Prosperity, Solidarity, Community
Tag Archives: tiny delights
planning a spiritual calendar using non-linear time, soft deadlines and small bites
so what does recording and journalling and planning have to do with fiber arts and ritual tools? well, a lot actually. there are a lot of benefits to keeping a spiritual calendar as well as personal and project oriented ones. but my brain is wired in a way that makes sticking to those calenders after i’ve made them a bit difficult.
my brain gets the happy reward juice from writing things down, so i need to break up the big tasks into small ones in order to not feel like an entire year of projects has been completed when i have only just planned them. therefore, in order to actually finish things, i have a three pronged approach. non-linear, soft deadlines and small bites.
non linear starts with what i call the amorphous cloud. i make a general list of all the ideas i want to touch on during the next 5 years and then break that down into Past, Present and Future bubbles. i used to do the mind mapping technique, but now i just draw boxes and fill a sheet of paper until i need to break out.
giving myself the freedom to switch things around as my health, interest and resources wax and wane has helped immeasurably in sticking to my plans then adjusting as needed so that i finish things in a relatively good time. but also, realizing that not everything is going to be fast and efficient is just as important. slow fashion and slow crafting is a deep and integral part of ritual tools. like i said at the beginning of the year, time is an important material in ritual items and some of those tools take months to years to complete and i have to not only be ok with that, but plan for that. and that is where my journals come in.
i use 3 ring binders that i make art out of to keep my planner stuff in. making the binder is the first task and i usually start a few of them at a time when i need new binders. having more than one in progress means that i have choices for different uses, but also i’m thinking to my future needs and creating a base of extra materials to continue when i reach that point.
if i need 1 binder because my current one is getting full, i’ll decorate 3 and put aside 2 more with the materials to finish them because who knows how easy it will be to find those materials in 5 or 10 years? so that is one project that will take me approximately 1-3 months that will last me for 5-10 years. not too shabby! the trick is to plan that binder decorating project *before* i need them. like, a year or two before i need them. that type of task goes into the “Future” section of my planner.
the Present section is for immediate project pieces that i have deadlines for. where i put those in my calendar depends on whether they are soft deadlines for myself or hard deadlines for other people. hard deadlines are in Google Calendar and have a small page in the planner and either a large section in my ongoing project binder or it’s own binder/folder depending on the project or tool being created.
and in true non-linear thinking, the Past section is for UFO’s (unfinished objects), items that are long term in their creation, items that are complete and projects that are still in the brainstorming mode, but far enough along to be more than just an idea.
there are a lot of ideas that i recycle and reuse over the years. i keep lists of shower thoughts and brainstorming results in a creative compost heap called the Idea Bank. and just like a bank, once or twice a year i’ll go through those ideas and sort them into past/present/future projects to think about adding or improving on in the next year or so.when i withdraw an idea, i try to deposit a few to keep it balanced. i have a surprisingly small amount of ideas in the IB right now because this past year i sorted and consolidated all of my journals as my new year resolution, but what i have left is growing a nice crop of offshoots and making a great seedbed for the next couple decades.
i think the most important part of this system other than the fact that it works for me is taking small bites. each step is it’s own project and i keep track of it and plan for it as if it were a project itself. that gives me a lot of joy in finishing things and being able to make things in batches as well as prep multiple projects without losing steam. i am a sprinter running a marathon, haha. running one mile a day still gets you to 30 in a month and my knees appreciate it.
this also includes my spiritual calendar. my People and my personality are not bound to the corporate grind. my calendar is centered around the growing seasons of my area because i garden and tend the land i live on as a part of that bio system. when i am out of sync with the seasons, i am anxious and depressed, so to support emotional and mental health and be able to do what my Gods and Allies ask of me, i do my best to track the seasons and create my spiritual calendar of service, festivals and offerings accordingly.
microclimates are interesting in that my seasons can be different than a friend’s who lives a couple towns over. my celebrations are of the first blush of henbit i see greening up in my yard, the first baby rabbit dashing across my driveway, the first thunderstorm of the year where i rinse and bless my skeins of yarn spun during the winter, the first frost sparkling in the grass and the dry spiky brown seed heads of the zinnias i collect in fall. these are some of the things i look for locally and, add to that the astroweather, and i have a pretty full calendar.
which brings me to non-linear calendar records. a lot of my spiritual calendar is written after the fact. my calendar at the beginning of the year is pretty sparse! it’s filled with big projects that have been broken down into smaller ones, and the moon signs and a smattering of birthdays, big astroweather things if i remember them, a personal ephemeris of dates of things to watch out for and an unanchored list of things to do each season. and then i fill those things in as they happen.
there is no point to me of planning things to the minute. that just makes me stressed and doesn’t leave open any room for joy. my life is so simple that as long as i hit the high points each season, i have plenty of room for new experiences and soft deadlines. i prefer to read back over my previous records and then do divination at the appropriate moon phase to plan my month as i go and record how things went after the fact. putting *is* before *should*.
should is full of so many possibilities that i get swamped with decision fatigue and end up defaulting to nothing. is is what i am holding and doing and experiencing *now*. is is my truth, should is my guilt. and i have no room for guilt in my life. “would have beens” and “could have beens” are fodder for the compost of my idea bank and fun stories to think about when i’m throwing out ideas to add to my binder, but until they become *is*, they are just that, idea fodder.
so february is over and i have finished the small bites of beginning the Now projects for the year and planned out my binder for my garden and given myself a lot of fun ideas to keep me running on creative juice during what is looking like a difficult summer this year. my Google Calendar is a bit more full than i prefer and my UFO’s list is dwindling, so it’s time to add more to my Future list and stay on target as much as i comfortably can, but be compassionate to my future self if she struggles with this globally stressful year and prepare to support my friends, family and community as well.
plans are made for breaking and records in uncertain times are a lifeline to those who keep them. so in march i’ll be looking forward to taking a walk every day or so while checking in on my perennials friends to see who survived the winter and leaving treats for the neighborhood cats. and maybe finishing my forever surprise jacket so i can wear it? i only have the cuffs and the binding left and that is only 2 small bites!
sigil pages, hypersigils and emotional intents.
i am a big fan of doing things out of order. of embracing the non-linear and the liminal in my life and work. of layering meaning onto snippets of conversation written down years before and evolving them into new things, artistic recycling as it were. following the cycle of life to death to life in a new form.
this post is going to be a little different from the previous ones in that i’m going to concentrate on a single page of my journal that has been evolving for the past 5 or so years.
i first heard of hypersigils in reference to comic books. essentially, they are a group of sigils that add time as an element. a piece of magick created with the intent to constantly build and move thru time. it tells a story and uses emotions and repetition to rewrite things as they are now, into the future that you would like to see.
in the format that i first encountered them, there were characters, a plot, odd and strange happenings and an emotional core that pulled everything together and drew the reader in to engage with the story and the sigil itself.
and this is good! but i do things a little bit differently. as long as i’ve been doing art and magick, i’ve unintentionally used my nonlinear journals as both records and hypersigils in a lot of ways, and a couple years ago i set out to intentionally create a hypersigil art journal.
i love junk journals. i love mood boards. i love collage. i love things that are inspirational and spark ideas and provoke deep emotional memories and thoughts. when i was a kid, i would spend hours cutting out colorful and interesting magazine pages and taping them up on my walls in huge complicated collages that would both tell a story and take me on an emotional color journey when i was laying in my bed. (and also created a huge pain in the butt when i had to take all that tape off the walls. oops. live and learn!)
i also love sigil magick. i love all the different ways to create them and the different tech and purposes and histories of sigils and talismans. sigils work for me and i draw them a lot, which means if i am not destroying them, i need a place to keep the shoeboxes and envelopes of scraps of paper i’ve created and kept for potentiality ephemera over the years.
i use some of them in my dirt jars and other spells, but the pretty ones and the long plan ones needed a journal. specifically, a junk journal where i can collage and alter and change the narrative as i see fit. each page would be a planned sigil to help ease the transition of moving to a new house and settling in after a long illness and bring health to recover from that illness, and so far it’s been doing brilliantly!
junk journals mean that i can take a 50 cent composition book, glue the pages together to create a set number of primed and ready surfaces and then create to my heart’s delight with the bonus that there is no such thing as perfection. the work is ongoing and mistakes are just invitations for future innovation.
when i make a sigil, i don’t spend too much time on the statement of intent, as controversial as that might sound. the words don’t actually mean much, they are more importantly a focal point for your emotions. the emotions that the sigil makes you feel are the important parts to me. my intents are usually pretty straight forward. “calm’ “safety” “my bill is paid” “health and healing” i make sigils for my Gods and Allies and use those in devotions and offerings.
the words are the spark, but the emotions guide my hand. i’ll take the words and spin them into a story, creating a deep connection to the future that i want to see, the knot that needs to be untangled, the the problem that needs to be solved. and i weave those into the wider narrative of the page where i am adding that sigil.
the photos in today’s post are mostly of an unfinished sigil page. a page that has the intention of welcome and hard work and getting things done in the timeframe that i have given them. i’m sharing this page because not only is it unfinished, but i’ve intentionally designed it as a page to be for public display, unlike most of the other pages. i like being able to share my art and works in progress, but some of those spreads are too personal to me to just post them on the internet, lol.
it’s a good page! there are conversations going on there. i’ve slowly been adding and building it up since the middle of 2019, but the paper and sigils so far were created a longer time ago and taken from my ephemera box for a new life, and i’m adding that time into the spell.
unlike a lot of sigil makers, i do keep track of the gist of what each one means and i infrequently completely destroy them. i like knowing that there is a relationship formed with each spell and that i can trace my path to where i began to where i am going and tweak things as i go along. refine the process and boost some areas, finish others and let them go, but respectfully and thanking them for their service.
and just like reading cards or runes for divination, there are conversations that happen when i use sigils in collage. they are alive and real and active not only in conversation with me, but with each other. pasting certain pieces together create stronger bonds and boost older spells that would have been weaker alone. adding new intentions and emotions to old and ongoing sigils adds a new thread that connects it to both it’s beginnings and tweaks it’s destination for my current reality. coloring a black and white drawing gives subtle emotional nuance to the outcome.
there are so many ways to enhance and expand on this concept! i love keri smith’s book, wreck this journal so much i’ve bought it 3 times now and used each one to expand my anti-perfectionistic, nonlinear creativity. it’s such a fun concept and i’ve brought a lot of that into my hypersigil journals.
adding sticks and dirt and coffee and candy wrappers and tearing and folding pages, removing some pages and adding others, burning the edges, writing out elaborate dreams and rewriting my past to incorporate the feelings that i want to embrace in my future is the way my brain works.
this is not a diary or a book of days, this is a well used travel planner and passport that shows it’s wear and tear and soup spills and coffee rings, but also gossamer dreams and energetic motivation to solve life’s problems and create a better life and a healthier mental place to be in.
i’m not asking to win the lottery, buy a yacht and date a hot person. that’s really not me. when i flip thru my sigil pages, i feel calm and excitement and joy and the fresh smell of turned earth in springtime when the weeds are germinating and i am full of anticipation and plans for the year. it’s exciting and fresh and new and gives me tiny delights to add more and evolve those pages further. take those accidental spills and tears and turn them into fantastic stories for my future self to be inspired by and continue the conversation.
divination chat journal – having tea and conversations with my Allies
i’m moved! it took me a couple weeks, but i’m finally moved down into the basement and i’m working on setting up my area workspace as well as settling into my new bedroom. i’m really happy with how things have worked out so far!
one of the first things i did once i had my furniture set up and my bed made was set up my journal shelf. my room doesn’t feel like home until i’ve got my journals available. 😅
so in celebration of having my writing and art desk set up again, i’m going to talk about my divination chat journal! since this is my second post this week in order to get back on schedule, it’ll be a bit shorter than usual. here is a technique that i use to communicate with my People.
i started chatting with my spirit Allies and my People thru keeping a divination journal a few years ago. i had tried keeping a tarot diary where i recorded my daily card pulls and various important readings i did for myself off and on for several years but i never really used that information. like, it was good in the moment and for looking back on a few months later when i did follow ups, but i usually just ended up burning those journals at the end of the year (or tearing out the few pages i used before giving up and then starting over)
then one day as i was recording a clarification reading, i decided to do things a little more realtime. instead of asking the cards for advice on a situation and then writing a journal entry about what i thought it meant, i asked a specific question and then pulled a card as the answer like i was chatting with a friend.
it was illuminating and just what i needed at that time. i shuffled the cards once between each question and treated them like a conversation. i wish i had written down that first reading, but it took me a few more months before i started recording these divination chats on scraps of paper and in old notebooks and finally graduated to a big green binder.
i currently only have one journal that i keep divination chats in. i use multiple modalities for various parts of the conversation and i have gotten to know the cards/runes/dice/bones a lot better because of the casual nature of these readings.
how it works is generally like this:
i wash my hands, light a tealight and pour a cup of tea.
then i draw a line down the center of my page and on one side is my part of the conversation and the other side is where i record the answers and the other part of the conversation. i use a question and answer format to get started, but a lot of the time, things will naturally flow into a dialogue.
“hello! how’s it going? is anyone up for a chat today?”
at first when i started writing things down, everything seemed like gibberish and i was super self conscious. it took me a several tries to figure out what worked, what the ritual surrounding the conversation looked like depending on who i was chatting with, how detailed and urgent my questions were, or if it was a casual visit or a formal request for help.
i talk about a lot of things. i ask about ritual tools, about upcoming events in my mundane life, about discernment and tasks and things that are asked of me, things that i’ve been researching and wondering a lot about, things that i am curious about. but i also just… chat. i’m talking with old friends and ancestors and my Gods and Allies who have been with me for most of my life. this is a comfortable and lovely ritual.
sometimes i’ll sit down and read back in my journal and catch things that i had missed at the time of writing and continue that conversation in the spaces i leave around my readings. tying those conversations together thru time gives a lot of nuance that can be missed if i just assume that my first impression was the only interpretation. it’s always amazing to me how much becomes clearer over time and how much can be contained in simple dialogue.
over time, my runes have become the messengers of planning and events and opinions on how things are, tarot is a more colorful dialogue that answers why and how and what and where, and i have yes/no dice to clear up any misunderstandings. and then my rosebones are for talking with my Sisters.
i really love how versatile this system is and how i can create an elaborate ritual around an important topic or simply pour a cup of tea and roll the dice to see if anyone is around to have a conversation.
i think eventually i’ll create separate journals for different Allies i chat with, but for now having tabs in my sketchbook is working ok.
and finally, keeping my divination journals up to date gives me a pattern to use for discernment and helps me to plan my spiritual calendar for the season/year with the help of my Allies and keeps the lines of communication open.
consent is very important to me and i want to know if everything is above board with things that i am planning and tasks that i have been given to do. being transparent and honest with the People who i trust most is my main goal in most endeavors.
and then sometimes, it’s just nice to catch up and chat with someone i love and share a cup of tea.
big actions are colonies of small ones, finding the magick of tiny delights in the mundane
this weekend and possibly thru next week, i am moving to live downstairs in my house. it’s a good thing! i am excited about the extra space and the huge stone fireplace hearth in the den that i’ll have access to and a bedroom with a lot more sunlight available for myself and my houseplants.
but it’s a very big project. it’s honestly overwhelming to think about, so i’m breaking it down into smaller, more manageable tasks that give me happy rewards as i complete them, rather than slogging thru one giant task until the end where the results may very well be anticlimactic and depressing because then i’ll have to begin the even harder task of putting everything away.
so instead, i’m planning small things. there is no denouement in this method, but in exchange i get a constant stream of self confident rewards that continue past my goal of moving all of my furniture and goods downstairs, into putting them away and picking up where i left off and adapting my routines to my new situation. it makes a much better transition.
honestly, 15 years ago, this would have been an alien concept for me. my motivations were fear and self made crisis and impending burn-out. it’s taken me a lot of therapy and self care and self knowledge to reach this point where i can motivate myself thru tiny delights and routines and play rather than browbeating myself into complying with my goals. it’s taken a lot of time to learn to love myself and care for myself as much as i care for other people, my house and my family.
as an eldest daughter with 5 siblings and parents who had mental health issues, i have an overactive sense of responsibility and learning to allow play and fun and soft deadlines and non-judgemental mindfulness in my day has been a long and arduous journey. but once i realized that i can love myself *and* love my house and everything in it that cares for me, housekeeping became an act of love rather than a chore.
granted, this was a years long process and i am still learning and solving problems every day, but i think this week i’m going to talk about how big things are just colonies of small things and how the mundane is magickal.
we as pagans (at least in my tiny corner of the internet) talk alot about being in right relationship and community with the Land and with our house spirits and i’ve talked a lot about my personal spirit ecosystems and how my mundane and everyday interactions are vital parts of a healthy practice. how giving back to the Land every day and expressing gratitude in actions as well as in speech is important to me.
i think that looking at that as a monolith of expectations and responsibility is overwhelming and insurmountable, tho. the amount of work to daily and constantly being aware of your surroundings and of the ways that you are impacting the seldom seen denizens of your house and community is a lot and seeing how everything touches everything else in a web of community that you are not the lord of, you are a member within that web, is very off putting to a lot of people.
and this is even before we add in the other humans and pets and plants and critters and mites and molds and other physical bits that live in our houses. it’s really overwhelming to think about holding responsibility for *everything* that goes on. how do we control such chaos?
the answer is we don’t. we can’t control others, we can only be responsible for ourselves.
one of the biggest issues i’ve had in therapy over the years is my need to control my environment to feel safe. but what if i changed my view of the world and saw myself as one of the many inhabitants of my house rather than the boss? what if i found my own space and gave myself my own appropriate responsibilities that gave me a place in this tiny ecosystem and broke down all of those tasks into things that gave me joy?
like i said earlier, i am the eldest of 6. and i grew up in many places. my family was always on the move and i gained my sense of safety by trying to control my environment. i chose to wash the dishes 3 times a day because i was the “only one who actually got them clean” this also applied to laundry and babysitting and vacuuming and packing when it came time to move house yet again. it got extremely overwhelming and i frequently would burn out and blame myself for the resulting mess.
so i came into this worldview with a lot of baggage. when i moved away from my family for the first time, i was so accustomed to doing other people’s work, that i was unable to care for myself. i could *not* figure out how to care for myself, my house and my girlfriend without burning out. it took years of struggle to realize that my house will take care of itself if i take care of me. and taking care of me and learning to love me was the hardest thing i’ve ever learned.
my house was built in 1900. it was literally a little house on the prairie. the original part of the house is now my kitchen and the two bathrooms that open off of it. i’m told originally there was an outhouse and the rooms that are now largish bathrooms were bedrooms and later on down the line what is now the parlor was built and a big ancient woodstove installed to keep the house warm in the windy winters. there is no central heating, this house is heated with wood and a few strategic space heaters. 3 additions and 122 years later, this is an 1000 square foot house with 4 small bedrooms, 2 of which are in the finished basement with huge bright egress windows.
all of the plumbing is located in the original part of the house and this past spring the 70+ year old sewer pipes had to be dug up and replaced. it was a huge and dirty job and was disruptive to my routine and traumatic for the house. i spent a lot of time giving offerings and comfort and talking to the house during that week and it took all summer before things settled down and the house felt more like itself.
breaking that down, my house has a spirit of it’s own. it is old and crotchety and opinionated, but also solid and steadfast and loving and warm. when i walk in the front door, it’s like getting a hug. i love my house and my house loves me. as anxious and stressed as my family makes me, my house is there to soothe and protect me and i wanted to be there to soothe and protect the house as it was healing from a big, necessary surgery.
but just like humans who are made of colonies of bacteria and cells, my house is made up of many other beings. there are the mice and snakes and cobweb spiders and ants that are endemic to rural life. bats in the attic, millepedes that creep up from the crawlspace under the kitchen, hunting spiders in the basement that eat the millipedes, lol. but also each room has a function and a place in the web of community as well as it’s own microcosm of housespirits. and each of those rooms are happiest when they are able to do the things that they do best.
i have tiny altars everywhere where i leave offerings to the wights and the housespirits. i give cinnamon sticks, cedar leaves from the trees out in the windbreak and lavender buds to the woodstove about once a week when i light it and ask that it keep my family warm, but not *too* warm. cozy and safe when the wind howls outside. i take the kitchen scraps to the compost bins and offer them to the spirits of rot and decay that create life in death. and the beasties that feed on it. i offer to the Land and the wights and the critters that live here just like i do. the squirrels and barn cats and birds and bugs and the whole physical web of community living hand in hand with the spirits and plants and trees and wind and all of the seen and unseen things.
breaking things down further, are offerings of service. a couple years ago, i took upon myself that the dishes and keeping the kitchen clean every night was my responsibility, so i offer water and maintenance to the kitchen sink. i spend so much time there every day that it is really the heart of my home as well as being the oldest part of the house. i have had such a hard time keeping up with dishes over the years, that i just decided that i was going to make it a part of loving my house. it started as a chore, for sure. i grumbled and forgot and bitched and complained, but every day for a year, i loaded the dishwasher and wiped down the counters right before i went to bed, even if that was at 3am.
i found ways to be more efficient and reduced 2 loads of dishes a day (for a family of 6, that’s not bad!) to one load a day (even better!) and i bought fancy dishwasher pods to offer to the dishwasher. i called the maintenance guy when things didn’t seem right and got it repaired and working like a charm. and i started really enjoying the process of putting the dishes into there in a regular pattern. it was almost as soothing as playing tetris. it was giving me tiny delights.
the act of placing all the bowls in a row and rinsing off the plates and putting all the forks in one place and all the spoons in another gives me a little shot of reward juice now, which was unthinkable when i started. doing this act of service for my house has also benefited me.
two years after that decision, i am still washing the dishes every night and i still occasionally say, ugh! i have to wash the dishes! but it’s such a small and easy part of my day now, that i’ve added wiping out the sink, offering the leftovers to the garbage disposal and getting joy out of cleaning that with a lemon and some ice cubes and vacuuming and mopping once a week. little actions that i can find satisfaction and tiny delights in all add up to a big thing that my kitchen is clean and not attracting pests. and that make me happy as well as my house and my family.
and yes, when i am sick i let things slide. but my family will temporarily take up that slack. we all have our own responsibilities in caring for the house and family, but we are a team, a community and when we all do our part and take appropriate responsibility, life is smoother and not only are we happier, but the house and Land are happier.
now as i am approaching my own half a century mark, i view the world thru this lens when i start any big project be it art, fiber, writing or magick, housekeeping, taking care of myself, and this upcoming week, when i’ll be moving across the house to another room.
breaking the big tasks down into small ones gives many ways to find joy and delight in finishing a task and to concentrate on the work in front of you, rather than worrying about upcoming deadlines. finding the parts that you enjoy in small tasks makes the bigger task so much easier to manage. and loving my house and doing things to make it happy is my best motivation.
so find a starting point. do one small thing and give a mouse a cookie until it’s time to rest. enjoy and celebrate accomplishing so many things! and begin again the next day. pay attention to the community within the big jobs and find those tiny delights in washing the dishes.
winter/summer temple – scouring and offerings and tiny delights
this afternoon as i was taking the kitchen scraps out to the compost bin, i noticed a blue dyed lock of wool in the grass. apparently it has been there for about two weeks now, but i only just noticed it. it’s faded and a bit weathered, but i think that adds to the charm and i’m going to add it as a tiny delight to the thread that i am spinning for a divination cloth to be woven at another time.
to me, tiny delights are both an offering of joy in small things and a way for me to bring a bit of light into my less joyful moments.
tiny delights can be anything, really. but mostly they are tactile memories and visual moments that spark a positive feeling. there have been times when those feelings have been fleeting and in short supply and i have learned to catch and cherish them in little frozen moments in time.
finding a faded lock of wool that must have blown out of my lap as i was carding this past summer doesn’t sound very joyful at first glance, but the process of that lock coming to me and becoming what it is is encapsulated in it. and now, every time i see this small variation in the threads of a future divination cloth, i’ll think of my summer temple and the joy i had in finally being able to work with the fleeces i bought as i was recovering from covid last spring and the work that i was able to put into processing them this fall and just the simple joy and Tiny Delight of finding a lock of wool the exact colors that i have been trying to reproduce in the dye pot just hanging out in the grass for 2 weeks.
the first step to creating sacred thread is to create a sacred work space. a working temple of sorts. this is going to look a lot different than what most people think of when they think of sacred space, but in practice the bones are the same.
a work space – quiet(ish), out of the way and not close enough to disturb the neighbors is what i prefer.
water- for purification and scouring, but also for drinking! this is hot and dirty work and you need to stay hydrated. self care is sacred too.
this past summer we had several thunderstorms and i collected that water in rubbermaid bins and buckets to wash my fleeces in. Thunderwater!
fire – a tealight candle in a jar will do. the wind here is pretty constant, so a fire resistant jar helps the flame to not need constant relighting, but fire is optional and many times i just use a bowl of water instead. on red flag days, it’s good to keep the flames to a minimum.
an offering – to the Land, the wights and the Gods. this depends on Who you are offering to, of course.
and a small altar/shrine to leave the offerings and ask for assistance and blessings on the work. i use a piece of unsplit firewood turned up like a table, but you can use a bucket or a table or the ground itself. it’s all good. this work gets really messy and i’m always prepared to have to set some parts up in other places as time goes on.
i begin by sweeping the leaves and brush off of the concrete and setting up my workspace.
light the candle, pour the water, offer to the Land, wights and Gods for safety, blessings, and good work and give thanks for the use of the space, and then i get to work.
this time around, the fleeces were very lanolin heavy and unskirted so i wore a mask and gloves to make sure that i didn’t give myself tetanus or trigger my asthma with the fine particulates that shake out of the fleece. safety is important! this is stinky and dirty work and this fleece has been sitting in my ancient open garage for 5 months now. who knows what beasties live beneath that yellowed surface.
to come back to tiny delights, i find sorting wool and picking out large bits of brambles a tiny delight. it’s tedious, but also calming and relaxing while sitting out behind the garage with some music playing and all afternoon in front of me.
i sort the wool by usability and skirt out the poopy bits and the felted bits and the bits with too many burrs. this fleece was a shearing demonstration fleece, so there were several second cuts (shorter locks where the shearer missed and went back over twice) that i picked out of the mess. i find that there is really no bad fleece, just fleeces that are not suited to some tasks.
after skirting and sorting, i have a table full of fleece piles! and it’s time to start the real fun! (and the long wait…) it’s fermented suint time!
suint is sheep sweat and holds a lot of potassium salts. when mixed with rainwater, the natural bacteria of that sheep’s microbiome, lanolin, heat and time, then the mixture turns itself into a naturally soapy and soupy magnificent and stinky brew that once rinsed produces a gorgeous and lovely pile of clean wool to comb. i definitely recommend a mask and gloves for this part. the smell is not for the weak stomached; it’s a bit like a cross between a barnyard and a baby’s diaper. hence placing your workspace a good ways from your neighbors and your house.
this year i collected the rainwater from a few rather intense thunderstorms. my hope was to energize the process and use the wool that i’ll be processing for spinning thread for divination cloths and the thunderwater adds an extra layer of energetic purification. and that seemed to work quite well!
i added the raw piles of wool to the bins of rainwater and pushed them under the surface before covering them with a lid to keep the flies out. maggots in the water is not a deal breaker, but it’s kinda gross to have to rinse out in 2-4 weeks.
this is the part where i talk about microanimism and the small friends who are now working so hard to clean my fleeces. when i set out the offerings to the Land the wights and the Gods, i was also thanking the bacteria and yeasts and fungi that ferment the suint and clean my fleeces. several years ago, i got a bee in my bonnet to learn how people scoured fleeces before the advent of unicorn power scour and i discovered the fermented suint method. it works so well, that the first batch of fsm wool i experimented with in a 5 gallon bucket in my bathroom shower (i do not recommend anyone do this. my house did not smell very nice) came out white and clean and with vegetable matter that just fell out as i was carding. hooray for beasties!
the bacteria is what causes the smell, but they are anerobic and when exposed to oxygen they die and the dry wool just smells like wool and lanolin from that point on. the process of just trusting the little beasties to do the work and clean my fleece is such a tiny delight to me. i spin so much joy into my thread just from remembering the work that was done while i waited almost a month for the beasties to do their thing and live their generations in the sheep soup.
and the best part is, those beasties are still going. i save a couple buckets of the stinky water overwinter and add it to my new fleece ferments to help the process go faster next year.
so back to the process, after 3-6 weeks depending on the weather, it’s time to take the fleece out of the soup and rinse and rinse and rinse it. this was a cool fall so i left it for almost 5 weeks. (i would have started much earlier if i had been feeling better. the warmer the weather, the faster the ferment)
if it’s not too windy, i’ll lay the slightly acrid smelling rinsed wet wool all over the grass for some natural oxyclean and to dry out in the sun. a little breeze is good, tho and adds an additional purification process as well as helping to dry faster. it takes a few days of turning and fluffing up for the fleece to dry. this is definitely not short and fast, and sometimes it will rain and the fleece has to dry yet again, but that’s ok. it’s expected and part of the process.
once the wool is dried, i keep it in pillowcases and laundry baskets until i need it for a project. never keep it in plastic unless you know that it is bone dry (which is also bad for the wool) or it will develop mold.
this is the initial ritual. the first scouring and offerings made to begin the process of spinning thread for sacred purposes.
i save a small amount of the first sample of each fleece to not only test its mettle and find its character, but to spin an offering in thanks for all the work done and as a promise for things to come.
it’s winter now and i have a lot of wool to card and comb and spin and weave while the winter winds and snow cover my temple space outside. and each afternoon i walk out to take my kitchen scraps to the compost bins and thank the spirits of rot and decay for all that they do to bring life and cleanse the Land every day.
i leave offerings to the Land, the wights and the Gods and a little extra to help the critters who live in the miniwoods and fields survive the winter.
and sometimes i find a lock of wool that escaped my summer escapades and add that as a tiny delight to my spinning.