Monthly Archives: July 2008

Labyrinth Before and After

The Systeri of Reflections Mystery School got together to give our labyrinth some TLC after a year of neglect on our part.

Labyrinth after a year of neglect

Labyrinth after 4 hours of work

It’s amazing what a few people can do in 4 hours in the 100 degree sun with determination and a lot of water! The energy of the labyrinth definitely picked up as we got everything back in order.

While permanent labyrinths and sacred spaces are needed and good, my aching legs are reminding me why I prefer to draw mine in the sand or in chalk on the sidewalk.

The Criticism of Tim Gunn

Tim GunnIf I had a choice, I would have picked Tim Gunn to be my gay dad. My own gay dad was probably the opposite of Tim Gunn. Somehow I don’t imagine Tim Gunn with a paper napkin snapped into his shirt to stay safe from dripping salsa. Nor do I envision Tim Gunn with a clicker in his hand to count all the “cute boys” he saw that day.

I’ve watched Project Runway intermittently over the past couple of years. Not regularly because there is no TV show I watch “regularly” with my schedule. But I love how Tim Gunn handles the designers, especially in critiquing their in-process work, as he mentions in his Project Runway blog:

As the show’s faithful viewers will know, I don’t tell the designers what to do. Rather, I probe and query to hopefully trigger them to ask themselves whether their direction is appropriate and will lead to success.

Most of the time he gives specific advice to help them rethink their designs and direct their thought processes in more productive ways. I know, however, if he doesn’t say much of anything but “well…make it work…” that person is pretty much doomed. It is his ability to guide and advise without making the designers feel incompetent or worse that I would really have liked in a gay dad. And I love him in this interview with Chicago Tribune’s Maureen Ryan right after Season 4.

I told my husband last night that the only style make-over show I would want to be on was Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style. Somehow I think he would help me look my best without making me feel horrible for the “fashion” decisions I have made haphazardly over the years.

So, if anyone knows how I get on that show, you’ll let me know, right?

Inspirational Friends

“So….how YOU doin’?”, originally uploaded by Carly & Art.

I just feel like spreading the love around….

My BFF and her husband are artists. I’m not sure they use that word to describe themselves, but they are just overflowing with talent.

Art is miracle worker with wood and is making me two beautiful corner shelves for devotional mini-altars,, and he is a great nature photographer. He has this way of noticing all the wildlife that I never see when I’m out in the forest (which I admit is rarely these days). And his photos show the relationship that he has with nature that just wows me.

Carly embroiders like nobody’s business, and creates sacred ritual that will move you to tears and uplift your heart.

Did I mention they also make the best homemade jams, pies, ice cream, and “weird” food?

So, check out their Flickr pages at and for more photos.

Shrine for Ocean Mother

As I mentioned yesterday, I have finished my shrine for Ocean Mother, or Yemaya. Unlike other shrines I have made, I do not know who this one “belongs” to. So, I am selling it via my Etsy store, Nine Ravens Studio.

Shrine for Yemaya, Ocean Mother

If you know someone who is called to the Ocean, to Yemaya in her many names, please forward this link to them or consider purchasing the shrine as a gift. Of course, that person could also be you.


I want to share two great post on today’s interwebs.

Anne Johnson over at The Gods Are Bored writes of an event in Navel Filled With Icing that I would nominate as a premier Discordian ritual popping out of Mundania’s unconscious.
James Wells over at Evolutionary Tarot has a great post titled Tarot and the Work with a two-card spread that cuts through the BS and gets down to business.

In other news, I finished the Shrine to Yemaya this afternoon. I will be posting it to my Etsy store tomorrow and will post some pictures here, too.

The Scent of Buttered Toast

buttered toast, originally uploaded by billmarrs.

I was just walking up the stairs in my office building, and I swear I just smelled warm buttered toast. Which made me think of my mother because she always eats toast for breakfast.

Lightly crispy buttered toast is truly a comfort food for me — but one I don’t often think of, except when I am sick and trying to keep something, anything, down.

But for just a moment, in the grey office stairway, I was reminded of my childhood and my mother, with the ghost scent of toast.

The Alchemy of Cleaning the Studio


In alchemy, nigredo, or blackness, is the putrefaction or decomposition of the material. It is the first step in the process of transmutation. Carl Jung in Psychology and Alchemy interpreted nigredo as a moment of maximum despair, prerequisite to personal development.

You could say that was my experience Friday as I struggled against feelings of inertia, insignificance, blocked creativity, and rage. I wanted to pull everything out of my house into the back yard and burn it in a magnificent fire.

Studio Clean-up

Instead, I decided to clean my studio. I am not an expert on alchemy. In fact, I have read very little about it. But as I was looking at the above photo, I thought “oh, this looks like nigredo or dissolution,” which took me down this trail of thought.

The next stage is albedo, or whiteness, which is a distillation and further purification. For two days, I went through boxes and piles of paper. Some stuff went into the trash. Other things went into a box to be given away or sold. Here is a view of the effluent — those things washed away down the hall and out of my life!

Studio Clean-up 2

At this point, I decided to invest in some clear storage bins of various sizes. This allows me to organize my supplies according to material or use: paints, brushes, pens/pencils, fabric, yarn, papers, collage images, boxes, beads and ribbons, etc. Putting those supplies I decided to keep and seeing the cosmos, or order, come together in my studio was a type of citrinitas, or yellowness. In this stage of the alchemical process, silver is turned into gold — everything begins to come together and the light of the sun dawns — metaphorically speaking.

Organized Shelves DSCF0978

And then, it was done! Clean, organized, and ready for the next creative project. This final stage of rubedo, or redness, is the finding or unveiling of the perfection that always lay hidden within.


Not only is my studio and my temple ready for my future Work, I am inspired to learn more about alchemy. It is my experience that we find spiritual processes of transformation in our everyday lives — but only if we (1) know to look and (2) honor the divine within the everyday.