sabbat

MagickalArts

December, 2018

Excerpted from:

19-Days of Illuminated Darkness

Day Three

The Light Within the Shadow of the Winter Solstice



For most of us the turning of the Greater Wheel to the Winter Solstice (Yule) is one of welcoming the return of the Light of

renewal and strength, the promise of increasingly longer hours of daylight and anticipation of warmer weather and a more outer world focused time. This change is subtle in physical form as this is also when the cold of the Winter (Northern Hemisphere) will remain for a few months more prompting us to retreat indoors as the early arrival of evening’s darkness envelopes and calls us into the warmth and light of home.

Each year, I do my work of Self, both within my Tradition (The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel) and personally to call forth this return of Light. And, I also find myself retreating more deeply into the shadows and taking refuge in its landscape of shadow; being intuitively drawn towards the deeper work of spiritual quickening, I think of this as the energy of the Hermit Key of the Tarot and my time to move into the darkened areas of my own inner landscape so that I may welcome and bring forth the Greater Light within. This is also the time of relying on my Shadow self to provide the necessary absence of light to guide me through those darkened paths in a constructive and informed way.

In all spiritual practice, the thought of the physical being holding the Inner Flame of Spirit or The Divine Spark of Light is offered up as a basic concept. The language may differ. The way in which this Inner Light presents itself and interacts with conscious awareness may have different ideology. And, the tools and methods used to quicken its energy may be worlds apart in intent and function, but the premise remains the same. In the space of our dark nature lay a light that is luminescent and brilliant that may be called upon to enliven and transform our spiritual and mundane pursuits. If we take it a step further, this transformation is the direct result of collaboration and embracing the dark and the light natures of our consciousness and using each as support and spiritual catalyst of the other.

This dark nature that I am referring to also has many names, functions and philosophies attached to it. I will simply call it the Shadow (Self) . There is an inherent polarity in all things and this Shadow is that polarized image of our Light nature. I am intentionally not using words that are negative in connotation for the Shadow, because it is not anymore a negative aspect of our being than the Light filled self is. Both are states of being that are subject to all the permutations and scales of intensity and impact that any other state of being is. In reality, if we did not have the antithesis or opposite of something, how could we ever enjoy and fully embrace the thing that is being opposed? So, how can this Shadow state be used during the waxing of the Light and engaged to work co-creatively upon those parts of myself I Will to quicken and prime in alignment with the increasing state of light?

The time of the Solstices allows for a deeper awareness and exploration of what impact we have in this world and how we may use the information we learn about ourselves to move in appropriate and fulfilling ways. It is the time of disequilibrium to bring about the eventual balance that is actualized at the Equinoxes. Neither of these energies are about everything being measured and being exactly the same amount of something on each pan of the scale. Rather, they are the states of balance that are dynamic in nature, moving and flowing one to the other and arriving at an informed state of equilibrium at some point of the process. It is again about the process of polarities and the allowance of a void or lesser amount of one thing, so that it may be filled and quickened by its opposite. There is also the component of sacrifice within these thoughts in that we must willingly acknowledge that something must be given up to make room for that which would be drawn in.

This is the battle of the Holly and the Oak Kings, as each gives way to the other and also resists the relinquishing to the other of its power. One holds the promise of the growing Light and the other the refuge of the increasing Darkness. And, although they are one in the same, in order that the cycles may continue and a newly formed energy can be birthed into being, one must relinquish a parcel of its power to be subsumed into the other; temporary imbalance as brothers become enemies and in the final act, become allies in the process of transformation. The Light of the Oak King birthed from the darkening and lessening of the Holly King.

We call forth to the return of the Light-filled Oak King and celebrate the waxing of the Light half of the year. But, in order for that light to shine in its fullest way, we must also embrace and celebrate the remaining vestiges of the darkness of the Holly King. The darkness of the months that persist of winter’s cold. The darkness that becomes the expanding shadow as the sun shines increasingly longer and brighter around us. And, the darkness that we can retreat into to find those hidden sparks that yearn to be nurtured and brought to the full light of day.

As the weather remains or becomes even colder, the natural inclination is to seek out the warmth and coziness of home. And, so I retreat into the welcoming warmth of my home and settle in ready to study, meditate and reveal more of myself to myself. I embrace the early evening darkness as a cloak that I step into so I can more fully appreciate the sun’s light of day. I move within both physically, settling into home and family and spiritually as I dig deeper into the recesses of my own nature. I seek out and call to the inner spark within and stand ready to embrace also the Shadow of my nature as it rises to the surface, revealed by that light.

In meditation, I allow my breath to slow and deepen into the darkness and move along the paths of my own creation that I have tended to in the previous months in preparation for this time of going within. These paths are often mired with the thorns and treacherous roots of inertness, illusory thoughts and judgments that I have used as the trappings of who I am in the world. My Shadow has nurtured each and knows the weakness and strength of each because in this space of darkness what is revealed is often seen more clearly in its true form than in the blinding light.
When I finally relax and surrender into the wisdom of my Shadow the first striking of the match of greater light is drawn across the rough surface of my resistance, and the resistance is transformed into the tiny sparks that ignite the part of myself that is receptive and waiting.

In accord with the energy of Yule, I allow the weakening resistance of my Holly King to be replaced with a renewed sense of purpose and the strength of my Oak King. My Shadow self is resistant to being brought forward, knowing that bits of it will be released in sacrifice and other parts will be transformed so that its darker nature can work co-creatively with the strength of my light self. I call to the Oak King that he may bless and enliven both aspects of myself as we move forward into the new year in anticipation of what can be seeded at the Spring Equinox; and accepting the knowledge that his wisdom will be transformed as the Shadow begins to strengthen its work at the Summer Solstice and the rising once again of the Holly King.

At those points when the darkness seems pervasive and overwhelming and the light is barely visible I am reminded that without the necessary shade to prevent the seedling from drying and withering from an overabundance of the light’s unfiltered rays, the beauty of new growth and radiant and healthy flower will not come to fruition.

May the blessings of the growing Light and the wisdom of the Dark create the quickened space for a prosperous, enlightened and informed Yule.

***

About the Author:

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

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

 

The Inner Chamber Volume One on Amazon

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2) on Amazon

Qabalah

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths on Amazon

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia on Amazon

The Eternal Cord

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon on Amazon

Luminous Devotions

 

The Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1) on Amazon

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

 

The Elemental Year on Amazon

Aligning the Parts of SELF

 

The Enchanted Gate on Amazon

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

 

Sleeping with the Goddess on Amazon

Nights of Devotion

 

A Weekly Reflection on Amazon

Musings for the Year

 

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

 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

The Holly and the Oak King

December, 2018

The Holly and the Oak King

 

 

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

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

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

The Oak holds fast to
Growing light as Holly

Brings his shadow near.

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

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

The Holly answers with response
A dance of calculated pace.

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

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

Early morn call shall next arise.

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

For what lay sleeping within

The growing splendor of

Holly’s strong and fertile embrace

Is the promise of Light’s return

At the peak of winter’s darkened

And heavy snowy face.

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

In wooded green and glowing sun of

Lark song’s spring warmed nest.

The end of darkness nears its birth

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

***

About the Author:

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

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

 

The Inner Chamber Volume One on Amazon

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the Spheres (Volume 2) on Amazon

Qabalah

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths on Amazon

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia on Amazon

The Eternal Cord

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon on Amazon

Luminous Devotions

 

The Magickal Pen Volume One (Volume 1) on Amazon

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

 

The Elemental Year on Amazon

Aligning the Parts of SELF

 

The Enchanted Gate on Amazon

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

 

Sleeping with the Goddess on Amazon

Nights of Devotion

 

A Weekly Reflection on Amazon

Musings for the Year

 

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

 

Follow Robin on Instagram & Facebook.

Yule Correspondences

December, 2018

(Primitive Witch Hat Tree Topper, “Winter”, by Loren Morris of PrimWitchery on Etsy.)

 

Lesser Sabbat – Winter Solstice, circa Dec 21

Other Names:
Jul (“wheel”, Old Norse), Saturnalia(Rome ~December 17 & 18), Yuletide(Teutonic), Midwinter, Fionn’s Day, Alban huan, Christmas (Christian~December 25), Xmas, Festival of Sol, Solar/Secular/Pagan New Year

Animals/Mythical beings:
yule goat (nordic), reindeer stag, squirrels, yule cat, Sacred White Buffalo, Kallikantzaroi-ugly chaos monsters(greek), trolls, phoenix, yule elf, jule gnome, squirrels, wren/robin

Gemstones:
cat’s eye, ruby, diamond, garnet, bloodstone

Incense/Oils:
bayberry, cedar, ginger, cinnamon, pine, rosemary, frankincense, myrrh, nutmeg, wintergreen, saffron

Colors:
gold, silver, red, green, white

Tools,Symbols, & Decorations:
bayberry candles, evergreens, holly, mistletoe, poinsettia,mistletoe, lights, gifts, Yule log, Yule tree. spinning wheels, wreaths, bells, mother & child images

Goddesses:
Great Mother, Befana (strega), Holda (teutonic), Isis(egyptian), Triple Goddess, Mary(christian), Tonazin(mexican), Lucina(roman), St. Lucy (swedish),Bona Dea (roman), Mother Earth, Eve(Hebrew), Ops(roman Holy Mother), the Snow Queen, Hertha (German), Frey (Norse)

Gods:
Sun Child, Saturn(rome), Cronos (Greek), Horus/Ra(egyptian), Jesus(christian-gnostic), Mithras(persian), Balder(Norse), Santa Claus/Odin(teutonic), Holly King, Sol Invicta, Janus(God of Beginnings), Marduk (Babylonian)Old Man Winter

Essence:
honor, rebirth, transformation, light out of darkness, creative inspiration, the mysteries, new life, regeneration, inner renewal, reflection/introspection

Dynamics/Meaning:
death of the Holly (winter) King; reign of the Oak (summer) King), begin the ordeal of the Green Man, death & rebirth of the Sun God; night of greatest lunar imbalance; sun’s rebirth; shortest day of year

Purpose:
honor the Triple Goddess, welcome the Sun Child

Rituals/Magicks:
personal renewal, world peace, honoring family & friends, Festival of light, meditation

Customs:
lights, gift-exchanging, singing, feasting, resolutions, new fires kindled, strengthening family & friend bonds, generosity, yule log, hanging mistletoe, apple wassailing, burning candles, Yule tree decorating; kissing under mistletoe; needfire at dawn vigil; bell ringing/sleigh-bells; father yule

Foods:
nuts, apple, pear, caraway cakes soaked with cider, pork, orange, hibiscus or ginger tea, roasted turkey, nuts, fruitcake, dried fruit, cookies, eggnog, mulled wine

Herbs:
blessed thistle, evergreen, moss, oak, sage, bay, bayberry, cedar, pine, frankincense, ginger, holly, ivy, juniper, mistletoe, myrrh, pinecones, rosemary, chamomile, cinnamon, valerian, yarrow

Element:
earth

Threshold:
dawn

Bringing Up the Next Generation of Witches

November, 2018

October is quickly coming to an end, and I have never been more thankful. October brought sickness and trials. It was a difficult month to say the least.

But with October coming to a close, Samhain is fast approaching.

Samhain (or Halloween as Little Bear calls it) has always been one of my favorite holidays. Even when it was banned from my childhood home life.

The veil is thinning, the days grow darker, and the nights become almost black.

Living in the Midwest means the weather is unpredictable at the end of October. It could be sunny and hot, or rainy and wet. As a child, “Halloween” meant snow. I can remember more snowy Halloweens than not.

Little Bear and I will make the best of it regardless of the weather. He has his costume picked out. He is going as a zombie SWAT guy. He’s talked me into being a zombie also. He’s a bit obsessed with The Walking Dead right now.

This year, I let Little Bear go wild and decorate the whole house. We put up window clings, black garland, laid out fake spiders, decorated foam pumpkins, and hung up door covers.

Yesterday, we visited the local pumpkin field/corn maze. They have so many activities and it’s a must every year. They have goats, chickens, rabbits, long horn cattle, corn boxes, corn mazes, pumpkin guns, tug a war ropes, inflatables, wooden trains, etc. It is a full day.

Tonight, is pumpkin carving time. I’m sure that my excitement is at a way higher level than Little Bear’s because of the pumpkin seeds. I have dug out some recipes from Pinterest and plan on trying at least three. I have to do normal salt pumpkin seeds. But I’m going to try a sweet version with cinnamon and brown sugar. The other one I haven’t decided on because there is so many variations that can be done. However, I’m leaning towards a savory that uses sea salt and white vinegar. Not sure how it’ll turn out, but we shall see!

One of my favorite traditions for Samhain is the dinner. Eating dinner at the table is something that rarely happens in our home because of scheduling. But when Samhain rolls around, I take the day off. I plan a meal as if it were Thanksgiving and I set the table. I always set a spot for my sister who we lost back in 2015. It helps to bring her close. Little Bear gets excited and will start talking to her spot as if she never left.

Little Bear started asking questions again about “God” last week. This is a conversation that we have quite frequently as he has a hard time understanding something that he cannot see. So, I go into the explanation again. We have talked about the many different religions of the world. Although I am raising him in a Pagan home, I understand that the Pagan path may not be for him.

I found a wonderful series that touches on the spiritual side without focusing on one certain religion. It’s the The Giggles and Joy series. A three-part series that focuses on positive poems. It’s a neat series that I recommend. You can check out my review on them in this same issue!

The Sober Pagan

November, 2018

“H.A.L.T.”! Before You Continue Into The Holiday Season!

One of the discussions lately in the rooms of AA – at least here locally – is how to get through the holiday season without relapsing. As someone who has been around recovery for a while, I find my best bet is to stay home and enjoy my own company. This year, my son’s father – Mr. AA himself – is spending the Yuletide season with us, so it’ll be lots of recovery talk and talk about Buddhism and other spiritual paths. Plus lots of good food to eat! I admit, I am looking forward to this!

When people ask me my strategies for navigating holiday parties, I generally say, “Arrive late and leave early.” But of course – you can do this as a drunk, too. I used to do it all the time. I was always on my way somewhere else from some other place and I only had a minute to spare. But the way you lived as a drunk can help you out as a sober person. You just leave out the drinking part.

Lately I’ve been using the acronym “H.A.L.T.” when I discuss dealing with the holidays. Because the holidays – what I term the time between Canadian Thanksgiving (first Monday in October) to New Year’s Eve – and depending on where you live – all the way to Super Bowl Sunday – is a giant stretch of time involving endless office parties, family get-togethers, religious rituals, community celebrations and constant reminders that we are supposed to be having a great time!

H.A.L.T. Just stop. Think. What are you doing and why are you doing it?

Sometimes it’s not even about relapsing. It’s about running ourselves ragged trying to make everything perfect – to make up for all those years when we were perfect fuck-ups.

As you probably already know, “H.A.L.T.” stands for “Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired”. Whenever something is going wrong in our lives – it doesn’t even have to be a relapse – usually we are in the grip of one of those things.

I remember when I first got sober in my early thirties. Everyday, around three o’clock, I would get wicked hungry. I would have to get up from my desk and go to the break room and buy a candy bar or get a Pepsi. I started making myself an extra sandwich to get myself through the three o’clock hour. Then one day, I passed a bar with the sign “Happy Hour” in the window and it clicked. I was used to having a drink at 3:00 – I was used to drinking until the dinner hour. I wasn’t hungry – I wanted a drink. Once I understood that, my 3 p.m. munchies largely disappeared.

Anger is one of those issues where I disagree with AA in which I think that there are times that we should be angry and that anger can save our lives. That said, the thing is to use your anger wisely and of course, once you add alcohol into that equation, wisdom usually is not the outcome. Quite honestly, anything I can do sober I can fuck up beautifully when I’m drinking. So it stands to reason that if I’m angry about anything at all, taking a drink is not going to help the situation. Especially if I’m at a holiday party!

Loneliness is a killer but going out drinking seldom helps that. And if you’re with your family and feeling like you’re the outsider, having a drink probably isn’t going to help that situation. The only thing that cures loneliness is learning to love your solitude. And there’s always a meeting somewhere – AA, NA, Smart Recovery, WFS, SOS – find one and find your tribe.

The last letter is “T” and of course, that stands for “Tired”. It is so easy to give up when we are tired. So easy to take that drink that a friend is offering us at a party – so easy to justify it – just one, right? When we are tired, our brain doesn’t make good decisions. I know my brain doesn’t. I’m not sure what’s worse – being hungry or being tired. My brain doesn’t seem to be able to deal with either of them very well. So I always make sure that I am in a safe place when it’s late.

My “Happy Hour” is now spent in my own home – sipping tea and eating my home-baked cookies.

So “H.A.L.T.” – and enjoy the season!

Until next month – Brightest Blessings and Happy Holidays!

***

About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

Witch & Popcorn

November, 2018

Just in time for Halloween and the love of all thinks spooky, Netflix released a dazzling supernatural horror from Spain called Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil. Watch the trailer here at this link below:

While the film is a very good watch, beyond that, it’s based on an old folktale, which in one form or another, has been around for thousands of years. The story is told many ways, but basically, a cunning Blacksmith is screwed over by the devil upon making a pact- and the Blacksmith figures out how to stick it to the old devil, and get out of the pact.

Set in 1800’s Basque region of Spain, the tale unfolds about the mysterious Blacksmith named Patxi. The village folk speak horrors about him, telling their children stories about him as if he’s a child eating boogie man. He doesn’t do much to dispel these rumors, as he has his property barricaded off, and he attacks anybody who comes near. The townsfolk say the devil lives there.

But the story is deeper than that. He had struck a deal with the devil to get home to see his wife during the war, only to discover things were not as they left them. Heart wrenching tragedy follows, and despite the fact the devil was dishonest on his end of the bargain, he sends a demon to collect Patxi’s soul.

Hilariously, the demon is no match for the bitter blacksmith, and all hell breaks loose both on earth, and later IN hell, as the mighty blacksmith seeks revenge and justice from the devil, himself.

This is one of the best made modern takes on an ancient tale I’ve seen in quite a while. Everything about this is a feast for the senses. The grisly, grimy Blacksmith’s squalid home is a stark contrast from the splendor of hell. The morbidly shabby hutlike shacks the townsfolk live in are offset by the magnificence of the forest. The children are filthy, skinny, and bruised and bloodied. In contrast to this, the beautifully animalistic demon is a yummy shade of licorice red, and covered in glitter! Crippling age is offset with youthful innocence. The use of severe extremes and striking contrasts provide extra shock, and communicate the level of misery the characters in the film are crushed under.

Beyond all of this, the film communicates the ignorance of uneducated society, and how bored small-minded people demonize the innocent. The old Pagan superstitions and Christian extremism combine with this ignorance to create a town of people easily controlled by the denizens of hell, and the voice of the so-called saving god is unheard.

A lesson is taught in this film through the fatal mistakes of Patxi. He was judged as a horrible human being, but he was actually a beautiful soul whose momentary lapse in judgement lead to the one event that he never forgave himself for. The village folk took this a step further and branded him untouchable for life. In the end, he is the only person from his town who has the strength to protect life.

Another lesson is one that Pagans speak of quite often. We reject the concept of beings that are all good or all evil. The demon sent to collect Patxi’s soul winds up defying hell and helping to save the day. Many of my Pagan kin say one man’s angel is another’s demon, and even demons can do things that help people.

I won’t add any more spoilers. Watch it for yourself. You don’t want to miss this wonderful film.

Happy viewing!

***

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.

ÁLFABLÓT (The Sacrifice to the Elves)

November, 2018

Brief description

International teacher of sacred art and Northern European Tradition shamanism Imelda Almqvist describes the small Álfablót (Sacrifice to the Elves) Ceremony she performed on her land in Sweden on October 31st in 2018. This is the indigenous Scandinavian version of (or closest thing to) Samhain/Halloween.

 

ÁLFABLÓT (THE SACRIFICE TO THE ELVES)

One day even our children (and their children) will be ancestors…

Today Halloween is celebrated in many English-speaking countries. It originated with the Celtic festival of Samhain.

I was in a large supermarket, here in Sweden, yesterday and the first thing I saw upon entering the shop, was an abundance of shelves stacked with Halloween decorations and sweets. That is a relatively new development!  Halloween is not indigenous to Sweden and the phenomenon only arrived in the 1990s. For good for bad, we live in a global village…

In the car on the way home there was a story on Swedish radio titled “Bus eller frukt” (meaning “trick-or-fruit”) Apparently some children had gone trick-or-treating over the weekend (a bit early by British standards!) and received mandarins for their efforts – they were not at all pleased and they had responded with trickery!

As a mother of three I understand that children yearn for scary costumes and collecting candy but, actually, Scandinavia has a perfect valid tradition of its own, for this period. It is shame that this has (largely) dropped into collective oblivion – though Heathen people have always kept the tradition alive and many Pagan people have rediscovered it today).

My students of Norse Shamanism often ask: “Did the Old Norse people have a festival or ritual comparable to the Day of the Dead, at this time of year?” The answer is yes, the Álfablót, The name literally means “The Sacrifice (or offerings) to the Elves”. This requires a bit of explanation.

The Elves (or Alfar) in the Northern European Tradition are not “fairies” but the souls of male dead ancestors who live on as nature spirits. They often live in burial mounds, though we also find them under big rocks, in caves or in the mountains. We can still communicate with them and making offerings is a respectful way of doing so.

By making offerings we acknowledge that they too once walked the land and that they have now become part of the spiritual Weave of the land. They do not (necessarily or automatically) fit a term often heard in core shamanism: “helping spirits”, though they can choose to be helpful. By honouring them we ensure that they are “on our side” and that we have their cooperation and protection during the harsh winter months (remember that Scandinavian winters are harsh and severe).

In the Old Norse way of thinking every gift (gåva) required a return gift (gengåva). There is nothing cynical about this, it follows the spiritual law of keeping all exchanges balanced. (Today we often speak of the principle of fair energy exchange).

In the past on farms animals would have been sacrificed and their blood poured out as a sacred offering (the word blót is the old Old Norse word for blood) but today many practitioners feel that alternative offerings are acceptable (seasonal foods, drink, the favourite food or drink of ancestors we used to know in real life, or other – as guided by the gods and spirits).

Let me also explain that the Alfar are the male ancestors. The female ancestors (Disir) have their own special day in the Yule period (Modranatt or Ancestral Mothers’ Night) as well as a Disablott (Offering ritual to the female ancestors) in the Spring.

The fertility god Freyr (twin brother of the goddess Freyja) is known as the Lord of the Elves and his otherworld domain is called Alfheimr (the Realm of the Elves)

When we bought our house in Sweden I promised the landvaettir (spirits of the land) and the “tomte of our tomt ” (the spirit of our property, not to be confused with Father Christmas – who also goes by the name of Tomte in Sweden!) that I would observe the ancient festivals and traditions as faithfully as my own understanding allows.

Over the summer I was guided to build a small cairn on our property. I carved a Bone Woman from antler bone and dedicated the cairn to her. (This was inspired by the Icelandic phenomenon of the Beinakerling

https://guidetoiceland.is/connect-with-locals/regina/laufskalavarda-add-a-stone-for-good-luck-before-entering-the-skeidararsandur-glacial-outwash

Today I waited for nightfall (which came at 4 p.m.) and made a small pilgrimage to this cairn. I brought my Rune Drum, a candle and offerings of ale and meat (the traditional offerings for an Alfablót).

I drummed and called in the Deep Ancestors (whose names we do not remember), the Ancestors of Place, the Landvaettir, the animals ancestors of all local animal species and the ancestors that live on in local memory and stories.

As a teacher (and lifelong student) of Norse Cosmology I also called in the great skalds and the writers of the Eddic poetry (including Snorri Sturlason, who gave us the Prose Edda!)

I drummed and chanted. I poured ale over the cairn and offered the food.

Odinn’s name literally means “The Spirit” (Odr + the definite article “inn”) and he is associated with the wind, sacred breath and The Wild Hunt.

The most powerful thing about my small blót was that every time I called in a round of ancestors – the wind responded by making a howling noise and curling around me.

I felt that my Álfablót was well-received!

Imelda Almqvist, Kärrshagen, Sweden 31 October 2018

***

About the Author:

Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of shamanism and sacred art. Her book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon in 2016 and her second book Sacred art: A Hollow Bone for Spirit (Where art Meets Shamanism) will be published in March 2019.  She was a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit in both 2016 and 2017 and is a presenter on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True. She divides her time between the UK, Sweden and the US. She is currently in the editing stages of her third book “Medicine of the Imagination” and has started her fourth book “Evolving Gods: The Sacred Marriage of Tradition and Innovation”

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk  (website)

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/  (blog)

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=imelda+almqvist (YouTube Channel with art videos and Rune Drum videos)

Natural Born Shamans – A Spiritual Toolkit for Life: Using Shamanism Creatively with Young People of All Ages on Amazon

 

 

Notes from the Apothecary

October, 2018

Notes from the Apothecary: Mandrake

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

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

The Kitchen Garden


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

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

The Apothecary

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

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

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

The Witch’s Kitchen

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

Dioscorides believed the root could be used in love potions.

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

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

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

Home and Hearth

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

I Never Knew…

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

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

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About the Author:

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

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

 

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways

Samhain Correspondences

October, 2018

Other Names:
celtic ~ Summer’s End, pronounced “sow” (rhymes with now) “en” (Ireland), sow-een (Wales) – “mh” in the middle is a “w” sound – Greater Sabbat(High Holiday) – Fire Festival Oct 31-Nov 1(North Hemisphere) – Apr 30-May 1 – The Great Sabbat, Samhiunn, Samana, Samhuin, Sam-fuin, Samonios, Halloween, Hallomas, All Hallows Eve, All Saints/All Souls Day(Catholic), Day of the Dead (Mexican), Witches New Year, Trinoux Samonia, Celtic/ Druid New Year, Shadowfest (Strega), Martinmas or Old Hallowmas (Scotttish/Celtic) Lá Samhna (Modern Irish), Festival of the Dead, Feile Moingfinne (Snow Goddess), Hallowtide (Scottish Gaelis Dictionary), Feast of All Souls, Nos Galen-gae-of Night of the Winter Calends (Welsh), La Houney or Hollantide Day, Sauin or Souney ( Manx), oidhche na h-aimiléise-the night of mischief or confusion(Ireland), Oidhche Shamna (Scotland)

Rituals:
End of summer, honoring of the dead,scrying, divination, last harvest, meat harvest

Incense:
Copal, sandalwood, mastic resin, benzoin, sweetgrass, wormwood, mugwort, sage, myrrh or patchouli

Tools:
Besom, cauldron, tarot, obsidian ball, pendulum, runes, oghams, Ouija boards, black cauldron or bowl filled with black ink or water, or magick mirror

Stones/Gems:
Black obsidian, jasper, carnelian, onyx, smoky quartz, jet, bloodstone

Colors:
Black, orange, red

Symbols & Decorations:
Apples, autumn flowers, acorns, bat, black cat, bones, corn stalks, colored leaves, crows, death/dying, divination and the tools associated with it, ghosts, gourds, Indian corn, jack-o-lantern, nuts , oak leaves, pomegranates, pumpkins, scarecrows, scythes, waning moon

Foods:
Apples, apple dishes, cider, meat (traditionally this is the meat harvest) especially pork, mulled cider with spices, nuts-representing resurrection and rebirth, nuts, pomegranates, potatoes, pumpkins, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, roasted pumpkin seeds, roasted pumpkin seeds, squash.

Goddesses:
The Crone, Hecate(Greek), Cerridwen(Welsh-Scottish), Arianrhod(Welsh), Caillech (Irish-Scottish), Baba Yaga (Russian), Al-Ilat(persian), Bast (Egyptian), Persephone (Greek), Hel(Norse), Kali(Hindu), all Death & Otherworld Goddesses

Gods:
Horned Hunter(European), Cernnunos(Greco-Celtic), Osiris(Egyptian), Hades (Greek), Gwynn ap Nudd (British), Anubis(Egyptian), Coyote Brother (Native American), Loki (Norse), Dis (Roman), Arawn (Welsh), acrificial/Dying/Aging
Gods, Death and Otherworld Gods

Herbs and Flowers:
Almond, apple leaf , autumn joy sedum, bay leaf, calendula, Cinnamon, Cloves cosmos, garlic, ginger , hazelnut, hemlock cones, mandrake root, marigold, mums, mugwort (to aid in divination), mullein seeds, nettle, passionflower, pine needles, pumpkin seeds, rosemary (for remembrance of our ancestors), rue, sage, sunflower petals and seeds, tarragon, wild ginseng, wormwood

Animals:
Stag, cat, bat, owl, jackal, elephant, ram, scorpion, heron, crow, robin

Mythical Beings:
Pooka, goblin,medusa, beansidhe, harpies

Essence:
Magick, plenty; knowledge, the night, death & rebirth, success, protection; rest, new beginning; ancestors; lifting of the veil, mundane laws in abeyance, return, change

Dynamics/Meaning:
Death & transformation, Wiccan new year,wisdom of the Crone, end of summer, honoring, thinning of the veil between worlds, death of the year, time outside of time, night of the Wild Hunt, begin new projects, end old projects

Work:
Sex magick, release of bad habits, banishing, fairy magick, divination of any kind, candle magick, astral projection, past life work, dark moon mysteries, mirror spells (reflection), casting protection , inner work, propitiation, clearing obstacles, uncrossing, inspiration, workings of transition or culmination, manifesting transformation,creative visualization, contacting those who have departed this plane

Purpose:
Honoring the dead, especially departed ancestors, knowing we will not be forgotten; clear knowledge of our path; guidance, protection, celebrating reincarnation

Rituals/Magicks:
Foreseeing future, honoring/consulting ancestors, releasing the old, power, understanding death and rebirth, entering the underworld, divination, dance of the dead, fire calling, past life recall

Customs:
Ancestor altar, costumes, divination, carving jack-o-lanterns, spirit plate, the Feast of the Dead, feasting, paying debts, fairs, drying winter herbs, masks, bonfires, apple games, tricks, washing clothes

Element:
Water

Gender:
Male

Threshold:
Midnight

Celebrating Samhain with Norma Clark of Forevrgoddess Boutique

October, 2018

 

Family/Ancestor Memorial

 

Celebrating the Life and Death of deceased love ones with a new tradition.
The Moment your Love one has their Final breath you will miss them, then grief will set in its common to have 7 stages of grieving. Some deaths are quick and sudden, other’s, a long slow process. Death has been with us since the beginning of time. We’re born, we grow, maybe have a family of our own, then reach old age. We pass on to the next journey in life.  

The spirits of other worlds can come and go anytime with enough energy. Others wait till the veil between both worlds are thin then they can burst through. Around Mabon/Autumn equinox & Samhain/All Hallow’s Eve. There are other times spirits can move freely during the year like Beltane and Midsummer eve.

I grew up a weird combination of Irish/Scottish and Salvadoran. My father was white Irish/Scottish and mother was from El Salvador.  Growing up my dad was older he was a quiet man, didn’t speak much. But he was always into the paranormal. My mother was open with Spanish Catholic traditions. She was gifted. She told me of spirits appearing in her life and how they affect things and those around. My father adopted her 6 children from there and brought them to the USA. Life in El Salvador, deep down there, was beautiful jungle and countryside, coffee, plantains and other types of farm land. Where she was from you could see more primal life force spirit still worshiped with New Christian Gods. The Native Indians of her lands had traditions handed down.


This opened a door for many of my mother family and relatives to come here to the USA. For a new way of life to support those down in El Salvador or those here. I know my parents home was a portal, so many have come and gone they felt safe and loved mostly. Here I can’t count the times my mother would get anxious feelings and would call late to El Salvador. We would find out a relative was very sick or passed away. My mom would send money, light a candle, pray to certain saints and the virgin de Guadalupe for support. She used herbs for relatives in need here within our home to help heal them. There were many stories of my mom helping others.

Other times in my parents home spirit might make it self known banging on window, cold breezes moving things, or they would just appear sitting on the couch in the living room. When a relative passed away, she would use the bedroom or kitchen corner by the sink and light 7 day candle, put a photo, glass of water and maybe sometimes she would put some sweet bread.  She said the spirit will need a place to come replenish their energy, to feed from so they could continue their journey to pass messages, or visit living relatives.

For me being Wiccan, being Celtic, I remembered reading about dumbsuppers, to open your door to spirits and ancestors of your family. Share your meal with them. My mother did similar traditions from her home. They would celebrate Dia de Finados, dearly departed. They would make flower arrangements or wreaths to go in the cemetery (tombs above ground). They cleaned tombs, decorated them with flowers and spent the day there. Growing up after my dad died in 1992 we would go to the cemetery and put flowers on my dad’s grave, some on grandparents graves and we’d bring big colorful blankets, food and since we could park 12 feet away, we’d have music playing. Then say prayers for them to bless them. Then talk about the moments we shared with the deceased. Which we continue to do now that my mom has passed on.

With Samhain approaching I wanted to share my story and maybe some ideas to consider. When working with spirits of loved ones, you want them to find their place of rest be it heaven, Summerland, over rainbow bridge, or an other eternal resting place. Look to other articles and books about other resting places. I’ll mentioned a few later to consider. Combine, adapt, create your own unique way to honor departed loved ones or ancestors. Share photos, meals, memories they loved. Write them down in your journal everything you can remember. Don’t be surprised if a spirit makes itself known in your presence.

Do a divination with tarot cards, pendulum, or my favorite crystal scrying to gain wisdom or guidance at this moment in life or the beginning of the new year.

I find a cheap battery candle from the dollar store to light on the altar with the photos of love ones who passed on. I use the battery activated candles to be safe in case my active toddler tries to climb up on my altar or one of my cats get too curious.


Decorate your altar with mementos, flowers, incense, favorite gemstones, even some sweet treat to enjoy, and maybe a glass of their favorite drink. Ask your Patron Goddess or God to bless them in time of rest.

After Samhain if you still sense the presence of departed loved ones, here is a Goddess that lent me help move them to their more appropriate  place: I asked Hekate to help me move my older, playful, black Dog Cholee to her resting  place. She would not leave. She’d been lingering  around our home and back yard for over a week. When working with any Goddess or God Be Respectful,  Give an Offering for their help.

 

Finally I wanted to share a few boxes from my boutique, these boxes are a Memorial for your Dearly Departed Love Ones and Pet/Familiar. We provide Spirit Votives, 4 Gemstones for Crystal Healing – Grieving, and 1 twin soul crystal point, and ideas to celebrate their life in remembrance. We will be adding more items for  Samhain Inspired Memorial Gifts. Blessings of love and light – Norma

Psycho Pomps – Those whom guide the dead to the afterlife:


Valkyries – Norse

Banshees

Hounds of Annwn – Celtic

Hekate

Persephone

Hades

Hermes

Iris

Charon

Charos – Greek

Agwe

Sirene

the Barons -Voodu

For information on celebrating Samhain with the dearly departed and other customs look to the following books:


The pagan book of Halloween -Gerina Dunwich
Halloween -Silver Ravenwolf
Llewellyn Sabbats Alamanc -(Any Year will do)

For More spirit ,Goddess, Gods to help with the deceased, a good book is:

Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses -Judika Illes

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About the Author:


Norma Clark I’m Wiccan, My style follows my spiritual path, and what comes to mind.. I live in a small rural town, Paris, Idaho. I share my life With my
Wiccan husband, 2 hyper Children, and gang of critters. I love to create new designs by looking at nature, cultural ideas for my Jewelry and create unique Metaphysical items. COME Sit For A  Spell or Two , And See the Magick of Forevrgoddessboutique

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