Book Tour Diary: Week Five

Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, and Week 4 can be found at these links.

Leaving Kinuso was difficult for me, since I enjoyed my time with my friend Tamara so very much, but it was time to move on.  We said reluctant goodbyes and therefore got out late.  Our morning was cheerful enough, driving along through the beauty of Northern Alberta and the Slave Lake region, then down along the Yellowhead Highway into Saskatoon.  The scenery was spectacular, and we took turns driving, but the strain of the road started to get to us in the long drive.  We knew it was going to be eleven hours, but it turned into about thirteen with long stretches of nothing.  I didn’t get a picture of it, but in the beautiful rolling hills full of birch trees (huge sections of which are scarred from the forest fires a few years ago) we saw an enormous bald eagle and a whole lot of ravens feeding on a roadkilled deer on the side of the road.  Plus a very lot of migrating Canada geese; the sizes of the flocks in the prairies are mind-boggling.  We took these things to be good omens.

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We stopped in Lloydminster, which is an interesting city; half of which is in Alberta and half of which is in Saskatchewan (keep in mind that our provinces are the size of large countries).  The border is where those red pillars are located.  We got gas and stopped to pick up some necessities (like underwear,) and also to get a new cord for the camera (since I seem to have forgotten mine at home, which meant I couldn’t access all of our pictures) along with a new DC adapter to replace the finicky one we had with a short in it.

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The drive was lovely.  We passed through Elk Island National Park and saw a whole herd of bison (buffalo) grazing casually along the side of the road.  You know, history books don’t impress on you how damn big those huge furry cows are!  Wow!  I think they were the size of the RV.  I had never seen a bison before and was delighted by the experience.

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We finally arrived in Saskatoon after ten o’clock.  Fortunately our friends Mike and Erin were just getting back from a show of animatronic dinosaurs.  They fed us curried rabbit stew from Erin’s own rabbits that she breeds for meat, softened us up with Mike’s homemade mead, and introduced us to Erin’s lovely creepy pets; spiders and lizards and scorpions (though the scorpions were hiding and declined to introduce themselves.)  The pride of her collection is Valsharess, the big black tarantula with the salmon coloured stripes in the pictures.  They almost had to take away my nerd card; it took me until the following morning to remember why that sounded familiar and what it meant!  Great name!

Mike is a sort of eclectic Norse Pagan.  Erin is exactly my kind of weird.  She’s a hedgewitch and she is also a speculative fiction writer; she’s about to be published with On Spec Magazine!  I was impressed because they’re hard to publish with.  We kind of moved in the same circles when they lived in Vernon, but didn’t hang out much, largely because we were both so busy organizing things that we never had time to just visit and relax.  But I don’t know anyone else who keeps a household apothecary to work with and dead butterflies because they’re pretty, aside from myself.  I’m going to have to spend more time with them in the future!

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I took advantage of their foot massager and their bathtub, and after that and the food I felt much better.  I also snooped through their book collection.  I have written before about a book that I found when I was ten that was an astronomy book, but it had pictures of the Roman deities associated with the planets in it; and I fell in love with Diana and decided to pray to Her instead.  They had it; I included pictures.  And I see that I also fell in love with Venus, who my friend prayed to, as the Star Goddess.

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We only stayed overnight unfortunately; we were required to be at Divine Goddess for a talk and book signing at noon.  Amber has a lovely little store full of life and colour, supported by a burgeoning community of mostly women celebrating the Divine Feminine in themselves and each other.  I had a wonderful organic discussion with the ladies there about consciousness-raising and magic and one of the women there, who was First Nations, told me that this was where Idle No More had begun (a movement I approve of).  I was intrigued because the store community has a close relationship with the owner of Positive Passions, where they teach positive and sacred sexuality; a subject that interests me.  I wish I’d had time to check out her store too!  This is a beautiful little oasis in the heart of Saskatoon and they have a neat, not so little coffee shop across the street.  I bought some incense and we moved on, because we had to be in Winnipeg that night so that we could make our house concert in the evening, and already knew we were going to be arriving at stupid-o’clock.  But I enjoyed Divine Goddess thoroughly and the next time I’m in Saskatoon, I’m going to make a point of staying longer!

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We headed out to Winnipeg at about dinnertime.  The sunset was beautiful on the prairies and I took lots of pictures.  The terrain along the Yellowhead Highway 16 is lovely pastoral prairie; kilometers of agricultural land and pretty little towns.  But the new adapter we’d picked up in Lloydminster didn’t work and I needed to get some computer stuff done.  I was very frustrated and my frustration got on the guys’ nerves.  We snapped at each other pretty badly.  Also, we didn’t eat when we left, intending to find a bite in Yorkton, SK, where we were stopping for more gas.  But the place is full of construction it didn’t bother to tell Google about, so we got thoroughly lost and ended up heading down the Highway 10, running out of gas, towards Fort Qu’Appelle.  This place is where my car was trashed when I went to Montreal in 2010, so I had no interest at all in dealing with it.  By the time we got out of there none of us wanted to try to find food, so we said “the hell with it!” and carried on.  We shouldn’t have done so.  It was a miserable, bitchy ride.  By the time we got to Winnipeg we were exhausted.

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Fortunately my friend, Dodie Graham McKay, whom I’d gotten to know at the Canadian National Pagan Conference Gaia Gathering in Montreal in 2010, didn’t mind us arriving at stupid-o’clock in the morning.  We wedged ourselves into her back alley, plugged in the camper and passed out.

Dodie and her husband Jeff McKay are professional film-makers and Jeff was off on a last-minute shoot so we were one more aspect of chaos in the already chaotic situation.  Dodie is an Alexandrian initiate and we enjoyed the opportunity to talk about initiatory craft together.  She writes for the Wild Hunt blog and she’s the maker of the documentary “The WinniPagans.”  An interview with her will be appearing on my 49 Degrees column later this month.

Their home was full of the lovely subtle Pagan elements that I am beginning to believe characterize BTW witches, film posters, and in quiet, subtle corners, their awards.  They also have a spectacular temple room full of antlers and beautiful witchiness (sorry, no pictures; I didn’t feel it was appropriate) and a lovely open living room that was perfect for the house concert we’d set up for the evening; which was why it was so imperative we actually be in Winnipeg the night before, rather than staying one more night in Saskatoon.  Snooping through her bookshelf I discovered that Jason Mankey had written a book on the Horned God, which I didn’t know about, so I guess I’ll have to pick up a copy!  I liked his plain-spoken introduction.

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I seem to be drawing animals to me on this trip; I guess they sense I’m missing mine.  I kibitzed with her normally anti-social cat Rottie and her loveable and wise-looking dog Oben.  I’d have taken them home if I could have, I think.

Prior to the concert Dodie took us on a quick driving tour of Winnipeg, particularly through the old stomping grounds where Jamie grew up.  I’d never been before and I have to say, I love this city.  There’s such a juxtaposition of elements: old and new architecture and housing, stuff that I recognize as Eastern and Western Canadian influences, and a strong socialist tradition.  I took way too many pictures.  Dodie praised the old houses and buildings and lamented the policies of their current Conservative Mayor, who made what used to be a free zoo in the public park unaffordable for the average person and made some very unpopular infrastructure decisions.  We saw the famous sacred white buffalo in the Winnipeg zoo; isn’t she beautiful?

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Now the monstrosity in the next picture is the Museum of Human Rights; but it’s very controversial because our Prime Minister Stephen Harper refuses to acknowledge what happened to our First Nations people as genocide.  Certainly it was a cultural genocide, and I don’t know how to feel about it if that’s not included.  We didn’t go in.

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In the evening we commenced with the house concert.  A witch’s dozen showed up and we all had a good time!  I got the opportunity to meet a few of Dodie’s covenmates and I thought they were all a fun bunch of people.  They seemed to all have a good time and we had a marvellous social afterwards, including a great discussion about the ridiculousness of some BTW types who want to deride the lineage of others and about the benefits of initiation.  I learned from one of the cool people I met there that Juniper Jeni had taken the sacred flame I’d lit from my Brigidine flamekeeping sisterhood’s wick from Kildare out to Ontario, and now the cult of Brighid’s flame has spread all over the country!  I will have to tell our founder, Casey Wolf; I think she’d be delighted.

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The following day I went to my friend Dominique’s metaphysical shop Elemental Book and Curiosities, which is just down the street from where I was staying with Dodie.  I signed a few copies of my book and then I did a short workshop.  I made some friends and enjoyed speaking with some very interesting people!  Dominique is the current Chairperson for Gaia Gathering so we talked a lot about the upcoming conference in Edmonton in 2015, and also about the music anthology I’m putting together for a fundraiser.  I hope to post an interview with her too at some point.  We also discussed the commonalities between witchcraft and ceremonial magick, since we both have some background in each, and she presented a theory about the balance of energies and the risks of working with unmitigated elementals that I thought made a lot of sense.  She has some excellent hard-to-find books there; I picked up a copy of The Goat-Foot God by Dion Fortune.  Definitely Elemental and Where Faeries Live in Edmonton have to be among the witchiest shops in North America.

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During this time Jeff came home.  After the workshop I got to meet him briefly (nice guy, liked him a lot) and then we went out for dinner at a marvellous Vietnamese and Chinese restaurant and called it an early night not too long after, being exhausted from all the activity.  Then we drove around a little more of downtown Winnipeg and toured the old heritage buildings and the monstrosity they call the Cube Stage.

That takes us to the end of Sunday and therefore the end of Week Five, so I will write about what else happened in Winnipeg in the next entry.

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~ by Sable Aradia on October 11, 2014.

3 Responses to “Book Tour Diary: Week Five”

  1. I’m really enjoying this travel journal. Good job on it and good luck with the rest of the tour. Say hi to Erin for me.

  2. […] Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5. […]

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