Welcome

Merry Meet, all. Hummingbird, here. 20-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(

Sunday

Book Review: Feng Shui

Title: Feng Shui: Harmony by Design

Author: Nancy SantoPietro

©1996

It's funny - this will be the third time now that I've written up a report on this book. For my Architecture History class, we were asked to make a poster and presentation about a book, and since I was already in the midst of reading this one, I decided to do my project on it. It's actually giving me a really interesting opportunity, as for the presentation component, part of my project will include talking about ways in which I have used feng shui principles in the design of my room at home. However, I wanted to do a post about it specifically for this blog, seeing as my readership here is likely more metaphysically-inclined than my classroom peers.

The short version: this is a great book. 

The long version: Nancy SantoPietro is one of only a few women in the US trained and authorized to practice feng shui professionally. Her book is forwarded by Professor Lin Yun, the founder of the Black Sect of Tantric Buddhism, and under whom she studied. Known internationally for her work, and former Chairperson of the first feng shui studies department in the country, SantoPietro is one of the foremost western experts and practitioners.

Yun's forward begins by describing a little of his sect of Buddhism, how it intersects with feng shui, and his experiences working with SantoPietro. This transitions into SantoPietro's introduction, which summarizes some of feng shui's history and its place in the modern world.

The first chapter covers the basics: fundamental principles and theories, how to quickly and easily sketch a floor plan of a building, and how to apply the bagua chart to that drawing. She also describes how to begin analyzing the relationship between floor plan and chart.

Chapter two starts getting into intentions, and how to narrow down one's focus in what changes to make. It also summarizes general categories of the kinds of things to look out for and consider altering.

Chapter three takes the reader through the nitty-gritty of designing the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen, some of the most important spaces in the home. SantoPietro explains the impact that each of these has on one's life, and where design decisions can have a significant impact on one's health, wealth, and relationships.


The fourth chapter takes the reader through other spaces (the home office, dining room, living room, etc.) and offers low-cost but high-impact solutions for the problems that can occur there. These principles are really ones which can be applied in any space to produce significant results.

Chapter five covers the role of color, and six describes specific obstacles one might be facing, and where to look in one's home for design issues that could be compounding those obstacles. It also covers transcendental cures, which are in essence rituals written in a feng shui-specific context, but which incorporate elements like mantras, meditations, sympathetic magick, and other elements which western Pagans are likely already somewhat familiar with. 

The seventh chapter deals with sacred space - what it is, why we need it, and how to go about designating a truly sacred space in the home. SantoPietro goes into detail about altars, both religious and secular, and provides lists of correspondences for crystals and essential oils. 

Finally, the eighth chapter gives real examples of situations which SantoPietro's clients have faced, how SantoPietro advised them to adjust their living spaces, and the end results. This was less of an anecdotal advertisement for her work, and more of a step-by-step example about what it actually can look like to analyze a living space and change it, and thereby also change one's life. Her example stories cover a wide variety of living situations and types of people, so chances are good that there are relatable elements one can pick up on.

I will be up-front: I do not agree 100% with every single piece of advice in SantoPietro's book. There are things as an individual and as a designer-to-be which I would do differently. However, with that being said, this is an excellent manual on feng shui; it is extremely comprehensive while still being easy to follow, and there are lots of diagrams to visually illustrate the types of changes the author refers to. In general, she does a very good job of explaining the thought behind a feng shui principle, rather than just providing rules with no context, and it is clear that she is very well-versed in her practice. 

Whether you are just getting into feng shui or are already familiar with the subject, this text is a great resource. If you have any interest in using feng shui at all, definitely consider giving this book a look.

April 24th, 2016

Had a busy but good day today, part of which involved heading over to the Gaia House for a few hours, to enjoy a reception for the artists who have work in the Pagan art exhibit which has been on display there this month. We enjoyed coffee, lemonade, and an assortment of little snacks, and generally were able just to hang out and chat.


My painting, with description, that I've had hanging up.


A collection of paintings, all by one lovely individual.


A series of nature photography, all by another artist.


Triple Goddess painting by one of our more Norse-inclined practitioners.



These two photos, by SIPA director Tara, have a rather interesting story. They were taken on vacation while visiting a haunted potter's field of unnamed soldiers. Apparently, just after these were taken (on actual film, not digitally), it started to storm, so obviously there was not enough sunlight to cause lens flare (the white patches on the photos are just glare on the glossy paper; the orange is actually present). Also, these were the only two photos on the whole strip of film with these strange colors, so it couldn't have been water damage. As such, Tara's thought is that she caught some spirits on camera. The one in the top photo actually even looks humanoid.


Me with my painting.


Hand-made grimoire.


Set of runes.


And just for good measure, this is the spiral garden I helped build last spring. As you can see, the plants are pretty well-established now. The sage and kale really took over, so that's pretty much what's growing at this point.

Friday

Native Plant Giveaway

In other news, I had an exciting opportunity today to get some plants. A group on campus was giving away cuttings and seedlings of native species to help support pollinator populations, and I picked a few up!


On the left are two Purple Coneflower (Echinacea pallida) seedlings, which produce flowers that bees love. They also have a long history of medicinal uses, which can be traced back to First Nations people from this part of the country. On the right is a little prickly pear, which apparently is another native species - I had no idea we had cacti here, but apparently this is part of their range! When I go back home, the Coneflower will go in the garden. The cactus will probably go in a pot, because I'm fairly sure our winters will be too cold for it. Hopefully I can keep them alive for the last three weeks of the semester until I can transfer them out of their little plastic containers.



Also excitingly, my plant biology professor brought in some fossil specimens she and her students had collected at an old coal mine yesterday. These came from the carboniferous forests which were part of this landscape 300 million years ago, and some of them are so well-preserved as to actually still have plant tissue in them. Apparently, they had collected so many fossils that my professor let us keep some of her examples if we wanted. The large fossil in the bottom image has now been added to my collection. I really want to go rock-hunting around here sometime!

April 22nd, 2016

The school year is finally winding down, but it seems I have as much to do as ever. This month has been particularly action-packed, as we finally got into the build phase of the project we began back in February. It took us four and a half days spread over a couple of weeks, but we finished it, and it looks great. It'll be a really functional piece of work for the environmental center's programs


When we first arrived for our last build day on Tuesday, we found this dragonfly nymph exoskeleton on the trim of our deck. In the words of our professor, our project has already started breeding life. Personally, I took it as a good omen, and things continued to go well as we finished things up.


Here we are adding some finishing touches...


Our final product; we built a deck, two tables, and a net rack for a macro-invertebrate dipping station. Originally, there was also meant to be a kiosk for signage, but as we discovered, there are a lot of subterranean rocks on our site, which meant that that piece could not be built at this time. However, the center has our drafted plans and materials, so if they later on feel like relocating that component to a different area and building it, they can do so.


Our deck, from a different angle.


We saw this lovely (and large!) snake on Tuesday, plus a water snake I couldn't get a picture of.


Later that day, I found this little guy sitting on a campus sidewalk - they were only an inch or two across!

Sunday

March 27th, 2016

I got to do some painting today! After being up past 3:00 this morning finishing up a project (better to be up late on a weekend than during the week, in my opinion), I've been able to spend most of my afternoon just relaxing and working on a piece I've been wanting to do for some time now.

I thought I had posted pictures of a picture frame I painted over the summer in offering to Athena, but I can't seem to find that post now. In any case, I had painted the frame, but at the time, had no picture to put in it. I was planning to draw something the following day, but life got in the way as it has a tendency to do. When I was home for spring break last week, I picked up that frame and brought it back to school so I could finally make something to put in it, and I had the opportunity today.


This is my painting of Lady Athena, and it isn't very big (5x7, I think?), so it only took a few hours, but I really liked how it turned out. It's not easy to tell in this picture, but some of the gold on Her armor is metallic paint. The whole painting is my own design, done in acrylics on chip board.


And here it is in the frame. I didn't consciously intend it, but it rather looks as though the feathers around Athena are floating down from the owl above Her. 

Tuesday

March 22nd, 2016

A happy belated Equinox to everybody! I got to spend Ostara riding the train back to my school and working on homework, neither of which I was really all that interested in doing, but oh well. I found some books on Feng Shui in my department's architecture library, so I started to read through one of them - if and when I have time to finish it, I'll be sure to let you know what I thought!

In the meantime, enjoy what we have so far of spring. It's pretty chilly here still, but a lot of the trees are starting to bloom. I'll hopefully be taking some pictures soon to share.


Thursday

The Sun Goddess

Today I finally finished reading The Sun Goddess, a book I started at the beginning of the semester. I would just like to say straight off the bat that this was an excellent book, and I would highly recommend it.

I came across the text after watching The Pagan Scholar on YouTube. The fellow who runs the channel, Travis, is an academic who reads and reviews scholarly works on contemporary Paganism. He had reviewed a title called Eclipse of the Sun, a book on sun goddesses, and I was really interested in reading it. However, when I went to order some books with a giftcard, I couldn't remember the title, nor could I find the video he talked about it in (I now know it was "Ouch, My Paradigm"). I ended up looking at other books on sun goddesses instead, and decided that this one looked promising. I ordered it, and am nothing less than pleased with it as a scholarly examination of the sun goddess narrative.

Title: The Sun Goddess: Myth, Legend and History

Author: Sheena McGrath

© 1997

Sheena McGrath is a practicing Pagan now living in California. She has been involved in groups in England and Canada, and has her degree in medieval studies.

McGrath's book opens with a proposition: that modern Pagans (and non-Pagan scholars, for that matter) who automatically associate the goddess with the moon and the god with the sun are looking at mythology too one-dimensionally. She proposes instead that the majority of pre-Christian Indo-European religions worshiped a sun goddess, with a corresponding moon god. She then goes on to prove this thesis with evidence from a plethora of Indo-European cultures, citing language, migration patterns, iconography, and surviving verses and folklore; she makes a compelling argument suggesting that, historically, the Greeks and Romans were really the odd ones out in terms of assigning gender to the luminaries. 

McGrath begins by introducing the reader to the Indo-Europeans, describing how and where they lived, how language patterns (and in particular, gendered language regarding the sun and moon) changed, and why she chose to compare their mythologies. Namely, Indo-Europeans prior to Christianization had a mythological cycle which was identifiably similar across political, cultural, and ethnic boundaries.

She then launches immediately into describing known sun goddesses from across Western Europe, talking about what we know of their worship, the symbols they used, and what remains of their stories. McGrath starts with Sól in Germany, then moves to Sunna in England,  and continues with Freya in Scandinavia, St. Lucia in Sweden, and Œstre of the Saxons.

Next, she looks at Eastern Europe, beginning with the Baltic Saule. She talks at length here about the myth cycle, comparing it to trends in other regions, and in particular examining the frequent pattern of a moon god who seduces the sun goddess' daughter, the sun maiden, as well as twin sons of the sky god who are to be the sun maiden's husband(s). McGrath examines some known sun maidens, and includes in her list Auszrine. She also describes the horse and the swans as being significant examples of sun goddess imagery.

The following section traces sun goddesses in Slavic mythology, looking at Solntse, who between Her and Her sun maiden daughter also fulfill a role in the cult of the dead. McGrath further describes Slavic goddesses of the solstices, a mysterious solar goddess frequently depicted on traditional wedding embroidery, and how even in the Catholic church, the Virgin Mary has come to have solar aspects in Russia.

Then McGrath moves to the Celts, pointing out Grian and Graínne, as well as goddesses of hot springs like Sul, and fire goddesses like Brigit. The Celts also worshiped a series of horse goddesses, and McGrath reiterates her position that equine goddesses usually have a solar aspect. These include Áine and Macha. 

She also covers Arinitti and Nikkal of the Hittites, Arevhat of the Armenians, and Mtsekale of the Georgians.

While McGrath does acknowledge that the Greeks do not generally support her proposal (and indeed, notes that part of the reason for the dominance of the moon goddess, sun god narrative is a fierce historical obsession with neo-classicism), she does point out that it's not all so cut-and-dried as Helios or Apollo as the sun god with Selene or Artemis as the lunar goddess. McGrath brings up references to a female Helia, as well as the the strong solar imagery associated with Pasïphae (who mated with the very lunar bull in the story of the labyrinth). Other Greek women associated with the sun include Circe, Medea, the Hesperides, Eos, and even Helen of Troy.

Then the text moves on to India, where the sun god, Surya, has an aspect, Savitar, which is sometimes addressed as female. There is also his horse goddess wife, and a daughter, Suryaa, a sun maiden who marries twins, as in other Indo-European mythologies. Then there is Tantra, a fire goddess, and Ushas, goddess of dawn.

The next few chapters restate much of what has been said already, but categorizes information differently so that if one were looking for a specific piece of information, it would be easier to locate. One chapter discusses the relationship between solar goddesses and mazes, while others discuss the moon, sky, and thunder gods.

The final sections of the book switch from scholarly research to application, a pleasant surprise for me, as I had not expected this book to contain any information on ritual. McGrath provides a very simple ritual structure, and then offers several guided meditations and rituals by which to honor various sun goddesses and moon gods. 

Whew. If that seemed like a long summary, it's because it was. This is not an especially thick book (177 pages, not counting appendices or the bibliography), but it is dense. There is a ton of information here to read through, all of it very completely researched. If I had one criticism of the book, it would be that the organization of chapters felt, at times, a little arbitrary, but that is a small, small complaint. The book is fully cited from other reputable researchers (including references to Eclipse of the Sun, which makes me chuckle), and I learned an incredible amount about goddesses I had never even heard of before. 

Not only that, but this issue of assigning gender to the sun and moon (which in and of itself I feel is a fairly unnecessary practice, but that's a topic for another time) is a fairly important one, because when we as a community get into this practice of automatically pairing the moon with women and the sun with men, we start leaving the door open for stereotyping and misogyny. 

Why? Because it's never really just that we pair women and the moon, is it? We pair women with all of the other metaphysical associations we have with the moon, namely passivity and receptivity. Meanwhile, men get paired exclusively with the active, sending energy of the sun. This type of binary thinking isn't beneficial to anyone of any gender, because no person exhibits one sole type of behavior all the time, and to suggest otherwise is ultimately limiting. 

Therefore, for that and other reasons, I feel that books like this are really critical for breaking the paradigm in contemporary Paganism, and coming to realize that mythology is complex, and that no one single narrative will ever fit every culture, nor should it, and nor should we try to make up or twist facts to suit a limited world view. 

9.5/10, absolutely read through this if you have the chance.

March 17th, 2016

Happy St. Patrick's Day! A lot of my spring break so far has been consumed by homework, and a lot of the rest consumed by cleaning. We're getting new carpet tomorrow, and we've had to take everything off of our shelves and other pieces of furniture, getting them out of the way for the carpet install. Most of our possessions are currently occupying the garage, and my things in particular are stacked up in the computer room, which has laminate wood flooring.

Since we were taking everything out and cleaning anyway, I figured this was a good time to do some heavy-duty space clearing. I started off doing all the physical work - vacuuming thoroughly, dusting everything off, moving furniture that hasn't been moved in 10 years to clean behind it, etc. I finished that up today, and then decided I was going to open the windows, play some music off my Pagan playlist, and use a shaker of mine to break up stagnant or negative energy.

Well, things were going great, my room was cleared, I was jamming with my shaker, and I had just finished driving all that unwanted energy to the front door to banish it outside, when my shaker broke in half and spilled plastic beads all over the floor. Apparently, the effort of space clearing was too much for the cheap glue holding it together. I swept up, finished chasing the stagnant stuff out the door with the broom, and then decided I was going to fix my little instrument.

I replaced the plastic beads with barley (for Athena) and short grain Japanese rice (for Amaterasu), and hot glued it back together. I think it actually sounds better now.


I finished up by using a bell to invoke positive energy, and not leave a void in my room. I'll have to go around after the new carpet is in to really build in some protective enchantments and whatnot.

Monday

February 29th, 2016

Happy Leap Day, everyone! It's a beautiful, sunny day today (although it looks like we'll be starting March off with storms), and my friend brought these lovely little flowers she found to class this afternoon. Aren't they cute?


Saturday

February 27th, 2016

It was a beautiful day today. I spent the morning volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, and it quickly warmed up from 35⁰ to a lovely 60⁰. I'm feeling a really strong push to start delving more deeply into Shinto mythology, as I want to more closely approach Amaterasu Ōmikami, but I also don't know where to start. I may see if I can find any good websites to get a jumping-off point for more reading.