine Makers Handbook” by James Green… “Long Life, Honey in the Heart” by Martin Prechtel… “Seidr: The Gate is Open” by Katie Gerrard… “The Red Tent” by Anita Diamant….. there’s probably a lot more I am missing.

Midnight:

        Any book, pick one up and read! The Cycle of Fire, most any book by R.A. Salvatore, The Warded man, The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook, Uses and Abuses of Plant Derived Smokes…

Dresses or Pants?

Isáine:

        I have actually been wearing a lot more dresses and skirts lately and I really like how it makes me feel.

Midnight:

        Erm… pants.

Favorite ice cream flavor?

Isáine:

        Huckleberry, or vanilla filled with various toppings.

Midnight:

        Strawberry Cheesecake.

Chocolate- dark, milk, or white?

Isáine:

        milk chocolate
        Midn

ight:

        white milk for me please.. or strawberry

Best advice?

Isáine:

        don’t get stuck in trying to find a label for yourself, though I think sometimes labels are helpful. If you need to, make one up! Worked for me… Others can give us so much inspiration, but experience magic/life/ritual/gods/spirits for yourself too~

Midnight:

        Find someone who sees the fire in your eyes and wants to play with it.

What is your favorite spiritual tool (if you use)?

Isáine:

        I have been getting into using entheogens more lately, and I really enjoy it. I feel like the Poison Path may be one for me. I also like using staves/stangs, and fetiches.

Midnight:

        The feather.

What do you like most about your spirituality?

Isáine:

        it morphs, changes, and molds according to whatever cycles I am going through, the area I am in, the phase of my life and career, etc. It is fluid and not rigid. I also really like being able to connect to gods and spirits 🙂

Midnight:

        I think my favorite thing about my spiritual path is that Questions are encouraged.. its ok to be wrong, above all sometimes its ok to not know why and to just accept things for what and how they are.

My Nominees
(Besides http://whitethornwitch.com and http://lovebythemoon.com, here are my nominees. These are in no particular order, and if you have already received a nomination, you don’t have to do this again.)

Just found this one yesterday and they have a bit over 200 followers, but I like it.– American Folkloric Witchcraft. http://afwcraft.blogspot.com/
A long-time friend of mine (already previously nominated). http://www.waterwitchinthewest.com/
Found through this, it works! I need some more druidry in my life. http://druidphoenix.wordpress.com/
Also found through this, some Highlands witchcraft and musings for you. http://hagothehills.wordpress.com/
Pretty sure she has way more than 200 followers, but as one of my “inspiration” blogs for my path, here goes. http://rootandrock.blogspot.com
One of my go-to’s for Dionysian practice. http://thehouseofvines.com/
Some hoodoo for you, another friend of mine. http://themoonlitsea.blogspot.com/
Another go-to for Dionysian stuff, but also some ‘traditional witchcraft’ type work and more. http://forestdoor.wordpress.com/
Another I just found. Shamanism, bones, metalsmithing. http://randomcardrolodex.wordpress.com/
The blog of one of my new favorite artists I found on Etsy the other day. http://intothehermitage.blogspot.com/
A little heathen flair, I just stumbled across. http://merryjackdaw.blogspot.com/
Some more Shamanism. http://greenstag.net/blog

And the rules, if you would like to participate
Share 11 facts about yourself.

Answer the 11 questions I have given you.

Pick 11 blogs who have less than 200 followers to share with everybody.

Ask them 11 new questions.

Link back to me.

My 11 Questions for You
1. How long have you been on your path?
2. How would you describe your practice?
3. What’s your favorite magical/ritual tool, if you use any?
4. Any books you recommend?
5. What’s your favorite magic/witchy/pagan-y movie?
6. Do you have any hobbies?
7. What country would you visit if you could, and what would you have to see while you were there?
8. What’s your profession?
9. Shoes or barefoot?
10. Best advice?
11. Favorite holiday.

It Takes the First Step

And so have the first few have been taken. It has been long-coming, and tedious, but our journey has commenced. Our Facebook page is staying pretty active; our Etsy store is almost ready to be launched (keep an eye out for a 10% off coupon good for the first 72 hours the store is open); our first article (and class-to-be) on Shapeshifting is almost complete and is the first part of our book-in-progress.

The seasons are shifting faster than I can blink and it is already almost Summer. Our son is growing as fast as the wildflowers in my yard, it seems. And our garden is in the very beginning stages of what will hopefully end in a bountiful year of herbs, entheogens, and vegetables. Considerations are being made in regards to progressing even further with a potential land-share opportunity in the coming year or so.

Midnight sits and smokes his mugwort and anise while I paint a blend of beeswax and olive oil onto my cedar wood beehive. The taste of bee pollen coats my tongue as I dream up designs to paint afterwards… runes for productivity and protection; foxglove, poppy and dandelion flowers…

Over the next few weeks among real-time posts, we will be transferring older personal blog posts over from our respective blogs to this one so everything is in one place. So watch for those as well as updates on the launch of our Etsy store and up-coming class on Shapeshifting (which will be either a webinar or recorded teleconference).

Have a class topic that you would like to take or see us offer? Let us know in a comment below!