Spell

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

May, 2018

Dandelions


Merry meet.

I think the very first spell I ever did involved a dandelion. I can see myself as a young child, picking dandelions with the dried puffy seed ball, making a wish, and blowing them onto the wind. I would watch as they danced on the wind like whimsical little fairies.

Someone later told me if I got all the seeds off with one breath, my wish would come true.

Magic doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that. Just as simple as tossing a coin into a wishing well and the first star spell, “Starlight, star bright / First star I see tonight / I wish I may, I wish I might / Have this wish I wish tonight.”

As I got older, I came to know how much adults with lawns hated the intense yellow flowers atop long stems, swaying in the breeze, and didn’t appreciate my spreading the seeds to make even more weeds. But I saw something special about them as they opened and closed with the light. I saw little suns looking up to the big sun in the sky, later equating it to male God energy. Then, when the plant went to seed, I saw it as the silvery full moon, or feminine energy which I later equated to feminine energy I came to call Goddess. The dandelion illustrated how both male and female vibrations coexist.

As I got older, my wishes turned into dreams, and the abundance seeds floating off meant an abundance of chances that my desires would take root. I also, without really thinking about what I was doing, would blow on them to release what I no longer wanted, giving it back to nature to absorb and transform. It was like blowing a kiss goodbye to something.

Now I see dandelions as containing the elements: the seeds are air, the flowers are the sun, the liquid in the stems as water, and both the green leaves and the moon I associate with north and the earth. Eat them (flowers, leaves, roots) and you will literally be taking the plant’s magic into yourself.

This is the perfect time of year to be doing dandelion spells. Where I live, they have burst into full bloom this past week. They’re a powerful little plant; their name means “lion’s tooth,” thanks to their yellow “mane” and their jagged “tooth” shaped leaves.

Look for that first seed head and let it carry your wishes, landing and planting, growing and prospering in the coming summer months.

If you wish, add a chant:

Dandelion, carry my wishes for me / Grant all that I wish for, so mote it be”

One spell I saw called for picking four seed heads, speaking your wish out loud to each of the four directions and then blowing a dandelion head in each direction, assuring they reach to the whole universe around you. Their proliferation helps in spreading possibilities and success.

You could also blow on the seeds to send a message to someone or someplace.

If you’d like, aim to blow all the seeds off an individual dandelion in one breath as an extra bit of good fortune.

Offering other ways they can be used in magic, Mackenzie Sage Wright wrote in “Lessons in Magical herbalism: Dandelion” for Exemplore April 4, 2018, “Dandelion tea is said to aid psychic visions and astral projection. The steam of the tea can be used to conjure spirits.”

Merry part. And merry meet again.

***

About the Author:

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

 

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

April, 2018

Bright Blessings!

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

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

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

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

Spring is a big deal at our house!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

First, please have a look at her amazing website:

https://www.rebeccakightlinger.com/

 

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

 

Interviewing Rebecca Kightlighter

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

Whistling maids and crowing hens

Should have their necks wrung early.

(Scheftelowitz, 1913; Jones 1880)

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

When the hen crows before the cock

and the woman speaks before the man,

then the hen should be roasted 

and the woman beaten with a cudgel. 

(Abbot, 1903)

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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This Month’s Working

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We cannot do this.

We need each other.

We need to build one another up.

This is the inspiration for my working.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessed Be!

***

About the Author:

Saoirse is a recovered Catholic.  I was called to the Old Ways at age 11, but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse, pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be reached through my Facebook page Tarot with Saoirse. You can, also, join me on my Youtube Channel

 

 

 

Worth the Witch

April, 2018

The City Witches

 

 

Wow, do we have a Gorgeous Box for you this month! This issue we feature a jam-packed recurring Monthly Subscription Box from The City Witches. Their boxes, called Magick Mail, can be bought one at a time & in 3-month, or 6-month subscriptions. Their prices range from $20 for an individual box to $120 for a subscription. The City Witches offer a new theme each month to their fully packed boxes! This month’s box … Magickal Workings for the Moons of the Month.

 

Three Informative Grimoire Pages

When you open your box you are greeted with 3 pages for your BOS. The first page describes the Moon Phases for Magickal Workings. Helpful addition to any Spellsbook. The second page teaches, briefly, how to create your own moon spells. The information suggested on this sheet are helpful and handy to have. The third sheet is a Full Moon Chant.

 

Purple Bag of Goodies

Next thing that catches my eye from my City Witches Box is a Purple Bag full of goodies!

The first thing I pull from the goody bag is a Star Shaped Wooden Incense Burner & it is adorable. I love how it can hold an incense cone and many sticks. This will be perfect in my next moonspell.

Next we have Amber Sugar Scrub Cubes. Opening the jar I find they are in the shapes of roses. Delightful! Just like their smell. I use them on my hands and the feeling I am left with when I dry off is a lovely softness.

The black little bag is Moon in Sagittarius Bath Salts. The smell is heavenly and I can not wait for the time to be right for it’s use. There is enough for a good soak or even two!

The little blue bag is a Mixture of Salts & Herbs to be burned or used in a bath. Unfortunately, I am not sure of it’s exact contents. I can smell lavender & see the salts.

A vial of Virgo Moon Oil is included in the bag of goodies. The bottle is a little tight a difficult to open. However, there seems to be a slight glitter to the oil! Glitter is always good to this Gal!

We get a small Vial of Black Salt. Good to add to the stash of supplies and to work moonmagick with!

A Chunk of Charcoal is included for the Bottle of Full Moon Powder Incense.  It comes out as a tuft, like a cloud from the jar. The smell is light, a slight heed to it’s sweetness. I think, up-to-date, this has been my favorite homemade incense so far. I just wish I knew what was in it.

Last, a few pieces of Sage to keep handy. Never know when you’ll need a quick cleanse. Convenient! It’s like a traveling MoonMagick Bag!

 

Black Candle

Over 7” tall black Blessed Candle “Drawing Down the Moon” for the New Moon by Coventry Creations, Inc. The candle reads it is for Beginnings, Innocence, and Creativity. The back of the candle explains about what a New Moon is, what it’s opportunity holds for you. This candles packaging is amazing. Not to mention the size they send in this box! But, are you ready for this…

 

White Candle

Another 7” tall white, this time, Blessed Candle “Drawing Down the Moon” for the Full Moon by Coventry Creations, Inc. The candle reads it is for Magic, Imagination, & Mystery. This candle explains and teaches about the Full Moon. These look very exciting to use.

 

Sage Smudge Stick

Next up I find SAGE!! A nice hunk of a Smudge Stick! This will last a long time

 

Clear Glass Bowl

This lovely glass bowl can fit in your hand. It is crystal clear. No blemishes. Beautiful for any altar. I am guessing it is included, being this is a moon box, for maybe moon cleansing. You can clean stones, tools, anything during these meaningful moon moments with your new Altar Bowl.

 

Three Gemstones in Gauze Bags

In two purple gauze bags you will find 3 large, polished gemstones. The stones are, from left to right; Fluorite, Malachite & Amazonite. The colors are vivid, and the patterns on the stones are sensational.  The sizes they sent are generous.

 

Huge Moonstone Point

This HUGE, solid, speckled moonstone point is amazing to view and to hold. You can feel the peaceful energy this sizeable piece of stone is bringing. It is a wonderful addition to anyone’s gemstone collection.

 

Moon Incense Sticks

Included in this recurring Monthly Subscription Box is a large box of HEM “The Moon” scented incense sticks. There are 20 sticks in this box. I’m impressed with the size they have included. Usually I see the smaller size, 5-10 sticks, enclosed in boxes. They are HEM so they are of good quality.

 

Witch’s Brew Oil

Crafted with Magic! Witch’s Brew Original…by Coventry Creations. Myrrh & Mugwort blend for a scent out of this world. The label reads “Ignite your Magic,” and you can smell the power. This is no cut-price blended oil, but an item made with skill.

 

Druzzy & Moonstone Necklaces

My next find in this amazing box is another little black box. It’s exciting to find jewelry inside. Not one piece, but two. Two gorgeous necklaces. A Black Druzzy & a Moonstone Point. Each has been placed on cording and ribbon for a lovely effect. On my path I have not worked with any druzzy stones, so I am not sure what their uses are. This is, however, a gorgeous piece, and I will be sure to look into what it’s uses are. The moonstone I do know. This eye-catching, point, suspended in copper is simply luxe.  An elegant way to keep the energy of moonstone with you everyday. They have included two new pieces of ritual jewelry for moon working.

 

Box of Gemstone Surprises

One more little black box contains a collection of Gemstone Surprises! Hiding in this box we receive another piece of jewelry, a lovely mixed gemstone, beaded bracelet. The beads are of medium size and the bracelet itself is 9 inches and is one size fits all, on stretch cording.

Next up in the box we find two cute moonstones. Perfect for pocket carrying.

Lastly, but not least we have a small selenite wand. Palm size. Shiney. I like the size for travel and easy quick use.

 

Moon Spell Magic Book

 

Click Image for Amazon Information

 

We are getting to the bottom of the box and two things remain…One being a book for our personal libraries on the boxes theme, the moon. Moon Spell Magic: Invocations, Incantations & Lunar Lore for a Happy Life by Cerridwen Greenleaf. The book teaches the lunar calendar and gives spells for every phase, demonstrates how to set up your own lunar altar, informs you about celestial Gods & Goddesses, and includes a plethora of spells & rituals you can perform on your own.

 

Journal

Stay Focused Because You Totally Got This. We do! Inspiring words outside, and on the heart bedecked inside, it says more…”I look forward to holding any thoughts, dreams, goals, *brilliant ideas, and AMAZING moments…” This box is sure to bring those, and this journal is now ours to record them. All the spells, rituals and things we learn on our way, about the Moon and all it contains. I think it is a lovely book to use as a Moon BOS.

 

My Overall Impression…

For the first time I am noticing a trend in the packaging everything comes in. There are bits of sage in them. What a beautiful way to cleanse, purify, & bless all you send. Every single gauze bag, small black box, and even the big box everything comes in itself has sage in it! I am very touched.

Now I want to mention the price. This box is bursting at the seams and I cannot believe how little they charge. Could they really be making money here?

I thoroughly loved this box for celebrating the moon. I feel all the contents went with the flow of the Moon Magick theme. I really found it gratifying how the company did not send you just tools and stash to help you celebrate, like candles & incense, or stones and jewelry to harness the moons power. Instead, they went the whole gambit, and by this I mean they sent you a method to really fully learn about the moon. They send you a book & a journal and tell you learn! They rally you to GO FOR IT! Now I have not reviewed the book. I do not know how good it is, but it is a starting point. The 3 BOS pages that are sent are a great starting point, as well…this box doesn’t just give you items, it encourages you!

 

Who is behind the inspiring Magick Mail Boxes from The City Witches?

None other than Jade Perri & Selene Serket. They were gracious enough to take some time to answer some questions for our readers about Magick Mail Monthly Subscription Boxes, their shop The City Witches, and Themselves. Here’s what they had to say…

 

PaganPagesOrg: How did the idea for a Monthly Subscription Box come to you?

Jade Perri & Selene Serket: The idea of the Monthly Magic Box, came to us, after subscribing to many ourselves and being unhappy with the contents. To us, getting a box monthly, themed for aiding us in our practice was very exciting. Many people do not have access to a metaphysical store near them, or they do not have the time to go shopping, or they do not know what to buy. It seemed to us, that if you could subscribe to a “magick” box each month, it would automatically come to you, and would contain items you could use to practice-not just a box full of random items. Our box contains relevant items to be used together or separately, all based on a certain theme. It is a nice way to also build up your stock, so you have everything you need, if you chose to use at a later date.

 

 

PaganPagesOrg: How did you begin your Boxes?

Jade Perri & Selene Serket: We began with a what we thought was a universal and important part of our craft. The Moon Magick Box. The Moon can represent New Beginnings, so we thought that would be perfect as our first box to introduce.

 

 

PaganPagesOrg: How do you choose each Box’s contents?

Jade Perri & Selene Serket: We choose what is in our Monthly Magick, based on the theme of the month. Each box contains approximately 10 items, that are all relevant to the theme. Normally each box’s base contains a ritual, a crystal, herbs or essential oil, items for your home or altar, as well as jewelry, a journal, and candles. Additional items will vary based on the theme of that month.

 

 

PaganPagesOrg: How do your Box Subscriptions work?

Jade Perri & Selene Serket: Our box can be purchased monthly, or as a subscription. It is more cost effective to purchase as a subscription box, for example, if you sign up for a 3-month subscription, you pay $75 ($25/per box) instead of $90. If you sign up for a 6-month subscription you pay $120 ($20/per box) versus $180. Boxes can be purchased for $30 individually.

 

 

PaganPagesOrg: Who are The City Withes?

Jade Perri & Selene Serket: The City Witches was created by two of us. Selene Serket and Jade Perri.

Selene is a a practicing eclectic High Priestess, who has been practicing for over 30 years. She is an experienced teacher and specializes in numerology, astrology readings, ritual magick, custom spells, and Sabbat rituals. She also has an extensive knowledge of all craft-related topics including Reiki and Chakras. In addition, she offers classes and certifications on many different topics such as A Year and a Day (Year 1-3), Chakra 101, and Crystal Magick. Selene is certified in Wicca High Priestess, Reiki Master and holds various Tarot, Crystal, Herbology and Astrology certifications.

Jade is an eclectic Witch has been practicing for more than 10 years and offers guidance on an array of topics. She specializes in divination from tarot cards, oracle cards, runes, and pendulums, as well as scrying and automatic writing. Jade also practices animal magick, dragon magick, and poppet magick. She is also an enthusiastic teacher and offers classes and certification in many different areas such as tarot classes and dragon magick.

 

 

PaganPagesOrg: What do the two of you enjoy besides working in The City Witches 🙂

Jade Perri & Selene Serket: Jade is married with two children and is the manager of her local animal shelter. She enjoys spending time with her family and advocating for homeless animals.

Selene lives with her furry family of 5 Himalayan Cats, she enjoys reading, spending time gardening, continuing her Wiccan Education through classes, and spending time with her friends.

 

 

PaganPagesOrg: What did you feel the Pagan community was missing to make you put your Box out?

Jade Perri & Selene Serket: We felt that with the options people have out there for monthly boxes, we wanted to design a box that was useful , fun, and educational. We wanted to really give our clients the best quality box for an affordable price. We also are lucky enough to work with other small businesses, such as Enchanted Reeveries, who provides items handmade from polymer clay, as well as Valessence Skin Care, who provide handmade bath products. We also include our own brand of handmade candles and essential oils.

We do not use printed boxes, or spend extra money on packaging, however, our boxes are stocked with everything they need for the month. What we save on packaging, we give back to our clients-each and every box contains additional free surprise gifts as a Thank You, to our customers.

The other option we offer, is that we do not pull our boxes once the month is up. They are available to our customers at any time. This is very helpful to customers, if they are unable to purchase during the month, they will not miss out-and can purchase anytime throughout the year.

 

Thank you Jade Perri & Selene Serket for this great interview. Your Magick Mail Subscription Boxes definitely live up to what you desired them to be and that is to all our benefit.

 

How can you get your own Magick Mail Subscription, visit The City Witches Shop, or Follow them? Just like this…

For the Direct Link to Magick Mail Subscription Choices & Back Log of Boxes Click HERE.

To Visit The City Witches Shop Online Click HERE.

You Can Like & Follow The City Witches on Facebook by Clicking HERE.

They are, also, on Instagram as thecitywitches.

***

About the Author:

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

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

March, 2018

Egg Spells

Merry meet.

Eggs are one of Ostara’s most prevalent associations. Like all seeds, it contains the promise of a new life. It is a potent symbol of fertility because it contains the power to become something: a chicken, a turtle, a bird, a fish. Eggs are a symbol of abundance, prosperity and the rebirth of nature. In some traditions, the entire universe is portrayed as an egg. That makes them very magickal.

At Ostara, the Wheel of the Year is perfectly balanced. Day and night are of equal length. Masculine and feminine, inner and outer, dark and light are also balanced as the world begins to come alive. Imbolc’s whispered hopes become Ostara’s actions. At this moment, the light defeats the dark. The power is expansive and exuberant.

To harness Ostara energy in a spell, let an egg be the seed that will bring forth your desires. Inscribe it with symbols, pictures or words for abundance, joy, healing, strength, security, laughter or whatever you can imagine and feel yourself possessing. Consider dying the egg in a corresponding color, such as green for abundance, fertility, or eco-magic; and red for will, strength, passion or purification. Yellow corresponds with laughter, thought, travel, communication, happiness, freedom and beginnings; while blue can be used for healing, compassion, love and dreams.

As you decorate the egg, infuse it with the feeling of already having these qualities, of having reached the goal or of having had the wishes come true. Clear your mind and hold the egg as you continue to add your energy to it with breath, song, dance or words, focusing on your desires and their place in your life.

Then, on Ostara night, bury it, perhaps in a garden, as an offering to Mother Earth, and know that as it transforms and feeds the earth, it feeds and transforms what you wish to manifest.

You can also use an egg as a spell bottle of sorts.

First, make holes at both ends of the egg and blow the contents into a small container to be used for recipes. Rinse out the empty shell and let it dry.

Write your spell on a piece of paper small enough that you can roll it up and slip it into the hole at one end of the egg. You might want to include symbols, anoint it with an oil related to your desires and perhaps include corresponding botanicals before rolling it up.

Once it is inside, seal the holes by dripping melted candle wax on them.

Place the egg at the base of a special tree and ask it to guard your workings, adding its strength to yours.

If you have other spells involving eggs, please share on our Facebook page so that we all might benefit from your experience.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

***

About the Author:

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

Book Review – Vocal Magick: The User-Friendly Guide to Your Most Adaptable Ritual Tool By Bill Duvendack

March, 2018

Vocal Magick: The User-Friendly Guide to Your Most Adaptable Ritual Tool

By Author Bill Duvendack

 

Mr. Bill Duvendack is a well-known astrologer, specifically an esoteric astrologer, psychic teacher, and author. With over 30 years of study and practice, he is well-versed on matters of which he writes. He teaches classes online webinars through Kepler College, and in person at shops in the Metro St. Louis area. He is also available for private consultations.

Mr. Duvendack gives a brief history of what communication and vocal vibration are, without weighing down the subject. His writing style is straightforward. His writing is not dry, but witty and fun to read. Reading the book is easy. He covers how language connects to the culture it is used in, the semantics of the words you choose in ritual and how they have weight behind them. The depth of knowledge he shows in his writing gives credence to the number of years he had studied before he took up this subject. In this book, he also gives you clarity on how to use what insight you gain to work better at bringing to life the reality you want to create for yourself and the world.

In Vocal Magick, the author covers universal and karmic laws, as well as learning to recognize and be aware of the words you choose in your everyday language. Mr. Duvendack talks about removing ego from the conversation; he shares the story of the rubber band that he used so that he could remove the word “I” from talks. The author also talks about how the words you use when speaking with others gives them an insight into how you perceive the world. This book is about learning to control not only your communications but also your thought processes.

One of the things that Mr. Duvendack explains in this book is that when you vocalize something, the visual audience that you see isn’t the only audience listening. We all know that we have spirit guides, Ascended Masters, and others on the astral plane that hear us. By paying attention to how we use our language, we control what we build on the astral plane. Early in the book, the author talks about using mudras to amplify what you’re saying. You can do this in a way that your audience can’t tell what you are doing.

I like this book, and I have recommended it to a couple of shop owners who are not in the Metro St. Louis area, and they are looking forward to carrying it in their shop. You can also contact the author through his website to get “Vocal Magick” or any of his other books or attend some of his Webinars.

 

For Amazon Information Click Image

 

***

About the Author:

Dawn Borries loves reading and was thrilled to become an E-Book reviewer for PaganPages.Org. Dawn, also, has been doing Tarot and Numerology readings for the past 25 years. Dawn does readings on her Facebook page.  If you are interested in a reading you can reach her at: https://www.facebook.com/Readings-by-Dawn-1608860142735781/

The Bad Witch’s Guide

February, 2018

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Imbolc


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


January was called Wolf month in Anglo-Saxon. Where the starving creatures ventured into villages snapping at the young and helpless, just like the bitter winter winds. January stalks through the cold and damp towards the wet helplessness of Imbolc, lambing season.


There is power in that fragility, in the force of hope. Power in the vulnerability to decide to grow and reach towards the light. February can feel more like winter than December weather wise at least in the British Isles. Sometimes we get unexpected sunshine and warmth, but for the most part it’s sleet, snow, high winds and driving rain.

 

(Brigid Imbolc Corn Dollie by Carlie Bodey of GreenWitchGlamour on etsy.)


Imbolc to me makes more sense if it is part Valentine’s Day, part Mother’s day, part birthing ritual. It is a celebration of hope and the power of love. Sexual love, motherly love and love of life. Brides (Brigid dolls and crosses) are usually the decorations but in truth in our house, we usually finally take our live tree from Yule outside. It is still covered in lights but the ornaments are packed away long ago. We have a Spring clean. I might set up a small altar or temporary shrine to spring.


Breed day, Brides day, all have a sense of sexual expectation I can never seem to muster at this time of year. It is still too cold to shave my legs! I grew up on a farm and much like Lughnasadh represents the frantic hot work of getting the hay harvest in rather than some languid holiday revelry; Imbolc is lambing season. You might have to herd sheep in from one place to another. Bring them in (or let them out, weather dependant) and hunt for stray ewes and small grey bundles abandoned on the luridly green grass. It is cold work. Usually having to be done gloveless. It lacks the communal jovial atmosphere a lot of other seasonal farm jobs have. There is loss and death aplenty. Little miracles happen too.


After all these years I can’t get the after-birth off my hands. I can’t get my hands warm, my feet either to this festival. I don’t hate it. Imbolc is necessary. Birthing is hard. It is dangerous. Liminal and primal. It is a labour. A labour of love. It is where all the loving words are blown away by the roaring wind and your actions really matter. It is what you do, here and now that counts.


I guess this is why I struggle with the whole modern idea of fasting and dieting around January. It feels punitive when everything already feels hard. The weather’s awful. A lot of people are sick. It feels counterintuitive to try and throw yourself into some fake “good” mood. I usually like January. For me and my family it is full of birthdays. And yet, and yet this anticipation of the grind, the work ahead feels overwhelming. So this year I am going to give someone who really needs some love some attention: me.
Just do the one thing that needs doing now. Then the next thing. One breath at a time. Keeping your head where your hands are. One step. One moment after the next. I’m going to try and stop myself from berating myself at how much I have not done, and try and celebrate what I do.


My bad witch self is going to clean and bless my space. Then I’m putting on a playlist designed to be impossible to feel sad or sluggish while playing. I might even eat some good stinky cheese (maybe even goat or sheep cheese) to honour the milk, blood and labour. Then I’m going to look at my “to do list” and try not to wince! I might feel up to doing something fancier on the full moon but I’m not going to force myself to “go through the motions” when all I want to do is hibernate!


Self-care and self-love seem to be so far down most folk’s lists of stuff to do. I have many of the women I know running families, jobs and education who refuse to stay home when they are sick because they “don’t have time to be ill”. Women are routinely told to put themselves last and in the spirit of the birthing season I ask you to give yourself the same compassion and support you give others because you cannot fill others from an empty cup. You don’t have to be everything to be enough.

 

Spell- Rite (You are Worthy)


You will need:


Feel good music (the only rule is that it makes you feel happy)
“Naughty” food, be it ice-cream, stinky cheese or a decadent veggie-burger.
Hot bath or shower.
Candle (scented or otherwise)
Incense (something sweet like amber)


Firstly have a long hot shower or soak in a bath. Use your best products, add some salt. Scrub it all off.


Next in your ritual wear. You can either, dress up the nines. Go all out, or put on your most comfortable ‘jammies or nightwear.


Light your candle and say


I light this fire to remind myself to shine. I am of the same radiant light and I am worthy.”


Then light your incense and say:


“I light this fire to remind myself to find faith in myself. I am of the same breath and I am worthy.”


Just sit for a moment and take in the light and sweet smoke. Then put on your playlist and grab your food and feast. Sing-along, dance, and enjoy.


When you are done extinguish your candle and if you like you can keep this as your self-love candle. You can light it if the day is dark and scary and remind yourself you are worthy. Learning to love yourself is important and honours the gift that the Old Ones have given you.

 

Affairs of the Pagan Heart

January, 2018

Happy New Year and Happy Carmentalia!

Carmentalia is two separate feast dates honouring the Roman goddess Carmenta. It is said that she could see back in the past as well as forward into the future at the same time, and her history is rife with protests and standing ones ground. At one point the Roman Senate denied certain privileges to women during the Second Punic War but didn’t immediately reinstate those privileges once the war had ended. As a mass of people started to grow to discuss and argue about this inequality, women from all over the countryside joined in, first gathering in the Carmentis gardens at the foot of Capitoline hill. They went as far as refusing to work on their husbands’ stock, and in some extreme cases even inducing abortion as a form of protest until privileges were restored.

They saw what they had, they saw what they lost, and they could see how it would affect them in future. And they did something about it. Celebrating Carmentalia honours the early efforts of these Roman women.

Observing Carmentalia can be for our own hearts as well. What can we do to attract love to our lives? What can we do to improve our sexual relationships? How can we nurture the connections we already have? What can we learn from the goddess of fertility and prophecy who cared for all womankind to in turn care for all mankind? It’s different for everyone.

We’ve see what we have had and if we look hard enough we can see what we’ve lost, and we can therefore prepare ourselves for the future. New Year’s Eve is a time when people make resolutions for change in the coming year. We vow to do better, lose weight, save money, stop smoking, etc, because we can see what we deemed was wrong or bad or off in the past and how it can be better in future – how we can be better in future. The changing of the year allows us to start fresh on a particular day when we would physically or metaphorically be switching out the calendar for a new one. We leave the past behind and focus firmly on the future.

Carmentalia was celebrated on two nights, January 11 and January 15, with a feast and celebration for achieving one’s goals. Two weeks into the New Year we can already see if our New Year’s Resolutions had an impact or if they were just words left spoken.

Start by burning some bay leaves as incense and offer popana cakes (a type of bureka) and milk and think on the following Carmentalia prayer:

With pious rite I call out, I summon, I entice with songs that You come forth, Carmenta,

And look favorably upon the matrons of our families.

In You, dearest Mother, in Your hands we place our safekeeping.

In offering to You this cake of cheese I pray good prayers

in order that, pleased with this offering of popana,

May You be favorable towards our children and to us,

Towards our homes and our households.

May Carmenta be favourable to you, your hearts, and your homes. And may you have a bright and blessed New Year!

***

About the Author:

Rev. Rachel U Young is a pagan based in Toronto, Canada. She is a licenced Wedding Officiant and under the name NamasteFreund she makes handfasting cords and other ceremonial accessories. She is also the Chair of Toronto Pagan Pride Day.

The Bad Witch’s Guide

January, 2018

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Poppets

 

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


As someone who has only relatively recently learned to sew I had to get crafty with poppets. I am quite cool about substitutes like onions and lemons (as someone who LOVES to cook).


Salt dough

 


I started making my own salt dough for my family early on. I do suggest food colouring (and gloves) at least in the mixing stage otherwise it has a tendency to go a bit gray. Equal parts flour and salt with warm water added a bit at a time until it reaches a dough. You can add an oil to make it a bit more pliable but if you mix it then chill it it should work better without. Salt dough can be used to make decorations, altar pieces for Sabbat, and poppets to heal, or otherwise. To harden it drying it out in a low oven is best, but it does dry to a hard texture, a bit like crumbly clay.

 

Clay

 


Clay is old school! You can buy air clay and you won’t need to dry it in an oven or you could let it dry out slower. Again it quite hard when finished and you might need to “poppet it” (add openings, names and so on) before it’s dry. You can mix herbs and things into the clay but this will effect it’s structural qualities too. If you are going for a bigger poppet you will probably need an armature. An armature is a skeleton within an object to give it a structure. Small ones might need only a single piece of thin wire down the middle. Bigger poppets might need a wire body. Clay holds onto paint well when dried and if you are a person who paints well this can be valuable.

 

Fabric

 


Fabric cut out with wool or other stuffings make a cheap and useful poppet. They take pins and other objects pretty well. You can put hair, or an old piece of clothes inside. You can add cursing herbs or spices and they soak up oils really well. It’s definitely a different experience than the clay or dough. An accomplished person can knock one out in very little time, but the rest of us it might take more than an evening. It’s lightweight and easy to carry with you.

 

Wood

 


There are a couple of ways you can make wooden poppets. You can use the carving method which requires a lot of skill and tools. The peg method (a wooden clothes peg can make a quick and useful poppet in a pinch). Or you can make a bundle doll. A simple cross bundle bound with thread can make and excellent poppet or spirit doll. You can use all kinds of woods, all kinds of thread, from silks to rough jute and soak it in oils or tinctures. You can glue the threads or even wax them (making them easier to burn in a fire) to keep the binding together. You can of course combine materials and use clay and the like to make the thread hold. You can make it as simple or as complicated as you like.


Wool

 


I am a crafty witch, in all senses and I got into needle-felting recently and I love it. It’s sculpting with pointy needles! While you do need wool and felting needles (which can vary in price a lot) a simple set is not that expensive. What you don’t pay in money, prepare to pay in blood! No needle felter doesn’t stab themselves (with varying degrees of pain and blood loss) while making things. Sure you can by leather finger protectors but I never stab myself in the same place twice! That said you can make rather good likenesses, have a whole spectrum of colours and shades of wool to choose from and with an armature you can make them quite big. I have been making a lot of fae dolls this way (they just want to be made) and there is this strange alive quality to them even before they are finished.

 

Roots and Vegetables

 


From pumpkins to turnips we have been carving faces for a very long time of vegetables. My turnip head is still there from Samhain last year (and yes it’s terrifying). You can carve or make poppets from roots like ginger and even odd shaped carrots, or just parts like heads, or phallic symbols in all kinds of vegetables. They do perish (some more quickly than others) which can be great (or not) depending on what you want. Can be burned reasonably safely and put in rushing water without too much issue (polluting is bad people). You can also squish them quite well too, should you feel the need and compost with clear(ish) conscience. Being as they tend to be wet (ooh er) things like photographs, or other connections can be damaged in trying get them into the poppet. That said that might be a bonus and they take pins and such really well.

 

Wax

 


This is one I don’t often use but one of my friends is great at this one! They are not “pretty” but they have such a power to them. Good for a short sharp shock. They burn well (obviously) and if you do it right they burn themselves! So try and make sure if you are using a wicked candle to try and keep it central to the poppet. A candle, a craft knife and a hot spoon to smooth things out are all you need. It’s a cheap and powerful way to make poppets. You can of course buy and melt wax and sculpt it from scratch but it requires a double boiler and a lot of patience. This way means you can add oils, herbs, hair, photographs and so on. They take pins well and if you leave in a cool place can last a long time. No so great for throwing in water but good for jar work and fire work.

 

Grasses, Cornstalks, Such Like

 

 

Corn dollies are a very old poppet material. Good wheat stems can vary on how easy they are to find and there are hundreds of ways to weave these little lovelies. Dependent on the material weaving can be a simple or complicated business. It’s more like stalk origami than true weaving but you get some lovely pieces. They are a lot of work and you might not want to use them as a poppet unless you are really pressed. That said they are a beautiful and ancient form of poppet and it would be remiss of me to leave them out. They can last years, but don’t take pins well. You could use them as a basic armature for something like clay on top.
A good poppet is what you need in the moment. Whether it is for healing, focusing a group spell or cursing the crap out of someone making your own is an empowering and therapeutic thing.

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Yule

December, 2017

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Yule

I’m always a bad witch, but apparently I really suck at this Yuletide thing. I mean I make my own gifts! I like snow! When people say “season’s greetings” or “Merry Christmas” I smile and mean it! I’m a monster!

The cynical average British Pagan just sort of rolls their eyes at me. I don’t Cringle early. I spend November and December making gifts and decorations (I’m a bit slow this year but we have been adjusting to new medication this year, but I have plans)! I don’t even go and get really drunk!

I mean I clearly suck at this witching thing!

Of course it can be a pain! Its hard work, it’s expensive (though often nowhere near as costly as Samhain in our house). I know you get pine needles in the carpet, but the tree! Ah the tree! We put up our tree either on Yule itself or the day before. It’s always real. Always in soil.

It’s the smell to me. Is it even Yuletide without the smell of pine, holly and orange and clove? The energy of bring a living being into your home. Changes it. It is magickal.

We have handmade ornaments, ones we make each year and ones me made when my daughter was very little. The sun star that goes a top our tree is one she made when she was about 5 or 6 years old from air clay, acrylic paint and ribbon. To me it’s treasure! We always had a candy cane (not a very British treat) to eat while we decorate. We always listen to Jethro Tull and sing along.

The other ornaments are made of cinnamon quills, star anise and dried orange slices, florists wire and ribbon. We make tradition Christmas cakes with lots of fruit steeped in spiced rum, covered in marzipan and snow white icing. No neon red cherries though. We would make in loaf shapes and large rounds dependant on who was getting them. Single folk don’t tend to want to buy a big cake just for themselves but enjoy it.

The fruit perplexes many modern folks especially in America. Yet raisins, plums and dried fruit were mixed with sugar and spice as a herbal remedy to coughs, colds and infections right up until the beginning of of the 20th century. Spiced fruit became traditional, medical and they added some dried breadcrumbs or flour! Minced pies are medicinal! That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

The biggest mistake folks make with their dried fruit is just that! They leave it dry! The fruit was only dried because it needed to be preserved. In the food dried fruit was soaked sometimes in strong black tea with spices or with alcohol! Merry Christmas comes from being merry, which meant drunk! Once the fruit as steeped sometimes overnight sometimes longer, then it’s ready for pies, and cakes!

Come on though! It all sounds like far too much hard work! I mean it’s just a day!” A day? Don’t let folks rob you! Yule is two weeks! Two weeks of family, food and gifts! Now some of you might think this is excessive and more work, but actually removing the pressure and spreading it out makes it a much better holiday! We tend to trim and decorate the tree on the solstice (on the 21st of December) and have in the evening our big meal). The first of our gifts are given. Our daughter might have got her main gift on the solstice or later. Each morning having what would be a stocking filler. Again this means no gift is unappreciated. Each gets its own moment! It isn’t lost in the crush of “OPEN EVERYTHING”. It is quite common for us to open our home to pagans and non-pagans alike whom might not be having a great time. Maybe they don’t have a family to celebrate with. Maybe it’s a break-up. Maybe they are just sad. We sit down and feast together. A roast bird and all the trimmings! I confess I’m lucky as while I do a lot of meal prep my husband cooks the dinner. It is his way of honouring his grandmother who was like a mother to him.

It’s quite odd, but my favourite day is usually the 22nd, because everyone else is in a panic and well, all I have to do is the dishes! I tend to try and make this day “be kind to retail staff day”. I really smile. I say thank you and mean it. I know what fresh hell retail can be!

I might have other meals (when my family and my husband’s Pops was around sometimes we’d do a Christmas day meal too) or Boxing Day (which was traditionally the servant’s day off to celebrate Christmas in the UK). Yet given the choice we declare it a duvet day, watch Doctor Who and eat left-overs and fish finger sandwiches (fish sticks).

Yuletide and the mid-winter season has become a lot about “stuff”. Yet if you let it, if you let go of the cynicism, and rush, if you make it, it really is magickal. Of course you can do rituals and rites. Mix a little “mojo” with your “ho ho ho” but you have to let it in! It’s the spirit of giving, of kindness, of new beginnings!

 

 

Tree Blessing

A candle

A handful of compost or earth

A sprig of holly

An acorn or dried oak leaves

Fresh green ivy.

Incense (your own blend but frankincense, myrrh and cinnamon works well)

Water.

 

Carefully (and you might need gloves) holding the holly and ivy walk around the tree three times clockwise. This can be spoken but it is better sung.

The holly and the ivy,

When they are both full grown,

Of all the trees,

That are in the wood, the holly bears the crown.

The rising of the sun!

The running of the deer!

The playing of the merry music

Sweet singing to inspire!”

 

The ivy is then tapped gently against the tree three times. Then the holly. Then they are both then put aside.

Lord and Lady of the Forest dream.”

Spirit of the resting green,

A vessel hear our words:

Spring will come.

Warm winds will blow.

[Waft and blow incense onto the tree]

Water will again flow.

[Pour a little water onto the roots of the tree.]

Earth will again make things grow.

[Place compost at the base of the tree. Light candle.]

Fire, the suns light shall glow.

[Walk the candle around the tree clock-wise. And place on your altar or hearth.]

The oak King is born! The sun is returning! *spoken*

*sung* Joy to the world!

The Lord has again come!

Let Earth receive her King!

Let every heart prepare Him room!

Heaven and nature sing!

Heaven and nature sing!

Heaven, heaven and nature sing!”

You could now dress and decorate the tree. Eat sweet treats and maybe even sup a glass of spicy mulled wine! Eat! Drink! Be merry and bright! With all of my bad witch heart bright blessings and seasons greetings!

 

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

December, 2017

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times December 2017

Bright Blessings!

With Yule just around the corner, you are likely planning festivities, gatherings, and family nights!

Growing up, of course, my family celebrated Christmas, and large scale was the rule. Everybody sent cards, bought gifts, planned dinners and lunches, and I can say Christmas for many of my family members was one of the biggest events of the year.

After I moved out, and started my own traditions, I scaled back the complicated Christmas festivities, and after converting to Paganism, reduced it further to just a single day for Sabbat. The Winter Solstice is a big deal for me, because I am so happy about the fact the sun will grow stronger, and “be reborn”.

I typically do a firepit fire, and libations alone, although I’ve attended public Sabbat and officiated for friends before.

Many different topics can be explored in Pagan Yule or Winter Solstice observances, but this year, instead if exploring things related to the Wiccan or Heathen male gods rebirth, the topic will be mothers.

Yule and Mothers Night

Anglo Saxon Pagans, according Bede, writing in the 8th century:

… began the year on the 8th calends of January [25 December], when we celebrate the birth of the Lord. That very night, which we hold so sacred, they used to call by the heathen word Modranecht, that is, “mother’s night”, because (we suspect) of the ceremonies they enacted all that night.”

They supposedly venerated the Disir, or the mothers, mother goddesses, protective mother ancestors, and held sacrifices in their honor. They gathered, feasted,

Yule lasted three days in Pre Christian days, but a lot of modern people observe it for twelve days, beginning December 20 or 21, with Mother’s Night being the first thing observed. Many do a ritual honoring the protective female mother ancestors and goddesses. Some give food or other gifts to them, light candles for them, and ask them to protect, watch over, bless, and ensure good coming harvest.

Some sources state Mother’s Night was the final festivity in Yule, and it was observed then in honor of the goddess Frigg. She wove people’s fate for the new year on that day, which was counted as New Years, and Frigg was honored. It was said she had knowledge of the future, but would not tell anybody what it was! She also was unable to alter the future, as evidenced by the fact she foresaw her son Balder’s death, and try as she could, she was unable to avert it.

I have attended candle lighting ceremonies Norse friends observe for some of the twelve days. They do candlelight vigils all night, with a prayer on the hour every hour, and network with one another from household to household if they can’t do it all under the same roof.

Of course, it is the women/ Matrons of our community who do this.

Some of these women have moved out of state, and some are no longer in contact with one another, but those marathon candlelight vigils are one of many things that are still maintained by almost all of the women to this day.

This is an appropriate introduction, I think for this month’s topic.

Mothers, and most specifically, mothers who have lost children.

Somebody’s Mother

I had the privilege of reviewing the beautiful film Somebody’s Mother, which was created by The Tollman Sisters, Gabriela and Evelyne. It’s been very successful in the US, and is headed to China!

I watched the film, myself and I recommend it. It’s a film that will make you think, and gets right to the difficult to face, let alone discuss issues that come when you lose a child.

As somebody who has been trying to have children for twenty years, and have been unable to, this film really hit home. The Tollman sisters explored so many of the things you deal with after such loss.

In the film, one sister’s baby died, and the other loses custody of her son after inability to take care of him that was not in any way her fault, and that she never meant to happen.

In the instance of losing custody due to inability to care for a child, the number one thing I see happening in the lives of my loved ones who have children is they become so focused on making their kids their all, they become completely unaware of their own needs at times. This is due to the great love they have for their children that compares to nothing else in their lives, and to a loving parent, no sacrifice for their children is too great. It can mean that sometimes, they don’t know how to ask for help, and they forget that even parents need support too. The topic specifically explored is postpartum depression, which I have seen more than one mother I love deal with it.

In the instance of the death of a child, I have been told by more than one parent that the death of a child is something you never fully recover from, and one that literally takes a part of your heart away that you never get back.

The stages of grief are explored intimately from the viewpoint of both sisters, and done in such a way that viewers can relate.

The film takes a very compassionate view of suffering many films exploring pain lack. At one point, in the film , it was said “I don’t know why I needed to go through it…I don’t know why I needed such pain.”

The film shows how loss of a child impacts the relationships of the parents of the children with one another. I don’t have the statistics of how many people’s marriages or engagements are called off when a child dies, but I’ve seen it happen quite a lot. The film presented a relationship surviving, and another not surviving.

The film portrays the inability to function normally in your own life after such a loss, and the great lengths people go to in order to keep up appearances, so people leave you alone about what happened. Sometimes, not talking about something that is tearing you apart emotionally is part of coping with it. It also shows how sometimes, that is absolutely impossible, however, and many of us have endured well meaning questions after losing a child we are not ready for like “ When will you have another baby?”

The love of sisters and how they are one another’s number one supporter, and closest friend in good times, and bad is intimately portrayed. It is a beautiful testament of the Tollman sisters devotion and love for one another as well.

Finally, the film shows how to pick up the pieces after unspeakable tragedy, and find hope for the future.

The link to the film’s pages follow, as well as a trailer.

http://www.somebodysmotherfilm.com/

https://www.facebook.com/SomebodysMotherfilm/

 

Trailer-

https://www.facebook.com/SomebodysMotherfilm/videos/504423143047518/

 

This film is now available on Amazon. Click Image below for more information:

 

Interviewing Gabriela Tollman

I had the opportunity to ask Gabriela Tollman some intimate questions she lovingly answered. Her words are as heartfelt and nurturing as the film.

 

Saoirse- Some of the women I interviewed about loss of their children are deeply suffering, even decades later. Some wanted to share, but could not bring themselves to talk about it. What words of advice, healing, and wisdom do you have for women dealing with loss of their children, be it through death, or loss of their living children?

 

Gabriela- It is an intensely painful experience to live through the loss of an infant, and it has been important for to let myself cry all of my tears. I spent two to three years crying. What helped me cope and carry on was the understanding that everything that happens in life has a reason. I know this idea does not comfort everyone, but it helped me. I began to see the events of my life, and the loss of my baby Charlie as a way to further advance the development of my soul. I also found many healers and teachers who helped me. Brian Weiss’ book Many Lives Many Masters was integral to helping me transform my pain into a spiritual lesson. Other books and healers that resonated with me are Anita Moorjani Dying to Be Me, and A Course in Miracles.

 

Saoirse-What do you recommend to these women to find strength when their own strength seems to vanish?

 

Gabriela- Writing down my story was an immense help for me. I wrote down anything I was feeling, thoughts and ideas in journals. These writings eventually became part of our film, Somebody’s Mother. Creativity of any kind helps transcend circumstance. It allows one to rise above and take control of grief and pain instead of it controlling you.

 

Saoirse- In what do you find comfort when it seems things are at their worst, to get you through until things are better?

 

Gabriela- As mentioned above, writing and creating helped me transform. Other practices that have helped me transform the pain are meditation. I practice transcendental meditation and this truly was the tipping point in getting me through that horrifying pain of grief. TM allowed me to find a place of peace inside myself, and release the oppressive negativity, anger, denial, fear and anxiety of grief. It is an incredible tool for all types of trauma and grief recovery. I also practice yoga, hiking, swimming, and am a certified hypnotherapist. Hypnosis is extremely effective for those who have a difficult time meditating, as it delves into the subconscious where I find peace and answers.

 

Saoirse- If you are religious, how does your personal devotion carry you in these times of grief? If you are atheist, but philosophical, how does your personal philosophy and values do the same? 

 

Gabriela- One of my favorite quotes is by David Bowie “Religion is for those who are afraid of hell, spirituality is for those who have already been there.” I am spiritual. The works of Brian Weiss, an MD, hypnotherapist, writer and teacher changed my life. He writes a lot about past lives and lessons that we need to experience in the flesh in order to grow, evolve, transcend and raise our vibrations. Another brilliant healer and teacher that I follow especially in difficult times is the work of Marianne Willamson. Her teachings of A Course In Miracles help me find understanding. A COURSE IN MIRACLES offers a lesson for each day of the year, which is an incredible practice for self-healing and transformation.

 

More on this beautiful film follows the working at the bottom of this article.

 

The Mothers Stories

I could write volumes about how my personal miscarriage and being childless breaks my heart, but instead I reached out to friends who have lost their children. Their names are changed for confidentiality, but they were good enough to share their own heartbreaking stories with me, and all of you.

First, my friend Patty lost a child to death, and custody of another.

Here is our conversation about it:

 

Patty- In 1998, I gave birth to Anthony Joeseph Oliver. He only lived 3 days. He was born on March 14th and died March 17th. He had potters syndrome.

Me- Oh gods! How does it make you feel?

Patty- Kind of bad still, but it gets easier. I also have a daughter who I don’t get to see who turned 18 in May. I wanted so badly for her to know Anthony, her big brother. He would have been 20 in March.

Me- I wish that had happened for them too. Have you ever been able to get a hold of your daughter?

Patty- No, but I’m hoping she tries to find me. I think she lives in Missouri. I miss them. It’s kind of hard to talk about it.

Our discussion ended at that point. Patty just couldn’t bear to talk anymore, and I understand. My prayer is she is able to make contact with her living daughter.

 

The next woman I interviewed is 20 year old Jade, who lost her child very recently.

This is her story;

Marceline was a very healthy baby up until the last two weeks I carried her. I was seeing Riverside doctors as well as Knox Community doctors. KCH refused to coordinate my care with Riverside, and wouldn’t believe me when I said she was ten days ahead of development.

Since I’m a Type 1 Diabetic, Marcy was already going to be bigger than a baby from a low-risk mother. I started going into labor at about 34 weeks, but KCH said I was too early, and stopped me. I went into labor again at about 36 weeks, and they didn’t really stop me since I was at the minimum week requirement, but they were going to give me a steroid shot for her lungs.

They had warned me about it last time I went into labor, and I had asked Riverside how it would affect me. They said I didn’t need it, and if they gave it to me it would possibly send me into Diabetic Ketoacidosis, which would hurt my baby. I told KCH I didn’t need it, and they told me I was getting it whether I liked it or not.

About a week after that, I went in for a non-stress test, which I did twice weekly. I was scheduled for 10:00AM. I switched rooms three times, and they took an hour trying to find her heartbeat. They brought in an ultrasound machine to see if they could find it, but the machine wasn’t functioning properly. The next two weren’t, either. It was about noon at this point, and I’m already panicking.

I was already at a higher risk for a stillborn birth, and I was afraid that’s what was happening. Mike, my fiancé, was watching the monitor since I couldn’t see it. He told me that the cord was wrapped twice around her neck, and he could see her heart and circulation stop.

The doctor that was operating the machine told me, “I’m so sorry, but your baby has passed away. We can’t find her heartbeat.” I feel like I screamed, but I was in so much shock that I can’t remember clearly. I remember crying that entire day. It took them another two hours to start me on a Pitocin drip, and another two to start the epidural. I had to lay with my dead child laying still in my belly, because they were forcing me to deliver vaginally.

They told me that I run the risk of not healing properly from a C-section. I honestly would’ve taken that risk if it meant they could revive Marceline. I had to lie and wait until late that evening before I could deliver her. It was over an hour that I was in labor. Marcelne had shoulder dystocia, and was stuck in my pelvis. My pelvis was too small for her. They were using the vacuum on her.

I remember screaming, and feeling everything, even with the epidural. Mike, Mom, and my best friend Mickey all saw the cord around her neck, and heard the doctor say, “Oh, that’s wrapped tight.” I saw her turn a little to block Mike from seeing her cut the cord. Marcy was born at 1:16AM on Sunday, July 9th, 2017. They let Mike cut the cord, then laid her on my chest.

The skin on her cheeks had started to slough off from the cord strangling her. When I let Mike take her and hold her, they wouldn’t let me up to see him. I don’t remember much after that, and I think I had fallen asleep. The next morning the nurses had brought her in so I could see her. Her poor little hands were so cold. Her lips were so dark they were nearly black. I remember sobbing as I held her and being so afraid to touch her, thinking she would disintegrate if I did. When everyone had left the room, and it was just Mom and I with her, we sang her her lullaby, Loch Lomond.

I begged her to just come back to me, to us. I told her how much we loved her and how badly she was wanted, and how I was so sorry this happened to my poor little fox. She weighed 8lbs. 12oz., was 20.5 inches long, and looked exactly like I did when I was born. I didn’t get to hold her anymore after that. I could barely hold myself together; I barely can now.

The doctor also told me it was my fault she died, saying it was complications from diabetes that killed her. They also tried talking us out of getting an autopsy done on her. The autopsy results were eight pages long, and there was only one thing that may have been linked to my diabetes, but was not the ultimate cause for her inter-uterine demise.”

It is my prayer that the blessings from the goddess be upon my beautiful friend that she may become a mother of healthy children, and that she may heal from this terrible tragedy.

 

The next woman who shared her story was Mary.

I was 16 when I found out I was pregnant. I was in and out of group homes for most of my teen years, so I was actually kind of excited that I would finally have someone who loved me who didn’t get paid to. (Teen logic). A few weeks later, I went to a party with some friends in a nearby hotel. I was the only one there not drinking. My baby’s life was too important to me.

Everyone was passed out on the beds in piles, except for me and one guy who was still drinking. I’d noticed him before, and he was cute, but I was in a relationship, so he was off limits. Besides, he was a cop’s kid, and he drank way too much, knowing he could get away with anything. I shook my head and decided to use the bathroom and find a place to go to sleep. He followed me to the bathroom. I won’t go into details, but he raped me on the bathroom floor, and no one even woke up. The next morning, I left before anyone else stirred. Once he had left the bathroom, I had spent the night curled up crying on the bathroom floor, so I was able to tiptoe out unnoticed. I called my best friend and asked her to come get me. She lived nearly two hours away, but she came, and instead of taking me home, she took me back to her house.

That night, I started spotting. Being so young, I had no idea what to do. I didn’t tell anyone, just got a pad and pretended everything was fine…until it wasn’t. By the next afternoon, I was bleeding heavily and having stomach pains so bad I couldn’t stand. I told my best friend what was going on, and she and some friends who were at the house took me to the ER. Of course, by then, it was too late to save the baby. That opportunity had passed the day before, if it ever even existed.

After the miscarriage, things are kind of a blur. However, I do remember what the doctor told me after my D&C. “You’ll never be able to get pregnant again. It was a miracle you were ever able to in the first place. And if you do manage to get pregnant, you won’t be able to carry a baby to term.” Just a few months later, I was pregnant again. This time, she was nearly a month late.

I was in the custody of DCS when I had my daughter. Less than two weeks after I had her, I turned 18. I told my case worker I wouldn’t leave the home for young mothers when I turned 18. I lied. I left on my birthday. She was livid, and actually tried to have my daughter taken from me. I fought like I had never fought before. No one was ever going to take THIS child away. I’d have died first.

Because of the miscarriage, and because I knew she would likely be my only child, I grew up and threw myself into motherhood head first. The late 80s were a time when almost all moms bottle fed their children, and preferred strollers and bouncy seats to skin on skin contact. I nursed my daughter, and improvised a way to carry her on my chest, much like today’s baby slings. She slept in a bassinet that was right beside my bed, and there were nights I would wake up and put my hand on her back, panicking a little until I could feel the rise and fall of her breathing. I never went a day without telling her I loved her, and I never went a night without reading a story and tucking her in. Perhaps I was TOO close to her, but I never wanted her to doubt my love.

The doctor was partially right. I was never able to have another child after my daughter. I tried to move on, but every year I would think about how old my first child would be if they were alive. Today, they would be 28. My daughter is 27. She is a beautiful woman with a wonderful life. I always told her growing up that she could be anything she wanted, but that all I wanted for her was happiness… I still feel that way. And she has it. That’s all a parent could ask for.”

I have thanked these beautiful women for sharing their stories, and they will be invited when I do the ritual I have written for this month’s article. It was very difficult for me to write this, as I could not stop crying the whole time. I will be blessed during this ritual as well.

I tried to think of something simple, but meaningful, and what I would want somebody to say to me for my grief over my own childlessness. I also looked to see what other liturgies I could find for women mourning loss of children, and I did not find much. I don’t ever remember hearing of such a ritual, and what little I did find was specifically for either funerals or miscarriages. I found nothing for women who are barren unless it was to pray for fertility. I found nothing for women who lost custody, as society tends to assume these women deserve that, but I’m not so quick to judge. I found a couple of Pagan prayers about miscarriage, and quite a few Catholic liturgies. I wanted to do something where the women bless and support one another, and as the women I am inviting venerate different gods and goddesses, I did not write this to be specific to honor a goddess, or to fit any one pantheon.

 

The Working

Instead of just honoring the Mother goddesses, living mothers, and mothers who have joined the ancestors, for your Winter Solstice Celebrations, I suggest a blessing for living Mothers who have lost children.

Decide if you want one officiant to act as a Priestess, or if you prefer to delegate parts and readings to multiple people, depending on the needs of your group.

You will need:

  1. One large candle for The Goddess,
  1. One candle for each child attending women have lost,
  1. A large pitcher of water, and cups to drink from.
  1. Boxes of Tissues in case anybody needs them because they are crying.

First, cast circle as you normally do, or leave the circle open as preferred.

Then light the large candle to welcome the goddess. Because of the solemnness of this rite, a silent lighting is acceptable unless you have a special way you want to welcome her.

Each woman should take the pitcher of water in her hands and bless it as she sees fit. The communal blessing is what will make this ritual powerful, as it is one another we oftentimes look to for love, and strength. Prayers, or focusing energy to bless the water as feels appropriate for each woman is acceptable.

After the water is blessed, have each woman light a single candle in honor of each child they have lost, saying the child’s name and sit all the candles in a circle around the blessed water.

The reading, as followed can be done by one person, or each person can take a part to read.

The unbreakable bond of flesh of our flesh transcends the body and mind, and unites through spirit.

Though their bodies are far from yours, their mother, your soul connection to your children is forever.

Though your life with your child ended, you are still their mother, and always will be.

Let the love of the Divine Mother who you manifest in this life fill the void the loss of your child left.

You, a vessel of life, create more than just human beings. You create life through joy, kindness, laughter healing, and love.

May the blessings that you, a reflection of the Goddess, bestow upon those around you be returned to you tenfold.

May those whose tears of sorrow you dry, dry your tears. May those who you bless with tears of joy fill you with joys beyond compare.

May the waters we have blessed heal us, wash away our sorrows, and restore things we thought our pain took from us forever.

May the Mothers mourning loss of connection with living children be reunited with them, and have a long, happy life together.

May the Mothers whose children have died be reunited with them in the place of the ancestors, if they do not reincarnate together.

May you have the love and support of other mothers around you. Know that you are never alone. You have the connection to the Divine Mother, and all Mothers on earth who embody Her.”

Next, give everybody a cup to drink of the blessed water.

Each woman will then take turns talking to their child, or children and think of something they would have done for their child. Since they can’t do that, let the Mothers take a pledge to do something for another child in honor of the child or children she has lost. It can be something as simple as babysitting for a single parent you know for free, or something as great as adopting or fostering another child who has no parents.

Next, take down circle as you normally do, and potluck.

Blessed Yule, and Blessed Be.

 

Below is more information about Somebody’s Mother.

 

From the Press Release about Somebody’s Mother-

FILMMAKER’S COMMENTS

I feel shattered, pieces of me flying everywhere. Some parts of me are back in the hospital with the ghost of Charlie. Some parts are on the other side with Charlie’s soul, floating, dancing in the light. Together the two of us, our forgotten love. The love we didn’t get to share in this lifetime because he died. My little baby died. He was born too early with a terrible infection. He became terribly septic and was suffering. We released him from his pain and took him off life support. He floated away back to the other side and he died. Some part of me is there with him. Another part is on the floor at Trader Joe’s, where I was just shopping but had to run into the bathroom, and beg God for mercy; from the pain that I was experiencing just walking through the bread aisle.

Grief showed me all its colors, textures, shapes and sizes. When I lost Charlie it felt as if I was never going to get out. One day, I had a vision in my meditation, that Charlie came and said I need to make this story, I need to talk about grief and loss and that there is a connection to the other side. He’s not lost, its just another realm. And so we began to change the script we had worked on. Making something, first by writing it down in the script, then re-enacting it out during production and finally observing it in the editing slowly allowed me to befriend the grief. The parts of my body rejoined other parts. Parts of my soul rejoined the other parts and the new fragmented me became whole again.

During a scene in our film SOMEBODY’S MOTHER I sort through a purple box, which was actually my Charlie’s baby items. These items were given to us from the hospital NICU and consisted of Charlie’s little hat, a lock of his hair, and his footprints. I hadn’t been able to go through that purple box since returning from the hospital over a year prior. I decided to go through it for the first time while we were filming. During the scene, I wept. I felt purified and cleansed. It was beyond healing, it felt shamanic. By fully embracing the pain, I somehow transcended it.

I wasn’t just doing it for me but as a way to understand others; who had or were going through this. I learnt that extreme pain forces us to leave our bodies and reconnect with something deeper than ourselves. In this process, we shatter into a million pieces destroying who we once were, our former selves; our ego identity to rebirth into a new self with new knowledge and a reconnection to “source” energy. Charlie taught me this. Making the film allowed me to fully understand it, and not become lost in the grief or hardened by it. Instead it helped me open and soften. The experience deepened my understanding that this pain is a universal experience, which ultimately made me more of who I am. — GABRIELA TOLLMAN (Director, Writer, Actor, Producer)

My sister and I were interested in exploring contrasting themes. So many women we know want to get pregnant so badly and when they do; they don’t enjoy motherhood. It’s complicated. The role of a mother; is expected of women. It is assumed that the role of a mother should come easily and feel natural, but this is not always the case. Not everyone should become a mother.

We wanted the audience to feel how lonely these two women feel. If we are disconnected from honoring loss and disconnected from pain then how do we move forward in life? If Anna had allowed herself to express the confusion as a mother, her guilt, shame and fear perhaps she could have sought help instead of walking away from her four-year old child and leaving him in a car. So many women go through postpartum depression but feel so much shame that they act out instead of seeking help. We wanted to explore these topics, these dark places that nobody really wants to see – the places that are uncomfortable for an audience to experience and yet when they do, they feel relieved that they survived and deepened their understanding along the way.– EVELYNE TOLLMAN (Writer, Actor, Producer)

 

This film is now available on Amazon. Click Image below for more information:

 

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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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