nature

The Holly and the Oak King

December, 2018

The Holly and the Oak King

 

 

Each holds sway and hand of might
Upon the year’s Great Wheel.

In each domain one shall be King
As wax and wane of Light
Move within nature’s cyclic ring.

Solstice Kings, though brothers, they
In battle determine solar fate.

The Oak holds fast to
Growing light as Holly

Brings his shadow near.

The time between held in
Equinox Gate and season’s turn
Tips finely calibrated scales.

The Light holds fast the Oak marks time
Flanked by strength and sundial’s grace.

The Holly answers with response
A dance of calculated pace.

At sunset’s call, he strikes his final blow
As Oak in silent acquiescence bows
And bends to Summer Light’s repose.

His brother hails triumphant as
Holly King and in power upon rooster’s

Early morn call shall next arise.

The waning of the year begins
With Oak King’s necessary demise.

For what lay sleeping within

The growing splendor of

Holly’s strong and fertile embrace

Is the promise of Light’s return

At the peak of winter’s darkened

And heavy snowy face.

And, once again the two shall meet
Oak strengthened by slumber’s rest.

In wooded green and glowing sun of

Lark song’s spring warmed nest.

The end of darkness nears its birth

The Holly King, his energy drained
Shall relinquish crown as brother
Oak King’s claims his time to reign.

***

About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of (click on book titles for more information):

 

The Inner Chamber Volume One on Amazon

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2) on Amazon

Qabalah

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths on Amazon

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia on Amazon

The Eternal Cord

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon on Amazon

Luminous Devotions

 

The Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1) on Amazon

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

 

The Elemental Year on Amazon

Aligning the Parts of SELF

 

The Enchanted Gate on Amazon

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

 

Sleeping with the Goddess on Amazon

Nights of Devotion

 

A Weekly Reflection on Amazon

Musings for the Year

 

Her books are available on Amazon or on this website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

Interview with Author Ceri Norman: Faeries, Stones & Hope

November, 2018

Ceri Norman: Faeries, Stones & Hope

 

 

I was really drawn to Ceri Norman’s book on stones and their connection to magical beings, and you can read my review here. Ceri is a prolific writer on a number of fascinating subjects and makes beautiful nature inspired jewellery which she sells on Etsy. Despite being so busy, Ceri was kind enough to give up some of her time to speak to us here at PaganPagesOrg! Here’s what she had to say when I caught up with her this month.

 

Mabh Savage (MS): When did you first start writing and what drew you to it?

Ceri Norman (CN): I honestly cannot recall a time before I was writing, so I guess it started out with little articles, stories and bizarre recipes (for potions and lotions) as a small child and just carried on from there. I have always loved the magic and power of the written word, and the beauty of the many different forms of writing, that allow us communicate our ideas with each other.

MS: What inspires you most as a writer?

CN: Myths, legends and folklore, so I owe a great deal to the old stories and to those who created or recorded them.

MS: Do you prefer writing fiction or non-fiction, and why?

CN: Non-fiction. I am an obsessive writer; once I start writing I feel a strong compulsion to get the ‘section’ or ‘piece’ finished as soon as possible. With a non-fiction this can usually mean the article or chapter and I can take a breather but with a full fiction novel it means the entire book, which takes me months to write, and that can drive me (and those around me) a little nuts.

MS: What made you decide to write Faerie Stones?

CN: I have always loved stones and Faeries and there are many links between the two, yet wherever I looked there was not a coherent book or article that brought the wealth of information in so many different sources together for the readers. Once I realised that I kept feeling a strong sense from the Faeries to fill that gap for readers and to create something that would enable people to bring crystals into their work with Faerie and to bring Faerie into their work with crystals.

MS: Who would you say the book is aimed at?

CN: Anyone who is interested in crystals, Faeries, folklore, myths and legends.

MS: Do you have a favourite stone or one that resonates strongly with you?

CN: Though not technically a stone, I would have to say Amber. I love its cleansing, bright energy, which is an antidote to my sombre, serious personality. It has so much folklore, especially regarding its healing properties, attached to it and has been so beloved by so many cultures all over the planet. For resin to become Amber it has to endure, to endure being buried/submerged, to endure pressure and to endure the passage of time. I find that a valuable and inspiring lesson in life, that Amber can still be so beautiful, positive and magical even after all that it has been forced to endure.

MS: When did you begin working with stones and their energies and associated beings?

CN: Again, I cannot recall a time before I worked with stones. When I was a child my mother had a beautiful piece of Blue John from Derbyshire on display in our home and I would regularly sneak it out of the display case to work with it and learn from it. I began collecting stones and crystals very early on, from semi-precious stones right down to interesting stones from the garden, which all had their own energies and personalities.

MS: What was the most challenging thing about the writing process for this book?

CN: Some of the research proved challenging. Many modern books on crystals say ‘x is good for y’ and that has become accepted fact regurgitated over and over again, yet I wanted to go deeper and to older sources to really look at the older as well as more modern Faerielore and Folklore associated with stones. Sometimes finding those older sources and information proved a real challenge, but it was extremely rewarding.

MS: And what did you enjoy the most?

CN: It was utterly enchanting to work with the Faeries and the stones to create the book for readers. That magic will stay with me for a very long time.

MS: The book covers 26 fascinating stones plus a wide variety of quartz formations. Would you expand upon this at any point and perhaps do a second volume?

CN: If there was sufficient interest from readers, there is plenty of room to do another volume. There are many more stones out there to write about, from the very precious gems such as diamonds and rubies right down to the sandstone and slate that make up Mother Earth’s wonderful landscapes.

MS: What’s your top tip for anyone just starting to appreciate the magic of stones or crystals?

CN: Enjoy it and do what you need to in order to keep the magic alive! Celebrate that wonderful sense of awe, inspiration and enchantment that comes from working with Faeries and stones. Never let anyone else deter you or disenchant you. Remember it is a two-way relationship. Give back to the stones and Faeries to really forge a strong working relationship, so keep your stones happy by looking after them and do those little chores that the Faeries ask you to do for them.

MS: What other writing projects do you have on the horizon? Are you working on any more books?

CN: I am currently focusing more on articles for several publications, including FAE Magazine and am attempting (intermittently) to blog
(https://wysewitchuk.blogspot.com/) and to do the odd little video for YouTube.

MS: How do you relax or take a break from writing and researching?

CN: I love to get out into nature, to take walks along the beach or in the woods to remind myself that I am a part of nature and to reconnect with the energies of Mother Nature and the Faeries. I am also a big fan of films and TV shows that are based in or inspired by folklore, mythology and all things supernatural from around the world.

MS: Finally, as we move into winter, what’s your biggest hope for the year ahead?

CN: My perennial hope is that humankind (especially our political leaders) can finally please realise that all beings – human and otherwise – are equal and special inhabitants of this lovely planet and that as this is the only planet that we have we need to look after it and each other a whole lot better!

 

Well said Ceri, I think we can all agree with that final sentiment! Ceri’s books are available on Amazon and at all good book stores. Follow her channel on YouTube, visit her blog and view her beautiful jewellery on Etsy.

 

Faerie Stones: An Exploration of the Folklore and Faeries Associated with Stones & Crystals on Amazon

 

***

About the Author:

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

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

 

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

 

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

Gael Song

October, 2018

The Body of the Goddess, Earth

In most druid writings, there are lots and lots of descriptions about relating to nature, how wonderfully peaceful it is, how deeply restorative. It’s one of the most fundamental, if not THE fundamental, teachings of Celtic paganism. But I don’t think I’ve ever read what I personally feel is the reason for the tapestry of wonders and extraordinary powers of nature, which is that earth is the Body of the Goddess! In the seven heavens my druid guides taught me, which make up the planes of light of the inner realms, the first heaven is earth, and it is ruled by the Goddess. She teaches us wisdom because, once upon a time, wisdom grew stale and flat. Folks forgot the laws of love and bad things began to occur all across the universe (I hear the theme from Star Wars as I write this sentence). So, humanity volunteered to come down into realms of illusion and non-love to learn the laws of love all over again through life’s hard experiences. Wisdom is a living thing, it can only be renewed by reliving it into existence, and our hard, hard task is brightening the light of wisdom throughout the cosmos. This is humanity’s main purpose, and our overlighting teacher and mistress in this process is the White Tara, the Goddess. (The seventh heaven is the Diamond Core, and it is ruled by the God, just in case anyone was wondering what He might be doing.) I always see the ivory White Tara star when I look deep into the earth with my inner vision, Her Shamballa center of light, which orchestrates all that occurs here, our wisdom lessons particularly and the forward momentum of love across the globe. This is Her world.

So, when we are out in nature, looking at the misty ocean or appreciating the loveliness of a fuchsia sunset, perhaps, it is the Goddess Who meets us in the ethers, always. Why do we feel so held and peaceful in the forest or near bodies of water especially? Because we’re being embraced there by Her restful, patient, mothering intimacy that knows all will turn out just fine in the end. Or sometimes, it’s Her longing just to hold us close in our pain, when life becomes too harsh to even contemplate happy endings. By Her silence that is as gentle as the hush of night. I believe gravity also belongs to the Goddess, Her holding force that wants to keep us as close as possible, to feel Her endless love and tenderness for each one of us, to support us from below in utter physical security and steadfastness. Stones, too, so very important to druids as well, are Tara’s bones. It is Her essence we meet underground in those ancient chambers, dolmens, and caves the wise ones of the old ways used for ceremony and initiations.

The quality that I’ve always admired most about the Goddess is how She manages to keep adoring every one of Her children, even when they have strayed deeply into darkness. This means murderers, corporate executives who are impoverishing thousands with their personal greed, rapists, and on and on. Anyone can be comforted in Her embrace, anyone at all. All nature is infused with Her energy, Her enduring patient love that waits centuries, if that’s what it takes, for us to turn and seek to touch Her face, to begin walking the path back Home. In fact, I think we are completely lost without Her, and I worry about all the people I meet who will not even consider that She exists. This is one of my primary reasons for being pagan to the core! And it is this single belief in Her that has caused me the most grief from others over the years. Keep believing in Her, please! Keep the ancient ways sacred and open to those who turn back to Her when they are ready to remember. For She will be the saving of the earth!

Not only that, but it is Her Body that sustains the horrific wounds of war, fracking, pollution, a climate out of control. This is Mother love with a capital L! She endures practically anything to see that we accomplish our task, to remain nearby, to lead and hold us as we blunder along down here. It is time to remember, to return Her divine enduring love with real CARE, gentleness, responsibility for what we each do to Her. I saw a film once in which a man in Austria planted trees and vegetables in a veritable wasteland of dirt and sand. And in seven years or so, his farm looked like paradise, luscious fruit hanging from every tree, many-hued flowers spilling over each other in all directions, peace, fertility, a world full of Her beauty and fecundity once more.

All of these qualities of Her love infuse natural spaces, especially Her restful nature that we need so much in this hurried world. So, take a moment to sit beside a tree or river today and feel Her, will you? Remember Who is truly there! She is SACRED, far more than we know. And let’s take care of Her now, picking up that trash we walk over every day, not poisoning our grass and plants and air any more, instead, nurturing and blessing Her for Mothering that’s as deep as the ocean, as wide as the sky, older than the mountains, and as tender as the petals of roses.

***

About the Author:

Jill Rose Frew, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, energy healer, workshop leader, and author. She will be opening a school teaching light healing and the Celtic path of enlightenment in 2019. For information, please see www.CelticHeaven.com

She is author of Guardians of the Celtic Way: The Path to arthurian Fulfillment (her name was Jill Kelly then), and Alba RebornAlba Reborn, Book One, RevisedAlba Reborn, Book Two, and Alba Reborn, Book Three.

Guardians of the Celtic Way: The Path to hurian Fulfillment

30-Days of Samhain Offered by Robin Fennelly

October, 2018

30-Days of Samhain Offered by Robin Fennelly

A Witch’s Sacred Journey

The final harvest calls, the Ancestors await and the veils between the worlds have thinned offering the gifts of healing, transformation and deeper communion with the cycles of nature.

Last year I decided to explore the mysteries of Samhain using a daily format of postings and suggestions to deepen your awareness of this sacred time of the year. I am sharing this again for this year’s celebrations and will be adding some other material as we move through the 30-Days of Samhain. Let the journey begin…

The countdown ends with Astrological Samhain, so Day One begins on October 9th and Day Thirty ends on November 7th. Enjoy…

Day One begins here… Welcome and Introduction

For Quick Links visit: 30-Days of Samhain-Index

***

About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author.

She is the author of (click on book titles for more information):

 

The Inner Chamber Volume One

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2)

Qabalah

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia

The Eternal Cord

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon

Luminous Devotions

 

The Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1)

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

 

The Elemental Year

Aligning the Parts of SELF

 

The Enchanted Gate

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

 

Sleeping with the Goddess

Nights of Devotion

 

A Weekly Reflection

Musings for the Year

 

Her books are available on Amazon or on this website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

For My Witches in the Wardrobe

June, 2018

 

For My Witches in the Wardrobe

Being a Witch can be difficult when you have to hide who you are. It makes it a challenge to practice your Religion or Craft.

I, myself, am “Out of the Broom Closet.” Now that is a phrase that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The thought that a person has to hide who they are turns my stomach! No matter WHAT it is they are made to feel they need to hide about themselves! But, I understand not everyone has the freedoms I do. No, I am not talking american, I am talking the freedoms of everyday life! It could be the freedom of being an adult woman, who can stand on her own and not live in my parents household so can speak for herself. It could be the fact that my family accepts me in all my ways. Not all families are open-minded. Mine really isn’t. I’m just a loud mouth. They are used to me. 🙂

Anyway this column is to you, my Witches. My letters to you, my love letters of sorts. My thoughts, ideas, & expressions of love, faith, and devotion. Ways we can express ourselves in the corners, and cupboards, in locked rooms, or screaming out loud in code, so no one knows.

In this column I will discuss ways to bring Witchdom into your everyday lives. Ways to express your Paganness on the downlow. How to be you, but without shouting, “I am a Witch, Hear me Cast!” I will share ideas, crafts, thoughts, & experiments in hopes that we can all lead more fulfilled lives. Hopefully, I will hear back from our readers on how these ideas help, and maybe hear some of your ideas on how you bring spirituality into your everyday lives in ways that help you in hopes of helping others.

For the first installment where should we begin but with Candles!!! Yes Candles!! What is not the most Witchy item in our toolbox but The Candle?

 

(Photo by Micheile Henderson)

 

Now using candles in your daily life without anyone knowing you are a witch can be as simple as burning smelly candles in your house to soothe yourself and others or as deep as coordinating colors, scents, & inscribing sigils on them when no one is around or in the privacy of your bedroom.

 

Scented Candles & the Witch

You can burn scented candles all day long and no one will assume you are a witch. Scented candles are for everyone. Male or female, young or old!

Every grocery store, internet store, dollar store, & general store sells scented candles. Heck, most stores sell scented candles these days, even bookstores! Many will even tell you what they are for on the wrapping.

You can find nice enough lavender candles for relaxation in your near by dollar stores. Or, if you like to spend a little more on your candles, you can find some like this one that I found in Barnes and Nobles.

 

 

It cost $18.95.

Now, a quick lesson hereit says Dream on it and has a quote by Thoreau, but the scent is Bamboo & Green Tea. Bamboo is for wishes and luck. Green tea, also, is for luck and success. So that goes with realizing your hopes and dreams, rather than, having good sleeping dreams. Do not simply go by what a box says. Always look up correspondences for ingredients yourself! That is very important.

 

Color Coordinating your Candles

Something else to consider with candles for Magickal Purpose is Color. Here is a quick reference guide to Color Magick with candles to help you when choosing the hue of your candles to coincide with what you are preparing:

White – Divining, Purity, Healing, Exorcism

Pink – Love, Friendship, Emotions

Purple – Power, Spirit, Wisdom

Red – Strength, Lust, Courage

Green – Luck, Wealth, Fertility, Ambition

Blue – Tranquility, Health, Patience

Yellow – Learning, Comfort, Confidence, Joy

Black – Banish Negativity, Retribution

Now, these are just a few choice correspondence words to go along with each color. I think from these jump off points, though, you can pick which colors to work with for different goals.

 

Inscribing Candles for your Purpose

What type of candles do you prefer to use for Magick? I, personally, use Chime Candles for magick.

 

 

I like to have my candles burn through for my spells completely, I do not like to put them out. I find that votive, 3-day, or 7-day candles try my patience. Chime Candles burn for approximately 2.5 hours. They are 4.5 inches tall. On the proper day, moon, time, what have you, when I need my magick done, I want it done.

But, me, I like to enhance my Candle Magick by inscribing words or symbols on my Chime Candles for my exact purpose. I feel this carving into them is concentrating energy, focus, and my pure intent of my goal. A meditative moment of sorts.

I do not carve deeply as the candles are not thick. I have used a pin or sewing needle to do the job. I have used my feather quill from my Altar.

What I do, for example, is if a friend is feeling ill, I may take a blue Chime Candle and carve with pin or quill his or her name on one side and the word health on the other with a heart for my love for them and a pentacle to seal the deal. It does not have to be the neatest of carvings as the candles are not the easiest to carve into.

Before lighting my candle I will hold it between my hands and imagine what I want it to manifest. Sometimes a whole story will come to mind. I will let that story play through in my head. I will hold it and dream it for as long as I feel I need to before lighting it. Sometimes a few seconds, sometimes minutes, sometimes longer.

This can all be done in the privacy of your own home, in your private quarters, in a meadow, or a corner of a park. No one need know what you are doing. You can go about your business of doing what you need to do while the candle burns in the room you are in, while you babysit it for the 2.5 hours it takes. Never leave a candle unattended. If need be, you may put it out and relight it later.

I have carved my intentions around the tip in a hurry for privacy. Around the tips of candles and let it burn down passed a certain line to cast the spell, so then you need not wait for an entire candle to burn out. Write your friends name around the tip of candle instead of up and down and let the candle burn down 10 minutes.

 

Reuse the Old

What to do with all those old candles you may have lying around that you can no longer get to light. You know the ones I mean, with the too short wicks where you can no longer get your hands safely in the jars, or where the wicks have somehow just disappeared for some reason! Here’s an idea!!! You can always make new candles from them. These candles you get to infuse with spells or intentions of your own.

There are many ways to DIY candle leftovers. Here are a few sites I found with great ways to do it:

Live the Fancy Life

Sandpaper & Glue

Happy Go Lucky

 

The Summer Sun Candle DIY Way

 

 

Another good way to melt the old wax out of candles to make new candles from them is to use the Summer sun! Take your old candles and bring them outside during the heat and leave them out there for some time to melt. Keep covers on them and let nature do it’s job. When they are melted remove the old wicks. Place a new wick you have purchased, from either your local craft shop or online, into the new jar or whatever you will be using as your candle holder. Be sure it is safe to use!! Pour the wax into the new holder with the wick. You can use anything you feel fit to hold the new wick in place like a pencil or skewer. Whatever works for you. Then leave it to set. You may need to fill the new candle holder more than once. You can mix scents & colors. Play around. Make your own Witchy Creations! You can even play around with your holders when you learn what is safe to use. Like using sea shells and bottle caps as new candle candle holders for instance!

 

 

 

 

Until Next Time…

It has been a lot of fun and I look forward to next month’s column.

Stay Witchie, even if it’s just between you and me -xoxo

 

***

About the Author:

Jennifer Sacasa-Wright is simply a Witch. She runs PaganPagesOrg eMag.  She loves hearing your opinions & thoughts on the eMagazine and welcomes comments. You can email her at jenniferwright at paganpages dot org.  When she is not working on PaganPagesOrg she is creating in some other way & trying to make the world a better place with her family.

 

 

WitchCrafting: Crafts for Witches

June, 2018

Dragonfly

Merry meet.

 

 

With the magic of midsummer comes the magic of dragonflies. Their gossamer wings, narrow body and big eyes make them seem like they come from the Land of Fae I imagined in my youth as being all wee and cute.

I have many memories of lazing on the lake on an inner tube or raft and having one or more landing on me, as if finding an island on their long journey over the water. Some would stay for many minutes. Seeing them reminds me of those warm, long days.

To hold on to that essence of summer and the solstice – as the cold and the dark begin to slowly but steadily creep in – make a dragonfly or two or three.

 

 

Gather dry maple seeds and tiny twig pieces. Stand the stick up in a short container of sand or similar material. Put a dab of hot glue on the seed pod end (I compressed the pod first) and attach to the twig, holding for a few moments until the glue holds. You can then add color with paint or glitter. If I had had beads handy, I would have put two on for eyes.

 

 

If using tacky glue, place the seeds on your work surface with end touching, add a drop the glue and rest the twig on top unit the glue dries.

 

 

Merry part. And merry meet again.

***

About the Author:

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

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

April, 2018

Bright Blessings!

We have “sprung forward”, and are rejoicing that the daylight hours are longer. Some of us are STILL adjusting to the time change, however happy we are about it. Spring officially starts in four days from the time I am writing this, and many have already had their Sabbat celebrations for it.

Like many others, I am coming out of hibernating with the warmer, longer days. My energy levels have increased, and my mood is more enthusiastic. I have been a LOT more busy, and that means that I have forgotten to pace myself. As a result, I have had a couple days when absolutely nothing got done, and I sat around a whole lot.

One thing that has gotten done is massive patio cleanup, and hand fertilizing of the raised garden bed we built some years ago. I have carefully crumbled eggshells, cut up fruit peels, and thrown in both tea grinds, and used coffee grinds.

I am glad I live in modern times and get to “cheat” and throw in store bought soils as well. Soon, peas will be planted in the beds, and after those are spent, pretty flowers, all of which I have seeds for already!

Spring is a big deal at our house!

In Nature, everything is sprouting, and the snowdrops are already glittering through last fall’s dead leaves, on the forest floor. Daffodils are about to sprout, and our crocuses came up first, and soon, fritillaries will follow suit.

Birdsong has returned, and gets louder daily. Squirrels, and bunnies are jumping all over the place, reminding us of how very alive the Earth is. I’ve even seen a couple of mosquitoes already!

Everything in creation from plants, to animals, and even people , are seemingly awakening from Winter’s deep sleep, and are raring to get out in the sunshine and enjoy life!

Some of us spend time outdoors, gardening, and “grooving with Nature”, as my Priest puts it, but are more into the arts. We create, we dance, we enjoy music and theatre. Many of us LOVE to read! What is better than a nice book, and a hot cuppa’ in a cozy room with Spring light streaming in?

Those who are prolific readers are in for a real treat!

A new book was published recently, and let me tell you, it’s an exquisite read.

It’s called Megge of Bury Down (The Bury Down Chronicles) (Volume 1), which is part of The Bury Down Chronicles by Rebecca Kightlinger and is set in Thirteenth Century Cornwall, England. It is magical, chock full of mystery, the Old Ways, and Family Traditions. This book draws you in immediately, and Kightlinger’s descriptive narrative voice is so deep, you actually FEEL like you are THERE, watching in person. The firelight flickering in the darkness is so well detailed, you can almost smell the woodsmoke, and the faces of the women are so well described, you can almost reach out and touch them. You need this book, like , yesterday. Step into Bury Down with Kightlinger’s book.

 

 

I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to speak with Kightlinger via emails, for an in depth, very intimate interview, in which she speaks not only of her book, but her own background, and women’s issues.

First, please have a look at her amazing website:

https://www.rebeccakightlinger.com/

 

And next enjoy the interview! Afterwards, this month’s working will be provided below.

 

Interviewing Rebecca Kightlighter

 

Saoirse (S)– Bright Blessings, Rebecca. First, tell me a bit about yourself and your work!

 

Rebecca Kightlinger (R)My book, Megge of Bury Down (The Bury Down Chronicles) (Volume 1), is about the daughter of a midwife in medieval Cornwall. Megge’s mother and aunt– a healer and a seer, respectively—each hold an ancient grimoire that they must pass down to their daughters, who will then become their apprentices. The books are companion tomes that together enable the women to harness the knowledge and wisdom of every previous heir to the books. They are able to query these ancestors in order to learn the secrets that enable them to serve the people of their village. The problem is that although Megge wants nothing more than to become a woman of Bury Down and be truly a part of her family, she is frightened of her mother’s book. When the time comes for her to accept it, she refuses. 

The stakes are very high for Megge’s mother, so she and Megge’s aunts must bring Megge to accept her charge and assume her role as a woman of Bury Down.

The themes are the desire to belong while being unable or unwilling to do the one thing that will make you a part of the group; the desire to find and follow your own path despite pressure to follow one laid down for you; and the closeness that can unite two people of different generations, the younger being able to learn from the elder, who brings wisdom and unconditional love.

I was an obstetrician gynecologist for many years; but in  2010, a serious injury to my right hand brought that work to an abrupt end. It was then that I started writing fiction. One day in 2011, when I was writing another story, letting scenes play out in my mind and describing them on paper, I saw not New York City or Amsterdam, where that story was set, but a pastoral scene: a grassy hill where sheep were grazing and a girl dressed in rough, heavy woolens was sitting on a big rock at the top of the hill. The girl seemed to look right at me and said, “When you’re done with those Dutch people, I want to go next.” And when I had finished the other story, she showed up again and just started telling me about her life and the lives of her ancestors. At the time, I knew very little about Cornwall and even less about the middle ages. But Megge spoke to me clearly, and with humor, showing me the scenes, and I felt this was something very real, though I had never before experienced anything quite like it.

Having been a visitor to Lily Dale spiritualist community many times, I called a medium, Jackie Avis, to talk to her about it. We had a telephone visit, and even before we started to talk about Megge, Jackie said she was seeing near me a big, very old book with a heavy wooden cover carved with symbols. She perfectly described The Book of Seasons, the book Megge was so afraid of. Our long conversation set my mind at ease, making me comfortable inviting Megge into my life. 

I knew that in order to tell this story well, I would need some serious writing skills, so I applied to The University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program. Poet Annie Finch was the director, and we spoke by phone. It was she who accepted me into the program.

In the summer of 2013, I went to Cornwall to visit the place I thought might be the region Megge had described as home. Arriving at Botelet Manor, where I was staying, was an incredible experience. Everything Megge described was right there. There is even a house on the manor that had been there during Megge’s day. The remains of Bury Down hillfort, built thousands of years ago, stood at the site Megge had described as the healer’s grove, where women came for healings at night. The church, the village location, and the castle were all as I had seen as she spoke.

Writing this book has been the most rewarding experience, and I hope this comes through in the book. 

 

S- I will add, I am a psychic advisor/seer/reader, or whatever people choose to call me also. I am thrilled you spoke with a seer! I refer to this as a gift of spirit, as do many others. I feel we all have gifts of spirit including, speaking with the dead, healing, comforting the grieving, ability to use prayer to intervene in other’s lives, etc. What are your personal beliefs and views about oracles/seers?  Do you feel you have gifts of spirit, and if so, what are they? It sounds like a spirit showed up and told you her story! Is that right? What is your spiritual path, and how does that influence your writing of this book, and your writing in general?

 

R- My mother and great-grandmother had strong spiritual gifts, and it may have been their openness to spiritual communication that has enabled me to accept this communication without fear, judgment, or censure. Like you, I think we all have the ability to perceive the presence of some who are now, as Megge says, in the ether. I sometimes feel my mother or father very near and have had communication of a sort with my mom through dreams after she passed. She told us in her final days that she would “stay nearby as long as possible” to comfort us after she passed, and when she did, I felt her spirit in the room with us for a good long time. It was a sense of joy I’ve never forgotten. 

I believe strongly in the power of intention and prayer, and I know that people’s needs are somehow made clear to the person who can help. I’ve been in that situation many times as a physician, and I know it’s true.

Is Megge a spirit? I can’t say. All I know is that when I’m ready to write, she seems to come and take me through her story. I don’t see or hear her with my senses, but her words come through me onto the page along with scenes as clear as any you’d see in a movie. And the only time this happens is when I’m at my typewriter or keyboard, ready to write. Her home, her village, and all the people in her world are just as vivid and consistent as anything in this world. 

I don’t know what my spiritual path is or where it is leading. One thing for sure is that my daily life is much more solitary that it ever was, and this feels right. It’s not lonely or boring in any way. The writer’s life seems to suit me now, where it would have been wrong for me before this. I used to have a busy practice, which I loved, and I worked with and taught some wonderful, caring, skilled, intelligent people. My patients, mostly middle-aged and elderly women for the last ten years of my practice, were smart, canny, funny, and insightful. I loved being their doctor. I remember talking to a lot of them about matters of the spirit, and I saw that as we all got older we seemed more in touch with it. It stopped seeming like something outside ourselves and became a source of both comfort and, well, interest, for lack of a better word. As I and my patients and friends began to experience more of the spiritual, we began to talk more openly about it and realized that we were having many of the same experiences. 

Other authors, I’ve learned, experience a similar kind of communication in their writing. One young man related in a lecture that when he sat down to write, he would close his eyes and see his narrator arrive at the door and ring the bell. He would let her in, and she would tell him her story. At a recent book-signing event, I asked the author how he invented his characters, and he kind of laughed and shook his head. “They just show up,” he said. “They do whatever they want. I had no control over this story.” Other writers have no idea what this means. They construct charts and plot points and have the beginning, middle, and end mapped out before they even start their story. Many search newspapers for inspiration or ideas, or capture snippets of conversation that they write down and build a story around. That sounds harder to me, more cognitive, but is probably a more efficient use of writing time!

For me, the cognitive part begins after a scene is down. I research the era and place–I visited the place Megge described–and cut and splice scenes, sometimes changing names or details where needed. But I don’t change the overarching story. I stay true to what I’m seeing so the story can continue to move forward. It may sound funny, but I want my narrators to trust me. I want the narrators who are waiting in the wings to tell their stories to know that I won’t mess with them too much. 

It feels like there are countless narrators/spirits out there waiting to tell their stories and searching for someone who can “hear” them. Is this how we return to the living world? Through a storyteller? Is this why many stories somehow just ring true? I can’t say. The first novel I wrote was narrated by an entire town. I had asked my husband for a manual typewriter for Christmas one year. He bought me an Olivetti, and I sat down at it for the first time ever and had no idea what to write. So I closed my eyes and thought, “Who has the story?” And in seconds, probably thirty or forty people showed up in my mind’s eye, all looking like working-class people and farmers from the 1930s, and all jostling to be the one to tell the story. It seemed they had all come back to tell their part of a horrific event that involved all of them but that that none of them knew the whole story of. Each one ended up telling his or her part, often interrupting each other and correcting details. Every night, at 8 pm, I sat down to write. For an entire year. And the whole story came out, all the details that had been kept secret. When it was done, those narrators disappeared. I’ve not heard from them again. One day, when Megge’s story is done, I’ll go back to that one. I hope I will have developed the skills by then to tell it well.

And this is probably much more than you wanted to hear! But it is unusual for me to be able to relate this kind of information about myself and my writing to someone who will understand and not judge. I’ll be very interested to learn if others have this experience and how they deal with it. How it first started and how they reacted. To me, it felt natural, inviting. I’ve never questioned it, and I hope it never stops

 

S- As somebody with a medical background, how does the past misunderstanding of illness, combined with superstition strike you? What do you have to say about it? Have you ever seen similar attitudes in today’s world?

 

R- There have always been and probably always will be superstitions about illness. Back in the Middle Ages, when so little was known about the body in health or illness, it’s understandable that people would confuse association with causality. The scientific method hadn’t yet been designed to distinguish between the two. So, when a patient made a spontaneous recovery from illness after taking a remedy or submitting to bloodletting, charms, or prayers, the association of that treatment with recovery meant that it must have worked! Word went out, and the treatment became more widely used.

My feeling is that even today there are treatments that work but whose mechanism of action we don’t understand despite considerable scientific research. Additionally, there are many treatments and remedies that might be beneficial but that will never be adequately studied simply because no one has a sufficient stake in the results of controlled, double-blind studies. And if the research might show that the product doesn’t work, it’s a gamble. For this reason, some approaches that are considered “superstitious” or “magical” may never be scientifically proven safe and effective, even if they are. 

But, while superstitions in healing can sometimes result in harm, I’m less concerned about that than I am about people harnessing the power of superstition to do ill to the most vulnerable in society. We saw this in Megge’s story just as many have seen throughout history: the most powerful in society using both superstition and strong beliefs against the most vulnerable.

In the worst cases, superstitions are thinly-veiled excuses for committing violent acts. In The Midwife and the Witch, author Thomas Forbes cites “the crowing hen.” From the time of Aristotle until as recently as the late 1800s, a female showing masculine characteristics or behaving “like a man” (i.e., talking) was said to foretell doom. Often, this resulted in the death of the offender.

Whistling maids and crowing hens

Should have their necks wrung early.

(Scheftelowitz, 1913; Jones 1880)

A German proverb prescribed punishment for both hens and women who would dare make their voices heard:

When the hen crows before the cock

and the woman speaks before the man,

then the hen should be roasted 

and the woman beaten with a cudgel. 

(Abbot, 1903)

So, to my mind, the danger of superstition is not so much that the superstition itself will directly harm the believer, it is that others often use the power of belief to control and punish. In the case of Megge and the midwives in her life, someone uses both religious dogma and fanciful beliefs as an excuse to harm both women and children. 

 

S- Attending University in Maine placed you in New England- not horribly far from Salem, Mass. where one of the most famous accounts of witch scare happened. Have you studied this much, or have any insight into it? 

 

R- I’ve studied witch trials from all over the world and in different eras. When I first started looking into the history of this horror, I went to the Cornell University special manuscripts library and studied some original trial transcripts. 

I came away with a picture of ordinary women being tried, often tortured, and put to death after having been accused of witchcraft, sometimes by her neighbors, and often out of fear or retribution. The accusations rarely made sense, and the atmosphere of misogyny and hatred was almost palpable in these documents. Those who controlled communities engaged in witch trials needed a scapegoat for their rage and to control those in their jurisdiction, and this was often either the most vulnerable member of the community or the outsider.

Midwives were often targets of accusations, especially in the Middle Ages, as they treated the most frequently maligned portion of the population–women–and they often did so through techniques and remedies outside the understanding of the medical and religious communities. This made them suspect, and suspicion made them victims.

 

S- Magic is all around us, and in many forms. Your ladies in your book understand this, and practice well. They understand the power of blood bonds, as well as adoptive family bonds. They understand the power of women working together in a man’s world. They understand the power of working in generations. Today’s neo-practitioners are 50/50 in love or hate with this idea. Some shun it, and recognize no elders, believing they are born very powerful and don’t want anybody telling them how to practice. Some like me value our elders, who are passing our craft on to us. This is more ancient, and what the women of Bury Down are doing. I see value in both, personally. In your historic readings, what have you read about passing traditions down? About mentors and students? About family traditions? What examples can you share from history?

 

R- Nearly every profession, skilled trade, and educational or spiritual community relies on one generation teaching the next through both formal, didactic education and mentorship or apprenticeship. The alternative to being thought by someone more skilled or educated is to be an autodidact. People will dispute this, but while I understand that many of us possess innate talents and gifts that we can develop to some extent on our own, I think raw talent needs shaping from the outside, otherwise one’s learning tends to center on readings and teachings that substantiate our own theories and biases rather than challenging or questioning them with an eye to dispelling misconceptions, arriving at a truth, and honing our skills. 

Living by and passing down traditions is documented in religious, cultural, medical, artistic, and every other societal group or profession I can think of. While there are many short-lived splinter groups organized and led by one person, religion and spiritual traditions probably provide the most universal example of laws, rules, mores, and history transmitted to children through their parents, their schools, and their religious/spiritual leaders and teachers, with didactic learning supplemented by sometimes very intimate, inter-generational mentorship in the home. This is documented throughout history in religious texts and in literature ranging from The Iliad to the Mists of Avalon and The Red Tent

Another example of passing down traditions is the oral, storytelling or bardic tradition strikingly manifest in The Mabinogion, a suite of eleven Welsh prose tales passed through generations by storytellers (another profession whose practitioners learned from masters from the preceding generation).

Finally, witchcraft and magic have a long tradition of being practiced by those who draw on ancient knowledge coupled with the skill and insight of a master practitioner. In preparing the manuscript of Megge of Bury Down, I studied numerous grimoires including Picatrix, a compilation of works from the ancient, the medieval and the Renaissance eras, which urges its readers and students to learn from sages: “The wise who are endowed by nature with intelligence never cease nor neglect to seek and inquire that they might learn and understand the secrets of the sages, who sealed them up in their books and wrote them in hidden words, that the aforesaid might search them out by careful investigation until they attain what they desire…” [The Picatrix, Trans. Greer, John Michael, and Warnock, Christopher. Adocentyn Press, 2010, 61.] 

While I am neither witch nor magician, I see in the writings about spiritual practice the value of sages, of teachers, of mentorship. This is the basis of Megge’s story and path. She seeks and finds mentors throughout her life; and this, I believe, is what many people have always intuitively known they’ve needed, have sought throughout history, and continue to seek.

 

S- What that we have not discussed would you like included in my article, please?

 

R- Megge of Bury Down is the story of a young girl growing up in another time and place. It is historical in that it takes place in the past. But it is not really about the history. It is magical realism in that Megge’s family is charged with passing down two grimoires whose power preserves the spirits of their ancestors. But it is not about the genre of magical realism. 

The historical research and the literary technique here serve story: the story of a girl growing up in a family of women. A girl who wants to be one with the mystical women she admires but whose fear and misconceptions keep her apart. A girl who must find the courage to look past her fears to a terrible truth and find a new path. It is about the love, the traditions, and the teaching that unite generations. It is about the women of Bury Down, but it is mainly about unbreakable bonds, crafted over lifetimes, that precede us into each life, sustain us as we find and do the work we came to do, and then guide us into the next. 

 

Many thanks, Rebecca for this amazing interview! Blessed Be!

 

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This Month’s Working

Our next Sabbat after this is published is Beltaine. For the first time in years, I am not hosting!

I’m also not planning to attend Sabbat anybody else hosts!

What will I do with myself for Beltaine this year?”, I wondered.

I thought on it, and was inspired by some things I saw, and decided to send out an appeal to other women to do a One Month Challenge with me instead of a one-time Sabbat rite.

In Wicca Beltaine, May traditions crown a May King and May Queen, and they represent the Goddess and God in ritual, blessing everybody, and bringing life, growth, and in some traditions, sexuality to the people in the ritual.

There are a lot of “Sabbat Pagans” who attend Sabbat, and seemingly forget they are Pagans until the next gathering.

What can I say? It saves time for some folks.

Not everybody has the time, or ability to do lengthy daily, or even weekly devotions. It is easy to assume that we do, but the truth is, for some people, it’s just not happening, and it’s not in any way a choice.

What I thought of was a way to, for 30 days, bless other women, and ourselves, thus blessing, venerating, and adorning the Goddess in each of us women. Collectively, then, we adorn the Mother Goddess through the bodies , hearts , and souls of her daughters, the Earthly representations of her.

The topics brought up in the interview, specifically of abuse of women, and children made me think of an ugly truth. We often focus on abuse men direct at women, and completely ignore the toxic competitiveness we have with one another.
“That bitch thinks she is something, doesn’t she? I’m prettier than her!” Instead of “You go girl! Shake that tailfeather!” We sometimes become jealous that another woman has pride, and we are afraid if she is proud, she will take away the good things about us. Instead, we need to ALL root for one another.

It is not a competition- we should ALL want to help each other succeed.

I see examples of women who are not fat at all get attacked online, and called fat by women who are obviously jealous. Why does this happen? Because we think we don’t look as attractive? Because we would rather she be physically ill and bulimic or anorexic than comfortable in her skin, and healthy?

And why do we make fun of the “scrawny” girls? Maybe they DO have an illness, but this does not mean they should shroud themselves away, unfit to be seen.

Why do we place unfair demands on mothers? If they work, they are accused of putting career before family. If they are stay at home moms, they are accused of being ambitionless freeloaders. If they are tired, and not all made up fancy from keeping up with kids, we accuse them of “letting themselves go”. If they do not want children, they are accused of refusing the “responsibility” of being moms. If they have a lot of kids, we ridicule them, calling them breeders, sluts, and baby factories.

These harsh words do not just come from men. They oftentimes come from other women.

We cannot do this.

We need each other.

We need to build one another up.

This is the inspiration for my working.

Without Further adieu, I would like to share my working with you.

If you would like to, do this working with me.

 

Saoirse’s Solitary 30 Day Adornment of the Goddess/Crowning of the May Queen

For thirty days, do these three things. If you forget a day, oh well, nobody will know!

You may journal every day what you do if you like, but you don’t have to.

  1. For 30 days, give an honest compliment to one woman per day. Build another woman up with your words. Words are mouth magic, and we create whatever we want to with them. Use your words every day to build one woman up to bless, and adorn the Goddess.
  2. Reach out to one woman in the next 30 days, and do something nice for her that will make a difference in her life. It can be small, or great. Maybe you know a lonely woman who loves coffee. Dedicate one day every other week from now on to sitting down to coffee with her. Say you know a woman who is trying to eat healthier. Encourage her, and share recipes with her if she would like that. Say your neighbor loves plants, but says she has no time to garden this year. Gift her with a hanging basket, and offer to help keep it watered if she needs it. What you do to make a difference in one woman’s life can be a great thing or a small thing, but it will make a huge impact.
  3. Finally, do not forget the Goddess in you. It might be easy to do something good for others, but not yourself. It’s time to do one of the kindest things for yourself.

We are often our own biggest, and harshest critics, and while yes, others may tear us down, we sometimes internalize toxic voices, and tear ourselves down worse than anybody else.

Think of something you really find frustrating about yourself. This can be something as simple as age spots on your skin, or something big like, having panic attacks. This is to be a thing that always bothers you. Something you are upset with yourself about.

Now, you are to start forgiving yourself of whatever this is.

This is going to be the most difficult part of the challenge, and it will last beyond 30 days. It may entail deprogramming, tears, or the resurfacing of past aches, but it’s very important.

While we can easily see the Goddess in others, and nurture that, we also need to see the Goddess in ourselves, and nurture that as well.

Enjoy the Spring, Beltaine and being the Goddess you are.

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

 

 

 

Notes from the Apothecary

October, 2017

Notes from the Apothecary: Pumpkin

 

 

It’s that magical time of year again, where anything that can be fragranced or flavoured seems to take on the aroma of a combination of vanilla and pumpkin, with the emphasis on the sweetness of this gorgeous gourd. But why do we revere the pumpkin at this time of year? The answer comes from Irish Celtic history, and the seasonal nature of the fruit (yes, it’s a fruit!) itself.

 

The Kitchen Garden

Although the pumpkin, like other squashes, originated in North America, it can now be found all over the world. It’s classed as a ‘winter squash’ due to the fruits ripening around autumn and winter time. This is one of the main reasons it is so widely in use throughout Samhain and into the Thanksgiving and Christmas/Yule periods.

 

The fabulous thing about pumpkins is that so much of the plant is edible. You have probably eaten the flesh at some point, either in pies, soup or puddings. You may even have eaten pumpkin seeds, which are tasty roasted and salted or used in baked goods such as bread. But did you know you can even eat the flowers of pumpkins? The only downside to this is, if you eat a pumpkin flower, it cannot then be pollinated and grow into a pumpkin!

 

In Korea and some parts of Africa, even the leaves are eaten. In Zambia, they are boiled and mixed with groundnut paste.

 

Pumpkin is great in sweet or savoury food, and can be combined with other squashes easily. A touch of chilli adds a fiery zing, and other warming spices such as cinnamon transform a very earthy plant into a symbol of fire.

 

Growing pumpkins requires a good bit of space, and although you can start them off indoors, they really need moving outside onto a large pile of compost where they can spread out. We only grow our squashes on the allotment, as there simply isn’t room in the garden; not if we want to have space for anything else!

 

The Apothecary

Because the pumpkin was only discovered upon the exploration of North America, some of the older herbals don’t cover it in great depth. In Mrs Grieves’ Modern , she lumps the pumpkin in with watermelon, although she does clearly state that it is a very different plant. She says the pumpkin is sometimes known as the melon pumpkin, or ‘millions’; a term which has certainly gone out of fashion today.

 

She states that in combination with other seeds such as melon, cucumber and gourd (Grieves cites this as cucurbita maxima, a south American squash), an emulsion can be formed which is effective for catarrh, bowel problems and fever. She also tells us that melon and pumpkin seeds are good worm remedies, even for tapeworm.

 

For our furry friends, high-fibre pumpkin can be added to the diet of cats or dogs to aid digestion. It is also sometimes fed to poultry to keep up egg production during the colder months. Always speak to your vet before changing your pet’s or livestock’s diet.

 

The Witch’s Kitchen

 

 

Pumpkins appear throughout folklore and fairy tales, often in themes of transformation. Think of Cinderella, whisked off to her ball in a coach which only a few minutes before was a giant pumpkin. The pumpkin is a symbol of our hearts’ desires, travelling towards our goals and the transformation of dreams into reality.

 

We mustn’t forget that the coach turned back into the pumpkin at midnight! This reminds us to enjoy what we have while we have it, to grasp the opportunities in front of us as we never know when they might disappear.

 

A piece of pumpkin or pumpkin seeds on your altar represents autumn moving into winter, the final harvest and goals of self-sufficiency; whether literally through living off the land and growing your own food, or through honing your passion into a craft that can support you.

 

I will have pumpkin seeds at north in my sacred space, to remind me of all the ‘seeds’ I have planted this year which I hope will grow into greater things even through the cold months; ideas for songs and poems, research into my ‘magical birds’ book, and plans to save money in preparation for our new baby. These are my seeds, and I need to nurture them. Just like the pumpkin, they need care, attention and feeding! Pumpkins need compost, sunshine and water, whereas my ideas need hard work, time and commitment.

 

Home and Hearth

The archetypal ‘Jack O’ Lantern’ most likely comes from the Irish and Scottish Celts, who would have carved a face into a turnip or swede, placed a light within and used this as an amulet to ward off evil spirits, or possibly as a guiding light for ancestral or guardian spirits. When colonists came to America carrying these traditions with them, they found the larger and softer pumpkin; a much better vehicle for the carved totems! And so the pumpkin became the new guiding light of Samhain, All Hallow’s Eve and eventually, Hallowe’en.

 

It’s only the seeds that you need to remove from a pumpkin in order to leave a space for the light inside, and you can keep a few of these seeds to try and cultivate your own plants next year. If you are able to do this (and I appreciate not everyone has the space to grow a pumpkin plant- they are quite large!) this will create a cyclical connection between this year’s and next year’s magic, cementing continuity and your own connection to the turning season.

 

If this simply isn’t practical, keep a few of the seeds on your altar or in a sacred space, as a reminder of the different stages of life reflected in the changing seasons.

 

If you scrape some of the flesh out as well as the seeds, keep this and cook with it at Samhain. You are making the most of your pumpkin, using as much of it as you can to avoid waste, and you are connecting your magical lantern to your Samhain feasting.

 

The lantern can be placed in a window, or on a doorstep if it is safe to do so. If you use a naked flame such as a candle or tealight, please be aware of animals and children, especially during trick-or-treating! The last thing you want is some small child setting themselves on fire or spilling hot wax on themselves. A great alternative is one of those LED candles which you can now pick up very cheaply.

 

 

 

 

The lantern guards your space, keeping away unwanted visitors, and guiding your ancestral spirits to where they need to be, including back beyond the veil once the period of Samhain has passed.

 

I Never Knew…

The word ‘pumpkin’ originates from the Greek word pepon, which means ‘large melon’, which may explain how it sometimes ends up under the melon section in older herbals!

 

Image credits: Pumpkins Hancock Shaker Village, public domain; Photograph of a homegrown pumpkin species, “Atlantic Giant”, (cucurbita maxima), copyright Ude 2009 via Wikimedia; Nathan looking at Jack O’ Lantern display in Benalmadena, copyright 2016 Mabh Savage.

 

***

 

About the Author:

 

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

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

 

Follow Mabh on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

 


 

5 Easy Tips to Help You Relax

October, 2017

With all of the technology available to us today, you’d think life would be easier. Certainly, we don’t have to do many of our daily chores by hand if we choose, but still, stress remains one of the biggest threats to health (source).

So what can be done to manage stress?

The first important thing is to recognize that we might not even realize we are being affected by stress. So it’s important to work some practices into our daily routine that help us deal with the stress that we may not even be aware of.

The biggest problem with this for most people is finding the time. So here are five easy ways to help manage stress levels as part of daily life.

#1 – Meditate

In its most simple form, meditation is setting aside some time to spend in quiet contemplation. Scientific research indicates that meditation can have a significantly positive effect on stress.

Meditation doesn’t have to take long – even five or ten minutes is enough, it’s portable, and doesn’t have to be complicated, although it is a skill that takes practice to develop. A good way to start is just to sit in a comfortable posture, with your hands resting gently in your lap.

Close your eyes slightly or fully, and focus your attention on the pattern of your breathing. Try not to think about anything other than your breath. Some people use the technique of recognizing any thoughts that might come into their mind, and gently pushing them aside, or allowing them to float out of the mind while returning their focus to their breathing.

Alternatively, you could try a guided meditation, many of which are accessible online, like these (source).

2# – Get outside

Being outdoors in the open air, and spending time in natural places helps you to recharge and appreciate the simple things in life. It is possible to do this virtually anywhere, and beaches, woods, forests and even city parks or the tiniest copse of trees are all fabulous places to be.

Clinical studies have long proven that spending time outdoors, especially in the sunshine, and walking are both highly beneficial to health, reducing stress, anxiety and depression (source).

Walking barefoot – making sure that it’s safe to do so first – helps to connect with nature and become attuned to natural cycles. Observe the beauty and harmony, and the natural forces at work.

In daily life, make detours that take a more scenic route on your way to work, use your lunch break to get out into nature, and make family walks part of your regular routine.

#3 – Eat Chocolate

This is the yummiest stress buster ever! Studies have shown that daily consumption of 40 grams of dark chocolate (and to a lesser degree milk chocolate) can significantly reduce stress levels.

Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content (above 75%) has also been shown to decrease blood pressure, risk of heart disease and diabetes. This serves to illustrate the fact that treats in moderation really can be good for you (source).

#4 – Do Some Gardening

Once you’ve made short work of your daily chocolate quota, it’s time to head into the back yard. Not only can you work off a few calories, it’s also good for reducing stress.

Numerous studies have shown that caring for plants, weeding and tidying the yard can have numerous significant benefits to health, including reducing stress, anxiety, depression and increasing life satisfaction and self-esteem.

So whether it’s your window box, someone else’s yard, or even a corner of a park or woodland you regularly visit, a daily dose of gardening – even just for a few minutes – is definitely on the stress buster list (source).

#5 – Laughter is the Best Medicine

You know those moments when something just tickles you, and you start to giggle? Moments later, you find the giggle gradually escalating into a fit of laughter that you just can’t control…doesn’t it feel great?

There’s a reason for that. Laughter is thought to release endorphins – chemicals that make us feel good, and has been shown in research to help to decrease stress, anxiety and depression, and give increased quality of life.

So make it a habit. Find a memory that makes you laugh, or a joke, or spend time watching what the children are up to when they think you’re not looking – anything that gives you that feel good factor. And when the laughter comes, don’t hold back…just let it out! (source).

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About the Author:

Helen Sanders is chief editor at HealthAmbition.com. Established in 2012, Health Ambition has grown rapidly in recent years. Our goal is to provide easy-to-understand health and nutrition advice that makes a real impact. We pride ourselves on making sure our actionable advice can be followed by regular people with busy lives.

ECO not EGO

May, 2017

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In truth don’t know all that much about plants – but I am still going to write a piece about plants!

For me summer 2016 was dedicated to learning about wild plants and communicating with plants and trees. We had just bought our dream house in Sweden. It is set on a huge rock in a pristine forest, on the Baltic coast just south of Stockholm. I spent a lot of time in the forest and walking down farm tracks. I also read some thought-provoking books written by people who have dedicated their lives to plants.

My key learnings about plants and trees in general were that

a) They live in communities

b) Unlike human beings they have no ego

c) They are genetic shape shifters with many strategies in place for coping with the unexpected

Here are a few more discoveries:

Trees and plants will send nourishment to specimens that are struggling.

Every plant community has some highly unusual species, often written off was “waste” or “random and useless” by clever humans. But actually those plants will often literally save the day when extreme circumstances (or even catastrophes) occur.

The larger picture I slowly gained was of plants as true teachers about community values, even Life and Death!

 

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(Great Marsh Thistle)

Indigenous peoples speak of something they call Original Instructions the ancient teachings for sustainable living that are safeguarded and maintained by indigenous (tribal) peoples. Sometimes those original instructions are referred to as The Law.

One night after a blissful day of plant-studies I had a dream where a plant community appeared as ‘the school play’, where all pupils in a class were allocated roles, robes and props. But when the curtains fell the kids were just kids again and next year they’d all be allocated different roles and robes. The child who was the star of the show this year might have only a minor role next year and so forth. That way the children learned not to over-identify with their roles.

Sitting out in the forest, or walking the farm track, I started seeing glimpses of plant and tree communities where all members play the role that is required of them to keep the collective healthy, balanced, fertile and vital.

In contrast to such eco-systens we human beings live in ego-systems. We become attached to our roles and over-identify with them. Not unlike the child starring in the school play refusing to take off his or her crown when the curtains close, reality comes calling and a reshuffle is in order. We stay put! We dig our heels in! We push others aside or speak disparagingly of them. (Just watch politicians on the world stage right now!)

 

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(Orange Rowan Berries)

To thrive human beings need to find meaning in what happens to them. They (WE!) need to feel valued, needed and appreciated for the unique contribution we make to the larger whole. This is fair and it is not an ego-need. I would call this a need of the human soul instead: to evolve in reciprocal partnership with All That Is (all sentient beings including non-human beings). However, when we human beings cling to our roles, we become attached to them. We call this ‘ambition’ and ‘career progress’. Often we end up standing in the way of a new generation, younger voices, fresh ways of thinking and shaping reality.

Remember that some plants are annuals: they die and re-seed themselves. Others are perennials. This allows for fresh constellations of ‘known’ and ‘new’ elements every year., in response to environmental conditions. One thing that plants and trees can teach us is how to die with grace. To leave when it is our time to go but also to return (or re-seed) when and where we are needed.

 

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(Yellow Foxgloves)

Because plants live by eco-principles (not egoic drives), whatever they do is in service to the larger whole, the greater good. Within that some flower extravagantly and others cook up mighty poisons. And some plants do both!

Plants have roots and they wilt the moment they lose their roots. Many humans today try hard to thrive without knowing and honouring their roots or their ancestors.

So… if plants really are the keepers of the Law, of the Original Instructions, then I sense that we can learn the following lessons from plants:

– Eco not Ego

You cannot thrive if you pollute or disregard your environment

Living in communities

We can greatly enjoy the roles we are asked to play – but we need to be ready to hand our robes and crowns to others when the time comes. And often a new role awaits when we do so…

– The weirdest, most unprepossessing plants often save the day when catastrophe strikes

What if we take that teaching to heart and accept the mirror it holds up: how can the disabled, the sick, the elderly, the dispossessed save our planet today? What keys do they hold that we are not seeing? (What if we miss out on medicine that can save our planet because it comes from – say – a black lesbian autistic herbalist – rather than a medical doctor?)

What if a young child sees new ways forward?!

Where are we NOT looking?

What are we thoughtlessly disregarding (or not aware of at all?)

Individualism gone mad has no place in any eco-system

Plants show a vast array of individual expressions, colours, shapes, behaviour and adaptations. Even secrets, tricks and strategies! But plant spirits know that individualism gone mad has no place in the eco-system (it is an expression of an ego-system).

Today my question is: are we willing to learn fron plants and trees?

It is time to pay more attention to non-human teachers in our efforts to save the planet and arrive at sustainable ways of living?

I think so! I will spend summer 2017 in the same place learning more and I may well write another piece about my discoveries.

 

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Imelda Almqvist, 5 April 2017

About the author:

Imelda Almqvist’s book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon on 26th August 2016.  She is based in London,UK and teaches shamanism and sacred art internationally. 

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/

Check out TRUE NORTH (the school of Sacred and Norse Shamanism Imelda is opening in this location in Sweden in 2018):

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http://www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk/info2.cfm?info_id=224450

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