sabbat

Celebrating The Old Ways in New Times Review & Interview with Gabiann Marin

March, 2019

March 2019 for Celebrating The Old Ways in New Times

March 2019 for Celebrating The Old Ways in New Times

Bright Blessings!

I cannot tell you how excited I am that it is almost the Spring Equinox! To prepare, I assembled a precut garden box today, and have been diligently bagging up the dead leaves from last fall I spread over the garden beds I already have. I never buy mulch that way! Once the thaw starts, I dig out the leaves, and just throw them away.

While I joyously begin celebrating Spring at Imbolc, the fact I can see the green fingers of garden bulbs pushing up out of the earth reminds me the growing season is set to begin very soon. I am buying seeds left and right, and soon, we will start stockpiling the pea gravel and soil for the new garden bed!

The undesirable parts of things like cleanup, spending money on supplies, and lifting and carrying heavy things must be performed to benefit from the beauty of the victory garden we covet. I, for one, hate the sight of worms, and have ever since I was a child. I, however know that without those blind wrigglers, my garden will not grow, and if I don’t see them, I know something is very wrong.

Like the garden, our lives are made up of all sorts of things. Things we like, and things we dislike. More than that, we also like and dislike things about specifically our own selves.

Turn on the television, and you can almost always find a makeover show, or some type of advertisement for a service or product that will completely transform you, supposedly getting rid of some aspect of yourself you loathe. Our culture supports that self-loathing, as they use it as excuse to earn money from us.

Now, I am not saying we ought to forego improving ourselves. What I am saying is that all of us have something we CANNOT change about ourselves that we imagine to be some monstrosity. Some hate the shape of their feet, the sound of their voice, the fact their hair is naturally curly or straight. Some hate having an adams apple, and some think their neck is too long or short. Some want to get rid of freckles, or bleach their skin which they imagine is too dark. Almost all of us have demonized some aspect of ourselves we simply cannot help.

But we are not monstrosities in any way. We simply misunderstand these parts of ourselves, and radical self-acceptance is the only solution. What better time for that than the Spring Equinox, which is often used to get rid of the old and bring in the new? Instead of throwing out some part of ourselves, why not change our way of thinking instead?

This Month’s Review

To fit with this theme. I lucked into an interview with Gabiann Marin, author of the awesome book, Monsters and Creatures. I found the book to be well written, well researched, and an easy read. Of course, she could not include ALL monsters and creatures from all of time in the book, but she packed in quite a lot into the neat 196 pages.

From the Basilisk to Zombies, Marin draws readers into the fascinating world of creatures, and provides more than just lore. She includes historical anecdotes, and education about real phenomenon.

I highly recommend the book, and it can be had through this link.

Not only was I fortunate enough to review this good book, but I got to interview the amazing Gabiann Marin!

Read on!

The Interview

Saoirse – First, let me say, I was impressed with your book Monsters and Creatures. I never know what to expect from a reference book on creatures- and I was thrilled because I found your book very well researched.

You packed so very much good information into it. How long did it take you to gather all of that in formation, and what was the process for research you used? What background in research do you have, and what is your philosophy about educating your readers as an author? 

Gabiann – Thank you.  The research part was quite interesting.  I have grown up with many of the creatures in the book in so far as I have loved and read mythology and fantasy and history since I was a small child.  In fact the very first book I bought for myself (at the age of seven)  was The natural history of the vampire by Anthony Masters and I still have that book. So I guess it took a lifetime to gather all the information. 

The greater challenge was how to get all the information I wanted to talk about into such a small book.  I didn’t want it to just be a dictionary of fantastic beasts.  I’m a writer and the power of all these creatures are in their stories and I wanted to be able to share that… Give a context of these creatures in history and psychology and society.  

I have been a professional writer for a long time as well as an academic, so I read widely and have a pretty varied interest and abundant curiosity in just about everything – so I find researching information pretty easy. 

The process for this book was really to decide what monsters and creatures I wanted to include.  The publisher was pretty adamant the popular ones were included… Which I agreed with… But I was also intent on introducing readers to more unusual and lesser known creatures and tell their stories too. 

Saoirse – What made you decide to write about this topic, specifically? This appears more like a long-term interest in these beings turned into a good book to share what you have learned with others. Am I right? 

Gabiann – Yes.  I love animals and the natural world and am fascinated in how we, as humans, connect to and understand nature.  I have always believed the stories of monsters and creatures are some of the most potent and informative ways that we express our love and fear of the world around us. 

Saoirse – As I am Pagan, I know a lot of people who embrace belief in human connection with supernatural beings. One friend said these “creatures” may be nothing more than manifestation of spirit people perceive so well, they mistake them for flesh! While we know about logical explanations like- manatees can be mistaken for mermaids, etc- what is your take on the theory my friend presented? 

Gabiann – I have a rather unique perspective on people’s belief systems and how they engage with the mystical, the natural and the supernatural… And that is that however someone perceives these creatures – as real or imagined, as pyschological manifestations or as historical creatures… They are probably right. 

We manifest our understanding of the world and ourselves through the stories we tell and that shapes how we treat each other and the world around us.  Spirit reaches us through story, symbol and myth.  

If your friend perceives spirit as a unicorn or a dragon.. Then that is how spirit presents itself to her.  She is using these stories exactly how they were meant to be used – for her to step beyond the human condition and understand the world beyond herself. 

Saoirse – I want to know all about you! Tell me about your writing in general, and beyond that, YOU in general? What made you decide to write? What else are you good at? What projects are you working on, and what else is in the workings? 

Gabiann – That’s a big topic… Where do I start? 

I suppose I have always been a writer, I wrote my first short story at the age of eight and won my first literary prize when I was fourteen.  I became a professional writer when I started University.  I was originally going to be a vet but ended up at the last minute studying writing instead. My mum was surprisingly OK with this!  

I started my professional writing life writing film and theatre reviews and then actual plays.  I worked as a corporate copywriter for a few years but realised it was a bit soul destroying so shifted over and became a writer for charities and causes I believed in… Like Amnesty International, The Wilderness Society and Greenpeace.  

I also wrote for Australian television for a few years but it was a hard road back then with very little Australian content being made. So in 2000 I began writing children’s books.  In 2003 I wrote a book for young readers about a child in Australian Immigration detention called A True Person, which won a few international awards but most importantly was the first book in Australia to tackle that issue.

I still write social justice material in fiction form but moved into editing and writing non fiction after leaving an academic job in 2016.

Currently I am dividing my time between teaching writing and film at University, while editing and writing non-fiction, original and adapted film scripts and completing a fantasy fiction book about Medusa.

Saoirse – Tell me about your personal spiritual path, and if it influenced your work on this topic.

Gabiann – I am Wicca and have been since I was quite young, however I am more a pagan in the classic sense, in that I believe there is a natural force which guides the world and creates and determines life. I believe we need to understand and respect this force… Which currently as a global entity we are not doing.

All of my work has, in some way, reflected my belief that people are part of – not in conflict with – the natural world.  And the natural world is actually supernatural, in that it contains spirit as well as material things.  This is hardly controversial, as literally everyone in the known history of humankind has believed a version of this – yet for some reason mankind have been intent on focusing on the differences in this belief and killing each other over how we individually choose to understand and express that spiritual essence .  To me spirit is nature herself… Everything in it is amazing.  It contains things which we are only just beginning to understand. 

I don’t follow any organized religion because I believe that most of them limit us into hatred and division with both ourselves and the other beings we share this planet with.  But I have a huge respect for most religious people who are just trying to find ways to connect with the bigger sense of power around them.  I believe that when we are in contact with the natural world… Go beyond the realms of mankind’s selfishness, greed and violence, we can connect to that spirit. But honestly I do not think we as humans are the most important things on this planet.  Not the single or indeed the main focus of any spiritual force which may exist.  The trees and the rocks and the mountains have watched us rise and they will watch us fall.  Creatures we can barely imagine have roamed this earth thousands of years before we were even conceived of.. And other creatures will no doubt walk across our fossilized bones.  And that is a good thing.  Nature is immortal. So the smallness and pettiness of humanity and our need to find meaning and place has always underpinned my work.  As well as a commitment to kindness, justice and understanding … Towards each other and all beings. 

Saoirse – Have you had any personal encounters with creatures or spirits you would like to share?

Gabiann – I think there is magic in the world, and spirit… particularly animal spirits, can help you find your way to that magic.

When I was in my twenties I had a very hard time. As I believe most young women in their twenties do in a world that is constantly telling us that as females we are simply not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough. Then one night I had this amazing dream of two tigers who embraced me when I thought they were going to rip me apart. 

I woke up realizing that I was worthy and strong and loved.  I still believe today they were manifestations of spirit telling me to stop worrying about all the silliness around me and understand that my purpose… the purpose for all of us,  was simply to be a good person. Once I realized that, life became much clearer for me and I was able to follow a path that wasn’t so concerned about whether I fitted in with the very narrow ideology of being a compliant, acceptable, quiet woman. Which I certainly am not!  And rather tell stories and be part of the world in a way that expanded, not limited my and other creatures existence.

I am still very spiritual and have engaged with spirit in many ways since then.  But I remember that dream so clearly even now.  It’s why I became a pagan and a feminist. 

Monsters and Creatures, as well as its companion book – Gods and Goddesses, was written as an introduction into the history of humankind’s need to use story and myth to understand the world.  They are small books but I hope they pack a punch and give people a bit of an insight into what unites us – which is story… and what defines us – which is how we understand the world around us.  

They are both written to be fun, informative and easy to read and I really hope people engage with them.  Our continuing fascination with supernatural creatures is one of the many things that unite us as people.  And sharing these stories is the best way to create connections between us across time and cultures.  

I am happy to engage with readers but have a limited social media profile as I find the online world to be somewhat mean-spirited and focused on conflict.  I have a facebook authors page and an Amazon Author’s page through which I am happy to engage with those wanting more information about me. 

If you are interested in getting a copy of any of my books they are widely available through Amazon as well as most good book stores.  

Saoirse – What is your FAVORITE Monster/Creature you included in your book, and why? Any encounters, dreams, or visions of/with it/them?

Gabiann – This is a bit like asking me to choose a favourite child! 

All of them are my favourite in different ways. I love the more unusual ones like the Japanese Yokai because they are just so quirky and, although they can be a bit nasty, they are essentially just really cool, interesting little creatures who don’t bother anyone and just hang about doing their own thing. 

Researching the book I found the bird-like creatures the most fascinating as they were probably the ones I knew the least about. Again they are usually positive, kind creatures who help rather than harm us. 

But I guess if I had to pick a favourite it would have to be Medusa. She resonates about the power of women and her story is one of injustice. She was never a monster, just someone who was trying to live her life. She only harmed those who attacked her and she was a victim of one of the most heinous and cowardly acts in all of mythology. It is impossible, I think, to see the story of Medusa as anything but a parable about male violence against women and the hatred of the established patriarchy of strong independent females. For that reason she probably resonates the strongest. 

I am actually writing a fiction book about her – its a crime caper comedy believe it or not!  

For more information on Gabiann Marin Visit:

Gabiann’s Linkedin Profile
Her Author Page on Facebook you can follow.
Her Amazon Author Page.

The Sabbat

The Sabbat this month is Spring Equinox, known by many Pagans as Ostara. Many take Bede and the Grimm’s word for it that Ostara was a Germanic goddess who had a hare as companion and eggs were auspicious to her.

Unfortunately, no evidence that this was a goddess exists in imagery or writings prior to Bede.

But since writings can be lost, and many passed traditions on orally, there is a chance this is true. It may also be true that Xtianity absorbed the Pagan rites to Ostara in their Easter practices.

One thing that is NOT true is the ridiculous meme claiming Ishtar was the goddess Ostara because the name is similar to Easter. Ishtar was never venerated in the British Isles, and ancient British pagans had no knowledge of her whatsoever. Xtians converting British Pagans did not adapt Middle Eastern Pagan practice either.

If Ostara was a goddess, she was, as Grimm, and Bede say, Germanic.

Both Ostara and Easter are celebrated with the new life of the Earth, and new spiritual life for worshippers in mind.

But while Xtians think of it as their god rising from the grave, and Pagans think of it in earth based terms, another way to look at it is rebirth of way of thinking.

New Life

Earlier in the article, I spoke of the things we loathe about ourselves that are things we cannot control.

Examples I shared were of physical things we might not like, but have no ability to change. Other examples include things such as the presence of depression that is being treated as well as possible, but is a lifelong condition, memory problems after stroke, inability to digest a favorite food anymore, inability due to medical reasons to have kids, or even being divorced when you did not choose to be.

My challenge this time is to think of that thing which you cannot change- and forgive yourself for it.

Believe me, I do not say this lightly, as I have things I am upset with myself for. I say things like “I am sorry for the way I am” and “I wish you did not have to deal with the fact I have X problem.”

This is perhaps the least productive thing we do as human beings. In essence, we punish ourselves for something we have no control over.

We make ourselves out to be guilty, when in fact, if we could change whatever it is we hate about ourselves, we absolutely would.

So, the self-loathing stops. Now.

It’s going to take a conscious effort to undo your counter productive way of thinking about yourself, and replacing that with forgiveness, and amping up the self-love, and it’s one a one time, “fling a spell and forget it” thing. It will take a different amount of time for each person, and you may have to tweak the working to suit yourself.

I want you to know that you are a perfect reflection of the creator, and what WE think of as flaws are sometimes just things our culture spits at. We have to train our minds to resist this cultural poisoning, which is basically abuse, and VERY toxic. We have to sometimes be the goddess or the father god for ourselves, and know better than the crap we are told.

This working entails giving a gift to yourself. You are worth it! This is done in parts. How far apart you space the parts is up to you.

The Working

To start, get a plain white candle and a small receptacle to burn paper in.

Get paper, and writing materials.

Part 1– You are going to sit down and write a letter to yourself.

You are going to make it as long as you like. Go into great detail about the thing you loathe about yourself and go ahead and cry out how much you wish you could change things. It is okay to type and print out the letter if you’d prefer not to hand write it. Include in the letter why you understand you can’t change this. Say all you want to about it and how you feel about it. Just get it all out. You don’t even have to have one sitting be the whole letter. It can be as long or as short of a letter as you want. It can even be just a paragraph or less long.

Part 2– Then you are going to write your goal for changing thinking. You are going to have to really think about what thinking you need to discard, but also what thinking you need to replace it with. Then, you need to decide what action after the change of thinking you are going to take. Be as detailed or as vague as asking your goddess or god for guidance.

Part 3– Have your initial letter, and then your other papers which list your goals and planned changes, have your receptacle to burn in , and light the candle. You can do this at your altar if you want to, but you can even do this outdoors, or over the kitchen sink, or stove if you prefer. Do this at the place where you are most comfortable burning papers.

Read your letter aloud to yourself. Let it all sink in, and as you are reading, feel how crucial it is you let this self-loathing go. Then read the second papers, and truly tell yourself that you are going to lay aside the old way of thinking, and start the new way of thinking.

When you have read it all, take one more sheet of paper, and write out a very short summary of everything on the papers.

Burn the papers, keeping the summary.

As the papers burn say, “Out with the old, in with the new, I am the goddess/god, and I am whole and perfect. So Mote It Be.”

Once the papers have burned, release the ashes to the wind, and let your candle burn all the way down. Clean your area up, and place your summary somewhere you can look at it to remind yourself of all the things you wrote. Because, remember, this is a long-term change, not something you are going to release and forget. We have to make conscious efforts to transform, most especially our way of thinking. There is no “putting it out there to the Universe to manifest”. We are going to do this ourselves, for a permanent change.

Part 4- Gift yourself something representing the change you are making. If you hate your feet, get regular pedicures or start wearing shoes you really love but thought you could not wear on “those” feet. If you are upset you did not reach a goal, and the opportunity is gone, celebrate a goal you DID make. If you are upset you have a chronic condition that is never going to go away, pamper yourself somehow and reassure yourself you are not to blame.

Blessed Spring, and New Beginnings!

Blessed Be!

Monsters and Creatures: Discover Beasts from Lore and Legends (The Supernatural Series) on Amazon

***

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.

3 Pagans and a Cat Monthly Feature

February, 2019

3 Pagans and a Cat Podcast3 Pagans and a Cat Podcast

Three Paths, One Journey, No Cat

In this highly informative & entertaining podcast, three family members embroiled in wildly divergent traditions gather in one room to discuss, debate, and flat-out argue about their magical, mythical, and mundane lives, all for our education and pleasure.

***

Each Month… we will share the previous month’s episodes with you from their site to help keep you up-to-date with their impressive podcast. While there, don’t forget to listen to this month’s as well, we wouldn’t want you to miss a thing!

January 2019 Podcasts

Episode 28: Fire Festival – Imbolc: You thought Car, Gwyn, and Ode had said all they had to say on the subject of holidays, but lo: they’re back for another year of talking at each other about the deeper significance of fire festivals and cross quarters, starting with Imbolc. Are there things yet to learn about Brigid, lambing season, and the start of spring? …well, listen and find out, what do I look like, a prophet?

Episode 29: Liminal 2 – Electrical Boogaloo: Car, Gwyn, and Ode are back for another round of discussion and strong opinions about the role of gender and sexuality in paganism, including a discussion of queer deities, fertility outside heteronormativity, and the deliberateness of inclusion.

This Month’s Podcast Share from their Backlog

Episode 8: Building Your Book – Dedication: Car, Gwyn, and Ode continue the Building Your Book series by talking about dedicating your book (and yourself), cleansing (or not cleansing) your book, and magical methods for protecting your book from prying eyes.

Where Else to Find 3 Pagans and a Cat…

Their Website: http://www.3pagansandacat.com

Their Twitter: https://twitter.com/3_Pagans

Their Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/3PaaC

Their YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ0GJacu9SUzuumXJNNUZwQ

Their G+: https://plus.google.com/u/2/collection/oCWVXE

Remember …

You can always support your favorite podcasts with a donation. Every bit helps to keep them going.

***

About the Author:

Jennifer Wright is a witch on a path of change that is always winding. She founded PaganPagesOrg in the hopes of giving those a platform to share and learn without judgment. There are too many important things to her and not enough room to mention them. You are one of them.

Mindful Meditations

February, 2019

Guided Meditation

This month we have an Imbolc meditation that is meant to help you connect with yourself around the three areas Brigid governs: Hearth, Forge and Inspiration. So light a candle in Brigid’s honor and let’s dive in!

Find yourself in a comfortable position. Take a deep breath and as you exhale, close your eyes and begin to relax into yourself. See yourself walking down a path in a winter forest. Notice the quiet beauty all around you. As you wander through the woods, think about how this winter has been for you so far. Do you have the winter blues or do you love the peaceful quiet of the season? Have you felt isolated or have you been engaging with others? Have you been taking the time to rest? Arrive back in this moment, accepting yourself as you are right now. Notice there is a cozy home up ahead on the path. This is your sanctuary. As you approach the entrance, you notice there is a Brigid Cross hanging on the door, a symbol of safety, denoting this space is blessed by the Goddess Brigid. You enter the space, giving her reverence and thanks.

Brigid is the triple Goddess of Forge, Hearth, and Inspiration. The first thing you notice is the large inviting fireplace in the center of everything. The hearth is the center of your home life, it creates warmth and safety and provides the space to create nourishment. How is the fire burning in your hearth? Gaze into the fire and ask Brigid what can be done to increase the strength of your personal hearth fire. (Pause) Thank her for any insight you gained. Perk up the fire with another log and ask Brigid to bless your hearth and home this coming year. She is also the Goddess of the forge, which is what you create, the things you bring forth into the world. As you look around the cabin, you notice a work station. It is perfectly suited to help you do your craft. What do you see? What is it that you bring into creation? You see a candle on the station, so you take a stick from the hearth to light it. As you light the candle, ask Brigid to bless all you create. Take a moment of quiet with this flame to ask Brigid how you can be of service through your creation. (Pause) Thank her for any new insight.

You see a comfortable chair nearby, and you go to sit in it. The last aspect Brigid rules is the Inspired Heart. You close your eyes and cover your heart with your hands. What song does your heart long to sing? What truth wants to pour from you? See Brigid before you in your minds eye, holding a flame in her hand. Ask her to help you see your heart’s inspiration. (Pause) Brigid approaches you and offers forth her flame to your heart. Let her rekindle the flame within you. Feel the warmth glowing from your heart and spreading though your entire being. Feel the inspiration rising and thank her for her gift. She smiles and gives you a blessing that your heart may stay inspired, blazing and open.

Take a deep breath and feel yourself back in this moment. Feel the ground below you and take a deep breath, making little movements with your fingers and toes. Take these blessings and new insights with gratitude, and have a Blessed Imbolc.

***

About the Author:

Rebecca Coates is a Tarot reader, sound healer, fire dancer, massage therapist and witch who is based in CT but will be traveling around the US soon. Follow her journeys both internal and external on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube @GreenHeartHealingGuidance.

Lick the Sky

February, 2019

It’s Imbolc
And I want to
Lick the sky
Those fiery stripes
Must surely be
As sweet as sunrise ice.

The blackbird nods
Tail bouncing on the wall
Of a run down council house.
The Honda Prelude that
Cuts me up
Is a square assed snap chat
Of the past
And the wind turbine
Crazy in the cruel bite
Of winter’s last stand
Is a bright spark of
Future hope.

It’s Imbolc
And I want to
Grasp the earth
Bulbs tickling my cheek
With first new shoots
Reach out with great
Goddess hands
Surround the sky
And lick.

***

About the Author:

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

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

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

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

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.

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