Blue Crow Rising; Chapter 1 part 3

In a catastrophic rush we ran through the building. She didn’t need to pull me anymore but she had a firm grip on me. But I wasn’t going to run away. I was by her side and was going to protect her from the sprites! Somehow, in the chaotic rush of the moment, I thought that I was going to prove that I could take care of her by… whacking sprites over the head? Yeah. Brilliant.

We crashed out the double front doors into the yard. It was full chaos. There was students in all shapes, everywhere, grabbing at sprites and battling them in the most (to my unmagical lens) epic of ways. Sparks were flying! Magic simmered through the air like ribbons!

Aaliyah let go of me, running towards the debris around the trees. “Grab a stick!” she called to me, doing so herself. Then, seeing as I wasn’t getting there fast enough she threw a stick at me, snapped one off a branch for herself, and whirled around to face…everything.

Because the grounds were huge. The grounds sprawled in all directions with preened green slopes, a little stream gurgling down among them, and trimmed trees here and there dotting the landscape. But the battle was all concentrated here, where the sprites were trying to destroy our sacred trees. We were smack in the thick of it.

“Get as many as you can!” ordered Aaliyah before sprinting into the chaos. I wanted to yell at her to wait for me- but that would have sounded wimpy. I was brave! Rawwwr!

So I stood there and tried not to quiver with my stupid stick in hand. Damnit! Why?!

As they say, spirits and the bloomed ones that are so inclined can smell fear. Within seconds a sprite was flashing towards me, elements in hand and teeth gnashing.

If you’ve never seen a sprite up close, their sparkling cloud doesn’t hide their shape very well. Beneath it, they sort of look like floating ghosts with evil hands and onion-shaped heads. This one had green lights sparkling around its hands and the nastiest pointy teeth I’d ever seen.

“Snack- snack,” it seemed to say, clacking its teeth together as it floated before me.

I gripped my stick with both hands. Think of Aaliyah, I told myself. Think of school. You’re never going anywhere unless you bash this thing’s brains in-

Aaaand, just as I was thinking that, it zoomed in on me. I swung the stick with a yell, a sound that was mercifully drowned away by all the sounds of a battlefield around us. My stick whizzed above the sprite’s head and I lost my balance. The sprite leaped forward. Its fangs buried into my right forearm, its elemental spell sending electric shocks into me.

Okay, now I yelled.

And then something happened.

I felt a change come over me. Something rushed through my system like hot soda bubbling in my veins. I thrashed, the electric sparks suddenly seeming faint.

I’m fucking dying, I remember thinking. Good lords, this was stupid!

As the rush continued I found myself moving – and suddenly came to with my hand closed over the sprite. Both hands.

Beneath my skin I felt the sprite pulsing. I felt the three parts of its soul throbbing with life. I heard it hissing and scrawling in a language I suddenly understood.

“Let me go!” it shrieked in that tiny, hissing, voice. “You’re not one of them! Let me go! What are you? Let me go!”

Shocked, I moved my hands. Tentatively, I pulled on what I felt and the three soul parts began coming apart. The sprite shrieked – and burst one of its own parts. It killed itself.

I gaped as the body went limp in my hands. The two other parts throbbed with life still – and it smelt. It smelt delicious, a strange aroma of death and untimely consumption and decay that called to me like a corrupt song. Suddenly I knew what an addiction must feel like. What it must be like to crave the casinos, the drugs, the things you knew you shouldn’t do.

Because I knew I shouldn’t eat the sprite.

I mean, yes, everyone eats sprites. But I wanted the soul.

Hesitant, I looked around. Maybe I was searching for a reality check. But the world felt woozy. It didn’t seem real. And somehow I just knew that no one was paying me a shred of attention, too busy searching out their own glory strikes.

So I gave in. I was lifting the sprite’s remaining two souls to my lips. Somewhere within me my rational self was wondering what was happening. I mean, can stomachs even digest souls?

But it never reached my lips. Instead, the two sprite souls sort of infused up my arms, dissolving into me, merging up through my skin.

I gasped, dropping the now thoroughly dead body. I wanted to scream as I realized that the souls were now in me. Did I digest them through my hands? Was the sprite now part of me? Did I now have five soul-parts? What was going on?

Completely freaking I fell backwards onto my ass. With a scramble I tried to get away from the inanimate body. Impulsively I wanted to flee.

That must have been the trick because suddenly I was scrambling, launching myself up, up, and flapping into the sky. It was when I was about five to six feet up, pumping my wing/arms like mad that I realized – wait a minute.

I looked down at the chaotic battlefield. I looked downer and saw my legs- now two stubby black bird legs. With a hoarse shriek I realized that I wasn’t me any longer.

With a jolt I realized I’d bloomed. Somehow. With another jolt I realized I was about to fall straight down if I didn’t do something about it.

I cawed for help. I shrieked. I flapped and flapped and wiggled my butt in the hopes of getting those feathers to do their job. Ingloriously, it made me think of pilates. Clench the buttcheeks! Wave the arms! Automatically, my legs paddled the air as well, and I must have looked like an idiot trying to run through the air.

Careening through the air, climbing up with no hopes of getting down, I found myself looping towards a tower.

Now, I want to take a minute to say that this tower wasn’t painted in brilliant orange with ‘forbidden fucking tower’ scrawled over it. It just – no one went there is all.

It also just so happened to have a gridded balcony, sort of like a safety ramp, all around the top. I aimed for that, figuring I could sit up here until I got help.

With a zoom I careened towards the tower. A side draft of wind nearly bashed me into the tower, and I didn’t so much land as I flew to the floor and stuck my legs out and began to walk and folded my arms. Skittering to a stop, I slammed sideways against the tower’s wall.

Okay, I told myself. Okay. Fuck.

Chapter 1 Part 2

I had this theory, I read about it online and in a magazine once, that not being able to bloom was due to a nutritional deficiency. I’d believe it, because all five of us were dirt poor except Magdalene. And Magdalene was, well, really special. She had a hard time talking. Her eyes were lined with black, her clothes were black, and spikes jutted from her at every possible corner. But she just couldn’t really talk. Or do math. Or really, sit still for that long. She liked shouting too.

But she was an unbloomed, so she was my friend. We, the useless ones, we stuck together.

Also, we waited our turn. As the teacher, Mister Macmillan, passed by to unlock the door the five of us drew back to get out of everyone else’s way. We knew our place in society. I gritted my teeth at it, but that was what it was. It just wasn’t safe to get in anyone else’s way. People who had bloomed just had so much power!

“Studying still? It’s a bit late for that?” Professor joked as he held the door open. I realized he was talking to me. Sheepishly, I grinned and shrugged. Someone walked past me and slammed their backpack into my shoulder.

“Sorry!” they said, obviously not at all. I returned to the page. The ink had bled a little from the rain. I tried to focus, to memorize all the formulas-

“Come on,” Aaliyah patted me on the shoulder, steering me into the classroom. I protested but let her, enjoying the attention. In a last minute ditch attempt I flipped the page – and saw more formulas! CRAP!

Sniggers rose from the back of the class as Aaliyah steered me to my seat. We sat, all five of us, smack in the front. It was the safest spot to be and even the teachers encouraged it. They didn’t want us to get picked on.

“Notebooks away,” Macmillan said, mainly to me. I pressed my lips together and handed Aaliyah back her notebook. More sniggers, about what I couldn’t guess but I wanted to punch someone for it. Rich kids.

Then, the test began. Mister Macmillan handed out the leaflets to each row and they were passed down. The instant I got mine I flipped it open and began skimming the questions. Yes, yes, yes, I knew most of these! Okay!

Thanking Aaliyah with all my might, I flipped to the back section – the ‘superior’ section. It was really only for the ‘superior’ students who showed promise and who had exceptional marks – a category Aaliyah and me had exceptionally managed to nose our way into. It was quite remarkable for us unbloomed ones to have managed to enter the category, a feat that amazed our principal and even earned us both an embarrassing article in the school’s newspaper once.

And YES! I knew how to do those too!

Furiously, I began scribbling away. Time seemed to slow as I focused upon one question then another, scribbling and calculating and jotting numbers here and there.

Halfway through, I lifted my head up. Professor Macmillan was pacing the rows, scolding students and reminding everyone to keep their eyes on their papers.

I, however, was suddenly unsure of what I was doing. Something was wrong. Something tingled at the back of my neck. Something that had happened when – I looked out the window and caught my breath. Beyond the preened soccer fields, the sacred trees were on fire. Strange figures ran about, shadowy and furtive.

I lifted my hand. “Professor.”

“Don’t speak out of turn,” Macmillan said as he walked over.

“But,” I protested.

“What?” he asked as he walked to my side. I pointed to the window.

“We’re being attacked,” I said, stating the obvious.

“Oh,” he said.

There was the universal rustle of everyone looking. Of necks craning as everyone tried to see what I was pointing at. Which, for your information, was a sprite attack. It had happened once in my mother’s time at this school. It had already happened once in my time, and now I was unlucky enough to witness it again.

The alarm, a little late in my opinion, wailed out over the microphone. “Attention, students and staff,” our principal said primly. “We are enduring a sprite attack! Senior students are encouraged to use this as an opportunity to hone their fighting skills and gain hunting points – which I remind you are required for graduation!”

There was a cheer. Because, yeah, sprite attacks weren’t a catastrophe. In suburbs, where people were caught unawares watching their TV’s and where the populace wasn’t crawling with students yearning to ‘get out and FIIIIGHT!’, as some teachers were now shouting in the hallways, it could be dangerous. It was just especially dangerous if you were magically crippled, like, you know, us unbloomed were.

I was hunkering down in my chair, heart already hammering in my throat. Professor Macmillan was already at the front of the class, huge grin plastered on his face. “Alright students!” he called out like this was the best ball game of the world. “Get out there! Get some points!”

I slunk farther down in my chair, exchanging a horrified look with Aaliyah – who somehow didn’t look as terrified as I felt.

There was a roaring cheer of students jumping up, throwing pencils down and rushing for the windows. “Go, go, go!” Macmillan cheered, clapping his hands.

Students, the fastest first, began blooming right as they threw themselves at the windows. It was normally a sight I both loved to watch and hated. I was jealous, I hated them for being able to do something so magnificent. To shed their human skin and bloom into fully spiritual form.

There was Zalf, the gryffon who passed through the glass just in the nick of time. Gertrude, the graceful swan. But I was waiting with bated breath for the one. The one.

She was filthy rich. She was long-legged, blonde, pale of skin and always impeccably dressed. Her hair was short and choppily pulled back, with two long tendrils hanging down beside her face. Confident as could be, she and her small cluster of elite friends waited until everyone else was on their way to being moving. Because they never needed to rush. They were dragons.

Ever seen a dragon? Me neither until last year when our classes merged. Since then, I waited with bated breath for the crystal ice white dragon to materialize – but most of all for the jade green one. Her.

She, leaping for the window, was graceful and lithe. Stunning and magnificent as her green scales shimmered to reality around her and her shocking blonde mane rippled out.

Then, justlike that, she was gone. With an exhale I relaxed and looked back to the front of the class where Macmillan was. He was looking at me expectantly.

I pointed to the test. “Can I finish?”

Proffessor cringed. “You do know that you need hunting points to get into any high-ranked school, right?”

My jaw fell. But we were un-bloomed! We couldn’t hunt! It was too dangerous for us to even join organized hunting parties! Nevermind throwing ourselves into a melee!

“I mean,” Macmillan continued. “For the other schools, you can get in without it. But I know you two were hoping to get into McVaster so-“

Aaliyah scraped back her chair and jumped to her feet. Determination was scrawled all over her face. Holy shit- she really was going to do this!

I clutched at my chair. “Aaliyah! There’s sprites! We’re unbloomed-“

“Get up!” she ordered. “We’re going!”

“You can hit them over the head with sticks!” professor was cheering. Aaliyah grabbed me by the arm and yanked me to my feet.

I protested, but my wife-to-be was having none of it. With a yank and more determination than she needed, she rushed us out the door.

And that, really, was how it all began.

Authortube? Why not?

In the vain hopes of becoming a YouTube star, haha, I’ve now stuck myself up on YouTube in video format!

There, I will be… doing pretty much what I do on this blog, but in video format. That is, ranting. About things. Like my books, writing, and books.

I really hope to get better at making videos, so I’d love some feedback! Also ask me questions about me (keep it classy) or my writing (bonus points if it’s about Kyrie’s story aka the one I’m posting online for freeee) and I’d be so happy to answer them!

And yeah, if I look tired… I am! But hmmm maybe I’ll do some nice makeup for the next one? Who knows!

Anyways, I wish you all the very best ❤ Take care!

Thinking of Sharing…

I’ve been thinking lately of how sharing brings me joy, and how that’s something I want to focus on more. How can I share more with y’all, and interact more? I’m not sure. Thoughts? Ideas?

On a local scale, I am going to be attending a local garden sale, where I will be selling my art (birdies all over the place!) and I am really hoping to interact with people and be able to sell my art for cheap so people can enjoy it.

On a more internet-wide scale, I’ve uploaded to Tapas, and am reconsidering wattpad. I mean, what’s the harm? You see, I’m rethinking my ‘Dreaming of Lights’ book, and am considering posting it for mostly free online. Why not?

I’m not sure I will, I will have to think on it a bit more, but this is me wondering about posting weekly chapters like I used to. Is that something that would interest you all? Let me know in the comments! I really look forward to getting some feedback on this!

Anyways, here’s a goodie! Today, while feeling back ‘in the groove’ for that story, I made a picture of Kuryo/Kyrie. So here it is! I hope you like it!

Farfadel Coloring Book Update

As I work on the upcoming Farfadelian coloring book, there is so much thought that is happening behind the scenes. Every picture makes me think of this elements’ role in Farfadel, how those elements are at play in the world, and what I am trying to represent of it.

Often, I find myself thinking of the magic, of the cuteness, and the gentleness I am trying to portray. But there are other serious things at play, especially when drawing out the fairies, namely the skin color and gender of fairies.

Skin color is a topic that is very sensitive for me. I feel that, as a white person, I have to be particularly conscious of my usage of it. But also, as someone with dear relatives who are black, I want them to be able to see themselves in my stories, if they were ever to read them. I am also always a bit worried on this topic, as I feel that no matter how much I try, I will never know enough. Which, I think, is a fact. Some things we just can’t grasp properly because they are outside of our field of experience.

So, in short, I’ve decided to make the fairies of Farfadel with a variety of skin colors and hair types. Obviously, as this is a coloring book and my style of drawing isn’t hyper-realistic or even that realistic, the skin color is mercifully largely out of my hands. Eye shape is … well … eye shaped? I like to think that they are enough basically ‘eye’ shaped that everyone will be able to resonate with them. And the hair… I’m trying to include tight curls as well as smooth hair types. And really, I think that’s about all I can do to be inclusive in this way.

Now, as for the gender of the fairies… I feel a little baffled. Fairies always struck me as very feminine, female- presenting even. I even began to wonder if the fairies of Farfadel were all women, point blank. Now, while drawing out the coloring book, I have come across some more masculine-shaped fairies, but they all share the same playful and rather feminine vibes. This has led to me drawing what I think are some transgender fairies! How exciting!

Which, then, leads me to another character who has been featured closely in the Farfadel books who is, actually, trans. And I don’t mean Shadow! Another character in the series is trans, and they will soon be the subject of an epic romance that I will be writing – as soon as I finish the trilogy I am working on!

So, yes, not this upcoming trilogy, but the next one, will have another transgender romance! EEEE! I’m so excited for it!

And that, lovely peoples, are my thoughts of today. I hope you all are well! Take care ❤

Welcome to Circlet School ~Chapter Seven, Part One

The next day, I awoke to a riot of alarms going off. Obviously everyone had set their alarms for six am sharp, and hadn’t the previous days. Well, now they were all ringing like it was the apocalypse and we were a day late.

Sticking with that metaphor, I told myself to get on the horse and ride forth! Wield the scythe and … I lost my metaphor. But I was awake, the alarms were one by one being turned off, and nothing bad had happened yet, had it?

Congratulating myself on a good night’s sleep (my witch’s ladder seemed to be working!), I got up to take my shower and get ready.

That went smoothly. Fast forward to breakfast, and I was met with a wave of suits and ties. Uh. I was the only one wearing just a shirt – and one bearing cartoon dinosaur bones printed on it, by the way.

“What are you wearing?” asked Amanda, who was wearing a crisp suit worthy of Sapphire.

“Evolution?” I asked hopefully, thinking that, yeah, maybe the jeans were sinking me too.

“Uh, hhhhuh,” she said, looking me up and down.

“Lose the shirt,” said Sapphire, appearing out of nowhere to march past me.

“I’m the science teacher!” I protested. I get to wear funky shirts! I can be the button-down teacher, right? Science needs a makeover –

“Put on a jacket,” said Sapphire flatly, turning around with her breakfast tray in hand. She took a coffee from Cheryl without even looking, like a ninja.

I held an awful silence, stomach opening up into a pit of doom. Sapphire eyed me. “You own a suit jacket, don’t you?”

“No?” I said carefully. I was a public school teacher! I’d never even walking into a private school! We had just been told to ‘dress suitably’ in our contract. I thought that meant no medieval clothing.

Sapphire downed half her coffee in a go. Then, pressing her lips together, she looked at me with a fresh caffeinated glint to her eyes. “Put on a shirt without prints. You’re forbidden from prints for the rest of the school year.”

I felt half my wardrobe wave a solemn good bye. I’d even bought ones with molecules on them, for crying out loud. “Okay,” I muttered.

But first breakfast. Then, stuffed full of cereal, I was ordered with a glare from Sapphire to go ‘lose the shirt’.

When I returned, Sapphire was handing out pamphlets and had stacks of papers and fold-outs at the ready. “So we are doing a very small greeting this year,” she said as soon as I slipped into the hall.

I slithered over and was handed a pamphlet by a smiling Paulette. I thanked her with a smile and sat down with everyone else.

Sapphire glared us all down. “I want you all on your best behavior. Professional. No stories of ghosts, possession, or crystal healing. We want to seem reasonable and grounded in reality.”

Then, in a grueling rush, we were given a run-down on everything that had been in the emails. We were to greet the parents in waves throughout the days. The lowest level students arrived first, the higher levels later on. There was to be a break for lunch, which was offered to the parents for a price. Aurora, Crystal, Amethyst and Kayla the detention teacher, were to supervise the students as they settled into their dorms. Bjorn, Ivy, and Maria were to give guided tours. Paulette, Amanda, Sapphire and I were greeting at the gates, so to speak. The nurse was to be in her office, in case anyone got hurt or dehydrated.

“Oh, I’m sure no one will get sick,” said Amethyst with a beaming smile. “It’s such a lovely day.”

Sapphire glared Amethyst down. “It’s not a matter of ‘if’ something will go wrong. It’s a matter of ‘when’ and ‘who’. Be prepared for everything.” Under her breath she added “these are parents.”

Well that… just made me feel completely unprepared.

Once more, Sapphire told us what to say, pointed to what to point to on the pamphlets, then with a deep breath, looked us over again. She did not seem particularly pleased with what she saw.

“Next year, you all have to have suits that fit better than this,” she said sharply. “I expect more from you. All of you.”

I felt like a weed withering before her no-weed spray. Or maybe boiling hot water. That’d kill any plant. But, as if to add fire to her weed-killer, she glared at just me. “I expect you to have a suit jacket after your first paycheck. Is that clear?”

“Oh, uh, hnh,” I said most verbosely, nodding. “Yeah.”

“Good,” and she gestured to the way out of here. “Let’s go.”

Or, in parent language, she might as well have said ‘ready, set, arrive!’. Because, yeah, the minute we got out there, near the driveway and ready to point to cars where to park, a car eeked up the road.

I put on a broad grin. “Parents are here!” I said, looking around.

Amanda checked her watch. “A full hour early. They are probably overachievers who expect their kids to be on the honor roll, but don’t know how to cook a casserole so to speak.”

“Hmm,” Sapphire said, neutral expression firmly in place. “Enough of that.”

To which Amanda hmphed and crossed her arms, sure of her superiority to these common folk who… couldn’t cook a casserole? Was I the only one excited to meet the parents? Yeah? Or was that a sign of being a new teacher? Or maybe, as I later realized, they had a better grip on the ‘pagan’ part of ‘pagan parents’.

“Hey!” a beer-bellied man stepped out of the driveway, pale like a computer tech and dressed in a t-shirt and shorts. He had long, thin, brown hair that was pulled back into a long ponytail. His beard was too long for the care he obviously didn’t put into it. “We made it!”

“Oh, this place is lovely!” the wife squealed, stepping out of her side of the car. She was twice as wide as he, had a bob of frazzled hair, swishing purple skirts, and bulging eyes.

Then, there was the kid. She stepped out of the back of the car like she was being dragged to her own funeral. Humiliated. Dejected. I felt for her.

She was a scrawny thing with her mother’s large eyes, her father’s ponytail, and what I took to be the school’s uniform. It was a navy blue jacket, white shirt, and navy blue pants. Pretty plain, but as the family came closer the insigna on the jacket became visible. It was a white logo of a pentacle with a dragon around it. Funky, I thought, wondering what the dragon represented

“Heya!” said the father, holding out a hand to… Sapphire stepped forward to accept it with a tight smile and a firm handshake.

“Welcome,” she said “So glad you could make it.”

“Well, we were afraid of getting lost!” chuckled the dad, and the wife beamed and nodded. The daughter looked dejected and looked away.

One by one, Sapphire introduced the lot of us and what we taught. Of course, it was Aurora who got all the attention once it came out that she was the religion teacher.

“Oh, so you’re the priestess!” squealed the wife. “You know, I’m so glad that you will be overseeing this project!”

“Actually,” Aurora said, glancing to Sapphire for permission.

“She has a doctorate in new religious movements, specifically in Wicca and neopaganism,” said Sapphire curtly.

The parents’ eyes widened, and the dad nodded like ‘yeah, well done’. The mom, however, said “But you are a priestess, right?”

“No,” said Aurora firmly. “I am not. However, I am experienced in-”

“I’m a high priestess!” squeaked Amethyst, shimmying over through the group of teachers and bolstering me out of the way. Breathless and beaming (and also starting to sweat in this sun), she declared “And I can tell you that this place is going to be amazing for your child!”

“Oh, good!” said the mother, obviously relieved. Sapphire’s eyes narrowed, making her smile turn menacing. The mother, however, had eyes only for Amethyst now “I was so worried. You don’t want a bunch of muggles running this place, so to speak!”

“Oh, no!” Amethyst laughed, tilting her whole body to the side as she did so. “No muggles here!”

The family laughed. Except not the daughter. She clearly was not a harry potter fan, or a fan of this situation at all.

Amethyst, however, was about to bust out of her teacher role and promote herself straight up the channel. She was rattling on about how we were going to be having daily prayers, meditations before every class, how she was going to incorporate feminist theory into the readings (cool!) and – another car pulled into the driveway.

“More witches!” cheered the mother.

Indeed. More witches. These ones parked crooked, their expensive car shining waxily in the sunlight. When they got out of the car, they were bedecked in sandals, crisp pale clothing (skirts in the mothers’ case) that probably cost nearly as much as the car, and they were pointedly tanned. The dad lifted his sunglasses off his face, squinting around as if to say ‘that’s it?’. The daughter swung out of the back seat, lanky and graceful, her blonde hair sweeping around her like she was a videogame character or something. I sensed trouble in her. She looked way too popular for her own good.

The mother ambled over, a tight smile on her face, husband and daughter in tow. They were greeted with a “howdy!” by the previous dad and his wife. The first kid (who had still not been introduced) looked like she wanted to hide.

“Hi,” said the wife starchily, as if the words had a hard time coming out. She had a wealthy person’s accent, which I couldn’t describe. She looked down her nose at everyone, frowning. Probably the place had seemed bigger in the brochures.

“Greetings,” said Sapphire, stepping forward with a tight smile. As if recognizing her, the parents went ‘ah’ and shook her hands.

“So glad you could make it,” said Sapphire politely.

“Ah, yes, we are too,” said the father, looking around again.

Again, the teachers were introduced, but this time Sapphire mentioned the parents by name. Mr and Mrs Engeldorf. I took a wild guess that they were investors, and wealthy ones at that.

If people gave off a vibe, which I’m sure they do, these ones gave off icky vibes. I just did not like them. They also did not seem to like me, either, barely shaking my hand. Was it the pink shirt? Maybe.

They also seemed keen on ignoring the other parents, who were equally keen on not being ignored.

“So, witches eh?” said the first dad, prodding at the second dad.

“No,” said Mrs Engeldorf tartly, like, lemon tart kind of tart, with no sugar added.

“Oh?” the first mom said peppily, poking over. “What are you?”

The parents smiled acidly. “We are atheists,” the father said haughtily. “But our daughter,”

The perfect daughter looked wholly embarrassed and not so perfect anymore beside her parents.

“Has taken a shine for Wicca. She insisted on coming here, of all the places.”

“Well, what a good choice,” I said to the kid. She smiled at me. The parents scowled.

Mr Engeldorf put his sunglasses back on. “She’s allergic to gluten, by the way. We trust you’ll be taking good care of her,” he said, wholly expecting the opposite for sure.

Then, they unloaded their daughters’ luggage and left, tires crunching in the gravel. I hoped a bird pooped on them.

The daughter stood miserably there with her pile of luggage, looking every bit the abandoned teen she was.

“So what’s your name?” asked Amethyst happily, breaking the silence.

The teen lifted her chin proudly. “Raven,” she declared.

“Good choice,” said Sapphire. As a group, we teachers nodded. The remaining parents beamed. Their daughter finally spoke.

“I’m Greta,” she announced.

And that, really, was how the day began.

On Being Trans and Pagan

First of all, what with recent events being what they are, I encourage you all to go and support those protesting in the states. Give to help bail out those who have been arrested, and please get into letter-writing mode if you can’t protest.

That being said, I wanted to talk about something that struck me while working on a children’s drawing. This one in particular.

Now, for those of you who are visually impaired or who haven’t been following me for a while, this is an image of my very trans birdie beating a drum and singing while wearing a cloak and antlers. He is surrounded by a salt circle within which are placed a goblet, tiny cauldron with smoke coming out of it, a crystal, and a candle. Essentially, the little trans birdie is doing a ritual with the four elements and singing while incarnating the Horned God or some other horned deity.

Now, while drawing this out, it struck me that it could be seen as ‘hard’ to have the trans birdie invoking a masculine deity, as in it would be hard for a trans man to incarnate such an epidemy of masculinity. But then I thought that isn’t it overly hard for anyone to do?

Here’s my first point: the epidemy of masculinity, the Horned God, is equally far from everyone, trans or not, because they’re a deity and we’re mere mortals. No matter your view on deity, they’re that, impossibly far away, and we’re us. So, trans or not, we’re all impossibly far from this ideal personified, just as we are all embodiments of it. It’s a paradox, if you will, one that is solved only when a devotee offers up their body for possession during an invocation. Then, only then, does one truly reach peak ‘masculinity’.

But can only a cis man do the invocation properly? I don’t think so. I really think that, cis or trans or enby, or probably even a woman, one can invoke the Horned one (or any other male deity) in order to experience what it feels like to possess that energy, because, in the grand scheme of things, it is still a deity descending into a mortal body. To argue that it must be only ‘this type’ or ‘that type’ of body, in my opinion, is to argue over a millimeters’ difference when the deity has to cross aeons to reach us. The deity is already transcending so much in order to get into the body, is it really a big deal whether it’s male or female, so long as its receptive? I don’t think so. So long story short, my trans birdie (and all other trans men and enbies or even women) can do the ‘male’ invocations.

Second, while thinking on this, a thought came to me on the validity of trans masculinity. It came to me that, in paganism, one can be a mortal person and suddenly invoke a god, and be recognized as this god. During this invocation, the deity is recognized as such and treated with reverence required. So why don’t we apply this to transgender identities? This notion of being a female body hosting male energy that was invoked into it by birth is absolutely not so different from our deity invocations. Yet it brings to mind my interactions with pagans who kept saying to me that I was ‘so feminine’ and that I had ‘female’ energy (which was very upsetting for me). Why is it that, for deities, we can see the spirit but not for trans people?

I think that, as pagans, we tend to view the energy as being created by the body, rather than being summoned into it. We view them as interdependent and co-creating. But if we begin viewing the spirit as not entirely dependent on the body (at least in a gendered way), but rather as hosted by it, then we can see the difference.

Furthermore, for trans and/or enby people, I want to suggest invocations as a way to test out your gender. Are you considering becoming a man? Invoke the Horned God, or any other male deity you are comfortable with, and see how the ‘energy’ feels to you.

Why? Not only will it give you a ‘feel’ of masculinity, but often with invocations, the human/invoker will feel as if they have the deities’ body and accoutrements. In the case of the Horned God, one might feel as if they are bearing horns and a large phallus.

So try it out, and see if you like those feelings. You could even consider summoning the opposite and comparing and contrasting your emotions and sensations.

If this generates interest (or even if it doesn’t), I will make a full post about how to do a private ritual summoning deities for gender consideration. Hey, maybe even a ritual divination on discerning your gender/insight into your gender could be fun too.

So anyways, I want to wish you all a safe and happy day. Take care y’all ❤

Welcome to Circlet School ~ Chapter Five, Part Two

A philosopher somewhere probably said that life started with its first breath. Well, then, so did this ritual. With a grand breath that sounded draconic, the madam inhaled and then exhaled loudly.

She was planted summoning style, feet planted shoulder width and hands raised at her side. Her head was flung back like she was trying to suck in the whole sky. She was now wearing both the circlet and her hooded cape. White sage and incense cones smoldered in the cauldron, crystals strategically placed around our circle, along with the sticks, sorry – staves. A small cloth lay before the fire pit, named ‘altar’. There was the goddess and god figurines on it, the wand, and the stacks of candles and the drum.

We were also each holding a candle, looking like dutiful minions in a cult movie.

With a final exhale that, I’m telling you, sounded quite like a dragon sighing, she drew the hood over her head so it covered the circlet she was wearing. She stepped to the altar and picked up her shaman’s drum and beater. Stepping back to her stand at the head of the circle, she spoke to us all. “We are now about to do something very dangerous. We are going to do a banishing.”

Alright, I may be just an itty-bitty lil’ Gardenerian, but I’d seen my fair share of banishings in my witchy life time. They weren’t dramatic. Often, they were understated and simple affairs that were mainly effective.

This, I realized, was not to be the case with today’s ritual.

“In this ritual, you may see things, feel things. You may even be attacked supernaturally!”

Oh great. Way to set a calm and unprejudiced mood.

“I ask you all to hold the ranks! Do not be afraid!” Despite her previous fear-mongerings. Sure. “I will prevail!”

Yeah, su-ure.

She held up her drum – then seemed to change her mind. “We will now cast the circle,” she announced.

Putting her drum down, she picked up her wand. Turning her back to us (and thereby facing Sapphire who was sitting safely away and watching) she raised up her wand and declared “In the name of the Goddess and God!” and she swept down her wand to point out at the ground. Then, head held high, she began marching around our circle, clockwise (of course).

She muttered something as she walked, but a wind was stirring, sweeping her words away from me. And frankly, I wasn’t quite captivated. I was feeling sleepy, like I had missed my afternoon coffee. Which, I realized, I had missed. No wonder I was sleepy. Hmm. Would I be able to get it soon?

But the madame had reached the beginning of her circle again. “The circle is cast!” she proclaimed, raising her wand for a hero pose similar to that of Amethyst’s previous ritual. I wanted to groan. What was it with the hero-posing?

Seemingly chuffed with excitement, she stepped up to the altar. Dropping down her wand (ouch!) she scooped up the salt. “I cleanse this circle!” she bellowed, throwing salt over her shoulder. “May no harm come here! May no evil happen here! By the power of the goddess, the god, the powers within and without, the fairies, the dragons, the elementals and djinn, I proclaim it!”

Then she set the water back down and picked up the water. Again, she bellowed “I cleanse this circle, by the power of Elohim, the Astarte, the Danu, the Morrigan! The many and the one, be with us here now!”

Say what? Who was she summoning? All that at once?

Now she set down the water and picked up the white sage. Then she checked her pockets. “Does anyone have a lighter?” she asked.

There was a rustle of pocket-checking around the circle. “No,” we all had to admit.

“I do!” called over Sapphire, rising from her chair.

“Oh,” with a light laugh the madame turned around, holding out a hand. Sapphire tossed over the lighter. It struck the madame in the forehead. Whump.

“Sorry!” Sapphire called over, sitting back down. The madame rubbed her forehead but was just a little stunned. Now ignoring Sapphire, she turned back to us.

“I cleanse this space,” she declared, somewhat not as loudly as the other two times. “By the power of three, the triple blessings, and so mote it be!” She clicked the lighter and waved the white sage bundle over the flame. “Eli, Mogroth, Djinn of the east! By your power, I cleanse this space!”

She thrust the white sage up into the air. Tingles rose over my arms. I hated to admit it, but her summonings were working. I could feel presences. Chaotic presences, lurking around like they were cautiously wondering what the hell they were doing here.

“Now,” setting the smudge bundle down, she plucked up her drum and drum beater. “We shall begin our trance. Be not afraid, for I am a seasoned shaman.”

And then she began to beat her drum. It was rhythmic at least, and I began to feel a lull in my senses. I felt drowsy, relaxed. I didn’t even notice that she had began to hum along with her drum. Then she began to shout.

“Evil that hath come to this place! Michael before me! Evil that hath come to this place! Michael behind me! Evil! Michael, I demand you to stand between me and this evil! To destroy it completely!”

I jolted. I felt, very powerfully felt the presence of the archangel. Whether you believe it to be a thought-form, archetype of whatever, it was there. It was fiery, it was powerful, it was pissed off.

“Oh, evil of this land! Great horrors that have been committed here! I summon you, great evil!”

Dimly, in the back of my mind, I wondered why she’d had us hold these candles. Had she forgotten about them?

“Great Evil!” wailed on the madame, summoning something for sure. My arms were tingling with goosebumps. I felt a very, very, pissed off presence. It was strong, like iron, and very angry.

It seemed to be standing straight at the opposite end of the circle from the madame and her archangelic protection. Which, unfortunately, was directly where I was. So this mass of anger and fury was directly before me, with no angelic protection on my side.

Dear sweet Goddess, I thought grumpily in my foggy mind, protect me from this idiocy.

“Great evil! Murderer! Accuser! Ha-shaitan you are called!”

Holy crap, I thought, who the fuck is she summoning now?

“Iblis you are called!”

“The great fallen one you are!”

Now, I felt a greater, more powerful, entity taking place. No longer were we dealing with our genus loci, or spirits of the place. These were cosmic spirits, great ones with great thought-powers amassed.

“Michael!”

“Jibreel!”

“I command you! I compel you!”

An icy wind had picked up. Were we near a farm? There was a nasty smell on the wind.

“Great powers of good, forces of the universe!”

Good goddess! This woman was really going all out!

“We battle side by side! We combat the forces of evil!”

The wind whipped up, snapping our clothes tight against us.

“We will crush this evil that has manifested here! We will destroy it! Michael to the front of me! I command you to destroy this evil! Rebuke it! Crush it under your heel!”

Then, definitely taking the whole yelling thin up a notch, she bellowed “Eli eli, lama sabacthani! Destroy it!”

The wind snapped again. I felt a sudden void. The great nastiness was gone, whoever it had been. Leaving behind the fiery angelic presence … and a smaller, not quite cosmic sort of evil.

Because, you see, she summoned both the nastiness of the land and the spirits of Shaitan and Iblis. But she only banished the second one.

Crap, I thought as she began crooning. “Oh angels, great voice of the beyond, we thank you for your help! We bow to you, we sing your praises!”

The drumbeat stopped too suddenly. It felt like a lurch, like I was about to fall over.

Arms held out, drum aloft, she continued singing the praises of the ‘good’ who had defeated the ‘evil’. I felt quite sick. So much so that Paulette was suddenly helping me stand.

Completely clueless to my nausea, the madame waxed on and on. Then, lowering the drum, she finally noticed me. “Oh!”

I waved my fingers at her. “Just a little dizzy.”

She paused, looking like a deer in headlights. Then, shaking her head, she put down her drum and picked up her wand. Striking the hero-pose, she called out “Oh great beings! I release you all!”

Well, that was another giant energy vaccuum. Anyone who had been left behind/summoned but not used, left as fast as if their pants were on fire. Again, I felt dizzy.

Dimly, I heard her calling out to the circle that it was now open, and we were all basically free to go.

I plunked straight down, Paulette squeaking. Grumpy as could be, I set the unused candle down before me. There. This was over.

Drawing my knees to my chest, I decided that I needed a good grounding. That and maybe some space. Which, coincidentally, was not happening.

“Are you okay?”

“What’s the matter?”

“How do you feel?”

Legs swarmed around me, including the big skirts of the madame. Then, a pair of gray suit pants.

“Move,” said Sapphire in that cold tone that got shit done.

Suddenly there was space around me and I could breathe again. “Here,” Sapphire was crouching before me, holding out a granola bar and Crystal’s water bottle. “Take this.”

Behind Sapphire, the madame was waxing on to an avidly listening Crystal that “We just can’t predict who they will attack when you try and banish them.”

“Fuckin’ shit,” I muttered under my breath, scowling as I chowed down on the granola bar. I didn’t consider myself as a terribly sensitive soul, so, in my books, that ritual had been shit. Yeah, she’d gotten energy stirring. But in my opinion it was like calling ‘stirring the pot’ the same as making perfume. One stinks. One doesn’t. Point finale.

Still crouched before me, Sapphire smirked. “Need some more?” she asked, drawing another granola bar from her corgi’s harness pouches (which I hadn’t even noticed were there).

“No thanks,” I muttered savagely before taking a sip of water. Then I handed it back to her. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome,” she said with a smile as she rose to her feet. She offered a hand, and I took it to get up.

“Promise me we’re done with the stupid rituals,” I muttered to Sapphire. She winked at me. Then, we turned and rejoined the group.

Welcome to Circlet School ~ Chapter Five, Part One

“She’s here!” squealed Amethyst, stating the obvious.

The car looked like someone had taken a hammer to it, and a sledgehammer to other parts of it. It rattled as it drove up the gravel driveway, and seemed to just give up the ghost as it turned off before us.

Us, that is, being most of the teachers, the security guard, and Sapphire. Sapphire stood at the front, arms crossed and a pleasant look on her face that might have been trademarked by some makeup company, it was so neutral. She was poised, collected, and looked professional.

So, obviously, Amethyst had to run forward, squealing and shaking her hands with shawls flying. “Hello!” she squealed as she ran around the car.

Whatever might have been happy in Sapphire’s face turned grim. Her chest rose and lowered in a sigh, but she kept her poise.

On the other side of the car, I heard a weird accent. I saw a large shape and bright colors. There was a brief hug wherein Amethyst’s shawl draped around the figure – and then they both stepped from around the car.

The woman was large, round about the middle. Very round. Her hair was dark and frizzed out at the sides with whatever would cooperate being pulled back into a ponytail. She was wearing bright colors in strange shapes zig-zagged across her shirt on a black background. Her skirts swished and swished in a horrid shade that looked like a washed out grass stain. Or maybe vomit. She was wearing sandals.

“Ah! Hello! Bonjour!” she said, with a parisian accent as she walked over.

“Bonjour, comment allez vous?” said Sapphire in fluent french, greeting her and asking how she was. She offered a hand, which the madame clasped in both of hers.

“Ah! You have such strong hands!” declared the madame. She looked Sapphire up and down. “You try too hard. And you-” she waved expressively, bangles jangling around her wrists. “Need to get in tune with your inner goddess. Maybe you should masturbate a bit more.”

“I am so glad you came here for this banishing,” said Sapphire in sickly sweet tones as she tried to draw back her hand.

“Mmm,” the woman closed her eyes. “I sense a love affair. A -”

Sapphire yanked her hand free. “I thought you had been explained that we wanted a banishing from you-”

“Oh! Madam! I am intuitive!” she declared, hands butterflying about herself. “I do and say as the spirit calls!”

“Well, the staff have been very anxious about the state of our property, spiritually speaking,” said Sapphire sweetly. “They, especially,” and here she designated Amethyst with a hand “are very eager for you to do what needs to be done with this place.”

“Ah! But! I say and do what the spirit demands! And you!” she gestured up and down to Sapphire. “You are a woman who does not accept herself! You need to embrace your inner-”

“That is not what you are being paid for,” said Sapphire tartly.

The woman rolled her eyes wildly, shaking a hand to the sky. “But the spirits are speaking! And you need to accept yourself! Embrace your feminine side!”

“Alright, I’ll keep that in mind. What about the land?” and Sapphire gestured to the building. “Do you want a tour?”

“Oh no, I will go where the spirit tells me to go!” She flicked out her hands, taking in a deep breath with her eyes closed. She then exhaled loudly. Inhaled loudly. Exhaled loudly. Then, like she was trying to waft incense closer, she waved a hand up to her face. “I’m sensing a disturbance. A tension, a sort of-”

Sapphire’s face could be described as → unimpressed. Strangely enough, that’s exactly how I felt as well.

“Some dramatic pain, maybe a death, a -”

Sapphire heaved a sigh.

“Lo-ots of pain, a history that is long and-”

“It’s an old building, yes,” said Sapphire icily.

The woman inhaled loudly again. “I am seeing a young woman, maybe lovers,”

I looked around. Amethyst was watching with rapturous attention. Crystal was starry-eyed. Aurora was perplexed.

“I sense-” another big inhale that could have sucked in a bee. Then her eyes popped open and she zeroed in on something past us. “That pond!”

“It’s a pond, yes,” said Sapphire softly.

The woman rushed forward, circling around us and making a beeline for the pond. Sapphire drew a sharp breath and followed, clearly irritated. We all followed, a little herd that was fascinated with these ongoings.

The woman drew to a standstill beside the pond. “Right here!” again, more hand waving and inhaling with eyes closed. “Someone was murdered!”

“How interesting,” said Sapphire dryly, but we barely heard it.

“Oh my!” declared Amethyst, waving her arms as she reached between Sapphire and the madame. “Could that be the bad vibes?”

“Quite sure it was the decades of children being tortured here that did it,” said Sapphire in a dark snap. Then, too late, you could see it in her face that she realized what she’d said.

The madame gawked. “What happened here?”

“I didn’t tell her!” stage whispered Amethyst with bulging eyes.

Sapphire smiled and shrugged, folding her arms behind her back. “A residential school is all.”

“What’s that?” asked the madame, suddenly losing her accent and waving demeanor.

“A native school,” said Amethyst.

“That’s not what a residential school was,” snapped Sapphire. “It was run by nuns, and the children were prisoners.” then, to the madame, she said “Look it up later. It’s not important now. Now we just need you to feel.

That placated the woman somewhat. With a nod, she did the whole inhaling thing again. This time, she exhaled loudly through her mouth. Her eyes popped open. “Where did the ritual take place? The one you spoke to me about?” she said to Amethyst.

“Oh! This way!” and Amethyst began rushing away, the madame in tow. With their backs to her, Sapphire paused as if wondering if she really wanted to follow. Then, determined, she did.

Once we had reached the other side of the building where the firepit was, the madame gasped. “I feel so much aggression! Anger! Fire!”

“Well, we are by the fire pit,” said Sapphire tartly.

“Oh yes but, ahhh,” another inhale and hand waving. “This is-” a quick exhale then another inhale. “I sense a fiery spirit. Maybe a dragon.”

“One of the statues that burned was a dragon statue!” squeaked Amethyst.

“Mmmm,” said the madame most wisely. Now she swam her hands around above the fire pit, closing her eyes as if it took all her focus. Another inhale.

Mentally, I made a note that if any of my students wanted to breathe like that, they were getting detention. No matter their excuses or ‘feelings’.

As if reading my mind, the madame said “I feel,” another giant inhale. She wafted air up to herself – then sneezed. “Oh, you can still smell the plastic,” she said, grossed out and now waving the air in the other direction.

I wanted to smack my forehead with a palm. This was just too much.

“How about that banishing ritual?” Sapphire asks pointedly, crossing her arms over her chest. “We,” she checked her phone “don’t have that much time.”

“Oh, my dear, you can’t rush the spirit,” the woman gushed, still waving her arms as if swishing them in water.

“I’m only paying you for an hour,” said Sapphire tartly.

“It does not matter, I don’t do it for the money,” said the madame, closing her eyes again.

Sapphire looked quite angry at this, and I sympathized. How else would she get this person to leave?

“But, I can sense your impatience,” the madame said. Lowering her arms, she drew herself up and sniffed one final time. “We shall begin the ritual.”

Oh good goddess! I breathed a sigh of relief. But then I paused, realizing that it was this woman who was leading a ritual… did I really want to see that?

Yes, yes I did, said that part of me who loved binge-watching dramas. I really did.

We trailed along after the madame as she marched past to her car. “I didn’t know what would be required, so I brought whatever the spirit moved me for,” she declared as she approached her beat-up car.

Then, like an old school peddler from some poor village, she began drawing out stuff. And stuff. And stuff.

There was > a shaman’s drum, three different bundles of white sage, a wand covered in polymer clay decorations and crystals and feathers, a hooded cloak, a handful of candles, chakra stones, rune stones, and sticks.

And that was trip one.

Then there was a cauldron full of crystals, statues of the goddess and god, more candles (this time chakra colored), cone incense, a jug of water, pink salt in a salt shaker, and a silver circlet which she quickly popped onto her own head, as if afraid someone would steal it away.

Back around the fire pit, I simply stared as she began sorting through her miniature mountain of stuff. Then she turned around and faced us. “Alright!” she called out. “I’m going to need twelve volunteers! We need to be thirteen!”

Oh, good goddess. Now I was torn. I wanted in, but I also wanted to not be involved. I wanted the knowledge, but not to be stained by this ink. Crap.

Sapphire, for her part, was obviously not curious. She had backed away a good three steps from the madame. Amethyst was waving a hand ecstatically. By my side, Crystal was humming and nodding, slowly stretching an arm up.

I decided to hold back. You know what? I could be curious but I didn’t want to be injured. I could watch from outside and get a view, and that should be enough for me. That should be enough for me.

Except, dummy me, I hadn’t realized that we were already thirteen, including Sapphire. So if Sapphire backed out, everyone else had to go in.

“Come, come!” called out the madame. “We need to be thirteen!”

And I, the only one who had stood back (besides Sapphire, who was now almost a dozen feet away somehow) grudgingly walked over to the circle.

OMG! Another Story Idea?!

I bet you that I’ve already made a post with almost exactly that same title before. I betcha that I’ll keep having posts with this title for a long time (and I hope I will).

For Lo and Be-Hold! I had a dream last night (don’t we all know where this is going…) and I woke up thinking (as usual) ‘damn! That’d make a cool story!’.

Now, what’s different about this one is that 1) it actually had a beginning laid out for me and 2) it wrote up super easy.

Hold up! Does that mean I finished a short story? No such luck, haha!

What I mean is that I wrote up the beginning of it. Oh, say, almost two pages of writing. It wrote up SUPER easy, y’all. Suspiciously so. I’m sort of giving this story the sideways eye, y’all. It’s interesting (to me) and it seems like it could be fun/captivating.

Now here’s the problem, and where I need your help! You see, this story is unusually dark for me. There are many things about it that I am unsure of, so I’d really, really, really appreciate some feedback on it. I’m both interested in writing it up to see where it goes, but also unsure if I do want to sink so much time into a new story and venture (don’t I already have enough to write?!).

So read if Here! Let me know what you think and I’ll… give you a cookie? Haha, thanks so much!