Monthly Archives: July 2014

Once More Into the Breach


(Warning: I’ve spent an entire weekend trying to put something behind me. Didn’t work. I’m still pissed. Strong language follows.) /begin rant/

In a medicinal/health context, I’ve harped on personal responsibility & doing research in the past (here and here as examples).

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been posting – cough – interesting things I’ve found while reading The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation Including the Demotic Spells. They are spells & recipes from about 200 BCE to about 400 CE. Bear in mind that I have my Facebook page linked to my Twitter account so I try to keep posts within 140 characters where possible. Friday afternoon, I posted the following:

Try this? “To keep fleas out of the house: Wet rosebay with salt water, grind it and spread it”. Rosebay is Oleander or Rhododendron.

Please note the quotation marks. Not my recipe. I will admit I could’ve worded my comment a little differently or maybe put a smiley face in there but nonetheless…

Within a few minutes a woman I’d never had any interaction with carved me a new one on Facebook. Those plants are poisonous. [No shit. Even the ancient Greeks knew that.] I should have put a warning in my post. I should have put a disclaimer in my post. How would I feel if someone used that recipe & one of their pets or kids died?

How would I feel? The same as I would if anyone got hurt or died. Terrible – that a person used an herb for anything without doing further research. Guilty? Not on your life.

I tried to be polite. I thanked her and explained that it’s not my fault Facebook doesn’t show all posts from all pages, much less in chronological order but if someone cared to just click over to my page proper rather than their news/pages feed, they’d see what I’d been posting over the last week. That wasn’t good enough for her because she only saw the one post and didn’t bother looking further. According to her, it’s my responsibility to put complete information in all my posts so some fucking idiot doesn’t hurt themselves or others by taking a short post at face value. She was so vehement and I could tell no matter what I or anyone else said (thanks, guys, for backing me up) that it was just going to escalate. I decided I’d had enough drama for one day & took the whole damned post down. Others said I shouldn’t have done so but I have enough shit going on in my life without getting into a squabble online.

When he got home from work, I told my husband what had happened. His comment? “It’s the same spoon-fed mentality I see every day. No one wants to take responsibility for themselves or their decisions. Instead, if something bad goes down, it’s someone else’s fault.”

I chewed on it while working in the garden this weekend, lovingly tending my poisonous & not-so-poisonous plants (depends on the person & dose whether they’re poisonous or not). I generally try to be nice but in this case, snark is coming to the forefront. To the lady in question: just because they saw it on Facebook or Twitter, any man (or his partner) who did the following without researching further gets no sympathy from me: “To get an erection when you want. Grind up a pepper with some honey & coat your “thing“. That was another of my posts quoting from the same book.

So, in black and white for all the world to see:

I don’t give a damn where you read it or who said it – even if it’s me – do your own fucking research before using anything herbal for any purpose. I only babysit children, not adults. Don’t like my attitude? Unlike me, unfollow me, or better yet, kiss my ass.

//end rant//

I feel better.



A Familiar’s Tale, Part I

Fudge begins telling Amy his story. (Don’t know Fudge? The prologue is here.)

Image by Dave Scelfo. Used under Creative Commons license 2.0

I came into being in the year you currently number 252 BCE. This is the year I was born as a cat in what you call the country of Egypt. When I opened my eyes, my mother knew there was something different between me and my other siblings and pushed me out of her nest, as one would do the runt of the litter who was not expected to survive.

As the Universe had planned, a young man was nearby and took pity on my mewling. He took me home and hand-fed me until I was old enough to catch food on my own. Abou was a slave-assistant to a mage priest overseeing part of the Library of Alexandria.

Abou had been purchased a few years earlier. He did not know his exact age and his memories of his family are faint…they are overshadowed by a strong memory of hunger. About the only thing he remembered well is scrounging for food in the discards outside a tavern and being caught by a large man who turned him over to a slaver. It was a common enough occurrence in his town that no one came to look for him.

Familiars are born with the knowledge of our kind and the natural instincts of the species we occupy. Even as a newborn kitten, I knew what I was and what I was supposed to do. I must say, waiting for a corporeal body to grow to adulthood can be a frustrating experience.

Also frustrating, we cannot make ourselves known to our human until that person’s magic manifests – usually around puberty but, as you well know, may be much later. It is not until then that their conscious mind will accept our presence. Abou’s magic did not come in until two years after he found me. I spent those first two years being a simple cat. Once I had been weaned off the goat’s milk Abou fed me, I killed rats alongside the other library cats. They were my food but more importantly, by keeping my part of the Library rat-free, I helped preserve the papyri, scrolls and codices of knowledge.

When Abou reached puberty, his magic manifested and I was finally able to fulfill my destiny as his familiar. My first few efforts had him running to his master for a headache remedy until I learned gentleness. After a lot of odd behavior on my part (like nuzzling his face while he was practicing), Abou finally realized the pressure was me and that his magical efforts seemed stronger and more precise. My presence was accepted and we began our partnership. Telling him I wished for water in my dish was as easy as projecting a sense of thirst. Although I still killed rats when I found them in the library, I mostly left that chore to the mundane cats. Abou quickly learned I preferred to share his meal of fish and was not averse to the occasional treat of goat’s milk.

For some reason, he decided not to tell his master about me. Instead, I was perceived as a favored pet and something of a security blanket: Abou took me with him nearly everywhere he went. He even made a comfortable carrier for me when I let him know that the sandy streets were too hot for my delicate paws in the summer and I disliked the mud in the rainy winter months.

I presume you studied something of that time in your history? No? Your educational system is sorely lacking. Then I must give you a brief history lesson before continuing.

Egypt was already an old country when I was born. They worshipped many gods and magic was thought to be a gift of these gods. They did not know about the gene that transmits magical ability. It was a time when magic was a normal part of life, although the practice of it was limited to the priesthood. If a common person manifested magic, it was considered a sign that a male was destined for priesthood to a male god, a female as a priestess to a goddess and those children were brought to a temple of the parents’ choosing as an offering.

While Egypt was a country with many gods, there were some that were only worshipped locally and others who were considered state gods – or those whose worship was dictated by their ruler, or pharaoh. As with most civilizations, they tried to live peaceably with their neighbors but if that could not be achieved, they made war. Egypt was at war quite a bit in my time there.

When Abou’s magic manifested, his master took that as a sign from his god that Abou should follow in his footsteps as a mage-priest and began teaching Abou, rather than simply using him as an errand boy. When not helping visiting mages consult the ancient scrolls for a particular piece of knowledge, fulfilling his function as a priest to his god through ritual and creating spells for petitioners, he taught Abou the Craft. I may have been there only to boost his power but along with Abou, I learned the methods of human magic: how to manipulate energy, the herbcraft of the time and place, and their rituals to their gods. As an aside, camel grass, an ingredient in kyphi, one of their favorite incenses, makes me sneeze violently. Please do not ever use it.


To be continued…

The 7 Stages of Witchcraft

Having been on a few fora dealing with witchcraft the last few years, I’ve noticed something of a trend. It has to do with your age (mostly but not always chronological) and how you view the idea of tools and other magical trappings.  Have you noticed the same? I mean, think about it:

Child: if I blow on this dandelion I found in the yard and wish real hard, my wish will come true.

Teen: I want stuff but can’t have a lot because money/parents/room/other

Young Adult: I have my own place, can do my own thing and, oooh! Shiny! Oh, shit. I have to pay the rent/buy groceries/put gas in the car. Sigh.

Thirty-something: I have some disposable income and I’m going to get everything that “calls” to me.

Forty-something: What the hell was I thinking? My house is overrun with stuff I don’t use. But I might need it some day so…

Fifty-something (usually an empty-nester): I don’t use and hate cleaning all this stuff. Garage/eBay sale time.

Post-garage-sale-fifty-something: If I blow on this dandelion I found in the yard and put my energy & intent out into the world, my spell will come to fruition.

I have very little in the way of magical stuff. One of my favorite quotes sums up why quite well. It comes from Henri Frederic Amiel: For purposes of action,  nothing is more useful than narrowness of thought combined with energy of will.F