Monday, October 31, 2011

Blessed Samhain!

Some time ago I received an intriguing invitation: making a death mask for Samhain with a small group! I didn't have to think long and decided I'd definitely want to be there. So last Saturday it was time! Unfortunately one of the women wasn't feeling well, so we ended up being with 6 'wyld & wicked women'! ;-) Some had met each other before. I only knew the hostess beforehand, so I had the privilege to get to know 4 wonderful women.

First we had dinner at a beautiful Samhain-decorated table. Everyone had an extra plate for someone behind the veils. We shared stories about those people and animals while eating in their honour. This year I dedicated my plate to my dad. For dinner we had a very yummy salad, delicious pasta with pesto and salmon, an exquisite quiche and very tasty pizza! The dessert was even better: heavenly cheesecake and divine pecan pie with vanilla ice-cream.

In the temple called "Ons Ding" ("Our Thing") we prepared the plaster bandages for the masks. In the background you see the veils to the other world and on the right the beautiful altar.
We made the masks in pairs. To protect our skin and to make the mask easier to release we covered our face with a lot of cream. I had a nasty cold, so I was a bit nervous whether I could persevere the plaster. I decided to put some straws in my mouth, so I had both nose and mouth to breathe. Still, it wasn't easy! I started thinking a lot of "what-ifs". That wasn't going to help me persist so I went into a meditative state and that was the right decision. I did it!
Then it was my turn to make a mask. I soon felt I was very tired and the cold didn't make it any easier. I wanted to finish the mask, so I kept on putting plaster bandages. I struggled. I realized it wasn't working and felt so bad... Finally I asked someone else to take over. That was so hard, I felt I had failed miserably. In the kitchen I cried, but everyone was so kind and comforting! My mask partner got a beautiful mask nevertheless and she wasn't disappointed (as I had feared). On the contrary, she accepted her own lesson in this with grace; we talked it over and hugged.

Afterwards we all talked about what making the masks had done with us. Generally speaking death-masks are made after a person dies. Look here for examples. To do it on a living person can feel strange, especially when the eyes and mouth are covered. You literally shut them up...
Meanwhile, it was very late so we set up the beds and dived in! Unfortunately one of the women had to go home. I slept next to the veils in Ons Ding. In the morning we had a long breakfast / brunch, closed the circle and then we said our goodbyes. Thank you for everything, lovely ladies!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Witch's tools

I've got a lot of 'witchy stuff': statues, incense-burners, candle-holders, stones, feathers, altar cloths, etc. etc. Some bought (new or second-hand), some given to me, some self-made. Over the years it made a nice collection. I made my own runes and my pentacle. Some things I have more of. For example I have my 'official' athame, but I also have a wooden one that Ron carved for me in Lier. Both very precious to me!

As a boline I mostly used a pretty little knife from Scandinavia. I have been looking for an 'official' one for years. For me it had to be a sickle with a white handle. The ones in pagan shops didn't appeal to me though; they are all the same. I trusted that eventually it would come to me. And it did!

This year on Castlefest I came across a blacksmith called Roodbaert (red-beard, and indeed he had one!). Ron and I talked with him and I told him how I saw the boline I wanted. He understood exactly what I wanted and its purpose. He told us he had recently got his hands on over 400 years old iron nails. He offered to try to make my knife from those, and at a very reasonable price.

A few weeks ago the knife arrived. We had asked him to make it with a simple handle, because I wanted to wrap it with white leather myself. It took some time but I'm very very satisfied with the result!
(click on the pics to see them bigger)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Lowlands Asatru Thing

In the second weekend of October Ron and I went to the first Lowlands Asatru Thing. A 'thing' in its historical meaning is a court assembly, but was later used for an assembly of the people. Asatru is explained here. Lowlands is self-explanatory I guess. The purpose of the meeting was to bring together asatruar (practitioner of asatru) and people interested in asatru for various purposes. We gathered in "De Grote Bunte" in Nunspeet, a beautiful place surrounded by nature.

We arrived in the early evening of Friday, after an aggravating drive because the car stopped running on LPG. We decided to leave that there and then and have a great weekend, which we did! :-)
Later in the evening the LAT was officially opened. Around the tables we all gave a little introduction of ourselves. I'm not astruar, my path is witchcraft / wicca, but I like to work with the Norse pantheon and was curious to learn more about it. There were several people I already knew and I got to know new people.

On Saturday there were some very interesting workshops: how to look at historic sources, spirits of the land, introduction to the 'high seat of the seer' and deity of Dutch soil. All very interesting and thought-provoking! In the entrance-hall and the workshop-room were a lot of books on display. Great to roam about!

In the evening there was a blot (asatru ritual). The weather wasn't that great, a lot of rain all weekend. The blot was outside, it was dry at first. Of course it started to rain, long live the lowlands! :-) We decided to stay outside nevertheless and had a wonderful ritual in the pouring rain. Quite different from what I am used to, great to witness and be part of!

Sunday I was up and about very early and decided to take a walk in the woods behind the buildings. It was very beautiful and I made a lot of pictures. Of one place I made 3 pics within 5 seconds and was surprised to see them. I leave it up to you what to make of it...

After breakfast we attended two workshops: making a bind-rune and burn it into a wooden slice and singing power-chants. Afterwards we did a closing ritual and all went our different ways. Until next year! :-)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Adiana again

Last week I had an appointment for the final test of the Adiana procedure, the hysterosalpingogram. HSG is a fertility testing technique that involves the injection of a special dye into the uterus through the cervical opening. The progression of the dye is then monitored via x-ray. It shows whether the tubes are completely closed or not.

It was done by another gynaecologist. She was very friendly and did her best, but man oh man... it was SO painful! I know I have a low pain barrier, but still... Everything she did hurt, and hurt badly! Ron later said she was very young and seemed a bit insecure and clumsy when she didn't get it right in one try. I can handle pain impulses, but it just didn't stop hurting. I couldn't relax locally as I did with the Adiana procedure itself.  I could watch the screens and follow the dye. I cannot describe how I felt when I clearly saw one tube wasn't closed completely.... Oh NO! What a disappointment...

Afterwards I felt shaky and when the gynaecologist and nurse left I burst into tears. I was in pain and lost quite a lot of blood. The doctor had said that was normal, so I wasn't alarmed and in the days after it slowly got less and eventually disappeared.

Today I spoke with my own gynaecologist. He told me only a very small percentage of tubes wasn't closed completely after 6 months. Of course I belong to that minority, just my luck... :-( We agreed to do another internal ultrasound scan next week, just to be sure the inserts are still in place. Then in 3 months we have to repeat the HSG. Unfortunately there is no other way to indisputably prove the closing of the tubes. He promised me he'll do it himself and in a slightly different way. Not completely painless, but hopefully a bit more bearable. With something to relax and pain medication beforehand I think I'll manage, but I'm not looking forward to it!

UPDATE Oct. 17: Just got back from the ultrasound. The inserts are still in place. One is slightly further into my tube, what might be why it isn't completely closed yet. The new HSG will be done in January.