Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Book Review: Curses and Bindings

Today I am reviewing another book from Witchipedia's Read A Long Book ClubCurses & Bindings: How To Do Them, How To Defend Against Them, How To Heal From Them, by Tannita. I would like to say that this isn't normally the type of book that I'd read, but that's not entirely true. Reading about the darker aspects of magick is something of a guilty pleasure of mine so I was pleased when the author requested I add this book to the Book Club roster. However, this book took me much farther outside my comfort zone than I was at all interested in going, in more ways than one.

My very first impression was one of absolute awe that a book so poorly formatted and with such abysmal grammar ever made it to publishing. I suppose it was self-published. But even so, you'd think the author would have had at least one friend read it over before presenting it to the world. It's not just a few typos- I'm talking about major issues. Lots of , , , <-- Yes that. That doesn't belong in any publish work. It's annoying enough in a forum but seeing , , , in nearly every line of a book you paid money for is more than distracting. It makes my eyes bleed. The author also does not seem to have a firm grasp on the difference between they're, their and there, weak and week and loose and lose. (I once broke up with a guy because he wrote me a letter in which he declared that he didn't want to "loose" me. Seriously, that's why. I couldn't get past the "loose".) I know not everyone is as grammar extreme as myself, but for crying out loud; this is a published book that I paid for! There is also quite a lot of weird sentence structure that leads me to believe that English is not the author's first language, but that doesn't excuse the rest of the mess.

That all being said, there is some good information in the book if you can find it within the author's rambling writing style. She does stick to the topics within the headers, but there really are no sub-topics and she seems to bounce around between some here and there. This can be confusing.

It is also important to note that the author makes quite a strong assumption that the reader already has basic magical skills. The spells are not step-by-step, but very general and the reader is obliged to fill in the gaps with previous magical knowledge. I think this is a good approach to a book on such a heavy subject. I frankly find all the repeated basic review so common in books that are supposed to be 102 and above to be annoying and boring.

What else is there to say? The subject matter was uncomfortable. I found myself growing red in the face at the suggestion that I might want to magickally encourage someone to step in front of a moving vehicle or similar. But I do believe it's subject matter that the advanced practitioner should take a look at eventually, if only for informational purposes.

I did not hate this book completely, it had good information, it was interesting, but it was not a pleasure to read.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Adventures in Laundry

As the month of August closes, I am reviewing my laundry adventures, which were substantial, before we move on to the next habit in the Flylady's plan: The Bedtime Routine. The Universe must've taken note of my intention to perfect my laundry routine because she cooperated beautifully by rendering me without fully functioning laundry facilities for several days.

I had just put up my shiny new clothesline (referred to around here as the "redneck clothesline"). I had a clothesline setup in mind that wasn't practical at the moment for several reasons. The first being that we couldn't afford it, but also because in order for maximum sun exposure a certain tree would have had to move and the deck, upon which the plan depended, is in serious need of repairs (that is, a complete rebuild) which would have meant that the clothesline would have to be dismantled sometime in the future. So I gave myself a stern talking to, convinced myself that any clothesline is better than no clothesline, and ran a line between two trees. It works beautifully, of course, and gets just the right amount of sun, but I will wax poetic about my clothesline in a minute.

Shortly after we installed this clothesline, I put in a load of laundry and went to bed, looking forward to hanging the clothes on the line in the early morning sun. My husband arrived home around 3am. When he gets home this late, he generally sleeps on the couch in the mancave, so as not to disturb my beauty sleep. When he visited the bathroom off the mancave, he discovered the whole bathroom flooded. He quickly realized the washing machine was running in the laundry room (which shares a wall with the bathroom) and spewing water everywhere. My darling husband did not wake me up to assist him with squeegeeing, mopping and setting up fans and dehumidifiers, even though the mess was entirely my fault (never leave your washing machine or dryer unattended) and he, not I, had to be at work at 8am the following morning. Best. Husband. Ever. Of course he didn't have time to actually figure out what was wrong with the washing machine and fix it. That would have to wait for the weekend. In the meantime, I had an adventure and learned some stuff.

Things I Learned from My Broken Washing Machine

So I woke up to a rather damp, but not flooded laundry room and squishy carpet in the downstairs hall and a washing machine I could not use. At least not the way I was used to using it. I could fill it, if I watched it carefully and it would spin out if I manually turned the knob to spin. It would not agitate. So, I did small loads, filled up the washer, agitated it with two rubber scrub brushes (From Flylady's line of Rubba cleaning products), set it to spin when I was ready to drain it and then refilled it to rinse and repeat. Then I gathered up my clothes and took them out to the clothesline. The result was an unexpected growing intimacy with my laundry.

  • By observing the water go in and out of my machine, I became more aware of the amount of water I am using with each wash. I began collecting the final rinse water and adding that to the first wash water of the next load, as well as dumping the water from the dehumidifier in there. 

  • By observing the draining of my rinse water, I came to realize that I am using too much soap, or perhaps not rinsing enough. Following the washing machine's usual process and watching the final drain (and often collecting it) I came to realize that this "final rinse" water was full of soap! So I'm using less soap now. In fact, I am using soap nuts in most cases. 

Things I Learned from Line Drying My Clothes

I thought that line-drying my clothes was going to be a pain in the butt, but it's really not. I take my first load out when I take the ducks out in the morning and the cat comes out too and it's all very festive. The air smells wonderful, the sun is coming up and the birds are singing and it's still quite cool. I shake the dew off the line and pin up my clothes, it is a moment of silence. I am thinking of nothing, except pinning up my clothes. It's really a wonderful way to start the day. But more than just a morning meditation, line drying my clothes has taught me to be more mindful of my clothes themselves.

  • Hanging up my teenage son's clothes in particular, I have noticed several items that need repair that I had never noticed before. When you just take them from the washer to the dryer, you don't notice these things until someone points them out to you. My son just doesn't. But when you're shaking out a pair of pants and turning out the pockets so they will dry properly and hanging them up by their ankles, you notice if there's a tear in the hem or a hole in the pocket. 
  • Also, and this mostly with regard to my toddler's clothing, I am more aware of stains. When you are just going from washer to dryer, you don't tend to notice the stains until they've been through the dryer and then they're set. When you're hanging them on the line, you can notice if the spaghetti sauce didn't come out of a shirt and you can take it back in and give it some attention. 
  • Line dried clothes smell freaking amazing. And the smell sticks. There's no comparison.
  • If there's any soap left in your clothes, line dried clothes can be really stiff. So an extra rinse or use of Using soap nuts instead of laundry soap helps.

What Does This Have to do With Witchcraft?

Okay someone recently told me that if I am going to claim that this is a Kitchen Witchery blog, then I need to focus more of my articles on "Witchy" topics. I need to say why this relates to Witchcraft. I feel like it should be self-explanatory, but maybe it's not. As a Witch, I try to live as close to Nature as possible. Not just because of the usual fairy dumpling "I love nature" business, but also because I believe that when you are in tune with nature, your magick is in tune with nature and is automatically more effective. Magick operates by natural laws, and we can talk about natural laws all the time, but until you live with the rhythms of nature, you only kind of get it. 

Doing your laundry mindfully, as using manual methods of washing and drying forces us to do, puts us in tune with nature in a way that simply tossing your clothes into the washer and then into the dryer simply does not allow and it helps us to walk softly on the Earth, which should be the goal of every Witch.

  • Line-drying uses less electricity, which saves money, a goal any homemaker can appreciate, and is gentler on the Earth, which is the goal of most Earth-based Witches.
  • Manual washing makes us aware of how much water we are using, again, this can save money (if you pay for city water) and it's gentler on the Earth.
  • In both cases, your clothes last longer and you use less soap and other products (like fabric softener sheets) which saves money and is gentler on the Earth.
  • Line drying makes us pay closer attention to what's going on outside; not just while we're out there hanging clothing, but also while we're planning our laundry adventures. Does it look like rain? Is this going to pass quickly? As time goes by and this observation and thinking becomes habit, you start to recognize the signs of a quick short rain, a bit of overcast that'll move on soon or the illusion of a sunny day that'll downpour soon. Maybe you don't have time to dry jeans and hoodies, but maybe a load of sheets or dress shirts will make it before the wet weather hits. Predicting the weather is a cool witchy skill.
  • You also need to be aware of Sunset, at least around here, because the second the sun goes down, the dew descends and all your clothes are wet again.