As well as various divination tools, I also own a few scrying implements – two crystal balls and a scrying bowl. One of the balls is clear glass, which I bought with birthday money a year ago because it has the grey resin Maiden, Mother, Crone stand by Nemesis Now which I have drooled over for years, and the scrying bowl is of the same design and was given to me by a friend. The second crystal ball I own, and my latest acquisition, is a small quartz sphere that’s about an inch and a half diameter. I bought it after I’d seen a couple of very good quality smaller ones that a friend of mine got for about 99p each on eBay through very lucky bidding. So I started to trawl through the listings, most of which were either too expensive, too small, not quartz, or had the same photo as a load of others. I finally found this one, which was about £4 including shipping, which was about as much as I was willing to spend without actually seeing it. Plus the listing stated that the ball I would receive was the one shown, and although the pictures were a bit blurry I could tell it was actually quartz and not glass, and looked like it had some well-placed inclusions.
I’m really pleased with it, and when held at certain angles the inclusions reflect the light in interesting ways. Unfortunately, I had nothing to put it in to protect it, as although I planned to keep it in the bowl with the rest of my crystals I didn’t want to risk marring the surface or have the sun reflecting through it and setting fire to my bedroom. So I made a crocheted pouch – it’s black for metaphysical protection, thick enough for physical protection, and unobtrusive enough not to draw attention to itself.
Unfortunately, due to my current living situation I haven’t had a chance to do any scrying at all – my large crystal ball is still in its box as I can’t display it, and while my scrying bowl is on my altar it’s hidden away at the back, and were I to try to use it I’d have a hard time if I was disturbed – it’s a lot easier to hide or cover tarot cards in a hurry than a bowl full of water! I’m hoping that until I manage to move I can use my quartz ball to start my practice, although I want to concentrate more on meditation beforehand.
Although the last Christmassy thing I mentioned was on 29th December and to do with our carol service in the 21st, actual Christmas stuff did happen on the 24th-25th as well, but I hadn’t downloaded the photos from my phone by that point, and then Life (with an admixture of lethargy) got in the way of blogging.
Even when I’m employed at Christmas, Christmas Eve is always a good day. As I unfailingly use up all my annual leave by about mid-December, I always have to work over the Christmas/New Year period; however, as all the sites shut down over that time I end up in our main office, usually in Archive, sometimes in Processing. Most of the field team are on holiday, as are most of the office lot, so it’s really quiet and relaxed, and because it’s Christmas Eve no one really wants to be there so we all go home early. Plus there’s always cake and chocolate.
The rest of the day and most of the evening was spent wrapping presents (yes, I’m disorganised) and lazing around reading until just before 11pm, when I went to Midnight Mass. Despite the fact that the word ‘Mass’ is more Roman Catholic than anything else, it seems that all churches use the phrase Midnight Mass to describe their late-evening service on the 24th, from ours (Methodist), through low-church CofE, to the Catholic churches. My church doesn’t always do a Midnight Mass, and to be honest I don’t always go to a Midnight Mass every year. However, both these events occurred in 2014, so I had a choice of venues. I could go to the Methodist one, or I could go to the one at what would be my parish church if I was Church of England. I ended up going to the CofE one, as I like the interior, I know people who go there, and I like going to different denominations’ services, but mostly because I was going to the Methodist service the next day and felt like a change.
The service was as you’d expect – greeting, call to worship, a sermon and communion with some prayers and readings interspersed, and then just after midnight going round and saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to everyone else in the congregation. It’s always a slightly eerie experience, arriving in the dark at the end of the day, the church mostly lit by candlelight, and it’s a very quiet service overall – no hymns or music, and a smaller amount of people than usual. But it really makes it feel like Christmas; the sermon obviously talks about the changeover from Advent to the day we’ve been waiting for (from a religious and theological perspective), but the main realisation is actually saying Merry Christmas and hearing it said back to you, as well as having the middle candle of the Advent wreath lit for the first time as well.
And then there was Christmas Day itself. There were some presents, then breakfast, then church. The service tends to start slightly earlier than normal, so people have enough time to get back and finish making Christmas dinner happen, but it’s a lot more secular than the Midnight Mass. It’s a family service, so no Sunday School, and a lot of people bring in presents that they’ve already opened to show off. Not just the children either – after the greeting, call to worship, and first hymn, the minister asks ‘so, what did people get for Christmas?’, leading to about five minutes of kids showing off some of the things they got in their stockings, and everyone else showing off things like earrings, jumpers, and scarves, or naming things they couldn’t realistically bring with them – bicycles, kitchen mixers etc. I still remember Christmas of 2002 when I walked in with my new bow, having started archery that summer.
The high points, for me at least, were seeing the middle candle lit again, actually getting to sing the last verse of ‘Oh Come All Ye Faithful’, and the bit after the service where I get to see people that I quite often haven’t seen since the last Christmas Day. There are a load of us roughly the same age who came through Sunday School together and were part of our church’s MAYC (Methodist Association of Youth Clubs) group, and we’ve gone camping together and put on plays and all sorts. But a lot have moved away, or don’t come to church regularly any more (like me), so it’s great to be able to catch up.
The rest of the day was very relaxed, as it was just me and the parents this year, and there was a lot of food and cake.
For those of you unfamiliar with Advent wreaths, each of the four candles around the edge is lit in turn on the four Sundays in Advent. So there’s one candle on the first Sunday, two the next, and so on. The middle candle, which is always white, is only lit on Christmas Day and symbolises Christ as the Light of the World. The other four candles can have different meanings or associations, but the usual ones are the prophets, John the Baptist, Mary, and God’s people, often paired with hope, love, joy, and peace. Our outer candles are red, but blue candles are also used, and among Catholics and Anglicans, especially the High Church crowd, three of the candles are purple and one is pink, used on the third Sunday.
Despite having witnessed for years what happened after my friend named her cat Loki, I was reminded yesterday that Loki is, very definitely, a Trickster god.
I’ve been covering for our receptionist at lunchtime and in the evenings these past couple of weeks, which means I spend a lot of time operating the switchboard. As I can’t do any of my other work at this desk I usually end up reading a book or browsing the internet in between phonecalls. So yesterday afternoon I was reading about Loki when the phone rang…
Thankfully for my professional reputation the person on the other end was someone I had just spoken to who had been bounced back to Reception after I had transferred the call, as instead of answering with ‘good afternoon, [two-syllable name of company]’ I said ‘good afternoon, Loki … I mean [company]’.
It was the last phonecall I took before I went home, and as I was very tired and not feeling great it could just have been a Freudian slip on my part, or I could have been on the receiving end of a mild cosmic joke. Whether it was either, or both, it was an interesting reminder that humans aren’t the only ones with a sense of humour.
Just a quick post to (somewhat belatedly) show off one of my birthday presents from last year.
As far as divination methods go I tend to use tarot cards, although I do own a pendulum (which I have yet to use) as well as a set of Norse runes that I made myself from painted pebbles (which lack a protective layer of varnish). My tarot deck collection, however, numbers five. I’m not against using runes, and I do own a good book on how to read them, I just never got around to finishing the stone set I was working on.
This set though… as soon as I manage to find my book I’m going to be using this set. I hadn’t asked for runes for my birthday, but a friend of mine who knows I’m into things like the tarot bought them for me. About a month beforehand we’d ended up having a conversation about gemstones, I think because he’d phoned for a chat while I was browsing semiprecious earrings on the internet. I mentioned I’d seen some really nice garnet ones, which eventually led to the topic of birthstones and the fact that I don’t really like jewellery made out of mine, which is turquoise. He then asked what stones I did like, and I immediately said amethyst as I love the colour purple, and owned a couple of pieces years before I found out about the metaphysical properties of the stone.
I then promptly forgot about the conversation until my birthday. We met up a couple of days before my birthday for sushi and to exchange presents, and I got told that one I was allowed to open in front of my parents and the other one I wasn’t. The first one was a beautiful silver Tree of Life necklace with amethyst chips for leaves, and the other, which I opened in the evening, was a gorgeous set of engraved, gold-painted amethyst runes.
Eesh, it’s been a while since I posted here. I haven’t forgotten about the blog, and in fact I’ve been writing entries in my head for a while now, but what with New Year’s Day and flat-hunting and forced overtime at work I haven’t really had the chance to sit down and write anything, mostly because after work I’ve needed to do the responsible adult stuff of laundry and tidying and things, and in my downtime all I want to do is sleep or vegetate in front of the TV.
However, I am determined not to let this blog fall by the wayside, so here is the first of two posts regarding my celebrations of Candlemas/Imbolc/St. Brigid’s Day.
Unlike Yule, I actually managed to celebrate on the day itself which I was quite proud of, even though it meant going to bed 20 minutes later than I would have liked. I changed my normal altar candles to the ones I bought for Imbolc celebrations, lit those and my deity candles, cast a circle and lit my quarter candles. I didn’t use my chalice or incense, or use the other two candles I usually light during my devotions, partly due to time constraints and partly so I didn’t get complaints about burning incense upstairs and making the house smell just before everyone went to sleep. I then took a white spell candle which I anointed, lit, and set in its holder.
As it burned I said what the candle meant to me – as Candlemas is the traditional day to bless all the candles for the year I would use it instead of a taper to light all my religious candles until next Imbolc. It represents the light returning to the world, as the days are now growing visibly longer as we move from the Solstice to the Equinox. White is the colour associated with purity, and the day is known as the Purification of the Virgin in the Christian calendar. Brigid is a goddess closely connected with fire and is partoness of the forge, represented by the candle flame. I then had a moment of reflection on the events of the day that were connected to the festival, dismantled the circle, snuffed the candles, and went to bed.
That morning I had overslept slightly. Not enough to make me late for work, but enough that I didn’t have time after I got off the Tube to get one of Caffè Nero’s gorgeous Milano hot chocolates. Now that had happened a few times since I started work on that site, and no matter whether I was early, on time, or late it was still dark whenever I reached St. Paul’s. On the morning of the 2nd, however, it wasn’t. It wasn’t daytime, but it definitely wasn’t nighttime either, so the sun had either just risen or was just about to rise – proof positive that the days are in fact getting longer. This made me smile and think ‘yep, definitely Candlemas’, and almost made up for the lack of hot chocolate.
And that was pretty much all I expected from the day – I’d seen with my own eyes the lengthening of the days, and I had a mini-celebration planned for when I got home. However, it seems Brigid had other ideas. As well as associations with fire, crafting, poetry, and healing, she is also associated with holy wells and springs.
Now for the past few days I’d been cleaning the area I was working in, which involved first getting rid of a load of modern rubble and crap, and then taking out a layer of post-mediaeval brick and mortar demolition rubble. Very routine, rather boring, not much interest and excitement. So I got rid of the demo rubble, gave the area a clean with my trowel, and found a well. On St. Brigid’s Day. That no-one expected to be there as we had no idea what the building on the old maps was used for. I was impressed!
And then the next morning I got a lovely surprise as I walked out the door – snow! The first snow of this winter as well, at least where I live. There wasn’t much, only about a centimetre, but it’s still snow, and thankfully not enough to make the city grind to a halt – that takes two centimetres. Anyone reading this who either lives or comes from elsewhere, please feel free to laugh at this juncture. London (as an entity) has what might be described as a phobia about snow.
So far it’s been the only snow, but I’m happy it fell about as close to Imbolc as it could get, as according to Dad it started at about 1am. Snow is often used in Imbolc celebrations if it’s available, ice candle-holders can be made if there’s no snow, and salt can be used as well to represent snow. If it wasn’t for the fact that I needed to get to work I’d have tried to find a spare jar or bottle to collect some in, so instead I made do with eating some of it and trying to catch snowflakes on my tongue as I walked down the street. There are just some things you have to do when it snows.