Friday, July 6, 2012

My bag of tricks

It has been a while coming, but I have finally made the decision to pull together a new bag of tricks. No, that's not another way of saying I'm changing religion or anything like that. Long ago, I had a little bag that I carried with me, that had bones and stones and coins and feathers and... stuff. It contained things that I had gathered that had energy that meant something to me.

I would toss those items out of the bag onto the carpet or a cloth, and read them like people read tarot cards. I wasn't horribly good at it, but it worked better for reading me than trying to do a tarot reading for myself. I would just poke through the items, figure out which ones fell close to others, and in what combinations. Which were closer to me and which farther away?  It was very random and I had no training or explanation on how to do this. I just did it.

It's been over 20 years since I last had a bag of tricks. I have decided that it's time to do it again. I have some pieces already: a little owl bead that sis gave me, some downy owl feathers, stones brought to me by a classmate from the Aswan Dam in Egypt.

There are other symbols, non-pagan symbols, that will be in my bag of tricks now. I would like to include a tiny hamsa from the Jewish beliefs, and a cross from Christianity. Perhaps a Ganesha charm should be there as well, and perhaps an Ohm. I can think of many symbols that I could include, though of course it will depend on what I find as I go about creating the bag of tricks.

Of course, things come and go from the bag, too, or at least they used to years ago. Small pieces were mislaid or lost, or perhaps just migrated to other people as the need arose. I would be somewhere and an item would just jump out at me, demanding to be picked up or purchased.

The bag itself is a mystery just now. I like this style a lot, the solid color velvet. It sits nicely in the hand and is gentle on its contents. However, the owl is one of my personal symbols, as well as a strong symbol of wisdom. I saw this little guy and was enamored with him, but I really dislike zippers on ritual or spiritual items. Then I found Liminal Thread's owl bag, which is ostensibly for Athene but history and mythology buffs know that Hecate (my matron) and Athene are often conflated or even believed to be one and the same. So who knows. I may just end up with a silk bag made of a scrap from the cupboard. Time will tell.

What things will be in my bag in this iteration? Who knows. I look forward to finding out!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Reading ability

I have a Kindle reader on my Android phone, and I rather like it. I like to read in bed with the lights off, knowing that if I do fall asleep, my phone will save my page for me and I can always resume it later. I like that it's with me when I get stuck in line at the grocery store, or am in the back of a vehicle when other people are busy talking or driving. It's just handy.

Now, the Kindle sure doesn't replace real books. I still love my old hardcovers, my antiques, my old stand-bys that have been with me since I was a teen. I relish the scent of my old, leather bound edition of Shakespeare's works, the feel of the tooled lettering under my hands. The Civil War era Bible given to me by friends has a silkiness to the paper pages that is undeniably sexy.

In the process of loading up my Kindle with a variety of books, I've been poring through the free classics available. I've read Tarzan, Little Women and Tales of a Woman Homesteader. I have many more sitting waiting to be read. Because the older books are free, I find I have rather a lot of them.

When I read the older books, I am always struck by the language in them. I share a quote from "The Quest of the Simple Life" by W. J. Dawson. It was written in 1907 for a 'normal' audience.

"This is a somewhat sonorous preface to the small matter of my story; but I am anxious to elaborate it a little, lest it should be imagined that I am merely a person of bucolic mind, to whom all cities or large congregations of my fellow-men are in themselves abhorrent. On the contrary I have an inherent love of all cities which are something more than mere centers of manufacturing industry. The truly admirable city secures interest, and even passionate love, not because it is a congeries of thriving factories, but rather by the dignity of its position, the splendour of its architecture, the variety and volume of its life, tne imperial, literary, and the artistic interests of which it is the centre, and the prolongation of its history through tumultuous periods of time, which fade into the suggestive shadows of antiquity."

He's talking about London in his own age. I find myself wondering, how many of today's young readers would even bother trying to sort through the above writing style? How many have a clue as to what 'bucolic' means, or 'congeries'? Can  you think of anyone under age 45 (other than me, perhaps) who uses the term 'tumultuous'?

The English language has thousands of adequate words for describing things. The average 16 year old American masters a mere 10,000-50,000 words, and a college graduate between 38,000 and 60,000 words (citation). A dictionary lists about 100,000 words on average. The UK Scrabble champion, ". . . says he can recognise around 100,000 of the 160,000 words of nine letters or under included on the Scrabble list." (citation)

Americans seem to write in easily digestible chunks. Applications like phone texting and Twitter bring about negative changes to the vocabulary of the country. I truly question if we're going to move so far backward that we regress and return to grunting and pointing. Having watched several teens over the weekend, "communicating" with one another at the park, it's not as funny as it might seem.