Here comes August

Last night, a strange thing happened. I felt almost eager for August to arrive. Normally, I dread this month, and feel much as Al Aronowitz did about it. August is the dead time, the dry time, the mad time. Every August, I feel sick, ungrounded, uncentered. This has long been an irony in my life. August is the month most sacred to Hekate, precisely because it is the dead time. The Dog Days of Summer are hers, under the influence of the Black Bitch's Dog Star. This is the time when she wanders the earth, when she hunts, when she comforts weeping Demeter and prepares resolute Persephone. It is her time. But I think that is precisely why it is so hard for me. It is sacred, but I have had trouble connecting to the sacredness, because I am so distracted by what the heat does to my body that I have had trouble involving myself fully in it. It has, I realize now, looking back over the past three years' archive of August posts, I begin to see an arc of change. Focusing more on Hekate and the Dead has grounded me more during the past few Augusts. And, unlike the past three years, this year I have an air conditioner for the bedroom against, which will make it easier to sleep and help with some of the physical impediments. This year I am already more focused on the Dead than I have ever been before, with not a nightly ritual from the Litany, but the introduction of the chief two figures of my spirit court -- I really must post about them -- and a ritual they gave me to open the way for the Dead who need help moving on called Pouring the Cauldron, which I now do every few weeks. (I need to talk about that as well.) Last year, August was relatively uneventful. I was focused on school a lot, being in my first quarter there, but I found the time to watch, read and listen to quite a bit of horror and ghost story. The year before, I focused my August on establishing a practice with the Dead. The year before that, I spent the whole of August praying solely to Hekate. This year, I feel secure in my practices with the Dead, I've just finished a period of more intense focus on Hekate (yet another thing to write about), so I don't feel the need to repeat my activities of 2015 and 2014. I will be watching a lot of horror -- my list this year is quite possibly longer than I can finish, but that's another post -- and I have another project, the investiture and consecration of a new tool, a Cauldron or Pot of Hekate. I think those two things will hold my focus on the sacred nicely. August also holds the birthday of my wife, which she doesn't care much about but I do, and a new friend I care a lot about. I'll be leaving for Florida and North Carolina for two weeks at the end of August, to go to my grandmother's 90th birthday and see various family members. And I'm actively looking forward to this year's horror movie fest. Weird....

If you give monsters a deck...

...apparently they get really demanding. I finally have the money to buy some things I've been wanting for some time. One of them was the Flowers From the Dead oracle deck, which I've been wanting for communicating with my monsters for quite some time. As soon as it arrived, the day before yesterday, within minutes of me having the deck in my hands, they became far more vocal -- and demanding -- than they have ever been. Each of them (or group of them) needed their own signifying card from the deck, so I could tell who was speaking. Then they started clamoring for a shrine. With bones and masks. And that dead tree decorative thing from the top of the book case. Which needs a noose. And so accordingly, I ordered a couple of small lots of cruelty-free bones off Etsy, and a set of Astragaloi off Ebay (half of which will go to my Toys set, and half to the Monsters), and started talking to my maskmaker friend about a monster mask. Today I went to Goodwill and found not only a small table to be their shrine, but a glass-fronted wall cabinet of precisely the kind I'm always looking for. (I think this will belong to the Purple Thread. They need to be up off the ground.) Score! I have black velvet for the altar cloth, and the dead tree, and some goat foot bones to start with, and the deck and a book to record oracles in, and the rest will come along as they can. Later: Well, what I have for now is set up. I'll post a picture eventually, but probably not until I have a mask....

Writing again

I've been so busy with school and work all this year that it's been almost impossible to find the time to do anything else. But yesterday, I carved out an hour or so, and got some actual work done on The Book of the Downward Labyrinth. Not a massive amount or anything, but enough to get a little forward momentum going that's keeping me rolling some today. My summer is packed. Not only am I taking three classes, which are trying to pack 11 weeks of information into 8 weeks of instruction, and tutoring, and being a teaching assistant, but I now have two freelance database jobs. With all that, finding the time to write is nearly impossible, but may be necessary as a balance. I've had some fascinating spiritual experiences lately. A few of us performed a Bacchic Mass, a kind of séance of the Starry Bull tradition, and I learned a lot. I finally found the identity of my... I'm not sure what the formal term for them is. Spirit guides? Gatekeepers? Those of my Dead who give the other Dead access to me, or deny it, and who act as hostesses in my space. I think of them as the Aunties. One should not have been a surprise. Aider Rebecca, the great-great(-great?) aunt I'm named for. She lived alone in the log cabin she was born in until the end of her life, the eccentric old woman in the West Virgina woods. She died in her 90s, and what it took to kill her was falling asleep on the porch, having the bottom of her corncob pipe burn through and catch her gunnysack dress on fire. She stumbled half a mile to the nearest neighbor's house with burns over 70% of her body, and lived three more days in the hospital before giving up. That's my Aunt AiderBeck. And apparently she's been keeping my spiritual house in order for me. For which I thank her. My other guardian was a big surprise, and a great honor. Medea herself helps out, and says that I may count her as the founder of my magical lineage. I learned a great deal from the both of them that night, and a new tool was recommended to me. A cauldron, and in the cauldron a skull. This is a crossroads, a gateway, I was told. A way for Dead who need help moving on into their afterlives to do so. And so I am developing a ritual called The Pouring of the Cauldron based on this principle. Right now it is very small and very simple, but it seems to serve the purpose in a limited fashion. I look forward to expanding upon it to achieve more effective results. The Book of the Downward Labyrinth continues to grow and to ramify, with new necessary topics coming up whenever I sit down to think about it much. It's a bit exhausting, and I despair of actually finishing it on the schedule I'd like. But at least some of the new ideas can go in the second book, which will be specifically for those looking to serve the Dead as kedemones and enchytristria. I don't plan on making this one publicly available, but on having Create Space make me a couple dozen copies, enough to get us through years worth of people who want to study this path. By the time we run through that many copies, I'm quite sure it will need a new edition with many, many revisions. That book, The Path of the Dead, is probably the next project, but will have to wait to be written until I've taught a class (or maybe two classes, one for the kedemon level, and one for the enchytristria) on the material, to give me a chance to organize it and see what works for others. I may also end up coming up with a class on preparing for Death. I don't know yet....

Bacchic Underground

I completely forgot to announce the Bacchic Underground blog! I've got a couple of posts up, including the never-performed ritual script for the planned ritual for last year's Many Gods West....

#createthisoracledeck

Over at Little Red Tarot, I found this post with a challenge to create one oracle deck card per day from March 1-March 30 to make a unique new deck, and to post the pictures of the cards every day. Wow, I thought, what a great idea. I've been playing with a lot of ideas for oracle decks, mostly ones that play to my strengths. But what the hell, I'll throw that out the window for this project, and instead use it to get me both drawing and blogging again. I immediately decided that I wanted to do one that was half black ink on white cards and half white ink on black cards, and to use imagery out of the Starry Bull tradition. At first I was going to include the Toys of Dionysos in the cards, but really, they're their own oracle, all by themselves. This will be something else. Well, yesterday I didn't have the card stock, but I drew an idea in my little sketchbook: As ever, not good art, but whatever, it's got me drawing. Today I went and bought some card stock, but before I could trim it to the size I want (quite small) or do any drawing, the migraine I had earlier in the week came back, and now I have to sit in the dark while I wait for pills to kick in. But I hope I can get a couple more done, and Snake redrawn on a card, tomorrow or Sunday. This project may take me rather longer than March, especially given that I have finals this month, but I would like to get a 30-card deck made, just for myself, to prove to myself that I can. And now I need to go lie down. Ow....

Notes while ramping up fast

I'm sorry I've been so absent. This quarter has just about knocked me over already, and we're only three weeks in. I'm taking three classes. SQL, .Net programming, and Web Authoring. I'm already behind in two of them, because I can't install the programs I need on my Mac, since they're Microsoft crap and there are no OSX versions. And I've missed classes due to sleep problems, which means missing out on lab time to work. I'm TAing for a class I took last quarter with a different instructor. This quarter's instructor for it is one I loved when I had her for another class. She's great fun, and her sense of humor matches mine. Deeply, deeply geeky queer woman. Yay! And I love TAing for her, it's lots of fun, and I'm getting the stuff I felt like my teacher for the class (who was neat in his own ways, and I look forward to having him for other things) missed covering. But it's exhausting. I spend two-and-a-quarter hours twice a week running around the class helping different people with whatever difficulty comes up (which is always something; it's tech). And I'm still tutoring, but where it was very slow at this time last quarter, and a typical day had more tutors than students in the lab, now I'm helping three to five people at a time, running around all over the place, trying to get people through things. Many of them are not very computer literal, are ESL students, or both, and need a lot of attention and aid. They don't necessarily know things like that bibliography and works cited are synonyms, and therefore in Word you would look under the Bibliography drop-down for a Works Cited page. I don't have time to work on my own homework in there, the way I did last quarter. I haven't put in any time on the book since the beginning of the quarter, as much as I'd like to. I get home and I just fall over. I hardly have time to decompress. I haven't made it to any meetups or anything, either. My personal life has gotten more interesting. I'm struggling to maintain a daily practice at all, much less to do yoga. Last quarter I coasted. This quarter is more challenging....