The Wandering Hearthweaver

If I were someone who was given to metaphors, and I am, I would liken the experience of ordination to that of a snow globe; the various bits and pieces and glittery things that have been floating around in here were shaken up and swirled around, and all those little flecks are each settling and re-settling at their own pace. It’s been just over a month since I Did The Thing, and just in the past week have I started to feel some of the bigger pieces begin to settle.

As part of my service to myself, my community, and to the world, I have publicly dedicated to two deities: Hestia, the Greek goddess of the hearth, and Beiwe, the Sami reindeer mother and sun goddess. My relationship with both of these entities has deepened and grown stronger over my year of initiatory work (and indeed I have discovered they have both been with me for far longer than I knew), but having completed the rites and rituals to solidify my connection to them has been a whole other level!

Learning to navigate the ebb and flow of these two personalities who now reside solidly in my head has been and continues to be a rewarding challenge. Hestia and Beiwe have many things in common, and I experience their energies in similar ways, but the new emotion I have been struggling with the most is a newfound urge to wander.

I have always been a homebody, content to stay in and tend to my home and my family; I’ve enjoyed the travels I’ve been on, but I have always eager to return home. This new pull, though, it has a wild, untamed edge. I go for long, rambling walks. I stop and stare at things which flash and flit at the edge of my vision. I get distracted from a family Easter egg hunt and spend two hours visiting the local land spirits and making myself at home with them. This new pull frightens me a little.

Like many things, this fear is likely grounded in my desire to not lose or change my connection with my lady Hestia; if I follow Beiwe’s call and go off into the land, who will tend the fires? Who will keep the wards maintained? Will I still be welcomed back at the fire when I return? Hestia’s answer to this, of course, is simply “yes”, but while my brain may hear this my heart does not yet.

The truth She is slowly revealing to me is that the hearth is not a singular place; the hearth and the hearth fire is what you carry with you into the world.

It is the quiet strength of the warder, who works to keep sacred space safe.
It is the compassion of a smile given to someone who is out on the streets.
It is the warmth of a care package, delivered to a loved one who is ill.
It is an open ear, and a kind word, and a hard truth delivered with love.
It is the ability to create and tend the hearth where the hearth is most needed.

And so, my friends, the time has come to trust in my training and give in to this wild wilfulness. In a few days, I will be packing up my car and heading on a grand adventure north! My final destination is Portland and the newest location of The Sacred Well, but along the way I will be making a stop to visit my beloved teacher and friend Yeshe Matthews for a day of Deer Mother work and much-needed socializing. I cannot wait!

Not to worry, my friends and loved ones in the Silicon Valley, this is not a permanent adventure! When I return I hope to bring stories and laughter and late-night magic, and perhaps a song or two. If you wish to follow along on my adventures, check in on my Instagram feed! I’ll be sharing photos and videos of my travels there, using the hashtag #TheWanderingHearthweaver. I look forward to sharing my discoveries with you!

When a female reindeer senses it is time to give birth, she calls the others in her herd to her and leads them to a space where it is safe to bring new life into the world. Oh my Great Mother, please show me the way.

In Joyful Service,
Kitsune

Spring Cleaning

Hello again, and happy spring to my friends in the Northern Hemisphere! I emerge again from my anxious cocoon with the joyous news that my year of training is complete; I am officially ordained! I would like to re-introduce myself to you all as:

Kitsune Hearthweaver,
Priestx of the Everyday Sacred

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 I’ll be doing a little housekeeping around here to reflect this next phase of my journey, so stay tuned. My plan is to add a page for me to share the makers and craftspeople whose work I support and whose teachings have been valuable to my own work; now is a great time to let me know what else you want to see from Tales of the Fox!

While I think I am “back”, so to speak, I can’t promise any particular posting schedule; I would like to be around here more frequently as I shake off the cobwebs and start to settle back into my voice after the intense and life-changing journey that the path to ordination has been. If you’d like to hear from me, please reach out! I am quite active on Instagram, and I will soon be adding a “contact me” option to my About page (edit: Contact Me page is now live!). Let’s connect!

The fertile earth is waking up, and little green things are starting to stir. I like to take this day to strip all the beds in our house and wash or air out all our bedding, and if the weather allows open as many doors and windows as I can. Do you do anything in particular to celebrate the changing of the seasons?

In Joyful Service,
Kitsune Hearthweaver

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The Reindeer Goddess by Judith Shaw

Reindeer are very close to my heart, as a Scandinavian Pagan who has some Sami ancestry through my mother’s bloodline. Judith Shaw wrote this wonderful article on the Reindeer Goddess in some of her forms, which you all may enjoy as well. Blessed be the Reindeer Mother!

Judith Shaw photoWinter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere is the day of the least daylight and the longest night. Long before Christmas our Northern European ancestors celebrated the Winter Solstice, the moment that heralds the return of the sun and with it the promise of new life in spring. Without the comforts offered by modern technology, this time of year must have raised fears in the hearts of our ancestors; fear that the sun would not return to its summer glory, fear that there would not be enough food for the winter, fears that surface most easily in the dark. A celebration of light would have been most welcome and needed.

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I will do my best.

Like many others, I have been at a loss for words these past few days. Anything less than an incoherent scream of rage and grief felt like cheap platitudes.

But while I was going through my morning rituals today, I finally thought of something.

I have been a Girl Scout (or a Girl Guide, for those outside the US) for nearly my entire life. I believe strongly in the mission of the Girl Scouts of America, and in teaching girls of all kinds the skills to help them be brave, resilient, kind, ass-kicking feminists. I learned first aid skills (which has helped me be a first responder at two motorcycle accidents) and marched in anti-war protests. I learned to sew my own clothes, to start fires, to tie knots. I credit the guidance and leadership I received with helping me become the person I am today.

Below is the text of the Girl Scout Law, the first oath I took in service to my community and one I still hold dear. I’m a little less keen on the “respect authority” part than I used to be, but it’s a reminder of who built me up, and that I can always do better.

I will do my best to be:
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,

and to:
respect myself and others,
respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.

I will do my best.

In Joyful Service,
Kitsune

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Kitsune in the News!

Earlier today, I saw that part of my post on beginning my work with Hestia was quoted in The Wild Hunt’s “Pagan Voices” column! I am beyond flattered that my work was chosen to be featured, and it warms my heart to know that what I wrote resonated with someone else out there. An especially big thank you goes to the author of the column, who used the correct pronouns for me!

It also amuses and delights me that the post I wrote about being an introvert is the post they chose to quote. 🙂

In Joyful Service,
Kitsune

Cleaning Up! Spellwork Hygiene 101

Just about every “Intro to Witchcraft” tome out there covers the basic structure of setting up a ritual space; a container of sorts for you to do your workings in which is relatively safe for you and whomever else may be practicing with you. For many Pagans, that will include things like casting a circle, calling in the directions, calling in the Ancestors, and so on.

Most of these resources also include instructions for how to take this space back down again (I have Very Strong Opinions about the ones that tell you how to construct or summon things, but not how to make them go away again), but I have noticed that not as many of them give you guidance about what to do with the physical materials that are left over once a ritual or a spell is done. I feel this is something of an oversight, as the flowers and the water and the food offerings and the candle wax and so on are all still imbued with that lovely energy you poured into them, and to merely throw them out seems like a missed opportunity to me!

The following list contains some ideas for the cleaning up of spell components, more or less based on how I do things. If something else feels more appropriate to you, then by all means please do that! The important thing here is that you take a moment to consider what you think would best serve the intent that you are working towards.

Some General Considerations

  • The first thing I consider is the scope of the working. Am I performing this spell for a specific person, or is this a more general “my community needs more of this thing” scope?
  • If I have performed a spell for a specific person: Carefully gather up what remains of the components and give them to that person, usually contained in a scrap or fabric or a box, with instructions on what to do with said materials when they feel it is time to dispose of them.
  • If I have performed a spell for myself: Ditto the above.
  • If the working did not have a specific target: Depending on the intent of the working it may be useful to save things like candle wax to use again at a later date, for an extra energy boost.
  • I tend to do a lot of my candle spells while I am relaxing in the bathtub. If you are like me in this regard, it may be prudent to consider the order in which the bath is drawn and the candles are lit, and vice versa. Do you want some of your magic to go down the drain with your bathwater? Sometimes the answer is definitely yes! For general spells, I drain my bath water while the candle is still burning and then extinguish the candle once the bath is empty.

Some More Specific Suggestions

  • For rituals that have included food or drink offerings: if there is enough left to share with the living, by all means eat it! Witchcraft is hungry work, and many of us are very good cooks.
  • For intents involving drawing something to the person (a new job, a raise, new love): the “target” of the spell should keep the materials with them until they feel the spell has had its intended effect. This doesn’t have to be on their person, per se, but it should be somewhere safe.
  • For intents involving pushing something away (keep-away, discouraging street harassment, assistance with a difficult breakup): dispose of the leftover components in or near running water, if you can. If it’s safe to do so, flushing it down the toilet or putting it down the garbage disposal works a treat!
  • For intents involving a little help in the bedroom, for sex and/or baby-making: keep whatever you have worked up under your pillow or mattress, or in your nightstand if you have one.
  • For cleaning out containers that held candles, incense, salves, etc: wash or soak in a saltwater solution, then wash with regular old soap and water.
  • For sigils, or other magical writings: for “one-time use” sigils, I usually burn them in order to activate them. Once they have been completely burned up, I consider the ashes to be effectively null. For items that have seen longer-term use, I follow the “wash with saltwater, then the stain remover of your choice” method detailed above.

I hope some of these ideas are useful to you, or are getting you thinking about the habits you’ve built for yourself if you have a more established practice. Please add your own ideas in the comments– I would love to hear about your own process!

In Joyful Service,
Kitsune

Fire and Air, Fire and Air

(For everyone else who grew up listening to Libana tapes in the car, you’re welcome for that earworm.)

The Air quarter has drawn to a close for my Initiate siblings and I, but I think my work with Guanyin is just beginning. She has brought me a tremendous amount of peace, during a time in my life where I desperately need that. She has taught me patience, and compassion, and the value of gentle silence (as someone who always has the radio on while they’re driving, that one took me a while).

Of the other deities I have worked with in the past, my relationship with Her has been unique. My patron deities thus far have been loud, brash, warrior types– Oya and Xango, for instance. But Guanyin’s presence has been so soft and so gentle that I almost didn’t realize that She was there at first. She sits right behind my heart, and simply… radiates. I have yet to hear Her speak in actual words. The boundless quality of Her love drives me to my knees and moves me to tears. I am humbled and inspired by it, and I hope to learn from Her for many months to come.

This patience and compassion has been a vital tool for me as we moved into the month of July, and into the quarter of Fire. This has historically been the portion of the Initiate cycle where things start to get really hard for everyone. We are weary and heart-sore after half a year of diving into our shadow selves. We have served on numerous rituals, and have been asked to take on bigger and more important roles in our community. I feel like I am racing to keep up with my own calendar, and I find myself not wanting to make plans with anyone for fear of double-booking myself. To that end, when the time came to choose our deity for Fire the first presence to step up and knock on my door was Hestia.

I am deeply introverted. I crave time to myself, in a place where I feel safe, in order to recharge my social batteries. My home is my sanctuary. In a time of my training where I am feeling desperately out of control, it should not be a shock that a hearth goddess made herself known to me!

I believe deeply in the importance of sanctuary and safer spaces, and of keeping the hearth fires burning. I am grateful for the times I have been able to open my home to members of my community who needed a quiet space, a friendly ear, or an offer to put the kettle on (as we say in my family, “if tea cannot fix it, then it is a serious problem indeed”). If you need someone to sit with you in companionable silence, I’m your fox.

I may not be the person who is out marching in the streets, but I can be here to care for the ones who are.

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What, doesn’t everyone do spellwork in the bathroom?

In Joyful Service,
Kitsune