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The Mote of History: Dusting as We Go

 

I volunteered for a few hours today at a local historic home, the Smith-McDowell House. It is set up with rooms indicative of the history of the family—a local and prominent one—and they decorate lavishly for Christmas. My young friend Jenna and I had the 1870s bedroom upstairs. There were two tubs full of décor and lots of photos to show us what went where.

We wore white cotton gloves to protect the artifacts and we squinted at the photos to decide exactly which Father Christmas went where. We moved some china vases into the deep window ledge as a staging area and I noticed how dusty it was. On my next trip downstairs, I asked for a dusting cloth so that I could dust as we went. I really fancied dusting the chamber pot and the wash basin and pitcher.

One of my pet peeves is to go to a museum and see dust, but I understand that most of these places are understaffed or staffed by volunteers, so there are often more pressing matters than whether or not there’s a bit of dust on the marble table. (I often wish I could take a dustcloth with me and help just a bit. When we went to George Washington’s nice place at Mount Vernon several years ago, I hung out in the walled garden for so long, they let me help with the potato digging. I helped with gardening in several places in Britain over the years. Earning my keep, a tiny bit. Feeling as though I belong to that slice of time, this mote of history.)

Microcosm, macrocosm. As I dodged around the young Twins who were setting up the Spiderweb Game in the corner of the room, I also considered what it meant to dust as you go. Why is it so hard for me to tackle a project in increments, a bite at a time? My preference since a mostly-feral child has been to bite off more that I can possibly chew. And then chew it and swallow it, and move on to the next project.

I am a biter and a swallower. And I suspect it is my nature to be so.

Looking at the coming fourteen months, I long to bite more things—fiddle-playing, singing, writing, teaching. I want to visit the places I love—Madron and Carlisle, Slane and Yorkshire, Marshall and Folly Beach—and I want to do that with the people I love.

Bite, chew, swallow.

And just a bit of dusting as I go.

 

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What I’ll Be Doing For The Rest of the Year

o dear…

 

So…today I had brunch with my friends Mia and John, and my work-wife, Star.  Mia asked me if I had posted where I’ll be appearing for the rest of the year and I looked at her blankly. Recovering what passes for my composure these days, I allowed as how I probably should do that. Somehow I don’t have a sense that people want to know such things but Mia assures me some may very well.  With thanks to her for her encouragement, here’s where you may see me in the next six months. 

Hang on to your knickers.

June 22-25, Wisteria, Ohio

Midsummer Festival with a focus on primitive skills. Teaching traditional Appalachian herbal healing.

June 28, Ashe County Public Library

A talk on Appalachian folkways with a focus on folk magic

July 7-16, Summerland Festival, Wisconsin

Teaching some stuff, doing some ritual, hanging with friends

July 20-23, Mystic South Conference, Hotlanta, Georgia

Headliner: which means teaching some classes. I will also present an academic paper on my recent research on the roots of Appalachian folk magic. And, shockingly, I will be leading an early morning tai chi class. I know, right?

September 9-10, Organic Growers School, Asheville, NC

Teaching a seminar on Appalachian folkways

September 15-17, Delaware

Delmarva Pagan Pride (and a class at a local shop the night before TBA)

September 22-23, Piedmont Pagan Pride

Teaching and talking; class the evening before (TBA)

October 5-8, Calderafest, somewhere in Georgia

Huge Pagan music festival that you shouldn’t miss; I’m just going to goof off but will be singing in the choir for the performance of Brian Henke’s Raven King

October 13-15  Southeast Wise Women’s Herbal Conference, Swannanoa, NC

Stuff

October 26-29, Florida Pagan Gathering Samhain Festival

Headlining: teaching, ritualing

November 2-5, FaerieCon, Hunt Valley, Maryland

Teaching, dressing up like a faery, drinking to excess

I think that’s it.  I’ll be helping to train new priestesses for Mother Grove Goddess Temple and continuing my clergy work there, of course.  I plan to have my new book–Earth Works: Eight Ceremonies for a Changing Planet–off to the editor by Lughnasadh. So a new book by year’s end, if all goes well. Plus gardening, canning, teaching locally, reading tarot. You know..the stuff one does when living a rich and juicy life.

Come see me at one or more of these things. I’d love to see you.

Oh!  And witchery. Lots and lots of witchery.

 

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Whither then? I Cannot Say

The books have arrived.  I have three boxes of “Embracing Willendorf” that constitute the pre-publication sales (thanks to all who did that–it’s really helpful). I have a bunch of labels and a couple of good pens and will spend the afternoon inscribing books and preparing them for shipping.

A lovely way to spend a potentially rainy Appalachian afternoon.

The book party was announced a couple of weeks ago.  My friends at Asheville Raven and Crone are hosting a celebration of the new book on Saturday, May 27 at 6PM. I’ll talk a little about why I wrote this book and read some of the jucier parts.  And sign the books that folks buy. Usual stuff. I’m planning to bring a rather nice bottle of champagne, with which to toast Absent Friends.

I’m off next week to celebrate Beltane a little more.  A gaggle of Mother Gravians are going up 81 to middle Virginia for Blue Ridge Beltane.   You can click on the romantic Hares below to go to the Event Page on Facebook–

 

I’m sending in class proposals for Wisteria’s Midsummer event and will let you know if they decide to bring me in for that.  Camping in the heat again–I didn’t do well at Pagan Spirit Gathering last year. But we’ll see how I do when I have less to get done and it isn’t a nine day event.

Many more festivals and appearances coming up plus more writing. Ritual, writing and renewal–I am counting on these things to see me into the depths of this Tower Time and to keep me relatively sane.

Per ardua ad terra! (And possibly more later.)

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Embracing Willendorf–Free Willi!

Aiaiaiai!

The proof for my new book–Embracing Willendorf–has been in my hands since Monday evening and the first bulk order has been placed by the publisher, Smith Bridge Press.

You can order it through the publisher’s website, by clicking on the roses below–

 

 

Oh. My. Gosh.

I returned from two weeks of Beltane bliss on Monday afternoon and have been spinning plates like a magician since then. It’s been grand.

Book in hand–still breathless from the Florida Pagan Gathering, the recording sessions in Marietta and Beltain at Our Haven amongst the floods of Indiana–I turned to one of my favorite things–a new online class. It took a couple of days to coordinate the email addresses but the first class of six went out today and I’ve gotten some good feedback already.

So grateful.

Monday was sweet. It began when I woke up in a real bed and got to spend time with my old, dear, beautiful friend Gabrielle who had given me a bed for the night, after weeks of traveling. After that I got to have lunch with my wonderful daughter (whose birthday was yesterday) at a place called Amelie’s.  I love that kid and I also like her. A lot.

Now I’m tweaking three Beltane rituals for this weekend and also have to start serious planning for Blue Ridge Beltane in a couple of weeks.

And there’s gardening to do–the annual herb sale starts tomorrow.

Are you breathless yet? 

Good.

Reach out right now and grab all the life you can. Play and love and laugh like a mad thing.

The time is now.

Here’s what I posted on Facebook on May the First.  You may ignore the time code and do it tomorrow morning.

        Say Her name.

        This morning, as you wash your face in dew and wreathe your head in flowers, know this–you are    not separate from the earth nor from the Ancestors who made you. You carry them in your cells like refreshing streams of water. This day, this perfect day, honor Those whose names have been covered in mist, whose deeds have been falsely reported. Dance the ring with ancient outcasts tonight and spare a thought for your own immortality. Merry Beltane, my lovers! Revel like it’s 999! Sumer is i-cumen in!

 

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My Wandering Uterus

 

Was it only yesterday that we were riffing on Facebook about a very interesting story about the mediaeval and Victorian idea of the wandering uterus?  I remarked that “My Wandering Uterus” would be a grand name for a band or a book. Maybe an anthology of travel writing by women.  In comes the marvy Kate Laity–Encourager of All Things Shenanigan–and now we’re doing an anthology of travel writing by women called “My Wandering Uterus.” You can click of the roses above to see the Call for Submissions.  And then, then can send in some of your own writing about your experiences as a Traveling Uterati.

Here’s a link to that inspiring article–

 

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What I Do When I’m Not Here

This past weekend was full and rather glorious. I am feeling quite full of myself and am in danger of getting The Big Head. (You Southerners will understand that.)

It started with an interview on the podcast The Desperate House Witches on Friday evening. We talked about everything. Including what attracts more flies and it is neither honey nor vinegar.  You can link to that on the gazing ball below.

I spent all day Saturday at a New Age psychic and healing expo in Hendersonville.  I saw lots of friends, gave a talk on Appalachian healing and even sold a few books.  I came back to Asheville to meet a friend who is using an interview with me as part of her Master’s project.  Becky Beyer and I had a good time and decided we need some fancy recording equipment our ownselves. So, if you have some of that to donate to a worthy cause–documenting traditional Appalachian folkways–send me an email!

Sunday saw me leading morning ritual at Mother Grove Goddess Temple, meeting with a tarot client and then working in the WECAN community garden with a bunch of great volunteers from the Community Garden Network.

And here’s what happened today to be the icing on the cake.  I went over to the mall to the big bookstore there. There’s an article in this month’s National Geographic Traveler magazine about Asheville and I am one of the people they interviewed…so I am in that magazine. Wowser.  I got one and then turned to leave the counter and saw a sweet display of my book. 

I am feeling right proper tonight. Hope you are, too.

 

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Spinning. A Bit.

Gosh, I wish this was about me spinning all that pretty wool into yarn.  Yeah, all that wool in the bag just over there–wool that came from my sheep-friend, Monkey Boy.  Well, maybe it did. It’s been in that bag since shearing season last year.  To be honest, I did spin one big hank of it before summer came and it got to hot to mess around with wool. Plus I began traveling and…

very, very yonder

The good news is that my brilliant and relentless editor Annie Sarac has the text for my new book.  She is poring over it, making it sensible, making it work.  You’ll be able to pre-order it in a couple of weeks–at least that’s my plan.

I went to Pantheacon where I was on a panel talking about death, but where I didn’t teach. I don’t understand Pantheacon.  I’ve been there twice now and still don’t quite get it.  We go through this weird raffle-thing to get a room.  I taught one class last year and it was full-to-overflowing but none of the classes I submitted were picked for this year.  But I went with my friend Maeve and–I had fun.  Go figure.

My friend, the fabulous guitarist Brian Henke, came to Asheville at the beginning of March and played a concert on the night of my birthday.  I enjoyed showing him my town and hearing the music from his new album, the Raven King. We’ll be traveling to some festivals together this summer–Florida Pagan Gathering, Our Haven, Summerland. He and I are working on a couple of projects together. He’s a very fun feller.

 

The Henke

Then Star and I wandered up to Hunt Valley for the Sacred Space conference, where I taught three classes and sold a few books. But mostly I spent time with a bunch of people I love and respect, which is a great combination. I go there every couple of years and it is always inspiring.

RR Rose Carbinela doctored this photo (original by Shelly Nixon) and gave it to me at the conference. Sparkly.

I’ve started work on my next book “Old Wild Magic of the Motherlands” and I’m getting ready to do an online class with the same title.  You’ll be able to find that offering, as well as a chance to pre-order “Embracing Willendorf,” here on the website in a couple of days.

And now, it is gardening season–finally–in the southern highlands of Appalachia. And did I mention I’m renovating a house?  And singing with a little band?

No?

I’ll talk about that next time.

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An Evening of Shakespeare

this earth, this realm

I’m sure I should be exhorting you, gentle reader, to ground yourself and set strong intentions for this new year.  But better folk than I are spending so many words on doing so that it seems hardly worth the effort to nag you who are so thoroughly chided to carpe annum.

Besides, I am resting up during this Mercury retrograde time and weary from my year of travel, I am looking for inspiration of my own.  So Shakespeare.  I love Shakespeare and have been reading his words since I was about 10. My mother was a fan and quoted some of the best bits when I was very young indeed.

I find comfort, solace and inspiration in the plays and the poems, and have been fortunate in my life to play many roles in these familiar works.  When the times in which we live offer us enormous challenges–personal as well as civic–I have always found answers in the Riverside Shakespeare, read aloud in a silent room, read silently in company.

When faced with incompetent leaders, can we not turn to the War of the Roses and visit again the victories of Henry V torn to pieces by the lesser monarchs that followed him?  Crazy leaders? Mad in their rage? There is Lear for that.

And Richard II, which I am watching now, yields this, seemingly about the nation in which I am a citizen… “This dear, dear land is now leased out…”

But I began the evening with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” All my work of late with the Fair Folk, with the Gentry–how right it feels to see the fey-haunted forests beset by asses and changlings and fumblingly-bad actors!  And how perfect for the times that are our times today. So I am comforting myself with Shakespeare tonight.

What are the things–the words, the beings, the sounds–that nourish and repair your soul in times that clang with chaos?