Welcome

Merry Meet, all. Hummingbird, here. 19-year-old eclectic Pagan and witch who works primarily in crystal magick and energy manipulation. Asexual, with a wonderful girlfriend. I am just beginning to learn the path of Athena. Attending college with end goal of a degree in Interior Design.

This blog is a digitalized record of my life as a Pagan. It includes spells, charms, meditations, notes on the properties of various magickal items, and my own personal experiences with my practice. Sometimes I post multiple times a day, sometimes it's once a month.

All are welcome here. Please, make yourself at home, and let me know if I can help you with anything. )0(

Saturday

January 30th, 2016

Tonight was SIPA's Imbolg ritual over at the Gaia House. There were a lot of new people, plus the usual crowd of folks I'm starting to get to know. As part of their fundraiser, SIPA was raffling off a sword and chain mail shirt donated by one of their members. It would have been pretty cool to win, but I think my dorm might have a policy against swords...


Sword


Chain mail (and sword, but the lighting was bad and you can't really see it.)


Imbolg altar. Our ritual was dedicated to Brighid, and centered around red candles; everyone had a taper which we carved our intentions for the coming year in, before lighting them from the center candle, which has been used by SIPA since 2003, and was itself initially lit from Brighid's sacred fire in Ireland. Afterwards, we enjoyed milk and some delicious homemade bread.


My taper candle after the ritual. 

It was incredibly warm tonight - even at almost 9:00 at night, it's still now over 50⁰F outside. I don't know if I've ever known Imbolg to be so unseasonably warm!

Friday

January 29th, 2016

Hail reign a fair maiden with gold upon your toe,
Open up the West Gate and let the old year go;
Hail reign a fair maiden with gold upon your chin,
Open up the East Gate and let the New Year in;
Levideu sing Levideu the water and wine
The seven bright gold wires and the candles that do shine.

- Imbolg charm from The Sun Goddess, by Sheena McGrath

Thursday

January 28th, 2016


I thought I would share a photo of the pendant I picked up at Gaia House on Wednesday. I'm not certain what kind of stone it is; my original guess was Rhodonite, but it doesn't seem pink enough for that. Instead, it's a very brick-red color, with some black and grey inclusions. My second guess is that it's a kind of Jasper, but I really don't have much of an idea. 

A friend of mine proposed that it looks like an eggplant, which between its shape and its leafy little fitting, it does. "Eggplant-looking rock" doesn't tell me too much else about it, though.

I'm going to keep looking. I'd really like to identify it! If I haven't figured it out by Saturday, maybe I'll take it to the Imbolg ritual. Perhaps the person who donated it to Freecycle will be there and know what it is, or, failing that, possibly one of my other Pagan acquaintances might have an idea.

Wednesday

January 27th, 2016

Somewhere in the past 24 hours, my blog passed 20,000 page views. I never thought, when I started this page a little over four years ago, that it would be something I'd be able to keep going, let alone that anyone else would want to read it. I just wanted to thank you - yes, you - for stopping by, whether this is your first time or if you're a regular visitor. It really means a lot to me that my words and experiences are of interest to others, and if I've helped anyone by running this blog, then that's all I could ask. 

I wanted to put up another book review today while the text is still fresh in my mind, but first, here's a quick update on me: this week has been and will continue to be a busy one. Gaia House has been running a "Free-cycle" event the last day or two, so I swung by today and picked up an electric pencil sharpener and some kind of reddish crystal pendant necklace. I have a project due tomorrow morning for my Technical Woods class, and over the weekend, I'll be volunteering at Habitat for Humanity before attending SIPA's Imbolg ritual. I'm really looking forward to that! 

And now, without further ado... (I don't think I've said that in a while.)

Title: Dancing With Dragons: Invoke Their Ageless Wisdom & PowerAuthor: D. J. Conway

© 1994

I'll admit, I was a little wary of reading this after really not caring for a lot of Moon Magick, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I liked this quite a bit better.

The book breaks things down into a lot of smaller chapters, but essentially, she begins by discussing different cultures' perceptions of dragons, and ways in which dragon energies manifest themselves in the environment. She then discusses ritual tools specific to her brand of dragon magick, before leading into a series of rituals written to connect and work with different dragons for different purposes. The last group of chapters focuses on different types of dragons, where they can be found, and how and why one might work with them.

Dragon magick practitioners should be advised that Conway approaches her subject from a predominantly Wiccan perspective. I personally do not have an issue with that in this context, but if you prefer to work secularly or in some other variety of Pagan framework, then Conway's dragon rituals may or may not work for you.

She talks extensively about dragons of Eurasia, and Chinese dragons in particular, which I appreciated as my grounding in Chinese mythology is not as strong as I would like it to be. I'd really like to do a more in-depth study sometime, when I can get the books to that end. Anyway, I digress. Conway also touches briefly on the amphithere dragons of Central and South America, but she gets into some of the dismissive language which bothered me in Moon Magick; it strikes me as wrong to call civilizations such as the Aztecs "primitive", when in fact their society was highly sophisticated, no less so than any contemporary Old World nation.

On the whole, I liked Conway's rituals, and found her poetic incantations to be very nicely phrased. I tend to be a little picky about that sort of thing, but most of them, in my opinion, had both good meter and phraseology. 

Her text meshes well with previous research I've done into different kinds of dragons, and for that reason in particular, I connected with her work, because in general, it made a lot of sense to me.

There were only two other concerns which stuck out to me as something to look out for. Dancing With Dragons does provide a few mentions of ritual adaptations for disabled practitioners, but to be perfectly honest, it was pretty clear that Conway hadn't put more than the very minimum of thought into it. Whether they would actually be useful to anyone, I couldn't say for sure, but I kind of doubt it.

I also felt like Conway put a lot of emphasis on people having all of the exact tools she recommends. As someone who doesn't have access to a lot of the things her rituals employ, it bugs me a bit. Certainly any of the rituals could be adapted easily enough, but it still rubs me the wrong way to be told that I must have a specially engraved pentacle and a sword and a bunch of other stuff to work with dragons, when that is not the case.

Long story short, Conway's work seems to consistently come with at least a few caveats, but if you're looking for information on working with dragons, especially in a ritual setting, then Dancing With Dragons could be a good resource.

Tuesday

January 26th, 2016

I've had an almost-unnerving amount of free time after my last few days of class in which to sit and read, so I've been working my way through my new books. The first one I picked up was Moon Magick, which I've seen recommended on a few different Pagan and/or witchcraft channels I watch on YouTube. I'll be honest right off the bat: I did not love this book. My review of it, therefore, may be a bit rant-y. You have been warned.

Title: Moon Magick: Myth & Magic, Crafts & Recipes, Rituals & Spells

Author: D. J. Conway

© 1995

I was first intrigued by this text because it sounded like it should be extremely comprehensive, and the formatting reinforced that impression. Also, the artwork throughout the book is quite beautiful. 

The first chapter examines accounts of the moon's effects on human behavior, while the second examines beliefs relating to the lunar year. From there, the book breaks down every lunar month into its own chapter, and lists a ton of information corresponding to each one.

These chapters begin with a quick breakdown of which lunar goddesses around the world have festivals in that particular month. It follows this with a bit more elaboration on the purposes of these festivals and the deities they are associated with. Each month also has a list of magickal correspondences, including stones, herbs, colors, animals, and etc. Conway provides surviving bits of folklore attributed to that moon, and then several simple recipes to try. Each chapter also has ideas for small crafts, incense or potpourri blends, and summaries of the myths of the relevant goddesses. She even provides sample rituals honoring those deities.

It may sound pretty decent, and I cannot deny that there are parts of this book which were quite good, and which I will use. However - I have a few pretty significant complaints to lodge against this text which prospective readers may want to be aware of. Possibly these are related to the age of the book (it turned 20 last year), but as modern Pagans continue to read books like this, the associated issues continue to persist in our community.

First: this text does a great job further solidifying the gender roles which are often assigned to women in ritual, specifically the idea that women can only relate to moon goddesses (one of the other books I'm reading at the moment is doing a marvelous job at arguing against this premise), that feminine always equates to passive, receptive, and/or negative energy, and that masculine and feminine energies are the only kind which exist. As a woman with several friends and acquaintances who do not subscribe to the gender binary, this strict adherence to the male/female division strikes me as cissexist, especially when one considers that there are many deities who are agender, genderfluid, or otherwise neither specifically male nor female. On a side note, some of her cologne or herb blends are specifically listed as being "for men", because apparently Conway's notion of gender is outdated enough that she thinks men cannot enjoy lighter scents, and that women won't like something spicier or more savory.

Another issue I take with this is that it is at times very Eurocentric. While I have no issue learning more about Artemis, Diana, and Selene, there are moon goddesses all over the world, and I would have liked to learn more about them, especially as this book is making the claim to be a global representation of moon worship. There was little information from Africa or Asia, and virtually none pertaining to North or South America. Not only that, but what information there was about non-European cultures was at times just plain incorrect. I cannot claim to be any kind of expert on mythology, but there were some instances where even as a layman, I could tell that Conway's information was wrong. In one instance, she has a "Japanese friendship branch" craft, which she claims is given for weddings, birthdays, and new homes. In six and a half years of studying Japanese language and culture, I have never heard of anything remotely like this, and google does not turn up any results which remotely resemble what Conway is talking about.

Additionally, I found several instances where the language pertaining to other countries and peoples is objectifying at best, possibly tending towards racist by today's understanding of language. For instance, it strikes me as being inappropriate to take a drink based on Indian recipes and refer to it as "exotic", and I also am not thrilled by her practice of adding cinnamon or sandalwood to an incense and thinking that somehow makes it suddenly "middle eastern". If there are actual historical precedents for any of her blends, she did not list them. She could easily have named them something else without any stereotypical overtones. 

Moreover, I object to Conway just taking traditional practices from existing cultures and re-writing them for Wiccan-flavored rituals. While I do think people should work with the deities that call to them, I think that that should in all cases be done respectfully. Appropriating bits of somebody else's culture and pantomiming their religious practice does not in any way strike me as respectful. 

Of less importance, but still irritating to me, Conway cites herself a couple of times, which from a scholarly perspective is a problem, especially as I don't think any of her other books can be considered especially authoritative in their fields. Not only that, but she also interrupts herself a few times to recommend other Llewellyn products. I can't decide if that was her choice, or something Llewellyn advised her to include, but in either case, I don't need to be marketed to while I'm trying to read.

TL;DR: If you're looking for very general, beginner information about lunar deities, it might be worth skimming through Moon Magick and seeing what appeals to you. However, I would take what Conway says with a grain of salt, as her historical information in this text strikes me as very suspect at times, and her treatment of South and East Asian deities in particular is often exotifying. It's definitely the sort of thing I'd borrow or buy used, rather than paying full price.

Monday

January 25th, 2016

I redecorated my altar on Saturday, getting it at least somewhat set up for Imbolg. I'll probably add some more crystals in February, but for now I quite like it. I'm charging my new tarot cards at the moment, so those are sitting on the left side, and I'm also hoping to work more with dragon energies in the near future, so I have some dragon figures over here now in a place of greater prominence.

The red candle to the right of my Book of Shadows is for a SIPA ritual this weekend; we'll be over at Gaia House again, enjoying Imbolg festivities. Otherwise, I have a lot of the same things out, just moved around so they feel more balanced. It took me a while to figure out, but it feels pretty good.

Tuesday

January 20th, 2016

This was meant to be posted yesterday, but funnily enough, I was reading and forgot. Over the holidays, I received gift cards for Barnes and Noble, and I was able to use them to acquire some books I've been wanting to read for a while now. Three of these are applicable to the contents of this blog, and they all just arrived, so I thought I would share, that you too may experience the joy of new books vicariously through me.


Now, I say "new", but I actually bought all of these used. You can get a lot more bang for your buck that way. I started off with D. J. Conway's Moon Magick, which I've seen several very complimentary reviews of on YouTube. I also picked up a second Conway book, Dancing With Dragons, which has been on my "to read" list for years. I saw it ages ago in a bookstore, thought it looked interesting, and have never been able to get a hold of a copy. 

The last book I picked up was The Sun Goddess, by Sheena McGrath. I had seen a review for a solar goddess book which sounded really informative, but when I went back to look it up, I couldn't find the review anywhere, so I'm not positive this is the same text. Still, it sounded like it had a lot of really interesting content.

I will be reading these as I have time over the semester, and will certainly review them when I've finished!

Monday

January 18th, 2016


I'm back at school for the spring semester, and I decided that since we had today off, I would try reading some books I had yet to get to. I started working my way through Celtic Lore, but it was pretty dense, so I switched over to Zen. It was quite a bit shorter than the other one, but also a lot more informative than I had supposed.

Zen was something I picked up from the Goodwill here in town last fall. I have forayed a little bit into Buddhism, and actually had the opportunity one afternoon to learn some Zen meditation techniques from a monk while I was in Japan. As such, I was interested in learning more about it, and actually found this to be a reasonably comprehensive introduction. 

Title: Zen: An ancient path to enlightenment for modern lives

Author: Peter Oldmeadow

Copyright 2001

Peter Oldmeadow is a Sanskrit lecturer at the University of Sydney, and when this book was published, had over thirty years' experience in Buddhist theory and practice. I found his writing style to be very approachable, and the book clarified what I felt to be several of the more challenging concepts.

The book starts with the history of Buddhism in India, as well as the Buddhist understanding of suffering and how it relates to the Eight-Fold Path. It then segues into the development of different schools of Buddhism, and describes how Zen came about in East Asia. Oldmeadow traces Zen through China, Korea, Vietnam, and Japan, as well as how Zen influenced practices such as calligraphy and the tea ceremony. 

Oldmeadow then discusses some of the primary meditation styles in Zen Buddhism, and how the practice was spread to the Western hemisphere.

When I picked this up, I had been expecting that this would be more of a "how to" kind of a book. What I found is that it's more of a summary of the history of Buddhism, and how and why the Zen tradition developed. While it was not exactly what I was anticipating, it was a very interesting read, and in spite of its length (73 pages), I felt like I learned a lot from it. That being said, it does strike me as being more of an introductory work. If you are already very versed in the history of the spread of Buddhism, this may not tell you much you don't already know. 

In short, if you would like to learn about the basics of Buddhist metaphysics and how Zen Buddhism developed, I would recommend checking out this book. If you're hoping for something more advanced, or strictly covering how to practice any given branch of Buddhism, this may not be quite what you're looking for.

Stare deep into the world before you as if it were
the void: innumerable holy ghosts, bhuddies,
and savior gods there hide, smiling. All the
atoms emitting light inside wavehood, there is
no personal separation of any of it. A Hummingbird
can come into a house and a hawk will not: so rest
and be assured. While looking for the light, you may suddenly be devoured by the darkness
and find the true light.
- Jack Kerouac, 1959

Saturday

January 16th, 2016

So a funny thing happened last night. My mom and I had some friends over for a little party, and during our grab bag game, my mom ended up opening a bag to find an exact duplicate of the incense box I gave as a gift at SIPA's Yule ritual. I ended up "stealing" the box from her (trading her a picture frame I'd unwrapped), and now I don't have to debate with myself over whether it's worth buying myself one!


The universe provides, indeed. I just think it's such a cute little gift set, with very pretty colors. I'm not sure when exactly I'll be able to burn any of it, but maybe over the summer I can try using a bit outside or something.

Friday

January 15th, 2016

I went with my mom to Goodwill today to find some silly things for gag gifts (we're having a bit of a party tonight) but also ended up getting a few other things while we were there.


I need a red taper candle for an upcoming Imbolg ritual, but when we went to Target the other day, they were totally sold out. Party City was also sold out. Apparently, people needed a lot of red candles for their holiday festivities or something. Anyway, Goodwill had one, brand-new and in the plastic, for $0.50, and my mom also stumbled across an owl candle for $0.99.


I thought the owl would be great for my shrine to Athena, so I took it home, and it seems to fit in perfectly.


Shrine to Athena, now +1 candle.