Uncoven Issue #6
Episode #14 – Show Notes
This episode includes some statistics and reports on material mortality rate. Get your fact check on with these articles on Texas’ abysmal numbers (USA Today), Texas state bills addressing the issue (Texas Tribune), and California’s mortality rate improvements (Vox).
For more info on J. Marion Sims, the so-called “father of Gynecology,” his controversial statue, and his barbaric experimentation on slave women, read more here (Jezebel). [Warning: accounts of very disturbing torture and abuse.]
Check out our web-o-net pages at Hex Rated Podcast!
Happy almost-Fall, everyone! Blackbird comin’ at ya with something that’s not a recipe this month. I want to talk to you about tattoos.
I think we’ve covered here how important herbs are to me, and to my practice. To be fair, I am not as steeped in herb lore as I want to be, nor am I skilled (yet) at making salves, potions, or magical balms with which to fly, heal, or comfort…but I’m working on it. Add it to the list of awesome shit I want to do in my life on this planet.
To remind me, however, of the importance of herbs in my life and practice, I recently had my husband tattoo my feet (don’t worry y’all, he’s a professional. We didn’t just scratch some shit out in our living room, hells naw.) Not all of the tattoos I have collected over the years are symbolic, but I believe every tattoo can be magical. My new foot tattoos are of sage, oregano, rosemary, and basil, and I chose the feet on purpose. While I was totally second-guessing that decision during the last 20 minutes of the tattoo – it was definitely not the needle-massage I was accustomed to – I really think the subject matter and the placement for me has a deep meaning. My feet are the source of my grounding. I often rub the bottoms of my feet to rid myself of excess or unwanted energy. My feet are what keeps me connected to the earth, and are a portal to all the vibrations that I can feel through this watery globe we call home. I chose the four herbs which to me are essential for protection and cleansing – and my four most-often used in cooking. I love these tattoos, and I love that my husband was the artist for them. I don’t think that every tattoo you get has to have a lot of meaning or symbolism, but when you do have some that of are great import to you, cherish them and reflect on them often. It can only help to strengthen your connection to your inner self and the world of which you are a vital, integral part.
Shed your skin and do not fear – seeking truth is welcome here.
I have memories of my parents driving me and my brother to the lake once a month just to watch the full moon rise. My mother and I have exchanged countless texts over the years reminding each other to run outside and see the beauty of the full moon. My father would ask me when I arrived at work in the mornings if I saw the sunrise. Knowing we had the same early morning commute, he wanted to make sure I caught a moment of beauty in the monotony. My mother would tell me to dance for the moon and sing to the stars when I would call her while out on my adventures.
I am a child of the sun and the moon. I am made of darkness and light. I have always wanted to witness the celestial dance of the Moon passing between the Earth and Sun as they align for totality. The umbral shadow of the Moon blocking out the Sun and revealing the haunting glow of the corona.
When looking at the path of the total eclipse that would be moving coast to coast through our country in August, I knew I had to find a way to journey to see totality. My husband and I travelled 8 hours to St Joseph, a small quaint town along the Missouri river, an hour north of Kansas City. The town hummed with excitement for the solar show.
We kept our eyes peeled to the weather predictions for the days leading up to the eclipse. Rain chances wavered back and forth as time passed. We checked the odds for the path of totality in both directions as far as we could drive with the time we had left. The chances were not much better and we didn’t want the chance of getting stuck in traffic out of the path. We would take our chances with where we originally landed.
We walked to the trail running along the river and found a spot to wait amongst a clearing in the trees. Just sit and wait and hope. The uncertainty was weighing down on us.
A storm developed close by and was big enough to last through totality. Lightning cracked and thick clouds rolled in to drench us in a cool rain.
Rather than let ourselves be disappointed we decided to soak in the view we had of the storm and waning light. We could still watch the clouds turn to darkness, listen to the fading sounds of the birds and feel the air change.
Swiftly the sky plummeted into darkness and we knew totality began. An orange sunset dimly lit the horizons all around at the edges of the twilight painted clouds.
I thought of my mother telling me to dance and look up to the sky. I looked up and there it was in a radiant white halo. The thick clouds opened up a hazy window to reveal the moment of totality in all its glory. The ethereal crown of light dancing behind the shadow of the moon. Unmistakable and breathtaking.
We may not have gotten to see the eclipse for the entire time but to witness totality in the midst of a storm was magical in its own right. It was worth every minute of the drive and wait.
I would like to tell you I had some badass ritual planned, but I didn’t. I didn’t want to miss that brief moment. Looking to the sky with a million other people hoping to witness a natural phenomenon was enough of a ritual for me. So many souls hoping for the same thing and being connected in that moment of awe. It was more than just a solar event, it was also a human experience. The energy of watching the sky and celebrating its wonder with a million others in surrounding cities.
I guess what I took away from this was appreciate the beauty of the situation at hand, even if it doesn’t go to plan. But hope can have its own power too. Just don’t let it stop you from enjoying the moment.
I look forward to hoping again for a glimpse at totality in Argentina in 2019. The small taste of solar magic was addicting.
As the most fiery of fire signs (Aries, red hair, pitta, carny that eats literal fire) I had the dissonant experience of being a mermaid for an evening. And it was THE BEST.
Embracing my least compatible element of water was sublime. I got to be girly, silly, and colorful in a way that felt…. natural? How does that work?
We all have our stories, our image, our brand that we tell ourselves and others about us. Immersing yourself (sometimes literally) in something that is completely unrelated to that can launch you right out of those egoistic fictions into that space where real transformation takes place. At the very least, getting right up close to that which makes you feel uncomfortable, icked out, or afraid can help to get to root about why you feel that way in the first place.
Here are my suggestions for air, earth, and especially fire signs to try out some water vibes. Pisces, Cancers, and Scorpios, treat yourself to what comes naturally.
Make it a sensory experience
-Try your usual meditation, trancework, or just simple grounding and centering in the bath. Pro-tip: get some cheapie earplugs at the drugstore so you can lay your head back. Also blocks out the sound of annoying leaky faucets.
-Before a ritual, go all out with a ritual bath. Treat yourself to whatever is on hand and feel luxurious: scrub yourself with brown sugar or sea salt from the kitchen or toss in a bag of tea and soak. Make it a deliberate and sacred process of preparation for your magical working.
– Think of other ways that water can be a soothing or pleasurable experience.
Use it as a sacred object
-Brew up a batch of blessed water using whatever method or recipe appeals to you.
-Anoint or asperge yourself and others at the beginning of a gathering. My favorite is rosewater flicked with a spring of rosemary.
-Leave offering of fresh water on your altar for your gods, totems, guides, or ancestors.
Get to Reading
Not everyone has to be a mermaid for a day, but reading up on deities or water elementals in myth might uncover a novel personality that helps you relate to water on a personal level that you didn’t expect. Maybe you’re less Ariel and more Melusine. Perhaps riding an alligator like Ganga sounds pretty badass or Senda’s icy tragedy speaks to your own story. Putting a name and face to the abstract helps us relate.
Contemplate the dark side of water. I, for one, am terrified of the ocean. I’m convinced that giant sharks live all bodies of water where I can’t see the bottom. Fix yourself a cup of tea (or a stiff drink) and watch some Shark Week or a documentary about deep sea trenches. Make yourself look at the pictures of the recent Hurricane damage in Texas and Florida or flooding in South Asia. Have a good cry. Donate to disaster relief if you can.
Water is life-giving and all that stuff but it’s also scary as fuck. It’s ok not feel at home in the water or have it be your least favorite element.
I’m taking a break from discussing the individual runes for a moment to talk to y’all about how my cold, dead heart has been broken a little recently. I was devastated to see Othala, a rune that is closest to my heart and one I invoke often in my own practice, painted across Neo-Nazi and white supremacist flags in Charlottesville. Of course the use of Nordic, Germanic, and Viking symbols for racism and bigotry is nothing new, Hitler himself helped spur on this legacy of polluting ancient symbols, corrupting their associations (note the swaztika, WHICH IS FROM THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT, FUCKERS). Nor was this the first time I’ve seen Othala specifically or other Futhark runes and symbols used for hateful purposes, but this was the first time I knew that the world would be seeing them this way. This summer millions of people turned on their TVs and computers and came to associate these venerable symbols with the despicable creatures who wore them.
So let me say to y’all motherfucking vile, bigoted pieces of shit, how dare you. How dare you take these sources of power, these sacred symbols, and desecrate them with your ignorance. Haven’t you read a fucking book? You’re waving these symbols about as if they are some shining example of a perfect Nordic inheritance, a disgusting display at your attempts to appropriate the divine for your own political agenda, your “white pride.” Do you think the runes and the Eddas and the Nordic gods are somehow purely white? As if they were untouched by the rest of the world? Sit down and shut the fuck up and let me educate your ass.
The Elder Futhark is a 2,000 year old alphabet that is thought to have been derived from old Italicscripts such as in Latin or Etruscan. Do you know what that means? That means the Futhark comes from Mediterranean alphabets that were derived from the Phoenician alphabet which was derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs AND I DON’T KNOW IF Y’ALL ASSHOLES KNOW THIS, BUT EGYPT IS IN MOTHERFUCKING AFRICA. HOW’S THAT FOR YOUR GODDAMN RACIAL SUPERIORITY?
Did you think this was all about you? Did you think this was all for you? You pathetic, tiny louts.
I wear my Othala necklace, my Algiz ring, my Sowulo bracelet with pride because I know who I am and what these symbols mean. I know where I come from and I know where the runes come from. I have read the poems, I have meditated on their meanings, I have invoked them to heal and to hex. I’m telling all of you now, if you feel called to the runes, the Aesir or Vanir, to the Norns, or Disir, or wights then they are yours. The call is all you need. You don’t need blood or skin or familial ties, you just need the call.
Walk with darkness, walk with shadows, live your motherfucking truth.
An on-going list of political and social action items to keep you aware in these rage inducing times.
-The Women’s March will be hosting The Women’s Convention to “bring thousands of women, femmes and our allies of all backgrounds to Detroit from October 27 – 29, 2017, for a weekend of workshops, strategy sessions, inspiring forums and intersectional movement building to continue the preparation going into the 2018 midterm elections.”
– Join the Handmaid’s Resistance! Get updates about events, resources, organizing your own event and more.
-Read Deborah M. Castellano’s guide to Hexing as Social Change including some specifically Italian magic.
– fire up that cellular device and oppose the rollback of birth control coverage, defend childhood immigrants and DREAMers, denounce Trump’s ban on transgender troops, tell DeVos to maintain title IX protections for campus assault victims. Or pick any other five issues from 5 Calls, there are 31 active issues! Bonus points: follow up with emails and faxes through an app (see below) or good ole snail mail.
– Start buying that Halloween candy! Mars has committed $1 billion to fight climate change!
Below you will find items from previous newsletters that are still relevant:
– Try the Stance app. Record a voice message and will send it directly to your representative’s phone.
– Head to the House of Representatives website to find your rep in congress and contact them! Emails are great, phone calls are better, but do something. Contact them until the poor, unpaid interns who have to answer the phones all day know you by name. Contact them until everyone cries because you will not stop until your rep knows exactly where you stand on all the issues.
– Follow your congress(wo)man on Twitter or periodically check-in (if clouding your social media feed with their trash is too repulsive), representatives will often tweet about upcoming town halls. Attend town halls.
– If you are in a time crunch and want to contact your senators or representatives but can’t get to a town hall, check out this genius texting bot called Resistbot. You will have to come up with a short message, but the bot will fax your legislators DAILY if you so desire.
– The Women’s March is a goldmine of resources and suggested actions to combat the growing voice of racism, bigotry, and sexism. Follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram as well!
– Check out The American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) handy-dandy doc Know Your Rights for when you’re out there on the street peacefully protesting and expressing your motherfuckin’ right to civil disobedience. In fact, while you’re at it, donate some cash monies if you can. Here in ‘Merica we vote with our dollars.
– One of the handiest resistance guides out right now is the Indivisible Guide. A wealth of information and actions.
-If you are a Texas resident, you can go to the Texas Legislature Online and sign-up for an account, allowing you to view legislative content and add bills to an alert list. Whenever a bill you’ve put on your list is updated, you’ll receive an alert. Also, feel free to check out our list of Texas legislative bills that we are monitoring and updating. Stay woke, witches.
– Don’t over extend yourself! Yes, we’d all like to fix all the problems right the fuck now, but that’s not practical. You will burn yourself out if you try to keep up with everything in this country (and world for that matter) that needs fixing, so we recommend you come up with a short list of the most important social issues to you. This does not mean you don’t care about everything! We know you do! But we can’t all be doing everything all the time.
Our rituals are Frankensteined and Mad-Libbed together and they are free for you to share! Keep what you like, ditch what you don’t. Cut, paste, curse, and cure. Tell us what happens.
Google Doc- click for full text
This ritual riffed on some old invocation for the directions. This ritual also centered around 4 of our traditional offerings: honey, salt, vinegar, and oil. We decided to play around with the fact that these four substances are used in preserving food for long term storage, a seasonally timely process for the harvest month. Also includes text from the Orphic hymns.