Monday, January 30, 2012

Of One Match Fires and Magic

In our house, the first person that gets home from work makes the fire in the woodstove.  Most nights, that would be me, although I work an extra shift two nights a week.  On those two nights, my husband uses a piece of one of those store bought resin fire starter blocks to get the fire going.  Not me.  I carefully arrange two of the smallest pieces of wood that I can find in the pile, and then between them place good tinder, overlaid with whatever twigs or shavings I can find in the tinder box.  My goal is to start the fire with just one match.

Hubby’s method definitely gets him on the couch in less time.  The resin does catch quickly, and burns steadily and strong enough to get the logs going.  My method requires patience.  After the initial flame catches, I carefully continue to add twigs and splinters of wood of gradually increasing size, in a crosswise fashion so there’s always plenty of air between those pieces.  If I add them too quickly, the fire snuffs out for lack of oxygen; if I am not attentive and don’t add enough as the flame starts to gain strength, it dies for lack of fuel.   A balance of the basic elements is required.

So I have to sit before my baby fire a little bit before I can add some bigger pieces and walk away.  I’ve never timed it, but it does take me longer to get the fire going than my husband.

So why do I do it this way?

Ah well, the aspiration to light a one match fire comes from two sources.  A book I read in the fifth grade, and love to this day:  My Side of the Mountain (I still have a copy).  And my treasured experiences as a Girl Scout, at camp, where I first learned to build a good fire.  Ok that’s really corny, but it’s true.  I never had the gumption to run off and live in the base of a massive tree, that’s one of the few regrets in my life.  But I can light a mean fire.  And although my fire requires more direct attendance to get it going, it actually burns hotter and starts warming the room more quickly than my husband’s fire (and he would agree with me).

I think there’s two reasons.  One is intrinsic in the way the fire is built, the fuel is added gradually, with sufficient fuel, and also adequate airspace between the fuel.  So that there is always fuel present with the oxygen, which helps the fire burn more intensely.

And then there’s the matter of intent.  What I put into making the fire, comes out of the fire.

This evening as I was sitting cross legged in front of the stove, adding the gradually bigger pieces of kindling, I began musing that building a fire was not unlike carrying out a magical working.

Many who follow a pagan path work with some form of magic at one time or another; there are many of you who are much more experienced and adept than I.  So I’m not going to go into a lot of detail, and this definitely is not a “how to” post!    I’m going to speak in the most basic of terms.

When I’m building my fire, it’s a rare night that I don’t have to go out to the wood pile and kindling box and replenish the stack by the stove.  And I usually have to clean out last night’s ashes too.  If I don’t, the airflow is not as good, and it’s harder to get the fire going.  So first, there’s preparation.  From gathering your thoughts and assembling materials, to creating a time and space to work in.  Cleansing the area and putting everything you’ll need in your grasp.

As you proceed, focus is required.  On your intention.  If the phone rings at the wrong time after I light that single match,  if I answer,  my preparations may go to waste – the baby fire will die out due to lack of attention.  Focus. Intention.  A sense of mission.

Once the focus is successfully established,  and the intention defined, energy must be built to support and carry out the intention.  When I’m building my fire, I sit there, adding one small piece of kindling at a time… gradually adding bigger pieces….building the energy….

Sure, I could use the fire starter.  Sure, I could just recite the words that somebody else wrote, and be done with it.  Not the same.  Ideally, you would use your own words, your own thoughts; but many folks have difficulty writing their own rituals.  Understood.  I have used the words of others myself.  But, I try to spend time with those words, put my own thoughts into them….then they become my own, in some sense, expressed through chanting, singing, dancing.. whatever seems right to me.,

Intention, effort, energy building.  I build my fire, I build my energy working.  So many parallels.  And then, you release the energy, the intention, to the universe, so that it can be manifested. 

Once this is accomplished, there is one last step – grounding.  Releasing the excess energy to the earth, coming to center, balancing.  Banking the coals on the fire, so that you can safely close the grid, quieting the flames so that they will continue to provide warmth, but in a safe and controlled way, as you at last head upstairs to bed. 

May you find magic in every day living.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


I got skunked last night.  Literally.

A good meal, a couple of glasses of wine, a cozy fire….predictably, I fell asleep on the couch.  It had been a long week, and I was tired.  And so when I woke up a little after midnight, I decided that if I wanted any chance of sleeping in a bit in the morning, I had best take the dogs out to pee, one more time.

I went out the breezeway door, not bothering to turn the light on.  I was on auto-pilot and besides, there was nice moonlight.  The dogs did their duty very quickly and in just a couple of minutes we turned around.

But once we got near the breezeway, my dog-lets cowered behind me.  Scaredy cats, what’s bothering you? Ah, there it was.  In the dim light, I saw a whitish object, it looked like either a plastic grocery bag or piece of newspaper trapped in the corner right by the door step.  Silly dogs.

Without taking a closer look, I swooped down to scoop the trash away…..and touched… fur!!!!

Holy crap.  We all ran back out on the lawn.  Too late – my coat had gotten sprayed.  Once inside, I wiped it off (fortunately it’s a parka, the outside wasn’t fabric) and sprayed it with Fabreeze and called it a night.  My dogs, who wisely had stayed behind me, didn’t get any of the direct spray; they carried a faint odor but nothing terribly noxious.

So we went to bed.  And when we came downstairs in the morning, the hallway where my coat hung…. Stunk.  The coat stank, and so didn’t the jeans and sweater I had had on.  After two cycles through the washing machine and now the dryer with a ton of fabric sheets in, the odor is lessened but still pungent.  Hubby is making me hang my coat out on the porch…

So as I was doing chores today, I thought to myself, I could be so totally pissed.  I mean, the coat was brand new, a thoughtful Christmas present from my family, to keep me toasty warm on winter walks with the dogs. It’s not ruined, but it’s going to be some time before the odor’s gone….

But maybe Skunk came to teach me something.  Maybe there’s something I can take away from this encounter, beyond my husband’s admonition to turn the breezeway light on before I go out…

I’ve read about, but haven’t done too much work with animal totems; I couldn’t tell you which animal is my own totem.  Maybe I have more than one; that’s an exploration I have yet to undertake.  But as far as the meaning of the skunk, I read today that “when skunk comes, opportunities will open to bring self-esteem and respect”.  And also,  “The skunk is a very powerful totem with mystical and magical associations.  It teaches how to give respect, expect respect and demand respect.  This totem helps you recognize your own qualities and assert them.”

That’s interesting, because tomorrow I am interviewing at work for a higher level (and hopefully higher paid) position.  I had put my application and resume in two months ago, at which time I was pretty much told that I didn’t have all the qualifications they were looking for.   And now they have scheduled me to interview…..

“Skunks are fearless but peaceful.  These are two wonderful qualities which you can learn from your skunk totem.”  And also, “The skunk’s stripe is the outward sign of kundalini or life force.  When you receive a skunk totem, your kundalini or life force activates or amplifies.  You must learn to use this force effectively.”  And to think I swooped down and touched the stripe unknowingly….

But skunk has some admonitions for me as well.  The skunk is peaceful, but his odor repels people.  I must be assertive, but not in a way that will turn people off….  But perhaps skunk can help me tomorrow:  “Call upon the spirit of the skunk when you need quality judgment in a situation - particularly if you're in a stressful state, or someone is pushing your buttons. The skunk will ease you out of the situation with deft and diplomacy.”

As I type, the pups are under the table, playing with one of their “skin-eeze” toys.  The black and white one.  The one that’s the skunk.   Sometimes I have a thick head, but I’m getting this message loud and clear.  That toy is traveling to work tomorrow, tucked away into my work bag.  Even if I won’t be able to wear my new coat….

Giving credit to my resources:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Magick Bridges

What happens when a favorite shop closes, only to reopen just a few miles down the road from you?

You get happy, that's what!

I had found this neat little shop in Portland, several years ago.  I was never a big spender there, but I appreciated it simply being there.  I went there to absorb its unique atmosphere as much as to pick up a few books, candles, and other things here and there.

It moved a couple of years ago, to a location a bit more out of the way for me.   And with gas the way it is, I did not often make a trip there, unless I had other reasons to be in the area.  Then, last fall, the shop closed.   But in January it reopened, under a new partnership, new name, and a brand new location.  I finally got the chance to go to Magick Bridges today.

I was not disappointed.  They had some of my favorite stuff... and I did spend a few dollars.  The new place has a nice atmosphere and a good energy.   Not the same as the original shop - but then again, staying the same is not always what we're supposed to do.  I liked their new place, and I'll be back there over the weekend. 

Wishing every success to Magick Bridges, because it's really nice having them so close by!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Garden of Intention

Last night I cooked with what I call the “Holy Trinity” of seasonings:  that perfect combination that can apply in many situations; but always ends up smelling and tasting great, whenever you use it.

Sage, and Thyme, mixed with a bit of the EVO.  (Extra Virgin Olive Oil).

Last night’s application was a pork tenderloin.  The herbs were mixed into the olive oil to make a fluid paste that could easily be brushed onto the piece of meat, coating the meat with the herbs well, without excess oil.  The pork tenderloin came out great; this combo of  seasonings is fail safe for a good meal, and the best thing is, when you come downstairs the next day, your kitchen smells absolutely wonderful!  (Unlike some other “after odors”)

The cool thing was, this time, the sage was not bought from the grocery store, it was from my own garden. 

I have grown flowers for many years, and intermittently, vegetables.  I try, and then give up, because of all the “help” I get from the local groundhog, deer, raccoons, skunks, and even moles (who tunneled thru a perfectly lovely row of carrots one year).  But a year and a half ago my husband got into the act with me.  He wanted to try a new spot on the side of the house which gets a lot of sun, and helped me construct a nice raised bed, complete with a fence.  That first year was moderately successful – and it did prove to be critter proof!  Last year, we tweaked the layout and variety of what we planted, and I relegated space to a few herbs, which I sowed directly into the bed late May.

Although I always sow a pot of basil seeds inside the house to keep in the kitchen, I wanted to plant some outside, as my kitchen planting stays rather small.  I wanted those big, healthy, aromatic leaves.  For whatever reason, the outside germination rate was fairly low, but I did get several nice healthy plants growing.

Rosemary was my next choice.  Very poor germination, I ended up with two plants.  Plus I failed to read the packet – it requires a loooong time for germination, and they recommended starting them indoors.  Oops.  At the end of the summer I had two sprigs about three inches high… that was it.

Sage:  this was my bumper crop.  Very high germination rate, I ended up with 20 plants in two small rows, that grew very thriftily over the summer.

I let the herbs stay in the garden long past when the other vegetables were harvested, but eventually a hard frost loomed.  It was the baby rosemary plants that inspired me to pot my herbs, to keep in the house through the winter.  I didn’t pot all the basil and sage, some I cut to dry.  I made one pot of basil plants and five pots of sage (and I still had plenty of sage left over to dry!)  Plus the rosemary plants went into one pot.

It’s been really nice to have the fresh herbs in the house.  When we cook a turkey or chicken, I have plenty of sage leaves to put under the skin and inside the cavity.  Love doing that.   But with five pots, periodically I have to prune them back a bit, so I’m always drying leaves.  The basil is used frequently too; I don’t just pull leaves, I clip the stem down a bit, which actually stimulates new growth.  The rosemary I have not touched yet, but I will be doing so soon, so that it will branch and not get too spindly.

The plants have done amazingly well.  It was this last new moon cycle that saw me using them for other than culinary purposes, and that got me thinking.  Planning my garden for the spring.

Over time I have developed a personal dictionary of herbs, wildflowers, roots, trees… even foods… that lists their magical or ritual uses.   Some entries are more complete than others, but I do try to tuck away nuggets of information when I encounter them.  I think maybe its time to go back and review that dictionary, maybe add to it.

My goal is this:  a well balanced garden.  Both in terms of nutritional benefits for my family – you can’t eat too many vegetables.  But beyond just eating:  balancing and supporting our goals, our wishes and desires.

What vegetables, herbs, and flowers have associations that represent what we need in our lives, and what we aspire too?  What are the plants that have different elemental associations?  Can I come up with a garden plan that will include plants that will draw upon all the elements? Hmm.  I’m not going to limit myself to just the vegetable plot… some of my flower beds might profit from a “redo” as well.  Maybe some of the kitchen witches out there could give me some pointers…..

So, that’s my homework, my preparation for Imbolc.  What do I wish to see realized for my family over the months to come?  What plantings do I want to include for their positive associations?  What plantings will represent all the different elements?  That will keep me busy for a bit.  I’ll be drawing up my garden plan, and will lay it out on one of my altars the eve of Imbolc.  As I light my candles, I will ask for a blessing, that those plans will see fruition.

May the seeds you sow in darkness bring new life in the coming light.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Cross Posting: The Story of Dog

I found this today at No Unsacred Space and I have to share....

See, my familiars are dogs.  I like cats - I've owned cats - but I really am more of a dog person.  I put my kids through much embarassment by going gaga over their friends' family dogs, on the sidelines of their sports events.  I was hopeless.  I had to get a dog.... and I've had a canine companion ever since.

My current canine family are two Jack Russells, now about 18 months old.  All my friends who are at the same stage of life (empty nesters or about to be) shook their head when I brought the pups home, one week before my youngest when off to college. What can I say?  I still had a need to nuture....

They are great dogs.  Yes, they have plenty of energy, but they ensure I get regular exercise and they are so comical.  You cannot not smile when they are around.  As bleak and tough as things have been from time to time, they help me see the good things in life.  And always, there is their unconditional love.

Yes, I am a full bore dog person.  I've done the dog show thing, now I am doing performance events.  Training my dogs is a joyful thing in my life.  They get the best of care.  My daughter says I feed them better than most people eat...  (See my previous post about canine diets).  And I have a friend who says that when she dies, she wants to come back as one of my dogs.

So you see why I simply had to cross post this piece by Juniper Jeni.  Its The Story of Dog

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Imbolc - the Quickening

Well, we are nearing the end of January… today I am thinking about Imbolc.

As I shifted my viewpoint from monotheism to a polytheistic perspective of deity,  I began reading about, and eventually observing, the sabbats.  Some of the holidays were easy to identify with; others were not.  Initially, I was following observances from books or online sources.  While I always found it worthwhile to take the time to do this, some things did not resonate very strongly, or tie directly into my life.

Imbolc was one I found difficult to connect with personally for quite some time, largely because the original contructs of the observance seem to tie in with a particular location, or specific occurrence of particular events.  Imbolc, celebrated on February 2, is originally a Celtic holiday; the word “Imbolc” literally translates to lamb’s milk.  In the British Isles, at this time of year, this is when ewes begin to bear their young, and so, new life returns to the land.  I don’t know about you, but where I live, there aren’t many lambs being born around this time.  (That may be, because there aren’t many sheep raised in this area!)  Snowdrops and crocuses won’t be seen for a good two months, if not more.  Some of our worst snow storms are yet to come, and temperatures are at their bitterest. (Even my rambunctious pups aren’t so eager to go out, and lift and shake their paws pitifully from the iced over snow.)  So, the organic connection, the tie that comes from a local characteristic of the land or its pastoral traditions, is missing.

What about the tradition’s Deity?  Would there be a connection there?

That would be Brighid,

That first year, Brighid was mostly a name.  I did not know her.  Relationships don’t just happen because your mind says one needs to be in place.  I strongly felt the presence of the Goddess at that time, but She did not have a face, I could not call Her by name.  I remember reading and researching various pantheons, and feeling a bit like that lost baby bird in the Dr. Seuss book:  “Are you my mother?  Are you my mother?”  Eventually I would find Her, both because I was looking, but also because She came to me.  But it wasn’t Brighid, and although I have gained experience with working with aspects of Deity I do not know well, it’s not the same as having a more direct connection.

Something that I really like to spend time reading and writing about, is the inter-relatedness of different holidays that are celebrated at the same time of the year.  My perspective is not colored by the “who came first” issue, I just like knowing the history and origin of the different traditions.  I had originally intended to go into bits about Ground Hog’s Day and Candlemas, but this info has been described in many places on the ‘net, and this post is getting long enough.  Perhaps another day.

But I love the corny tradition of Punxsutawney Phil and Ground Hog’s Day.  Which, by the way, is one of my favorite movies:  Bill Murray waking up over and over to that nauseating Sonny and Cher song, to be faced with the same day, again and again, no matter what he does to change his fate.  It’s a perfect metaphor for how I feel this time of year:  I’m stuck in perpetual winter, whether that means suffering from chronic snow shoveling and car scraping, or slogging through that wonderful combination of slush, salt, and sand.  It’s never gonna end…..

Until you find something.  Bill Murray found love.  (Hmm, isn’t Valentine’s Day just around the corner?)  What can I do to break the spell of Old Man Winter?

A few years ago a younger colleague became pregnant after Christmas.  Poor thing, she was surrounded by all these older moms who regaled her with all their pregnancy and childbirth stories.  (Those memories run deep, no matter how long the years.)  Those memories helped me find my personal metaphor for Imbolc.

My first pregnancy was not unplanned, but even so, when the test came back positive, I was a little unnerved.  Was I really ready to be a mother, to be so responsible for another being’s life and happiness?  And as I went through the very early stages of pregnancy, the idea of a real, live baby remained oddly abstract.  Then around the sixteenth week, not quite halfway through, I felt something.  A flutter in my abdomen, so slight I wasn’t even sure it had really happened.  And then it happened again.  This was the first tangible evidence there really was a new life within me.  Although my due date was still a few months away I knew now that a baby – my baby – was really coming, and my heart smiled.

Likewise, Imbolc is a cross quarter day:  halfway between Yule – the return of the sun – and Ostara, the vernal equinox, the true arrival of spring in my part of the world.  At Yule, we were given the promise of the return of light.  And although the sun has turned back toward us, the cold and the dark still seem to rule.  But at Imbolc, if I pay attention, I can see and feel those first stirrings of life.  A subtle difference in the way the sun shines.  An extra ounce of warmth felt at noon time.  A difference in the way the birds sing…and if I take the time to check my calendar, since the Solstice, we will have gained 58 minutes of daylight!

And so, to me, Imbolc is the quickening, the first faint stirrings of life in the belly of the earth.  It will be some time before that new life is realized, but the stirrings are enough to help me keep faith.  I still carry with me the tenet of faith from my former path, because I feel it is a true concept for all paths: simply a belief in things that are not yet realized.  It is still deep dark winter, but I have been given a sign that new life will come.

I haven’t yet figured out how I’m going to celebrate Imbolc 2012, aside from lighting lots of candles, and checking CNN to see if Phil saw his shadow or not.  But I am going to honor Brighid this year, and I have a few other ideas.  I’ve got some time, no worries.  Now that I know what it really means to me, how to give it form will come to me in due time. 

In the Darkness of Winter, may you find the Blessing of Light.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cigar Box Altar: Craft Project for the Weekend

I had the desire today, to create more sacred space in my home.  I have a couple of spots set up as altars, but I want more.

There are not a lot of available places to do this.  We don’t have a big house, and although as an almost-empty-nester, I do need to do some serious closet cleaning, for the most part the space in my house is efficiently utilized.  There’s not a lot of extra space, so, it becomes a matter of spaces serving multiple purposes.

I had this insane brainstorm today.  I got my husband some good cigars for Christmas.  Good, meaning I actually like the smell of them myself.  Good, meaning you buy only one or two of these little babies at a time.  Because they’re a little more pricey than your average stogie.  But it was his Christmas, and he’s worth it.

So I found a good local smokeshop (hubby shops online) and bought 4 cigars, of 2 of his favorite kind.  I was very surprised when I was handed 2 very nice wooden boxes!  The shop owner explained, as luck would have it, I was buying the last two of those particular brands/variety, and so, I could have the box they came in.  That day, I learned that good cigars don’t come in cardboard boxes.  Bonus!  Now I had a really nice box to wrap and put under the tree.

My husband loved my cigar choices;  he saves his favorites for Friday and Saturday evenings. So he put his new cigars into his humidor, leaving the wooden cigar boxes empty.  The boxes were too beautiful to toss in the post holiday garbage.  Stained wood, felt linings… they had to have a use.  But what?

My answer came today.  Cigar box mini altars!  This weekend I will be on the lookout as I walk the dogs, for natural symbols.  And I’ll visit the craft stores and the second hand shops.  What mini representations can I find for the four elements and the God and Goddess?  What can I use for mini candle holders?  (Birthday cake candles would be a perfect size.)  All these elements will be placed inside the box, which I can put on a bureau or some other spot.  The boxes are very attractive and will fit nicely into several spaces I have in mind.  When I want and need to, I simply open the box, and I have a physical focus for reflection and meditation.   I have two boxes… perhaps I could devote each one to a different deity?  What fun.  It’s great to find a positive focus for my creative energies!

May the Lord and Lady bless you with inspiration and ingenuity.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cross Posting: The BIGGEST Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself

Fear is an issue that I have mentioned in a few of my posts.  Fear (could that be equated to lack of faith, lack of confidence in the universe?)  sometimes paralyzes me into a state of inaction that does nothing to improve current circumstances.  And sometimes, it actually serves to worsen them.

Fear is one of my worst enemies.  I have come face to face with this fact in this new year, and have undertaken to battle this foe, to banish it.  Or, at the very least, to lessen its power over me, because from time to time it does serve useful cautionary, warning purposes.  It has  its place, as long as it doesn’t control you.

It’s like a guard dog, that should bark to alert you of strangers and prowlers.  But never let the same dog learn that it can bark AT you to influence your actions.  Or put you in the corner.

Perhaps fear is an instinctive reaction during these dark days of winter, but, I resolve anew to not let fear create any more negative thought forms in my life, to weaken me physically, emotionally, mentally; to rob me of personal energy and power.  I need to put another kind of energy out there!

This fellow blogger says it so well, and her posting came today, at a time when I so needed to hear this lesson.  Please do check out the rest of her blog. Go to:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tuning In to the Energy of the New Moon

Ok, so, I’ve been plugging along this month.  I made resolutions/intentions/goals (whatever you want to call them).   I’ve made some good efforts, hit some stumbling blocks, picked myself up, and carried on.

My goals and intentions are not frivolities – they revolve around very real needs my family faces.  And so my goal for this month was to harness the energy of the practical Capricorn sun, to focus and work on the things that needed doing.  Because, my Puritan ancestry keeps whispering to me “God/Goddess helps those who help themselves.”

Well, I have done pretty good at that.  There has been some difficult stuff I needed to attend to, that was so overwhelming I became real good at avoiding it.  Especially over the holidays.  Beginning in January, I broke the big things into smaller tasks, with the idea I would do at least one unpleasant thing a day.  I haven’t been perfect. But, I have been better, so that I do feel more on top of some things, and less overwhelmed and out of control.  Thank you, you old goat Capricorn.

But, despite these efforts, I am not where I wanted to be, hoped to be.  Some goals remain yet unrealized, some needs not yet fulfilled.    And so now, a bit less than a week before an upcoming new moon, I am reviewing what I’ve done so far this month, what I need to change, what I need to aspire to.

The new moon every month represents a new chance, a new beginning, a new energy.  The waning moon also represents an opportunity:  what’s not working, what do I need to eliminate, so that something better can take its place.  If the need is great, my personal practice is to spend some time reflecting, reassessing what is not quite right, and then carry out  a working of elimination during the three days prior to the new moon.  And then to do some kind of observance just after the new moon to hopefully kindle the onset of changes I hope to realize in the weeks to come.

I will be doing that this new moon cycle, because things didn’t open up the way I’d hope they would.  But I do already have some thoughts, as to why they didn’t.

I did very well setting out the practical (Capricorn) things I needed to do. Actions that would negate some of the negatives.  What I didn’t do, although I had intended to, was to rebuild a plan for what positives would take place of the negatives.

In other words, I did not spend time visualizing and breathing life into the future form of my life. 

A few years ago, I was exposed to, and did practice for some time, a Hawaiian form of magic called Huna.  This is an over simplified representation, but it entails creating a vision of your future desired state (what I called, “my castle in the clouds”), and then sending positive energy to that vision each day.  It’s a long term, day to day endeavour (something impatient Geminii’s like me are not good at).  But, I did practice this for several months, and I do believe there were some opportunities realized because of this.

So at the beginning of this month, I did some hard and necessary practical work, but did not accompany that with visualization for the future.  The new moon represents an opportunity for me to do this, and begin the cycle anew.

One thing I have begun to become aware of, is that the energy of each New Moon ( and Full Moon) is subtly affected by which astrological sign it occurs in.  Each sign is going to put a specific flavor on each new and full moon.  This is a fairly new awareness for me, one I am still learning about.

And so, we have  new moon, on January 23, in the sign of Aquarius.  What are its energies?

One thing I’ve read, is that the energy is influenced by which house the moon is appearing in, in your natal horoscope.  Well the moon in my natal horoscope is in the 5th house, the house of pleasure???

I am so totally confused.  I have all these practical needs that need to be addressed, and the new moon energy is in my house of pleasure? 

Something does not add up here. I am not asking for a free reading from the astrologers in my audience but if you could just throw me a clue.  I’ve had a professional natal chart done before:  Sun:  Geminii    Moon:  Sagitarrius   Ascendant:  Cancer.

Is the universe telling me I am working too hard? Well that would be a bit of a joke.

Any hoo.  (She shakes off, like the pups do when they come in from the rain.)

The waning moon still represents  the opportunity to weed out the things that are not working, so at the beginning of next week, we can initiate another fresh cycle of positive change.  In one way or another…. That’s what I’ll be doing!

I will be focusing on using the energies of the Universe, by appropriately aligning myself, and my activities within them.  And at the same time attending to what I need to do in the world of form to affect positive change.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Of Man Caves and Man Altars

Ok, so at least I did stick to my plan for this weekend.  And that was first and foremost, to do some very hard work that I had been avoiding.  Because I was fearful of the outcome. (See my previous post, Cross Posting:  To Walk with Resolution: The Energy and Guidance of a Star)

So, the outcome was not great, but, I did come up with a game plan.  I will still move forward…  even tho I still can’t see my way through the shadows, I won’t let that stall me.  Because being paralyzed by fear is not a good option!  So.  I did take those first few steps, and hopefully when I wake up tomorrow, will find the faith to continue forward.

That was not all that I did this weekend…..although we had taken down the tree last weekend, there was still post-holiday clutter around.  I am not a neat freak by any means, but sometimes you just gotta clean up.  And so we did.  And in the process, things got interesting.

Part and parcel of having lived “in the closet” is that I haven’t had a good place to have an altar in my home.  Members of the immediate family – including my better half – aren’t entirely comfortable with this change in path I’ve made mid-life.  But since I maintain the same holiday traditions we have always done (as a nominally Catholic family, except for me), subtle demonstrations of my new path are accepted.  Any altar I set up, has candles (nothing new for me or this house) and symbols that are natural - sand dollars make great natural pentacles.  Pinecones and seashells are other symbolic decorations.  These things have always been part of my décor, now I just use them with intention.

We do have a small dining room, a family room, and another room, you would call either a sitting room or a den.  My husband actually enjoys setting up the décor of the house, so over the years, I have let him have free reign, in most rooms.  The family room is pretty much a “man cave”, with the prerequisite big screen TV.  But it looks great.  He does a great job, and is so helpful in all things, I let him do his thing.

The only rooms I have had sole reign over have been the dining room and that sitting room; I call it the front room, because it is on the front of the house, has a bay window, and gets excellent sunlight.  This is where I start a lot of seedlings, late winter, early spring.  The top of the piano in that room serves as a wonderful altar spot.

In the dining room, I have this small chest of drawers in the corner, that I have decorated with candles and symbols of both the God and Goddess as an altar.  Over the holidays, its setup was modified accordingly, and as we were putting things back in order today something interesting happened.

My husband, in the last year, has taken up cigar smoking.  The guy busts his butt working, so I do not begrudge him any creature comfort he finds helpful.  He bought a humidor to keep his cigars in good condition.  It’s like this little chest, actually very attractive.

He had this on the top of the bureau in our bedroom.  But, with the onset of colder weather, the humidity indicator in his cigar box dropped…. The upstairs does not get as warm as the downstairs these cold days.  So, he moved the humidor downstairs.  I had removed everything from that chest of drawers to thoroughly dust and clean before setting the altar back up…. And in the interlude he plunked the humidor smack dab in the middle.  He was so pleased with how it looked in that spot….

I can’t say it doesn’t look attractive.  And being downstairs, where the woodstove is burning, the humidity indicator has gone back up.  So it looks like its here in the dining room for the rest of the winter at least…..

So I have decided, this altar, for the rest of the winter anyways, will be dedicated to the masculine aspects of Deity.  Primarily for me, this is Cernunnos, but there are others I will honor as well.  But unlike before, this altar will be a “man cave” altar, dedicated specifically to the masculine aspects.  I haven’t finished setting it up yet, I have a few ideas, just want to have some time to consider them.

Practical and necessary work preceded writing and blogging this weekend; nonetheless, many ideas swirled in my head; I made notes and hopefully can catch up on all of them.

And may the Lord of the Hunt protect us all, and give us the fortitude to forge ahead, and do the work we need to do.

Friday, January 13, 2012

She Sleeps

I am at peace.  There is something right with the world tonight.  Nothing magical happened today that would allow me to figure out any of my current dilemmas, so why should I feel this way?  Go figure.  Or maybe, just go with it and let it be….

Maybe it’s the snow.  The snow that was nothing when I got up in the morning, but literally decided to DUMP in the hour between when I come in from taking the dogs out to the time I’m back downstairs, showered, dressed, ready to grab my cup of joe and go.  In that hour my car and the roads were coated with a wet, sticky, sleety kind of snow that gums up your windshield wipers and makes driving nasty, even with four wheel drive.   I was late to work, never a good thing, and so was late coming home.

To a driveway that was royally plugged; my daughter’s little car was stuck; she hadn’t been able to make it up the slight incline.  The plow guy hadn’t come yet; my husband was working late, so it was just the two of us with shovels… we eventually got her unstuck and out of the driveway… just as the plow guy showed up…

By rights, I should have been totally exasperated with the snow.

But I wasn’t.  This was the first big snow fall of the year – an unusually mild winter so far.  Yes in some ways, that’s a good thing.  But Winter, without snow, is just cold, dark, dank, and dismal.

Physically, I was revved up after the shoveling, and after being cooped up all day, the pups were ready for a royal romp in the snow.  And so, back outside I went.  My little doggies had to plow a path for themselves – it was surprisingly deep for just one day’s snowfall.  They alternated between following me as I broke the trail and exuberantly bounding ahead of me.  Even without moonlight, because of the cloud cover, the fresh fallen snow coating everything was beautiful.   And peaceful.  

By now, the pups had tired a bit, and we had crossed onto our neighbor’s property, where we were able to walk more easily on the freshly pressed trails left by his snowmobile.  He had gone in for the night; everybody else had finished snow shoveling, snow blowing, or plowing and had retreated indoors.  We walked in a lovely stillness.

There is just enough open space where I live, that at moments like these, I am able to feel the earth. But the earth was asleep, blissfully unaware of the blanket that was being laid over her. 

There is a point somewhere in winter, where everything seems to slow down.  The holidays are over; life, at least on weekends, has slowed its pace.  No big parties, no major events…  even if you are a ski fanatic (I am not), it’s still a different pace.

It’s almost like the world has gone into a vegetative state.  And in a very real sense, She has.  The Goddess sleeps….

Winter.  A period of rest and dormancy.  Some animals hibernate the whole season, spending the period either in pregnancy or, birthing and nursing their young in secure burrows beneath the snow.  Others may not go into total hibernation, but are less active during periods of severe weather. Others, like the deer, must continue to forage the best they can each and every day.  Winter to them, represents a harsh Master of reality who guarantees no outcome….

I am not a big winter person.  I don’t ski.  I like to skate, but my feet get cold too quickly in my skates!  I much prefer the warmth of the woodstove… To be honest, the only thing that gets me going outside in midwinter, is the prospect of exploring the woods.

Snow exposes the tracks of the wild creatures, allowing you to follow them at this time of year to their secret habits and sleeping places.  A few years back, my faithful canine companion Jack loved these mid-winter explorations.  Together we were able to follow and put together the habits of a local herd of deer… down to where they slept.  (I had local hunters trying to pick my brain for the details….to no avail!)

That was a bad winter, deep snow, very hard on the local deer herds.  Jack is no longer with me, and I have not yet retraced those steps in those woods with my current canine children….when the time is right we will.

This has been a mild winter so far, and while my husband and I have been rejoicing for the reduced demand on our oil tank (oil fuels hot water and heat only when the wood stove is not burning), I know winter serves its purpose.


Some life forms actually need this cold period to be fruitful.  Buy a pack of delphinium seeds:  a good supplier will tell you to put the seeds in the freezer before sowing.  I ignored this advice one year, and as a result, experienced very poor germination.  Next time I followed that advice, and now I have a steady crop of blooms (once established, they are great at self seeding!)

Apples… this was a science project in high school.  Apple seeds taken from the core of a consumed apple, planted directly, did not germinate.  The same seeds, mixed into a bag of potting soil and sand, that was stored in the refrigerator for two weeks, sprouted on subsequent planting.

Winter…this period of cold, darkness, seeming lifelessness and even death… is necessary.

What is the work that we need to do, in this dormant period?  What are the aspects of our lives that require re-examining, re-arranging? What are the things that we need to clean out, to prepare for the potential of new growth?  This is the pupose of winter.  The cold silent stillness of contemplation.  That hard work, that requires a quiet space and time apart.

I know I have my work cut out for me this winter; it is a blessing that I found the quiet still spaces this evening.  Before I go to bed, I will go outside once again, my excuse being that the dogs need to pee.  But when I go, I will take some apple quarters with me, to be left at the edge of our property, where I have seen the deer tracks before.  As an offering to Cernunno’s children, who alone stand watch as the Goddess sleeps.

May you find the deep peace of midwinter, as the earth sleeps.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cross Posting: To Walk with Resolution: The Energy and Guidance of a Star

So how is your New Year going?  Did you make resolutions?  Are you sticking to them?  Are you making forward progress?

I’ve had a few hard scrabble years, since 2009.  Nothing no more, no worse than other people and families have experienced.  But, the things I have experienced have changed my life, and in some ways, changed me.

Gone is a lot of the natural optimism that I was born with.  When before I could look at a half full glass and feel like I had plenty, now I look at the same glass and see that it’s half empty, and worry that it will be depleted before I can fill it again.

It’s become hard to have faith that the future will bring even the chance for improvement.  Not the right energy, I very well know, to send out to the universe.

Somehow, despite my increasing negativity, things did show a slight turn for the better in December.  So, I was encouraged that maybe 2012 would not be a year of doom and gloom, but instead, a year of opportunity.

My resolutions for the New Year revolved around taking action while the sun was in Capricorn.  (Capricorn being a practical sign, one that focuses on success.)  Basically doing what I could do, in the world of form as well as elsewhere, to fan the small flame of that new germ of good fortune into a stronger flame, one that would burn steadily and last a long time.

My mental analogy was my nightly duty starting the fire in our woodstove.  Being a former Girl Scout, I pride myself on my ability to start a “one match fire” without the help of anything but natural tinder.  Starting with the small stuff, gently feeding the fledgling flame til I can add pieces of gradually increasing size, until the fire takes on a life of its own.

That was my plan.  I had some specific things identified to work on, both on the practical plane, as well as the mental/intuitive/spiritual plane.  And the month started well.  But over last weekend, I hit a speed bump – an unanticipated obstacle.  I had been all set to start tackling some very difficult but necessary objectives, and then shit happened.

I was paralyzed by fear.  I went back into the “cup half empty” mode, and instead of forging ahead with what I knew I had to deal with, I froze.  Now, I’ve got some big things on my plate, and for them to be dealt with successfully, I am dependent on certain things happening in the right time. So that the glass will remain at least half full.   That’s the scary part, will these things come into fruition?  That makes it really hard just to forge ahead.  And yet I am not going to get anywhere by not making a go for it, and starting the process, despite not knowing all the cards.

I was frozen for three days, not doing anything.  And the longer I sat, the bleaker things looked.  I knew better, and at some points cursed myself.

So sometimes, the universe intervenes, even when maybe you don’t deserve it.  I came across a blog written by Alison Lilly today, and her piece “To Walk with Resolution”.  Alison is a wonderful writer; the piece starts with a description of her family’s Solstice celebration, which included naming your fears about going into the longest night of the year.  As one family member noted, “Going into the dark can be frightening….because you don’t know what’s coming.”  Well, I definitely would second that!  Alison had my attention.

Alison continued to lead the observance with these words:  “On the longest night, we think about the hope and promise of the light returning and the days growing longer and warmer again. But going into the future is a lot like going into the dark.”

“Ditto!”  was my immediate and out loud reaction to that.

Alison’s piece ended with words that helped me straighten out my road map, and get me going again: 

“To walk with resolution into the future the way I walked into the darkness of the woods that night, open to all that is unplanned and unexpected that I will meet along the way. That is my hope. Fear and hope turn on the same tense music of uncertainty. That first walk on New Year’s Eve, Sirius Night, was the beginning. The first steps in the journey of the coming year.”

And so, after reading these words in the late afternoon, I found some success in the evening; I am re-energized. The tasks ahead are no less in size than they were before, no less daunting.  But somehow now I have the vision of tunneling through the darkness and finding the light.

It’s one thing to make a resolution; it’s another to find the resolve to stick with them, make them happen.

I am also reminded of a definition from my past:  Faith:  belief and trust in things that are not yet before you, or realized.”  (But will be.)

It simply entails putting one foot forward after another, despite what you can, or cannot, see before you.  My Mantra for 2012 has now been revised to “Walking with both Resolve and Faith”.

But don’t just take my word for it, please read Alison’s wonderful writing:

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pagan is Not a Four Letter Word

I am a twelfth generation descendent of William Brewster, Puritan pastor who guided the Pilgrims on their Atlantic crossing on the Mayflower, and through their hardships as they settled the New World.  How does the multiple great granddaughter of a Puritan find her way to a Pagan path?

I always remember having a fascination with the spiritual.  As a little girl, I loved looking at the illustrations in my older siblings’ Bibles…..but it was more than just looking at pictures. I wanted to know.  I remember asking the minister on our way out of church one Sunday, “If God was the father of Jesus, who was the father of God?”  He didn’t really give me an answer…...

So for the rest of my childhood, and the majority of my married life, I channeled my yearnings for the spiritual into the established….my family attended a Congregational church, I experienced in my teen years a “conversion” in a Baptist church; after college I married a Catholic and explored that form of Christianity.

I always had questions.  There were points of doctrine in each denomination that didn’t add up, according to my naïve reasoning.  So I was always searching, trying to understand the theological points of each denomination, researching their histories… I learned a lot, and will never regret that.  The research I did has borne positive fruit in the form of more mature understanding as I have continued exploring in very different directions.

I ended up raising my children in the Catholic faith, though I never converted, and never came to terms with some points of their doctrine.  I do believe in raising children in some kind of spiritual framework, and that was the best I could do at the time.  That decision was good for my kids.  They have a launch pad for spirituality, and if ever the candle of thirst for more knowledge is lit for them as it was for me….they will go on, as I did.

So what happened to me, to change my course?  In many ways, simply, Life.  I lost my mother to a tragic accident.  I think that was the first turning point… Other difficulties followed, no more than others experience, but enough to bring me from the easy optimism that has been part of my personality since birth, to borderline depression.  As a worker in healthcare, I recognized the changes inside myself, but, like my stubborn fore fathers, did not reach out for medical help.

What did I do?  In a moment of darkness and weakness, something stupid.  Or not.  I succumbed to an internet offer for an inexpensive booklet of the self help variety, but one that ended up being a “fluffy” version of magic for beginners. 

A lot of the book was superficial, but with the natural sensitivity I think I was born with, I detected more than what was presented between the lines…. The book wasn’t a total waste of money, there was something in the essence of the book that said “look further”,  and so I began an inspired quest for knowledge in a new and different direction.  Plugging some of the themes from that simple book into a search engine was how I found many different spiritual realms, that months earlier, I confess I would not have given credence to.

I was becoming…. a witch.. or a Pagan…wasn’t really  sure which one.  I’m still not sure of the best label to apply to myself.  (See, I still am in the “ becoming” phase.)  Maybe the label doesn’t really matter.  Maybe it doesn’t even matter whether you know you are Episcopalian, or Methodist, or Buddhist, or Catholic, or Wiccan, or Druid or WHATEVER.  Maybe, all that matters is that you have a hungry heart.  That you seek.  That you thirst.  And, that you have an open mind and heart, in order to receive the messages that Divinity, in whatever guise they come, will send you, if you will listen.

I was always a kid that loved to play in the woods, build forts, get their feet wet and muddy in the streams.  From an early age I was attuned to the natural phases and cycles, and this is a natural fit for the Pagan path.   

But even so, that doesn’t make it easy to leave my background, to say, “I am not Christian”.    I did realize and find Divinity in the person of Jesus.  I’m not going to throw the baby out with the bath water; his persona is and always will be, real in my life.

But, I have begun to discover, he is only one facet of divinity.  There are others, that have become real in my life. Some feminine, replacing perhaps, my lost mother, but also some masculine.  I have had real experiences with three distinct personas (other than Jesus), so, my concept of Divinity is expanding.

Perhaps I will introduce them in future posts.

None of them seem to be affronted to any attention to the Others; rather, there is a simple sense of Communion whenever my focus is turned toward the Divine, in any of its aspects.

So, Pagan is not a four letter word.  It does not connotate a devil worshipping, nor, as I once thought, a state that is focused only on physical pleasures and is absent from the consideration of the Divine.  I was far mistaken in that aspect;  I am still learning of the many ways a Pagan soul communicates with Deity.

Communication there is, and it involves the whole person, body, mind, and soul.  The physical experience is important:  our senses are the portals through which we experience the world, and ultimately, the divine.  Pagan paths are all connected to the natural world, with all its cycles.  Attention to the monthly lunar cycle and the changing pattern of the sky, to the changing seasons, to the cycle of life and death and rebirth, even to the small bit of terra firma that we call “home” – all of these rely on the use of our physical senses, as well as our intuitive sense.  All of them are opportunities to connect with something much larger than our physical selves, but the experience begins in that physical self.

To those of you who have been on the path much longer than me, I apologize if some of what I have said is over-obvious, or may seem unnecessary.  Bear with me as I talk out loud on the internet, and maybe consider posting a comment and offering some of your wisdom.

Consider it, in a way, my “coming out party”.  I have been living pretty much in the broom closet, for a combination of good and not-so-good reasons.  This is my way of opening the door.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Canine Topic: the Raw Diet

Today something a bit different, but qualifying as relating to “some of my favorite things.”

Dogs.  Some of the best people in my life are, or have been, dogs. 

How do you feed your dog?

I was introduced to the concept of feeding the raw diet by the breeder of my two pups.  Well, actually, they are now over a year and a half old, but they are still my babies.

These are not my first canine children; others have gone before them (may they rest in peace with all the love of their human family).  But, when I brought these guys home, this was my first venture into raw feeding.

We were introduced to the topic on our first visit to the breeder, when she was taking reservations.  Being a very responsible breeder, she does not do a breeding until she has a certain number of prospective owners lined up.  Prospective owners who she feels will be caring and responsible to her progeny.  A good breeder will want more than just your money.  They will want to get to know a little bit about you, and they will want to educate you.  I was able to visit the litter several times before “puppy take home day” and so got to learn a lot.  (Although the original intention was one pup, we ended up bringing home two from the litter!  Comment if you want more of that story!)

When the topic of raw feeding was first raised, my husband and I had two very different reactions.  His was simply “Ewwww.”  Mine was more pragmatic, focused on infectious diseases.  (My day job is in a microbiology laboratory….Salmonella anyone???)

Our breeder, however, knew her stuff, she answered each and every question with detail and without evasion and backed them up with books and other resources  (appealing to my scientific side). So, when we brought the puppies home, we embarked on this new feeding plan.

Ok so I won’t go into all the details in this post, but I will leave you with a resource, and of course, please comment if you have questions.  I am a follower of this plan but don’t claim to be an expert, but I can point you to the experts!

First thing, why the raw diet?

Well, dogs are the descendents of wolves… they are, carnivores.  That means two things.

First of all, they don’t need carbohydrates in their diets!!!  ALL commercial kibbles on the market have some component of carbohydrate in them, even if that is from a source we would consider healthy, from a human standpoint.  Like rice, for example.   Guess what:  except for a few medical circumstances, you don’t need to feed your dog ANY carbohydrate!  Carbohydrates, in fact, are the major contributor to unwanted weight gain in dogs.

Second, as carnivores, what dogs really need is protein, and that is best served in the form of raw, meaty bones.  Yup, you got it, meat, on the bone.

Hey wait a tec, I thought you weren’t supposed to give your dogs certain bones?

Well yes, that is true:  if they are COOKED.  Bones, like chicken bones, when they are cooked, are easily splintered and do pose a risk to your dog.  But, the same bones, served RAW, are no problem.  It is only when they are cooked that they pose a risk. 

Raw, meaty bones offer many health advantages to your dog.  First of all the bones are a wonderful, natural source of phosphorus and calcium – this is so great for a growing puppy, and it’s also healthy for your adult dog.  The raw, unadulterated meat is of course valuable nutrition for them.

Dogs on a raw diet by default have good dental hygiene, even without intervention (ie, brushing or expensive vet visits) by their owners.  If they have the regular opportunity to eat raw meaty bones, the actions of ripping and tearing meat from the bone, as well as chewing the bone, serve to keep their teeth tartar free.

There are other benefits too.  My dogs don’t stink, even if it’s been weeks since they’ve had a bath.  And they don’t have bad breath.   I was told this was one of the benefits, but it didn’t really strike me until people who met my dogs said something about it.  So many people have commented on this when they first meet my dogs, and the comments are totally unsolicited.  I do believe this is because of what they eat!

So what do I feed my dogs?  First and foremost, they get protein (Meat!) from a variety of sources.  Beef, fish, pork, lamb, venison, chicken, turkey… also organ meats, kidneys, gizzards, and liver.  And, some eggs as well.  They get some of the parts of the animals we don’t typically cook – like the turkey necks or chicken backs.  It’s the variety of protein sources, as well as the inclusion of raw meaty bones, that is the success for this diet.

I am not a “purist” compared to some of my friends. You can adapt this feeding plan to your lifestyle.  My friends belong to coops, and buy large quantities of cuts, which include some of the things like tripe, chicken backs, turkey necks….stuff you are not going to encounter in the grocery store, as a routine!  I have gone in with them, once in a while, but I don’t have a big freezer so it’s just as easy for me to shop for the pups when I shop for us.  I buy the “manager’s specials” ie, cuts that are on their way out….. and that includes good stew beef, family packs of drumsticks, beef short ribs, various cuts of pork…liver and kidney too.  And also, I occasionally feed them leftover meat from our meals.  This is not “from the table”.  It is from the leftovers in the fridge.  Around holiday time, there were several opportunities to use cooked meat in their diet.  Although raw is preferred in this game plan,  cooked meat is fine too, especially if it’s a good cut of meat.   So that means that some leftovers that went to waste before, are now part of the pup’s meal plan!

So here’s how it works.  They get a meal with a raw bone about every other day. The day in between, they get some kind of meat or protein, plus some vegetables.  These are cooked vegetables, usually leftovers from the fridge. They do like raw carrots, and I occasionally give them some fruits.  Apple is a hit – either raw slices, or a whole apple, “nuked” til its soft.  I include some supplements too – Salmon oil, and a product that is seaweed based with a lot of good vitamins and trace minerals.

On a weekly basis, they are fed 2% of their desired body weight  (For my Jack Russells, that’s about 14 pounds) .  So, on the days that they get their raw meaty bone, this is a bigger meal…. The next day they get a much smaller meal.  (This was of course, after they were a year old and beyond the big growing period.)  That was a hard sell to the rest of the family, because my two pups were not above playing off their emotions.  They thought I was heartlessly starving the pups when the smaller meal was served.  They didn’t get it, that in the wild, it could be several days between a hunt and one kill, and the next meal.  The carnivore metabolism is not only designed for the digestion of raw meat, hide, and bones, but for periods of slim pickings between major meals.  Eventually I was successful disciplining everyone and they buy into the process.  There is no such thing as a dog biscuit in my house now….. “Treats” come in the form of bully sticks, and some rawhide chews.  

Proof of the pudding: my vet compliments the condition of my dogs, every time I take them in.  I follow the feeding guidelines of the diet, both in terms of amount of food and quality of food, and as a result I have fit and happy companions.  I am now a firm believer of raw feeding.

Is it more expensive?  Well that depends.  If you were feeding a kibble that was not one of the better brands, yes, it will be, especially if you have a large dog.  For the smaller breeds, because of the amounts you will be feeding, I truly believe you won’t see too much of a difference.  Prior to welcoming these pups home, I was feeding their predecessor a high quality kibble.  Not only was it more expensive than the grocery store brands, it required that extra trip (ie gas) to the pet supply stores.  Where I was tempted to buy toys…..

Right now, I can get everything I need at the grocery store.  One stop shopping for all of us.  I do participate in the coop once in a while to get a little variety in protein source, because that’s important.  But if push comes to shove, I can shop the grocery store and buy the cuts on sale.

This is the book, recommended by my breeder, that has been the basis for all my meal plans.  (You can get it on Nook and Kindle versions, FYI.)