Homebrew Recipe – Black Watch Cascadian Dark Ale

Cascadian Dark Ales (AKA Black IPAs) are the darker, just as hoppy, brothers of IPAs. I recently brewed one, and it just finished bottle conditioning. Keeping with the recent Scottish theme of my homebrews, this is Black Watch Cascadian Dark Ale.

Black Watch Cascadian Dark Ale
Black Watch CDA Label

Continue reading Homebrew Recipe – Black Watch Cascadian Dark Ale

Homebrew Recipe – Beòir nan Brìde Dandelion Gruit

In all my making, I’ve recently gotten more into home brewing (in the sense of beer), and I want to be able to share tasting notes as well as the recipes online.


The first I’ll share is a Dandelion Gruit.

Continue reading Homebrew Recipe – Beòir nan Brìde Dandelion Gruit

The Lanterne Rouge – a narrative about cycling

This was an article that I submitted to Paved Magazine about my first experience in a bike race of appreciable length. Because Paved is no longer publishing, and I didn’t feel like trying to shop this out to any other mags (hey, they probably weren’t going to pick it up at Paved, anyway), I’m releasing it here for you. Enjoy.

Continue reading The Lanterne Rouge – a narrative about cycling

Well, that went swell

So much for a continuing podcast about writing. Pagan’s Pen will return, but it must be revivified and in a new form.

Why did Pagan’s Pen fail?
I think it was the structure. Sometimes beauty flourishes in structure (a la bonsai), but sometimes that structure kills it. I wanted so much for PP to be a beautiful, thoughtful podcast with great production quality, and I think the first (read: only) episode was better on that end than any first episode of which I have ever been a part.
However, “The perfect is the enemy of the good,” and I failed to deliver the good in the face of wanting to deliver the perfect.
So, from now on, I will strive only for “the good.” Sorry, Perfection, you’re too… what’s the word? Oh, “perfect.”

So, what will PP become?
Well, what it always should have been, a forum for me to share my thoughts about the two “Crafts” that fill my life: Writing and Wizardry.
It will probably be a blog more than a podcast. Oh, well, you can handle that, can’t you? But I will throw in some audio as well, especially when I want to share something for the sound it creates when read aloud.

Blessings to all of you. May Mercury inspire your words.

Pagan’s Pen #1

Welcome to the Pagan’s Pen, where we explore the union of faith, magick, art, and writing. I’m Matt, or Taljesin., or Wamditanka, and I’m the pagan in question. I’m a seeker of wisdom, a follower of the Correllian Nativist Tradition, a writer, a chaos magician, and a devotee of the Muses. Join me in a bit of writing, reading, musing, and magick on the Pagan’s Pen Podcast, where we prove that, sometimes, the pen is mightier than the pentacle.

May Day

by Taljesin.


Mother, may I?

In truth, I say, I

Know not which my

Love will be.


I dance and turn. I

Advance, return. I

Sing a song by

The ribbon tree.


In and out, I

Weave about. I

Pass my love, my

Blue-eyed she.


But will I find my

Arms around my

Lover sweet by

The blooming sea?


One more time, I

Sing the rhyme. I

Wheel around my

Beltaine tree.


And there I find my

Arms around my

Lover sweet my

Blue-eyed she.


And in her eyes, I

See surprise. I

See joy and love. I

See us be we.


Mother, may I?

In truth, I say, I

Know now which my

Love will be.

Quill Tip: The secret to good writing is good reading. Fill your brain with well-written stories. Ask yourself, “Why did I like that book?” or “How did the author make me feel that emotion?” and “How can I make my readers feel the same?”
            I walk and stand in the space I am planning a sacred herb and flower garden. Right now, it is barren, torn up from recent construction, and beaten down by snows and heavy rain. The damp earth smells fresh, however, and ready to burst forth with new life. This area had been hard, dry, concrete dirt before the construction, because it was in the shadow of a tall, strong oak. Oak, though, was aging and, with her proximity to the house, was taken down. Now the space is more open to the sun, and the oak’s death allows new growth to take her place. The soil is good, and smells good, and should feed a garden well, but right now it is cold and hard, ice that must thaw within the Mother’s womb.
            On this day, the winds buffet me from all sides, swirling quickly. It is new for me to be out here, one of the first sunny days we’ve had in months, the first I could wear just a jacket, and this is the first time I have toured the space since the construction. It is also new for me to do so without a podcast or audio book or music flooding my ears. New, and yet a return to what used to be. This space will do well. I pace it out, praying quietly. I will more formally sanctify and bless the space later, but right now, just for a moment, the wind subsides and peace settles upon me. I feel a meditative calm from above and below. My roots reach into the earth as my branches reach upward. Sunna’s radiance warms my face and limbs, and Nerthus feeds me with energy from below. My astral self feels the tree within it, and I am happy, and calm, and blessed. The spirits welcome my return to this connection to nature, a connection that was once such a part of my life.
After spending a few minutes embracing the sublime, I draw my roots back into myself and lower my branches. Stepping outside of the space, I feel the wind once more blowing upon me, and I hear the spirits whispering that I should return again soon.
I recently had the opportunity to attend a talk by author Bruce Coville. He’s primarily an author of young adult books, and he was in town speaking to a group of middle school students and their parents and teachers. I don’t know whether Bruce is pagan or not (my guess is he’s not), but I wanted to relate a few things he said, because they relate to writing and also to magick, and, though the connection to magick may have been unintentional, Bruce did plan his words to inspire and encourage the kids to reach their highest potential, and in this, his words gave insight into the type of personal transformation that is possible through writing and also through magick.
Bruce spoke about the power of words.  I seem to have lost my notes, so I’ll paraphrase a little bit. Bruce told us to think about a kindergarten or preschool student. We ask, “Can you draw?” and they whip out a picture. “Can you sing?” and they belt out a tune. “Can you dance?” and they make up a little dance. To ask those same questions to an eighth grader, however, we get completely different response. Bruce says this is because somewhere along the line, someone told them they couldn’t do these things, or they thought they couldn’t do these things. Someone shut these doors for them. “It’s your job,” he says to the students, “to kick down all those doors.” To the teachers and parents, he says, “It’s our job to keep those doors open for them.”
“Everything you think stays with you forever,” Bruce says, “so be careful what you fill your head with. Fill it with good things. Don’t fill it with crap.”
Writers and wizards have always known about the power of words, and so much more has been discovered about how words and thoughts can change the way a person feels. This is one of the basic points of mental alchemy: If you change your thoughts, you change yourself. Our thoughts get bound together like a book, and this book is quite thick. Each time we tell ourselves that we can’t do something or that we’re no good at something or that we’ll always be stuck in this negative condition, we add another page with that negativity written upon it, but each time we change that thought, we redact a page and correct what it says. The difficulty comes because we have thousands of pages with the negative statement on them, so it will take thousands of edits to change them all into the positive. Just like writing, it takes practice. It may take getting about halfway through that book and looking back at how far we’ve come before we start to feel different about it, but we can change our thoughts, and we can change our world.
If you want to be inspired by Bruce, check out http://brucecoville.com/
I’d like to finish this podcast by reading a piece by Bruce Coville, though it was written under a pseudonym. It’s a poem called Ragged John by Beatrice Farrington.
Pay attention to the rhythm created by the words Bruce chose here, and think about playing with rhythm in your own writing. The May Day piece I read at the beginning was intended to be a playful rhythm, reflecting the dance around the Maypole. Bruce’s rhythmic choice is different, but important. Witches have always used rhyme to add power to spells and make them more memorable, and, likewise, rhythm is especially useful in magickal writing. Think about how you can use rhythm and rhyme to go deeper into the magick, into that place of your mind or spirit that makes its desires manifest around you. If you have a piece that you think expresses rhythm in a creative way, I’d love to read it. Send it along to paganspen@gmail.com

Old Ragged John


Tattered clothes all fluttering

Worn out voice still muttering

Ragged John comes knocking

At all the doors in town.


And when a door swings open

Then you can hear the hope in

The thin, cracked voice that wonders

If you’ve seen his unicorn.


And we all know John is crazy

And his mind has gone all hazy

And the only thing we really wish

Is that he just would let us be.


But John, he keeps on questing

And the poor man knows no resting

For there’s something hurt within him.

And the pain won’t go away.


I’ve heard when John was younger

He was taken with a hunger

To see the white-horned wonder

They call the unicorn.


But when that star-horned, moon-maned dancer

Finally called, John could not answer;

Fear held him like a prisoner,

And he watched it walk away.


So now empty-eyed John hobbles

Across the village cobbles,

And the only fear he feels is

It will never come again.


Oh, when I watch old Ragged John

Go staggering by and wandering on,

I know there’s nothing sadder

Than a heart that feared its dreams.


If a unicorn should call to you

Some moon-mad night all washed in dew,

Then here’s the prayer to whisper:

Grant me the heart to follow.

Help me help my humane society

The Randolph County (WV) Humane Society is planning to make and sell cookbooks as a fundraiser. Unfortunately, the deadline for recipe submissions is fast approaching (Friday, May 22! Yikes!) and they have yet to receive very many recipes. So, get out your culinary thinking caps and send your ideas in.

Click here for more information (http://www.rchs-pets.org/recipecontandcookbook.pdf)

Earth Day!

It takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of cow flesh, whereas it takes about 180 gallons of water to make 1 pound of whole wheat flour.

-Marcia Kreith, “Water Inputs in California Food Production,” Water Education Foundation 27 Sept. 1991.

Read more about environmental vegetarianism at the EtsyVeg Blog: http://etsyveg.blogspot.com/2009/04/environmental-vegetarianism_22.html

Small Random Acts of Animal Kindness – March

Re-blogged from: Small Random Acts of Animal Kindness – http://smallrandomactsofanimalkindness.blogspot.com/

March’s Selection – Grace the chihuahua

The first fur baby targeted for small random acts of animal kindness is Grace. She is a chihuahua who was rescued from a breeder. You can click on her link to see her – she’s smiling. I wish I could take her home. You can use the following link to see Grace, sponsor Grace, and even copy and paste it to pass it on.

Commit a small random act of animal kindness. Sponsor Grace
What is this? Small Random Acts of Animal Kindness


I commit small random acts of animal kindness and so can you. Sponsor Grace
What is this? Small Random Acts of Animal Kindness

Living with a meat eater

It seems that I’m the opposite from most of the EtsyVeg group members on this I think. It’s my wife who eats meat. I do prepare most of the meals (except rice… I can’t cook rice for some reason…), and I do prepare meat for her at times. But she’s very accepting and enjoys veggie and vegan meals, so most of our meals can be split evenly without me adding any meat. She does eat seafood (and I try to educate her about more sustainable options when it comes to seafood) and poultry a few times a week, especially when we go out, but I get her to eat veggie the rest of the week. Here are some things she loves that we make:

– We make a stir fry with zuccini and pepper (soy sauce + herbs too) and pour it over white rice (which she has to cook or I burn it) – we started making this last year when we were up to our ears in zukes and now we make it about every other week
– Veggie sushi (avocado, cucumber, pepper… I like it with apples in it, but I like everything with apples…)
– Sloppy Joes – Manwich brand is veggie (not sure if it’s vegan) but other brands Watch Out! (sardines! Yikes!) – make it with Morning Star Farms Crumbles and no one knows the difference!
– Portabella sandwiches – we go to a cafe sometimes that serves a fantastic portabella and roasted pepper panini… yum!
– A homemade version of the tofu lettuce wraps – we found a recipe online, it’s a little tough for us to make (we definitely aren’t chefs) but well worth it, and their better with romaine…

I do grill out many times in the summer, and I always grill fake meat for myself and real meat for everyone else (just remember, real meat on the bottom, fake on the top). I also grill corn on the cob, and everyone fills up on that and usually only wants one burger, except me, but mine don’t hurt cows, so I think it’s alright to have two… or three… And I always slice an apple into full-circle slices and grill some of those slices to eat while I’m grilling or to put on my burgers… have I mentioned that I like everything with apples?