All posts by jodilee

Jodi has been writing and editing professionally for the better part of a decade, dividing her time between her own WIPs and those of her clients via numerous outlets. Her work has appeared in Apex Digest, The Beltane Papers, The Blessed Bee, newWitch, Noneuclidian Cafe, Nocturnal Ooze, Night To Dawn and the Michelle Belanger-edited collection, Vampires - In Their Own Words. Her short horror has been included in the anthologies Echoes of Terror (Lachesis Publishing), Fried! Fast Food, Slow Deaths (Graveside Tales), Parasitic Thoughts (The Parasitorium Group), Tainted (Strange Publications), and The Black Garden (Corpulent Insanity). She has several new pieces coming out in late-2009 to early 2010 (magazines, anthologies). Currently she’s publisher and editor in chief of Belfire Press and The New Bedlam Project.

The Lion Roared

bloodiedquill

I’m just sneaking this under the wire for my day at the blog… family issues came up and I’ve only just arrived home. Still, I wanted to get this story up for you all, and I certainly hope you enjoy it!

It has some disturbing and violent pieces, so I’m placing it behind a cut, if you’d rather not read a creepy-kid horror story… 😉
Continue reading The Lion Roared

Springtime? April Fool’s!

bloodiedquill

Now I’m not saying that it’s going to dump a foot of snow on anyone in the next 36 hours, but I am saying a large chunk of North America saw March come in with a lamb’s breath… and those of us ninnies that follow old wives’ tales like baby ducks know that means March is going to go out like a lion.

Here in southern Manitoba, the sky is clear, there is a nice breeze and most if not all of the snow has melted, leaving large puddles for the young ones to splash in. And it has been warm enough to splash without parkas! Sadly, my teenagers were splashing in the puddles so I know. All too well. Teenagers splashing in puddles are far more messy than toddlers, I’ve found.

Old wives’ tale or not, there does seem to be some truth behind it. March in the northern hemisphere has extremely changeable weather, it’s just common knowledge. I know of two old wives’ tales (besides the lamb and the lion) that my grandmother used to recite every year. It seems they play out, every year, too.

March winds bring April showers to help grow the young May flowers.

If it rains in March it will rain in June.

I know the origin of April Fool’s is not related to the Lamb/Lion tale, but really, how could one not see the correlation? Who doesn’t become relieved that winter is over, pack away the winter gear after weeks of sunshine and warmth, only to be fooled on April 1st (or thereabouts) by snow and ice? April Fools!

I’ll be back later today to share my Lion and Lamb story with you!


Jodi Lee is publisher and editor in chief of Belfire Press and The New Bedlam Project.

Rural Vs. Urban?

bloodiedquill

What does being an urban pagan mean to me? I honestly can’t say, because I’d only lived in the city for 18 months before moving to a rural area again. At the time I lived in the city, I was so far into the broom closet, I was practically in the neighbor’s apartment. I did find having access to many books through a very large library system exhilarating, particularly since – at the time – the rural library I was a member of wasn’t able to put anything but books on Christianity on the shelves.

A few years after I came out here, I exited the closet and became very public and very vocal. That didn’t sit well, more so with the urbans than the rurals. Who was “I” to speak for “them?” I wasn’t planning on speaking for them, I was speaking for myself and my grove and our choices. I would not think to speak for others when they have voices of their own.

I have a long-standing dislike for city pagans in my area. Not all of them, I suppose, but having been looked on as a country bumpkin, a know-nothing nobody, an interloper (yes, that word was actually used when I began organizing non-urban festivals and open circles) and not taken seriously simply because I choose to live outside of the city by their majority, I have cut all ties to them.

It’s not for lack of trying to participate. In 1999, I attended an open to the public event for Beltaine, and my companion and I were totally ignored by the ‘regulars,’ approached only by other folks who were new. When it seemed as though only a small handful of people were going to step up to help dismantle the Maypole, my companion and I stepped up and helped. I should say – attempted – to help. Within five seconds of our approach to the pole, laying our hands on it to help steady it as it was brought down, a woman I came to know as part of the circle of disdain screeched that we should not be allowed to touch the pole. I’ve never attended that particular event again.

I did try to become involved after I signed on with Pagan Pride in 2000. We invited city folks out to meet with us, and their immediate reaction was contempt, and a demand that we allow them to make decisions and have the initial event in the city. We refused politely, and most of us were snubbed from then on. A couple of us went out of our way to attend circles and gatherings in the city, only to be turned away at the door. Our group held our event to the constant complaints of the city people who demanded that the next one be held in the city, and several of our members were ripped off by ordering items from the city vendors which were never produced later on, and no refunds were given or even offered. The pot-luck dinner was scorned by them, and they brought in their own meals from Subway. The non-perishable food donation (which DID go to THEIR food bank) had five items from those seventy-five people. The rest of the items were from our group alone.

At our last event, I refunded table rental money to two vendors because we’d ended up boycotted (I refused to move an event meant for local people to the city, and was then told no one would come out) and only fifty or so people from the local towns came out.

At one point, after having been scammed out of money I couldn’t afford to support a group in the city that hosted a national gathering (I purchased fundraiser items that were never sent), I very nearly cut ties with everything pagan except my group and my family. Those city people were in fact the main reason I left Pagan Pride in 2007 (yes, there were other reasons). When I was verbally assaulted by a member of the planning committee for that national gathering over whether or not I (at the time I was the national director for Canada) should be on a panel specifically for Pagan Pride, that was it.

I quit.

I got tired of trying to fit in with them, of trying to change myself to suit them, of even making an attempt at being civil. Recently, I realized I’d set myself to ‘no-mail’ on all the pagan groups I belonged to, except two which are run by pagan elders in the US. When I had to change my mailing address, I unsubscribed from all of them. I’d been on no-mail for at least two years, and hadn’t missed a thing.

Sadly, my encounters with the urbans have soured me – as if that wasn’t obvious – and I have made the conscious decision to not mingle outside of our group anymore, at least offline. Should we have any interaction with other pagans, it’s usually those that are also in our area, most of whom have also experienced what we have. This works for us; we’re rural, and we like it, ladybugs, big bonfires, green grass and all.

Please consider helping to support The New Bedlam Project by checking out a list of gently used pagan books for sale on my blog: Downsizing to Your Benefit?


Jodi Lee is publisher and editor in chief of Belfire Press and The New Bedlam Project. Her writing has appeared in several recent anthologies as well as magazines on and offline for the past decade. Having shelved her first novel for the time being, she is currently working on two novels set in the fictional town of New Bedlam.

All That Dies Shall Be Reborn

bloodiedquill

Hoof and horn, hoof and horn
All that dies shall be reborn
Corn and grain, corn and grain
All that falls shall live again.

I never thought I’d be saying those words for a close friend who was not that much older than myself. James passed through the veil on January 17th at the age of 41. A healthy, active man for most of his years, it came as a huge shock to all of us who knew him.

I met James in December of 2003 on the advice of a mutual friend. He and I hit it off and began a relationship that never quite might it into fully romantic. We shared some common interests but the spark just wasn’t there. I was still hooked on someone else, really, and thankfully James was understanding about it. He helped me get through that loss by listening, by being there with a shoulder to cry on, by making me dinner and helping clean out two huge closets that contained a lot of miscellaneous crap from my marriage and past relationship. He helped me move on, just as much and in some ways even more so, than anyone else. He was the first one to step up and put paid to my never-ending divorce by rounding up some others and holding a ritual the night before I was to appear before the judge.

I introduced him to another friend, Mel. Despite a slight difference in their ages, they did hit it off, and she moved to BC when he got a job out there. They married secretly in 2006, a ceremony performed by a Justice of the Peace with only the secretary and a passerby as witnesses. Swept her off her feet, he did. Mel has always said (and I tend to agree) that their spur-of-the-moment elopement was extremely romantic. The pair of them introduced me to S. not long after and that began a complicated long distance relationship that to this day I still hold very dear and still haven’t quite figured out.

Later that same year James, Mel, S. and myself formed a writing circle under the pseudonym Rhada McKai. At the present time we have one novel and a handful of short stories that were in the ‘Work in Progress’ file. When Mel is ready, we’ll talk about continuing our work in James’ memory. For now, Rhada’s only appearance will be in Courting Morpheus (currently in progress for publication with Belfire Press).

The wake and passing ritual were held Sunday night, and memorial service on Monday. S. recited a poem by Mary Frye used at both pagan and Christian ceremonies alike:

Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

As I lit my candle last Monday after receiving word of James’ passing, I spoke the following words, which began the healing process, and I hope helped give comfort during his passage to the Otherworld.

Nephthys, carry James swiftly and gently to your realm. Hold him as dear to your heart as we here have held him as dear to ours. Give him the strength to meet the next life with happiness and health. So Mote It Be.

James’ favorite novel was Watership Down. I ended my personal blog with this same phrase, finding it fitting for one such as he.

My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today.


Jodi Lee is publisher and editor in chief of Belfire Press and The New Bedlam Project. Her writing has appeared in several recent anthologies as well as magazines on and offline for the past decade. Having shelved her first novel for the time being, she is currently working on two (or three) novels set in the fictional town of New Bedlam.

My Favorite Yule Treats

bloodiedquill

In years past, my mother, grandmother and I would do vast amounts of dainties; from miniature butter tarts to easy as a breeze no-bake cookies, at least 1200 treats graced the tables between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. Nothing like homemade butter tarts, trust me! 😉

I promised my girls I wouldn’t do the crazy cooking that the rest of the family does, and would stick to a few of our most favorite. I imagine everyone has these in their cookbooks, but today’s my day to blog, so you’re getting them again. LOL

Peanut Butterscotch Slice

Ingredients:

½ c margarine
1 c peanut butter (smooth or chunky, your choice)
1 pkg Chipits butterscotch baking chips
125g mini colored marshmallows

Directions:

In a large microwave safe container, melt margarine and peanut butter together. Stir in butterscotch chips, returning to microwave for a few seconds if need be. Stir until smooth, then add the marshmallows. Turn out into 5×9 baking dish, cool and slice.

A wonderful variation on this, is switching the butterscotch chips with chocolate chips, and colored marshmallows with plain. We always make a double batch of each!

Cheater Fudge

Ingredients:

1 can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
1 pkg. chocolate chips

Directions:

Melt milk and chocolate chips together, pour into 5×9 baking dish, cool and cut into small squares.

Brown Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

2 c flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1/c butter
½ c br. Sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp cream

Directions:

Blend 1 cup flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Beat sugar, butter and egg together, slowly blend in cream. Stir in flour mixture, slowly add remaining flour. Chill several hours.

Roll out to ¼” thick, cut with cookie cutters, and back at 375° for approximately 8 minutes. These can be decorated with colored sugar before baking, or iced with royal icing after they’ve cooled.

Traditional Rolled Shortbread

We’ve used these as ‘cakes’ during cakes & ale at our Yule circles.

Ingredients:

1 c butter
1 ¼ brown sugar
2 ½ c flour

Directions:

Mix ingredients together until well blended. Chill for 1 hour, or overnight. Roll out to ¼” thick, cut with cookie cutters. Bake at 300° for 30-35 minutes. These can be decorated with colored sugar, red or green maraschino cherries or pecan halves pre-baking, or iced with royal icing after cooling. We just eat ’em plain!

No-bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients:

½ c margarine
2 c sugar
½ c milk
3-4 tbsp cocoa
2 ½ c oatmeal
½ c shredded coconut

Directions:

Bring first four ingredients to a boil, and maintain boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in oatmeal and coconut. Immediately spoon onto wax paper using a teaspoon, allow to cool. They should harden while the cool, but if they don’t, carefully place them in the fridge for a half hour.

Woodticks aka Nut n Noodle Drops

See, I always knew these no-bake cookies as Woodticks (actually, these or the oatmeal ones described above were often referred to as Woodticks). It wasn’t until I was much older and asked about Nut n Noodle Drops at a friend’s that I found out most people aren’t so morbid as to name their cookies after a bloodsucking parasite. Oh well, they’re tasty, and the kids’ll love to make ’em!

Ingredients:

1 pkg chocolate chips
½ c peanut butter
2 c chow mein noodles
1 c spanish peanuts

Directions:

Melt chocolate chips and peanut butter in microwave safe bowl (about 2 minutes, but watch it closely!), and stir in noodles and nuts. Drop on wax paper-covered cookie sheet, and allow to cool overnight in the fridge.


Jodi Lee is publisher and editor in chief of Belfire Press and The New Bedlam Project. Her writing has appeared in several recent anthologies as well as magazines on and offline for the past decade. Having shelved her first novel for the time being, she is currently working on two (or three) novels set in the fictional town of New Bedlam.

Interested in some horror for the holidays? Pre-order Courting Morpheus, the anthology set in New Bedlam! Featuring the works of MR Sellars, Camille Alexa and more, the stories explore the insanity that builds as Morpheus is busy elsewhere…

Tell us you read about us here, and we’ll refund your shipping costs!
(Offer only valid until December 21st, 2009)

Christmas Past, Yule Present

bloodiedquill

It was less than a week following Samhain, in 2000. My girls were clamoring for the Christmas tree to be put up, and presents to be put under it. Amazingly enough, once told that it was still seven weeks before Christmas and that was a long time to wait and not open those presents, they relented. Just a little…

I didn’t want to think about Christmas yet – I have a huge extended family, and we try to get everyone together at Christmas. That year, it was mine and my mom’s turn to coordinate the festivities, and I frankly hadn’t wanted to think about it since the year before (don’t ask-long story). It was always somewhat difficult explaining my differing beliefs to some of the cousins and their spouses…and pointing out pagan practices in modern Christmas traditions just doesn’t go over. So, we three say our blessing, and those that understand do, those that don’t…well, they are a tolerant bunch. That’s maybe why I love em so much.

I also didn’t want to think about Yule, which also meant trying to work in celebrating our wedding anniversary, as well. Little piece of advice for people considering marrying at Yule. Don’t. Just…don’t. It’s insanity, I tell you! (It may sound cynical, but I’m really glad most times, that I no longer have to work in an anniversary around Yule circle and Christmas preparations, LOL)

The second week of November was chillingly cold here. That Monday, both girls woke feeling a little under weather, and Rhia didn’t have a fever, her sister had a slight one and some mysterious marks on her face. I had been up all night getting some articles done and working on formatting a novel for editing. I was tired, my eyes were terribly sore from staring at the computer for six hours, and I was just slightly grouchy, too. Care ended up in tears as her temperature rose and her tolerance for anyone dropped. Rhia had (and still has) little patience for anything in the morning, and decided she was going to school to get away from her sister. Sibling rivalry overcomes the blahs of winter.

We got her off to school, and waited to hear from the nurse’s office as to whether or not we should take Care in to be checked out. When 10 AM rolled around and they hadn’t phoned I figured I’d go to bed, and Care and her father could fend for themselves. I wasn’t too worried about her – she’d had two mild cases of Chicken Pox before that, and that’s what this looked to be as well. But why did I leave Daddy in charge of a little girl who knows how to pull the sympathy strings? Lack of foresight perhaps. Or exhaustion. I claim holiday insanity!

My alarm rang at 2:30 PM, and I stumbled from the bedroom rubbing the sleep from my eyes and mumbling something about coffee. A further lack of foresight kept my eyes closed – after all, I could navigate the room in pitch darkness, why not with my eyes closed? Something prickly hit first my legs, then my face as I made intimate acquaintance with our tree. The two Yuletide culprits were sitting silent on the chair, hoping I wouldn’t notice them or the slightly guilty looks on their oh-I’m-so-innocent faces.

Goddess knows where I summoned the smile from, but I managed.

While the two of them washed the ornaments and garland (they’d met with a nasty accident involving a hot water tank, a broken pipe, and a wrench thrown in frustration against the low table they were stored on), I made myself extra-super-strong coffee, sat down with Yule – A Celebration of Light and Warmth by Dorothy Morrison. I hoped that would inspire some warmth and holiday spirit within my own spirit, and it did. After dinner that night, as the girls decorated the tree with the shiny clean ornaments, and lamented the loss of the musical lights (note: water and musical lights don’t mix; no, I was not disappointed in the least LOL), I sat writing an entire gift list for my family, with ideas from said book. The crafts and activities in the book are wonderful, and I highly recommend them for those celebrating Yule with families that generally celebrate Christmas…

* * *

What a difference almost a decade makes! My grandparents are both gone now, and our family has scattered to the four winds, it seems. The girls have grown up and as of today (December 16th) we still do not have a single decoration up to indicate it is approaching Yule, let alone less than a week away.

In our defense, we are awaiting arrival of a particular tree – The Nightmare Before Christmas Tree – featuring Jack Skellington and all his little friends. Still, we could have at least made a start on the decorating with lights and other ornaments. It seems as though the girls have, for the most part, lost interest in the holiday. They are at that age, you know the one. Mid-teens. Everything is just ‘too much work’ or ‘stupid’ and Goddess forbid they spend time with their family! How uncool!

I think we’ve finally hit on a mutual agreement. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with this time of year since I was a mid-teenager, too. I love seeing some of my family, but I hate crowds; I love shopping for gifts, but hate crowds; I love seeing the Christmas lights in town, but hate crowds – I think you’re getting the picture. This time of year has been filled with guilt and uneasiness for me since I was a teenager, due to maternal influences I still to this day, am trying to shed. For the years of my relationship with my now-ex-husband, it was a battle between choosing between he and my family. They rarely extended an invitation for him to join us, and even though I took it upon myself to do so every year, he refused to go more often than not, because they made him feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. I dreaded the yearly fight, and it wasn’t fair – our wedding anniversary was also Yule, and not once was it acknowledged by my family. Christmas, Yule and the anniversary, marred yearly by an immature family unable to release control of anyone else’s life.

This year, my daughters have the opportunity to meet their paternal grandmother, aunt and uncles for the first time. They are both looking forward to celebrating the season with a family that is hopefully less dysfunctional than the one they’ve known all their lives. Honestly, I’m hoping that will be the case, despite and regardless of my mother’s reaction to the news that she may have to share her granddaughters at Christmas. She was livid. Too bad. For the second time in 16 years, she does not get to dictate when and where, and I will not allow her to guilt the girls into changing their minds about spending time with their other family. It should be a happy time for them, not made uncomfortable by a guilt trip from grandma.

My one respite from this has always been Yule with my grove. Glas Celli was formed at Litha in 2001, but we knew each other for a year prior. This will be our ninth Yule as friends, and eighth as a grove. It’s always been a happy celebration for us, just a sense of togetherness, celebrating the rebirth of the God, the battle between Oak and Holly kings. A warm and happy time.

Home and heart. That has always been our focus with Glas Celli at Yule, and I think it should be the focus of this holiday season universally. As long as there is food on the table, love in our hearts and friendship to share, who needs baubles, bangles and bobs?

Exactly.

Happy Yule, everyone!


Jodi Lee is publisher and editor in chief of Belfire Press and The New Bedlam Project. Her writing has appeared in several recent anthologies as well as magazines on and offline for the past decade. Having shelved her first novel for the time being, she is currently working on two (or three) novels set in the fictional town of New Bedlam.

Interested in some horror for the holidays? Pre-order Courting Morpheus, the anthology set in New Bedlam! Featuring the works of MR Sellars, Camille Alexa and more, the stories explore the insanity that builds as Morpheus is busy elsewhere…

Tell us you read about us here, and we’ll refund your shipping costs!
(Offer only valid until December 21st, 2009)

A Ghost of Christmas Past

bloodiedquill

In September of 2003, I lost the man who was everything to me growing up. My grandfather was as close to a father as I would get, and he was probably one of the strongest men I’ve ever known. From late 2001 until his passing, he went through a great many changes in his life, and his strength was sapped beyond repair.

That Christmas was hard on us all. Due to family conflict, we were missing half of the extended family, and the other quarter all had other commitments that day. To go from being a family of about 35, down to myself and the girls, my two brothers and my mom… it was heartbreaking. Memories of Christmases past haunted me like no other day. I could look out the porch window and imagine my grandparent’s old two-story, alive with their four kids, three in-laws, and nine grandchildren. Not to mention the uncle (divorced from my grandfather’s sister, but still part of the family), and their ‘adopted’ son, who’d grown up with their kids after being sent here to recover from polio in the fifties. A lot of what-ifs hovered sadly in my mind that day.

The sadness in my mother’s house was palpable. None of us really wanted to celebrate Christmas, and I’d already celebrated Yule with my circle-mates. A tension gripped us all as though we were going through the motions only because we had to. And that was exactly what we were doing.

Just when I thought I couldn’t take any more, my mother nearly had a meltdown over not having the right kind of cranberry sauce. Granted, this could have been the grief and the overall atmosphere, but I doubt it. There was cranberry jelly, and crushed cranberry sauce. We could have made do, and probably would have, but… I volunteered to go over to my grandparent’s to rummage through the pantry and see if there was a can of whole berry sauce there.

It broke my heart to go into that house and remember the few Christmases the family had there. It was my grandfather’s dream home, the one he designed himself, and built himself for the most part. He was in the very walls, literally. He poured his heart and soul into building that house. When I stood in the breezeway, letting my eyes adjust to the darkness of the house, I remembered standing in the old house, the first Christmas that we spent in the new one. I’d snuck out and gone over to the old house and just stood where we should have been eating dinner.

I stood there, somewhere between the old and the new, when a familiar scent caught my attention. Gillette shaving cream and Right Guard antiperspirant. I shrugged it off, and mounted the stairs to the kitchen and dining room. The further I went down the hall, the stronger the smell, and by the time I was at the kitchen, I was nearly in tears. Grandpa.

The cranberry sauce was right there, at the front of the middle shelf. All by itself, away from the canned goods and the dry goods. Just waiting. As I closed the pantry door, I felt the hair on the back of my neck rise, and a shiver run down my spine. I was being watched, and I knew I was alone in the house.

I took a few steps toward the bathroom, but decided I really didn’t want to look in there, not when I could still smell the shaving cream and the Right Guard… only now I could also detect just the faintest whiff of Listerine, as well. I turned right, and zipped down the hallway and down the stairs as quickly as I could – not from fright, but from grief. It hurt, smelling the familiar smells of my grandfather getting ready to go out and about. I stopped, though, when I was able to see across the landing and down the hall.

I had to. The whistling really wasn’t something I could ignore. See, my grandfather had a very distinctive way of whistling when he was happy, or when he was working, or when he was getting presentable. Particularly when he was getting presentable. I even recognized the tune, this time – it sounded very much like he was whistling “I Ain’t Been Long.” I don’t know what it’s real title is, but that’s what we all called it. I listened for several seconds, and finally found my voice.

“Dinner’s almost ready, Grandpa, come on over.”

The whistling stopped, and I left the house. As I started up the steps to the door at mom’s, I turned around to look back at my grandparent’s house. There in his bedroom window, stood Grandpa, looking out and smiling. I waved, and he was gone.


Jodi Lee is publisher and editor in chief of Belfire Press and The New Bedlam Project. Her writing has appeared in several recent anthologies as well as magazines on and offline for the past decade. Having shelved her first novel for the time being, she is currently working on two (or three) novels set in the fictional town of New Bedlam.

Interested in some horror for the holidays? Pre-order Courting Morpheus, the anthology set in New Bedlam! Featuring the works of MR Sellars, Camille Alexa and more, the stories explore the insanity that builds as Morpheus is busy elsewhere…

Tell us you read about us here, and we’ll refund your shipping costs!
(Offer only valid until December 21st, 2009)