Ovomancy

They say you have to break a few eggs to make metaphorical breakfast foods, but I can’t seem to break any.

Well, this is just downright silly. I have a collection of my hens’ first eggs and I am loathe to crack any of them open. (My little chickadees hatched out of their own shells on Easter this past spring and have just become mature enough to lay. After the trauma of finding a slew of dead birds this summer, I have become very protective of my girlies. And, it seems, their eggs.) As is the case with first eggs, these are not very big. Just larger than the cherry tomatoes that bedeck my yard with color, their little green and blue egglettes are not nearly enough for foodstuffs.

Sookie, Diablo, Rex, Tina, Harriet, and Pico

Since I am teaching a course on divination this Fall,[1] I had decided to use the eggs for ovomancy. And now I can’t seem to do it.

Silly, right? I know I’ll get over it, but I’m having all of these thoughts – now that my (second-)favorite hen has begun crowing, I know I have a rooster out there. What if I crack open a grandchicken?

I know it’s very silly, but I think my (absolute-)favorite hen may be the only one laying. I saw her out there in the eggbox and collected her teensy deposit. She’s my baby. She and a sister were unwell as chicks and had to be handfed and nursed until one died and this one rallied. My greatest success in chickening thus far, this hen likes to meet me at the door and jump on my shoulder to be held. How am I supposed to crack her eggs?

Silly. Yes. We covered that. What if I use all of the eggs for divination and then my chickens don’t lay any more?

Even sillier. That’s like a Senator suggesting that women could control how and when they . . . never mind – that’s a different post altogether.

Totally nonsensical.

Well – – I had intended to write you a post about learning ovomancy. But, seeing as I am being very silly about my eggs, this may take a day or two. As of now, I haven’t learned anything.

What I have learned is two ways of potentially reading these eggs. One involves dropping the whites into boiling water and observing the patterns made by the solidifying albumen. The other involves watching the clouds formed in a glass after poking a pin hole into the small end of the egg and allowing the albumen to drip into water.

I have also learned a little bit of history. One story that is repeated over and again about oomancy (another word for ovomancy) is of Liva Drucilla, a Roman Empress who incubated an egg in her bosom while pregnant in order to divine the sex of her child. The story goes that when the chick hatched, it had “a beautiful cockscomb;” therefore she knew she would have a son. This story is even sillier than my anxieties about cracking my little-teeny-eggs. Firstly, all chicken eggs take twenty-one days to incubate. Always. Every time.

On the first day, you can sex a chick by looking at its wing pattern. I’m very good at this now. I consistently get the results exactly the opposite. For this reason, I have had hens named Diablo and Roosters named Harriet. You can also “vent-sex” a chicken. I’ve seen it done and would prefer to name all of my hens after the Steelers starting lineup, thanks all the same.

After about three weeks, you can begin to see differences in combs, but depending on the breed, this means little. After about four months, you can see spurs. However, my current roo, a cuckoomaran, has no spurs to speak of and has always “set” like a hen. If it weren’t for the crowing at 5AM, I’d swear he was a she. S’what I get for naming yt Lola, I suppose. My dad says that unless you are a “real pro” at it, you can confuse hens and roos up until the day they either lay or crow. (Even Dad thought Lola was a “purty hen,” btw. He’s thrilled that she’s not. It means Lola is taking a trip to North Alabama to live at The Big Bad Farm.)

My chickens aside, all of this takes three-ish months. Combs don’t begin to appear (in most breeds) with real definition until about seven to ten weeks in or so. What? Did Liva Drucilla walk around with an egg in her dress for three weeks, then keep a chick there for an additional ten? No. It’s a charming story. But no.

See? I over-rationalize everything. How am I supposed to lay my anxieties aside and gaze at the albumen of Steven’s eggs with any sense of seeing?[2]

Plus, like tasseomancy and (gulp) hepatomancy, ovomancy seems like it is going to be a very subjective method. And I’ve had a few things come up this past week that I’m afraid I’ll read into the thing.

There’s a certain someone who screwed me over in a big way a few years back. I don’t mean Real Housewives of East Central Alabama drama, I mean could-have-(wrongfully)-put-my-husband-in-prison-and-succeeded-in-separating-me-from-a-whole-section-of-my-family drama. It seems her Wyrd is coming in. The twine that she wound on her spindle made a shitty-shitty skein of cloth and it’s falling apart like crazy. I’ve waited for this day. And guess what? I’m not even enjoying the show. Honestly, I feel sad for her.

But, Karma’s got nothin’ on Wyrd – she’s a total beeyatch.

And one of her partners in crime? I saw her this weekend in a very unlikely scenario. On an impulse, I reached out and touched her (in a crowd). She looked at me like I’d gone green and sprouted wings. But – and this is a little more typical of The Bad Witch’s experience with divination,[3] just seeing things – I saw things that I really wish I could unsee.

And then there’s this other thing . . . and while I said I preferred to see it coming – I kinda don’t. Like a train-wreck.

So, I’m a little nervous about looking for anything at all.

When I’m looking for something specific, I’m much better with something I feel like I can control,[4] like I Ching, Tarot, Runecasting, and (thanks to Polyphanes for the introduction) Geomancy[5] – though I have had a Tarot reading or two throw me for a loop.

When I just let the information come? It comes. And right now, I donno if I wanna know. You know?

Breathe in, breathe out, Bad Witch.

And break an egg.

As ever, I’ll let you know how it goes.

B, Q, 93,

TBW

This post is part of a year-long project. Rowan Pendragon’s The Pagan Blog Project; “a way to spend a full year dedicating time each week very specifically to studying, reflecting, and sharing . . . .    The project consists of a single blog post each week posted on prompt that will focus on a letter of the alphabet” (http://paganblogproject/).

[1] Don’t mistake me. I am a teacher not a diviner. I have some basic skills and teach from a theoretical, ministerial perspective. I am sensitive, sure, but have little experience reading for other people and have only basic skills in “controlling” what I see and when I see it. And usually I am more reminiscent of Raven Simone than Edgar Cayce. Although, every once in a while I say something that makes folks a little goosefleshy. Completely on accident. Turns out I don’t filter information before regurgitating it – prolly as a result of not practicing enough.

But the theory behind it? That I can teach.

[2] Don’t worry, y’all. I’m overdramatizing to prove a point. I’ll be fine.

[3] Usually, like my mother, I will just start talking and say things that I didn’t know I knew until they come out’my mouth. When it happens to Momma, the hyper-Christian-terrified-of-being-demonic, she says, “Hmph, I guess my schizophrenia is acting up again.” As if it were preferable to be mentally ill than sensitive.

[4] Feel being the operative word.

[5] I think I now understand WTF I’m doing. Or not.

Chickens + Corn = Yoga: A Recipe for Joy (and Netflix)

It should be my day off. But having had far too many teenagers in my house this week and having had wind-related power and internet outages all day yesterday and having indulged in my two-hour-procrastination-spree, I still have work to finish today. Loads of it.

When I went to bed last night I committed to rising up early, feeding the animules, and getting right down to business. But when I woke up to the sound of my cat ripping my bedroom curtains, I decided on indolence. “Eff-it. I’m keeping my fancy arse in bed this morning. So there.

If it’s good enough for Norma Jean . . .

I grabbed my Droid, answered some emails and overnight TMs, looked at my t’do list, and opened the WordPress app. Glancing at my reading list, I saw a post at Lucid Dreams and Saturn Skies by fellow-blogger, Andrew, on Supernatural, a TV show on Netflix which I have gotten sucked into while I grade (and sew and cook and fold socks). And a little ditty: “Ridiculous Moments” by my fellow blogger, Cin, at Witchy Rambles.

In this post, Cin revels in the simple pleasures that surround us each day and encouraged her readers to do the same – and to share. Rather than hijack her comments area, I thought I’d let y’all know what I ended up doing – here.

After spending a little extra time in bed, I grabbed an ear of corn from the basket my neighbor brought me yesterday afternoon. I shucked it as I walked out into my, now sweltering, backyard. Typically, the morning is light and clear in my yard; when the irrigation system kicks in it seems to cool everything off for about an hour. This gives me time to feed all of my yard critters, make sure all of the plants are happy, and meditate/yoga for about a half-hour before heading in to feed the indoor critters (some of these being my own offspring) and do some grading. Having missed that lovely window between 6:00-7:00 AM, the yard was downright hot by 8:30 AM (yes, this is TBW’s version of sleeping in). “Eff it,” I said again, “No way I’m meditating out here today. This RA thing is getting real-old real-fast.”

The Bad Husband had already opened the coop for my little ladies at around 5:00, so they were happily clucking-around in the big run and were happy to see that I had something in my hand.

Chickens are so funny when you give them something new. A squash provides hours of entertainment, spaghetti equals hilarity, and a moth caught in the coop creates a girl-fight unlike anything outside a Lindsey Lohan movie.

Today it was corn. I put the ear – whole – on the ground. They looked at it, suspiciously cocking their heads the way prey-birds do. “It’s OK, Ladies,” I cooed at them. Then one got brave enough to peck at a kernel. It popped a little and corn-juice splattered just enough to make her squawk. She backed up momentarily before re-approaching the ear, one of her sisters in tow. Both girls pecked and squawked and scratched and wiped their beaks on the ground until a third hen, then a fourth, and finally all of my girls were pecking and chirping and flapping their wings and before I knew it, I had been watching my birds for twenty minutes. First in Mountain, then in Tree (how I typically stand if standing for a while): I realized what was happening when I opened my arms to clean out an egg box and found myself in a pseudo-Warrior pose. So I said, “Eff it,” again and went ahead and stretched out with a few postures that wouldn’t leave me rolling in chicken poop.

I had committed to doing yoga this morning. I tried to run to Tarshish again ya’ll and ended up fulfilling that commitment with yet another “Ridiculous Moment” that left me giggling at myself all morning.

I still have work to do – and episodes of Supernatural to watch, Andrew promises they stay good for a few seasons. But I think I just might approach all my lingering tasks from a slightly more joyful perspective. I may turn into a fluffy-witch yet.

Thanks, Cin. You often make my day.

B, Q, 93,

TBW

Life and Death and The Bad Witch: aka Litha is Coming

I have had a lot of fodder rolling around in my Bad Brain this past week – Literature and Lore about Lucifer (perfect for an L post), Psychopomps, Triple Diety, The Reclamation of Seiðr, to name a few – and have wanted to share it with y’all.

But alas, life.

Or should I say, death.

I’m not maudlin or anything. Take all of this as vaguely tongue in cheek. I’m a little worn down by the death that seems to surround me at the moment, but I’m not morose about it.

Crazy how The Mother guards the hen from the dog.

When I wrote my “K” post, I told you that I didn’t have any “K” ideas floating in my brain.

I kinda lied.

I’d been thinking about Mother Keridwen in fits and spurts. One day I’ll learn to listen right away so The Powers That Be don’t have to smack so hard upside the head.

Last Sunday, a very important life-figure passed across suddenly. And I thank you, my readers and cyber-companions, for the sympaties you have already expressed. It means a lot to me that you share not only in my foibles and triumphs, but that you are touched by my pain and my losses as well. In many of our cases, we’ve never met, but we are part of each other’s lives. And I am grateful for you.

The wake was in Chicago on Thursday and the Funeral was yesterday in Birmingham. I’ve had a very strange reaction to this death. I haven’t seen him in twenty years and have only had minimal contact with him in the past two years. But I spent most of my childhood under this man’s watchful eye. It makes sense that I would mourn him, but I was entirely devastated for days.

On Monday, I got some medical news that is giving me a serious case of avoidance. And will, therefore, change the subject.

On Thursday, my Bad Children (well, the two oldest) were invited to watch the filming of one of our favorite TV series and, based on their ectomorphic body type, ended up applying for an extras roll. Who would have guessed that having picky eaters would have an upside? The show revolves around death and even has the word “Dead” in the title.

On Friday, insanely tragic events aligned which allowed my hunting dogs to get into my chicken coop and at six of eleven of my chicks. There were three three-month-olds and three nine-week-olds. I watched the younger ones hatch on Easter Sunday and have held them in my hands everyday since. Fortunately, all of my friends know that furbabies and featherbabies are much more than pets around here. I had to bury them because burning them (in my traumatized brain at the time) would smell too – – um, have I mentioned that my kids are already really skinny and hard to feed?

Then my friend suggested that Keridwen was behind my having five chicks spared from the carnage (and it was carnage).

So, slap a Bad Witch with a stubborn stick.

No really.

Quit killing everything and slap me with a stubborn stick; I honestly got the message before those three young students from my school were murdered this morning.

Death is part of life.

I get it.

Ironically, I have been trying to write a celebration of fertility and life for this weekend’s Litha celebration. But now I must accept that maybe I was being too fluffy about the whole thing? (I know, right? The Bad Witch, fluffy? Ha!) But I think I was concentrating too much on the sun and the light and not enough on why we value the light as we do. Because, in the end – Winter is Coming.

Maybe this will be the darkest Litha celebration ever. And maybe it will mean more as a result. Maybe I figured out why we celebrate it after all.

The thing about the Stark words, “Winter is Coming,” is that, no matter how long winter lasts, spring follows after.

As ever, I’ll let you know.

But for now I’m going to catch up some work so I can watch the undead tonight. (Not that I have hopes of excellence, it’s like a train wreck, I can’t look away.)

Love and both Light and Darkness,
TBW

Ostara Blessings – And Eggs!

Lordy mercy. The Bad Witch has smeared a fertility spell from one end of her property to the other and it’s all come home to roost on the same weekend.

Without getting into too many details, The Bad Witch helped out with a fertility spell over Imbolc that seems to have taken a few steroids and bred with a Cerberus. Just saying. See “The Witch’s Duh” for how these things backfire.[1]

I had some funtastic [2] plans for this past weekend; but they all fell through under the weight of my fecundity, I suppose. I was disappointed at each turn when the plans gave way – but today, on Ostara, as Spring begins, I see the point I was missing at the time: I may be an old Witch, but I’m still fertile! (So to speak.) I have plenty of living to do.

To begin, I have to say that the intended subject of the spell has not been – how can I say? – unaffected. Not that I take credit; just that I know when to rejoice. Even if nothing comes of it – the “recognition” that the aether hears me is enough.

Nextly . . . .

Friday was the Bad Youngest’s birthday. We had hoped to celebrate menarche[3] and coming-of-age and, and, and. But she decided that not being adopted was the worst thing that ever happened in her life and she kicked me out of all of the plans for the day/week/ year/life.[4] To top it off, she was offered *as a gift* (get this, *free*) a breeder’s Pomeranian bitch. We have a breeder friend who found she had just one too many bitches. Ever get that feeling? I know I do. For this reason, The Bad Mommy said, “No.”

This led to runnings-away and threats of marriage by sixteen and such. Yeah, you were thirteen once too.

Saturday Night[5] was our community Ostara/Lady Day celebration (which rocked the house, btdubbs). After years of aloneness, not only did I get to hold ritual with loving community members, I got to worship with kin. Actual DNA and everything. It means more than mere words can express to be in a close-knit group – and then to add a favorite cousins from babyhood to the mix? Hot damn, I think somebody loves me.

After that, I visited a friend who lives in my nephew’s neighborhood. That was just straight-up intellectual fun and affirmation. With Guinness. Everyone needs good old fashioned intellectual affirmation (and Guinness) every once or so.

Meeting with my nephew and my two grand-nieces – both of whom I haven’t seen in three years (and both of whom are now taller than The Bad Great Auntie), I got some hugs I never thought I’d get again. Plus, I received 20-some (hopefully fertilized) eggs which had been transported by my nephew from The Bad Momma and The Bad Sister, artist / chicken breeder. (Just so you see – TBW is *sane* by genetic comparison.  -.-  )

But, as I’ve been told, everything about me is a story.

Here’s the story about them thar eggs.[6]

Every animal that we meet on or about The Bad Youngest’s bday meets a horrid demise. We are eight years running now. (Therefore it is a good thing I said “no” to the Pomeranian bitch, right?) Birds, puppies, more birds, you name it. Just a day or two before the eggs were sent to me, the mommas and the daddy of the clutch met with a pack of wild dogs. This means that (sadly/fortunately) the Bad Eggs will all hatch without a glitch on or about Easter Sunday. The horrible curse has been paid.[7]

I’m so glad I asked for them baybays. This breed is special. Ever have a chicken act like a little lap-dog? These do. They will hop in your lap and beg for bread, all big-eyed and lovable. The Bad Sister puts clothes on them and lets them walk around the Persian rugs and leather sofas. And they are beee-ooo-ti-full.

Also, without sharing the details of the event, I had the Adoptee come to stay at Casa de la Mala Bruja. It was so fun. Super fun. Loads of fun. If you don’t mind oscillating between adoration and homicidalness (the former, but not the latter, aimed at The Adoptee; no worries). It was lovey. It was vaguely magical. It was totally amusing. Are you convinced? I am. I’m sure she is too. No, really, we made raspberry lemonade out of – well, raspberries, sugar, water, lemons, and more cheesecake.[8] I learned to love “America’s Worst Cooks.” She allowed me to Cesar Milan her Jack Russell – ew, that sounds . . . At any rate, it was a good visit under shitty circumstances.

And, on Sunday, we went to Tractor Supply: TBW’s second fav store in America. And there were chickadees and duckies[9]. Bent under the weight of pressure from The Eldest and The Adoptee[10], I may or may not have purchased chicks.

Bantams –mini-chickens. Pullets –girlies. I have a new lexicon and a new skill set to match.

They will lay eggs the size of a quarter and I will say, “Squeee!”[11]

So – with this post – I introduce you to The Bad Chickens. Which everyone knows means, “The Fantastic Chickens.”

Eldest has a Silke named Sookie. She will look silly in a few months.

Together, she and I also planted everything that had been hanging out in my greenhouse: collards, asparagus, cucumbers, and tomatoes and peppers of every variety. (Yes, yes, it wasn’t a “planting day” but I was on a roll and one has to take one’s joy as it comes, no?) There’s more to do, obviously, but having gotten the first proverbial row plowed, it all seems downhill from here.

Then Monday came.

And you know what? It was the best day I had had in . . . forever. It was busy. It was full of loose ends. But it also had its share of solder. It was dirty. It involved actual chicken shit. And I loved every minute of it.

Today was . . . different (on account of it was my first day in the classroom after Spring Break – always interesting). But it was also lovely. I spent 20 minutes with a friend that I haven’t really talked to outside of my dissertation and annual reviews over the past few years. My students – in all my classes – hugged me simply because they missed me.

I’m not exactly convinced how tomorrow could possibly turn out bad.

Wishing you the most blessed Spring, the most abundant harvest, and a joyful 2012 – with full-frontal BB and 93,

TBW

 

 


[1] I once cast a fertility spell that I had to “recall.” That sucked – is all I’m saying.

[2] Also furtastic.

[3] Once she learns that word, she will be angry with me all over again for blogging about it.

[4] I’m told: “That’s how you know they’re yours.”

[5] I sing the Bay City Rollers every time.

[6] I “candled” the eggs this evening and have nine *confirmed* embryos. Not bad for a first-timer and a six hour car ride.

[7] The Bad Sister, like The Bestie who shares a bday, has a bit of a “bad historical events” birthday curse too.

[8] But we didn’t really use raspberries – coz she’s pregnant. We decided to substitute pepper vodka. (Sorry, V inside joke.)

[9] Not the John Hughes type.

[10] And her little dog too.

[11] The Bad Children – including The Adopted – named them all but left me one. This “one” hates me. I’m told: “That’s how you know it’s yours.”

C is for Chicken Blood

I’m a day late and my blog will be rather short. This past week has had me a bit bent-over, so to speak. I made the mistake of collecting two major writing assignments and promising feedback in 48 hours; this created a domino effect for the rest of my, rather busy, life.

That said, I was going to shortchange my readers by simply pointing back to an earlier blog. I was going to call this one, “The C Word,” and ask you to have a looksie here at “I Calls It Like I Sees It” (a Lacanian dialogue about the physicality of the female divine).

Then I thought I’d *not* shortchange you and spend some time talking about another Pagan dirty word, “Covens.”

But, alas, I got on the phone with my BFF and my sister; they share a birthday today.

My sister and I were talking about chickens. She has been raising them for a couple of years and I plan to build a coup this spring and have a half-dozen or so myself.

We wound round transporting chickens, chicken housing, sexing chicks, feeding, watering, and sanitary issues. We discussed the temperaments and vitality of various breeds and The Bad Sister’s designer line of chicken attire. She gave me a list of resources and a critique of the best and worst chickeny newsletters. We discussed chicken/dog cohabitation and coup layouts. When it came to the conversation about culling the flock – should we end up with a rooster too many – I asked, “Will there be much blood?” I knew I could chop off a head (apparently there is a nifty trick with a milk jug) but I wasn’t sure I could pluck a chicken if there was a lot of blood.

Having just “come out” to my momma (which you can read about here), my religious choices and vocation must have been hot on my sister’s mind. (She’s always known we are Witches. I mean, come on.)

She hemmed and hawed about different ways of culling and gathering blood in less humane ways and finally landed on, “Well, there won’t be enough blood for a ritual of any kind if you just cut off it’s head.”

Insert rimshot here.

I took it as a sign of total love and devotion: “Baby Sister, if you want to use chicken blood in a ritual, you’re gonna have to cull a lot of chickens.”

Happy birthday, Sis. I adore you.

 

This post is part of a year-long project. Rowan Pendragon’s The Pagan Blog Project; “a way to spend a full year dedicating time each week very specifically to studying, reflecting, and sharing . . . .    The project consists of a single blog post each week posted on prompt that will focus on a letter of the alphabet” (http://onewitchsway.com/pbp2012/).