Category Archives: Crafting

Updates 2/15/17

“Have I awakened
Deep inside some madman’s dream?
This is not my country
This is not what I believe
Have I awakened
Deep inside some madman’s dream?
I can barely recognize
The place this used to be”

Assemblage 23 – Madman’s Dream

Good evening folks!

Well, it is evening here anyways. I cannot speak to whatever part of the world you may be reading this from. I just wanted to post a (hopefully) quick update blog, so you all can stay in the loop and read about all the exciting things I am working on.

Plus I needed another filler post here as I work to get another post with a little more substance ready…

So here I am, letting you know I haven’t forgotten about you all.

Okay, so here are some updates;

  1. I am coming up on the halfway mark on another manuscript. That’s approximately 35 -40k words for those of you playing the home game. I am working away on a cyberpunk/cybershaman type novel, and I have to say it has really been fun to write so far. I get to play with some pretty interesting topics; such as spirituality, sustainability, and how all that relates to technology. I also really enjoy speculating about what the world might look like in the not-so-distant future.
  2. I have announced it on Facebook, but I will relay that here as well. I have been accepted to write for Paganbloggers.com. Currently I expect that to start moving sometime in March, and I am really excited about this new opportunity. In addition, they are running an Indiegogo to help fund this new site for pagans, by pagans. You can check that out here!
  3. I have finished up editing the fifth book in the Elder Blood Saga. The final book in the series!  I will be getting the artwork for that started in the near future.
  4. I continue to do my best to grow and expand the shop! Have you checked out The White Wolf yet? The link is over there —> It is the home for my writing, crafting, and other work.
  5. Currently, I plan to start a 2+ year shamanic intensive in March. It seems to be the next step in my spiritual journey, and I am anxious/excited to take that next step.

I think that pretty much covers what is going on with me. There is certainly a lot going on in the world, and I’ve been doing my best to keep up with it all. I post a fair bit about many things over on my personal Facebook; not limited to science, spirituality, politics, the environment.. You know a lot of the things I talk about here.

I don’t want to go into that all too deeply here, especially the political bit. Primarily, this is not a political blog. I will delve into that from time to time of course, as it intersects with a lot of what I do talk about here. I think I could even make a fair argument that politics is part of the whole Anthropology thing, as it is concerned with humans; and politics is part of how humans govern one another. There is certainly a case to be made there, as well as topics such as building a sustainable civilization, religious freedoms, and the environment. Plus add the fact that I am sci-fi writer, so on occasion, politics does come up.

There is a lot to say on that front to be sure. The first month or so of the new administration in the US has been… overwhelming. I have been trying my best to keep up, but it seems like every hour something new is breaking. It is also fair to say that many of the things that are coming out of Washington trouble me deeply, and run contrary to many of my views. It just creates this baseline anxiety for me. I’m worried for myself, and my friends and family. Many of them fall into the “marginal” categories, and their rights will be the first to be questioned.

Needless to say, I am part of the resistance. I’m not a Democrat or a Republican, and I have serious questions for both parties. Another Republican in charge wouldn’t have bothered me as much as #45. I never thought I’d wish for Bush Jr back. But truly, the administration of #45 scares me.

But, I am both an optimist and a realist. I am an optimist because I believe that humans have so much potential. I am a realist because I realize the amount of work that it will take to get there. That is why I am trying to stay positive about all this, and inspiring and hopeful as I can. This does not means I don’t think the days ahead aren’t dark.

However #45 is a reaction to 8 years of Obama, and vI like to think that the counterreaction to this administration will be fierce; and the further it tries to push things, the more fierce that counterreaction will be. I also think we will have the opportunity to build a better world on the far side. A more global, interconnected, and sustainable world.

I like this Positive Reframe a fair bit.

But that doesn’t mean there is a lot of hard work ahead of us, and I won’t lie to you and say that work will be all unicorns and rainbows either. People are going to suffer under #45, good people. My people, and I will stand with them.

If you feel called to resist, do so. I will stand for our environment, for science, for my spirituality, and for minorities of all stripes. I don’t know at the current time how far this will go, but I will stand by my values all the same.

Here is a piece I like from Scientific American about resisting.

I particularly like this bit;

“His writings, which have been translated into dozens of languages and are available on the internet, describe a wide variety of tactics: worker strikes, student strikes, mass petitions, underground newspapers, skywriting, display of flags and banners, boycotts of goods, boycotts of sporting events, refusal to pay rent, withdrawal of bank savings, fasts, mock trials, occupation of government buildings, marches, motorcades, teach-ins, pray-ins, ostracism of collaborators, publication of names of collaborators, seeking imprisonment, formation of parallel government and mass disrobing.

Many of Sharp’s methods involve mockery, which the !Kung and other hunter-gatherer groups also employ against the swell-headed.”

Yes, I realize not all these actions are legal. It will be up to each and everyone of us to decide where our “Sacred Cows” are, and what we are willing to risk.

That said, by all means protest. March, rally, strike if you have to. Take a tip from the Natives at Standing Rock, and pray as well as protest. Write, make memes, share reputable news sources, learn the facts, make memes… Do whatever calls to you, and do it.

And hopefully the next world awaits…

 “Build me a future,
Splendid and graceful.
Make it better by design.
Perfected strategies, applied technologies.
A brighter future for a darker age.”

Vnv Nation – Streamline

 


Reflections and Meditations on 2016 Part 3

For this part, I really want to talk about a lot of things that are forthcoming. For lack of better phrasing, this will be the “what is next?” section.

There have been plenty of other exciting things going on as this year. I got two more books published, and I am really excited about that. There is another one coming in the beginning of the new year. The very last book in my Elder Blood Saga, the fifth book in the series. That book is in editing right now.

In the writing realm of things, I am aiming to publish two more books next year. The first I just mentioned, and the second is the start of a new series. It is a kind of “Michigan Werewolf” novel, a contemporary fantasy inspired by the work of Jim Butcher and Carrie Vaughn. I’ll start editing the first book of that series in the new year, and see how it goes.

There is definitely a lot of thoughts in that regard. With the new series comes new artwork, and I am still trying to decide how I am going to approach that. I have also considered approaching a smaller more “traditional” publisher. I will tell you folks, honestly being self-published is a lot of work. All the marketing, editing, writing, artwork & design, all that falls on me to coordinate. It is a lot of work for very little return. Still, I felt it was the best option for someone at my level.

There is also plenty of writing to do. This blog will likely go on hiatus soon while I start work on a longer project. There has been one rolling around in my head for some time, and another story not too far behind. I really wish I could do this full time. That would be swell. Ah, but I am dreamer after all.

Being an author these days is kind of rough, but there are also a lot of exciting new avenues people can explore. They each have their pros and cons to be sure, but I can honestly say that without things like Amazon and Createspace, I would not have any work published at this point in time. I have the rejection letters to prove it.

In many ways the market it changing. It pains me to say it, but it some ways the publishing industry has followed the pattern of the more general labor market. You know, the bit that says “entry level, must have 5 years of experience.” A lot of the “traditional” publishers I have approached are in business to make money, and so they like things that are already established, and this includes authors as well as plot line formulas. I am thinking about trying that route again, so I can focus more of my time on writing. I can maybe shift some of that weight off my shoulders.

Plus, as some of you may noticed, I opened my own shop this year. There has been a lot of work on that front, and plenty more still to go. There is a lot more learning to do, and each piece I make teaches me something. I am hoping in the coming year to expand into in-person vending. This year I was building most of the basic infrastructure for my shop. Next year, I want to expand on all that.

I am looking in to my options for that, comic cons (writing), bazaars, flea markets, anywhere that might give me an option to sell my work.

In a more general sense, there is a lot more I got to learn. I want to expand a lot of crafting skills, and try some new things. I also want to seek out some mentors to show me some new things I haven’t thought of just yet. There is plenty of studying to do.

This applies on a spiritual level as well. I mentioned in the first part of this post how I am largely self-taught (spirit taught?) in a lot of things. Still, in many ways I feel like I need more training; and I am not entirely sure where that is going to come from at the moment. One of the big reasons I am building the shop is partly because I feel a spiritual push to do so. It is something I want to do, yes; but there is also some outside pressure there. It is kind of two sides of the same coin. Where my personal desires intersect with those I work with.

And there is still so much to learn there. I want to go deeper, and I think this year has started that process. Where it goes I am not really sure yet. Still, what has been asked of me is substantial at this point. I am basically taking this one day at a time.

On another front, I think next year is going to get very interesting on a much more general scale. I already talked about the election cycle this year, and it really helped me to clarify a lot of my own positions on various issues. It has also been very depressing, mostly due to the fact that our new President-elect and his administration are pretty much openly hostile towards all the things I value the most.

So, in short, I think that the coming year will also be a year of resistance for people like me. Alone, I don’t have much in the way of power or influence. But I also know I am not the only one out there, that there are people that believe as I do.

I for one, have no interest in seeing all the progress we have made as a country tossed out. I want to preserve many of the hard won gains we have made, especially under the Obama administration. I for one, will fight to protect our environment, our basic Human Rights, our Civil Rights, and anything else I think that is worth defending.

Thanks for reading!

See you folks in 2017!


The White Wolf Lives!

Alright folks, after much delay, I am ready to announce my new project! Well, in fact it is a business!

nick_logo1

I am really excited about this, because it brings many wayward parts of my life together into one endeavor. Just for a taste, here are a few things I hope will come to bear fruit from this project.

  • Obviously, it will be a further home for my writing, and bring together many of these things in one central location.
  • It will hopefully help provide funding for future writing and research projects.
  • At the current moment, the forge and iron works is operational. This means that I will be able to provide material support for the pagan community, or really anyone that wants it. Stuff like this!imag0233
  • This project will draw heavily on my archaeological background, so it should come as no surprise that I will likely be trying my hand at replicating artifacts. Stone, wood, leather, iron and steel. Also, anything else I feel like. Stuff like this!imag0158
  • There are other parts of this project that are still under construction, and in the future I hope to expand into bowmaking, as well as general wood and leather work.
  • One of my main communities of focus would be the pagan community, and so I would be offering creations for mundane as well as spiritual reasons.

That is the short list of course, but I am hoping this endeavor will turn into more than this. For starters, I want this to be a “community support” project. This project is not all about me, so it would be a springboard for collaboration and support as well. Obviously, I would love to be able to make a living off my own projects, but this isn’t just about me. As such, provided everything goes well, I will be using some of the profits from shop to help support the community. Just as examples of few of these things might be;

*Help support artists and creators do their own work.

*Donate to causes and/or projects that support my values

Really, this project brings together my educational background, my writing, my crafting, and my spiritual life into one little endeavor. There is a lot of promise here, and I really am looking forward to what the future might hold. And I hope you might join me on the way.

For now, this blog will serve as the “homebase” for this project, along with the Facebook page. I will try not to crowd out my regular projects with a bunch of marketing, so I encourage you folks to follow the Facebook page, as well as the Etsy shop. That is where most of this endeavor will be taking place.

Check it out!

Facebook

Etsy


Skin Spirits, by Lupa; Some Thoughts

I have been reading through Skins Spirits by Lupa , and I have had some thoughts that I wanted to share on this book.

First off, if you have any interest of working with animal parts in a practical/spiritual manner, this book is HIGHLY recommended! Honestly, I can not praise this book enough. Reading through this book, I found myself saying “yes!” and nodding along at several locations, and it is a wonderful to see many of my thoughts reflected in Lupa’s well written read words. Skin Spirits was published back in 2009, and the impression I was left with after reading it was twofold; First, “where have you been all my life?!” and second; “why did it take me so long to become aware of this?!”

Yes, it would be safe to say I am a big fan of this book. But all the gushing and glowing aside, there are some very good thoughts, ideas and concepts well presented throughout this book that I really wanted to talk about here. I come at this book from my own walk in life, primarily as a hunter and an animist. In fact, I have been reading it mostly while out hunting (oh the irony!)

In the first chapter, she lays out the reasons for working with animal parts, and I wanted to briefly touch on these from my own perspective.

1) To Give the Spirits a better “Afterlife”

This reason is very important to me on so many levels. It is something I have to think about whenever I go hunting. As a hunter, I strive to make my kills as clean as possible in order to prevent suffering. Also, I am spiritually obligated to the animal after it is killed. Call it a “life debt”. I have to make sure the spirit is treated properly and with respect, and that, should the spirit desire to do so, that it makes it way into the keeping of its ancestors. Lupa just adds another layer to this, and further adds to my intellectual toolbox. It goes beyond just making sure the “core” spirit of the animal is properly cared for, but also the “partial spirit” that continues to reside in the remains. These too should be treated with respect.

In addition, I have been trying to learn more about leatherworking, and working with the remains from the animals I hunt. Lupa certainly presents plenty to think about in this regard, and I will continue to mull it over as I learn more about tanning, leather crafting, and working with animal remains.

2) To Connect with Spirits, Deities and Other Entities

Bones, feathers, skins and so forth can be used as ritual tools to connect with spirit of the animal, or as Lupa puts it, to the totem of that animal. To keep on point, this one is pretty straightforward. As Lupa presents it, skins and other animal remains retain a part of the spirit of the original anima, and this can be used as a connection to the spirit itself, or to greater beings that represent the entire species. For example, Lupa uses remains to call on the spirit she wants to work with, such as in dance or ritual.

3) To avoid waste and 4) aesthetic reasons.

As these two points are pretty straight forward, I won’t say much about them. To avoid waste in a big one, and basically comes down to the principle of recycling. It is important to me to use as much of an animal as I can, especially if it is one I killed. That is part of the obligation, but it all just makes good sense as far as conservation is concerned. Waste not, want not. The other point is aesthetics, where in we concede the point that animal remains have a certain look about them. “Tribal” “Primitive”, or “Shamanic”. My take away from Lupa’s book is that while remains can be aesthetically pleasing, we should have other reasons for working with animal remains for more than just the way they look. Afterall, we are just talking about lifeless hunks of material, but the beings that still are part of those remains. Beings that are worthy of respect, and that they should be treated as such.

The rest of the book covers things like ethical and legal concerns, more detailed information about working with skin spirits, as well as practical ways to create items from skins and other animal remains. I am glossing over these parts for several reasons; first, it would make this blog way too long for easy reading, and second and most importantly; it is not my place to recap the entirety of another author’s work. Out of respect for Lupa, and any author, if you want to read more about these things you will have to purchase the work. It is not my place to offer freely that which is not mine.

As such, I wanted to focus on a couple of other points. First, I want to talk a little about “fake” animal remains and the real thing. As Lupa points out, there are several reasons a person might not want/be able to work with the real thing. There could be ethical issues, legal issues, financial issues, as well as other reasons. The animal you want to work with may be extinct, or may not dwell on this plane of existence.

In my own case, I work with wolf spirits, and so I am not allowed to own anything that would in anyway sanction the killing of a wolf, even if it is legal. It’s a spiritual taboo, and as far as the spirits I work with are concerned, it amounts to kin killing. As such, in order to work with wolf, I do have a faux fur cloak. It originally started its life as part of a Halloween costume one year, and then turned into a ritual artifact.

However, as in my own case, I am aware of how environmentally unfriendly having such a pelt is. It takes petroleum to produce it, and it will practically never breakdown (a few thousand years or so.) As such, I never intend to replace it once it starts to fall apart, and I have resolved to use as much as I can until I can no longer do so. Basically, to reuse it as much as I can, and do my best to prevent it from ending up in a landfill. Lupa has a more recent post on fake furs, which is liked below.

The point being, that sometimes we have to turn to substitutes. I have been exploring other options such as smaller items and masks. I have a few wolf pendants, and because of Lupa’s book, I have also been exploring the idea of wolf-shed (made from the shedded fur of live wolves) artifacts. It may just be an option considering the taboos I am under.

Thanks for reading!

Sources/References

http://www.thegreenwolf.com/dear-fellow-artist-no-i-will-not-use-fake-fur-and-heres-why/

Skin Spirits, by Lupa.

Find it on her website at http://www.thegreenwolf.com


Updates 5/7/15

Hey there everyone! I must apologize to you all, as I have not been able to keep up with this blog lately. There are some really great posts on the horizon, but I have not had the time to write them up recently. Life has gotten a little chaotic, and frankly blog posts are low on the priority list.

The last couple of weeks have been hell on wheels. My wife’s car broke down, one of my credit cards came under fraud alert,mom’s birthday, and then at the end of it all, I got let go from my job. I found a new one, and it will pay the bills in the short term, but it has still been a lot to deal with.

Also, I have been wicked busy. I have am finishing up writing another book, and I am working towards republishing the second edition of Of Shadow and Steel. The new cover looks fantastic! I am really excited about this re-release. This book is going into the proofing stage, so it won’t be long now!

There are also blogs coming up with more environmental thoughts, and more work on the Kalevala as well.

But, with the short term panic of unemployment out of the way starting next week, I have started thinking about the future. Through unemployment, all the job hunting, and the ups and downs of it all, it really gets to you after a while. To realize that your home, your family happiness and comfort, all that is at the whim of someone else. It really got me thinking that maybe it is time to see if I can provide for my own financial well being.

I am no fool, so I am not just going to drop everything to chase a dream. But between my writing, and my crafting skills, there may be something there. I think it is time to start testing those waters, and maybe even make some extra money doing it. I am still exploring the feasibility of it all, but I think there may be something to all this. So stay tuned! There will be forthcoming updates!

So I just wanted to check in with you guys, and let you know I am not dead and have not forgotten about you.

Thanks for reading!


Updates!

I have been slipping a little bit with the regularity of these posts. So much so, that I think I have said something about ‘slipping’ for the last few posts. Well, it is still going on. Thankfully it is for a good reason, as my writing time is being spent elsewhere. I am making good progress on several edits, and am half done with another manuscript. In short, I am very busy, and the demands of a novelist and a blogger are a bit too much some weeks. Therefore, I tend to skimp on the blogging.

Though, I do want to say there is plenty of upcoming work. I will be starting a new (expanded?) series shortly, and will continue to work my way through the Kalevala. Also, I am working on a, or maybe a few, environmentally themed posts. There has been plenty of talk in the blogosphere, and I want to weigh in with my own thoughts. That is coming soon too. Also, I think my series for the FFA is starting to come to an end. There may be a few more posts, but I feel I have explored the areas that were really of interest to me, and so I will be putting it aside in the near future. Of course, there is nothing that prevents me from revisiting it in the future. You don’t just put aside a source of that caliber.

All in all, I have been really stupid busy. But aside from the writing, and the lack of blogging, the last piece for the forge has just arrived, so I return to metalworking soon. There is that to look forward too as well. Also I will begin work before too long for leather and bow making in my newfound garage. So there is that on the way too!

I just wanted you all to know that I have not died.


Upcoming Work… Input?

Ok, so this post is a break from the norm, and really I am just seeking input from my readers on forthcoming work.

The book I am currently working on is making slow, but steady progress. I have it roughly organized into sections, that may be broken down further into chapters. Currently, it is organized as such;

Section 1: Archaeology and History: The Oldest Stories. This section surveys the archaeology and history of Northern Europe, telling a broad narrative of some of my earliest ancestors, the hunters of the North.

Section 2: Genetic Genealogy: This section covers how I learned about my oldest ancestors, and tips and advice to do the same.

Section 3: Traditional Genealogy: How I found about my documented ancestors, and tips and advice to do the same.

Section 4: Work in progress. Currently a jumble of animism and shamanism. Assorted bits about ideology, beliefs and worldview. I am working on breaking this section up to talk about working with spirits and ancestors, animals, plants, and things from my own experience. Might be some on hunting too.

With spring just around the corner, I am thinking a lot about the setup of my new garage/workshop. I have plans already for new leather projects, new metal work, and woodwork as well. Most of the things I have planned would be more functional than aesthetic, things I might actually use in the field. Knives, bows, bags, satchels, that kind of thing.

Also, more pictures. This blog is so black and white…

I plan to write about all these things as they develop. I was just wondering what my readers thought? Things you would like to see? Comments on the book outline? Anything?