Mother Lovers, and a Bath

I’ve learned over the years that one of the most important parts of dream retention is to pay attention to key words and phrases that stand out during a dream, even if they don’t seem to have any immediate meaning.

A while back I had a dream about my goddess self (a rare thing), and from that dream two phrases stood out:

“I am the mother of all my lovers. I bathe in the oceans, my hair in the clouds.”

The last few days have been strenuous and cold, and I came home this evening feeling very much in need of a hot bath. I have a hobby/side job making aromatherapy baths (balneotherapy!), so I filled the tub with hot water and a concoction consisting mostly of high altitude French lavender, South African peppermint, evening primrose oils and milk.

The water was perfect, and I just rested in the heat and steam for a long while, breathing deeply and grounding myself. I decided to try a gentle meditation experiment, and while I soaked, I started repeating the first phrase from my dream. I soon fell into a rhythm, and the tumbling words felt like fingers plucking endless arpeggios on a harp.

The sounds melted into new phrases as I repeated them:

I am the mother of all my lovers
I am the mother of all my mothers
I am the lover of all my mothers

Je suis la mère de tous mes amants
Je suis la mer de tous les amants
Je suis la mère de tous les enfants

As I chanted, drifting from English into French and back again, I began to see an image in my mind of a tall woman with long, flowing hair and a wide hat, standing in a garden, wearing a full skirt in a light, fine fabric, and over it a trailing white apron. I looked through her eyes at the sun-flooded rows of plants and bales of straw around her, the daylight on the fields and copses surrounding the little patch, and felt the draw of the dark, cool forest to one side, bordered by a deep green hedge.

Sharing one body, we turned slowly to face the hedge and advanced towards the forest, to a path between two small but ancient trees. As I watched our bare feet cross the boundary from light to darkness and touch down in the damp, shadowed soil, I suddenly noticed the row of tiny children following silently in her wake.  Squinting in the sunshine, they were reaching out and gripping onto the edges of her wind-whipped apron as it billowed behind her, and as I pressed closely forward, she led them steadily and calmly over the threshold into the deep woods.

Tonight she soothes.



Re: the marten

First, I have to give credit to my pops for the amazing photos of the pine marten in the last post.

Also, did you know that you can lure a marten out of its den by making kissy noises on the back of your hand!?

Best. Animal. Ever.


Winter Wonders










From beneath the snowy drifts…


Ice Moon

Last Friday was the night of the Ice Moon.

It seemed like the drive was endless.  The snow was still deep in the city, and past the highway the moon was rising — swollen and glowing orange behind the trees.  It was hard to take my eyes off of it, but I had to watch the road.

Hours passed with quiet music and pleasant conversation.  The roads were clear, even along the icy shores of the great lake, churning under the moonlight.

About four hours after dusk we made our turn into the woods.  The road was suddenly invisible under the packed snow, and traction was more of a hope than a certainty.  We were lucky — the bridge was still in place over the rushing creek even after the heavy melt of the past week.

We crossed the bridge, and as we eased onto the right fork back towards our lot, we discovered that the road, in this neck of the woods, had turned to solid ice.  We made it over one slight hill only to stall on the next and slide back down.  As we contemplated our best plan of action, a visiting neighbor drove past on the left fork, didn’t quite make it, lost control, slid out into a spin and planted firmly in a snow bank.

It was time to seek some help.

Luckily, my partner and his friend had arrived safely at the cabin just ahead of us, since they were driving a four-wheel vehicle that tackled these frozen slopes with ease.  With no reliable cell phone service this far north, we had few options.  The cabin was about a mile deeper into the woods.  I set out on foot.  Alone.

I was grateful for the full Ice Moon — without her I would have been lost in the darkness.  Instead, my path was bright and blue and sparkling with cold.  The ice barely made a sound under my pounding feet.  But in the woods to my right, the pack was howling its welcome.  Their eerie song echoed in the hollow air, widening the empty space around me.  Despite my frozen legs, aching lungs, and the prospect of the labor waiting for my return, I couldn’t help but look toward the wild and mournful sounds, toward the moon, and smile.


How to tell if he likes you, and other sleepover occult games

When I was a little girl, Ouija boards were only rarely hailed as the harbingers of devil worship that they used to be, and mind-bending was so commonplace that one night when we hypnotized a girl into believing she was a toddler on the Titanic and she spent the rest of the night cry-babbling in a corner, we were barely phased.  But these days, when party guests are busy talking politics and kids, I’m just as likely to get shunned as scoffed at if I suggest a friendly game of “light as a feather, stiff as a board.”

Have we grown out of the thrill of the supernatural in our play time?  Are shared experiences of mystery and magic no longer considered relevant after the legal voting age?  This possibility confuses and saddens me, so I suggest we stand up and answer those questions with a resounding “No!”

In the hopes of garnering your support in the “spooky is still fun” cause, and in honor of the love spell extravaganza that has been hitting the pagan podcast airwaves surrounding St. Valentine’s day, I bring to you:

“How to tell if he likes you after one game of cards*”


Now, some will tell you that to discover the initials of your beau-to-be, you need to stick a key in a Bible and recite the words of Ruth, or peel an apple all in one strip and throw it over your shoulder.  My friends and I weren’t allowed to have knives at school, so instead of peeling the apple, we would turn the stem, reciting the alphabet with each turn, and whatever letter you were on when the stem broke off would be the first initial of your lover’s first name.  Effective as this may be, there are only so many apples, and really… how much fun is a name?  We wanted more answers, and we wanted to be able to at least have a say in our pool of potential suitors.

Enter the card game.

The card game (affectionately called “Four Kings”) allowed us to not only name four boys in whom we might have some interest and guarantee a match with at least one of them, it also gave us the opportunity to find answers to our every question about them, and to get a glimpse of our possible futures together.

Besides my very limited social circle, I have yet to meet anyone that played this game as a young’un (or as an adult, for that matter).  If you did, or if you played something similar, please tell me about it!  You can either leave a comment here by clicking up near the top of this entry, or contact me at PaganSpace or email up there on the right.  For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, here are the full rules:

Love Divination with Playing Cards

Begin with one dealer (the card “reader,” if you will), and one player (the “querent”), and one deck of 52 cards.  The dealer removes the four king cards and shuffles the deck.  The kings are arranged facing the querent from left to right as follows:

King of Hearts   –   King of Diamonds   –   King of Clubs   –  King of Spades

The querent then labels each of the kings with the name of a boy she knows, with the most loved on the left (King of Hearts), a boy she likes as the King of Diamonds, a friend that’s a boy as the King of Clubs, and lastly a boy she hates (King of Spades).  [Thank you to commenter Katharine for reminding me of this detail!]  I should say that this game can also be played for ladies, and one can substitute Queens for Kings, if desired.  For simplicity of pronouns only, I am assuming female players and male um… targets.

Before going any further, the querent must choose three cards face down from the remaining deck, and set them aside for later without looking at them.  These cards will answer the three main questions: “Who do I like?” “Who likes me?” and “Who am I going to marry?”  But before we can learn that much, the querent gets to ask 15 other questions of her choice, as long as the answer can be one of the four boys chosen as Kings.

So say for instance you are the querent, and your first question is, “Who [of these four boys] is the teacher’s pet?”  You ask your question, the dealer turns over a card, and the suit of that card matches the suit of the King who is the teacher’s pet.  If the card turned up is a heart, and the King of Hearts was named Johnny, then Johnny is the teacher’s pet.  Make sense?

When we were kids, these questions tended to be completely innocuous and not very interesting things like, “Whose favorite color is blue?” or “Who has the nicest laugh?”  A more adult version might consist of questions more along the lines of, “Who is better at [insert sexual activity]?” or “Who has the hottest [insert body part]?”  The sky’s the limit, but it can be surprisingly hard to come up with evocative questions on the spot, so we recommend brainstorming a list of question ideas to keep handy any time you intend to play.

Once you have determined the answer to a question by turning up one card, you place that card face up under the King with the matching suit, then lay two more cards face down on top of it.  This is key!  Remember not to look at the two additional cards, and keep them with the right King.

Continue to ask questions, laying the answer cards on top of the corresponding King along with two cards face down each time, until you run out of cards.  The number of cards in the deck minus the four Kings is divisible by three, so it should work out evenly, unless you’re doing something crazy or you’re missing cards.

Once all of the cards have been distributed (and all but three of your burning questions answered!) it’s time to discover what your future life with each boy might be like.  Start by turning over all cards that are face down, but keep them with their respective Kings.  In this stage of the game, hearts represent love, clubs represent children, diamonds represent money, and spades represent fights.  By counting the number of cards in each suit under a given King, and weighing the value of the cards, you can sketch out how much love and money, and how many fights and kids, you can expect from your future with that boy.  Higher numbered cards and face cards represent greater passion, high dollar amounts, smarter kids, and bigger fights.  Lower numbered cards represent cooler or gentler feelings, lower funds, dumber kids, and small arguments.  An ace of diamonds indicates that you will be millionaires.  An ace of spades, or seven spades of any value on one King, represent divorce.

The dealer is responsible for interpreting the life represented by each group of cards, and she can embellish as her skill and imagination permit.  :)

Finally, we come to the conclusion.  The querent now takes up the three cards that were set aside face down at the beginning of the game, shuffles them and orders them as desired, then hands them to the dealer.  The dealer explains that the first card determines who the querent really likes, and turns up the first card.  The suit determines which King holds the querent’s heart.  The second card turned up reveals which of the King-boys has feelings for the querent, and at last, the third card determines whom the querent will marry.  In lucky cases, all three cards will fall on the same King.

After exhausting the potential love scenarios of your homeroom class or office, remember the always popular movie star round! This is a particularly good option when the querent is already spoken for, as it eases some of the anxiety brought on by toying with the future of a current relationship.

I very much hope you enjoy playing this little game, and if you have any questions or comments, please do let me know!  Regardless of how many Kings or Queens are in your court, I hope you all had a lovely and happy Valentine’s day, and I wish you all the love in the world.  Aces.


*Rules from the ca. 1989 incarnation, recollected and annotated with much nostalgic giggling by my amazing elementary school friends T and H.  Love you!


A whiskey anecdote

When my father was a boy growing up in rural Blue Grass, Iowa, my grandfather had one rule about curfew:  You can stay out as late as you want, but you have to get up when I say.

All in all, my dad was a pretty good kid.  Did his homework.  Played nice.  Kept clean.  One night, though, he stretched his legs a little, stayed out having some fun, and didn’t come home until nearly morning.

Grandpa woke him up again before dawn.

Well aware of the rules, my dad could only relinquish his warm bed and get dressed and ready to follow orders.  Grandpa made sure he was up, then handed him a shovel.

Now, I want you to go outside, he said, and dig up two earthworms.

Well, my dad was a bit confused, as you can imagine, but he did as he was told, and when he had found two earthworms under the  soil, he came back inside to find my grandfather sitting silently at the kitchen table with two glasses.  One contained water; the other held a tall shot of bourbon whiskey.  He gestured for my dad to have a seat.

I imagine in this moment that my grandfather took his time getting around to explaining, letting my dad squirm a little like those worms he had dragged in, in the early morning light.  Finally, though, he told his son to put one of the worms in the cup of water.  He did, and the worm swam around calmly.

Then he gestured for the second worm to go into the glass of bourbon.  Dad followed his instructions, and the second worm writhed violently in the alcohol.

Now, what does that teach you? he asked.

Dad paused warily.

Grandpa didn’t let him panic too long.  He just looked at him with an honest face and said:

“If you drink whiskey, you’ll never have worms.”

Love you and your traditions, FWS.  You are missed.

Your girl,