Tree Frog Tattoo by Sylvie le Sylvie

pacific tree frog tattoo by sylvie le sylvie

My first tattoo. Inked and finalized by Sylvie le Sylvie.

Pacific tree frogs (Pseudacris regilla) are the most commonly heard frogs in British Columbia. They can change their colour in a matter of minutes. As amphibians, they live their lives in two worlds: the submarine life of a tadpole and the semi-terrestrial life of a grown frog. They embrace the elements of Earth and Water, making their homes in each.

The hind legs of my frog are represented by a feather and a leaf of the broadleaf plantain (Plantago major). The feather is a representation of elemental Air. Broadleaf plantain leaves are used to soothe stings and small cuts. They are like natural bandaids!

The square together with the intangible circle represents the altar, a sacred space, with its magickal circle of power.

Surrounding the altar are four offerings. In the upper left is the flower of the bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva), an edible, if bitter, taproot. Following clockwise is a representation of solar Fire: the sunflower (Helianthus maximiliani). An ammonite fossil (Ammonoidea) resides in the lower right corner. As the remains of an extinct mollusc, ammonites represents the element of Water and mortality.  Elemental Stone (or Earth if one prefers) is represented as a quartz cluster (SiO2).

These were not the original symbols and meanings, though the central image of a frog and its connection to the four elements has remained consistent throughout the three year revision process.

From the beginning I was keen to design the tattoo myself and have that design translated by a tattoo artist to better fit the medium of skin and ink. I wanted to have the tattoo inked in my home town of Nelson, BC. After careful consideration, I found the work of Sylvie le Sylvie, of the Timber Tattoo Co. Animals and plants are plentiful in her work, which has a rich, black and white, aesthetic. After a consultation, she made several changes to the design, arriving at the finished product a week later. The tattoo was inked on a drizzly morning on the day after the vernal equinox.

This is my first tattoo. It may not be my last, but for now I could not ask for a more magickal connection to nature, the elements, and the mineral, floral, & animal kingdoms.

Magickal Ostara Update

Spring has come reluctantly to my part of the world. The clouds have hugged the ground and wept their daily tears. With the coming of the equinox, the seasons have indeed turned on their wheel. The sun is once more shining brightly above, driving the winter drifts back beneath the soil. The crocuses will soon begin their flowering.

With this changing of the seasons, I felt a shift. Spring is a time for decisions, dedications, and new adventures. For three years I have been working on the design for a magickal tattoo. My creation speaks to the elements and cycles of the natural world.As a portion of my sabbat ritual, I made a consecration and dedication. It has been some time since I performed a proper magickal working. Ritual and prayer are a much larger part of my spiritual practice, but this called for something more direct. Tomorrow, the day following Ostara, is the day I take this design into my being.

Wishing you all the happiest of equinoxes,

Callum.

Poking Fun

I came across this slightly foolish idea in Scott Cunningham’s book Earth Power. It’s an awesome book which I highly recommend. However, in his section on fire magic, Cunningham quite seriously implies that burning a sample of tobacco as a symbol for the problem of smoking is a good idea. I got a good laugh out of it. Sometimes,

For the symbols think a moment – if you overeat, take a portion of your favourite food and throw it onto the fire. Smoking, drinking the same.

It could be worse, he might have suggested drinking the alcohol!

match_fire_smoke_close-up_82991_1920x1080

“No I’m not smoking. I’m just burning this cigarette as a magical symbol of my desire to quit!”

Welcome In Our Circle Stay

Song and prayer have always been interwoven for me. I was raised Jewish, and I still love to sing the beautiful hebrew prayers which I learned as a child. When my path turned towards paganism, I lost that for a while, but I was lucky enough to find a pagan choir after moving to Vancouver. Now, none of my personal rituals are without a song or two. I’ve even started writing my own. This is an original song which I wrote as an invocation of the four elements.

Blessed Be.

Continue reading

Tasting Pseudo Mead (White Wine Mulsum/Conditum)

IMG_0045

Mulsum prior to dilution.

In anticipation of Ostara I brewed myself a bottle of mulsum/conditum as a quick alternative to a fully brewed mead. The recipe told me to let the mixture sit for a week or two, but since I wanted to use the mead for my Ostara ritual, I only let it be for five days. When I tasted the drink for the first time before the ritual, the sweetness of it was at first overpowering. I had created a drinking syrup! With a little distilled water, however, the drink took on the sweetness of Manischewitz. It took me a few sips to get used to the heavy sweetness, but I can honestly say that I enjoyed it. Yes, watering down the wine lowered the alcohol content, but my stomach is easily upset by alcohol so I didn’t mind. Next time, I will start by adding much less honey to the wine since I can always add more to taste.

Making Pseudo Mead (White Wine Mulsum/Conditum)

In anticipation of Ostara (aka the Spring Equinox), I wanted to brew myself a batch of mead. While is something I have always wanted to do, it takes quite a long time, six months or more, to do properly. Luckily, there is a bit of a cheat which I found on the ever helpful website Storm The Castle: “Instant Mead Recipe”.

“The ancient romans called mixing honey with wine ‘Mulsum’ and if you mix it with spices then let it age you get something the ancient romans called ‘Conditum’ which is something similar to what we make here.” Will Kalif’s video tutorial.

A quick search on Wikipedia gave me a little more information on conditum. “The Latin name translates roughly as ‘spiced’. Recipes for conditum viatorium (traveler’s spiced wine) and conditum paradoxum (surprise spiced wine) are found in De re coquinaria. This conditum paradoxum includes wine, honey, pepper,mastic, laurel, saffron, date seeds and dates soaked in wine.”

The recipe itself is really simple, calling for one bottle of cheap white wine (I spent $12.75), one pound of honey, one clove, and a pinch each of cinnamon and nutmeg. Since I was going to be mixing it with sweet natural clover and alfalfa honey, I bought a bottle of moscato which advertised it’s subtle sweetness with “hints of green grapes, pineapple and passionfruit.” Sounds good enough to me!

After the ingredients were mixed together, I let the brew simmer for an hour or so. A preliminary taste-test tells me that that was too long. It really is a little too sweet. Then I strained and re-bottled the ‘mead’. The recipe calls for a waiting period of two weeks. I only have one until Ostara when I look forward to drinking my concoction. The shortened wait time will give me an excellent opportunity to compare the taste on the equinox and again a week later. That is if their is any left!

Collaborating With Artistic Mediums

Since I started carving wands a few weeks ago, I have noticed a significant difference in the creative process than that of making a painting. Allow me to elaborate. I have often heard artists say that their piece ‘wanted’ to become something other than what they had visualized themselves creating. It is an odd thing that I often hear at parties and art functions, but not something I had given much thought to. Now, as a painter myself, I had summed this up to mean a happy mistake where a piece of art fails to become the image held in the mind of the painter, but rather becomes something different entirely. As I have no great skill at painting details or photo-realistic works (the way images are first formed in my head), the results of my work are often wildly different from my initial plans. This is not a bad thing, instead it has taught me the value of releasing my expectations and allowing my art to form as it should.

Now how is creating a wand different? I do not have much of a notion in my head when I first start making a wand as to its final look. I start by removing the bark and from there I see how the potential wand fits inside the branch. In this way I can decide whether to rasp away the knots or to let the wand keep its wild appearance. How long the wand will be or what shape it will take are not really choices that I make consciously. It is in this manner that the wand itself plays a part in the creative process. The process is as much reading how the wood wants to be shaped as it is design. The creative inspiration and the physical acts of shaping the wood are, at least for me, one and the same motion.

It is strange that this should happen with one medium and not the other. Perhaps I am simple more suited to one, or perhaps each process holds its own rewards. In either case, I can now nod my head sagely at the types of parties where artists are to be found in abundance and say, “Yes. I understand completely.”

My work space for creating magick wands.

Wands – Migrated 06/19/2014

When I was a young kid, I loved making wands. Some were little more than sticks with a handle of wrapped wool, others held gemstones reservoirs and special carvings. I made them because I felt that I had to. Here were these beautiful fallen branches with wands hiding inside and no one else was going to bring them out. I feel that every sculpture or amateur whittler knows this feeling. Indeed, the same is true of any artist with their own medium.
Picture
Like many other things I enjoyed in my childhood, crafting wands was something I dropped. I suppose I thought it childish. Maybe it was, but much of my art is indeed childlike. The difference is a significant one though. The adult me wants to reject anything that doesn’t seem “grown up.” Doing childish thing is to act like one is a child. Being childlike is to act without constraint, to ignore the rational thoughts of the adult mind and simply have fun. With that thought in mind, I have once again taken up wand making. Being a ‘grown up’ simply means that I can create better and more intricate designs.
Over the winter, I collected a large amount of sticks which now sit in the corner of my room. A quick trip to Lee Valley and I had all the tools I needed. The image above is my first wand in years being carved. I intend to make many more. These pieces are very personal to me and I put a lot of time and care into making them. All my wands are unique, each one wants to be shaped differently than does it’s brothers and sisters. Creating a wand is more than simple wood carving, It is breathing life into a beautiful and precious tool.