Deborah J. "DJ" Martin

A Witch and a Bitch with an Herbal Itch - and an overactive imagination

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Month: September 2011

A Call to Action: What Makes Your State Great?

I rarely discuss religion and/or politics. Conversations on those subjects are pointless … no one is going to change anyone else’s mind, they usually end up in arguments and everyone goes away mad. No fun.

This time, however, I’m truly disgusted and will open my mouth. If you’ve been following pagan news, you have heard about the DC40 and their “51 Days of of Reformation Intercession”. If not, Jason Pitzl-Waters over at the Wild Hunt has a good blog post about it here. Effectively, these folks want to turn the United States into a strictly-Christian nation. They’re not talking about rewriting the Constitution … yet. (3rd Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …)  For now, they want to ensure all elected officials fear their god, effectively turning us into a Christian version of Iran and a few other countries in the Middle East.

Acquaintances of mine have started a rebuttal to those 51 Days entitled, “What Makes Your State Great?”. The day before DC40’s point day for a given state, people across the nation will be posting what’s great about their secular state. There’s a Facebook group about it here but even if you don’t do Facebook (I know there are about 100 people in the world not on Facebook), blog about it, put something in your Twitter feed or make a post on a forum. Although this effort was started by pagans, anyone can participate: Christians; Atheists; Muslims; Jewish; Reconstructionists; anyone who doesn’t want to see their country turned into a single-faith state.

The non-DC40 schedule is as follows:

Hawaii (50) The Aloha State10-02-11
Alaska (49)The Last Frontier 10-03-11
Arizona (48) The Grand Canyon State 10-04-11
New Mexico (47)The Land of Enchantment 10-05-11
Oklahoma (46) The Sooner State 10-06-11
Utah (45)The Beehive State 10-07-11
Wyoming (44)The Equality State 10-08-11
Idaho (43)The Gem State 10-09-11
Washington (42)The Evergreen State 10-10-11
Montana (41)The Treasure State 10-11-11
South Dakota (40)The Mount Rushmore State 10-12-11
North Dakota (39)The Peace Garden State 10-13-11
Colorado (38)The Centennial State 10-14-11
Nebraska (37)The Corn Husker State 10-15-11
Nevada (36)The Silver State 10-16-11
West Virginia (35)The Mountain State 10-17-11
Kansas (34)The Sunflower State 10-18-11
Oregon (33)The Beaver State 10-19-11
Minnesota (32)The North Star State 10-20-11
California (31)The Golden State 10-21-11
Wisconsin (30)The Badger State 10-22-11
Iowa (29)The Hawkeye State 10-23-11
Texas (28)The Lone Star State 10-24-11
Florida (27) The Sunshine State 10-25-11
Michigan (26) The Great Lakes State 10-26-11
Arkansas (25) The Natural State 10-27-11
Missouri (24)The Show Me  State 10-28-11
 Maine (23)The Pine Tree State 10-29-11
Alabama (22)The Yellowhammer State 10-30-11
Illinois (21)The Prairie State 10-31-11
Mississippi (20)The Magnolia State 11-01-11
Indiana (19)The Hoosier State 11-02-11
Louisiana (18)The Pelican State 11-03-11
Ohio (17)The Buckeye State 11-04-11
Tennessee (16) The Volunteer State 11-05-11
Kentucky (15)The Bluegrass State  11-06-11
Vermont (14)The Green Mountain State 11-07-11
Rhode Island (13)The Ocean State 11-08-11
North Carolina (12)The Tarheel State 11-09-11
District of COLUMBIA (DC) 11-10-11
New York (11) The Empire State 11-11-11
Virginia (10)The Old Dominion State 11-12-11
New Hampshire (9)The Granite State 11-13-11
South Carolina (8)The Palmetto State 11-14-11
Maryland (7) The Old Line State 11-15-11
Massachusetts (6)The Bay State 11-16-11
Connecticut (5)The Constitution State 11-17-11
Georgia (4) The Peach State 11-18-11
New Jersey (3)The Garden  State 11-19-11
Pennsylvania (2)The Keystone State 11-20-11
Delaware (1) The First State 11-21-11
11-22-11: Posting of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Secular Writings of our Founding Fathers

 

I’ll be joining in on October 20th, talking about Minnesota (where I was raised) and on November 18th about Georgia (where I live now).

Join me and others in our efforts to keep our country the melting pot it truly is and always was meant to be!

Public Kudos …

A lot of folks are aware of my recent frustrations with getting copies of my new book, A Green Witch’s Formulary into my hot little hands. Let me take you through them once again so you’ll know just how wonderful some people were last week:

I placed my order on August 26th. On August 29th, hurricane Irene hit my publisher’s preferred printer. Unfortunately, said printer didn’t tell anyone their presses were under water for almost 2 weeks. The publisher, Balboa Press, shunted my order to a second printer on September 19th. Although I had a book signing scheduled for the 24th, I wasn’t worried was only a little concerned. Today’s technology allows printers to get orders out the door in 48 hours or less and even if it took a day longer, there’s always overnight shipping.

When Thursday, September 22nd came to a close, I hadn’t received a shipment notification. Now I was nervous. What’s the use of doing a book signing if there are no books to sign? I called Balboa Friday morning and heard that afternoon that my order had just hit the production floor. There was no way to get them to me before I left home in the wee hours of Saturday morning. I’d already committed to the event so made up a sign explaining Irene and hoped for pre-orders.

I had just returned home from a late-afternoon appointment when I received a call from the Director of Fulfillment at Balboa. Bear in mind this was after 5pm on a Friday. He and his staff spent over an hour on the phone with me and other people, trying to get me a supply.

Long story short, another printer in Canada quickly made up ten copies (that wonderful technology again) and drove them to UPS, who overnighted them to a convenience store a block from where the event was being held. I had books by 11am Saturday morning, just an hour after the event started.

Therefore, I want to publicly thank the people who busted their rear ends for me: my Balboa book order consultant, Kim Stegemoller; Joe Scaggs, the fulfillment guy, and his staff; the plant manager in Canada who oversaw the printing & personally drove the box to UPS; and the guys at the Garden Spot Food Mart who took what must have been the strangest phone call they’d ever received and accepted delivery of a box for a stranger.

I expect my full order sometime this week and can’t wait to get it out to everyone who’s been patient with me.

The Universe does indeed smile on all of us once in awhile!

Pet Peeves

I need to vent. There’s nothing in the way of serious content here today. Read on … or not.

I have a lot of pet peeves. I think it comes with getting older. Most of the time I’m able to shrug them off but here in the last week or so, they’ve been cropping up in droves:

Customer service seems to be nearly nonexistent. With my husband’s blessing, I decided to buy a ring I’d had my eye on for awhile. The company’s most recent snail-mail catalog still displayed the ring so I went on their website to order it. I couldn’t find it by item number, description or scrolling through their entire jewelry section so I emailed them. Naturally, I received one of their impersonal automated “thank you for your inquiry” emails that said I’d have an answer in 24 hours. It’s been more like 192 hours and I still haven’t received a response. Not even what I assume would be a “sorry, no longer available”.

Along the same lines, I still don’t have my stock of my most recent book. Apparently, hurricane Irene hit the printer and they didn’t bother notifying any of their customers for 2+ weeks. I really do understand natural disaster and dealing with the aftermath but to not find a way to notify anyone your production is down? And, why did Amazon and Barnes & Noble have copies before I approved the printer’s proof?

Secondly, do they not teach spelling in school anymore? I admit there are occasional typos in my writing but they are rare and usually occur when I’m in a hurry. I try to take time to proofread my work – even if it’s just a comment on a Facebook post. In today’s world of spellcheck and online dictionaries, you’d think it would be better but it seems to be getting worse. (Spellcheck won’t catch everything, either.) I see it in books I pay good money for that, in theory, have had a professional editor and proofreader go over the manuscript before production. It’s all over the Internet, too. I visited an acquaintance’s online shop this morning and counted four typos on just one page.

Perhaps it’s just that media is more pervasive than when I was younger, but tolerance seems to be at an all-time low. Religion, class, skin color, sexual orientation, you name it. It’s all being attacked. I was raised by a woman with prejudices whose chose not to pass her bias(es) on to me. I was taught to accept everyone. If I didn’t agree with someone about something, I didn’t have to be friends with them. But they were entitled to live their lives however they chose, just as I was free to live mine. Whatever happened to live and let live? Personally, I don’t want to live in a homogeneous society. It would be boring.

Lastly, why can’t my husband scoop the litter boxes more often? It’s supposed to be his chore, he’s in the basement every night and yet when I go downstairs (only once or twice a week), the first thing I have to do is clean. Otherwise my eyes water from the aroma.

End rant. I feel better.

As The Wheel Turns

Fall is definitely in the air. I have no personal insulation so the house is closed up about 80% of the time. If the outside temp hits 70F, I’ll open the door to the deck for the four-legged kids but otherwise, I have started my winter-time cocooning.

I know a lot of people like the dark time of the year and rejoice at the Autumnal Equinox. Not me. I get very sleepy at this time of the year. The medical community tells me I have Seasonal Affective Disorder. I think that’s just their scientific explanation for the fact that I am very Earth-bound. When the plants start their wind-down to sleep after a very energetic Spring and Summer, I follow suit. Were it not for human conventions and an alarm clock, I’d probably join our local black bear in his cave for several months.

Mundane preparations around here include putting the “winter” cat door into the window so the “kids” can get out to the deck when they wish without freezing my butt off. This year has been a little more amusing. We put the window door in yesterday. The kittens have figured out how to go out that door but they’re still trying to come in the screen door. I’ve been hearing all sorts of ‘bumps’ as they try to go through the screen cat door and hit the glass door. They’ll figure it out eventually – probably about the first snowfall!

I also do mundane cleaning to ready the house for being closed up for several months. Then I get to work magically.

I make six large candles with Ylang Ylang and Peppermint essential oils. While I find Ylang Ylang very calming and you’d think it would make me even sleepier, it helps ease my anxiety about not having a lot of energy and being inside a lot more than I’d like. The Peppermint is energizing and keeps me from going to sleep. Naturally, they are appropriately charged to give me energy and clarity during the dark months. Six is my winter stock and I burn one in the living room at night; the other in my office during the day. (The imprint of a keyboard on my forehead wouldn’t be very attractive.)

While I struggle with the dark time, I like it, too. As with farmers, I use the dark time of the year for review of the prior Spring & Summer, and planning for the next. Spirits seem to be more active around here in late Fall and Winter, too, so I do more spirit work than I do in the light half of the year.

What do you do to prepare for the dark time of the year? If I stifle a yawn, it’s not your answer. I haven’t made my candles, yet.

 

Creating a Magical Oil

Witches use oils for a variety of things: anointing ourselves, candles or tools; or in an oil warmer for aroma and vibrations during a spell or meditation are just some of the applications. How does one decide which essential and base oils to use? I created one for the 2011 New Orleans Witches Ball and I’ll take you through my thought process to give you an idea of how to come up with your own mixtures.

Scientifically, we know that scent can easily trigger memories or emotions. If I smell Pine essential oil, I immediately remember a trip my family took to Itasca State Park when I was about ten. (This park is home to the headwaters of the Mississippi and the entire area is chock-full of huge pine trees. We’d driven north with the windows up & air conditioning on. When we arrived and rolled down the windows, the scent of Pine was almost overwhelming.) When I open a bottle of Ylang Ylang, my feelings could easily be written into an erotic novel. (‘Nuff said, there.) When creating an oil, you want the scent to trigger something.

The process: first, my husband and I did a word association. (He loves getting dragged into my magical life. Not.) What immediately came to mind when we thought of the city of New Orleans? Bear in mind neither of us have visited that lovely city so we relied on what we knew via books, the news and friends that live there. The words/other associations that came to mind were Mardi Gras, Mississippi river, levees, Bourbon Street, tropical, hot, sultry, sensuous, Voudou/Hoodoo, Swamp, Spanish Moss.

Then I did a little research. New Orleans was “born” (founded) on 7 May 1718. That makes her a Taurus.

So, I needed an oil that was amenable to a Taurus; brought to mind hot, sultry, sensuous nights; and since I equate Hoodoo with “rootworkers”, one of the oils needed to be of the root of a plant, rather than the aerial.

Once I decided on the image/emotion I wanted to invoke, I did a little more research – this time on oils. I ended up with a list of 22 essential oils and 4 base oils. (In magical applications, base oils also have their own essences.)

After an hour or two of experimentation, I ended up with two combinations. (Actually, six but only two that I really liked.) Normally I’d use one and keep the other for another time but since this was meant for a wider audience, I sent them on down to Cairelle at Witchy Living in New Orleans for her opinion. (She had a lot of customers do a sniff test, too.) I’m not going to tell you which one we decided on but that’s not the point of this post.

The point is, when you’re creating an oil for a specific purpose, don’t limit yourself to others’ recipes. Do some word association, then some research, then some experimentation. Come up with a combination that evokes the image or emotion in you that you need for your purpose.

What will you create today?