Knowing When to Pause.

The days have been filled with avoiding the heat. The earth here is parched and the grasses are dying. You can smell the deep tang of the invasive blackberries in the midday sun, mingling with the loam of the forest, heated pine resin and the sweetness of dried grasses. Briar path days are upon us. I've taken pity on my neighbors dehydrated rose bushes (they've moved out and are gone) and am currently watering them. The plants feel glad. I've noticed the black (Br'er) rabbit family and local hares only come out to graze at dawn and dusk, avoiding the heat. It almost feels as if my little area is holding it's breath for a bout of rain, I think it really is.

There's an odd feeling of burn out I've been dealing with. I don't know if it's burn out, per-say. But I feel like disappearing somewhere for a little while, disconnecting from the internet and stopping the flow of communications. That need to isolate yourself and recharge so you can reconnect. It's hard when you have a lot of real life obligations, when you simply can't turn off the internet and you feel that never ending nagging persistence to be super productive, to get shit done and be awesome consistently, nonstop. Realizing when to pause can be difficult. Knowing when you're just not going to be productive anymore can be hard to recognize sometimes.

I feel like the land, dehydrated and longing for a good nourishing rain. The rains will come inevitably, right now it's a matter of digging deep with these roots to tap into the moist soil far below me.

I pulled the Page of Cups this morning. She's descended to the bottom of the ocean, alone. She uses her intuition to guide herself and she finds answers in the scrying bowl. My need for the element of water is apparent in this card. I think a good spiritual bath is in order, a bath at dusk to remove and a bath as the sun rises to bring in that which I desire.

Let's Go Stargazing.

Since re-watching Agora, my lust for stargazing has been rekindled. It's an indescribable feeling looking into the stars. Oddly enough, it's grounding for me to loose myself in the celestial bodies. Somehow, it manages to put my feet back on the earth and helps me remember my place in the Universe. I find it captivating to know that I've shared the same fixed gaze upon a star as millions of other people, my ancestors, ancient peoples...

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I think this happens to me during the summer. I'm just now beginning to realize there's a bit of a pattern here. In the Pacific Northwest we have cloud cover more often than not, but during the height of summer you can get a good view of the stars even on the edges of Portland light pollution. One of these days I'll cross the Cascade Mountains and out into the scrubby dry land of eastern Oregon, so I can hopefully make out the spine of our galaxy home the Milky Way.

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I've never actually been able to see the stars far from light pollution, or out in the middle of nowhere. Sometimes it shocks me to say that, but I haven't! And it's on my to-do list. Regretfully, it never crossed my mind to look at the night sky while traveling from Iowa to Oregon. Montana, Nevada and Utah all boast some pretty amazing star seeing.

Since I can't just hop in a car (as I do not own one) and run off to the desert I have a few methods of keeping myself star connected...

Sky Map . I can lie out in my backyard and identify the stars as they appear. It's a great tool to train yourself to recognize stars with the naked eye. You'll learn a lot!

If you're not inclined to use your mobile to track the stars, there's an Interactive Star Map I've found. You can use your own location to navigate the sky, wherever you may be, night or day! 

Tonight's Sky is handy if you're wanting to know about up coming celestial events and sightings. It's also handy to help pinpoint star cluster viewing.

Oh! There will be a Perseids meteor shower between August 10th-13th! This year is predicted to be a most dazzling show. The shower will be peaking during the few hours just before dawn. Set your alarm clock!

The stars speak of hope and inspiration, mysteries and the unknown in darkness, of very old and ancient beings. When I gaze up at the heavenly bodies, it is a special kind of trance I can achieve. A heat swirls in my solar plexus, it buzzes and hums and something that I can never quite put my finger on snaps into place. For lack of better words, it is the feeling of the deepest connection, of feeling alive and blessed. Try it sometime. Get lost in the stars and allow all that you can see be a thick blanket of twinkling lights, perhaps you'll discover what I'm talking about.

I'll be soaking up as much of the clear night skies as I can before the rain Gods come back into our fertile valley, covering everything in clouds, mist and life giving rain. While I appreciate both sides of the year, I revel in these summer nights.

Mercury Retrograde: A Compilation of Survival Guides

Ever since Mercury went retrograde on June 26th, I've been seeing guides pop up everywhere on how to survive Mercury retrograde. I thought it might be handy to make a little compilation of all the interesting and very helpful guides I've come across recently and share them!

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1. A total gem right here: Lucky Mojo Hoodoo Rootwork Hour Ep. 6/30 talked about it on the first segment of their show. I highly recommend you listening to it. It's incredibly informative and even talks about the positive side of Mercury in retrograde. You will be very glad you listened, trust me!

2. The Tarot Lady talks about how to have a happy and productive time during the retrograde. By golly, yes! It's possible! Very thorough and packed with information. 

3. Biddy Tarot discusses it from a tarot readers perspective, helpful even if you aren't one.

4.  Gala Darling wrote up a helpful and quick survival guide.

5. We're always quick to blame this period on everythang... Now you can check and see if your complaint is valid. Or if a whiner is just making excuses ;)

6. Lucky Mojo forums had a good discussion on protection.

7. A very wise suggestion from Sarah Lawless on propitiating mercurial deities during this time, if you are of a deity venerating persuasion... 

For me personally, I am not usually effected by Mercury in retrograde, which may have something to do with the fact I have zero Mercury in my natal chart. You can draft up yours for free here. It may give you further insight into why or why you are not effected. Occasionally I'll have an email hiccup, thoughts will be a little jumbled and I'll be completely tactless in my speech (Aries in Mercury for me, not surprising in the least!). Otherwise, I do not suffer much calamity. *knocks on wood*

Going back to what Sarah suggested, because I work with a mercurial deity, I believe he aids me in keeping my shit together during this time. If this kind of work interests you, think of offering sweet and soft things. Violets are gentle, honey, cake, delicious things, candies. Alcohol and coffee have always been welcome in my practice, too.

Remember, it can often be what you make of it! Negative thought patterns and general doom and gloom attitudes can manifest into reality. Be positive and don't take it too seriously ;)

Ram Skull & The Farmers Market

Sipping my coffee at about 6am last week, it dawned on me it was Saturday. Farmers market! You see, being self-employed you occasionally forget which day of the week it is. They meld into one another and you can loose all track of that typical Monday through Friday, 9-5 feeling. There are positives and negatives to this of course.

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Back on track. When my partner arrived home from his long bike ride that Saturday morning we agreed to hit up the market. A short walk down, we stocked up on beautiful local produce. Green beans, the biggest sweetest cherries ever, zucchini, fresh herbs. There were lots of peaches, nectarines and berries, berries and more berries. This is berry country after all. After some delicious tamales we began to wind our way back home. Something caught my eye.

 

There was a vendor down at the very end of the very last row. His wife was spinning wool on her amazing spindle, there were a couple of sheep pelts and three glorious rams skulls. Nothing I'd ever really expect to find at a farmers market! Wool yes, but perfectly cleaned skulls? No. The couple specialized in heritage breeds, the Jacob specifically. They were passionate and definitely loved their sheep. This was just one of those special moments. Those of us who have an interest in collecting bones and animal parts for our practice, rarely, if ever, get the chance to talk to the owner of the animal. To know what his name was, what his personality was like and simply knowing the animal was raised and culled in a humane fashion. Even thought it was going to take the last of my personal spending money, I could not walk away empty handed. Especially the way one of the three skulls looked. He was the strongest looking of the three and his name was Merrill. Apparently he was one of his best breeding rams, tough as nails, ornery and a little mean. Just like a ram!

My mind drifted to Hermes as I walked away with Merrill in my arms. Found in a market place and sold to me by a shepherd.  I think I got pretty lucky.

Thank you Hermes.

Independence Day: Honor Your Ancestors.

I'm a bit of a cynic when it comes to U.S. holidays like today. I think that many people forget the true reason for such holidays. Instead, we celebrate with massive sales, barbecues, getting drunk and blowing shit up. Often I see a disconnection with the masses. Do they remember? What do parents tell their children about days like today, why we have the fireworks, the celebration?

If you're an American who has had family settle here during the colonial period, you may have had an ancestor fight for the independence of our country. Parts of my family have been in here for a very long time. I've been able to trace back to the early Dutch settlers of Pennsylvania in the late 1600's. I can only speculate that I may have had long lost ancestors fight for our independence. Both sides of my family have a long history of military service.  For me personally, holidays like today encourage me to connect with my ancestors, instead of indulging in gluttonous behavior. These days, they are so very often forgotten and I find that deeply saddening. I would like to add that I am not saying this is a day to be somber on! Our ancestors love to see us happy, healthy and in celebration. Just remember that they are still a part of us, literally. 

Tonight while the streets are filled with the scent of gunpowder and the thick haze of smoke, I will be offering a dressed and prayed over candle to my ancestors. Along with a cool glass of water and some incense.

If it compels you, consider doing the same. Whiskey, a glass of water, some good home cooked food, a heartfelt prayer would all be appropriate offerings to your ancestors on a day such as today. Never forget them and never forget their sacrifices.

Have a safe and beautiful Independence Day.