Join me in Love

A Solstice Manifesting

hartmans Wednesday June 22, 2022
We manifested a house. A year ago we moved to Denver; the plan was to see what we thought after a year, and if we found friends and liked the area, buy. That's exactly what we did. And so this solstice we had our opening ritual at Manifest House.

The Ritual

We gave thanks for what we’d accomplished: manifesting the house, but also manifesting a community and friends that create a space in which it makes sense for us to put down roots.
We also dedicated our house as a magical home from which we can manifest ongoing love, joy, intimacy, abundance, and connection.
The magic was strong. We felt it settle on us as we welcomed Abundance back to her fountain on our altar. It only grew deeper as the ritual progressed. We celebrated ourselves, our divinity, gave thanks, and worked the magic of our intent going forward.

What does it Mean to Manifest

How is this more than buying a house? How is this more than hoping for good things in the future? Manifesting is an intentional magic, where you align your will with bringing what you are looking for into being. Like all intentional magic, things work on multiple levels. You still get to a point where you’re sitting around a closing table, signing all the paperwork in the world. There are other levels. I’ve found that for me, manifesting works best when I:
  • Know what I want. I have words to describe it, but I also feel what I want at a deep level.
  • I believe. I have confidence in what I’m looking for,, and I have confidence that it is achievable.
  • I am ready to succeed. I am prepared to give my yes.
  • I work to succeed. I actively work both to believe at an energetic level and at a practical level.
  • I’m open to alternatives that allow me to succeed. I am not so rigid in what I am looking for that I cannot adjust to better align with what the universe has to offer.
  • I give thanks when I succeed. I offer back to the universe for making things easy.
When this all comes together, there is an inevitability, or an energetic draw. It’s like the peaces of a puzzle falling together.

In Practice.

That is all a bit abstract. To make it a bit easier, let me explain how it looked for the house:
  • We knew what we wanted. We needed space for ritual, for kink, and for vanilla entertainment. I need a home office. My vassal needs her space. We needed a place that was big enough for the things we might manifest in our life: a place for our community to gather and a place for our tribe to grow . But we had flexibility in how we’d achieve these things. We didn't have a particular layout in mind; we just needed to be able to figure out how to fit that layout to what we were asking for.
  • We had our logistics in order. We knew what we could afford. we knew where we would find money, and understood how the buying process could work.
  • We put in our energy and will. Once we started, we made sure to reward and respond positively to anything that was moving forward. So, for example when the lender quickly turned around and got the pre-qualification letter to us, we made sure we were on top of the next phase. By the time we had an introduction to a realtor, we were already looking at places and scheduled for open houses.
  • We were ready to decide. Within 30 minutes of finding Manifest House, we knew it could work for us. After running a quick exercise to make sure we were not overlooking negatives, we had made our decision.
And so we went from actually deciding to get serious about buying to closing in one month.
There was fear along the way. This was a big decision both in terms of the money, but also a commitment to Denver and to a particular direction in our lives. Yet it was also the least stressful decisions about where to live in my adult life. Buying a house was far less stressful than renting an apartment a year ago, and even the move went relatively well.

The Momentum Builds

Everything is connected. A space that is good for community does no good without a community to use it. So as we manifested our house, we have also continued to put energy into what we started last year. In the middle of going from agreement to closing, we went to Colorado Leather Fest. It was my first leather event. There was a moment; we had just walked out of a presentation. “We could do that,” my vassal said. I had been thinking the same thing. We could teach; we could help people do the hard work of building relationship and connecting together. We have an important story to tell. Our path is different enough that we have an unusual perspective but similar enough that others can learn from our experience. We’ve found a community that both of us feel comfortable being part of. We both want to contribute, and we are causing that to happen.

The Next Morning

After our solstice ritual, there was a crow sitting on our out-door love seat, cawing into our bedroom window. The crow is a symbol of the Morrigan, who I turn to for this kind of manifesting. What a blessing.

Beltane 2022

hartmans Thursday May 5, 2022
It was September of 2019 when I last danced around a ritual fire. This Beltane I returned. I almost didn't. That would have been a huge mistake.
I was doubting my place in the community—doubting whether that community was part of my life now that I’ve moved to Colorado. Back in 2016, I still worked to bridge gaps and connect with people, even those who disagreed with me significantly. These days, my focus is on my local community. The broader world is too filled with fear and hate; it is not a safe space. I was struggling trying to figure out if Beltane was too distant from that local community. Was it worth the investment of energy and vulnerability. I struggled the last couple of times I danced around a ritual fire. I wanted to find a way I could grow and contribute more effectively. I was a thinker in a community of people who work with their hands. I was someone whose ordeals run toward the mind and spirit in a community of people who turn to the physical. I’d been reassured that I belonged. And yet again and again that weekend in 2019, as I offered to contribute in ways that played to my strengths, I was told “No, we don’t need that. We’ve got it all covered.”
If that had been true it still would have stung. But as far as I could tell, my contributions would have improved our rituals. So I struggled, trying to find a voice, trying to find ways to give back, and most of all trying to find ways to grow with the tribe I had found. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to face that struggle again from across the country.

The Long Road

Thursday’s ritual focused on telling our story over the two years we were apart. It was a real gut punch. I know I’ve struggled. What shocked me was how universal the struggles were. Yes, each of us faced different obstacles. But we were all alone, disconnected, and fighting in our own ways. The forms of connection we grew to depend on to support us often failed. Some of us found connection during the pandemic, but that connection was tight and close rather than the kind of community we were used to. It seems like in many cases building even that connection was a struggle.
As the event progressed, it became clear we had gotten used to being isolated, and this harmed us. Several people expressed relief and joy that I had chosen to attend. They told me I was an important part of the community and it meant a lot I was there. They said they were worried I would not come. “Why didn’t you reach out and ask if I was coming?” I asked.
One person told me that felt invasive. They weren’t sure that it would be okay to reach out into my life outside of festival.
If they only had! That sort of contact would have helped me step past my fears about whether I belonged. It would have created an opportunity for me to explore ways of improving how I interact with the fire tribe and how to grow in that environment.
I could have reached out too. I had doubts. Why didn’t I reach out and ask what was going on and whether I could help? Why didn’t I choose the path of vulnerability and openness, share my concerns, and ask for help?

The Pandemic Poisons Us

I think the answer to both questions is in the long road we’ve traveled. The pandemic has poisoned us. We are used to being isolated. We are used to hurting in a world that is harder to understand. Frightened, afraid, in our own little bubbles, reaching out for the very things that would nourish our souls is too much.
For me the really scary thing is how natural the isolation had become. I didn’t realize I was poisoning myself. It scares me how close I came to losing a community that has been part of my life since 2011. It would have been all too easy to walk away. Facing the vulnerability of coming even though I had fear and doubts was an act of will and stubbornness.

Lifting the Veil of Isolation

It was liberating to let go of that isolation and to be in community. I began to see how I contributed, and how the community’s care lifted and supported me. It felt like coming out of a shell after a long winter.
We all experienced a shared trauma. I pray that as we begin to heal from the last two years, we find some way to reject that isolation and use the experience to motivate ourselves to come closer together. I know that for myself I value connection more than ever.

As the Goddess Comes, Thunder Rolls

hartmans Tuesday August 3, 2021
Against the backdrop of a Colorado thunder storm, we celebrated how our dynamic has strengthened. In the beginning, we picked out several different collars, each one of them focused on a different aspect of love and surrender:

  • A collar to focus on the primal mess that is our mammal, animal selves

  • The couple’s collar we wore at the wedding

  • A collar to remind her that she’s still mine even when we’re struggling and trying to figure stuff out

For most of our relationship we’ve changed collars fairly regularly. But for much of this year, we’ve been wearing only one of the collars. And when we tried to change it, we felt off. The energy was wrong and tensions grew. Part of it was doubtless that there was friction the last time I placed that collar around her neck. Increasingly though, the energy changed and flowed too rapidly for any single aspect of our dynamic. I’d find that just after placing the sexy collar around her neck, we would find ourselves facing a week where our strength of our bond together was our focus. And like as not, just as I acknowledged that and shifted to the couple’s collar, we’d reach a place where we were ready to celebrate the strength of my physical claim. The collars had never been an absolute focus; we acknowledge the overlap from the beginning. However, as our dynamic grew, these different focuses became even harder to separate.

Yet my vassal still likes lots of collars. Changing collars can be a way to focus and remind ourselves about how precious what we have is. We didn’t want to lose that.

So we had a collar weaving. we wove the energy of all the collars together in a ritual before the gods. We let go of thee negative energy and the aspects that no longer served us and dedicated all the collars in service of love and surrender.

The gods were present and the magic strong. We’ve grown so much over the past five years. We are blessed.

So, why is this significant? Sure, it’s great to have sex in ritual setting with the blessing of the gods. But why is this worth blogging about; why is this an important ritual along a path of surrender?

The short answer is that it’s big and significant because we choose for it to be. Ritual lends power to things. By finding aspects of our path and our love where we can lend that power, we lend power to the whole. Our path is big and live changing because we’ve found places along the way that we decide are big. Those specific places might only matter to us, but making a practice of choosing moments to focus on is a key part of spiritual openness.

Like all rituals, the preparation is at least as much of the magic as the ritual itself. I can capture the intent and a little flavor of the ritual in a blog post. But to actually bring that about, we planned for days. What and how did we want to remove negative energy from the collars? What were we letting go of? What protocol do I use for collaring my vassal? What is the intent behind that?

When we ritualize that introspection, we work magic on ourselves. We influence how we will remember things. What aspects will be emphasized going forward? For example, I asked my vassal to review the collaring protocol. She spends a few minutes reading and says, “Yes, that’s good.” She’s saying that I’ve captured the important parts of the intent we’ve shared. That’s the magic we’re going to focus on going forward, and when we look back, that’s what this transition will mean to us. And she’s given her willful consent to that spell, lending it her strength.

The details matter because they are the language we interact with the world and bring about love. The process matters too, because that’s how the details get turned into magic.


hartmans Tuesday July 13, 2021
Feeling like you belong—like there’s a place for you and you can hold your head high—that is the best. It looks like we’re finding that here in Colorado. Last night was the second part of our house warming ritual. We invited the spirits that we work with to join us as we give thanks for the community we have found and our ever-growing love.

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Showing them the Ropes

hartmans Thursday June 10, 2021
We'll call him H. He asked some questions about polyamory. After exchanges some answers we got together for drinks. We had the opportunity to help someone who was exploring how he thought about relationships. We were able to show him that through communication and intentional love work, we had built something wonderful between us.
We were also able to show H that that his fears and doubts were a normal part of growing as a lover. Everyone goes through something similar. That doesn't make them less real, less important, or even less personal. It does give us a greater hope of empathy.
One of the biggest challenges H faced is that negotiation and communication about what relationship structure he's hoping for seem awkward and challenging especially at the beginning. Of course he's absolutely right. Negotiation gets easier with time, but it starts out hard. We need to be vulnerable enough to ask for what we want at a point where we may not even be comfortable admitting it to ourselves. We don't know whether our desires will come across as strange, or how they will be received. We don't even know if our vulnerability will be greeted with compassion. Yes, some of that is always true, but as we get experience and confidence, it gets easier.
My vassal and I didn't have any easy answers. But we were able to help H think about the different options for how poly might work, and give practical examples of how communication worked. We were also able to tell our stories of how negotiation worked in practice both around scenes and around relationship boundaries. We didn't make it easy, but we walked away feeling like we'd managed to demystify some of the hard work of being a lover.
If it ended right there, I would have been happy with a job well done. But a couple of weeks later, H wrote to my vassal to explore the possibility of getting together for some play. And so H got to practice negotiation and he worked with my vassal to see what was possible. I found myself teaching an introductory rope class.
So many things worked well. It was gratifying to see H picking up on negotiation skills and asking for what he wanted while being clear about his boundaries. This also required more advanced negotiations from my vassal and it was neat to see how far she's come in the kink community. For myself, I realize that my rope skill has reached a level where I can confidently and safely introduce someone to rope. It felt really good to acknowledge that growth. And it felt good to see H begin to take strides in something he had wanted to explore for a while.

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Venus and the TSA

hartmans Monday May 31, 2021
The TSA decided that my idol of Venus is too dangerous to fly in my carry-on luggage. I have a sculpture of Venus that has been a central figure on my altar throughout most of my practice. She inhabits a hollow log. Being able to take her with me to various spiritual events was an important consideration when I had her commissioned. So, she's small enough to easily fit into carry-on luggage.
I've had very little trouble flying with her until my most recent trip. We were moving from the Boston area to Denver, and so we had all our most fragile possessions with us. The TSA agent examining my bag called over his supervisor because he was concerned that Venus was a club or bludgeon. She doesn't have any good handles. I mean, yes, you could hit someone with the sculptureyou can hit someone with anythingbut it would be awkward and relatively ineffective.
The process was entirely humiliating. The supervisor demanded my documentation that Venus was religious art. When I stopped to think about what paperwork I had with medid I have any of the discussions with the artist or any pictures of her on an altarhe insisted I answer immediately. "Yes or no! Answer now." Later he made jokes with the agent about how they didn't let baseball bats through, and so they certainly wouldn't let this through. (The sculpture is smaller, less dense, and less designed for hitting than a baseball bat).
I overheard him saying that the agent was right to ask for help; this was on the edge, and he considered letting the sculpture through, but it was always best to be safe and not let something through when there were doubts.
There's a huge cost to that. My spirituality has been tainted with a feeling of powerlessness and helplessness. There was no way I could protest his actions. He refused to even document his actions and formally write down his decision. I still struggle approaching Venus to avoid thinking about how I had no way to stand up for my spirituality- -no way to be strong.
And this has irreparably damaged my ability to bring the symbols of my path to events. If I bring Venus I'm going to be dreading the entire airport experience, worried about what I will face and whether she will be damaged as checked baggage. If I don't run into trouble getting to the event, it's going to be a low level anxiety that I cannot step aside from during a time where my mind should be faced on my spirituality. And of course if I don't bring her, I'll be reminded whenever I realize her sculpture is not there that I have allowed our culture of fear and non-consensual dominance to intrude onto my path of personal power and love.
In closing, if you were going to use a club, would you rather be stuck with a hollow log with no easy handles or a nice big solid crucifix with a cross-bar to swing from. Who wants to bet the TSA would have been as reluctant to let me take a crucifix through as a pagan artifact? No takers? Really? Yeah, I'm not surprised.

Closing Ritual

hartmans Wednesday May 12, 2021
Tonight we released the blessing of our home and let go of the temple we made there. We gave thanks for all the magic we found in this space and to the gods that accompanied us here. We called to those things we wish to take forward. It's a sad moment. So much good has happened here. Rena and I have grown closer and we've used that to touch the world and those around us.
And yet the journey is happy and excitement is building for the next phase. We've been focused on finding where we need to be, and I've been silent for months. Hawaii was great; it gave us what we needed, but Hawaii will not be our home. This Sunday we fly to Denver and take occupancy of the new place. All signs point to us being able to find community and connection in Denver. Thanks to all who gave us advice. We look forward to seeing anyone who is actually in the Denver area, and we'll be back to visit Massachusetts from time to time.


hartmans Thursday December 31, 2020
We're going on an adventure to figure out where we need to be and to find our tribe and family. The first stage is to go to Hawaii. I was doing ritual work that I thought was focused on whether I should bring my Venus idol with me. Of course she will be there in Spirit. The question was whether she should make the trip.
The ritual had other ideas. My plan was a celebratory dance/playlist divination ritual. By playlist divination, I mean I put together some set of music—hopefully long enough ago that I don't remember what I have—and play it on shuffle. Sometimes i ask specific questions before a song transition, sometimes I just let it all flow. The celebration of course was to give gratitude and thanks.
The dance ended up being fast paced and ecstatic. In the early part of the ritual, I stumbled into the altar. Every male symbol on the altar fell over; the candle was extinguished. Shortly there after, Rabbit's Song began to play.

Oh, right, Hermes! Oops, yeah, I guess that's a question that needs more consideration than Venus. As part of establishing Lovers Grove I started work with Hermes in his role as messenger. Chuck was the one who had the connection to Hermes. I was hoping to learn through Chuck how to establish my own connection. Before I gained comfort with that connection, Chuck and I parted ways.
Connecting with Hermes was a stretch. Looking back, part of it is that I had stories of Hermes but not any modern practice. It's unsurprising that I wouldn't connect with an ancient Greek view of theft and crime. Besides, let's face it Zeus is a thug and an ass; and I'm nervous approaching his right-hand enforcer when I don't have much connection with Zeus himself. Everyone thinks Hermes is a a natural fit. I mean messenger—you know, Internet and all that. Perhaps, although it seemed to me like if the Internet was going to have a goddess, she’d be new, not Mercury in his pumped up kicks.
Even so, I’ve continued to do messenger work. I’ve written around 380,000 words of fiction around exploring love, sexuality, in connection outside of the context of our fucked up world. I’ve continued to live my life as an example and to connect with people one-on-one. I continue to hear the shouting and yearn with all my heart for another way.
And I could use help in all that. Some of my fiction is really good, but I need help getting it out there. I know that I alone—even R and I together—aren’t going to be the messenger I hope to be. There are aspects of marketing, timing, and finding audiences that I’m just not good at. And perhaps that means I won’t be that kind of messenger. I know I don’t want to live my life at the social media pace. If that’s what it takes to reach people, then I won’t be the one doing it.
Gods can help. They can give us the courage to believe in ourselves. They can make connections between people. And they can help us explore who we want to be.
As I danced, I apologized for not thinking of Hermes and celebrated what work I’ve done as a Sacred Messenger of the Grove. I celebrated the people I’ve connected with, and the fiction I’ve written. I received an acceptance from Hermes I don’t think I’ve gotten before. “I’m still here. We can work together; you don’t need anyone else to reach out to me.”
Then I thought about how there are things I still do every day that are tributes to Hermes. Whether it’s the importance of motion, the easy traveling food I always have, I do have a Hermes practice ready. I was just afraid to call it that and actually honor him in the practice.
The past few days since that ritual, I’ve been working on calling out to him explicitly. It feels good. I’ve already started to brainstorm ways I could reach out and move forward on messenger projects that have been blocked.
More than that, I need his advice on this adventure. I need to figure out what the role of messenger is in my life. That is part of figuring out where we need to be, just like my Venus work as lover.

Yule: Return of the Sun

hartmans Tuesday December 29, 2020
The theme for this year's Yule ritual was Return of the Sun. And why not: we're going to Hawaii.
Normally, Yule is a time of reflection for me. It tends to be the time of year when I reflect on the price of the rebirth to come. I don't actually do sacrifice work at Yule, but I do tend to think back and honor the sacrifices that make new life possible. This year, there is too much darkness already. So we jumped right to the promise of the returning sun and how we'll bring that rebirth forth within ourselves.
We are starting on a journey to find our tribe and our family. The two of us are closer than ever: facing the challenges of the pandemic deepened our dynamic and our gratitude practice. But sometimes with the isolation of the pandemic, it's felt like it's just been the two of us trying to stand strong against the world. Reflecting on this, we confirmed what has been a growing suspicion: we don't have enough of a tribe here in Massachusetts to meet our needs. It's getting worse as people move away from the city. Our inability to drive makes it challenging to keep up with people in New Hampshire or Rhode Island. We two have something really wonderful going on. But if we could find a bit larger we to belong to, it could be more stable, stronger, and we think bring us to even greater levels of happiness and love.
At Yule this year, we focused on setting intent for this journey. We aren't being shy about what we want. Ideally, we'd find someone else (or a couple) to join our family. Someone who could drive and fill in some of the other gaps in our life would turn something that is great into something even bigger. I don't think we're unicorn hunting, at least not in a bad way. We have the experience with polyamory to navigate another relationship. We have the time and energy to make it work. And we have the experience changing and growing to adapt our lives to someone else. we have a lot to offer: experience in the art of happiness, art of love, and in manifesting what we seek. We're not afraid to reach out and accept the gifts the universe offers. We are constantly growing and teaching, and can offer that. Somewhere out there, there's someone for which this could be a great deal. We aren't going to find them (and they aren't going to find us) unless we try. And so we set intent and asked our gods and goddesses to help us.
Beyond our family, we seek tribe. We'd like to find a community to belong to. Probably a relatively kinky, love and sex positive community. We haven't managed to find that in Massachusetts. There is kink and sex positivity in surrounding states, and it appears to be emerging a bit here. I haven't found the kind of connection between that and spirituality I've found elsewhere. Also, this keeps pushing further away from the city, and our lack of driving impacts things.
We've been drawn to Boulder Colorado, and that may be where we end up.
But the first step is healing enough for us to connect with our desires and what the universe will manifest. The pandemic has taken its toll, and we aren't ready for that. Yule is a time of rebirth---a time when we can rekindle the spark of life within ourselves. What better to do that after the cold, dark times of 2020, than starting 2021 in the literal sun of Hawaii. So, as is proper, magic spirals around reality, and we embark on a spiritual and literal adventure. First Hawaii, then the rest of our lives.


hartmans Saturday October 31, 2020
This year the power is at Samhain; the sabbat falls on a full moon. So it is a time of magic both in this world and the next; a time when the veil between is weak at a time when magic is strong in this world. Perhaps at a time when the wisdom of those who went before (and shall come again) can guide us in working real change.

It is certainly time to celebrate and honor the lives of those we have lost: the countless lives taken by the pandemic; those who have lost their lives in the struggle for racial justice and the surrounding violence; and all the others who have left us.. I will particularly miss Ruth Bader Ginsburg both because of the political tragedy that her death has become, but more because of the strength of her life. She fought to live in the best of all possible worlds, realizing I think more than most we find that world when we hold both our hopes and what we can actually achieve at the same time. We are the sum of what has come before; all these lives touch the magic of our world. But this year,her touch will be the symbol small enough for my mortal mind to grasp how one person's life can ripple across the world. We all touch and change the world, but it helps me at least to have a particular focus to remind myself that change happens.

More than ever we stand in the crossroads. For many of us it is symbolized by the crossroads of the election. But it is more than that. We stand between the reactionary and the radical. We stand between fear and hope. And oh, goddess, we stand apart. We shout, we doubt, our screams of anguish so loud that there is no room for love and connection. Often when I stand at the crossroads, I look at the choices before me and reject them all. Often, it's the middle path, somewhere in between, somewhere not obvious on first inspection that is the road I choose. If this crossroads is like that, it is less obvious than usual. All the obvious middle roads are horrible.

In planning a ritual, I find myself at a bit of a personal crossroads (or confluence) at least. I'm between the two psychopomps I work with. The Morrigan is my goddess of magic in much the same way some people I know work with Hecate. She has shown me power (and its risks) from a very early age. The two times I have worked with death in a a major way, she stood beside me or sat on my shoulder. And then there is Hermes, the messenger. I have never dealt with him as a psychopomp. But I serve him in the hopes of finding a way to end the shouting, to give love and reason a chance to shine forth. Old man, that's got to be a hard job these days. Let's see what we can find tonight to make it a little easier.

And so tonight, I call to ancestors strong and wise. Join me in Samhain rite, your wisdom sought, deep and bright. Help guide this world with magic's might. And in the place between here and there, our thanks to give for those still dear.

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