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Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

February, 2019

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times For Imbolc February 2019

Bright Blessings!

Oh my, did the Winter Hag hit us last night. In Central Ohio we got I don’t know how many inches of snow- which would be fine- except we got solid ice underneath it first. I can’t walk my dog in certain parts of the grass or we will slide away!

The plows, salt trucks, and sidewalk clearing is in full swing. I only had to shovel my front stoop, as a neighbor shoveled the walk before our helpers got here. Not bad, but I am aching all over- as it’s only 8 degrees, and my body revolts against the cold.

There is ice frozen inside of our vintage 1970 windows, and I am wearing double layers and sitting under a blanket, as is the dog.

The cats are sound asleep, and while I have a cup of hot mint with black tea, my husband has started his coffee ritual. We all know what that means. Nothing happens before coffee!

There is beef stew cooked already for supper, and we will probably make some tacos as well. I am sore, exhausted, and I know it’s due to the cold.

I am one of THOSE people. This weather has knocked me out.

I am more than in the mindset to think about Spring. I’m thankful we are close to another turning of the Wheel, and I look forward to when I can hear more birds singing, and I can see the thaw, and the wildflowers poking through the forest floor.

Imbolc

Possibly one of my least favorite Sabbats- because it is bloody cold, Imbolc is both a blessing, and just another stepping stone moving us towards warmer days, and the growing season.

Halfway between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, it was traditionally celebrated in Scotland, Ireland, and the Isle of Mann. In a nutshell, the animals would be lactating, or producing milk, so people had a feast, thanked their gods, and had a good old time.

So, it was, and is a seasonal harvest type celebration, but it was so much more than that.

It was celebrating the goddess Brigid.

Ceremony was used to ask her to come into the home to bless and protect the people and livestock. Beds so she could accept hospitality would be laid for her, and special foods set out. Everybody wanted the goddess to come into their home and protect them and guide them into the coming Spring.

Winter is a scary time. Even today, ice can knock out electricity, and what if you can’t even afford electricity? It’s cold! Reports of the poor and homeless freezing to death are in the news every Winter. Imagine how much scarier it used to be hundreds of years ago, and how grateful people were for both the milk, and the thaw which heralded the fact Spring would indeed come. The Wheel was and is turning again, and people are very very happy about that.

The Winter Hag

But while Brigid might be a goddess of light and life, some would say in Winter, she is her hag aspect.

She goes by different names depending on what part of the British Isles she is being talked about. For some, she’s Beira, and she washes her plaid on the Loch until it is pure white, and she spreads it upon the land, making snow. For some, she is called the Cailleach.

Beira uses her hammer to make mountains and valleys, and uses her staff to make it cold and wintry. She rules from November 1- Samhain, to Beltaine- May 1, and she is VERY resistant to give over her rule to Brigid, who rules from May 1- to November 1. Some even say she gives power to Brigid as early as Imbolc although some say it’s as late as Beltaine. Some say the early Spring snows are Beira’s way of trying to stay in power!

In many ways these stories express human beings way of trying to explain seasons before modern science, but in many ways, they express the duality of our own lives as well.

Light and Dark

Who among us has never been a vivacious, lively person one moment, only to endure a period of personal darkness, tragedy, or illness? Just like the goddess.

As for many of us the goddess IS the earth, these stories speak to us. When it’s the warmer seasons, the goddess- aka earth- produces abundantly. Like in our own lives, when all is well and we are at our best, we are more capable, and get more done successfully. Likewise, when we are sick, suffering, sad, or just upset, we are not at our best, and fall fallow- like the earth, or the goddess in Winter.

As my memory is not what it used to be, and I have done a LOT of reading over the years, I cannot pinpoint exactly what stories express what I am about to share.

But I have read many stories about people hearing a knock at their door in the night, and an old hag asks hospitality, sometimes just to warm herself at their fire. In the stories, it turns out this is no ordinary old woman, but either a powerful witch who blesses the family if they are kind to her, or curses them if they are unkind. In some stories, it’s the goddess coming for a bit of comfort.

The moral of these stories is not so much to try and be rewarded for all the good we do, but to remember those who are struggling, who need our help.

Also, you never know who somebody who looks to be a down and out old bag of nothing actually is. Everybody is important and deserves comfort and alleviation of suffering. Let us never forget there will come a day when we, too may be that pitiful creature begging for hospitality.

The Living Saint

One of my personal heroes was Mother Theresa, who, to me, was a living embodiment of the goddess. At a young age, she chose to work with the poorest of the poor because she felt her god called her. Her Sisters in Calcutta are world famous for their compassion and determination to grant comfort and love to those who the World seems to have forgotten.

I used to read her books and just cry. She told stories about people being carried in off the street with nothing. These people were sometimes actively dying. Some of the people could only be given a bed to lie in until they crossed the veil. Sometimes, their bodies were not only filthy, but infested with vermin. The sisters would patiently pick the worms off the people’s bodies, and thank their god for the opportunity to “tend to Jesus in a distressing disguise.”

They drew this belief from the scriptures where it is said ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you did for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant [they seemed], you did for me.’

Mother Theresa wrote about tending the body of Christ, HER god. She said by doing for others, you touched, blessed, and tended the body of her god.

NEVER turn away the Goddess

I saw the Goddess in her Winter Hag form at a grocery store this week. She was in a “Distressing Disguise”.

She was sitting by the door, waiting to be picked up, as many elderly people do- and she had her nose and mouth wrapped, and her hands tucked into the sleeves of her coat. I could see she had on no gloves.

I asked if she would like a pair of gloves. She said yes. I put my gloves on her. I had initially walked past her, but something told me not to. She was cold, she was alone, and I did not have time to stay, but I had a pair of gloves to give her. I helped her into the gloves, and she thanked me. As I walked away, I could feel chills, and not because it was cold. I told my husband “That was The Goddess.”

She was old, bent over, decrepit, cold, and suffering. She needed a little comfort.

Was she a celestial spirit? No. She was merely a human being, but women are the physical embodiment of the Goddess in the same way people are the physical embodiment of the body of the Xtian god for people like Mother Theresa.

Instead of a Sabbat ritual, I have a suggestion, a plea actually. Would you be able to find the time to tend to the body of the goddess in her distress? Can you welcome the hag into your home and heart, and celebrate her in her struggles as well as glorifying her in all her splendor?

Saoirse’s Imbolc Working

Keep this as a regular practice, not just something to do for Sabbat. This is not a ritual, but is a set of things to keep in mind. We all need one another and sometimes forget, or don’t know how to ask for what we need.

We get caught up in our own lives and are busy with what we specifically are doing and sometimes forget about the people who are not directly IN our presence. Let’s face it, adulting is exhausting sometimes. It’s not easy to remember everything. Try to train yourself to keep an eye out for those who need your help. You can begin with a prayer like this:

“Great Goddess, she from who all life came, and to who we all return, Open my eyes. Open my heart. Open my awareness to those who need me. I am easily distracted by my own life. Don’t let me miss the call, or misunderstand signs. Use me as your hands, that I may do all the things you see fit. Use my voice to be your words so I may be as comfort for those who are hurting. Use my arms to be your warm embrace. Open my heart so I may take people in who feel nobody loves them. Use me as your vessel that I may be a living embodiment of you. So be it.”

  1. Set an intention to keep tabs on those who are sick, isolated, depressed, sad, grieving, old, or just alone. This extends to your loved ones who are overworked and do not have time for a social life as well. People who are easily forgotten because they are not nearby are the ones who need to be checked up on the most.
  2. Remember that YOU are sometimes the one who needs care or help. Do NOT hesitate to ask for what you need. We are in one another’s lives, and together, life is better. Be compassionate and patient with yourself. If you feel frustrated with yourself for whatever you are struggling with, ask yourself if you would be harsh with somebody ELSE struggling with this? Of course you wouldn’t! Remember to be healing, patient, and loving to yourself as well as others.
  3. Holiday time is especially difficult for those who are alone or struggling somehow. They feel like a third wheel at gatherings, and may forego attending for not only that, but if they cannot afford to contribute, they may feel embarrassed. Think of ways to make them feel comfortable coming, and reassure them.
  4. You may need to arrange transportation and take somebody home early. People who struggle may not be physically capable of staying the whole time. Make sure they know that is okay and they won’t be stuck trying to be presentable when they need to leave early.
  5. On the other hand- be understanding if they just need to skip out. Don’t make them feel attendance is mandatory. Let them do what they can do.
  6. Learn to listen. I cannot tell you how many family members of sick or elderly people I have heard spout off about “I JUST don’t understand Mom/Grandma/Aunt Ethel/ etc…” and literally complain about how said family member has some sort of struggle THEY don’t have, so they have no clue why ANYBODY does. As if said family member is willfully doing this to themselves, and is a GREAT inconvenience to the “normal” people. Learn compassion and empathy, or leave the care to somebody who has some. That is all.
  7. Make quality time with the goddess in distress. Don’t just go do errands and or appointments, aka “good deeds” or “duty”. While all of that is important, do not forget your goddess needs to be treated as a normal person and she wants to spend time with you. Have a cup of coffee and birdwatch together. Go for lunch. Go feed the ducks, or hit the movies. Enjoying life should not be forgotten just because the goddess is in distress!
  8. Don’t just do good deeds for the goddess in distress when it is socially acceptable to do so- like birthdays or Sabbats, or mainstream holidays. People need love and care year round, not just when you get a reminder because of the time of year it is.
  9. Give her gifts. I don’t just mean candles or incense lit on your altar. I mean give things to human beings who are struggling. Say you have an elderly neighbor who used to grow tomatoes, but can’t anymore. Give her some of yours from your garden as often as possible. Say you have a disabled neighbor who likes to go to the park. Take them. Say there is an old decrepit neighborhood stray cat. Give it treats, food, shelter, love, and take it to the Vet …unless you can find a way to have it adopted, of course!
  10. Never stop looking for a way to venerate the goddess through the lives of her creatures. There are opportunities constantly. Keep your eyes and ears open. Ask for guidance regularly, and then just remain open to her call and vice.

May Imbolc bring new beginnings for you. May the weather be gentle, and the Winter Hag spare you in the days before she becomes Brigid. May the goddess appear before you in her splendor, and may you be aware, and know what to do to help when she is reaching out to you in a distressing disguise.

Blessed Imbolc.

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.

GoodGod!

January, 2019

Meet the Gods: The Wise Men

Merry meet.

This month’s column is not about gods. Rather it’s about saints, or, more correctly, magi, the pagan astrologers who came to worship Jesus. The word magic came from magi because they dabbled in the dark arts and were referred to as sorcerers, wizards and magicians.

Tradition refers to three wise men, but nowhere is a specific number stated; in Eastern Christianity often there are twelve. They came “from the east,” which most likely is now Iran. That means they could have traveled more than 800 miles. The Christmas story has them arriving twelve days later, but some traditions have the visit occurring as much as two winters later. (This could explain why Herod commanded all boys up to the age of two be killed.)

These Zoroastrian priests, as part of their religion, had great knowledge of astrology – others say astronomy. According to the Gospel Matthew, these wise men were guided to look for the “king of the Jews” by a miraculous stellar event: the Star of Bethlehem. They brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

As part of their religion, these traveling missionaries paid particular attention to the stars and gained an international reputation for their knowledge of the sky, which at that time was highly regarded as a science. As Christianity became the religion of the Romans, the magi were no longer respected, and neither were the Jews.

No names for the three appear in the New Testament. Legends, however, give them a variety of different names. Melchior, also spelled Melichior, was a Persian king, or some say scholar. Caspar, Gaspar or Jaspar was a king of India. Balthazar, also known as Balthasar and Balthassar, was a Babylonian scholar or an Arabian king.

Many sources do no consider them respected kings. Rather, the magi were uncouth and labeled as sinners because of their stargazing, sorcery and divination. Still, Catholics and Orthodox Christians celebrate the festival of The Three Kings, the Epiphany, on January 6. In Germany, they have become the patron saints of travelers; their feast day is July 23.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

***

About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

Mindful Meditation

November, 2018

Samhain Mindful Meditation

Samhain, or the third harvest, historically was a time for farmers to harvest their last crops and head into the dark times when the nights were longer than the daylight. Also known as “Witches New Year,” we can use this time to reflect on our accomplishments and regrets as we begin to look ahead to the coming new year. What are we letting go of and what are we calling in to our lives? 

Items you will need:

-a quite room to be completely alone in

-a comfortable seat

-writing utensil & paper

-cauldron or fire pit

-special box for safe keeping

Intentionally create sacred space and allow yourself to relax into this meditation.

Imagine yourself throughout the evolution of this past year, from November 2017 up until today. Watch your milestones, your mundane actions, and life changing decisions unfold before you. Notice how each movement through out life this year has gotten you to where you are right now. 

Write down any regrets, missteps, or perceived mistakes or missed opportunities you have made.

Now, imagine yourself in the future year from this day until November 1st, 2019. What accomplishments do you see yourself making? What do you wish to manifest for this coming year? Write the manifestations in an affirming way by using phrases like, “I will have” or “I am”. Envision yourself achieving these goal and living it as if it is a normal day, like a waking dream. 

You have your future manifested now in your mind and affirmed on a piece of paper. 

Fold the paper intentionally, mindfully, and place it in your special box. You can place your box upon your Altar or in a special place to be kept secretly.

Now, take the first sheet of paper which refers to your past year and hold it in your hands. Say, “I forgive myself for _____” (stating each individual regret) and once you have released the energy from your heart and tears, through the paper into the fire, watching it burn away before you. Allow the fire to fully extinguish.

Thank yourself for taking the time to sit with your thoughts, thank the fire for burning away the past, and thank your future self for creating this intention-setting moment.

***

About the Author:

(Amy Dubenetsky & Becky Coates, respectively; Writers of the Mindful Meditations column & Coven Sisters.)

This Mindful Meditation is brought to you by Amy Dubenetsky, a Bodyworker/Reiki Practitioner/Witch based out of Manchester, CT whom leads group meditations as well.  Amy is deeply involved with her Coven, Organic Farming, and various Dance Communities across the country.

Follow her on Instagram and Facebook @bodyandbeyond444.

Celebrating the Old Ways In New Times

November, 2018

Celebrating the Old Ways In New Times November 2018

Bright Blessings,

It’s close to the end of the fall season here in Central Ohio, and I have just a tiny bit more garden cleanup to do. I planted the mums and spring bulbs I wanted to, and will probably leave the wood asters to overwinter under our elm tree instead of cutting them back.

The days are shorter already, and we are about to Fall Back, which means it will get dark earlier very soon. It’s already as low as 29 degrees in the night and early mornings before the sun rises, and my arthritis is already ticked off by the cold. Before I know it, it will be snowing, and I‘ll be praying I don’t slip and fall on my round backside while I am walking the dog on the ice. Falling used to be hilarious when I was younger, but now, it hurts, and I know as I get older, it will hurt even more.

My husband is turning 55 this week, and he’s on the last phase of his preventative medical screening he has to do every few years from now on. It’s upsetting him to have to think of everything that could go wrong. We began discussing retirement as well. We will probably do the stereotypical thing and move to Florida instead of staying here in the cold Ohio winters in ten or fifteen years.

My face and body have started to change. I don’t recognize myself anymore when I look in the mirror, and I think I see new wrinkles every week. I do have some gray hair, but it’s all organized into an attractive witch’s lock, so I can’t complain. My husband has a full head of luxuriant silver hair, and I am wondering if he will keep all of it, like his Uncle John, or go bald like some men do. We don’t have the amount of energy we used to years ago. We sleep more, party less, watch what we eat and drink, and don’t go around sick people unless we have to. All of this just means that we are getting older, and truthfully, I don’t like it one bit.

It’s not as glamorous as it is in fantasy paintings of crones and dark grandmotherly goddesses. We are wiser, alright, but our backs, feet, and bodies in general are declining with middle age, and we are well aware that if we get old, well, we will get old!

Having worked in nursing homes, I know what that means. It means like a machine, our bodies will break down, and that isn’t fun. It means a lot of good things too, like finally ending the chase of youth for “Who am I, and where do I belong in this World.” At our age, we have nothing left to prove. I have found peace with myself, and I just don’t care anymore about things that used to drive me absolutely bonkers when I was younger.

In other words, when you get older, a real perk is you might have more worries, but you know what isn’t worth worrying about anymore. You know what things and people are not worth your time. You have learned how to say “No”, and not feel guilty. You know how to tell people off when needs be, and when to keep your mouth shut when it isn’t worth it to stir the pot. Middle age brings a dignity the unbridled strength and desperation to attain every desire of youth does not allow.

Our middle-aged bodies are like the garden in Fall, and moving towards the Winter of our lives means we have to accept we won’t live forever, and already, we have lost some loved ones to death. Countless friends and relatives’ lives are drastically changed by age, having children and grandchildren, and all of the things that happen over the years of having life. We weather these changes together, thankfully, and the sorrows and joys of the years we experience together serve only to make our spiritual harvests all the more glorious.

The reality that we will eventually be parted from everybody we know and love by death is not made any easier by the fact that as Pagans, we believe death is a new beginning. We don’t believe in the finality of a heaven/hell, and we believe we will all someday be reunited either in a new life on this plane, or a special place everybody goes where their beloved ancestors await them. We still grieve the loss of our loved ones, and we still fear the pain of illness or injury that triggers death. We may believe we will go someplace good, but the human animal is wired to fight to survive no matter what, and that instinct cannot be soothed away by religious beliefs.

It’s terrifying to think of losing somebody we love to death. It’s scary to think of our own death, and by the time we are middle-aged, we will have either had some pretty bad health scare of our own, or we will have lost somebody we love to death.

Pagans and Death

As Pagans, we often believe in reincarnation, and some of us believe we find our loved ones in future lives also. We speak to our dead, and don’t find it weird, unnatural, or scary to do so. It’s part of our religion, and considered very natural to speak to our ancestors, and any other spirits we encounter. We build ancestor alters, give the dead gifts, and some of us even feel bad for people who don’t include these practices in their own lives.

Many Samhain observances include gifts for the dead as well as memorial ceremonies, and rituals to honor those who have crossed the veil before us.

Mom

I was raised by a woman who sold cemetery property and directed funerals. I used to play outside the cemeteries when I was a kid, and at one cemetery, the groundskeeper was an older gentleman named William. He and I used to go for walks together at the cemetery when I was little. I went into people’s homes with Mom when she did plot and marker sales, and I colored lots of pictures, played with lots of dolls, and spent a lot of time in the cemetery offices, being quiet as a child while Mom was working.

I never once found it scary, creepy, or anything other than normal.

Imagine my surprise to find out how many people think cemeteries are cursed or scary places where monsters carry the living off to gobble them up. I sometimes wonder if these same people are unable to sleep with the lights off in their own houses.

The cemetery, and funeral home offices were always a beautiful place where people come to honor their dead, and to mourn them. Cemeteries are a permanent place where people can visit the last remaining piece of their loved ones- their bodies, and they are a place of focus for communication. There is nothing scary about that at all.

My Granny decorated the graves of her relatives for many years until she couldn’t do it anymore, and one of my Aunts took over that tradition. My Granny is now buried in that cemetery with her relatives, and my Aunt visits the graves.

Their Wishes

The focus in our Pagan circles at Samhain is often on group ritual to create a meaningful experience for attendees. Mom would have said that is because the ceremonies, including funerals are NOT for the dead, but for the living. The focus on our connection to our dead is often focused on our relationships with them, the times we had together, and maintaining communication although many of us believe they would have most likely already reincarnated.

The fact that someday we, too will become an ancestor is seldom mentioned, because let’s face it- while we honor our dead, most of us just don’t want to die, and that means we don’t like to think about it.

Part of our Samhain observances seldom mention the wishes of the dead we are remembering and honoring. Sometimes, that is because it is a VERY personal thing you just don’t want to share with a group, and it’s likely to make you much more emotional than something else, but if you think about it, that is a very good way to honor our dead.

Something Different

I include some history and interesting (to nerds like me, at least) facts in my articles monthly, but this month, I am not going to do that. I also include more structured ritual most months, but I’m not going to do that this time either.

I’ll just tell you there is no right or wrong way to honor your loved ones who have crossed the veil, and his month, instead of writing out a ritual, I have a suggestion. Do something in honor of your loved one they would have wanted, or carry out a wish they had. I can’t tell you what that is. Only you know, and while the veil is thinner, communication can be easier with the dead at Samhain, but you can do your thing your loved one wanted anytime. It doesn’t have to be at Samhain time!

If you want a suggestion for a simple group working, you can each take turns, and light a candle in your loved one’s honor, and tell a story about them before your potluck. Pagans LOVE a potluck, you know! Leaving a plate for the dead can be part of the festivities as well. You can take it a step further, and bring a food to the potluck that was a favorite, or otherwise significant of your loved one who you will be honoring.

Then, outside of the gathering, do something to honor that wish they had. For me, this is something I have already done, and will someday do again.

My mom always wanted me to be Catholic for her. Not going to happen. This Wiccan is devoted, happy in her faith, and not converting to suit anybody.

But Mom also asked me to light a candle for her at a Catholic Church if I ever had a chance to. Included in this article are two pictures of me lighting a candle for her in 2015 in a Mission Church in Arizona. Someday, I will light more candles for her.

The Cycle of Life

One day we, too will cross the veil, and there will be living people who honor us, reach out to us, and miss us every day of the rest of their lives. Each of us has to decide for ourselves how we want to be remembered, and we do that by how we live our lives now. Also, how LONG we are in these bodies are partially dependent upon us, and the daily decisions we make. We can poison our bodies, whittling years off our lives, or we can take care of them, in efforts to be with our loved ones for as long as possible. Beyond living longer, when we are healthy, we feel good, and quality of life is much better.

We can’t control our genetics, and we can’t prevent every tragedy, but we can try to influence things in our favor as much as we can.

Most Pagans today believe in reincarnation in some capacity, even if it’s not belief in The Summerlands, proper. Many of us believe, that after we cross the veil, we continue to communicate with our loved ones we left behind. For some people, the moments our loved one reaches out after they have died is beyond comforting, and sometimes, it is the difference beyond accepting our loved one will always be with us in some capacity, and being unable to accept their death at all.

Each of us who now reach beyond the veil to continue sharing with our loved ones will be an ancestor someday as well. We will remain in one another’s lives, and some of us will reincarnate together!

Have a Blessed Samhain no matter how you celebrate. May your loved ones smile upon you, stay near you, and may you reach old age happily, and with a lot of good experiences.

Blessed Samhain,

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.

GoodGod!

October, 2018

Meet the Gods: Chernobog

(“Day and Night (Belobog and Chernobog) by Maxim Sukharev)

Merry meet.

This time of the waning year is the time of the dark gods, who balance the gods of the light during the waxing year.

Slavic god Belobog is the “White God,” with his sunshine that brings life. He is prayed to for a plentiful harvest, and for a light that guides through dark times and places. Belobog appears only during daylight, wearing a white robe and holding a staff. He brings good things to those he meets.

Belobog’s brother is Chernobog, the equally powerful god of the dark who rules the night, and is associated with evil and devastation.

Twice each year the two brothers dueled, with the winner controlling the season along the length of the day and night.

The Black God survives in numerous Slavic curses and in a White God, whose aid is sought to obtain protection or mercy,” Evel Gasparini wrote in “Slavic religion” on britannica.com.

(“Creation of the Earth (Belobog and Chernobog)” by Maxim Sukharev)

Chernobog was associated with bleak attributes such as cold, famine, poverty and illness. Despite this, he is still respected among all the other gods,” Ivan wrote in “12 Gods Of Slavic Mythology And Their Amazing Powers” on ancient-code.com.

In that tradition, the dark was respected, as was the light, knowing it was necessary of cosmic balance, and knowing each year, they would find their way back to the light. These cycles of the universe were due to the polarizing actions of Chernobog and Belobog, Ivan wrote.

Egyptian brothers Set and Horus engage in a similar struggle between light and dark, providing a symbol of harmony. Set, the god of darkness, was associated with evil, deserts, wastelands and the northern stars; although he murdered his brother he was still seen as a protector and a source of strength. He was wild and untamed with bright red hair. Horus was depicted as a winged sun disk. He was the god of the east and of sunrise, and also the god associated with the sunset.

In other cultures, the Greek god of darkness was Erebos while Hodr was the Norse god of winter and darkness. Known for murdering his brother, Set was the Egyptian god of darkness and evil. According to anglefire.com, “Itzcolihuqui was the Atzec demon god of darkness, deep freeze, volcanoes and disaster.”

As the darkness grows, working with these gods can offer strength and power.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

***

About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide

September, 2018

The Bad Witch’s Guide Autumn Equinox

I have always enjoyed the light around this time of year. The beginning of mists at sunset and dawn. The first tinges of frost and the spider webs like diamond nets over the leaves that were beginning to turn. The dead summer grass rattling in a wind with a distinctly crisp edge.

The light and dark are in perfect balance. The Veil between this world and others is thin

Mabon has his name attached to this festival and I like that. I like Mabon in general. I like a seeker. I also like balance so equinoxes feel really good for me. It is neither thing, light and dark, hopeful and guarded, plenty and want. Perhaps that is why Pryderi, Rhiannon’s sacred son is often associated with Mabon for this reason.

Pryderi (or Prederin) is born of a Goddess (like Mabon). He enters the forest, the world between. His manners are rough and he insults a great King, Arawn. King Arawn switches places with him and during his quest into Awen learns to “dwell with desire” but to not act on it. He learns great self-control and in so doing wins a great battle. In learning mercy and abstinence (not sleeping with another’s wife) becomes a Great Leader. It is a great lesson. To not give into lust or vengeance, even you can “get away with it”.

Of course I love the food and while apples and pork are more Samhain for me, Mabon is full of cobnuts (fresh hazelnut), damsons, wild game like pheasant and venison and this year’s lamb tend to be fresh seasonal and excellent. In fact Mabon is the peak of vegetable harvest, from the last of the fresh garden herbs to runner beans and early potatoes. The sea also is full of wonders, oysters and mackerel, sardines and sea bass are plump and delicious.

It is pickling season. From Yule onions (the ones you break out with your cold cuts) to some kimchi because the cabbages are amazing this year, preserving your own food is fun and relatively simple. Part of me wonders if Mabon isn’t a pickling party that got out of hand so marvellously they did it every year! That is the light in the dark; planning the plenty in a time of ice and snow. It is in the wine and vinegar, the syrups and treats, the medicine and the merriment.

The dark is something else. The dark is in the journey work, the intoxication*, the self-exploration and releasing of our leaves to feed our next year’s growth. This is not ancestor work or work with the dead. This is honouring our deaths. All of the people we have been that are no longer. It is letting go of all we have been carrying, good and bad, at least for a while.

Many traditional wiccan rites around this time of year feel like hollow reflections of Lughnasadh or Samhain. Yet this is as powerful as midsummer or Yule to me. A time of beginnings and endings, of big and small changes. It is the bloom of mushrooms, the food of the Gods after all. *While I don’t condone their use it is an ancient part of ritual practice. It is a time of sacrifice and plenty.

Ritual

What you will need:

A fire (or safe heat source)

A large pan or cauldron.

A sterilised bottle or jar

Elderberries

Caraway seeds (a pinch)

White rose petals (13)

Elder leaves (13)

Water

Sugar (to make a syrup)

A sieve or strainer

If you are using freshly picked seasonal berries you will need to double what you would be using for dried and make sure they are well washed and dried.

Heat your water and add your sugar. When up to a simmer, bless your pot or cauldron with a seven pointed star. Make sure your sugar is dissolved.

Add your leaves one at a time with the following charm.

Dark mother, Matrona,

Modron

Sweet Moon:

I call you

I evoke

For your healing and protection,

The Birch, the Rowan, the Ash, the Alder, the Willow, the Hawthorn, the Oak, the Holly, the Hazel, the Vine, the Ivy, the Reed, and the Elder Moons.”

Add the elderberries and stir it gently in a figure of eight pattern.

Add your caraway seeds and then a rose petal at a time saying the following

Light mother, Matrona,

Modron

Bitter Goddess:

I call you

I evoke your healing and protection.

By blood and thorn, by your magick and power

The charm is made by seed and flower.”

Remove the cauldron from the heat and let it sit for about five minutes before you carefully strain it, mashing the berries a little to get as much juice as you can and bottle it and seal it.

This syrup is good for flus, and colds it can also be used as a blood substitute or made into a tea to replace wine in most other rituals.

Book Review – Dark Goddess Craft: A Journey Through the Heart of Transformation by Stephanie Woodfield

August, 2018

Dark Goddess Craft:

A Journey Through the Heart of Transformation

Author: Stephanie Woodfield

Publisher: Llewellyn Publications

Copyright:2017

I decided to do more than just a review of this book. I wanted to work through it. I read the whole book, but I picked which Dark Goddess to work with as I read each section. Ms. Woodfield explains upfront the nature of the Dark Gods or Goddesses as she has come to understand it. I feel that she is right, about how only in the modern times have we picked the labels of Light (Good) and Dark (Evil/Bad). Our ancestors didn’t classify things in such a manner, because to them the Underworld wasn’t seen as Evil or Bad. It was the same as what we see today in the world, but it did have its differences.

Ms. Woodfield breaks it down into three different parts, The Descent, the Challenge, and Rebirth. The first two parts have 4 Goddesses with which to work. The Rebirth is the only part that has 3 Goddesses only. There is a mix of Goddess with which to work. Ms. Woodfield has Devotional Work and Rituals for Greek, Hindu, Inuit, and Yoruba Orisha. There are others as well, and this is just a sample of what she gives.

There is the Descent first. Here you have four different Goddess, and you get to pick which one you want to connect to in your working. I picked Hekate, and she is already a Goddess I relate to daily. In doing the Devotional operations that Ms. Woodfield put in the book and working the Ritual, I deepened my connection with Hekate. Through this working, I also learned some more about myself, and how I see the world around me.

Next comes the Challenge. Here is where I felt the real work came in for myself. You may find that the Descent is where you face your main challenge and this part is more comfortable for you. Here I worked with Eris. For me, this happened when there was a family crisis and working with the Goddess Eris was calming for me. I can see why the old saying of “What a Deity causes, they can also take away.” I thank Eris for helping me through this time of chaos.

Rebirth has 3 Goddesses from which you can choose. They are Blodeuwedd, Scáthach, and Persephone. I had a bit of a challenge here seeing Persephone as a Dark Goddess because I have always thought of her in the role of the Maiden, but she is also Queen of the Underworld. And working with her in this way was liberating to me. I felt that I had a rebirth in two ways.

I found this book to be insightful in that it helped to change and challenge my views on Dark Goddess Craft. Ms. Woodfield has written a book that I think will help others find their way forward with Devotional workings and Rituals. I am looking forward to reading more of Ms. Woodfield’s writings.

Dark Goddess Craft: A Journey through the Heart of Transformation

***

About the Author:

Dawn Borries loves reading and was thrilled to become an E-Book reviewer for PaganPages.Org. Dawn, also, has been doing Tarot and Numerology readings for the past 25 years. Dawn does readings on her Facebook page.  If you are interested in a reading you can reach her at: https://www.facebook.com/Readings-by-Dawn-1608860142735781/

GoodGod!

October, 2017

Meet the Gods: Hades

 

(art by Samantha Sullivan)

 

Merry meet.

 

As the wheel turns to Samhain, it is natural turn to deities of the dark, of the underworld. This month we get to know Hades.

 

A god with a place that shares his name, Hades is thought to be the god of death – in the Greek pantheon, that was Thanatos. Rather, Hades invites all to join him in his kingdom, the underworld. Hades is not hell, it’s the place all who die go.

 

Wanting a bride, Hades is said to have asked Zeus for one of his daughters and was offered Persephone. On one of his rare trips to the world above ground, he kidnapped her, driving his chariot deep into earth to return to his underworld.

 

Her mother, Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, mourned and the crops died and the trees dropped their leaves. Learning that the kidnapping was the idea of her brother, Zeus, Demeter complained. Zeus asked Hades to let Persephone go. However, during her time below the surface, she had eaten seeds from the pomegranate, the food of the dead. Although she was reunited with her mother, having eaten the pomegranate seeds required her to spend time each year in the underworld. And each year she descends and each year Demeter mourns and each year the crops die and the leaves fall.

 

Hades came to rule the underworld after killing his father, titan Cronus. As one story goes, Cronus feared a son of his would overthrow him as he had overthrown his own father and so Cronus swallowed each of his sons as they were born. After being tricked into vomiting, the siblings emerged to battle and beat their father. The brothers drew lots to divide up the cosmos that was now theirs. Zeus got the sky, Poseidon got the sea and Hades got the underworld.

Its darkness makes him invisible. (Some stories credit his invisibility to the helmet he wears.) He is often depicted with an evil smile, wearing a black robe made of souls. He holds a bird-tipped scepter that can cause earthquakes. Hades appointed Cerberus – a three-headed dog – to guard the underworld, never allowing in anyone who was not supposed to be there.

 

As the god of the dead, Hades oversees the entire population of those who have died, accounting for his fairly constant foul mood. He punishes those who were evil and provides bliss to the heroes.

 

In his position, he defends the right of the dead to funerals and presides over those rites. He is one you can invoke for help when faced with making funeral plans.

 

 

 

The Greeks were afraid of death and would not mention the names Hades or Persephone for fear of invoking death. Death was scary, desolate and dark. In the Greek world, neither Hades nor Persephone were evil deities. The Christian pantheon, however, turned Hades into hell and the god into the devil.

 

Hades is also considered god of the world’s hidden wealth – from fertile soil for growing crops to minerals mined from the earth.

 

Demeter, Hestia and Hera were his sisters.

 

At Samhain, Hades is a god to recognize and honor. In the old times, animal sacrifices were common, with the blood being poured in a hole to be sure it reached the underworld. Today, you may choose a candle that represents Hades to you; red, white and black are all common choices. An offering might be a wine, cakes, honey and meat. Best, perhaps, that offerings be left outside in a hole for him. A song, poetry or a key are also appropriate offerings.

 

Hades can be asked to call forth the ghosts of the dead, and what better time then when the veil is thin?

 

To get his attention, numerous sources suggest beating or stomping on the ground, or yelling.

 

Merry part. And merry meet again.

 

***

About the Author:

 

 

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

MagickalArts

August, 2017

Creativity and Teaching

 

 

This month’s offering is short and sweet. Creativity and teaching are my passion, so I’ve spent much of my 61 years of life as a teacher in one way or another. Teaching my ballet, until we could afford formal classes. Teaching ballet to others. Teaching Sunday school. Teaching my five beautiful children. Teaching my coveners. Teaching in the broader community, and more.

 

All of these pursuits were fueled by creativity and the passion I’ve offered up to these pursuits has out pictured in multiple venues and formats. Technology has provided a wonderful resource.

 

This month I am providing access to a 3-wk. course I’ve just finished teaching, entitled:

Celestial Tides: Days of Light, Dark and Balance

 

The link to the course will take you to “Teachings on the Path”, my website that provides coursework, pathworkings, astrological meditations and more. Here’s some information about the course to get you started:

 

Great power is held in the magick of the Equinoxes and the Solstices. These are times of change and the balance of the Equinox offers the point of neutrality between the burgeoning Light and Dark of the Solstices. The Great Wheel of the Year uses these days of power as anchor and stimulus for the Sabbats of Devotion held between.

 

This 3-wk series will provide the lore of these celestial tides, the astrological points of note and reveal the gifts of cyclical nature that are held in the honoring of these auspicious days. The classes will be a synthesis of experience, theory and techniques for enhancing ritual and personal practice.

 

Click Here to access the course:

Celestial Tides

 

I hope you enjoy this little excursion from the usual written page. Next month, back to the usual.

Many August Blessings… Robin

Rebel Rede

March, 2010

Welcome to the Dark Side

As the infamous Star Wars villain Darth Vader once said, “Do not underestimate the power of the dark side.” Do we underestimate the power of the dark side? In Paganism what does the “dark side” mean? Why do we call some goddesses “dark” goddesses? From my experience we refer to some goddesses as dark, when they do not represent things like love, compassion, or other happy emotions. The goddesses who represent things like death, hate, revenge, or jealousy are the ones we tend to fear and brush aside in our rituals. Why do we fear the dark Goddesses though? I think our fear comes from two places. One is a place within ourselves where we are afraid to confront our own dark emotions. It is scary to think about what we are really capable of-what emotions lie dormant deep within us. The second reason is that we are culturally taught that it is not appropriate for women to have these darker emotions or behaviors. When we think of femininity we think of words like beauty, love, nurturing, motherly, emotional, soft etc. What about when a woman physically defends herself against a would be assailant, when a wife picks up the gun from her dead husband’s hands and defends her home at all costs, when a woman hurts the man who hurt her, who gets even? Are these women not feminine? Are they not embodying real emotions, female emotions? Would you kill to save your child, your spouse? As a society we usually think of men when we think of war, death, hunting, or fighting. This is not an accurate view though. There have been many women throughout history who have killed and who have been warriors. This means there have also been goddesses who represent these warrior women. Goddesses like Kali Ma, Medusa, Pele, Sekhmet, Morrigan, goddesses who represent things like death and revenge. These are Goddesses who have killed both men and gods. While they may sound scary at first, we should not fear these Goddesses, but rather see them as a representation of our own darker side. We all feel dark emotions from time to time. We are not always happy or loving to the people in our lives. True balance comes from embracing both sides. It is not healthy to dwell on only dark emotions. Embracing only our dark emotions will lead to depression, hate, and even the possibility of harmful actions. By the same token, it is also unhealthy to only dwell on our positive emotions. We are not being true to ourselves, to our humanity if we do not admit to and embrace our dark sides in addition to our light sides. How do we embrace our dark side? As witches rituals are always a good place to start. Traditionally the dark Goddesses are worshipped and honored during a new moon, the time when we have complete darkness. The new moon can be a time to reflect on these powerful dark goddesses and our own dark emotions. When the next new moon comes let us raise our voices and say, “Jai Ma! Kali Durga Ma, Kali Ma!-Dark Mother take me in!” My sisters be beautiful, be angry, and most of all be dark!

Note: This article was inspired by my experiences at the Kali Ma prayer ritual at this year’s Pantheacon in San Jose, CA.

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