Thursday, May 5, 2016

Personal Update: TONS of stuff - Circle, Home and More.

Where do I even begin?  April was incredibly hectic and so much has happened.  At least I have pictures to go along with almost everything, I think.  I'm going to section this update.  Yes, that much has happened.  Phew!

Circle of Fountains

Obviously, Circle of Fountains had our Beltane ritual a couple weekends ago, led by Phaedra, but we've also been incredibly busy planning our ritual for Kansas City's Pagan Pride Day coming in September.

Last month, we compiled ideas in a brainstorming activity that gave us a basic outline for our PPD ritual using post-its and categories.  This month, I had everyone come to the meeting with a fully-written ritual in hand following a specific format.

We then chopped them apart...

... And puzzle-pieced them back together as one ritual written by the entire circle!  Look at that!

I personally didn't participate because I will be taking this and editing it into a functioning outline.  In a couple weekends, we'll be going out to the marketplace that PPD is held at to take a look around and do a rough walk-through.  That'll tell us if we need to change anything based on the location.  Next month, we'll be purchasing the materials and then, in the next two months, we'll have time for practice!  We're definitely on the ball with this.  I'm so excited for our circle to present this ritual!


April is wedding and afterprom season, which means I've been up late drawing fresh-faced newly weds and tired teenagers for over a month now.  I love it though.  April's one of the busiest months, but it's also when I feel the most alive because work picks up.  I live for my job.

I've also been getting back to more realistic digital caricatures.  When commissioned, my digital caricatures generally look like colored line work.  There's nothing wrong with that, but sometimes I like to do away with the lines.  Celebrities give me a chance to do that.  Sadly, it took a death to inspire to the piece to the left.  Seems the grim reaper has it out for a number of legendary celebrities this year.

The Familiars

The pets have been doing well.  As usual, no news is good news on this front.  Zeus has some miliary dermatitis (read: Kitty hives) that I'm going to vet him for this weekend.  We've been unable to identify the source, and it's been going on for a little longer than I'm okay with now - upwards of a couple months.  It kind of came and went there for a few weeks, but now he's starting to over groom so I think it's time.  More than likely, allergies are just really bad and he needs a cortisone shot to kind of kick the hives in the bud.  I don't imagine anything serious will come of it, which is why we're doing a walk-in vetting this Saturday.

Otherwise, things have been rather... sleepy for them.  April was full of cloudy days and it was about all they could push through to get through it.

We had a rather interesting intruder the other day in the ritual area.  I discovered the issue when I came down to let my dog out and found candles and pine cones scattered everywhere.  I rounded the corner to this sight above.

Honestly, I expected to see a cricket or a giant spider or something under there.  But nothing could brace me for the cute I was about to find.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is not a mouse.  It's a vole.  We've known about voles in our yard for some time, but this little guy must've slipped in the night before when I sleepily let Artie out and back in for the last time that night, likely running from our local owl population.  I swear, our backyard is an episode of the National Geographic.

Never to fear: I put the cats in the litter box room, closed the door, opened the sliding glass door and coerced the little guy out with a folded umbrella.  He made it out fairly unscathed (though probably thinking that he chose the worst hiding place ever).

I guess that brings me to the last point, and a rather sore one at that right now.

The House

So you know how we're under a five-plant retrograde right now?  This is pretty much what happens during those times.  Yes, that's water.  And it was everywhere.

Sometime overnight, the downstairs toilet randomly overflowed with clear water - don't ask me how because I still don't know.  It must have overflowed for hours.  I actually woke up randomly at 2 am thinking something was wrong, but I tried to force myself to go back to sleep because I had a long day of work ahead.  By 4:30 am, I realized I just wasn't going to sleep for whatever reason and wondered into the kitchen for breakfast.  That's when I heard what I thought was our wash machine running.  Confused, I started to go downstairs when I saw the water.

We shut off the water to the lower basement and moved all the furniture out of the way with the help of circlemates.  It took all morning.  Then, I had to go to work.  I mean, this is a picture of me from that day working at a local university.

What makes this even more of a nightmare story is that our rental company has totally neglected fixing the damage.  It took them six days to come out and pull up the carpet, and they never actually removed the water.

Because they took so long to remove the carpet and it took 48 hours for the water to dry, we now have warped walls - which also presents a risk for mold.

After they removed the carpet, we have heard nothing from them since.  We've called and we've tried to get in contact.  Short of making the forty minute drive to show up in their office and demand they give us a time table, nothing has happened.  This is what our basement currently looks like:

Guys, I'm done.  I'm done fighting rental companies.  So this time, I hired an attorney.  Stuff like this just cannot keep happening.  I'm so exhausted from it that I refuse to do this anymore.

I don't really want to discuss what's going on from there.  Our lawyer has a timeline of how he plans to tackle this and we agree that it's the best course of action.  I will likely have updates next month on this front - possibly sooner depending.  Honestly, hiring a lawyer is pretty much the best thing we've ever done.  I feel like we have this under control for the first time in our lives.

I know April has been a rather quiet month for me on the blog front.  Between work and the house, I'm pretty much tired and listless all the time.  It got to the point that I finally went in to see my doctor about it and was diagnosed with severe major depression onset by our housing situation over the past six months.  At first, I was hesitant to share it - because I don't necessarily feel classically depressed.  I love my friends and family and I know they care about me.  I don't feel like I'm alone.  And I'm certainly not suicidal.  I just can't find the energy to do anything.  I stopped taking commissions for a while, which is really for the better with April gigs anyway, but I've also found it hard to clean, make food or even go to bed and get up at a regular time.  I've been neglecting a lot of my life, like my goals and my planner.  I've been compulsively eating terrible foods and have gained a substantial amount of weight.  I cancel plans often.  I mean, these behaviors simply aren't the normal perfectionist ISTJ Virgo II that I'm known as.  This is not who I am.  But I am seeking help and I am on the starting steps of feeling better.  I just hope it explains my absence for a little while.

And I think that sums up just about everything!  I'll update as I have updates that I can publicly give.  Until next time!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Líithi Lushede Coven's Public Beltane Ritual 2016

On Sunday, May 1st, Líithi Lushede Coven held their public Beltane ritual at Waterfall Park in Independence, MO, a southeast suburb of Kansas City.  While the weather had been rainy leading up to the ritual and including the day of, we received a perfect break for the celebration!

Despite the number of weddings going on this day, there was quite a turnout:

Click on the picture above for a larger version!
The public rituals are one of the biggest focal points for the Kansas City pagan community, and Liithi Lushede's are an absolute treat.  The ladies of Liithi Lushede always have a monumental task ahead of them in performing these public rituals, yet they do so perfectly with absolute grace.  A huge thank you to this coven for all the hard work they do!

Rituals are led by the amazing High Priestess Gwenhwyfar Wyrrd.

This year, she was joined by Æsithair Runekafi as the stand-in High Priest.

Ritual began by casting the circle using a staff, sword and flower petals.

This was followed by the calling of the quarters and the lighting of the torches in each respective direction.

The ritual began by calling upon Dionysus, the Greek God associated with fertility and wine.

Gwenhwyfar then walked the circle and talked about overindulgence and moderation.

She noted that both subjects Dionysus is associated with - alcohol and sex - can become addictions yet can also heighten the experience of life when taken in moderation.  We were then asked to close our eyes and "indulge" our other senses beyond sight, an exercise in understanding the power of our own bodies.  The ritual participants were treated to an indulgence of the senses, including:

A Tibetan singing bowl for hearing and a strawberry perfume scent for smell...

Feathers for touch and a piece of chocolate for taste.

Juice from a squeezed grape was then transformed into wine. This wine was used to spread blessings of creativity upon the foreheads of both the HPS and HP...

... As well as all of the participants.

Wine was then blessed and drank by Æsithair and Gwenhwyfar.

They also shared chocolate covered strawberries while juice and strawberries were passed around the circle.

After going through community announcements, the circle was closed.  But the festivities didn't end there!

Gwenhwyfar gave a short tutorial on the basics of Maypole dancing and then the attendants began the dance!

Music was provided by the bard, John Mitchell!

And with that, the ritual was complete.  Of course, there's always the potluck and raffle afterward.  Unfortunately, I couldn't stick around as my dog was ready to go.  That being said, events such as this one give a true sense of community.  I encourage everyone to get out and attend events such as this in your local community!

I hope you had a blessed May Day!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Circle of Fountains May Day Ritual and Celebration 2016

This post will cover the May Day / Beltane ritual and celebration held by the Circle of Fountains.

This year's equinox ritual was held by Phaedra!

Phaedra identifies as a Kitchen Witch with a heavy emphasis on home and family.  Her husband, a Christian Taoist, actively participates in our circle and helps not only Phaedra but our entire group with our rituals.  Our circle prides itself on variety of beliefs and practices, emphasizing those differences as a necessity for community and togetherness.  By having members each traversing a different path, we open ourselves up to everything the human experience has to offer.

I want to thank Andrea for opening up her home for ritual this sabbat.  My home is currently under maintenance and the basement is unfortunately unavailable right now, but Andrea's den worked perfectly for our ritual needs!  I also want to thank Laura for doing everyone's hair up in fantastic braids with the floral crowns Phaedra provided!

Of course, no ritual is complete without a few familiars around.

And that includes some of our circle's vessel and stuffed familiars.

We began this May Day's celebration with ritual first, starting with the quarter calls.

Phaedra also lit a candle for each person in the circle to quietly call upon spirits or deities they'd like to welcome in with us.

By the way, take a look at this gorgeous candle holder.

Phaedra made this candle holder for this specific purpose in high school ceramics.  How amazing is that?  All that wax you see on it has built up from years of use.  It makes this candle holder a particularly important piece of her rituals.

Once we settled into circle, Phaedra explained the importance of Beltane.  She words it much better than I can summarize, so I'm going to leave her introduction here:

This sabbat is the pinnacle of union and fertility. Today is about the masculine and the feminine joining in a creative act. This isn't about gender or genitalia. It is about Yin and Yang, Solar and Lunar and the marriage of our own opposites like intuition and intellect, heart and head.
She explained the various meanings throughout different belief systems, such as the union of the Maiden and the Oak King, the thinning of the veil for the fae, and the fertility of not just our bodies but the earth and our labors.

For these fertile ventures, she created charms with symbols that represented things we've been invested in, such as business, health, love and so forth.  Each charm was sealed an essential oil blend.

In addition, since many of us in the circle are not planning on having children, she marked our charms with an anti-baby sigils.  I want to take a moment to point out that many people think sigils have to be these mysterious, detailed symbols.  Sometimes, simple and straight-forward is the perfect way to go!

In order to charge our charms, we held them tightly while we danced the May Pole to Godsmack's Voodoo.

Once we were done, Phaedra knotted it in a bow and our May Pole dance was complete!

With that, we concluded ritual by closing circle...

... And dismissing our deities and spirits if they so wished to leave.

And thus, we went on for dinner!

Circle of Fountains rituals are always potluck, so every member brings a dish to share with the group.  Our May Day potluck consisted of...

We decided to hold our potluck after ritual this holiday to recuperate from the energy of the ritual itself.  It was much needed!

And that concludes the May Day festivities from Circle of Fountains!

From my circle to yours, have a wonderful Beltane!