Freshman Mathematics

Year twenty three;
the third of the First of Four.
The first of the third,
of which the third is three,
was half of half
the same as second.

The fourth,
or should I say
the second Second,
—it’s Two of Four—
now once removed,
though from the First,
year twenty one,
it’s three.

Years Three and Four,
no; five and six,
are variables unknown;
now: c & d.


Due to several stumbling blocks, both within and outside of my control, this has been my third year of first-year university studies. The Elementary Education program which I’m undergoing is supposed to take four years, but I’ll complete it in a mere six! This year I’ve been attending Selkirk College, where I have been able to take Almeda Glenn Miller’s excellent creative writing course. Today I was given an excellence award in the study of creative writing. “Freshman Mathematics” is one of my favourites to come out of the program, and it seems the perfect piece to share in celebration of this milestone.

The essay “In Which A Woman Agonizes Over Death” also came out of this program.

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Tree Frog Tattoo by Sylvie le Sylvie

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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.

Turning Paperbacks into Beautiful Hardback Tomes 

Recently, I decided to revisit my long standing project of re-covering the books in my library. I’ve been using a new more versatile technique which allows the artist to create many different styles of books. The covers are made from card stock much as the ones made in this blog post. The covers are then decorated with raised designs and covered in a fine paper mâché. The mâché technique ends up looking a lot more impressive in person than I had at first imagined.

For more information on the building of these books, you can watch the video I made documenting the process. I used several other articles for the inspiration and technique behind the creation of these books: For the Love of Books: A Guide to Knocking Together Your Own Journals’08 Halloween #12: Making Creepy Books, Altered Halloween Books Tutorial, new and improved!, and Crafty Mommy & Me.

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!

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

My Return to Angling: First Rainbow Trout

It has been a long time since I last went fishing. I used to when I was a kid and my father would take my brother an I out in an old, top heavy motorboat. I remember receiving a green tackle box for my birthday one year, and the obsession that it sparked in me.

Last week, I was hiking by a local lake and saw two anglers at the shore. On an impulse I returned to town and purchased a rod and tackle.

Today, I had an opportunity to stop by a promising site on my way home from out of town. It was an overcast, yet warm day which threatened rain and I had the small beach to myself. Only three casts in and dinner arrived at the end of my line in the form of a 12″ rainbow trout.

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The Great Outdoors

With the returning of spring, I have felt a renewed need to spend time in forests which surround my home in Kootenays. Hiking has become a necessity for me since I moved back to Nelson one year ago. Hiking and other outdoor activities help to balance me, despite the pressure and stress I feel from college and family life. In communing with nature and the forest, I find myself renewed. There is nothing else like it.

Today, while fishing for trout in a local lake, I over turned a stone in search of worms. Look who was underneath.

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