Monday, December 19, 2016

Incognito Altars

Now that spring has sprung and my spring cleaning is done and I finally have a space clear on my dresser, I thought I'd put up a permanent altar. Usually I've had to rely on a little hideaway altar that's easy to put away due to spacing and tolerance issues. 

I still have to kind of deal with those tolerance issues and I know that many pagans in un-ideal living situations do as well, so here's some tips on how to make altars look a little less like altars. 

Here is my basic set up. First thing is first, your language. People are odd about language I find. You call something an entirely different word and they're completely okay with it. This is not your altar. It's your 'centerpiece', a 'decoration', it 'ties the room together'. You like to burn candles and incense for the ambiance and because it makes everything smell nice. 

The plates I got at Michael's Craft Store on sale, they keep wax from getting everywhere on the wood.

Another great thing to have is an altar cloth that has two sides. One side of my cloth is decorative crosses, the other is plain purple with an embroidered dragon. If you know a lot of people are going to be around flip it to the other side, or just use a plain scarf or table runner; something that takes up the whole dresser or table so it looks more inconspicuous.

Altar cloths are great tools for hiding things. Hide crystals at the corners of your cloth. I have rose quartz, amethyst, unpolished ruby, and sandstone. The plate also hides written spells and flat things like that. 

Not everything is always going to be able to stay static on your altar. I have a steel pentacle the size of my palm that gets brought out on special rituals and put away afterwards. Likewise, jar spells might have to get packed up afterwards and reset again the next time they are used if they take more than one day.
Another thing you can do is take the go big or go home route. Make your whole room your altar and just spread everything out. Your room is where you should be able to go at the end of the day and find solace from the outside world anyway. It makes sense that the whole place should be sacred space.
Have candles somewhere to the south of your room to represent fire, or hang a dragon picture on the wall. Keep a pet rock or a worry stone to the north of your room to represent Earth, or just have a small plant like a cactus.
Or instead of a bigger altar make it smaller. Take an Altoids tin and stick a tea candle, matchbook, and a crystal or flower, or something that reminds you of a particular God or Goddess you are close to. Now you have an altar you can take anywhere with you.
Here is an article on creating a portable altar. They don't sound like they'd be as small as an Altoids tin but you could still create one that is carryable. Here is another article/blog post about traveling altars. I really like how this writer made hers look. The one with the pink Goddess symbol look so pretty.
So I started writing this in March and I have just finished it. I can't believe I've been gone almost a whole year and then again I can't believe I haven't been gone from the blogging world for even longer. Once I started getting bots or ad messages showing up in my e mail as comments I figured I should probably find a way to post.
I have had the most hectic year so far, it's been really hard to blog. I've had a family member die due to another family member, I've moved twice and switched jobs to a less emotionally stressful but just as busy job at a nursing home.
There have been so, so many changes.
Part of the reason I haven't been posting is I've been sussing out this new job and seeing how much work I will actually have to do and what I can and can not get away with in terms of being online. As long as I do my job and look busy to visitors I don't truly think they care. I get caught on Reddit quite a few times without them saying anything. It's the cellphone that really bothers them.
Another thing I've noticed is that the Blogger app no longer works. I have typed out at least a quarter of this post on that stupid thing only for it to blank out and crash. But it's the best way I have of getting pictures because that seems to be the biggest problem I've been having with Blogger. Hopefully I can quickly post them and edit online like I did with this one. Otherwise I'll have to find another way that is not as big of a pain in the ass as past ways to get pictures on here.
Here are current pictures of my altar that I wanted to show off since I'm in a place where I can just fully be me and have things like this out in the open. Or really I should say pictures of my altar when I was in our old house before my roommates and I moved. I'll get pictures of the new one soon. 
I'm so happy, or at least happier than I've been in a long, long time.  And I have so many things planned for the next year that I want to get done.
I might not post again until January or at least after Christmas. I may be a Christian Godless heathen but the family unit isn't so I will be spending all of Christmas at my Mom's house with my siblings.
Happy Holidays to everyone and a Happy New Year as well!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day The Witch's Way

For quick energy, harmony, and love being brought your way, fill a bowl partially with water. Sprinkle hibiscus flowers or petals and float some tea lights. Let them burn in your room on a desk, preferably close to your bed.

I don't know about fresh flowers but I used dried hibiscus and after an hour or so the water turned red. It was so pretty! You can kind of see some little whisps of red floating around the petals in the picture below.

To bring love and attention your way all day. 

Take two slips of paper and draw a yellow crocus on one and a yellow rose on the other. On the back draw this symbol.

Put one in each shoe. Eat a piece of chocolate to sweeten your breath and rub cinnamon into your skin. Before leaving the house say this three times, "Freya, the lover's friend, I ask these flowers my love to send."

I originally got this from a different website of a woman named Cassandra Eason after a Google search and I switched some stuff up to cater it more to my beliefs. I would like to point out that if you are allergic to anything listed above like cinnamon or chocolate you can absolutely substitute it with something else that would fit. Maybe there is a specific perfume that makes you feel pretty or whatever. Or you can just use the original site's spell that I got this from which has no embellishments.

Another warning, be careful just slathering things into your skin if you don't know how they are going to react. I take no responsibility. All I know is I've been rubbing cinnamon into my skin when I didn't want to use perfume or oil since I was a preteen and it's worked fine for me. 

I hope everyone had at least a mediocre Valentine's Day if it couldn't be great or even good. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Making Christmas For Charity

I absolutely love the Festival of Trees. Not always super fine with the Christian holiday of Christmas. I feel slightly territorial with Santa. I just don't like it when he encroaches into my Halloween decorations. But I really do like decorations. And Christmas decorations are just some of the prettiest.

Last year I decided that it was time for me to do a tree on my own. Here is what I learned about decorating a tree for the festival.

1. Start very early
Especially if you are making the ornaments by hand in anyway. Last minute running around is just not helpful. When my scouts do this charity, we usually have them start making ornaments around mid October. Honestly though the earlier the better. It's just less stress.

2. Garland is not an afterthought
I chose a 4 foot tree for my first time because it would obviously be easier to decorate then a full 7 foot tree. I also was decorating this all by myself, so 4 foot was definitely the way to go. I was doing a Star Trek tree. I bought this cheap gold wire garland with little stars on it. I didn't really think about it at the time, I just know it looked cute and fit with the theme of my tree. However, I soon learned that no matter how much you fluff this fake tree they give you, it kind of doesn't matter because 4 foot trees always look a little bit on the scrawny side. The best trees that I saw had fuller garland, or garland that was made out of thick ribbon to hide all of that.

3. If you think you have enough ornaments make more
It takes a surprising amount of ornaments to fill a 4 foot tree. You'd think it would take way less than it does, but no. From glittery foam badges to little pom-pom tribbles, and last-minute store bought glittery star ornaments, I think I had about 60 ornaments altogether. Maybe a little bit more. But even with everything on the tree it was still sparse as fuck. I learned too little too late that there are websites like Santa's Quarters which do help with this. Which brings me to my next point.

4. Just because the tree is small doesn't mean all the ornaments should be
I made the mistake of thinking 'oh small tree, small ornaments', but 4 feet is a lot bigger than you think it is. Even with the very few bigger ornaments that I had for the tree, it just wasn't enough to save it from looking like a kindergartner had decorated it. 

5. Make sure the tree topper is big enough as well
I had a super cute idea for the tree topper. I had one of those metal works that was in the shape of the enterprise. But 4 inches is way too small, no matter what popular magazines trying to tell you. If you think your topper is too big, it probably isn't.

6. Secure everything last
Because the trees get bought for charity they get moved around, obviously. Everything has to be secured to the tree. I used green florist wire to secure the lights, garland, and the everything to the tree. I also got it to hide the wire in the tree so it wasn't obvious that it was there. Being as that this was my first time decorating, and putting everything together, by myself I didn't think things through and made the mistake of securing the lights and the garland with wire as I put them on the tree. 

Now if I would not have misjudged how much light I actually had and put them on the correct way the first time this would not have been a problem. But the lights were longer than I thought they were. I found myself with lights secured to the tree by wire that was so well hidden I could no longer tell exactly where it was and about 2 feet (maybe more) of extra light. I probably could have just gone and worked my way back up the tree very slowly finding all the wire and dismantling it, but I had twisted the wire really well and it was the last day of decorating so I panicked. I took all the remaining Christmas lights and wrapped it around the base of the tree and hoped that people thought it was intentional. Which bring something else to mind.

7. Everyone loves a skirt
My family doesn't usually use a tree skirt so this is something that I completely forgot about that really does help with the overall look of the tree. A tree skirt really helps the tree look more put together. It has the added benefit of hiding any lights that you may or may not have wrapped around the base of the tree in a panicked state of mind. And it doesn't have to be a traditional green one. You can get one to match the theme of your tree. Or you can make one out of fabric from a craft store. I saw an X-Men tree that had a really cute homemade X-Men pattern skirt around the base of it.

8. You really will need 2 to 4 hours to decorate
Between my ornaments and the misjudged size of my tree, I heartily scoffed at the website when it said take 2 to 4 hours out of your time to decorate. I came in around 11 PM and I didn't leave until around 3:30 PM. Even with a smaller size it really is quite a bit of work because you have to set up the fake tree and fluff it up and everything that goes along with that. Make sure that you give yourself ample time to do everything.

Even though it seems like a pain in the butt, it really is a worthwhile thing to do. Not only does it raise money for the Kennedy Krieger Institute, the trees that don't get sold are then used to decorate around the grounds of the Institute and just brighten up the place for the people that go there. 

I absolutely love this charity and I will, yes, be doing it again this year. This time I will be massively more prepared. No more sparsely decorated trees for me. And in case you're wondering what it looks like, below is my little Star Trek tree that couldn't.

Please forgive the photo and I'm really sorry that I didn't have a picture of the completed topper that actually did look really good, just small. As I mentioned in my last blog post I got a new phone and when the store put everything from my old phone into my new phone not everything went exactly correct. I think that one or two pictures got left behind somehow. I also learned that if you edit any pictures from the 4S the 6S will not always keep the exact edit that you did when it comes to cropping, neither will it let you return that picture to the original picture. 

The link for the festival of trees pictures is at the bottom of the blog post after my favorite pictures I took. I spent almost 2 hours trying to rearrange them and make sure that everything was OK but some things fell through the cracks. Some of the pictures got a little bit jumbled as well when I uploaded them onto the imgur app so it was very hard to match up the tree to the sign that I had taken a picture of, therefore none of the trees have any information on who did them. I'm very sorry for that. 

This is a Kylo Ren tree. I didn't know that they were doing another Star Wars film until after the festival. At first I thought this was Darth Vader. ....I don't watch a lot of TV anymore....There was an actual Darth Vader tree which is in the link.

This was awesome. It looks pretty blank right now but it filled up as the festival went along. It had a bucket of markers by it you could color it with.

Of course one of my favorites had to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tree, of course.

I really have a fondness for ocean themed the trees and I just loved the topper for this one as well.

Here is the imgur link for the rest and for some pictures of the gingerbread houses as well. I can't wait for this year's festival especially because the resolution on my new phone camera is much better.

Also, raise of hands, who is surprised that I actually stuck to a promise to post on as self imposed schedule?

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Return Of Shit My Girl Scouts Say

The life of a Girl Scout leader is one filled with love, inspiration, tons of volunteer work, and weird, funny, sarcastic teenagers and preteens. These are just some of the highlights of shit I got to hear from my scouts at camp this weekend.

"Party at my house! Bring food and then leave! Alright!"

Leader: When you wash your dishes you have to wash an extra dish and it can't be a fork.
Scout: Can it be a spoon?

Scout: Can we walk to the stone? I saw a stone outside and I want to walk to it.
Leader: Stay inside we're all going to go outside shortly.
Scout: But we're not going to go to the stone I can guarantee it!
(I honestly have no clue what their fascination was with this stone, but apparently it was very important.)

"I need a post nap time nap."

"Hey Addy! We had a fat girl revelation! Pie iron tacos!"
(Apparently it never occurred to them that you can make quesadillas or soft tacos in a pie iron. Fun fact, if you don't have a fireplace or fire pit, or a grill, and you really want an actual pie iron pie, you can just use the stove top.)

Me: You know, for 20 cents Taco Bell will put sriracha on anything.
Scout: *gives me an intense stare* Talk dirty to me.

My scouts found a random dead blue jay on the side of our cabin and decided to hold a funeral for it, so I got to witness this from out the window.
"Should we say a prayer?"
"Let's say the pledge of allegiance!"
This was after they sang/screeched the national anthem as the funeral dirge. It was the most patriotic bird funeral we ever saw.

One of our younger scouts of the group saw a sign that said some workers would be pruning trees in a few weeks.
Scout: Where's the prune tree?
Leader: There is no prune tree.
Scout: But that sign says they're going to be taking the prunes off the trees.

Scout 1: *shows a picture of her "friend" to another scout* He's my boo.
Scout 2: Ew! Don't call that ugly your boo!

Scout 2: Why are you licking your pants?
Scout 1: Because they have toothpaste on them.
(Yes these are the same two 'boo' scouts.)

We were teaching the kids new verses of the Wish Song to see which ones they liked so we could teach the Daisies and they could help them.
Leader: I wish I was a little race car, I'd go speedy, speedy over every body's feety.
Scout: Same.

A bunch of our scouts were in a corner talking about how a leader's snoring kept them awake. All of a sudden we hear a loud clapping and our kids started to chant:
"I didn't get no sleep because of ya'll! Now ya'll can't get no sleep because of me!"

The 'boo' scout had this cute Hello Kitty footie pajama type sleeping wear that had a butt flap that buttoned closed and was rough housing with her friend Scout 2 from above. I then got to add this to the list of things I thought I'd never hear myself say until I became a Scout Leader:
Me: Can we please stop punching each other? And please stop trying to pull her butt flap down!

Before bed our kids were singing songs in a corner by themselves. They started to sing let it go which quickly morphed into the national anthem and what little they knew of God Bless America (I still have no clue why they were so patriotic this weekend).
Me: How did it turn from Frozen to that?
Scout: Because 'Murica!

Leader: Alright, JessJess said quiet time in half an hour, is that good with you guys?
Scout: What? No! *looks at us defiantly and starts to chant* I didn't get no sleep because of ya'll! Now ya'll can't get no sleep because of me!

Leader: Go put your clothes on and get dressed.
Me: Go get all packed up too.
Leader: One direction at a time here.
Scout: *giggles* You said one direction.

This post was supposed to be my delayed Festival of Trees post, but things got kind of screwed up with imgur so it will have to wait for either tomorrow or Thursday. I finally got a new phone. I went from the 4s to the 6s and it's like a completely different world. Although I wish I would have known that not absolutely everything gets sent over when they switch your information from one phone to another. The notes app where I had about 12 different story ideas, from one shots and short stories like I do on the blog to actual novels, and whole scenes and passages for those stories are now all gone and I have to try and remember everything all over again. I mean, it's a good thing I can remember practically everything but then there's always that worry that you've forgotten like half of it.

Also, some of my apps are not working like they used to, specifically my blogger app. It was so easy to post pictures directly from my phone but now I found out it didn't save my specifications on photo resolution and doesn't give me options for changing it. I'm glad that's basically the only thing wrong though.

So I have been pre-occupied, obviously and I'm sorry about that. I was going to blog earlier but my phone was so out of date that it wouldn't even let me use my wifi anymore for the last month I had it. It's also why I never got to do the last installment of Hindsight on Hindsight. Then my sister gave birth to this beautiful little guy and I've been focusing all my energy on trying to get baby time in as much as possible.

He makes the cutest baby burrito I've ever seen, I am absolutely in love.