Ancestors

It was time

 

Time to return to the sea. It had been a growing need. The thundering of hooves in the mind blending with the rhythmic clash of the waves on the rocks. The soul centering balance of being at the place where all three worlds meet. Bad luck had been at my heels all winter, it all cried out for the cleansing waters of brine. There would be no stopping this pilgrimage. There would be offerings made, there would be fire, there would be water, no matter how cold.

The tide was high, and while the land surrounding this beloved slice of sea is going through much upheaval and change (a “reconstruction of the water table” that I am unconvinced is for the benefit of the land itself…) the beach and the sea remained as it ever was. The sky shone out cerulean blue from between its wisps of gray and the sun sparkled on the sea with tantalizing warmth. The evocative call of the sea and it’s jeweled adventures. Beautiful, deadly, a delightful trap if ever there was one.

The Corvid brothers wheeled in the sky and preened on the beach. Eager, and anxious for what was to follow, if a little reproachful at the long absences. But amends would be made.

With my own two hands I gathered the stones, carrying, rolling, pulling from the sand. Piecing together a pit where there was none. With stones you build. And it felt good. Good to stretch the muscles, good to have grit under my nails, good to take those beautiful stones of the beach and honor them with fire and libation. Once gathered, our fire starter set to work, and the food was laid out and all was good.

 

After eating our fill, laughing, turning our faces up to the sun and feeling its warmth. It was time. Time to throw the past on the fire, to drink to our Ancestors whose time of high power was drawing to a close, to ask for their blessings. I gave the flames the holly, cedar and pine that had been gathered for the great Ancestral Feast. Giving the spirits fully the essence of those plants that kept us safe in the dark nights. The smoke billowed high, and the fire higher. Toast of the Winter Brew were passed around and good cheer was given. Ancestors bless us, bless us with your wisdom. Bless us with hearth and home, with prosperity and wealth, with the way forward.

Then it was time to make our offerings to the Gods. Carefully planned and prepared, each of us with a mission of our own. Each of us with our own Gods to tend to. On my brass platter a mighty cow’s heart, drenched in barley, oats, honey, whisky, and rosemary. In the wooden vessel: strawberries, tomatoes, chocolate, potatoes and sausage. A split apple of my love and devotion. Out I walked hands full, towards the rocks, and the jagged sea. The Raven Brothers followed close behind, their chorus a harsh and beautiful chant. The rock was chosen and all laid out, the apple given as a token to the Brothers. And in the presence of all Three Realms, and those that are my beloved, I sang.

I sang, and prayed. I lifted my voice, in love, in strength, in courage and frustration. I was not meek and mild.  In that moment there was understanding, and I was seen. The sun shone. The sea glinted with resplendent glory,  and the Ravens cawed.

The sea, the sea. All can be cured in the sea. With my dark Irish red beer for the Son of the Sea, I stripped down to my skivvies and answered the call that had been so long in my ear. And it was cold. The kind of cold that burns, yet it brought a smile to my face. The waves teased and enticed us farther and father out. Laughingly, cautiously we ventured forth. With squeals and delight I submerged my netted shall in the foamy brine, forever dedicating it to he who keeps the veil. And dripping diamonds of salt water I poured it over my head. Gone was the illness that had plagued me for days before, gone was the coughing, the pain. In its place joy, clean pure, and ecstatic. For as long as my poor broken foot would allow I stayed there, in that liminal state. Not properly in any one realm, instead joyfully in all three. And then back to the fire, to the warmth and sanctuary of land. Grateful for my gift. One special and large witch’s stone to take with me.

I treasure these times. These places, where all my Gods are so vibrant and real and near. These moments when so much can be felt and done. These dark moon offerings shall forever be cherished by me.

Until next time, the time when the Sea calls…

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Remembering Virginia Lois Rogers

Virginia Lois Rogers Jan 4th 1921 - April 30 2008

 

Today my Grandmother would have been 91 years old. Even though this picture was taken before I was born (as evidence by my fathers beard and side-burns. Something he never donned in my life while in the military and only recently has returned to) this is the image of my Grandmother I most remember. Same hair style, same or identical blue jean jacket (she was a practical woman, liked the color blue and thought denim was wonderfully wearable), same purse, same smile.

As a child I didn’t have a whole lot of actual time with my Grandmother, her living in Berkeley in her house and us living all over the United States. But I always felt a fond and deep connection with the woman who sent me drawing supplies, and other gifts that “used my talents”. She was the one I most remember encouraging me to draw, the first person I remember calling me an Artist. She taught me how to weave, to knit, to crochet. She was a skilled Artisan herself. Though she’d never own it, no in her mind she was only a “Craftsman”, claiming she lacked the imagination and creativity of a “real Artist”. But the things she made were things of beauty and she was prolific. Stunning jewel toned chenille scarves ran off her loom in no time at all. A house covered in paintings of “interesting faces” as she called them. Wise old women, craggly cowboys, the back heads of a row of school girls looking over a fence.  In the corners of her house the remains of past projects and their tools. The drawer filled with stained glass, each one hand made, each one an artwork. Every month she went out to her fellow Weavers Guild meeting, and learned a new exciting way to twist and charm threads into whatever she pleased.

And where the skills of her hands ended, there was the infinite skill of her mind and words. She was an avid reader, the house filled with books. Each and everyone had been read by her at least once, many several times over. An entire bookcase of mystery’s for her to pour over and get lost in the characters, there were the classic, and then the sci-fi. Not the shiny colored science fiction of today, no these were the paper backs of the beginning when the Science was very much the star of the show.  From her chair, next to the heating stove, where a thousands worlds and she knew them all.

I suppose you can tell that I loved my Grandmother very dearly. We butted heads, and looked at each other with confusion, but we were kin, and of the same kind. I think in a lot of ways my Grandmother wished she could have been born later, in my time. In a time when societal norms and pressure wouldn’t have weighed her down into getting married and having a family. Or at least might have provided her with a different view point to seeing what those things could mean and might look at. She was a liberal spirit,  a firm character, and a wise woman.  And while the picture above is the image I remember the most, it is the picture below that has become the one that best serves to resemble the spirit of the woman that was Virginia Lois Rogers, once Virginia Lois Weiss.

So Grandma, to you I raise my glass. To you who taught me so much, who went through so much before me and with me. To you who really was the Matriarch of your family. I love you.

Grandmother hear my prayer

The Ancestral Feast Part II

First and foremost, I would like to thank Ms. Dirty for being the inspiration and motivation for Temple Witch and I to get off our duffs and put into motion some of those glorious plans that we frequently yammer on and on about with stars in our eyes. I know that I get so much joy and just momentum seeing the gusto and spirit that you take to all of your workings. Truly I wish you all the blessings that you desire and need.

Now onto the FEAST!

Yesterday I woke up at 7:30 in the A.M. to begin my attack in order to capture that elusive beast called Epic and make him my bitch.  I believe I succeeded. The morning started with more cleaning, the kitchen had to be spotless. I’m not sure who was particular about that in my family was but it was someone lol. I pulled out Grandmama’s fancy white linen table-cloth, the one that last time I used I sadly had no starch (and still don’t), I could feel G-ma’s raised eyebrow at the wrinkles (the woman ironed her sheets). So out came the iron to massacre the dreaded wrinkles. Apparently a host of ants had taken up residence in my iron, so that was an adventure in a half. But soon I had it all straightened out in every sense of the word.

When it became a time were noise was appropriate I began the giant tetris game in my house.  You see our last minute invitation to some of our loved ones, had garnered more enthusiasm than we had dared to hope. So my cozy little apartment, was suddenly going to have to hold a feast for 16! Which makes for a great feast, but means that some maneuvering of furniture had to happen. Luckily I am strong like bull, and made quick work of it. Once the house was in order it was time for the food!

I had to start the Christmas pudding early. Christmas pudding requires a 6 hour water bath, and since the Lumberjack had requested it special I wanted to get it right. The roast only need 4hr, and the Rotkohl about 50 mins. All would be well. Even tho at this point I was oscillating between whether or not there would in fact be enough food for everybody. (It’s one of my greatest fears, not enough food)

I spent some time sprucing up my ancestor altar, saying my prayers to every one of my Beloved Dead and a few to those that I don’t know. Made sure that everyone was feeling comfortable for the night ahead, Grandma requested some Irish Coffee for the evening. Something I would happily oblige. My Grandmother loved Irish Coffee tho it was a treat she reserved for special occasions or when we visited the local Irish cafeteria style restaurant Brennan’s. I’ll never forget the content and happy look that my Grandmother got when she was sipping her Irish Coffee. It’s so easy for me know to see a younger her doing the same. In any event, as a few of her beloved Irish coffee cups have still survived I made a mental note to make sure she got a glass.

After some adventures of her own Temple Witch and the Giant (that’s right I’ve decided your code name shall be the Giant 😉 made their debut. Bringing with them a house full of helpful things to make this feast truly magical. Fancy dishes and platters from the Giants mother’s collection, the Temple Witch’s own punch set, candles to give mood to the occasion. And of course food and booze. Oh what food and booze too!!

Here is just what we started out with! The big ol’ jug was a gift for the Lumberjack, one that he dearly needed after a 13hr day at work and coming home to a raucous feast of 15 people lol. Here is also a shot of some of my Grandmother’s silver that we brought down for the occasion and Temple Witch was kind enough to loving polish up for the night. I personally think it helped add a bit of class to the evening.

Along with the spirits, they also brought a Santa sack full of bread. My Temple Witch is an accomplished baker, and omg does her bread just make the knees go weak. Seriously good stuff, her rolls where the stars of the dinner. The Giant popped out for the special sausage that they had tracked down to please her Portuguese ancestors and brought back 9 lbs of sausage! 9 lbs! My fears of not having enough food where quickly put to rest. It was delicious sausage too.

After some last minute cleaning (vacuuming, toilet scrubbing etc). It was time to decant our Winter’s Brew. Some time ago, hell I don’t remember when. Temple Witch came over with a bottle of brandy and we whipped up another brew (because our Primal Summer turned out sooo good) we laced it with apples, cinnamon, cloves, mugwort, and pomegranate seeds, and had been letting set and get good and ripe.

Here it is first brewed

 

Steeped and Aged

The apples had turned this brackish brown, the pom seeds almost a grey. But the brandy? Oh the brandy was a delightful golden mahogany. Once again we looked at each other conspiring for our next concoction, again concurring that we really should go in halfies on some proper tools (cheese cloth, a larger mouthed jar, strainers). Tho given the day and the honor of the feast using my Grandmother’s handkerchief was completely appropriate.

First glass of course went to the Ancestors. That was the rule of the evening in fact. And once their’s was poured the rest went in my new schnazzy liquor bottle to charge up on the altar and become even more divine.

 

Yes that is the Glorious Scottish Spoon that Ms. Dirty sent me. It spent the evening being the main serving utensil to the Beloved Dead, a task it was more than up for. The rest of the day was spent in excited anticipation for the evening. As the sun set, we turned on the Christmas lights, and lit the candles around the house. Set out our snacks, and generally admired all our hard work. The house was beautiful. My little house may be small, but it has a big heart. It new that some very important and well loved people were coming for dinner and just seemed to expand and make welcome as much it could. The beasties were on their best behavior and were rewarded in kind. And over all I was just so happy to be able to share the kind of home and welcoming and party that my immediate Ancestors never really had.

My father’s parents were unhappy with the social obligations that they were bound to, and as such occasions (especially later in life) just became those awful things. With the awkward silences, the tension, the feeling caged in. And my mother’s mother, life was so filled with obligations of taking care of everyone and her own yearning for grander things that I just don’t think she ever enjoyed herself when the family was around. This was my chance to have the come and relax, to care for them, to just let them and the whole energetic family line on both sides start to move towards a new way. A comfortable way. A way where feast, family, and holidays means food, laughter, joy, and love. A way where everyone looks forward to it, where the work is not a trail or a martyrdom but a quest where in the end all are victorious. Much of the prep and evening, I spent wishing that my blood family where there.  Because as a little nuclear family, they made those virtues and values a reality. One of these days I’ll get to show and share with my mom and dad how much I learned from them. That and well my dad would have LOVED the food lol.

Our guests arrived, with delicious food in tow. We had kielbasi, guacamole, salmon chowder, good ol’ mashed potatoes, Scottish Stovies, a family Brown Bread, and oh so much more.  The mead flowed, the glogg was made, cider’s were spilled, H.P. Lovecraft was discussed in detail, toasts were had, and in general it was just delightful. There is no doubt in my mind that the Winter Feast is a new tradition that I will gladly uphold. I believe Temple Witch is now scheming about Summer Feast plans, and over all I think all out guests living and not, were happy. As I said last night and I’ll say it again “We win.” lol

The night was merry and bright

 

The Candle that burned all thru the Night

 

Last but not least, I want to share the beautiful prayer that Temple Witch wrote up for our Ancestors, and penned in her stunning hand. Which I have plans on making our feasting prayer for ever Winter’s Feast, from here on out. Beautiful words from a beautiful lady.

In honor of our dear beloved dead we feast this night. 
To all of our dear ones we open our doors and our hearts.
To all those of our blood we open our doors and our hearts.
To all those whose spirits sing as our spirits sing we open our doors and our hearts.
Be welcome this night as we gather.
Partake of our feast, make merry by the light of our candles,
Join us in good cheer and celebration.
As our honored guests, we offer of our hospitality.
Be welcome all. 

And now my lovelies. To put it all back together again! lol To wrap presents, and prepare to head up to the Sierra Mountains. There in those wonderous peaks there is another dinner waiting and presents! Wishing you all a happy and blessed holiday season!

Ancestral Feast Part I

As I catch my breath from walking home from work, up a MASSIVE hill, with a backpack full of groceries, I shall take the time to write a blog post. If you hang around the same internet corners that I do (and you should, they are dark and wonderfully robust) you will have heard that Ms. Dirty threw down a Midwinter Challenge:

 I want to read/hear/see unapologetic, balls-fucking-out hedonism filling up the longest night of your year, and I want it to be truly effin’ special. So this year, my impish pampusky, I’m formally extending an invitation out to you to join us in your first loud-mouthed, rockin’-till-dawn dumb supper.

And really how could I say no? Naturally my little crabby friend, Temple Witch over at Smoke from the Temple, gave me those mischievousness jeweled hairy eyeballs from across the way and I knew it was ON!  So for the past…gods I don’t even fucking know how long at this point, I’ve been scrabbling like a madwoman to prepare for a Feast, send presents, hold ritual, prepare for a coven New Years event, and in general you know keep life rolling along. Yesterday I scrubbed my house within an inch of it’s life. Today I went to work, but I have a few things I can do tonight. One of them involves, this right now, lol. You see Ms. Dirty’s challenge was simple.

1. Write down your supper date (deadline: Jan. 19th)
2. Get your research on
3. Circle a few celebratory traditions
4. Make one traditional dish
5. Create an ancestor setting

Well one is taken care of it’s the 22nd, the Winter Solstice itself baby. And for number 2, that’s what this post is about.

My family history…is shady. By shady I mean most of it is unknown to me. You see something happened way back in the day, to the generation of men that fought in WWII. For some reason they decided family heritage was for the birds and better left to rot in a cold dark place. Basically both my grandfathers did not and will not tell bumpkis about their family. But I’ll break down what I know.

My father’s father, grew up somewhere in New England. His mom took his sister and left him with his dad when he was young, and then when he was about 17 his dad gave him $20 and told him never to come back (or so the story goes). He joined the Army and made his way to the West Coast where he met my grandmother. My father to this day does not know what his grandparents names were. And the fact of the matter is my grandfather was a wily fellow. Because not only is there a discrepancy in his middle name but also his birthdate. Was he Wallace Noonen Rogers born May17th or was he Wallace Nowack Rogers born May 18th? Or some combination thereof? My father recalls an incident where he heard the Granda had taken the name Nowack in his writing years (he apparently wrote western and mystery novellas) because someone was already writing under Wallace Noonen. In any event most the family seems to believe that his family was Irish/German. Fine. Not helpful but fine.

So we move on to my father’s mother. First of all she was adopted. Adopted in a time period where there are no birth records from adoption. Frankly that doesn’t bother me. She knew and loved her family very dearly, and my cultural outlook is chockful of the importance of fostering. With that in mind we follow the Wiess family and know they most certainly where German, what part of Germany remains unclear but fine.

On to Mother’s father. Mother’s father is still alive, but is reticence to speak of his family, tho she continues to try. What we do know is the granfather’s father came over to America from Germany. Story says it was during WWII, but I’m skeptical as that would mean my grandfather would have been born in Germany. But I suppose anything is possible. More than that, like names or anything is simply not known. Annoying but ok.

Mom’s mom was a Collins and were predominately of Irish stock. Tho the exact details she’s still trying to get me. I will continue to poke at her.

Out of all of that what we have is a lot of vague German and Irish lol.

For my Irish countryfolk:

  • I have collected some holly, pine and cedar. I haven’t found a good source for ivy as of yet (damn gardeners massacred the poor thing out front). It shall be displayed for them to appreciate. It was tradition in Ireland up until recently that while the men cleaned up the outside of the house, and the women the inside, that the children would go out and collect the decorations predominately Holly and Ivy.
  • I will be making a Christmas Pudding for the occasion, and hopefully will even be able to flambe the thing (YAY! Fire!)
  • After the feast I will have my version of the Laden Table. An Irish Christmas tradition of leaving the door unlocked with a loaf of caraway seed and raisin bread on the table. As well as a pitcher of milk and a lit candle. The idea seems to be leaving it there for Mary or Joseph to come partake or any weary traveller. But to mine Gaelic Pagan eyes I smell the remnants of an older practice. It speaks to the old sense of hospitality, towards mankind as well as Otherkind.

For the German good people

  • I will be making pork roast, Schweinsbraten. No where does it say that this is a traditional Midwinter or Christmas food. BUT Pork is one of the old traditional foods for Yule and winter. Plus it is authentic so I believe it will be well received. Along with our Schweinsbraten, I will be making Rotkohl, which IS traditional for christmas, it’s a red cabbage dish. I may or may not make potato dumplings at this point.
  • I would like to have a version of a yule log, but may not have the time. We do however have a christmas tree, which is a German tradition. Bedecked and bedazzled.
  • We shall have Gluewhein in a plenty!

Tomorrow I will be clearing down my main altar. Moving the Queen and Chieftain for a bit, with their approval, to make room for the ancestor’s place setting. They get the WHOLE big altar. And with the guest list turning all for the positive it shall be needed lol. I’ll finish the cleaning, and make the christmas pudding, and possibly dumplings and anything else I feel called to whip out for the occasion. Expect another post on the morrow, laden with photos of my exploits and mess making 😉

Happy Holidays everyone!!