Notes 'n' bits 'n' bits 'n' bits

Sannion tells us that Fufluns was the Etruscan name for the wine god, who was presumably syncretized with Bacchus and Dionysos. What an adorable name! And so much fun to say! Fufluns Fufluns Fufluns. Many Gods West, a polytheist conference, is going to be in Olympia at the end of July/beginning of August. We think we've worked out finances so I can go. I'm thinking of submitting a proposal to present a workshop on fiber arts as prayer and meditation. Anybody have any thoughts? I've only got a few days to pull together the proposal, their deadline is the 31st. On the silly side, this blog asthetic generator gave me Storm Femme the first time I clicked it. I love it! Rain Core was another pretty good one. Starting to feel better than I have in a week or so. Getting back to normal things, like weaving and studying. I'm back to studying Ruby, and have plans for a couple of things I'd like to try to make in the future. I studied it last summer, and hit three things at once: August, illness, and recursion. That trifecta killed it for a while. So this time around, seeing as it's been months and months, I'm reviewing all the stuff I did before, and am pleasantly surprised to discover that after time to let the ideas settle, I'm writing much better code for the same exercises than I did last time. The big victory today was the Roman numerals one. First, you were supposed to write a script to convert any number from three thousand down in old-style Roman numerals, which used IIII instead of IV. Last time, I wrote a really clunky thing that got the job done, specifying what letters it should use for each decimal place. So it had a line that told it that 9 equalled VIIII, and one that told it 8 equaled VIII, and soforth. For ones, tens, hundreds, and thousands. I knew this was awful, but could not yet figure out how to write it better. This time, I figured out how to write an algorithm so that I didn't need to do that, so it had instructions for thousands, five hundreds, one hundreds, fifties, tens, fives, and ones. Then I was supposed to write one that used the newer style of Roman numerals, IV instead of IIII. And I figured out how to tell it to make an exception in the previous script to allow it. I am ridiculously proud of myself....

A High Pale Sky

There’s a thing that the sky does here in the rainy season that I had never seen before I moved to Seattle. In Florida, rain clouds are low and dark and heavy, and even when they cover the sky completely, they’re highly textured and variable. But here, when it will rain on and off all day, and maybe it did yesterday and probably it will tomorrow, too, the whole sky is covered with this high, thin, pale layer of clouds, backlit and brighter than it ought to be. People talk about how gloomy Seattle is in the rain, but that tall glowing ceiling lets in more light than the storm clouds I knew for most of my life. If you don’t stop at look at it, it can look like it’s nearly flat, all one color. But if you do stop, you see the variations, the texture, like hand-blended fiber that’s gone into one dyebath and the silk and the wool and the alpaca all picked up the color a little differently. Not an even blend, but with whorls and bunches and bits of lighter or darker or warmer or cooler tones. My poor photography skills don’t do it justice. It’s so much better than that. I’d love to try to make a fiber blend like that one day, to spin it and weave it, fine and lacy, and build in curves and movement with tapestry techniques....

28 Triangles, and Planning for New Projects

Well, that’s done. I have 28 little gray triangles and 28 little purple triangles, woven with and as prayers to the Hyades and the Women of the Purple Thread. Now I just need to stitch them all together. Now to start on the next big project, the 6’x6’ rainbow flag afghan for my wife and I. Buying even a skein of Red Heart Super Saver is difficult these days, but a friend was kind enough to get me a thing of bright, pure re d so I can get started on it. The plan looks something like this: Each triangle is about 4” on the long side and 2” on the short side. To get a 1’ stripe, I need three rows of 4” width each. I’m going to fiddle around with it, but I’m thinking of alternating rows of meshed-teeth style and square-block style: The math for either type of row works out the same. Each row needs 54 block, times three rows is 216 triangles. 216 triangles is 648 yards. Round up to 700 for extra for stitching. A single skein of Red Heart is 364yds, so two is enough plus 28yards of squish room. Fortunately, Red Heart, being synthetic and mass produced, doesn’t have dyelots and is consistent. Color #319 will always be the same shade of red. At 216 triangles per stripe, that’s 1296 triangles for the whole thing. Even at ten triangles a day — which I am not going to average, that’s a good day — that would be 130 days, that’s more than four months. Probably more like 6 or 8, because me. Even more if I get into the school I’ve applied for, which is very intensive. Fortunately, the triloom is such that I can do other projects at the same time, so I don’t get too bored. Also fortunately, it’s easy to use the tail at the start of each triangle to tie it to the next one, and it’s easy to make both types of rows from long strings of them. Which makes the project much easier to keep track of. Individual triangles are too easy to lose. I’m assigning a different quality I want for our little family to each color, magic to support us in each of them. Red for protection, orange for strength, yellow for wisdom, green for health, blue for peace, and purple for passion. The recited charms for each are proving annoying to write. I’ve got a version for protection, but I’d rather get them all written and posted together. They’re doggerel, really, and won’t scan well. Just something to recite while I work, to shape the intent and energy. I’m also playing with the notions of using the triloom to build an ABRACADABRA spell, an ancient diagram spell of protection that dates back to at least the 3rd century CE and the physician of the Emperor Caracalla, who prescribed it worn as an amulet against disease. A - B - R - A - C - A - D - A - B - R - A A - B - R - A - C - A - D - A - B - R A - B - R - A - C - A - D - A - B A - B - R - A - C - A - D - A A - B - R - A - C - A - D A - B - R - A - C - A A - B - R - A - C A - B - R - A A - B - R A - B A This, obviously, lends itself to the triloom pretty well. It would probably work better on a equilateral triloom, but I don’t have one of those. This would, obviously, make a good-sized wall hanging rather than a wearable amulet — the top edge would be 44” across if made on this triloom! — but I think the spell could be easily applied to a household rather than an individual. I’m also thinking about the idea of making spell-nets out of wire and beads to catch bad influences trying to come in at windows, like a witch’s ball, dreamcatcher or spirit trap. I want to do combinations of the rigidity of the weave and more freeform, organic shapes. Even a single triangle — and I’d rather do 4-piece squares, to keep the inward motion toward the central stone — will take 3 yards of wire just for the base, plus another foot or two for the other work, so I’ll have to work in copper wire for now, as much as I...

Teeny Tiny Triangles

Way back April, I talked about the esoteric possibilities of small triangle looms, weaving prayers or spells into small pieces. Well, I finally had a little cash and found a small tri-loom for under $15 on Etsy. (It was sold as a 4”, which is the length of the legs rather than the hypotenuse. Odd, the big ones are measured by the hypotenuse.) When it arrived, I grabbed some spare yarn from the stash (my sadly depleted stash: moths got in, but this was treated to keep them off), and dove in. I ran through that skein in about a week, a week I was pretty sick, and not spending much time on fiber. The first several came out uneven and buckled, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly, and the later ones came out nice and even. By the end, a single triangle only took about five minutes. I got thirty triangles out of the 100yd skein, plus a lot of cat-chewed scraps of yarn that I’m using to stitch the triangles together. It’s an interesting thing about the tri-looms: Each loop, which becomes both warp and weft, is the same length: the length of the hypotenuse of the triangle. You have as many loops as there are pegs on one leg of it. To get the total yardage for each triangle, no matter how large or small, you multiply the hypotenuse by the number of pegs. My little tri-loom (which has a 6” hypotenuse and 17 pegs) takes 102in, plus a 3in tail on each end to knot, or 108in, for a total of three yards per each. I measure the yarn a bit slack, and then you have to keep it under a certain amount of tension while weaving, so there’s usually a bit extra. Being able to measure and cut a hank of 3’ lengths means I don’t have to carry the whole skein and a pair of scissors if I want to go out and weave. Also good for airplane trips, where you still can’t take scissors on board in the US. I’m working on writing specific prayers to use with this. I’ve started doing sets with the Purple Thread and Hyades prayers I wrote previously, but those are really designed around the rhythms of spinning, and the tri-loom definitely has a rhythm of its own. The idea, though, is to recite a prayer as I weave, making each piece a prayer of its own. I want to do a lunar month’s worth of prayers, then stitch the pieces together into a kind of prayer hanging. Not prayer hangings as my Hermes and Athene hangings are, which contains written prayers to be recited, but hangings that are made up of prayers, tangible works of dedication. Once I’ve found a written rhythm that works for the tri-loom, I’ll start writing spells for it, too, for tangible, useable spellcraft (my favorite kind!). Scarves for health and healing, small afghans for protection and warmth and contentment, large family-sized blankets for togetherness and love, whatever I can think of. I want to do a rainbow flag coverlet for Kate and I, with each color bearing a different spell for our little family. I’m working up a whole how-to post on weaving on tri-looms, although there are several excellent ones out there already, and a project post for what I’m doing with the practice triangles I’ve made already. My regular camera is out of commission, so it’s all phone pics for a bit. Sorry....

The Nurses in the Stars

I realized that, while I talked about the constellation of the Hyades, I didn't give any pictures. Well! Time to fix that! Above you see the shape the seven Hyades make, which for the head of Taurus. The brightest star in the Hyades is golden Aldebaran, at the left corner of the head (the horns are not part of the Hyades, just the smaller triangle), which can be found above the head of Orion, if you go looking for it. The Hyades comprise an open star cluster, the closest such cluster to Earth, and so one of the best-studied. The center of the cluster is about 153 light years away. If you're minded to look up more technical data on them, they're catalogued as Melotte 25, or as Collinder 50. Here they are, bright and clear and beautiful. And here's a stellar panorama, with the Hyades, upside down, on the right, and their sisters the Pleiades on the left, in blue....

Rainy Mood

There are a number of sites and apps that will play rain sounds for you. I like Rainy Mood. The iOS app lets you choose the amount of thunder and things....

The Nurses

There are many names for and stories of the nymphs who raised Dionysos. Some of their names are genealogical, some local. They are called the Hyades, the Lamusides, the Lamides for their families, or the Dodonides, the Naxiai, the Nysiai or the Mysiai for their place of residence. As the Hyades, they are the daughters of Atlas and Pleione, and the sisters of Hyas, a daimon of rain, and the Pleiades. When Hyas was killed in by a boar Libya, they wept and wept at would not be comforted, and were called Hyades for their brother whom they mourned. Zeus found them at Dodona (hence Dodonides) and gave the Infant Dionysos to raise, which brought them out of their grief at last, and the sisters and their charge moved to Nysa, where Dionysos was brought up, so that they became known as the Nysiai. When Dionysos was grown, the Hyades became the first of his Mainades, and danced with him, and were put to flight by Lycurgus and took refuge with Theris. In time, though, they grew old, and Dionysos went to Medea to beg her to make them young again, as she had done for Aeson. She did, and Dionysos asked his father Zeus to set them among the stars in thanks for their service and love, and he took Hyes, the Rainy One, as one of his own mystic names.* In other stories, they were called Lamides or Lamusides, daughters of the sacred river Lamus, and were likewise charged with the care of Dionysos, or were Hyades in Mysa, named for Hylas the lover of Herakles whom they drowned in their well (Herakles’ search for his lover became a yearly festival in Mysa), or they raised the child on Naxos instead of Nysa, accounting for the rest of the names mentioned. But I think it is the version I have given that makes the story most meaningful to the thiasos. They are literally a part of the Starry Bull in the Heavens, their stars forming the head of Taurus, and their brother was slain by a boar, starting their story and their division from their sisters. One of their number bore the name Thyone (or Dione) before Semele was retrieved from under the earth and took it up herself. In Hellas and Magna Graecia, the helical rising (rising and setting along one horizon, and not traversing the sky) of the Hyades came in the fall, just as the rains began, signaling the start of the plowing season. Their rain brings life back to the parched earth, but also rages in storms. Their number varies, but Pseudo-Hyginus, in Astronomica, says that they are seven (which fits nicely with the weekly calendar of the thiasos), and gives their names as Ambrosia, Eudora, Pedile, Coronis, Polyxo, Phyto, and Thyone. All my life, I have been energized and rejuvenated by then rain, and I have felt moved for some time to develop a cultus for the Hyades. I put it off all summer long, knowing that it was not their time of year. But at the Autumn Equinox, I celebrate the beginning of Fall and the return of the rains in Seattle, and so I now begin, and will carry on through until Spring, when the rains taper off. And although the head of Taurus first peeped over the horizon proper a month ago, it is only now that it becomes visible over the trees. A festival of the Hyades is best held during the beginning of your local rainy season, wherever you are, whenever that happens. Even the deserts of the American Southwest see a rainy season. Celebrate them then, the day the purple clouds come rushing across the horizon and the dry washes are suddenly full. Celebrate them when the pouring monsoon starts, and know that they, too, have their fury, just as their own dear Lord does. Celebrate them in the gentle rains of spring, when the weather warms enough that snow no longer falls, and the ground begins to thaw. Celebrate them in the rain. And so, since today, the Equinox, is bright and warm, I will wait until the next rainy day to give them offering and call aloud their names. If you wish to celebrate the Hyades, then on that rainy day, if you know a place where nymphs dwell, go there. Bring offerings of honey or mead, and wine, and eggs. Bring silver or grey ribbon, and tie it to trees or pin one end under a rock and let it stream out like a rivulet. If you do not know a place where nymphs dwell, then take your offerings and walk in the rain. Tie your ribbons wherever you find a place that seems right. If you find a place where offerings might be...

Heat and Rain and Fear

Despite my complaints about the heat this month, this entire summer — since May, actually, which is spring here — there’s been an odd pattern of several days of heat (by local standards; I’ve had Christmasses in Florida that were this hot) followed by a few days of cool rain. The other day in particular was pretty oppressive. Hot and humid, hazy, not a breath of wind, with a high thin cloud cover. It was stifling. It’s why I didn’t sleep that night, didn’t sleep until 9am the next day, which continued hot and muggy. Before I first starting trying to get to sleep, in the gloaming of false dawn, I drummed to the Hyades and prayed for rain. It took eighteen hours, but the rain came. Then the last two days were cool with rain on and off. Rain is a great blessing. I am reminded that I seem to have received instructions to pay cultus to the Hyades, the nursemaids of Dionysos. But that’s for next month. It will be good to celebrate the renewal of the rains, after the mental and spiritual dry season of August, even a surprisingly damp August. But I must remain present in August for now, and not look ahead too much. Today was the thiasos of the Starry Bull’s Hekatesia, their festival in honor of Hekate. I don’t celebrate most of their festivals — one of the reasons I consider myself to be a fellow-traveler rather than a member, adjacent to rather than part of — and after reading the suggested ritual, I found myself somewhat ambivalent about celebrating this one, despite the way a festival in this month dovetails with my own work. But after reading this account tonight, I decided to do it anyway. I didn’t make it to a crossroads, for various reasons, but my ritual tasks for the day were a cleansing bath and a food offering (it’s unusual that two slips fell out of the jar, usually it’s only one), which seemed suitable to the ritual, so I combined them otherwise. I boiled three eggs, and took my bath, and then went into the ritual room. I inscribed each egg with a single fear, and made an offering to Hekate of both food and fear, to let her feast upon both. She is, among other things, a goddess of fear, because she so often inspires it , and because fears are so often hidden things. She is a goddess of cleansing and purification, and I hope that she will make me clean again, and that while she will not take my fears from me, she will take away the contamination they spread through my life. I have been devoured by these fears for months now, along with others that derive from them. These fears combine with my depression to paralyze me, to numb me, not only to many daily joys, but to the presence of the gods and spirits I honor. That is what I pray she will take from me. It’s up to me, otherwise. Only I can fight these fears. Only I can overcome them. Only I can make them untrue. She can help me when I cannot do it alone, but she cannot do it for me. She can only lend me strength, give me tools and advice....