Thursday, August 13, 2015

[Guest Article: Jessica] The Pagan Vegetarian


A note from Witchy Words:  At the beginning of the year, I asked the circle I coordinate, Circle of Fountains, if they'd each like to do a guest article based on a topic that I might not be able to cover.  This is a great effort by my amazing circle to give you information that you might not otherwise encounter here at Witchy Words.  The following article is not written by me but another member of Circle of Fountains, with credit and notes about its author below.  Enjoy!

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For many years my diet consisted of animal meat as the main component.  When I was a teenager, I briefly stopped eating animals due to gastrointestinal issues, but lack of support from my family and school made it very difficult to continue.  Later, my father-in-law had a farm and would give us half a butchered cow every six months or so. Every day a beef dish was probably on our menu.  You may think you would LOVE to have steak virtually every day, but believe me, it will not be the case.  By my early 30s I was already opting for more veggie fare.  If there was a vegetarian option, I was probably going to take it. Animal meat was not a priority and, as I began to learn more about the horrible practices of factory farming, it became even less of an option.

I came by my Paganism in a similar manner.  For the longest time I attended Christian church because it was supported and readily available.  As I learned more about what beliefs I had and found that they didn’t coincide with ‘traditional’ religious systems I made the choice that was right for me.  Finding others who shared these beliefs also make it easier to practice my faith.

I made the conversion to full vegetarian about five years ago.  My path was made a bit easier by the fact that I had been in a relationship with a decade-long vegetarian for about 6 months.  He is an awesome cook and helped to navigate the landmines of grocery shopping and eating out.

It wasn’t until a few years later after reading some articles and blogs regarding the subject that I began to contemplate how being a vegetarian related to Paganism.  Many specifically referenced the Wiccan tenet, “And it harm none, do what you will,” and how literal should that be taken when it came to the food we ate.  I feel that, for the majority of Pagans, the holding of nature as sacred is important.  We understand the interconnectivity of all living entities and feel that we get back the energy that we put out. “Put your intentions out for the universe.”  This is the line of thought that makes more sense as to how the two are related.

Many texts and rituals discuss thanking the tree or bush or plant from where you may have taken a clipping or branch to use in your magickal workings.  Do your best to leave as little a mark or scar on living things as they provide for us tools or ingredients.  Yet every day we allow factory farms to cage chickens in overcrowded conditions, stacked upon one another or keep cows perpetually pregnant so that we may take the milk meant for the calf and boxing that calf in so the meat can then be sold for a high price as young, tender and delicious.  Other cows are pumped full of hormones and antibiotics, made to eat corn instead of grass to fatten them up, yet causing disease in the process.  How is this revering life as sacred; especially life that is being sacrificed so that we may eat?  Yes, I will concede these days there are more farms that are refusing to treat these animals in such a barbaric manner, but that are few and because of that are more expensive to maintain.

When it comes to parsing our Pagan beliefs with our everyday actions, how does this one get a pass?  As an animal lover, would you go to a puppy mill knowing how horrible and unhealthy they are for the dogs?  That’s the kind of question I ask myself, along with “Would I personally kill the animal I wanted to eat?” For me, it’s an easy choice to not eat animals.  Being a Pagan helps solidify that decision.  I believe the moral and ethical reason behind being a vegetarian/vegan fits right in with my Pagan beliefs.

Reading this you may think I’ve tried to convert you, but I assure you I haven’t.  What I do hope is that you will take a more conscientious look at where your food comes from and reflect upon whether you feel that your spiritual beliefs are uncompromised by the decisions available to you (and if not, what can you do to change it).  Living a life where you can put your spiritual beliefs into practice isn’t always easy.  Some beliefs dictate that believes must share them with everyone; others require special clothing or rules for genders and ages.  I feel that all Paganism requires is a respect and reverence for all living things and that we take responsibility for ourselves, our choices, and the energy we commit to the universe.  As a Pagan vegetarian, I know I have made a lifestyle choice that embodies those beliefs wholly.

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Employed in the non-profit sector, Jessica has been a long-standing vegetarian.  She was one of the original forming members for Circle of Fountains and currently maintains the yearly ritual book as the circle's Archivist.  When not at work or in circle, Jessica has a strong love for roller derby and is a referee with Fountain City Roller Derby.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Negativity / Bad Luck / Curse Absorbing Decoy Poppet!


Recently, my little family has stumbled upon some rough luck.  Between my husband's health, our having to move, all of us coming down sick with different ailments and then the basement flooding before it was packed, I thought it was time to do something about it.  If you feel like you've had a string of bad luck and negativity or, heavens forbid, have been cursed, a decoy poppet is one way to redirect some of that bad energy away from you!

While this is a project that requires sewing, you don't need to be particularly good at sewing to be successful at creating a poppet.  I am definitely not good at sewing, but mine still works just fine!

I'm not going to lie: I pretty much winged this poppet and everything worked out as needed.  Here's what I did!

You're going to need some items for this, including...


Some of this is exchangeable.  For example, instead of hair, you could also use toenail or fingernail clippings, or a small piece of cloth with your spit or blood on it.  Whatever links your DNA to the poppet will work!

Keep in mind that, since you are physically linked with the poppet, you'll want it well protected.  You'll need something with an opening, but you also might choose a container that you can cover if it needs to be moved.  I chose a jar because we're also in the process of moving.  Having a lid will come in handy on moving day.

Also remember that sewing small objects is pretty darn hard, especially if you're not adept at sewing like me.  So choose a glass container that will hold a poppet big enough that you're not stabbing your fingers every five seconds as you sew it up.  It also needs to be big enough to hold your hair (or other such bodily item) and a magnet.  All of this will be explained later in the article.

Your first step is to use the cardboard or card stock to create a template for your poppet:


To make sure my poppet would fit inside the jar, I folded the cardboard in half and then marked about a half of a centimeter inward from where the edges were.  I also made the template about an inch or two shorter than the jar to ensure the poppet wouldn't be too tall.  I didn't do anything particularly precise.  I just visually gauged where the poppet needed to be and everything worked out.


Next, I cut a piece of the fabric large enough to make two of my template.  I folded that in half, and then folded it again.  I used the template as a "taco" on the folded fabric to cut out two identical pieces!  You'll notice that I cut my poppet a little larger than my template as I knew it should shrink in size with some of the things I wanted to do.  If you're not certain of what you're doing, I would stick with the template's size just in case.


There are so many ways you could stitch your poppet together.  You could start sewing inside out, as seen above.  If you do that, you can flip the poppet right side in so that the seam is inside your poppet if you like.  I chose instead to have the seam showing because I often wear my heart on my sleeve and am very public about everything - flaws and all.

While I started sewing at the head because I wanted the last opening to be the poppet's right hand, I would highly suggest starting at the top of one arm, sewing around the legs and ending at the top of the other arm, leaving your poppet's head open.  This will give you much more room to work with.

Also, a reminder that the poppet doesn't have to be perfect.  If it's a little scrappy or asymmetrical, that's okay!  If the stitches aren't perfectly spaced or you can see the starting and ending knots, that's totally fine.  No one's perfect and your poppet is no exception.  Allow it to have beauty and flaws!

As you sew your poppet, think about all the things that make you you: Your interests and hobbies, your career, the people you surround yourself with and important life events.  Your poppet right now shouldn't be purely the bad things that are going on in your life.  You're just trying to make the poppet be a decoy version of yourself.


If you start at one arm, work your way around the legs and end at the top of the other arm, you'll have an opening in the head for any kind of stuffing you might like to do.  I had to stop early on my sewing because of how I created my poppet and stuff it as I went.  I made the decision to end on the right hand because I'm right handed, but it truly would be easier to work with the opening in the head.


Also, at some point, I decided my poppet needed green button eyes because I have green eyes and that would connect it more to me.  Again, my poppet was created on a whim, so I was kind of making it up as I go.  While the eyes are slightly derpy, I love how it looks!


Once you have your final opening left, you're ready to put in your hair and your magnet!  I chose a pink marker board magnet because my favorite color is pink, and I was sure to include hair that was from both the red and blonde parts.


Make sure the hair and magnet are in the middle of your poppet as best as you can place them.  The hair will link the poppet to you. The magnet will draw all of that bad luck and negativity away from you and to the poppet decoy!


Finish it off by adding a little more stuffing if you plan to do so and sewing up the last part of your poppet.  You might even charge the poppet to attract all the negative things away from you.  Tada!  You have a poppet decoy.  But just having a decoy isn't quite enough.  All that negativity needs to be nullified.


This is where your glass item with the opening and salt comes into play.  Pour a significant amount of salt in the bottom of your glass item and place the decoy poppet's feet into the salt.  It's important that your hair and magnet are in the center or top of your poppet because you don't want to bury those pieces in the salt.  You want them to stick up like an antenna, attracting all the bad luck and negativity.  Then, your poppet will take all of that nasty stuff and ground it into the salt where it is nullified.


This protective, charged little poppet is happy to help you with all of your negativity needs!  Just keep in mind that, like all protective spell work, your poppet will need some upkeep from time to time.  Make sure the salt is regularly refreshed and fix any stitches that might pop as your poppet gets overloaded.  Some offerings might help keep your little guy or gal happy as well.  What would you offer to a decoy poppet?  Anything you yourself would like!  For me, lavender's my absolute favorite, so little sprinkles of lavender every now and then should keep my poppet happy and calm.


Happy Decoy Poppet Making!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

HUGE UPDATE: New Home! Requesting Blessed Antique Keys! Plus Husband's Surgery.

Hello from the Witchy Cottage!  Yes, we're still here but not for too much longer.  Some things are always the same: My job as a caricature artist is picking back up for the fall season.  I work often, but August and September are so crazy that I barely have time for much else.  I typically can't even make it to Kansas City's Pagan Pride Day or Liithi Lushede's Mabon; that's how hectic it gets.  It will certainly make upcoming inevitable events interesting.  My husband's job is solid, the roommate's doing well and everything is about as peaceful as it can be given the circumstances.  However, much has changed since July and I'm bursting with all sorts of news to share!


 

Let's start with the first thing you might have noticed in my post for the Circle of Fountains August Eve ritual: I have a new haircut!  I got crazy, noticed a lot of gals who have side shaves also have wider noses and high cheekbones like me and decided, why not?  I'm in love with it!  So is my hair stylist, who literally jumped up and down with excitement when I mentioned I wanted to do it.  Unfortunately, the side shave isn't exactly as popular in the little ol' Midwest as it is on the coast.  Fortunately, my stylist made sure I could flip my part to the other side and hide it for anything I might need, such as work.


I finally got around to getting some of my 2015 goals completed this month, such as sorting and downsizing the office closet.  Of course, this was before I knew we were moving but it's only going to help to have less stuff.


It's unusual for our pets to have any fluctuation in their lives but our dog Artemis has gone through a lot of changes as well!  First off, he got a new collar this month!  We noticed that his blue and white paisley collar was starting to look more green and ivory marble.  He's had that collar for years, so it's about time we swapped it out.

My husband is holding Artie's old collar in this picture.
Collars are a huge deal to Artie.  They mean he belongs somewhere. As a rescue dog, that's incredibly important to him.  He can't stand to not have his collar on and, with time running out on his current collar, I knew the race was on to find one that fit Artie's personality.  Because we associate this familiar with water, we prefer collars that are blue, white or silver, maybe with some green.  I personally prefer more of a cyan for him; it just seems more Artie.  But my husband and I had the hardest time finding a collar that fit our needs!  We went to so many stores around Kansas City, including ones that had handmade collars with various fabrics.  No such luck.  I was really disappointed!  But one 2 am Etsy search led me to a store called Dogs by the Bay, a "seaside pet boutique."  Lo and behold, they had the perfect collar for Artemis:


The picture absolutely does not do it justice!  My dog is a Shih Tzu mix, so it plays to his Asian side and it has sea waves on it!  How absolutely perfect!


My expressive little dog is barely holding in his glee in this picture as I put the new collar on him.


Of course, getting a new collar reminded me that he was well overdue for a groom.  So I set a grooming appointment for the next day early in the morning.  Usually, my husband drops him off in the morning and I pick him up in the afternoon.  I set the appointment with a groomer closer to us, so Artie was a new client.  Unfortunately, in the hectic rush of the morning, my husband forgot to mention that he wanted a 1/8th buzz everywhere except the face which should be rounded.  Whoops!  So what I got back was absolutely hilarious:


It was in this moment that I realized I've never seen Artie's face under all that fur.  It doesn't even look like him!  Artie spent the next week ignoring my husband and generally loathing him.  Poor thing.  It'll grow out, Baby Bean!

Yeah, okay Mom.  Whatever you say. *rolls eyes*

Other than that, the rest of the pets have been doing well.  No real changes there, so here's a tiny photo dump:




Also, a quick update about my husband:  On July 31st, Aaron had surgery to remove a tumorous growth.  Everyone sent us so much positive energy that the clock on the lobby wall started to vibrate during his surgery and they had to remove it and take the batteries out!  Well done!  I mean, look at all of this:

You can click the image above to read them all!
I apologize if I missed your message to me! I think I got them all, but I'm never quite sure.  This also doesn't include all the texts, e-mails and comments on Facebook from personal friends.  My husband and I are so blessed.  We can't tell you how much we appreciate it!

The first biopsy from the topical removal returned "abnormal cells."  After removing 3 ounces of fatty tumor from my husband, we were hoping for more news.  Unfortunately, the lab returned with "undetermined atypical cells."  They've sent the sample off to a second lab for more information.  The doctor said that he still thinks it's just a lipoma (a benign fatty tumor), but he also said that he's "never seen a lipoma do that."  Something's up, but we have no idea what.  I was truly hoping I could give a better update today, but it may be weeks before we have anything new on that front.

That being said, he's doing much better now that it's removed.  He had a rough go right after the surgery and ended up having to take extra days off from work because he would continuously tear the wound back open.  However, it's healing up nicely and he's repeatedly said that he feels much more comfortable - he never knew how much the growth was bothering him until it was gone.  So at least there's that.

Again, thank you so much for all of your kind words, prayers, energy and thoughts!  And the candle lightings!  My husband truly appreciated it, and it helped my nerves to know there were so many people out there thinking of us during the time frame as I sat alone in the lobby.  You guys are wonderful.

So now, for the announcement I'm sure you've all been waiting for:

WE'VE FOUND A NEW HOUSE TO RENT!

Gah, that's my car at our new house!  My little blue Taurus is at our new house!  This isn't a photo from the listing.  I took this picture!  Gah!
No, for real, this is our next house!  I'm not even kidding!   Lease is signed, deposit is in, move-in date is set.  The house is a four bedroom, two and a half bath, three story house built in 1910 in a historic section of our city!  It has a sitting room in the entrance:



It also has an entertainment room with a bar!



About the only thing I'm not absolutely in love with is the awful sea foam green, pepto pink carpet, tiles and wallpaper. A sign of the times, I'm sure.  I'm so ready to paint over the walls, but I have no idea what to do with that carpet.  Maybe I'll run into a free rug that will cover the pepto pink part of it on Craigslist or something.


It also has a "reading room" which will be using as our office with this perfect little place that just might be where I put my altar!


This is mine and Aaron's bathroom, which is hands down the biggest bathroom we've ever seen.  It's bigger than my parents' bathroom, for sure!  It even has a built in makeup vanity!


The two bedrooms upstairs are made mostly of wood, and one even has this little part in it that seems to be like a perfect three-tiered altar...


So I imagine this room will be the spiritual room!  I'm all for kitschy wallpaper, but I'll probably be painting over that too.  Yikes!


The house also has a dining room with a little bench in it that doubles as storage.  So much storage in this place!


The other particularly awesome part of this house is the huge three-level wrap-around porch with...


... A real, working Jacuzzi! <3


It also has a balcony on the front that you can walk out onto from the top two rooms.  One of the top bedrooms will be mine and my husband's, the other being the circle room.  Our roommate gets the smaller two rooms in the basement with his own bathroom!

I'm beyond ecstatic about the new place.  We're working through some initial hiccups with the owners and repairs that are needed before we can move in, but I'm hopeful that it will all work out.  The house is just minutes from my husband's work, closer to my work, closer to my circlemates, and there's a Zumba studio right across the street.  I mean, I seriously can't handle how perfect this could be if it all falls into place!

We're requesting antique keys from Witchy Words followers!  

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Our house cleansing is going to be antique key themed given the nature of the house.  The keys don't have to be real keys; craft stores sell tons of mock antique keys for super cheap!  Charge them with positive energy and attach a small note to the key with some thread, hemp rope, etc.  The note might include your well wishes for us, symbols, sigils, bind runes or even just your name or username.  I'll be hanging the keys in my new house!  The house cleansing is August 19th, but I can also accept keys after that time frame at the new address.  We have a small one-week overlap at both houses that can compensate for late arrivals.  We also have mail forwarding through USPS, so if you send it through that, you should be fine regardless.  Just send me an e-mail at artist@mdartist.com and let me know about when the key will arrive/what mailing service you'll be using so I can make sure to give you the right address!

Thank you so much everyone!
Talk to you soon!