garden

Notes from the Apothecary

December, 2018

Notes from the Apothecary: Christmas Cactus

 Oh no, not the C-Word! That’s right, my fellow Pagans, I said it. Christmas. Love it or loathe it, come December the 25th, possible birthday of Dionysus and Mithras (but unlikely to be the birthday of Jesus) the nation, nay, the world goes Christmas mad and we shake our heads. Don’t they know it’s just another solstice celebration? Or at the very most, an adoption of the festivities of Roman Saturnalia? Well, it might surprise you to know that I love Christmas. Yeah, it’s a touch annoying when people deny the Pagan roots, but I’m a sucker for seeing other people happy. And Christmas makes people happy! It also gives its name to some amazing things: Christmas Island, Christmas Jones and of course, the beautiful and exotic Christmas Cactus.

The botanical name is Schlumbergera, chosen by botanist Charles Lemaire (1801-1871) in honour of Frédéric Schlumberger (1823-1893) who was a renowned collector of cacti and succulents.

 

The Kitchen Garden

 Christmas Cacti are generally kept as houseplants as they are native to Brazil and used to this type of climate. In the wild they grow attached to rocks and trees, but they are happy in some well-drained, good quality compost with a bit of grit or sand.

The cacti are normally grown from cuttings and their spikes are barely there, making them resemble a succulent more than a traditional cactus. The leaves are flattish pads and they form chains which eventually erupt into bright and beautiful flowers. They are normally quite happy sharing a large pot with other succulents and cacti as long as it doesn’t become too crowded.

Don’t let them have too much direct sunlight. It can damage the leaves. But too little light, and they may never flower. Many schlumbergera flower in winter, making them a wonderful addition to natural holiday decorations, whatever you celebrate.

 

The Witch’s Kitchen

Cacti in general are associated with fire and the south. They are also associated with the zodiac sign of Aries, but Christmas cactus is specifically associated with Sagittarius. Unsurprisingly this plant is associated with the month of December and the festival of Yule or the Winter Solstice. Christmas cacti make a great altar decoration for any festive period, and ones with pink or red flowers are particularly appropriate for the south of your sacred space.

The association with the zodiac sign of Aries can be expanded to include the god Aries, and Mars, Aries’ Roman Equivalent. This lends the Christmas cactus the power of strength, courage but also of conflict and success in battles.

Sagittarius is another fire sign, but one particularly associated with November and December, the signs time in the zodiac ending around the winter solstice. Sagittarius is the archer, and associated with prophecy and divination. The Christmas cactus, therefore, could be a great tool in meditative divination or prophetic spellwork.

Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter, so the Christmas Cacti could also be a great addition to expansion magic, and lawfully aligned magic.

 

Home and Hearth

Collect the flowers of your Christmas Cacti before they begin to fade. Let them dry; laying them on some paper in an airing cupboard or a sunny windowsill away from damp is good for this. Place the dried and hopefully colourful flowers in a small, clear jar. Either hang the jar on a thong or chain, or keep it in a pocket when you are going into situations where you need a little more courage. This could be confrontations with friends or family that you are nervous about, or perhaps raising a grievance in the workplace. The energy of Mars will walk with you, and the balance of a very hardy plant.

 

I Never Knew…

For those who enjoy growing succulents and cacti, the adorable name for baby succulents is pups!

All images from Wikipedia.

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

 

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways on Amazon

Notes from the Apothecary

November, 2018

Notes from the Apothecary: Fenugreek

Hailing from Western Asia, Fenugreek is an odd tasting herb with some interesting history. Seeds have been found in archaeological digs dating back to 4000 BC and were even found in the tomb of Tutankhamun. Called Greek Hay, Bird’s Foot and Sickly Fruit, the herb is considered to be a bit of a panacea, being a tonic for everything from abscesses to kidney problems.

 

The Kitchen Garden

Fenugreek is an annual herb which means it grows, flowers and seeds all in the same year and does not return the following season. The plants can grow to two feet tall and has little white or yellow flowers. It’s a pretty but unassuming addition to any herb garden

You will find Fenugreek in Indian shops under the name Methi in either seed or leaf form. It’s widely used in cooking, particularly in Eastern dishes. By itself it has a bitter taste, particularly the seeds, but within a dish it adds levels of depth which can’t readily be described. The seeds are high in protein, calcium, fiber, iron and various other essential minerals so make a great addition to your diet. It is possible that if you have a nut allergy, you may also be allergic to fenugreek so approach with caution if that is the case.

The greens are highly nutritious and can be eaten fresh or used dried as an herb. The seeds can be sprouted in a little water and the sprouts are tasty and very good for you.

 

The Apothecary

One of the most common uses of fenugreek is as a galactagogue. This sci-fi sounding word means an herb that promotes and boosts breast milk production. When my own milk supply was depleting due to my youngest weaning, I took a couple of teaspoons of fenugreek seeds every day and it seemed to help. It’s most palatable to make a tea out of them, which you can sweeten or add other herbs into in order to make it taste a little better. I ate the seeds straight down and they are bitter!

Other modern-day uses for fenugreek include relief for digestive issues, increasing libido and even fighting baldness.

Recent research has shown that fenugreek may be useful in sufferers of diabetes, but this research is ongoing. It may also be useful for relieving menstrual cramps and the symptoms of menopause.

 

The Witch’s Kitchen

Cunningham tells us fenugreek is a masculine herb, but look at all the medical uses that relate specifically to women’s issues such as breastfeeding and the menopause. If the plant is indeed masculine, then it’s a great example of how men and women need to help each other out, rather than bemoaning our differences. This male plant is definitely a feminist!

The plant is associated with Mercury which links it to communication, and also wealth and commerce. Fenugreek is therefore useful when crafting spells to do with business, jobs and joint ventures.

In Judaism, fenugreek is eaten during Rosh Hashana and is associated with increase. This is more about increasing our own talents and skills rather than the increase of wealth, but they can be closely linked depending on how you look at it.

Fenugreek is known as a ‘lucky legume’, as it is a member of the bean family and provides protection and attracts luck.

 

Home and Hearth

Scatter fenugreek seeds around the threshold to your home to ensure any who enter can only speak the truth.

Carry a pouch of fenugreek seeds in your pocket when attending an interview or important meeting to ensure you speak your mind. Just be sure you have nothing to hide, as you may be compelled to be honest about things you didn’t want to reveal!

Steep Fenugreek seeds in boiling water then add this water to whatever you use to clean your house with. This will attract material wealth into your home.

Combine fenugreek with alfalfa to craft oil or powder which will attract money. Just be on the look out for mischief, as Mercury is known to play pranks and cause messages to be mixed or muddled.

 

I Never Knew…

In ancient Egypt, a paste made of fenugreek seeds was used in the embalming process of dead bodies.

 

Image credit: Fenugreek from the Vienna Dioscurides, public domain; Freshly Sprouted Qasuri Methi by Miansari66; Junge Pflanzen des Bockshornklees by Yak

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways on Amazon

Notes from the Apothecary

October, 2018

Notes from the Apothecary: Mandrake

As we approach Samhain, I like to examine an herb or plant that has particular links to the season. Last year I explored the magic of the pumpkin, an obvious choice for the Halloween season. This year I wanted to dive deeper into folklore and magic, and the mandrake has been my mystical plant of choice.

Immortalised by J. K. Rowling in the Harry Potter series as the shrieking stars of herbology, the image of the human-like root screaming actually goes back to at least the 12th century. A medieval manuscript describes how the plant ‘shines at night like a lamp’ and that iron must be used to circle the plant to prevent it escaping, although the iron should never touch the plant. Other texts note that a dog must be used to pull the root up which, let me tell you, does not end well for the dog. Surrounded by magic, mystery, myth and superstition, this plant has a rich tradition of medicinal use and is a popular tool of modern witches and magical practitioners.

The Kitchen Garden


The true mandrake, mandragora officinarum, should never be eaten. It is hallucinogenic and narcotic, and can cause unconsciousness and even death. Sometimes people use bryonia alba, the false mandrake, as a substitute for mandragora. This plant is also highly poisonous. Another substitute is American Mandrake, which is poisonous in parts. Basically, if you come across anything purporting to be mandrake, don’t eat it!

The plants are beautiful, with springtime flowers of blue and white, and summer fruits sometimes known as devil’s apples. It needs really well drained soil to support those enormous roots, which can grow up to four feet in length. It also needs warm conditions and a good bit of sunshine to thrive, and a good quality compost for nutrients. Grown the plant well away from anywhere children and pets have access to. They can be grown from seed, or by separating the tubers.

The Apothecary

Six cures are described in the mediaeval Harley manuscript. One was for headaches and insomnia, whereby a salve of mandrake leaf juice was plastered to the head. Another was for earaches, and the juice was mixed with oil and poured directly into the ear. Another was a remedy for severe gout, but as it was administered in wine, I’m unsure how effective this would have been! Mandrake was also recommended for epilepsy, cramps and even colds.

Dioscorides, in his materia medica, also advised the plant was used to help insomniacs, but also that it seemed to have sedative and even anaesthetic properties. He did point out that ingesting too much was deadly!

Mrs Grieve states that the leaves are harmless and cooling and used to soothe ulcers, while the root and its bark is a strong emetic.

The Witch’s Kitchen

There is a belief that the mandrake only grew under the place where someone had been hanged. This gives it a dark association with death, possibly criminal activity, but also the oddly positive aspects of corporal punishment: law, order and justice. Called ‘little gallows man’ in Germany, the mandrake can be a symbol of ridding yourself of something you no longer need; of doling out ‘punishment’ to the things in your life you wish to drive away from you.

Dioscorides believed the root could be used in love potions.

The human like shape of the root speaks of transformation and hidden things. The mandrake reminds us not to judge a book by its cover, and that things are not always how they seem. We should always look twice, or as Terry Pratchett wrote, we should open our eyes, then open our eyes again.

In folklore, the cry of the mandrake caused either madness or death. Mrs Grieve writes that small doses of the root were used by ‘the Ancients in maniacal cases’, again connecting the root to madness and states of disconnection between the body and mind. Historically it was used to cure demonic possession, indicating it could be used to heal a disconnected body and mind, so there appears to be a contrary nature to this plant.

Mandrake can be used in any magical working to increase the potency of the spell, and in particular to increase psychic powers and prophetic magics.

Home and Hearth

Place a dried mandrake root on your mantelpiece to bring prosperity and joy into your home. Place a piece of mandrake on top of money, so a spare change pot or money box, and more money will enter your life. Hang one above the door to prevent demons or people with negative intentions from entering. Always keep out of the reach of children or pets!

I Never Knew…

As recently as the nineteenth century, mandrake roots were still being sold in Europe as charms to increase the libido.

*Images: Mandrake (Mandragora officinarum) from Tacuinum Sanitatis manuscript (ca. 1390), public domain; mandragora autumnalis, copyright tato grasso 2006 via Wikimedia Commons; folio 90 from the Naples Dioscurides, a 7th century manuscript of Dioscurides De Materia Medica, public domain.

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

 

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

October, 2018

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times October 2018

Bright Blessings,

This is the end of the growing season for me due to the kinds of plants I grow, and I’ve already started fall cleanup. It’s also the time I begin planning what I will plant in fall, and I decide what I might like to consider growing come next Spring. I am busily reading bulb catalogs and selecting next years seeds.

Pulling the zinnias is always heartbreaking, but we had such heavy rains earlier in the month, they had been knocked over onto the sidewalk so badly, and I had no choice. They wouldn’t have been left another week even, however, as they were spent. The stems and roots were packaged up as yard waste, and the flower heads given to a neighbor friend who dotes on the neighborhood birds. The birds just love to munch on zinnia seeds in the flower heads!

Also, we are rolling towards Samhain, the final harvest, and in Westerville, the town just North of Columbus where I live, that means we are having pumpkin patch trips, apple picking days at orchards, and the last of our tomatoes we proudly grew all Summer are blessing us with abundant bounty.

It also means poison ivy for those of us doing cleanup. BAH! A neighbor told me to vinegar spray the heck out of them, and I am going to do that today.

I also did not plant as much this year and I’m glad I didn’t. My back has taken a turn for the worse, and although I am in physical therapy now, it’s been getting progressively worse for about five years now. I may have to accept downsizing the amount of plants I do from now on, and I am not happy about it.

The Good and the Bad

Like in the garden, there is good and bad in all things. Everybody wants the good, but facing the ugly realities happen to be something few care to do.

Instead of the typical Sabbat based article, I will be reviewing a couple of things that came up in pop culture that has a lot of feathers ruffled in our communities, discuss some things from a generation ago, and why we ought not to be so quick to fly off all angry or offended.

The Box

The first thing that made so many Witches, Wiccans, and Pagans angry was the Witch Starter Kit Sephora was about to release.

Various individuals blew up all over social media calling it theft, appropriation, offensive, infuriating, intolerable, and what have you. Many bloggers condemned it as sacrilege, and disrespectful of Witchcraft and Wicca, and there was such a public outcry, Sephora pulled the product, and they apologized.

Apparently, I am the only Wiccan/Witch/Pagan who was not in any way upset by this product.

Before you boycott me, or burn effigies of me, hear me out.

I am going to number the reasons why it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to be upset about this product.

  1. There are tons of similar kits out on shelves and have been for quite some time. What, you think the “Starter Voodoo Kit” you nabbed at Barnes and Noble or Half Priced when you were 17 were authentic and written by a real Voodoo priestess? Think again. You think the “Crystal Pack” you nabbed at a similar shop, or even a metaphysical store were by a real elder of the craft? Not necessarily. Both mainstream shops, and metaphysical shops sell such items on a daily basis and have for quite some time. Nobody who is raising hell and crying that Sephora’s kit is a great injustice to our sacred traditions seems upset about the other kits at all. This is no different.
  2. Look what is in it.
  1. A tarot deck, which you can get almost anyplace these days.
  2. A rose quartz crystal, which again, gets sold in kits constantly. We had a stash of different ‘crystals’ at a cavern where I was a tour guide, and you can nab then at various trendy shops at malls these days. Many non-metaphysical stores carry magical crystals, and nobody complains.
  3. White sage- which, I am sorry is not in any way European. It is Native to the American Southwest, and South America. So don’t tell me that was misappropriated by this company from European based Pagan and Witch traditions. WE took it from Native Americans. We take a LOT from their practices, and that is a proven fact. Witches use white sage, and don’t think twice about the fact we got it from somebody else. If we are allowed to incorporate practices from others, then others are allowed to incorporate our practices into theirs as well.
  4. Various good smelling tubes of something something.

Each of these products is sold to, sold by, and used by Pagans, Wiccans, and Witches on a daily basis. They are also sold by non-magical practitioners who want to earn money. Even some mainstream groceries carry essential oils these days, and I know of more than one organic market that has nag champa, white sage, and tons of essential oils for sale. Nobody bats an eye about that. Sephora is just one of many companies creating a product that the magical public uses.

Furthermore, in the apology they released, they said “Our intention for the product was to create something that celebrates wellness, personal ceremony, and intention setting with focus on using fragrance as a beauty ritual.” That is magic folks. And glamour. Witches are well-known for using certain looks, and scents to illicit responses, and beauty and making others find us pleasant smelling will draw more people to us. Rose quartz also initiates love and affection. It’s just another magic kit.

  1. Not everybody in our communities who sells to us belong to the tradition of merch they are selling. I will reword that to make sure people understand what I am saying. Every metaphysical shop where I have ever entered was ran by somebody who practiced a particular path, but sold things for members of many other paths besides their own. Some shop owners are not initiated, and just self-educated, and are very good at running a store. At no time in the 13 years I have been active in the Pagan/New Age/Metaphysical community have I ever heard one individual remark on this fact, let alone refuse to by merch for Wicca from a Druid, for example. It would make no sense because how would we be able to buy anything if we were so picky? Sephora’s product is no different.
  2. Furthermore, not everybody in our community who is either a business person or clergyperson has any education, training, or affiliation outside of their own thing. Don’t believe me? I have met more than one self-initiated, self-ordained “Priestess” who recognizes no elders, and put herself in charge because she wanted to be the boss. They have no issue finding followers. I have also known non-clergy who read a few books, and declare titles for themselves they swear was bestowed celestially, and everybody else is just too unenlightened to understand. There are always a number of them at every large gathering, and they slip in and out of our circles seamlessly. We “don’t judge” and we “are inclusive” and put up with a lot of bullshit because we are terrified of somebody getting mad at us for questioning them. Why do we accept this at face value from people who come to our gatherings who are not one of us, yet we raise hell over a product that is actually usable? Furthermore- who is the actual person who designed the kit? Are they Pagan or not? Would it matter if they were?
  3. The people who make tarot cards are not always practitioners. Some are just good at art, got a deal, and have bills to pay. Furthermore, the people who do the assembly line work cannot possibly all practice magic or be Pagan. Nobody seems to mind about that. The people selling you the merch at a non-Pagan shop may or may not practice magic or one of our religions. Again, nobody seems to care. How do you handpick your tarot cards? Do you research the manufacturer and artist and pick over a deck because they do not adhere to your tradition? Nobody does this. It would make no sense. So why are we mad at this manufacturer but none of the other ones? It is not possible to buy all things for our religious or magical practice only from others who practice just as we do.
  4. Is it because it’s more mainstream? Well, how many times have Pagans. Wiccans, and Witches decried the fact the mainstream often rejects us? Now that we are “socially acceptable” enough for things we use to be saleable in a mainstream shop, as we swear up and down we deserve to be, we are insulted. I am sorry, but we cannot have it both ways. “It’s a corporation so they have no right to take our money” some have said. Really? I will mention Barnes and Noble and Half Priced again. I am not sure which of the three companies I mentioned makes more money, but all of them are pretty large, successful businesses.
  5. Our practices are derived from other practices. Period. I have already mentioned our use of white sage. But let’s talk about Wicca in general. An excellent publication that is one of the most controversial in our history is Aiden Kelly’s Inventing Witchcraft. In it, he published parts of Gerald Gardner’s Book of Shadows. The entire Book of Shadows is now available for free online at Sacred Texts. Here is the link- http://www.sacred-texts.com/pag/gbos/index.htm Nobody was supposed to see that except initiates, as it was secret, and for members only. Some Wiccans were very angry with Kelly for this. Oh yeah?
    Well, Kelly demonstrated line by line just WHERE Gardner got certain things from. Some from Crowley, some from Rudyard Kipling, some from varied other sources, some on his own. But Gardner and early Wiccans swore Wicca was ancient, from an unbroken tradition, and unchanged for centuries, even thousands of years. My question was- if it was all SO secret, why did Gardner and others put ads in the newspapers, contact journalists to do interviews, write books for publication, and generally put Wicca in the public immediately? Because nothing was secret, nothing was ancient, and they wanted to attract as many as possible. That is fine, it being a small, secret tradition for the few, and it is now readily available for anybody who will buy a book cannot both be true at the same time. Furthermore, Doreen Valiente, a true High Priestess, took one look at some of Gardner’s ritual writings, and said “No way.” She rewrote quite a bit herself. Kelly’s book can be had from Amazon.com, and here is the link.
    Wicca is not an ethnocentric ancient religion that went underground and reemerged when Gerald Gardner decided to publish books. It’s Gardner’s creation. It’s one I am thankful for, but it’s something that was pulled together and created from the many things that inspired Gardner. We, those who practice that have no business criticizing others for doing the same things we, ourselves do.
  6. We do not own the practices we utilize, and are not allowed to tell other people they cannot practice what we do unless we give them permission. Many other religious traditions, including atheists who believe in energy and spirits use the things we use, and follow some of the same practices. We do not have the right to dictate they are not allowed. Even somebody who thinks a kit at a shop is pretty or interesting or looks fun has the right to buy it and use the things without our guidance, permission, or approval.
  7. Nobody is making fun of us. Nobody makes us look bad but ourselves. I could list all the things I have seen and the people who I have met in the community who have driven me to tears of frustration over the years with their bullshit, but I know good and well the rest of you have seen pretty much the same things, so I won’t bore you. We also almost never call people on their shit in our communities unless it is childish arguing online over some discussion topic. I would really like to see us focus more on the condition of our own community instead of pitching fits about how some people who don’t belong in our circles views us.
  8. It is not the mainstream’s job or responsibility to portray us correctly. That is up to us. I am so over the people crying over Charmed or the latest horror flick’s wrongful use of the pentacle. I am sick to death of hearing people passionately declare Hollywood makes us look like devil worshipers and is to blame for misconceptions about us. No. Again, that’s us. And that did not come from Hollywood originally. It came out of the fact we use terminology the Xtains have used for centuries to denote devil worship. The word “witch” was never used to indicate something good until Gardner “reclaimed “ the word, swearing up and down the Inquisitors misunderstood the indigenous religions and demonized them. If you read what the witch trials looked for, you will not find one damned thing about Mother Earth, the goddess, blessing babies, handfastings, honoring elders, or blessing the garden. You will find sex with the devil, killing innocent people, enslaving people, poisoning neighbors they had a disagreement with, turning into rabbits to eat all their neighbors vegetables, causing crop blights, and insect infestations, peeing in a hole to create a hailstorm, making epidemic illnesses, etc. The word Coven, the number 13, the black hats, a horned man all in black, and brooms were all things “confessed” to during torture during witch trials. Nobody ever did those things. So Christians were taught there were evil people worshiping the devil doing all the awful things you could think of, and we are a new religion of people using the language set by the Inquisitors having “reclaimed” the terms? Likewise, the terms “Pagan “ and “Heathen” was used in the Bible to denote terrible people, and yet we call ourselves these things and demand to immediately be identified as the good people we actually are as opposed to the horrible people the words have been used by Xtians to describe. I think this is unfair of us.

The Commercial

Now I come to a commercial that is making people mad as hell also, and to me, it’s not infuriating either. Here is the video:

 

 

It’s about a 15 second commercial for Constant Contact marketing. It shows women sitting in a room of their business products, one meditating, the other playing a digeridoo. I will add both are white girls who look like they are about to run to Starbucks for their Pumpkin Spice Latte on the way to yoga. That sounds good right now!

They click on the page to see how many folks have looked at their listing through Constant Contact, and there are a lot! The girls are tickled pink, and one says “Oh, my goddess!” and then resumes her digeridoo playing.

And people are losing their minds about this also.

Here’s the thing. I know a LOT of New Agers and Pagans and Witches and Wiccans who look, act, talk JUST LIKE the actresses in the commercial.

I am sorry if you have not had the pleasure of meeting such delightful people, and if you find these people insulting or infuriating somehow, but this commercial in no way makes fun of or misrepresents these types of folks in our communities. There are a lot of folks just like these gals in our communities, and it was a realistic representation.

So, on one hand, we throw a fit about Hollywood not portraying us just as we are, but if somebody portrays us just as we are, we are also very angry. Then again, if they do not mention us at all, we feel left out.

The upset reactions by so many to these things says a lot about how much growing up a lot of us have to do, and I have no sympathy about how offended some people are.

Just because you are offended does not mean that you are right.

The Working

I had thought of doing a dispelling anger working for people who find it so necessary to get upset and offended over things like this, but I have a better idea. I want to make you laugh. One of the people I studied with utilized laughter as banishing, and I have found it to always be very effective.

I am not making fun or ridiculing. I want to show how silly we can be sometimes. I get mad sometimes too, but getting offended, and assuming people are trying to harm us or disrespect us every time they mention magical practice does nothing but make our day and life negative. It’s important to stop when we have a knee jerk reaction, take a step back, breathe, and really look objectively at things.

Or consider this- There are now so very many of us, and we have become so much a part of the mainstream – we are now portrayed by the mainstream, and products for our personal use and for those who aspire to join us have made it into mainstream stores.

This is SO good.

Enjoy this lighthearted take on being offended by one of our funniest practitioners.

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.

Story Series: Hedge Wizard

September, 2018

Part 1


(Photo by Clint McKoy on Unsplash)

Chapter 1, Part 2

Flight through the Forest

As we flew over the treetops, with the great starry dome overhead, I seemed to be flying upside down over an ocean filled with innumerable lights. The blue child led me deep into the forest, and at one point slowed down to allow me to catch up with him. Then he locked elbows and flew with me, and suddenly all was changed. The trees glowed with light of many colors, like lamps of blue, green, red and violet, each type of tree a different hue. Some trees throbbed with light, while others gave off a steady sheen. In places I saw what looked like columns of light erupting from the trees up into the sky and eventually disappearing in distance. Elsewhere, shafts of light descended suddenly from the sky and fused with particular trees. The blue child led me to a glade in the forest filled with oaks and poplars. We flew to one particular oak and passed inside it through a hollow ‘fairy door’. I was in the trunk of a massive, giant oak tree with the blue child.

Some noise in the forest woke me up at this moment. It was early morning, just around dawn. I went back to sleep and had no dreams I recalled.

At breakfast the Hægtessa seemed pleased and rested. She said she’d had the best sleep in years, for it’s tiring at times to fly with the blue child or other dryads in the forest. At least when you get up to my age,” she smiled. “But while you’re young it’s great fun, and you gradually become acquainted with the deeper forest.”

Dawn can go home tomorrow,” she continued as an afterthought. “Try again tonight with the Blue Child. See if you can get inside the Great Oak. Tell me what happened tomorrow at breakfast. If you find you like doing this, and don’t mind learning herb-lore from me, you can be hedge wizard when I am gone. But think it over; you have plenty of time to consider it.

But the times you go home,” she added, in turning, “don’t speak of your experiences here. Just say you are learning herb-lore from me. That will provide enough reason for them to ostracize you. No point in giving them more.”

* * * * *

On the following night once again I was flying with the Blue Child through the night forest. The blue child led me to a glade in the forest filled with oaks. We flew to one particular oak and passed inside it through a hollow ‘fairy door’. I was in the trunk of a massive, giant oak tree with the blue child. Blue light was all around us.

We rested inside a recess in the oak’s trunk. Not far from us was the figure of an old man sleeping. He seemed carved from wood, or else turning into wood. On his face was an expression of contentment and rest.

Who is that?” I asked the Blue Child. “My Dad,” he answered. “He is falling asleep into the tree. Dad, Dad,” he called softly. The old man’s eyelids fluttered, scattering small splinters. He looked with love at the Blue Child. “Dad, this is Bird-brow. He is taking his first flight.”

The old man’s voice came resonantly from his lips, which hardly moved. “Welcome, Bird-brow,” he said. “The gods bless you.”

And you, Sir,” I replied. “But what is happening to you?”

Oh, I am dying. It is time to return to the Tree, our Mother. My son will serve Her in my stead.”

In the garth, where I live,” I said, “to die is an occasion for sorrow.”

Not among us,” the old man said, smiling. “For we do not die entirely so long as the Tree lives. And She has lived here in the Forest a very long time.”

You can still go upstairs if you’d rather, Dad,” said the Blue Child.

No, Son. My place is here with our Mother, the Oak. But you should go upstairs to tell the Bright Ones I will stay here and subside into wood.”

The Blue Child turned to me. “Rest here awhile. I will return soon.”

The blue light grew around us and seemed to lift the Blue Child. He rose on a column of light and rushed out of the crown of the Tree, up into the sky. He was suddenly gone. I looked at the old man inquiringly.

You must pardon me,” he said, closing his eyes once again. “I am becoming very sleepy.”

I moved outside the trunk up into the lower branches of the Oak. Around me the elms were glowing green, the larches a paler shade of the same color. Here and there in the haunted forest columns of light shot up into the sky and disappeared; once in a while a column descended from the sky and passed into a tree from above, and the tree took on its color and glowed softly.

After some time had passed, a shaft of blue light descended from the sky and the Blue Child was back. “Now we must scout out the Hægtessa’s herbs,” he said. “the old beds have dried up.”

But where were you?” I asked him, as we resumed out flight.

In our star. Every tree in the forest has a star. Ours is there.” And he pointed almost directly up, to the top of the sky. “You must return with the Haegtessa in the morning and help her pick herbs.” Once again we entered the oak.

But where are the herbs?” I asked. “The trees will find them,” he said, and then called out softly “Dad…Dad.”

The old face appeared once more in the wood. “Yes, Son, what is it? I was drifting off.”

The Haegtessa needs more herbs, Dad. The old beds have dried up. We must find the closest bed of wild herbs for her.”

Right away,” said the face, and disappeared into the wood.

Where has he gone?” I asked the Blue Child. “Down into the roots,“he said. “The roots of the great oak extend far on every side and touch the roots of trees growing around us. They in turn touch the roots of their neighbors, and so on. The search for the wild herbs is even now traveling far afield, along the roots through the Deep Forest.”

Presently the old face of the Oak Father appeared once more in the wood. Little splinters flew from his eyelids and lips as he smiled and said “Tell the Hægtessa the way to the herbs has been charted. If she comes here to the Great Oak she can follow the trail with her staff” “Thank you, Oak Father,” I said, and promptly awoke in the crystal room.

At breakfast the Hægtessa was radiant. “You’ve done well, Bird-Brow,” she said. “The Blue Child and the Oak Father both like you. That is important.”

I told her what the Oak Father said. “I know,” she said, “I have done this before, many times. What he said was for your benefit. We must go together today, since you may be doing this next time.”

After breakfast she said farewell to my mother and little Dawn. “She has recovered. Keep her quiet and well-rested for a few days. Bird-Brow is going with me today on an expedition. He will return home tonight.”

The Hægtessa put on her voluminous white robe and took her carved oaken staff from her cabinet. “Take this sack with you, Bird-Brow,” she said. “We will bring back some herbs for replanting in my field.”

I had flown with the Blue Child to the Great Oak and knew vaguely how to get there in the body, but the Hægtessa knew the way very well, and in about half an hour we mounted the hill leading to the tree. It was a quiet, blue morning, punctuated with light birdsong.

The Hægtessa grounded her staff near the base of the oak. “Grasp my staff, Bird-Brow” she said. I grasped its head and felt a tingling coming up the staff from the ground. She knew I felt it, and took it back. “Now follow along. We have a journey to make.”

She walked to the next tree, a smaller, younger oak, and then beyond it to a birch, feeling the ground with her staff with every step. In this way we went down hill and up hill for about half an hour. Coming to a shallow stream, we forded it, the Hægtessa feeling the trail along the stream bottom with her staff, and picking up the trail again among the trees on the other side. The land sloped uphill from the other bank, until we reached a plateau at the edge of a cliff. Far below I could see the field of herbs. Passing to the left along the cliff, we came to a mild grassy slope downhill, and followed it down to the herb beds.

The field of herbs was the size of two yards placed side by side. Beyond them the forest continued on a shallow rise. “The herbs have come here from many places in the forest,” said the Hægtessa. “They are our partners. It is our job to protect them, to pick the weeds from among them and ring them about with guardian plants like marigolds. Some we will gather up and replant in my garden. These will be of use, like the feverfew I gave little Dawn, but once replanted, the herbs have less potency. Here, in this field, is where they retain their full magic.” She showed me how to tell weeds from herbs, and we replanted a few marigolds along the margins.

You must come here with the Blue Child, Bird-Brow,” she said, “perhaps once a week, to see if all is well. You must also come here at times in the body to dress and protect the field, and gather a few herbs for replanting. That is, if you want to.”

She looked at me carefully. “I am old, Bird-Brow,” she said. “I cannot make the journey here often. If you wish to be hedge wizard after me, you must start now to help with the fields.”

I will, gladly,” I said. “But what of my father and the boar hunt? I have never been asked to be on it before, because I was too young. He is counting on me to be with him.”

Some problems have no easy solution, Bird-Brow,” she said.

When I visited the herb field and pitched my tent, all was quiet. In the night I saw one herb light up within, and in it I could see the Hægtessa preparing herbs. She looked very old and tired, and suddenly I knew I would disappoint my father and remain here with her. When next I slept in the crystal room, the Blue Child flew in and said I had chosen wisely. She would not live much longer. In the morning I told her of my decision to remain with her and learn her herb-lore. She smiled and took me into her garden, pointing out the herbs which had been replanted. “These can be used in healing, Bird-Brow. But they must be boosted with wild herbs from the field.” Back in her house, she showed me how to prepare the herbs, cutting them and mixing them with the wild herbs. They seemed to quicken into new life when mixed with their wild counterparts.

At night, I flew with the Blue Child to the wild herb field, but instead of returning to the Hægtessa’s house we flew together over the wheat fields to the Hall. There was a lamp lit inside the Hall, watched over by the Hall-Sun, a young, vigorous woman with straw-colored hair. I was surprised to see my father there with her. “He won’t come, Hall-Sun.” he said sadly. I had hoped to show him hunting. The Hægtessa has bewitched him to her service.”

He can still come along to the boar-hunt,” the Hall-Sun said. “He can fly with the hunters and the Blue Child.” And she nodded to my companion.

That night the boar-hunters ran through a long tunnel in the Hedge, carrying torches. My father led them. The great wild boar had been reported in these parts, and each hunter was armed with bow, arrows and spear. I hovered over my father and the Blue Child and I flew on ahead to scout out the quarry and report its whereabouts to the hunters. Once or twice I saved my father from the boar by warning him of its murderous attack. I think he was aware of my protection and thanked me. He showed me how he stalked the boar and in this way I learned about hunting. The Hall-Sun watched me closely and I was taken by her fresh beauty. She seemed sprung from the earth, like harvest wheat. Her gaze seemed to reprove me for not being with my father on the hunt. But then I thought of the Hægtessa and her difficulties, and when I did, the Hall-Sun nodded approvingly.

End of part one

Notes from the Apothecary

September, 2018

Notes from the Apothecary: Calendula

Calendula or marigold? Last month we explored the magic and mystical beauty of the true marigold and I mentioned in that article that marigolds are often confused with calendula. Botanically they are actually very different. Calendula are often called pot marigolds or common marigolds, but true marigolds are in the genus tagetes although both tagetes and calendula are in the Asteraceae family, along with sunflowers. Tagetes are native to North America, whereas calendula came to America from the Mediterranean. They have beautiful orange or yellow blooms, with an extremely long flowering season.

The Kitchen Garden

From Mrs Grieve’s Modern :

It was well known to the old herbalists as a garden-flower and for use in cookery and medicine. Dodoens-Lyte (A Niewe l, 1578) says:

‘It hath pleasant, bright and shining yellow flowers, the which do close at the setting downe of the sunne, and do spread and open againe at the sunne rising.’

She refers to calendula as the common marigold, and notes that it is easy to grow as long as the position is slightly sunny and the ground kept free of weeds. Calendula self-seed, and can spread quite easily although they are annuals so the new foliage replaces last year’s plants, rather than joining them. The seeds are curly little horns, perfectly beautiful and very decorative in their own way.

Calendula petals can be used as a substitute for saffron, but only for the yellow colour they impart, not the taste. The flowers make a tasty and beautiful garnish for salads and other foods, and can be mixed into butters and cheeses for colour and flavour. Even the peppery leaves can be eaten to add spice to a salad.

The Apothecary

Natural Living Magazine published a great feature on calendula and its many practical uses. The publisher, Amanda Klenner, notes that she uses the petals in skin lotions, body butters and salves. She also makes marigold tea which soothes irritated mucous membranes and internal tissues. She uses the tea for digestive health, and adds that the petals are used in some cold and flu remedies. She also believes it supports the lymphatic system, crucial for our immune systems.

In the same publication, Nina Katz states that the herb is, “Anti-microbial, anti-viral, anti-septic, vulnerary, cytotoxic, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulant, immunostimulant, cholagogue, heart tonic, hypotensive, lymphatic, respiratory tonic, emmenagogue, anti-spasmodic, astringent, aperient, diaphoretic…”

Many of these terms might be unfamiliar to you if you’re not an herbalist or phytologist. Vulnerary means healing of wounds or inflammation. Cholagogue means to stimulate the gall bladder to produce bile. Emmenagogue means to promote menstrual flow. This means it can be useful for period pain or delayed periods, as it stimulates the uterus. Pregnant women should not ingest calendula for this reason. Always check with a medical professional before changing or starting any type of medication.

The Witch’s Kitchen

Many believe that the term marigold comes from an association with the Virgin Mary. However, that supposition is a little backwards. The marigold (calendula) became associated with the Virgin Mary because the name sounded a little like Mary’s Gold, however the term ‘marigold’ was first coined by pre-Christian Anglo-Saxons, when referring to the marsh marigold, a plant related to neither calendula or tagetes (true marigolds). However, calendula has been used to honour Mary for so long that, if your path leans this way, it still makes a fantastic offering or altar decoration. It’s just good to know the origins and history so you can make your own mind up about what’s appropriate.

Cunningham tells us it is a masculine herb, which I presume is because of the plant’s association with the sun, and fire. I find it has a very feminine energy, but plants are complex and it’s often hard to pigeon-hole them. He advises picking calendula at noon in bright sunlight to ‘strengthen and comfort the heart’. He also states that calendula is used for protecting the home from evil, and scattered under the bed can give you prophetic dreams and ensure a safe night’s sleep. Calendula petals in the pocket will keep justice on your side if you need to attend court. His final and my favourite point about calendula magic is that, if a girl touches calendula petals with her bare feet, she will be able to speak to birds in their own language. How wonderful that would be!

Calendula has historically been used in divination, particularly relating to love and knowing who one’s true love may be. Rachel Patterson recommends the flower for spells or incense blends involved with psychic powers. She also writes that they promote happiness and uplifting energies, and can be used to make gossip about you cease.

Home and Hearth

As we move from summer into fall, calendula should still be flowering for some time yet. If you are lucky enough to have calendula in your garden, pick a few of the flower heads and separate the petals out. Create a circle of petals on a clean cloth or on your altar, one petal at a time. Have the base of each petal pointing toward the centre of the circle, so the end of the petal points outwards. As you lay each petal, think of something in your life you are happy about, or grateful for. You don’t need to write this down or prepare for it. It should be spontaneous and from the heart.

The bigger you make your circle, the longer it will take to complete, but you will think about more happy things! If you have been struggling with dark feelings or depression, it may be sensible to start with a small circle. This can prevent you feeling like you ‘should’ have more to be happy about, which can actually make you feel worse. Sometimes, we may only have a few bright sparks in our lives, and that’s okay. We can still celebrate that, and as we move into the darker months, focusing on the good things we have becomes even more vital and soul supportive.

I Never Knew…

A snuff of marigold leaves was sniffed up the nose, to encourage sneezing to rid the sinuses of excess mucous. Lovely!

Image credits: Flower of calendula by Wouter Hagens, public domain; Calendula officinalis, Seeds by H. Zell, copyright 2009 via Wikimedia Commons; Calendula officinalis – Botanischer Garten Mainz by Natalie Schmalz, copyright 2011, via Wikimedia Commons.

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors

 

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

September, 2018

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times September 2018

Autumnal Equinox

Bright Blessings,

It is almost the Autumnal Equinox!

We are thankful the weather is cooling off. Some of us nearly suffocate when it is so hot, but it’s also sad that Summer plants are winding down.

I got a head start and threw some mums in pots, and am eyeing more at garden aisles at local shops. I put my radishes in the soil five days ago, and they have already emerged tall and strong!

Next, garden cleanup begins! I have mint, zinnias, black eyed susans, echinacea, and a huge tomato plant that will need cleaned up by winter, and I start that this week. I have large areas of these plants, so it is imperative I do little bits at a time. I have learned over the years that working with plants is done best a little bit here and there almost every day. I see so many people saving all their yard work up for ONE day every month or so, and some complain bitterly about it.

As with all things in life, doing things in moderation in the garden is beneficial! This way, you also get to enjoy the seasons regularly, as opposed to feeling that touching the earth is a chore and a burden.

Besides that, being out there regularly with your plants means you are fully aware of what is going on with them. As we are aware of the poisons of modern chemicals, and how it is killing this planet, the best way to ensure you can manage pests with organic methods is to inspect the plants often. If daily is not possible, at least three times per week is helpful.

Not being aware of the goings on of the plants and the organisms that are interacting with them is one of the main ways a garden can fail. Catch the issues fast, and fix them faster!

The Autumn

As the wheel is turning, the days cool, the nights come sooner, and the sun rises later. It reminds us to enjoy the warmth and growing season for as long as we can, because the cold winter and short days are just around the corner.

Autumnal Equinox falls on the 23 of September this year, and on that day, the day and night are both equal, about 12 hours each. Already I miss the longer days thinking of it!

At Autumn Equinox, Pagans often celebrate a Thanksgiving and the focus is on seasonal food and fellowship.., and I really like this idea.

It gives opportunity to do so before the responsibilities with blood kin and the conventional Winter Holidays rolls around. It also gives opportunity to do this gathering out if doors before it’s just too cold.

It is considered by some to be a time to complete unfinished business before winter comes. This is actually a good idea because just around the corner are the conventional holidays of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. There will be little time between running to and from shopping and festivities to do anything else.

Pagans further have Samhain, and Yule to add in to those other holidays. Busy busy busy!

Depending on where you live, snow may start fairly soon, and getting places is not as easy as it is during the warmer months.

For some, it is a time to reflect on the harvest or things accomplished during the growing season.

Dr. Brinks and Dr. Brinks

This month’s film falls in with that theme.

It’s called Dr. Brinks and Dr. Brinks, and here is its official trailer:

The film follows the death of illustrious doctors, both named Dr. Brinks who were a married couple. They were considered by many to be perfect people, and were touted as living saints with an almost cult-like following by some.

Unfortunately, some people who are married to their careers allow their family life to suffer. Not only did the parents fail to be close with their children, but they somehow managed to belittle, and shame their kids for not rising to greatness in the way they, themselves did.

The film begins with their son and daughter fighting bitterly following their parents funeral, and trying to squeeze a tiny bit of inheritance out of the parents who basically discarded them in favor of their careers.

The film shows how the adult children feel their own lives are lacking, and shows how both kids deny their own grief because they felt they lost their parents long ago, so their death is irrelevant. Why mourn somebody who basically dropped you?

Their son chastises his sister mercilessly, and she retaliates, and they even wrestle and scream at one another. Grief hits both kids when they least expect it, and in ways they struggle with.

It turns out, the parents were not the great saints they made people believe they were. Their perfect personas were a front for a horrible secret. Not only were they bad parents, but they were just bad people.

The son and daughter are able, with this shocking revelation, to pick themselves up, forgiving themselves of their imperfections, and repair their relationship with one another.

The Hidden Truth

The occult lesson this film teaches us is that belief does not always reflect reality, nor does it create it.

Our Pagan and New Age communities often want to teach us that we control all in our realities with the power of our will and belief, and yet that’s simply not how the world works.

Like being unaware of pests or diseases that can decimate your plants, the kids in Dr. Brinks and Dr. Brinks were completely unaware of the awful things their parents did. Everybody is unaware of these things, but they happen anyways.

Once the truth comes to light, we can either crumble, or pick ourselves up, and move forward, towards improvement.

Hidden truths still affect things.

Besides this, we oftentimes lie to ourselves, and we make it impossible to function in reality. We cannot imagine the world to be as we want it, and conjure that based on wishful thinking. We have to live in harmony with the way things actually are. We CAN change some things, but of the things we cannot change, being in denial is crippling, and hinders us as magical practitioners.

In the film, the Brinks kids were lied to, and they further lied to themselves. It held them both back from believing the beauty in themselves, and it pitted them against each other.

The truth was told, and poof! The spell was broken!

This was not a favorite film of mine, and truthfully, I don’t enjoy films that use sex and nudity to excite viewers, but it’s not a bad film due to the lesson it teaches. It moves a bit slowly for my taste, and relies very heavily on “cool” modern things and images to try to engage middle-aged folk who still want to live as they did in their 20’s. Both characters try too hard to act carefree, cool, and younger than they actually are. They want to be without responsibilities, but it turns out both of them are actually very reliable people, and in the end, they show they can count on each other. However, I really believe the over trying of the Brinks kids was just another illusion they maintained to make themselves feel better, and it’s very appropriate.

More on The Equinox

How this ties in with the Sabbat is at the time of harvest, we may find we are in a place in our lives we just don’t expect, or we may have some new revelation that has us reeling from the shock of it. I have written a ritual in years past for celebrating the unexpected harvests, that are a wonderful blessing we did not expect to get!

But what about when something not good happens we had not expected…something that is really not a blessing? Or what if it MIGHT turn into one with time, but we are just not thrilled with it?

What then?

How do we accept the way things are, and move forward?

The answer is to do a ritual breaking of our illusions, as a rite of passage, and ask for guidance. When hard work towards something falls apart, it can be beyond disheartening, and for some, ritual workings can aid in moving forward to the first step in the right direction.

An end of the old way of being at harvest time celebrates and honors where you have been, and serves to thank the gods for revealing what is to come. Sometimes, we harvest hard truths that are painful. We may ask “Why me, gods?” We can be in denial and mourning, and a time of processing this pain if crucial for processing change for some. The energy of the season can help with your process of accepting what is, and moving into what you actually DID harvest, and that is a new way of being.

Fall Equinox Moving Forward Ritual

This will be a three-step ritual and will entail travel. It does not need to be far, it just needs to entail walking away from the old, and going into the new, forward in the direction that you need to. You can even just walk from one end of the room to the next if it is appropriate, or you can do a trip if you like.

You will begin with either a new pair of shoes or a new pair of socks to take along.

You will start out with the old shoes or socks you wear when you set out, and end by leaving the old pair someplace, changing into the new pair, and leaving them behind to symbolize discarding the old illusions, which created the wrong way of being.

You will custom tailor this to yourself based on the basic structure.

What you need to do is three things

  1. Pick a starting place that represents where you were back when you still believed what was false. At this point, you should be in acceptance of whatever has changed, and the fact you have to adapt. If you want to say some words, or do a prayer, you can, but you don’t have to. An example would be. “I stand here where I was once in darkness, and I step away, moving towards the truth. I leave behind all illusions , and misconceptions here, and pray to my gods/esses for the guidance. The only way is forward. So Be It.” Leave some sort of a gift for the powers that be. Next, you move towards a middle location on your journey. You will be wearing your old shoes or socks, and take with you the new pair.
  2. Your second location will be a representation of the process of the change. You will next go there as the halfway point. This should be a place you find comforting where you can return in times when you need to recuperate and catch your breath. If you want to say some words, you can say something like.“ This is a place of light, healing, and growth. This is a place that will comfort me in the changes that are to come. I draw strength here, and renewed, move towards my new truth. Let this place be healing, and strengthening in times I am afraid, weak, or reluctant to keep moving forward. Let this place bless these shoes/socks that I will wear to carry me. The only way is forward. So Be It” Take the new shoes and socks, and lay them on the ground, and let the energies for this safe place soak in for a bit before leaving. Leave another gift for the powers that be.
  3. Choose a location that represents the new way of being and embracing of the new truth. If you would like to say some words, as you change, go ahead and say something like “ The truth is harder than the illusions, but living by illusions is unacceptable. Let this be as a reminder to me of how far from the darkness I have come, and he way forward in the light will be difficult at times, but nothing is better than freedom to walk in the truth. May my gods/esses bless and guide me. I will not go back. (Take off the shoes or socks, and put the new pair on) The only way is forward. So Be It.” Throw away the old pair of shoes and socks.

May your new change in light of the truth bring only good things. If there are difficulties in the transition, may you have the strength, and love and support of others to weather the struggles. May your new life with the new reality be the best life you have had yet, and may things get better and better.

Blessed Equinox.

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.

 

Story Series: Hedge Wizard

August, 2018

Part 1

(Photo by Tj Holowaychuk on Unsplash)

Chapter 1

1. A Visit to the Hægtessa

I remember when little Dawn had a fever and had trouble sleeping, I went with Mother across the harvested fields to visit the Hægtessa. The green wall of the Hedge, tiny in the distance, grew and threw open its arms as we approached. On all sides it stretched, shutting out the Forest, except where the river ran by, downhill on the right, where the fishing lodge straddled the bank. I knew that far to the left, the hunters’ tunnel passed under the hedge.

Beyond the Hedge I could see the tops of many trees, outliers of the Forest. The Forest went on and on, they said, forever. No one went very far into it except the hunters. The Hægtessa, whose name meant ‘hedge-rider,’ went a little way in at times to gather herbs.

As we approached her house, Mother cautioned me to remain quiet unless spoken to. The Hægtessa, it was said, lived a very quiet life and disliked noise.

Her house ran right through the Hedge to the other side, and thus had two fronts, each barely extending beyond the Hedge itself. Her magic accommodated the Hedge to her house, neatly fitting it without impinging on it in the least.

I had never been in her house. I had been up to the Hedge, and down to the fishing-lodge by the river, and seen the gabled front of her house from a distance, but never herself. But now she came out.

But when the Hægtessa emerged, she was a kindly-looking middle-aged woman, getting a little stout. She was dressed in a simple farm smock and apron.

I’ve been working in the garden” she said to me, answering my thought. The morning sun peeped over the roof of the forest, and I squinted. She looked at me curiously, then turned to my mother.

Hello, Mopsy,” she said, using my mother’s little girl name.”What can I do for you?”

It’s Dawn, here,” said Mother. “She is hot and can’t sleep. I think her head hurts.”

The Hægtessa took Dawn in her arms. “She needs feverfew and a few other herbs,” she said. “Step in.”

We went up three steps and were inside her house, which seemed carved rather than built. A wide room stretched on both sides. Ahead were more steps, leading past cabinets of herbs and instruments up through the middle of the house. There were no windows to right or left.

Her magic keeps the hedge from bothering the house,” I thought. “But why the hump in the middle?”

Once again she answered my thought. “The roots of the hedge pass under the middle of my house. Else there would be two hedges.”

*

The Hægtessa ascended the inner steps and took several herbs from the shelves. She took dried leaves of feverfew and mixed them with fresh leaves. Then she prepared two or three other herbs.

When she brought the tea down, I saw a circular stairway at the back of her herb-closet. Past it steps probably started down to the forest side of her house.

We have to wait and see how she takes the herbs,” she said. “Please make yourselves comfortable. I will brew another tea.”

We sat on her cushioned carved benches and waited, while Mother applied a cool rag to Dawn’s head from time to time.

The Haegtessa kept us company. She talked about her need for an apprentice, “I’m not as young now as I once was.” She was running out of some herbs and needed help locating new gardens in the forest.

Somewhat later she felt Dawn’s head and said she felt a little cooler, but she needed to stay there for a night or two until her head was back to normal. She fixed up a bed for Mother in the room with Dawn, then turned to me.

Perhaps you’d like to sleep in the loft?” she asked, pointing to the circular stairs. “Come and see.” I followed her up the stairs. At the top, the gabled room was on the right. On the left a door opened into a circular chamber, roofed with crystal. I had heard of the dream chamber, but thought it was just a story.

In the center of the room was a wide, comfortable looking bed. Some treetops could be seen at the rim of the dome, but otherwise it was all sky.

Do you think you’d like to sleep here?” she asked.

Oh, yes,” I said. “Yes, thanks.”

That is well, Bird-brow; I give you that name in place of your boyhood name Hops. For outside, when you squinted, I saw a bird’s head, perhaps a robin’s, in the wrinkles between your brows. So I know you will profit from a night spent up here.”

The first night the dream chamber was filled with a blue light, whitened a while by the moon. I lay entranced by the starry sky and don’t know when I dropped off. Just before I woke I seemed to see a bluish figure flying around the room. It was a boy, a little smaller than I am, but I awoke before I could see more or speak to him.

At breakfast the Hægtessa was jovial. Dawn was much improved, and Mother had finally gotten some much-needed sleep. We had milk and meat and some fruit I had never seen before, juicy with a red pith. “One more night and Dawn will be well,” she said. “Did you sleep well in the chamber, Bird-brow?”

Why do you call him that?” asked Mother. “His name is Hops.”

He is growing fast, and has grown much overnight. See, already he is nearly eight years in stature. And I name him Bird-brow.”

Mother said nothing, but shifted a little uneasily in her chair. We knew that a hedge-witch has the right to assign a name to someone, and that name is not without meaning.

During the morning the Hægtessa took me out over the stair-hill and through the forest side of her house to the herb garden just outside the forest-door. Just beyond it was the blasted heath where the advancing trees of the forest had been cut down and the grass and seeds underneath them burnt brown. We picked herbs that day and she showed me how to store them in jars and prepare tinctures and other medicines.

At sunset a hunter came by with a brace of conies. “Have you heard that the great boar hunt is being prepared?” he asked me. “Your father is organizing it. Will you be with him?” I said certainly. He skinned them and stayed to supper with us, then went off again into the forest.

That night I dropped off to sleep swiftly, and before long the light of a star shone brighter, and the blue child flew or slid down the trail of light, landing at the foot of my bed.

Come, Bird-brow,” the blue child said. “You are asleep, so you can fly,” and we both flew through the crystal and out into the night of the forest.

To Be Continued…

Notes from the Apothecary

August, 2018

Notes from the Apothecary: Marigold

 

 

The marigold is a complicated puzzle to unfurl. True marigolds, tagetes, originated in North America and found their way back to Europe via Spanish and Portuguese explorers. Yet the plant we most often call marigold is actually calendula, which travelled the complete opposite way, arriving in America from the Mediterranean hundreds of years ago. The two types of plants are not botanically related, so calendula lovers, I’m sorry, but keep your eyes peeled next month. This month it’s the true marigold’s chance to shine.

 

The Kitchen Garden

Marigolds are striking and beautiful, with yellow and orange petals that come in a fascinating array of shapes. They bring a ray of sunshine to any kitchen plot, and help ward off many unwelcome visitors, including mosquitoes. They are particularly effective at ridding the soil of nematodes. They also do well in very dry conditions, particularly African marigolds, so are easy to care for.

The petals of marigolds are normally edible (as always, double check with an expert before you eat any wild flower) but they don’t all taste the same. Some are quite pungent, whereas others are citrusy and light. They make a wonderful, colourful addition to salads and cocktails, or as a garnish for just about anything you can think of.

 

The Apothecary

On the Modern site, Rita Jacinto has written a fascinating article about the marigold, including some interesting tidbits on their medical uses. She states that the marigold is an herb and that it contains lutein, which I know as a chemical which can help reduce eye damage, particularly that associated with aging. She also tells us that in India, marigold leaves are used for wounds, abrasions and even conjunctivitis. As always, consult a doctor before changing any medication.

 

The Witch’s Kitchen

Cunningham, in his Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, told us that a garland of marigolds over the door would prevent evil from entering the home. However, he also named ‘Marigold’ as calendula officinalis, so he wasn’t talking about our true marigolds, the tagetes. Finding lore about the true marigold can be tricky, as many writers confuse the two plants, but they are so different botanically that it’s really worth trying to ensure you have the right plant for the job at hand.

Marigolds were used by the Aztecs to decorate temples and other sacred spots, and they are still used to this day to decorate graves in Mexico, and during Day of the Dead festivities. Just like the bright orange monarch butterflies are said to represent the souls of the dead visiting us for a brief time, maybe the bright orange, yellow and red of the marigold petals represents reaching through the veil, into the beyond, to talk with our dearly departed. They represent pain, loss, and trauma, but also dealing with these things positively, facing your painful emotions and not hiding from them or repressing them. They remind us to never forget, and that the past, history, or those we love will never die while we remember.

The marigold is associated with the month of October, probably because it has such a long flowering season and can often still be found in full bloom even as the autumn evening start to draw in. If you manage to collect some flowers before Samhain, try hanging them to dry, and you’ll have delightful yellow and orange flowers to complement your sacred space over Samhain.

Marigolds also represent love, fierce loyalty and the contentment you feel when you are with someone you truly feel comfortable with. Meditate on the marigold to understand where your true feelings lie about someone, or a group of friends.

The Latin name tagetes comes from Tages, the Etruscan prophet who taught divination. So it makes sense that the marigold is associated with magic to induce visions, see the future, prophetic dreams and psychic abilities.

Marigolds are sometimes used in Hindu ritual and religious decoration, so if you are influenced by Hinduism marigolds may hold great significance for you.

 

Home and Hearth

If you’re a fan of home dyeing, marigold petals are known to give a gorgeous, yellow colour. This can also be used to colour foods such as desserts or cheeses, so they are really handy for the keen homesteader. Chickens who eat marigolds will have a richer colour to their egg yolks.

During Lughnasadh, or Lammas, use marigold blooms to represent the sun on your altar or sacred space. They represent the south, fire, and the endurance of the sun through the colder days that are coming after the harvest is done.

 

I Never Knew…

In parts of India, marigold flowers are given as offerings to the God Vishnu.

 

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

 

 

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

August, 2018

August 2018 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

Bright Blessings!

It has been unusually hot this year, and me, the cats, and my husband are melting! We are thankful for our air conditioner, and we venture out early in the morning or later at night.

The dog is not thrilled, as she likes longer walks, and is immune to extreme weather.

Maybe I will come back as a dog in the next life!

The garden, however, is absolutely thriving. The new rose I planted has tiny red sprouts on it, the cherry tomato is producing abundantly, the marigolds are showing their golden manes proudly, and the zinnias, dear gods, the zinnias are the stars of the garden!

The Wheel of the Year is quickly moving towards first harvest. Already, the days are noticeably shorter, and we are even having a few cool nights. Blackberries, mint, and lavender have already been harvested here, and my cat has diligently been munching on the poor nasturtiums!

First Harvest

Depending on your tradition, you may celebrate Lammas or Lughnassadh. Both celebrate harvests, and celebrate harvest of different things.

In years past, I have written in detail about these ancient harvest celebrations, but this year I am going to focus on a different aspect of the blessings of the Sabbat-respect, and balance.

As we celebrate the things we have begun, and give thanks for the beginnings of what we reap from these sowings, we respectfully acknowledge we did not do it all on our own.

At times, the gods, the spirits, and the ancestors helped, and we give the credit that is due to them. In our rituals, we partake of the powers of these spirits, and also of the land where we draw resources to provide what we need to meet our goals.

In North America, many of us are immigrants from other Nations, and we touch the earth that has been sacred to countless generations of tribal people we do not share genetics with. As Pagans, and magical workers, we pick up on the power of the sacred spaces, and communicate with the spirits, and work with the existing energies.

On one hand, it is very American for non-indigenous people to be fascinated with the indigenous, and have romanticized ideas of their splendor, as if they are a mythical race of beauties. On the other hand, we are still actively benefiting from the forced assimilation, and the Reservation system that keeps indigenous people in poverty today. We do not MEAN such harm, but it is happening.

Then, many in our communities cherry pick what they consider Native American spiritual practices, take Indian names, and declare themselves Indians when they have no proof of ancestry, have had zero exposure to, or participation in Native American communities, and even go so far as to ordain themselves leaders in modern “Native American” groups, and assume they can become instant Indians.

This is called cultural misappropriation, and it is one topic I will pick up later in the article.

Rejuvenation

Healing, and prayers for good health are also part of harvest celebrations. In days past, prayers for enough food were constant, as that was how to ensure survival. Prayers to keep pests off crops, and to keep crops and animals producing were included. Now, we pray for good jobs so we can hit the stores to buy what we need instead of growing our own.

Prayers for good health could be translated as prayers to hold off aging and death- one word for this is rejuvenation.

One of the daily ways we rejuvenate the body is by eating. It is very true that we are what we eat. Food is the first source of medicine for the body, and it either adds or detracts years from our lives.

Pharmaceuticals also can be used to heal the body. We have become more and more aware of the fact that doctors and companies are for-profit, and the side effects from drugs aggressively marketed to the public can cause more harm than good. Furthermore, as we are human beings, and not gods, we are imperfect, and doctors sometimes make mistakes. It is no wonder than many seek out alternative medicine, and mind over matter techniques in hopes the body can heal itself.

Members of our Pagan and New Age communities understand all too well what the medical world refers to as “the placebo affect”. We understand the power of faith to heal. Some even go so far as to believe that if they break their neck, they don’t need to see a doctor, and that all they need to do is order their body to repair itself. We have seen a plethora of news stories where very conservative Xtian parents went to jail for allowing their child to die out of belief medicine is sinful, and their god would heal them if only their faith was strong enough. While we laugh or shake our heads, condemning these Xtians for this, we have plenty of people within our own communities guilty of this same mindset. Many of us fail to see this.

Balance

I cannot tell you how many people have asked me to do a tarot reading to diagnose illness, and I flat out refuse. I am of the mind that prayers, faith, meditation, proper diet and exercise are good for the body, but they do not replace medical intervention when it is necessary. All these things work together, and must be balanced for our health and wellbeing.

As a Wiccan, one of the Tenets I follow is the Tennent of The Balanced Life.

This tenet was written about by the illustrious Sybil Leek in her publication The Complete of Witchcraft from 1971. If you do not own a copy of this book, you should run right out and get it. I am 75% finished with it, and I am so glad I am reading it. In her chapter “Leading a Balanced Life”, Leek writes how mental, spiritual, and physical well-being are linked. She wrote of the insane pace of life in modern times, and the push to do more, faster, and better, and how it takes a toll on human beings. This impossibly unhealthy lifestyle exhausts, and stresses human beings to the point of physical ailments. Finding peace within oneself in this hectic lifestyle is very crucial. Work leisure, and rest have to be balanced, or the body is thrown off, and gets sick.

One thing I will add to that, is many folk do not touch the earth. Many live in concrete boxes, and operate in asphalt jungles. Going into nature is considered “getting away from things”, or a vacation. Nature should surround us daily. Science has proven that when you touch the earth, it lowers blood pressure, and walks in the woods clear the lungs of the polluted air from cars and smog. Trees eat the carbon dioxide cars and factories emit. The earth breaks down bodies that are decomposing, and uses them to grow plants. The body benefits from fruits and veggies, and some people (not me), swear they feel better consuming only a plant-based diet.

What I am saying is, one of the ills that plagues modern man, and unbalances us is the disconnection we have from the earth.

One of the memes that makes me very angry is the one that shows a photo of a bottle of pills, and says “This is poison” and shows a photo of a nature trail, and says “This is medicine.”

This shows complete lack of compassion for people who need pharmaceuticals, and also shows the individual who has this belief has never experienced a serious illness.

Medical intervention is required for the human body, but is not a substitute for a balanced life. In the same way, the human body, even if balanced, sometimes needs the help of pharmaceuticals to heal, and rejuvenate itself. Leading a Balanced Life allows us to accept the human body is not an entity that can completely restructure itself. Without proper amounts of water, food, medicine, sunlight, exercise, love, industriousness, rest, or oxygen, the body will die. Combining these things perfectly is key, and neglecting any of them, and doing MORE of one other thing fixes nothing.

The One That Got Away

Recently, I was asked to review a film, and I flat out refused to, because it asserted their psychic counselors and meditation coaches completely replaced medical care. This is a dangerous, and unethical claim. These people do not accept medical insurance, and all counseling sessions and classes have to be paid out of pocket. One hour sessions range from $150-$250 each person. A lot of people simply cannot afford that.

To be fair, some attend groups like this because it makes them happy, which reduces stress, and improves immune functioning. This is healing.

However, if you are having a heart attack, don’t just schedule a meditation appointment. You need a doctor.

If you have a contagious infection which is airbourne, and that can kill people, don’t put up a shield to “protect” people. Stay away from people while you are contagious, and take your medication.

Just because you are unaware of something does not mean it does not exist.

Balance of mental tranquility with taking proper care of the human body’s needs must be maintained, or you aren’t healthy.

Now, you do not HAVE to be healthy. I could stand to lose more than a few pounds, myself, so I am not condemning anybody whose health is not perfect. But to be ignorant, and spread that ignorance to gain customers, and endanger their health, by pulling them away from the medical care they need causes so much harm. It is beyond unethical, and I flat out refused to promote the film. I can’t even remember what it is called at this point.

Calling All Earthlings

Having spoken of these things, I was asked to review another film, and I decided to, although I disliked this film greatly. This is a necessary film for those of us in Pagan and New Age communities, as well as those who seek out alternative medicine, because it demonstrates how gullible we truly are when we allow our fantasies to get the better of us.

 

Movie Trailer

 

It is a Carpe Stella Production, and here is the website for the film.

http://www.callingallearthlingsmovie.com/

It was cast as a documentary by director Jonathan Berman, and I appreciate the fact nothing is held back. It touches on the topics of government conspiracy, aliens, the system vs. the individual citizen, cultural misappropriation, modern spirituality, and the spectacular natural scenery will make you want to jump in the car and head out for a road trip in the Mojave Desert.

It is shown how one man’s claim that an alien, who he said was over 700 years old taught him rejuvenation techniques for the body, were so well received that the site is still in use today, many years after his death.

Today, you can visit the site, and the team who operate there will book your event, and you can pay $100 plus per person to have a sound bath therapy, which is lying comfortably and enjoying a nice concert of various singing bowls being played. The building is called the Integretron, and the acoustics in the place are awesome. If you can’t make the trip or afford the fee, you can purchase a CD for $15 plus shipping and handling fees.

Various individuals claiming UFO sightings and encounters are also interviewed.

A grandiose story is presented by some of George Van Tassel’s friends and followers of his valiant attempts to create a sanctuary of healing, as ascribed by said alien. They also allege that his attempts to generate wireless electricity were thwarted by the government, and it is suggested the government killed him in the process.

A couple of professors speaking of history and social patterns of alien enthusiasts are interviewed as well, so it’s not like the documentary is 100% one sided. We get to hear from people who say it’s complete balderdash, although almost every speaker is very convinced it’s all true.

The longer we exist, the larger we find out the universe actually is, and we discover more galaxies we previously had not known about. It’s clear we are not the only lifeforms in the solar systems. However, the probability of an alien appearing only to a few select “chosen few” is highly unlikely, and it is asserted in the film by a couple of “Futurists” that aliens appear only to a select few because humanity is not ready yet for contact.

It is also to be noted the site the Integratron is near, Giant Rock, is close by Fort Irwin National Training Center which is a major training facility for the US military. Yes, they have air craft, and it is said they do experiments with new technology there. I wonder how many so-called UFO sightings were actually people observing military aircraft, and exercises? How much of it was actually illusions caused by the crippling desert heat? How much of this is belief creating illusions, and makes some ascribe mundane things to fantastical occurrences?

The thing that stood out to me most of all was how many people kept insisting Giant Rock is positioned on a vortex of great power, and the ancient Native Americans held the place very sacred.

An elder and tribal historian of the Morongo Indians, Ernest Siva, was interviewed for a very short time, disappointingly short- after all- this is supposedly an ancient sacred indigenous site. I strongly feel that he, and other indigenous people, as opposed to New Age business people, and alien enthusiasts should have been given more importance in this. As my hearing is not great, and the website that had the link I reviewed has no subtitles, I was unable to hear much of what he said. He spoke of a tribal story that his people came from another place. I was not sure where the filmmakers were going with that.

I decided to reach out to Mr. Siva, and see what I could learn from him. After a few e-mails, communication completely stopped before deadline, and I was unable to complete the interview.

Cultural Misappropriation Versus Cultural Exchange

One huge issue in our Pagan and New Age communities is misappropriation of Native American culture. How many groups, shops, or New Age or Pagan businesses have we all visited where non Native Americans are selling services based on what was sacred to ancient Native Americans?

I wonder how indigenous people feel about the fact the Reservation system both physically removed indigenous people from their sacred spaces, but also assimilated them into a completely different religion that does not hold such things scared.

Generations of their families journeyed to places like Giant Rock for sacred observances, and very distinctive ways of communicating with the spirits and divinities there were developed over long periods of time. The spirits and divinities got used to that communication at places like Giant Rock, and when places of commerce for the conquerors moves in and takes over, this communication ceases. As noted before, some people are still awake and aware of the voices of those spirits, however, we do not belong to the cultures of people who venerated them, and while we may benefit an adrenaline rush from communication, our methods and intentions are not always respectful.

One individual interviewed for the documentary turned out to be a “medicine woman” who is a blonde haired, blue eyed individual, so I did a bit of research. While I have met plenty of tribal people who are not dark skinned, or are not 100% this or that tribe, I am always suspicious of a very bohemian behaving New Agey white person who claims they are some form of shaman or medicine person. Most especially when I see all their followers are paying clients, and/or their website lists no tribal affiliations, and they list fees for services. It’s not tribal medicine, it’s a business.

She calls herself Valerie Brightheart, and she, like any clergy person facilitates weddings, but also something called snuggle parties.

While I do not know if it was Valerie and her business shown in this video clip from An Idiot Abroad, you can watch it as an example of cuddle/snuggle parties. I have no knowledge of this being a Native American practice.

Valerie’s church is the Oklevueha Native American Church of Soncco Wasi Home of the Heart. To be a member, all you have to do is fill out and send them a form, pay the fee, and you too can belong to this church. You have to commit to use only Native American medicines like Marijuana, peyote, and ayahuasca. I don’t know if that means onsite, or in general. You can pay a $200 lifetime membership fee if you are not Native American. If you are actually Native American, your lifetime fee is $30. If you are a Veteran and are Native American, your lifetime fee is a mere $20.

One thing I will point out is the people practicing on these so-called sacred Native American spaces are non-Native Americans. That is okay in many instances, because tribe does not necessarily go by just birth and race. People marry into tribes, and very few people today can boast 100% ancestry to one single race. Even within Native American families who claim to be all one tribe, over time, tribes have combined, and different families had babies together. So, to assert you can only have a certain DNA to be tribal is ludicrous. The issue is the fascination many non-tribal people have with actual tribal people, and the desire to play Indian for fun outside of the childhood playground is highly disrespectful.

To further make money by impersonating an Indian, or to move into a sacred space using it for income, and drum up public interest because “It was sacred to ancient Indians” is unethical.

Communication with Other People’s Ancestors

On one hand, who owns the ancient power places? Who owns the spirits, and who has the right to speak with them, and tell people what they say back? Does race and ancestry decide that, or do the spirits just want their voices heard, and connection with the living, even if it is not their own descendants?

A Heathen man I once spoke to was perplexed by the idea of churches and sanctuaries. “All the earth is sacred”, he told me. There is great truth in this. But has Giant Rock, and the Integratron become a place that is being poached by white business owners, and like the Black Hills, has it been taken from the indigenous who ought to have it back immediately?

The filmmakers don’t seem to think so. They cast this as a sacred place of healing, where you may contact with other lifeforms, as a place of love, healing, peace, and a place that is greatly misunderstood by the mainstream.

This film is very important for those in the Pagan and New Age communities to watch to remind us that magic is not supernatural, but natural. It harmonizes with the laws of the Universe, science being one reality. We cannot fly on brooms. We cannot turn into cats. We cannot live forever.

We can, however, fly in airplanes, have pet cats, or dress up as a cat in a costume, and we can improve our health, and increase our life expectancy by living a balanced life.

My Neighbors

I am blessed to live next door to some good earth loving folks. It’s a mother and father, and two adorable boys. The mother and her mom are Shawnee. I was able to reach out to them and discuss topics this film raised.

The mother’s mother, Kossia said Native American practices developed in distinctive ways, and it is necessary to use them properly if you want them to work. My Priest has said this same thing many times.

Her daughter, Speaks with Trees, said her concern is not so much that somebody who is not racially Native American sells things used in Native American practices. She said sometimes it is actually easier to go through non-Native business owners to get the herbs and stones she needs to practice. The issue is the fact that Native American people are struggling to have decent places to be together. Many Reservations are not ideal.

On Reservations, households are significantly more likely to have no electricity, no running water, improper sewage removal, incomplete kitchens, and no phones. The public high school graduation rate for Native Americans is lower than any other racial group in the US. The suicide rate of Native American youths is higher than for any other racial group in the US. The unemployment rates are higher. This is devastating poverty.

Speaks with Trees said an issue is that Native American people, who have been forced off land, are struggling to even survive. She said, “If you steal something from somebody, do you give it back? If you harm somebody, and it causes harm to generations of their family, how do you rectify that?”

The Dakota Pipeline is just one sign it’s not being rectified.

Kossia pointed out that intent matters. There are a lot of sacred places where Native Americans don’t have the capacity to use as such anymore. HOW you use the site, and WHY you are there matters.

She also pointed out that there are over 500 distinct Native American groups known, and that does not even include the groups who were not identified by whoever identified the other 500 some. This reminds us that when discussing “Native American spirituality”, the differences are so diverse, we cannot in any way lump them all into one set of practices.

All of these things both ladies said are important to keep in mind when visiting a site sacred to the ancient indigenous Americans. It is also important to keep in mind when attending pow wows, and learning spiritual practices ascribed to Americas indigenous tribal people.

While spirit transcends race, some of us are not Indians. We should find out about who the people we buy goods and services actually are, and check their credentials. Non-Indians impersonating Indians are plentiful, and we don’t need to enable that.

We need not segregate or do only what our ancestors did. Traditions in, and of themselves are living things, which change. Talks with Trees pointed out most of us have lots of different kinds of ancestry, and almost nobody has just one kind. Kossia spoke of the importance of working together, and learning from each other. She also said intent matters. To want to learn is called cultural exchange. We have always migrated, and we learn new things from our new friends who we move in near. We share knowledge and wisdom. Respect is the key.

This Month’s Working

Instead of a traditional Lammas or Lughnassadh working, I’d like to talk about what to do when you detect energy or sacred power at a site you are unfamiliar with, and want to do a working there.

Some people would say to completely avoid working with energy you do not know of. Just because you feel something does not mean you should connect with it.

Many magicians will tell you that spirits can lie, and do, and I have spoken with more than one individual that warns of spirit parasites that possess human beings.

If you are like me, and you are going to communicate despite what people think might go wrong, I can’t criticize you for that.

Technically, to be a witch, or any form of magician, you have to be able to move energy, and some would say, ANY energy you come across. This does not mean you don’t reach out to somebody else for help sometimes. This just means you need to practice reading energies so you can feel what they are, what they do, and whether or not they are best avoided.

There are going to be times you hit the park, find a nice, secluded area, and want to cast circle or do a working, and there are already energies there. Typically, you either banish them, and set up your own energies, or work with and experience what is already there.

I have a different suggestion.

Move them aside temporarily. It is almost like saying “Excuse me for a minute, and let me borrow this space, and then I will go on my way.”

This is the working I will include here. This can be used at any time, and anyplace. Members of all traditions can use this, and it does not entail veneration of any deity. This is respectful of the energies and spirits of a place, but allow you a clean slate to work with before your working begins.

Setting Energy Aside

Stop and ground yourself for a moment before you begin. Then quietly walk around the area you intend to clear. Open your mind to what energies and spirits are there, and pay attention to any messages you get.

Have you got a very string spirit who does not want its space tampered with? Is the whole energy of the place off, and it would take many sessions of clearing to clean it? Did something traumatic happen here, and the imprinting from it will overwhelm you, compromising the possible success of your working? You may decide to move elsewhere. That is okay. Always gauge the space first to see what it is you are moving aside.

If you do, indeed decide to use this space, you don’t need any tools like incense or magic words.

You just need to take deep breaths, and move your hands from the ground up to the sky, as if you are pulling energy, and sending it upward, and gently away.

You will feel with your own energy when you nab the end piece of the energy, and you just gather it up, and release it, with the intent it will stay gone until you finish. Walk the whole space in a circle, doing this same operation. You will be able to feel when it is done. Ensure the whole time, you keep your own energy to yourself, and do not absorb any of the energy you are moving from the site.

You don’t need to call the energies back after you finish. If the energy wants to, it will settle back into place on its own.

That’s it.

Simple, isn’t it?

This can be used anytime you go someplace where you want to lift some energy out. Say you are about to have a meeting in the board room where there was just a heated exchange, and you want the tone light, and stress-free. You can take that energy from previous meeting, and send it off.

If your kids have been spastic all day, and you have sent them off with an auntie for the evening, to have an adult cocktail party in the living area, you can use this operation to send that ty energy off for a more relaxing atmosphere.

If you cried your eyes out in your car after being stood up by a date, use this to get all that sadness out of the car.

The sky is the limit to what this technique can be used for.

Blessed energy working.

Blessed First Harvest.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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