New Book on Amazon!

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I have a new book on Amazon.com.

The Mansions of the Moon

screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-3-59-28-pmThe Mansions of the Moon, a collection of twenty-eight poems celebrating the angels of the Mansions of the Moon, and their images and lore, as described in Picatrix and other sources like Christopher Warnock’s book, The Mansions of the Moon, is available in Kindle format  here.

Current price is $4.99 for twenty-eight poems, greeting the twenty-eight angels of the Moon’s orbit as found in traditional astrological sources like Picatrix.

From the book blurb on Amazon…

In many ancient sources, the Moon is called “The Treasure House of Images” and this book helps explore that name. From at least the classical era, ancient Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Indian civilizations divided the sky into twenty-eight Mansions, noting that the Moon spent a day in each of these places in the course of a month. As with the night sky divided into constellations, ancient astronomers named these Mansions and gave them images, and celestial rulers. Thus, the Mansions of the Moon are a ‘Zodiac’ of sorts for the Moon — a sequence of twenty-eight positions that the Moon occupies on successive days through her month-long procession across the sky.

In this sequence of twenty-eight poems, Andrew Watt explores what the Mansions have meant for hundreds if not thousands of years — the spiritual rulers said to reign in those palaces, the forces they put to work in human and earthly affairs, and the imagery that is said to adorn these Mansions. Each Mansion, and each poem, is thus a door or a window into a magical way of seeing the world. By following the Moon through each of the Mansions on succeeding days, the reader gains insight into the way the Moon truly is a Treasure House of Images.

Would you also like it as a downloadable PDF available through my store on Etsy.com? Please let me know… In the meantime, you can get my Poetry for the Behenian Stars there, as well as on Amazon.com.

Special thanks to Christopher Warnock.  Without his book, The Mansions of the MoonI would never have become so excited about this subject, or written these poems.

 

English Paper Piecing

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I’ve completed the assembly of the front side of my first English Paper Piecing project: a quilted mat for the lazy Susan in our dining room. The design might be called geometric-abstract.  Three simple blue-and-purple “flowers” against a gray background— or perhaps three solar systems being ripped apart by a quartet of black holes.  🙂

The backside, some paper still placed

The essence of the work is still the same: decide on colors, fold cloth around a paper shape, baste the folded cloth, sew the edges of several basted shapes together, remove the papers as you complete sections and return the papers to circulation. This crinkled hexagon shape has four smaller hexagons on a side, and it’s in four colors: purple, blue, gray and black.  The whole thing needs pressing, and it needs backing and quilting. I haven’t decided if I’m going to use edge-binding tape or sew it right-sides-together into a bag and then turn the bag.  It’s possible I’ll have to do both.

I’m not convinced of the wisdom of removing the papers as one goes, either. I’ve seen it argued both ways now, from both remove and leave in place. Now that I’ve tried remove, I’m tempted to try leave in place for the next project. Either way, the challenge seems to be to get the paper shapes to exactly the right dimensions and in a stiffer paper than simple copier Paper. Card stock might work better, but it also might be too stiff. Cardboard is definitely too stiff.

Front side, some basting stitches still placed

I don’t know that this work is sustainable. I can see why its a hobby craft, and not a financially successful profession — this small project took a lot of time, even granted that I was learning the method. It does use up a substantial amount of otherwise-wasteful scrap fabric, so I can see the appeal of the method. What was unuseable garbage is now useful material for building something larger.  As a school-child project, I can see this method being useful for an after school activity, but it’s not part of the main curriculum of a school day. It requires a lot of attention to detail and almost-obsessiveness. I think I would teach it as part of a quilting program, for making appliqués for a larger project, but concentrate the bulk of the class work on making an actual quilt. For me, one of those purple flowers was really enough to get the idea.

You can read the other parts of this series on English Paper Piecing here and here.

English paper piecing: further insight

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I’ve done some more English paper piecing while I wait for parts for my sewing machine to come in. I’m really enjoying it a lot, but I’ve hit a wall in terms of planning, at least a little bit.

Planning a Pattern? or random?

The core issue is not what to make — I have plenty of ideas about that — but rather, what is the scale at which I wish to work? These hexagons are 1 1/4″, and in some ways they’re too small for what I’d like to do — but if I go much bigger than that, my intended projects will get Way.Too.BIG, Way.TOO.FAST.  That’s always the way of it, though, isn’t it? Whatever project or plan we might be intending to pursue, there’s always the question of limitations and boundaries — old Saturn binding us in his everlasting chains?  Perfection and decrease follow from increase and growth, as surely as sunset comes sometime after noon. More

Fire-proud

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One candle in the dark: this was 2 days ago, the first day

I’m quite proud of this fire. It’s taken me most of the winter to learn how to do this, but I finally managed it.

I kept the wood stove burning for several days without over-filling it with wood every two hours. I didn’t have to get up in the middle of the night to fuel it. I just kept it burning by damping it and slowing, but not closing, its supply of oxygen. And in the morning, for several days now, behold: coals flaring to life.

It’s much more efficient to run a wood stove this way, apparently. And it makes the room where I do morning meditation much warmer and more comfortable. So I’m very excited. This is going to be a huge improvement on my effectiveness in the coming months, I think.

Review: How to Meditate

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I’m two reviews behind — last week’s didn’t get done, AND this week’s didn’t get done.  Oh, well, it was a busy week.  Facebook did one of those memories for me this morning which was quite delightful. A couple of years ago I was finding real joy in my tai chi practice.  It touches nicely on the subject of the current review, How to Meditate.  Prior book reviews can be found herePrior book reviews can be found here.

How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind
by Pema Chödrön
Sounds True, published 2013
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-62203-048-4 (Kindle edition)

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Pema Chödrön is a Buddhist meditation teacher and Buddhist nun: a New Yorker by birth, she is now the director of the Ganpo Abbey in Nova Scotia, Canada.  She was the first ordained American Tibetan Buddhist nun in the Vajrayana tradition.

This book is a practical guide to meditation. I’m currently using Headspace.com (Thanks Gordon!) as a tool for practicing my own meditation skills, and I’ve worked up from 10 minutes a day to twenty (it helps to be self-employed).  Still, although Andy from Headspace and Chödrön have very different takes on meditation, the one was a useful complement to the other.

The book is arranged in several sections: the first section lays out some reasons why we might want to take up the practice of meditation.  The second section lays out the basics of meditation practice: how to sit, how to breathe, how to act or not act, react or not react, to the things that are happening in the mind.  For Chödrön, the mind is a wild and untamed thing — Andy doesn’t use quite that language, but it’s close — and the thing that we do when we meditate is train the mind to accept and work with certain realities. A trained mind doesn’t not-woolgather, for example (though this isn’t one of hers), but it does notice that it’s day-dreaming and returns to a more alert and aware state.

The later sections of the book introduce themes for meditation — scents, tastes, memories.  Throughout the book, there is an emphasis on experiencing and understanding what is.   I enjoyed the read a great deal, but I appreciated the constant return in Chödrön’s writings to the idea of experience being the teacher, rather than herself, or another Buddhist teacher.  At the core of any meditation practice is the idea that we should sit and breathe; and that all of the more-advanced understandings of ourselves and of the world emerge from this most basic of practices.  It’s a point of view that I’m growing to understand and appreciate.

I don’t have much else to say about the book, other than that I enjoyed it, and I look forward to returning to it eventually.

English paper piecing 

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Trust that, given enough time on the internet, that I will discover a craft I haven’t mastered yet, but that will intrigue me enough with its complexity and weirdness that i will have to try it. The last few days, that craft is English Paper Piecing (EPP). This technique is found in quilting, where it is used to make appliques and decorative elements for quilts and clothes, particularly jackets.

Puzzling it out

The essence of the technique is pretty simple. Take “squares” of paper, or hexagons, or triangles or diamonds. Use pins or basting stitches to wrap small scraps of fabric around the paper; it’s a good idea to use both methods. Whip-stitch multiple scraps together without including the paper scraps. A pattern or a design emerges from the connected scraps of fabric. Remove the papers and the basting stitches; repeat until the quilt reaches its desired size. More

Bookbinding 

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There’s something beautiful about a stack of books bound with Coptic stitch. Particularly when you know that the contents of each book are your own. These are copies of my Book of Splendor, a collection of poetry exploring the relationships between nature and the divine in a particular corner of New England.

These are part of a limited edition of 100 copies: numbered, and hand bound, and the hand signed by the author, that is me. I interested in buying one? Let me know.

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