This is rapidly becoming unacceptable.

Aug 28, 2007
I have got to find a way to make work and the Craft compatible. At six o'clock in the morning, a formal full moon ritual sounds like the best idea in the world. At six o'clock in the evening, I can barely summon the energy to order pizza online. (I should have known that the day I have officially designated as "takeout day," due to it being the end of a work-week for me, is not really ideal for ritual...)

This morning, though, was astonishingly wonderful. As I walked from the kitchen into the dining room, packing my lunch for work, I smelled roses for no reason at all. I wasn't wearing any floral perfume, I hadn't bought flowers in weeks, and besides, we're well past rose season...until finally I spotted the bouquet of dried roses that has been sitting on the ledge there for, oh, nearly a year now.

I can't recall ever having smelled them before. They were my grandmother's funeral roses from last Samhain; yellow roses were her favorite flower, although I can't recall her ever having any (she didn't have the patience to grow roses, and she was far too practical to buy them for herself), and the casket and church were covered with them. My cousin had rose petal beads made of the casket flowers, and the rest of us all took a bouquet home.

It was a strange sort of reminder to have that early in the morning, on a beautiful morning like this, one of the first without rain in weeks, still cool from the evening but with the promise of heat to come. It is still painful to think of my grandmother. I can't help but feel that I neglected her in the last few years, so desperate was I to find a life for myself apart from my family. But it's hard to be depressed for long about yellow roses, and I found myself thinking of all the time I had spent with her -- plenty, really, she lived ten blocks from my house and I practically lived there when I was a kid. Our birthdays were around the same time, and we had huge family summer birthday parties for all of us. All the parade routes went right by her house, so we watched them from her bedroom balcony. And whenever there was family from out of town, it wasn't long before we were all there, causing no end of chaos to Grandma's usually tidy home (and her the happiest of anyone about it).

I felt like my eyes were open in a way they hadn't been in quite a long time, this morning; it lasted almost until lunch. On the way from the bus stop to the office, I saw two ravens picking through some litter in the parking lot. There used to be quite a flock of them around there, but I hadn't seen any all summer; I had been wondering where they'd got to.

Starting Over (part two)

Aug 25, 2007
Last month, in a fit of frustration, I tore down my old altar. (The fact that I haven't much missed it in a month is not a good sign, I think.) Today, I got me a new altar table.

It didn't cost me anything; I got it from Freecycle, an amazing email barter system. Have something you don't want, you send an email to the list. See something you want, you email someone about their post. Need something in particular, send an email, go out two days later to pick up your brand-new altar table. My old altar table is getting scrubbed down and moved to the living room, and the table it's replacing will go back on Freecycle. It's the new urban ecosystem -- take something out, put something back in.

It's round! I've never had a round altar before; I'll have to rearrange some things. I've always had quite a formal-looking altar, actually, and I think it's time to mix it up a bit. And what shall I do with the top? Shall I paint it? Finish it? Engrave it? Cover it with an altar cloth? Oh, I have so many options, for my current plan is to have it ready for its first dedication on Samhain. It will (hopefully) see use before then; I see no point in making a commitment to something you haven't tried out first.

I'm looking forward to remaking it immensely, actually. I remember the first time I put an altar up properly, and how wonderful it was, and how it felt like an entirely different world from the rest of my bedroom in my parents' house in the middle of nowhere. But I'd been basically moving that altar around ever since; I'm far from the same person I was when I was sixteen. It's definitely time for a change.

If you can see the fire, the meal was already cooked a long time ago

Aug 11, 2007
Some days I think I should go into the business of koans. I mean, the little bits and pieces I scribble all over my work papers and write "Essaie!" next to don't quite qualify as bumper-sticker wisdom, and they certainly aren't blog posts on their own. Then again, they're probably not confusing enough for koans either.

I have, for instance, the sentence fragment "As an anthropologist, I know that meaning is acquired, not inherent" written on one page of my little notebook that I carry with me everywhere. (Yes, I do sometimes think in words like that, to my own unending astonishment.) These notebooks remind me a little bit of the diaries of my grandmothers that my mom kept lying about, tiny leather-bound records of weather, births and deaths, and occasionally something a particularly notable calf born. My grandmother was a farmwife; she didn't have the time nor the inclination to write pages about her thoughts every day. She kept track of what was important. Okay, so my books are more self-indulgent and certainly less orderly than her diaries, but I like to think of my relations in future years looking back on them and thinking..."Why would you write all this down? And then why would you keep it?"

I know that meaning is acquired, not inherent. I remember surprising myself when I thought that, which must be why I wrote it down. I must have been reading Crowley at the time, then, because I wouldn't be surprised by that thought if I was reading something anthropological. It's a controversial statement in the magickal world, though. Why else all those charts of correspondences? Why lists of the properties of herbs and stones? It's become more popular of late to say that correspondences are what is meaningful to you -- Crowley says the same, actually -- but there's still a niggling sense in the back of my brain that surely some things really do mean something, on their own.

Meaning is acquired, not inherent. Anthropology says yes. Hard science says no, but only for concepts like "one" and "zero," which are not particularly useful in day to day life. Religion says a loud no -- but everyone disagrees on what that meaning is, and which parts of it are important, so that's not extremely helpful either.

Acquired, not inherent. I do believe that, I guess (and I must have believed it when I wrote it down, or there'd be huge question marks all over the page next to the sentence). And not just in a scientific sense, but in a theological sense, too. Life is a journey, not a destination. Stop and smell the roses. A soul is made, over lifetimes, not born and then done. And yet somehow, it still seems contradictory to me. Contradictory to what, I'm not sure. To something.

Obviously I shall have to think on this more. Also, I need a new little notebook.