Notes From The Ebb Tide

Its been over a year since I’ve posted here. So much has changed. So much has grown and shriveled and mutated I daren’t even try to detail it for fear of fucking it up. So I won’t.

Instead, a wish for all who read it this season-tide: May you never lose your wonder. Even when it is terrifying, even when it is painful, never lose your wonder.

Hedgehog Recipes- #7, Fridge Pickles


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For when you want something tasty that you can at least pretend has vitamins.

  • 1 cucumber, peeled, and sliced into rounds (I used a mandoline because I am lazy)
  • A small amount of sliced red onion, about a palmful
  • Container big enough to hold the sliced veggies with sealable lid (I used a glass pint jar, held everything nicely)
  • Sprinkle of salt
  • Generous splash of Flavorful Vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
  • Tasty Vinegar enough to fill up jar (I used rice vinegar)
  • Up to two pinches of sugar (or honey, or molasses- I used dark brown sugar because I like it)

Mix cucumber slices and red onion evenly. Sprinkle very lightly with salt; pack firmly into jar. Try to pack it relatively solid- air pockets are not helpful. Once packed, add the Flavorful Vinegar in whatever amount you like. Top it off with the Tasty Vinegar until it just covers the veggies. Put in your two pinches of sweetener. Seal jar and shake it vigorously. Check vinegar level- you may need to top it off.

These are really tasty. The smidge of sweet tones down the vinegar bite, while the vinegar mellows the onions to a tolerable level. You can eat them fresh out of the jar, in which case the veggies are still crisp and crunchy. Let them set in the fridge and they will wilt somewhat, but the flavors will marry and the red onion will tint everything pink.

What do you do with fridge pickles once you make them? Whatever strikes your fancy. I like them straight out of the jar (onions too), but they are also good in salads and as side dishes in bentos.

Try to eat the veggies within a week- as long as the vinegar covers them they will keep, but they are best within that week. The brine can be reused with a fresh batch of vegetative matter; simply strain through a paper coffee filter and pour over the new batch, topping up as needed to cover.

Experiment! Try pickling peeled broccoli stems, carrot rounds or shreds, and any other sort of vegetable that you think could use a dip in tasty vinegar. The brine itself can be used to make vinaigrette. As you can see, this is a very flexible recipe. If you keep your batches small while testing, a failure isn’t a horrendous waste of food. Besides, a rotation of different types and flavors keeps this tasty and un-boring.


It Is The Thing, And The Whole Of The Thing


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(Crossposted from Tumblr because 1) I want to save it and 2) I should probably post something on here before the year runs out. Enjoy.)

The title of this post is from a Terry Prachett Discworld book. Which I honestly think should be required reading for everyone, but especially those who paddle in woo. Can’t remember which one (and am currently not in the same house as the books so I can’t check), but it involved that world’s version of dwarves.

The king of the dwarves held up his axe, and told Captain Vimes that it was his father’s axe, and the axe of his father before him, and so on. Sometimes the handle would break, or the blade require replacing, but it was still his father’s axe. It could be completely replaced and have nothing of it’s original making left to it, but it was still the axe of his forefathers. Which was summed up in the phrase “It is the thing, and the whole of the thing.”

It is the thing, and the whole of the thing.

Its a pretty good description of the vast majority of symbols we use. Especially if we are using it to symbolize something we cannot touch, whether because it is intangible to begin with, or because it is unreachable for various and sundry reasons. A mass-produced resin saint statue, for instance, or a picture of a holy place. All ways to connect to something we otherwise couldn’t. Sort of a symbolic telephone network.

The one great strength and flaw of symbols is their malleability. Anything can stand for anything else. It is the viewer who determines what the symbol is. Let’s think of that mass-produced resin saint statue. We’ll say its a statue of Saint Barbara. To a Catholic, it is the saint. To a practitioner of Santeria, it’s Chango/Shango. (I am vastly oversimplifying here for the sake of word count.) To a pagan, any sort of deity or spirit that they think should or could fit the statue would then use that symbol, for them.

This leads back to the role of perspective in the use of symbols. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that no one, ever, can own a symbol. They can only own their own perspective of it. The pentagram is a good example. For Christians it symbolizes the five wounds of Christ. For Pythagoras’s ancient Greek group, it was a symbol of mathematical grace. For modern Wiccans and various flavors of Pagan, generally it represents the four Classical elements overseen by Spirit.

Even oathbound, closed, and any other sort of tradition with a huge “DO NOT DISTURB” sign on them cannot own the symbols they use. They can own their perspective on it, and they can control the distribution of that perspective. Which is basically all any culture or group does to shape the reaction of it’s members in the direction that is appropriate for that group. But someone who uses the exact same symbol as an oathbound tradition but lacks the perspective the oathbound folk have will not necessarily have the same experience.

Which brings me to another point. The journey of finding your own perspective of a symbol. In the process of learning about and interacting with a symbol, you form your perspective. Without that process, there would be no perspective. Cultures and outside information can change the process, thereby changing the perspective. So choosing the influences you allow, shun, or encourage while studying a symbol is vital. And if your perspective of the symbol shifts, you still have the value of the study. If you had not studied, the shift wouldn’t have happened and you would not be where you are.

It is the thing, and the whole of the thing.

It is the thing, and all that it entails.

It was the thing, and now is something else.

It is not the thing yet, but it will be one day.

It was never the thing, and for you it never will be.

It is the thing, and the whole of the thing.


Ancestors of Blood, Flesh, and Bone


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Disclaimer- I know no more than the next person about this. I have no direct line to the inner workings of the Universe. This is my brain fomenting, so take it as such.

This particular triumvirate has been on my mind for a while. For a long time I was focused on the bone and blood. It wasn’t until the flesh part kicked me in the head that I really understood.

So, what the hell am I talking about?  I’m talking about a conceptualization of a particular person’s ancestors- that they fall into the three “categories” so described.

The Ancestors of Bone are the ancestors that come through the family line, the literal antecedents and relatives related by birth and upbringing (an adopted child could very well go with the Bones of the adopted family, for example). They are not necessarily active nor interested in a descendent, just as the descendent may not be interested in them. Still, without them you wouldn’t be walking around so they form the bones of the operation.

The Ancestors of Blood are those that you honor but that are not necessarily related. Family friends that are dear to you would be one example. A member of a coven may appeal to previous members, or an aspiring writer seek to honor long dead writers. The idea here is the sharing of like blood; a resonance that links the two together. There is also the notion that blood can be changed and shared in ways that bone can’t be. (It is also quite possible that the ancestor in question may not involve themselves with the one seeking them.)

The Ancestors of Flesh are those of Blood and Bone that actually interact with a person. You can have a whole bunch of dead folks in your family tree (thus being the Bones) and have a mere handful that actually interact with you. They would be both Ancestors of Bone and of Flesh. You can honor many writers, but say only Yeats really reciprocated. He would be both Blood and Flesh, as well. The flesh part is a reference to the person in question, the one doing the honoring and venerating.

In fact, the whole system is in relation to the person with the ancestors. Bone at the core, Blood to animate, Flesh to make us who we are.

(That’s my brain-foo for the day. Enjoy~)

Double Double Toil and Trouble….


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*takes a dustmop to the blog* I swear, Tumblr is a black hole in disguise….

Anyway, I figured that this topic is a good one for this blog, so here I am. The topic at hand? Ingredients for magic, some ideas on how to make them, and some ideas on what to use. (Thus the vague Macbeth allusion for the title. Hardly original, I know.)

The first thing to decide is the purpose of your mix, no matter what form of delivery (room spray, tea, dusting powder, oil, spell bottle ingredient, etc.) it takes. Spend some time on this (demands and time permitting). This’ll help you decide what to use. For example, say you wanted a defensive mix. You want anyone who touches it to get “poked”, and you want that poke to cling to them to remind them not to fuck with you again. So you’d look for things that stick and cling- cockleburrs, burr clover, thornapple pods (which you would be VERY CAREFUL with, considering how dangerous they can be), sweetgum balls, chestnut spines, in addition to other things that stab, like nettles, thistles, and thorns of various stripes.

Next comes delivery method. What best suits the purpose? Want a happy home? A room spray would be a good way to do it. Want to deliver a curse fairly incognito? A powder, or perhaps a mudball lobbed onto their property. If your desired ingredients are poisonous (or you aren’t absolutely, utterly, and completely certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are safe for human consumption) it wouldn’t be a good idea to make the delivery method a tea, for example. Some things are so dangerous you wouldn’t want them to come in contact with your skin, period, which would rule out topical oils and tinctures, room sprays and even dusting powders. In such cases, if there is absolutely no alternative or substitution that could be made, I’d probably go with putting it in a spell bottle for safety’s sake.

Next, start making it. If you want a powder, make sure your ingredients are dry and start grinding. (If you can afford it, a Magic Bullet or similar grinder used solely for non-edible stuff can be a great timesaver.) Making a room spray? Decide on what fluid you will use. Mudball? Get your ingredients and some mud. Spell bottle? You’re gonna need a bottle that can be closed.

Extractions can be made with various fluids. I’m currently on an extract kick, though I have been known to mix up powders and such. My current (much preferred) method of extraction is with vodka. You could use any alcohol, water, oil, vinegar- whatever pleases you (technically 4 Thieves Vinegar and teas are extractions, if you wanna get particular.) I currently have two very different batches percolating- a variation on the aforementioned defense formula and the beginnings of a sunshine blend. With vodka you can use fresh or dry ingredients; keep a good eye out for mold, though. I generally stick everything in the jar with a lid and shake several times a day until it looks about right. The bonus of using this method is that the leftover plant materials can be used to make an incense or a powder blend- thrifty spellwork is happy spellwork.

(Notice I haven’t used “textbook” definitions for plant correspondences- that’s because I tend to believe that each person comes at a plant a little differently. Use the correspondences that make sense and continue on from there.)

Now, as for non-botanical additions….. use your imagination. Add some rusty nails to a protection blend to get that “Fuck with me and I’ll cut you with my rusty tetanus blade!” vibe (thus the purpose of War Water). Grind up some red bricks to get red brick dust (a common hoodoo item) and use it to make some metaphysical walls. Add soap shavings to a cleansing blend. Run a magnet over sand and scrape off the bits that cling to add some attraction to things. Write your intent on a piece of paper, burn it, and add the ashes to an appropriately-themed oil. Put a money working in a balloon to help make it stretch.

Think beyond the 101 books. Engage with spells and potions. Use logic that makes sense to you, because that will make things stronger for you. And have fun.

What They Want Is The Light


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They skim the shine off moonbeams and trap skeins of sunlight in dusty dirty liquor bottles. They steal the glint in a lover’s eye and the glow of hate’s embers. They are not interested in color (though what they leave behind is curiously dim), nor magic (though what they take is sometimes powerful indeed). What they want is the light.

Every junkie has a preference, a secret recipe. Three dippers-full of straight sun, a half a coffee can of neon-tube glow, a scant handful of the bio-luminescence of certain deep-sea creatures brought up to the surface by strange tides. Some prefer the harsh bite of an arc-sodium lamp, others the strong clean taste of LED. Those with a more classic palette adore the smokey burn of a bonfire or the quick acid bite of a glowworm or a firefly.

Most start simple, drawing the light away from a candle or a quick sip of a passing sunbeam. Once you start though, the craving sinks in deep, to be filled with the light, illuminating all the dark corners. People spend their lives chasing it, tasting all the different ways the light changes itself. Some burn themselves out chasing the glow. Some kill themselves rather than court shadow again.

Some change.

They look like any other light junkie on the outside, but inside…. its like a dark hole. The collapsed heart of a star desperately drawing in everything it can, even light (especially light) to fill the aching hole where it once shone. They pull the light in, all the light, the light in a young child’s eyes and the reflection of sunset on water and the green-tinted light of a forest and the brightness of a painting and the soft illumination of love on a young man’s face. All of the light, every speck and sip and drop, no longer drinking it in but still swallowing, gulping it down and never ever getting full because the darkness grows as fast as the light streams in.

They’re desperate, you see. They’ll do anything for more light, purer light, better light, truer light that will overwhelm even the strength of an event horizon and fill them, even though their shadows have grown so very very deep. They are desperate. They’ll do anything.

Drink the moon.

Swallow the sun.

Absorb the gleam of the Milky Way.

Eat all of the universe, every sun and star and planet glowing with life and death and everything in between.

Anything, for a fix of light.

New Year, New Tarot Spreads



I thought I’d pass these along 🙂 I made the Trollway a couple months ago, the Door around Christmas. Enjoy and let me know what you think of them!

It’s supposed to look vaguely like a door with a handle. Ish. Can be read with or without a question in mind.

  • To start, you deal the doorway itself, facedown, in this case cards 1-4. (You can add more, if you like. Four’s about my limit for a coherent reading.) Cards 1-4 are read as a group. This is the door that you need to pass through. Card 5 is the key to opening the door, and is dealt facedown and sideways (crappily represented as the sketchy black outline up there).
  • Once all cards are dealt, before you flip anything over, turn the fifth card upright (the red rectangle, if you were wondering). It doesn’t matter which way you turn it; this is your influence on the “door”. Even if you don’t normally read with reversals, don’t “correct” it.

Since I posted this on Tumblr, a person called lacartetreizieme did a wonderful adaptation, so go check it out 🙂 It has a photo and everything.

This one, as my charmingly crap Paint picture says, is the one I call the Trollbridge, or the Trollway. It is designed to show you the beginning of a journey, the stuff in the middle, and the end (i.e., the beginning, the end, and the bridge that connects these outcomes). The Troll comes into play (a la 3 Billy Goats Gruff) as the card that menaces you. Doesn’t matter how nice it appears; that’s the card that is going to try and put a stop to your bridgewalking.

Spread can be used at least two ways; one normal, one a sort of witchy hybrid.

Method 1– for use with or without a question

  • Deal the cards facedown in an arc in an arc, 1 through 5 (you certainly can deal more for a more detailed look, or less. I’m comfortable with 5 so that’s the amount I regularly use. Bare minimum for the bridge-arc is 3 cards).
  • Deal the Troll underneath, facedown.
  • You can turn them over in any way you wish; all in a line, one after another, or whatever you prefer. In my case, I generally turn over the “feet” of the bridge first (1 and 5), then the bridge (2, 3, and 4), then the Troll (6). Just a personal preference.
  • Interpret accordingly. The “feet” are the beginning and the end of the bridge you face. The arc is the path you either need to cross to get there, or will cross to get there. The Troll, as previously mentioned, will be doing its best to pull you off the bridge entirely. Be wary of what that card represents.

Method 2– For use with a specific question (please read entirely before doing, folks) (could also be used as a writing exercise for the plot-driven among you)

  • Pick a card that represents you as you are, or the situation as it is. This card is placed face up in the #1 position. (Say, you’re having issues communicating emotionally with another; Page of Cups reversed in the number one position fits the bill nicely.)
  • Pick a card that represents what you want the resolution to be. This goes faceup in the #5 position. (You want there to be a caring resolution to the whole mess, and want to be better at such communication in general; you decide Queen of Cups suits you and put her in the #5 position.)
  • Now, deal the rest of the cards in, face down. (This would be #2, 3, 4, and 6, in order.) Numbers 2, 3, and 4 are what you will have to get through to reach your “happy ending”. #6, our ever lovely Troll, is what is trying to fuck you up.
  • Flip 2, 3, 4, and 6. Read accordingly. (Hmm. You draw: #2, 3 of Swords, #3, The Devil, #4, The Tower. Jealousy, blindness (possibly with carnal overtones), and complete destruction of what you though was stable. Your Troll is 7 of Cups reversed; all the possibilities and daydreams pulling you away from reality. So, you will be working very very very hard for that happy ending.)

Goodbye Children of Man



My tears to wash your blood away, my flame to light your path. May your road unfurl at your feet, and may it be broad and clear.

A thousand of sweet water, a thousand of fresh bread, a thousand of every good thing to you. May you all Become.


Guide them well, Baron. Hold them close to you in the Waters. Don’t let them be lost in the ‘Tweentime.

Tanning 101



Crosspost/gatherup of a series I did on my Tumblr. Enjoy!

I should probably mention at this time that rubber gloves and soap’n’water may be helpful in preventing nasty death bacteria from infecting you. I was stupid lucky and didn’t catch anything from a domestic goat skin that had spent considerable time under salt. I also have a relatively good immune system (when chemo had just finished? You wouldn’t have caught me near this shit). The chemicals involved will help protect you to an extent, but (ESPECIALLY when tanning wild and/or roadkill hides) rubber gloves and careful sanitation will help keep you from contracting NASTY DEATH-DEALING INFECTIONS OF PUKE BLOOD SHIT AND TERROR that will send you to the hospital and require medicines and money to fix if they don’t kill you outright. Much better to just wear rubber gloves and wash with good soap, yeah?

[I’m trying to scare you, but not completely off- with simple rules and precautions (NO LICKING THE HALF CURED HIDES. DO NOT DRINK THE BONG TANNING WATER.) tanning this way can be fun, pretty simple, and totally worth it. But there’s no need to be stupid about it, and an untanned skin can rot. Anything rotten can grow bacteria of a sort that can seriously hurt you. And it is far better to be safe than sorry when handling dead things. Be sensible here, people.]

So, you want to tan a hide, for various and sundry reasons. But you a) don’t know how, b) can’t buy a lot of special ingredients, and c) are more than a bit intimidated by the whole process.

Fear not. I have the answer 😉 The recipe is good for tanning hides with hair on or off. Not so good for feet-on, though. It works for any kind of skin, from rabbit to goat to cow. It is mammal only, so no tanning bird leather this go-round 😉

First off, we secure the necessary chemicals. Most can be found at a grocery store or a place such as Wal-mart- what can’t, can be ordered relatively cheaply online.

Here’s your list (for the very basic recipe):

  • Borax, at least 1 ounce (20 Mule Team Borax, a 4lb 12oz box was less than $4 at Wal-mart. Is good shit to clean around house with, too.)
  • Saltpetre [potassium nitrate], 1/2 ounce (I had some lying around, but since it is used to make stuff like corned beef its fairly easy and not illegal to get a hold of. Specialty foods store should have it, or any one of a plethora of online suppliers.)
  • Sodium Sulfate, 1/2 ounce (According to my mother, this is optional. She didn’t have it to use and just omitted it. 20+ years later the skins she made were still good, so I think its ok if you can’t find it. If not, look online at chemistry supply sites.)
  • Sodium Carbonate, 1 ounce (either look for washing soda in the laundry section, or pH balancer in the spa section. I got a 4 lb box at Wally World for less than $4, and it also makes excellent household cleanser. Just make sure you’re buying carbonate not bicarbonate at this time)
  • Refined Soap, 2 ounces (I found Kirk’s Original Coco Castile at a tiny grocery store. It’s also available online. Though my mother recommends Kirk’s, I’m going to use a powdered hand soap [with borax!] that we found because I roll that way. Any good castile soap will work, as long as it has no scent.)
  • Sodium Bicarbonate, or Baking Soda- anywhere from 2 to 8 ounces, depending on how much you repeat that part of the recipe (I got a 1 lb box for less than a dollar.)
  • Alum, 4 to 16 ounces (OH MY FUCKING GOD BUY THIS SHIT ONLINE. Walmart does not have it. Kmart does not have it. Winco had it, for $4 a 1.9 ounce jar. BUY IT IN BULK ONLINE, YOU WILL SCREAM FAR LESS. It’s used in pickling, if that helps you find it.)
  • Salt, 8 to 32 ounces (I had a bunch, but it doesn’t need to be special salt. Just yer basic sodium chloride, in bulk.)
  • Distilled water, to mix chemicals in (you can rinse the hides in tap water, but you want to mix chemicals in good clean water)

That’s it! Please get ALL THE SUPPLIES before you start. Trust me, it will make shit a lot easier later on. And the beauty of it is that none of it goes bad, so you can get it far in advance of any skins.

In addition, you will need a bucket large enough to hold all the skin(s) fully submerged in water, a brush to scrub with, a sharp knife to scrape the hide with (if it wasn’t cleaned previously), a bowl to mix your ingredients in, a brush, a place to hang it to drip dry, a warm place, and a cool-but-not-freezing place. Once the leather is tanned, you’ll need sandpaper and/or a pumice stone.

I HIGHLY SUGGEST you do this outside in scrubby clothes. It has a definite aroma, so factor that into your preparations. Or, do it in an easy-to-clean bathroom.

(I leave it up to the reader to procure the skin. These instructions are for once you’ve got the skin off the animal in one nice floppy piece or more, depending on how good you were at cutting.)

Now comes the messiest and most time consuming part- de-fleshing the skin. With a sharp knife and a pair of pliers, scrape, pinch, and pull off every scrap of flesh and fat and membrane until you have only skin left, corner to corner, edge to edge. What you can’t scrape off will have to be trimmed off later. You could tell on my goat skin because the skin was clean and white, and where cut you could see the hairs rooted in the skin. It also took me two hours humped over the damn board to do that, my knife and pliers and hands were soaked in greasy goat fat, and I smelled. (A protip- sometimes the membrane comes off easier if allowed to dry slightly, especially on fatty animals.) (Another protip- do not wear your best clothes or shoes for this shit.)

Now, since I took a while to get my supplies together, I stretched and salted my hide to preserve it from flies (my mom managed to start a colony of dermestrid beetles in a forgotten skin so the concern is a viable one). (By stretching and salting it, I essentially made goat rawhide. Regular rawhide can be used to practice on, should you not want to ruin your pretty pieces.) To prepare it for use, I soaked all the salt out. You could freeze skins fresh, if time is a concern, or use them fresh off the animal. Just let them sit in salted water to draw out any subdural blood, rinse well, then continue with the tanning process.

Now you must decide if you want hair on or off. If you want hair on, ignore the rest of this paragraph. If you want smooth leather, allow the skin to sit, fully submerged in water, for several days in a warm area (a sunny spot, in a bucket, with a board or lid to keep the bugs out works admirably). What you are doing is basically letting the skin rot slightly so the hair loosens and pulls out easily. Tug on it every day and when it starts shedding like a white cat on black velvet start plucking and scraping.

For each skin you’re tanning (because you can do more than one at a time, depending on bucket size and amount of chemicals), take a half ounce of the borax, saltpeter, and sodium sulfate (if you have the sulfate. I didn’t and it came out just fine.) (If you have a large skin, like, say, a goat instead of a rabbit, you may have to increase the amount of chemicals to get a decent coat on the skin. Just keep the ratio of 1:1:1 and you’re golden.) Take your distilled water and add just enough to make a spreadable but not runny paste. You want this crap to stay in place, not ooze out the sides.

Now, spread your goop on the FLESH SIDE ONLY of your hide (even if you scraped off the hairs. This is very very important.) Make sure you get a decent smear on there; it doesn’t need to be caked on, though (think a glaze instead of buttercream frosting, if culinary metaphors get you going). Fold the skin in half, flesh side inwards, trying to be as even as the skin itself allows. (If space is an issue you can fold it up further, just as long as the goop stays on the flesh side.)

Set it somewhere cool, but with no chance of freezing, for 24 hours. Yes, that’s right, 24 hours. (I recommend starting it at a time when you know you’ll have time to work on it each day. This recipe doesn’t involve much intensive labor but it does involve daily poking.) I started mine in the evening because that’s when I had spare time. You can start it whenever is best for you, though I do recommend having your 24 hour sitting place be a) outside and b) as fly-proof as you can manage. (a because it smells, b because actual preservation does not occur until day three so the threat of maggots is a real one.) I also recommend having a hose or water source available to rinse the skin(s) during the tanning process. Be careful of runoff, because some of the crap is not good for living green things.

Near as I can tell, this is a three stage process. Day one (this one) seems to pull the fat and rancid-causing crap out of the skin (I base this idea on the yellow greasy shit that appeared overnight while my goat skin was undergoing Day One.) Day Two cleans all the icky crap off of the skin, while Day Three+ actually preserves it. (For all you pagan types and/or spiritual peoples, this translates awful well into a ritual of release for the spirit of the animal, should that be desired. Or a ritual of transformation. Just a simple thought…)

Once it has sat for 24 hours, take your skin and hose the worst of the fatslime off. (By now it should be smelling a leeeeettle ripe. Fear not, it’ll get better.

You got two ways to mix up your goop for today- with powdered soap (like I did), or unperfumed castile soap (Kirk’s Coco Castile is just about perfect, if you can find it). If using powdered soap, take 1 ounce sodium carbonate, 1/2 ounce borax, and 2 ounces powdered soap, and mix together in distilled water. (Cool chemistry fact- the concoction will heat up even if you’re using cold water. Not enough to burn, just enough to be warm.) If using castile soap, mix up the 1 ounce of sodium carbonate, 1/2 ounce of borax, and 2 ounces of castile soap in a pan on the stove. Melt the soap slowly- DO NOT ALLOW TO BOIL– and mix thoroughly.

Either way, once you’ve prepared your goop, spread it over the flesh side and fold in half again. Put it in a fly-proof container and set in somewhere warm for another 24 hours. (Or, put it somewhere where it can catch the sun for half that time.) This stage gets the rancid-causing stuff off and cleans the skin very very well.

Hose off the worst off the goop, and get some hot water (you can boil distilled water, or use hot tap water if you have soft water) sufficient to dip your skin into wholesale. Add 2 ounces of Sodium Bicarbonate, dissolve completely in the hot water, and then soak your skin in that.

While the skin is soaking, prepare another batch of hot water. Take 4 ounces of alum and 8 ounces of salt, and dissolve that to the fresh batch of hot water. Take the skin out of the bicarbonate water and wring most of the water out; then put the skin in the alum/salt water.

Let sit for twelve hours. Remove from water; wring excess water out then set it up somewhere to dry (either hang it up or put it on an incline). Allow to dry for another 12 hours.

Once the skin is dry you can move on to the next step, which is repeating the alum/salt bath and the 12 hour soak/dry cycle up to 4 times, depending on preference and how soft you want the hide. I did mine twice and it remained pretty flexible, so feel free to experiment with how many repetitions you do here. By now it should smell like leather instead of wet dead thing (the repeated alum/salt baths really helped with that stank, I found).

So, once you’re done with the final drying, you’re all set right?

Wrong. Now comes the most pain in the ass part of the whole process- working the leather to suppleness. You bend it. You fold it. You beat it with sticks. If you have no hair on it, you chew the motherfucker into submission. You roll it over pipes and play tug-o-war with it until the fibers in the skin are loosened and it behaves. Neat’s foot oil can help (though not if you’re chewing it, because bleh), though not too much at a time because then it turns into a greasy mess. When it’s finished your leather will be supple and easy to bend and fold. (Improvement comes with practice. Lots of practice.)

For those interested, I got the recipe pretty much verbatim (though translated into modern vernacular) from Dr. Chase’s Recipes, which you may purchase in a paperback edition or read for free on Google Books. (Yon link should direct to the recipe itself. If not, search for “fifty dollar leather recipe”.) I do recommend it, because it’s stuffed full of how to do the things that most cell-phone-toting peoples have forgotten how to do. Take it with a grain of salt though, because some of the medicines and preparations and things have since been found ineffective or just plain toxic (like the white lead in the patent leather recipe).



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Or, how to protect yourself from crap while maintaining a low profile, because sometimes you don’t want them to know you know what they’re doing.

Let’s face it- sometimes you need some protection but you can’t go around billowing sage everywhere, covered in occult jewelry and intoning Kabbalistic rituals in a business meeting. This is just a rough idea of how to make a covert personal, portable ward. Feel free to tweak this method to suit your needs.

(Been using this recently with a pair of I’m-almost-certain-it’s-not-on-purpose energy vacuums in the class I work at. Since I’m not feeling the drain any more that goes away about an hour after they leave, I’m calling it good. I created it primarily to keep energy suckers at bay, but the theory is the same for most protective applications.)

A Method To Create Personal Wards Centered In Camouflage Items

  • Find an item suitable for being a stealth ward. This could be anything- a scrunchie, a hair clip, a necklace, any sort of jewelry, special underwear, whatever you prefer. Don’t have it be a favorite thing you wear all the time, but a thing that you like enough to wear whenever it is needed. (The axe necklace I use used to be one of several I wore in rotation/whenever the mood strikes. It isn’t THE favorite, but definitely favored.) This keeps woo-drainage to a minimum and keeps the purpose sharply focused. (Think of it this way- your ward is a flashlight, yeah? You could use it all the time, even when you didn’t need it, or you could use it when you needed it only and get a lot longer on a single “charge”.)
  • Spend some time thinking about the shape of your ward and how it functions. Will your scrunchie blow up into a quivering blob of jelly that absorbs or bounces back any attack or intrusion? Will your butterfly hair clip sprout into a thousand thousand butterflies that swirl around you, taking the hits meant for you and sprouting new ones from the absorbed energy as fast as they are crisped? Will your black satin panties extend into a Catsuit of Sneakery that makes you invisible in plain sight? Will your dagger eardrop turn into a floating sword that chops off any suckers that come near? Will your crystal point send out rays of destructive force to crisp feelers? Think creatively; the more the ward ties in with the physical shape and makes sense in your head, the more power it will have for you.
  • Decide if you want help. I blessed my necklace with some of Baron’s Pepper Rum and asked that he help keep stuff off (which serves a double purpose, in that the rum is hot enough to tell Ilk to fuck off in and of itself, but more on that later.) I also keep it on an altar in a sort of charging/sacred dish when not in use. You could ask your dead folk, a beloved deity- choice is yours. Just remember to stick with who and what you trust implicitly. If you try to use a ward blessed and/or consecrated to a spirit to block said spirit I doubt if it will work as desired.
  • Decide how it will be powered. Are you using your own personal energy? Recharging with sun or moon light? Feeding the ward various powders or potions? Use what you prefer. (I recommend sunlight, if its an offensive ward [to blast and burn, i.e. the floating sword and LAZER CRYSTAL] or moonlight, if it is defensive [to hide or protect, i.e. the Catsuit Panties and scrunchieblob] if you have little or no experience in powering things yet.)
  • Decide if you’re dressing the ward with some sort of concoction. Hoodoo condition oils come to mind, like Fiery Wall of Protection to blast, or Florida Water to make you too clean to chew on. The previously mentioned pepper rum -even if it hadn’t been blessed and made for Baron- would fall under this category because it is ridiculously hot. Cinnamon oil or dragon’s blood oil, etc. would also count.

Gather whatever supplies you need. If you’re using moon phases to add to the oomph, factor that in. I recommend cleansing the ward first (sitting it a bowl of salt works, if you don’t have a preferred method) if you bought it new so you have a clean slate. If you don’t feel it necessary, or if you’ve had the item long enough to make it feel like its yours, then don’t- sometimes leaving the previous energies can be a good thing.

Now, tell the ward what it is supposed to do. Picture it strongly in your mind, what it should look like when activated and the effect it should have. SEE (or talk it out, for those who don’t mentally picture so good) those butterflies manifest, the sword fly about, the panties stretch like Venom on Spiderman. Belief is important here.

{I like to add a couple caveats in my “programming”- 1) that when I am being drained unwillingly and/or unknowingly, that my ward severs the contact in the previously-described way automatically, 2) that I can pull up the ward on manual whenever I desire, either by trigger [a word, a gesture] or by mental command, and 3) that I can take down the ward when it is active, again by either trigger or mental command. It’s your ward, do as you please.}

Once you’ve got the programming and the action of the ward fixed, state clearly how it will be powered. SEE the energy (I am fond of colored-fog-energy myself) entering the ward in the proscribed manner (i.e., sitting in sunshine and absorbing gold colored rays, sucking up energy out of potions, etc.). I also like to add a caveat here: if it is primarily run on “outside” energy (sunshine, moonshine, etc.), I can add personal energy at my conscious discretion whenever I so choose. (Acts kinda like a back-up battery.)

Now is the time to ask for blessings and apply concoctions, if you’re doing that part. Once it has all been asked, applied, and visualized, you might think that the ward was ready for use, and you would be wrong.It needs sealing, to you specifically, so no one and nothing else can muck about with it. You can use holy water, or blood, or an incantation, or a prolonged breath. Use something that is yours only.

Right now it is only running on the energy of creation, so before you take it out for a test drive in Energy Sucker Central, let it gather at least a few hours charge with your charging method. Otherwise you run the risk of burnout, or of having it try to work with nothing left to make it go. Once it has some woo-woo juice, you’re good to go. Every item is different, and will hold different charges for different amounts of time. Heavy use will require more frequent charging.

Its also a good idea to occasionally (say, once a month) reaffirm the programming- visualize the ward going up, coming down, and taking in energy in the proper manner. You can also fine-tune the ward at this time; say, your butterflies just aren’t cutting it and are burning up too fast. You could change it so once they take on damage they dive-bomb the source of the intrusion and blow up, burning it at the source. Maybe you prefer that they turn into mirror butterflies that cut the intrusion, blind the source, and hide you in plain sight. You can also change the charge method, if need be. The ward is malleable to you so make it what you need it to be.

And, if you use this method, tell me how it goes, ok? 😀