Eggs, ink, and candy

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I was so hoping I’d have more time this week to use the Key to the Kingdom transformation cards. But then I also wanted to partly catch up with the Pagan Blog Project (see the previous three posts), and then there was my full-time job, and in the end it just didn’t happen. I didn’t even do a single exchange this week!

So, today is my last day with the deck and I wanted to do at least a final reading. I already know it’s a definite keeper for me, and I’m really glad I bought it.

Since my ancestors were on my mind a lot this week, I decided to finally do an ancestor spread. It’s a modified compilation of two other ancestor spreads: this one from the 4 of Wands blog, and this one from Flaxen at AT (which unfortunately isn’t accessible by non-members). I’m not addressing any specific ancestor because I’ve had the impression that there are quite a few that have started to stir now that I pay a little attention to them but none of them is sticking out particularly.

1. How can I best honor my ancestors at this point?Seven of Clubs

A light blue egg with black club-shaped dots has cracked open to reveal two thin gray legs (on which it is standing now) and a long yellow beak. The bird that is about to hatch is turned to the left, which is the past to me.

To me, this suggests that by simply “breaking through” the barrier of unawareness about my ancestors I have already taken the first step. Just paying attention to where I came from is a good start for now. Baby steps are fine since I’m only just starting out on this path. The blue color reminds me of the Sky, which also tells me that simply opening up to my ancestors is a good thing to do.

As I went through a field of wheat,
I picked up something good to eat;
It had neither flesh nor bone,
But in twenty days it walked alone.

~ unknown author

Maybe it’s selective perception on my part but food has come up in relation to ancestors quite a bit for me during the last few weeks. I’ve seen countless pictures of altars where people regularly offer food to their ancestors/beloved dead, and I’ve also read several articles about cooking food someone’s ancestors would have eaten as a way to honor them. For some reason they stood out to me more than other things that were equally present in these photos and texts.

At any rate, it got me thinking. You see, I’m really not much of a cook. I have terrible performance anxiety about my cooking and feel like the biggest loser at preparing food, both of which I suspect are in no relation to my actual skills. In fact, I can quite adequately feed myself, I can cook and bake from scratch at least a few simple dishes, I’m pretty good at improvised cooking with whatever is there after all the shops closed already, and I can also change basic recipes to replace missing ingredients or to use up something that needs to be consumed before it goes off. I also have basic knowledge about what makes a healthy diet and what kinds of nutrients are in what kinds of food. Still, I don’t enjoy cooking, and I don’t feel at home in the kitchen the way my mother does or some of my friends do. At the same time, I much admire people who enjoy cooking, I wish I was a better cook, and I really, really like to eat, especially in pleasant company. To sum it up: cooking brings up all kinds of baggage for me, about most of which I don’t even know what it’s about or why it’s even there. So, yeah, I guess cooking for my ancestors would indeed be a HUGE offering and even sacrifice on my part.

And then comes the big question of how and where to offer any food and what to do with it afterwards. I wouldn’t want to leave out food in my bedroom (where my altar is) for fear of attracting animals I don’t want in the house. I also wouldn’t want to regularly put out cooked food on the tiny terrace we have for fear of attracting rats. I know some people just put out food for the duration of a ritual, letting the spirits feed on its essence, and then share it among the human participants. But would that really feel like a proper offering to me? Others put any offered food out for the local wildlife, and I guess that works fine if you either have a bigger garden/backyard or live in a non-urban area. But I’m just not comfortable about taking food out regularly under the prying eyes of my neighbors in this apartment building. Nor does the local park feel like the right spot to put any cooked food. The third option is throwing the food away, but that feels even worse than eating it myself because I really dislike throwing away good food – and I also assume it’s not the most respectful way to treat an offering (composting would be different but our garbage goes to the incineration plant – which could be thought of as offering by burning, but the actual burning is a bit too far removed from me for that idea to convince me).

At any rate, I think I should explore this area some more and find a way in which food works as a way to honor my ancestors for me. Maybe I could cook regional foods or dishes I knew my Dad or Gran liked and then make a nice meal out of them for myself (and my Beloved if he was so inclined to join me) and eat it in their honor, possibly while telling stories about them. That would avoid quite a few of my conflicts about the disposal of (uneaten) offerings and it would make me learn some more family recipes (which I would like to be able to cook myself anyway). I could even invite a few friends for such a meal and ask everyone to bring a dish that was in some way connected to their ancestors (however they define them) so we could all feast and share stories. I’m actually liking that idea a lot right now!

Oh, and it could all be vegetarian, too, as the little rhyme above suggests. That would also suit (nearly) all of my friends.

2. What ancestral talent can I draw on more than I currently do?Nine of Clubs

A pot of black ink has spilled. Its label shows a cat and the word “black,” and there are club-shaped prints on the table/floor that look like a cat’s paw prints.

I’m immediately thinking of writing here. It seems that at least some of my ancestors were avid letter and diary writers. My maternal grandfather also wrote a bunch of poems. I could easily follow their footprints here and do more of my own writing. I’m also thinking of drawing ink and my terribly neglected drawing and painting skills which I very clearly inherited from my father. And now I even have his art supplies on top of that, as a material heritage. I miss drawing and painting anyway, so that’s a great nudge into the right direction.

O cat in semblance, but in heart akin
To canine raveners, whose ways are sin,
Still at my hearth a guest thou dar’st to be?
Unwhipt of Justice, hast no dread of me?
Or deem’st the sly allurements shall avail
Of purring throat and undulating tail?

~ Agathias

Oh, right. The cat as such. Well, once again this is connected to writing since “Cat” is my penname here and elsewhere on the internet. But my mother’s family did share their house with a tabby cat named “Mimmi” and I’m constantly dreaming of living with a cat again (I used to when I lived in a shared apartment where someone else had a cat, and when I first lived on my own and had my own cat – which I eventually had to give away to a friend’s roommate because I wasn’t able to find a new shared apartment where bringing her would have been possible). For several reasons, that doesn’t seem like such a great idea in the current apartment and life situation but I do hope I will be able to make room in my life for a cat again eventually.

3. What ancestral pattern do I need to let drop?Seven of Diamonds

Seven pieces of a special kind of pink-white-black liquorice are set out between four other pieces of black candy.

I like liquorice except for the kind pictured here that comes pressed between layers of some sweet and spongy stuff. I’m actually not quite sure what this image is supposed to tell me since I’m not aware that liquorice has played a special role amongst my ancestors.

Maybe the poem helps?

Handy spandy, Jack-a-Dandy,
Loves plum cake and sugar candy;
He bought some at a grocer’s shop,
And out he came, hop, hop, hop, hop.

~ unknown author

Hmmm. Not really. I’m not eating all too many sweets anyway, and I’m not aware they were an issue for any of my ancestors.

I think I’ll leave it at that for today. Maybe the last card will become clearer later on. Or maybe one of you has an idea?

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6 responses »

  1. 7 of clubs = the false prophet
    liquorice candy is layered, sweet, not sweet

    Handy spandy, Jack-a-Dandy,
    Loves plum cake and sugar candy;

    This all made me think of “Süßholz raspeln”
    sweet words between layers of dark feelings

    the pipes are smoking >>> smoldering

    Has there been toe need / habit of false niceties in order to “hop, hop, hop, hop.” over contentious issues??

    Just thinking…..
    M.

  2. Also:
    7 of clubs = personal effort is rewarded by success, in spite of resistance a fuller picture will emerge soon, Blue (to me) is truth…..
    9 of clubs is being settled and secure, having time to spend for leisure and hobbies as in manifesting what you worked for – Cat* writing about her ancestors will bring them into the here and now :)
    7 of diamonds false prophet – ( i misspoke in my previous post, but can not edit that )
    Seems to me you are somewhat torn about what you actually found out about your ancestors and , well,!!!!! Yes, some of them followed a “false prophet” and that would be VERY good for you NOT to continue = let drop. !!
    Such a message may be hidden between sweet layers and smoldering, but you know, it is not good for the Greater Good.

    Sooooo…. NOW I shut up…..

  3. Hi Cat,

    I managed to get a set of these cards for myself. :) In terms of the last card in your spread, I wonder if it has a broader application. Thinking of my own family, food had an emotional function. I see this card as all types of sweet food (cakes, biscuits) – the food we eat when we are feeling a little low. Is there a pattern of stuffing down troubling emotions with food? Sweet things are also seen a ‘treat’ so perhaps there is something linked to reward or punishment. Food for thought anyway…

  4. Mi-Shell, thank you for your comments! They are very helpful for me.

    It’s true, my family (on my mother’s side) often just avoided difficult topics – which sometimes enabled a renewed contact but also kept it somewhat superficial. I don’t do that very well, although I sometimes just forget what a conflict even was about. But the feeling of “I don’t quite trust that person” still remains, so the depth of the connection is limited (which may be well enough in many cases). Generally, I tend to be the one to bring the harsh truths and difficult topics to the table although I try to do so more gently as I get older.

    Especially when it comes to my grandfather’s idealistic belief in the Nazis, both layers are there: his “sweet” love of nature, deep romantic emotions (not limited to personal relationships), and high hopes for a better world, and the “dark” side of his inability to see/admit the harsh realities of the war and the horrors the Nazis caused and created.
    Maybe I should be grateful that by this he indirectly taught me not to believe in the “sweet surface” of any kind of worldview, be it political, spiritual, or whatever else but to always look hard for the “dark layers” beyond that surface before I commit myself to any kind of group/movement.

  5. Oh, those are very useful thoughts as well, thank you!

    I’ll have to think some more about that (perhaps as part of taking a closer look at the issue of food in my own life?), but I wouldn’t be surprised to discover just what you said. And maybe I can also take the food here as a metaphor and look at is as representing material resources of any kind (including money). Lots more to ponder – and, yes, food for thought indeed!

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