Maybe it’s the holidays and people just being festive and cheerful, but today was a red letter day for me and my mask.

Me and My Mask – Setting up dolls for the Eleusinian Mysteries Altar 2007

Because of my Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) I have to wear a carbon filter mask (I buy mine from I can breathe and then decorate them 🙂 ) when I leave the house. This keeps my level of exposure to toxins like perfume, car exhaust, plastics, fabrics and the like, to a mostly tolerable level if I am careful about where I go. No department stores, new car showrooms, or all you can buy malls for me!

Now normally when I am out and about in my mask I get one or two smiles or nods or nothing at all. Mind you, I live in Liberal-ville :), right on the borderline between Berkeley and Oakland, really, of all the towns to live and be seen as normal, this is the place! Every now and then someone will stop me, usually on the Berkeley side of the line, and ask where I got the mask or if it came with the beaded fringe (nope, I added that myself – has to be shiny!) and I pass on cards for the company.

Today it was like everyone SAW me and my mask. The security guard at the pharmacy, the guys in the art supply store, people in line, people in the parking lot, a guy even watched me walk past him and smiled saying “Beautiful”! What the heck?!

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind any of this, its just… odd. It felt… inclusive. Not that people steer away from me, well except once a guy did while asking me if I had Tuberculosis, oy. But normally I live in a little bubble of isolation created by my mask and my need to not breath in the chemicals that most people don’t even notice.

Sometimes I let the whole thing get to me. I choose not to leave the house, almost don’t get out of bed, and think that people forget that I even exist. It’s hard to be the hermit crab when I am used to being the show girl. The hermit crab almost won today. After my allergy shots I was worn out and fell into an hour and a half nap. I almost let that be the rest of my day, but I push through and made it out of the house. If I hadn’t left home, I would never have been blessed with an afternoon of cheerful people connecting with me and my mask.

Sadly the mask only keeps some of the toxins away from me, so I still came home drained and aching, but with a smile on my face from all the sweet comments people sent my way. That aught to keep me getting out of bed for a few more days at least.

Blessed Holidays everyone!

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My stuff is on display at Baycon come see!!

For those of you who dont know, I have joinned forces with Jamie Morgan of the Silver Kitsune Jewelery, to create a company called Mirth & Reverence.  We have slowly be blending our work and our wares to the point where we are selling our stuff on line together at Artfire in our combined shop here: MirthReverence This weekend we are doing our first big convention as dealers!! woohoo!!

Jamie, the Wonder Partner :), has taken all of our stock and a whole lot of new stuff away to Baycon 2009 in San Jose CA. (Because of my Chemical Intolerances / MCS I cant do public stuff – so she gets the brunt of that work).  If you are in the area stop by the dealer’s/vendor’s room.  The Mirth & Reverence booth is near the back door in the corner and VERY hard to miss – here I can show you… Jamie kindly sent me a photo right after set up!

vendortable1

On site we have a host of new Jewelery from Jamie – lovely necklaces with Venetian Glass, Steampunk stuff with gears and bits, more of her famous twisted rope necklaces, and new cell phone charms and earrings!

From me you get a new batch of horses all lower cost and yet amazingly still filled with attitude (funny that) Some even have wings! And I finally got around to making some of the nifty staves I have been promising!

New from both of us and ONLY for the convention, these are not going to be in our shop – Hair falls in a range of colors and sizes: Earth, Fire, Air, Water, Night, Day, – come on its’s us, of course they were going to be pagan related! :)

And for those of you looking for my high end dolls, those are at the convention as well – in the Art show on their own table. I sent down ten dolls in total including the two new steampunk dolls Lady Elizabeth and Steampunk Gaia. With them are JB the Technicolor Dream Horse, Don Colorado, Sir EJ, Wiccan Star Goddess, Wiccan Horn God, Warrior Oy, Witch Queen Oya and on loan from her new home: Hekate.

So there is lots to see and buy so come take a look.

Blessings,

Kate

My last post “Living the Demetrian Wheel, Reality Strikes” was a first for me. Turns out it was the first time I have ever publicly written about having Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). After two years of living with this condition that seems a little odd, but its true. Up until now I have confined my writing and processing about life with MCS to my private journal, MCS email lists, and discussions with friends. Honestly I think it has taken that long for me to come to terms with this condition and make a certain level of peace within myself around the situation. But as an artist, ritualist and priestess, eventually what is in my heart and mind becomes a part of my work, and I guess my last post was the turning point.

All of that brought to mind that it was time for a little bit of truth in advertising for this blog. A little bit of “who is this crazy lady writing about MCS, ritual, art, gods and goddesses and the like?” And what is it that I am likely to write about on this electronic page of mine?

Five or Six years ago I would have answered that question by saying that I am writer and creator of ritual and ritual theater works, a mother and a priestess. At the time I was the founder and Artistic Director of Magical Acts Ritual Theater an experimental performance group in the Oakland, CA area that explored the boundaries between theater and ritual, between the sacred and the profane. We never made a living at it, but we did manage to pay the bills in the end, which if you know anything about nonprofit, volunteer theater is saying something! I resigned in the fall of 2002 to get some sleep, do some writing and rediscover my family. That worked for a while… but we Type A’s get bored soooo very quickly!

My Bio Photo from my days as AD of MART

Sadly, whatever I had planned for my post-MART days was eaten by the “Flue that would not go away” which started sometime around late 2004 / early 2005. Anyone familiar with MCS can see the plot begin to thicken right about now. Turns out that sometime in that period I was exposed to a very large dose of formaldehyde through a large remodel that was being done on the building that I worked in at the time. Lots of cheap industrial paint and cheap industrial carpet all over the place including right under my feet. Being “normal” at the time, it never occurred to me that this was a problem. Except that from that point on I had this flue and these sinus head aches that would not quit and would last for a week or two, go away, and then reappear – lather, rinse, repeat, over and over again.

In the summer of 2005 I was diagnosed with a massive dust mite allergy. WTF?? I had never had allergies in my life! That started the prescription medication and the allergy shots routine that I now live on. A little over year later I was on my second, or was it third?, sinus infection and a new round of antibiotics. Then in October of 2006 came the lovely adventure to the Emergency Room while at Disneyland that I wrote of in my last post. This was the triggering incident that brought the slumbering formaldehyde into full toxicity and me into the world of life with MCS.

My purple hair – dyed in celebration of my new life with MCS and suddenly jobless because of my health

– weird, but hey it was fun while I could still do it!

The first six to nine months of life with MCS I spent sleeping or watching DVD’s. There was just no energy – no spoons for anything else. So I missed most of 2007, which sucks when you have growing teenagers. Bless my house mates and husband! They stepped in and took over when I couldn’t be there and got the kids and me through the worst of those days! Slowly I learned to breathe again and think again. I discovered that there was a world out there… and of course… I got bored! Lol.

As luck would have it, around the time I got sick, a friend of mine had introduced me to the world of Robert Tonner dolls and Fashion Repaints and it occurred to me to try my hand at redo a doll for myself as an icon of Demeter. So I did and it was fun and other people liked what I was doing… so I tried a few other designs… and people liked those dolls… and started asking if I would do commission work! And now I have the seeds of a business doing Altar dolls! Getting sick lead me to my art – who knew? I have no idea if I will ever be able to make a living doing this, but for the moment it keeps me (mostly) out of trouble, and pays for itself, which in this economy is an absolute requirement!

The Demeter Altar Icon on my altar behind my desk

With my art has coming my writing – my ritual work specifically. I used to say that I was a Writer! Ok, I don’t *think* I was that bad, but I might have been. But this enforced downtime has helped me figure out that its not that I must *write* in the sense that a novelist or short story writer might use that word. When I need to *write* it is almost always to write ritual. I am a ritualist first and foremost, all the writing about ritual comes afterwards. But the requirements of MCS, staying away from all scents and chemical fumes, makes working and being in public damn near in possible – so for now, I am limited to writing ritual for my coven which is small and very MCS wise, and writing about ritual. Yes, its frustrating as hell! And actually its not the complete truth… I am writing rituals, just more complex and detailed ones; the kind that need time to brew and percolate to become their ideal selves.

And last, but never least, I am a priestess. Somehow this has always been true, and now, even with the MCS, or perhaps because of the MCS, it is even more so. I am a priestess of several powers. My work for the rest of 2008 and through June of 2009 at least will focus on my relationship to Demeter, hence the recent spat of work on the Demetrian Wheel of the Year.

So what is Sacred Seeds Weblog about? Art, ritual, life with a chronic condition… ways to celebrate life no matter what the universe throws at you!

I feel like I should title this post “bad priestess no biscuit”. October has been a wash, ritually speaking. Thankfully Demeter seems to understand and be rather tolerant of my efforts to get my life in order. Or at the very least she has not ripped open the ground at my feet or anything that dramatic.

My plan in drafting a Demetrian Wheel of the Year for my own working was to follow it for at least a year to see how it fit into my life and to learn from the experience. After all, if I claim to be Demeter’s Priestess shouldn’t I walk that talk in a very real sense by walking the path of her festivals? Well as with many well intentioned plans… life er… had other plans?

This is the complication of being a priestess and having a chronic illness, everything needs to be adjusted to the needs to the body. Oh. Goodie. So October has become “Flue” month rather than “ritual” month as I was planning. *sigh*. But then again, Demeter seems to understand what she has in me… so this all seems to be part of the process. Yeah, the process of teaching an Aries to mellow out and walk instead of run into everything! Riiiiiiight. Good luck!

All that being said… a few things have been accomplished, a little out of order… but I’ll take all the successes I can get.

I now have my out door altar to Demeter. This is a stand in for the Temple that is to come. The hubs and a cluster of other crazy friends have offered to assist in the creation of a larger exterior “temple” for her in the same spot. We are designing it along the lines of the Asian Spirit / Ancestor Houses which are built as mini houses in various designs for the spirits to live in. Since this is for Demeter, it will be Greek in style of course. And I have finally worked out what I want… hmm… what we want I guess is the better phrase. A four (Doric) column, single room temple with three steps leading up to the entrance. Nice and simple.We are going to rig an opening in the roof so that I can place the Demeter Altar Doll I made several years ago inside during the dry summer months and take her out in the winter. I’m pondering painting the image in Pediment rather than trying to create a set of mini sculptures for the whole thing! I found this very cool website that goes through the stages of development for the Greek temples complied by John Porter of the University of Saskatchewan. I’m hoping to have the temple built and put in place in time for Plynteria in April/May.

Over the weekend I ordered Barley seed so that I can plant a winter batch as soon as they arrive. I will need to work out a private honoring of Proerosia (about a month late, ah well) and include preparing the container and the location I am going to set the seeds out in – near the new altar.

I have a great idea planned for honoring the Stenia, but my schedule keeps getting messed up and timing with the group of ladies who are game to join me has been fubared – we all seemed to have gotten sick this month. My plan is very un-ritualistic and horribly contemporary but entirely within the spirit of the thing. A Girls Night in with videos, tasty things to eat, questionable drinks, and lots of bawdy girl talk. In particular we’ve been plotting a viewing of a lovely little musical called Naked Boys Singing. The Musical is much fun and the dvd was well done… and well… what can you say about lovely men with no clothes on who are enjoying themselves and singing about it? So again, the celebration will happen… just very out of sequence to the actual calendar.

I did manage to do an honoring of the Thesmophoria in a way… another very contemporary approach to ritual, but honoring the spirit of the festival if not the actual script. October 15th is the anniversary of the day I went into the Emergency Room at Disneyland in anaphylactic shock, which is a much longer story that does not need to be told here. That event triggered the toxins that had been stewing in my body from an exposure to Formaldehyde about 18 months earlier. The anaphylaxis pushed me over into full blown Multiple Chemical Sensitivity – the chronic illness I now live with. This year my business partner Jamie and I created a ritual to help me mourn some of what I had lost through that experience and celebrate some of what I have gained. We performed the ritual on Friday October 17th at the Berkeley Marina with a handful of other friends who shared in letting go some of their grief and celebrating some of their joys. It was a quiet and poignant evening.

Now the wheel turns and the Wiccan in me prepares for Samhain this weekend. More honoring of grief and joy at the end of the year. Somehow it all fits together. And just behind me, supporting and offering comfort and understanding, I can feel Demeter’s presence. Sister, Lover, Mother, Goddess, Cohort in Crime, and Friend.