Moving Soon!

My kinfolk, I have missed you!

I have been convalescing from the latest Lupus-ity-WTF (still waiting for a diagnosis, still playing medication roulette to find one that works).  I have been spending most of my days with Languishment upon the couch, knitting and watching videos, and sighing as I look out at my garden which is in a terrible state.  I’m going to be getting some help with tending the front garden this week.  The front garden is my “public face” garden filled with all the expected, proper English stuff, tended to a sterile nicety.  Of course in the back, my garden runs rampant with weeds and bramble, the majority of which I tend to gather from (although not this year, sadly, though I still have time to gather red raspberry leaf if I do so soon).  I am moving along, with various exciting things on the horizon although, for now, everything is on hold while I learn the new rhythm my life is taking.

Firstly, let me again sing the praises of Second Voice Flutes creator, David.  The care he has put into this work, I cannot even begin to thank him for: from choosing the wood to the key, to asking for scans of my hands to be sure the holes were put in the perfect position, to carving the block especially to my specifications: a blackbird was required, and thus was done. He even carved leaves into the block for the bird to sit upon.  I can’t even…

image

 

 This is my flute to greet the dead.  I will need a suitable bag to carry it in, as I will be taking it pretty much everywhere I go.  I may have to ask a few favours here and there from friends, but we will see how we go.

I have had several writing offers and projects on the go, writing book reviews and further writing for periodicals.  I have desperately wanted to do these things, but I have struggled for a while on how to do them when I have found sitting at my desktop too difficult.  However, I’ve found iWriter works amazingly well on my ipad, and I now have iCloud to store all my documents, as well as Google.  I am finding, to my great surprise, that I barely use my desktop at all now.  May come a time when I no longer use one at all.  Technology moves in strange ways. In any event, I will keep experimenting with iWriter, Dragon, and working from a Languishment couch, and hope I can return to my writing endeavours again.

A final piece de resistance to all these things is I have a new site which is pretty much ready to go, called Sindr-Works.  Please update all your bookmarks accordingly!  I am moving all my writing, blogging, shopping, and so on into this one place.  The site isn’t live yet, but I hope to make it so within the next week, aiming for Monday.  I was finding having my presence scattered all over the net to be too draining on my already limited energy, and therefore I am rolling everything together.  I will be putting finishing touches onto it on Monday and then work on it slowly over the next few months and over the summer as well. It will be a slow process, but results will be worth it!

In the meantime, I continue to sit on my Languishment couch and knit, I sleep as long as I feel I need to, eat well and clean, harvest just enough flowers to bring indoors to cheer me if the day is dreary, tend my cats and da Henz, and bide my time till I am more well again.  I feel driven to paint, and I am desperate to do so but I need to wait till my hands aren’t so swollen.  Hurry up and wait.

Keep an eye to the horizon, my kin!  The site will be up soon!

Giving Yew a Voice

I’m absolutely thrilled that David from Second Voice Flutes has shared some images with me on how my yew drone flute is progressing.  I have chosen Yew because it is the tree of the graveyard – there’s a yew tree in nearly every graveyard in England.  It is considered a tree of protection, and a symbol of death – even the fumes rising up from the decomposing needles of a yew tree can cause one to feel delusional and “off”.  It is not a tree to “trip ballz” for anyone silly enough out there to consider it, by the way: a gateway to the Deadlands isn’t something to try to be trippin’ on.  To be able to give a symbol of the crossover from life to death a voice is important for my Work, and between myself and David, we’ve figured out how to make a drone which will be specifically for psychopomp.

He has told me there are a few stress fractures appearing on the wood’s surface, but he’s done this process for years now, and is biding his time to see if it’s something which will affect the entire piece of wood, or something he can sheer off when he forms the flute itself.  How exciting is this?  VERY EXCITING INDEED!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A Crafty-witch world

imageWelcome to my world.  Oh, the horror….this is the Organised Space (unable to type that without laughing) I am currently sitting in. Piles of unfinished projects and divided rovings to be spun on the wheel, balls and balls and balls of yarn I’ve spun without really knowing why I was doing it other than I like spinning, and I enjoy putting fluffy, multicoloured bits of fluff into a twist to see what will happen when it’s done.  Some of it works really well (my favourite blend is merino/silk and I make the most amazing socks with the stuff).  Some of it doesn’t work at all – wool and flax together?  One needs to be worked dry, one needs to be worked wet, so who thought that combo up?!  orangeblushI’ve got colours I wouldn’t be caught dead knitting with (orange?  pink? orange AND pink?!  ew!).  I have half-finished projects strewn everywhere: and a friend of mine has just introduced me to the site Ravelry (oh my days, I didn’t know it existed till now.  My addiction is enabled).  I have weaving cards, weaving looms, silk threads, corset stays, and two machines I haven’t even managed to use yet.  Piles and piles and PILES of finishing and findings for jewellery and prayer beads.    I’ve got so much stuff piled up in one side of my room I have to regularly take it down and dust it so my allergies don’t go into overdrive.  There’s always something on the go, but I’ve had very little luck selling any of it, especially with Etsy slowly being taken over by wholesalers in China. :/  Business this year hasn’t been great as a result, and I’m probably going to lose my tax credits in January as a result.

I’ve been worried and frantic – part of the reason I’ve been doing precious little but knitting and spinning is an episode of taking my son out for a walk in a park (yanno, like “normal” people do) made my back flare so badly I had to call paramedics last week.  True to form, the A&E consultants scratched their heads and sighed when the words “chronic illness” came up, and after a dose of meds I knew were going to wear off in a few hours’ time was administered (and no further meds given – docs are more worried about people potentially being addicts than about treating chronic pain), I was back home, propped on the Languishment Couch and knowing it would take at least a week of recovery.  The garden weeds are almost taller than the plants out in my front garden, but I’ve been inside, knitting, writing, reading, reviewing, spinning and planning.  Some projects are actually getting finished after months of being in “WIP Limbo”.

shawlI’ve finished a pair of socks, started another and spun wool to finish the lot.  A shawl I started well over a year ago now just needs the edgework done, and a bit of washing.  Skirts have been sewn, nightgowns made of linen have been pressed, and armwarmers are all finished and used on a regular basis, in various colours so I can accessorise as and when.  I have two hand-spinning drop spindles for special Work when I need it (I’ve had it in mind to spin some May-Day yarn for my garden-work, and other Work for the month).  I’ve not touched my paints this year as sitting at a desk has proven too painful, and I miss painting and drawing very much indeed, but I am finding other ways to be creative, other ways to bring a bit of artistic spark to work.

For me, that’s what it’s all about.  It would be nice if it made more money than it does currently – and I am branching into other avenues so I can keep a bit of income going, but I know I’m never going to make my millions spinning wool.  I sit on my couch, and I spin, or I knit, or I write reviews on my iPad because sitting at my desktop is proving to be beyond me for longer than ten-minute stretches (and let me just singing the praises of iWriter – praise, praise, praise!).  This is because creating is what I do – it’s a part of my very fibre of being; I have gone from welding to storytelling to silver-smithing to soapmaking to drawing and painting to fibre-craft with a bit of hard study.  To me this seems a second-nature sort of thing, to just take creativity from one medium to the next.  It is isn’t until I talk to other crafters and creators that I realise just how WEIRD this ability is.  I’m not great at anything – I don’t devote enough time or effort to really master any one thing, as there’s always something else clamouring for my time or attention.

briarrosealmostIn between writing reviews, making prayer beads, and spinning wool, in between planning for the flute which will be coming soon, adding a new facet to my Work, in between a thousand and one possibilities and things I need to shelve until I can figure out how to do them (painting on hold…my gods, how I miss painting…), I realise how blessed I am, to be able to jump from one thing to the next, to the next, to the next, depending on my fancy and interest.  True, I also seem to lose skills alarmingly quickly if I haven’t done it for a while (I couldn’t even remember how to thread my card-weaving loom recently.  After two weeks’ recovery, I forgot how I start my prayer beads.  Yes, really).  Sometimes it’s all a bit alarming and I am pulled this way and that, with deadlines looming, and some which sail right by before I even know they’ve been.  But I still create.  I am still able to make.  I am Sindr, the spark.  And I’ve been gifted with this ability to pretty much pick up whatever I want to and find a way to make it work.  That is no small gift.

I’ve been panicking a bit lately, trying to figure out what I’ll do when the safety net is cut loose in a few months’ time.  I’ll have less money to work with, but looking at my crammed-to-the-brim crafting shelves, I’m sure I’ll think of something.

And now I must spin.

 

Embracing a Calling: Death Midwifery

Sindr:

Another Greeter of the Dead. This is important work, and I am happy to support others seeking this pathway.

Originally posted on Foxglove & Firmitas:

In my early 20s, I received that profound moment that others describe where they receive their calling towards ministry – The calling where you find yourself suddenly at complete peace and going “Yes, I can do this. I can help people with their spiritual lives.” I had originally planned to become an Unitarian Universalist minister, but truth be told the thought of being in school for another 8 years of my life and going into extreme life-long debt only to be saddled down with society politics (because I’ve seen congregations explode in my time and out a minister at the turn of a hat) seemed to kind of a dead end to me.

Then I was told to go into agriculture. This is still on my list of things to do. The problem is that we’ve discovered that I am photosensitive. I have many of the symptoms of lupus, but…

View original 861 more words

Piping for the Dead

Last year I wrote a post about Second Voice Flutes, a very gifted flute maker in the UK who crafts flutes in a style similar to flutes played by various Native tribes in the UK.  I know people might have an issue with a white Brit making said flutes, but there are flute makers and there are Flute Makers.  This person’s work is definitely in the latter category.  He was taught by natives and he takes the work very seriously; I haven’t seen this kind of attention to details and craftsmanship in a very long time, and I admire it.  I had been looking for a flute to play for vigils and various practice in honouring the dead, and I didn’t want just any old flute with no soul.  I bought a practice flute to work on getting my skills back with, but it’s a toneless bit of tat made just to cash in on the idea of an exotic spirituality, and it isn’t really enjoyable to play ( flute makers and Flute Makers).

I decided it was time to get a proper piece to work with, which is designed specifically for playing for the Dead.  Not for fun or for practice, it will have its own place in my work.  But I intend it not to sit in a shrine, unused – I am going to take it with me everywhere I go, to play when required:  on Salisbury Plains, graveyards, on corpse roads, in Potters Greens, at roadside shrines and in forgotten spaces where I feel the dead beneath my feet, forgotten for centuries beneath cobbles and stones.  The Maker at Second Voice and I are designing the flute together, Andre is suggesting things out of knowledge of his craft and also due to having a wife who works at a end of life hospice for children. I am blessed to find someone so gifted, and even though the flue is going to take time, I can wait.

Meanwhile, I do my spring work, albeit rather slowly.  Easter break means my son is home and care time has changed rapidly, so I haven’t had as much time as I would like to get things done. I am behind in everything; weeding and tending the dandelion for harvesting later hasn’t been started, I haven’t brewed the spring beer yet, no raspberry or blackberry buds were harvested at all, but I think I can still get quite a few leaves sorted while the sun is high and we are having good weather.  The hens lay wonderful eggs daily and I have plenty to eat, and I am redoing my kitchen a bit as my mobility us changing a bit and I need to make adjustments.   But on the whole things are well, and I am blessed. I am going to offer strawberries and bright, spun wool to my trees and garden for my Powers That Be, and put out some kidney and liver for the huge raven which has taken up residence in the wood outside my house.

 

 

How Not to Greet the Dead

ancestoraltardayExcuse me while I froth a bit.  File this under “rant” but it’s been irking me for some time.

We are a bit behind the times here in the UK.  Telly from five years ago takes a while to get cross the pond for some reason, and the “My Ghost Story” show I think aired its third season last year.  I watched each season, but for reasons which are probably contrary to most viewers.  I imagine quite a few people may be convinced by the mouse which bounced along in the hallway (but which somehow became an “apparition”) or may have been convinced by the voice on tape which sounded almost exactly like the voice of the woman who had just spoken a few moments before.  Every ghost or inexplicable thing was a demon (which again I guess is no surprise in the bible- belt; pretty much anything is either an angel or demon, with no area in between).  I could just about deal with all that, even if I rolled my eyes in several places.

I was watching the show with a growing sense of frustration; not because I wanted proof of the afterlife, but because the language people were using incensed me.  There was a lot of the phrase “experience” being bandied about.  It set off the same warning bell in my head I often got when people in the kink community used the term “explore”.  “I want to explore my boundaries”, “I want to explore this method of kink…”  Basically, to “explore” tends to mean “I want you to provide me with he means of my living out my fantasy, and your own needs aren’t really all that important.”  To “explore” is a nice way of saying “exploit”.  That sort of “gimme” mentality is why I ultimately got bored of kink; I am neither interested in climbing the sexual version of the Himalayas for a thrill, nor am I particularly keen on doing so solely for the other person’s benefit merely because they had a itch and felt as if I was the one who should do the scratching.

Back to the show; people called their visits “an experience”.  But it was laden with the same kind of sense of entitlement.  Every time the people on the program walked into a haunted house, laden with equipment and saying they were looking for an “experience”, I heard “I am looking for a thrill, and I want these spirits to perform for me in order to get one”. They had paid their admission money, and they expected to be entertained.

The lack of respect put my teeth on edge: impatient people tramping around in haunted spaces, literally demanding the spirits, ghosts, or whatever was around should perform and give a show.  “I’m getting bored now, so do something!” one rather irritating individual called into the dark spaces.  I quite honestly felt zero sympathy when said person was raked across the back by an alleged spirit.  They only got what they damn well deserved.

Wave after wave of people went into one location; owners of property seem to have found an extra way to line their pockets by allowing disrespectful jerks into houses to demand spirits perform on cue: lights on, lights off, open doors, close doors, do this, do that.  I kept waiting for someone to do something sensible- like offer to help the spirits depart and move on.  I kept waiting for someone to show the child calling for its mum the way to go on from this world to the next, but out of three seasons only one person bothered to do so.  Only one.  I was staggered, and I was furious.

The dead are not performing poodles who remain in locations for our entertainment, or even to pad out our income.  It sickens me.  I was absolutely seething by the end of the show, and found myself swearing once again, in no uncertain terms, to continue my own work in Greeting the Dead.  I would rather a thousand houses without a shred of mysterious noises and glowing orbs than see any souls on my patch being asked to move a ball.  And with the sheer amount of whispered “get out” messages on recordings (if they weren’t entirely faked), I suspect the spirits are pretty fed up as well.

One of the lessons which I do not feel is anywhere near covers enough in pagan practice is the art of greeting the dead.  Psychopomp is important, perhaps now more than ever:  it seems getting one’s deceased aunt to flick on a handheld torch ad nauseum can bring in a bit of income, but what does the spirit get out of it?  Perhaps there are spirits who are happy with the arrangement, but I sincerely doubt they all are, and the vast majority of people merely seems to happy to seek their “experience” and then go home without a twinge of empathy or a sense of “perhaps I should do something to help”.

Western culture lacks what I call “afterlife hygiene”. There are quite a few reasons for that, and sorry to say a fair portion of the reasons are due to the predominantly Christian belief system of Western culture, especially during the 18-19th century.  It surely cannot escape viewers to notice almost all of the stories of things which go bump in the night were believed to be Caucasian people from the 1800s.  However, America has been settled for a lot longer than when the first settlers from Europe, yet there’s precious few Native ghosts ever seen in these areas.   Native peoples were and are very spiritual folk, and each tribe has its own way with dealing wi spirits of the dead.  Some tribes revere their ancestors and welcome them readily for advice, others would cut their hair and never speak the names of the dead ever again.  They all have their different way of dealing with death, but the traditions have existed for thousands of years, and death is an accepted thing.

When the religious factions of modern Christianity settled in, Christianity itself took on some rather dramatic shifts, due to the Puritans and other various offshoots of same; wakes and laying out the dead in the home was often common – it was a way to familiarise everyone with death and to allow family members to grieve and bid their farewells with the dead present in the room.  This seems appallingly creepy to us today, as we have distanced ourselves so far from death we rarely see it close up: our meat is packaged in white styrofoam in supermarkets, our cemetaries are at the edge of town, with funerals held in buildings we never visit except when we must hold these sterile ceremonies.   The rite and rituals of death closer to home (even within a home) was eventually phased out as the Church enforced the view that the only comfort either the dead or their families needed was knowing the dead were in heaven.  Funerals were rudimentary, and the dead were supposed to be forgotten as “gone”.  Mourning was unfashionable and even frowned upon.  The whole afterlife hygiene changed within a very short period of time, and in many ways it jarred entirely with the wishes of both the deceased and the families themselves.  This makes for unsettled spirits, and as people were forbidden to even consider the possibility that any spirit could remain behind, spirits became angels, or demons, either praised or rebuked by turns.  Of course the Victorian era had its own version of paranormal exploiters, and the Spiritualism movement was both trying to address the gaping hole the austere doctrine of the time was demanding, but also lined the pockets of charlatans and provided a cheap thrill to the incredibly repressed.

This could have almost been considered a tentative return to at least trying to acknowledge the dead, but it was often done by people who had no experience with spirits.  I see the exact same thing happen on these shows: people who supposedly have done “investigations” regularly but who absolutely freak out and run out of a house sobbing when a spirit actually shows up.  There’s also the rather alarming trend of people assuming if they do run across a spirit in a house, that it must be the former owner of said house.  It never occurs to anyone a spirit might not be who or what they say they are.  Just because a spirit says a name into a recorder doesn’t mean it really IS that spirit.  Sometimes, spirits like to have “experiences” too, and if that means screwing around with self-entitled humans, then game on.  Sometimes, spirits lie.  Sometime, what a person is talking to was never, ever human, and putting a bunch of paranormal tourists into a place to talk with those sorts of things makes me cringe.  And sometimes, Spirits have been forgotten so long, and are so angry, they warp a bit into something else entirely…something nasty.

In the pagan community, I feel we really need to encourage a bit more sense when it comes to Greeting the Dead.  We need to show a hell of a lot more respect, we need to get familiar with the territory, and we need to open the discussions about how to tend for our kin who pass beyond, and honour their wishes.  I have felt as if there has been a “backlog” of dead spirits for decades, due to poor afterlife hygiene – it’s almost like the Over-There is getting overpopulated and clogged up because spirits don’t know how to move on anymore, and crowds of people who are only interested in having an “experience” aren’t helping much.

I was in the process of writing a book for psychopomps last year, but realised the book has already been written.  It is dated, but the information is still sound:  Dion Fortune’s “Book of the Dead”.  It is a very good starting point for doing this kind of work, and I feel it should be in every witch’s bag of tricks to be able to help spirits who call out to one, or to deal with a troublesome spirit who is becoming dangerous.  It is important, uncomfortable, thankless Work, but it is important Work all the same.

Read up, study, contemplate, my people…and for the love of the various Gods, seek your thrills elsewhere.