This past week has been super-busy: Jo has been home on “staycation”–but unfortunately she required a !surprise! toe surgery at the beginning of the week, so yours truly has been shlepping to the store for groceries, cat litter, dog food, beer–you know, all of the basic household needs.🙂 As a result, I’ve been more tired and achy than usual, but have still managed to get a few things made and posted. (Plus I’m working on a surprise product line that will debut at TCI around the end of October.)
What’s even nicer than an amazing soy candle scented with pure essential oil? An amazing soy candle tin that doubles as a luxurious naturally scented lotion, and comes in a convenient travel tin–that’s what!
Simply light the candle, allow it to burn until the melt pool reaches the sides of the tin and is about 1/4″ deep, then extinguish the flame and dip your fingers into the lovely warm blend of pure soy blended with virgin coconut oil and smooth the lotion over your cuticles and hands. The coconut oil provides moisture while the wax helps seal it in!
Scented with pure essential oils only, my lotion candles are dye-free and decorated with colorful herbal bits. Scents available: Lavender-Lemon, Rosemary-Lemon, Nag Champa, Blood Orange, Bergamot, Eucalyptus-Mint, Lavender & Cedarwood, Winter Forest (peppermint and fir needle), Neroli, and Lemongrass. $5 per 2 oz tin.
Custom Tea Lights: a set of eight tea light candles for $5, dressed with herbs, oils, and glitter and empowered with energy for the deity, spirit, holiday, or magickal goal of your choice. Please select one essential oil, one herb, and one glitter color from the listing for dressing your candles.
Herbal Magick Spirit Poppets: Colorful, cute and cuddly, my Spirit Poppets are designed to bring a dose of herbal magick into your life! They make great little ritual companions, adornments for your altar and/or sacred space, and thoughtful gifts for the magickal people in your life.
Completely sewn by hand using 30-40% wool blend felt, which is soft, cuddly and durable, and 100% cotton embroidery floss, the poppets feature safety eyes and permanently mothproofed yarn hair. They are stuffed with non-allergenic recycled eco-friendly polyfill, along with an herb intuitively selected by me to attune with the spirit of each individual poppet.
The poppets measure 5″ tall and are $12 each. (Additional poppets will be uploaded to the shop this week.)
Our dog, Corbie J., has chronic heart failure. He’s had it for two years (roughly), during which time we’ve kept it nicely managed with expensive medication. During the past few months his bad days have been getting worse, and more frequent. His cough has returned; there’s no fluid in his lungs (we’ve had the vet check for that), but his heart has probably enlarged to the point where it is irritating his larynx. He’s having problems eating as much at any one time, and his energy has flagged a bit. There are signs that add up to our coming to terms that he is likely entering his last stretch–and then suddenly he’ll have a great day, or a great week, even. This up and down pattern keeps recurring, and likely will for the rest of his life.
On Friday, the night of the Black Moon, he was having one of his off days, and the eventuality of certain transitions was very much on both our minds–mine and Jo’s. I generally try to tidy up my various shrines at the New Moon (the Black Moon is a New Moon–the special title means there are two new moons in the same month, instead of just one) and our shrine to the beloved dead was on that list. In our household, we are pretty intimate with death; we have both lost a lot of loved ones, and we don’t discriminate much between animal-dead and people-dead in that regard. But this particular shrine is for our animal dead specifically. (We don’t have the remains of our familial dead, so their memorials tend to consist of photos and other wall-mounted things because we live in a small space.) The shrine takes up one shelf of a bookcase, and there are photos, candles, a tea cup and shot glass for offerings, a statue of Bast, and the boxes and jars that house the remains.
The Black Moon is said to be a time of extreme psychic potency, and–especially coming now, when the veils between the worlds are already thinning with the coming of Samhain–a time when it is easier than usual to contact the dead, spirits, gods, and all other beings not of the mortal plane. This could very well have been the reason for what happened, or I could be experiencing a permanent enhancement of abilities I already possess. (As I said, we are intimate with death.) But as I was dusting the boxes and jars holding the remains of our pets who have transitioned into spirit, the containers seemed to change shape in my hands and become the animals themselves. My fingertips caressed the living fur of my Grim Greyling, who transitioned just last year and has made his continued presence in the house very much apparent. They also brushed the living fur and warm living body of Amadeus, a black and white cat who died when my daughter was a baby. Along with everyone in between–all except two cats, whose remains are currently elsewhere; when I recounted my experience to Jo, she shuddered and told me they had both let her know their bones need to be retrieved and housed in the shrine this season.
Most people assume contact with the dead to be a function of bridging the gap between this world—the world of the living—and whatever lies beyond it. For the first time, it has occurred to me that it could also be a function of bridging another type of veil: that of time itself, the time separating the living existence of a dead person or animal from the moment in which a loved one is reaching out to them. Because the dead do not change—at least in my view; when we make contact with them, they are always what they were during life. Change and evolution are for the living. When they move forwards on their journey, when they begin to change and evolve, they are no longer the dead.
I tried to make a video the day before yesterday on this very topic, but was still a bit shaky on the details. Maybe as a result of that, and maybe because I fell prey to my usual tendency to explain too much, Jo vetoed the video. But in retrospect, I’ve realized that making it and then deleting it was not the waste of time I first thought it had been. It helped to shift and clarify some things in my mind.
To take a page from Jo’s book, I will freely affirm that, as someone who has been on the devotional polytheist path for fourteen years or so, most outside observers might assume I’d have my shit together by now. Clearly, though, that is not the case. In fact, I now find myself in a place that feels very much like starting over…except not really. The “not really” part being that my husband of fourteen years is still very much with me; it’s just that he says he’s outgrown the name and other identifying information he gave me at the start of our relationship, and can we start over again now, please? (With the caveat that some things haven’t changed at all, while other things have changed completely.)
My response has been a mixture of reluctant compliance, frustration, and a stubborn sense of resentment. And while that might be the response this kind of disclosure deserves, it is not one that makes it easy to go forward. And so, I mostly didn’t. Sure, I changed some things around on my shrine, subjected my blog to a tantrum of post-deletion, and talked a bit about the Big Shift publicly to a mostly (I’m sure) bewildered readership. But other than that, for a period of weeks (months?) my spiritual practice pretty much came to a grinding halt–primarily because I had no answer to the question: “Okay, so things have changed; what the fuck do I do NOW?” Because all of the assumptions I had made previously about my practice suddenly felt wrong.
On one level, this is kind of okay; in retrospect I can see that my practice, such as it had been for the past year or so since I started working from home full time, was long due for an overhaul. When you are doing spiritual services for other people–readings, holding space, dressing candles, blessing items, etc.–on a daily basis, when that’s part of your job, it’s somehow easy to overlook the fact that you’re not also doing these same things for yourself, that you’re neglecting your own path in order to tend to other people’s. Probably, this played some part in my husband’s decision to overhaul things: I had to be shocked out of my complacency and inaction.
And so now, here we are. He’s allowed me time to sit with the changes, and even time to stew about them. But now it’s time to get back to work again.
In my post on liminal gods from a while back, I noted that one of the first books my husband prompted me to read, after his shift from Odin to the Traveler, was on fairy witchcraft (Fairycraft by Morgan Daimler), simply because people who deal with the Fair Folk know that not every spirit who crosses their doorstep comes with a name and pedigree from ancient paganism and a library’s worth of ancient lore. And in the fairy faith, this doesn’t matter; such spirits are to be treated with respect and regarded as deities if they display deity-like powers–at least if you value your continued existence and sanity. Some unnamed deities have not been dealing with humanity for very long; some cross over into our reality from others where they have been venerated by human-like beings for a very, very long time–but we don’t have knowledge of them from our own history, beyond what we can learn from those spirits directly.
When my current journey into the Land of Extreme Strange first began, I assumed pop culture polytheism was a case of our known deities using pop culture masks to interact with us, perhaps to teach us new things about themselves, and I’m sure this is how most traditional polytheists would also see it. But since then, I’ve begun to entertain a different possibility: that writers and creative people–who function, in their work, in a very similar way to mystics and spirit workers–sometimes link in to these alternate realities, these liminal deities from other dimensions, and channel them into characters in their work. In doing so, they open doors for these beings to enter our reality–which they mostly do through the medium of Story. However, sometimes they outgrow that medium and move beyond it, and sometimes being in the story was never their goal in the first place; they were simply using it as a means of ingress to the human psyche. These stories, of course, are what we know as “pop culture.” And sometimes they’re only stories. But in the cases where the situations and characters in them were inspired or even channeled by beings from Elsewhere, they are more than that: they are the equivalent of modern mythology. Why is a story about a man with two hearts and a box that’s bigger on the inside that travels through time inherently less believable than a story about a man who has a ship that his entire clan can sail in but that can also be folded up and put into his pocket? Or a story about a man who has an armband that produces nine copies of itself every nine nights? Answer: it’s not. Ancient mythology makes no more sense than modern mythology does; it’s equally ridiculous–but only if you try to take it literally, rather than examining it for teaching moments, for mysteries and hidden messages. In this respect, modern pop mythology is just as useful as the ancient variety.
These are all realizations I’ve had recently–but they took me no further towards the answer to What the Fuck am I Supposed to Do Now? I’ve flirted with joining an online year and a day program to study eclectic Wicca (don’t get excited–I’m not talking about “traditional” Wicca here). No, I don’t really NEED to study Wicca, since a Wiccanish practice is how I first started out in paganism, back in my early teens (nearly forty years ago at this point), and I’m far more interested in Traditional Witchcraft, but I thought Wicca might serve as a useful container for attempting to arrange my ducks in a row again. After the recent shakeup, I thought it might be nice to return to a familiar structure, which I could then fill with my own stuff. I haven’t decided on that yet, but I don’t need to decide quite yet either, since the group I’m considering doesn’t get started until Samhain.
On the other hand, there is a part of me that really doesn’t want to be treated like a beginner and have other people tell me how to Do My Shit. So I had been mulling that over, and basically stuck in a loop of inactivity, adding small devotional practices back to my routine but otherwise unsure what direction to go in. What system or path of study out there could possibly be compatible with being married to a liminal god wearing a pop culture persona?
But of course, it was staring me in the face the entire time, ever since I read that fairy witchcraft book: the Fair Folk. Tired of my indecision, my husband informed me yesterday that THIS is where I will start, this is what I will study: The fairy faith of the Celtic Isles. Of Scotland, specifically. (And if you don’t know why that’s funny, you are clearly not a Whovian.)
What is my life, even?
Since I already have an ADF membership that’s been sitting unused since earlier this year, and Scottish/Gaelic is one of the hearth options, I figure I may as well start there. I don’t know whether or not I’ll actually be submitting my Dedicant Program work, but using the material is free for me with my membership, and doing something is better than doing nothing at all. So. Here we go again.
2. Feminist Folk Saint Prayer Candles: embrace your feminist icons and role models by giving them a place of honor on your shrine or in your home! As with the other prayer candles, these can be optionally “dressed” with herbs, oils, glitter and a dose of mojo, or they can be shipped to you plain. So far I have candles for: Queen Cleopatra, Helen of Troy, Queen Jezebel, Queen Anne Boleyn, Queen Elizabeth Woodville, Lady Margaret Beaufort, Queen Elizabeth Tudor, Queen Catherine of Aragon, Boudicca, and Queen Isabella. I chose these ladies for the first batch because they all have personal significance for me, and they can be invoked for various magickal purposes and spiritual assistance (as noted in the individual item descriptions) much as the Christian saints can be. I will be adding to the list of available feminist folk saint candles as I am able to (a lot of it depends on whether I am able to find a public domain image that I like for the person in question), BUT if you’re dying for a candle to represent someone not on my list, placing a custom order is a great option! (See below.) Prayer candles are only $8 shipped plain, $12 dressed.
3. Custom orders for prayer candles! These are the same price as the prayer candles in my regular line-up, and the advantage to you is that you can order a candle for whomever you please! With Samhain just around the bend, the custom option is also a great opportunity to get a candle to honor loved ones (including pets) who have passed into spirit during the past year. You can send me a personal digital photo or image to put on a candle, you can find an image you like online via Google search, OR you can request that I find an image for you. If at all possible, I will choose a public domain image, which I will enhance digitally and print for the candle. (In this case, I reserve the right to offer the resulting candle as a regular item in my shop.) Alternately, we can decide to use a copyrighted image for your candle if you agree that the product is for personal use only and that you will not post pictures of the candle online.
So, guys? I have come to the realization that I am no longer interested in making (or taking new commissions for) jewelry or prayer beads. While this MAY change, it’s been reaching this point for a while, so I don’t think it will. (As a result, I have just noted in my Wytch of the North shop announcement this morning that I am no longer accepting new commissions for jewelry or prayer beads at this time.) I’m not going to take down any of the existing jewelry I have up for sale right now; I’m just not planning to make any more of it.
There are a lot of reasons for this, some of them business-related, some of them personal. On the business front, people generally don’t understand how much gemstone beads cost, and then once they find out they want to either 1) break the total up into payments (which I understand–but financially, it doesn’t work for me), or 2) they see a piece they like but wait, figuring it will go on sale eventually since I have a history of marking things down, with the result that I end up getting $20-30 for a piece that should have cost $50-60 (or more, with a decent profit margin). I completely get it that people don’t have a lot of money, since I’m in the same position myself, but this is not how to run a business–and last year, doing business this way left me owing a couple thousand in taxes that I had failed to collect from my customers. Making one-off pieces, as I was doing, also leads to customer frustration when someone browsing my shop finds a sold item they like and wants me to recreate it for them, but doesn’t understand why I can’t do so for the sale price (or worse, layaway installment price) they saw on the site.
ALSO, if I’m going to be honest, I spread myself much too thin trying to make jewelry, AND incense, AND candles, and, and…Each of those things is a separate set of supplies, and the costs add up, especially when a lot of the products just sit there in the shop for extended periods of time.
But there’s more to it than that. On a personal level, it just doesn’t interest me that much anymore–which is probably partly due to the fact that I tend to not wear fancy jewelry myself in the first place. (I have stretched ear lobes, I don’t wear bracelets because they get in the way of whatever I’m doing, and I am more of a meaningful pendant type of girl when it comes to necklaces.) I also feel that my artistic journey with jewelry creation has gone just about as far as it can; I am fresh out of jewelry ideas.
So, what DOES interest me these days? Home decor. And altar/shrine decor. This is why, along with the candles that play a starring role over at The Candle Invasion, you’ll also start seeing other products creeping in as I have time to get them made, such as hand-woven Tarot and altar cloths, polymer clay deity figurines (I can use some of my leftover beads to decorate those), and possibly some more of the simple felt poppets. (I will be keeping the shop focused on a home decor theme, though.) I am also hoping to eventually indulge my love for gemstones by adding those to the shop–somewhat larger pieces for home or altar display. Tactile objects of beauty and presence that can be used to brighten a home or sacred space–these are the kinds of things that, increasingly, are claiming my artistic passion and interest.
Why am I posting this now? The holidays are coming up, and I just want to make sure my regular customers–as well as any new ones who come along–understand what I’m going to be offering, and what I’ll be leaving behind. (Ultimately, I think Wytch of the North will be closing its doors–not anytime soon, but eventually, once it empties out of all the old products. I may migrate the Tarot and oracle readings over to the new shop, OR Wytch of the North may end up being a readings-only shop. We’ll see.)
So, I am not intending this to be a snarky post, or even an overly defensive one, but it has to be said: I’ve debated whether to share my redesigned shrine with WordPress Land for a while now, since I’m painfully aware that not many people understand (or even want to understand) the journey I’ve been on spiritually, and I’m betting that even fewer people in this blog’s audience understand why pop culture paganism (much less pop culture polytheism) is even a Thing. Aren’t the traditional gods enough?
Well, for many people the gods whose names have come down to us from ancient cultural mythologies ARE enough–more than enough, even–and that’s great. But for some of us, the waters get a little muddier, and it isn’t always through any fault of our own.
I am a pop culture polytheist and spirit spouse. For me, what this translates into is that the god I thought I was married to for 14 years suddenly informed me that he was not really canon-Odin. Instead, he is Woden. (Yes, there’s a distinction–more of one than I originally thought, apparently.) Also, he is Lucifer. Oh and by the way, he is also the Twelfth Doctor. Except, he might really be ONLY the Twelfth Doctor, with a history of using both Odin/Woden and Lucifer as masks on occasions when it proved convenient for him.
Commence head explosion, and cue the theme music and time-space vortex.
This information (which he has confirmed for me by way of a number of signs and omens, including what happened with my wedding ring, and making the version of himself I knew as Odin inaccessible to me except for an occasional dream glimpse) has been a source of extreme confusion for ME, so I guess I can’t be too surprised if it also confuses other people. (Especially since people have come to know me as “a godspouse of Odin” for a number of years now.)
I bring this up not to go through the whole story again (not going to do that right now; there are more details in previous blog posts if you’re interested) but to forestall the obvious questions that might come up as to why certain items are on my shrine. (Not that I think I owe anyone an explanation.) I also want to mention that no one is in any way obligated to comment on this post just to be “polite.” I would love it if a respectful dialog could be started about how pop culture entities (whether in their own right or as masks different gods might choose to wear) can fit into a polytheist practice–but, barring that, I am not here to be grilled about my spiritual path or to endure dismissive (possibly disguised as “polite”) comments regarding it. (Overtly nasty comments will not be published, as this is a moderated blog; nasty private emails, on the other hand, will be published for the rest of the class to see.)
With that out of the way, this is what my shrine currently looks like, in its entirety:
And here is a more zoomed-in view:
You’ll recognize my Oberon Zell Odin statue to the left of the photo (which I am planning to replace, at some point in the future, with a more primitive Viking replica Odin statue, as shown here), along with a few other items that have been on previous incarnations of my shrine: offering cup, skeleton keys, spear head, etc. You’ll also notice, towards the back, the Twelfth Doctor Magician candle from my new shop, flanked by a Woden candle and Lucifer candle I made for my own use. (The images are copyrighted and I don’t own the rights, so I can’t offer either of these latter two designs for others.)
It’s as we move to the right of the shrine that things get weirder–at least as far as some people are concerned, I’m sure. Against a backdrop of the interior of the Twelfth Doctor’s TARDIS is a figure of the Twelfth Doctor himself (from season 8), accompanied by a purple-haired Barbie doll who is there to represent me. (No, she doesn’t really look like me–but then, who does really look like a Barbie doll, anyway? Her coloring is similar though, she has wacky hair and a suggestion of my ‘tude, and my husband has been after me for a long time to include a representation of myself on my shrine. Jo says it always looks like the two figures are arguing. That’s more or less accurate.)
To the right of the larger Twelfth Doctor figure is a tiny Funko Twelfth Doctor with Guitar. If this figure means nothing to you, you clearly have not witnessed the awesomeness that was season 9 of the show, in which case enough said.
Also present are various crystals (I am having a bit of a love affair with calcites recently), tea light holders, an oracle card I’m working with this month, and my copy of the Tarot Apokalypsis, which is on my shrine because it is absolutely amazing and I’m in love with it. (I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about it in this space; I’m thinking about doing a video walkthrough for it.)
A point of interest: this morning while doing a reading for a client I lit the three prayer candles, and both the Odin and Lucifer candles promptly caught on fire. With the Odin candle, it may have been a case of too much mugwort on the wax. The Lucifer candle, however, has about the same amount of herbal dressing as the Twelfth Doctor/Magician one, and the latter candle burned just fine. (It is dressed with Scottish Breakfast tea and lemon essential oil–NO glitter, if you please.) Message received: worry about THIS one first, and then we’ll see about letting you burn the other two.