Baba Yaga’s Apprentice

Baba Yaga’s Apprentice:
A Faerie Tale Ritual

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If ever we needed ways to stay focused and whole, and experience some gentleness, this is the time.

Baba Yaga’s Apprentice is my gentle enchantment that creates focus and wholeness. I believe this magic is all the more powerful and effective for its gentleness.

This storybook is for grown-ups . . . but the sort of adults who remain, or want to remain, childlike at heart.

This book’s format: PDF.
List price: $25
Price: $19.99

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The tale is my revisioning of Baba Yaga folklore.

As the book’s story proceeds, a ritual simultaneously unfolds for the reader.

Here’s one of the illustrations:SampleILLstrtn

Baba Yaga’s Apprentice is fun, easy reading.

Along with being a Faerie tale and a gentle ritual, this book is also a work of art for you. Trying to evoke the embellishments in old Faerie tale books and add a layer of enchantment to the magical foundation I’d spun with the text, I ornamented every page with my original full color art. Most of the art is my spin on Poland’s folk art.

I have felt immense mojo on the project; I wanted this spell to happen so much.

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From the preface:

“The spell is very easy to do. You don’t even have to “do” it. The sheer reading of the Faerie tale to oneself, just for fun, even silently, and enjoying my paintings, is all it takes for the spell to work.”

“The storybook’s magical current helps you:
* Focus on what’s important to you.
* Follow through on it.
* Stay centered in your power and your love.
* Protect your dear heart from being hurt or blocked.
* Feed your witchy soul.

“The ritual also supports you if you are introverted, empathic, exceptionally magical, or sensitive psychically.

“And when you are fearful or nervous, this is a good tale for you.”

The book is 7000 words and 46 pages.

Here’s another sample, a text frame I painted:
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This volume was created with my sincerest hope that the gentle love and hope with which the Muse infused the pages will sustain and empower you … over and over.

Available only from the author.

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My Wonderful Students

My long-term shamanic students are the best people. It’s such a gift to have them as my fellow seekers.

I celebrate them today by introducing you to three of them and the remarkable work they do in their respective fields.

sarah_photoSarah Josey—see above photo—is a Clinical Herbalist, Nutritionist, and Sacred Living instructor. She says she’s “passionate about helping people achieve health through natural means and supporting people on their life path towards overall wellness and happiness.”

Sarah started studying with me before entering her profession. I had the joy of watching this dynamic, young woman grow into her career. I try to empower my students, but it is up to them to take the ball and run with it. Sarah has definitely done that.

She owns an herbal apothecary in Fort Collins, CO, and also spends part of her year in Fairbanks, AK. Check out her work at SarahJosey.com.

I spend as much time as possible in trance because I love it, but I also believe my shamanic classes should create concrete results, improving all aspects of someone’s life. So it’s always a joy to work with someone who’s multifaceted. Kathy Crabbe, who is wrapping up a two-year shamanic training with me, is an artist, illustrator, writer, and soul reader, and lives in Southern California in an adobe style home she and her husband built.

Here’s Kathy:
kathy-crabbe-bio-pickAlong with her impressive list of talents is Kathy’s commitment to using her gifts in service to community.

Kathy blogs at kathycrabbe.com/blog

A spirit portrait I painted of Rommy Driks gives a sense of this writer who has studied with me for eight years:
starfirestargazermergedRommy says of her blog, “I create strange brews of urban myth and faerie tales, while grooving to good music and sipping better tea. Stop by and enjoy a cuppa and a story.”

That’s a modest self-description, considering her writing is truly original, exquisitely crafted, and conveys important ideas. I thoroughly relish her “strange brews.”

Check out Rommy’s work at http://kestrilsrhythmsandgroove.blogspot.com/

I am blessed to be surrounded by exceptional people.

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Goddess Womb Dreamcatcher

GdsWmbDC1S The only lore I’ve read about dreamcatchers is specific to dreams and nightmares. I sensed a deeper layer about visions—and an even deeper layer about the Goddess. To convey everything I channeled, I crafted a poem and a sculpture. I call them both “Goddess Womb Dreamcatcher.”

The poem and sculpture also convey my thanksgiving to Goddess.

To make the sculpture, I felted wool into organic shapes like leaves, vines, flowers, and a feather. I attached the shapes to a V-shaped stick, so the Dreamcatcher would be reminiscent of a woman’s reproductive system.

The poem is below, but first a detail of the Dreamcatcher: the wool sculpted feather.

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Shout out to the folks at Living Felt, where I purchase my wool: they sell quality felting supplies, created without cruelty to sheep, and provide exceptional customer service.

OK, this is the poem, (prayer, affirmation, contemplation, story, brilliant insights, brilliant application of said insights, visualization, ritual, etc.,):

Goddess Womb Dreamcatcher

All visions spring from the Goddess’ belly.
They travel down
until they meet a feather,
then tumble from between Her legs,
onto my mind.

I give thanks.

My mind is a womb upside down, though my mind is right side up.
My womb is a mind upside down, though my womb is right side up.
I am whole if I live in paradox.

I give thanks.

All life is woven within Her womb.
She’s the spinner who spun Herself into being.
I offer the life and art I weave to Her.

I give thanks.

NesltrSqTShe is the dreamer and the dream.
There is no Dreamcatcher but Her.
I send Her my dreams as an offering.

I give thanks.

The Goddess protects me—
captures both nightmares and sweet dreams,
taking them into Herself,
then birthing only the beauty
into my waking day.

I give thanks.

Yes, She’s Nightmare as well
—cackling menace in my powerless hours,
which are both sleeping and waking.
Even in those times, She holds all creation
—including the whole of me—
as the weaving of life that’s safe in Her womb.

I give thanks.

She bestows on me Her complete Self:
all creation and all beyond creation.
My ideal: give Her no less of myself,
offer my entirety
to Her and Her dreams.

I give thanks.

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DNA and Ancestral Ritual

DNA Science and magic meet. I won’t choose between mysticism and science. They can feed each other.

My ancestors are spiritually important to me. So I’m combining science and spirit in a deeply personal way: I ordered an AncestryDNA test kit.

A mystic, I travel through the blood in my veins, back through time, to discover the ancient ways my family once practiced. Today, the logical rational side of me does the same by spitting into a vial. This test tube becomes a chalice that arrived by mail, enclosed in plastic. Two supposedly disparate halves of me come together to feed my spirit.

I mailed my saliva, part of my sacred body, to scientists, who will analyze it to reveal my ethnic background. They’ll go back through many generations, the same way my meditations have. Their work will expand my otherworldly travels.

The lab analysis will determine where my ancestors hail from, based on a science my layperson’s mind can’t understand, no matter how much experts explain it.

Many scientists would be equally puzzled by my ability to uncover historical information by meditating on my blood. I have my expertise, they have theirs. I get to draw on both.

A relationship with my ancestors, in ritual and daily life, is pivotal to me. They lovingly support me. And I tend them. Trance journeys give me a strong intuitive sense of my ancestors. The DNA results can help me know whether my intuitions are correct.

It would be fine to trust my intuition without the DNA results. (Check out my blog about that: Mysticism and Non-Academic Scholarship.) But corroboration is useful.

Science can support my spirituality in other ways, too.

For one, I come from a European shamanic family tradition. Some of my family history has been lost. I’m hoping DNA will fill in gaps.

For example, I might see how major societal events impacted my family’s past generations to shape the family’s spirituality. That familial story could provide context to better understand my own path.

Luck allowed me to gather a staggering amount of anecdotal evidence about my ancestors. Information from relatives, and from strangers I don’t know but who have my last name, and from other sources, provided enormously convincing material, when looked at as a whole. I believe anecdotal evidence is part of folk culture and one source of the old wise ways. This fecund anecdotal evidence can be augmented with DNA science.

For example, the DNA test might help me gather more anecdotal evidence, if it leads to relatives I hadn’t learned about previously. They might know family history I don’t.

DNA results could also be a jumping off point for more ancestral rituals. I love the wisdom of ancient cultures, and appreciate reenactment whether based in textbooks’ history or intuited history. I revere native and ancestral spiritual practices. These leanings feed my desire for DNA info about my ancestral roots.

I can best explain another reason for wanting a test by telling you a personal story.

A friend of mine was part of a DNA study. Before continuing the story, let me be clear: I’m not part of any study. My test kit is from AncestryDNA. They’re not experimenting on me, and their tests results do not show an ancestral timeline such as you’ll read about in my friend’s tale. I checked out some companies, and AncestryDNA seems to give the most comprehensive results. If you’re interested, their kit is also easy to use.

Back to my story:

My friend phoned me one day, and exclaimed rapturously, “I got the DNA results. My family originated in Egypt!”

Then she added, “My later ancestors migrated to Greece. Guess where else my ancestors migrated to?”

I responded, “Mongolia?”

There was a long pause. Then she said, in a stunned voice, “That’s right! How did you know?”

“It was obvious. Your immense love for Egyptian religions motivated you to become an Egyptian scholar, devoted to reviving ancient Egyptian spiritual practices, which became part of your personal devotions. Later, you seriously worked with Greek Gods. Then, you channeled material that had no geographical basis, as far you knew, but later found out that the material resonated with documented Mongolian traditions.”

I continued, “Your family only told you about your Caucasian Irish lineage. But your earlier ancestors influenced your mystical life. Your spiritual quest this lifetime follows the migration of your ancestors, step by step!”

The point of my story: I want to know if my DNA matches my various spiritual leanings.

There can be valid reasons we’re drawn spiritually to cultures we were not raised in. Our DNA might be one of those reasons. I don’t hold with the idea that you should only use the spiritual tools of your obvious ancestors.

Mind you, I am not okaying co-option. I’m saying legitimate cross cultural shamanism exists.

That legitimacy is hard to come by. It would take a whole book to explain how to pull it off ethically and otherwise, so I won’t get into it here, except to say:

By “cross-cultural shamanism,” I don’t mean “core shamanism,” AKA the idea that shamanism is primarily the same in all cultures. I disagree with the modern standardization of shamanism.

My experience is that shamans individualize according to cultural differences, and way past that, individualizing family by family and person by person.

My personal definition of legitimate cross-cultural shamanism is an ethical, thoughtful blend of earth based mysticism as it manifests in various cultures.

Moving on:

I am a little worried. With adventure, comes fear of the unknown: am I going to like the DNA test results?

But mostly I’m excited about the DNA adventure I am embarking on.

And I feel gratitude for science and magic.

When the DNA results arrive, I’ll post them here, and share how it impacts my mystical journey.
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Note: I first posted this blog May 2015 at http://witchesandpagans.com/sagewoman-blogs/a-faerie-haven.html and post it again here for those of you who tend to read me here.
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Ostara Art Eggs

PaintedEgg1Ostara Art Eggs
My Spring Equinox Altar

What is going to be on your Ostara altar? Sharing our altar journeys with each other unites our spirits—it is a way we can celebrate Sabbats together long-distance.

In my case, preparing an Ostara altar this year involved art work.

Let’s start with the Ostara pendant I made, to the right. … Um, okay, it is jewelry, not an altar piece. … But I myself can be an Ostara altar!

I love ornamented eggs, but didn’t think I’d have time to make Ostara eggs this year.

imageThen, I couldn’t resist when I found tiny egg-shaped unfinished wood beads. I’d been looking for them forever. These are 7/8.” See photo to the right.

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They are tiny—I love tiny.

I painted one green and the other purple.

Then I ornamented them with various Jones Tones foils.

Next, I coated them with a protective clear finish.

I made each into a pendant by putting it on a jewelry pin, along with other with beautiful little beads. Joking aside about being an altar, I adorn myself in praise of my Gods.

PaitendEgg1AI think some of the wee beads are Swarovski crystals but am not sure because I upcycle a lot, so do not always know what I am using.

Whatever they are, they sparkle, and this faerie loves sparkly things.

Below is another piece that will be on my altar:

Ostara Egg Cosmic Egg—Abundance and Chaos Meditation. If you would like this on your altar, click on it to go to my shop.

Ostara Egg Cosmic Egg—Abundance and Chaos Meditation. If you would like this on your altar, click on it to go to my shop.

When I thought to myself that I’d have no time to decorate eggs, I’d forgotten that I’d already painted the above Celtic knot work talisman, probably in January. Do you ever get so caught up in creating that you forget what you have created? Let me know, please. I made this during a painting binge. Later I channeled material about it, which you can read at http://etsy.me/1pyFsvf

Traditional lore tells us that the cosmic egg explodes into chaos at spring equinox, creating the cosmos.

More knotwork: I painted this Birthing Goddess in 2013, probably during the winter. So this is the first spring equinox I can have Her on my altar.

If you would like this Goddess image on your altar, click on it to go to my shop. There, you will also find an essay I wrote, because painting Her brought up a lot for me.

If you would like this Goddess image on your altar, click on it to go to my shop. There, you will also find an essay I wrote, because painting Her brought up a lot for me.

She has the cosmic egg in Her belly. BirthingGoddessDetailWOB

My altar will also hold other pieces of my art, plus ritual objects I’ve acquired over the years—including other people’s art, such as a beautifully crafted wand, and a well-made blade. Art takes many forms.

I only speak for myself when I say that placing my and other people’s art on an altar feeds my pagan heart and imbues my Sabbats celebrations with power.

What is going to be on your altar? Is there a story about creating or acquiring those pieces? Sharing our altar plans and altar stories can be an actual joint celebration of the rituals done at our respective altars.

Hiding, Healing, Power. Pt 2

If you missed part one, here it is: http://stardrenched.com/2012/06/13/hiding-healing-power/

Faerie art, Francesca De Grandis

Hiding - Fey Strega in Training

Hiding, Healing, Power. Part two
Written and painted in March and/or early April, 2012.

This little Italian girl is another example of someone hiding. Why do you think she is hiding?

Dear site visitor, I want you to see the Faerie tale illustrations at their best. When WordPress shrinks a pic to fit the page, it blurs. Please click on a painting to see it unblurred; it makes a real difference.

Everyone who hides has a story. What is yours? It is okay if you hide some of it.

Here is part of hers (she wants to hide the rest): When she first hid, she had a pretty place in her mind. She started building it. First, she made the window frame you see her peeking out of.

She lived behind it with her Faerie cat. She giggled there a lot. The cat dozed in brilliant shafts of sun light that came through the window. As she slept, she dreamt up schemes for the little girl. They had many adventures, and no one saw. Except other Faeries. So many giggles!

It took a long time, a lot of work, and a lot of hiding to build more. (Sometimes you hide to find quiet magic, so that you can even imagine secret places in your mind.)

For years, all she had was that window frame to hide behind. But it kept her safe. I mean, look at all the detail she put into it!

Little Bunny in a Tea Cup. Available as a limited first edition print. For more info, click on the picture

And by the time she had grown up, her home was finished.

Faerie art, Francesca De Grandis

Want to know what adventures she had as a grown up? I’ll post part 3 in two weeks here. I blog once a week, and am alternating between this blog and the blog at my other site. Two blogs with two separate RRS feeds.

Please use the nifty Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ buttons, right below, to share my Faerie tale. Thank you for your support, it’s the only way many folks will know about my new story and refurbished site (the site you are on has been updated lately with a new look and all sorts of other new stuff).  I cannot do it without you! If you do not see the buttons, you’re viewing this blog entry on my site’s home page. Just click this http://stardrenched.com/2012/06/27/hiding-healing-power-pt-2/

Hiding, Healing, Power

Faerie art, Francesca De GrandisHiding, Healing, Power
Written and painted in March and/or early April, 2012.

I call the following piece a Faerie tale. That is accurate but not by most standards. The piece is part my thoughts, part my paintings, part my methods for empowerment (perhaps in less overt forms, such as asking you a question), mixed with little magical stories told through word and visuals. By my definition of shamanism, that is a faerie tale: The sum total helps you live in myth—live in myth generally speaking, and in the particular myths I’m creating here, and in your own unique myths that this piece can help you find and/or better dwell in.

I painted the illustrations brush stroke by stroke—digitally. I just paint on a computer screen instead of a canvas. And with that:

Hiding Fey Warrior In Training. Click on the painting to see it large and without blurring that occurs when WordPress shrinks a pic to fit the page.

Part One

This is a Faerie tale about healing and power. And about hiding. This story is for grown ups.

Sometimes we need to hide. There are many reasons. We might have to hide because we hurt. We find a safe, secret place to heal, or at least to be away from whatever might hurt us.

Do you ever hide? Do you need to tell someone why? Or is it better that no one knows you are hiding?

Sometimes we hide because it is fun.

Sometimes we hide to be alone with our thoughts.

Or with our “imaginary” friends.

Hiding, Faerie Healer in Training. Available as a limited first edition print. For more info, click on the picture.

When children have to repeatedly hide to protect themselves, it can injure their spirit in ways that haunt them into adulthood. But they’re doing the best they know how to keep themselves safe, and that is an act of power.
 
Hiding can also be an act of power when motivated instead by happy events and sweet wishes. We don’t always stay out of sight because of fear and pain; for example, you might simply tuck yourself away in a special place for a while, in order to flourish undisturbed. 

Some people hide to gain powers that only come where no one—without those powers—can see them. They work hard and often joyfully, secretly doing what the Cosmos asks of them. That is what this little Fey fellow is doing—he is a Faerie healer in training.

And perhaps he is also making himself safe from trouble; if you ask him sincerely, he might tell you. Or maybe he’ll just keep peeking out at you from his hiding place.

I’ll post part 2 in two weeks, here. I blog once a week, and am going to try alternating between this and the blog at my other site. Two blogs with two separate RRS feeds.

Please share the URL to my above story; here it is to copy and paste for Facebook or an email or whatever: http://stardrenched.com/2012/06/13/hiding-healing-power/    I want folks to know about my new Faerie tale and my refurbished site (the site you are on has been updated lately with a new look and all sorts of other new stuff). Thank you for your support. I cannot do without it, truly! Oh, wait…I am so 20th century! Unless you’re viewing this blog entry on my site’s home page, you can like my Faerie tale with the nifty Facebook button, right below, next to the Twitter button and the like. Duh!

Ta Da!

Announcing the renewal and relaunch, the cosmic—and cosmically comic—revitalization of this here ol’ website. Come one, come all, join the Chaos Circus. To explore the wonders, the fantastic, the massive changes I made to this site, use the newly-added, new-fangled nav bar above. Yup, we got modern conveniences to go along with the ancient mysteries you will find here.

Stardusted Traveler, come get your weary soul shined. Have your spirit refreshed by its own beauty, then shanghaied by its own magic.

Have your peculiar ways oohed and awed at—everyone here, including you, is the main attraction.

Sit in the front row to get a good view. I’ll sit with you. Or get in the circus ring: introduce yourself in the comment field.

Allow me to introduce myself. I am the authentic, the original, the amazing and death-defying Francesca De Grandis. That translates Great Freedom, your purveyor of shamanic wonders and mystical madness. Curator of curiosities, middle management for the Chaos Gods, seer, guide, and utter fool.

I make up fancy phrases to describe myself, like bardic brat. They’re true as tar.

My mother was a fortuneteller, my father hit the road when he was 12, hard traveling. His mother was a “showgirl.” After the war, dad went down south and got into trouble. We don’t know what it was, but the story is “he hung out with hillbillies.” I do remember he loved folk music. This is all truth, it’s family history, told the first time on the web right now. I am an old woman, too old to hide those tales anymore.

That’s a bit of my tale, a bit of my myth—real and honest. Be your myth here. Dragons, Faeries, poets, and other inhabitants of the fantastic, please walk your myths alongside mine, I long for company on the spiritual path.

Tell me a bit of your story in the comment field. I welcome and invite you, praise you and incite you—Join the cosmic circus!

 On a more serious note, Terry Pratchett wrote “Things that try to look like things often do look more like things than things.” Ok, quoting Terry is hardly a way to convince most people that I even can be serious. But
I take my work as a shamanic guide and healer seriously, and I am good at it. And I have
fun. Walking an ecstatic path frees you from restrictive either/or rules. And building a convincing persona as Oh-Great-Shaman wouldn’t leave time to serve community. Can I hear a “So mote it be?”
Middle Management for Chaos Gods, Francesca De Grandis

Middle Management for Chaos Gods. Self-Portrait

Magic can be quiet, subtle. I am blessed that, amidst my loud joy and silliness, some people “see” me—just another flawed human whom, for some reason, the Divine uses as a shaman.

I’ll be blogging here, while I continue to blog at my other site . Two blogs with two separate RRS feeds.

As we prepped the relaunch, I started blogging here—just four blogs sharing my personal process renewing the site, and what we revamped. I hope you read them. And this blog has info that will help you find your way around.

Whether you travel with me only on the web, or move into oral tradition with me, whether you post here or I never know you visit, I’m grateful for your wild wyrd ways. Thank you so much for coming!

Please explore the site. I’d love it if you posted feedback. You will be dazzled by dancing Deities, heartfelt happenings, genuine living breathing paradox, and more.