Category Archives: tools

THE Wombat

I’ll begin first with pretty picture.

I have been searching for a new bag. From high and low, internet and real life. I have quite big demands on a wombat.  Khm, no, I meant, for a bag. Well, I travel a lot and thus my entire life is with me constantly. So it has to be lightweight, durable to carry up to 6 kilos constantly, accessible without having to pack everything out, waterproof because of the weather and underacting with extreme weather changes from +30*C to -30*C. Oh, and preferably, it should last longer than two years.

So pretty fashionable ridicules were immediately out of the question – why get a monster big bag that doesn’t tolerate more than half a kilo in it? Or why search for fake leather if it will crack in minus temperatures?

I started going through ebay for messenger bags, but all the versions I liked were coming from China with marker of “I will arrive the next 30 days and can’t guarantee that the ends of the seams run on seams or if they are knotted or not”. When it comes to bags, I do like quality and am twice as paranoid to get quality.

As I was searching military stuff info for a friend, I scanned their bag section as well. Lots of backpacks. I’m not a woodpecker nor backpacker. I need something urban.

And then, out of the blue, my eyes stopped on a shoulder bag not much bigger than what I have right now, thick, lots of pockets (always a big plus!), waterproof, comes in many colors (except in the shop I found it from) and is meant for heavy lifting. And is part of MOLLE system, which I find to be very lovely invention. Helikon-Tex® WOMBAT Shoulder bag!

WOMBAT!

That bag is called Wombat! And here is the second pretty picture :). If you click the image, it will take you to the shop that sells this particular beauty.

I could say this is love from the first site. The only problem I saw with this bag was I couldn’t find not even one black version in Estonia. And with my currently developing taste of style, I can’t see myself rolling around in military olive or desert tone, not to mention the camouflage versions, which I couldn’t find at all. It can be very frustrating to find the bag that seems closest to your wanna-list and discover that the only minus it has is it’s color. Hey, I’m a woman, and if I must put out close to 50 euros to get myself a good bag, I want it my way.

But I know I want the Wombat.

And I found it! Closest to Estonia that had black ready for shipping and with firm that is all to well familiar with where to deliver it!

So all I’m left to do now is to wait. Brother’s gonna have a field day – Sis got herself a purse. From military shop from Poland.

TB-WBT-PO

 

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Evil versatility

Borrowing from other cultures when dealing with magic. I don’t even know how did that suddenly come up in topics.

I personally like borrowing from other cultures and see nothing evil of it. Especially, when it comes to learning new crafty ways.  Yet I can’t say that when it comes in personal beliefs that I am all open and willing to take everything as pure truth and add it up to one big mess.

Because of that “mess”, as my friend so neatly put it, is why so many pagans advocate not mixing up so much and support learning one system deeply and others more for knowledge than practice.

I guess I can say I agree that when it comes to witchcraft, knowing one system deeply does have it’s advantages. At the same time, closing yourself off from new things and not learning how to use them can be just as devastating to your workings.

The more I learn on my path, the more I incline towards northern mythology and folklore. It’s my home base, so I feel good in this environment and I know the plants here best. Plus I grew up in this system, even if not factually being pagan.

I know how exiting it is for a beginner to learn all the new systems and possibilities. I’ve been there too – the moment internet opened up in front of me, I happened on a pagan portal – I was off and rolling. But it becomes very overwhelming after a while and soon you’ll start making adjustments and choosing what works true for you. Still, when it comes finding new ideas, I’m all ears and eager to try them out. BUT, and that is quite a big BUT. I adapt.

This week’s Pagan Perspective topic is “Pre-made vs. Original”. I have spoken of it before that I belong in the group, who rather does things as they feel right than do them in the absolute perfect moment and not feel right. I have chosen not to use ceremonies for example that call out gods or goddesses that I am not so familiar with. But if I find something in the pre-made ceremony that I like, I won’t hesitate it to adapt for the deities I am using.  Especially, when you are just beginning, it is very hard to get ceremonies the way you want without some pre-study or trying out the ones that you read about. Because, as far as I know, those ceremonies are a result of years of self-doing, too. If you take Gardner’s Blue book, it is adaptions of other ceremonies and ways which have never been meant as the one and only way.

About adapting. 

Witchcraft is exactly what the word refers to – it’s a craft. Like every craftsman, you have the freedom of learning new helpful tricks and bits to get better in it.  But when I try this new “trick” out, I fix it so it suits in my general practice rather than adopt whole new belief system. Where comes the belief that if you create item that is generally used in another belief system, you sort of also take over that belief system, is beyond me. You don’t take it over. You adapt it.

For example doll making. It is one of the most used magical craft there is. For evil, for good, for healing, to make someone sick – you name it. Yet the belief system most related with it is voodoo and american corn dollies. I have no fondness for them, so I don’t make corn dollies (and I can’t get my hands on the sort of material needed).  But I have made them of branches and cloths or sewn a simple ones or made beaded dolls.

However, local folklore talks about wax dolls, which I find very intriguing. So even though I learned about the uses of the dolls from foreign cultures, there is alternative to them. Only, the stories I found from our local culture warn about the horrors if you get it wrong. One thing was common in them – all those dolls worked the way you wanted, but living with the consequences is much harder than most give themselves credit for. But strange is that if I mention that I made a puppet, the first reaction I still get is “Hey! That’s voodoo! Why do you spoil our religion with something like that?”.

We share the same basics. All magical systems. They are all adaptions of something one witch has learned from another. Craft is tool – witch is the knowledge behind that craft.  I still turn to the god and goddess I have chosen for myself and do the workings in their light of wisdom. I can’t say I borrow from other religions, because my own is so poor that it doesn’t cover everything. It actually does. But if my neighbor knows a better way to cut the fabric, why must I continue ripping it with knife if I can use scissors? The intuition and power you put in that craft still comes from your religious system. So what you are actually arguing about is decorations.

I write this and I keep thinking about James George Frazer book “The Golden Bough”. Though it is actually anthropological study and I dare to say some ideas are old by now, it is probably still one of the best books I have read regarding the similarities and differences of folkloric belief systems, where most of the knowledge and how-to comes from oral memory.

So to argue, IF to borrow, I think the question should actually be HOW to borrow? Because it is one thing that they press in our brain in lectures how we must keep our religion and culture clean of outside influences, totally another to kill it off, because you force it to stagnation duo fear of loosing your own. You don’t loose it. Making a dolly that is sewn together instead of wiring small sticks to human form is nothing more than crafty decorations. I’d say – go and learn both ways. Then you can at least teach your method to another and say you have tried others and you’re not suppressing them because they are foreign, but because you feel that your method is easier or gets more intention set in it duo longer process it takes to make it. What ever the reason you have then, it is better than just “because it is foreign!”. You too are foreign to others and would you like your craft get the same treatment? Being rejected, because of inability to learn and understand? Nobody tells you to take their system over, because you add new candle magic method in your craft abilities.

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Filed under Related to spirits and gods, tools, Year and a Day

Long paus over

It has been a long paus since I last updated what I was doing. Nothing new, I’m afraid – work, work, work and lots of stress. But now it’s all under control and working just as it should be.

But everything else! Oh my!

First, I sent off my first official submission for a story magazine. Yup! I did it! I sent the story! Well, I don’t know the results yet, but I can’t say I care much right now either, because to me it was important that I do it. That I will actually take the time, finish something and get it sent in in time. And I think as far as that purpose goes, I’ve fulfilled it. And this means that I have enough time to prepare, rewrite (because right now the reason I didn’t sent the story I was planning actually, is that it didn’t have time to be rewritten) the story and send that one off as well.

Secondly. Took a second step closer for a bugout bag. Or my weird understanding of it. That actually means I got myself a new bag and a pencil case to go with it. That pencil case has two big pockets which are in ideal size for a) the entire content of the handwork case. The other side should fit a good portion of the carry-with-you bugout items. Well, when I finally have them. Not because I’m crazy, but I kinda like the idea that I have them with me.
Oh, the selling point of the bag? It has pocket in size of my tarot cards! Considering I have bigger size than the regular sets, it is quite a troublesome to have them with me. Which I now can freely do, because they are situated so that they don’t hop around thus stay in shape better, which in the end means I have them for longer time.

We also had Lammas. 🙂 Ok, a week ago from now, but I did celebrate it – made fancy kringel for celebration and I held a small ceremony for myself and for the deities. We don’t have it in our traditions, but I’m growing to like it. Setus, south region Estonian national group, have tradition of a day near it called Makavei day, a day when according to tradition bread was taken to church to be blessed and apparently apples finally got their taste. I must say the fantastic smell that came from the orchard next door after that day did blew me away.

It is also the harvest time of the berries. Or, actually, the harvest should be done by now. We should be celebrating the harvest. This year we did the harvest few days after the holiday, but right in the New Moon time, so it should hold fine. I was kinda hoping the birds would have eaten most of it, but apparently they don’t harbor enough hunger or we have too many bushes. Still, it only took two days to swipe them over and it was done. Mom did the juice and jam on the next day. I usually do it, but this year I had no wish to take part of it. No worries, mom said, I’ll get the mood next year and then she won’t want anything to do with it. It was for the best, considering I managed to get sunstroke again. I can’t help it. That’s what my skin type is like.

Lauritsa Day is coming on 10th. It’s a fire holiday. I love it, because we always try to make pancakes and try to keep from making living fire. Not to mention the Baltic herring is the best! And I can swear on that one! It’s one of those days when it is seriously unadvised to make fire. It was also advised not to cut forest or make hay, cut heads of cappages or to go in orchard to bring fruit in. Basically anything that would be similar to the damage fire would make. It’s an important holiday for my family, though we don’t really celebrate it in usual way. To keep fire in line, it is actually advised to do some washing. Considering it is Saturday, that’s pretty much sure thing.  

Why I’m so exited for this day, is the Milky Way! I have missed it so much and would love to see it again and around this time, it will be visible again.

Remember I said I have a year-long project called “The knife”? I seriously should name it.
It ended on Monday. I told a friend that I’m searching for a knife, quite particular one. I had to, she saw me looking at those fancy Finnish blades and so I said, why I was suddenly staring at some blades with my tongue on my shirt. But I have been between getting a good smith made blade from their website or finding one around here. Either way, a pricy uptaking.
The next time we saw, she suddenly bloomed up and said she got me something and gave me contacts of a local smith – Mart Salumaa. I counted my money, got some pre-info from my friend and sent him an e-mail. Said I’m searching for someone to make me viking women’s knife. He said the price, I agreed and then he said he is near Tartu and on Monday he came and we made the deal.
It is gorgeous!!! Super sharp! As he demonstrated on the hair on the back of his hand (it’s a trick local smiths use here) and of course humored his fellow smiths he had with him in great deal. It is not very big, but not the smallest one either. He had different sizes with him, but I chose the middle one. I have short fingers. I prefer my knife smaller. It is shiny and utmost gorgeous. So I’m on conclusion that it was the right decision. To get a knife that has been through fire and water, air and dirt. Gotta love smith work! Totally worth the money :).
I shall photograph it and show it off soon as well. Right now I’m searching for a good leather to make sheth for it. It is so sharp it cut through the thick shield it was in in less than a minute. Plus if I want it to be carry-around-with-me-until-death-do-us-part, it must be properly protected. Which means right now I’m in search for a good piece of leather to make the sheath from. I have done sheaths before. It’s just matter of prework, working out the best model, testing the size, renewing few tools… Ok, so it isn’t walk in the park, but Rome wasn’t build in a day either. But I’m sure Brisa Knife Supplies has some items that will shorten that road considerably :).

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Filed under Drama, tools, Working through ideas, Writing, Year and a Day

Mine is better than yours

Being a witch, always learning and often practicing, I had an odd encounter.

One of my new friends is really into runes. Which I think is great, because since I’ve made my first rune set years ago and now owning one that is truly purely mine and precious to me, I’ve been getting more into them as well. All nice and good, but then he came to see me the other day and said that he was thinking about me and my cards and thought to ask something from my cards. I said, I shall bring them with me then, and then he blurted suddenly, without any warning “never mind, runes are much more accurate”, wished me good night and left.

Whoa! What?

I’ve always thought it was up to the reader, how accurate the divination is. How skillfully they do the reading and how well they know their tools. It’s never about which tool is more accurate – you can have the most accurate tool in your hands, but if you don’t know how to use it, you’ll still botch it up and get false reading.

I prefer cards. I always have, because they work for me the best. I also own several rune sets, both such that can be used by others and such that are absolutely personal. Also countless sets of tossable, countable, floatable, acting-on-heat, scryable…in short I have quite a collection. Very different tools, meant for different times and I have not thought that one of them is more accurate than another. Just the times and needs are different and thus the tool that might not work for me in the morning for yes-or-no answer does its job perfectly if I’m to choose between carrots or potatoes.

I have thought about it before though. When I first began collecting the tools, I realized quite soon that there were those that where meant for party entertainment and those, that were taken more seriously. That was it. No other difference between “which is more accurate”.

I think it is wrong to say that one tool is more accurate than other. Tool that can give you short answer is just as right method as is long response from I Ching. I Ching has so many versions going around, one can hardly be sure what is the absolute correct answer. Neither can you be sure with any other tool. It depends on time, the answer you require and place.

It is not exactly science. I can’t explain it, but that’s how it works – I can have reading for two separate persons with the same cards and still read totally different thing out for them. In one day the pendulum can work like magic while tarot tosses me half the deck on the table or runes don’t feel right.

Not one divination is equal to another and thus not one tool is more accurate than another. They are tools.

A very good example would be what an old lady did, when we arranged her to show me a method and she discovered she’d forgotten her stones. She pretty much looked around on the road, picked small shingles from the road, took my hand and said “this stone is this, this stone is this. What’s your question?” and she showed me the entire method there, with made-up tools and my palm as her table. Best lesson ever!

What did I learn? If you know the method, all you need is take items you see, assign them according to your needs and they will work just as well as your worked-in old set of runes or pendulum or what-not. It’s the knowledge that counts in this business. Cards get lost and stones get missing from your tool sets. You can replace them. I have done it multiple times – I don’t have my cards, I quickly cut 78 pieces of paper, sign them each with the symbol, toss them in pot and the questioner pulls the pieces. Works every time.

One other old time trick, like she said about it, for yes and no questions would be to take a plate (if you have one) and salt shaker. Sit behind the table and assign yes and no sides for the plate and then have anyone – she usually had her old man do it for her – take the shaker and pour two small piles of salt on each side of the plate. Wins the one bigger. Now that’s a cool trick. I can think of at least six different official versions selling special black sea sand and what not to do this.

So yes, if you are familiar more with runes and you get the best reading out of them – fantastic! There is nothing greater than being intimately familiar with one tool. But never, and I mean never, go saying that your tools of divination is better than other person’s. This isn’t kindergarden contest. It shows how very beginner you are in the business and that’s all. I am sure there are many oldies ready to give you demonstration of a life time that will rob you from confidence for good.  your method is only as good as your familiarity with it goes.

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Gotta make somethin’ new!

About two weeks ago I came to work, sat down and thought – I want to try something totally different from what I usually do. I had already made gift for few friends and decided that whoa! I now want to try something from all the pinterest pins I have been collecting.

It is interesting, by the way, that a lot of those interesting ideas that I’ve found going around there, I have found almost each and every one of them from the scout and pioneer books I collect. Yup, I collect them. All the ideas are there!

So, inspired by hope of trying something my great grandparents might have done in their youth, I chose papier-mâché! I chose not to make the typical version of glue-n-stick. It still seemed easy and the materials didn’t ask world tour to collect, so off I went!

The recipe asked for 1 part of paper powder (or mashed paper), 10th of it chalk and 10th of it of potato starch and 10th of that PVA glue. Now how hard is to mix together a dough and cover a balloon with it?

To start with, I got the chalk from the shop next door. I love the natural building material shop next door! Any of those chemicals you need for go-green projects? Right there! For someone, who has had to search borax from gardening shop and camphor from music shop, it’s like dream come true. My green witchy life just got much easier.

Second thing was to get some old glue-free newspapers and shred them up, which was nice thing to do after hell-bound night at work. I didn’t know how much I’ll need, so I figured I’ll do measuring later. I poured it all over with boiling water, covered it with pellicle (that’s the word for plastic foil?) and wrapped it in towels and set it down on the warm bathroom floor.

After next nightshift, that would be 18 hours later, I started the boiling process. My giddy arsh! I know newspaper is trash, but I had no idea it is SUCH trash! The paper didn’t boil soft! After half an hour per pot in full boil and it didn’t boil soft! All the instructions said it should look like smashed soup, yet mine was manna porridge with big junks. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the ink came fully off and stuck on anything you touched the paper with. The whole mess was worse than when I tried making the ink itself. Because it was hot ink, then you can guess how easy it was to clean.

Actually, after I discovered cold water, dishwasher mixed with hand washing soap and sponge with light grading effect, it all came away rather easily. The pot shined, too.

Ok, that part over, I squeezed the water out from the water. Because squeezing lava hot water had unwanted consequences, I mixed it again with cold water and then did the squeezing. This gave me junk-like mix. The pioneer book then told me to roll it all up in small pearls so it can be retried and rebound to powder, but after three hours of pure bliss of cleaning all that mess, I honestly didn’t want to hear about it. I did get the junks as small as I could make them.

Instead, I mixed it as the book suggested, with chalk, starch and glue. After five minutes of kneading I finally did get the dough-like mixture. Sort of.

When I tried to place it on the prepared balloon (taped to water filled glass to anchor it to place), it didn’t stick. COOOL!!!!! What was I suppose to do with bowl filled with that mass if it didn’t stick!

Easy! Oil in a glass bowl and cover that one instead! With all the frustration that already had gathered in my system – that turned out to be the most calming thing I did that day. Besides sleeping afterwards. Three hours of pure bliss kneading that mash on that bowl piece by piece. What I did like about that mix was the way I could take hours later piece of it and instead of adding extra glue, I could simply knead it through again and continue. Now that was cool! The sad part was, there were many cracks in the piece. But by that time I had put too much work into it to give up on it, so I took the PVA and simply painted the entire bowl from outside using my fingers as brushes. Didn’t want to lose any of my precious brushes. With PVA you can at least wash the glue off your hands with hot water later.

Then I left it to dry with harsh promises to cut off anyone’s hands who dare to touch it. Which, of course, humored my family to great deal.

After four days I finally dared to take it off the glass bowl. But hey, fool is the man, who believes the hardships are over before they really begin! It would not budge. So how do you get paper mash off the glass without breaking either of them?

Hot water, of course. My biggest fear was I would melt the entire thing, but I discovered that if it was done with care and in short sessions at time, it works quite well. The process is simple – pour the hot water in the glass bowl and nudge the paper carefully off. Took some time, but I got it off. Getting the glue left on the glass off was easy.

As the last effort, I covered the entire inside of the bowl with PVA and let it dry again for several days with promises of harsh penalties.

The result?

Paper mache bowl with quills eggs

Paper mache bowl with quills eggs

After all this effort, I can only say one thing. The entire process, even without rolling the balls into pearls and drying- powdering them, is painfully time consuming and the cleaning is not worth the object it creates. The other papier-mâché methods are easier and friendlier for modern kitchen. Or any kitchen in matter of fact.

Though I believe it does have merit if used paper powder, I don’t think the process needed to make the powder at home is worth the trouble. Perhaps if I had different equipment it would be different story (they say old blenders do miracle on the matter and if I get one, I’ll give it a new try). I do think it is good project for school children. But, as a grownup, if I’d need a light bowl for some reason, there are far easier basket weaving methods. Perhaps if I need something for witchy stuff… It is sturdy enough to hold dry things and quite heavy things.

Next thing – green house chemistry! The vinegar infused with orange zest has been on the shelf for two weeks and waits to be filtered and this means the half liter bottle is free and I can mix the first experiment of home made laundry detergent. I’m not making big patches at a time. I first want to see how it works. If it works, then it will definetly be part of my future household staples.

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Filed under Experiments, Handwork, tools

Making ink is dirty business

Watching The Magnificent Ambersons from 1942 and warming another patch of beeswax into solid bar, I noticed that the spoon was gathering rather thick coat of soot. New opportunity rose its head.

We all need ink every now and then, we have all used regular, store bought inks – nice, smooth, dry out after a year or two… Why not make some ink if I’ve already got the soot? I can’t remember the last time I made it.

So I burned some more soot and added equal amount of water (they do say to add distilled water, but hey, if you don’t have none, then you don’t have none) and started mixing it. Takes quite some time, but after a while it does begin to turn darker. Then dropped small drop of vinegar in it and kept mixing it. After that it was time for some play :). 

Hehee, definitely something to make again – the ink comes out rather dark and leaves the pictures nice and charcoal-like. Good if you need some made with certain intension or just to paint.

Oh, just a reminder – make sure you have old clothes on and newspaper covering your table. It does stain and does it adequately for ink. Ceramic, porcelain makes best mixers for they can be cleaned afterwards,  plastic unfortunately acts like magnet to soot.  Afterwards it’s liquid soap and cold water to get yourself and spaces clean :).

 

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Filed under Basic recipes, House Chemistry, tools

Bucket of rock salt

I saw a bucket of salt in my dream few days ago. Just a passing fancy, I thought, remembering in the morning how I picked up a wooden bucket filled with rock salt and carried it down in my friend’s Beetle and landed it in there with the rest of my stuff. It was fantasy mixed dream, that much I gathered from the beehive-like house we lived in and from the fact that everybody were apprentices to one pagan religion or another and we were all dressed sort of fairy-like. It was during the Blue Moon, now that I think of it.

Well, was what it was, but this bucket of rock salt hasn’t left my mind. It looked old, to start with, as if it had sat there since I first moved in and I remember knowing that it was compulsory for all the students to have one of such buckets or bowl. It was filled 2/3 and mine looked like a amethyst cluster with phosphate ring around it. We had drowned all our potions in there that we had made, but had lost their purpose and thus had to be sort of neutralized. Salt neutralizes and cleans the energies – so we used it exactly for this purpose and it seemed to work. Mine had begun growing extra salt crystals and they glistered in the sun while we went.

This got me thinking. I know we don’t do many potions anymore, they do take time to prepare, but this bucket idea has some merit. Especially if you’re someone like me, who travels a lot, but in reality doesn’t get much off track to get rid of all the spells that have either lost their effect or need to be neutralized. I know it doesn’t help those, who need to hide their path, but I think it’s something to consider, don’t you?

All you need is a bucket (all the dishes I saw used for this purpose were made of natural materials – crystal, wood, stone) and some rock salt. You lay down the first layer under it all, so the spell doesn’t go through the bottom and then you add bit by bit as you gather them in it, sprinkling them over with salt. When it got to the 2/3 level, I simply kept burying things in it without adding more salt. Once a year one can rid themselves of it… somehow? I haven’t quite understood that part, because in my dream I simply took it with me. At some point I even thought that it was because I didn’t either want to let those spells out of my site or because they were the ones that others would usually set inside earth. Because, us living in schoolhouse, we couldn’t just go around and burry things in earth, but it being magic school, there were many, who needed to bury their “homework”.

I can’t remember much else besides some silly laughter and sun, but this bucket of salt stuck and I think it is worth a try in the future.

 

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