Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day

Being an Earth path following witch, I celebrate the Earth for most sabbats, any time I go to my garden, even watching things on the Discovery Channel.  

I worship the goddess Gaia as the spirit of the Earth and mother goddess of all its inhabitants.  She is a primordial Greek goddess from whom many of the other Greek gods and goddesses were born.

Gaia isn't the only Earth goddess; almost all ancient peoples had some version of Mother Earth.  The ancients were connected to the Earth in every way, from morning until night.  And they knew that their very survival depended on that connection.

We still depend on a connection to the earth, but most people don't take the time to think about it.

In my work, I constantly pull from nature for inspiration and sometimes for natural materials.  And while Pagans like me tend to wear a lot of natural jewelry, we're far from the only ones who find beauty in shell, stone, and metal adornments.  Wearing natural jewelry gives us an extra connection to the earth that we can take into even the most artificial environments.

So Earth Day is both a joy and a peeve of mine.  I love the idea of a day dedicated to conservation of the natural world.  I love the idea of a day when people really think about this planet we call home.  I love the idea of people treating the earth like it's their house instead of their gigantic resource mine and garbage dump.

But why can't Earth Day be every day?  I'm certainly not the first person to advocate for this idea and I definitely won't be the last.  People are becoming more environmentally aware - the number of suburban Americans who I see bring their own bags to stores is proof of this.  Previously that seemed to be a "city thing".  People rush for the latest in hybrid technology for their next car.  But then there are oil companies that advertise their gasoline by talking about innovations in green technology.  There is still a huge section of the population that refuses to believe that humans are to blame for any part of the global climate change we've seen documented for decades.

So why can't we all take just a little time every day to give back to Earth since Earth has given us everything?

We can.

We can filter our own water instead of buying bottled.  We can carry washable aluminum bottles instead of plastic ones.  We can bring our own bags to the store and not mow the lawn or gas the car on Ozone Action days.  And we can take the time to notice the beauty of the natural world around us.

Millennium Gaia statue by Oberon Zell.  You can buy it here.
Natural Lava Rock bracelet can be found in my Etsy shop.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Who is Hedwig Graymalk?

I suppose the name Hedwig Graymalk sounds a little too literary to be my real name.  Which is fine, because it's not.  In general I don't like to use my actual name on the internet.  Safety is one reason.  As everyone knows, you never can be sure who is at the other end of the internet.

But where did Hedwig Graymalk come from, and why use a pseudonym for my Etsy shop?

Hedwig was my maternal grandmother's name.  She was never overly fond of her name, but even as a little girl I loved it.  At what ended up being her last Christmas she gave me a baby doll that I immediately named Hedwig.  Grandma died when I was only nine years old, so I never knew her as well as I would have liked.
Fast forward to the release of the first Harry Potter movie, and I finally caught on to the phenomenon.  Imagine my surprise and delight when, in the first book, Harry names his beautiful snowy owl Hedwig.  Finally I had proof that someone besides myself appreciated the name!

When 2004 rolled around and I moved in with my then-boyfriend (now husband), I needed a new AOL screen name/email address.  Yes, we still had AOL in 2004.  The name Hedwig was already taken.  And since I planned on using the name for a long time, I wanted something more unique than just Hedwig27 or something like that.  I decided to use the name of another beloved animal character from another favorite book almost as a surname.  I chose Graymalk - the smart and sarcastic gray cat from Roger Zelazny's A Night in the Lonesome October.  I mulled the name over for a few days since I was serious about keeping it and decided Hedwig Graymalk fit me perfectly, even if it is cumbersome as an email address.  And it has stuck.

So why, other than paranoia, don't I use my real name online, even on Etsy?

Mainly because there's another artist out there who has been using it since before I was born.  She's a writer, and if you were to search my given name a million articles about her would come up, but anything I put out there would have gotten swallowed up in her press.  So she's welcome to continue using our name, and to the internet world I'll remain Hedwig Graymalk.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


I'm a tornado geek.
I can't help it.  Even when I had a phobia of storms, I had a morbid fascination for tornadoes.  Every April when I was a kid the PBS stations out of Cleveland and Canton showed storm chasing specials and I would watch them, terrified and transfixed.  Since conquering my fear, I've become even more of a tornado nut.

They are rare.  They're destructive and deadly.  They're terrifying, unpredictable, and still not completely understood.  And they're beautiful.

Photo from

Even the storms that create tornadoes can be beautiful.  They're often back-lit by the afternoon sunshine that follows so many tornadoes.

The people who chase these storms and take the video and still photos of tornadoes have to be smart.  They have to try to be smarter than the storm.  Even though the proliferation of digital video and still cameras has made photos of destructive storms seem almost commonplace in the media, it's still rare(1) to see a tornado.

 Image from
 It's easy to be inspired by them, though.  The first book I read about tornadoes was Night of the Twisters by Ivy Ruckman.  It's a fictional tale that takes place during the very real April 3-4, 1974 tornado Super Outbreak.  Talk about good, old fashioned nightmare fuel for a kid who's afraid of storms.  But even it fed my fascination.  In 1996 there was the blockbuster movie Twister about a group of storm chasers and starring Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt.  While the movie is low on real science, it has fun characters and a lot of action and pretty good tornado special effects.

Photo from
 The result of tornadic inspiration for me has manifested itself in fun things.  For Christmas/Yule of 2008 I made a fellow tornado geek friend of mine a tornado tree ornament - complete with cows swirling around it.  And this spring, in anticipation of the arrival of tornado season, I made the first earrings in what I hope will be a line of tornado inspired jewelry that can be found in my shop.


1. In late spring and early summer of 2009 the first part of Vortex2, the followup study to Project Vortex, spent weeks without seeing a tornado.  This was a group of more than 100 scientists and 40 support vehicles wandering the most tornado-prone states in the US for five weeks with the single mission of finding tornadoes to study.  They had the latest technology and still only managed to find one tornado.  The 2009 tornado season was unusually quiet and this played a big part, but it's the perfect example of just how rare these wonders of nature are.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Why I Love Bracelets

If you look in my Etsy shop, you'll easily notice that bracelets are what I make the most of.  And for someone who makes and loves jewelry, I don't wear much of it. 

But I love bracelets.

You can wear a bracelet whether your ears are pierced or not (and mine aren't currently).  And bracelets don't have to "go" with your outfit the way a necklace often does.  You can wear a whole gob of bracelets or just a single one.

They're truly a mix and match accessory.

And when you run out of room on your wrists, there are always anklets! ;)

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Etsy Virtual Labs

It's Friday afternoon, so that means I'm in the Virtual Labs.

I've met some fantastic people in the labs. 

And oh thing things I've learned!  I've learned so much over the three months I've been attending them, that I can't keep up with all the great ideas for ways to improve my shop. 

  • How to take better pictures
  • How to make pictures look more interesting
  • How to decide what to charge for shipping
  • What I'm doing right and what I need to work on
  • Improving tags
The list goes on and on and on.  So if you're a fellow Etsy seller I highly recommend spending some time in the Virtual Labs!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Here We Go Again

I love to write.
However you wouldn't know that from my blogging history.

Now I have an Etsy shop, though.  So I feel like there's more to talk about.

This blog isn't all Etsy all the time.  It's from me, about me, and that just happens to include my shop.

Anyway... read back through my incredible two other blog posts here and I hope folks will come back for more.

~Hedwig Graymalk

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Thoughts on my magickal heritage

Growing up, I didn't know that my great-aunt Sophia was a Medium and read tarot. Well, actually she read a gypsy deck of cards, but according to my mom it was essentially the same. When my mom and her sisters were growing up, Aunt Sally, as we all called her, used to read their cards. This was hidden from my grandfather since he was a hardcore Baptist, and when he converted, he dragged the family with him. My sister and I were raised miscellaneous protestants. We started out in the Baptist church, but my mom wasn't keen on the local one, so we started going to the Presbyterian church across the street. My grandparents on my father's side were Methodists. For a week each summer, we stayed with them while we attended vacation bible school at their church. On the Sundays we didn't attend church of some sort, my mother would have a mini bible study with us. And even back then, when we weren't older than six or seven years old, my sister and I asked my mother some hard questions she couldn't answer. My sister (who is about a year and a half younger than I am) started searching for the right spiritual path for herself early. For a while she clung, almost desperately, to the Bible. I remember her giving me a hard time for a Moody Blues lyric that I really liked - "When I heard those guitars that I worshipped so..." - quoting the Bible about worshipping anyone or anything except the God of that book. She was probably 11 years old. In middle school my weirdo friends and I found a book somewhere about hexes. I don't remember if it was in the school library or if someone found it elsewhere, but we thought it was the answer to counteracting all the harassment we got. I wasn't 100% sure it was a good idea, but I remember "using" at least one hex on a basketball in gym class. It was a short-lived phase for the group of us, and we went back to listening to the Cranberries and Nirvana and wearing all the plaid we could get our hands on. Later, when my sister was in ninth grade or so, Wicca and general neo-paganism became a high school "thing" (it wasn't exactly a fad, but most of the kids were in it to rebel against the school and find some sort of community - whether they knew it or not). Movies like Practical Magic and The Craft fueled this, of course. But through all the hype, my sister found the spiritual path she'd been searching for for at least four years. Wicca didn't turn out to be right for her, and she left the coven she started out in because folks in it wanted her to cast the circle and the "leader" of the group (who had been one of my friends in middle school) was jealous, but being an eclectic solitary witch was right for her. When my parents (who had recently divorced) found out, they were freaked out. My mom, who was struggling with her own beliefs; her parents having died about five or six years before, saw it as something prophesied in the Bible - something about people returning to the old religions being a sign of the apocalypse. My father told her to get all her pagan stuff out of his house and he'd believe it was a "real" religion when she flew around the back yard on a broom. My sister was angry, and heartbroken, and it didn't help her severe clinical depression at all. Thankfully Mom stood up for her. She told my father that if pagan-related things weren't allowed in his house he had to get rid of the Christmas and Easter decorations. My sister's altar and books were allowed to stay. I was confused. Being her older sister, I had a tendency to look down on a lot of things she liked. And I found myself lecturing her about the Bible the way she had lectured me years before. It didn't help that she had started hanging out with "the wrong crowd" and was doing drugs at parties. To me the two things were totally related. I didn't bother to pay attention to the fact that her pagan friends and her drug friends were two completely different groups. Meanwhile, my grandmother had visited my mom during a dream. She wanted to talk to my mom, but was afraid to let my grandfather, who was nearby, hear what she was saying. Mom asked her what the afterlife was like, and Grandma told her not to believe everything she'd been taught. Mom was also having a hard time with the hypocrisy in the church that was becoming apparent to her over time. She wasn't exactly comfortable with my sister's religious choice, but she was much more accepting than Dad. Sis got a deck of tarot cards and Mom occasionally had her do readings for her. The fact that my mom was accepting of the tarot cards made them seem harmless enough that I had my sister do a couple of readings for me. I was blown away by how accurate they were. I wasn't sure if they were really telling the future or just helping me to look inside at what I already knew deep down but wasn't aware of, but either way they were right. Later, I had her teach me some pendulum work. Eventually over the years I became more comfortable with my sister's spiritual path. Mom, Sis, and I would have late-night conversations about our own personal philosophies and we learned more and more about my sister's religion. I finally decided at some point around 1999 that mainstream Christianity was not for me. My revelation came when I saw a news report about some Methodist council deciding that homosexuality was a sin - 100%. One of my coworkers was gay and she was the most giving, understanding, helpful person I'd met. She embodied everything I'd learned Christ had taught, and yet my religion (as I'd come to identify myself as more Methodist than anything else) was saying she was sinning against God with love. I was hurt, confused, and angry. I then set out on the quest that my sister had taken - looking for the right spiritual path... if it even existed. I considered the Jewish faith for a long time after finding and taking the Belief-o-Matic. I'd scored closest to Reform Judaism, but it still didn't quite fit. Eventually I started referring to myself as a "Pagan Reform-Jew for Jesus", since I liked certain things about those three paths. After all, I didn't think it was Christ's fault that 2000 years after his death groups had twisted his teachings. A little over a year ago, after a lot of thought and some philosophy classes, I realized that the things I still liked about Christianity weren't exclusive to the religion - love they neighbor, the "Golden Rule", etc. - not to mention all things in Christianity that originated with the old earth religions. That was when I approached my sister about good books about non-Wiccan neo-paganism. It was only after I decided that I, too, should follow the path of earth religions that I found out about our magickal heritage. Now my husband and I are exploring eclectic witchery and my mother is working on developing the psychic part of her mind. My father still doesn't understand my sister's path, but he doesn't give her a hard time. I haven't "come out of the broom closet" to him, but I do wear my pentacle around him. If he's noticed it, he hasn't said anything and he doesn't treat me any differently. I know this was rambly, but I've had this floating around in my head for a long time and wanted to get it down.