Jesus is a Liberal Democrat

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The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Jesus Is a Liberal Democrat
http://www.colbertnation.com/
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>March to Keep Fear Alive

11th Night

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Summit's Winter Investiture, or 11th Night, was an incredibly emotional experience, more so than I had anticipated. Let me preface this by saying that I worked a graveyard shift, drove 45 minutes to Salem, and then on to Roseburg. I ultimately had been awake for approximately 31 hours straight. Coincidentally, it is inadvisable to consume more than two energy drinks in a 24 hour period. Also, I am extremely grateful to Rhieinwylydd Verch Einion Llanaelhaearn for loaning the use of her hotel room to shower and change out of scrubs before dragging me off to heraldric activities.
Most attendees had been playing for some time, so in some ways it was like being the new girlfriend of a socially awkward cousin at a family reunion, only without the significant other. But once the initial social anxiety of so many people crammed into a cement-floored enclosure wore off, it was easier to realize how many friends I had made in my first year of actively playing and how grateful I was to be able to come and celebrate. In a way, it was like a combination of all the holidays of the season.
While most courts on a smaller scale can be really fun (if you've ever witnessed the awarding of a Baronial Brownie, you know what I mean), extended formal ceremonies can be tedious due to the length, lack of amplification (especially if you're in the back), and people you only know via wordfame. This one really got to me, and not because of the lack of sleep, either.
When I first began playing, I camped with fringies who would never be caught dead at any organized activity at an event that wasn't a party. They told me that court was boring and there's no point in going since you have to "suck up to the right people" in order to get recognized (they also neglected to mention that you end up knowing people in offices by getting involved). And all people in offices are obsessed with status and will look down their nose at you for being a newbie, not having an award, etc., regardless of their personality and previous predisposition to arrogance. I took their advice, not realizing that I was missing out on receiving a newbie necklace.
There is a tradition, at least in An Tir, that newbies at their first event receive a token from Their Highnesses, usually coins stamped for their Coronation. During their reign, Viscount Gabriel Luveday and Viscountess Sumayya min Yibna gave out necklaces of silver spirals suspended from silver roses separated from the central figure of a silver elephant by red and blue beads. The theory being that gentles recognizing them can help guide and encourage the wearer.
While witnessing Their Alpine Highnesses' stepping down ceremony, I realized that they really blew all the misconceptions I had been told out of the water. She took genuine pride and joy in giving awards, embracing newbies, and generally welcoming any and all she met. (That is not to say that Gabriel was any less approachable, just that he is much less eloquent in formal settings). They really embodied everything that I came to learn that the SCA could be: gracious, warm, and inclusive. By shattering my preconceived notions, they helped to create a lifelong member as well as a retinue member for Prince Durin and Princess Ceridwen's fourth reign.
In the aftermath of court, I approached Sumayya, who took the time to listen to me try to communicate all this. Later, I commented to Lady Elizabeth Turner de Carlisle that I wished I had, had gotten a newbie necklace because now it meant more to me than a bauble. She resolved the situation by yelling, "Hey, Sumayya, you have any more necklaces? She never got one!"
Ahhh, friends.

Roman caligae

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That's "caligae", not "Caligula." Here's a short description with pictures of my friend's experiment in shoemaking for his Roman legionnaire persona.

How to Paganize your Solstice

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Luckily, most decorations associated with Christmas are Pagan in origin.
Evergreen boughs remind us that nothing ever truly dies, and can easily be spruced up (pun intended) with holly berries for the Holly King. Wrap them around stairways, mantles, and windows. Don't forget a wreath for the front door for the Wheel of the Year. Ivy is another greenery that you can festoon your home with for fertility in the coming year. Speaking of fertility, don't forget your mistletoe!
Make a Pagan nativity scene (I really want to do this, but don't have time this year. Maybe next).
Candles everywhere! You'll most likely be making and blessing new ones for Imbolc, anyway, so why not use up the old ones? It's dark and dreary, and what better way to celebrate the festival of light? However, do use common sense and only burn them in containers in safe places out of the reach of children, pets, and other gremlins. Traditionally the colours would be red, green, white, blue, silver, or gold, but you can use any you like. For extra light, put them in front of mirrors and/or windows.
Display your Yule log before burning it.
Hang bells everywhere, especially on doors, for good fortune.
Santa Claus is Pagan in origin, and I prefer the traditional type of Father Christmas in the robes. Although I would recommend leaving out the modern concept of elves out of respect for the fae.
Don't forget potpourri! Cinnamon and pine scents are long-lasting, inexpensive, and festive.
Now for the easiest and hardest part, the tree. There are some commercial ornaments out there, but they can be fairly expensive and/or poorly made. Many of them I look at and think, "I can make that." If you are crafty, you can make your own ornaments.

Santa Claus is Pagan, Too

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A cute song about the cognitive dissonance of the Christianized Santa. This particular video has some kernels of information, if you can look past the grammar and spelling errors.

Holiday vs. Christmas

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Here is a list of common stores and companies that use "Holiday" and those that say "Christmas." Hopefully, you can support local businesses instead of big box stores, but not all of us can afford to, especially in this economy. They are categorized according to their websites, as I don't watch nearly as much live TV as I used to (oh TiVo, how I love thee).
Christmas
Crate and Barrel (see Home Depot)
Home Depot tries to trick you with a Holiday section divided into Christmas or Hanukkah
K-Mart (second year in a row, at least that I know of)
Sears
Target
Wal-Mart (no surprise there)
Can't Make Up Their Minds
Amazon, only mention of any holiday is for shipping by Christmas
Big Lots
Fred Meyer, main page has Holiday but ads and products all say Christmas
Frye's, no mention of anything, not even Winter
JC Penney, uses both
Nordstrom, one instance of Christmas and then tries to use Winter everywhere else
Office Depot, no mention of anything, not even Winter
Ross, one instance of Winter
Winco, tries to use Holiday but reverts to Christmas
Holiday
Barnes and Noble (but Powell's is better)
Best Buy
Borders (Powell's is much more betterer)
Kohl's, primarily Holiday with a Christmas Sale
Petco (hey, even our familiars need gifts)
Powell's, but we already knew they're awesome

It's that time of year again...

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To bust out the Solstice Carols! My favourite site is Willow Firesong's because there are so many, and they aren't anywhere near as bad as my recent filk attempt.

Outrage of the Day: Priest Orders a Hit on Abuse Victim

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"A Catholic priest, facing criminal charges and a lawsuit alleging that he sexually abused a teenage boy, is now charged with attempting to hire someone to kill the youth, authorities said Tuesday."

It sounds like a bad Lifetime movie, although the term "bad Lifetime movie" is a bit redundant.

How Do You Afford Your Medieval Lifestyle Filk

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This has probably been done before, but I though I'd try my hand at it. To the tune of Cake's "Rock 'n Roll Lifestyle." This is my first ever filk, and I can only play the radio... badly.

"Well, your rapier collection looks shiny and costly.
How much did you pay for your custom made épée?
And how much did you spend on your new arming jacket?
Is it you or your lady in this income tax bracket?

Now tickets to Pennsic and drinking in camps,
Sometimes for events that you haven't even heard of,
And how much did you pay for your Estrella War shirt
That proves you were there, that you heard of it first?

How do you afford your medieval lifestyle?
How do you afford your medieval lifestyle?
How do you afford your medieval lifestyle?
Hark, oye.

How much did you pay for the pig-face bascinet,
The one he ruthlessly smashed at the end of the war?
And how much will he pay for a brand new gauntlet?
One which you'll ruthlessly smash at the end of another war.
And how long will the merchants keep forging you new ones?
As long as their tankards are pewter, glass, or wood ones.

Aging silver duct tape on old guisarmes,
Dozens of favours and award of arms,
Your poor knees pay dearly now for tourney magic moments
But fight on soothfully with some brand new components.

How do you afford your medieval lifestyle?
How do you afford your medieval lifestyle?
How do you afford your medieval lifestyle?"

Outrage of the Day: Lesbians Barred From Graduating

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"Two female high school students in Oklahoma are firing back at their school for refusing to let them graduate after discovering the two are a couple.

According to KWTV News, 18-year-old Melissa McKenzie said she was kicked out of Del City High School in Del City, Okla., at the beginning of the semester when the principal found out she was living with her girlfriend instead of her family. The principal then told her if she returned to her family's home, she would be welcomed back to school."
Fun fact, a commenter on The Advocate left contact information for Del City school administrators. Copied and pasted for your pleasure:

Principal Gina Hill Main Office (405)677-5777 extension: 129 ghill@mid-del.k12.ok.us 1st

Assistant Principal - Seniors Main Office (405)677-5777 extension: 128 jbenardello@mid-del.k12.ok.us

Assistant Principal Philip Crawford - Juniors South Office (405)677-5777 extension: 135 pcrawford@mid-del.k12.ok.us

Assistant Principal Leslie Berger - Sophomores Sophomore Office (405)677-5777 lberger@mid-del.k12.ok.us

Academic Assistant Principal Robert Gilstrap Academic Coach Office (405)677-5777 extension:140 rgilstrap@mid-del.k12.ok.us

Assistant Principal Danette Hall - Freshmen Freshmen Office (405)677-5777 dhall@mid-del.k12.ok.us

Arts and Sciences Social Day in Adiantum, An Tir

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For those of you in Oregon's Willamette Valley, Adiantum is hosting an Arts and Sciences Social Day this Saturday at the Santa Clara Church of Christ from 10 am to 5 pm.
Brigit of Guernsey is holding one of her fabulous dye workshops, starting at 11. If you ever have an opportunity to dye with her, do it! I met her at the Underwear Party (no, not that kind. Get your mind out of the gutter). It was my first ever A&S Day, and I was focusing on making my underwear and playing with Idonia's spinning wheel, rather than the other classes. Towards the end of the day, she shoved a skein of wool at me and told me to go dye it. I looked at her in confusion and sheepishly admitted that I did not have any cash on me for her materials fee. She said not to worry about it because she couldn't bear seeing the rest of the dye go to waste. As a newbie, I was thrilled with her generosity and willingness to drag shy folk along to play with wool and boiling pots.
Idonia is teaching a class on veils with handrolled hems from 1-2 pm. Considering the abominable attempts I've made, I'm going to take it. She is marvelously patient and knowledgeable, which are invaluable qualities in an A&S Minister. Heck, she puts up with me when I seem to forget how to do fingerloop braiding and has to reteach me at every single event.
Then there's dancing, which is nowhere near as difficult as it may appear. Every event that I have been to that has had dancing has had at least an instruction period for newcomers and those who need a refresher. Not to mention that partners and neighbours are more than willing to help guide you along. And gentlemen, you don't have to "lead" like you do in modern dances!Period dances were essentially the equivalent of speed-dating, so if you don't like your partner all you have to do is wait one rotation and you get a new one. Or one will cut in, which is probably the most entertaining part and can get quite competitive.
And then you get to fling candy confections with mini-catapults! A friend of mine has objections to using marshmallows for ammunition, afraid that this will only contribute to the SCA's already somewhat negative reputation in modern society. Because of safety, the projectiles have to be lightweight and blunt. What could be safer than tiny, edible pillows? They are also cheap and biodegradable. The only alternative I can think of is to wrap paper balls in tape, but that's more of an investment in both time and money. Plus, I think that it's a great way of getting kids involved as well. Besides, how many of us were introduced to engineering in physics classes by devising protection for eggs flung off of a roof? (By the way, if you devise a suspension system with rubberbands, make sure that there isn't enough slack for the egg to bounce against the container). If the potential publicity surrounding this particular event focuses on flying marshmallows above all else, then we've got bigger problems.
Hope to see you there!

Ninja Squirrels

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Today's post is brought to you by fevered delirium. Now remember, boys and girls, when using communal stethoscopes ALWAYS disinfect the earpieces first.

I have an extremely overactive imagination. As such, I have been forbidden from ever watching scary movies. Unless they are in the mood to be scared because of my jumps and screams, which evidently helps frighten them in ways that cinema can't.


I was living in downtown Eugene when my partner at the time and I went to see The Village. On the way back, I thought about how I do not conform to my society's standards and boundaries. That was sufficient impetus to conjure my own personal bogeyman. So by the time that he dropped me off at the curb, sprinting 25 feet across the tiny yard mud-wrestling arena in flip-flops and long, tight skirt seemed like a good idea. A kind neighbour, who spoke little English, summoned my roommates from their Bacchanal celebrations to haul me off to the ER, where I had to browbeat them into taking x-rays to confirm that I was correct in that two bones in my ankle had snapped like green twigs and that I wasn't overreacting to a sprain.

That was just a Shyamalan movie. Now, if it's anything involving zombies, I turn into a gibbering pile of paranoia clutching my sword and wondering why I seem to be the only one in this podunk town who doesn't own enough firepower to defend themselves when Obama comes 'round to revoke the second amendment.Zombieland is one of the scariest movies ever because it includes many of my terrors: public restrooms, clowns, and crappy processed snacks.

If I am anywhere for any length of time, I automatically assess the defensive capabilities and survival supplies in case of zombie apocalypse. As much as I'd love to watch The Walking Dead, I am more fond of sleeping ever again. A former boss thought I was joking, until I told him that the warehouse was theoretically a fortress, but lacked weaponry, food, and water. He started to back away slowly when I mused aloud as to what equipment and product could be altered for optimal decapitation.


When visiting friends and leaving after sunset, I ask them to escort me to my car. Now, I don't tell them the real reason because that just sounds crazy. (Crazy, until I'm holed up in the woods in my very own treehouse and enough ordinance to take out a one horse town). Sometimes they will assume that I'm afraid of axe-murdering rapists. If they start looking like they think I'm coocoo for cocoa puffs, I tell them it's ninja squirrels.

See, they're fucking scary.

Don't be fooled by that cute, fluffy tail. That's just there to lull you into a false sense of security so they can gnaw your flesh with those huge teeth. Come to think of it, they're just as bad as zombies, only quicker and with ninja moves.

Holy shit! Zombie squirrel!1!!1!

Here in the Pacific Northwest, ninja squirrels are a serious threat. The problem is that there isn't enough education about them. They are less well-known than Sasquatch and more so than gangs of geese and blackberry ooze monsters. Please pass this along to raise ninja squirrel awareness.

Never again.

Return of the War on Christmas

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Let's start off with a heartwarming tale of terrorist threats. I love how they use the term "blasphemous" when the modern trappings of Christmas originated from us "filthy" Pagans.
Defend Christmas is an interesting website that isn't necessarily what it sounds like. It's obviously run by Christians and includes ways of making sure that "Christmas" isn't completely stamped out of public life. I do not agree with everything that they say, but they do emphasize not shoving it down other peoples' throats and how to include everyone else. While their agenda does make me uneasy, it is nice to see a non-rabid example of the War on Christmas rhetoric.

Socialist America?

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Ultimately, we're really not as great as we think we are, with stats pulled from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
If that wasn't enough evidence for you, how about the fact that women's (especially marginalized) programs are usually the first ones to have their funding cut? Oh, and the Simpson-Bowles recommendations are basically that people should pay more out of pocket for their own health care and retirement.

Packing for an Event

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Yes, that is my car. Yes, everything you see was both needed and used between myself and a friend who carpooled to Egil's this year. And I only packed a cotehardie (didn't have much garb of my own yet). Yes, that is the Army blanket cloak.

First, what do you need? Food, water, clothes, and shelter at the very least. Make a prioritized packing list including every single thing you can think of, once you have that you can start paring down unnecessary items. What do you need to be comfortable? This isn't "proper" camping where you are expected to rough it; SCAdians take pride in overpacking. Do you have a portable project? In what activities will you be participating? Once you're on site, you most likely won't want to make a store run. Packing lists you find online can be helpful in that they may include things that you did not consider, but do not rely on them. Use your favourite as a starting point and create your own master list that fits your needs. Mine is an Excel sheet that I tweak each time depending on the weather, length of the event, and what I plan on doing while there.

If you have a household, coordinate so that you can cut down on your packing. For example, is there a kitchen buy-in? Who has the largest and best day shade? Will someone be in charge of the firepit?

Do not pack so that you cannot unpack by yourself. Sure you can cram all your cast-iron into one Rubbermaid tub, but is that really a good idea? While most people are willing to help, they may very well be busy setting up camp themselves. Do not automatically expect assistance in unloading. If you do get it, remember what your mother told you: say thank you and offer to help them in return.



When you go to pack up the car, consider how you pack it. If you will arrive after dark, make sure that your tent and light source (I highly recommend a headlamp) are easily reached. You don't want to unload your garb, kitchen gear, and fighter kit just to set up your tent. Economize your space, thinking of it as Tetris in 3D. You would be amazed at what I can fit into my Buick Regal.
That's William de Nancy, pretending to pout over being crammed in such a tiny space. Or maybe it was fear over my driving, can't remember which. And yes, he did ride to the event like that. Packed in like that, not the pouting.
You will invariably both overpack and forget something important. One of my Innmates with the Inn of the Blue Boot actually forgot to pack garb for September Crown. I have consistently neglected to purchase an air mattress pump, but have been able to borrow one at every event this year. Somone will have a fully stocked first aid kit. Don't worry. Unless you forgot your medications. Then worry. A lot.

Inspirational Equality

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There is a growing movement of SCAdians who support inspirational equality, or allowing same-sex couples to enter Crown as contender and consort. At September Crown processional, Maestro Eduardo Lucrezia and Mistress Ariel de Courtenay organized a faction of An Tirians wearing purple armbands and bearing a letter of petition to Their Majesties. I am proud to say that I was one of them.
One of the most ridiculous arguments I have heard against the change is, is that it has no basis in history as previously homosexuals had to hide their sexuality. Even if that were the case (and I am not going to bother searching for evidence to the contrary), our anachronism is creative. There are practices which we do not involve in our re-creation, most notably institutional misogyny and racism. Not to mention, I won't be burned at the stake for being a witch (or hung, since my persona lived in Ireland).
There is no logical argument against the change. None.
"O, in futurum gradum faciat praeteritus antequam praesentem."

The Salvation Army is Anti-Gay

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First of all, only 89% of the donated money goes towards charity work, which is pretty standard, actually. The rest goes towards funding their other... projects. This is why I find other charities to donate to, and then they wonder why donations are down.
Some alternatives are:
Local food banks
While these organizations may not be perfect, they don't have an agenda... that I know of.

November is...

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National Adoption Month. Currently, there are over 115,000 children in the United States awaiting adoption.

My Son is Gay at Nerdy Apple

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A 5 year old and his mom are harrassed by allegedly Christian women because her son wanted to dress up as a female character on Halloween. Halloween for crying out loud. The fact that it's a Christian pre-school is really beside the point, as this could have easily happened in a secular setting. Boys have been suspended for simply having long hair in public schools. Possibly my favourite quote from the post is:
"...I am not worried that your son will grow up to be an actual ninja so back off."

'Non-Toxic' Scented Products Emit Toxins

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"From hair products to laundry detergents to diapers, we live in a world of fragrance that might be making us sick, suggests a new study, even when those scents come from products that claim to be natural and pure.

In an analysis of 25 of the most commonly used scented products -- including ones labeled "organic," "natural" or "non-toxic" -- scientists identified at least 133 chemicals wafting off of them. A quarter of those chemicals were classified as hazardous or toxic. Virtually none were listed on product labels."
Unfortunately, this comes as no surprise. This is why I always read the labels of even the organic products I buy.

55 Funniest Signs From the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

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One of my favourites.

There are just too many good ones to share here.

Will I be Pretty?

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I am Voting Republican This November

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Outrage of the Day: Waiter Stabbed for Being Gay

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"A waiter in Santa Maria, California, is recovering in hospital after he was stabbed for "being gay".
According to Associated Press, police said the unnamed waiter was at work in a Denny's restaurant in the early hours of Thursday morning when 24-year-old Curtis Martin tapped on the window and asked to use the toilet.
Mr Martin was let inside and allegedly asked the waiter if he was gay. When he said he was, police say Mr Martin stabbed him in the neck and throat with a knife.
The waiter is expected to survive his injuries. Mr Martin has been charged with attempted murder and committing a hate crime."

Getting Involved in the SCA

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There are the fringies who go in order to dress up and party. Then there are the rest of us. Most fringies were usually turned off from getting involved any further because of Garb Nazis and/or the clique-ishness that can happen with pointy hats and the peerage. Just remember that SCAdians were the geeks in high school, we are all human and have our pecularities. Some fringies object to the politics of the core. The truth is, is that whenever you get two or more people together politics are bound to happen. If you're like me and actually like history, crafting, theatre, and don't drink very much or very often then here are some tips for getting your feet wet.
The Society cannot operate without volunteers. Sites need prepping, people to run the event, and cleaning up afterwards. Unfortunately, not enough people are willing to do the work so the same people end up filling in the blanks, which is how you get Pelicans and burnouts. Many hands make light work is an old adage, but very true.
What do you like to do? If it's working with your hands, then take a class. There are classes for everything from cooking and basic sewing to metalwork and fighting. They are great to find out if you like the particular activity without investing a lot. If you like to work with people, then sign up for a shift or two at gate. Volunteers are always needed at gate and it's a great way to meet people as well as getting an idea for the event's schedule. If you have a theatre background or are simply loud, then offer to do town cry. Heralds are very welcoming and willing to train newbies. The chirurgeons (medics) are always looking for new members, although you do have to have a curent blue card and first aid/CPR certification. If you are not that much of a people person and have good computer skills, most SCA websites look like they were designed by drunken monkeys.
Now you know what you like to do, the question is how to go about it. Email the autocrat before an event and offer your services in specific areas. Subscribe to email lists because volunteers are often solicited there. There are even lists for guilds such as heralds or chirurgeons. While checking in at gate, see what slots they need filled.
There are competitions for various activities. Obviously there are the martial competitions, but there are also ones for the Arts and Sciences. There are generally standards for each level of experience. For example, they tend to go easier if you are new (either to the Society, competing, and/or the craft) and giving constructive criticism. Once you know better, the stricter the judging becomes.
Then there are what I like to call the Cookies. These can be literal or metaphorical. For example, I love being a herald: they give me bacon for being loud (a household gave me some bacon for warning them before doing town cry early in the morning). They tend to feed the Gate Trolls with sweets and water, and someone even gave me a pack of Super Mario Brothers fruit gummies because I laughed at the box that peeked out of their bag as they were signing in. I got a wooden comb for just doing a gate shift at Acorn War. Also at Acorn War, Macha agreed to let me do town cry for moot (aka court without Princes, Princesses, Kings, or Queens) from horseback.
And, of course, there are the awards. Contrary to popular belief, you don't necessarily have to "know the right people." True, you do generally have to be recommended by members of the populace, but if you do get involved, you will inevitably get noticed. Normally, active members here in An Tir receive the Goutte de Sang after one to two years of participation. This can take more or less depending on how active you are.

Perfumes for those not into Ye Olde Stench

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Hygiene was that of your typical male teenager: skip the shower and spray on some cologne. As those of us who survived public school can attest, the stronger the scent the “better” the result; thus the popularity of oils amongst those who could afford them. If you cannot tolerate modern chemical concoctions or the thought of topping off your cotehardie with JLo Glo makes you twitch, here are some all-natural recipes that can pass for period. Your housemates with chemical sensitivities might thank you.

They would have added lavender or rose water or orris to the final rinse while doing laundry, but I’m too lazy to do that. Instead, I make potpourri sachets that live in my Rubbermaid tub o’ garb. Being a hedgewitch, I look at what’s on hand that suits my purposes and experiment until satisfied. I believe that the current mixture is a base of rose and lavender petals with cinnamon and jasmine oils with a dash of ginger and cloves in a cotton bag made from scraps. The cinnamon, ginger, and cloves combine to make one spicy note instead of competing with each other. The potpourri staves off mustiness and serves as a mild insect repellant. If you don’t want to invest in various accoutrements, a quick and dirty solution is to fold in some lavender faggots. If your persona is late period, you could make a pomander.
Disclaimer: I have not tried either of the following recipes, but please let me know if you give them a go!

Cream Perfume
2 tablespoons grated beeswax 2 tablespoons sweet almond oil
1-2 teaspoons pure essential oils
Melt beeswax in an enamel or glass pan over boiling water. Add sweet almond oil; combine. Be patient with this step; it's important to blend them completely. Allow the mixture to cool slightly before adding oils of your choice. Fill small clean, dry glass jars with the solid perfume.

Body Spray
1 cup Everclear
1 teaspoon glycerin
1 teaspoon essential oils
Place ingredients into a sealable glass jar. Shake the jar vigorously until all ingredients are well combined. Decant into a glass bottle with a fine mist sprayer attached.

Here are some suggestions for period scents that are widely available today. You may want to do a bit more research as to what existed in your area at your time. Obviously, Middle Eastern personas would have had better access to more exotic oils, whereas lavender and rose would have been readily obtainable throughout most of Europe.

Floral
Jasmine
Lavender
Pennyroyal
Petitgrain
Primrose
Rose

Spice
Cinnamon
Frankincense
Myrrh
Neroli
Patchouli

Recipes

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As I’ve said before, I prefer to cook my meals ahead of time. Since my diet is restricted to organics, joining in on a meal plan with campmates is out of the question. Not to mention I’m not a member of a household yet, although there is a group with which I usually camp. I have a small tripod burner, but no sturdy table to use in the kitchen so it’s unwise to use it in fields of sun-baked grass. People literally have scars, both emotional and physical, from my mundane cooking. (Don’t worry, the doctors say they will heal in time). Besides, who wants to waste perfectly good event time or cook in the heat? Not to mention the lack of fun in cooking for one. If you’re a chef, then I recommend looking elsewhere for advice.
I favour finger foods so I don’t have to do dishes in camp or when I get home. My typical breakfast consists of fruit scones and tea. Even though I’m not in on my camp’s kitchen, I steal a bowl of hot water in the mornings for washing up and the tea in exchange for chores. In addition to set up, tear down, and generally keeping things tidy I’ll get up early to make the hot water and coffee or help with dishes.
There is the ever popular fruit, jerky, and bread and cheese. I bake a loaf of French bread and wrap it in a napkin or towel so I can just tear off hunks as I go, and pre-slicing cheese is always a good idea. I eat largely vegetarian because it’s hard to find organic meats where I live, not to mention they can be fairly expensive. If you can, sausage is a fine accompaniment. Other snacks for the sweet-toothed are cookies, fruit pies, or extra scones.
There are lots of period meat pie recipes out there; however, I haven’t tried them. My pie crusts always suck, not matter the recipe, but I make a batch of the dough. Then I cook up some hamburger and vegetables, fill up bits of the dough so that the finished product is shaped like a calzone that fits comfortably in the hand, and bake it at 350°F until browned, about 20-25 minutes. Cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, and onions are good vegetables to use, basically making a stew without the stew. While spices were expensive and hard to come by, herbs were both grown and wildcrafted for a variety of uses. That being said, I still use black pepper and a dash of salt. Basil, fennel, garlic, marjoram, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme are good choices with varying degrees of authenticity.
My cooler is a Goodwill find, and therefore is a little battered but perfectly serviceable. The food needs to at least stay cool, even though it’s already been cooked and might not be reheated. I pack meals in either individual hippyware (it’s like Tupperware, but in a previous life was plastic food containers) or tinfoil, which can also be reused at home for scrubbing in lieu of steel wool. I square and hem cloth scraps for napkins and hankies, depending on the size. If I’m busy, I just grab a pie or a snack and use a napkin as both a plate and to protect my garb since tables tend to be rare commodities.
Here are some recipes for sweet baked goods from various sources.

Bannocks
2 cups hot milk 1 ½ cups instant oatmeal 1 egg
½ tsp. baking soda 1 tbsp. grated orange peel 1 tbsp. chopped almonds
In a large bowl, pour the milk over the oatmeal; let it sit for 10 minutes. Beat in the egg, baking soda, orange peel and almonds. Consistency should be like a thick pancake batter. If the batter is too thin, add more oatmeal; if too thick, add a little milk. Heat griddle over a moderate flame, grease. Pour the batter onto the griddle; cook until bubbles form. Flip and cook the other side. Best served with butter and honey. Yields: 12 (2 inch) bannocks

Scones, Lemon-Oat
1/3 cup margarine or butter 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
3 tablespoons sugar 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten ½ cup chopped almonds, toasted
4-6 tbsp. half-and-half 1 egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Cut margarine into flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, lemon peel and salt with pastry blender in medium bowl until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in 1 egg, the almonds and just enough half-and-half so dough leaves side of bowl.
Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; gently roll in flour to coat. Knead lightly 10 times. Roll or pat 1/2 inch thick. Cut with floured 2-inch round cutter or cut into diamond shapes with sharp knife. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Brush 1 egg over dough.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack. Split scones; spread with margarine and serve with strawberry preserves if desired.

Scones, Cranberry Cream
2 cups flour 1/3 cup sugar 1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt ½ cup cranberries 1 ¼ cup heavy cream
1 tsp. orange zest
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. With a large spatula, stir in the cranberries, cream, and orange zest. Gather the dough into a ball and knead it against the bottoms and the sides of the bowl 5-10 times. Transfer to a lightly floured surface, and pat the dough into a circle with a thickness of approximately 3/4 inch. Cut the dough into 8-12 inch wedges and place 1/2 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush the tops with 2 to 3 tsp. of cream and sprinkle tops with cinnamon and sugar mixture (optional). Bake on the center oven rack for 12 to 15 minutes.

The Long and Short of It

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I will be helping out at Gold Key at the Long and Short of It. Speaking of garb, I had a nightmare last night that I was roadtripping to Pennsic. While driving through Iowa I realized that I had absolutely nothing non-mundane to wear while I was there.

Lebus and Down to the Roots Magazine

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I met a wonderful woman at Lebus who writes a magazine called Down to the Roots. The issue she gave me had instructions on how to build an inkle loom and a rope bed, she even let me have a go on her loom! Each issue is full of good things such as recipes, natural gardening tips, crafts for kids, and other self-sufficiency bits.
If you check out her blog post from August 15th you can see a couple of pictures of me in garb. The first one is of my usual "Huh?" face when I've been interrupted in the middle of something (in this case, a 9-man Morris game) and the second I'm concentrating really hard. Not to mention it was so hot my brain melted out of my ears.
While Lebus was a small event, it was a lot like a warped summer camp. I showed up not knowing anyone and left having met nearly everyone. There was even a talent show and water balloon fight. It helped that I asked the autocrat if there was any way I could be of use, so I got my first taste of voice heraldry. There was a central permanent gazebo encased in concrete. I simply stepped up on a picnic table, faced one direction, and shouted the schedule. Rinse and repeat on the other side of the pavilion and I was done because the acoustics and my projection (theatrical experience) carried so well over the small encampment. I was even asked to do town cry at Summits Coronet. Muahaha... I mean, *ahem.*
I apologize for the recent lack of photos, however, my camera's batteries keep dying at events because of the heat and one of my memory chips was borrowed and never made its way back to me.

Useful Accessories That Are Often Underestimated

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A notebook for taking notes, sketching ideas, and exchanging contact information with new friends.

A pair of thick socks will keep your feet warm and help protect against blisters.

A belt, which not only completes your garb, but you can also hang other items off of it such as a pouch, knife, a notebook, etc. On hot days or while working you can tuck your skirt up into it.

A headcovering to protect against the sun, dampen to cool down when it’s hot, keep warm in cold weather, and disguise hair that hasn’t been washed in three days. Not to mention it was a ubiquitous item that many today neglect out of a modern sense of fashion.

A chemise. Again, it completes your outfit by making your skirts fuller and hang properly, and can double as a nightgown. If you have very sensitive skin like I do, it can help protect against wool and linen, which can be rough. I have a small dome tent, so I can step out in the morning in just my chemise to finish getting dressed standing up without offending anyone.

How to Stay Cool at an Event

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I went to Lebus this past weekend, and on Saturday it was 102°F. I run quite warm. So much, in fact, that a couple of my friends and I have been talking about organizing a snow camping event in order to get to wear all of our layers and woolen items at once as they would have done in period. Most camping events take place when it’s too warm for us to do so. Here’s what I did in order to make it through.

First of all: hydration. As most people with first aid training know, if you’re hot but have stopped sweating, you are dehydrated. If you have no appetite, you are dehydrated. If you haven’t needed to visit the biffies in a long time, you are dehydrated. You should drink enough water so you don’t get thirsty in the first place. I reuse all my water bottles, filling them from my water filter. Then I freeze them, saving me from having to buy both ice and water. Plus, I have cold water to drink. If you’re camping with a baby, a mostly empty bottle with a chunk of ice still at the bottom helps keep them cool and entertained.

I am quite naughty in that I’ve been known to hike my skirts up to my knees, especially when a breeze comes along. Also, I made a trip to the store and one of the items I brought back was a pint of ice cream. Several people turned green with envy, despite the fact I had offered a ride to nearly everyone before I left. Best lunch ever. I also wore flip flops as my ankle boots were just too warm. So I cheated a little in the name of comfort.

I pre-cook a lot of my food, baking things like meat pies and scones that don’t require reheating. Less cooking and less dishes.

Wear something on your head such as a straw hat or a linen coif to keep the sun off. And with a coif you can get it wet before putting it on, which feels so amazingly wonderful. Not to mention it hides 3-day old camp hair. Simply getting your hair wet can help as well.

Some people claim that thick wool keeps them cool because it blocks the sun. I, on the other hand, run quite warm and would melt rather quickly from just my own body heat. Linen is marvelous stuff, usually being of a looser weave than cotton and therefore very breathable. Obviously lighter colours are your best option as dark ones absorb solar energy, I just don’t recommend wearing white at an outdoor event. Bleach can only do so much, after all.

Many events here in An Tír are near rivers, so bring something to swim in. A thin, white chemise is not recommended unless you want a medieval version of Girls Gone Wild. I bring along a towel to every event because I am a cool frood. And, as Arthur Dent knows, it’s useful if it rains, you’ve gone swimming, there are showers on site, or even to disguise a modern cooler.

Blessed Lughnasadh!

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I plan on baking some bread either this afternoon or tomorrow.

Sorceror's Apprentice

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I'm not going to bother delving into the blatant historical and mythological errors of this movie.
First off, the only pentacles in the movie were used by the bad guys (Morganians, after the sorceress Morgan la Fey), perpetuating the lie that they are associated with evil. And the tools used were considered vital for practicing magic, despite the fact that, that is not true in real life. Only an insecure young man is able to overcome this obstacle, despite his elders having practiced for hundreds of years. Once again, Hollywood emphasizes youth over wisdom and experience.
Then there's the centuries old dichotomy of male wizards good/female witches bad. The most powerful female sorceress is automatically evil, and the most powerful male conjurors are good (Merlinians, after Merlyn). Despite the fact that Morgaine was originally a healer, actually treating Arthur when he went to Avalon, seriously wounded. It wasn't until later cycles when she was portrayed as being evil and conniving, likely because she did not adhere to the sexual ethics projected onto women of that time period. In other words, since she was not a virgin and refused to settle into an arranged marriage, she had to be a whore and therefore demonized for it.
The movie fails the Bechdel Test, obviously. The female characters are either in need of rescuing, rewards for a job well done, or evil and need to be defeated. When Dave tries to keep Becky safe, she tells Dave that she is already involved and might as well help save the world. Dave, the physics geek, says that, that's sexy. I wanted to throttle the character because he's wanting to treat her like the reward he sees her as by keeping her on the pedestal he's placed her on for so many years: safe and pristine. He's supposed to be a geek and is just NOW figuring out that intelligence is a turn-on? I'm not even touching the resurgence of emo boys stalking the women whom they allegedly love. Some things from the '80's should have been left there.
If you're the kind of person that can turn your brain off, it's an enjoyable flick. If you're like me and unable to dissociate entertainment from larger sociological problems, you might find your blood pressure rising to unsafe levels.

I think I've been Shanghai'ed

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Someone in Adiantum threatened to conscript me into the Chirugeon’s Guild. I can’t imagine why. I mean, my campmates and I at War only took care of a guy who had hypothermia from falling in the creek. (By the way, it’s general common sense: get him out of his wet clothes, towel him off, put him in dry clothes, wrap him in a wool cloak by the fire, and get hot fluids into him).
Then there’s the fact that I’m allergic to aloe vera, but still rubbed it into a friend’s horribly sunburned back with my bare hands. I washed them right away, so it was fine.
At fighter’s practice, I was hand-sewing a snow-white, pure linen coif when a fighter got a gash on his hand. Since no one there had a first aid kit, I rinsed out the wound with a water bottle and tied the coif around his hand. I figured that I could just bleach away the germs and then dye it to take care of the stain.
The chirugeon came with her kit later, but was in the middle of a corset fitting. He was reluctant to get properly bandaged up, but I told him to get his ass over. He still complained as I cleaned it until I told him to shut up and just stand there and look pretty. Keep in mind that I am short and was wearing a flowered sundress and flip-flops, while he was in full gear. That’s what prompted her to suggest that I join the guild. Evidently ordering around injured heavy fighters is a prerequisite.

War

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An Tir/West War was a blast, and the first ever medieval Sock Wars were a hit with yarn donated from Brown Sheep. We An Tirians won, naturally. The winner knitted an entire pair of Pre-Literate stockings over the weekend. 0.o I’m a sock addict, but that’s just plain nuts!
I had the honour of meeting Dame Christian de Holcomb, who taught a fascinating class on rosaries. I learned to spin with Snorri, card weave, and more fingerloop braiding techniques from Idonia. My campmates knew that I was essentially camped out in A & S all weekend.
Here are the mistakes that I made, so you might not repeat them:
1. Forgot the plug to my air mattress. The nest that I was able to cobble together was warm, but not necessarily comfortable.
2. In the excitement of my first major event, I forgot to eat or stay hydrated throughout the weekend. Very bad idea.
3. I did not know that there were going to be showers and, therefore, did not bring soap.
4. If you are going to dye anything that you plan to wear to the event, do so well ahead of time. Luckily, my cotehardie is dark coloured so that the marks left by my black belt were unnoticeable. My hands and chemise, however, were not so lucky.
5. Should you intend to wear a particular garment to an outdoor event, do NOT under any circumstances make it white. On the other hand, I now have a gown for 12th Night.
6. I volunteered my time at Sock Wars, which necessitated an early rising. Most people would use their cell phones as an alarm, but if the event is in an area with poor reception (which most of them are) the batteries will be quickly drained. Note to self: pick up a small portable alarm clock the next time I have a full schedule at an event.
7. I planned my days too full and never got a chance to get out to the battlefield, where I knew many of the fighters.
8. My camera was allowed to sit in hot areas too long, quickly draining the fresh set with which it started.
But I didn’t screw everything up, here’s what I did right!
1. I already had a pair of Pre-Literates that were absolutely wonderful. They were very comfortable, their thickness helped prevent blisters, and kept me warm at night. After I finish the Sock Wars ones I started, I plan on making a third, vermilion pair.
2. I packed a very large basket in the morning with everything I thought I’d need throughout the day so extra trips back to camp weren’t needed. (Obviously, more food and water could have been packed).
3. Most of the food I brought did not require cooking (bread, cheese, fruit, and granola bars), allowing me more time to play. Bonus points because it’s period!
4. I have a headlamp that garnered envy from some campmates. It’s a portable light that keeps your hands free for the biffies, brushing your teeth, doing dishes, etc. I have excellent night vision, so when I do end up using a light it’s inevitably the headlamp.
5. Even though it was Independence Day, we were on the Oregon Coast so I brought my wool cloak just in case. I was very grateful for the brief flash of common sense that prompted this because I used it in my bedding, protected against the winds that picked up after sunset and the temperature dropped, and helped warm a hypothermic man who had fallen into the creek.
6. Let’s just say that chemises are not overrated. Our ancestors wore them for some very good, practical reasons.
7. I packed an extra set of shorts and a tank top. There happened to be a swimming hole on site, and my mundane pajamas worked well as an impromptu swimsuit.
8. Linen is fantastic material!

Undercover Notebook

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I keep a little notebook on me at all times because of my memory problems, but pulling out a spiral bound pad is a little too mundane for an event. My understanding is, is that it was common to have small prayer books hanging off of a belt (I read it online and haven’t verified. I need one, anyway, so the authenticity is a bit moot for me).
I wrote my rosary inside before disguising the outside. Since the cover was too thin to withstand any sort of abuse, I glued cardboard to the front and back for strength. Then I took a small shoulder section of the leather jacket I picked up at Goodwill the other day and trimmed it to fit the notebook, much like the old bookjackets we used in school.
A liberal application of Elmer’s glue and some careful fitting later, I had a little black leather book. A thinner material would have worked better, as well as paying more attention to wrapping it because I glued the book in upside down and slightly crooked.

Cyclas

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I picked up an aqua linen remnant for $4 a yard. After washing and drying it was just long enough to brush the tops of my feet and my Achilles heel. After long agonizing, I decided to go with a cyclas, or sideless surcoat. While most surviving art indicates that most were cut long in the back, the figures were typically nobility and/or wearing Sunday best. Anyone else would have worn theirs at a more sensible length. At least, that’s my logic train and I’m stickin’ to it. That and this is Oregon: I am hardly going to drag good linen around in the mud unnecessarily.

I followed these directions, using the gores but not the train. I began with the fabric doubled over, and I then folded that in half so that my cuts would be mirrored. This is not recommended if you do not have a really good pair of scissors and/or really strong hands. From the center fold I measured out half my shoulder width plus seam allowance, which was 8 inches.

I pinned through all the layers straight through to the carpet, marking out all my cutting lines with more pins instead of drawing. It helps keep all the layers where they should be when cutting.

I can haz turkey leg?

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June is...

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Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month.

Handicap Ballet (NSFW)

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I am not a fan of modern dance, but it's nice to see paragons of physical ability empathize with the struggles that differently-abled folk have to go through.

Veil Part II

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The veil came out kinda crappy, but I am still posting pictures so that you can see that I wasn’t exaggerating about my lack of sewing skills. I can do design and draping, however.
The scrap that came from the first cut was approximately 13x36” and looked perfect for a wimple. I measured my head from under my chin to the top of my head, which was 25 inches. I trimmed off the excess ten inches of length, leaving an extra one for seam allowance. I sewed the short ends together so I could slip it on rather than dealing with even more pins on the top of my head, but at least this time it was all straight lines.
I will wear the braids coiled around my ears for the appropriate silhouette, so I can pin through both the veil and wimple into the fake hair pieces.

Rosary Revamped

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The rosary recitations I previously posted were a bit unwieldy, grammatically incorrect in places, and difficult to memorize. So I came up with my own following a basic formula that will aid in memory retention. Hopefully, with a little bit of creativity, it can be used for other Deities.
On the Charm
"Lady of the Silver Wheel,
She who turns the circle of heaven,
Virgin Queen of life, death, and rebirth
We entreat Your protection for our loved ones.
O, Weaver goddess,
Bless our prayers, our workings, our beloved.”
On the five beads I simply recite the English translation because I am not familiar enough with the pronunciation of Gaelic.
The Medal
“Blessed Be, O Highest and Holiest Ladies!
Hail, our beloved Queens of the Celts,
We honor and worship,
In the Old ways, when the Mother was revered,
You are the Creatrices
Your temples of worship well laid.”
I changed that because there is no proof that ancient Celtic societies were matriarchal, but Goddesses were worshipped before Christianity came along. Even then the Virgin Mary had an elevated status to compensate for the lack of the divine feminine. The last two lines of that one still bug me, but I’m working on it. “Your temples of worship well laid” makes no sense, if it was “Your temples of worship are well laid” then it would be logical.
"Blessed be the Flower Bride,
Blodeuwedd, Born of nine blossoms,
Beloved of the owl,
Teach me the initiation of growth.
Be with me as I spread my wings."
I am ashamed to say that I am not overly familiar with Blodeuwedd, but the only Celtic Maiden Goddess of which I know.
"Blessed be the Fiery Arrow,
Brigid, Bright One
Guardian of the sacred wells,
Teach me to bear the furnace that makes me strong.
Be with me as I blaze my trail."
Brigid could arguably be a Maiden Goddess, but I am skeptical because of how Christianized she was.
"Blessed be the Queen of Wisdom,
Rhiannon, the White Mare,
Ferrier of the dead,
Teach me the enchantments of the shifting moon.
Be with me as I transform."
I switched from the Gaulish Epona aspect to the Welsh Rhiannon because I am more familiar with the latter and is in keeping with Blodeuwedd and Cerridwen (both Welsh). Brigid and Morrigan were originally Irish. I believe, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. Brigid’s worship was so widespread that I never bothered to pinpoint her origin, shameful considering She’s my patron Goddess.
"Blessed be the Battle Raven,
Morrigan, the Phantom Queen,
Washer at the ford,
Teach me to walk the gloom of war with the light of my strength,
Be with me as I fight my battle."

"Blessed be the Keeper of Souls,
Cerridwen, the White Sow,
She of the cauldron of rebirth,
Teach me to see through the darkness of the unknown,
Be with me as I am reborn."
Again, I’m not quite happy with the last two lines. Any suggestions are more than welcome… that is, as long as they’re polite. If it involves a goat-spoon and an orifice, no thank you.
On the Medal
“Hail, our beloved Ladies of the Celts,
We honor and worship You,
In the Old ways when the mother was revered,
You are the Creatrices
Our hearts in Your hands, our will is Yours
Keep and protect us as you do all Your children,
So Mote It Be!”
I changed that one because the original was a bit too Anglo-centric for my tastes, not to mention the fact that Their worship is no longer confined to the United Kingdom.

Veil

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I picked up a yard of cream Silk Essence at Joann Fabrics, it’s not true silk but I feel that it will pass the ten foot rule. Fine silk, not dupioni or noile, is fairly difficult to find in stores and I am highly averse to ordering online. You want the chosen fabric to be slippery so it won’t create friction with your clothes and catch, trying to tug your head back and the whole thing off your head. And the finer it is, the better the silhouette.
I measured across my head to about where I wanted it to hang, which ended up being about shoulder-length. Then I measured to where I wanted it to fall down my back. My measurements were 26x31”, and after seam allowance they came out to be 27x31”. I cut out a rectangle this size, which I folded into quarters. Starting at the short end of the rectangle I cut a curve to the long side to form an oval when unfolded.
Now comes my least favourite part. I folded the hem under, which is damn frustrating with curves. Hand-stitching looks best, even with my horrendous handiwork. I used a whipstitch so that the least amount of thread showed on the top, hiding the majority of my atrocious sewing. I started on one of the long edges because it was easier to get the feel for it before the shorter and therefore more complicated curve.

Rosary Redux

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I visited a bead shop while in town for an interview and picked up some little silver rose beads for the first five and spacers. At home I found a couple beads that I had forgotten about. The charm is now a silver disk with a Celtic knot on it and surrounded on either side by the rosettes, indicating the first through five beads. I added the second set for symmetry to appease my touch of OCD. The medals are vaguely tube-shaped, also with Celtic knots. I rather like the final result, although the knot this time didn’t hold so I had to cut another
length and re-string.

Today's Project: Hosen!

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So the skirt has been dissected, the wool dyed, and I finally mustered the courage to take scissors to it. I did a little online research, and used Racaire's blog as a general overview before diving in with a flat sheet picked up at Goodwill. Draping is difficult to do on yourself, but I have had experience tailoring clothes on others.
First, I draped it over my leg along the bias and then went to town with some pins, following the curve of my calf. Where it began to bunch up over my instep, I cut to correspond more or less to hers. Then I did the same for my actual foot. Be careful of the pins when you bend your leg! That is, unless you are lucky enough to have an assistant.
I trimmed the excess fabric away, accounting for seam allowance. Then I used that as a pattern to cut out the wool, again on the bias. I took the resulting wool pieces and pinned them around my leg, trimming as necessary. The final pieces were traced out on more of the cotton sheet to be used as a master pattern for the other leg and in the future. If you do this, make sure to mark them with a permanent marker so you don’t mistake them for scraps.
I was too lazy to make lining, and the wool didn’t really need it. If I need to, I’ll cheat and use knee-high socks underneath. If you want to then just use the master pattern with whatever material you’re going to use. Naturally, linen was originally used, but I personally would cheat with some of that cotton sheet, albeit in an appropriate colour.
I got as far as making the pattern and cutting today, I will post again once I get to actual construction. I will post pictures, most likely tomorrow. By the way, can you tell that I got a camera for Yule?

Rosary

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I made myself a very simple white, brown, and black rosary. This is my first beading project (you get to follow me along as I lose my virginity to all sorts of crafts!) I picked up a cheap pack of 8 mm wooden beads for $4 and $2 for a lot of hemp at Jo-Ann Fabrics. I wished I had done more research into rosaries beforehand, and waited until I found a store with better bead selections. I would have added charms and medals at the appropriate points, used different sized spacer beads, and used precious stones to magickally correspond (suggestions for this are with the prayer below).
At this point you’re probably thinking, “Wait, this is Witchy Woman! What gives?” Prayer beads have been used in different cultures throughout the world. I was raised vaguely Catholic, and occasionally cross myself, calling on the four elements instead of the Lord. Not to mention the fact that the Virgin Mary is a Mother aspect of the Goddess. Borrowing the tool is my way of paying homage to my family’s culture, history, and my own faith. And it can serve double duty as part of my garb, especially since the early Christian church in Western Europe adopted Pagan practices in order to accommodate the existing culture.
Somewhere I had gleaned a rosary recitation for Celtic goddesses for my Book of Shadows, which I will include below. I used the knot to indicate where to begin and alternated bead colours somewhat randomly for the charm, first through fifth beads, the medals, and divider beads. The first decade is white for the Maiden (Blodeuwedd), second and third brown for the Mother, and fourth and fifth for the Crone. The rosary ended up being just long enough to loop around a finger and then my wrist, but I also have “man hands.”

Celtic Goddess Rosary Prayer
It is recommended that you make the sign of the pentagram (or your personal symbol) before and after this rosary prayer. Memorization, of course, is preferred. You may, however, choose to alternate your rosary prayers based upon need or whim. In which case, memorization may be difficult until lengthy practice is employed.
To make the pentagram: start with the first two fingers touching the forehead, then proceed to the left breast, the right shoulder, the left shoulder, down to the right breast, and ending again at the forehead.
To use your own symbol, it is recommended that you include your third eye, heart and womb if possible.
On the Charm (a silver wheel or star would be appropriate)



“In Arianrhod's [pronounced ahr-ee-AHN-hrod] Caer Sidi, magickal realm of the north,
Your castle in the stars of Caer Arianrhod
[the Milky Way],
Queen of the Silver Wheel, the Celt’s Ariadne.
The stellar goddess of time, space and energy.
We entreat Your protection for our loved ones.
O, Weaver goddess of the land of Erin, Rose of the World.
Bless our prayers, our workings, our beloved.”



1-5th Beads (silver corresponds to the Goddess in general):



“Bandia, Bbantlarna, Banrion, Mathair”


(In English, "Goddess, lady, queen, mother".)


The Medal


“Blessed Be, O Highest and Holiest Ladies!
Hail, our beloved Ladies of the Celts,
To You, we honor and worship,
In the Old ways, when Woman was the Center
Woman was the Creatress and the World
Your temples of worship well laid.”



First Decade, repeat once per bead for a total of nine (Amazonite, carnelian, chrysocolla, citrine, epidote would be appropriate):



“Blodeuwedd [pronounced bluh DIE weth ("th" as in "weather")], the Welsh Flower Bride
Born of blossoms of Gwydion and Math
Lover of Gronw Pebr, denier of Llew
Beloved of the owl with the flower face.
Bride Blodeuwedd of the sacred flower."



Dividing Bead, All Praise:



“All praise Yours, our Ladies.”



Second Decade, repeat once per bead for a total of nine (Gold, angelite, lapis lazuli, sodalite):



“Brighid, Lady of Bright Inspiration
Inspiring muse of bards, Patroness of smithcraft Fire,
Illumination of the Celts,
The Roman Minerva.
Illuminating Brighid, inspirer of the bard”


Dividing Bead:


“All praise Yours, our Ladies.”


Third Decade, repeat once per bead for a total of nine (Rhiannon’s stones are cat's-eye, ruby and moonstone, danburite, sapphire, howlite, jade):


“Epona, Queen of Horses and Fruitfulness
Gaulish Epona, Irish Macha, or Welsh Rhiannon
Corn, fruits and serpents are yours
Fertility and nourishment your gifts.
Fruitfal Epona, Herdswoman of the horses”


Dividing Bead, the All Praise:


“All praise Yours, our ladies.”


Fourth Decade, repeat once per bead for a total of nine (Scapolite, Amber, Kunzite, Obsidian, Morganite):


“Morrigan, Irish Phantom Queen of Death with crow
Sexuality, Conflict and procreation under your red brow
Three-fold goddess of life, death and sensuality The Washer, Nemhain,
Bradhbh, Queen Mebdh in mortal form.
Warrior Morrigan, Queen of the cycle.”


Dividing Bead, The All Praise:


“All praise Yours, our Ladies.”


Fifth Decade, repeat once per bead for a total of nine (Aquamarine, alexandrite, charoite, unakite):




“Cerridwen, keeper of the Cauldron and Underworld
Inspiration and divine knowledge brewed in your pot
The sow, your holiest totem, Welsh crone of fecundity
Mother of Gwion and Taliesin, most gifted of the Welsh poets
Mother Cerridwen, of the divine cauldron.”



Medal:


“Hail, our beloved Ladies of the Celts,
To You, we honor and worship,
In the Old ways when Woman was the Center
Woman was the Creatress and the World
And Ireland, Gaul, Wales Your own,
Our hearts in Your hands, our will is Yours
Keep and protect our children as you do all Celts,
Your chosen people, in Your prayers.
So Mote It Be!”

How to Make Fake Hair into Braids

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My hair is shoulder length. While you can disguise a modern haircut with a veil, sometimes you need a little more to keep it from looking, well, deflated. Some looks, such as a bliaut or an early period Nordic persona, look best with long braids. You can fudge it with braid covers, but they still need a bit of hair peeking out the bottom to make it look convincing. Women used pieces made from flax, horse hair, and even hair from the deceased to supplement what nature gave them.
Since this is my first experiment I picked up the cheapest fake hair available at Sally Beauty Supply, I believe it was Jumbo Yaki-Pony. I paid less than $7 for two packs and some hairpins. While I would have loved some of the real hair, the cheapest one I saw was $70 a pack. I relied on the advice of the saleswoman and the colour is a bit too dark, now I wish I had gone with the lighter one.
It comes doubled over in the middle and tied with a rubber band. I brushed it out carefully, trying not to pull one side longer than the other, and then looped the rubber band around the knob on my computer desk to anchor it while I worked. Again first time working with fake hair, so I just went with two simple braids. Armed with a spray bottle and hairbrush I went to work. I stopped periodically to spray with water or brush one of the three strands to keep the hair smooth. I held the other two with my left hand, spread the third over my thigh, and brushed with my right hand.
I tied the ends with modern hair ties. Just like with real hair, there were fly-aways along it. I sprayed it lightly with water all over, ran my hand along to smooth it as much as possible, followed up with a light misting of hairspray to set it, and smoothed by hand again. To hide the elastic at the ends I wrapped black ribbons several times before tying bows.
The end of the hair was a little scraggly looking as you can see on the braid on the left, so I took my good fabric scissors to them. You can cut straight across, but the result is too blunt to look natural. Hair that is braided tapers at the end, which is what I went for as best I could with the one on the right.
When I am gearing up for an event, I will coil them over my ears a la Princess Leia and top it with a veil. I am not certain what I’ll do with my real hair, probably just braid it up out of the way so that it doesn’t contrast too strongly against the fake.

Dye Monkey, That Funky Monkey

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One year in college while in the theatre department, I earned the nickname of “Dye Monkey.” I was the head costumer on Victor/Victoria, and one of the characters was dressed entirely in vomit-inducing pink throughout. One of her costumes was a pin-striped suit, but the fabric they sourced for it was white. I spent days in the tiny laundry room hunched over a hotplate with strips of polyester and various packets of dye trying to find the perfect combination of red, orange, and yellow to make Barbie pink.
Grey was typically used by religious orders, as well as brown and white. While the grey wool with a touch of spandex is perfect for hosen, I preferred black. Black as a dye was more expensive, but I think it would have been just fine for accessories. The problem is predicting how the blend will take the dye.
I have a tiny pot that I use for making soap and other non-food purposes. (Yes, that is my cauldron on the back burner). Popped that on the stove and heated some water and black Rit dye to a light boil. You really don’t need hardly any for test strips. I highly recommend using rubber gloves because dye is related to glitter, being the herpes simplex of the textiles world. I was lazy and didn’t, which in hindsight was playing with fire because I have a job interview on Wednesday. I took the waistband pieces and draped it over the edge into the dye for a couple minutes.
Rinse thoroughly and let dry. A hairdryer can facilitate the process for the impatient. Wait until it is dry before you begin assessing the colour because it will change.
My wool came out more of a charcoal, but I’m fine with that. Natural black dyes, such as from walnut, would easily fade. If I had, had more dye then it would have been darker; see aforementioned impatience.

Today is International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

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The following is from the official website.

"In more than 80 countries around the world, homosexual acts are still illegal. Sometimes the law dictates life imprisonment. In seven countries the death penalty may be applied. Even in countries where homosexuality is not illegal, discrimination and physical assault is more than frequent. It is even worse for trans people who are particularly exposed, and for lesbians, who are particularly made invisible. In some countries, there is a positive progress, but it is fragile. In others, the situation is worse every year.
Each year, for May 17th, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia reminds everybody there is a need for action. It is celebrated through actions (exhibitions, screenings, debates, shows, TV or radio programs, etc.), and promoted by individuals, organizations, institutions, cities, governments in more than 60 countries, on every continent, from Albania to Zimbabwe.
Today, for May 17th, International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, we ask:
• all political leaders to fight by any means against violence and discrimination related
to sexual orientation and gender identity;
• all citizens to use this day to encourage hope, diversity and peace in the world, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity."

Fabric on a Dime

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Wool and linen out of season can easily cost $25 a yard. With a bit of patience and a little research you can glean thrift stores for material. Wool skirt with a touch of spandex from Goodwill: $6.99. Pure linen skirt: $6.99. Black leather jacket: $9.99. I was even eyeing a gorgeous fur coat of hideous design for $14.99; since the warm weather has set in I decided to hold off. Add a seam-ripper and an afternoon of NCIS episodes later you have raw materials. Seam-rippers have a bad reputation. But you are not undoing hours of your own hard work, you are rescuing precious fabric! (Pre-serged edges are another bonus).

True, you are unlikely to get a 45” wide expanse of untouched fabric, but don’t let that stop you. Since materials were expensive and labour was cheap, old clothing was repurposed whenever possible; often multiple times. Their looms were not very wide to begin with, resulting in garments that used fabrics conservatively. For example, the wool used in the Bocksten cloak was woven on a loom 23.6 inches (60 cm) wide.

It’s best to start out with some projects in mind so you don’t stand around wondering what you could make out of that wool skirt. An idea will inevitably occur to you and you’ll end up spending more money than you originally intended, defeating the purpose entirely. Unbelievable as it may be, I have little to no garb. So I was looking for some contrasting linen for edging on a T-tunic or possibly side-less gown, wool for a chaperone or ideally a pair of hosen, and leather for turn-shoes.

Ideal clothes for this are plus-sized with as few seams as possible in colours appropriate to your persona. I start off in the dress section and run my hand along the rack, stopping if I see or feel something that might work. I do this to cut time because finding the fiddly little tags can be annoying, if they are even intact. With some experience you can identify wool, linen, and leather by sight, feel, and even scent. (Just don’t try sniffing those boots to see if they’re really leather). Remember that you will not be wearing the product as is; so while you may not wear that coral dress cut like a potato sack, it’s perfect for your needs.

The bedding section is worth a look, but don’t get your hopes up. It’s mostly cotton. Unless your persona is Middle Eastern, it was late period, rare, and expensive. White cotton sheets are perfect for undergarments if they are thin enough, and no one should be seeing your underwear, anyway. If you make your own patterns, then they are indispensable for muslin mockups.

Do not feel guilty about dissecting your finds because you will be giving them a home whereas they might have languished indefinitely between the polyester bellbottoms and the scary acrylic ‘80’s sweater. When I purchased my most recent haul I told the cashier that a bag was not necessary as I was just going to cut them up. She was surprised until I elaborated upon their destiny. Then I pointed out the worn seams on the leather jacket and told her not to mourn it.

Save the zippers, buttons, and other notions for modern projects. If you are especially ambitious, save every scrap for appliqué work and/or stuffing pillows. After tedious seam-ripping, wash and dry the separated pieces according to the tag’s instructions. Just because they were pre-owned does not mean that they have been pre-shrunk, I have seen many clothes in thrift stores with the original tags attached. After that you can start laying out your pattern, just watch your grain-lines.


Here's what the wool skirt looks like deconstructed: