Honoring a hunter


Great goddess Artemis,
mistress of all wild things,
know that Peregrine is one of your own
and receive him now into your care.

Hear how this fierce hunter
has made himself ready in your honor;
of his adventures and deeds and kills
more numerous than paws can count.

Many a day Peregrine roamed his lands
first in the shadow of matchless Myrlyn
before that one vanished in the night,
and then carrying on the legacy himself.

Mole and vole and mouse,
and the flying ones, too
knew fear and death
in grasp of barn-born paws.

Stalking seas of dry food,
a delicacy taken from him years past,
Peregrine found himself ensnared
farther from home than ever before.

You smiled upon him then,
keen-eyed Artemis,
and guided him home
to live out his days.

No scuffle with another
would stay him from the outdoors,
and though weather limited his time there,
rare was the day he never passed your shrine.

Ruling his pride,
training his humans,
running down his prey,
claiming his spot in the sun:

in these Peregrine has excelled,
leader of the hunt,
and as he transitions now,
those qualities he brings to you.

May he be accorded the honor he deserves,
the snuggles he desires,
the crunchy treats and catnip
and days by the roaring fire forevermore.

We can no longer care for him in this world.
May he be welcome full-throated in the next.

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Peregrine Ward (spring 2006-May 24, 2018)

Secrets of a magical cat toy


A few days ago I put together my largest order of kitty-come-home balls to date:  13 of them, each being sent to a supporter of The Wild Hunt.  Since I was alone in a room for several hours (for reasons which will become clear), I figured it was also a good opportunity to document the process of how I create the world’s first magical cat attractor.

The core of the kitty-come-home ball:  lodestone

In case you don’t know, I came up with this design after losing one cat, and nearly losing another.  Some cats are simply not going to be happy and healthy if they are cooped up inside, try as we humans might; a minority of mine insist on going out.  The purpose of the kitty-come-home ball is to create a link with those cats and clear away any barriers to them returning home for dinner.

Thread is used to string the lodestone (magnetite) beads.

Creating a magical item that will be used by an animal is only successful if that item works in concert with the animal’s nature.  Hence the string ball:  lots of cats enjoy playing with them.  My cat Peregrine is the poster animal for this cat toy because he knows exactly what to do with it.  Every time he comes back inside, he seeks it out and bats it around for a recharge.  It’s really quite adorable; sometimes he’ll just walk over top of it and start in with his back feet before falling over and getting all four paws involved.

Lodestone beads, strung and ready for activation.

I selected lodestone as the core because it’s got attractive properties.  Magnetite, as it’s often called, can be magnetized with little effort and is a common ingredient in spells that involve drawing things toward the caster, such as money, love, or in this case, cats.

Unfortunately, the only sources of drilled lodestone beads I’ve found only have these flat ones, which can be a pain to wind initially.  However, I have found it gets easier with practice.  Thanks, Wild Hunt readers, for helping me!

Wrapping the lodestone is when the magic happens.

Wrapping string around an oblong, slippery, tiny object can be tricky; keep in mind that this is when I begin working the magic into the kitty-come-home ball and the complexity is easier to appreciate.  I have thought about using an adhesive for this stage, but only if I can find one that’s completely edible and non-toxic.  Until then, I’ll just learn to visualize while squinting.

When in doubt, just add drugs.

What separates real magic from prestidigitation isn’t a spelling variation that is impossible to detect in conversation.  No, it’s the fact that forces which are poorly understood work in concert with forces that have been studied and tested more rigorously.  In the case of the kitty-come-home ball, catnip extract gives many cats the impetus to play with it in the first place.  However, there are catnip toys in my home that are more than twenty years old, and lost their drugginess before the current crop of kitties every encountered them, yet they are still popular.  There’s more even to catnip than meets the eye.

Distraction needed.

When calculating my costs for creating the kitty-come-home ball, I didn’t factor in the dry catnip needed to distract the local beasts while I work, lest they drive me insane by whining outside the door.

As it happens, I also didn’t properly factor in my time, and when I applied the cost of goods sold I realized that I was only making about two dollars an hour.  That was a revelation!  I’m glad I realized this while putting together donations.

Don’t trust that cute face.  She only wants drugs.

My work space can be closed off to restrict access to cats, but it in no way eliminates the scent of the catnip extract.  If it weren’t for the window panels I might have been able to soldier on, but that face!  How can anyone be expected to resist it?  Dawn spent half the time just staring at me like this; once she started to mew, it was all over.  I will always be a sucker for an adorable face, a fact that she has ever understood.

Kitty-come-home balls, hermetically sealed.

Once the toys are assembled and charged, I put them in plastic zipper bags which I then store in a sealed plastic container on a high shelf of a cabinet with a door until it’s time to pack them for shipping.

I have no illusions that my cats would not, given enough time, figure out how to get to them no matter where I hide them, which is one of several reasons why I will always make them to order.  Nobody wants strange cat drool on their new magical cat toy, after all.

If you have made it to the end of this rambling post, dear reader, then you get to be among the first to learn the bad news, and the good news, about the kitty-come-home ball.  As indicated above, the price is just too low, and I had to raise it to cover my costs and actually make these worth my while.  That’s the bad news.  The good news, though, is that the coupon code PEREGRINE will take $5.00 off your order when applied at check-out.  That’s a limited time offer, and expires on January 31, 2017.

Fun with the ancestors


I walked past my ancestor shrine earlier this afternoon, and noticed that some of the objects had been rearranged.  The silver napkin ring in the center had last been seen on the left edge of the table, encircling the three coins I use for divination.  Those coins are now in a straight line, and from the edge they display tails-tails-heads.

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Yes, cats do walk here, and drink the water left as an offering.  It’s a good relationship; the cats remind me of my practice.  I’m fairly certain they had a paw in this.

The black iron knife on the right side of the image was forged and owned by a Witch friend of mine who recently passed.  I’ve been moving the knife closer in with the other objects day by day.  The reason I’m being gradual is because she represents an entire community of the dead that I have come to serve.  That community is comprised entirely of Pagans who have died in my lifetime, although I did not know them all personally, and I suspect that they are now livening up my ancestor work.

It is not my practice to put pictures of my ancestors on the shrine.  They are instead represented by objects.  The black mirror is to allow me to look into their eyes through my own.

I’d use the coins for divination to ask about this, but there they sit, tails-tails-heads, apparently in response to a question already asked.  That response suggests that they mostly feel the answer to the question is in the negative.  Sure would be nice to know what the question was.

Xenia


I’m going to put it out there:  I suck at hospitality.  Even for a modern person, I am not the ideal.  I barely remember to bring a gift when I’m staying at someone’s house, or wine to offer with dinner.  I don’t like unexpected guests, and sometimes even dread the expected ones, or at least I do in anticipation.  Xenia, the relationship between host and guest, is not exemplified by my behavior.  In that way, I’m probably a bad Hellenist.

2015-09-28 15.26.44Yesterday, we had a shabby visitor.  He first tried to jump into my wife’s car as she left for work, then made an impression on each other person in the household as they went outside.  Our first impression, mostly from body language, was that this old cat was female, and extremely friendly.  She would go to any human she noticed, and was particularly interested in coming through the door into the house.  She made an impression on the two cats who sometimes go out; the adventurous boy regarded her with suspicion, and the cautious girl, our senior queen, was miffed that this interloper had taken her favorite place underneath the bushes, and refused to go outside at all.

This cat had large mats of ungroomed fur, drooled enough to make it obvious there were problems with her teeth, has a ring of displaced fur where a collar had been, and we later discovered she’s been declawed.  It was obvious that she was an inside cat, used to human company, and that she couldn’t survive long without help.  Whether she had been separated from her humans by accident or design, we couldn’t tell.  What we could tell was her incredible affection, particularly a desire to crawl into any lap that held still long enough.

2015-09-28 15.04.55Her reluctance to eat dry food — unadulterated kitty crack, terrible for them but universally accepted — proved to me that this girl had some mouth problems.  We gave her wet food, and left the porch open overnight.  I don’t think she went in except when someone was there, at least until it started raining.  I was set on bringing her to the SPCA, but a small voice encouraged me to call our vet instead.  That was a good move, as they have an animals-in-crisis fund, and agreed to check her out and provide some treatment in return for a donation to the fund.

We learned that we were wrong about her gender, and I started switching to “he,” although my sense is that this cat is transgender or intersex, so another pronoun entirely might be more appropriate.  His age could not be determined, because the infection in his mouth is bad, so bad that it was the only fuss he made to keep hands away from there.  This from a cat that allows people to pet his fur-mats, and walked into a cat carrier simply because I put it down in front of him with the door open.  It must really hurt in there.  The vet dosed him with antibiotics, dewormer, flea prevention (he didn’t seem to have any, which says something), and a rabies shot.

After talking to my wife, and confirming that we cannot afford another cat, we agreed to have this guy tested for FIV and feline leukemia, because if he has either of those, he’s a danger to our animals and has to be brought to the no-kill shelter.  If those come back negative, we might take him in anyway, even though we’re not sure how we will pay the $400-500 it will cost to get his mouth back into shape.  I’ve started a GoFundMe campaign and the kitty launched his own Tumblr, and the outpouring of support has been truly heartwarming.

At that point, my wife turned to me and said, “He doesn’t have only one eye, but don’t the gods disguise themselves to test hospitality?”  I’m no Heathen, but I understood perfectly.  Perhaps there is hope for me embracing xenia, after all.

If he stays, I may name him Somebody, as a subtle homage to the far-traveling Odysseus.

First Submission to the Public Polytheistic Shrine Project


While I thought this was a cool idea from the get-go, I didn’t have the impetus to create a public shrine until one of my cats went missing. I prayed to Poseidon, Hermes, and Artemis for his safe return, and they all played a part him coming home. The offerings I made didn’t feel like enough, but then I remembered this project, and knew what I had to do. I took some wood scraps from a recent project around the house and brought them to a small park nearby. The spot I selected is more hidden than I expected, but I feared the someone stumbling on the shrine and losing eir footing in other locations.

For Hermes, who gave me the silver tongue I needed to find the right person to talk to, I offered some raffle tickets and an 8-sided die made of steel. To Artemis, who watches over the wild spirit of my cat that keeps him from accepting a life inside, I gave one of Alley Valkyrie’s bees. And for Poseidon, who kept me grounded so I would not give up, an assortment of shells and marine animal toys. Each of the gods also received offerings of water and barley.  Together, they made it possible for me not to repeat history.

I can’t wait to see pictures of other public shrines, and I kind of want to make more myself.

Gangleri's Grove

Today I received the first submission to the Public Polytheistic Shrine Project. ^__^ T.P. Ward sent me images of this shrine, made in thanks to Hermes, Artemis, and Poseidon. Thank you, T.P.

This was created in a public park near his home.

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Folks, if you are interested in joining this project (and i hope at least some of you are!), see the guidelines here.

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Serenade to a cat which came to me one summer’s afternoon as I pet a cat in the bathroom


I have a head without body,
you have a body without a head.
Together we are complete.
Together we are complete.

I have a head and hands,
you have a body and neck.
Together we are complete.
Together we are complete.

I have a voice with words,
you have a language without.
Together we are complete.
Together we are complete.

Poison in the home


Today, the cats are not at home, nor are the humans.  We’re poisoning our home.

Dusk, left, and his older sister Dawn.

We brought home two sweet and darling kittens in October, in part to soothe the pain of having my cat Myrlyn disappear without a trace back in June, and in part because opening our home to little furry ones is what we do.

Those darling little kitties were simply infested with fleas, and all the natural remedies we tried to kill the buggers were completely unsuccessful.  Sure, we killed and combed out bunches of them, but they breed so much faster than we could remove them that it was an impossible battle.

We’ve had only partial success with Frontline, and we weren’t eager to try it on the little ones anyway, so the problem wasn’t going away.  So today, we packed up all four cats and carted them off for a flea bath, and set off toxic flea bombs to destroy the ones hiding in the nooks and crannies.

. . . and he was never seen again.

I have mixed feelings about this.  Fleas are an intolerable pest.  It’s cruel to allow our cats to suffer from an infestation.  I haven’t seen it yet, but I know that they’re more than happy to bite humans when they’re hungry, as well.  Even more concerning to me than getting a few bites is the possibility of them infesting my dreadlocks.  They may have evolved to coexist with fur-bearing mammals, but fleas in the home is simply unacceptable.

But harsh chemical treatments don’t come without a price.  My cats have had some pretty bad experiences with conventional medical care.  
  • Myrlyn was a victim of vaccinosis, brought on by my ignorant belief that repeatedly injecting him with rabies vaccines was a good idea.  It wasn’t – he became more aggressive, developed irritation at the vaccination site, and over time changed from a sweet a loving animal to one that was unpredictable and extremely temperamental. I’ve been extremely skeptical of shooting up a pet with this crap ever since I watched his struggles; I really feel like I failed him.
  • Peregrine had his own issues with conventional medicine.  He had to be intubated for some extreme oral care, and he spent weeks in respiratory distress after the procedure.  It got so bad that this loving and affectionate cat was avoiding contact with humans, because purring was triggering the attacks.  We were powerless to help him.  Even now, years later, he occasionally has coughing and huffing fits.
So my cats are all getting this toxic bath, which means that they’re all getting vaccines which I think are a terrible idea, and some of them may even get sedated.  I don’t think it’s a good idea, but I don’t know what else to do.
There has got to be a better way.