interview

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

December, 2017

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times December 2017

Bright Blessings!

With Yule just around the corner, you are likely planning festivities, gatherings, and family nights!

Growing up, of course, my family celebrated Christmas, and large scale was the rule. Everybody sent cards, bought gifts, planned dinners and lunches, and I can say Christmas for many of my family members was one of the biggest events of the year.

After I moved out, and started my own traditions, I scaled back the complicated Christmas festivities, and after converting to Paganism, reduced it further to just a single day for Sabbat. The Winter Solstice is a big deal for me, because I am so happy about the fact the sun will grow stronger, and “be reborn”.

I typically do a firepit fire, and libations alone, although I’ve attended public Sabbat and officiated for friends before.

Many different topics can be explored in Pagan Yule or Winter Solstice observances, but this year, instead if exploring things related to the Wiccan or Heathen male gods rebirth, the topic will be mothers.

Yule and Mothers Night

Anglo Saxon Pagans, according Bede, writing in the 8th century:

… began the year on the 8th calends of January [25 December], when we celebrate the birth of the Lord. That very night, which we hold so sacred, they used to call by the heathen word Modranecht, that is, “mother’s night”, because (we suspect) of the ceremonies they enacted all that night.”

They supposedly venerated the Disir, or the mothers, mother goddesses, protective mother ancestors, and held sacrifices in their honor. They gathered, feasted,

Yule lasted three days in Pre Christian days, but a lot of modern people observe it for twelve days, beginning December 20 or 21, with Mother’s Night being the first thing observed. Many do a ritual honoring the protective female mother ancestors and goddesses. Some give food or other gifts to them, light candles for them, and ask them to protect, watch over, bless, and ensure good coming harvest.

Some sources state Mother’s Night was the final festivity in Yule, and it was observed then in honor of the goddess Frigg. She wove people’s fate for the new year on that day, which was counted as New Years, and Frigg was honored. It was said she had knowledge of the future, but would not tell anybody what it was! She also was unable to alter the future, as evidenced by the fact she foresaw her son Balder’s death, and try as she could, she was unable to avert it.

I have attended candle lighting ceremonies Norse friends observe for some of the twelve days. They do candlelight vigils all night, with a prayer on the hour every hour, and network with one another from household to household if they can’t do it all under the same roof.

Of course, it is the women/ Matrons of our community who do this.

Some of these women have moved out of state, and some are no longer in contact with one another, but those marathon candlelight vigils are one of many things that are still maintained by almost all of the women to this day.

This is an appropriate introduction, I think for this month’s topic.

Mothers, and most specifically, mothers who have lost children.

Somebody’s Mother

I had the privilege of reviewing the beautiful film Somebody’s Mother, which was created by The Tollman Sisters, Gabriela and Evelyne. It’s been very successful in the US, and is headed to China!

I watched the film, myself and I recommend it. It’s a film that will make you think, and gets right to the difficult to face, let alone discuss issues that come when you lose a child.

As somebody who has been trying to have children for twenty years, and have been unable to, this film really hit home. The Tollman sisters explored so many of the things you deal with after such loss.

In the film, one sister’s baby died, and the other loses custody of her son after inability to take care of him that was not in any way her fault, and that she never meant to happen.

In the instance of losing custody due to inability to care for a child, the number one thing I see happening in the lives of my loved ones who have children is they become so focused on making their kids their all, they become completely unaware of their own needs at times. This is due to the great love they have for their children that compares to nothing else in their lives, and to a loving parent, no sacrifice for their children is too great. It can mean that sometimes, they don’t know how to ask for help, and they forget that even parents need support too. The topic specifically explored is postpartum depression, which I have seen more than one mother I love deal with it.

In the instance of the death of a child, I have been told by more than one parent that the death of a child is something you never fully recover from, and one that literally takes a part of your heart away that you never get back.

The stages of grief are explored intimately from the viewpoint of both sisters, and done in such a way that viewers can relate.

The film takes a very compassionate view of suffering many films exploring pain lack. At one point, in the film , it was said “I don’t know why I needed to go through it…I don’t know why I needed such pain.”

The film shows how loss of a child impacts the relationships of the parents of the children with one another. I don’t have the statistics of how many people’s marriages or engagements are called off when a child dies, but I’ve seen it happen quite a lot. The film presented a relationship surviving, and another not surviving.

The film portrays the inability to function normally in your own life after such a loss, and the great lengths people go to in order to keep up appearances, so people leave you alone about what happened. Sometimes, not talking about something that is tearing you apart emotionally is part of coping with it. It also shows how sometimes, that is absolutely impossible, however, and many of us have endured well meaning questions after losing a child we are not ready for like “ When will you have another baby?”

The love of sisters and how they are one another’s number one supporter, and closest friend in good times, and bad is intimately portrayed. It is a beautiful testament of the Tollman sisters devotion and love for one another as well.

Finally, the film shows how to pick up the pieces after unspeakable tragedy, and find hope for the future.

The link to the film’s pages follow, as well as a trailer.

http://www.somebodysmotherfilm.com/

https://www.facebook.com/SomebodysMotherfilm/

 

Trailer-

https://www.facebook.com/SomebodysMotherfilm/videos/504423143047518/

 

This film is now available on Amazon. Click Image below for more information:

 

Interviewing Gabriela Tollman

I had the opportunity to ask Gabriela Tollman some intimate questions she lovingly answered. Her words are as heartfelt and nurturing as the film.

 

Saoirse- Some of the women I interviewed about loss of their children are deeply suffering, even decades later. Some wanted to share, but could not bring themselves to talk about it. What words of advice, healing, and wisdom do you have for women dealing with loss of their children, be it through death, or loss of their living children?

 

Gabriela- It is an intensely painful experience to live through the loss of an infant, and it has been important for to let myself cry all of my tears. I spent two to three years crying. What helped me cope and carry on was the understanding that everything that happens in life has a reason. I know this idea does not comfort everyone, but it helped me. I began to see the events of my life, and the loss of my baby Charlie as a way to further advance the development of my soul. I also found many healers and teachers who helped me. Brian Weiss’ book Many Lives Many Masters was integral to helping me transform my pain into a spiritual lesson. Other books and healers that resonated with me are Anita Moorjani Dying to Be Me, and A Course in Miracles.

 

Saoirse-What do you recommend to these women to find strength when their own strength seems to vanish?

 

Gabriela- Writing down my story was an immense help for me. I wrote down anything I was feeling, thoughts and ideas in journals. These writings eventually became part of our film, Somebody’s Mother. Creativity of any kind helps transcend circumstance. It allows one to rise above and take control of grief and pain instead of it controlling you.

 

Saoirse- In what do you find comfort when it seems things are at their worst, to get you through until things are better?

 

Gabriela- As mentioned above, writing and creating helped me transform. Other practices that have helped me transform the pain are meditation. I practice transcendental meditation and this truly was the tipping point in getting me through that horrifying pain of grief. TM allowed me to find a place of peace inside myself, and release the oppressive negativity, anger, denial, fear and anxiety of grief. It is an incredible tool for all types of trauma and grief recovery. I also practice yoga, hiking, swimming, and am a certified hypnotherapist. Hypnosis is extremely effective for those who have a difficult time meditating, as it delves into the subconscious where I find peace and answers.

 

Saoirse- If you are religious, how does your personal devotion carry you in these times of grief? If you are atheist, but philosophical, how does your personal philosophy and values do the same? 

 

Gabriela- One of my favorite quotes is by David Bowie “Religion is for those who are afraid of hell, spirituality is for those who have already been there.” I am spiritual. The works of Brian Weiss, an MD, hypnotherapist, writer and teacher changed my life. He writes a lot about past lives and lessons that we need to experience in the flesh in order to grow, evolve, transcend and raise our vibrations. Another brilliant healer and teacher that I follow especially in difficult times is the work of Marianne Willamson. Her teachings of A Course In Miracles help me find understanding. A COURSE IN MIRACLES offers a lesson for each day of the year, which is an incredible practice for self-healing and transformation.

 

More on this beautiful film follows the working at the bottom of this article.

 

The Mothers Stories

I could write volumes about how my personal miscarriage and being childless breaks my heart, but instead I reached out to friends who have lost their children. Their names are changed for confidentiality, but they were good enough to share their own heartbreaking stories with me, and all of you.

First, my friend Patty lost a child to death, and custody of another.

Here is our conversation about it:

 

Patty- In 1998, I gave birth to Anthony Joeseph Oliver. He only lived 3 days. He was born on March 14th and died March 17th. He had potters syndrome.

Me- Oh gods! How does it make you feel?

Patty- Kind of bad still, but it gets easier. I also have a daughter who I don’t get to see who turned 18 in May. I wanted so badly for her to know Anthony, her big brother. He would have been 20 in March.

Me- I wish that had happened for them too. Have you ever been able to get a hold of your daughter?

Patty- No, but I’m hoping she tries to find me. I think she lives in Missouri. I miss them. It’s kind of hard to talk about it.

Our discussion ended at that point. Patty just couldn’t bear to talk anymore, and I understand. My prayer is she is able to make contact with her living daughter.

 

The next woman I interviewed is 20 year old Jade, who lost her child very recently.

This is her story;

Marceline was a very healthy baby up until the last two weeks I carried her. I was seeing Riverside doctors as well as Knox Community doctors. KCH refused to coordinate my care with Riverside, and wouldn’t believe me when I said she was ten days ahead of development.

Since I’m a Type 1 Diabetic, Marcy was already going to be bigger than a baby from a low-risk mother. I started going into labor at about 34 weeks, but KCH said I was too early, and stopped me. I went into labor again at about 36 weeks, and they didn’t really stop me since I was at the minimum week requirement, but they were going to give me a steroid shot for her lungs.

They had warned me about it last time I went into labor, and I had asked Riverside how it would affect me. They said I didn’t need it, and if they gave it to me it would possibly send me into Diabetic Ketoacidosis, which would hurt my baby. I told KCH I didn’t need it, and they told me I was getting it whether I liked it or not.

About a week after that, I went in for a non-stress test, which I did twice weekly. I was scheduled for 10:00AM. I switched rooms three times, and they took an hour trying to find her heartbeat. They brought in an ultrasound machine to see if they could find it, but the machine wasn’t functioning properly. The next two weren’t, either. It was about noon at this point, and I’m already panicking.

I was already at a higher risk for a stillborn birth, and I was afraid that’s what was happening. Mike, my fiancé, was watching the monitor since I couldn’t see it. He told me that the cord was wrapped twice around her neck, and he could see her heart and circulation stop.

The doctor that was operating the machine told me, “I’m so sorry, but your baby has passed away. We can’t find her heartbeat.” I feel like I screamed, but I was in so much shock that I can’t remember clearly. I remember crying that entire day. It took them another two hours to start me on a Pitocin drip, and another two to start the epidural. I had to lay with my dead child laying still in my belly, because they were forcing me to deliver vaginally.

They told me that I run the risk of not healing properly from a C-section. I honestly would’ve taken that risk if it meant they could revive Marceline. I had to lie and wait until late that evening before I could deliver her. It was over an hour that I was in labor. Marcelne had shoulder dystocia, and was stuck in my pelvis. My pelvis was too small for her. They were using the vacuum on her.

I remember screaming, and feeling everything, even with the epidural. Mike, Mom, and my best friend Mickey all saw the cord around her neck, and heard the doctor say, “Oh, that’s wrapped tight.” I saw her turn a little to block Mike from seeing her cut the cord. Marcy was born at 1:16AM on Sunday, July 9th, 2017. They let Mike cut the cord, then laid her on my chest.

The skin on her cheeks had started to slough off from the cord strangling her. When I let Mike take her and hold her, they wouldn’t let me up to see him. I don’t remember much after that, and I think I had fallen asleep. The next morning the nurses had brought her in so I could see her. Her poor little hands were so cold. Her lips were so dark they were nearly black. I remember sobbing as I held her and being so afraid to touch her, thinking she would disintegrate if I did. When everyone had left the room, and it was just Mom and I with her, we sang her her lullaby, Loch Lomond.

I begged her to just come back to me, to us. I told her how much we loved her and how badly she was wanted, and how I was so sorry this happened to my poor little fox. She weighed 8lbs. 12oz., was 20.5 inches long, and looked exactly like I did when I was born. I didn’t get to hold her anymore after that. I could barely hold myself together; I barely can now.

The doctor also told me it was my fault she died, saying it was complications from diabetes that killed her. They also tried talking us out of getting an autopsy done on her. The autopsy results were eight pages long, and there was only one thing that may have been linked to my diabetes, but was not the ultimate cause for her inter-uterine demise.”

It is my prayer that the blessings from the goddess be upon my beautiful friend that she may become a mother of healthy children, and that she may heal from this terrible tragedy.

 

The next woman who shared her story was Mary.

I was 16 when I found out I was pregnant. I was in and out of group homes for most of my teen years, so I was actually kind of excited that I would finally have someone who loved me who didn’t get paid to. (Teen logic). A few weeks later, I went to a party with some friends in a nearby hotel. I was the only one there not drinking. My baby’s life was too important to me.

Everyone was passed out on the beds in piles, except for me and one guy who was still drinking. I’d noticed him before, and he was cute, but I was in a relationship, so he was off limits. Besides, he was a cop’s kid, and he drank way too much, knowing he could get away with anything. I shook my head and decided to use the bathroom and find a place to go to sleep. He followed me to the bathroom. I won’t go into details, but he raped me on the bathroom floor, and no one even woke up. The next morning, I left before anyone else stirred. Once he had left the bathroom, I had spent the night curled up crying on the bathroom floor, so I was able to tiptoe out unnoticed. I called my best friend and asked her to come get me. She lived nearly two hours away, but she came, and instead of taking me home, she took me back to her house.

That night, I started spotting. Being so young, I had no idea what to do. I didn’t tell anyone, just got a pad and pretended everything was fine…until it wasn’t. By the next afternoon, I was bleeding heavily and having stomach pains so bad I couldn’t stand. I told my best friend what was going on, and she and some friends who were at the house took me to the ER. Of course, by then, it was too late to save the baby. That opportunity had passed the day before, if it ever even existed.

After the miscarriage, things are kind of a blur. However, I do remember what the doctor told me after my D&C. “You’ll never be able to get pregnant again. It was a miracle you were ever able to in the first place. And if you do manage to get pregnant, you won’t be able to carry a baby to term.” Just a few months later, I was pregnant again. This time, she was nearly a month late.

I was in the custody of DCS when I had my daughter. Less than two weeks after I had her, I turned 18. I told my case worker I wouldn’t leave the home for young mothers when I turned 18. I lied. I left on my birthday. She was livid, and actually tried to have my daughter taken from me. I fought like I had never fought before. No one was ever going to take THIS child away. I’d have died first.

Because of the miscarriage, and because I knew she would likely be my only child, I grew up and threw myself into motherhood head first. The late 80s were a time when almost all moms bottle fed their children, and preferred strollers and bouncy seats to skin on skin contact. I nursed my daughter, and improvised a way to carry her on my chest, much like today’s baby slings. She slept in a bassinet that was right beside my bed, and there were nights I would wake up and put my hand on her back, panicking a little until I could feel the rise and fall of her breathing. I never went a day without telling her I loved her, and I never went a night without reading a story and tucking her in. Perhaps I was TOO close to her, but I never wanted her to doubt my love.

The doctor was partially right. I was never able to have another child after my daughter. I tried to move on, but every year I would think about how old my first child would be if they were alive. Today, they would be 28. My daughter is 27. She is a beautiful woman with a wonderful life. I always told her growing up that she could be anything she wanted, but that all I wanted for her was happiness… I still feel that way. And she has it. That’s all a parent could ask for.”

I have thanked these beautiful women for sharing their stories, and they will be invited when I do the ritual I have written for this month’s article. It was very difficult for me to write this, as I could not stop crying the whole time. I will be blessed during this ritual as well.

I tried to think of something simple, but meaningful, and what I would want somebody to say to me for my grief over my own childlessness. I also looked to see what other liturgies I could find for women mourning loss of children, and I did not find much. I don’t ever remember hearing of such a ritual, and what little I did find was specifically for either funerals or miscarriages. I found nothing for women who are barren unless it was to pray for fertility. I found nothing for women who lost custody, as society tends to assume these women deserve that, but I’m not so quick to judge. I found a couple of Pagan prayers about miscarriage, and quite a few Catholic liturgies. I wanted to do something where the women bless and support one another, and as the women I am inviting venerate different gods and goddesses, I did not write this to be specific to honor a goddess, or to fit any one pantheon.

 

The Working

Instead of just honoring the Mother goddesses, living mothers, and mothers who have joined the ancestors, for your Winter Solstice Celebrations, I suggest a blessing for living Mothers who have lost children.

Decide if you want one officiant to act as a Priestess, or if you prefer to delegate parts and readings to multiple people, depending on the needs of your group.

You will need:

  1. One large candle for The Goddess,
  1. One candle for each child attending women have lost,
  1. A large pitcher of water, and cups to drink from.
  1. Boxes of Tissues in case anybody needs them because they are crying.

First, cast circle as you normally do, or leave the circle open as preferred.

Then light the large candle to welcome the goddess. Because of the solemnness of this rite, a silent lighting is acceptable unless you have a special way you want to welcome her.

Each woman should take the pitcher of water in her hands and bless it as she sees fit. The communal blessing is what will make this ritual powerful, as it is one another we oftentimes look to for love, and strength. Prayers, or focusing energy to bless the water as feels appropriate for each woman is acceptable.

After the water is blessed, have each woman light a single candle in honor of each child they have lost, saying the child’s name and sit all the candles in a circle around the blessed water.

The reading, as followed can be done by one person, or each person can take a part to read.

The unbreakable bond of flesh of our flesh transcends the body and mind, and unites through spirit.

Though their bodies are far from yours, their mother, your soul connection to your children is forever.

Though your life with your child ended, you are still their mother, and always will be.

Let the love of the Divine Mother who you manifest in this life fill the void the loss of your child left.

You, a vessel of life, create more than just human beings. You create life through joy, kindness, laughter healing, and love.

May the blessings that you, a reflection of the Goddess, bestow upon those around you be returned to you tenfold.

May those whose tears of sorrow you dry, dry your tears. May those who you bless with tears of joy fill you with joys beyond compare.

May the waters we have blessed heal us, wash away our sorrows, and restore things we thought our pain took from us forever.

May the Mothers mourning loss of connection with living children be reunited with them, and have a long, happy life together.

May the Mothers whose children have died be reunited with them in the place of the ancestors, if they do not reincarnate together.

May you have the love and support of other mothers around you. Know that you are never alone. You have the connection to the Divine Mother, and all Mothers on earth who embody Her.”

Next, give everybody a cup to drink of the blessed water.

Each woman will then take turns talking to their child, or children and think of something they would have done for their child. Since they can’t do that, let the Mothers take a pledge to do something for another child in honor of the child or children she has lost. It can be something as simple as babysitting for a single parent you know for free, or something as great as adopting or fostering another child who has no parents.

Next, take down circle as you normally do, and potluck.

Blessed Yule, and Blessed Be.

 

Below is more information about Somebody’s Mother.

 

From the Press Release about Somebody’s Mother-

FILMMAKER’S COMMENTS

I feel shattered, pieces of me flying everywhere. Some parts of me are back in the hospital with the ghost of Charlie. Some parts are on the other side with Charlie’s soul, floating, dancing in the light. Together the two of us, our forgotten love. The love we didn’t get to share in this lifetime because he died. My little baby died. He was born too early with a terrible infection. He became terribly septic and was suffering. We released him from his pain and took him off life support. He floated away back to the other side and he died. Some part of me is there with him. Another part is on the floor at Trader Joe’s, where I was just shopping but had to run into the bathroom, and beg God for mercy; from the pain that I was experiencing just walking through the bread aisle.

Grief showed me all its colors, textures, shapes and sizes. When I lost Charlie it felt as if I was never going to get out. One day, I had a vision in my meditation, that Charlie came and said I need to make this story, I need to talk about grief and loss and that there is a connection to the other side. He’s not lost, its just another realm. And so we began to change the script we had worked on. Making something, first by writing it down in the script, then re-enacting it out during production and finally observing it in the editing slowly allowed me to befriend the grief. The parts of my body rejoined other parts. Parts of my soul rejoined the other parts and the new fragmented me became whole again.

During a scene in our film SOMEBODY’S MOTHER I sort through a purple box, which was actually my Charlie’s baby items. These items were given to us from the hospital NICU and consisted of Charlie’s little hat, a lock of his hair, and his footprints. I hadn’t been able to go through that purple box since returning from the hospital over a year prior. I decided to go through it for the first time while we were filming. During the scene, I wept. I felt purified and cleansed. It was beyond healing, it felt shamanic. By fully embracing the pain, I somehow transcended it.

I wasn’t just doing it for me but as a way to understand others; who had or were going through this. I learnt that extreme pain forces us to leave our bodies and reconnect with something deeper than ourselves. In this process, we shatter into a million pieces destroying who we once were, our former selves; our ego identity to rebirth into a new self with new knowledge and a reconnection to “source” energy. Charlie taught me this. Making the film allowed me to fully understand it, and not become lost in the grief or hardened by it. Instead it helped me open and soften. The experience deepened my understanding that this pain is a universal experience, which ultimately made me more of who I am. — GABRIELA TOLLMAN (Director, Writer, Actor, Producer)

My sister and I were interested in exploring contrasting themes. So many women we know want to get pregnant so badly and when they do; they don’t enjoy motherhood. It’s complicated. The role of a mother; is expected of women. It is assumed that the role of a mother should come easily and feel natural, but this is not always the case. Not everyone should become a mother.

We wanted the audience to feel how lonely these two women feel. If we are disconnected from honoring loss and disconnected from pain then how do we move forward in life? If Anna had allowed herself to express the confusion as a mother, her guilt, shame and fear perhaps she could have sought help instead of walking away from her four-year old child and leaving him in a car. So many women go through postpartum depression but feel so much shame that they act out instead of seeking help. We wanted to explore these topics, these dark places that nobody really wants to see – the places that are uncomfortable for an audience to experience and yet when they do, they feel relieved that they survived and deepened their understanding along the way.– EVELYNE TOLLMAN (Writer, Actor, Producer)

 

This film is now available on Amazon. Click Image below for more information:

 

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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

 

Interview: Artist Amy Zerner and Author Monte Farber Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of ‘The Enchanted Tarot’

December, 2017

The Enchanted Tarot” has sold more than 250,000 copies since its release in 1992. On the 25th anniversary of the project that defined their lives, the creative couple – collage artist Amy Zerner and author Monte Farber – took the time to answer questions for PaganPagesOrg.

 

PaganPagesOrg: How did you two meet?

Monte: My first prophetic dream when I was 14 years old was really my best, for that is where I first “met” my gorgeous future wife, soulmate and artistic collaborator. I actually felt the then-indescribable feeling of being in love with her! It was a harbinger of the total and complete love that is my present daily experience.

Amy: In “real life” we met at the party for the filming of a movie in 1974. At the time, my friend Sharon and I would sometimes go to parties. Though she was kind of ditsy and had some serious personal problems, she was fun. She would often mention her friend Monte. She liked him, but not as a boyfriend. For a reason unknown to me at the time, every time she mentioned his name, a bell would go off in my head. I wondered, “Why?” That had never happened to me.

 

PaganPagesOrg: What was your first project together?

Monte: The Enchanted Tarot! Until then, we had worked separately, me as a musician who did readings on the side, and Amy as a fine artist who was pioneering her own fabric collage tapestry style after a lifetime as a painter. Although we had always been completely supportive of each other in our efforts, The Enchanted Tarot allowed us to work together on the same project for the first time and that, in turn, redefined our lives as artistic collaborators.

 

 

PaganPagesOrg: Tell me about how the Enchanted Tarot came to be.

Monte: I’ll never forget that fateful day back in 1986 when we attended the American eller’s Association convention, now called the BEA, in New Orleans. While I was acting as my own agent and securing a publishing deal for my astrology flash card fortune-telling game, KARMA CARDS, Amy was doing the same for The Enchanted Tarot. The stars must have been aligned spectacularly that day for we were, literally, coincidentally securing our places in the history of the divinatory arts with what turned out to be our first two classic, “evergreen” (books in continuous print for years) publishing phenomenons.

 

PaganPagesOrg: What led up to it?

Amy: We wanted to make an original and unique tarot system to use to do readings and be restored, stimulated and energized by my art and Monte’s words. The tarot inspires us and its archetypal language came to be Monte and my language of love as we matured individually and as wife and husband. We found that it not only helped us learn about ourselves, each other, and other people and events, but also helped us to make better decisions and otherwise improve our lives.

 

PaganPagesOrg: Amy, what inspired your images?

Amy: I am a collage artist. My imagery is very romantic, layered and lush. I create what I like to call “dreamscapes” using lace, vintage fabrics, antique prints, and embellishments of all kinds. As a designer and an author for over 35 years, I have always been drawn to multi-cultural myths. My talents became rooted in the healing process of envisioning images that protect and affirm, so I incorporate spiritual stories and symbols to convey those qualities. I have studied metaphysics for several decades and collaborating with Monte, who puts words with my visions. We are both passionate about bringing insights, art, creative solutions and intuitive messages to a world that so obviously needs it.

 

PaganPagesOrg: Is there a reason the cards are longer than other decks?

Monte: We wanted to make sure that the cards of “The Enchanted Tarot” were big enough for Amy’s art to be seen and all of the detail and symbols appreciated, which is also why “The Enchanted Tarot” book includes color images of all 78 cards. Plus, we are celebrating 25 years of “The Enchanted Tarot” and we thought bigger cards with a beautiful velvet bag would make the kit even more special.

 

 

PaganPagesOrg: What about this are you most proud?

Monte: We tried to brush away centuries of ignorance and superstition that surround the valuable ancient wisdom that can be found in the tarot, a tool to be used for contacting the divine within us all. The tarot is a sort of sacred machine devised to respond to your question and freeze your answer as a picture of it in time so that you may decipher it. The trick is to know how to derive meaning from your deck of tarot cards. In the book, we teach you how to do it. We are proud that with the publication of this most beautiful new edition, “The Enchanted Tarot” is recognized for its enduring power and beauty.

 

PaganPagesOrg: What was most challenging?

Amy: I worked so intensely on this project. It took a tremendous amount of energy and focus. Nearly every day and night was completely devoted to making sure each piece was true to itself while fitting in with the rest of its suit. My work area lies beneath a cathedral ceiling twenty feet high with skylight. It was here that I would lay out all of the individual background fabrics for each suit. The creation of one piece would bring inspiration regarding another and so I would move from one to the other like a bee in a flower garden. In this way I was able to give each suit a look of continuity and make sure that all issues relating to each were symbolically represented by either the human figure(s) portrayed, by the images, shapes, and colors surrounding them, or by the card’s border. It was only after I had completed each suit that Monte would write down the messages, symbols and stories he saw in each piece.

 

 

PaganPagesOrg: How long did it take to complete?

Monte: It was truly a labor of love, as one can see in every one of the deck’s seventy-eight tapestry images. It took Amy two years of intense concentration involving finding all the right materials, immersing herself in the journey of the tarot, and perfecting the techniques that she had developed in her fabric collage tapestries that had evolved over the previous twenty years. She considers “The Enchanted Tarot” to be the first masterwork of her artistic career, since all of life is contained in its imagery.

 

PaganPagesOrg: How did Monte devise the meanings? We’ve seen a lot of decks and none of them have offered information in such a format: Quick Read, The Dream, The Awakening, The Enchantment. Can you speak a little about this?

Monte: Until “The Enchanted Tarot,” decks and their books seemed to revel in being “occult,” a word that means darkened, hidden, or obscured. Many felt, and some still do, that keeping the tarot as a seemingly impenetrable jumble of esoteric symbolism would be a barrier to entry, that would keep out those who were not serious or otherwise not worthy to learn the tarot’s secrets. This was the old ways of what they used to call the Mystery Schools.

Amy and I, however, wanted as large an audience as possible to share in and benefit from the guidance we knew to be contained in the tarot and so we planned to make our deck beautiful, to ensure the widest audience and to avoid the harsh and garish images that we believed to be so off-putting to so many. Rather than make the text the usual medieval sounding word salad, I tried from the beginning to use the tripartite metaphor of The Dream, The Awakening, and The Enchantment to convey the essence of the tarot: it is a symbolic language that speaks to us in the same language as does our dreams.

The Dream is the gentle fable that reveals the fabric of each card’s allegorical meaning by weaving a tale of explaining the action and symbols portrayed. The Dream entertains as it penetrates the psyche to fulfill the card’s intention. The stories are full of the innocence of youth yet they also contain the wisdom of years. They can be seen as engaging fantasies that speak directly to our subconscious.

The Awakening brings the lesson of each story into our conscious mind for evaluation and assimilation, so it may be used as a tool for guidance and personal growth. It is a straightforward explanation of what each card signifies when it appears in a specific reading.

The Enchantment provides the link between our waking world and the land of dreams. The use of healing rituals, charms, chants and spells reinforces our awareness of the existence of the magical world and reminds us of our ability to draw on its power. These enchantments aid us in casting out fears, drawing in love and abundance, and healing emotional wounds.

 

PaganPagesOrg: What deck(s) did each of you use before beginning to make your own?

Amy: The Rider-Waite Deck.

 

PaganPagesOrg: Since you both appear to be living an enchanted life, do you see your own story in the cards?

Amy and Monte: In our lives, tarot is such a friend and ever-present intriguing and reliable adviser that we can’t imagine how it was to live without it. Our life, our story and our love is reflected in all of “The Enchanted Tarot” cards. The best thing about even our worst days is that we are together – we are very rarely apart, and it is very beautiful where we live. We have our mission, and that and our many wonderful and interesting friends are what gets us up in the morning – actually, that’s Mr. Zane’s job (our cat!).

 

For Amazon information, click image below.

 

***

About the Author:

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

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

October, 2017

Bright Blessings.

 

Fall is here, and we are rapidly moving towards the final harvest, Samhain.

 

In years past, my Samhain articles gave information about historic observances in Pre-Xtian times, including historic sites. I always include a working, and some personal anecdotes as well.

 

This month, I had the opportunity to talk about ghoulies, ghosties, long leggety beasties, and things that go bump in the night with horror writer, and director Michael Williams.

 

 

 

He and his team just released a fun, and creative horror called The Atoning, which I reviewed, and highly recommend all of you watch. I would like to thank Michael, and his team mate David for arranging the very engaging discussion I will share with you below.

Being both a Pagan, and a witch, I covered topics of personal views on the Otherworld, spirits, and communication with them, psychics, and witches, and what terrifies human beings.

I hope you enjoy reading our conversation.

I will also share a working after the interview.

 

The Interview

Saoirse-Thank you for chatting with me today, and thank you for doing this via internet.

Michael Williams- No problem! Thanks for having me. I appreciate your interested in The Atoning.

S- Horror is my favorite genre, so when Jennifer asked who wanted to review and interview, I was excited! First, I would like to say I read your professional bio, and noted this is your crossing over into horror. This means you hope to do more horror?

M- I am definitely open to doing more horror as long as the script and concept is something that excites me. I’ve always done films with a genre twist, so for my 2nd feature, it made sense to explore horror. However, I had to make sure it was a story that fit into my own sensibilities as a filmmaker.

S- Absolutely. This was a very creative story. Even for horror, which I like to call perhaps the most creative genre. You started out showing a haunting, and it turned out the family being told about WERE the ghosts. That is not something you see often. What made you decide to tell the story from their viewpoint?

M- Well, that was the basic premise that lead to the whole story that followed. I wanted to make a film that felt like a genre-bending horror film that was grounded in a compelling story about these characters. The film literally, and metaphorically deals with Hell. The initial premise was how horrific, and hellish it would be to be stuck in purgatory with the man who killed you, and your son. The main exploration of Hell in the film is Vera’s personal Hell of being in this situation. To me, the real horror of the story is what is going on within the family. The other elements are added horrors to help facilitate the deeper story of our characters.

S- Yes. What is your personal religious or metaphysical background, and how does that shape your concepts of portraying in the film what hell is?

M- I’m a Christian, and I always tend to make films with a religious subtext. However, I don’t like overtly Christian films and don’t want to make those. I would rather make films that can be enjoyed by people of all types. My previous film, OzLand, is a about a lot of things. However, the heart of it is about coexisting, loving, and respecting people with different points of view than you. Because I don’t make overtly Christian films, and leave a lot of room for interpretation, and self-discovery. I often am surprised by what people take away from the films, or even the complaints I get about them not aligning with other people’s Christian beliefs. In a way, I like that. I think it proves that religion isn’t so clear cut. Some people can watch OzLand, or The Atoning, and get various religious interpretations, while other people can completely miss it. First and foremost, I want to make films that entertain people. However, I always want to make films that stick with people after the credits, and allow them to think deeper about its story, and how it can apply to their own lives. As for The Atoning, I never intended to make a film that explored any real doctrine, or idea of afterlife. Instead, I wanted to create a world with its own rules. I have received some flack for not exploring the afterlife in a Biblical way. However, that was the point. Vera is unsure of her faith and beliefs, because the afterlife wasn’t as she expected. Plus, she feels like she is being punished by something she doesn’t deserve. While this isn’t Biblical, it all stems from a lesson I learned years ago. I had a preacher who gave an amazing sermon about how you can’t put your faith in people, or things because those things will ultimately disappoint you. You have to put your faith in God. The next week, he was arrested during VBS. This was a great lesson, and he knew we needed to hear it. In our story, Vera and Sam are both held back from their destination, because of the ties, and unresolved issues they had in life. Vera holds on to the facade of a marriage, and loving a man who doesn’t deserve it. Sam see his dad as a heroic figure. They both have misplaced faith in something that has, and will disappoint them. It’s a metaphor for how some worldly things can hold us back from our potential, or from a Christian perspective, hold you back from salvation. I am not trying to say that our film’s exploration of this scenario is Biblical, scientific, or anything. I merely created a fable in which other themes, and ideas can be explored. The “neo-purgatory” that we explore in the film is something that I made up, and is presented through the writings of our fictional character Charon Lilith. It is a whole new set of rules of how the souls are trapped, and the process for which they can be released.

S- Well, I have no complaints. Let me talk about my publication I personally write for.

PaganPages.Org. Our eMag is an online Pagan publication, and you won’t be judged by any of us.

We come from many different traditions, and have varying beliefs. We do not believe any one person’s beliefs is right, or that anybody else’s are wrong.

M- Exactly! No one can really know. It’s all about faith in what you believe in.S- Yes! As for creating fables. In some ways, some feel that is what the religious myths are anyhow. Just some become dogma, and some become awesome films.

M- And fables always have a message worth exploring.

S- Exactly. Human beings explain things with fables. The sun is a god that gets eaten, and is given birth to, for example.

M- Our lives, and experiences are so complex. Sometimes, fables can help us simplify it, and make it easier to explore, and understand.

S- Yes, they do. This article is going to be about the Sabbat of Samhain. Have you heard of that?

M- I haven’t.

S- This is what inspired Halloween, and we believe the veil between the world of the living, and the Otherworld is thin, and communication with the dead is stronger. That is why you see séances a lot at that time. It is also a time to honor the ancestors. So, themes I am bringing in are about the Otherworld and spirit communication, which your film dealt with. Your psychic was a lot of fun.

M- Oh nice! Yeah, I really enjoyed exploring that character, and working with Dorothy Weems to realize it. That is another area of the film where we have seen some flack from reviewers. However, I think a lot of people are missing how she fits into the bigger story, and her actual intentions/actions. We developed a lot of backstory, and a whole world around her, and how it works within our story.

S- She works with what I call The Power of the Witch. On one hand, she was not completely realistic. On the other, hand, she is the one who makes the atonement start.

M- Well, she isn’t what I would consider a witch. At least, she isn’t just a witch. She is more than that. She is an agent of the devil. We liked to say she received “brownie points” from the devil for every soul she claimed for him. She is more demonic than I think people realize. On the surface, and to the family who hired her to cleanse the house, she is just a medium who came to cleanse the house. She puts on a big show, and gives the family what they think they need to see. However, she merely uses these opportunities to find lost souls she can reclaim for a darker purpose. She can’t touch the souls destined to heaven, but she can reclaim those destined for Hell. With the rules in which our film works, these souls are stuck because of “destination confliction”. These souls are stuck in purgatory with conflicting destinations. They’re held together because of unresolved issues in life that keep their souls connected. Charon Lilith performs a showy seance to appease the family, however, she comes back later to summon her demonic minions. Each of these demons have a specific personality and purpose for “partitioning the souls”, and allowing them to find their ultimate destination. She knew what the family’s issues were, and used her minions to play to those issues.

S- Yes, she was demonic, I agree!

M- We liked to think she receives extra-long life for each soul she claims. The film is all about facades. Perhaps, she is centuries old, and continues to keep up this facade of a medium to prevent herself from dying, and ultimately having to atone for her lifetimes of demonic deeds. It was a really fun character to explore. I wish we had more room in the film to explore it. However, all of that exploration helped dictate how we see her in the film.

S- She was the one who did bring in the demons yes, but had that not happened, mom and kid could not have moved on. I am, and know a lot of psychics who are hired to go into homes. We talk to dead people, and some have done exorcisms.

M- Exactly! For Sam, and Vera, she wasn’t a threat. Instead, she was the catalyst to finally freeing them. For Ray, well, she was not the person he wanted to see. The more he read into the book, he realized what was happening. He worked to get closer to Ray, and Vera to keep them from “partitioning”. Even in life, he manipulated them to keep them on their side. In death, he had more incentive to keep them on his side.

S- So she POSED as a psychic. That actually makes a lot of sense.

M- Yep. She was just putting on a show!

S- Which I could see, but the family being haunted could not.

M- Yep! Towards the end of the seance, the family starts realizing something isn’t right, and that this woman might be doing more than they hired her to do.

S- Have you, personally ever had exposure to actual psychics, or anybody else who could speak with the dead?

M- I haven’t had the opportunity.

S- Have you ever had experiences where you felt the presence of spirits?

M- I haven’t. I have always wanted to see a ghost, or have an encounter with something unexplainable, but never have.

S- Aaaah. Anybody you know who did?

M- Not that I’m aware of. I have had some friends who have had experiences, but they were more than likely night terrors.

S- I see. You have quite a good understanding of the reality of spirits despite having no experiences.

M – Really? Glad you think so! I just imagined “what if” in a lot of these scenarios. I also wanted it all to be based on reality. I had to think, what was the other family doing and why would these things be happening. The noises or ghostly encounters were just for the genre. They were pulled from everyday actions the family on the other side could’ve been doing.

S- Yes, they were. Now I always say, fictional writers are not responsible to be realistic,

and one thing I love about horror is they sky is the limit to what can be portrayed.

M- Exactly! That was one fun aspect of the genre. There are so many aspects of the genre we could explore.

S- Yes. For me, being metaphysical, seeing fiction is fun.

M- Most definitely!

S- But I get disappointed in the public sometimes, because people see on TV or a movie, and assume it is fact.

M- I understand that. I hope people see our film as fictional. That is why I am disappointed to see people missing the message, and thinking we are promoting a belief that is false. Moreover, we hope people don’t think we are portraying psychics, or mediums in a realistic manner. I hope they see that she is putting on a façade, and is a more sinister character. Our character isn’t intended to represent psychics, or mediums. Ours is evil with purposes beyond just conversing with spirits, or cleansing houses. I hope people realize that. I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to talk about that, and clear it up!

S- Honestly, some people don’t, and that is not writers or filmmakers fault. I realize that the horror is not meant to be realistic. It is meant to entertain! And it does!

M- And it can always do more than entertain! It can be a catalyst for messages, and themes that apply to our own lives.

S- True! I just like the scary! Which brings me to the topic of fears. As human beings, we are scared of so much. Things that could threaten us, our wellbeing, lives, and freedom, and horror takes those themes, and explores them.

M- Exactly! Monsters are scary, but they’re even scarier when they represent, or feed on our fear of more realistic things.

S- YES! And I think that is one thing film accomplishes. It helps us explore what terrifies us. Only we get to watch somebody else dealing with it! What terrifies you, personally?

M- Hmm, one of my biggest fears is losing my memories, or losing my sanity. Ever since I was little, I would collect, and hoard things so that I had a reminder of it. I’m terrified of losing things that mean something to me.

S- That is a pretty normal fear. Without your sanity, or memories, how could one function?

M- What about you?

S- I am agoraphobic. I am terrified it will take over. It has not, but the fact it COULD scares the hell out of me.

M- Most definitely!

 

 

For More information on The Atoning & Michael Williams, visit them at:

https://www.facebook.com/theatoning/

https://www.facebook.com/shendopenproductions/

 

 

***

I very much enjoyed this engaging interview. In it, we learn about his creative process with concepts such as spirit communication, and the Otherworld we observe for Samhain. Belief in ability for spirits to communicate with the living is so widespread, even people who have had no personal experiences create films about it!

 

One topic that is debated often in the Pagan community is how film and TV portrays humans who have spiritual gifts. I’ve heard a lot of people com plain shows don’t portray things realistically, and the public makes assumptions about us based on fiction. I don’t understand this viewpoint.

 

How somebody could believe one human being could raise denizens of hell, fly on brooms, do immortality spells, eat babies, etc. as some shows portray is beside me. People who would believe such things would likely believe it all even if shown only the facts.

 

But believe me, if I could fly a broom, I absolutely would!

I also wanted to touch on the part of our discussion dealing with concepts of the afterlife. I think the reason people are so defensive of their belief system’s dogma about what happens after death is people need to feel like they KNOW for certain what will happen to us once we die. Otherwise, the unknown is too overwhelming for people. Not knowing what is going to happen to you or where you go is too much for some to bear.

In regards to fear, I polled some friends to see what terrifies them.

 

The answers are not in order, but here they are:

Swarms of bugs

Large, dark, enclosed spaces

The Xtain Right

Trump and out government

Cults

Deep water

Failure

Worry about your kids

Being in line at the pharmacy

Forgetting your money

The Passing of time

Impermanence

Drunks with shotguns

Idiots

Spiders

Knives

Losing your vision

Leaving he house alone

Death

Losing Hope

Being single

Being alone

Financial woes

People who hurt others

Animal abusers

The IRS

Ignorance

These are all things that can threaten our safety, health, and wellbeing, our lives, or our freedom. These are things that make our survival mechanism kick in, and tell us to protect ourselves. The very thought of these awful, threatening things are enough to send us into panic mode sometimes!

Then there are the individuals, such as myself who love to watch all this in movies, and finds it highly entertaining!

Another thing on the topic of fears, realistically speaking, is that there are two kinds of fears. There are fears that are rational, and then fears that are not. If you don’t want to go out clubbing because there is a tornado spotted nearby, that is understandable. If you decide to never go clubbing again because one time there was a tornado warning right before you almost went, that isn’t helpful. There is a time to push past fears, and a time to listen to them, because they are warning us of danger.

The trick is, to know which kind of fear it is!

I am not one of the people who thinks everybody should be brave and go out and do EVERYTHING with no worries. I don’t think that is positive thinking. I think that’s downright stupid.

 

Some fears are learned slowly over time and are ingrained in us so deeply, they shut our minds, and bodies down completely. This is called conditioned fear. A lot of fears are based on bad past experiences, and those fears are ALWAYS going to be there lurking in some capacity.

The trick isn’t to just make them go away. The trick is to learn to function despite them.

When fear takes hold of the human body, certain biological things are triggered. Hormones including epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisone are released. These cause your heartrate to raise, and your blood flow, and blood sugar levels to rise. These make you ready for ACTION! They give you an extra boost you need to defend yourself or run. Reaction to fear can also be freezing, or fainting.

So, what do you do when you are in a situation where you cannot avoid that frightening thing you deem a threat to your safety, survival, wellbeing, or freedom?

Long term, a solution that has been effective in treating 90% of people suffering from fears is something called cognitive behavior therapy. That is, gradually exposing people to their fears in non-threatening ways so they learn they will be okay.

I found a lovely quote. “The fears we don’t face become our limits.” A Robin Sharma is credited with saying that. Another nice quote is “Feel the fear and do it anyways”, which a Susan Jeffers said.

I , personally deal with phobias, which are severe fears on a daily basis, and it was all triggered by an illness that started a few years ago. The result is a battle to even leave the house sometimes. NEVER leaving this house in just not an option. I hate that I have become this way, and I hate that I have limitations I never had before.

I have not defeated the fears, by any means, but every single day when I leave this house, I have to do certain things to function, and I’m pretty certain there are other people who could do the same thing to get through a frightening situation.

I will be doing a second Samhain article for the November article, and I’ll include a more magical working, and topics dealing with The Otherworld there. For this month’s working, I’ll share some steps I recommend to take when facing a fear that have worked for me, and if you think they might help you out, give them a try.

Saoirse’s Steps to Facing Fear

  1. I tell myself I am stronger than my fear– Most times I absolutely am. Sometimes, I’m not. As words have power, I have to talk to myself the times I feel weakest. I tell myself that I CAN do this even if I think I can’t. The more I say it to myself, the more I believe it.
  2. I tell myself it is not worth it to let my fear hold me back.
  3. I tell myself I am worrying about nothing.
  4. I tell myself it will be over soon– And that when it is finished I will see I was scared over nothing.
  5. I tell myself the good things about what I am doing– If it’s a car trip I am dreading, I remind myself of who I am going to visit. If it’s a gathering I am dreading, I remind myself the people who I look forward to seeing.
  6. I remind myself what I get by facing the fear is far greater than I have to give up.
  7. I accept that perhaps I will not be so graceful facing the fear, but I will be proud when I do it anyhow.
  8. I focus on the achievements, as opposed to the perceived failures– If you focus only on the times you reacted poorly, you will forget the times you did well. Try to remember you CAN do well, and strive for that.
  9. Try, try again– Say you fall on your face in the mud running away when you see a cat because cats scare the hell out of you. Walk past the cat again in the future just to prove to yourself that you can.
  10. Get the hell out when you need to– I’m sorry. It’s not a good idea to stick around sometimes. You don’t have to prove your bravery to people sometimes. If you CANNOT get out? Just do the best you can.

Other Things You Can Do!

  1. Wear a talisman– Talisman’s charged with energy to make you achieve, be brave, or accomplish what you thought was impossible are helpful things to keep on hand when you know you are about to walk into a scary situation. Good luck pieces, or things people you love have blessed are good for this as well.
  2. Bless Yourself Beforehand– A little good blessing juju can only help. Some cleanse and bless, and some just bless. Remember to banish, cleanse, and bless afterwards as well. Although the positive energy of achievement might be enough good energy, you don’t need a cleansing or blessing afterwards!
  3. Take a friend along– Sometimes, you have to face things alone, but you don’t ALWAYS have to! It’s okay to have the support of loved ones when you need it. You can always reciprocate another time!
  4. Research the Fear– The more you know about something, the more you understand it. The more you understand it, the less you have to be afraid of sometimes.
  5. Make a poppet of it– Bind it, destroy it, or “strip its powers over you away” symbolically through doing so to a poppet representing it. The more energy you put into destroying its power, the less power it will hold over you.

The most important thing to understand about fear is, it’s normal, natural, and everybody has some form of fear or another. It is no sign of weakness, or failure. There are going to be times when you are powerless, or out of commission temporarily due to a fear, and that is human. We have to forgive ourselves in those situations, and try again another time.

Now, I have a blessing for you that you can look in the mirror and say to yourself during times when you are gripped by fear.

 

I look into my eyes, and I see the divine. I see the strength of my ancestors, and the support of all my loved ones, and mentors. I am greater than my greatest of strengths, and no less powerful because of my weaknesses. I am the human embodiment of the creator, and the beloved child of the keeper of eternity. I am the culmination of millions of years of wisdom, light, strength, and love.

 

That which I fear threatens me only on the physical plane. I transcend that. I have limitations due to this physical body, but that is not who I am. Who I am is limitless, timeless, and ageless.

 

I have the strength to enjoy the best of things, and I have the power to sustain even the worst of things. I am divinely protected until I am fated to cross the veil, and join the blessed ancestors, where I will watch over my descendants, and loved ones until my return to another physical incarnation. So Mote it Be.”

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.  

The Making of the Video for ElectraChic’s Song Erde/Terre

September, 2017

 

ElectraChic is a German based band who released their debut album, ImPassionnément, in November of 2016. They find their influences & themes in Shamanism and through the Sacred Feminine.

 

 

When it was time for ElectraChic to set out to make a video for the first song, Erde/Terre, off their new album, ImPassionnément, they did not have very far to look. Singer Annick Moerman & ian Rike Casper turned to Annick’s son, 25 year old Thomas Govaerts, a recent graduate of the School of Media.

 

We asked Thomas to share his thoughts with us on the making of the video for Erde/Terre and here is what he had to share:

 

For a couple of years I’ve also been passionate about spirituality and esotericism. During my studies I had the chance to try a shamanic journey with drums. I looked for many other practices since then (paganism, mediation, or yoga for example).

About one year ago, my mother (Annick Moerman) made this album, ImPassionnément, with Rike Casper. She asked me if I could do a music video for her. I could choose any music off the album and I immediately chose Erde (“Earth” in German) because of its shamanic sounds.

In my job or during my studies I worked on great projects, but none of them had a spiritual meaning or aesthetic. I’ve always had a wish to insert spiritual contents in a pure visual form, almost abstract and without using words in videos.

So, for me shamanism is the perfect subject. During a shamanic experience (not necessarily using drugs, but only drum or dancing) someone can get information, not in a literal form but through images or sensations. Maybe that’s the reason why there are many symbols in old mythologies.

This is the kind of feeling I wanted to put in a video, I wanted to use visuals to deliver a spiritual feeling. 

For this reason I did a lot of research on pagan symbols: Icelandic magical staves, Viking runes, Aztec symbols, Rongorongo alphabet. The sami drums was also a major inspiration (more info:  http://old.no/samidrum/)

In this video there is a mix  of old and existing symbols and symbols of my creation.

Even if those symbols come from very different times and places, I find them very similar. They are very simple and naïve but they have the power to connect you to something very old and ancestral. They don’t interact with your intellect, but they go deeper. It’s as if they could activate an unconscious force.

I also wanted to represent the sacred feminine and its connection to nature and earth. I think that the dance is a visual form that can perfectly express this. The dance  allowed me to do a fluid and dynamic video, and not only to show static symbols. I tried to create a unity between the symbols, the music, the dancing and nature, to make a very alive and organic video. In the same way, during a shamanic experience, things are connected but always changing: what is usually hidden to the eyes becomes manifest. At the end of the music video the dancer completely merges into this unity. 

So I hope that the video works on the viewer’s unconscious and that, in some way, it connects him to the invisible aspect of nature.

I don’t know if I succeeded in this task, I’m still a young filmmaker and this is one my first works. I see that there are still a lot of mistakes in the video. However, I hope that in the future I’ll make other better videos. I would like to make videos that have a real impact on the viewer, as if they were spells. A little bit like Lynch’s or Jodorowsky’s movies.

The shooting of the video was made in the forest near Brussels. For the equipment we used a Canon 5D. The cinematography is made by Quentin Govaerts. The dancer is Charlotte Bossu. I did the directing, editing and the visuals effects.”

 

We’d like to thank Thomas for taking the time to let us in his head to experience what he did while making this video.

 

We now present the video for ElectraChic’s Erde/Terre, Enjoy!!

 

 

 

 

You can find ElectraChic’s Album for purchase on their site:

https://electrachic.bandcamp.com/releases

 

They also have an ElectraChic Facebook Page at:

https://www.facebook.com/electraChic/

 

 

***

About the Author:

Jennifer Sacasa-Wright is an Eclectic Witch who runs PaganPagesOrg eMagazine. She has many opinions, thoughts, & suggestions, and, at times, has problems holding her tongue. She loves hearing your opinions and thoughts on the magazine and welcomes comments.

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

September, 2017

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times Mabon 2017

Bright Blessings!

 

The harvest is in full force now. It is hard to believe it was just Lammas, and already, it is nearly Mabon!

 

Some of you are hard at work, gathering the fruits of your labor from your gardens, others, reflecting upon the fruits of your labors in your lives.

 

At my garden, we’ve had a very small harvest so far this year, but it’s not over yet.

 

We got six zucchinis, and three cucumbers. One cucumber is left on the vine, and then I think I will be pulling them out of the ground, as they have turned mostly to brown crispy dried up leaves, with a few scattered bright gold blossoms. The sunflowers, however, are the stars of the garden. We planted giant ones that are about eight feet tall now.

 

Our tomatoes are just now starting to produce. We shall see how well we fare!

 

Since the last Sabbat, however, I have harvested much more, personally than my garden has. I have somehow been lucky enough to grow closer to some loved ones, and to get back in touch with some I’ve not visited with in quite some time.

 

A visit with a friend I met 22 years ago reminded me of how we die back, and rejuvenate ourselves after rest.

 

This friend is in her mid 70’s, and died back for a bit when her husband passed. She’s back in full force, the spitfire matron of her family, and she’s out there running circles around many of us decades younger!

 

Not everybody has been as lucky as my friend. She was able to rebound from this horrible tragedy, and is still going strong. I know other people whose tragedies slowed them down much more, and they are still recovering, trying to get their lives back on track.

 

I told one such friend who is nearly recovered, that we need to strive to be like my matron friend! We have a lot of years ahead of us, hopefully, and we want them to be productive, happy, and blessed with the abundance of love, and prosperity.

 

It gave me a lot think about in regards to thankfulness, reaping what we sow, and good fortune. It also makes me think of how much we have to be thankful for from our elders.

 

All the things they did before us are the things we now build upon. Then, what we do adds to the foundations our children build their futures upon. Our elders shaped us so we could further shape others. Where would any of us be today without them?

 

Mabon is about the dying back of the god, who will be reborn, as does the earth. It is when day and night are equal, and afterwards, nights lengthen, creating shorter days. We move toward Samhain, the beginning of Winter.

 

The turning wheel of seasons and Sabbats reminds me of how, as human beings, we move through our own personal cycles. Time not being linear, we often come back around to what we began.

 

One way we do this is that, as we age and grow, we become wise, and share our wisdom with those we are mentoring. They in turn, mentor others. We become, for one another, the eternal and never-ending cycling life, and time, creating, and changing traditions, and sacred ways together.

 

This month…

I made the mistake of waiting until only a couple days of due date to start thinking of what I wanted to write about for this Sabbat! Likely, I will be a day or two late turning this article in! As usual, I pulled up the past couple years of articles to ensure I don’t write about the exact same thing again.

 

It dawned on me I’d only read of Mabon ap Modron. I knew we called the Sabbat Mabon, and yet I’ve never met a devotee of his, nor have I attended ritual that specifically venerated him. I was reminded that one of the early Wiccans, Aidan Kelly named the Sabbat Mabon…and lucky for me, he is on my friends list on Facebook. I say that he is one of my elders being what I consider a founder, and I consider him an elder of everybody who calls themselves Wiccan today. We are more than blessed for all he is done, and very lucky he is still there for us.

 

He was kind enough to agree to let me ask questions and include what he answered in this article.

 

First, a bit about him.

 

Aidan Kelly

 

 

A picture when Aidan Kelly was younger- even younger than I am!

 

 

A more recent photo of him!

 

Born in 1940, Kelly is known by many as one of the co-founders of Covenant of the Goddess, and the writer and researcher for the New Reformed Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn.

 

I, however, first heard about him from my Priest, Lord Shadow, who is a strong believer in dispelling all forms of bullshit. He spoke highly of Kelly’s publication Crafting the of Magic, which enjoyed a second edition in 2008 as Inventing Witchcraft.

 

This publication gave evidence that Wicca was created by Gardner, and showed where he got inspiration for certain things used in it. For example, there are some things that were garnered from sources like Crowley, which were in no way an unbroken set of practices from pre-Xtian British practice. Kelly listed plenty of reasons there is no evidence Gardner was actually initiated in 1939 by an established coven as he claimed.

 

Some people were highly pissed off by this.

 

Some said Kelly published secret information from Gardner’s Book of Shadows, supposed to be for Coven members only.

 

I always get a kick out of how somebody could be upset by the public having knowledge of Gardner’s work since he actively published so “secret” information, himself. There were actually early Wiccans who were quite upset Gardner spoke so publicly about Wicca, and they, personally were concerned about being outed from the broom closet. Much could be written on just this topic itself.

 

You can find Gardner’s Book of Shadows to read for free on Sacred-texts.com. Better yet, I will provide the link here. I am sure plenty of Gardnerians have personal of Shadows that are different from this one, however, as some create their own .

 

http://www.sacred-texts.com/pag/gbos/index.htm

 

Gardner also drew much inspiration from Margaret Alice Murray’s writings. She had been a prominent Egyptologist, and her claims the witch trials were persecuting actual practices were not well received by everybody. Gardner was, however, more than inspired by her claims.

 

While some hold fast the belief what we do in Wicca is what has always been done, others reject the idea that Wicca was the folk religion of ancient Britain that went underground during “burning times”. Many assert it is modern practice, created in modern times, and inspired by modern writings, interpretation of ancient lore, and the very creative minds of Gardner and others.

 

Just because it’s neo practice, and an attempt to revive veneration of these old gods does not make it any less valid to many of us. With the evidence out there that Gardner created Wicca, and others like Doreen Valiente helped polish it, I have never understood the need some have to believe Wicca is a carbon copy of pre-Xtian Pagan practice. Wicca today is changing, and means many different things to many different people. Fifty years from now, it will be even more different. Wicca is a living tradition, and that means it evolves, which suits the people who practice it. That’s a good thing.

 

Thankfully, Kelly, himself is still teaching and writing various topics, and he’s sharing the beautiful poetry he composes.

 

Here is the short interview I did with him about Mabon.

 

Mabon Interview of Aidan Kelly

 

Saoirse– “Why, specifically did you name the Sabbat Mabon is my big question?”

 

Kelly– “Archaeological and mythological evidence is that the fall equinox is an ancient ( at least 5k years) fest associated with death and rebirth of a young person (Kore, Issac) . Mabon is the only one I could find in the Northern myths.”

 

Saoirse– “ I was marveling that I have NEVER met a devotee to that god, however, I have attended plenty of Mabon rites. I am wondering if you think this is typical these days, and Neo-Pagans have broadened pantheons?”

 

Kelly– “Actually, he is a minor character in an obscure tale in the Mabinogin, so that’s not surprising. But lots of people want to argue that he should be honored on some other Sabbat, because they don’t get what question I was asking.”

Saoirse– “And what was the question you were asking?”

 

KellyWhat myth about a child rescued from death night have been associated with the equinox in Northern cultures?”

 

Saoirse– “And Mabon was, absolutely. That is interesting that although we don’t venerate Mabon specifically, we call it Mabon anyhow in the rites I have seen, the god who dies is not named- he is just called the god.”

Kelly– “We have the four Gaelic names for the Celtic Sabbats, but only three Saxon names for the other four, which are far older. I wanted a name poetically parallel to Yule, Eostre, and Litha. I would have preferred a Saxon name, but could not find one. And Mabon ap Modren means “son of the mother” just as Kore (girl) is “daughter of the mother.” 

 

Saoirse– “I am thinking Balder, except he was not resurrected- unfortunately

What initial reactions did people have to your naming it Mabon? Did those reactions change over time?”

 

Kelly– “I used the name in the “Pagan-Craft” calendar I was putting out in 1974 (first of its kind, AFAIK), sent a copy to Oberon. He liked it, started using it in Green Egg, and it went the 1970s equivalent of viral. I don’t remember when I started getting arguments, because they are not important enough to qualify for being remembered.”

 

Saoirse– “I agree! Did you specifically write Autumnal Equinox rites that included Mabon ap Modron? Or had you attended any? I have not, myself, and I am wondering what you feel would be appropriate in ritual?”

 

Kelly– “No, our Mabon Sabbat is a commemoration of the Eleusinian Mysteries and so is focused on Kore/Persphone, with Demeter, Hades, Hermes, and Hekate and a couple of other gpoddesses in supporting roles.”

 

Then, Kelly was good enough to scan, and send me a copy of the ritual, which I will share here. It is a full eighteen pages long!

 

So, before I share it, I will share my suggested working if you don’t want to use Kelly’s, that is!

Before you read the rituals, here is the link to last years article I did for Mabon, which has a little more historic information.
http://paganpages.org/content/2016/09/celebrating-the-old-ways-in-new-times-22/

******************

Saoirse’s 2017 Mabon Working

 

I suggest an honoring of an elder.

 

How you do this all depends on what your own particular elder appreciates.

 

For me, I’m baking my Priest a pie. He loves my pies.

 

Some like to be taken out for dinner. Some just like a visit.

 

If however, you prefer an actual ritual, I suggest a blessing of your elder.

 

Unless you have your own way of doing this, I suggest a simple way of doing so.

 

You may prefer to do this with just the two of you, or you may do so before a group.

 

I love to do blessing rites at night, and by candlelight, or around a fire outdoors, personally.

 

Use whatever oil you deem appropriate for anointing. Be aware some people have sensitive skin, and some essential oils will burn skin if applied full strength. You can use a drop or two of your chosen oil with light olive oil, or just use olive oil, itself, which you can easily say a prayer over to bless.

 

Select the incense you feel is appropriate. I prefer Nag Champa for everything, personally. It’s a sandalwood blend which I use to cleanse and bless.

 

Select the appropriate candle. I use plain old white tealights.

 

Then, you will need a small bowl of water. Some people buy filtered water for this. I just use tap water, myself.

 

For this working, I do not suggest blessing the materials used first, because YOU are the one doing the blessing, and the materials you use to represent the elements are just representations of your, personal blessing. I realize not everybody feels his way about magical materials. If you feel more comfortable blessing the items beforehand, I agree you should do so in your own way.

 

You will light the candle first, then light the incense from the candle. Place the candle, incense, oil, and water on your chosen table, or altar.

 

Standing or sitting by your elder, tell them how much they mean to you. Tell them how thankful you are to them. (You might want to have a box of kleenex handy!)

 

Pick up the incense. Smudge your elder with this, and say “You are a lifegiver, breathing your wisdom and words of truth into me. I will never be lost in ignorance or confusion thanks to your words. Because of all you have taught me, I will be as a voice of truth, and teach others. “ Put the incense back in its place on your altar.

Then hold the candle up before your elder, and say, “You are a beacon in the darkness, lighting the way for me. I will never be lost in the dark thanks to your love and guidance. Because of all you have done for me, and taught me, I will be as a bright light to guide others.” Replace the candle on the altar.

 

Pick up the water, and you don’t want to splash a lot on your elder. Just dab a few dots of it on them here and there, or sprinkle it around them. Say, “ You fill me with the waters of life. Because of you, I will never be empty. I will never thirst. Because of all the life you have filled me with, I will go forth, and fill others.” Replace the water in its place on the table.

 

Pick up the oil. Put a little drop of it on your thumb, and trace your sacred symbol on their forehead. Mine is of course, the pentagram, yours might be something else. As you trace your symbol, say, “My beloved elder, I bless you in the name of our faith and our gods. May you be blessed with good health, great wealth, long life, and great love. Blessed Be.”

 

And then feed them something yummy!

****************

Aiden’s Kelly’s Elusinian Ritual for Mabon Sabbat 

 

This is a total of 18 pages, and was kindly provided for education including footnotes! Kelly wrote this, including the poetry, and its first full scale performance was in 1973. Blessed Mabon, and Blessed Be!

H. The Eleusinian ritual for the Mabon Sabbat

Celebrants:

Singing parts:

White Priestess, or Priestess of Jana;

Green Priestess, or Priestess of Sophia;

Black Priestess, or Priestess of Persephone;

The Black Man;

Dancing parts:

Kore;

Demeter;

Persephone;

Hades.

After all have been gathered into a circle, the Black Man makes needed announcements, such as about “Rain/Grow” and what to do with candles. The normal NROOGD Opening is then done, down through the Calling of the Quarters. At that point, with the Black Man still holding the sword in the center of the circle, the special ritual begins.

 

BLACK MAN/HERMES

[First Speech of the Sacred Herald]

It happened one day that the Lord of All Unseen was driving his char­iot around the boundaries of Sicily, checking the firmness of its foundations, to be sure that the giant who is pinned beneath the island could not tear it up, and so expose those who dwell below to the frightening rays of the Sun. As he drove, he was seen by the Lady of Mount Eryx, whom some call Aphrodite, and some call Perse­phone, as she sat upon her airy throne.

 

WHITE PRIESTESS [ #1, Venus’s Song]1

Here I sit upon my hill,

Maiden of every young man’s dream,

But I am living proof, my love,

That women are rarely what they seem.

For here I am the Queen of Death

And yet the Queen of Love:

My right hand holds the pomegranate

And my left, the dove.

I dance in many masks for men,

Sing many songs, play many parts,

And by my hands tell who I am,

Just before I break your heart.

I am the White Lady of your dreams

Whom you both long and fear to seize.

I lead you on through silver lands

Of singing stones and melting trees.

Wherever you look, you see me there:

Aphrodite on her shell,

Luna sailing through the leaves,

Persephone in Hell.

And now, my love, a tale we’ll tell

Of lovely wars and witty strife:

As poets always have foretold,

Death will be overcome by life.

This mountain is an organ pipe:

Beneath it Typhon groans and shakes

Where Zeus has trapped him for his crimes,

Breathing fire and belching quakes.

 

Hades, Lord of All Unseen,

Rides around the island’s coasts,

Fearing the quakes will let in light

To terrify his subject ghosts.

So, love, go pierce his gloomy heart

And let him chase me by the shore

Until I turn and capture him

And win the last third of my war.2

 

BLACK MAN/HERMES

And so, resolving to regain the rest of her former realm, she dis­patched her Eros to pierce his heart. Thus it happened that, heart­sore and lonely, Hades came to Zeus, to ask for the hand of Kore, the only daughter of Zeus and Demeter; and Zeus, for his own reasons, gave his permission.

Soon afterward Kore was out one day, gathering flowers beside the sea with her companions, the daughters of the ocean. Suddenly, wild a wild clamor, there appeared a great golden chariot. Its driver scooped Kore up in his arms, and disappeared with her into a chasm that opened in the earth.

Demeter, her mother, hearing Kore’s fading cry, ran to find her, but she was nowhere to be seen. Demeter searched over the entire world, until finally, weary and despairing, she came to Eleusis, in disguise, and accepted a position as nursemaid to the King’s infant son. In gratitude for the royal family’s hospitality, she began the make the child immortal, by laying him in the fire every night. But one night the Queen came upon them, and screamed in terror. In sud­den anger Demeter cast the child upon the ground, and told the Queen that her child would remain mortal. Then, revealing her true iden­tity, she ordered that a temple be built for her and that the myster­ies of Eleusis be founded.

 

BLACK MAN/HERMES raises sword and sings the following as recitatif.

[ #2, Agyrmos]

Keep solemn silence! Keep solemn silence! We sing, to Demeter and Kore, to Her who bears fair offspring, to the nourisher of youth, to the wealthy one, and to the threefold Graces. If your tongue is comprehensible, and no blood is on your soul, attend! Attend! For here we begin the mysteries of the Twofold Goddess, and of Her gift to mankind, that death is no longer our evil. To all who do this with us, abundant good shall come. Io! Evohe!

 

The BLACK MAN/HERMES steps back to the altar, and the three priestesses step forward.

[ #3, Kore’s Song]

 

GREEN PRIESTESS

Cora, my child, so gentle and wild,

Dance, while flowers sing praises for you.

Kore dances into center of circle and continues dancing.

Soon you must pass into woman’s knowledge;

Dance in your innocence, soon to be lost.

 

BLACK PRIESTESS

The Gods have their plans, despite those of man,

For all of nature depends on changing.

You have been chosen to turn the seasons:

Soon will the Lord of the Night share his throne.

 

WHITE PRIESTESS

Behold, He comes, the Lord of the Drum,

Hades dances into circle; he and Kore dance a duet of seduction.

With his brilliant white hair and laughter.

He who rules Death is the perfect lover:

He brings you flowers though snow’s on the ground.

 

ALL THREE PRIESTESSES

Persephone, what do you see

From your throne in the land of secrets?

The flowers of summer have long since faded;

Yet even in winter there’s fire in the ground.

Hades and Kore conclude their duet by dancing out of the circle and down to the sea. The priestesses return to the altar.

[ #4, Demeter’s Dance of Grief]

 

DEMETER

dances into circle and mimes a search for her daughter, then lights her two torches at the cauldron. She gestures all to come forward to light their candles, then leads all down to the sea.

BLACK MAN/HERMES

To the sea! To the sea! Haladay mustai!

At the sea, BLACK MAN/HERMES halts the procession.

DEMETER

plants her torches in the sand, strips, and plunges into the sea. Rising from the sea, she stands briefly between the torches, then her attendants wrap her in towels, then replace her robe. Picking up her torches, she now leads the procession on a devious path to the underworld.

At the entrance to the underworld, all are instructed to put out their candles as soon as they have found a place to stand inside. The next speech is said in the dark, as bullroarers sound.

BLACK MAN/HERMES

Here, in the lands below the earth,

We come to seek a recompense.

A girl is dead. That’s clear,

And all too close to home, for every time

We ask “What does it mean?” and, being human,

Cannot rest until we have an answer.

For behold! Demeter, the mother of all life,

In rage at the loss of her daughter,

Has sealed herself up in her temple,

And all life has slowed and stopped.

Here time itself stands still.

But now Zeus nods, the knot unties,

The balance is transcended.

For it is not Kore who’s restored, but us:

It is Persephone who comes, and she is every girl

Who faces a door she must go through,

Through which she can never return.

Hear the mystery of Eleusis!

The Queen of the Dead is the source of our life!

sings, to tune of #1

Our Lady is the Queen of Death,

And yet the Queen of Love:

Her right hand holds the pomegranate,

And her left, the dove.

[ #5, Proclamation of the Mystery]

Holy Brimo, the raging slayer, has born the holy child, Brimos, in fire!

The mighty Goddess has given birth to the mighty God!

Io! Evohe!

All sing back “Io! Evohe!” and orchestra immediately breaks into Persephone’s Dance.

[ #6, Hymn to Victorious Persephone]

 

ALL

Khaire, Persephone Nike!

At the crash of the gong, the underworld is flooded with light; Persephone leaps into view and dances wildly to the music of the hymn.

Who is great in the sheaves of the last of the wheat

When the mowers cut it all down!

She is the one with the power!

She will dance on the skulls of the last of the great

As they turn to honey and wine.

She holds the branch of renewal!

For the sword cuts the branch to the ground in the fall

But the branch will blossom in spring.

Hail to the dance of the Black One!

She has trampled on death and has shown us the path

That will bring us each to rebirth!

 

BLACK MAN/HERMES

Make way for the Queen of Hell!

Persephone marches out, followed by the BLACK MAN/HERMES. She takes one torch and begins to lead the procession back to the circle.

BLACK MAN/HERMES uses other torch to relight everyone’s candles, then joins end of procession, followed by the musicians. Back at the circle site, Persephone continues dancing as the circle reforms. When it is complete, BLACK MAN/HERMES signals the musicians to silence.

Persephone draws an ear of wheat or corn from her bosom and holds it aloft for all to see. Demeter screams in anguish as Hades crawls forward from under her skirt, then leaps to his feet and dances over to join Persephone in their Wedding Dance.

[ #8, Marriage Song of Moon and Sun]

 

WHITE PRIESTESS

I am the white and somber wench,

Knife of the hunter,

New of the moon.

I climb the hill of the changing halves

And burn in leaves of the verging trees.

Leap of the shadow,

Flash of the arrow,

Crimson and silver I reap and weave.

 

BLACK MAN/HERMES

I am the gold and amber man,

Sired by the sun,

Born of the moon.

I slay the Gorgon for my shield

And take the musing Moon to wife.

Sword of the father,

Wand of the mother,

Sunwise and whirling I ride the sea.

 

GREEN PRIESTESS

I am the green and secret wife,

Fire of the wedding,

Bells of the sea.

I wind the round of the breeding moon,

O furrow the earth beneath my knees!

Blue of the harpers,

Gold of the pipers,

Threefold and singing I plow the seed.

 

BLACK MAN/HERMES

I am the iron and scarlet man,

Blow of the hammer,

Cry of the steel.

I riddle the secrets of the trees

and lead the dance of the harvest moon.

Forge of the mother,

Spark of the maker,

Fourfold and lightning in every nerve.

 

BLACK PRIESTESS

I am the black and comely bitch,

Pipes of the crescent,

Beats of the Earth.

I stir the fire of the howling night

and bless the cup of the fertile seas

Gongs of the dancers,

Flames of the banners,

Sunwise in silence I clear and sow.

 

BLACK MAN/HERMES

I am the black and violet man,

Branch of renewal,

Words of the owl.

I guide the track of the spiral dance

Across the sky and under the waves.

Mask of the hero

Reversed in a mirror,

I am the reaper who stays to sow.

 

BLACK MAN/HERMES AND GREEN PRIESTESS

now charge the “eggs and tea”: chopped hard-boiled eggs in a tambourine or other drum, and the “kykeon” (mixture) tea in a cymbal.

[ #9, Blessing of the Offerings]

 

BLACK MAN/HERMES

When Her name is memory, Her voices are a choir.

They stir the cup of music, of poetry and fire.

 

GREEN PRIESTESS

And when Her name is Mystery, She brews the cup that sings,

“All who drink shall be reborn;

All shall have the gift of kings.”

 

BLACK MAN/HERMES AND GREEN PRIESTESS

She stands before, she stands beside:

The Maiden has become the Guide.

The spiral dance, the egg of life

Replace the apple and the knife.

The priestesses and any helpers now serve the eggs and tea around the circle.

Demeter brings a vessel of water to the center, and three times casts a handful of water into the air. Each time she does so, Black Man/Hermes cries out loudly

Rain!

 

ALL

Grow!3

[ #10, Blessing of the Initiates]

 

BLACK PRIESTESS

There is an immortality

Of the spirit and the body and the mind,

And all three immortalities

Are my gift to mankind.

There is always more; there is no end.

So rejoice! For death cannot win!

 

BLACK MAN/HERMES

Whenever the serpent begets the bull,

The bull will father the serpent.4

 

ALL

Blessed be they who have seen beneath the surface of the world.

They have seen the end of life, and its Goddess-sent beginning.

Thrice blessÇd5 are they who have seen these mysteries,

For when they go to the house of the Unseen Lord,

They alone shall live in happiness.

But those who have never shared in such holy rites

Will suffer every sorrow in that house,

Until they fade away into the darkness.6

 

BLACK MAN/HERMES

Sing each phrase back to me after I sing it to you.

[ #11, Marturo hos Pepoika]

I have fasted.

I have drunk the kykeon.

I have eaten from the drum.

I have drunk from the cymbal.

I have entered the wedding chamber.

A kid, I have fallen into milk.

I have seen beneath the surface of the world.

I have seen the end of life

And its Goddess-sent beginning

And they are the same.

I am an initiate of mysteries.

I shall not fade away.

Evohe!

 

ALL

Evohe!

The ritual now ends with the normal NROOGD “Grounding and Opening of the Circle.”

 

 

Important Links:

Aiden Kelly’s Facebook Page

Covenant of the Goddess’s Facebook Page

Covenant of the Goddess’s Web Page

 

 

 

Appendix to the Sabbats: Eleusinian Mysteries

 

The most important Athenian festival was that of the Eleusinian Mysteries, which have intrigued scholars for centuries: because the contents of the Mysteries were an Athenian state secret, we cannot be sure we have any clear idea of what happened during them. The Mysteries fell into two periods: the earlier, in Anthesterion, was called the Lesser Mysteries, and probably involved a ritual or drama about the life, death, and resurrection of Dionysos; the later, in Boedromion, was called the Greater Mysteries, and was definitely centered on the myth of the Rape of Persephone, as told in the Greek poem called the Homeric Hymn To Demeter. It has often been thought that initiation into the Lesser Mysteries was required before initiation into the Greater Mysteries, but this does not seem feasible, since in Roman times many people came from around the Empire in Boedromion to be initiated at the Greater Mysteries. (Of course, it could be that the earlier requirements were liberalized during the Imperial period.)

 

The Mysteries, according to both Greek legend and archaeological data, originated around 1500 B.C.E., give or take many decades, and were at least in part imported from Crete. Preserved by the local families, the Mysteries underwent a theological reform, as evidenced by the Homeric Hymn To Demeter, around 700 B.C.E., that is, at about the same time that the Athenians annexed Eleusis to their state and made the Mysteries the official religion of the Athenian empire. The Mysteries remained the central rite of Greco-Roman paganism — every civilized person tried to make the pilgrimage to Eleusis at least once in a lifetime, just as Muslims now make their Hajj to Mecca — until the fifth century C.E., when an army of Christian monks was sent in by the Byzantine emperor to tear the buildings at Eleusis down to the ground brick by brick, in order to prevent the people from going there, as they had continued to do.7

 

Despite the famous “secrecy” of the Mysteries, it was no more effective than the current “secrecy” of the Craft movement. We have more data about Eleusis than about any other pagan religion of antiq­uity, and we almost certainly do know what was done there. There is a famous story that Aeschylus, who was a native of Eleusis, as soon as his first tragedy had been produced, was called before a council of priests and accused of giving away the secret of the mysteries. Aes­chylus, however, responded, “I didn’t know it was a secret”8 — which became a catchphrase in the classical world — and proceeded to dem­onstrate that, since he had never been initiated, it was the council of priests who were giving him information they were oathbound not to reveal (a position I have found myself in relative to the more ortho­dox Gardnerians). He was acquited, of course, and the Eleusinian families then proceeded to adopt the new costumes that Aeschylus had designed for his actors as the official ceremonial robes for the Mys­teries9: even in the classical world, life imitated art. Since this very first tragedy would have enacted scenes perfectly familiar to us from the Greek myths, we do know what happened at Eleusis — but since we don’t know even the title of that first tragedy, we don’t know exactly which myth holds the secret. Still, it is possible to make some educated guesses, and I believe that Professor Walter Burkert of Zürich has broken the code.

 

Month 3. Boedromion, “month of helpers,” 30 days; began in August or September.

 

5 — Genesia = Nekusia = Nemesia, the clans’ feast of the dead.10 On the Proerosia see Clinton p. 22. In “the ritual of the sacred plowing observed at Eleusis, . . . members of the old priestly family known as the Bouzygai or Ox-yokers uttered many curses as they guided the plough down the furrows of the Rarian plain.”11 That “fair-tressed Demeter, yielding to her passion, lay in love with Iasion in the thrice-plowed field” (Odyssey 5.125-7) is the mythic analog to the folk ritual worked at this festival. As Plutarch (Moralia 144) comments about the three sacred plowings, “most sacred of all such sowings is the marital sowing and plowing for the procreation of children.” Obviously this Greek ritual, at the beginning of their growing season, is quite parallel to those in northern Europe associated with Beltane.

11 — The epheboi sacrifice a bull to Dionysos, under direction of the archon.12

13 — Preparations for the Eleusinian Mysteries begin: a troop of epheboi, perhaps having been purified at the Nekusia, in their “customary dress,” march from Athens to Eleusis.

14 — The epheboi escort the priestesses, and probably the other officials, from Eleusis to Athens. The priestesses carry the sacral items kept at Eleusis to the Eleusinion at the foot of the Acropolis.13 They halt for a rest at the “Sacred Figtree” in the suburbs of Athens.14

15 — This day was the Agyrmos, “assembly,” which was, according to Hesychius, the first day of the Mysteries. The Archon Basileus summoned the people to the Painted Porch to hear the Hierokeryx, the sacred herald of Eleusis, in the presence of the Hierophant and the Dadouches, call, “Keep solemn silence. Keep solemn silence. We pray to Demeter and Kore, and to Ploutos and to all the other gods, for here we begin the Mysteries of the Twofold Goddess . . . “15 The Hierophant then declared, “I speak to those who lawfully may hear: depart, all who are profane, and close the gates. . . . If your hands are impure or your tongue unintelligible, I charge you once, I charge you twice, I charge you thrice to stay away from the sacred dance of the chorus of initiates. Let all others who believe in the Two Goddesses perform the Mysteries, under the blessing of Heaven. Lady Demeter, nourisher of our souls, make us all worthy to celebrate your Mysteries.”16 He also apparently declared that initiates (at least for the duration of the festival) had to abstain from the flesh of barnyard fowl, eggs, fish, beans, pomegranates, and apples (these seem to be the rules of the nine-day “fast” that probably began on this day), and that touching these things made a person as taboo as touching a woman in childbirth or a corpse.17 He then probably announced, “At our sacred Mysteries, all Hellenes shall offer first fruits of their crops, according to ancestral usage. . . . To those who do these things shall come much good, both good and abundant crops, to whomever does not injure the Athenians, or the city of Athens, or the Two Goddesses,” that is, Demeter and Kore.18

16 — Synoekia: sacrifice of 2 oxen to Zeus Phratrios and Athena Phratria, “of the clans.”19 On this day the cry was Halade mustai20, “Initiates, to the sea!” All who were going to be initiated had to walk the six miles to Piraeus, driving a piglet before them, be purified in the sea with the pig21, then drive it back to Athens. We can be sure the day’s events were not overly dignified. It was to this day that Athenaeus (13, 590) referred when he wrote, “Phryne [a famous courtesan] was even more beautiful in her unseen parts. . . . At the great assmbly of the Eleusinia and at the festival of Poseidon, in full sight of the whole Greek world, she removed her cloak and let down her long hair before she stepped into the water. It was she whom Apelles took as the model for his `Aphrodite Rising from the Sea.'” (This passage is especially valuable in proving Aphrodite’s connection with the Eleusinian Mysteries.) Clement of Alexandria, in revealing what he says are the secrets of the Mysteries, begins with Aphrodite, saying, “a cake of salt and a phallus are given to the initiates, . . . who bring the tribute of a coin to the Goddess, as lovers do to a mistress.”22

17 — A sow is officially sacrificed to the Two Goddesses in their temple in Athens. Each initiate sacrifices a sheep, whose fleece is needed for the initiation, as well as the purified piglet.23

18 — The initiates remain indoors, preparing the Kykeon, “mixture,” a tea of barley and mint, and baking pastries, probably in the shapes associeted with fertility. Outdoors, the uninitiated engage in a procession honoring Asklepios, and pour libations to Dionysos.24

19 — Early in the day the initiates, the Eleusinian officials, and all others gather in the main square of Athens, all wearing myrtle wreaths and white robes or other special garb; the priests and priestesses wore red or purple cloaks, and the Hierophant and Dadouches wore a strophion (a twisted piece of cloth, worn like a sash) and had long hair.25 The statue of Iakkhos (in late class­ical times thought to be Dionysos as an infant) is brought from the Iakkhaion, to be carried on its annual visit to Eleusis. The same band of epheboi (obviously an “honor guard”) serve as an escort for the Eleusinian priestesses, carrying the sacra, in baskets on their heads, back to Eleusis to begin the celebration of the Mysteries. The procession is headed by the pais ap’ hestia, the “child initiated from the hearth,” whose initiation was paid for by the state26, and who represented the entire Athenian people; he or she wore a garment that left the right shoulder bare, and a short chiton (to just above the knee), carried a myrtle staff, and was followed by all the other such children from preceding years who had not yet reached adulthood.27 Everyone in the procession wore a myrtle wreath on his or her head. The 14-mile procession to Eleusis begins, passing out of Athens via the portico at the Keramicos. There are many stops for resting and performing rituals at places along the way thought to figure in Demeter’s search for the lost Kore. One is a sanctuary devoted to Zephyrus, Demeter, Kore, Athena, and Poseidon, at the place where Phytalus invited Demeter into his home to rest, in reward for which she give him the fig tree.28

At the Kephisos bridge, the crowd is entertained by a woman who plays the part of Baubo or Iambe, telling “obscene” jokes and performing “obscene” dances (which certainly included exposing her genitals to the crowd).29 There was apparently another purification in the salt lakes, the Rheitoi,30 and after crossing the narrow Rheitos bridge, the Initiates apparently were challenged by priests and had to give passwords, then had a thread tied between the right hand and left foot.31 We can also suppose that Aristophanes’ rather mild parody in The Frogs, lines 324-459, gives us a very good idea of what was actually sung during the procession to Eleusis.

20 — At sunset, when the next day began, torches were lit, and because the Greeks would have used a 7/8 rhythm (or something similar) for a procession, it turned into a torchlit dance. It may well be that they now went not directly into Eleusis, but instead down to the beach, where there may have been a ritual concerning Aphrodite, and where the initiates were probably sworn to secrecy by having the Hierophant’s key placed upon their lips.32 The torchlit procession then proceeded up from the beach and into Eleusis proper.33

The first event within the sacred grounds of Eleusis was probably a women’s dance around the Kallichoron, the “well of fair dances,” where Demeter was believed to have sat and mourned. The next would have been the Kernophoria, the offering of first fruits carried in the traditional kernos (a vase with multiple chambers), in the small temples of Demeter, Persephone, and Ploutos in the Eleusinian precinct — and offerings to chthonian deities were normally carried out at or after sunset.34

21 — On the day of the 20th and on through the 21st, the initiates were probably taken blindfolded through a series of purifications and consecrations one at a time. They probably each had a guide who had been initiated in a preceding year35, who could actually now see the procedures and so became known as an Epopt, “wit­ness.” We have descriptions and vase paintings of candidates seated on a low throne, with left foot on a fleece, veiled and holding a torch, with a priestess holding a winnowing basket overhead, then with priests and/or priestesses dancing in a circle and singing around them.36 Judging from the “password” quoted by Clement of Alexandria — “I have fasted; I have drunk the kykeon; having worked with what I took from the basket, I placed it in the chest, then back in the basket” — each initiate must have worked some ritual with some of the sacral objects in the baskets that the priestesses carried on their heads in the procession. Clement also lists what these objects were: sesame cakes, pyramidal and spherical cakes, cakes with many navels, balls of salt, a Dionysian snake (which is obviously a phallic symbol), pomegranates, fig branches, fennel stalks, ivy leaves, round cakes, poppies, marjoram, a lamp, a sword, and a “comb,” which Clement explains is a euphemism for something that represents the female genitals.37 Perhaps the ritual worked involved placing the phallic symbol in the vaginal symbol, as some scholars have guessed, but obviously innumerable different kinds of rituals were possible with such objects.

22 — The central event in the Mysteries was a night-long ritual in the Telesterion, the Hall of Initiation, and this was the logical night for it to have happened. The initiates stood on raised steps around the edges of the Telesterion, and saw and heard something like a ritual drama.38 As Plutarch describes, “Just as persons who are being initiated into the Mysteries throng together at the outset amid tumult and shouting, and jostle against one another, but when the holy rites are being performed and disclosed, the people are immediately attentive in awe and silence . . . he who has succeeded in getting inside and has seen a great light, as though a shrine were opened, adopts another bearing, of silence and amazement, and, humble and orderly, attends upon” the gods.39 Similarly, Dio Chrysotom says, “This is like placing a man in a mystic shrine of extraordinary beauty and size to be initiated. There he would see many mystic sights and hear many mystic voices, light and darkness would appear to him alternately, and a thousand other things would occur.”40 Galen mentions that an initiate would have given himself up “wholly to the things done and said by the Hierophants.”41 Lucius of Apulia says of his own initiation, “I approached near to hell, even to the gates of Persephone, and after I was ravished throughout all the elements, I returned to my proper place. About midnight I saw the sun brightly shine. Likewise I saw the Gods celestial and infernal, before whom I presented myself and worshipped them.”42 Perhaps this is metaphor, but it could easily be a description of a Craft initiation.

Proklos relates that, “In the most holy Mysteries, the initiates at first meet many sorts of spirits . . ., but on entering the interior of the temple, . . . they genuinely receive divine illumination, and divested of their garments [my italics] they participate in the divine nature.”43 (Proklos, as a devout dualist, obviously disapproves, but I think it must look familiar to any modern Witch.)

It is very difficult to assign a sequence to the events that may have taken place in the Telesterion, but I think Harrison’s logic holds water: the Sacred Marriage would probably have been celebrated before the birth of the Sacred Child.

Asterius44 wrote, “Isn’t there the descent into darkness, the sacred intercourse of Hierophant with Priestess, he and her alone? Aren’t the torches extinguished? Doesn’t the vast assembly believe that what is done by the two in darkness is their salvation?” He was probably misinformed about Eleusis; yet his words describe precisely the attitude of Witches toward the Great Rite.

Apparently what happened next is that the doors of the central chamber, the Anaktoron, were thrown open in a flood of light from a great fire that could be seen for miles from the open roof of the Telesterion45, and the Hierophant appeared, displaying an ear of wheat to the silent crowd and shouting, “Holy Brimo has brought forth a mighty son, Brimos!”46 We know that the Hierophant displayed the “secret sacred objects” (and that is what his title means) kept in the Anaktoron, into which only he was allowed, as only the High Priest of Jerusalem was allowed into the innermost sanctuary in that temple; and that he had an extensive speaking or singing part in the proceedings, partly from within the Anaktoron.47 He may have carried the sacred objects around the Telesterion in a procession, followed by all the other priests and priestesses48; this would be parallel with the Torah procession in the synagogue. There was also much dancing; Lucian commented that there are no Mysteries without dancing, and that those who violate the secrecy of the Mysteries are said to “dance them out.”49 With a rolling beat upon a gong that produces a roar louder than a jet plane,50 Persephone herself appeared — or so her priestess would have appeared, to the eyes of faith.51 Apparently her wedding to Hades was celebrated, for Michael Psellos asserts that the words, “I have eaten from the drum, I have drunk from the cymbal, I have carried the kernos, I have entered the bridal chamber,” were sung as an accompaniment to the Anakalypteria of Kore; this term might mean only “unveiling” or “reappearance,” but it is the common Greek term for a wedding.52

Walter Burkert also argues that another key event would have focused on the pais ap’hestia, the “child initiated from the hearth,” who represented the Athenian people, and who was the ritual analog of the infant Demophon, “voice of the people,” in the Eleusinian myth. Burkert argues that the child, doped with opium from Demeter’s own poppies, was placed in a swing, and swung through the fire — but when the swing returned, in it was a ram, which was then sacrificed, and its fleece used for the next year’s initiates. Obviously this ritual is related to the story of Abraham and Isaac, and it seems fitting that the same story should turn out to underlie both Greek and Hebrew religion, whose roots all go back to the eastern Mediterranean culture of ca. 1500 B.C.E. Burkert also feels that the key to the Greeks’ strong feelings about the ritual at Eleusis is that during it they were formally adopted as children of Demeter — perhaps in a ritual that involved marching under her throne53 — so that when they went before Persephone’s throne to be judged, they would be judged according to the rules for kin, not those for strangers — and that made all the difference in the world for Greeks.

23 — The final events at Eleusis included the rite of the Plemochoai, top-shaped vases, which were tipped over, one toward the east, the other toward the west, just about at sunset, to pour a libation down into the earth, perhaps into a chasm.54 It was probably also on this last day, and perhaps as part of the same ritual, that “looking up to the sky they cried `Rain!’ and looking down at the earth they cried `Grow!'”55

 

 

1

2 I shouls asmit that this song was asses in the version that was part of my “doctoral dissertation in the form of a three-act myisical comedy” and was not in the original script.

3 We know from Hippolytus 5:2 (Ante-Nicene Fathers, V, 51) and from Pro­clus on Plato’s Timaeus 293 (cited by Harrison, Prolegomena, p. 161) that this “Rain/grow” bit of fertility magic was among the closing ceremonies at Eleusis, perhaps out on the Rharian plain, where it could not have been kept secret.

4 This is obviously a fragment from some sort of ritual; it is given by Fir­micus Maternus 26; Arnobius 5:21; and Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation, 2:14.

5 This “thrice-blessed” term was standard in wedding songs; e.g., see Odysseus’s remarks to Nausicaa in the Odyssey.

6 This stanza is a rather free amalgam of the “beatitudes” in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter 480-482; Sophocles fragment 753 Nauck (from Plutarch, Moralia, 21F); and the Pindar fragment (137 Sandys) from Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies, 3:3,17.

7 Eunapius, Lives of the Philosophers, 475-6.

8 Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 3.1.17, and Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies, 2.14 (p. 361, ANF).

9 Athenaeus 1.21d.

10 Farnell, III, 23.

11 Frazer’s ed. of Apollodorus, Library, p. 227.

12 Placement is best guess; Willetts, Cretan Cults, p. 49.

13 Harrison, Prolegomena, p. 151.

14 Philostratus, Lives of the Sophists, 602;20.

15 See Xenophon, Hellenica, 2.4, 20.

16 Eusebius, Preparation for the Gospel, 3.13.118b; Tatian, In Graec. 8; Theon of Smyrna, On the Utility of Mathematics, p. 22; Aristophanes, Frogs, 369-70, 886-7; Lucian, Alexander the False Prophet, 38.

17 Porphyry, On Abstinence, IV.

18 Harrison, Prolegomena, pp. 150, 155.

19 Nilsson, 1951, p. 166.

20 According to Clinton, p. 13, the term muesis originally referred to the preliminary instruction, or catechesis, which could be given at any time during the year by any member of the Eumolpidai or Kerykes families; this was not an initiation, but quite parallel to the guidelines that any Witch would now give to a newcomer before bringing him or her to a circle. The final ritual of the Mysteries was the telete, which took place in the sanctuary of the Telesterion, per­formed by the Eleusinian priests and priestesses, only once a year. Thus mustes would be better translated as “catechist” than as “initiate,” and telete does have the sense of completion.

21 Plutarch, Phocion, 27,3.

22 On the events of this day, see Harrison, Prolegomena, pp. 152-4. Clement of Alexandria, Protreptikos, 2.13.

23 On all this see Aelian, Animals, 10,16; and Aristophanes, Peace, 373-5.

24 Aristotle, Athenian Constitution, 56.4; Philostratus, Life of Apollonius, 4.18.

25 Clinton, p. 33.

26 Initiation was expensive; it added up to at least 12 obols, ac­cording to Clinton, p. 13, and that was about a month’s pay for the average Athenian. Hence paying for someone’s initiation was a fre­quent gift, especially for slaves and courtesans (as we know from Demosthenes’ Against Naeara, 21), since it could not be taken away from them.

27 Clinton, p. 108, 111.

28 Harrison, Prolegomena, p. 151.

29 See Hesychius and the Suda under Gephuris.

30 See Hesychius on Rheitoi and Pausanias, Attica, 38.1-3.

31 See Photius, Krokoun.

32 See Sophocles, OEdipus at Colonus, 1045-53; Pausanius, Elis, 1.20.3.

33 The use of torches for nocturnal processions was no secret; and I think the “torchlit search for Kore” (as in, e.g., Lactantius, Divine Institutes, 1.21) was merely an allegorical interpretation of this procession in light of the story of Demeter and Kore.

34 Here Psellos’s second icon fits: torches because it was night; drums and cymbals as both musical instruments for the procession and vessels to pour the offering, in the form of a pelanos.

35 Referred to by Plutarch, Moralia, 765A.

36 See Dio Chrysostom, Discourse 12, 33; Plato, Euthydemus 277d; Eph. Arch. 1885, p. 150. Gilbert Murray, Five Stages, p. 23, says the Dadouchos is the initiator during this stage. If Aristophanes, Clouds, 259ff, is not just foolery, the catechist was also sprinkled with flour or chalk at some point.

37 Clement of Alexandria, Protreptikos, 2.18-9.

38 See, e.g., ibid., 2.12. That the rituals lasted all night is stated by Clinton, p. 38, citing I.G. II2, 3639; see also Greek Anthology, XI, Epigram 42.

39 Plutarch, Moralia, 81d-e.

40 Dio Chrysostom, Discourse 12, 33.

41 Galen, de Usu. Part., 7.14.469, cited by Harrison, Prolegomena, p. 157.

42 Lucius of Apulia, The Golden Ass, 11.23. For a similar description, see Plutarch, Moralia, frag.178.

43 Proklos, Platonic Theology, p. 7.

44 As cited by Harrison, Prolegomena, p. 563.

45 It is referred to by Plutarch, Themistocles, 15.1.

46 See Burkert, Homo Necans, for a convincing argument why this passage from Hippolytus, 5.4, is trustworthy. Brimo is a title of Hecate, who seems to complete a triad with Kore and Demeter; see Apollonios of Rhodes, Argonautica, 861-2, 1211, and Lycophron, Alexandra, 1175ff; Propertius 2.2.11 presents this Hecate Brimo as a lover of the Hermes who is a major deity of the Samothracian Mysteries. This line also seems to be reflected in Euripides, Suppliants, 54, which takes place at Eleusis.

47 See Clinton, pp. 39 & 46, citing I.G. II2, 3411, and Aelian, Varia Historia, frag. 10.

48 Clinton, p. 47.

49 Lucian, The Dance, 15.

50 Ovid, of Love, 610; Harrison, Prolegomena, p. 140, citing Apollodorus of Athens as quoted by the scholiast on Theocritus, Idylls, 2.10. Olivier Messiaen, scholar and classicist that he is, uses this sound in his Et Expecto Resurrectionem Mortuis, “I Expect the Resurrection of the Dead.”

51 See Clinton, p. 47, and the sources he cites.

52 These words are cited by Clement, op. cit., 2.14, and discussed by Psellos in his comments on the third icon. See also the scholiast on Plato, Gorgias, 497C, cited by Harrison, Prolegomena, p. 158.

53 E.g., see the ritual described at the end of the final myth in Plato’s Republic.

54 See Athenaios 11.496.

55 Given by Proklos on Plato’s Timaeus, p. 293; also mentioned by Hippolytus 5.2. Aeschylus, fragment 25, in which Aphrodite declares that she is the cause of the amorous rain that impregnates the earth to bring forth Demeter’s gifts, also shows that here again Aphrodite is tied to the Eleusinian rites. Hesychius gives “Konx hompax” as the final words of the initiation; despite much scholarly ingenuity at restoration, these appear to be indecipherable nonsense.

 

 

***

 

 

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.  

WitchCrafting: Crafts for Witches

June, 2017

Attracting the Fae

 

 

Merry meet.

The summer solstice – along with Beltane and Samhain – are traditional times to honor the fae, fae folk, faeries, or simply, fey. They are magical creatures with powers given them by nature. They are guardians of botanicals, water sources and other natural elements. Others live in a magical underground kingdom.

Fey exist in all cultures, from the little people to elves, and from gnomes to leprechauns. They appear in art, music, folklore and movies. Fey have magic, and magic in and of itself is not good or bad, it’s all about how it’s used.

For some reason, many Americans think of faeries only as cute, tiny, harmless winged creatures. While there are some who look like that, there are many who are ugly and fierce. They can be playful and mischievous or annoying and frightening. If you’ve ever left a pair of earbuds out, the fae will be attracted to come and tangle them. Keys left out can also prompt fey pranks.

The fae like sugar, milk, honey, flowers and miniature people things like fairy houses.

 

 

 

 

Tess Ahlberg makes houses for them from bark, mushrooms and other gifts of nature.

From a young age, she said she was immersed in nature. She’d collect moss, pine cones, mushrooms, animal skins, shells, feathers and discarded insects during her travels in woods, meadows, marshes, swamps and on beaches. Listening to the messages whispered in the leaves, she was inspired to begin making faerie houses out of birch bark she found decomposing on the ground.

I ask permission from the forest, if I can harvest the bark, mushrooms, plants and moss. I also give the spirits a token offering,” she explained.

Milkweed pods and acorns, along with ferns, leaves and wild flowers that she’s pressed also found their way onto pieces of birch bark. She continued making houses, painting cured mushrooms for roofs and adding some details.

They add whimsy and magic when placed in a home; if left outside they will slowly decompose.

To encourage others to appreciate nature, provide homes for the fay, and an escape from the chaotic world, Ahlberg makes kits available. But you can gather all the materials yourself and make a home to invite the fae to visit.

 

 

 

 

In today’s society there is a disconnect with nature,” she said, hoping to help change that by reconnecting people with it.

Faeries are inter dimensional beings. If you go back to remembering your innocence of youth, a time when perhaps as a youth, some of us had glimpses into other enchanted worlds. We saw faeries and other enchanted beings in our peripheral vision,” she said.

You can connect to that magical world by being fae friendly. Houses and other inviting spots can be portals into enchanted worlds.

Try building a cave out of pebbles in a hidden spot in your yard, such as under bushes or in a flower garden. Set out a miniature wooden table and chairs, painted bright colors or wrapped in vines if you wish. Making a circle of stones, shells or pinecones can create a magical space. Hang tiny bells from branches.

 

 

 

 

Flowers such as daisies, cosmos, tulips, honeysuckle, lilac, sunflowers, lavender, snapdragons, pansies and heliotrope are all said to attract fey, as are herbs such as rosemary, mint and thyme.

Fey are also said to be partial to oak, ash, holly, willow and hawthorn trees

 

 

 

 

My three favorite spots in the yard where I was grew up were a stand of lilacs with a narrow space in the center, the small space between two large oak trees, and a willow tree I loved to climb.

To feel close to the fae now, I plant cosmos, sunflowers, rosemary and snapdragons in my community garden plot, leaving the center wild and untouched, seeded with wildflowers that attract hummingbirds, a mugwort plant and morning glories that reseed themselves. I leave offerings there from time to time, and know the fae are present because if I make the mistake of brining my cellphone, they download apps while I work in the garden.

 

 

 

 

They also bless me with joy. May they do the same for you.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

 

Check out Tessimals Celestial Faerie Houses and Faeries on Facebook or at https://www.etsy.com/shop/tessimal.

 

 

Interview with Author Leah Guy: The Modern Sage

May, 2017

Author Leah Guy: The Modern Sage

 

leah1

 

I was recently sent a copy of a book called The Fearless Path, and was immediately drawn to the ideas within the pages. The book addresses very real and modern concerns about healing in practical ways, but instead of telling us, as so many other sources do, to let go of our pain and past, it leads us down the more rewarding path of putting ourselves back together. Leah was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book and herself for Pagan Pages.

Mabh Savage: Thanks for talking to us Leah. To start us off, can you describe yourself in three words?

Leah Guy: Sensitive. Determined. Sassy.

MS: Your book, The Fearless Path, is tagged as a ‘radical awakening to emotional healing and inner peace’. What prompted you to write this book at the time you did; what made you feel ‘now’ was the time to share your approach to healing?

LG: Honestly, there are two reasons. One is my personal timing. When I felt grounded enough, emotionally mature enough and ready to extend this part of my world with the masses. Secondly, and this sounds like cosmic fluff, but I was told to write the book, once by a voice in a dream that woke me and the other by a voice in a meditation. I don’t often hear voices, nor do I act on them, but this was something different. It was like a charge, a torch that was handed over to me to run with and I felt it was the right thing to do. It felt like the right time and my next step and almost a ‘duty’ or ‘calling’ if you will.

MS: Who would you say your book is primarily aimed towards?

LG: I used the dedication to reach out to all who suffer, yet have the courage to love. There is not one person that couldn’t benefit from the principles in the book because we all know pain, fear, heartache, guilt. We need to learn how to have a better relationship with suffering as it is a part of life. So I aimed the book at those, like me, who have had addictions, eating disorders, trauma, anxiety, low self-worth or other kinds of deep wounds.

MS: What was the biggest challenge in putting the book together?

LG: Starting! After I got started, the biggest challenge was allowing myself the freedom to speak openly about my experiences, many of which I’ve never spoken about publicly at all, and relating those in an honest way so that others can benefit.

MS: And what did you enjoy most about the writing process?

LG: Every step of the way I felt very supported. It felt as if I was supposed to be doing it and there was no time to wait. Although I practice what I write and teach, there’s a good deal of guidance in the book that was inspired and channeled, meaning that I had to get my own agenda out of the way and just listen. Before each writing session I gave myself 5 minutes to sit in meditation and listen, then trust that when I got to the computer I’d have something to say.

MS: How did you become introduced to the idea of chakras and energies within the body?

LG: When I was on my own healing journey, a couple of years after the sexual assault, I was encouraged to go to a metaphysical “school” in California. There is where I immersed myself in energy healing, meditation and learning about the chakras. Since then I’ve continued to work with energy and the chakras as a way to guide me to information within the body system, the emotional bodies and spiritual energies. I don’t base all of my work on the chakras, but they do offer information and guidance and I believe should be better understood in the scope of our overall wellness.

 

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MS: During the introduction to the book, you tell us of your own traumatic experiences, and one of the questions you asked yourself at the time was ‘Is this my fault?’. Do you think this is common of many victims, to question their own culpability first and foremost?

LG: I believe one of the first thoughts that comes to a person who has been victimized is the self-inquiry ‘Is this my fault?’ Once the initial shock and fear of an incident has worn off, we immediately go to the programming and patterning that we know, which often results in kicking way back to the shame or guilt pattern of our youth. Because each of us has experienced shame to some degree, the ones of us that have had a moderate to severe imprint of shame will almost always consider how or what we did to cause any kind of suffering in our life. Even those with a mild shame imprint will have the fleeting thought of guilt because it is hard for our brains and emotional bodies to rationalize how something so painful could happen for no reason, or for a reason we can’t justify, therefore it must have something to do with my actions, looks, self-worth, or whatever the reason we conjure.

MS: Do the healing principals work for those who perhaps haven’t had an emotional trauma? For example, someone may suffer from chronic depression, caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, not a particular event in their past. Would they and others like them benefit from The Fearless Path?

LG: Yes, very much so. The Emotional Workouts, meditations and other exercises and philosophies are usable and impactful for any person who is experiencing imbalance, pain or trauma. Not to say that these concepts should be used exclusively, there is certainly room for medical care and other approaches to wellness. But the ideas are deep and profound in some instances, yet the very base root of their meaning is applicable and usable for all. Chemical imbalances can be helped by medicinal approaches for sure, but also, we know that diet, emotional stability and a connection to our true selves help to create balance as well. They should all be used together.

MS: Obviously, and as your books states, there are no quick fixes, but are there simple, everyday things that everyone can do to stay connected to their Self and Soul?

LG: I included the Emotional Workouts in the book for this very purpose; to give people ways to daily and simply stay connected to their Self and Soul. Gardening, journaling, meditation, helping a stranger, chanting or any of the others are wonderful examples of ways that we can get stronger and more connected day by day. We don’t turn fear or shame around with a simple decision. We have to solidify a stronger framework from which we operate and we do that by small acts of self-care and Emotional Workouts.

MS: Who is your biggest inspiration?

LG: I’ve never put any single person on a pedestal. There are so many people who inspire me for different reasons. The truth is I don’t know the names of most of the people who impact me the greatest. Yesterday I passed a man on the street who was struggling to walk. He had very worn and tattered clothes on and teeth that were never cared for. He was carrying two heavy grocery bags for what seemed like blocks and the look on his face stopped me in my tracks. His eyes and the lines on his face were saying that his experience alive had been hard but his determination, pride and his purpose was so very much worth living for. I walked by that man and was struck with humility and inspiration and the desire to have half of the strength that he showed.

MS: Do you have a favorite place to relax, or a place where you feel most connected to yourself?

LG: I love being in nature of any sorts. I love paths… walking paths, bike paths, beach paths. I’m a very purpose-oriented purpose, meaning I enjoy time and space when I’m creating ideas or art, gaining new perspectives, helping others or purposefully taking time to connect to nature or myself. A path is very symbolic to me. I feel inspired to keep going forward and seeing what new there is to discover.

MS: What other projects do you have on the horizon?

LG: I just recorded my first meditation CD, Guided Chakra Meditations for Emotional Healing. It’s inspired from the meditations in the book, but with music, visualizations and even a walking meditation practice. I’m in awe of this project as me and the musicians got together, without rehearsal, and flowed with the energy of the meditations without flaw. The CD is raw and uncut! I’m also planning some online webinars and private teachings, which I’m excited about also!

MS: Should we expect more books in the future?

LG: Yes! I’m already working to expound on a couple of topics from The Fearless Path. Some of the key ideas in that book are the PTED, or Post Traumatic Emotional Disorder, and Spiritual Mapping to name a couple.

MS: And finally, what are you looking forward to most in 2017?

LG: I’m looking forward to broadening my horizons. The past several years I have been hunkered down building a healing center and writing the book. I’m beginning to experience the many opportunities that are arising from those things and I’m eager to get back on the road, meet new people and hear their stories, as well create more stories in my own life.

Leah’s book The Fearless Path is out on 15th May 2017 and is available for pre-order now. You can follow Leah on Facebook, Twitter or her website.

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author and musician, as well as a freelance journalist. She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft. Follow Mabh on Twitter, Facebook and her blog.

Interview with Rachel Patterson: The Kitchen Witch

March, 2017

Rachel Patterson: The Kitchen Witch

 

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Rachel Patterson: The Kitchen Witch

Rachel Patterson, or Tansy Firedragon, is an accomplished witch with a passion for learning. She has written numerous books and is the High Priestess of the Kitchen Witch Coven, and an Elder of their School of Natural Witchcraft. I caught up with Rachel to find out a bit more about her craft and her writing.

Mabh Savage: Can you summarise what it is to be a Kitchen Witch?

Rachel Patterson: It is a term that has been used in the past to describe someone that is a bit of a food expert and actually nothing to do with witchcraft at all. It is also a term used to describe a Scandinavian doll that is hung in the kitchen to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck.

Now whilst I do like to think I am a bit of a whizz in the kitchen I am also most definitely a Kitchen Witch. I follow the path of the old ways, I work with the Goddesses and the Gods and I work the Craft. So, what makes me specifically a kitchen witch? I like to use whatever is at hand, I don’t need fancy schmancy tools or expensive items and I work a lot of my magic when I am cooking food or working with herbs and plants.

I do have beautiful tools to work with but I find that most of the time I prefer to use whatever nature provides, for instance I have several beautiful hand crafted wands but what I tend to use is my finger. When I am working in a circle I cast it with herbs and I use natural items such as stones and feathers to represent the elements. I do have a cauldron but you could use an old casserole dish, I don’t use a chalice as such, I use a glass from the kitchen cupboard (although you can get some interesting and beautiful glasses from charity/thrift shops). If you want an athame then a vegetable knife or even a potato peeler work perfectly and if you want to use a wand how about a wooden spoon?

The kitchen is and always has been the centre of the home probably originally because the fire was kept going to cook the food and was therefore the warmest room in the house. It is a place where I feel comfortable and ‘at home’ and that is not just because I love food…It is in my kitchen that magic happens.

MS: You also go under the name Tansy Firedragon. Is this your magical moniker, and can you tell us how it came about, or is it a secret?

RP: Tansy Firedragon is indeed my Craft name and I have used it for many years. Tansy came from a visit to a local Roman palace where they were hosting a Celtic re-enactment day. There was a lady cooking ancient Celtic recipes and a lot of them used the herb Tansy, one in particular caught my attention and that was Tansy pudding. The name resonated with me and as I love working with herbs and cooking it seemed to fit me well. Fire is my favourite element to work with and I work with dragon magic a lot so that fell into place too.

MS: Can you tell us a bit about the talk you recently did at The Enchanted Market, in Bracknell?

RP: The Enchanted Market is now in its third year and is run by Max and Baz from the band Spriggan Mist and it is a wonderful event to be a small part of. My talk this year was about Animal Magic and working with spirit animals. I talked about where to start to find your spirit animal guide, how to connect, how to keep working with guides and we also did a meditation to meet an animal spirit guide. We had lots of different animals appear such as deer, frog, bat and even a dung beetle!

MS: How many students does the Kitchen Witch School have, and how do you manage your teaching alongside being an author and a busy witch?

RP: The numbers vary as we are online and therefore open to students from around the world but I co-run the school with my friend Tracey Roberts (Sunchylde Dryadmoon) and we split the students between us so that we can always provide one to one mentorship. It is very important to us to always be available to our students and never to take on too many so as to be overwhelmed. We also have a team of Hearth Guardians who are students that have worked through the three levels at the school and have either already earnt their High Priestess titles or are currently working on it. They provide another level of support to Tracey and myself but also to the students.

I am always busy! I also have a job out in the real world and two school age children so life is definitely all about finding the balance. Thankfully I work from home so it is easier to fit everything in, I don’t always achieve it but I try. The key for me is having a schedule, I use bullet points in my diary to plan out each week. And in recent years I have also learnt that it is OK to say no sometimes. I always felt that I had to do everything that everyone asked of me, which leads to being totally exhausted and overwhelmed. Now I weigh up each request and see how it fits into my diary and how it impacts other things. My family and own wellbeing has to come first.

 

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MS: Your upcoming book is Pagan Portals: Animal Magic. How did this volume come about?

RP: Working with animal spirit guides is one of my favourite areas of the Craft to work with and we teach about it within the Kitchen Witch School and we have run workshops as well so it seemed the natural next step to put it all together in a book.

MS: Who will this volume appeal to? Does it matter what path the reader is on, or is it accessible to people of all spiritualties?

RP: Hopefully to everyone! Although I am a Witch I have also delved into all sorts of magical pathways including Shamanic practice so it has elements of all sorts within the pages. I hope it offers something for everyone no matter what journey you are on.

MS: Previously you have written about topics as diverse as Hoodoo and The Cailleach. Do you find that you can work across many magical paths, and do you have a favourite type of magic, one that calls to you more than others?

RP: My witchcraft journey started in Wicca but probably because at the time that was the only structure of learning available to me. I did complete all three of the Wiccan degrees but I also started to venture off in different directions. I love to learn and I love to study so I have ventured into Hoodoo which I found I was working with a lot of anyway as it has folk magic roots but I have also studied all sorts of different pathways taking bits from each one that resonated with me and added them to my own practice. I am a bit of a miscellaneous witch really. In fact, at a recent talk a lovely lady suggested that I was a cocktail witch; lots of different flavours blended together with a paper umbrella and a plastic monkey…I like that description.

If you had to pin me down I guess the path of a Kitchen/Hedge Witch is my real calling with a bit of goddess spirituality thrown in for good measure.

MS: You write a great deal about magical food and plants. How did you first discover the intertwining nature of food and magic?

RP: Working with herbs was one of the first areas of the Craft that I really connected with. I love gardening, cooking and eating so it all felt very natural to me. Once I had worked with herbs for magic it seemed only logical that food ingredients would have magical properties too.

As a busy working mother and wife, I have to work a lot of my magical practice into everyday chores and cooking is one of my passions and also a daily necessity so it just fell into place that I add magic into creating food.

We also started baking cakes for our open rituals and workshops…we have ended up with a bit of a reputation as cake witches…

MS: Is there a special or sacred place where you can relax and unwind, away from the hustle and bustle?

RP: My garden is my sanctuary. It is not large (we live in a terraced house on the edge of a city) but it is the place that I love to escape to. There is something magical about sitting in the peace and quiet of the garden surrounded by plants that I have grown and tended.

MS: What’s your favourite festival throughout the year, and how do you mark or celebrate this?

RP: This is a tricky one because although I originally learnt and followed the dates of all the sabbats, a few years ago, I realised that I was not connecting very well with most of them mainly due to the mad weather we have. I suspect Mother Nature is menopausal. When it was too warm to wear a coat on the winter solstice and geraniums were still flowering in January it all seemed a bit upside down. So, I started to work more with the energy of each month rather than dates of festivals on a calendar and then it progressed and now I actually work with the energy of each day. One of our lovely Hearth Guardians calls it ‘falling off the Wheel’.

My birthday is 31st October (yes really) so I should like Samhain best but I prefer the energy of December and the build up to the festive season, so Yule is probably the festival I feel most connected to.

MS: What books can we expect from you next, after Animal Magic?

RP: I have three more signed contracts:

Witchcraft…into the wilds – the manuscript for that is nearly finished.

“A book that leads us through the wilds of nature and back to the roots and bones of witchcraft, a natural witchcraft that works with the seasons and all the natural items that Mother Nature provides drawing on magical folk lore and a little bit of gypsy magic too. No fancy schmany tools or ceremonial rituals, this is about working with the source. Mother Earth provides us with the changing of the seasons and within that turning of the year she gives us everything we need to work magic with from natural energy in the form of storms, rain and sunshine to tangible items packed full of magical energy such as seeds, leaves and stones.”

And then probably for 2018:

Pagan Portals: The Triple Goddess

“An introduction to the mystery and magic of the Triple Goddess exploring her history, meaning and individual faces.”

And:

Beneath the moon: Witchcraft and moon magic for a deeper practice

“A full and in depth book about working with the moon and the magic that she offers.”

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Do you have music that you enjoy, or a favourite book to lose yourself in?

I love to cook, specifically baking whether it is bread or cakes.

I love to read and my favourite author by far is Terry Pratchett.

My husband is in a rock band so music is always a big part of our life and my favourite band is Fleetwood Mac.

I make sure I have spare time and that is spent with my husband and children.

Who has been your biggest inspiration along your magical journey?

I have had some very good teachers during my years but I think the honest answer to this question is ‘my students’. The people that I have walked beside during their journeys have taught me so much.

And finally, what are you looking forward to most in 2017?

I am very blessed to be able to do what I do so continuing to write and share with others that which I have learnt and to spend more time with my lovely family. I do count my blessings, perhaps not as much as I should but I am thankful for the life that I lead…so more of the same for 2017 would be great!

Find out more about Kitchen Witchery at http://www.kitchenwitchhearth.net/ and http://www.rachelpatterson.co.uk/, and you can follow Rachel on her own blog, at Witches and Pagans and via Patheos.

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author and musician, as well as a freelance journalist. See is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft. Follow Mabh on Twitter, Facebook and her blog.

Merry Meet

December, 2016

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                       Welcome

 

Our beautiful Front Page Image is the artwork of Marcia Stewart (RocknGoddess)interviewed in this issue of PaganPages.  

 

 

We have a Fantastic & Packed Yule Issue for you this month with some great features, such as…

 

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A Book Review on the book Meditative Mandala Stones By Maria Mercedes Trujillo Arango.  

 

 

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An Interview with author  Nikki Starcat Shields.

 

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The Final Episode of Patrick Kavanagh’s short story series Kiara!

 

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It’s that time of the year again, when everyone is running themselves ragged trying to find the “perfect” gift for each person on their list. Well Susan Morgaine decided to help us out this year with her article “Crafty” Gifts for Witches & Pagans: A Guide to Yule & Holiday Gifts

 

and much much more!!!

 

Join us on Facebook  & Twitter!!

 

 

 

Interview with Author Raven Grimassi

June, 2016

Raven Grimassi: Communing with the Ancestors

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I was sent a copy of Raven Grimassi’s latest book, Communing with the Ancestors: Your Spirit Guides, Bloodline Allies and the Cycle of Reincarnation, and was immediately intrigued by the beautiful style of writing and the inclusive nature that encompasses people of all paths. A full review of the book will be available on Pagan Pages next month, but in the meantime, I was lucky enough to get the chance to ask Raven some questions about this fascinating volume.

Mabh Savage: Tell us about Communing with the Ancestors. What was your main aim with the book, and what type of reader will get the most out of it?

Raven Grimassi: The primary purpose was in deepening the work of connecting with the Ancestors.    It’s important that we enlist the aid of the Ancestors.  I feel that the readership for this book is anyone who wonders about the purpose of Life and about the role of reincarnation.

MS: You say that in your book you avoided focusing on any one particular cultural view or practice, which makes this book very accessible. What culture so you most identify with though, when communing with your own ancestors?

RG: If I had to focus on just one, then I relate most to my Italian heritage.  However, I am also German and Scot and I do not ignore this lineage.

MS: Is everybody capable of making a connection with their ancestors, or the ancestors?

RG: Yes, definitely.  The Ancestors are part of our DNA, they reside within us to the cellular level.  Even adopted people who don’t know their lineage can connect deeply with their bloodline heritage.  The Ancestors have never lost track of them for they reside within them.

MS: You speak of ‘getting out of the way’ during the writing process. Can you tell me more about that?

RG: When I struggled with writing this book, I head the inner Ancestral voices say “Stop trying to write this book and let this book be written.  I had to stop forging and directing the work, which meant I had to let things come through me as opposed to from me.   The hands on the keyboard were mine, but the material was coming from some other source.

MS: How did you first come across the concept of the Spirit Rider?

RG: Like so much else in the book, it was passed to me from the Ancestral voices. At the core was a concept I found in studying the Mayan Vision Serpent, an entity intimately connected with the Ancestors. I had also run across some material on the Hawaiian Huna concept of connecting with the Ancestors through a Shamanic technique that requires projecting consciousness outward from the tailbone of the spine. The purpose was to meet the Ancestors. From this two concepts, something formed and was passed to me. I was given the imagery of the Spirit Rider as a serpent form in which the Ancestors can connect with us through our spines.

MS: You write in a beautiful, metaphorical style. Do you think there is magic in poetry?

RG: I think that the essence of magic can be conveyed through poetry. 

    • Poetry

  • can also initiate a magical consciousness that can open inner portals that lead to visions and enlightenment.

    MS: You mention that in writing the book you became a student to it. What further lessons have been imparted since the completion of this volume?

    RG: It’s been an ongoing process.  The most activity has been around trying to firmly grasp where the persona worn by the soul comes from, and what exactly is the “pool of consciousness” that legends suggest was the original of the human consciousness.

    MS: The ancestral realm you speak of; is this what lies beyond what many Pagans refer to as ‘the veil’?

    RG: I’ve come to see the Ancestral Realm as the residing place of those who came before us.  It is connected to the Earth Plane and the Elemental Plane, even though technically it is in the Otherworld or Inner Dimensions.  That being said, I think that what is found on the other side of the veil is the Afterlife Realm, a temporary realm in which the Dead dwell for a time.  This is different from the Ancestral Realm.

    MS: What part of the landscape gives you the closest connection to the ancestors?

    RG: In general, areas with distinct rock formations seem to hold memory best.  This includes manmade formations such as Stonehenge.  Caves are excellent gateways to the Ancestors, and lakes and wells are also good points of access. 

    MS: Are you working on any more books at the moment?

    RG: I always have at least two books going at one time.  My primary focus at present is to complete a book I started over 30 years ago.  It is an examination of the Witch Lore contained in the writings of folklorist Charles Godfrey Leland.  In the book I will also present new findings about his “Witch informant” and the authentic tradition that she revealed to Leland.

    MS: The writings in Communing with the Ancestors sound like quite an intense process. How did you relax or take time away from it?

    RG: I actually don’t take time away from a manuscript that I am submitting to a Publisher. I work every day on it, and the process takes months to finish (anywhere from 3 to 6). I often take my meals while writing, and there are no days off.

    MS: And finally, what are you most looking forward to over the next few seasons?

    RG: Reconnecting with family and with old friends. Too much time has passed while pursuing my work.

    Raven’s latest volume can be purchased here and more information about his previous words can be found at his website http://www.ravengrimassi.net/.

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