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.

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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