bonfire

Crone’s Corner

March, 2019

We Are ALL Right

I was sitting around a bonfire one Saturday night in early spring, pondering what will happen to me when I die – exactly. I brought out my flute, stared into the fire and I began to play. I played until I went somewhere else and was totally immersed in thinking about my Spirituality. Suddenly, I got this feeling of utter and complete weightlessness and I tell you honestly, for the first time in my entire life, I had a feeling of not only acceptance but genuine understanding. Here is the culmination of what I am now calling my “vision quest.”

I was playing a song on my flute that I call “The Whales Tune” because it was the first thing that I played on my cedar flute when I was in Alaska a few years ago watching hump back whales diving deep into frigid waters, flukes high in the air dripping wet. They were so peaceful and unaware of who I was or that I was even there acting as a voyeur in their world. The bonfire was high and bright and intensely hot, yet the air around me was filled with the chill of the early spring night, the warm chill of the spring night as opposed to the cool chill of the later summer night. There was the promise of warmth in the air as I allowed my mind to wander off.

I was in a deep, thick ancient wood, walking with bare feet on a thick carpet of leaves and moss. Every now and then I could hear the faint call of a cardinal in the woods, calling to me, beckoning me to come deeper into the woods. I stepped lightly and quickly as I made my way through the thick canopy up a small incline. Here the trees opened up in a circle and the sunlight brilliantly shined down in the center of the circle where the greenest grass I’ve ever seen was growing. There were small vivid yellow buttercups peeking up through the blades of grass nestled among clover and pink clover flowers. I entered the clearing and lay myself prone on the ground. My hands were turned earthward and my face turned skyward. The warmth of the sun was beaming down on my face and warming my body. I lifted my hair out from under my neck and nestled into the Mother for a time of quiet solitude. I left my mind to its wandering as I heard the cardinal calling closer and closer and then suddenly further away…so distant I could scarcely hear his call any longer yet I strained my ears to hear more…when the thought suddenly struck me…

What if we are ALL right?

I continued to lay in that circle of light as the sun warmed my thoughts and I went a bit deeper into myself and into the woods. I wondered if we are ALL right in our beliefs. I wondered if the Divine Light, of which we are all a part, has allowed us to each worship Deity in our own way. I wondered if instead of fighting with one another over semantics or over what we each deem is right or wrong in a Spiritual Path that we simply respected one another and learn from each other the varying paths open to us for us to reach and return to the Divine Light. I saw in my mind’s eye Muslims, Jews, Protestants, Catholics, Buddhists, Taoists, Pagans and every other Spiritual Path communing. I saw us all acknowledging that which is highest and best in each other and learning acceptance and tolerance. I envisioned acceptance among all people that each path is different in the journey and that the sights along the way are divergent. I was filled with the certainty that each path still leads inexplicably to the same Divinity in the end. I was heartened by the discovery that loving one another in spite of the path, because of the journey, and with open hearts is core of my existence.

I continued to lie in the clearing and absorb that which is good and true in all of the varying paths that I noticed opening up around the circle in which I was laying prone. I heard drums in the forest, I heard chanting in an unknown language in the forest, and I heard the call of the animals in the forest. I heard many divergent paths opening before me, crossing over one another, overlapping, merging, becoming one and uniting toward one great destination. When I truly opened my heart to all that was surrounding me I realized then that we are ALL right. Each of us is right in the paths that we have chosen for our own Spiritual enlightenment, we are ALL right. We are all striving toward the ends of our own roads and along the way, our pathways cross with those of the people in our lives. My path is made smoother by the journey you have already traveled and in the words and experiences that you share with me. Your path is made smoother by the journey that I have already traveled and in the words and experiences that I share with you. We are both right.

When I realized this fully, when I saw the paths opening up in the circle around me, I stood from my quiet contemplation and I called out to the cardinal. I heard his call in the forest ahead of me, not to the path behind me, which I had already traveled. I knew then, as I know now, that I cannot travel back through that path as I have already been there. I have now laid my head on the grass here in the clearing and I have lain prone for the sun to warm my heart in a different way. I must now follow a different path. I stood in that clearing and turned around to gaze upon all of the open pathways. I stepped my foot into the dark and unknown path ahead of me and I took my first step knowing that in my heart I would take the warmth of the sun from the clearing with me and I would be taking the knowledge that you have all shared along the path into that unknown path that lay before me.

I realized as I walked onto the unknown path that a certain coolness approached and surrounded me. An aching had come to my back and legs when I realized that I was sitting before very weak embers in what had previously been a raging bonfire. I heard the song lilting from my flute and I felt the ache of my folded legs. I felt the song in my heart and the warmth of the sun in my heart.

I believe in my heart that we are ALL right. And I think that this little journey that I have traveled has brought to me a clearer appreciation and respect for all paths and a desire to travel them all until the warmth from the sun in that clearing has left my soul

***

About the Author:

Shirley Lenhard has been a practicing Witch and a Pagan since 1983 and lives in New England with her husband. She is employed full time in the legal field and has her Masters Degree in Psychology from the University of South Florida. Shirley looks forward to living her best possible life by giving back to the Pagan Community and has created the Facebook group “Pagan Plannertarium” where she provides a safe home for fellow pagans to have discussions about their path and to get free planner stickers and layouts. Shirley is a past writer for Llewellyn Publishing and The Peace Paper.

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

June, 2018

June 2018 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

Bright Blessings.

I had a delightful conversation today with a neighbor.

This neighbor is one of my buddies. You can find us out front, giggling, gabbing, venting, chatting with other neighbors, and going gaga for the neighborhood dogs together.

We became unexpected teammates in gardening four years ago. I had ran out of gardening space on my back patio, and had planted everything I could in my front space, so I begged neighbors at my building to allow me to plant things in their spaces. He was the last one I asked, and he turned out to be the most enthusiastic.

My husband and I had planned to have our condo sold, and be gone from here by now, so last year, I told everybody I would not be doing more gardening. Well…we are still here…and although I decided to only garden on the patio, guess what? I ran out of space out back again! In the front, an unexpected, and unwanted invader showed up.

A TON of poison ivy!

I have been fighting a losing battle with it for years now, and I enlisted the help of the condo manager to help tame it.

One year, they sent somebody who “could not find it” until I made an appointment to have him come when I was home, so I could show him where it was.

Sigh.

Last year, there were small patches of it I controlled by pouring boiling water on it…or so I thought…

This year, it came back for revenge, and has spread into my mint and lavender. I planted both of these in 2006, and it appears I may have to give them up to kill the poison ivy.

I’m not entirely certain I’m ready to sacrifice my sixteen-year-old herbs, but I am less certain if I have a choice or not.

So, after my neighbor buddy lamented to me something that is bugging him, I lamented about the poison ivy.

He just so happens to have some poison ivy killer, and Sunday, we are going to murder it together.

The growing season is my favorite for a lot of reasons, but things like poison ivy make me cringe, and when I am bitching about the cold of winter, and missing my plants, I can at least be thankful I won’t have to worry about being covered in the awful itch and bumps of my least favorite plant.

Up until a few years ago, I LIVED for Summertime, and could not understand people who needed cold.

Now, poison ivy, asthma, and age induced heat intolerance has me understanding how so many have issues with my favorite season.

I am learning there is more to life than the good and the bad of Summer, although there was a time that is all I lived for.

While some of us see the seasons as being broken up into two, one being Winter beginning at Samhain, the other Summer beginning at Beltaine, these days, most people feel there are four seasons, and Mid-June brings us to the Summer Solstice.

What is the Solstice Anyways?

Most simply stated, the Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year, meaning it is the day when there is the most amount of sunlight. It is marked by revelry (of course!) bonfires to represent the sun, and ritual in many faith traditions. I had not realized this, but Summer Solstice is observed in over 30 countries, some of which are actually in the Middle East, and members of both Xtian and non Xtian faiths celebrate it in various ways. Of course, as with most Xtian celebrations, it originated in Pagan times.

One thing many of us have known for a very long time is a site where we find evidence of Pagan Midsummer celebrations is Stonehenge.

 

Stonehenge

Stonehenge has intrigued us since forever. Sitting on Salisbury Plain, it cuts a dramatic figure with it’s huge stones, and the fact many are missing lends an air of mystery, as well as stirs the imagination.

From tales of human sacrifice, to devil worship, today’s folk like to say all sorts of far fetched things about this stone circle.

The fact there are no written records left by the people who both built and used it add to the mystery, and there are too many “experts” throwing theories around they can never prove. Instead of sharing mounds of these theories, I will share what is known through evidence.

It was developed through four stages of construction. I find it interesting that when I was a kid, they were saying it was THREE stages, and now, they are saying it’s four. So CURRENTLY, it is accepted there were four stages of development.

The first stage took place around 3100 BC, and it included the famous Aubrey Holes, which some claim can be used to calculate lunar events, cremations, a ditch, and an earthwork and bank. It was then abandoned for about 1,000 years. Nobody knows why.

The second stage was around 2100 BC, and the very heavy bluestones were hauled from mountains 240 miles away, some of which weighed four tons. This was all supposedly done via waterways, and then dragging the stones by log rollers on land. An incomplete double circle was formed, and an avenue was constructed, which lines up with the Midsummer Sunrise. This is evidence that over 4,000 years ago, Midsummer was observed at Stonehenge.

The third stage around 2,000 BC, less than 200 years later, they hauled what are called the Sarasen stones from about 25 miles away. The heaviest of these is estimated to weigh about 50 tons. They made another ring of stones, laid the stones atop, which we call lintels, and formed a horseshoe ring of stones we can still see today.

The final stage took place around 1500 BC, and included rearranging he bluestones.

There has been generations of researchers, and no matter what the discover by this or that fond onsite, we can only piece together so much because no written record was left by the people who built it. We know when what was put where, and where it came from. We know it was all very sacred. We have no idea exactly what was done.

It is pointed out that both solar and lunar events can be marked by where moon and sun rises when, and the Aubrey Holes, as was previously mentioned supposedly work by moving a stone from hole to hole every day to keep track of lunar events. The sun and moon, marking seasons was significant to the builders, and due to the fact cremains and animals teeth have been found buried on site, it is believed the teeth were used as sacrifice to gods, and the site was a sacred burial grounds.

We are never going to have the whole story.

Fortunately, Pagans have our spiritual selves to let us know sites like Stonehenge are sacred. Today’s Pagans have been hosting Midsummer Sunrise celebrations for many years. Last years was well documented by video, which I will share here. This is a 40 plus minute video, and in it, you can see the Druids doing their ritual and talk.

 

 

 

The Solstice

The Solstice worldwide is about celebrating life, gathering with people, enjoying a festival, and doing ritual purification.

In Denmark, they have bonfires to drive away bad spirits, and there was a time when people visited healing wells, which has fallen out of practice.

In Finland, of great importance is the midnight sun, or the 24 hour daylight they have at that time of year. They also have their bonfires, and erect summer Maypoles, and fertility is the focus, as opposed to at Beltaine time.

In Iran, ancient celebrations are observed. They light bonfires, of course, and thank their god for crops, and pray for peace for the souls of the dead.

Neo-Pagans, of course are just as varied as other peoples, and space allowing, there are bonfires, and rituals thanking and honoring the sun, and celebrating its strength, and power over darkness.

A modern story some Wiccans embrace tells of the Oak and Holly Kings. The Holly King rules over winter, and the Oak King rules over summer. At the Solstices, they battle. Summer Solstice, the Oak King, the youthful, physically powerful king overthrows the Holly King, who has become old and weak.

Many of the Pagans in town near me like to attend sunrise gatherings, some of which are by a local lake, and done non-religiously, and others like to walk a local labyrinth.

Some of us (me included) don’t want to wake up that early, and we don’t feel ashamed for that…

A bonfire come night time is something a lot of people, even if they are not Pagan love to have for cookouts and barbecues this time of year. It’s just a great time for everybody to gather, and celebrate being alive outdoors when the garden is growing well.

I’m not sure what your space allows, but this Summer Solstice working I will suggest is both simple, and versatile enough, anybody can do it.

 

Saoirse’s 2018 Summer Solstice Fire Working

Fire represents both destruction and purification. We all have things in our life we want to both get rid of, and to also have blessed. On the mundane level in my own life, my garden needs purged of the poison ivy, and my garden soil and all her plants aside from the green terror needs blessed to help it succeed. Some are in need of healing, emotional support, a new home or job, or even just inspiration. Rather than have a structured circle with many words said, I have a simple idea you might love.

Do this alone or with loved ones. Do it day or night, whichever is best for you. Have a big fire, or a small one. Do it indoors or outdoors. It’s all up to you.

Think of all the things you want blessings for, and all the things you would like to purge.

Either write it all down, on a one piece of paper per item, being as specific as possible, or select an easily burned item that represents all of these things.

Also select a sacrificial offering to the gods, whichever ones you venerate, or the powerful sun itself. This also should be burnable.

Instead of making a fire and then tossing it all in to burn everything, build your pile of burnable things, praying over these things, and either speaking them aloud or in your heart as you build the fire pile. If you have other people doing this with you, have each person take turns, and build your fire pile together. Last of all, give the sacrificial offering, and light the fire.

One concept of spellwork many embrace is letting the intention go once the working is complete, having faith the blessings of the gods will make it happen.

Spend time around the fire, and keep adding wood and other burnables for as long as you like. Feast, revel, and enjoy fellowship, or the peace of solitude.

Blessed Solstice. Blessed Be.

***

About the Author:

Saoirse is a recovered Catholic.  I was called to the Old Ways at age 11, but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse, pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be reached through my Facebook page Tarot with Saoirse. You can, also, join me on my Youtube Channel