My Ancestor Altar

I was inspired to take photos of my ancestor altar by a post by Amoret. Apparently the ancestors wanted things to stay a bit in your imagination because the photos are blurry. Aren’t They a hoot?

By my best calculations I started this altar 15 years ago. I may be off a year, but because of where I had it set up at the other house I believe it was 2001. Eh, close enough, yes? It was my first ever altar (later were deity ones), and since it was put up it has remained up, from the last house to this house. It contents have grown over the years.

The first photo is the whole corner. The piece of furniture is a vanity from IIRC the 1930’s that I acquired along with some other pieces still in use in this house from my boss’ estate. He was the owner/boss at my first job that wasn’t babysitting.

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This second photo is dad and grandad casket flags, and underneath it is a framed saying about family. To the left is a mask my mum purchased in Mexico when she was in her early 20’s I think, so early 1950’s. To the right is a green ceramic cone that has sand in it and is used to burn incense.

On the wall to the left is a picture frame with some of mum’s ancestors and the Baron’s hat hung on a candle holder.

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The top of the vanity has a folded white tablecloth from my parents’ wedding gifts. This cloth is a recent addition, about a year ago. Candles, a chalice of water, cornmeal, photos in frames (with an always empty slot – for future me), anointing oil, my blessings oil blend for the candles, and the brass container housing graveyard dirt (thanks Mum!) are some of the items. There are various other mementos spread about on top and in the drawers underneath. I periodically change out some of the mementos on top.

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On the stool underneath are 2 casket crosses (mum’s and dad’s), 2 photo albums, and a genealogy book.

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Prayers, self-anointing, requests, water + candle blessings, thanks and reverence all occur here at various times. Do you have a place, altar, or practice for your ancestors? I’d love to hear about it!

It’s that time of year again – And I’m indulging 11 days early

Pumpkin and Wild Rice Soup for Samhain – from Penda aka MontiLee Stormer, horror write at large.

  • 2 cups cooked wild rice
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can (16-ounces) pumpkin (for thicker soup, use 2)
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Chives or parsley for garnish

The part that takes the longest for me is trying to figure out how much rice I want. I like my soups like stews – nice and thick and warming from the inside out. This means Math is involved so after trying to figure it out myself, I finally break down and find the husband who reminds me that Rice tends to double and to not go nuts. For more rice in this dish, I recommend 1 and one half cups (uncooked) wild rice made according to package directions. It’ll give you a soup you can chew, and if you’re like me you’ll be eating this while sitting outside feeding other people’s brats high doses of refined sugar. The chewing motion will keep you warm.

While your rice is cooking, you’ll be wanting to get all of the other bits of happiness together because as the rice finishes, you’ll be adding it to the soup. It’s all about synchronicity, which is perfect because if your halloween night is done right, the police will definitely get involved (see what I did there – I implied you’ll do something illegal!).

Chop your onion into pieces that could potentially be snorted by a toddler. You can use your best guess but if you have one around, the trial and error method works best. In a large Dutch Oven (or a big stew pot, whatever isn’t currently rendering baby fat) melt the butter and sauté the onions. You’ll want your onions the color of a three-day old scab, which is to say lightly brown and a bit translucent. Done over medium heat (because the husband put a regulator on the knobs due to “The Incident”) it should take about 15 minutes, about half the cooking time of the rice.

Drown your onions in chicken broth. You can use vegetable broth, but as it’s a harvest holiday, somewhere along the line an animal should have given its life. To tease the onions into thinking they may be rescued, drop in the pumpkin by spoonfuls and chuckle to yourself at the folly of hope. Create your own maelstrom with several good stirs to drive home the finality. Cover and simmer another 15 minutes. To the surviving onions it’ll be like turning off the sun.

Now is a good time to check on your rice.  I don’t know about you, but my rice likes to burn itself to the bottom of the pot. I think it’s an emo-thing as they can’t cut themselves, but they can be all angsty and affect the “blacker-than-thou” bit to your cookware if you don’t keep an eye on them.

For the rice that has chosen to go on and become productive members of society, it may  be added to the pumkiny broth. There will be no surviving onions at this point, and the rice will use this time to claim the corpses for their God – which will be you. Sprinkle upon them white pepper to show you accept their tribute. Cover once more and give everything in the pot a chance to consummate their new relationships. If their anything like my last boyfriend, 10 minutes should be more than enough time. Stirring in the cream is like wrapping a glass in a napkin, stamping on it and yelling “Mazel-tov!” as the happiness in the pot is just that great. Bring everything to one final boil and serve sprinkled with chives or parsley, like the funeral wreaths upon the sea in memory of the fallen onions.

(Serves 8-10)

What to do, what to do

I tend to side-eye myself (I use a mirror?) when coincidences pop up and I think, “aha! Connection! Intelligent Universe!” I seem to give more grace to other folks’ coincidences than to my own. Now, I do believe some things are only coincidence, and other things not, and the latter is more common as a rule.

I don’t jump to Reason It’s Written in Destiny™ straight off. I wait to see if anything else shows up. At times I feel a push to do a thing, with no known reason for the pushing to be as hard and urgent as it feels. Take for instance collecting the moon water at the ocean last week. I mean sure – witchywoohoo why not? But it felt like a mandate more than a desire. I’ve learned not to question so much and just do in those situations, and allow myself to wonder later when I’ll know why.


Yesterday I was told stories by a woman of her visit to Standing Rock to deliver supplies to the water protectors there. I’m not going to tell her stories here, they are hers to tell in her own blog. She talked of elders reskilling tribal members in the old ways of their traditions: herbs, and medicines, and blessings – especially the water blessings with wonderful details. There was a story of moondancers and a water blessing that reminded me much of the Waters of the World spell in my own tradition and we talked about this.

My friend had just stopped for the night, a pitstop on her way back home. As she thanked me for the couch of hospitality she reached into her car and pulled out a bit of sage from Standing Rock. She handed it to me as a thank you. I was touched. As I held that sage I thought of the moondancers and their water blessing. I thought of the moonwater I’d collected on a whim. I didn’t even side-eye myself, I just smiled.

These 3 things need to be put together as a working for the waters and the protectors. They have a purpose beyond the obvious. Mystery – how it arrives, what it holds, and what is released as it manifests is a big part of the draw to my path. What to do with these 3 things remains to be discovered, but once done I will again feel Mystery’s Touch. May I never tire of it.

“Breaths” – Sweet Honey in The Rock

 

Poem by Birago Diop; Music by Ysaye Maria Barnwell © 1980

listen more often to things than to beings
listen more often to things than to beings

tis the ancestors breath when the fire’s voice is heard
tis the ancestors breath in the voice of the water

those who have died have never, never left
the Dead are not under the earth

they are in the rustling trees, they are in the groaning woods
they are in the crying grass, they are in the moaning rocks

the Dead are not under the earth

so listen more often to things than to beings
listen more often to things than to beings

tis the ancestors breath when the fire’s voice is heard
tis the ancestors breath in the voice of the water

those who have died have never, never left
the Dead have a pact with the living

they are in the woman’s breast
they are in the wailing child

they are with us in the home
they are with us in the crowd

the Dead have a pact with the living

so listen more often to things than to beings
listen more often to things than to beings

tis the ancestors breath when the fire’s voice is heard
tis the ancestors breath in the voice of the water

listen more often to things than to beings
listen more often to things than to beings

tis the ancestors breath when the fire’s voice is heard
tis the ancestors breath in the voice of the water

The downticket shifts the upticket – On November 8th vote with that in mind

I’m not saying the Presidential election isn’t important, but it isn’t everything. And it isn’t the thing that determines the shift of the country’s consciousness. Economics are not the only thing that don’t trickle down. This year the newly elected President knows they get bonus power with at least one Supreme Court Justice appointed, but that is not the usual case. So vote for whoever you please for the Oval Office. (Except not Trump.)

Back towards my point – one of the few things I think our system does right is the power being divided into three groups. So while the Executive branch is important, it is less important than the other 2 in many ways. For one, it has term limits. I understand why the SCOTUS doesn’t. If every sitting President could switch out the justices then either laws would be flipped every few years or nothing would get down as they made decisions vying to be re-appointed. Ugh. But Congress? Those people need term limits and an end to lifetime benefits like health insurance. It should end when they leave office. And their pension should reflect the number of years they held office. Just like the rest of us. Nothing makes you care like being one of the people held hostage by your decisions. In the meantime, without term limits, those folks have long-term entrenched power and if we want different people in there we have to put them there.

OK – my actual point. Local and state elections – who we vote for matters more than who we vote for for President. Congresscritters usually filter up from state and local governments. Presidential candidates come almost exclusively from Congress and state governments. If we want different candidates for President, we must put different candidates in office downticket. That’s where our vote truly matters. That’s where the change begins. If we help put someone in office who turns out to be vile, we need to work to unseat them. Whenever possible, pick candidates who are for term limits for Congress. That forever candidate and seat holder is dangerous to public welfare. Once ensnared in the political machine, they spend most of their time and decision making energy on staying there, rather than doing what is best for citizens.

Change from the ground up – that’s how I vote, in every election. I encourage you to do the same.

Black Moon : One, Two, Three, Four

Reblog: 2nd dark moon for justice.

Steel Kachinas

…Tell me what are we fighting for?

two-toweringYes, the second new moon of the month, the “black moon” rose invisibly this morning — lost in the rosy first rays of the sun.  (No, ABC, you twits, it will not rise “tonight” — new moons rise in the dawn, one reason they are invisible in the sun’s glare – also because the bright reflective side is facing the sun, not earth!)  As I promised, I rose, and prepared to try to “change reality in accord with my Will.”  This new moon is in the sign Libra — the scales.  You know, like Lady Justice allegedly holds?  Does the toll of black bodies not yet outweigh white fears and misperceptions to balance those scales?

I bathed, watching steam rise in the unheated September air.  I dressed in black, red, and white — colors I often choose for magical work, but more than…

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