New Year’s Eve Ritual — Gangleri’s Grove

This is a rather lovely New Year’s Eve ritual that I thought my readers might enjoy. Of particular note is the use of sound to cleanse a space. It’s highly effective – I use sound myself, although usually of a different type – and it’s always nice to see that utilized rather than the more common smudging.

This

A few days ago, someone asked me about the New Year’s Eve ritual that I typically do for the House. I promised I’d post it here, so here it is. I alter this a little every year, but the barebones scaffolding remains intact: New Year’s Eve Ritual I don’t usually share House rituals, but I’m […]

via New Year’s Eve Ritual — Gangleri’s Grove

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Clytie and Solstice Reflections

I think it’s appropriate that, on the day of Solstice, I taught the myth of Clytie to an 8-year-old. As with all myths there are several versions, some much less kind than others, but this is the one we talked about:

Clytie was a beautiful water nymph with golden hair and big brown eyes. One day she walked outside, looked up, and was utterly captivated by Apollo as He drove the sun chariot across the sky.

For nine days she stood on a rock, not moving or eating, and simply stared at Apollo as He traversed the heavens. She was so obsessed that her only sustenance was dewdrops. She didn’t even rest at night – she simply stood there waiting for Apollo’s return, so she could watch the sun move across the sky again.

Her adoration was absolute, but she suffered for it. Her health and beauty faded. She grew weak, and pale, and wan. Yet still she did not move, so captivated was she.

On the tenth day the Gods looked down and saw Clytie, still standing, still mesmerized, still wasting away. They were touched by her selfless adoration, but concerned for her too. This was no life for a woman or a nymph.

So, taking pity on her, They turned her into a sunflower.

clytie

Modern versions of the myth say the flower was a sunflower, but originally the flower was a heliotrope. Just FYI.

Now her health and beauty are enhanced by the sun, instead of destroyed. She is nourished and sustained by the ground on which she stands, instead of weakened. And to this day the Sunflower is free to stare at the sun to her heart’s content.

Last night, while at my altar, this myth resonated with me on a deep level. First, of course, is the sun aspect and how that relates to Solstice. But it goes deeper than that.

Clytie was so obsessed with the sun she couldn’t function in the rest of her life. That wasn’t healthy, and the Gods knew that. But They also knew that turning her away from the sun completely – by, say, blinding her – would have been equally damaging. They came up with an unorthodox compromise that maintained her health while letting her heart go where it willed.

I found myself focusing on Clytie’s need for balance.

My life has been tumultuous this year. My Lady is the Lady of Change, and I have been living in Her realm since May. I have moved several times. I went from being a single woman working a full-time job to sharing a house with four other people, co-parenting two children, and homeschooling six days a week.

I’ve been so busy adjusting to all the changes and trying to keep my head above water that my spiritual life took a backseat for a bit. And I was so focused on all the day-to-day craziness that I didn’t realize until very recently that the lack of time at my altar – and by extension with the Powers – was affecting me as deeply as it was. It wasn’t just my spiritual life that suffered. Everything else did too.

In a way, I’ve been doing what Clytie did. I’ve neglected essential things I need to be healthy and happy in favor of the things at the forefront of my attention.

I need to learn from Clytie’s story and get some of my own balance back. It’s up to me to restore that which I lost, though. No Gods are stepping in to turn me into a flower!

I took the need for balance to my altar, along with the beginnings of a plan to fix it, and asked the Powers for help. My Lady has been patiently waiting for me to see the problem and step it the fuck up. Now that I have, She’s of course totally willing to help. She always is, but requires a request – and my very best good faith effort – to act. And even then She’s careful not to overstep. How will I learn if I simply go where I’m led?

I don’t yet know what being totally balanced looks like in this new situation, with all the new things going on now and coming up in 2017 (oh yes I have plans!), but after spending some one-on-one time with Her last night I know where to start. That’s the best Solstice gift I could ask for.

Easy DIY Incense Stove

I adore incense. It smells good, usually, but it’s also a potent magickal tool of its own. Thing is, the ways we burn it tend to distort the scent, add undesireable elements to the mix, or both.

Using sticks is convenient, but when the wooden sticks in the center of the incense burns we can smell that too. That distorts the scent of the incense. Sticks are also usually doused in unknown chemicals.

Loose incense is great, and if we make it ourselves we know exactly what’s in it. However, the charcoal used to burn it almost always has saltpeter and other chemicals in it to make it burn. (Unsure if your incense has saltpeter in it? Light a block. If it crackles it contains saltpeter.)

Either way, the very act of burning adds an acrid, smoky undertone to the scent of our incenses. Burning also creates smoke that can aggravate sensitive lungs. (And, while smoke is sometimes necessary, it isn’t always.)

But what alternative do we have? An incense stove!

What’s an incense stove?

Have you seen the oil burners so common these days? They consist of a small dish on top with space for a tealight underneath. Put a bit of oil in the dish, put a lit tealight underneath, and voila.

oil-burner

Like this one.

The controlled indirect heat releases the scent without burning the oil. What a great idea, huh?

An incense stove does the same thing with incense.

Why not just use an oil burner for incense then?

Since oil burners and incense stoves function the same you might think you can use an oil burner for incense too. And technically you can. That technique comes with a pretty significant limitation, though.

The fragrance oils made for these burners all release their scents at about the same temperature. It’s done that way on purpose. However, loose incenses include everything from hard woods to delicate florals to wine and honey. Each of those require a different heat level to release their scents without burning, and combos have their own requirements.

To work with the wide variety of blends available we really require some way to adjust the temperature. I’m sure the fancy electric models out there are wonderful, but my budget doesn’t exactly run to fancy.

Time to DIY!

Make Your Own Incense Stove

As many of you know, DIY altar supplies are kinda my thing. My favorite projects all tend to be thrifty, simple, and effective. This one is now on the list. It cost me a whopping ZERO DOLLARS, because I already had everything necessary.  Even if you don’t have ANY of it, though, you should be able to make it for less than $5.

Bonus? It only takes about 10 minutes.

Supplies

supplies

The salt I used is not pictured here. Otherwise, this is everything!

* One empty and rinsed-out soda can. Obviously use whatever brand you have on hand. For those living overseas, US soda cans hold 12 ounces.
* A utility knife
* A pair of scissors (I used kitchen shears)
* A random bowl at least as big around as the can. Make sure it won’t melt! This one’s from my kitchen.
* Sand, salt, kitty litter, etc. Anything to put in the bowl to disperse the heat.
* An unscented tealight
* Loose incense of your choice. Don’t have any? Check online for recipes you can make from your spice cabinet, or hit your local magick shop for a variety of yummy blends.
* A lighter

That’s it!

(Note: I did not wear gloves, or eye protection, or anything else safety-wise in the creation of this stove. And hey, there’s fire involved. Please take whatever precautions you feel necessary when attempting this craft. Not for children.)

We’re going to use the bottom of the can. It’s already concave and everything! The top part with the tab has to go, though. So first, use your utility knife to puncture a few holes along the edge where the body of the can starts constricting towards the top. Like so:

utility-knife-punctures

That line there? That’s where you want to start punching holes. A utility knife will go through a can with the slightest pressure, so no need to be forceful about it!

Now take your scissors, slide one blade into one of your holes, and cut all the way around. You could just use the knife, but scissors are safer. Your call. *shrug*

You’ll likely have some bits come flying off, and your cutline will be a little jagged, but that’s ok. When you’re done you’ll have something that looks like this.

cut-with-burrs

Pretty, huh? Careful – the aluminum is so thin that you’ll get something like a paper cut if you slip.

Take your scissors and do your best to even out that jagged edge. Scissors will cut through pretty easily, so have at. I ended up sitting the can upright, holding the scissors in one place, and turning the can to get a straight line. When you’re done you’ll have something like this.

trimmed

Smooth like buttah. Relatively straight, even! WOOT!

Now for some “precision work”. Heh. Pick up your tealight and look at the cut edge of your can. You need to cut a hole big enough to slip the candle into. It both makes a nice glow and provides some ventilation for your tealight. I found that the nutrition label and the ingredients list together was the right size, so I cut a bit up each side until I had a little flap. Then I simply folded the flap up inside the can and pressed it along the side. Like so:

flap

The outside and inside view.

Set the can aside. It’s done! Not too traumatic, was it? Give your handyman self a pat on the back and bask in your accomplishment!

Now take your sand/salt/whatever and pour it into your bowl. Make sure it’s at least 2″ deep. Nestle your tealight in the center of it, all cozy-like.

bowl-with-unlit-candle

The trifecta of incense goodness!

Light the candle. Pick up your incense stove, curved side up, and position it over the candle. Settle it into the bowl so it doesn’t tip over. Move fast – aluminum transfers heat REALLY well, and it’ll get too hot to touch in like 15 seconds.

Sprinkle some loose incense into the curved cup on the top of your new stove and wait a few minutes.

Can you smell the incense yet? If not, push the can lower into the sand/salt/etc (with a utensil – it’ll be hot like burning!). That will have the effect of raising the candle and upping the temperature. Smell burned? It’s too hot. Use a utensil to raise the can. If you can’t raise the can anymore without it tipping, push the candle into a divot in the sand/salt/whatever to move the candle further away from the top and lower the temp. It’s that easy!

final-result

Amber resin is my fave. Smells awesome in (on?) my incense stove!

It is absolutely, positively functional at this stage. If, however, you want to cover the soda label and make it pretty you have tons of options. Metal paints work, of course. A sleeve out of some spare scrapbooking paper to cover the soda label could look nice, too, and add a little insulation to boot. Or maybe try wrapping it with silver foil from the kitchen for a shiny finish!

You can also carefully cut some small shapes into the sides of the can. They’ll look pretty all aglow and add ventilation points, which is handy if you have to sink the can so low into the salt that it cuts off air through the flap. They’ll also reduce heat, though, so take that into account with the sizing.

Congrats! You’re the proud owner of a brand new functional incense stove!

2017 Tarot Forecasts!

Hello, all!

Want to know what 2017 will look like for you? Hoping it’ll be an improvement over 2016? Sounds like a great reason to get a 2017 Tarot Forecast! These readings usually take over an hour, and I’ll be doing them at the sale rate of $50 each. Makes a fun and unusual Yule/Christmas gift too!

Neat! How do they work?

First, PM me here to schedule a date and time.

Then, hit PayPal for the money part. My email address is mystiknomad AT gmail DOT com.

Finally, show up for your reading! I usually do them via Skype or phone from my ritual room, since I do some ritual prep before the reading begins, but if you would prefer another method let me know and we’ll talk about it. Make sure you’ve got a notebook and pen ready to take notes, because once the reading’s over it’s over and I won’t remember what we talked about.

May you have a wonderful holiday season and a smooth transition into 2017!

Light Up World Tree from Ironwood Witch

I am a HUGE fan of applicable arts and crafts. Don’t we all love to use our hands to manifest an aspect of our faith? In that vein, here is a wonderful twist on the standard Christmas tree – how to make your very of Yggdrasil!

I am a crafter, and I am a Heathen, and often the two combine. Right now, it’s also holiday season, with Yule coming up, and Christmas ALL OVER the craft stores (well, all over since like September. Crafters, we are a couple of months ahead of all holidays because we need the time to get […]

via Heathen Holiday Crafts: Light Up World Tree — Ironwood Witch