ritual

The Enchanted Cottage: Magick for the Witch’s Home

November, 2017

To Protect the Witches Home

“We will set to work on that” said Hansel, “and have a good meal. I will eat a bit of the roof, and though, Gretel, canst eat some of the window, it will taste sweet.”

Hansel reached up above, and broke off a little of the roof to try how it tasted, and Gretel leaned against the window and nibbled at the panes. Then a soft voice cried from the room.

“Nibble, nibble gnaw,
Who is nibbling at my little house?”

The children answered,

“The wind, the wind,
The heaven-born wind,”

and went on eating without disturbing themselves….

From Hansel and Gretel—Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tale

 

Grimm

 

The above tale is from one of my favorite fairy tale books. Reading the myth and lore that the Brothers Grimm collected not only brings me comfort during the cold and dark months, I also enjoy unraveling some of the meaning behind the tales. One of the lessons I have learned from Hansel and Gretel is that if you don’t want random children nibbling on your home, you better learn how to set up protective boundaries. If the old witch in the candy coated cottage had installed magical shields around her property, she may not have ended up being cooked in her own oven.

There are many ways one can go about protecting their home from evil and unruly spirits, enemies, and unforeseen forces. It is always best to figure out what shielding magic works best for you but I will share a few methods that I have found to be effective.

Red Brick Dust. A staple in New Orleans Voodoo and Appalachian Hoodoo, Red Brick Dust is my go to formula for most protective magic. Easy to find on the internet and fairly easy to make, this magical powder is made from the grindings of a red brick. The trick is finding a brick that is red throughout, they can be difficult to find. To use, just sprinkle across your doorways and window seals. If feeling the need for extra protection the dust can be sprinkled around the perimeter of you house.

Gargoyles. Found on Egyptian and Greek temples and many churches, the grotesque gargoyle started out as a water spout. Now they can be found everywhere as a decorative feature on many homes and businesses. I have found these creatures to be fiercely protective and have a few around my home. They not only defend my home from unwanted entities, they also have been known to protect my home from natural forces such as storms and falling branches. All of my Gargoyles have names and they are treated like part of the family.

Herbs. There are many herbs that can be used in the protection of your home. You can sprinkle them across entrances much like Red Brick Dust or you can make magical brews and washes out of them to clean or draw runes and symbols with. This list is but a small portion of herbs that may be utilized for protective measures. Garlic, anise, bittersweet (poison), cinnamon, datura, juniper, wolfsbane (poison), and my go to favorite herb—vervain.

Runes and other symbols. These can be drawn through the air or “painted” on doors and windows with washes and brews. They can also be carved into the ground at the four corners of your property. Runes can be used on their own or combined to make bind-runes. Isa, Nauthiz and Algiz are just a few of the runes that can be used. The pentagram or pentacle is another popular protective symbol that is used as is in some magical circles, the cross.

What I have shared here are a few techniques that I use in protective magic for my home. There are many methods that have been known to work just as well as mine and it is wise to find the ones that work best for you. As the nights grow colder, I offer you many warm blessings for your hearth and home. May your home be safe from the nibbling of children…

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

November, 2017

Fire Clearing

Merry meet.

At pagan festivals, it is almost expected there will be fire performers. While fire is one of the elements and there’s something primal about it, I never saw it as particularly connected to a pagan or spiritual practice.

That was until six weeks ago when a coven sister did her first fire clearing.

Ever since I’ve picked up my fans, I knew there was a spiritual component to them,” said Becky Coates who has been a fire spinner for 18 months. “Before they came into my life, I was often seeing them in sacred space and dancing with them during meditations. The first time I had them in my hands they immediately felt so right. I then took them to all my spiritual circles, to pick up the energy of that, but I didn’t know what to do with it,” she said.

This past summer, someone picked up her card at a farmers market. Noticing it mentioned Coates as a massage therapist, tarot reader and fire dancer, and asked, “‘Do you do that for energy clearing?’ and my answer was, ‘I can, but not yet.’”

 

 

Wondering why she wasn’t doing that, she thought about what it would be like. At a Mabon weekend retreat with 20 other goddesswomen, she decided it was the perfect time to begin.

Every time I do it, I understand it more and more. It started out with the clearing aspect of it, but now I’m also getting into energy raising. I’m excited to see how this practice grows.”

 

 

She’s developed a basic structure for a routine that lasts the three minutes the fans burn. It starts when she approaches the fire, connecting with the fire source before she lights her fans and asks it to work through her. Barefoot, she then gracefully approaches the person to be cleared. She lets the fire greet them in the way it calls and then she casts a circle by spinning deosil around the person to be cleared. Starting in the center, she sweeps the energy from the center line out.

I can feel the density as I’m passing though, so I’ll feel a subtle shift. The faster movements bring energy up,” she said.

 

 

As she works on both sides of the body at the same time, Coates explained, “It’s learning and it’s balancing.”

As she sweeps and fans, raises and lowers, and spins around as you’re standing still, you can hear the whoosh of the air rippling through the fire as the fans are moved quickly. You can smell a hint of Coleman camp fuel. You can feel warmth come near and move away. You can also feel a stirring in you, a negativity or a block you are willing to release being swept away.

After her second clearing, Kelli Cooke said, “I always feel like old energy is being cleared out, and old patterns are broken and undone. Any heaviness I’ve been carrying is set free, burned away.”

For me, I could feel the fire burning away the frustration and fear I wished to release from my life, and I could feel them being pushed away as they lost the hold they had had on my body and spirit.

Coates brings the fans over the head of the person “to acknowledge the power within them.” From there, she follows what she’s called to do. It might be more clearing heavy energy out of the aura or rising the energy. The times I’ve watched her she’s been focused, eyes often closed, listening to her inner wisdom that guides her movements.

 

 

You’re so in the moment,” she said.

Those receiving cleansing have said the same.

Obviously, experience with fire spinning is a basic requirement for anyone wanting to do a fire clearing. So is a having a good sense of depth perception. In addition to fans, Coates thought hoops might also be used. If working with poi, consider using them to clear an area or cast a circle rather than for close-up work.

I could see using fire for more directive magic. You could use a staff or sword as a wand. If you have a prop that you’re playing with, ask it,’How do you want to be of service?’”

“Fire is such a communicative element and if you are touched by it, you know it’s power. It can feel like a warm hug or a blazing inferno and so much can be transformed through its energy,” Coates said.

Kerry Bower felt both.

She said she was honored to receive Coates’ first ritual clearing.

 

 

I still don’t know what happened to me the few hours before the fire clearing, but it was extremely intense. I was very emotional and vulnerable. The combination of physical feeling I got from the heat along with the sound of the flames and the sight of the light behind my closed eyes really helped me release the spiritual weight I no longer wanted to carry,” Bowers said.

It was purging the most physical and mental pain I had ever experienced. The flames took me from the low I felt hours earlier, and lifted my spirit, like a phoenix rising. I felt empowered and protected.”

 

 

While currently in Connecticut, Coates will be going on the road in 2018, so she may be at a festival or function near you – or could be. For more information, email BeckyCoatesMassage@gmail.com or visit her website at www.beckycoateslmt.com.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

 

***

 

About the Author:


 

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

The Bad Witches Guide

November, 2017

 

The Bad Witches Guide to Aromatherapy

 


I am a bad witch. There are a long list of reasons why I am a bad witch. Having been out of the broom closet for some considerable number of years I would on occasion get asked “but you’re a good witch though?” My response to that depending on the person asking but I found I started to say “yes, a very, very good witch” rather darkly as it usually got the point across.

 


I have a super charged sense of smell. You’d think spending my childhood on the farm would have ruined it but I think it made things like chemical and perfume smells more sensitive for me. Smells can sometimes be so intense (not even bad) that they can make me throw up.

 

(image from here)


I was just at university when I first started using essential oils. It just sort of “made sense” to me from the get go. I wonder sometimes if this is my issue with being in a large crowd, all the smells. I can tell you what death smells like, what rot and sickness smell like too. (Death is sort of like crushed elderflowers with a hint of cat pee and a hint of tin).

 


I am a qualified aromatherapist. This sometimes put me at odds with some of my teachers who went from what was in a book rather than the smell of the person they were working on. Also people lie! You get a client before you and they never smoke (but you can smell it coming from them) drink only water (is that coffee breath I smell?) and have “the odd glass of wine” on the weekend (but are sweating out that alcohol smell). This taught me two things. People will put their health and well-being in danger rather than be shamed about their bad habits and start a little and work up!

 


What is an essential oil? An essential oil is the extraction of natural plant volatile oils. These small organic compounds change quickly from solid, liquid and gas and are easily absorbed into the body, even through the skin. Steam distillation is a common essential oil extraction process but some places use chemical extraction or compression too. The organic chemicals and compounds such as carvacrol found in many essential oils like oregano and thyme seems to disrupt bacterial membranes inhibiting their growth. It also seems to block certain kinds of pain receptors too. Science is starting to catch up with what aromatherapists have been saying all along!

 


Essential oils are extremely potent. They can burn or cause intense irritation not just alone but in combination with the chemical on the skin. Food, alcohol, cigarettes, perfumes, medication and even deodorants on the skin can react with essential oils in unexpected ways.

 


Then comes personal preference. Some people really don’t like certain smells. This can be because of a memory association, or just be the body knowing it would not be good for it. My mother hated the smell of lilacs, I disliked the smell of rose geranium for years. Some people hate the smell of rose, or jasmine. Some loathe vanilla.

 

 


Lavender is a common essential oil, and usually quite cheap. However learn the Latin! Knowing your Lavandula Augustifolia from your Lavadin is important. Much like the different between French and English lavender, or Spanish or Australia grapes, the earth, water and weather have an effect on the amounts of chemical compounds in essential oils. With cheap essential oils, you get what you pay for. Often chemically extracted, thinner and paler, with less of the extracts you want. It is often a false economy.

 


Keep your essential oils away from sunlight, pets and small children (as well as some ignorant adults: someone on one of my aromatherapy courses left a bottle of peppermint oil in a bathroom cupboard and had an uncle drink it to “settle his stomach” and ended up in A&E, or the ER if you’re in the States).

 

 

Magickally aromatherapy oils can be worked into workings in all kinds of ways. From adding it to the water of your ritual baths or to your asperging or cleaning water to burning it or adding it to water to make a steam, or making ritual oils for the body or objects.

 


Essential oils can be used like incense to cleanse and clear or charge a space or blended to charge spell candles; or added to sachets or mojo bags. Lavender flowers you buy can be a touch flat when it comes to scent so you can add a couple of drops of a good lavender essential oil to the dried herb. Lavender is considered one of the safest oil for beginners to experiment with. It is generally a relaxing oil (but about 10% of people have the opposite reaction to it) so using it as way to calm a space.

 


Tranquil Space and Mind Rite


You will need:

 


6 tea-lights (and heat proof holders)

 


4 pieces of amethyst

 


Lavender essential oil

 


Cold pressed organic almond oil

 


A small container or bowl for oil

A purple candle

 

Rite:


Take some 6 simple tea-lights and remove them from their metal base.

 

Add a drop of lavender essential oil and replace the tea-light. In three pairs place them around your space (preferably in safe heat proof places) with a piece of amethyst. Take 30ml of organic cold pressed almond oil and add three drops of lavender essential oil to it, swirling gently to combine.

 


Take a small amount of the essential oil blend and rub between your palms and dress a pale purple candle. Wiping off the excess oil carefully light the candles in your space and turn of any artificial light.

 


Now taking your blend slowly and deliberately massage your body with the oil. A small dab on the forehead to begin and then working from the feet up. Take your time and make sure you don’t rush. You can now play some peaceful music and meditate using the purple candle, or simply be in the calming space.

 


Candle meditation is about focusing the eyes on the flame but watching it passively (like watching T.V). It is a softness of gaze, and one of observation. Thoughts come, and thoughts go, just let them.

 


It sounds quite simple but it can be quite transformative. Don’t be worried if you have an emotional reaction. You might cry or get the giggles. You might feel angry. This is simply what you have been holding in underneath. Keep massaging and breathing it will pass.

 


**Please don’t fall asleep with candles burning!**

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

October, 2017

Releasing the Old Year

Merry meet!

While Samhain most often involves honoring the ancestors and divination, the night is also the eve of the new year.

Even if I have participated in a group ritual, there’s a simple ritual I like to do alone in front of my altar, or outside when possible, as close to midnight as possible. There is no reason this can’t be done in a group.

I gather some paper, something to write with, a cauldron and something with which to light a fire.

Once in sacred space, I reflect on the previous year, often flipping through the pages of my gratitude journals to remind me of all that transpired. I then reflect on what I want to bring with me into the new year, and what I wish to release and leave behind. Often it’s an attitude, a thought or a habit. It can be someone who is an energy vampire, expectations or material objects. If it no longer serves your highest good and greatest joy, it’s suitable for letting go.

Writing one thought per slip of paper, I light it and drop it into the cauldron, letting it turn to ash. I continue as long as there is something I want to purge from my life.

Afterwards, I stir water into the ashes and pour it on the earth, thanking all the elements for their part in the cleansing. I tend to journal a bit before opening the circle.

Whatever you choose to do, may you have a blessed Samhain.

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.

Release & Let Go Samhain Ritual

October, 2017

 

The Witching Hour will soon be among us and that means time for reflections and release. Samhain has always been a time of renewal and review for me and a time of setting new goals. I do this while looking over the past year as I realize lessons that were taught in various ways.

 

It is also a time of honoring those gone by, those who have transitioned before us. While I place respect for those as a group, I hold a personal vigil for my father and my best friend, who went on in 1989 and 2009, respectively.

 

Ah Samhain – a time for transformation, a time for creation, and a time for beginnings. I look to this Sabbat as one of great discovery. I learn more about myself during this time of the year than any other. It is a wonderful time for me to pause and reconnect to Spirit. It is a sacred time where I can find my rope they have thrown me all year and really see why and learn from it. I always do a small ritual and a personal meditation alone on this night.

 

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

 

The Ritual: Release and Let Go

 

Tools Used:

One pink candle

One red candle

Paper

Incense (first Rose + Geranium for letting go and then Lavender for cleansing and bringing in the peace and calmness)

Essential oil of choice (First, I usually use what is called ‘Fascination’ and then I use a Goddess oil I have called ‘Hestia’)

and a fire proof container.

 

I first light the red candle, light the Rose + Geranium incense and burn the Fascination oil. Then I write down all that I would like to let go of from the previous year. I let out all of my feelings for the various events that have occurred and I ask for release. I say my goodbyes and I offer my thanks for the processes I have allowed. I then tear up my paper and place it in my bowl and light it up with my red candle all while offering gratitude.

 

The next part is to light the pink candle, the Hestia oil and the Lavender incense and write what my goals are for the year. I write my hopes, my dreams and my wishes. I write feelings I want to come into. I write emotions I want to express. I write dreams I want to see come to fruition. I write down the steps I need to take to make certain events begin. Instead of burning this list, I drop a bit of oil on the paper, and then seal it with the wax from the pink candle.

 

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

 

I have done that ritual for years and it has always brought me peace and joy and pure love. Then I always do a calming and extensive quiet meditation and spend some one on one time with myself and Divinity. The Goddess always brings me answers and the ‘oomph’ to move forward another year.

 

Blessed Samhaim and enjoy your Witching Hour, wherever you may be.

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.  

Samhain Protection Spell

October, 2017

(Book of Shadows, Magical Diary by Earth Works Journals on etsy.)

In getting ready for your Ritual, you will need the following items:

* Black Sand or Black Salt

* Garlic

*White Salt

*Black Sequins

*Bag of Glass Beads (with white, black and purple in them)

*Bell (any size)

*Candy (8 small pieces total)

*Muslin Pouch

* a quiet place, not to be disturbed

* an incense that you really like that helps you calm down

* a pre-ritual shower (if so desired) to get the days’ negativity off of you

* a lighter

* a tealight holder (for the tealight candle, or a piece of heavy duty foil underneath the tealight to protect your surface)

Now…we’re going to set up your altar (the place where you will be doing your ritual) –

~ Lay out a black altar cloth or any color you prefer

~ Put the tealight holder to your right on the altar (or foil if that’s what you’re using)

~Place your incense holder (if you are using incense) to your left upper corner

~ Take the black sand, and go outside and sprinkle the black sand around the perimeter of your entire property.  Best to do this as evening is approachingThen go inside.

~ Take the white salt and go into the 4 corners of your house (whichever rooms those are, and throw a pinch of salt into each of the farthest 4 corners of your house and one pinch at the front door, one pinch at the back door (if you have side doors, do it there too.  But do the 4 corners of the house first.

~Stand in front of your altar and close your eyes and visualize the salt beaming up like crystal beams all around you protecting you during your ritual.  Stay with this visualization till you feel it takes within you.

Once you have felt the light around you and you are calm and breathing deeply, then sit and go ahead (either perform your circle casting, calling elements, etc. ONLY IF YOU WISH) and light your tealight candle and your incense.

Say:

I call upon the Ancient Ones,

To help me with this spell to be spun.

Protect me now as I say my heart,

Keep all evil away so this Spell can start.”

By now, a bit of wax pool should be forming on the tealight candle.  Take a good pinch of the garlic granules (organic) and sprinkle on top of the tealight.  Seeing a couple of tiny sparks is an excellent sign.  Do another pinch if you wish, just not so much as to burn the candle out.

Take your bell and while sitting or standing, shake the bell in the top left corner of your altar, then the top right corner, then the bottom left corner and then the bottom right corner and lay it down.  A bell clears out negativity from you, your aura, and the room space.  The garlic in the candle keeps evil and entities you do not wish to be there, away; along with the salt and sand you spread out earlier.

Sit and Breathe in the scents.  Focus.

Remember: your intent for this

Spell is PROTECTION.

With PROTECTION as your focus, take your pouch.

Place the pouch over the tealight (but obviously without letting it get burnt) and let the scent of the garlic infuse into it for a minute or so.  As you do this, visualize protection and safety for you and your family.

~Next, take the black string and tie 4 knots into it as equally spaced out as you are able.  While doing this, say:

4 Knots for Protection At Its Best,

These 4 knots shall be put to the Test.

Protection comes our way today,

And stays with us through New Year’s Day.

 

(at which time, you should re-do another New Year’s Protection Spell.)

~Place the string into the muslin pouch.

~Place Two white beads into the pouch and say:

These beads show what will take place

To trespassers who harm us in our space.”

 

Place the black beads in and focus on the black absorbing all negativity or ill wishes that may be sent your way from anyone.

Place the purple bead in while visualizing the love of God / Goddess & the power of Good.

Place the remainder of the garlic in the pouch.

Take the sequins and put 4 into the pouch.  Sprinkle the rest around your altar or a candle in your home (this ties the home to the pouch.)  While doing this, focus on the richness of your family’s lives together, your love, and that all negativity will be absorbed.

Eat 4 candies

Put 4 candies into the pouch.

Hang the pouch by a door,

Or keep on your person or purse.

Then say:

Protection is Spun, It is Here…

It shall last ‘till the New Year.

Thank you for the Bounty I See,

That you have given me & my family.

So mote it be.”

You can now close your circle, release the quarters/elements, etc. (if you chose to do that), or simply clean up your space, thank your God/Goddess (or both) as in the spell above and put your pouch where you would like it.  Throw away any items not necessary to keep, and feel free to keep the bell for future spells (preferably of the same nature.) The candle and incense should be let to burn out completely or you may snuff them out when you are done.

You may choose to use either the enchantment spell OR this spell OR both to help protect you and your home this Fall Season.  Think of other ways you can make and enhance protection for you and your loved ones this Fall.

 

Merry Samhain!

Book Review: Crystals and Sacred Sites by Judy Hall

September, 2017

CRYSTALS AND SACRED SITES

BY JUDY HALL

It was with great pleasure that I received this book for review. I am a great believer in the efficacy of crystals, as well as being a fan of Judy Hall, having two of her other books.

I found this book extremely interesting. After a brief discussion of how landscape affects us – “our minds are shaped by the landscape around us”, and how most sacred sites are built on land which is a combination of “geological, geomagnetic, symbolic, astronomical, mythological and shamanic factors”, she touches upon the choosing, purifying and awakening of your crystals.

The bulk of the book revolves around sacred sites the world over and how we can connect with them, even without making the physical journey. As Ms. Hall states, there are “interconnections between landscape, geology, crystals and power”, and that the Earth as sacred energies. The crystals used are those that resonate with specific sites, as opposed to crystals found at the sites.

Each sacred site within the book connects with a crystal, and also an alternative crystal. Legends, myths and stories are shared about each one, as well as what one can expect from each of them, i.e. peace, comfort, spiritual awakening. Each site also has a corresponding ritual/ceremony/meditation.

The photos within the book are breathtaking and can easily be used, in my opinion, for a meditation upon that site, although Ms. Hall recommends using Google maps or Websites to become more comfortable with the site itself.

I believe that everyone will find at least one site that calls out to them; for myself, I am drawn to the Sekhmet Sanctuary at the Karnak Temple, and most especially to Glastonbury, which Ms. Hall describes as “the heart chakra of the world”. I know that I look forward into exploring this more fully in the future.

With that being said, even if you have no interest in the sacredness and connection of the sites themselves, and are only interested in the crystal information, there is a wealth of that here, as well.

)O(

***

About the Author:

 

Susan Morgaine is a Daughter of the Goddess, Witch, WriterTeacher, Healer, and YoginiShe is a monthly columnist with PaganPages.org Her writings can be found in The Girl God Anthologies, Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak” and Jesus, Mohammed and the Goddess, as well as Mago Publications She Rises, Volume 2, and “Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess”. She has also been published in Jareeda and SageWoman magazines. She is a Certified Womens Empowerment Coach/Facilitator through Imagine A Woman International, founded by Patricia Lynn Reilly. She has long been involved in Goddess Spirituality and Feminism, teaching classes and workshops, including Priestessing Red Tents within MA and RI. She is entering her 20th year teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, being a Certified instructor through the Kundalini Research Institute, as well as being a Reiki Master. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon. She can be found at https://mysticalshores.wordpress.com/ and her email is MysticalShores@gmail.com

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.  

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

July, 2017

Full Moon Rise

 

 

 

Merry meet.

An eclectic group of women in my area have been getting together for as many full moons as possible these past two year. One of our favorite traditions grew out of our coven – to gather at a small public beach that does not close at sunset. We bring blankets, camp chairs and food, and set up where we see the sun set behind the cottages and then watch the moon rise in the east over the water.

 

 

 

We do it as often as possible when the full moon falls on a weekend during warm weather. The most recent time was June 9, which happened to be the Strawberry Moon.

 

 

 

 

 

An informal, impromptu ritual included directional candles set up on a blanket and a fertility goddess. We chanted. One woman bought her singing bowl to bring us all into harmony. We all raised strawberries to the moon along with our petitions and gratitude.

 

 

 

 

There was raucous laughter and deep silence, and conversations both magickal and mundane. We dipped our toes in the ocean under the moon. We hugged and kissed and allowed our wild women selves to come out.

Perhaps these photos of that night will prompt you to have an equally awesome and awe-filled experience.

 

 

 

 

Merry part. And merry meet again.

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