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!

4)Rum.
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.

8)Rum.
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!

A Promise to a River

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When you tour around to various magic-themed festivals as much as I do, you end up participating in a lot of community magics. Which, of course, I love. Sharing in ritual is a wonderful way to strengthen ties and build lasting bonds with the people you meet, imbuing a talisman with memories and insights from the festival experience. I always make an effort to participate in whatever magical intent the organizers have prepared for us.

Such was the case a few weeks ago, when we played two festivals on consecutive weekends in Ontario; Spirits of the Earth and Kaleidoscope Gathering. At Spirits of the Earth’s closing ritual, we were each given a stone with an 8-rayed star painted on it. We were to imbue the stone with something we wished to manifest, a goal or yearning that we would carry forth into the world, fueled by the inspiration of the festival. Then we were to cast our stone into a body of water.

A fairly standard bit of magic, as these things go. The spirit of nature, in this case the soul of a river, invigorates our talisman with its own properties, and we benefit through the linking. We offer our stones to the water; a lake, a river, an ocean, as a way for nature to witness our desire, to accept it into her. To attune ourselves to the rhythm and flow of the natural world is to open our souls to her, and an open soul has a much better chance of crafting a fulfilled life. I link the sticky emotion of my desire to the stone, and then offer it to the river, that she may enliven it with her own essence, that our mingled essences will bring the wisdom of the river to my heart’s desire.

Such were my musings as I realized, the next weekend at the Kaleidoscope Gathering, that here I was, in the presence of the perfect river. I had been swimming in the glorious Bonnechere River every day, so a relationship had already begun. As I was scheduled to make the mad dash back across the country the next day (and thus have a significantly higher concrete to water ratio) I decided this was the right moment to cast my stone to the waters.

So what was my intention? Often, I take every opportunity, magical or otherwise, to boost my earnings, as keeping enough money coming in to continue this “musical ministry” of ours is an ongoing challenge. However, this time I felt secure enough in that regard to turn my focus on another issue. I want to gain more mastery over my health. I want to keep myself fit enough to do this work for years to come. I need to find ways of getting enough exercise on the road, and I need to make sure I have healthy food prepared ahead of time so that I can avoid eating junk. My voice is very dependent on being well rested, on my muscles being toned and strong, yet relaxed, and on allergies not being triggered. Exhaustion definitely takes a toll on my voice. And yet exhaustion is difficult to avoid on the road.

So my wish was to have my voice working in prime capacity at all times, and to find and develop the habits that would most support this. For when my voice is on, I know that it is a gift. It is a tool of magic that can enchant and captivate, and if I can enchant and captivate with consistency, the money will be there.

I spent time in meditation, and then I waded into the river and cast my stone, asking the river to help me. I then swam and surrendered myself to her totally.

A short time later, I realized something. I hadn’t merely asked the river to help me, to open me to insight and guidance that would lead me to vocal and physical well being. I had also made a promise to the river.

I had made a promise to uphold my end of this bargain, to actively commit to finding ways to maximize health on the road. It is not only what the river can do for me, it is what I am pledging to do, as the river is my witness.

This is what a reciprocal relationship with nature looks like, at least in part. If I believe in the soul of nature (and I do), and the soul of this particular river, enough that I find worth in asking it to witness, to hold my prayers, to lend me its life force, then surely I must also see that asking the river for its attention compels a certain respect on my end. What effort, what direction of life force am I throwing in with my stone, that makes this more than a meaningless gesture? If I ask the river for her gifts, I must also agree to put my own skin in the game. I am making a promise to this river to cultivate my own human vibrance, that my voice stays supple and strong enough to sing to her when next I see her.

I would not expect my new river friend to magically solve my problems for me, any more than I would expect a human friend to do so. We all know the frustrated therapist, at her wits’ end because those she counsels won’t do the work. And yet, too often we forget that the magic we cast doesn’t just happen, well, magically. Our magic deepens and supports our work, but it is still our work to do.

So Bonnechere River, here is my pledge to you. In exchange for your inspiration, for your delicious, electrical life force, which invigorates me anew every time I see your picture and remember you on my skin, I commit myself to actively refining my health, so that I am a finely tuned machine, able to deliver songs that set spines tingling whenever they are sung. I will demonstrate this commitment to you by writing and recording you your very own song. I thank you for your gifts, Bonnechere River, and they will not be taken for granted.

Martha Stewart, Fireflies, and The Soul of Business: An Epiphany

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There’s a feeling I get, that I have always gotten throughout my life. It is the feeling of warm summer nights, running carefree and barefoot as a child. It is the feeling of dinners outside at a long table, of convivial conversations and laughter, of sneaking scraps to the dog, of fireflies and candles and twinkling lights strung up around the garden. It is the feel of hot jasmine tea on a misty day, of a huge soft towel after emerging from a hot tub. It is the feeling of solitude and quiet, the feeling of sand between my toes as the sea rolls and crashes nearby.

I have always called this feeling the “Martha Stewart” feeling. The feeling that life is good. That there is enough. There is enough money. Enough security. Enough love. Enough kindness. It is the feeling that the world is a friendly place, a safe place to relax and laugh and create, a place to share good meals with friends and family. In this feeling, there is room for a big table in the kitchen. Or a beautiful garden with matching dishes and beautiful place settings. It is the feeling of plenitude, the “Good Life”.

This feeling represents “home” to me. And yet, it has been elusive for much of my life. For a long time, I associated this feeling with family. Since I was estranged from my family for many years, I have spent much of my life with a sense that I am outside of this feeling. That the “Martha Stewart” quality is simply not available to me.

Around the time I began making gentle inroads toward healing with my parents, I owned a home. This home had a dining room, and I hosted Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners there. For the few years we owned this home, I felt like the matriarch, able to provide the “Martha Stewart” feeling for my family. We had a big table that fit 10 people. We had matching dishes. We had convivial conversations. But I wasn’t able to keep the house, and in losing the house, I lost something far more dear to me than 4 walls. I lost the sense of pride I had in being able to provide a gathering place for friends and family. I lost my ability to provide the Martha Stewart feeling.

I associate the Martha Stewart feeling with families that were not broken. With having enough money to create the sort of life that you see in Sunset magazine. I had neither of these things, so I tried to forget about it. I tried to be grateful for what I did have, and make do with that.

I went through my life, creating a world for myself within “alternative” communities. “Chosen” family. I strove to create life on my own terms, building a career as an independent musician, and doing reasonably okay with that, though the money won’t be getting me a house with a garden here in the San Francisco Bay Area any time soon.

At some point, as part of this “Building a business-crafting life on my own terms” thing, I decided I needed a manifesto. All the cool kids had one. The entrepreneurs who inspired me, who were doing what I wanted to do, and whom I was modeling my own career path on – the Chris Guillebeaus and Leonie Dawsons and Danielle LaPortes – they all had manifestos.

I decided that Neofolk Romantique needed a manifesto. So I wrote one and put it up on my website, and not much came of it.

I would still dream of the Martha Stewart feeling. I have Pinterest boards of beautiful homes by the sea – the modern day equivalent of Sunset magazine – and I find it relaxing to look at them, in the same way it is relaxing to imagine winning the lottery. You don’t really think it will happen, but you still enjoy the feeling the fantasy gives you. Since currently my life is very nomadic and I don’t have much of a sense of home, I suppose the boards fill a gap. I can flesh out with imagination what feels lacking in my “real” world. It is a way I can bring the Martha Stewart feeling into my life even though I may never have it in my reality.

Usually, I go about my life being thankful for what I have and working like a dog to grow it. I try not to covet what others have, and I try not to dwell overly much on the Martha Stewart feeling. For that is not my life. That life is for somebody else, I reasoned.

Then, the other day, I came across a collection of writings by a woman named Hiro Boga. A teacher’s teacher, Hiro Boga is the mentor of women whose businesses I admire, women like Danielle LaPorte and Leonie Dawson. The mentor of my mentors! I needed to check her out. I quickly realized working with her is beyond the scope of my financial ability, but I could afford one of her books.

So I bought an eBook, called Soul Business.

In Soul Business, Ms. Boga talks about our businesses as having their own souls. Our businesses are entities that we can communicate with, make pledges with, form relationships with. We can agree to take care of each other. Such a lovely, refreshing idea! I think of my business as something I forge from the fire of determination; the lone hustle, hard and relentless. I approach my business more like Mad Eye Moody approaches the Death Eaters; requiring “constant vigilance”. As much as I love the idea of the “soul” of my business, I act as though I don’t trust her. I treat my business as a house of cards that must constantly be fussed with to ensure it doesn’t fall over. I haven’t really thought of her having a soul of her own. I’ve thought of her as having a “vibe”, of representing who I am at my core. I have a strong sense of my “brand”. But I had not taken that extra step of seeing my business as having a soul. Of being a presence that can stand up on her own and let me know what she wants.

This notion felt completely natural (of course the vibe of my business, my brand, would have a soul) and completely eye-opening at the same time. My goodness, I treat my business as this fragile thing that will crumble the second I relax, instead of a friend who’s got my back! I immediately felt so much less alone.

And as this epiphany washed over me, the Martha Stewart feeling came rushing back to me.

It is the feeling of fireflies and secrets and whiskey-warmed belly laughs.

Words from my Neofolk Romantique manifesto! I realized that I had thought about this manifesto all wrong. Like a commodity. Like a business transaction, a thing I had to do to compete with the hip entrepreneurs of my day. A thing to get done and cross off my to-do list. Like a notch in my belt.

I had short-changed my manifesto, and missed the entire point of writing it. That manifesto is nothing short of the soul of my business, the quality that I have always longed for and felt was so elusive.

And then I realized what must surely be obvious to you already:

That Martha Stewart feeling, the Neofolk Romantique feeling, is not something to be attained outside of myself, touched only through glossy magazines and dreams of other people’s lives. It is not dependent on money or my parents approval. That feeling lives inside of me, and it always has.

This seems so obvious now, and in some ways I always knew this. But I also held it outside myself, only mine as some sort of material reward for being “good” or “successful”. And I now realize I don’t have to hold it outside myself as some sort of reward. I can allow it to blossom inside me and live in my heart forever, starting right now. I can make friends with it as the soul of my business, as the soul of Neofolk Romantique, which guides everything I hope to offer the world. Every song, show, workshop, piece of art, is merely a vehicle to share this feeling with others, to begin the convivial conversation. It’s as though I have been pushing it away because I believed it could only come when I had the means to have a big table in the garden. But I can create this anywhere and everywhere. And indeed this is my great gift to the world. This is what I am truly offering, this secret window inside my soul. My “offerings” are only the means of delivery.

I need never be separate from this feeling again. And I needn’t be lonely with longing. I simply need to own that this feeling lives within me, and it always has.

It as been a long time since I’ve read something that has sparked such insight, and I really needed it! Sometimes the “Aha!” moments we need most are the ones sitting right under our noses.

I am very thankful for this book, and I urge my fellow entrepreneurs to read it. I’d be curious to hear what sort of changes you experience, considering your business as a Being with it’s own soul.

Racism is Not Welcome Anywhere in my Sphere of Influence

Handschlag [ (c) www.BilderBox.com, Erwin Wodicka, Siedlerzeile 3, A-4062 Thening, Tel. + 43 676 5103678.Verwendung nur gegen HONORAR, BELEG,URHEBERVERMERK und den AGBs auf bilderbox.com](in an im auf aus als and beim mit einer einem eines * & der die das . ), Bevoelkerung, Bevölkerung, Gesellschaft, Gesellschaftsschichten, Haende, Hand, Hände, Koerper, Koerperteil, Koerperteile, Körper, Körperteil, Körperteile, Leute, Mensch, Menschen, Person, Personen, Darstellung, Darstellungen, Gebärde, Gebärden, Geste, Gesten, gestik, Gestiken, gestikulieren, Hände schütteln, Händeschütteln, handschlag, Handzeichen, Koerpersprache, Körpersprache, Mimik, Freund, Freunde, Freundinnen, Freundschaft, Anderartigen, Anders, andersartig, Auslaender, Auslaenderin, Auslaenderinnen, Auslaendern, Auslaenderpolitik, Auslaenderproblematik, auslaendisch, auslaendische, auslaendischen, auslaendischer, auslaendisches, Ausländer, Ausländerin, Ausländerinnen, Ausländern, Ausländerpolitik, Ausländerproblematik, ausländisch, ausländische, ausländischen, ausländischer, ausländisches, Aussenseiter, Auswanderer, Auswanderern, Auswandern, Außenseiter, Begriffe, Deutschkenntnis, Deutschkenntnisse, Eingewandert, Eingewanderten, Einwanderer, Einwandern, Example, Fremd, Fremde, Fremden, Fremder, Illustration, Imigrant, Imigration, Imigrieren, Immigrant, Immigration, Immigrieren, Migrationspolitik, Minderheit, Minderheiten, Minderheitenpolitik, Minderheitenproblematik, Multikulturell, Multikulturelle, Multikulturellen, Multikultureller, Multikulturelles, Nicht deutschsprachigen, Probleme, Soziales, Sozialpolitik, Sozialwesen, Staasbuergerschaft, Staatsbürgerschaft, Symbol, Symbol Foto, Symbol Fotos, Symbol Photo, Symbol Photos, Symbol-Foto, Symbol-Fotos, Symbol-Photo, Symbol-Photos, Symbolabbildung, Symbolabbildungen, Symbolaufnahme, Symbolaufnahmen, Symbolbild, Symbolbilder, Symbolbildern, Symbole, Symbolen, Symbolfoto, Symbolfotos, Symbolisch, Symbolische, Symbolischen, Symbolischer, Symbolisches, Symbol

I can barely believe I need to write this. I can barely believe there needs to be a special group called Heathens United Against Racism.

But apparently that is the reality of where we are at this moment in time. So I post this that my community will know in no uncertain terms where I stand. This post is in response to this recent post by Steve Abell, Steersman of the Throth: “Letters from Midgard: Yes, Enough”.

I could make this easy on myself and say “What John Beckett said”, because damn, he nailed it in his recent writing, “Racism Cannot be Tolerated”.  But I prefer to take the time to find my own words. This is what I have to say in response to both of the above blogposts:

I have had an uneasy relationship with Heathenry for about 12 years now. Its power is undeniable. Its Gods and its inner landscapes are both beautiful and terrible. And yet, its willingness to accept racism as a defining feature among some of its practitioners is utterly abhorrent to me. It makes me ashamed to call myself Heathen. So I often don’t.

The Blood and Soil nonsense needs to be abolished. It is hurtful, exclusionary, and completely fallacious. We humans have been nomadic since forever. We’ve been intermingling with one another since we dwelt in caves, so the thought that there has ever been any sort of racial purity is ridiculous.

Also, Gods have called to people across cultural boundaries for as long as we have record of people experiencing Gods. Who are we to second guess the choices of Gods?  It is laughable to think this is our decision to make. Aside from the absurdity in such thinking, this attitude in no way demonstrates the hospitality that Heathens boast of.

The kind of Heathenry espoused by Stephen McNallen makes my skin crawl. I want as far away from it as I can get. However, I am unwilling to cede the ground to such views and let them poison something so breathtakingly beautiful. So I stay, that I may be part of defining a Heathenry I can be proud of.

I don’t know Ryan Smith well. I don’t know Steven Abell at all. But to suggest that Ryan is too extreme in his condemnation of racism while Stephen McNallen is a friendly fellow to chat with is everything that is wrong with Heathenry. Personally I think an aggressive stance against racism is called for. People are being killed over it. If you don’t like Ryan’s methods then come up with your own. But do something, because racism is poisoning the well.

I am glad HUAR exists. I wish it didn’t need to. The fact that some felt a need to create a group to demarcate those of us willing to stand against racism is telling indeed. The day we don’t need a special group, because the word “Heathen” itself already includes within it a bold stance against racism, is the day I will wear the banner of Heathen proudly.

I can’t stop people being racists. But I don’t have to tolerate racism, or welcome it at any events I produce, sponsor, or attend. Racism is not welcome in my sphere of influence in any way.

Standing up for true Heathen hospitality by welcoming and defending ANY person who is genuinely drawn to Heathen traditions is the kind of Heathenry I want to be a part of, and one I will help to create.

– Sharon Knight

Seven Creative Ideas for Summoning the Solstice Spirit!

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Yesterday we put up our Yule tree, which is always the moment each year when I feel I’ve entered the season. So I’ve decided it’s time for my annual “I’m a Pagan who loves Christmas” post.

This isn’t going to be about “tradition”, and the subsequent nifty list of all the ways Christmas comes from Pagan roots. Nor is it going to be about how the holidays have lost all meaning because they’ve become a consumer orgy. Those posts are well represented, and don’t need another contribution from me. This post is about the one quality that has always defined the winter holidays for me, and has kept the wonder and magic alive through a wide range of circumstances: Good Will.

Good Will. Boy does that seem in short supply these days! People are stressed. Broke. Uncertain about their futures. The world seems filled with hate. It is so easy to throw up our hands and give in to cynicism. People suck, so why bother with anything?

And yet. We can make choices about how we shape our world, even if they are small. They needn’t cost much money, or time. They can be simple acts, humble and without fanfare, that nonetheless bring a sparkle of Good Will to the recipient, thus increasing the overall spirit that the holidays were meant to invoke.

Here are a few ideas that will make you and those around you feel good even when you are broke, strapped for time, and discouraged with humanity in general.

1.) Remember the true spirit of giving:
Giving does not have to mean going into debt so that you can pile all the cheap plastic crap from China your shopping cart can hold onto every person whos name you remember. Giving doesn’t have to involve spending money at all. Giving of your heart, your imagination, your attention, will be far more meaningful to your loved ones in most cases. You can write a blessing or wish for a loved one on nice paper, with colored pens, in your best handwriting, and roll it up into a scroll. You can write them a song. You can bake cookies. You can decoupage pretties onto a plain notebook to make a special journal. You can paint a rock with “I Appreciate You”. You can give them a small candle with a card that says “As this candle burns, remember my love for you”. You can even just take a moment to look them in the eye and tell them you love them. Any talent you might have can be turned into a simple token of appreciation that lets someone know you are thinking of them with kindness.

2.) Include those who are alone and sad
We’ve all heard the reminders that the holidays can be a lonely time for people. Perhaps they are estranged from family, or their partner has died, and all the warm, fuzzy talk of family and good cheer only triggers the lack of these things in their life. Know someone in this situation? Invite them over. Bake them some cookies. Invite them to tell their story. Let it be okay if they aren’t brimming over with good cheer. In this situation yourself? (I know I have been!) Can you organize a gathering for folks who are in a similar situation? If that seems like too much, or you don’t have the space, can you volunteer at a homeless shelter or retirement home? Giving to others what we want for ourselves often increases it in our hearts as well.

3.) Create a Festive Atmosphere
One of my favorite parts of the winter holiday season is the tree! The idea that the world is a cornucopia of abundance and plenty is an ideal I hold dear to my heart, and I believe we can create this world by learning to live sustainably, and working to create societies that benefit all its members instead of just a few. However, if you don’t have room or money for a tree, or just don’t like the idea of trees being cut, you can create this feeling in a variety of different ways. You can collect pine branches and cones; wrap small candles with sprigs of holly; boil clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon to fill your home with fragrance; cut snowflakes out of printer paper and hang them around your house. You can write blessings and wishes on these snowflakes and put them in a pretty bowl for guests to select, like a holiday fortune. Pinterest is our friend. Search Pinterest for “Holiday Decorations DIY” for a truly abundant selection of ideas for creating festivity. You can even host a craft night, and invite your lonely friend.

4). Practice Kindness
If ever there was a good time to remember that practicing random acts of kindness does not have to be relegated to the “tired cliche” bin, but is in fact, always in style, the holidays are it! Good Will exists because we bring it! Pay someone’s parking meter. Buy the eggnog latte of the person behind you. Open the door for someone with a heavy load. Pick up a thing they dropped. Buy a homeless person a sandwich. Or just say something kind to them. Send a card to this little girl. 

5.) Give the Gift of Attention
Is your mom always rubbing her neck? Give her a massage from you. Sister seem stressed? Ask why, and then offer to help. You can present your offerings in the form of a pretty gift certificate, so your recipients have something fun to open. You can gift a few hours of house cleaning, or a home cooked meal with with plenty of leftovers. When we give the gift of our time and attention, we help our loved ones feel seen and supported, often without spending a dime.

6.) Send a Love Letter
Write someone a letter telling them all the things you appreciate about them. Or simply, some good things you are wishing for them. Perhaps the lonely fellow who lives in your apartment building. (Bonus: Invite him to craft night! If he isn’t creepy).

7) Question Tradition
Are you really obligated to make a huge dinner for relatives you don’t relate to? Who decided this? Can you change it? Take a year off? Ask someone else to host? There may be reasons why you can’t, but often we find ourselves doing things out of habit, never even questioning the status quo, and a few minutes of reflection may reveal that there is more wiggle room than we had assumed. When we are doing things out of obligation rather than joy, we are missing the point, after all.

These are just a few things off the top of my head. I know how easy it can be to get entrenched in emotional baggage around the holidays, and forget that we can shake our holiday routines up a little if we want to. We are only limited by our imaginations, and I hope my list sparks your own list, that we all continue to inspire each other to sprinkle the faerie-dust of love, connection, support, empathy, and Good Will into this big old sometimes-scary-and-sad-but-always-breathtakingly-beautiful world!


Want more creativity?

Join Sharon and Francesca in:
The Enchantment of Creativity
Jumpstart your creative flow in 6 weeks this January
An online course with Sharon Knight and Francesca Gentille


 

The Porcelain Princess Music Video is LIVE!

The first phase of the Portals vision has been realized! The Porcelain Princess music video is live!

We filmed it over two days in July at SF Oasis, a drag queen cabaret. It was great fun, and a wonderful team of folks came together to lend their talents to the project, making it so much more than I could have imagined! I am so thankful for everyone involved! This is the spirit of collaboration in action folks, and thus the spirit of Portals; that when we all bring our inspiration together, we can make something so much more than we can do just on our own.

Without further ado, I post it here for your enjoyment. You can also view it directly on YouTube and subscribe to our channel, right here:

https://youtu.be/KptG3ONbYe8


 

Portals Featured Sponsor: Coventry Creations

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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.

candles-burning

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
248-545-8360
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
248-547-2987
candlewickshoppe.com

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!


DISCOVER THE OTHER PORTALS FILM SPONSORS!

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: the Candle Wick Shoppe!

11828613_10153511941891085_9104382544571297988_nAh what could be better after a long and arduous tour than a wee nip of Professor Fenster’s Snake Oil! After all, it cures what ails ya, and also reminds us that “If it don’t bite, it ain’t right”.

Which was the line that sealed my fate as the new owner of this quirky flask. I can’t think of a better place for my favorite Scotch come next Pantheacon! Especially since the tag line for Portals is “Siren Song and Snake Oil”.

This flask was made by a Detroit artist and is one of many fun items available at the Candle Wick Shoppe, today’s featured Portals sponsor!

Winter and I performing at Candle Wick Shoppe.

Winter and I performing at Candle Wick Shoppe.

Winter and I played a charming show at the Candle Wick Shoppe a few weeks ago to a very appreciative audience, and we fell in love with the place! Of course, we knew we would, because we had fallen in love with the feisty redheaded proprietess, Jacki Smith, a year earlier at the Earth Warriors Festival in Ohio. She had a vendor’s table right next to ours, and we hit it off right out of the gate. We quickly found that we had mutual friends (Susan Diamond and Shimmering Wolf of Serpent’s Kiss), and stayed up late into the night talking, laughing, and generally goofing off.

When I asked Jacki what she’d like folks to know about the Candle Wick Shoppe, she had this to say:

CAM00544“The Candle Wick Shoppe is located at 175 W. Nine Mile in Ferndale, Michigan, and has been in downtown Ferndale since 2008. We’ve got all your magical needs covered, as well as any other candle-related needs you would have; we carry all of Coventry Creations candles, along with many other brands of soy, beeswax and paraffin candles and handmade incenses and oils. We have mojo bags that are made in the shop by our staff, who have been described as “friendly, helpful, and hilarious”. Candle Wick is also home to the Reiki Healing Center; we have licensed Reiki practitioners here three days a week, each with their special twist on Reiki healing.  At the Candle Wick Shoppe, we try to create a fun and peaceful space for people to get their mojo on.”

cws peepsI certainly found being at the Candle Wick Shoppe a fun and peaceful place to get my mojo on. Winter and I adored playing in the space. It is beautiful, clean, and radiates a positive playful vibe. Definitely the kind of place you’d want to explore for making magic of your life! They carry several handcrafted items, including Jacki’s own candle line, Coventry Creations. I also found the staff friendly, helpful, and hilarious! Humor goes a long way with me. I really love people who show an obvious passion for their work without taking themselves too seriously, and Jacki and her clan have this in spades.

The Candle Wick Shoppe is a wonderful place for kindling the imagination and planting the seeds of dream deep within the well of the psyche, to activate positive change and gain more mastery in life. If you are a fan of combining vision and action to increase the charm in your life, check out the Candle Wick Shoppe! It cures what ails ya!

Candle-WickCandle Wicke Shoppe
175 West 9 Mile Road
Ferndale, MI 48220
(248) 547-2987
http://www.candlewickshoppe.com

 

 

 


DISCOVER THE OTHER PORTALS FILM SPONSORS!

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: Ivo Dominguez

ivodweb_med_hrToday it is my great honor to introduce one of the shining lights of the Pagan community, Ivo Dominguez. And it happens to coincide with the our show at the New Alexandrian Library, spearheaded by Ivo himself! I love life’s little synchronicities!

I met Ivo through T. Thorn Coyle, and he has graciously hosted several house concerts for Winter and I when we are on tour on the East Coast. In the past we have played in a beautiful domed temple room with wonderful acoustics. Last night we played in the New Alexandrian Library and it was phenomenal. We didn’t even use our amps, the acoustics were flawless!

If you haven’t yet heard of the New Alexandrian Library, it is a project envisioned by Ivo and some of his coven mates, to recreate a large library for the magical arts, and they have done a spectacular job! Everything Ivo is involved with has a certain style and the library is no exception.

To say Ivo has done a lot for the Pagan and magical communities would be downplaying the matter indeed!

Therefore he was a natural to ask about participating in a Portals sponsorship, because I knew I would feel great about telling my folks about him!

When I asked which of his many projects he’d like featured he said he’d like to focus on his next book, and his writings in general. He has written four books to date, including “Spirit Speak” and “Casting Sacred Space”.

Ivo’s current book is called “Practical Astrology for Witches and Pagans: Using the Planets and the Stars for Effective Spellwork, Rituals, and Magickal Work”.

I attended one of Ivo’s astrology classes a few years back, and it was the best presentation on astrology I have ever experienced, live or in book form. Ivo knows his stuff, and has a natural affinity for explaining it. He describes the principles and patterns of astrology with metaphors that bring them vividly to life, and I found his class to be a richly visceral experience. Ivo’s understanding of magic is the real deal, and I am honored to feature him here.

Here is a blurb for Practical Astrology:

“More often than not, people think of astrology as a tool for divination or the exploration of one’s personality. Astrology is considerably more than that. It is a sacred science, a highly descriptive symbolic language, and it is also a technology that can be applied to ritual, herbalism, the use of crystals, and much more.

This is a practical handbook for any practitioner of magic to use in building individual rituals and creating the most effective magic. Concise, focused, and expertly presented, this book teaches the core concepts of astrology so that wiccans and pagans can truly apply it to their practices”.

Portals Ad Ivo

GET THE BOOK HERE!

BONUS: I hear rumors that you will be able to get astrological readings from Ivo in the near future!

Ivo has done wonderful work in the community with his meta coven, Assembly of the Sacred Wheel.  Numerous covens have grown out of the core training offered by the Assembly, and provide strong community support for the East Coast Pagan community. He is an absolute gem for our community!

You can learn more about Ivo, including his books, classes, and readings on his website:

www.ivodominguezjr.com


DISCOVER THE OTHER PORTALS FILM SPONSORS!

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.


Strange Denizens Beneath the Bay

Photo Jul 24, 10 25 17 AM

When starting any travel journal, I like to start where I am. So this morning I went out to the bay to say a final farewell before we hit the road.

As I was strolling along, I happened upon these unfortunately looking spirals of what looked like some sort of animal poop. Bird poop, I wondered? What kind of bird poops in spirals? None I had ever seen. Usually bird poop is a bit more splappy. I decided further investigation was in order.

Photo Jul 24, 10 30 32 AM

So up close I got. This poop is thoroughly covered in sand. Did the animal poop underground? Is this from some sort of creature that dwells beneath the sand? Maybe it isn’t poop at all. I grabbed a stick and sliced through a few piles. It was sand through and through. Not poop at all.
Some underground creature must be burrowing out its dwelling.

Photo Jul 24, 10 31 10 AM

As I stood there, I saw a spiral of sand push up through the ground. A biological event was in progress, clearly!

As I looked around, I noticed these little jellyfish-like creatures nearby. There were hundreds of them. I decided these creatures must have something to do with the spirals. Perhaps they burrowed up from beneath the sand, and then expanded into this shape once they were above ground?

Most curious. I have never seen a creature like this, nor heard about one.

Photo Jul 24, 10 31 26 AM Photo Jul 24, 10 31 36 AM

They also left these little sink hole thingies.

Photo Jul 24, 10 32 45 AM

I decided they must be jellyfish and went on my merry way.

When I returned home, I decided to consult the Almighty Oracle. (i.e. Google).

This is what I learned:

Actually yes it was poop. So glad I got right up close to it and prodded it with a stick! Lucky for me, it is in fact still mostly sand. Turns out these spirals are the castings of something called a Lugworm, which can grow as long as 9 inches. And those jellyfish? They are sacks filled with Lugworm larvae. EW.

Apparently it is Lugworm hatching time right now at the Emeryville section of the SF Bay, and my fascinating nature experience was every bit as revolting as I had originally feared. Moreso even. Giant worm larvae, yay! To think that just a foot or so below me was swarming and slithering with giant worms near a foot long! Leaving big ole jelly sacks to hatch more of themselves, while littering the beach with worm poop.

I love nature!!

Silliness aside, that was actually kind of cool for me. To witness a biological happening that is not 3 minutes from my house, something that I had never even heard of. And their poop is pretty clean. These worms eat sand and absorb the bacteria out of it for their food, and then eliminate the sand. You could say this is the cleanest sand on the beach!

I still draw the “Poop is cool” line at coffee beans shat out of the butts of lemurs though.

No wonder the seagulls are so fat and happy around here!

Stay tuned for more riveting tales of weirdness! Our tour starts in 30 minutes!

For a pictographic tour journal you can follow along on Instragram – I’m sharonknight777.