Book Tour Diary: Week Six

Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5.

The weather in Manitoba was a great disappointment.  I read before we left that the prairies were experiencing a record heat wave, so I packed some T-shirts and spaghetti-strap tops to go with the handful of sweaters that I own, looking forward to nice fall weather.  Other than the day I was at Elemental Book & Curiosities, the weather was universally cold and windy.  I suppose one might say, “What did you expect?  It’s WINTERpeg!” but even the locals were surprised by the unseasonably cold weather.  After being cold enough to be concerned about my lung health for a few days, I seriously considered going to Value Village or the Sally Ann and picking up some warmer clothes.

So lo and behold, the night before we left, Dodie carried out a garbage bag and said that she was getting rid of these clothes because they no longer fit right; and I seemed to be the right size, did I want them?

So my collection of “Dodie gear” includes really beautiful, punky and hippie-type blouses, sweaters, and so forth.  How cool is that?  She says she felt better about getting rid of them too, because I loved them so much.

We got out of Winnipeg later than we intended, so we decided to do the last of our Winnipeg exploring on our own.  Inspired by Dodie’s suggestion, we went to check out the Manitoba legislature, based on the information that it was a Neo-classical Masonic temple.  And it certainly was!  I was thoroughly enchanted by the building, which combined an ironic sense of humour with Masonic and Western occult symbolism.  Instead of lions on the steps entering the building: buffalo.  Because it’s Manitoba.  And they’re intact bulls too; I checked.

And check this out: this is the pediment at the gable of the building.  Do you get the joke?


We interpreted it as an allegory of Canada.  See Lady Manitoba in the middle, being the coolest and most interesting?  (That’s fair; the geographical center of Canada is in Manitoba).  BC is on the left with its explorer’s ship wheel; Alberta is next to the mariner with the beef cattle; Saskatchewan is next with its wheat sheaves and lots of kids; then Manitoba; then Ontario with its fruit and farming, Quebec with the plow; and the Maritimes and their fishing industry.  There’s a much more flattering interpretation of this at Wikipedia, but I disagree; I’m pretty sure that Manitoba was gently poking fun at the rest of the country.  And I find it funny!  I think I’ll go with the rest of the interpretation offered by Wikipedia, except that the two sphinxes might also refer to the Chariot Tarot card and its accompanying Kaballistic symbolism.

Also, aside from the details offered by the Wikipedia entry, it’s clear to me as an occultist that the rotunda, above the Pool of the Black Star, is a holy temple, and the busts of Hermes can also be seen as the Guardians of the Watchtowers, whom I took a picture of.  The rotunda is directly above the Pool of the Black Star and directly below the dome, and would line up with the corners of the dome that represent the four elements (earth, air, fire, and water,) and their corresponding values as listed (which would be Agriculture, Science, Industry and Art respectively).  Also, it is clear when standing under the dome that the building is constructed in the form of the Kaballistic Tree of Life, with the Black Star as Malkuth (Kingdom, our earthly realm) and the top of the dome as Heaven (God); which is what our “Golden Boy” stands on overlooking the city.  Also, we think the Golden Boy is clearly Sol Invictus, or at least the reborn Christ or the child of the New Aeon, bringing light of reason and a new age.   I stood at the Black Star and spoke some words of invocation and magick at the base of the Tree of Life, letting the echo radiate out into the world.  What words I’ll keep to myself.  I think this building was absolutely fascinating and I’ll now shut up and let it speak for itself:

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From there we decided to take a detour northwards to see Lake Winnipeg, since we were so close, and we went to this wonderful Nordic town called Gimli, a nautical Icelandic community, now full of “Icekrainians,” the Icelandic/Ukrainian mixed offspring of the original settlers.  What a lovely place; if it were a nicer day, it would have been beautiful!  Jamie had boyhood memories of his dad taking him there when they lived in Winnipeg so he wanted us to see it; and the immense shores of Lake Winnipeg.  It was gorgeous!  They have an Icelandic festival every August long weekend; might check it out sometime and thought my heathen friends might be into it.  Last year they had a traditional runestone made, blessed and dedicated, or so said the local tourist promo magazine.  The pictures sure made it look like a lot of fun though!  Viking re-enactors and everything, along with traditional fishing games and a parade.

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We stopped off for lunch at this European style diner.  The prices seemed high but we thought, “ah, tourist prices,” and we were hungry so we sucked it up.  Turns out that you’re actually just paying for an immense amount of food!  Check this out!  I guess Vikings really like to eat:

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I think we were still eating it four days later. (I love my camper fridge and microwave!)

So we’re headed back West now, to our next stop in Regina, Saskatchewan, where we’ve spent the past week staying with my long-time friends the Zults.

Mike Zult is the “Lord Grunnar” mentioned in my dedication in my book; one of my first teachers.  He’s a Wiccan priest and a shaman.  The rest of the family are sort of eclectic Witches.  They moved from the Okanagan to Saskatchewan a few years ago and I’ve known the family for twenty years so I deliberately cleared my calendar to spend as much time with them as possible.  We settled in and enjoyed their company and got a little much-needed rest while I waited for the weekend, where I would appear at the Broom Closet Witchcraft Supply Shop.

Regina is full of surprises.  Admittedly, much of it looks like this:

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But there are some really beautiful neighbourhoods and old houses too, mostly laid out in an easy-to-navigate grid system:

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especially around the Saskatchewan Legislative Building, which I guess is undergoing a facelift on its dome.

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Also, there’s a lovely park, build around what I understand to be an artificial lake!  You could have fooled me!  So how cool is that?  Here’s some pics:

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Right next to the legislative building is the Saskatchewan war memorial:

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It’s a sobering thought: every place I’ve been there’s at least some small cenotaph, even in little bit towns in the Northern prairies that are no more than wide places in the road.  How many more of us would there be now, I wonder, if Canada hadn’t spent generations fighting for the Empire?

In the middle of a city with a reputation for being redneck heaven, there is a thriving Afghani and Somali community.  Associated ethnic restaurants were everywhere.  Unfortunately it appears to be fairly segregated; some areas were full of lovely brown women in hajib and lovely brown men in Western clothing; and some were entirely full of white people.  And some areas were full of First Nations people; I understand there are six major reserves in the Regina area, most of which are Cree.

One thing that a visitor needs to understand about Regina, however, is this:

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You see that license plate?  That is a provincially-sanctioned, official license plate; and when you buy this, your money supports the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the local CFL football team.  Everywhere you went you saw their logo, and the green shirt I received from Dodie was assumed to be “melonhead” support gear.  That stadium is their home base; I understand it’s in a pretty rough neighbourhood, but they’re getting a new one.

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I thought everyone was batshit crazy until I learned that the Western Conference used to be entirely owned by local clubs which pooled their resources to support their team (rather than private owners,) and the Roughriders are the last such club left.  So good on them!

We stopped in at the Broom Closet on Tuesday so that Mike could introduce me to Donna, the owner, and show me around.  So this has got to be one of the coolest stores I’ve been in yet!  First of all, in the middle of this industrial sector, does this look like the front of a metaphysical shop to you?

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Look closer:

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So then we went in.  To the background music of New Orleans jazz, blues, and zydeco, we saw this:

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I think I want to move in!  I got along with Donna right away and I bought myself a sugar skull ashtray for my Voodoo cigars, along with a package of horny goat weed.

The turnout at the book signing was huge!  I was surprised and pleased, and delighted to meet my sister CWA-Saskatchewan priestesses.  I had a great time and I sold out of books!  I hope to come back sometime soon.  They were great!

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We spent the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend with the Zults and the turkey was very good.  From here, it’s back West through Saskatoon to Edmonton and Sherwood Park and Red Deer.


~ by Sable Aradia on October 15, 2014.

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