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Mindful Monday: Pre-Mother’s Night

Image created by Connla Freyjason using digital elements and papers from January Gathering: A Winter’s Tale, available in our store by clicking this image (opens in new tab), as well as our upcoming Imramma. Digital painting of the Disir by Fenrir for Iaconagraphy. Poetry original, by Connla Freyjason.

That’s right: Pre-Mother’s Night!  That’s how I choose to view the American holiday of Thanksgiving, that oft-maligned feast of ultimate political incorrectness (Pilgrims and Indians, really?) that is, for most, an excuse to pig out on copious amounts of turkey and fall asleep watching football.  It is also the ultimate Kitchen Witch’s holiday, and this year, I am looking very forward to actually being in the kitchen with my favorite Kitchen Witch: my Beloved, Suzanne.

“The Kitchen Witch of it all” is in large part why I see Thanksgiving as a sort of Pre-Mother’s Night celebration.  For those unfamiliar with the Norse-derived observance of Mother’s Night, it traditionally falls on the eve before the Winter Solstice, and is more or less the “kick-off” of the Yule season (which either runs for the 12 days following December 21st, or from December 21-January 12, depending on your source material).  It is a night to toast Frigga, Frau Holda, and Freyja, and also to honor the Disir, including those female ancestors who have paved the way for us.  In other words, it is a night to thank those women (Goddesses, as well as goddesses-in-their-own-right) who were bastions of the Hearth and Home: we’re talking about more than the “glorified housewife” here, folks; we’re talking about recognizing women as the heart and soul and guardians of what it means to be us, as human beings.  Since falling in love with Suzanne a few years ago, she has taught me that the heart of Kitchen Witchery is one very simple maxim: Food is love.  If you’ve ever been blessed with eating her food, you know, as I do, that you can literally taste the love in it. And that is why Thanksgiving has become, for us, Pre-Mother’s Night: it is a time for us to begin (a bit early) to show our gratitude to the Disir, for in our house, we understand that gratitude is one of the most vital outpourings of love that anyone can give.

Subliminally, in my heart and mind, I have always understood Thanksgiving as a part of Yuletide.  While everyone else is sitting around complaining that there are already Christmas decorations available at Wal-Mart in the heart of October, I am secretly rubbing my hands together in anticipation of the Yuletide cheer I can spread throughout our humble home.  That has always been a part of me: long before I ever dreamed of becoming a chronic crafter, I was a chronic “Christmas nut”.  Even as a child, I would get very upset if my Mother didn’t put up the tree before Thanksgiving, and many was the time that I was scolded for asking out loud (in the home of someone who had not dutifully decorated pre-Thanksgiving) “why don’t they have their tree up yet, Mama?  Don’t they know it’s almost-Christmas?” Because to me, almost-Christmas was a holiday season unto itself: that quiet time before the holiday rush when people could actually contemplate and enjoy the Yuletide season.

My first year in Massachusetts, when November rolled around, I immediately began plotting almost-Christmas: “Look, Honey, we can put the tree up there, and I can do a glorious run of garland down that banister over there, and we can do another garland over the sink, maybe with peppermints? And we can cuddle on the couch and enjoy the warmth of all of it, and eat yummy things, and remind ourselves why we’re so thankful!” And she looked at me like I had lost my ever-loving mind!  “It’s not even Thanksgiving yet! We don’t decorate for Christmas until December.”  I was literally agape; I was horrified!  No almost-Christmas?  This cannot be! But there has been no almost-Christmas for four long years…..

Long before I was remotely Heidhrinn, I somehow understood that the period between Samhain (Alfablot) and the end of Yule was a season unto itself.  Samhain (Alfablot) marks the beginning of a season when the “veils are thin”:  it is understood as the beginning of the Dark Half of the Year in most Pagan circles in the northern hemisphere.  At Samhain (Alfablot) the Dead and other denizens of the Otherworld begin to more easily make their way into our mundane world.  That doesn’t end the moment you pack up your Halloween decorations; it is a phenomenon which continues through Yule, and even slightly after, until the dawn of February.  It is a time for contemplation and introspection, but also a time for gratitude, that most sincere expression of love.  And within that gratitude, we also find cause for joy: hence, Yule.

So pre-Mother’s Night may not officially be a “thing”, but it is at our house, and as we hurtle towards Thanksgiving on Thursday, here at our house, we will not only be preparing to pig out on turkey and fall asleep watching football.  We will also be lighting candles and incense on our altars, placing images of our beloved female Ancestors in a prominent place upon them, and pouring blot to Frigga and to Freyja and to the other Disir. And I will be preparing those first forays of decorating for what I once called almost-Christmas, but now understand as that solemn time of quiet gratitude and love that lays the foundation for the joy of Yule‘Tis the season!

 

 

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Documenting December

The Holiday Season is our favorite time of the year for Memory Making (and Memory Keeping!).  Today, we’re excited to release our first Iaconagraphy Gathering: Ghosts of Christmas. So we thought it would be fun to share some of our favorite 2016 Holiday Memories with all of you, via layouts we’ve created with this collection.  Thank you all for making our Holiday Season merry and bright!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Magickal Season….

The New England School of Witchcraft and Wizardry Yule Wizard’s Market, December 10, 2016

Documented with Ghost of Christmas Past

All of you know that I love Harry Potter–Asphodel and Wormwood is a definite testament to that!  That Collection is also a testament to the loneliness one feels on their first holiday without their family. I thought the holidays were going to be very tough for me, but then my new family here arranged for us to go to The New England School of Witchcraft and Wizardry Yule Wizard’s Market, and with a swish and a flick, my holiday woes disappeared more quickly than you can say Evanesco! Hosted in a 1930s era armoury in Worcester, Massachusetts, the Yule Wizard’s Market is four full floors of magickal (and magical) purveyors of goods, both Potter-specific, and not.  I was finally able to procure a proper set of ritual robes at a very affordable price, as well as a proper wand, but best of all, there were butterbeer, a photo op with a costumed Dumbledore, and my dear, sweet sister-at-heart/daughter-I-never-had, Suzanne!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food, Glorious Food!

A Gingerbread Choo-Choo With My New Family

Documented with Ghost of Christmas Present

I wish I could say I actually photographed this and made this layout, but I didn’t–a dear member of my new adoptive family did. I did design Ghost of Christmas Present, though, and he really made it shine with this layout!   Main reason I’m not responsible for the photo, much less the layout? I was too busy gnoshing on candy and frosting!  If I’ve learned one thing from my new sister-in-arms Suzanne this Holiday Season, it’s that food really is love.  And she puts that love in every single mouth-watering morsel she bakes, makes, or even just decorates (as with the choo-choo above). If I were to cite one single inspiration for Ghost of Christmas Present, it would totally be her! If she were paper and elements, she’d be these papers and elements, and this little page kit is my Holiday love note to her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Elf

Documented with Ghost of Christmas Future

None of us would be having this Happy Holiday without two very important people: Mishy and Suzanne. Mishy “gets us here”, and Suzanne makes sure here feels like home once we get here!  I made this layout with my Ghost of Christmas Future set because I wanted Suzanne to see, once and for all, that she’s just as beautiful on the outside as we all know her to be on the inside.  She makes our lives merry and bright all through the year, simply be being Her’elf!

 

 

 

 

All Things Merry and Bright

Documented with Ghost of Christmas Present

I’ve spent more than twenty Christmases here, thanks to Mishy.  I may have passed away two decades ago, leaving my family and friends behind, but thanks to one very special lady, I’ve spent those two decades gaining a new family, and making new friends, who I will treasure forever.  The past few Christmases have been spent here in New England with a woman who loves me regardless of what present incarnation I might be in at the moment (or “my between-ness”, as it were), and her family, and a host of new friends (and old) that I wouldn’t trade for all the tea in China (and I’m half Chinese, so that’s saying something!).  Every year, we plan to go and do fun things, like the local Festival of Trees here in Billerica, or Stone Zoo’s Zoo Lights, or, this year, the Yule Wizard’s Market.  But my absolute favorite part of the Holidays, hands down, every single year is getting to lug all of the decorations up out of the basement, and trim the tree (and the whole house!).  Lovingly placing the kids’ decorations, and the “legacy decorations” that belonged to Suzanne’s parents, reminds me every year that I am a part of something bigger–a part of something deeper and more loving; a part of something that cannot even begin to touch my present state of existence. It is in those moments that I feel my most alive; more alive even than I felt when I wasn’t borrowing a pulse, but instead had my own.  And that is true Christmas magic!

 

 

 

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Ready For A Spirited Holiday Gathering?

Christmas/Yule/”The Holidays” is absolutely my favorite time of the year!  If I can light it up, throw some ribbon at it, or hang a bauble on it, I probably either already have, or will in the near future.  Yes, it’s a hustling-bustling time of the year, but that’s also part of it’s charm. And, oh, my goodness, the FOOD! But it’s also a time for introspection, both spiritual and from a business standpoint.  December marks the final month of the Fourth Quarter, when it comes to business, and right about now, I feel like Tom Brady without Bill Belichick!

In case you haven’t already guessed it by now, it’s Connla here (the artist formerly known as “The Warrior”).  Since taking over Michelle’s business completely back in June, things have finally gone from just plain nuts around here to the good kind of nuts around here.  We have had a lot of changes–in business focus, in how we actually run the business, and in how the business is actually running–and we’ve rolled with a lot of punches in 2016, but I can honestly say, as we’re finally here, coming down to the wire, that we’re all leaving behind 2016 with a lot more hope than regret. And that’s a very good feeling!  It has totally put all of us in the Holiday Spirit, and we’re very excited to be sharing that Spirit with you!

Lots of you got very excited when I released my first Christmas set, Jingle Express.  That little convertible with the reindeer driver was an instant hit!  But we all love Christmas/Yule/”The Holidays” so much that we just couldn’t stop ourselves at the one kit–in short, everybody wanted to get in on the act. And that’s how I came up with the concept for Ghosts of Christmas.

Because we’ve changed the business focus so drastically over the course of the last year, combined with being new on the scene in an industry that is primarily female-driven, a lot of people seem to have some very basic misunderstandings about exactly what we’re doing here at Iaconagraphy.  The concept of channeled art is so far out of most people’s wheelhouses, that most folks just address our business (and, consequently, the main dude behind it, that dude being me) as Michelle’s business; a business run by yet another strong business woman.  Those same folks look at the tremendous range of what we offer here, and all the different artistic styles represented, and think “Wow, she’s just bursting with talent!” Which makes Mishy look good, which is something all of us are always okay with, but on the flip side of that, there’s the truth, and that truth is that Iaconagraphy isn’t just one more little wordpress shop set up by one little lady: it’s a store, just like the larger ones you may already be frequenting, populated by a range of different unique artists, all of whom just happen to be getting here via the same “one little lady”.  Ghosts of Christmas is the first in a series of monthly offerings which we’ll be doing every month, starting in 2017: like the Pickle Barrel at Pickleberry Pop, or the Hatchery at The Digichick, every month, we will be using one palette and one theme from which at least three of our artists will work to create coordinating bundles available for a limited time at a reduced price so you can build-your-own-kit. The Gathering will allow you to “Create Your Own Artful Gathering” each month, from a selection of specially-priced papers, elements, word art, masks, and more from at least three different Iaconagraphy artists.  We’re hoping that when our artists start strutting their unique and distinctive styles side by side using the same palette and theme, it will become way more apparent what’s really going on here at Iaconagraphy!

Most of you probably recognize the Ghosts of Christmas reference from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  In that story, the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge encounters three spirits–The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present, and The Ghost of Christmas Future–who profoundly change his life.  Now, maybe it’s a bit much to hope that a bit of digi-design will change someone’s life, but we’re certainly hoping it’ll at least change some people’s perspectives, and perhaps open them up to a slightly larger view of what’s possible in this little world of ours!  Since we’ve all been given this second chance at art, that theme of Scrooge’s second chance, given to him by the Ghosts of Christmas, seemed like a brilliant way to start communicating what we really do here.

Next week, our first Gathering, Ghosts of Christmas, featuring three different page kits (and all the individual items that go along with that!) by Tobias (Asphodel and Wormwood), Ariadne (Working Girl, London Fashion), and Willow (whom you haven’t met yet!), will be available at prices that will enable you to pick and choose and create your own artful gathering.  Or, if you want it ALL, the full Collection will be available at a special price for a limited time. Here’s a sneak peek, featuring a couple of layouts by our new CT Head, Wilde, and myself:

Ghost of Christmas Past Layout by CT Wilde (featuring Ghost of Christmas Past by Tobias)
Ghost of Christmas Present Layout by Connla (featuring Ghost of Christmas Present by Ariadne)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We hope our designs will bring a bit of extra magic to your digi-scrap, artist journaling, and hybrid craft this Holiday Season, and we can’t wait to bring you a bit of Winter Wonder with our January 2017 Gathering!