Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Gin-Soaked Winter Garden Party in a Converted Church

Last night, my S.O. and I decided to attend A Dreamy Garden Gathering hosted by Atlas Obscura, featuring Hendrick's Gin.

And when I say featured, I mean heavily.

The event took place at the Blind Whino, a church-turned-art-and-event-space here in DC. I hadn't had the opportunity to visit it before, and the experience was striking. Even from the outside, the church itself is colorful -- the exterior is brightly painted, and the grounds were set up with luminaries and large braziers for visitors to warm themselves on.

[caption id="attachment_3982" align="aligncenter" width="550"] The outside of the Blind Whino.[/caption]

Before the entrance, there was the Hendrick's Grand Garnisher. And, let me tell you, I have never seen something made of that much concentrated I'm-not-even-sure-what in my entire life. It was powered by a combination of a diesel motor and a man pedaling a penny-farthing, which moved--

Look, I'm just gonna quote the event description.
At the center of festivities, the Hendrick's Grand Garnisher awaits. An industrial oddity, the colossal vehicle is capable of delicately slicing cucumbers and cruising at speeds of up to 25 mph. Powered by a large diesel motor and a well-dressed gentleman peddling a penny-farthing, the Hendrick's Grand Garnisher's peculiar sight is sure to enchant even the most jaded of partygoers. Inquisitive guests are welcome to sidle up to the Hendrick's Grand Garnisher's side to have their cocktails dressed with cucumbers before their very eyes. 

Not gonna lie, though. It was pretty neat looking, and it definitely sliced a lot of cucumbers that evening:

Inside, the party continued with games of shuffleboard, a contortionist, a phonograph DJ, a live band, and... more liquor contraptions. There was a hand-cranked gin and tonic maker inside of a large suitcase, and (my personal favorite) the Noetic Negroni Machine:

In the main room, there was plenty of music. First from a phonograph and a harpist:

And, later in the evening, a live band.

Walls of artificial ivy and lost of green and blue lighting gave the impression of a garden from outer space, with dancing, green-tinged partygoers and a curious glow. We tried to take a picture of ourselves, too. (But, true to form, we had a hard time getting one because my S.O. and I can't not spend pictures making faces at each other!)

Even though I don't imbibe and my S.O. had to drive, it was a fun evening. Tickets were about $19, and there was an open bar (well, multiple bars and automatic drink-mixing-machines). If the event comes around next year, we'll definitely go again!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Warm Sun and Skeletal Trees

It's been unseasonably warm here lately. Tuesday, it was nearly 65°F (though it promises to get colder by this weekend). I can't say I'm really happy with such a warm December, but it was a good time to go back to the fancy swamp to see what changes the turning seasons have brought.

A walk in the woods is a good way to clear your head. At the very least, it was a good way to pull me out of myself, to make me focus on bigger things -- nowhere is the cycle of life, death, and rebirth more apparent than here. It was hard, to be honest, to see the beautiful, verdant-green-and-vibrant-pink lotuses all yellowed and bent, their once-lush leaves curled, emaciated skeletons of themselves. Even amidst all of this, though, there is hope in the hunched-over stems. Every drooping pod carries its precious payload of lotus seeds, and, as they bend to kiss the surface of the water, they drop them into the mud. Next summer, the marsh will be alive again.

The air was strangely quiet. Strange, at least, if you're used to being there in summer when there's a chorus of birds and insects to greet you. Here, there was nothing but the wind rattling the dry leaves to cover the distant, oceanic roar of traffic. Since it was a Tuesday afternoon, there wasn't even the sound of conversation.

My significant other and I walked along in this relative stillness, marveling at the places capricious autumn's hand had painted orange and brown, right next to the places it had allowed to continue flourishing in brilliant emerald green. On trees who had completely shed their leaves, great green bursts of common greenshield lichen clung to them like brooches. With the leaves gone, there is more sunlight for these strange, not-quite-plant things, and their broad bodies spread and grow across the cracked gray bark.

And then I saw a bald cypress, and lost. my. shit.

I love cypress trees. I really, really do. I've had a weird fascination with them ever since I read about cypress knees -- those weird, wonderful, mysterious things that are the bane of lost travelers and lawnmowers alike. I know they're just roots, and there are parts of the south where they're more "annoyance" than "mystery," but I love them.

"HOLD UP," I shouted excited to my significant other, who was standing about six inches from me, "KNEES!"

"Wh--," was about all he managed to get out before I was on the ground, scrabbling around in dropped cypress needles for a good angle.

They were tiny knees, but knees nonetheless. Maybe some day they'll be large enough to terrify lost travelers in the dark with, but I doubt it (the marsh closes at sunset, anyhow, which drastically cuts down on the number of wayward wanderers). Now I have my own cypress knees -- the knees of my jeans, stained green with moss and smelling strongly of crushed cypress needles. I felt a bit silly afterward (what grown woman walks around with grass-stained pants?), but I found a small cypress tree to be my friend so I don't really care that much.

How has your autumn been treating you?

Monday, December 4, 2017

Fancy Things for Discerning Moon-Gazers

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Sometimes, I window-shop and plan how my significant other and I might order our lives once we leave here. We both love our apartment, but our lives are quickly outgrowing the space we're in.

I know I'd like to have even more plants than we do already -- great green fountains of ferns, trees small enough to live beside, more prickly cacti and plump-leafed succulents. I've mentioned before how I like living in places that bring the outdoors in, and one of the ways I'm fond of doing so is by having the moon and stars around me. If you're an avid moon-gazer too, you might like some of these tiny ways to keep a little lunar influence around you.
“We are going to the moon that is not very far. Man has so much farther to go within himself.”
― Ana├»s Nin

LUNAR BLOSSOM embroidery kit - embroidery hoop art, phases of the moon, luna, lunar cycle, sashiko style, night sky, celestial, moon phase

This Lunar Blossom Embroidery Kit ($24.00) from cozyblue is a great gift for either yourself, or the crafter in your life. I love the simplicity of the hand-illustrated design -- it evokes sigils and constellations, moon phases and flowers, all while using relatively few lines and stitches.

I used to enjoy embroidery a lot when I had more time for it. I wasn't sure when I'd ever pick it up again, but I think this kit may have sold me on it -- and I'm planning on getting it to hang onto for a slow day. I think I might splurge and try out the Midnight Flight kit ($24.00) too, while I'm at it. I love the colors!








Bath Bomb MOON MAGICK Scented in cedar, woods, citrus, musk Magic Ritual Witch Horror Goth Gothic 5oz Bath Fizzy Bombs Lunar New Full Moon

If your idea of a relaxing afternoon tends to lean more towards "spa day" than "crafting," that's cool too! These moon magick bath bombs ($6.00) by ThePotionCabinet are richly scented with cedar, woods, citrus, and musk. They smell just like a ritual under a canopy of moonlit trees.

They're full of ingredients that are great for your skin, too -- Epsom salt, shea butter, olive oil, coconut oil, sea salt, and kaolin. Fun fact: If you have chlorinated tap water, the citric acid in bath bombs is a natural way to help remove or reduce it.

No bathtub? No problem! These Full Moon aromatherapy shower steamers ($8.00) from thecosmiccompany have you covered.














Moon round skirt

I've been seriously lusting after this Moon round skirt ($104.69) from Elanthia. Made of silk, it closes with ties at the waist that allow it to fit a wide variety of sizes. Even if you fall outside of the average, Elanthia is willing to custom-make a skirt in your size.

Prefer a longer, straighter skirt? They also have an ankle-length design available, printed with a vertical moons ($83.75).
















Sister of The Moon Dress/ Dipped Dyed Crescent Moon Dress - Made to Order

If you're more of a dress person than a skirt person, check out this gorgeous dip-dyed Sister of the Moon dress from ThreadyJenny.

It's entirely made to order, from the construction to the hand-dying and printing with the creator's original artwork. It's a comfortable, roomy design that's as perfect for relaxing as it is for dancing around a fire under the moon.







Moon Earrings / Healing Crystal / Clear Quartz / Dangle Earring / Silver Earrings / Daniellerosebean / Drop Earrings / Raw Crystal Earrings

These moon earrings ($72.00) by daniellerosebean are completely my jam. They've got everything -- silver crescent moons, hand-wrapped rough crystals, and a full 3" drop.












Moon Hoop Earrings ~ Crescent Moon Phase Jewelry ~ Silver Earrings Gauges ~ Tribal Fusion Belly Dance ~ Witchy Occult Jewelry ~ Wiccan

If you prefer earrings with a little less swing, these moon hoop earrings ($46.00) from Talismana Designs are a beautiful choice. They have a versatile width that allows them to be worn in regular pierced ears, or layered with tunnels or hoops in gauged ears.











LAVENDER MOON** Lavender, Sandalwood & Vanilla ** roll on perfume~witchy~broomstick magic~ritual

I love handmade perfumes, and this Lavender Moon perfume ($7.00) from Crimson and Conjure is no exception. A blend of lavender, vanilla, and sandalwood, it's the perfect blend of ethereal sweetness and deep earthiness.














"She is changeable, like the moon... And, like the moon, her mind is full of gaps and craters."
― K. Hitchens

Here's hoping you had a good Supermoon. It's the last one of 2017 -- I'm looking forward to a great winter ahead.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Double, Double, Toil and-- Oh crap, hang on.

I saw an Instagram post the other day that caught my atttention. I don't recall the wording exactly, but it was about a new witch's tendency to try to perform spells "by the book" (or printout, or phone screen...) out of a fear of somehow messing things up. I remember when I was younger, wrestling to hold my hands appropriately, keep my books propped open, and not knock anything into the incense ember or candle flame while I did it!

Today, I am what many would consider a bad witch. I don't write things down nearly as often as I should -- when I do, they're in disjointed scribbles that even I have a hard time deciphering later. All this is to say, I understand the desire to do things "correctly," and it is only after a person has gained confidence that they can begin to loosen up and let things flow.

So, I want to talk about tools.

While magick doesn't necessarily require tools, there's something very satisfying about having beautiful physical representations of the different aspects of your practice. Many witches choose to consecrate these tools and dedicate them to a specific purpose, but that's pretty optional itself.

At its heart, all consecration is is a blessing a dedication of an object for sacred use. I've usually seen it viewed as the middle of the "three Cs" -- cleansing, consecrating, and charging. After an object is cleansed, it can be consecrated for a purpose, then charged with energy that suits that purpose. Sometimes, cleansing and charging are rolled into one action, like allowing a crystal to sit in the light of the sun or full moon to remove old energy and fill it with new, and consecration is skipped entirely.

Me? I like to consecrate some tools (stones, bowls, bells, and the like) while I often skip consecrating others (herbs, spoons, pots, and jars).

Consecration can be as simple or as complicated as you like. It's one of those situations where the meaning and intent outweigh the process itself. For a simple version, you can:

  1. Hold the tool in your hands.

  2. Envision energy in the form of colored light streaming down your arms, into your hands, and filling or surrounding the object.

  3. Say, "I bless and consecrate this tool." If you follow a deity, you can add, "In the name of (your deity)."


If you wish, you can expose it to the four elements by sprinkling it with soil or salt, sprinkling it with water, wafting it through incense smoke, and passing it through a candle's flame. This, naturally, depends on the durability of the tool -- there are a great many that won't like getting wet or passing through fire very much!

Some witches prefer a full ritual, involving lighting candles, casting a circle, calling the quarters, and everything. I generally only use circles on specific occasions, so I favor simplicity in most everything else I do.

[caption id="attachment_3871" align="aligncenter" width="513"] Natural running water is great for cleansing water-safe tools, as is burying them in the earth for a moon cycle. Placing them in the sun cleanses and charges.[/caption]

At its heart, consecration is about attunement. Attuning a tool to the purpose for which is will be used is, for many, an important step in separating the magickal from the mundane -- creating the separation between ritual and everyday life that makes magick possible. That said, this isn't the only attunement that matters. Though getting rid of old, stagnant energy is part of cleansing, every tool has an energy of its own. This is why it's best to choose your tools in person -- you can pick up one crystal or herb and feel nothing, and pick up another and feel it practically effervescing. In my practice, part of consecration is allowing you and the tool to tune yourselves into each other. To that end, there are a couple of simple things you can do to achieve the same goal, even if you don't wish to do a full consecration ritual:

  1. Meditate with the tool in your hand.

  2. Practice energy play, using the tool as a focus.

  3. Sleep with the tool beside you or under your pillow.

  4. Carry the tool with you for several days, in a pocket or purse.


These steps are distinct from cleansing or charging, since they don't involve removing old energy or programming a magickal tool. They're uncomplicated ways to attune a tool to you, and allow yourself to become acquainted with what you'll be working with. At the end of them, you may find that your tool doesn't suit you at all -- that's a good thing! It means you can pass it along to a new home instead of trying to force an energetic relationship that may only end in frustration.

Do you use tools in your practice? How simple or elaborate do you prefer consecration to be?