Sunday, December 26, 2010

Yule Fun :)

I gotta say that the dark of winter usually brings me down. But this year hasn't been too bad. I was actually lucky enough to attend three Yule events! Yay!

Doug led the Yule service for Turning Circle. He did a sort of dance-battle interpretation of the Oak/Holly conflict. I red the Fire quarter call. It was actually our best-attended service. 21-people came!

Then, the next day, we got invited to the Yule party hosted by Pale Moon Wolf coven. It wasn't a formal service, but it sure was a nice party.

Yule Part Three was this morning, as the Unitarian church in Columbia invited us to lead their worship service. I think the UU's liked the service.

Amazingly enough, when I visited my family for Christmas dinner, I was actually not called a Satanist -- for a change. So it wasn't too bad of a Yule :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Well... It is only a week until the winter solstice. I'll be pretty happy when the days start getting longer again. As it is, it's dark when I leave for work and it's dark by the time I get home from work. Ugh.

I'm happy to say, however, that my mom is alive for another Yule. She was given six months to live -- almost three years ago. Her health is quite bad, but it seems like her lung disease is at least stabilized. For that, I am grateful to the universe.

Doug is leading the Yule service at Turning Circle this Friday. I'm pretty excited about that. Doug is pretty good at writing rituals.

Friday, December 3, 2010


I am really happy that Doug was able to get a new kitten. He’s an all-black little furball that is so tiny that he can fit into a coffee cup. He’s very itty-bitty!

So far, Lola the Dog seems to like the kitten (names Moriarty). Scrunchie the Cat mostly just hisses at the new critter. But I’m sure Scrunchie will get used to Moriarty’s presence after a while.

Of course, every witch needs a black cat :)


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Soul Freezing!

Ok... Maybe it's not actually cold enough to actually freeze souls, but this butterfly is a warm weather creature! Today was the first day it seemed actually wintery. It was 32 degrees and the house was pretty cold.

Why was the house cold? Well, the unregulated monopoly energy company raised rates almost three-fold between 2006 and 2008. So it basically costs $30/day to heat the house. Today was the first day I turned the heat on. I had been tolerating 45-degree weather. But this morning was just too cold.

The guy who owns the power company gave himself a $40 million bonus in 2008. Nice.

When I retire, I want to move somewhere warm.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Chilly in Erie

Doug (my spouse) and I visited his mom for Thanksgiving this week. She lives in Erie, PA. I really like where she lives. Her house is only a block away from a really beautiful lake that is lined with little trees. In the summer, there’s a rental store where one can rent a canoe and putter around on the lake. Even in winter, there are ducks that swim around on the surface.

Of course, in winter, the place looks pretty desolate. My mother-in-law’s house is close enough to the Great Lakes that she gets the dreaded “lake effects snow” for weeks on end. Oddly enough, this snow doesn’t really pile up. It’s a thin flurry that falls from the sky all day and all night. It’s quite pretty to look at.


My guess is that the ring of trees are a recent phenomenon, since they all look pretty small. I’m sure that it’ll be pretty impressive in another decade or so.


It’s sort of hard to do a real power-walk in weather like this. It’s 30 degrees outside, windy, and overcast. I wore my heaviest sweater and my heaviest coat (the full length insulated leather trench coat that looks like something out of the movie “Shaft”) and I was freezing cold within a minute after leaving the house. Egads! I don’t know how the ducks could take it, but I know that I couldn’t!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunlit Late Autumn Walk

It’s amazing what two weeks will do when the seasons change. The last time I visited my favorite hiking trail, most of the trees still had remnants of amber and red foliage. Today, it looked downright wintery. It was 51 degrees, sunny and faintly breezy. It was a perfect late November day.


While the hiking trail is usually packed full of joggers and bicyclists in the summer, I had the trail almost all to myself today. I saw another human being maybe once every fifteen minutes or so, and they were all on bikes and quickly whizzed by. The rest of the time, I had some very peaceful and much-needed solitude.


The water in the little streams are crystal clear and ice cold at this time of year. There are no buzzing mosquitoes or gnats. While I appreciate their vital role in the ecosystem, it’s nice to have a break every once in a while. I know that when spring returns, the insects will return too – and that is as it should be. Today, the trail was nearly silent except for my own footsteps, the breeze blowing through leafless trees, and the occasional call of a lone bird somewhere. I think we all need silence sometimes. I am glad that my cell phone doesn’t work on the trail.


I don’t actually know what these berries are (shame on me for being a Wiccan and knowing absolutely nothing about herbalism). But they are quite festive looking. They made for a nice contrast against the browns of Autumn. I am hoping that the Third Degree priest who wants to continue me Wiccan education will eventually teach me about plants and herbs. I’d like that.


The shadows at this time of year are pretty long even at mid-day (this was taken around 1:40 PM). There’s a slightly orange tint to the sun as we approach the Winter Solstice. It’s pretty .


Water drips over this boulder year round. There are five such rock structures in the first four miles of the NCR trail. I really like how the combination of sun, stone, and water makes for a miniature ecosystem in its own right. Life seems to find a way.


The tree and vines here just struck me as being delightfully sculptural.

It’s good to be able to find life and beauty in every season. This is the time where most of the life-energy returns to the earth. This is the time of shadow. But even in the looming darkness and the impending winter, life continues. Blessed be.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Being forgotten

It is a terrible thing to be forgotten. I have few friends. I am strange enough and different enough that I'm not very likable. I wish that was not true. But I don't really socialize well. I want to be able to, but I always fail. I fail badly. I am a very defective person. Other people don't like to be around defective people. And so I am forgotten.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Autumn Stones

One of the many wonderful things about the Wiccan/Pagan path is the ability to sense the inherent energy of the ecology. It is interesting to feel the shift in the flow of life energy as I walked ten miles on the NCR trail today. It was very quiet today. Unlike the height of summer, I heard only a few birds and the sounds of insects were sparse and slow. Most of the trees have shed their leaves. A handful have foliage of deep red that is rapidly turning brown. The path was full of dry leaves that rustled in the brisk wind. Though the trees looked dead, I knew that was not so. I could feel the quiet, subdued energy of the trees and knew that they were slumbering but not deceased.

The sun does not rise as high in the sky at this time of year. We are well past Mabon (autumnal equinox) and Samhain has come and gone. We are nearly to winter now. The path was cast in shadow for most of my ten-mile hike. It seemed highly appropriate that it should be so. We are in the darkest quarter of the year (Samhain through Imbolc). But without the darkness, how can we appreciate the light?

Since the foliage has thinned, I was able to take some pictures of a few very pretty rock formations. I like the big stones. Most of them seem to be platforms for other kinds of life -- moss, lichens, and even small trees. Rocks are often underrated.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Peace with the Dead

I had the opportunity to attend two Samhain services this year. The first, at Turning Circle, was a ritual that I co-officiated. The second was by invitation from a friend in the Craft. There is a different kind of energy at this time of year. It's not quite winter. The days are getting very short, very quickly. I can feel the thinness of the Veil.

I made peace with the dead years ago. There are no spirits that wish me harm. I am grateful.

I think of my stepfather. He was much of what my biological father was not. He could not take the place of what my dad should have been, but he at least treated me with kindness and was often friendly. He had a generosity of spirit. He gave me a beat up 1981 Chevette when I had no car and was in danger of losing my job (this was in 1997). He was better family than my blood kin.

He was not a healthy person. He died of heart disease at age 48. He worked until the day he died. He lived his life with courage and a sense of duty. It was a privilege to know him.

Over the years, I have made peace with the dead. It always comes down to a final dream about the deceased in which the deceased says goodbye. It is always the last contact. I know it has to be that way. The spirits must continue their journeys just as I must continue mine. Perhaps it will be that my stepfather and I might meet again. But I am in no hurry to cross the Veil. I do not fear death, but I am grateful for life.

To Charles, Frasier, Jewell, Harold, Gus, Elaine, and Elanor: Thank you for the light you gave when you were with us. We remember you. May the Goddess guide your paths in the Summerland. Blessed be.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Odd Decor

I have to admit... The decor at the Paper Moon Diner is as strange as it gets. There's this oddity in the front. Inside, there are severed doll heads used as decorations. There was also a huge number of Pez dispensers on display as well. Very interesting. Oh... The food was pretty good :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Autumn Walk

In Baltimore, it'usually overcast on most autumn days. Today, however, I lucked out. It was sunny, breezy, and cool. It was everything an autumn evening should be. In my travels, I found an odd-looking green fruit-like thing on the side of the road. I took a picture of it since it was decidedly weird-looking. Very exciting! I'm also very happy about the number of people who planted sunflowers this year. I like sunflowers quite a bit :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mini Vacation

Sometimes it's nice to go on a mini-vacation. For the cash strapped district court drone, a weekend at Busch Gardens fit the bill. We actually did two things: a Pirate Golf and the Busch Gardens theme park.

  • Pirate Golf

It was one of the more awesome mini-golf experiences. I really liked the decor and the landscaping. I don't play a lot of mini-golf, but it's always fun when I do play. I scored 54 on an 18-hole course. Tiger Woods has nothing to worry about, heh heh.

Busch Gardens
The place was packed to the gills, so we didn't actually got to go on that many rides. Fortunately, we did get to ride the train and the river boat. It's haunted house month at Busch Gardens so they had five haunted attractions. Doug had the foresight to purchase a VIP pass for the haunted houses. So between 6:00pm and 10:00pm, we had the services of a tour guide and special cards that let us go to the front of the line. That was a good thing, since the standard lines were three hours each!

I was thrilled to learn that our tour guide was also a witch. Yay! She was pretty knowledgeable about the ecological status of the park. Apparently Busch Gardens recycles about 90% of the paper and plastic used at the park. They upgraded the riverboat from diesel to battery power and upgraded the train from diesel to propane. Very green!

We also got to see Monster Stomp and Franken Rock (mini-musicals). It was super-cool. :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010


There's something about creating sacred space for a ritual that's hard to put into words. I feel loved when I pray to the Goddess and God. It's a different kind of energy in autumn compared to summer. Samhain is a little more than two weeks away. It's the Wiccan new year (liturgically) and is the day when the Veil between the physical and spirit world is the thinnest. Samhain is on the opposite end of the Great Wheel from Beltain. Whereas Beltain affirms life, Samhain recognizes death and is a time to honor the dead.

As Samhain approaches, I think of my grandfather on my mom's side (George) and I think of my mom's second husband (Charles). George fought in WWII in the Pacific Fleet. He was one of the very few blood relatives who seemed to love me unconditionally. Charles, my stepfather, was a much kinder person than my biological father. They both died sooner than they should have. My grandfather was exposed to a lot of radiation during the war. My stepfather had heart disease.

I used to dream of them, but the dreams eventually stopped. Perhaps they have begun new lives. I do not know.


I was very lucky today in that the sky was clear at the moment of sunrise this morning. Oddly enough, the sun was just crossing the horizon at the exact moment I rolled into the parking lot at work. Autumn is a really great time of year. As I drove to work, the streetlights were just beginning to wink out. The sky in the east was lined with pink and orange. Most of the trees are now showing fall colors of yellow and orange-red. It was a pretty sight to behold.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

NCR Trail

The NCR trail used to be a railroad line once upon a time and now it is a hiking/biking trail that goes from Timonium (MD) to York (PA). It very pretty in autumn now that the leaves are turning from green to amber and the sky is bright blue instead of hazy white. When I look to the sky, it's really obvious that the solstice is long past. At high noon, the sun looked like it was at a 45 degree position above the horizon instead of being directly overhead.

One of my favorite spots in the trail is where there is a huge rock formation in which small trees manage to somehow grow directly out of the rocks. The surfaces always dribble pure, clear water seemingly year round.

I also took a picture of the oddity I call the "levitating log". When you see it, you'll understand why.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Green Pursuits

So... Sometimes I take the time to evaluate my level of commitment to the ecology. Reverence for nature is a central aspect of Wicca, and I take it pretty seriously. But I think there is always room for improvement.

  • Things I do right:

I recycle bottles, cans, and cardboard. Doug and I both drive very fuel efficient vehicles (his car gets 32 MPG and mine gets 51 MPG). I walk to the grocery store, pharmacy, and post office instead of driving. I only have lights on in rooms I am using. Our computers are laptops instead of desktops (18 watts vs 200 watts). In summer, we only have AC on in rooms we are using. In winter, we set the heat in the 59-62 degree range. We use CFL bulbs for illumination (12w vs 75w). At work, I developed a printing method that consumes 2/3 less paper. Doug carpools to work with a coworker (which essentially doubles his effective gas mileage since only one car is being used instead of two).

  • Things I am not doing but would like to do:

I'd love to have solar panels on the house, but they are $20,000 and there's no way Doug and I could afford it. I can do better at remembering to bring reusable grocery bags when shopping (instead of the throwaway flimsy plastic bags). I could do a better job remembering to completely unplug seldom-used appliances (so as to avoid the "vampire" effect in which unused gadgets continue to draw power even when not turned on). I spend way too much time in the shower in the morning (I have this irrational fear about smelling bad but I don't think I ever actually smell bad. I just fear such a thing.)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Creatures of Stone

It was pretty much the perfect day for an after-work walk.The sky sort of had a "ripple" effect that one only sees in autumn. It was very pretty. I randomly discovered that Johns Hopkins University has a sculpture garden in the middle of the campus. I can tell you from direct observation that JHU is certainly better maintained than the rest of the city. The sculpture garden had about a dozen stone animals of all kinds. I took pictures of the three I liked the best.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Late Bloomers

I think it's safe to say that the days of 100 degrees are gone for a while. I do like summer, but every season has its time, and it's time to move on. It's been a very hard summer for my favorite Verdant Americans. In Baltimore, we had weeks and weeks where it didn't rain and the temperature broke 100 degrees. It was bad enough this year that the trees did something I've never seen before. The leaves turned dead-brown around the edges but remained green in the middle. I don't think that's a very good sign.

I'm actually glad that it's been raining so much lately. There have been some new flowers that bloomed lately in response to the recent precipitation.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Jason's Woods

No... this is not a woodland picture today, hee hee. Doug and I have a seasonal hobby every October that involves visiting some of the haunted house exhibits in south central Pennsylvania. Of course, "haunted house" is a relative term, since these exhibits aren't where anyone died grisly deaths. They're cheesy, carnival-like places where the staff dresses up like zombies and ghouls, and there the customers stagger around darkened mazes and barns converted into realms of the macabre. It's pretty cool stuff.

So, Jason's Woods had a whole bunch of neat stuff. There was "Barn of Terror", "Lost in the Woods", "Creepy Asylum", and a hay ride that trundled through a series of gruesome tableaux.Tragically, there was a strict ban on photography. Suffice it to say, it was a lot of fun.

As a secular holiday, I think Halloween is a pretty healthy holiday. It allows people to examine their own dark sides as well as provide an outlet for the normal human fascination with death and the macabre. I actually enjoy Halloween much more than Christmas (which has become a secular holiday for all intents and purposes). Just about everyone gets stressed out about Christmas, but everyone enjoys Halloween. :)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Hidden Path

So... Baltimore being the odd city that it is, one has to walk less than a mile to encounter significant greenery. So, I discovered a pretty neat tree-lined path that doesn't actually seem to go anywhere. The only way to access it is to climb down a hill. It runs parallel to Keswick Avenue. I'm not sure why this path is here, but it is rather pretty :)

Friday, October 1, 2010


After 60+ hours of continuous rain, I was greeted to a sunny afternoon after I got off work today. I really like the period between Mabon and Samhain. It's basically the most temperate six weeks of the year. The trees have not yet started changing colors yet,but there's a feeling that they are in the process of winding down for the winter. It's a thing that can be sensed but not yet seen.

Despite living in a run-down, crime-ridden, rat-infested metropolis, I've found that if I walk about a mile away, I can start encountering some very interesting old trees. Some of them are now protected by the City of Baltimore with signs that read "Specimen tree,. Do not disturb". This is a positive development!