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Posts Tagged ‘houston’

As I write this, I am home again.

All told, I was gone for 10 days – I left on Thursday, returned home on Saturday. Today is Sunday, and my apartment is mostly set to rights again. I had no damage to the building, though my entire garden on the balcony is pretty much destroyed. I’ve gone grocery shopping, mostly replenished the stuff that I had to throw away, and have done some laundry. I’m very happily wearing an outfit that didn’t come out of a suitcase.

This whole experience was exceptionally disruptive to my spiritual practice. (Duh?) I spent 10 days without a way to kindle a fire, no way to light incense, and in the home of family who are so devoutly Christian that the room I was staying in has been decorated in what I jokingly refer to as “ostentatious Hobby Lobby chic”. Crosses all over everything. Bible verses everywhere. Angels in all of the art. My parents are wonderful people, and they know that I’m no longer Christian, but it was very jarring to wake up and have an artfully arranged display of crosses be the first thing my eyes set on every morning.

It wasn’t an unpleasant week, all things considered, but it was a challenging one. Being at the mercy of nature (and the electric company). Being displaced from your home with no way to tell what was going on. I’m one of the lucky ones who had a home to go back to – many in coastal Texas this week are not so fortunate. I’m left thinking about what my private devotions *should* look like in such a situation, and all told I think I did pretty well. While my parents said their very-Christian grace over dinner each night, I said my own in my head, or said the Cosmos prayer if I couldn’t think of a meal blessing.

Actually, I said the cosmos prayer a lot.

I think, if I had to make a bug-out kit for future hurricanes, I’d include Ceisiwr Seriths A Book of Pagan Prayer in there, just for some variation. Writing prayers to help others is easy, but writing prayers for yourself when you’re in the middle of trouble is much harder.

I did write a prayer that I sent out to my grove though:

Mighty Kindred, we pray your help and blessings on all those in Houston and all of southeast Texas. May your spirits come to those in need, whether in the form of mental comfort or in the form of aid and rescuers, whatever they may need. Bless all those who are helping their neighbors, human and animal alike, that they may be safe, and that they may bring succor and safety to others.

Ancestors, blood of our blood and spirit of our spirit, we pray you give us strength – you were people who knew the challenge of building and rebuilding. As we enter the last phase of this storm, and move to facing what’s next, may we find your resilience and courage as we seek to re-order our lives.

Nature Sprits, you who are also displaced and affected by this storm, we pray you will be our allies, and that we can be yours. May we, as kindred of this middle realm, know that we are neighbors, and may we look out for each other as we rebuild, finding both our own place and yours after the storm

Deities, known and unknown, first children of the Mother, we pray you will give us guidance and comfort. Grant your wisdom to those who are helping, and your patience to those who have nothing to do but wait. As we move to rebuild, grant your strength to us all, that we may do the most good where it is most needed. Most especially, we pray that you who rule over releasing the waters will guide the last of these waters so that they will do the least amount of harm.

Kindreds all, we look to you now, and we ask that you bless each of us according to our needs – strength, patience, guidance, comfort. May we live our virtues in this time of trouble, and may we, as your kin, look to you now as we endure the last that this storm has to offer, and may we look to you always, as we rebuild and bring our lives back together.

Be it so!

And so we move forward. The storm is past, and now it is up to us to recover. To serve those who need help, and to piece together what we can of the old and create something new from it. (Easy for me to say, from my apartment which has power and internet working again already.)

My practice did not suffer for spending 10 days displaced, though it did adapt and change.

My runes for this week are:

  • Peordh – the dice cup, an uncertain outcome
  • Is – ice, stasis/beauty/danger
  • Ur – the aurochs, strength and stubbornness

The outcome of any storm is never certain – may you know when to be still and wait and when to fight with the stubbornness of the aurochs, that you may overcome the challenges ahead of you.

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1.   List nine (9) laws, or as many as possible if less than nine, concerning clergy that you have found by searching your nearest municipality laws. By municipality, we mean on the village or town level. If there are none, then tell us how you found that out.

(more…)

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The 2015 Spring Garden was almost a complete failure – the only thing that did well were the beans. So I’m back (from outerspace) with a new plan, some more mulch, a trash can full of compost, and plans to really *magic it up* this year. I am not content to just put the garden in the ground. This garden needs magic, or I fear it will go the way of last year’s garden, and I will get no tomatoes and be sad.

The container garden contains only herbs and one yellow squash plant that I’m attempting to make work. We’ll see:

  • cilantro
  • Italian oregano
  • straight neck yellow squash
  • scallions (green onions)

The actual garden bed contains:

  • Tomatoes (Arkansas Traveler, Globe, Sweet 100, Sweet Million, Yellow Pear, and Juliet) – almost all cherry tomatoes this year
  • TAM Jalapeno (3)
  • Sweet Banana Pepper (3)
  • Clemson Spineless Okra (4 hills of 2 plants)
  • Bush Blue Lake Beans (3 full rows)
  • Eggplant (Japanese Long)
  • Genovese Basil

The whole thing (except the bean rows, which haven’t sprouted yet) is mulched thickly with cedar shavings, which will hopefully help with weeds.

I’ve also got an order in for some “seed bombs” (mammoth dill, italian parsley, genovese basil, and mixed romaine) to toss in my garden bed with the aloe and the lime tree, to try to make something out of an otherwise useless little corner of garden. If it doesn’t work, I’m not super sad, but the seed balls look easy to use and sprout, and the bed gets lots of sun. That bed currently only contains the out of control aloe plants and Frank. Frank is my 15 year old oregano plant. He’s very hardy. At his largest, he was the size of a coffee table, but he’s much smaller than that now.

In the past, my most successful garden came after I blessed it with a drink that came out of a very powerful ritual. Next week is our Spring Equinox ritual, and so I think I will make extra of our sacred drink (remind me to post on that sometime) and use it to bless the garden. It’ll have strong blessings in it, and I can do a ritual myself to bless the ground. I’ve made a small earth mother talisman for our Druid Mooncast workings, so perhaps she will come and participate as well.

I really *really* don’t want another failed garden. It was so hard last year to look out and see it overtaken with weeds, not producing any fruit at all. I know I went and got a new job and spent the month of May living somewhere else, which didn’t help, but it still feels personal. So this year, I’m doing my best to ensure success.

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It is with great excitement (and only a little abject terror) that I get to announce that the Clear Lake Druidic Study Group has chosen to branch out, and has been accepted as a new Protogrove in ADF. I am ostensibly the Grove Organizer, but as I am more interested in service/ministry/spiritual stuff, I have taken it upon myself to welcome volunteers to be in charge of things like “budgets” and “bylaws”.

We’re working on a website, and have a Facebook group (two things which seem to be required for group legitimacy these days).

Our name – Nine Waves – comes from a couple of sources. First, we are a coastal protogrove, and so an ocean reference seemed appropriate. Second, we work mostly in the northern hearth (Norse, Anglo-Saxon, Germanic), and our chosen gatekeeper is Heimdall/Hama, who is said to be the son of nine waves. Third, we all thought it sounded nice (which is always important when naming things).

Not a whole lot has changed so far – we’re still meeting every Friday for coffee and study group, but we now have business meetings each month, and we’re working on some publicity stuff. ADF stresses open ritual – PUBLIC open ritual, to be exact – and so part of our job as a Protogrove is to let people know that we will be hosting High Days, and where to find us.

We don’t have a permanent ritual location yet, since it’s hard to find a place that works in both good weather and bad, but we did find a fairly large gazebo at a local park that worked nicely for Ostara. The only problem with it so far is a complete lack of electricity, and no place to build an actual fire, but candles are okay. (Note: Grove Ritual Organization Box needs a small supply of book lights for evenings when it gets dark during ritual.)

If you had told me three years ago when I joined ADF that I’d be part of ADF leadership, I probably would have laughed at you, but the change has been slow and steady, and I’ve learned a lot through running the study group. I hope I’m up to the task of leading a protogrove. I made an oath at our Ostara ritual that, barring crazy unforeseen acts, I would lead the PG for three years (unless they throw me out). I’m excited to see what kind of a community we can build in three years. There are 4 founding members of the protogrove, which is pretty neat (as that’s enough to be a chartered grove eventually), and I hope we only build from there.

 

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Last year I didn’t get a garden in – the first year since we’ve lived in our house that I waited too long and missed the planting window.

This year I was determined to not let that happen again, and so this past weekend, in celebration of the coming spring (and of my birthday, which was on the 2nd) ((and of the last freeze date, which is March 1 here)) we put in the garden.

My main garden bed is 10×12, so I’m limited to that plus what I can grow in containers. This year the in-ground bed contains:

  • Tomatoes (6) (Celebrity hybrid, my best producer in years past)
  • Eggplant (2) (White Beauty hybrid)
  • Okra (6 hills) (Clemson Spineless)
  • Beans (3 rows) (Bush Blue Lake)
  • Dill (Fernleaf)
  • Parsley (Flat leaf)
  • Cilantro
  • Basil (Genovese)

I also totally re-did my container garden, with a heavy weight toward hot and sweet peppers, which do very well here in pots (they don’t like as much water as tomatoes and eggplant and beans, so if I plant them in the main bed, they tend to not produce much). In containers I have:

  • Rosemary
  • Peppermint
  • Sweet Yellow Banana Peppers (6)
  • Jalapenos (6)
  • Sugar snap peas (with a trellis)
  • Picklebush cucumbers (with a trellis)
  • Zucchini (compact variety, hoping that works in a pot)

I can’t plant curcurbits in the ground because of downy and powdery mildew here, so I am trying them in pots. If it works, hooray, and if not, I’m only out the cost of the seed packets and a big tomato cage.

It was a perfect weekend for planting. 55 degrees and cloudy, with a light breeze – cool enough to need a light jacket, but hopefully also to help keep tiny seedlings from getting too stressed. My parents were in town to help with the garden, so it was a community effort, and quite fun. I got dirt under my fingernails and in my hair, and it was glorious.

At the end of the day, we grilled our dinner, and I made a burned offering of various herbs and resins to the fire, as a blessing for my newly replanted garden. I always try to make offerings to the fire when I can, and I’m planning a formal ritual for the gardens where I will take the blessings in return for the offerings I make, and pour them out over the plants (probably in the form of a watering can 🙂 ). The spirits of my garden tend to respond very well to poured offerings of various kinds as well (they’ve received everything from wine to cider to goats milk mixed with kahlua).

If all of this does well, I will be drowning in produce come May, which is exactly how I want it to be. I’ll make salsa and pickles and eat fresh warm tomatoes with fresh basil and olive oil and salt.

 

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So for the last 20 or so months I’ve worked on the 9th floor of a building, in a cubicle on the east side near some big windows. Watching the sunrise was a large part of my morning, and I’ve taken quite a few pictures in my efforts to track the sun from south in the winter to north in the summer and back again. Right now the sun is rising almost directly behind downtown, and it’s quite the stunning site, especially from nine floors up with no other buildings to block the view.

Sadly, we have had a reorganization at my company, and that meant moving to the other side of the building. I actually face the windows (and the entrance to our quad-cube this time too, so no more having people sneak up on me because I face the wall), but these windows face west… directly into the next building. While I can see some reflected sunlight, it’s not quite the same.

Also the new inhabitants of the other side of the building have decided that they are (apparently) against all forms of natural light and have tightly closed all the blinds (only to turn on desk lamps to have more light).

As such, I’m calling this the end of my official sunrise exercise. Now that it’s late enough in the year, I’m no longer driving during the sunrise (it’s still dark when I get to work now), but with the new move, it’s just not looking like I’ll be able to watch my sunrises like I used to.

I’ll still be doing my morning devotional, with my morning cup of tea, but without the gorgeous views of the sun rising over Houston.

To be honest, I’m trying to keep a good spirit about this move. I moved from a spot where I could see natural light, and watch the sunrise, that was right next to both the kitchen and the women’s restroom, and very close to two printers. Now I’m on the other side of the building from the kitchen and the bathroom and the printers, and my view out the windows is straight into the windows of the next building. Many of my Secret Agent Druid practices are going to change because of this, which is a little sad.

I guess I just have to come up with new ones!

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