O, Coveted Laziness, Wherefore Art Thou?

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels: , ,

For reasons unknown, I would love to be lazy.  Maybe it's the cold weather now settling in.  Maybe it's the long to-do list which faces me every year from October to February.  Or maybe it's the very thought of such delicious sloth that tantalizes me into a recurring daydream of doing absolutely nothing.

There I am, front and center, ready for the world.

If I were to do nothing, it would look quite impressive: sleeping in every day until I was bored with sleeping, eating oatmeal every morning, playing video games until my eyes hurt, watching old movies and seeing every moment uninterrupted and without occupying my hands, lounging in a hot bath for hours, flipping through books just to see the pretty pictures, daydreaming, falling asleep on the carpet, going out for a midnight drive, and dropping my dirty clothes on the floor.  Boy, would that be sweet.

But I don't think I would be very happy after a day or two (especially since, even in a fantasy with nothing to do, I've managed to make a fairly long to-do list for myself).  With nothing to work for, there is no purpose, no point to anything.  And soon leisure becomes as drab and colorless as the most tedious chore.  Where is the pleasure without the effort?  Where is the triumph without the struggle?  So, instead, I'm going to work hard and keep going.  I'm going to be posting new items on my shop (stay tuned!), making many more that will excite you all once they are complete, dip candles and refill other stock, while also keeping our household chugging along smoothly and preparing for our huge Yule celebrations that begin December first and don't quit until we all fall down exhausted on the 22nd.  As a bustling, busy, productivity-loving Capricorn, I doubt I could enjoy life any other way.

Best to you all as we enter the holiday season!


Remembering Salem

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels: , ,

Okay, so I wasn't able to write from Salem.  But that's not for lack of thinking about it.  It was such a whirlwind of activity, that if not for the thousands of photos and bags of swag, I'd think I never went at all!  So let me break it down a little, for you and for me.

My husband and I set out 2 hours later than we'd planned.  Damn.  And I had to turn around after a mile because I forgot to bring shoes.  So not a very fortuitous beginning.  But after several double-checks of the house, many blessings, candle-burnings, and chanting (as well as a rockin' orange paisley dress that just refused to be found!  Grr!), we were off.  A cheerful and surprisingly speedy drive slowed to a halt at every exit in Boston, but with a constant flow of chants, we made it through without problems.  I have used the same chants since I first started practicing witchcraft at age 16.  By now they're thoroughly ingrained in me--just the first few words and they set to work.  That was good news for me because it was about this time that I remembered that I wasn't carrying my usual traveling companion--a handwritten book full of practical charms.  Rats!

We checked into our posh hotel with just enough time to change for the Witches Ball and be at the front door for the shuttle.  What perfect timing!  In previous years we drove into the city, which is not so bad...until you need to park.  Sadly, at this time of year Salem has one parking space for every 200 people seeking it.  But the shuttle is totally the way to go (Hudson, by the way.  Just remember Hudson).  We even got there in time to get the goodie bags that they give to the first 100 in the door.  Every year we fear we won't make it and every year we have with plenty time to spare.  That's a kind of magic, right there!

The High Priestess outside of her temple, the Boston Marriott.
The Ball was a flurry of excitement--people crowding every square inch of the ballroom, music loud enough to wake the dead, dancing, drinking, laughter, smoke, and lights...it was, as always, a sight to see.  We crowded to the front to watch the amazing Dragon Ritual Drummers as they called love and honor for the dead and worked a rhythm to make it impossible to stand still.  Now I'm no dancer, but they manage to get me moving every time.  There's a wide range of dance styles at the Ball (and pretty much anywhere Pagans congregate)--the I-go-to-nightclubs-every-weekend swagger, the sexy come-hither, lots of pseudo-bellydancing, wild arm thrashing, the I'm-also-talking and/or kissing sway, the drinking/head bobbing combo, and then moderate dancers like me.  Because of the available variety, it's quite easy to blend in no matter what your style.

And here's Mickey before we left home.  That head wasn't easy to hoist, so he requested no photos before the Ball unless absolutely necessary.  lol

Christian Day (our host) announced that the tables had been removed this year (as I noticed because it meant less to trip over.  After all, I was wearing a moon at my feet and a large headdress on top!) to eliminate wallflowers.  It worked quite well.  I had no intention of sitting still the whole time but the lack of rest space meant that nearly everyone was mingling the whole night.  For a couple who rarely get out like this, it was perfect!  Hubby and I made the rounds like bold souls, meeting new folks, seeing new costumes, getting pictures taken, and finding new enthusiasm for the dance.  A couple of drinks and a few fancy nibbles were surprisingly all I was interested in, despite the wide array available.  It was warm, wild, and much too much of everything to spend my time eating! 

To clear things up, this year's theme was "Witch and Famous," well-known historical and fictional witches and wizards.  My husband was the Sorcerer's Apprentice and I was the High Priestess of the tarot.  These were the most wildly original costumes we could manage after months of contemplation.  Naturally, mine was not original.  lol
That's me on the right, all aglow, and a sympathetic sister on the left.  Great minds think alike, I guess!

Though I was a shining beacon in the darkened ballroom, my husband was the one who got the attention!   As we had discovered earlier this year while visiting Disney World, the mere sight of a walking, talking Mickey Mouse does something strange to people.  Children flock to give hugs and high-fives.  Grown men and women throw themselves in his arms with love, laughter, and lavish kisses.  And tonight was no different.

Handfuls of pretty young women (and an enthusiastic young man!) took turns dancing with him like rock groupies.  It was quite a sight!  I took it as well as any wife can who watches her surprised and embarrassed hubby as he is worshiped with erotic dance like a golden idol.  Maybe it was Mickey's magnetic power of celebrity, maybe the familiarity of a good-natured character, or maybe it was his permanent smile of excitement...whatever it was, it was magic!

Of course I was thrilled when, in the midst of all the dancing and mingling, he was asked to come to the front of the room.  The winners were finally announced and he'd won 2nd prize--$200 to Pentacle Press!  What a thrill!  What bliss!  Mickey danced and smiled from the stage as I clapped like mad for his big win.  First prize went to a woman dressed as the Wicked Witch of the West who rode a broomstick atop an 8 foot pole.  For sheer dedication, misery, and boredom (there's no drinking, talking, or dancing when you spend the evening at the top of a pole), she is welcome to it.   

Two more things made this event huge.  The biggest was that I met Dorothy Morrison, who, oddly enough penned quite a few of the charms I used on the trip up to Mass. for safety and traffic woes.  On Sunday, I even did her charm for a parking place and we easily slid into a spot on a crowded street.  I was really looking forward to getting a signed copy of her newest book, "Utterly Wicked," but, alas, she was in the midst of a longer trip (including a Pagan festival in Florida) and didn't carry books with her.  Instead she offered to send me an autographed bookplate to put in my new copy.  Eeep!  So dang cool...   Now I don't think I'll be able to read her without hearing her characteristic voice.

And the second thing to make this such a special night was the way Christian Day--normally a sassy and somewhat aloof type--seemed to fawn over Mickey Mouse!  It was very sweet.  That's when I knew that the magic of the mouse was upon us all.  Just look at this smile---

The way back to the hotel seemed long and chilly compared to the loud and crowded Ball.  However, knowing the next day was all ours, with no schedule or plans, was very exciting!  So much of my thoughts had been wrapped up in that night that I nearly forgot the rest of the weekend! That and getting out of slippery satin and into an overstuffed bed to unpack our goodie bags was all new fun.  Hooray! 

Hotel breakfasts are always wonderful.  I think that if there were only one way to wake up every morning, I'd choose a hotel breakfast.  Ours was well stocked and we ate heartily so that we wouldn't have to stop for lunch.  We hit all the hot spots that day: all the shops along Essex (with special attention to my favorite shops, The Magic Parlor, Hex, Omen, The Barking Cat, Harrison's comics, and Witch City Consignment and a trip through the Psychic Fair) and some new goodies on Pickering Wharf, including a peek in the new Magica , The adorable Wynotts wand shop, and a great little place Arcana, whose very cool owners I met the night before.  The evening was chilly and my feet were sore.  We decided to have dinner at Life Alive for heaping bowls of udon miso and salads.  Warm and fed, we headed back to the hotel again for an unconventional night of cable TV, napping, waking, and delivery pizza. 

Sunday morning was a bummer.  Great breakfast, great weather, but always the shadow of leaving.  *sigh* But we managed to squeeze in one last jaunt into the city for shirts and other goodies to take home for other folks.  One last treat, a dandelion-chicory latte with rice milk and vanilla from Life Alive, and we were off.  I was happy for this last visit even though it set our schedule back.  Though maybe that was a mistake because right about then a lady named Sandy was terrorizing the East Coast, unbeknownst to us, and we were barely ahead of her. We left New York just as they were evacuating cities and the highway was stuffed with the cars of fleeing residents.  

We made it back in time to gather our kids from family and return home.  School had been cancelled for the next day, due to the impending storm, so time was no longer an issue.  But, quite happily, not a single drop of rain entered our house unbidden and not a single bit of damage was done to anything belonging to our loved ones, either.  Blessed be!

Salem this year was as it always is--beautiful, joyful, and surprising.  I would say that I could happily live there, but then, that might take away the pleasure of escaping to that lovely place every time autumn comes and life permits.  It could never be four walls and a roof, it is only ever a door.

Here It Comes to Getcha!

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels: ,

My trip to Salem is coming closer by the minute.  I can almost hear its footsteps behind me.  How can I possibly feel like sighing in bliss and running in terror at the same time?  To begin with, this is the biggest event of our year (though possibly tying with Yule, a huge deal around here)--the Salem Witches Ball.   I am excited/petrified in a few different ways.  It's interesting to consider them all individually:

  1. I'm thrilled to be attending the Ball for my third year.  It's an amazing event that's always different!
  2. This is my chance to "get away from it all" and do something strictly relaxing with no goals for accomplishment nor productivity.  Ahhhh!
  3. Working nonstop on our costumes (plus normal household stuff and working for my shop--updating listings, helping customers, mailing orders, etc.) has left me rather burnt out.  I need a vacation.
  4. I am a nervous wreck about the costumes.  A happy, terrified, proud wreck.
  5. Everything considered non-essential (like dusting, mopping, and sleep) has taken a back-seat to all immediately important activities.  I don't think I'll fully grasp the level of disarray it has become until after things settle down again.
  6. My to-do list is still dangerously long.  So long, in fact, that if it were a snake, it could easily crush me to death.  My only hope is to slash away at it with a pen.
  7. I am happiest when I'm busy, and I always bite off more than I can chew.  This time is no exception.

As you can see, at the moment I'm one mixed up sonofabitch.  lol  Right now I could use all the well-wishes you can spare.  (I will be sure to update this blog with lots of photos and news from the Witch City as repayment!)

Thinking of you as I pack up the broomstick and head North,


The Building of a Mountain

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels: , ,

There are many great works we do in the course of a lifetime—education, marriage, parenting, career building, etc.—and many that are just as important even if their time-frame is somewhat smaller.  As a bit of a writer, I feel the same way in beginning a new manuscript that I did at the beginning of any one of the big enterprises of my life.  It’s no wonder so many authors speak of “giving birth” to a book.

So that’s the big projects and the small ones.  But there’s an even greater work that is always at stake, always in process, and yet it can be overlooked as stagnant or inevitable—our very lives.  When something bad comes along, it’s easy to think that it has ruined everything and that all plans for the future have been dashed.  But you don’t abandon a baby incorrectly positioned for birth, you don’t scrap sixth grade because of a harsh teacher, and you won’t turn your back on what could be just because of what is.

That is the essence of magic.  A witch is always looking at what could be, never at what is (unless it is pleasing, at which point s/he should smile and nod approvingly).  There is no work that can be completed without many steps, some of which may, at first, appear to be going in the wrong direction.  It’s not failure to take a step or two extra.  So long as the goal is always clearly sighted, you will never become lost. 

As an example, right now I’m working on a very challenging project.  Sure, it’s not something of immense importance (outside of my home), but doing well means a great deal to me, and that’s the best reason I have ever had to do my very best.  My husband and I are traveling to Salem again this year for the Witches Ball and again I’m making our costumes from scratch.  That’s not the hard part.  The real work comes in where I see how it is possible to make these costumes, but not necessarily whether I have the skills needed for the job.  Yes, I know just how it would be done…if I were watching it on a documentary of costume-making full of time-elapse photography, cut-aways, and a warehouse workspace with teams of experts.  They, and some suitably peppy music to speed things along, would show a smooth, flawless process from start to finish.  But that’s not the reality.  Instead you’ve got me, sitting cross-legged on our living room floor, making wearable sculpture from chicken-wire.  My fingers are bloody, my knees are sore, I’ve got a stomachache from far too much coffee, and I still have hours to go until I can get the kids off to school and take myself to bed.  My next step—plaster wrap.  Having never broken a bone (thank goodness), I had no idea how unwieldy this cast stuff was.  Luckily I covered every available surface with newspaper because soon after starting I had every available surface covered in plaster dust and splatters of plaster water.  Not quite as glamorous as my documentary. 

In short, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.  But I keep doing it because I only have to get this one step right in order for the whole thing to work out.  My great big wire/plaster/papier-mâché conglomeration sits on the living room coffee table now like an odd faceless gargoyle.  As I work, I see my one current step; when it’s done, I stand back and see what it will become.  At every turn, I’m doing something I’ve never done before, working with materials wholly unfamiliar to me, and flying by the seat of my pants.  But I can’t think about that now.  There’s work to be done and it won’t happen unless I get in there and do it—one step at a time. 

Our lives run in a similar way.  Each step is the most important one, and that’s the one that needs the most help we can give it.  Ever since I began as a witch 15 years ago, I’ve called upon magic not as a last resort, but as a first.  I use it to direct my future, set the steps to take, and smooth out the wrinkles along the way.  I know that this is vastly different from much of the current thought in the magical community, but it has kept me always in sight of my goals and because of that has served me well. 

It keeps me going to see the finished product even if it’s currently just as a drawing on paper.  I know it will work out, no matter what it takes, because I have willed it. We create with our wills and our imagination.  This is magical thinking—you make it come to life with the same power you hold inside you to dream, to wish, to believe in something more than tangible reality.  Have your goal firmly set in your mind the whole time and it will slowly take that shape.  Your magic can work to direct the steps you take in meeting that goal at the end.  And meet it you will.
I’m sure this costume will be a bit different from my idea of it—just as one’s vision of marriage or childbirth can easily differ from the reality—but that will not mean it’s imperfect, only that a static image will never be as wonderfully alive and unpredictable as the real thing.  Maybe it will be better than I planned.  Maybe not so grand.  But in either case, it will be everything I could give it.  That is what we owe to ourselves to give in our lives—everything we’ve got.  And that’s not something we give away.  It’s what we carry with us, mold into our personal histories, and use to create the mountain upon which we can someday stand and see distant horizons.

The Joy of Doing Nothing

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels:

Today was my day to do nothing.  I did not get anything productive achieved.  I barely managed to plan for future productivity (though I did decide that some of this laziness should be used on organizing my notes for next month's NaNoWriMo, plus finishing writing a letter from ages ago, plus laundry…so, I guess I got a lot of planning done).  Normally, I would think that all this laying around was an error of the most sinful kind.  But, sometimes even I must concede that laziness is a virtue.
See? I'm even too lazy to provide a picture

I find that there are times when doing nothing is the perfect thing to do.  Not just because it feels good, but because there are actual reasons why being productive would in fact harm a situation or the people in it.  Here are a few examples:

  •  They say that multi-tasking actually leads to one doing each of the tasks worse than if they'd been performed alone.  Think about that next time you're ironing shirts and making waffles at the same time.
  • Stress does not make you more productive.  It may seem like that wired feeling means you're working hard, but it actually means you're about to pop.
  • Overworked bodies express stress through physical symptoms: rashes, headaches, illness, etc. 
  • Overworked minds express stress mentally and emotionally: irritability, depression, forgetfulness, muddled thinking. 
  • When nothing can be done to further a project at this time, anything else you add now is either obsessing or redundancy.  Both are a waste of your energy.
  • Stressing over one area of your life means that you're missing out on others.  Or worse, you may be looking at the other parts of your life as getting in the way of your stressing!
  • Everyone needs time off.  Work hard but when work is done, rest deeply.  This means also taking the time to enjoy accomplishments instead of checking them off a list and moving on.
  • You're not a machine.  Choose to err on the side of humanity.  Relax when you need to, even if doing so will let someone down. 

So, today, I have decided to rest.  I cannot yet work on our costumes and I have chosen to rearrange my schedule for adding new items to the shop.  I have napped deeply and ate heartily.  I have lounged and stretched and talked on Facebook.  I have made up for my selfishness where I can and where I can't will be dealt with another day.  I am an incredibly imperfect human—and I’m okay with that.

Tomorrow I begin anew and we'll all be better for it.

How to Tell if You're Cursed

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels:

For some odd reason, this topic has become almost passe with magical practitioners today.  I personally have been on the receiving end of many snarky comments or disapproving sniffs because I entertain the notion that one's bad luck might be more than just chance.  The way these conversations run, it's as though magic is an obvious reality but black magic?  Now you're just being silly!

But black magic can happen, has happened, and will happen again with increasing ease unless the people who can prevent it actually recognize that it's going on.  Witches are poised to protect all in their care from physical and spiritual dangers.  Why would we be so lax against magical ones?

Simple reasons, really.  I don't know just how it began, but I've noticed the trend of blaming the victim with statements like, "You could only have been cursed if you subconsciously wanted to be.  You invited it!"  and "No one can curse you without your permission."  So now the problem isn't that someone is attacking you and should be made to stop, but that you're a loser who wants to suffer.  Nice.  Or, there's the tack that magic only works in very specific ways:  "Magic only works if you believe in it" and "Curses don't work unless they know about it."  Sorry, but that's way off.  These sound like the words of someone who is hoping that that's the way it works, not someone who knows it.

Magic can be put on anyone, for any reason.  It can be done when they know about it or when they don't.  It can be someone you've known all your life or someone you've just met and don't even know the name of.  It can be for a real reason or a mistaken one.  It can be done on a person who believes in magic or one who doesn't.  Not to brag, but I've pretty much done all of that in my time and it all works.

It works because the only real rule about what makes a spell hit its mark is desire.  It's not about who's right or wrong--the only deciding factor is who wants it more.  If someone casts a spell on you to get you well when you're sick, it's a simple matter because your desire is to get well too.  There's no conflict.  But if a spell is cast on you to get sick and you are actively trying to stay well, now there's conflict.  The winner will be whomever has more desire for their chosen outcome.

That's the reason why it's so easy for curses to land on people who already have a poor outlook on life--they're working toward that same end already.  So there's another good reason to look on the sunny side.

What should I know about curses?

First, know that there are different levels of curses and they can affect a person in different ways.  I mentioned a few posts ago about teaching my daughter about the Evil Eye.  I'm a firm believer because I've seen it in action.  That's the main reason I don't usually tell people before I go away on a trip--any jealousy that is brought up by my bragging can ruin the whole thing.  The Evil Eye is just as easy as that.  Feelings of envy or anger are said to travel through the caster's eyes and into the other person, sometimes without the caster even realizing that he/she is doing it.  The eyes are able to give and to receive this evil, which is why the ancient Egyptians lined their eyes in kohl (the forerunner of our modern eyeliner) for protection. The Evil Eye presents itself as unexplained illnesses, depression, arguments, missing items, things that were in fine condition suddenly breaking or acting strangely (like your car or computer).  Think a "death by a thousand cuts" type of misfortune.

The more extensive curses are the kind that require items from your person, your photograph or image, or pieces of your clothing.  These spells are usually cast by people who really mean it.  It wasn't just a moment of jealousy that made him/her think about how they deserve your boyfriend more than you, but an overwhelming drive to take him away.  These are the mid-grade curses, and they come on rather obviously: specific areas of your life gone all wrong (usually in money or love) with the rest fairly untouched, losing the most important thing in your life.  When everything starts to go wrong, it's usually because you've been so busy trying to regain what you initially lost that you neglected the rest of your responsibilities.

The really big curses are, in fact, quite rare.  Usually any angry person will stop at the first two.  But this is for those particularly nasty people who have done something that the caster feels is unforgivable.  Here are the death curses, the long-term illness and diseases, loss of family, insanity, a ruined life.  These are the curses that are hard, if not impossible, to bounce back from.  They are very specific and wide-ranging.  Usually these spells require a lot more complex arrangement and ceremony and possibly include evocation of spirits or the use of semi-dangerous substances.  Not many people have the ability to do this, or the intense desire needed to pull it off.  That's good news for us all!

This last category, I would say, is the stuff that people worry about way more than they really need to.  Remember, you only need to defend with as much desire as that which is directed at you.  It's pretty darn unlikely that someone out there wishes this strongly to cause harm, but if they might (meaning: if you know you've done some big bad things and ticked off some big bad people), defend big!  Otherwise, keep it rational and moderate.  Stay aware of the possibility but don't run from every shadow.

How can I tell if I've been cursed?

If you've experienced something like what I've listed here, you can assume that someone has done work on you.  But that's not such a terrible thing.  Anyone who puts themselves out in the public eye--in a large or small way--runs that risk.  If you run a group, own a store, lead workshops, have a prominent job, are important in an organization or at work, or even write a blog or get vocal on Facebook, you can end up the target of someone's aggression.  That's the price of being known outside of your living room.  But, really, wouldn't you rather stand out and be honest with yourself than blend in for the sake of perfect safety?

Of course, you'll want to try the normal stuff first--change up your routine a little if you're feeling down or if things aren't going well.  Take care of your health and your relationships.  Don't let a set-back in one area of life override the positives in other areas.  Aim for balance and clarity.  If it's just a bad patch (or the caster wasn't very good!), things will fix themselves.  If not, then it's on to the next step:

What can I do if I think I've been cursed?

Many methods exist for removing curses and turning back evil, but I'll only give you the really simple ones so you can start right away if you think you might need their help.  A good place to start is with an egg.  Get a whole egg (the freshest you can) and take it someplace private.  Remove your clothes and lay the egg gently against your skin.  Rub it in long strokes over your arms, legs, torso, face, head--everywhere.  Make sure the egg touches every inch so the curse has no place to hide.  The egg will absorb all the harm and draw it from your body.  Once you are done, flush it down the toilet whole. 

To clear your house of a curse, use salt.  Sprinkle salt in the corners of each room or try shaking some salt all over the floors and then sweeping it up and out through each door until you get to the front door.  You can even sweep it out into the street so the curse can't be brought back indoors.  Salt in your bath or salt scrubs (as I talk about here) are another way to get this magical mineral to work for you.

Another handy method is to chop an onion into four quarters.  Keep chopping onions this way until you have one quarter for each room of your house.   Place each one in a bowl and pour some vinegar over them.  Then place these bowls in the rooms of your house.  In the bedrooms, they should go under the bed but in other rooms they can be anywhere on the floor that is unobtrusive.  The combination in them will absorb the curse.  This can also be done with whole garlic cloves and is said to turn the onion or garlic a pink color when they take on the evil.  Either way, dispose of them away from your home afterward.

Burn white candles and invoke the help of your deity/deities, patrons, and especially, beloved dead.  Asking for help works particularly well if the one you're asking cares about you deeply.  You might get a better response from that fiercely loyal grandmother your remember from your childhood than a deity you don't often call upon.

Of course, if you feel like you need more potent work done or would like pre-made and pre-charged items to assure your victory over evil, check out my shop for Black Cloud Hex Breaker candles and powder, plus the traditional cleansing and protection powder Cascarilla.  And if you'd like to go really big (or you've got really big enemies) request a personalized spell kit and we'll take 'em down together!

But however you decide to banish the harm against you, do it now.  There is no honor in ignoring a problem, hoping it will go away.

On Inspiration and Its Expression

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels: ,

Sometimes it's fun just to bring out a blank slate and put down the chalk without having any idea of what will come next.  Being a Capricorn, I don't usually pull such capers as writing/painting/performing/attending events/public speaking, etc. without full knowledge of what I will do, how, when, where, and why, plus a complete agenda and outline.  But my shop is teaching me to let go of that, if only a little.

So I walk into a store or I wake from a dream or I see some long forgotten bottle or jar of something-or-other on a shelf in my workroom, and *flash!*--inspiration!  I've got an idea and I want to run with it.  I don't know what I'll do next exactly, but I've got the seed.  I start putting things together, arranging colors and supplies, researching ideas for more designs and more choices.  But I don't think about prices or consumer demand.  Those things are only secondary to the passion of creating something new.

Not to say that I don't think on a daily basis about pleasing my customers and bringing in the kind of items they express interest in, as soon as I can.  I do, and even now I'm hard at work on fulfilling some customer wishes.  But the chance to fulfill my own--especially when they weren't even conscious wishes until a moment before--is too exciting to ignore!

And yet the last thing I want to do is create for the sake of creation.  I love functionality!  I want it to have at least two uses, if not more.  I want customers to see a world of possibility in what I've made.  And not just a world I dictate, but one that is the child of their brain, one I couldn't have foreseen.  That, to me is the best outcome of my imagination.

Those flashes always come so fast and with such a brilliant light that I am compelled to get to work right away.  Which is a handy thing since the rest of the process is very, very long in comparison.  With an idea and a sketch that took 60 seconds, I can spend the following week in organizing the needed details (sources for materials, comparing prices and sizes, picking colors, correcting problems, drawing tons of design sketches...), and after that, I get to actually create the item (the sitting-still-hand-cramping part of the job).  As an Etsy seller (much as I do love it), the longest part is taking photos and creating listings.  Photos are fun to set up when you're trying for atmosphere, but a little tricky to pull off well.  To strike a compromise between clean, plain images and interesting ones is tough but always worth the effort.  I like the writing part best, naturally.  I try to craft short descriptions of my work that (hopefully) draw the reader into feeling a bit of that same excitement that spurred its creation. 

Being able to see each of these little projects to their end and then send them out to be a part of someone else's world is a real feeling of bliss for me.  And the more I do it, the more often come those great flashes of inspiration that shock me off my feet in surprise.  I see a little object or two colors side by side and *flash!*--there it is again!  Now I have a ever-growing folder full of these flashes, and I'm slowly working my way through them.  Some are ideas that customers have sent me, others are dreams or memories that I haven't thought of in years.  A few are pieces from my first manuscript that I'm working on getting published (cross your fingers for me!)  But most are just from some incredible moment when what I was doing and where I was standing seemed suddenly fortuitous, and a thrilling new idea was born.

Maybe this all sounds a little too grand for such a tiny corner of the world as my shop can market, and a tiny shop it is, but it is a joyful feeling to me to be able to open my mind to such experiences again and again, pluck from them something surprising, and then send them out to you.

Racers to Your Marks!

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels: ,

So here is where it all begins--October 1st.  I, like so many other witches before (and beside) me, am getting my home, self, family, and magic prepared for the joyous season of Halloween.

Considering how incredibly busy the next 31 days will be, one would assume that I would dread its coming.  And yet, I can't wait.  I am smitten without shame for the entire Halloween season!

Because it all starts on October 1st here (and not a moment before!), I will give you the run-down of things I have planned for this month.

The Halloween Season at Quill's House:

  1. Our decorations all come down from the loft first.  We get everything out and make sure it's still in good condition.  My husband and I talk about what we'd like to change this year, cool things we saw at the stores, where we'll trick-or-treat...basically spending this time getting really excited!
  2. Clean everything!  All the regular cobwebs come down from the corners of the house and the fake ones go up.  We paper our entire living room with dungeon-wall hangings so a great deal of time here is spent in taking down and packing away everything "normal" on the walls.  Everything gets dusted before storage and where it was is scrubbed.  After all, I like to keep a tidy dungeon!
  3. The dining room table is cleared of its usual stacks of books and half-finished projects and made pretty with candelabras, black candles, bottles of colored-water poisons and potions (that the local Johovah's Witnesses thought were real!), and a very dashing black and white curlicue tablecloth.
  4. Outside, this is the time for final harvest from the fields and garden.  I preserve the tradition that anything which is left in the ground after All Hallows belongs to the dead (or the Pooka, depending upon your heritage).  So I start by harvesting everything from the garden that I can use, digging out the rest and turning the soil with some fertilizer.  As soon as I can, I also go to my favorite spots in the woods for late-year herbs.  I should be able to get a few more items for you all in the shop after this hunt!
  5. Outside decorations are very specific.  One of our garden beds becomes a shallow grave surrounded by a barbed wire fence, the other a poison garden with my favorites marked by their folk names with black plant stakes, including Devil's Apple (Datura) and Deadly Nightshade (Belladonna).  Curtains of cobwebs, huge hairy spiders, vines of colored leaves, and a cauldron on a tripod in the middle of our yard...perfect!
  6. Now's about the time to sit down to the big task--costumes.  This is where I take orders for the kiddos final vote (since their "what I wanna be this year" answer changes several times in the weeks leading up to October) and get a good idea of how I'll tackle the challenge of two fun, meaningful, well-constructed adult costumes you can dance in for my husband and I.  I take everyone's measurements and write them down on their own sheet.  Then I make a sketch of what they'll look like in the finished product, and one of it deconstructed into its formative pieces.  After that, I get out the newspaper and Sharpie and start measuring out the pieces and labeling them.  I cut everything and stack each costume's bits separately, awaiting the fabric that makes it real!
  7. Shopping time!  I get to spend an hour or two cruising the fabric shop with my sketches, lists, and color combinations until I come up with just the right thing.  Or I just dig out the extra fabrics I have left from years past and see what I can salvage.  (Don't tell anybody, but the shirt to my lady Gnome costume from 2010 was a dyed bedsheet.  I think it might actually have once been my husband's Bacchus toga.  Shhh!)
  8. Now comes the time to sew, sew, sew.  I have worked it out--I can do each costume, no matter how simple or complex, no matter the size or style, in 3 days.  That's my limit.  I can't seem to finish early, but I won't finish late.  How 'bout that?
  9. Once the sewing is done, I fit everyone with their costume, adjust, and take lots of pictures to be sure I will still like it in a few days. (I'm neurotic like that)
  10. Now it's time to plan the rest of our Big Trip.  Every two years, we go to Salem for the Witches Ball.  The drive alone is over 6 hours, so it takes a lot of work to be sure the timing, packing, and organization back home are all on cue.  Plus there's trick-or-treating to orchestrate (each town has it's night, so we could possibly go out 2 or 3 times) and school functions, too.  *Whew!*
  11. Now for the organization of something a little more relaxing--food!  We like to have a feast on Halloween night with lots of theme foods that is still a functional dinner. With the kids eating candy until their teeth fall out, it's nice to get something good in them too.  What can I say--we're vegetarian.  So I like our veggie "walking tacos (a crushed snack-size bag of Doritos filled with Boca crumbles cooked with taco seasoning, plus lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese), a big bowl of guacamole piped with sour cream for a spider web and black olive spiders on top, and homemade "snake" stromboli stuffed with cheese and tons of vegetables, rolled, zig-zagged, and painted with food color stripes to look like a huge snake.  I like to try something new whenever I can and fill out the feast table enough to almost rival that of Yule!
  12. After the feast comes the ritual.  Much to arrange and memorize.  Since our family began the tradition with our coven many, many years ago, we have not let the flame die on repeating this same rite.  We celebrate happily, recite poetry, sing, tell stories.  But then we reinforce the circle, fume with special incenses, and call up the dead.  I take the honor of being the go-between for any assembled spirits and use divination tools to speak for them.  We all give offerings to our beloved dead and retell stories of those we have lost.  It's always slightly painful, but it's the kind of bittersweet experience that I believe is helping our kids to grow up with sensitivity and respect for loss.  Like many others who follow Earth religions, I don't believe that this virtue is stressed enough today.

Needless to say, our kids don't go to school on the first of November.  That is part of our festivities and I couldn't imagine trying to rush all of the holiday into a neat time-frame that ends by 7:30 pm.  Our decorations come back down, with the solemnity of a funeral, about a week or so into November.  Then they are stored back in their solitary coffins in the loft until next year.

But, as always, it will be a season not to be forgotten and it's details will be retold for years to come.

I Believe in Fairies 'Cause They've Got All My Stuff!

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels: ,

Tonight I went into my workroom and sat down at my desk to prepare for some spells I needed to cast.  And, yet again, an essential piece was missing.  This time, it was the spell itself I couldn't find--the protection talisman I was talking about last time.  I set to finding it right away.  I knew it didn't come from any book I own, so it had to be in one of my big binders of filed information.  I pulled them down and looked; it wasn't under Spells, nor Amulets and Talismans, nor Sachets and Conjure.  None of the other categories fit, so I put the binders up and checked my BoS.  Being the pseudo-librarian I am, this, too, is heavily indexed.  But nothing!  I thought that maybe it was a newer addition to the book and had escaped my labeling, but no.  With a frown, I slapped my BoS back on the shelf.  *Humph!*  I was starting to get mad.  It wasn't in the "To Be Filed" folder I keep by my desk.  It wasn't in any of the notebooks I have stacked on shelves or slid in drawers.

Alright, hand it over, lady!
This is, sadly, nothing new.  I often discover that there are missing ingredients, missing jars and bottles, missing papers, tools, ink...you name it.  While making a batch of Vesta's Marriage Repair candles for the shop, I noticed my Reconciliation oil running a little low.  So I got into my books to assemble the ingredients for making a fresh bottle.  I went through all the books I own that contain formulas, all the binders, notebooks, and files I have that might contain the recipe.  I even went online to see if anything I found there looked familiar.  And I still came up empty-handed.  Anybody out there know how to make Reconciliation oil?

On the same day I wrote about cleansing the house I had done a ridiculous dash through the house searching for my censer, my head waggling left and right trying desperately to spot it in some out-of-the-way place.  When I finally gave up, I found it--sitting on a canister of wishbones on my workroom desk.  Was it there all the time?  Was this someone's joke?  How could this happen?  How could it continue to happen?   

With how crazy it makes me (and how hilarious it must look when I go crazy), I can easily imagine that this is the work of little peoples unseen.  But there's more to it than that to make me blame the fairies.  Firstly, I don't go in for the tinkly-music and bubbles version of fairies.  But neither do I see them as buxom coquettes with corsets and butterfly wings.  My views are a little more complex, yet also a little less defined.

I guess you could say that, from experience, I think the fairies are tricky, sneaky, and irritating--but all without malice.  Like a 3 year-old.  And like a 3 year-old, they can make anything disappear into nothingness by simply turning your back on them for 60 seconds.  If that thing is shiny, they will snatch it.  If it's movable, they might break it.  If it's something you want, they will indubitably want it more and prove it.  With a 3 year-old, you need to either safeguard all your precious things by putting them up before little fingers enter the room, or hope that you can shift their interest to a safer object once they've got something expensive in their grasp.  (Note: this isn't some disgruntled babysitter or friend-of-a-new-mommy talking--I've lived through 2 little ones and had numerous magical items get dumped, crushed, and drooled on in their time)  But with fairies it may not be so simple.  They can get into anything and move your stuff wherever they choose.  If you need it now, then it's all the more fun.

I first had this trouble about 10 years ago when I incautiously invited the fairies living in my yard/garden into our home for the winter.  "Poor things!"  I thought.  "They'll be so cold out there!"  Who I should have been pitying was me, since it was from that time on that all manner of items routinely came up missing.  They would--maybe--be found a few days later in some odd place for which no obvious reason could be found.  The tradition continues to this day with the kids' toys, school papers, my husband's projects, and my magical wares.  I had been tempted to blame it all on that one incident so many years ago, but I'm more inclined now to see it as another example of the attention that magic-making here brings from other places.

Part of the purpose of casting a circle is to keep back all the disruptive influences that are gathered by the act of casting a spell.  But most witches (myself included, of course) cast smaller spells all the time without benefit of a circle.  Some form of magic is to be found in this house at least 3-4 times a day.  That's a lot of circles!  And even if I did protect myself each time, I would have to cast it around the house to keep these pesky little critters away from my belongings.  Our house isn't very big and yet that's not very likely to happen. 

So here's my plan to regain my missing objects and set some limits for the future:

  • Presents!  Everybody, from cranky relatives to immortal Gods, loves to get things. Offerings are a simple way to open up communication between two parties, no matter who they may be.  
  • Tricks of my own.  I read about a little girl who came up with an ingenious way of dealing with her fairy troubles.  She and her father place a strawberry on the table and then put a glass over it, like a tiny force-field.  Then they announce to the fairies that they can have the strawberry when the missing item is returned.  I can just imagine them wringing their pointy hands and biting their little lips.  Grrr!
  • Lure them back outside.  I think it must be the lateness of the year that draws them to our home's never-dull interior.  Outdoor activities and decorations soon-coming for Halloween may catch their eye better.
  • If all else fails, it's back to the old standard of salt, iron, and St. John's Wort.  If they won't hand it back nice, I'll get nasty!  It's not as though I've got no weaponry!
So here's hoping that tomorrow morning I receive a pile of goodies heaped at the end of my bed as though Santa had been here, not the least of which are my missing talisman instructions and Reconciliation oil formula.

About Me

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My name is Quill and I've been practicing witchcraft for the past 17 years. 10 of those years I've been reading tarot and teaching.  I own a shop on Etsy called Quill's Occult Supply (check it out at QuillsOccultSupply.Etsy.com) full of handmade ritual and decorative items, spell components, and wild picked herbs.

I love to work with my hands.  Magic is a tool to shape our lives, and I'm using magic to shape tools to shape magic.  Cosmic! 

I use a lot of my favorite things in my shop: herbs, candles, wood, fabric, paint, clay.  And I get to carve, burn, grind, mold, think, dream ... I'm in the perfect business!

I've written 3 manuscripts for publication (2 non-fiction and 1 fiction) and am an avid NaNo-er!  I and my husband run a local coven called Orbis Prosapia, and our children are growing up surrounded by magic, mythology, fairy tales, Earth worship, art, open discussion, music, and humor. 

In addition to working on Ex Penna about my experiences as a professional witch, I also write for Scenes from the Circle about being a coven leader. 

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