Herbst

A lot has happened in this past month.

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History was all around me, and I savored every moment.

I went to the Academy for training, across the state. It held my focus and attention, please forgive my absence. After graduation, I came home and offered a plethora of gifts in gratitude. I held quiet rituals in humble solitude, and before I went to bed – I blessed my polished boots.

I’m happy to be back in uniform, and it feels damn good to have a duty belt again.

The town is chock-full of history, around every corner. Old spirits, lingering like smoke in a bar. Not benevolent, not malevolent – but a neutral that took me some time to become accustomed to. They’re neither here, nor there. They’re neither listening, nor ignoring you. Neither coming, or going. It was something else.

I was haunted the entire time, by a single solitary crow. Whom eluded my camera like a pro. I do wonder if he kept coming back because I greeted him with “Why hello, my love!” Gorgeous bird.

It was in this town that I found my tarot deck. I had left it open, hoping that I would find ‘my‘ deck; but understanding the fact that it may just not happen for me. But it did!

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The Light And Shadow Tarot

I spent several evenings just studying the cards, the imagery, and their meanings. Then, I blessed it during the Brewer’s/Herbst Moon of September. (While most of my month has been spent at the Academy, I did manage to get preparations for brewing this winter. My yeast, my ingredients, are on their way!) I fell in love with the cards, each unique one. For the first time, I ‘heard‘ them speak. My fingers traced the lines, and my eyes caught each curve.

I’m thrilled to have a deck finally. Now, in the dark of the moon, I am using them for ritual purposes as well.

My skulls are almost ready, and in the next month I’ll be working with them as well. I’ve got several new additions, and I am looking forward to their insight.

I spent my time otherwise harvesting my large garden. I have more produce than I know what to do with!

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Oh no, that’s not even 1/4 of my harvest! I just couldn’t fit it all in one shot!

For a private garden, I was stunned.

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Again, just a portion of my garden.

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And… My one and only green bean.

My stove was a mess after the pickling, canning, and jams – but I’m pretty happy. Now, to find folks I can give them to!

It is Herbst today, and I honored the change in the seasons. It begins my darker half of the year, the Season of the Dead. I don’t know if I’ll have a chance to go hunting this year, but I intend to try. I held a solitary Ancestral Feast, of fresh salmon, my garden herbs and vegetables.

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Delish.

It is also my Erntendankfest, or Thanksgiving. I blessed my house, my skinning knives, and I cast the bones and read the cards. The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler, and the signs of winter are coming in earnest.

It is the time when the Bear Mother leaves in my tradition, as well as seeing the bears of my state begin to hibernate. Some are early, some are later on. When She rests, the world rests with Her. I tended a cub over winter and most of this year, and it was time to bid farewell.

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Farewell little cub! Oh precious little one, I have brought you up in my home, And shared my nourishment. Now it is time, To return to our Mother. When next you see her, Speak well of me, And send blessings back to me.

The remainder of my evening will be spent playing my harp, leaving cream outside for the Good Neighbors, and the returning Ancestors. Their apex will be at Rauhnact, and I am prepping for my own quiet Day of the Dead coming up in October. Much Ancestral rituals are ahead of me, as I will spend my evening not alone, but with my Ancestors.

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A good tidying up is in order, with milk and bread to feed them.

I hope your own celebrations are joyful, and rich with life as the Season of the Dead begins.

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On Empty Thresholds

Left foot forward, on an empty threshold,
The door is silent, the floor is cold.
The spirits quiet, insects crawl,
Yet they remain still, and don’t move at all.

Yet when I approached, with gentle care,
I tried to be calm, tried to be fair.
But akin to us, some were angry to see,
Someone to dare to tread their carpeted sea.

Shut out of some, welcomed by two,
I await to see which will work through.
I left a whispered offering,hoping to be heard,
I shall await, for the final word.

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Onwards and Upwards

Hello!

Forgive me for being gone, due to the intense weather my wireless bullet was fried beyond repair. How it happened I am not certain, but it needed to be replaced. So, I got to wait until the company received a replacement. My house wasn’t the only one, hence why I had to wait. To the followers I’ve lost – sorry. I’ll try not to let that happen again.

So what have I been up to? Ending my machining career, and moving back to a law centered career. Hearing that call became too much for me, and I will be moving onwards from there. A huge shift in my life has occurred, and now to let the dust settle. I take up my sword anew as it were, and prepare.

In my downtime from the internet, I have been prepping to buy a house. When one works with Household Gods and spirits, that’s not so easy. For some it’s as simple as “I like it, I’ll take it.” I have to be patient, I know this. But I’m ready to move onwards. We’ll have to see.

Been finishing several projects, a staff and a set of knives. One of the last claw knives, a tad longer (by 3/4 inch) than it’s twins.

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Real beauties, and sharp enough to cut this ol’ smithy’s fingers! Will be available soon!

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Beaver chewed ash sapling, white tailed deer antler (found by the highway), several stones and a large quartz. Wrapped in deer hide and elk hide. It is up for sale as a private auction, if you want more information post a comment to let me know.

My garden is sprouting in a whirl. I’m going to have more produce than I’ll ever know what to do with. Cucumbers, pumpkins, watermelons, tomatoes, herbs, corn… All growing proudly next to my tiny little current home. I have one pumpkin that already weighs 27 pounds! (It was an adventure weighing it too!)

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During a powerful thunderstorm, I heard to call of the Avian One (Upperworld God of birds, society, the weather, the moon, and stars); and held my full Red Moon rituals. During this moon, I have received many requests via email to light a candle for several people. With my homemade oils I anointed the lights, and set them next to a council of white vessels to bear witness. I tapped the bones, and I chanted. The light in the window is actually a lightning burst I caught on camera!

Candles

With the council convened, I cast the bones as I asked my plethora of questions not only for myself, but a few requests. My hair stood on end as the ground thundered, and the air was thick both inside my house and out.

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I use a rabbit skin because it is the herald in my tradition, and as a threshold creature it seems all too fitting to work with rabbit, as well as my beloved mink.

Got several more tattoos, and I’m thrilled:

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One of four, the fifth coming soon!

Have a new addition to the household: A very, very lost salamander I named Waldo:

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Catching worms, moths, grasshoppers and other insects has actually been a fun experience. He is pretty happy in his temporary terrarium.

And – made my spear finally!

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Sitting next to my front door for unwelcome visitors.

Currently finishing up some skull cleaning, and I’ll post about that when all’s finished. Collected several road kills, and their skulls are macerating nicely. In my new home when I find it, I am saving an animal to plant in that new home. Planting an animal guardian in one’s home is a time-honored tradition I will be carrying forward. I’m sorry, but the rest of that will be kept private (no offense).

For some time I moved the bear skulls to my bedroom and conducted nightly dream rituals, and my dreams have yielded enough that I’ll be thinking and researching on it for quite some time. I have started a journal to write them down as soon as I wake up, divining as I go. I am not sure what to expect, but most of the signs have been favorable. So, we’ll see.

So after all of these storms, hearing the sirens in the night… Offering tea to the Avian One and the other Gods, Vodka, Gin, fruit, salmon, milk, honey, and much more in gratitude. It’s been intense – feeling the roar through the floor of your home, hearing the roar outside… This summer has been a humbling one; a real test of my connection to Those I work with. I thought things were concreted before!

So, I may have been marooned from the online world, but I was not quiet. To those in the mid-west I hope you remain safe, and everyone is prosperous wherever you are!

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July Moon: Thunder Moon

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More bone council…

Been working on finishing projects during this ‘super moon,’ of which for me was aptly named ‘Thunder Moon,’ – some are in the store, some… are private.

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Mule Deer Antlered Knife, with riveted sheath. Knife is wrapped in elk-hide.

 

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Hardened utility knife, in riveted sheath. I love the 550 cord wrapped handle, I have its twin and I use it frequently!

 

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During the Thunder Moon, I made many oils to work with.

A short post, mostly of action, and not much to report on – preparing for more tattoos, and finishing up some staffs. I’ll post those photos soon.

 

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Re-Wilding

I read an awesome post by The Scarlet Imprint, of which I’ve spent some time thinking on. I have felt out of place, a bear in a china shop as it were, when meeting other Pagans. My little tradition has received sneers, raised eyebrows, and cold shoulders because it is so different from their own. My tradition is not apologetic, hard to describe, and primal. Even my own Daughter of the Bear and Her consort (She being a smithy, and hearth goddess; Her consort is the Sacred Ploughman) in their domestic atmosphere are not anywhere near the tame rituals of many practitioners I’ve met in person lately.

There is no counted ritual measures, no formal set up or take-down. Working magic with me is accepting blurred lines, of mundane life and ritual, the use of everyday objects in ritual and ritual objects in everyday life. The local spirits are still angry, and I have been working for years to at least have a relationship of sorts with Them. There have been ups, and downs. Many Pagans do not like my bones, they think the idea is something heretical (Really? Seriously?), and the fact that I do not have categorized mythology, or strict lines anywhere frustrates many. It has been difficult to word my practice coherently, and it’s even more difficult to introduce others to my Gods and Spirits – I have been called a bad influence so many times I just expect it sometimes. Yes, alcohol, flying ointments (Thank you Ms. Lawless), and home-made herbal smokes appear in my practice. You have to let yourself go, become a blurred line yourself – to cross the veil.

When I have tanned skins hanging in my bathtub, skulls being macerated in water in my kitchen, dead animals in my fridge, herbs steeping in rum, whiskey, gin, and vodka… Hearing my violin at 3am, chanting until dawn, seeing a dark-haired woman donning a black bear skin – her pupils lost to this world and her breathing deep and long, covered in ash and her body painted – speaking to Those that she sees clearly yet looks at you confused… Yea, it has been a challenge to meet people. I leave offerings often to the local spirits when I feel them close, even if it is a bit of my own lunch and a cigarette, an offering is an offering. Taking my hat off and escorting the toads out of the shop to prevent injury (toads are an animal protected by one local spirit) has earned me quite a bit of jest, and at the same time I’m given my own space.

My tradition is based on the wilds, I do not live by an agricultural calendar, nor pastoral one. I live on the fringes of it, and I have blessed animals and fields. I offer whiskey to the crossroads that are so dark the stars are a form of light. I watch as the sun wanders the earth as the Antlered Weaver’s deer wander, I listen in the midnight hours to the whispers of the Avian One’s moon; I work my rituals by my Bear Mother. The next morning, I wake up, go through my morning rituals to prepare for work – and off I go.

I felt so odd for being on the fringe, as if I was missing something. Turns out, probably not – I’m right where I need to be. I really hope this post made sense. And, I hope I wasn’t too much of an asshole.

 

 

 

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Litha

Ah, summer. Normally filled with bugs, heat, and barbeques; this year it has been filled with tornadoes, torrential rain, floods, hail, lightning, and winds that knocked a few of the neighboring porches over. So, in normal years I create an effigy to parade around my home and douse with water to bring in nourishing rain. This year, I decided that this wasn’t necessary!

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30 min after this storm raged overhead, one of many!

I built a fire when I was given a short break in the weather, of six woods loaded with paper wishes to attract my heartfelt desires. Leaping over the fire ensures one’s wishes come true – so in a low container I did just that, after a few shots of whiskey. Fishermen, hunters were out and about and I managed to talk to several of them, as I waited for my wood-fed smoker to heat up. I feasted on smoked meats and vegetables, with local fruits and locally grown salads. It is normal to give gifts this time of year, as it is at the Winter Solstice, seeing as I am alone now I treated myself to a few gifts and hours of retail therapy.

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Prayer, songs, strong drink, and laughter. Good times, even on my own!

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Delicious local fish – marinated overnight and smoked… Oh my giggles it was wonderful!

This time of the year was filled with a balance ritual of fire and water – of floating a small candle on a paper float in a silver bowl of clear blessed water. Sorry, no photos of the sacred rituals (no offense). After all of this was said and done I put out the fire with the blessed water and let the steam cover me, and several leather pieces to add to my ritual blacksmithing, to be imbued with the ritual’s potency.

Giggled and sang to my garden, as my seeds are growing strong:

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Basil, lavender, green bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, and more – I am delighted to see them grow!

During my break from the weather I wandered neighborly private property and wild-crafted several herbs and wildflowers to bedeck my home. My home was filled with the scent of cedar, juniper, pine, sagebrush, wild mint, and the gorgeous flowers of milkweed and bright wildflowers were set on my kitchen table. During this time I heard a strange mewing beneath my floor – and rescued Gertrude Munchin, an abandoned kitten in the care of a surrogate mother cat:

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Doing great and growing like a weed! Was stuck between the floor boards and the insulation.

 

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Such a despised weed, makes such lovely blooms..

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Bright sunny flowers for a sun-oriented solstice!

 

prayer beads

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After my hike, I began to make more rauchstocks.

 

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Pine, cedar, sagebrush – I’m quite excited to use them as fuel for the fires of Herbst!

 

I marveled at the various delicate blooms that were growing around in the area:

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And since I am detained indoors for the time being, I have also been focusing on finishing several folk art pieces to place around my home, and I finished the day with a cream offering to the Good Neighbors who are at their apex at this time of the year:

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Copper, green, gold, and white – sang by a shaman as she worked the rite.

 

This solstice was surprising productive and a wonderful experience, even though I was on my own and the storms raged with The Avian One’s wrath. I hope your own solstice was filled with magic, mayhem, and laughter.

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The Birds

Been doing quite a bit of reading, and with the power outages, the tornadoes, the hail and winds it has been a humbling time. Several tornadoes have touched down within the past few days alone. Hearing the wind howling and the hail as I turned the page, reading by a hurricane lamp because the town lost power – really connected me to times gone by. I had been working with wind magic, and trance work in the Upper world – but I was not expecting the weather to drop by!

But, here are my notes thus far; I have found numerous blogs and articles on ravens, crows, owls, eagles, etc. But what about songbirds, geese, ducks, and other not so popular birds such as turkeys?

Goose:

Associated with the Celtic Mars, it is a bird that is tied to war due to the Celts noticing their watchful and aggressive temperament (how many of us have been attacked by geese in a park?). Also, of the ‘wild goose chase,’ because as a hunter myself – geese are notorious birds that can out-fly, outwit, and even trying to capture domestic geese is a monumental challenge. Because the lead goose ‘cuts,’ the air for his fellow flyers the goose’s connection to war, and the martial arena is deepened by the role of leadership.

Many dieties have ties to the goose, from war gods to Mother Goose. It is said that when Hulda shakes her bed it causes snow. With my own tradition, the goose  is associated with society, the home, and marital fidelity. Hanging goose feathers or sleeping on a bed or pillow filled with their down feathers can bring fertility and fidelity to a couple (geese mate for life). The Avian one protects the township, the home, and the family unit itself. Also, geese are representatives of wealth, and comfort (hence why the ‘christmas goose,’ is a hard engrained tradition for many families) and was an offering to Thor and Odin for a successful harvest. Serving stuffed fowl at Yuletide is a long standing tradition, not just geese, but turkeys, ducks, and yes even peacocks. In my house, goose is served to bring in health, wealth, and (hopefully) wisdom. Geese have been associated with the Wild Hunt (Thanks Dver for reminding me!) due to the connection of the baying geese with the hounds of the Hunt itself. The Märchen, or fairytale, or fable behind it, has the baying being explained as the migration of geese.

The goose is also connected to traveling (physical and otherwise), the journey, and one’s own spiritual path (migration). With the weather in mind, geese are associated with winter prognostication: a red or dark breastbone means a stormy winter; a light colored one foretells a mild winter. Also, how they waddle across the yard, east to west means storms, north to south means sunshine.

 

Turkey:

This bird earned it’s name by a variety of ways, from being mis-identified to slurs in Native language.  In Native folklore they play the role of the overly proud trickster, as well as being shy and elusive. Male turkeys gobble, females emit this ‘clicking,’ noise. Ben Franklin called this bird ‘the bird of courage,’ who thought that this bird should be the national bird, not the eagle. This bird is associated with usefulness, every part of the bird has a purpose. They are tied to the oak tree, their varied diet has a large intake of acorns. Because of that turkeys are connected to wisdom, adaptability, and finding hidden wisdom.

 

Ducks:

As a water bird, not only fresh but salt water these birds are in our imagination from folklore, to movies, cartoons, and then some. In folklore, the duck is often the fool. They fall for the trickster’s tricks, they have a good heart but usually are gullible. A famous fable is the ‘Ugly Duckling,’ remember that one? The Celts were known to keep chickens, geese, and ducks for their eggs. But wild ducks (along with geese, and swans) were hunted frequently.

Ducks are pretty frequent in sacrificial offerings in several temples for the Celts, as evidenced with archeology. Ducks (like many water birds) are associated with the spirits of the dead, because they are water, land, and air creatures they tie the living with the dead. Duck motifs have been found on horse harnesses, as well as many drinking vessels (and bowls) show rows of ducks, sometimes with solar symbols, sometimes not.

Ducks, like most water birds, have ties with our own emotions, as well as community. As a migratory bird, they too can be guides and aids on our own path, or in trance work. And, the phrase “Like a duck to water,” is used as an omen (from what I’ve learned) in augury for a sign that we’re doing or going somewhere we were meant to.

 

Songbirds:

Nightingale: The bird of the Poet, the myth of Philomela and Procne is connected to the Nightingale, as well as the bird associated with love (not always with a happy ending).

Robin: Usually called the RedBreast, and the rhyme :

   “The robin and wren

     Are God’s cock and hen.

     The spink and the sparrow

     Are the deil’s bow and arrow.”

 The spink is possibly the chaffinch. In British mythology the robin is not to be harmed, and if a robin dies in your hand, that hand will shake uncontrollably. This bird is keenly tied to thunder and is sacred to Thor (and in my tradition The Avian One as well), and is very popular in iconography around Yuletide. The first robin of the season can grant one wish – but make it quick otherwise it’ll take your luck with it for twelve months!

Throughout history this bird has been associated with charity, compassion, good luck, as well as fire and death. It is said that if the robin raps at your window then death will follow soon after. However, it is extremely unlucky to kill a robin, and to do so invites the shakes, fire to one’s home, or bring lightning to you. Breaking a robin’s egg is to have someone or something dear to you be broken in return. Rain is said to follow a robin sheltering in one’s home or nearby tree, or the chirping calls in mild weather.

 

It’s a start, and I’ll post more the more time I get to read. I will be associating the summer thunder with the robin, and the winter storms with the goose, that’s to be sure! There are several robins nesting in the ash tree next door!

 

 

 

 

 

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Bone Council, Dangerous Winds

Forgive me for not being online for a bit – dangerous weather has forced me to keep the computer off due to lightning within walking distance of my house. Winds have raged here for weeks off and on, and tornadoes have danced around my town. Many offerings to the Avian One (Lord of the Winds, Rain, and weather in general) were given as my heart raced more than once during my down time. Hearing the unleashed angry winds was humbling, and I used my time to divine, and even journey in trance.

Seeing the birds of the winds was a terrifying experience, following a large bird that the roar of it’s wings caused the thunder and His deafening scream had my head spinning for most of the following day. I couldn’t make out clearly what sort of birds they were, but I will not be forgetting them any time soon. So for the past week I’ve been scouring my books to learn more about folklore and myth surrounding birds.

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While I remain dubious of Animal Speak, I’m reading it for a starting place (better than none at all!).

The books I have digitally are “The Folklore of Birds,” by Edward A. Armstrong; and “Wings and Tails: Learning about Birds Through Folklore,” by Jennifer L. Kroll. Lots of reading! From the snowy owl that is seen in the Trois Freres cavern, to the Birdman Lascaux… My mind has been spinning.

In some parts of the US, the Owl’s hooting foretells a change in the weather, crows are also called ‘rain birds,’ as is the yellow-billed cuckoo (in fact this bird is also called ‘storm crow.’) Watching the direction of the geese during autumn and winter were sure signs of a blizzard, or a clear day. Flight to the east has shown me blizzards, flights more westward heralded calmer weather. But what of the summer?

Birds of wind, and thunder – I’ve been reading that the glint in their eyes cause lightning. There is much to think about, and there is sure to be plenty of wind, rain, and thunder in my future.

Held several Bone Councils, fed and shared with a Red Meal:

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Used my bone tapper and worked the rite, and listened to their wisdom. Bones see, hear, and sense things that we cannot, though to many they are creepy, macabre, and silent – to those who can ‘hear’ them, they have volumes to say and show us. Bones are the White Fruit at the Tree that stands at the Crossroads, and to pick of their knowledge is to open yourself to a reality that only folklore can hint at.

Forgive me for not posting more – making notes for a major blog post about bird folklore. Given the angry winds – I hope it’s in the next week or so. I hope you all are safe, and comfortable where ever you are.

 

 

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Worldview and Travel

I have been doing quite a bit of traveling lately, and it’s been focused on my deep contemplations on my worldview. Every practitioner I think should take stock of how they approach the world, why, who’s there, and how they approach. Mine has been changing.

The sun is still an hour-hand, the moon is the minute hand of  the clock that belongs to the Avian One, or a ‘Father Time,’ figure. The world around me is woven moment by moment, and the Underworld still echoes in my ears when I find a moment of silence, or stillness. Places, and even inanimate things have spirit because of the hands that imbued it, even modern ones that are still functioning today. Even a new home that was build with mindful hands already has spirit born into it.

The land is what moves me, the ghosts of memory and then some, the newly forming ones that are born tomorrow. Feeling out of place with society, yet understanding it better from the fringe. Walking along the river, to hearing the fluctuations in the songs of the birds as the seasons change. Being able to predict the geese as they migrated, and I flew as a goose myself (got shot for my efforts).

I have been traveling, not just locally. I’ve had vivid dreams lately, of traveling on a horse, but my compass was shattered. But I needed to press on. The land around me was so full I couldn’t take it all in despite trying. I wake up with nosebleeds, headaches, and my ears ringing. I’m not sure, but these past four moons have been intense. Have they been for anyone else?

 

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Working, Thinking

Been working full time, and coming home to forge. Every night this week I have gone to bed with tired arms and legs with a smile on my face. There is something so satisfying about answering the call of the Bear Mother and her Daughter. Gained some good headway on constructing the Daughter of the Bear’s hood-lamp:

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Not finished yet, but getting there!

 

Been working on forms, iron jewelry, a hatchet, horse shoes (which will be popping up in the store later on this week), and finishing up some other knives. Finally got the steel to begin ritual swords too! WOOT!

 

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Torcs, bracelets, and steel for fire-making kits. Felt good to forge.

 

As well as other rituals once the sun goes down:

 

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Tonight I will convene the council of bones for hours of divination – check back soon!

Oh! Tried my hand at making a Tyr (sp?) rune necklace.

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Steel, cotton, and silver. Thoughts anyone?

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