10 Reasons Why Being a Pirate is Badass!

Steampunk-SharonHey there folks! Winter and I are gearing up to play “Toast of Tortuga” up in Oregon, so I thought it would be fun to celebrate our inner pirates! After all, being a pirate is fun! Rife with lust-filled adventure, larger than life swagger, and the quest for all life can give us!

Are you a pirate? I bet you are! Or easily can be, with just a wee sleight of perception.

A note: I like to think it goes without saying that we are speaking of the pirate archetype, here, not actual pirates, with more blood on their hands than showers on their skin, and a desperate hunger that drives them to desperate deeds. Au contraire, we invoke the pirate archetype to fight back against the forces of desperation, among other things. This is just a bit of tongue-in-cheek fun, which may also, for the discerning reader, reveal a pearl or two of genuine wisdom along the way.

Without further ado, 10 reasons why being a pirate is badass!

1) Pirates are always up for an adventure.
When have you ever heard about a pirate who just sits around in his shorts? Never, that’s when! Pirates are always ready for a swashbuckling good time. With few possessions, and a hearty thirst for adventure, a pirate is ready at a moment’s notice for the most outlandish of shenannegins. As a pirate, you will have no shortage of epic voyages to undertake, and tall tales to tell, which virtually ensures you get invited to all the best parties. If you are going to live at all, live to the utmost, we pirates say!

2)Pirates take risks to live their dreams.
Never ones to fear the unknown, pirates will leave no stone unturned in their quest for a well-lived life. So far as we know, we get one crack at this thing called life. This insight is never far from a pirate’s mind, and she means to drink up every drop while she can! A pirate knows he is only as good as the legends he lives, and so live them he does!

3)Pirates push back against “The Man.
A pirate lives by a code, and that code does not include exploiting one’s fellow man, destroying the very earth (or ocean) that gives us sustenance, or stealing from one’s own. At the core of my enduring admiration for pirate lore is the struggle against encroaching empire. Work that is still very relevant today!

Really, I think this one speaks for itself.

5)Pirates always know where the treasure is buried.
Masters of finding hidden jewels, a pirate can delve deep into the blackest heart of the matter and find the pearls. Be that in the scary basement at Aunt Millie’s, or within the inner sanctum of her own psyche, this willingness to explore the hidden places at the edges of reason gives the pirate an unearthly charisma, which she can then wield to her advantage in all sorts of precarious situations.

6)Pirates know how to tie – and untie – a corset.
This is damn useful for all sorts of activities, folks.

7)Pirates always have an abundance of seafood
I don’t know about you, but this one here is a high priority for me. Fresh oysters, lobster, Dungeness crab, prawns! I could go on and on. Any life worth living has an ongoing stream of Fruitti di Mare, as far as I’m concerned. Although I am part mermaid, so I may be biased.

See #4.

9)The Pirate’s code is a pirate’s bond.
We all know that the code is really more “guidelines” than rules, but therein lies its power. A pirate develops his own moral compass, and while this can be, shall we say, relative, it can also be flexible. And flexible means the ability to make decisions on one’s feet! Decisions that can save lives in the heat of battle. A pirate will risk her own life to save the lives of her fellows more times than not. There is a certain “Robin Hood”  quality about the pirate’s code, a willingness to take from those who have grown fat on the backs of others (The East India Trading Company comes to mind), and to organize democratic societies with the spoils. Each member of a pirate crew is paid in equal shares. Sure, those who take more responsibility or risk may get more shares, but it is more like 7 or 8 more shares, rather than 5,000 more shares. (I’m looking at you, CEOs). Do pirates ever have disagreements about how many shares they ought to get, and disembowel each other? Why, yes. Yes they do. But let us remember! We are not talking about “Pirates That Were”, we are talking about “Pirates That Could Be!” For indeed, we are modern pirates, writing our own adventure! So let’s make it a good one, shall we? We are stronger together!

10)Pirates have an intimate knowledge of the mysteries of the Sea!
Pirates know the sea like a lover. The salt spray in the air, the caress of her winds, when she shall turn tempestuous and when she shall rock you gently to sleep. A pirate is inextricably bound with the soul of the sea, and as such can carry you through her most guarded mysteries and into the great voyage beyond the horizon. The sea is rife with magic, and a pirate knows where to find her secret portals into the realms of the fantastical! So hoist yer sails, and find you a pirate crew forthwith! For the adventure shall sail with or without yeh!

Will we see you in Tortuga? Because there won’t be a better gathering for finding yer pirate crew any time soon!

Check out our full list of upcoming shows on our tour page!

Portals Featured Sponsor: Coventry Creations


Jacki Smith (left) and her sister Patti.

These shining beacons of good vibery are the owners of Coventry Creations in Ferndale, Michigan.

I met Jacki last year at the Earth Warriors Festival in Ohio, and took to her right away. She is just the kind of woman I admire; a feisty redhead with an inspired business savvy, she has carved out a life on her own terms, through creativity, passion, and ingenuity. Back in 1991, Jacki was studying herbalism and aromatherapy, and decided to make candles infused with herbs and oils to give as gifts. The quality of these candles was so high that several folks encouraged her to offer them for sale. Reluctant at first, she decided to give it a try. Patti came on board a few years later, and Coventry Creations has now sold nearly 2 million candles worldwide.

Coventry Creations is committed to handcrafting their candles locally, and has continued this tradition for over 20 years. The quality, scent, and beautifully designed graphics of their candles surely have helped them become so successful, but it seems to me that the core of their success is really the enthusiasm and genuine passion they bring to their creations. Says Jacki, “At Coventry we see magic as the moment when you move past your limiting challenge into the healing that manifests the life you desire. Magic is our passion, and we live that passion in every candle, message and fragrance we create”.

Both sisters believe in the power of creating a vibration in harmony with your intention as the way to facilitate changes that bring you closer to the life you desire. The scents, colors, herbs, and words used when crafting each batch are  carefully chosen and focused on as each candle is created. Jacki and Patti bring their own sense of magic to every candle they create.

The way they describe it is downright musical!

Jacki has always been drawn to candles as a tool for intentional magic, for the moods they create are conducive to a meditative state where we can more easily slip beyond the grasp of our self imposed limitations and into a place of true healing.

You can read more about her candle magic philosophy right here.


Look at these beauties! They smell as good as they look too.

In short, Jacki is a rockabilly badass who lives her life in screaming color. She brightens up the day of anyone who comes near her, as I have witnessed personally on numerous occasions. If I were looking for help getting out of a funk and back into a sense of personal power, I would trust Jacki as a guide wholeheartedly.

BONUS: Jacki has lent her mojo to Portals on several fronts, having supported our campaign both as Coventry Candles and as The Candle Wick Shoppe. She pledged at the Custom Song level, so I will be writing her her very own song of celebration, magic, and love of the earth, which you will surely hear by year’s end.

I hope you will give her the warm hospitality our music and arts tribe does so well, and give both her sites a visit.

Here are her details:

Coventry-Portals-AdsJacki Smith;
Enchantress, President and Trouble Maker
Coventry Creations, Candle Wick Shoppe and Type 40 Sales
www.coventrycreations.com   Products for your soul!
The Seeds of Magic are found in your imagination and planted in your deeds.

Candle-WickCandle Wick Shoppe
175 W 9 Mile Rd
Ferndale, MI 48220

From Candle to Reiki; from Mojo to incense we are your feel good store. Visit our new “spiritual apothecary”  filled with  unique gifts, candles, oil and incense and experience our Reiki Healing Center and our new Mojo Bar. We have the remedy for what ails your soul!


Each of these Portals sponsors has been hand selected by me as someone I would feel proud to showcase. They will each be getting a feature here over the next few months. Click the banners to visit their pages.

Portals Featured Sponsor: Serpent’s Kiss Magick Shop

Serpent's Kiss - what a beautiful store!

Serpent’s Kiss – what a beautiful store!

It’s time for our next Portals featured sponsor! This one is going to write itself because I have loved these folks for many years now: Susan Diamond and Shimmering Wolf of Serpent’s Kiss in Santa Cruz.

These folks are awesome. Genuine. Full of magic. Drenched with life and spirit and adventure. And successful owners of one of my favorite magic shops!

Susan and Wolf are seemingly tireless, and like all the other Portals sponsors, very committed to building community. They host numerous classes and events, including concerts. Winter and I have played Serpent’s Kiss many times, as has Wendy Rule and SJ Tucker.

They are the creators of the New Orleans Folk Magic Festival, Conjure Con, Conjure Craft, and Witches in the Woods. They have a multi-room store that offers magical supplies from a wide range of traditions, with an emphasis on Hoodoo and root work. They offer candles, oils, incense, stones, books, statuary, and clothes, among many other things.


People I love: That’s Susan and Wolf on the right. Along with Didi, Orion Foxwood, and Star Casas.

They also host the popular Redwood Nights drum circle, on a gorgeous, secluded slice of the Santa Cruz mountains. Creating events that give their community unforgettable experiences is a strong suit for Susan and Wolf. They instigated an excursion just recently that ended up being one of the highlights of my life so far; a whale watch that closed out the Conjure Craft weekend, wherein we spent about 20 minutes amidst a giant pod of dolphins. It was so beautiful, I wept. Susan, being my mermaid sister, wept too. (I almost begged off this trip, and Susan would not let me wiggle out of it. A fact for which I am profoundly grateful!)

Susan really does feel like a sister and kindred spirit to me. She is very much a mermaid girl. She looks like Stevie Nicks and dresses like a beach combing bohemian. I love her style. Her magical philosophy is akin to my own as well; that to work magic is to delve into the deep sea of Dream, and thus, sea magic is very relevant to the practice of magic as a whole. As you know, sea magic is very close to my heart. There is talk of Susan and I teaming up to offer a week of sea magic and song in Hawai’i! Both of us are the type who love to plot and scheme endlessly about amazing experiences we can create and share with our clan. Mwahaha!

If you love witchy sea priestesses and the magic they make, get yourself to Santa Cruz and check out Serpent’s Kiss. Hook up with their community and stay in the loop about when we are all going to Hawai’i!

Serpent’s Kiss
2015 N Pacific Ave
Santa Cruz, CA 95060


Each of these Portals sponsors has been hand selected by me as someone I would feel proud to showcase. They will each be getting a feature here over the next few months. Click the banners to visit their pages.

Let’s Get Betsy Tinney in the Porcelain Princess Music Video!

Ms. Tinney dresses up any film set!

Ms. Tinney dresses up any film set!

In one week Winter and I are going to make a music video. This will be only the second professionally produced video we have had occasion to make, and it is thanks to all of you who participated in the Portals vision!

We are frantically running around, pulling together the remaining details, and I hold no illusions that I will have anything resembling a non-video life for the next week. Being on set is great fun; the camaraderie and the glamour of everyone all dressed up and in their best light – literally – is quite a thrill. It is not easy to pull together the resources for such an epic undertaking, and it could be some time before we are able to do another one. So naturally we want to make the most of this opportunity!

Since the entire crew of Tricky Pixie are the featured artists on our music video song, Porcelain Princess, we have had the fantasy since day one of flying Tricky Pixie in to be our “house band” for the video. Alas, that just was not in the budget.

But, what if we could have one Tricky Pixie in the video? The one who lives closest to us?

Maybe, just maybe, this would be doable.

We want to fly Betsy Tinney down from Seattle to be the Porcelain Princess cellist!

To that end, we have created another Flash Specialty Perk specifically for this purpose! As a successfully funded campaign, Indiegogo invited Portals to participate in their “In Demand” program, which means we can continue to offer perks through the Portals campaign until the project is complete. So, we have added a GET BETSY perk. For $25 you get a download of Betsy’s album, “Release The Cello” plus an additional download of anything from Winter’s and my current collection.

2 downloads for $25 is barely even a fundraiser, it is practically the cost of you getting yourself some new music. We wanted it to be a win win for everyone. We have done a meticulous job of sticking to our budget so far, but airfare for a person and a cello wasn’t in it. Still, we know Betsy adds so much visually as well as musically that we really want her to be part of it. And she wants to be part of it too!

So if you would like to score yourself some great new music, while keeping us out of the red and ensuring that our video has added visual appeal, get on over to Indiegogo and snag our featured perk, GET BETSY.

Your eyes and ears will thank you! And so will Winter and I!


Portals Featured Sponsor: Mithros Designs



It is time to introduce another Portals Sponsor: jewelry makers extraordinairre, Mithros Designs!

Mithros Designs (also known as Oddysey Craftworks) specialize in pieces inspired by myth and magic. They describe their work as “magic in metal”. Each piece is cast to order, and they offer quite an array of different styles.

They even feature a necklace based on one of SJ Tucker’s designs – the labyrinth from her Blessings album! The stone at its center is….wait for it….a Sugilite!


Sooj’s sugilite labyrinth!

This is one of my favorite pieces of theirs, for not only is it beautiful in its own right, but it reminds all who wear it that we can step into the magic Sooj evokes for us at any time. Artists collaborating in this way to deepen each other’s worlds definitely hits my sweet spot! This is what Portals is all about, after all, and Mithros Designs nails it with their collaborative spirit!

We met Mithros Designs proprietors Liv and Andross Moore at SJ Tucker’s Strowlerfest in St. Louis. They were there vending their wares and were very supportive of the whole Strowler tribe and all the artists involved. The camaraderie at Strowlerfest is one of my strongest memories from early touring years, and Liv and Andross were very much a part of that.


Who wouldn’t want this customizable gorgeousness to celebrate their union?

Very committed to leaving a small footprint, they describe their process as “obsessively green.” They use 100% recycled metals, 80% – 100% recycled packaging, and are fastidious about making sure no contaminants get into the water and woods around their home. That is certainly in alignment with the values of the people I know!  So if you are a believer in the “Vote with your dollars” mindset, you’d be voting for a whole lot of goodness when you pick up your next piece of jewelry at Mithros Designs.

In keeping with their willingness to throw in with other artists, they have supported not only Portals, but also Hexenfest. If you like either of these projects, know that Mithros is a part of the team that makes them happen.

They also have a fragrance line at http://underhillalchemy.com

Their website is currently undergoing a redesign so they are asking folks to visit their Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/OdysseyCraftworks

You can learn more about them in their own words, also on Etsy, at https://www.etsy.com/shop/OdysseyCraftworks/about

Thank you, Liv and Adross of Mithros Designs, for being part of what makes art go around!


Each of these Portals sponsors has been hand selected by me as someone I would feel proud to showcase. They will each be getting a feature here over the next few months. Click the banners to visit their pages.

Portals Featured Sponsor: Purlescence Yarns

When I was in the midst of the Portals crowd funding campaign, my favorite part was shining a light on the various artists who are participating. When the campaign needed a boost, I offered the Film Sponsorship level to select businesses, folks whom I felt exemplified the Portals vision in their own work. This “Featured Sponsor” series will showcase each participant and the contribution they make to our communities.

Our second Portals sponsor is Purlescence Yarns!

yarn bowl

Purlescence Yarns, 564 S. Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

I met the dynamic duo of Kaye and Sandi Luck at a weekend workshop on resilience. Several members of their community were at the event, spinning, knitting, and making all sorts of amazing things out of yarn. I was impressed with their ability to build community; they already had most of the things we were exploring in the workshop underway!

Based on what I saw, it surprised me not at all to find out that Sandi and Kaye run a successful fiber arts business. If the projects I saw are any indication, they have a playful – and downright witchy – approach to crafting things with fiber.

Let’s meet them, shall we?

Sandi is on the left, Kaye on the right.

Sandi is on the left, Kaye on the right.

Quoth Kaye: “We are Purlescence Yarns, a pagan, queer owned fiber arts store.  We specialize in hand spinning, weaving, knitting, crochet and felting.  We carry a large line of spinning wheels and looms as well as many fair traded or locally produced yarns and tools.  We teach anything we do.  We are focused on teaching a clear understanding of the craft, and we want our customers to be able to take care of their equipment as well.”

Sounds like fun! I’ve been intrigued by felting lately, and would love to take a class or two!

They describe themselves as “mad spinners and weavers”, promoting their philosophy of “fiber arts as meditation –  especially spinning, as it has a natural rhythm that lends itself to meditating”.  Indeed when I spent that weekend with them, their mad spinning brought to mind the Norns, spinning worlds into existence as they turned wool into yarn, yarn into stunning garments. What worlds might you weave for yourself, as you contemplate life’s deeper mysteries through creative trance?

The Purlescence Living Room!

The Purlescence Living Room! The banner in the background was created by their customers.

The allure of thriving creative community has thoroughly captured my heart, as you well know, so naturally this is something that really resonates with me about the Purlescence gals.  They teach classes, host knit-alongs and craft nights, and even have a dedicated community area, which they call “The Living Room”.

Says Kaye, “We are in this to create space for each person who comes through our doors to be the best person they can be”.

In my book, working with the arts is a fine way to become the best person you can be!

BONUS: Sandi and Kaye introduced me to the work of Nathaniel Johnstone and Abney Park. Nathaniel, as you may know, is now lending his talents to Portals. On spins the web of connection!

Here are some more pictures of Purlescence, simply because they are nifty!

Shop WheelsShop Living Room






Shop Looms










Want to visit Purlescence Yarns and learn to spin your own fate?

If you find yourself in Sunnyvale, you’re in luck! They can also be found online.

Shop Front

564 S. Murphy Ave
Sunnyvale, CA 94086





I sure am having fun shining a light on all these fabulous folks and their offerings to the world. I hope you are enjoying reading about them. Discovering new people doing cool things is one of the best parts of life!


Each of these Portals sponsors has been hand selected by me as someone I would feel proud to showcase. They will each be getting a feature here over the next few months. Click the banners to visit their pages.

Portals Featured Artist: Tim Rayborn

Tim Rayborn. Photo: Paul Nordin

Tim Rayborn. Photo: Paul Nordin

Tim Rayborn plays everything, including several instruments you have never heard of. He is a medieval scholar (Leeds University), and has toured extensively through Europe and the United States with several early music ensembles. He has appeared on over 30 recordings to date, including Pandemonaeon’s Dangerous Beauty, and Winter’s and my last album, Neofolk Romantique.

Tim specializes in early music not only from Europe but well into the Middle East. He is also an excellent singer.

We met Tim through the Middle Eastern dance community, and he joined Pandemonaeon for awhile. It was during the time when Caith was also in Pandemonaeon, and those two together were a non-stop humor train.

In addition to his solo work, he co-directs the medieval ensemble Cançonièr with recorder virtuoso Annette Bauer, performs with Celtic harpist Patrick Ball, and regularly works with Shira Kammen.

Tim has a penchant for storytelling, and has created several popular shows based on historic characters and legends throughout history. Project names include “The Black Dragon: Music from the Time of Vlad Dracula” (Cançonièr) and “The Far Famed Ones – Poetry and Music of the Vikings” (Music Sources Concert Series – solo show).

In short, Tim is a great guy, with a dark sense of humor and a flair for musical performance, and we look forward to working with him again!

Check him out shredding on saz here:

And learn more about Tim here:


Featured Portals Artist: Wendy Rule


Wendy Rule

If you are remotely interested in the realms of magic, you almost certainly have heard of Wendy Rule. She is pure witchcraft. Born on Halloween, her voice is perfectly suited to pagan music.

Her voice sounds like Edith Piaf and opium and the dark caves of Hecate. To listen to her is pure intoxication.

She also has a real glamour about her. She walks into a room and fills the space with a commanding and mysterious presence. She’s got a star quality, such that you’d expect her to be quite the diva. Yet when you get to know her, she is completely down to earth. Fun loving, witty, and well traveled, Wendy is a person who truly relishes life, and I am honored to call her friend.

Wendy is the only Portals artist that I don’t already have a song for. I am going to write one special, because I so very much want to sing with her. Her voice is pure magic, and singing with her will inspire me to my most evocative.

Extra tidbits: Wendy was a jazz singer for many years! Winter and I spent a week with her and her husband Timothy in New Orleans and got to hear her sing a jazz standard with a New Orleans band. That was a great time!

Wendy and Tim also teach a year long online class on magic called Living a Life of Magic.

Here is a gorgeous video of Wendy:

You can learn more about Wendy on her website:

And you can make your pledge to Portals right here:


Portals Featured Artist: Alexander James Adams


Alexander James Adams

Alexander James Adams is the original Faerytale Minstrel. He has been playing faerytale folk music on dozens of instruments long before it was cool. He’s been on the circuit since I can remember, defining the genre almost single handedly. He is the consummate session man, able to jump in at a moment’s notice and learn your songs in real time, as you are playing them on stage. And what he comes up with is devilishly tasty!

He is one third of the wildly popular band of frolicsome fey, Tricky Pixie. Along with Betsy Tinney and SJ Tucker, Alec charms the socks off of audiences all across the US and Europe.

Give a listen, and then get excited for his addition on Portals!

Learn and listen to more of Alec’s work here:


And make your pledge to PORTALS right here:


Portals Featured Artist: Betsy Tinney


Betsy Tinney

Cellist Betsy Tinney is one third of the dynamic trio known as Tricky Pixie. Along with SJ Tucker and Alexander James Adams, Betsy charms audiences in America and Europe with her soulful yet whimsical playing.

Winter and I were fortunate to have her play on Mistress of MacLyr (Neofolk Romantique) and now that we’ve had a taste, we want her on more songs! She also appears with us when we play Faerieworlds.

Betsy writes playful songs about animals, and is the author of an SJ Tucker performance favorite, “Alligator in the House”. If you know SJ Tucker, you know the song I am referring to.

Betsy is highly sought after, playing with the Heather Dale Band, SJ Tucker, Tricky Pixie, Jessica Star, Kellianna, Molly Lewis, and, whenever we can get her, us!

She’s also got a great sense of pixie style! I love her stage outfits and her kind heart and her love of cats. And of course her divine cello playing! She’s got a solo album out called “Release the Cello” which features beautifully layered looping cellos.

This haunting song from “Release the Cello” is one of my favorites:

You can learn more about Betsy Tinney at:


Reserve your copy of the Portals album plus get lots of specialty perks and help the Portals project realize its full vision here: