Concocting- What to do when your sources disagree?

Meanwhile, over on Ravenson Reagents…

Ravenson Reagents

I’ve mentioned before that research is one of the most important parts of how I create an incense blend.  But to be honest, sometimes I get stuck.  Like, really stuck.

Let’s take myrrh for example.  I’ve always used it to represent the feminine principle, as opposed to the sharp masculinity of frankincense.  I wanted to use it as a base for my full moon incense for that reason, but I decided to go through some books and websites to see if I could confirm that that would be appropriate.

Handful o' myrrh Handful o’ myrrh

Basically, I opened a research wormhole for myself.  For example, in Magical Herbalism: The Secret Craft of the Wise (Llewellyn’s Practical Magick Series), Scott Cunningham attributes myrrh to the very male Sun energies, but also to (traditionally feminine) water.  In Wylundt’s Book of Incense by Steven Smith, it is attributed to Sun and fire, both male.  These…

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Energy Redirection

I’ve been going through a bit of a crisis lately.   The fibro has pretty much changed the way I look at everything.  It made me reexamine how I spend my energy, who I give it to, and what actually feeds me energy back.  I’ve spent the last 2 years getting more weak, feeling less ME.

From the embers of my old life...

From the embers of my old life…

THE LONG STORY

Part of this is due to my retail job.  Anyone who thinks that retail is a nice, easy job has never done it.  The energy output is boggling.  Even if I don’t step out from behind my counter once the entire shift, the running back and forth, twisting for cigarettes, bending over for dropped change, etc. makes the shift seem more like 8 hours of Jazzercize than 8 hours of honest work.  Add in people who can’t summon up even the most basic politeness, and my energy plummets.  When I have a true problem with a customer over some misunderstanding or miscommunication, it truly wrecks my day.  Those are the days that ensure I’ll be in pain for the rest of the night and part of the next day.

But I’ll get to that later.

I attempted to take a class for a work-at-home customer service job.  I’ve done it before, and while it is a bit more stressful taking call after call, it’s also less stressful in that I don’t have to constantly rearrange my sleep schedule based on what days I’m opening or closing, and I don’t have to try to arrange for a ride.  I also wouldn’t have to stand/Jazzercize for 8 hours at a time, and I was really looking forward to how that would help my body.  So I was taking classes from 9-1pm, then going to work 3-10.  This all sounds reasonable until you factor in the 2 hours of homework, and the fact that I didn’t get home/fed/tired until somewhere around 1am.  So I kept getting behind on homework, losing sleep, stressing over the class, and I realized that it just wasn’t going to work if I was still working my retail job at the same time.  Sadly, I can’t quit retail for a month of unpaid training for what could have been a temporary job, either.  So it was a no-go.

And suddenly, I was stuck in the same position.  All my hopes for getting out were dashed.  The problem is that I have a very limited time in retail before my body just crumbles.  I can feel it coming.  It’s getting worse and worse, and there’s going to come a time when I really CAN’T physically do it anymore.  Some people may have passed that threshold a while back, but unfortunately for me, I have a lot of experience with pain tolerance.  So I’ve been sticking with the situation that’s hurting me.

So this leaves me with some interesting questions.  First and foremost, what the fuck do I actually want to do?  I love writing, and would love to be a full-time author, but that’s the kind of thing that makes money in the long run.  I may look into freelance writing or editing, but those would just bring in a little money here or there.  You can’t really make a career out of those things.  I’m almost 40.  It’s time to think bigger.

Then I flashed back on a company idea that Bear and I were kicking around a year or so ago.  I made a huge batch of kyphi, intending to sell it on Etsy for basically enough money to buy more incense ingredients.  I had an aromatherapy company a long time ago, and I burnt myself out on it by working too many 16 hour days and eating/sleeping/breathing aromatherapy.  There came a point where I realized that I didn’t even enjoy it anymore.  I tend to be a bit Type A about these things.

This time, I’m going to take it easier.  I’m going to work on a few things at a time, and when they’re gone, they’re gone.  One company that has really inspired me to try it this way is MoonaLisa, whom I’ve never managed to order from because her products are in such high demand and I miss the window to order.  If you look at her catalog, you’ll see that everything is sold out.  I love that.

THE SHORT STORY

So, we reopened the topic of Ravenson Reagents.  We’re going to sell on Etsy, maybe Ebay, and probably end up with a full shopping site at some point, but with a limited product range.  I’ll have some incenses that are available most of the time, but there will be special lines when I get inspired.  Right now, I’m working on one called ‘The Temple of Morpheus’, which will have incense, tea, bathsalts, and candles to assist with dreamwork.  I’m also going to list my first batch of kyphi, and I will continue to tweak my recipe and offer the results for sale.  (Hint: the next batch will have about half as much frankincense.  I love frankincense, don’t get me wrong, but I wished that some of the other ingredients could have shone through a little more.)

I’m also trying to visit here more often, and I’m sorry to say this, but I might start placing ads here.  It’s not something I wanted to do, but if it helps me through this transition, so be it.  Since nobody wants to place ads on a blog that doesn’t get many hits, there will be some more promotion work going on behind the scenes.  I’ve always had a linked Twitter and Facebook, I just haven’t used them much.  Now I will.  For other places to visit me, click here.

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I’m also noticing how certain people impact my energy level.  I’ve always been relatively empathic as far as sensing how people are feeling, despite what they say.  But more and more, I’m letting their energy impact my own.  It’s like I had stronger boundaries once, but they’ve weakened with the rest of my body.

I’ve always believed in the energy exchange of personal interaction, and I’ve always had a huge aversion to attention whores.  There’s a big difference between a happy extrovert and an energy-sucking vortex, and I’m really noticing that there are a lot more of the latter types than what I initially suspected.  Again, I think I had better boundaries and shields at one point.

So, that’s something that I’m needing to manage as well.  I need to make sure that I limit my time with people who exhaust me and make sure that I have some sort of shield up when I am around people I don’t know or who drain me.

It looks like some deeper energy work is in order.

I’ve been doing some meditating, which is a practice that I always seem to let go of after a while.  I’m trying to figure out a way to make a daily practice of it, something short and sweet.  We’ll see how that goes.

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While I was at the sauna, I did a reading with my new The Enchanted Map Oracle Cards.  These are supposed to be used as a companion to The Map: Finding the Magic and Meaning in the Story of Your Life, which I haven’t read yet, but it looks interesting.  At any rate, the art on these cards is gorgeous, and the meanings are relatively easy to glean.  So I bought them as an unbirthday present for myself.

I did the 6 card spread, and this is what I got.  (My descriptions are paraphrased loosely from the handy-dandy included booklet.)

The Enchanted Map Spread, sauna, 1/20

The Enchanted Map Spread, sauna, 1/20

Card 1: The Past Influence — 38. Heal the Ouch — Healing and soothing heart, body, mind, and soul.  This is a time of healing and spending time with the healing arts.  (I’m seeing this as me trying to heal myself of all the physical pain of fibro, as well as letting go all of the things that were holding me down.  I can also see this as representing Bear’s heart attack, and just all the chaos of our lives, and having to get through that to get to this point.)

Card 2: The Present Point of Vantage — 34. Spark — A spark of creativity, and moving on with optimism and hope.  Good time to give birth to an idea or begin a new endeavor.  (No-brainer.  I’ve been creative and manic, and the spark is CERTAINLY there.)

Card 3: What You Resist — 52. Magical Map Shifter — People who come into my life to affect personal growth.  “The Magical Map Shifter always initiates you into a better version of yourself.”  (This is true.  I resist this.  I tend to keep people at arm’s length, most especially when I’m in one of my tender creative periods.  I have NO desire to ask for, or even accept help, and this seems like a very foreign concept to me.  Also, I really don’t think this is Bear.  He’s absolutely my soul mate, and he’s willing to help me with this, but I know that this isn’t his dream, and may not be part of his life path.   So I’m cautious about asking for him to do too much for Ravenson Reagents if it’s going to keep him from pursuing his personal goals.)

Card 4: Unexpected Help — 2. Gentle Gardener — A reminder that my thoughts, feelings, and beliefs help create my reality.  Stay positive and expect a wondrous return.  (I love this card so much.  It’s very ‘Law of Attraction’, and that’s something I’m striving to work with right now.)

Card 5: The Next Right Action — 16. Rescue — Ask for help to expand your life.  “Ask and you will receive.”  Also, ask for divine assistance.  (I did ask Bear if he would help me with small things, but again, that just doesn’t feel like what we’re talking about here.  I don’t honestly know who else to ask.  But I’m going to keep an eye out, and spend time with my meditation to see if I can deepen my connection with Goddess.  Karmically speaking, I think I’m about due for some good things to come my way.  I don’t feel entitled to them necessarily, but I’d like to think that all the BS was building up to something beautiful.  :-))

Card 6: The Probable Future Destination — 28. Movement — “This is the time for positive momentum as you come out of a time of restriction.”  The fog lifts, I feel compelled to move forward, and I take the right actions to change my life.  (Ye Gods, I hope so.  This is a wonderful card, and the ‘period of restriction’ really spoke to me.  I’ve mentioned to Bear and J how much I’ve just felt ‘stuck’ lately.  I’ve been feeling like I’m out of options.  Maybe that’s not entirely true.  What a wonderful feeling that would be, to actually move forward with something and be successful.  :-))

So this was all a really positive reading.  I loved it, and I want to work with these cards A LOT.  Again, they’re beautiful, from the artwork to the gorgeous gold-leafing on the edges, and I love the archetypes and their influences.  It brings me back to the bosom of Jungian theory, and that’s always been something I’ve loved.

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This is the last of my obsessive self-analysis posts for a while.  I’m actually boring myself with all this processing here, but it IS that inner exploration time of the year, after all.  I promise to get back to something much more fun and upbeat next time.  Maybe I’ll post my recipe for Imbolc potato soup.  Actually, there’s not really a recipe, it’s just something I make up every year.  There’s always onions, potatoes, milk or a milk substitute, and lots of garlic and herbs.  Sometimes there’s also cheese.  🙂

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5/13

Today was my first day off in a while.. The fibro has been screaming for the past few days due to stress, long hours, and virtually no sleep. I woke up today already hurty and weak. So I decided to keep my goals easy for today: burritos, henna, and kyphi.

What I ACTUALLY did was this..

1. Finished the batch of kyphi that I’ve been working on since January.. It took me 4 sessions to hand-roll all the pellets. Maybe I should make it in smaller batches.

2. Learned how to play Portal.

3. Coated my head in henna (Caca Noir by Lush Cosmetics).

4. Trimmed trees and cut saplings in the back yard while Bear and J continued disassembling the deck. (Wet henna dripping down my face and neck the whole time)

5. Made veggie burritos with smoked tofu. Learned that I don’t really know how to cook with tofu properly.

6. Watched ‘Into the Wild’.

7. Read ‘Bear Gets Scared’.

I’d like to try to write a short entry like this every day. I’d like to track what I do to see if I can find patterns that trigger the fibro, and the goal-oriented, Type A side of my personality likes the idea of keeping track of my progress on projects. It will be relatively easy to keep up with if I keep them short. I may even make them private so as to not bore people..

2013- goals and better luck

English: Pink sunrise on snow, Wheeler Crest a...

English: Pink sunrise on snow, Wheeler Crest and Bishop Pass, viewed from Swall meadows. Mono County, Eastern Sierra, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my last post, I vented about all the things that went horribly, horribly wrong last year.  And there was a lot.  It seemed neverending at times.

However, I truly am an optimist.  I tend towards stupid optimism, even.  Even when I get truly depressed and feel victimized, I usually come back around and start looking at what I can do differently to better my life.  I also tend towards a little depression/introversion/introspection in January, so this is when all of my plans begin gestating.

  1. FINISH MY DAMN NOVEL!  This has been 3 years in the making, and it’s time to write those last 30K words and just finish it.  It’s aching to be finished.  It’s actually kinda good in some ways, and will be better once I finish it and edit it.  It needs to be born.
  2. Make kyphi, and begin selling my incense.
  3. Stay spiritual.  At the very least, light a candle every full moon.
  4. Lose at least 50 lbs in 2013, more is better.  It’s definitely time that we get back into healthy eating.  For Bear’s health, for my health, for J and Little J’s health.  We all need to be healthy.
  5. Find a different second job.  I’ve been working at my parents’ shop for 18 years now, and it drives me absolutely insane.  I need to do something that doesn’t involve my family in any way whatsoever in order to save my sanity.
  6. Take a trip.  Anywhere.  Even an overnighter a few hours away.  I need to go somewhere SO badly.  I get itchy when I don’t travel for a while, and it’s just time.

I’m sure that I’ll come up with more later, but for now, these are the biggies.  I also want to remember to tell Bear how much I love him as often as possible, and make more time for us to be romantic together.

*****

Things I’m obsessed with right now:

  • The idea of using an oil diffuser as an incense stove/burner.  There are really expensive Japanese incense stoves that retail for $300+, but I can’t see why an oil diffuser with an adjustable temp would be any different.  The idea is that when you add powdered incense to smouldering charcoal, it burns too quickly, is too smoky, and then the bitter burny smell lingers.  Also, the self-igniting charcoal that most people use has a scent of its own, so it’s tough to gauge the actual scent of your incense.  With a diffuser, the incense is warmed gently, and you get to experience the full range of the scent without the charcoal smell or the scorched herb smell.
  • Starting my own YouTube channel.  J gave me a video camera for my bday, and I’m stoked to set it up and start using it.
  • Little J, our little darling.  She’s part cross-dresser, part little, part submissive, and completely lovely.  She gives me hope.
Incense. Frankincense on coal.

Incense. Frankincense on coal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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2012 in review

English: Snowy forest track. The tree cover ha...

English: Snowy forest track. The tree cover had insulated the late snow from melting, so the snow was deeper here than outside the wood. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2012 has been a rough year.  I have been broken and rebuilt in ways that have stunned me, and I feel like I need to record it all here.  Maybe that will make it all seem less surreal, less like a movie of someone else’s life.

January: Lost my job.  I trained throughout November and part of December to do tech support from home, but because of various factors, it was too stressful.  So stressful, in fact, that I got very, very sick.  So sick, in fact, that I couldn’t talk on the phone, and was therefore useless for this particular job.  Also, J moved here to be with us in a romantic triad.

February: Found my current job and realized how difficult it is on my body.  It’s very low pay, very low skill, and very physical.  It’s certainly not where I thought I would work at this age, but it’s getting me by.  Also, my aunt (stepmom’s sister) passed away.  I went to the funeral and saw my stepmom for the first time in over a year.  She’s pretty much made it clear that she’s not interested in me or my life, (she thinks I need saving *eyeroll*) so it was a bit strained.

April: We began to realize that things weren’t working out with J, despite the fact that we all care a lot for each other.

May: In early May, Bear’s aunt (whom he was very close to) passed away.  We went to Md for the funeral, and that killed us a bit financially.  Also, when we returned, we realized that it was time to part ways with J.  Bear and I had been trying so hard to make things work that we had lost touch with  each other.  Ironically, we reconnected during our time in Md.  We had ‘the talk’, and J admitted to just not feeling it with us.  It was devastating at the time, but ultimately the best thing for all of us.

Later May: Bear just started feeling poorly.  REALLY poorly.  He just wasn’t himself.  He was pale, tired, splotchy, and the final straw was when he couldn’t hold a conversation without falling asleep in the middle.  He had also been having some serious sleep apnea, which he’d never really shown any signs of before.  It was terrifying.  So I dragged him to the hospital.  He was having a heart attack.  A very serious, very severe heart attack.  It just didn’t look like what you would think of as a typical heart attack because he’s so young.

It was the single most horrible thing that’s ever happened to me.  I had to face the possibility that he wouldn’t be with me, and just typing that makes me want to cry.  He had 4 blockages in the 3 main arteries into the heart.  There were 3 100% blockages and 1 95%  blockage.  The reality is that he’s extremely lucky to be alive right now, 4 stents later.

June: We began to radically change how we eat.  It was great, and I wish we had the $$ to eat as healthy as we were.  It’s our goal to get back to that.  We also learned to deal with the reality of Bear’s diabetes, high blood pressure, and all the piles of pills he would need to take from now on.  Things were still difficult with J, as I was a bit confused about what exactly had gone wrong.  I doubted myself a lot.

August: Worries about losing our house.  It’s a long story, and I think that we’ve pretty much gotten through it, but it caused SO many sleepless nights.

September: Our Dragon*Con wedding and a visit from Bear’s dad and uncle.  This was all GOOD stress, but stress nonetheless.  Continued worries about losing the house and worries about Bear losing his job.

October: My ex had a massive stroke and passed away a few days before Samhain.  It was devastating.  We grew up together.  We were together for 7 years, engaged for 5, and though I didn’t get a chance to talk to him much, I always knew that we could pick up the conversation right where we left off at any time.  He knew me from a time before I knew myself, and being with him helped shape me into who I am now.  I still can’t believe he’s gone.  😦

Second week of October, I came down with what seemed to be a small cold, and which I’m still suffering from now.  Twice now it’s moved into pneumonia territory, and I think that’s where I’m at right now.  Lots of middle-of-the-night coughing fits resulting in sleeping upright on the couch.  Lots of worrying about how to deal with it with no insurance.  😦

November: We finally met someone that we wanted to date, but she turned out to be crazy.  It was very disappointing, but obviously we just weren’t suited for each other.  Also, a catastrophic fight with my mother which confirmed that she is someone that I can’t rely on and that any little thing I say to her will be used against me in the future.  She can’t support me as an adult, and doesn’t even understand what my life is about.  She always sees the very worst in me.  I can’t talk to my sister, either, because anything I say to her will immediately get back to my mother.  Continued sickness, continued house worries, still fighting fleas.

Also, my uncle passed.  He was the last person left on that side of the family.  Now there are assorted cousins I really don’t have anything to do with, but my Dad and his family are all gone now.

December: The month of working.  And being sick.  And money worries.  And failing at Xmas.  And exhaustion.  I’m beginning to believe that Xmas is designed to make me feel completely inadequate in every way.

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There were good things that happened this year as well.

  • I appreciate my husband even more than I ever thought possible.  He’s the solid, good thing in my life, and I get to keep him.  I also got to marry him.  I’m a lucky bitch.
  • We found out who our friends are.  Some people who we thought were our best friends, couldn’t be bothered to show up for Bear when he was in the hospital.  Some friends who we thought were good friends were actually GREAT friends.  They showed up for him.  We learned the difference.  One friend even got ordained so that she could marry us.
  • We found the most amazing friend in J.  He was there for us in a way that means he’ll be in our lives and hearts forever.  He could have cut and run at any time, but he helped me through the worst time in our lives.
  • We learned a lot about health and lost about 25 lbs each.  We had to start eating cheap, and put a LITTLE of that back on, but we’re ready to get healthier and feel better in 2013.
  • Bear began his voice acting career in earnest.  He did a radio play in December, and he’s been auditioning for audio books and radio plays online.
  • Things seem good with someone that we’ve recently started seeing.  She’s sexy, sweet, honest, and seems interested in building something lasting with us.  I’m feeling VERY positive about having a lot of fun and new experiences with her.
  • I found my spirituality again.  It’s kind of one of those things that ebbs and flows, but it’s flowed back in a big way.  In addition, Bear and I have started talking seriously about starting an incense business.

Sadly, I didn’t get the writing done that I wanted to do.  I honestly just couldn’t drum up the energy for it.  I was spending so much time in survival mode, that everything else took a back seat.  I also just settled into my job.  I need to find something else, but again, survival mode.

As much as I went through in 2012, I really do have higher hopes for 2013.  I have goals, and I’ll be writing them in a separate post.

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Yule and mistletoe

So, yeah.  We’re making a go of this incense thing.  I’ve been making incense for the sabbats anyways, and one of my favorite parts is gathering the ingredients.  For Samhain, we gathered fresh cypress needles from a cemetery.  They were LOVELY.  They really made the incense pop.

For Yule, we began scanning the landscape for mistletoe.  I’ve gathered some in the past, but this was Bear’s first go.  He scouted out the perfect candidates, and we collected quite the haul on the full moon.

Mistletoe haul

Mistletoe haul

This was another instance where it’s good to have the tall husband.  And it really does add a great green note to the incense.  Again, I’m not going to reveal my full recipe, but we did use colophony pine resin from Portugal and some great spices.

Attached to an ornamental pear tree of some sort

Attached to an ornamental pear tree of some sort

The ingredients for the kyphi are coming together nicely too.  We made a trip to the international market, and I found beautiful golden raisins and dried dates to use.  I was looking for galangal root, but all I found was galangal powder.  So I’ll be doing some looking.

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On the home front, my uncle passed away.  It seems like people are dropping like flies, and it’s happening faster and faster.  That makes 7 in 2.5 years.  It sucks, and I’m feeling kind of disconnected right now.  I’m focusing on incense and Yule, and trying to make this a good Yule for myself, Bear, and J.  Hopefully it will be great.

I’m going within, and it’s nice.

Please pay special attention to Abercrombie boy.  He’s my favorite.  🙂

 

Ravenson Reagents- Handcrafted incense

frankincense tree

frankincense tree (Photo credit: Alexbip)

Hi guys!  Just wanted to let you know that I’ll be doing a lot of work on my other blog, RavensonReagents.wordpress.com.  Bear and I are going to be making handcrafted incense, eventually for sale.  We’re beginning with the great kyphi experiment of 2012/2013.  (The ingredients are expensive, so it will take us a while to gather them all)

Click here to see my first post on frankincense, and the sustainability/harvesting of this amazing resin.

Blessed be!

selling Frankincense

selling Frankincense (Photo credit: LiCol)

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