sabbats

Book Review – The Witch’s Book of Mysteries by Devin Hunter

March, 2019

Book Review
The Witch’s Book of Mysteries
by Devin Hunter

The forward of The Witch’s Book of Mysteries, written by Jason Miller, jumps right into what the reader can expect from The Witch’s Book of Mysteries by Devin Hunter.

… “What is a Witch? It’s a tricky label. For some people witchcraft is a religion. If you worship the old Gods and follow a religion like Wicca, then for those people your are a Witch. Other People focus on the craft part of witchcraft and consider use of folk magic as the defining characteristics of a Witch. If you know the magical properties of herbs, the words of spells and the use of oils and candles and stones, then you are a Witch.”….

And, as Jason aptly states, the definition of what a Witch has all of the overlays of modern society and traditional practices rolled into one.

This is the third book by Devin in a systematic approach to introducing the experienced student to the practices of witchcraft and honing their skills into becoming a Witch. The first of the books, The Witch’s Book of Power, explored all that comprises the journey of developing your power and knowing when and how to tap into it for a sustainable and effective practice.

The Second book, The Witch’s Book of Spirits furthered developed the power of the burgeoning Witch in accessing the world of spirits, mediumship and all that is of what Devin calls the Familiar Craft. And, as promised in this third book, The Witch’s Book of Mysteries coalesces all that has preceded and the reader begins the practice of working with those of the Sacred Fires, the Grigori, and the expansion of the practitioners powers to becoming one with all of the worlds.

This is not a book for the beginner and demands of the reader a working-not theoretical-knowledge of witchcraft and all that goes into claiming the title of Witch. The book is divided into two parts and each builds upon the other in knowledge and practical application. Many of the concepts presented are not your traditional craft practices. Instead, they are a refining and adaption of concepts that include some techniques and teachings that would have been designated as disciplines for other paths.

Much like Christopher Orapello and Tara Maguire’s book Besom, Stang & Sword (read the review of this book in our February Issue), these are concepts of the Modern Witch drawing on the best of the old and propelling the seeker into a new form of witchcraft that makes use more cosmic principals.

One of the best examples of what this new craft encompasses is the definition and explanation of the a familiar concept, the Witch’s Sabbat. As Devin points out, this term has come to be associate with the eight festivals of the Witch’s Wheel of the Year. These being tied to celebrations of specific times of the year, deities and experiences largely pulled together and used as such associations by those of scholarly works and not necessarily of the craft themselves. Just this idea makes so much sense if you consider that those we considered to be practicing witch’s hundreds of years ago would not necessarily have set aside valuable time and resources to celebrate in the ways we do today. Even the Deities that may have been associated with such rites would have been culturally based.

We learn in this book that the Sabbat is an experience that occurs in deep trance or while sleeping and requires the Witch have command over his/her magical form that has the power and ability to move in its pure form of power onto the plane of the Sabbat. This requires the development of lucid dreaming, psychic awareness. and as Devin states regarding the goal…”isn’t necessarily to leave the body and travel to a different dimension, but rather to travel through the inner realms of the mind and the paths of the psyche to get to a different dimension”….I found this a telling perspective that emphasizes the reality that being a Witch is really hard work that demands knowing yourself and a very mature attitude towards stepping into your power.

Part Two of “Mysteries” focuses on taking the Witch beyond their scope of power and realms of working and issues the call to reaching beyond what is believed of the limitation of form and reach out to those Spirits and guardians responsible for creation-particularly ours-itself. These entities move well beyond the archetypal and anthropomorphic energies of specific Deities, pantheons and the traditional Gods/Goddesses. The Witch must thoroughly know who they are in all of their power and rise to stand as co-creators with those lesser known (and worked with) beings who are of support.

The bibliography and recommended reading at the end of the book exemplifies the care and thought that went into this book and, more importantly supports Devin’s encouragement to learn as much as you can about as much as you can to truly be informed in your own practice.

The Witch’s Book of Mysteries is a valuable resource to the advanced practitioner regardless of the form your witchcraft may take. In fact, whether you consider yourself a witch or not, the information and way in which it has been compiled is well worth reading. This is the craft that will move into the next generation of and with that statement, you will hopefully see the durability and strength of a power that is organically a creative and universal energy.

To hear more from Devin about his practices, Tradition and more:

The Modern Witch Podcast

modernwitch.podbean.com

The Witch’s Book of Mysteries on Amazon

***

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.

MagickalArts

January, 2019

The Wiccan Path

Happy New Year Everyone! This year, 2019 is a number “3” year (add 2+0+1+9=12/ 1+2 =3); a year of change and creation. Three is the number of trinity’s harmony. From the relationship and collaboration of two a third is created; the totality of its sum of parts. This may take the form of fulfilling and creating what you desire most, creating a new passion fueled by a latent wish, putting into action what you’ve been yearning to do as you create the product of those efforts.

In keeping with this creative approach I am revisiting and sharing the online course I wrote in 2014, to serve as the stimulus for those interested in Wicca and earth-centered practices and creating a path of their own. Please enjoy this excerpt and many blessings for a fabulous New “creational” Year!!

Excerpted from “A Year and A Day on the Wiccan Path”…..

The Wiccan Path is one of initiatory experience. Each step taken upon this path leads towards greater understanding of your own Divine nature, which in turn brings a greater understanding of the natural world and the Divinity that exists around you. By definition, initiation is an act that sets in motion some course of events. In the case of a spiritual pursuit, initiation opens the seeker to embracing their spiritual nature as a support and foundation to their mundane nature. The spiritual path of a Wiccan (Witch) is one filled with the beauty of the natural world and the mystery of the world within each of us. The path leads to the subtle realms of the astral – the far reaches of the cosmos – and the shadows that lay hidden and buried within each of us. We practice the Craft of the Wise, which in ancient times was the gifts of the healers and the seers whose ability to see far and wide and enter so completely into alliance with the physical natural world was depended upon to ensure viable crops, healthy livestock, fertility and a sustainable life for those in whom the wise lived. In ancient times the knowledge was carefully passed in the style of oral tradition, the mysteries given ear to ear hand to hand. Although many of those traditions, rituals and wise ways are lost to the modern practitioner of Wicca, many of the core principles remain, having evolved just as we as a people have evolved, become modernized and have at our fingertips ways of communicating large volumes of information. The information provided in this course of study barely scratches the surface of what is a uniquely complex and diverse spiritual path and that to a large degree can only superficially claim its heritage in the ancient practices of which we truly know so little. Wicca is rooted in the experiential, and is a way of life that is not limited by lack of sacred space, tools or financial resources. From the Wiccan perspective, all of the natural world is sacred space and the greatest tool of working is our physical nature holding the pure essence of each individual’s Divine spirit that is priceless in

Ritual and Celebration

Wiccans use ancient and modern ceremonies, rituals and shamanic practices to attune themselves to the natural rhythms of nature, the world, and the universe as a way to commune with this divine force. In particular, the lives and daily activities of the ancient peoples were very much dependent upon and intertwined with the position of the sun and the agricultural cycles that were dependent upon movement throughout the year. The Witch’s Wheel of the Year is a reflection of those needs. The calling forth of the Light of the newly birthed Sun at the time of the Winter Solstice ensured that there would be a new cycle of planting, sowing and reaping the much needed harvest for continued life.

The Sabbats (Solar Celebrations) of the Wiccan year are eight in number. Four correspond to the astronomical transitions of the equinoxes and the solstices. These are the Vernal (Ostara) and Autumnal Equinoxes (Mabon) and the Winter (Yule) and Summer (Litha) Solstices. The other Four, or cross quarter days are those that mark the time between the equinoxes and solstices. These were the dates of celebration of the progression through the changing of the seasons and the preparations for the times of transit from one season to the next. These are Samhain (the Witch’s New Year) – Imbolc (February 1) – Beltaine (May 1st) and Lammas (August 1st).

There are many overlays that are associated with these Sabbats, the most prominent being the cycle of the God and Goddess as they move through the stages of birth- fertility- harvest and death. In this way, the physical world and the Divine world were mirror reflections and the offering of devotion and celebration of one ensured the continuation of the other.

Deity

The God, Lugh and The Goddess, Brighid

Depending upon one’s point of view, Wicca can be considered a monotheistic, duotheistic, polytheistic, henotheistic religion.

Wicca is monotheistic (belief in a single deity): Some Wiccans recognize a single supreme being, sometimes called “The All” or “The One.” The Goddess and God are viewed as the female and male aspects of this single deity.
• Wicca is duotheistic (belief in two deities; a.k.a. rarely as bitheistic): Wiccans often worship a female Goddess and a male God, often called the Lady and Lord.
• Wicca is polytheistic (belief in many deities): Many Wiccans recognize the existence of many ancient Gods and Goddesses, including but certainly not limited to: Aphrodite, emis, Briget, Diana, Dionysius, Fergus, Hecate, Isis, Pan, Thor, etc.
• Wicca is henotheistic (belief in a single main deity among many): Many Wiccans view the many ancient deities as being aspects of the Lady and Lord, and view the latter as the male and female aspects of “The One.”

(excerpted from: http://www.religioustolerance.org)

There is no right or wrong to any of the beliefs above. The underlying principle is that of polarity and the belief that there is both the masculine and feminine Divine principle within all living beings. This approach to deity supports the belief in the immanence of the Divine. That the qualities of Deity exist within all of life, and that through acknowledgement and embracing of this inherent birthright, that Divinity may become transcendent in nature.

The Natural World

WICCA is considered a nature-based religion. The environment and those things that comprise the manifest world including animals, plants, minerals are considered sacred and part of the Divine web of interconnectedness. Many Wiccans are involved in environmental activities and feel it a natural part of their spiritual practice to recycle and live lightly on Mother Earth. The use and knowledge of herbs and their medicinal properties is often undertaken gladly as a study of practice and it is not unusual to find many Wiccans attracted to professions where healing modalities can be performed. Animals are considered companions and treated with the same care, love and respect

that would be afforded another human. Human and animal rights, environmental issues and preservation of our natural resources are all a focus of those following a Wiccan Path of spirituality.

The Cosmos

The ancients were limited to what could be seen with the naked eye or what mystical inferences could be gathered from what was overtly presented and the myths that were created as result. Structures were built in accord with the movement of the sun (Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid) that aligned with specific seasonal events and astrology had its beginnings in predicting certain outcomes and points of focus based on what could be observed in the heavens.

The scientific breakthroughs showing the similarities in or own physical constitution and that of the geology of our planet, as well as the stars and planets links us to our own stellar nature and the desire for access to weaving that universal magick of that starseed into all of our endeavors. According to scientist, Carl Sagan, the carbon, nitrogen and oxygen atoms in our bodies, as well as atoms of all other heavy elements, were created in previous generations of stars over 4.5 billion years ago.

One of the things that has not changed is that of the celebration and worship of the Moon and her energies and attributions within a Wiccan practice. The lunar tides are seen as the domain of the Goddess and the feminine energies. The planets and the magick woven with their energies extend the reach of practical magick into the realms of space and time continuum. And, the increasing awareness of our place within the vastness of the Cosmos provides a richly layered perspective for those of the Craft.

***

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.

19-Days of Illuminated Darkness 2018 Free Course

December, 2018

19-Days of Illuminated Darkness 2018

Begins December 3.2018
Waning 4th Qrt. Moon in Scorpio

Join me, once again, as we count down to the Winter Solstice and 19 Days of Illuminated Darkness. What was begun as the veils of Samhain parted and the New Year turned another cycle of the Great Wheel, continues as we welcome the Winter Solstice and the burgeoning of the Solar Light!

Winter Solstice
December 21st.
5:23p.m. (EST)

This is the second of a series of posts through 2019 that will explore the many meanings of the Sabbats of the Great Wheel of the Year. Each will countdown with a specific number (relevant) of days and continue the work begun in the prior Sabbat(s).

Topics will include:

… The deeper meaning of the Sabbat, consciousness, honoring and fueling the spark of the Divine within and more. And, a few bonus posts with new writings and experiences to enjoy. 

The countdown begins on Monday, December 3rd as the Moon wanes 4th Qrtr. in mystical astrological sign of Scorpio. Mercury remains in the last 3 days of its retrograde and offers the opportunity to explore that darkened light in a collaborative style. All the while the Sun stands strong in its astrological mantle of fiery Sagittarius.

For a quick look …

19-Days of Illuminated Darkness-Index

https://awitchssacredjourney.com/19-days-of-illuminated-darknessindex

***

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.

Bringing Up the Next Generation of Witches

July, 2018

As a child, I led such a weird childhood. I was known for seeing things that weren’t there and knowing things before they happened. I felt like a sin in my parent’s household as I was being raised in a Christian church. As I aged, I found solace in Wicca. Life and the things going on finally made sense.

When I was pregnant with my son (Little Bear), I made the decision to raise him in a Pagan household and support him, no matter what religion he decided on. Little Bear is now 4 years old and this has proven to be the best decision. He has shown signs of experiencing the same things that I went through as a child. Little Bear is a natural born healer, empath, and animal lover. He has to sleep with a light on because the dark brings weird things with it. While I cannot confirm it yet, it sounds like he is seeing people that have crossed over.

One of the major things that Little Bear and I have started doing is celebrating the Sabbats. Any reason to celebrate, right?

June 21st was Litha or the Summer Solstice. This is the longest day of the year and Little Bear and I took full advantage.

Every Sabbat, we discuss the Wheel of the Year. This helps remind us where we are on the Wheel and where we are headed. Because this follows the seasons, it is easy for Little Bear to understand. We discussed how Litha falls in the summer and some of our favorite summer activities. Little Bear loves grilling out, riding his bike and playing in the water.

The day started before sunrise. I poured out orange juice and we headed to the porch to watch the sun. It was a warm, quiet morning. I explained to Little Bear that we should be grateful for everything we have. I asked him what he was happy to have. “My bike, my mom, my bed, my dog” and the list went on and on. I smiled at his innocence and gave my own thanks internally. As the sun rose above the horizon, the world started coming alive. The birds started singing, the neighborhood stray cat came to visit, and we watched a herd of deer in the field across the street. We ended the morning with a barefoot walk around the property. We stopped at the outside altar and poured orange juice into the fairy dish as an offering. This is one of Little Bear’s favorite parts. We actually had to make a fairy altar closer to the house so he could easily access it without supervision.

After work, I had Little Bear help with dinner. We were preparing Grilled Chicken Salads. As we pulled the vegetables out, we talked about each one. Where they came from, how they grow, what the health benefits are, and what kind of super powers the vegetables might give us (This was Little Bears idea). I feel that knowing the health benefits of each vegetable will help Little Bear develop his Kitchen Witch side as he grows.

While making the salad, I noticed Little Bear had made a pile that contained a piece of each vegetable that went into the salad. It was his offering for the fairies.

We ended the night with a bonfire and watching the sunset. The longest day of the year had officially ended.

It may seem like I do a LOT of talking with Little Bear and I do. Little Bear is at the age where he is like a little sponge. He is asking tons of questions and curious about everything.

The next Sabbat is Lammas and I’m excited about it. This has always been a personal favorite because I love to bake bread. Lammas is the start of the harvest season. So breads, wheats, grains, grapes, apples, corn and wild berries are great foods. While I don’t have recipes pulled together yet, corn dollies and bonfires are part of the ritual for sure!

Some ideas to do with children are:

-Corn Dollies

-Magical Picnics (Make sure to leave an offering!)

-Collect berries for jams or jellies

-Time to harvest the garden

-Create a Witches Bottle (smaller children will need help with this since you will be working with sharp objects!)

-Time to redecorate the altar

-Visit an apple orchard (bring some home if the apples are ready!)

-Collect rain or storm water

-Bake bread, cakes, or muffins (cookies could be substituted so the little ones can decorate)

The biggest thing to remember, “It’s not about the action you are doing but the intent you are putting into it”.

What are some fun ways you are celebrating the Sabbats with your child/ren?

Blessed Be!

Affairs of the Pagan Heart

April, 2018

Ostara and Eggs

Eggs are an old symbol of new life. With fertilization, care and time, something new comes to life, and what a great opportunity it is to view a wedding as something new. A marriage is born!

The most opulent display for an Ostara wedding ceremony or reception is to make or commission a Fabergé wedding egg. It is a lot of fun to make one yourself, and a great exercise for you and your partner any time, not just at Ostara or Easter.

What you’ll need:

  • eggs (raw); white are best to get the colouring you desire

  • food colouring and jars

  • pencil with a straight pin stuck into the eraser end

  • wax candle

  • paper towels

  • some patience and a bit of creativity

Method:

Choose the colours you want to add to your egg and prepare the dye water. Remember combinations like blue and yellow make green, so you don’t need to prepare a mix of green dye. Are there colours that represent your partnership or colours you want to use at your wedding? Have these ready for a later step.

Select a design. This is where you can get really creative and it forms the basis of the end result. What patterns or symbols do you want to use to represent your union? Maybe you have a symbol or word that you want to include that has meaning to your relationship. Draw it out in pencil on paper first if you’re an inexperienced doodler, then draw it on the egg when you’re ready.

Stick the pin in the end of the pencil and dip the pin head in some melted wax. Trace what you’ve drawn in pencil, and this is where you can be really creative.

When you’re satisfied covering one layer with wax, carefully lower the egg into the dye water for about 15-20 seconds. If it’s not the intensity you want, put it back in the dye water. It could take 10 minutes or more. Then trace some more wax as another layer and lower the egg in another colour for another 15 seconds to see the colours blend and mix. The spots where there is wax won’t get dyed, so keep that in mind when planning your layers and colour combinations.

Remove the egg from the dye water with a spoon between each layer and carefully pat it dry with a clean paper towel.

Removing the wax is a difficult task but is also satisfying to see how it all comes together. Carefully hold the egg near (but not directly over) the candle flame, just close enough to melt the wax that you can carefully wipe off with a clean paper towel. You’ll do this several times as you move the egg around to get all the wax off.

You’re done at this point, and your egg is beautiful. Or maybe you want to repeat the steps to add some more. The choice is yours!

For more in-depth descriptions of these steps and a wide variety of tips and tricks, visit http://www.instructables.com/id/Pysanky-Ukrainian-Egg-Dying

Be sure to poke a small hole in both ends of the egg when you’re done and blow out the contents. It would be bad enough if your egg cracked or smashed, but the smell of the rotting contents would make the situation even worse. However, once a hole is poked, you can add a thin ribbon to it and make it an ornament, an activity you could also do for Yule or other sabbats.

***

About the Author:

Rev. Rachel U Young is a pagan based in Toronto, Canada. She is a licensed Wedding Officiant and under the name NamasteFreund she makes handfasting cords and other ceremonial accessories.

Book Review – The Modern Witchcraft Guide to the Wheel of the Year: From Samhain to Yule, Your Guide to the Wiccan Holidays by Judy Ann Nock

February, 2018

The Modern Witchcraft Guide to the Wheel of the Year: From Samhain to Yule, Your Guide to the Wiccan Holidays”

by Judy Ann Nock

Publisher: Adams Media

Date: 2017

Pages: 238

Available at Barnes & Noble, Target and elsewhere in hardcover, NOOK Book, Kindle, etc.

This book from the Modern Witchcraft series is essentially a reprint of Judy Ann Nock’s “The Provenance Press Guide to the Wiccan Year: A Year Round Guide to Spells, Rituals, and Holiday Celebrations,” published in 2007. There is a new introduction and minor word changes, but then, the wheel of the year and the night sky have changed little from ancient times, and the book does provides quality information.

Each chapter focuses on a season that corresponds to a pagan holiday. Nock provides an introduction, an explanation of the sabbat, a description of the night sky for that period, the astrological influences and mythological references.

Searching for inspiration for an Imbolc ritual, that is the chapter I read most throughly. Noting that in arcane astrology, Imbolc fell under the sign of Aquarius, she connects the returning light of the sun and Brighid’s fire aspect, and the image of the water bearer with Brighid’s sacred wells.

There are spells, rituals, crafts and other suggestions for celebrating each season. For Imbolc is a meditation delving into the healing waters of Brighid’s sacred well, which is symbolic of the depths of the womb from which we all come. There is an eclectic initiatory rite suitable for a coven, and a scrying ritual that can be done as a solitary. The crafts are Brighid’s cross, Brighid’s eye (also known as God’s eye) and the bride’s bed.

The book begins with Samhain and moves through Mabon, providing a guide to celebrate every turn of the wheel. Reading it, it’s easy to see how the 360 degrees of a circle overlay easily on a 365-day calendar. While the majority of the book focuses on solar influences, there is a chapter on the estates with a lunar calendar, astrology and meditations with the moon goddess. The appendix has correspondences and a glossary of terms.

This book would be helpful to anyone wanting to learn about the Wheel of the Year, and serves as a reference to return to again and again.

Click Image For Amazon Information

Nock is a Wiccan high priestess and founder of a goddess spirituality group. She lives in New York City and has a degree in creative writing and theater. Another book by her will be coming out this year, “The Modern Witchcraft Book of Natural Magick: Your Guide to Crafting Charms, Rituals, and Spells from the Natural World.” She also wrote “A Witch’s Grimoire: Create Your Own Book of Shadows.”

Click Images For Amazon Information

***

About the Author:

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

Beltane Correspondences

April, 2015

Also known as: May Day, Bealtaine, Beltane, Bhealtainn, Bealtinne, Festival of Tana (Strega), Giamonios, Rudemass, and Walburga (Teutonic), Cetsamhain (opposite Samhain),Fairy Day ,Sacred Thorn Day, Rood Day, Roodmas (the Christian term for Rood Day, Old Beltane, Beltain, Baltane, Walpurgis Night, Floriala (Roman feast of flowers from April 29 to May 1), Walpurgisnacht (Germanic-feast of St. Walpurga), Thrimilce (Anglo-saxon), Bloumaand (Old Dutch)

Date: May 1

Animals: Swallow, dove, swan, Cats, lynx, leopard

Deities: Flower Goddesses, Divine Couples, Deities of the Hunt, Aphrodite,

artemis, Bast, Diana, Faunus, Flora, Maia, Pan, the Horned God, Venus, and all Gods and Goddesses who preside over fertility.
Tools: broom, May Pole, cauldron
Stones/Gems: emerald, malachite, amber, orange carnelian, sapphire, rose quartz
Colors: green, soft pink, blue, yellow, red, brown

Herbs and Flowers: almond tree/shrub, ash, broom, cinquefoil, clover, Dittany of Crete, elder, foxglove, frankincense, honeysuckle, rowan, sorrel, hawthorn, ivy, lily of the valley, marigold, meadowsweet, mint, mugwort, thyme, woodruff may be burned; angelica, bluebells, daisy, hawthorn, ivy, lilac, primrose, and rose may be decorations, st. john’s wort, yarrow, basically all flowers.

Incense: frankincense, lilac, rose.

Symbols and Decorations: maypole, strings of beads or flowers, ribbons, spring flowers, fires, fertility, growing things, ploughs, cauldrons of flowers, butterchurn, baskets, eggs

Food: dairy, bread, cereals, oatmeal cakes, cherries, strawberries, wine, green salads.

Activities and Rituals: fertilize, nurture and boost existing goals, games, activities of pleasure, leaping bonfires, making garlands, May Pole dance, planting seeds, walking one’s property, feasting

Wiccan mythology: sexual union and/or marriage of the Goddess and God

It’s association with fire also makes Beltaine a holiday of purification.

Wiccan weddings are frequently held on or around Beltaine.

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

September, 2014

Blessed Be!
 
 I’ve been to Mabon Sabbats. I don’t like it.
I garden, sure. But I get my foods from supermarket. So celebrating the bounty of one of three harvest celebrations, (Lammas, Mabon, Samhain) does not hold meaning for me. Then if you live in North America, like me, you do Thanksgiving, too. FOUR harvest celebrations!
The older I get, the less energy I have for so much.
I have an indifference to Mabon., I never bother with it. That is how I see it. A bother.
Shadow taught me Neo-Pagans had four Sabbats at one time. One for each of the four seasons. Sounds better than eight to me.
For myself, I feel personal significance from two. Beltaine and Samhain. The other six I can take or leave. I realize this is strange for a Neo-Pagan. It took years for me to discover that there were some Pre-Christain Pagans who just did two as well.
Maybe I am not so weird after all!
Well, I have more to gripe about with this.  The Autumn Equinox is also where we have equal light with equal darkness.
For somebody like me who has Seasonal Affective Disorder, this is not good news. It seems the lengthening nights rush in at time warp speed. In Ohio, it feels like six months of winter and six months of summer. Soonafter Autumn Equinox, all I will want to do is sleep and eat cookies in between naps.
For me Mabon means Summer is ending, and the party is over. It’s going to be cold , snowy, and dark soon.
I never celebrate that.
However…
YES, I do have a however in between griping…
In my studies of the Sabbat, I saw somebody write someplace that Mabon is about leaving behind things. Things you have no use for. Things that need put in the past and moved away from.
This is a very personal thing. Quite often, nobody else’s business.
 Long a champion of the cause for group ritual and how powerful combining energy is- I propose instead a personal Mabon rite focusing on the topic of forgiveness.
It’s not a big Pagan topic.
I admit, one of the first books I grabbed when looking into Paganism was Anton LaVey’s Satanic Bible. It made me feel I had permission to explore without guilt a forbidden urge. The urge to exact vengeance.
I’d been raised by people who spoke against that. While they brawled with one another and exacted revenge regularly- I was forbidden. Perhaps they were not proud of themselves and wanted me to “be a better person”. They were also abusive and dysfunctional. It was a long time ago when I realized this. And I was not nice about how I threw it up in their faces. Like most families, mine consisted of human beings, capable of both right and wrong. And for a time, I focused just on the wrongs. I could not accept people who loved me could have stood by, and allow atrocities to happen to me.
Rather than say they were wrong or sorry, they just got defensive. The lectures about forgiveness began.
I refused, because their definition of forgiveness was one I rejected. Or if forgiveness was what they said it was, they were never going to get it from me. They taught that forgiveness is something you owed your perpetrator. It was the person who had been hurts responsibility to feel shame and guilt for experiencing pain and apologize for reacting that way. How dare I? I was told I was a bad daughter. A bad niece. A bad granddaughter. I was not loyal, and I ought to be sorry. After all they had done for me, who did I think I was to insinuate that things I had lived with was unacceptable? Why was I digging up the past? Why couldn’t I just move on with my life and let everybody live in peace? 
 
It took me years to accept that some people do not know how to apologize. They don’t know how to accept responsibility for wrongs. They don’t want to feel guilty and are far more ashamed then they will ever let on. 
An excuse used by some is that they have confessed to god and been washed clean.
To me, apologizing to their god does not excuse somebody from apologizing to somebody they hurt. 
But in their eyes, god said it is okay. So I had to also, and I was to be ashamed for still being hurt even after their god had washed it away.
That never made any sense to me either.
Another take on forgiveness came from  a wise ass- not a wise man- not an ass- a wise ass- and he told me “You don’t have to forgive anybody unless you want to.” He furthermore said I did not have to forgive unless I was ready to.
He was right.
 
Another person told me forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. 
 
Somebody else said forgiveness means you have moved on from the pain and you are not owned by it anymore.
 
Everybody had their own opinions about forgiveness. They all had ideas about how everybody should feel about it and they had explicit instructions on how to successfully forgive. The more people went to worship services, the more they demanded you instantly forgive everybody of everything. And forget about everything immediately.
 
Like I was going to have amnesia of what all of the first 26 years of my life were. 
 
What I have learned over the years is that the people yelling the loudest for you to forgive and forget typically have the most that needs forgiven. And they don’t want to admit it. They are also the most likely to continue the behaviors if they do apologize, and most likely to leave you hanging when you need them to be there for you.
They do not want anybody to hold them accountable for what they do and will lie to get out of consequences.
So I will not join their ranks and say that Mabon is the Sabbat where you make a list of all the things people have done against you and forgive them for it and move on with your life.
The reality is- if you live long enough- you will be hurt. And sometimes, that pain restricts you from participating in something you’d love to participate in.
In that way your perpetrators still control you.
In that way, they are still in your head.
My goal with this working is not so that the pain will disappear. It might never stop hurting. 
But that you will be able to push past it and carry on despite it.
Keeping in mind- forgiving somebody or an event is not necessary. But it is still entirely possible even if they are not sorry. It is also possible to forgive even if you decide you would not like to reconnect or continue the relationship. It does not mean you have made peace with the person or event. It does not mean that you have perspective or believe this happened for a reason. Some things are simply not okay,  and never will be no matter how much time goes on.
For me, I realized I’d forgiven when I could function normally around my perpetrator  and the people who blamed me for the abuse. I know none of them are sorry and never will be. I accepted that is the way things are, and that is not okay but it is what it is. Said individuals were not doing things to me because they no longer could. Not because they would not have. I realized I’d forgiven when I was able to stand in the cemetery and actually cry as the casket was installed into the mausoleum walls. I was able to celebrate the good and accept the bad as part of the tragic mistakes said individual had made in their lifetime. I had learned to acknowledge I had not been the only one who had been harmed. I forgave said individual for being imperfect, making unspeakable mistakes,  but they all know how I feel about what they did, and failed to do. I accept them as they way they are.
I accepted it was okay to feel the way I was feeling.
And I accepted I could have some form of a relationship with them all despite it- not because it was what they wanted. But because it was what I needed.
And at that moment,  I felt so good.
Forgiveness was for me, not other people.
If you live long enough, somebody will do something that could be forgiven. You may actually find you have to forgive yourself of some things. It is not crucial for you to forgive yourself or anybody else. You will not go to hell, as I was always told. You will not dwell on events 24/7. You will not  be more able to move on from things. You will be able to understand reasons and accept things are what they are even if you do not forgive. You will not be a nasty, evil, horrible bitter person if you do not forgive.
You do not ever have to forgive. But you can if you would like to.
Regardless of whether you forgive or not.
Here is my ritual to help you to function once more in a situation you’ve been held back from by some past trauma. Mabon is a good time to do this.
I’m not going to be doing anything else for Mabon, btw. I don’t feel a connection to this harvest or any of the gods a lot of folks honor.
 But I will do this for myself.
As with any of my rites, you custom tailor this as you see fit.
Saoirse’s Leaving Behind and Resuming Something Mabon Rite
 
or Saoirse’s All About Me Mabon Rite
 
Do this anywhere you see fit- but someplace where you have complete privacy. Do it day or night, but in 100% complete darkness.
 
You need  one candle, one toothpick, a mirror, plenty of red thread, scissors,  fireproof tongs, and a fire safe bowl or plate. Whatever color holds significance for you should be the candle color. For me, it will be a white one. For you, it can be whatever you choose.
 
You may consecrate your candle with an oil of choice if you want to. For self-love, use rose. That would be my choice.
 
Think about what you want for at least a week before doing this. Realize you don’t have to prove anything to anybody. You are doing this for you.
 
An event or person can hold you back from doing something you desire to do. It is crucial this is not some physical boundary including other people’s will. It is crucial this is a boundary that simply being hurt keeps you from crossing. 
 
Keep these things in your heart. And only do this when you are ready for this change because it will entail action. I have seen people do spellwork for change, and then fall to pieces when the change occurs. 
 
When you have decided what you want and are certain you are prepared, take all items to your ritual space, and begin.
Cast circle, call the quarters, and call your gods and guides as you see fit, according to your tradition.
Light your candle you will use for this.
Then take the toothpick, which will represent your obstacle. That hurt that keeps you from participating in what you want to start doing again. Pick it up and put that energy into it. Try to put all the hurt you can into it. Try to give all the hurt to the toothpick. Then, when you feel it is all in there- cry on it if you want to. Bind it all in there with red thread. Bind it all good, focusing on it not being able to get out, but leave enough loose because you will be breaking this.
When this is finished, put it down.
By the light of your candle, look in the mirror and have a conversation with yourself, making sure to look into your own eyes. Say whatever you need to. Acknowledge the hurt and that is it justified. Remembering you have put that pain all into the thing you will destroy. Validate you needed time to be away and now you want to go back to doing what you did before. And this pain will no longer keep you from it.
When you have said all there is to say, break the toothpick, focusing on breaking the obstacle, the pain that was in the way. And then burn it. Focus on feeling it disappear as it burns. Use tongs as to not burn your fingers. Burn the toothpick completely.
Now look at the pathetic debris it has left. Not so strong and in the way anymore, is it?
That is all that stands in the way now. Look in the mirror and say anything in the effect of what your plans are now that you have this crap out of your way. Feel good about it.
Dismiss the quarters, thank your gods and guides, take down circle, and go about your business. But just for kicks, flush the ashes from the toothpick you burned down the toilet. That is where crap belongs, you know.
The when the time comes, go out and do that which you want to do, freed of the pain that held you back.
It may be difficult, but you can do this when you decide.
As for me, I have to get off my butt and start my musical studies again. I have most of the supplies gathered up now, I just have to forgive myself for being deaf. Nobody kicked me out of the band, but I know playing with the band is not going to get it for me. Not right now at least. I had my heart set on that for so long, and I up and quit playing entirely when I knew I’d never function as well as I could if I had normal hearing. I gradually accepted this is okay…mostly.  The rest will come together because I am ready for it to. Almost… I had cochlear implant surgery a couple of years ago, and it helped- some- but not enough for my liking. I was very upset and just plain old gave up and I donated my bagpipes to the band. Well, about a month ago, I contacted the band director to see if he had some used pipes to sell, and guess what? Hew gave me my bagpipes back. This Mabon rite will be focused on pushing myself to forget about past goals and just enjoy what I can and accept things as they are. Who knows what time will bring? If he bothered to give me the $1,200 instrument back, maybe I’m not such a lousy player after all, you know?
 Perhaps I will share how it goes.
Blessed Be, and Blessed Mabon

A Witch’s View

April, 2010

With a husband, 3 kids and a business to run I sometimes struggle to find the time to connect with life on a spiritual level. As a solitary witch I have to rely on myself to make time to celebrate the Sabbats and Esbats – it’s not like going to church every Sunday (whether you want to or not!). Often my celebrations don’t register anywhere near on the grand scale. But, you know, that’s ok.

I think sometimes we get caught up in the ‘more is more’ way of thinking even when it comes to our Pagan holidays.

Usually to honour the Sabbats I perform a candle ritual and make a cake to share with my family. Sometimes they’re more elaborate especially at Samhain which is my favourite time of the year but generally I keep them simple.  During the day I ponder on the ever changing wheel of life and look forward to the time ahead. I’m mindful and that I think is the essence of celebration.

I’ve always been instinctively pulled towards the full moon and I have my own monthly ritual to honour the beautiful Luna.  Each month I try to capture her essence in my photography.  I stand alone in the garden and spend time admiring her beauty through my lens. It’s a very personal time for me and even if it’s freezing cold I look forward to taking this time when I feel at one with the Goddess.

Obviously everyday should be a celebration of life and not just saved up for the Sabbats but this is often overlooked in the hustle and bustle of daily life.  For me candles are extremely important in my daily thankfulness.  If nothing else I can sit down to work, or relax after the day, light a candle and as I do so give thanks to the Universe.

There are other little things I do during the day which reminds me of my spiritual path and the beauty of life.  I open the curtains and greet the sun (or rain).  I talk to my plants, I’m thankful for my food and I stand outside to admire the stars.  It’s all about taking a few seconds and remembering instead of getting swamped down in laundry, meetings and the eternal cycle of food preparation and clean up!

How do you bring the spiritual into your busy life? Do you struggle to make the time sometimes or do you have it all figured out?  Leave a comment and share 🙂

Song of a Daily Druid

March, 2010

These Holy Days

Yesterday morning, I woke up to Christmas. Four in the morning, I was warm and buzzing nestled between soft pillows and a billowy comforter, the holiday songs from my dreams still echoing in my sleepy memory. What had I been dreaming? A tiled sauna and a room full of hot cascading showers, a shuffling choir, long curtains of fabric draped in folds and shifting gently in a warm breeze… My bedroom was cool and dark, utterly quiet, as sun, steam and bright colors wound ribbons of anticipation and giddy joy through my mind. Some days just feel like Christmas.

Another hour of light dozing and my alarm was going off. As I dressed and ate breakfast, I caught myself humming “Santa Baby” …I really do believe in you, let’s see if you believe in me… I walked to work through blue twilit dawn, the scent of the late February air — tense with chill, sparkling just slightly under each streetlamp in diffuse wisps of crystalline snow — seeming entwined with hints of peppermint and cinnamon; even the smell of cigarette smoke wafting down early morning city streets reminded me instead of smoldering hearth fires and sap reaching up lazily through the limbs of pines. All morning felt like a holiday. When I wasn’t paying attention, I slipped backwards through the calendar, pulsing with gratitude and energy.

My first customer of the morning was a disheveled-looking woman with suitcases and overflowing canvas tote bags piled up around her in the tiny booth where she sat sipping her coffee and fingering an unlit cigarette back and forth across her knuckles. The waitress from the midnight shift shrugged and shook her head. “It’s not like she’s out of her right mind or anything…” she told me. I glanced at the woman grinning dreamily across the dining room. “When she came in, she threw up her arms in the air in a bear-hug,” our manager objected in protest, “I thought she was going to attack you!” I walked a fresh pot of coffee over and topped off her mug. The woman winked. “It’s cold enough out there to shiver my timbers!” I smiled. “That’s what we’re here for,” I said, gesturing gently with the steaming pot.

All morning, the woman sat in her booth, hunched over a newspaper, stepping out sometimes for a smoke. From behind the counter, I could see her bundled, hunched form shifting from foot to foot outside the hazy window, reaching sometimes to tap ash into the street’s gutter. Another thin layer of dust covering the dusting of snow and gray hunks of sidewalk salt. Other customers came and went, the usual barrage of coffee, eggs, hot tea and homefries, oatmeal and bagels and french toast and fruit. Some were regulars, catching up on news, asking after my family and sharing stories from the weekend. Others were new faces, or only vaguely familiar, meeting strangers to talk morning business, or sitting alone with their palms cupping the smooth porcelain side of a grande carmel latte. Warmth radiated. My manager kept to the basement, going over the usual Monday morning inventory, and upstairs it was just the one sleepy cook and myself drifting through the oldie tunes playing over the muzak system. Sometimes I sang along softly to myself, feeling the roots of my hair prickle as though radiating heat in a halo of lazy melody.

Midmorning, a soldier came in, dressed in gray sweat fatigues, and sat at a table by himself in the far corner of the dining room. Soldiers make me a little uncomfortable, I admit. “Service” means something so different to me. Courage and loyalty, discipline…. I’ve known boys who went off after high school to become soldiers, often just for the financial aid or health benefits. Two of them have died because of it — one in war, one from sudden heart failure while training to pass his physicals. Another called me a “childish c*nt” and stopped speaking to me when I joked about anarchy and a community shaped by Gandhi’s satyagraha, love-force, instead of a Big Brother military enforcing our interests overseas. These men — mostly men — sit in their uniforms and follow strict protocols of civility, refusing to eat until a commanding officer has begun on his own meal, calling us waitresses “ma’am” as though we were all mothers or teachers. But they have also been trained how to kill, to level a gun or swiftly drop a missile with the same precision and detachment. I am a pacifist, perhaps by nature; I cannot choose war, I cannot choose military even in its most abstracted and ideal form. And so soldiers — unlike police officers, or EMTs, or the local crossing guards — make me feel how deeply I am a civilian, how soft and far I am from a fighter.

I always wonder what they’re thinking. As I dropped off this soldier’s breakfast — a young man hardly older than myself from the looks of it, and sullen in the frozen morning sunlight cutting down through the long restaurant windows — I smiled and felt my own uncertainty lurking beneath my usual kind and eager inquiries about refills and condiments. I always want them to know that I respect them as human beings, rather than as soldiers. I always want them to feel the aching wish in my heart that they would one day just… give it up, that every one of them would give it up and come home and leave the weaponry to rust. National security be damned. Politics and power-plays be damned. In this small, cozy diner where every scent, every scrape of silverware or drip of the coffee machine, is familiar and resonant… I always want them, for a while, to cease to be fighters and become men again.

With barely a dozen words exchanged between us, eventually the young soldier picked his check up off the table and came to the register to pay. He stood, seemingly distracted and uneasy, as I punched in the amount and he rummaged for change in his wallet. Then from behind him, the disheveled woman was approaching, tapping him softly on the shoulder, muttering something too low for me to hear. “No, ma’am,” he replied, looking down at his gray sweats, “Just standard issue.” A moment longer the woman stood before him, her old body a good head shorter and a good deal wider and softer than his own muscled and rough beneath the worn gray fabric. Then, she threw her arms up in the air, and drew him into an embrace that seemed to grow long and quiet from the center of her being. For a moment, everything in the dining room stopped. I lowered my eyes.

Then, she shuffled back over to her seat and took up her coffee mug again. I watched the young man out of the corner of my eye as I counted quarters and nickels back to him; once or twice, he glanced over at where the woman sat, as if bewildered or shaken. I wished him a nice day, and he thanked me distractedly. He stepped away from the register, hesitated, then turned slowly towards her booth. “Thank you,” was all he said. The woman looked up and grinned her awkward, tooth-rotted grin, split open with caring.

“Pass it on,” she said, “Pass on love. We all have to try to become better people.”

The young soldier nodded his head, or bowed it, as he walked back out into the cold.

Later, another coworker arrived, picking up my slack as business increased despite the ever-denser snowfall outside. Shafts of sunlight that had cast sharp, long shadows across the carpet earlier in the morning were replaced by monotone grays and whites in slow, low-lying clouds wending their way between buildings and alleys across the street. The old woman was back outside sucking delicately at a cigarette when my coworker glanced at her fort of battered, pudgy suitcases and asked disdainfully, “Who’s at booth thirty-three?” thinking it was a bag-lady.

Perhaps she was. “Just a woman getting coffee,” I said. I shrugged and shook my head, feeling tears stinging the corners of my wide, humming eyes. “It’s not like she’s out of her right mind or anything…”

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