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