Still Learning ~ Keys and Incense

I spent most of yesterday meditating on keys. No surprise there since the key is one of the primary symbols of Hestia.

Some of you may know that I recently got a new tattoo on my arm of a key, to symbolize my devotion to Hestia.

The top part of the key, within the circle (the circle being the artistic liberty of DO who designs and applies all of my inkwork) is a symbol we found online connected to Hestia, representing the hearth-fire.

This is probably my most meaningful tattoo to date. I wanted it somewhere I could easily see it because it represents, not only my devotion to Hestia, but my devotion to my home and family as well as my path as a Kitchen Witch.

In my meditations yesterday, I asked myself what keys specifically symbolize to me.

I remember the very first key I owned as a child and that was a very small key that came with a diary I was given for Christmas one year. That key symbolized privacy and the keeping of secrets.

A common symbol of keeping a secret as a child was to mimic the turning of a key over your mouth and toss the key away.

The next key I owned was a key to my childhood home. If you’ve been following the Facebook page, you probably know I’ve been dreaming a lot about that house recently. Perhaps it’s because of the thinning of the veil, perhaps it’s because I’ve been thinking so much about keys, and that house was the first place I owned a key to. For me, that key symbolized maturity and sanctuary. I had been deemed “old enough” to be responsible for a key to “home”. I could never be locked out or denied entry.

Another key from my childhood that I did not own but that I had access to, and was very important to me, was a key to what we called “under the house”.

Not a basement  really. You couldn’t stand upright and the floor of it was dirt. It got smaller as you went deeper in. This was the home of the hearth fire. The furnace, with the pilot light that was forever going out when you opened the outside door or a gust caught the gap at the back porch just right. It was also home to my most prized possession, my bicycle.

That key symbolized both the freedom my bicycle offered and protection. The safe-guarding of my bike was my first lesson in protecting the things that mattered to me.

Moving through life, keys have been a sign of status, a symbol of protection, a representation of holding the key to someone’s heart (remember the necklaces that were a heart and key), a symbol of safety and security, and a symbol of secrets.

We only “lock up” things that matter to us, things we wish to protect. We lock our cars and homes to prevent theft, we lock our doors to protect ourselves and those we love.

We lock up anything of value, including ourselves and our hearts, sometimes.

I realized that keys have played a major role in my life since my earliest childhood memories.

I also took some time last night and this morning to study the making of incense (a study that is on-going), another thing that has held much meaning in my life.

I have a thing about smells, both good and bad. My mother had the nose of a bloodhound and was all about smells. I’m sure that’s where I get it from.

Some of my other early memories are of my mother obsessing over smells. I was what my family called a “yard child”. Growing up, we weren’t allowed to sit in the house all day like kids are now. I was also a tom-boy. One of my mother’s first commands was “go take a bath, you smell like sweat and yard” or if I’d been playing with someone’s pet “go take a bath, you smell like wet dog”. She could tell where I’d been and what I’d been doing with one sniff.

She was just as funny about house smells. She was forever cleaning and being in her twenties in the 70’s, she was always burning incense.

I grew up with incense, lava lamps and bead curtains, some of the things I still love.

Even I find it surprising that I never learned to make incense. I’m really not sure how that skill passed me by other than because of the ease of simply purchasing them nearly everywhere until recently.

However it once escaped me, I decided one of the things I wanted to include in the shop next year (and make for myself) was incense and I’ve made it my business to start researching it. It’s a good thing I started early because I’ve gotten rusty on some of the associations for things outside of my spice cabinet in the kitchen, so part of that learning curve will be to familiarize myself with those associations again.

It’s been busy, as you can tell. I’m realizing that it’s a blessing in some ways that I haven’t been able to jump head-first into the store. This time to think and plan may very well end up being the difference between success and failure for me.

Blessings,
Wicked

Finding Focus – Finding My Way

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a Pisces, so it should come as no surprise that I enjoy spending time near water. Luckily, there is a lake about 45 minutes from where I live.

I had to make a run today for some craft supplies and it just so happens that we cross that lake going both ways.

On the way home, we found a little out of the way place and had lunch on a little bank looking out over the water.

Water does a lot for me. It soothes and recharges me but it also helps

image

me focus and sort out problems. Today was no different.

As I sat looking out at the rolling waves of a heavy chop, I thought about a few questions that’s been reoccurring a lot lately. What makes me happy? What kind of life do I really want?

I know, some of you may be thinking, “Wicked, you’re almost 40. Shouldn’t you have figured this out a long time ago?”

Maybe I should have, but the truth is, I’ve never really had roots anywhere. The unwanted child, threatened with being sent to a girl’s home until I was 12 and went to live with my mother.

Between 12 and 17, we moved three times.

At 17, I was out on my own with the boy who would be my first husband. In two years, we lived in five places.

After we separated, I lived in a number of places, including my car, until I meet DO.

DO was in the army when we met and went on to drive a tractor tailor for over a year. Home was wherever we parked at night. Because of this wanderlust, we traveled light and didn’t really own anything until about 2 years after we got together.

Since then, I can’t count how many places we’ve lived.

“Stability” has been measured by staying together, not by staying in one place.

EQ asked me a year ago (and again a few months ago), what kind of life I wanted. I parroted off what I guess you’re supposed to say when someone asks you that, but the truth is, I wasn’t really sure.

The last year has been an exercise in trying to find out what that actually was.

What I ended up finding out was all the things I didn’t want.

Roots and wings don’t usually go hand-in-hand. An effort to find a balance between them landed us in the camper back in March.

It wasn’t a completely horrible experience. There were parts of it that I actually loved and under different circumstances, I’d gladly do it again.

I will say this. Don’t assume that just because a smaller one is easier to transport, that it’s easy to live in. Don’t underestimate the importance of dedicated rooms and a decent-sized bed. Don’t buy a really old one and think you can fix it up, especially if it’s been siting unused for a while. More things break than you think will.

I suggest buying new, or nearly new. One with a living room, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen at the very least for full-time living.

What I loved most about it was it being a more rustic-style of living and cheaper to run. I loved the idea of a portable washing machine, clothes hanging on a line, trees all around (once I got used to the large wildlife anyway, lol), feeling so close to nature in so many ways.

I missed regular plumbing, but if we’d been somewhere with septic hookups, it wouldn’t have been as bad.

What I didn’t love was lack of space. Space for storage and space to move. Feeling like I was tripping over everything we owned with no where to put anything. The tiny kitchen was a pain, too, for someone that loves cooking as much as I do.

So I spent time thinking about all that and then I spent some time talking to DO and doing a little research.

After all that, I realized that it wasn’t the camper I wanted, exactly. The camper was one way to accomplish that goal, but not the only one.

There is a name for the kind of life I want. It’s called Modern Urban Homesteading.

I like having certain things. I’m a blogger and now I run all the online interests of mine and EQ’s business as well. I’m not giving up computers, internet or cell phones unless I have to.

What I would like to do is spend my days crafting, canning, baking bread, making cookies and homemade wine and writing.

I like for the TV to be off when there’s nothing on. I like the idea of idle moments being opportunities to be creative or productive.

I like the idea of knowing (at least mostly) where my food comes from and what is in it.

One day, if we ever do buy a place, I’d like to walk outside and get my eggs directly from the chicken in the mornings.

As I’ve found out, all of that is still considered homesteading, just not in the extreme sense. It’s Modern Homesteading in urban areas. People who still have internet, electricity and indoor plumbing but try to reduce their impact and develop a closer relationship with their life and the things they use and consume.

We aren’t vegetarians, so DO is considering eventually hunting and fishing for our meat. We’ll then use whatever other parts of the animals we can. Some of those things might eventually turn up in the Etsy store since EQ and I are both part Native American, RH was a Boy Scout and DO grew up on a farm. We all share the idea that if you’re going to hunt, do it for food and use everything you can.

People may scoff at the idea of living this way within the modern world, and I’m sure not everyone will understand, but this is the life that I think would make me feel happy and fulfilled. It appeals to my roots as a Native American and also my ideals as a Pagan. DO agrees and wants the same life.

I credit, and give thanks, to my Gods for helping me see this. For giving me the direction and space I needed to figure it out and for leading me to an afternoon spent on the bank of the river to find the focus to figure it out.

Blessings,
Wicked

Honoring the Dead

The man in the picture was my grandfather, my mother’s father.

He passed when I was in my late 20’s and not a day goes by that I don’t miss him.

He was an unusual man, with an unusual sense of humor, and an unusual outlook on life. I loved him very, very much.

He was always good to me, even when I didn’t deserve it and I tried to pay him back by caring for him when he became ill.

I spent countless nights on a hospital cot when my own family needed me at home, so he wouldn’t be alone. There was nothing I wouldn’t have done for him if I could have.

This is the time of year when I remember him most frequently and clearly.

When I think of trying to live my life in a way that would make someone proud, he is one of the first people to come to mind.

When I need help, advice, guidance, it’s his voice I long to hear most.

He was my Papa and I loved him more than words can say. When I think of honoring an ancestor, he is one that was truly worthy of honor.

Blessings,
Wicked

Winning the battle, not the war

That’s exactly how I’ve felt lately. Not exactly treading water, but not really getting anywhere either.

Oh sure, there are parts of my life that seem to be moving forward, even if only minutely. The blog is coming along and I’m occasionally enjoying real interaction with other bloggers.

The Etsy store, even though there’s not much to see at the moment, has hit a record number of views already this month.

Plans are in the works for new merchandise to be listed in the near future and the team that runs the shop, myself included, seem to be on the same page.

Finances are still a little rough, but we’re making it, and with a little more grace than we used to.

All of those things are going well, to varying degrees, and I’m thankful and blessed for each and every one.

Unfortunately, as important as all those are, and as much as I’m grateful that they’re progressing in a positive direction, there is an unseen battle I fight every day.

As some of you may be aware, I suffer from a handful of what they’re now calling “invisible illnesses”. Depression and anxiety being the top two, or at least the two I have to fight the hardest and most regularly.

You would think that with all I have to be grateful for, that there wouldn’t be any room for depression (I suppose anxiety is more understandable with starting a new business). I wish it worked that way.

Depression is often hard to understand, even by those of us who live with it daily. The truth is, I can’t always put a reason to my feelings, especially when so much seems to be going right. It seems silly, even to me, but sometimes -most of the time- it’s just there.

Last week was a rare good week. My spirits were high. I spent a lot of time at EQ’s house, which is rare in itself (I really am a home-body). I was focused and mostly happy.

This week, although it’s been a decent week so far (other than I randomly got sick last night for no apparent reason), has been harder. I don’t know why.

Last week felt like I didn’t even have to try really. The joy was just there. This week is feeling like “fake it till you make it”.

Used to, I didn’t blog, or even write, when I was depressed, or fighting with my depression, but I promised myself this time that I wouldn’t leave the crickets chirping here because of it. That even if all I could say was that I was struggling, that I’d say something. I’m keeping my word.

I realize no one wants to hear someone go on and on about things like this, but the truth is, depression is just as much a part of the woman behind this blog as anything else. It is what it is.

Tomorrow, or even later today, I might be fine. This time next week, I might be in the throws of a depression I can’t crawl out of.

All I know for sure is that for today, I’m fighting it. I may not never win the war, but at least I feel like there’s hope in winning the battle, and that’s something.

Blessings,
Wicked

Rebranding

This weekend has been about prep and planning. Although it will probably be sometime after the holidays before we really kick things up a notch with the Etsy store, I decided to do what I could to prep for it.

Yesterday, I discussed things with my sister and with my hubby and I decided a bit of rebranding was in order to keep things flowing and cut down on confusion (at least future confusion).

The blog has been gaining speed lately, which really makes me smile. Even though there’s not much there to look at yet, and we haven’t gotten an order, the Etsy store has had more views this month already than last month.

Like most bloggers who also craft, I plan to occasionally promote the store here and since it’s a big part of my life right now, I’ll be talking about it a lot, too.

One thing I’ve noticed in blogging lately though, is how everyone seems to have different names in different places. Honestly, it confuses the crap out of me and I never know if I’m looking at the same person’s work or not. I didn’t want that to happen here.

I don’t like feeling like I’m constantly switching identities for different things. It creates confusion for me and I’m bound to mess it up somehow. I decided I’d rather just have the one identity everywhere, and have everyone else have one identity, too.

I want the blog, Etsy store, twitter -everything- to carry over from one place to the other.

Now, a little back-story on Wickedly Evil Kreations.

WEK began as Wicked Vape, a Vape company my sister and I were building. We were unable to get a physical store-front, which is pretty necessary for that kind of business, and because of that, we decided to help out a brand new Vape store in our area and let that business go.

Honestly, we’re a family of crafters anyway.

I’d had an Etsy account set up for quite a while under Fae Kreations. I was making dream catchers and such and wanted to start an online store. I had too much going on back then to give it the love it deserved, so it sat empty and unused for a while. When we decided to let WV go, I talked to my hubby and sister about the Etsy store.

We’d gone through a lot of planning with WV and it seemed a shame to waste it. We decided to run with it. I renamed the store Wickedly Evil Kreations in honor of my sister and I joining forces to do it.

My sister and I (I was calling her Tiger here, but for the sake of that confusion I mentioned before, I’ll be calling her either The Evil Queen or EQ from now on) are really into the show Once Upon a Time. We, along with our husbands, identified with certain characters in the show. It was the inspiration for a lot of what we were doing with WV. Part of that was for each of us to take on names from the show for the business.

I identified with the Wicked Witch, my sister with the Evil Queen, my husband with The Dark One and her husband with Robinhood. Those were the names we took on for ourselves.

If you look on the Etsy store at who is listed there as crafters, you’ll see all of us.

Now, I’m bringing those names here, too.

When we really start rolling out products next year (it’s just too close to the holidays to get it together now), you’ll see a Once Upon Time/Disney them emerge in a lot of products. We call it our “Fantasy Line”.

So, now you’ll understand what’s going on around here, why names are changing, and who everyone is.

Hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend!

Blessings,
Wicked

Sunday Dump ~ Finding my way

This weekend, Draco is working again and so am I, but not in the way you might think.

This weekend, for me, is about self-awareness and self-improvement. Making a plan as the Mercury Retrograde disrupts ideas, concepts and behaviors that are no longer useful.

I’m finding the energy of this retrograde feels a little different. Samhain shifts me into my time of self-reflection. The retrograde energies make me aware of what’s not working. This all leads to feeling a need for some pampering, contemplation and, of course, writing.

As I watch summer fade into fall, I watch the colors burst and then die as if giving us one last hurrah. I feel the need to reflect this in my own life.

As Samhain approaches, I’m ready for my one last hurrah before winter sinks it’s icy grip on the world, stalling changes until after the Spring Equinox.

In spite of the retrograde energies, my spirit longs for that burst of change to prepare me for winter. Perhaps it’s these last-ditch changes that makes the winter more bearable.

I find as I deepen my connection with Hestia, my concept of the seasons, and life reflecting those seasons, is becoming more and more important to me.

It makes sense from a Domestic Witch perspective (working with the fruits and energies of the season is a big deal in the life of one who celebrates the Wheel with food, drink and decorations), but it’s more than that.

I’ve always loved and respected nature (Mother Nature). I’ve always felt connected to the earth, the energies of where I live, the changing of the seasons.

It’s been a hardship in my life to love nature so much and to be allergic to nearly everything about spring and summer. I find ways to reflect those energies in my home (open windows with screens until it’s too hot, fresh flowers, fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers, etc), but most Pagans will tell you, you can’t touch nature physically from inside the house. Still, I get by.

This year feels more intense, a change I can only credit to a deepening relationship with, and understanding of, deity.

I can feel Hestia moving even further into my life and changing even more about my life. The changes are good, but they’re leaving me feeling a little lost at what to do with myself. A feeling that I’m hoping will change.

As for right now, I’m just doing the best I can, trusting in her to lead me where I’m supposed to go.

Do you go through cycles that reflect the seasons in your life?

Blessings,
WW

Samhain Ghost Stories ~ Living in a Haunted House 1

Many years ago, my mother and step-father rented a house. Witchlet and I spent the night with them once, sleeping on a pallet in the living room. They had already told me of strange happenings in the house, and I had a few experiences that night, but nothing overly spectacular (noises mostly…the covers got pulled off us once but in a playful way).

When they moved out, Draco and I moved in. It really was a nice house.

It didn’t take us long to realize that the activity was either much more severe than they’d let on, or it got worse when we moved in.

It started with what they’d talked about. Noises coming from the kitchen, like someone was in there bumping around going about their business, when no one was in there. The pantry door would not stay closed even if you propped something against it, things like that. It was all pretty mild. For a while.

I think it was about two months after we moved in when things really started happening.

I awoke in the middle of the night, at 2:30 am on the dot. I generally slept with my back to the door, curled up to Draco. This night, and the few nights that followed, were no different, although I continued to come fully awake at 2:30 am for no apparent reason.

Several days into this pattern, I awoke, again at 2:30 am, but this time, I’d turned over sometime in the night and was facing the door.

As I opened my eyes, I was looking straight into the hall, and saw a woman in a white gown walking quickly past the door headed towards the kitchen.

Convinced there was an intruder in the house, I woke Draco and together we checked the entire house, every door and window. There was no sign that anyone had been in the house other than us.

I continued waking at 2:30 am, this time, deliberately going to sleep facing the door, and every time I awoke, I saw the same woman walk past our door. Every time, I got up and went after her only to discover an empty kitchen and quiet house.

About 4 months after we moved in, I was raking leaves in the yard when I saw our neighbor across the street, an older man about the age of my parents, watching me. He looked indecisive in some way I can’t describe, so I raised my hand in greeting. He slowly, almost reluctantly it seemed, walked across the street to where I was.

He seemed uncomfortable as he introduced himself, asking the usual questions new neighbors will ask, making small talk. I could tell something was on his mind, but I decided to let the situation play out and let him get to it in his own time, figuring he had some sort of neighborly complaint or perhaps wanted to borrow something.

He soon steered the conversation in the direction he was headed, asking how we liked living there, had we known the previous tenets because there was more than a passing resemblance between my mother, daughter and myself. I said I did and that it was my parents and little brother.

He said he’d been real surprised that they’d lived there as long as they had and that someone they knew had moved in after them.

“Folks don’t usually stay long in that house anymore”, he said, “used to be a real nice house. My best friend and his wife raised their family there, but of course, they’re long gone now. Nobody’s lived there long since except you and your folks. I’ve heard tell of some strange things going on over there. You noticed anything out of the ordinary?”

I admitted that I had, in fact, noticed some things and asked him what he knew.

He said that things were fine there, as far as he knew, for a long time. Nothing strange, that he’d ever heard, happened until right before his friend passed away. That was when the strange things started.

He said his friend had never been a drinker, not in all the years he’d known him, but he got up one night to get something to drink and noticed the light on in the garage. This was unusual. It was the middle of the night and his friend had never been up that late before. Worried someone had broken into their garage, he came over to check it out and found his friend with a bottle of whiskey, acting strange. Talking strange. He said his friend was going on about something he’d put up in the house and couldn’t find and when he suggested maybe he should go on to bed and sleep it off, his friend got mad and practically ran him off.

Apparently,  according to my neighbor, they’d been friends a long time and never had a hard word between them in all those years. He went home confused and more than a little hurt, intending to give him a few days to cool off and then going to talk to him.

A few nights later, he said, he woke up to sirens and the flicker of flames in the kitchen window.

He said he found out later from his friends wife, that he’d been acting very strange, going on and on about something he couldn’t find. He claimed to have hidden something in the kitchen pantry and was convinced it’d been taken by someone.

They were an older couple, his wife feared his mind was going. There was nothing, that she knew of, ever hidden in the pantry, but he became obsessed about it, going through every drawer, every cabinet, in search of it. He would never say what it was.

The man was taken to the hospital that night, still raving, and died a few days later. The wife followed shortly behind her husband.

According to my neighbor’s account of the wife’s story, the night of the fire, she’d been sleep in their room. The house had been remodeled after their passing and the master bedroom had been the room at the end of the hall. Our room, had actually been two smaller bedrooms. The adjoining wall had been removed and one of the doors closed off.

She’d awaken to noises in the kitchen and had hurried down the hall to see what was going on. Her husband had been in a state, tearing the kitchen apart as flames flickered in the sink threatening to catch the curtains and wall on fire. She’d called 911 but couldn’t calm her husband. Because of his agitated state and the fact that he’d started a fire, police and paramedics agreed to take him to the hospital for observation. He never came home.

The wife was overcome with guilt that she’d let them take him and that he’d died.

Other tenants had claimed to hear noises in the kitchen, complained of the pantry door refusing to stay shut and seeing a woman in a white nightgown hurrying down the hall at 2:30 am exactly, the time of the fire.

It was thought that the noises and her spirit was what is considered a residual haunting, where a particular event plays over and over like it’s on loop. These events are usually believed to have been tragic or traumatic in some way and have left an “energy imprint” on a place.

I believe that what I witnessed each night was simply a wife trying to save the man she loved from himself, hoping each time, for a different outcome.

As far as I know, the house still stands, activity continues and the landlord still finds it hard to keep tenants for very long. Last I heard, my family was the longest tenants he’s had.

While the story of the husband and wife was certainly the most frequent activity in the house, it was not the only activity we experienced while we lived there. I

I will tell other stories of this house and other haunted houses we’ve lived in (we seem to be attracted to haunted houses…or they’re attracted to us…), as well as some I’ve heard, throughout October. I’ve never written down my paranormal experiences before, so this is something new. I’ll tag them as Ghost Stories for those interested in reading them all.

Wishing you all a spooky Samhain Season.

Blessings,
WW