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How to Make a Spider Your Ally

Text reads: “A new short story by M. A. Phillips: How to Make a Spider Your Ally – Featured on the Adirondack Center for Writing.”

The Adirondack Center for Writing decided to inspire its members and supporters with weekly prompts to help us get through this alarming time in our history. When they posted this week’s prompt, “How to make a spider your ally,” it immediately spoke to me as an animist. I had so much fun with this project, and it helped me work through some sadness experienced from the social isolation. You can read it for free on The Adirondack Center for Writing! Don’t forget to check out the other amazing entries! I’m enjoying them between housework, and I hope you appreciate them as much as I do!

Welcome to Three Things Thursday – your weekly dose of three mini posts in a larger post.

Virtual Vernal Equinox:

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A view of the ritual space in my back yard. I tried to make it as festive as possible with a green tablecloth, pastel bunnies, colored eggs, and an Airmed flag I sewed a couple years ago. Photo by M. A. Phillips 2020.

Life changed quickly due to Covid-19, and my grove adapted with an online ritual. Unlike other instances when we did virtual rites, I did all the parts. I wanted to make it as stress-free as possible, so I streamed what I did online and left quiet moments for those joining in to speak to the Kindreds at their own home altars. When I called to the Nature Spirits, a red squirrel shimmied really close, stared at me, then chirped! Online rituals are always awkward, but I tried to make it peaceful and simple. People from out of town took part or viewed it later. I’m glad that I helped others find some comfort in a scary time. It was certainly a learning experience!

Devotionals with my Daughter:

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Like many of you, I’m groping through this whole social distancing experience. As I figure out how to balance teaching my students online and keeping my daughter on some sort of educational routine, I decided to include her in morning devotionals. I usually do them on my own before heading to work, but lately I felt it was important to make it more of a family affair. She cuddles up and hugs me while we take three calming breaths. I’ve had to shorten my ritual a little, and I let her choose who she makes offerings to. I think she’s finally at a perfect age to appreciate the added comfort.

Writing Update:

As I wait for feedback on RIVER MAGIC, I’m doing my best to keep busy and improve my craft. A sequel is taking shape in the form of an outline, and I’m working on a flash fiction inspired by the Adirondack Center for Writing’s prompt. Stuck at home, writing is even more important to me. It’s an outlet and escape. It’s another way to connect to others. I’m so grateful for Brigid’s inspiration.

How are you creating and connecting to others while staying inside?

Once more, I’m squishing three mini blog posts together into a big one for your viewing pleasure! Here you’ll find some musings on the Spring Equinox, an activity for you to do with the little ones during isolation, and a new excerpt from an upcoming short story!

Growing Food

 

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Lettuce I’m regrowing. The CSA I got it from included the root ball, so I just plopped it back in a pot and watered. Now it’s regrowing! Photo by M. A. Phillips, 2020

My seeds from Pinetree Garden Seeds arrived a couple days ago, promptly followed by the grow lights I ordered to improve my success. With everything shutting down, the shortages, and uncertainty, growing some food at home seems more important than ever. Each little seed is a packet of hope for the future. I enjoy blessing the seeds and planting them as part of our family Spring Equinox observations. If you’re new to gardening, there are plenty of resources online, but some of the easiest plants to grow in my experience are lettuce greens, peas, and chives. Chives will flourish year after year as they are self-seeding  (and quite invasive if you let them have their way). They’re a harbinger of spring in my garden, and even thrive left in pots left out over the winter. I enjoy snips of chives in my salads, potatoes, soups, and stews.

An Equinox Scavenger Hunt

Equinox Scavenger Hunt

My daughter is sad that she’s not able to celebrate the spring with our grovies. She always enjoyed doing an egg hunt and running around outside with the other kids. When the news reported that the virus reached the West Coast, I started buying one treat each grocery visit to ensure I had a basket for her. I also plan to do a scavenger hunt. I made a graphic using free clip art on Canva.com and am including it here for you if you like! I designed it for either hemisphere, and I emphasized the three realms in a kid-friendly way. It’s meant to be open-ended. Your child doesn’t have to find a bee, for example. It could be any insect flying in the sky. Any water will do – whether you go on a nature walk, look out your window, down from your balcony, or search for pictures and videos online. The important thing is you’re having conversations with your children and reflecting on seasonal changes.

A New Excerpt

Invasives excerpt

I push down the urge to utter a curse. My mind is too rattled to fuse words coherently without causing more harm than intended.
Invasives
by M. A. Phillips

I shared a sneak peek into an upcoming short story called “Invasives” on my instagram. I’ll talk about it more as we approach Bealtain, but I’m really excited for you to see it in issue three of Stone, Root, and Bone magazine! As always, I like adding excerpts to my Three Things Thursday posts since not all of my readers use that social media. Speaking of Stone, Root, and Bone, issue one is available for free this month! Just enter the promo code SRB1FREE when you check out. You’ll be able to read my short story “Lemon Balm Tea!” Let me know what you think.

Stay well everyone.

Virtual Irish Fest!

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Due to concerns with COVID-19, we should all be practicing social distancing for everyone’s health. Please stay home unless you must go out! It’s sad that we can’t go out and celebrate Irish culture together during Irish Heritage Week / St. Patrick’s Day, but we can come together online! Join me on Twitter or Instagram with #TwitterIrishFest or #VirtualIrishFest. Share events, videos, music, and photos that celebrate Irish culture!

What do I mean by that? 

First of all, please don’t perpetuate anything offensive or racist. ANYONE is welcome to celebrate Irish heritage and culture regardless of DNA. That said, we MUST respect that the Irish culture is alive and well. People still speak the language. Let’s truly honor that. Also, this is meant to be spiritually inclusive! Ireland has seen enough religious conflict. Feel free to share prayers, songs, or devotionals to the Tuath Dé Danann, the Good Folk, or the Saints. Please DO NOT put down anyone’s religious beliefs, engage in debate, or attempt to convert anyone. This is a time for coming together and supporting one another.

I will tweet and update this list as I learn of more events happening, but here are some things you may want to check out:

So grab a pint or a cup of tea, learn some Irish (or teach some!), share and enjoy a tale or three, clap along, and celebrate Irish heritage!

Embracing Hope

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Chives emerge from the herb bed after a long winter. Photo by M. A. Phillips

The last few days have been tense. My county currently has zero confirmed cases of the new corona virus, my state has quickly jumped to the top of the pile. While schools just a couple hours away are closing for two to three weeks, we’re all waiting and trying to maintain normalcy.

We see the panic and fear on the internet as people post photos of empty toilet paper shelves in store after store. My colleagues who are older or have compromised immune systems teeter from nervous to petrified. The kids are flippant to skittish.

I’m trying to maintain calm and yet be a healthy level of prepared. Seeing examples of kindness buoy my spirits: friends and acquaintances in other hard-hit places offering lunches to kids at home without other food, reminders to donate to pantries, people opening their homes to others in need, and helping strangers find and reach supplies in grocery stores.

Druidry values hospitality, and I see that alive and well. Sure, someone posted a video of people fighting over TP, but I see an overwhelming and heartwarming flood of helpers.

I went outside today to get some fresh air and discovered the chives are waking up. It’s another reminder that the hard times come to an end eventually. I pray they don’t last long, but at least I’ll have some herbs to share soon.

Once more, three mini posts inside a big one! Trying to remain positive in light of a lot of anxiety at the moment.

A Low-Key Full Moon

I had plans for the full moon, and they collapsed, much as I did into bed, that night. The impact of losing an hour is amazing (on top of coming out of an intense Mercury in retrograde). This is unusual for me as full moons find me more energetic! After some reflection, I realized it’s okay. Listening to our bodies is important, after all. I altered my plans and did a simple folk charm during my devotional, and I prepared a bone to join the nature shrine. While I lacked the energy for my initial plans, I think everything turned out in the end.

Tree Spirit!

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Plush oak tree spirit made by M. A. Phillips 3/12/20 (Forgive the appearance of my sleeping garden.)

Writing has been my main focus for a few years now, but if you’ve been with me since the beginning, you know I also love to sew. I used to make (and sell) tree spirits at craft fairs, Pagan Prides, and on my now shuttered Etsy. Last year, a friend from a local artisan co-op approached me about adding some to their stock. I wasn’t ready last year, but I’m making some for this summer! The best part? Unlike before, this lovely little guy is made without plastic. That’s right! The felt and stuffing are wool, the thread is cotton, and the eyes are glass. Mindfully choosing materials that are less detrimental to the environment is very important to me, and I think it adds to the magic of these little sprites. Making him sure added a spot of sunshine to my week!

A New Excerpt!

ch 2 excerpt lidia's store

Lidia spread her arms wide. “Presenting the yet-to-be-named boutique of magic and shenanigans!”
Cian and Lacey chuckled in admiration. Not even Mark’s skepticism could deflate her plans.
“It must have shenanigans if you’re involved,” Cian pointed out.
“It must,” Lacey agreed. “It wouldn’t be Lidia’s store without it.”
The other woman flashed an impish grin. The streetlights shimmered in her green and blond hair. She twinkled like a shooting star. Lidia seemed to have everything figured out, and it transfixed Lacey.
RIVER MAGIC by M. A. Phillips

I’m still participating in the Dark and Light Author Challenge over on Instagram. Check mine out for more insight into my novel, RIVER MAGIC. The above excerpt gives a little glimpse at one of my favorite secondary characters, Lidia. She’s an eclectic solitary Wiccan who opens a metaphysical shop in their community. She’s also one of Lacey’s best friends and confidants. One day, I will write a whole story focused on her.

  • Take Care – 
    Although “self-care” has become entangled with commercialism, I still find value in the original essence of the concept. Pausing to make time for ourselves and our spiritual, creative, or physical needs is important, especially when so much weighs us down. Between the news, some stressful situations at work, and such, I left my exercises on the back burner. Tonight I decided to fit in some belly dance and yoga, and I’m so glad I did. I feel much better, and I’m energized to practice more.
  • Feral Witchcraft
    I mentioned some stress at work. I love my job, but I definitely had to unleash my inner mama bear this week! When I got home, I learned that a very generous person gifted me with access to the upcoming Feral Witchcraft Course from Althaea! My dear, anonymous benefactor saw a tweet that I’m interested yet unable to afford it this time around. I am simultaneously shocked, humbled, and extremely grateful for the present! This is a timely gift given how I’m digging my feet in to stand up for those who need it in my community, and bringing my dreams to fruition on my own terms. There’s still time to sign up if you’re interested! Althaea is an amazing witch and teacher. I. Am. Hyped!
  • Writing Update – 
    I decided to join in with another writing challenge on instagram. Just one this time. Two became a bit much for me some days, especially once February break ended. I do so enjoy these, though. They spark inspiration and I appreciate an opportunity to share and connect with other writers and readers. Here’s the latest excerpt I posted featuring Lacey’s want as the story opens.

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    “The old kayak dream is back,” she wrote. “I wish I could steer my dreams with a paddle and figure out where to go from here.” Lacey tapped the end of a pen against her lips. “There was a tune this time. I recognize it from somewhere.” From RIVER MAGIC by M. A. Phillips