#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....

Akoites and Melampos, part 2

The Akoites and Melampos Project, part 2 Where'd I leave off, anyhow? I'm writing this offline, don't have access to what I wrote before. Also slightly under the influence of both dark cherry hard cider and books set in the Florida Keys, and between the two, I am regressing to my Southernness. So do please pardon me. I imagine I already posted the materials and the beginnings of weaving. So I'll pick up about there. The body of Akoites, ready to be cut off the loom. Sounds painful, eh? He don't seem to mind it though. To get the dolls to stand upright, you turn the middle of the strip into a flat-bottomed pocket, and put flat river stones in. Then you stitch up the sides and stuff the tube with more wool, and a layer of lavender to keep the moths away. Looks a little wonky, doesn't he? It'll be ok. Needs some more shaping is all. I foolishly tied together the warp ends at the top and stitched the shoulders closed. Foolishly, because I hadn't made the arms yet. I had to unpick it. And here are both bodies without arms, waiting. And waiting for me to do the dying of their head-wool. In the mean time, while I figure out what on earth to do now that the tea dyeing and the coffee dyeing haven't worked, I'd do some of their accoutrements. A tricorn pirate's hat for Akoites, a cloak for Melampos, and a tiny thyrsos for one or the other of them. Finally, I got the colors for the heads sorted, although not really to my satisfaction, and made the two sets of arms merely by twining lengths of yarn together. Here's Akoites, more or less finished, just needing dolphin and thyrsos, front and back. Here's Melampos, who's so dark he doesn't photograph well in my living room, but who still needs his braids finished, plus a staff and his sneks. And here's the pair of them, finished. Materials: Akoites: Plymouth Select DK Merino Superwash, white brown merino black merino red merino raw wool (hair and stuffing) lavender (stuffing) brackberry bramble, thorns removed (thyrsos) tiny pinecone (thyrsos) Dolphin: white merino silver-grey kid mohair Melampos: Plymouth Select DK Merino Superwash, black red merino (cloak, snake) white merino (cloak, snake) dark brown merino raw wool (stuffing) lavender (stuffing) no 12 crochet thread, black (hair) metallic charcoal Angelina (hair ties) blackberry bramble, thorns removed (staff)...

Akoites and Melampos, part 1

A friend has commissioned me to make dolls of two Starry Bull heroes, Akoites and Melampos. Akoites was the captain of the pirate ship that kidnapped the young Dionysos and planned to sell him as a slave. Akoites was the only one who thought this was a bad idea, because he sensed the god's divinity, but his mutinous sailors did it anyway. When Dionysos awoke, he trapped the ship in vines and turned all the sailors into dolphins -- except Akoites himself. Akoites later went on to serve as herald for Dionysos when he returned to his mother's home, Thebes, warning King Pentheus that Dionysos was a god and not to be trifled with. Melampos came upon a nest of snakes as a young man, and, killing the adults, took two of the young ones and raised them by hand. They slept on his shoulders and cleaned out his ears with their tongues, giving him the power to understand the speech of birds, beast, even insects. He went on to be a great seer and had a number of adventures, including acquiring the cattle of Phylakos, a bride, and a lot of land -- which he gave to his brother. When the Argosian women were driven mad by Dionysos, it was Melampos who healed them by correctly divining the source of the god's anger and addressing it. So. Both dolls will have the white-red-black thematic colors of the Starry Bull. Akoites will wear white, with a black tricorn pirate's hat (by request) and a red cape of cloak. His hair will be made from brown-black raw wool with sun-bleached tips. He will be accompanied by a dolphin, and possibly wear vines. Melampos will have a darker face, braided silk-thread hair in black, and wear black, with a white-and-red cloak, one red and one white snake, and possibly a thyrsos. Some pictures! Wool and yarn, almost all of the materials for the dolls. Warping! I usually hate warping, but this time it felt good. I haven't touched this loom in months. And the weaving has begun!...

Hymn to Silenos

I pray to Silenos Noble drunkard, wise fool, Wild man of the woods, Foster-father to the Bacchic One. Horse-eared and horse-tailed, You ride your ass through the revels, Dispensing inebriated philosophy, As wise as it is slurred, As caring as it is jumbled. Bless us with your wisdom And don't fall off....

The Bakcheion is Open

The Bakcheion, with text about the Starry Bull tradition and an large set of virtual shrines, is now open. If you're interested in the tradition, or just curious about what the hell I'm talking about, go check it out. Some of my writing will be up there soon, too, things I wrote for various anthologies that never got published....

Retreat Weekend

This weekend, I went on a Bacchic retreat with a small group of likeminded folks on the Oregon coast. We rented out a house on the beach and spent the days in ritual, conversation, prayer and divination. There was wine and there were gifts. There were processions, a mad prophet, raw meat, roasted beef heart, dancing on the edge where the water lapped, chanting and singing, and for the first time, I played my drum in front of people. I saw again people I'd met before, and met in person for the first time people I'd only corresponded with online. It was pretty incredible. For the first time, I helped to write and then perform a ritual for a group. I had quite a bit of stage fright about it, but it went very well, and was a wonderful experience for me. I brought along the beginning of a project I've spoken of only a little here. I'm engaged in writing mortuary and funerary rituals for the Starry Bull tradition. I've done a great deal of reading and research for it, but very little writing. I am too conscious of the weight of the responsibility, too worried that I'll get it wrong to write much. But this weekend I knew I was going meet in person someone who had invested in my research, and I wanted to show her that I wasn't wasting that investment. So I finished writing the one ritual I'd gotten traction on, and brought it along to show people. The response was so positive that I am again fired up about it. I have more confidence in my ability to do this. I'm thinking of starting a second blog specifically for the project, collecting my research and notes and talking about the process. Rewriting Death is the name I have in mind. There were two big disappointments for me, both involving only my own body and no fault to anyone else. First, I sliced the underside of my little toe open stepping on broken glass late Thursday night, and spent four hours in the emergency room getting it stitched up again. Not only did I get very little sleep before the long drive down, but I had to be very careful of it all weekend. I couldn't get sand in it. I couldn't go for a cleansing ritual plunge in the cold Pacific. I couldn't enjoy the hot tub. There is very little less conducive to a ritual mindset than double bagging one's right foot. The mad prophet helped me out, though. And then, hauling supplies up and down the narrow and twisting path to the beach, I sent my back into a nasty spasm, and suffered some pretty serious pain the rest of Saturday night and Sunday. A good night's sleep in my own bed and some care taken of it has helped that enormously, though. It was a weekend that made solitary me want to do more ritual with other people. Preferably without injuring myself....

Out

The internet's out again, and I'm getting ready to leave town in the morning for a religious retreat. So really out. I'd meant to do a write up of this coordinated effort to hex a rapist and the judge who gave him an absurdly light sentence. I meant to, and then I read the thread. I am so sick of this bullshit. So very, very sick. Victim blaming, misogyny, respectability politics, clueless cultural appropriation (if you don't know what karma actually is and how it works, you don't get to claim it's going to punish people), insistence that the Wiccan Threefold Law applied to everybody, or that the "Witch's Pyramid" (which is actually from ceremonial magic) is something everybody needs to stick to ("to know, to will, to dare, and the keep silent"). People claiming witches are going to get lynched over this. All kinds of crap. So sick of this shit. Me, if I had the cash, I'd be ordering some lead foil for a curse tablet. But that's just me. I'm all at sixes and sevens today, stressed about how much I have to do for tomorrow. Freaking out realizing something I ordered for this never arrived. Serious anxiety despite having taken an anxiolytic. Scared to think about what it would be like if I hadn't. It will all get done, and I will have a fine time. But today sucks....

Writing Ritual

So I'm planning a retreat with some friends for this summer, and somehow I and two others got voluntold to write the main ritual. Um. OK. I, at least, have only ever helped to plan a ritual in a significantly larger group of planners, with people who are able to get and keep the ball rolling on the planning itself. This new thing is a little bit nerve wracking. It took a while for us to get rolling, and since there was community drama going on, silence from my writing partners kicked off my anxiety a bit. We got over than, and slowly built up a head of steam. It's a fascinating process. I've been throwing out images and phrases that have power, one writing partner has been keeping us focused on the purpose of the ritual, and the third has been good at finding methods. I think we're making a good team, now that we're rolling. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and we won't know for sure how good a job we've done until the ritual's performed....

Updates to the Starry Bull week

For more than a year and a half now, I've been keeping a weekly cycle of prayers in the Starry Bull tradition. I like it. It works well for me, and along with my prayers to the Hyades and the Purple Thread, gives me a pattern, a backbone for my daily practice. A while back, the original Thiasos of the Starry Bull was dissolved. Now the tradition is in the process of being reborn. Which is cool to participate in, but it does mean some things are changing and being updated. For example, the weekly calendar has been changed. The Heroes and Heroines share a day now, and the rest of the Retinue of Dionysos has its own day. I actually really like this particular change. For a while, I had four days of the week with two verses to recite, and three days with only one verse, which felt very unbalanced to me. The new schedule allows me to correct that imbalance, by giving the Nymphs and Satyrs each a verse of their own, where they used to share one, and then dividing the rest of the Retinue into two overlapping groups. It gives me new things to think about, too. I like to store my prayers here, so I can find them easily. Maybe someone else will find them interesting, too. Sunday: I pray to Dionysos Who liberates and saves us Who offers an eternal feast to those who know the Mystery I pray to Dionysos, who is the Starry Bull I pray to Apollon Who runs with wolves Who knows and who tells I pray to Apollon of the Starry Bull Monday: I pray to Persephone The Iron Queen of Erebos Who welcomes and transforms the reveler I pray to Persephone of the Starry Bull I pray to Melinoe She of the double nature The light in the darkness and the dark in the light I pray to Melinoe of the Starry Bull Tuesday: I pray to Ariadne Who guides the way to the Starry Bull, And returns from under the earth I pray to Ariadne of the Starry Bull I pray to Aphrodite She who brings together what is separate Who inspires the action of the night I pray to Aphrodite of the Starry Bull Wednesday: I pray to Hermes Of the staff and the fleet feet Who guides us down and sets our feet on the path I pray to Hermes of the Starry Bull I pray to Hekate Who brings the Dead to the feast Who dances in revels lit by her torches I pray to Hekate of the Starry Bull Thursday: I pray to the Heroes Those who have walked these paths before And feast forever at our Lord’s side 
I pray to the Heroes of the Starry Bull I pray to the Heroines 
Who have sorrowed before us 
And will rejoice beside us when we follow 
I pray to the Heroines of the Starry Bull Friday: I pray to the Band Above Who swirl around him in the open air To dance and drink in mortal lands I pray to the Band Above of the Starry Bull I pray to the Band Below Who revel in dark caverns To welcome shades to the Dry Lands I pray to the Band Below of the Starry Bull Saturday: I pray to the Nymphs Who welcome him to mountain and to spring Their songs filling the air sweetly I pray to the Nymphs of the Starry Bull I pray to the Satyrs Who follow him through fields dark and light Their hooves drumming a beat on the earth I pray to the Satyrs of the Starry Bull I'm particularly pleased with a couple of aspects of the new verses. Nymphs are, for the most part, spirits of particular places -- of this spring, that tree, the mountain over there, the mouth of this river where it empties into the sea. And so they welcome Dionysos into their places. Not that they can't and don't travel with him, but they are also already in their own places when he arrives. Satyrs, too, are earth-spirits, but are less place-focused. They tend to be associated more with agricultural and/or seasonal cycles, with rhythms. And so they follow him, and they drum. For the Band -- and finding that one word took as much time as writing all the rest; retinue was too long for the form, and I had to test out three or for others before I decided I liked the alliteration of Band Above and Band Below, and liked the implication of wandering more broadly -- I wanted the strong images of above-ground and below-ground, of sun and trees and open air, and of vast dark spaces where the Dead are, of Life and...

More Phabulous Phlying Phalloi

At some point, I'm going to put up a shop somewhere, and then I won't put so many of them here. But I am REALLY PROUD of these. I think I'm really improving. First, my Little Blue Daimon, more directly fan art for Ursula Vernon. No horns, light shimmery blue, kind of shy, just that tail to warn you he might be up to something. Cute, isn't he? Next is his buddy the Angel, who looks like he might be on the way to a Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence show. Most of his glitter doesn't show. Aww. Here's a rather more devilish fellow, made as a birthday present for a friend. He then made me explain it to his daughter. And now the one I'm most proud of! The Starry Bull himself! I'm soooo happy with this fella. The horns and ears and wings line up right. His little hoofy-woofies are so cute. He has the Hyades (the stars of Taurus' head) on his face and horns, and the Corona Borealis as a cutie mark on his rump. And the trio of daimon, angel and bull. I feel like I'm progressing a lot with this, and am very happy with this batch....