Finally got episode 2! I guess I have no excuses anymore.. sources below
No better time than the present to get back to blogging, eh?
How about some practical advice from your favorite bartender/magician in these weird days?
Actually, first can I talk about that? about how weird these days are? These are the strangest times I have lived through (and that’s from a guy who hangs out with spirits), and it’s only going to get weirder. I am sure you feel the same. Empty shelves, empty streets, animals retaking the streets, being constantly bombarded with images of disease, etc. Not working. That is the weirdest part, weirder than the empty shelves, or the leaf blowers and gas hedge trimmers that never stop in Palm Springs- even during a pandemic. Gotta make sure those bougainvillea’s look tidy! For once at least I am up early enough that I don’t want to murder those earnest fellows for doing their jobs. That in itself is weird enough. Well, if you have to be quarantined, Palm Springs in late March is not the worst place I suppose..
I am realizing how often I go to the grocery store, just out of boredom, as a habit. I mean I did this before the pandemic happened, and during the first few days of the quarantine. It became sort of a scavenger hunt as the days went on, trying to cobble together a meal plan out of what’s left on the shelves and whatever my roommate shlepped home from his seventh CostCo trip in four days (slight exaggeration). I have been doing a lot of pickling; but then we all eat pickles, we four trapped in this apartment together. We try not to let our situation become “The Thing”, looking suspiciously at each other with every new symptom. Waiting to see when (if) the checks come.
On to the advice:
It is important that we fast during this pandemic. I don’t mean dietarily, although I can recommend that highly and am practicing that intermittentently to boost immunity; I mean in everything. Take a break from the following each day, perhaps; streaming services, newsfeeds, social media, television, just for an hour. Deny yourself the dopamine rush of turning on a screen, or set hours where you don’t. Take advantage of this amazing opportunity to sit in stillness. Realize you have very little agency to stop a world crisis (even if you are a world leader) and take a moment for mindfulness. Breathe. Find a quiet corner, or a quiet path, and sit or walk. Who knows, you might discover a beautiful patch of
morning glory sacred datura blooming where the rains washed out the sand last spring.
If you can’t find quiet, make a quiet space in your own mind. It takes a little practice. There are things that little device in your pocket can do besides waste your time and/or terrify you. Try out a meditation app, or learn a language, or hell.. start a blog! If you keep running to the fridge or the store every time you get bored, you’ll end up bloated and broke with a pantry full of things you are never going to willingly eat when this is over.
I am going to come out of this better than I went in. I hope the same for all of us. Imagine a world wiser, kinder, more grateful for what we have, more mindful. Now that the shelves have been emptied and there is nothing we have to do, we can remake our lives. Be what you want to see. That’s my plan.
[edit: Just found out I was misinformed and this is actually jimsonweed, but that’s ok. Doesn’t change the beauty of the plant, or the experience of discovery. Actually it gives me a great idea for a new post, this is some seriously witchy stuff with crazy history!]
So.. it’s Capricorn season, at least for a few days. Of course if you listen to any of the astrologers that I do, you’re well aware that this year is totally Capricorn-dominated and going to force you to shut up and start doing. This sounds very worrisome to my quad-Sag, mostly-fire self. At the same time, maybe it’s time to welcome this change. Let’s get back to grounding ourselves and ignoring our news feeds. Let’s put our feet on the ground, roll up our sleeves, and do something. I, right now, am Ten of Wands fully. Saturn in Sagittarius might as well be my querent card at this point. A coworker introduced me by all of my part-time projects the other night, which made me seem both ludicrous and amazing at the same time. Luckily, most things only require my attention once a week or month, but the downside is my writing this blog is suffering a bit. The book and the blog will be sisters this year, and I am recommitting myself to both as of today.
Back to Capricorn season, or Capricorn year, with a healthy sprinkling of Mars energy. I am no astrologer, but it feels right. It’s time to be the intrepid goat and climb with a bit of Mars fire up your ass. My current projects are all things that other people don’t think have material worth. Maybe they’re right. I am convinced that with drive and hard work we can all turn this year into something special. Drown-out the noise.
“And you may ask yourself.. how did I get here?”
How did I get here? How is all the magic finally kicking in? How am I finding all the people I need to find?
Astrologically this is not the time for me. Or probably anyone.
The sage is in bloom. The whitewater is running. As I hiked up a trail of switchbacks and falling stones, lichens, and feral cattle poop with three of my favorite people and a very tired little pup, I was able to reconnect a bit with the landscape. I talked to a sage bush like a hippy. I poured the silty water over my head like a baptism.
An astute friend pointed out that people often find seashells hiking there. That it was a vast, inland sea at one point. She reminded me that Capricorn is the ‘Sea-Goat’, and therefore we chose the perfect hike.
“You say the hill’s too steep to climb.. Climbing..”
As for practical magic advice, here is what I am doing.
Working my way through the Rune Soup sigil course. Yes, I ‘know’ sigils. I thank a lot of the fires I have burning to them. It’s always wise to rethink everything you know. I have found doing daily (instead of occasional) planetary prayer to be quite beneficial.
I recently ‘discovered’ Aidan Wachter’s “Six Ways”, and really like his stripped-down-Harley view of sorcery. Highly recommended, as is his appearance on the Glitch Bottle podcast.
Oh, and if any of you are interested in Chartreuse, I wrote this..
Eventually going to post about planetary herbal liqueurs, but until I do, realize that Saturn likes Fernet. That’s where we begin..
After months, many many months, of staring at a microphone in my room I finally managed to summon up the courage to talk into it. Then I erased it and made a slightly less ‘lip-smacking meandering’ version.
I touch on Gnosticism and why, perhaps, we craft bartenders get so bothered by people who order trendy drinks.. or at least I do sometimes. I want this project to be about personal growth, whether or not I always live up to my own advice. So here it is, warts and all, and excited to do bigger and better as I go!
Halloween came and went, the veil between worlds is returning to its usual opacity. That’s just fine by most people, I mean many of us wish to know that there is more out there, and something that happens after death, and that’s about as much of the ‘dead’ as we like around us. We like to hear that Grandma and Pappy are happy together on a cloud somewhere, or that they’re watching out for us. That’s why ‘spirit boards’ are still on sale nearly everywhere board games are sold. We light candles as kids, we accuse each other of moving the widget, we get spooked, or nothing happens, and either way we put the board back in the closet (or the fireplace, or the trash).
Depending on the tradition one is working through, rum is pretty popular as an offering for spirits of the crossroads and the underworld. Back in my college days I dabbled with a spirit or two that seemed to enjoy it.. well since I was a complete newbie with no actual teacher in the systems I was messing with it was probably just the rum in my system making me think I was in touch with anything at all. These days I tend to let the dead lie, besides.. you never really know who is on the other end of that planchette.
In honor of the (just ended!) Mercury retrograde I rewatched a few movies from my childhood. While “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” probably doesn’t have much to add to this subject, “The Dead Zone” does, at least in an oblique way. Besides, I can’t resist an opportunity to reference Christopher Walken. The “dead zone” in the title of the movie, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, refers to the blind spot in our perception, and for those of us who try and scry a little knowledge from the misty void that is a very real thing. I am actually glad that is the case. A pre-written, already known world (while very possibly the case) is a bit depressing to me. So here’s to the fog on the road, even if we don’t always know where we’re going.
Now on to the drink. Naturally I had to enjoy a ‘Dead Zone”, the ‘barrel cocktail’ on the current Bootlegger Tiki (Palm Springs, CA) menu. Both for the name and the warning of ‘One max per customer!’, and also since it was created by my coworker at Truss and Twine, Jesse.
He was a little tight-lipped about the exact ingredients but disclosed that it was a variation on a Zombie (also appropriate for this time of year) and that it had baking spices, a little citrus, and three over-proof rums- including the delicious and deadly OFTD from Plantation! It definitely drinks like a Zombie, but with more complexity in the spice profile and also from the richness of the OFTD. I can say that I certainly wasn’t clairvoyant before I drank it, but I was definitely in the ‘dead zone’ afterwards. Just make sure to leave the car at home, nobody wants to be in the actual dead zone.
Mercury retrograde is upon us, when the little things in life suddenly turn on us in irritating ways. Don’t ask me why, there is no scientific explanation (yet) why the perceived backwards travel of a small planet millions of miles away would affect our communication here on Earth. Yet, anecdotally I can tell you it does seem to have an effect, and patience is a virtue during these times.
In the Western (whatever that ever meant) magical tradition, this is a good time for being a little, umm, deceptive if that’s something that is required for the task at hand. So what more appropriate cocktail than the Long Island Iced Tea? It looks like a simple glass of iced tea, but whoa does it pack a punch! Here’s an updated version that is easy to make at home (pro tip- just buy the airplane bottles of any spirit you don’t have in your home bar) to get you through any electronic malfunctions or deception thrown your way.
- 1/2oz each vodka, gin, rum, tequila, and triple sec (all the clear stuff typically found in a typical bar)
- 3/4oz simple syrup
- 1oz lemon juice
- splash of cola
shake all ingredients except for cola, pour over ice and top with cola
Oh, and there maybe some deception involved in the origin of this dive bar classic, you can read all about it here..
Yeah.. I have worked at a haunted bar or two. Even the most sceptical STEM-bro, if he were to work in enough bars, would eventually have something happen that he’d have a hard time ‘sciencing the shit out of’.
What is it about bars that attract such strange energies?
I can’t say for certain, but perhaps it is a multitude of factors.
- bars are places full of life and energy- it only makes sense that the energy would linger, or at least imprint something on the mind to suggest continuing human activity after such activity had ceased.
- people drink at bars- our faculties as guests (and yes occasionally staff, especially after closing) are sometimes compromised, or perhaps more open to phenomena we would normally dismiss
- closing/opening staff are often alone- when you’re alone, sometimes you see or hear things that aren’t (?) there
- people die/suffer trauma at bars- sad but true, maybe the trauma leaves a psychic residue
So perhaps it is all in our heads; I don’t believe that but you’re entitled to if you like. I have two stories I can’t for the life of me explain, but I will save them for the podcast. Let’s get on to the cocktail!
It’s surprisingly difficult to come up with a ‘ghost-theme’ classic cocktail. I mean there are plenty of spooky names for drinks and plenty of corny Halloween cocktails online; but very little to work with in the classic sense of a ‘ghost’. I chose the ‘White Lady’, and went with the recipe from the Savoy Cocktail Book as it has claim to being one of the first recipes. It is what I would classify as a ‘daisy’- a family of drinks including the Sidecar and Margarita. The definition of daisy is loose, but it should contain a base spirit, citrus, and orange liquor as a sweetener. Soda water is optional, and then you basically have a Collins anyway, but I digress. The Savoy version is just two parts dry gin to one part each Cointreau and lemon juice, simple, dry, elegant- but a little lacking in body. Most bartenders I know use a beefier version with egg white, and make it into a gin sour.
2oz dry gin
1oz lemon juice
3/4oz simple syrup
1 egg white
Shake without ice, then shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, apply bitters in little dots and dashes on top as you see fit
Why did I choose the White Lady? I feel like a ‘Lady in White’ is one of the most common apparitions reported at bars and hotels, and in general. The scorned bride who died tragically at her own hands, or the hands of another, or through some accident, is a common theme in folklore. She is a sad and elegant reminder of a bygone age, an equally scary and sympathetic figure, who calls us back to the edge of belief in an afterlife that may not be any happier than this mixed bag of existence. So therefore let us toast to her, all of the versions of her, and wish her soul some relief this Halloween!
Ever feel like you’re being watched? Well you are, but let’s leave the NSA, Russia, Amazon, Facebook, etc, out of it for awhile (hi guys!). If you find yourself in the Santa Lucia Mountains of coastal California, perhaps in search of a nice Pinot Noir, you may end up with some company. According to Jason Offutt in his book Chasing American Monsters, the Chumash Indians were the first to see mysterious silhouettes standing on the mountain ridges, silently staring. Spanish settlers recorded seeing these vigilantes oscuros, and a quick search online (specifically the comments section of the Weird California page on the subject [unsecure link, not sharing it]) shows that these things are still being seen regularly today. Back to Offutt, “Legend has it these humanoid creatures rarely appear to anyone who is carrying a gun, or is dressed in weatherproof clothing; they only reveal the themselves to people who wander the mountains in more old-fashioned garb.”
Pepé, the protagonist of the John Steinbeck short story ‘flight’ had a gun, and little good it did him shortly after seeing the Dark Watchers.
Once, on a white barren spur, he saw a black figure for a moment, but he looked quickly away, for it was one of the dark watchers. No one knew who the watchers were, nor where they lived, but it was better to ignore them and never to show any interest in them. They did not bother one who stayed on the trail and and minded his own business.
Pepe looked up to the top of the next dry withered ridge. He saw a dark form against the sky, a man’s figure standing on top of a rock, and he glanced away quickly not to appear curious. When a moment later he looked up again, the figure was gone.John Steinbeck, ‘Flight’
Steinbeck was interested enough in these mysterious beings that his son, Thomas, collaborated on a book (In Search of the Dark Watchers) about the subject with artist Benjamin Brode. Apparently lore of the Watchers was deeply ingrained in his upbringing, his grandmother even claiming to have traded with them- which is lore altering if true.
Poet Robinson Jeffers, in his poem ‘Such Counsels You Gave to Me’ also mentioned “the watchers, who are often seen in this length of coast range, forms that look human to human eyes, but certainly are not human. They come from behind ridges to watch.”
So, what are these ethereal observers? Are they like the ‘shadow people’ many observe in their bedrooms at night? Are they ghosts, or the remaining vibrations of a people long passed on? Perhaps it is a form of alien intelligence, curious about our hiking habits? Whatever they are, I thought they deserved a cocktail of their own. Luckily the boys at Bootlegger Tiki were up to the task and helped me whip up “The Dark Watcher aka the Poor Pepé”.
1 1/2 oz Singani 63
1/2 Demerara syrup
1/2 lime juice
1/4 oz fallernum
barspoon açaí pureéshake with crushed ice, Collins glass, garnish with edible flowers to accentuate the floral aspects
It’s refreshing and dangerous, and just dark enough to add a sense of mystery. If you ask the bartenders at Bootlegger nicely, I am sure you could get them to make you one.
..and if you see something dark watching you on the horizon, just leave it be.