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....

Arachne’s Shrine Wallet

Warning: There is a spider at the end of this post. The two parts of the wallet shrine for Arachne: You can’t really see it, but the outside is actually stitched with Arachne’s name in Greek and the wandering thread, both with the Purple Thread. Damn black background. Won’t do that again. The inside, of course, has the frame loom, a picture/prayer frame, and now… flattened pennies. These three are from Woodland Park Zoo’s spider exhibit some years back. I was pretty pleased with myself for going, as I’ve been attempting to get over my arachnophobia for years, and I ran three pennies through the machine to commemorate it. From top left to bottom right, they are Golden Orb Weaver (my favorite; beautiful webs), Happy Face Spider, and the infamous Black Widow. And now, just because, here’s a banana spider, the kind that lived in my childhood backyard. Image from here. These are a rather large variety of golden orb weaver. The females’ leg spans easily reach 5”, with a two-inch-long body, and they can spin webs that are twelve feet across. The silk shines golden in the sun (the origin of the name golden orb, and of the alternate name yellow silk). On a dewy morning, they’re amazing. Even when I was most terrified of spiders, I loved those webs. (The wolf spiders that often made it into the house were another matter. Nearly as big as the banana spiders in the yard, they were hairy, like a tarantula, and they tended to get really close, and sometimes to jump. Those were flat-out terrifying. Still are. I’ve got the willies thinking about them. Worse than palmetto bugs, the infamous giant flying cockroaches of Florida.) Now I just need to sew the two together, and I can start Ariadne's....

Tiny Weaving

There it is, the tiny weaving from the Arachne wallet shrine. I used up all the thread I had measured off and called it good. The thread trails off the left side and wraps around the "upright" of the loom, indicating that the weaving was unfinished, as all of Arachne's future tapestries were. I could've gotten a tighter weave if I'd actually built a tensionable loom, dammit....

Things That Happen When You’re Me

I started on my wallet shrine for Ariadne. I decided that rather than do a spider web, since I was already putting in spiders, I would put in a loom. So I stitched in the simple frame that was used for tapestry weaving in ancient Greece. And then I got the ever-so-clever idea to actually weave cloth there. The problem is, of course, that the “loom” is felt and embroidery floss, and has no rigidity against which to tension the damn warp. So it’s all over the place. I put the pen under the warp threads to lift them up and stabilize them, provide a little tiny bit of tension. Then eventually I found my dichroic dragon pendant, and that and the pen allowed me to make a little more progress, but I’m still having to hold the two apart with one hand to provide tension while I thread the needle over and under the warps. Argh. These are the things that I suddenly get very excited to do at 2am when I haven’t had a full night’s sleep three days running. Ah, well. Such is life. Also, the Erigone wallet came out well. Here it is next to an Altoid’s tin for size comparison: And I painted a small wooden cabinet black. The plan is to hang it on the wall, keep all the wallet shrines inside it, and take out the day’s wallet to set on top and burn incense in front of. We’ll see how it works....

Wallet Shrines

I’ve gotten all interested in the concept of pocket shrines, a Catholic tradition. They typically have an image of a saint (whether paper or a plaque), a prayer, and maybe some additional symbols. Some are wallet-style, while others are made from small tins or matchboxes, and some are other kinds of small objects. It’s apparently popular now to make non-religious pocket shrines, in which case I don’t know why you’d still call them shrines, but hey, I found this tutorial, and decided I could afford to drop a little money on felt and embroidery floss, and I’ve got lots of beads, and it’d give me another devotional craft project to do while sitting around, and what the hell. I’m still fiddling with the best way to do these, but it’s fun, and it keeps me occupied. My embroidery skills are and always have been crappy, I’m afraid, but it’s something I’m putting time and effort and care into, and I’m satisfied with that, and think my gods are, too. I started, of course, with a shrine to Hekate. Here’s the inside: I decided to go with symbols, so those are supposed to be torches on the left, and the key charms on the right. In the middle is a frame into which I will eventually tuck either a prayer or an image. Kind of depends on what I can find and get printed in the right size. And I don’t have a printer right now. It’ll be blank for a while. The outside: The strophalos, or wheel symbol, associated with Hekate in the Chaldean Oracles, plus, very badly embroidered, Hekate’s name in Greek. The wallet, folded and buttoned up: Yes, it’s intentional that her name is on the front and the wheel on the back. Yay, that worked! Each section has an old business card tucked between in the inside and outside felt layer to stiffen it. The trifold design came out much thicker than I realized it would, with all those layers or felt and cardboard, but I like the way they come out. Threes work for me. They aren’t so much something to tuck into my pockets, but that’s what purses, bags, and backpacks are for, to carry all the things that don’t fit in your pockets. They’ll be good for traveling. I’m already working on a series of wallets for the Women of the Purple Thread, on for each. I haven’t been able to afford the things I need for individual wall shrines for them all, but I can afford to make them each a wallet shine, keep them all in one wall cabinet for easy storage, and take out the appropriate one for each day’s devotional. So they’ll be good for that, too. I’m almost done with Erigone’s. The two sides just need to be sewn together and the button added. Here’s what it looks like now: The grey outside is stitched with the devotional purple thread, both with just a meandering thread (which is intended to carry across all of the wallets) and with her name in Greek. The inside has a hanging doll, a reference to the Aiora ritual that was part of or around Anthesteria, in which young girls hung ribbons, cups, and dolls representing Erigone from trees, and then were pushed on rope swings. Erigone hanged herself from a tree in her grief over her father’s death. On the right, of course, is a grapevine. Erigone’s father Ikarios was the first mortal Dionysos taught viticulture to, the first to grow the vine and make wine. When he gave the finished wine to his townsmen to drink, they, not knowing yet to mix water with their wine, drank too much and passed out. Their families, finding them, thought that Ikarios had poisoned them, and they killed him before their relatives awoke with hangovers. And in some versions of the story, Dionysos loved Erigone, and after her death set her in the stars as the constellation Virgo, her father as Bootes, and their faithful dog (who drowned herself in a well) as Canis Minor. Expect more of these to come....