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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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

Edible Book Report: “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”

I have been swimming in books.

Initiate year has been like being in school part-time, and with that comes lots and lots of books. Our Hive has a set of assigned titles that we all have to read and discuss through the years (the current one is… a bit of a slog), and in addition to that we have to complete an independent study of sorts, picked from a book list curated by current and former members of the CAYA clergy. I love this book list and all its diverse eclectic offerings– it was so hard to narrow down my choices! I will be returning to is over and over as I continue my studies, I’m sure.

The first book I picked was Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages and ages, so I was delighted to have a compelling reason to sit down with it. If you enjoy books like The Omnivore’s Dilemma, this is definitely the book for you. Kingsolver’s memoir of sorts chronicles her family’s year-long experiment to only eat what they themselves could grow or buy from other local farmers, eating only what was in season or had been preserved from earlier harvests. It’s a celebration of getting back to working the earth, to getting back in touch with the cycles of growing things, and of being mindful of where our food comes from and the impact that has on the environment. It’s also packed with lots of beautiful recipes!

At times it comes across as being a little too self-congratulatory, especially in earlier chapters, but as the family starts to settle in to this experiment so does Kingsolver’s writing. It’s a fairly easy read, and gentle in most places; I read nearly the whole thing while on a trip to the East Coast last month, and it’s a perfect vacation read. There are lots of resources, both in the book and on the book’s website, for helping readers get started on their own food journeys; I particularly liked this website on urban gardening. It left me with a hunger for more involvement in how my food gets to my pantry, and a renewed interest in starting to grow some of my own food.

Knowing my own tendency to jump into projects head-first, I’m trying to start small; while my mother is an incredibly accomplished gardener, I… did not inherit her talents (by which I mean I kill succulents). Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is packed full of recipes for all the growing seasons, and in particular a recipe for blackberry basil crumble caught my eye. I adore both of those things! Blackberries would be easy to forage, either from local wild spaces or from a kind friend or two, so knowing that I would want to make this dish for my beloved Hive at some point I bought a wee basil plant for my kitchen windowsill. As you can see, it didn’t stay wee for long:

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I’ve manage to keep my little green friend alive for nearly a month now, which I think might be a new record. I adore being able to grab a few leaves off it when I want a pop of something fresh and green, and the smell of fresh basil is one of my absolute most favorite scents in the world. If this continues to go well, I may even be brave enough to try growing something *gasp* outside.

And as for that crumble I mentioned, it was a huge hit. There were no leftovers, aside from some blackberry juice that got spilled on my passenger seat. I made a few modifications to the recipe, mostly due to the fact that I had to go gluten-free a few years ago; if you would like to try it for yourself, here you go!

Blackberry Basil Crumble (modified from Animal Vegetable Miracle’s recipe)

Filling
2-3 apples, chopped (I used a sweeter variety, to balance the tartness of the blackberries)
2 pints blackberries
2tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 large handful of basil leaves, chopped
1/4 honey, to taste (you may want to add a little more, depending on the sweetness of your berries and apples)
To make this recipe vegan, swap out the honey for another sweetener. I think this would be marvelous with maple syrup, for example.

Crumble Topping
2 cups gluten-free oats
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
4tbsp cooking fat of your choice– I’ve made this topping with both butter and coconut oil, and both have worked beautifully

Preheat your oven to 400ºF (~205ºC). Combine the filling ingredients in an oven-proof casserole dish, mix, and set aside. In a separate bowl, add your topping ingredients and gently mix until a loose, crumbly mixture forms. Spread the topping on the fruit mixture, bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly and brown and your whole house smells like summer.

As written, the recipe fed 8 hungry witches. We served it with big, gorgeous dollops of fresh whipped cream, and I suspect it would be phenomenal with really good vanilla ice cream too.

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In Joyful Service,
Kitsune

Swords, First Dates, and Freeway Overpasses

(I promise these things are related. Stay with me here.)

Two weeks ago, at our April Initiate meeting, our initiator asked us, “what can you tell me about Air?”.

An array of answers tumbled out of our mouths. The element we invoke when we invoke East. Clarity. Strength. Flexibility. Decisiveness. The suite of Swords, in the Rider-Waite tarot (my favorite of the four suites, but that’s another post for another day).

Then, an even more interesting question. What were some deities we associated with air?

This was where our answers started to diverge. We spanned many pantheons, and many cultures. Oya. Skaði. The Morríghan. Hermes. Brigid. Hecate. Some names sprang to the tongue immediately, while others came later.

As we were thinking, our initiator told us that for the next few months we would be exploring a relationship with one of these deities through the connection of this element. My Hivemates and I all froze, and locked wide eyes with each other. This was the first real bit of Serious Working we had been asked to do as part of our training year. Some of us have established devotional relationships with various deities, while some of us direct our magical workings toward a larger concept (“Goddess” versus a particular goddess, for example). None of us really had any experience with directly courting a deity to see if they were interested in pursuing a relationship; as is often the case, Deity found us rather than the other way around.

Once our initial moment of panic subsided, we talked about it. We might have an idea for who we want to learn more about, but while casting around for a particular power it’s important not to miss any signs that might already be in your life. Look for confirmations or clues; there might be Someone or Something already knocking on your magical front door. Exploring this new relationship is like any other first date: if you don’t like what you’re seeing or hearing, you are totally within your rights to get up and leave. You can say “no”. This is not an ordination or a marriage contract; we’re not swearing any kinds of vows here.

We all left class with a lot to chew on. One of my Hivemates knew immediately who she wanted to work with, and got right to it. Another thought she knew too, but wound up taking a different direction. I left with a tentative idea that pursuing a deeper relationship with Guanyin (or Quan Yin, as it’s often spelled) might be to my benefit; I can certainly use more compassion in my life, and I have been struggling fiercely with my anxiety these past few weeks.

Within a few days of this assignment, I found myself feeling… hmm, somewhat desaturated? I do not mean this in a negative light, but rather like the volume of everything has been turned down to a more manageable level. Like I had been surrounded by eye-searing neons, but now found myself wrapped in softer, more dusky colors (which have long been some of my favorites, being the hues easiest to achieve with botanical dyes). My sleep has started to improve– I’m falling asleep faster, and I’m sleeping more deeply. I found some new clarity in a particular kata sequence I had been struggling with in my Shotokan practice.

I was thinking about all these things while I was walking to my car earlier this week. The building where I work doesn’t have enough parking for everyone, so I park my car in an offsite lot and walk a few blocks to and from the office, a practice I have really come to enjoy. Along this route I have to walk along an overpass spanning a very busy freeway, and I often stop for a minute to look down at all the cars whizzing past and to enjoy the rush of air that comes from all that motion.

Finding a moment of stillness and centering while all that air rushes over me, tugging at my jacket, my hair, a little piece of my soul.

…all that Air.

Okay, I think I can recognize an omen when I see one. I don’t yet know what form this work will take, or where it’s going, but I’m certainly interested in continuing to pursue this teaching if I’m already feeling calmer and more centered.

Guanshiyin, She Who Hears the Cries of the World,  I’m listening.

In Joyful Service,
Kitsune

PantheaCon Whirlwind!

Like many of the other Pagans I know, I’ve been spending the last few days frantically trying to get all my things together for PantheaCon 2016 (I’ve also been sick, but thankfully I got that out of the way before con). It feels like my packing lists have packing lists at this point!

While I am not on the official schedule of events (I work behind the scenes of the con itself, making the magic happen as part of the Convention Operations (ConOps) team), CAYA is putting on a number of rituals and workshops that are shaping up to be really something. If you are interested in knowing what sorts of magical mischief we’ll be getting up to, my CAYA sister Wishbringer Molly Blue Dawn has put together this terrific schedule of events that CAYA is putting on, sponsoring, or being a part of. I hope to see some of you there, when I’m not busy performing my volunteer duties!

Of particular interest to me this year is that there will be ribbons available at the Info Desk that allow you to declare your pronouns, if you so desire! Since this is a first run at it, the options are limited to “She/Her”, “He/Him”, “They/Them”, “Ask Me”, and a blank ribbon where you can write in your own, and the staff asks that you only take one ribbon per person as the numbers are limited. We’ve had these available at another convention I work for the last two years, and they’ve gone over very well. Kudos to my fellow PCon staffers for working to make this available this year!

I want to encourage my cisgender readers to wear the ribbon with your pronouns on them, in solidarity with your fellow Pagans who are trans and/or non-binary. I dream of a world where it’s normal to introduce yourself with your name and your pronouns, and making that dream a reality starts with you.

This year’s theme of the convention is “Change Makers”. I am incredibly excited to see how this theme weaves itself into the magic and the laughter and the late-night conversations that fill this weekend every year. It looks like it’s shaping up to be something really special.

In Joyful (but hectic) Service,
Kitsune

It Lives!

Well, it looks like my first post went through okay, so here we are.

Welcome to Tales of the Fox! My name is Kitsune (or Kit, if you like), and this little nest of mine is my second or third crack at blogging. I would love to say that I’ll be posting on a set schedule, but the truth is if I start there I will either not follow through or stress myself out way too much trying to keep to that schedule, and that’s no fun for anyone.

A little about me: I’m a genderqueer witch born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, currently making my home in the Silicon Valley. I am, among other things, a knitter, a student of the martial arts, an amateur tarot reader, and a trained linguist; I have undergraduate degrees in linguistics and computer science from UC Santa Cruz (go Slugs!). My pronouns are they/them/theirs, and if you don’t like that much I invite you to do some more research on use of the singular “they” through the history of the English language.

I started this blog because at the end of January I began my year and a day of training as an Initiate in CAYA Coven‘s Wildflower tradition; if all goes well and I complete that which has been asked of me, I will be ordained as a Priestx (that’s pronounced “pree-sticks”, or /pɹɪstiks/ for those of you who can read IPA) in the Spring of 2017. I wanted a space of my own to talk about an assortment of things relating to both my journey through this training year and life in general.

Ideally I would like to post here at least once a month, to coincide with whatever topic my Initiate work is focusing on that month. We’ll how how that plays out! Whatever comes of this, I’m sure it will be an interesting ride!

In Joyful Service,
Kitsune